Grave in Beacon Cemetery of No 78227 Private Walter Stanley Woodcock 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) killed in action 8th August 1918 aged 18 years. Headstone bears inscription “Gone but never forgotten, Mother.” Son of Grace Emma Woodcock of 133 Oval Road East Croydon Surrey. Born Ealing, enlisted Whitehall, residence Croydon.
Bailleul Communal Cemetery and Extension, Nord. Bailleul is a large town in France near the Belgian border and on the main road from St. Omer to Lille. The Cemetery is on the Eastern outskirts of the town. Bailleul was occupied by the 19th Brigade nd the 4th Division and became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre with the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations quartered in the town for considerable periods. It was a corps headquarters until July 1917 when it was severely bombed and shelled, and after the Battle of Bailleul in April 1918 fell into German hands from the 15th April until retaken on the 30th August 1918 by the 25th Division. The earliest Commonwealth burials at Bailleul were made at the east end of the communal cemetery and the extension was opened in April 1915 and used until April 1918 and then again in September 1918. After the Armistice graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields. The Communal Cemetery records 586 U.K., 21 Can., 4 Ind., 1 French, 2 Belg., 8 German burials and 13 special memorials. The Extension records 3,411 U.K., 396 Aust., 290 Can., 252N.Z., 4 Ind., 3 B.W.I., 1 S.A., 1 Newfld., 1Guernsey, 31 Chin., 1 Russ., 3 French, 111 German burials and 11 special memorials.
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 2408 Private William Roberts 4th Royal Fusiliers shot 29th May 1916 for Desertion and Escaping. The 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers landed at Havre on the 13th August 1914 and Private Roberts joined the Battalion some 3 months later. At the end of May 1915 the Germans had possession following the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Gas Attack of Bellewarde Lake and established positions which left an uncomfortable sag in the Ypres salient which the 3rd Division was tasked with a local straightening. At 1.30 a.m. on the 16th June 1915 the 4th Royal Fusiliers were in position with in front of them a wood with a trench guarding its western end. After the artillery bombardment which began at 2.50 a.m. two companies were able to advance and capture the German front line without much resistance but the position was different on the right when the two supporting companies of the Battalion pushed through the wood to the trench on the bank of the lake, advancing too quickly for the British artillery and sustaining casualties. After considerable loss the companies withdrew to a communication trench which they held for the rest of the day under heavy artillery fire with gas shells being freely used by the enemy. At the end of the day only a small amount of ground remained in the Battalion’s hands and the losses had been heavy, 15 officers and 376 men becoming casualties. Private Roberts was one of the wounded being shot in the head. After treatment and a period of convalescence he rejoined the Battalion in September 1915 for the second attack on Bellewaarde designed as a subsidiary attack to seek to take pressure off the main British effort to the South at Loos. As part of the 3rd Division the Battalion was unable to make progress and again in the afternoon of 25th September was subjected to heavy German artillery fire on the position that had been captured followed by an advance of strong German bombing parties so the taken position perforce had to be abandoned. At some time Private Roberts left his comrades and went back some distance remaining away for some 8 months until he was arrested in the village of Brandhoek some 8 kilometres west of Ypres. Following his arrest Private Roberts was kept at Locre, a quiet village sheltered by Kemmel Hill in the rest areas of the Kemmel-Wyteschaete front. However on the 9th May he managed to escape but was soon re-arrested, standing trial on the 20th May 1916. Whilst his C.O. described him as a “good and plucky soldier” until his wounding in June 1915, he had apparently made other attempts to desert and had received a death sentence on the 25th May 1915 commuted to imprisonment. He was shot at Locre at 3.45 a.m. on the 29th May 1916 aged 34 years and buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension.
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 4521 Private George Wright 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died on the 9th August 1916. Private Wright is also commemorated on the Village War Memorial at Willey near Rugby, Warwickshire.
For circumstances see entry under Willey Village Memorial
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 17790 Lance Corporal William Alfred Moon 11th Cheshire Regiment shot aged 20 years on the 21st November 1916 for Desertion.
The Battalion landed in France on the 26th September 1915 as part of 75th Brigade in the 25th Division. The Battalion was engaged in the Battle of the Somme from an attack on the 3rd July 1916 south of Thiepval until the 22nd October 1916 when the Battalion was relieved to go back to Albert then Warley and Authieule before entraining at Doullens for Bailleul on the 29th October 1916. Lance Corporal Moon had deserted his colleagues at some time during the Somme Battle and was tried at a Courts Martial on the 11th November 1916, convicted and shot 10 days later.
Son of Mrs. M Moon of 5 Blue Coat School Chester.
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 1396 Sergeant Thomas Mottershead 20th Squadron Royal Flying Corps V.C., D.C.M. who died of wounds on the 12th January 1917. Son of Thomas and Lucy Mottershead of Widnes and husband of Lilian Medlicott Mottershead of 31 Lilac Avenue Widnes Lancashire.
Heastone bears inscription “Not once or twice In our rough island story Was the path of duty The way to glory.”
The citation in the London Gazette for the Distinguished Conduct Medal records; “For conspicuous gallantry when on a bombing raid. He dived down to 1,500 feet, blew up one ammunition train with bombs, and attacked another with machine gun fire. On rising he was attacked by a “Fokker” from behind, but by skilful and daring manoeuvring he enabled his observer to destroy it by fire.”
An extract from the London Gazette dated 9th February 1917 for the Victoria Cross records “For most conspicuous bravery, endurance and skill, when attacked at an altitude of 9,000 feet; the petrol tank was pierced and the machine set on fire. Enveloped in flames, which his Observer Lt. Gower was unable to subdue, this very gallant soldier succeeded in bringing his aeroplane back to our lines and though he made a successful landing, the machine collapsed on touching the ground, pinning him beneath the wreckage from which he was subsequently rescued. Though suffering extreme torture from burns Sergeant Mottershead showed the most conspicuous presence of mind in the careful selection of a landing place, and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of his Observer. He has since succumbed to his injuries.”
View detailed record of Sergeant Thomas Mottershead
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 26028 Private John Rogers 2nd Battalion South Lancashire Regiment shot on the 9th March 1917 for Desertion.
The 2nd Battalion was a Regular Battalion which had landed at Havre on the 14th august 1914 as part of 7th Brigade, 3rd Division but on the 18th October 1915 was transferred to 7th Brigade of the 25th Division and then on the 26th October 1915 to 75th Brigade in the same Division.
The 25th Division had been continuously in action on the Somme from the 5th July to the 22nd November 1916. On the 31st October 1916 Divisional Headquarters moved to Bailleul and the Division assumed responsibility for the Ploegsteert Sector with a frontage of about 6,000 yards from the River Lys to Hill 63, to the North of Ploegsteert Wood.
Private Rodgers was serving with the Battalion actually in the trenches in 1917 when he left his colleagues. The Courts Martial was on the 1st March 1917 and he was shot at 6 a.m. on the 9th March.
He was married and his wife Harriett Rogers lived at 34 Luke Street, Liverpool.
Grave in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 609 Rifleman Joseph Chambers 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who died of wounds on the 23rd December 1916 aged 26 years.
Headstone bears inscription “We think of you in silence No eyes may see us weep.”
Son of Joseph and Mary Chambers of Stewartstown Road Dunmurry Co. Antrim.
Bleue Maison Military Cemetery, Eperlecques, Pas de Calais. Eperlecques is a village and commune about 6 miles North West of St. Omer and Bleue Maison is a hamlet between Eperlecques and Watten about a mile West of Watten. The Cemetery is down a lane on the south side of a minor road from Watten to Ganspette. Used from May 1918 to April 1919 mainly by the four Casualty Clearing stations posted at Watten in April – October 1918 during period of German advance and retreat in Flanders. After the Armistice 12 graves were brought in from in or just outside Mardyck Churchyard first buried in period July to October 1917 and 1 from Oye Churchyard who died in August 1919. Records 52 U.K.and 1 Can. burials
Grave in Bleue Maison Military Cemetery of Lieutenant William George Reddy 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders died 4th April 1919 aged 34 years. Headstone bears inscription “A brave soldier A great companion Beloved by all who knew him.”
Son of William Albert and Ellen Reddy of Leigh Villa 92 Grosvenor Road Belvedere Kent. Served in 2nd Battalion the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) for 15 years
Grave in Bleue Maison Military Cemetery of No. 52651 Rifleman John Reginald Zepler 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who died of wounds on the 31st July 1918 aged 18 years. Formerly No. 40446 the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Headstone bears inscription “Lovingly remembered by brother, sisters, aunts and uncles Rest in the Lord.”
Born Redditch Worcestershire, enlisted Worcester whilst residing in Redditch.
Grave in Bleue Maison Military Cemetery of No. 52587 Rifleman Herbert Edward Mitchell 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles who died of wounds on the 4th August 1918 aged 18 years. Formerly No. 41225 Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Headstone bears inscription “In Gods care resting From his sorrowing, Dad, Mum brothers and sisters.”
Enlisted Worcester resident Upton Poole Dorset. Son of James and Harriett Mitchell of Pentre Cottage Upton Poole Dorset.
Grave in Bleue Maison Military Cemetery of No. 203655 Private Frederick Bellringer 2nd/6th Battalion the Manchester Regiment transferred to 138th Company Labour Corps as No. 583355 and died 31st July 1918 aged 42 years.
Born Materingham Lincolnshire enlisted Liverpool. Son of George and Marian Whitwell, husband of Louisa Bellringer of 19 Grosvenor Road Wavertree Liverpool.
Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Albert, Somme. The Cemetery is about a mile from the centre of Albert on the East side of the main road to Bapaume. “Tara Hill” was to the East of the Cemetery and “Usna Hill” was to the South West and the other side of the Bapaume Road. In June 1916 the front line crossed the Bapaume Road between the site of the cemetery and the village of La Boiselle, being only some 400 yards from the western edge of the village and less than a mile to the East of the cemetery site. The cemetery was begun almost at once on the 1st July by divisions engaged in this sector and was closed in January 1917. In October 1916 it was known as Tara Bridge Cemetery. Records 243 U.K., 64 Can., 18 Aust., 1 S.A., 83 Unknown burials and 3 special memorials.
Grave in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery of Lieutenant Colonel William Lyle C.O. of the 23rd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers killed in action on the 1st July 1916 aged 40 years. Son of William Park Lyle, husband of Edith M Lyle of Springvale Hythe Kent. Headstone bears inscription “To him that overcometh Will I give to eat of the tree of life.”
Grave in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cecil Archibald Sillery, Indian Army Retired, C.O. of the 20th (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers killed in action 1st July 1916 aged 54 years. Husband of E Sillery of The Grange Scalby Scarborough.
The 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers were the units in the 102nd (Tyneside Scottish) Brigade and part of the 34th Division. On the 1st July 1916 the Division was to attack the German line in front of the village of La Boiselle. The 101st Brigade on the right was to advance towards the south of the village towards Sausage Valley; the 102nd towards the village itself. Both Brigades were to attack at zero hour as was the 103rd (Tyneside Irish), the reserve brigade, starting from the Tara-Usna hills. The 20th and 23rd Battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers had to cross 800 yards of cratered ground facing an alert enemy suffering enormous casualties as did the Tyneside Irish who left their position on the exposed slopes of the Hills at 7.40 a.m. and by the time some units of this brigade had arrived at the British front line had suffered 70% casualties, in other words were killed or wounded on the bare slopes of the Hills well behind their own front line.
All four of the Commanding Officers of the Tyneside Scottish Battalions were killed on the 1st July 1916, Lieut-Col. F.C. Heneker of the 21st Battalion being buried in Ovillers Military Cemetery, Ovillers-la-Boiselle and Lieut-Col. A. P. A. Elphinstone of the 22nd Battalion has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Grave in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery of Major Sir Foster Hugh Egerton Cunliffe, 13th Battalion, the Rifle Brigade died of wounds on 10th July 1916 aged 41 years. He was the second in command of the Battalion and was shot in the leg in front of Contalmaison, lying out in the open for 2/3 days before being found. 6th Baronet, son of Sir Robert A Cunliffe and Lady Cunliffe of Acton Park Denbighshire. Headstone bears inscription “RIP. Jesu Mercy.”
Grave in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery of 2nd Lieutenant Charles Edwards, 6th Battalion the East Yorkshire Regiment killed in action 29th January 1917 aged 23 years. Son of William and Elizabeth Edwards, 10 St. Hilda’s Terrace, Whitby. Headstone bears inscription “He responded to Lord Kitchener’s appeal. August 1914. And died for his country.”.
Grave in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery of 2nd Lieutenant Nicholas Griffiths 7th Battalion South Wales Borderers attached 6th Battalion killed in action 11th July 1916 aged 25 years. Son of David and Sarah Griffiths of 9 Windsor Road Barry Glamorgan, one of seven brothers who served in the War. Headstone bears inscription “He lived as he died. God giveth, God taketh away. Thy will be done.”
Bray Military Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme, Somme. 1 miles N of the village centre and 5 miles SE of Albert. The Franco-British Army boundary ran close to the town and troops from both nations made use of the town for billeting and medical arrangements during the 1915-1916 period. The cemetery was begun by fighting units and field ambulances in April 1916 and records 739 U.K., 31 Aust., 13 Ind., 3 Can., 2 S.A., 79 unknown and 8 Egyptian labourers.
Grave in Bray Military Cemetery of No. 1342 Sergeant Malcolm McArthur 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders D.C.M., M.M. & Bar Died of Wounds 7th March 1917 aged 21 years.
The entry in the London Gazette on the 26th September 1916 for the award of the D.C.M. records “For conspicuous gallantry in action. He went out under heavy fire during an attack and brought into safety a badly wounded man. Later he went out to his company commander three times to dress his wounds and take him water. After dark, with a stretcher, he brought him in.” The Battalion was part of 90th Brigade, 33rd Division and the award of the D.C.M. was during the course of the Battle of the Somme, probably in the attack on High Wood around the 15th July 1916.
Born Bridgeton Lanarkshire, enlisted Stirling whilst residing in Dalry Ayrshire, brother of Euphemia W Boyd, Templana Road Dalry Ayrshire. Headstone bears inscription “In Loving Memory.”
Grave in Bray Military Cemetery of No.5130 Sergeant Michael Healy 2nd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers Albert Medal, D.C.M., M.M.& Bar died of wounds 2nd March 1917 aged 25 years.
New Years Day found the Battalion resting near Becourt Wood east of Albert having soldiered under the worse conditions during the previous six weeks. On the 10th February 1917 the Battalion moved into the front line trenches at Barleux where they remained until the German withdrawal to the Siegfried Line on the 17th March. Barleux is a village about 2 miles south west of Peronne and the same distance East of Assevillers and some 8 miles south east of Bray, probably the nearest major medical centre.
Whilst serving in this sector Sergeant Healy performed the act of gallantry which led to the award of the Albert Medal. “On the 1st March 1917 this non-commissioned officer, with a total disregard for his own personal safety and solely prompted by the desire to save his comrades, rushed to pick up a live bomb which had been thrown by a Private and which struck the parapet and rolled back into the trench near Lieutenant Roe and the Private, Sergeant Healy, fearing the party could not escape in time, made a most gallant attempt to seize and hurl the bomb from the trench. It exploded however and mortally wounded him. This was the last of Sergeant Healy’s many acts of gallantry and devotion to duty. He was previously awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal and later a bar to his Military Medal.”
The citation in the London Gazette of 22nd September 1916 records “For conspicuous gallantry in stemming with a few others an enemy on rush with bombs and subsequently leading a counter- attack, which succeeded in reaching the objective” action probably during the course of the Battle of the Somme.
Born Dungarvan Co. Waterford, enlisted Swansea whilst residing Pontardawe Glamorgan. Son of Mrs Annie Healy of Ballinamuck, Dungarvan, co. Waterford.
Headstone bears inscription “Sacred Heart of Jesus Have Mercy on his Soul.”
Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, Montauban, Somme. East of Montauban and on Longueval – Maricourt road. Taken by 9th (Scottish) Division July 3rd-4th 1916; same Division driven from the wood March 25th 1918, recaptured it for a time, finally regained by 18th Division August 17th 1918. Records 793 UK., 122 Aist., 4 S.A., 2 N.Z. 1 Ind., and 32 special memorials.
Graves in Bernafay Wood British Cemetery of 2nd Lieutenant A H Galloway 32nd Battalion Australian Infantry (Australian Imperial Force) died aged 28 16th February 1917. Headstone bears inscription “To Dearly Loved, To every be Forgotten, Mother and Father.” (left) and No 2755 Private E Woodham 32nd Battalion Australian Infantry (Australian Imperial Force) died aged 35 16th February 1917. Headstone bears inscription “They shall walk with me in white.” Revels 3/4.” (right)
Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery is about 3 miles North East of Bray-sur-Somme, 5 miles South East of Albert and on the road to Maricourt. Used by the British from Auust 1915 to February 1917, particularly in the Battles of the Somme, records 516 U.K., 15 Aust., 2 Ind., 1 S.A.,1 unknown burial and 2 special memorials.
No. 19277 Private George William Sykes 21st (Service) Battalion (6th City) Manchester Regiment killed in action 27th April 1916 aged 21 years. He is buried in Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme.
In 1911 George William Sykes was aged 16, employed as a Mercantile Clerk (Shipping) and living with his parents William Henry Sykes (47) a Law Clerk working for a Solicitor and Ellen Elizabeth Sykes (46) at 56 Lansdowne Road Crumpsall. George had two elder sisters, Gertrude (23) born Blackley Lancashire and Nellie (20), dressmaker, born Moston, Failsworth, Lancashire. George was also born in Moston. He had two younger sisters and two younger brothers, Dorothy (15) dressmaker, born Moston, Wilfred (13) at school, born Manchester, Eric (9) born Crumpsall and Grace (8) also born in Crumpsall.
By the early 1920s his parents William Henry and Nellie Sykes had moved to 344 The Cliff, Higher Broughton, Manchester.
The 21st Battalion was raised at Manchester on the 13th November 1914 and by April 1915 was in 91st Brigade, 30th Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne in early November 1915, Private George Sykes landing on the 10th November 1915.
On the 11th November the Battalion travelled by train to Pont Remy, south east of Abbeville and on the Somme River, and by the end of the month was first at Couin and later at Fonquevillers in the Somme sector attached to units of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment for instruction in trench warfare, lasting until the 4th December 1915.
On the 20th December 1915 the 91st Brigade was transferred to the 7th Division. It had been decided that whole brigades from the “New Army” Divisions then arriving in France would be transferred to the older divisions with a consequent transfer from the older divisions to the New Army Divisions, the New Army Divisions gaining from having amongst their troops those who had already experienced active service and were well versed in trench warfare. At the same time therefore as the 91st Brigade from the New Army 30th Division was transferred to the 7th Division, the 21st Brigade from the 7th Division went to the 30th Division. The units in the 91st Brigade were then the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment.
In February 1916 the reformed 7th Division arrived on the Somme, the units in the 91st Brigade then being the 21st and 22nd Manchesters, the 2nd Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment and the 1st South Staffordshire Regiment. The Divisional frontage was opposite Mametz and Fricourt and followed the lower slopes of the high ground which runs roughly north west from Peronne and separates the basin of the Middle Somme from those of the various small rivers which drain away East and North East towards the Upper Scheldt. This ridge sloped gradually up from the right bank of the Somme reaching a height of 500 feet above sea-level, the British trenches being approximately 200 feet lower on the Mametz and Fricourt line so that the Germans enjoyed considerable tactical advantages, not the least being their much better facilities for observation.
On the 2nd February 1916 the Battalion moved towards the front line going first to Bray-sur-Somme and on the 6th February went into the front line opposite Mametz relieving the 22nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. Mametz was a German held fortified village about a mile due east of Fricourt, itself fortified and held by the enemy, a position of considerable tactical importance to the German Army. When out of the line, the 21st Battalion was in billets, usually stables and barns, in the area of Bray-sur-Somme. Brigade Headquarters for the 91st Brigade was also at Bray. When not in the trenches, all worked on fatigues, carrying stores and in particular frequently being used to work on a new narrow gauge railway line being prepared behind their lines for the offensive on the Somme.
In the period from February 1916 to the 24th June 1916, when the British Artillery began its bombardment of the German defences prior to the attack on the 1st July 1916 there were no major operations but the troops had plenty to occupy them in keeping the trenches in repair, alternate frost and thaw in the early months resulting in the trench parapets collapsing. Additionally, the Germans were far from inactive, retaliating vigorously with artillery, trench–mortars and machine-gun fire to the British bombardments.
There were casualties mainly from enemy machine gun fire and artillery but both the British and the Germans carried out patrols and raids, the British mainly to gain more accurate information as to the German defences. In the February to June 1916 period the 91st Brigade had 404 battle-casualties - troops killed or wounded or missing. On the evening of the 20th April the enemy bombarded the British line and a party of the enemy approached the front line facing Fricourt held by the 2nd Battalion the Border Regiment, 20th Brigade 7th Division but were driven back. Seven days later Private George Sykes was killed.
The first casualty of the 21st Battalion was No. 19898 Private Malcolm Ramsden who died of wounds on the 21st February 1916. He is buried in Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery.
25th February 1916 No. 19165 Private Joseph Johnson was killed in action.
15th March No. 18812 Private Harold Barnes was killed in action.
19th March 1916 No. 19722 Private Walter Tomlinson was killed in action.
1st April 1916 No. 18962 Private Thomas Ogden was killed in action.
7th April 1916 No. 18993 Corporal Wilfred Rigby was killed in action.
16th April No. 19792 Private Edward McGinn was killed in action.
17th April 1916 No. 18752 Private Ernest Warnes died of wounds.
21st April No. 19204 Lance Corporal John Massey was killed in action.
With the exception of Private Harold Barnes who is buried in Point 110 New Military Cemetery, Fricourt, all of these soldiers are buried in Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery.
The last casualties in April 1916 were those who died on the 27th April. No. 19277 Private George Sykes was killed in action, as was No. 19164 Lance Corporal Harry Johnson and No. 26779 Private Peter Johnson. These three soldiers are buried in Bronfay Farm Military Cemetery. The fourth casualty was No. 19840 Sergeant George Woods who died of wounds on the 27th April 1916 but he is buried in Bray Military Cemetery and may well have been actually wounded before the date of death.
So in the three month period February to April 1916 the Battalion lost 13 soldiers
Private George William Sykes was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.