Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Private George William Dawson

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

10th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment ("Hull Commercials")
Died, 29th June, 1918, age 20

Cemetery : Nieppe-Bois (Rue-Du-Bois) British Cemetery, Vieux-Berquin, Nord, France
Grave Reference or Panel Number : D.20

Son of James William and Annie Dawson of 48, North Street, Wetherby.
George William was born at Wetherby in 1898 to parents James ("William"), a Labourer, and Annie Dawson (nee Rance). The 1901 Census records that the family were residing in premises located in Gas House Street, off the High Street, the family comprising of one daughter, Elizabeth Rance, born in 1890, and a niece, Mary, born in 1896.
The next census taken in 1911 records the family residing in premises located at Gas House Square, James' occupation now being recorded as that of a Bricklayer/Labourer and no doubt to supplement the family income, Annie had found employment as a Charwoman. The family had also been blessed by the birth of two further children, Charlotte born in 1902, and James born in 1909 respectively.
In 1914, the Dawson family moved to premises located at Number 48 North Street and it was from this address that George attested for military service in 1916.
Attestation & Enlistment
George William Dawson attested for military service at the Harrogate Recruiting Office on the 9th of August 1916. The terms of his enlistment were that of Short Service (For the Duration of the War, with the Colours and in the Army Reserve.) Describing his occupation as that of a Farmer, George was aged exactly 18 years and a preliminary medical examination described his height as 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches. Placed on the Army Reserve, he was mobilised on the 16th of February 1917 and posted to the 10th Training Reserve Battalion stationed at Rugeley, Staffordshire on the 24th of the latter month. Allocated the serial number TR/5/37714, he was then transferred by Army Authority to the 261st Infantry Battalion on the 16th of July 1917. Although in effect his basic training had been completed, further training continued until George received his orders to be drafted to France.
Active Service: Western Front
It was on the 14th/15th of August 1917 (Authors note: Dates vary in surviving service documents) that George embarked at Folkestone and then disembarked at Boulogne. Posted to the 33rd Infantry Base Depot located at Etaples, further training was continued in all aspects of warfare and drill before he was posted to the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, on the 25th of August 1917. Renumbered 29042, he was one of a number of drafts received by the battalion in August:-
26th August   32 Other Ranks
27th August   158 Other Ranks
28th August   3 Other Ranks
Having recently being relieved from the front line, on the 29th of the month the battalion were located at Simencourt south-west of Arras, a village situated just to the north of the Arras - Doullens Road. With companies reorganised to absorb the new drafts received, it is in the month of September that we will commence this commemoration after a short history of the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment.
1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
A Regular Army Battalion, the latter were originally contained within 18th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division. Landing in France in September 1914, the battalion, in division, witnessed initial fighting on the Aisne Heights before moving northwards in October to the Armentieres Sector. Mounting offensive operations during "The Battle of Armentieres," towards the end of May 1915, the division proceeded to march northwards towards the Ypres Salient. Assisting in offensive operations to the east of Ypres in June and near Hooge in August, the remainder of the year was spent in various sectors of the Salient until in November 1915, the 1st Battalion were transferred to the 64th Infantry Brigade of the 21st Division.
Moving southwards, in division, to the Somme region in late March 1916, the battalion rotated in and out of the line until they assembled for the opening day of the Somme Offensive in trenches between Fricourt and La Boisselle. Between the 1st - 4th of July, the battalion suffered 7 officers killed, Lieutenant-Colonel Montague Bruce Stow succumbing to wounds during the course of the following day, with one missing and 11 wounded whilst 3 were slightly wounded but returned to duty. In Other Ranks, 35 were recorded as killed, 239 wounded, 9 wounded and missing and 158 missing. (Source: T.N.A. WO95/2161/2).
Withdrawn from the offensive and proceeding north to the Arras Sector, in September, the battalion, in division, returned to the Somme. Mounting offensive operations near Guedecourt, once again the battalion suffered considerable casualties and in the following month, the battalion journeyed northwards to the Bethune Sector where Christmas of 1916 was spent in the infamous Hohenzollern Sector.
After being withdrawn for rest and reorganisation, upon the retirement of the enemy to the Hindenburg Line (Siegfriedstellung), spring was spent in the line south of Arras. Conducting offensive operations durring the course of the Battle of Arras, heavy casualties were once again sustained, particularly in officers whereupon the battalion took its turn at rest and manning the front line. As George was about to join the 1st East Yorkshire's at Simencourt, the Battalion Commanding Officer at this juncture was one Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Roland Henry Waithman. An experienced officer formerly of the Royal Sussex Regiment, he had been originally commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the Sussex in 1897 and had risen to the rank of Captain by 1905. Promoted to the rank of Major in September 1915, Waithman assumed command of the battalion on the 8th of November 1916. 

Simencourt Village, 1909. Courtesy Of The Geneanet Community

As the battalion commenced a programme of training, on the afternoon of the 8th of September, George and the men of the East Yorkshire's were entertained by a Brigade Sports Day, the 'Marathon' being won by the battalion in a convincing style. With an inter-unit football game played on the following day, the battalion beat the 9th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry by two goals to nil however on the 10th, the K.O.Y.L.I.'s had their revenge when the 10th Battalion won the game in the semi-final by three goals to nil.
Two simulated attacks were performed by the brigade at Wailly on the 13th, the enemy being 'represented' by the 10th K.O.Y.L.I.'s no doubt to the East Yorkshire's 'satisfaction.' It was on the 15th of September that the 21st Division now transferred from the Seventeenth Corps to the Tenth Corps of the Second Army, the latter under the command of General Sir Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.C.B.
Movement To The Salient: Third Ypres
With the Second Army heavily engaged in the Ypres Sector, the battalion, in division, received orders to entrain at Aubigny-en-Artois and after departing Simencourt at 10.15 p.m. on the evening of the 15th, the battalion duly entrained. Arriving at Cassel at 8 a.m. on the following morning, the battalion proceeded by route of march to scattered billets, north of Hazebrouck, Battalion Headquarters being established at La Breardre. Battalion Headquarters relocated to the northern outskirts of Hazebrouck on the 17th exchanging billets with "A" Company and at this juncture orders were issued for Company Commanders to reorganise their respective platoons into 1 Lewis gun Section and 3 Rifle Sections, the latter sections each with 2 Rifle Grenadiers. As tactical exercises and route marches were conducted, exercises in the attack on a brigade level were also performed in addition to practice with contact aircraft.
On the 23rd, the brigade proceeded by march to Le Thieushouck, south of the Mont-des-Cats, where scattered billets in farms were occupied. In the days following this movement, further practice attacks and route marches were conducted before the brigade moved to La Clytte, the battalion now taking up billets along with the 15th (Service) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry also of the 64th Brigade at Murrumbidgee Camp located to the west of the village.
Battalion Commanding Officers attended a Brigade Conference on the 29th whilst the men practised forming up for an attack at 9.30 p.m. under bright moonlight. Both the enemy and the Allies were however alert to the threat from the air and assisted by the moon, aerial activity was considerable, a number of bombs being dropped in the area by hostile aircraft.
The Battle Of Broodseinde
As final preparations were made for offensive operations, all the officers of the battalion were shown a "picture ground" on the 1st of October of the Brigade Sector that was to be attacked. Consequently, all Company Commanders then briefed their men as to their roll in the attack and their objectives. On the following day at 4 p.m., the East Yorkshire's marched to a camp located to the east of Dickebusch Lake. A "nucleus," i.e. a cardre of both officers and men should the battalion suffer heavy casualties, proceeded to Chippewa Camp near Reninghelst under the command of Acting Major James Hugh Coles.
The Third Battle of Ypres had commenced in June 1917 with the capture of Messines Ridge, south of Ypres. This dominant elevation in the landscape upon being wrested from the control of the enemy, subsequently eliminated their advantage of excellent observation over the southern sector of the Ypres Salient. In July, offensive operations were mounted to the north at Pilckem Ridge but in August, rain had proved to be a major factor in limiting advances across the Gheluvelt Plateau that would, if successful, enable the Allies to breakout in an easterly direction from the southern sector of the Salient. As further phases of the battle were launched in September that gained some ground, it was in early October that the complete capture of the Plateau was envisaged. It is at this point in the commemoration that we will now explore the attack of the 64th Infantry Brigade, 21st Division. For George, one can only imagine his state of mind in his first battle against an enemy determined to hold their positions at all costs.
The Plan Of Attack
A summary of the plan is as follows in an abridged format:-
64th Infantry Brigade Operation Order No. 143 dated Oct. 1st 1917.
1. (a) The Second Army will attack on a day to be notified later against the high ground REUTEL - NOORDEMDHOEK - MOLENAARELSTHOEK - NIEUWEMOLE.
(b) The 5th Division will attack on the right of the 21st Division - objective the line J.21.d.65.95. - J.16.d.8.6. - J.17.a.2.2. - J.11.c.55.05.
(Authors note: This roughly equates from south to north a line north of Gheluvelt Wood, south-west of Juniper Wood and to the north of the latter south-west of Reutel).
(c) The 7th Division will attack on the left of the 21st Division - objective, the line J.12.a.1.5. - J.6.c.35.20. - J.5.b.7.0. - J.5.b.30.15.
(Line equates to Noordemdhoek and the west of Joiners Wood and to the west of Judge Cross Roads).
2. The objective of the 21st Division is the line J.11.c.55.05. - J.11.d.2.3. - J.11.d.65.75. - J.11.b.95.15. - J.12.a.1.5.
(Line equates to Reutel to a position north of Judge Cottage and west of Judge Cross Roads).
The duty of the 21st Division is to form a defensive flank facing South, South-East and East with a view to protecting the Southern flank of the attacking troops on the North, and obtaining observations of the REUTELBEEK Valley and the spur running S.E. to BECELAERE.
3. The 64th Inf. Bde. on the right and the 62nd Inf. Bde. on the left will carry out the attack. The 110th Inf. Bde. will be in Divisional Reserve.
4. Brigade boundaries will be as follows:-
Southern.  J.16.b.1.9. (approx) - J.11.c.55.05.
Northern.  J.10.d.2.5. - J.11.c.40.55. - J.11.d.2.7. - J.11.d.65.75.
5. As soon as the final objective has been reached:-
(a) Posts will be pushed out to obtain the necessary observations.
(b) The final objective will be consolidated as a front line.
(c) REUTEL Village, the block-houses on the line J.11.d.1.3. to J.11.d.20.68. and thence N.E.E. to about J.11.b.5.4. will be consolidated as a support line.
(d) In the event of the attack on the second objective being successful, the S.P. at J.11.c.6.3. - J.11.c.6.7. - JUDGE Trench to J.11.a.85.10 and thence due North to boundary will be consolidated as a reserve line.
  Should our attack on the Second Objective or the attack of the 5th Division on our right be unsuccessful, the line J.11.c.2.5. - JUDGE Trench and thence as above will be consolidated.
6. The objectives for the Brigade are as follows:-
1st Objective. - The line of the road J.11.c.55.05. to J.11.c.63.57.
2nd Objective. - The line J.11.c.55.05. - J.11.d.2.3. - J.11.d.65.75.
7. The Brigade will attack as follows:-
(a) The 9th K.O.Y.L.I. will attack and capture the first objective.
(b) The 15th Durh. L.I. will go through the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. and attack and capture the second objective.
(c) The 10th K.O.Y.L.I. less 1 company will be in support. One company will be attached to 15th Durh. L.I. and move under orders from O.C. 15th Durh. L.I.
(d) The 1st E.York.R. will be in reserve.        

Extract Of Trench Map. Belgium, Edition 8 A, Sheet 28 N.E. Trenches Corrected To 1st October 1917.

Operation Orders extend in fuller detail as regards the roles of the 64th Machine Gun Company and that of the 64th Trench Mortar Battery. The Brigade M.G.C. would detail four guns for the attack whilst the Trench Mortar Batteries would detail four mortars to be attached to the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. but would not move forward until the first objective had been taken. It is of interest to note that the latter carried a percentage of Varley Bombs, an improverised smoke round fired from a 3 inch Stokes mortar and rounds in general were to be conserved and not fired until targets that were holding up the advance were identified and located. Strong points at the west environs of Reutel were not to be engaged by artillery once the first objective had been gained so as not to impede the advance of the 15th Durham's. One would surmise therefore that these points in the enemy line would be engaged by trench mortar, firing the Varley Bomb, until they could be then neutralised by either rifle grenade or bomb, by 'specialist' detachments of the battalions engaged.
8. Units will move as follows at Zero :-
(a) 9th K.O.Y.L.I. will advance to first objective.
(b) The 15th Durh. L.I. will follow close behind the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. and form up East of POLYGONEBEEK and as close as possible to line of first objective, ready to advance to the assault of the second objective.
(c) 10th K.O.Y.L.I. less 1 Coy. will remain in assembly position until it is ascertained that first objective is captured. As soon is this is known, two companies will go forward, cross the POLYGONEBEEK, and dig in facing S.E. along line of road J.10.d. 9.4. and J.11.c.3.5. An officer with two orderlies from each of these two companies will proceed to advanced H.Q. of 9th K.O.Y.L.I. and 15th Durh. L.I. respectively. The above is not to prevent O.C. 10th K.O.Y.L.I. moving his battalion to a safer position forward if it is found that hostile barrage comes down on his assembly position. These two companies will be available either separately or together if neccessary, to support either of above battalions. The above orders are in no way to check the O.C. these two companies immediately moving forward on his own initiative to support the front line if it is counter-attacked. If the two companies, (or one of them) move forward, O.C. 10th K.O.Y.L.I. will immediately go forward with his reserve company and occupy the position on East of the POLYGONEBEEK vacated by these two companies. If he does this, Bde. H.Q. and O.C. 1st E. York. R. will be immediately informed, and O.C. 1st E. York. R. will send a company to occupy our original front line.
(d) 1st E. York. R. will remain in its assembly position. An officer with orderlies is to be at H.Q. 10th K.O.Y.L.I. to keep in touch with the situation.
9. Each assaulting battalion will be responsible for guarding its own flanks.
10. All ranks must be thoroughly impressed with the importance of assisting any unit held up in the advance.
11. Each battalion will detail two men to search dug-outs in the captured territory. These men will wear "INTELLIGENCE" brassards. Orders re sending back documents have already been issued.
12. Bayonets are to be fixed a few minutes before Zero. Care is to be taken that they are fixed quietly and do not glitter in the moonlight.
To support the attack of the infantry, artillery would commence their barrage at "Zero" hour. Having no respite from offensive operations, guns and their crews were literally 'worn out.' Despite losses after protracted engagements during Third Ypres, Second Army had at their disposal nearly 2,500 artillery pieces of all calibres. Once again, the artillery would, if the plan was successful, pave the way for the infantry to the capture of their objectives.
21st Division Operation Order 132. ARTILLERY ARRANGEMENTS :-
1. The Artillery Barrage, in depth about 1000 yards, will come down at Zero on a line 150 yards from our present front.
2. At Zero + 3 mins. the Artillery Barrage will move forward:
(a) On the right/front at the rate of 100 yards in 4 mins. for a distance of 200 yards. The barrage will then move forward to its protective line 200 yards East of first objective at the rate of 100 yards in 6 mins.
(b) On the left Bde. front at the rate of 100 yards in 4 mins. for a distance of 200 yards. The barrage will then move forward to its protective barrage line 200 yards East od first objective at the rate of 100 yards in 6 mins.
3. In order to ensure that the barrage covering the advance of the 64th Inf. Bde. (who will be advancing from a line in rear of the right flank of the 62nd Inf. Bde.) does not interfere with the advance of the 62nd Inf. Bde, the Northern boundary of the 64th Inf. Bde. barrage will keep 100 yards South of the Brigade boundary until the RED Line protective barrage is reached; here the two Brigade will join on the boundary.
The Attack
It was at 11 p.m. on the 3rd of October that the 1st East Yorkshire's, O.C. Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Roland Henry Waithman, departed Scottish Wood Camp located to the west of Voormezeele. Marching via the 21st Divisional Track, the battalion had received orders to form up to the west of Glencorse Wood, the battalion Lewis guns being sent by road to Clapham Junction located to the east of Hooge on the Menin Road. Upon reaching 64th Brigade Headquarters that were established at Stirling Castle to the east of Sanctuary Wood, Colonel Waithman received orders to the effect that instead of the battalion being placed in Brigade Reserve, they were in fact to establish a position 800 yards further west and attach one company of the battalion to the 10th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. This change in operation orders was due to the number of casualties sustained during the course of the day by the 15th Durham Light Infantry. Unabled as planned to take the Second Objective, this would now be allotted to the 10th K.O.Y.L.I. with the East Yorkshire's in support, the 15th D.L.I. being placed in Brigade Reserve respectively.
With the Lewis guns being delayed at Clapham Junction due to enemy artillery, the battalion itself was spread out but halting close to the position, all ranks remaind steadfast enabling the Colonel to locate all his companies so informing his Company Commanders personally of the change to the advance. Moving forward with the Battalion Adjutant, Acting Captain Arthur Harold Ewing and a Runner, Waithman were then able to reconnoitre the battalion forming up positions and make contact with the O.C. 10th K.O.Y.L.I., Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Hubert Wogan Festing, who had established his Headquarters at Jerk Farm/House, located to the east of Black Watch Corner. (Authors note:- The position comprised of a number of pill-boxes or MEBUS ("Mannschafts-Eisen-Beton-Untetstands"), bunkers constructed of both iron and concrete. The dimensions of that occupied by Battalion Headquarters are described in the 10th K.O.Y.L.I. War Diary as "about 14 feet long 8 feet broad and 5 feet high").
Colonel Waithman now endeavoured to make sure that his companies formed up in the correct locations. Losing his way, it was fortunate that he located a party of Brigade Signallers in time to make sure that the leading company found their allocated position. (Authors note:- It is difficult to define who this 'Leading Company' were with some degree of accuracy. I can only surmise that this was "B" Company, under the command of Second-Lieutenant John Alwyn Oughtred. Forming up proved to be problematic due to an enemy artillery barrage but both "A" and "C" Companies under the commands of Acting Captain Albert Robert Case and Second-Lieutenant Cyril Cameron Rice were in their positions just after 5 a.m. The Reserve Company, "D" Company under the command of Acting Captain William Charles Green however lost direction. Adopting a 'snake' formation as they moved forward through the barrage, the two platoons on their right lost direction to their right and ended up bogged down in the Polygonebeck with the result that they would eventually advance with units of the 95th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division. Captain Green, despite the delay and along with about a dozen men, finally joined the battalion just before "Zero" hour, however the company had suffered numerous casualties on the way up due to shell fire.
At 6 a.m. on the morning of the 4th of October, the artillery of Second Army and the A.N.Z.A.C. Corps operating further to the north commenced their barrage employing over 2,300 artillery pieces of various calibres. For the men of the 9th K.O.Y.L.I., just prior to "Zero," they had been lucky enough to receive their rations and their rum due to the determination of the officer and the men of the carrying party who had courageously made their way through the barrage. Under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Neville Reay Daniell, Battalion Headquarters had been established in a MEBUS located to the north-west of Jerk Farm, the battalions objective being the road junction immediately to the west of the village of Reutel (Map Reference J.11.c.51.20. - J.11.55.50.). Advancing on their right flank were the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 95th Brigade, 5th Division, and on their left, the 3/4th Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) of the 62nd Brigade, 21st Division respectively. Behind the 9th were then the 10th K.O.Y.L.I. with the East Yorkshire's who were to press on to the Second Objective capturing the village of Reutel, whilst the 15th D.L.I., despite their losses, fromed the Brigade Reserve.                  

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