GYPP George 1888 – 1917

GEORGE GYPP 1888 – 1917

281789 Private George Gypp, 10th/11th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry died 27 August 1917, aged 28.  He is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium[1] and commemorated on Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

George Gypp was born in 1888 at Stockton-on-Tees,[2] the son of Arthur and Sarah Gypp, originally Arthur came from Suffolk and Sarah from Cheshire.  There were 5 children:

  • Annie born about 1887 at Witton Park[3]
  • George born 1888 at Stockton-on-Tees
  • Emma bc.1892 at Stockton-on-Tees
  • Herbert bc.1895 at Stockton-on-Tees
  • Edith bc.1899 at Witton Park

In 1891, Arthur and Jane lived at Stockton-on-Tees were 28 years old Arthur worked as a (indecipherable) probably in a foundry or ironworks.[4]  Arthur died in 1899 aged 36,  His death was registered at Auckland[5] and Edith is recorded as being born at Witton Park about 1899 therefore it is likely that they lived at Witton Park from about this time. By 1901, Sarah was recorded as a widow and employed as a, “charwoman”.  The family lived at Thompson Street, Witton Park.[6]  By 1911, the family lived at Low Queen Street, Witton Park and 42 years old Sarah worked as a, “School Caretaker”, 22 years old George was recorded as an unemployed mining labourer, 19 years old Emma was an, “Assistant Caretaker”, 16 years old Herbert was a “Moulders Labourer” at a brickyard and 12 years old Edith was still at school.[7]

Military Details[8]

George Gypp was probably a conscript rather than a Kitchener volunteer.  He joined the Highland Light Infantry and was given the service number 281789.[9]  Initially, it appears that he was posted to the 18th battalion then joined the 10/11th Highland Light Infantry.[10]  The 18th (Service) Battalion (4th Glasgow), The Highland Light Infantry landed in France in February 1916.[11]

14 May 1916, the 10th (Service) and 11th (Service), Highland Light Infantry (HLI) Battalions amalgamated to form the 10/11th Bn., HLI and were transferred to the 46th Brigade, 15th (Lowland) Division.[12]  The 46th Brigade contained the following units:

  • 7th Bn., the King’s Own Scottish Borderers
  • 8th Bn., KOSB which merged to become 7/8th Bn., in May 1916
  • 19th Bn., the Cameronians
  • 12th Bn., the Highland Light Infantry left February 1918
  • 1/4th Bn., the Suffolk Regiment November 1915 – February 1916
  • 1/4th Bn., the Seaforth Highlanders November 1915 – February 1916
  • 10/11th Bn., the Highland Light Infantry
  • 46th Machine Gun Company February 1916 – March 1918
  • 46th Trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916 [13] 

The Division was involved in the German gas attacks near Hulluch in April 1916 and the defence of the Kink Position in May 1916 before entering the Battle of the Somme at Pozieres, 23 July to 3 September; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette 15 – 22 September and the Battle of Le Transloy 1 – 18 October.

In 1917, the Division took part in the Arras Offensive and was in action at the First Battle of the Scarpe 9 – 14 April and the Second Battle of the Scarpe 23 – 24 April. 

The Division then was posted to Belgium and was involved with the Third Battle of Ypres, (popularly known as Passchendaele), particularly the Battle of Pilkem 31 July – 2 August and the Battle of Langemarck 16 – 18 August and Local Operations around St. Julian on the 22 and 27 August 1917.

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

31 July – 10 November 1917 – an overview [14]

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.  For example, the 11th Division saw action at Langemarck, Polygon Wood, Broodseinds and Poelcapelle. 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.  The British did not force home their initial advantage and it was not until the 11th July that an air offensive began. 

18 July:  a massive artillery bombardment commenced. 

31 July:  the attack itself began and the British Fifth Army attacked north-east from the Ypres salient.  Initially, good progress was made but a strong counter-attack resulted in only a 2-mile advance.  Heavy rain fell on the first night flooding the swampy ground whose drainage system had been totally destroyed by the 10-day bombardment.  As a result, the whole operation was held up but offensive actions still took place.

A description of the action of August is: [15]

“So desolate, so meaningless were these August struggles that the record of them in histories and memoirs fill one with a certain weariness. Listlessly the men assemble at the jumping-off tapes. Behind the same familiar barrage, they advance through the same narrow porridge-like strip of ground. The same hidden machine-guns greet them; the same whiz-bangs open up at them. Here and there a strong-point is captured, a new outpost is reached, to which a few riflemen forlornly cling. Some of these are held, and occasionally the line is advanced a few hundred yards. Brownish masses of German troops slog forward and everywhere nasty hand-to-hand encounters take place. The men on both sides are lacerated and punctured, bleed and die, in numbers that baffle the imagination. Nameless new beings take their place, but nothing else changes.

Gaunt, blackened remnants of trees drip in the one-time forests. The shells of countless batteries burst deafeningly and without ceasing; the dank smell of gunpowder, wet clay, poison gas and polluted water spreads over the battleground and drifts eastward. The men hardly know what they are doing or how affairs in general are progressing. By mid-August they were told even less than soldiers are usually told: move up there; start walking that way; occupy those shell-holes; wait near the barn; surround that pill-box; relieve those chaps (you can’t see them from here) behind the canal and wait for further word. After two weeks such was the status of Haig’s grand offensive which was to have burst out of the Salient, bounded across the ridge, released the prancing cavalry steeds, and with flying banners capture the Channel ports.”

The 46th Brigade came under the orders of the 15th Division, XIX Corps, Fifth Army and was involved on the first day of the attack, 31 July 1917.  A brief outline of action is given below:[16]

“46th Brigade used the 7/7th King’s Own Scottish Borderers and 10/11th Highland Light Infantry, with the 10th Scottish Rifles in support.  The KOSB met strong resistance from a redoubt in Frezenburg village but 2 tanks on either flank aided the attackers and they reached the blue line, where they reorganised.  At 5am the attack continued but it was held up by the Frezenburg Redoubt astride the Ypres-Zonnebeke road.  A party of KOSB eventually outflanked and captured it.

The HLI came under fire from Square Farm and Hill 35 and enfilade fire from Frost House.  Moving on, HLI took Low Farm but were checked by fire from Pommern Castle and Hill 35.  It was 10am before they reached the Black Line.”

Later research records that 10/11 HLI, lost 49 Other Ranks killed in action or died of  wounds between 31 July and 3 August.[17]  Various units of the 15th Division attacked on 1st and 2nd August before being relieved by the 36th Division, 3 August.[18] 

22 August, the 15th Division was back in the front line and attacked with 2 brigades, 45th Brigade and 44th Brigade with limited success.[19]

23 August, 44 Brigade unsuccessfully attacked a position known as Gallipoli.[20]

25 August, 44 Brigade made another unsuccessful attack on Gallipoli and Iberian Farm.

26 August, 46 Brigade made another attempt on Gallipoli, this time led by 10/11 HLI.  They reached the farm buildings but were forced back by machine gun fire.[21]

28 August, 15th Division was relieved by the 42nd Division.[22]

Later research records that 10/11 HLI lost 25 Other Ranks between 26 and 30 August, 8 men on 27 August, 13 on 28th, 4 on the 30th.[23]  Private G. Gypp was killed in action 27 August and should be added to these totals.

Awards and Medals

Private George Gypp was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[24]

Medal Roll card index

Burial

Private G. Gypp is buried at grave reference IV.H.24, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium. His body was exhumed and reburied during the Imperial War Graves Commission programmed for the concentration of graves.[25]

Tyne Cot Cemetery
Private G. GYPP’s headstone
(Thanks to the Find a Grave website)

Effects

George Gypp’s mother Sarah received his effects[26] and pension.  She then lived at 2 Low Queen Street, Witton Park.[27]

Summary

George Gypp’s family originally came from Suffolk but had been in County Durham since at least the 1880’s.  His father found work in Witton Park then Stockton-on-Tees then back to Witton Park.  He served with the 10/11 Bn., the Highland Light Infantry, probably at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, Arras 1917 and definitely at Passchendaele, in 1917.  He was killed in action 27 August 1917, aged 28 and is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium. 


REFERENCES

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Note: Soldiers Died in the Great War records 281789 Private George Gypp serving with the 7th (Blythswood) Battalion (Territorial) Highland Light Infantry. His date of death was 28 August 1917 and in the Western European Theatre.  7/HLI came under the orders of the 157th Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division which was serving in Palestine at this time not Europe.  This research follows CWGC records.

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.77 Stockton 1888 Q4

[3] 1881 census records 18 years old Arthur living with his parents, James and Jane Gypp and his brother 12 years old George at High Thompson Street, Witton Park.  James worked as a labourer in the iron works.  The family moved from rural Suffolk to County Durham in search of employment and James found work at the Bolckow and Vaughan iron works.

[4] 1891 census

[5] England & Wales Death Index 1937-1915 Vol.10a p/172 Auckland Q3

[6] 1901 census

[7] 1911 census

[8] The service details of Private George Gypp have not been researched nor the 10/11 Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry’s battalion war diary.

[9] Medal Roll card index.

[10] Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory and British War Medals dated 1 April 1921

[11] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/highland-light-infantry/

[12] https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/highland-light-infantry/

[13] http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/15th-scottish-division/

[14]www.ypressalient.co.uk/3rd%20Ypres%20of%20Battle.htm web.westernfrontassociation.com/thegreatwar/articles/timeline/ypres3.htm

[15] “In Flanders Fields” L. Wolffe 1959 p.142-3

[16] “The Third Ypres Passchendaele: The day by day account” 1995 Chris McCarthy p.25

[17] Officers Died in the Great War and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[18] McCarthy p.34 & 35

[19] McCarthy p.58

[20] McCarthy p.60

[21] McCarthy p.61

[22] McCarthy p.62

[23] Private G. Gypp is not included in these figures, see note 1.

[24] Medal Roll card index

[25] CWGC

[26] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1902-1929 Record No.543989

[27] Dependent’s Pension card index