Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Private William Henry Hood

Gunter, R B N
Durrant, C M
Weston, C G
Kelly, K G
Armitage, G J
Durrant, H M L
Hargreaves, J P
March, G
Dukes, W
Fowler, R
Westerman, H
Kirk, J C
Wiggins, T A
Telford, G
Harper, J W
Alexander, H W
Mason, T F
Wilkinson, W
Brown, C
Adkin, J
Barton, F
Hobman, A
Webster, A E
March, E A
Miller, G
Hannan, E
Utley, G
Walker, F
Bygrave, E W
Chapman, E
Varley, N W
Bowen, F J
Byrom, F
Backhouse, S
Dalby, M
Crossland, A
Crossley, J S
Dean, R
Frost, A E
Hodgson, F H
Holt, J
Hood, W H
Hill, W
Kitchen, T
Linfoot, E
Metcalfe, J C
Marsden, J
Pawson, W
Precious, G
Scutt, T G
Wiggins, J
Walker, E
Wood, A
Young, T
Pratt, W
Taylor, H
Dawson, G W
Lister, J
Binge, T
Atack, G
Durham, E F
Precious, G R
Wheelhouse Smith, W
Backhouse, H
Swann, J W
Burnsides, G A
Coles, W
Kelly, H W
Miles, J G
Tapsell, K

"A" Company, 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
Died 24th August 1915, age 40

Cemetery : La Brique Military Cemetery Number 1, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Grave Reference or Panel Number : F.1

Husband of Hannah Hood, of 9, Cambridge Place, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
William Henry Hood was born in 1874 at Goole to parents Samuel, occupation, a Master Coach Builder, and Mary Hood. (Authors note: The 1881 Census records his father as Samuel, the baptism record of Ethel, one Charles Samuel. To confuse matters further, his name upon his death is recorded as one Charles Vincent).
It would appear that the family led a rather transient lifestyle and were residing previously to William's birth at Skipton. In the late 1870's the family had relocated to Wetherby, the 1881 Census details recording that the family consisting of Samuel aged 10, William aged 6 and John Charles aged 2 were residing in premises located at Scott Lane. In 1889, William's father unfortunately died, the 1891 Census now recording that the family had moved to premises located in Westgate at this juncture. The family had also increased with the birth of Lillian Vincent in 1882, residing with her fathers parents at Adel, and the birth of Ethel Rachel in 1885. William is now recorded as occupation, Groom, whilst his brother had followed in his fathers footsteps as Coach Maker. The 1901 Census records that the family had now relocated to Angel Court this yard being originally located behind the Angel Hotel. With Lillian returning to Wetherby, their mother Mary is now recorded as blind, John finding work as a House Painter, Samuel, carrying on the family business. Of William, there is no trace in the 1901 Census however by the year of 1911, it transpires that he was now residing in the spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Now recorded as aged 38 years, William Henry Hood had now found employment as a Painter with Messrs. Jessop & Cosgrove (Painters) finding lodgings at the house of one Thomas Baker, a Cab Driver, at Number 9, Ship Yard, Harrogate. In this year also, William entered a union of marriage with one Hannah Hutchinson in April, the family taking up residence at Number 9, Cambridge Place. In 1912, the couple were blessed with the birth of a child, Emily, their only child, who sadly must have had just a brief recollection of her father for the remainder of her life.
Due to the absence of surviving service documents, it is now that we must turn our attention to the serial number issued to William, 3/10123 respectively. Enlisting at Harrogate, the number issued suggests his date of enlistment into the West Yorkshire Regiment as September 1914 however it is more than likely that William had served with the Colours previously, the "3" Prefix denoting a soldier of the Special Reserve. Posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion (Special Reserve), West Yorkshire Regiment based at York, the battalion would witness service on the north-east coast of England as part of the Tyne Garrison based at Whitley Bay. Initially serving with this battalion, William would be posted overseas on the 27th October 1914 to join the ranks of the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, 18th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division.
I will now cover the first action of the battalion in some detail so as to provide an explanation of to how and why William was posted to this specific battalion of the Regiment.
1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
A Regular Army unit, the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment formed part of the 18th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, the brigade originally comprising of the following battalions:-
1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters
2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
Divisional Commander   Major-General John Lindesay Keir C.B.
Brigade Commander     Walter Norris Congreve V.C., C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O.
At 12.30 a.m. on the 7th August 1914 after receiving orders to mobilise, the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel Francis William Towsey, paraded in two parties and commenced entrainment at Trent Valley Station, Lichfield, at 6.15 a.m. and 7.15 a.m. for Dunfermline. Arriving in the late afternoon of the 8th, the West Yorkshire's and the remainder of the brigade now proceeded into billets until a move was made to a camp located one mile distant on the 10th. With mobilisation more or less completed as early as the 8th, on the 13th August, the 1st West Yorkshire's, in brigade, entrained once again in two parties, the strength of the battalion being recorded as 25 officers and 991 Other Ranks. The destination of the 18th Infantry Brigade was now Cambridge where they would be joined by their sister brigades, the 16th and 17th respectively who had been on miltary service in Ireland. The battalion, arriving at Cambridge on the morning of the 14th August, now proceeded to camp on Midsummer Common in the centre of the town, the remainder of the 6th Division also concentrating in both the Cambridge and Newmarket areas.
The time spent in camp at Cambridge was that of a happy duration, the towns population showing much kindness to the soldiers encamped in their locality. Appeals were made in the local press for instance for socks and shirts for the soldiers and a number of recreation tents were established on the common for the mens entertainment and comfort. Instances of drunkeness were few and far between if at all despite the local populace offering alcoholic liquor a plenty but there were a few accidents incurred due to recreational activities and general mishaps. Private George Edward Graham, 8509, 1st West Yorkshire's, was admitted to Addenbrooke's Hospital shortly after arrival in camp after sustaining a broken arm during a game of football, one Private Charles Howard, 2nd Sherwood Foresters, a broken ankle after falling over a tent peg.
France: Embarkation For St. Nazaire
At 7 a.m. on the morning of the 7th September, the 1st West Yorkshire's struck camp and proceeded by route of march to Newmarket arriving at the latter town just after noon. Forming into two parties, the battalion commenced entrainment for Southampton at 3.15 p.m. and 4.45 p.m. arriving at the port at 9.45 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. respectively. With the strength of the battalion recorded as 27 officers and 959 Other Ranks, their complement also comprised of 57 horses, 17 vehicles and 9 bicycles. The battalion were to embark on the S.S. Cawdor Castle, formerly owned and operated by the Union - Castle Line and requisitioned as transport ship. In addition to the West Yorkshire's, the ship also carried the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Erle Benson, their strength being recorded as 27 officers, 958 Other Ranks in addition to 58 horses, 8 four wheeled and 2 wheeled vehicles, and 9 bicycles in addition to 20 officers and 3 Batmen proceeding to France to join various units of the British Expeditionary Force. Of the 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, they would commence embarkation at Southampton on the 8th September accompanied by the Brigade Commander and his Staff on the S.S. Georgian, of the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, they would also embark on the 8th but in two parties, one on the City of Benares, the other party on the Bellerophon respectively. The destination of the constituent units of the 18th Infantry Brigade was St. Nazaire and after a quiet and calm crossing the Cawdor Castle proceeded to anchor at 9 p.m. on the evening of the 9th September, the West Yorkshire's disembarking at 7 a.m. on the morning of the following day.
The Military Situation
There now follows a breif summary of events that led to the deployment of the 6th Division in France. Following the retreat from Mons and the subsequent action at Le Cateau, the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.), Commander-in-Chief Sir John French, had continued their retirement southwards closely followed by the German First Army (von Kluck) and the Second German Army (von Bulow) following on their right flank. Ultimately leading to an attempt by the German Armies to push the French Armies in a south-easterly direction from Paris, this forced the enemy to fight a series of engagements with the B.E.F. at Nery, Crepy and Villers-Cotteret, the B.E.F. eventually establishing a position south of the Marne River. With the French Sixth Army now on their left flank (Maunoury) and the French Fifth Army on their right (d'Esperay), von Kluck's First Army attempted to cross the front held by the B.E.F. but after a being dealt a striking blow by both the French and the British, the right flank of the German First army was pushed back from the west to the Ourcq River by the French Sixth Army and from the south to a position on the Marne River by the French Fifth Army. In addition to this thrust by the French, the latters Sixth Army (Gallieni) also brought pressure on von Kluck, advancing as they were from the north-east of Paris. There was only one course of action for the German Armies, a retirement of their First and Second Armies, the latter being pressed by the French Fifth Army with the French Ninth Army (Foch) on their right flank forcing them back upon the Marne River.
Fighting a rearguard action that would lead to the Battle of the Marne, by the 7th of September a wide wedge had developed between the German First and Second Armies as elements of the French Fifth Army pushed northwards towards Chateau Thierry with the B.E.F. also advancing northwards on their left flank. As the enemy retired to a line north of the Aisne River, bridges were destroyed as they now took up a strong defensive position on the spurs of high ground along the length of the Chemin des Dames overlooking the river. On the foggy night of the 13th of September, the B.E.F. forced a crossing of the Aisne River over destroyed or hastily erected pontoon bridges establishing itself on the northern bank between Bourg-et-Comin on the right flank and Venizel on the left east of Soissons. With the French Fifth Army crossing the river at Berry-au-Bac and the Sixth French Army establishing a position to the west of Soissons, all combatants entrenched and it was into this sector of the line that the 6th Division were now to enter.

Extract From The Official History
Battle Of The Aisne (First Day), Nightfall On The 13th September, 1914

The Journey To The Front

After disembarkation the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment proceeded to a Rest Camp. (Authors note: Possibly the same camp that was occupied by the 1st East Yorkshire's and located at Chantier). As the 6th Division as a whole disembarked in the days that followed, it was not without incident. A number of vehicles of the East Yorkshire's for example had either been damaged upon loading or during the crossing. To compound matters further, some vehicles had to be unloaded by ship's derricks due to the unavailability of dockside cranes, this delay ultimately leading to some battalions proceeding onwards without their vehicles.

At 11.45 p.m. on the 10th, the West Yorkshire's paraded and began entrainment in one train, the train finally departing at 4.35 a.m. early on the following morning. This entrainment was also not without difficulties for some battalions, the by now 'accursed' transport vehicles and limbers having to be loaded onto their respective trains sideways by a system of moveable ramps and on to low sided trucks.

As the train departed St. Nazaire and headed eastwards the men knew little of what lay ahead, the train, halting at various points during the journey for refreshments. Coulommiers was reached early on the morning of the 12th of September whereupon the battalion detrained and proceeded by route of march to Croupet, north-east of Coulommiers, which was reached at 4.30 p.m. The 6th Division now began to concentrate in a wide area to the north-east, west and south of Coulommiers whereupon they proceeded to billet.

On the 15th September the 6th Division began to assemble, the 1st West Yorkshire's (in Division) proceeding by route of march to Chateau-Thierry, a distance of over 20 miles to the north, "C" Company acting as the battalion rearguard marching to the rear of the Ammunition Column. The battalion set forth from Croupet at 7.30 a.m. and after crossing the Marne River, the battalion halted for three hours at Charly-sur-Marne where teas were taken. Continuing their march, Chateau-Thierry was reached at 10 p.m., "C" Company arriving at 5.40 a.m. on the morning of the 16th where the men, no doubt footsore, billeted. At 6 a.m. the battalion paraded and resumed their march continuing northwards to Tigny, south of Soissons, the battalion halting at 1 p.m. for the duration of an an hour and a half. Arriving at Tigny at 6 p.m., the battalion billeted after a march of over eighteen miles. (Authors note: "C" Company were now relieved as the rearguard by one company of the 1st East Yorkshire's).

The 18th Infantry Brigade assembled at 8 a.m. on the morning of the 17th and marched a short distance, four miles, to Chacrise which was reached at 10 a.m., one company of the Sherwood Foresters now performing the rearguard. The West Yorkshire's once again billeted however a party or parties were sent forth to collect tools from the village of Nampteuil (Nampteuil-sous-Muret) which were duly sent on to the Headquarters of the 5th Division at Serches, the division itself holding the line opposite Sainte Marguerite and Missy-sur-Aisne to the east of Soissons. It is of interest to note how ill prepared the B.E.F. were for what had now become static 'trench' as opposed to 'open' warfare.' Due to a shortage of suitable tools for the construction of rudimentary trenches and dug-outs, it was common place for these to be sourced from the local population.

Enemy "Treachery?"

As the 18th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, continued their journey to the front, upon the Chemin des Dames, the men of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division, witnessed an act of enemy treachery. In what appeared to be an act of surrender on the 17th, the men of the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, observed a party of the German's approaching their front line positions. The War Diary of the unit (T.N.A. WO95/1271/1 records the incident:-

"An unfortunate incident occurred in which 2 officers + many of our men were killed. The enemy showed the white flag + some few surrendered but it was a trap + when our men were exposed they fired under cover of the Flag (sic)."

A more detailed observation of this alleged breach of the rules of war is recorded in the pages of the War Diary of the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Rifle Corps, also of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, (T.N.A. WO95/1272/1):-

"About 4.30 p.m. a party of Germans came forward towards C Company with two Officers advancing at about a distance of 20 to 30 yards in front of their men. The whole party, Officers and men, advanced with their hands raised about their heads, seemingly as a token of surrender, but with their rifles slung over their shoulders. Lieutenant Dimmer (Lieutenant John Henry Stephen Dimmer) of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and Captain Savage (Captain John Ardkeen Savage) of the Northants Regiment went forward to meet them. On nearing them however, Dimmer heard the bolt of a rifle being opened and closed and suspected treachery. He called out the (sic) Captain Savage, and himself dropped down in the turnips. The Germans immediately opened fire from their hips and Savage, checked by his sword as he was in the act of dropping down, was instantly killed, while many of the Riflemen who had been standing up in their trenches beckoning the Germans to come in, fell victims to the same ruse. Immediately after this instant a large body of about 300 to 400 Germans were seen advancing in a similar manner (arms raised and rifles slung) on our left towards the Chemin des Dames. Our Brigade Major, Captain C.F. Watson (Captain Charles Frederick Watson), of the Queen's, came up and rode out towards the German troops, ordering our men to cease fire as he went pass them, as he thought the Germans intended surrender but, after speaking to the enemy he galloped back, whilst the Germans continued to advance towards a company of the Northants who were dug in on the south side of the road. They, like the Riflemen stood up in their trenches, expecting the Germans to surrender but Lieutenant Percell (Raymond John Hugo Purcell), in command of our Machine gun detachment, turned his guns on them as he did not trust them. The Germans continued their advance, and when they reached the Chemin des Dames, they opened fire on the Company of the Northants in the same manner. The Northants, taken by surprise, fell back 40 or 50 yards, but our machine guns at once opened fire on the Germans, who turned tail and fled, being mowed down as they ran across the flat. They were also exposed to Rifle fire from our trenches to the north of the road, and very few if any of them escaped."

The Northampton Mercury dated the 25th of September 1914 reports the perpetrators of this act as the German 53rd Reserve Infantry Regiment. Without conclusive evidence however, the exact identity of the German unit cannot be confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. The dispositions as regards the frontage occupied by the Seventh Reserve Corps and their respective divisions as they moved into the line on the 13th of September confirms that the 14th Reserve Division, comprising of the 28th Infantry Brigade and that of the 27th Reserve Infantry Brigade in which I.R. 53 were contained, were in positions above Troyon. One may surmise therefore that in addition to the 53rd, the 16th Reserve Infantry Regiment (I.R. 16) also of the 27th Brigade were present in some capacity either in the line or in support positions. There are further newspaper articles of varying quality in existance that convolute matters still further; the displaying of a 'White Flag' during the incident in addition to accounts of numerous alleged atrocities performed by the retiring German Army. It is also of interest to note that General von Zwehl, commander of the Seventh Reserve Corps, laid similar accusations against the British, recording specifically that those forces opposing the I.R. 16, 27th Brigade, had 'pretended' to surrender and then opened fire.  

It was at 2.30 p.m. on the afternoon of the 18th September that the 18th Infantry Brigade set forth from Chacrise on a march to Bourg-et-Comin to the east. Bivouacking at Braine for the night, in cold and heavy rain the brigade marched on to Bourg whereupon the Aisne was crossed by means of a Pontoon Bridge, Bourg being reached early on the morning of the 19th September where the men proceeded to occupy billets. In the days previously, the British line had been subjected to a series of infantry attacks proceeded by heavy bombardments and it was during the course of this day that the 2nd Division found themselves heavily engaged, repulsing two enemy attacks.

It was at this juncture that the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, had formulated plans for the formation of a new army that would operate on the left flank of Manoury's Sixth Army. With the latter occupying the line west of Soissons to Choisy, north of Compiegne, Joffre's intention was to turn the right flank of von Kluck's First Army and it was these plans that he laid before Sir John French on the 18th. Although battle would have to be protracted, this would provide time for the British Commander-in-Chief to form a reserve and in turn organise a system of relief for the exhausted men in the front line. The 6th Division had originally been placed in General Reserve to Third Corps and placed to the south of the Aisne River however the opportunity now arose due to Joffre's newly formulated plans to utilise the infantry of the 6th Division for this purpose.

Destroyed Bridge At Bourg-et-Comin (Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community)

Now forming part of First Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Douglas Haig, early on the morning of the 19th, Commanding Officers and Company Commanders made a reconnaisance of the line to be taken over in this sector. It was now that the men made final preparations for the impending move into the forward line located to the north on the Chemin des Dames in the vicinity of the village of Troyon. At noon, Bour was shelled by enemy artillery however an analysis of the various unit War Diaries record that during this bombardment no casualties were suffered by the brigade. With orders to relieve various units of the 1st Division, the men of the 18th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, now moved up into the line during the course of the afternoon. Under an enemy bombardment, the respective battalions of the brigade proceeded to march uphill in platoons at intervals via the village of Vendresse and onwards towards Troyon. At some point on the road, Private John Arthur Hipkiss, 7736, of "A" Company, 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, was hit by enemy artillery fire and was unfortunately killed. A native of Hockley, Birmingham and a married man, John has no known grave and is now commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France.
The 18th Infantry Brigade were now moving into the firing line opposite the Seventh Reserve-Korps under the command of General Johann von Zwehl. Recently attached to the Seventh German Army under the command of General Josias von Heeringen after seige operations at Maubeuge, the Seventh Korps comprising of the 13 and 14 Reserve Infantry Divisions moved into the line from the east of Cerny-en-Laonnois to the west of Ailles respectively. Taking up this position on the eastern flank of von Kluck's First Army on the 13th September, von Zwehl's arrival was timely indeed and closed a worrying gap that had developed between the First and Second Armies. With a breakthrough by the British being narrowly avoided, the situation in the days to come would be finely balanced with attacks by both sides being pressed home and equally repulsed. Orders were issued however for a general attack by the whole of Seventh Corps on the 20th, this attack being made in conjunction with a composite force, the Gersdorrf Detachment (Generalmajor Georg von Gersdorff), comprising of the 63rd Infantry Brigade and artillery of the 32nd Infantry Division, Twelfth Korps, Third Army.
Holding The Line: The "White Flag" Incident
Upon reaching Troyon, the 1st West Yorkshire's now moved into the line after dark to commence a relief of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards and at 11 p.m., all reliefs were completed. The battalion now found itself holding the extreme right flank of the British line, to their right, the 1er Bataillon du 1er Tirailleurs Algerians of the 38e Division d'Infanterie, French Fifth Army held the line in positions above Paissy. "A" and "B" Companies of the West Yorkshire's under the command of Major Alexander Wighton Ingles now moved into the firing line with Battalion Headquarters and "C" and "D" Companies placed in support trenches, the latter two companies echeloned in the right rear of the two front line companies respectively. Battalion Transport was placed in a position at the foot of the hill, presumably south of Troyon.
Both the firing and support lines were subjected to artillery fire before the battalion had completed the relief, the night being spent by the men improving their positions and in the construction of overhead cover. The 'trenches' were however just meagre excavations in the ground with no communication 'trenches' extending to the rear, communication to the firing and the support lines being maintained by telephone.
It was at 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the 20th of September that the West Yorkshire's received orders to Stand-to-Arms. Shortly after these orders were issued, enemy artillery placed a heavy bombardment on the locality and at 4.15 a.m. it soon became apparent that the French troops on the right flank were being subjected to a maelstrom of both shell and rifle fire. Suffering heavy casualties in both officers and men, the 'Turcos' were observed retiring over the Paissy Hills on the right at about 5 a.m. To ascertain the situation on this right flank, an officers patrol of the West Yorkshire's under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Gilliat Meautys, Battalion Machine Gun Officer, was duly sent out but on moving foward this patrol came under fire forcing it to return. With the right flank 'in the air' and the situation unclear, Colonel Towsey ordered "D" Company under the command of Captain Percival Edward Hurst Lowe to move forward and take up a position in the open facing right but on doing so they came under heavy rifle fire from the right. In the confusion of battle, it soon became apparent that this rifle fire originated from the French troops on the right, the order for "D" Company being issued to return to the trenches at once. The situation by now had become obscure to say the least, Towsey himself going out to reconnoitre the flank returning a few minutes later. "D" Company were once again ordered to move forward to the advance and after opening fire and moving forward about 300 yards, none of the enemy were observed whereupon they once again returned to the line. The battalion had however suffered casualties at this point, one man being reported as killed in addition to twenty six being wounded. Amongst the latter was one Lieutenant George Vyvyan Naylor-Leyland, Royal Horse Guards, attached to the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. A rather ambiguous newspaper article reported that Lieutenant Naylor-Leyland had been seriously wounded whilst carrying messages from the front line to Headquarters, possibly on horseback. Unfortunately succumbing to his wounds on the following day, Naylor-Leyland is now buried in Vendresse Churchyard.

Positions Of The 18th Infantry Brigade
Positions Schematic Only (Author)

Despite the situation, the men found time to eat a rather hurried breakfast but it was at 8 a.m. that heavy rifle and artillery fire once again erupted onto the firing line, the Colonel accompanied by Lieutenant Meautys once again proceeding forward in yet another attempt to ascertain and evaluate the situation. Crossing the open ground and under fire, the following is an extract of a letter published in The Globe dated the 27th October 1914:-
"The colonel (sic) and Meautys ran forward over the exposed ground under fire to see what was taking place. The colonel came back in about an hour's time and said Meautys had been wounded. He had told Meautys to look for a place for his machine guns, and to signal him with his hat if he found one.
He saw Meautys return to the trench, but he did not signal, and fell forward into the trench, apparently wounded. He was hit in the stomach and lay in the trench all that day and late into the night. It was impossible to recover the wounded owing to the heavy fire from artillery and rifles. However, during the darkness he was brought back to the hospital at Troyon."
We will return to the fate of Meautys later during the course of this commemoration but with his Battalion Machine Gun Officer wounded, Colonel Towsey now ordered forward "D" Company to reinforce the firing line. As heavy firing continued all morning, it was observed that the French on the right had also commenced yet another retirement at about 1 p.m. Upon receiving a report of this retirement and that of the West Yorkshire's, two companies of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division, were rushed forward from caves located at Paissy to stem the flow of an enemy attack that had now developed on the Paissy Hills. In addition to the Sussex, the 18th Hussars (Queen Mary's Own), 1st Cavalry Division, had already established themselves at 3.30 a.m. in support of the French at Paissy. At about midday, the Hussars then moved up to the plateau to the north of the village in support of the 'Turcos,' "B" Squadron under the command of Major Charles Henry Leveson D.S.O. moving forward apace and dismounted in an attempt to retake the second line of trenches.
So what events had transpired that had witnessed the forward positions of the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment being overun? The first inclination that an attack was underway was when a man ran back from the firing line at about 1.30 p.m. reporting that the companies in front had been captured and that the enemy were advancing. The enemy it was ascertained later from the wounded apparently approached the front line under a White Flag, a recognised sign of a truce, a ceasefire or even surrender. Private Alfred Midgley, 6511, a married man of Henry Street, Leeds, recounted his experiences to his wife in a letter wrote at the 4th Scottish General Hospital, Glasgow, the latter being published in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated the 7th of October:-
"I have never read about a more cruel war than this. The battle at which I was hit was supposed to be the worst since the war started. It was called the battle of Piassy (sic). The morning I was hit, we had just started marching up the field, when our officer got his field glasses out and saw some Germans in a big wood, so we got the order to load our rifles and fix our bayonets. We started firing at them. There only looked to be about 100 of them, and we charged them. They showed the white flag, telling us they were going to surrender and when we got up to them they started firing on us. There would be about 700 of them, all hiding. They made our company and another prisoners, and those that were wounded and killed they left.
I was placed in a hole they call a trench with two of our fellows and was left there, and I saw nobody else until I was carried away on Sunday night by three of the Dragoons."
Private J. Thompson of the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, wrote a letter to a friend at Monkwearmouth from hospital at King's College, Chelsea, describing his experiences of the incident. The following is an extract of the letter published in the Sunderland Daily Echo on the 12th of October 1914:-
"One of their cowardly tricks was played on the West Yorkshire Regiment. They were lying on our right, next to us. We were firing from our trenches when an order came along to cease fire. We wondered what was up, and then we heard the officers shouting "The Germans have surrendered." We let the Germans come in with their white flag and their rifles above their heads. About 200 of them got to our men and stood still. Our men were going to take their rifles off them when suddenly the Germans seemed to spring from nowhere and opened fire with rifles and machine guns. Good God, it was wilful murder; and if we had not got reinforcements I would not have been here to tell the tale."
The Response Of the 18th Infantry Brigade:- Defend The Right Flank At All Costs
Although the chronology of events that transpired during the course of the afternoon are difficult to determine, on the left flank of the West Yorkshire's, the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, Officer Commanding, Colonel Bernard William Lynedoch McMahon, now began to be enfiladed by an enemy machine gun causing numerous casualties. Due to the right flank of the battalion being pinned down and suffering considerable losses, one company plus half a company were ordered to advance from the left flank of the battalion front. Upon rising and advancing to the attack, they too were hit by this enfilade machine gun fire and after gallantly trying to press on, they returned to their original trenches after enduring severe casualties in both officers and men.
Due to the retirement of the French, the enemy had been able to manoeuvre his force around the right flank above Paissy, the West Yorkshire's suffering numerous casualties in men killed, wounded or missing. At 2 p.m., Colonel Towsey gave the order for "C" Company and Battalion Headquarters to advance immediately towards the front line trenches in an attempt, if possible, to save the forward companies. Fixing bayonets and advancing at the double, they were met with both heavy fire from the front and the right flank however fire was opened to the front and two platoons were detached to the right to form a defensive flank. With Colonel Towsey now wounded, the alarm was now raised and the 2nd Battalion, Sherwood Foresters who were in reserve positions at Troyon under the command of Colonel Cyril Randell Crofton-Atkins, now rose to the attack. Upon observing a column of the enemy marching prisoners off to the rear,  "A" and "C" Companies under the commands of Captains Robert Stewart Popham D.S.O. and Charles Colville Parkinson M.V.O. respectively, moved forward at a moments notice and upon assuming a position at the head of the Paissy Valley, they were there joined by Major Philip Leveson-Gower. The Foresters were met by intense heavy machine gun fire from both the front and the right flank as they attempted to deploy, the terrain being deviod of cover and confined due to the topography of the landscape. Their advance was initially checked until the remaining two companies of the battalion were brought forward to reinforce the line, a general advance then being ordered which was conducted with "great dash" and despite heavy losses, the battalion re-took the forward line.
Between 2 and 3 p.m. during the afternoon, "B" Squadron of the 18th Hussars were re-enforced by two Squadrons of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, also of 1st Cavalry Division who held their line against repeated attacks. It is now that we turn our attention to the extreme left flank of the 18th Infantry Brigade, that held by the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.
The battalion had left their trenches in support of the attack made by the Durham's and upon advancing eastwards up the rising ground and crossing the spur, they were at once hit by machine gun and artillery fire. Before they could retire to their original trenches, Colonel Benson and four officers were wounded in addition to two officers and countless men being recorded as missing or wounded.
The final action of the day as recorded by the War Diary of the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, states that at 3 p.m., Major Godfrey George Lang was sent forward to reconnoitre and ascertain the positions out front. Signalling an advance, Headquarters and "C" Company moved forward and after joining up with the East Yorkshire's on their left flank, the trenches previously held by "A" and "B" Companies of the battalion were reoccupied. With the dead and wounded of the 18th Infantry Brigade strewn across the battlefield, the West Yorkshire's were eventually relieved by the 2nd Sherwood Foresters in the line at about 8 p.m. and the battalion, or what remained of it, proceeded into reserve at Troyon arriving at 5 a.m. on the morning of the 21st of September after burying their dead and collecting the wounded. Their Roll Call to say the least was pitiful, numbering just five officers and an estimated 250 Other Ranks. (Authors note:-Major Lang now assumed command and compiled the War Diary for this period on the 1st October. There are therefore, some inaccuracies as to the strength of the battalion after the actions of the 20th September. Five officers is a conservative estimate, and one may surmise after an analysis of the Army List dated August 1914 that amongst their number were also the Adjutant, Captain William Henry Astley De la Pryme, Captain Alfred Morey Boyall D.S.O., Lieutenant John Lawson-Smith, Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster Ernest George Butler, Second-Lieutenant Jasper Carew and Second-Lieutenant Frank Lowndes Wright. The full composition of the battalion however warrants further study).   

18th Infantry Brigade Front, Troyon, 20th September 2014 (Author)

The Losses: Killed, Wounded & Missing

An analysis of the War Diary of the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment records that on the 20th September 1914, 7 officers had been killed, 3, wounded including Lieutenant-Colonel Towsey, and 7 posted as missing. In Other Ranks, 71, were reported as killed, 110 wounded and 436 missing.  The officers and their true fates are recorded as follows:-

Major Alexander Wighton Ingles, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Captain Mortimer Fisher, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Captain John Francis I'Anson, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Lieutenant William Lawrence Eliot, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Lieutenant Offley Charles Wycliffe Thompson, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial

Lieutenant Thomas Gilliat Meautys, died of wounds, buried, Vendresse British Cemetery

Second-Lieutenant Eric Western Wilson, killed, commemorated, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial


Captain Percival Edward Hurst Lowe, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Captain Eustace Foster Grant-Dalton, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Captain Percy Spencer Fryer, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Captain Henry Harington, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Lieutenant Kenneth Saumarez Seton Henderson, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Lieutenant Leslie Alfred Davies, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Second-Lieutenant William Henry Langran, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

Second-Lieutenant Bertram Louis Ratcliffe, missing, subsequently reported as a Prisoner of War

The Wounded

Of the wounded, at this point will return to Lieutenant Thomas Gilliat Meautys who had been severely wounded in the stomach and removed to the village of Troyon. Educated at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, a fellow officer of the battalion writing home described his last hours in a letter forwarded to The Globe by the College's Headmaster, St John Basil Wynne Willson and published on the 27th of October 1914:-

"I saw him about 5 a.m. the next morning; he was lying in a cave, which was used as a hospital. He seemed very tired and weak, and I did not stop long, but he wanted to know all about the regiment and what had happened the previous day. Again that afternoon I went to see him, and, although he was in pain, he told me all that happened in the trench where he lay that day. He seemed to me to be better, and the doctors had some hopes. About five a.m. next morning I went into the hospital and went to his bed, but was told by the attendant he had died at 12.30 p.m. He was not allowed to eat or drink after he was hit. It was a great shock to me to find he was gone. I was very fond of him and I admired his bravery during the fight. He was an excellent officer and we were all very sorry indeed to lose him. He was buried beneath the hospital at Troyon in the village and his grave was marked with a wooden cross. One can well say, 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.' He died a soldier's death on the field of honour. He was a very gallant fellow."

Originally buried in Troyon Churchyard in Grave Number Three, after the war had ceased, the village, church and graveyard had been virtually erased from the map. The wooden cross had been destroyed but Meaultys' burial plot was fortunately identified through French burial records and his body was subsequently exhumed in April 1925. Thomas Gilliat Meautys now lies in Vendresse British Cemetery along with Private William Richardson, 8045, a native of Warwick and a resident Harrogate who died of wounds on the 25th, and Colour Sergeant James Missett, 6564, of Hunslet, Leeds, who also died of wounds received on the 20th. Both men are now commemorated on Special Memorials having being known to have been buried in Troyon Churchyard.  The Missett family would also receive one more telegram informing them that John Edward, the nephew of James, had also fallen in action in action on the 20th of September. John, a resident of Zulu Street, Burmantofts, Leeds, is now commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial.

Sergeant John Featherstone Woodcock, 9243, a native of Burley, Leeds, lay out in the open for over a day. Writing a letter to one Miss Maria Rogers of Lichfield from his hospital bed at the 1st Scottish General Hospital, Aberdeen, the following is an extract describing his experiences:-

" I was knocked over about 4 o'clock in the afternoon (Sunday, 20th September), and I was picked up at midnight on Monday, having lain there wounded about 34 hours. I was pretty near done for, but I have the cap of the German who shot at me, and he was a bad shot or else very frightened, as he could only hit me in the leg at seven yards. I managed to improve greatly on his shooting.

Well, all those hours I laid there wounded I wondered if I should ever see you again, and I really began to think I should not, as I made sure they would come and finish us during the night. However, we were lucky enough to get out of it, and were put into a train and sent down country, a three days' journey, in cattle trucks. Words cannot describe it. We arrived, the, at St. Nazaire, and here we were taken to a decent hospital, where we stayed about five days, and were then taken on board the hospital ship, "Carisbroke Castle" (sic) (which is very comfortably fitted up), and brought to Southampton, where we were put into hospital trains fitted up like palaces, and where we were treated like kings, until we arrived at this place. This is a great hospital, and we are very well looked after indeed."

Having received a gun shot wound to his right thigh, John now concludes his letter to Maria describing the extent of his injuries:-

"Now comes the painful part of my letter - I dread to write it almost. When the bullet went through my leg the main artery was severed, and it has so affected my foot that they are going to take part of it off and leave me a cripple for life. I shall have to leave the Army, although I shall get a small pension."

Bringing in the wounded was both impossible and problematic due to the heavy machine gun and artillery barrage that was sweeping across the battlefield. In trying to do so, there were many heroes amongst the ranks of the men of the 18th Infantry Brigade. One man of the West Yorkshire's, Private Charles Bell, 7558, a resident of Morley near Leeds, set out to bring in the survivors of his company after a charge was made on the enemy line. (Authors note: One may surmise the charge of "C" Company). Bell assumed that due to the heavy losses during the charge, there were only three men surviving in his midst, himself, a Sergeant, and Private Robert Gee, 7236. Gee disappeared and it was unbeknown to Bell that he had in fact fallen wounded. It was then that the unidentified Sergeant also fell wounded whereupon Bell bandaged him up as best he could and crawled away with the N.C.O. on his back. Under fire, Bell it was reported crawled for over two hours until a wood was reached, presumably the wooded slopes below Troyon, whereupon the Sergeant was handed over to the Battalion Transport. Surprisingly, Bell would receive no award for gallantry and after a long recuperation spent at a number of hospitals, he led what could be best described as a rather 'colourful' life before returning to the Western Front. Subsequently serving with the 10th (Service), 21st (Service) Battalions of the Regiment before returning to his original unit, the 1st Battalion respectively, he would be discharged in January 1918.        


The Graphic, October 31st, 1914
Artist: Ernest Prater

The Missing, The Dead & The Prisoners
The casualty lists of those missing, dead and presumed Prisoners of War are to say the least extensive in both the local and national press. To try to record all those who were engaged in the action of the 20th September would require unlimited research, therefore, the Author will attempt to provide a cross-section of the men engaged and their ultimate fates.
News was received in mid October of the death in action of Private Fred Boyington, 7797, a Reservist and a married man of Halton, Leeds. Prior to being recalled to the Colours, Fred was employed by the Aire and Calder Navigation Company. His brother George, also a Reservist and serving in "A" Company of the battalion, was later reported as a Prisoner of War. George would unfortunately die in captivity at Doberitz Camp in April 1917 and before the war was employed as a Carter by Messrs. Vaux, Leeds. George now lies in Meza (Nikolai) Cemetery, Latvia.
Sarah Esther Croft also received the news of the death of her husband, Private Albert Croft, 7610, of Recreation Grove, Holbeck, Leeds. Prior to the war, Albert was employed by Messrs. Joseph Watson and Sons, Soap Works, ("Soapy Joes"), of Whitehall Road, Leeds. Shot through the head, he is now commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial along with Fred Boyington.
Lance-Corporal Harry Appleby, 7236, born at Market Weighton and a Cooper by trade, was residing at Victoria Terrace, Tadcaster. A Reservist recalled to the Colours, prior to the war he was employed by John Smith's Brewery.
At Bridlington, Mrs Violet Biggins had received notification from the War Office that her husband, Lance-Corporal Elijah Biggins, 5481, a Postman at Bridlington Post Office, had been reported as missing since the 22nd September (Authors note: Red Cross Prisoner of War records confirm his place and capture as Bourg-et-Comin, 20th September). The Leeds Mercury dated the 22nd of October reported that the couple had three small children, the eldest being only three and a half years old, the youngest being born whilst Elijah had left home to join the Colours. Fortunately for Violet and her young family, Elijah was eventually confirmed as a Prisoner of War at Doberitz Camp, Germany.
The Hull Kingston Rovers Rugby League team had also suffered the loss of a member of the squad. Charles Brain, 7374, a native of Harrogate, had originally enlisted into the Regiment in 1904. A Forward with an impressive record, Charles was recalled to the Colours and posted as missing on the 20th September but notification was received that he was in fact a Prisoner of War at Doberitz by the Club Secretary on the 6th of November. Four other members of the team would also serve at the front during the course of the war, Pierre Boltman, Arthur Moore, who would have a finger amputated, William Sandham and D. Lewis. (Source Yorkshire Evening Post dated 31st of October 1914).
In relation to Wetherby men contained in the ranks of the battalion, there is only one man who can be positively identified as being present during the action of the 20th of September, Sergeant Edgar Leonard Adkin, 5845. Edgar enlisted into the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1900 and would witness service with the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment in South Africa. With the Adkin family moving from Guisley to Wetherby, Edgar would be married at Saint James Parish Church in the year 1905. Completing his service and being subsequently placed on the Army Reserve as per his service obligation, he would take up the duties of Town Postman at Otley in 1909, the family residing at 39, North Parade. Prior to mobilisation in 1914, Edgar was employed as a Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist at Bedale Post Office, North Yorkshire. Captured during the action he would be imprisoned at Cassel, Germany, before being repatriated via Holland in December 1918.
I will conclude this stage of the commemoration of William Henry Hood by including one more man who was captured on the 20th of September, my mother's grandfather, Lance-Corporal James William Drane, 7063. A resident of Jack Lane, Hunslet, Leeds, James had enlisted at Leeds in 1903. Completing his three year service obligation with the Colours in 1905, he was then placed on the Army Reserve until being mobilised in August 1914. Unofficially reported as a Prisoner of War at Parchim, Germany, in October 1914, James was later transferred to Gustrow in northern Germany before being repatriated to England via Switzerland in 1917. Never fully recovering from his experiences, James would die aged 58 years in 1942 at Leeds General Infirmary.
Rebuilding The Battalion
The survivors of the battalion were now formed up as Headquarters, one company ("C" Company) and one platoon. Standing To! on several occasions throughout the course of the 21st, at 6 p.m. on the 22nd, the composite battalion proceeded into support positions for the 2nd D.L.I. Here they remained until 6.30 p.m. on the 24th when they took over the firing line from the Durham's whereupon they then began to construct new trenches throughout the course of the night. It was on the 25th that the trenches held by the West Yorkshire's were shelled, this resulting in the deaths of 9 men and the wounding of a further two. (Authors note: Ten men are recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Database as having become casualties on this date. Soldiers Died In The Great War also records that of their number, two died of wounds received).
Private James Manning, 7792, aged 28 years. A Reservist, prior to the war James was employed by Mr. Charles Lightowler, Printer, of Joseph Street, Leeds. Married just eighteen months prior to his death, his widow and child residing in their marital home located in Burton Street, off Dewsbury Road, Leeds. Denied a known grave, James is now commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne in addition to being commemorated on the War Memorial located on the former site of St. Peter's Church, Dewsbury Road, Leeds.
From the north-east of England there was Private George Knott, 7349, aged 30 years. In an announcement of his death published in the North-Eastern Daily Gazette dated the 20th of October 1914, the latter records that he too was a Reservist and before the war he was employed as a Porter at the South Bank Station. A married man, George succumbed to wounds and although the exact plot of his grave is unknown, he is now known to be buried in Braine Communal Cemetery, east of Soissons.
Private Thomas Brown,10074, a native of Leeds aged 20 years. Upon the death of his father in 1907 at the Leeds Workhouse, the Brown family were now plunged deeper into poverty. By the year of 1911, 'Tom' had found employment as a Paper Seller, residing as a Lodger at premises located in Meadow Lane, Leeds. Enlisting in the City in February 1914 into the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment, his body would be buried near Paissy in a grave also containing the remains of Bandsman George Peake, 7924, a native of Huddersfield. A photo and a school certificate removed from his body prior to his burial were sent home to his grieving mother who was residing in the 'Bank' area of the City but his and that of his comrades grave would be subsequently 'lost'. Discovered in 1934, 'Toms' remains were identified by his serial number stamped on his boot, that of George, by his number stamped on his spoon. Exhumed, both men are now buried in Montcornet Military Cemetery, Aisne, France.          

The Photograph Sent To His Mother
Thomas Brown:- Leeds Mercury Dated The 17th of October 1914

Later in the day, the battalion, in brigade, were relieved in the trenches at 8 p.m. by the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, the West Yorkshire's along with D.L.I., the Sherwood's and Brigade Headquarters reaching Pargnan to the east of Bourg about midnight. Placed in Reserve to the 1st Division, the Sherwood's arrived about two hours later at 2.30 a.m. to find the town under heavy artillery fire from German gun positions located to the north of Vendresse, this fire subsequently wounding five men. Of the East Yorkshire's, they were to placed at the disposal of the 2nd Brigade, if required, and upon relief by the 1st Northampton's, they marched the short distance to Moulins whereupon they proceeded to billet. Due to the shelling of Pargnan, at 12.30 p.m. the battalion accompanied by the D.L.I. and the Sherwoods moved to a wooded slope located one mile to the north of Bourg and bivouacked. Now placed in Reserve to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, the first reinforcements began to arrive to replace losses, Lieutenant Bruce Duftus Costin and 96 men joining the battalion on the 27th. With one company on outpost duties at night, akin to a number of men who had succumbed to wounds in the previous days, Corporal Percy Pestell, 8971, a native of Luton, died of wounds received in action at a medical facility established at Braine. Remaining under canvas, it was at 6 p.m. on the following day that the West Yorkshire's marched to support trenches located to the north-east of Troyon, establishing themselves on the extreme right of the British line, close to the location of the fateful events that transpired on the 20th. Placing 100 men in the firing line, during the night they dug a 'new' trench to secure the right flank of the line, the positions being inspected on two occasions during the following day by the G.O.C. These improvements continued, trenches being constructed to extend to their right and connect with the French, however these were only occupied during the night due to the danger of artillery fire during daylight hours. The position though was covered through the day by French troops further to the right, both the 1st and 2nd Tirailleurs occupying the front line and the Plateau de Paissy respectively.
On the 1st of October, the West Yorkshire's were relieved by "C and "D" Companies of the Sherwood Foresters under the command of Major Robert James Frederick Taylor. Upon their relief, the battalion, Officer Commanding Major Godfrey George Lang, moved into billets located at Moulins, east of Vendresse. The battalion, in brigade, now received orders that they were to be relieved by the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, and upon their relief they were to proceed to billets located at Vauxtin and Vauberlin and be placed in Reserve. As a consequence, it was at 8 p.m. that evening that the 18th Infantry Brigade Headquarters along with the West Yorkshire's and the Foresters were relieved by the 1st Gloucester's, the East Yorkshire's and the D.L.I. being relieved about one hour later at Vendresse by the 1st South Wales Borderers. Marching to their respective billets, the night was cold and lit by a bright moon, the first party reaching their destination at about 11.30 p.m. followed by Brigade Transport, the East Yorkshire's and the D.L.I. who arrived about an hour later. Both at Vauxtin and Vauberlin, the billets were crowded and found to be most unsuitable but early on the morning of the 2nd, orders were received for the 18th Brigade to rejoin the 6th Division later in the afternoon at Jury. Marching via Braine, reinforcements were picked up at en route at Braine Railway Station, the 1st East Yorkshire's being joined by Captain Edmund Wilmer Walker and 91 Other Ranks, the 2nd Sherwood Foresters by Lieutenant Edward Nathaniel Drury-Lowe along with 93 N.C.O.'s and men, and the West Yorkshire's by Lieutenant Arthur Alexander Geddes and 92 Other Ranks respectively. (Authors note:- Figures of reinforcements as per Battalion War Diaries. It must be noted that there are some variancies recorded in the War Diary of the 18th Infantry Brigade).
Upon arrival at Jury, the men billeted, however the 2nd Durham's were ordered to proceed to Ciry (Ciry-Salsogne) to take over a defensive line occupied by the 4th Division Cyclists. The latter had taken over these positions from the 2nd West Riding's and the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers of the 5th Division, pending the arrival of the D.L.I. Establishing themselves north of Ciry in outpost lines opposite the Fort de Conde and in the Le Gobinne Wood north of the Vesle river, the line was well covered by the enemy. On the 3rd,  the G.O.C. visited the battalion and duly noted that too many men were employed on various duties, alternative arrangements therefore being required to relieve the amount of their labours. The billets at Jury for the remainder of the brigade were found to be dirty and overcrowded as the cold weather continued and the nights lit by a bright autumnal. Blankets were issued and due to second batch of reinforcements received by the West Yorkshire's, "A" Company was reformed, the battalion also sending two platoons on the 3rd to Ecuiry to act as 3rd Army Corps Guard. (Authors note:- As recorded in the 1st East Yorkshire's War Diary). On the 5th, a third batch of reinforcements arrived to bolster the ranks of the battalion, the latter being joined by Captain Frederick Joseph Lemon and Captain Edward Theodore Welchman D.S.O. with 326 Other Ranks and as a consequence of their arrival, "B" Company was reformed.
Brigade Orders were subsequently issued shortly after lunch on the 6th that dictated the movement of the 18th Infantry Brigade to billets that evening located in St. Remy (Saint-Remy-Blanzy). Minus the D.L.I., the brigade commenced their march southwards at 7.15 p.m. and journeyed via Serches, Mont de Soissons, Nampteuil (Nampteuil-sous-Muret), Muret (Muret-et-Crouttes), Droizy, Hartennes (Hartennes-et-Taux) finally reaching St. Remy at 12.15 a.m. on the 6th/7th of October. Of the Durham's, their relief had been delayed until the arrival of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, 4th Division, at 2 a.m., early on the morning of the 7th. Proceeding by route of march through a clear and cold night, they finally reached St. Remy at 9.15 a.m., no doubt foot sore and thoroughly exhausted.
On this date, the 7th of October, one man of the West Yorkshire's is recorded as "Died/Deceased," Private James Manby, 6615, a native of Leeds. A resident of Bayswater Avenue, Harehills, Leeds, James had originally enlisted in Leeds in December 1902, occupation, Labourer. Placed on the Army Reserve, he was recalled to the Colours in August 1914 and departed with the battalion the following month for France. Aged 30 years, the circumstances surrounding his death are unknown, his name appearing in one of many casualty lists confirming that he simply 'died'. Denied a known grave, James is now commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial.                    

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, Stone 10
Author:- April 2008

Shortly after the arrival of the Durham's, Divisional Operation Order No. 7 was issued at 10.45 a.m. This preliminary order dictated that the brigade must be prepared to march 'west' early on the evening of the 7th, destination, Largny (Largny-sur-Automne), 3 miles west of Villers-Cotterets. As well as the constituent units of the brigade taking to the march, they would also be accompanied by the 38th Field Company, Royal Engineers, of the 6th Division, located in billets at Coutremain, south of Braine. There departure was however delayed by one hour, the 18th Brigade departing St. Remy at 6 p.m., the Brigade War Diary recording rather laconically that "they followed on behind eventually". On the following day, a 'warning order' was issued at 10 a.m. stating that the brigade was to be prepared to move by twelve noon however these orders were subsequently cancelled and after further changes, movement was ordered to take place at 2 p.m. As is normally the case, the men would have taken a meal before departure but due to the various delays, it was not until three hours into the march that the men finally halted to eat, being served with a repast of raw meat.
Marching to the west, St. Saveur (Saint-Saveur), south of the Foret de Compiegne was reached at 8 p.m. however both the East Yorkshire's and the Sherwood Foresters had departed the brigade at Orrouy to the east at 5.30 p.m. Orders were now to entrain but due to a lack of available transport, orders were now issued for all units to billet, the entrainment of the 6th Division, forming part of Third Corps, due to commence on the following day. Duly on the 8th, the West Yorkshire's marched the distance of about four miles to Le Meux to the north and commenced to entrain along with Brigade Headquarters. On this day also, the battalion received six new officers, Major Herbert Theodore Cliff, Captain Frank Pickford Worsley, Captain Hugh Blenkinsop Spence and Second-Lieutenants Oswald Moncrieff Tennent, Guy Nelson Stockdale and Joseph Gill. Despite this reinforcement of officers, the battalion, numbering three companies and containing thirteen officers and 848 Other Ranks, still required another thirteen officers and 130 Other Ranks to bring it up to its War Establishment.
At 1 p.m. on the afternoon of the 9th of October, the battalion marched the distance of about four miles to Le Meux and began to entrain. The 6th Division, contained in Third Corps, were now bound for Saint Omer in northern France however the entrainment process had been completed with some difficulties that could have been avoided. Followed by Brigade Headquarters, the train was due to depart Le Meux Sation at 4 p.m. but due to loading taking over three hours, the time for departure was rescheduled to take place at around 5 p.m. It appears that the Railway Transport Officer allocated for these duties was not as efficient as the 18th Brigade Headquarters would have liked. Loading was performed from a 'bank' whereas if several ramps had been utilised simultaneously, the task would have been shortened and performed more efficiently, suffice to say, the train departed the station at 5.20 p.m., the men all ready twenty minutes previously.
Heading northwards, the train passed through the rural backwaters of France. Arriving at Amiens in Picardy, a scheduled halt was to made of a duration of forty minutes for a meal but the men, no doubt thoroughly exhausted after their numerous route marches, were found to be asleep. Journeying to the coast and to Etaples, Arques was reached at about noon on the 10th whereupon detrainment, one company of the West Yorkshire's were placed on the bank of the Canal de Neufosse to cover the detrainment and the billets of the brigade. Reports were received that enemy forces were in and about Hazebrouck about twelve miles distant in addition to many refugees fleeing the German advance. Upon further information being received, the company of the West Yorkshire's was withdrawn, further communications being received by the brigade that the East Yorkshire's and the Sherwood Foresters had detrained at Saint Omer at 2 p.m. and at 4.15 p.m. respectively. Proceeding by route of march to Arques, upon the arrival of the East Yorkshire's who were just about to move into billets, the battalion then received orders to proceed to Racquinghem to the south-east, some four miles distant and move into billets. In this area, the 87th French Territorial Division were holding the bridges over the Canal de Neufosse at Campagne (Campagne-les-Wardreques), Wardreques and Blaringhem, the East Yorkshire's, if required, in a position to provide support. With 18th Brigade Headquarters now established at Arques and the arrival of 6th Divisional Headquarters at Saint Omer, the 19th Brigade, in Reserve to Third Corps and with no specific attachment to a division, also detrained at the latter. To cover the flank of the 18th Brigade,  the 1st Cameronians were sent out on an outpost towards Renescure, the remainder of the 19th Brigade completing their detrainment by midnight. To the east, "C" Squadron of the 19th Hussars, 6th Divisional Mounted Troops, O.C. Captain Hubert O'Shaughnessy Fearnly Tanner, were sent forward to Lynde to reconnoitre the countryside towards Hazebrouck however no enemy activity was observed during the course of the day. Other forces in the area comprised of the 2nd Cavalry Division at Aire and a number of French cavalry units contained in de Mitrys Cavalry Corps, the French 6th Cavalry Division to the north holding Cassel.
On Sunday the 11th of October, Divisional Orders were received at 12.45 a.m. stipulating that the brigade were to move to the south-east and to Wardrecques in preparation for an advance further eastwards. Consequently in the early morning, Wardrecques was reached whereupon the brigade proceeded to billet and ordered to remain until further notice. At noon, the G.O.C. of Third Corps, Temporary Lieutenant-General William Pulteney C.B., D.S.O., visited the brigade and stated that a move that day was unlikely however at 4.30 p.m. it was proposed that the brigade should march to the east of Hazebrouck to cover the detrainment of the 4th Division. This 'idea' was subsequently abandoned and orders were issued to prepare for movement early on the morning of the following day by route of march. These orders were modified and instead of marching the men were to depart Wardrecques in a fleet of French motor buses that had been scheduled to arrive between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m., transport etc. being ordered to proceed by the more 'traditional' method by march in column. The buses were delayed by a thick mist and did not arrive at the rendezvous until 11.45 a.m., the brigade already lined up along the roadside ready to 'entrain' in this fleet of iron horses. Eventually and despite the delay, the convoy of buses, numbering three groups of sixty, arrived at 11.45 a.m. Each bus carried between 20 - 25 men and 'entrainment' took some time until finally at about 12.30 p.m., the convoy departed at a leisurely pace of 12 - 15 miles an hour and Hazebrouck was reached at 1.30 p.m. whereupon the men 'detrained' in the Market Square (Grande Place).                          

Hazebrouck, 1908
Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community

The afternoon was spent finding the men billets in the town but upon the arrival of the East Yorkshire's, they received orders to proceed eastwards and to take up an outpost line stretching La Motte (La Motte-au-Bois) and along the northern edge of Aval Wood to a point west of the Station at the Mont de Merris. With two companies establishing positions in this outpost line, Headquarters, the Machine Gun Section and the two remaining companies took up position at Grand Sec Bois respectively. Upon their arrival at 5.30 p.m. in the line, information was soon ascertained that the 1st Cavalry Division had not advanced beyond this line despite attacking enemy held farms to the east of Vieux Berquin. With the latter being shelled by enemy artillery, the church of Saint-Barthelemy was struck causing damage, the ground to the north-west also coming under the attentions of hostile artillery fire. A 'quiet' night was passed by the East Yorkshire's but the following day would witness the first actions of the 18th Infantry Brigade since the stalemate that had become offensive operations on the Aisne. At this juncture we will explore the situation of the B.E.F. and opposing enemy forces as it stood prior to the actions of the 13th of October 1914.
The Tactical Situation
It was on the 8th of October 1914 that Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force, visited General Foch at his Headquarters located at Doullens, Somme. With Foch in command of all French forces north of Noyon, joint plans of operations were arranged as follows:- Second Corps (Smith-Dorrien) containing the 3rd and 5th Divisions, were to arrive on the line Aire-Bethune on the 11th of October with the objective of connecting with the right of the French 10th Army (Maud'huy). Pivoting on their left flank, Second Corps were then to attack in flank enemy forces opposing the French 10th Corps on this front. On the northern flank of the Second Corps, the Cavalry were to support the Corps attack until the arrival of Third Corps (Pulteney), who, as we have previously witnessed, would commence detrainment at Saint Omer. Once this Corps has arrived in the field, the Cavalry were then to clear the front and act in a similar manner on the northern flank of Third Corps until the arrival of First Corps (Haig) from the Aisne. The 3rd Cavalry Division and the 7th Division under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson were at this juncture, operating in support of the Belgian Army and its withdrawal from Antwerp. As soon as this situation had stabilised after a long German siege leading to the fall of the City, Rawlinson was ordered to co-operate in operations as soon as the opportunity arose.
On the 11th of October, the Second Cavalry Division (Gough), made contact with enemy cavalry forces in woods north of the Bethune-Aire Canal. Upon these woods being cleared, the cavalry now subsequently linked up with the 6th Divisional Cavalry who in turn had also joined hands with that of de Mitrys French Cavalry Corps until being relieved by the 5th Division. With Third Corps comprising of both the 4th and 6th Divisions having almost completed their detrainment at Saint Omer, the Corps proceeded eastwards to Hazebrouck as we have witnessed and here they remaind throughout the course of the 12th of October. On the following morning, 19th Infantry Brigade, the Advanced Guard of Third Corps and the Reserve, began to concentrate at Rouge Croix (La Rouge Croix) east of Hazebrouck, in preparation for attacks by both 4th and 6th Divisions on the line Vieux Berqin - Meteren - Berthen.
Opposing both the Second, Third Corps and Cavalry Divisions were a myriad of enemy forces. Described in Wyrall's History of The West Yorkshire Regiment in an abridged format, the opposing forces were no doubt indentified from the Official Despatches dated the 20th of November 1914 and other sources. (Original text adapted by the Author).
"The enemy opposed the Second and Third British Corps and Cavalry Corps of two Divisions, with the 13th Wurtemburg and the 19th Saxon Corps which were being pushed forward to the River Lys behind a screen formed by three Cavalry Corps, the First, Second and Fourth. These five Corps formed the right wing of the 6th German Army, the formation of which was: 7th, 13th, 14th and 19th Active Corps: First, Second and Fourth Reserve Cavalry Corps: 25th and 48th Reserve Divisions: Garde Cavalry Division: Bavarian Cavalry Division: 2nd, 3rd 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th Cavalry Divisions".
It is of interest to note that Wyrall reminds us of the composition of a German Cavalry Division at this juncture. A division not only contained the cavalry themselves but horse artillery batteries, two or three infantry battalions, two or more machine-gun batteries and two or more companies of Cyclists.  Advancing towards the River Lys behind a screen provided by three Cavalry Corps and forming the right wing of the Sixth German Army under the command of the Crown Prince of Bavaria, the 1st West Yorkshire's (in brigade) now received orders to attack the enemy held line from Neuf Berquin, Bleu, les 3 Fermes, with the brigades left flank being established on the railway. Third Corps were to attack this line whist the 17th Infantry Brigade were to launch their attack along the line Outtersteene, Bailleul, to the south of the latter with its right flank on the railway. With the enemy fighting in effect a rearguard action until reinforcements could arrive, the attack was scheduled to take place at 1.30 p.m. on the afternoon of the 13th of October.         

France, Second Edition ("B") Series
Sheet 36A N.E. O.S.O. 1915

Bleu:- 13th October 1914

At 7.30 a.m. on the morning of the 13th, the West Yorkshire's, forming part of an Advanced Guard to the 18th Infantry Brigade, departed their billets. Under the command of Major Lang, the 6th Division would march eastwards in two columns, the right column and Advanced Guard comprising of the Platoon Cyclists (less one Section, O.C. Captain Stephen Hamilton Dix), one Battery of 38th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (O.C. Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Fanshawe Fox D.S.O.), one Section 38th Field Company, Royal Engineers (O.C. Major Frederick Macdonnell Browne), and the West Yorkshire's. Units of the Artillery and Engineers allocated to the Advanced Guard were to report to Major Lang at the Church at Grand Sec Bois at 7 a.m. The Main Body of the advance contained the 18th Infantry Brigade Headquarters (G.O.C. Temporary Brigadier-General Walter Norris Congreve V.C., C.B., M.V.O., one Section of Cyclists, 2nd Durham Light Infantry (O.C. Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard William Lynedoch McMahon), 2nd Sherwood Foresters (O.C. Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Randell Crofton-Atkins), 38th Brigade, R.F.A. (less one Battery), 38th Field Company (less one Section and Pontoon and Trestle Wagons), 1st East Yorkshire's (less one Platoon of "C" Company who were to join the Column at Grand Sec Bois) and the Brigade Reserve Small Arms Ammunition. With the East Yorkshire's forming the rear of the Column, this was in turn followed by the 18th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, (O.C. Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Alexander Watson, Special Reserve), Brigade Tool Carts, 38th Brigade R.F.A. Ammunition Column (O.C. Captain Conway Rowlay Hill), Pontoon and Trestle Wagons (R.E.), 'Grouped' First Line Transport and the Platoon of East Yorkshire's due to join at Grand Sec Bois.

Commencing their march at a road junction south-east of Hazebrouck at Au Souverain, the Right Column proceeded via Point 23 to Petit Sec Bois and onwards to Vieux Berquin which was reached about noon. (Authors note: The Advanced Guard were however held up at Vieux Berquin at 10 a.m. that altered the route of march of the East Yorkshire's). Upon their arrival, the brigade relieved "C" Squadron, 19th Hussars, in the village, the 38th Brigade, R.F.A. establishing their three batteries to the west of Vieux Berquin in preparation for offensive operations. With Third Corps containing the 17th Infantry Brigade advancing against the enemy to the north, the objectives of the 18th Infantry Brigade were Bleu and les 3 Fermes to the west of Vieux Berquin, the left of the attack resting on the railway. The attack which was set for 1.30 p.m. would be conducted by the West Yorkshire's, their right flank being directed on the cross roads north of Bleu located between Ferme Labis and Haute Maison, whilst the East Yorkshire's were to launch their attack to the south with the objective of ejecting enemy forces from the village of la Couronne. Each attacking battalion would occupy a frontage of 500 yards with two companies in support, the East Yorkshire's tasked with defending the right flank of the attack whilst the Durham's were to advance on the Ferme Labis les 3 Fermes in an easterly direction to the north of Bleu, two companies occupying a frontage of 600 yards and with two companies in support respectively. The Brigade Reserve would comprise of the Sherwood Foresters who would arrange themselves in a column of fours in Vieux Berquin, the Brigade Ammunition Reserve being established at a cross roads, south of the village of le Paradis. The Field Companies of the 38th R.E. were to remain in their present positions and in Reserve whilst the 18th Field Ambulance were to establish a Dressing Station at Petit Sec Bois furnishing one Stretcher Bearer Section of "A," "B" and "C" Sections with each of the attacking battalions respectively. With "Zero" hour set for 1.30 p.m., this was later amended for some unknown reason to 2 p.m. With guns ready with stocks of Lyddite, Howitzer Shrapnel and 18 Pounder rounds, the attack went in just as it started to rain.


Little is recorded of the actual attack itself other than a short narrative contained in the pages of the 18th Infantry Brigade War Diary (WO95/1614/1). Due to the weather conditions, the day became unseasonably dark with observation for the supporting artillery batteries becoming increasingly difficult. Despite the conditions, the West Yorkshire's advanced over the flat lands towards Bleu, advancing as they were across muddy fields that slowed their progress. Information as to what was actually occuring during the course of the advance was nigh on impossible by 'Runners,' they too hampered by the muddy terrain as they attempted to take their vital messages back to Brigade Headquarters. Bleu was captured about 4.30 p.m. but the brigade had attacked over a frontage far too long for its strength.

The attack of the East Yorkshire's on la Couronne did not come to fruition however the hamlet had indeed been occupied by "D" Company. Due to the hold up of the Advanced Guard at Vieux Berquin, the battalion had been ordered to move via Seclin, to the east of the Bois d'Aval, and Verte Rue, but on their arrival at the latter place it was found that "D" Company had occupied la Couronne some time previously and were in the process of entrenching themselves. As the remainder of the battalion arrived, it soon became apparent that the enemy were holding Bleu Farm, a quarter of a mile south-east of la Couronne and Pont Rondin although French cavalry were holding positions to their right. Chronology of the East Yorkshire's War Diary is difficult to determine with some degree of accuracy but for this battalion the events unfolded as follows:- With their left flank resting on the right of the West Yorkshire's, the battalion commenced their advance with two companies, "A" on the right flank, "C" on the left flank respectively, with both "B" and "D" Companies in support. No doubt due to an exposed right flank, the Battalion Machine Gun Section were placed in this position as both the leading companies captured their objective (Bleu) at about 4 p.m. Due to the presence of enemy infantry and machine guns at Bleu Farm, two half companies had to be held back at la Couronne but these were reinforced at 5.20 p.m. by two companies of the Sherwood Foresters, one company being withdrawn later to Vieux Berquin. The remainder of the battalion now proceeded to Bleu, Ammunition Carts and horses being ordered to move by a circuitous route via Ferme Labis and Ferme Hullebert.

Turning our attentions to the Durham Light Infantry, they also attacked their objectives at 2 p.m., Ferme Labis and les 3 Fermes respectively. The enemy occupied a strong position leaving the attackers open to both enfilade fire from artillery and machine guns. Lieutenant Walter Evelyn Parke, Officer Commanding the Machine Gun Section, was unfortunately killed early in the attack whilst trying to lift a machine gun over a hedge near les 3 Fermes. Second-Lieutenant Harry Hilton Storey who had joined the ranks in 1894 was shot through the head and killed whilst leading his platoon forward whilst Second-Lieutenant Cecil Evans-Smith was wounded. In Other Ranks the battalion sustained eleven men killed and sixty wounded, revised casualty numbers extracted from the Commonwealth War Graves Database recording that on the 13th of October, twelve men were killed whilst a further three men succumbed to wounds at the 18th Field Ambulance during the course of the following day. Men such as Lance-Corporal James William Lucas, 9206, who had originally enlisted in the year of 1905. A native of Stockton-on-Tees, James had been recalled to the Colours from the Army Reserve in July 1914 and sustained a wound to the head during the attack that had resulted in a fractured skull. Succumbing to his wounds on the 14th, James, aged 26 years, now lies buried in Sec-Bois Communal Cemetery, Vieux Berquin. Of those who were killed in the attack, amongst their number was Private Charles Shaw, 8462, a native of Derby. Enlisting at Derby in the year of 1903, Charles had served for a considerable length of time in India before being recalled to the Colours from the Army Reserve. Killed in action on the 13th aged 33 years, akin to all the enlisted ranks who were killed on this date, his body was not identified after the war, therefore, he is now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

With the battalions ordered to dig in and hold the line "at all costs," the East Yorkshire's had suffered four men killed and eighteen wounded. Amongst those numbered in the dead was Acting Lance-Sergeant Albert Richard Stillwell, 9320, a native of Hove, Brighton. Enlisting in 1909, his body was exhumed from the battlefield in 1920 and interred at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension along with a number of men who fell in the area. Private John Sheran, 8349, a native of Sheffield, was killed whilst about a mile into the advance. Enlisting in 1906, Private Harry Marriott, 9013, described the manner of his death in an article published in the Sports Special ("The Green 'Un".) dated the 21st of November 1914. About 300 yards into the advance, Marriott came across a wounded German whose wounds he dressed and who was subsequently evacuated by the Field Ambulance Stretcher Bearers. Continuing to advance, a shell burst, a fragment of which struck his rifle and tore open the back of his right hand, Private Sheran, standing next to him, receiving a fatal blow to the face by a piece of shrapnel that killed him instantly. A resident of Radford Street, John Sheran is now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Another man to fall was Private Tom Boddy, 8170, a resident of Hornsea. Enlisting in 1905 and serving both at home and in India, Tom was mobilised upon the outbreak of the war. A soldier with "D" Company, he was killed whilst trying to cover the evacuation of wounded men near la Couronne aged 26 years. Denied a known grave, Tom is also commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

In Other Ranks, the West Yorkshire's had suffered nine men killed and thirty two wounded. Major Cliffe had been mortally wounded during the course of the day whilst both Captain Hugh Blenkinsop Spence and Second-Lieutenant Frank Lowndes Wright had also sustained wounds during the action. An analysis of the C.W.G.C. Database now reveals that on the 13th of October, ten men fell on this date, amongst their number being one Private Thomas Grayson, 9618, a native of Holbeck, Leeds. A resident of Rydall Terrace, Tom had enlisted at York in 1911 and prior to service with the military, had been employed as a Brick Makers Labourer. Killed in action, his body was exhumed in 1920 and interred at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension. Another soldier from Leeds was one Private John McLean, 8027, a resident of Otter Street, Kirkstall. Aged 27 years and a Reservist, prior to the war John had been employed Messrs. Frank Horsell and Co., Ink Manufacturers, of Victoria Road, Holbeck. Denied a known grave, John is now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium. Private Ivan Lewin Croxton, 10165, a resident of Liscard, Wallasey, aged 19 years. Having previously served with the Royal Garrison Artillery, Territorial Force, Ivan had enlisted at Liverpool in June 1914 and had numbered amongst the first reinforcements to join the battalion after the "White Flag" incident. Killed in action, Ivan is also too now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial having been denied a known grave.

Private Herbert Johnson, 5850, a resident of Grafton Square, Wetherby. Enlisting in 1900 aged 18 years, his occupation was recorded as that of an Engine Cleaner. Witnessing action in the South African War and serving in India, after various re-engagements with the Colours, i.e. extending his military service, Herbert was mobilised at York in the August of 1914. Posted overseas on the 24th of September 1914, he joined the battalion as part of a draft numbering 1 officer and 96 men on the 27th of September. Wounded in the hand during a later engagement, Herbert was evacuated to England and received treatment for his wounds at Lincoln Hospital. Writing home to his mother of his experiences during the events of the 13th, an extract of his letter home was published in the Skyrack Courier dated the 6th of November 1914:-

"We have had a very hard time since I came out, marching and fighting night and day, and on Tuesday, the 13th October, we came on the enemy strongly entrenched, and so the Durhams and East Yorks had to take the position at all costs. Our company, under Lieut. Wright, had to go and see what was in the village near. We got to the entrance of it, and the French cavalry were in it. Lots of them lay in the streets killed and wounded, horses too, so we had to stay there. Our officer sent me and an N.C.O. to a gateway across a field to see what was there. A turnip field further on was full of the enemy, with big guns as well. We reported to the officer, but he seemed to doubt it, as he and the N.C.O. went out again. They had not gone far before we were minus the officer, so we stayed where we were till the battalion came up.

Then we were ordered to advance across in companies in extended order. They then started to open fire. It was murder, shells dropping always. Many a good man went under that day. One was Major Cliff, from Leeds: a shell dropped right on his head. It was a sudden death for the poor fellow. We took the position, but I was glad when it was dark. We stayed in the trenches all night, wet through, and cold, and tired out. We chased them on and on".     

The senior officer casualty, Major Herbert Theodore Cliff, had originally joined the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Militia) as a Second-Lieutenant in October 1900 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in April 1901. Promoted to the rank of Captain in August of that same year, Cliff would serve in Malta during the Second Boer War and receive the Mediterranian Medal. Upon the battalion being disembodied in October 1902, Cliff was then appointed Instructor of Musketry in March 1907. Serving in the Special Reserve, he would enter a union of marriage in September 1912 at Walton-on-Thames, the bride being one Miss Alice Mary ("Molly") Trinder, the daughter of Mr. Arnold Trinder, a Solicitor, of River House, Walton-on-Thames. (Authors note:- The Best Man was one Captain Charles Peter Marten, Adjutant of the 3rd Battalion. Marten would be killed on the Somme in September 1916 whilst commanding the 18th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps). Establishing their marital home at the Manor House, Barmby Moor, in August 1913, their one and only child was born, Antony Dewhirst Cliff. Returning to the Colours and joining the 1st West Yorkshire's on the 9th of October, accounts vary as to the circumstances surrounding his death. Apparently wounded during the morning, "he fought gallantly and refused to give in" until he was killed later in the day by the fall of a shell. An accomplished cricketer who frequently played for the Yorkshire Gentlemen, Major Cliff was also a keen follower of the Bramham Moor, York and Ainsty and Lord Middleton's Hounds. Aged 39 years and buried on the battlefield, his body was exhumed in 1920 and interred in Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension.                                             

The Sphere Dated The 7th Of November, 1914

The Advance Continues

It was on the 14th of October that Lieutenant-Colonel Towsey returned and took over command of the battalion. Continuing to advance against a German rear guard that comprised of cavalry and machine guns, the 18th Infantry Brigade, acting as the right flank guard to the 6th Division, headed on towards le Verrier, north of Doulieu. With the 1st West Yorkshire's acting as the Advanced Guard, a line was eventually reached from le Verrier - la Becque after an advance over a distance of four miles. One wagon, six bicycles and some correspondence had been left behind by the enemy and during the course of a thoroughly wet night, the West Yorkshire's remained on outpost duty. During the advance, Second-Lieutenant Jasper Carew had unfortunately been killed along with Sergeant Charles Aris Bentley, 8261, and Second-Lieutenant Joseph Gill and four Other Ranks wounded.
Second-Lieutenant Carew it was recorded in the pages of De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, "fell while gallantly leading his platoon in an advance guard action near Hazebrouck. It was quite instantaneous, and he suffered no pain and never moved. He was beloved by every one, always cheery and bright under all circumstances, and we had some trying ones. A most promising officer, absolutely fearless, and had done so well".
Both Second-Lieutenant Carew and Sergeant Bentley, a resident of Whitstable, Kent, who had enlisted in 1906, were initially buried in Doulieu Churchyard. Both their bodies were exhumed in 1923 and interred at "Y" Farm Military Cemetery near Bois-Grenier.        

Author:- April 2022
During the night and under cover of darkness, the enemy had retired once again. Upon the brigade moving to Steenwerck, it was at 7 p.m. on the evening of the 15th that the brigade acting as the Right Column of the 6th Division, marched on Sailly-sur-la-Lys to the south. Marching via the hamlet of le Petit Mortier and with the 2nd Sherwoods as Advanced Guard, the latter battalion arrived at the River Lys at 8.30 p.m. only to find the bridge over the river destroyed. Crossing over the river via the remnants of the bridge, they found the town evacuated by both the French and the Germans whereupon they proceeded to occupy the outer edges of the town at 11. p.m. Outposts were then placed in position, whilst the remainder of the battalion billeted, the 2nd Durham's also joining them and setting up Outposts south of the town. As these two battalions settled down on what was described as damp and frosty night, the West Yorkshire's billeted at le Petit Mortier whilst the 1st East Yorkshire's, who halted on the road at le Chien Blanc, moved into billets near le Cruseobeau at 1 a.m.
At 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 16th of October, both the East and West Yorkshire battalions joined the remainder of the 18th Infantry Brigade at Sailly. Upon reaching the town, the West Yorkshire's were ordered to take up a line of Outposts along with the Sherwood Foresters at the Rouge de Bout, south-east of Sailly, the East Yorkshire's taking up positions extending from the Rouge de Bout eastwards along the Rue Biache. Now in touch with the French Cavalry under the command of General Conneau at Laventie and with the 17th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division, who were holding Outpost positions along the Rue Biache and the Rue Delpierre north-east of Fleurbaix.
On the morning of the 17th at 7.30 a.m., the 18th Infantry Brigade in parallel with the 17th Brigade continued the advance. The 17th Brigade in accordance with Operation Orders marched to Chapelle d'Armentieres, south-east of Armentieres, and encountered no opposition. Billets were then secured for the battalions whilst positions were prepared between la Vesee north-east of Bois-Grenier, and the railway just to the north of Chapelle d'Armentieres. Outpost lines were then established on the line Rue du Bois, north of la Houssoie, the Boulogne - Lille Road, and a position at Chapelle d'Armentieres. The 18th Brigade now marched a distance of five miles to Bois-Grenier which was reached at about 9.30 a.m.  without encountering any opposition. Upon their arrival, the East Yorkshire's were ordered to "make good" the line from Wez Macquart, south-east of Chapelle d'Armentieres, to la Fleur d'Ecosse to the south, the road running south-west from Wez Macquart being secured towards le Quesne, south of la Houssoie. The 2nd Durham's were also sent forward to prolong the line to the south, occupying le Quesne, le Touquet, south-east of Bois Maisnil. As both battalions withdrew at dusk to a line Rue David, running south-east from la Croix Marechal - le Touquet - Grande Flamendrie Ferme, south-east of Bois-Grenier, to la Guernerie, to the north-east of the latter, the remaining battalions of the brigade billeted at Bois-Grenier.
The Tactical Situation
As of the night of the 17th/18th of October 1914, the Third Corps, of which the 6th Division were contained, had advanced with relatively little opposition. Second Corps to the south, containing the 3rd and 5th Divisions, had however been heavily engaged, 3rd Division losing their G.O.C., Major-General Hubert Ion Wetherall Hamilton, C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., on the 14th of October. Orders issued from the German General Staff on this date dictated that their 6 Armee, under the command of the Crown Prince Rupprecht, were to remain in a defensive and static position along the line from the north to south, Messines, Armentieres and La Bassee. These orders, were in essence a 'masquerade' to cover the arrival of the newly formed 4 Armee under the command of Albrecht, Duke of Wurttemberg, who were to attack the left flank of the Allies at Ypres. To the south, it was on the 15th that the 3rd Division of Second Corps continued their advance with great determination, forcing the enemy to retire from the Estaires-La Bassee Road and thus establishing a line north-west of Neuve Chapelle from Pont du Hem to Croix-Barbee, north to south respectively.
With Antwerp surrendering on the 10th of October, it was on the 16th that the force protecting and covering the retirement of the Belgian Army were freed from withdrawal operations. Under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, this force, comprising of the 7th Division under the command Major-General Thompson Capper C.B., D.S.O, and the 3rd Cavalry Division, Major-General Hon. Julian Hedworth George Byng C.B., M.V.O., were now ordered to form the left column in an advance eastwards. As a consequence, the 7th Division took up a position east of Ypres and established a line, from south to north, Zandvoorde - Gheluvelt - Zonnebeke. Taking up positions on their left flank were the 3rd Cavalry Division, who took up the high ground from Langemarck to Poelcappelle.
Thus, at midnight on the 17th/18th October, the dispositions of Third Corps were as follows:-
6th Division
16th Infantry Brigade, Rouge du Bout, east of Laventie, and eastwards to Croix Blanch, south of Fleurbaix, and then on to Bois-Grenier
18th Infantry Brigade, Bois-Grenier - la Vesee, to the north-east
17th Infantry Brigade, la Vesee - Chapelle d'Armentieres
4th Division (G.O.C. Major-General Thomas D'Oyly Snow C.B.)
Supporting operations were mounted by the Cavalry Corps on the left flank of the 4th Division whilst the French Cavalry Corps under the command of General Conneau were placed in a position between the Third and Second Corps respectively. In terms of the dispositions of enemy forces, the 6 Armee held the line, from south to north, Radinghem, Premesques, Perenchies, le Temple, Frelinghien, and then a line stretching alon the eastern banks of the River Lys to Wervicq. The exact strength of the enemy force was an unknown quantity as was the precise line that he held. To this end, Operation Orders were issued to 3rd Corps to "test strength on line la Vallee - Perenchies," the 18th Infantry Brigade being tasked with an advance on the line la Vallee - le Paradis. In conjunction, the 17th Infantry Brigade would advance on the line Mont de Premesques - Perenchies. Instructions for the 16th Infantry Brigade stipulated that they were to perform a reconnaissance with one battalion on the line la Vallee - Hau de Bas - Becquart. Allocated for this duty were the 1st Battalion, East Kent Regiment, but as a precaution, the 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment were to cover their right flank with one company who were to proceed to Bridoux.
Advance Of The East Yorkshire's And The Durham's 
The advance would be carried out by both the East Yorkshire's and the Durham's with both the West Yorkshire's and the Sherwood Foresters in Reserve at Rue du Bois and Grande Flamendrie Ferme respectively. The advance was scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. however this was delayed until 8 a.m. as the Durham's reported that they were "not ready". The Durham's would advance and attack through Ennetieres (Ennetieres-en-Weppes) with their first objective being the Fort d'Englos to the east of the town, the East Yorkshire's attacking through Capinghem with their first objective being the Ferme St. Martin. Prior to the advance, both battalions would move forward to occupy the line held the night previously, the attack being supported by the guns of the 38th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.       
Belgium And Part Of France, Edition 6, Sheet 36

The guns of the 38th Brigade, R.F.A. had remained in action during the night but at 8.15 a.m. on morning of the 18th, the 24th Battery took up 'new' positions at Grande Flamendrie Ferme, west of le Quesne. The battery now proceeded to lay out lines of fire in the direction of Radinghem to supporth the line of advance of the Durham's. Once this battery was in position, the 34th Battery were advanced to a position at Rue du Bois so as to create a zone of fire around le Paradis to support the advance of the East Yorkshire's. On the left flank, the East Yorkshire's advanced and met little opposition and by 10 a.m. "D" Company advancing on the left of the battalion frontage had reached high ground at le Paradis. "A" Company advancing on the left finding itself a little to the rear of "D" Company eventually secured high ground south of le Paradis however great difficulty was experienced on this flank maintaining contact with the Durham's on their right. Of the Durham's, little is recorded of their initial advance however Ennetieres was gained by mid morning as both battalions awaited orders from the brigade.
Orders had been issued and then rescinded but by 1.40 p.m., further orders confirmed that both battalions were to proceed on towards their first objectives, the attack being scheduled for 2 p.m. To support this further advance, the Sherwood Foresters were moved forward at 11 a.m. to le Quesne, the West Yorkshire's being moved forward to support the East Yorkshire's at 2.30 p.m. at le Paradis. 38th Brigade R.F.A. also adjusted the positions of their batteries prior to the infantry moving forward; Brigade Headquarters moving forward to le Quesne along with the 87th Battery who established an Observation Post (O.P.) on high ground located at le Touquet, due west of Radinghem. With information received at about midday that both Radinghem and Escobeques were held by enemy forces, 24th Battery engaged targets at Escobeques whilst 87th Battery opened fire on Radinghem.
On the frontage held by the 16th Infantry Brigade, the 1st East Kent's commenced their advance, debouching at about 10.30 a.m. from Grande Flamendrie Ferme. Proceeding to advance to a line Hau de Bas - la Vallee, orders dictated that they were not to get too entangled with the enemy, "B," "C" and "D" Companies advancing with "A" Company in Support. Receiving heavy fire, the line was secured at about 2.20 p.m., verbal orders then being issued for the battalion to attack along the line Radinghem - Escobecques. Meeting no opposition, Radinghem was reached but it was then that a fierce volley of fire was met from the direction of the Chateau de Flandres to the south, the advance continuing with the support of the Yorks and Lancs as both took and established a line in a wood that encompassed the Chateau to the north. As regards the advance of the Y & L, "A" Company took Radinghem without too much opposition about 2.40 p.m. but the line of advance was subsequently held up by fire from both French and British artillery. With the companies of the East Kent's, the attackers now debouched from the village at about 3.30 p.m. from the eastern aspect whereupon the advance now reached a plateau about 300 yards in width with the Chateau Woods providing a formidable position for the enemy to the rear. Now coming under heavy shell fire from the south, the advance continued with a line being established on the Radinghem - Fromelles Road, the right of the line coming under a deadly crossfire of both machine guns and shrapnel. Caught in the open, the line was forced to retire back to the Road but at this point in time, the remaining companies of the Yorks and Lancs under the command of Major Gerald Edward Bayley having now gained a foothold in the woods of the Chateau from the west rose to the advance. Three attempts were bravely made however on each occassion the men were driven back by a crossfire of machine guns located at the southern boundary of the Wood as well as rifle fire and shrapnel. As no further progress could be made without suffering more losses, the battalion, in conjunction with the East Kents, took up a position on the Radinghem - Fromelles Road. By 5.10 p.m., this line had been generally taken up and entrenched with a line of defence established to the rear, one company of the Yorks and Lancs under the command of Major William Fletcher Clemson and made up of men who had been rallied by their officer, positioned to the right rear of the battalion. Fortunately, the rifle and machine gun fire of the enemy had ceased but the men still came under the attentions of enemy artillery who fired shrapnel into the positions.
The situation still hung in the balance despite the enemy having retired earlier due to the threat of being outflanked. A request was now sent to the Divisional Headquarters for the line to be reinforced by either the Leicesters or the Shropshires and at 6 p.m, what was feared commenced, an enemy counter-attack from the direction of the Chateau de Flandres. This attack however was repulsed, the orders for reinforcements subsequently being cancelled. It was at 6.20 p.m. that orders were received by the brigade, from the division, to fall back from Radinghem to the Rue du Bois and handover the village to the French cavalry. Just ten minutes later, a French cavalry officer arrived stating that he had only 150 men available to hold the village, far from inadequate to hold the position as ordered. With the situation reported to the division, these orders were rescinded, both the East Kents and the Yorks and Lancs being ordered to maintain position. To bolster the rear, both the 1st Leicesters and the 1st King's Own Shropshire Light Infantry were ordered forward to the Rue du Bois and placed in Divisional Reserve. With the men battle weary, by the early hours of the the 19th of October, the brigade had established contact with the right of the 18th Infantry Brigade at the railway crossing east of les Bas Champs Ferme and with French cavalry forces to the west of Radinghem at Feterie. Casualties to the East Kents during the course of the day numbered 3 officers wounded, 18 men killed, 55 wounded, and 5 missing. Casualties of the York and Lancasters numbered 2 officers wounded, 13 men killed, 93 wounded, and 27 missing. (Authors note:- During the course of building work in 2009 south of Radinghem, the bodies of 15 men of the York and Lancaster Regiment were discovered. Tracing surviving relatives, DNA testing identified 11 men who fell on the 18th of October, all being reburied with full military honours at "Y" Farm Cemetery, Bois Grenier, in 2014).
Returning to the 18th Infantry Brigade, their advance had also proved to be successful. Meeting what was described as "considerable opposition," the Durham's occupied Ennetieres at about 5 p.m. but the advance of the East Yorkshire's was hampered by the inability of the 17th Brigade on their left flank to capture the Mont de Premesques. During the hours of darkness, a line was established and entrenched, the East Yorkshire's then being relieved by the West Yorkshire's, the former, minus "C" Company who remained in the line, then proceeding to billets at la Fleur d'Ecosse. Losses of the East Yorks numbered one officer killed, Captain Arthur Henry Wilson, and a further 2 officers wounded, 12 men killed, 52 wounded and 8 men missing. The Durham's had suffered 2 officers wounded, 4 men killed, 74 wounded and 29 missing, the battalion then being relieved by the Sherwood Foresters. The line as it now stood was too extended for the strength of the brigade, the position on the right flank being particularly weak due to the position occupied by the 16th Brigade to the rear of Radinghem. To this end, Brigadier-General Congreve then visited Divisional Headquarters and explained the tactical situation. Ordered by Third Corps to hold the position, in order to do so the line was extended eastwards of Ennetieres and strengthened by trenches and barricades. Retiring the centre of the line and holding the latter, touch was gained on the left flank with the 2nd Leinsters of the 17th Brigade at a crossroads to the south-west of the Mont de Premesques. As the men of the brigade settled down as best they could for the night, the Sherwood Foresters occupying positions to the right of the West Yorkshire's were attacked by rifle and shell fire at 9 p.m. This fire eventually ceased at 1 a.m. but not without causing the wounding of 20 N.C.O.'s and men. The West Yorkshire's also suffered casualties no doubt due to this four hour 'hate,' Captain Frank Pickford Worsley receiving a wound to his left shoulder which necessitated his evacuation to England in addition to the wounding of 13 Other Ranks.
To close the actions of the day, I will provide a brief summary of the activities of the 17th Infantry Brigade. Advancing on the line Perenchies - Mont de Premesques, north to south respectively, little opposition was met on the right flank at first but on the left a withering fire was experienced from trenches located at both la Fresnelle and la Prevote north-west of Perenchies. In the face of this fire, the right attack of the 3rd Rifle Brigade was held up to the south of la Fresnelle, their left flank, as a consequence, being left unsupported, ordered to fall back. In support, the 1st Royal Fusiliers came up to the attack at 2 p.m., one company having previously been placed at the disposal of the Rifle Brigade at 12.30 p.m. With orders to advance on the line la Fresnelle - le Temple, it was when the environs of  l'Epinette were reached that the battalion came under intense fire, forcing them to entrench in the position. Now dark, it was vital that touch had to be obtained with flanking units, the companies of the battalion eventually finding secure in a ditch, half of "C" Company then being placed in a ditch to the rear as a Reserve. During the night, touch was obtained with the 1st Royal Warwicks of the 4th Division but it was a cause for concern that there were gaps in the line on either flanks, these only being partially filled. The advance of the 2nd Leinsters on the right however proved to be more successful. Advancing at 7.30 a.m., by 10 a.m. "D" Company had occupied Premesques but it was found that the enemy were strongly entrenched in a position to the south-east of the village in the vicinity of the Mont. Making good their positions, touch was obtained on both flanks, the left flank occupying positions about Bas True, the right, in touch with the 18th Brigade at the crossroads to the south of the Mont.
Commemoration Under Construction