MURROW Archibald 1893 – 1918


Private 24481, Archibald Murrow, 22nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry died of wounds 30 March 1918, aged 25.  He is buried at the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France[1] and commemorated on the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

Archibald was born in Evenwood in 1893 the son of John and Margaret, (nee Stockdale – from Crook and Bedburn, respectively).  They had married in Etherley in 1891 and were parents to seven children:[2]

  • Elizabeth Margaret (“Madge”) bc.1892 at West Auckland
  • Archibald born 1893 at Evenwood
  • John bc.1895 at Evenwood
  • Lillie bc.1896 at Evenwood
  • Robert bc.1898 at Evenwood
  • Annie bc.1900 at Evenwood
  • May bc.1902 at Evenwood

In 1901, the family lived at Toft Hill where 39 years old John senior worked as a coal miner (hewer).[3]  By 1911, they were at Woodside, Witton Park. John was still a coal miner (hewer) and Archibald, aged 17, and his 16 years old brother John were both coal miners, “pony drivers”, perhaps in the same pit as their father.[4]

Military Details

The service details of Private Archibald Murrow have not been researched.  Archibald Murrow enlisted at Barnard Castle, joining the 13th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry (13/DLI) and allocated the service number 24481.[5]  He was later transferred, date unknown, to the 22nd Battalion, DLI (22/DLI).[6]  In view of this unknown date, a number of assumptions have been made.  Private A. Murrow was wounded twice and it has been presumed that he continued to serve with 13/DLI after his first wound and then following recovery from his second wound, he was transferred to 22/DLI, a pioneer battalion attached to the 8th Division.

The 13th (Service) Battalion was formed in September 1914 as part of K3 Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of 68th Brigade 23rd Division.  The 68th Brigade comprised the following units:[7]

  • 10th (Service) Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 11th (Service) Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 12th (Service) Bn., the Durham Light Infantry
  • 13th (Service) Bn., the Durham Light Infantry
  • 68th Machine Gun Company joined March 1916
  • 68th Trench Mortar Battery formed June 1916

The 23rd Division landed in France in August 1915.[8]  Private A. Murrow entered France later, 24 September 1915, as did another Witton Park soldier also serving with 13/DLI, 24505 Private James Hull.[9] Private James Hull was killed in action 23 September 1916.[10]  Details of wounds received by Private A. Murrow are:      

  1. 21 August 1916: a Casualty List issued by the War Office listed Private A. Murrow as “wounded” and he was subsequently entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe”.[11]
  2. 8 August 1917: War Office Daily List No.5332 reports Private A. Murrow being entitled to wear a “Wound Stripe”.[12]

The following account will examine the circumstances leading to these wounds and his death.  Up until he received his first wound in August 1916, the 23rd Division took part in the following engagements during the Battle of the Somme: [13]

  • 1 – 13 July: The Battle of Albert
  • 14 – 17 July: The Battle of Bazentin Ridge
  • 23 July – 3 September: The Battle of Pozieres

Between 1 July and 3 September 1916, 13/DLI lost 4 officers and 73 ORs., killed in action or died of wounds[14].  Given the above information, it is assumed that Private A. Murrow received his first wound prior to 21 August 1916.  The battalion was not involved in any significant engagement at this time.  In fact, the 23rd Division was pulled out of the line on the Somme front and moved north to the Armentieres sector.  By 15 August, 13/DLI was at Steenwerck and then 18 August relieved 23/Middlesex Regiment on in front line trenches.  There was an incident reported on 22 August, when a 3-man patrol from D Company set out to check No-man’s land.  No-one returned.[15] But this clearly is after Private A, Murrow sustained his injury.  It is therefore assumed that Private A. Murrow sustained his wound during routine duties.

The exact date when Private A. Murrow was transferred to 22/DLI has not been traced.  It is assumed that, after recovering from his first wounds, he returned to duty with 13/DLI.  It is further assumed that he was posted “in the field” to take part in training for the Battle of Messines, 7 – 14 June 1917.  13/DLI took part and lost 2 officers and 27 other ranks.[16]  This battle achieved notoriety for the effective use of mine warfare and removed German strongpoints overlooking the Ypres Salient.  The Battle of Messines preceded the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as “Passchendaele” and the opening phase took place on the 31 July. 

A report dated 8 August 1917 lists Private A, Murrow as “wounded”.  Between the 16 June and 8 August, 13/DLI was not involved in any significant engagements, nevertheless, lost 1 officer and 12 other ranks.  The officer was Temporary Second Lieutenant F. Youens who as awarded the Victoria Cross.  His citation reads: [17]

“Near Hill 60, Belgium.  For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.  While out on patrol this officer was wounded and had to return to his trenches to have his wounds dressed.  Shortly afterwards a report came in that the enemy were preparing to raid our trenches.  Second Lieutenant Youens regardless of his wound immediately set out to rally the team of a Lewis gun, which had become disorganised owing to heavy shell fire.  During this process an enemy’s bomb fell on the Lewis gun position without exploding.  Second Lieutenant Youens immediately picked it up and hurled it over the parapet.  Shortly afterwards another bomb fell near the same place; Second Lieutenant Youens picked it up with the intention of throwing it away, when it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and also some of his men.  There is little doubt that the prompt and gallant action of Second Lieutenant Youens saved several of his men’s lives and that by his energy and resource the enemy’s raid was completely repulsed.  This gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds.”

Privates R.H. Metcalfe, F.J. Porteous and C Wright also died on this day.  Second Lieutenant Youens and Private R.H. Metcalfe are buried together at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm) near Zillebeke.[18]  Privates Porteous and Wright have no known grave and are commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. [19]  Whether or not Private A. Murrow was wounded here is not known.

There was an incident, 12 July, when an enemy plane flew over the Mic Mac Camp, dropped bombs and 2 men were wounded.  Working parties, carrying ammunition for 70/Machine Gun Company, were provided such as that 17 July.  Perhaps, Private A. Murrow was engaged in this work and sustained a wound.  On 30 July, 13/DLI left for St. Omer and billets at Wizernes.  On 24 August, 13/DLI left Moulle for Watten.[20]  There was no major engagement between these dates therefore it is assumed that Private. A. Murrow received his second wound, possibly 12 July, as a result of enemy bombing.

The 23rd Division took no part in the opening engagement of “Third Ypres” and did not enter the field of battle until 20 September, the Battle of Menin Road.  Thereafter, the 23rd Division moved to the Italian theatre in November 1917.  It may seem logical for a recovering soldier to be transferred to the Western Front rather than being posted to a distant Italy.  In Private A. Murrow’s case, he was recovering from a second wound.  It may have seemed appropriate to post him, a miner in civilian life, to a Pioneer Battalion rather than a front line infantry unit.   

22/DLI and the 8th Division

As indicated above Private A. Murrow was transferred to 22/DLI, a “Pioneer Battalion”, which had been part of the Divisional Troops attached to the 8th Division since July 1916.  The Durham Pioneers had worked on the Somme and Passchendaele battlefields and in February 1918, earned the praise of Brigadier General R.A. Gillam, Chief Engineer, VIII Corps for their, “exceptionally good services” in constructing a new double plank road, a bridge east of Frezenberg and general maintenance work.[21]  In early March, a number of men were attached to 245 Coy RE to assist with the construction of deep dug outs.[22]  This type of work continued until the much anticipated German Spring offensive commenced 21 March 1918, back on the Somme.  The Durham men then moved to this front. 

They were needed to fight as infantrymen and during the fighting, up to their relief by French troops, 2 April, 22/DLI lost almost 500 men killed, wounded or missing including the commanding officer, Colonel Cecil Morgan who was mortally wounded. [23] Private A. Murrow died of wounds 30 March.[24]  The following account is taken from 22/DLI War Diary for March 1918.[25]

22 March: 22/DLI entrained at Poperinghe, [west of Ypres, Belgium] bound for the Somme.

23 March: A and C Companies detrained at Marcelcove and Guillaucourt; B Company and Transport at Guillaucourt, and they marched to Rosieres were they were billeted.

24 March: The battalion moved to position at Potte Wood and along the Pertain to Morchain Road.

25 March: at 9am, the Germans attacked in strength, the flanks were isolated so a withdrawal took place to positions NE of Pertain.  Estimated casualties were 14 officers and about 400 other ranks.  

26 March: withdrawal to positions east of Lihons then to the west of Rosieres near the brickworks.

27 March: further instructions to withdraw to NE of Harbonnieres with a view towards making a counter attack with 2/Devons:

“This counter attack was a great success pushing the enemy back in a NE direction for a distance of 1000 yards to the MAIN AMIENS – ESTREES ROAD, where a trench was seized and held.  Many prisoners were taken.  Casualties were comparatively light but the C.O. & 2nd Lt. Scott were both wounded & subsequently died of wounds.”

28 March: orders to withdraw to north of Harbonnieres, south to Caix and to Morisel.  B Company proceeded to Jumel.  Casualties about 15 ORs.

29 March: A and C Companies moved from Morisel to Jumel to join B Company and Transport.

30 March: ordered to 25th Brigade HQ at Castel then to the wood north east of Moreuil.

31 March: During the afternoon, there was a heavy enemy barrage followed by an attack in strength forcing the battalion to withdraw.  Casualties included Major Mitchell, Captain Robson, Lt. Crutchley and a Second Lt. (name undecipherable due to a tear of the page) and 75 other ranks.  Another estimate suggested that 23 officers and 469 others were killed, wounded or missing.[26]  Later research records that between 25 and 31 March, 22/DLI lost 2 officers and 132 other ranks, killed in action or died of wounds including Private A. Murrow who died of wounds 30 March.[27]  He is buried at Rouen where there was a concentration of Allied hospitals.  It is assumed that he was evacuated from the front line, via an Advanced Dressing Station, Casualty Clearing Station then transported to hospital in Rouen for treatment.  However, he succumbed to his wounds.  Most men died 26 March – 104 of the 134 casualties.[28]   


Private 24481, Archibald Murrow, 22nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry died of wounds 30 March 1918, aged 25.  He is buried at grave reference P.VI.C.1B, St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.  Rouen, was an area which had been a hospital centre throughout the war and until 1920.

Private A. Murrow’s headstone[29]

Awards and Medals

Private A. Murrow was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British war medals.[30]


Initially, Archibald Murrow’s mother Margaret received his effects [31] and his pension until her death in 1918 [32] then Archibald’s sister Madge.  The family then lived at 10 Cement Row, Woodside.[33]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)

[2] 1901 and 1911 census

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1911 census

[5] Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW)

[6] Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory and British War Medals dated 23 April 1920



[9] Medal Roll card index

[10] CWGC

[11] Forces War Records archive refs.: DT21081916 and DT29081916 (report date 20/08/1916)

[12] Forces War Records archive ref: NLS1917_WList02 (report date 08/08/1917)


[14] Officers Died in the Great War (ODGW) and Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW)

[15] “With Bayonets Fixed; The 12th & 13th Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry in the Great War” 2013 John Sheen p.173 &174

[16] ODGW & SDGW

[17] Sheen p.299

[18] “Beyond Praise: The Durham Light Infantrymen who were awarded the Victoria Cross” 1998 Stephen D. Shannon p.32

[19] Sheen p.234

[20] Sheen p.235

[21] “Durham Pals: 18th 19th & 22nd Battalions of The Durham Light Infantry in the Great War” 2007 John Sheen p.227

[22] Sheen p.228


[24] CWGC & SDGW

[25] 22/DLI War Diary March 1918.  Note: it is not verbatim.

[26] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” 1920 Capt. Wilfred Miles p.274

[27] ODGW & SDGW

[28] ODGW & SDGW

[29] Photo courtesy of Find a Grave website

[30] Medal Roll card index and Rolls dated 17 October 1919 & 23 April 1920

[31] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.688537

[32] England & Wales Death Index 1915-2007 Vol.10a p.317 Auckland 1918 Q1

[33] Pension Claimants card index Note: the card index records that the pension was transferred from sister to mother in 1921 but this does not accord with Archibald’s mother death in 1918 (aged 78). It is probably a clerical error.