HoC - Roll of Honour - Firman Gordon Carter

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Private Firman Gordon Carter

1/19th Bn, London Regiment

Firman Carter was born in 1896 in a small village called Kimbolton, not far from Cambridge. He was the third of six children, 4 boys and two girls. His parents had a penchant for unusual first names: Firman had a younger brother who was given the curious name of Greenlaw (he died in1987). There is reason to believe that he was less than enchanted with his first name, as, when he joined up, he started to call himself “Kim” – perhaps related to his origins in Kimbolton.

Firman’s father ran a drapery shop in the High Street: there is some slender evidence that the business may have been struggling a bit, as census records show 3 living-in servants in 1901, reduced to one servant in 1911. Firman’s father died in 1923, and Firman is mentioned on his headstone.

Firman went to Wellingborough School, which sent over 1000 of its pupils to the Front, the most egregious being the school chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel the Reverend Bernard Vann, V.C. M.C., the only ordained chaplain in the British Army to be awarded the V.C.

Firman came to Chiswick in 1914, and was able to lodge with his uncle Edwin, who, having come south from Leeds, was living at 43 Park Rd, in Chiswick. He joined up at the beginning of the war at the recruiting office in Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith and was inducted into the 10th Middlesex Regiment.

After training in England, Firman’s unit was sent to France in March where he survived the disastrous battle of Loos (where the botched use of gas by the British for the first time, resulted in many English deaths).

Firman’s unit was transferred to the Somme area in September 1916, and played a decisive role in the famous battle of High Wood. High Wood was a 70 acre wood on the top of a hill, and was fought over for 3 months, at a cost of over 8000 lives. Firman survived this battle but a few days later, on the 1st October, Firman’s unit was ordered to attack the Butte de Warlencourt, a few miles away.

The Butte was a heavily defended ancient burial mound adjacent to a monastery called Eaucourt l’Abbaye. The Butte dominated the countryside and was used by the Germans to observe and shell the British Forces. Firmans unit was ordered to attack on the lst October, but the results were disastrous: in the words of the official regimental history:

“From across the valley the enemy had magnificent observation
of the ground leading to our objective, and made full use of it.
not a man turned back….., but they were not seen again.”

Firman is commemorated with his cousin here at St Michael’s. His name is also on the Memorial at Thiepval, as well as on the War Memorial in Kimbolton.