Chambers N.W.

NORMAN WILSON CHAMBERS (1889-1916)

22/929 Private Norman Wilson Chambers, 22nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry died of wounds 26 October 1916 and is buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte, France.[1]  He was 27 years old and is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, Cockfield Council School.

Family Details

Norman was born 1889 [2] at North Shields, Northumberland to Robert and Catherine Chambers.  There were 5 children:

  • John bc.1878 at South Shields
  • Robert bc. 1880 at South Shields
  • Alfred bc. 1883 at South Shields
  • Edith M. bc. 1887 at North Shields
  • Norman W. b 1889 at North Shields[3]

The family lived at 25 Dockwray Square, North Shields and his father Robert worked as a river pilot.  Robert died 5 January 1899 [4] and by 1901, Norman’s older brothers John and Robert both worked as clerks (house agent) and Alfred was an apprentice ironmonger.[5]  By 1911, 21 year old Norman was lodging with Sarah Hall, 13 Mount Pleasant, Cockfield and was employed by Durham County Council as an elementary school teacher. [6]  1 June 1916, Norman married Maria Mary Walker at St. Mary’s Church, Cockfield and they lived at Barnard House, Cockfield.[7]

Service Record

Norman Wilson Chambers enlisted 8 December 1915 aged 26 years 4 months. [8]  He underwent a medical examination 12 February 1916 – he was 5ft.8½” tall and weighed 126 lbs. and found to be “Fit for general service.” [9]  He joined the 22nd Service Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Pioneers). The 22nd Service Battalion, Durham Light Infantry was formed at Hartlepool in October 1915 and landed at Le Havre, France in June 1916 and was attached to the 19th (Western) Division then was transferred to the 8th Division in July 1916.[10]

Private N.W. Chambers was placed on the Army Reserve 8 December 1915 and posted to 22/DLI (B Company) [11] 11 February 1916.[12]  He entered France 17 June 1916.[13]

1 July 1916, 22/DLI received orders to send 3 companies to Albert on the Somme, the object being for these companies to move forward and consolidate positions captured by front line infantry.  Accordingly B, C and D Companies moved forward and A Company remained in reserve at Millencourt.  They stood by all day as, over the ridge, the 34th Division was taking the highest casualties of the day.  2 July 1916, the 3 companies were employed carrying engineer supplies to a dump in a captured German trench at La Boiselle and carrying the wounded of the Tyneside Irish and Scottish.  22/DLI had 25 casualties [14]– nothing compared to many other battalions on that day, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The battalion marched back to Amiens then entrained to the Bethune area. [15]  Their work in the Mazingarbe area was varied but mainly gave assistance to 251/Tunnelling Company RE removing spoil from mines.  Later, some men were attached to 179 and 180 Tunnelling Companies.  [16]

October 1916 and 22/DLI was ordered back to the Somme, repairing roads.  Then orders came that the 8th Division would attack German trenches at Le Transloy, 23 October 1916.  A Company was to work as stretcher bearers and heavy casualties were expected.  B Company was involved from 22 to 25 October, digging assembly trenches and 23 October commenced digging a communication trench.  Whilst doing so a heavy enemy bombardment lasting 2½ hours resulted in about 10 casualties.  The assault was to be renewed 0350 next morning 24 October and a party of men from B Company went over the top with the second wave to dig a trench on the right of the sector.  At 07.00 orders were received to withdraw and B Company was ordered out of the line.  C Company went over the top at 1930 hours 22 October and was subject to a heavy barrage, 5 men were killed and 14 wounded.  D Company left their billets 1630, 23 October but their guide got lost and their action seems to have fraught with problems. [17]  Between 22 and 27 October 22/DLI lost 2 officers and 26 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds including Private N.W. Chambers.  1 officer and 21 ORs were killed 23 October 1916.[18]

Private N.W. Chambers served with B Company and was wounded 23 October 1916.  He was treated at No. 34 Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds 26 October 1916.  He suffered GSW (gunshot wound) to the skull, compound fracture.[19]

Private N.W. Chambers served a total of 324 days [20] 191 at home and 133 in France [21] and was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [22]

Burial

22/929 Private N.W. Chambers is buried at I.P.47 grave reference, Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte.[23]

The headstone inscription reads:

“Loving husband of Maria Mary Chambers aged 30 years

Love Never Dies”

There are 1395 burials.

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1916 Vol.10b p.232 Tynemouth Q3 1889

[3] 1891 census

[4] England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of wills & Administrations) 1858-1966

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005 Vol.10a p.457 and Army Form

[8] Army Form B.2512

[9] Army Form B.178 Medical History

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

[11] Army Form B.2090A

[12] Army Form Statement of Services

[13] Army Form B.103 casualty Form-Active Service

[14] “Durham Pals: 18th, 19th & 22nd Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry in the Great War” J. Sheen 2007 p.111-114 – casualties see p.113 a quote from Major Davidson but Miles p.53 quotes “5 men had been wounded”.

[15] Sheen p.111-114

[16] Sheen p.141-142

[17] Sheen p.144-148

[18] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[19] See reference 11

[20] See reference 10

[21] Military History Sheet

[22] Medal Roll card index

[23] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photographs:

GROVE TOWN CEMETERY MEULTE

GROVE TOWN CEMETERY
MEULTE

CHAMBERS N.W. Headstone

CHAMBERS N.W. Headstone

2 thoughts on “Chambers N.W.

  1. Pingback: COCKFIELD | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

  2. Pingback: Cockfield Schools: Some Details | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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