91933 Private Henry Richardson Tyman 9th Battalion, Tank Corps was killed in action 23 July 1918 and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France.[1]  He was 30 years old and is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance, St. Andrew’s Church, Stanley, Co. Durham.[2]

Family Details

Henry Richardson Tyman was born 1888[3] the son of John and Mary Ann Tyman (nee Richardson).  There were 6 children, all born at Carrville, Durham:

  • Margaret bc.1873
  • Simeon bs.1875
  • John bc.1877
  • Benjamin bc.1881
  • William bc.1883
  • Henry Richardson born 1888

In 1891, the family lived at 49 Sunderland Road, Carrville, Durham.  46 year old John worked as a coal miner as did his sons 16 year old Simeon and 14 year old John. [4]  13 April 1897, 51 year old John was killed in an accident at Ushaw Moor Colliery.[5]  Later, that year, Mary married John Gilmore[6] and by 1901 lived at 14 West Street, Stanley.  John Gilmore worked as a coal miner, 24 year old John was a coal miner (hewer) and 18 year old William was a coal miner (shifter).  13 year old Henry was presumably still at school.[7]  In 1909, Henry married Beatrice Parnell. [8]  In 1911, 23 year old Henry lived at 22 Theresa Street, Stanley with 24 year old Beatrice and their 7 month old daughter Beatrice.  Henry worked as a coal miner (hewer).[9]  At a later date Beatrice Tyman lived at 105 Newburn Road, Shield Row, Stanley, Co. Durham.[10]


Henry Richardson Tyman is a distant relative of Kevin Richardson, the author – he was my grandfather’s cousin being the son of my grandfather’s sister.  My thanks go to Ian Richardson for providing the military details.  I placed a remembrance cross at the Soissons Memorial 4 November 2016 on behalf of our family.  Should anyone wish to contact me then please do so – knrichardson53@gmail.com

Service Details

Henry Richardson Tyman served with the Durham Light Infantry and was allocated the regimental number 22300.[11]  At some time later he was transferred to the Tank Corps and was given the regimental number 91933.  He entered France 24 September 1915 as a draft to reinforce the battalion following losses in the Ypres Salient.[12]

The service record of Private H.R. Tyman has not been researched so the date he enlisted, the battalion to which he was posted and the date he was transferred to the Tank Corps is unknown.  It is likely that he joined his local Territorial Force either the 1/8th Battalion which took men from the Durham area or the 1/9th Battalion which took men from the Gateshead area.  Stanley men may have belonged to either recruitment area. These battalions were both part of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade, Northumbrian Division and in May 1915 were under the orders of the 151st Brigade 50th (Northumbrian) Division. [13] 16 April 1915 the Division moved to France and served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war.  The battalions were: [14]

  • 1/6th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/7th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/8th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/9th Battalion, DLI
  • 1/5th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire joined 11 June 1915 left 21 December 1915

Following heavy casualties in June 1915 the 1/6th Battalion merged with the 1/8th to become the 6/8th then it returned to its original identity 11 August 1915.  The Brigade was joined by:

  • 1/5th (Cumberland) Battalion, the Border Regiment joined December 1915
  • 151st Machine Gun Company formed 6 February 1916
  • 150th Trench Mortar Battery formed 18 June 1916

The 50th Division was involved in the following actions at the Battle of the Somme, 1916:

  • 15 – 22 September: The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 6th phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916
  • 25 – 28 September: The Battle of Morval, 7th phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916
  • 1 – 18 October: The Battle of Le Transloy, 8th  phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916

The Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps [15]

The 9th Battalion, the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Corps was formed in December 1916 and was designated “I” Battalion. The battalion went over to France as part of the 3rd Tank Brigade in time to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres that started in July 1917. Perhaps Private H.R. Tyman was transferred soon after the Somme offensive and after training, joined “I” Battalion at Passchendaele. This battle dragged on for nearly three months in mainly waterlogged country, which gave little opportunity for the tanks to prove their value.

20 November – 3 December 1917: The Battle of Cambrai [16]

  • 20 – 21 November: The Tank Attack
  • 23 – 28 November: the Capture of Bourlon Wood
  • 30 November – 3 December: the German Counter Attacks

The Battle of Cambrai took place over well-drained undulating country where the tanks had a proper chance to show what they could do. The “I” Battalion formed part of the leading wave of tanks supporting III Corps of the Third British Army.

20 November 1917: 6.20am, the attack achieved complete surprise.  The initial success was so striking that on the next day the bells of London were rung in joyous acclaim of the “victory”.  Lack of reserve formations meant that the territorial gains were retaken by the Germans, within two weeks, but the experience had provided a key to a longer-lasting victory.

The German Offensive, Spring 1918: an overview

3 March, Soviet Russia made peace with Germany and her allies by virtue of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  As a result, Germany could now transfer troops from the Eastern Front to the Western Front.  More importantly, these Divisions included the original elite of the German Army – the Guards, Jagers, Prussians, Swabians and the best of the Bavarians. In all, 192 Divisions could be deployed in the West.  The Allies could field 178 Divisions. [17]  A single division numbered about 19,000 men. [18] Ludendorff could call upon about 3,650,000 men as opposed to the Allies 3,380,000.  Thus, the Germans now held superiority in numbers.

The German High Command needed victory to be gained before the American Forces arrived in Europe in huge numbers.  America entered the war 6 April 1917 and in the July, Pershing General of the Armies of the United States asked for an army of 3 million men.  The first of her troops arrived in France 26 June 1917.[19] The training and build-up of troops obviously took time but eventually by June 1918, the Americans were receiving about 250,000 men a month in France.  This amounted to 25 divisions in or behind the battle zone and another 55 in the United States ready to join the action.[20]

Elsewhere in the Alliance, the French were able to draw on a new annual class of conscripts after a year of inactivity but the British were worn down by continuous fighting during the summer of 1917 with major offensives at Arras, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai.[21]  The strength of the British infantry had fallen from 754,000 in July 1917 to 543,000 in June 1918 producing a manpower crisis.[22]

21 March 1918:  the German Offensive was launched.  There were 5 phases: [23]

  • 21 March – 5 April: Operation Michael, against the British, the Battle of Picardy (otherwise known as the First Battle of the Somme 1918)
  • 9 – 11 April: Operation Georgette, against the British, the Battle of Lys sector near Armentieres
  • 27 April: Operation Blucher-Yorck, against the French sector along Chemin des Dames, the Third Battle of Aisne
  • 9 June: Operation Gneisenau, against the French sector between Noyan and Montdider, the Battle of the Matz
  • 15 – 17 July: Operation Marne-Rheims, the final phase known as the Second Battle of the Marne.

The Germans enjoyed spectacular territorial gains particularly during the initial phases of the offensive.  23 March, the Kaiser declared a “victory holiday” for German schoolchildren.

The cost in manpower was enormous.  Between 21 March and 10 April the 3 main assaulting armies had lost 303,450 men – 1/5th of their original strength.

The April offensive against the British in Flanders was eventually computed to have cost 120,000 men out of a total of 800,000.[24]

The German High Command calculated that it required 200,000 replacements each month but only 300,000 recruits stood available taking into account the next annual class of 18-year olds.  There were 70,000 convalescents available from hospitals each month but even counting them, the strength of the German Army had fallen from 5.1 million to 4.2 million men in the 6 months of the offensive.  It could not be increased on the estimated scale required. [25]

To add to this dilemma, in June 1918, the first outbreak of “Spanish Flu” laid low nearly 500,000 German soldiers.  This epidemic was to reoccur in the autumn and wreak havoc throughout Europe and the wider world.[26]

Added to this the poor diet of the German troops, battle fatigue, discontentment with the military leadership, social unrest at home and a general realisation that their great effort was beginning to wane, the Allies counter attack in mid-July began to seize the initiative.  Sweeping victories over demoralised German forces eventually led to the resignation of Ludendorff 27 October, the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II 9 November and the signing of the Armistice 11 November 1918. [27]

To recap, in the spring of 1918 the Germans, relieved of the pressure on their eastern front by the aftermath of the Russian revolution, launched a series of attacks on the western front. In March they advanced west towards Amiens, in April northwest towards Hazebrouck, and in May and June south towards Chateau-Thierry. Although they had made great gains, they were held. And with the failure of their attacks the naturally cautious General Pétain was able to say in mid-June 1918:

“If we can hold until the end of June, our situation will be excellent. In July we can resume the offensive; after that victory will be ours”.

They did hold until the end of June, and in July the offensive was resumed.

4 July:  Six Australian infantry battalions, working in close co-operation with 60 tanks of the 5th British Tank Brigade, attacked to the east of Amiens. With consummate ease and only small losses they captured the ridge running from Villers Bretonneux north to the Somme at Hamel, this action being generally known as the Battle of Hamel.

23 July 1918: The Battle of Sauvillers (alternatively known as The Battle of Moreuil) [28]

A major attack was now planned for 8 August, an attack that was to be given the name of the Battle of Amiens and the day itself was later said by Ludendorff to be: “the black day of the German Army in the history of the war”.  But before that day a further “curtain raiser” was arranged to test the resistance of the Germans and to improve the position of General Debeney’s French First Army in the Moreuil sector of the line. Impressed by the outcome at Hamel, the French asked the British for the loan of the “Cambrai key”, their own tanks being engaged on the Marne.

The tank troops to be loaned consisted of the headquarters of the 5th Tank Brigade (Brigadier-General Courage) and the “I” Battalion Royal Tank Corps (Lt. Col. H.K. Woods). The attack they were to make in support of the French Third Division (General Bourgon) became known as the Battle of Sauvillers, or alternatively the Battle of Moreuil. It had the following objectives:

  • to capture the Bois de St. Ribert in order to outflank Mailly-Raineval from the south
  • to abolish German batteries near the Bois de St. Ribert
  • to advance the French field guns eastward so that they could bear on the high ridges dominating the right bank of the River Avre.

The attack was ordered 17 July to take place 23 July and much preparation, besides three stages of movement, had to be done. However, “the Tanks felt that they would be eternally disgraced if they were obliged so much as to hint that they would like even a day’s postponement of this, their first battle with the French”. Moving by nightly stages the 9th reached the scene of the attack twenty four hours before the attack was due to go in, although reconnaissance’s and mutual discussion of the plan had begun on 18th July. To help improve communication, one English-speaking Frenchman was provided for each tank.

 23 July: 5.30am: The attack began. All troops were stimulated by visits from Brigadier Courage, of whom it was said: “From the nature of his suggestions and advice, a very ordinary thinker could easily come to the conclusion that he did not care for the Germans!” The first-wave tanks advanced through a fairly heavy enemy barrage to clear the Bois des Arrachis, destroying a number of machine guns, and then advanced to capture the first intermediate objective – Sauvillers village, Adelpare farm, and Les Trois Boqueleaux. They arrived fifteen minutes before the infantry, and had two tanks knocked out by shells.

In the second phase the tanks of B and C companies moved forward in support of their infantry on either side of the Bois de Sauvillers. In so doing they outstripped and lost touch with the French infantry, and while trying to regain contact six tanks were put out of action by a German battery south of the Bois de St. Ribert.

To the west of this action a battalion commander of the 51st Regiment of French Infantry requested help from O.C. B Company 9th Tanks to capture the Bois de Harpon. An improvised attack was quickly planned, and seven tanks and the infantry captured the wood and a hostile battery, only two tanks being damaged.

By the evening all objectives had been taken, and the French were very well satisfied with the action, as were the tanks. The French had more than seven hundred casualties, but the tank-led 3rd Division lost little more than the other two French Divisions engaged, even though it had the main role and twice as large a frontage. Tank Corps casualties were 54, and of 36 tanks engaged, 15 were knocked out, 11 irretrievably. On the other side of the account the Germans lost 1858 prisoners and unknown numbers killed and wounded, and also lost 5 field guns, 45 trench mortars and 275 machine guns.

This action was a prelude to the black day of the German army, on which day the Cambrai Key was again used with great effect.

The 9th Battalion was awarded two additional honours. Before they went back to the British sector they had the privilege of being inspected by General Debeney. He expressed extreme pleasure at the way in which the tanks had fought and in his special order of the day gave the Battalion praise of which they will ever be proud.

 “Finally, I owe a special tribute of thanks to the battalion of British Tanks whose powerful and devoted assistance has aided and assured our success. Commanded by an experienced and skilful leader the tanks have again added to that rich harvest of laurels which this new arm has not ceased to gather since its first appearance in September 1916. They have given to the Division the finest example of bravery, of energy, of comradeship in action and of training for war carried to the highest degree of perfection. Their assistance has enabled the infantry to gain a brilliant victory in which they themselves share largely.”

The Battalion was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palmes as a regimental decoration, worn by all ranks as a lanyard in the colours of the Croix de Guerre. The 9th Battalion shares tis honour with three other units of the British Army;

  • 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
  • 4h Battalion, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry
  • 8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment

The 9th also has a special distinction, which almost certainly will remain ever unique to them. General Bourgon, commander of the French Third Division, awarded the 9th the honour of wearing the badge of his Division. A replica of this badge is worn on the upper left sleeve of everyone serving in the 9th Battalion, proudly showing its motto:

“Qui s’y frotte, s’y brule” (touch me, and you burn).

Private H.R. Tyman was First Gunner in a MkV male tank which was driven by 92958 Pte. A.J. Tabor and commanded by a 2nd Lt W. Molloy.  As stated above, the attack was an overwhelming success, so much so that having achieved their objectives an improvised plan was conceived to capture the next wood, the Bois de Harpon.

In a letter from 2nd Lt W Molloy to the mother of Pte. Tabor, he says:

“We had finished our first operation & obtained everything we had been called on to do – but had lost our 1st gunner – a friend of your husbands named Tyman – shot through the head poor chap.”

91933 Private Henry Richardson Tyman, 9th Battalion, Tank Corps was killed in action 23 July 1918.[29]

The second attack was also a great success but on the far side of Harpon wood, the tank was engaged by a German gun, the shell exploding in front of the drivers’ position.  92958 Pte. A. J. Tabor had his hands and feet blown away and the officer lost an eye. They were taken to a French field hospital where Pte. A. J. Tabor died the next day. He was buried in a French cemetery at Ferme D’Eruse and re-interred in the 1920’s to Roye New British Cemetery.  It is assumed that as Private H.R. Tyman died immediately and was buried on the battlefield, whilst Private. Tabor was carried to the rear.

The Mark V Tank [30]

The Mark V tank was a new model for 1918.  Although similar in appearance to earlier models the Mark V was a much better tank, more powerful and easier to drive.  It was equipped with a new Ricardo six-cylinder engine and Wilson’s epicyclic steering system which meant that one man could handle all the controls compared with four in the Mark IV.  The engine was designed by Harry Ricardo, a Cambridge graduate and brilliant engineer who took a special interest in internal combustion engines.  In 1917, Ricardo was asked to design an engine to replace the Daimler Foster 105hp being used in British tanks.  The Daimler was very smoky and underpowered for the job it as expected to do on the rough ground of the First World War battlefields.  As he set to the task, Ricardo faced a daunting list of requirements from the War Office.  His design had to:

  • Fit the same space as the Daimler engine
  • Have 50% more power
  • Not stall at 45˚ angles
  • Be able to run for 100 hours without major adjustments
  • Not use high tensile steel and alloys as these were earmarked for the aeroplane industry
  • Run on the lowest grade fuel

Ricardo rose to the challenge and designed an engine that became the first mass produced internal combustion engine in Britain.

Among the new features was a rear cab for the commander, complete with signalling apparatus and a rear machine gun position.  The Bovington exhibit carries an unditching beam which was first introduced in the Mark IV.  This would be used if the tank got stuck in the mud – chained to the tracks it was drawn under the tank and gave it something solid to grip.  The exhibit (see photographs below) is shown in the markings of the 8th (H) Battalion, Tank Corps at the time of the Battle of Amiens, 8 August 1918.  Commanded by a young officer named Whittenbury this actual tank took part in the battle and its young commander was awarded the Military Cross.  Some details of the Mark V tank are:

  • Crew: 8
  • Armour: 12mm
  • Top speed: 4.6mph (7.4kph)
  • Weight: 29 tonnes
  • Weaponry: 2 x 57mm guns; 2 x Machine Guns
  • Fuel capacity: 422 litres
  • Service dates: 1919 – 1923, with the Red Army 1920-1928
  • Manufacturer: Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon & Finance Co. of Birmingham
  • User: Britain, USA & USSR

Private H.R. Tyman was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[31]


The Soissons Memorial:  Private Henry R. Tyman has no known grave and is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, France. The Soissons Memorial which commemorates almost 4,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom who died during the Battles of the Aisne and the Marne in 1918 and who have no known grave. [32]

The Book of Remembrance, St. Andrew’s Church, Stanley, Co. Durham: contains the names of 351 servicemen and was unveiled 22 December 1923.[33]


22300[34] Private H.R. Tyman probably served with 13/DLI before being transferred to the Tank Corps 8 January 1917[35] and was given the number 91933.  Others transferred at that time were 91932 Frank Grayson and 91935 Edward Grenfell.  It is probable that Pte. H.R. Tyman served in tank number 9049, commanded by Second Lieutenant W. Molloy and driven by Pte. A.J. Tabor.  The tank crew were part of B Company whose Section Commander was Lieutenant Oliver Quin Warren [born in Essex but emigrated to Canada, living in Manitoba].

The attached plan shows the map of the battle and 9049 took a direct hit at a location north of Bois du Harpon [half way along the NW side of the wood].[36]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] ww.newmp.org.uk/detail.php?contentId=8669#listlink

[3] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.407 Durham 1888 Q2

[4] 1891 census

[5] http://www.dmm.org.uk/individ1/i19041.htm

[6] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.517 Lanchester 1897 Q3

[7] 1901 census

[8] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.616 Lanchester 1909 Q2

[9] 1911 census

[10] CWGC

[11] Medal Roll

[12] Medal Roll

[13] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[14] http://www.1914-1918.net/50div.htm

[15] Research by Ian Richardson

[16] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1917.htm

[17] “The Somme” Hart p.421

[18] CWGC

[19] http://www.firstworldwar.net/timeline

[20] Hart p.437

[21] http://www.1914-1918.net/batt22.htm

[22] Hart p.437

[23] Hart p.426 & timeline

[24] Hart p.435

[25] Hart p.439

[26] Hart p.438

[27] timeline

[28] Research by Ian Richardson

[29] CWGC

[30] Details from displays at The Tank Museum, Bovington

[31] Medal Roll

[32] CWGC

[33] http://www.newmp.org.uk/detail.php?contentId=8669#listlink

[34] Medal Roll – the Tank Corps record that he previously served with 13/DLI.

[35] Email from David Gibson 10 June 2017 – probable date

[36] Email from David Gibson 10 June 2017 – taken from the appendices to the War History of the 9th Battalion [WO 95-107-6]



Soissons Memorial

Soissons Memorial

TYMAN H.R. Inscription






MARK V TANK blueprint


MARK V TANK photo 1918

photo 1918

9th Battalion Battle Map