The mud in the battle of the Somme 1916

- Acting Bombardier George Anderson
- Lance Corporal Harry Whittaker Anderson
- Private Edward Purnell
- Rifleman Richard Johnson Purnell
- Private Ernest William Dove
- Private Christopher Matthew Nightingale - Fireman Albert Nightingale
- Corporal Frank Newton
- Private John Dutchman
- Sergeant Arthur Robinson
- Rifleman Robert Cooke Atknison
- Rifleman Henry Bannister
- Private Frank Morritt Brown
- Private Edgar Manuel Hill

By the beginning of October 1916 heavy and persistent rain had turned the Somme battlefield into a quagmire of flooded shell craters and trenches thigh deep with an evil smelling mixture of rain water, rotting bodies, and mud. Everyone and everything was plastered in mud, every movement an effort of will to drag one’s feet through the ooze. John Masefield had visited the Somme during the month and had subsequently recorded his impressions;

‘I never saw such mud, or such a sight in all my days. Other places are bad and full of death, but this was deep in mud as well, a kind of chaos of deep running holes & broken ground & filthy chasms, and pools & stands & marshes of iron coloured water, & yellow snow & bedevilment. Old rags of wet uniforms were everywhere, & bones & legs & feet & heads were sticking out of the ground’.

The hardships that were being endured by the men nor their exhausted state had been taken into account by the British C. in C., Douglas Haig as he had ordered that the offensive on the Somme to continue with attacks on the enemy’s positions on the Transloy Ridges and subsequently the Ancre Heights.

Rawlinson’s Fourth Army had begun the Battle of the Transloy Ridges on Sunday the first of October with an attack by four divisions assisted by tanks on the heavily defended hamlet of Eaucourt L’Abbaye, which lies to the north west of the village of Martinpuich. Amongst the formations taking part in the assault had been the 50TH [Northumbrian] Division, which as we have seen in previous pages had consisted of Territorial soldiers drawn from the North East of England, many of whom had belonged to Scarborough. However on the day it had been the Durham men of 151ST Infantry Brigade who had stood in the limelight. A report made after the attack by an officer of the Royal Flying Corps had noted of the advance of the Division;

‘At 3.15pm the steady bombardment changed into a most magnificent barrage. The timing of this was extremely good. Guns opened simultaneously and the effect was that of many machine guns opening fire on the same order. As seen from the air the barrage appeared to be the most perfect wall of fire in which it was inconceivable that any thing could live. The first troops to extend from the forming up places appeared to be the 50TH Division who were seen to spread out from the sap heads and forming up trenches and advance close up under the barrage, apparently some 50 yards away from it. They appeared to capture their objective very rapidly and with practically no losses while crossing the open’

The Divisions objective had been a position known as ‘Flers Trench’ to the west of L’ Abbaye and had suffered some casualties in the taking of the position, in particular a soldier from Scarborough who had been part of ‘Y’ Trench Mortar team which had laid down covering fire for the advancing infantry; 12415 Acting Bombardier George Anderson,

Born in Scarborough in 1897 at No 9 Prince of Wales Terrace [a ‘boarding house’ that had been run by grandparents Mary and Whittaker Foster] on the South Cliff of Scarborough. George was the youngest of three children of Janet and ‘joiner/ carpenter’ John Sweeting Anderson, who at the time of their son’s death had been living at No 7 Prince of Wales Terrace.

In 1908 at the age of 11 years George had been accepted into the hallowed halls of Scarborough’s Municipal School [the equivalent of today’s Secondary School] that had been in Westwood. There is as far as I know no information regarding George’s employment after leaving the school in 1912.

Anderson had enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Scarborough and had consequently joined the Territorial 2ND [Northumbrian] Battery in April 1915 as a gunner, being promoted to acting Bombardier [the equivalent of an infantry corporal] by the following year.

Grievously wounded by enemy shellfire on the first of October George Anderson had been fortunate to be evacuated to one of the many B.E.F. hospitals which had been situated near the city of Rouen, where he had succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday the fourth of October 1916, his remains in due course had been buried in St Sever Cemetery located three kilometres to the south of the city where the grave of the twenty year old can be found in Plot B. Row 20. Grave 15.

A year later on the anniversary of their son’s death John and Janet Anderson had placed an epitaph in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday October 5TH 1917;

‘In loving memory of Gunner George Anderson, Killed in action October 4TH 1916. Youngest son of Mr. And Mrs. J. Anderson, 7Prince of Wales Terrace, Scarborough... —‘May his reward be as great as his sacrifice’. From Father, Mother, and Sister’ [Edith].

Just seven months after the Anderson’s had heard that their youngest son had died in France, the couple had received the terrible news that their eldest son had been killed in action; 241918 Lance Corporal Harry Whittaker Anderson.

Four years older than his brother, Harry had been born in Scarborough in 1893 also at No 9 Prince of Wales Terrace. Like George he had also attended the Municipal School at Scarborough [1907- 11] and after leaving the establishment had taken up an apprenticeship with a chemist in Nottingham, however, by the outbreak of the war he had been living in Barnsley.

Harry had enlisted into the Army at Nottingham in 1915 and had eventually been posted to the 2ND/5TH Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, a unit of the Territorial Army that had been formed at Rotherham in 1914. The Battalion had subsequently joined the 187TH Brigade of the 62ND [2ND West Riding] Division, which had landed in France in January 1917, going into the line for the first time in the Ancre section of the Somme the following month.

Three months later in the early hours of Thursday the 3RD of May 1917 the Division had been thrown into a bloody attack on the Hindenburg Line close to the village of Bullecourt near Arras in Northern France. The Division had been involved in an attack on the line by units of the Australian Second Division which had ended in a fiasco, which the Australian Official Historian describes as; ‘all a bloody mix up’.

Somewhere in the melee Harry Anderson, a bombing section commander, had been leading his section into action when he and a number of his men had been hit by German shellfire which had torn them to pieces. Officially recorded as having been killed in action on the 3RD of May 1917, no identifiable remains of the twenty four year old Harry Anderson had ever been found, and his name had eventually been included with 35,000 other British, New Zealand and South African servicemen who had died in the Arras Sector of France between the spring of 1916 and August 1918 that possess ‘no known graves’ on the Arras Memorial, his name can be found in Bay 8.

The names of Harry and George Anderson are also commemorated on a brass ‘Roll of Honour’ located inside the South Cliff Methodist Church in Filey Road which carries the names of the 94 members of the church who had seen service during the war, nineteen of whom had given their lives. The brothers names can also be found on a broken and neglected gravestone in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery [Plot K. Row 10. Grave 12], which also commemorates the names of their Whitby born father [the son of Sarah and Henry Anderson] who had died on Sunday July 13TH 1919 at the age of 57 years and their elder sister Edith who had reportedly been born in 1889 in the U.S.A., at Chicago Illinois, who had died on November 16TH 1928 at the age of 39 years.

Also included on the stone is the name of their Bradford born mother Janet Foster. The daughter of Mary and Whittaker Foster, Janet had been married in Scarborough to John Anderson during 1886, and after the war she had lived for some years with daughter Edith at No 89 Tennyson Avenue, however at the time of her death on Sunday April 4TH 1937 at the age of 73 years, Janet had been residing at No 67 Trafalgar Road in Scarborough.

In his despatch of the 23rd of December 1916 Douglas Haig had recorded;

‘On the afternoon of the 1ST October a successful attack was launched against Eaucourt L’Abbaye and the enemy defences to the east and west of it, comprising a total front of about three thousand yards… Bomb fighting continued amongst the buildings during the next two days, but by the evening of the third of October the whole of Eaucourt L’Abbaye was in our hands’…

Following the capture of Eaucourt L’ Abbaye, Fourth Army had begun making preparations for the assault on their next objective, the village of Le Sars. The hamlet lies a short distance to the north east of Eaucourt and straddles the main Albert to Bapaume road. In 1916 Le Sars had been strongly defended by Bavarian troops of the 17th Regiment, its trench system, [one of which had been the infamous Flers Trench] forming a part of defences of the neibouring villages of Courcelette and Martinpuich to the southwest.

The artillery of Fourth Army had begun to bombard Le Sars in the after noon of Friday 6th of October and had saturated the village continuously until the afternoon of the following day. Zero Hour for the attack had been scheduled for 1-45pm on the seventh, at which time precisely two Brigades of infantry of the 23RD Division [the 68TH and 69TH] had begun their advance into No Mans Land, their objective being the capture of the southern end of the village. Amongst the attacking units had been the 9TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, their regimental history says of their subsequent attack;

‘The 9th Green Howards had an officer and several men killed by shells just as they reached the crossroads near La Sars. Pushing rapidly on, however, the enemy machine guns were bombed and the Germans were bayoneted as they emerged from their dugouts. There was here fierce hand to hand fighting, quarter was neither asked nor given, and the garrison of a strongpoint at the crossroads, refusing to surrender, were all killed. The machine guns too which from the village had enfiladed and held up the 68TH Brigade on the edge of a sunken road were bombed and captured by the 9TH Green Howards, and the greater part of the village of Le Sars was now in British hands, when the battalion pressed on to the east and cleared the trenches to the north eats of the Bapaume road. By that evening the whole of Le Sars had been captured, all gains were consolidated, strong posts were established and touch gained with the troops on the right and left…[2]

On the 9th of October the 9TH Yorkshires had been relieved by a battalion from another division and had subsequently moved back to a camp near a place named ‘Round Wood’ where the customary post battle roll had been taken. In the two days of fighting the battalion had lost two officers and fifteen men killed, a further three officers and eighty
six non commissioned officers and men had been wounded, and ten men were listed as missing. Amongst those had been; 22485 Private Edward Purnell,

‘Ted’ Purnell had been born in Scarborough on the 17TH of September 1880 at No 8 Wrea Street and had been the fifth of seven children of Hannah [formerly Johnson] and George Purnell a Stonemason by trade. At the time of the 1901 Census however the widowed sixty one years old Hannah Purnell had been living at No 50 Trafalgar Street East with sons Thomas aged 36 years who is listed as a Stonemason, Bricklayer Richard aged 30, Ted by then aged 20 years and employed as a joiners apprentice, and daughters Kate aged 22 years, and Nellie 18 years.

Ted had been a married man and the father of a daughter by the time that he had enlisted at the recruiting office in St Nicholas Street in 1915,shortly afterwards the new recruit had been sent to the Yorkshire Regiments Depot at Richmond from where after a brief period of ‘kitting out’ and training Ted had been posted to the Regiments newly formed 9TH Battalion which had at the time been training in the Aldershot area.

The 9TH Yorkshire’s had eventually formed a quarter of the 68TH Brigade of the 23RD Division and with this unit Ted Purnell had landed at the French Port of Boulogne on the 27TH of September 1915, the Battalion had then been ordered to the Northern French town of Tilques to the north west of St Omer, where the 23RD Division had assembled.

The Division had entered the Somme offensive on fourth of July 1916 in time to take part in the Battle of Albert, during which the division had assisted in the capture of the village of Contalmaison on the 10TH of July and until the fighting for Le Sars had taken part in the battles of Pozieres Ridge [23 July- 3 September] Flers/Courcelette [15- 22 September] Morval [25-28 September] and the Transloy Ridges [1-18 October].

The remains of Ted Purnell had never been recovered after the battle at Le Sars therefore his name had eventually been recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme, it can be found on Pier and Face 3A and 3D.

Having lived prior to his death at No 48 Quay Street in the ‘bottom end’ of town Edward Purnell’s name had been included on a ‘Roll of Honour’ to fallen parishioners in the nearby St Thomas’s Church in East Sandgate, which had eventually been moved up the hill to St Mary’s Church when the old ‘Fishermen’s church’ had closed its doors for the last time in February 1969. The small stone tablet [presented as a token of thanksgiving by Mr and Mrs H. Wright] can now be found on the north interior wall of the Church.

The missing soldiers name can also be found in Manor Road Cemetery in Section P. Row 11. Grave 35 inscribed on a piece of very weathered sandstone at the foot of a small gravestone which commemorates his parents George who had died on the 10TH of January 1886 at the age of 42 years, and Hannah Purnell who had passed away four days after the armistice on the 15TH of November 1918 at the age of 76. Also included on the stone are the names of elder brothers William and Tom [who had been born in Scarborough in 1866]. A few yards away in Plot O. Row 10. Grave 26 stands a weathered Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone that commemorates; 666 Rifleman Richard Johnson Purnell.

Ted’s elder brother ‘Dick’ Purnell [born at Scarborough in 1871] had joined the National Reserve at the outbreak of the war and had eventually been called up in May 1915 to serve in the newly formed Territorial Force 20TH [Northern] Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. The Battalion had eventually been sent to Egypt in 1916 to be used in garrison duties. Richard had been serving in the Middle East for about eight months when he had been stricken by dysentery.

The sick soldier had in time been evacuated to a hospital in Weymouth where he had died from the effects of the disease a few days after his younger brother had died in France on Friday 20TH of October 1916 at the age of 45 years. The remains of Richard Purnell had subsequently been brought back to his home town [he had once lived at No 57 Trafalgar Road with Wife Harriet] for burial, which had taken place in the afternoon of Wednesday 25TH of October 1916.

On Sunday the 8TH of October the fight for possession of Le Sars had been continued by three British Divisions [including the 23RD] from Fourth Army, and the First and Third Canadian Divisions From Fifth Army. Heavy rain had made conditions for the troops appalling, nonetheless, laden down with upwards of sixty pounds of equipment in addition to their sodden greatcoats and helmets the attack had gone ahead.

To the left of the 23RD Division had been the men of First Brigade which had consisted of the Third [Toronto Regiment] and Fourth [Central Ontario] Battalions of the First Canadian Division, who had assembled for the attack near Destremont Farm, their objectives had been a rectangular strong point known as the ‘Quadrilateral’ to the north west of Le Sars and also to reach a formidable position known as ‘Regina Trench’, which had ran across the German lines in a south westerly direction. Regina Trench had run from the north of the village of Coucelette to Stuff Trench on Thiepval Ridge, which in turn had joined the Schwarben Redoubt. Both of these positions had been held by dogged German Marines attached to the Third Ersatz Division;

‘At 4.50 am in cold rain the attack was launched. On the right, 3RD and 4TH Battalions advanced, taking the front line trench of the Le Sars line from Dyke Road to some 400 yards beyond the Quadrilateral. At 1-20pm a counter attack was launched and heavy fighting ensued. At dusk the Canadians withdrew to their assault trenches. After dark 4TH Battalion dug a forward trench on the right to within fifty yards of the Le Sars line, linking with the 23RD Division’…

The Canadians had suffered grievous losses during the attack mainly due to the men being cut to pieces by intense rifle and machine gun fire as they had searched for a way through uncut barbed wire. As testimony of the intensity of the fighting, after the action the Third Battalion could only muster one officer and eighty five men out of the fourteen officers and four hundred and eighty one other ranks who had gone into action. Amongst the casualties had been; 175750 Private Ernest William Dove.

Born in Scarborough on the 12TH of September 1882 at No30 Albion Street, Ernest was the eldest of five children of Sarah Jane [formerly Baker] and Joiner/Carpenter; Harry Dove. By 1901, however, Ernest’s father had died and his 54year old widow had been living at No 41 Oxford Street with fifteen year old daughter Lillian, Ernest aged fourteen, and eleven year old Harry.

Amongst the thousands of Britons who had emigrated to ‘the New World’ in search of a better life in the years prior to the war Ernest Dove had settled in Ontario in the small town of Welland near Niagara Falls and the Canadian/U.S. Border, where he had lived at No 50 Mc Cormack Street with his wife Mary Maria, and eventually son George and daughters Christiana [Chrissie], and Margaret.

Formally a labourer in an iron foundry, the thirty two year old Ernest had enlisted into the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force at Welland on August 13TH 1915. Already a Corporal in the 44TH Regiment [Lincoln and Welland Canal Force] of the Canadian Militia, [the equivalent of the British Territorial Army] he had in addition also served for seven days in the 2ND Dragoons, a local Territorial Cavalry Regiment. Ernest’s rudimentary medical examination had shown that he had weighed a hundred and fifty pounds and had stood at five feet eight and a half inches tall in his stocking feet, had blue eyes, brown hair, and a fair complexion.

Following enlistment, Ernest Dove, like all C.E.F. recruits, had been sent to Valcartier Camp near Quebec, where after a period of basic military training he had specialised in the use of the Colt Light Machine Gun [the forerunner of the British Lewis Gun] and had eventually joined ‘D’ Company of the 86TH Machine Gun Battalion.

The 86TH had eventually received their orders to precede abroad in May 1916, the unit embarking at Halifax Nova Scotia in the Troop transport

S.S. Adriatic on the nineteenth, the ship sailing the same day bound for the obligatory ‘unknown destination’.

The ‘unknown destination’ had eventually turned out to be the port of Liverpool where the crowed Adriatic had arrived on Monday May 29TH 1916; the troops had begun disembarking the same day.

The final destination of the newly arrived Canadians had been Shorncliffe Camp on the edge of Salisbury Plain where on the 30TH of May Ernest had been promoted to Acting Corporal, however, just four months later he had reverted at his own request to the rank of Private, the reason now lost with time.

The twenty Dollar a month Private Dove had remained at Shorncliffe until the 27TH of September 1916, when he had been included in a draft of men destined for France and the Third Battalion of the Canadian Corps, which had at the time had been on the Somme and were taking part in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge following the savage fighting for the village of Courcelette, which elements of the Corps had captured at heavy cost on the 15TH of September.

Nothing was ever found that could be identified as the remains of Ernest Dove and his name had eventually been commemorated on the Vimy Memorial atop the infamous Hill 145 on Vimy Ridge in Northern France, which bears the names of over eleven thousand Canadians who had lost their lives between 1915 and 1918 who have no known graves..

Ernest’s widow had continued to live in Canada until 1924 when she had returned to Scarborough to live at No 10 Victoria Road until the 1930s when she had moved to No 21 Long Walk in Northstead. Mary Dove had eventually subsequently lived in a Flat at No 193 Barrowcliff Road, where she had passed away on Monday the 11TH of May 1959. The following day an announcement had appeared in the Births, Marriages, and Death’s column of the ‘Scarborough Evening News’;

‘Dove. —On 11TH May, Mary Maria, aged 77 of 193 Barrowcliff Road, beloved wife of the late Ernest William and dear mother of George, Chrissie, and Margaret’…

Following a memorial service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Longwestgate the remains of Mary Maria Dove had been interred in Manor Road Cemetery in the afternoon of Thursday the fourteenth of May 1959. A gravestone commemorating her had eventually been placed at the head of her grave that can be found in Plot V. Row 12 of the Cemetery. Also commemorated on the stone is the name of the husband she had lost on the Somme so many years before.

On the left flank of Ernest Dove’s Battalion had been the Third Infantry Brigade who’s objective had been the capture of Regina Trench itself. Amongst the formations which had taken part in the attack had been the 16TH Battalion [Canadian Scottish] who had advanced under withering enemy fire towards the position only to find that there was no way through the uncut wire. The attack had ground to a halt and the Canadians had been pinned down on front of the position, it was at this point that an eighteen year old Piper, Jimmy Richardson had rose to his feet and marched up and down the line of the battalion playing his pipes thereby encouraging his comrades to press on with the attack.

Ways had eventually been found through the wire and the decimated battalion had gained a foothold in Regina but had not been able to hold on to their prize. The survivors had eventually retired into no mans land, Jimmy Richardson amongst them, however the young soldier had realised that he had left his pipes in Regina Trench and had ran back to get them, he was never seen again.

The Scottish born Jimmy Richardson had eventually [in 1918] been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for ‘most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty’ for his actions on the eighth of October. At the end of the war the body of Piper Richardson had been found on the old battlefield and his remains had subsequently been buried in Adanac Cemetery.

Regina Trench had proved to be a particularly hard and costly nut for the Canadians to crack and the position had not fallen until the 11TH of November at a price of nearly twenty thousand Canadian lives in two months of some of the cruellest fighting which had taken place on the Somme.

The constant heavy rain which had fallen during October had turned the already lunar landscape of the Somme battlefield into a quagmire forcing the men of both sides to exist and fight in the most deplorable conditions, even the prose of the British Official History had risen to describe how;

In a wilderness of mud, holding waterlogged trenches or shell hole posts, accessible only by night, the infantry abode in conditions which might be likened to those of earth worms, rather than the human kind’….

Having seized a strip of land only three miles wide by twenty miles long, and still three miles from the town of Bapaume, an objective which the high command had expected to be taken way back on the first of July, many Generals and all of the men had wondered just how much longer the failed offensive should, or would go on before the onset of winter.

Rawlinson, the commander of Fourth Corps, safely ensconced in his comfortable and dry headquarters far behind the front line had had no thoughts of putting an end to the slaughter and had wrote in his diary;

‘This bad weather which has forced us to slow down has given the Boche a breather. His artillery is better organised, and his infantry is fighting with greater tenacity, but deserters continue to come in, and the more we bombard, the more prisoners and deserters we shall get. I should like therefore to be more or less aggressive all winter, but we must not take the edge off next year’…

On Friday the thirteenth of October the avid readers of the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ thirsty for news of the fighting in France had read in the newspaper a communiqué that had been relayed to the Press by British Headquarters the previous day. Unknown to a number of families of the town in the days to follow the few words were to hold far-reaching and tragic consequences;

‘This afternoon we delivered an attack on the low heights which intervene between our front and the Bapaume--Peronne road. We have already secured successes, and captured a number of prisoners in the course of the fighting which still continues’…

On Thursday the twelfth of October the struggle for possession of the Transloy Ridges had continued with an attack by Fourth Army’s Fourteenth and Fifteenth Corps on a heavy concentration of strongly defended German trenches which had been situated between the villages of Gueudecourt and Lesboeufs bearing names such as [from left to right] Bayonet, Hilt, Rainbow, and beyond them Bacon, Grease, Mild, and beyond those Barley, Bread, Stormy and Cloudy Trenches.

After the customary ‘softening up’ by British artillery of the enemy positions, which had begun at 6am, the advance had begun at Zero Hour [2-25] in the afternoon of the dull, though, fortunately for once dry day. Despite the lack of rain the already exhausted attackers had however had to flounder their way through the thick glutinous mire in mud clogged boots the size of footballs.

Amongst the units that had taken part in the operation had been the Second Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers of Twelfth Brigade, Fourth Division. Their objective [together with the second Duke of Wellington’s Regiment] the capture of a position known as ‘Spectrum Trench’ a little north of the village of Lesboefs. The battalions plan of attack had called for its four companies [A, B, C, and D each consisting of around a hundred and sixty officers and men] to advance in eight waves on the enemy’s position 1,400 yards away the first four waves were then to take the trench, push forward and dig in, whilst the remainder were to follow them and dig a support trench two hundred yards to the rear of the objective.

The Fusiliers had been given the impression that the morale of the Germans about to be attacked had not been high as just before the assault a number of the enemy had crossed No Mans Land to surrender, however this was not to be, the History of the Regiment* says this of the subsequent attack;

‘At Zero the two right companies A and B decided to leave their trenches and to lie in shell holes; they did so with few casualties. C and D stayed in their trenches till 2-25pm, by which time the enemy machine guns were firing furiously; they were caught in this fire the moment they advanced. Hawkins [Lieutenant V.F.S. Hawkins of ‘B’ Company] noticed as soon as he advanced that there was a small isolated trench [Zenith Trench] between the lines, manned by about twenty Germans with two machine guns which had escaped the barrage. This party inflicted very heavy casualties and held up the advance as it could pour enfilade fire on the right companies and cause considerable damage to the left. Small isolated parties of B and C Companies in the centre, including one gallantly led by Second- Lieutenant W.C. Bolton, managed to get past this trench and pushed about two hundred yards further on and dug in at about 3pm. Unfortunately, they were later cut off and either all killed or captured’.

The aforementioned Lieutenant Hawkins had recorded a far more graphic account of the unfolding disaster;

‘2-30pm Fifty per cent of Company already down. Whole Brigade appears to be held up. Lance Corporal Fenton, one of my Lewis gunners, has got his gun going in a shell hole on my left. Awful din, can hardly it. Yelled at Sgt Manin to take the first wave on. He’s lying just behind me. Hodgkinson says he dead. Sgt Mann on my right, of 7 Platoon, also dead. Most of the men appear to be dead. Shout at the rest and get up to take them on. Find myself sitting on the ground facing our own line with a great hole in my thigh… Hodgkinson also hit in the wrist. Most of the Company now out… I put my tie round my leg as a tourniquet. Fortesque about five yards on my right still alive… yell at him to come over to me. Show him my leg and tell him to carry on. He gets into a shell hole to listen while I tell him what to do. Shot through the heart while I’m talking to him. Addison also wounded and crawling back to our lines. That’s all the officers and most of the N.C.Os. Cant see anything of Serjeant Bolton and 8 Platoon’[3]

Despite appalling losses the attack had continued and at 7-30pm the Brigade Commander had ordered the shattered remnants of 2ND Lancashire Fusiliers together with Duke of Wellington’s to make a combined attack on Zenith Trench. This had eventually been called off and steps had been taken to collect the survivors and ‘consolidate such progress as had been possible[1]

Eventually about one hundred and thirty men were collected, the losses had been pitiful.

A subsequent Roll Call had revealed that of the thousand or so officers and men who had taken part in the attack four officers and sixty-two ‘other ranks’ had been killed, six officers and a hundred and sixty two men had been wounded, and a further officer and a hundred men were missing. Amongst those missing had been; 24237 Private Christopher Matthew Nightingale,

Born in Scarborough at No 12 Hall’s Yard in Cross Street in March 1894 [Baptised in St Mary’s Parish Church on the twenty ninth] Christopher had been the fifth of eight children of Annie Elizabeth and Jonathan Walker Nightingale, who had been employed in Scarborough’s fishing fleet as a Ship’s Fireman. [4]

A former pupil of Friarage Infants and Junior School Chris had enlisted into the Army in late 1914 with his elder brother James [born in 1891] at Worksop in Nottinghamshire and had subsequently served as a Private [No 14042] in the Notts and Derby Regiment until his transfer to the Regular Army’s veteran Second Lancashire Fusiliers in July 1916 as part of the replacements for the grievous casualties sustained by the Battalion during a disastrous attack on an enemy position known as ‘The Quadrilateral’ on the first day of the Somme Offensive.

Chris Nightingale’s parents had been living at No 95a Longwestgate when news had reached them in November 1916 that their son was ‘missing in action’ and his name had subsequently appeared in a casualty list in the Scarborough Mercury of Friday the tenth of November. Following this the anxious parents had heard nothing further until the following year when they had been told by the War Office that;

‘As no further news has been heard of your son it must therefore be presumed that he had been killed in action’.

On the twenty fourth of August 1917 Chris’s name had again been mentioned in the local newspaper;
‘One of three soldier brothers Killed - It is now officially stated that Private C. Nightingale, missing some months, must now be regarded as dead. His home is at 95a Longwestgate. He was 22years of age, and joined at the outbreak of war. Two brothers are serving in France’.

The remains of Christopher Nightingale were never recovered from the battlefield therefore he had become one of the thousands who had lost their lives during the Somme Offensive and have ‘No Known Grave’. His name had eventually been commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and can be found on the Memorials Pier and Face 3C and 3D.

The two brothers mentioned in the newspaper had been the elder James [born in 1891] who had served throughout the war in the Notts and Derby Regiment and had lived to tell the tale, unlike; Albert Nightingale [born in 1892], who having served in the Territorial Army’s 1ST/5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and despite being wounded in December 1916 had also eventually returned to Scarborough to live with his widowed mother in Longwestgate and work in the town’s fishing fleet as a Ships Fireman. On Saturday 4TH of September 1920 he had had the misfortune to be the First Fireman in the ill fated Scarborough registered Steam Trawler, ‘Jack Johnson’ which it is assumed that whilst she had been fishing in the North Sea had either struck or had caught in her trawl a German sea mine which had detonated blowing her and her crew to the four corners of the compass. Very little of the Jack Johnson was ever found and none of the bodies of her crew were recovered. With no known grave the twenty eight years old and unmarried Albert Nightingale is, like his younger brother, also commemorated on a memorial to the missing, on the Tower Hill Memorial in London which bears the names of 24,000 Merchant Seamen who had lost their lives in the First and Second World War’s.

The two brothers are also commemorated in Dean Road Cemetery [Plot B, Row 17] on a kerbstone of their parents grave which also consists of a headstone which bears the names of their Northumberland [Percy Maine] born father who had died in Scarborough on Sunday the 28TH of April 1918 at No 91 Longwestgate at the age of sixty two years, and their Scarborough born mother who had subsequently passed away on Monday the 30TH of January 1939 at her home at No 95a Longwestgate at the age of 78 years. A short memorial service for Annie Nightingale had subsequently been held during the afternoon of Thursday the third of February 1951 in St Johns Mission Church in St Sepulchre Street following this she had been laid to rest with her husband in Dean Road Cemetery.

During the early hours of Wednesday the eighteenth of October three companies of the Second Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had made a frontal attack on an enemy position known as ‘Bayonet Trench’. The men allotted to the assault had assembled during the evening of the previous day in ‘New Trench’ and shortly before ‘Zero Hour’ on the eighteenth the men had lain in two lines in the mud of no mans land to await the signal to begin their advance.

‘At Zero the two lines rose and moved forward, incurring but few casualties, and all three companies arrived in an irregular line from twenty to fifty yards from Bayonet Trench, where the men dropped into shell holes and waited to get together before finally going on to the assault. The enemy by this had opened with short bursts of machine gun fire from the right and had hurled a good few bombs, but he used but little rifle fire.

The right and centre companies, ‘D’ and ‘C’ had closed up until they had consisted of groups of six or seven men each, somewhat irregularly spaced, from twenty to thirty yards from the German trench, and ‘D’ only waited to charge forward till its rear line was nearer. The O.C. [Officer Commanding] ‘C’ Company was struck on the head by a fragment of a bomb and stunned when within a few yards of the enemy trench, and unhappily at this moment the left company ‘A’ which by this time had lost both its officers, and was under the fire of a machine gun on the left and also of rifles, wavered and fell back, and this movement unfortunately spread all down the line and could mot be checked. Only two unwounded officers remained now with the attack line, and thus the whole line fell back, the flanking parties conforming’

A equally futile but gallant attack by the Battalion’s bombers up the nearby ‘Bite Trench’ had ended in much the same way.

During the following day the Battalion had been relieved by the Second Yorks, withdrawing to the British held Flers Support Trench where the Battalion had called the customary post battle ‘roll’ where it was found that the cost of the abortive attack had been heavy. One officer and fifteen men had been killed, six officers and a hundred and fifty three men were wounded, and a further three officers and thirty six men could not be accounted for, all told two hundred and fourteen casualties for no gain. Amongst them had been; 19666 Corporal Frank Newton.

Born in Scarborough at No 69 Prospect Road on the eighth of February 1895, Frank was the eldest son of Ann and ‘Journeyman Painter’ Alfred Plummer Newton. [Parents Alfred P. Newton and Ann Allanson were married at St Mary’s Parish Church on December 12TH 1891].

Although born at No 69 Prospect Road, Frank had lived for the majority of his life at No1 Lower Prospect Road near the Bow Street Mission, a Wesleyan meeting room which his family had attended until it had been replaced by a new Chapel in Hoxton Road which had opened it’s doors during October 1905.

In 1899 at the age of four Frank Newton had begun his education at the Central Infants and Juniors School in nearby Trafalgar Street West and had stayed at the school for ten years until he had eventually left the school at the obligatory age of fourteen to begin an ‘apprenticeship’ as a house painter that, had the war not intervened, should have lasted until he had reached the age of twenty one years.

The twenty years old Frank had however enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment at Scarborough early in 1915 at the recruiting office in St Nicholas Street and after ten weeks of military training at the Regimental Depot at Richmond in North Yorkshire he had been posted to France and the Regiment’s Second Battalion, a Regular Army formation which had been serving with the 21ST Brigade of the 7TH Division, which had been situated at Rouge Croix in Northern France in time to go into action with the Battalion between the 12TH and 19TH of May in operations which were later known as the Battle of Festubert, and subsequently to take part in the Battle of Loos between the 25TH of September and October 1ST 1915, between them the two operations costing the Battalion over five hundred officers and men killed, wounded, and missing.

By December 1915 many of Kitchener’s New Army Divisions had begun to arrive in France and it had been realised that the new armies would require the support, guidance, and expertise of the ‘old hands’ of the veteran formations, many of whom had been in action since the beginning of the war. Consequently during the morning of the 19TH of December 1915 the Second Battalion and the rest of 21ST Brigade had said farewell to the Seventh Division and two days later had joined the 30TH Division at Fienvillers in Northern France where they had spent the Christmas of 1915/16 and Frank Newton had celebrated his twenty first birthday.

A combination of heavy battle casualties in a Battalion and aptitude had ensured rapid promotion during the Great War and by the time the 30TH Division had arrived in the Somme Sector in June 1916 Frank Newton had been promoted to the rank of Corporal with overall command of a Section consisting of ten men.

On July 1ST, the first day of the Somme Offensive the Division had been holding the line just to the north of the village of Marincourt and had attacked at Zero Hour on that most terrible of days. The Division had subsequently taken part in the capture of Montauban and had remained in action until the 12TH of July fighting throughout the Battle of Albert [1st—13TH July] and from the 7TH of July at Trones Wood [see Part Two]. On the 30TH of July the Division had taken part in an attack on the village of Guillemont and after a period in reserve, the Division, during the night of 10TH /11TH October had relieved the 41ST Division in the front line to the north west of the village of Flers, where on the 12TH of October the Division had received their orders for the imminent attack at Le Transloy.

Another Scarborough soldier with ‘No Known Grave’, the remains of the twenty one years old and unmarried Frank Newton had never been found amongst the carnage and mud of the Somme, his name therefore, like so many of his fellow townsmen had been commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval where it can be found on Pier and Face 3A and 3D of the monument.

Frank Newton is also commemorated in Scarborough on a ‘Roll of Honour’ in Hoxton Road Wesleyan Chapel that commemorates the names of seventeen members of the congregation who had lost their lives during the Great War. Interestingly also in the chapel is a ‘Roll of Honour’ remembering those men of the chapel who had survived the war, amongst these names can be found that of Fred Newton, a younger brother of Frank’s.

Frank Newton’s name can also be found on the left hand curbstone of a grave in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery, which can be located in Plot L, Row 9, Grave 15, which also has a headstone bearing the names of Frank’s parents, Alfred Plummer Newton who had died in Scarborough’s Hospital and Dispensary in Friars Entry on Monday the eleventh of March 1918 at the age of 48 years, and Ann Newton who had subsequently died in her home at No1 Prospect Road on Monday the twenty seventh of August 1951. The right hand curbstone commemorates Frank Newton’s eldest sister Ethel ‘Effie’ Newton who had died on Monday the 16TH of October 1933 also at No 1 Prospect Road, at the age of forty years. [Her remains had subsequently been cremated on Thursday the 19TH of October].

Although not commemorated, the grave also bears the cremated remains of two other sisters of Frank Newton, Norah [who for a number of years had been the proprietor of a hardware shop at No 1 Prospect Road] who had died in St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough at the age of eighty on the 14TH of May 1987, her remains being cremated in Scarborough on Monday the 18th [her ashes were consequently scattered on the grave on the 22ND of May]. Youngest sister Frances [born on the 18TH of April 1909] had lived for many years with her elder sister at No 66 Ramsey Street and at the time of her death in Scarborough General Hospital on Sunday the 2ND of June 2002, the grand old lady had been aged 93 years.

The British High Command had allowed the battle for possession of the trenches [which had been little more than a joined up collection of shell holes] near Guedecourt to continue into November. The men of Fourteenth Corps were by that time exhausted beyond the realms of endurance. The Commander of Fourth Army [Rawlinson] still oblivious to the plight of the men under his command had ordered another assault to be made on the Fifth of November. The commander of Fourteenth Corps, Lord Cavan, nearer to the fighting than his superior and better aware of the conditions that his men were being ordered to fight in had made a protest towards his superior;

‘I assert my readiness to sacrifice the British right rather than jeopardise the French…but I feel that I am bound to ask if this is the intention, for a sacrifice it must be. It does no appear that a failure would much assist the French, and there is a danger of this attack shaking the confidence of the men and officers in their commanders. No one who has not visited the front trenches can really know the state of exhaustion to which the men are reduced’

Cavan had pressed his point and Rawlinson had eventually gone to the front to see the ground for himself and had agreed with Cavan that an attack would be impossible. 8]

After speaking to the French C in C [Foch] Haig had reversed the decision and the attack had gone ahead as ordered. Tragically Cavan’s Fourteenth Corps had lost over 2,000 men in the ensuing debacle.

A few miles to the north [in Third Army’s sector] and five days later, on Monday the twenty third of October, another twenty-one years old soldier from Scarborough had also been killed in action. At the time the young soldiers unit, the Territorial 1ST/5TH York and Lancaster Regiment had been manning an eight hundred yard section of the British front line near the village of Foncquevillers [better known to the troops as ‘Funkyvillers’] opposite the German held fortress village of Gommecourt, which the unit’s History* had described as being an ‘extremely quiet’ sector. Nonetheless during the day that the man had died the position had been subjected to an intense bombardment by enemy artillery, during which the young man being struck by a piece of shrapnel that had snuffed out his life in an instant; 6098 Private John Dutchman.

Born in Scarborough in 1895 at No 41 Sandringham Street John had been the youngest of four sons of Frances and Scarborough Corporation ‘Road Labourer’ Hewitson Dutchman who had been living at the same address early in November 1916 when they had received the news from the War Office of their sons death. A pupil of St Peters Roman Catholic School in Auborough Street, John had left the institution at the age of fourteen to begin an apprenticeship with the General Superintendents Office of the North Eastern Railway Company, with whom he had been employed at Scarborough at the outbreak of the war.

By September 1914 the formation of the various ‘Pals’ battalions had been in full flow, not to be outdone the N.E.R. had begun to form it’s own battalion at Hull, the 17TH[Service] Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers and it had been into this formation that the nineteen years old John Dutchman had originally enlisted [Service Number 32/16] in October 1914. The battalion had remained at Hull for the remainder of nineteen fourteen, training as conventional infantry.

During the early part of 1915 however, the unit had officially been designated as a pioneer battalion and had assumed the title of the North Eastern Railway Pioneers. In June 1915 the battalion had been assigned to the newly formed 32ND Division and had joined the formation as divisional pioneers at Catterick Camp in North Yorkshire where they had remained until August, when the Division had been moved to Codford St Mary, on Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain, where the Pioneers [and 32ND Division] had received their orders to proceed abroad in October 1915 and had landed at the port of Le Havre on the eighteenth.

The N.E.R. Pioneers had arrived with the 32ND Division ‘on the Somme’ during the build up to the offensive in late June 1916 and had taken up their positions for the forthcoming attack in the British Front Line near the village of Authuille. On the opening day of the offensive the division had assaulted at great cost the Leipzig Salient at Thiepval, throughout the operation the North Eastern Railway Pioneers had dug vital communication trenches and had been involved in the extension of a tramway in Authuille Wood and assisting in keeping essential supply routes open. For the following two weeks of the Somme Offensive the battalions four companies had worked independently on the maintenance of roads strong points and trenches around Authuille, Bouzincourt, Senlis, Aveluy, and Contay.

The exhausted pioneers had eventually been relieved by another battalion on the sixteenth of July and had been sent to the Loos sector of Northern France. Some of the men however, for a variety of reasons had never left the Somme, amongst them had been John Dutchman, who had been transferred from the battalion to serve as an infantryman in a unit that had lost heavily in the recent battle of Albert. John had been posted to the Territorial Force’s 1ST/5TH York and Lancs on the fifth of July and had joined his new unit in Thiepval Wood where they had been ‘resting’ after losing 350 men on the third of July in the fighting for the village of St Pierre Divion.

Throughout the remainder of that terrible summer and early autumn of 1916 the 1ST/5TH York and Lancs had spent their time holding the line in a variety of Fourth Army locations near Thiepval until the twenty seventh of September when the threadbare remnants of the battalion had been transferred to Third Army’s Sector, and eventually the front line near ‘Funkyvillers’.

The remains of Private Dutchman had eventually been taken to the nearby Hebuterne Military Cemetery where they had been buried in the Cemetery’s Section 1, Plot R, Grave 4, and his parents had been notified that he had been killed in action early in November 1916, his name had subsequently appeared in a casualty list which had been included in the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the third of November.

In Scarborough, in addition to the town’s Oliver’s Mount Memorial, John Dutchman’s name can be found on a headstone in the Roman Catholic section of Manor Road Cemetery [Section W, Row 3, Grave????., Which also commemorates John’s Scarborough born father who had died during September 1939 at the age of 81 years and Hull born mother who had passed away in October 1946 at the grand old age of 90years. The stone also bears the name of elder sister Emma, [married name Jenkinson] who had died on the 17TH of January 1961 at the age of 76 years. Dutchman’s name can also be found on the marble cross war memorial located outside St. Peter’s Catholic Church

In addition to John, three elder sons of Hewitson and Frances Dutchman had also served during the war. Born in Scarborough in 1890 Tom had served throughout in the Royal Engineers and had survived to live until March 15TH 1950 when he had died at the age of sixty years. Their second son had been Hewitson [born in Scarborough in 1892] who had served with the 10TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment during the Battle of Loos during September/October 1915. Although wounded during this action, he had lived to tell the tale until the third of April 1961 when he had passed away at the age of 69 years. The third son had been William [born in Scarborough in 1894] he had served on the Western Front with the Royal Field Artillery and had also survived.

Despite the intolerable conditions, the British High Command desperately in need of a face saver before an imminent allied meeting had laid plans for the beginning of a ‘limited offensive’ which would be spearheaded by General Sir Hubert Gough’s Fifth Army, which would be launched astride the Ancre River to the north of Thiepval aimed at reducing the head of the German salient between the Albert-Bapaume road. Amongst the objectives of the proposed assault had been the capture of a village named Serre and the ‘Blue Line’, a system of support and reserve trenches immediately west of the hamlet. The village had been expected to fall on the first day of the offensive, four months later however it had still been in enemy hands and still a very deadly thorn in the side of the British.

On the northernmost point of the Somme Sector, before the war Serre, standing on a small ridge, had been a typical sleepy Somme hamlet of around thirty houses and farms spread along either side of the main Maily-Maillet to Puisieux road. The Germans had taken possession of the village in September 1914 and in the ensuing two years the place had been turned into a fortress that had gradually been reduced to the customary pile of Somme rubble, fallen masonry, and linked shell holes by the constant pounding by French and British artillery.

The 93RD [Leeds and Bradford] and 94TH [Sheffield, Barnsley, and Accrington Pals] Brigade’s of the British 31ST [Pals] Division had made a catastrophic attack on Serre, which had by 1916 been enclosed by deep fields of barbed wire and protected by the usual skilfully placed machine guns in the early hours of the first day of the offensive, and well before noon the attacking battalions had been virtually annihilated.

By November the barbed wire lay as thick as the day it had cut the Pals to pieces. Since July the first there was the added gruesome feature of decomposing bodies and skeletons draped over it. Since then they would have been shot many times over. Whilst out in ‘No Man’s Land’ other pathetic bundles of rags were littered marking the spot where other soldiers had fallen. The rats were one of the few living things to benefit from the battle of the Somme.

Because of the inclement weather and treacherous conditions underfoot it had been touch and go whether the assault was to go ahead or be cancelled and on the night of the tenth of November;

‘There was still some difference of opinion whether the ground was dry enough to justify an attack, although there had been no rain since the 8TH and colder weather had set in. Next morning General Gough, who had consulted his subordinate commanders freely decided that his offensive should be launched on Monday the thirteenth [of November]. After considering the advantages of a night operation- there had been a full moon on the 9TH—Zero Hour was fixed for 5-45am, a full hour and a half before sunrise.

Early on the 12TH, when the preliminary bombardment had already begun, Lieut. - General Kiggell [The B.E.F.’s Chief of General Staff] came to Fifth Army Headquarters to emphasize that the Commander in Chief ‘did not in any way wish to bring on a battle in ‘unfavourable conditions’’; but General Gough, to whom the decision was left, replied that he must either attack next day or withdraw and rest the bulk of his troops. In the afternoon Sir Douglas Haigh arrived. He said that a success was much wanted, as it would have favourable repercussions upon the Russian and Rumanian fronts, and create a heartening effect at home: yet he did not desire to risk too much’*...

The task of taking the village itself had been allocated to the Third Division from Fifth Corps, whilst the job of attacking the ‘Blue Line’ on their left flank had once again gone to the 31ST Division this time the 92ND [Hull] Brigade from Thirteenth Corps were to take the field. The Brigade had consisted of four battalions, the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th [roughly 4,000 men] of the East Yorkshire Regiment, however only the two latter were to take part in the attack [the two former were held in reserve].

The men from Hull had been rehearsing their part in the assault for a number of days beforehand and on the tenth of November they had relieved their comrades in 93RD Brigade in the British front line preparatory to them ‘going over the top’ three days later.

During the night of Sunday the twelfth of November all the troops involved had made their way to their assembly points. Some of the men having to struggle nine miles burdened with over sixty pounds of equipment. The battalions of 92ND Brigade had made their way forward onto the open ground to the north of a small wood known as ‘John Copse’, the 12TH and 13TH leading the way, they would be attacking up the slope before them, the 10TH and 12TH East Yorks had taken their place behind on a slope in front of the nearby village of Hebuterne to await the outcome of the advance.

Beside themselves, their rifles were covered in slimy cloying mud, despite their best efforts to keep them clean. Many would not be able to fire during the morrow because of it. The men were also cold and wet through as they waited for the minutes to tick away. Between 4 and 5am on Monday the thirteenth of November tea heavily laced with rum had been issued to most of the by then nervous men, the last that most of them were ever to taste. Shortly after 5am the men had been ordered to advance forty yards into ‘No Mans Land’ where they had lain down in the quagmire to await the arrival of ‘Zero Hour’.

By this time the shelling from both sides had reached crescendo pitch. At Zero Hour the men were to advance in eight closely packed waves under the cover of a ‘creeping barrage’ that would ‘lift’ a hundred yards and a similar distance every five minutes thereafter. The infantry would have to keep up with this if they were to ensure its vital protection. The powers that be had also allocated two tanks to assist the advance of the Hull men, the terrible condition of the terrain had however ruled this out, the heavy going had meant that the machines would soon have become ‘bogged down’ therefore they had never gone into action.

At 5-45am precisely the barrage heralding ‘Zero Hour’ and the beginning of the Battle of the Ancre had begun and the men of the Hull Brigade had gone forward into a thick fog, which by this time had shrouded the battlefield.

‘The two assaulting battalions 13TH and 12TH East Yorkshire, completed their assembly by mid night and pushed forward snipers and Lewis guns into No Mans Land to provide close support when the advance began. At 5-45am theYorkshiremen went forward steadily through the mist behind a good barrage, and reports soon showed that the German front line had been carried. It was, indeed, entered without difficulty through the remains of the wire, and the dug-outs were then bombed to good effect, the prisoners taken being from the 66TH Regiment.

In the remains of his support trench the enemy resisted stoutly with rifle and bomb, but was overcome by sheer hard fighting. On the right some of the 13TH East Yorkshire kept up with the barrage and reached the reserve line, where they held on in the vain hope of being reinforced. Only a few returned later in the day; the rest were overwhelmed. Bombing counter-attacks up the communication trenches leading back to Star Wood developed about 8am but the Yorkshiremen in possession of the German support trench stood to it grimly all morning, although bombs ran short and heavy losses were sustained.

German shellfire was now so heavy on No Man’s Land and the British front line that communication with the forward troops became well nigh impossible. Two companies of the 11TH East Yorkshire, moving forward to reinforce, were held up and carrying parties failed to get through. About 9-30am a German counter-attack in some force was made southwestward from Star Wood, but the machine gun group on the left flank opened effective fire and the attack melted away. This was the only attempt made to advance over the open’…[1]

The men from Hull had held out against impossible odds throughout the day and had beaten off numerous enemy counter attacks. On the Brigades right flank the attack by Third Division had also eventually come to standstill and at 5-25pm Fifth Corps had decided not to renew the divisions attack on Serre and as a result Fifth Corps had subsequently allowed the sorely tested 92ND Brigade to retire. The Official History again takes up the story;

‘Heavy losses had compelled the dogged Yorkshiremen to give up their footing in the enemy’s support line about 3pm and retire to his front trench. Here they were making a fresh stand whilst all the wounded who could be collected were passed back to the British line. After dark the final withdrawal began, the last two parties coming in about 9-30pm... [5]

A few days after their first taste of action the depleted ranks of the Thirteenth Battalion had mustered for the customary post battle ‘roll call’ where it had been found that six officers had been killed and a further six were wounded [two of whom had later died of their wounds] and four had been captured. Of the ‘other ranks’, nearly four hundred had either been killed, wounded, or were missing. [The 12TH Battalion had suffered a total of 16 officers and 369 ‘other ranks’ killed, wounded, and missing]. Amongst those who had not answered their names was one soldier from Scarborough; 13/644 Sergeant Arthur Robinson.

As his regimental number illustrates Arthur Robinson had been the six hundredth and forty fourth volunteer who had accepted the King’s Shilling for the duration of the war in November 1914 into the then forming Fourth battalion of Hull Pals at Hull’s flag bedecked City Hall. Unlike the other three Battalions, who had recruited exclusively from the Commercial, Tradesman, and Sports fraternities of Hull, the Fourth had recruited regardless of class or trade and had taken on any able bodied man eager enough to join, because of this the Fourth Hull’s had always been considered inferior by ‘the nobs’ of the other three battalions and had been referred to rather disparagingly as T’others’.

The Hull Brigade [by then a part of 31ST Division] had eventually embarked early in December 1915 for service in Egypt as part of the Suez Canal Defence Force and had served in Number Three Section [Northern] with Headquarters in Port Said and advanced H.Q. at El Kantara. The Hull men had remained in Egypt until February 1916.

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