Robert Briggs Ormerod


Private G/19133
7th Bn, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)

Robert was the son of Thomas and Margaret Ann Ormerod, of Carlisle, Cumberland.

At the time of the 1901 Census, Robert was living at 25 London Rd, Carlisle, with his widowed mother and siblings. The details of the family, as recorded in the Census, are as follows.


25 London Rd

Census Place:

Carlisle, Cumberland, England


PRO Ref RG13; Piece 4864; Folio 154; Page 34





Margaret A. ORMEROD




Cumberland Carlisle




Living on own means





Cumberland Carlisle







Cumberland Carlisle







Cumberland Carlisle







Cumberland Wotheal





Robert was killed on 3 May 1917, during the Arras Offensive, whilst serving with 7th Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) - part of 55th Brigade, 18th (Eastern Division).

3 May 1917 was the first day of the Third Battle of the Scarpe.

The Battalion War Diary of the 7th Buffs for 3 - 4 May 1917 records:

"12 Midnight

3 Companies commenced to take up their Battle Positions as follows:-

1.    ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies - Assault Companies

        In 3 waves - 1st 2 waves in front trench

        3rd wave with 3 Platoons + Royal West Kent Regiment

        (detailed as dugout clearing parties) in shell holes

        Between front and support trench

        (NOTE - 1 Platoon R. W. Kent Reg. was allocated to right assaulting Company and 2 Platoons of R. W. Kent Reg. to left assaulting Company)

2.    ‘C’ Company - Supporting Company

        In Support Trench

3.    ‘D’ Company - Battalion Reserve

        In shell holes in rear of Support Trench

4.    Battalion Report Centre was at Gun Pits O.25.d.6.5.

The two leading waves commenced to assemble in front of the front trench at 3.15 am. This was done quietly and well in spite of darkness, the moon having set, and all were in position by 3.35 am. Being in touch with 12th Middlesex Regt. on the right and 8th East Surrey Regt. on the left.

At that time it was impossible owing to the darkness to see the lines of men until within 2 or 3 yards of them.

At ZERO Hour (3.45 am.) it was still just as dark and it was not until the Eastern edge of CHERISY was reached that it was possible to see at all distinctly.

The barrage did not start well, several batteries appearing to start prematurely, and it did not immediately become intense.

The enemy opened fairly heavy rifle and machine gun fire at once, but all Companies of the Battalion were clear of our front line before the enemy barrage commenced. When it started it was not at first very heavy, but increased to some intensity in the valley in rear of the front line, and on areas further back.

Owing to the darkness, Sections, Platoons, and Companies soon got intermingled. Before the enemy’s front trench was reached, the left of the 12 Middlesex Regt. came across the front of the right Company of the 7th Buffs., but the Company Commander of that Company managed to get the left shoulders of these men up.

Right Company Headquarters passed into CHERISY through the plantation at about O.32.b.0.8. and was at that time in touch with portions of the 12th Middlesex Regt. - and also on reaching the Main Street of CHERISY [securing N.NE.1.S.S.W?].

The O.C. right Company 7th Buffs, flanking the party of 12th Middlesex R. on his right though they were not in touch with the remainder of their Battalion, moved out of the village in a half right direction, and on reaching the bed of the SENSEE River, found that the right of the 7th Buffs was completely in the air. As he was in touch on his left, he decided to stop and throw back his right flank to the road which runs from CHERISY S.E. across the SENSEE River. Before this could be done, the right flank was attacked from CHERISY LANE and Strong Point at O.33.a.10.05. This he reported to his Battalion Headquarters and to the Battalion on his left. The message did not apparently get through to Battalion Report Centre.

Meanwhile the left Assaulting Company, reinforced by portions of the Supporting Company, had followed close to the barrage and had reached its objective on the "Blue Line" in close touch with 8th East Surrey R. on its left.,

‘D’ Company (Battalion Reserve) had halted in accordance with orders in Boche Cable Trench, as it was not desired to "put it in" in the darkness and before the situation was clear.

This Company encountered a number of Germans in the trench, killing a number, capturing 7 prisoners a Machine Guns [sic].

It became apparent however that the enemy still held a portion of the trench opposite the extreme left of the 12th Middlesex R.’s frontage so a bomb stop was established and efforts made to progress down the trench. The first attempt was repulsed by Machine Gun fire down the trench, which was perfectly straight.

Two Lewis Gun detachments were wiped out in this way.

The trench was deep and narrow, and bombing was consequently difficult.

As no impression could be made and the Battalion on the right did not advance a Stokes Gun was sent up to this Company about 6.40 am. and finally ground was gained as far as the sunken road about O.32.a.1.9.

It had become apparent from reports received that the progress made by 8th E. Surrey R. and the left of the 7th Buffs was satisfactory and that they were on the "Blue Line".

At about 6.30 am. the enemy brought a Machine Gun into "No Man’s Land" and in rear of the right of ‘D’ Company - 7th Buffs. This gun also brought fire to bear on the crest close to the Battalion Report Centre, so all spare signallers and orderlies were placed in shell holes in the vicinity to watch the flanks.

Between 7.15 am. and 7.30 am., 3 reports were received from the Assaulting Companies. Captain BLACK, commanding right Assaulting Company reported that his right was absolutely in the air, but that he was forming a defensive flank. Also that the enemy was shelling the Southern outskirts of CHERISY. This message was times 6.25 am.

Lieut. WOTTON, commanding Supporting Company reported that at 6.30 am. he was at O.33.b.5.9. and was consolidating. That he was in touch on his right with elements of ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies, 7th Buffs, and with 8th E. Surrey R. on his left. He could find no other officers of the Buffs.

2/Lieut. DONGEY, commanding Left Assaulting Company, reported that at 6.15 am. he was on railway beyond SENSEE River at O.33.a.5.1. that he had only 12 men with him and that the remainder had gone too much to the left. That he was in touch with 8th E. Surrey R. on his left and with a platoon of ‘A’ Company on his right. He was held up by a Machine Gun at O.32.b.6.3., but had a Stokes Gun dealing with this gun.

A second report from Lieut. WOTTON timed 7.0 am. stated that he was at 1st Objective and that he was in touch with 8th E. Surrey R. The enemy appeared to be forming up for a counter attack on his front and left.

This information was sent to the Brigade in a message timed 7.40 am.

Before this the O.C. 7th Royal West Kent R. arrived in the front line.

At 8.35 am. a report was sent to the Brigade giving the situation as follows:-

8.35 am. Left of 7th Buffs in touch with 8th E. Surrey R. on "Blue Line". Line of 7th Buffs runs along SENSEE River to S.E. edge of CHERISY village. Position of right doubtful owing to reported counter attack result of which has not come in. Reserve Company still in CABLE TRENCH with bomb stop about O.26.c.2.1., beyond which point to its right trenches held by enemy. Captain LONGBOURNE is now in our original front line with 2 Companies 7th Queens. 7th R. W. Kent R. (less 2 Platoons and H.Q.) have moved forward. Assaulting Battalion on right of 7th Buffs has not moved forward yet from original front line.

9.0 am. At 9.0 am. the following report was sent to the Brigade and repeated to O.C. 7th Queens:-

Captain BLACK , O.C. Right Company 7th Buffs reports that right of Buffs still in the air and protected only be very weak posts and open to attack from CHERISY Lane and Strong Point at O.33.a.10.05.

Original advance reached point O.33.a.10.05., but owing to no troops being upon right, the ground was lost.

9.30 am. About 09.30 am. an officer sent from Battalion Headquarters to find out the situation on 54th Infantry Brigade Front found a fresh attack in progress. No success was achieved and the right flank of 55th Infantry Brigade was thus not relieved.

9.40 am. At 9.40 am. a message was received from O.C. 7th Queens stating the Brigadier directed 1 Company 7th Queens to move forward and take the place of 1 Company 7th Buffs in CABLE TRENCH, latter Coy to move forward to support remainder of 7th Buffs. This message directed Captain LONGBOURNE to move forward ‘A’ Company 7th Queens for this purpose.

It was thereupon decided to move this Company forward by the left of the Brigade front and gradually withdraw ‘D’ Coy 7th Buffs and send them forward. The commencement of their operation was delayed by the fact that ‘A’ Coy 7th Queens was on the right of the line and had consequently a long distance to go in moving to the left. Movement was very difficult near the top of the ridge where this company was, owing to Machine Gun fire.

At about this time a message was received from the 55th Infantry Brigade as follows:- Timed 9.35 am. Situation of 54th Infantry Brigade still obscure; they have not reached the "Blue Line". 7th Buffs must form a defensive front facing right.

Almost simultaneously with this a message was received directing 7th Buffs and 8th E. Surrey R. to advance to the "Red Line" and 7th R. W. Kent R. to consolidate the "Blue Line".

11.0 am. About 11.0 am. reports were received that a general retirement was taking place, and it soon became apparent that the whole line was coming back. The enemy established an intense bombardment our front line system and of the valley in rear and his Machine Gun fire was heavy.

CABLE TRENCH was by this time full of men in addition to ‘D’ Coy 7th Buffs, but owing to the fact that the enemy and our troops were hopelessly intermingled, it was impossible to fire at the enemy except on occasions.

Those men who passed through CABLE Trench on the way back were rallied by a number of officers in our front and support line and those who passed through these trenches were rallied in the valley, and came forward to the trenches again. In half an hour the trenches were strongly held, and the situation well in hand. As regards the evacuation of CABLE Trench, Lieut. FINE, commanding ‘D’ Coy 7th Buffs, states the retirement commenced on the left and became general until his Company alone remained. Finding himself isolated he withdrew slowly in extended order to our original line.

The enemy shell fire continued very heavy well into the afternoon, but otherwise the situation became normal.

2.0 pm. About 2.0 pm. Battalions were reorganised as much as possible.

3.0 pm. By this time the enemy shell fire had died down completely, except for a few rounds directed on the Quarry in N.30.b.

5.35 pm. At 5.30 pm. Orders were received that the 7th Queens would attack, with a barrage, and capture CABLE Trench, then Fontaine Trench and the southern portion of the village.

ZERO Hour was given as 6.15 pm. And heavy shelling was to start at 05.30 and continue to 6.0 pm. The 7th Queens formed up in our front line, the 7th Buffs in Support Trench, from which they were to advance into the front line trench as soon as the Queens attacked.

During these preparations no preparatory shelling took place, and at 6.15 pm. no barrage opened. The 7th Queens, therefore, did not leave their trenches.

6.10 pm. At 6.10 pm. a message arrived from Brigade stating that ZERO Hour was postponed 1 Hour i.e. 7.15 pm.

7.15 pm. At 7.15 pm. the 7th Queens attacked under cover of open barrage; the 7th Buffs immediately occupied the front line as arranged.

Owing to heavy Machine Gun and Rifle Fire, the attack did not succeed, and by dark the 7th Queens were back in our lines.

The 7th Buffs manned the front line during the night3/4.

The night passed quietly, as also the next day.

        Casualties of 7th Buffs during 3rd and 4th of May were:

        Killed, wounded and missing

                Officers - 12

                Other Ranks - 368"

Robert has no known grave and his name is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

The Soldiers Died in the Great War Database records Robert as Robert Briggs Omerod. It notes that he was born and resided in Carlisle, Cumberland, where he also enlisted in the Army.

Prior to joining 7th Bn, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), Robert served as Private 2726, with 31st Bn, Royal Fusiliers.

Robert's name on the Arras Memorial

Area of the 7th Buffs Advance - 3 May 1917 - showing German Trench Names (from British Trench Map 20-51BSW&SE+57CNW&NE-2B-260617-Hendecourt)