THE 6th BATTALION, THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY: A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF FALLEN OFFICERS AND MEN DURING THE GREAT WAR

THE 6th BATTALION, THE DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY: A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF FALLEN OFFICERS AND MEN DURING THE GREAT WAR

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

This work will look at the 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry and its role in the Great War, 1914 – 1918.[1]  The purpose has been to find out how many men from the Bishop Auckland area were killed in the Great War and secondly to find out whether the composition of the battalion changed during the course of the war.

The nominal roll has not been consulted.  Rather, a sample of those who died, taken from Officers Died in the Great War and Soldiers Died in the Great War, has been used.  Captain Ainsworth’s book contains some additional names of officers who died and these have been included in this work.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records have been examined to confirm details.[2]  Local war memorials and rolls of honour have been examined.[3]

For the purpose of this work, those men living in the Bishop Auckland recruiting area is defined as being the urban area of the town, South Church and Cockton Hill and surrounding villages such as St. Helens, West Auckland, Coundon Grange, Coundon, Leeholme, Auckland Park, Eldon, Eldon Lane, Close House, Witton Park and Escomb.  I have included the Gaunless Valley villages of Evenwood, Cockfield and Butterknowle.[4]  Historically, these villages used Bishop Auckland on their postal addresses.  Some people may have used Darlington or Barnard Castle but as far as I’m aware Bishop Auckland was the prime town for this purpose.[5]  For the avoidance of doubt, the men from Shildon and other recruiting areas at Crook, Stanhope, Spennymoor, Consett and Barnard Castle have not been researched.  With regard to the officers, due to the smaller numbers and availability of information, I have included those from a wider field i.e. men from Weardale and Consett areas.

In identifying a soldier’s residence, census and military details (using Ancestry and Forces War Records), pension details (Fold 3) and information recorded in ODGW and SDGW have been consulted.  Where there are examples of a soldier’s widow remarrying and moving to another town/village but the original family home was in the Bishop Auckland area, I have included details of such a soldier. 

In order to put these deaths into context, the major actions and engagements in which 1/6DLI took part, have been examined to ascertain the number of fatalities of men local to the Bishop Auckland area. 

Having compared the names, residences and dates of deaths, it has been concluded that the make-up of the battalion changed from the beginning of the war from local men who joined their local territorial force, to the end of the war – it being a battalion comprised largely of conscripted men, raised from all areas of the UK. 

A number of individual profiles of officers and men have been provided, including some men who returned.  A remarkable soldier with associations to Barnard Castle has been included, namely Company Sergeant Major P. Finn DCM, MM & Bar. His story is too important to exclude.

This contribution is not meant to be a final work.  It is merely a start in recognising the sacrifice of many.  Others with details and stories to tell, are encouraged to contribute.  Any details which can offer more information or correct any errors will be gratefully received.  A serious omission in research is that I have not visited the County Record Office at Durham or the DLI storage building at Seven Hills, Spennymoor due to lack of time and other commitments.

I have presented this work to Geraldine Hart, a representative of the People’s Museum, Bishop Auckland.

Acknowledgements – I thank Bob Dixon for his contributions and friends, many of whom are no longer with us, (too numerous to mention) who have allowed me to copy their family photographs and possessions.  I would also like to pay tribute to the work of the late Harry Moses. Harry encouraged me to undertake research, was generous with his time and he was keen to share his knowledge.

Kevin Richardson, Evenwood, 6 August 2022

CONTENTS

The British Army prior to the War

The Territorial Force

The 50th Division: a summary

1/6DLI Officers

NCOs and Other Ranks

2/6DLI

APPENDICES (Not included here)

1: Conditions of Service

2: Army Form E.624 Agreement

3: Brief details of 6/DLI & 50th Division

4: The Army List November 1914 for 6/DLI

TABLES (Not included here)

1: Annual Total Deaths of 1/6DLI Officers and Other Ranks

2: The Fallen Officers who served with, or were attached to, 1/6DLI

3: Sub Areas: Annual Deaths of 1/6DLI Other Ranks

—————————————————————————————————————-

THE BRITISH ARMY PRIOR TO THE WAR

In August 1914, the British Army comprised of the following – Britain’s Regular Army numbered 247,432, the Army Reserve of ex-soldiers was 145,347, the Special Reserve whose members had the benefit of 6 months training, contributed a further 63,933 and the Territorial Force had 268,777 officers and men (with a theoretical strength of 316,094).  The Channel Islands Militia, the Bermuda and Isle of Man Volunteers also contributed a small force to provide a combined force of about 733,514 officers and men.  This total was tiny in comparison with the standing peacetime armies of Germany and France, which consisted of about 700,000 men which increased to 3.8 million on mobilisation.[6]

Recruiting Areas for Regiments in Northern England

THE TERRITORIAL FORCE 

Under the Army reforms of 1908,[7] the Volunteer Forces originally instituted in 1887, were dissolved 31 March 1908.  The Territorial Force (TF) was inaugurated the following day when it was organised into regional Divisions, area Brigades and local Battalions. It was intended for them to serve at home only, to defend the country in the absence of a standing army which may be required to fight abroad.[8]    At the outset, it was hoped that the new TF would attract about 900,000 men but in reality, it never numbered more than 270,000 in peacetime.  However, as the war progressed, it did expand hugely and became one of the mainstays of Haig’s army on the Western Front. [9]

1908: Haldane Reforms Durham volunteers mourning the passing of the old regime (photo courtesy of Alan Stoker, from the Tom Rowlandson collection)

1 April 1908, the 5 Durham Volunteer Battalions were reorganised on the lines of the regular army, in brigades and divisions with staffs of regular officers, complete with all their ancillary services.  Under the new scheme, the counties of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire supplied 2 divisions, the Northumbrian and West Riding Divisions.  All the Durham Territorial Battalions were assigned to the Northumbrian Division.  A Division was in effect a self-contained army of approximately 18,000 men including infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineer, medical, supply and signal units. The Northumbrian Division was typical, consisting of three infantry brigades, the Northumberland, the York and Durham and the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Brigades. Each brigade was composed of four infantry battalions.  The new Durham battalion designations were:

  • The 1/VB became 5th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Stockton.
  • The 2/VB became the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Bishop Auckland.  Bishop Auckland provided 2 companies, Spennymoor 1, Crook 1, Stanhope 1, Barnard Castle 1 and Consett 2.
  • The 3/VB became 7th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Sunderland.
  • The 4/VB became 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Durham.
  • The 5/VB became 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry with HQ at Gateshead.

They were brigaded in the Northumbrian Division in the following manner:

  • Northumberland Brigade: 4th 5th 6th & 7th Battalions, the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • York & Durham Brigade: 4th Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment, 4th & 5th Battalions, the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) and the 5th Battalion, DLI
  • Durham Brigade: 6th 7th 8th & 9th Battalions, DLI

Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell was appointed to command the Division and he held command from April 1908 to 1910. 

The new Territorial Force was only 6 years old when the Great War commenced.  Its nucleus was the old County Volunteers augmented by young civilians who enjoyed military training on an evening or at the weekend and a free holiday, once a year, under canvas at the annual camp.  The men of this new Territorial Army were called, “The Saturday Afternoon Soldiers”.  Regular training took place at the local drill halls, the barrack square or local park.  The following description provides an indication of training:[10]

“There were drills and lectures all day long to keep the men busy and bring the battalion up to scratch for active service. {They} pounded the barrack square, drilling by platoons, by companies and eventually joining up with sister battalions to drill and manoeuvre as a brigade.  There were extra sessions, mostly early in the morning, for specialist sections, the signallers, the machine-gunners, the scouts – even the band was detailed for stretcher-bearing practice from 6 to 7.30 every morning except Sundays.  It was hardest of all on the officers who not only had to supervise the training of the men but had to be trained themselves in the finer arts of war.  Officers’ lectures were held literally at the crack of dawn in the two hours before the battalion day officially began with breakfast at 8 and first parade at 8.30.  There were more lectures for the officers at 5.30pm while the men were enjoying tea at the end of an arduous day, and later, after dinner in the mess, the officers were obliged to write up notes and clarify their own thoughts on such matters as, “Esprit de Corps”, “March Discipline”, “Personal Hygiene”, “The Origins of War” and “Malta” so that they in turn could deliver lectures on these topics to their men.”  

Members of the 6/DLI Territorial Force attended annual training camps: [11]

  • 1909: Witton-le-Wear and Blackhall Rocks, County Durham
  • 1910: Witton-le-Wear and Rothbury, Northumberland
  • 1911: Bisley, Surrey
  • 1912 and 1913: Scarborough, North Yorkshire
  • 1914: Conway, North Wales

The Commanding Officer was ultimately responsible for the training programme and discipline of his men.  Obeying the rules imposed on them by the Army, under the King’s Regulations, may have been the most difficult task.  The day to day running of infantry platoons was, more often than not, left entirely in the hands of the Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) i.e. the Company Sergeant Majors and the sergeants.[12]  Usually, the NCOs would have been those men who already held some status in their working lives for example the coal miners, underground and surface workmen, would provide the ordinary soldiers (other ranks) and the pit deputies and overmen, the NCOs.

1909: Probably at camp at Witton-le-Wear, 6/DLI Band & Bugles (Alan Stoker)

1909: The Boxing Match (Alan Stoker)

1910: Witton-le-Wear (Alan Stoker)

1911: Territorials having fun at the expense of the battalion’s cook (Alan Stoker)

1913: Possibly Scarborough Camp, 6/DLI on parade

1914: 6/DLI was at Conway Camp, north Wales

With regard to officers, the Regular Army picked the cream of all applicants and the entrance examination was reputedly difficult.  The training regime at Sandhurst and Woolwich was arduous and promotion usually was earned slowly.  There was a high standard of professionalism in the Regulars.[13]  The task of finding suitable men to fill the role of officers was inevitably left to the Commanding Officer and his trusted long term associations.  Retired Colonels and Majors, no doubt, volunteered to give advice and instruction to the Territorials.  Men of “higher standing” such as members of the legal profession, banking, insurance, the vicar’s son, the local colliery manager, quarry manager etc. would be suitable candidates.  Often, they were family friends, acquaintances or relatives.  Those who attended public schools would have benefitted from their schools Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) and many cadets would have automatically been given commissions.  Initially, junior officers, temporarily commissioned, were as inexperienced as their men.  They would need to spent time with their platoons, up to 8 hours a day in training, they would also do the route marches, worked at signalling, map-reading, calculating distances, and the skills of soldiering in order to keep one step ahead of their men. 

“They took a personal pride in their platoons and it was every subaltern’s ambition to make his particular platoon the best in his battalion.”[14]  

Thousands of such young men were required to fill any vacancies in the Territorial Force and, from September 1915 onwards, to supply the Service Battalions of Kitchener’s New Army with junior officers.

The headline was inaccurate.  Britain declared war on Germany at 11.00pm Tuesday 4 August 1914 when Germany failed to respond to the British Government’s ultimatum. (The Northern Echo)

Following the outbreak of war, the subsequent German advance into Belgium and France, the retreat of Allied forces and the loss in great numbers of British army regulars, a national emergency was declared, 15 September 1914.  Members of the TF were called upon to volunteer for foreign service. (Appendix 1) Volunteers were required to sign an agreement to serve outside the UK in case of national emergency. (Appendix 2)  They would serve with their unit and not be drafted to any other unit.[15]   Such battalions were known as a “first line” battalion – 6th Bn., DLI became 1/6 DLI.[16]

Reserve battalions were required for former members who had resigned before the war and for those men unable to join due to medical or other reasons.  Consequently, “second line” battalions were formed, 2/6 DLI.  The intention was that, eventually, these battalions would be sent overseas but they found themselves providing drafts for the first line.[17]  A “third line” was formed, 3/6 DLI, for those officers and men who had suffered wounds but were still fit for home service.  These battalions trained drafts for the first line.[18]

Initially, there was an issue concerning under-age soldiers.  The minimum age for enlistment of the Territorials was 17, compared with that of 19 for Kitchener’s volunteer, citizen, New Armies.  Inevitably, the TF units would contain a significant number of youths.  In May 1915, this matter was addressed and the age range for TF service was altered from 17 to 35 to 19 to 38.[19]

In 1917, the decision was taken to re-number the TF service numbers.  This took effect from 1 March 1917.  DLI men serving with the 50th Division were renumbered as follows: [20]

  • 200,001 – 250,000: 5/DLI
  • 250,001 – 275,000: 6/DLI
  • 275,001 – 300,000: 7/DLI
  • 300,001 – 325,000: 8/DLI
  • 325,001 – 350,000: 9/DLI

THE 50th DIVISION: a summary

The Northumbrian Division moved to France from 16 April 1915, some units going to Havre and others to Boulogne.  The strength of the Division totalled 572 officers and 16,858 other ranks.  It concentrated in the vicinity of Steenvoorde, west of Ypres, Belgium. [21]  In May 1915, the Division was numbered as the 50th and the Brigades received the following numbers:[22]

  • 149th Northumberland Brigade
  • 150th York and Durham Brigade
  • 151st Durham Brigade

Initially, the Divisional troops consisted of:[23]

  • Cavalry (A Squadron Yorkshire Hussars),
  • Cyclists (50th Cyclist Company),
  • Royal Engineers (1st & 2nd Northumbrian Field Company numbered 446 & 447, 50th Divisional Signal Company),
  • Field Ambulances (1/1st, 1/2nd, 1.3rd Northumbrian),
  • Division Train (467, 468, 469, 470 Companies ASC),
  • 1/1st (Northern) Veterinary Section,
  • 50th Sanitary Section. 

Other units joined as the responsibilities and tasks developed as the war progress such as the 7/DLI left 151 Brigade to form the Pioneers 16 November 1915, the Brigade Machine Gun Companies (MGC) and Trench Mortar Batteries (TMB) were formed in February  and June 1916 (respectively) [24] and then 1 March 1918 the brigade MGCs left to join 50th Battalion MGC.[25]

6/DLI Buglers 1503 Bugler M. Casey is back row 2nd left.  Also believed to be pictured are 1504 Bugler W. Lax, 1507 Bugler G. Thwaites and 2239 Bugler F. Murray (Andrew Quinn)

Mobilization: believed to be August 1914, outside the Welcome pub at Cockfield.  Left to right believed to be Robert Wallace, Jonathan Linsley, Thomas Pinkney, George Cook, Cecil Sedgewick, Charles Hall, William Lamb and Jeremiah Lee. (Tom Robinson, former landlord of the Welcome PH)

Training: believed to be at Bensham, Gateshead and believed to be 2142 Private W.J. Polkinghorn from West Auckland front, far left (Susanne Tate)

The 50th Division served on the Western Front from 19/20 April 1915 to July 1918 when it was reorganized.  1/6 DLI’s first engagement was at Ypres 24 April 1915, later named the Second Battle of Ypres. 

1915: Detail from the diary of a territorial, 1801 Sergeant T. Rowlandson, No.4 Section, Northern Division Signals Company, Royal Engineers (Alan Stoker)

The battalion then saw action in the following major battles – the Battle of the Somme including actions at Flers-Courcelette, Morval, Le Transloy Ridges and the Butte de Warlencourt during September, October and November 1916; the Arras Offensive in April 1917; Passchendeale during late October and early November 1917 and in 1918, the first 3 phases of the German Spring Offensive during 21/27 March, 9/15 April and late May when the battalion was effectively annihilated.[26] As a result of the losses, the 50th Division was comprehensively reorganized and 1/6 DLI was reduced to cadre on 15 July 1918. (see Appendix 3) 

Between 16 August 1918 and 6 November 1918, 6/DLI came under the orders of 117th Brigade 39th Division[27] and between 6 May and 11 November 1918, 2/6DLI came under the orders of 177th Brigade, 59th Division.

Lives were lost throughout the period and not just in major battles.  The usual violence of warfare, shelling, gas, sniping and raiding accounted for many deaths during the tours of the front line when trench work and working parties in no-man’s land were the order of the day.  The following sections will examine officer deaths and losses in the ranks.

1/6DLI OFFICERS

In November 1914, the Honorary Colonel was Sir W. Eden Bt., the Commanding Officer was Lt.-Colonel H.C. Walton supported by Majors J.E. Hawdon and W. Wilkinson.  There were 8 Captains including 2 relatively recent appointments Spedding and Townend, July 1912 and August 1913 respectively and 8 Lieutenants including 3 appointments, Rayner, Walton and Cleminson, since July 1913.  There were 21 Second Lieutenants, all but 1 had joined since February 1913.  The adjutant was Captain J.W. Jeffreys and Quarter-Master H. Shearwood, both appointed since October 1913.  There were 2 Medical Officers, Major W.M Mackay RAMC and Captain A.C. Farquharson RAMC and 3 Chaplains namely Rev J.W.H. Barker, Rev F.T. Woods and Rev H. Shaddick.[28] (see Appendix 4)

In December 1914, the 8 company organisation of the territorial battalion was changed to 4 companies.  The Battalion’s Officers were: [29]

  • Commanding Officer: Lieutenant-Colonel H.C. Watson
  • 2nd in Command: Major J.E. Hawdon
  • Adjutant: Captain J.W. Jeffries
  • Medical Officers: Major W.E. Mackay
  • A Company: Captain A.P. Cummins
  • B Company: Major S.E. Badcock
  • C Company: Captain W.D.H. Devey
  • D Company: Captain J. Townend

The strength of the battalion disembarking at Boulogne, 19 April 1915, was about 31 officers and 1000 NCOs and men.[30]  During the course of the war, 1/6DL lost 54 officers and 830 Other Ranks (Appendix 5) and 2/6DLI 52 Other Ranks, no details are provided for officers.[31]

The Fallen Officers

There are 54 named officers serving with, or attached to, 1/6DLI who were killed in action or died of wounds.[32]  The annual totals were: [33]

  • 1915: 7
  • 1916: 13
  • 1917: 14
  • 1918: 20

Of the 54 officers, 28 men came from the North East including 9 from the traditional recruitment area, 9 were from Yorkshire, 3 from Scotland including 2 brothers from Edinburgh, 1 from Wales and 2 from overseas.  The remainder were from elsewhere in England.  43% of the officers who died in 1915 (3 of 7) lived in the traditional recruiting area, 8% in 1916 (1 from 13), 7% in 1917 (1 from 14) and 20% in 1918 (4 from 20).  There is no clear trend due to the small numbers. (Appendix 5)

With regard to their ranks, 30 officers were Second Lieutenants (55%); 12 were Lieutenants; 10 were Captains including 1 temporary Major, S.E. Badcock; 1 Major W.D. Carswell-Hunt and 1 Lieut.-Col., F.W. Robson. (Appendix 6)

The 9 officers from the local recruitment areas were:

  • Captain (temporary Major) S.E. Badcock from Bishop Auckland
  • Captain T.J. Monkhouse from Cowshill
  • 2/Lt. J.C. Miller from Wolsingham
  • 2/Lt. D.R. Peacock from Westgate
  • 2/Lt. H. Greener from Craghead
  • 2/Lt. A.R. Burn from Barnard Castle
  • Captain H. Walton from Bishop Auckland
  • Captain J.F.G. Aubin from Bishop Auckland
  • Captain G. Kirkhouse from Consett

Details of these 9 officers are provided below:

Major Stanley Edgar Badcock 1881 – 1915

(Courtesy of Ancestry family tree)

Major Stanley Edgar Badcock was killed in action 26 April 1915, aged 34.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium and the memorial plaque originally housed in St. Peter’s Church, now in St. Anne’s Church, Market Place, Bishop Auckland.  Stanley Badcock was born at Bishop Auckland, the son of Frederick and Fannie Badcock.  Frederick was a solicitor.  He and Stanley worked in partnership from offices at Silver Street, Bishop Auckland.  Stanley was a Captain and he entered France 19 April 1915 with his battalion.  He was promoted to temporary Major and saw action within 6 days of entering France at the Battle of St. Julien, part of the Second Battle of Ypres.  This was their first engagement, he was died of wounds and his grave was lost.  Stanley was a single man, leaving his parents, 3 brothers and 1 sister.

Captain Joseph Thompson Monkhouse 1886 – 1915

(Courtesy of Ancestry family tree & NEWMP)

Captain Joseph Thompson Monkhouse was killed in action 27 April 1915, aged 29.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium and local memorials at Cowshill, Stanhope and Oswestry, Shropshire.  Joseph was born in 1886 in the Parish of Stanhope to Octavius and Mary Monkhouse.  He married Bessie in 1911 and worked as the manager of Swinhope Quarry in Weardale and another near Oswestry.  Joseph had been a Lieutenant in the Territorial Force, since 1912.  He entered France 19 April 1915, was promoted to Captain and saw action within 6 days of entering France at the Battle of St. Julien, part of the Second Battle of Ypres.  This was their first engagement. he was killed in action and has no known grave.  He left a widow and 1 daughter.

Second Lieutenant John Charles Miller 1893 – 1915

(Courtesy of NEWMP & Wolsingham Grammar School)

Second Lieutenant John “Jack” Charles Miller was killed in action 27 July 1915, aged 22.  He is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France and commemorated on 3 War Memorials in his home town of Wolsingham.  He was born at Wolsingham, County Durham, the son of Thomas and Jane Miller.  Thomas was the general manager of Wolsingham Steel Works.  Jack entered France in May 1915 to join his local territorial battalion and within 10 weeks was killed in action, shot by a sniper.  He was a single man, leaving his parents and 4 siblings, one of whom, his younger brother, was to become Lieutenant Colonel H. Miller who commanded 6/DLI from 1934 to 1940.

Second Lieutenant David Ronald Peacock 1887 – 1916

(Courtesy of NEWMP)

Second Lieutenant David Ronald Peacock was killed in action 2 October 1916, aged 29.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, France, the Roll of Honour in Westgate Village Hall and the plaque in St. Andrew’s Church, Westgate, County Durham.  David was born 1887 at Darlington, the son of William and Margaret, then the vicar of St. Luke’s but between 1909 and 1917, he was the vicar of St. Andrew’s Westgate in Weardale.   David Peacock worked as a bank clerk.  In May 1915, he entered France and joined 1/6DLI in Belgium seeing action at the Ypres Salient before being posted to the Somme.  He was killed in action during a major attack during the Battle of Le Transloy when the village of Eaucourt l’Abbaye was captured and Lieut.-Col. R.B. Bradford, 9/DLI, was awarded the Victoria Cross.  Second Lieutenant David R. Peacock was a single man and left his parents and 4 siblings.

Second Lieutenant Henry Greener 1894 – 1917

(Courtesy of NEWMP)

Second Lieutenant Henry “Harry” Greener, was killed in action 14 April 1917, aged 23.  He is believed to be buried at Wancourt British Cemetery and he is commemorated on the Craghead War Memorial and 7 other local memorials.  Harry was born in 1894, the son of Henry and Annie Greener at Craghead.  He worked as a colliery surveyor.  He enlisted as an orderly in Lady Hadfield’s Hospital in Wimereux and served with St. John Ambulance Brigade, entering France in December 1914.  In August 1915, he was commissioned and appointed to 6/DLI as a Second Lieutenant.  He was posted to France in February 1917 and was killed in action during the Arras Offensive, the First Battle of the Scarpe, in the vicinity of Wancourt Tower.  Harry was a single man.  His brother Corporal J.W. Greener, 19th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers was wounded in April 1917 and died in March 1919.

Second Lieutenant Arthur Roland Burn 1896 – 1918

Courtesy of Barnard Castle School Book of Remembrance

Second Lieutenant Arthur Roland Burn was killed in action 26 March 1918, aged 21.  He has no known grave and is commemorated at Pozieres Memorial, France, the Barnard Castle War Memorial and several other local memorials.  Arthur Burn was born in 1896 at Barnard Castle the son of Thomas and Alice Burn.  He attended the North Eastern County School as a day boy and on leaving enlisted into the Royal Fusiliers.  He entered France in November 1915 and saw action on the Somme in 1916, the Arras Offensive and Passchendaele in 1917 before being discharged to commission with the Durham Light Infantry, initially with 14/DLI then he was attached to 1/6DLI.  He had only been with his unit for mere days when the German Spring Offensive of 1918 hit his position and he was killed in action.  He was a single man and only son.

Captain Henry Walton MC 1888 – 1918

(Courtesy of Ancestry family tree and NEWMP)

Captain Henry Walton was killed in action 27 March 1918, aged 30.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, France and the memorial plaque now housed in St. Anne’s Church, Market Place, Bishop Auckland formerly in St. Peter’s Church, Tenters Street (now closed).  He was born at Bishop Auckland in 1888, the son of Michael and Emma Walton.  He was a territorial soldier and entered France in April 1915.   He rose through the ranks and was promoted to Captain.  He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in April 1917 during the Arras offensive.  Captain H. Walton was killed during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.  He left a widow, Louisa and 1 child, Dora.

Captain Jehu F.G. Aubin, DSO, MC & Bar 1892 – 1918

Courtesy of Durham Record Office and Barnard Castle School

Captain Jehu F.G. Aubin, D.S.O., M.C. & Bar, was killed in action 9 April 1918, aged 25.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium, the war memorial in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s, South Church, Bishop Auckland and the Roll of Honour, Barnard Castle School, County Durham. He was the most decorated officer to serve with 1/6DLI during the Great War.  Jehu was born in 1892 at Norwich, the son of Jehu and Ann Aubin.  By 1900, the family lived at Bishop Auckland, Jehu senior being a “fancy goods” shopkeeper in Newgate Street.  Jehu junior attended the North Eastern County School, Barnard Castle between 1909 and 1910, then the Sandyford Academy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne before gaining employment at a chartered accountant’s firm in the city.  In September 1914, Jehu Aubin joined the 9th battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers and in January 1915, he was accepted for an officer’s commission.  He joined the 6/DLI as a Second Lieutenant and entered France in July 1915.  Second Lieutenant J.F.G. Aubin saw action at the Ypres Salient in 1915; the Battle of the Somme 1916, being awarded the Military Cross in the New Year’s Honours List of 1917; the Arras Offensive 1917 and the Battle of Third Ypres later in the year.  As acting Captain, he distinguished himself leading his men to advance posts in no-man’s land to earn a Bar to his MC.  The much anticipated German offensive commenced in late March 1918 and Captain J.F.G. Aubin was notable during the rear-guard action, defending the withdrawal of British troops.  For his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.  Captain J.F.G. Aubin and 5 other officers were killed when their billets in the convent at Estaires was hit by shell fire at the beginning of the Battle of the Lys.  Captain J.F.G. Aubin was Mentioned in Despatches, being included in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch of the 8th November which submitted names “deserving of special mention”.

Captain George Kirkhouse 1894 – 1918

Courtesy of http://www.universitiesatwar.org.uk/explore/kirkhouse-george)

Captain George Kirkhouse was killed in action 9 April 1918, aged 23.  He is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France and commemorated Consett War Memorial, Christ Church, Consett Roll of Honour & family plaque, Durham School Chapel & War Record and the 6/DLI Memorial Plaque in the former Drill Hall, now in Christ Church.  Captain George Kirkhouse was born in 1894, the son of E.G. Kirkhouse esq., of West Bank, Consett.  He entered the Durham School in September 1906 and left June 1911 for Armstrong College, Durham University, where he took his B.Sc. in 1914.  He was gazetted to the 6/DLI in October 1914 and entered France with the battalion in April 1915, being wounded a week later near St. Julien during the Second Battle of Ypres.  After being discharged from hospital, he served for some time as Adjutant of the 3/6th Battalion in England.  In April 1916, he re-joined the First Line Battalion and was promoted to Captain in December of that year.  For a time in 1917, he held the position of Musketry Instructor at St. Pol but was invalided to England suffering from diphtheria in April.  After serving some months with his Reserve Battalion at Catterick and Hornsea, he re-joined his 1/6DLI at Passchendaele Ridge in October 1917.  He was the Battalion’s Adjutant when he and 5 other officers were killed by a shell which struck Battalion HQ at Estaires, 9 April 1918.

NCOs and OTHER RANKS

Overall, during the course of the war, men from the traditional recruiting areas accounted for 395 (47.6%) of the 830 deaths in the ranks thus the remainder, 435 (52.4%) were men who belonged elsewhere.  There was a reduction in the number of deaths from the traditional recruitment areas from the end of 1916.  By the end of 1916, 1/6DLI had suffered 295 deaths in the ranks, of whom 187 came from the traditional recruiting areas, 63.4% of the total to that date.  From 1917 to the end of the war, a total of 103 deaths, 19.25%, were attributed to the traditional recruitment area.  Accordingly, there was an increase in the deaths from elsewhere in the country, from 1917 onwards about 80%.  (Appendix 7)

This conclusion is to be expected since:

  1. The concept of the Territorial Force was for the defence of the local area from foreign invasion by local troops.  Once exceptional circumstances prevailed and a national emergency was declared, the territorial force was required for overseas service.  It moved abroad, en-masse.
  2. From July 1916 onwards, the heavy casualties inflicted by German forces at the Battle of the Somme, resulted in a move away from mass, group recruitment because the emotional effect on local areas was considered unacceptable and bad for the national moral.
  3. Conscription measures came into force. In January 1916, the Military Service Act was passed which imposed conscription on all single men aged between 18 and 41 but exempted the medically unfit, clergymen, teachers and certain classes of industrial worker.  A second act was passed in May 1916 which extended conscription to married men.  In 1918, during the last months of the war, the Military Service (No.2) Act raised the age limit to 51.[34] The effect was that the recruitment of soldiers was carried out on a need basis rather than area based. 

The Second Battle of Ypres 14 April – 2 June 1915

1/6DLI saw action within 6 days of entering France at the Battle of St. Julien which took place between 24 April and 4 May 1915.  Later research confirms that between 26 April and 6 May 1915, 1/6DLI lost 3 officers (Major S.E. Badcock, 2/Lt. C.S. Kynock and Captain J.T. Monkhouse) and 52 other ranks, killed in action or died of wounds. [35]  Of these, 17 men had associations to Bishop Auckland.  They were:

26 April 1915

  • 2684 Private Henry Bacon enlisted Bp. Auckland residence South Church.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard. 
  • 2526 Private James Briddick enlisted Bp. Auckland residence South Church He was killed in action aged 28.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was the son of George and Mary Briddick of Gaunless View, South Church.
  • 1503 Bugler Michael Casey enlisted and born Bp. Auckland.  He was killed in action, aged 20.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and to date no local commemoration has been traced.  He was the son of Bartholomew and Mary Casey of St. Andrew’s Crest, South Church.   
Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle

2532 Private Charles Michael Christian enlisted Bp. Auckland was killed in action, aged 38.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He left a widow Lovica and 4 children who lived at Frederick Street, Bishop Auckland.

Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle

2355 Private John Emery, enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Tottenham (now called Leeholme) was killed in action, aged 20/21.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was the son of William and Isabella Emery.

Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle
  • 2538 Private Alfred Emmerson enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Coundon was killed in action, aged 27.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was the son of Alfred and Mary Jane Emmerson.
Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle
  • 2543 Private Arthur Ferens enlisted Bp. Auckland, was killed in action, aged 17.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the memorial plaques in St. Peter’s Church (now in St. Anne’s) and the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Newgate Street.  He was the son of Arthur and Frances Ferens, Ormesby House, Bishop Auckland.
  • 2041 Lance Corporal Edward Haley, enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Witton Park, was killed in action, aged 20.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the Witton Park war memorials.  He was the son of James and Lily Haley.
Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle
  • 2258 Lance Corporal William Henry Kell enlisted Bp. Auckland was killed in action, aged 32.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He left a widow Sarah and 2 children who lived at Primrose Hill, Etherley Dene, Bishop Auckland.
Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle
  • 2239 Bugler Frederick Murray enlisted and born Bp. Auckland.  He was killed in action aged 24.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was the son of John and Selina who lived at George Street, Bishop Auckland.
  • 1697 Private John George Penman, enlisted Bp. Auckland residence South Church.  He was killed in action aged 19.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was the son of Eli and Isabella who lived at Bridge End, South Church.
(courtesy of NEWMP &  George Nairn)
  • 2405 Lance Corporal Joseph William Southan enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Cockton Hill.  He was killed in action aged 33.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He left a widow Mary Hannah and 2 children who lived at Surtees Street, Bishop Auckland.
  • 2591 Private George Stonehouse enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Coundon.  He was killed in action and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, the Coundon war memorial and the tablet in Coundon WMC.  
Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle
  • 2601 Private Abram Tait enlisted Bp. Auckland, aged about 23.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. Peter’s Church (now in St. Anne’s Church), Bishop Auckland.  He left a widow Hannah and 2 children.

28 April

  • 2377 Private Alfred Alder enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon Grange, died of wounds and is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery, Nord and commemorated on the war memorial in St. Mark’s churchyard, Eldon and the Eldon Memorial Cottages erected by Messrs. Pease and Partners Ltd.  He was 24 years old, married to Ada.
Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle

And the following 2 men died of wounds some days later:

  • 2411 Private Jeremiah Watson, 4 May 1915 aged 26.  He is buried at St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen and commemorated on the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He left a widow Elizabeth and 1 child.
  • 755 Sergeant George Edwin Neal, 6 May 1915.   He is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France [36] and commemorated on the War Memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard, South Church, Bishop Auckland and Shildon War Memorial.

The Battle of the Somme 1 July – 22 November 1916

1/6DLI was involved in the following engagements with named battles.  The infamous and unsuccessful attack on the Butte de Warlencourt 5 November was not given a name by the post war Battles Nomenclature Committee.

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette 15 – 22 September 1916

Between 15 and 22 September 1916, 1/6DLI lost 3 officers (2/Lt. H.C. Clarkson, Lt. R.J. Harris and 2/Lt. W.F. Charlton) and 53 ORs killed in action or died of wounds, including the following 14 men with associations to the Bishop Auckland area:[37]

15 September 1916

  • 3723 Corporal Isaac William Hewitt enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He was killed in action aged 19.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, France and the Escomb war memorial.  He was a single man, the son of John and Alice and lived at Escomb
  • 4327 Private Albert Crook enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme and the Book of Remembrance, St. Anne’s Church, Market Place, Bishop Auckland.[38]

16 September 1916

  • 4099 Private William Christopher Dobson enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Eldon. He was killed in action was killed in action aged 19.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme and the Eldon war memorial in St. Mark’s churchyard.  He was the son of Robert and Rhoda.
  • 2738 Private Robert Henry Elliott enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Witton Park.  He was killed in action was killed in action aged about 30.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme and the Witton Park war memorials.  Henry left a widow Margaret Ann and 5 children.
  • 2792 Private Christopher Hughes enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.2, France and commemorated on the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  Aged 18, he was the son of Mary Hughes, Tea Shop Yard, Bishop Auckland.[39]
  • 3292 Private George Jeffrey enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Coundon Grange.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and Coundon war memorial (named Jefferies G.) He was about 27 years old and left a widow Sarah and 3 children. 
  • 3859 Private John William Storey enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Canny Hill.  He is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, France and commemorated on Coundon war memorial.  He was 21 years old and the son of John and Maria Storey.

17 September 1916

  • 3166 Private Thomas William Dunn enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages and the West Auckland War Memorial.  He was about 28 years old, the son of Thomas and Mary Dunn.
  • 2791 Private Frank Heighington enlisted Bp. Auckland.  Aged 20, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the son of George and Annie Heighington, Newton Cap Bank, Bishop Auckland.
  • 2152 Private Joseph Roberts enlisted Bp. Auckland born Coundon.  Aged 25, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the son of John Roberts, husband of Eliza Roberts of Coundon Grange.
  • 3410 Private William Wallace residence Cockton Hill.  No known grave and commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and possibly the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard (named W. Wallis), sister of Ethel Shoulder of Woodhouse Close.

19 September 1916

  • 2362 Sergeant William Blenkinsop enlisted Bp. Auckland born South Church.  He is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension and commemorated on Coundon War Memorial.  He was 31 years old, married to Bridget with 3 children.
  • 2627 Private Anthony Bruce Ross enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s church yard.  He was aged 19, the son of Robert and Jane Ross of Newton Cap.
Courtesy of Ancestry family tree

The Battle of Le Transloy 1 – 18 October 1916

The village of Eaucourt L’Abbaye was captured and the attack is famous for the action of Lieut.-Col. R. B. Bradford who was awarded the V.C. Later research records that 1/6DLI lost a total of 65 men either killed in action or died of wounds during the period 1 – 3 October 1916.[40] Two officers were killed in action (2/Lt William Little and 2/Lt David Ronald Peacock)[41] and 63 ORs.  Of these men, the following 19 men had associations with Bishop Auckland:

1 October

  • 3101 Private Richard William Baker, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the memorial tablet on St. Helens Colliery Memorial Cottages, the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard and the memorial plaque originally housed in St. Luke’s, Tindale Crescent, now in St. Andrew’s.  He was 34 years old and left a widow, Dorothy Ann and at least 3 children.
(Believed to be, courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle )

3711 Private James Bowman, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the war memorial in St. Mark’s graveyard, Eldon.  He was 20 years old, a single man, the son of John and Kate Bowman and lived at Eldon Lane.

3364 Private Henry Brown, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  He was 19 years old, the son of Thomas and Maria Brown and lived at South Church.

1944 Corporal Robert Gibbon, enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Witton Park.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Escomb War Memorial. He was aged 18, the son of Anthony and Alice Gibbon. 

3506 Private Robert William Gray enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Etherley Dene.  He is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery, France and is commemorated on a brass plaque housed in St. Andrew’s church.  He was 27 years old and left a widow, Florence and 3 children.

2558 Corporal Arthur Hetherington, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon. He is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery, France and is commemorated on Coundon war memorial.  He was 31 years old and left a widow Beatrice and 1 child.

4106 Private James Holliday enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Cockfield.  He is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery, France and is commemorated on Cockfield war memorial.  He was 29 years old and left a widow Margaret and 3 children.

(Courtesy of Gaunless Valley LHT)
  • 3666 Private Jeremiah Cameron Lee, enlisted Durham, residence Bp. Auckland.  He is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery, France and is commemorated on Cockfield war memorial.  He was 23 years old and left a widow Mary and 2 children.
(Believed to be)

4463 Lance Corporal Charles Lowther, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Butterknowle.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Butterknowle war memorial.  He was 28 years old, a single man, the son of William and Margaret Lowther.

250209 (formerly 2431) Lance Corporal John Foster Shuttleworth enlisted Bp. Auckland residence South Church.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was 23 years old, the son of John and Lucy Shuttleworth.

3534 Private Thomas Sowerby enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Shildon.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and St. Andrew’s war memorial.  He was 12 years old, a single man and the son of Bainbridge and Isabella Sowerby.

1507 Private (Bugler) George Thwaites, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was 20 years old and the son of William and Jane Thwaites.

3974 Private Robert William Wallace, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Cockfield.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Cockfield war memorial.  He was 22 years old, a single man, the son of Robert and Margaret Wallace.

(courtesy of Evelyn Humphries)

3914 Private John Alfred Wardle enlisted Bp. Auckland born Lands.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Chilton war memorials.  He was 35 years old, and left a widow Martha and 2 children.

(Courtesy of Chilton WMC)

2 October

  • 2375 Lance Corporal Robert Catchpole enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Leeholme.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Coundon War Memorial.  He was 24 years old, married to Sarah Jane. 
  • 1504 Bugler William Lax, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was 21 years old, the son of William and Catherine Lax.
  • 1703 Private Harry Newton born and enlisted Bp. Auckland.  Aged 21 and buried at Dernancourt CCE and commemorated on St. Andrew’s war memorial, the son of Harry and Esther Newton of High Bondgate, Bishop Auckland.
Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle

3 October

  • 3477 Private Ernest Brabban born and enlisted at Coundon.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was 33 years old, married to Elizabeth with 4 children.

The Butte de Warlencourt 5 November 1916

Casualties were heavy and initially reported as 3 officers killed, 4 wounded and 3 missing and about 150 casualties in the ranks.[42]  Later research confirms that between 5 and 8 November, 1/6DLI lost 4 officers (2/Lt. T.F. Applegarth, 2/Lt. H. Fell, 2.Lt. A.S. Robson and 2/Lt. K.B. Stuart all 5 November) and 82 Other Ranks either killed in action or died of wounds[43] including the following 10 men with Bishop Auckland connections:

5 November

  • 3543 Private James Bond residence Coundon Grange.  He is buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery and commemorated on Eldon War Memorial in St. Mark’s churchyard.  He was about 30 years old, married to Mary Isabella with 5 children.
  • 1672 Private Alfred Brown enlisted Staindrop, born Evenwood.  He is buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery and commemorated on Staindrop war memorial in St. Mary’s Church.  He was 23 years old, married to Clara with 1 child.
  • 3429 Private Fred Brunskill enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence High Etherley.  He is buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery and commemorated on Etherley war memorial in St. Cuthbert’s churchyard.  He was 19 years old, a single man, the son of Emma Brunskill.
  • 2372 Sergeant James Conlon, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon. [44]  He has no kown grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Coundon war memorial (named Conlin J.).  He left a widow Martha and at least 1 child.
  • 3472 Sergeant George Thomas Cox, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Evenwood.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and Evenwood war memorials.  He was 29 years old, the son of John and Annie Cox.
  • 3940 Sergeant Thomas Grainger enlisted at Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.  He left a widow Elizabeth and 1 child. [45]
  • 2211 Corporal Ralph Hebdon, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Tindale Crescent.  He is buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery and commemorated on St. Andrew’s war memorial, St. Helens Colliery Memorial Cottages, the roll of honour formerly held in St. Luke’s church, now in St. Andrew’s, and the Barnard Castle war memorial.  He was 25 years old and left a widow, Susan Annie and 3 children.
(Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle)
  • 6128 Private Sydney Nicholson enlisted Bp. Auckland.  Aged 19 and buried at Warlencourt BC and commemorated on St. Andrew’s war memorial, the son of Edward and Esther Nicholson of Cockton Hill, Bishop Auckland.
  • 2403 Lance Sergeant John Taylor born and enlisted at Bp. Auckland.  Aged 38, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and St. Andrew’s war memorial, the son of Samuel and Ellen Taylor, Jock’s Row, Bishop Auckland.
  • 3124 Private Robert Wilson, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence West Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and West Auckland war memorials.  He was 21 years old, the son of Thomas and Jane Wilson.

The battalion was relieved on the night of 6/7 November.  By the end of March 1917, 50th Division was beginning to move towards the Arras front where preparations were being made for a major offensive.[46]

The Arras Offensive 1917

Between 14 and 17 April 1917, 1/6DLI lost 4 Officers (Capt. A.L. Brock, Lt. W.H. Richardson, 2/Lt. H. Greener and 2/Lt. J.W. Payne) and 55 ORs, of these 4 men had associations with Bishop Auckland.  They were:

14 April:

  • 250393 (formerly 3418) PrIvate Walter Greavison, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Escomb. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, the Escomb War Memorial, the Etherley War Memorial and the Roll of Honour in St. Cuthbert’s Church, Etherley.  He was 18 years old, the son of Anthony and Rose Hannah Greavison.
  • 270022 (formerly 3291) Private John Howdon enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He was no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.[47]  He was 27 years old, the son of Thomas and Jane Howdon of Gurney Valley.
  • 250297 (formerly 2499) Private Christopher Simpson, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence St. Helens.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages.  He was 23 years old, the son of Ralph and Catherine Simpson.

15 April:

  • 250330 (formerly 3129) Private George Gallagher, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He is buried at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, France and is commemorated on war memorial in St. Andrew’s graveyard.  He was 34 years old and left a widow and 2 children.

Between 23 and 27 April, 1/6 DLI lost 1 officer killed in action, Capt. W. Marley and 4 ORs were lost, only 1 had a Bp. Auckland connection:

  • 250413 (formerly 3581) Lance Corporal Ernest Keller, enlisted Bp. Auckland residence South Church died of wounds 27 April, as a prisoner of war.  He is buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany and commemorated on the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was 29 years old, and left a widow Jane and 3 children.

The Battle of Passchendale 31 July – 10 November 1917

1/6 DLI was involved in the Second Battle of Passchendaele 26 October – 10 November and lost 11 ORs during the period.  Of these, 3 had an association

26 October:

  • 250057 (formerly 1487) Lance Corporal James Fitzgerald enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Witton Park.  He is buried at Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium and commemorated on the Witton Park war memorials.  He was about 25 years old and a single man.  
(Courtesy of the Illustrated Chronicle)
  • 250165 (formerly 2197) Sergeant Gordon Priestley, enlisted Cockfield, born Wackerfield.  He has no know grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium and the Cockfield war memorial.  He was 24 years old, a single man, the son of Emmanuel and Mary Ann Priestley. 
(Courtesy of Gordon Priestley)

4 November:

  • 250298 (formerly 2946) Private William Stones enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.[48] 

The German Spring Offensive 1918

1/6DLI was caught up in the First Battle of the Somme 1918, the German offensive in Picardy (Operation Michael) which took place between 21 March and 4 July.  The battalion was in reserve when the attack commenced and took part in rear guard action during the withdrawal of troops 21 to 23 March (The Battle of St. Quentin), 24 and 25 March (The Actions at the Somme Crossings and 26 and 27 March (The Battle of Rosiers).  During this phase, 21 to 31 March, 1/6DLI lost 4 Officers (Lt. D.F. Charlton, Lt. T.J. Burton, Captain H. Walton MC, 2/Lt. A. Horwood) and 63 ORs.  The following 4 men had connections to the Bishop Auckland area:

26 March:

  • 250467 (formerly 3973) Private William Lamb, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Copley.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial and the Cockfield War Memorial.  He was 21 years old, a single man and grandson of Thomas and Ann Lamb.
(Believed to be )

27 March:

  • 250523 (formerly 4333) Sergeant Thomas William Simpson MM enlisted Bp. Auckland residence Evenwood.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial, Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood. He was 27 years old, a single man and son of Mary Jane Simpson.
(Courtesy of Michael Bowman)

30238 Lance Corporal John Clarke, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He is buried in Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery and is commemorated on the Billy Row War Memorial near Crook, the Etherley War Memorial and the roll of honour in St. Cuthbert’s Church.  He was 24 years old and left a widow Louie and 1 child.

29 March:

  • 250996 (formerly 5987) Private Christopher Wafer, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Etherley Dene.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.  He was 31 years old and left a widow Esther and 3 children.

The second phase of the offensive hit the battalion when it was posted to the north to the French/Belgian border around Armentieres.  The German offensive in Flanders, known later as the Battle of the Lys, 9 – 29 April, commenced 9 April at Estaires (The Battle of Estaires 9 – 11 April) and progressed towards Hazebrouck (The Battle of Hazebrouck), Bailleul, Kemmel, Bethune and Scherpenberg.  Between 9 April and 15 April, 1/6DLI lost 4 Officers (Captain J.F.G. Abin DSO, MC & Bar, Captain G. Kirkhouse, Lt. D.B. Scott, Lt. C.L. Tyerman) and 56 other ranks, the following 3 men with local Bishop Auckland connections:

9 April:

  • 250296 (formerly 2943) Private George William Thomas Stevens enlisted Barnard Castle residence Cockfield.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memrial, Belgium and Cockfield war memorial.  He was 21 years old, a single man and son of George and Alice Stevens.
(Courtesy of June Heslop)

11 April:

  • 250536 (formerly 4412) Corporal John Geden Braithwaite enlisted Sunderland, residence Bishop Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was 22 years old and a single man, the son of John and Ada Braithwaite.

14 April:

  • 203242 Sergeant Francis Oliver Rudd, enlisted Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard.  He was 34 years old and left a widow Annie Isabelle Rudd.

The severely depleted battalion was then posted to the Chemin de Dames near Soissons for refit, rest and recuperation in a sector deemed to be quiet.  However, the third phase of the German Offensive in Champagne hit this area.  The Battle of the Aisne commenced 27 May and ran out of steam by 6 June.  Between 27 May and 6 June, 1/6DLI lost 3 Officers (Captain W.B. Hansell, Lt. A.N. Brown MC, Lt. R.C. Gutteridge) and 83 other ranks, 7 with Bp. Auckland associations:

27 May:

  • 250449 (formerly 3846) CSM Patrick Finn DCM, MM and Bar, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Barnard Castle.  He is buried at La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery, France and commemorated on the Barnard Castle War Memorial.  He was 26 years old, a single man and son of Patrick and Kate Finn (see below).
  • 204001 Lance Corporal Frederick Ewart Smith, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Coundon.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial and the Coundon war memorial.  He was 20 years old, a single man, the son of Sydney and Amelia Smith.
  • 250290 (formerly 2926) Lance Corporal Thomas Stobbs, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Leasingthorne.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial and the Coundon and Leasingthorne war memorials.  He was 20/21 years old, a single man, the son of Cuthbert and Margaret Stobbs.

30 May:

  • 76809 Private Edward Hindmarch enlisted and born Bishop Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial.[49]  He was 31 years old, a single man, the son of John and Sarah Hindmarch.
  • 250440 (formerly 3803) Private Oliver Rushford MM, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence Morley.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial and Evenwood war memorial.  He was 23 years old, a single man, the son of John and Annie Rushford.
(Courtesy of Isa Stapleton)

31 May:

  • 250264 (formerly 2756) Sergeant John Robertson Field, enlisted Bp. Auckland, residence West Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial and the West Auckland war memorial.  He was 24 years old, a single man, the son of Robert and Margaret Field.
  • 251168 Lance Corporal Thomas Smith, enlisted and born Bp. Auckland.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons war memorial and the West Auckland war memorial.  He was 24 years old, a single man and the son of John and Mary Smith.

Total casualties suffered between 27 and 31 May were 30 officers and 499 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.  The battalion’s casualties for the 3 months March, April and May were 60 officers and 1,200 other ranks.  The remnants of the battalion at Vert La Gravelle numbered about 35 men.  1/6DLI had fought its last battle.[50] 

Many men were captured and spent the rest of their war as prisoners of war (POW), some contracted illness or died of their wounds in captivity, one of whom was:

  • 250339 (formerly 3171) Private Robert “Bobby” William Smart died of dysentery [51]17 October 1918 whilst being held as a prisoner of war and is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, near Kassel, Germany. [52] He is commemorated on the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages and the war memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard, South Church, Bishop Auckland.   He was 29 years old, single and the son of George and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Smart.

Others survived and returned home to live out their lives, 2 of whom were:

  • 250249 (formerly 2677) Sergeant Frederick Maxwell Britton MM and Bar, from Evenwood.  He embarked for France 27 June 1915, was promoted to Sergeant in November 1916, was awarded the military medal in December 1916, as a result of his actions 1 October 1916 and the Bar in February 1918.  He was reported missing 27 May 1918, taken as a POW.  By 8 December 1918, he was back in the UK.  In 1923, Frederick married Sarah Stephenson, a daughter Margaret was born in November 1923.  The family moved to Cockfield where he worked as a miner at Gordon House Colliery.  During WW2, he served with Cockfield Home Guard.  He died in 1977.   
Photo taken 1943 with Cockfield Home Guard

250325 (formerly 3114) Private Hodgson Casson, from Witton Park.  He entered France 20 August 1915, was wounded twice, in February and October 1916, was promoted to Sergeant in April 1917 but reverted back to private at his own request.    He was reported missing 27 May 1918, taken as a POW.  He was removed from the POW list in December 1918 and disembodied in June 1919.  He married Eleanor Davis from Ramshaw in 1921, moved down south for work before returning to live at High Etherley.  He died in 1962.

(Courtesy of Anne Hewitt)

It can be seen that the numbers of local men being killed significantly reduced as the war progressed, particularly after November 1916, as their numbers dwindled due to wounds, death and capture.  As this occurred, the numbers of men from elsewhere in the UK increased and their casualty totals increased accordingly. (Appendix 7)

WOUNDS, ILLNESS AND SPANISH FLU

Men died at home as a result of their wounds, illness or in 1918 and 1919 as a result of contracting flu, the pandemic known as, “Spanish Flu” which afflicted UK, Europe and the wider World.  X of whom are:

  • 250400 (formerly 3470) Private Walter Snowball, 6th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry died nephritis (a kidney complaint) 29 August 1918 and is buried in Evenwood Cemetery [53] and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood.      He was 21 years old, a single man, the son of Ellen Snowball and stepson of William McConnell.
  • 1670 Lance Corporal John Cecil Abraham Sewell was wounded, discharged from the Army and awarded the silver War Badge.  He died 1 December 1918 having contracted influenza and pneumonia.  He is buried in Evenwood Cemetery and commemorated on the Cockfield war memorial.  He was 27 years old, left a widow Jane and 1 son.
Courtesy of Illustrated Chronicle

A profile of 250499 Company Serjeant Major Patrick Finn DCM, MM & Bar 1892 – 1918

250499 (formerly 3846) Company Serjeant Major Patrick Finn DCM, MM & Bar, was killed in action 27 May 1918, aged 26.  He is buried at La Ville-aux-Bois British Cemetery, France and commemorated on Barnard Castle War Memorial.  Patrick Finn was born in 1892 in Barnard Castle.  Pre-war, he had worked as a motor vehicle chauffer.  He was a territorial soldier who entered France in November 1915, saw action at the Ypres Salient and the Battle of the Somme, being wounded twice.  He rose through the ranks to be a Company Serjeant-Major.  He was awarded the military medal (MM) for actions carried out in September 1917 at Cherisy, near Arras, France and subsequently awarded a Bar (posthumously) in September 1918.  His action in April 1918 at Estaires during the Battle of the Lys, when several of his commanding officers had been killed including Captains Aubin and Kirkhouse (see above), he helped reorganise his unit and effected an effective withdrawal resulted in him being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). 

Believed to be; courtesy of Ian Brown

2/6DLI

52 Other Ranks died.  Of these, 11 were men from the North East.  The other men came from Yorkshire (12), the South East (13) and other locations were the East Midlands such as Leicester (5) and Nottingham/Derby (4) and the West Midlands – Staffordshire and Worcestershire (4).[54]


REFERENCES

[1] “The Story of the 6th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, France April 1915 – November 1918” July 1919 edited by Capt. R.B. Ainsworth MC; “The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919” 1939 Everard Wyrall; “The Durham Light Infantry: The Story of the Regiment” 1943 Lieut. E.W. Short; “Faithful: The Story of the Durham Light Infantry” 1962 S.G.P. Ward and “The Faithful Sixth: A History of the Sixth Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry” 1995 Harry Moses.

[2] Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Officers Died in the Great War (ODGW), Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) and Ainsworth p.30 & 31

[3] North East War Memorials Project (NEWMP)

[4] Further research is required to confirm which drill hall the men from the Parishes of Evenwood, Cockfield and Lynesack & Softley attended. For the purpose of this work it has been assumed they reported to the Bishop Auckland drill hall rather than Barnard Castle.

[5] The parishes of Evenwood & Barony and Lynesack & Softley were within the Auckland Rural District, Cockfield and Woodland were in Barnard Castle Rural District.

[6] “Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918” 2004 Richard Holmes p.103

[7] The Haldane Reforms of 1908

[8] “1915: The Death of Innocence” 1991 Lyn Macdonald p.36

[9] “The Chief, Douglas Haig and the British Army” 2011 Gary Sheffield p.60

[10] Macdonald p.39

[11] H. Moses 1995 p.19 & photographs T. Rowlandson Collection

[12] Macdonald p.161

[13] Macdonald p.161

[14] Macdonald p.162

[15] Army Form E.624

[16] Ward p.322

[17] “Call to Arms, The British Army 1914-1918” 2005 Charles Messenger p.84

[18] Ward p.322

[19] Messenger p.76

[20] http://www.1914-1918.net/TF_renumbering_infantry.htm

[21] Wyrall p.5

[22] Ward p.265 & 266

[23] Wyrall p.359 & 360

[24] Wyrall p,359 & 360

[25] http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/50th-northumbrian-division/

[26] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1918_pt1.htm

[27] Ward p.334

[28] UK Army List November 1914

[29] Moses p.19 & 20

[30] Note: I have not traced an exact total.  The estimate given represents the total of 1/5DLI given by Ward p.347

[31] ODGW & SDGW

[32] ODGW & Ainsworth p.30 & 31

[33] Two officers have yet to be identified, 2/Lt. G.W. Robson and Captain W. Graham.  The recorded dates of death for 3 officers differ between ODGW and Ainsworth, in which case, I have accepted the date given by CWGC as being correct.  The 6/DLI War Diary and Harry Moses book have not yet been researched fully – these sources may provide a definitive answer. 

[34]https://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/yourcountry/overview/conscription/#:~:text=In%20January%201916%20the%20Military,certain%20classes%20of%20industrial%20worker.

[35] ODGW & SDGW

[36] CWGC

[37] ODGW & SDGW Note: This list only includes those men with a Bishop Auckland residence or enlisted at Bishop Auckland where there is no other indication of birth or residence and includes Auckland Park and Eldon, Coundon and Leeholme, Witton Park and Escomb, St. Helens and West Auckland.  The Shildon area, Crook, Willington, Barnard Castle and Weardale villages are not included.

[38] No definite family details have been found relating to this soldier

[39] CWGC

[40] ODGW & SDGW

[41] Officers Died in the Great War

[42] Moses p.79

[43] The DLI ranks were reinforced by drafts transferred from other regiments including 15 men from the Norfolk Regiment, 12 from the Yorkshire Regiment and 8 from the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who were killed in action or died of wounds. 

[44] Doubt over his family identity.  He may have been born James McCoy bc.1883 to Mary Ann McCoy, the widowed daughter of John Conlon (born in Ireland).  The 1901 census records him as James Conlon.  He married Martha O’Neil (born at South Shields) in 1911.

[45] Family and census details have not been found.  To date, a local commemoration has not been traced.

[46] Moses p.81

[47] A local commemoration has not been traced.

[48] Neither a definite family connection nor a local commemoration has been traced.

[49] A local commemoration has not yet been traced.  The family lived at 57 Newgate St., Bishop Auckland

[50] Moses p.106 & 107

[51] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1921

[52] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[53] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[54] SDGW Note: ODGW carry no data of officers thus it is presumed that there were no deaths.