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Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 16:54

Below are snippets of information about the 'last man to walk out of Delville Wood'. The first contribution comes from Kevin Burge and the second is by Pat Rundgren (an excerpt from the book Dundee Men At War).

Before the end of the "Great War" of 1914-1918, Dundee High School had lost twenty of its old scholars and three of its staff members to the vicissitudes of battle. One scholar, Capt Garnet George Green, who had passed the Annual Collective Examination in 1903 at Dundee, was awarded the Military Cross for having, “held the whole wood [Delville Wood] with 118 men (of his B Company of the Second Regiment), the whole day against three German Divisions.” He had been born in Dundee in 1889 and after school he joined the Natal Carbineers as a trooper. He saw action during the Bambatha Rebellion of 1906 and also in German South West Africa in 1914 - 1915. From January to March 1916 he served (like his schoolmate Russel Tatham) with the 2nd South African Regiment against the Senussi in Egypt.

In the Battle of Delville Wood (15 July–3 September 1916), with the South African Infantry, he was wounded and on 20 July he was "the last [man] to leave the trench when relief arrived. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in January 1918; but on 23 March 1918, he was killed in action at Arras". Brigadier-General Tanner recommended Lt. Green for the DSO (Distinguished Service Order), but instead he was awarded a bar to his MC and the Prime Minister of South Africa, General Louis Botha, praised him in the South African parliament. This brave man has no known grave but his name is recorded on the wall of the Pozières Memorial and, of course, on the Cenotaph in his hometown, Dundee. - Kevin Burge

* * * 

Garnet Green was the nephew of Henry Pybus Handley, founder of the outfitting firm Handley and Sons and later the Umvoti Trading Company. He was a member of the First Town Board.

2nd Lieutenant, “C” Company, 3rd SAI, Delville Wood. Wounded in action 18 July. Awarded the Military Cross for “exemplary work” in Delville Wood. Awarded bar to M.C. for services at Arras, 12 April 1917, for voluntarily reconnoitring ground under heavy machine gun fire. On 20 September he again reconnoitred front lines, together with Corporal Eddie Fritz MM.

Garnet Green was wounded in but survived the epic battle of Delville Wood, near the village of Longueval. The South African Brigade was given the order to hold the wood at all costs. They entered it on 15 July 1916. By the time they were relieved on 20 July only 18 officers and 702 other ranks were left of the 3 155 men who had gone into the wood five days earlier.

To give some idea of the conditions under which they fought, on 17 July it was estimated that some 400 enemy shells per minute fell on the wood, only a few acres in extent. According to a German account, “the wood was a wasteland of shattered trees, charred and burning stumps, craters thick with mud and blood and corpses everywhere. In places they were piled 4 deep. Worst of all was the moaning of the wounded”.

Promoted Captain January 1918.

Garnet Green was killed in action commanding “B” Company at Gauche Wood 22 March 1918 while holding up a German advance with the remnants of his Company in front of Heudicourt Quarry. He was said to have been “universally popular – all he did was unobtrusive and unpretentious. There was no chance of withdrawing and he was killed, fighting to the last”. Pat Rundgren


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