Mason E

MASON EDWARD 1897-1917

45631 Private Edward Mason, 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 10 April 1917.  He is buried in Cojeul British Cemetery, St. Martin-sur-Cojeul, France [1] and commemorated on the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages and West Auckland War Memorial.

Family Details

Edward’s birth name was Edwin Gilling Mason and he was born 8 August 1897 to Septimus and Sarah Mason.  [2] There were at least 8 children, all born at St. Helens:[3]

  • Abraham bc.1881
  • Louisa bc.1887
  • Annie bc.1889
  • Mary bc.1892
  • Ettie bc.1896
  • Edwin 8 August 1897
  • Gypsy bc.1899
  • Mary Ann bc 1903

In 1901, Septimus worked as a coal miner [hewer] and the family lived in the Square, St. Helens.[4]  In 1911, Septimus still worked as a coal miner [shiftman] and their address was recorded as Leases Street, St. Helens Square. [5]

Service Record

The service record of 45631 Private E. Mason and the war diary of the 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry have not been researched.  Private Mason was initially allocated the regimental number 3212. [6]

The 15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (15/DLI) was a New Army battalion formed at Newcastle in September 1914 as part of K3 and came under orders of the 64th Brigade in the 21st Division.  It landed in Boulogne, France 11 September 1915. [7]  During 1917, the 64th Brigade consisted of:

  • 9th Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI)
  • 10th Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 14th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry (DLI)
  • 15th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry (DLI)
  • 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment
  • 64th Machine Gun Company
  • 64th Trench Mortar Battery [8]

The 21st Division saw action at the Battle of Loos in September 1915 but it appears that Private E. Mason was not in service at that time since he was not awarded the 1914-15 Star which means that he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915.

The Division took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916:

  • 1 – 13 July: the Battle of Albert
  • 14 – 17 July: the Battle of Bazentin Ridge
  • 15 – 22 September: the Battle of Flers-Courcelette
  • 25 – 28 September: the Battle of Morval in which the Division captured Geudecourt
  • 1 – 18 October: the Battle of Le Transloy [9]

Then in 1917, the Division was involved in:

  • 14 March – 5 April: the German Retreat to the Hindenburgh Line
  • 9 – 14 April: the First Battle of the Scarpe
  • 23 – 24 April: the Second Battle of the Scarpe which were the first 2 of 3 phases of the Arras Offensive. [10]

Private E. Mason was killed inaction 10 April 1917 thus it is assumed that he took part in the Arras Offensive.

1 April: 15/DLI moved up to the front from Hendecourt

3 April: in position between Croisilles and Henin-sur-Cojeul

6 April: assembly in trenches commenced

8 April: all was ready, East Yorks to their right and the 9/KOYLI on the left

9 April: the offensive opened in the early morning but the 15/DLI did not attack until about 4 pm.  C Company on the right and D Company on the left led the advance.  1000 yards away was a double belt of wire in front of the German line.  The enemy put up a “feeble barrage” which did not cause many casualties.  B and A Companies followed but waited in a sunken road for the red flares to be fired signalling that the first German trench had been taken.  C Company made progress but D Company was subject to machine gun fire on their left which prevented their advance.  A bombing attack failed to dislodge the machine guns.  B and C Companies were caught by a heavy barrage.

10 April: at 5.00am fierce fighting between bombing parties commenced, attack and counter-attack led to the battalion giving up a trench they had won.  Preparations were being made for another advance when the brigade cancelled further operations and directed the 15/DLI to withdraw to the second line of assembly trenches.

Losses in the ranks amounted to 241.[11]  Later research records that the 15/DLI lost 1 officer and 73 other ranks between 9 and 11 April 1917. [12]


45631 Private Edward Mason is buried at grave reference A.33, Cojeul British Cemetery, St. Martin-sur-Cojeul. [13]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Selected Births & Christenings 1538-1975

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Medal Roll index card





[11] “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18” Captain Wilfred Miles 1920 p.134 – 137

[12] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War.

[13] Commonwealth War Graves Commission


MASON E. Headstone


64th Infantry Brigade Memorial Cross

64th Infantry Brigade
Memorial Cross

64th Infantry Brigade Memorial Plaque

64th Infantry Brigade
Memorial Plaque

2 thoughts on “Mason E

  1. Pingback: ST.HELEN’S | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

  2. Pingback: WEST AUCKLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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