NARY Rupert 1895 – 1915

RUPERT NARY 1895 – 1915

24493 Private Rupert Nary, 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 22 December 1915, aged 20.  He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial [1] and the Witton Park war memorials.

Family Details

Rupert Nary was born about 1895[2] at Witton Park, the son of Michael and Emma Nary.  There were at least 11 children, all born at Witton Park:[3]

  • Edith bc.1879
  • Lizzie Ann bc.1881
  • Lewis bc.1887
  • Mabel bc.1890
  • Emma bc.1891
  • Lena bc.1893
  • Rupert bc.1895
  • Ernest bc.1896
  • Alice bc.1899
  • Lilian bc.1899
  • Helena bc.1900

In 1901, the family lived at Pit House, Witton Park and 49 years old Michael worked as a coal miner (hewer).[4]  In 1911, Michael may have been out of work, both 16 years old Rupert and 15 years old Ernest worked as coal miners (drivers), 22 years old Mabel and 20 years old Emma were employed as domestic servants.  The family still lived at Pit Houses.[5] At some time later, the family moved to John Street, Witton Park.[6]

Military Details [7]

The service details of Rupert Nary have not been researched.  He enlisted at Barnard Castle and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry (2/DLI), being given the service number 24493.[8]  2/DLI was a Regular Army battalion which landed at St. Nazaire, France, 10 September 1914.  It came under the orders of the 18th Brigade, 6th Division.  The 18th Brigade consisted of the following units:

  • 1st Bn., the West Yorkshire Regiment throughout the war
  • 2nd Bn., the Durham Light Infantry throughout the war
  • 2nd Bn., Sherwood Foresters left 27 October 1915 
  • 11th Bn., the Essex Regiment from 27 October 1915
  • 1st Bn., the East Yorkshire Regiment left 26 November 1915
  • 14th Bn., the DLI- from 28 November 1915, disbanded 1 February 1918    
  • 1/16th Bn., London Regiment 12 November 1914 to 9 February 1916
  • 18th Brigade Machine Gun Company formed February 1916 left 1 March 1918 to 6th MG Battalion
  • 18th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 April 1916

The 6th Division landed in France to re-inforce the hard pressed British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and moved into Flanders to spend the war on the Western Front.  The 18th Brigade took part, 20 September 1914, at actions on the Aisne Heights and the Division was heavily involved in a major engagement, 9 August 1915, at Hooge, east of Ypres.  Between 5 and 9 August, casualties suffered during this engagement were reported to be 498:

  • Killed: 7 officers and 56 other ranks,
  • Wounded: 8 officers and 327 other ranks,
  • Missing: 100 other ranks missing. 

Between 11 and 25 August, reinforcements numbered 1 officer and 309 other ranks   Given that Private R. Nary entered France 25 August 1915,[9] he was a part of a draft of reinforcements to replace those Durham men lost at Hooge.  It is most probable that he was a Kitchener volunteer.  The War Diary for 2/DLI includes the following reports.[10]

Between 25 and 31 August, 2/DLI were in the line in the Ypres area, now known as the Ypres Salient, at Canal Bank, Brielen and a farm nearby.  The battalion was then moved to reserve trenches with its HQ at Canal Bank.  During the month of September, the battalion was in and out of the front line and billets at Poperinghe, Ypres and Potijze.  Between 21 and 27 September, casualties amongst the ranks numbered 62, 14 ORs killed and 48 wounded. 

During its first full year, 2/DLI had received a total of 2368 reinforcements (68 officers and 2300 other ranks).  Casualties numbered 1608, 53 officers and 1555 other ranks:

  • Killed: 22 officers and 308 ORs,
  • Wounded: 30 officers and 1021 ORs,
  • Missing: 1 officer and 226 ORs.

The months of October, November and December saw the battalion posted to trenches near Wieltje, Potijze, Yser Canal Bank, Crump Farm and billeted at Popringhe and north of Houtkerque.  Rain, mud and shelling added to the general ambiance of their occupation of the Ypres Salient.   A gas attack and shelling on 18/19 December resulted in 1 officer and 8 ORs killed, 3 officers and 21ORs wounded and 9 ORs suffering from gas wounds.  Private R. Nary was killed in action 22 December but the battalion War Diary reports no specific incident or casualties for that day.  The next entry for casualties was 28 December when the Battalion HQ was shelled when 6 men were killed, 1 officer and 11 men were wounded.  Casualties for the month were:

  • Killed: 1 officer and 15 ORs, and 1 officer died of wounds,
  • Wounded: 3 officers and 61 ORs.    

Later research records that between 25 August and 31 December 1915, the period during which Private R. Nary served, 2/DLI lost 2 officers and 71 other ranks, killed in action or died of wounds.[11]  Private R. Nary may well have been afforded a battlefield burial but he has no known grave.  The usual violence of warfare, most likely shelling took his life and probably, his last resting place.

Awards and Medals

Rupert Nary was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory and British War medals.[12]

Medal Roll Card Index


Rupert Nary’s father, Michael received his effects[13] and his sister Lena, his pension.[14]


Private R. Nary has no known grave and is commemorated at panel 36, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ypres, (Ieper), Belgium. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin and Courtrai (Menen to Kortrijk in Flemish).  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 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.[15]  

The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial


Rupert Nary was born and bred in Witton Park, the son of Michael and Emma, brother to at least 10 siblings.  He worked as a coal miner.  He enlisted at Barnard Castle, joining the 2nd Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry and entered France in August 1915.  Within four months, he was killed in action at the age of twenty. He has no known grave.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.219 Auckland Q1

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Various sources including and

[8] SDGW

[9] Medal Roll card index

[10] The War Diary for 2nd Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry, 1 August – 31 December 1915

[11] Officers and Soldiers Died in the Great War

[12] Medal Roll card index and rolls dated 19 October 1919 and 23 April 1920

[13] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901 – 1929 Record No.252195

[14] Pension Claimant card index

[15] Commonwealth War Graves Commission