Hall H.R.

HARRY ROBSON HALL (1893-1917)

35698 Private Harry R. Hall, 20th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 26 July 1917 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.[1]  He was 24 years old and is commemorated on the Etherley War Memorial and the Roll of Honour in St. Cuthbert’s Church, Etherley.

Family Details

Harry Robson Hall was born 1893[2] at Bishop Auckland the son of Robert John William and Selina Hall. There were at least 4 children:[3]

  • Louisa bc.1888 at Chester-le-Street
  • Norah Irene bc.1891 at Bishop Auckland
  • Harry Robson born 1893 at Bishop Auckland
  • Jenny bc.1898 at Witton-le-Wear

By 1901 the family lived at Stone Cliffe House, West Witton, Witton-le-Wear where Robert was employed as an assistant grocer.[4] By 1911, the family lived at Toft Hill where Robert was a self employed grocer.  Harry did not live at the family home.[5]  By 1915, the family and Harry lived at Knavesmire Farm, Hamsterley and he was employed as a farmer.[6]

Service Details

Harry Robson Hall enlisted at Bishop Auckland 9 December 1915 aged 22 years 11 months joining the Durham Light Infantry being given the regimental number 35698.[7]  He underwent a medial examination 20 March 1916 was 5ft.11¼ tall and weighed 140lbs. and was found to be fit for Army Service.[8]  He was a Primitive Methodist [9] and unmarried.[10]

Private Harry R. Hall joined the Army Reserve 10 December 1915 being posted 9 June 1916 and embarked for France 3 October 1916 and immediately was posted to the 20th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry.[11]

The 20th (Service) Battalion (Wearside), the Durham Light Infantry (20/DLI) was formed in Sunderland 10 July 1915 and came under the orders of 123rd Brigade, 41st Division.  It landed in France 5 May 1916 and served on the Western front until November 1917 when it moved with the Division to Italy.[12]  Units in the 123rd Brigade were:

  • 11th, the Queens
  • 10th, the Royal West Kent Regiment (Kent County)
  • 23rd, the Middlesex Regiment (2nd Football)
  • 20th, DLI
  • 123rd Machine Gun Company joined June 1918 moved to 41st MGC March 1918
  • 123rd Trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916

The 41st Division as part of XV Corps, Fourth Army took part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette 15-22 September 1916, a phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916. [13]  Private H.R. Hall would have been a draft to replace those casualties lost in that action, arriving 3 October 1916 but did not join the battalion “in the field” until 5 October.[14]  Between October 1916 and 26 July 1916 when Private H.R. Hall was killed in action the 41st Division took part in the following engagements:

  • 1 – 18 October 1916: the Battle of Le Transloy:  20/DLI had seen action 1 October, 7 and 8 October and was relieved 11 October [15]  and moved away from the battle area 13 October.[16]  Private H.R. Hall may have seen action.
  • 7 – 14 June 1917: the Battle of Messines [17]

20 October 1916:  20/DLI moved north to the St. Eloi sector and arrived at Godewaersvelde.

24 October: 20/DLI took over trenches near St. Eloi.  The Germans commanded the Wytschaete-Messines Ridge.  The winter was spent in this sector.

“The Twentieth found bad trenches and weak wire but by working hard they effected great improvement.  Patrols were so active that the enemy rarely ventured into “No Man’s Land” and the efforts of the Durham snipers met with such success that German sniping virtually ceased.  Many men of the battalion worked with the tunnellers, who were busy with preparations underground for the offensive of the following June.”[18]

Private H.R. Hall was wounded 26 October 1916 receiving gun shot wound (GSW) to the right leg.  2 other ranks serving with 20/DLI were killed in action that day.[19]  The circumstances of their deaths and wounds are unknown.  Private H.R. Hall was treated at 10th Casualty Clearing Station, 39 Field Ambulance, 8 Stationary Hospital and a Convalescence Depot (Con. D) before rejoining the battalion 20 December 1916. [20]

7 – 14 June 1917: The Battle of Messines

20/DLI as part of the 41st Division was with the X Corps Second Army.[21]

20/DLI in action [22]

14 June: 20/DLI was in support to the 122nd brigade.  The attack was successful and didn’t require assistance.

19 June: 20/DLI took over the line which overlooked Hollebeke.

20 June: German batteries were very active and battalion HQ was “shelled out” of the White Chateau.  A new support line was dug by the battalion but men in the front trench were nearly waist deep in water.

23 June: relieved by the West Kents

20/DLI had less than 20 casualties.

24-27 June: now in support occupying the old German front line and provided working and carrying parties.  Losses amounted to 15 killed and wounded.

28 – 30 June: another tour in the front.  Bombing posts and Lewis guns held the line by day and much work was done at night.  Rain persisted and the trenches got worse and worse.  The Battalion was relieved by a unit of the 47th Division.  12 men were killed and 33 wounded including second lieutenant P.F. Large who died of wounds.

The Third Battle of Ypres: 31 July – 10 November 1917 [23]

20/DLI spent the first 3 weeks of July at Mont des Cats when over 250 men were absorbed from drafts.  Training for the attack which would signal the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres continued at the Kenora Camp near Westoutre.  The offensive was postponed and it was not until 3.50am 31 July that 20/DLI went forward to the attack.  Prior to this:

25 July: 20/DLI came into the line with their left on the Zwarteleen – Klein Zillebeke road.  The men were put to work digging their assembly trenches and dumps for battle stores.  “C” Company occupied forward posts on the slopes of Fusilier Wood and “D” Company was in support.

26 July 1917:  a fairly quiet day and the cost to the battalion, “only 8 casualties” [24], one of whom was Private H.R. Hall who was killed in action.[25]  42545 Private W. Magson, 20/DLI died of wounds on the same day.[26]

Private H.R. Hall served a total of 1 year 250 days.[27]

Private H.R. Hall was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[28]

Commemorations

Private H.R. Hall has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.  The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk).  The Menin Gate is one of 4 memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient which stretched from Langemarck in the north to Ploegsteert Wood in the south.  The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields.  It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient and in the case of British casualties, before 16 August 1917. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and was unveiled in July 1927 by Lord Plummer.  The Ypres Menin Gate Memorial bears the names of 54,344 officers and men whose graves are not known. [29]

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.229 Auckland 1893 Q1

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Army Form B.2512

[7] Army Form B.2512

[8] Army Form B.178

[9] Descriptive report on Enlistment

[10] Army Form W.5080

[11] Statement of the Services

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

[13] www.1914-1918.net/41div.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm

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

[15] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” Captain W. Miles 1920 p.98

[16] Miles p.125

[17] www.1914-1918.net/41div.htm & www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm & 1917.htm

[18] Miles p.125

[19] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[20] Army Form B.103

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

[22] Miles p.165-166

[23] Miles p.174-177

[24] Miles p.174

[25] CWGC

[26] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[27] Military History Sheet (hand written copy)

[28] Medal Roll card index

[29] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photographs:

Menin Gate Memorial Ypres

Menin Gate Memorial
Ypres

HALL H.R.  Inscription Menin Gate Memorial

HALL H.R.
Inscription
Menin Gate Memorial

One thought on “Hall H.R.

  1. Pingback: ETHERLEY | 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