7th November 1914 Saturday
Improved our line of trenches when shelling permitted. Huns trenches only about 25 yards away. Our Commanding Officer, Major Stepney killed today. Went out for his body in the evening also recovered the body of 2nd Lieut Neville Woodroffe from no man’s land.
The following is an extract from a letter written by Neville Woodroffe 3 days before his death:
“The last two days have been ghastly. The Germans broke through the line. We have lost ten officers in the last two days and yesterday the battalion was less than 200 men, though I expect some stragglers will turn up. All the officers in my company were lost except myself. We have had no rest at all. Everyone is very shaken. I do hope we are put in reserve to reform for a few days.”
… and from a letter of condolence to his family:
“Lieutenant Woodroffe was killed (on 6th November) leading his men against the German trenches. Of the 35 men that went with him none returned. Only 2 days before he had been specially mentioned for bravery in action. He had held a position long after the rest of the Battalion had retired.”
Further extracts fron Neville Woodroffe’s leters hoime can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/inside-first-world-war/part-two/10350719/war-letters-home.html
Also killed on that day was Major Herbert Stepney who had been in command for just 18 days