2nd September 1917 Sunday

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“On September 2nd the enemy shelled our positions very heavily especially the battery positions behind us. They succeeded in blowing up a dump of over a hundred 9.2 shells. There was a terrific crash which shook the whole canal bank. It gave us all a fright, including the colonel who left for Proven in the afternoon for a rest! Needless to say we had numerous casualties to attend to including Col. Philpots, the Chief Engineer of the division, and Capt. Stanley, the 13th Royal Welsh Fusilier Medical Officer. Both were hit in the chest.”

Lieutenant- Colonel Brian “Broo” Surtees Phillpotts R.E. died of his injuries two days later, on the 4th of September, he was 42 years old. Due to his innovative abilities as an engineer “Broo” Phillpotts would have been sorely missed.

He was appointed chief Royal Engineer to the 38th Division during the Somme offensive, where he was slightly wounded. Mentioned in despatches three times, his bravery was without question. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) at the beginning of 1917.

Amongst many other things Colonel Phillpotts was responsible for providing the tramways that serviced the front line during the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

The following is from the reminiscences of the Somme from Capt. A.C. Sparkes R.E

“After repeated attacks had failed to capture Fricourt, and whilst a bombardment of the village was taking place, [Major Phillpotts] got out of our front-line trench and waved his hat. Finding no one shot at him, he walked across, in the open, to a point two hundred yards in front of Fricourt Farm, an enemy strong point. Again finding no one shot him on his waving his hat, he returned to our line and sent this message to Divisional Headquarters ‘Only thing stopping our Infantry entering Fricourt is our artillery barrage!”

Lt.Col. B.S. Phillpotts D.S.O., R.E. (By Acrestreet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By Acrestreet – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49276691

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

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