54506 Rifleman Matthew Thomas Raine, 1/7th battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment was killed in action 9 October 1917 and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Flanders, Belgium.[1]   He was 32 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood.

 Family Details:

 Mathew Thomas was born 1885[2] at Eggleston to George and Elizabeth Raine.  There were at least 3 children:

  • John bc.1884
  • Mathew Thomas born 1885
  • Herbert bc.1886

In 1891 the Raine family lived in the Parish of Eggleston at Hill Top, to the west of Woodland and 36 year old George worked as a general labourer.  [3]  To date, the family has not been traced for the year 1901.  Mathew married Jane Ann Forster in 1911.[4]  By 1911, Mathew and Jane were boarders with William Forster, 4 Barracks, Byers Green near Spennymoor.  26 year old Mathew worked as a cartman (coal) at a colliery.[5]  Sometime later, they lived at 5 Brasses Houses near Lands which is within the Parish of Evenwood and Barony. [6]

Military Details:

Mathew Thomas Raine enlisted at Darlington and joined the 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own) and was given the regimental number 54505.[7]

The 1/7th (Leeds Rifles) Battalion was formed in August 1914 as part of the West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division.  15 April 1915, the Division landed at Boulogne, France and 15 May 1915 it became part of the 146th Brigade, 49th Division.[8] The 146th Brigade consisted of the following units:

  • 1/5th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
  • 1/6th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
  • 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914
  • 1/8th Battalion, the West Yorkshires joined August 1914 left January 1918
  • 146th Machine Gun Company formed 27 January 1916 left 1 March 1918
  • 146th Trench Mortar Battery formed 12 June 1916.

The Division was a formation created by the establishment of the Territorial Force in 1908.  It moved to France 12 to 19 April 1915 and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war being involved in the 1916 Allied Offensive on the Somme, particularly:

  • First phase, the Battle of Albert
  • Second phase, the Battle of Bazentin
  • Third phase, the Battle of Pozieres
  • Sixth phase, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette

The Division was involved in the 1917 action the Third Battle of Ypres, 31 July to 10 November 1917, more commonly known as Passchendaele. [9]

The service details of Rifleman M. T. Raine have not been researched but he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915. [10]

The Third Battle of Ypres: (Passchendaele): 31 July – 10 November 1917 [11]

The offensive had 8 distinctive phases:

  • Battle of Pilckem, 31 July to 2 August
  • Battle of Langemarck, 16 to 18 August
  • Battle of the Menin Road, 20 to 25 September
  • Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
  • Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October
  • Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October
  • First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October
  • Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October to 10 November

Many Divisions visited the Ypres Salient during the Third Battle of Ypres and on more than one occasion.  A total of 54 Divisions were thrown into battle.

The offensive cost the British nearly 310,000 casualties, the Germans slightly less and it consumed all of the available reserves.  On the 6th November, the village of Passchendaele was entered and the whole campaign ended a few days later when more of the ridge was taken.  It achieved none of its objectives although the Germans could no longer look down on the Ypres Salient which had been deepened by about 5 miles and they had been prevented from attacking the French when its army was in disarray following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive.  From the outset, it was obvious to the German Fourth Army that a new attack was being prepared and the previous year they had begun to strengthen their defences.

18 July 1917:  a massive artillery bombardment commenced.

31 July:  The British Fifth Army attacked north-east from the Ypres salient.  Initially, good progress was made but a strong counter-attack resulted in only a 2 mile advance.  Heavy rain fell on the first night flooding the swampy ground whose drainage system had been totally destroyed by the 10 day bombardment.  As a result the whole operation was held up.

 The Battle of Poelcapelle 9 October 1917 [12]

The 49th Division was not involved in any action until the 9th October.  It formed part of the Second Army and was allied to the 2nd ANZAC Corps along with the 66th Division.

The British front was described as follows:

“a disjointed line of shell-craters and shallow ditches…thousands of shell-holes, many of which overlapped each other, were at least partly full of water and many the smaller ones were already overflowing.  The canals, the “bekes”, the intricate system of drainage ditches torn by months of shelling were everywhere spreading their waters horizontally throughout the low-lying and level plains, for the molasses-like top-soil could neither absorb it nor allow water to sink through.”

The attack was scheduled for 5.20 on the 9th October.  General Plumer’s Second Army, the II Anzac Corps, comprising the 49th and 66th Divisions would lead the attack and advance along two parallel spurs towards the flattened village of Passchendaele.  Two brigades from each division were selected for this action.

The offensive  was of the established tradition on the Western Front – a massive artillery bombardment in theory would stun and disorganise the enemy front line troops, knock out his machine-guns, cut wire entanglements, neutralise his opposing batteries then the infantry would advance behind a creeping barrage and occupy the ground.  Tanks would not be used – they would not be able to cross the gluey battlefield.  There was no military innovation. The front was 8 miles in width and it was planned to take the advance 4 miles.  About 31,000 British and 6,000 French would participate.  The German Fourth Army lay in wait, 100 yards away in some places such as the flattened village of Poelcapelle held jointly by both sides and fully a mile away elsewhere.

The following account will concentrate only on the action of the 49th Division.  It commenced its march from its assembly areas east of Ypres at about 7pm in order to arrive at the jumping-off positions by midnight.

“Nine thousand drenched troops began their march at dusk in full battle order – water bottle on the right hip, haversack moved rearward, an extra 50 cartridge bandolier over the right shoulder and under the left arm and a Mills bomb in each side pocket.

Grave difficulties were immediately encountered.  The engineers had not been able it improve the infantry’s sorry duckboard tracks beyond marking them with tapes and lamps (it had been deemed more essential to make roads for the heavy guns) and by nightfall conditions were such that the men could barely walk.  The boards were now coated with slime or submerged or shattered every few yards.  The heavy laden troopers (60lb. of clothing, equipment and weapons were carried per man) kept slipping and colliding.  Many toppled into shell-craters and had to be hauled out by comrades extending their rifle butts.  And falling into even a shallow hole was often revolting for the water was foul with decaying equipment, excrement and perhaps something dead or its surface might be covered with old sour mustard gas.  It was not uncommon for a man to vomit when being extricated from something like this…   Throughout that wretched evening the wind slapped the rain against the numbed faces and hands of the wading troops.  By midnight, 5 hours later, only a little more than a mile had been covered.  Everyone could now see that it would be touch-and-go whether the 5.20 attack would be mounted on time.”

The 49th (1st West Riding) Division encountered such problems and just made it on time.

“…the men…could hardly be recognised as civilised creatures.  From head to foot they were daubed with slime.  Their faces were clay-white like those of corpses…like men who had been buried alive and dug up again.”

 The Germans shelled the roads with their heavier guns causing hundreds of casualties.  By one way or another, the Allied troops had splashed their way to their assigned positions.  Bayonets fixed awaiting Zero-Hour.  The rain continued.  German eyes surveyed the wasteland and the enemy front from thousands of fortified pill-boxes and observation posts virtually undamaged by the bombardment and protected by 2 belts of dense wire entanglements had not been broken up.

“As the British walked forward, the classic drama of the Western Front was again enacted…the rain perversely stopped and I perfect visibility German machine gunners began to play upon the advancing waves of men, their bullets lashing and spurting from the pill-boxes and from behind parapets…the British …moved from crater to crater but even in the craters they were not safe, for the German gunners streamed bullets against the edges of the holes and wounded many men lying near the rims.”   

The attempted advance of the 49th Division was hampered by one mishap after another, for instance:

  • the Ravebeke, a little canal shown on the maps to be only 5ft. wide that day spread to 150ft. with water waist deep in the centre and one of the 2 brigades (presumably the 148th) did not cross it.  The 146th Brigade crossed further north and advanced several hundred yards to be hit by shrapnel and heavy machine-gun fire from pill-boxes on the higher ground.
  • Messenger pigeons released to communicate with HQ were so terrified by the din of the German barrage that they refused to leave their bearers.

By 10am, the German 16th Rhineland Division was “master of the field”.

The 49th Division suffered 2,585 casualties and had not advanced at all.  The 66th Division had lost 3,119 men, and gained 500yards of No-Man’s-Land but had not even dented the main German positions on top of the ridge.  The 2nd Australians suffered 1,253 casualties and had not advanced their line.

The 1/7 West Yorks. War Diary records events as follows:[13]


War Diary


1/7 Bn West Yorks Regt.


1st to 31st October 1917


VLAMERTINGHE – 8 October – 7.30am – Battalion marched to BRYKE, N. of YPRES (Map HAZEBROUCK 5A) where it rested.

BRYKE – 8 – 5pm – Battalion assembled and proceeded by No.6 Track to assembly position for attack

CALGARY GRANGE – 9 – 3am – Battalion formed up in Assembly Positions NE of CALGARY GRANGE

CALGARY GRANGE – 9 – 5.20am – Attack commenced – narrative attached.

 Narrative of Recent Operations:

 The battalion assembled at LA BRIQUE at 9 a.m. on October 8th and at 5 p.m. started to move up no. 6 track to the assembly position. The night was very dark and rain commenced to fall shortly before 5 p.m. and continued during the night, making the march to CALGARY GRANGE very difficult, many parts of the track being almost impossible to follow; shortly after leaving the ST. JULIEN road it was found that all the track grids had been removed for a considerable distance.

The head of the battalion reached CALGARY GRANGE about midnight and the whole battalion was in position by 3 a.m. on October 9th; the men were all very tired. There was certain amount of shelling on the way up but no casualties occurred until the battalion reached the assembly position.

The barrage opened at 5.20 a.m.; the troops were all ready and advanced at once; owing however to the broken ground, which was very wet and soft, and the water in the STROOMBEEK, the troops did not keep up to the barrage at first, but I think they got up to it again before reaching the first objective.

The companies at first kept rather too much to the right in the direction of PETER PAN but they afterwards changed direction and passed YETTA HOUSES at about the proper distance. Bat. H.Q. moved forward behind the companies and took up position in shell

holes near CALGARY GRANGE.

No news was received from companies until Lt. Baldwin M.C., O.C. Left Coy. for second objective, came back wounded about 7 a.m. and said that his company was held up by machine gun fire and snipers fire from the left as soon as they moved forward through the 1st objective companies; he told me that he had given orders that 2 platoons should move along to deal with this M.G. but they apparently failed to silence this gun.

As I got no reports whatever from the companies I went up to the front line myself near YETTA HOUSES and found that 3 companies were consolidating there with their left about 100x from YETTA HOUSES. The men were too crowded and I gave orders that the men of one company were to be collected and taken to some trenches further in rear. The other company (the right coy; for the 1st objective) was nearer PETER PAN where it was in touch with the 1/5th Bn. W. York. Rgt.

Two officers were left on duty with my right company, but in the other 3 coys. all the officers and the greater part of the senior  N.C.O’s had become casualties this made it difficult to obtain really reliable information. Enemy M.Guns and snipers in carefully concealed positions were very active; they continued to fire through the barrage and were able to prevent our advance to the second objective owing to the accuracy of their fire and the difficulty of locating their exact positions. A number of the enemy were killed by our rifle and Lewis Gun fire and an enemy machine gun firing from the parapet of a trench on the right, and enfilading troops advancing on the left, was rushed by one man singlehanded, whereupon the team ran away; as the man found that he could not work the gun he disabled it.

During the morning of October 9th Capt. MANDER with 2 Coys. of the 1/4th W.Riding Rgt. reported to me and at 2 p.m. I sent one of these companies to YETTA HOUSES to fill the gap between the left of my line and the right of the 1/8th W. York. Rgt.

Small counter attacks were attempted by the enemy about 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. but these came to nothing. At 10.30 p.m. on Oct. 9th. I received instructions that a company of the 1/6th Bn. W. Riding Rgt. would mop up the area between my line and the most advanced posts.

Lt. Col. BATEMAN of the 1/6th W. Riding Rgt. made his H.Q. at CALGARY GRANGE.

(NB During the morning of Oct. 9th I moved my battn. H.Q. back to CALGARY GRANGE as the shell hole position was too indefinite for gunners to find).

Early in the morning of Oct.10th, the O.C. the 1/6th W.Riding Rgt. mopping–up coy; reported that his company had covered all the ground up to the post held by my right coy, where LT. MOORE informed him that he was in the most advanced position of the Battn; he therefore carried out his instructions.

During the night of the 9th/10th Oct, I sent first my Intelligence Officer and afterward my Rgt. Sgt. Major to ascertain the position in the front line both were wounded, however and I had no one else to send at the time.

At 6 a.m. on Oct. 10th I sent my Signalling Officer up to the front line; he reported that all was quiet and in order.

The first companies of the relieving Battn. of the New Zealand Rifles came up about 9 p.m. and relief was complete about midnight.

Enemy shelling was heavy throughout the day of October 10th and during the relief; and the New Zealand Rifles suffered a good many casualties.

 C.H. Tetley, Lt.Col., Comdg.1/7 Bn.W.Yorks. Rgt. (T.F.), 13/10/17

 CALGARY GRANGE –10 – 10.0pm – Relief of Battalion by the 4th Battn. 3rd New Zealand Rifle Bde. commenced.

CALGARY GRANGE –11 – 3.0am – Relief completed

WIELTJE  6.0am – Battalion bivouacked in old British front line S. of WIELTJE

 Rifleman Mathew Thomas Raine was killed in action 9 October 1917.  He has no known grave.  Rifleman M.T. Raine was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[14]

The War Diary carries no details of casualties.  Later research records that 1/7 West Yorks lost 7 officers and 97 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds, 9 October 1917. [15]

 The Australian War Memorial, Australian Military Units reports as follows: [16]

“Like earlier battles in the Ypres offensive, the aim of the Poelcappelle attack was to secure a series of objectives in turn, protected by a heavy artillery barrage, the troops involved would be drawn from the 49th and 66th British and 2nd Australian Divisions.  Rain however had begun to deluge an already poorly drained battlefield and adequate numbers of guns were unable to be brought within range.  The infantry’s advance also wallowed in the mud.  The Australians were able to secure some of their objectives for a short time but with little artillery support and both flanks open, they were forced to withdraw.  The 2nd Australian Division sustained 1,250 casualties in the battle.”

 General Haig’s Diary contains the following entry:

“Tuesday 9 October, A general attack was launched at 5.30 am today from a point SE of Broodseinde on the right to St. Janshoek on the left (1 mile NE of Bixschoote).  The results were very successful.”

The London Times reported on the joint British-French offensive as follows;


 Conditions of extraordinary difficulty and discouragement…seem to have made no difference.  The blow has been struck as surely and with results as decisive, as any of the former blows…The story is the same story I had to tell so many times, the story of an attack pushed with perfect determination and gallantry to final and complete success.  The Germans on the whole fought badly.” 


 The Tyne Cot Memorial

Rifleman M. T. Raine is commemorated at Panel 42 to 47 on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Tyne Cot Cemetery.  It is located 9 kilometres north east of Ypres, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.  The Memorial to the Missing if one of 4 memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient which stretched from Langermarck in the north to Ploegsteert Wood in the south.  The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing forms the north-eastern boundary of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are unknown.  The memorial was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and was unveiled in July 1927. (14)

 Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division

 Behind Essex Farm CWGC cemetery on the western bank of the Yser Canal, just to the north of Ieper is the Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division inaugurated in 1924.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.243 Teesdale 1885 Q3

[3] 1891 census

[4] England & Wales  Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.229 Auckland 1911 Q1

[5] 1911 census

[6] CWGC

[7] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[8] www.1914-1918.net/westyorks.htm

[9] www.1914-1918.net/49div.htm

[10] Medal Roll

[11] Various sources including www.ypressalient.co.uk/3rd%20Ypres%20of%20Battle.htm &

web.westernfrontassociation.com/thegreatwar/articles/timeline/ypres3.htm &

www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm & www.1914-1918.net/11div.htm

[12] “In Flanders Fields” 1959 Leon Wolff

[13] 1/7 West Yorks. War Diary

[14] Medal Roll

[15] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[16] www.awm.gov.au/units/event_123.asp


RAINE M.T.  Medal Roll

Medal Roll

RAINE M.T. Inscription Tyne Cot Memorial

Tyne Cot Memorial