"Souviens Toi"
The following four would like to remember our Great Uncle Mark "Mickie" Wells who perished at Fricourt on the Somme battlefront in 1918 just over 2 months before the end of the Great War!
In age order we are...
  • Andrew E Lander Stow
  • Julian Stow
  • Nick Carter
  • Robin Carter
A brief resume
Andy lives in Ivybridge in the picturesque South Hams area of South Devon and is an engineer an IT Specialist and the webmaster of this page
Julian is a Dental Mechanic living in Haddenham in Bucks
Nick is a Motorcycle Engineer and lives in Bicester as does his brother
Robin who is a garage proprietor. The eldest of us is 56 this year (2008).
Two Months ago it was brought to my attention that our Grandmother's brother Mark "Mickie" Wells was buried in the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetary at Montauban-de-Picardie. A bit of research by me and some scanning of old family records left by our Grandfather, allowed us to get Mickie's birth certificate and find out he was born on St Valentine's day in 1892.
This has led us to book a trip to visit his grave at Montauban on the 14th February 2008. This would of course be the 116th anniversay of his birth!

Great Uncle Mickie in his uniform
So let's set the record straight...
Mark Wells was born at 8 Slipper's Place, Rotherhithe (London - South of the Thames near Southwark Park) on February 14th 1892.
His Father - our maternal Great Grandfather - was also Mark Wells and a serving Metropolitan Police Office - and a well respected one according to the papers when he retired.
His Mother was Louisa E Wells nee Finley

Mark Wells - Father of Mickie
We then only know that he served as a footman at Stoke Place, a hotel in Stoke Poges, and that he signed up to fight in the war at Watford. We do not, as yet, know when.
Name: WELLS, Mark
Regiment, Corps etc.: Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Battalion etc.: 6th Battalion.
Last name: Wells
First name(s): Mark
Initials: M
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, Surrey
Enlisted: Watford, Herts
Residence: Welwyn, Herts
Number: T/265942
Date died: 27-Aug-18
How died: Killed in action
Theatre of war: France & Flanders
You will note that he joined the 6th Battalion of the Queen's - the Royal West Surrey Regiment. This was the second most senior regiment of the British Army.
The 6th Battalion was formed at Guildford in August 1914 as part of "Kitchener's Men" or "K1" standing for, the Minister of War, Kitchener's call for 100,000 men to enlist. In August 1914 it was attached to the 37th Brigade, 12th Eastern Division. The history of this Division can be found here.
At the moment we have no idea of when Great Uncle "Mickie" signed up so we do not know how much of the war he fought in. As he was 22 when the war started I presume he signed up when the "jingoism" was at it's highest in 1914! so the reading of the Battalion's history is fairly pertinent to this story.

Gt Uncle Mickie 3rd from right out side Stoke Place

A younger Mickie

"Jack the Lad" in civvy clothes

The 2nd dog tag returned to the family (made from stamped leather). The 1st tag would have been buried with Mickie
Ironically the "Ace of Spades" appears to have been the 12th Division's symbol. The Ace of Spades is also considered as the "Card of Death"!
So, what else do we know....
Courtesy of http://www.1914-1918.net/12div.htm
"The Battle of Albert (first phase of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918) Under the command of III Corps and on the left flank of this Corps front along the River Ancre, the Division generally played only a holding role on 8 August 1918 when Fourth Army made its great attack. However, German withdrawal from the Ancre and from Dernancourt being observed before the attack took place, 35 Brigade - on the Division's right - became involved. The 7/Norfolk and 9/Essex advanced to their objectives, consolidating a new line from the west of Morlancourt to the Ancre, but the Cambridgeshires on the right were held up by heavy fire from the Sailly Laurette road. The battalion renewed its attack later in the day, assisted by a tank, and achieved its objectives, capturing 316 enemy, 14 machine guns and 10 mortars. 37 Brigade took up this attack later on 9 August and succeeded in further captures. By the evening of 10 August the old Amiens defence line had been recaptured: in all the Division had by now advanced almost two miles. After a brief rest, the Division attacked again on 22 August, pushing right across the wilderness of the old Somme battlefield, capturing Meaulte, Mametz, Carnoy, Hardecourt and Faviere Wood, which was reached after a week's continuous fighting. The Division had made an advance of another 15000 yards. It was relieved on 30 August by 47th (London) Division and moved back to the Carnoy-Briqueterie area."
On the 27th August 1918 Great Uncle Mark "Mickie" Wells died in Fricourt aged just 26 years old. On that day his comrades were pushing on from Maricourt to Favier's Wood (Bois de Faviers) and on to Hardecourt and therefore we must assume that Mickie was wounded previously and died of those wounds in Fricourt. He is the only one of his Battalion to be buried at Montauban-de-Picardie. Link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Medals awarded to Mark "Mickie" Wells

The paper cutting from Thame, Oxon, reporting his death. This is where I got the unusual spelling of his nickname.
So, we're off to France to visit his grave on the 116th anniversary of his birth.
The itinerary is as follows....

11th February 2008 - Monday

Drive from Plymouth to Bicester to pick Nick and Robin up
Drive to Haddenham to collect Julian
Drive to Ashford to catch the Eurotunnel to Coquelles
Stay in the B&B Hotel in Coquelles and have a meal in the Buffalo Grill nearby

12th - Tuesday

Visit Ypres/Ieper to see "Flanders Fields Museum", Menin Gate, the Yorkshire Trench, "Plug Street" and other places nearby http://www.ypressalient.co.uk/Places%20of%20Interest.htm
Travel to Amiens to stay for 2 nights in the B&B Hotel in Longueau.
Meal in the Buffalo Grill nearby

13th - Wednesday

Visit the Somme Battle Area. Including, Lochnagar Crater, The Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneaux, The Newfoundland Regiment Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel, The Trench War Museum at Albert, Thiepval and more if the time permits.

14th - Thursday

Visit Gt Uncle Mark "Mickie" Wells's grave at Montauban-de-Picardie.

Return to "Blighty".
To see the Diary of our trip please "Click Here"
Contact: Andy 01752 895362 or