Search results for David Tattersfield.

Did Kitchener’s decision to raise his ‘New Armies’ carelessly wreck the pre-war plans to achieve smooth and effective British military expansion?

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Image: Grimsby Pals The Liberal Party, which had been in power since the General Election of 1906, was nervous of German expansionism and had, by 1914, edged Britain into a much closer relationship with Russia and France than had previously been the case. Brigadier-General Henry Wilson, who was appointed Director of Military Operations in 1910, …


2 September 1917 : Pte George Fieldhouse

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His parents were Charles (a foreman at a carpet works) and Elizabeth Fieldhouse. They lived at 21 Armitage St, Raventhorpe, Dewsbury. At the 1901 Census George, age 7, was at home with his parents and six siblings: an older brother Herbert and four sisters. Circumstances could not have been easy; their father spent 14 days in prison for debt an…


10 October 1916 : Pte Beaumont Wood

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At the 1891 Census, age 3 Beaumont was the youngest of five children to his father a 'wood sawyer' and mother Elizabeth. Ten years later at the 1901 Census he had a younger sister and a younger brother too. His 17 year old brother and 15 year old sister were working. The family lived at 286 Charles Street, Ravensthorpe. Another ten years and by t…


051: January 1998

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A Village Goes to War. A History of the Men of Ravensthorpe who Fell in the Great War

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Western Front Association Development Trustee and Vice-Chairman David Tattersfield has researched the names on the memorial in his local church in Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire. Fortunately, three large frames of photographs had also been preserved - a most unusual occurrence - covering 81 of the 114 names on the memorial. At the time of the Great W…


082: April/May 2008

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100: June 2014 Special Edition

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Major 'Alastair' Soutar, M.C.

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One of the well known 'classic' accounts of the First World War is 'Twelve Days' published in 1933 (and more recently republished as 'Twelve Days on the Somme') by Sidney Rogerson, an officer on the staff of 23 Infantry Brigade (part of the 8th Division). Less well known is his second book, about his experiences in May 1918 on the Aisne. This accou…


'From Private to Major via the Foresters Arms': The life, death and rediscovery of Octavius Darby-Griffith, MC

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British visitors to the south of France will often take the A26 'Autoroute des Anglais' out of Calais. Some 140 miles down this autoroute, they will see on a prominent hill to the right the towers of the medieval cathedral at Laon. Some may turn off the autoroute to pay a visit, others will press on towards Rheims and further south. If the opportu…


READ THE STORY: The 'Unknown Major' no more

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Researched by David Tattersfield, the Vice Chairman of The Western Front Association, this detective story shows how a casual visit to a military cemetery and an inquisitive nature led David to uncover the name and the story behind the 'An Unknown Major' of the Royal Engineers.

Read the full story > HERE Major 'Alastair' M.C. 

 


NEWS: David Tattersfield BBC Graves of Unknown Soldiers

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 Rededication to Major Alastair Soutar MC La Ville aux Bois 30 May 2018 The usual quiet and peaceful tranquility of the British cemetery at Jonchery sur Vesle was broken this morning when members of the Soutar family from as far afield as Hong Kong, Canada and New York arrived to attend the rededication of the grave of Major Alastair Soutar MC, R…


The mystery of an unknown Major of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment resolved

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David Tattersfield solves the mystery of an unknown Major of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment buried at La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery.  With an introduction from The WFA, this is the piece broadcast by the BBC.  For the original fascinating article telling the story of the investigation and what it uncovered read the full article 'From P…


Discipline in the BEF : An analysis of executions in British Divisions 1914-1918

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     'Death by being shot'. Order confirmed by D. Haig 6 December 1916   Discipline in the BEF during the First World War It is well recorded that despite a dubious disciplinary record, Australian troops were amongst the most effective of those available to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. (1) This observation is at odds with th…


Stand To! No.1 to No.126 Full Contents Listing

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Stand To! 1-126 Content Stand To  1 Spring 1981 Editorial Notes (Peter T. Scott) Serving members of the Western Front Association Early Days, New Paths and Acknowledgements Inaugural Meeting: John Terraine's Address. Historian John Terraine berates those who indulge in ‘purely tragic pilgrimages to the Western Front’. The Loving Care of the…


The Western Front Association Calendar 2019

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The Western Front Association's 2020 calendar is now available. Once again it features images of the battlefield taken by a team of volunteer photographers. The scenes depict points of interest in France and Belgium (and, incidentally, Italy) some of which are well known but others 'off the beaten track'. As well as providing superb images of a do…


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: some examples of dependents' cards

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Just part of one load of the records being transferred to the WFA's storage facility. Three HGVs were eventually required to complete the transfer. One of the numerous types of record that comprises The Western Front Association Pension Record Card and Ledger Archive is a 'run' of about one million cards representing soldiers, sailors and airmen…


Great War Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: deeper understanding

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The history of the Great War is not just about generals and statesmen. In examining the Great War, we can often overlook the real people and the real lives that lie behind the "other ranks" who served in their millions. Many died during a long and arduous campaign, and we remember their sacrifices in a number of commemorative ways, not least on 1…


Further sets of Pension Records saved by The Western Front Association available on Ancestry

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The Western Front Association are pleased to share the excellent news that Ancestry will be making publicly further Pension Records in the lead up to the 11th November 2018.  Ancestry are working hard on the scanning and digitisation of the Pension Record Cards and Ledgers that The Western Front Association saved from destruction. As with the the …


Understanding the Ledger Indexing

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This article aims to set out some of the technical aspects of the indexing of - and subcategories that make up - the 'ledgers' in The Western Front Association's collection of Pension Record Cards. These ledgers have been scanned and digitised by our partner, Ancestry.co.uk and are available on their fold3 website. These are now available for WFA…


The Heilsberg 39: A New British First World War Cemetery in Poland

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Between August and December 1918 a number of British Prisoners of War died at Heilsberg Prisoner of War camp in the east of Germany. It is likely their deaths were a result of insufficient food, overwork or one of the diseases that often swept through these overcrowded and insanitary camps. Conditions in Germany at this time were harsh. Food was sc…


Pension Records: Famous, Infamous, Extraordinary and Ordinary

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The Western Front Association's Pension Record Card and Ledger archive which has been published online by Ancestry is a magnificent set of never-seen before material which massively helps those looking for 'Great Uncle Bill' to not track down their relative but also put a little bit of extra information on the serviceman's story. It has been said …


Biggles’ Last Flight: the flying career of Captain WE Johns

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This piece originally appeared in the 100th edition of the WFA's landmark print journal 'Stand To!' The author has enhanced this digital version to include links and more photographs. To read back copies of Stand To! online, members will need to go to the Login page Biggles, as many readers will know, was a fictional character created by William …


'In the event of my death': An analysis of what can be gleaned from soldiers wills

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During 2013, David Tattersfield, a trustee of The Western Front Association, provided First World War historical advice to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), part of the Ministry of Justice. The reason for this advice being sought from the WFA relates to a project to make available online 277,450 wills of soldiers who were killed between the …


Discipline in the BEF: An analysis of executions in British Divisions 1914-1918

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It is well recorded that despite a dubious disciplinary record, Australian troops were amongst the most effective of those available to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. [1] This observation is at odds with the example of the Guards Division which also had a favourable reputation, but whose discipline was strict.[2] It is therefore potentially useful…


The Loss of the Britannic : 21 November 1916

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Some years ago there was much publicity around the 100th anniversary of the loss of the RMS Titanic, which sank in April 1912 after striking an iceberg. What is less well know is that the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic was also lost during the course of the First World War on 21 November 1916. Britannic was almost identical to the Titanic, m…


The Battle of Cambrai - why did it succeed and what went wrong? November 1917

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The Battle of Cambrai in November 1917 turned out, for both Britain and Germany, to be a major signpost showing how to break the trench deadlock of the previous three years. The lessons of the operational successes and failures would be digested by both sides over the forthcoming winter. For the British, especially, the battle failed to live up to …


Drunk as a Lord? The dismissal and redemption of Lord Edward Seymour

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Cambrai - Attack and stalemate The British attack at Cambrai on 20 November 1917 is well known for the mass-use of tanks for the first time. This operation, initially highly successful, was originally intended to be little more than a large-scale raid, but evolved into a much more ambitious affair. Whilst the use of tanks has made this action famo…


New Year's Day 1915: The unknown 'Battle of Broken Hill'

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Whilst the vast majority of First World War actions took place in France and Belgium, there were other theatres of war in which British and Commonwealth soldiers and sailors fought. These so called ‘side shows’ in obscure theatres of war took place in many different countries, from Turkey (the Gallipoli Campaign) to off the coast of Chile (the Batt…


The world’s largest pre-atomic explosion: Halifax Harbour 1917

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Not all fatalities that occurred in the First World War were as a direct result of enemy action. There are many examples of incidents and accidents throughout the Great War that resulted in injury, loss of life or damage to property. Perhaps the most significant of these accidents is surprisingly also one of the least well known – even to this day.…


Zeppelins Over Norfolk

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The First World War was a conflict of many firsts. While the Great War saw the debut of mass public recruitment as well as the implementation of tank warfare, it was also the first time heavier-than-air flying machines had been used in a military offensive. As German airships attacked the east coast of Britain in January 1915, it was civilian targe…


The discovery and identification of the Beaucamps Ligny Fifteen : October 1914

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In the autumn of 2009, during excavation work for a building project, human remains were discovered between the villages of Radinghem and Beaucamps Ligny in northern France. The discovery was made near a road junction about four miles southeast of Bois-Grenier and seven miles northeast of La Bassée. This area had fallen into German hands shortly af…


A training exercise goes horribly wrong: The tragedy at Gainsborough, 19 February 1915

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At the turn of the last century the Heavy Woollen area of the West Riding of Yorkshire, centred around Dewsbury, was a hive of industrial activity, specialising in the production of heavyweight cloth. One of the main activities in the town was the production of Shoddy and Mungo - this involved the recycling of wool from rags. In 1860, the adjoining…


The British Route to War

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Britain's entry into the Great War is far more complex than the reason for the country embarking on the Second World War. The following factors were mentioned by Sir Edward Grey (Foreign Secretary) in Parliament on the eve of war:[1] "Present Balkan Crisis" (ie assassination) Moroccan crisis Friendship with France Possible risk to (French) c…


'Rikki' Little: Australia's Greatest Ace

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As the ‘Camel’ pilot approached dark shape in the gloom of the late May evening, he recognised it as a Gotha bomber – one of those that had been reported in the area that evening. Captain Robert Little - ‘Rikki’ to his comrades at 203 Squadron - could make out enough of the enemy machine in the moonlight to be confident that he would be able to bri…


One of the last true cavalry charges: The Charge of The Dorset Yeomanry at Agagia, Western Desert, 26 February 1916

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Britain's declaration of war on Turkey on 5 November 1914 created a threat to the Suez Canal, a vital artery of the British Empire. Whilst the main threat to the Canal came from the east (across the Sinai desert) the Turks and their German allies recognised that a threat to the British from the west could assist their ambitions of cutting off the S…


The VC that never was: Colonel Souter's gallantry against the Senussi, 1916

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Colonel Hugh Maurice Wellesley Souter was born in India in 1872. Originally commissioned into the Manchester Regiment, he joined the 14th Murray's Jat Lancers (of the Indian Army) in 1896, and served in the Tibetan Campaign of 1903-4, being mentioned in dispatches. Photo: Lt-Col Souter In the First World War Souter served in France, Belgium, Ga…


Escape from the Desert : October 1915

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This article could almost be taken from a 'Boy's Own' story of Great War adventures. It features a daring raid by one of the world’s richest men to rescue a group of sailors whose ship had been torpedoed and who had been handed over to a group of North African tribesmen, by whom they were held in deplorable conditions for over four months. At the …


The Battle of Dogger Bank : January 1915

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The naval arms race between Britain and Germany had, in the early years of the 20th Century, been a major contribution to the increasing tensions in Europe. On the outbreak of the First World War it was uncertain how the Imperial German Navy would be used. Would the Germans challenge the British in the hope of eliminating the Royal Navy's superiori…


The loss of HMS Bulwark : 26 November 1914

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Losses of life in the First World War are more often than not attributed to engagements in battle or enemy action of some sort. However, this is not always the case. One of the most significant events during the early part of the war that caused a major loss of life to military personnel was an accident. HMS Bulwark was part of the 5th Battle Squa…


Two men with five names: The Curious Case of Cornelius Costello

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The image of the headstone below, which is in Dover (St James's) Cemetery, is perhaps not terribly unusual. It names an unknown sailor of HMS Glatton and another sailor - Cornelius Costello who 'served as' a stoker on HMS Glatton. The headstone is somewhat odd in that it does not give the name that Costello served under - this is revealed by his en…


The (other) man who shot down the Red Baron

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By far the most famous ‘ace’ of the Great War was Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen, popularly known during the war in Germany as Der Rote Kampfflieger (The Red Battle Flyer). Above: Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.  By late winter of 1917 von Richthofen was already one of the leading German fighter pilots, having shot down no fewer than tw…


The Coldstream Guards and Irish Guards at Cuinchy 1915

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Cuinchy is a village astride the La Bassée Canal and is referred to by Robert Graves in his classic memoir Goodbye to All That: 'Cuinchy bred rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly. While I stayed here with the Welsh, a new officer joined the company... When he turned in that night, he heard a s…


The Battle of the Boar's Head

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Lord Kitchener's famous call for volunteers 'Your Country Needs You' resulted in an overwhelming response with hundreds of thousands of men stepping forward. This has often been portrayed as a north of England phenomena. The roots of this misconception may be as a result of the attack made at Serre on 1 July 1916 by 'pals' battalions from Accringto…


The Chatsworth Rifles raid at Richebourg

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An ideal way to obtain an understanding of the First World War is through reading the memoirs of those who served in the conflict. Examples of these are numerous, Goodbye to All That (Robert Graves, 1929) and Old Soldiers Never Die (Frank Richards, 1933) are well known, but not so There’s a Devil in the Drum (John Lucy, 1938). All of these were fir…


British Corps Commanders in the Great War

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As identified by Andrew Simpson in his PhD thesis,[1] there is remarkably little written about British Corps command in the Great War and for this reason the role of Corps is possibly not as clear as it should be. Although falling outside the scope of this article, it is clear that in the latter years of the 19th Century and the early years of the …


The Execution of the 'Iron Twelve'

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The early weeks of the First World War saw the Germans advancing across most of Belgium and large parts of northern France, although these mobile conditions were not to last as static trench warfare started to be the norm by the middle of September. During these first weeks of 'open warfare' the Allies were generally in full retreat and this led to…


'Aces Low': The Wimbledon Champion at Aubers

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In the years leading up to the First World War, one of the most famous sportsmen of the Edwardian era was Anthony (Tony) Wilding. An excellent all-round sportsman, Wilding had been born in New Zealand but returned to England in 1902 (from where his parents had emigrated) in order to study with the intention of making a career in the law. He visite…


Absolution at Aubers : May 1915

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Although the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 had given grounds for optimism, in the weeks following this battle,  the Allies had been frustrated in their plans. First of all, the Gallipoli landings had not gone to plan, and stalemate was setting in on this front. Virtually simultaneously to the amphibious attack in the Dardanelles, the Germa…


The Baron and the Barmaid

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Sir John French, the commander-in-chief of the BEF until December 1915 was one of the many Anglo-Irish who served in the British Army in the Victorian and Edwardian period. Sir John's family was related to the French/De Freyne family which had settled in County Wexford in the fourteenth century. A distant cousin of Sir John's was Arthur, the 4th Ba…


The first footballer killed in 1914: Larrett Roebuck of Huddersfield Town

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Huddersfield Town full-back Larrett Roebuck was the first professional footballer from the English Leagues to be killed in the First World War. This is his story... Larrett Roebuck was born at Jump, near Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, on 27 January 1889. By 1901 the Roebuck family had moved to Rotherham and were living in Barker's Yard, off the m…


General Maude and the Recapture of Kut

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With temperatures ranging from freezing to 130ºF (50ºC) the campaign in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) was undertaken in one of the most inhospitable climates imaginable. Despite being a side-show to the main battles of the First World War in France and Belgium, the Mesopotamian campaign lasted virtually the entire period of the war. A mission had …


The 1/7th Royal Scots and the Quintinshill Rail Disaster : 25 May 1915

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At the time of the First World War, Britain had a large number of railway companies each owning varying amounts of track and junctions. Often the point where companies’ tracks met became bottlenecks. One such junction was on the English-Scottish border at Gretna. In order to alleviate difficulties, a set of loops, sidings and signal boxes were cons…


The Easter Rising - Dublin 1916

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The Battles of the First World War took place in many countries and across various continents - from China to Lake Tanganyika in Africa; from off the coast of Chile to the files of France and Flanders. While these battles were being fought overseas, in April 1916 a rebellion broke out in one of the principle cities of the British Isles.  Prior to …


A Farewell to the Army Service Corps: The story of 'another' Ernest on the Piave

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Many of those with a passing interest in the First World War may be familiar with the semi-autobiographical account 'A Farewell to Arms' written by Ernest Hemingway which was first published in 1929. This tells the story of the activities of a soldier of the American Red Cross (in effect a thinly disguised Hemingway) on the Italian front in 1917-18…


9 April 1917 : Gunner Ewart Doodson

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His adoptive parents were Tyas Wood (a rug and shawl finisher) and Morrennah (née Jagger) whose family, included brother James (born 1890, a boot and clog maker) and Lily (a dressmaker’s apprentice) At the 1911 Census, age 12, Ewart was living at home at 25 Huddersfield Rd, Ravensthorpe (and later of 453 Huddersfield Rd) with his adoptive parent…


‘Kitchener of Khartoum’ and HMS Hampshire : 5 June 1916

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Within Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, on the Island of Hoy on the Orkney Islands, is a memorial to the officers and men who were lost on board HMS Hampshire; in addition to the memorial (pictured below) are the graves of 123 men of the Royal Navy who died on 5 June 1916 when the Hampshire went down. For those who regularly visit Commonwealth War Grav…


Rex Warneford and the downing of LZ37

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Zeppelin raids on London had started as early as January 1915 when towns in North Norfolk came under attack. Although this first raid was misdirected and caused minimal damage the fact that an attack had been made encouraged the German Kaiser to authorise further raids. For various reasons many of these attempts in early 1915 failed, and it was not…


The Battle of the Somme - A Royal Flying Corps perspective

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On 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme opened. With 60,000 casualties (including 20,000 dead) on the first day, this battle continues to fascinate and appal in equal measure. One aspect of the Battle of the Somme which is less well covered than others is that of the airmen who flew over the area during the summer and autumn of 1916, and later in…


Leonard Maidment: missing, found, now remembered

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As Serjeant Leonard Maidment nervously waited in the pre-dawn gloom of the morning of 20 July 1918 preparing for his first combat on the Western Front, his thoughts would have turned to his family, safe at home in Andover. His father, Edward and mother, Bessie would be oblivious to the fact that Leonard’s battalion, the 2/4th Hampshire Regiment, wa…


The day my family came

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The 20th August 2013 was a hot day. Probably not as hot as the 20th July 1918. Despite these dates being separated by nearly 95 years, the echoes of that day in 1918 resonated loudly down the decades. It was on that day that a soldier’s family returned to Marfaux, near Reims. Leonard Maidment, from Andover, was probably an ordinary soldier. It is …


The Real Birdsong: The Kilian Tunnel

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In the BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong we have seen how the character Stephen Wraysford escaped in a somewhat surprising way from a tunnel. In reality, the risk of permanent entrapment was far more likely than escape, as vividly shown by a recent discovery at the very southern end of the Western Front. In October 2010, construction …


Pension Record Cards - claims for soldiers who were killed

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The next major release of images of the Pension Record cards saved by the WFA has now been made available to WFA members. This article is intended to orientate members around these cards which represent claims for pensions for those men who were killed in the First World War. As WFA members are probably aware, these records are available for WFA m…


Cyrus Peck, Piper Paul and the Canadian Scottish at Amiens

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This article looks at one battalion's action on 8 August 1918, and is largely based on a chapter of the battalion's history by H.M.Urquhart, published in 1932. The battalion in question was the 16th Battalion, CEF the Canadian Scottish, a 'kilted' battalion which was led for a large part of the war by Lt-Col Cyrus Peck. It is fair to say he had str…


How to use the 'Browse' function on Fold3 when researching the WFA Pension Records

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The intention behind this article is to explain how to access Pension Ledgers on the WFA's Library edition of Fold3 by using the 'browse' facility. The starting point for what follows are reference numbers that appear on the 'soldiers died' set of cards that have recently been published. It is of course possible in most cases that the cards and l…


Finding Horace: A two minute search of the WFA's Pension Records provides the answer

/world-war-i-articles/finding-horace-a-two-minute-search-of-the-wfas-pension-records-provides-the-answer/

The Pension Cards and Ledgers that were saved by The Western Front Association are a valuable resource which will massively assist those undertaking research into aspects of those soldiers who served in the British Army in the First World War. In September 2019 a further set of 1 million records, Soldiers Who were Killed, were published by the WFA…


An analysis of the Mercantile Marine index cards

/world-war-i-articles/an-analysis-of-the-mercantile-marine-index-cards/

Within the millions of documents the WFA have saved was a small metal set of four drawers that - in the scale of the archive - is minute, constituting less than 0.1% of the total archive. The cards in this set of drawers (see photo below) numbered less than 4,300 and were - as can be seen - labelled 'Mercantile Marines in the Great War'. These card…


Pension Records for 'non-UK' soldiers

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It was initially believed that the WFA's Pension Cards and Ledgers were only for claims for pensions for men who came from the British Isles. As the new set of cards for pension claims for men who were killed is investigated, it has become clear that the original 'UK only' description needs to be expanded. A number of what can loosely be described…


Some numbers (and images) around the WFA's Pension Records

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The Western Front Association recently saved from destruction around 8 million pension records of First World War Soldiers. These unique records massively help genealogists, military historians and those researching their family history to find hitherto unknown details about those who were killed and survived the Great War.  Here's a few of the nu…


The Disaster at Hooge

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One of the most frequently heard misconceptions about the First World War is that British and Commonwealth generals and their staff officers shared neither the hardships nor the dangers of the average front line soldier. The excellent Bloody Red Tabs by WFA members Frank Davies and the late Graham Maddocks has been an important rebuttal of these ar…


The Red Baron - his 'other rank' victims

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There are many ways that The Western Front Association's pension records can be used for research purposes. In this article, I wish to take a brief look at the 'other ranks' that became victims of Manfred von Richtofen - the Red Baron. Probably more books have been written about von Richtofen than any other individual who served in the First World…


The Armistice in Bijar and Dunsterforce in Baku

/world-war-i-articles/the-armistice-in-bijar-and-dunsterforce-in-baku/

The Armistice, which brought an end to the fighting in the First World War was, as everyone knows, signed on 11 November 1918. The news of Germany’s capitulation and the Kaiser’s abdication two days earlier led to banner headlines in newspapers and scenes of jubilation in many cities throughout the world. This, however, is just part of the story as…


The Prince and the Pilot

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On a windswept hill overlooking the Yorkshire mill town of Halifax stands the area's most visible landmark: the Wainhouse tower. This is a Victorian-era construction and a 'folly'. It was, theoretically, built as a chimney for a local industrialist's factory, but it was never used as such. Above: The Wainhouse Tower at dusk.  Adjacent to the Wa…


The New Zealanders at Polderhoek Chateau : November 1917

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The Third Battle of Ypres officially ended on 10 November 1917, but this did not mean fighting in Flanders stopped. Although at the end of the battle the high ground of the Passchendaele ridge was taken by Canadian troops, the front was still active. Only three weeks after the capture of the ridge, the highly regarded New Zealand Division was to be…


Some instances of the award of the Albert Medal in the First World War

/world-war-i-articles/some-instances-of-the-award-of-the-albert-medal-in-the-first-world-war/

During the Great War the Albert Medal was awarded to fewer than one hundred servicemen. Less than one third of these awards were made posthumously, so finding examples of men awarded this medal in CWGC cemeteries is difficult. Below are two citations for acts of supreme bravery during the First World War. It will be noticed that the circumstances …


The Action at Rafa: 9 January 1917

/world-war-i-articles/the-action-at-rafa-9-january-1917/

The Battle at Rafa, (or more accurately the 'Action at Rafa') which took place on 9 January 1917, was a small affair that rarely receives any mention in accounts of the First World War. It was, however, a victory that ended the Sinai campaign of 1916. During 1916 British and Commonwealth forces under General Sir Archibald Murray began pushing east…


Captains Frederick ‘Fred’ C. Selous and Frederick ‘Freddie’ H.B. Selous - The father and son killed on the same day

/world-war-i-articles/captains-frederick-fred-c-selous-and-frederick-freddie-hb-selous-the-father-and-son-killed-on-the-same-day/

There are of course lots of coincidences in the First World War, but one that is quite remarkable is that of the father and son both of whom were killed in action on the same day - 4 January - but a year apart. What is even more remarkable is the unusual unit to which the father was serving when he was killed. Captain Frederick Courtney Selous F…


'1917' - using the Pension Records to track down the characters in the film (if they'd been real!)

/world-war-i-articles/1917-using-the-pension-records-to-track-down-the-characters-in-the-film-if-theyd-been-real/

The new film '1917' by Sam Mendes is about to be released in the UK (and has already been released in the USA). It has been widely acclaimed for its authenticity, and the cinematography. But what does it tell us about the men who took part? We can learn very little from the film about the men - our ancestors - who served in the war, but this does …


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: how they fitted in to the bigger picture

/world-war-i-articles/pension-record-cards-and-ledgers-how-they-fitted-in-to-the-bigger-picture/

As many member of The Western Front Association will know, especially the those who have accessed the pension records, the WFA's Pension Cards and Ledgers that have so far been published are a massively valuable aid to finding out more information about individual servicemen who served in the British Army, Navy and Air Force in the Great War. At t…


Unindexed Pension Cards. The 'Missing 22 drawers'

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In recent days an issue has come to light that affects approximately 2 percent of the Pension Cards for 'soldiers died'. The following article is to advise WFA members what to look out for in terms of 'un-indexed' names and also provides details of a work-around that will enable cards to be located despite the issue that has been flagged. Ancestr…


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers: how they fitted in to the bigger picture (part 2)

/world-war-i-articles/pension-record-cards-and-ledgers-how-they-fitted-in-to-the-bigger-picture-part-2/

In an earlier article we looked at some cases of Pension records and compared the WFA's pension cards to files that are retained in The National Archives in the 'PIN26' class.  This is the second of three articles that will look to examine these records, and enable researchers to compare the files to the WFA's records.  Joe Bridgewood The first …


Further Hints and Tips to assist with finding Pension Records

/world-war-i-articles/further-hints-and-tips-to-assist-with-finding-pension-records/

The following may assist WFA members in the search for pension records 1) If using a regimental number as one of the search criteria, and there are no 'hits' try inserting commas: For instance instead of 110953 try 110,953. This may then come up. This is due to the Ministry of Pensions quite often inserting commas into the regimental numbers, whic…


Project ALIAS reveals the man who is listed twice

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As the project to learn more about those men who served in the British Army using a false name continues, various fascinating examples are being found. One of these, tracked down by 'Alias volunteer' Chris Ludlam is that of L/Cpl John Cross of the 19th Middlesex. Chris noted the 'alias' referenced on the pension card as shown in the image below. …


Pension Record Cards and Ledgers - how they fitted in to the bigger picture (part 3)

/world-war-i-articles/pension-record-cards-and-ledgers-how-they-fitted-in-to-the-bigger-picture-part-3/

This is the third of three article intended to show what is available at The National Archives ('TNA') at Kew in the PIN26 series. As has been detailed in the first article and expanded on in the second article, PIN26 provides an insight into the soldiers' files from the Great War which have been destroyed, but which are referenced in the WFA's 'Pe…


Operation Michael, The Thirty Worst and an Advanced Dressing Station

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March 1918 was arguably the most critical month of the First World war for the British and Commonwealth forces in France. On 21 March, the Germans launched a massive attack with the aim of knocking the British out of the war. Above: Left to right - Chief of the General Staff, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg; Kaiser Wilhelm II; 'First Quarterma…


Ernest Brooks and the photograph of The 'Forty Thieves'

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With recent developments in technology, the colourisation of monochrome images from the Great War has come on in leaps and bounds. The obvious example is the film 'They Shall Not Grow Old' by Peter Jackson. Others have been doing similar work but obviously on a much smaller scale. One example of this is an excellent image of the famous photograph t…


Ep. 65 – Major Discoveries on the Western Front – David Tattersfield

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Western Front Association trustee David Tattersfield talks about his detective work in France to determine the identities of two majors buried in graves marked unknown, who were both killed in the German Spring offensive on the River Aisne in May 1918. 


Ep. 94 – The Great War Pension Record Cards – David Tattersfield

/the-latest-wwi-podcast/ep-94-the-great-war-pension-record-cards-david-tattersfield/

David Tattersfield, The Western Front Association Trustee, talks about the First World War Pension Record Cards that the WFA acquired from the Ministry of Defence in 2012 and how these records are to be made publicly accessible online. 


John Shirley - the soldier with two commemorations

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The 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles was a regular battalion, which for most of the war was part of the 8th Division. As a consequence of the re-organisation of the BEF in February 1918 it was moved across to the 36th (Ulster) Division. During the course of the war, the battalion had fatalities in excess of 1200 officers and men. Of these fataliti…


Stewart McVey: The soldier with TWO aliases

/world-war-i-articles/stewart-mcvey-the-soldier-with-two-aliases/

One of the many names listed on Le Touret Memorial to the Missing is that of Corporal Stewart McVey. Aged just 18 he was killed on 9 May 1915 at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, whilst serving with the 1st Battalion Black Watch. Unusually, but by no means uniquely he had a pseudonym, the CWGC noting he 'served as' (Stewart) Elder.  But this is not as s…


Oddities in the Pension Records

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Within the Pension Records that The Western Front Association have saved are hundreds of thousands of cards for pension claims for soldiers who lost their lives during the Great War. Some cards, however, are notable for a variety of reasons. First of all , the card below, this clearly states the soldier was 'kia' in the Boer War. But his card is a…


Further examples of unusual Pension Claims

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As the various projects WFA members are working on move forward, it seems a good time to update members on just a couple more examples of unusual pension claims that would not have been identified had 'Project Alias' and 'Project Hometown' not been set up. Previous reference has been made to cases where multiple brothers have been killed in the Gr…


Officers Pension Record Cards digitised and now available

/world-war-i-articles/officers-pension-record-cards-digitised-and-now-available/

Two more sets of Pension Record Cards ('PRCs') have been digitised and made available by the WFA's partner Ancestry. These records comprise a relatively small percentage of the entirety of the archive that the WFA saved. The newly released records relate to officers pension awards (both officers who survived and claims made by widows of officers wh…


Interesting examples of Officers Pension Record Cards

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Below are a few examples of officers cards and officers widows cards located in the WFA's Pension Record Cards archive. The first example is that of an officer who served in the Mercantile Marine, but who used an alias. At the time of writing, this officer has not been found within the CWGC database.  The officer's card below is revealing.  The…


The Battle of Jutland : May 1916

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Of the countless acts of gallantry took place during the First World War, only a small proportion were recognised with the Victoria Cross.  Many of those who were awarded the VC were not out of their teens, for example Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment earned his in 1918 when aged 17. The youngest winner of the VC in the Great War…


Ep. 168 – Operation Alias – David Tattersfield

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David Tattersfield, Development Trustee of the WFA, talks about Operation Alias, a project by the WFA to identify men who fell in the Great War and served under an alias or ‘false’ name. Your browser does not support the audio element.   …


Divisional Memorials on the Western Front

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It all started with a conversation. Clive Harris, on one of the excellent battlefield tours run by Battle Honours was talking about Divisional Memorials, and speculated that the construction of these may have been funded by the sales of divisional histories, of which many were published in the 1920s. I thought this was an interesting point as I had…


Man Alive! The case of Stoker Joseph Brown

/world-war-i-articles/man-alive-the-case-of-stoker-joseph-brown/

On 26 July 1917 the obsolete cruiser HMS Ariadne was minelaying in the English Channel, a role for which she had not been designed.  Above: HMS Ariadne.  IWM Q 38161 Ariadne was the seventh (by completion date) of a class of eight similar ships (the Diadem class) that had been designed for trade protection and intended to be "capable of dealing…


The Yorkshire Landings at Suvla : 25 April 1915

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It is often thought that the first time the volunteers raised by Lord Kitchener went into action was at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Whilst this was the first time in the Great War that Kitchener’s men had been used in large numbers, their first action took place nearly a year earlier. The ‘Lancashire Landing’ at Gallipoli is very well kn…


The Battle of Hill 70

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The Third Battle of Ypres (commonly, but inaccurately known as ‘Passchendaele’) commenced on 31 July 1917. High hopes of success soon evaporated as the attack bogged down in the mud caused by torrential rain. In an attempt to draw German troops away from the Ypres sector, a diversionary attack was planned to take place to the south in the Lens/Loos…


The Battle of Hill 70: Victoria Cross awards

/world-war-i-articles/the-battle-of-hill-70-victoria-cross-awards/

A number of Canadians earned the highest award for valour during the Battle of Hill 70. Private Harry Brown, 10th Battalion, 1st Canadian Infantry Division From The London Gazette For most conspicuous bravery, courage and devotion to duty. After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter-attacked. The situation became very…


Who was the first British soldier to be killed in the First World War in 1914?

/world-war-i-articles/who-was-the-first-british-soldier-to-be-killed-in-the-first-world-war-in-1914/

It is often asserted that the first British soldier to be killed in the war is buried very close to the last soldier to be killed, at St Symphorien Military Cemetery, Belgium. Indeed, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission note that Private John Parr, who was killed on 21 August 1914, is 'Believed to be the first British battle casualty of the war.…


Major John Noble Jephson of 'Jephson's Post' : 29 August 1915

/world-war-i-articles/major-john-noble-jephson-of-jephsons-post-29-august-1915/

On 29 August 1915 a Major John Jephson died of his wounds which had been sustained in the fighting at Gallipoli. One of thousands to die in this campaign, he has been remembered by a strong point that was a vital position in the Suvla landings of August. This is just a brief overview of the story. Above: A map of the Kiretch Tepe ridge showing J…


Biggles, the Battle of the Flowers and the RAF in the First World War

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In the rarely visited Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Charmes (some 25 miles due south of the city of Nancy) are several graves of men from the RAF. The reason for this is this was the area from which the Independent Force (sometimes called the Independent Air Force) operated against Germany in the later stages of the First World War…


The Affair at Néry

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The first weeks of the First World War had seen the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), under Field Marshal Sir John French, arrive in France and take up positions near Mons. Due to the overwhelming strength of the German Armies, this forward movement of the BEF rapidly turned into a retreat. As the BEF - and the French alongside them - fell back a …


Gunner Mustill and the hair dressing salon at Arras

/world-war-i-articles/gunner-mustill-and-the-hair-dressing-salon-at-arras/

Although the Great War is now more than 100 years ago, sometimes signs of the conflict can be observed in unexpected ways. In Arras, on the Rue due Temple, stands a house which is not particularly different from others. However, on closer inspection there can be seen some graffiti which reads '1st DCLI' and 'Hair Cutting Salon'. The brickwo…


Pension Cards made available for 'Widows and Dependents of Other Ranks Died'

/world-war-i-articles/pension-cards-made-available-for-widows-and-dependents-of-other-ranks-died/

Members of The Western Front Association will be delighted to learn that another massive release of Pension Record Cards has been made available by our partners Ancestry.co.uk via their ‘Fold3’ platform. As ever, these cards are freely available to WFA members who log into the WFA website. What has been released? The cards comprise well over a mi…


How the Pension Cards and Ledgers interconnect

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The recent publication of well over a million extra Pension Card from the 'Widows and Dependents' series has been detailed in an article on The Western Front Association's website, however it is likely further examples of these cards will assist with an understanding of exactly what has been published.  The 'widows and dependents cards' were creat…


George Peachment: one of the youngest recipients of the Victoria Cross : 25 September 1915

/world-war-i-articles/george-peachment-one-of-the-youngest-recipients-of-the-victoria-cross-25-september-1915/

George Peachment was, when he enlisted, not much different from many other young volunteers in that he lied about his age to try to 'do his bit' for King and Country. His first attempt to enlist was unsuccessful (according to a family member, to try to make him look older, he borrowed his father's bowler hat when he tried to enlist aged 17 years an…


PG Wodehouse, the real 'Jeeves' and his Great War

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One of the greatest writers in the English language is PG Wodehouse whose books are still a joy to read well over one hundred years since he started his literary career. ‘Plum’ as he was known had poor eyesight and as a result did not serve in the armed forces in the Great War. It is thought that in all of his books he hardly mentioned the Great W…


The sinking of HMS Hawke : 15 October 1914

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Margaret Lyness died on 10 April 1987 and with her went one of the last connections with a major incident in the early weeks of the war. Margaret was born on 16 March 1915 and christened 'Margaret Hawke'. Her parents were Joyce (an unusual name for a man) and Maggie Power. What is striking is the middle name that was chosen for Margaret. She was na…


Spring Forward, Fall Back. The changing of the clocks and the First World War

/world-war-i-articles/spring-forward-fall-back-the-changing-of-the-clocks-and-the-first-world-war/

Tonight (31 October 2021), those of us in the UK will be putting our clocks back by one hour as we move from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. It may be useful to ponder, in the extra hour that is made available to us a few facts around this ‘changing of the clocks’. The introduction of Daylight saving time is largely due to the campaign…


The 'Old Lag' VC: John William Mariner

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In Gun Fire edition number 33, there is a short paragraph in the 'Notes and Queries' section dealing with a First World War memorial within the prison at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. This paragraph in Gun Fire reads as follows: Perhaps the most unique and interesting war memorial in the country is that placed in the Prison Chapel at Parkhurst,…


Death on the shoreline: The foundering of HMHS Rohilla off Whitby : 30 October 1914

/world-war-i-articles/death-on-the-shoreline-the-foundering-of-hmhs-rohilla-off-whitby-30-october-1914/

For the vast majority of members of the British public, the outbreak of the First World War was not something that meant much in the early weeks, Other than crowds of men responding to Kitchener’s call for volunteers, the war was probably something that was only read about in the newspapers. It was obviously different in France and Belgium where mu…


The Youngest Colonel?

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When we think of ‘young soldiers’ in the Great War, we often think in terms of those who were killed aged 17 or younger. There are many claims and counterclaims about the ages of some of these boys who were killed. But there is also another factor to look at, and that is of those officers who achieved high rank in their early to mid 20’s. One examp…


Two brothers, but in different armies

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It is not unusual to find brothers who were killed in the Great War. It is, however, unusual to find brothers who fought in different national contingents. One example of this is the case of Homer Emmett Smith who died on 10 November 1917 whilst serving in the 20th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force. His brother Leon also served and was killed…


The Battle of Mughar Ridge: One soldier's story

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By the autumn of 1917, the allied forces had advanced from Egypt and were on the verge of advancing into Palestine. Two attempts had been made earlier in the year, but a third attack under General Allenby was planned. On 27th October 1917, the British started a bombardment of Gaza. The Turks had been fed reports indicating that a third frontal atta…


Capt The Hon Neil Primrose: son of a Prime Minister

/world-war-i-articles/capt-the-hon-neil-primrose-son-of-a-prime-minister/

When asked if the sacrifice in the First World War was shared equally between the highest in society and the lowliest, it is often the example of HH Asquith, the Prime Minister, who springs to mind. Asquith's son, Raymond, was killed during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It is less well known that another (former) Prime Minister lost his son in …


Luke Leadbeater - remembered by the fiancée he never married 100 years on

/world-war-i-articles/luke-leadbeater-remembered-by-the-fiancée-he-never-married-100-years-on/

On 22 November 1917, there occurred in Belgium the death of Private Luke Leadbeater. A single man, it would normally have been the case that few remember him after more than 100 years. This is not, however, the case. Luke was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1898. After his father (also called Luke) died, his mother (Sarah) remarried and became Mr…


The Indian Cavalry at Cambrai : 30 November 1917

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Cavalry in the First World War was rarely used, at least in its traditional mounted role. A famous exception to this is the mounted attack towards High Wood on the Somme in 1916.  It is fortunate that cavalry divisions, held for the hoped for exploitation after the attack at Cambrai were still available when, on 30 November 1917, the Germans launc…


From Schoolboy to Battalion Commander: Cecil Crichton-Browne : 13 December 1918

/world-war-i-articles/from-schoolboy-to-battalion-commander-cecil-crichton-browne-13-december-1918/

Captain (Acting Major) Cecil Harold Crichton-Browne was aged just 22 when he died on 13 December 1918. At the outbreak of the war he had joined his father’s regiment, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. In just four years he was promoted from Second Lieutenant to acting Major and briefly commanded the 1st Battalion. This is his story.  Cecil Chri…


The Raid on Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool : 16 December 1914

/world-war-i-articles/the-raid-on-scarborough-whitby-and-hartlepool-16-december-1914/

Much has been written about the German naval raid on the East Coast on 16 December 1914. A lot of this has concentrated on the raid on Scarborough. Two other towns were hit in this raid, which took place on 16 December 1914, being Whitby and Hartlepool. The German vessels were commanded by Admiral Hipper.  Admiral Franz Ritter von Hipper He co…


The First Phosgene Attack on British Troops : 19 December 19015

/world-war-i-articles/the-first-phosgene-attack-on-british-troops-19-december-19015/

The first use of phosgene gas against British troops by the German army took place on 19 December 1915. The gas attack took place north of Ypres where the 49th (West Riding) Division was in the line. This attack had been ‘given away’ when a German prisoner had been interrogated. As a result an artillery barrage on the German trenches was ordered o…


The First World War paid off?

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[This article was originally published in 'Stand To!' number 104 in September 2015. Members of The Western Front Association can access all back-issues of Stand To! via the 'members' area' of the website. ] It is appropriate to re-publish this article as the Covid-19 pandemic is causing questions to be asked about the level of national debt, which…


The workhorse of the staff: The Vauxhall D-Type staff car

/world-war-i-articles/the-workhorse-of-the-staff-the-vauxhall-d-type-staff-car/

If asked to suggest the most numerous (or even preferred) type of ‘Staff Car’ used by British Generals and other officers to drive around during the First World War, most people will immediately say "Rolls Royce”. But that would not be correct. Even King George V was not afforded this make of vehicle when he visited the western front. Surprisin…


Eton Street 'Shrine' in Hull and the loss of the Earl

/world-war-i-articles/eton-street-shrine-in-hull-and-the-loss-of-the-earl/

At the corner of Eton Street and Hessle Road in Hull stood until recently a branch of the Yorkshire Bank. As with most cities, the closure of bank branches has accelerated in recent years leading to further declines in local services. This is nothing new - this area of Hull has been subject to changes and ‘slum clearances’. It was during these c…


Other Ranks Survived: The Final Release of Pension Records

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The final set of Pension Record Cards has just been published by our partners 'Ancestry.co.uk' on their Fold3 platform. As with all the other cards and ledgers these are freely available for WFA members via the 'library edition' on the WFA's website.  The following article is intended to give an overview of this final set of 'Other Ranks Survived'…


Gott Strafe England

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The 'withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line' of February 1917 enabled allied troops to occupy previously German-held towns and villages. The advance was not easy, the Germans left behind booby traps and other 'presents' that would today be termed 'IEDs' (Improvised Explosive Device). Following a 'scorched earth policy' they also reportedly cut down orch…


Cases of 'insanity' revealed in the Pension Records

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The Pension Records which have been saved by The Western Front Association reveal an incredible array of information. In this piece we will briefly look at the mental health issues that are revealed on these cards. Many Pension cards reveal shocking cases of physical injury, but there are a substantial numbers of cards that let us glimpse into non…


Brothers Buried Together during the First World War

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The Western Front Association’s Pension Record Cards have been very useful in numerous ways – one of these is in being able to identify brothers who were killed – this is because the pension claims by parents detail the two or more sons that they lost in the war. This line of research has led onto the situation of brothers who were killed in the w…


The Sinking of the RMS Falaba, 28 March 1915.

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The RMS Falaba was sunk by a German submarine on 28 March 1915. This incident, and that of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania some weeks later, nearly brought the USA into the war in 1915. Above: The passenger steamer Falaba, sunk 28 March 1915, with the loss of 104 lives. Many were West African crewmen. Source: State Library of Victoria, Australi…


The Cavalry at Monchy-le-Preux

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The Battle of Arras started on 9 April, Easter Monday,  1917. The most famous action in this battle is the storming of the heights of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps on the left of the British attack. Success elsewhere on the front was good, if not quite so spectacular. Cyril Falls (who wrote the volume of the Official History covering 1917) state…


John Duxbury of 'The Miners Battalion'

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Many local organisations were motivated to assist the war effort. They did this by recruiting men who were associated with the organisation or area, and formed these recruits into battalions. The majority of these battalions were recruited geographically, and such battalions as the Leeds Pals, Bradford Pals and Grimsby Chums were formed. Other batt…


St George’s Day at Zeebrugge

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One of the reasons for Britain and her Empire going to war in 1914 was because of the perceived danger to the UK’s maritime trade posed by a hostile Germany controlling the ports on the European side of the English Channel and North Sea. The German conquest of much of Belgium, including the Belgian coast line, brought about this feared scenario wit…


The Story of the 62nd (West Riding) Division by Everard Wyrall

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Depending on how one would define a Divisional History, approximately forty British Divisional Histories were published between 1919 and 1939.[i]  Care does need to be exercised with this number, as certain titles listed by Dr Bourne are stories of sub-units[ii] or seemingly merely lists[iii] or cover only a brief period of the division’s war servi…


The Manchester United v Liverpool match fixing scandal of 1915

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Association football had, despite the outbreak of the First World War, not been suspended by the time the season ‘kicked off’ in the summer of 1914. This brought much criticism on clubs and indeed players. The season 1914-15 was destined to be the last until the 1919-20 season. Above: A photo of the 1909 FA Cup Final Bristol City (in blue) v Man…


The Loss of the HMT Transylvania 4 May 1917

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The liner Transylvania was completed just before the outbreak of the First World War and was to have served the Anchor Line, which was a subsidiary of the Cunard Line.  Transylvania was taken over for service as a troop transport on completion and the Admiralty fixed her capacity at 200 officers and 2,860 men plus her crew. On 3 May 1917 she left…


The Great War Memorials to the Bowlby Brothers

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Captain Geoffrey Bowlby of the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) was killed leading his squadron in a charge across 1,000 yards of open country north of Bellewarde Farm, during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, on the afternoon of 13 May, 1915. His commanding officer wrote: "I cannot tell you what a loss he is to the Regiment; he was as gallant as he could be…


Vivian Hicking - a Grimsby Chum in India, drowned 3 June 1919

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After the armistice, many men would have been returning to their homes after receiving their discharge from the army, however men were still required not only for the occupation of part of Germany, but also for the continuing garrison duties in the far-flung corners of the Empire. It was in India in June 1919 that tragedy was to strike, causing the…


Running the Rufiji Gauntlet: The destruction of SMS Königsberg

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Early on the morning of 6 July 1915 two warships slipped away from Tirene Bay on Mafia Island, and slowly headed towards the coast of Tanzania, less than 30 miles away. The vessels were small, at 265 feet in length, and sat very low in the water: there was only three feet of freeboard fore and aft. However, they were heavily armed, each carrying tw…


Argentina in the Great War

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Argentina was a neutral country during World War I. However, one-third of its population was made up of foreign citizens, including those of countries currently at war. The area was prime for German propaganda and for German agents. One of these agents apparently poisoned a large number of mules which were due to be shipped to Mesopotamia The effo…


Major Mick Mannock KIA 10 July 1918 and the ongoing mystery of his grave

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On 10 July 1918, Major Edward Mannock, who had recently been appointed to command 85 Squadron of the newly created RAF, heard that his friend James McCudden had been killed in a flying accident. This news seriously depressed ‘Mick’ as he was known, but also motivated him into a killing spree. On top of his already impressive haul, he shot down six …


The Low Moor Munitions Factory Explosion

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Monday, August 21 in 1916 was a fine and sunny day, but would be remembered in the area of Low Moor - which is a small town to the south of Bradford, in West Yorkshire - for many years. However, over the decades, the memories of this day have faded and the unimaginable horror that took place is now largely forgotten. A clue as to the events of thi…


The 'fake' French Aristocrat at Etaples

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In the vast expanse of Etaples Military Cemetery are thousands of headstones. Each of these represents the last resting place of a casualty of the war. No doubt all stories are unique, but to misquote George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, some are 'more unique than others'.   Above: Etaples Military Cemetery Below is the image of a headstone of what wo…


Ministry of Pensions Regional Offices

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After the First World War, the Ministry of Pensions (for a short time) created a number of regional offices in order to deal with the administration of pensions paid to disabled soldiers. The location of these offices had been a bit of a mystery. Until now.  It is of interest to know where the administration of these pensions took place. Some of t…


Submarine operations at Gallipoli in 1915

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When we think about submarine warfare in the First World War, most people’s thoughts turn to the German use of unrestricted submarine warfare, this being was one of the factors that ultimately brought about the entry of the USA into the war in 1917. The British and Empire nations’ use of submarines is largely a forgotten subject. However, during t…


The strangest dog fight of the war?

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The German Albatros aeroplane shown here is preserved at the AWM in Australia. It was shot down during what is perhaps one of the strangest combats in flying history on 17 December 1917. Above: Albatros D.Va, Serial D.5390/17, at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra This German Albatros D.Va (numbered 5390/17) was being flown by Leutnant Rud…


Turkey for Christmas Dinner, 1915

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Christmas Day in the front line trenches was (with the possible – partial – exception of 1914) likely to be almost identical to any other day of the year. In terms of a soldier's ‘Christmas Dinner’ – other than the contents of parcels from home – this was again more than likely going to be identical to all other meals: a mixture of Bully Beef, Maco…