Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Private Jesse Barnes, 5th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, was reported as missing during the Battle of Delville Wood.
A cotton-weaver by trade, and an active member of the Furthergate Congregational Church, he enlisted in the army in November of 1914. His regiment was part of Kitchener’s new Army and came under orders of 42nd Brigade, in the 14th Light Division.
Private Barnes’ battalion embarked to France in May of 1915. The following month they took part in the battle at Hooge in Belgium – during which the Germans first used the flammenwerfer (flamethrower) – and later they took part in the failed attack at Bellewaarde.
In July of 1916, Private Barnes was involved in the Battle of Delville Wood. The fighting was described as vicious, with the South Africans suffering many casualties. At the end of July the 2nd Division had renewed the assault on the wood, and a week later the 17th Division pushed the British line forward. On the 28th of August, the 14th Division had managed to force out all but a few of the German defenders. Private Barnes was reported missing the following day, but it was not until the February of 1917 that he was confirmed as having been killed in action. His body was never found. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
Jesse, from Blackburn, was 34 years old.