Wetherby War Memorial - The Great War 1914 - 1918

Private George Riley Precious (Wardle)

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

45718
24th (Service) Battalion (1st Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers
Died, 9th April 1917

Cemetery : Roclincourt Valley Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
Grave Reference or Panel Number : II.A.14

Son of Thomas Edward and Elizabeth Precious (nee Wardle) of St. James Street, Wetherby.
 
George Riley Wardle was born at Wetherby in 1894 to parents Thomas Edward Precious, a Railway Porter, and Elizabeth Wardle.
Recorded as George Riley Wardle by the Registrar of Births, it is apparent that George was born illegitimate, his parents not marrying until the  year of 1899. The 1901 Census records that at this juncture he was residing with his Grandmother, Hannah Wardle, a widow, in the next door property located in St. James Street.
By the year of 1911, the family is recorded in the census details as still residing in premises located in St. James Street and that Thomas Edward was now employed as a Plumbers Labourer. Two further children had also been born, Annie Elizabeth in 1904 and Margaret (Maggie) in 1909 respectively. This census also records that the couple had been married for 12 years and that four children had been born, two were still living and that two had unfortunately died. An analysis of both birth and death records reveals that three infants died by the surname of Precious and their deaths registered at Wetherby; David, born 1899, died, 1900, Annie, born 1901, died 1901, and William, born 1903 and died in 1903. Of George Riley, there is no record of him residing in the family home. One George Precious however is recorded in the census working as a Farm Servant on the farm of one William Escritt at Kirkby Grange near Tadcaster. One discrepancy though is that his age is recorded as 19 years and to compound matters further, his place of birth is virtually impossible to decipher. 
 
Enlistment, Mobilisation & Drafts
 
George Riley Precious attested for military service at Wetherby Town Hall on or about the 31st August 1914. The terms of his enlistment were that of a Short Service Obligation i.e. three years service with the Colours. The majority of men who enlisted on this date at Wetherby were destined for service with the 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, however as the men were numbered, some were allocated to different battalions of the Regiment. Possibly due to aquiring the skill of handling a horse, George was posted upon immediate mobilisation to the Depot of the West Yorkshire Regiment and allocated the serial number 11900 and subsequently posted to the Transport Section (Authors note:- Subsequent posting recorded to the latter in a newspaper article dated April 1917).
Service is now somewhat ambiguous however an analysis of surviving documents suggest a possible posting to the 8th Battalion of the Training Reserve and a subsequent renumbering. On or about the 8th December 1916, George was posted overseas and subsequently posted to the 31st I.B.D. (Infantry Base Depot/Detail) located at Etaples near Boulogne. After a short period of training in various types of warfare and the ever present marches and drill, he was posted to the 24th (Tyneside Irish) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers later that month.
It is a nigh on an impossible task searching for these men who were drafted to the battalion as the War Diary only records one or two instances of numbers received. For example, in late July 1916, the number of drafts totalled 224 men drawn from the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the West Yorkshire's and the West Riding Regiment, some only having experienced military service for a period of ten weeks. The researcher is therefore more reliant on newspaper articles as is published in an article for George contained in the Skyrack Courier dated the 27th of April 1917. Of course, these sources, are more often than not, unreliable or innaccurate but one other man would appear to confirm the date of this draft, one George Herbert Kershaw, 45546, a resident of Todmorden. Enlisting or attesting for military service in April 1916, his service is then somewhat ambiguous but I surmise his origins may lie with the West Riding Regiment. Posted overseas in December of that year, George would unfortunately be killed in action on the 9th of April 1917 leaving a widow and a seven year old daughter, Hannah.  Another soldier from Todmorden was one Joseph Ackroyd, aged 33 years and a married man. Enlisting or attesting for military service in July 1916, Joseph was then posted, according to a newspaper article published in the The Todmorden & District News dated the 25th of May 1917, to the Durham Light Infantry based at Rugeley, Staffordshire. Issued the serial number 37060, service was then conducted with the 17th (Reserve) Battalion before the latter was redesignated the 2nd Training Reserve Battalion in September. Transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers in November, the aforementioned article states that Joseph was then posted overseas on December the 8th 1916 and would be killed in action on the 24th of April 1917 near Fampoux, east of Arras.
Of those who had witnessed previous service with the West Yorkshire Regiment, there was one Private John Coates, 45719, a native of Leeds. Little information can be gleaned from military documents but on his marriage to one Florence Thompson at St. Stephen's Church, Burmantofts, on the 14th of October 1916, he is recorded on the marriage certificate as serving as a Private in the 13th (Reserve) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. Issued the serial number 31881, John enlisted at Leeds in about early December 1915. In October 1916, the 13th West Yorkshire's had been redesignated as the 8th Training Reserve Battalion based also at Rugeley. I surmise therefore that the date of his marriage was possibly due to the fact that he had prior knowledge that he was about to be posted overseas. Residing at Number 4 Windsor Terrace, Burmantofts, Leeds, John was killed in action on the 9th of April 1917 and is now buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery.
As regards closer to home, yet another young lad from Wetherby would also find himself serving in the ranks of the Northumberland Fusiliers, Private Walter Westerman, 45717. With the full name of Lonsdale Walter Westerman and born at Boston Spa, by the year of 1911 the family had taken over the Timber Mill located at what would now be the location of Wetherby Squash and Tennis Club at the bottom of Scott Lane. The only information I can glean is that Walter transferred from the 24th to the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers and was then attached to the 9th Entrenching Battalion upon the disbandment of the latter formation. Posted to the 23rd Battalion at the end of March 1918, Walter was subsequently captured and made Prisoner of War near Armentieres on the 11th of April 1918. Interned at Friedrichsfeld Camp, he would be repatriated on the 9th of November 1918.
 
I will commence the commemoration of George in the month of January 1917 but before this, I will provide an overview of the Battalion in Brigade at this juncture of the Great War. At the start of this New Year and after the grievous losses incurred during the Battle of the Somme, the Brigade had been withdrawn from action. With replacements few and far between, the 24th Battalion, as we have witnessed, did not receive any substantial drafts until later in the year of 1916. Preparations for the year of 1917 were already taking place with a planned French offensive on the Aisne that would be supported by a diversionary attack made by the British Army to the north at Arras.
 
24th (Service) Battalion, (1st Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers:- January 1917
 
Contained within the 103rd Infantry Brigade of the 34th Division, the Brigade comprised of the following units:-
 
24th (Service) Battalion, (1st Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers
25th (Service) Battalion, (2nd Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers
26th (Service) Battalion, (3rd Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers
27th (Service) Battalion, (4th Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers
 
Under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Edward William Hermon, the 34th Division had been occupying positions in the Armentieres Sector since September 1916 before moving to the Rue du Bois Sector in December. By January 1917, the battalion was occupying the line between Bois Grenier in the south, to the Chapelle d'Armentieres in the north, their first casualty of the year of 1917 being suffered on the 10th of January when Private Walter Simpson, 41636, was unfortunately killed. Born at Gosforth, Newcastle, Walter attested for military service at Leeds in December 1915 before being mobilised in about April 1916. After a period of training in England, Walter was posted overseas and initially destined as a draft to the 1st Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, this was subsequently changed at Infantry Base Depot level. Posted to the 24th Battalion, it is most likely that he numbered in a draft received by the battalion in late October. Killed in action on the 10th of January 1917, possibly by shell fire, Walter now lies buried in Brewery Orchard Cemetery, Bois-Grenier. With no next of kin identified, his medals were returned.
 
Relieved by the 11th Suffolk's of the 101st Infantry Brigade, 34th Division, the latter brigade now took over the responsibility of the sector on the nights of the 9th/10th of January, the 24th Battalion then proceeding to billets at Fort Rompu, east of Bac-St.-Maur. The next few days were spent providing Working Parties and in training in all aspects of warfare before a move was conducted by the then battalion on the 16th when they moved the short distance to Rue Marle, relieving the 21st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Scottish), 102nd Brigade, in 'Stand To' billets. Training and Working Parties continued until the 20th whereupon the 24th N.F. relieved the 26th N.F. (3rd Tyneside Irish), 103rd Brigade, in the Left Sub-Sector, la Chapelle d'Armentieres. Occupying the left of the line and with the 25th Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish) on their left, the weather was extremely cold and dull with hard frosts. With Battalion Headquarters established at Chards Farm, our artillery and trench mortars were active on the enemy's positions, this being in turn responded to however damage to the trench system in the sector was described as minimal. The real threat at this moment in time was the wind as it had been for a number of days, a favourable wind that was ideal for the enemy to mount a gas discharge.         

The Left Sub-Sector
BoisGrenier.jpg
Bois Grenier, Edition 6, 36 N.W.4. Corrected To 7/2/17

Relieved on the 24th by the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers and proceeding to billets, it was at midnight on the 26th/27th of January that the 103rd Infantry Brigade were relieved by the 10th Australian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Australian Division. The 24th Northumberland Fusiliers were therefore relieved by the 37th Battalion, Australian Infantry, in the Rue du Bois Sector.
Orders had been issued previously for the 34th Division to be withdrawn from the line, the 102nd Brigade (Tyneside Scottish) being the first to depart the sector on the 26th of January. Proceeding by both route of march and motor lorry, the brigade was to take up billets in the Fletre area, south-west of Bailleul and billeted as follows:-
 
Brigade Headquarters                  Thieushouk
20th Northumberland Fusiliers      Thieushouk
21st Northumberland Fusiliers      north of Bertenacre
22nd Northumberland Fusiliers     Godewaersvelde
23rd Northumberland Fusiliers      Godewaersvelde
102nd Machine Gun Company     Caestre
102nd L.T.M.B.                           south of Thieushouk
 
For those who had to march, the weather proved to be most vile with deep snow and a temperature that had fallen to 22 degrees of frost. For the 23rd Battalion, their journey although made by bus, was cold and uncomfortable. More bad news was to greet the battalion when they were sent to the incorrect billets located at the Mont des Cats, billets already assigned to the 10th Lincoln's of the 101st Infantry Brigade. Despite the difficulties that this presented, arrangements were made that were mutual for both battalions, the 23rd N.F. finally journeying on to Godewaersvelde during the course of the following day. On the night of the 26th/27th of January, it was the turn of the 101st Infantry Brigade who were relieved in the Right Sub-Sector by the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the New Zealand Division. Moving by both route of march and motor-lorry, Erqinghem was reached at first by march whereupon the brigage then moved to Meteren by lorry. Once again, there was confusion as to accomodation and at first no billets could be found upon their arrival but finally during the course of the day, the brigade was disposed of as follows:-
 
15th Royal Scots   Noote Boom (south of the Mont des Cats and to the south-west at le Coq-de-Paille respectively)
16th Royal Scots   In the environs of Fontaine Houck, north of Meteren
10th Lincolns        Mont des Cats
11th Suffolks         Le Roukloshille, north-east of Fletre
101st Machine Gun Company   Phincboom, north-west of Meteren
207th Royal Engineers Field Company   north of Fletre
Brigade Headquarters, 101st T.M.B. and the 104th Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. all billeted at Courte Croix, west of Meteren
 
Of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, they moved to the Berthen area, east of the Mont des Cats. Proceeding by route of march or by motor lorry, the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers marched to Armentieres on the 27th whereupon they journeyed to Meteren and then marched to Berthen and billets. A pleasant hamlet set in rolling countryside, the battalion rested as best they could, despite the intense cold weather that prevailed. Their stay at Berthen was of a short duration as on the 29th of January the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers commenced a march to new billets located at Tatinghem, west of Saint Omer. Staying in billets overnight at Wallon-Cappel, west of Hazebrouck, Tatinghem was reached on the following day, this move also being replicated by the 25th Northumberland Fusiliers. The latter battalion also set forth by route of march on the 29th, arriving in billets at Staple, north-west of Hazebrouck, where they billeted for the night. Back on the march on the following day, the battalion reached Saint Omer where they billeted in the Caserne de la Barre Infantry Barracks for the night, before marching on the morning of the 31st to Moulle, some distance to the north-west of Saint Omer.
 
February:- Raids & Movements South
 
As the remaining two battalions of the 103rd Brigade carried out a programme of training in the Berthen area, it was on the 3rd of February that the brigade, minus the 24th and 25th Battalions proceeded to Hazebrouck and billeted. On the morning of the following day the brigade proceeded by route of march to Saint Omer and billeted followed by another move on the 5th to the Tilques area, north-west of Saint Omer. With both the 24th and 25th Battalions remaining at Tatinghem and Moulle respectively, the remainder of the 103rd Brigade were billeted as follows:-
 
Brigade Headquarters   Eperlecques
26th Northumberland Fusiliers   Bayenghem (Bayenghem-les-Eperlecques)
27th Northumberland Fusiliers   Bayenghem         "                      "
103rd L.T.M.B.                         Bayenghem         "                      "
103rd M.G.C.                           Eperlecques
 
As the 103rd Brigade had departed the Berthen area, the 101st Brigade occupied the locality, carrying out a programme of training that included Brigade Days (exercises over 'flagged' trenches) and practice with contact planes. A ruse was also employed under the orders of the 2nd Army whereupon the brigade would march in the direction of Ypres each afternoon so as to give the impression to hostile aircraft that troops were being massed in the general area. (Authors note:- Of the 101st Brigade, Headquarters and both the 15th and 16th Royal Scots accompanied by their respective trench mortar and machine gun companies moved into the Berthern area. The 11th Suffolk's remained in the Meteren area minus a Raiding Party that had been assembled under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Hold Kendrick that comprised of 6 officers and 254 O/R's. This party subsequently journeyed to the Erquinghem/Bois Grenier Sector but due to the raid being cancelled, the party returned to the battalion on the 17th of February. Of the 10th Lincolns, the Grimsby "Chums," they remained in the Mont des Cats area training and practising for offensive operations).
 
The 102nd Brigade however had also assembled a Raiding Party of their own. Numbering 12 officers and 242 O/R's of the 23rd Northumberland Fusiliers, the raiders would also be assisted by 12 O/R's of the 209th Field Company, Royal Engineers. Under the command of Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Porch Porch, the objective of the raid was the enemy's front and support lines in the Rue du Bois Sector, namely the German trenches referred to as Inclement and Incision Trenches, map reference I.22.a. and to obtain identification of enemy forces holding the line. Penetrating the trench system, they were also to destroy dug-outs, machine gun and trench mortar positions and generally cause as much havoc and destruction as they could.              
 

Inclement.JPG
Extract Of Bois Grenier, Edition 6, 36 N.W.4.

The raid, which was scheduled to take place on the night of the 11th of February is well documented in the pages of the Brigade War Diary (WO9/2459/4). Entering the enemy lines at four points, the battalion captured five men of the 18 Infanterie-Regiment, 3 Bavarian Division although casualties had been heavy. 1 officer and 15 Other Ranks were posted as missing, 6 officers were wounded, including Colonel Porch who had been wounded in the wrist and arm, 7 O/R's were recorded as killed whilst a further 49 were wounded. In addition, one man of the 209th R.E. was killed and a further 2 men wounded. The exact details of the raid are admirably covered in a fascinating article published on the website of the Western Front Association if the reader would care to follow this link:-

The Lost Raiders Found: The Tyneside Scottish at Armentieres

It was on the 12th of February that orders were now received by the 34th Division from both the First and Second Armies for a march through their areas that would witness the division now joining the Third Army. As the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers continued their programme of training and the furnishing of working parties, it was on the 18th that the transfer of the 34th Division to the Third Army commenced. At 10 a.m. on the morning of the 18th, the 24th N.F. departed Tatinghem and proceeded by route of march to Wardrecques, south-east of Saint Omer, and billeted for the night along with the 25th Battalion. With Brigade Headquarters established at Renescure, the 26th N.F. took up billets for the night at la Crosse, north of Renescure, whilst the 27th Battalion billeted at Campagne, to the south-west respectively. Of the other units that joined the 103rd Brigade on the march, the 103rd L.M.T.B., 103rd M.G.C., 103rd Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. and the 34th Divisional Train, Army Service Corps, all billeted at Renescure.
 
Turning to the 101st Infantry Brigade, it was on the 19th of February that they moved to billets in the Hazebrouck - Morbecque area. Marching a distance of about 10 miles, the day was recorded as being misty but fine, Temporary Second-Lieutenant Lionel John Wallis of the 10th Lincoln's (Attached Brigade Staff), O.C. Billeting Arrangements, ensuring that all billets were allocated and the units settled. The 102nd Brigade also ventured forth on the 19th, the brigade moving to the Saint Hilaire area. This Brigade War Diary furnishes more details as to exact billeting locations; Brigade Headquarters, Signal Section and the 20th Northumberland Fusiliers, Saint Hilaire, 21st Northumberland Fusiliers, to the east at Bourecq, 22nd Northumberland Fusiliers at Fontes to the north, and the 23rd Northumberland Fusiliers at Norrent-Fontes. It is noted in the Brigade War Diary that the Chateau at Norrent-Fontes was reserved for the Divisional Headquarters! All other constituent units were either billeted at Mazinghem or Molinghem respectively.
 
The march of the 34th Division continued, the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers commencing their march to yet more 'new' billets at 8.20. a.m. on the morning of the 19th. The destination for George and the men of the battalion was Thiennes, located on the western edge of the Foret de Nieppe. The 25th Battalion were to be billeted a short distance away at Boeseghem whilst the 26th Battalion were allocated billets at Wittes, to the north of Aire. The 27th Battalion were located at le Ciseaux to the north of Boeseghem whilst at the latter were also billeted 103rd Brigade Headquarters, 103rd L.T.M.B., 103rd Field Ambulance and the 34th Divisional Train, A.S.C.
 
The march southwards into the Third Army area continued when on the 20th, 101st Brigade marched from their billeting area about Hazebrouck - Morbecque to the Saint Hilaire - Bourecq area. Of the units, the 10th Lincoln's billeted at Norrent-Fontes, the 15th Royal Scots, Bourecq, 16th Royal Scots, Saint Hilaire, and the 11th Suffolk's to the south at Lieres. The 102nd Brigade were also on the march again to the la Thieuloye, north-east of Saint Pol. Brigade Headquarters along with 22nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 102nd M.G.C. and Number 3 Company of the Divisional Train established billets for the night at la Thieuloye whilst the 20th Northumberland Fusiliers billeted between Gricourt and Bours, south of Pernes. Both the 21st and the 23rd Northumberland Fusiliers billeted at Dieval, north of la Thieuloye, whilst the 102nd L.T.M.B. took up billets at Noyelles, west of Gricourt. 208th Field Company, R.E., less one section detached to 17th Corps for work at Hermaville, west of Arras, billeted at Monneville, and the 102nd Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. at Marest, just to the south of Pernes.
 
For the men of the 103rd Brigade, the constant change of scenery and the rural backwaters of northern France must, as to men in all the brigades, been a stark contrast to the towns and villages ravaged by the war. It was an early start for the 24th N.F. when at 7.30 a.m. the men donned their equipment and made ready for another long march. Commencing their march from the southern bank of the Laquette River at 9.10 a.m. on the morning of the 20th, the battalion proceeded to march southwards until Rely, west of Saint Hilaire, was reached, whereupon the men billeted for the night. With the remainder of the brigade starting their march at various times and from various points, the 103rd Brigade were billeted as follows; Brigade Headquarters, Signal Section, 103rd L.T.M.B., 103rd Field Ambulance and Number 4 Company, Divisional Train at Westrehem, to the south-west of Rely, 25th Northumberland Fusiliers, Nedonchelle, south of Westrehem, 26th Northumberland Fusiliers, Fontaine-les-Hermans, north-west of Nedonchelle, 27th Northumberland Fusiliers, Ligny-lez-Aire, north of Westrehem, and the 103rd Machine Gun Company at Rely.
 
On the 21st of February, the 101st Brigade took to the march once again and headed southwards.Thankfully, the day was dry as Brigade Headquarters were then established la Thieuloye, north-east of Saint Pol, along with the 15th Royal Scots and the 101st T.M.B., the 16th Royal Scots and the 101st M.G.C. at Dieval to the north-east, the 10th Lincoln's at Bours, south of Pernes, whilst the 11th Suffolk's billeted at Dieval. For the G.O.C. and a number of his Staff, they were to be billeted at the palatial Hermaville Chateau, west of Arras.
 
The 102nd Brigade also returned to the march. Of the 20th Northumberland Fusiliers, they were met by Guides from the 23rd Battalion (4th Tyneside Scottish), the battalion moving 'independently' to billets located at Magnicourt-en-Comte, south-east of la Thieuloye. The 23rd Northumberland Fusiliers in turn moved to billets at Chelers, south of Magnicourt, but were not impressed by either the accommodation or the local populace, the latter it would almost appear making their 'stay' as uncomfortable as possible yet obtaining as much as they could from those billeted on them. Brigade Headquarters were established just to the west of Magnicourt whilst the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers billeted at Villers-Brulin, south-west of Bethonsart. The 22nd Northumberland Fusiliers would be billeted in the centre of Bethonsart whilst both the 102nd M.G.C. and the 102nd L.T.M.B. would be accommodated at Guestreville, north-west of Villers-Brulin. The 208th Field Company, R.E., minus the detachment at Hermaville, billeted at Herlin-le-Vert, north-east of Chelers, the 102nd Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. at Chelers whilst Number 3 Company of the Divisional Train billeted at le Tirlet, north of Guestreville.
 
The 103rd Brigade, as per the other brigades of the division, also shouldered packs and rifles. Brigade Staff proceeded from Nedonchelle at 8.30 a.m. on the morning of the 21st and after journeying southwards, took up billets at Orlencourt, east of St. Pol. Also billeted in the village were the Brigade Headquarters Details and Signal Staff, the 103rd L.T.M.B., 103rd Field Ambulance and the Number 4 Company Divisional Train. The 25th Northumberland Fusiliers also billeted in the Orlencourt/Monchy-Breton area, possibly due to, I surmise, overcrowding, as the 26th N.F. were billeted also at Monchy-Breton. The 27th Northumberland Fusiliers had proceeded by route of march to Ostreville whilst the 24th N.F. after their move southwards billeted at Valhuon, some distance to the north of the brigade. The 103rd M.G.C. were also separated from the main body of the brigade, they being billeted at Antin, to the south of Valhuon. Now encompassed in the 17th Corps of the Third Army, all units were to remain in this area for a period of twenty-four hours however both the 103rd M.G.C. and the 24th Northumberland Fusiliers were ordered to move to Chelers on the morning of the 22nd of February. Met by Temporary Lieutenant Leslie Brownsword Proctor of the 26th Northumberland Fusiliers, the Brigade Billeting Officer, the village church being the rendezvous point, as the men of these two units then settled into billets.
 
After the never ending series of route marches, the majority of the men of the division rested. For the 102nd Brigade however, orders were now received for Brigade Headquarters to proceed to Ecoivres and to billet in the 18th Century Chateau. Both the 21st and 22nd Northumberland Fusiliers also took to the march, taking up billets in 'new' Nissen Huts erected at Ecoivres, the 21st Battalion sending out a party under the command of Temporary Major Richard Henry Thorburn Jobson and numbering 8 officers and 8 N.C.O.'s to reconnoitre the trenches. (Authors note: Brigade Headquarters Orders stipulated the Second-in Commands of both battalions and two officers and two N.C.O.'s per company). Both the 102nd M.G.C. and the 102nd L.M.T.B. would join the battalions at Ecoivres, the remainder of the brigade, orders pending, waiting to move from their billeting area in the environs of Villers-Brulin. It is at this juncture that we will follow both the 21st and 22nd Battalions as they entered the line on the 24th of February. The sector of the line they were about to take over was located to the east and south-east of the village of Roclincourt, north of Arras.
 
Roclincourt
 
It was on the 23rd of February that the 21st Northumberland Fusiliers relieved the 9th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), of the 27th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division in Arras, who, were in Divisional Reserve. On the following morning they then relieved the 11th Royal Scots, also of the 27th Brigade, in the Right Sub-Sector, of the Centre Sector, Arras. With 102nd Brigade Headquarters established at the Maltery, St. Catherine, Arras, it was during the course of the day that the 21st N.F. suffered four casualties, these men being the victims of enemy trench mortar fire which was a predominant feature of this particular part of the line. Another feature of the line was the abundance of mine craters stretching along the length of the line. On the battalions right flank was Claude Crater, blown by the Germans in June 1916, and in roughly about their centre was Kate Crater, also detonated in early 1916.     
 
                  

Right Sub-Sector
stpancras.JPG
Extract Of Arras, Edition 8A, 51B, N.W.3. Trenches Corrected To 4/3/17