Son of the late George and Mary Binge of Number 8, Horsefair, Wetherby; brother of Mrs. Boakes of 8, Rushworth Street,
Newtown, Pudsey, Leeds.
The Early Years
Thomas was born at Pocklington near York in 1881 to parents George, an Agricultural
Labourer, and Sarah Binge. By the year of 1891, the Census of that year records that the family were residing in premises
located in Stathers Yard, the family comprising of Thomas and two siblings, Elizabeth ("Lizzie") born in 1884 and
Hannah, born in 1890 respectively. In 1892, a further daughter would bless their marriage, Sarah Jane, however at some point
between this year and that of 1901, the family relocated to the Bickerton area residing in premises at Mossey Carr Cottage,
off York Road. (Authors note:- The modern day location of Moss Carr Farm). Residing in an adjacent cottage was Tom's sister,
Elizabeth, who had married one William Drury at Knaresborough in 1901, also employed as an Agricultural Labourer.
Life on agricultural
wages was a tough prospect for those who worked the land and as well as the inherent dangers of using machinery, disease was
most prevalent leading to an early death. At some point between 1901 - 1911, the family relocated to Wetherby taking up residence
in Angel Court, an area now occupied as of 2022 by the Marks and Spencer store. According to Clays History of Wetherby,
the Court was reached via a passageway between a long since demolished row of houses. The Court itself formed three sides
of a square with one property located on a passageway, the area in total encompassing six properties. The Binge household
comprised of just three rooms and conditions were no doubt primitive but Wetherby at this juncture was a town of prospects,
even for those whose life had taken a turn for the worse either through financial or employment difficulties. In 1902, a further
child was born to the Binge family, Gladys, followed in 1903 by the birth of another son, Charles Henry, but unfortunately
he would die of causes unknown just one year later. Further tragedy would befall the Binge family yet again in the year of
1905 when the husband of Elizabeth, William Drury, would die at the untimely age of just 32 years, Hannah Mary also dying
the following year aged 16 years.
By the year of 1911, both Tom and his father stated their occupations in the census of that year as Farm Labourers,
Mary also finding employment to supplement their income as a Charwoman as well as the family taking in a Boarder. The widowed
Elizabeth along with her four children were also residing in Angel Court, "Lizzie" taking up employment also as
a Charwoman at a Hotel, one would surmise due to the close proximity of their property, this being the Angel Hotel. In 1914,
George Binge would die at Wetherby aged 52 years, just before he would witness the marriage of his daughter Sarah Jane to
one John Edward Wentworth at Wetherby Parish Church in February. (Authors note:- James Wentworth, a native of Clifford). Tom
would witness the marriage of his sister along with Jane Wardle, a married woman of Victoria Street, however Tom was unable
to sign his signature on the marriage certificate and just placed his mark on the document.
As the year of 1914 progressed, the storm clouds of
war broke free in July. James Wentworth, a Reservist who had previously served with the 1st West Yorkshire's, was now
recalled to the Colours and his 'old' battalion leaving a pregnant wife at home. Tom now felt it his duty to also
enlist and with Wetherby swept with patriotic fervour, his time came in August 1914.
Recruitment had proved
to be very brisk in the Wetherby District, principally due to the efforts of a number of individuals, but it was Mr. Rowland
Meyrick of Hall Orchards, a Land Agent for the Montague estates, that was the major protagonist encouraging many a Wetherby
man to "take the King's shilling". A newspaper article dated September 1914 provides an insight as
to his activities as an unpaid Recruitment Officer:-
"Day and night he worked with the greatest enthusiasm and
wherever young men were, in the cottage, in the harvest field and street, there he was to be found, exercising his persuasive
powers and the young men answered nobly to his call.
Some men at first however, had their reservations on joining the Colours;
One young fellow, anxious to enlist, was troubled about throwing up his
work and he went to Mr. Meyrick. Would he guarantee him work when he returned home? The answer was thoroughly satisfactory,
and the young fellow is probably now clad in Khaki. That is the way to get recruits".
Amongst the men flocking to Wetherby Town Hall on the
31st of August was Tom Binge. Describing his trade as that of a Farm Labourer, Tom was in fact no stranger to a military life
as he declared on Army Form B. 2065 that he had previously served with the 1st Volunteer Battalion, West Yorkshire
Regiment, and had completed his service obligation (time expired). The terms of his Attestation were that of Short Service
(Three years with the Colours), this document being witnessed and signed by former Colour Sergeant, John McEvitt, who
had served with the Connaught Rangers and was a Boer War veteran. Tom now placed his mark on the form and this was duly signed
by the Approving Officer, 14th Recruiting Area, Colonel Harold P. Ditmus, late Durham Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia).
Described as being 5 feet
and 7 inches in height, his complexion was noted as "fresh" his eyes blue, and his hair brown. A preliminary
medical examination was now conducted by Lieutenant Harry Winstanley Shadwell of the Royal Army Medical Corps that deemed
that Tom was 'fit' for military service as were over 45 recruits from the Wetherby area. The men were to be enlisted
into the ranks of the West Yorkshire Regiment but prior to their departure to the Regimental Depot located at York, the recruits
were entertained by the townsfolk of Wetherby to a dinner. Bidding their farewells, the men departed the town in a dozen chartered
motor cars under the command of Colonel Ditmus, each car being headed by the Union Jack. Cheered along their route, upon arrival
at York they paraded for a short time in the street before being ushered away to make men into soldiers. Amongst the recruits
were a group who had travelled from as far away as Nottingham but for the men of Wetherby, they were granted the greatest
reception. For many, they would never return.
9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment
9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, was formed at York on the 25th of August 1914 and designated a K1 Battalion
as formed under Lord Kitchener's first Call to Arms, an appeal for 100,000 men between the ages of 19 and 30
years to join the Army for three years or for the duration of the war. The battalion was contained in the 11th (Northern)
Division, a New Army Division which was formed under Army Order No. 324, published on the 21st of August 1914. This order
approved of the addition to the Army of six divisions, the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th respectively. The 9th (Service)
Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Officer Commanding Lieutenant-Colonel George Frend (attached from the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment), were contained in the 32nd Infantry Brigade that also comprised of the following units:-
6th (Service) Battalion,
Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howard's)
6th (Service) Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment
8th (Service) Battalion, West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellington's)
Brigade Commander Temporary Brigadier-General
Major-General Frederick Hammersley C.B.
Training:- Belton Park
Basic training for
Tom and the new recruits from Wetherby ensued at the Regimental Depot at York where they became accustomed to the vagaries
of life in the British Army. Possibly the first blow to patriotic 'fervour' was the issuing of a Serial Number to
each man, an individual in civilian life but now a number throughout his service in the Army. It is of interest to note that
the numbers issued to the recruits from Wetherby follow no alphabetical sequence as is sometimes the case. An analysis therefore
conducted of this batch of serial numbers, Tom being issued the number 11887, reveals that proceeding him, the number 11886
was issued to George Irish, a resident of St. James Street, Wetherby.
The Regimental Depot at York at this juncture was now
processing a large number of men who had answered the Call to Arms and was fit to bursting point. Therefore, a move
to larger training facilities was initiated in early September whereupon the 9th West Yorkshire's, in brigade and division,
moved to Belton Park near Grantham. The Park had been placed at the disposal of the War Office by Earl Brownlow for the duration
of the war as a training facility, large numbers of civilan workers both skilled and unskilled being drafted in to erect accommodation
and other facilities. Initially housed in tents as the barrack rooms were speedily built, the financial benefit to the local
economy also became apparent, a large number of women for example finding employment washing the clothes of the men that provided
a hefty financial reward of close to £250 per week.
The early days of the month of September witnessed almost tropical weather
as the men, despite on the whole receiving no uniforms and equipment, were immediately engaged on early morning preliminary
drills. During these abnormal weather conditions however, some men began to suffer various conditions, those of a more serious
nature being taken by motor ambulance to the Great Northern Station whereupon they would then be transferred to the Lincoln
Military Hospital. Private Robert Ker, 4089, of the 8th (Service) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, 34th Infantry Brigade,
unfortunately contracted a cold which developed into pneumonia whilst engaged in tent pitching. Aged 37 years and a native
of Wallsend, he would die on the 4th of September leaving a widow and three children.
In order to maintain discipline, meetings were held
with the Grantham Borough Magistrates and an application made to the Home Office to close all Public Houses before 7 o'clock
in the evening. Regarding discipline, drunkenness although manifesting itself on occasions proved not too serious a problem,
Publicans permitting this on their premises or opening after hours being fined with costs imposed by the Local Magistrates.
"Tommy Atkins" though had different ideas on how to precure a drink, many visiting the Sleaford Division where it
was reported they caused "considerable trouble". To curtail their 'activities,' an application
was made to close the Public Houses at Wilsford, Ancaster, Sudbrook and Heydon each evening at 8 o'clock. Theft however,
both from private and government sources, was quite prevalent, four cooks of the Border Regiment along with a local Butcher
being brought before the Magistrates at Grantham charged with stealing both beef and bacon. Thefts by civilian contractors
working in the Camp also occured, one labourer stealing a bicycle from a bike hiring establishment in Grantham but it was
Private George Linfoot, 8459, of the 9th West Yorkshire's that took the 'art' of theft to a whole new level. A
married man of Leeman Road, York, George as they say, had 'previous,' convicted in 1901 of stealing a number of pieces
of agricultural equipment and convicted to three months to be served at H.M.P. Wakefield. An officers servant, 'Moriarty'
had stolen a bicycle, the property of Major Albert Julian Pell, a Staff Officer at Belton Park. Selling it for the sum of
thirty shillings to one Mrs. Hawbrook, the wife of a Grantham Cycle Dealer, Linfoot told the woman that he would not part
with it if it were not for the fact that he was going to be posted to the front the very next day. Pleading guilty, Linfoot
told the court that he had troubles at home having lost his mother and that his wife and child back at York were both ill
turning him to the evils of drink. Despite these mitigating circumstances, he was sent to prison for 21 days with hard labour.
It was on the morning
of the 18th of October that the 11th (Northern) Division received a most distinguished visitor, Lord Kitchener, Secretary
of State for War. Kitchener was received at the Station by Earl Brownlow and Major-General Hammersley who was also accompanied
by Temporary Brigadier-Generals Claud Lambton D.S.O., G.O.C. 34th Infantry Brigade, and Russell Dunmore Gubbins, C.R.A., in
addition to Divisional Staff Officers. Greeted enthusiastically by a large crowd who lined the precincts of the station and
the streets, Kitchener then travelled by motor car to Belton Park where upon arrival, he mounted a horse which had been reserved
for him and proceeded to inspect the brigades assembled in their respective drill areas. Viewing the rifle ranges, tents and
permanent accommodation being built for the men, he then watched the troops at drill before he lunched at Belton House with
the Earl and Countess Brownlow and the Divisional Staff. Resuming his journey in the afternoon, Kitchener, accompanied by
Major-General Hammersley, then visited the Church of England Soldiers' Homes in Chapel Street, Grantham, before journeying
back to London.
Discharged:- "Not Likely To Become An Efficient Soldier"
Returning to their
daily routine, during the month of October there had been conducted both a series of medical and character examinations to
determine if the men were indeed fit for military service. In the case of Tom, surviving discharge documents record no physical
reasons for his discharge so one may surmise that he simply could not achieve the standards set to become an efficient soldier
under the King's Regulations Paragraph 392 (iii) (c), i.e. having served 53 days. Discharged on the 22nd of October 1914
and deemed "Not Likely To Become An Efficient Soldier," his discharge was subsequently confirmed and signed
by Colonel Frend and the Battalion Adjutant, Captain Alexander Geary-Smith. With his character being described upon his discharge
as "good," Tom was not alone in being discharged from the service, George Irish also suffering the same
fate as Tom along with Joseph Flynn of Victoria Street, Charles Maskill of St. James Street, David Utley of Grafton Square
and Charles Edward Walker of Grafton Square. Returning to Wetherby and their civilian employment, Tom was however not going
to give up and was determined to "do his bit" and in January 1916, his efforts would come to fruition.
Corps:- "X" Company, Forage Department
Now residing in premises located in Horsefair with his mother, it was on
the 27th of January 1916 that Tom attested for service with the Forage Department, Army Service Corps, at Walton near Wetherby.
The terms of his Attestation were that of Short Service, Forage Department, Army Service Corps, For the Duration of the
War. Stating his previous military service, the witness to him signing Army Form B 2511 was one Sampson Wood,
a Dealer of Horses and a resident of York Place, Wetherby. Wood himself was a veteran of the Boer War having served with Imperial
Yeomanry. Finally, his enlistment was confirmed by the Attesting and Approving Officer, Captain Frederick Ernest Jollye.
The Recruitment Office of the Military Forage Department,
according to the Yorkshire Evening Post dated the 21st of March 1916, was established at Blenheim Terrace, Woodhouse
Lane, Leeds. Posted to "X" Company of the Forage Department, Royal Army Service Corps, the Companies of the Department
had been formed in November of 1915 and comprised of a number of men who had been certified as "physically unfit
for a Combatant Branch by a Military Medical Officer". Numbered F/24470, the duties of Tom and the men of the Department
varied but their primary role was to acquire both hay and straw for the Army, the men being paid at civilian rates. Under
the command of Acting Captain James Perry Wright, formerly of the West Lancashire Divisional Train based at Southport, the
exact area in which "X" Company carried out their duties is unknown but as there were no Lodging Allowances paid,
I can only surmise that the Company remained in the locality. The Company had also recruited men from other areas of the District,
both Thomas Messenger, a Farm Labourer from East Rigton, and William Utley, a resident of the Duke of Wellington Public House,
East Keswick, being recruited at Wike.
The work, although performed in the field, did have inherent dangers not just confined to the use of agricultural
machinery. Private Henry James Sweetman of "Z" Company and aged 17 years was unfortunately crushed by a cart near
Middle Barton, Oxfordshire, whilst transporting hay. Receiving severe internal injuries, Henry, a native of Stratford, London,
succumbed to his injuries at the 3rd Southern General Hospital, Oxford, on the 12th of April 1916. Private Charles Maynard
aged 44 years and serving with "Z" Company, was crushed to death on the 8th of May 1916 whilst coupling a Hay Presser
to a Traction Engine at Meopham, Kent. Maynard, a native of Reading, had only joined the Corps in January. One young man aged
just 17 years was Private Walter Charles Loach a resident of Winson Green, Birmingham. Serving with "Y" Company,
his death took place at Dudley Road Hospital on the 16th of March 1916 of "Spotted Fever," caused by bacteria of
the genus Rickettsia. Accorded a Military Funeral, Walter was laid to rest at Lodge Hill Cemetery on the 21st of March.
Any death is tragic
but the benefits to their dependents, if death occured in service, was minimal. Under the terms of their enlistment, the men
were denied separation and dependents allowances, or, to a gratuity on enlistment or discharge. Insured as civilians under
the National Insurance Act and contributing four pence per week, in the event of injury they would be dealt with in accordance
with the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1906. The amount of compensation was dependent on earnings during
three years preceeding the injury or to £150, whichever be the larger, but the figure of compensation was never to exceed
the sum of £300. Were the man to leave persons partially dependent on his earnings, they were to receive a sum not exceeding
the amounts above that would reflect a reasonable and proportionate amount to the injury sustained by the man. The Act, as
applicable to those who left no dependents, appears even more stark as regards medical and funeral arrangements stating that
"the employer need only pay the reasonable expenses of his medical attendance and burial not exceeding £10".
The Act continues at length but in reality for those who were killed or maimed, themselves or their families faced no doubt
an uncertain financial future.
It was on the 18th of November 1916 that Tom was discharged in consequence
of "his services being no longer required" under Kings Regulations Paragraph 392 (XXV) at Leeds.
His military character was described as "good" and in accordance with King's Regulations Tom was
recorded as a "capable worker and willing worker". The Witness to his discharge was Acting Company Quartermaster
Sergeant Ernest Arthur Robinson, this being confirmed by the Officer Commanding Captain Wright. Signing that he had no allowances
or pay due to him, Tom was now, once again, a civilian. Tom however was persistent and determined to continue his service
in the military. Prior to service with the Army Service Corps, Tom had attested once again for military service at Wetherby
on the 4th of December 1915. After undergoing a medical conducted by Dr. James Hargreaves, M.B., C.M., he was then placed
on the Army Reserve until he was mobilised on the 19th of December 1916. Subsequently posted to the Training Reserve, it is
at this juncture that we will follow his progression through this organisation.
8th Battalion, Training Reserve
The terms of his attestation
in December 1915 were that of Short Service (For the Duration of the War, with the Colours and in the Army Reserve). Notice
was issued by Gunner Cecil Lawrence Cuthbert of the 3/1st West Riding Heavy Battery, R.G.A. (Territorial Force). The document
was now witnessed by Second-Lieutenant Henry Ernest Ruddock also of the W.R.H.B. before being signed by the Magistrate or
Attesting Officer, Temporary Captain Frederick William Butt-Thompson, West Riding R.G.A. At York, one final signature was
added, that of Colonel Sir George Hay, Recruiting Officer, 14th Area.
On the 21st of December 1916, Tom was posted to the
8th Training Reserve Battalion of the 2nd Training Reserve Brigade stationed at Rugeley, Staffordshire, Officer Commanding,
Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Arthur Hayden D.S.O. Issued the serial number TR/5/29570?, the Training Reserve had been formed
under Army Order 259 dated the 1st of August 1916. Formed from the various Reserve Battalions of the British Army, the T.R.
would in effect act as a pool from which drafts could be sent to any Regiment which could not be supplied with manpower from
Regimental Reserves from either the Regular, New Army or Territorial Force. In an attempt to maintain a territorial connection,
there would however be kept a Regimental Reserve in each Regiment, the Special Reserve Battalion, the Extra Special Reserve
Battalion, if one existed, and the Territorial Reserve Battalions. The Army Order carrys on in greater detail but one point
of interest states that the T.R. would abandon their regimental designations and be allocated consecutive numbers as battalions,
in effect, the men had now 'lost their regional identity'. The Reading Standard dated the 27th of January 1917 published
a rather amusing 'tale' of life at Rugeley Camp. Under the pseudonym of "Arnold Magpie," this 'wag'
wrote the following words:-
"There's an isolated, desolate spot I'd like to mention,
Where all you hear is "Stand at ease, " Quick march, "
"Slope arms," "Attention."
It's miles away from anywhere, by jove, it is a rum 'un,
A man lived there for 50 years and never saw a woman.
There's lots of tiny huts all dotted here and
who live inside them I have offered many a prayer.
It's mud up to your eyebrows, it gets into your ears,
But into it you have to go without the slightest fears.
There's soldiers living in the huts it fills
my heart with sorrow,
tear-dimmed eyes they say to me, "It's Rugeley Camp to-morrow."
Inside the huts live rats they say as big as any goat,
Last night a soldier saw one trying on his overcoat.
For breakfast every
morning it is just like Mother Hubbard,
You "double" round the hut three times and dive into the cupboard.
Sometimes they give you bacon, sometimes they give you cheese,
Which marches up and down your plate, "Slope
arms" and Stand at ease."
At night you sleep on straw and boards, just like a herd of cattle,
And if perchance you should turn round your bones begin to rattle.
And when you hear reveille blown it makes you feel
the icebergs off your feet and wish the bugler was in - .
Now when the war is over and we've captured Kaiser Billy,
To shoot him would be merciful and absolutely silly.
Just send him up to Rugeley Camp among the rats
the Crown Prince watch him as he slowly fades away".
Although rather amusing, the conditions no doubt caused men to desert. Men
such as Private Bramley who had deserted on Boxing Day 1916 from the 8th Training Reserve Battalion and who was apprehended
at Rugeley on the 2nd of January 1917. Pneumonia was also prevalent resulting in the deaths of a number of soldiers, Private
George James Pledger, a native of Harringay and a member of the 10th Battalion, dying of heart failure on the 19th of January
1917 due to bronchitis contracted on army service. According to a rather bitter article published in the John Bull dated the
10th of February 1917, George had returned from furlough suffering from bronchitis and had been left all night in the corner
of a hut whereupon he became delirious. Eventually the seriousness of his condition was identified and he was removed to the
Camp Hospital whereupon he unfortunately died, a victim as the article stated of "the usual shilly-shallying among
the officers - N.C.O.'s and commissioned". Another man, Private Samuel Ernest Sargeant of the 12th Training
Reserve Battalion died on the 12th of February 1917 aged 29 years. A native of Brewood, Staffordshire, Samuel also succumbed
to broncho pneumonia and was buried with full military honours in Brewood Churchyard.
Drink was one way to alleviate boredom or the vagaries
of camp life however sometimes it was taken in excess resulting in problems with the local constabulary. Complaints were raised
by the Local Magistrate after one incident on the 18th of February when a Policeman was assaulted on Park Street, Wallsall.
With soldiers gathering in the street, two men from Rugeley who stated that "they had had too much beer" set
about the officer kicking and punching him. Stating that one had been struck by the Constable, the 'Prisoner' complained
that "He can hit pretty hard, I shan't come to Walsall again". With a fine of 10 Shillings imposed
on each man, it was made clear to the men that if they came before the Bench again, that they would probably be sent to Jail.
To The 7th And 9th Training Reserve Battalions
It was in March 1917 that the War Office announced
that a number of Training Reserve Battalions would be selected and organised for the training of recruits between the ages
of eighteen and eighteen and eight months. Their primary function was to absorb recruits conscripted under the Military Service
Act of 1916 who were deemed fit for general service in the ranks of the infantry. An emphasis was to be placed on the eduction
and welfare of these young men and the Headquarters of the battalions selected for the purpose had been "carefully
selected". A syllabus of training had been designed specifically to meet the requirements that would both train
and educate the recruits until they reached an age where they were available for drafting overseas.
The 8th Training Reserve
Battalion had been selected for this scheme and after reorganisation it would be designated the 8th Young Soldier Battalion
in May but prior to this restructure, Tom would be transferred to the 7th Training Reserve Battalion. Transferred on the 31st
of March 1917 by Authority of the G.O.C. 2nd Training Reserve, this battalion were also stationed at Rugeley Camp, the Officer
Commanding being one Brevet Colonel Ernest Augustus Frederick Carter. In May, the 7th Battalion would be redesignated the
7th Young Soldier Battalion and no doubt as a consequence, Tom was transferred to the 9th Training Reserve Battalion on the
15th of May 1917, Officer Commanding, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Herbert Young D.S.O.
With his training
completed, Private Thomas Binge was posted to France on the 27th/28th of May 1917. (Authors note:- An analysis of various
service documents point to his embarkation taking place at Folkestone, disembarkation at Boulogne). On the 29th, he was then
posted to the 33rd I.B.D. (Infantry Base Depot/Detail) located at Etaples, near Boulogne, and it was whilst here that the
men would continue to be trained and brought up to speed with latest developments in grenades and gas for example before being
posted to their allocated units. Enduring incessant drills in addition to the training, Tom and a draft numbering one officer
and 121 Other Ranks were transferred to the 8th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment on the 15th of June 1917. Amongst
this large draft for example was one John Robert Cattle, a native of Sheriff Hutton, near York, and Private Frank Lightley
of Bridlington. From the south of England, Private James William Maynard of Surrey, posted from the 9th T.R. Battalion, and
from Wiltshire, Private Frederick John Overton, also of the 9th Battalion.
A mix of men from various walks of life, Tom and the draft accompanied by
Captain Frank Leslie Ball, joined the 8th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, whilst they were billeted at Estree-Wamin,
east of Frevent, France, on the 19th of June. Under the command of Acting Lieutenant-Colonel John Nathael de la Perrelle,
the battalion, in division, had recently been involved in heavy fighting at the Battle of Arras and subsequent phases and
was now involved in a process of training and refitting. Contained within the 3rd Division, the following is a brief history
of their activities up until June 1917.
A Regular Army Division, the latter had embarked for France as part of the
original British Expeditionary Force in 1914. Witnessing action at Mons and the subsequent rearguard actions that led to the
Battle of the Aisne, moving northwards, they then participated in a number of engagements at La Bassee, Messines and Armentieres.
In the year of 1915 the division fought a number of costly actions in the Ypres Salient and in November of that year, the
8th East Yorkshire's joined the 3rd Division after transferring from the 21st Division. In 1916, the division became embroiled
in the bitter fighting at "The Bluff" and the St. Eloi Craters before moving southwards to participate in the Battle
of the Somme and it's subsequent phases. Fighting through the numerous phases of the Battle of Arras, as of June 1917,
the 8th Infantry Brigade, containing the East Yorkshire's, comprised of the following units:-
2nd Battalion, Royal
Scots (Lothian Regiment)
Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
(Service) Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry
8th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
8th Trench Mortar Battery
8th Machine Gun Company
Temporary Brigadier-General Hardress Gilbert Holmes C.M.G.
Divisional Commander Temporary Major-General Cyril John Deverell
Billeted at Estree-Wamin
along with the 2nd Royal Scots, the remainder of the brigade along with Brigade Headquarters were located in and around Liencourt.
Inspections of the new drafts were now carried out by the G.O.C., reinforcements for the brigade by the 23rd of the month
numbering over a thousand men. On the 25th, an Operation Order was received from 3rd Division informing the respective brigades
that they would now be transferred from 6th Corps to 4th Corps respectively, the latter under the command of Lieutenant-General
Sir Charles Louis Woollcombe. Coming under the orders of the Third Army, it was on the 27th of June that both the East Yorkshire's
and the 2nd Royal Scots moved to Lucheux located to the north-east of Doullens and it was whilst at this location that they
were joined by the remainder of the brigade during the course of the following day. Greeted by a heavy thunderstorm accompanied
with heavy rain in the evening, on the 29th, the brigade, proceeded by Mounted Personnel and Transport under the command of
Temporary Captain Alan Heaton Mackay, O.C. Number 3 Company A.S.C., moved to Gomiecourt, located about three and a half miles
north-west of Bapaume. For those not fortunate to be mounted, their journey began in three trains departing from Doullens
and upon arrival at Achiet-le-Grand, they then marched the short distance to their billets. Brigade Headquarters was established
in the only house still standing in the village, this being due to the presence of mines having been discovered.
A further move was
made on the 30th of the month when the brigade commenced a relief of the 143rd Infantry Brigade of the 48th (South Midland)
Division in the Reserve Brigade Area, Haplincourt - Velu - Lebucquiere - Beugny - Fremicourt area east of Bapaume. For Tom
and the men of the East Yorkshire's, they set forth from Gomiecourt for Lebucquiere in wet and miserable weather and upon
their arrival it was found that the village was completely destroyed with not one house left standing. Rain continued to fall
when on the following day at 9.30 p.m. the Officer Commanding and the Second-in-Command, Lieutenant (Acting Major) David Campbell
Duncan Munro M.C, D.C.M., accompanied by Company and Platoon Commanders reconnoitered the line held by the 1/8th Worcester's
of the 48th Division. As the rain cleared on the following day, everything was reported as "fresh" but
during the course of the morning, enemy artillery shelled the village or what remained of it but fortunately no casualties
were sustained. It was at 10 p.m. that the relief of the Worcester's began, this being duly completed by 2 a.m. without
incident apart from some shelling by British artillery that no doubt announced a relief in the line to the watchful enemy.
As the C.O. and Major Duncan went round the lines, the first day in this new sector was spent quietly however at some point
during the course of the day, Second-Lieutenant Edward Buckle was wounded in the hand but remained at duty.
|Source:- TNA WO95/1379/3
The front line comprised of a system of outposts as opposed to
a continuous trench system. Manned typically by one or two sections accompanied by Lewis gunners, in front of this outpost
line was a continuous line of wire with some posts having further wire obstacles erected to the front. To the rear of this
line was an Intermediate Line also comprising of a series of posts located between 1000 - 1500 yards behind the front
line, this line also being continuously wired. At a distance of 1500 - 2000 yards further to the rear was a 2nd Line,
this also being protected by barbed wire defences. Further to the rear was what was referred to as the Beugny - Ytres
Line, a former German position that was wired for defence but with some 'gaps' evident. Adopting a strength in
depth policy, not dissimilar to that of the enemy, villages in each line were also to be incorporated into the defence system
to act as strong points, this in effect being designated the Corps Line. There were however some significant failures
in the construction of the system as a whole. From the Intermediate Line to the front line outposts there were no
communication trenches constructed, the supply of men and materiel therefore having to moved up over the open under
the hours of darkness. In addition, due to available manpower, not all of the posts in the front could be held constantly,
selected posts therefore being garrisoned to maintain observation and adequate fields of fire. Patrolling in strength at night
and in the day was a necessity, enemy patrols it was found normally consisting of about 50 men covered by a light machine
As regards observation and topography,
the main feature of the sector was the Beugny - Lebucquiere - Hermies Ridge which ran in a due east and westerly direction
across the front held by the 3rd Division. Eminating from the Ridge like fingers were several parallel spurs and re-entrants
running in a north-easterly direction, gradually sloping down to the northern sector of the German System, the Siegfriedstellung
(Hindenburg Line). The system as a whole faced in a south-westerly direction where at Moeuvres located to the east, it turned
southwards following the line of the Canal du Nord. Supported by mutual defence systems equally complex, the enemy had direct
observation from the rear over the British lines from positions such as Pronville, Bourlon Wood and from the Havrincourt -
Flesquieres Spur. Closer to the line, he also had complete observation over positions south of the Cambrai Road from Tadpole
Copse, west of Moeuvres.
Units & Dispositions
Intelligence revealed that the enemy units holding their line from the right of the 3rd Division were the 56th, 60th
and 7th Regiments of the 121st Division and the Guard Fusilier Regiment of the 3rd Guard Division. Suffering heavy losses
at Verdun and on the Somme in 1916, after a period spent on the Eastern Front, the division returned to the Western Front
in 1917 and took over the line in this sector in the month of June. Regarding dispositions, each regiment posted two battalions
in the front line whilst one was placed in a supporting position, as regards to battalions, each furnished two companies for
the occupany of the front line positions whilst one was placed in support. The balance of manpower therefore favoured the
enemy opposite the positions of the 8th Infantry Brigade, the latter having ten companies in the line as opposed to sixteen
of the enemy force. These companies it was reported each numbered a strength of 150 men and it was noted that in front of
the two divisions on the brigades left flank, he held this position in even greater strength as it was deemed a vulnerable
point where the Drocourt-Queant Line joined the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line).
The Hindenburg Line itself in this sector consisted of two lines about one
thousand yards apart from each other, each of these lines comprising of two continuous systems of trenches that were protected
by an almost impenetrable system of barbed wire defences. From the right flank of the sector located to the south-east of
Hermies and running up to the village of Moeuvres, the enemy trench system followed the line of the Canal du Nord whereupon
at this juncture the line, as previously stated, headed in a westerly direction to Queant and the strongly fortified position
known as the Birdcage. On the left flank, the British line varied from a distance of 1500 to 2000 yards from the
enemy line until it reached a point east of Hermies at Demicourt. As the line headed southwards east of Hermies, both the
British and the German lines converged near Canal Copse where they were only separated by the expanse of the Canal.
Between Canal Copse and Wigan Copse further to the south was a railway bridge however the structure had
been destroyed and was covered by a bridgehead tenaciously held as it were so close to the enemy lines. Further to the north
of this position was a Spoil Heap on the west bank of the Canal, the position, made by excavations from the construction
of the waterway, affording the enemy excellent observation over the British lines.
Enemy activity on the whole was confined to spasmodic artillery fire on batteries and villages in the sector. Front
line posts were left relatively unmolested however those near the Canal were subjected to the fire of trench mortars and grenade
launchers (Granatenwerfer). Under the cover of the hours of darkness, strong patrols covered by a light machine guns
were frequent in particularl on the front held by the left brigade in the sector as he tried to determine which posts were
actually occupied. Raids had been frequent, three it was recorded within a period of five weeks, two alone being mounted by
the 121st Division, a battle hardened division, but all had been unsuccessful.
|View From The Outposts
|Near Positions L30 & L29. Pronville In The Distance. Author, October 2019.
July Continues:- Patrols, Drafts & Deaths
Patrols were sent out at night but no contact was made with enemy
patrols. On the 4th of July, further drafts were received by the 8th East Yorkshire's numbering 14 Other Ranks from the
37th Infantry Base Depot (I.B.D.) based at Etaples near Boulogne. During the night of the 5th, Temporary Second-Lieutenant
Alfred Reginald Ernest Outwin took out a patrol and discovered a short piece of newly dug trench in which were found tools,
wire and a telephone wire but on the front held by the 2nd Royal Scots in the Right Sub-Sector, a Vizefeldwebel of
the 64 Reserve Infanterie Regiment was killed on the Cambrai Road near Boursies. A patrol was then sent out to recover his
body and upon a search for papers, he was found to have on his person a small sketch of No Man's Land. Buried near the
Battalion Headquarters close to the site of the Louverval Memorial, I can find no trace of Otto Koppe in the records of the
and German artillery were both in action on the following day, the enemy guns paying particular attention to both the villages
of Louverval and Morchies as both Temporary Second-Lieutenant Arthur Samuel Wright and Captain? joined the battalion on this
day. Aerial activity had also increased over the last few days but it was on the 8th of July that a patrol led by Acting Captain
Henry Sydney Williams and Temporary Second-Lieutenant Christopher Walter Lamb ventured forward across No Man's Land to
a crater located to the south-east of Tadpole Copse (map reference, D.24.a.60.52.). It is not recorded if
the Crater was occupied however this appears to be confirmed when on the following evening the position was revisited whereupon
the patrol encountered what was termed as severe opposition but fortunately no casualties were sustained. Listening and observation
were just as important as aggressive actions, a patrol from "A" Company taking possession of a forward post where
it remained throughout the following day. This may have been as a consequence to a raid carried out on the 1st Royal Scots
Fusiliers on the night of the 8th/9th of July as the enemy attempted to enter the line at Post L.37 held by "C"
Company. The raiders were driven off but Second-Lieutenant John Limond had been wounded along with four Other Ranks, one O/R
being recorded as killed. Private Tom Henry Kemp, 201378, subsequently died of wounds on the 9th of July, Private John Turnbull,
26955, was recorded as killed in action, both men are now buried in Red Cross Corner Cemetery, Beugny.
It was on the night of the 10th/11th of July that the 8th Infantry Brigade
were relieved by units of the 76th Infantry Brigade. As a consequence, the East Yorkshire's furnished guides at 10.45
p.m. at the Beet-root Factory on the Cambrai Road, east of Beugny, who led the 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers to the
trenches, the relief being completed by 12.45 a.m. on the morning of the 11th. Passing without incident, the battalion then
proceeded to Lebucquiere which was reached between the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. During the following days and enjoying glorious
weather, the battalion cleaned up and rested and had a chance to bathe however a programme of training was also initiated
on the 12th. Fundamental changes in the frontage held by the division were now taking place. During this reconstruction, a
great emphasis was placed on the connecting of the front line posts to form a continuous trench line, new trenches were to
be constructed and carefully sited so as to provide flanking fire across the divisional front, trenches were to be deepened
and widened, and strengthening along the whole of the front of the barbed wire defences was also to be carried out under the
orders of the Commander Royal Engineers. As the fine weather continued, it was on the 13th that all parades were cancelled
due to the battalion being allocated the task of the construction of a new Communication Trench. The 56th Field Company, Royal
Engineers, furnished three officers and two sections for one task with 360 men of the infantry attached whilst the 438th Company
also began the construction of a new C.T. from the Valley to Post L.32. Working under the hours of darkness,
the War Diary of the East Yorkshire's offers little information as to the events of the 13th/14th of July however an analysis
of the Commonwealth War Graves Database reveals that two men of the battalion were killed or died of wounds on this day, Private
Joseph John Warner, 28898, and Private William Fletcher, 31539.
William Fletcher, born at Bradford and residing with his wife Annie Mabel and son Reginald at Drighlington, Bradford.
A Butcher by trade, little is know of William other than I estimate his enlistment at Bradford in about December 1916. Aged
33 years, he now lies buried at Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension and in addition to his place of burial, William is
also commemorated on the Drighlington War Memorial.
Joseph Warner, a native of Sittingbourne, Kent. The eldest son of the late Joseph and Sarah Ann Warner, his mother
had taken over the Licence of the Golden Fleece Public House located on West Street upon the death of his father. Educated
at Borden Grammar School, after completing his education he had trained as a motor mechanic and a driver at Messrs. Pullen
Brothers, Park Road, before enlisting for military service at Herne Bay. Mobilised in February 1917, Joseph was initially
posted to the Army Service Corps but he was then transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment. I surmise that he subsequently
served in the 9th Battalion of the Training Reserve based at Rugeley, Staffordshire, and followed the same path as Tom Binge
to the Western Front in late May. Processed at the 33rd I.B.D. he subsequently joined the East Yorkshire Regiment 'in
the field" on the 15th of June. Although I have based the majority of this service 'history' on a newspaper article
published in the East Kent Gazette dated the 21st of July 1917, the article, at some points as regards to accuracy, is open
to question specifically regarding dates and postings. Evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station located at Grevillers
on the morning of the 14th of July, Joseph had sustained severe wounds to his legs and never regained consciousness. The aforementioned
newspaper article reads:-
Thursday Mrs. S. A. Warner, of the Golden Fleece, West Street, Sittingbourne, received the sad news of the death in France
of her elder son, Joseph John Warner. A Sister in No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station wrote to say that the young fellow was brought
in on Saturday, the 14th instant, severely wounded in both legs. He died the same evening, having been unconscious all through.
The Sister conveyed her great regret and sympathy to the bereaved mother, and added that her son would be buried in the cemetery
at that station. Joseph Warner, who was only 19, was small in stature. He was on old Borden Grammar School boy, and afterwards
learnt the business of a motor mechanic and driver at the Motor Garage of Messrs. Pullen Brothers, Park-road. He joined the
Motor Transport on February 28th last, but was afterwards transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment for training. Seven
weeks ago he went out on draft to France, and was transferred to the East Yorkshires; and now comes the sad news of his death.
The young fellow was muched liked, and much sympathy is felt for the bereaved relatives".
Buried in Grevillers British Cemetery, in addition to his place of burial,
John is also commemorated on the Sittingbourne War Memorial and at Borden Grammar School, Sittingbourne, Kent. Working parties
continued to be furnished over the coming days in the Hermies Sector however a party of the East Yorkshire's numbering
80 men as of the 17th of July, were under training for a proposed raid on the enemy held crater at D.24.a. near Tadpole
Copse. On the night of the 18th/19th, the 8th Infantry Brigade once again moved back into the line, the East Yorkshire's
relieving the 8th King's Own (Royal Lancasters) in the line. The fundamental changes that had now taken place on the frontage
held by the 3rd Division would witness this sector now being divided into three Brigade Sections designated Hermies, Louverval
and Morchies. The East Yorkshire's now held the left of the Section, the 7th King's Shropshire Light
Infantry the right respectively. 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers were placed in Brigade Reserve at Lebucquiere whilst the 2nd Royal
Scots were placed in Divisional Reserve near Velu Wood. Patrols were sent out almost immediately, the 2nd Royal Scots
furnishing working parties on both the construction of communication trenches and the strengthening of the wire defences in
the Intermediate Section. On the 22nd, the East Yorkshire's had sent out a patrol to the crater located at D.30.a.
which was found to be occupied. Although the actual events that unfolded are not recorded, as a result of an engagement,
two men were wounded but safely brought back to the line. A patrol of the Shropshire's was also out across No Man's
Land and located a large party of the enemy near to the road junction on the Cambrai Road, west of Boursies, at K.1.a.
and were subsequently fired upon. It later transpired that they had in fact encountered a party of the enemy, covering a number
of men who were working on the position. During this action, one man was wounded and one unfortunately killed, this man being
one Private John Bernard Lee, 26472, a native of Birkenhead. The Birkenhead News dated the 1st of August 1917 reported his
death, an extract of which reads:-
"In a letter to Miss Lee, the deceased soldier's sister, his Company Sergeant-Major writes:-
He was bravely defending his position against a German patrol when an
enemy bullet caught him in the leg and inflicted a large wound, from which he died almost immediately. He was laid to rest,
in the presence of a few comrades, on the evening of the same day in a British cemetery not far from where he fell.
This popular soldier joined the Cheshires twelve months ago last March.
Later he was transferred to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. He had previously been in hospital with frost-bitten
feet. A sad feature of the case was that the deceased was killed on his 30th birthday. Before joining up he was employed at
the Radiant Firelight Co., Rock Ferry. His home was at 153, St. Anne-street".
|Private John Bernard Lee
|Buried, Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension
Aerial activity from both sides increased during the following
days as patrols were again sent out at night across No Man's Land, no enemy patrols being encountered. As work continued
on the defences all across the divisional front, one man of the battalion was accidentally wounded on the 24th and that same
night, a patrol reported that the crater in D.30.a. was held by the enemy. A further patrol carried out on the 25th
near Tadpole Copse found the crater in D.24.a. held by the enemy, the sounds of wiring and posts being driven
into the ground being heard by the patrol, one O/R being wounded during the course of the day. It was on the night of the
26th that the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers relieved the East Yorkshire's in the line, this relief being completed by 12.30
a.m. Upon their relief, the battalion proceeded to Lebucquiere and in to Divisional Reserve where the day was spent at rest
and cleaning with no parades being furnished. The next few days were spent providing working parties for the digging of communication
trenches and nothing of any importance occurred until the 30th when a heavy thunderstorm broke, lightning striking a tree
close to Battalion Headquarters. For the Scots Fusiliers holding the line however, the night of the 30th/31st of July was
to prove to be an eventful one.
Early on the morning of the 31st, an enemy artillery barrage began on the now designated "C" (Louverval) Section
of the line on the 3rd Divisional Front. In the Left Sub-Section, this barrage began to inflict casualties amongst
the ranks of the Scots Fusiliers and at 3 a.m., the 40th Brigade, R.F.A. (3rd Divisional Artillery), observed a red and white
rocket being fired. As a consequence, orders were sent down to the batteries for Concentration "B," a pre-arranged
fire plan, but after two minutes, this order was changed to Concentration "C". It soon became apparent
that a situation was developing, this being confirmed by the launch of the S.O.S. Signal at 3.20 a.m. from Post
8, artillery fire now being adjusted to support the position by the use of Concentration "D". It transpired
that the enemy artillery barrage was initiated to cover a raid by a force estimated at numbering 150 men on Posts L 6,
L 7, L 8, and L 10 a. Detonating a Bangalore Torpedo in the main belt of the barbed wire defences to
the north-east of Post 8, the raiders attempted to rush the position held by the Fusiliers but were driven off by
a garrison already depleted in numbers due to the effects of the barrage. Of the other Posts attacked, their garrisons
opened a heavy fire on the attackers who were forced to withdraw leaving behind a further Torpedo and a number of
bombs in front of the positions. Casualties numbered two men killed, eight wounded, and one man missing. Of the man 'missing,'
Private Dugald McIntyre, 201905, a native of Glasgow, he was later reported as being taken prisoner, unwounded.
On the first day of the month it rained hard but finally cleared during the
course of the afternoon. With the battalions in the line working on communication trenches, barbed wire defences and constructing
dug-outs, the East Yorkshire's, still located at Lebucquiere, were inspected by Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Louis Woollcombe,
K.C.B., G.O.C. Fourth Corps. As the rain continued, it was on the 3rd that the battalion relieved the Scots Fusiliers in the
line, the relief being completed at 12.30 a.m. without incident. Once again occupying the Left Sub-Section, a letter
of appreciation was received by the battalion as regards the inspection that was carried out on the first of the month as
all working parties were further suspended due to the inclement weather. The weather improved on the 5th and rather surprisingly
aerial activity was minimal, the remainder of the day being described as quiet. There was some 'excitement' however
at about 10.30 p.m. when the S.O.S. Signal was sent up on the right of the 76th Infantry Brigade, 40th Brigade, R.F.A.
responding quickly and maintaining fire until just before midnight. The Signal was fired once again a few minutes
later whereupon the artillery commenced fire for the duration of twenty minutes and then ceased, the remainder of the night
being quiet with nothing of importance occuring.
The next few days were ones of relative inactivity from both sides but for the East Yorkshire's, a raid on the
enemy trench system that had been planned in some detail as early as July now came to fruition. At 10 p.m. on the night of
the 8th, a Raiding Party under the command of Temporary Second-Lieutenant Christopher Walter Lamb accompanied by Second-Lieutenant
Edward Buckle set forth across No Man's Land to raid the Crater located at D.30 a. and a trench located
in the vicinity. After spending a period of three hours 'out,' both positions were found to be un-occupied and the
party returned to the line without suffering any casualties. Relieved on the night of the 11th/12th by the Scots Fusiliers,
the battalion proceeded to Lebucquiere however 150 men drawn from both "A" and "B" Companies remained
in the line under the command of Temporary Second-Lieutenant William Cranswick to form working parties. Although the relief
had passed without incident, a 'Fighting Patrol' of the Shropshire Light Infantry who were patrolling No Man's
Land came to grips with the enemy.
The Patrol, comprising of two platoons under the command of Second-Lieutenant George Hughes, accompanied by Temporary
Lieutenant Arthur Cyril Hetherington M.C., Battalion Intelligence Officer, departed the line at 10.30 p.m. from a Post
just to the east of Boursies with a view to reconnoitering the Crater located at K.2.a.1.8. on the
Cambrai - Bapaume Road. One platoon was left at in a trench at K.1.b.2.5. to act as a covering party as the remainder
ventured forth to the Crater in an attempt to secure an identification. Proceeding forward for a distance of about
two hundred yards, this party then came across a belt of barbed wire and an attempt to find a gap was made by Second-Lieutenant
Hughes accompanied by a number of Battalion Scouts. As the men searched for a gap, the enemy then sent up a signal flare from
a trench located at K.1.b.8.7. and in response, a number of men were immediately seen to exit the trench and approach
the barbed wire defences. Two men then approached the Patrol, one being bayoneted before he could issue an alarm but unfortunately
a round was fired inadvertently whereupon the second man was shot.
|Demicourt, Special Sheet, Part Of 57c N.E.
|Trenches Corrected To 7/11/1917, Courtesy Of McMasters Library
All hell now broke loose as the enemy opened a heavy fire with
rifles, machine guns and trench mortars, it being estimated that four machine guns and two trench mortars were being utilised
to fire upon the Party. One of the mortars it was later believed seemed to be firing from the confines of the Crater,
another mortar and a machine gun also believed to have opened fire from a 'small work' constructed at the end
of a Sap in E.26.c.3.3. Now in a precarious position, the Patrol opened fire with both rifle and Lewis gun
but with the enemy force deemed to be superior in numbers, the order was given to retire to the position occupied by the covering
party. As this position was now receiving the attentions of enemy trench mortar fire, no doubt after some consideration as
regards to this position being untenable, the order was given to withdraw to a 'bank' located at K.1.a.9.6., a
position that now equates to a point just north of the Bapaume - Cambrai Road, the D34B. A party of the enemy in numbers was
now observed advancing towards the position of the Patrol however they did not continue their advance beyond the trench located
in K.1.b.2.5. Returning to the line at 3.15 a.m., the casualties suffered by the Patrol numbered one officer and
one Other Rank killed, and one Other Rank missing. In addition to this, 5 men were wounded. Parties were sent back to recover
the bodies of the dead and to attempt to find the fate of the missing man but to no avail. At some period, the bodies of Second-Lieutenant
George Hughes, aged 23 years, and that of Private George King, aged 18 years and a native of Stockport, were buried and later
concentrated into Anneux British Cemetery. For Private William Henry Poynton, a native of Oswestry, he was denied a known
grave and is therefore commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
Whilst at Lebucquiere, the East Yorkshire's initiated a programme of trainining that was hampered somewhat by
the weather. As the latter improved, the men spent their time cleaning up, bathing and refitting, time also being spent firing
on the range to hone their musketry skills. Lieutenant Cranswick's detachment returned on the 14th instant, this being
replaced by 5 officers and 150 Other Ranks from both "C" and "D" Companies under the command of Second-Lieutenant
Henry Clarendon Godfrey to work on tasks at Louverval. Owing to the weather that had deterioated further with lightning, thunderstorms
and heavy rainfall, this party returned. During the days previously, there had also been a change in Company Commanders, "A"
Company with Acting Captain Henry Sydney Williams on leave was taken over by Temporary Second-Lieutenant Lawrence Ashbridge
whilst Temporary Lieutenant Gwyn Hobson Matthews took over command of "B" Company respectively. "C" Company
in turn was taken over by the recently returned from leave, Temporary Captain Charles de Warren Armitage.
Various forms of trainining were carried out in the following days with a
number of officers proceeding on training courses. An inter-platoon Sports Day was held on the 19th however the competition
was postponed due to the battalion being required to relieve the Scots Fusiliers in the line, this being duly completed without
incident at 11.30 p.m. Now occupying the Left Sub-Sector of the Right (Louverval) Section, the day was reported as
'quiet' but during the afternoon, a single enemy Field Howitzer firing 5.9 inch shells began to register on map reference
J.3.d. just behind the ruins of Louverval. After registering, four 5.9 guns then began to fire on this map reference
at a rate of eight rounds per minute, this fire eventually easing and then ceasing at 4 p.m. Guided by an enemy aircraft that
was flying between Louverval and Tadpole Copse, this artillery fire appeared to eminate from either a position behind
Queant or one further distant near Bourlon Wood.
Once again, the Battalion War Diary records little information as to events other than a 'visit' by the Army
Corps and Divisional Commanders to view the Intermediate Line positions. The 22nd of August was recorded as a "fine
day" but as regards enemy artillery, Lagnicourt received the attentions of twenty rounds of 4.2 inch Howitzer shells
and for a period of two hours, the Bois de Vaulx to the west of Lagnicourt was heavily shelled by both 4.2 inch and
5.9 inch shells from enemy artillery located at Pronville. Presumably under the cover of the hours of darkness, the Brigade
War Diary records that a Patrol of the East Yorkshire's was sent out, reporting on their return that they had heard the
activities of an enemy working party south-east of Tadpole Copse. During the course of the day however, R Post
was shelled resulting in the wounding of two men, one, Private Robert Potts, 22969, succumbing to wounds that day at
the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station located at Grevillers.
Robert Potts was born in 1876 at Birtley, County Durham, the son of a Coalminer. Residing in 1915 at Beresford Road,
Newcastle, occupation, Cartman, Robert attested for military service at Newcastle on the 11th of December 1915 aged forty
years and six months. Placed on the Army Reserve, he was then mobilised on the 5th of April 1916 and subsequently posted to
the 14th (Reserve) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment based at Seaton Delaval, Northumberland. Shortly after his posting to
this battalion, Robert was then transferred to the No. 2 Infantry Works Company, East Yorkshire Regiment. Formed from infantry
personnel fit for home service only but capable of manual labour, there is little information regarding this unit however
they were also stationed at Seaton Delaval and formed from personnel of the 14th (Reserve). Transferred to No. 8 Infantry
Works Company of the Liverpool Regiment by Army Authority, it was on the 27th of January 1917 that Robert was posted
to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment then based at Withernsea. Posted overseas on the 5th of April 1917,
it appears that Robert was initially destined for a draft to the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Yorkshire's but this was
changed I surmise at the Infantry Base Depot (I.B.D.) and as a consequence he was posted to the 8th Battalion of the Regiment.
Joining this battalion at Arras as part of a number of drafts received from the 37th I.B.D. located at Etaples, Robert
succumbed to wounds at the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station on the 22nd of August and is now buried in Grevillers British Cemetery.
On the following day, work
continued in the line by the battalion joining up posts and under the cover of darkness, a Patrol of the Shropshire's
departed the line at 10 p.m. towards the enemy position at K.1.b.8.6. and found it occupied by the enemy. The wire,
it was reported, was intact and deep and the Patrol returned without casualties at 12.15 a.m. Patrols and raiding were the
order of the day, "C" Company of the 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers mounting a raid on the night of the 22nd/23rd on
an enemy position in the line just south of Pronville. Despite blowing up the wire with Bangalore Torpedoes, the
enemy were alert and opened up fire with both machine guns and trench mortars, two Other Ranks being wounded. On the 24th,
the Brigade War Diary records that enemy artillery shelled the vicinity of Demicourt with a few rounds of 77mm shell, our
artillery firing Corps Concentration and night firing on the enemy barbed wire defences and on No Man's Land
in general. During the course of the day one man however was killed, Private Ernest Bell, 28247, a native of Hull.
A resident of Middleburg Street, off New Bridge Road, in the Southcoates
area of Hull, prior to the war Ernest was employed at Messrs. Laverack and Goddard's Timber Merchants and Manufacturers,
Drypool, Hull. Despite the lack of surviving service documents was can assume with some certainty that Ernest enlisted for
military service at Hull in November 1915. His military service is now somewhat ambiguous however he may have initially served
with the 3/4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment who at this juncture were based at South Dalton, East Yorkshire. Posted
overseas in January 1917 to the 37th Infantry Base Depot at Etaples, he may have originally been destined to join the ranks
of the 1/4th Battalion however this was changed at I.B.D. level and he was therefore transferred to the 8th Battalion. Killed
in action on the 24th but recorded in the War Diary as the 25th, Ernest, aged 23 years, is now buried at Lebucquiere Communal
|Hull Daily Mail Dated The 12th Of September 1917
It was on the night of the 25th/26th of August that another raid
was planned, this being duly carried out by the 2nd Royal Scots. The objective of the raid was to enter a point in the enemy
trench system at K.8.a. due east of Demicourt and to secure identification and loss on the enemy . With the Raiding
Party comprising of 7 officers and 122 Other Ranks of "C" Company under the command of Acting Captain David Douglas
Anderson Berry, the party were augmented by the support of three Lewis guns. (Authors note:- Officers included in the Raid;
Second-Lieutenant Percy Ewen Clunes Honeyman (Sniping and Intelligence Officer), Second-Lieutenant James Francis Ronaldson
Lyell, Second-Lieutenant Ernest George Elmslie, Second-Lieutenant Valentine Shearman, Second-Lieutenant William Alexander
McIntosh and Second-Lieutenant David Stuart McGregor). Departing the line at 10.55 p.m., the raiders were in position
near enemy occupied shell-holes at 12.45 a.m having encountered no enemy parties. Scouts were then sent forward to reconnoitre
the strength of the enemy wire but were challenged twice by an alert enemy and then fired upon. Despite their presence being
detected to some extent, the Scouts then remained 'doggo' for the duration of half an hour whereupon they attempted
a further reconnaissance but were challenged once again for their identity. Upon their 'scheme being up,' a party
of the enemy numbering about 25 men then made their way through a gap in the wire in an attempt to 'rush' the party
of the Scouts. A fight now ensued as the Scouts opened fire and bombed the enemy party causing several casualties however
some members of the Scouting Party had also been hit causing the Raiding Party as a whole to lose its formation. Despite this,
Captain Berry reorganised the Company and sent out parties to search for the wounded of both parties and it was soon ascertained
that Acting Corporal William Butterfield, 43210, had been killed and a further two men wounded. These casualties were recovered
but of the enemy wounded there was no trace. Gathering together stores and Bangalore Torpedoes, rifle grenades were
now fired into the enemy position and the order to withdraw was given at 2.48 a.m., this being four red Very Lights, fired,
two at a time. Under rifle fire and bombs, the Party now withdrew and fired the "all in" signal, five white
Very Lights in quick succession at 3.20 a.m.
William Butterfield was born at Northallerton, North Yorkshire, in 1896, the son of William, occupation, a Linoleum
Labourer, and Helen Butterfield. Shortly after his birth, the family including four siblings returned to Scotland, the birth
place of his mother, the family residing in premises located in March Street, Sinclairtown, Fife. Little is known of the Butterfield
family in the years proceeding 1901 however it appears that William (Senior) was employed at the Elgin Linoleum Works at Kirkaldy,
Fife. At some point William had found employment as a Shipping Clerk with the Kirkcaldy and Hull Steamship Company and upon
enlistment in 1916 was residing at Number 14, Harriet Street, Kirkcaldy. Attesting for military service at Kirkcaldy on the
3rd of December 1915, William was then placed on the Army Reserve until being mobilised on the 29th of February 1916. On the
1st of March, he was duly posted to the 3/9th (Highlanders) Battalion, Royal Scots, and numbered 4363. Posted overseas to
the 20th Infantry Base Depot (I.B.D.) on the 5th of July 1916, William was originally destined as a draft to the 1/9th Battalion
of the Regiment however this was changed under Army Authority and he was subsequently posted to the 2nd Royal Scots
and numbered 43210. Part of a large draft received in August whilst the battalion were engaged in the Somme offensive, William
was killed in action during the raid on the night 25th/26th of August 1917 aged 21 years and is now buried in Lebucquiere
Communal Cemetery Extension. An extract of a letter published in the The Fife Free Press dated the 8th of September 1917 records
a letter sent by Second-Lieutenant Robert Anderson, also a native of Kirkcaldy, explaining the circumstances surrounding his
" Dear Mr Butterfield, - It is with great grief I have to inform
you of the death of your son, which occurred on the morning of the 25th inst., about 2 a.m. In the course of a raid he was
hit by a bomb and severeley wounded, dying about a quarter of an hour later. The sympathy of the whole Coy., in which he has
served so happily and well, is with you, and it will be a little consolation to you to know that he died doing his duty. I
was present at his funeral on the 27th at a little cemetery near here, taking place at 3.15 p.m., where I saw the last rites
paid to him. The usual cross will be erected over him bearing his name. Being a fellow townsman of Kirkcaldy, and knowing
him previously to the war, I feel the loss deeply, and personally sympathise with you. He was ever cheery, and well loved
by all his comrades. We all feel his loss very much, though it can be nothing to yours, and I wish to convey to you our sincere
sympathy. I will be pleased to give you any further information I can regarding him. - I am yours very sincerely, Robert Anderson,
|The Fife Free Press Dated The 20th Of October 1917
As heavy rain fell for the greater part of the day, it was on
the night of the 27th that the East Yorkshire's were relieved by the Scots Fusiliers, this relief being completed without
incident just after 11 p.m. Moving to Lebucquiere, detachments from both "B" and "D" Companies were however
left behind to form working parties. Heavy rain continued to fall during the morning of the 28th which was also accompanied
by a strong wind as a working party was formed to perform fatigues on the assault course range. The officers of the battalion
attended a 'Listening Apparatus' demonstration during the day whilst Temporary Lieutenant Gwyn Hobson Matthews was
made an Acting Captain whilst in command of "B" Company. There was however a departure on this date when Temporary
Lieutenant (Hon. rank of Second-Lieutenant) Henry Bowmer Fletcher resigned his commission and was struck off the strength
due to wounds received in action. The weather still persisted with heavy rain as working parties continued on the range and
at Velu Dump. Nothing of importance happened other than Temporary Brigadier-General Holmes C.M.G. coming around and
Temporary Second-Lieutenant Edward Jerome Gits attended a course. Another raid was planned for the night 29th/30, this being
conducted by the 4th Royal Fusiliers of the 9th Infantry Brigade on a position referred to as the Magpies Nest at
D.13.a.9.3., in the enemy line south of Queant. During the course of this first attempt they were forced
to withdraw due to the presence of hostile patrols and the imminent approach of dawn but the raid was repeated during the
course of the following night. Under the command of Captain Wadsworth Richard Busk, they managed to penetrate the position
but were discovered and as a consequence an engagement ensued causing numerous casualties to the enemy including an officer.
Withdrawing, the party suffered one officer, Temporary Second-Lieutenant George Howe Robinson and six Other Ranks wounded.
With the month of August
drawing to a close, it was on the 30th that the detachments of "B" and "D" Companies returned, only to
be replaced by paries of "A" and "C" Companies for work details at Louverval. The Corps Commander visited
the battalion once again as working parties resumed their duties at Velu. Temporary Second-Lieutenant George Frederick Hall,
the Battalion Bombing Officer, returned from the Casualty Clearing Station whilst promotions were at hand or confirmed, Major,
Acting Lieutenant-Colonel de la Perelle being granted the rank of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel with seniority from the 10th
of January 1917, Lieutenant (Acting Major) David Campbell Duncan Munro, M.C., D.C.M., to Temporary Major with seniority from
the 22nd of May 1917.
the Allied offensive of Third Ypres that had commenced in July now became delayed due to various factors, a move for the 3rd
Division to the north and the Ypres Salient was now imminent. The months spent in the Louverval/Lagnicourt Sector had proved
to be relatively quiet for Tom and the men of the East Yorkshire's but this was now about to change. The early days of
the month of September would witness yet further training but shortly, Operation Orders would be issued for the 3rd Division
to be withdrawn from the line.
It was on the 2nd of September that orders were received for the relief of the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division,
by the 56th (1st London) Division in the Louverval, Morchies and Lagnicourt Sections. On the following day, yet more further
detailed orders were issued, these stating that the relief was to be carried out by the 169th Infantry Brigade during the
course of the evening of the 4th of September. With the 8th East Yorkshire's in camp at Lebucquiere in Brigade Reserve,
this relief was completed by the Queen's Westminster Rifles (1/16th (County of London) Battalion) at 10 p.m. without incident.
Proceeding by route of march via Bertincourt, the East Yorkshire's now took up camp at Ytres for what was to be described
as an intensive training period. This training, in all disciplines, commenced immediately leading to a Divisional Attack Scheme
on the 8th in the Bus, Barastre and Rocquigny areas, each battalion of the 8th Infantry Brigade carrying out a practice attack
under schemes compiled by the respective Officers Commanding.
On the 13th of September, orders were received that the 3rd Division would be transferred from Fourth Corps, Third
Army, to Fifth Corps, Fifth Army respectively. As preparations for this impending move were put in motion, a conference was
held at Divisional Headquarters at 2 p.m. on the afternoon of the 15th with orders stating that the brigade was to move by
rail on the 17th, 18th and 19th September. During the evening of the 17th, Brigade Headquarters accompanied by "C"
Company of the East Yorkshire's, detailed as a Detraining Company, 8th Trench Mortar Battery, 8th Machine Gun Company
and Number 3 Section Divisional Signal Company proceeded by route march to Bapaume "B" Station where they entrained
at 7.30 p.m. Arriving at Proven, north-west of Poperinghe, Belgium, the party detrained at 6 a.m. on the morning of the 18th
and proceeded by march to Watou Area Number 2, a large billeting area located to the west of Poperinghe and south
of the Poperinghe - Watou Road. The remainder of the East Yorkshire's entrained at Bapaume East Station at 4
a.m. on the morning of the 18th arriving at Proven at 2 p.m. Marching through rain, they arrived at their billeting area east
of Gale Farm (L.13.d.3.4.) at 5.30 p.m. no doubt wet through and in need of a hot meal.
The day of the 19th dawned bright and warm as the men set about various courses
such as musketry under the Officers Commanding Companies. At 10 a.m., the Officer Commanding and all Company Commanders were
summond to a conference at Fifth Corps Headquarters, north of Poperinghe, where a model of the ground to be assaulted had
been constructed. Here, the Corps Commander, Temporary Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Arthur Fanshawe, K.C.B. addressed the
officers on forth coming operations. For the time being in Corps Reserve, the 8th Infantry Brigade were now issued orders
to proceed to the Brandhoek Number 3 Area, the East Yorkshire's departing camp at 9.10 a.m. and proceeding by
march in fine and warm weather to Hopoutre, a 'fictional' name that equates to a location south-west of Poperinghe
on the Abeele - Poperinghe Road, south of the Zwynland Brewery. As 8th Infantry Brigade Headquarters were established
at Number 16 in the Rue de Boeschepe, Poperinghe, a building that still exists today, all officers of the brigade
including the G.O.C.,