Hall H.

HERBERT HALL (1890-1917)

54397 Rifleman Herbert Hall, 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) was killed in action 9 October 1917 and is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery. [1]  He was 27 years old and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.

Family Details

Herbert was born 1890 at Cockfield to John Joseph and Jane Hall.  There were at least 3 children all born at Cockfield:

  • Herbert born 1890
  • Walter G. bc.1892
  • Fred bc. 1900

In 1901 the family lived at Cockfield (no specific street) and John (father) worked as a coal miner (hewer).[2]  By 1911, John was still a coal miner (hewer), 21 year old Herbert was a coal miner (fireman), 19 year old Walter was married and a coal miner (putter) and 11 year old Fred was at school. [3] Later, the family lived at Prospect House, Cockfield.[4]

Service Details

Herbert Hall joined the 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment and was given the regimental number 54397.[5]  The service record has not been researched and the war diary of the 1/7 West Yorkshire Regiment has not been examined.

The 1/7th (Leeds Rifles) Battalion, West Yorkshires was a Territorial Force and part of the West Riding Division and landed at Boulogne, France in April 1915.  In May 1915 it became under the orders of the 146th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division. [6]  The 146th Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 1/5th, the West Riding Regiment
  • 1/6th, the West Riding Regiment
  • 1/7th, the West Riding Regiment
  • 1/8th, the West Riding Regiment
  • 146th MGC formed January 1916
  • 146th Trench Mortar Battery formed June 1916 [7]

The Division served with distinction on the Western Grant for the entire war.  The date when Rifleman entered France is not known but it was after 31 December 1915.  Rifleman H. Hall was killed in action 9 October 1917 and the battalion, as part of the 49th Division, attached to the 2nd ANZAC Corps, Second Army took part in the Battle of Poelcappelle, a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres otherwise known as Passchendaele.[8]

Battle of Poelcappelle: 146th Brigade

The main attack was conducted by the II Anzac Corps. Two brigades each from 66th Division and the 49th Division, assembled behind Frezenberg and Potijze, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) from the jumping off line. The brigades were expected to cover the distance in five hours but the dark, rain, state of the ground and fitful German artillery fire caused serious delays. Both divisions reported at 2:30 a.m. that some battalions would not be ready for zero hour at 5:20 a.m. and that all of the 197th Brigade on the right flank would be late. Staff officers were sent out to hurry on every man capable of going faster, rather than keeping units together.   When the creeping barrage began, the troops who had arrived spread out and followed the barrage. The creeping barrage was difficult to follow, because much of the field artillery was out of action, some of the rest fired inaccurately from unstable platforms and many high-explosive shells were smothered by the mud.

The 66th Division battalions of the 197th Brigade on the right, advanced quickly on sandy going, despite lagging far behind the creeping barrage. German infantry from the 195th Division were found in shell holes and many were taken prisoner, as the British reached the final objective (blue line) at 10:00 a.m., a patrol finding Passchendaele village empty. Soon after arriving at the final objective, the rain stopped and in the better visibility, German machine-guns and field artillery began to fire from the right flank. At midday both flanks of the brigade were swung back to find neighbouring units, which the troops in the centre mistook as a withdrawal and followed, all the brigade ending up at the red line. After stopping a German counter-attack in the late afternoon, the division withdrew slightly, to gain touch with the 49th Division on the left and find cover from the machine-guns on the Bellevue spur. The 198th Brigade on the left had to struggle through mud and flooded trenches north of the Ravebeek. German machine-gun fire from the pill-boxes at Bellevue 500–800 yards (460–730 m) away, stopped the infantry half way to the red line, despite a further attempt to advance by the supporting battalions.

The German pill-boxes at Bellevue were able to fire on the 198th brigade, because the attack by the 148th Brigade on the right of the 49th Division, stalled in the swamp astride the Ravebeek and only a few parties managed to get across. The creeping barrage was thin and moved at 100 yards (91 m) in six minutes, which proved too fast for the infantry. The barrage was lost on the right flank, at the marshy edges of the Stroombeek and German riflemen and machine-gunners fired through the British barrage, particularly from Bellevue and the Yetta Slopes. “Peter Pan” on the left was captured by the 146th Brigade and by 6:40 a.m., the first objective (red line) had been reached. An attempt by following waves to leap-frog through the troops on the red line failed, due to the volume of fire from the Bellevue pillboxes. One attack got to within 40 yards (37 m) of Bellevue and a later attempt at a flanking attack was stopped by machine-gun fire. The attack on the Yetta Houses, was also raked by machine-gun fire and on the left stopped 100 yards (91 m) short of the objective.

The 147th Brigade was alerted and put on one hour’s notice by 7:30 a.m. and during the morning and troops from the supporting battalions of the attacking brigades filled gaps in the line. The final position reached was 100–200 yards (91–183 m) beyond the first objective, from which a line of posts ran from south of Wolf Farm to the eastern edge of Wolf Copse and from there to the south-east of Wolf Copse, with an advanced post 150 yards (140 m) south-east of the copse.  A support line was dug along the first objective and several small counter-attacks were driven off.  Troops from a reserve battalion were sent up to the vicinity of Peter Pan and more troops occupied the old British front line. Around 9:00 a.m., a company managed to work round Peter Pan and capture the pillboxes, which allowed the advance to continue up to a field of barbed wire, 150 yards (140 m) from Bellevue. More wire had been spread around the pill-boxes, which at this point were part of Flandern I and more German machine-guns had been hidden in shell-holes. After several attempts to advance, the troops dug in half-way up the slope.

The 146th Brigade found a bridge on the Gravenstafel road and got forward several hundred yards up the Wallemolen spur beyond the Ravebeek, before being stopped at 9:30 a.m., by the machine-guns in the Bellevue pill-boxes and a field of uncut wire 25–40 yards (23–37 m) wide in front of the pill-boxes, which obstructed all of the divisional front. At about 1:00 p.m. a reconnaissance report from a contact patrol aircraft crew had the 66th and 49th divisions at the final objective. Despite the scepticism of the brigade staff officers, both divisions were ordered to push forward reserves to consolidate the line.  In ignorance of the cause of the check, the 49th Division headquarters sent forward the 147th Brigade and the rest of the supporting battalions of the attacking brigades, which were either pinned down or held back on Gravenstafel spur, as the cause of the check was realised. In the afternoon the 148th and 146th brigades were near the red line, having had 2,500 casualties.  The right of the 66th Division rested on the railway beyond Keerselaarhoek below the main ridge, then north past Augustus Wood to the Ravebeek. The 49th Division line began in the valley at Marsh Bottom, then along the bottom of the Bellevue slopes above the Ravebeek, to Peter Pan and Yetta Houses, then on to the XVIII Corps boundary of the 144th Brigade of the 48th Division at Adler Farm. Small groups were isolated further up the Bellevue slopes, on the western edge of Wolf Copse, Wolf Farm and a cemetery on the northern boundary.[9]

The 1/7th Bn., West Yorkshires lost 7 officers and 98 other ranks killed in action 9 October 1917 including Rifleman H. Hall. [10]

Rifleman H. Hall was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [11]

Burial

Rifleman H. Hall is buried at grave reference XV.B.5, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium.  There are 11,956 Commonwealth burials of which 8,369 are unidentified.  The cemetery contains along the northern perimeter wall, the Tyne Cot Memorial which bears the names of about 35,000 UK and New Zealand servicemen who have no known grave and lost their lives on the Ypres Salient between 16 August 1917 and the end of the war. [12]

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] 1901 census

[3] 1911 census

[4] CWGC

[5] Medal Roll card index

[6] http://www.1914-1918.net/westyorks.htm

[7] http://www.1914-1918.net/49div.htm

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

[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Poelcappelle

[10] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[11] Medal Roll card index

[12] CWGC

Photographs:

HALL H.  Cockfield F.C. 1913-1914

HALL H.
Cockfield F.C. 1913-1914

Tyne Cot Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery

HALL. H.  Headstone

HALL. H.
Headstone

One thought on “Hall H.

  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