H.L.J. Wootton was a private in the 1st/15th Battalion of the London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles). He died on the Somme Battlefield in France on the 7th October 1916, aged 20. He was the son of Leonard Henry and Rhoda Jane Wootton, of 8, Council Houses, Sulgrave.

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. The Thiepval Memorial is off the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929). Each year a major ceremony is held at there on 1 July.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. It can be surmised that it was during one of these autumnal attacks that Private H.L.J. Wootton was killed.

Wiltshire Regiment attack near Thiepval. Q1142: Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, London.