A Superb, Classic & Historically ImportantMILITARY CROSSWar Medal & Victory Medal'1st DAY, BATTLE OF THE SOMME'07:40am, Saturday, 1st JULY 1916.Won during the vicious fighting of the famous 1st Day action at Beaumont Hamel & the massive German strongpoint of Hawthorn Redoubt" To: Temp 2/Lt FERDINAND EDWARD REISS. 18th (Public Schools) Battalion, att' 2nd Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS.(The London Regiment)LATER ROYAL AIR FORCE ( Electrical Engineering ). Who was "SERIOUSLY WOUNDED" in action in the assault on the German line at the famous Hawthorn Redoubt and Beaumont Hamel crater.[CITATION] LONDON GAZETTE. 22nd September 1916 (Page 9280) FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY IN ACTION. AFTER HIS CAPTAIN HAD BEEN KILLED HE LED HIS COMPANY, AND CONTINUED TO URGE ON THE MEN TILL HE WAS BADLY WOUNDED HIMSELF. HE REMAINED OUT ALL NIGHT REFUSING TO LEAVE HIS MEN. Only 208 Military Crosses were awarded for the actions of 1st July 1916 and these are very seldom seen on the market as they are most covetously owned either by the families of the recipients or by serious collectors. I've seen perhaps six come up for sale in almost 40 years of full time business. This award is a true classic and was won in the very heat of battle at one of the best known locations of The Great War and during one of the most famous days in British Military history.
(HISTORY OF THE ACTION) The officers and men of 2nd Bn Royal Fusiliers had gathered, ready for " the big push" in the famous Sunken Lane near the German stronghold of HAWTHORN REDOUBT. This sunken lane is the spot where Geoffrey Malins & Ernest Brooks took the famous footage and photographs of the Hawthorn Ridge mine explosion and of the Lancashire Fusiliers waiting to go 'over the top' on 1st July. The Lancashires attacked slightly to the left of the 2nd Fusiliers and suffered serious casualties as soon as they emerged from the cover of the sunken lane at zero hour. Many of the men in these famous pictures were dead a few short hours after they were taken.The three photos above show (1) The explosion on 1st July 1916 (2) A view of the huge resulting crater. (3) The modern view from the crater back toward the British lines. It was while attacking up this piece of very dangerous open and sloping ground and under withering machine gun fire that 2/Lt REISS and his men were wounded and pinned down in no mans land. At 07:20am the Hawthorn mine was blown but the detonation also served as the signal for the German infantry, who had survived the earlier pre-attack British bombardment, to stand to at their shelter entrances and to man their machine guns and rifles. At 07:30 two platoons of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, left their position. These men were commanded by a Captain who himself was killed immediately and 2/Lt REISS, who along with four Lewis machine-gun teams and four Stokes mortars rushed the crater. As soon as they left cover they encountered a hail of totally withering machine gun and rifle fire in which many men were also immediately killed and wounded. 2/Lt REISS took charge of the assault upon the loss of his Captain. One of the more seriously wounded officers was 2/Lt REISS himself, who, after being shot down with his men in no mans land somehow managed to avoid further injury for over 24 hours, probably by laying very still and avoiding the attentions of German snipers. There was almost no ground shelter in the position at which they had fallen on what was an upward slope towards the newly formed crater. Although seriously wounded himself, 2/Lt REISS refused to leave his men and remained with them all that day and overnight until rescue arrived on the next morning of Sunday 2nd July" The mine detonation was swiftly followed by a German counter-barrage and in the next few minutes, German machine-guns opened fire all along the front. The British divisions forming up in no man's land, to reach the jumping-off position 100 yards short of the German front line, were caught in the hail of machine-gun fire and suffered many losses. The German troops who fast occupied the far lip of the crater at the Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt, turned their machine-guns and trench mortars to the right and left and fired into the British troops. The attack on the redoubt and the rest of the VIII Corps front was a costly failure. By 8:30 a.m. the only ground held by the 29th Division was the western lip of the crater. A German counter-attack by two platoons, bombed towards the crater from shell-hole to shell-hole and forced the survivors to retire to the British front line. German Reserve Infantry Regiment 119 had 292 casualties, most suffered in the mine explosion beneath the redoubt. DOWDESWELL MANOR , GLOUCESTER. Home of 2/Lt REISS [BIOGRAPHY] Ferdinand Edward REISS was born in Salford, Manchester on 8th September 1875 into a wealthy family with a long and illustrious German Jewish background. The son of Emil Adolphus and Frances Matilda REISS. It is thought that Mrs REISS was of Spanish or Portugese Catholic decent. However, the baby Ferdinand was baptised in a Protestant (Unitarian) church. He was partly educated at the famous Harrow School. Prior to his army enlistment in 1914 he trained as an electrical engineer and was a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers.From 1898 to 1902 he was employed by Crompton Co Ltd in Chelmsford. In 1902 he formed his own company of Bray, Markham & Reiss which was in business until his joining the army in late 1914. After his distinguished and decorated service in the Royal Fusiliers he transferred into the RAF as an electrical engineer. It is clear from his papers (copies included) that he was still partly disabled from the very serious wounding he received on The Somme as his RAF papers state " fit for light duties - ground duties only' (22/4/18). Earlier on 25/1/18 he had been found 'unfit general service' and given 4 months home leave with 3 months fit light duties. His service medals were sent on 10th March 1925. 2/lt REISS was clearly a man of some family wealth and lived at various very high profile addresses during his life including Dowdswell Manor in Gloucester. He died aged 72 on 27th March 1947 at his home at Tintinhull House, Yeovil. He left an estate valued at £3133 16/- 11d. TINTINHULL HOUSE.Phyllis Reiss and her husband Captain Reiss bought Tintinhull House in 1933 and being horticultural enthusiasts created wonderful gardens there. Captain Reiss was survived by his wife Phyllis Emily Reiss. The house was donated to The National Trust in 1954 by Mrs Reiss who continued to live in the house and care for the garden until her death in 1961. It is now open to the public.Casualties in the 86th Brigade were 1,969, of whom 613 were killed in action and 81 were reported missing. All included in the staggering losses of over 56,000 men lost on that 1st day of the Battle of the Somme, Saturday 1st JULY 1916. MEDALS ARE PRACTICALLY 'MINT STATE' ON THEIR ORIGINAL RIBBONS & ARE SWING MOUNTED AS WORN. THE GROUP ALSO INCLUDES THE RECIPIENT's ORIGINAL WW1 PERIOD SILVER M.C.MINIATURE TRIO , ALSO MINT AS WORN." LEST WE FORGET " A MAGNIFICENT & HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT GROUP. (IT'S THE 100th ANNIVERSARY IN JUST 11 MONTHS TIME.) SOLD