Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Lieutenant Charles Guy Weston

Introduction
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
Shields,P
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
Acknowledgements
Dardanelles

7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
Died Monday 1st November 1915

 
Cemetery : Divisional Cemetery (Dickebusch Road), Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Westonwebsite.JPG

Son of Thomas and Annie Weston of 'Belmont,' Wetherby. Husband of Marjorie Weston (nee Turner).

Charles 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 respectively.

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 Yorkshire Regiment
7th (Service) Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment *
6th (Service) Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment

* 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:-

Non-Commissioned Officers Wanted.

To the Editor of the Yorkshire Post.

"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.

RONALD FIFE.

Wareham Camp, Wareham, Dorset, Sept. 12, 1914".

Despite 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!

"We 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.

The 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".

A 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:-

"I 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.

As 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.

One 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.               

1915

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.

On 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.

Mobilisation

Training 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.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald D'Arcy Fife (Officer Commanding)

Major Alfred Grahame Cartwright (Second-in-Command)

Major Wensley Barclay Hunton (Temporary)

Lieutenant Aidan James Wharton Barmby (Adjutant)

 

Captains

Edward Vere Slater (Temporary)

Richard Alfred Young (Temporary)

Ronald Egerton Cotton (Temporary)

Loftus Edward Percival Jones (Temporary)

Lewis Wilberforce Goldsmith (Temporary) Stanley Burnett Kay

Lieutenants

Charles Guy Weston (Temporary)

Lawrence Vincent Clare Hawkes (Temporary)

Robert George de Quetteville (Temporary)

Douglas James Wilson (Temporary)

Frederick Walmesley Crabtree (Temporary)

Second-Lieutenants

Matthew Reginald Steel (Temporary)

Lionel Adolf David David (Temporary)

Thomas Huffington (Temporary)

George Archibald Tomlin (Temporary 2nd/Lt. & Transport Officer)

Harold Brearley Coates (Temporary) 

James Henry Fisher Clarke (Temporary)

Hugh Kenneth Christian Hare (Temporary)

Randal William Shuckburgh Croft (Temporary)

George Dawson Preston (Temporary)

Thomas Large (Temporary)

Lancelot Geldert Hare (Temporary)

Sidney Cranswick (Temporary)

Isaac Alfred Sleightholm

John Dickson (Hon. Lieutenant & Quartermaster)

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.

Proceeding 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.

The Battalion 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.

In 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.
On 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.

Reninghelst

Moving into 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 No.3.

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.
The undetected 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 Battalion.
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.

September

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.

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Part Of Sheet 28, Voormezeele. Trenches Corrected To 7/9/15

Casualties in either Killed or Died Of Wounds sustained by the Battalion during the month of September were as follows:

Private Joseph Storey, 14967, 1/9/15
Lance-Corporal Anthony Grieves, 12638, 13/9/15
Private Frederick Bynam, 13260, 15/9/15
Private Leonard Linton, 3/8572, 15/9/15
Private John Barton, 11325, 17/9/15
Private Frederick Copeland, 16273, 19/9/15
Private John Gibson, 21149, 28/9/15
Private John Thomas Nash, 12314, 30/9/15

Private Edward Kenefec, 11328, 30/9/15 (Authors note:- Recorded as killed in action by the C.W.G.C. on the 3rd of October. An analysis of various documents suggests that he may have been killed or mortally wounded on the 30th of September, the War Diary recording :- "Five casualties were sustained, one man (A Coy) killed").

All the above men are now buried at Voormezeele Enclosure No.3

Lance-Corporal William R. Wenden, 12528, K.I.A. 11/9/15, Menin Gate Memorial
Private Peter Finnigan, 21131, Alias Peter Martin, D.O.W'S, 20/9/15, Le Treport Miltary Cemetery
Private Robert Longstaff, 15065, D.O.W'S, 29/9/15, Le Treport Military Cemetery

October

Returning to the front line positions at Voormezeele, three new officers to the Battalion were about to experience trench warfare on the Western Front; Second-Lieutenant Henry Richard Bellinger, commissioned from the ranks of the Army Service Corps, and Second-Lieutenants John Driscoll and Wilfred Evers-Swindell, both commissioned from the ranks of the 13th Hussars.
The first day of the month had been relatively quiet but on the second a barrage of trench mortars was fired at Square Wood during the course of the night. It was imperative that if called upon to provide artillery support, adequate telephonic communication to the supporting batteries of the Royal Field Artillery be put in place. As a consequence of this need for a more rapid response, on the 3rd, direct lines were laid from two posts to "D" and "A" Batteries, 79th Brigade, R.F.A, 17th (Northern) Divisional Artillery.
Between the hours of 6.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. on the 4th October the 7th Yorkshire's were relieved in the front line by the 6th (Service) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, 43rd Infantry Brigade, 14th (Light) Division, the latter battalion having been relieved in the line at Hooge on the 3rd. With the Battalion completing this relief without incident they then proceeded to hutments located at Reninghelst used by units resting from the line.
At 6 p.m. on the evening of the 5th the Battalion set forth once again and by route of march they journeyed via Poperinghe and Abeele to Steenvoorde where they proceeded to billet in farms located between Godewaersvelde and Steenvoorde, the same billets that they had occupied in mid July.
The following day the men were allowed a day of rest however this was to be a precursor to the commencement of a rigorous traing programme.
On the 7th October the Battalion were inspected by Colonel Fife and his second-in-command Major Cartwright after which a practice attack was conducted across open ground. Specialist training was also the order of the day when a party of officers and men were sent during the afternoon to the Grenade School located at Terdeghem, west of Steenvoorde.
This training continued apace with an emphasis being placed on bombing skills and the systematic bombing of a special point. As well as this form of specialist training, a general training regime continued at Steenvoorde with squads being dispatched to the Grenade School as well as a party of officers being sent to the Machine-Gun School located at Wisques to the west of St. Omer. With the 50th Infantry Brigade begining to perfect their skills, General Sir Hubert Plumer, always keen to visit northern units of the Army, dropped by to cast his watchful eyes over the proceedings as the Brigade performed a practice attack.

Between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. on the 21st October the journey back towards the Ypres Salient commenced by the constituent units of the Division. Marching via Abeele and Poperinghe
, the War Diary records that the Battalion went into hutments 2 miles east of the latter, Wylly's History stating that these billets were located at Busseboom. The latter describes the camp at this stage of the War as;

"A detestable camp of intolerable filth, where a fetid and evil-coloured liquid oozed up from the ground which Belgian labour had surfeited with manure."

No sooner had the men settled themselves as best they could in this squalid environment, a party of officers assembled that were transported by motor-bus to Hooge with the purpose of visiting the trenches held by the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division.
It was during the following day however no time is stipulated in the pages of the War Diary, that the 7th Yorkshire's relieved the Lincolns in the left of the line at Hooge Stables astride the Ypres - Menin Road. Left Flank, Trench "C" 3, Right Flank located in Sanctuary Wood, Trench "C" 1 respectively.
The Battalion were therefore disposed as follows:

"D" Company   Left Flank
"B" Company   Right Flank
"A" Company   Support
"C" Company   Reserve at Kruisstraat.


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Part Of Sheet 28, Hooge. Trenches Corrected To 23/12/15

The trenches that the 50th Infantry Brigade now occupied at Hooge had been subjected to constant artillery fire since July 1915 resulting in the woods and the landscape being ravaged by shell fire. During the latter month the British 175th Tunnelling Company had detonated the largest mine to date on the Western Front in support of the actions of the 3rd Division resulting in a crater measuring 120 feet in width. This crater became the grave for hundreds of men and the stench of putrefying bodies became synonymous with units that occupied this sector of the line. Moreover, south of the Menin Road between trenches "C" 1 and "C" 3 there existed a large gap of about 200 feet as trench "C" 2 could not be reconstructed due to the attentions of enemy artillery, hence, the positions adopted by the 7th Yorkshire's. The War Diary describes this first tour in the line at Hooge;

"Quiet time in trenches. Weather bad & trenches very wet; much work necessary to keep them habitable. Enemy very busy improving his trenches and defences; sounds of a steam engine heard several times."

If it was any consolation to the men of the 17th (Northern) Division, the enemy in the opposing line were enduring the same conditions as his feverish actions in attempting to improve his line no doubt confirmed.
On the 26th October, Lieutenant-Colonel Fife  proceeded to Poperinghe to command a composite Company formed from men of the units that constituted the Division that had been assembled for a visit by His Majesty the King. To the rear, one Private, Rudolph A. Jackson, 14328, succumbed to wounds received at one of the Base Hospitals located at Etaples. Rudolph, a native of Birkenshaw near Bradford, aged 28 years, is now buried at Etaples Military Cemetery near Boulogne.
A relief was commenced on the 28th October by the 7th Battalion, East Yorkshire's, whereupon the Battalion marched back to Ypres. Two companies as well as battalion Headquarters found secure in dug-outs and tunnels located in the Ramparts forming part of Vauban's seventeenth century ring of defences around the town, these being excavated into to provide shelter from enemy artillery. The remaining two companies of the Yorkshire's proceeded into rest billets located near the Transport Lines at Ouderdom, south-east of Poperinghe. One man however on this day succumbed to wounds received previously. Private John Edward Burn, 18782, of Murton, County Durham and aged 28 years, evacuated to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations located at Lijssenthoek, now lies buried in the cemetery located close by.
Two nights later, one of the companies located at Ouderdom proceeded in to the environs of the town to be quartered in cellars. Whilst away from the line however the Battalion provided working parties every night. Whilst in command of one in the rear of the trenches at Hooge, Lieutenant Charles Guy Weston, was unfortunately killed.

Monday, 1st November, 1915: The Death Of Lieutenant Charles Guy Weston

The exact circumstances as regards the death of Lieutenant Weston were unknown to the Author, that is, until the latter was kindly contacted by Mr. Ed Crutchley of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 2017. It transpired, via e-mail, that Mr. Crutchley's great uncle was one Ronald Egerton Cotton, a Captain serving with the 7th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment at the period of Charles Guy Weston's death. Captain Cotton kept a personal diary for the entire war whilst serving with both the 7th Battalion and later with 10th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers as a Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. Amounting to several volumes, page 22 of one of the personal diaries records:-

"1/11/15   Weston killed on a working party at night behind the trenches at HOOGE by a stray bullet."

On the 4th November the first of two telegrams were received at 'Belmont,' Wetherby, the family home, recording the death of Charles on Tuesday 2nd November. On the 12th, a second telegram arrived confirming the true date of death.

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Telegram Dated 12th November, 1915

In the days that followed, a request was received by Cox's Shipping Agency Limited that any personal effects were to be forwarded to Mrs. C.G. Weston at Acaster Malbis. Consequently on the 2nd December, notification was received from the Shipping Agency that a Field Kit, Number Br. 2916 had been despatched, however no information as to the place of burial had yet been supplied to his family.
It was on the 14th January 1916 that a letter was received by the Weston family from the Military Secretary stating that Army Headquarters in the Field declared that Charles had been buried in a location off the Vlamertinghe - Ypres Road to the west of the latter town, a trench map location recorded in the communique as Sheet 28, H.12.c.9.4.

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Extract Of Sheet 28, Square H12.

From the map reference provided in the letter to the family dated January 1916, it is quite clear that the location of the burial site of Lieutenant Weston is some distance to the east of the Divisional Cemetery. An examination of what is referred to in modern terminology as a Body Density Map, in this case one dated 1922, indicates that the only cemeteries in existence in the immediate vicinity at this period were Divisional Cemetery, to the north of the latter, Railway Chateau Cemetery, and a location annotated as a burial site just to the east of the Asylum and no longer in situ, the graves either being concentrated or simply lost. Of course it may be just a question that the reference given to the family was simply inaccurate however the cemetery details of both Divisional and Railway Chateau cemeteries record no burials concentrated into the latter two burial grounds. Furthermore, it would appear that there was some confusion regarding the fact that if Charles had a known burial place in the first instance, one would presume that this factor arose from some inaccuracies in the records of the then Imperial War Graves Commission formed in 1917.
It was in conversation with Mr. Edward Nicholl, the web architect of The Yorkshire Regiment, - First World War Remembrance website, that this factor was brought to the Authors attention. Edward kindly shared a selection of photographs that he had taken in 2007 of the Menin Gate and the memorial panels commemorating the fallen of the Yorkshire Regiment. Clearly inscribed on one of the panels remembering the officers of the Regiment is Lieutenant C.G. Weston.
For whatever reason or scenario, Charles name was inscribed on the memorial. It may have been just a simple clerical error but with the Commission dealing with over a million dead either identified or registered as missing, it is not an uncommon phenomenon to find some inaccuracies as regards the names of men commemorated on the many memorials to the missing located on the Western Front.
The Author would like to take this opportunity to express his gratitude to Edward for kindly sharing his vast knowledge of the men of the Yorkshire Regiment and I wish him continued success with his excellent website.

The Yorkshire Regiment, - First World War Remembrance

Divisional Cemetery, Dickebusch Road, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Lieutenant Charles Guy Weston now lies buried in this cemetery, grave reference, J.10. It is unclear if Marjorie his grieving widow ever re-married but one can surmise that after Charles untimely death she went to reside with her parents for a time at the family residence now located in Dawlish, Devon, as this is the address recorded for the forwarding of Charles medals. That is possibly one scenario, or, were the memories too painful at the loss of a dear husband that she couldn't bear to receive them?

Divisional Cemetery was first used for burials in April 1915 by Commonwealth units, 23 men of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, 13th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division, now lying in a collective grave in Row "C," victims of an enemy gas attack launched on the 5th May 1915 at Hill 60. Burials continued in the cemetery until May 1916, the latter being used for burials of the fallen once again in July 1917 as the Battle of Third Ypres commenced. Divisional Cemetery now contains 283 fallen men of the Commonwealth.

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