CUTTS [MAYES], Ernest William

No.240643, Private, Ernest CUTTS
Aged 20

4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
formerly No. 2538, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday 23rd April 1917

Ernest William MAYES was born in 1897 in Barnardiston (Risbridge Q4-1896 4A:758), son of Emily MAYES.

Emily MAYES married Harry CUTTS in 1901.

1901 census...As Ernest W MAYES, aged 4, he was at Mill Lane, Stradishall with his stepfather Harry CUTTS [24] farm labourer, born Stradishall and mother Emily [24], born Barnardiston.

1911 census...As Ernest W MAYES, aged 14, farm worker, at East Wood Farm, Wickhambrook with his stepfather and mother, half brothers Harold [9] born Stradishall and Cecil [3] born Wickhambrook; half sister Gladys M [8] born Wickhambrook.

The connection with Ousden has not been found documented. He is almost certainly the man on the Wickhambrook memorial. Probably another parish boundary difference of opinion if Easty Wood is the current Easterwood Farm, which is in Baxter's Green.

He enlisted in Bury St. Edmunds as Ernest CUTTS in October 1914

Lt Col Murphy's "History of the Suffolk Regiment" gives us the picture:-
Zero hour on 23rd April was fixed for 04:45, the British attacking on a 9 mile front.The 4th Suffolk with two companies in the front line and two in support were to attack southwards down its trenches as far as the Sensee valley, and then link up with the brigade making a frontal attack on that part of the Hindenburg line. Some were detailed to mop up in the tunnel, an almost impossible task, driving the Germans back on the surface as well as underground.
All was well at first, pushing forward to the edge of the valley they brought in 650 prisoners, a grenatenwerfer and 5 machine gun. 'A' company was within 200 yards of the Sensee valley, 'D' company almost level with them. The enemy counter attacked vigorously and the two companies, unsupported on their flanks were forced to fall back. The tunnel now proved to be the weakness as it concealed a large force which surfaced when the counter attack began. Cut off, part of 'D' company withdrew across country. The maze of communications and support trenches, impossible to guard or even watch, gave the Germans excellent cover. Despite reinforcement from 2 companies of the 5th Scottish Rifles 'C' and 'D' companies had to withdraw to their original starting position by 3 pm. Twice during the day even Battalion HQ was forced to man the parapet.
Another barricade was hastily constructed to the rear and a fresh attack was even being launched at 6pm, but was cancelled. The enemy retaliated vigorously, but it quietened down by 10 pm.

This small operation had cost the battalion 74 dead, only 14 having identified graves.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ernest Cutts is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, bay 4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details