Son of Thomas and Annie Weston of 'Belmont,'
Wetherby. Husband of Marjorie Weston (nee Turner).
was born at Kettering, Northamptonshire on the 17th November, 1889, to parents Thomas, occupation, a Mechanical Engineer,
and Annie Weston. One of three children, shortly after the birth of Charles the family relocated to Downderry, Cornwall, the
family residing in premises located at Number 5, Brenton Terrace. The Author can find no trace of Charles and his family in
the 1901 Census however in 1911 he is recorded as a visitor to the household of one Arthur William Turner, the father of his
future wife at their family home located at Wigginton, near York, occupation recorded as that of an Under Manager, Soap Works.
It would also appear that at this juncture that Philip Douglas Weston, Charles' brother, was also residing in Yorkshire
as a Boarder at premises located at Barlby, near Selby. His occupation is recorded in the 1911 Census as an Assistant Engineer
in the process of Seed Crushing, Oil Mills, Cakes. The main employer in this manufacturing process in the area were the Olympia
Oil & Cake Company, part of the vast business empire of Joseph Watson, 1st Baron Manton. Watson, who resided at Linton
Springs near Wetherby, was also involved in the production of soap at his works located on Whitehall Road, Leeds, colloquially
known as "Soapy Joe's," much of his raw product for this process being supplied by the Olympia Company. It is
therefore possible that both Charles and Philip had found employment within the auspices of the Watson empire.
Leeds University & O.T.C.
Prior to 1911 and specifically during the years 1909 - 1910, Charles was
registered as a student at Leeds University studying Faculties Of Arts (including Commerce and Law), Science and Technology.
It was during this period of his education that Charles had enlisted in the Officer Training Corps that had been formed at
the University. The formation of the O.T.C.'s was the product of one of the many sweeping changes of the Haldane Reforms
implemented by the then Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane, that, amongst other issues, had identified a shortage
of officers during the Second Boer War, 1899 - 1902. Progressing through the Senior Division of the Leeds O.T.C., Charles
applied for a Temporary Commission in the British Army for the duration of the War at Seaforth Barracks, Liverpool on the
26th August 1914, his address for correspondence at the time of this application being 8, Highfield Road, Rockferry, Cheshire,
however his permanent address is recorded as that of 'Belmont,' Wetherby.
After undergoing a preliminary medical examination, Charles was described as 72 inches in
height, 164 pounds in weight with vision, hearing and teeth being described as 'good' and as a consequence he was
pronounced 'fit' for service in the British Army. His appointment as a Temporary Second-Lieutenant, Cadets and ex
Cadets of the Officer Training Corps, is confirmed in the London Gazette published on the 11th September, 1914, Page 7223,
respective appointment to rank dated the 12th September, 1914.
7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment:- Formation
Temporary Second-Lieutenant Charles Guy Weston would be posted to the fledgeling
7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, formed at Richmond, North Yorkshire, under Army Order No. 382 on the 11th September,
1914. Formed as a K2 Battalion as a direct response to the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener's second
plea for another 100,000 men to join the New Armies, this Army Order also approved of the addition to the Army of a further
six divisions; the 15th (Scottish), 16th (Irish), 17th (Northern), 18th (Eastern), 19th (Western) and the 20th (Light) Division
Contained in the 50th Infantry Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division, the Brigade also comprised
of the following battalions:
10th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
7th (Service) Battalion, East
7th (Service) Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment *
6th (Service) Battalion, Dorsetshire
* 7th York & Lancaster Regiment became Divisional Pioneers in 1915 and were replaced in the
50th Infantry Brigade by the 6th Dorsets
Recruitment & Training
As men flocked to Richmond to enlist, amongst their number was nineteen year
old Charles Burns, an Assistant Chemist and a native of Chester-le-Street, Durham. Attesting for military service at Houghton-le-Spring
on the 31st of August 1914, Charles provided an account of events at Richmond in September 1914 that were published in the
Chester-le-Street Chronicle And District Advertiser dated the 20th of November 1914. Although chronology is incorrect at some
points, the article provides a fascinating insight into the 'heady days' of September 1914, extracts of which follow:-
"For the first fortnight I can't
say I had the best of it, but considering the number of recruits that had to be dealt with, it was as well as may be anticipated.
On arriving at Richmond (Tuesday, September 2nd), we were told that there was no place for us to sleep as there were
already 12,000 men in barracks with accommodation for only 400. They wouldn't allow us back into town again, so I had
to sleep in the open, without any blankets. For meals we were all lined up on the square, and many a time I had to stand for
nearly two hours before I got anything. For breakfast we got one slice of jam and bread with one pint mug of tea between two
men, and for dinner Irish stew and potatoes, but one had to be fortunate to get anything like a decent meal. At first I found
it a difficult job to sit on the green with a plate on my knee, and without a knife and fork, but after a little practice
I soon picked it up. Tea was much the same as breakfast, sometimes having biscuits (which we had to break with our feet),
instead of bread. After meals we had to lie about and sleep it off, as there was nothing else to do. I was in barracks for
four days then 200 of us were billeted in an old laundry. The grub here was much worse than the barracks, but one good thing
was: we were in the town.
We left Richmond
(500 of us) the following Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. for Wareham. It was an awful journey, as it was a hot scorching day and
ten of us were packed into each compartment. If ever we pulled up near a station there was a raid on the fire buckets, and
may be some of the water had stood for months. When we arrived at Cheltingham (sic) at 3 p.m. we had our first meal,
if you'll allow me to call it a meal - two biscuits (of the barrack brand) and a tin of "potted dog" to each
compartment. We landed at Woole (sic) station at 9 p.m., and then we marched for about four miles along a dusty by-road
to a camp. There had been a mistake on the part of the officers; we had been brought a station too far, and our camp was seven
miles away. Lucky for us there was a farm at hand so we made ourselves comfortable in the cowbires, etc. Next morning we started
off at 6 a.m. to march to Wareham, and really I thought we should never have got there as everyone was nearly "fagged
out" however we managed to stay the distance, but again we got a very bad reception. There wasn't one thing prepared
for us and just as we started to put up the tents, down it came in torrents and never ceased for two days. For the first few
days grub was very scarce, in fact you had to fight for all you got. After a week or so things soon got put into good running
order and we have had very little to grumble at since".
Although life was spartan and recreational facilities non-existent, this civilian army needed
to be trained but before this could be initiated, men with former military service were urged to come forward to join the
battalion to assist in all aspects of training such as drill, musketry etc. To this end, Colonel Fife, Officer Commanding,
wrote to the Yorkshire Post requesting the need for experienced men for this purpose, an open letter being published in the
Yorkshire Post dated the 15th of September 1914:-
To the Editor of the
"Sir,- As Officer
Commanding 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, I have been authorised to engage ex non-commissioned officers up to the age of
45, for the purpose of training my Battalion. As it is possible that there are some living in Yorkshire who served with me
in the "Green Howards," I should be greatly obliged if you would publish this letter in your columns in order that
they may know how gladly I should welcome them here. Before starting for Wareham it would be advisable to be passed fit by
a doctor, and they should bring their discharge papers with them. Their railway expenses would be paid.- Yours, etc.
Camp, Wareham, Dorset, Sept. 12, 1914".
the privations and lack of equipment, training progressed throughout the months of September and October. Hutted accommodation
began to be erected but was delayed by a strike by carpenters that eventually required the intervention of Lord Kitchener
himself. With the situation satisfactorily settled, by early November, Charles Burns and some men of the battalion were fortunate
to find themselves under cover but the number of wooden huts was insufficient, the weather during the close of the month of
November deteriorating to heavy rain. Suffice to say, many men had become sick due to the living conditions, Private Percy
Hand, 12333, being admitted to the Dorchester County Hospital where he would unfortunately die on the 30th of October. Little
information is known about Percy other than he was born at Stourbridge, Worcestershire in 1871, the son of one John and Mary
Ann Hand of Market Street, Stourbridge. Enlisting at Stokesley, North Yorkshire, on the 29th of August 1914, his occupation
is recorded in the Register Of Soldiers' Effects as that of a Painter. The exact circumstances surrounding
his death are unknown but Percy was buried on the 2nd of November at Fordington Cemetery, Dorchester, Dorset, his
age for some reason being recorded as 35 years. His effects were, after his death, forwarded to his brother, Richard Phasey
Hand, a resident of Derby.
Still lacking in beds
and simple items of furniture, Charles Burns, 12837, of "C" Company continues to provide us with information as
regards the daily routine of the men. At this point in early November, 200 men had received their inoculations against Typhoid
"A" and "B," Private Ernest Hopkinson of the 10th West Yorkshire's noting rather wryly that the men
were having to perform their daily duties minus the use of one arm!
rise at six every morning and then biscuits and cocoa at 6.30 a.m.; parade at 7 for a route march of about three miles, perhaps
half-a-mile doubling. Breakfast is at 8. To each tent (12 men) we get three loaves of bread, 3 or 4 lbs. of the best butter,
and a good piece of boiled bacon each. Turn out again at 9.30 for skirmishing work on the moors. This lasts until about one
o'clock. Dinner is a good meal, but we never get any change, that is: a good plateful of Irish stew and potatoes and 4
ozs of bread. After dinner we parade at 2.30 until 3.30 for physical drill, then musketry work. Three nights in the week we
have night attacks, but when on these we miss the afternoon's parade. Unless we are on duty we are allowed into the town
after 5 p.m. but not out of it without a permit. Everyone must be in by 9.30 and all lights out by 10.15. For this last few
nights we have been sleeping in wooden huts about 20 feet broad and 50 long. At present we have fifty in each hut, but I expect
when they are all finished there will be only thirty, although with fifty in there are heaps of room. All together there is
nearly 200 huts and to look at them from a distance it looks quite like a town. Each one is fitted with electric light and
two stoves, but we have to "kip" on the floor, although by this time a hard bed seems quite as comfortable as a
featherbed. Each man has three blankets, rolling himself in one with two on top of him I assure you he can do "even time."
Often it is quite amusing to hear the regular chorus of snoring.
men are quite a good type and not ones who have joined as a last resource, but who have left good jobs to answer the great
call. Within a few miles of Wareham, there are over 20,000 men in training, and I fancy if the Kaiser could only see them
all on the moors he would blow "full time" at once. Wareham is a very old town much the same size as Chester, and
at is a lovely country side round about. We have a Y.M.C.A. tent in the ground which is doing grand work among the troops
and give some lovely concerts, etc. We haven't any of the "Chester Heroes" down here but I can see by your long
lists each week that you have a good share in Kitchener's Army".
prolific writer, in further correspondence published in the Chester-le-Street Chronicle And District Advertiser, Charles'
described the amount of kit he had now been issued numbering amongst others boots, socks, shirts, kitbags and holdalls. Uniforms
of sort had also now been issued comprising of a red coat with white cuffs and collar in addition to blue trousers however
he expected that a khaki uniform was to be issued presently. Food had also improved and arrangements made for dining by company
but it is of interest to note his thoughts on promotion through the ranks:-
haven't risen to the rank of Colonel yet, but I'm content to remain a private. Lots of the chaps here have refused
promotion, and they can only get these soft sort of chaps to accept stripes. When a fellow has a good job to go back to he
doesn't want stripes, as he would only throw them over at the end of the war. The N.C.O.'s have a lot to stand, as
they are not allowed out of camp without a permit, and are the general runabouts for privates and everybody. Most of the chaps
here are anxious to get out and have a "pot" more than anything else. This last two days we have had a continuous
downpour, and have to stay indoors, so we have had a miserable time of it. By the outlook I'm afraid we shall all be wanted,
so if we have the pleasure of going I will try and put in a few "gooduns" for those who are willing but unable to
come with us. It is rumoured about us getting furloughs, but I don't know how far it is correct".
Furloughs or any such like were far from the mind of Major-General
Walter Rupert Kenyon-Slaney, C.B., G.O.C., 17th (Northern) Division. No doubt due to instances of drunkeness, the Major-General
issued an order under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 later in the month of November. This dictated that all Licensed
Holders in the Petty Sessional Division of Wareham shall not, until further notice, supply soldiers in uniform or plain clothes
under his command until four o'clock any day. There had indeed been cases of drunkeness throughout the ranks and even
soliciting but as regards drink, the sympathies of the population of Wareham for those "young men shivering up there"
as an article published in the Bourmouth Guardian recorded, possibly fueled the situation, as good a meaning
gesture as it was intended.
In December, a supply
of Old Pattern Lee-Enfield rifles was procured by the division to replace a myriad of Drill Purpose rifles.
With ammunition in plentiful supply, musketry courses could finally be initiated under the watchful eyes of Instructors who
had completed the Hythe Musketry Course. As regards the men, sickness and illness in general was once again prevalent in the
7th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, Private Joseph Palmer, 11240, dying of Syncope at the Wareham Military Hospital
on the 22nd of December. A married man of South Bank, Middlesbrough, he would leave a widow, Ethel, and three children to
mourn his death. Buried on the 29th of December at Wareham Cemetery, the ceremony was officiated by Temporary Chaplain, the
Reverend Thomas George Brierley, Chaplain to the 51st Infantry Brigade.
Christmas approached, some men were lucky to be granted leave home. Following the German naval bombardment of Scarborough
and Hartlepool on the 16th of December, emotions amongst some men of the battalion from the north-east of England were running
high so to speak. At Sunderland on the 19th of December, one private of the 7th Yorkshire's had become intoxicated and
in uniform, proceeded to smash the windows of a pork butchers shop and an eating house, both establishments being owned by
Germans who were naturalised British subjects. One of a number of attacks on pork butchers shops, the private was seen to
smash two plate glass windows at the eatery and one at the butchers shop causing in total £15 and 15 shillings damage.
Being no stranger to the courts and making his 61st appearance, the private was sentenced to one month in gaol awaiting judgement
by the Sunderland Quarter Session. Found guilty, he was sentenced in January to three months hard labour and discharged from
the army due to being convicted by a civil power on the 15th of January.
man who had been granted leave home was Private John Thomas Fox, 14581, a married man with one child and a native of South
Shields. Residing in premises located in the Laygate area, John had contracted pneumonia on active service and would unfortunately
die on the 23rd of December aged just 23 years. Buried at South Shields (Harton) Cemetery, his daughter, Emmeline, was just
twelve days old.
For those not fortunate to be
granted home leave and remained in camp, the local populace excelled in entertaining the men. As regards a thousand men of
the 50th Brigade, the Bournemouth Guardian dated the 2nd of January 1915 recorded that they were entertained by the Y.M.C.A.
in their new hut established in the camp at Wareham on Christmas Day. The G.O.C., Temporary Brigadier-General Charles Tom
Reay and the Officer Commanding 7th Yorks. & Lancs., Brevet-Colonel Harry Byass were both present as the men enjoyed a
programme of events comprising of a substantial tea, cigarettes as gifts for the men and the provision of crackers. Also present
were a large number of Bournemouth ladies who it was said "gave a touch of the "home" spirit to the camp,"
the evening culminating in a cinematograph presentation which was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. Events continued
in other parts of the district also, a number of the Divisional Engineers being entertained at the Shaftesbury Hall, Bournemouth,
to a veritable feast of cold roast beef, ham, mince pies, wine jellies and cakes, followed by dessert, crackers, and the all
present tobacco. A singing competition was also organised that proved to be great favourite and with prizes on offer, it appeared
that competition was fierce to say the least.
As all good things come to an end and the festive season was brought to a conclusion, the men of the division who were granted
leave, returned to their respective camps in Dorset. For some, this would be their last Christmas spent at home for years,
others, would never return. The New Year would herald even more intense training, training that would eventually weld the
men of the 17th (Northern) Division into a cohesive fighting force that would take part in most of the significant actions
fought on the Western Front during the course of the Great War. To continue this training their would be a change in command
during the following month, Major-General Kenyon-Slayney C.B. being replaced by Major-General Thomas David Pilcher C.B., an
experienced officer, who had witnessed service in both South Africa and India during the course of a lengthy military career.
Kenyon-Slayney had laid the foundations well, it was now Pilcher's turn to finish the job.
As the year of 1915 dawned, the training programme
progressed steadily with the usual drills of musketry practice and the digging of trenches, the latter, an activity that the
Battalion would become all too well accustomed to performing on its eventual arrival on the Western Front.
It was whilst the Battalion were still in camp at Wareham that Charles was either granted
or on leave when the marriage took place between himself and Miss Marjorie May Foyle Turner, the second daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. Arthur William Turner, of Wigginton, at Acaster Malbis on the 10th February 1915, the couple then establishing their
marital home at 'The Cottage,' Acaster Malbis.
the 27th May 1915, the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment departed Wareham and commenced a four day route march that
would terminate at Romsey located to the north of Southampton. Whilst at Romsey orders were received for the Battalion to
proceed to Willsworthy Camp located near Lydford, Devon, possibly to complete their musketry training on the ranges located
at this facility. These orders however were rescinded, the Battalion remaining at Romsey whilst parties were sent to Lark
Hill Camp located on Salisbury Plain to finally complete their musketry programme.
continued apace during the month of June and when final orders were received for the Battalion to prepare for mobilization
in early July they came rather unexpectedly as the 50th Infantry Brigade had initially been scheduled for Home Defence duties.
On the 5th July the War Office rescinded this order and the Brigade in Division were ordered to prepare for embarkation to
France however the exact date was not specified. Due to a move to active service being imminent, the camp was a hive of activity
as all items and kit necessary for service overseas were issued to the men. Finally at 10.30 p.m. on the night of the 13th
July 1915 the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment embarked at the port of Folkestone, strength, 30 officers and 937
Other Ranks, disembarking at Boulogne at 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the 14th July. Authors note: Battalion Transport and
Machine-Gun Sections embarked separately at Southampton crossing the Channel to Le Havre.
A Nominal Roll of officers accompanying the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire
Regiment, to France is also to be found in Wylly's History however this roll only records the names of 21 officers,
the Battalion War Diary recording that in fact 30 officers embarked for overseas service in July 1915. Using various sources
such a Medal Rolls, Medal Index Cards, Army Lists etc., I have attempted to compile a more accurate roll of officers that
embarked for overseas service with the battalion.
Ronald D'Arcy Fife (Officer Commanding)
Alfred Grahame Cartwright (Second-in-Command)
Major Wensley Barclay Hunton (Temporary)
Lieutenant Aidan James Wharton Barmby (Adjutant)
Edward Vere Slater (Temporary)
Alfred Young (Temporary)
Ronald Egerton Cotton
Loftus Edward Percival Jones (Temporary)
Lewis Wilberforce Goldsmith (Temporary) Stanley
Charles Guy Weston (Temporary)
Lawrence Vincent Clare Hawkes (Temporary)
George de Quetteville (Temporary)
Frederick Walmesley Crabtree
Matthew Reginald Steel (Temporary)
Lionel Adolf David David (Temporary)
Thomas Huffington (Temporary)
Archibald Tomlin (Temporary 2nd/Lt. & Transport Officer)
Brearley Coates (Temporary)
Henry Fisher Clarke (Temporary)
Christian Hare (Temporary)
Randal William Shuckburgh
George Dawson Preston (Temporary)
Thomas Large (Temporary)
Lancelot Geldert Hare (Temporary)
Sidney Cranswick (Temporary)
John Dickson (Hon. Lieutenant
It is of interest to note that as regards officer entries into the Theatre of War, dates
vary considerably if recorded at all on their Medal Index Cards. Charles Guy Weston's card for example, akin to many others,
has no date annotated, where as his corresponding entry in the 1914-15 Medal Roll simply states (1), i.e., the Western
Front Theatre. To complicate precise research criteria further for example, the M.I.C. entry of Second-Lieutenant Huffington
records his date of disembarkation as the 31st of July, the 1914-15 Star Medal Roll simply recording that he landed in France
during the month of July. This could be a clerical error as there is no information recorded in the Battalion War
Diary as to his arrival on after after this date. Wylly's History also records one Second-Lieutenant William
Dale Wilkinson as being one of the contingent of officers who proceeded overseas in July 1915, his M.I.C. recording an entry
as the 17th of November 1915, the 1914-15 Roll also confirming at least the month. Of the 30 officers that
sailed for France, the above Nominal Roll presents a shortfall of two officers, research indicating some possibilities as
regards to those that are 'missing' but without substantial evidence, the Roll suffice to say compiled by the Author,
is open to question. (Authors note:- No Nominal Roll included in the History Of The 50th Infantry Brigade 1914-1919).
Operations On The Western Front
On disembarkation the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, marched
to its appointed Rest Camp at Ostrohove located in the St. Martin district of Boulogne. Entrainment commenced on the 15th
at Pont-de-Briques located to the south of the town of Boulogne and it was at this location that the Battalion were joined
by their Transport and Machine-Gun Sections. With the train heading north-westwards, the 7th Yorkshire's arrived at Remilly-Wirquin
to the south of St. Omer at 5.30 p.m. but on arrival it was found that no provision had been made for the allocation of billets
for the Battalion's Signallers, Machine-Gunners, Transport and associated Headquarters Details. Suffice to say it was
quickly ascertained that in the light of the present situation the Battalion would in future have to form an advance party
so that billets were available on arrival.
by road to Arques which was reached at 2 p.m. on the afternoon of the 17th, prior to this movement provision had been made
for the allocation of billets. With the Division billeted in various locations in the vicinity, the stay at Arques was to
be of a short duration as on the 19th the 7th Yorkshire's proceeded by route of march to Steenvoorde which was reached
at 4 p.m. after what the War Diary describes as a "Long and trying march." As a precursor to a movement
to active operations the Battalion received a most distinguished visitor during the following day when they were inspected
by General Sir Hubert Plumer, Commander Second Army however his comments are unfortunately not recorded.
Familiarisation In Trench Warfare
On the 21st July the four Company Commanders of the 7th (Service) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment were sent into the trenches occupied by the 3rd Division for two nights instruction and familiarisation,
the Battalion remaining at Steenvoorde where they carried out a series of 'experiments' with smoke and gas helmets
in addition to drills and inspections.
were once again on the move when on the 23rd they proceeded in Brigade to La Clytte, south-west of Ypres, which was reached
at 1.30 a.m., the 17th (Northern) Division now coming under the command of Fifth Corps. During the night, platoons were sent
into the trenches for instruction by the units occupying the line and whilst undertaking this movement to the front, the first
casualties were sustained by the Battalion. Lieutenant D.J. Wilson was wounded whilst moving forward with a party of men and
in a separate incident Second-Lieutenant James H.F. Clarke and 8 Other Ranks were wounded and two O/R's killed. These
unfortunate men were Private Patrick Murphy, 12784, aged 24 years and now buried at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery and Private Patrick
O'Brien, 11465, commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.
the days that followed the Battalion's Bombers received instruction from units that were resting away from the front line.
On the 31st July orders were received by the 50th Infantry Brigade to proceed to the front line, the latter in this sector
occupying a point from the Vierstraat - Wytschaete Road to near Verbranden-Molen, to relieve units of the 3rd Division. Consequently
on the night of the 2nd/3rd August the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment relieved the outgoing 1st Battalion, Wiltshire
Regiment of the 7th Infantry Brigade in the front line and took up positions in the centre sub-sector.
The First Tour
The relief was completed with just one Other Rank being wounded and the remainder
of the first night in the trenches remained strangely 'quiet.' It was at about mid morning on the 3rd August however
that enemy artillery began to strafe the trenches occupied by the men of the 50th Brigade. In the support trenches "C"
Company of the 7th Yorkshire's were hit severely resulting in the deaths of Captain Loftus E.P. Jones and 3 Other Ranks
and the wounding of 17 O/R's. Shortly after this 'hate' had ceased the atmosphere returned to an eerie silence
and it was then that the enemy struck as they detonated a mine on the front occupied by the 10th (Service) Battalion, West
Yorkshire Regiment in the Q.2. Sector at St. Eloi. Temporary Lieutenant James Francis Maidlow and 4 O/R's of
"B" Company were wounded but damage to the front line system was assessed as minimal. Of those men of the Yorkshire
Regiment who had been unfortunately killed, as well as Captain Jones, the three Other Ranks can be identified as Privates
Allan McLachlan, 12009, Albert Ernest Wills, 18003, and George Moore, 14199. The Battalion War Diary records "Capt
Jones buried close to Chateau Rosenthal." Rosendal, the correct spelling of what before the War was a moated country
house until it was vitually destroyed by artillery, was at times referred to by the Army as Woodcote House or Bedford House,
the latter term for the location being adopted to describe the cemetery that now contains the bodies of both Captain Jones,
Privates Wills and Moore. Private McLachlan now lies in Voormezeele Enclosure No. 3. Formerly referred to as Princess Patricia's
Cemetery as this Battalion of the Canadian Light Infantry began the cemetery in February 1915, Albert's grave and this
cemetery is located a short distance to the south from Bedford House.
During the next few days of this their
first tour in the line, enemy artillery fire gradually decreased in intensity but owing to the topography of the landscape
and the enemy having constructed his trenches on rising ground offering a distinct advantage, sniper fire became most prevalent
in the sector. Under this threat of being 'picked off' by a virtually unseen enemy, the Battalion then commenced a
routine that comprised of the strengthening of the parapets and traverses of the trench line and the construction of new shelter
trenches. The task was however was made more difficult by the uncovering of some of the trenches former 'occupants.'
The War Diary records this rather gruesome undertaking;
"Great difficulty was experienced in digging everywhere
owing to the number of corpses which had been buried where the trenches were."
One can only imagine the
horror of seeing the pitiful remains of bodies by men new to the effects of mechanized warfare on the Western Front.
the 4th, Private Harold Ralph Coldbeck, 12786, a native of Masham, North Yorkshire, was unfortunately killed aged 21 years.
The 5th August would witness the arrival of a draft to the Battalion consisting of 70 non-commissioned men that resulted
in the strength of the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment at this juncture consisting of 26 officers
and 961 Other Ranks. It was also on this day that another O/R, Private Ernest Herbert, 14920, fell. Ernest, aged 35 years
of age and a soldier with "B" Company, is now buried at Voormezeele Enclosure No.3.
On the 8th August, yet
another man fell victim. Private John Ingham Johson, 18772. Dying of wounds, Source: Soldiers Died In The Great War, John
is now laid to rest at Voormezeele Enclosure No.3.
Daily trench routine continued until the 9th August whereupon
orders were received by the 50th Infantry Brigade to commence a 'Fire Demonstration' at 2.30 a.m. whilst an attack
was to be made on enemy positions at Hooge by the 6th Division. Orders were issued for rapid fire to be opened as the attack
commenced with the intention of causing a diversion. Enemy artillery responded to this action by shelling the communication
trenches however no casualties were sustained.
Subjected to intermittent strafes by enemy artillery along the front,
the 7th Yorkshire's were finally relieved by the 7th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment of the 51st Infantry Brigade, 17th
(Northern) Division on the 14th August. Prior to the relief, Lieutenant Frederick Walmesley Crabtree fell victim to a German
sniper whilst the line was being subjected to an artillery bombardment. Lieutenant Crabtree, a native of Todmorden and aged
20 years, now lies in Voormezeele Enclosure No.3.
camp located at Reninghelst, south of Poperinghe on the 15th, during the following day half of the Battalion received the
opportunity to bathe in hot baths located in the Brewery or to take advantage of the hot showers that had also been installed.
A welcome change of underclothes was then issued to the men and on the 16th the remainder of the Battalion also proceeded
to the Brewery to take advantage of the washing facilities provided.
Resuming a programme of training it was on the 19th
August during an exercise in bomb throwing that an unfortunate accident occured. A 'Pitcher' Bomb, either
of the type 'No.13' or 'No.14,' an early design of handgrenade with the propensity to detonate
prematurely as a tape was pulled that ignited a primitive friction fuse, exploded in the hand of Private James Cull, 11768,
killing him instantaneously. This premature detonation also wounded Second-Lieutenants Thomas Large and George Preston in
addition to two Other Ranks.
It was ascertained after a Court of Enquiry had been assembled that the bomb had been correctly
prepared for use. On the pulling of the tape, the ensuing spark from the ignition lighter bypassed the fuse to the detonator
causing the grenade to explode prematurely. Instead of the five second delay enabling the bomber to 'pitch' the grenade
forward to its target, the explosive charge had detonated with disastrous consequences.
James Thomas Cull, a native
of Port Clarence, Middlesbrough, is now buried in Reninghelst Churchyard Extension.
Return To The Trenches
Although the Battalion were supposedly at 'rest' in Army parlance, two large working parties
were formed on the 20th to assist the Royal Engineers in the vicinity of Voormezeele.
The terminology "nothing
of importance" is recorded in the pages of the War Diary that is until the 26th August when the 7th Yorkshire's
proceeded once again to the same trenches they had occupied previously to complete a relief of the 7th (Service) Battalion,
Lincolnshire Regiment, 51st Infantry Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division. On the extreme left however the line had been shortened
by three trenches, this flank then being occupied by the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, 50th Infantry Brigade.
Three companies now occupied the Fire and Support Trenches, whilst one company was held in Reserve at Battalion Headquarters.
The following day remained relatively quiet that is
until enemy artillery shelled the Fire Trenches resulting in the wounding of four men.
It was on the 28th however that
a 'message' prepared by the enemy was delivered to the Battalion by a most unusual courier. At the dug-out occupied
by Company Headquarters, an undetonated rifle grenade landed and was retrieved by Captain Ronald Cotton. Attached to the grenade
was a newspaper entitled "Gazette des Ardennes" or "Journal des pays occupes," a German
propaganda newspaper distributed in the occupied territories of France and Belgium.
This paper contained various articles
of an anti-British sentiment that were supposedly signed by Belgian citizens and also a list of 2000 recent French casualties.
Far from innocent projectiles also landed in the British trenches during the course of the day resulting in four men
being wounded by shell and 'Whizz Bang' fire, the latter term referring to the sound made by the firing of
the German 77mm field gun.
A tragic accident occured in the trenches on the 29th when Corporal Thomas Smith, 12439,
was accidentally shot by one of his comrades and died shortly afterwards. The exact circumstances surrounding this unfortunate
incident are not known but one would presume that a Court of Inquiry would have taken place recording a verdict of accidental
death. The day would also witness the death of Lance-Corporal Robert Milburn, 12043. Both men now lie Vormezeele Enclosure
As the month of August drew to a close, Major Lewis Leonard Bilton of the 17th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
(War Diary records incorrectly the 15th Battalion), joined from England for three days instruction on the 29th.
activities of underground warfare also materialized once again when on the 30th August the enemy detonated a mine
on the front held by the 6th (Service) Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment occupying a position immediately on the left of the
Yorkshire's. No damage was sustained however the resulting explosion wounded two men. On the last day of the month one
O/R of the 7th Yorkshire's added his name to the list of the wounded incurred during the two tours carried out by
The cost paid in wounded and killed had been high, but such was the price of the learning curve
of a Battalion newly arrived on the Western Front.
On entering the
trenches at Voormezeele once again in mid September, it was observed that the enemy had placed a red, white and black
flag in No Man's Land. This flag representing the German Empire proved to be too tempting a trophy to miss and Lieutenant
Randell Croft accompanied by Lance-Corporals Grieves, 12638, (recorded in Wylly's History as Griever) and
Stewart (possibly Corporal Thomas Stewart, 15706), both men of "C" Company set out to liberate the aforementioned.
On approaching the flag it was soon ascertained that the latter was a booby trap with wires attached to several bombs. On
cutting the wires the party returned to the British lines with their prize. On arrival it was found that one bomb was still
attached to the flag athough on examination it had been pierced by a bullet and deemed to be safe. On handling the device,
the bomb suddenly exploded in the hands of Lance-Corporal Anthony Grieves killing him instantaneously. Anthony, a Coalminer
of Wingate, Durham, now lies in Voormezeele Enclosure No.3.