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Lance Deane: A Hero Remembered

Deane gravestone

Inscribed on his parents' grave (F5A) in Ash Cemetery are the brief details of Lieutenant Colonel Lance Deane DSO MC, who exemplifies the sacrifice made by young men in the First World War.

Colonel Deane's parents were living in southern India when, as a mining engineer, he enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the South Wales Borderers (The Brecknocks), and was commissioned on January 5th 1915 as a 2nd Lieutenant.

After training in the New Forest the battalion moved through Basingstoke and Bracknell to Aldershot's Tournay Barracks. They sailed to France on September 24th 1915, landing at Le Havre. Lt Deane took over as adjutant of the battalion on 13th December 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross in the New Years Honours of 1917 for action in the Ypres salient and the offensive against the Messine Ridge. The 6th, being a pioneer battalion, were constantly in action in the winter of 1917. Now a Captain, Deane became second in command as Acting Major.

On 25th March 1918, at the request of a beleagered 42nd division, Deane lead an attack described as a splendid rush, for which he was awarded the DSO for conspicuous leadership, gallantry and endurance. When the CO was killed on 14th April 1918, Major Deane was appointed commanding officer. The battalion was exhausted from want of food and sleep and they were withdrawn. Having fought stubbornly and successfully, thanks largely to Colonel Deane's good leadership and skilful handling of the situation, their stand had helped appreciably to check the enemy's advance.

The 25th Division had heavy casualties in March and April (11,000). In May they were sent by Haig to the Aisne to replace the French divisions. The 6th were the first of the South Wales Borderers to reach the new front, and the first to come into action against Ludendorff's big push. They started off on May 26th, and on the 27th suffered one of heaviest bombardments, taking heavy casualties. During the retreat the heavy shelling killed Col Deane at the cross roads at Rosnay, west of Rheims. He was aged 26.

Colonel Deane was much missed by his battalion. He had served with it practically continuously, had acted in many capacities and his promotions to command had been well deserved and popular. Being well qualified to command pioneers he had also shown himself to be a fine fighting man, resourceful, daring, quick to appreciate a tactical situation and possessing the qualities of a true leader. His men, assessing their loss, described him as an officer of real capacity and distinction, one of the mainstays of the battalion.

Colonel Deane in buried in Chambrecy British Cemetery Plot 6 Row A Grave 1.

Extracts from Col Deane's Extracts from Col Deane's battalion diary can now be seen in the History Room. (178/-)

By John Daniels


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