2/Lt Albert Straker, 7th Northumberland Fusiliers

2nd Lt Straker – an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary events

Lt Straker had earlier survived the debacle of High Wood on 15/16 September 1916 when the 50th Division was ordered to advance with its right flank wide open because the 47th London Division attacking alongside had [quite understandably] been unable to capture the hellish Wood. Nor had tanks been able to make any progress through the bloody mess. It had been hoped that the German trenches to the immediate North of High Wood would offer less resistance. It was equally predicted that General Haig would call a halt for the Somme campaign over the Winter, following the successful assault known as the Battle of Morval on 25 September. Neither hope was realised. The Somme campaign went on because Haig and his staff believed the Germans were on the verge of cracking. This meant abandoning the high ground in favour of occupying the dip before the Flers Lines, even though the weather was all too obviously breaking in October.

On 3rd October 50th Division was holding the recently captured Flers Lines. 7 NF was sent up to relieve the attackers. The position on the right was mysterious but elements of 47th Division were said be be holding the position with a series of bombing posts. During the night the support trenches were continually shelled by 4.9″ guns. This was unfortunate because as there was only sufficient room for two companies in the portion of the Flers Reserve Line allotted to 7 NF, the bulk of the men were gathered in those support trenches. It is highly likely that 2/Lt Straker was killed at this juncture in Durham Trench.

2/Lt Straker was in Durham Trench when the German artillery opened up

The Battalion Diary reveals that 2/Lt Straker was killed along with 10 other ranks. 2/Lt G Mouatt was wounded. Albert Straker and the men who died with him are remembered on Pier 10 B 1 of the Thiepval Memorial

Source: WO 95 Battalion Diary of 7th Northumberland Fusliiers

E Wyrrall History of the 50th Division