THE ARMED FORCES: ARMY, NAVY & AIR FORCE

The Armed Forces: Army, Navy & Air Force.

NOTE: THIS SECTION NEEDS TO BE UPDATED IN LIGHT OF ADDITIONAL DETAILS

NUMBERS NEED TO BE RECALCULATED

There are 272 names on the Gaunless Valley memorials:

  • 6 men have not been identified
  • 3 have not been 100% confirmed
  • 28 men are commemorated on more than 1 memorial
  • 2 men not commemorated on our local war memorials are commemorated on family headstones in West Auckland cemetery

In total 236 men have been researched:

  • 232 served with the British Armed Forces
  • 2 with the Australian Imperial Force
  • 1 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • 1 unknown [Jobling – could have been reserved occupation]
  • 230 men served in His Majesty’s Armies (the British Expeditionary Force, CEF and the AIF)
  • 4 served in the Royal Navy
  • 1 RAF cadet

In line with the national situation, the number of deaths increased year by year.  The yearly totals were:

  • 1914: 3
  • 1915: 23
  • 1916: 58
  • 1917: 63
  • 1918 [to 11 November]: 78
  • 12.11.1918 – 01.02.1921: 11

11 men died after hostilities ceased either due to wounds received or as a result of illness.

ROYAL NAVY

4 seamen who were lost during the Battle of Jutland 31 May/ 1 June 1916 were:

  • Tyneside Z/4043 Able Seaman John Wren was lost at sea 31 May 1916 when aboard HMS Black Prince and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.[1] He was 23 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood.
  • J/43920 Ordinary Seaman William Carrick was killed in action 1 June 1916 serving aboard HMS Ardent and is buried at Farsund Cemetery, Norway.[2] He is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial, the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood and the Memorial Plaque in the Workmen’s Club.
  • J/43919 Ordinary Seaman Andrew Lynas was killed in action 1 June 1916 serving aboard HMS Ardent. He was lost at sea and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.   He was 20 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial, the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood and the Memorial Plaque in the Workmen’s Club.
  • Midshipman W.N. Eden was killed in action 1 June 1916 serving aboard HMS Indefatigable .  He was 16 years old and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, the Kirk Merrington War Memorial and a family memorial at St. Helen’s church.

ROYAL AIR FORCE

There was 1 serviceman who served with the Royal Air Force:

  • 319104 Flight Cadet Norman Andrew Clay, Royal Air Force died 29 October 1919 and is buried in West Auckland Cemetery.[3] He was 21 years old and is commemorated on the West Auckland War Memorial.

ARMY

 Of the 236 men researched, (96%) served with the British Army.  Excluded are:

  • 2 soldiers served with the Australian Imperial Force, 1 in the Artillery and 1 in the Engineers
  • 1 soldier served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • 4 served with the Royal Naval Division and the Royal Marines [arguably should be regarded as Royal Navy].

Of those serving with the British Army 86% were with Infantry Regiments.  Arguably the RND & RM were infantry units and if they were included then the proportion would increase slightly to 88%.

Many men already served with their local Territorial Force, the 6th Battalion the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) and many volunteered to serve overseas.  At the outbreak of war many more answered Kitchener’s call and volunteered to serve King and country.  They were posted to one of the New Army battalions, usually a “Service Battalion” of the DLI.   Conscription was introduced 1 January 1916 and after training at a local depot, recruits were posted to a unit as required, not necessarily a DLI Service Battalion.  Of the 230 soldiers researched, 40% died while serving with the DLI.  Of those who fell prior to 31 December 1916, 53% served with DLI and after that date, 34% served with DLI.  The explanation is likely to be that following the terrible losses of the Battle of the Somme, particularly the first day 1 July 1916, the concept of “Pals Battalions” of friends joining up together, was found to have tragic consequences for local communities, not to be repeated.  Therefore the posting of recruits to the conscripted army appears to have been carried out on a needs basis rather than simply geography.[4]  Many men were posted initially to the DLI and later transferred to other regiments.

Throughout the war most common “other” regiments were:

  • Northumberland Fusiliers 20 (9%)
  • Yorkshire Regiment 17 (7%)
  • East Yorkshire Regiment 12 (5%)

As recorded above, most served with Infantry Regiments.  There were 2 Cavalrymen, 5 Artillerymen, 4 RAMC, 8 Royal Engineers, 3 Labour Corps, 1 ASC and 1 Cyclist representing about 12%.

All but 3 men were Other Ranks.  The 3 officers served and died as Second Lieutenants, 1 served with the DLI, 1 with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and 1 with the Yorkshire Regiment.  17% of the men were NCOs and the remaining 82% were privates.

OFFICERS

The 4 officers were:

  • Lieutenant John (Jack) Eden, 12th (Prince of Wales’s Royal) Lancers was killed in action 17 October 1914 and is buried at Larch Wood (Railway Crossing) Cemetery. Ypres and is commemorated on the Kirk Merrington War Memorial, the Eden family memorials in the vestry of St. Helen’s Church, St. Helen’s Auckland and a memorial panel on the front wall of the H. Hart Kerk, Kruiseke, near Wervik, Belgium.
  •  Second Lieutenant Thomas William Applegarth, 11th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry died of wounds, 8 April 1918 and is buried at Caix British Cemetery, France.[5] He was 24 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and memorial plaques in St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood, Darlington Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  Thomas previously was employed as a teacher in Derby.
  • Second Lieutenant Herbert Walker Summerson, 9th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment died of wounds 5 June 1918 and is buried at Marfaux British Cemetery, south of Rheims.[6] He was 28 years old and is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial, the screen in St. Mary’s Church, Cockfield and the Bishop Auckland Grammar School memorial plaque.  In 1911, Herbert had been a law student but his occupation prior to his commission is unknown.  Perhaps he worked in the family business – coal mining and quarrying entrepreneurs.
  • Second Lieutenant William Lowther, 5th Battalion, the Yorkshire (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own) Regiment was killed in action 27 May 1918 and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France.[7] He was 26 years old and is commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack. In 1911, William worked with his father in the family grocery business but his employment prior to his enlistment is unknown.

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[3] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[4] Reference needed to support this comment

[5] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[6] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[7] Commonwealth War Graves Commission