Donald Rumney BODDAN
Rank: Private
Number: 4519
Unit: 20th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 22 July 1916
Age: 20
Cemetery: Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe, Somme, France

The Boddan family are well documented residents of Heaton Mersey. In 1884, John Boddan married Charlotte Rumney at St Thomas' Church, Heaton Norris. By 1914, they were living at "Hutton Dene", Didsbury Road, Heaton Mersey and appear to have three sons.

During the War, one of the local newspapers reported that Captain Jack Boddan was home on leave and that he had two brothers. Donald is certainly one of them and was born in 1896. The name of George Rumney Boddan is also inscribed on the Heaton Mersey War Memorial and it must be presumed that he was the other. However, no trace of George can be found.

John Boddan and Charlotte Rumney married in 1884 at St Thomas' Church, Heaton Norris. They appear to have lived in South Manchester for some years as Jack's (John) birth was registered there in 1887. Donald's was registered in Stockport in 1896. He was educated at Bilton Grange School and, later, at Marlborough College. When War was declared in August 1914, Donald was quick to enlist and, as with many middle class young men, joined one of the "Public Schools" Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers. He went overseas on active service in the middle of November 1915 and, shortly afterwards, undertook additional training to become one of the Battalion's signallers. He was badly wounded during an attack on 20 July described here.

His officer, 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Hume wrote to his parents telling them what had happened. Hume would not see the end of the War either - he was promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He was flying as the observer in a plane when it was shot down on 6 April 1917. "The Regiment was engaged in very heavy fighting all through the 20th of this month and your son was by my side all day. The coolness and courage he displayed in exposing himself, under very heavy shell fire and machine gun fire, were nothing short of wonderful and more than once I had to order him to get into a less exposed position. He escaped unhurt until late in the evening when a shell, which burst very close to use, slightly wounded us both - nothing serious, but I told him to go back to the dressing station and have his hurts attended to. He went reluctantly, saying he did not like to leave me, after we had come through so much together. I did not see him again. After the battalion was relieved I sent a very strong report on his splendid conduct and recommended him for a suitable reward, when I was shocked and grieved to receive a notice from the clearing station to say that your son had died there from wounds in the back and head. I can only presume that he was hit again on his way to the dressing station and mortally wounded. I hope that the knowledge of your son's magnificent conduct, his unfailing coolness and cheerfulness under terrible conditions, will serve to lighten in some measure your grief. He was immensely popular with all his comrades and, with them, I mourn him sincerely."

The dressing station will have been just a couple of hundred yard sor so behind the front line. Here, Donald will have received emergency treatment from the Battalion's own medical officer. He will then have been evacuated, probably by train,  to the field hospital (Casualty Clearing Station) at Heilly Station about 25 miles behind the lines. There military surgeons will have done all they could for him, but without success.

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