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Private Graham Charles Hines Bulford (1895-1916): Soldier killed at the Somme

Part hidden by a spangle of dotted vegetation in a grove alongside one of the inner pathways close to the boundary between the two cemeteries lies the Bulford family grave.

The son of Charles and Ada Bulford of 57 Adelaide Avenue, Brockley (lying opposite the green expanse of Hilly Fields) Graham’s name appears in a 1911 London Gazette post as a Temporary Boy Clerk before he enlisted as a private in the 2nd Battalion, Eastern Ontario Regiment, Canadian Infantry (Canadian Expeditionary Force) Service number: 444226. He died in action on the Somme, aged just 21 on 12th October 1916.

Canadian Soldiers Fixing Bayonets Before An Attack On The Somme
The following extract on Canadians on the Somme is from the Veterans Affairs Canada website.
The Battle of the Somme was not a one day affair and the fighting continued, notably with a largely successful dawn attack by the British on July 14, through the summer months. In late August 1916, the "Byng Boys" moved from the muddy fields of Flanders to the Somme, where they took over a section of the front line west of the village of Courcelette. They ran into heavy fighting and suffered some 2,600 casualties before the full-scale offensive even got underway.

In the major offensive which began at dawn on September 15 the Canadian Corps, on the extreme left of the attack, assaulted on a 2,000 metre sector west of the village of Courcelette. Advancing behind a creeping barrage (a tactic which had recently been introduced by the British, a consequence of adequately trained gunners, more and better guns and more reliable ammunition), the infantry was aided by the "new engine of war," the armoured tank. There were only a few of these and they were extremely unreliable and very vulnerable to artillery fire. However, at this early stage of the war their sheer presence often threw the enemy into confusion. The attack went well. By 8 a.m., the main objective, a defence bastion known as the Sugar Factory, was taken, and the Canadians pushed ahead to Courcelette. Numerous German counter-attacks were successfully repulsed and by the next day the position was consolidated. The enemy then brought up reinforcements, the fighting intensified, and gains became microscopic.
Canadian Recruitment Poster

In the weeks that followed the three Canadian divisions again and again attacked a series of German entrenchments. The final Canadian objective was that "ditch of evil memory," Regina Trench. It repeatedly defied capture, and when the first three divisions were relieved in the middle of October, Regina Trench was closer, but still not taken.

When the newly arrived 4th Division took its place in the line it faced an almost unbelievable ordeal of knee-deep mud and violent, tenacious, enemy resistance. However, despite the almost impenetrable curtain of fire, on November 11 the Division captured Regina Trench—to find it reduced to a mere depression in the chalk. A week later, in the final attack of the Somme, the Canadians advanced to Desire Trench—a remarkable feat of courage and endurance. The 4th Division then rejoined the Corps opposite Vimy Ridge.

There were no further advances that year. The autumn rains turned the battlefield into a bog and the offensive staggered to a halt. The line had been moved forward only ten kilometres, though ground of itself was not particularly important except in terms of morale. The Allies had suffered some 650,000 casualties, and both sides had about 200,000 killed. The Germans refer to the Battle of the Somme as das Blutbad—the blood bath. One German officer described the Somme as "the muddy graveyard of the German Army," for the British it turned an army of eager, inexperienced recruits into a fighting machine on a par with those of France and Germany, but at a terrible cost in human life.

The Somme had cost Canada 24,029 casualties, but it was here that the Canadians confirmed their reputation as hard-hitting shock troops. "The Canadians," wrote Lloyd George, "played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as storm troops; for the remainder of the war they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."
Second Canadian cemetery at Sunken Road, Contalmaison ( Somme, France) in which Private Bulford whose death age 21 was recorded as 12th October 1916 lies buried. He is also remembered on the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Canada.