- Name: James OCKENDON
- D.O.B: 10th Dec, 1890
- D.O.A: 4th Oct, 1917
- D.O.D: 29th Aug, 1966
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Sergeant, 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 29th Division
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
Broodseinde, Belgium 4 October 1917
4 October 1917
The First World War 1917
On 4 October 1917 the British launched the Battle of Broodseinde, the third stage of their advance towards Passchendaele. They attacked along a line running from the Ypres to Staden railway, west of Poelcapelle, in the north, through Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood to Tower Hamlets, west of Gheluvelt, in the south. The northern part of the battle fell in Fifth Army’s sector. North-east of Langemark Sergeant J Ockendon, 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers, distinguished himself in the assault on a German position at Chinese House and another at ’t Goed ter Vesten Farm. 9th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters and 11th Battalion The Manchester Regiment took part in the attack on Poelcapelle, east of Langemark. In this action Acting Corporal F Greaves captured a German machine-gun post and Sergeant C H Coverdale took Meunier House, a German strongpoint east of Poelcapelle, at the second attempt. 1/7th Battalion The Warwickshire Regiment attacked south of Poelcapelle. During the action Private A Hutt assumed command of his Platoon and took a German stronghold near Terrier Farm. South of here responsibility for the attack passed to Second Army. 37th, 38th, 39th and 40th Battalions of 10th Brigade, Australian Imperial Force, pushed forward north of the road running from Zonnebeke to Broodseinde. In the opening stages of the advance 37th Battalion had to deal with the German positions at Levi Cottages, just east of the road running north-west from Zonnebeke to Langemark. Here, Lance Corporal W Peeler distinguished himself by his gallantry. Further to the east, north of Broodseinde, 40th Battalion attacked Hamburg Redoubt and Sergeant L McGee captured one of the enemy pillboxes. A mile to the south, 62nd and 64th Brigades of 21st Division pushed forward east of Polygon Wood towards Reutel. During the fighting, Lieutenant Colonel L P Evans, commanding 1st Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment, captured a German pillbox near Juniper Trench which had inflicted many casualties. To the south, Captain C Robertson, attached to The Tank Corps, gave his life leading the way on foot for four tanks through the waterlogged ground around the Reutelbeek. At the furthest point south of the attack, there had already been fighting at Tower Hamlets south of the Menin Road, during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge on 20-22 September 1917 (see above). As part of the advance on 4 October, the British mounted a further assault on the German position but this went badly. In the course of the action Private T H Sage, 8th Battalion Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry), shielded other troops against the explosion of a grenade. He was so badly wounded it was thought hecould not make his way back to British lines, and was left with a revolver and the advice not to allow himself to be captured. Against all odds, he managed to crawl to safety.
For most conspicuous bravery in attack. When acting as Company Serjeant-Major and seeing the platoon on the right held up by an enemy machine gun he immediately rushed the machine gun, regardless of his personal safety, and captured it. He killed the crew with the exception of one man, who made his escape. Sjt. Ockenden however, followed him, and when well in front of the whole line killed him and returned to his company. He then led a section to the attack on a farm. Under very heavy fire he rushed forward and called upon the garrison to surrender. As the enemy continued to fire on him, he opened fire killing four, whereupon the remaining sixteen surrendered.