1917 ‘At all costs’ Monchy Le Preux

- Private George Arthur Hill
- Private George Ernest Colley
- Lance Corporal John Stanley Morrison

The British 37TH Division had, after vicious fighting, captured the important village of Monchy Le Preux on the 11TH of April and by the thirteenth the Third Army had captured some seven hundred prisoners and a hundred and twelve guns, suffering only 8,238 casualties. The successes of the opening days of the offensive however had been offset by the disaster that had befallen the Fifth Army’s attack on the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt, a village some nine miles south east of Arras. The decision for the Fifth Army to take a part in the Arras Offensive had been instigated by it’s Commander, General Sir Hubert Gough, who having heard of the successes of the First and Third Armies to the north had unwisely launched an ill prepared and planned attack on the village using the First ANZAC and Fifth Corps together with ten tanks.

After a false start on the tenth of April and despite the deplorable conditions underfoot and misgivings of the ANZAC, the attack had begun at 4-30am the next day. Some of the tanks blinded by a snowstorm had failed to reach the start line and the others had either broken down or had been hit by shellfire, as a result, men of the Australian Fourth Division had found themselves attacking the Hindenburg Line with no supporting barrage and with the German wire defences almost intact. Against all the odds the Australians had fought their way as far as the second line of trenches.

Despite repeated requests, direct artillery support was denied the Aussies due to misleading reports about the progress of the tanks. Marooned in the labyrinth of trenches in the Hindenburg Line, and increasingly subjected to enemy counter attacks the beleaguered Australians had been without reinforcements of men and ammunition owing to the intense fire put down by machine guns they had been driven from their dearly paid for positions.

The casualties at Bullecourt had been appalling; of the attacking formations the Fourth Australian Brigade alone had lost 2,258 men out of the 3,000 who had begun the operation. The Australians, who had been doubtful from the outset, had naturally been very bitter about the fiasco at Bullecourt and their trust in British Generalship had again been badly shaken, to put it mildly.

During the ensuing few days the French had launched their long awaited ‘mass of manoeuvre’ on the Aisne. Emboldened by Nivelle’s optimistic declarations and supported by 3,810 guns the soldiers of the Fifth and Sixth Armies had finally gone into action in an assault on a twenty five mile front on the sixteenth of April. The Germans, in possession of the French plans through captured documents, had been waiting. Their defences had been constructed on a new doctrine of lightly held forward positions with strong reserves in the rear in readiness to counter attack. The French had made some progress and by the 20TH had taken 20,000 prisoners and a hundred and forty seven guns, but they had not achieved the promised breakthrough. The French Government had lost confidence in the grandiose plans of Nivelle and By the 21ST of April his authority had been slipping away. On the 29TH of April the writing had been on the wall when Petain had been appointed Chief of the General Staff with extended powers that in effect had made him the French Governments chief military councillor.

Despite being almost exhausted by colossal casualties the French had mounted further attacks on the fourth and fifth of May. The Sixth Army had gouged a hole in the German held salient near Laffaux and in addition had captured the German defences along the two and a half mile front on the Chemis des Dames, non of which had saved Nivelle. By this time the French had been almost on their knees having suffered over 187,000 casualties, as signs of mutiny by a disillusioned army had become increasingly apparent he had been removed from command on the fifteenth of May. The disappointing start to the French offensive had inevitably made the prolongation of the B.E.F.’s offensive at Arras all the more necessary in order to divert German attention away from the Aisne.

Whilst the French had been shedding their blood to the south, north of the Scarpe the British had temporarily suspended their offensive. However, on St George’s Day, Monday the twenty third of April their offensive had been rekindled. This new offensive [later named the Second Battle of the Scarpe] had developed into some of the fiercest and bloodiest fighting that had been experienced throughout the whole of the war thus far.

Amongst the units who had taken to the sodden field of battle on the twenty third had been the Territorial’s of the Fifth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment [150TH Brigade, 50TH [Northumbrian] Division], which had received it’s ‘baptism of fire’ exactly two years previously in Flanders during the Battle of St Julien, where, little more than patriotic amateurs the Yorkshiremen had gone into action armed with enthusiasm and antiquated weapons, nonetheless, the men had acquitted themselves to such an extent that they had acquired the nickname of ‘The Yorkshire Gurkha’s’. Two years later the surviving band of men had been seasoned veterans of two years of trench fighting on the Western Front.

During the early hours of the 23RD the men of Fiftieth Division had assembled in positions which had been dearly paid for some days before which had stretched between a ruined tower at Wancourt to a small lake in the Conjeul Valley, between the villages of Wancourt and Guemappe. For the attack the Fifth Yorks [with 5TH Durham Light Infantry] had been in support to the Fourth Battalion’s of the East Yorkshire and Yorkshire Regiments, who would spearhead the assault. The Division’s objectives had been the capture [with the assistance of two tanks] of enemy positions which had ran south of the Vis en Artois to Heninel and Cherisy to Guemappe crossroads [the Blue Line], followed by the taking of a similar network of positions five hundred yards west of the northern edge of the village of Cherisy to the river Cojeul at St Rohart Factory [the Red Line].

Promptly at 4-45 during the morning of the twenty third, eighty-four 18 pounder field guns and thirty howitzers had begun to bombard the German positions on the high ground north west of Cherisy. This had drawn heavy enemy counter fire that had caused many casualties amongst the men huddled in their assembly trenches. Nonetheless, the two spearhead battalions had ‘gone over the bags’ as planned. Within a hundred yards of the start line disaster had befallen the East Yorkshires when they had ran into the British supporting barrage, which had been moving too slowly. Again serious casualties had been sustained including every officer and non commissioned officer in the flank companies, who had either been killed, or wounded.

Despite these setbacks all the objectives had been reached by 5.25am, and the surviving men had begun to consolidate their newly won possessions. Later in the day however, the Germans had launched a savage counter attack which had necessitated the bringing forward of the supporting two battalions to reinforce the by then decimated leading battalions. The four battalions of 150TH Brigade had eventually been surrounded and in danger of total annihilation until the order had been given to retire, this had evidently been carried out in good order under the command of junior N.C.O.’s due to the large number of casualties sustained. By 11-30am the exhausted attackers had been back at the original start line.

Later in the afternoon Allenby had telegrammed that the Blue Line ‘must be taken that day at all costs’, although the four battalions of the 150TH Brigade could barely muster one full battalion between them, the attack had been renewed. On the second attempt the 1ST/5TH Border Regiment and 1ST/9TH Durham Light Infantry had been thrown into the fray supported by the remnants of the Fifth Yorks, and Fifth D.L.I., which according to the Official History had been the only two battalions of 150TH Brigade ‘which could muster more than small parties of weary men’

The British artillery had laid on a barrage similar to the mornings bombardment, shortly afterwards the men of Fiftieth Division had made their advance. ‘This time, according to the Official History;

The steadiness and determination of the advance proved too much for the enemy. He was wearied out and beaten after a long ‘slogging match’. Parties of his infantry surrendered freely, while others retreated under fire’…

The cost of the days fighting had been enormous. The 4TH East Yorkshire had suffered three hundred and sixty nine casualties; the Fourth Yorkshire Regiment had three hundred and sixty three casualties [including Captain David Hirsch, who had been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions during the day, he had been killed towards the end of the day’s fighting]. The Fifth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had fared little better. Three officers and sixteen men had been killed, or had died of wounds, three officers and a hundred and eighteen men had been wounded, while a further two officers [later reported as killed] and fifty five non commissioned officers and men were listed as missing, amongst these had been the twenty years old; 240187 Private George Arthur Hill.

Born in the City of York at No.24 Price Street on the 29TH of October 1896, George had been the only son of Isabel [formerly Venebles] and railway fireman Robert Hill. The Hill family had arrived in Scarborough during 1908, by this time the forty years old Robert Hill had been promoted by the North Eastern Railway Company to engine driver and had taken up residence in the town at the railway company owned No.5 Locomotive Cottages, in Londesborough Road. At the age of twelve George had become an errand boy for the Scarborough Gas Company based at their showroom at No.32 Westborough, and had remained with the company until the outbreak of war. [1]

Although a Private in the original Scarborough based First/ Fifth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war [Service Number 1413], Hill had been amongst a number of the younger men of the battalion who had been under age for active service when the unit had been put on a war footing on the fourth of August 1914 and had been amongst a number of officers and men who had formed, during September, the Second Line, 2ND/5TH Battalion [a photograph of a trio of soldiers from the unit, including George Hill, had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Pictorial’ of Wednesday the 26th of May 1915].

Originally intended for Home Service, the Battalion’s Headquarters had at first been housed in Scarborough’s Grand Hotel, however, during November the formation, including Hill, had moved to Darlington, where the men had been billeted in local schools, the officers in the King’s Head Hotel. During April 1915[by which time the original 1/5 Battalion had begun their journey to France] the battalion had moved into camp at Benton, near Newcastle where they had continued to train for war. Whilst at Benton the unit had been divided into two separate parts. One half of the Battalion had been formed into a Provisional unit whilst the other, consisting of medically graded A.1 men, had formed a unit that had been intended for active service.

Meanwhile, the original First/Fifth Battalion had gone into action on the twenty third of April and had received heavy casualties in the Battle of St Julien and the ensuing Second Battle of Ypres. Inevitably the men considered fit enough for active service had been sent abroad to join the depleted parent Battalion, included in the draft had been Private Hill, who by this time had been eligible [18years] for service abroad. He had joined the by then battle hardened battalion in Flanders during May 1915.

Hill had spent the ensuing year in the mud and despair of the trenches in the area of Ypres. Whilst there, although the Fifth Battalion had not been involved in any major operations, the front line here had nevertheless been a hazardous place to exist. A survivor of those days’s in Flanders had laconically recorded;

’Shelling, mortaring, machine gun fire, and sniping occurred at all times of the day and night: no part of the line was ever free from one or the other. Patrol work was assiduous: casualties were sometimes heavy and, at other times extremely light. But generally speaking there were no untoward incidents and those months spent in the trenches at Ypres may be written down as quiet’…

On the 10TH of September 1916 the Fiftieth Division had begun to move inescapably southwards towards the meat grinder of the Somme Offensive. The formation had eventually relieved the Fifteenth Division in Mametz Wood, where they had made their preparations to take part in the Third Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Flers/ Courcelette, which had lasted from the fifteenth to the twenty second of September.

On the opening day of the Battle the three battalions of the150TH Brigade [4TH East Yorks, 4TH, and 5TH Yorks] with the assistance of two tanks, had been tasked with the capture of Martinpuich. The attack on the village had begun at 6.30am on the sixteenth of September; the Brigade had reportedly secured all it’s objectives with very little loss until the Germans had opened a heavy retaliatory bombardment on their recently lost positions that had resulted in grievous losses amongst the Yorkshiremen. The History of the Regiment records;

‘The 5TH Battalion with the 4TH, reached its objective and clung to it under very heavy shelling, but when relieved early on the morning of the 19TH by a Brigade of the 23RD Division and withdrawn into Divisional Reserve, the 5TH had had four officers and forty eight other ranks killed, eleven officers and one hundred and sixty two non commissioned officers and men wounded, and twenty seven men missing [later listed as killed in action], a total of two hundred and fifty two casualties’[2]

Fortunate to have survived the Maritnpuich ‘push’, Hill had once again seen action on the Somme during the Battle of Morval [25-28 September] when the Fifth and Fourth battalion’s had attacked a trench system running from the village of Eaucourt L’ Abbaye. On that the two battalion’s had again achieved their objectives only to find that a flanking attack by the First Division had not gone ahead. Without the support of First Division the Yorkshiremen had encountered heavy enemy counter attacks from their front and both sides that had eventually forced them to withdraw from their hard earned possessions. This operation had cost the Fifth another four officers and seventy other ranks wounded, and four men killed.

Exhausted by this time, the Fifth Battalion had returned to Mametz Wood on the twenty ninth to ‘refit and reorganise’, in other words wait for reinforcements. By the onset of October 1916 the Battalion had been training near Baizieux, on the eleventh the unit had again been moved to Mametz Wood, where they had been put to work repairing roads, a task which the History of the Regiment describes as;

‘A job of work which was not as safe as it sounds, since over sixty casualties were incurred while engaged upon it’…

Private Hill had arrived with the Fifth Battalion in the Arras Sector during March 1917 when the unit had taken up residence in the village of Bayonvillers. Up until the 11TH of April the formation had been in Corps Reserve near Arras. On the 20TH of April Hill and his comrades had been sent to the front to occupy a position known as ‘Nepal Trench’, from here on the twenty third he had gone into action for the last time.

Robert and Isobel Hill had initially been informed by the War Office that their son had been wounded in action on the twenty third, however, they hd subsequently received another telegram from the military stating he was also missing. The news had been included in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the eighth of June;

‘Wounded man now reported missing - Mr. And Mrs. Hill, 5 Locomotive Cottages, Londesborough Road, have been informed by the War Office that their only son, G.A. Hill, Yorkshire Regiment, Lewis Gun Section, previously reported wounded, is now reported missing since 23rd April. He is about 20 years of age, and single’…

Two weeks later the Hill’s had received the news that they had been dreading and ‘The Scarborough Mercury’, Friday June 22nd 1917 had duly reported;

‘Missing man now reported killed - Mr. And Mrs. Hill 5, Locomotive Cottages, Londesborough Road, have now been informed from the War Office that their only son, George Arthur Hill, Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on April 23rd. He was about 20 years of age, and was formerly employed at the Gas Office, Westborough. He joined the Yorkshire Regiment previous to the outbreak of the war. We announced some time ago that he was missing’…

Despite numerous searches during and after the war no identifiable remains of George Arthur Hill were ever found, and his name had eventually been included on the Arras Memorial, situated in the city of Arras, which commemorates over thirty five thousand British, South African, and New Zealand casualties who had lost their lives in the fighting nearby between the spring of 1916 and the seventh of August 1918 for whom there is no known grave, [George’s name is listed in Bay 5 of the memorial].

A former member of the congregation of St James’s Church in Seamer Road, George Arthur Hill’s name can be found inscribed on the church oak ‘Rood Screen’ War Memorial which bears the names of fifty five men, women, and children of the church who had lost their lives as a result of the war.

In addition, George’s name can be located on a gravestone in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery [Section K, Row 5, Grave11], which also bears the name of his Yorkshire born mother Isobel Hill, who had passed away at her home in Locomotive Cottages at the age of forty seven years just two years after the death of her son, on the 21st of September 1919. Also included on the stone is the name of George’s elder sister, Gladys May Hill, the wife of Arthur William Cuthbert and mother of Billy, Arthur, Margaret, and Derek, who had died at her home at No.7 Fieldside, Northstead, on Saturday the 21st of October 1972, at the age of seventy six years. Her husband had subsequently passed away on Tuesday the twelfth of February 1985 at the age of eighty-nine years; he is also commemorated on the stone. George’s Lincolnshire born [in 1868] father, Robert Hill, had continued to live at No.5 Locomotive Cottages until the early 1930’s when his name disappears from Scarborough’s Electoral Rolls. By this time the author is led to believe that he may have remarried [wife’s name Mary], however, I have no evidence to corroborate this. As far as can be gathered he had not died in the town, therefore it must be assumed that he had left Scarborough at this time.

Amongst the many men of Fiftieth Division who had been wounded in the fighting of the twenty third of April had been a grievously injured Scarborough born Private, who had been transported to one of the many Base Hospitals that had been congregated around the city of Rouen. The soldier had unfortunately succumbed to his wounds in No.11 Stationary Hospital during Wednesday the 2ND of May 1917 at the age of twenty four years; 325633 Private George Ernest Colley.

Born at No.17 Wooler Street during 1893, George had been the youngest son of Annie Elizabeth and George Hackney Colley, a self-employed bricklayer. A pupil of the nearby Gladstone Road Infant and Junior school from the age of four, George had left the institution at the age of thirteen to begin work as an errand boy in the accounts department of Scarborough’s Town Hall, situated in St Nicholas Street, where he had been employed at the outbreak of war in August 1914 [the family by this time had been living at No.62 Prospect Road]. [3]

Colley had enlisted into the Army at the Recruiting Office in St Nicholas Street towards the end of 1915 and had eventually, like Private Hill been posted to a Territorial Force Second Line unit, the 2ND/9TH Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, which at the time had formed part of the 190TH [2ND/1ST D.L.I.] Brigade of the original 63RD
[2ND Northumbrian] Division [the divisional number had later [1916] been allocated to the Royal Naval Division] which had been stationed in the North East of England on coastal defence duties.

Colley had remained in England until September 1916 when he had been included in a draft of replacements for battle casualties that had been incurred by the 1ST/9TH Battalion D.L.I. during the fighting at Flers/Courcelette. The battalion [and the remainder of 50TH Division] had moved to the Arras Sector during March 1917. Here it had soon [April 12TH] become embroiled in fierce fighting for possession of a valuable ridge in front of the village of Wancourt, known as ‘Wancourt Tower Hill’. Here Colley had received his ‘baptism of fire’ in an action described in the British Official History;

‘The 50TH Division [Major General P.S. Wilkinson] had relieved the 14TH [Division] in difficult circumstances, while the latter was in the act of surrounding Wancourt and crossing the Cojeul. Brigadier General N.J.G.Cameron , commanding the 151ST Brigade, pushed forward the 9/Durham Light Infantry, with orders to establish itself from Wancourt Tower northward to the Cojuel. It did reach a point a little north of the tower, but heavy and accurate machine gun fire up the valley prevented progress on the left’…

Having received heavy casualties during the attack the 191ST Brigade had been relieved during the night of 14TH/15TH April to move back into support whilst the remainder of 50TH Division had continued the battle, [which by the 26TH of April had cost the Division over two thousand casualties].

The Colley’s had received a telegram from the War Office at the beginning of May stating that their son had been wounded in action on the twenty third of April, the news had subsequently been included in a lengthy casualty list which had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the fourth of May, two days after he had died in France;

‘One of four soldier son’s wounded - News has been received that Private George Ernest Colley, Durham Light Infantry, youngest son of Mr. George Colley, builder, and Mrs. Colley, 60 Prospect Road, has been wounded- a gunshot wound in the hip. He is one of four brothers-all the lads of the family-serving, and before enlisting he was engaged in the Borough Accountant’s office’

The family had received news of George’s death the following week, the ‘Mercury’ of Friday the eleventh of May had reported;

‘Died of Wounds - On Monday we [The Scarborough Evening News] reported that Private George Ernest Colley, Durham Light Infantry, the youngest son of Mr. George Colley, builder, and Mrs. Colley, 60 Prospect Road, had been wounded—a gunshot wound in the hip.

The parents, unfortunately, have now received the sad news that he has died from wounds received. Private Colley was one of four brothers—all the lads of the family serving, and before enlisting he was engaged in the Borough Accountants office. He was 24 years of age and single’
[Although the above articles mention four sons of the Colley’s had served in the war, as far as the author is aware the Colley’s had been the parents of three sons, Charlie, born in 1889, Sidney 1891, and Ernest 1893. Neither the 1891, nor the 1901 Census list the name of a fourth son].

The remains of George Colley had eventually been transported to St Sever Cemetery Extension situated on the southern outskirts of Rouen where they had been buried in Section P.I.D. 2B. [From late 1916 until the end of the war the Cemetery had been the burial ground for over a dozen hospitals that had been situated nearby, and contains the graves of over 8,500 casualties of the Great War, [and three hundred from World War Two]].

In Scarborough, apart from the War Memorial, George Colley’s name is commemorated on a now [2004] broken gravestone in the town’s Manor Road Cemetery [Section L, Border, B, Grave16]. The stone, bearing the regimental crest of the Durham Light Infantry, also carries the name of George’s Seamer born mother Annie Elizabeth Colley, who had passed away at No.60 Prospect Road on Sunday the twelth of April 1931 at the age of seventy-two years. Also included on the stone is the name of Scarborough born George Hackney Colley who had died on Thursday the fourteenth of July 1955, at the age of 95 years. He had been buried in the grave in Manor Road during the afternoon of Monday the eighteenth following a service at Gladstone Road Primitive Methodist Chapel. [Demolished during the late 1960’s the site of the Chapel now [2004] forms part of Brook Street car park]. For many years George Colley had lived at No. 60 Prospect Road with his eldest daughter, Edith Mary, she had died in Scarborough at the age of 76 years on the 16TH of November 1966. Her cremated remains had subsequently been buried with her parents in Manor Road Cemetery

A former pupil of Gladstone Road School George Colley’s name had been included on the School’s ‘Roll of Honour’, which had been erected in the Junior School hall during the post war years. The brass plaque listing over seventy former pupils who had lost their lives during the Great War is to be found where it had originally been placed almost ninety years ago.

The day after the death of Private Colley the B.E.F. had launched the last major ‘push’ of the Arras Offensive. Later named the Third Battle of the Scarpe, the ill conceived offensive had begun some days before with the saturation by British artillery of the enemy’s positions with High Explosive and Lachrymatory Gas shells. A top priority of the artillery had been the by then notorious killing ground in and around the village of Rouex and its equally notorious Chemical Works, objective which had been expected to be in British hands earlier in the battle. The defenders of Rouex had held on to their village with tenacity despite repeated assaults by some of the best infantry units in the British Army, whose many hundreds of bodies littering the ground by the beginning of May had been a stark testimony to the ferocity of the fighting and the incredible amount of troops the British High Command had been prepared to sacrifice to take the most evil of places.

Zero Hour for the assault had been set for 3-45 on the morning of Thursday the third of May, at the appointed hour the three British armies [First, Third, and Fifth] fielding fourteen battle weary and sorely depleted Divisions [some battalions could barely muster 200 men] had gone over the top on a sixteen mile frontage in complete darkness and had gone forward towards the enemy’s well prepared positions which had been manned by relatively fresh troops. The operation had been doomed to fail from the start, with little advance preparation [some units had not received their orders of attack until an hour before Zero] many of the units had been unfamiliar with the terrain, this compounded by the darkness, uncut wire, and heavy enemy machine gun fire had created a state of unparalleled confusion which had later been described by many as ‘a total balls up’.

Amongst the units of Third Army which had taken part in the assault had been Fourth Division’s Tenth Brigade, which had sent five Regular Army battalions into action, First Somerset Light Infantry, First Royal Irish Fusiliers, First Seaforth Highlanders, 2ND Royal Warwickshire, and the Household Battalion, a unique infantry battalion composed of officers and men from the reserve regiments of Household Cavalry and volunteers drawn from the First, and Second Life Guards, and the Royal Horse Guards.

Faced with the virtually impossible task of capturing Rouex the attacking battalions had come to grief almost straight away. The History of the Household Battalion says;

‘At zero hour 3.45am, the darkness was increased by a heavy smoke barrage, and to maintain direction was next to impossible. The attacking troops plunged forward and were lost to view. The first wounded brought the report to Battalion H.Q. that while one or two parties had crossed the Roeux—Gavrelle road the greater number had been held up by intense machine gun fire in front of the cemetery; the Somerset Light Infantry, attacking a few minutes later and a little more to the right, had made little but headway. The proposed formation of the right defensive flank which was to await the advance, was deleted by the arrest of the Somersets, and at 5-30am the new came back that the one remaining officer in the line, Second Lieutenant Barker, had been forced to withdraw as best he could from the original front line. Reinforcements were sent up, and a small patch of captured ground was consolidated, but a party of some fifty men of the Brigade, reported to be holding out on the road, was cut off entirely. A German counter attack near the cemetery was dispersed by our artillery in the afternoon, and after dusk, stray parties of the Battalion crept in from No man’s Land’…[4]

The following day the remnants of the Household Battalion had been paraded for the customary post battle roll call, were it had been found that the unit had suffered over two hundred and thirty casualties in the attack, most of which had been caused by the enemy’s intense enemy machine gun fire. Amongst the dead had been a twenty years old former Scarborough tram conductor; 187 Lance Corporal John Stanley Morrison.

Born in Scarborough on the 8TH of August 1896 at No.22 Britannia Street, John had been the only son of Rachel Alice, and John Herbert Morrison, a Joiner/Carpenter by trade [Rachel A. Jackson and John H. Morrison had been married at St Mary’s Parish Church on the 22ND of December 1894]. Initially educated at the Central Board School in Scarborough’s Trafalgar Street West [the site in 2004 is occupied by Genevieve Court], at the age of twelve John had won a scholarship to the town’s Municipal School the equivalent of today’s comprehensive school, which had been situated in Westwood, and is now part of the Campus of Yorkshire Coast College. John had remained at the ‘Muni’ until 1908, when he had left the institution to become an errand boy in the Scalby Road depot of the Scarborough Tram Company. [5]

As the clouds of war had begun to waft across Europe in the summer of 1914, the eighteen years old Morrison had been living with his parents at No.6 Marlborough Street. Britain had eventually declared war on the Germans at 11pm on the fourth of August and by the end of September over 300,000 men between the ages of nineteen and thirty had responded to the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, plea for a hundred thousand recruits for Britain’s ‘New Armies’. Morrison had responded to the call on the twelfth of October [a photograph of Private Morrison had appeared in the ‘Scarborough Pictorial’ of December 2ND 1914] by enlisting for three years, or the duration of the war, at Scarborough’s Recruiting Office in St Nicholas Street, into the Royal Horse Guards [‘The Blues’]. At the time that he had accepted the King’s Shilling, Morrison had stood at five feet ten inches, had had a ‘healthy’ complexion, dark brown hair, and grey eyes, and had possessed ‘no visible impediments’.

Following his enlistment, Morrison had been sent to Combermere Barracks, the Household Cavalry’s Depot at Windsor, in the Royal County of Berkshire. Whilst there he had been issued with a uniform, and all the paraphernalia that went with soldiering in one of Britain’s most prestigious cavalry regiments, in addition, he had been issued with the Regimental Number 1835, and eventually, and most importantly for a cavalryman, a horse. Whilst at Windsor Morrison’s day had begun at six in the morning and had ended at six at night, in between his time had been spent in a seemingly endless round of foot drill, gymnastics, cleaning stables, and riding drill, without any appreciable breaks for rest. In addition, he had endured countless hours of bellowing and chivvying from fearsome moustachioed instructors in the depots notorious Riding School, where he began acquiring the equestrian skills required of a Household Cavalryman. For a good number of weeks he had learned to ride without a saddle, even longer without stirrups. The chief aim of the instructors had seemingly not been to give the recruit confidence, rather as many falls as possible.

Being in the Household Cavalry had, nonetheless, had its benefits. Paid the princely sum of one shilling and ninepence a day, this had been twopence more than a ‘donkey walloper’ [private] in the Cavalry of the Line, and ninepence better off than a shilling a day private in the infantry [a private in the Foot Guards had been paid one shilling and two pence a day].

After six months of gruelling training Morrison had been deemed fit enough to join one of His Majesty’s Squadrons of Royal Horse Guards and had duly been posted to Knightsbridge Barracks in London, where he had undergone further training whilst waiting for a draft to the regiment, which had been serving with the 8TH Cavalry Brigade, of the 3RD Cavalry Division in Northern France.

Attached to the Indian Corps for the Loos operations during the autumn of 1915, the Third Cavalry Division had been held in reserve in readiness to follow up and exploit any gaps, which had been made between the villages of Hulluch and Loos. The expected breakthrough had never materialised, and Morrison and his comrades had merely ‘stood by’ as the disastrous campaign had unfolded before them. Nonetheless, the day after the opening of the battle, the men of Third Dragoon Guards, and Royal Dragoons, from 6TH Cavalry Brigade had gone forward on foot armed with rifles and bayonets into the village of Loos to take over a tenuous line, which had been established by the Third Division. This had been the only part to be played by the cavalry at Loos.

Morrison had remained on the Western Front until the seventh of June 1916, when he had been sent to England and spell of leave at Scarborough. Following this respite from the war Morrison had reported to Knightsbridge Barracks with the expectation of returning to France. He had been stationed there when the order had been received to form the Household Battalion. He had transferred to the unit on the 28TH of August 1916.

The formation of a Household Battalion had been instigated by the Chief of the Imperial Staff, General Sir William ‘Wully’ Robertson, as a means of utilising the many ’aspirants to military fame’ who had, by 1916, still besieged Knightsbridge and Windsor Barracks in the hope of joining the Household Cavalry, the supply of these men far outstripping the horses available to mount them. Being the Sovereign’s personal mounted bodyguard, the idea had been submitted to King George the Fifth for his approval, the King had found favour with the notion, duly, on the 30TH of August 1916 the order had gone out to the Officer Commanding the Reserve Regiments;

The training of the battalion had begun at the beginning of September 1916. Essentially cavalrymen at heart, the men had nonetheless adapted quickly to the ways and tactics of the infantryman. Sent to the Brigade of Guards musketry training ranges at Pirbright, the cavalrymen had soon mastered the British Army’s standard fire rate of fifteen accurately shots per minute, the intricacies of foot drill, and bayonet drill, the latter to such an extent that shortly after their arrival in France the battalion had been placed second in a Divisional bayonet fighting competition.

By late October the Household Battalion had been deemed fit to begin their embarkation for France. On the twentieth of the month the unit had been paraded in London’s Hyde Park, where King George had taken the salute as the spit polished and brass gleaming unit had marched past to the strains of the Household Cavalry’s mounted band.

Captain Portal had taken his command aboard during the eighth and ninth of November 1916, and had eventually joined the Tenth Brigade of the Fourth Division on the Somme at the beginning of December. On the eighth of the month the battalion had entered the trenches for the first time on the Combles—Priey front. Initially under the wing of the veteran First Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, two days later the Household Battalion had taken over the line from the Warwicks. The conditions in the trenches had by this time been appalling;

‘The Somme mud was now in all it’s richness, and on the way up to the communication trenches forty men had to be dug out. In the line itself it was almost impossible to move, and part of the system had to held in posts, the men being often so exhausted that they had to be sent back in buses when their tour was over’…The line was fairly quiet, but it’s conditions were atrocious, and friend and foe were too busy in improving the trenches to trouble each other beyond a few occasional quuasi-courtesy shots. The trenches themselves were broken down, and in many places unprotected by wire, and in the absence of communication trenches, reliefs had to be carried out above ground; whale oil, massage, and a continual flow of dry socks were impotent to prevent constant cases of trench feet’… [4]

Despite this ‘fairly quiet’ period, the war had inexorably taken its toll; in the first week alone the battalion had incurred nine casualties to enemy snipers. By mid January 1917 the unit had still been ‘on the Somme’ in the Bouchavesnes Sector, by which time it’s total trench strength had been reduced to just 276 men, including bandsmen and servants.

During early March 1917 the Fourth Division had been moved northwards to the Arras Sector in preparation for the forthcoming spring offensive. Attached to the Seventeenth Corps of Third Army, the Household Battalion had been located to the east of Arras near the village of Athies, where, on the twenty sixth of March Morrison had been promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.

The Battle of Arras had duly begun on the ninth of April. Two days later the Fourth Division had been tasked with ‘passing through the Ninth Division, seize the German second line and the village of Fampoux, and sit down in the Green Line’. Despite driving snow the attack had been launched as planned. The Official History describes;

All three infantry brigades took part in the attack, but the role of the 11TH was mainly to form a flank from the inn to Hyderabad Redoubt. The 12TH Brigade on the right, which had as its first objective the village of Roeux, the cemetery, and the chateau south of the Chemical Works, was allotted for assembly the ground south of the Fampoux-Plouvain road. The front of the division was a very cramped one on which to form up, being less than 1,500 yards long, whereas the first objective, from the Scarpe at Rouex to the inn measured nearly twice as much. The right, the 1ST King’s Own [Regiment] with two companies of the 2ND Lancashire Fusiliers, had, moreover, to follow a circuitous route in order to avoid to avoid the marshes on the river bank. In consequence, the barrage was lost and the attack broke down’…[6]

Assembled in the road between Fampoux and Gavrelle, Morrison’s Tenth Brigade had been observed by enemy aircraft and had come under heavy enemy shellfire from the outset. Nonetheless, the assault had gone ahead. Advancing over more open ground than the Twelfth Brigade the formation had suffered far heavier losses, according to the Official History, ‘without achieving any greater success’. Despite this scathing comment Falls continues;

‘It was pressed with extraordinary gallantry and determination by the two first line battalions, the 1ST [Royal] Irish Fusiliers and 2ND Seaforth Highlanders, which went forward regardless of withering fire from the chateau, the Chemical Works, the station, and the embankment. One party of the fusiliers got to within two hundred yards of the station, and the better part of a company of the Seaforths reached a trench just west of the first objective, the Rouex-Gavrelle road. Isolated and having run out of ammunition and bombs, both attempted to withdraw, but for the most part were shot down. The second line battalions, the Household Battalion, and the 1ST Royal Warwickshire [Regiment], came under fire so heavy that they did not progress even as far as the troops through which they were to have passed’…

Following the repulse of 10TH Brigade, the attack by 11TH Brigade had been called off. The total casualties of Fourth Division had been over a thousand killed, wounded, and missing, [those of the Seaforth Highlanders had been twelve officers and three hundred and sixty three men out of the twelve officers and four hundred and twenty who had gone into action at the outset]. Despite having suffered four officers and a hundred and sixty six other ranks killed, wounded, and missing, the whole affair is dismissed in the Household Battalion’s War Diary with; ‘The Battalion carried out the scheme of work laid down’

Relieved on the twentieth of April, the Household Battalion had been withdrawn to await the arrival of reinforcements, following refitting and more training the battalion had returned to the front line to prepare for their next operation, which had begun on that fateful Thursday the third of May.

The telegram bearing the news of their son’s death had reached the Morrison’s at their home at No.6 Falconer’s Square on Monday the 21ST of May 1917, the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ of the following Friday had reported;

‘Local tram conductor killed - An intimation has been received from the War Office by his father, who resides at Falconer’s Square, that Corporal Stanley Morrison was killed in action on May 3RD 1917.Corporal Morrison joined the Royal Horse Guards [Blues] early in October 1914. He was sent out to France in August 1914 his first big battle was Loos. Later he was at Ypres, and also serving in France and Flanders for eleven months, he was drafted back to England for a short course in bayonet fighting and machine gun instruction. His regiment was then renamed the Household Battalion. After being inspected by the King in Hyde Park he was again sent out to France where the regiment has seen very heavy fighting. Previous to joining, Corporal Morrison was a conductor on the Scarborough trams and had been well known. He was only just 18years of age when he joined up and arrived in France before he was 19 years of age’…

Unknown to the British at the time, Roeux had been built over a labyrinth of interlinked caves and subways which had connected with the extremely strong fortifications above ground this, plus the tenacity of the villages defenders, had contributed to make Rouex one of the toughest nuts for the British to crack throughout the Arras Offensive. It had initially been envisaged that the village and its attendant Chemical Works would fall to the 9TH [Scottish] Division on the 12TH of April, this attack had been repulsed with huge casualties to the Scots, and so had a subsequent assault by the 51ST[Highland] Division, which had taken place on the 23RD of April.

Amongst the hundreds of British corpses littering the battlefield in and around Rouex, the remains of Corporal Morrison had eventually been recovered and buried in a cemetery located just outside the village on the road leading to the nearby village of Fampoux. Now containing the graves of over three hundred casualties of the Arras Offensive, this cemetery is now known as ‘Roeux British Cemetery’, and contains the graves of three hundred and fifties casualties of the fighting around Roeux including those of one officer and thirty nine other ranks of the Household Battalion. Morrison’s final resting place is located in Section A.Grave 3 [where his grave marker, for some unknown reason displays the cap badge of the Army Vetenary Corps and not the Household Battalion].

Although a former pupil of Scarborough’s Municipal School John Stanley Morrison’s name does not appear on the school ‘Roll of Honour’. nonetheless, his name is perpetuated in on a War Memorial in the town’s St. Saviours Church. Taking the form of an oak ‘Tryptich’ this memorial had been unveiled before a packed congregation during the evening of Monday the 24TH of April 1922 and contains the names of twenty two former members of the church that had lost their lives whilst on active service during the ‘Great War’ of 1914-1919 [following the Second World War a furhter eleven names had been added to this memorial]. John is also commemorated on a memorial in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery [Section L, Row 25, Grave35], which also bears the name of his mother, Rachel Alice Morrison, who had died suddenly at her home at No.38 Roscoe Street on Wednesday the 2ND of December 1931 at the age of fifty-nine years.

Also included on the memorial is the name of John’s father, John Herbert Morrison who had continued to live in Roscoe Street with daughters Gertrude Winifred, Isobel Margaret, Jessie Evelyn, and Alice Louisa [married name Hick] until the early 1940s.when he had moved to No.14b Moor Lane, Newby. the Master Builder had eventually died in Scarborough Hospital on Tuesday the 28TH of April 1953 at the age of eighty-one years. In addition to the above, the memorial also bears the name of John Stanley’s four years old nephew, Gordon Lambert Hick, the only child of sister Alice ‘Louie’, and Noel Hick, who had passed away on the 12TH of May 1933.

The Morrison’s had also included an epitaph to their lost son on the memorial in Manor Road - ’He nobly answered Kitchener’s call for men, September 1914. He sleeps not in his native land but neath the foreign skies, far from those who loved him best in a hero’s grave he lies’

Following the action at Rouex, Major General Lambton, the G.O.C. of 4TH Division, had reported of the battle directly to the King. Part of this report reads;

‘Your Majesty will be glad to hear that the Household Battalion did very well both on the 3RD when they attacked in the first wave and on the 11TH when they took Rouex Cemetery, a sort of Stronghold full of machine guns. Their dash and spirit has been all that I could wish and I think this success has thoroughly put them on their legs and they are now full of confidence and keen to fight. They were commanded by Major Kirkwood as Portal was away. I fear their losses have been heavy especially in officers [19 officers and 550 men]’[4]

The Household Battalion had remained in the Arras Sector until September 1917 when the Fourth Division had been moved to Flanders for the beginning of the proposed Third Battle of Ypres [Passchendeale]. Again the battalion had been sorely mauled during the ensuing fiasco in the mud of Flanders, by October 1917 few of the original members of the unit had remained. By this time the replacements for the battalion’s casualties had not come from the Household Cavalry and the writing had been on the wall indicating the disbandment of the unit. The order had arrived at Battalion Headquarters on the seventh of February and by the 16TH the disbandment of the Household Battalion had been completed. A number of the officers had been transferred to the Foot Guards, whilst the majority of the men had been returned to their respective cavalry regiments. [7]

[1] At the time of the 1901 Census of York’s population the Hill family had been living in the City at No.24 Price Street and had consisted of Robert, aged 33 years, Railway Engine Driver, born at Reepham, Lincolnshire. Isobel, aged 28 years, born Yorkshire. Ada J. aged 7 years, Gladys M. aged 6years, George A. aged 4 years, Blanche aged 2 years, and Clair aged 1 year. All the children were born at York.

[2] The History of the Green Howards in the Great War 1914-1918; Wylly.

[3] During the 1901 Census the Colley family had been living in Scarborough at
No.25 Livingstone Road and had consisted of George, aged forty one years, born at Scarborough, Annie, aged forty two years, born Seamer, North Yorkshire, Charles, aged twelve, twins Sidney and Edith aged ten, and Ernest aged eight years. All the children had been born at Scarborough.

[4] A short history of the Household Cavalry, Captain Sir George Arthur and Captain Shennan; Heinemann; 1926.

[5] At the time of the 1901 Census of Scarborough’s population the Morrison family had been residing at No.22 Britannia Street and had consisted of Joiner/Carpenter, John Henry, 29years old, Rachel Alice also aged 29 years, John Stanley, aged four years, and daughter Gertrude Alice, aged 2 years. All were born at Scarborough.

[6] Military Operations France and Belgium, Volume One, 1917. Captain Cyril Falls.

[7] Often cited as being amongst the finest body of men to serve on the Western Front during the war of 1914-18, the Household Battalion had, nonetheless, been virtually forgotten during the post war years. Thankfully during 2005 George William Harvey had produced a book entitled ‘The diary of a forgotten Battalion’ which includes this extract from Lambton’s report, and much more, hitherto unknown, information regarding the Battalion. It had once been stated that ‘The Battalion has fought nobly and has made a reputation that will live in history’, however, this had sadly not been the case. Nevertheless, thanks to the huge efforts of Mr Harvey, the memory of the Household Battalion and its magnificent band of men like Corporal John Stanley Morrison may endure a little longer before it once again vanishes into oblivion.

A few miles to the north of Rouex, in 1ST Army’s area of operations, had been the heavily fortified village of Oppy which had been defended on it’s western flank by an equally formidable wood, which by the third of May, had been a labyrinth of strong-points, and trench systems amidst a tangle of shell blasted and fallen trees;

‘The wood, in itself, was an admirable protection to the village, for it covered the latter from attack from the west. But in front of the wood was a well-organised system of trenches, well wired, with numerous communications [trenches], which covered Oppy from flanking attacks and practically enclosed both the wood and the village in a veritable maze of defences. The wood contained a large number of machine gun posts and all along the German front lines machine gun and mortars were well placed to repel any attack from the west. Moreover, Oppy Wood and village were held by German Guardsmen, some of the bravest of the enemy’s troops’[1]

The unenviable task of capturing the village had fallen to the ‘Hull Pals’ of the 92ND Brigade of the 31ST Division. Consisting of the 10TH, 11TH, 12TH, and 13TH Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment, the Brigade had relieved the 99TH Brigade of 2ND Division in front of Oppy during the night of the 30th/April/1st of May, with orders to attack the wood and village at about 4am on the third of May. At 11-30 pm on the second the three battalion’s had moved up in brilliant moonlight [a move which had been observed by the enemy] to their allotted assembly position, a ‘scrape, in the ground barely 250 yards from the German trenches, which according to the Battalion’s History had been little more than; ‘a map reference rather than an actuality, for the taping party of May 1st had found it to be merely an isolated untraversed length of trench barely four feet deep, with no communication to the rear, nor any means of contact to left or right’[1]

Whilst in their assembly position the men had made their final preparations for the forthcoming attack, and much more importantly, received their customary pre battle ration of treacle thick Army issue rum. Their moment of peace had however been broken when a German aircraft had flown over their position dropping flares amongst the assembled battalions. Furthermore, at around midnight an enemy patrol had been spotted, shortly after this [12-30], the enemy had begun a twenty-minute bombardment of the position, which had been renewed after a lull at 1-30am. This time the shelling had been more intense, and although few casualties had been incurred much confusion had been caused resulting in some platoons moving out of the way of the bombardment thus being in the wrong place at the launch of the assault.

At Zero Hour [3-45am] the British bombardment of the enemy’s positions had begun with a roar, timed to advance a hundred yards every four minutes, the barrage had encouraged the German artillery to reply with a vengeance, thus clouds of smoke and dust had added their pall to that of darkness thereby making it impossible for the troops to see a yard in front of them once the barrage had lifted from the enemy’s trenches. Nonetheless, with shells bursting all around them, the air whistling with machine gun and rifle bullets, and all the infernal din of the battlefield deafening their ears four waves of Hull men had disappeared into the clouds of smoke and dust towards Oppy Wood.

On the right of the assault had been the four companies of the Tenth Battalion. Former Hull school teacher Private J. Beeken of ‘C’Company describes;

‘We advanced to the attack, it was hell. Our shells were shrieking over us and bursting just in front. It was a creeping barrage advancing as we moved forward. The German shells were shrieking over us and bursting behind. Machine gun fire swept the whole front. Different coloured very light and rockets went up over the German lines’… [3]

Sorely decimated by the intense machine gun fire the survivors of the battalion had soon come across uncut wire, the men hacking at the entanglements with their spades and bayonets, some of the leaderless men [by this time the four company commanders had become casualties] had eventually been funnelled through the few gaps that had been made and had reached the enemy’s first line of trenches, Private Beeken says;

‘Although we were only about 100 yards from Oppy Wood I couldn’t se it, for a mist had descended. The fumes almost choked us and I had a splitting headache. As we walked on we saw a number of dead lying about. Eventually we met the sergeant major and his party who were lost. I was not surprised for we couldn’t see where we were going. All we could do was walk towards the lights’

In the struggle for the first line the barrage had been lost, and had been rolling far ahead by the time those small parties of the battalion had penetrated the front system. Impossible to advance further, or to consolidate the line, the survivors had withdrawn to their original assembly point, and to shell holes nearby where they had remained throughout the remainder of a day filled with the whine and explosion of bursting shells, and incessant machine gun fire.

Similar conditions had met the assault by the 11TH Battalion, in the centre of the attack. The leading companies of the battalion had followed about fifty yards behind the creeping barrage, but the dust, smoke and darkness, added to the blackness of Oppy Wood beyond had made it impossible to tell when the screen of fire had lifted from the German front line. Raked by intense machine gun fire from the wood and a withering rifle fire from the enemy trenches, ‘B’ Company, on the right of the advance had nonetheless gone on bravely. The first attack by the unit had been repulsed, but out in No Man’s Land, still under heavy fire, the men had been reformed by their officers and led forward once again. Once again ‘B’ Company had been beaten back, however, a solitary platoon from the company, under the command of 2ND Lieutenant John Harrison [already the holder of a Military Cross], had gone forward yet again.

The band of men had eventually negotiated three belts of thick wire only to be stopped by fire from a machine gun sited in the extreme southern corner of Oppy Wood. Ordering his men to shelter in shell holes, Harrison, carrying a grenade had gone forward alone under the covering fire of his men in an attempt to subdue the gun, he had almost reached it and had hurled his bomb at the German crew when his men had seen him fall face downwards, his task completed, the gun had never fired again. [Harrison had eventually [June 1917] been awarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross for his ‘Conspicuous bravery and self sacrifice’ in the attack].

Inspired by the deeds of their C.O., Harrison’s men had made one more attempt to get forward but finding themselves isolated the men had again taken cover in shell holes, staying there throughout the remainder of that terrible day, to return to the Battalion’s original start line at nightfall. Despite a veritable hail of machine gun and rifle fire, the first and second waves of the 11TH ‘s ‘C’ Company had got into Oppy Wood and had penetrated as far as the outskirts of the village only to be cut off, at which point some of the men had been killed, the remainder taken prisoner.

The 12TH Battalion, on the right of the attack, had fared little better. The first wave of the right company had fought their way into the enemy’s strongly held front line trench, the following second wave had also gained a footing but had been forced to withdraw, the first wave, fighting ferociously had also eventually been forced to relinquish it’s tenuous hold and forced to beat a retreat. The centre company had also entered the enemy’s front line, but heavy counter attacks, in which hand grenades had been ‘freely used’ coming from the direction of the Wood and a nearby sunken road had forced this unit also to beat a retreat. The left company, despite suffering a number of casualties, including it’s commanding officer, during the barrage before Zero Hour had also gained a footing in the enemy’s front line, but heavy counter attacks had forced the Hull men to relinquish their hold and they too had been driven back the way they had gone.

The tattered remnants of the three battalions had made their way back to the original assembly point in front of Oppy Wood throughout the remainder of the 3RD. With the onset of darkness they had been joined by the men who had been sheltering in ‘No Man’s Land throughout the day, amongst them had been Private Beeken, who had been with a group of men huddled in one of the many shell craters;

‘There was always the possibility of the Germans coming forward so we kept a sharp lookout. We had plenty of excitement during the day for a sniper would persist in firing into our shell hole. He must have been in a tree but we couldn’t see him. It turned out to be a very fine day but it was very hot. Aeroplanes of both sides flew over us and of course the guns blazed away at them…At 5pm after having something to eat I was hit in the shoulder by a piece of shrapnel from the German guns firing at one of our aeroplanes. At 9pm we set off and eventually reached the scarcely recognisable trench of our company and then started to dig in. Many wounded men came to our trench and all the time Fritz kept up his shelling’…

During the following day the survivors of the 10TH Battalion had been assembled for the customary post battle ‘Roll Call’, which had found that of the sixteen officers and four hundred and eighty four other ranks who had gone into action the previous day, fifteen officers and two hundred and twenty three men had either been killed, wounded, or were ‘missing’. Amongst the four killed, seven wounded, two died from wounds, and a further three missing officers had been ‘A’ Company’s twenty-six years old Officer Commanding; Captain James Carlton Addy, Military Cross.

Born in the West Riding of Yorkshire at Hodroyd Hall, situated between the hamlets of Felkirk and South Hiendley, on the 19TH of October 1890, James had been the eldest son [brother Roland had been born on the 13TH of October 1891] of Mary [late Hammond, formerly Holloway] and James Jenkin Addy, the manager of the nearby Carlton Main Colliery.

The Addy family had arrived in Scarborough during 1902 and had taken up residence in the town in the well-heeled South Cliff area, at ‘Carlton’, No.9 Esplanade Crescent [at that time, in addition to this house, the Addy’s had also had a residence at ‘Osbourne House’ at Monk Bretton, a hamlet in South Yorkshire, situated a couple of miles outside Barnsley]. During the summer term of the year the two boys, then aged twelve and eleven, had become boarders at Mr Samuel Servington Savery’s ‘Bramcote Lodge’ Preparatory in Filey Road.

Addy’s ‘major’ and ‘minor’ had remained at Bramcote until the end of the Summer Term of 1905, when they had left the school to continue their studies at Shrewsbury Public School, in Shropshire. Members of a house named ‘Pickering’s’[now Churchill’s], by October 1905 James had been the House Captain of the second eleven football team, whilst brother Roland in ‘Remove Lower’ had been House Captain of the Third Eleven Football team, and Captain of the Second Eleven cricket team. James Addy had remained at Shrewsbury until the 22ND of June 1910 when he had been admitted as a ‘Pensioner’ to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had been a resident on ‘B’ Staircase in New Court. During April 1913 Addy had been awarded a Batchelor of Arts Degree in History [Parts1 and 2] and had eventually ‘gone down’ from Trinity during June 1913.


With reference to your website article headed Monchy Le Preux,within WW1 history, i would like to bring to your attention a correction to your text as follows:

"[Although the above articles mention four sons of the Colley’s had served in the war, as far as the author is aware the Colley’s had been the parents of three sons, Charlie, born in 1889, Sidney 1891, and Ernest 1893. Neither the 1891, nor the 1901 Census list the name of a fourth son]."

There were in fact 4 sons as stated. The fourth son is William Henry Colley, born 1985, died 1946. I am informed by his grandaughter, Lisa Anne Colley, that in the 1901 census, he was listed as Harry Colley and was included on the census return of his grandparents, because he was sleeping there on the night of the census return. William Henry Colley subsequently lived and died while living at 55 Prospect Road, which is directly opposite to the home of his father George Hackney Colley, who lived at 60 Prospect Road. Incidentally, William Henry Colley named his only son, George Ernest Colley, no doubt in recognition of his deceased brother.

I would like to thank you and your Trust, for providing and maintaining this most valuable historical record, which is so pertinent in the centenary year of the end of WW1

Thanks Brian Wilcox ( Grandson of William Henry Colley )

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