BOYS, Walter Granleese
|29 March 1915, Maryborough, Queensland
|25th Infantry Battalion
|Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 7 April 1890
|Maryborough, Fraser Coast, Queensland
|Brisbane Grammar School, Queensland, Australia
|Died of Wounds, 4th Field Ambulance, Warloy-BaillonFrance, 5 August 1916, aged 26 years
Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension
Plot I, Row D, Grave 19
|Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Maryborough Albert State School War Memorial, Maryborough City Hall Honour Roll, Maryborough Queen's Park War Memorial, Maryborough State High School Roll of Honour, Maryborough Wesley Church Honour Roll
World War 1 Service
|29 Mar 1915:
|Enlisted AIF WW1, Officer, Maryborough, Queensland
|29 Jun 1916:
|Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 25th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
|29 Jun 1916:
|Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 25th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Brisbane
|5 Aug 1916:
|Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 25th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
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Biography contributed by John Edwards
"...Lieut. Walter Granlees Boys, 25th Battalion, of Maryborough, Qld. A master draper prior to enlistment, Lt Boys embarked from Brisbane on HMAT Aeneas on 29th June 1916. After promotion to Captain (Capt), he died of wounds received in action on 5th August 1916 and was buried in the Warloy Ballion Communal Cemetery Extension, France." - SOURCE
Biography contributed by Evan Evans
From François Berthout
Captain Walter Granleese Boys
25th Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company,
7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division
In the fields of the Somme rises a new summer sun whose light bathes the silent cemeteries across which stand solemnly the white graves of thousands of young men who on these sacred grounds, far from home, in the mud of the trenches and in the blood of the battlefields, served side by side with pride and bravery and who, with loyalty and determination, for their country and their comrades, fought tirelessly beyond their limits under the fire of the bullets they faced with conviction but who, too early, too young, were caught in barbed wire and were mowed down by machine guns in the fury and chaos of a world at war and together, for us, for the peace and freedom of the world, gave their today, their lives, their everything so that we have a tomorrow, a better world and for more than a hundred years, they still stand among us, reaching out their hands and their hearts to us so that we can tell who they were, so that we can preserve and keep alive their memory, so that we can bring back to life these heroes who sacrificed their youth but whose names will live forever through the poppies which are the eternal witnesses of what their lives were before and through the hell of war.
Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Captain Walter Granleese Boys who fought in the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who died of his wounds 106 years ago, on August 5, 1916 at the age of 26 during the Battle of the Somme.
Walter Granleese Boys was born on April 7, 1890 in Brisbane,Queensland, and was the son of William Isaac Boys (1860-1934) and Annie Boys (née Granleese,1858-1926), of March Street, Maryborough, Queensland, had four sisters, Esther Lillie (1885-1940), Pearl Annie (1892-1956), Ruby (1895-1919), Gladys Lila (1898-1947), and a brother, William (1887-1970). Walter was educated in Brisbane Grammar School then after graduation, served three years in the State School Cadets, two years in the Grammar School Cadets with which he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant then in the 4th Battalion of the Senior Cadets and before the outbreak of the war, worked as a master draper.
Walter enlisted on March 29, 1915 at Maryborough as a Lieutenant in the 25th Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company, battalion which was raised in early 1915 at Ennoggera, whose nickname was "The Darling Downs Regiment" and whose motto was "Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum" ( Tracking No Back) under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Paton. After a training period of just over two months, Walter embarked with his unit from Brisbane, on board HMAT A60 Aeneas on June 29, 1915 and sailed for the Gallipoli peninsula.
On August 4, 1915, Walter was disembarked at Gallipoli and joined the MEF (Mediterranean Expeditionary Force) where the 25th Battalion played mainly a defensive role on the beachhead of ANZAC Cove.Walter was promoted to the rank of Temporary Captain on December 8, only two weeks before being evacuated from the peninsula on board "Hororata" on December 19 and was sent to Egypt.
On January 9, 1916, Walter arrived in Egypt and was disembarked in Alexandria and the following month, on February 24, was promoted to the rank of Captain in Ismailia then proceeded to join the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) on March 14 in Alexandria from where he embarked the same day alongside his men and proceeded overseas for France.
On March 19, 1916, after a short voyage on the Mediterranean Sea, Walter arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles then in early April, the 25th Battalion marched into billets at Morbecque (Hauts-De-France), where after a period of training , entered the trenches at Rue Marle, near Armentieres, a rather calm sector of the front in which the men had their first contact with trench fighting and fought here until May 3.
On May 4, 1916, after a first experience of the trenches on the western front, Walter and his men were sent to bivouacs at La Chapelle d'Armentieres and on May 15, moved back to the trenches they had previously occupied at Rue Marle, relieved the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion and extended their lines to Bois-Grenier then on 28 May marched again to La Chapelle d'Armentieres for a brief rest period.
On June 1, 1916, Walter and the men of the 25th Battalion once again marched to the front line at Rue Marle but this time as a reserve and were mainly employed in improving their trenches and building new lines of communication then on the night of April 7 to 8 relieved the 27th Battalion and remained in this sector until June 16 then moved to Kortepyp and Messines, Belgium the following day and suffered heavy enemy artillery fire in this sector as well regular sniper fire until June 26, when the battalion was relieved by the 29th Australian Infantry Battalion and placed in reserve at Red Lodge where they repelled several German raids, then on July 8, orders were received for the 25th Battalion to move, this time for the Somme front.
On the morning of July 12, 1916, Walter and the 25th Battalion arrived in the Somme, at the railway station of Amiens and the next day, marched into billets at Vaux-Sur-Somme then on July 20 marched through Herissart, Rubempre, and arrived at Warloy Baillon's bivouacs on July 25. The following day they moved for Albert then for "Brickfields", marched for "Tara Hill" on July 27 and the next day were thrown into what was their first major engagement on the Western Front as well as for all the AIF, the infamous battle of Pozieres.
The village of Pozières, on the Albert–Bapaume road, lies atop a ridge approximately in the centre of what was the British sector of the Somme battlefield. Close by the village is the highest point on the battlefield. Pozières was an important German defensive position, the fortified village was an outpost to the second defensive trench system which had become known to the British as the O.G. Lines. This German second line extended from beyond Mouquet Farm in the north, ran behind Pozières to the east, then south towards the Bazentin ridge and the villages of Bazentin le Petit and Longueval. On 14 July, during the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, this southern section of the German second line was captured by the British Fourth Army of Lieutenant General Sir Henry Rawlinson. The possibility of "rolling up" the German second line by turning north now presented itself if Pozières could be captured.
The British Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, lacked the ammunition to immediately execute another broad-front attack after 14 July.Believing that Pozières and Thiepval would become untenable for the Germans as the British continued their eastward momentum, Haig ordered Rawlinson to concentrate on the centre between High Wood and Delville Wood as well as the villages of Guillemont and Ginchy. Meanwhile the plan was to maintain the pressure and take Pozières by a "steady, methodical, step-by-step advance". Between 13 and 17 July, the Fourth Army made four, small-scale attacks against Pozières with no success and high casualties. In this period the village was subjected to a heavy bombardment and reduced to rubble. On two occasions the attacking infantry got into the trench that looped around the south and western edge of the village, known as "Pozières trench" but both times were driven out. Attempts to get east of the village by advancing up the O.G. Lines also failed.
Rawlinson planned to deliver another attack on a broad front on 18 July involving six divisions between the Albert-Bapaume road in the north and Guillemont in the south. Haig decided to transfer responsibility for Pozières to the Reserve Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough which had been holding the line north of the road since shortly after the opening of the offensive on 1 July. The attack was postponed until the night of 22–23 July. To Gough's army were attached the three Australian divisions of the 1st Anzac Corps, which had begun moving from the Armentières sector. The Australian 1st Division reached Albert on 18 July and despite the postponement of the offensive, Gough, who had a reputation as a "thruster", told the division's commander, Major General Harold Walker, "I want you to go in and attack Pozières tomorrow night". Walker, an experienced English officer who had led the division since Gallipoli, would have none of it and insisted he would attack only after adequate preparation. Consequently the attack on Pozières once more fell in line with the Fourth Army's attack on the night of 22–23 July. The plan called for the Australian 1st Division to attack Pozières from the south, advancing in three stages half an hour apart, while north of the Albert-Bapaume road, the British 48th (South Midland) Division (British 10th Corps) would attack the German trenches west of the village. The village and surrounding area was defended by elements of the German 117th Division. Early on 22 July the Australian 9th Battalion attempted to improve its position by advancing up the O.G. Lines towards the road but was repulsed. The preparation for the attack involved a thorough bombardment of the village and the O.G. Lines lasting several days. The bombardment included phosgene and tear gas. The infantry were scheduled to go in at 12:30 a.m. on 23 July, the attack being made by the Australian 1st and 3rd Brigades. The infantry had crept into no man's land, close behind the bombardment and when it lifted the German trenches were rushed. The first stage took the Pozières trench that ringed the village to the south.
The second stage saw the Australians advance to the edge of the village, amongst what remained of the back gardens of the houses lining the Albert-Bapaume road. The third stage brought the line to the Albert–Bapaume road. The few survivors from the German garrison retreated to the northern edge of the village or into the O.G. Lines to the east. It was also intended that the O.G. Lines would be captured as far as the road, but here the Australians failed, partly due to strong resistance from the German defenders occupying deep dugouts and machine gun nests, and partly due to the confusion of a night attack on featureless terrain, the weeks of bombardment had reduced the ridge to a field of craters and it was virtually impossible to distinguish where a trench line had run. The failure to take the O.G. Lines made the eastern end of Pozières vulnerable and so the Australians formed a flank short of their objectives. On the western edge of the village, the Australians captured a German bunker known as "Gibraltar". During 23 July, some Australians went prospecting across the road. They captured a number of Germans and occupied more of the village.
That night the 8th Battalion of the Australian 2nd Brigade, which had been in reserve, moved up and secured the rest of the village. The attack of the 48th Division on the German trenches west of Pozières achieved some success. However, the main attack by the Fourth Army between Pozières and Guillemont was a costly failure.
Success on the Somme came at a cost which at times seemed to surpass the cost of failure, and for the Australians, Pozières was such a case. As a consequence of being the sole British gain on 23 July, Pozières became a focus of attention for the Germans. Forming as it did a critical element of their defensive system, the German command ordered that it be retaken at all costs. Three attempts were made on 23 July but each was broken up by the British artillery or swept away by machine gun fire. Communication was as difficult for the Germans as it was for the British, and it was not until 7:00 a.m. 24 July that they received their confirmation that Pozières had been lost. With British activity now declining elsewhere on its front, the German 4th Corps, on whose sector Pozières lay, was able to concentrate most of its artillery against the village and its approaches. Initially the bombardment was methodical and relentless without being intense. Known trenches and strongpoints, such as the "Gibraltar" bunker, received shell after shell. The western approach to the village, which led from Casualty Corner near the head of Sausage Valley, received such a concentration of shellfire that it was thereafter known as "Dead Man's Road". The German bombardment intensified on 25 July in preparation for their next counter-attack to retake the village. By this stage artillery from all around was able to join in. The German 9th Corps had now taken over this sector and the commander cancelled the planned counter-attack, choosing to concentrate on the defence of the O.G. Lines which were the next objective of the British. The bombardment reached a crescendo on 26 July. By 5:00 p.m. the Australians, believing an attack was imminent, appealed for a counter-barrage. In addition to the batteries of the 1st Anzac Corps and British 2nd Corps, the guns of the two neighbouring British corps also joined in. This in turn led the Germans to believe the Australians were preparing to attack and so they increased their fire yet again. It was not until midnight that the shelling subsided. At its peak, the German bombardment of Pozières was the equal of anything yet experienced on the Western Front and far surpassed the worst shelling previously endured by an Australian division. The Australian 1st Division suffered 5,285 casualties on its first tour of Pozières.
On 24 July, once Pozières had been secured, General Gough pushed for immediate moves against the O.G. Lines north and east of the village. The first task was to take the lines up to the Albert–Bapaume road; the original, unobtained objectives. Attacking in the dark, only the Australian 5th Battalion found either of the O.G. trenches and it was counter-attacked by the German 18th Reserve Division. Simultaneously on the Australian's right, the British 1st Division made an attempt to capture Munster Alley, the section of the Switch Line where it intersected the O.G. Lines. A tumultuous bombfight developed but only a small section of trench was held.
Before it was withdrawn, the Australian 1st Division had attempted to prepare a jumping-off line for the assault on the O.G. Lines. The Australian 2nd Division took over the sector on 27 July and General Gough, eager for progress, pressed for an immediate attack. The division's commander, General Gordon Legge, lacked the experience and confidence of General Walker and succumbed to pressure from Gough. On the night of 28–29 July, in conditions far less favourable than those experienced by the 1st Division on the night of 22–23 July, the 2nd Division was expected to attack. The remorseless German bombardment made effective preparations virtually impossible. The dust raised by the shelling prevented the Australian artillery observers from directing their field guns which were tasked with cutting the barbed wire entanglements. An attack by the British 23rd Division on Munster Alley dragged in the Australian 5th Brigade, the ensuing bombfight saw the British and Australian infantry expend over 15,000 grenades. The main attack went ahead, scheduled to start at 12:15 a.m. on 29 July but the Australian 7th Brigade was late in reaching its start line and its movement was detected by the German defenders; when the attack commenced, the Australians were met by a hail of machine gun fire. South of the road the 5th Brigade remained pinned down, unable to even get started. On their left, north of the road, the 7th Brigade encountered uncut wire. On the northern flank some minor progress was made by the 6th Brigade but everywhere else the attack was a failure. Including the attack and the preceding day of preparation the 2nd Division lost over 3,500 men; the 7th Brigade had to be withdrawn to reserve, so great were its losses.
General Haig was disparaging of the division's failure, telling Lieutenant General William Birdwood, the 1st Anzac Corps commander, "You're not fighting Bashi-Bazouks now." General Legge and the 1st Anzac staff resolved to do the job properly. To avoid the confusion of a night advance, the plan was to attack at 9:15 p.m. just before dark at which time the crest of the ridge and the mound of the Pozières windmill would still be discernible. However, to attack at dusk meant assembling by day which was only possible to do in the protection of trenches. Therefore a system of approach and assembly trenches had to be dug at night. Whenever the Germans detected digging parties, they mistook them for troops assembling to attack and called down a barrage. Originally the attack was to be made at dusk on 2 August but the trenches were as yet incomplete, the digging either being disrupted or the completed trenches demolished by shellfire. The attack was first postponed to 3 August and then to 4 August when the trenches were finally deemed ready. This careful planning and preparation delivered success and when the 2nd Division went in, both O.G. Lines were captured. South of and astride the Albert-Bapaume Road the O.G. Lines had been so thoroughly obliterated by prolonged shelling that the Australians ended up advancing beyond their objectives. From their vantage in the O.G. Lines on the eastern edge of the Pozières ridge, the Australians now looked over green countryside, the village of Courcelette close by and the woods around Bapaume five miles (8 km) away. The German commander ordered "At any price Hill 160 Pozières ridge must be recovered."
By 5 August the brigades of the Australian 2nd Division were exhausted and were to be relieved by the Australian 4th Division. While the relief was underway on the night of 5-6 August the Australians were subjected to an extreme bombardment, because the salient they occupied could be shelled by the Germans from all directions, including from Thiepval which lay to the rear. On the morning of 6 August a German counter-attack tried to approach the O.G. Lines but was met by machine gun fire and forced to dig in. The bombardment continued through the day, by the end of which most of the 2nd Division had been relieved. From its twelve days in the line, the division had suffered 6,848 casualties. At 4:00 a.m. on 7 August, shortly before dawn, the Germans launched their final counter-attack. On a front of 400 yards (370 m) they overran the thinly occupied O.G. Lines, catching most of the Australians in shelters in the old German dugouts and advanced towards Pozières. For the Australians, the crisis had arrived. At this moment, Lieutenant Albert Jacka, who had won the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli, emerged from a dugout where he and seven men of his platoon had been isolated, and charged the German line from the rear. His example inspired other Australians scattered across the plateau to join the action and a fierce, hand-to-hand fight developed. Jacka was badly wounded but as support arrived from the flanks, the Australians gained the advantage and most of the surviving Germans were captured. No more attempts to retake Pozières were made.
Unfortunately, it was on August 5, 1916 that Walter met his fate and was seriously injured by a gunshot wound to his head and was immediately evacuated to the 4th Field Ambulance located in Warloy-Baillon and admitted with a gunshot wound penetrating brain and despite the care he received, he died shortly after, he was 26 years old.
In the fighting around Pozières the 48th Division lost 2,844 casualties from 16-28 July and 2,505 more from 13 August. The 1st Australian Division lost 7,700 men, the 2nd Australian Division had 8,100 casualties and the 4th Australian Division lost 7,100 men. From 27 July-13 August the 12th Division had 2,717 losses.
Today, Captain Walter Granleese Boys rests in peace alongside his men, friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: "One less at home ,one more in heaven, his duty nobly done."
Just before his death, Walter wrote a letter to his family which reads as follows:
"Dear All at Home,
That I am alive to have a chance of writing to you all once again is a miracle. I have had an experience I never again wish to have. My Company was ordered into the attack on Pozieres. It was a big attack and we had to charge 700 yds. I cannot explain the feeling I had for about 12 hours before the charge. I had sole command of my portion of the attack with 250 men. I had to march on a compass bearing for 3 miles before I got to the debouching point through a perfect hell of fire.I moved to the attack at 7.30 p.m., and as soon as I began to move I lost all nervousness and felt sure of success. I would like to give you full details of the battle, which was the biggest and fiercest battle yet fought in the whole war, even worse that Verdun they say.I went with the first line myself and my word my men fought well. They fell around me like flies but on we went as if in a dream while the smell of powder and the din of the guns and bombs etc. nearly turned my head. I reached the Germans' barb wire with "some" of my men, but could not get through and the Hun brought his maxim guns on to us. and we were forced to retire. I gave the order to retire much against my will and what remained of my men got back that night but I had to see all my men from the German lines before I could leave and when day broke I found myself about 30 yds from his trench. What I did was to lie still and imagine I was dead from 4. a.m. on one day to 12.10 a.m. on the following day-20 hours and 10 minutes.I had no water and it was very hot and there were hundreds of dead and wounded lying all around me. It seemed years that 20 hours. The Germans came out and bound up our wounded and passed me for dead and eventually I managed to crawl to our own lines under cover of night. I was almost off my head.During the 20 hours I was out I had to be under a most terrific bombardment but somehow God watched over me and I got through all right. I received several small scratches but none serious. The Doctor says I can go hospital but I am going to hang on. They have given me a staff job on the 5th Brigade for the next battle.Poor Vic: Warry was killed beside me. He fought splendidly and was right on top of the Germans when he went down. I nearly went mad when I saw him fall. Poor Vic, he died at the head of his men like a soldier."
Walter, it was in the prime of your life that with bravery and dedication you responded to the call of your country to do your duty alongside your friends and comrades who, together, fearlessly took a step forward to do their part and fighting on the battlefields of the great war and side by side, with pride and the invincible ardor of youth, they joined the ranks and marched to the front line. They left their homes, their families, the love of their loved ones and after a last solemn embrace in the arms of their mothers, embarked from the other side of the world to fight in the name of peace and democracy, to preserve the peace of the world and headed through the oceans to reach the horizon of days full of uncertainty but confident, determined and driven forward by the desire to fight, they followed their brothers behind bugles and drums and in chaos, in fury and darkness, they discovered the horrors of war under leaden hailstones which mowed down the first waves of these young men on the blood-red beaches of Gallipoli, on the hot sands which were for them a hell on earth, this were the first steps of the young Diggers who fought with incredible bravery, it was also there that was born alongside their New Zealand brothers in arms the ANZAC spirit, a spirit of courage, mateship, solidarity, honor and sacrifice that guided these heroes over the arid lands of Lone Pine and who fell through the arid hills, through rains of bullets to the burning earth of The Nek where hundreds of them gave their lives in four waves which were shattered in a few minutes without mercy by the fires of rifles and machine guns. In Turkey the courage and determination of the young and strong Australian nation was seen but after several months of hell, the Diggers had to back down, they were told that Gallipoli was a failure and left behind their friends, their brothers under the first rows of white graves but they did not fall in vain, they made their country proud without which the war could not have been won, they gave their lives for our tomorrow. eyes filled with tears and heavy hearts, they embarked in silence on board the slow boats which took them away from home without knowing what awaited them after this first shock, they were told that they were now going to fight in France, to a new hell on earth, in one of the deadliest battles of the 20th century and headed for the fields of the Somme, through the poppies and the ruined villages but even after Gallipoli, their courage, their determination was never broken and once again, they found themselves in the front line, in a nightmare of blood and steel called Pozieres in which they were hammered incessantly by the fire of the artillery, under tons of shells which buried them alive.In the heat of July 1916, they were caught in the fiery cauldron of the Battle of the Somme and charged bayonets forward but under machine gun fire, they fell one after the other through barbed wire, they endured hurricanes of steel under the lugubrious symphony of the shells which fell all around them and saw their friends being crushed, being pulverized by shrapnel, they saw them without arms, without heads, mutilated by the bullets which flew around them but despite these horrors, they never took a single step back, fought step by step in deep mud and red with the blood of their comrades who sacrificed their youth and gave their lives for our country. Among the rats, in the shell holes , it's a whole generation of men who killed each other through the poppies in a war that didn't seem to have an end but alongside their French brothers in arms, the Australians never gave up,they were always in the front line and led their men with bravery as Walter did until his last breath, he was an example of courage and honor and despite his fears he found in the camaraderie that bound him to his comrades, the courage and strength to come out in the face of the enemy and did his duty in the most splendid way for Australia and France who are united in remembrance, bound forever by an unfailing friendship which frontiers cannot break.More than a hundred years have passed but on these sacred grounds of the Somme, the memory of the Diggers will never fade, their courage and their sacrifices will never be forgotten and with respect, with gratitude, I will always watch over these heroes who came from other side of the world and who for us gave everything they had so for them I would give my energy, my time, my life so that their names live forever. Thank you so much Walter, for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.