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 Claud 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.
outbreak of the Great War and with many young men from Wetherby responding to their country's call, John enlisted in to
the British Army in 1915.
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,' a subscription being apparently required
to enter one's details as per 'The National Roll Of Honour.'
The aforementioned entry in 'De Ruvigny' states that John enlisted in to the
ranks of the Yorkshire Hussars at York on the 23rd September 1915 however an analysis of serial numbers issued proves his
allocation to the Hussars as inaccurate. Initially issued the number 3799, John was then re-numbered to 201568 (West Yorkshire
Regiment), the latter number indicating a re-numbering sequence to a Territorial Battalion of the Regiment. Although commonly
occuring in 1917, men issued this series of numbers also appear in the ranks of the 1/5th as early as mid 1916. The Medal
Rolls record John as formerly serving with the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment but amongst this allocation of numbers
there may be also be found a number of men whose service was conducted with the 2/5th Battalion of the Regiment. It is plausible
that initial service was conducted with the 2/5th before being posted to the 1/5th Battalion, the latter, who had been serving
on the Western Front since April 1915. In conclusion, a possible enlistment scenario utilising what by the Author is deemed
more 'plausible' information contained in the 'De Ruvigny' entry is as follows:-
Enlistment, York, circa Autumn/Winter 1915 under the auspices
of the Derby Scheme (i.e. Voluntary Enlistment).
Placed on the Army
Reserve and Mobilised in March 1916. (Authors note: It is of interest to note that the War Diary of the 2/5th West Yorkshire's
records that on the 8th March 1916, "Drafts of Derby Recruits from ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRE arrived." This
'centre' possibly refers to the Regimental Depot located at York. Source: T.N.A. WO95/3081/1).
Posted overseas to the 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, June 1916. (Authors note:
94 Other Ranks joined on the 3rd June whilst the battalion were located at Vignacourt. On the 21st, 178 Other Ranks reported
at Puchevillers, these men originating from the 1st Garrison Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. On the 24th, 34
Other Ranks arrived at Puchevillers from Le Havre and finally on the 26th, 25 Other Ranks joined, these men originating from
the 3rd Line Territorial Battalion(s)).
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 battalion, in division, were about to take their 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 being not directly involved in the attack. 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 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.
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 respectively.
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.
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 east.
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 Captain 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.
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 Tomlinson.
"C" 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.
"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. As the men followed the barrage as close as possible, the assaulting men
of "B" Company under the command of Captain Hirst lay down in No Man's Land waiting for the first 'lift'
of the barrage.