AUBIN Jehu Fosbrooke Gerrard (Captain)

JEHU FOSBROOKE GERRARD AUBIN 1892 – 1918

Captain J.F.G. Aubin, D.S.O., M.C. & Bar, 6th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 9 April 1918, aged 25.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium,[1] the war memorial in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s, South Church, Bishop Auckland and the Roll of Honour, Barnard Castle School, County Durham.

Family Details

Jehu Fosbrooke Gerrard Aubin was born 21 September 1892 at Norwich, Norfolk, the son of Jehu Jonathan Aubin and Annie Mae Aubin (nee Gerrard).[2]  There were 4 children:

  • Jehu born 1892 at Norwich
  • Melville born1894 at York, Yorkshire [3]
  • Doris bc. 1897 at Dewsbury, Yorkshire
  • Ethel bc.1900 at Bishop Auckland

In 1901, the family lived at 14 Low Tenters Street, Bishop Auckland where 33 years old Jehu  (senior) was recorded as being a, “Hardware & Fancy Goods Dealer”.[4]  By 1911, 18 years old student, Jehu Aubin, was a boarder with Wilfred and Mary Robinson at Hedley Street, Gosforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. [5]  In 1914, Jehu (senior) is  recorded at 17 Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, [6] presumably living above the shop.

Jehu attended Easingwold Grammar School prior to the North Eastern County School at Barnard Castle, where from 1908 to 1910, he was a member of the Northumberland House.  During this time, he was a “Monitor”, a member of the 1st XI football team, 2nd XI cricket team, 1st XI house teams for both football and cricket.  Jehu was on the Games Committee, entered the Senior Barney Run and was a Sergeant in the Officer Training Corps.  He moved to Sandyford Academy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne before starting work as an “articled clerk” for a firm of chartered accountants in the city. [7]

Military Details [8]

5 September 1914, at Newcastle, Jehu F.G. Aubin joined the 9th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers and was given the service number 12209.[9]  His “apparent age” was given as 21 years 348 days, his calling was recorded as, “Articled Clerk, Chartered Accountants”, his next of kin was his father, Jehu Jonathan Aubin.  He stood 5’ 7½” tall, weighed 136 lbs., had a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.  His religion was Church of England.  A medical examination 7 September 1914, considered him, “fit for the Army”. 

18 January 1915, Private J.F.G. Aubin applied to be a candidate for an appointment to a commission in the Territorial Force, that being 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry, 2nd Line as a Second Lieutenant.  He took a medical examination and was considered “fit for the Regular Army”, 13 February 1915.[10]

2 June 1915, after serving 271 days, Private J.F.G. Aubin was discharged from the “B” Company, 9th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers.[11]  He took up a commission in the Durham Light Infantry.  His service record reveals relatively little detail.  Probate information shows that his will was signed 13 July 1915, this date being a week prior to his embarkation to France.[12]

The 1/6th Battalion was formed in Bishop Auckland in August 1914 as part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division which in May 1915 became the 151st Brigade of the 50th Division.[13]   Other battalions in the 151st Brigade were:

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

16 April 1915, the Division moved to France and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  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.  The Brigade was joined by the 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn., the Border Regiment in December 1915. The 151st Machine Gun Company was formed 6 February 1916, the 151th Trench Mortar Battery was established 18 June 1916 and both joined the Brigade, well in time for the Battle of the Somme. 

20 July 1915, Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin entered France to join the 1/6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry (1/6DLI).[14]

Prior to Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin being posted to the battalion, the 50th (Northumbrian) Division took part in the Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April – 25 May 1915.  He was, however, with 1/6DLI for its second tour of the Salient, 28 May to early August 1916 and his actions earned praise.  Two raids of enemy trenches near La Clytte took place 6 and 12 July 1916, in the vicinity of the crater to the west of Bois Carre.  Capt. Ainsworth recorded the deeds as follows: [15]

“During this tour the first battalion raid was made by men of Y Company under 2nd Lieut. H.C. Annett and 2nd Lieut. J.F.G. Aubin, who was Battalion Bombing Officer.  The party consisted of 24 men, including 2 bombing squads and had as its object identification of the enemy on the immediate front.  The night of the 6th June was chosen and the party went out as arranged.  In No Man’s Land they met a large enemy wiring party and their object was not attained.  Three nights later, however, a German was captured and again on the 12th the raiding party went out, this time with the object of killing Boches.  They entered the enemy trench and after doing considerable damage with bombs and rifles, returned without casualty.”   

The 50th (Northumbrian) Division took part in the Battle of the Somme, in the following phases:

  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the 6th phase, 15 – 22 September 1916
  • The Battle of Morval, the 7th phase, 25 – 28 September 1916
  • The Battle of Le Transloy, the 8th phase, 1 – 18 October 1916      

Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin was promoted to Brigade Bombing Officer.  His actions 17 September 1916 on the Somme during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette at Mametz Wood are not reported in 6/DLI War Diary but Captain Ainsworth records actions as follows:[16]

“The chief obstacle to a further advance was an enemy strong point called the Crescent.  Accordingly, a party was organised to attack it, consisting of 2 bombing squads, one each from the 6th and 8th Battalions under 2nd Lieut. J.F.G. Aubin, now Brigade Bombing Officer.  Leaving by way of Crescent Alley at 6pm, they met with considerable shell fire and were disorganised.  Re-forming however they went out again with the same result.  The shelling proved to be the preliminary to an attack on the 150th Brigade, which was beaten off, Y Company being used to assist their neighbours with Lewis guns.”

6/DLI was heavily involved in a notable action at the beginning of the Battle of Le Transloy Ridge (1 – 18 October 1916). Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin would have been involved but is not mentioned in reports.  1 October, the village of Eaucourt l’Abbaye was captured and Lieut.-Col. R.B. Bradford was awarded the Victoria Cross.  Military Medals were awarded to 3 signallers, namely Corporal Dixon, Privates O. Rushford (from Morley) and Atkinson together with Private Turnbull of Y Company.[17]  There is no summary of casualties for the month of October in the War Diary but later research records that the battalion suffered a total of 65 deaths (2 officers and 63 Other Ranks) between 1 and 3 October.[18]

As the Battle of the Somme was drawing to a conclusion with winter closing in, by the beginning of November few seriously thought that the British Army could break German resolve in 1916.  The advance towards the Le Transloy ridge had left British positions overlooked by the Germans and an attempt was to be made to capture a feature known as the Butte de Warlencourt, an ancient burial mount from a prehistoric era, 50 feet high, it stood out from the man-made swamp that surrounded the battered mass of muddy white chalk.  Peter Hart comments:[19]

“For the people of County Durham, the fighting that raged over the Butte de Warlencourt in early November 1916 affected the lives of thousands who had never consciously heard of it.”

The attack took place, 5 November 1916:[20]

“The Division attacked with 1/8 Durham L.I. (151 Brigade) on the right.  The men had to pull one another out of the mud before they could start.  They almost reached the German front line but were stopped by machine gun fire and gradually fell back.  The 1/6th Durhams suffered a similar fate except on the left where they were linked with the 1/9th Durham in the line.  The 1/9th went through 2 lines of German trenches, reached the Butte and established a post on the Bapaume road – some entering the Warlencourt line.  But these advanced posts were forced back and at 10pm the enemy were still holding the quarry and 50 yards of the German front line.  By midnight the Durhams had been forced back to their own lines.”

Casualties were severe and the toll for the 151st Brigade was nearly 1,000.[21] The 6/DLI War Diary reported that:

Casualties during the period in the front line

Officers

Killed – 2/Lt. K.B. Stuart, 2/Lt G.W. Robson, 2/Lt A.S. Robson

Wounded – 2/Lt. Ludgate, 2/Lt Tyerman, 2/Lt R.H. Stewart, Lt. G. Corbett, 2/Lt. T. Burton

Missing – 2/Lt. H. Fell, 2/Lt. Applegarth, 2/Lt. A.S. Ritman

Casualties amongst the ranks – approximately 150.”

Peter Hart records that 1/6DLI suffered 11 officers killed, wounded or missing and there were 34 other ranks dead, 114 wounded and 111 missing.[22]   The 3 DLI Battalions which took part have 10 officers and 264 other ranks with 5 November 1916 recorded as their date of death. [23] Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin survived this ordeal.  He was to be awarded the Military Cross in the New Year’s Honours list which appeared in the London Gazette 1 January 1917.[24] 

The war battled on into 1917 with major offensives at Arras and Ypres.  The 50th Division and 1/6DLI were involved in the following engagements, as part of the Arras Offensive:

  • The First Battle of the Scarpe, the 1st phase, 9 – 14 April 1917
  • The Second Battle of the Scarpe, the 2nd phase, 23 & 24 April 1917

Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin is not mentioned in the War Diary during the Arras Offensive but there is no reason to doubt that he saw action there.  Later, in early June 1917, when based at Souastre, north of Albert and southwest of Arras, a party of 8 officers and 12 other ranks visited the Butte de Warlencourt and a poignant act took place, 12 June 1917, when Second Lieutenant R.H. Stewart and a party erected a memorial on the Butte de Warlencourt in memory of the fallen officers and men of the battalion.  In the 1920’s this cross made its way back to County Durham and it is laid to rest in St. Andrew’s Church, South Church, Bishop Auckland.[25] 

A few days later, 1/6DLI marched to Henin, north east of Arras.  The fighting of April had quietened down and normal trench duties was the order of the day.  The front line was west of Fontaines-lez-Croiselles between British held Guemappes and German held Cherisy.  1/6DLI entered the trenches 16 June.  The usual violence of trench warfare took place – raids, shelling and sniping, particularly in the vicinity of Mallard Trench and Foster Avenue.  The War Diary reports an actions of 17 and 18 June, when Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin was named as leading a counter attack. [26]  Between 6 and 19 July 1917, Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin was evacuated to hospital, being sick.[27]

In mid-October, 1/6DLI returned to the Salient to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres, the 8th phase known as, The Second Battle of Passchendeale, 26 October – 10 November 1917.  The battalion was at camp at Hull’s Farm near Boesinghe on 24 October when attacked by a “Gotha” type bomber.  One officer and 16 other ranks were wounded.  By 1 November, the battalion HQ was at Egypt House, a captured German pillbox.  The battalion was holding the line which, rather than being trenches, was a series of shell holes located in a devastated wilderness of mud and ruin.  Over the next 3 nights, the line of posts was advanced by about 200 yards.  Few casualties were suffered.  In recognition of this good work, a number of awards were received by officers and men – Captain J.F.G. Aubin, commanding Y Company, received a Bar to his MC and Capt. P.H.B. Lyon who commanded X Company, received the MC.  Bars to the Military Medals were awarded to Sergeants Cruddace MM and Britton MM (from Evenwood).[28]  A report relating to Capt. J.F.G. Aubin’s award reads: [29]

“Lieut. (acting Captain) Jehu Fosbrooke Gerrard Aubin MC, Durham LI – When in command of a company holding a line of shell holes he succeeded in advancing his whole frontage on three successive nights, himself reconnoitring the ground before each advance under close enemy machine gun fire, and personally superintending the operation on each night.”

By 11 March 1918, 1/6DLI was in the vicinity of at Marcelcave and Morcourt at training camps.  The German offensive was much anticipated.  The following 3 battles, part of the First Battles of the Somme 1918, were the opening phases of the German offensive in Picardy:

  • The Battle of St. Quentin, 21 – 23 March 1918
  • The Actions at the Somme Crossing, 25 & 25 March 1918
  • The Battle of Rosieres, 26 & 27 March 1918 [30]

The following account will provide some background to the situation, give details of 1/6DLI’s withdrawal and the circumstances surrounding the award of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) to Capt. J.F.G. Aubin.

The German Spring Offensive

The First Phase 21 – 27 March 1918 [31]

Often called “the Kaiserschlacht,” the offensive was Germany’s last big effort to win the war before the arrival of huge numbers of American troops.  The U.S.A. declared war on Germany 6 April 1917 but it took time to build up forces and train them for battle.  The Russians signed for peace with the Germans at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in December 1917.  The Germans transferred their battle hardened troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front and prepared to attack the Allied forces.  The German plan, Operation Michael was to punch through the British and French Armies at St. Quentin, cut through the Somme and then wheel north-west to cut the British lines of communication behind the Artois fronts to bottle up the BEF in the narrow neck of Flanders.  The British Army would be surrounded with no means of escape and would inevitable surrender. 

The target of the first phase of the offensive was the British Army who the German High Command believed to be exhausted by the four major efforts of 1917, namely Arras, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai.  By mid-February 1918, there were 177 German Divisions in France and Flanders out of their worldwide total of 241.  Of these, 110 were in the front line of which 50 faced the short British front.  A further 67 were in reserve with 31 facing the BEF.  The British had 62 under strength divisions defending a recently extended front line.  

At the same time as the German forces were growing, the British Army was depleted having faced a manpower crisis during the second half of 1917.  Lloyd George produced official figures to confirm that there were some 324,000 additional men on the Western Front (i.e. British and Dominion forces) giving a total of 1,850,967 on the 1st January 1918 as opposed to 1,526,182 on the 1st January 1917 but the effective fighting strength had fallen by as much as 7% in the year.

The 50th Division together with the 1st Cavalry, the 8th, the 16th, the 24th, the 39th and the 66th Divisions formed the XIX Corps of the British Fifth Army.

21 March 1918: The much anticipated attack by the German Army commenced.  It enjoyed a numerical superiority of 56 Divisions against 16 British.  This superiority was overwhelming. The main weight of the attack was between Arras and a few miles south of St. Quentin.  The XIX Corps occupied the line to the east of Peronne and to the north of Vermand facing 9 German Divisions on an 8-mile front.  Here, German superiority was approx. 4.5 to 1.   Its success was spectacular:

  • In 2 days the British Fifth Army was driven back over 12 miles
  • 23 March:  Peronne fell   
  • 24 March: Bapaume fell
  • 26 March:  Albert, capital of the old Somme battlefield, fell

However, the Third Army held firm near Arras but had to swing back its right hand forces to maintain contact with the retreating Fifth.

The casualty figures for 21 March have been estimated as:

  • British – 38,500
  • German – 40,000

Two thirds of the German casualties were wounded therefore a substantial number would return to the fighting at a later date.  By contrast, 28,000 of the British would not return, 7,000 were dead and 21,000 had been taken prisoner.

By 27 March, the Germans were able to cross the Somme at Chipilly which compelled Gough’s Fifth Army to retreat to a line running from Bouzencourt to Rosieres.  The British held the line throughout the day but to the south the French were driven out of Lassigny and Montdidier.

21 March – 27 March 1918: 1/6DLI an account of their withdrawal

March 1918:  6/DLI was near Peronne in the Fifth Army Reserve where it was thought that it:

“might have to deliver counter-attacks in the event of a German success.”

21 March: The German attack began.  Entrained at Gouzeaucourt and detrained at Brie, marched in the direction of Tincourt, occupied partially dug trenches called “the Green Line.” These were behind the Brown Line trench system where the 66th Division had been overwhelmed in the morning.

22 March:  Morning: quiet.  Afternoon: shelling became heavier, large massed bodies of the enemy could be seen.  Orders received that the line was to be held at all costs.  Dusk: first serious casualties occurred.  9.00pm: orders to withdraw to a ridge near Cardigny

23 March:  At 7am, orders were received to withdraw to the west of the Somme and detailed instructions as to the rearguard action were issued.  6/DLI was to cover the retirement of 5/DLI.  The village of Cardigny was occupied with a view towards making a temporary stand but the position soon became untenable and an ordered withdrawal was done without loss, largely owing to the courage of Y Company under the command of Capt. J.F.G. Aubin that formed the rear-guard of the battalion.[32]  For this action Captain J.F.G. Audin MC and Bar was awarded the DSO.  The citation reads:[33]

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The battalion was holding a village, covering the retirement of another unit, when it was attacked by the enemy, and withdrew, leaving one company as rearguard under this officer. He remained with his rear platoon under machine-gun fire and sniping, and beat off the attack while the rest withdrew. Later, three companies were ambushed in the marshes, and he collected almost all the men, organising a rear guard, so that each company in turn could cross by a bridge, he himself being the last to cross. A few days later his company was in support, when the three forward companies began to fall back. He went up under intense fire, rallied them, and re-established the front line. His grasp of the situation saved the battalion from what might have been annihilation”.

24 March:  Morning: orders received to withdraw to Foucaucourt.  8.00pm in position in reserve, in a line north east of Estres.

25 March:  Morning: enemy advancing quickly.  W and Z Companies filled gaps in the line.  Enemy did not take advantage of the situation.  7.00pm withdrew to old trenches at Pressoire – quiet night with only a few casualties from shell fire.

26 March:  9.00am: enemy renewed the attack.  Battalion passed through the ruins of Lihons and the withdrawal continued almost to Rosieres – heavily shelled.

27 March:

“At 9.30am owing to the withdrawal of a Labour Coy on the right, the Battalion fell back but 3 Coys (W, X & Z) counter attacked & restored the line.  Capt. H. Walton MC commanding Z Coy killed.  Details of Battn who had been left out of action were sent from WARFUSEE under Lt. TYERMAN to counter attack at HARBONNIERES.”

28 March:  a further withdrawal was ordered and the battalion moved back to the Caix line. 

29 March: Capt. Aubin collected about 200 men and travelled with transport to Amienois.

31 March:  A total of 327 casualties were reported, 13 officers and 314 other ranks, about a third of the strength of the battalion.  The War Diary concluded:

“During the fighting from 21st – 31st March the Battalion suffered the following casualties.  Killed: Officers 6 OR 35.  Wounded: Officers 5 OR 189. Missing: Officers 2 OR 87. Wounded & Missing: Officers nil OR 3.

Later research records that between 21 and 31 March 1918, 1/6 DLI lost 4 Officers and 64 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds. [34] Others officers attached to 6/DLI may have been killed but accounted for with their parent battalion.

At Caix, the remnants of the Battalion were re-organised and withdrew to Moreuil, Saleux then eventually onto Rue and Vron.  French troops were moved up the line to check the German advance. 

In early April, the Battalion was sent to Beuvry near Bethune about 4 miles behind one of the quietest area of the British front.  Here a draft of about 400 men arrived and they were being prepared to relieve the 55th Division at La Bassee.  However, this did not happen and they were sent to Estaires instead.  This was to be the location for the Second German Offensive, given the name of the Battle of the Lys, 9 – 29 April.  The assault was from the line Armentieres to La Basse Canal and centred around the area of Estaires, Hazebrouck, Kemmel.[35] 

7 April, 6/DLI was at Estaires.  Most officers were billeted at the Convent in the town.  The Commanding Officer, Adjutant, Transport Officer and Capt. Cardew were billeted elsewhere.  After a quiet day and night, alarming rumours of the second German offensive spread and the next night there was a “stand-to.” The following day, the officers and a few N.C.O.’s reconnoitred the front line and the proposed defensive positions.  In the evening, instructions were received to relieve the Portuguese Division, which was holding the line, on the night of the 9th April.  However, prior to this taking place, the threatened attack commenced at 4am 9 April, with a heavy bombardment of the town.  A shell hit the Convent.  There were many casualties and amongst the officers killed were Captain G. Kirkhouse, Captain J.F.G. Aubin and Lieutenant C.L. Tyerman, all of whom had seen much service with the Battalion.

Thus, 6/DLI went into action with its commanding officer, Major T.B. Heslop and its adjutant but with all its platoons and one of its companies commanded by NCOs.  6/DLI held some fortified farms and posts 2 miles south east of Estaires beyond the River Lys.  The ferocity of the attack was such that the battalion soon forced out of Le Drumetz, turned on both flanks and was reduced to 4 officers and 60 men.  There was no alternative but to fall back on the river.  The next day, 10 April, the Germans renewed its attempt to force a way to Estaires.  Dawn on the 11th, and the remnants of the 151st Brigade was north of the Lys, outnumbered 4 to 1, the brigade was forced back to Merville.  Stubborn fighting continued throughout the following day until in the early hours of the 13th, the Division was relieved by the 5th Division. The stand of the 50th Division during those 4 days had gained time for reserves to be brought up stop the advance.  The cost was the annihilation, almost, of the battalions.[36]   

6/DLI was to be caught up in yet another German major assault when it was posted to, what was believed to be a quiet sector along the Chemins de Dames near Soissons.  This proved to be the last battle.  In early in June 1918, the remnants of the 50th Division was broken up, reduced to cadre strength in July and transferred to Lines of Communication.  Ainsworth concluded: [37]

“It may be mentioned that the total casualties in the Battalion during the months of March, April and May had been 60 officers and 1,200 other ranks.”

The above casualty estimate included those dead, wounded and missing which included those held as prisoners of war.  Later research records that between 21 March and 31 May 1918, 6/DLI lost 11 officers and 210 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds including Captain J.F.G. Aubin on 9 April 1918.[38] Given that there were an estimated 1260 casualties of whom 221 died, the number of wounded who recovered and those held POW was quite significant, in excess of 1000.

A War Office daily list dated 29 April 1918 reported Captain J.F.G. Aubin as, “Missing”.[39]  A later list dated 11 May 1918 reported, “Previously reported missing, now reported killed.”[40]  The report of his death gives the date as 9 April 1918, the place, “In the Field”, cause of death, “killed in action” but the place of buried contains no details.[41]

6/DLI lost 40 officers and 830 other ranks during the course of the war.[42]

27 December 1918, London Gazette, Captain J.F.G. Aubin was Mentioned in Despatches included in, “Sir. D. Haig’s Despatch of the 8th November, submitting names deserving of special mention.”[43]

Medals and Awards

Captain J.F.G. Aubin was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), the Military Cross and Bar and was Mentioned in Despatches.  He received the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.  These medals form part of the DLI medal collection.

Effects and Pension

Captain J.F.G. Aubin’s effects were settled probate in 1918 and £1039 5s 3d [44] was left to his father Jesu Jonathan Aubin and his brother Melville Hildreth Aubin, a lieutenant in the DLI.[45]

Commemorations

Captain J.F.G. Aubin is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial which stands in Berks Cemetery Extension, about 10 miles south of Ypres (Ieper).  It commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the UK and South Africa who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave.  The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton in Belgium to the north to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes in France to the south including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe and Ploegsteert Wood.  Most of those commemorated did not die in major offensives but during the course of day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of major attack taking place elsewhere.[46]  

The war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard, South Church, Bishop Auckland was unveiled 31 October 1920 by Brig. Gen. H.R. Cumming DSO (commanding DLI Brigade) and was dedicated by the Rev. J.N. Quirk D.D. Bishop of Jarrow.  It contains 306 names.[47]

Durham Cathedral, names of all DLI men lost in the Great War are commemorated in a Roll of Honour in the DLI Chapel.

The Barnard Castle School Roll of Honour (formerly the North Eastern County School, Barnard Castle) – a roll of honour in the chapel commemorates the 141 former pupils and 4 Masters who died in the First World War.  A website was created to honour the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

Summary

Captain Jehu F.G. Aubin, D.S.O., M.C. & Bar, 6th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 9 April 1918, aged 25.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium, the war memorial in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s, South Church, Bishop Auckland and the Roll of Honour, Barnard Castle School, County Durham.

Jehu was born in 1892 at Norwich, the son of Jehu and Ann Aubin.  By 1900, the family lived at Bishop Auckland, Jehu senior being a “fancy goods” shopkeeper in Newgate Street.  Jehu junior attended the North Eastern School at Barnard Castle between 1909 and 1910 before moving to the Sandyford Academy at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and gaining employment at a chartered accountant’s firm in the city. 

In September 1914, Jehu Aubin joined the 9th battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, in January 1915, he was accepted for an officer’s commission and joined the 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry as a Second Lieutenant.  He entered France in July 1915.  Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin saw action with 1/6DLI at the Ypres Salient in the 1915 and the Battle of the Somme 1916.  He was awarded the Military Cross in the New Year’s Honours List of 1917.  He saw action at the Arras Offensive 1917 and the Battle of Third Ypres later in the year.  As acting Captain, he distinguished himself in leading his men to advance posts in No-man’s land to earn himself a Bar to his MC.  The much anticipated German offensive commenced in late March 1918 and Captain J.F.G. Aubin was notable during the rear-guard action, defending the withdrawal of British troops.  For his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.  As the offensive intensified, during the Battle of the Lys, Captain J.F.G. Aubin and several other officers were killed in action when their billets in the convent at Estaires was hit by shell fire.  Captain J.F.G. Aubin was Mentioned in Despatches, being included in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of the 8th November which submitted names “deserving of special mention”.

In summary, Captain J.F.G. Aubin was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the Military Cross and Bar and was Mentioned in Despatches.  He received the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.  These medals form part of the DLI medal collection.

Photographs

Portrait of Capt. J.F.G. Aubin courtesy of Durham Record Office and Barnard Castle School Roll of Honour inscriptions courtesy of Barnard Caste School.

Capt. J.F.G. Aubin D.SO., M.C. and bar
BARNARD CASTLE SCHOOL Roll of Honour

REFERENCES

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission Note: CWGC record that he was 26 years old.

[2] Barnard Castle School

[3] England Select Births and Christenings 1538-1975 film no.2093482 item 5 p.108

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Army Form B.2065 Short Service (Three years with the Colours) Next of kin.

[7] Durham at War story

[8] “The Story of the 6th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, France April 1915 – November 1918” July 1919 edited by Capt. R.B. Ainsworth MC; “The Faithful Sixth: A History of the Sixth Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry” 1999 Harry Moses and 6/DLI War Diary 1915-1918 National Archives reference WO-95-2840 (3 PDF documents) are the primary sources.

[9] Army Form B.2065

[10] Army Form E.536

[11] Statement of the Services and Army Form E.536

[12] National Archive reference WO374/2776 https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C672910

[13] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[14] Medal Roll card index

[15] Ainsworth p.12.  Note: the action took place in July not June as reported by Capt. Ainsworth.  See further details – Moses p.65 and also 6/DLI War Diary July 1916 National Archive reference WO-95-2840-2  

[16] Ainsworth p.14 and Moses p.71

[17] Ainsworth p.14 & 15 and Moses p.73-79

[18] Officers Died in the Great War (ODGW)

[19] “The Somme” 2005 Peter Hart p.486 – 499

[20] “The Somme: The Day by Day Account” 1993 Chris McCarthy p.147

[21] Hart p.497

[22] “The Somme” 2005 Peter Hart p.497

[23] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW)

[24] Supplement to the London Gazette 1 January 1917 (29886) No citation, just the award – “The King has graciously pleased to give orders for the following the award of the Military Cross in recognition of his services.”

[25] Moses p.85

[26] 6/DLI War Diary for June 1917 National Archives reference WO-95-2840-2_3 and Moses p.86

[27] 6/DLI War Diary for June 1917 National Archives reference WO-95-2840-2_3

[28] Ainsworth p.22 & Moses p.94 and London Gazette 18 January 1918 (30482)?

[29] Newcastle Journal 26 April 1918 from Durham at War

[30] http://www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm

[31] Various sources including www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm & www.1914-1918.net/bat22.htm & www.1914-1918.net/manpower.htm & www.1914-1918.net/batt22A.htm & M. Brown “1918-Year of Victory”

[32] Ainsworth p.24 & Moses p.98-100

[33] Supplement to the London Gazette 16 September 1918 (10862) Note: Forces War Records states LG 13/09/1918

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

[35] “Faithful The Story of the Durham Light Infantry” 1962 S.G.P. Ward p.405

[36] Ward p.406 – 408

[37] Ainsworth p.29

[38] ODGW & SDGW

[39] Forces War Records ref: NLS 1918_WList40

[40] Forces War Records ref: NLS1918_WList41

[41] Field Service form dated 19 April 1918 stamped by the War Office 28 April 1918

[42] ODGW & SDGW

[43] Forces War Records ref: London Gazette 27 December 1918 (31085)

[44] About £44,160 in today’s money (2022)

[45] Extract from Probate of Will Register No.9/b8/4323 dated 15 July 1918

[46] CWGC

[47] NE War Memorials Project