- Tyne Cot Memorial
- Tafel: 134A
Auszeichnungen und Orden
Richard William Pitman was born on April 16th 1892 in Nottingham. He was the son of Henry Pitman and Florence Rice and had four brothers and seven sisters. In 1912, at the age of 20, he married his wife Elizabeth (McLean) with whom he had two children, Henry William Hugh and Gladys Marjorie. Before he joined the army, he was a lace machine worker in Nottingham, where he worked together with his wife in the lace industry. When he enlisted in the army he joined the Seaforth Highlanders 7th Battalion, part of the 26th Brigade of the 9th (Scottish) Division.
On October 12th 1917 his Battalion was to take part in, what is now known as, the First Battle of Passchendaele. The Brigade was to attack on a two Battalion front, with each battalion on a two company front. The 26th Brigade consisted of the 8th Black Watch Battalion on the right, the 10th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on the left, and the 7th Seaforth Highlanders and 5th Cameron Highlanders in support.
The 8th Black Watch and the 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had to attack, capture and consolidate the Purple dotted line, and when they had done this, the 7th Seaforth Highlanders and 5th Cameron Highlanders would ‘leap frog’ (i.e. pass through) over these leading battalions to the next objective, the Purple line. Once they captured the Purple line, the 27th Brigade would pass through the 26th to capture further objectives. The actual attack, however, did not run so smoothly.
The Division was to attack from their positions just South of Poelkapelle at Zero hour 5.25 a.m., but the barrage came down two minutes earlier at 5.23 a.m. and did not give the men a sufficient definite line to go on. The attacking Battalions soon got mixed up and some troops lost their direction. The situation became quite chaotic. Men lost direction and joined other battalions, some men were held up by enemy fire and the 12th Royal Scots Battalion (27th Brigade) had to move forward to fill up any gaps in the line. This resulted in a lot of confusion where officers tried to collect their men. The hamlet of Wallemolen was the furthest point that was reached, by a mixture of men from the Seaforth Highlanders, Royals Scots and Black Watch. These men were, however, forced to retreat because they had lost the cover of the barrage and came under heavy fire from their right, front and left. They first retreated to Varlet Farm, but came under heavy machine-gun fire again and it was decided to retreat further to Inch Houses. The mixed party fell back and consolidated on the Cemetery-Inch Houses line until the situation was cleared up. The remainder of the 7th Seaforth Battalion was at this time held up by machine-gun and rifle fire from their left and front. It consolidated a line northwest from Inch Houses (with only one officer left in two companies).
No further gains could be made that day and the soldiers had to dig in. The communication throughout the front area was difficult, due to the heavy shell fire, the bad state of the ground and exhaustion of the men. At 5.15 p.m. the brigade was informed that the Battalions could not be reorganized until after they were relieved. There was a lot of shelling during the night and hardly any men succeeded in finding their way anywhere. Even if they would have found their way back, the Battalion Headquarters were very unsafe for anyone outside the cover of the pill box in which they resided due to the heavy shell fire. They Battalion was eventually relieved on the night of the 13th/14th October.
During this confusing attack, 41 soldiers were killed, 167 were wounded (of which 5 died of their wounds) and 13 soldiers went missing of the 7th Seaforth Highlanders Battalion. Private Pitman was one of the 41 soldiers of his Battalion who fell during the First Battle of Passchendaele.