73rd Canadian Infantry.“C” Company, No. 11 Platoon
Died of wounds 25 November 1916.
Alfred Baker was born on 9 July 1893 in London within the boroughs of Kensington or Chelsea. His parents are unknown but he did have a younger brother called William.
On the 1901 census he is resident in Beechholme but his age is given as eleven which is incorrect. His admission date to the school is unknown.
On the 1911 census of Canada taken on 12 June, Alfred is living in Granby Township, Quebec. He is eighteen and a naturalised Canadian and he is employed as a labourer on a farm and is with the Streeter family. It was his second placement and he had been with this family since 1910. His brother is separated from him.
Alfred enlisted on 25 February 1916. His next of kin is given as Mrs Elizabeth Fayers of Granby, and she is described as being his foster mother. His apparent age is given as 22 years and 7 months.
From his attestation papers Alfred is described as being 5 feet 10 ½ inches tall and having brown hair and blue eyes and being fair complexioned.
The Fayers family arrived from England in 1907 and Alfred’s connection with them seems to begin after the 1911 census. His brother William who also served, sent all his army pay to Elizabeth Sayers and describes her as being his foster mother too. Elizabeth’s husband and son John also enlisted and indeed Alfred and John enlisted together. Eva Fayers, the youngest daughter was the beneficiary of Alfred’s will.
The 73rd Canadian Infantry were known as the Royal Highlanders of Canada. The first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force which sailed on 3rd October 1914 comprised the 1st to 17th battalions plus Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. By the end of the war there would be 260 numbered battalions in existence although not all were fighting battalions.
Alfred, as part of the 73rd Canadians embarked for France on the HMS Copenhagen on 11 August 1916 and the ship arrived at Le Havre on 13 August. There followed a two day rest period at a camp in Le Havre.
On 15 August the unit journeyed through France finally detraining at Poperinghe on Belgium soil. The battalion then marched to the frontline on 19 August 1916. On 1 September, the 73rd Canadian Infantry battalion became attached to the 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the 6th Wiltshire regiments for instruction in trench fighting at Kemmel.Throughout the month of September 1916 they were in and out of the front line in and around Kemmel.
The beginning of October sees them training at Hellebroucq in readiness for an attack on the Somme. Special attention was paid to bombing and musketry training. On 3 October they marched from Hellebroucq to Arques where they entrained for the Somme. A period of more training followed in October in Warloy Baillon.
The 73rd Canadian Infantry then took over the front line on 30 October until 2/3 November. They were then in and out of the line until 10 November when they proceeded to camp 400 yards south of Pozieres preparatory to going into the trenches. On 11 November they proceeded into the trenches and for the next day were involved in the consolidation of the front line.
“C” Company had largely been held in reserve up until 20 November.
“ Orders received for the battalion to stand in readiness to attack for the purpose of capturing a portion of DESIRE TRENCH held by Germans. C Company moved forward under Lieutenant Murphy from SUGAR TRENCH & REGINA TRENCH between A & D Companies. A &C Coys ordered to make this attack. Attack ordered for the 22nd at dusk. 80 men from each company.
“ Sniping by the Germans becoming more active. Lieutenant Redman severely wounded by shell fire. The planned attack was cancelled owing to certain trenches not being completed in sufficient time for this battalion to make an attack.”
“ Battalion relieved in the trenches and returned to huts in camp. Relief completed at 4 am.”
“ Battalion rested in huts south of Pozieres.”
From the war diary there was nothing much occurring on 25 November 1916 .
It lists casualties from this tour as :- 6 Officers wounded
8 Other Ranks killed
34 Other Ranks wounded.
The Canadian service records vary from the British ones as in some cases a “ Circumstance of Death” form is issued in the case of a soldier who dies from wounds. This is much more detailed than anything recorded in the British service records.
With the help of the war diary it has been possible to narrow down when Alfred was actually wounded. Because his company was in reserve mostly until 21/22 November this would appear to be the likely date.
GRAVE REF :- ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY. XX.C.3A.
Eva Fayers was contacted by the Canadian War Graves Register in 1921 regarding Alfred’s burial place. William had survived the war (along with the Fayers men) and he was awarded the Military Medal.
Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton
A special thanks to Dr. John Dickenson, retired Reader in Geography, University of Liverpool for the invaluable help provided.
SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Library and Archives Canada,
War Diary courtesy of Library and Archives Canada File No. 451, A Brief History of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Photo of Alfred Baker courtesy of Library & Archives Canada
Last updated 15 Feb 2017
SOURCES:- Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Find My Past,
The Long ,Long Trail part of the Great War Forum,
Last updated:23 Feb 2017
SOURCES :- Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Find My Past,
The Long, Long Trail part of the Great War Forum,
SOURCES:- Ancestry.co.uk, Find My Past,
History of the 16th,The Queen’s Light Dragoon’s (Lancers) 1912-1925 by Colonel Henry Graham (Book out of CopyRight)
Last updated: 23 Feb 2017
BATCHELOR Arthur (MM)
1st/7th Middlesex Regiment
Killed in Action 16 September 1916
Arthur Batchelor's date of birth was the 8th of June 1888 and he was baptized on 11 July 1888 at the parish church of St Augustine Paddington. He was the son of Arthur and Emma nee Williams. Ten children were born to this couple, although only seven survived. Arthur senior was employed as a painter and glazier. The later baptismal records show the family living at Sandsfield Street in Queens Park. The family were hard to identify and were eventually found by these London Christening Records.
Arthur senior was born and bred in Paddington and his wife came from Brighton. Prior to young Arthur’s birth the parents with three older siblings were living in Paddington and all seemed to be going well as Arthur is described as a master painter. None of the family can be found on the 1891 census.
Arthur’s father died in 1892 at the age of 41 in tragic circumstances. A report from Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper dated 31 July 1897 and in the section “ Saturday’s Law and Police” follows :-
" Dr Danford Thomas held an inquest at Paddington on the body of Arthur Batchelor aged 41, a glazier of 96, Sandsfield Street, Queen’s Park. He and his wife retired to rest early on the morning of the 12th inst., he placing a spirit lamp on a sideboard near the bed. During a restless sleep he knocked over the lamp and the bedding was set alight. He was fatally burnt, his wife having a very narrow escape of her life. Removed to St Mary’s Hospital he died there on Thursday from shock consequent of the injuries. But for the activity of the police, and the prompt attendance of engineer Williams and his men from the North Kensington station of the L.C.C. Fire Brigade, a serious loss of life would have taken place. The jury, recognising the efficiency of the police and fire brigade, returned a verdict of Accidental Death."
Arthur would have been about three years old at the time. There was no mention of any children being present at the time of the fire and it is likely therefore that the younger children were being cared for by one of the older siblings.
Arthur was admitted to Beechholme on the 21st of September 1894 with his brother James. Shortly after the 1901 census was taken the boys were transferred to the Paddington Board of Guardians. His mother is alive and living in Paddington and is employed as a maternity nurse. One daughter is living with her. The older girls are making their own way in life. Emma is described as a widow. In 1911 Arthur is living as a boarder at 2 Park Villas, Bryon Road, Wealdstone. He is aged 22 and employed as a decorator.
Arthur enlisted at Willesden, his military number has T.F in front of it which shows he was part of the Territorial Force. His date of entry from his medal index card was 12 March 1915. Arthur also has service records which detail the names of all his siblings and also shows that his younger brother James also served, being in the 10thMiddlesex regiment.
Unfortunately some of the writing is very faded and the page that describes Arthur’s build etc is illegible. The service records state that he was awarded the Military Medal but unfortunately gives no clue as to the reason it was awarded. It also states that his mother was now deceased and Arthur’s next of kin is given as Mr G.Clarke of 2, Park Villas, Wealdstone who was Arthur’s guardian and the man who owned the house where Arthur was living in 1911. His brother James received Arthur’s entitlement of medals. Arthur’s personal effects however were sent to a friend, a local draper from Wealdstone, and he would inherit the sum of £255 15s 10d left by the terms of Arthur’s will.
The 1st/7th Middlesex were in Hornsey in 1914 and then moved on mobilisation to the Isle of Grain, the easternmost point in the district of Medway, Kent . (Today no longer an island) In September 1914 they moved to Gibraltar and then returned to Barnet, England in February 1915. They landed at Le Havre on 13 March 1915 and two days later were attached to the 23rd Brigade in the 8th Division. Between 23 June and 2 August 1915 they amalgamated with the 1st/8th battalion. On 8th February 1916 they transferred to the 167th brigade in the 56th (London) division.
In 1915 the 7th Middlesex took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, Battle of Aubers, the action of Bois Grenier (a diversionary attack coinciding with the Battle of Loos).
In 1916 they took part in the diversionary attack at Gommecourt, Battle of Ginchy and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
The Battle of Flers-Courcelette was a battle within the Somme offensive and lasted from 15 to 22 September 1916. The battle is notable for the introduction of the tank.The battle began with the objective of cutting a hole in the German line by using massed artillery and infantry attacks. This hole would then be exploited by the use of cavalry. This was the 3rd and final general offensive mounted by the british during the Battle of the Somme.
An entry from the war diary follows :-
14th September 1916 ANGLEWOOD
“ The battalion spent the day resting, moving forward to its position of assembly by 12 midnight. 2 Companies A and C in the trench running diagonally through LEUZE WOOD. 2 Companies D and B in a trench behind and parallel to it “
15th Sept, LEUZE WOOD
“ At 6.20 am the 1st London regiment attacked the German trench running through BOULEAUX WOOD but communications broke down and it was difficult to ascertain what had happened. At 8.20 am the leading lines of the battalion moved forward to pass the London’s and clear the wood, but were brought to a standstill by heavy rifle fire from their front and machine gun fire from their right flank. The reserve Companies were then pushed in but were unable to make any progress, the whole attack being brought to a standstill. Losses being very heavy especially amongst officers.
The same afternoon at 1pm the 8th Middlesex arrived and moved to the attack down the NW side of BOULEAUX WOOD but afterwards received orders to stand fast. In the evening the battalion took over the old front line trench running through BOULEAUX WOOD and reorganized. “
“ The battalion was relieved in the trenches by the 8th Middlesex and withdrew to the line FALFEMONT FARM-WEDGE WOOD. Headquarters at ANGLEWOOD. The battalion was here in brigade reserve”
It would appear from the above entries that Arthur was killed on the 15th of September rather than the 16th as stated on the Commonwealth War Grave citation.
Here follows the military medal award as given in the war diary.
GRAVE REF :- THIEPVAL MEMORIAL PIER & FACE 12D & 13B
NB Arthur’s brother survived the war and was discharged in 1917 for being medically unfit. He had suffered a gun shot wound to the right thigh which had fractured his femur. He was awarded a silver war badge.
SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long,Long Trail, Forces War Records
Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper courtesy of Find My Past, 1st/7th Middlesex War Diary courtesy of National Archives WO/95/2950
Last updated:23 Feb 2017
2nd EAST LANCS.
MACHINE GUN CORPS
FORMERLY KINGS OWN YORKSHIE LIGHT INFANTRY
Edward Beasley was actually christened Edwin on November the 28th 1886 at St Luke, Chelsea having been born on the 27th of December 1885, but was later always known as Edward. He was the son of Edwin (also sometimes called Edward) and Rosetta nee Brake. The family were living at 28 Manor Gardens at this time. Edward’s father was employed as a labourer but had previously been employed as an iron moulder. This was a second marriage for him and he was some sixteen years older than his wife.
When the 1891 census was taken the family were still living at the same address which was a shared accommodation with one other family. Another child, Emma, had been born and the family were facing financial problems as Edward’s father was out of work and his mother was working as a charwoman. His father died in the June quarter of 1891 and workhouse records show that he had been admitted to the Britten Street workhouse infirmary.
Young Edward was admitted to Beechholme on the 2nd of May 1894 via the workhouse and infirmary. Nothing further is known about his mother or sister.
He was discharged to service on the 30th of July 1900 but the type of service is unspecified. By the 1901 census Edward is employed as an apprentice shoemaker in Croydon.
The next piece of information regarding Edward is his marriage. The marriage certificate states that he married on the 27th of October in 1908 at Doncaster registry office, Yorkshire. He was aged twenty-two and his wife was Mary Hudson. Edward’s occupation was given as bootmaker and his father is given as Edward Beasley (deceased) iron moulder. His address was given as 66, Somerset Road, Doncaster.
When the 1911 census was taken Edward was working as a coal miner, hewer. We know it is the correct person because his place of birth is given as Chelsea. The couple had a young son. The address was 238, Varley Street, South Elmsall.
Edward enlisted on the 25th of May 1915 into the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. This differs from the information on the panel from Beechholme School which gives his regiment as the East Lancashires.
On enlistment his occupation was given as miner and his next of kin his wife Mary.
He quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to corporal at the beginning of March 1916. He was then transferred to the 5th Machine Gun Corps, on the 9th of May 1916 and promoted to sergeant. The service records also notes that he was part of “A” Company.
He went overseas as part of the British Expeditionary Force on the 5th of July 1916.
He was wounded on the 28th of May 1918 and the war diary states that “A” Coy, 5th Machine Gun Corps were at Bois de Nieppe on La Bassee Canal from the beginning of May.
The entry for 28th May 1918 states :-
“ 1 O.R. killed, 2 O.R. wounded.
The service records state that Edward was taken to the 51st Casualty Clearing Station where a telegram was despatched the following day notifying his next of kin that he was dangerously ill with a gunshot wound to the back and shoulder.
Further telegrams were sent in the same vein to his wife between the 31st of May 1918 and the 4th of June. There was a slight improvement in his condition on the 7th of June and he was transferred to the 35th General Hospital Calais and his wife again was notified that he remained dangerously ill.
On the 24th of June the hospital notified his wife that he remained dangerously ill but could be visited. On the 29th of June his condition was improved and on the 10th of August 1918 he was transferred back to England to the 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester.
The service records record him as being on furlough from 10/9/18- 19/9/18.
He was then transferred to the reserve on the 7th of October 1918 and discharged on the 14th of December being surplus to military requirements being no longer fit. He was recommended a return to mining, his employer being Bullcroft Colliery, Doncaster. He was described as being sober, reliable and intelligent.
His intended address was 102, Stone Close Avenue, Doncaster.
He was awarded the British and Victory medals and also a silver war badge which denoted that he had been injured and could no longer serve.
Edward’s Silver War Badge Certificate.
Edward and Mary had eight children. His youngest child’s birth entry lists Edward’s occupation as collier in 1921.
It is likely that he died in the last quarter of 1939 in the Doncaster registration district.
SOURCES:- Ancestry Find My Past, War Diary- WO95/1539, Marriage Certificate- Ref- MXG 998757, Silver War Badge certificate courtesy of Ancestry.
First published: 27 Feb 2017-
SOURCES :- Ancestry.co.uk, 'Find My Past,
The London Gazette,
KOYLI in the Great War by R.C. Bond,
Last updated: 23 Feb 2017
ALBERT HILL or ALBERT BOURNE HILL or ALBERT BOURNE also BORN (SURNAME IS BOURNE ON MEMORIAL)
1st CANADIAN INFANTRY
KILLED IN ACTION 15/6/15 AGE 23.
According to the CWGC website, Albert was the son of George Hill and the late Sophia Bourne however our research suggests that this is not quite correct.
Albert George Hill was born on the 21st of April 1894. This date is confirmed both by his christening record and his army attestation form.
He was the son of Albert Ernest Hill and Susannah Mary Ann Bourne. The couple were unmarried at the time of his birth.
Albert was baptized on the 7th of November 1897 at the same time as a younger sister Rose. Albert senior was employed as a porter and the family were living in Westminster at this time. The couple had at least four children together but only Albert and a younger sister Violet would survive.
When the 1901 census was taken Albert, under the surname Hill, and his family were living at 9, Bolton Road, Notting Hill. Charles Booth described this road thus “ A street of tenement houses with dirty windows. Ragged children. Some Jewish tailors. One of the roughest streets”.
Young Albert was admitted to the workhouse several times between August 1904 and April 1905, each time being collected by his mother. It is likely that she was unwell at this time as she died in 1905 at the age of thirty two.
Albert was admitted to Beechholme on the 9th of February 1906. In 1907 he was sent out to Canada as a “Home Child” He travelled on the “Victorian” from the port of Liverpool being part of the Louisa Birt Organisation under the surname Bourne. He was aged thirteen and arrived in Canada on the seventeenth of May 1907. His sister Violet would follow the same route in 1912. By this time their father was living in a Salvation Army shelter in Lisson Street.
The Canadian census shows Albert living in Ascot, Quebec. This time the surname is spelt Born. He is working as a labourer on a farm.
His army attestation papers show that Albert enlisted on the 24th of September 1914 at Vailcartier under the surname Bourne Hill. His occupation was given as carpenter and he states that he had a relative living in Sutton Junction, Quebec.He was described as being five feet eight inches in height with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had four vaccination marks on his arm and a mole on the upper angle of the sternum.
The 1st Canadian Infantry sailed on the 25th of September 1914 and arrived at Devonport on the 18th of October the same year. Once there they were involved in training at Bustard Camp on Salisbury Plain. On the 7th of February 1915 the battalion left the camp for Avonmouth departing on the 8th aboard the transport ship Architect arriving at St. Nazaire at midnight on the 11th/12th of February.
On the 15th of February the battalion entrained to Strazelle and marched to Merris where they went into billets. There followed instruction in the use of hand grenades, bombs and trench fighting. After the men had been supplied with iron rations they marched to Armentieres. Following a prolonged spell in the trenches through February and March in the Armentieres/Merris/Fleurbaix area a period of further training followed. Route marches training and cleaning of billets was the order of the day.
The Division moved to the Ypres Salient in April 1915 and faced its first real test during the defence of St Julien beginning on the 22nd of April. The Canadian Division withstood a German attack aided for the first time on the western front by the use of poison gas. They finally retired to secondary positions on the 26th of April where they held on until the 4th of May. Two weeks later the division was in action at Festubert aiding in a diversionary offensive by the British. The Canadians suffered 2,204 casualties for gains of only six hundred yards. Another futile attack was launched at Givenchy-en-Gohelle in June 1915.
The battalion was billeted in Givenchy for the first few days of June where they rested.
An extract from the war diary follows :-
June 10th 1915 “ Marched to Croix de Fer toward Preol and went into billets at Preol”
June 13th 6pm. “ Ross Rifles exchanged for Lee Enfield”
June 14th. “Training”
June 15th am. Preol. “ Battalion preparing for action”
June 15th 1.30 pm. “Battalion marched via north side of Canal to front trenches east of Givenchy and took up positions preparatory to advance against enemy’s trench”
June 15th 3pm. Givenchy. “ Battalion in position”
June 15th 6pm. “ Advance against German front line began. Forward company reached German second line trench but owing to exposure of flanks were obliged to fall back before a violent counter attack to original front line British trench. This movement was completed by 9.30 pm. Battalion remained in front line trench (British).”
June 16th 1.00 am Givenchy. “ Battalion was withdrawn to Oxford Terrace from Hatfield Road eastward and employed in carrying out wounded and burying the dead”
There are no casualty figures for other ranks in the war diary.
The Canadian “Circumstances of Death” form states “ Previously reported missing, now for official purposes presumed dead on or since 15th June 1915.”
Next of kin Miss Violet Hill, 660, Lansdowne Avenue, Westmount. P.O.
GRAVE REF :- VIMY MEMORIAL
SOURCES:- Ancestry,Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Canadian Library and Archives, War diary available online, Wikepedia.
A special thanks to Dr. John Dickenson, retired reader in Geography, University of Liverpool, for the invaluable help provided.
First published: 26 Feb 2017
BRAZEAR William John
SURVIVED (although initially reported missing in Action)
William John Brazear was born on the 31st of December 1885 in Kensington. He was the son of Thomas and Joanna nee Sullivan. Thomas was employed as a Carman and Joanna as a laundress and ironer. William had four siblings.
In 1891 the family are living at 20, Manchester Street, Kensington and William is a scholar.
In 1894 his father dies and a sibling was born around this time. William was admitted to Beechholme on the 27th of September 1895. His mother Joanna was given as his next of kin.
Poor Law records show that William was discharged from the school on the 7th of August 1900. The type of service isn't specified.
On the 1901 census William is living with his mother at 13, Hurstway Street and is employed as a grocer's assistant.
He married Florence Emma Wicks in 1908 in the Fulham Registration District and in 1911 they are living at 68, John Street, Resolven, Glamorganshire in Wales. He is described as being a coal miner and hewer. The couple have two young children. A further two children have been born by 1914.
From evidence obtained from William’s Pension Records he joined the 4th Middlesex Regiment, Private L/9789 in 1904. His occupation is a baker and he is 19 years and 4 months. William served in the South African Campaign from 9 August 1905 until 4 December 1906.
He was transferred to the Army Reserve and was posted with the British Expeditionary Force on 5 August 1914. He was declared missing in action on 23 August 1914 and notified as being a Prisoner of War on 25 August that same year. William was taken prisoner on the day of the first British contact in the war and at the Battle of Mons. The 4th Middlesex were stationed to the right of the Royal Fusiliers and were defending Nimy and Ghlin bridges. The 4th Middlesex alone suffered losses of fifteen officers and 353 other ranks killed or injured.
William was repatriated on 30 December 1918 being held virtually for the duration of the war. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
He went on to serve in the 2ndWorld War.
The 1939 register records William living at 6, Knightsbridge Gardens, Romford with his wife and two children. His occupation was given as a civil servant wtih Hm. Patents Office, Board of Trade.
William died on 30 January 1962 in Dagenham of heart failure. The death certificate was found within William’s World War One Pension Records. His occupation is given as retired clerical officer and army pensioner. The informant on the death certificate is William’s son.
SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Family Tree of Polly Mahoney on Ancestry, The Long, Long Trail
Last updated 15 Feb 2017
SOURCES :- Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ancestry.co.uk, Find My Past,
Unit History of the 1st Manchester Regiment
Last updated 15 Feb 2017
BUNCE Robert Frederick
8th KINGS OWN YORKSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
LANCE CORPORAL 10326
KILLED IN ACTION 7th OF JUNE 1917 AGE 21.
Robert Frederick Bunce was born on the 11th of March 1896 at 91 Kilburn Park Road in Paddington. His parents were John Bunce, (his correct name was Owen John, but he was mostly known as John) and Harriet Charlotte nee White. Robert’s father was employed as a carman and he was originally from Oxfordshire. Robert was the fourth child of seven or eight born to this couple. At least one child had died in infancy.Kilburn Park Road was very poor and run down. Charles Booth, the great Victorian philanthropist and social researcher described it thus “ the worst bit of the sub division, I don’t know how they get their living. There is a mess of paper, bread, orange peel. Some coster’s barrows. Quarrelsome tousle-haired women.”
On the 1901 census the family were living at 120, Southam Street, Kensington. This accommodation was shared with three other families. Charles Booth’s Poverty Map ascribes most of this road the colour dark blue. All roads on his map were colour coded and the dark blue indicated families that were very poor, with chronic want. On this census, Robert’s name is written on the census return by the enumerator as Rabie or Babie, but this should probably read Robbie. He is aged five. None of the children are listed as attending school. Also on the form is a George Poulton, a horsekeeper. He is described as being single and 29 years old. Robert’s father by this time was 38 and his mother was 33.
Robert was admitted to Beechholme on the 19th of December 1902, his father John being in the workhouse. Robert's mother Harriet was living at 120, Southam Street at this time. Robert had several admissions and discharges each time being collected by his father before being finally readmitted on the 4th of November 1904.
On the 1911 census Robert’s mother is living in Percy Street with a man described as her husband - George Bunce, but a younger man with a different occupation. I believe this is the George Poulton described in the previous census. The couple do eventually marry in 1913 but were unable to do so legally before then as Robert’s father was still alive but incarcerated in the Oxfordshire workhouse in Thame. He died in the March of that year and the couple married in the December.
Robert Bunce enlisted into the 8th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Hounslow and his medal index card shows that his qualifying date was the 15th of January 1915. No service records survive for him.
The 8th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were a service battalion and part of Kitchener’s Third New Army. They were formed at Pontefract in September 1914 and came under command of the 70th Brigade in the 23rd Division. They moved to Frensham and then to Aldershot in December 1914. From there they moved to Hythe and then to Bordon in May, and finally landed at Boulogne in August 1915. In October 1915 they transferred to the 8th Division to allow the inexperienced troops to learn from those who had battle experience, transferring back to their original division in June 1916.
The 23rd Division were at Bomy beginning a period of intensive training for the Battle of the Somme. They were in action in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy.
The Battle of Messines took place between the 7th and the 14th of June 1917. On the 7th of June 1917 the British Commander in Chief General Haig launched the first phase of an offensive which had the objective to break out of the Ypres Salient and also to relieve the pressure on the weakened French Army after the Nivelle Offensive. The launch of the infantry assault was preceded by the explosion of 19 huge mines under the German front line.
The above map and the following extract are taken from the battalion war diary of the 8th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
“ 2nd Army Offensive began by explosion of mines at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar.”
1 General Plan of Operations.
“ The 70th Infantry Brigade having been allotted the position of left pivot of the whole attack. The main purpose of the assault in this sector was to seize and hold a line which running back into our own permanent trench system at the high ground about I.30.b.4.6 should constitute a firm defensive flank to cover the advance further south. The nature of the operation was therefore essentially a “left form” from a position facing S.E. to a final position facing N.E. and E.
2 The Frontage of the Brigade Attack.
“ This was from I.30.b.4.6 to the right of CANADA at about I.30 a 4.6. The immediate objective being the IMAGE TRENCH and part of ILLUSIVE TRENCH in the enemy front line and the final objective was IMAGE CRESCENT from about 1.3b 1.4 to where it joins IMAGE SUPPORT at about I 30 d 3 1/2 9 ½ and thence to ILLUSIVE TRENCH at I 30 b 2.2.
3 Stages of the Advance.
The advance to the final objective was divided into two stages. The first commencing at Zero Hour and having for its purpose the capture of IMMEDIATE AVENUE and IMAGE RESERVE. The second stage was timed to commence at Zero Hour plus 3 hours 40 minutes- the objective being IMAGE CRESCENT.
The first objective was allotted to the 9th btn the York and Lancaster regiment and the 11th Sherwood Forresters. The second objective to the 8th York and Lancaster regiment and the 8th btn the K.O. Yorkshire L.I. The battalion objective was the left half of the second objective from about I 36 b 55 85 north to the junction with IMAGE RESOLVE at I 30 d 2.5.5.
4 Assembly Positions.
Assembly position for the battalion was the captured enemy trench IMAGE RESERVE. The battalion was timed to move to this position at zero plus 2 hours.”
Total casualties for Other Ranks for 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th of June was 250.
GRAVE REF :-Ypres Menin Gate Memorial Panel 47.
Robert's sister Lily was his sole legatee.
Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton
SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, The Long Long Trail, Commonwealth War Graves Commisssion, Birth Certificate- BXCG 177522
War Diary of the 8th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry- WO95/2187/
Last updated: 23 Feb 2017
To date we have been unable to identify this man.
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