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Thorpe Thewles Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 Robert McKeag, Sergeant Joseph Hattle John Thomas Bee, Sergeant Albert Nelmes Thomas William Wailes Alfred Gaylor.

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Presentation on theme: "Thorpe Thewles Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 Robert McKeag, Sergeant Joseph Hattle John Thomas Bee, Sergeant Albert Nelmes Thomas William Wailes Alfred Gaylor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Thorpe Thewles Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 Robert McKeag, Sergeant Joseph Hattle John Thomas Bee, Sergeant Albert Nelmes Thomas William Wailes Alfred Gaylor Frederick Goldsbrough John H. Pinch Matthew Metcalfe Martin Smith 1939 – 1945 John Edward Boynton Norman Daniels

2 The First World War 1914 – 1918 In 1911, the parish of Grindon had a population of 428, and yet 10 young men from this village lost their lives in the Great War. Who were they? How did they die? Where are they buried? This is an attempt to find out more, using information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Great War Forum, regimental websites, the 1901 census and the Imperial War Museum. It is not a complete picture. Records at this time are sketchy, and we have to rely on probability rather than fact.

3 France and Flanders 9 of the 10 men commemorated on the Thorpe Thewles War Memorial were killed on the Western Front. 5 of these died in 1916, two within three weeks of each other.

4 Frederick J. Goldsbrough, Royal Garrison Artillery Frederick Goldsbrough was one of the first to be sent to France. He was born in Trinity, Darlington and seems to have enlisted in June 1903. If this is the case, the 1901 census shows a 19 year-old Frederick Goldsbrough living with sister and mother, who was a boarding house keeper in central Darlington. Fred is listed as a machine moulder, possibly in an iron foundry. As a gunner, he was mobilised immediately and arrived in France on 17 th September 1914. By 1915, he had a trench mortar gun. These guns had been developed for use in a variety of defensive and offensive roles, from the suppression of an enemy machine-gun,or sniper post to the coordinated firing of barrages. Sadly for the gunner, they always drew enemy fire. Frederick Goldsbrough was killed in action on 13 th October 1915, the earliest war fatality from Thorpe Thewles. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and has no specific grave.

5 Some time later I was fortunate enough to get myself transferred to a trench mortar battery, then popularly known as "The Suicide Club". Here I found myself in as jolly a crowd as I ever met in the War, and amongst whom I spent my happiest times. For they were happy times, in spite of the greater discomfort and undoubtedly greater danger than I had experienced in a field battery. The small guns fired a 60-lb. bomb for a maximum distance of 500 yards, and consequently were usually in or near the front-line trench. The bombs did great damage to wire and trenches and naturally enemy retaliation was prompt and heavy whenever we fired. Diary of George F. Wear, serving with the 49 th Division

6 Sergeant Robert McKeag, 9 th Battalion, Northumberland Fusilliers Robert McKeag was born at Carlton Station and is listed in the 1901 census as a railway porter, aged 19. He enlisted in Middlesbrough and was sent to France, arriving on 8 th August 1915. He survived only four months on the Western Front, and died on the 19 th December 1915. He is buried at Etaples military cemetery, as is Martin Smith from Thorpe Thewles. Etaples had several military hospitals and was situated well behind the line. In December 1915, the 9 th Battalion were in the Hooge sector. Hooge is a small village on the Menin Road (the N8), around two miles east of Ypres. The front line of the Salient was here in 1914 and there was fierce fighting in the area over the next three years, during which the village was totally destroyed. The road from Ypres to Hooge leads past the infamous Hellfire Corner, once one of the most dangerous spots in the Salient. Today it is no longer a corner; it is now a roundabout. As Robert is simply listed as died, he was probably wounded by sniper fire, shrapnel or shells and evacuated to the military hospital at Etaples. The Menin Road

7 The Salient in winter was like Dante’s Inferno. Shell holes full of slime, mud everywhere. Many men were wounded and trying to get back to Dressing Stations slipped in holes and were drowned. The Menim Road up to the Salient from Ypres they reckon claimed 900 a month Letter from Private Tom MacDonald, Royal Sussex Regiment

8 Joseph Hattle, 13 th Battalion Rifle Brigade Joseph Hattle originally came from the Scottish borders, and is listed in the 1901 census as a 16 year-old farmer’s son from Swinton Duns, Berwickshire. We do not know why he moved to Thorpe Thewles. He enlisted in Hartlepool and arrived in France at the end of July 1915. Joseph was killed in action on 25 th January 1916, aged 44. He is buried at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, behind the front line. As he is the only member of the Rifle Brigade to be buried there, it is possible that he was the victim of a sniper, schrapnel or a trench raid. He was probably not married as on his death he is listed as the son of Jane Hattle. For the Duration, a book about the 13 th Rifle Brigade tells of a riotous Christmas 1915, for which an irate farmer next day demanded 250 francs, but accepted 75 francs in payment for damages. “We returned to the trenches soon afterwards. During the following weeks, nothing of much importance happened until January 28 th.” Foncquevillers Military Cemetery

9 BOMBED LAST NIGHT Bombed last night, Bombed the night be- fore Gonna get bombed tonight if we never get bombed any more. When we’re bombed, we’re scared as we can be. Oh God damnn the bombin' planes from Germany. They’re over us, they’re over us, One shell-hole for the four of us Glory be to God there are no more of us 'Cause one of us could fill it all alone. Gassed last night—gassed the night before, Gonna get gassed again if we never git gassed no more, When we’re gassed, we’re as sick as we can be, 'Cause phosgene and mustard gas is too much for me. Song from the trenches

10 Sergeant John Thomas Bee, 16 th Battalion, Northumberland Fusilliers John Bee’s medal roll card suggests that he may have been accidently killed. He died, aged 24, on 21 st August 1916, and is listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being the son of Phyllis Bee of Carlton Station, Ferryhill Co. Durham and the late John Bee. Neither appear on the 1901 census. There is a John W. Bee listed in 1901, living in an orphanage in Knaresborough with his sister. The railway connection was a strong one, as John Bee joined the North Eastern Railway Pioneers. He features on the roll of honour for N.E.R. Men who laid down their lives for King and Country: Bee, J.T.H., Gangman, Norton-on-Tees, Sergt, Nrthd. Fus John Bee is buried at Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery, Arras. Faubourg was used by field ambulances at this time. In mid- August 1916, British forces were making “considerable progress” near Pozières, about 20 miles NE of Amiens.

11 It has been raining here everyday this week which makes things very uncomfortable, heaps of mud and lice including rats of course, but getting quite used to the same now, my skin is quite raw owing to keeping on rubbing myself, haven’t had a chance of getting water to wash a shirt out but hope to do something towards comfort tomorrow. Private A. H Hubbard, London Scottish, writing from the Somme front in May 1916

12 Albert Nelmes, Private 4 th Brigade Yorkshire Regiment The son of William and Louisa Nelmes, of Zetland Terrace in New Marske, Albert was killed in action on 15 th September 1915. This was the start of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, in which tanks were used for the first time. This is the Battalion War diary for this day: 15th SEPTEMBER. The assault took place at 6.22 a.m. The order of attack was "Z" Coy right, "X" Coy centre and "W" Coy left. "Y" Coy were in Reserve. Brigade order was 4th East Yorks, 4th Yorks and 5th Yorks. Division order was 47th Div Right, 50th Div centre and 15th Div left. The 150th Bde advanced in good order and quickly gained the first objective, Hook Trench. By 7.58 they were in the second. But High Wood and Martinpuich was still in the hands of the Germans. The 47th Div and the 149th Brigade on the right and East Yorks on the left were held up. By 9.57 the 150th Brigade had taken the final objective with men in Prue trench. But the the 4th Yorks right flank was "up in the air" [Open to German fire from the side.] at the junction of Prue Trench and Martin Alley. This position was held despite terrific shelling which caused heavy casualties. By 10 a.m the 15th Div had taken Martinpuich and by 1 p.m 47 Div had taken High Wood. The following 26 men of the 4th Yorks were killed in action this day and have no known grave. They are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial..... Albert Nelmes is listed among those who fell Allied trenches are shown in blue, German in red

13 The battle resulted in a 2 kilometre advance for the British. The tanks were slow, and only 15 of the 49 tanks that started made it to No-Man’s- Land, because of the mud. “Men came back absolutely weary, worn out and wet through. Nothing had been done for their welfare at all. It was absolutely inconceivable how the fighting efficiency of the men could be kept up under these conditions. Fortunately the rain ceased about noon and men were enabled in some way to dry their soaking clothes in the sun.“ Battalion war diary Between 14 th and 30 th September, the Brigade lost 98 men, many from the Teesside area and North Yorkshire. Private Nelmes is buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz. He is the youngest of those commemorated on Thorpe Thewles War Memorial

14 Thomas William Wailes, 8 th Battalion, Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment Private Thomas Wailes won the Military medal, awarded to personnel of the British Army below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. Thomas Wailes died of his wounds on 30 th September 1916; his Military Medal is listed in the London Gazette of December 9 th 1916, but the actual citation was lost in bombing in the Second World War, together with many other Great War records. On enlistment, Thomas Wailes’ occupation is given as horseman, but he came from a railway family. His enlistment papers give his home address as Station House Thorpe Thewles; his mother’s name is given as Isabella Ormston, and his stepfather was station master there. Private Wailes died of his wounds following in an action known as the Battle of Morval, which raged from 25 th – 28 th September 1916. This was a continuation of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, in which Albert Nelmes died on September 15 th. British troops at the Battle of Morval

15 War Diary 8 th Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment Martinpuich 28 th September 7pm B Coy 11 th Sherwood Foresters attacked DESTREMONT FARM, but before reaching their objective were met with heavy machine gun and rifle fire and returned to their own trenches. Martinpuich 29 th September 12 midnight Orders were received for us to take the above named farm without delay. C Coy were detailed. The attack was launched promptly at 6am and was entirely successful, despite the fact that almost 800 yards of open ground had to be traversed by our men. The men charged with great spirit, cheering when just approaching their objective. The enemy offered very little resistance and fled in disorder, leaving a number of dead men and one machine gun, which was brought back by our men. British troops at Morval

16 War Diary 8 th Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment The farm was immediately consolidated and one platoon commanded by 2 nd Lieut. J. W. Medley left as a garrison The Farm was heavily shelled during the whole of the day and caused several casualties among the garrison. During the day 2 nd Lieut Medley was wounded. Lieut T. H. Searles then took command and he too was seriously wounded. 2 nd Lieuts N. Gavin-Taylor, R. Turner and finally Lieut. J. Goldspink all in turn commanded the garrison..... Casualties – 2 nd Lieut J.V.Medley wounded (slight) 3 other ranks killed and 14 wounded. Sometimes evidence is interesting because of what it does not say. Only commissioned officers are named and there is no mention here of Tom Wailes’ heroism

17 Alfred was the son of one of the gamekeepers at Wynyard Hall. He arrived in France on 29 th July 1915 and was killed in action on 14 th November 1916, aged 25. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and does not have a specific grave. He died in the battle to take Beaucourt, part of the battle of the Somme. The Brigade War Diary states that they had been sent up to the line on the 13 th September. The battalion left bivouacs in Hedauville and moved to advanced Div. H.Q. (63rd R.N.D.) just South of Englebelmer and was placed at the disposal of 63rd (R.N.) Division. At 3.15 pm the Battalion moved to Mesnil, on through Hamel to the Green Line west of Station Road. This position was reached about midnight. Hostile barrage was put on the track and the Battalion suffered about 40 casualties - 2 officers being wounded. Alfred Gaylor, Rifleman, Prince Consort’s Own Brigade

18 14/11/16. At 4 am orders were received to attack at 6.15 am. The Battalion was to attack Beaucourt Trench, from Railway Alley to a point 400 yards N.W. It was to keep touch with the H.A.C. on the right and the 14th Royal Fusiliers on the left, who were to take Beaucourt Trench from the left of this Battalion to Leave Avenue. The Battalion was held up by Rifle and M.G. fire at 6.10 am to 7.15 am. The barrage (first one) of our artillery had been very high, but the second barrage enabled the advance to be resumed and by 8 am Beaucourt Trench was captured to a point 300 yards N.W. or Railway Alley. The men who assaulted Beaucourt Trench where it cuts the village of Beaucourt, found that the enemy had evacuated it and were forming up to surrender. These were captured and several of our parties who went into the village, captured many more of the enemy after a little opposition. The 13th Royal Fusiliers had come up on the right of the Battalion, but the left flank of the Battalion was exposed, the enemy sniping heavily from this flank. Hostile barrage was very slight until 11.30 am. "D" Company started bombing up Beaucourt Trench towards Leave Avenue and by midnight had advanced 300 yards.

19 John Pinch was a sapper with the 227 th Company of Royal Engineers. His father was a railway platelayer and in 1901 he lived with his parents at no 4, Wynyard Station. Matthew Metcalfe, who was killed in Palestine, lived two doors down, at no 6. John enlisted in Stockton, and was killed in action on 22 nd October 1917, aged 26. This was the dreadful time of Passchendaele, and the most intense artillery concentrations of the whole war. With his railway background, he was quite possibly involved in laying a light railway in preparation for the Second Battle of Passchendaele which began on 26 th October. Light railways were used to transport and supply troops, and also to evacuate the wounded. John H. Pinch, Royal Engineers There was no specific action on the day John died, but artillery action at this time was intense, and working parties were often caught up in it. John is the only Royal Engineer to be buried at Talana Farm Cemetery in Belgium.

20 Martin Smith, 10 th Battalion Scottish Rifles Martin Smith was the son of a woodman who lived at 48 Springbank, Grindon. In 1901, Martin is already listed as a labourer at the age of 14. By the time war broke out, Martin would have been 29. He was married. He enlisted in Stockton and died of his wounds, probably in Etaples where there were several military hospitals. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery. He died as troops were amassing for the major battle of Spring 1918, known as the Kaiserschlacht (The Emperor’s Battle) or First Battle of Arras. As he was not killed in action, it is likely that he was wounded in everyday trench activity, such as shelling, sniping, trench raids and so on. Kaiserschlacht

21 The Kaiserschlacht: 21 st March 1918 In March 1918, the Germans decided to launch a massive offensive on the Western front to bid for victory before the increasingly engaged Americans could affect the balance of power. Their principal target was the British Army. The attack began on 21 st March with a brief hurricane bombardment, with the initial strike on British batteries, strong points and command posts. I was awakened at 4 a.m. by the most terrific gunfire I had ever heard. Only by shouting on the phone could I find out that all Batteries were answering on SOS Targets. The front line was one blaze of exploding shells and high bursting shrapnel. ‘Very’ lights and every coloured rocket imaginable. Long range guns were sweeping the back areas, and about ten minutes after the firing started a shell burst just outside our dug-out and blew up the telephone lines to Corps HQ and to Batteries! As none of our infantry were seen we concluded they had been wiped out..... Second Lieutenant E. J. Ruffell, 342 Siege Battery. Paul Nash, Ypres Salient at Night 1917 - 1918

22 Matthew Metcalfe, 179 th Company, Machine Gun Corps Like John Pinch, Matthew Metcalfe lived at Wynyard Station. His father, like John Pinch’s dad, was also a platelayer. Unlike the other Great War casualties from Thorpe Thewles, Matthew Metcalfe is buried in Palestine, in the Ramleh War Cemetery. He died of his wounds on 14 th January 1918. Ramleh was used as a casualty clearing station. The 179 th Company of the Machine Guns Corps were part of the 60 th Division, who had been active at the end of December in the Defence of Jerusalem. It is possible that he was wounded here. Jerusalem had been captured by Allied Forces under General Allenby before Christmas, but the opposing Turkish army immediately counter-attacked, leading to the Defence of Jerusalem. British artillery placements during the Battle of Jerusalem, 1917.

23 What we don’t know So this is what we have found out so far about the soldiers from Thorpe Thewles who died in the Great War. There is so much that we don’t know about their lives before 1914, and about how their families coped with their loss. And of course, the fatalities were only part of the story. Others, like Albert Fishburn and the McLaren sons were disabled and all involved in the Great War will have been affected for the rest of their lives by their experiences in the trenches. Can you help us with your family’s story? If you can, please get in touch!

24 ©Thorpe Thewles History Group November 2008

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