Captain WP (Billie) Nevill


On the 1st July 1916, under heavy enemy fire, 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment were waiting ready to go 'over the top' in the first Battle of the Somme. Captain WP (Billie) Nevill, commanding B Company had purchased four footballs for his platoons to kick across 'No Man's Land'. Captain Nevill promised a reward to the first platoon to score a 'goal' in enemy trenches.

At 7.27a.m, led by Nevill, B Company climbed out of their trenches and the attack commenced. In the face of murderous fire, and sustaining heavy causalities, they charged across the intervening ground with the footballs bouncing encouragingly before them. The combination of Nevill's initiative and their gallantry proved successful and they gained their objective on the Montauban Ridge. Sadly, Nevill was not there to pay the reward. He had been killed just outside the German wire.