A Local Hero

March 13, 2015

Samuel Lemon DCM (1875-1953)

Samuel was the 2nd son of George Thomas and Eliza Lemon of East Orchard. George Thomas was born in West Orchard and was baptised there on 17th, September, 1843. He was the illegitimate son of Jane Lemon, through what appears to have been an incestuous relationship with her brother, Thomas.
George Thomas preferred his Thomas Christian name and on the 15th, December, 1866, at the age of 23, he married Eliza Dibben, a 22 year old spinster from Fontmell Magna.
By the time of the 1881 census, Thomas and Eliza were living at East Orchard and had 6 children, as follows:-

Name Age Occupation Where born
George T. 37 Agricultural Labourer West Orchard
Eliza 37 Fontmell
Emma J. 15
Henry John 12
Alice E. 7 Hollins, Unsworth, Lancs
Samuel 5
George T. 3
Sarah A. 1

It is apparent that the family lived in Lancashire, near Bury, for a few years during the second half of the 1870’s, which was where Samuel was born and it is recorded that he was born in the last quarter of 1875.

By 1891, the family was living back in Dorset at East Orchard as follows:-

Name Age Occupation Where born
George T. 47 General Labourer West Orchard
Eliza 47 Fontmell
Henry John 22 Agricultural Labourer
Samuel 15 “            “ Hollins, Unsworth, Lancs
George T. 13
Sarah A. 11
William P. 8 Scholar East Orchard
Charles 4

 

It seems that Samuel wanted more than a life as an Agricultural Labourer and so he decided to escape by joining the army.
14th, May, 1894.   At the age of 18½ he joined the army and enlisted at Dorchester. He enlisted into the 2nd Battalion, the Scots Regiment of Foot Guards. His service number was 414.
At the time of his enlistment he was 5’-8½” tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He was described as being of the Weslyan faith. He had a small scar over his left eye.
November, 1897. Now based in the regiment’s barracks in Chelsea, London, it seems that he was experiencing some of the pleasures of life, but with bad consequences. He was admitted to hospital with a dose of gonorrhoea.
5th, March, 1898.   He is doing well and is promoted to Corporal.
16th, August, 1898.   Five months later and he now finds himself in trouble and convicted of an ‘Act to the prejudice of good order and military discipline’. As a result he is reduced to the ranks and becomes a private again.

Boer War, South Africa.

15th, March, 1900.   Now life as a soldier gets serious and the battalion embark for almost 2½ years fighting in South Africa in the Boer War.
The 2nd Battalion joined with the 1st Battalion and became known as ‘Rundle’s Greyhounds’. They served in the general area of the town of Harrismith, fighting against elusive Boer commandos.
10th, January, 1901.   Promoted to Lance Corporal.
23rd, January, 1901.   Extended his service to 12 years.
2nd, August, 1902.   Promoted to Corporal.
27th, October, 1902.   Return to England and the Chelsea barracks at St.George, Hanover Square in London.

 

The Queen's South Africa Medal

The Queen’s South Africa Medal, awarded to all those who served in the Boer War until its end in 1902

Sam Lemon - Boer War Uniform

Sam Lemon – Boer War Uniform

 


Peacetime

Sam Lemon - Scots Guards Dress Uniform

Sam Lemon – Scots Guards Dress Uniform

19th, December, 1902.   Promoted to Lance Sergeant.
21st, February, 1903.   Samuel marries Priscilla Jane Plowman at St.Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise, Wandsworth, London. Sam is now aged 27 and Priscilla is aged 32; a girl born in Marnhull, Dorset, the daughter of Henry & Agnes Plowman.
29th, March, 1904.   Sam now re-enlisted for 21 years service.
22nd, December, 1906. He now resigns his position as Lance Sergeant; reverting to the rank of Corporal.
April, 1911.   The census lists both Sam and Priscilla living at the barracks in Chelsea, but with no children.
16th, March, 1912.   It seems that there had been some time spent in study and gaining qualifications in engineering and passing an ambulance class.
27th, August, 1913. Sam is injured whilst attending with an ambulance, when the horses suddenly bolted. He suffered a broken right tibia and spent 23 days in hospital. An inquiry found that he was on duty at the time and in no way to blame for the accident.
1st, October, 1914.   Awarded the long service and good conduct medal.

First World War.

5th, October, 1914.   Embarkation to France.
10th, March, 1915.   The Battalion now found itself about to become involved in what became known as the battle of Neuve Chapelle.
Neuve Chapelle was the first large scale organised attack undertaken by the British army during the war. It followed the miserable winter operations of 1914-15. More Divisions had now arrived in France and the BEF was now split into two Armies. Neuve Chapelle was undertaken by Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army. The attack at Neuve Chapelle was an entirely British affair – the French saying that until extra British divisions could relieve them at Ypres, they had insufficient troops in the area to either extend of support the action.
Neuve Chapelle village lies on the road between Béthune, Fleurbaix and Armentières, near its junction with the Estaires – La Bassée road. The front lines ran parallel with the Béthune-Armentières road, a little way to the east of the village. Behind the German line is the Bois de Biez. The ground here is flat and cut by many small drainage ditches. A mile ahead of the British was a long ridge – Aubers Ridge – barely 20 feet higher than the surrounding area but giving an observation advantage. Some 25km to the south, this flat area is overlooked by the heights at Vimy Ridge. The German lines in the immediate vicinity were very lightly defended. The night before the attack was wet, with light snow, which turned to damp mist on 10 March.
The attack was undertaken by Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army, with Rawlinson’s IV Corps on the left and Willcock’s Indian Corps on the right, squeezing out a German salient that included the village itself. The battle opened with a 35 minute bombardment of the front line, then 30 minutes on the village and reserve positions. The bombardment, for weight of shell fired per yard of enemy front, was the heaviest that would be fired until 1917. Although a British affair, Indian soldiers made up half of the attacking force and despite suffering heavy casualties, succeeded in capturing important sections of the German line.
Captain W.G. Bagot-Chester MC, 2/3rd Ghurka Rifles, Gharwal Brigade, Meerut Division wrote
‘At 7.30am the artillery bombardment commenced, and never since history has there been such a one. You couldn’t hear yourself speak for the noise. It was a continual rattle and roar. We lay very low in our trenches, as several of our guns were firing short’.
On the 10th, March, 1915, the Battalion were held in reserve, but at 04.00 on the 11th, March, they were ordered up to prepare to attack in support of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards towards Aubers at 07.00. Having lost a few men to shells bursting, the advance began at 07.10. After advancing about 1,000 yards under heavy fire and over several lines of trenches and some wide and deep ditches, the advance was held up. The lines of troops had become intermingled and had caught up with the Grenadier Guards. The troops remained in this position for the rest of the day, digging themselves in as best they could under fairly heavy shell fire and some rifle fire. The Battalion lost two officers and about 50 men. An intermittent shell fire continued through the night and became rather heavy at about 04.00.
12th, March, 1915, at 04.15, the Battalion moved off along the Neuve Chapelle – Fauquissart road to a captured communication trench. The orders were to capture a fort and a house and it became apparent that the fort would have to be reduced first, as the house was some 300 yards beyond it. The attack was to have been postponed until 12.30, but the message was not received owing to the messengers being killed en route. The attack was launched at 10.30 without the benefit of artillery preparation. The Battalion crossed a ditch with some difficulty and advanced 150 yards before being held up by a heavy machine gun and rifle fire. Three officers and about 100 men were lost during the advance.
At about 11.30, the British artillery opened up and shelled the enemy’s first position very heavily and with great accuracy for about 2 hours. As a consequence, white flags began to appear from their positions. The Battalion advanced to the captured position and captured about 300 prisoners. Casualties were 3 officers and over 100 men. Further advance was thwarted by heavy machine gun and rifle fire and so the Battalion consolidated its gains and remained in the fort and the captured trenches until dark and then withdrew before daylight.
14th, March, 1915. At 04.00 the Battalion moved up to occupy a breastworks (sic) but on reaching there, found that there was not enough room and so returned to Cameren Lane and then, at 20.00, into billets at Leventie. Total losses during the operations were 6 officers and 192 other ranks. A notable feature of the operations was the great gallantry displayed by those responsible for attending to the wounded. Captain Houston, the RAMC officer attached to the Battalion, assisted by two of the Battalion’s stretcher bearers, 414 Corporal S. Lemon and 6608 Private J. Litster were conspicuous in this respect, working day and night, often under a heavy fire.

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Samuel Lemon was in fact wounded during the action, receiving a gun shot wound to his right thigh.
The wound effectively ended his army career. He was wounded on the 12th, March, and by the 22nd, he was back home and being treated in hospital.
His gallantry earned him a citation, which was published in the London Gazette on the 3rd, June, 1915, and which read
Corporal S. Lemon, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards – For gallant conduct and devotion to duty at Neuve Chapelle from 10th – 14th, March, 1915. In dressing the wounded under fire and directing the stretcher bearers. He was himself wounded whilst performing this duty’.
For this he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Sam Lemon - after his promotion

Sam Lemon – after his promotion

2nd, November, 1915.   Promoted to Sergeant.
13th, May, 1916.   After 22 years service, (just in time to miss the carnage of the Somme) Samuel Lemon was finally discharged. At the age of 40 years and 5 months, his service and military character was described as Exemplary. His discharge address was given as 9, West Orchard, Dorset.
Samuel lost two brothers killed in action during the war, Gunner Charles Lemon died in February, 1916, aged 29, and Private Alfred Henry Lemon died in July, 1918, aged 34.

 

 

1914 Star awarded 11th April 1919

1914 Star awarded 11th April 1919

British War & Victory Medals awarded 1st March 1920

British War & Victory Medals awarded 1st March 1920

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1926. At the time of the Glyn sale, Samuel had come to live in Fontmell at 54, West Street.
12th April 1941. A strong muster of the Home Guard was present under Sergeant-Major S. Lemon and Quarter-Master-Sergeant W. G. Hoddinott at the funeral of Armand Cannell.
Armand became a Lance Corporal following enlistment into the 51st Divisional Provost Company of the Corps of Military police. He was killed in a motor accident on the 5th, April, 1941, aged only 26. He lies buried in the Churchyard of Fontmell.
14th, January, 1942.   Samuel formally retired from the Home Guard.
13th, March, 1942.   HOME GUARD OFFICER’S RETIREMENT. It was reported in the Western Gazette that Second–Lieut. S. Lemon D.C.M., (now aged 66), who recently retired from the Home Guard, has received a letter from the G.O.C. Southern Command expressing his thanks for the valuable work he has done. 2nd-Lieut. Lemon served for 22 years in the Scots Guards and took part in the Boer War, and the Great War until wounded and invalided home. He was awarded the D.C.M. for gallant conduct in bringing in wounded under very heavy shell fire.

The Fontmell Magna Home Guard 1940-1942

The Fontmell Magna Home Guard 1940-1942 (in front of the school)

People identified in the photo from left to right:-
Back row – Harold Wooldridge, Jim Winskill, Fred Moore, Alan Green, Frank Bradley, Wilf Iles, unknown, Albie Roberts, Harold Roberts, Reg Cannell.
Middle row – Mr Joyce, Walter Cooper, Albert Roberts, Les Brown, Bill Bridle, Pat Barrat, Mr Harding, William (Bill) Ford, Mr Green, Jack Ball, John Roberts, unknown.
Seated – Mr Fuller, Bert Shute, George Payne, Sgt Ron Millard, Col. Waldron Harold Fletcher Kelly D.S.O. of Pipers Mill, Bill Hoddinott, Stan Merrifield, Ernie Christopher, Charlie Andrews.
Front row (cross legged) – George Spicer, Mr Dominey, Joe Brown, Mr Edwards, Ivor Gillet, Mr Kelly.

(Please contact the Society if you can name someone else in the photo)

Sam Lemon's House, 54 West Street

54 West Street

8th, December, 1949.   Jane (It seems that she dropped her Priscilla forename) died and was buried in the churchyard at

Fontmell Magna. She was aged 78 years.
25th, December, 1953.   Samuel died in Salisbury Infirmary at the age of 78 and was buried with Jane in the Churchyard at Fontmell Magna.
24th, March, 1954.   Samuel’s will was proved, when it is recorded that he was still living at 54, West Street. His estate was valued at £910-8s-10d (the equivalent of £22,850 at present day values).

 

Samuel Lemon's grave

Samuel Lemon’s grave

Samuel Lemon's Tombstone

Samuel Lemon’s tombstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Dave Hardiman