ELLIOTT BLADES 1888 – 1917
54583 Private Elliott Blades, 1/7th Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) died of wounds 21 November 1917, aged 29. He is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France and is commemorated on Escomb War Memorial.
Elliott Blades was born 1888 at Escomb, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Blades. There were at least 8 children, all born at Escomb:
- Jacob bc.1868
- Mary bc.1870
- William bc.1872
- Joseph bc.1874
- Jane Ann bc.1881
- Arthur bc.1883
- Tamar bc.1885
- Elliott born 1888
In 1891, 50 years-old Joseph was a farmer, 23 years old Jacob was a butcher, 19 years old William was a colliery screenman and 17 years old Joseph was a farmer. No indication of the farm was given, only that the family lived in Escomb village. In 1901, 6 children were at home, William now 29 was still a colliery screenman, 27 years old Joseph worked as a nursery gardener and 18 years old Arthur was an engine-fitter’s apprentice. Elliott, 13 years old presumably, was still at school.
By 1911, 70 years old Joseph was recorded as a “cowkeeper”; 66 years old Elizabeth was “assisting in the business”; Jacob, now 43, was at home and described as married and employed as a butcher; Mary now 41 and single, worked at home; 39 years old, single William worked at a colliery and was the “Under keeker”; 37 years old and single Joseph was a domestic gardener; 26 years old and single Tamar worked as a draper’s assistant; 23 years old and single Elliott was a cabinet maker. There were 2 visitors, 19 years old Priscilla Hudson and 22 years old Lily Butterfield. (Elliott’s future wife).
In 1915, Elliott Blades married Lily Butterfield. Mrs. Blades lived at Ruby Terrace, Chilton Buildings, Ferryhill, County Durham.
The service record of Private Elliott Blades has not been traced. He enlisted at Ferryhill, County Durham and joined the 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) and was given the service number 54583. The dates when he enlisted and entered France are unknown. He did not enter France until after 31 December 1915 since he was not awarded the 1914-15 Star. Whether he saw action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 or Third Ypres (Passchendaele) in 1917 remains unknown.
The 1/7th (Leeds Rifles) Battalion was formed in August 1914 as part of the West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. 15 April 1915, the Division landed at Boulogne, France and 15 May 1915 it became part of the 146th Brigade, 49th Division. The 146th Brigade consisted of the following units:
- 1/5th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
- 1/6th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
- 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
- 1/8th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914 left January 1918
- 146th Machine Gun Company formed 27 January 1916 left 1 March 1918
- 146th Trench Mortar Battery formed 12 June 1916.
The Division served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war being involved in the 1916 Battle of the Somme, particularly:
- First phase, the Battle of Albert
- Second phase, the Battle of Bazentin
- Third phase, the Battle of Pozieres
- Sixth phase, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette
The Division was involved in the 1917 action the Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July to 10 November 1917, more commonly known as Passchendaele. 
The Third Battle of Ypres
Passchendaele: 31 July – 10 November 1917 
The offensive had 8 distinctive phases:
- Battle of Pilckem, 31 July to 2 August
- Battle of Langemarck, 16 to 18 August
- Battle of the Menin Road, 20 to 25 September
- Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
- Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October
- Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October
- First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October
- Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October to 10 November
Many Divisions visited the Ypres Salient during the Third Battle of Ypres and on more than one occasion. A total of 54 Divisions were thrown into battle.
The offensive cost the British nearly 310,000 casualties, the Germans slightly less and it consumed all of the available reserves. On the 6th November, the village of Passchendaele was entered and the whole campaign ended a few days later when more of the ridge was taken. It achieved none of its objectives although the Germans could no longer look down on the Ypres Salient which had been deepened by about 5 miles and they had been prevented from attacking the French when its army was in disarray following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive. From the outset, it was obvious to the German Fourth Army that a new attack was being prepared and the previous year they had begun to strengthen their defences.
It is possible that Private E. Blades saw action at Passchendaele. The 5th, 7th, 21st, Divisions, 2nd Australian Division, 66th, 48th, 49th, 11th, 4th, 29th and Guards Division were all involved with the Battle of Poelcapelle on the 9th October 1917. The 146th and 148th Brigades of the 49th Division attacked at 5.20am, zero hour and the action of 148 Brigade is summarised below:
“146 Brigade attacked with 1/5th 1/7th and 1/8th West Yorkshire Regiment in line and the 1/6th in reserve. The 1/5th finally reached a line 200 yards in front of the Red Line and a support line was established on the Red Line. The 1/7th advanced and took Yetta House and the pillbox Peter Pan; the line finished up near Peter Pan and in touch with 1/5th. The 1/8th only managed to advance 300 yards and dug in around Kronprinz Farm, which was used as a Battalion HQ. They held this position until 10 October.
A gap had developed between the 2 brigades and the 1/6th were sent to fill it. They went to the vicinity of Peter Pan and consolidated 150 yards west of it. During the night touch was gained with the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 1/4th Yorks & Lancs (148th Brigade).”
The 1/7 West Yorkshire Regiment War Diary records events as follows:
VLAMERTINGHE – 8 October – 7.30am – Battalion marched to BRYKE, N. of YPRES (Map HAZEBROUCK 5A) where it rested.
BRYKE – 8 – 5pm – Battalion assembled and proceeded by No.6 Track to assembly position for attack
CALGARY GRANGE – 9 – 3am – Battalion formed up in Assembly Positions NE of CALGARY GRANGE
CALGARY GRANGE – 9 – 5.20am – Attack commenced – narrative attached.
Narrative of Recent Operations:
The battalion assembled at LA BRIQUE at 9 a.m. on October 8th and at 5 p.m. started to move up no. 6 track to the assembly position. The night was very dark and rain commenced to fall shortly before 5 p.m. and continued during the night, making the march to CALGARY GRANGE very difficult, many parts of the track being almost impossible to follow; shortly after leaving the ST. JULIEN road it was found that all the track grids had been removed for a considerable distance.
The head of the battalion reached CALGARY GRANGE about midnight and the whole battalion was in position by 3 a.m. on October 9th; the men were all very tired. There was certain amount of shelling on the way up but no casualties occurred until the battalion reached the assembly position.
The barrage opened at 5.20 a.m.; the troops were all ready and advanced at once; owing however to the broken ground, which was very wet and soft, and the water in the STROOMBEEK, the troops did not keep up to the barrage at first, but I think they got up to it again before reaching the first objective.
The companies at first kept rather too much to the right in the direction of PETER PAN but they afterwards changed direction and passed YETTA HOUSES at about the proper distance. Bat. H.Q. moved forward behind the companies and took up position in shell
holes near CALGARY GRANGE.
No news was received from companies until Lt. Baldwin M.C., O.C. Left Coy. for second objective, came back wounded about 7 a.m. and said that his company was held up by machine gun fire and snipers fire from the left as soon as they moved forward through the 1st objective companies; he told me that he had given orders that 2 platoons should move along to deal with this M.G. but they apparently failed to silence this gun.
As I got no reports whatever from the companies I went up to the front line myself near YETTA HOUSES and found that 3 companies were consolidating there with their left about 100x from YETTA HOUSES. The men were too crowded and I gave orders that the men of one company were to be collected and taken to some trenches further in rear. The other company (the right coy; for the 1st objective) was nearer PETER PAN where it was in touch with the 1/5th Bn. W. York. Rgt.
Two officers were left on duty with my right company, but in the other 3 coys. all the officers and the greater part of the senior N.C.O.’s had become casualties this made it difficult to obtain really reliable information. Enemy M. Guns and snipers in carefully concealed positions were very active; they continued to fire through the barrage and were able to prevent our advance to the second objective owing to the accuracy of their fire and the difficulty of locating their exact positions. A number of the enemy were killed by our rifle and Lewis Gun fire and an enemy machine gun firing from the parapet of a trench on the right, and enfilading troops advancing on the left, was rushed by one man singlehanded, whereupon the team ran away; as the man found that he could not work the gun he disabled it.
During the morning of October 9th Capt. MANDER with 2 Coys. of the 1/4th W. Riding Rgt. reported to me and at 2 p.m. I sent one of these companies to YETTA HOUSES to fill the gap between the left of my line and the right of the 1/8th W. York. Rgt.
Small counter attacks were attempted by the enemy about 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. but these came to nothing. At 10.30 p.m. on Oct. 9th. I received instructions that a company of the 1/6th Bn. W. Riding Rgt. would mop up the area between my line and the most advanced posts.
Lt. Col. BATEMAN of the 1/6th W. Riding Rgt. made his H.Q. at CALGARY GRANGE.
(NB During the morning of Oct. 9th I moved my battn. H.Q. back to CALGARY GRANGE as the shell hole position was too indefinite for gunners to find).
Early in the morning of Oct.10th, the O.C. the 1/6th W. Riding Rgt. mopping–up coy; reported that his company had covered all the ground up to the post held by my right coy, where LT. MOORE informed him that he was in the most advanced position of the Battn; he therefore carried out his instructions.
During the night of the 9th/10th Oct, I sent first my Intelligence Officer and afterward my Rgt. Sgt. Major to ascertain the position in the front line both were wounded, however and I had no one else to send at the time.
At 6 a.m. on Oct. 10th I sent my Signalling Officer up to the front line; he reported that all was quiet and in order.
The first companies of the relieving Battn. of the New Zealand Rifles came up about 9 p.m. and relief was complete about midnight.
Enemy shelling was heavy throughout the day of October 10th and during the relief; and the New Zealand Rifles suffered a good many casualties.
Comdg.1/7 Bn.W.Yorks. Rgt. (T.F.)
CALGARY GRANGE –10 – 10.0pm – Relief of Battalion by the 4th Battn. 3rd New Zealand Rifle Bde. commenced.
CALGARY GRANGE –11 – 3.0am – Relief completed
WIELTJE 6.0am – Battalion bivouacked in old British front line S. of WIELTJE
The War Diary reports no details of casualties. Later research records that on the 9th October, 1/7 West Yorkshire Regiment lost 7 Officers and 98 Other Ranks killed in action.
The Australian War Memorial, Australian Military Units reports as follows: 
“Like earlier battles in the Ypres offensive, the aim of the Poelcappelle attack was to secure a series of objectives in turn, protected by a heavy artillery barrage, the troops involved would be drawn from the 49th and 66th British and 2nd Australian Divisions. Rain however had begun to deluge an already poorly drained battlefield and adequate numbers of guns were unable to be brought within range. The infantry’s advance also wallowed in the mud. The Australians were able to secure some of their objectives for a short time but with little artillery support and both flanks open, they were forced to withdraw. The 2nd Australian Division sustained 1,250 casualties in the battle.”
Other reports confirm that the 2nd Australians had not advanced their line; the 49th Division suffered 2,585 casualties and had not advanced at all and the 66th Division had lost 3,119 men, and gained 500 yards of No-Man’s-Land but had not even dented the main German positions on top of the ridge. General Haig’s Diary contains the following entry:
“Tuesday 9 October, a general attack was launched at 5.30 am today from a point SE of Broodseinde on the right to St. Janshoek on the left (1 mile NE of Bixschoote). The results were very successful.”
Private E. Blades survived Passchendaele and the war until 21 November. Did he suffer a wound on the 9th October and survived until 21 November or was he subject to another act of warfare?
The 1/7th West Yorkshire War Diary continued to report on events. By 12 October, the battalion moved onto Oudezeele “C” Camp where training ensued until 7 November. The battalion then moved to Ypres and into the line, in the Westhoek sector, 11 November.
12 to 14 November: “Nothing to report”,
15 November: the battalion moved to support positions on ANZAC Ridge. Carrying parties were provided until the battalion was relieved on the 19th. It then moved into camp, west of Ypres then 20 November, into the Divisional Reserve near Dickebusch. The battalion stayed there until 24 November. The War Dairy reports no casualty figures.
However, later research confirms that between 10 October and the end of October, 1/7 West Yorkshire Regiment, lost another 9 men: 
10 October: 3 casualties – 1 Other Rank killed in action, 2 ORs died of wounds
12 October: 2 casualties – 1 OR killed in action, 1 OR died of wounds
Until the end of October, there were another 4 casualties. It seems likely that these casualties died of wounds sustained at Poelcapelle.
The battalion was back at the front between 11 and 19 November, otherwise at camp undergoing training. There were 20 casualties during November: 
4 November: 1 OR died of wounds (probably as a result of the Poelcapelle action)
11 November: 1 OR killed in action
13 November: 1 OR died of wounds
14 November: 2 casualties – 1OR killed in action, 1 OR died of wounds
17 November: 8 casualties – 1 Officer and 5 ORs killed in action, 2 ORs died of wounds
18 November: 1 OR died of wounds
19 November: 1 OR killed in action
20 November: 1 OR died of wounds
21 November: 2 casualties – 1 Officer killed in action and 1 OR died of wounds (Private E. Blades)
22 November: 2 casualties – 1 Officer killed in action and 1 OR died of wounds
Private E. Blades died of wounds 21 November 1917 and is buried at Etaples, some 90 miles west of Ypres. It is assumed that he sustained his wounds during the battalion’s tour of the front in November and was treated for his wounds at one of the hospitals at Etaples rather than those nearer to Ypres at Lijssenthoek. Located at Etaples, there were 8 major hospitals, namely 2 British Red Cross Hospitals (nos. 6 &7), 5 General Hospitals (nos.23, 24, 46, 51VD & 56) and the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade Hospital.
Awards and Medals
Private Elliott Blades was awarded the Victory and British war medals.
Effects and Pension
Private Elliott Blades’ widow Lily received his effectsand pension.
Private Elliott Blades is buried at grave reference XXX.M.5, Etaples Military Cemetery, France. His headstone bears the following epitaph:
God be with you till we meet again
Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division
Behind Essex Farm cemetery on the western bank of the Yser Canal, just to the north of Ieper is the Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division inaugurated in 1924.
ELLIOTT BLADES 1888 – 1917
54583 Private Elliott Blades, 1/7th Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) died of wounds 21 November 1917, aged 29. He is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Elliott was born 1888 at Escomb and worked as a cabinet maker. It is likely that he sustained his wounds following the Passchendaele offensive of 1917 when the usual violence of warfare resumed. He left a widow, Lily who lived at Chilton.
 Commonwealth War Graves Commission
 England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.184 Auckland 1888 Q2
 1891 census
 1891 census
 1901 census
 1911 census
 England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.362 Auckland 1915 Q1
 CWGC & Pension card index
 Soldiers Died in the Great War
 Various sources including www.ypressalient.co.uk/3rd%20Ypres%20of%20Battle.htm &
www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm & www.1914-1918.net/11div.htm
 “The Third Ypres Passchendaele: The Day by Day Account”1995 Chris McCarthy p.106 – 108
 1/7 West Yorkshire Regiment War Diary October 1917 National Archives reference WO-95-2795
 Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War
 “In Flanders Fields” 1959 Leon Wolff p.207
 Wolff p.210
 ODGW & SDGW
 ODGW & SDGW
 Medal Roll card index & Roll dated 20 June 1920
 UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.607811
 Pension card index