Fred was born at Wetherby in 1887
to parents Henry, a Domestic Gardener, and Elizabeth Walker of Walton Road, Wetherby. The family circumstances changed
when Henry found employment with Wetherby Rural District Council as a Highways Labourer, the family then relocating to premises
in Westgate, Wetherby. Finding employment as a Warehouseman at Wetherby Co-operative Society located in Crossley Street, Fred's
fortunes also changed like that of his father's when he found employment as a Boilerman at the Tower Brewery, Tadcaster.
At some point in his life, Fred became romantically involved with one Agnes Sanderson, a married
woman residing in premises located in Bishopgate. This relationship would produce an illegitimate child born in November 1904,
the couple eventually marrying and taking up residence in the High Street, Wetherby. (Authors note:- I can find no evidence
that Agnes formally separated from her husband, George. The 1911 Census records that he was not present when the Enumerator
called at the address and at the time of her marriage to Fred in 1914, she had reverted to her maiden name of Akney).
Enlistment & Initial Military Service
the outbreak of the Great War, Fred like many young Wetherby men flocked to answer his country's call but was rejected
for military service in the Army on four occasions, no doubt due to being deemed medically unfit for front line
service. Despite these setbacks however, he was finally accepted for service in the Army and eventually posted to the
ranks of a Labour Battalion.
Akin to the majority of the men who served in the 16th (Labour)
Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, there is a lack of information as regards their initial service in the army. For example Fred
is recorded by the Soldiers Died database as originally serving in the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment however
this 'initial' service is not recorded in the Medal Rolls. This absence is therefore replicated throughout the ranks
of the men who served with the battalion and who later transferred to the 22nd Labour Company. Following this formula based
on surviving service documents, I surmise that Fred's attestment and enlistment was as follows:-
for military service in December 1915 under the auspices of the Derby Scheme or Group Scheme, i.e., voluntary
enlistment at Tadcaster, the terms of his service were that of a Short Service, For the Duration of the War, with the
Colours and in the Army Reserve. Enlisting into the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment and numbered 34470, he was then
placed on the Army Reserve. (Authors note:- A later newspaper article included in this commemoration reports that he was accepted
for military service in March 1916 but a more accurate date based on surviving service documents indicates that he was more
than likely mobilised in mid June 1916). His service with the Depot of the West Yorkshire Regiment was however of a very short
duration as Fred was transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and numbered 31722. Upon formation of
the 22nd Labour Company in May 1917, Fred was renumbered 13081 and it is at this juncture that we will examine the complex
evolvement of solving the supply of labour to fulfill various tasks as the war progressed.
Organisation Of Labour
A problem that existed from the outset of the war
was the shortage of unskilled labour for tasks as varied as the construction of light railways and roads, to the unloading
of stores and the materiel necessary for the prosecution of the war in general. In the interim, these tasks were
carried out by fatigue parties of soldiers whilst not serving in the front line and in miltary parlance "at rest."
The situation however needed to be addressed as the war continued and it was recognised that trained men or units returning
from the front could not be spared to carry out these various duties required.
To alleviate the
burdon of these tasks primarily borne by the infantry, Pioneer Battalions were sanctioned by the War Office in late 1914.
Attached to an infantry division, the men came from a variety of employments, some of the men being skilled in various tasks
such as bricklaying, miners, joiners etc. Also trained to fight as infantry, their primary role however was to provide labour
at the front and the formation of these battalions was escalated in number throughout the course of 1915.
The introduction of the Military Services Act in January 1916 heralded the conscription of all males between the
ages of 18 and 41 years and this in effect provided one answer to the shortage of unskilled labour at the front as opposed
to the formation of the pioneers. It was found that some men conscripted under the Act were however not suitable for combatant
service but were deemed to be capable of performing labour duties under the auspices of the military. As a consequence, both
Labour and Works Battalions were formed, the men that comprised these units consisting of those who were advanced in age or
those who suffered from some slight physical disability which prevented them from service in the front line, or, those down-graded
from fighting service, i.e., below "A1" medical status required for front line service.
Formation Of The 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment: The Officer Cadre
The battalion were formed at Brocklesby Camp, Lincolnshire, on the 6th of June 1916 by the Camp Commandant, Lieutenant
A.N. Healey. (Authors note: Possibly Hon. Lt. Arthur. A. Healey, East Yorkshire Regiment). One of the first officers posted
to the battalion was one Second Lieutenant, Henry Charles Wooton Woolley, formerly of the 11th (Reserve) Battalion, York and
Lancaster Regiment. Subsequently posted to Number 1 Company, Woolley would soon be joined by Second-Lieutenant Francis D'Aguilar
Burton of the 15th (Reserve) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers and Second-Lieutenant Stanley Marmaduke Carrington, 10th
(Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, Burton would be assigned to Number 2 Company whilst Carrington would assume
duties as Acting Adjutant respectively.
It was on the 9th of June that one Major George Robertson
Lightbound, 11th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, joined the battalion. A Canadian by birth,
Lightbound reported for duty with Number 3 Company and assumed command of the battalion. Designated the 16th (Labour) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment by Army Order 831 dated the 10th of June, yet another officer joined to swell the ranks when on
the 13th of the month, Major Arthur Knox Armstrong of the 15th (Reserve) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment joined the flegling
unit and was posted to Number 3 Company.
Officers still continued to arrive at Brocklesby when
on the 14th of the month, Major James Joseph Cornelius Arthur O'Sullivan joined the battalion from the 11th (Reserve)
Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment and was subsequently posted to Number 1 Company. On the 20th, Second-Lieutenant Ronald
Bentley Cox of the 11th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry joined the battalion and was posted to
Number 4 Company followed by Lieutenant James Pilkington Hunt, 10th (Reserve) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, who
joined on the 23rd for duty with the 4th Company. Second-Lieutenant Herbert Cross, 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, also
joined on this date and he too was posted for duty with Number 4 Company. The battalion at this point also lacked the appointment
of a Medical Officer and to this end, Lieutenant David Rees was attached to the battalion as M.O. on the 26th of June and
subsequently posted to Number 1 Company.
As the month of June 1916 now drew to a close, the structure
of the officer cadre within the battalion now began to evolve. Command of the battalion was now assumed on the 28th of June
by Major O'Sullivan, Major Lightbound subsequently being posted to Number 2 Company. On the 1st of July, Lieutenant-Colonel
Hepworth Arthur Hill was gazetted to command the battalion. A graduate of Sandhurst and a veteran of the Boer War, Hill had
served with a number of regiments but before posting to the Yorkshire Regiment, he had been placed on the Half Pay List
having served previously with the 1st West India Regiment. Further changes were also instigated on the 1st of the month when
Second-Lieutenant Woolley assumed the duties of Adjutant vice Second-Lieutenant Carrington who was in due course posted to
Number 1 Company as a Temporary Captain (L.G. dated 1/7/1916). To fulfill the duties of Quarter-Master, Hon. Lieutenant Benjamin
Anderton also arrived on the 1st having been recently commissioned from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was duly posted
to Number 1 Company. Finally on the 3rd of the month, Temporary Captain Harold Gaskell of the 7th Battalion, Notts. &
Derby Regiment reported for duty with the battalion and was subsequently posted to Number 2 Company.
As well as arrivals, there were also departures as the following officers were transferred and struck off the strength
of the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. It was on the 4th of July that the following officers were transferred;
Major Armstrong, 15th (Reserve) Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, Major O'Sullivan, 2nd Garrison Battalion, King's
Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and Major Lightbound to the 1st Garrison Battalion also of the K.O.Y.L.I. (Authors note: Lightbound
relinquished his commission in September 1916 no doubt due to a charge of embezzlement. Upon proven guilty, he would serve
six months imprisonment).
A number of officers began to finally arrive to bring at least in the
officer cadre the battalion up to near strength. Captain Swinburne Robinson, a prominent member of the Primrose League
in the north-east of England joined the battalion on the 4th from the 25th (Works) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and was
subsequently posted to Number 3 Company. Lieutenant Percival Lester Stanley Collett arrived from the Leicestershire Regiment
on the 7th and was duly posted to Number 4 Company followed by Second-Lieutenant John Angell Hamlyn of the 10th Leicester's
on the 10th who reported for duty with Number 2 Company. Their arrival would appear to be rather timely as on the 10th of
July orders were received for the battalion to prepare for active service and embarkation for France. One officer however,
Second-Lieutenant Burton, was reported as being unfit for duty overseas and as a consequence he was struck off the strength.
Before we follow the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment's early service in this theatre of war, it is at this
juncture that we will examine some of the men from different walks of life that constituted the battalion itself.
On a local note, there was one Walter Vipurs, a native
of Barkston Ash, a General Labourer residing in the Main Street. Frank Tate, a Farm Labourer of Healaugh, near Tadcaster.
William Thomas Goldsworthy, a resident of Wingate, County Durham. Goldsworthy would be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal
in September 1919 for actions in the previous year near Arras and Loos. Harold Hopwood of the Richmond Hill District of Leeds.
A Flexible Tube Fitter by trade, Harry attempted to contact former members of both the 16th Yorkshire's and the 22nd Company
after the war in 1939 however the fruits of his labours are not known. Samuel Bingham of Sheffield, awarded the Military Medal
in 1918. Robert Thompson, a resident of Beverly Road, Hull and a Farm Labourer. One brother would serve with the 10th East
Yorkshire's, 1st Hull "Pals" and be made a Prisoner of War in 1917, another would serve with the Australian
Machine Gun Corps and rise to the rank of Lieutenant. Finally, one Arthur Darfield, a married man and a resident of Armley,
Leeds. The names of the men are endless and warrants further research as to the composition of the battalion but in the vast
majority, these men enlisted into the ranks of the Yorkshire Regiment circa December, 1915 in a number of locations throughout
France: Le Havre
It was on the 11th of July 1916 that Fred Walker and the men of the 16th (Labour) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment embarked at Southampton, their destination being the French port of Le Havre. The voyage was to be made
on the S.S. "Mona's Queen," a paddle steamer previously operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet
Company, the strength of the battalion being recorded as follows:-
Warrant Officers 6
Transport comprised of one limbered wagon, eight four-wheeled wagons, three two-wheeled
wagons and one motor-car. As regards horses, there accompanied the battalion one riding horse, eight draught horses and seventeen
heavy draught horses.
|S.S. Mona's Queen. Source: Wikimedia Commons (Photo Undated)
Upon disembarkation, the Battalion proceeded to the Docks
Rest Camp however the exact location of the latter is not recorded. Upon the attachment of an interpreter to Number 1
Company, it was on the 16th of July that Headquarters and its associated staff and Numbers 1 and 2 Companies proceeded to
Cinder City Camp followed by Number 3 Company on the following day.
Cinder City Camp itself was of a curious construction and located in the Graville area of Le Havre. Formerly
a dumping area for ship's clinkers and furnace refuse, this former swamp area close to the sea had been reclaimed and
transformed into a large camp with numerous hutted buildings and a large Y.M.C.A. hut to provide refreshment and entertainment
for the men. For recreational purposes, coconut matting had been laid down for sports activities and concerts were performed
regularly to break the monotony of life in the camp.
Work duties were however the primary duty of the battalion and in due accordance with orders, it was on the 19th
that Lieutenant Collett accompanied by a party comprising of 126 N.C.O.'s and men of Number 4 Company were detached for
duties at the ports railhead. Due to illness of an unknown nature, Lieutenant Collett was posted sick and admitted to a hospital
located at Rouen on the 23rd, command of the party now devolving on Second-Lieutenant Hamlyn, a former member of the University
of London O.T.C. who would eventually go on to serve with the Machine Gun Corps.
It was on the 26th of July that a draft of further officers joined the 16th
(Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. This draft comprised of Captain Flockhart Aitken? 25th Battery, Royal Field Artillery,
Captain Robert Eric Burrell, Army Cyclist Corps (unattached), Lieutenant John Mitchell Allan Dobson, 14th (Service) Battalion,
Highland Light Infantry and Second-Lieutenant John Russell Carrier, 1/5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade).
These officers reported for duty with Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 1 Companies respectively.
The Battalion War Diary now becomes rather vague on precise details other
than the promotion of the following officers to the Temporary rank of Captain, Hunt, Carrington and Woolley and the promotion
of Second-Lieutenant Hamlyn to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant, London Gazette dated 2nd of August 1916, Page 7641. On the
20th of August, Lieutenant Hamlyn and 118 Other Ranks reported back to camp after detachment at the railhead and this unfortunately
concludes the War diary entry for this month with no further details furnished.
Officers still however began to join the ranks of the 16th Yorkshire's
when on the 2nd of September, Lieutenant Edmund Owen Ethelston Peel of the 5th Dragoon Guards joined the battalion.
An experienced officer who had served on the Western Front since November 1914, Peel was attached to the battalion whilst
undergoing treatment at the Number 39 General Hospital and subsequently posted to Number 1 Company.
Upon recreation and relaxation, it is worthy to note that on the 5th, fifty
men employed on fatigues and other duties were allowed a days rest at about once every seventeen days, no doubt the men rotating
in duties so this act could be initiated. Upon this day of rest, the men used their time in the morning washing and mending
clothes, bathing and having the chance of a half decent haircut albeit to military standards. It would also appear that standard
military procedure conducted by other labour units in the area was not adhered to as a 'special' privilege was granted
to the men of the 16th Yorkshire's, passes being issued at 2 p.m. in the afternoon instead of 4 p.m. for the men to venture
out into town for some amusement.
|Le Grand Quai, Le Havre (Source: The Geneanet Community).
Second-Lieutenant Joseph Edward Gardner, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion,
East Yorkshire Regiment, was attached to the battalion on the 8th of September whilst undergoing treatment at the Number 39
General Hospital. Granted a commission from the Canadian Expeditionary Force in July 1915, Gardner was duly posted to Number
4 Company. On the following day, Captain Samuel John Markham Hole, 17th (Service) Battalion (Empire), Royal Fusiliers (City
of London) Regiment, was struck off the strength of the battalion. (Authors note: There is no record of Hole joining the battalion
and at this juncture he was also receiving treatment at the 39th Hospital, possibly due to wounds received near Carency in
July. Passed fit for general service, Hole returned to his allocated Base Depot and would go on to have an illustrious
military career being awarded the Military Cross and Bar whilst serving with the 17th Battalion). Second-Lieutenant Vernon
Reginald Chalk, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry also joined the battalion on the 13th. Attached
to the 8th (Service) Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), Chalk had witnessed service with the latter
battalion during the closing stages of the Dardanelles campaign. Also undergoing treatment at the hospital, Chalk was subsequently
attached to Number 4 Company.
a dietary note, the men's health also came under scrutiny when on the 14th, the sugar ration was reduced from three ounces
to two and a half per day when a sweetened variety of condensed milk was used! There must have also been some incident or
incidents as orders were issued for Warrant Officers, N.C.O.'s and men either quartered in the town or in the port area
to always be in possession of their identity passes at all times, these, duly being issued by the Officer Commanding.
As Lieutenant Dobson was struck off the strength of the battalion on the
14th due to being pronounced fit for general service, it was on the 19th that the weekly routine of all the battalions located
in the camp was altered when at 2 p.m., all units paraded for a Fire Practice, this being stipulated to be carried out once
a week. An outbreak of a fire for most men would have been a welcome chance to keep warm as no doubt with the month becoming
more autumnal and with the camp situated close to the sea, the September nights were proving to be now rather chilly. To this
end, an issue of a second blanket had been authorised for all troops in the garrison and as a consequence, indents had been
prepared and sent to the Army Ordnance Department.
With the month drawing of September drawing to a close, further officers joined the battalion from the 39th Hospital;
Second-Lieutenant Cecil Arthur Burrage, a Gallipoli veteran having previously served with the North Staffordshire Regiment
and commissioned into the 2nd Hampshire Regiment, and Second-Lieutenant Harry Duncan, 18th (Service) Battalion (3rd City),
Manchester Regiment, both officers being posted to Number 2 and Number 1 Companies respectively. Finally on the last day of
the month, Second-Lieutenant Reginald George Danks, 6th (Service) Battalion, Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), was
attached to the battalion from hospital and duly posted to Number 4 Company.
A Summary Of Activities
As is witnessed above, a major part of the officer cadre at this point was
drawn from those recovering from wounds or treatment at the 39th General Hospital. I can only surmise this was to effect a
transition from recuperation to that of returning to general service, to ease this change, the officers being temporarily
attached to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, for what in some respects would be 'light duty.'
During the month, the work carried out by the battalion was the same that
had first been initiated on their arrival. Every day, about 700 men were employed on unloading cargoes of various description
in the dock area and the loading and unloading of trains at the various railheads at the port. The weather had proved favourable
and hot however as this no doubt assisted the men in completing their duties, the heat also took its toll physically on the
men. The locality in which the majority of the work was carried out was paved with setts whose surface was uneven, this in
addition to the weather caused the men to suffer considerably with their feet. To alleviate the problem, a daily dressing
of Boracic Powder (Borax, with its anti-fungal qualities) was applied to the men's feet.
The issue of the number of officers detailed for duties was also raised with
the Officer Commanding the Troops of the Town and Port of Le Havre. It was pointed out that the officers had little or no
time to conduct their administrative duties such as the censoring of letters, pay parades for the respective companies, the
inspection of barrack rooms and of course as previously stated, the inspection of the men's feet. It would appear that
the O.C. Commanding Le Havre treated this 'correspondence' with little consideration as orders were received from
the latter directed that these duties should be undertaken by the Orderly Officer and the officer in military parlance "at
rest." It was noted in the War Diary that "it is very probable that the interior economy will suffer in
consequence," but it would appear that the Colonel took matters into his own hands and directed his Company Commanders
to carry out as much as the interior economy as they could after the men returned to the camp at the end of the day.
As per the previous month, there were also departures and arrivals as regards
officers. On the 2nd of October, Lieutenant Chalk was struck off the strength of the battalion upon having been passed fit
for general service. On the following day, Second-Lieutenant Alfred Charles Tozer of the 9th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
joined the battalion and was posted to Number 4 Company along with Second-Lieutenant Frank Hollingworth also of the 9th D.L.I.
who was in turn posted to the 4th Company. Lieutenant Peel departed and was struck off the strength on the 6th, Peel eventually
gain the award of the Military Cross in 1918 whilst serving with the Dragoon Guards.
In terms of equipment issued to the battalion, a welcome addition was sanctioned
on the 6th when Oil Skin Long Coats and Sou'westers were granted to be issued to the extent of 70% of the strength
of the battalion for use on fatigues. Exposed to wet and trying conditions at times, the facilities to dry clothes at the
camp it was noted were woefully inadequate and this issue, when it came to fruition, would prove to be most useful. There
was now an attempt to co-ordinate all of the labour available at Le Havre and it was therefore decided to place this labour
under the umbrella of one single Corps. This Labour Corps as it was to be known, was to be placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Hill himself and would comprise of Army Service Corps Labour Companies, Naval Labour Companies, Cheshire Regiment Reinforcements
the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and all Labour units passing through Le Havre that were delayed for a long
enough period to be employed. With Colonel Hill exercising complete control over the Corps, to assist in his duties the Labour
Superintendent would be assigned to Hill's command and act as his Staff Officer, distributing labour as required.
Further officers still continued to join the battalion when on the 8th, 11th
and 13th of the month respectively, Second-Lieutenant Richard Ernest Ramsbottom, 9th (Service) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers,
Second-Lieutenant Henry Lee Ellis, 11th (Service) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters and Captain (Hon. Major) Ivo Reginald Limbert,
3rd (Reserve) battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, reported for duty. These officers were duly posted to Numbers 4, 2
and 3 Companies.
Due to the
reorganisation of labour in the port, Lieutenant Hamlyn and Second-Lieutenants Cross, Ramsbottom, Tozer, Cox and Ellis commenced
a course of instruction on the 16th of the month. This course comprised of instruction in the unloading and discharging of
cargoes and the stacking of stores in the numerous Hangars located in the port area, this instruction being carried
out under the direction of officers of the Base Supply Depot, Army Ordnance Depot and the Royal Engineers. It was no doubt
a rather double edged sword as far as the officers were concerned as prior to this, their only main duty consisted of marching
the men to and from their duties and the supervision of these work parties to ensure there was no 'slackening.' It
was expected therefore that after the completion of the course, these officers would be then suitably qualified to take control
of an entire task from commencement to completion.
As Lieutenant Rees, the Battalion Medical Officer departed on the 16th for duties with the 56th (London) Division,
the health and well-being of the men was now supervised by the Medical Officer, Cinder City, however for one man,
he would ultimately be beyond the help of any medical assistance due to a tragic accident.
It was on the evening of the 19th of October that one working party of Number
3 Company suffered a fatality whilst performing their duties at the Hangar aux Cartons. Private Edmund Wright, 31358,
a native of Swaby, Lincolnshire, felt the urge to urinate and no doubt after either informing a pal or the officer in command,
made his way to the Quai de la Garonne to relieve himself. It was surmised that Edmund was blinded by the reflection
of light in the water and unfortunatley he fell into the water. A hurried telephone call was then received at Battalion Headquarters
whereupon the Officer Commanding Number 3 Company, Captain Robinson accompanied by Captain ? Royal Army Medical Corps, proceeded
to the spot immediately. At 9.30 p.m. and shortly after the arrival of the officers, Edmund's lifeless body was pulled
from the water but it was unfortunately too late and the Medical Offer pronounced that life was extinct. On the 28th, the
results of a Court of Inquiry were announced highlighting the dangers of the practice of urinating in the dock. As a result,
strict orders were now issued that the practice must cease with immediate effect but for Edmund the order was too late in
coming. Aged just 39 years, Edmund Wright, the first casualty to be suffered by the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment,
was laid to rest at the Sainte-Marie Cemetery, Le Havre. In addition to his place of burial, Edmund is also commemorated on
the Swaby War Memorial, Lincolnshire.
Towards the close of the month there were also more departures amongst the officers. On the 28th, Second-Lieutenant
Burrage proceeded to hospital and was subsequently struck off the strength whilst on the 30th, Second-Lieutenant Danks was
passed fit for duty and upon proceeding to his allocated I.B.D. (Infantry Base Depot), he too was accordingly struck off the
strength of the battalion.
the days and nights turned colder still, orders were issued on the last day of the month for the authorisation of a third
blanket for the men. In addition to this welcome item to make the possibility of a good night's sleep more conducive,
a ration of two ounces of butter, when available, was to be issued as an equivalent to two ounces of bacon.
Summary Of Activities
Of the officers who had passed their course of instruction in unloading and
discharging cargoes, it was noted that several officers who were now in charge of their duties from start to finish were growing
in confidence and gaining a certain amount of satisfaction from their performance. The duties were of a similar nature to
those carried out previously such as unloading at the docks, the stacking of stores and general warehousing but however mundane
these activities appeared, it was noticed by higher authority that the 16th Yorkshire's and the Corps it was now contained
in, were performing to the best of their abilities.
Deficiency In Kit: November
The first day of the month of November commenced with another departure when Second-Lieutenant Duncan, Manchester
Regiment, was pronounced fit for service and proceeded to his allocated Base Depot. (Authors note: Re-joining his unit on
the 6th of November, Harry Duncan would be killed in action on the 23rd of April 1917 whilst his battalion, the 18th Manchester's,
were engaged at Heninel south-east of Arras). On the 11th, Lieutenant Albert William Heaton, Adjutant of the 7th (Service)
Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, attached to the battalion whilst undergoing medical treatment, proceeded to re-join
A deficiency in
kit in mid November no doubt caused some consternation in particular to the Quarter-master, Hon. Lieutenant Anderton. It soon
became apparent that whilst the men were employed on fatigues, there was no allocated place for the men to store their great
coats and other items of their equipment. As was so often the case, the men were sometimes hastily assembled to perform duties
in a different Hangar other than that initially allocated for work and this left them very little if no time at all
to gather together their kit. Subsequently, losses of equipment and uniform were duly reported daily despite attempts to recover
the missing articles. It was even suspected that there may have been some foul play afoot and to this end orders were issued
recommending that N.C.O.'s take every possible precaution to prevent these losses either by detailing a sentry to guard
kit or depositing the latter in one place and kindly asking the nearest Military Policeman if one is available to see that
it is not interfered with!
the end of the month, two further officers reported for duty, Captain Gerard Norman Watney, 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal
West Kent Regiment, and Lieutenant John Alfred Anderson, 13th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, both officers reporting
for duty with Number 2 and Number 1 Companies respectively.
Summary Of Activities
Duties had been performed as in the previous months namely at the docks, the Base Supply Depot however they had also
found themselves carrying empty artillery shell cases to the Empty Shell Case Dump. On the last day of the month, the men
had discharged cargo from the S.S. "Geddington Court," this work receiving high praise for their efficient
handling. The Officer Commanding Labour Corps dated the 6th of December:-
"I beg to inform you that very good work was done in discharging
S.S. "Geddington Court" on Nov. 30th.
I should be glad if you think fit to inform Lt. Breadmore and the men of E Section No 1 Coy. & C Section
No 30 Coy. Labour Corps and the men of the Yorkshire Labour Battn. that their good work has been appreciated. The work on
the Quay generally has been very good, but the score made by Lt. Breadmore & his men was exceptionally good."
Sgd. F Hervey-Bathurst Capt.
D.A. Q.M.G., M.L.O.
High praise indeed from the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General, Sir Frederick
Edward William Hervey-Bathurst, Bt. (Authors note: Breadmore. Possibly Charles Walter Breadmore, Army Service Corps).
December: The Close of The Year 1916
December proved to be relatively quiet as regards the entry for the month
in the pages of the War Diary, the work consisting of duties that had been carried out during the months previously.
Hon. Lieutenant & Quarter-master Anderton, in addition to his own duties,
now assumed the role of Camp Quarter-master at Cinder City replacing Lieutenant J. Bennett (not traced) on the 6th.
On the 10th, Captain Watney replaced Captain Carrington as O.C. Number 1 Company whilst on the same day, Captain and Hon.
Major Limbert assumed the pay and command of Number 4 Company viz Captain Hunt.
With promotions and departures for leave recorded, on Christmas Day the vast majority of the men completed thier
duties at noon, the remainder of the day being granted as a half-day holiday as special arrangements were made to provide
the men with some Christmas fare and festivities. Upon their first Christmas away from home and their loved ones, the thoughts
of Fred and his comrades must have been those of mixed emotions as the war moved on into its third year. Little did the men
know that in 1917, the Allies would launch three major offensives by the close of the year and their names still resonate
in history today; Arras, Third Ypres and Cambrai. All three battles and their various phases would ultimately lead to the
death of many a man from the Yorkshire market town of Wetherby.
Of those officers who remained at Le Havre during the festive and New Year period, in the first weeks of the month
many departed for a leave of absence to England. For one officer however, the gaiety of the festive season was not an opportunity
to return home for a time of celebration with family and friends but to mourn the death of his mother. Captain Watney returned
home to Valence, Westerham, Kent, on the 1st of January to attend the funeral of his mother who had unfortunately died on
the 29th of December. As the Colonel and other officers went on leave and eventually returned, towards the end of the month
there was an edict issued as to the reporting of accidents. All, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time, were to
be reported at once to the Orderly Room with full particulars and signed witness statements. It was good safety practice beyond
doubt and initiated to avoid the trivial accident, if it occured again, turning into one of a more serious nature. As regards
duties for the month, they were more or less of the same as those carried out previously however there were some challenges
due to the festive season.
sections of the men had been employed in the Mails & Parcels Forwarding Depot and it was noted that the work
in itself became arduous on account of a backlog of Christmas parcels and mail passing through the establishment. Despite
this, work as a whole had not proved to be as much as a strain on the men as in the months previously but there was little
variation in the work that the battalion performed and the tasks allocated were now performed and executed as part of their
daily routine. The health of the men it was noted was excellent and there were few in number who reported sick to the Medical
Officer during the month of January, rather surprising as on the whole the demographic composition of the battalion numbered
men primarily over the age of 30 years of age. There was however one exception amongst the officers when on the last day of
the month, Lieutenant Hamlyn was admitted to hospital on the 24th and subsequently posted to England on the 31st and struck
off the strength. (Authors note: A former student at the University of London and a member of the O.T.C., Hamlyn would be
posted back to the front in January 1918 subsequently serving with the Machine Gun Corps).
February: Drafts, Drunkeness & Division
As yet more officers departed for a leave of absence, it was on the 9th of
February that a serious charge was levelled against one officer who as a consequence, was placed under arrest. Lieutenant
Anderson it transpired, had been found in a state of drunkeness in the Officers Mess located at the La Floride Camp
and proceedings were now initiated for trial by General Court Martial.
It was on the 12th of the month that a draft of 168 Other ranks arrived from an unknown Base Depot located at Etaples,
near Boulogne, this draft being followed on the same day by a further influx of 40 O/R's. On the 22nd, the trial of Lieutenant
Anderson was held, the promulgation of the sentence being announced on the 27th. Found guilty, Anderson was subsequently deprived
of twelve months seniority.
Into The Labour Corps
It is during this month that the War Diary of the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment comes to an abrupt
end. According to Wylly's History, the battalion remained at Le Havre until the month of April whereupon the
battalion prepared itself for a major reorganisation during the early days of the following month. Absorbed by the newly formed
Labour Corps as were a number of infantry labour battalions, the 16th Battalion were now divided into two Labour Companies,
the 22nd and the 23rd Labour Companies under the commands of Captain Harold Gaskell and Captain Swinburne Robinson respectively.
The date of the formation of at least the 22nd Company can be roughly ascertained from surviving service documents as on or
about the 12th of May 1917, I can only presume that the formation of the 23rd also occurred on or around this date. With each
company comprising of a Captain or Major in command with four subaltern officers, the establishment numbered about 500 non-commissioned
officers and men. (Source: Wylly's History).
Although reorganised, both the 22nd and the 23rd Companies retained an affiliation with their parent unit, i.e. the
16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment as did most of the infantry battalions assimilated into the Labour Corps for a
certain period of time. As both companies did not record a War Diary and came under the command of higher military authority,
an analysis of the Fifth Army Assistant Director of Labour War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/537/6) dated the 24th of July, 1917, records
that the 22nd Labour Company were to be placed by this date in 19th Corps and contained within the 66th Labour Group. Authority
for this Group to be formed had been received on the 11th of July and in addition to the 22nd Labour Company, the Corps also
comprised of the 20th, 24th, 31st, 102nd, 103rd, 124th, 131st, 150th, 178th, 187th, 188th, 194th, 195th and 49th Labour Companies.
An analysis however of the 57th Labour Group Headquarters War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/571/1/2) indicates that before the formation
of the 66th Group, the 22nd Labour Company had initially served in the 57th Group also contained within 19th Corps between
the 15th of June and the 24th of July. With it's Headquarters initially established in the Rue d' Elverdinghe, Poperinghe,
this Group also contained the 31st, 178th, 124th, 131st and 49th (Chinese) Labour Companies as of the 11th July 1917, Officer
Commanding, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Kyme Cordeaux.
With the Fifth Army Assistant Director of Labour establishing his Advanced Headquarters at Couthove Chateau on the
Proven - Poperinghe Road, Officer Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel Henry William Gordon, D.S.O., the 66th Labour Group, as of
the 24th of July, were to be composed and employed on various duties as Corps Groups; the 22nd Labour Company, at Railheads,
the 187th, 124th and the 103rd Companies on Roads, whilst both the 195th and 150th Companies were to employed at Corps level.
In addition to the 66th Group, 57th Group with its Headquarters now located at the Rue de Cassel, Poperinghe, were to supply
two companies employed on roads whilst five companies would be employed at Railheads respectively. The 38th Labour Group,
with its Headquarters located near Red Farm north-west of Brandhoek, were to supply two companies to the Railway
Construction Engineers and one company to the Assistant Director of Light Railways.
Wylly's History records that the 22nd Labour Company had initially
proceeded to the Belgian town of Poperinghe. Of the 23rd Company, their destination was to be the town of Bailleul, near the
Belgian border, both towns vital railheads that supplied the Allies with various materiel for the prosecution of
Situated about eight
miles west of Ypres, "Pops" as the town was often referred to by "Tommy Atkins," was
vital to the supply of the Ypres Salient as well as being a billeting area and the location of numerous Casualty Clearing
Stations. Often targeted by long range enemy artillery and subjected to frequent air raids, the town was far from being a
safe haven but despite this, soldiers at rest frequented the many bars and other facilities that the town had to offer both
for recreational and spiritual purposes. (Authors note: Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Robert Benyon Nevill Gunter Bt. was acting
possibly as Town Major in June 1917 and residing at the famous officers club known as "Skindles."
The reader may wish to refer to his commemoration on this website).
|Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community
|Poperinghe: Rue du Nord. Before The War Visited.
The Ypres Salient: The Casualties
31st of July
On the 31st of July, an application to the Director of Labour was made for
two "white" companies for work on roads and railheads in both 18th and 19th Corps areas. (Authors note:
Designated "White" companies so as to differentiate for example the former from Chinese and West Indian
Companies). Despite the lack of a War Diary, on the 31st of July 1917 as the Battle Pilckem Ridge was launched, the 22nd Company
suffered its first casualty in the Ypres Salient, one Private George Overton, 12923, aged 28 years. Enlisting at Ripon in
about February 1916, Soldiers Died In The Great War records that he previously served as 25127, West Yorkshire Regiment
however his entry in the Medal Rolls states he served previously as 31378, Yorkshire Regiment. The son of William, a 'Cab
Proprietor' and Elizabeth Lumley of Skegness, Lincolnshire, George had also followed his fathers vocation and prior to
the war his occupation was described as that of a 'Cab Driver' and Livery Stable Assistant. Performing duties close
to the town of Ypres, possibly on the Menin Road, an extract of a letter published in the Boston Guardian and dated the 18th
of August 1917 from his Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Newman, states the circumstances surrounding his unfortunate death:-
"We left our camp
at midnight on July 31st, a small party of 30 strong, and marched to our position in front of a well-known town which has
been in ruins two-and-a-half years, smashed by the Huns, and arrived there at 4.30 a.m. Upon us rested a great responsibility
in keeping certain bridges and tracks clear. The 'boys' though under constant shell-fire from the enemy, and amidst
the barking of our own guns, 'carried on' without fear during the push. At about 7.30 p.m. a shell dropped near your
son, and he was hit in the abdomen, and another man had his wrist broken. Your son did not live above a minute. We covered
him up, and during the morning I selected a spot for his burial, and at 2.30 p.m. we laid him to rest, after having found
a Nonconformist minister to read a short service at the graveside. I threw a simple white flower on his remains, and myself
made a temporary cross to denote where he lay. The boys then put two plants on the grave also. He did his duty cheerfully,
died a soldier of the King, and the whole Company mourn his loss. May he rest in peace."
Originally buried in a small cemetery close to the Menin Gate, George's
body was exhumed in 1919 and reinterred at Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery along with a number of the fallen. In addition to his
place of burial, George is also commemorated on the Skegness War Memorial located in the grounds of St. Matthew's Church.
In terms of casualties, the month of August would appear to be a 'quieter'
month for the officers and men of the 22nd Company. With the arrival of the 1st Labour Company on the 8th of August, as of
this date, the 66th Group comprised of the following units:- 1st, 22nd, 103rd, 124th, 150th, 187th and the 195th Labour Companies.
Still contained in 19th Corps, Headquarters of the Group at this juncture were established at map reference G.12.a.7.4.
at Brandhoek, the 22nd Company being employed at the Raihead. On the 27th of the month however, the company was about
to lose another man whilst performing their duties.
John Richardson, born at Oldham, Lancashire. John Richardson born in 1890 to parents James, occupation, a Miner, and Mary
Ann Richardson, in the 1891 Census the family were residing at Scarr Hall, Linthwaite, West Yorkshire. Shortly after John's
birth, the family had relocated to Nelson, Lancashire, and at the recording of the 1901 Census they were residing in premises
located in Seldon Street. His father at this point in time had changed his occupation to that of a Contractors Labourer, his
mother also finding employment as a Cotton Winder, the family also comprising of a further two children, William born in 1892,
and Maggie, born in 1899 respectively. With another child Mary Ann being born in 1902, upon the death of his father in the
early 1900's the Richardson family relocated the short distance to Harvey Street where in the 1911 Census John is recorded
as being employed in a Loom Foundry. Married in the following year to one Miss Alice Ann Hall on the 24th of December, a newspaper
article published in September 1917 provides further details of his life and his death aged 27 years.
Enlisting at Barrow-in-Furness, it is recorded in the aforementioned article
that initial service was conducted with the "King's Liverpool Labour Company". This would equate to
service with either the 23rd or 24th (Works) Battalions of the Regiment however it is impossible to state with some degree
of accuracy the exact battalion he originated from before his posting to the 22nd Labour Company. The Burnley News dated the
15th of September furnishes more details, in the form of a letter sent to Alice from Captain Reginald John Holtom:-
"Official news has been received by Mrs. Richardson of 7, Bowling
green, Barrowford, of her husband's death, Private John Richardson, King's Liverpool, Labour Company, who was killed
in France. He was 27 years of age, and was formerly a doubler at Nelson's Valley Mills. He had also worked at Vickers'
Works, Barrow, for two years. He formerly lived in Nelson. Captain R.J. Holtom immediately communicated the sad news to Mrs.
Richardson, and subsequently forwarded the following communication:- "Labour Coy., B.E.F., France, 27th August, 1917.
- Dear Mrs. Richardson, - Since writing to you this morning I have further information relating to your late husband, which
I thought you might wish to know. He was killed by an enemy long-range shell which fell in the camp in the early hours of
this morning; a fragment pierced his brain, and I should imagine he was killed painlessly and instantaneously. The camp police
were on the scene with stretchers at once. I saw his head being bandaged; he appeared to me to be already dead; but hoping
there might possibly be some chance of saving his life, I had him conveyed with all haste to the nearest field ambulance,
where the medical officer pronounced that he was dead. His body was laid to rest near at 5 p.m., this afternoon, Lieut. Jerrain,
(Not traced) his platoon commander, myself, Sergt. Potter, (Possibly Sergeant George Samuel Potter, 12609) and
a small body of the men were present at the short solemn service conducted by a Chuch of England minister, over his grave.
A small regulation cross, bearing his name, was placed at the foot, and the company are making a large white wooden cross
to place at the head of his grave as a token of respect. Allow me to express to you my deepest sympathy in your great and
irreparable loss. May our heavenly Father comfort and sustain you in your sad bereavment. Hoping you may derive comfort from
the knowledge that your husband died for his King and country and did not suffer any pain, respected and mourned by all ranks,-
Yours sincerely, Regd. J. Holtom.
letter was received from the chaplain - "Dear Mrs. Richardson, - I buried your brave husband in Brand Lock (sic)
Military Cemetery, yesterday, 27th inst. His grave will be cared for and a cross erected. I hope this card and photo will
cheer you up, as it tells of love winning through sin and death to life, into which I trust your husband has passed. - Your
friend, E. Hill, Chaplain." (Not traced).
in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No. 3, John is also remembered at Barrowford on the War Memorial located in Barrowford
Memorial Park. Alice would never remarry and would die at Nelson, Lancashire, in 1973 aged 82 years.
6th of September
There was about
to be yet another change of Group and Corps however before this transfer was realised, the 6th of September would witness
the deaths of two men from wounds, Private Fred Gent, 12788, and Private Thomas Jones, 12840.
Fred Gent was born at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in 1879, the son of Richard,
occupation, Iron Moulder, and Isabella Gent. Enlisting at Mansfield in April 1916, Soldiers Died In The Great War Database
records that he had previously served with the South Staffordshire Regiment, 39387. The Medal Rolls record that he then
served with the Yorkshire Regiment, 44026, before being transferred to the 22nd Labour Company. Wounded and evacuated to one
of a number of Casualty Clearing Stations located at Dozinghem north of Poperinghe, Fred succumbed to his wounds and is now
buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.
Jones was born at Widnes in 1883 but by the year of 1911 he and his widowed mother were residing at Number 16, East Street,
Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Describing his occupation in the Census of the latter year as that of a Tanyard Labourer,
he enlisted or attested for service at Leicester in April 1916, Soldiers Died recording that he had previously served
with the South Staffordshire Regiment, 23516. An analysis of the Medal Rolls has no record of service with this Regiment but
then indicates service or transfer to the Yorkshire Regiment, 31239, before also being transferred to the 22nd Labour Company
and renumbered 12840. The Leicester Daily Post dated the 20th of September 1917 records in a small article, the circumstances
surrounding his death, "the effects of gas poisoning". The Register of Soldiers' Effects states
that Thomas died of "Gas Shell Wounds" at the 47th Casualty Clearing Station located at Dozinghem aged
34 years and is buried in the nearby Military Cemetery.
now appears to be some form of pattern emerging as to casualties sustained at this period by the 22nd Company. On the 7th
of September, three further men would die from wounds received, Corporal Henry Kelly and Privates Edgar Heworth and Isaac
Stott respectively. On this date also, the Company were transferred to the 57th Group of Fifth Army, this order to be effected
by the 9th. By this date, the 57th Group would now comprise of the following units; 1st, 22nd, 131st, 188th, 746th Area E.
Co., 49th, 55th, 59th (Chinese) and the 4th B.W.I. Companies respectively.
7th of September
Edgar Barron Heworth was born at Leeds on the 4th of April 1886 to parents
John William, occupation, a Joiner, and Elizabeth Heworth, the family residing at this period at Number 12 St. Alban's
Place in the Brunswick District of the City. (Authors note: This area roughly now located in the Little London/ Merrion Centre
area). By the year of 1901, the family had relocated to the Mill Hill area of the City whereupon they took up residence in
Portland Street, Edgar, now aged 14 years, finding employment as a Clothiers Errand Boy/Porter. In 1911, the family had relocated
once again to the Sheepscar District, the family occupying premises in Sheepscar Street where Edgar was now employed in the
Tailoring Industry as a "Cutter". At some point after this year, the family moved to Tramway Street also located
in Sheepscar and in May 1913, Edgar, employed as a Shop Assistant, entered a union of marriage with one Mary Lilian Hanson,
a native of Holbeck.
Establishing their marital
home in Marshall Street, Holbeck, Edgar enlisted at Leeds and was posted overseas to join the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire
Regiment, in July/August 1916 and subsequently numbered 31018. (Authors note: Soldiers Died records previous service
with the West Yorkshire Regiment, number 33128). Edgar was admitted to the Number 2 General Hospital at Le Havre in November
suffering with a "contusion of the toe" and discharged to duty after spending 26 days in hospital. (Source:
T.N.A. MH 106/962).
Upon transfer to the 22nd
Labour Company, Edgar was renumbered 12804 and died of wounds received on the 7th of September 1917. Although there are no
surviving service documents, there is an entry for Edgar in the National Roll Of The Great War, Section VIII - Leeds.
This entry, confirmed by Pension Records, states that he was "badly gassed, and gave his life for his Country
at Ypres in 1917". Buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, his inscription reads "Greater Love Hath No
Man Than This "Ye Are My Friends".
information is know about Henry Kelly other than he was born at Preston and enlisted at Newcastle. Rather adding to confusion,
Soldiers Died records that he had originally enlisted into the Notts. & Derby Regiment and was numbered 30884,
the Medal Rolls also recording this Serial Number but service with the Yorkshire Regiment. Suffice to say, Henry served with
the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment before being transferred to the 22nd Labour Company and renumbered 12615.
Serving in Number 3 Platoon (Source: WO363), Henry succumbed to gas wounds at the 47th Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem
and he now lies in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. (Authors note: His pension records declare that he left behind an adopted
son, one Cameron Orr born in 1907, and another son, Henry Kelly, born in 1914. Both children were placed according to instructions
under the guardianship of one Miss Elizabeth Freeman of West Stanley, Durham).
Isaac Stott was born at Prescot, Lancashire, in 1883 to parents Thomas, a
Watchmaker, and Sarah Stott, the family residing in premises located in Kemble Street. In 1891, the family are recorded as
having moved to Chester Street, off Kemble Street, his two elder brothers, William and Joseph following in their fathers footsteps
finding employment as Watchmakers Apprentices. 1901 would witness the family having relocated once again the short distance
to Huyton with Roby, residing in premises known as Townfield Cottages. There appears to have been a down turn in the family's
fortunes as the living conditions in this area were poor, possibly reflected by Thomas' change of vocation, the latter
census describing himself and Isaac as General Labourers.
in 1904 to one Emily Houghton, the 1911 Census records that the couple along with three children were residing in Houghton
Street, Prescot, Isaac's occupation being described as that of a General Labourer, Electric Cable Works, in the employ
of the British Insulated & Helsby Cables Limited, Prescot. Unfortunately, Emily would die in 1915 at the untimely age
of just 31 years, Isaac remarrying in that same year to one Hannah Owen, also a native of Prescott. This marriage would be
blessed by the birth of a further child, Minnie, in June 1916.
at Prescot, it is surmised that Isaac was mobilised in early September 1916 however his date of posting overseas is not known
at present but this may most likely to have been after May 1917. This would seem to be confirmed by his serial number, 216875,
issued by the Labour Corps with no previous service with an infantry battalion. Serving in Number 2 Platoon (Source: WO 63),
Isaac succumbed to wounds "received in action (Gassed Shell), at the 47th Casualty Clearing Station and now
lies in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour located
in St. Marys Church, Prescott.
Smith, aged 20 years and a native of Romiley, Stockport. Born in 1897 at Romiley to parents William, occupation, a Felt Hatter
"Planker" (Worker), and Susannah Smith, the family recorded in the 1901 Census as residing at Number 2, Green Lane.
By the year of 1911, Norman, one of five surviving children and now aged 14 years, had found employment as an Errand Boy in
a Cotton Mill.
Enlisting at Chester possibly
about April 1917, initial service may have been conducted with the 1st Labour Battalion formed from the 23rd (Works) Battalion,
King's Liverpool Regiment. Posted to the 2nd Platoon, 22nd Labour Company, Norman succumbed to the effects of gas at the
47th Casualty Clearing Station and is now buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, Norman
is also commemorated on the Bredbury and Romiley War Memorial along with his brother, Bertram, who was killed whilst serving
with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in July 1917.
of the wounded continued at the Casualty Clearing Stations to the rear when on the 8th of September, Privates Thomas William
Kidd, Frederick James, Arthur Green and Daniel Sweeney unfortunately died.
Thomas William Kidd was born at Willington, County Durham in 1881, the son
of James, occupation, a Coke Yard Labourer, and Elizabeth Kidd. At the recording of the 1901 Census, Thomas was residing as
a Boarder at Robson's Yard, Willington, his occupation being stated as that of a Sanitary Sink Moulder. In that same year,
he entered a union of marriage with one Sarah Ann Thompson, the daughter of a Coal Miner, the couple setting up their marital
home in Clarence Terrace, Willington.
at Bishop Auckland, an analysis of other surviving service documents indicate that he may have attested for military service
in December 1915 under the auspices of the Derby or Group Scheme. Mobilised in June 1916, Thomas was posted
to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and allocated the number 30996. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company,
he succumbed to wounds ("Gassed (sic) Shells") at the 64th Casualty Clearing Station located at
Mendinghem aged 36 years and is now buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery.
(Authors note: His brother Robert, after emigrating to Canada, would serve in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France with
the 102nd Battalion).
James was born at Middlesbrough in 1893 to parents David, occupation a Bricklayers Labourer, and Mary Ellen James. By the
year of 1911, "Fred" had found employment in the heart of the north-eastern Foundries as a Labourer at a Blast Furnace,
the family residing in premises located in Cannon Street. Deemed to have enlisted in about June 1916 into the Yorkshire Regiment
and numbered 30923, upon transfer to the 22nd Labour Company he was renumbered 12835. Succumbing to "Wounds Gas Shell"
at the 47th Casualty Clearing Station located at Dozinghem aged just 23 years, he is now buried in Dozinghem Military
A married man,
Arthur Green was born at Middlesbrough in 1883, the son of Jonathan and Mary Ann Green. Married in 1910 to one Eleanor Young
Teasdale, the couple set up their marital home at Wellington Street, Thornaby-On-Tees, Arthur's occupation being recorded
in the 1911 Census as that of a Shipyard Labourer. Deemed to have enlisted in about June 1916, he subsequently joined the
Yorkshire Regiment and was numbered 3091. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company and renumbered 12771, his Pension Record
simply denotes that he died of wounds, the Register of Soldiers Effects recording that death took place at the 47th
Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem where he is now buried in the associated Military Cemetery.
Daniel Sweeney, a resident of Seaforth, Liverpool. Daniel Aloysius Sweeney
was born in 1891 at Lancaster to parents, James, occupation, an Oil Mill Warehouseman, and Ruth Sweeney, the family in 1901
residing in premises located in Rossini Street, Seaforth, Liverpool. By the year of 1911, the family had relocated a short
distance to Rawson Road however Daniel was not residing in the family residence at this juncture having now found employment
as a Servant/Farm Labourer at Haslingden, Lancashire. After this point, his movements are not known however he may have returned
to the family residence prior to enlistment.
the lack of surviving service documents, we can plot his military service with some degree of accuracy. Enlisting at Bootle
in early May 1917, Daniel was initially posted to the 1st Labour Battalion, formed from the 23rd (Works) Battalion of the
King's Liverpool. Posted overseas to the Labour Corps Depot in early June 1917, he was then posted to the 22nd Labour
Company. Dying of wounds, possibly gas, at the 4th Casualty Clearing Station, Daniel is now buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.
Robert Thompson, aged 22 years and a native of Hull. The son of Frederick, an Engine Fitters Labourer and Adelaide Amelia
Thompson, Robert was born in 1895. By the year of 1911, Robert had found employment as a Tanners Labourer but before enlistment
he was employed in farming at Holderness. Enlisting at Hull in June 1916, Soldiers Died records that he had previously
served with the East Yorkshire Regiment, Number 25296 however in a familiar pattern, the Medal Rolls indicate service with
the Yorkshire Regiment as 31445. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company from the 16th Yorkshire's, Robert died of wounds
at the 61st Casualty Clearing Station located at Dozinghem aged 22 years and is now buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery,
the inscription on his gravestone reading "He Did His Bit". The Hull Daily Mail dated the 20th of September
published the following article as regards him and his patriotic family:-
"Pte. Robert Thompson (Labour Battalion), the younger son of Mr
and Mrs F. Thompson, 113, Stepney-lane, Beverley-road, died in France from wounds and gas on September 9th. Before enlisting
he was in farm service in Holderness. He was 22 and has two brothers serving, Lce.-Corpl. W Thompson, E.Y.R., reported wounded
and missing May 3rd, 1917, now reported prisoner of war in Germany and Second-Lieut. F Thompson, M.G.C., with the Australian
Forces. Another brother has just arrived in England from Australia. He has also done service. Pte. Thompson had three brothers-in-law
note: Corporal Wilfred Thompson, 10/1417, 10th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, shot through the right hip and
captured at Oppy Wood on the 3rd of May 1917. Second-Lieutenant Frederick Thompson, M.G.C., proceeded overseas to France from
England the day after his brothers death. On the day that the above newspaper article was published, he was taken on the strength
of the 23rd Australian Machine Gun Company, 3rd Australian Division. Frank Thompson. A.I.F. but no service record digitised
as of 2019).
Vine, a resident of Newton Solney, Derbyshire. George was born in 1887 at Eastbourne to parents Alfred Albert, occupation,
a Plasterer, and Maria Vine, employed as a Laundress.The 1891 Census records that at this juncture the family were residing
in premises located in the Queens Mews (Cavendish Place), George being the youngest of four children. His father is absent
in the former census and that recorded in 1901, the family in this year recorded as residing in Longstone Road, George, now
aged 14 years, employed as a Porter in a Music Shop. In the year of 1907, one of his brothers, Alfred, would unfortunately
die at the untimely age of 25 years followed by his mother in November 1910. In the following year, George was still residing
in the family home at Longstone Road however his occupation is now described as that of a Piano Tuner, a skill no doubt acquired
in his time spent employed in the music shop. He had also employed a Housekeeper, one Miss Diana Hall, a native of Newton
Solney, Derbyshire, and had also taken in a Boarder, one Thomas Kemp, a Provision Merchants Assistant. Possibly residing at
Devonport after 1911, George along with Diana moved northwards to Derbyshire where they were married on the 17th of November
1915 at St. Mary's Church, Newton Solney.
attesting for service in November 1915 at Burton-on-Trent, George was subsequently placed on Army Reserve until being mobilised
in June 1916. Posted to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and numbered 52153, upon transfer to the 22nd Labour
Company he was renumbered 13051. Whilst serving overseas, the couples only child was born on the 15th of March 1917 and named
Roye Verdun George Vine. Dying of wounds at the 61st Casualty Clearing Station, George is now buried in Dozinghem Military
Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated on the War Memorial located in St. Mary's Church,
"Jack" Douglas, a native of York. John Harton Douglas was born at York in 1887 to parents George, an Upholsterer,
and Jessie Douglas, the family residing in premises located in Clarkes Terrace, Walmgate, York. By the year of 1901, the family
had relocated a short distance to Elmwood Street, George now describing his occupation of that of a Drapers Warehouseman.
By the year of 1911, the family had relocated once again to River Street, in the Clementhorpe district of the City whereupon
"Jack" had now at this juncture found employment as a Printer.
at York, Soldiers Died indicates previous service with the West Yorkshire Regiment, 25513, however the Medal Rolls
just record service with the Yorkshire Regiment, 31364. Enlisting in about March 1916, initial service was conducted with
the 16th (Labour) Battalion before his transfer to the 22nd Labour Company. Renumbered 12740, he succumbed to wounds, cause
not known, and is now buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery. (Authors note: His brother George, a married man, would also
serve with the 2nd West Yorkshire's. He would succumb to wounds received in March 1918). Both brothers are also commemorated
on the St. Clements Church War Memorial, Scarcroft Road, York.
11th of September
The 11th of September would witness the deaths of four further men and the
severe wounding of another; Private James Arthur Collins, Private John Hogan, Private Bernard Corr, Private Henry Corcoran
and Private William Clarke. It was on this date that a burial party of the 22nd Labour Company was employed near Ypres however
the composition a strength of the party is not recorded in the 57th Group Headquarters War Diary. One may surmise that the
above casualties may possibly have been sustained whilst in performance of these duties.
James Arthur Collins, aged 26 years and a native of Hull. Born at Hull in
1891, James was the second son of Charles, a Railway Signalman, and Ann Collins. At some point between 1901 - 1911 whilst
residing in De la Pole Avenue, his father had become disabled, the latter census details actually describing him as "paralysed".
Dying aged just 55 years in June 1913, at some point after the death of Charles, Ann and James relocated to Leeds, taking
up residence in Haddon Place, Burley. Employed at the G.P.O. as an Engineer, James enlisted at Doncaster, Soldiers Died
recording that he enlisted originally into the West Yorkshire Regiment and was subsequently numbered 25138.
An analysis of service numbers, located in surviving service documents, suggests
that James did in fact initially serve in the West Yorkshire Regiment and may have possibly attested for military service
in December 1915 under the Derby or Group Scheme. Mobilised in February 1916, he was then posted to the
Depot of the West Yorkshire Regiment before being transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment in June 1916
and renumbered 31391. It is of interest to note that between posting to the latter regiment, a period of service may have
been performed with the Notts. & Derby Regiment however this cannot be determined with some degree of accuracy. Posted
overseas in July 1916, he was then transfrred to the 22nd Labour Company and renumbered 12709. Dying of wounds aged 26 years
at one of a number of Casualty Clearing Stations located at Lijssenthoek, he now lies in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. "We
Shall Remember When Others Forget".
|Yorkshire Evening Post Dated The 20th Of September, 1917
John Patrick Hogan was born at Cork, Ireland, in 1880, the only
son of Patrick and Margaret Hogan of Great Britain Street. Shortly after his birth, the family emigrated to England and took
up residence in Leeds, the 1891 Census records that they were residing in premises located in Wolseley Terrace, in the Burley
area of the City. With his father employed as a Police Constable, by the next Census taken in 1901, the family had relocated
to the Harehills area, the family residing in Bellbrooke Grove, John now employed at the age of 21 years as a "Terracotta
Presser". Married in 1904 to one Ada Stirk, two children were born, John Patrick in 1904, and Harry in 1911, the family
home being established in Bean Street, York Road, in the Burmantofts area of the City. (Authors note:- According to pension
records, at some point before or during the year of 1911, the couple had in fact separated). Employed at the British United
Shoe Machine Company (Ltd.) in North Street, Leeds, John remained in their employ until his enlistment. (Source: Yorkshire
Evening Post dated the 20th of September 1917). Enlisting at Leeds possibly in late 1915, Soldiers Died records that
he originally attested for service with the West Yorkshire Regiment and was subsequently numbered 34350. Posted to the Depot,
John was then transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and numbered 31709 before being transferred
to the 22nd Labour Company. Dying "from the effects of gas poisoning," (Y.E.P.) at one of the Casualty
Clearing Stations located at Mendinghem, John now lies in Mendinghem Military Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial,
John is also commemorated on the Kirkstall War Memorial Plaque located on Bridge Road, Leeds. (Authors note:- Pension records
confirm that John died from "wounds - (gassed shelled)"
Private Bernard Corr, a native of Thornaby-on-Tees. The precise date of his
birth varys in a number of sources however a medical document dated February 1917 states that his recorded age was that of
54 years. The 1871 records the Corr family, parents Dennis, a Labourer, and Ann Corr, a Dressmaker, residing in premises located
in Long Row, Thornaby. At the recording of the next census taken in 1881, Bernard is referred to as "Barney" and
aged 16 years, he and his five siblings were still residing with their parents at the same address. It appears that Bernard
chose a military career at an early point in his life when he enlisted at Stockton-on-Tees in September 1888 into the ranks
of the 3rd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. Stating his occupation as that of a Labourer and his declared age as 20 years, his
employer was one Mr. John Crosthwaite, owner of an Iron Foundry located at Thornaby and employing circa 1881 120 men and 50
boys. Enlisting into the militia for a period of six years, it appears that his service was extended with the battalion up
until at least the year of 1898 where in surviving service documents it was recorded that he was "excused"
from annual training. It soon becomes apparent that Bernard was actually transferred to the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire
Regiment, and would subsequently witness service in South Africa during the Second Boer War 1899 - 1902. Awarded the Queen's
South Africa Medal with six clasps, upon his return to England, the 1911 Census records that at this juncture "Barney"
was residing in a Common Lodging House located in Black Bull Yard, Stockton-on-Tees and employed as a Labourer at an Iron
Enlisting at Stockton in early 1916,
Bernard was then posted to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, in about June and numbered 32022. Whilst stationed
at Le Havre, Bernard was admitted to the Number 2 General Hospital in February 1917 suffering from Bronchitis and was treated
at this establishment for a period of five days before being posted back to his unit. (Source: T.N.A. MH 106/968). Upon formation
of the 22nd Labour Company, he was subsequently numbered 12715 and recorded as killed in action on the 11th of September.
Buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Bernard is also commemorated on the Thornaby-on-Tees Cenotaph. Unmarried, his effects
were left to his surviving brothers and sisters.
Henry Corcoran, a native of Longton, Staffordshire. Henry Thomas Corcoran, more commonly referred to in numerous
documents as just "Thomas," was born at Longton, Staffordshire, in 1884 to parents Patrick, a Lodging House Keeper,
and Bridget Corcoran, the family residing in 1881 in premises located in Gold Court. Upon the death of his father in 1888,
the 1891 Census records that the family had now relocated to premises in Railway Passage, the family surviving financially
by the taking in of lodgers in addition to a married daughter and her husband working in the Pottery industry. In the 1901
Census, of Thomas there is no trace however by the year of 1911 he is recorded as a Boarder in premises located in Berry Lane,
Longton, along with one Miss Eliza Jane Colclough. Both Thomas and Eliza at this juncture were employed at an Earthenware
Factory, their occupations being recorded as an Oven Worker and a Potters Wheel Turner respectively. Romance duly blossomed
and in the following year the couple were married in the winter, that same year also witnessing the birth of their first child,
Henry Thomas, born on the 2nd of January 1912. Just shortly after the outbreak of the war, a second child, Eliza Jane was
also born on the 25th of August 1914, the family recorded, as of 1919, residing in premises located in Barker Street, Longton.
Enlisting or attesting for military service
at Longton in late 1915, Thomas was initially placed on the Army Reserve before being posted upon mobilisation in May 1916
to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment and numbered 25693. Transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment within a matter of days, Thomas was then renumbered 30947. Upon formation of the 22nd Labour Company and
duly numbered 12695, he was killed in action on the 29th of September and now lies in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. The Staffordshire
Sentinel dated the 11th of September 1919 published a small memoriam notice from his family:-
"In loving memory of Pte. H.T. Corcoran, Labour Company, Labour
Corps, beloved husband of E.J. Corcoran of 24, Barker street, Longton, who was killed in action September 11th, 1917, aged
In a grave far, far away,
A sad wife's thoughts wander
day by day;
Unseen to the world he
stands by my side,
dear wife, don't fret, death does not divide.
Fondly remembered by his Wife and Children, and a Friend".
Upon the sad death of Eliza in August 1921, the children were placed
under the guardianship of their Aunt, one Jane Chambers. In addition to his place of burial, Thomas is also commemorated in
St. Gregory's Catholic Church at Longton, further memoriam notices appearing in the local press up to the year of 1928.
William Clarke was
born at Hull to parents John Henry, a Circular Sawyer by trade, and Maria Clarke, the family residing in 1901 in premises
located in Raikes Street, Drypool, Hull. By the year of 1911, the family were recorded as residing in Marvel Street, Drypool,
and in the year of 1915, it would appear that the family had, in the intervening years, once again took up residence in Raikes
Street. Whilst residing here, William's eldest brother Joseph had enlisted into the East Yorkshire Regiment and would
ultimately serve with the Royal Army Medical Corps after being evacuated from France with "severe trench feet".
During this period, William had found
employment at Joseph Ranks and Sons Limited, Flour Millers, in their mill located in Clarence Street, Hull, a profession that
he would perform for over two years. With a home address now recorded as Church Street, Drypool, he attested for Military
Service in May 1916, possibly under the auspices of the Military Service Act, aged 18 years and 4 months. William was then
placed on the Army Reserve before being mobilised on the 31st of August 1916 and subsequently posted to the Depot of the East
Yorkshire Regiment. During the following month, he was then posted to the 25th (Works) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, who
at this juncture were stationed at Skipton before being transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment in
January 1917 "in the field". (Authors note: Posted overseas on the 7th of January 1917 and after being
'processed' at the 37th Infantry Base Depot, Etaples, he was subsequently despatched to Le Havre). Issued the serial
number 42116, upon redesignation of the battalion, he was to serve in the 1st Platoon of the 22nd Labour Company, number 12704.
Due to surviving service documents, this is
the first instance that the Company, or at least one of their body, was subjected to an aerial attck by the enemy. Clarke
stated on Army Form B. 179. that on the 11th of September at Ypres:-
"He was on a working party, was struck by a bomb from an aeroplane".
Receiving initial treatment
at the 1/2nd East Lancashire Field Ambulance, attached to the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, an analysis of this units War
Diary (T.N.A. WO95/2652/2) records that this F.A. was located at Red Farm, north-west of Brandhoek.
Passed along the casualty evacuation chain to Mendinghem, William was then evacuated to the coast to receive more specialist
treatment at the 14th General Hospital located at Wimereux.
With both legs and both hands shattered, there was also wounds to his right arm that necessitated the amputation
of the index finger on his right hand. Evacuated to England onboard the HMHS "St. Andrew," after many months
spent in hospital William was discharged from military service in March 1918. Struggling to find work due to his disability,
the 1939 Register records that at this juncture he had found work as a Dock Labourer, remarkably, due to his injuries, involved
in what is described as "heavy work". Despite his disability, William would live to the ripe old age of
92 years and this 'old soldier' would simply "fade away" at Hull in May 1990.
12th of September
Albert Ernest Jagger, a native of York. Albert was born at York in 1890 to
parents Thomas, a General Labourer, and Sarah Jagger, the family residing in Dennis Street, in the Walmgate area of the City.
By the year of 1911, the family had relocated to Jackson Street in the Bootham area, Albert, aged 20 years, now described
in the Census of that year as occupation, Printers Labourer. (Authors note: Recorded in the 1911 Census as Ernest Albert Jagger).
Prior to enlistment, Albert had changed his occupation and had found employment at Rowntrees of York along with many of his
siblings, the family also relocating once again to Park Crescent located just a short distance from the previous family residence.
Attesting for service at York in November 1915, Albert was mobilised in February 1916 and initially posted to the Depot of
the West Yorkshire Regiment and numbered 25143. Transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and renumbered
31394, he was then subsequently transferred to the 22nd Labour Company and numbered 12841. Dying of wounds at one of the Casualty
Clearing Stations located at Dozinghem, he is now buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery. In addition to this, Albert is also
commemorated on the Rowntree Memorial Board located in their former factory on Haxby Road, York and the King's Book located
in York Minster. It is of interest to note that two of his brothers would also serve in the war, George in the Army Service
Corps, and Stephen Hague Jagger with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Both brothers would thankfully survive the conflict.
As an ongoing programme of
reclassifying men continued in the Labour Corps, it was on the 16th of September that 170 Other Ranks from the 1st, 22nd,
131st and 188th Labour Companies were declared Category "A," i.e. they were deemed to have attained a standard
of health according to their age. Suitable for active service, these men were, as a consequence, subsequently despatched to
the Labour Corps Base Depot located at Boulogne. A case if one may describe it as "out of the frying pan and into
Williamson, a native of Broomfleet, East Yorkshire. Born at Faxfleet in 1887, George was the son of John George, a Brickyard
Labourer, and Jane Williamson, the family in 1891 residing in premises located in Canalside. By the year of 1901 and now aged
just 14 years, George had found employment as a Cow Boy /Servant in the employ of one Matthew Johnson at Faxfleet. Married
in 1908 at Howden to one Beatrice Bradley, the marriage would be blessed by the birth of two children, Irene May in 1909 and
Thomas Randolph born in 1913. Prior to 1911, George had found employment at the Broomfleet Brickyard, a sadly depleted workforce
upon the outbreak of the war due to the amount of employees that had taken the "King's Shilling".
Deemed to have enlisted under the auspices of the Military Service at Beverley
in June/July 1916, George was initially posted to the ranks of the East Yorkshire Regiment and numbered 26065. Transferred
to the 25th (Works) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and numbered 48635, he was then once again transferred to the 16th (Labour)
Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and renumbered 42951. Although the latter transfers cannot be dated with any degree of accuracy,
upon formation of the 22nd Labour Company, he was subsequently issued the number 13090. Dying of wounds at one of the Casualty
Clearing Stations located at Mendinghem, he is now buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial,
George is also commemorated on the Broomfleet War Memorial along with his sisters husband, Harry Waddingham, who died of wounds
at Etaples whilst serving with the East Yorkshire Regiment.
25th/26th of September
By the 25th of September, it is possible that with some degree of accuracy,
that we can determine the position of the Company in the Ypres Salient. It would appear that they were performing duties in
the Wieltje area, east of Ypres, and somewhere in the vicinity, two men, Privates Fred Brettoner and Albert Cudworth were
either killed or died of wounds.
Brettoner was born at Barnsley in 1881, the son of John, a Colliery Labourer, and Jane Brettoner, the family residing in premises
located in Doncaster Road. In 1892, his father would unfortunately die at the untimely age of just 51 years and by 1901, Fred
had found employment as a Bedstead Maker. Married during the following year to one Lily Currie, the couple would establish
their marital home in Spring Street, a son, John being born in 1903. A further child Maria would be born in 1915 however she
would unfortunately die in May 1918.
at Barnsley, Soldiers Died records that he previously served with the York & Lancaster Regiment and was subsequently
numbered 27065. An analysis of this number sequence suggests that he may have been intended for service in the ranks of the
16th (Transport Workers) Battalion however it is more than likely that no service was conducted with this battalion. Allocated
to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and numbered 32027, he was then transferred to the 22nd Labour Company
and numbered 12685. Killed in action on the 26th of September, Fred is now buried at Wieltje Farm Cemetery.
Albert Cudworth was born at Ossett, near Wakefield, in 1897, the son of
William, a Confectioner, and Elizabeth Cudworth, the family residing in premises located in Naylor Street. By the year of
1911, Albert had found employment as an Errand Boy and at some point after the latter year, the family had relocated to premises
situated in Dewsbury Road. Enlisting at Ossett, Soldiers Died records that he initially enlisted into the Notts.
& Derby Regiment and was numbered 48716. An analysis of this number sequence suggests that Albert may have been originally
destined for, or even served with, the 20th (Labour) Battalion of the Regiment for a short duration before being subsequently
transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and renumbered 31599 respectively. Upon formation of the 22nd
Labour Company, he was then numbered 12718 and would die of wounds on the 25th of September 1917 aged just 20 years. Albert
is now buried in Wieltje Farm Cemetery but in addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated in his home town of
28th of September would witness the death of another man from gas poisoning, one Herbert Horton of Langham, Rutland. Born
in April 1888 at Oakham, Herbert was the son of John, an Agricultural Labourer and Mary Ann Horton, the family residing in
premises in John Street. Between the years of 1901 - 1911, the family had relocated the short distance to Langham however
at the recording of the latter census, Herbert was residing as a Boarder with his married sister at premises located in Constance
Road, Leicester. Employed as a Farm Labourer, he enlisted at Oakham in the late March of 1916 and according to Soldiers
Died, he initially served in the ranks of the South Staffordshire Regiment, numbered 23515. (Authors note:- An analysis
of this range of serial numbers suggests that he was conscripted under the auspices of the Military Service Act 1916.
Posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Regiment, he may well have been destined for a posting to the 20th (Labour)
Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters however he was subsequently posted to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment,
in June and renumbered 31229). Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company and numbered 12814, Herbert succumbed to the effects
of gas at one of the Casualty Clearing Stations located at Dozinghem. The following article published in the Grantham Journal
dated the 20th of October 1917 records not only Herbert's death, but that also of his brother, John Robert, killed whilst
serving with the 10th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment on the 28th of April 1917 at Roeux, east of Arras.
"The sad official news has been received by Mrs. Horton, Langham,
of the death in action, on 28th September, of her youngest son, Pte. Herbert Horton. The deceased joined up in March, 1915
(sic) and had not been home on leave since. He was aged 29 years. His death arose through gas shells, causing blindness
and other complications. His family have received very nice and comforting letters from the Sisters in charge of his hospital,
and also from the Captain of his unit. Mrs. Horton's fourth son, Pte. J. R. Horton (Lincolns) has been posted missing
since April 28th. Another letter arrived in June, saying that nothing more had been heard of him. He was in his 31st year.
Mrs. Horton and family have every sympathy in their bereavement".
|Grantham Journal Dated The 20th Of October,1917
|Herbert Wearing The Capbadge Of The South Staffordshire Regiment
The Battle Of Polygon Wood, 26th September - 3rd
Further changes in the composition of the 57th Group had also occured during
mid September when on the 18th of the month, the 124th Labour Company joined the Group. On the 21st, the 731st Labour Company
also joined direct from the United Kingdom and it was on this date also that the 1st Labour Company were forced to move camp
at Oakhanger, just to the east of Poperinghe (G.3.b.2.4.) to the south-west of Hagebaert-St Jean, south
of the town, due to the constant shelling of the area. The 188th Labour Company ceased to be administered by the 57th Group
on the 23rd whilst the 187th Labour Company, posted to the group on this day, took over their camp. Changes in structure continued
when on the 26th, the 124th and 731st Labour Companies along with the 746th Area Employment Company ceased to be administered
by the Group followed on the 28th by the 59th Chinese Labour Company. As of the latter date, the 57th Group departed Fifth
Army of which it had been associated since the formation of the Labour Corps. Now transferred to the II ANZAC Corps who had
relieved V Corps on the 28th of September, the 22nd Labour Company were now once again to be moved closer to the the front
during the course of the battle.
Following the successful " Battle of the Menin Road Ridge," the
advance was to be resumed by both the Second and Fifth Armies on the 26th of September. Despite heavy counter-attacks by the
German Army, it was of paramount importance that all efforts and arrangements were to continue so as to mount this next phase
of offensive operations. The frontage of this attack, about six miles in length, was to extend from a position south of "Tower
Hamlets," west of Gheluvelt and south of the Menin Road, to a position north-east of St. Julien, north
of the Menin Road. To the south, the attack of the Second Army was to comprise of a short advance whilst the Fifth Army to
the north were to gain a position whereupon an attack could be launched on the ridge of high ground between Noordemdhoek and
Broodseinde, traversed as it was by the Becelaere - Passchendaele Road. It is beyond the scope of this commemoration
to examine the battle in great detail however I will now focus on events during the last days of the month in the sector occupied
by V Corps commanded by Temporary Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Arthur Fanshawe K.C.B.
During the battle, both the 3rd and 59th (2nd North Midland) Divisions of
V Corps had made good progress eastwards towards the Passchendaele Ridge despite numerous counter-attacks by the enemy. Supported
during the advance by the R.F.C. and the R.N.A.S. that mounted bombing raids on targets to the rear, in the sphere of direct
operations both infantry and artillery units also benefited from the use of contact aircraft as well as low flying patrols
that bombed and strafed attacking and assembling enemy units. As some battalions of the 59th Division were about to be relieved
by elements of the 1st New Zealand Brigade, it is of interest to note that on the 29th of September, the War Diary of the
2/4th Leicesters (T.N.A. WO95/3022/4), 177th Infantry Brigade, 59th Division, states that the situation was "very
quiet on both sides". This was due to the fact that German artillery were withdrawing some of their heavy guns and
beginning to commence registration from 'new' positions further to the rear. Although shelling was reported to be
sporadic and desultory during the course of the day, in the early evening there was a heavy bombardment that lasted for a
period of ninety minutes. The main threat however on the day in question was not from artillery but that from the air. With
main arterial routes to the front eminating from Poperinghe, Brandhoek and Vlamertinghe, the roads were simply swamped with
multitudes of traffic necessitating vast numbers of men employed in various duties to 'feed' the front. As Field Companies
of both the 59th and 3rd Divisions constructed dug-outs, 'plank' roads and general road construction, the 22nd Labour
Company set about their work, possibly on repairing or building a road in the vicinity of Wieltje, east of Ypres. Whilst performing
their duties, a disaster struck that led to the deaths of numerous men and the wounding of countless others.
|Wieltje From The East
|Photograph Taken From The 'Old German Front Line'. Author:- July 2019
Saturday, 29th September, 1917
With the line now established some distance further to the east of the above photograph, it was of paramount importance
to move guns, men and materiel closer to the 'new' front. Established in the Old British Front Line,
the War Diary of the 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, 3rd Division, (T.N.A. WO95/1430/3) recorded that the day was
marked by "amazing audacity of the German airmen who came over our lines at very low altitude and actually fired
on men in trenches and dropped bombs". As forward movement of artillery and anti-aircraft guns to the front was
an ongoing problem due to the state of the roads and tracks, the Fusiliers War Diary further records that the men working
either in the front line or to the rear were left undefended by the threat from the air. "Our AA Craft (sic)
were apparently not near enough up to engage enemy craft even when they were at such an altitude as would have permitted
them doing so". Dangerously exposed, a bomb or bombs subsequently fell on or near a working party of the 22nd Company
resulting in the deaths of seven men outright, and the wounding of a number of others, some, who possibly succumbed to wounds
received in the days that followed. As to the exact time and the location of this unfortunate incident, this is unknown, but
as far to the rear in the late evening of the 29th, heavy bombing raids were mounted by the enemy on camps and roads at Poperinghe,
Brandhoek and Vlamertinghe.
Private Arthur Darfield,
aged 37 years and a native of Leeds. Arthur was born at Leeds in 1881 to parents William, a Wheelwright by occupation, born
at North Deighton, and Eliza Darfield, the family home being located at Number 8, Lorry Bank, in the Buslingthorpe area of
the City. Shortly after his birth, the family moved the short distance to Fosters Buildings and by the year of 1891, the family
had relocated to Horsforth residing in premises located in Stansfield Fold. In the census taken in that year, his father is
absent from the family home, and possibly by this juncture, his father was suffering from mental health issues that ultimately
led to his death in Menston Asylum in 1893 aged just 39 years. There is no trace of the Darfield family in the 1901 Census
however I surmise that at this juncture, Arthur was residing in the Armley area of the City and employed as a 'Grinder'.
Married in 1906 to one Florence Binns at Christ Church, Armley, the couple established their marital home at Walker's
Place, Wortley, and in the following year the couple were blessed with the birth of their first child, Harry. In 1909, another
son was born, Robert, and by the year of 1911 the family were residing at Number 4, Alma Cottages, Otley Road, Headingley,
Leeds, Arthur's brother, Ernest aged 24 years, also residing with the family. At some point after 1911, the family moved
to Bulgaria Street, Whingate Road, Armley, and in December 1914, another son, William was born but he would unfortunately
die in 1919.
Enlisting at Leeds possibly in
December 1915, upon mobilisation he was initially posted to the West Yorkshire Regiment, 33002, before being transferred to
the Yorkshire Regiment and renumbered 30958. Serving with the 16th (Labour) Battalion, he was then transferred to the 22nd
Labour Company upon formation and renumbered 12724. After his death, his widow Florence completed his commemoration details
from an address in Tadcaster Street, Tong Road, Wortley. Buried in Aeroplane Cemetery, Arthur is also commemorated on the
Armley War Memorial, Leeds.
Private James Percy Halliwell, aged 41 years and a native of York. James was born at Halifax in 1876 to parents James, a Grocer,
and Mary Jane Halliwell, the family residing in premises located in Manchester Road. By the year of 1891 and residing in Commercial
Road, James along with his elder sister Florence were now at this juncture employed as Grocer's Assistants, their father
being recorded as a Storekeeper for the Co-operative Society. Departing the family home, the 1901 Census records that James
was now a Boarder residing at premises located in Cottingham Street and aged 24 years, his occupation was still recorded as
that of a Grocers Assistant. As regards the Halliwell family, they had relocated to York at some point in time, James Halliwell
(Senior) describing his occupation as that of a Grocers Assistant (Worker) with the family residing in Ambrose Street in the
Fulford area of the City. Between the years of 1901 - 1911, James had rejoined his family at York and still remaining in his
vocation, he remained with the family until his enlistment into the army.
Enlisting under the auspices of the Derby Scheme in the winter of 1915, James was subsequently posted to
the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment upon his mobilisation in March 1916. Transferred to the 16th
(Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and renumbered 31406, he was posted to the 22nd Labour Company on formation and numbered
12823. Buried in Aeroplane Cemetery, James is also commemorated on his parents grave located in York Cemetery in addition
to being commemorated on the Fulford War Memorial located in the grounds of St. Oswald's Church.
Private George Edward Thornborow, a native of Stockton-on-Tees. Born in 1883,
George was the son of John, occupation recorded in the 1881 Census as a Boiler Smith, and Margaret Alice Thornborow, the family
residence at this juncture being Number 6, Commercial Street, Stockton. In the year of 1901 and the family now residing in
Hume Street, George, now aged 17 years, had found employment as a Painters Apprentice and in 1903 at the gathering of the
North of England Federation of Master House Painters, his work and that of other apprentices was exhibited at the Mechanics
Institute earning him the award "Class B, Standard 1". (Source:- Jarrow Express & Tyneside Advertiser
dated the 27th of February 1903). Married in the following year to one Elizabeth Ann Brown, a son George Edward would be born
in 1904 followed by a daughter, Ella, in 1906. At the recording of the 1911 Census, the Thornborow family were residing at
Number 16, Tees Street, Stockton, George being employed as a Ships Painter in one of the numerous shipyards located in the
Attesting for service at Stockton in
December 1915, George was then possibly placed on the Army Reserve before being mobilised circa June 1916 and posted to the
16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment and numbered 30890. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company upon its formation
and renumbered 13029, George was killed on the 29th of September leaving a widow and two children to mourn his death. Buried
in Aeroplane Cemetery, his wife would remarry in 1919 one James Richardson Strike who had also served in the war with the
Durham Light Infantry and South Staffordshire Regiment. In addition to his place of burial, George is commemorated on the
Stockton Cenotaph and on his parents grave, sadly broken and in a state of disrepair, in Durham Road Cemetery, Stockton-on-Tees.
|Durham Road Cemetery: Date Unknown
|By Kind Courtesy Of The Gravestone Photographic Resource
Private Bernard Stewart, a native of Portwood, Stockport. Bernard
was born in 1892 at Stockport to parents Thomas, occupation a 'Cotton Overlooker,' and Ellen (Helen) Stewart. Upon
the untimely death of his mother in 1893, in 1901 the family were residing in Harrison Place, Bernard's father apparently
recorded by the Enumerator as having no stated occupation. (Authors note: Annotated by the letter "Z").
With the family supported by his two elder sisters, by the year of 1911, there is no trace of Bernard however his youngest
sister, Harriet, aged 20 years, was recorded as a Patient at the Stepping Hill Poor Law Hospital, Stockport. Married in 1915
to one Harriet Brett also of Stockport, a child, Henry, was born in November 1916 followed by another son, Bernard, in December
1917, just over two months after the death of his father.
Enlisting or attesting for service at Chester, I surmise that Bernard may have attested as early as December 1915.
Subsequently placed on the Army Reserve, he was then possibly mobilised in mid 1917 and posted directly to the 22nd Labour
Company. Killed in action on the 29th of September, Bernard is now buried in Aeroplane Cemetery, his headstone bearing the
insignia of the Labour Corps.
Walter Wood, a native of Sheffield. Born at Sheffield on the 30th of August 1885, Walter was the son of John, occupation,
a "File Cutter," and Ann (Annie) Elizabeth Wood, the family residing at premises located in Sylvester Street. In
the 1891 Census, the family comprising of a further four siblings were residing with his mother's father, one Henry Oldale,
a Table Knife Cutler, in premises in the same street. By the year of 1901, Walter, now aged 15 years, had found employment
as a "Pocket Knife Grinder" (Cutlery), the family still residing at premises located in Sylvester Street. A 'colourful'
character who liked a drink and had more than one 'brush with the law,' Walter entered a union of marriage on the
30th of December 1906 to one Louisa (Louie) Markham and it appears that at this juncture he had also changed his occupation
to that of a "Bottler". As his father-in-laws occupation is described as that of a "Drayman" on their
marriage certificate, I can only presume that Walter was now employed with one of the many breweries located in Sheffield
at this point in time. Socially, it may have been at this point in his life that he displayed a 'sporting bent' and
became active in local football circles playing in the Sheffield Licensed Victuallers League. The marriage was blessed by
the birth of their first child Ivy in November 1908 followed by William in December 1911, the family at this point residing
in premises located in Stockton Street. (Note: In the 1911 Census, it appears that Walter had reverted to his former occupation
and is now recorded as a "Grinder" at a Cutlery Works). Unfortunately, Louisa would die on the 8th of May 1915 at
the untimely age of just 27 years and I can only surmise that at this juncture the children may have been placed in the care
of their maternal grandmother Mary Ann Markham who would upon Walter's death become their guardian. (Note: At some point
either before the death of his wife or after, Walter's residence is recorded in a newspaper article as Wilson Street in
the Neepsend area of the City).
lack of service documents, an analysis of the serial number issued to Walter indicates that he attested for military service
at Sheffield in December 1915 and was subsequently placed on the Army Reserve. Mobilised in May/June 1916 and initially posted
to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment, number 27729, his service with this battalion was of a short
duration whereupon in the latter month he was transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment. Numbered 31731,
upon formation of the 22nd Labour Company he was renumbered as 13080 and unfortunately killed in the explosion of the aerial
bomb on the 29th of September and now lies in Aeroplane Cemetery. The Sheffield Independant dated the 16th of October 1917
published a small obituary which reads:-
"He was very popular, a keen cricketer and footballer and will be sadly missed by us all"
writes his company captain of Pte. W. Wood, Yorkshire Regiment, who was killed in action on 29 September. Pte. Wood, whose
home was in Wilson street, Sheffield, was well known in local football circles, being a prominent player in the Sheffield
Licensed Victuallers League".
Both Ivy and William would now be brought up by their grandmother at 6 Court, 5 House, Wilson Street, Neepsend. William
would live to the age of 77 years and die in 1989 at Sheffield whilst Ivy would live to the age of 62 years and die at Sheffield
in 1971. In addition to his place of burial, Walter was also commemorated on the War Memorial located in St. Michael and All
Angels Church, Neepsend, but on the demolition of the church in the 1950's and the removal of the memorial to another
church, the latter is now sadly lost and its location unknown.
Private William Williams, a native of Neston, Cheshire. William Williams was born at Neston in 1878, the
son of William, occupation, a Labourer, and Hannah Williams, the family as of 1881 residing in premises located in Bridge
Street. The 1891 Census records that William's father was unemployed, annotated by the letter "Z," William
and his elder brother supporting the family by working as Coal Miners aged 13 and 19 years respectively. Movements of the
family now seem to appear to be rather ambigous but there is a suggestion that they relocated to Birkenhead area of Merseyside,
William's sister Kate marrying in the City in 1899. In 1915, William married one Miss Margaret Ethel Jones of Duke Street
located in the Ropewalks area of the City of Liverpool. Residing only a short distance away in Slater Street, the marriage
took place at Our Lady and St. Nicholas Church. (Authors note: Margaret also originated from Neston and was born on the 1st
of January, 1886, the family residing in the 1891 Census in Bridge Street). I surmise that William and Margaret returned to
Neston, pension records issued after his death recording the address of Margaret in late 1917 as Number 8, Park Street.
Enlisting at Chester in about April/May 1917, akin to many soldiers serving
in the 22nd Labour Company, I surmise his original service was conducted within the ranks of either the 23rd or 24th (Works)
Battalions, King's Liverpool Regiment before being posted to the 22nd Labour Company. Numbered 204551, William was killed
in action on the 29th of September and is now buried in Aeroplane Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, William is
also commemorated at Neston on the War Memorial located in St. Mary and St. Helen's Church.
The Wounded:- Ypres Reservoir Cemetery
There are a number of men who whilst serving with the 22nd Labour Company
succumbed to wounds on the 29th of September 1917 or in the days that followed. It is impossible to state with some degree
of accuracy if their deaths are related to the aerial bomb explosion or if they were wounded some days previously. They may
have even been serving in a different platoon but on the premise that they may have been victims also, I will now record in
the first instance Sergeant Bland, John Kelly, Samuel Teasdale and Benjamin Williams who were either killed or died of wounds
and who are now buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.
Sergeant Bland, a native of Bradford. Born at Bradford in 1877, Sergeant was the son of Phineas, occupation, a Cart
Driver, and Nancy Bland, employed as a Worsted Weaver, the family residing in 1881 at premises located in Dolphin, Clayton,
Bradford. Upon the death of his father in 1889 at the untimely age of 43 years, Sergeant, his mother and his seven siblings
took up residence in Reva Syke Road, Clayton, himself now aged 13 years find employment as a Spinner in a Worsted Mill. In
the 1901 Census and with the family now residing in Oak Street, Sergeant is now absent from the family home as it appears
that he had in fact emigrated to the United States that very same year. Married in 1902 to one Emma Kubitz and employed as
a Stone Cutter, by the year of 1910, he had now been unemployed for a considerable period of time. In September of that year,
his youngest son Phineas would die aged just five months and this compounded by financial difficulties was possibly the catalyst
for his return to England. Departing the family residence in Monroe County, New York, it is not known when he actually returned
to the United Kingdom but a further child, Colonel Heyward Bland was registered as born at North Bierley, Bradford, on the
7th of April 1914. As regards occupation, marriage documents for his children state that Sergeant had, prior to his enlistment,
found employment as an Insurance Agent, the family taking up residence in Clayton Lane, Clayton, Bradford.
Enlisting at Bradford, a newspaper article states that this took place shortly
after the outbreak of the war however a calculation of his war gratuity actually indicates service taking place from late
October 1915. Soldiers Died in the Great War records that he had previously served in the West Yorkshire Regiment,
his number being 22251 and his commemoration by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission states previous service with the 3rd
(Reserve) Battalion of the Regiment respectively. If this is a correct progression, the 3rd Battalion remained on the north-east
coast of England forming part of the Tyne Garrison and this may explain to some extent his transfer to the Yorkshire Regiment.
Renumbered 31385, he was then posted overseas in early 1917 to the 16th (Labour) Battalion whereupon he was numbered 12608
upon formation of the 22nd Labour Company. The Shipley Times And Express dated the 26th of October 1917 contained a short
article recording his death:-
S. Bland, of Clayton Lane, Clayton, has been killed. He was 40 years of age, and joined the army shortly after the declaration
of war. He was quickly promoted, and first went out to France over eight months ago. Two months ago he had ten days' furlough.
He has left a wife and five children, for whom much sympathy is felt".
Dying of wounds received in action, Sergeant is now buried in Ypres Reservoir
Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated on the War Memorial located at Clayton. After his death,
pension records state that Emma was residing at Number 8, Green End, Clayton.
Samuel Teasdale, a native of Middlesbrough aged 30 years. Samuel was born
in the year of 1887 to parents Thomas, occupation, a Coal Dealer, and Catherine, the family residing in 1891 at premises located
in Hatherley Street, Linthorpe. By the recording of the 1901 Census, the family had relocated to Prince Charles Street in
Newport, Thomas now describing his occupation as that of Timber/Firewood Dealer (Own Account), Samuel now aged 13 years presumably,
at school. There appears that in the next census recorded in 1911 that Samuel had trangressed the law and is now a Prisoner
at H.M. Prison, Northallerton, his occupation and aged 23 years being described as that of a Street Hawker (Firewood). Of
his misdemeanhour, I can find no record.
for military service at Middlesbrough in early February 1916, Samuel was then placed on the Army Reserve before being mobilised
in June of that year. Posted to the 16th (Labour) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, and numbered 32018, upon transfer to the
22nd Labour Company, he was then renumbered 13043. Soldiers Died records that he was killed in action on the 29th
of September however the Register of Soldiers' Effects states that he died of wounds, this being confirmed by
surviving pension documents. Buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery in addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated
on the Middlesborough War Memorial.
Benjamin Williams, a married man and a native of Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Born in 1884 at Llanelly, Benjamin
was the son of William, occupation, a Haulier (Cart), and Mary Williams, the family residing in premises in 1891 at Copperworks
Road. One of four children, by the recording of the next census in 1901, the family had relocated to premises located in the
High Street and at this juncture aged 18 years, Benjamin had also found employment like his father as a Haulier. It appears
that he had a fondness for a drink, a habit that would inevitably witness him on the wrong side of the law in the year of
1905. No doubt mending his ways so to speak, Benjamin married one Miss Mary Jane Humphreys at Llanelly in the year of 1910
and in the census taken in the following year the couple were residing at 'Greenfield Cottage,' Low Road, Llanelly,
Benjamin stating his occupation as that of a Builders Haulier. Sadly, the couple had lost their first child in this year however
in August 1914, a son, William Henry Williams was born to the couple.
Enlisting at Cardiff, it is impossible to state with some degree of accuracy when he enlisted or when he was posted
overseas but I surmise that enlistment may have taken place on or around May 1917. Surviving service documents of other soldiers
in the number sequence 2032** then suggest a posting to the 1st Labour Battalion before being posted overseas Dying of wounds
received in action, he is now buried in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery and in addition to his place of burial, Benjamin is also
commemorated on the Llanelly War Memorial. Shortly after his death, a baby daughter was born, Ethel Mary Elizabeth Williams
on the 26th of October 1917, one more child who would never know their father.
John Kelly, a native of Middlesbrough. Little information is known about
John other than he was the son of Mary Ann Kelly who in 1917 was residing at 33, Frederick Street, Middlesbrough. Attesting
for military service in December 1915, John was subsequently placed on the Army Reserve before being posted to the 3rd (Reserve)
Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment in the following March and numbered 3/19779. Service is now somewhat ambiguous but there
is a suggestion that he may have then been transferred to the 25th (Works) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry before being posted
overseas in February 1917. Initially posted to the 34th Infantry Base Depot located at Etaples, he may have then been posted
to the 12th (Labour) Battalion, West Riding Regiment but in April was subsequently transferred to the 22nd Labour Company
and numbered 12849. Succumbing to wounds received in action, the Commonwealth War Graves database records his death as the
28th of September 1917 however other sources record his death on the following day, the 29th respectively.
The Wounded: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Two men who were victims of the explosion of the bomb(s) were evacuated along
the Casualty Clearing Line to the vast complex of Casualty Clearing Stations located at Remy Sidings (Lijssenthoek) south
of Poperinghe. Despite receiving medical treatment for their wounds, Corporal Walter Jarman would die on the 29th of September
and Private Frank Tate on the following day respectively.
Walter Jarman (Jarmin) was born in 1890 at Glemsford, Suffolk, to parents, George, occupation, a Mat Maker, and Agnes
Jarman, the family residing in premises located in Egremont Street. By the year of 1901, the family had moved a short distance
to premises located in Angel Lane but in the following years the family, for reasons unknown, relocated to Leeds and by the
year of 1911 were residing at Number 28, Leasowe Road, Hunslet Carr, Leeds. Now aged 20 years, Walter was also employed like
his father in the Mat Making industry along with a brother and sister in the industrial heartland of the south of the City.
Despite the lack of surviving
service documents, Walter originally enlisted into the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment and was subsequently numbered
25118. Possibly attesting for military service under the Derby or Group Scheme in December 1915, his subsequent War Gratuity
indicates mobilisation on or about the 30th of January 1916. Transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment in the following month,
he was then numbered 31412 and posted to the 16th (Labour) Battalion of the Regiment. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company
upon formation, he subsequently succumbed to wounds received in action on the 29th of September 1917 at one of the numerous
Casualty Clearing Stations located at Lijssenthoek. Two memoriam posts appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated the 29th
of September 1920 from his father and mother and siblings:-
"JARMAN.- In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother, Corporal Walter Jarman, West Yorkshire Regt.,
aged 26 years, who was killed in action in France Sept. 29, 1917.
The evening star shines o'er the grave
Of one we loved but could not save
From earthly pain to heavenly rest
Missed by those who loved him best
Ever remembered.- From his dear Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers, 28, Leasowe Rd., Hunslet Carr, Leeds".
brother, William, also served in the war. Believed to be known as "Billie," he would attest for service at Leeds
in April 1917 just short of his eighteenth birthday. Initially serving in the Training Reserve, he would eventually be posted
overseas in April 1918 and serve within the ranks of the 15/17th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Wounded in July 1918,
"Billie" all too well knew the horrors of the Western Front and he posted what can only be described as a personal
message for his late brother:-
In loving memory of my dear brother, Corporal Walter Jarman, killed in action, Sept. 29, 1917.
Home is dark without our loved one,
Bitterly we miss his smiling face.
Sadness lurks where once was gladness,
None will ever fill his vacant place.
- Sadly missed by his ever-loving Brother Billie".
Frank Tate, a native of Healaugh near Tadcaster age 40 years. Frank was born
at Healaugh in 1877 to parents Richard, a Farm Labourer, and Elizabeth Tate. One of five siblings, the Tate family would suffer
untimely deaths possibly due to their circumstances, his youngest brother, Herbert dying in 1884 aged just three years followed
by his father in 1894. As his surviving brothers ultimately departed the family home, the 1901 Census records Frank as being
employed as a Farm Servant/Agricultural Labourer by one Mr. William Hancock at Old Street Farm, Catterton, his mother Elizabeth
still remaining at Healaugh. By the year of 1911, Frank, aged 33 years had returned to reside with his mother, his occupation
recorded in the Census of that year as a Farm Labourer.
Attesting for military service at Tadcaster in November/December 1915, Frank was then placed on the Army Reserve.
Mobilised on or about the 1st of March 1916 (Source:-War Gratuity), he was then assigned to the Depot of the West Yorkshire
Regiment and taken on the strength of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and numbered 26671. Transferred to the 16th (Labour) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment, in June, he was subsequently renumbered 31399. Transferred to the 22nd Labour Company upon formation,
Frank it is recorded on his Pension Record, "Died from bomb wounds" on the 30th of September and is now
buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. In addition to his place of burial, he is also commemorated on Healaugh War Memorial
and on a memorial plaque located in the church of St. John the Baptist, Healaugh.
The Extent Of Organised Labour And The Aftermath
I surmise that there may have been even more men who were victims of the
aerial bombing but with such a broad search criteria and with many men commemorated under their 'parent' units designations,
it is impossible to calculate a true figure of casualties with some degree of accuracy. During the month of September, the
57th Labour Group had suffered 17 Other Ranks killed and 53 Other ranks wounded. (Source:- T.N.A. WO95/571/1). The number
of men employed in the Fourteenth Corps area for a period of four weeks up until the 28th of July is simply staggering with
a round figure of 11,700 being employed in various duties in this period alone. On the 7th of August, this number had increased
to a figure comprising of 165 officers and 15,789 Other Ranks, employed by 29 and a quarter Labour Units in addition to two
battalions of the British West Indies Regiment. Casualties recorded by Fifth Army during the month of August amounted to 625
officers and men either killed, wounded or dying of wounds whilst performing duties in the Forward Areas, it is noted
that the aforementioned were either caused by enemy artillery or more ominously by "bombs from aircraft". From
the period of the 30th of May to the morning of the 1st of September, the A.D.L., Fifth Army, records total casualties as
1,213 officers and men. As a footnote, casualties to Labour personnelsustained by Fifth Army during the month of September
amounted to 720 officers and men either killed, wounded or died of wounds. (Source:- Assistant Director of Labour War Diary,
There were also many deeds
of gallantry performed by the men of the Labour Companies, one example being performed by Corporal Amos Mark Walker, 90615,
of the 152nd Labour Company. A native of Temple, Blisland, near Bodmin, it was on the 11th of August 1917 whilst performing
Salvage Duties near Elverdinghe that disaster struck the company. Enduring enemy shell fire, a Cordite Dump was subsequently
hit by two shells and set on fire engulfing his Commanding Officer, Captain John Icely Cohen along with the party working
on the Dump. As the men of the Company scattered, Walker jumped into the flames and pulled out the badly burned officer who
later succumbed to his wounds at one of the Casualty Clearing Stations located at Dozinghem. For his actions, Walker would
receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal, his citation for the award being published in the London Gazette dated the 26th of
Agnes received the War Office Telegram informing her of Fred's death in action. At Westgate, his parent were also notified
of the death of another son, Ernest Walker having been killed in action on the 1st of July 1916 whilst serving with the 1/5th
Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. The two remaining sons of the Walker family would also serve in the war, William and Henry
Walker respectively. William would serve with the 16th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment (attached Royal West Kent Regiment)
and be taken as a Prisoner of War on the 21st of March 1918. Of Henry, he was deemed to have enlisted in June 1917 and having
initially been posted to the 82nd Training Reserve, in August 1917 he was transferred to the 298th Reserve Labour Company
based at Strensall, near York. A further transfer was then initiated when in the same month he was posted to the 1st Training
Battalion, Royal Army Medical Corps located at Blackpool. In March 1918, he was then posted to the 35th Company before being
posted overseas that same month. In the following month Henry was then posted to the Cyclists Base Depot located at Rouen
before then being posted to the 8th Stationary Hospital located at Wimereux near Boulogne. Having what can only be described
as a 'colourful' episode whilst stationed at this establishment, he was finally discharged in 1920 after further service
conducted with 96th Field Ambulance and the 2nd Sanitary Section at Boulogne.
Henry would live to the ripe old age of 82 years and die in 1980. William,
"Willy" Walker who the Author knew as a small child, would live to the age of 89 years and also would depart this
life in 1980. A long term resident of Woodhill View, Wetherby and standing at over six feet in height, I often remember how
amazed I was at his shiny boots and him knocking on our family door in his never ending search for firewood that my father
would kindly supply. Agnes would remarry in 1929 at Wetherby and would pass away in 1961 aged 86 years. Fred now lies with
some of his comrades in Aeroplane Cemetery, Ypres. A rather lonely cemetery, I often think of him and the sacrifices of men
like him who served in the numerous labour units whatever their nationality. For them, their endeavours are largely ignored
as people visit the numerous cemeteries located on the Western Front. I sincerely hope that this commemoration assists in
the greater understanding of those often unsung heroes who formed part of the vast organisation of labour that made the supreme