Hebdon E.W.


205122 Private Ernest William Hebdon, 1/7th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action 26 October 1917 and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.[1]  He was 21 years old and he is also commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaque in the St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack.

Family Details

Ernest William Hebdon was born 1896[2] at Barnard Castle, the son of Elizabeth Hebdon.[3]   In 1901, 4 year old Ernest lived with his widowed grandmother Elizabeth Bell, her daughter Margaret Ann Hebdon and Elizabeth’s son, Leonard Hebdon and 10 year old Ralph Hebdon (cousin or brother?) at Low Beck Head, Forest & Frith, Teesdale. [4]  By 1911, Ernest lived at Newbiggin near Middleton in Teesdale with his mother Elizabeth Hebdon and her brother Leonard. [5]  In 1901, Leonard worked as a lead miner and by 1911 he was a coal miner (hewer) therefore it is highly likely that Ernest and Ralph followed Leonard to work in the pits.  In fact, by 1911 Ralph worked at St. Helen’s Colliery and it is highly likely that his younger cousin Ernest worked in one of the many pits and drifts around Butterknowle.

6/2211 Private Ralph Hebdon, 6/DLI was killed in action 5 November 1916 at the Butte de Warlencourt.[6]

Service Details

Ernest William Hebdon enlisted at Bishop Auckland and joined the Northumberland Fusiliers being given the regimental number 205122.[7] He served with the 1/7th Battalion which was a Territorial Force, part of the Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division.  In April 1915, the Division entered France and in May 1915 became under the orders of 149th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.[8]  The 149th Brigade consisted of the following units:

  • 1/4th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/5th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/6th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/7th, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 149th Machine Gun Company formed February 1916
  • 149th Trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916 [9]

The service record of Private E.W. Hebdon has not been researched but he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915. [10]

It is likely that he joined the battalion as a draft required for the Battle of the Somme where the 50th Division was involved in the following actions: [11]

  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette: 15-22 September
  • The Battle of Morval: 25-28 September
  • The Battle of Transloy Ridges: 1-18 October

In 1917, as part of the VII Corps, Third Army, the Division was involved in the following phases of the Arras Offensive:

  • The First Battle of the Scarpe: 9-14 October including the capture of Wancourt Ridge
  • The Second battle of the Scarpe:23-24 October

Private E.W. Hebdon was killed in action 26 October 1917.[12]  On that day, it is recorded that 7/NF lost 5 officers and 97 other ranks, killed in action or died of wounds.[13]  However, the Divisional History makes no reference to any significant action taking place 26 October 1917.  7/NF was in reserve at Ronville:

“At zero hour (4.45am) the 3 infantry brigades were to be in position as follows: 2 battalions ready to assault, 2 in Nepal and Tiger Trenches; 151st– 3 battalions in the Harp, 1 in Ronville; 149th – 4 battalions in Ronville. [14] …With the exception of the 4th Northumberland Fusiliers… and 2 sections of the 149th Machine-Gun Company who were to support the attack of the 150th Brigade, the 149th Brigade was to remain in billets in Ronville. [15]…During the early morning of the 24th the 151st Brigade relieved the 150th Infantry Brigade, who moved back into reserve in the Harp area; the 4th Northumberland Fusiliers of the 149th Brigade were attached to the 151st Brigade, the remainder of the 149th being in support. [16]… Heavy artillery fire characterised the 25th, our guns raking the enemy’s positions and causing him many casualties.  During the morning another brigade of the 14th Division relieved the 149th brigade in support, the latter moving to the Harp: the 151st Brigade was placed in support.  On the 26th the 149th Brigade moved to Arras and the 151st to the Harp…[17]…in the Couturelle area by the 28th, all 3 infantry brigades were concentrated i.e. 149th Pommera, Mondicourt; 150th Halloy, Famechon, Grenas and 151st Humbercourt, Warluzel, Coullemont.” [18]

The 7/NF war diary should be researched to clarify the situation.  Did 102 men lose their lives while stationed in reserve?  Or, were they transferred to another attacking battalion?

205122 Private E.W. Hebdon was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [19]

News of his Death [20]

“Roll of Honour

Hebdon: killed in action in France on October 26th.  Pte. Ernest Wm. Hebdon, Northumberland Fus, dearly beloved son of E. Hebdon, The Mill, Newbiggin, aged 21 years.

A light is from our household gone

A voice we loved is stilled

A place is vacant in our home

Which never can be filled

 Sadly missed and deeply mourned by his loving mother, Uncle Leonard and all who knew him. “


205122 Private E.W. Hebdon has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.  This memorial commemorates almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are unknown.  The Memorial to the Missing forms the north eastern boundary of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and is one of 4 memorials to those with no known graves in Belgian Flanders.  The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and unveiled in July 1927. [21]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales 1837-1915 Birth Index Vol.10a p.265 Teesdale 1896 Q3

[3] CWGC

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] 1901 census & CWGC

[7] Soldiers Died in the Great War

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

[9] http://www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm

[10] Medal Roll card index

[11] www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm & www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm & http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm

[12] Medal Roll card index

[13] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[14] “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” E. Wyrail 1939 p.216

[15] Wyrail p.217

[16] Wyrail p.223-4

[17] Wyrail p.226-7

[18] Wyrail p.227

[19] Medal Roll card index

[20] Teesdale Mercury 19 December 1917

[21] Commonwealth war Graves Commission








One thought on “Hebdon E.W.

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

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