La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-Saint-Vaast, Pas-de-Calais, France
Son of William and Rose Ann Metcalfe of River Cottage, Wetherby.
The Early Years
John Claude Metcalfe was born on the 4th October 1889 at Halifax to parents William, occupation,
a Blacksmith, and Rose Ann Metcalfe (nee Ward). John was the second child of this union of marriage, Jenny Metcalfe his sister,
being born at Colne, Lancashire, in 1887. The 1891 Census details record that at this juncture the family were residing in
premises located at Number 2, Gladstone View, Southowram.
During the intervening years and after relocating to Horsforth near Leeds, a second son was born, Herbert, in 1897,
the family now residing at premises located in Back Lane, Horsforth, a terrace of substantial stone built houses. The 1901
Census records that at this period William was still employed as a Blacksmith (Own Account), and that Jenny, only aged 13
years, had found employment as a Textile Dyer no doubt in one of a number of mills situated in the locality.
An analysis of the Electoral Registers for West Yorkshire indicate that the Metcalfe family
relocated to Wetherby in the year 1906 originally residing in premises located at Kirk Deighton and then in North Street.
By the following year, the family had moved to 'River Cottage,' a quaint house located on the bend of the River Wharfe
next to the modern day Tennis and Squash Courts at the foot of Scott Lane.
Up on moving to the flourishing Yorkshire market town of Wetherby, for John it was an opportunity
to display his sporting prowess. Joining the Wetherby Junior Football Club as a Left Half-Back, the Secretary being one Joseph
Henry Clay, a Newspaper Reporter and resident of Victoria Street, the team played their games on land owned by George Gunter
at Heuthwaite, off Walton Road. It is of interest to note the team as it was circa 1906-07, many of the young men ultimately
serving in the Great War:-
Mellor (Army Cyclist Corps, 62nd Division)
Bertie Arthur Wood (Arthur Wood, Captain & Goalkeeper, 5th West Yorkshire's?)
John Claude Metcalfe (Left Half-Back, 18th West Yorkshire's K.I.A.)
John Edwin Skirrow (Royal Navy)
Joseph Wiggins (9th West Yorkshire's K.I.A.)
William Wharldall (Training Reserve & West Yorkshire's)
George Rothwell Ellis (9th West Yorkshire's)
Tomlinson (5th Lincolns)
Attracting the affections of a young lady, John married one Edith Wood aged 20 years, the daughter
of George Wood, a Tanner of Victoria Street, Wetherby, on November 12th 1910 at Saint James Parish Church. Now employed as
a Wood Turner at Westerman's Wood Mill, tragically, Edith died just a few months after their marriage, the cause of death
unknown at present. John returned to reside with his parents at 'River Cottage' to continue his employment at the
Mill no doubt with a heavy heart.
As is so often the case, service documents
relating to John's military service unfortunately did not survive the bombing of the archives located in London during
the Second World War. Amongst Medal Rolls and other documents however, an entry regarding his military service is to be found
recorded in the pages of the 'De Ruvigny's Roll Of Honour.'
The aforementioned entry in 'De Ruvigny' states that John enlisted into the
ranks of the Yorkshire Hussars at York on the 23rd September 1915, his enlistment also being corroberated into this unit in
a later newspaper article dated September 1917. It appears that John may have enlisted as part of a 'recruitment drive'
conducted by the Hussars in the north-east of England that commenced on or about September 1915 for what was described in
numerous newspaper articles as for "a limited number of vacancies." Albeit a later newspaper article, the
Yorkshire Post dated the 12th of October 1915 records attempts to recruit men for the unit from Leeds:-
"Sir, - Will you kindly grant me a little space in
your valuable paper to appeal to the young men of Leeds who are eligible to serve their King and country?
There are a limited number of vacancies in the Yorkshire Hussars (Yeomanry) and any man
who wishes to join this regiment has now the opportunity. The 3rd-1st Yorkshire Hussars are stationed at Harrogate and billeted.
As recruiting for cavalry has been suspended for some time past this is an opportunity for those who have been hanging back
to join a mounted unit. Applicants must be 19 or more years of age, and 5ft. 3in. or more in stocking feet.
I have been instructed to visit Leeds to endeavour to obtain recruits for the Yorkshire
Hussars, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. If intending recruits will apply to me, personally or by letter, at the address
given below, I will be glad to arrange for railway warrants to be furnished them for the journey to York to attend medical
examination, and enlistment if passed fit."
The letter was signed by one Private H. Coward of Hartwell Road, Queens Road, Leeds. Private Henry Coward, 2711,
had himself enlisted at York in October 1914. A Clerk with the Leeds Corporation, Henry was recruiting on behalf of the 3/1st
Yorkshire Hussars, a third line unit of the Regiment that had been formed in early 1915.
The Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princess Of Wales's Own)
Due to John's eventual enlistment into the Yorkshire Hussars,
I now deem it worthy to record a brief history of the Regiment in regards to its service up until May 1916 both at home and
abroad. With origins dating back to the 1790's and with Headquarters located at Tower Street, York, the Yorkshire Hussars
Yeomanry were formed upon the establishment of the Territorial Force in 1908. Placed under the command and control of the
West and North Ridings of Yorkshire County Associations, the Hussars were stationed throughout the North and West Ridings
of Yorkshire as follows:-
"B" Squadron York
"C" Squadron Knaresborough
(N.B. Drill Stations Located Throughout The
Various Squadron Areas)
Upon the outbreak
of the war and akin to many men serving in the T.F. Infantry Units, a large proportion volunteered for overseas service and
signed the "Imperial and General Service Obligation." In addition to those men already serving in the ranks
who volunteered, a vigorous recruitment campaign was also conducted by Lord Helmsley M.P. that in addition to bringing the
Hussars up to strength, also resulted in the formation of the Second Line unit. As per the terms of enlistment into the Territorial
Force, a man was not compelled to serve outside the United Kingdom however if he chose to sign the "Obligation,"
Army Form E 624, the latter stated his intentions:-
"AGREEMENT to be made by an officer or man of the Territorial Force to subject himself to liability to serve
any place otside the United Kingdom in the event of National emergency."
In due course divided into a First Line and Second Line, the 1/1st and 2/1st Yorkshire Hussars
respectively, recruitment for the Second Line (Home Service) to act as a reserve to the First Line (Foreign Service) moved
apace. In late October, those who had volunteered for Foreign Service assembled at Malton after being encamped at Place Newton
in the Yorkshire Wolds since mid September. On the 21st of October, the Regiment numbering about 850 men proceeded southwards
to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. (Source:- Bedfordshire Times And Independant dated 23rd October 1914). With the Home Service
Regiment encamped on the Yorkshire coast, appeals were made in the local press in particular for warm clothing for the Foreign
Service Regiment by Marjorie Helmsley as well as an appeal being launched to raise monies for a machine-gun mounted on an
armoured car. As the men settled into their quarters for the winter, expectations were high that the Regiment were soon to
be posted overseas however intimation was published also in the press that the Home Service Regiment would be billeted in
the spa town of Harrogate for the winter months.
On a note of local interest,
Major George Richard Lane-Fox of Bramham Park also appealed for more equipment to furnish the Yorkshire Hussars in the form
of Luggage Carts. Writing a letter to the "Yorkshire Post," his request received many offers and one was subsequently
generously presented to "A" Squadron by Mrs. Gascgoine of Lotherton Hall. (Source:- Yorkshire Post dated the 7th
of November 1914).
As the Foreign Service
unit proceeded into billets at Harlow, Hertfordshire, the Home Reserve did not proceed to Harrogate but took up winter quarters
at Scarborough. During the German naval bombardment of the town on the 16th of December, billets and stables it would appear
were deliberately targeted begging the question that there may have been some spies or a spy at large furnishing the enemy
It was during the month
of December that the Foreign Service unit under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel, the Earl of Feversham, received orders
to separate, each Squadron being detailed to be employed as Divisional Cavalry. As a consequence, "B" Squadron were
posted to the North Midland Division, later redesignated the 46th (North Midland) Division, "C" Squadron to the
West Riding Division (49th (West Riding) Division), and "A" Squadron and Headquarters to the Northumbrian Division
(50th (Northumbrian) Division) respectively.
February, the Home Reserve of the Yorkshire Hussars, Officer Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Wilfred Stanyforth T.D.,
arrived in Harrogate from Scarborough and almost immediately after their arrival they commenced training upon the town's
Stray. Placed under orders of the 2/1st Yorkshire Mounted Brigade, Brevet Colonel Walter Charles Smithson D.S.O. commanding,
concerts by the Regimental Band were performed regularly at the Kursall (The Royal Hall) under the direction of their
Bandmaster, Samuel Kramer Suckley, a resident of Harrogate and a Professor of Music.
The First Squadron Departs For Service Overseas
"B" Squadron was the first to
depart for overseas service on the 27th of February 1915 under the command of Major William Gardiner Eley. Entraining at Harlow
in two trains, the Squadron embarked at Southampton at 5 p.m. in the evening and disembarked at Le Havre at 9 a.m. on the
following morning. Amongst their number was one Private Reginald Herbert Stott, 2217, of Harlow Hill, Harrogate. A prolific
writer of letters to the local press, the Harrogate Herald dated the 24th of March 1915 records his initial experiences possibly
penned when the Hussars were located to the east of Hazebrouck.
"Rats And Roaring Guns."
"Dear Mother,- I received your letter and parcel this dinner-time; thanks very much. We have made a big
hole in the cake by now. We are all right for food. The first place we were at we could buy coffee and eggs, 1 1/2d. each,
but since we have moved on, if we have no bread we have always biscuits and jam and cheese. There is not much doing
here; we sleep in a barn on straw. They are very poor farm buildings, no drains or anything. The cows and horses are alright,
but a very poor sample of pigs. Since I began to write to you we have moved on again. This is a rum place. It is a farm and
belongs to two old women. They are all we have seen, but we are beginning to understand people better. We are not far from
where there has been such terrible firing going on this last two or three days. What with the big guns roaring and the rifles
snapping, and the rats running in the straw, it was impossible to sleep. Our sergeant went up the road this morning, and a
big shell came over; it made him hurry up. General French has been and inspected us. Billy Bruce is still with me (Authors
note: William Sinclair Bruce of Chatsworth Place, Harrogate) and had a letter from M - and some cigs and a parcel from
Harold Towers. How is Atkinson and all my Harrogate friends getting on? Where is Alex Stott now? Don't be long before
P.S. Please send me a Harrogate paper as I like to
see what's going on."
"C" & "A" Squadrons Depart For Active Service
On the 17th of March, both "C" and "A" Foreign Service Squadrons of the
Yorkshire Hussars still remaining at home held a Regimental Sports Day by kind permission of Lieutenant-Colonel, the Earl
of Feversham, on the cricket field at Harlow. With numerous sports organised by Major Charles Lionel Ward-Jackson, Lieutenant
Henry Slingsby and Lieutenant Cecil Geoffrey Foster. (Source: Leeds Mercury dated the 19th of March 1915, officers full names
added by Author). As a large and "fashionable company assembled," the events consisted of amongst others,
a 100 yards scratch race, hurdles, high and long jumps and a one mile flat race. As the day proved to be a great success,
in little over a month, "C" Squadron made final preparations for service overseas to be attached as Divisional Cavalry
to the 1st West Riding (Territorial) Division.
was on the 15th of April that "C" Squadron entrained at Harlow for Southampton under the command of Major Edward
York of Hutton Hall, Long Marston. The journey southwards however was not without incident as two of their horses were injured
during the journey. As the men and their charges prepared for embarkation, they would sail in two parties, the larger embarking
on S.S. Rosette, the other, comprising of 27 men under the command of Second-Lieutenant Henry Edward Thornton Wilkinson,
onboard the S.S. Golden Eagle. Arriving at Le Havre at 10.30 a.m. on the following morning, "C" Squadron
then entrained and departed the port at 10.30 p.m. with rations for four days. Detraining at Merville to the west of Estaires
at 9.30 p.m. on the evening of the 17th, Squadron Headquarters were then established just to the north of the latter in the
vicinity of the Meteren Becque.
the Squadron was Trooper George William Carrick of Nydd Vale Terrace, Harrogate. Enlisting in September 1914, his
father George Henry would also serve in the war. Unfortunately, George Henry Carrick would be killed on the 4th of March 1917
near Bouchavesnes, Somme, whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. George William himself would be
wounded near Ypres in 1915 and upon recuperation he would then serve with Royal Gloucestershire Hussars in Egypt and survive
On the 4th of April at Harlow,
orders were received for "A" Squadron, Headquarters and the Machine Gun Section to make preparations for overseas
service with the Northumbrian Division. Departing Harlow in two trains, all units arrived at Southampton Docks on the afternoon
of the 17th of April and embarked on the S.S. African Prince and the S.S. Courtfield respectively. With
"A" Squadron under the command of Major George Robert Lane Fox of Bramham Park, disembarkation at Le Havre took
place at 8.30 a.m. on the morning of the 18th of April whereupon they entrained in the early hours of the 19th for Hazebrouck.
Operating under the command of the 3rd Cavalry
Division, the Squadron would witness service during Second Ypres and during the days that followed, the Hussars would suffer
their first casualties when on the 24th of May whilst in positions in the G.H.Q. Line south of the Menin Road, two
men were killed and one wounded. On the following day, orders were received for the latter to head at once to Vlamertinghe
however is was difficult to extricate the men in the hours of daylight and as a consequence and under heavy shell fire, three
men were killed and three men and one officer wounded, Major Lane Fox. Under the conditions, it is a sad fact and a testimony
to the nature of the fighting, that all these men killed are now commemorated on the Menin Gate, their bodies being lost or
With Major Lane Fox having
been "Wounded in the shoulder," (Source: War Diary T.N.A. WO95/2871/1), various northern newspaper articles
actually refer to him as having been wounded in the hand. Evacuated to hospital, an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post
dated the 27th of May stated that in a letter sent home to allay rumours, the Major reported that he had received "a
slight scratch to the shoulder." The wound however was more serious and had in fact incapacitated the Majors right
arm and as a consequence, complete rest was ordered by his Doctors believing that a piece of shrapnel still remained in situ
in the shoulder.
During 'Second Ypres,'
the Germans were the first nation who had employed gas as a weapon of war with horrific consequences. Trooper George Watmough
Carver, 2363, and a native of Newall with Clifton near Otley, described his experiences in a letter to a friend in Leeds,
an extract of which was published in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated the 31st of May 1915:-
YORKSHIREMEN'S EXPERIENCES AT THE FRONT.
HUSSARS IN THE TRENCHES. THE CONTENTS OF A SOLDIER'S PACK.
"The Yorkshire Hussars, made up of troopers from all parts of the West Riding, took
part in severe fighting in France on Whit-Sunday and Monday. Trooper George Carver, of "A" Squadron, writing to
one of his friends in Leeds, last Thursday, thus describes his experiences:
day broke on Monday, the battle started. First they gave us gas, and this knocked a few over, but we were well protected with
respirators, and suffered very little. Then the heavy artillery started, and for 20 hours, there was an average of 60 shells
to the minute. The noise was deafening, with the roar of the heavy guns, the sharper cracks of the lighter ones, the whistle
of shrapnel, the rattle of maxims, and crackle of rifle fire. Our men advanced in the open as steadily as though going on
parade. I shall never forget the bravery of some of the cavalry regiments. They put new heart into us. The Germans swarmed
towards our lines, and must have lost terribly, as our heavy batteries seemed to have their range to a yard, and played havoc
amongst them. Their advance was checked, and our men counter-attacked with success. The day was clear and hot; the cry was
continually 'water, water,' and, as one of our thirsty ones said, 'I never knew before that water was such a good
I never had a bite from 6 p.m. Sunday to 6 Monday night,
except a bit of chocolate and water, and Kipling's words in 'Gunga Din' come home to me very forcibly. We moved
out of the trenches on Tuesday morning, ragged, dirty, and unshaven, but still cheerful, and after having a bath, a change,
and a night's sleep, felt more like ourselves again."
As the three Squadrons of the Yorkshire Hussars were on operations in France and Flanders, at home, a meeting of
the West Riding of Yorkshire County Association had been convened in late April to discuss the strength of the West Riding
Territorial Forces. With the First Line Infantry Division, the 1/1st West Riding (Territorial) Division now in France, wheels
had now been set in motion to form a Second Line Force, namely the 2/2nd West Riding Division, and a Third Line to replace
wastage in both the first and the second lines. In order to complete the establishment of the second and third lines, over
300 officers and 11,000 men were required immediately and in addition to this, it was estimated that a further 2000 men would
have to be recruited each month to keep both divisions up to strength. Recruitment from the period January - April into a
variety of units numbered 7306, the vast majority of men enlisting into the ranks of the Army Service Corps.
Present at the meeting was Colonel Stanyforth, who, in relation
to the Yorkshire Hussars, remarked that concerning their Third Line, the latter was indeed over strength and that he believed
the same phenomenon applied to other regiments. Moving forward to September/October 1915, this therefore begs an answer to
the question as to why the Third Line of the Yorkshire Hussars still continued to recruit men. The reasons as to this may
lie in numerous factors; 'natural wastage' i.e. 'Time Expired Men,' the latter who had reached the end of
their service obligation and did not re-engage and men transferred to both the Second and First Lines and those deemed "unfit
for military service."
Effect Of The Group System
the 2/1st Yorkshire Hussars proceeded to Snainton located to the west of Scarborough in June, the 3/1st remained at Harrogate
performing recruitment duties, entertaining the wounded and the forming of parties to attend military funerals. In late 1915,
the 2/1st Mounted Brigade to which the 2/1st Yorkshire Hussars were affiliated, moved to the east coast and the Beverley area.
The Leeds Mercury dated the 1st of February
1916, reported a meeting of the West Riding of Yorkshire Territorial Force Association that was held the day previously at
York. The initial agenda praised the actions of their First Line Infantry Division, the 49th (West Riding) Division, for distinguished
conduct in the field and 'maintaining the 'honour' of the West Riding. After complimentary comments were read
out and motions carried, the Association then turned its attentions to the discussion of the effect of the 'Group System'
or 'Derby Scheme.'
The Earl of Scarborough, Chairman of the Association,
stated that " the effect of the group system would be to systematise recruiting and do away with the haphazard method
whereby some units were filled to overflowing, and some had been starved." With the introduction of the Military
Service Act looming, it was impossible to speculate prospective numbers of recruits under the 'Group Scheme' until
Local Tribunals had completed their work in deciding who was eligible for military service or who was designated as a reserved
occupation. This, in the opinion of the Association, rendered figures of potential recruits under the 'Scheme,' "unreliable."
Furthermore, it was the opinion of the Association that "the effect of suspending new formations would be salutary,
as the Territorial third lines and reserves would now be rapidly filled up." Of course, this was necessary to provide
the Territorial forces already serving overseas with drafts to remain at full strength and this had been a pressing concern
for some period of time.
It was a point of fact that nearly 400 had been
granted commissions since the last meeting of the West Riding Association and in the 49th Division alone, nearly 200 non-commissioned
officers and men had been recommended for promotion and Lieutenancies. The vast majority of these men had been selected for
good services rendered 'in the field' and nearly all, with just a few exceptions, had been 'gazetted.' In
the Second Line, the now designated 62nd (West Riding) Division and the Third Line and Officer Training Corps, a further 228
ranks had also been promoted but it was no doubt of immediate importance, that the First Line be bolstered by a number of
drafts to replace those commissioned, killed or wounded.
Trooper John Claude Metcalfe:- Drafted To The 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
It was in May 1916 whilst located at Gouy-en-Ternois,
south-east of Saint-Pol, that all three Squadrons of the Yorkshire Hussars were reunited in the field. Assigned as Corps Cavalry
to 17th Corps under the command of Major (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Walter Pepys, the Yorkshire Hussars would be assimilated
by Army Order into the 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment in August 1917 and perform good service in the field
for the remainder of the war.
At home and
in early 1916, there appears to be a period whereupon men from both the Second and Third Lines of the Yorkshire Hussars were
drafted for service overseas. It is impossible to determine with any degree of accuracy however the initial movements of John,
but if the record in the pages of De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour is accurate, the latter states that he was transferred
to the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment in March 1916. Possiby posted to one of the 3rd Line Battalions of the Regiment,
De Ruvigny's then states that he was posted to the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment in the following
June. An analysis therefore of the Battalion War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/2794/1), indicates the drafts to the battalion and some
of their origins:-
3rd June: Vignacourt
Second-Lieutenant Joseph Bell and 94 Other Ranks (No Source Of Origin)
21st June: Puchevillers 178 Other Ranks (Source: 1st Garrison Battalion, West Yorkshire's From
24th June: Puchevillers 34 Other Ranks (No Source Of
Origin But Disembarked At Le Havre)
26th June: Puchevillers 25
Other Ranks (No Exact Source But Most Of Men From 3rd Line)
The strength of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's on the 26th June 1916 is recorded as 940 men
of all ranks. It is no coincidence that the strength of the battalion was bolstered as the division were about to take part
in the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. Although in support to the attacks of both the 32nd and the 36th (Ulster) Division,
the battalion would suffer numerous casualties even though they were not directly involved in the attack. It is doubtful that
John took part in the attack due to his late arrival and his lack of training as regards to the plan of battle therefore for
a more detailed narrative of events of the 1st July 1916, the reader may wish to refer to the commemoration of Ernest Walker:-
Private Ernest Walker
The Opening Day Of The Somme Offensive: The Aftermath
1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Ernest Wood C.M.G., had gone into action
on the 1st July with a fighting strength of 25 officers and 725 Other Ranks, a detachment of remaining officers and about
215 men under the command of Captain Donald Paly MacKay being sent to Bouzincourt to replace losses. The War Diary records
that during the 1st July, the battalion suffered 3 officers wounded (Second-Lieutenants Bernard Ernest Ablitt, Bernard Edwin
Brown and Reginald Frankland White) and in Other Ranks, 5 were killed and 53 wounded. An analysis of the Commonwealth War
Graves Commission database now concludes that 12 men were actually killed on this date. Numbering amongst the wounded was
one Private Fred Barton, 1451, of the Farm Cottages, Stockeld Park, who received a gun shot wound to his right shoulder and
Harry Skelton, 1424, of Bank Street, nature of wounds received unknown.
(Authors note: The battalion were not effectively relieved until the afternoon of the 3rd July and therefore during
the 1st/2nd July, to establish the exact dates for casualties proves to be problematic. Primarily, this is due to the actions
of a small party under the command of Colonel Wood that had proceeded to the Schwaben Redoubt on the night of the
1st/2nd to ascertain the situation of the 36th (Ulster) Division. No doubt as a result of this operation, Major Frederick
Charles Thompson was posted as missing, Lieutenant and Adjutant Rowland Telford Casebourne killed, dates of death recorded
as the 2nd July. During the course of this day also, both Lieutenant James Leslie Jameson M.C. and Second-Lieutenant
Arthur Basil Lee were reported as wounded ( both officers subsequently recorded by C.W.G.C. as died on the 2nd July and now
commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial). In addition to the deaths of these officers, Second-Lieutenants Robert Edward Hopper,
Andrew Daniel Clubb and Wilfrid Dresser? were wounded. In Other Ranks, the War Diary records that 3 men were killed and 50
wounded. Once again an analysis of the Commonwealth War Graves database now records that four men were either killed or died
of wounds on this day.
In the days following the
attack, the battalion furnished carrying and burial parties, Colonel Wood departing the battalion on the 3rd suffering from
shell shock, command now devolving on Major Hugh Delabere Bousfield D.S.O. After a further 5 O/R's were wounded on the
latter date, the battalion marched to billets located in Martinsart and after providing further parties for the burial of
the dead, orders were received to proceed to Hedauville, south-west of Forceville, at 4.30 p.m. on the afternoon of the 5th.
Despite being shelled whilst departing the village, no casualties were sustained, Second-Lieutenant Joseph Bell? and William
Pallister remaining behind in their appointed roles as Town Major of Martinsart and officer in charge of the Divisional Dump
The Leipzig Salient (Granatloch)
The 1/5th West Yorkshire's now set about a
programme reorganisation and training but the respite from the trenches was to be of a short duration as on the 6th, Major
Bousfield accompanied by Captain Pierce Mandeville and the now Adjutant, Walter Hanson Freeman, made a reconnaissance of trenches
to the north of Thiepval "with a view to attack." As a consequence of these orders, the battalion now moved
from Hedauville at 10 a.m. on the morning of the 7th to Martinsart Wood and here they remained in this position until the
evening. Orders then stipulated that they were to take over positions in the Authuille Defences from the 25th Division,
these positions being reached in driving rain by 1 a.m. on the morning of the 8th. About one hour later, they were then ordered
up into the line to support two companies of the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 25th
Division, the remaining companies of the Worcester's being withdrawn from the line during the mid morning.
There was now about to commence a long association with one key feature of
the Thiepval battlefield by the 49th (West Riding) Division. Referred to by the German Army as the Granatloch, the
British, the Leipzig Salient, this position, encompassing a quarry, had been gained at a hard cost by the 97th Infantry
Brigade, 32nd Division, on the 1st July. One of just a few tentative gains established in the German trench system at Thiepval,
the position was exposed and vulnerable to counter-attacks. After numerous attempts to expand the position, it was on the
7th July that both the 1st and 3rd Battalion's of the Wiltshire Regiment managed to exploit a footing gained in the enemy's
front line position in the Salient, the Hindenburg Stellung, this being duly consolidated but at a severe
cost to both battalion's. The enemy were determined to take the position back and push out the defenders of the Granatloch
at all costs, the position itself and it's environs, becoming a charnel house for both attacker and defender alike.
The Leipzig Salient itself, in part,
was located on a reverse slope, not directly visible from the west and the British front line positions of the 1st July. The
southern aspect however covered all approaches from the south, west and east and offered excellent fields of fire. Some distance
to the east of the position and situated on high ground to the north of Ovillers was the German position known as the Nordwerk.
This dominating position, well sited, also had excellent observation over Nab Valley and had proved to be the
nemesis of both the attacks of the 70th Infantry Brigade, 8th Division, and that of the 14th Infantry Brigade, 32nd Division,
on the 1st July.
Despite the foothold gained in
the Salient, the enemy still had in their possession a number of commanding trenches and positions to the north and
north east, the Lemberg Stellung, Turken Stellung and the Hohenzollern Stellung, the latter
containing a fortified redoubt complete with dug-outs and also sited on a reverse slope, the Wundt Werk. The defenders
however did possess some good points of observation in the line, particularly in the length of Hindenburg Stellung wrested
from the enemy by the Worcester's on the 7th July. Two saps had been established from this position, "H"
and "K" Saps respectively, these, offering excellent observation over the complete German support
and reserve positions from the garrisoned buildings of Mouquet Farm to the heavily defended village of Pozieres further to
The Granatloch itself contained
several large dug-outs constructed to a deep depth with numerous exits and entrances. Fitted with electricity and well stocked
with provisions, the old enemy front line to the west also contained numerous dug-outs and saps extending outwards into the
former No Man's Land. Communication with the Old British Front Line was established by utilising a Sap (Sanda Sap),
constructed by the 17th Northumberland Fusiliers, Pioneers to the 32nd Division, prior to the commencement of the Somme
offensive. The Sap however had been blown in at various points and needed urgent improvements so as to assist in
the movement of men and materiel into the captured position. To this end the men set about not only the improvement
of the Sap, but also the trench system that had been virtually destroyed in many areas. It was inevitable that casualties
would be sustained but how many would no doubt exceed all expectations.
|The Leipzig Salient
|Extract Of Ovillers, Edition 3A, Sheet 57D, S.E.4. Trenches Corrected To 1/9/16
Holding The Salient
In driving rain, at about 2 a.m. on the morning of the 8th July, the men
of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's set forth from the Authuille Defences. "B" and "C" Companies
remaining in the latter defence system whilst "A" and "D" Companies now prepared to enter the Salient
and associated trenches. With Battalion Headquarters being established at Campbell's Post, the relief was
completed at around 6 a.m. but not without incident, Second-Lieutenant William Charles Seagar Prest and 6 Other Ranks being
wounded and 1 O/R unfortunately killed. In addition to the presence of the 1/5th, the 1/7th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
(Leeds Rifles), Officer Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel Albert Edward Kirk V.D., had also received orders to proceed to the
line from their positions in Aveluy Wood along with 6 mortars of the Brigade attached. Tasked with the relief of the 8th Battalion,
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment also of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 25th Division, their relief was completed at about 6 a.m.
No casualties are recorded in the War Diary of the 1/7th Battalion however an analysis of the CWGC database records that on
the 8th, the battalion suffered 4 Other Ranks killed.
both battalions took stock of their new surroundings, it soon became apparent that of paramount importance was the task of
the repair of the trenches, the organisation of various stores and posts, and trenches dug in order to connect the Salient
with the Old British Front Line. All day of the 9th was dedicated to these various tasks but the die was cast as the
men were undertaking their labours with a further 4 O/Rs of the 1/5th being wounded. At 8 p.m., the 1/7th Battalion were relieved
by the 1/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Edward Scott, whereupon the
former battalion proceeded to the South Bluff, Authuille, near Black Horse Bridge (W.6.a.3.2.).
Orders issued to the 1/6th were spelt out in no uncertain terms the operational
need as regards the position...."to be held at all costs."
Tempest's History of the Battalion records that the 1/6th moved to the Salient via
Campbell Avenue and a recently dug trench across the former No Man's Land that was rather shallow in depth. The
men were in fighting order minus pack and as they entered the position, they now became custodians of a large supply of Mills
Bombs and Small Arms Ammunition. During the course of the relief, there was considerable enemy artillery fire resulting in
3 Other Ranks of the battalion being killed.
the men continued to repair the trenches and consolidate the Old Front Line, "A" & "D" Companies of
the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were relieved by "B" & "C" Companies respectively during the afternoon
of the 10th. Once again, the battalion suffered numerous casualties during the course of the day, 1 man being killed and 15
O/R's being wounded. The pattern was similar during the following day with 1 man of the 1/6th killed and 4 O/R's of
the 1/5th wounded as the German artillery continued to shell heavily both the Salient and the sector as a whole.
At 1.15 a.m. on the morning of the 12th July,
the enemy would show his hand and launch an attack and attempt to break into the line. The exact nature of his enterprise
is not recorded in substantial detail in both battalion's War Diaries however the Author, in part, will draw on Tempest's
History Of The Sixth Battalion and the Brigade War Diary to explain events as they transpired.
It was at 11.30 p.m. on the night of the 11th July that the 1/6th Battalion
had sent out a patrol consisting of two officers with scouts and bombers. It had been observed that during the course of the
previous evening, the enemy had come out into No Man's Land from a Sap just to the north of the Salient,
the objective of the patrol being to surround them and no doubt take prisoners. As the patrol lay out waiting, they were suddenly
attacked and bombed at about 1.15 a.m. but somehow they managed to retire, fighting as they did so. At 1.30 a.m. a message
was received at Brigade Headquarters from the O.C. 6th West Yorkshire's that his left Company Commander ("A"
Company) reported that he was being driven back from his trenches by an enemy bombing attack on Sap "H"
but it was quite fortuitous that during the course of the previous day, the 1/7th West Yorkshire's had brought up
to the line thousands of Mills Bombs. The support company in the "crater" (Granatloch/Quarry)
were at once immediately sent forward to reinforce this left company that was under attack, their support position in turn
being taken over by the Reserve Company of the 6th West Yorks. The men had began to fire their S.O.S. rockets, a
signal to initiate artillery fire on designated lines at 1.27 a.m., but due to the confusion of various signals fired by both
attacker and defender, the supporting British artillery units did not bring their fire down until forty minutes after the
commencement of the bombing attack (Tempest), 7 men of the 1/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment being killed whilst the
enemy party attempted to breakthrough the line. Casualties to the 1/5th amounted to Second-Lieutenant John Victor Battersby
Harford being wounded, Harford having only joined the battalion a few weeks previously, and 3 O/R's wounded.
With the 1/7th West Yorkshire's relieving the 1/6th Battalion on the
night of the 12th/13th, two new officers joined the 1/5th Battalion on the 12th, Second-Lieutenants Cyril Goodwill and William
Allan Banks. During the course of the following day, "A" & "D" Companies once again moved up into
the line to relieve "B" & "C" Companies respectively. During this relief, Second-Lieutenant James
Henry Armistead and 7 O/R's were wounded, a familiar pattern as the Granatloch 'consumed' yet more victims.
Fire Demonstration: 1/7th West Yorkshire's
It was at 2.15 a.m. on the morning of the 14th July that a barrage commenced
on the enemy's positions, this being put down to assist a bombing attack that was to be launched by the 1/7th West Yorkshire's.
With the 1/6th being brought forward in support with orders to consolidate the ground taken, "Zero" hour was set
for 2.25 a.m. This operation, not only envisaged to expand the position to the north, would also detract German forces from
the large scale attack being launched on the villages of Bazentin-le-Petit, Bazentin-le-Grand and Longueval by 8th and 15th
Corps, Fourth Army.
Orders stated that the 1/7th would attack with "A" and "B" Companies, three companies of the 1/6th attached
and placed under the orders of the Officer Commanding the 1/7th, Lieutenant-Colonel Albert Edward Kirk V.D. Both the 1/5th,
and the 1/8th Battalions would remain in their present positions, north-east of the Granatloch, and just to the west
of Nab Valley between Lime Street and Mersey Street respectively in the event of a counter-attack.
Headquarters of the 1/6th Battalion and 3 companies of the 148th Infantry Brigade would be placed in Reserve at the South
Bluff, Authuille, under the orders of the Commanding Officer, 1/6th, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Edward Scott.
Orders for the artillery were complex, but at 2.15 a.m., the artillery would
open a "usual" barrage for a period of ten minutes and then at "Zero" in conjunction with the
attack of the 1/7th, lift on to a line designated as "A," "E" & "D" for the duration of
fifteen minutes. In basic terms, fire would be brought to bear on a designated line just to the south of Thiepval Village,
south of this line, map references R.31.a & b, there was to be no barrage unless requested by the attacking infantry.
To the north of Thiepval, a barrage would also be brought to bear stretching from a point just to the north of Mill Road,
to the south of St. Pierre Divion, eastwards to a point near the Cemetery (references Q.24.d.7.7. - R.25.b.2.5.).
After "Zero" hour, "Special Tasks" would be initiated, i.e. a bombardment that would be primarily
fired at reference R.31.c. (directly north of the Granatloch and on the modern day line of the track leading
from the Thiepval Memorial). The barrage would be performed by a variety of groups and various calibres of artillery from
the 32nd and 49th Divisional Artillery augmented by attached French Artillery of the 37th and 20th Artillery Regiments and
the 10th Corps Heavy Artillery.
assist the attack, 1/8th West Yorkshire's would launch smoke ("P" Bombs) in conjunction with Number
1 Company Special Brigade, 5th Battalion, Royal Engineers from Mersey Street to Lime Street in an attempt
to fill the Nab and its associated valley with smoke as far north as Mouquet Farm. The R.E. would
deploy their smoke discharge from detachments of 4 inch Stokes Mortars, four guns under the command of Lieutenant Hugh Gordon
Nourse on the right of the 146th Infantry Brigade and four guns under the command of Lieutenant William Harold Elliker on
the left of the 147th Infantry Brigade who would discharge smoke up the Ancre valley. One hundred and twenty bombs would be
allocated for each detachment deposited by either road or tramway as close as possible to the detachments positions, the time
for the smoke discharge being set for 15 minutes before "Zero" hour.
|Leipzig Salient & Environs
|146th Brigade Headquarters. T.N.A. WO95/2792/3
At "Zero" hour, the 1/7th West Yorkshire's launched
their attack on the "A,"E" & "D" Line to the north of the Granatloch. One half of "B"
Company proceeded forward towards the enemy lines up "A" & "B" Trench with the remaining half of the
company advancing up "C" & "D" Trench respectively. Following behind this latter half company
were one half of "A" Company, assigned the specific task of 'mopping up' the numerous enemy dug-outs located
in the area of this sector of the advance. The remaining half of "A" Company would subsequently advance up "A"
& "B" Trench with the objective of the occupation of the German trench system, whereupon, they would form a
defensive line and consolidate the latter facing eastwards, no doubt forming 'trench blocks' to prevent any interdiction
by enemy forces. With one company of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's assembled in the Crater/Granatloch with various
quantities of trench materiel to assist in consolidation, one half of this company would follow on up "A"
& "B" Trench, the remainder, proceeding forward up "C" & "D" Trench.
Accounts of the operation vary as does chronology but it would appear that
from the outset, one party, moving over the open between "B" & "A" and "C" & "D"
Trenches had met a large body of the enemy in both the open and in their trenches. Pushing this force back a distance of about
50 yards under a heavy bomb barrage, this party of "B" Company of the 1/7th West Yorkshire's became engaged
in a ferocious bombing duel that eventually drove them back to their start point, the line "C" & "B"
Trench, a message being received at Brigade Headquarters to this end timed at 3.10 a.m.
The barrage was now requested to 'shorten,' i.e. to bring down fire
on the rapidly advancing enemy force who were making good progress to the left of the failed attack. Companies were now reorganised
as repeated requests were sent to the artillery to continue or alter their barrage as the attack developed yet further and
as a consequence of mounting pressure, "C" & "B" Trench was subsequently abandoned. With nearly all
of the Bombers of the 1/7th West Yorkshire's now either killed or wounded, two companies? of the 1/6th were now sent forward
in an attempt to repel the counter-attack. Although "C" & "B" Trench had been abandoned, the position
was defended to the last man by Bombers of the latter, greatly assisted by Stokes mortars and their crews who moved up into
the open behind the British front line.
The 1/5th West Yorkshire's now reported that the enemy counter-attack
was developing yet further to the left at about 4.40 a.m., a verbal message being received to this effect at Brigade Headquarters.
First hand accounts of the fighting are scarce, however the 1/6th Battalion Bombers, under the command of Lieutenant George
Hargreaves Speight, gave a good account of themselves on this flank at Point "C" (Tempest's History).
Lieutenant Hargreaves was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on this date, his citation in the London Gazette dated
the 25th August 1916 reads as follows:-
"For conspicuous gallantry. When the enemy obtained a foothold in our front trench, occupied by another
unit, he led his bombers with great dash and drove them out. On another occasion he drove off the enemy with bombs, inflicting
the 1/7th, Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Baldwin was also awarded the M.C. His citation in the same edition of the London Gazette
" For conspicuous
gallantry. When, at a critical moment his company commander was wounded, he took command, cleared away the wounded and organised
the company to resist a counter-attack. He was wounded by a bullet in the leg, but stuck to his post and set a fine example."
At about 6.35 a.m. on
the morning of the 14th, a message was received from the the front line reporting that it was "all quiet" despite
the attentions of a few bombs, rifle grenades and trench mortar rounds. The Brigade War Diary records that the 1/7th West
Yorkshire's had suffered 3 officers wounded and about 80 men either killed or wounded however the Battalion War Diary
furnishes no details as to casualties sustained. An analysis therefore of the Commonwealth War Graves database now indicates
that 1 Officer, Lieutenant Norman Wilson, and 20 men were killed or died of wounds in the attack. The 1/6th Battalion had
suffered 4 men killed, and the 1/8th Battalion, one man, the indomitable Regimental Sergeant Major William Henry Fear M.C.
In support positions to the north of the Granatloch, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's casualties numbered Second-Lieutenant
Sidney Walker Birbeck and three O/R's wounded plus one man killed, Lance-Sergeant Arthur Boldison M.M., a native of York
and a married man who was awarded the Military Medal posthumously in February 1917.
During the following day, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's set about repairing
the trenches whilst the 1/6th Battalion took up station in the front line trenches. At about 3.30 a.m. (Brigade War Diary,
1/6th records 4 a.m.) on the morning of the 15th July just as dawn was beginning to break, an enemy bombing attack preceded
by a heavy bombardment erupted along the length of the line. An alien sound was then heard followed by three jets of "liquid
fire." Almost immediately an S.O.S. call was sent to the artillery followed by the firing of three red rockets
in addition to a visual signal message being sent but the latter proved difficult to observe due to the misty conditions that
prevailed. Two more sets of rockets were fired and a call was made from the artillery liason officer at 3.50 a.m. but it was
not until six minutes later that the artillery responded and even then, the barrage was weak and far from adequate.
Once again the enemy were attempting to infiltrate the line on the left in
the vicinity of "C" & "D" Trench/Sap and at 4.15 a.m. a further telephone call was made to the artillery
followed by another rocket signal to increase their barrage. The Bombers of "B" Company, 1/6th West Yorkshire's,
now became engaged in a bombing duel and to assist in the defence of the position, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Edward Scott,
O.C. 1/6th Battalion, now sent forward one platoon of the 1/7th Battalion who were in support in the Crater to reinforce
the trench between Fifth Avenue (north-west of the Granatloch) and "C" & "D"
Trench/Sap to support "B" Company.
Both the Brigade and the Battalion War Diaries record no specific details as to companies engaged but the Author
surmises from various sources that the Battalion held the position as follows:-
"B" Company Left Flank O.C. Captain Eric Walter
Right Flank O.C. Captain Richard Alexander Fawcett M.C.
"A" Company Centre O.C. Captain Norman Muller
"D" Company Support/Reserve O.C. Temporary Captain
John Lister Heselton (Wounded 1st July)
Lieutenant Speight, "B" Company, was once again in the forefront of the action (see second part of M.C.
citation) albeit slightly wounded. At 4.25 a.m., the centre company reported that "B" Company were holding the attack
and that the machine gun on that flank withheld it's fire "against the possibility of the enemy succeeding in
Scott received a message timed at 4.45 that the left flank company, "B," was "all right" and
shortly afterwards the centre company reported its situation as the same. It soon became clear that the main thrusts of the
enemy attack were, on the left down "C" & "D" Trench/Sap, eastwards down "B" & "A"
Trench/Sap and "H" Trench/Sap. The whole action was characterised by the necessity for an adequate supply of bombs,
this supply diminishing at an alarming rate throughout the course of the attack. To this end, the right flank bombing post,
manned by "C" Company, received orders to forward bombs to "B" Company however Tempest's History records
that Lieutenant Hornshaw (Frederick Geoffrey Hornshaw) of "C" Company replied that "his Bombs are not in
Boxes, and that he is sending as many as he can, but he has only 400 Bombs left."
At this critical period and with the left flank coming under increasing pressure,
Stokes mortars under the command of Captain Pike were brought forward and commenced a bombardment of the advancing enemy.
Assisted by the 146th Brigade Machine Gun Company under the command of Captain John Muller, the effects of the mortar fire
drove parties of the enemy into the open whereupon they were engaged at first by snipers and then by one machine gun under
the command of Lance-Sergeant Harry Haigh,1927, the latter firing 1500 rounds with effective results.
It later transpired that the enemy force consisted of men of the 185th Infantry
Regiment (185 Infanterie Regiment). An analysis of the action by Colonel Scott reported that "C" & "D"
Trench was full of their dead however the defenders had learned costly lessons themselves. The necessity to have ample supplies
of hand grenades begged numerous questions as to how many were actually adequate to deal with any prolonged assault. Although
the Bombing Officer of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's was asked the specific question as to how many bombs were actually used
in the defence of the line, no estimate was, or could be, provided. Scott himself recommended at the least a "couple
of thousand boxes" but upon consultation with his aforementioned officer the latter deemed this to be "excessive."
It was a fair point, bombs could be damaged or in the worst case scenario, a substantial dump could fall prey to the effects
of enemy artillery. Yet another point to consider was the loss of experienced Bombers during the course of the attack, this,
resulting in those who were untrained, throwing bombs without a correct setting adding to expenditure. In the case of Stokes
mortar rounds, in excess of 400 mortar rounds were fired, the reserve of this ammunition, about 700 rounds, proving to be
Colonel Scott estimated his
casualties during the action as two officers killed and one wounded (Lieutenant Speight). In Other Ranks, this estimate concluded
that 3 had been killed and 30 wounded. An analysis therefore of the C.W.W.G database now indicates that the two officers killed
were Second-Lieutenants Clarence Rueil Harper, "B" Company of Rawdon, near Leeds, and Richard Moore, "A"
Company of Ripon, both officers now buried in adjoining graves in Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood, Somme. In Other
Ranks, the battalion suffered 8 men killed however two men are buried in cemeteries some distance behind the lines suggesting
that they succumbed to wounds received previously. Amongst the dead was one Sergeant Joseph Sayers D.C.M., 2626, of "B"
Company, a married man and a native of Bradford. Sayers, then a Private, had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal
for actions on the Canal Bank Sector at Ypres in 1915, his citation in the London Gazette dated the 22nd January 1916 reads:-
For conspicuous gallantry
on the 19th November 1915, in the isolated trench known as the "Pump Room."
During a very heavy bombardment, when 6 men of the platoon were killed,
7 wounded and all the remainder more or less buried, Corporal Meekosha took command after all his seniors were killed or wounded,
and commenced digging out the wounded in full view of the enemy and at short range from his trenches. By his gallant behaviour,
and with the assistance of Privates Johnson, Sayers and Wilkinson, who stuck to him and most stoutly assisted him throughout,
the lives of 4 men were saved."
Along with Sayer, Private Eli Johnson, 3225, and Private Edgar James Wilkinson, 1266, would also be awarded the Distinguished
Conduct Medal, Wilkinson, being killed in action the following month aged 19 years. Corporal Samuel Meekosha, 1147, for his
actions, would receive the highest award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross.
Bombs And Gas
Once again the line stood to in a heightened sense of alert as at 12.25 a.m.
as on the night of the 15th/16th of July, the 1/8th West Yorks were subjected to a heavy bombing attack by the enemy. With
the one of the company's battalion bombers being forced back by a heavy counter-attack, the remaining bombers of the battalion
stabilised the situation but at the cost of 5 men killed. One of these men was Harry Yarborough, a Cloth Cutter of Number
34, Bellbrooke Grove, Harehills, Leeds. Aged just 24 years, Harry is now recorded in the Book of Remembrance located in Saint
Agnes' Church, Burmantofts, Leeds. (Authors note: There are a number of men recorded as killed or died of wounds on this
date by the C.W.G.C. Database however some died some distance from Thiepval of wounds received at Field Ambulances or Base
Hospitals, I surmise therefore wounded at an earlier date. Of the five men killed or died of wounds, all are recorded on the
West Yorkshire's now relieved the 1/5th Battalion in the Old British Line trenches at Campbell Post, this relief
commencing at 8 a.m. on the morning of the 16th and concluding at 4 p.m in the afternoon. The 5th Battalion now moved into
reserve positions, Headquarters and "A" and "D" Companies to Black Horse Bridge, South Bluff, Authuille,
"B" Company to Oban Avenue Trench in the Authuille Defences and "C" Company to the Granatloch
in support of the 1/8th West Yorkshire's, 4 Other Ranks being wounded during the course of the day. During the following
day, the 5th Battalion relieved the latter in the Leipzig Salient, "C" and "D" Companies moving
into front line positions, "B" Company in support in the Granatloch and "A" Company in reserve
respectively. Enemy artillery was fairly active shelling the front line positions and the whole of the sector in general.
"K" Gas Shells (Sulphuretted Hydrogen) were also liberally used during the course of the day, the battalion
suffering one man killed and six wounded. Private Harold Pryor, 3930, of Parkfield Place, Sheffield, was the unfortunate man
to be killed. Drafted to the battalion in 1916, Harry now lies in Authuille Military Cemetery, Authuille, a short distance
from where he made the ultimate sacrifice.
|View From The Northern Face Of The Granatloch. April 2013. Author.
The Right Sector, i.e. to the right of the 49th Division,
was held by units of the 144th Infantry Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division, who had been engaged south of Authuille Wood
in the fight for the village of Ovillers and its associated trench systems to the north. The Left Sector was occupied
by the 147th Infantry Brigade, 49th Division, the 1/5th West Ridings on the extreme left flank, and the 1/6th West Ridings
on the right respectively. The 1/5th Battalion now set about wiring saps and positions in and around the Granatloch
in addition to a process of general consolidation but despite there being little artillery activity by the enemy, one man
was killed and three were wounded. (Authors note: A search of both the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database and that
of Soldiers Died reveals no trace of the man presumed to have been killed on the 18th of July).
A relief of the 1/5th Battalion was carried out by the 1/8th West Yorkshire's
on the 19th July, Headquarters and "A" and "B" Companies subsequently proceeding to the South Bluff
at Black Horse Bridge, "C" Company to Caithness Trenches and "D" Company to Oban
Avenue, the latter two companies being located in the line in the Authuille Defences, one O/R being wounded
during the course of the day. At 10 p.m., a digging party of the 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 148th Infantry
Brigade who had been placed at the disposal of the 146th Brigade, commenced to dig a trench from the Nab on the right
of the latters sector to link up positions north of Ovillers occupied by the 144th Infantry Brigade, 48th Division. One man,
Private Arthur Convey, 4337, a Scotsman by birth, was unfortunately killed whilst conducting these operations and is now buried
in Authuille Military Cemetery.
Expansion Of The Salient Position
On the night of the 19th/20th of July, an attack was conducted by the 1/8th West Yorkshire's in an attempt to
expand the Leipzig Salient positions. With the 1/5th Battalion in support, the objectives of this attack were the
points in the line to the east designated as "X," "H," "K" and "L." The
attack would be carried out by two companies who would advance over the open towards their objectives. An artillery barrage
would be fired on Points "A" - "B," "C" - "D," "H" - "J,"
"M" and "N" - "R." In addition to this artillery barrage on the aforementioned
positions, a Stokes mortar barrage would also be performed, three guns, one each on "A" - "B,"
"C" - "D" and "H J" (sic), two Stokes mortars on "H - K - M" and
one mortar on "P - N - R." Two inch mortars would also lay down a barrage on the area "S - T -
V - W" and heavy mortars on the area "O - Y - Z." 146th Machine Gun Company would also participate
in the 'enterprise,' Second-Lieutenant Richard Cecil Groom moving two guns into the Salient whilst Second-Lieutenant
John Rotherford Bellerby took up positions in the Wood Post Sector to cover the approaches along Nab Valley and
to fire a barrage on high elevation towards Mouquet Farm. A rather hurried attack in conception, "Zero"
hour was set for 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the 19th/20th July.
There is virtually no information as regards to the attack contained in the pages of the War Diaries of the constituent
units of the 146th Infantry Brigade. An analysis however of messages received during the course of the attack by Brigade Headquarters
enables us to piece together a simplistic overview of events as they unfolded.
As both the artillery and mortar barrage commenced at "Zero" hour,
the two companies of the 8th West Yorkshire's, "A" and "D" respectively, proceeded towards their objectives,
"K" and "L" Trench. "A" Company, advanced as per orders across the open in two
lines, the first wave completely taking the enemy by surprise as they jumped in the trench. The second wave however was less
fortunate and as it neared the objective four minutes after "Zero," it was hit by enemy machine guns firing from
the line "X," "H" and "K" suffering some casualties in the process. About
three minutes later and after overcoming the initial shock and surprise of attack, the enemy launched his S.O.S. signal
comprising of three red rockets but the advance now developed on the left of "A" Company as the Battalion Bombers
proceeded to bomb their way forwards. Upon arrival at "K" and "L" Trench, the bombers
now advanced to their left fighting their way up towards Point "K," orders stipulating that
one party was to advance along "K" and "M" Trench and establish a 'Bombing Block,'
a rudimentary barricade, to prevent enemy forces from infiltrating the battle zone. A second bombing party then advanced along
"K" and "X" and began to work their way forwards towards Point "X" where
other bombers were advancing downwards. A battle dominated by bomb now ensued, this weapon of trench warfare being handled
by specially trained men adept at their use and well versed in military tactics however at this point in the engagement, enemy
resistance now began to stiffen.
"D" Company who had also advanced over the open had
by now also come to grips with the enemy. Bombing down "X" and "H" and in a northerly
direction up "H" and "J" Trench, they too established a 'Block' about twenty
yards up the latter trench with little difficulty. So as to ascertain the position of "A" Company, a section was
detailed off to advance over the top and in the open on the south side of "X" and "K" Trench
but it soon became apparent that the men of this company had been held up by a large enemy force in "X"
and "K" Trench. Battalion bombers were now also held up by snipers at Point "K"
firing from behind 'sniper plates,' steel plates no doubt incorporated into the German defense system. Despite the
efforts of the Lewis gun teams who lost heavily in trying to dislodge them from their position, this strong-point in the enemy
line held on tenaciously forcing the Officer Commanding 1/8th, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel James Whitelaw Alexander D.S.O.
to order a tactical withdrawal from Point "K" down "K" and "L" and
"K" and "X" Trenches so that the position could be bombarded by Stokes mortars for the
duration of three minutes. There were problems however even before the mortar barrage could commence as the carrying party
detailed to bring the rounds forward could not find them and brought up a cache of Mills bombs in error but as the mortar
barrage came to a conclusion, the men prepared for a final push to seize all their objectives.
Both companies now made a final rush and a little progress was made forward
despite a counter-attack. Resistance finally dwindled at about 6.20 a.m. after a three hour fight and it was reported that
the enemy were withdrawing leaving many of their dead and wounded behind. At Point "K," both "A"
and "D" Companies now linked up and a further 'block' was established about twenty yards down "K"
and "M" Trench. During the whole operation, the enemy had made strong counter-attacks down "A"
- "B" and "D" - "C" Trenches but these attacks were successfully repulsed with
the assistance of mortars. At 9 a.m. the German artillery began to shell the whole of the brigade front, the Salient and
Point "K" and it was now imperative that the men set about wiring and consolidating the captured trenches
as the enemy once again launched a small bombing attack in "H" Trench. To assist in consolidation, both
"A" and "B" Companies of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were sent up to the Salient, the battalion's
bombers being sent forward to assist in driving out small pockets of enemy resistance. "C" Company also moved up
to assist in the clearing of communication trenches and blown in Russian Saps aswell as "D" Company who
were assigned the duties of carrying up water.
The captured trenches were badly knocked about by artillery and in parts very shallow indeed. As the men feverishly
attempted to improve their positions, full stock of the situation they found themselves in and the number of casualties could
now be assessed.
An analysis of the Commonwealth
War Graves Database now indicates that the 1/8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles) suffered 12 Other Ranks
killed. Amongst their number were three men from Leeds whose loss represents the bitter fighting by the Battalion Machine
Gun Section to take Point "K." Private John William Clayton of Rossall Road, Harehills, aged 21 years,
Lance-Corporal Joe Mellor, Landlord of the Belmont Inn, Holbeck, aged 32 years and Private William Wilkinson of St. Peter's
Street, aged just 19.
John Clayton, prior
to enlistment in September 1914, had been employed by Messrs. David Little and Co., Wholesale Clothiers of York Place. Joe
Mellor, a married man with two children, was reported to have been killed instantaneously by a German Sniper, his officer
remarking that he was the best gunner that he had and Private William Wilkinson, sniped through the head whilst "using
a Lewis gun to good effect." William had only been at the front for about ten weeks.
John William Clayton now lies in Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille, whilst
both Joe Mellor and William Wilkinson, unidentified after the war, are now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Although not directly engaged in operations and holding positions in Authuille
Wood, the 1/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment had also suffered one casualty, Private Frederick Blakey of Southey Place,
Bradford. A member of a working party digging a communication trench to connect with advanced trenches gained by 4th Gloucesters
to the north of Ovillers, Frederick, one may surmise, was killed by what the War Diary records as "Intensive Shelling."
Frederick, aged about 18 years, is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Of the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, the War Diary records that
Second-Lieutenant William Singleton Macartney was wounded, 6 Other Ranks killed, and 31 Other Ranks wounded. An analysis of
the Commonwealth War Graves Database between the dates of the 19th July - 21st July records however only five casualties.
Amongst their number was one Private Alfred
Crofts of 103, Rydal Road, Sheffield. A death notice published in the Yorkshire Telegraph & Star dated August the 14th
simply expressed the words from a grieving family, "The unknown grave is the bitterest blow, None but the aching
heart can know."
Frederick Jordan aged 31 years, a married man with one child from Number 19, Carlton Street, Hestle Road, Hull. Formerly employed
by Messrs. Allen & Hanburys, Cod Liver Oil Merchants of Blanket Row, Frederick had originally enlisted into the ranks
of the East Yorkshire Regiment in January 1915 but was later transferred to the West Yorkshire.
Private James Sunley, aged 21 years of Lowther Street, York. Recorded in
the 1911 Census as occupation, a Bookbinder, James is the only man of the 1/5th Battalion who fell in action on this date
to have a known grave. His body exhumed from a point just to the north-east of the Granatloch, James, identified
by his boots, uniform and shoulder titles now lies in A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers along with two other unidentified men of
the West Yorkshire Regiment.
particular action in the expansion of the Salient position also resulted in the death of one man of the 1/5th Battalion
who I, the Author, feel a personal connection. A number of years past, my wife happened to chance on a medal for sale on a
local internet auction site, a British War Medal being inscribed to one George Ishmael Mackridge, 2461. George was born in
Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on the 19th of July 1897, the son of Thomas and Paulina Mackridge of Denmark Street. Enlisting
at York in September 1914, the family at this juncture were residing at Number 43, North Lodge Avenue, New Park. George had
witnessed service on the Western Front from April of the previous year. Granted a few days leave in June 1916, he was killed
the day after his 19th birthday. George Ishmael Mackridge, his body lost, is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, a
short distance from where he fell.
|Ackrills War Souvenir
|George Ishmael Mackridge. Image Courtesy Of John Sheehan.
As fighting continued on the 21st on
the left of the Salient position, the 146th Brigade, minus both the 1/6th and the 1/7th Battalions of the West Yorkshire's
and the Brigade Stokes Mortar Battery who were placed at the disposal of the 148th Brigade, were relieved. At noon, a relief
of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's was commenced by the 1/4th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 148th Brigade,
the relief being completed by 4.30 p.m. with two O/R's being wounded in the process. The 1/8th Battalion were also relieved
by the 1/4th Yorks & Lancs. and proceeded to billets at Forceville, the 1/5th to billets located at Hedauville respectively.
Now placed in Corps Reserve, both battalions, for the meantime, could at least forget the horrors that they had witnessed
on the Somme battlefield as their sister battalions of the brigade continued to endure their continuing tour of the lines.
(Authors note: On the 24th of July, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Edward Scott and Captain Eric Walter Knowles, Second-in-Command
of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's were seriously wounded whilst touring the line in The Nab. Colonel Scott would
eventually succumb to his wounds in hospital at Etaples on the 9th August aged 49 years).
John and the men of the battalion now proceeded about checking and cleaning their kit after the rigours of their
tour in the line. The time spent at so called 'rest' at Hedauville were of a very short duration as on the following
day, orders were issued to prepare for a move at half an hours notice. A Church Service was conducted at 9.45 a.m. in the
morning followed by the training of 'Specialists' such as Bombers, Signallers and men adept and familiar with the
use of Rifle Grenades. On the evening of the 23rd, the 1/5th and the 1/8th Battalions proceeded by route of march to Bouzincourt
which was reached at 9 p.m. whereupon both proceeded to billet. On the following day, the 49th (West Riding) Division now
transferred from Fifteenth Corps to Second Corps. Still remaining in Corps Reserve and now with the 1/7th West Yorkshire's
at Forceville in Divisional Reserve, a programme of training was initiated by the 1/5th and conducted under the auspices of
Company Commanders and 'Specialist' Officers. Major Robert Cattley now returned from hospital whilst Captain Donald
P Mackay and Quarter-master, Hon. Lieutenant Frank Veal proceeded to hospital 'sick.'
Whilst at Bouzincourt, "A," "B" and "C" Companies had a chance to have a welcome bath
and as training continued, the battalion moved once again on the 25th into billets located in the village of Forceville. Training
was once again the order of the day and on the 26th, both Headquarters and "D" Company had the opportunity to bathe
at Hedauville. On the 27th of July, the day dawned with rain and the respite from the trenches had come to an end. Orders
had now been issued to commence a relief in the line of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's and at 7 a.m. the battalion proceeded
by route of march to the front line.
Moving into trenches at Quarry
Post near Authuille Wood, "A" and "B" Companies moved into the line supported by "D" and
"C" Companies respectively. The men set about repairing and improving the trenches, a particular emphasis being
placed on the deepening and widening of a 'new' trench constructed across No Man's Land south of The Nab.
This position in effect formed a reserve line located to the south of the Leipzig Salient, a prominent feature
of the position being referred to as the "Dead Man's Bank," a site that had witnessed many deaths on
the 1st July during the opening day of the Somme offensive. During the course of the day, the battalion suffered 9 Other Rank
casualties, 2 remaining at duty.
As work continued
on all the trenches, "B" Company set about connecting the trenches to the battalion on the left. At 8 a.m. on the
morning of the 28th of July, one company of the 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry launched an attack against the
eastern side of the Salient position. The attack failed with "B" Company suffering considerable loss and
as a direct result a heavy enemy artillery bombardment fell on this part of the sector. As a consequence, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's
suffered 3 Other Ranks killed and 4 wounded.
Fred Barnes, 22684, of Cudworth near Barnsley. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and possibly arriving in the United Kingdom in
January 1915, Fred had originally enlisted into one of the "Pals" Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment
but was transferred at some point to the 1/5th West Yorkshire's. Possibly working underground as a Miner, it is believed
that he was a Lodger with one Frances Ethel Freer of 9, Somerset Street, Cudworth. One of 300 members of the Cudworth Village
Working Men's Club to have enlisted upon the outbreak of the war, at the time of his death over 20 members of the Club
had already fallen. (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, September the 26th, 1916). Lance-Corporal Charles Simpson, 2335 of "C"
Company. Charles, a Gardner, had enlisted at York in August 1914. Residing at Number 3, Railway Terrace, Holgate Road, York,
Charles was fondly remembered by his sister Marion. Private Charles William Wells, 1842, had enlisted at York. A Painter and
resident of St. Maurice's Road, tragedy had already visited the family when in August 1915, his brother George Edward,
succumbed to wounds received at Hooge whilst serving with the East Yorkshire Regiment. Charles Simpson along with Fred Barnes
and Charles Wells now lie in Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood, Somme.
As work continued on the trenches, construction began in the 'new' trench of strong-points, 5 Other Ranks
being wounded during the course of the 29th, two remaining at duty. Once completed, these posts were manned by men of "A"
Company on the following day, Captain Charles Ellis Foulds, the young officer from Wetherby, departing the battalion for hospital
'sick,' one officer however rejoined the battalion from the Reinforcement Camp, Second-Lieutenant William Allan Banks
respectively. Construction of a dug-out was commenced on the 30th, the latter on 'German principles.' It is of interest
to note that the party of 27 O/R's under the command of Second-Lieutenant Cyril Newton Goodwill seconded for the purpose,
were drawn from men either with quarrying or mining experience. This suggests that the structure was to be dug to a deep level
similar in construction to the elaborate German dug-outs excavated in underlying chalk in the former enemy trench system in
On the morning of the 31st of July,
the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment were relieved by 1/8th West Yorkshire's at Quarry Post and proceeded
to billets located at Forceville, 1 Other Rank being wounded during the course of the relief. Casualties suffered by the 146th
Infantry Brigade, from the 1st of July to the 22nd July as recorded in the Brigade War Diary numbered 70 officers and 1,349
men. John had survived the opening days of the Somme offensive and the protracted defence and ultimate expansion of one postion
gained at a high cost on the first day of battle. The Salient position was now expanding and evolving as a launch
pad for further incursions into the Thiepval sector but the enemy still held on tenaciously to the strategically vital high
ground of the Thiepval Spur. For this to be taken, a series of redoubts to the north including the Wundt Werk,
Stuff Redoubt and ultimately Feste Schwaben would have to be taken but for the meantime, the sector, including
positions above the Ancre, were dominated by a determined opposition.
arriving at Forceville and completing an inspection of kit and training in 'Specialists,' the 1/5th Battalion proceeded
to Hedauville during the late afternoon and into Corps Reserve. Whilst at Hedauville, General Claud William Jacob C.B., G.O.C.
Second Corps, presented medals to the men of the 146th Infantry Brigade in the grounds of the Chateau d'Hedauville. Once
again a programme of training was initiated, primarily concerned with 'Specialists' including on the 2nd, a
practice attack on dummy trenches. As Second-Lieutenant Ernest William Lee rejoined the battalion from the Bombing School,
orders were now issued for the 146th Infantry Brigade to commence a relief of the 148th Infantry Brigade in the Thiepval Sector.
The 1/5th Battalion were to relieve the 1/5th K.O.Y.L.I. at the South Bluff, 1/6th Battalion, in trenches opposite
the Salient in positions from Oban and Thiepval Avenue, 1/7th Battalion relieving 1/5th Yorks.
& Lancs. in the Salient, the 1/8th Battalion, still in positions to the left of the 48th Division from Hoy's
Trench - The Nab - Eighth Avenue (Author : South of the Salient, north of Boggart Hole
In the Left Sector, the
147th Infantry Brigade, 49th Division under the command of Temporary Brigadier-General Edward Fitzgerald Brereton, C.B., D.S.O.,
the men of the 'Duke's' performed good service in improving the lines and digging new parallels in the vicinity
of Thiepval Wood. As a period of hot weather continued, "A" and "B" Companies of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's
were now disposed in the South Bluff, "C" Company in Oban Avenue and "D" Company in
support to the 1/7th West Yorkshire's in the Granatloch. During the night of the 3rd, the latter company suffered
several casualties due to enemy artillery, total casualties in wounded numbering 6 Other Ranks.
One of the men succumbed to wounds the same day, one Private George Hick,
2507. George, of Swann Street, Nunnery Lane, York, had enlisted in September 1914 at York. His brother Arthur who had enlisted
in late August 1914 into the 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment had already fallen at Gallipoli on the 22nd
August 1915. George now lies in Martinsart British Cemetery, Somme, his brother, denied a known grave, is now commemorated
on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli. In addition, both brothers are commemorated in their home city on the War Memorial located
at St. Mary Bishophill Junior Church, a short distance from the family home.
On the 4th of August, the 12th (Eastern) Division on the right flank, continued their advance towards positions
to the east of Ovillers and Pozieres in conjunction with attacks by the A.I.F. Both "A" and "B" Companies
of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's now commenced to carry Royal Engineer stores to the Salient whilst "C"
Company carried up vital water supplies. "D" Company at this juncture moved to Caithness Trenches from
the Granatloch, 5 Other Ranks being wounded during the course of this rotation in the lines. As Major William Oddie
rejoined the battalion, on the following day, "A" and "B" Companies moved to the front line and support
positions under orders of the Officer Commanding 1/8th West Yorkshire's, the latter at its disposal, having two companies
of the 1/5th and the 1/7th West Yorks, rotating in the line alternately. "A" Company now occupied the front line
from Mersey Street to Eighth Avenue whilst "B" Company moved into support positions in Rock
Street, "D" Company moving back to the Bluff in place of the former two companies respectively.
As the 48th and the 12th Divisions also rotated units on the right, the 1/5th
K.O.Y.L. of the 148th Infantry Brigade were withdrawn from the line to Martinsart Wood, both forward and support
companies of the 1/5th West Yorks began cleaning and improving trenches whilst "D" Company set about the cleaning
up of dug-outs at the Bluff and the carrying up of Royal Engineer stores, one man being wounded during the course
of the 6th August.
On the 7th, the 1/5th West
Yorks relieved the 1/7th Battalion in the Salient, "B" Company moving into positions at the South Bluff,
"A" Company to Oban Avenue, "D" Company to Rock Street and "C" Company to
Mersey Street respectively. Recorded as a "quiet day" in the pages of the War Diary, during the
course of the 7th, a shell or shells fired by British artillery exploded on "K" Sap held by a party of
the men of the 1/5th. The casualties from this unfortunate incident resulted in the deaths of 3 Other Ranks killed and a further
4 wounded. Only one man belonging to the 1/5th Battalion killed on this date is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Database,
one Private Arthur Naylor, 4011, of Cross Flatts Place, Beeston, Leeds. Originally enlisting into the 1/8th Battalion
(Leeds Rifles) and attached to the 1/5th, prior to enlistment, Arthur, aged 19 years, had been employed by the Beeston Branch
of the Leeds Co-operative Society. Buried in Authuile Military Cemetery, his gravestone bears the inscription, "His
Loving Memory Is More Than Words Can Tell Father." One other man to be killed on this date was one Private Arthur
Waddington, 4234, 1/6th West Yorkshire's, commemorated by the C.W.G.C. as serving with the York and Lancaster Regiment.
A married man of Bradford who had been wounded the month previously, Arthur now also lies in the peaceful cemetery at Authuile,
officers also joined the battalion on this date; Second-Lieutenants Alfred Charles Watson, George Geoffrey Ellison, Arthur
George Wilson, Thomas William Hardwick, Dudley Whistler Wallace, Gordon Albert Barnes and William Barraclough. In addition
to these officers, Second-Lieutenant Joseph Bell returned from his duties as Town Major of Martinsart.
At 4 a.m. on the morning of the 8th after a smoke barrage was launched, the
front was subjected to a heavy enemy artillery barrage for the duration of thirty minutes. (Authors note: Source, 146th Brigade
Machine Gun Company). During the course of the day, the 1/5th had once again set about their tasks of improving the trenches
and the wiring of saps. In the right sector towards Pozieres, artillery maintained a steady barrage on the enemy's defences
in a programme of wire cutting, this being performed as a precursor to an attack to be launched later in the day towards Mouquet
Farm. At some point during the day, the enemy launched a small bombing attack on a sap held by "B" Company
but this was easily repulsed without loss of life however the 1/8th suffered one officer casualty, Captain Leslie Cartmell
The only son of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Hossell
of Clifton, York, prior to the war, Leslie had been employed by his father as a Clerk in the family business of Wool Merchants
& Fellmongers. Receiving his commission as a Second-Lieutenant in March 1913 and late of the Ardingly College O.T.C.,
Leslie was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in August 1914 followed by the promotion to Temporary Captain in August of the
following year. Killed in action aged just 24 years, Leslie is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial as well as being
commemorated on the War Memorial located at Ardingly College, West Sussex.
At about 9.23 p.m. on the evening of the 8th, both the 4th Australian Division and the 12th (Eastern) Division launched
an assault from a south-easterly direction on the German line towards Mouquet Farm. With the attack supported by
the 146th Brigade Machine Gun Company, little ground was gained at a high cost by the 12th Division as the Australians pressed
home their attack during the course of the following day. After another smoke barrage was launched by the forward companies
of the 1/5th at 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the 9th, the enemy seemed somewhat 'troubled' and consequently retaliated
by firing a trench mortar into the Salient position. Subsequently engaged by artillery, the mortar was silenced but
at the cost of 1 Other Rank killed and 3 wounded. Private John Henry Holmes, 3871, a native of Oxenhope, Yorkshire, now lies
buried in Authuile Military Cemetery in addition to being commemorated at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Oxenhope.
As Second-Lieutenant Frederick Saxby now rejoined the battalion from his
duties as Town Major of Hedauville, the 1/5th were relieved in the Salient by the 1/7th West Yorkshire's on the
morning of the 10th. Headquarters and "C" Company then proceeded to the familiar surroundings of the South Bluff,
"D" Company to Oban Avenue and "A" and "B" Companies to Mersey Street and
Rock Street and placed under the orders of the 1/8th West Yorks, their Headquarters being established at Gloucester
Post. One O/R being a casualty throughout the course of the day. One man also succumbed to wounds on this day, one Private
Victor Moxon, 5539, of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's. Victor one may surmise, had been wounded the day previously. Evacuated
along the casualty clearing line to Forceville and the 2nd West Riding Field Ambulance, it was whilst here and receiving medical
treatment that he unfortunately died. Aged 29 years and the son of the late John and his widow Sarah of Tanshelf Court, Pontefract,
Victor now lies in Forceville Communal Cemetery and its associated extension.
As fine and hot weather continued, "D" Company were engaged with the repairing of a path on the edge of
the Ancre river and the carrying of Royal Engineer stores. Captain Ronald Maxwell Wood now proceeded for duty with the Staff
of the 147th Infantry Brigade as the men of the battalion continued their work in the trenches. With one rank casualty being
sustained during the day, one man of the 1/6th West Yorks, Lance-Corporal Edgar James Wilkinson, 1266, D.C.M., was reported
as being killed in action. Edgar as recorded earlier in this commemoration, had been awarded the D.C.M. for actions on the
Canal Bank north of Ypres on the 19th of November 1915. One of three casualties sustained by the battalion during a period
of hostile shelling, Edgar, aged just 19 years, now lies in Authuile Military Cemetery.
"D" Company continued their work along with "A" and "B" Companies who set about the
repair and the cleaning up of the trenches however during the course of the day, Second-Lieutenant George Ellison, who had
only been with the battalion a few days, was wounded slightly in addition to two O/R's. Of the 1/7th Battalion holding
positions in the Salient, Rifleman John Ernest Jones, 3400, of Ashcroft Street, Bramley, Leeds, was unfortunately
killed aged 23 years. Joining the Colours almost two years previously and posted to the battalion in June 1915, prior to the
war he was employed as a Second Steward on the S.S. Sicily. Denied a known grave, John is now commemorated on the
Preparations were now made
to assist in an attack to be performed by both the 12th Division and the A.N.Z.A.C.'s to the right of the brigade front.
As both these divisions were to continue their advances towards Mouquet Farm and enemy trenches in this sector,
the 1/8th West Yorkshire's were to assist in a bombing attack, the attack being scheduled to take place at 10.30
p.m. on the 12th of August. Exact details of this bombing demonstration are unclear but as the advance of the 35th Infantry
Brigade, 12th Division was held up after making good progress, the 1/8th attacked an enemy strong-point in the line and although
not taking the position, the battalion advanced a bombing block some thirty yards along the length of the enemy trench. An
analysis of the Commonwealth War Graves Database records that on the 13th, the 1/8th West Yorkshire's losses numbered
ten men, two of which are recorded as serving with "B" Company.
Amongst their number was Rifleman Alfred Day, 4371, of 65, Monkton Street, Dewsbury Road, Hunslet, Leeds. Prior to
the war, Alfred was employed as a Milling Apprentice at one of the numerous engineering and iron works in the area. Buried
in Blighty Valley Cemetery, Authuille Wood, Alfred is also commemorated on the St. Peter's Church War Memorial, Hunslet,
Leeds. Rifleman Louis Edwin Todd, 4353 of Primrose Road, Halton, Leeds. Prior to the war, Louis was employed as a Printers
Apprentice, aged just 19 years, Louis is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in addition to commemorations at St. Mary's
Church, Whitkirk, Leeds. Sergeant George William Pemberton, 1918, M.M. George, a married man and a native of Bramley, Leeds,
was posthumously awarded the Military Medal in February 1917 (London Gazette dated 19th February 1917). The exact action for
which he received the award is unknown at present but one may surmise that his gallantry on the field of battle occurred during
one of the numerous engagements with the enemy on the Somme. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, George is also remembered
in Leeds Parish Church and on the memorial located at Bramley, Leeds.
It was on the 13th that the 1/5th Battalion relieved the 1/7th West Yorkshire's in the Salient. "C"
and "D" Companies now moved into the front line, "A" Company were placed in support whilst "B"
Company took up positions in reserve. During the evening, the line was subjected to the attentions of enemy trench mortars
(minenwerfer) whereupon heavy artillery and trench mortars replied, two men being wounded during the course of the
evening's 'hate.' This sudden barrage could have been the precursor to an attempted raid by the enemy and in front
of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's it was deemed necessary to inspect the wire. As the moon rose high in the night sky illuminating
the forward positions, Lieutenant William Gerald Tetley was hit whilst inspecting the wire, shot through the right shoulder
by an alert enemy sentry. Wounded in the head in 1915 whilst serving in the Canal Bank Sector, Ypres, he was indeed lucky
to survive once again.
As Lieutenant Terence Patrick
McQuaid, the Medical Officer of the 1/5th Battalion was relieved by Captain Robert Briffault M.B., the morning of the 14th
of August dawned with the prospect of rain. The men set about their tasks once again of improving and the repairing of trenches
as the day turned showery. An entrance to the Headquarters dug-out was also numbered amongst the work details of the day but
during the early evening the enemy once again launched a barrage of trench mortars that was duly met by a retaliatory bombardment
consisting of mortars and artillery. At 9.30 p.m., a smoke barrage was launched for the duration of thirty minutes to assist
in an attack on the right of the divisional boundary however this incurred the full wrath of the enemy who in response intensified
their barrage of mortars accompanied by artillery fire. The trench system was now subjected to a veritable maelstrom of shell
and mortar round, the 1/6th West Yorkshire's it would appear, bearing the full ferocity of yet another 'hate.'
With the trenches in parts being blown to pieces, the 1/5th suffered one casualty wounded, the 1/6th sustaining 6 men.
Amongst their number was Lance-Corporal Raistrick Fuller, 4047, of Windhill,
Shipley, employed in the textile industry. His brother, George, a married man, had fallen over a month previously whilst serving
with the 1st Bradford "Pals" on the 1st July 1916. Also numbered amongst the fallen was Lance-Corporal Alfred Helliwell,
1752, of Bromet Place, Eccleshill, Bradford, his brother Robert also having been killed on the 1st of July whilst serving
with the 1/6th West Yorkshire's. A letter published in the Shipley Times And Express dated Friday the 25th of August 1916
describes the manner of Alfred's death.
Saturday, Mr and Mrs Helliwell received the sad intelligence that Lance-Corporal Alfred Helliwell was killed by a
trench mortar on the 14th inst. This information was conveyed in a letter from Private F. Brocklehurst (Frederick Trafford
Brocklehurst, 2222, of Heaton, Bradford) of the same regiment which read: "I am awfully sorry to inform you that
your son Alfred has been killed and I tender you my deepest sympathy in this your second loss within a few weeks. I was friendly
with your son, Bob, but in Alfred I have lost one of my best pals. We were together yesterday afternoon laughing and joking
and he went back to his company about 4 p.m. Later in the evening we were rather heavily shelled, and one dropped in the midst
of Alfred and his companions killing four and wounding three others. Your son was killed instantly & would suffer no pain.
The Rev. R. Whincup (Reverend Richard Whincup, Army Chaplains Department, 49th Division) has come up into the trenches
and will bury Alfred and his comrades this evening in the neat little graveyard just behind the lines. All the boys join me
in wishing that God will give you strength to bear your second terrible bereavement."
The Rev. R. Whincup sent a sympathetic message as follows:- "I am
sorry to have to write to you again and give you such very sorrows. In fact, I scarely know how to begin, but it is best to
tell you the truth. Your son, Lance-Corporal A. Helliwell, late servant to Colonel C.E. Scott, was killed last night. It is
terribly sad for you and your family because this bereavement follows so closely upon the death of your other son out here
only six weeks ago. A trench mortar dropped in the very midst of several men, killing five and wounding several others. I
went up to the trenches this evening and Captain Oddy ( Temporary Captain James Leslie Oddy) took me to the place
where your son was killed and showed me the grave which is not very far from the spot where your dear boy fell and I conducted
the burial service. I will endeavour to have a cross with a suitable inscription erected over the grave. We all miss your
son very much indeed because he was very well known in the battalion. Personally, I saw a great deal of him because he was
connected with the headquarters staff and he treated me with every courtesy and kindness whenever I asked him to do anything
for me. I am deeply sorry for you and your family. Your son nobly responded to the call of duty and he has died fighting on
behalf of his country."
and Raistrick Fuller were both buried originally buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery located in the southern aspect of Thiepval
Wood, just to the north of Authuille. Exhumed in 1919, both Albert and Raistrick now lie in Lonsdale Cemetery, Aveluy, Somme,
for both their brothers, the dignity of a known grave was denied and both Robert and George are therefore now commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial.
|Lonsdale Cemetery, April 2012. Author.
Relief orders had been initially issued for the 146th Infantry
Brigade to "side slip" to the Left Divisional Sector and to commence a relief of the 147th Infantry Brigade.
As a consequence, the 148th Infantry Brigade would then take over the Right Divisional Sector but these orders were
eventually cancelled during the course of the following day.
The 15th of August witnessed further salvoes of enemy trench mortar bombs at intervals throughout the course of the
day inviting retaliation on four separate occasions. As the evening drew on and the prospect of rain hung in the air, at 8.50
p.m. the enemy launched a bombing attack. Although the attack was thwarted, his trench mortars caused considerable damage
to the trench system held by "C" Company on the left company front, this company spending the remainder of the night
repairing the trenches in heavy rain. Whilst this company were repairing the damage, "D" Company put out wire in
front of their trenches, no doubt damaged by the barrage of mortars that one would surmise were attempting to blow a gap in
the wire defences for a possible enemy raiding party. Casualties to the 1/5th Battalion numbered 1 Other Rank killed and 2
wounded suffering from shell shock. Private Ronald Gibson, 3814, of the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, Kirk Smeaton, Yorkshire, had
enlisted at Leeds in June 1915 and was killed at about mid-day during one of the barrages of enemy mortar rounds. Aged 26
years, prior to enlistment he was employed at Askern Colliery, Doncaster, and now lies buried in Authuile Military Cemetery.
On the 16th, the 1/8th West
Yorkshire's were relieved by the 1/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment of the 143rd Infantry Brigade, 48th (South
Midland) Division and upon relief proceeded to Martinsart Wood after suffering two men killed the day previously. Also on
the 15th, the battalion had lost a most popular officer in one Captain Sydney James Pearson of the "Hermitage,"
Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, aged 20 years. Educated at Rugby School, Sydney was about to enter on a first term at Oxford
to study law but duly enlisted upon the outbreak of the war. A keen sportsman and a follower of the Sinnington Hounds, he
succumbed to wounds received some days previously at a Field Ambulance and is now buried at Varennes Military Cemetery.
The 1/7th Warwicks now held a position on the right of the 146th Infantry
Brigade, their front extending as far as Aintree Street. With the Warwicks established in their positions, the 146th
Brigade now advanced their frontage by over 1000 yards. It is of interest to note that on the 16th, the Warwicks sent out
an officers patrol to examine the enemy's wire from map references X.1.a.4.9. - X.1.b.5.9. It was reported that
in the most part, the wire was blown to bits and there were gaps in places however some parts were described as strong and
high in places and between 15 - 20 yards thick.
Captain Charles Ellis Foulds had now returned to the 1/5th Battalion the day previously from hospital no doubt with
a warm welcome being provided by the lads from Wetherby. A fine day was in prospect and in the sector in general, the enemy
remained relatively quiet enabling the men to continue their work in repairing the trenches and putting out wire. Casualties
despite the day being reported as "quiet" numbered 3 Other Ranks wounded (shell shock), 3 Other Ranks wounded
and one man killed. Private Nathan Graham, 202524, had enlisted at Ripon into the 1st Garrison Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
in early November 1914. A resident of Thornthwaite, Darley, the Leeds Mercury dated the 24th of October 1916 reported that
he had been killed by a sniper and Nathan now lies in Authuile Military Cemetery. Lance-Corporal Alfred Laycock, 2668, of
the 1/6th West Yorkshire's had also fallen. Alfred, a native of Bradford and a married man, he now lies in "Peace
Perfect Peace" in Blighty Valley Cemetery.
An enemy aircraft was observed by the 1/7th Warwicks coming down in flames over the lines in the sector on the 17th
but it was early on the morning that the 1/5th West Yorkshire's suffered the loss of a most valuable officer. Second-Lieutenant
William Charles Seager Prest, the Battalion Bombing Officer. Joining the 5th Cavalry Reserve upon the outbreak of the war
at York, he received his commission into the West Yorkshire Regiment on the 6th of July 1915. (London Gazette dated the 17th
of July 1915). Wounded on the 7th of July, he was shot by a sniper whilst in the trenches. The Yorkshire Post dated the 24th
of August records that in a letter sent to his aunt, Colonel Bousfield remarked (he) "had done supremely well since
he joined the regiment and was muched liked by officers and men. The Colonel was personally very fond of him, and found much
in his character to admire, he being full of strength and determination." Second-Lieutenant Prest now lies in Authuile
From The Salient: Training For Operations
Now ever mindful of enemy sniper activity, the men kept watch. Later in the day, two enemy snipers revealed themselves,
one being hit and killed instantly, the fate of the other being unknown. As night fell, a reconnaisance of the enemy lines
was carried out in an attempt to secure indentification of the German unit opposite. Although unsuccessful, useful intelligence
revealed that at least at night, the enemy did not occupy has forward posts, an attractive opportunity no doubt for a potential
raid. This however was not to be performed by the West Yorkshire's as on the following day the 1/5th Battalion
were relieved by the 1st Battalion, Wiltshire's of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 25th Division. The battalion then proceeded
by route of march to the pleasant surroundings of Acheux Wood on the Albert - Doullens Road ( near Acheux-en-Amienois) along
with the 1/7th Battalion who had subsequently been relieved by the 10th Cheshire's also of the 7th Infantry Brigade respectively.
The 1/6th along with the 1/8th West Yorkshire's who would also be relieved by units of the 7th Brigade however proceeded
upon relief to Lealvillers south-west of Acheux. In addition to the infantry, both the 146th Machine Gun Company and the Trench
Mortar Brigade were also relieved, both these units also proceeding to Acheux Wood with 49th Divisional Headquarters being
established in Acheux village.
companies of the 1/5th Battalion set about checking equipment and stores, their sister battalions also began a series of inspections
and "interior economy." Second-Lieutenants George Norman Baines and Noel Goddard Terry joined the battalion
from England on the 19th whilst on the following day, the men had the chance of a welcome bath and clean clothing was obtained
and issued. Although the men were deemed to be at 'rest,' High Command had issued orders for a further offensive operation
to be conducted in the Thiepval Sector and to this end a Divisional Conference was held on Sunday the 20th of August to discuss
the aforementioned 'operation.'
Training commenced on the 21st however 160 men were detached from the 146th Brigade and assigned to the 2/1st Company,
Royal Engineers, Officer Commanding Major Alan Faber Hobson D.S.O., for duties. As a consequence, Captain Charles Ellis Foulds
and 10 men per company of the 1/5th Battalion were sent on to form part of this Brigade Composite Company that was to be temporarily
attached. Due to there being no further accommodation available at Puchevillers to billet this company, the 2/1st Company
R.E. through necessity transfered to Acheux on the following day.
On the 22nd, Second-Lieutenants William Jeffkins Holdich and Terence Dermott Cole Gilsenan joined the battalion
from England as training continued in bayonet fighting, close and extended order drill and the continuation of specialist
training. A 'Flagged Course' was duly constructed at Lealvillers consisting of 'tapes' representing enemy
trenches to assist in the training programme. On the 23rd, both the 1/6th and the 1/8th Battalions, West Yorkshire Regiment,
practiced a simulated attack over the trenches, the latter representing the enemy trench system near St. Pierre Divion, this
'attack' being observed by Headquarters and Company Commanders of the 1/5th Battalion. The simulation was repeated
again on the following day assisted by men of both "A" and "B" Companies of the 1/5th as both "C"
and "D" Companies respectively continued their programme of training. At 2.15 p.m., an inspection commenced by the
Medical Officer, Captain Briffault R.A.M.C. of men whose names had been submitted by Company Commanders who were deemed to
be unfit for general service with the battalion. Upon completion of this inspection, a roll was compiled to be sent forward
to higher command recommending that these men continue their military service with a Labour Battalion. Possibly to offset
this downturn in strength, 32 Other Ranks joined the 1/5th from the 1/6th Battalion. As they are recorded in the War Diary
as "32 OR of 1/5th Battn." one can only presume that either these men had been on attachment or it was
in fact an inter-battalion draft, not an uncommon occurrence in the weeks and months previously.
The Return To Thiepval
Operation Orders were now issued for an impending move back to the Thiepval
Sector to prepare for forthcoming operations and as a consequence, on the 26th of August, the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment (in Brigade), proceeded by route of march at 10 a.m. to Forceville. With dinner taken at the latter place, the battalion
continued their march accompanied by the 1/7th Battalion, 146th Machine Gun Company and the 146th Trench Mortar Battery to
Hedauville where they waited in the grounds of the Chateau de Hedauville in heavy rain until further orders were received.
Upon receipt of orders, the 1/5th Battalion now proceeded to commence a relief of the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers,
74th Infantry Brigade, 25th Division, the relief commencing at about 5 p.m. and being completed without incident at about
10.45 p.m. despite heavy artillery fire. (Authors note: War Diary incorrectly states the 11th Loyal North Lancs.). The 1/7th
Battalion also began to move into the line taking over the Right Sector Of Thiepval Trenches (Johnstone's Post) relieving
the outgoing 13th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, 74th Infantry Brigade respectively at about 6 p.m. During the relief however,
the Cheshire's were caught in the enemy barrage and confined in the communication trenches as they exited the sector,
they suffered 5 O/R's killed and a further 14 wounded. Of the 1/7th West Yorkshire's, two casualties were also sustained,
Sergeant Arthur Wheelhouse, 731, and Captain Robert Salter.
Arthur Wheelhouse, the eldest son of Wilson and Ellen Wheelhouse of Cottage Road, Far Headingley, Leeds, had been
killed aged 34 years. A House Painter by trade, he was originally buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery located in the southern
aspect of Thiepval Wood. His body exhumed after the war, he now lies in Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille, the inscription on his
headstone chosen by his family simply reads "He Gave His Life That We Might Live." His brother, Wilson
Myers Wheelhouse, who resided at Wentworth Terrace, Wetherby, for an unknown period of time, would also serve with the Army
Service Corps. Commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant into the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) in January 1918, he would survive
the conflict. Another brother, Ralph, would also receive a commission into the West Riding Royal Garrison Artillery and rise
to the rank of Lieutenant in 1919. He too would survive the war.
Robert Salter, a native of Pudsey near Leeds, had received his commission into the West Yorkshire Regiment in 1909.
Educated at Fulneck School, Pudsey and Repton, Derbyshire, Robert steadily rose up the chain of command and attained the rank
of Captain in July of 1914. Before the outbreak of the war he was employed in his father's business, Messrs. Salter &
Salter, Boot & Shoe Manufacturers. Wounded in July 1915 and hospitalised at Boulogne with a shrapnel wound to his left
leg that damaged his tibia, upon recovery he was eventually posted back to the battalion in June 1916. Aged just 26 years
at the time of his death, Captain Robert Salter was also originally buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery and upon exhumation
he too now lies in Lonsdale Cemetery, the inscription on his headstone reading "All Honour Give To Those Who Nobly
Striving Nobly Fell That We Might Live."
The 1/6th West Yorkshire's now also proceeded forward and commenced a relief of the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles also
of the 74th Infantry Brigade, this being completed at about 7 p.m. whilst also subjected to heavy enemy shelling. As this
battalion settled into positions at the North Bluff, Authuille, a dug-out occupied by men of "A" Company
was blown in resulting in the deaths of 5 men and the wounding of 4 others including Company Sergeant Major Harry Banks, D.C.M.
An analysis of the Commonwealth War Graves Database reveals that four men were unfortunately killed during the explosion of
the enemy shell. Amongst their number was one Corporal Albert Edward Lennon, 2468, of Belle Vue, Town Lane, Idle, Bradford,
aged 24 years. Joining the 1/6th Battalion soon after the outbreak of the war, "Bert" had received his second stripe
in June 1916 and was noted for his smart appearance and enthusiasm in all his duties. It was remarked that upon the removal
of his lifeless body from the wreckage of the dug-out, he had a smile on his face as though asleep. (Source: Shipley Times
and Express dated 15th September 1916). Popular with his comrades, he now lies in Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump),
27th of August, the 1/8th West Yorkshire's made preparations to commence a relief in the Thiepval Sector. Proceeding by
route of march from Lealvillers, the battalion halted at Hedauville for dinner before entering the line to commence the relief
of the 9th Battalion, Loyal North Lancs. Either during the relief or the course of the remainder of the day, Rifleman William
Alfred Dickinson, 4607, was killed. An analysis of the serial number issued to William indicates enlistment in October 1915
into the 3/8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. A Third Line Territorial battalion, his initial service was conducted a
Clipstone Camp near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, before he was drafted to the front at some period in 1916. A married man with
one child and a resident of 9, Far Royd Place, Wortley, Leeds, before the war he was employed by Messrs. Heaton's (Ltd.),
of North Street, Leeds. Aged 28 years, William was originally buried by his comrades in Gordon Castle Cemetery, his body being
exhumed in 1919. William now lies in Connaught Cemetery, not far from where he originally fell.
The 146th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division were now disposed
1/7th West Yorkshire's
Thiepval Avenue - R.25.c.5.8. inclusive
1/5th West Yorkshire's R.25.c.5.8 (exclusive) - R.19.c.1.3.
1/8th West Yorkshire's Thence To Ancre River
1/6th West Yorkshire's (Reserve) At North Bluff
As medium trench mortars and artillery continued a programme of wire
cutting, the composite company including Captain Foulds and his detachment were engaged on the construction of assembly trenches
off Sandy Avenue for the use of the Engineers and their attached infantry in forthcoming operations. As other detachments
formed carrying parties and constructed dumps, the trenches were virtually impassable due to heavy rainfall in the days previously.
With some trenches ankle deep in mud, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were now relieved from their portion of the line by the
1/6th West Riding Regiment of the 147th Infantry Brigade, this relief being completed in daylight by 1.45 p.m. Moving to their
left to take over the trenches from the 1/8th West Yorkshire's, the latter now proceeded to Hedauville and billets. The
1/7th West Yorkshire's were also relieved by the 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 148th Infantry Brigade,
whereupon the 1/7th Battalion proceeded to Martinsart Wood. With the 1/5th West Yorkshire's now occupying positions in
the line from Sandy Avenue to the Ancre river, the chronology of events as they transpired on the 28th of August
are somewhat unclear however the War Diary of the 1/5th K.O.Y.L.I. records that on completion of the relief of the 1/7th West
Yorkshire's at 4 p.m., a "lively artillery duel commenced & continued for 2 hours."
The various units that comprised the 146th Infantry Brigade suffered 10 casualties
killed on the 28th. Apart from the 1/5th Battalion who were in positions in the line, the remainder were in positions of 'relative
safety.' It is of the Authors own personal opinion that at least 9 of these men were killed whilst attached to the Composite
Company formed for the Royal Engineers, the War Diaries of the respective units recording no casualties on the day in question.
An analysis of the War Diary of the 2/1st Field Company however records, as regards individuals, that " Major A.F.
Hobson D.S.O. was killed by a shell splinter whilst working on front line (in front of THIEPVAL WOOD)." Also severely
wounded by the same shell was Captain Foulds, attached from the 1/5th West Yorkshire's.
Alan Faber Hobson had only been gazetted the award of the Distinguished Service
Order some days previously, the first to be awarded to a member of the West Riding Engineers. Educated at St. Andrew's
School, Eastbourne and a former member of the Rugby School's Officer Training Corps, prior to the war he had graduated
in mechanical science tripos at Caius College, Cambridge, before securing a commission into the West Riding Division in September
1914. Serving with the West Riding Engineers on the front since June 1915 with the rank of Captain, he was promoted to command
the Company in July 1915 aged 22 years. In that same month at Ypres, his brother, Leslie Faber Hobson, had also been killed
whilst serving as a Second-Lieutenant with the 1/4th York & Lancaster Regiment aged just 19 years. As regards the exact
circumstances surrounding the Major's death, the Royal Engineers Adjutant of the division wrote to his father, Alderman
Albert John Hobson, a former Lord Mayor of Sheffield:-
"He was up at the front working as usual - he never did anything else but work and try to make people happy
- and got hit in the neck by a piece of shell, and died whilst they were taking him to the dressing station . . Alan was one
of the finest men I've ever met, just as brave and fearless as a man can be." (Sheffield Daily Independent,
2nd of September, 1916).
Charles Ellis Foulds, the young officer from the original Wetherby Station of the 5th West Yorkshire's, had also suffered
terrible injuries from the explosion of the same artillery shell. Evacuated to the dressing station, he was eventually passed
down the casualty clearing line to a hospital in Boulogne where the true extent of his wounds soon became apparent. Hit by
six to eight pieces of shell casing in the right shoulder that also resulted in the compound fracture of the right arm, it
was at first thought that he would have to lose this limb but the latter was fortunately not the case.
In Other Ranks, the 1/5th Battalion had lost two men, Corporal Richard Barrett,
2253, attached 146th Brigade Machine Gun Company, and Private Ernest Richard Brown, 3939. Corporal Barrett, of 46, Electric
Avenue, New Park, Harrogate, had been killed aged just 19 years. A member of Number 4 Section, Richard now lies in Hamel Military
Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel. Private Brown, of Bradley Avenue, Castleford, had been drafted to the 1/5th Battalion in 1916. Possibly
a member of the Composite Company, Ernest's body could not be identified after the war, therefore this young man aged
22 years is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Amongst the 8 Other Rank casualties was Rifleman Edward Penny, 5011, 1/7th West Yorkshire's (Leeds Rifles). A
married man with four children, the family resided at 61, Bayswater Road, Harehills, Leeds, and prior to the war, Edward had
been employed as a Printer/Compositor. About 42 years of age when he was unfortunately killed, Edward is also commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial. Rifleman Joseph Johnson, 4140, 1/7th Battalion, was also unfortunately killed. A resident of Grange
Street, Wellington Road, Leeds, prior to the war he had been employed at Shearwood's Dyeworks, New Wortley. Joseph now
lies along with other men who were killed on this day in Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart.
It is at this point of the commemoration that we will take a look at the
line in this part of the Thiepval Sector. With impending operations due to be launched from the vicinity of the northern aspect
of Thiepval Wood, two forward lines of trenches, i.e. forward of the original British front line, had been constructed by
the 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Attached to the 147th Infantry Brigade between the 2nd - 8th of August,
one parallel (First Parallel) had been constructed halfway across the Old No Man's Land between the wood and
Mill Road, the other parallel (Second Parallel), being constructed on the southern bank of Mill Road (Sunken
Road) respectively. Work was also continued by the 1/5th York & Lancaster's however digging the Second Parallel
resulted in numerous casualties and between the 10th - 17th of August, the battalion suffered 3 officers either killed
or wounded and 59 O/R's killed or wounded. A Third Parallel also existed to the north-east of the wood from which
a forward Sap had been constructed and designated East KOYLI. To the west, a similar Sap, West KOYLI,
eminated out northwards across the First and Second Parallels towards an enemy position in their front
line referred to as the Pope's Nose. With the offensive operation due to commence on the 31st of August, both
in the front and rear lines, there was feverish activity as carrying parties moved forward stores and other materiel.
It is of no exageration to state that before the operation had even commenced, the men were suffering from extreme exhaustion.
|Extract Of Trench Map, Beaumont, Edition 4. A, 57D, S.E.2., Dated 17th Feb. 1917
Upon moving into the line on the 28th, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's
were distributed with "C" and "D" Companies in the front line, "B" Company in support positions
at Speyside and "A" Company in reserve at Paisley Avenue. With Headquarters established at Gordon
Castle, "A" Company sent up one Lewis gun to support "D" Company. On the following day, the trenches,
both Parallels and Gordon Castle were heavily shelled during the afternoon. "A" Company were moved
up from the reserve during the course of the day, 3 Platoons being sent to Gordon Castle whilst 1 Platoon was sent
to "D" Company at Speyside. During the course of this enemy artillery barrage, Company Sergeant Major Edward
Elisha Iredale, M.M., 1588, was killed.
Acting Sergeant Major Iredale was the third son of Mr. Charles Iredale of Hodgson's Yard, Tadcaster. Active in
the Sunday School at Tadcaster Wesleyan Chapel, prior to the war he was employed at The Brewery. Posthumously awarded the
Military Medal ("Who have been killed in action or died of wounds or disease subsequent to the date of the award."),
London Gazette, February 1917, Edward had been hit by a piece of shell casing during the course of the enemy artillery barrage.
Aged 19 years, Edward was originally buried at Gordon Castle Cemetery but after exhumation, he now lies at peace in Connaught
Cemetery, Thiepval. The inscription on his headstone reads, "He Died For Us." (Authors note: One of three
brothers to answer their country's call; William, Royal Engineers and Charles, serving with the R.A.M.C. William would
survive the conflict but unfortunately Charles would die, presumably of sickness, in Salonika in October 1918).
The 1/6th West Yorkshire's had also suffered two casualties during the
bombardment, Private Richard Holgate, 1471, and Private Harry Naylor, 4376. Richard Holgate, a native of the North Wing District
of Bradford, had originally enlisted at Bradford and was posted to the battalion in July 1915 (Medal Index Card states posting
overseas on the 30th June). Killed in action, the exact position of his grave was lost, however Robert is now commemorated
in Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart in the form of a 'Special Memorial.'
Private Harry Naylor was also a draft to the battalion. A native of Bradford
and a resident in premises located in Otley Road, Harry was drafted to the Western Front in December 1915. Succumbing to wounds
received during the enemy bombardment, he too is buried in Aveluy Wood Cemetery.
During the night of the 29th/30th of August, the 1/6th West Yorkshire's
were heavily engaged on various fatigues including the placing of ladders in the Parallels under the direction of
Major Robert Clough. As a precursor to offensive operations, 146th Brigade Headquarters under the command of Brigadier-General
Michael Derwas Goring-Jones C.M.G. now moved from their positions at Paisley Avenue to Railway View located
to the east of Mesnil. On the 30th of August however, the date of the offensive operation was suspended, the 1/6th West Yorkshire's
remaining engaged on fatigues, the 1/7th Battalion in positions at Martinsart Wood whilst the 1/8th Battalion remained in
billets at Hedauville. Of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's, the Battalion Bombers established an advanced post in West KOYLI
as the trenches were intermittently shelled throughout the course of the day resulting in three casualties wounded. The
1/6th Battalion also suffered two men killed, Private James Rayner, 4458, and Edgar Stephenson Holmes, 3940.
James Rayner, a married man of Tumbling Hill Street, Bradford, had enlisted
at Bradford in August 1915. Drafted to the battalion in May 1916, he was killed in action aged 36 years and now lies in Aveluy
Wood Cemetery. Edgar Holmes, originally a resident of Tyersal, Bradford, had also enlisted at Bradford in 1915. Possibly also
a member of the draft to the battalion in May (draft numbering 3 officers and 130 Other Ranks), Edgar, of "C" Company
was originally thought to be buried to the north of Gordon Castle in an isolated grave located at Q.30.b.1.5.
Although the grave was marked by a cross, upon exhumation in 1921, no body was found. It appears that his body had been
recovered in 1919 during an earlier battlefield clearance, Edgar, aged about 19 years, now lies in Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval.
After the heavy rain of the
previous days, the men set about the clearing and the repairing of the trenches. Mortars and artillery continued their programmes
of wire cutting with little interference from enemy artillery who confined his activities to the desultory shelling of communication
trenches but despite this, the 1/5th Battalion suffered two O/R's wounded. As working and carrying parties continued,
a plethora of orders were now issued or ammended as regards future operations. With the men now straining every sinew just
to keep going, many were reaching the limits of their own endurance. The 2/1st West Riding Field Company now under the command
of Lieutenant Ernest Jackson reported that their work was completed on the assembly trenches at Sandy Slits, and
as a consequence of the postponement of operations, the men received orders to prepare for a kit inspection.
Operation Order No. 68. 146th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding)
Division: The Attack Astride The Ancre River, 3rd September, 1916
Issued on the 1st of September 1916 and cancelling Operation Order No.
67 , Paragraph '2' stated that:
"The 49th and the 39th Divisions will assault the German lines astride the R. ANCRE simultaneously at zero
hour on Z day.
hour will be notified later. It will be about dawn.
The objectives of 39th Division is the German trench from Q.18.b.1/2.2. - Q.17.b.5.8.
4th/5th Royal Highlanders under orders of 116th Infantry Brigade will
form a defensive flank from Q.18.b.1/2.2. to join up with the left flank of 49th Division on the R. ANCRE."
(Authors note: The attack of the 39th Division would be launched
on the right flank (western bank of the Ancre) by the 116th Infantry Brigade, the two leading battalion's being the 11th
Royal Sussex on the right, and the 14th Hampshire Regiment on their left respectively. To the latter battalions left, the
117th Infantry Brigade would launch their attack with the right being assaulted by the 16th Battalion, Rifle Brigade along
with the 17th Sherwood Foresters on their left flank. 116th Infantry Brigade would have only the 13th Royal Sussex in support
due to a significant lack of manpower and with no reserve being available, 117th Brigade however would have as support and
reserve, the 17th King's Royal Rifle Corps and the 16th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters.
The German trench system in this sector had initially been an objective of
one half of the 108th Infantry Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division on the 1st of July with disastrous consequences. The topography
of the landscape dictated that any attacking force, crossing No Man's Land on the western bank of the Ancre river, would
have to cross a deep gully with steep sides before even reaching the enemy front line positions. The strength of the enemy's
position to be frank, had been underestimated and attempts to shorten the distance from the British front line had ensued
resulting in the construction of a forward line, Gordon Trench, and a second line, Roberts Trench, these
trenches being connected to the Original British Front Line south of a forward fortified position in the line known as Mary
|Attack Frontage Of The 39th Division
|Extract Of France, Edition 2B, Sheet 57D, S.E. Dated 28th April 1916
Operation Order No. 68 continues:-
"The objective of the 49th Division for the operation of 3rd September is the German front and support lines;
the front line from R.19.c.8.4 (inclusive) to R. ANCRE; the support line from R.19.c.9.5 (inclusive) to R. ANCRE.
4. 147th Infantry Brigade will be the Right assaulting Brigade; 146th
Infantry Brigade will be the Left assaulting Brigade.
The objectives of the assault are:-
147th Brigade Front line from R.19.c.84 (inclusive) to R.19.c.16 (inclusive).
Support line from R.19.c.9.5 (inclusive) to R.19.c.3.8 (inclusive).
146th Brigade Front line from R.19.c.16 (exclusive) to R. ANCRE.
Support line from R.19.c.38 (exclusive) to R. ANCRE.
5. (a) 147th Infantry Brigade will form a strong defensive flank on the line R.19.c.84 - 9.5 - 8.6.
In addition, bombing posts will be pushed out by Brigades immediately
after the capture of the support line as follows:-
By 147th Brigade along the communication trenches -
(i) From R.19.c.8.4 to R.19.c.82.26.
(ii) From R.19.c.9.5 to R.19.c.98.38, but not to enter the network of trenches East of those points. Also for
at least 100 yards along both the communication trenches -
(iii) From R.19.c.8.6 towards R.19.d.19.
(iv) From R.19.c.3.8 towards R.19.a.6.3.
(b) By 146th Brigade along the communication trenches -
(i) From Q.24.b.9.0 to R.19.a.0.4.
(ii) From Q.24.b.5.4 to ST. PIERRE DIVION, for at least 100 yards in both cases.
6. 148th Infantry Brigade (less one battalion, two companies, and any
part of 148th Stokes Mortar Battery which may be required to help 25th Division in an operation on the 3rd September) will
be in Divisional Reserve in MARTINSART WOOD. (Authors note: 25th Division to attack north of the Leipzig Salient).
H.Q. 148th Infantry Brigade will be
at the Advanced Divisional Report Centre, Q.31.b.8.8.
One battalion 148th Infantry Brigade is under orders of 147th Infantry Brigade, to hold the Divisional front
from THIEPVAL AV. (exclusive) to the right of 147th Infantry Brigade. (Authors note: 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light
Infantry, holding the line Thiepval Avenue - Oblong Wood).
7. (i) Troops will move into position for assault during the hours of darkness of the night 2/3rd September.
(ii) The dividing line
between Brigades in assault parallels is a line through Q.24.d.8.1 and Q.24.d.9.3.
(iii) Crossings of R. ANCRE and communication trenches are allotted as follows:-
(a) From 8 p.m. 2nd September to zero hour:
To 147th Brigade.- All crossings of R. ANCRE south of SOUTH CAUSEWAY
.. ULSTER AV.; and all communication trenches East of ULSTER AV.
To 146th Brigade.- SOUTH CAUSEWAY and all crossings North of SOUTH CAUSEWAY; NEW OUT from SOUTH CAUSEWAY to SANDY
AV.; CROMARTY AV.;
From zero hour onwards:
147th Brigade.- INNISKILLING AV. for up traffic.
To 146th Brigade.- CROMARTY AV. for up traffic.
To both Brigades.- ELGIN AV. for down traffic.
To both Brigades.- SANDY AV. for evacuation.
8. (i) At zero hour, the Divisional artillery and attached 18-pr. Brigades will open an intense barrage on the
German front and support lines on the front of attack.
(ii) The barrage will lift from the front line at zero plus 3 minutes.
It will lift from the support line
at zero plus 8 minutes.
(i) At zero hour, the attacking infantry will advance to the assault of the objective under cover of, and as close as possible
to, the 18-pr. barrage.
(ii) The infantry will advance to the assault in the shallow formations decided at Conference and practised in attack rehearsals.
(iii) Clearing-up parties
will be specially detailed to clear dug-outs of the enemy, with bombs (MILLS or STOKES) and the bayonet. Dug-outs must be
preserved to provide cover for our garrison. No "P" bombs or any other incendiary bomb will be thrown into the dug-out.
(Authors note: "P" Bomb, a phosphorus bomb, typically used for the destruction of dug-outs, sometimes used
in conjunction with a can of petrol).
(iv) Troops detailed for the capture of each line will begin to consolidate the line immediately thay have captured it.
10. Heavy artillery , in addition to 18-prs., will fire, within limits
of safety, on:-
Trench system R.25.b.40.95 - 15.90 - R.19.c. 85.20 - R.19.d.05.30.
Trench system forming south front of SCHWABEN REDOUBT.
ST. PIERRE DIVION,
zero for a period which will be notified - probably one hour; and subsequently at intervals throughout the day.
11. (i) The following strong points will be made:-
By 147th Brigade.- R.19.c.8.4; 5.4; 2.5; 9.5;
By 146th Brigade.- R.19.c. 1/2.6; Q.24.b.2.1; R.19.c.0.9; Q.24.b.9.0; 7.2; and 5.3.
(ii) The following troops will be at the disposal
of Infantry Brigade Commanders for making strong points (Authors note: 147th Brigade, G.O.C., Temporary Brigadier-General
Edward Fitzgerald Brereton, C.B., D.S.O. and G.O.C. 146th Brigade, Temporary Brigadier-General Michael Derwas Goring Jones,
Brigade.- 3 Sections 57th Field Co. R.E.
160 Infantry attached (from 147th Bde.).
Brigade.- 2 Sections 2/1st W.R. Field Co. R.E.
160 Infantry attached from 146th Brigade).
(iii) C.R.E. will issue orders for the movement of those parties into assembly trenches. Infantry Brigade Commanders
will give them orders direct when to leave assembly trenches and begin work.
(iv) When strong points are so far completed that Infantry Brigade commanders
are satisfied that they are fit to be occupied by infantry garrisons, the R.E. personnel detailed for their construction will
be returned by Infantry Brigade Commanders into Divisional Reserve; and Infantry Brigade Commanders will report accordingly
to Divisional H.Q.
Special parties, amounting to two companies 148th Infantry Brigade, and detachments from 19th Lancashire Fusrs., have been
detailed to open up old, and dig new communication trenches from the British lines to the objective after capture.
Movements and work of these parties will be regulated in the same manner
as those of parties detailed to make strong points.
(Authors Note: 19th (Service) Battalion, (3rd Salford's), Lancashire Fusiliers, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel
John Malise Ann Graham D.S.O., joined the 49th (West Riding) Division as Pioneers at Forceville on the 6th of August, taking
over duties as such from the 3rd Monmouths on the following day).
13. Mortars placed in position by Special Brigade R.E. under Lieut. STRANGE R.E., at HAMMERHEAD SAP, R.25.a.6.4,
and MAISON GRIS SAP, R.25.c.4. 1/2. 3 1/2. will bombard with gas cylinders and ammonal bombs suspected machine-gun emplacements
within range, commencing at zero plus 1 minute.
Gas cylinders will NOT be thrown if the wind is north of west or south of south west.
Lieut. STRANGE will synchronize watches with 147th Infantry Brigade.
(Authors note: Lieutenant Henry George Latimer Strange).
14. Instructions issued under G.a. 470/38 and Q.1532 still hold good.
15. Divisional Report Centre will be at the Dug-out Q.31.b.8.8
on ENGELBELMER - MARTINSART road from 10 p.m. 2nd September."
As one can determine, the operation orders were lengthy and include many ammendments. An even more objective view
can be ascertained by reading the individual War Diaries of the units involved themselves, complex and at times finely detailed.
We will however examine the outcome of each unit during the attack and their successes and failures in due course but it is
now that we turn to the first days of the month of September and the final preparations for the attack to be launched on the
German "A" Lines to the north of Thiepval Wood.
|War Diary, 19th Lancashire Fusiliers, T.N.A., WO95/2785/1
all routes to the front line and respective positions to be taken up in the Parallels reconnoitered by Company and
Platoon Commanders, the 1/6th West Yorkshire's, Officer Commanding Major Robert Arthur Hudson, maintained their positions
at the North Bluff, Authuille, the 1/8th Battalion, Officer Commanding Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel James Whitelaw
Alexander D.S.O., remaining in billets at Hedauville. Of the 1/7th Battalion, Officer Commanding Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel
Charles Harold Tetley, they were located in Martinsart Wood in reserve whilst the 1/5th West Yorkshire's, Officer Commanding
Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Delabere Bousfield D.S.O., occupied positions in the Gordon Castle Trenches from
Sandy Avenue to the Ancre river.
note: All Officers ranks prior to publication and confirmation at later dates in the London Gazette; Hudson, Temp. Col. 1st
August 1916, L.G. dated 26th September 1916, Alexander, confirmed in rank of Colonel, 21st October 1916, L.G. dated 2nd December
1916, Tetley, Temp. Col. 23rd September 1916, confirmed in rank of Colonel, 7th November 1916, L.G. dated 2nd December 1916
and Bousfield, confirmed in rank of Colonel, 15th July 1917 and with precedence from 1st June 1916, L.G. dated 19th October
On the 1st of September, the
1/5th West Yorkshire's continued their work of improving and clearing of the communication trenches that had been damaged
by enemy artillery fire. During the course of the day, the front line companies, "A" and part of "B" Companies
respectively were withdrawn from their posts in the Parallels, as artillery, mortars and machine guns continued their
efforts in attempting to cut the enemy's barbed wire defences. German artillery were also reasonably active but fortunately
only one O/R of the 1/5th Battalion was wounded however one Other Rank of the battalion attached to the 146th Infantry Brigade
Machine Gun Company succumbed to wounds at Number 3 Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers.
Private Albert Townend, 2403, a married man and a native of Louth, Lincolnshire,
Albert had relocated to Harrogate at some period after 1911 and had found employment at the firm of Messrs. John Fowler &
Sons, Coach Builders. Residing in premises located in Lime Street, Albert had enlisted at Harrogate in August 1914. Posted
to the 146th Brigade Machine Gun Company, an entry in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, Volume 4, records that Albert
had died of wounds received the day previously, possibly due to desultory shell fire. Buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery,
Albert is also commemorated on the Harrogate Cenotaph.
Movement To Assembly Positions: 146th Brigade
On the 2nd, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were still in their positions holding the line, companies in the forward
positions being withdrawn as a precautionary measure as the programme of wire cutting continued apace. At 4.30 p.m., one platoon
of "A" Company was withdrawn from Speyside to a position at Gordon Castle in addition to the company's
The 1/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment now began to proceed forward to Aveluy Wood, orders stipulating that the battalion had to be clear of the North
Bluff by 3 p.m. in the afternoon. (Authors note: War Diary WO95/2794/2, Brigade Diary however states start time as 3
p.m. and to be clear of North Bluff by 4.30 p.m. WO95/2792/4). The area was subjected to heavy enemy artillery fire
along the Bluff and Authuille Bridge as the battalion made their way to their assembly trenches in the north-east
corner of Aveluy Wood resulting in the wounding of three N.C.O.'s and the mortal wounding of Captain James Leslie Oddy.
Born in June 1894 at Birkenshaw near Bradford,
James was the only son of Sir John James Oddy and his wife Marion. Educated at Roscoe's School, Harrogate and at Repton,
Derbyshire, he found employment with his father's firm, James Oddy Junior, Worsted Manufacturers, Moorland Mills, Birkenshaw.
Receiving a commission as a Second-Lieutenant in the West Yorkshire Regiment in May 1912 and formerly a member of the Repton
O.T.C., he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in April 1914. Rising to the rank of Temporary Captain in June 1915 and
posted overseas with the 1/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment in division in April of that year, Oddy was wounded in the
thigh by a shell fragment on the 4th of July 1916 whilst in command of "A" Company. Returning to his duties after
a brief period of hospitalisation, James suffered mortal wounds as the battalion made their way forward to the assembly positions.
Evacuated to Warloy-Baillon, he died at the Field Ambulance. An extract of a newspaper article contained in the pages of the
Yorkshire Post dated the 12th of September quotes part of a letter sent to his grieving parents at the Old Hall, Ilkley, by
"We all had the highest
respect and love for him; he was always cheerful and without fear. He was hit by a shell just as he was moving out with his
company preparatory to taking his part in a big operation. His loyalty and devotion to duty were truly wonderful, and he again
and again, after being wounded, apologised to me for being prevented from taking his part in what he then knew lay before
us. I saw him for the last time as he was placed in the motor and spoke to him. Always unselfish, he did not even then think
of himself, but shook my hand and wished us luck. Out here we quickly learn a man's worth, and we knew then that we had
lost one whom we could ill spare."
|Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery & Extension
|Author: April 2011
At Hedauville, the 1/8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment made
final preparations for their march to the Thiepval Sector. Taking to the route of march at 4 p.m. with platoons at five minute
intervals, the battalion journeyed via Bouzincourt and onto Martinsart Wood whereupon the last platoon was detailed to clear
the wood at 5 p.m. Marching via Northumberland Avenue to the south of Martinsart Wood and onto Pioneer Road running
northwards to the west of Aveluy Wood, the battalion arrived at their assembly positions in the north-east corner
of Aveluy Wood at around 7 p.m. Orders stipulated that no smoke was to be shown however battalions if they so wished, could
bring up their cookers after dark and make arrangements to provide the men with a hot meal. (Authors note: Brigade War Diary
states north-west corner of the Wood for both the 1/6th and the 1/8th Battalions. Operation Order No. 13. states north-east,
1/8th occupying assembly positions at W.5.a.5.4., directly due west of Authuille).
Of the 1/7th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, although they would remain
in reserve during the attack, they too also moved forward to assembly positions in the "A" Group Assembly Trenches
located in Aveluy Wood. Following the same route as that taken by the 1/8th Battalion and departing Martinsart Wood at
3 p.m., platoons departed at five minute intervals and with the last platoon scheduled to leave the Wood at 4.30 p.m., the
battalion arrived or was due to arrive in their positions at 5 p.m. (Authors note: Brigade War Diary states arrival at 6.30
p.m. "A" Group Assembly Trenches located at square W.5.a.3.9., source, War Diary 1/5th Duke of
Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), T.N.A. WO95/2800/2).
The 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, were now tasked with holding the line preparatory to the occupation
of both the 1/6th and the 1/8th Battalions. Prior to the assaulting battalions moving into the Parallels, "D"
Company were ordered put out eight standing patrols in front of the Second Parallel to cover the assembly of the
attackers, orders stipulating that they were to hold their positions until the units were in position. Once the assaulting
battalions were in the Parallels, the 1/5th, would withdraw both "A" and "B" Companies to assembly
trenches located at Gordon Castle, whilst "D" Company with its attachment of Bombers and four Lewis guns
would remain to hold the Old British Front Line from Sandy Avenue to the Ancre river. Prior to the assault,
"C" Company would also be withdrawn from the line to dug-outs located at Gordon Castle, Battalion Headquarters
also being established at the latter position. The 1/5th West Yorkshire's would also detail officers to ensure that both
Sandy and Cromarty Avenues were clear to enable free movement to the lines.
Assembly Of The 147th Brigade
It is now that we will turn our attentions to the assembly of the attacking
units of the 147th Infantry Brigade, the 1/4th and the 1/5th West Riding's respectively.
After being relieved from the Thiepval Sector in mid August by the 74th Infantry
Brigade of the 25th Division, the 1/4th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) proceeded into billets
located at Raincheval to the south-east of Doullens. The battalion set about training for the forthcoming attack under the
watchful eyes of the Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Geoffrey St. Aubyn, attached, King's Royal Rifle Corps,
practice attacks being made on specially constructed trenches Arqueves.
On the 25th of August, the Divisional Commander, Major-General Edward Maxwell Perceval, C.B., D.S.O., received a
most distinguished visitor in the form of General Sir Douglas Haig, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.I.E. and A.D.C. General to the King.
Despite some earlier criticism of some men of the division, General Haig issued the following message to the men of the 49th
(West Riding) Division:-
do not think that any troops could have fought better than the 49th WR has always fought. I am proud to have you under my
27th, the battalion proceeded by route of march to Forceville, Colonel St. Aubyn unfortunately reporting sick and transferred
to base, Major James Walker D.S.O. now assuming command of the battalion. As the men continued their programme of training
at Forceville and final checks of stores and equipment were made, the 1/4th Dukes proceeded by route of march to Martinsart
Wood which was reached at about 5.30 p.m. in the early evening of the 2nd of September.
Akin to the 1/4th Battalion, the 1/5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's
(West Riding Regiment, Officer Commanding Lieuteant-Colonel Hugh Aurio Stanton Stanton D.S.O., were relieved on the 19th of
August by the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, 25th Division, and proceeded by route of march to billets located at Raincheval.
Also initiating a programme of training that included a practice attack over 'taped' ground at Clairfaye to the north-west
of Varennes that represented the attack area, the battalion moved by march to camp located at Forceville on the 27th of August
and arrived no doubt tired and wet due to the inclement weather. The wet weather curtailed somewhat further outdoor trainining
however time was spent making final preparations for the forthcoming offensive operations. On the 30th of August, Major-General
Perceval visited the battalion to offer a gift, a sprig of white heather, the personal gift of the G.O.C., Sir Douglas Haig
to bring them good luck in the attack. Departing Forceville at 5.30 p.m. in the early evening of the 2nd of September, the
Duke's took to the march and proceeded to Martinsart Wood where a hot meal was served, for many, the last decent meal
they would ever eat.
relieved on the 19th of August were the 1/6th Battalion, Dukes's, Officer Commanding Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Charles
Malcolm Bateman D.S.O. Marching to Forceville, the relief was not without incident however as Private Willie Duncan Horsman,
4191, a native of Addingham and a soldier with "B" Company, was wounded in the leg and back by the explosion of
a rifle grenade. Proceeding into billets located at Lealvillers on the following day, the battalion set about reorganising
and training before moving back to billets at Forceville on the 27th of the month. Conducting a relief of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's
on the 28th in the Centre Sector of Thiepval Wood on the 28th, the battalion's frontage stretched from the south-west
corner of Oblong Wood to Union Street and from the latter to Sandy Avenue respectively.
As the weather deterioated with heavy rain, the trench systems within and
around the wood became virtually impassable and added to this was the constant attentions of the enemy's artillery. Added
to this maelstrom of metal, gas shells fell around the Hammerhead Sap position on the 29th but it was ultimately
artillery that caused the deaths of three men with one man being "accidently killed by rifle bullet." (Authors
note: Corporal Frederick Taylor, 6/3076, a native of Silsden and a soldier in "D" Company aged 22 years. Originally
buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery, his body was exhumed in 1921 and Frederick now lies in peace at Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille).
Casualties mounted steadily
as heavy calibre British artillery continued a systematic bombardment of the ruins of Thiepval village and its associated
enemy trench systems. One man, Private George Senior, 5757, of "D" Company and a native of Huddersfield, had a miraculous
escape from death. As one British shell detonated, a piece of shell casing weighing between 8 and 9 lbs. flew back across
the line striking George. Wounded in the leg, the true extent of his injuries is unknown however due to wounds received, George
would be discharged from the service in May 1917.
As "D" Company were relieved by the 1/5th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the mid
afternoon of the 2nd of September, they were now ordered to take up positions at the North Bluff. "B" Company
were detailed as a carrying party for the attack and accordingly took up their allocated positions in Paisley Avenue and
'slit' trenches that had been constructed off Inniskilling Avenue in the early evening. To cover
the assembly of the attacking battalions of the 147th Brigade, "A" Company were to provide a covering party in front
of the Parallels, once assembly being completed, they were to withdraw to dug-outs located at the North Bluff.
During the course of the day, the battalion suffered two men killed, Corporal Thomas Reid Parker, 2067, and Private Willie
native of Skipton and a Plumber by trade, had enlisted at the latter place in February 1914. Signing the Imperial Service
Obligation at Healing near Grimsby on the 14th of September 1914, Thomas was posted overseas with his battalion on the 14th
of April 1915 as a soldier with "A" Company. Promoted to the rank of Corporal the month previously, Thomas, a resident
of Devonshire Terrace, was killed by the explosion of an artillery shell. His body was unfortunately not identified after
the war, therefore Thomas is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Believed to be Willie Cooper, a native of Carr Street, Keighley. Willie had originally enlisted into the ranks of
the 1/6th Dukes in March 1909 and after completing his terms of engagement, i.e. four years, he was discharged from the service
in 1913. Re-enlisting in March 1914, he was discharged from the service in December of that year due to a number of medical
issues but was possibly deemed 'fit' for military service in 1915. Drafted to the battalion in mid 1916, Willie was
also killed by the explosion of an enemy artillery shell and with his body also unidentified, he too is commemorated on the
battalion of the 147th Brigade to assemble in support positions were the 1/7th, West Riding's, Officer Commanding Brevet
Lieutenant-Colonel (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) Donald Munro Watt D.S.O. Relieved from the Thiepval Sector on the 19th of
August, the battalion had been in the line for about seven weeks without relief and had suffered about 350 casualties, a most
trying time for both officers and men. Proceeding to Forceville, on the following day the battalion moved to Arqueves but
just short of their destination, Major-General Perceval inspected the officers and men as they marched on by to their billets.
Recreation was the order of the day on the 21st whereupon one hour was devoted early in the morning to games whilst the remainder
of the day was spent at leisure. At some point during the day, the Second Corps Commander, Temporary Lieutenant-General Claud
William Jacob C.B. of Goughs Reserve Army, visited the battalion to present awards for gallantry. The Military Cross was awarded
to Temporary Captain Thomas Cecil Rapp and the Military Medal to Corporal John Godley, 1210 and Private John Robinson, 1425.
Training now ensued in a
multitude of disciplines including the training of bombers and rifle grenadiers but it was on the 25th that the battalion
paraded and proceeded by route of march to Clairfaye to practice the attack over the taped course that had been laid down.
Returning to Arqueves, the battalion moved to Forceville on the 27th and on the following day a move to bivouacs at Aveluy
Wood was made. Headquarters and "A" and "D" Companies made the journey by route of march via Bouzincourt
whilst "B" and "C" Companies travelled in relative comfort to the Wood by motor-bus.
A prime example of the work necessary to prepare for the attack is to be
found in the War Diary of the 1/7th West Riding's, T.N.A. WO95/2802/1. Work parties had been ordered to be formed for
the night but due to the late arrival of the order, the Royal Engineer officer detailed to form the latter had already departed
the rendezvous point despite being forewarned. On the 29th and in heavy rain, this error was however rectified and 100 men
were detailed for work in the afternoon whilst a larger party numbering 450 worked during the hours of darkness both behind
the line and in front of it. Suffice to say, working both in front and behind the lines had its inherent dangers and the War
Diary records somewhat ambiguously that either one or two men died during the course of the night and that five were wounded.
An analysis of both Soldiers Died and that of the Commonwealth War Graves Databases however reveals that there were
no direct casualties recorded to the battalion on this date. Two men though, their origins lying with the battalion, are recorded
as being killed whilst attached to the 1/5th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry by the C.W.G.C., one Private Charles
Shard, 7/3776, and Private Sam Scott, 3806.
Sam Scott, a resident of Back Lane, Guiseley, had originally enlisted into the Territorial Force in 1908 aged 17
years and two months. Attending four annual training camps with the 6th Battalion, West Riding Regiment as per his service
obligation, Sam completed his four year term of service in 1912 and was subsequently discharged. Attesting for service in
December 1915, possibly under the auspices of the Derby Scheme, Sam was placed on the Army Reserve until being Mobilised in
February 1916. Posted to the Third Line Territorial Battalion of the Regiment, the 3/7th respectively, he was posted overseas
from Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire, disembarking at Boulogne on the 5th of July 1916. Processed by the 34th I.B.D. (Infantry
Base Depot/Detail) located at Etaples, instead of being allocated to the 1/7th West Riding's, he was attached at this
level to the 1/5th K.O.Y.L.I. and posted to the battalion early on the morning of the 9th of July as part of a draft of 40
Other Ranks. Killed in the late afternoon of the 28th during an artillery 'dual,' Sam was originally buried in Paisley
Avenue Cemetery but after exhumation his body was concentrated into Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille, his epitaph, chosen by his
mother reading, "May His Reward Be As Great As His Sacrifice."
Charles Shard, a native of Denby Street, Bradford, had enlisted at the latter
place under the auspices of the Derby Scheme in November 1915. A Basketmaker by trade, 'Charlie' was mobilised in
February 1916 and posted to the ranks of the Third Line Territorial unit, the 3/7th West Riding's. Following the same
path as Sam Scott and posted overseas on the 5th of July 1916, Charlie also numbered amongst the draft attached to the Yorkshire
Light Infantry. Also killed in the same action as Sam, he too was originally buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery and now lies
along with his comrade in Lonsdale Cemetery.
As the month of August drew to a close, the 1/7th West Riding's still continued to form the incessant working
parties for work on the front areas of the line. Company Commanders reconnoitered the assembly positions of the battalion
on the 1st of September, these being Slits and dug-outs located in the vicinity Whitchurch Street in the
north-eastern aspect of Thiepval Wood. It was found that the Slits in question were in need of some improvement and
as a consequence a party of 100 men were sent up to the position in the evening to commence work. Possibly on his way up to
the latter, Second-Lieutenant Sidney Pascoe Hayward formerly of the 3/7th Battalion, was wounded in the head by a shell splinter
in Paisley Avenue, it was his twentieth birthday. On the following day, final preparations were made with rifle and
ammuntion inspections being carried out in the morning. The battalion was ready to move out at 12.15 a.m. on the night of
the 2nd/3rd of September and by 4.20 a.m., the 1/7th Battalion were in their positions.
As all units of both the 146th and the 147th Brigades either prepared or
were established in their positions prior to the attack, the Author will now provide a complete narrative of operations of
the 3rd September, 1916 commencing with the assault of the 1/8th West Yorkshire's on the enemy's line from the Ancre
river on their left flank to their right flank boundary with that of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's at Point 67 respectively.
The 1/8th, West
Yorkshire's (Leeds Rifles), 146th Brigade
The War Diary of the 1/8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Leeds Rifles), provides virtually no details of the
attack whatsoever so it is once again we will turn to events as they unfolded and were recorded by the War Diary of the 146th
Orders stipulated that the
'head' of the battalion would assemble at the south-west corner of Thiepval Wood by 2 a.m. on the morning of the 3rd
of September. Moving from Aveluy Wood across the North Causeway, the battalion proceeded up Cromarty Avenue and
then into the Parallels via No. 6 Sap and Peterhead Sap, attached Machine Guns and Mortar Sections
moving forward to the rear of the column. To assist in the movement forward from the south-west corner of Thiepval Wood, Captain
John Muller attached 146th Headquarters, regulated the flow of the traffic of men and equipment as they moved into their allocated
would launch their attack in two waves, each wave on a frontage of 250 yards. One and a half company would occupy the front
line, i.e. the Second Parallel, whilst one and a half company would take up their positions in the second line, the
First Parallel. In addition to these companies, an extra platoon would be detailed to move forward along
the Marsh between the Ancre river and Peterhead Sap on the extreme left flank of the brigade frontage. A
special bombing party would also be detailed to move forward with the second wave, this party being ordered to take up positions
opposite two known enemy strongpoints in the German Support Line in the vicinity of Points 53 and 72. With
six extra men attached to carry bombs, upon arrival at the latter line position this party would bomb its way forward for
a distance of 100 yards up communication trenches and proceed to form a 'block.' In addition to this party of bombers,
four 'special' parties comprising of one Lewis gun, one N.C.O., six men carrying bombs and four bombers would advance
with the second wave. These parties would be divided equally along the length of the battalion frontage and upon reaching
the enemy support line, they would push out forward beyond this objective to a distance of 30 yards. Upon establishing their
positions, they would then dig in and consolidate and construct communication trenches back to the support line to the rear.
Strength of the battalion as recorded on the 27th of August amounted to 25 officers and 591 men.
With both the 1/6th and the 1/8th establishing a joint Battle Headquarters
at Speyside, the men of the 8th Battalion were reported to be in their attack positions at about 4.30 a.m. As the
hour of the assault approached, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Nathan Whitley C.M.G., T.D. in command of the Left Group, Royal
Artillery, readied his men and guns for the opening barrage. (Authors note: The Left Group comprised of the
following batteries of the 49th Divisional Artillery; A/240, B/240, C/240, B/242 (six guns), A/246, B/246, C/246 and
B/248. An array of artillery also augmented by the Right Group, Canadian Group, Centre Group and a Left
Enfilade Group (All 18-pounders). A further Howitzer Group was also assembled to fire on the enemy front line west of
Thiepval Village and the south face of the Feste Schwaben, all assisted by trench mortars of both medium and heavy
calibre. The fire plan however was too rigid and not flexible, each gun being allocated a specific 'lane' or 'zone'
of fire that would continue in the same direction once the barrage lifted from the first objective. In addition to this lack
of flexibility, there was also no preparations made for counter-battery work).
|Attack Frontage Of The 1/8th West Yorkshire Regiment
As the barrage promptly opened at "Zero" hour at 5.10
a.m. on the morning of the 3rd of September, the men of the 1/8th West Yorkshire's rose to the attack. Advancing as close
to the barrage as possible, the first wave of men crossed No Man's Land relatively unscathed as they headed towards their
first objective. The barrage now lifted at "Zero" Plus 3 minutes on to the German support line as
the first wave of one and a half companies approached the front enemy line but they were held up by uncut wire and could only
manage entry into the position in small parties. With the whole of "A" Company eventually reported to be in the
first objective, on the left flank the half company had immediately gained entry into the line but was met by heavy concentrated
machine gun fire and soon became isolated. The platoon detailed to advance along the Marsh also met uncut wire and
were held up by machine gun fire but they somehow managed to hold on to their position being covered as they were by their
single Lewis gun. Enemy artillery now responded shortly after the first wave had gone over with disastrous consequences for
those in the second wave. As they rose to the attack, they were caught in a cross fire of machine guns eminating from
the left and right flanks as well as artillery fire and were cut to pieces.
Such was the confusion, a message was received at Brigade Headquarters at
5.33 a.m. reporting that "severe casualties reported ... enemy line believed not taken... both lines reported having
returned ....officer being sent forward to ascertain facts..."
It would seem most probable that this message originated from the 1/6th West Yorkshire's who were attacking on
the right flank of their sister battalion, the 1/8th respectively. A further message timed at 5.35 a.m. would appear to confirm
this fact with one annotation indicating that the message originated from the "mg right battalion."
It soon became apparent that both the Sunken Road and the Parallels were full of the survivors of both attacking
waves however the situation on the left flank still remained obscure to say the least. Two reserve guns of Number 2 Section,
146th Brigade M.G.C. were now brought up into the Old British Front Line on the left flank of the 1/8th West Yorkshire's,
the remaining two guns of this section being brought into action previously behind the 1/6th from positions in the O.B.F.L.
respectively. The attack of the 8th Battalion was over, 9 officers and 294 Other Ranks being reported as casualties.
(Source:- War Diary, T.N.A. WO95/2795/2). Of these, 4 officers and 67 O/R's had either been killed or died of wounds during
the course of the day. (Source:- Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database).
Second-Lieutenant Thomas Christopher Vause, of Moor Allerton, Leeds, aged
33 years. The son of Councillor Thomas Orlando Vause, before the war Thomas had held the position of Assistant Master at Cleckheaton
Secondary School. Posted wounded and missing, his body was found and originally buried in Divion Cemetery Number 1 but exhumed
and transferred to Mill Road Cemetery in 1919.
Second-Lieutenant John Cecil Bottomley, a native of Leeds but who had originally enlisted into the Canadian Expeditionary
Force at Minnedosa, Manitoba, in 1914. Formerly serving with the 8th Battalion in which he enlisted in 1909, upon being posted
to England and attached to the 9th Reserve Battalion, C.E.F. located at Shorncliffe, he was commissioned in August 1915 into
his old Regiment. Posted as missing whilst leading his platoon into the German lines, his body was not identified after the
war therefore he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Second-Lieutenant Reginald Middleton, a native of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, aged 25 years. Educated at Leeds University
and a member of the Senior Division O.T.C., Reginald was commissioned in July 1915 and joined the 1/8th Battalion in May 1916.
Despite enquiries to the Red Cross, Reginald was posted as missing, that is, until his body was located buried along with
a cluster of men, just on the edge of the northern aspect of Thiepval Wood. With his grave marked by a cross, idenfication
was positive and Reginald was exhumed in 1919 and re-buried in Mill Road Cemetery.
Second-Lieutenant George Penny had been commissioned from the 28th London
Regiment in November 1915. Posted to the battalion in July 1916, he too was posted as missing after the action. Also buried
to the north of Thiepval Wood near Mill Road along with three men of the battalion, his body was exhumed in 1919 and re-buried
in Mill Road Cemetery.
analysis of weekly casualty reports recorded in various newspapers indicates that three officers were wounded. Temporary Captain
Eric Billington, commissoned from the Leeds University Contingent Senior Division, O.T.C. in October 1914. Aged 21 years and
a resident of "The Hawthorns," Horsforth, near Leeds (Source:- Leeds Mercury, 11th September 1916).
Second-Lieutenant John Harold Hodgson of Potternewton, Leeds. Commissioned
in August 1915, John had joined the battalion in May 1916 and was reported wounded in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated the
12th of September 1916.
Lieutenant George Kennedy Will, a resident of Springfield Avenue, Harrogate. Commissioned in November 1914, it is of some
surprise to me at least that George was not taken on the strength of one of his local battalions, namely the 1/5th or the
2/5th. Educated at St. Bees and Leeds University and a member of the O.T.C. at both establishments, it was whilst at Leeds
that George had been studying for a career in medicine. Initially reported as wounded and missing on the 3rd of September,
he was taken prisoner by the enemy and subsequently succumbed to wounds received on the 11th aged 19 years. (Source:- Yorkshire
Post dated the 4th of December 1916). George now lies in Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension located to the east of Bapaume.
Killed, Wounded Or Missing
Amongst the men, there was Lance-Corporal Rolla Hirst Jackson, 4220, a married man and a resident of Dewsbury. Reported
as wounded, Jackson had unfortunately been killed and was buried close to Second-Lieutenant Penny. His body exhumed, Rolla
Hirst Jackson, aged 29 years, now lies in Mill Road Cemetery.
Rifleman Cecil Adgie, 305123, of Baker Street, Burley Road, Leeds. Previously wounded in action, before the war Cecil
had been employed at the Leeds Forge, Kirkstall. Initially posted as missing, his death in action was confirmed in July 1917
and he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Rifleman Irwin Boshell, 305769, of Beeston, Leeds. Posted as missing, Irwin, aged 31 years, is commemorated on the
Rifleman Harry Mells, 4775. Aged 35 years of Punch Bowl Lane, Boston, Harry along with his brothers Tom and Frank had applied
for exemption from military service in the spring of 1916 due to the fact that they managed fifteen acres of arable and twenty-seven
acres allocated for the growing of fruit. Stating that they had no servants or any other form of assistance to manage the
land, both the applications for Harry and Tom for exemption were refused, Frank being granted exemption until August of that
year. Reported as being killed in action during the month of September, Harry is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Of the wounded, there was one Lance-Corporal Harry Cowley, 1670, (305215),
a resident of Fearnley Street, Tong Road, Leeds. Harry had enlisted into the battalion in 1913 and had been wounded twice
in the ankle. Receiving treatment at the Edmonton Military Hospital located in north London, he was discharged in October
1917 aged 25 years.
Albert Harrall, 1628, (305196), a resident of Marian Road, Woodhouse, Leeds, had also been wounded during the course of the
attack. Also enlisting in 1913, prior to the war Albert was employed by Messrs. A.R. Turner (Ltd.), of Briggate, Leeds, an
Ironmongers, and was admitted to a hospital located in Norwich suffering shrapnel wounds to his feet. Discharged in June 1917,
Albert would eventually emigrate to New Zealand and die aged 70 years in 1963.
1/6th West Yorkshire's: The "Triangle" & The
At about 1.30 a.m. early on the morning of the 3rd of September, the 1/6th West Yorkshire's left the relative
safety of Aveluy Wood and headed for their assembly positions. Upon crossing the Ancre river via the South Causeway,
the men entered Thiepval Wood and proceeded up Sandy Avenue and into the Old British Front Line. Once in
the line, the men then made their way up and into the Parallels moving by way of Thurso Street and KOYLI
West Sap respectively.
Taking up positions
as per orders, i.e., one and a half companies laying out in the open in front of the Second Parallel whilst a further
one and a half companies took up those positions vacated by the first wave, all were reported to be in position by 5 a.m.,
ten minutes before "Zero" hour.
German trench system on the 1/6th attack frontage consisted of two key positions, on the right flank, just passed the brigade
boundary, the "Pope's Nose," located between Points 16 and 25, and the "Triangle,"
situated slightly behind and to the left. Both positions contained machine-gun posts and dug-outs and any failure to
deal with these positions by securing, consolidating and mopping up successfully would have dire consequences.
|Attack Frontage Of The 1/6th West Yorkshire's.
At 5.10 a.m., the barrage opened, the first wave of the battalion
proceeded forward towards their first objective. Advancing across ground that fell away on their left flank and rose slightly
on their right towards the "Pope's Nose" position, German artillery launched an accurate and heavy
barrage about three minutes after "Zero" hour. Machine-guns in the latter enemy position now also opened an intense
fire enfilading the West Yorkshiremen and less than twenty-five minutes after the attack commenced, Brigade Headquarters received
news that the 1/6th Battalion had already at this stage suffered severe casualties. For the second wave, laden with trench
mortars, machine-guns and consolidation equipment, their fate was already sealed. With the Second Parallel subjected
to the enemy bombardment, this second wave fell almost immediately they left the confines of the line. The Battalion War Diary
contains no information as to the exact movements or actions of the battalion once they proceeded into the attack, therefore,
I will now base the following narrative of events on Tempest's History of the Sixth Battalion and rather 'confused'
reports and messages contained in the 146th Brigade Headquarters War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/2792/4).
Timed at about 5.45 a.m., Brigade H.Q. recorded that the men of the 1/6th
had now been pushed back and forced to withdraw to the Sunken Lane and the Parallels. A further message
timed about 5.53 a.m. reported that the West Yorkshire's had managed to enter the German front line but had subsequently
been driven out on their right flank but were now reorganising, of the left flank of the attack, there was no news as to how
events were or had transpired. Temporary Captain Stanley George Hearn, "A" Company later reported that he had witnessed
Second-Lieutenant Walter Talbot Senior bombing enemy dug-outs along with several men, Senior, possibly after gaining a foothold
in the enemy's first line, attempting to bomb his way along the trenches to the second position. Shortly after witnessing
this officer's gallant attempts to press on, Senior, who had only been recently commissioned, was seen to fall a few minutes
On the extreme right
of the battalion's assault, the attack had developed at Point 16 which had initially been strongly held but after
a determined counter-attack(s) by the enemy, the men of this party were driven out. Tempest's History records
that Number 10 Platoon of "C" Company had reached the German front line but was forced to retire after what can
only be described as a ferocious engagement as the attack progressed with bayonet, bomb and rifle butt. For the survivors
grouped in either the Parallels or the Sunken Road, orders were received at about 6.28 a.m. to reorganise
but not to attack. In the German front line trenches, some men however, about twenty in number of "A" Company and
Second-Lieutenant Charles Henry Mitchell, continued to fight on, possibly in the vicinity of Point 16. Although surrounded
and coming under increasing pressure from enemy counter-attacks on all sides, this isolated group attempted to hold on until
Mitchell ordered them to attempt a retirement back to the British lines. As the men attempted to cross No Man's Land one
by one, this young officer attempted to cover their withdrawal until all had made their escape but as the last two men departed
the position, these were the last to see Mitchell alive. These two men were the only members of this party to survive the
There were still
some parties of men of the battalion holding a tentative foothold in the enemy's line despite the vast majority of officers
and N.C.O.'s becoming casualties. Second-Lieutenant Harold Melhuish of "B" Company and Captain Hearn along with
other isolated parties somehow managed to hold their positions but the tenacity and determination of the German counter-attacks
coupled with their effective barrage eventually drove the men out at about 6.30 a.m. Temporary Captain Tom Elsworth Armistead
attempted to collect men into the Front Parallel and I can only assume that this was an attempt to get the survivors
into some sort of cover but still it was believed that some men were holding out in Q.24.d.7.7. west of Point
16. It was about 7.10 a.m. though that Second-Lieutenant John Rotherford Bellerby, 146th Machine Gun Company reported
that the enemy had now counter-attacked along the whole front of attack of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's and had driven out
the last of the battalion's men from their line. As the dead, dying and wounded lay in heaps, the attack of the 1/6th
Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment was over. Casualties recorded by the War Diary were Officers, 3 wounded, 3 missing. Other
Ranks, 30 killed, 172 wounded and 33 missing. An analysis of the Commonwealth War Graves database concludes that on the 3rd
of September, 4 officers were killed or died of wounds and 49 N.C.O's and men were killed or died of wounds. (Authors
note: Officer casualties include Captain Oddy).
Captain James Leslie Oddy (Please refer to previous text).
Second-Lieutenant Walter Talbot Senior, a native of, Sandal, Wakefield. Born in 1894, Walter was educated at Wakefield
Grammar School and commissioned from the ranks of the Royal Fusiliers in June 1916. Posted as missing, his parents attempts
to located his whereabouts through the channels of the Red Cross unfortunately proved to be fruitless. Heartache was also
to follow yet further when in 1917, Lieutenant Joseph Senior the eldest son, succumbed to wounds received in an aerial combat
whilst serving with Number 45th Squadron in May 1917. In 1919, Walter's body however was located and found to be buried
in Divion Road Cemetery, R.19.a.5.4. Subsequently exhumed, he now lies in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval.
Second-Lieutenant Ernest Arthur Turner aged 33 years. A former member of
the Leeds University O.T.C. and originally enlisting as a Private at Bradford, Ernest was commissioned in March 1915 and before
the war was employed by Messrs. Rosser & Russell, Heating Engineers. A married man, before his death he was residing at
premises located in Hyde Park Road, Leeds. His body unidentified after the war, Ernest is now commemorated on the Thiepval
Charles Henry Mitchell, aged 25 years. Born in 1891 at Newry, County Down, Ireland, Charles was the only son of Mr. Charles
Mitchell, Surveyor of Taxes, of Chapeltown Road, Leeds. Educated privately, Charles graduated a Bachelor of Science at London
aged 21 years and continued his education at Leeds University becoming a member of the O.T.C. in September 1914. Prior to
the war, he was articled to Mr. J.W. Thompson, Chartered Accountant of East Parade, Leeds, and was commissioned from the Senior
Division, Leeds University Contingent, O.T.C. in March 1915. Posted to the 1/6th West Yorkshire's in May 1916, Charles
numbered amongst three officers who had joined the battalion at Vignacourt during the course of the month along with 130 Other
Ranks. Posted as missing on the 3rd September, in a letter to his parents, Major Robert Clough wrote:-
"Your son was last seen in the front line trench. His platoon had
taken a section of the front line trench, and they were heavily counter-attacked. After fighting the Huns for over an hourthey
were forced to retire. Only two or three men got back, and the last to leave said Mitchell was still in the German trench
with the Germans within 15 yards of him. I am afraid we must write him down as either a prisoner or killed. Nobody could have
done more, and the way he held off the German attack for so long with so few men was beyond all praise. The loss to the battalion
is a great one, and everybody shares your grief. There is still a hope that he was taken a prisoner." (Yorkshire
Post dated the 19th of September 1916).
Unfortunately Charles had been killed in action and was buried not far from where he fell on the battlefield. His
grave identified by a simple cross, he was exhumed and reburied in Mill Road Cemetery in 1919. The inscription on his gravestone
reads, "A Glorious Life Full Of Love A Noble Death Saving Others Our Only Son."
|Bond Of Sacrifice
|By Kind Permission Of The I.W.M. HU 125734
The Men: Killed, Wounded Or Missing
Numbered amongst the dead was Company Quartermaster Sergeant George Cuthbert Simpson, D.C.M., 1773, of "A"
Company. A resident of Cunliffe Terrace, Manningham, Bradford, prior to the war George was employed as a Wool Salesman. Awarded
the Distinguished Conduct Medal for actions on the Yser Canal north of Ypres, his citation recorded in the London Gazette
dated the 16th of November 1915 reads:-
"For conspicuous gallantry on 24th September, 1915, on the Yser Canal. Owing to heavy bombardment by the
enemy with trench mortars, a platoon was ordered to withdraw. While this was being done, a dug-out was blown in by a trench
mortar. Serjeant (sic) Simpson, in company with another Non-commissioned Officer, hearing groans, went back, started
digging and finally dug out two men. While doing so they were exposed to heavy fire from the enemy's trench mortars, and
were in view of the enemy the whole time. Their bravery and total disregard of danger were very marked."
(Authors note: The other Non-commissioned Officer in question was one Lance-Sergeant
John W. Kelly, 1140).
as missing, his body was located and identified by his identity disc despite having an unmarked grave close to the area of
West KOYLI Sap and the "Pope's Nose" position. His body subsequently exhumed in 1930, George
now lies in Serre Road Cemetery No.2., Pas-de-Calais.
Private Vernon Jackson, 1512 (240182), a native of Listerhills, Bradford. His number suggests an enlistment possibly
in the year of 1913 around or just after his seventeenth birthday. Employed at a Worsted Mill, Vernon was posted overseas
with the original contingent of the battalion in April 1916. Posted as missing, he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Corporal Arthur Hemsley,
2584, of Shearbridge, Bradford, aged 21 years. A Cabinet Maker at a Joinery Works and enlisting at Bradford, Arthur was wounded
during the course of the action. After receiving rudimentary aid at a Field Ambulance, he was evacuated along the casualty
clearing line to Puchevillers, the location of two Casualty Clearing Stations established before the opening of the Somme
offensive. Succumbing to wounds received on the 8th of September, Arthur is now buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery.
Of The 147th Infantry Brigade: 1/5th West Riding Regiment
To the right of the 146th Brigade, the 1/5th Duke's took up their positions prior to
the attack. The terrain to be crossed rose slightly past Point 16 and as one progressed further eastwards, there
was quite an apparent 'fold' in the landscape in the vicinity of the Third Parallel. It was crucial for the
outcome of the attack, that this battalion maintained direction however as events transpired, the attack on this flank would
have dire consequences for the success of the operation as a whole.
"A" and "D" Companies were tasked with the capture of the German front
line trench system from R.19.c.53.40. (exclusive) to R.19.c.1.6.(inclusive). "B" Company had been
allocated the objective of the capture of the enemy support line positions from R.19.c.68.70. (exclusive) to R.19.c.3.8.
(inclusive) whilst "C" Company was to be placed in battalion reserve. The latter company would be distributed
with half a company located in dug-outs to the north-west of Elgin Avenue whilst the remainder of the company would
take up positions north-west of Elgin Avenue at the junction of Elgin and Whitchurch Street. With
Battalion Headquarters established in Whitchurch Street, upon "Zero" hour, the men rose to the assault
keeping as close to the barrage as possible. As the events that transpired, the War Diary of the 1/5th Duke's proves to
be most informative and it is from this point that we will take up the action as recorded by the Battalion Adjutant, Captain
Keith Sykes M.C. along with a chronology of events also recorded in the latters pages.
|War Diary, 1/5th West Riding Regiment, T.N.A. WO95/2800
As the barrage opened, the men of the 1/5th Dukes proceeded across
No Man's Land towards their objectives. After only two minutes into the assault, it was reported that a solitary enemy
machine gun had opened up on the advancing wave however the direction of this fire and the position it was eminating from
is not recorded. It soon became apparent that "D" Company had gained a footing in the enemy trench system under
the cover of the barrage but instead of assaulting either side of East KOYLI Trench, one platoon, the 4th, had miscalculated
or were forced to alter their line of advance. The consequences of this were that a serious gap now developed in the middle
of the company in the vicinity of Point 25 as this platoon continued forward only on the eastern side of East
KOYLI. As far as can be ascertained, it was perceived no doubt at Battalion Headquarters that the attack was proceeding
according to plan as no troops had come back and at 5.30 a.m., twenty minutes after "Zero," a wounded man of the
1/4th Dukes assaulting to the right of the 1/5th Battalion reported that the men were in fact in the German front line positions.
One can only imagine the
melee in the enemy trenches as both opposing forces attempted to eject one another from the trenches. With bombing duels commencing
as well as close quarter fighting, the need for ammunition and bombs to be brought up to the attackers was of pressing importance.
A vital artery projecting from the British positions to necessitate this need for supply was East KOYLI Trench but
it soon became clear that this was blocked forcing the support company to carry ammunition across the open now swept by an
effective enemy artillery barrage and enfilade machine-gun fire. To expediate the work to clear East KOYLI, ten men
of Number 1 Party, 19th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, Divisional Pioneers, were sent forward. (Source, 1/5th
West Riding War Diary and 19th Lancashire Fusiliers War Diary, T.N.A. WO95/2800 and WO95/2785/1 respectively). Under the command
of Captain Sidney Arthur Palk, the Fusiliers War Diary rather confusingly states that only Number 2 Party were involved in
actions on the 3rd of September. As the latter were attached to the 146th Brigade, I can only surmise that this may have been
an oversight in the completion of the record. It was intended however that the remainder of Number 1 Party were to be employed
on the deepening of a communication trench from the head of Nairn Extension Trench "B" to the junction
of East KOYLI with the German Front Line near the Pope's Nose position (Point 25). Due to the
'gap' developing at this point in the infantry advance, it is doubtful if this task was commenced but without any
concrete evidence, the actual events as they transpired cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy. Of the 10 men allocated
for the clearing of East KOYLI, their position can be plotted as operation orders stipulated that they were to be
accommodated in the head of Number 3 Tunnel in the Second Parallel, a position marked as "A"
on the accompanying schematic. At some point during the course of the attack, casualties to the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers
numbered Second-Lieutenant Arthur Guy Vaughan wounded whilst Private Herbert Oldham, 29581, aged 23 years, was unfortunately
|Extract Of Map, War Diary, 19th Lancs. Fusiliers, T.N.A. WO95/2785/1
Similar to the attacks of the West Yorkshire's, information
as to what was actually happening during the assault was unclear and to this end Lieutenant John Bates Cockhill, the Battalion
Lewis Gun Officer was sent forward from Battalion Headquarters to the front line at about 6.10 a.m. in an attempt to ascertain
At 6.25 a.m., Lieutenant ?
was contacted by phone at the Forward Report Post located near the junction of Nairn and East KOYLI who
informed Battalion Headquarters that the latter was blocked with Machine Gun and Stokes Mortar Teams as well as countless
wounded. Just five minutes later, Lieutenant Cockhill returned but he too was unclear of the situation as he could not actually
see anything. Upon speaking to the wounded of both the assaulting battalion's of the West Riding's, he ascertained
that the attack had in fact gained the enemy front and support lines with little opposition. Due to the sap being blocked,
it was essential that supplies of ammunition and bombs to the attackers were actually being moved forward over the open and
to this end, Lieutenant John Middlebrook Haigh, Officer Commanding "C" Company, the Reserve, was now sent forward
to see that this resupply was actually being conducted.
Confirmation that both battalion's of the Duke's had proceeded as far as the enemy support line during the
attack was received at Brigade Headquarters at 7.13 a.m. (Authors note: This message was received by phone and orders had
been issued that the use of telephonic communication close to the enemy line was to be used with caution. Visibility, as recorded
by the War Diary of the 248th (West Riding) Brigade, Divisional Artillery (T.N.A. WO95/2782/2) was however recorded as "bad"
due to a number of factors; the early hour of the attack, a rising mist from the Ancre river with the latter being accentuated
by smoke from both the British and German artillery barrages. Visual signalling therefore was an impossibility and it is a
point of fact that both the artillery, Brigade and Infantry Headquarters, were fighting an offensive operation 'blind').
As news filtered through
that the attack of the 146th Brigade on the left had been held up and survivors of the assault were now taking cover in the
Sunken Road, it was at 7.45 a.m. that a Scout accompanied by two runners was sent forward to the German line in an
attempt to obtain a written report or message as to the situation as it was at this point. Over one hundred years after the
attack, it is difficult to comprehend even now the command and control of the assault and how events were unfolding. Although
what was actually transpiring could not be accurately ascertained, the attack is typical of many actions fought during the
course of the Great War whereupon an offensive action developed into a series of individual 'battles' developing within
a 'battle' itself.
In a semi chronological narrative contained in the War Diary of the 1/5th West Riding's there now appears to be no information
received for a period of about one and a half hour, the next entry being recorded at 9.10 a.m. From the Forward Report Post,
an officer of a Stokes Battery, presumably of the 147th Brigade Trench Mortar Battery, reported that the enemy were now holding
the Pope's Nose position and that they were being engaged with machine-gun fire. As a consequence, orders were
now being prepared for the Second-Lieutenant Robert Henry Brown, the Battalion Bombing Officer, to take up a squad of Rifle
Grenadiers and for the Officer Commanding "C" Company, Lieutenant Haigh, to reinforce positions to the right of
East KOYLI. Ten minutes after these orders were communicated or being in the process of, Temporary Major James Walker,
O.C. 1/4th West Riding's on the right flank of the brigade attack reported that his battalion had retired. With Lieutenant
Haigh now ordered to take charge of "C" Company now manning the British front line position, at 9.30 a.m., Second-Lieutenant
Richard Moses Da Costa, Officer Commanding "D" Company, reported that the battalion "has been obliged to
retire from German line."
An Analysis Of The Attack Of The 1/5th West Riding's
Information as regards the assault of the 1/5th Dukes, with particular reference
to chronology is difficult to determine. An analysis of the supporting units War Diaries such as the 147th Brigade Machine
Gun Company, the Divisional Pioneers, and the Brigade Trench Mortar Battery, whose diary is unobtainable or did not survive
the Second World War bombings of London, makes a more further accurate picture of events that befell the battalion during
the action even more complex. Therefore, I will now quote the Battalion War Diary ad verbatim. Despite any chronology,
events using the diary and various newspaper articles and other sources, piece together the actions of the battalion on the
day in question. Annotations and names of officers added by the Author.
"The whole attack failed. The 146th Brigade did not reach its objective and although the 147th Brigade reached
their objective they were unable to hold it.
1/5th West Riding Regt was commanded by Lieut Col. H.A.S. Stanton D.S.O. (Lieutenant-Colonel Hugh Auriol Stanton Stanton).
The other officers at H.Q were Capt & Adjt K. Sykes, M.C, (Captain Keith Sykes), 2/Lt R.H. Brown, (Second-Lieutenant
Robert Henry Brown), Bomb officer; 2/Lt J B. Cockhill, (Acting Lieutenant John Bates Cockhill), Lewis Gun officer.
A Coy Lieut McLintock (in command), (Temporary Captain Arnold McLintock), 2/Lieut Whitelam, (Second-Lieutenant
Lewis Whitelam), 2/Lieut E.T. Sykes, (Temporary Lieutenant Eric Turner Sykes), 2/Lt E.G. Watkinson, (Second-Lieutenant
Edward Gerald Watkinson); B. Coy. Lieut A.N. Sharpe (in command) (Temporary Lieutenant Arthur Noel
Sharpe), 2/Lieut G.R. Gledhill, (Second-Lieutenant George Richard Gledhill), 2/Lieut Riley, (Second-Lieutenant
John Reginald Newton Riley), 2/Lieut Rush, (Second-Lieutenant Clement Ward Rush); D Coy. 2/Lieut Da Costa (in
command), (Temporary Captain Richard Moses Da Costa), 2/Lieut D. Black, (Second-Lieutenant Douglas Black), 2/Lieut
H. Taylor, (Second-Lieutenant Harry Taylor); C Coy. Lieut J.M. Haigh (in command), (Lieutenant John Middlebrook
Haigh), 2/Lieut E. Lumb, (Second-Lieutenant Edward Lumb), 2/Lt E.W. Harris, (Second-Lieutenant Eric William
(Authors Note: Transport
Lines established at Hedauville). 1st Echelon in Reserve at Transport Lines, Major G.P. Norton, D.S.O., (Major Gilbert
Paul Norton), 2/Lieut West, (Second-Lieutenant Frederick Victor West), 2/Lieut Trickett, (Second-Lieutenant
John Stuart Trickett), 2/Lieut Ridgway, (Second-Lieutenant John Edwin Ridgway), 2/Lt Fisher." (Second-Lieutenant
John Hylton Fisher).
dispositions of the battalion were as follows. A & D Coys had to capture the German front line from R19C.53.40 (exclusive)
to R.19.C.1.6. (inclusive). B Coy had to capture the German Support Line from R.19.C.68.70. (exclusive) to R.19.C.3.8. (inclusive).
C. Coy was in Reserve. 1/2 Coy in dug outs N.W. of ELGIN AVENUE in the front line, and 1/2 Coy in dug outs N.W. of ELGIN AVENUE
at junction of ELGIN & WHITCHURCH ST. Headquarters and H.Q Coy were accomodated in WHITCHURCH ST.
D Coy seemed to take its position under our barrage fairly correctly
but the 4th platoon instead of assaulting on both sides of EAST KOYLI Trench seemed to get the whole of the platoon on the
East side of the trench leaving a serious gap in the middle of the Company and actually at Point 25. This would not have mattered
if the Battn on our left (1/6th West Yorkshire's) had reached its objective. As it was D Coy had to withstand
bombing attacks on its left, from its centre and later on from its right. It was impossible to get bombs up to the 1/2 company
between points 16 and 25. The Right Half Coy did receive bombs about 7.30 am taken up over the open. The company, according
to the report of 2/Lieut Da Costa, evidently made a very good fight for it and only retired when they had no more bombs, having
previously seen the troops on his right retire to our front parallels. They retired from the German Line about 9.30 am."
|Extract Of Battle Schematic, 147th Brigade War Diary. T.N.A. WO95/2796/4/1
"As regards A & B Coys no accurate information could
be obtained. In the case of B Coy no officers returned at alland of A Coy only one came back. What seems to have happened
is as follows. 'A' Coy seems to have got mixed with the Left Company of the 4 WRR (1/4th West Riding Regiment, right assaulting battalion of the 147th Brigade) and assaulted with them. The result was that there was a bad 'bunch' of men opposite the reentrant (sic) between points 25 and 54. The Germans turned a Machine Gun on to
this party causing several casualties. The party must then have swung to its left and right leaving a disastrous gap at the
point where the communication trench meets the top of the reentrant between points 25 and 54, enabling the Germans later on
to bomb to the East and West along their front line.
B Company assaulted the far support line but only about one third of them seems to have reached it. They lost
heavily coming out of the parallels and lost all their officers. So far as can be ascertained no officer reached the German
No messages were received
back at HQ during the whole operation. The only information which was obtained was from wounded men returning and they for
the most part said we occupied both German lines and had had very few casualties.
The Germans held the block in EAST KOYLI Trench and it proved a serious obstacle for us and was not cleared.
Communication of any sort was bound to go over the open.
From the reports of the 2 officers who returned to Battn HQ from the battle it was ascertained that for the most
part a really good fight was put up. If Battn HQ had been able to have got any information back it is practically certain
that the position would not have been lost. The men fought splendidly and in many cases without n.c.o.'s or officers,
and the losing of the captured position was a piece of bad luck. As a proof of the hard fighting there were 350 casualties
out of 450 who assaulted the German Lines."
A precise figure as for casualties sustained by the 1/5th West Riding Regiment on the 3rd of September 1916 cannot
be ascertained from the pages of the War Diary. In officers however, "D" Company had all its officers wounded, Temporary
Captain Da Costa and Second-Lieutenants Black and Taylor respectively. "B" Company had posted as missing Temporary
Captain Sharpe and Second-Lieutenants Gledhill, Riley and Rush and "A" Company had posted as missing Temporary Captain
McLintock, Temporary Lieutenant Sykes wounded and Second-Lieutenant Whitelam also reported as missing. In the case of Second-Lieutenant
Watkinson, he too was reported as wounded but returned to the battalion on the 23rd of the month. "C" Company reported
that Second-Lieutenant Lumb was wounded along with Second-Lieutenant Harris who remained at duty. The 147th Infantry Brigade
War Diary records that in Other Ranks, the battalion suffered 19 killed, 149 wounded and 195 missing. An analysis of the Commonwealth
War Graves Database concludes that 106 men were in fact killed or died of wounds however this figure includes two men who
were serving in the Brigade Trench Mortar Battery and the Brigade Machine Gun Company.
(Authors note: The Brigade War Diary records that the 147th M.G.C. suffered
one officer killed, Captain Wallace Baddon, a native of Chapeltown Road, Leeds, and one officer wounded, Second- Lieutenant
McNab. In Other Ranks, the Company suffered 10 men killed and a further 8 wounded. Of the 147th T.M.B., they suffered one
officer wounded, Second-Lieutenant Sharpe, and in O/R's, one man was reported as wounded and two recorded as missing).
The following list of officers killed or posted as missing, also includes
information as to those who were wounded during the course of the attack.
Captain Arnold McLintock was the son of Dr. James McLintock,
M.D., F.R.S. (Ed.) and Mrs. Mary Emma McLintock of Marsden, near Huddersfield. Educated at Bedford School, prior to the war
he was a partner and Assistant Designer at the Ramsden Mill Company, Linthwaite. Enlisting into the ranks of the 5th
West Riding Regiment upon the outbreak of the war, he was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant on the 10th of October 1914.
Mentioned twice in despatches in January and June 1916 respectively for signal services, Arnold McLintock was initially posted
as missing. In 1919 his body was located and exhumed from the battlefield and he now lies in Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval,
close to where he was originally buried.
Second-Lieutenant Lewis Whitelam, aged 19 years, was the second son of Mr. Christopher George Whitelam and Mrs. Georgina
Whitelam of Ella Street, Newland, Hull. Educated at Hull Grammar School, prior to the war he had entered a commercial life
and had found employment with Messrs. Thomas Wilson Sons & Company Limited, Ship Owners, Hull. Joining the Inns of Court
O.T.C. shortly after the declaration of war, Lewis received a commission into the West Riding's as a Second-Lieutenant
in November 1915. Posted to the 1/5th Battalion on the 29th of May 1916, he joined the Dukes whilst they were in training
at Naours along with two other officers, Second-Lieutenants Cecil Gore Brigley and Robert Henry Brown respectively. Officially
reported as killed in 1917, The Hull Daily Mail dated the 20th of June 1917 reported that he was killed in action
"while leading his platoon in an attack upon the enemy's lines, he was seen to fall shot in the head, but unfortunately
he could not be recovered." Described by his Commanding Officer as a most promising young officer that he could
ill afford to lose, Lewis Whitelam is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in addition to being commemorated in his home
town on Hull Grammar School War Memorial.
Temporary Lieutenant Eric Turner Sykes, aged 21 years was the eldest son of James and Emma Amelia Sykes of "Dungarth,"
Honley, near Huddersfield. Wounded during the course of the attack with "A" Company, Eric's posting to the 1/5th
Battalion was typical of many officers of the various Regiments that comprised the 49th (West Riding) Division. Educated at
Leys School, Cambridge, he departed the latter with a scholarship and won an exhibition to Gonville and Caius College to read
History. A member of the Cambridge University Contingent, Senior Division, Officer Training Corps, Eric joined the ranks of
the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, West Riding Regiment, later redesignated the 2/5th, and was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant
in November 1914. Transferred to the 1/5th Battalion shortly after receiving his commission upon recuperation from his wounds,
he was posted back to the 2/5th Dukes in March 1917. Killed in action at Bullecourt on the 3rd of May 1917, Second-Lieutenant
Sykes was wounded in the arm and hip shortly after "Zero" hour and although his wounds were attended to, he was
killed whilst endeavouring to bring a machine-gun into action during the course of a counter-attack at noon. Originally buried
to the south-west of the village of Bullecourt, his body was exhumed in 1922 and reburied in Bailleul Road East Cemetery,
Saint-Laurent-Blangy, to the north of Arras.
Second-Lieutenant (Temporary Lieutenant) Arthur Noel Sharpe aged 27 years, the eldest son of Arthur Calvert and Mary
Sharpe of "Lynton," Mountjoy Road, Huddersfield. Born in December 1888 whilst the family were residing in premises
located in George Street, Huddersfield, his father was employed as a Chartered Accountant in the family business of Messrs.
Sharpe & Sharpe of the Market Place, Huddersfield. Educated at the Huddersfield College School, by the year of 1911 Arthur
had found employment as a Printers Order Clerk however the name of his employer is unknown at present. A keen sportsman, he
played cricket for Huddersfield and also excelled at football becoming Captain of the Y.M.C.A. Football Club. Enlisting as
a Private in August 1914 into the ranks of the 5th Duke's, number 2577, he received his commission as a Second-Lieutenant
on the 21st of February 1915 and was posted overseas to join the then redesignated 1/5th Duke's in July of that year whilst
they were holding the Canal Bank Sector north of Ypres. Promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant in November (London Gazette
dated 25th of January 1916), Arthur was subsequently posted as wounded and missing on the 3rd of September. Colonel Stanton
"Your son was a most
conscientious and hard-working officer, and is a great loss to me."
The Adjutant, Captain Keith Sykes M.C. also expressed his loss:-
"His loss to the battalion is a very great one, and I personally feel to have lost a very staunch friend.
He was a splendid fellow and had always an excellent influence over his men."
Arthur Noel Sharpe now lies in Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval. For years to come, a memorial notice would appear in
the Yorkshire Post on the 3rd of September, placed by some unknown member of the family.
(Authors note: Sources for biographical details include the Huddersfield Daily Examiner and De Ruvigny's Roll
of Honour. It is also of interest to note that both of Arthur's brothers also served, Geoffrey Lynton Sharpe,
enlisted 5th Dukes and commissioned into the battalion as a Second-Lieutenant in October 1914. Geoffrey would rise to the
rank of Major in the Army Cyclist Corps. Captain William Gordon Sharpe. Service is somewhat ambiguous but at some point in
late 1917, he assumed command of the 5th Dukes Cadet Battalion).
|Bond Of Sacrifice
|By Kind Permission Of I.W.M. ( HU 126371)
Second-Lieutenant George Richard Gledhill, aged 20 years, the
son of Walter and Hannah Mary Gledhill of 84, New North Road, Huddersfield. Born in 1895 at Huddersfield, it would appear
that the family spent some time residing in St. Petersburg, Russia, as George's brothers, Walter Vernon, Leslie Drake
and Reginald Hirst were born in the City in 1892, 1894 and 1900 respectively.
Returning to England at some point in the late 1900's, the 1911 Census records that both George and Reginald
had entered full time education at the Friend's School, Ackworth near Pontefract. As the name suggests, the school was
founded on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers.
Employed at his father's firm Messrs. Walter Gledhill & Sons, Woollen Manufacturers, Bridge Mills, Holmfirth,
George enlisted at Huddersfield shortly after the outbreak of the war as a Private, number 2869. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
dated the 11th of June 1917 provides a more detailed account of his life and war service:-
"Mr. and Mrs. W. Gledhill, of Neva Bank, New North Road, have been
iformed by the War Office that no news having come through respecting their son, Second-Lieutenant GEORGE RICHARD GLEDHILL,
who was reported missing on the 3rd September last, it is now regretfully concluded that he must be dead. Second-Lieutenant
George R. Gledhill was brought up in Petrograd. When old enough he came to Mr. Wild's College School, Huddersfield. (Authors
note: Huddersfield College School, Mountjoy Road). After a few years spent there he went with his two elder brothers to
an institute in St. Gallen, Switzerland, for two years, after which he came to Ackworth School, near Pontefract. He then became
a member of the firm of Walter Gledhill and Sons Ltd., Bridge Mills, Holmfirth. When war broke out he, along with his elder
brother, Leslie D. Gledhill, promptly joined the local battalion of the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, and
after serving five months in the ranks they both had a commission given. Mr. Leslie D. Gledhill is an officer in the Machine
Gun Corps at present in France. The deceased officer would have been 21 years old last November."
It was on the 21st of February 1915 (London Gazette dated the 20th
of February 1915), that both Leslie and George were commissioned as Second-Lieutenants into the 5th Battalion, The Duke of
Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). George would be posted overseas to join his unit on the 22nd of September 1915 (War
Diary records 7th October), whilst Leslie was posted overseas on the 18th of October (War Diary records the joining of his
unit on the 21st).
Posted as missing on the
3rd of September and despite enquiries to the Red Cross that provided no information, his death suffice to say in action was
sadly accepted at home in Huddersfield. His body sadly lost, Second-Lieutenant George Richard Gledhill is now commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial.
John Reginald Newton Riley, aged 24 years, the youngest son of Edward James and Annie Newton Riley. Born at Timperley, Cheshire
in 1892, the family at some point had relocated to Ashton-on-Mersey, his address recorded as "The Hollies,"
Harborough Road, Ashston-on-Mersey. Recorded in the 1911 Census as the son of a Retired Cotton Merchant, at this juncture
John had found employment as Grey Cloth Accountant at a Cotton Manufacturers. Educated at Manchester University and a member
of the Senior Division, Officer Training Corps, John was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the West Riding's on the
3rd of November 1915 (London Gazette dated the 18th of November 1915). Posted overseas on the 27th of June 1916, he joined
the 1/5th Dukes on July the 6th whilst the battalion were holding assembly trenches located in Aveluy Wood. Killed in his
first major offensive action, Second-Lieutenant Riley now lies in Mill Road Cemetery, the epitaph inscribed on his gravestone
reading Blessed Are The Pure In Heart For They Shall See God."
(Authors note: Two brothers also served, Edward Lawrence Riley, commissioned into the 22nd (Service) Battalion (7th
City), Manchester Regiment, and awarded the Military Cross for actions at Dantzig Alley (sic) east of Mametz on the
1st of July 1916. Second-Lieutenant William Douglas Riley, 1/6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment).
Second-Lieutenant Clement Ward Rush, the son of Robert, a Farmer, and Amy
Rush of Witnesham, Suffolk; husband of Alice Ellen Rush. Little is known as regards Clement's early life other than by
the year of 1911, he was residing as a Boarder at Boreham Wood and employed as a Gent's Outfitters Manager. Receiving
his commission as a Second-Lieutenant in the West Riding Regiment on the 15th of July 1916, Clement hastily arranged his marriage
to Alice Cutting of Castle Street, Eye, Suffolk, on the 30th of July, the ceremony taking place at Bradfield St. George Parish
Church. (Source: The Bury Free Press dated the 5th of August 1916). A quiet ceremony by all accounts, Clement was then posted
overseas to join his battalion on the 7th of August. Posted as missing in the attack, Clement is now commemorated on the Thiepval
Memorial and on the Bradfield St. George War Memorial. (Authours note: His brother Harold would also fall in the Great War.
Emigrating to Australia, Harold would enlist into the 10th Australian Light Horse and would be unfortunately killed in action
at "The Nek," Gallipoli, on the 7th of August 1915. His last words before being killed were reported as "Goodbye
Cobber, God Bless You," this poignant epitaph is now inscribed on Harold's grave located at Walker's Ridge
As regards "D"
Company, all the officers were wounded. Temporary Captain Richard Moses Da Costa was born in the Mile End district of London
in 1881 to Jewish parents Robert, a Fruiterer, and Elizabeth Da Costa. Primary education was conducted at Stepney Jewish School
and as his father's fortunes progressed, he progressed on to further education at King's College, London University.
A Sergeant-Major with the Senior Division of the University's Officer Training Corps, Da Costa received a commission as
a Second-Lieutenant into the West Riding Regiment on the 30th of October 1915. (London Gazette dated 15th of November 1915).
Joining the 1/5th West Riding's on the 8th of April 1916 whilst the battalion were located in assembly trenches at Aveluy
Wood, one further officer draft was received also on this date, Second-Lieutenant Cecil Bancroft. Wounded during the attack
of the 3rd of September, he relinquished his temporary rank of Captain and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 29th of June
1917, previous service having being conducted with the Army Canteen Committee. Mentioned in Despatches (13th November 1916,
L.G. dated 4th of January 1917), Da Costa would also serve in Italy between the years of 1917-1919. In civilian life, Da Costa
would become a major protagonist in the creation of a combine involved with the import and export of fruit and vegetables.
With the business eventually expanding into a wealthy chain of caterers and restaurants, Richard Moses Da Costa died in April
1959 aged 77 years.
Douglas Black, the son of Mr. Theophilus Adolphus and Mrs. Agnes Asenath Black of Halifax Old Road, Huddersfield. Born in
1895 at Brecknock (Brecon), his father had served with both the South Wales Borderers and the 2nd Battalion, York & Lancaster
Regiment in the capacity of Quartermaster, witnessing service in both the Zulu and South African campaigns. Appointed as Quartermaster
to the then 5th Battalion, West Riding Regiment in 1911 and rising to the rank of Hon. Major in January 1916, Adolphus served
overseas with the battalion until August 1915 whereupon he was replaced by Hon. Lieutenant George Walter Holmes.
Enlisting in July 1914 at Huddersfield, Douglas quickly rose to the rank
of Corporal. Wounded in August 1915, precise details of this wounding are not known but one may surmise that this occurred
whilst the battalion were occupying the Canal Bank Sector north of Ypres. Repatriated to England, on recuperation Douglas
was posted to the 3/5th Battalion, West Riding Regiment, who in November 1915 were stationed at Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire.
Upon receipt of the French award of the Croix de Guerre, the battalion including members of the 1/5th Dukes who had been wounded
at the front held a complimentary dinner and 'smoker' in his honour at the Bentinck Hotel, Mansfield. (Source: Huddersfield
Daily Examiner dated December the 1st 1915). The 'dinner' held on November the 18th was presided over by Sergeant-Major
A. Day (Albert Day) who after dinner was completed requested that Private N.R. Sanderson ( Norman Rosser Sanderson, 2612,
who had been wounded in May 1915), to say a few kind words as regards his friend and platoon Corporal. A lively evening was
spent by all and closed with the singing of the National Anthem.
Commissioned to the rank of Second-Lieutenant on the 31st of December 1915, Black was also Gazetted the award of
the Distinguished Conduct Medal (London Gazette dated the 14th of January 1916) along with Company Sergeant Major Henry James
Sykes, 183, and Corporal Henry Convoy, 2670. Both Black and Sykes received the award for consistent good work in the field
as did Convoy but the latter soldier also led a party out of the trenches to recover an officer who had been mortally wounded.
(Authors note: An analysis of officer casualties points with some certainty that the officer in question was one Second-Lieutenant
Leslie Taylor Crowther, Officer Commanding Number 16 Platoon, "D" Company, mortally wounded on the 16th of June
1915 in the Fleurbaix Sector. Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated the 23rd of June 1915).
Rejoining his battalion on the 7th of August 1916 and wounded during the course of the attack on the 3rd of September,
Douglas rejoined his unit on the 12th of the month but was once again returned to England on the 27th as "sick."
After an extensive period of recuperation
in England and performing duties in a recruiting office at Bakewell, Douglas was posted overseas once again in 1917 to join
the 2/5th Battalion, West Riding Regiment, 62nd (West Riding) Division, on the 5th of May after the division's fateful
attack on Bullecourt.
Seriously wounded at
Bourlon Wood on the 27th of November 1917, for his actions during the Cambrai offensive Black was awarded the Military Cross,
this award being published in the London Gazette dated the 1st of February 1918. His citation for the award published in the
L.G. dated the 5th of July 1918 reads:-
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his platoon under very heavy machine-gun and sniper's
fire to attack a strong point which was holding up the advance of the battalion. He rushed the position, killed several of
the enemy and captured two officers, fifty-eight other ranks, and two machine-guns. Later, he again led a rush on a strong
point, and killed and captured several of the enemy. He set a splendid example of courage and initiative."
The Men: Killed,
Wounded Or Missing
is a difficult task to record the services of so many men who were killed, wounded or missing during the course of the attack
on the 3rd of September. The following men therefore, I hope, reflect to the reader of this commemoration both the military
and social backgrounds of those who constituted and served with the 1/5th Battalion, West Riding (Duke of Wellington's).
Company Sergeant Major George
Albert Fuller, 1644, Distinguished Conduct Medal, of "A" Company. A native of South Street, Paddock, Huddersfield
and a Fire Insurance Clerk in civilian life, George had been awarded the D.C.M. "For consistent good work under fire
and at all times." (London Gazette dated the 21st of June 1916). Wounded in both the head and the leg, upon recuperation
he was posted back to his old battalion and before being demobilised in 1919, he had attained the rank of Warrant Officer
Booth, 241291 (4424), a married man of Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury, aged 39 years. Prior to the war, Walter was employed as a
Coal Miner (Hewer). Despite attempts to locate his whereabouts or fate through the channels of the Red Cross, Walter was officially
reported as missing presumed killed however his body was found close to the site of East KOYLI Trench and exhumed
from the battlefield in 1927. Identified by his identity disc, his remains were interred at Serre Road Cemetery Number 2.
Walter is also commemorated on the Holy Innocents Parish Church War Memorial, Thornhill Lees.
A number of the wounded of "A" Company found themselves hospitalised
in the East Leeds War Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds. (Source: Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated the 14th of September 1916).
Lance-Corporal Leslie Lynch, 2768 (204491), a native of Lockwood, Huddersfield, who had previously suffered a bullet wound
in the thigh in July 1915, now suffering a wound in his left arm below shoulder. Private Reuben Hirst, 4756 (235165), a native
of Birkby, Huddersfield and a Teacher in the Parish Church Schools, wounded in the wrist and hand.
Private Frank Clegg, 5561, the younger son of Edwin and Grace Clegg of Milnsbridge,
Huddersfield, aged 19 years. Posted as missing, Frank is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Private Frank Armitage, 2390, "B" Company attached 147th Machine
Gun Company, aged 20 years. The fourth son of the late John and Sarah Ann Armitage of Holmebridge, Frank had enlisted into
the ranks of the Holmfirth Territorials in 1913. Prior to the outbreak of the war he was employed at Perseverance Mills, Holmfirth,
and had a lifelong connection with Holmebridge Parish Church. Wounded previously that necessitated evacuation to England for
a period of two or three months, Frank was last seen at his gun "doing finely" according to his officer.
(Extracted from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated the 13th of September, 1916). His body unfortunately not identified
after the war, Frank Armitage is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Acting Lance-Sergeant Fred Durrans, 2845, aged 33 years. The son of Arthur
and Lena Durrans of Lindley, Huddersfield, and the husband of Ann Elizabeth of Primrose Hill, Huddersfield. Prior to the war,
he was employed as a Card Maker at Messrs. Joseph Sykes Bros., Acre Mills, Lindley. Enlisting in September 1914 along with
his brothers Percy and Frank, Fred must have been granted some leave from the front as in February 1916, he married Ann Ambler
at St. Stephens Church, Rashcliffe. Seriously wounded in the thigh and hand during the attack, he was at first admitted to
the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers and then moved to a Base Hospital located at Wimereux near Boulogne.
Although at first reported to be in a "critical condition," he was later reported to be "as well
as can be expected." (Source: Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated the 13th of September 1916). Sadly, Fred succumbed
to his wounds on the 14th of September and is now buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, the inscription on his grave reading
"Sweet To Remember One Who Once Was Here And Who, Though Absent Is Still Just As Dear."
The Right Flank: The Attack Of The
is now that we will follow the attack of the 1/4th West Riding's on the right flank of the 147th Infantry Brigade attack.
In conjunction with the War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/2799/2) and the Brigade War Diary (T.N.A. WO95/2796/4), I will also refer to
the The History Of The 1/4th Battalion Duke Of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment, 1914 - 1919 by Capt. P.G. Bales,
M.C., published by Edward Mortimer Ltd. in 1920. This it is envisaged will provide the reader of this commemoration with
a comprehensive account of the actions of this battalion during the course of the attack on the 3rd of September 1916.
Departing Forceville, the battalion, Officer Commanding Major James Walker,
in fighting order proceeded by route of march to Martinsart Wood which was reached at about 5.30 p.m. on the 2nd of September.
Proceeding to their allocated assembly trenches in the Parallels, the battalion journeyed via Northumberland
Avenue to Authuille and the North Bluff and then up via Thiepval Wood to their attack positions.
The objectives of the 1/4th Dukes were to capture and consolidate the German
Front Line from R.19.C.8.4. (Inclusive) to R.19.C. 5.4. (Inclusive). (Authors note: Map references as of
Brigade Operation Order No.29 dated 2nd of September, Brigade War Diary records in Preliminary Instructions
For Attack (no date) R.19.C.78.40 (Inclusive) to R.19.C.53.40 (Inclusive). This first objective equated
to the line between Points 54 & 84, the latter position, on some maps innacurately designated Point 74,
being protected by two suspected machine-gun positions that were well sited with mutual fields of fire. The task of taking
the first objective was allocated to "B" Company led by Temporary Captain Charles Hirst with Second-Lieutenants
Henry Edward Pohlmann and Vernon Adams Horsfall.
The German Support Line, Op. Ord. No.29, from R.19.C.9.5. (Inclusive) to R.19.C.6.6. (Inclusive).
Preliminary Instructions, R.19.C.88.53 (Inclusive) to R.19.C.68.70 (Inclusive). To sieze this part of the enemy's
trench system would be "A" Company's objective under the command of Lieutenant William Needham Everitt with
Second-Lieutenants Alfred Eddison Hirst and George Frederick Robertshaw. This equated to a line between Points 66 - 95,
both points being the junctions of communication trenches to the front and the latter position being known or suspected
to be the location of a company headquarters.
"D" Company were allocated the task of taking the latter communication trench leading from Point
84 in the German Front Line, itself covered by a machine-gun position, to Point 95. To accomplish this task
the company was led by Lieutenant James Trevor Riley along with Second-Lieutenants Ernest Campbell Mee and Charles William
Company were to remain in Reserve "either in or near the old British front line." (Source: Bales History).
This company comprised of Captain Edward Nixon Marshall, O.C., and Second-Lieutenants Frank Walker and Wright Smith.
Headquarters under Major Walker was to be established at the junction of
Inniskilling Avenue and Whitchurch Street, H.Q. Staff comprising of the following officers; Lieutenant William
Charles Fenton (Adjutant), Second-Lieutenant Harold Hammond Aykroyd M.C. (Intelligence Officer/Scout Officer), Second-Lieutenant
Humphrey Noel Taylor (Lewis Gun Officer), Second-Lieutenant Norman Mellor (Bombing Officer), Captain Samuel Sowray Greaves
(Medical Officer) and Regimental Sergeant Major Fred Pachett M.C.
At "Zero" hour the men climbed the scaling ladders placed in the Parallels and followed the barrage
as it fell on the enemy's front line trench system. Keeping as close as possible to the falling shells, the assaulting
men of "B" Company under the command of Captain Hirst lay down in No Man's Land waiting for the first timed
'lift' of the barrage to move forward to its next objectives in the German support line. Promptly at three minutes
past "Zero" hour, 5.13 a.m. respectively, the men rose to the attack but were almost immediately caught in a deadly
crossfire eminating from the Popes Nose and the high ground occupied by the Schwaben Redoubt. Simultaneously,
two companies of "D" Company now moved forward to capture and consolidate the first section of the communication
trench leading from Points 84 - 95. Although there is a lack of chronology in both the War Diary and Bales History,
Captain Hirst of "B" Company is recorded in the latter as being killed before the first objective was reached.
|Extract Of Map, War Diary 1/5th West Riding Battalion, T.N.A. WO95/2800/2
As parties of "B" Company entered the German Front Line
System bombing dug-outs, the men of "A" Company under the command of Lieutenant Everitt passed through the enemy
trench system towards their support line. Already this company had suffered the loss of both Second-Lieutenants A.E. Hirst,
killed, and Robertshaw who was seriously wounded in the legs as they crossed No Man's Land but still they pressed on towards
now opened up a terrific bombardment of all approaches from and on Thiepval Wood decimating in particular the Parallels
in this sector of the front. "D" Company had by now set off also for their objective, two platoons of this
company now asaulting the communication trench running between Points 84 - 95 whilst the remaining two companies
headed along for objectives in the Support Line. Exposed to machine-gun fire from both their right flank and the front, the
company lay down or occupied shell holes in No Man's Land waiting for the barrage to lift three minutes after "Zero"
hour. Casualties at this point it is believed were light however Second-Lieutenant Tomlinson was no doubt killed as he led
his men forward to their objective. Lieutenant Riley and C.S.M. Walker were also wounded at some point but both men refused
to return to the rear to have their wounds dressed and continued along with the advance. (Source: Bales History).
The War Diary contains very
little information about the continuance of the advance of "D" Company so as a consequence however accurate, the
narrative of their fate is best described by Bale.
As the barrage lifted onto the German Support Line, the men entered the enemy front line and proceeded up a communication
trench that had suffered considerably under the effects of the British barrage on this sector of the battlefield. With poor
observation due to the effects of the bombardment and the darkness of the early hour of the day, it was believed that the
men had reached their objective, the trench leading from Points 84 -95 respectively. As dug-outs were bombed and
prisoners taken, the men began to consolidate their position however a counter-attack soon developed by the enemy from the
direction of the Schwaben Redoubt (Feste Schwaben) that weak in numbers, was repulsed.
As machine-gun and rifle fire intensified, German artillery now found it
mark on the battered communication trench. Affording no cover due to its battered state, the work of consolidation could proceed
no further. Isolated and with no communication either with the rear or the companies in the attack, the survivors of "D"
Company attempted to press home their attack with great gallantry. Bales History alludes to the fact that the company
had lost direction during the attack and had in fact entered the enemy front line system to the south-east of Point 84.
This may be true as there was a myriad of trenches in the front line system in this sector of R.19.c. with two
distinct communication trenches leading back northwards towards the southern face of the Schwaben Redoubt. It was believed
in some circles that parties of men, though isolated, may have held the southern aspect of the redoubt at some point in the
action but this may just be pure conjecture. The pitiful amount of survivors that did return however such as Sergeant Willie
Brooke, 2685, were convinced though that the company did take and hold its objective, Point 84 respectively (Source:
to "B" and "A" Companies, at about 5.55 a.m. a wounded man reported that the former had gained their objective
and that the latter were attacking. The front line system assaulted by "B" Company had been smashed by numerous
artillery barrages since the commencement of the Somme offensive on the 1st of July. With little or no cover being found in
the remnants of this line, the men were therefore forced to take shelter in shell holes all the while being subjected to machine-gun
and rifle fire in their exposed positions from both the right and the left flanks. Once in the trench system, some men of
"B" Company commenced the bombing of numerous dug-outs with Mills bombs as they proceeded to work their way systematically
along the trench capturing some prisoners. Amongst their number was Company Sergeant Major William Medley, 1967, and leading
by example, a party of this company subsequently pushed out to the left along the trench towards Point 25, the "Pope's
Nose" position. Now mixed with some men of the 1/5th Battalion, this party no doubt now severely depleted in numbers
could not gain a foothold in this sector of the line.
Upon the lifting of the barrage, the men of "A" Company under the command of Lieutenant Everitt now found
themselves pinned down by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire eminating from the German Support Line. Fixing bayonets as they
rose to the advance (Source: Leeds Mercury dated the 22nd of September 1916), casualties sustained whilst crossing between
the lines had been considerable. Assisted by some men of "B" Company who had also joined their attack along with
a Lewis gun team under the command of Corporal Archibald Denham, 2507, who had originally been detailed to support "D"
Company, the men were now devoid of the protection of the barrage that had moved on towards the rear. A stout resistance was
now performed by the enemy garrison in the support line and as casualties began to increase further, it was imperative that
the position was taken whatever the cost. To this end, Lieutenant Everitt assisted by Sergeant Wilfred Bancroft D.C.M., 3060,
of "A" Company, reconnoitred the enemy position and upon moving within bombing distance, both threw a number of
grenades into the trench. Everitt now calculated how best to enter the German trench system and it was decided that after
a short burst of Lewis gun fire, the men were to storm the trench and attempt to capture the position and consolidate. The
Lieutenant, Sergeant Bancroft and Sergeant Herbert Haigh, 1245, now went around the men informing them of the scheme of attack.
Upon the cessation of the Lewis gun fire, the men were ordered to charge
the position but at this crucial moment as the gun opened fire, the return spring broke. Calmly and without hesitation, this
unknown "Tom," Dick" or "Harry" operating the gun, changed the spring and set the tension. Reporting
to the Lieutenant that he was now ready to commence firing, one magazine of 47 rounds was discharged whereupon the men of
"A" Company rushed the trench led by Everitt and Sergeant Haigh. Fortuitously, the 'bay' of the trench that
was assaulted was found to be devoid of any number of the enemy however as the next traverse was negotiated, the following
'bay' was found to be full of enemy soldiers. Throwing grenades into their midst, the garrison either fled or took
cover in dug-outs as the men of the West Riding's now fanned out in the trench from left to right bombing these subterranean
bolt-holes and taking prisoners. As these captives were sent back across No Man's Land, it was unfortunate that none reached
the relative safety of the British lines, these prisoners either being killed or wounded as they attempted to cross the bullet
and artillery swept landscape.
The party advancing down the right of the support line proceeded as far and beyond Point 95 south of the Schwaben
Redoubt without encountering any resistance. Of the men of "D" Company who were supposed to be in occupation of
the trench system in this vicinity, there was no sign giving some credence to the fact that they may have indeed lost direction.
To their left, this party proceeded to bomb their way along the length of the trench to a position beyond Point 66 whereupon
Sergeant Haigh managed to gain touch with some survivors of the advance of the 1/5th Battalion. About 40 or 50 of the enemy
had been killed but only about 40 men of the Battalion had reached the second objective. As consolidation of the captured
trench system began, a line of defence was created in the form of posts stretching from beyond Point 66 to Point
86, the latter being held by Sergeant Bancroft and Corporal Denham and his Lewis gun team. A casualty returning to the
British lines reported that this company had entered the support line at about 06.05 a.m. but any further information as to
how the battle was unfolding was not received for some considerable time.
"A" Company now began to suffer the attentions of both enemy artillery
and his trench mortars and to compound matters further, some British artillery which had not calculated their 'lift'
sufficiently were dropping shells behind the men attempting to consolidate their hard earned gains. Bales History notes
the positions of the attacking companies at about 07.00 a.m. as follows:-
"A" Company in the Support Line from Point 86 to a position
beyond Point 66, both the left and right flanks being devoid of any of the enemy for some distance.
"B" Company in the German Front Line System about in the centre
of the line from Point 84 and Point 54 and beyond the latter point. The trench system had been cleared of
any garrison and on the left flank, beyond Point 54 respectively, there was no enemy present for some distance towards
and beyond the Pope's Nose position, Point 25.
"D" Company, exact position unknown but possibly in the vicinity of the two communication trenches Points
13 & 22 leading to the southern aspect of the Schwaben Redoubt.
All the companies engaged in the attack had even by now suffered considerable casualties, so much so that in officers,
only one was left per company; Lieutenant Everitt, "A" Company, Second-Lieutenant Henry Edward Pohlmann, "B"
Company, Lieutenant James Trevor Riley, "D" Company. Second-Lieutenant Vernon Adams Horsfall, "B" Company,
had been killed shortly after the front line had been seized whilst Second-Lieutenant Ernest Campbell Mee of "D"
Company lay dead in the enemy barbed wire entanglements.
Information as regards what was actually unfolding in the German positions was unknown at Battalion Headquarters.
Runners were sent out to ascertain the situation but most were either killed or wounded. Corporal Charles Landale, D.C.M.,
1495, of "C" Company and a native of Hebden Bridge, made numerous attempts to run a telephone cable across No Man's
Land but inevitably, this was cut due to the heavy enemy artillery barage now falling on the sector.
The Enemy Counter-Attacks
Unable to replenish the attackers in both the German front and support system,
supplies of ammunition and grenades were now at a critical level. The vital 'artery,' East KOYLI Trench/Sap,
had proved to be a worthless avenue to resupply the objectives, this position being clogged with the dead and wounded
at an early point in the attack. Ammunition and grenades were therefore gathered from the dead and wounded as the fight for
the objectives became increasingly more desperate.
By 7.00 a.m. it was more than apparent that the attack on their left made by the 146th Brigade had failed completely,
the only British units remaining in this sector in the enemy trench system being elements of both the 1/5th and 1/4th Battalions,
West Riding Regiment, mixed up and attempting to form a line of resistance. At some point after 8.00 a.m., chronology is uncertain,
elements of the German 26th Reserve Division began to build up forces for a counter-attack. As both enemy machine-gun, rifle
and artillery fire began to decrease in intensity, it could only mean one thing to the 'Old Sweats' still surviving,
the enemy was about to spring the trap. Blind as to events, the first inclination of an attack developing was enemy forces
heading towards and in the vicinity of Point 25, the Pope's Nose position respectively. It was surmised
later that this position had in fact been evacuated by the enemy during the attack but as he now progressed increasingly close
to the position by a series of bombing attacks, the main counter-attack by his forces would be conducted over the open and
each side of the Munster Gasse, their objective being the post established at Point 86 manned by the men
of "A" Company.
As the enemy worked around the right flank of the position so
as to avoid a frontal assault, they then attacked Point 86 from the rear. With no ammunition or grenades left to
the defenders, the troops of I.R.66 thrown into the battle, now launched a bombing attack that paved the
way for a final assault. Prior to this final rush, Sergeant Wilfred Bancroft and Corporal George Payne were unfortunately
killed as the position was now overrun, the fight no doubt descending into that of the boot, bayonet, rifle butt and fist.
Of the few survivors, Corporal Denham, who had originally been detailed to support the attack of "D" Company, now
lay wounded in the trench, shot in the left shoulder and was subsequently taken prisoner.
The remainder of the men of "A" Company at first had no knowledge
of events that were now transpiring on their right flank. It soon became apparent though that the enemy were now working their
way along the support line from that direction and with no bombs or grenades left, a retirement was ordered towards Point
66. The situation became, if it could, even more critical as enemy forces were now approaching on their left flank also,
bombing their way down the trench as they progressed forward. Lieutenant Everitts party by now only numbered a few men and
their chances of fighting on were slim, surrounded and virtually cut off. Orders were therefore issued by the Lieutenant for
a withdrawal down the communication trench to Point 54, the latter position in the front line held by "B"
Company. Fighting a well executed tactical withdrawal with men providing covering fire from each bay as the party withdrew,
upon arrival in the front line position, it was found that the men of "B" Company were also pitiful in number having
suffered heavy casualties from both enemy artillery and machine-gun fire. There was no other option but to evacuate the position
due to a lack of ammunition and available manpower. To this end, a party reconnoitered the front line trench on their left
flank towards Point 25, the Pope's Nose, but yet another enemy bombing party was approaching and further
resistance would no doubt prove to be futile if the party remained in this position. Lieuetenant Everitt now decided that
their best chance of survival was to abandon the trench and make a break out over the open for the Parallels but
as they crossed No Man's Land, the men 'bunched' together and were subsequently caught by machine-gun fire eminating
from Point 25. Witnesses reported that "Billy" Everitt was last seen unwounded as he made for the British
lines, but, like so many of the men, his exact fate was unknown.
Before the true extent of the Battalion's losses were realised, "C" Company forming the Battalion Reserve
were about to be committed to the attack. Major James Walker now issued orders for two platoons and two reserve bombing teams
to get ready to move out across No Man's Land to support the remnants of "B" Company under the command of the
only surviving officer, Second-Lieutenant Pohlman. At Battle Headquarters, a message was then received from the Advanced Signal
Station stating that it had observed men of the 147th Brigade retiring and before the orders had even been issued, they were
cancelled, thankfully, sparing the battalion yet more bloodshed.
The attack of both the 147th and the 146th Infantry Brigades was now over after suffering appalling casualties. Of
the survivors attempting to make the relative safety of the British front line, many, such as Second-Lieutenant Pohlman, had
to find whatever cover they could find in No Man's Land before making their way back under cover of the hours of darkness.
In fear of a counter-attack, Captain Marshall and the men of "C" Company who had also suffered under the effects
of the German artillery barrage, now manned the Parallels. An enemy attack however did not materialise and it was
now that the true extent of casualties suffered during the attack of the 1/4th West Riding Regiment was about to be realised.
An Analysis Of The Attack Of The 1/4th West Riding's
Going into the attack
with a strength of 18 officers and 629 Other Ranks, the Battalion had suffered in killed wounded or missing 11 officers and
336 Other Ranks. (Authors note: Brigade War Diary WO95/2796/4/1 records casualties as 4 officers killed, 3 wounded and 3 missing.
In Other Ranks, 27 killed, 110 wounded and 184 missing). The failure of their attack primarily occurred due to the loss of
direction on their left as the advance was made, this in turn, creating a catastrophic series of events that exposed the 1/4th
Battalion to fire from both the left and the right flanks in addition to fire from their front. The loss of the direction
of "D" Company, effectively protecting the right flank of the attack, also no doubt compromised the attack of the
remainder of the battalion.
histories allude to the reasons for the failure of the attack on the 3rd of September 1916. Tempest's History of the
Sixth Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment records that the fundamental reason for their failure was that prior to the
attack the men had been overworked and as a consequence they were exhausted. Of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's, this explanation
is accurate as the battalion were engaged in fatigues and digging parties from as early as the 27th of August. The remainder
of the battalions allocated to the attack however were spared the rigours of the formation of working parties due to them
being billeted some distance away from the front line. The simple facts that remain is that the loss of direction and lack
of communication between Battalion Headquarters of all the units engaged in the attack proved to be catastrophic.
Second-Lieutenant Frederick Arthur Innes M.C. aged 30 years (attached to
Brigade Headquarters). A native of Derby, Innes had originally enlisted into the ranks of the 20th (Service) Battalion (3rd
Public Schools), Royal Fusiliers shortly after the outbreak of the war. Receiving a commission in the 1/4th West Riding Regiment
on the 26th of March 1915 (London Gazette dated the 13th of April 1915), he joined the battalion in the following September
whilst they were holding positions in the Canal Bank Sector north of Ypres. Appointed the Battalion Bombing Officer, Innes
was awarded the Military Cross for his actions on the 16th of October. His citation reads:-
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the 16th October,
1915, on the Yser Canal.
a sap-head within a few yards of the German trenches during an intense bombardment, and, after the end had been blown in,
prepared a new block and repulsed three consecutive bomb attacks. Although wounded by shrapnel early in the bombardment he
remained at his post and held the sap throughout the night 16th/17th October. At last it became necessary to order him to
Second Lieutenant Innes
had just joined the battalion and it was his first tour in the trenches."
Upon recuperation, Innes was Mentioned in Despatches, (London Gazette
dated the 1st of January 1916, Page 43) and in August of that year was appointed Brigade Bombing Officer vice Lieutenant Arnold
McLintock. Prior to the attack on the 3rd of September, 147th Brigade Headquarters were established just south of the south-eastern
corner of Thiepval Wood, Q.30.c.7.2.5. near Paisley Avenue. Although there is no exact account of how Second-Lieutenant
Innes met his unfortunate death other than being killed by shell-fire (Source: De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour),
he was originally buried not far from where he fell in Paisley Avenue Cemetery. His body exhumed and reburied, Second-Lieutenant
Frederick Arthur Innes M.C. now lies in Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille, Somme.
Second-Lieutenant Alfred Edison Hirst, aged 24 years and a native of Cleckheaton.
The youngest son of Mr. Eli Hirst, proprietor of the "Cleckheaton and Spenborough Guardian," before the war Alfred
was associated with the firm of E. and A. Smith and Company, Wire Manufacturers, Cleckheaton. A prominent and active member
of the Boy Scout movement, he joined the National Reserve as a volunteer upon the outbreak of the war and was posted overseas
in April 1915 as a Private serving with the 1/4th West Riding Regiment. Promoted to the rank of Lance-Corporal, Alfred was
discharged to commission receiving the latter as a Second-Lieutenant on the 26th of March 1916 (London Gazette dated the 3rd
of April 1916). Killed before even the first objective was reached, it is most likely that there was a witness to his death
as there appears to be no request forwarded to the Red Cross for information as regards his fate. His body unidentified, Second-Lieutenant
Alfred Edison Hirst is how commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Lieutenant William Needham Everitt, M.C. aged 24 years, a native of Sheffield. The eldest son of Mr. Charles Kingston
and Mrs. Margaret Needham, prior to the war he was employed by Messrs. Edgar Allen and Co., Limited, steel makers and engineers,
of which his father was a director. Educated at King Edward's School, Sheffield, and later at Lausanne, Switzerland, William
originally enlisted into the 14th (Service) Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and received his commission into the 1/4th
West Riding Regiment on the 10th of April 1915 (London Gazette dated the 24th of April 1915).
Joining the battalion whilst they were holding the Canal Bank Sector north
of Ypres in August 1915, it was on the 19th of December during an intense German gas attack and actions prior to this, that
Second-Lieutenant Everitt was awarded the Military Cross. (Authors note: During the gas attack, Everitt was skilfully supported
by Private Wilfred Bancroft, 3060, and C.S.M. William Lee, 83. Bancroft was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal whilst
Lee was awarded the Military Cross. Everitt's citation in the London Gazette dated the 15th of March 1916 reads:-
"For conspicuous gallantry and ability. He carried out a daring
reconnaissance, crawling up to and on top of the enemy's parapet, where he lay making valuable observations within 5 yards
of the enemy's sentry and close to two parties of the enemy in the trench.
During an enemy attack he commanded his platoon in a trench only 40 yards from the Germans. Through his cool-headed
and prompt action none of his men were injured, and he telephoned back to Headquarters information of the attack."
Assuming command of "A"
Company in June 1916, Lieutenant William Needham Everitt M.C. was killed attempting to cross No Man's Land. The Sheffield
Daily Telegraph dated the 15th of September 1916 records one of two letters received by his parents, the first, from Major
is with real grief that I have to write to you to say that your son is missing, and reported wounded. He led his men most
gallantly in an attack on the German trenches. It is impossible to say whether he fell into German hands or not. We all deeply
sympathise with you in what must be a terrible anxiety, which we share, for he is an officer whom we cannot spare. If I have
any further news I will at once write: - Yours, with the deepest sympathy, James Walker, Major."
The second letter to his parents was penned by his friend and fellow officer,
Second-Lieutenant Francis Victor Blackwell of Shipley, Yorkshire.
"How to begin this letter I really do not know. I am too sick at heart. Billy is missing. As perhaps he
told you, I was taken away from his company just before the show, and I was very upset about it, as we had been together since
Christmas, and became very firm friends, and I was very much attached to the company. When he was last seen he was unhurt,
and making for our trenches, and I have great hopes that, although perhaps wounded, he is a prisoner. We have had many reports
which say the prisoners taken have been very well treated. Our people have had parties out searching, but with no results.
The men of our company who got back all say how magnificently he fought, he and my sergeant killing many Huns before the barrage
lifted. He controlled his men admirably, but we all knew he would do well, and now he is away from us we feel very sad. I
feel I can write no more, words are so futile, so totally inadequate to express my feelings, but I hope and pray that God,
whose servant he undoubtedly was, will comfort you and his fiancee in this sad time of wearing waiting."
Despite enquiries to the Red Cross, the only reply the Everitt family received
was a statement from one Private George Hensby, 4446, a soldier with "D" Company of the 1/4th Battalion, a Prisoner
of War at Munster. Captured unwounded during the attack, Hensby stated "I saw him in the german second line he went
down the trench about 6 yards there the trench was blown away, that was the last I saw of him." Lieutenant William
Needham Everitt M.C., his body lost, is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Second-Lieutenant George Frederick Robertshaw, "A" Company, son
of John and Mary Robertshaw of Mytholmroyd. The son of a Cotton Manufacturer, Messrs. J. Robertshaw and Sons of Hebden Bridge
and Mytholmroyd respectively, George was educated Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire. A late Cadet of that school's
Officer Training Corps, Junior Division, George received his commission as a Second-Lieutenant in the 1/4th West Riding Regiment
on the 2nd of June 1915. (Authors note: Previous service overseas with the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St.
John from December 1914 as a Chauffeur). Joining the battalion at Hedauville on the 29th of May 1916, during the attack, Second-Lieutenant
Robertshaw was wounded in both legs whilst crossing the ground between the first and second lines of the German trench system.
(Source: Leeds Mercury dated the 13th of October 1916). Writing to the mother of one Private Herman Beverley, 1530, also a
native of Mytholmroyd and previously employed on enlistment by Robertshaw's father at his mill situated in the town, the
Second-Lieutenant described the situation both wounded men now found themselves in. With Herman wounded in the arm and the
foot, his officer attempted to bound up the soldiers wounds as best he could and along with other wounded men, they attempted
to crawl back to the relative safety of the British lines. Separated in the darkness of the early September morning, that
is the last that the officer saw of Private Beverley, aged just 19 years of age. (Source: Todmorden & District News dated
the 13th of October 1916). We will return to Beverley in due course but on crossing No Man's Land, Robertshaw received
medical attention at and was evacuated to Number 3 Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers. Evacuated to England
and a hospital in London, he developed a fever but was eventually discharged and returned home to Mytholmroyd to a hero's
welcome in late November. Upon his recuperation, Robertshaw was posted to the 2/4th West Riding's in April 1917 and promoted
to the rank of Acting Captain, he was wounded for a second time during the Cambrai operations. Resigning his commission in
1920 with the rank of Lieutenant, George Frederick Robertshaw would become a Justice of the Peace and serve as a Major in
the Home Guard in the Second World War. Awarded the M.B.E. for meritorious service in 1944 and the Managing Director of a
successful Cotton Spinning Company, he would unfortunately die at the untimely age of 57 years in 1953.
Second-Lieutenant Vernon Adams Horsfall aged 23 years. The son of Mr. James
Clay and Mrs. Annie Horsfall of Kingston Dene, Halifax, Vernon was initially reported as missing, believed killed. Born at
Sowerby Bridge in 1893, his father James Clay Horsfall was a well respected Worsted Manufacturer of Clay & Horsfalls,
Wharf Mill, Sowerby Bridge. A member of the Bolton Brow Wesleyan Church where his father was the Honorary Organist and Choirmaster,
Vernon was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the 1/4th Dukes on the 21st of July 1915 (London Gazette dated the 5th of
August 1915). Joining the battalion in June 1916, there is however no record of his posting to the battalion in the pages
of the War Diary. Despite numerous enquiries in both local and national newspapers and the Red Cross, Second-Lieutenant Horsfall
of "B" Company was killed, Major Walker in a letter to his parents stated, "he played his part most gallantly,
but it is impossible to say with certainty what happened." (Source: Yorkshire Post dated the 12th of September 1916).
Officially reported as presumed to have been killed by the War Office in 1917, his body was found on the battlefield just
to the east of EAST K.O.Y.L.I. Sap and reburied in Serre Road Cemetery Number 2 in 1927.
Second-Lieutenant Henry Edward Pohlmann, age 23 years and the eldest
son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Pohlmann of Oakleigh, Hipperholme. The son of a Pianoforte Manufacturer, Henry enlisted as a Private
into the ranks of the 1/4th West Riding's in 1911. Commissioned in March 1916, during the course of the attack he was
wounded in the right arm and eventually evacuated back to England. Posted to the 9th Battalion of the Regiment in 1917, later
that year he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. With his brother, Second-Lieutenant Reginald Peel Pohlmann also serving
in the R.F.C., Reginald would be shot down and unfortunately killed by Leutnant Heinrich Bongartz, Commander of 36 Jagdstaffel
on the 5th of February 1918 whilst serving with 25th Squadron. It is with some irony that Henry was also posted to the 25th
Squadron in May 1918. Married in 1917, Henry would live to the ripe old age of 84 years and pass from this world in 1978.
Temporary Captain Charles Hirst, aged 22, "B" Company. The son
of Mr. Robert and Mrs. Sarah Jane Hirst of Fieldhead, Cleckheaton. Described in an article published by the Leeds Mercury
on the 8th of September 1916 as "a smart young business man," Charles was employed in the wire-drawing
firm of Messrs. Charles Hirst and Sons Limited, at the Exchange Wire Mills located in Cleckheaton. Commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant
in April 1913, in September of 1914 he was gazetted a Lieutenant and then a Temporary Captain in November 1915. Killed during
the attack, Charles was denied a known grave and is therefore commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Second-Lieutenant Wright Smith of "C" Company. A native of Sowerby,
prior to the war he was employed on the office staff as a Clerk at Messrs. Whitworth's of Luddendenfoot, Worsted Manufacturers.
Taking up a post in Coventry, he enlisted and was subsequently commissioned on the 2nd of June 1915 (London Gazette dated
the 18th of June 1915). Wounded during the course of the attack possibly by enemy artillery fire, he would survive the war.
Campbell Mee aged 25 years of "D" Company. The eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Mee of Buncrana, Londonderry,
Ernest was originally reported and wounded during the attack. Educated at Foyle College, his bravery in civilian life was
also notable when in the August of 1904 aged just thirteen years, he rescued a young boy from drowning in the river at Ballinamallard,
County Fermanagh. For this act, Ernest received a 'Testimonial' on vellum from the Royal Humane Society. An accomplished
Oarsman with the Derry Boating Club, he departed Ireland for Canada in the winter of 1911/12 to take up a position as a Bank
Clerk with the Canadian Bank of Commerce but returned to England in March 1915 to volunteer. Commissioned as a Temporary Second-Lieutenant
on the 5th of April 1915 (London Gazette dated the 7th of April 1915), he was confirmed in this rank in November of that year
whilst serving at the front. Confirmed as being killed in action by the War Office in June 1917, Ernest is now commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial. Tragedy would strike the Mee family once again in 1918 when Ernest's brother John Norman, would
be killed in action in June whilst serving with the 31st Battalion, Canadian Infantry. The inscription chosen by his parents
on his grave reading, "Until The Day Breaks."
|Bond Of Sacrifice
|By Kind Permission IWM (HU 125522)
Lieutenant James Trevor Riley, aged 22 years, "D" Company.
The second son of Mr. Matthew and Mrs. Lucy Riley of Oakleigh, Halifax, his father was a Wool Merchant. Educated at Hunstanton
and Oundle Schools, James was a Cadet in the Junior Division of Oundle's Officer Training Corps and was commissioned as
a Second-Lieutenant in the 4th West Riding Regiment on the 20th of November 1912 (London Gazette dated the 24th of December
1912). Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 2nd of September 1914 (London Gazette dated the 1st of September 1914), he
would be wounded twice in the leg and in the shoulder on two separate occasions during October 1915 by the explosion or premature
detonation of bombs (Handgrenades) whilst the battalion were at rest near Coppernollehoek, north-west of Ypres. (Source: T.N.A.
WO95/2799/1). (Authors note: Riley may have at this juncture been appointed either the Brigade or Battalion Bombing Officer.
In one of these 'incidents,' Lance-Corporal Edmund Lord Ashworth, 2484, was also injured, his wounds being stated
in surviving service documents as having occured at the 147th Brigade Bombing School). Taken on the strength of the
battalion on the 29th of May 1916, Riley was placed in command of "D" Company on the 16th of August viz Temporary
Captain Thomas Dawson Pratt M.I.D. who relinquished his commission to continue his medical studies.
In an article published in the Leeds Mercury dated the 13th of September
1916, it was reported that his parents had received numerous tributes as to the high esteem that their youngest son was held.
Temporary Brigadier-General Edward Fitzgerald Brereton, C.B., D.S.O., G.O.C. 147th Infantry Brigade wrote:-
"I am writing on behalf of myself and members of my staff to convey
to you our very sincere sympathy with you on the loss of your son in action. I knew your boy quite well. He was bombing officer
of the battalion, and then got command of the company just before we attacked. I knew him to be a brave and fearless officer,
and I feel not only his battalion, but the brigade as a whole, has lost a very gallant comrade. He died nobly leading his
men, and reached the appointed spot."
A close friend, the Battalion Adjutant, Temporary Lieutenant William Charles Fenton, added his own tribute:-
"Poor Trevor was killed yesterday while gallantly holding the captured
German trenches. We are all heart-broken. Trevor was always so cheerful and was simply worshiped by his men. His death was
a noble example of courage and devotion. After being wounded twice he refused to return, but continued to drive off the Germans,
and to cheer his men until he was killed."
His body lost or unidentified like so many of his comrades, James "Trevor" Riley is now commemorated on
the Thiepval Memorial.
Second-Lieutenant Charles William Tomlinson, aged 20 years of "D" Company. The son of John and Priscilla
Tomlinson of "Holly Bank", Clifton, Brighouse. Educated at Rastrick Grammar School, Huddersfield Technical College
and Leeds University, he was formerly a member of the Officer Training Corps at the latter establishment. Commissioned as
a Second-Lieutenant from the Senior Division of the O.T.C. into the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) on the
27th of September 1915 (London Gazette dated the 9th of October 1915), Charles joined the battalion on the 29th of May 1916
whilst they were located at Hedauville, north-west of Albert. Recorded by the Battalion War Diary as "wounded and
missing" during the attack, Charles is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
The Men:- Killed, Wounded Or Missing
The casualties suffered in N.C.O.'s and men is, even more so in this
age, truly appalling. As the fight in the German trench system at times descended into a melee of sorts, many men died in
these trenches or out in the open as they crossed between the first and second line trenches. I will therefore attempt to
provide a cross section of men from the various companies engaged, and where possible, identify the location and manner of
Holroyde, 202152 (4782), aged 20 years. A native of Elland, Yorkshire, Alphonso was the son of Thomas and Hannah Holroyd of
Banks End, Upper Edge. Prior to the war, he was employed as a 'Woolen Piecer' (Blankets), one whose job entailed piecing
together broken yarns during the process of weaving. A former member of the 5th Halifax (Elland) Company of the Boys Brigade
(Source: I.W.M. War Memorials Register), Alphonso attested for military service at Elland in December 1915. Placed on the
Army Reserve, he was then mobilised in February 1916 and posted to the 3rd Line Territorial Battalion, the 3/4th West Riding
Regiment respectively. Embarking for the front at Southampton in June 1916 and disembarking at Le Havre, after a period of
further training conducted at the 49th Infantry Base Depot located near the port, Alphonso joined the 1/4th West Riding Regiment
on the 26th of June whilst they were located at Vadencourt Wood. Numbered in a draft of 258 Other Ranks, the actual company
he was serving with at the time of his death is unclear however due to the location of his body when found in 1922, I surmise
that he may have served within the ranks of "D" Company. As regards the discovery of his body, this was made when
the path to Mill Road Cemetery was being levelled off, Alphonso being subsequently identified by his Identification Disc.
Reburied in Serre Road Cemetery Number 1, his epitaph was chosen by his sister..."At The Going Down Of The Sun, And
In The Morning, We Will Remember Them."
|Bond Of Sacrifice
|By Kind Permission Of I.W.M. (I.W.M. HU 115700)
Sergeant Wilfred Bancroft, 3060, D.C.M., 2nd Platoon, "A"
Company. Wilfred was born in Halifax in 1895 to parents Arthur, a Tailor by trade, and Elizabeth Bancroft. Shortly after his
birth, the family relocated to Lincoln where by the recording of the 1911 Census, Wilfred had found employment as a 'Moulder'.
At some point between the latter and 1914, the Bancroft family had returned to Calderdale and took up residence in premises
located in School Lane, Southowram. Attesting for military service at Halifax on the 27th of October 1914, Wilfred was subsequently
posted to the then 4th Battalion, West Riding Regiment and without hesitation signed the "Imperial Service Obligation."
Posted overseas with the battalion in division
in April 1915, Wilfred received a "slight shell wound to the head" on the 8th of August whilst the battalion
were holding positions in the Canal Bank Sector north-west of Ypres and after receiving treatment at the 2nd West Riding Field
Ambulance, he was discharged to duty just three days later. It would appear that in his surviving service documents, Wilfred
suffered a bout of rheumatism that necessitated medical treatment and rest, possibly brought on as a direct result of the
trying and wet conditions that the men existed in.
It was on the 19th of December in the Canal Bank Sector that the 49th (West Riding) Division were subjected to a
gas attack synonymous in the history of the division. Private Bancroft, alert to the release of this chemical agent, acted
without hesitation and no doubt minimised casualties to the men in the front line. Reporting to Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel
Edward Geoffrey St. Aubyn, Officer Commanding, the situation unfolding as the attack developed, for his actions Wilfred was
awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on the 22nd of January 1916, his citation in the London Gazette dated the 15th of
March 1916 simply reads:-
conspicuous gallantry, when during the gas attack and under very heavy shell fire he went back over the open from the front
trench to his commanding officer to report the state of affairs."
Granted leave home in February, at Southowram he received a hero's when
on the 17th of February he was "presented with a wrist watch and other gifts in recognition of his gaining the D.C.M."
(Source:- The Yorkshire Post dated the 19th of February 1916).
Upon his return, he was appointed to the rank of Lance-Corporal (Paid) in March and in the following month, the rank
of Corporal. This month would also witness Wilfred being posted as an Instructor to the 49th Infantry Base Depot located at
Le Havre and upon his return to the battalion who were located at Hedauville, he was subsequently promoted to the rank of
Posted as missing during the attack,
Sergeant Bancroft was undoubtedly killed in the vicinity of Point 86 as he attempted to defend the position against
the enemy counter-attack that had developed. Denied a known grave, Wilfred is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
|Bond Of Sacrifice
|By Kind Permission Of The I.W.M. (HU 113272)
Private William "Willie" Gibson, 4788, son of Stott
and Sarah Ellen Gibson of Buttress Brink, Hebden Bridge. The Todmorden District News dated the 22nd of September 1916 records
that prior to the war, William had been in the employ of one Mr. Herbert Walmsley, a Grocer of Hangingroyd, but shortly before
attesting for military service in November 1915, he was employed by the Heptonstall Co-operative Society in the Grocery Department.
Having connections with the St. John's Church and School, he was keen at games and sometimes played football with the
Todmorden Tradesmen. All six of the Gibson brothers would serve their country in the Great War.
Aged 22 years and placed on the Army Reserve, he was then mobilised in February
1916 and subsequently posted the 3/4th Battalion, West Riding Regiment before being posted overseas in June 1916. Part of
the same draft that contained Alphonso Holdroyde, he joined the 1/4th Battalion on the 26th of June after a further period
of instruction at the 49th Infantry Base Depot located at Le Havre.
Surviving service documents indicate that William was wounded in the left buttock, arm and back and as a consequence
he received initial medical treatment at the 2nd West Riding Field Ambulance, the main body of the unit for "lying
cases" being situated at Forceville. The aforementioned newspaper article states however that depite his injuries,
he remained "cheerful" before he was evacuated to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers.
News of his wounding was sent to his parents by the Reverend David Tait Patterson, Acting Chaplain, 2nd Field Ambulance, but
the news of his death on the 15th of September was conveyed by letter from a Nursing Sister at the C.C.S. The letter stated
that William had been admitted to the medical facility on the 6th, this being confirmed by his service documents.
"He was very ill all the time, and the sister says it is a wonder
that he lived as long as he did. Gibson has been buried in the British cemetery in France, and his grave has been marked by
a cross bearing his name and regiment and the date of his death. The sister expressed deep sympathy with the bereaved parents,
and asks them to send some seeds to be planted over the grave."
Private William Gibson who had celebrated his 23rd birthday in March now lies in Puchevillers British Cemetery,
Somme, but the tragedy to the Gibson family did not end there. Arthur Gibson would be killed in action on the 15th of September
1916 whilst serving with the 18th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps. Sarah Ellen would unfortunately die in April 1917
and during the following month, Ben would be killed in action at Arras on the 3rd of May 1917 whilst serving with the 22nd
Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.
Attack Is Ordered To Continue
As it soon became apparent that the attack had failed, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's with "C" Company
already located in dug-outs at Gordon Castle were ordered to take up a position about 6.30 a.m. in Ross Street.
(Authors note: The Brigade War Diary states that one company was ordered to move at 6 a.m. and by 6.50 a.m. was in position
in the Old British Front Line between Elgin and Cromarty Avenues. This is undoubtedly the forward
movement of "C" Company). Subsequently at about 7.a.m., "B" Company were then ordered forward from their
assembly positions also located at Gordon Castle to assist in holding the Original/Old British Front Line on
the edge of Thiepval Wood. As of 7.17 a.m., the dispositions of the 1/5th according to the Brigade War Diary equated to "1
Coy in Front line, 1 Coy in ROSS ST, 1 at H.Q. GORDON CASTLE and one Company moving up to Front line."
It was at 8 a.m that the 1/5th received a warning order to prepare to relieve
the 1/6th West Yorkshire's in the Parallels, the latter battalion or the remnants of it, holding positions in
the First and Second Parallels respectively. As Thiepval Wood came under the increasing attentions of enemy
artillery fire, telephonic communications to Brigade Headquarters was severed but no doubt as a testimony to the efforts of
the engineers and men of the battalions signal sections, all other lines remained intact. Orders were now issued for the 1/5th
West Yorks to prepare for yet another assault on the German Front line at 8.40 a.m. however this message was subsequently
cancelled. An attack was however ordered to be carried out by the 1/7th West Yorkshire's and as they made their
way forward from positions at Gordon Castle, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Harold Tetley, Officer Commanding, visited
the Brigade Headquarters and the situation was "explained to him."
The War Diary of the 1/7th Battalion is scant on information as to the proposed assault however Tempest's
History Of The 1/6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment records that two companies of the 1/7th were to attack on the
frontage of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's. A Message & Signals note annotated "22" included
in the Brigade War Diary and timed 8.45 a.m. would appear to confirm this proposed assault and its objectives:-
"Prepare to attack enemys front line from KOYLI WEST to point 57
with 2 coys starting from old BRITISH FRONT LINE
Inform me earliest estimate of time you will take ......You will go over and through 1J (Authors note: Code
signal for 1/6th West Yorks) holding 1st + 2nd parallels."
With "A" Company of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's now placed at the disposal of the 1/8th Battalion as
of about 7 a.m., at 10.20 a.m. the 1/5th Battalion had in addition to the latter company, two companies located in the Old
British Front Line and one company in Ross Street. As enemy artillery fire increased, Joint Battalion Headquarters
of the 1/5th and 1/7th located at Gordon Castle and the slit trenches nearby came in for particular attention, Lieutenant-Colonel
Bousfield noting in a message "with more guns than on July 1." At about 11 a.m. it was reported that this
H.Q. had been "knocked in" therefore the latter was now moved to the Signal Office dug-out located at Belfast
City. Authors note: Lieutenant Gilbert Bartle Howarth M.C., 246th Brigade R.F.A. Liason Officer detailed to the 1/5th
West Yorkshire's, also reported that he had witnessed men of the 147th Brigade 'gassed' whilst performing his
duties at Gordon Castle (Source: War Diary 246th Brigade, R.F.A., WO 95/2781/4 . In addition, upon relief on the
evening of the 3rd of both the 146th and 147th Infantry Brigades, the 1/4th Yorks & Lancs took over the line from the
Ancre - Union Street, a frontage of about 800 yards. Establishing Headquarters at Belfast City, I can only
surmise that this dug-out was the one utilised due to the destruction of that located at Gordon Castle. (Source.
War Diary 1/4th Yorks & Lancs, T.N.A. WO 95/2805).
The dispositions of the 1/5th Battalion as of 11 a.m. were reported to Brigade Headquarters by Colonel Bousfield.
The British Front Line was held by 3 platoons of "D" Company on the left flank and to their right were
positioned 2 platoons of "B" Company who had adopted a position either side of Cromarty Avenue. "B"
Company had now joined up with the 1/6th West Yorks between Thurso Street and KOYLI West Sap however the
exact location of the 4th platoon of "D" Company was unknown to Bousfield but they were supposed to be in positions
in the Parallels. Reports eminating from "B" Company described the state of the British Front Line
as "so blown in that only detached posts are possible." Casualties also reported at this point in time
to "B" Company numbered 20, of "D" Company it was estimated that they had suffered three or four.
It is clear that the enemy artillery barrage of Thiepval Wood was steadily
taking its toll of the men waiting for further orders to resume the attack. Of the reserve battalions of the 147th Infantry
Brigade, the 1/7th West Riding's came in for particular attention in the eastern sector of Thiepval Wood suffering during
the course of the day 118 casualties either killed, wounded or missing including the respected and 'popular' Second-Lieutenant
Cyril Brown Newman who died on the way to a Dressing Station. (Source: Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated the 14th of September
1916). The 1/6th Dukes also numbered 37 casualties sustained whilst occupying positions at the North Bluff near Authuille,
one dug-out in Paisley Avenue containing two officers of "C" Company and an R.E. officer being blown in.
As a result of this explosion, Second-Lieutenant Frank Brooks Gill was unfortunately killed and Lieutenant Leonard Jaques
seriously wounded. (Authors note: As regards the circumstances surrounding the death of 2/Lt. Gill, the Birmingham Daily
Post dated the 9th of September 1916 records that Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Malcolm Bateman D.S.O., Officer Commanding,
upon writing to his parents informed them that "a shell burst over his dug-out, crushing him to death.").
At 11.25 a.m. a message was
received at Brigade Headquarters from a wounded officer of the 1/6th West Yorkshire's who had returned from the German
front line stating that the enemy had hurried up reinforcements over the open to his support line and that they were now holding
his front line in some strength, particularly in the area of Point 16. Confirmed by the artillery Liason Officer,
Second-Lieutenant Harold Longbottom of the 246th Brigade, R.F.A., all batteries now barraged the sector. As the situation
as it stood was now accessed, the dispositions of the 146th Infantry Brigade as of 2 p.m. were recorded as follows:-
1/5th West Yorks 2 Companies less one Platoon in the British Front
Line. One Platoon in Parallels. One Company in Ross Street, One Company attached to the 1/6th West Yorks.
1/6th West Yorks One Company in Second Parallel and One Company
in Slit Trenches at the northern aspect of Sandy Avenue. One Company and the remnants of another at Battalion Headquarters.
(Authors note: The 'remnants' were in point of fact the men of "D" Company).
1/7th West Yorks 2 Companies (less 3 platoons en route between
Gordon Castle and Front Line). Front Line. 1 1/2th Company in Slit Trenches at Gordon Castle and 1/2th a Company carrying
for Stokes mortars.
West Yorks Holding 12 Posts in the Parallels less 1 Platoon in Sap from German Front Line.
Colonel Alexander D.S.O. reported in a message contained in the Brigade War
Diary the strength of the 1/8th Battalion. Although the message is timed as of 5 p.m., it clearly shows the extent of the
losses suffered both during the attack and up to the this point of time. Strength is recorded as 6 officers and 119 men. Of
this number, 72 Other Ranks were located in the Parallels in the 12 Posts each one manned by one N.C.O. and five
men. "A" Company now comprised of just 7 Other Ranks, "B," 11 Other Ranks, "C," 7 Other Ranks
and "D," 22 Other Ranks. In addition to these companies, the battalion was able to muster 15 Scouts and 11 Bombers
however one platoon numbering 15 men, were, in effect, 'cut off' and "cannot get back till dark."
(Authors note: Presumably the platoon that had been held up in the Marsh on the eastern bank of the Ancre river).
As the enemy artillery fire
continued unabated, disaster struck one battery of the 49th Divisional Artillery. At around 12.30 p.m. as ammunition was being
unloaded at the location of C/246 Battery on the western outskirts of the village of Mesnil, the position was shelled
subsequently detonating the ammunition being carried by the Limbers and Ammunition Wagons. Six men were killed outright whilst
fourteen other men were seriously wounded, three of their number unfortunately succumbing to wounds received.
Upon observing the carnage, Captain William Barnsley Allen M.B., Royal Army
Medical Corps made his way across under heavy shell fire and commenced to dress the wounded. Awarded the Victoria Cross for
his actions on this day and the Military Cross for similar actions, his citation for the former published in the London Gazette
dated the 26th of October 1916 reads:-
"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.
When gun detachments were unloading H.E. ammunition from wagons which had just come up, the enemy suddenly began
to shell the battery position. The first shell fell on one of the limbers, exploded the ammunition and caused several casualties.
Captain Allen saw the occurrence
and at once, with utter disregard of danger, ran straight across the open, under heavy shell fire, commenced dressing the
wounded, and undoubtedly by his promptness saved many of them from bleeding to death.
He was himself hit four times during the first hour by pieces of shells,
one of which fractured two of his ribs, but he never even mentioned this at the time, and cooly went on with his work till
the last man was dressed and safely removed.
then went over to another battery and tended a wounded officer. It was only when this was done that he returned to his dug-out
and reported his own injury."
|The Daily Mirror Dated The 27th Of October, 1916
A Warning Order was now issued at 2.45 p.m. from the 49th Division
Headquarters to prepare for a second attack and this was duly passed down to all battalions of the 146th and 147th Brigades.
To attempt to finally achieve their objectives, the order stated that "situation may necessitate further attack today
on German Front and Support lines by 146 and 147 Bdes .....Time probably not earlier than 6 p.m."
The Divisional Artillery now made preparations for this second attack and
this would comprise of a shrapnel barrage of seven minutes in duration on the German Front Line and a barrage of five minutes
on the Support Line respectively. As a consequence of this order, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's, detailed for the attack,
now moved up into positions in the Old British Front Line at 3 p.m. Orders dictated that they were to advance in
two lines with two companies in the first wave, and two companies in a second wave, at fifty paces between lines. The frontage
of their attack was to be conducted from Thurso Street on the right flank, to a position extending on their left
towards the Ancre river. Once the 5th Battalion had moved forward, the 8th Battalion would take up the former positions vacated
and detail one company to hold the Old British Front Line. Under direct orders from 146th Brigade, the 2/1st Field
Company Royal Engineers would then, if this advance was successful, consolidate Points 21, 57 (German Front Line)
and Points 53 and 75 (German Support Line). Authors note: Point 75 should in fact have been designated
in the Brigade War Diary Point 72. To accomplish this consolidation, Second-Lieutenants Hubert Cyril Oldrey and Percy
George Rodger in command of the Left Half Company were brought up from the "A" Group Assembly Trenches
and positioned in Aveluy Wood whilst No.2 Composite Company of attached infantry under the command of Second-Lieutenant
Strahan? assisted as both groups gathered stores for the anticipated attack.
Orders were now also issued for one company of the 1/7th West Yorkshire's
to commence a relief of what remained of the 1/6th Battalion in the Old British Front Line and Saps. Upon
the advance of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's, the 1/8th Battalion were detailed to move one company into positions vacated
by the 1/5th, the 146th Machine Gun Company then would be ordered forward once the allocated points in the enemy trench system
were captured to assist and cover their consolidation. In addition to this, two Stokes mortars were to be positioned in the
enemy front line as soon as the attack had commenced on the latters respective support line whilst two machine guns of Number
3 Section and three guns of Number of Number 1 Section, 146th M.G.C. were established and positioned in the front line in
anticipation of the announcement of "Zero" hour. Further orders stipulated that the 1/6th West Yorks and their Battalion
Headquarters were upon relief to proceed to Gordon Castle whilst one platoon of the 1/7th Battalion were to be placed
at the disposal of the 1/5th Battalion for carrying purposes. The latter were to take the German Front Line with "B"
and "D" Companies and "C" Company of the 1/7th West Yorks whilst "A" and "C" Companies
of the 1/5th were ordered to advance and take the Support Line respectively.
As all units prior to the assault busied themselves checking equipment, rations,
ammunition and consolidation materials, orders were then issued for the cancellation of the attack, the 1/5th Battalion War
Diary recording that they at least received the order at 6.30 p.m. The West Riding Territorials In The Great War
by Laurie Magnus published in 1920 records that during the week, the 49th (West Riding) Division had suffered the following
casualties, most being sustained during the attack of the 3rd of September:-
Officers Killed 14
Ranks Killed 196
1801 (N.B. Casualties Includes 7th Battalions In Reserve)
|By Kind Permission Of IWM (Q 1075)
|View Of The Ruined Village Of Thiepval, From Thiepval Wood, September 1916
Casualties: Officers, 1/5th West Yorkshire's
Author has included a number of men who were either killed or wounded during the course of the attack. Of those in relation
to a broader spectrum of localities, I recommend that the reader refers to the excellent Harrogate Terriers by John
The Battalion War Diary records that on the 3rd of September 1916, the battalion suffered 2 officers killed and 4
wounded whilst in Other Ranks, 20 were numbered as killed, 73 wounded and 10 missing. (N.B. Casualties suffered until 5.30
a.m. on the morning of the 4th upon relief).
Newton Goodwill, aged 29 years and a married man of Swann Street, Nunnery Lane, York. Born at Whitby in 1887, Cyril was the
son of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Goodwill, a Goods Clerk employed by the North Eastern Railway Company. Upon the family relocating
to York, Cyril followed in his fathers footsteps and joined the N.E.R. as a Clerk in 1903 employed in the York Goods Station.
Enlisting at York in 1905, early military service would be conducted with the 1st East Riding Yorkshire R.G.A. (Volunteers)
until the termination of his engagement in 1911. Commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant on the 30th of July 1915 (London Gazette
dated the 11th of August 1915), he married at York in December 1915 and proceeded to join the 1/5th Battalion on the 13th
of July 1916 whilst they were holding positions near Thiepval. "Killed by shell fire" (Whitby Gazette dated
the 20th of October 1916), Cyril was originally buried near Thiepval Wood before his body was exhumed and interred in Mill
Road Cemetery in 1919.
Temporary Captain Alfred
Charles Watson, aged 35 years. The son of John Thomas and Theresa Watson, Alfred was born at York in 1881. The son of a Railway
Clerk employed by the N.E.R., he followed in his fathers footsteps and also found employment on the Railway as a Clerk. Married
in 1907 at York to one Sarah Elizabeth Brocklebank, the couple set up residence at Number 24, Ratcliffe Street in the Clifton
area of the City before moving to the Bishopthorpe area. In sporting circles, he was well known as an "enthusiastic"
cricketer captaining the York Club first eleven for several seasons. Prominent in Yorkshire Council cricket circles, on several
occasions he obtained a place in the Yorkshire County Second Eleven. (Source: The Yorkshire Post dated the 9th of September
1916). Commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the 1/5th Battalion on the 12th of July 1915 (London Gazette dated the 24th
of July 1915), he was then appointed to the rank of Temporary Captain on the 17th of December 1915 (London Gazette dated the
13th of January 1916). Posted to the battalion on the 7th of August 1916 whilst they were holding positions in the Leipzig
Salient at Thiepval, Captain Watson was killed by shell fire late in the evening of the 3rd whilst the battalion were
awaiting relief. Originally buried in Paisley Avenue Cemetery, his body was exhumed in 1920 and interred in Lonsdale
Major Robert Cattley aged
50 years, born at Wiganthorpe, Yorkshire, in 1866. An experienced soldier who had witnessed service in South Africa with the
3rd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, he was commissioned into the latter formation as Medical Officer, Temporary Captain, on the
15th of December 1900 (London Gazette dated the 14th of May 1901). Relinquishing his commission in September 1902 and granted
the honorary rank of Captain, prior to this he is recorded as serving with the 1st Volunteer Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment.
As regards his medical capabilities, Cattley had between the years of 1894 - 1900 been appointed the Medical Officer of Health
for York and had for several years been engaged in research work at Leeds University. (Source: The Yorkshire Post dated the
21st of June 1915). An Honorary Fellow in Pathology, he was promoted to the rank of Major in the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment on the 29th of April 1914 (London Gazette dated the 2nd of June 1914) as "owing to the changes in that battalion
consequent on the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Morrell V.D., of Harrogate." (Source: The Leeds Mercury dated the
5th of June 1914). Authors note: Colonel Arthur Robert Morrell, assumed command in 1912. Proceeding overseas with the battalion
in April 1915, Major Cattley was wounded in June (Author: No entry recorded in the War Diary) whilst the battalion were in
the Laventie Sector south of Armentieres. The nature of his wounds received during a bombardment of the trenches resulted
in an "injury to the head and severe concussion" and he was as a consequence evacuated to one of the many
Base Hospitals located at Boulogne. (Source: The Yorkshire Post dated the 21st of June 1915). Authors note: His condition
was reported as such by Dr. Alexander Reid Stoddart, late of the 1/5th Battalion, Surgeon-Major, Royal Army Medical Corps.
He had in fact been admitted to hospital with a "Fracture base of skull" on the 27th of June 1915. (Source:
T.N.A. MH 106/1659). Returning to the battalion on the 24th of July 1916 whilst they were in training at Bouzincourt, Somme,
Major Cattley fell victim to the enemy artillery barrage that fell on the Thiepval Sector on the 3rd of September. Suffering
from Shell Shock and possibly wounded (annotation "W" ), he was at first treated by the 2nd West
Riding Field Ambulance located at Forceville before being transferred to the 11th Casualty Clearing Station located at Gezaincourt.
Upon recuperation in England, Cattley was posted to the 9th Training Reserve Battalion and upon completion of his service,
he returned to medical duties at York and would die in 1951 aged a ripe 85 years of age.
Second-Lieutenant George Norman Baines aged 33 years and a native of Northallerton. Educated at Northallerton Grammar
School and the North East County School at Barnard Castle, prior to the war he was employed as a Civil Engineer in the Railway
Engineers Office at York. Married at Brayton near Selby in 1912, he received his commission as a Second-Lieutenant in the
5th Battalion on the 3rd of June 1915 (London Gazette dated the 17th of June 1915). Joining the 1/5th West Yorkshire's
on the 19th of August 1916 whilst they were out of the line and in billets at Acheux Wood, Baines was also hit in the artillery
bombardment of the 3rd of September. Evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers suffering from
Shell Shock and an injury to his hand, he was then transferred to the 11th C.C.S. at Gezaincourt. (Source: T.N.A.
MH 106/497). Posted to the Royal Engineers, he would attain the rank of Captain and then Temporary Major and be awarded the
M.B.E. in 1919. (London Gazette dated the 3rd of June 1919).
Second-Lieutenant William Jeffkins Holdich, aged 26 and a native of Richmond, Surrey. A Clerk employed by the Royal
Mail Steam Packet Company, Holdich was granted a commission with the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment on the 22nd of
December 1915. (London Gazette dated the 21st of December 1915). Posted to the 1/5th Battalion on the 22nd of August 1916
whilst they were at Acheux Wood, Holdich received a Gun Shot Wound (Leg) on the 3rd of September and was
subsequently evacuated to the 7th General Hospital located at Boulogne. Embarking for treatment in the United Kingdom, he
would spend a number of days in hospital including receiving treatment at Mrs. Mitchison's Hospital for Officers in Chelsea.
(T.N.A. MH 106/1792). Posted as Adjutant of a Labour Group Headquarters as a Temporary Captain, he would eventually attain
the rank of Major and be awarded the O.B.E. in 1919.
Arthur Edward Reynolds, aged 22 years. Little is known about this officer other than he enlisted as a Gunner in the West Riding
Field Artillery Brigade, 1384, and was posted overseas in April 1915. Commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the West Yorkshire
Regiment on the 27th of January 1916 (London Gazette dated the 4th of February 1916). There is some doubt as to when he actually
joined the battalion in the field as there appears to be no record of his arrival in the Battalion War Diary but I surmise
that this may have been in the month of August 1916. Wounded on the 3rd of September and suffering a Gun Shot Wound, Left
Leg, he was evacuated to the 18th General Hospital located at Camiers whereupon he was then evacuated to England. (T.N.A.
N.C.O.'s & Other Ranks
Michael Jackson, 6508, aged 29 years and a native of York.
Born at Gibraltar in 1887 and with other siblings born in India, it is more than likely that his father had witnessed
service with the military but although there are surviving service documents for one William Jackson, it is impossible to
plot his service with any degree of accuracy. It appears that Michael had an early 'troubled' life as in the 1901
Census and now aged 14 years, he was recorded as an Inmate at the Roman Catholic Reformatory School located at Holme upon
Spalding Moor. In late 1904 or early 1905, he enlisted at York into the ranks of the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
and by the year of 1911 he was serving in India. Originally allocated the serial number 7828 and upon returning to England
in late 1911, after fullfilling his terms of service, he was then placed on the Army Reserve. Shortly after the outbreak of
the war he was subsequently mobilised and posted overseas with the 1st Battalion in September 1914 as part of the 6th Division
and witnessed his first action on the Western Front on the Aisne. Suffering from sickness, he was then transferred to the
1st (Garrison Battalion) who were stationed on the island of Malta before being posted to the 1/5th Battalion as part of a
draft of 178 Other Ranks that reported at Puchevillers on the 21st of June 1916. Comprising of men who had either served with
the 1st or 2nd Battalions of the Regiment, the men were subsequently re-numbered, inspected and allocated to their respective
companies on the 23rd. Killed during the attack of the 3rd of September, Michael has no known grave and is therefore commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial. Note: Michael's brother Frederick also served in the 1/5th Battalion. Enlisting at York in 1911
and serving as a Company Pioneer with "A" Company, Frederick succumbed to wounds of his thigh and legs on the 11th
October 1917 at the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station located at Poperinghe aged 25 years. Both brothers are also commemorated
on the St. Georges Church War Memorial located in Margaret Street, York.
Of the wounded, there was Lance-Corporal Henry "Harry" Barber, 2167, of East Keswick. Son of Thomas and
Emma Barber, his father was a local Farmer whilst his mother suplemented the family income by being employed as a Tailor's
Cutter. Employed before the war by Messrs. D. Scott & Sons, Grocers, of Oatlands Mount, Harry enlisted at Harrogate upon
the outbreak of the war. Posted overseas with the 5th Battalion in April 1915, he was wounded during the attack and evacuated
to the 49th Casualty Clearing Station only recently established at Contay on the 12th of August under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Hamilton George Frampton Stallard. With the first casualties arriving at the C.C.S. at 9 a.m. on the morning of the 3rd September,
on the following day and due to a lack of Bearers, some of the wounded had to lie in the open outside the Reception Tent.
(Source: T.N.A. WO95/417/2). It was on this day and with the C.C.S. coming under increasing pressure, that Henry unfortunately
succumbed to wounds received. (Note: Leeds Mercury dated the 29th of September 1916 reports "gatewounds"
but surely this typographical error simply refers to Gun Shot Wounds, a euphemism for wounds received either by artillery
shell or rifle bullet). Buried in Contay British Cemetery, the inscription on his grave simply reads "Missed Most
By Those Who Loved Him Best Thy Will Be Done."
Private Edward Alexander Robinson, 2415, of St. Wilfrid's
Road, Ripon. "Alec" was born in Leeds in 1895, the only son of parents Edward Wilfred and Marion Robinson. At some
point after his birth, the family relocated to Ripon where his father was employed as a Clothiers Assistant. His father would
unfortunately die prematurely in 1911 aged just 40 years, Edward, at this juncture, having found employment as a Clerk with
the North-Eastern Railway Company. Before the outbreak of the war, he would be employed at Starbeck and would enlist at Harrogate.
Posted overseas in April 1915, the exact circumstances of his death are unknown but denied a known grave, he is now commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial. (Source based on newspaper article, Leeds Mercury dated the 13th of September 1916).
Another Ripon man would also lose his life on this day, Private Frederick
Snowden Lickley, 3330. Born in 1895 at Ripon, he was residing with his Grandfather in 1901 at premises located in North Street.
Enlisting at Ripon circa July 1915 and possibly initially serving with the 2/5th Battalion, he was posted overseas in late
December 1915 and joined the battalion at some point after this date. Note: No significant drafts recorded until March 1916.
Killed in action, Frederick is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Lance-Corporal Leonard Buckle, 2819, aged 23 years and a native of Tockwith.
Born at Tockwith in 1893, Leonard was the son of Edward, a General Labourer, and Annie Buckle. One of seven children, by the
year of 1911 and now aged 17 years, he had found employment as a Waggoner on the farm of one Mr. John Jackson at Northlands
Farm, Hunsingore. Enlisting at Knaresborough in September 1914 and embarking with the 1/5th Battalion in April 1915, Leonard
I surmise was killed or died of wounds in Thiepval Wood no doubt as a consequence of the enemy artillery barrage. Originally
buried at Gordon Castle Cemetery, his body along with others was exhumed 1919 and then interred at Connaught Cemetery,
Thiepval. The loss of Leonard however would be succeeded by that of his two remaining brothers, Percival and Thomas. Percival,
enlisting into the 1/8th West Yorkshire's, would be killed in action on the 9th of October 1917 at Poelcappelle aged 27
years. Denied a known grave, he is now commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. "Tom" would die of
wounds on the 29th of October 1918 at the 99th Field Ambulance whilst serving with the 16th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle
Corps. Aged 22 years and buried at Awoingt British Cemetery located to the south-east of Cambrai, if he had survived just
twelve more days, "Tom" would have survived the war and returned home to Tockwith and his job as a Butcher.
Amongst the wounded were a number of men from Wetherby including Sergeant
Walter Mellor, 1992, of St. James Street. Gassed on the 19th of December 1915 whilst the battalion were holding positions
on the Canal Bank Sector north of Ypres, Walter had witnessed previous service with the 5th West Yorkshire's until the
"termination of his engagement." Then enlisting into the ranks of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1912,
he was discharged from his service obligation at his own request in 1913 upon the payment of £18. Re-enlisting into
the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment upon the outbreak of the war, he would eventually be commissioned into the 2/6th
Battalion of the Regiment and suffer shrapnel wounds to his shoulder at Cambrai in 1917. He would then serve in the Royal
Air Force with 216 Squadron in Egypt, Palestine and France and be Mentioned in Despatches in 1919.
Private Maurice Wrigglesworth, 1559, of Grafton Square, Wetherby. Enlisting
in February 1914, it was reported in the Leeds Mercury dated the 8th of September 1916 that this was the second time that
Maurice had been wounded, this 'first' wounding being confirmed in a Casualty List published on the 1st of September
1915. Reported as wounded on the 3rd of September, he was discharged from the service on the 16th of September 1916 as a direct
consequence of war service.
Private William Pratt, 1489, of St. James Street, Wetherby. Enlisting in 1913, "John Willie" Pratt would receive
a Gun Shot Wound to his back during the course of the attack. Evacuated to England and after a period spent serving
in the 5th (Reserve) Battalion at Clipstone Camp, he was posted to the 2/6th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment in August
1917 and would unfortunately be killed at Cambrai on the 22nd of November 1917.
Drummer Luke Paylor, 1990, a native of Ripon. The 1911 Census records Luke
as a Boarder with one Charles Hallett, a Drapers Traveller, both lodging in premises located in Horsefair. At this juncture,
Luke is recorded as being employed as a Butcher in a Pork Butchers, possibly I surmise employed by Spiegelhalters located
in the Market Place. Enlisting in August 1914, he also appears in a Casualty List dated the 1st of January 1916 along with
Walter Mellor and this would suggest that he was also a victim of the gas attack of the 19th of December 1915. Suffering a
severe wound to his right leg, he would be evacuated to England and admitted to a hospital at Norwich (Source: Leeds Mercury
dated the 12th of September 1916) and would be discharged from military service in July 1917.
Casualties: Officers, 1/7th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
being in Reserve for the majority of the day, the 1/7th Battalion suffered in both offiicers and men 21 casualties either
killed or died of wounds. The War Diary does not even record the number of casualties sustained however of this number, 3
officers were killed.
Hugh Alexander Wyllie, a native of Newmains, Caerlaverock, Dumfries, aged 26 years. The third son of Mr. Hugh Wyllie, he had
received his education at Hutton Hall, Caerlaverock, Dumfries Academy, Glasgow University and at the West of Scotland Agricultural
College also located in the city. He graduated B.Sc. in agriculture and also gained the National Diploma in Design at Kilmarnock
Dairy School and the National Diploma in Agriculture at Leeds University. Upon the outbreak of the war, he was employed as
an Assistant in the Agricultural Department at Leeds University. (Sources: Leeds Mercury and the Yorkshire Post both dated
the 14th of September 1916). The Dumfries & Galloway Standard & Advertiser dated the 13th of September 1916 expands
on his time at Leeds:-
the first week of the war he joined the Leeds O.T.C., and during the winter of 1914 repeatedly asked permission of Professor
Seton (Robert Sutherland Seton) under who he worked, to give up his duties and enter the army. The latter, however,
desired him to complete that session at his work."
The article continues to describe his character:-
"He was a young man of fine disposition, and exceedingly popular, alike at school and college and in the
army, making many fast friends. He had a bent to literature, and took a leading part in conducting the college magazine during
Lance-Corporal Hugh Alexander Wyllie was commissioned on the 9th of September 1915 from the Leeds University Contingent, Senior
Division, Officer Training Corps, as a Second-Lieutenant (Source: London Gazette dated 25th of September 1915) and posted
overseas on the 23rd of May 1916. The aforementioned newspaper article includes an extract of a letter sent to his parents
by the Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel Setler (sic) Colonel Charles Harold Tetley:-
"I cannot tell you how very grieved I am at having to write and
tell you of your son's death. He was killed on the morning of September 3d (sic) during an attack which was being
on the enemy by our division. Our battalion was in reserve, but we had to move up to a position nearer to the trenches, and
the place in which we had to wait was being heavily shelled. Your son was killed very soon after he got there, so that he
had no suspense of waiting. He was killed absolutely instantaneously, I am glad to say. During the short time that he had
been with the battalion your son had made himself much liked by all the officers and men. He was always ready for any task
which came his way, and did his duty in the most quiet and unassuming manner. I hope it may be some consolation to you to
know that he was killed while attending to the welfare and safety of his men. We shall all miss him very much."
Another letter was also
sent to Hugh's parents by his Company Commander, Lieutenant Ernest Walling:-
"It is with much regret that I have to announce to you the death
of your son. He was killed on 3d (sic) of September in assembling trenches, where we assembled preparatory to an
assault on the German line. He was hit by a shell and death was instantaneous. We are all very sorry to lose him. I had a
very high opinion of his capability as an officer, and I know that this opinion was shared by his men. He was quite fearless,
and always more than willing to do anything for their welfare. I always felt that I would place the utmost confidence in him
under any circumstances. Please accept many deepest sympathy with you and your family in your bereavement."
Second-Lieutenant Hugh Alexander Wyllie now lies at peace in Aveluy Wood
Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart.
Second-Lieutenant Ernest Edward Brannigan, aged 40 years. The only son of Major John Henderson, Royal Army Medical
Corps and Maria Brannigan, Ernest was born in 1876 in Dublin, Ireland. The Liverpool Post And Mercury dated the 14th of September
1916 records some details as regards his early life:-
"Second-Lieutenant Ernest Brannigan (West Yorkshire Regiment) reported missing, believed killed, on the
3rd inst., was the only son of Major Brannigan, brother of Dr. R. Allen Brannigan, of Upper Parliament-street, Liverpool.
While his father was serving in India, young Ernest Brannigan was brought up by his uncle in Liverpool. After some preliminary
business training with a local firm of underwriters, he went to South Africa, where, on the outbreak of the Boer war, he joined
up with the famous Bethune's Mounted Infantry, in which he served with distinction. Subsequently, he went into business
in Johannesburg. During the present war he served through the campaign with General Botha in German South-West Africa, after
which he paid his own passage home and applied for a commission. This was quickly granted to him, and after a few weeks training
he went to the front a few months ago. Second-Lieutenant Brannigan, who received part of his education in Germany, was a clever
linguist, speaking German, Dutch, and French fluently. He had some journalistic experience on a Johannesburg paper, but subsequently
was interested in gold mining. His father is serving with the colours at the present time."
Commissioned on the 25th of January 1916 (London Gazette dated the 24th of
January 1916), Ernest was posted to France on the 29th of May 1916. Posted as missing believed killed, this talented officer
has no known grave and is therefore now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Second-Lieutenant Alfred Sunderland Leresche aged 39 years. Born
in 1877 at Langside, Renfrewshire, Scotland, Alfred was the youngest son of Charles Samuel, at this juncture a Secretary at
the City of Glasgow Bank, and Isabella Margaret Leresche. Before this appointment, Charles Samuel had been in a partnership
as a Shipping Manager and Merchant based in London and Calcutta but upon him being declared bankrupt less than two years after
Alfred's birth due to a banking scandal, the family eventually relocated to London. Educated at Rugby School between the
years of 1892-1893, Alfred embarked on a career as an Assistant employed by the P & O Company and spent a number of years
residing in both Singapore and Bombay, later describing his occupation of that of a Merchant. In 1903, he married one Miss
Hilda Harvey, the daughter of the late Mr. Henry Horn Harvey at St. Mary Bredin Church in Canterbury, Kent. Moving overseas
to Rhodesia, Alfred then took up a life of farming before returning to the United Kingdom in January 1916 with his wife and
3 year old daughter, Hope Leresch.
a second daughter, Hilda born in London in April 1916, Alfred was commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant, on Probation, into
the West Yorkshire Regiment on the 10th of February 1916 (London Gazette dated the 15th of February 1916). Posted overseas
in July 1916 whilst the battalion were heavily engaged in the Thiepval Sector, Alfred was unfortunately killed by shell fire
on the 3rd of September, his body was originally buried in a location south of Gordon Castle in Thiepval Wood. Exhumed
in 1928, the full extent of injuries to his body soon became apparent in an exhumation report recorded by the then Imperial
War Graves Commission; "Body Badly Smashed. Left Leg shot off above the knee. Hips broken. No trace of right leg."
Alfred now lies buried in Serre Road Number 2 Cemetery, his inscription on his gravestone reading "Beloved Husband
Of Hilda Leresche Pro Patria Mortuus Est."
Casualties: N.C.O.'s & Other Ranks
Private George Hampson, 2925, of 11 Vinery Grove, York Road, Leeds, a Bill
Poster by trade. Married on the 31st of October 1914 to one Annie Ingle at All Saints Church, Richmond Hill, Leeds, George
enlisted in the following month. Posted overseas on the 29th of June 1915 whilst the battalion were about to move to the Canal
Bank Sector north of Ypres, in October of that year a baby daughter, Eva, was born at Leeds. Killed in action on the 3rd,
the Leeds Mercury dated the 13th of September 1916 published a photograph picked up in the trenches by one Private A. Mooney
of the West Yorkshire Regiment. (Note: Possibly one Andrew Mooney of the 1/6th Battalion). Instantly recognised by Mrs. Hampson,
also included in the package was a photograph of Eva, the child he had never seen. His body lost, George is now commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial.
Rowland Hill Clapham, 3280, aged 24 years, of Dow Place, Hunslet, Leeds. Born in 1892, Rowland was the son of Joe, a Boiler
Maker, and Polly Clapham. One of four children, Rowland was born whilst the family were residing in premises located in The
Crescent, off Dewsbury Road, and in 1911 his occupation is described as that of a Moulders Assistant working in an Iron Foundry.
Enlisting in November 1914, he was posted overseas in April 1915 and killed in action on the 3rd of September. Commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial, both his brother and his father would serve in the Great War with the Durham Light Infantry and
the Rifle Brigade respectively. Both father and son would survive the conflict.
Lance-Corporal Albert Standage, 1909, of 3, Silsbury Street, Beeston Road,
Leeds aged 21. (Note: The year of 1916 records the family residing at 13 Askern Street, Hunslet). Born in 1895 whilst the
family were residing at Low Place, Hunslet, Albert was the son of George, a General Labourer, and Mary Standage. The 1911
Census records that at this juncture he was employed as a Glass Blower at one of Hunslet's many thriving Glass Works.
Enlisting at Leeds in August 1914, Albert was originally reported as missing in a casualty list published on the 28th of September
1916 but later he was declared as presumed dead on or since the 3rd of September and is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Two of his brothers would also enlist and make the ultimate sacrifice.
Robert would enlist into the ranks of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and be posted overseas in May
1915 as a draft to the 1st Battalion. He would then serve with the 2nd and 9th Battalions and be wounded on numerous occasions
before being killed in action whilst serving with the latter battalion on the 22nd of March 1918 north-east of Peronne. Denied
a known grave, he is now commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial. Ben Reed Standage would enlist at Leeds in January 1917 and
was called up for service in the following January aged 18 years and one month. A Paper Maker by trade, he would inititially
serve with the 51st (Graduated) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers before being posted overseas in July 1918 as part of a
draft to the 2/4th York & Lancaster Regiment who had witnessed severe fighting south of Reims. Posted to "B"
Company, Ben possibly numbered amongst a draft of 85 Other Ranks that were described by the Battalion War Diary as "composed
of boys of 18 years & 6 months." Killed in action near Marcoing, Ben is now buried in Fifteen Ravine British
the wounded, one of their number was one Private Ernest Herbert Meek, 2071, aged 38 years. Born in 1878, Ernest was the son
of John William, a Leather Currier, and Sarah Meek, nee Strickland, who was born at Tadcaster. In 1881, the family were residing
in premises located in Waterloo Lane, Bramley, however by the recording of the next Census in 1891, the family were residing
in Wilson Place. It appears that at this juncture that the family unit was minus their father as Sarah now refers to herself
as "Sarah Strickland." With Ernest recorded as being employed as a "Bobbin Doffer," a newspaper
article published in the Leeds Times dated the 30th of July 1898 refers to one Sarah Meek being remanded at Leeds City Police
Court on account of "wandering abroad whilst of unsound mind." Conveyed to Menston Asylum, Sarah Meek,
would unfortunately die in July 1916 whilst still a Patient at Menston, her date of birth and death confirming that this indeed
was Ernest's mother. There now followed a virtual 'break up' of the family, Ernest's brothers, Edward and
Charles being recorded in the 1901 Census as residing as Boarders at Number 37 Evanston Road, Burley, Leeds, of Ernest, I
can find no trace in either this Census or the one conducted in 1911.
Enlisting in August 1914, he was posted overseas with the 1/7th Battalion in April 1915 and succumbed to wounds received
at one of the Casualty Clearing Stations located at Puchevillers on the 5th of September 1916. The inscription on his grave
chosen by his brother reads "Farewell Dear Brother Until The Day Breaks And Shadows Flee Away."
|Puchevillers British Cemetery, April 2012
The Calm Before The Storm
the attack cancelled, orders were now received at 146th Infantry Brigade Headquarters at 7.40 p.m. for the relief of the brigade
by the 148th Brigade. At midnight, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were now ordered to take over the British Front Line as
originally held prior to their relief which was commenced by the 1/4th York and Lancaster's at 2 a.m. on the morning of
the 4th. Moving all four of their companies into the line from Sandy Avenue - Ancre river, the relief of
the 1/5th was completed at about 5.30 a.m. whereupon the battalion proceeded as ordered to Martinsart Wood which was reached
at 7.30 a.m. Numbered about 360 in strength, they were also joined in the wood by the 1/7th West Yorkshire's, the latter
it is recorded, moving into hutments. The 1/5th Battalion now spent the 4th of September 'resting' but for some the
strain had become a heavy burden, Temporary Captain Barnet Swinton Bland who had constantly suffered with a knee problem since
1915, being admitted to hospital "sick."
Whilst still at rest in the wood, the Officers Commanding Companies set about compiling indents of clothing and although
technically "at rest," a Working Party of 80 Other Ranks was formed from "A" and "B"
Companies and the Battalions Scouts to carry trench mortar ammunition. As the 147th Trench Mortar and 147th Machine Gun Company,
the latter minus one section who were to remain at Hamel, were withdrawn to Forceville, orders were received by the 1/5th
West Yorkshire's to also proceed to Forceville but about forty-five minutes before they departed Martinsart Wood, the
latter was heavily shelled for the duration of ten minutes, fortunately, with no casualties being sustained. Unfortunately
for the remaining Number 2 Section of the M.G.C. located at Hamel, they were shelled during the afternoon resulting in the
wounding of Second-Lieutenant Malcolm Walter Hill, attached, 1/6th West Yorkshire's and 3 Other Ranks.
Joining the 1/6th and 1/8th West Yorkshire's who had proceeded to Forceville
immediately after being withdrawn from the line, the 1/5th in brigade commenced a programme of company and platoon training
and general reorganisation as well as providing working parties for the trenches comprising of up to 220 men on a daily basis.
On the 6th, two drafts of reinforcements were received by the battalion, one numbering 30 men, the other, 22 respectively.
In addition to these drafts, Captain Rupert Rowlance Lansdale rejoined the battalion after recovering from the effects of
gas received in December 1915 whilst Second-Lieutenant Walker joined for duty. Note: The Army List corrected to November 1916
records just one R. Walker, a Temporary Lieutenant. Despite the apparent lack of a Medal Index Card, this officer is one Reginald
Walker, Second-Lieutenant (Temporary Lieutenant, London Gazette dated the 4th of February 1916).
The 1/7th West Yorkshire's (Leeds Rifles), minus two companies who were
left at Martinsart Wood employed as working parties now joined the brigade at Forceville as the G.O.C., Temporary Brigadier-General
Michael Derwas Goring-Jones C.M.G. inspected the newly arrived drafts. Complaints about the variety and quality of these drafts
were now voiced by Battalion Commanders and it was estimated that they emanated from over twenty-one different battalions.
More serious criticism was that there was a lack of men sent to train their own battalions, no doubt comments expressed in
relation to the loss of 'Specialists' such as Lewis gunners and Battalion Bombers. It was therefore believed, that
there was probably, if it did not exist already, a lack of esprit de corps and low morale about to manifest itself.
To its credit, the brigade sent in reports as regards the latter comments to higher military authority.
On the 8th, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's received a further draft numbering
68 Other Ranks but at 11.30 a.m., Forceville now came under the attentions of long range enemy artillery fire. The Dressing
Station occupied by the 1/2nd West Riding Field Ambulance was severley damaged by 5.9. inch rounds, the Officers Hospital
Hut being virtually wrecked by the concussion of bursting shells. Fortunately, one Sergeant Raper had great presense of mind
to remove the officers into cellars located beneath the Officers Mess. Note: Possibly Sergeant Benjamin Raper, 1666. No award
for gallantry. Further shells also damaged the Main Building and various Sheds for the treatment of the wounded but the latter
were also moved to the safety of cellars and fortunately no casualties were sustained. (T.N.A. WO95/2789/2). The 146th Infantry
Brigade War Diary records however that there was one casualty but is impossible to state with some degree of accuracy, who
this "Tommy" actually was.
continued, it was on the 10th of September that both the 1/5th and the 1/6th West Yorkshire's were inspected by the Corps
Commander, Major-General (Temporary Lieutenant-General) Claud William Jacob C.B., Second Corps, Reserve Army. Preparations
were now well in hand that would ultimately lead to the Battle of Flers-Courcellette and it was on the 12th that the 146th
Brigade received orders to "operate as a flying column with the Cavalry in the case of the enemy's line being
broken." On the 14th however, these orders were subsequently cancelled and the brigade carried on with it's
programme of training in all aspects of warfare. A visit to the 1/5th Battalion was also made on this day by the Divisional
Commander, Major-General Edward Maxwell Perceval C.B., D.S.O. who also paid a visit to the 1/7th Battalion.
With the brigade receiving orders to move at two hours notice if required
from the 15th instant, news now began to filter through to the men of the successful operations mounted in the Thiepval Sector
by the 11th (Northern) Division and the Allied offensive as a whole across the Somme. Further orders were now issued rescinding
those issued on the 13th as the various battalions of the brigade continued their training and the practising of attacks over
tapes. As the weather turned for the worse with heavy and continuous rain, it was on the 18th of September that the brigade
moved from Forceville to Hedauville, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's departing the former village at 3.30 p.m. and proceeding
by route of march in companies at three minute intervals whereupon billets at Hedauville were available for occupation on
Practising attacks over two lines
of trenches, at 9.30 a.m. on the morning of the 20th, the 1/5th Battalion marched by platoons at five minute intervals to
Martinsart Wood where huts were occupied by 11.30 a.m. A showery afternoon was then spent reparing the huts and clearing lines
as the battalion was now in Reserve. Both the 1/7th and the 1/8th Battalions now moved into the line to relieve units of the
148th Infantry Brigade from Thiepval Avenue (exclusive), to the Ancre river, right and left battalions respectively,
whilst the 1/6th Battalion took up positions in Support and were distributed in Paisley Avenue, Inniskilling Slits
and Gordon Castle.
The reliefs passed
relatively without incident and on the following day the 1/5th West Yorkshire's furnished Working Parties; one officer
and 50 Other Ranks for carrying trench mortars, four officers and 200 Other Ranks for Working Party, and one officer and 40
Other Ranks of "A" Company clearing communication trenches in Thiepval Wood. There is no record of any incidents
of note reported on the 20th however on the 21st, the Battalion War Diary records that 4 Other Ranks were wounded, two by
gas. The War Diary of the 248th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery however does shed some light on the activities of enemy artillery.
Between the hours of 11 p.m. and 12 midnight on the 20th, the enemy shelled the environs of Mesnil with 77 mm and 4.2 inch
shells, this barrage being 'mixed' with gas shells. I surmise therefore that possibly during this barrage, the
"Butchers Bill " resulted in the deaths of three men, one of there number being Private Harold Wray, 2967,
1/5th West Yorkshire's. The two other men unfortunately killed were Rifleman Charles Davidson, 4451, aged 21 years of
Ravensburgh Street, Burley, Leeds, formerly employed at Leeds Forge, and Rifleman William Speed, 4435, aged 28 years of Sutherland
Mount, Harehills, Leeds, formerly employed at the Meadow Lane Gas Works. Both these men were killed whilst serving with the
1/8th Battalion (Leeds Rifles) and are now buried in Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart.
Harold Wray was born in 1890 at Bishop Thornton to parents Samuel, a Grocer
and Silk Dresser, and Eliza Wray. By 1911, "Harry" had also found employment at one of the village's Silk Mills
as a "Dresser" as had the majority of the family. Enlisting at Harrogate shortly after the outbreak of the war,
it is surmised that his initial service may have been performed with the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
before he was posted overseas on the 30th of June 1915. Joining the 1/5th Battalion in the field whilst they were occupying
the trenches north of Ypres, in February 1916 he no doubt received the news of his father's death aged 56 years whilst
the battalion were at Thiepval, Somme. Killed by the bursting of a shell on the 20th of September (Leeds Mercury dated the
16th of October 1916), Harold Wray is now also buried in Aveluy Wood Cemetery.
|Harrogate Herald Dated The 16th of June, 1915
The 21st of September also resulted in the deaths of two further
men from the 1/8th West Yorkshire's, Private Owen Wright Hanson, 5380, and Private John Usher Gladstone, 6105. Private
Hanson, aged 24 years, a native of Burley, Leeds, was reported to have died of wounds in the Yorkshire Evening Post dated
the 7th of October 1916. Originally enlisting in May 1914, he was discharged as being "medically unfit" in
October of that year. Employed at the Horsforth Manufacturing Company, he was no doubt conscripted in early 1916 and was originally
buried in Gordon Castle Cemetery in Thiepval Wood before his body was exhumed and concentrated into Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval.
John Usher Gladstone, a native of Sedgefield.
Prior to the war, John had been employed as a Bricklayer and initially enlisted into possibly one of the Second Line Territorial
Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry. I surmise that John may have only been at the front for a matter of days or weeks
before he was killed. Denied a known grave, he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
As Working Parties continued to be formed, the 1/5th Battalion continued
their training under the watchful eyes of their Company Commanders and Specialist Officers. One Working Party comprising of
one officer and 48 Other Ranks of "A" Company were detailed for the clearing of trenches in Thiepval Wood and it
was whilst during the night of the 22nd/23rd that enemy artillery deluged the Martinsart area with lachrymatory shells ("Tear
Gas"). Mesnil was also shelled and between the hours of 11 p.m. on the 22nd and 2.30 a.m. on the 23rd, at one point shells
were falling at a rate of ten rounds per minute. (T.N.A. War Diary, 248th Brigade, R.F.A., WO95/2782/2).
It was on the 23rd that four 'new' officers joined the 1/5th Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment; Second-Lieutenants Leonard Colin Tyrrell, Walter Kenneth Whittle, Sydney Thomas Dawson and Walter
Laurence De Groot. On the following day and as training continued, a Working Party was formed from "B" Company for
clearing the trenches in Thiepval Wood as "D" Company also furnished a Carrying Party numbering one officer and
40 Other Ranks in the morning. "A" Company did not escape work details also as one party numbering one officer and
50 Other Ranks were detailed to clear "rubbish" from Paisley Avenue as "D" Company furnished
yet another party numbering one officer and 50 Other Ranks to clear Hamilton Avenue. To assist the Composite Company,
"B" Company numbering one officer and 31 Other Ranks were detailed for fatigues.
As units of the 147th Brigade had almost completed the construction of new
and communication trenches in the vicinity of the "Wonder Work" which had been captured on the 14th, they
were relieved by elements of the 53rd and 54th Infantry Brigades of the 18th (Eastern) Division.
To the rear in the numerous Casualty Clearing Stations, Private Henry Wetherill,
2489, of "B" Company, 1/5th West Yorkshire's, succumbed to wounds received at Puchevillers. A resident of York
and employed at Rowntrees, his brother, John, had also been killed whilst serving with the battalion in July 1915. Private
Walter Edward Bloomfield, 6025, 1/7th West Yorkshire's, a married man of East Ardsley, was also killed on this day in
the Thiepval Sector. Prior to the war, Walter had been employed as a Locomotive Cleaner and was killed whilst performing the
duties of a Stretcher Bearer. (Leeds Mercury dated the 21st of October 1916). Aged 24 years, Walter was originally buried
in Paisley Avenue Cemetery however his body was exhumed and he now lies in Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille. Another 1/7th Battalion
man to be killed on this day was Private Richard Doyle, 6028, aged 30 years, associated at some point in either life or death
with Warmfield near Wakefield. Enlisting at Halifax, Richard initially enlisted into the ranks of the 1/4th West Riding Regiment
as did Walter Bloomfield. Transferred to the 1/7th West Yorkshire's, Richard too was originally buried in Paisley Avenue
Cemetery before being exhumed and interred in Lonsdale Cemetery.
The 24th of September also proved costly for the 1/8th West Yorkshire's, Private Harry Jeffs, 6112, a native
of Hoby, Leicestershire, dying of wounds received aged 34 years at the Number 44 Casualty Clearing Station located at Puchevillers.
The Leicestershire and Rutland, Soldiers Died 1914-1920 records, with annotations by the Author, the following:-
He was the son of William
and Esther Jeffs. Harry died the day after having his leg amputated. In a letter written to his parents, George L. Duncan
(details unknown) (Note: Possibly the Reverend George Simpson Duncan), described Harry's bravery whilst in hospital.
"Poor fellow. But he was full of British pluck, and had all the patience too, of a real Christian soldier. His thoughts
were of home when I saw him and he asked if I would write and let you know about him. It was yesterday afternoon when I saw
him. As the evening wore on, he grew weaker and toward midnight his soul had passed to be with his Maker. I can in some measure
realise what his loss will mean to you. Yet you must not think of him as lost. Quite apart from the fact that he did his duty
and died in a good cause, you should remember that the shells which kill our brave fellows' bodies are powerless to kill
1/8th Battalion man to lose his life on this day was one Private Thomas Butler, 6529, a native of Haughton, Staffordshire,
aged 36 years. Residing with his Grandmother in 1911, in the latter census his occupation was described as that of a Labourer
for a Railway Company. Enlisting at Lichfield, little is known of his initial service however his brother, William Henry Butler,
was killed on the Somme at La Boisselle in July 1916 whilst serving with the 8th North Staffordshire Regiment. Both brothers
are now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and on the War Memorial at Haughton.
Private Ben Wall, 6626, a married man of Lidget Green, Bradford, aged 22 years. A Bakers Labourer, Ben was married
in March 1916 and posted overseas a few months later. Killed in action, a baby daughter, Elsie, was born in late 1916, a child
he would never see. Ben, denied a known grave, is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
As the 25th of September dawned with a beautiful day in prospect, the duties
of the 1/5th West Yorkshire's remained the same however as a precursor to offensive operations, Company and Platoon Commanders
reconnoitered a route through the trench system to Thiepval Avenue. Due to nigh on perfect weather conditions, enemy
aircraft were active throughout the course of the day and it soon became apparent as to their intentions. With some units
of the Divisional Artillery mounting a barrage on Thiepval, for a period of about two hours Mesnil and its associated valley
were heavily shelled between the hours of 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. by what was assumed to be three German artillery batteries assisted
by aeroplane registration. Although there can be no degree of accuracy as to casualties sustained during this barrage, the
146th Infantry Brigade, it would appear, survived unscathed.
The Fall Of Thiepval: The Plan
As successful operations mounted during the course of the day by the Fourth Army had witnessed the capture of both
Lesboeufs and Morval, Haig deemed that it was now "advisable" that Thiepval should be attacked and seized.
The objective of this attack was to bring the left flank into line and then to establish it on the Thiepval ridge above the
latter village, thus, if this objective was gained, the possession of this high ground would prove to be most advantageous
as a precursor to further operations. The following is an extract of Operation Orders issued by the 146th Brigade Headquarters
dated the 25th of September 1916:-
146th BRIGADE OPERATION ORDER No. 24
1. The II Corps and the Canadians are attacking from the South.
The 18th Division are attacking THIEPVAL at zero hour tomorrow.
53rd Brigade on right, 54th Brigade on left, 55th Brigade in Reserve.
2. The attack of
the 54th Brigade on our immediate right will be carried out as follows:-
First objective -
R.25.A.9.0. to R.25.D.5.7. (main road through THIEPVAL)
Second objective -
R.25.b.2.4. to R.25.b.7.4.
Final objective - R.19.c.9.1. to R.19.d.9.3. (CRUCIFIX) with posts pushed
forward on the line R.19.c.7.4. to R.20.c.3.7.
3. Artillery programme giving length of halt on each objective will be issued later.
Dispositions and tasks of Battalions 54th Brigade will be as under :-
12th Middlesex Regiment will be the assaulting battalion.
11th. R. Fusiliers will advance on a platoon frontage along German front
line and mop up - The leading Company will carry a large red and yellow flag.
6th Northants in support to 12th Middlesex.
7th Bedfordshire Regt in reserve to 54th Brigade in PAISLEY AVENUE and N. BLUFF.
4. 146th will hold the line THIEPVAL AVENUE to R. ANCRE and will be disposed
as follows :-
W. York. R. 3 Coys between THIEPVAL AVENUE and UNION ST.
One Company in reserve at BELFAST CITY.
Battle Headquarters JOHNSTONES POST.
8th W. York. R. UNION ST. to R. ANCRE. 4 Companies in the line.
One platoon from each Company in support.
6th W. York. R. One Coy SPEYSIDE at disposal of 8th W. York. R.
One Company McMAHONS POST in immediate brigade reserve.
Headquarters and 2 Companies ENGELBELMER.
5th. W. York. R. in reserve at MARTINSART WOOD.
146th Brigade Composite Companies at Martinsart Wood.
146th Machine Gun Company and 146th Trench Mortar Battery will retain their present positions in the line.
Necessary movements will be carried out by 9.0. a.m. tomorrow morning.
Brigade Headquarters will remain
at bottom of PAISLEY AV.
the right flank of the attack, the 11th (Northern) Division as well as the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions would also assault
the enemy trench systems from Mouquet Farm to Courcelette. The 11th Division would then press on in a northerly direction
towards Zollern Redoubt whilst the Canadians would advance to the west and north-east of Courcelette towards
Regina Trench. To assist the attack of both the 53rd and the 54th Infantry Brigades, Tanks would be placed at their
disposal. With two of "C" Company allocated to the 54th Brigade, one would emerge near the south-east corner of
Thiepval Wood and proceed towards the ruins of Thiepval Chateau followed by another. Remaining in Thiepval Village to assist
the infantry in clearing the latter, the two Tanks would then advance with the infantry on to their final objective and proceed
onwards towards the Schwaben Redoubt.
As regards the bombardment to support the attack of the infantry, this would be performed by both the 25th and the
49th Divisional Artilleries. Strong Points and approaches to the objectives were to be destroyed however an emphasis was placed
on the artillery not to engage the objectives/trenches that were to be occupied by the attacking force. Initial barrages would
cover the infantry up to their first intermediate objectives, a second series of barrages being arranged for the second intermediate
objectives respectively. The artillery plan was 'flexible' dependant upon the situation on the ground. Once reports
were received from observers, the artillery barrages and their subsequent "lifts" were open to modification if requested
by the assaulting battalions via Brigade and Divisional Commanders. In addition to this programme, one artillery battery would
be placed under the orders of each Brigade Commander whilst a battery of 6 inch howitzers would be placed at the direct disposal
of the respective Divisional Commanders. (Note: These preliminary instructions also to be performed by both the 48th and 11th
Divisional Artillery, in support of the 11th (Northern) Division attack).
The plan was complex and relied on good communication and good observation
as well as excellent leadership. With "Zero" hour being set for 12.35 p.m. on the 26th of September, the night before
the attack, a Special Section of the Royal Engineers would discharge gas into Thiepval from the Hammerhead Sap, the
latter projecting from the north-eastern corner of Thiepval Wood. There was also to be a 'ruse' or 'feint'
employed to deceive the enemy as to the direction of the attack. One hour before and again 30 minutes before "Zero"
hour for a period of three minutes, the German trench system from the Ancre river to R.25.b.4.7. (Note: The site
of the Cemetery north-west of Thiepval) would be bombarded. In addition to this artillery barrage, the men of the
146th Brigade occupying the line would show their bayonets over the parapet.
It is now that we will turn our attentions to the attack specifically of
the 54th Infantry Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. The division had a growing reputation as a fighting force and as previously
recorded, the attack of the brigade would be led by the 12th Middlesex, Officer Commanding, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Francis
Aymler Maxwell, V.C., C.S.I., D.S.O.
54th Infantry Brigade
In a complex action, I shall rely at this point
on some information recorded in the War Diaries but primarily The 54th Infantry Brigade, 1914 - 1918, Some Records of
Battle and Laughter in France, Printed by GALE & POLDEN Ltd., Wellington Works, Aldershot, London and Portsmouth.
The objectives of the 54th
Brigade were the Blue Line (First Objective), the Green Line (Second Objective) and the Red Line (Final
Objective) respectively. Advancing on a frontage of about 300 yards, the task of the leading assault battalion, the 12th
Middlesex, was the capture of or what remained of the Chateau and to then press on to attack and take the village.
The battalion would advance with "B" Company on the left, and "C" Company on the right, Support would
be provided by "D" Company whilst "A" Company would comprise the Battalion Reserve. Of the 11th Royal
Fusiliers, Officer Commanding Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Cattley Carr, "D" Company were allocated the
task of protecting the left flank of the Middlesex, this company clearing dug-outs, of which there were numerous, and the
trenches that originally constituted the Old German Front Line facing westwards towards Thiepval Wood. "C" Company
of the Fusiliers would also advance with the Middlesex, their roll, to mop up dug-outs passed over by the leading wave.
As soon as "C" Company and the Middlesex rose to the advance, "B"
Company of the Fusiliers would also move forward. Advancing in two columns each comprising of two platoons, one would attack
from the Old German Front Line, the other column from Prince Street, the 'head' of each column being level
with the advance of the 4th Company of the Middlesex respectively. "A" Company, would form the battalion Reserve
and would advance along with "B" Company once the Middlesex had vacated their forming up positions.
The 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, was designated as the Support
Battalion to the Middlesex on its advance to the Second and ultimately the Final Objective. Under
the command of Lieutenant-Colonel George Eustace Ripley, both "B" and "C" Companies were placed close
in the rear of the 4th Company of the 11th Royal Fusiliers. Advancing in line of companies i.e. "B" then "C,"
in the event of the 12th Middlesex being unable to sieze the Final Objective, the Northants would, if required, be
ordered to advance to the Red Line.
addition to the carrying of normal fighting equipment, some men would be laden with tools for consolidation purposes. In respect
of both the Support Company "D" and the Reserve Company "A" of the Middlesex, this would amount to each
company carrying 75 shovels and 25 picks to be worn on the back. Supporting the attack of the brigade would also be elements
of the 54th Machine Gun Comany and Trench Mortar Battery.
the brigade would be the Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 180 of the 26 Reserve-Division. From Wurttemberg, they had occupied Thiepval
since 1914 and had stubbornly resisted all attempts to take the village. A message from the Commanding Officer to be found
in the War Diary of the 12th Middlesex clearly stated their intentions:-
"The Die Hards" are having a great chance today - viz:- to take THIEPVAL,
which has defied the efforts of all other Regiments, Brigades and Divisions for three months. We must do it 'on our heads,'
as the Enemy is demoralized. We have enormous superiority of guns, and all of us are out to kill and reach our objective.
Yesterday we had a big success all along our right, and the attack there is being pushed forward with ours today. - Tanks
are to co-operate with us today. It may be an easy job, but if it is tough we can carry it through if we keep going: don't
stop and don't retire one yard. Be out to kill, and get THIEPVAL on our colours."
The Attack Goes In
Despite some desultory shell-fire before "Zero" hour, the British
barrage opened up on time as both the Middlesex and the Fusiliers headed towards their first objectives. As both battalions
kept as close to the protective barrage as possible, about five minutes after "Zero," German artillery placed a
barrage on the assembly trenches. This barrage caught both "B" and "A" Companies of the Fusiliers, under
the commands of Captain William Hamilton Hall Johnston and Major Arthur Cyril Hudson, respectively, as they followed on behind
the Middlesex on the left flank. Ahead of these companies, "D" Company, under the command of Captain Richard Henry
Vaughan-Thompson now entered the enemy trench system on the extreme left of Brawn Trench and encountered a strong-point
at or near Point 67 (R.31.a.6.7.) With this action also holding up to a certain extent the left flank of the Middlesex
advance, Captain Vaughan-Thompson detailed a party off to engage the defenders of the position whilst the remainder of his
company proceeded to support the Middlesex in their attempts to secure Brawn Trench. Upon rushing the strong-point,
Captain Vaughan-Thompson was unfortunately killed along with Lieutenant Ralph Arnold Miall-Smith, the latter officer being
killed whilst he and the men had become embroiled in the bitter hand-to-hand that subsequently ensued. With Lieutenant George
Ernest Cornoby also wounded, the position was dealt with by bayonet, bomb and rifle butt, a good many of the enemy being killed
or made prisoner.
Company now continued their advance northwards along the trenches that constituted the Original German Front Line, the enemy
abandoned the relative safety of their dug-outs in an attempt to flee the advancing Fusiliers. Lewis guns and their teams
were now brought forward and firing along the length of the trench, they executed their tasks effectively however these teams
suffered a number of casualties including the Lewis gun Sergeant of the company, George William Casson, 8057, awarded the
Military Medal (Source: Supplement to the London Gazette dated the 11th of November 1916).
|Objectives: Source: 146th Brigade Headquarters (T.N.A. WO95/2792/4)
As the left flank of the Middlesex effectively became 'held
up' in the fight for Brawn Trench, the right flank of their attack fared better. As communication trenches leading
to the front line now came under an increasingly heavy barrage, the two support companies of the Northants, "B"
and "C" respectively, moved forward from their assembly positions. "D" Company of the Fusiliers now found
Point 72 (R.25.c.7.2.) south-west of the ruins of the Chateau strongly held. Once again, bitter fighting ensued and
with the Middlesex being subjected to heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, losses began to mount.
The situation as it stood at this point in time was that the right flank
attack of the Middlesex was progressing but their left flank had become embroiled in protracted fighting in the German trench
system in addition to coming under intense fire from the western aspect of Thiepval village and the Chateau. "D"
Company of the Fusiliers were similarly engaged whilst "C" Company under the command of Lieutenant Arthur Edward
Sulman who had been detailed to clear dug-outs were engaged with the Middlesex close to the site of the Chateau.
As the clearing of dug-outs continued, some of the enemy put up a stout resistance
with bombs and in the location of two of these in particular, there was severe fighting with the Middlesex using their bayonets.
Maxwell recorded in some notes written during the following month one instance of the fighting involving two brothers:-
"One young man (Pte. Stubbs) fighting splendidly beside his brother
(a Sergt.) had his leg shattered by a bomb, but continued fighting with a revolver he picked up. He died very soon, his brother
also being killed."
Henry Owen Stubbs who had enlisted in 1907, along with his brother, Private Thomas Blessington Stubbs who had enlisted in
August 1914, are now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial aged 26 and 22 years respectively.
The intensity of the fighting in the vicinity of the ruins of the Chateau
grew as the enemy stubbornly defended their positions. With cellars and dug-outs remaining relatively intact and their garrison
fighting on, it was now that one Tank made a timely arrival albeit late as per operation orders. Tank C5, of "C"
Company, Number 1 Section, the "Creme de Menthe" now entered the battle. Under the command of Captain Arthur
Inglis, the late arrival of this Male Tank was in part due to the start point allocated and the nature of the shell
torn terrain to be crossed. Colonel Maxwell recorded his thoughts on the advance of the machine. Arriving behind the Middlesex,
it was forced to fire over the heads of the attacking troops and when it subsequently fell into a shell-hole, the machine-guns
of this Mk. 1 Tank " were suddenly depressed, and some of our men were hit." Wounded men were
also crushed as they lay in shell-holes, invisible to the occupants of the attack but this was the unfortunate price to pay
for the attack to proceed and capture its objectives. (Authors note: The other Tank, C6 "Cordon Rouge," a
Female Tank under the command of Second-Lieutenant John Allen subsequently proceeded into action but was
ditched and abandoned).
|The Ruins Of Thiepval Chateau. By Kind Permission Of The I.W.M. (Q 1329)
Upon witnessing the Middlesex under increasing pressure, Major
Arthur Hudson of the 11th Royal Fusiliers went forward with "A" Company to provide assistance. With the extreme
right flank of the attack no doubt held up by enfilade fire and drifting to the right into the zone of attack of the 53rd
Brigade, the First Objective was reached. East of Thiepval Point South to a point just south of the Chateau,
the enemy held a section of trench in great strength. As the Middlesex were drifting to the right, Captain Johnston of "B"
Company of the Fusiliers, fearing that a large gap was about to develop, commited what remained of his company and extending
to the right he attacked northwards. Lieutenant Sulman, who had gone forward with the right of the attack, also noticed this
gap developing and attacking on his initiative, he placed two platoons between the Chateau and a central point in
the village to clear dug-outs and effectively form a defensive flank. Thus the Blue Line, the First Objective,
had been taken.
fight for the Chateau, it is impossible to state with some degree of accuracy the chronology of events but presumably
before one o'clock, the situation was a follows. "D" Company of the Fusiliers had witnessed severe fighting
along the whole length of the German Front Line and were now holding a position about level with the Chateau but
were seriously depleted in numbers. At some point in the attack, Captain Vaughan-Thompson was hit in the head and wounded
until hit yet again and unfortunately killed. Of "D" Company Platoon Commanders, Second-Lieutenant Philip Henry
Thomas Goddard had been killed, Second-Lieutenant Walker wounded and Second-Lieutenant Richard Maurice Hawkins had been 'stunned'
by the explosion of a trench mortar round but he stoically pressed forward with the remainder of the company.
The situation at the front was confused to say the least and with no definate
reports received at Battalion Headquarters located in the Leipzig Salient, Colonel Carr of the Fusiliers proceeded
forward with his Adjutant, Temporary Lieutenant Geoffrey F.J. Cumberlege. Upon conferring with Colonel Maxwell of the Middlesex,
Colonel Carr now went forward towards "D" Company but was wounded in several places, the wounds including a fractured
hand. Lieutenant Cumberlege had also received wounds as well as Major Hudson who had been shot through the shoulder as he
attempted to advance towards the second objective.
Captain Johnston now assumed command, the bitter nature of the fighting is recorded in a narrative contained in the Battalion
War Diary. The men of "D" Company? in their advance along the Original German Front Line came across a deep dug-out
garrisoned by a number of the enemy armed with two machine guns. After refusing to relinquish the position and surrender,
the latter was set on fire and it was believed that several men burnt to death in their underground tomb. Of those that attempted
to escape the inferno, eleven were killed.
Battles or engagements can be turned by fortune, and as 'luck' would have it, Lieutenant Sulman, according
to the above narrative, had received a captured German map indicating the location of the local Telephonic Headquarters half
an hour before "Zero." Detailing men to specifically find the location of this dug-out, the latter was located by
Lance-Corporal Fred Ruddy who along with four men captured the position along with 20 prisoners. Cutting the telephone wires
that eminated from this hub, contact with German artillery to the rear was now effectively cut. For his actions, Ruddy would
receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal. (Authors note: Colonel Maxwell in his narrative records that there were two large
dug-outs utilised for communications near Point 60).
As of about 3 p.m., the situation was confused due to a lack of reliable information. With most of the officers of
the Fusiliers either killed or wounded, "A" Company along with two platoons "C" Company had pressed onto
the Second Objective which was reached around Point 83. In touch with the Middlesex on their right flank
which soon became apparent to what extent the line of advance had changed direction, on the left the advance continued onto
the line of the First Objective from Point 08 extending eastwards to R.25.d.3.8. In the Second
Objective, the parties of both "A" and "C" Companies now proceeded to bomb their way along to the
left capturing two officers and 45 men who were sent to the rear. After only a short distance however, their supply of bombs
ran out so a trench block was subsequently made and the position consolidated.
With the enemy now firmly ensconced in positions to the north-west of the village, progress was now impossible due
to a shortage of ammunition and bombs. The left flank still held the sector of the trench system north of the Chateau
around Point 08 and to the east but could not gain touch with elements of "C" Company about 100 yards
to their right who were arranged diagonally on a line facing north-west . With crossfire eminating from two strong points,
one just to their north and another roughly to the north-east, a third machine-gun was also firing from a position close to
Points 33 and 43. To compound the situation yet further, a heavy trench mortar was also firing from a position
west of the Cemetery, north of the village.
|Extract Of Map, War Diary 6th Northamptons. T.N.A. WO95/2044/2.
It is now that we will turn our attentions to the 6th Northamptons
and their roll as the Support Battalion. With "B" and "C" Companies detailed to advance to the rear of
the 4th company of the Fusiliers, both companies subsequently departed for their forming up trenches. At 11.23 a.m.,
Second-Lieutenant Harold William Goddard of "B" Company reported that he was now in touch with the rear company
of the Fusiliers whilst "C" Company also took up their allocated positions ready to follow on. Although the chronology
of their advance is difficult to determine, at about 1 p.m. the Northamptonshire's left their forming up trenches in the
vicinity of the Leipzig Salient and began to move forward into battle. Alert to a large scale attack on Thiepval
and positions to the east, German artillery now placed a heavy barrage on all communication trenches in this sector of the
line. As shells began to fall, Battalion Headquarters located at Campbell Post was subjected to a barrage of high
explosive shell, one, exploding just three yards from the position, blew to pieces three men sheltering in the next dug-out.
It was at 1.23 p.m. that a message was received at Headquarters to the effect that Captain Douglas Lane Evans and Second-Lieutenant
Leslie Charles Bailey, both of "C" Company, had become casualties, of "B" Company, there was no inclination
as to their exact whereabouts until 3.30 p.m. when a message was received timed 1.40 p.m. stating that they had arrived in
trench, just south of the Chateau.
Roughly at this period in time, Colonel Ripley decided to move his Battalion Headquarters forward to that of the
location of Colonel Maxwell's Headquarters just to the north of the Leipzig Salient but unbeknown to Ripley,
the Middlesex Headquarters had in fact vacated the position. Prior to departing the position and under instructions received
from Brigade Headquarters, "A" and "D" Companies, less two platoons, were issued orders by Second-Lieutenant
Hugh Palliser Frend to move forward immediately to the road south of the Chateau to support the 12th Middlesex. Due
to the effects of the heavy enemy artillery barrage, upon moving forward, the various units such as signallers and runners
that comprised the Northampton's Headquarters became fragmented due to either being cut off by the barrage or losing direction
due to non-existent trench systems pulverised by artillery. On arrival east of Inverary Trench (Inverary Street),
a high explosive shell detonated seriously wounding Colonel Ripley in the arm and the Adjutant, Lieutenant William Henry Barkham
in the leg and arm. (Authors note: After amputation of the arm, George Eustace Ripley would unfortunately succumb to wounds
in a London Hospital in October).
As "A" and "D" Companies, less the two platoons departed the South Bluff near Authuille
at 2.30 p.m. to commence their advance towards the Chateau, Major Sydney Herbert Charrington, now assuming command,
attempted to gather together Headquarters personnel prior to moving forward. Accompanied by Second-Lieutenant Frederick Desmond
Scott Walker and just four runners, Charrington now moved forward to establish his Headquarters at R.31.c.6.6. at
Point 65 north of the Leipzig Salient. Upon their arrival at the dug-out previously vacated by the Middlesex,
they found the subterranean structure full of wounded men and although a Brigade Report Centre was established at the location,
all telephonic communication had been cut and the only means to send messages or reports was either by runner or carrier pigeon.
To bolster their numbers,
at 3.30 p.m. the Battalion Signalling Officer, Second-Lieutenant Herschel Maurice Margoliouth arrived at the dug-out accompanied
with about six signallers. At this juncture, "C" Company of the Northampton's now went into action south of
the Chateau however by this point in time they had suffered heavy casualties, Second-Lieutenant Herbert William Hayward
being the only officer left in the company. Advancing towards the fight, the young Second-Lieutenant was unfortunately killed,
command of "C" Company now devolving on Sergeant Edward Charles Pullen, 13537. Placed at the disposal of Colonel
Maxwell, the remnants of "C" Company led by Sergeant Pullen, were now sent forward to reinforce the Fusiliers in
a position north-west of the Chateau. "B" Company also moved forward to support the Middlesex in the centre
of the line close to the Second Objective but upon advancing from the vicinity of the Chateau, they were
hit by machine-gun fire and snipers secreted in shell-holes. With their left flank suffering considerable casualties from
this concentration of fire, Captain Geoffrey George Horn Batty was severely wounded and Second-Lieutenant William Henry Stone
D.C.M. subsequently killed.
was at 4 p.m., just thirty minutes after both "B" and "C" Companies had moved forward from the area of
the Chateau that "A" Company under the command of Temporary Captain Evan Fraser Stokes along with two platoons
of "D" Company made their way forward and began to advance to the support of the front line on the centre and right
of the Second Objective the Green Line. With Temporary Second-Lieutenants Laurence Aldworth Victor Nendick
and Harold William Goddard of "B" Company wounded, the latter now had no officers left in command. Acting Company
Sergeant Major John William Partridge, 13475, now assumed command of the company and "carried on with the greatest
gallantry." Captain Stokes commanding "A" Company had been wounded in the knee and buttock before arriving
at the Chateau whilst Temporary Second-Lieutenant Clement Geoffrey Keys had also been wounded by rifle fire in the
neck, face and head whilst leading the company across the open to the north of the Chateau. Temporary Second-Lieutenant
Hugh Palliser Frend had now also received wounds to the chest and the back leaving just one officer, Temporary Second-Lieutenant
Davis Ingle Gotch in command. "D" Company, less two platoons who were detailed as carrying parties, now found itself
in a similar plight with Temporary Second-Lieutenant Archibald Claude Bates the sole officer remaining unwounded.
The situation remained somewhat unclear but in the north-western corner of
Thiepval, the enemy still maintained a foothold in his Old Front Line. The Second Objective had been reached
on the right flank and in the centre but to the left of the attack, all units had become inextricably mixed and under heavy
fire. On this left flank at about 4.30 p.m., the Fusiliers, now under the command of Captain William Hamilton Hall Johnston,
had cleared up their positions to an extent with "D," "B" and a part of "A" Companies in addition
to men of the Middlesex maintaining a line from R.25.d.0.8. - R.25.d.3.8. north of the Chateau. A
'weak' and worrying gap however had developed about 100 yards in length between "C" Company's flanking
platoons that were disposed diagonally across the First Objective from R.25.d.3.9. - R.25.b.4.1. Further
to the north near a junction in the German Trench System of the trenches Hohen-Steg and Martinspafd, two
platoons of "C" Company and the remainder of "A" Company of the Fusiliers maintained a position on the
Second Objective on a the line R.25.b.6.3. - R.25.b.7.3. With the Middlesex on their right flank and with
some men intermingled in the ranks of the Fusiliers, touch had also been gained on the extreme right flank of the attack with
the 10th Essex of the 53rd Brigade who had also reached the Second Objective but were coming under fire from enemy
snipers left behind in the ruins of Thiepval.
Bombs and ammunition were by now at this juncture exhausted. The Narrative contained in the Battalion War
Diary records that one Lewis gun had in fact only 188 rounds left to fire, this equating to just 4 magazines, each containing
47 rounds of .303 ammunition. Despite the lack of ammunition, it is apparent that some supplies of bombs were sourced from
enemy dug-outs as the fight on the left flank continued. The enemy strong point established at Point 08 (R.25.d.0.8) to
the north-west of the Chateau still proved to be the key to the fighting in this area and although several attempts
were made to rush the position, the men were met by a hail of bombs and caught in a deadly crossfire from well sited machine-gun
positions. The Narrative vividly describes the use of bombs by the enemy stating "it was not unusual to
see from 12 to 20 German stick bombs in the air at the same time, and the whole area looked like a firework display owing
to the number of egg bombs the enemy showered on us." (Authors note: "Stick Bombs," the German
Stielhandgranate, "Egg Bombs," the Eierhandgranate).
|A Modern Day View Looking North Of The Southern Aspect Of The Site Of Thiepval Chateau. July 2019.
As communication with forward units remained a constant problem,
Temporary Lieutenant Bernard Ashmole, 11th Royal Fusiliers and 54th Brigade Liason Officer, arrived at Major Charrington's
Headquarters at 4.30 p.m. Charrington had received two messages from Colonel Maxwell's Headquarters, one by Carrier Pigeon,
the second by a Runner who had miraculously crossed the shell and machine-gun swept ground to deliver his message. With his
last two remaining companies having arrived at the Chateau, Major Charrington now made a decision to move his Headquarters
forward to that position and in an attempt to glean more information as to the situation on the field, Second-Lieutenant Margoliouth
and his six Signallers were left behind at the Report Centre in an attempt to gain communication. Moving forward with Second-Lieutenant
Walker and his four Runners, the Major was concious that there was a possibility of minimal space available for the accomodation
of his Headquarters Staff as well as that of the Middlesex at the Chateau which was reached at about 5.15 p.m. Briefed
by Colonel Maxwell as to the situation as far as it could be ascertained, Major Charrington was now ordered to proceed forward
to the front line positions and to take command of the latter on the right and in the centre.
At about 5.45 p.m., Captain Johnston of "B" Company, Royal Fusiliers,
arrived at Maxwell's Headquarters. Explaining the situation as regards the failure to take the enemy strong point,
he was then ordered to 'dig in' on his present line in an attempt to 'hem in' the enemy's strong points
and to connect up with men on the Second Objective. Given that all units were inextricably mixed up and short of
ammunition, Johnston collected together the survivors of the Middlesex, Fusiliers and Northants with the intention of forming
the men into a front and support line with a distance of about 30 - 50 yards between both positions. This front line would
comprise of posts containing six men, each organised as a double sentry post located at intervals of 12 - 15 yards. To further
improve the position, the men adopting this front line were ordered to dig towards each other, if possible, in an attempt
to make the line continuous in nature. The support line however had to be weakly held due to a lack of manpower and therefore
could not be established as a continuous line. To overcome this factor, men were assembled in groups, with a solitary sentry
placed over each group. To protect the Chateau position, the left flank of the support line had been drawn back somewhat
as enemy activity around Point 08 (R.25.d.0.8.) to the north-west remained a heavily contested area. To
this end, double sentry posts were placed at 15 yards distance from Point 08 to Point 86 (R.25.c.8.6.)
and beyond to the west of the Chateau. Furthermore and to bolster their defences, a strong point was established
around the stranded Tank, Creme de Menthe, at R.25.d.3.8., the three Hotchkiss Machine Guns being
removed from Tank to assist in the defence of this point, along with twenty men to garrison the position.
As machine-gun fire and sniping still continued on the left flank, Major
Charrington began to organise the positions. After gaining touch with Temporary Second-Lieutenant Lindsey Noel Blake Odgers
of the Middlesex, the latter officer received his orders and began to consolidate and organise his sector of the line on the
right flank assisted by two Subalterns. Proceeding to the centre, Charrington now conferred with Temporary Second-Lieutenants
Gotch and Bates of his own battalion before visiting and organising this sector of the line. Gotch would assume command of
the right half of the Northamptons whilst Bates assumed command of the left half of the battalion respectively. On this flank,
touch had been gained with the Fusiliers under the command of Captain Johnston and although Charrington did not proceed to
this part of the line, he knew that a Captain was present and no doubt assumed, correctly, that this sector was in capable
hands. The line established now ran from Point 08 (R.25.d.0.8.) - R.25.d.3.8.5. The line then ran
in a northerly direction for about 100 yards then diagonally towards R.25.b.6.3. and then hence along the northern
end of the village of Thiepval. Charrington had done what was required of him and with dusk approaching and the light fading,
isolated detachments, liable to be cut off, were withdrawn. Trench 'Blocks' and several 'Bombing Posts' were
constructed and manned in communication trenches leading towards enemy positions but still the latter maintained an aggressive
stance as the evening drew on.
|Extract Of Map. War Diary, 6th Northamptons. T.N.A. WO95/2044/2
At the location of Point 08, the enemy continuously showered
the line with bombs and as men became casualties, they were subsequently withdrawn and replaced. As the fight for this 'Block'
carried on unabated, 36 men were sent to the position, 28 becoming casualties. Numbered amongst the casualties was the Bombing
Sergeant, Reginald Etwell, 6381, of the 11th Royal Fusiliers. A native of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, Reginald had sustained serious
wounds to the skull and "Gunshot Wounds of the Upper Extremities". Although evacuated to the 3rd Casualty
Clearing Station located at Puchevillers, he would unfortunately succumb to his injuries on the 30th of September. (Source:
T.N.A. MH 106/325).
attacks by the enemy continued in an attempt to push in a southerly direction down through R.25.d.1.9. but upon launching
numerous assaults, all were repulsed. In effect, the line held at this point was 'open' to attacks from this direction,
with a distinct possibility that any determined force, counter-attacking, could 'work' his way behind the position.
Captain Johnston had only one option, he requested a barrage to be placed on the German front line positions in this sector
and his support positions to the north. Although chronology of the barrage is difficult to ascertain in relation to the units
holding the line, at about 6.30 p.m., 246th Brigade, R.F.A., 49th Divisional Artillery, received a request for a barrage to
be put down north of the line R.25.b.3.4. - R.25.b.6.3., positions roughly north of Thiepval village and south of
the Cemetery by howitzers. As telephonic communication to the Chateau continued to go down, at about 8.15
p.m., another request for a barrage to be put down was received from the Liason Officer, 11th Royal Fusiliers, this barrage
to be placed north of the line R.25.b.3.6. - R.25.b.4.7., roughly equating to positions west of the Cemetery,
north of the village. Further requests were made around 10 p.m., the message not being received until 11.45 p.m. that it was
"safe" to bombard a line from Point 47 (R.25.b.4.7.) to R.25.b.3.5., directly
west of the Cemetery however this message was repeated to the Corps Artillery.
It was at about 11.30 p.m. that Major Charrington was able to send Colonel
Maxwell a report of the general situation, Charrington establishing his Headquarters at R.25.b.4.2. Captain Johnston
of the Fusiliers noted that the barrage, at times, was no more than 50 to 75 yards in front of their positions at times, a
credit to the accuracy of the guns and their teams. No doubt as a consequence of this artillery fire, he also noted that at
about 11 p.m., "the enemy had had enough of it and retired from the bombing contest". Firing Very Lights
possibly a signal to evacuate, the enemy vacated the strong point located at R.25.d.0.9. although his artillery maintained
a steady bombardment on this sector of the line throughout the course of the night.
Exhausted, depleted in numbers and dangerously short of ammunition, the men
settled down as best they could and waited. Ever watchful, fresh troops were now about to be brought in to secure the north-western
corner of Thiepval village and push onwards towards the Schwaben Redoubt and the surrounding high ground. Losses
had been heavy, but it was surmised that the losses of the enemy were greater still after a tenacious but costly defence.
12th Middlesex Regiment 10 officers killed and 8 wounded. Other Ranks,
60 killed, 233 wounded and 121 missing. (Source: Battalion War Diary, T.N.A. WO95/2044/1).
6th Northamptons 4 officers killed or died of wounds (Note: Not including
Colonel Ripley who succumbed to wounds on the 16th of October 1916), 8 officers wounded. Other Ranks, 24 killed, 105 wounded,
17 missing, 5 shell shock, 3 wounded and missing, 2 missing, believed killed. (Source: Battalion War Diary, T.N.A. WO95/2044/2).
11th Royal Fusiliers
No Precise Figures Available.
casualties were heavy, the Middlesex, Fusiliers and Northamptons had gained a vital foothold that would ultimately lead to
the fall of 'Fortress' Thiepval. Their awards for gallantry in the field on this day are numerous and warrant further
research. Many of the men who gained awards for valour would unfortunately die before the end of the war but if there was
an epitaph that would ultimately commemorate their sacrifice, it would surely read "Thiepval, 1916".
The Final Advance
The 54th Infantry Brigade War Diary records in a Report On Operations
the final advance to sieze and take control of this sector.(Source:- T.N.A. WO95/2041/3).
"Orders were received from Divisional Headquarters that the attack
on the SCHWABEN Redoubt was to be continued on the afternoon on September 27th or early on the 28th.
To allow this being done arrangements were made for the relief of the
11th (S) Bn. Royal Fusiliers, 12th Middlesex Regt. and 6th Northamptonshire Regt. by 7 a.m. on September 27th by the 7th Bedfordshire
were made in the frontages and objectives of the 54th Brigade. A new dividing line was fixed between the 53rd and 54th Brigades.
This line ran through R.19.d.3.9. - 4.5. and thence to R.25.b.8.3. (all inclusive). Additional frontage as far East as R.25.b.8.3.
was allotted to the 54th Infantry Brigade."
This attack would be launched by the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, Officer Commanding, Temporary
Lieutenant-Colonel George Dominic Price, the 1/5th West Yorkshire's, Officer Commanding, Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel
Hugh Delabere Bousfield D.S.O., being in support.
the attack of the assault battalions of the 54th Brigade, the 7th Bedfords, in Reserve, took up their positions as follows:-
"A" and "B" Companies plus Headquarters at the North Bluff, Authuille, whilst "C" and
"D" Companies manned positions in Paisley Avenue in Thiepval Wood. During the course of the 26th, the West
Yorkshire's remained ready to be committed to the advance from their positions at Martinsart Wood but were not called
upon to mount any offensive operations.
As the Bedford's received orders to stand by and be placed in a state of immediate readiness, it was at about
8 p.m. on the evening of the 26th that Colonel Price made his way to Brigade Headquarters located in a dug-out at the Passerelle
de Magenta, east of Mesnil. Here, both Colonels Price and Bousfield received a briefing and preliminary orders from the
Brigade Commander, Temporary Brigadier-General Thomas Herbert Shoubridge, C.M.G., D.S.O. as to the continuation of the attack.
It was at 11 p.m. on the
26th that orders were received by the Bedford's to move forward to Thiepval and take up positions in dug-outs, the men
it was planned were to be in position at 1 a.m. I, the Author, digress slightly away from the advance of the Bedford's
to that of the frontage held by the 146th Brigade. The 1/6th West Yorkshire's had been ordered to move forward at 11.30
p.m., "A" Company to MacMahon's Post whilst "D" Company were allocated positions at Gordon
Castle. Arriving at about 1.30 a.m., "A" Company was tasked with the removal of prisoners, the role allocated
to "D" Company however is not recorded in both the Battalion or Brigade War Diaries. "A" Company were
later ordered forward to consolidate a line in Thiepval, the Brigade War Diary recording that "a company" were
sent to the Chateau to be employed in the digging of a strong point. The Battalion War Diary records that Second-Lieutenant
Stanley Tomlinson Heaton, aged 22 years, was unfortunately killed. A native of Stretford, Manchester, Stanley was commissioned
as a Second-Lieutenant (On Probation) on the 20th of July 1916 from the 29th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. Having
been posted to the West Yorkshire's only about three weeks previously, he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
One Other Rank casualty was also suffered by the battalion, Private Harry Holmes, 4226, aged 36, a married man and a native
of Bradford. Reported as killed in the casualty lists published in the Leeds Mercury in November, Harry is also commemorated
on the Thiepval Memorial.
The 146th Brigade
Diary notes that officer patrols were sent out to gather information in addition to Observation Posts being established in
the front line that observed the character and nature of the fighting throughout the course of the day.
Colonel Price departed Brigade Headquarters at about 12.30 a.m. as his battalion
made their way forward under heavy artillery fire. Suffering relatively few casualties, the Colonel accompanied by the Battalion
Adjutant, Captain John Henry Bridcutt, arrived at the Chateau at about 2 a.m. before the arrival of the
men whereupon he discussed the situation as it stood with Colonel Maxwell of the Middlesex. The plan of attack was 'fluid'
and was as a consequence adapted on Maxwell's knowledge of the terrain as all landmarks, in name only, had been obliterated
by shell fire in addition to the night itself being extremely dark. The plan was to take the Second Objective, i.e.
the untaken area, the north-western portion of Thiepval village respectively, but firstly the Bedford's would have to
relieve the three mixed battalions of the Middlesex, Fusiliers and Northampton's already holding the line and it was imperative
that this operation would have to be completed before daybreak. To guide them into position for the attack and to comform
the line, the battalion was led into its positions by the indomitable Captain Johnston and Lieutenant Sulman of the Fusiliers.
The attack would go in with
two companies, "C" and "D" respectively, under the commands of Temporary Captain Leslie Howard Keep and
Captain Thomas Reginald John Mulligan, Captain Keep being in overall control of the advance. Attacking in two waves/lines
with "D" Company on the left and "C" Company on the right respectively, both "A" and "B"
Companies would be kept close at hand if the need arose to commit them, sheltered in old German dug-outs. Assembling under
the cover of darkness, the assault companies formed up in their respective lines dividing their frontage of attack roughly
between Points 83 - 08, the time of 5.30 a.m. being designated as the "provisional Zero hour".
The attack area was designated between Points 83, 34, 08, 19, 40 and was to be "stormed with one rush and
cleared at the point of the bayonet". (Authors note:- Colonel Price records these Points in a Narrative
contained in the Battalion War Diary, T.N.A. WO95/2043/3).
|Bedfordshire Attack Schematic
|Points 83 - 34 - 08 - 19 - 40
As with most plans, the latter went awry almost from the outset
as "D" Company found great difficulty in getting into their start positions and did not advance until 6.50 a.m.
"C" Company however, with dawn beginning to break, started the attack at 5.45 a.m. but were immediately met by heavy
machine gun and rifle fire eminating from two strong points. The impetus of the attack had to be maintained at all costs despite
the Bedford's being subjected to heavy opposition. It was at this point that Second-Lieutenant Tom Adlam of "C"
Company seized the initiative due to the distinct possibility of the enemy reinforcing the line from the direction of Points
36 - 34 west of the Cemetery. Moving across the open ground that was swept with a maelstrom of machine
gun fire and with his men pinned down in shell holes, Adlam darted from these to rally his men and to organise a party to
attack Points 43 - 33 in an attempt to stop the enemy reinforcing his lines from the north. Once again, Adlam showed
great courage and utter disregard for his own safety, although in reality he was a rather modest man, and crossed the ground
to a position east of Point 43 whereupon he collected a large number of enemy hand grenades. Leading his party into
the attack, he entered a bombing duel with the enemy garrison at the strong point who retaliated with "Egg Bombs"
but Adlam, upon out throwing the enemy, forced the latter to retire and continued the attack until the position was overun
despite himself being wounded in the leg.
During the above engagement, and providing a different perspective of events that transpired, Temporary Second-Lieutenant
Albert William Brawn advanced with his platoon and made good progress until they reached a position north-west of Point
40. Here they were met by intense machine gun and rifle fire that eminated from Points 33 - 43 directly on the
line of the Second Objective. His account of the action states that on the retirement of the enemy, he then pressed
home his attack on the farthest trench at Point 13 due to the fall of the two strong points and the advance on Point
34. Effectively cutting off the enemys line of retreat, the latter now took cover in the trench running from these two
points, i.e. the Old German Front Line, and were assaulted by Brawn's platoon with a platoon of "D"
Company on their left flank and killed to a man.
the Second Objective now secured, the trench system running from Point 83 on the right flank to Point
34 on the left respectively was now occupied by "A" Company with orders to hold "at all costs in the
event of a counter attack by the enemy". This however did not materialise and as the Fusiliers, Northamptons and
Middlesex were withdrawn from the line, the Bedford's now counted the cost of the attack. Two officers had been severely
wounded, Captain Mulligan receiving wounds to the legs and subsequently evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station at
Puchevillers along with Second-Lieutenant Henry Potts. This officer would unfortunately succumb to his wounds on the 1st of
October after being evacuated to a Base Hospital at Boulogne. Aged 23 years and veteran of the Dardanelles Campaign, he had
survived the torpedoing of the H.M.T. Royal Edward and had only joined the battalion in July. (Source: The Essex
County Chronicle dated the 6th of October 1916). In men, the Bedford's had suffered 110 casualties either killed, wounded
or missing, the Germans, about 100 killed and 36 taken prisoner.
The position secured by the Bedford's was one of most vital importance. The advance was now to be continued to
the north and north-east and would, if successful, complete the capture of the Thiepval Ridge or at least gain a foothold
on this strategic high ground overlooking the valley of the Ancre river. On their right flank, the 11th (Northern) Division
were now embroiled in offensive operations to seize Stuff Redoubt and it was on this flank that impending operations
in the Thiepval sector depended on this divisions success. If there were gains on this flank, this would enable the 53rd Brigade,
18th Division, to push on their advance to the north astride the Grandcourt Road and to threaten the eastern face
of the infamous Schwaben Redoubt.
Whilst the Bedford's had been moving into position for their attack, at 2 a.m. on the morning of the 27th, the
1/5th West Yorkshire's had received orders to proceed to the trenches between the Leipzig Salient (Granatloch)
and Thiepval village. In close support to the Bedford's, the West Yorkshire's reached their allotted positions at
6 a.m. With Battalion Headquarters being established in the Leipzig Salient, one company was moved forward
to R.25.d.5.0. - 1.2. - R.25.c.8.1. - 7.2., the original 'jumping off' points of the 54th Infantry Brigade
attack performed earlier in the day.
The 27th Of September 1916:- Preparations For The Continuation Of The Advance
On The Thiepval Sector
Operation Orders were now ordered for the continuation of the attack to commence at 5 p.m. on the afternoon of the
27th. In respect of the West Yorkshire's, they were to be guided into their positions by one Captain Gerald King Meares
late of the 10th Essex, attached as an Acting Brigade-Major to the 54th Brigade. The officers proceeding into the attack with
the 1/5th West Yorkshire's were as follows:-
Colonel Bousfield D.S.O.
Captain & Adjutant Walter Hanson Freeman
Rupert Rowlance Lansdale
Lieutenant Arthur Gaunt
Temporary Lieutenant Kenneth MacKay
Second-Lieutenant Reginald Frankland White
Second-Lieutenant William Barraclough
Second-Lieutenant (On Probation) Harry Irish
Second-Lieutenant (On Probation) Terence Dermot Cole Gilsenan
Second-Lieutenant (On Probation) Walter Kenneth Whittle
Second-Lieutenant Frederick Saxby
(On Probation) Sydney Thomas Dawson
(On Probation) Gordon Albert Barnes?
Ernest William Lee
Henry Banton (Authors note: Born at Boston Spa)
William Pallister (Signalling Officer)
Officer John Pinder