- Name: Fred GREAVES
- D.O.B: 16th May, 1890
- D.O.A: 4th Oct, 1917
- D.O.D: 8th Jun, 1973
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Acting Corporal, 9th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment)
- 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, initiative and leadership, when his platoon was temporarily held up by machine-gun fire from a concrete stronghold. Seeing that his platoon commander and serjeant were casualties, and realising that unless this post was taken quickly his men would lose the barrage, Cpl. Greaves, followed by another non-commissioned officer, rushed forward regardless of his personal safety, reached the rear of the building and bombed the occupants, killing or capturing the garrison, and taking four enemy machine-guns. It was solely due to the personal pluck, dash and initiative of this non-commissioned officer that the assaulting line at this point was not held up, and that our troops escaped serious casualties. Later in the afternoon, at a most critical period of the battle, when the troops of a flank brigade had given way temporarily under a heavy counter-attack and when all the officers in his company were casualties, this gallant non-commissioned officer quickly grasped the situation. He collected his men, threw out extra posts on the threatened flank, and opened up rifle and machine-gun fire to enfilade the advance. The effect of Cpl. Greaves’ conduct on his men throughout the battle cannot be over-estimated, and those under his command responded gallantly to his example.