Christon V.

VICTOR CHRISTON (1893-1918)

221725 Private Victor Christon, 22nd Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 26 March 1918 and is buried in Pargny British Cemetery, Belgium France.[1]  He was 24 years old and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.

Victor’s older brother Norman aged 30, serving as 54339 Private N. Christon, 1/5th Bn., west Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) was killed in action 9 October 1917. [2]

Family Details

Victor was born in 1893[3] at Cockfield to Robert and Margaret Christon.  There were at least 9 children, all born at Cockfield:

  • Eva bc.1876
  • Harry bc.1878
  • Allan bc. 1879
  • Beatrice bc. 1881
  • Phoebe bc.1883
  • Robert bc.1885
  • Norman bc. 1888
  • Sarah bc.1892
  • Victor b 1893

In 1891, the family lived at Cockfield and in 1901 at Main Street and in 1911 no specific address is given.[4]   His father Robert worked as a shoemaker then a boot repairer.  Victor worked as a butcher.[5]

Service Details                                                                           

Victor Christon enlisted into 22nd (Service) Bn., Durham Light Infantry (Pioneers) 19 December 1915 being given the regimental number 22/725. [6]  His medical examination was taken 8 February 1916 when he was 22 years 7 months.  He was 5ft.9½” tall and weighed 136lbs. and considered to be “fit for general service.” [7] 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.[8]  16 June 1916, Private V. Christon embarked for France landing the next day, 17 June 1916. [9]

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 [10]– 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. [11]  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.  [12]

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. [13]  Between 22 and 27 October 22/DLI lost 2 officers and 26 other ranks killed in action or died of wounds, 1 officer and 21 ORs being killed 23 October 1916.[14]  Private Victor Christon was wounded in action 23 October – GSW (gunshot wound) left arm (flesh) and was treated at No.14 Casualty Clearing Post (CCP) then No. 48 Casualty Clearing Station.  He received attention at Etaples (35 OC?) before he re-joined battalion 26 November 1916. [15]  22/929 Private N.W. Chambers served in B Company and was wounded 23 October 1917 before succumbing to his wounds 26 October 1917.  He is buried at grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte.[16]

Private V. Christon was admitted to 24 Field Ambulance 26 January 1917 suffering from scabies.  He returned to duty 4 February 1917. [17]

The 8th Division was to attack the German positions east and north-east of Bouchavesnes, north-west of Rancourt, 4 March 1917.  As usual it was the task of the Pioneers, 22/DLI to dig communication trenches across No-Man’s Land.  Losses to 22/DLI were 14 killed and 28 wounded.[18] Private V. Christon was unscathed but was wounded in action a second time (GSW chest) about 14 March 1917.  He was admitted to 48 CCS.  Sheen confirms that there were casualties 12 and 13 March before the enemy withdrew from these trenches.[19] Private V. Christon re-joined battalion April 1917.[20]

Private V. Christon received a 3rd wound in July 1917.  22/DLI was serving at the Ypres Salient constructing a new light railway to run south of Hell Fire Corner on the Menin Road forward to the line.  7 July, Capt. G.P. Baines and 10 OR were wounded; 15 July a barrage of mustard gas shells stopped all work and little could be done for 2 days.  Casualties were few [21] but Private V. Christon was wounded in action 16 July 1917: wounded in action, shrapnel left hip and he was admitted to 46 Field Ambulance then 17 July 1917 admitted to 83 General Hospital, Boulogne. [22]

As part of the 8th Division, 2nd Corps, Fifth Army, 22/DLI saw action at the Third Battle of Ypres, 1917, otherwise known as Passchendaele:

  • 31 July – 2 August: Battle of Pilckem
  • 16 – 18 August: Battle of Langemarck [23]

Army Form B.103 is not clear but Private V. Christon may have been in hospital at Boulogne and Etaples through July.  He was granted leave in November 1917. [24]

When the Germans launched the great Spring Offensive, 21 March 1918 in Picardy against the British Third and Fifth Armies the 22/DLI was moved from the Ypres Salient down to the Somme.  The 8th Division saw action:

  • 21 – 23 March: Battle of St. Quentin
  • 24 – 25 March: Actions across the Somme Crossings
  • 26 – 27 March: Battle of Rosieres [25]

By 23 March, 22/DLI was in billets at Rosieres in reserve then was ordered to take over the line from the harassed 50th (Northumbrian) Division.  They marched through the villages of Chaulnes, Fresnes, Marchelpot, Omiecourt and Pertain.  A Company initially formed the line west of Morchain then retired 500 yards to a position near Potte Wood.  B Company was also in this area.  C Company was in reserve.  The Germans launched a mass attack with artillery and infantry in the morning of 25 March.  22/DLI retired to Omiecourt then, fighting all the way, the battalion was ordered to retreat to Chaulnes which was reached by evening.  At dawn 26 March, the battalion withdrew to Lihons then by the evening it was beyond Rosieres in the Divisional Reserve.  By noon, 27 March the enemy pressed towards Proyart and the position was critical.  22/DLI moved towards Harbonnieres looking to counter attack with the 2/Devons and the Germans were driven back towards Proyart.  But the position could not be held for long and on the morning 28 March the whole line of the 8th Division was in danger from the north and south.   There were an estimated 400 casualties in the 3 days since leaving Ypres.  The Division was pursued back to Caix, Cottenchy and Moreuil Wood before being relieved by French troops 2 April.  23 officers and 469 other ranks had been killed, wounded or were missing.[26]  Between 21 March and 4 April 1918, 22/DLI lost 6 officers and 133 other ranks killed or died of wounds including 22/725 Private V. Christon 26 March 1918, killed in action 26 March 1918.[27]

22/725 Private V. Christon was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[28]

Burial

22/275 Private V. Christon is buried at grave reference IV.D.25, Pargny British Cemetery.

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

[2] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[3] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p275 Teesdale Q2 1893

[4] 1891, 1901 & 1911 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Army Form B.2512 Short Service

[7] Medical History

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

[9] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form-Active Service

[10] “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”.

[11] Sheen p.111-114

[12] Sheen p.141-142

[13] Sheen p.144-148

[14] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[15] Army Form B.103

[16] Commonwealth War Graves Commission Norman Chambers was a school master at Cockfield School.

[17] See 13

[18] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-1918” Capt. W. Miles 1920 p.130

[19] Sheen p.168

[20] See 13

[21] Miles p.172-173

[22] See 13

[23] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm

[24] See 13

[25] http://www.warpath.orbat.co./battles_ff/1918pt1.htm

[26] Miles p.271-275 & Sheen p.225-233

[27] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[28] Medal Roll card index

Photographs:

CHRISTON V.  Headstone

CHRISTON V.
Headstone

 

One thought on “Christon V.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s