The Collection of Medals to the Cheshire and Manchester Regiments, Rifle Brigade and Royal Green Jackets formed by the late David Boniface

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Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £1,800

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500

A fine Great War D.C.M. group of five awarded to Private L. Schofield, Rifle Brigade, who was decorated for his gallantry in the “liquid fire attack” at Hooge in July 1915

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R. (B-3164 Pte. L. Schofield, 5/Rif. Bde.); 1914-15 Star (B-3164 Pte., Rif. Brig.); British War and Victory Medals (B-3164 Pte., Rif. Brig.); French Croix de Guerre 1914-1915, with bronze palm, generally good very fine (5) £1200-1500

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 14 January 1916:

‘For conspicuous gallantry. During a pause in a counter-attack, he went down the line and helped three wounded men, returning at once to his place. He did this again during another pause and finally when the attack was concluded, he crept out and brought in two wounded officers, regardless of any personal danger.’

French Croix de Guerre
London Gazette 14 February 1916.

Leonard Schofield was born in Manchester in August 1891 and enlisted in the Rifle Brigade in September 1914, and was attached to the 8th Battalion at the time of winning his D.C.M. for the ‘liquid fire attack’ at Hooge on 30 July 1915, an action that resulted in battalion casualties of nearly 500 men killed, wounded or missing - and the award of the V.C. to 2nd Lieutenant Sydney Woodroffe. An account of the action appears in
The War Record of the 8th (Service) Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, from which the following extracts have been taken:

‘About 3.15 a.m. the Germans attacked. It had already been reported that they were very active in the front and the whole front line was standing to as usual at that hour.

Part of the front line trenches were subjected to an intense bombardment which lasted only about two or three minutes, then suddenly sheets of flame broke out along the front and clouds of thick black smoke. The Germans had turned on liquid fire, apparently from hoses which had been established just in front during the night. Under cover of the flames swarms of bombers appeared on the parapet and in the rear of the lines. The mass of them had broken through and were moving right and left. The fighting became very confused and the machine guns were soon all out of action ...

Nearly all the platoons were overwhelmed and the Germans established themselves along the whole of our front, and were at once strongly reinforced by machine-guns and rifles. They then attempted to bomb down the two communication trenches, “Old Bond Street” and “The Strabd”, but were blocked about half way up and held throughout the day. From the beginning of the action Zouave Wood had been subject to a violent artillery bombardment and all communications were difficult and all telephone wires cut. Reinforcements meanwhile arrived about 9 a.m. from the Brigade in the shape of one company of the K.R.R.C.. The remains of the Battalion held the northern edge of Zouave Wood ...

At 2.45 p.m. exactly the counter-attack started: ‘D’ Company on the right advanced as if on parade. The enemy’s machine-guns and rifles had not been silenced in any way by the bombardment. The whole ground was absolutely swept by bullets. The attack was brought to a complete standstill about half way to its objective and no reinforcements could reach it. The same thing happened on the left, up “old Bond Street”. The second counter-attack failed.

The remnants of the Battalion held on to the communication trenches until dark, and the front line of Zouave Wood was gradually taken over, first by the 7th Battalion, Rifle Brigade and then by the Duke of Cornwall’s L.I.

At 2 a.m. on the 31st, the Battalion was taken out of action having suffered the following casualties:

Six officers killed, three missing (almost certainly killed), and ten wounded (19 out of 24).

Other ranks: 80 killed, 262 wounded and 132 missing (479 out of 758).

Five cases of shell shock.

Four machine-guns out of five were lost or disabled by enemy fire.

The men fought without water or rations throughout the day.’

Schofield was discharged at Winchester as a result of wounds in September 1917, but was appointed a Flight Cadet in the Royal Air Force in May 1918, from which service he was discharged for a final time in May 1919.