8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Killed in action on Saturday, 23rd March 1918, aged 30
Edward Leonard Quinlan was born on 7 January 1888 in the General Lying-In Hospital, York Road, Lambeth. The son of John Thomas Quinlan (1857-1896) and Rosina Hall (1862-1929). His grandmother was Mary Ann Reffell (1833-1923) and he was a first cousin of George Quinlan. He was married Clara May Nurthan on 19 October 1912 at the Register Office in Lambeth and lived at 36 Dudding Hill Lane Willesden.
He enlisted on 13 September 1914 at Willesden at the age of 26 years and had previously served for four years in the Royal West Surrey Regiment. His occupation was listed as a bookbinder.
He was wounded in Deville Wood on the Somme in 1916, and took part in the battles of Ypres, Cambrai, Arras and Bapaume. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal and War Medal.
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht (Kaiser’s Battle), also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming resources of the United States could be deployed later that year. They also had the advantage of nearly 50 divisions freed by the Russian surrender.
On 21 March 1918, the Germans launched the last major offensive against the British Fifth Army. By the end of that day the British had lost nearly 20,000 dead and 35,000 wounded, and the Germans had broken through at several points. After two days Fifth Army was in full retreat. As they fell back, many of the isolated redoubts were left to be surrounded and overwhelmed by the following German infantry.
On 24 March the Germans are held back in desperate fighting round Bapaume, they cross the Somme between Peronne and Ham, and take Nesle and Peronne. Further south they captured Guiscard and Chauny. After a few days however, the German advance began to falter, as the infantry became exhausted and it became increasingly difficult to move artillery and supplies forward to support them. On 5 April the operation was cancelled. By the standards of the time there had been a substantial advance, but it was however a Pyrrhic victory.
Panel 44 to 45 Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France