Edwin Langford, D.C.M. | Profile

Regiment Rank Service No Place of Birth Date of Death Age Burial
2nd/6th South Staffs Private 240451 Woodsetton 30 Nov 1917 25 Cambrai Memorial, France

Genealogical Data

Birth of Edwin Langford registered March quarter 1892 in Dudley.

1901 Census
1 George Street, Woodsetton, Staffordshire.
Edward Langford (48, Puddler, born Sedgley), his wife Sarah (47, born Sedgley), and their 7 children: Elizabeth (21, Factory Hand, born Sedgley), Arthur (19, Furnace Labourer, born Sedgley), Harriet (17, Domestic Servant, born Sedgley), Sarah (15, Domestic Servant, born Sedgley), Edwin (8, born Sedgley), Maud (5, born Sedgley), and Joseph (3, born Sedgley).

1911 Census
1 George Street, Woodsetton, Staffordshire.
Edward Langford (58, Iron Worker, born Woodsetton), his wife Sarah (58, born Woodsetton), and 6 of their 9 surviving children of 12: Elizabeth (32, Brick Maker, born Woodsetton), Arthur (27, Furnace Labourer, born Woodsetton), George (22, Iron Worker, born Woodsetton), Edwin (19, Colliery Labourer – above ground, born Woodsetton), Maud (16, Home Duties, born Woodsetton), and Joseph (13, Colliery Labourer – above ground, born Woodsetton).

Personal Life

The 1/6th South Staffs arrived in France between the 3rd and 5th March 1915. They moved to Armentieres on 20th March and then to Fletre for further training. In April the battalion marched to Wulveringhem in Belgium alternating between trench duties and further training. Edwin is recorded as having landed in France on 5th March 1915.

On 28th April 1915, Edwin was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), this was the first medal awarded to the 1/6th South Staffords in the war. This was for his part in rescuing a number men overcome by gas after a British camouflet explosion, bear in mind that Edwin had worked in collieries before the war.

The Brigade Mining Section was involved in defensive mining operations only, primarily counter-mining and exploding charges, known as camoflets, under the German tunnel to cause them to collapse. During one such operation, in the tunnel near Kruisstraat Cabaret on 27th April, a party of men from the Mining Section were overcome by carbon-monoxide fumes and had to be rescued.

One of the members of the rescue party was Private George Bennett of the 1/5th North Staffords: “I was on mining duty when I discovered there was gas in the sap. I informed the officer in charge and three officers and one sergeant went to find out if it was fit to continue working in, and on entering the sap they were overcome. On knowing this, I and two more put a wet sandbag on over our heads and entered the sap to get them out. We got two officers out, and then we had to give up for a few minutes to get breath. After being driven back a few times we succeeded in getting the other officer out alive, and then I was overcome by gas myself, and remember no more until half an hour later, when to my sorrow the other men told me that they had got to the Sergeant who was furthest in, and found he was dead.”

The Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded to nine members of the rescue party. All of the men received the same citation for their award: “For conspicuous courage and devotion to duty on 28th April 1915, near Kemmel, when he took his turn with a few others in entering a mine gallery to rescue comrades who had been overcome by gas. the rescuing party persevered till all had been saved.”

Cause of Death

After the initial success on the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai, the breakthrough to Cambrai was elusive. Bourlon Wood, dominating the northern end of the battlefield, was eventually captured but was under constant bombardment giving massive casualties. On 28th November the 2/6th South Staffs moved into Bourlon Wood and came under heavy bombardment, with large amounts of phosgene gas. Bourlon Wood was abandoned on the 3rd December, as it was impossible to hold against German shelling.

War Diary of 2nd/6th South Staffs.
29th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
Enemy heavily bombarded Bourlon Wood with High Explosive and Gas shells and attacked front line positions on the 2/6th North Staffs regiment front, to which we were in support. ‘A’ Company advanced through the wood under heavy fire and reinforced the front line in answer to the S.O.S signal. The Company sustained several gas casualties.

30th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
The battalion was heavily bombarded by Gas and High Explosive shells. During these two days the battalion suffered heavy causalities from gas, the whole of ‘A’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ Companies becoming casualties.

27 men of the 2/6th South Staffs were killed on the 30th November and, over the next 2 weeks, a further 55 men of the 2/6th South Staffs died, mostly due to the effects of gas in Bourlon Wood.

Edwin Langford has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval.

Newspaper Cuttings

  • WOODSETTON SOLDIER’S D.C.M. | Dudley Herald, 17th July 1915
    At the monthly meeting of the Coseley Urban District Council on Tuesday evening, Councillor J. Wright referred to the fact that the Distinguished Conduct Medal has been awarded to Private Langford, of George Street, Woodsetton, for an act of bravery and heroism on the field of battle. He proposed that a letter of congratulation be sent from the Council to Private Langford’s parents. Councillor Pickerill seconded, and the proposal was cordially agreed to.
  • WOODSETTON SOLDIER KILLED IN BATTLE | Dudley Herald, 9th February 1918
    The late Private E. Langford, whose home was at 1 George Street, Woodsetton, Coseley, won the coveted D.C.M. in 1915, in recognition of an act of bravery while serving with the South Staffordshire Regiment. This was the first medal gained during the war by any member of the regiment, and the many friends of this soldier have heard with deep regret that he has been killed in battle. He was a single man, 26 years of age, and was very greatly respected in the district from which he came.