LINDSAY William Langton 1893 – 1917


34176 Lance Corporal William Langton Lindsay, 8th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment was killed in action 7 June 1917, aged 25.  He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial [1] and the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

William Langton Lindsay was born 1893,[2] the son of James Lindsay.[3]  There were at least 2 children, born at Witton Park:[4]

  • William Langton born 1893
  • Lavinia L. bc1897

In 1901, James was a 38 years old widower living at Queen Street, Witton Park and was employed as a tailor and hairdresser (own account).  His 2 children and housekeeper, 44 years old Jane Lee, lived at the property. [5] By 1911, the family lived at Vulcan Street, Witton Park.  James was employed as a tailor, William now 17 years old worked as a joinery sawyer.  Jane Lee aged 51 was their housekeeper and her daughter, 8 years old Ada, were recorded at the property.[6]

30 October 1915, William Langton Lindsay married Mabel Coates and lived at Carwood Street, Witton Park. [7]  William and Mabel had at least 2 children:[8]

  • Veronica Coates born 26 November 1914
  • Susan Joyce born 20 September 1916 at West Hartlepool.

Later, William’s wife/widow Mabel lived at Northumberland Street, West Hartlepool and William’s father, James lived at Fallows Street, Middlesbrough.[9]

Military Details

11 January 1915: William L. Lindsay enlisted at Sunderland into the 7th Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment being given the service number 19576.  At this time, he lived at 6 Commercial Street, Witton Park.  He was 21 years 6 months old.[10]  He had a medical examination at Crook and it is recorded that he worked as a labourer, was 5’9” tall and weighed 149 lbs.[11]

The 7th (Service) Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment was formed in September 1914 at Richmond, North Yorkshire.  It moved to Wareham and in May 1915 went to Kent.  It came under the orders of the 50th Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division.  In July 1915, the battalion landed at Boulogne, France.[12]

7 July 1916:  Private W.L. Lindsay entered France [13] and 13 July was attached to 8th Bn., York & Lancaster Regiment[14] and given the service number 34176.[15]

34176 Private W.L. Lindsay, 8th Bn., York & Lancaster Regiment

The 8th (Service) Battalion, the York and Lancaster Regiment was formed at Pontefract in September 1914 and landed at Boulogne, 27 August 1915.  It came under the orders of the 70th Brigade, 23rd Division but was transferred with the Brigade to the 8th Division in October 1915 then returned back to the 23rd Division in July 1916.[16]  At this time, 70 Brigade comprised the following units:[17]

  • 11th (Service) Bn., the Sherwood Foresters
  • 8th (Service) Nm., the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI)
  • 8th (Service) Bn., the York & Lancaster Regiment
  • 9th (Service) Bn., the York & Lancaster Regiment
  • 70th Machine Gun Company
  • 70th Trench Mortar Battery

The Division saw action during the Battle of the Somme 1916 at the following major engagements:

  • The Battle of Albert, 1 – 13 July
  • The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, 14 – 17 July
  • The Battle of Pozieres, 23 July – 3 September
  • The Battle of Flers-Corcelette, 15 – 22 September
  • The Battle of Morval, 25 – 28 September
  • The Battle of Le Transloy, 1 – 18 October

7 – 19 September 1916: Private J.L. Lindsay was admitted to hospital suffering from tonsillitis but as can be seen from the above, he saw plenty of front line duty.

In 1917, prior to the commencement of the Battle of Messines, Private J.L. Lindsay was appointed to Lance Corporal, 3 June 1917. [18]  The Battle of Messines commenced 7 June, the day when Lance Corporal James L. Lindsay, was killed in action. 

The Battle of Messines 7 – 14 June 1917

“I do not know whether or not we shall change history tomorrow but we shall certainly alter geography.”

Major-General Charles Hartington, Chief of Staff of the British Second Army

The main feature was the success of mine warfare.  The German defences were totally shattered with several thousand troops obliterated by the explosions.  One of the most strongly fortified positions on the Western Front was taken within an hour or so, with few casualties to the attacking divisions.  Messines was regarded as a major success, even though early gains were not capitalised upon and later German counter-attacks regained much lost ground. 

A brief account of the mining is given below:   

“The culmination of mine warfare on the Western Front was the Second Army attack on the Messines Ridge on 7 June 1917.  In conjunction with the most powerfully concentrated artillery barrage to that date, 19 deep mines with a total of 937,450 lb of explosive were fired along the 10 km front at zero hour, all within 30 seconds of each other.  The explosions were clearly heard in London and registered on a seismograph in Switzerland. 

The concept of a deep mining attack against the Messines Ridge was first proposed in early 1915 by Major Norton Griffiths.  The first of the tunnels was initiated in July 1915.  In January 1916 General Sir Herbert Plumer (Daddy Plumer) approved an all-out effort.  At peak 9 Tunnelling Companies were employed on the preparations, including all three Canadian Companies.  Many of the mines were in position by mid-1916 and had to be preserved and defended for a year or more.

25 mines totalling 1,149,450 lb (522,500 kg) were laid.   One was lost to German counter mining, one abandoned due to tunnel collapse, and four at the southern end of the Ridge (Birdcage Sector) not employed for tactical reasons.  19 totalling 937,450 lb (426,110 kg) were fired.  The largest single charge was the St Eloi mine at 96,500 lb (43,600 kg). One of the four Birdcage mines exploded in a thunderstorm in July 1955.  Five fully charged mines containing 166,000 lb (75,500 kg) remain today.

After the carnage of the exploding mines, the 23rd, 47th, 41st, 19th, 16th (Irish), 36th (Ulster), 25th, New Zealand and 3rd Australian Divisions [19] attacked over the devastated landscape.  The 23rd Division was at the northern flank opposite Zwarteleen, Hill 60 and advanced towards Mount Sorrel.  A German force at Zwarteleen held out until the evening, causing many casualties by machine gun fire. [20]

The 8th Bn., Y. & L.R. War Diary reported as follows:

7th June 1917:  We shared in the great victory by the 2nd Army.  Zero hour 3.10am.  The 9th Y & L took their objectives in fine style and at 6.50am we left their new line to attack the final objective (Zillebeke map – Image Crescent I.36 b.0.3 to I.30.d.5.1 approx.) This we took with a strong-point about 50 yards in advance of the right flank, also the Knoll, an eminence in No Man’s Land in front of our centre.  Our officer casualties were Capt. Andrews (killed), 2/Lt. Hart (believed killed) 2/Lt. Lucas (believed killed) and 2/Lts. Aston, Imison, Vansenden, Lt. Popplewell, Capt. Bell & 2/Lt. Billington wounded.  Estimated O.R. casualties 300.  No counter attacks after the position had once been consolidated.”

Later research records that 1 officer and 73 other ranks were killed in action or died of wounds between 7 and 10 June 1917.  Lance Corporal W.L. Lindsay was 1 of 51 other ranks killed in action on the opening day of the Battle of Messines, 7 June 1917.

Awards and Medals

Lance Corporal William L. Lindsay was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[21]



William L. Lindsay’s wife Mabel received his effects and pension.[22] She later remarried and was known as Mabel Kendall, living at Bailey Street, West Hartlepool.[23]


Lance Corporal William L. Lindsay is commemorated at panel 55, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.[24]



William L. Lindsay was born, lived and worked in and around Witton Park.  He enlisted in January 1915 into the Yorkshire Regiment but on arriving in France in July 1916 was transferred to the 8th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment.  He saw front line action at the Battle of the Somme from July to October 1916.  A major offensive was planned in Belgium and the 23rd Division was posted there.  The great underground mining operations at Messines were the foundations to this successful attack.  However, Lance Corporal William L. Lindsay was killed in action on the opening day of the offensive, 7 June 1917.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.  He was 25 years old and left a widow and 2 children.  


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.208 Auckland 1893 Q3

[3] Note: The name of his James’ wife, William’s mother has not been traced.

[4] 1901 & 1911 census

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.241 Hartlepool 1915 Q4 and Army Form B.2505 Information supplied by recruit

[8] Army Form W.5080 and Pension Claimant card index

[9] Army Form W.5080

[10] Army Form B.2505

[11] Army Form B.178 Medical History


[13] Military History Sheet

[14] Army Form B.103

[15] Medal Roll card index and Roll of Individuals entitled to Victory and British War medals. Dated 20 May 1920



[18] Army Form B.200 Statement of the Services

[19] “A Military Atlas of the First World War” 197r Arthur Banks p.171


[21] Medal Roll card index

[22] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No. 627331 and Pension Claimant card index

[23] CWGC

[24] CWGC