APPLEBY Arthur Wilson MC 1889-1976

Family Details

Arthur Wilson Appleby was born 9 June 1889[1], the son of Robert and Margaret Appleby.[2]  There were at least 8 children, all born at Barnard Castle other than Emily:

  • Emily bc.1876 at Startforth, North Yorkshire
  • Ernest bc.1878
  • Albert bc.1881
  • Annie bc.1884
  • Tom bc.1887
  • Arthur W. born 1889
  • Charles bc.1892
  • David bc.1895

In 1891, the family lived at Galgate, Barnard Castle, County Durham and Robert was employed as a “Plate Layer [Railway]”.[3] 

1898: Robert Appleby, aged 65, died and was buried at Barnard Castle.[4]

In 1901, widowed Margaret lived at 73 Galgate, Barnard Castle with 6 children and a boarder, Matthew Borrowdale who worked as a “Railway plate layer”.  Albert, now 20 years old worked as a “Tailor journeyman” and Tom was recorded as a “Greengrocer’s Assistant”.  Arthur was 12 years old and not working.[5] 

By 1911, the family lived at 14 Coronation Terrace, Cockfield where 4 of her sons found employment as coal miners.  Tom aged 24 was a “hewer”, Arthur aged 21 and Charles aged 18 were both recorded as a “Putter” and David aged 15 was a “Pony driver”.  Albert aged 30, was employed as a “Tailor”.  Annie aged 27 was single and was at home.  Margaret Ann Appleby aged 50 was recorded as head of the family.[6]   

1912 20 March:  Arthur W. Appleby, apparently was successful when examined to join the West Riding Constabulary.  A description is provided.  He was 22 years 9 months old, stood 5’10¼” tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, worked as a miner for the North Bitchburn Coal Company, was a single man, lived at Cockfield.  A specimen of his handwriting neatly confirmed, “Appointed subject to age limit 20 March 1912”. [7] NBCC worked Gordon House Colliery at Cockfield.

1918 9 March:  Arthur Wilson Appleby married Ruth Christine Barton [8] at St. Paul’s Church, St. Pancras, London.

Military Details

The following is a brief summary of the service of A.W. Appleby: [9]

  • 29 June 1915 to 27 November 1917: served in the ranks, The Durham Light Infantry.  [DLI]
  • 28 November 1917: appointed to a commission as Second Lieutenant, The Yorkshire Regiment [Territorial Force] otherwise known as The Green Howards
  • 5 March 1919: Demobilised
  • 28 May 1919: Promoted to Lieutenant
  • 30 January 1920: Awarded Military Cross [10]
  • 30 September 1921:  Relinquished commission and retained rank of Lieutenant [11]


Further Details are provided:[12]


  • 29 June: Arthur Wilson Appleby, aged 26, embodied into the 3rd Line, 6th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry and was allocated the service number 3970 [then 7023 and later 203247 when the Territorial units were renumbered in 1917].  His given address was 14 Coronation Terrace, Cockfield.  At this time, he underwent a medical examination and was considered “fit for the Territorial Force”.  He stood 5’8”.[13]
  • 3 July: signed the agreement to be place overseas [Imperial and General Service Obligation] [14]
  • 17 July: Appointed Lance Corporal
  • 7 September: Promoted to Corporal


  • 6 February: Embarked at Southampton
  • 26 February: joined 1/6 DLI in the field and reverted to private
  • 10 March: appointed unpaid Lance Corporal
  • 2 April: Wounded in action
  • 3 April: Canadian Field Ambulance, shrapnel wound, right buttock, moved onto 10 Casualty Clearance Station
  • 4 April: From 10 CCS to Ambulance Train
  • 5 April: Admitted to 23 General Hospital, Etaples
  • 9 April: from 23 GH to England via the hospital ship “Asturias”. [15]
  • 23 April: report listing 3970 Lance Corporal A.W. Appleby as wounded which entitled him to wear a “Wound Stripe” authorised under Army Order 204 of 6 July 1916. [16]
  • 16 May: Lance Corporal [3/6 DLI]
  • 1 September: transferred to 5th Reserve DLI 


  • 27 May: Medical Examination and considered fit for military service.  He was 5’10¼” tall, weighed 158 pounds.
  • 21 June: Application for admission to an Officer Cadet Unit.  This document confirmed his previous rank as Sergeant, 5th Res Bn., DLI, Scotton Camp, Catterick, Yorkshire. [17]
  • 22 November: Discharged to Commission, 4th Bn., Yorkshire Regiment 
  • 28 November: From Officer Cadet Unit to be 2nd Lieutenant. [18]

Sergeant A.W. Appleby served 2 years 152 days in the Territorial Force, as follows:[19]

  • Home: 29 June 1915 to 5 February 1916…………………………………222 days
  • Abroad: 6 February 1916 to 8 April 1916……………………………………62 days
  • Home: 9 April 1916 to 29 November 1917…………………….1 year 233 days
  • Total…………………………………………………………………………….2 years 152 days

At this time, his next of kin was recorded as his mother, Margaret Ann Appleby, 14 Coronation Terrace, Cockfield, County Durham.


  • April: Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby joined 4th Yorkshire Regiment in the field.[20]
  • 27 May: Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby, 4th Yorkshire Regiment was captured and taken POW at Craonne, France.[21]
  • 22 July: A report records that Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby, 4th Yorkshire Regiment was held at Karlsruhe Camp [Stammlager].  Next of kin was Mrs. A.W. Appleby c/o Mrs. G. Barton, High Street, Helmsley, Yorkshire.[22]


  • 28 January: letter of confirmation of demobilization.[23]
  • 4 February: Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby ordered to join 4th Res. Bn., Yorks Regt on 26 February 1919.[24]
  • 5 March: 4th Res Yorkshire Regiment.  Dispersal unit – Clipstone.  His occupation was noted as a “Police Constable”.  His home address was 9 Thornville Street, Burley Fields, Leeds.[25]
  • 28 May: Promoted to Lieutenant, 4th Yorkshire Regiment. [26]
  • December: Repatriation date.[27]


  • 30 January: Awarded Military Cross [28]


  • 30 September:  Relinquished commission and retained rank of Lieutenant [29]

Medals and Awards

  • Victory medal and British War medal.[30]
  • Military Cross.

Service on the Western Front

Arthur Wilson Appleby had 2 tours of the Western Front:

  1. an infantryman with 1/6 DLI between 6 February and 8 April 1916, wounded in action 2 April 1916
  2. an officer, Second Lieutenant, 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment [The Green Howards] between April and 27 May 1918, when he was taken prisoner of war at Craonne, France and held at Karlsruhe POW Camp, Germany. 

The following will look at events surrounding these dates. 

With the 1/6 Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, 151st Brigade, 50th [Northumbrian] Division

1914 August:  The 1/6th Battalion was formed at Bishop Auckland, as part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division and in May 1915 became the 151st Brigade of the 50th [Northumbrian] Division.[31]  

1915 16 April:  The Division moved to France and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  The battalions in the 151st Brigade were:

  • 1/6th Bn., DLI
  • 1/7th Bn., DLI
  • 1/8th Bn., DLI
  • 1/9th Bn., DLI
  • 1/5th Bn., the Loyal North Lancs. joined June 1915

Following heavy casualties in June 1915 the battalion merged with the 1/8th to become the 6/8th then it returned to its original identity 11 August 1915 and was then joined by:

  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn., the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916

The 50th [Northumbrian] Division at the Ypres Salient, Belgium [32]

The 50th [Northumbrian] Division was not involved in any major British offensives while it was at the Salient in early 1916.  Actions did take place such as The Bluff 14-15 February & 2 March 1916 and St. Eloi Craters 27 March – 16 April 1916 but by other divisions.[33]  50th Division entered the sector 17 December 1915 taking up positions just south west of Hill 60 to the Menin Road.  Intense artillery fire and mining activity were the main features of the war in this sector.  The Germans held complete superiority in the air and British positions were observed at ease which assisted accurate enemy shelling.[34]

3970 Private A.W. Appleby served on the Western Front for 62 days between 6 February 1916 and 8 April 1916. On the 6th February, the battalion relieved 5th Borders in the trenches.  Enemy shelling caused inevitable casualties.  The usual violence of warfare took its toll over these months, as the following accounts confirm.

30 March: 1/6 DLI relieved 8/DLI.  Enemy bombardments over the next 3 days reached a crescendo on the 2nd April.[35]

“The German guns had the exact range of the Brigade positions and from 2.00pm onwards subjected the trenches and dugouts to a severe pounding.  Gordon Post and Brigade HQ suffered particularly…the trenches held by the Battalion were wrecked and casualties were kept to a minimum by skilful evacuation …the battalion lost 6 men killed or wounded at The Dump and Langhof Chateau.”

The Divisional History records events as follows: [36]

“The 151st Brigade was due to be relieved by the 1st Canadian Brigade on the 2nd April.  But before the Brigade got away it suffered a heavy gruelling from the enemy’s artillery.  With 4 aeroplanes observing and registering targets the German guns fairly plastered the whole area and the whole of the Brigade’s Headquarters dug-outs at Zillebeke were blown in.  Capt. J.G. Harter [Brigadier-Major 151st Brigade] was severely wounded and died the next morning; 10 servants, clerks and signallers attached to Headquarters were also wounded, some dying later.”

One of the wounded men was Lance Corporal A.W. Appleby.

2/3 April: The Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion, 1st Division, The Canadian Corps. 

Later research records that between 6 February and 10 April 1916, 6/DLI lost 22 Other Ranks, killed or died of wounds.[37]

Lance Corporal C.W. Appleby was treated for a shrapnel wound to his right buttock by the Canadian Field Ambulance then he was passed down the evacuation line to 10 Casualty Clearance Station, an ambulance train to 23rd General Hospital, Etaples then back to the UK via HMHS “Asturias” for further treatment.  “Asturias” had been a Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ocean liner, built in Ireland in 1908.  On the eve of the Great War, the British Admiralty requisitioned her as a hospital ship with a capacity for 896 patients.  Her First Class smoke-room was converted into an operating theatre, the dining room into a ward for 85 patients, cabin partitions were removed to provide other wards, the children’s dining room was converted into bathrooms and toilets, radiology and disinfecting facilities were installed.  She was repainted in hospital ship livery – a white hull with a broad green band punctuated by large red crosses. [38]

HMHS “Asturias”

Source: book page:

After hospital treatment, he returned to the DLI before applying to train as an officer.  His application was accepted and by December 1917, he had been gazetted as a Second Lieutenant, 4th Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.

With the 1/4th Bn., Alexandra Princess of Wales Own, The Yorkshire Regiment, 150th Brigade, 50th [Northumbrian] Division [39]

1914 August: The battalion was formed in Northallerton, North Yorkshire as part of the York & Durham Brigade, Northumbrian Division.  The Yorkshire Regiment is also known as the Green Howards.

1915 18 April: It land at Boulogne, France and came under the orders of the 150th Brigade, 50th [Northumbrian] Division. The 150th Brigade comprised the following units: [40]

  • 1/4th Bn., the East Yorkshire Regiment
  • 1/4th Bn., the Yorkshire Regiment
  • 1/5th Bn., the Yorkshire Regiment
  • 150th Machine Gun Company formed February 1916, moved to 50th Bn., MGC 1 March 1918
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916

The 50th Division encountered much fighting during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.  The following account will firstly set the scene for the German Spring Offensive then will look at the action around Sailly-sur-Lys, in April when Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby joined the 4th Bn., Green Howards in the field.  Finally, then actions of 27 May will be examined, when the 50th Division once again, and for the third time, met the full fury of the German offensive.

The German Offensive, Spring 1918: an overview [41]

3 March 1918:  Soviet Russia made peace with Germany and her allies by virtue of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  As a result, Germany could now transfer troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front.  More importantly, these Divisions included the original elite of the German Army – the Guards, Jagers, Prussians, Swabians and the best of the Bavarians. In all, 192 Divisions could be deployed in the West.  The Allies could field 178 Divisions.  A single division numbered about 19,000 men.  Ludendorff could call upon about 3,650,000 men as opposed to the Allies 3,380,000.  Thus, the Germans now held superiority in numbers.  

The German High Command needed victory to be gained before the American Forces arrived in Europe in huge numbers.  America entered the war 6 April 1917 and in the July, Pershing General of the Armies of the United States asked for an army of 3 million men.  The first of her troops arrived in France 26 June 1917. The training and build-up of troops obviously took time but eventually by June 1918, the Americans were receiving about 250,000 men a month in France.  This amounted to 25 divisions in or behind the battle zone and another 55 in the United States ready to join the action.

Elsewhere in the Alliance, the French were able to draw on a new annual class of conscripts after a year of inactivity but the British were worn down by continuous fighting during the summer of 1917 with major offensives at Arras, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai.  The strength of the British infantry had fallen from 754,000 in July 1917 to 543,000 in June 1918 producing a manpower crisis.

21 March 1918:  the German Offensive was launched.  There were 5 phases:

  • 21 March – 5 April: Operation Michael, against the British, the Battle of Picardy (otherwise known as the First Battle of the Somme 1918)
  • 9 – 11 April: Operation Georgette, against the British, the Battle of Lys sector near Armentieres
  • 27 April: Operation Blucher-Yorck, against the French sector along Chemin des Dames, the Third Battle of Aisne
  • 9 June: Operation Gneisenau, against the French sector between Noyan and Montdider, the Battle of the Matz
  • 15 – 17 July: Operation Marne-Rheims, the final phase known as the Second Battle of the Marne.

The Germans enjoyed spectacular territorial gains particularly during the initial phases of the offensive.  23 March, the Kaiser declared a “victory holiday” for German schoolchildren.  The cost in manpower was enormous:

  • Between 21 March and 10 April the 3 main assaulting armies had lost 303,450 men – 1/5th of their original strength.
  • The April offensive against the British in Flanders was eventually computed to have cost 120,000 men out of a total of 800,000.

The German High Command calculated that it required 200,000 replacements each month but only 300,000 recruits stood available taking into account the next annual class of 18-year olds.  There were 70,000 convalescents available from hospitals each month but even counting them, the strength of the German Army had fallen from 5.1 million to 4.2 million men in the 6 months of the offensive.  It could not be increased on the estimated scale required.  To add to this dilemma, in June 1918, the first outbreak of “Spanish Flu” laid low nearly 500,000 German soldiers.  This epidemic was to reoccur in the autumn and wreak havoc throughout Europe and the wider world. Added to this the poor diet of the German troops, battle fatigue, discontentment with the military leadership, social unrest at home and a general realisation that their great effort was beginning to wane, the Allies counter attack in mid-July began to seize the initiative.  Sweeping victories over demoralised German forces eventually led to the resignation of Ludendorff 27 October, the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II 9 November and the signing of the Armistice 11 November 1918.

The Lys Offensive: 9 – 29 April 1918

Ludendorff’s first and biggest offensive had resulted in the greatest advance since the first months of the war but it had failed to achieve any decisive results.  The chief error was that he had concentrated his efforts on the strongest sector held by the British Third Army and the operation was affected by severe transport problems and low morale of undernourished troops.  Casualties were enormous – 240,000 Allied losses, slightly more German casualties.  Unable to make further progress on the Somme, Ludendorff turned to Flanders and the Lys Offensive.

The Battle of Lys, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres was planned as Operation Georgette with the objective of capturing Ypres.  There were several phases:[42]

  • 9 – 11 April: Battle of Estaires
  • 10 & 11 April: Battle of Messines
  • 12 – 15 April: Battle of Hazebrouck
  • 13 – 15 April: Battle of Bailleul
  • 17 – 19 April: Battle of Kemmel
  • 18 April: Battle of Bethune
  • 25 – 26 April: Second Battle of Kemmel
  • 29 April: Battle of the Scherpenberg

On the first day of the offensive, in one of the greatest failures in the military history of Portugal, the Second Portuguese Division, approx. 20,000 men commanded by General Gomes da Costa lost about 300 officers and 7,000 men killed, wounded and prisoners, resisting the attack of 4 German Divisions with 50,000 men of the Sixth German Army commanded by General Ferdinand von Quast.

10 – 12 April were key days in the battle.  The importance was such that on the 11 April, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander in Chief of the British Armies in France delivered a Special Order of the Day to all ranks of the British Army in France and Flanders.  It is known as Haig’s “Backs to the Wall” Order when he urged his men to “fight it out” to the end and stated that the war’s victor would be “the side which holds out the longest”.[43] 

The offensive was abandoned on the 29th April when attempts to seize the Flanders heights ended in failure.  The second German offensive had resulted in an advance of up to 10 miles but none of their strategic objectives had been achieved and the channel ports remained safe in Allied hands.  The Germans had lost 350,000 men the Allies about 305,000, the great majority of them British since the beginning of the Spring Offensive.

The 50th [Northumbrian] Division [44]

The Division was heavily involved at Estaires and Houzebrouck between 9 and 15 April and suffered many casualties.  In summary, the Divisional History states:[45]

“The 150th Brigade was withdrawn about 11.30pm and the 151st by 3am and the whole Division concentrated in the grounds of La Motte Chateau by dawn on the 13th of April, the 149th Brigade after considerable fighting all day having being relieved by the 4th Guards Brigade.

The 50th Division moved into billets on the morning of the 13th…the 149th Brigade re-joined the Division on the 18th.

It is not possible to obtain from records the exact number of casualties suffered by the 50th Division between the 9th and the 13th April, but on the night of the 12th-13th, after the 5th Division had relieved the remnants, the latter [149 Brigade] numbered 55 officers and 1,100 other ranks.  These figures are eloquent of the superb courage and tenacity of the Division.”

All battalions had endured a torrid time.  The actions of 1/4th Bn., Green Howards is briefly discussed below.

1/4th Bn., the Yorkshire Regiment in action at the Battle of Lys [46]

Following heavy casualties inflicted in the heavy fighting of March, reinforcements were hurried out to the British Army and during April, 22 officers including Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby and 802 Other Ranks joined 4th Green Howards.

8 April: orders received that the 50th Division was to “play its part in the Lys battle then opening”

9 April:  the Portuguese troops were relieved and the battalion held the line to the west on the river at Sailly-sur-Lys.

10 April: troops opposite Point Vanuxeem were driven back exposing 4th Green Howards’ left flank so that they were compelled to fall back to hold a line in the vicinity of the Trou Bayard – Le Point Mortier road.  This position was held during the night.

11 April: The Germans attacked with great force, the battalion was obliged to withdraw during which units were disorganised.  Eventually, the brigade assembled at Arrewage.

12 April: a continued withdrawal took place.  Many casualties were suffered but many were inflicted upon the enemy.  La Motte-au-Bois was reached by nightfall.

13 April: German shelling was heavy and the battalion reached Le Parc.  

14 & 15 April: Bois des Vaches, preparing defences

27 April: proceeded to Courville by train.

Casualties for the month were:

  • 2 officers and 21 ORs killed
  • 3 officers and 216 ORs wounded
  • 1 officer and 115 ORs missing

Later research records that 4/Green Howards between 8 and 30 April lost 2 Officers and 75 Other Ranks, killed or died of wounds.[47]  Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby was unscathed.

The Third Battle of the Aisne: 27 May – 6 June 1918

The German attack was launched by 4,000 guns across a 40km front against 4 Divisions of the IX Corps.  There was a heavy concentration of British troops in the front line trenches and casualties from this bombardment were severe.  In fact, the IX Corps comprising the 8th, 19th, 21st, 25th and 50th Divisions [48] was virtually wiped out.  The bombardment was accompanied by a gas attack after which 17 German infantry divisions advanced through the gaps in the line.  Rapid progress was made and the Germans broke though the reserve troops (8 Allied Divisions – 4 British and 4 French) between Soissons and Rheims.  By the end of the first day, the Germans had passed the Aisne and reached the river Vesle gaining 15km of territory.  3 June, they had come within 90km of Paris and captured 50,000 Allied soldiers and 800 guns.  French casualties were heavy, with 98,000 losses.  The British suffered 29,000 casualties.  6 June, the German advance had run out of steam.[49]

The 50th Northumbrian Division [50]

26 May: at about 11am, news came to expect an attack the next morning.  The disposition of the Division was as follows – 149th Brigade held the right sector, the 151st in the centre and the 150th the left sector.  The 5th Green Howards were on the right, 4th East Yorkshires on the left and the 4th Green Howards were at Beaurieux where the Divisional HQ was situated.  The enemy preliminary bombardment commenced at 1am followed by an infantry assault, reported as follows: [51]

“The bombardment which followed was said to have been the most violent the 50th Division had experienced.”

The result was that the Battalion War Diaries contain only brief narratives of the attack.  The Divisional History continues: [52]

“In view of the general advance made by enemy along the whole front, the Brigadier [Brig-General Rees] decided that a counter attack by the 4th Green Howards could not meet with any success…It was about 7am when Brigade HQ left La Butte …it was discovered that the 4th Green Howards, on the line Mt. Hermal-Tr. Behart had also been overwhelmed…”

And then: [53]

“The terrible disaster which befell the infantry of the 50th Division on the 27th of May saw the end of all those gallant battalions which, whenever possible, had put up a stout resistance but the majority was surrounded and forced to surrender, before they could come into action.  No less than 227 officers and 4,879 other ranks were killed, wounded or captured during the battle.  Practically all the casualties occurred on the 27th, for after that date the 50th Division became intermingled with other divisions which were in a like condition: only a mere handful of the infantry remained.  No guns were saved.”     

Below, the fate of 1/4th Bn., The Green Howards and Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby is examined.

1/4th Bn., the Yorkshire Regiment in action at the Battle of the Aisne [54]

8 May:  4/Green Howards went to Beaurieux into reserve.  The ridge known as Chemin des Dames was held by 4 Divisions – 50th 21st 8th and 25th in reserve.

26 May: 4/Green Howards moved up from reserve to a support position near Craonne and La Hutte.

27 May: A heavy enemy gas attack commenced: [55]

“The enemy broke through on our left and pushed on towards Beaurieux, arriving there about 10am.  He also came through on our right, using tanks over the flat country to the east of Craonne and then also came on from there towards Beaurieux and there surrounded the brigade in the line, advancing thence on Maizy.  All the troops in Maizy and a few who were able to effect a retreat from Beaurieux, then made a stand on the hills to the south of the village but by midday, the Germans had made a big advance on the left of the British Corps front and against the whole of the XI French Corps and had succeeded in crossing the Aisne at many points.  The troops of the 50th Division now fell back, first to a position at Glennes and later in the day to one on the hills north of Fismes, which was held during the night.”

On this day, Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby was captured at Craonne.[56]  The battle continued.

28 May: the enemy heavily attacked this position and a further retirement was necessary to a point about 2 miles west of Jonchery.  The remnants of 4/Green Howards having expended all of its ammunition, joined the rest of the 50th Division near Arcis-le-Ponsart.

29 May: 4/Green Howards assisted to occupy a position at Romigny.

30 May: The line ran from Rosnay – Tramery – Lhery but the British forces were exhausted and massively reduced in numbers due to suffering heavy casualties.  

31 May: A position from Bligny to Champlat was taken up and although the enemy continued to make determined attacks over the next few days, the line was held.

The 4th Bn., The Green Howards had suffered grievous losses to such an extent that it ceased to exist for all practical purposes:

  • 2 officers and 3 men killed
  • 2 officers and 52 ORs wounded
  • 23 officers including Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby and 566 ORs missing

Later research records that between 27 and 31 May 1918, the 4th Bn., The Green Howards lost 4 officers and 71 Other Ranks either killed in action or died of wounds, all 4 officers and 69 ORs died on 27 May.[57]  It is known that Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby, was held as a POW at Karlsruhe Camp, Germany.  For Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby, the war was over.  He was to learn later [January 1920] that he had been awarded the Military Cross[58], which is presumed to have been awarded in recognition of an act of gallantry during the traumatic days of May.  To date, the reason for the award has not been researched.  It may be considered fortunate that Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby had survived the overwhelming German attack on the Chemin des Dames. 

The 50th Northumbrian Division was effectively destroyed.  The Divisional History concludes: [59]

“The Battle of the Aisne, 1918, was the last operation in the Great War in which the original 50th Division took part.  After the Battle of the Somme 1918 and the Battle of the Lys, its depleted battalions had been made up but after the disaster of the 27th of May, the casualties were so great that it was impossible to find troops to refill the ranks of the solely stricken battalions.  The Division was, therefore, reconstituted but lost its original identity.”

As example of casualties is provided: [60]

“For instance, when the roll was called at Vert la Gravelle on the 31st May, there remained only 103 men of the 151st Brigade who were in the line on the 27th of May.  By the end of May, the Division could only muster 700 fit infantrymen, excluding personnel with the transport and the Quartermaster’s Stores.”

A Division constitutes about 18,000 men, there were only 700 fit men.  A brigade has about 4,000 men, only 103 answered roll call.  The 151st Brigade was made up of the Durham Territorials including many men from southwest Durham, including the village of Cockfield.  The Army needed men to replace the losses and the pool was ever diminishing.  Arguably, there were few fit men left in these Durham pit villages other than those working in reserved occupations, such as coal miners.  Those  pitmen aged between 18 and 25 were now subject to “the ballot” and taken from necessary mining work to swell the ranks of conscripts to prepare for the war.[61]

The war continued.  Casualties were heavy for Germany also.  It had sustained nearly 800,000 casualties during the first 6 months of their 1918 campaign, 165,000 in the month of July,[62] and then the influenza pandemic accounted for 135,000 men being sick in June and 375,000 men in July.[63] Regardless of the impressive successes of the German onslaught, the breakthrough they desired was not secured.  By August, the Allies held the numerical advantage in terms of men and materiel.  The Battle of Amiens, 8 August, proved to be the turning point, the black day for the German Army.  This account will not explore the “Last Hundred Days” since Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby did not take part.  He was in a German POW Camp. 

Karlsruhe POW Camp

The city of Karlsruhe is situated in the state of Baden-Wurttemburg to the east of the river Rhine near the French border.  POWs were under the control of the XIV Army Corps [Karlsruhe].  Those for officers, “Offizielager” were located at Karlsruhe, 1 camp being for naval and aviation officers in the grounds of Karlsruher Castle and the other at Europaischer Hof was an interrogation centre.  Other camps were at Freiburg, Heidelburg, Ingolstadt, Villingen and Weingarten.[64]  It is understood that Second Lieutenant A.W. Appleby was repatriated in December 1918.

Post War

1932: Arthur W. Appleby resided at 7 South Street, Dinnington in the Rother Valley Parliamentary Division.[65]

1939: Arthur W. and Ruth C. Appleby lived at the Police Station, Bingley, West Riding of Yorkshire.  Arthur was recorded as “Inspector of Police”.  He was 50 years old and Ruth was 46.  Also living there was 15 years old Barbara R. Appleby and 2 others whose “record is officially closed”. [66]

1976 13 January:  Arthur W. Appleby died aged 86, the death being registered at Scarborough, North Yorkshire.[67]  He then lived at 65 Green Lane, Newby, Scarborough.[68]


[1] 1939 England & Wales Register

[2] England Select Marriages 1538-1973, film no.468125, 1871 & 1881 census Note: Margaret was 20 years younger than Robert and was his 2nd wife.  Robert and Jane [nee Ascough], his first wife, married in 1857, had 4 children William, Robert, Richard and John.

[3] 1891 census

[4] England Selected Deaths and Burials 1538-1991, film no.1894477

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] West Yorkshire Police Records 1833-1914 ref: WYP/A139/20

[8] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005 Vol.1b p.15 Middlesex 1918Q1

[9] Letter dated 11 November 1926 from Army Records Office, York, A.E. Widdows to A.W. Appleby esq. M.C., 72 Jackson Street, Goole, Yorks ref: 9/19/3196 [R. Records]

[10] London Gazette 30 January 1920

[11] London Gazette 13 December 1921

[12] Army Form E.501 Territorial Force Statement of the Services and Army Form B.103 Casualty Form – Active Service

[13] Medical Inspection Report

[14] Army Form E.624

[15] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form – Active Service

[16] War Office Casualty List ref: DT24041916

[17] Army Form M.T. 393A and Army Form E.624

[18] Supplement to the London Gazette 19 December 1917

[19] Military History Sheet

[20]  “The Green Howards in the Great War 1914-1919” Colonel H.C. Wylly C.B. 1926 p.141

[21] German documents held by the War Office stamped 11 February 1920, ref: 12980 [2 pages]

[22] German documents held by the War Office stamped 11 February 1920, ref: 12980 [2 pages]

[23] War Office letter dated 28 January 1919

[24] Letter dated 4 February 1919

[25] Protection Certificate [Officer]

[26] Hand written document

[27] UK British Officer Prisoners of War 1914-1918 Record Number 1854

[28] Supplement to the London Gazette 30 January 1920

[29] Letter dated 11 November 1926 from Army Records Office, York, A.E. Widdows to A.W. Appleby Esq. M.C., 72 Jackson Street, Goole, Yorkshire ref: 9/19/3196 [R. Records]

[30] Roll of Individuals entitled to the VM and BWM dated 4 September 1920 & Medal Roll Card Index


[32] “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” E. Wyrall 1939 p.101-118


[34] Wyrall p.117

[35] Moses p.59

[36] Wyrall p.117-118

[37] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War




[41] The details came from a number of sources, primarily, “The First World War” J. Keegan 1998 & “The IWM Book of 1918 Year of Victory” M. Brown 1999.  A number of website have also been used, for example the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Western Front Association

[42] http://www.warpath.orbat,com/battles_­ff/1918­pt1.htm


[44] Wyrall 1939 p.308-334

[45] Wyrall p.334

[46] “The Green Howards in the Great War 1914-1919” Colonel H.C. Wylly C.B. 1926 p.141-146

[47] ODGW & SDGW



[50] “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” E. Wyrall 1939 p335 – 349

[51] Wyrall p.338

[52] Wyrall p.344

[53] Wyrall p.345

[54] Wylly p.143-146

[55] Wylly p.145

[56] German documents held by the War Office stamped 11 February 1920, ref: 12980 [2 pages]

[57] ODGW & SDGW

[58] Instituted December 1914 originally for junior officers in the Army, captains, lieutenants and warrant officers performing acts of bravery. The Medal Yearbook 2013 p.86

[59] “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” E. Wyrall 1939 p.349

[60] Wyrall p.349

[61] For example, the Evenwood Parish Magazine May 1918 reports that Randolph Colliery had to provide 37 recruits from the 97 balloted and in June 1918, 24 from 180 names which went into the hat.

[62] “Hundred Days: The End of the Great War” N. Lloyd 2013 p.18

[63] Lloyd p.10 & 11


[65] West Yorkshire, England Electoral Registers 1840-1962 Year 1932

[66] 1939 England & Wales Register.  Note: presumably the 2 closed records refer to their children who were still alive when the record was released.

[67] England & Wales Death Index 1916-2007 Vol.1 p.3118 Scarborough 1976 Q1

[68] England & Wales, National Probate Calendar [Index of Wills and Administrations] 1858-1995