Sergeant Edwin Urquhart Absolon died in one of the few successful actions on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was the son of Edwin Absolon of South Luffenham, and was born at Kentish Town, London, on 1 January 1896. Before volunteering on 15 September 1914, he worked at Pontifex and Company, Shoe Lane, London, as a clerk, having come out on top of the list of London County Council school scholarships. He was also learning to become a draughtsman. He enlisted in the 10th Battalion Norfolk Regiment and tranferred to the 8th Battalion. He went out to France on 20 July 1915. Edwin died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, when, according to George Phillips, he was killed by a machine-gun bullet which struck him in the head at Pommiers Redoubt, a German stronpoint. The 8th Norfolks were part of 53rd Brigade with the objective of attacking German trenches north of Carnoy and south-west of Montauban. The Norfolks' battalion war diary describes how 1 July began calmly with tea brought up from Carnoy at 5.30am. The men's commanding officer wrote: "The demeanour of the men was admirable; an atmosphere of quiet confidence and determination prevailed amongst all ranks, which augured well for the success of the undertaking." At 7.20am British artillery opened up with an intense bombardment and then the assault began at 7.30am. The two assaulting companies moved forward in four successive waves and met with early success. "There was no rush or charge...the movement being carried out calmly, at a walking pace with methodical precision, rifles slung over right shoulder." The first German trenches were captured easily and any Germans found were "thoroughly cowed and at once surrendered." Things began to get more difficult as the advance continued and came under enfilade machine gun fire. Casualties began to mount and the two leading Companies were reduced to around 100 and 90 men. Pommiers Trench, an early objective, was taken at 10.30am despite some troops being held up by machine gun fire from another German strongpoint. It was here that Edwin was reported killed. The Norfolks eventually reached the German trench known as Montauban Alley with losses for the day of 3 officers and 102 men killed. Edwin was buried at Carnoy but it is assumed his grave was destroyed in subsequent fighting. He is remembered on Pier 1D of the Thiepval Memorial and also at South Luffenham.
See where all our Rutland soldiers died during the Battle of the Somme on our interactive map.
Do you know something about Edwin Urquhart that hasn't been mentioned?
You can add any new information and images as a contribution at the bottom of this page.