The Battle of the Somme started on 1st July 1916, and the first day is notorious for the number of men who died or were wounded on the first day, making it the worse day in the British Army’s history.
The following men are from Horton Kirby and South Darenth, and they died during this battle, which lasted from 1st July to 18th November 1918
Bombardier Robert Leonard Couchman, Royal Field Infantry, 58th Battery, 35th Brigade. attd. “X” 7th Trench Mortar Battery.
Robert died on the first day of the battle, and is described as killed in action, at the age of 27 and was buried at Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt.
Robert was a regular soldier and was in the Royal Field Artillery by 1911. His parents and his siblings were living at Franks Farm Cottages, Horton Kirby, and his father was described as a Cowman in 1911.
Rifleman Percy Allen Bean, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 17th Battalion
Percy died on the 2nd July, the second day of the battle, and was also killed in action, and is buried at Le Touret Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’Avoue.
Percy was born in 1895 in Horton Kirby, the son of John and Elizabeth Bean, and the second of six boys. By 1911 the family were living at 3 Drays Cottages, Horton Kirby, where his father John was working as a horseman on a farm, Percy was working as a farm labourer, and his brothers Leonard and Lionel were working at the paper mill.
Percy enlisted on 22 November 1915 at Bromley, and gave his address as 6 Bexley Cottages, stating that he was a carpenter (working for Mr Fox, a builder in Horton Kirby), and he was 22 years and 10 months old. He went out to the front in France in April 1916, so did not serve for long.
Three of Percy’s brothers also served during the Great War, Lionel served as a stoker in the navy, Reginald was a rifleman in the Rifle Brigade and Lionel served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps before being invalided out.