Bestford J.

JOHN BESTFORD (1889-1916)

19466 Private John Bestford, 10th Battalion, the Yorkshire (Alexandra, Princes of Wales’ Own) Regiment was killed in action 28 May 1916 and is buried at Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt.[1]  He is commemorated on the West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour in the West Auckland Memorial Hall.  Private J. Bestford was 26 years old and the husband of Sarah.

John’s younger brother 19/441 Private Wilkinson Bestford, 19th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 19 August 1917 and is buried at Templeux-le-Guerard British Cemetery. [2]

Family Details

John was born 1889 [3] at West Auckland the son of Robert and Annie Bestford.  There were at least 6 children: [4]

  • William bc.1880 at Bishop Auckland
  • Isabella bc.1882 at Bishop Auckland
  • Sarah bc.1885 at Bishop Auckland
  • John born 1889 at West Auckland
  • Thomas bc.1892 at West Auckland
  • Wilkinson bc.1896 at West Auckland

In 1901 the family lived at East View West Auckland where Robert worked as a coal miner (hewer).  19 year old Isabella was employed as a domestic servant.[5]  In 1911, the family lived at 11 East View and all the men including 21 year old John worked as coal miners.[6] In 1912 John married Sarah A. Richardson.[7]

Military Details

The service record of John Bestford has not been researched.  John enlisted at Bishop Auckland into 10th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, commonly known as the Green Howards and was given the regimental number 19466.[8]

The 10th (Service) Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment (10/YR) was formed at Richmond, North Yorkshire as part of K3, Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of the 62nd Brigade, 21st Division.  In September 1915 the Division landed at Boulogne, France and served on the Western front until the battalion was disbanded February 1918.[9]  The 62nd Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 12th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 13th, the Northumberland Fusiliers merged into 12th Bn., in August 1917, renamed 12/13th Bn.
  • 8th, the East Yorkshire Regiment left November 1915
  • 10th, the Yorkshire Regiment disbanded February 1918
  • 1st, the Lincolnshire Regiment joined November 1915
  • 62nd Machine Gun Company joined March 1916 left to move into 21st MG Battalion February 1918
  • 62nd trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916
  • 3/4th the Queen’s joined August 1917 disbanded February 1918
  • 2nd, the Lincolnshire Regiment joined February 1918

The Division served on the Western Front throughout the war taking part in many actions including the Battle of Loos in 1915 [10] 25 September – 8 October 1915. [11]  Private John Bestford entered France 8 October 1915 [12] joining the battalion at Strazeele [13] as a draft of 11 officers and 200 non-commissioned officers and men between the 9th and 11th October. [14] Another draft of 100 NCOs and men joined 19 October.  Trench life started 25 October in the Armentieres sector.  19 December as it held the Epinette Salient, the battalion suffered its first heavy bombardment of trenches.  The battalion remained thereabouts through January and February 1916 before leaving for the Somme 31 March 1916.  During this tour, 10/YR lost 3 Officers and 60 Other Ranks. [15]

17 April: the battalion arrived at billets at Ville-sous-Corbie being greeted by 14no.5.9 shells fired from the Fricourt area.

30 April: the Germans attempted a raid firing many trench mortars and other missiles and gas.  The next tour took the battalion to the Tambour described as:

 “a most unpleasant spot, famed chiefly for rifle grenades, canisters and casualties and we had our share of them all…Nobody was heartbroken when this spell of duty was over.” [16]

There was intensive activity, new railways, new communication trenches, new roads and new gun positions during this period leading up to 1 July 1916.

Private J. Bestford was killed inaction 28 May 1916.  There were 5 other casualties that day:

  • 20247 Private G.W. Burnett
  • 19293 Sergeant W. Clemitt
  • 14139 Private H. Cooper
  • 17488 Private T. McGee
  • 18520 Private T. Thompson

The circumstances of their death have not been researched but it is possible that they were subject to effective enemy artillery fire.  Between 31 March and 1 June 1916, 10/YR lost 17 Other Ranks.[17]


Private John Bestford is buried at grave reference I.B.26 Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt together with Privates Burnett, Cooper and Thompson.  There are 768 Commonwealth burials. [18]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] CWGC

[3] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.228 Auckland 1889Q4

[4] 1901 & 1911 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.436 Auckland 1912Q2

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War




[12] Medal Roll

[13] Strazeele is a village between Hazebrouck and Bailleul in the Department of Nord, France

[14] “The Green Howards in the Great War 1914-1919” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p.331 Note: the 10/YR War Diary has not been researched.

[15] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[16] Wylly p.334 attributed to Rev. O.B. Parsons

[17] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[18] Commonwealth War Graves Commission



BESTFORD J. Headstone




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