Derek Clayton was born in Yorkshire and attended Batley Grammar School before beginning a long association with the University of Birmingham. He graduated in 1979 with a BA in French and German and went on to teach Modern Languages in three Birmingham schools before retiring in 2015. His fascination with military history began in childhood, but the discovery almost thirty years ago of photographs of his great-uncle in his KOYLI uniform and his grandfather in the RFC focussed his interest squarely on the Great War. He returned to the university in 2004, following the publication of his battalion history: From Pontefract to Picardy: the 9th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the First World War (Tempus, 2004), and completed his MA in British First World War Studies, as one of the initial cohort of this course, in 2006, having produced a dissertation on the 49th (West Riding) Division. He then went on to write his doctoral thesis “The Battle of the Sambre: 4 November 1918” – a subject suggested by Professor Peter Simkins - under the supervision of John Bourne, and was awarded his PhD in 2016.
This talk is based on Derek's MA Dissertation (University of Birmingham 2006) and examines the performance of the 49th Division in set-piece attacks on 3 September 1916 at Thiepval, 9 October 1917 at Poelcappelle and on 1 November 1918 at Valenciennes.