The gun had been invented in 1911 by an American Colonel Lewis, but was quickly brought into service by the British in 1915.
Its main advantages were that it weighed 28 pounds and could be fired by a single soldier.
The machine gun then in use, the Vickers, needed a team of men, weighed twice as much and cost six times as much.
All the infantry riflemen were instructed in its use, one man carrying the gun and firing while a second carried
the ammunition and reloaded.
Bedford House Cemetery.
Situated about 2k South of Ypres and just west of Zillebeke on the site of Chateau Rosendal.
25 men of the 4th Yorks Battalion are buried here.
[Picture courtesy of - "WW1Cemeteries.com".]
14th FEBRUARY, The dump was shelled at intervals during the day, but everything was comparatively quiet until 3 p.m
when the Germans began to bombard.|
A barrage was fired down "the cutting and also between Verbranden Molen and the Dump".
To the right of the Bn the shelling appeared to be slightly more heavy, if possible.
At 5 p.m the enemy exploded a Mine under H1 bombing sap, but did not attempt to occupy the crater it caused.
The bombardment continued until 8 p.m, when it slackened slightly.
It was then possible to take account of the damage done by the Germans. 13 men had been killed and 5 men badly bruised
by the explosion of the mine.
Trenches 37L and 38 were breached in two places and the Lewis Gun in 38 trench buried, but was dug out during the
height of the bombardment.
The edge of the crater was immediately held after the explosion and work commenced digging through to it.
Support and all communication trenches were badly knocked about.
Two men were dug out alive from the trench near the crater and one man picked up alive after having been blown 40
yards. He died soon after he had been brought in.
The Brigade HQ Diary recorded -
"The 4th Yorkshires [Green Howards] in spite of their losses (1 officer killed,
2 wounded, 20 other ranks killed and 51 wounded) from the bombardments and explosion of mines, were cheerful and
The South Staffs reported that they were out of grenades and 36 boxes were sent to them.
One of the 4th Yorks wrote home to a friend in Redcar:-|
We have had a black week. The 14th February opened very calm, it was just like a Spring day, but suddenly the air became alive with Taubes - at least 22 - who dropped bombs right and left, doing a lot of damage and knocking out a number of soldiers.
After this they shelled our trenches right and left. It was very heavy and large number of men were driven into the centre, which was clear of shells.
A number of men got blown into the air and on reaching the ground got buried with the debris, whilst others suffered severely.
A view of Railway Dugouts Cemetery before the Commonwealth War Graves Commission began work.
The following men were killed in action this day and all are buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground:-
3940 Pte Beswick George, Digby. Born at Middleham.
Enlisted at Masham, N Yorks.
399 CSM Binks John. Home at - 127 High St, Marske, N Yorks, place of Birth.
Enlisted Redcar, N Yorks. Age 37.
He belonged to a respected Marske family. The period of his service with the Territorials expired this Spring, but he had intimated his intention to continue and was about to proceed home on leave in order to be married to a Coatham young lady, in fact, the Banns were published for the first time on Sunday last. He was serving with the Territorials on the outbreak of War and was promoted Sgt before leaving England. He was promoted to Company Sgt Major some weeks ago.
Lieut G H Hutchingson wrote to his father, Mr E J Binks, that his place will be difficult to fill. A Sgt Major's post is not an easy one. Your son did splendid work and there has never been a hitch whilst he was Sgt Major.
"I feel his loss more than I am able to express, especially at a time like the present. Feb 14th was without doubt the saddest day of my life. I have lost many friends, both officers and men."
3326 Pte Blundy George W. Born in Harby, Notts and his family lived in North Collingham. He had enlisted at
Saltburn, N Yorks, as before the War he was a Footman at Skelton Castle along with another 14 Servants.
2168 Pte Douglas Sydney. Home at - 4 Granville Tce, Redcar, N Yorks, town of birth
and enlistment. Age 24.
3155 Pte Dove Sydney. Home at Lingdale N Yorks. Enlisted at Margrove Park, N Yorks.
Killed in action
3194 Pte Eddon Robert. Born and enlisted at Guisborough N Yorks.
593 Sgt Foxton James. Born at South Bank, Middlesbrough and enlisted at Redcar, N Yorks.
Lieut G H Hutchinson wrote home to his mother, who lived at 15 Palmerston St, Middlesbrough, saying that Platton Sgt Foxton's work was arduous and important, but it was splendidly carried out by him. He was always cool in the face of danger and did his duty well. He was buried 2 miles behind the lines in a cemetery for soldiers.
Cpl George Grey.
974 Cpl Grey George. Home at Stockton on Tees. Enlisted at Yarm N Yorks. |
Mr Grey, of Headlam House, Eaglescliffe, has received a letter notifying him of the death in action near Ypres of his eldest son. Corporal Grey had only reached the Front after furlough on Feb 1st.
GREY - Killed in action, near Ypres, February 14th,
Corporal Geo. E. M. Grey, 4th Yorks, beloved and
eldest son of
Geo. Grey, Headlands House, Eaglescliffe.
1838 Pte Haw John, Stanley. Home at - 30 Maison Diew, Richmond, N Yorks. Born at York
and enlisted at Redcar, N Yorks. Age 18.
1718 L/Cpl Henderson James. Home at - 93 High St, Redcar, N Yorks, place of birth
and enlistment. Age 21. |
Lieut Hutchingson wrote to his father expressing his sympathy and said that he would be a great loss to the company. He was promoted to Lance Corporal a few months ago and was in charge of a bombing post when the mine went off.
2882 Pte Hodgson George T. Home at West Loftus N Yorks.
News has been received by Mr and Mrs Hodgson of Chapel St, Brotton that one of their sons, Pte G Hodgson, of St Hilda's Tce was killed on February 14th. He leaves a widow and three children.
2148 Pte Hunter Tom. Born and enlisted at Northallerton, N Yorks.
3058 Pte Lawson Thomas, Kelsey. enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks. Family newspaper notice:-
LAWSON - Killed in action near Ypres, on February 14th,
Pte Thomas K Lawson.
T Kelsey, second son of T.W. and Mrs Lawson, "Lynton", |
Devonshire Rd, Linthorpe, aged 23, 4th Yorks Regt.
The Linthorpe Parish Church Men's Bible Class held a memorial service yesterday afternoon in the above Church, in memory of one their late members, Kelsey Lawson, of the 4th Yorks, whose death from shell wounds was announced a few days ago.
The deceased took an active part in Church league football and cricket and when the call came for a sterner fight, he was one of the first to offer himself.
[Photograph from Linthorpe Bible Class Memorial, kindly contributed by Mick Trainor of New Marske. N Yorks.]
2189 Pte Sproul John. Of "Y" Company. Home at 36 Aire St, South Bank, Middlesbrough.
Born Leith Scotland. Enlisted at Stokesley. Age 20.
3520 Pte Rumbello Gilbert. Home at Station Rd, North Ferriby, Yorks. Enlisted at Richmond, N Yorks. Age 25.
Born 1890 in Swanland, Sculcoates, Hull.|
The son of John Samuel Rumbello, [born Thornham, Norfolk in 1861, employed as a Butler and died North Ferriby in 1938] and Clementina Anita Hill, born Swanland, Yorkshire.
In 1911 Gilbert was employed as a shop assistant in an Ironmongers and boarding at 5 Pasture St, Beverley, Yorks.
[Thanks to David Taylor of the Great Ayton History Society for providing additional information on the 11 Ayton men who died during the course of the War, while serving with the 4th Battalion:-
William Ord, Ernest Pearson(Ayton Mine), Gilbert Rumbellow, Arthur Edward Wilkes (ironstone miner), Robert Theobald (ironstone miner), Richard Etherington, William Hindmarsh, Joseph Nicholls Baines (labourer at ironstone mine),
William Cockerill, Harold Surtees, Charles Wildman (Ayton Mine).]
Pte John Sproul.
2215 Sgt Martin Augustine. Born and enlisted at Northallerton, N Yorks.
Sgt Martin was married on 3rd November 1906 at Stockton Parish Church. His wife's
name was Nellie (nee Harland) with whom he lived at 3 New Row, Northallerton and they had one son.
Before the War he worked as an agent for the Refuge Insurance Company.
He was a very accomplished athlete and particularly enjoyed cross- country running. He was also a member of the
Northallerton Branch of the British Red Cross Society.
His photograph shows him in the uniform of the Army Service Corps and it is assumed therefore, that he was a member of
this Corps before joining the 4th Yorkshires, with whom he was serving, in "W" Company, when he was killed.
He was killed, aged 39, near Ypres at approximately 5.00 pm. on 14th February 1916, after the Germans exploded a mine
Sgt Augustine W Martin.
Killed in action, 14th Feb 1916.
under a bombing sap in the British trenches near Hill 60.|
The blowing of the mine was preceded by a bombardment which began two hours earlier.
The mine killed a total of 13 men. Two were dug out alive from a trench near the crater.
It is possible that Sergeant Martin was killed either by the mine explosion itself, or by a German sniper as he tried to
dig his comrades out.
The latter is believed to be true by his family who still have his prayer book, which appears to
have been damaged by the bullet which killed him.
He is buried in a single row of graves within the Cemetery which all contain the bodies of his comrades who were killed by the same mine
The following is an extract from a letter written to his wife by his Company Commander, Capt. N.W. Stead:-
"It is with very great regret that I have to inform you that your husband was killed in action on February 14th at about
He died as I am sure he would have wished, in doing his duty, and one of his last acts was to move some men from
a dug-out, an act which undoubtedly saved their lives.
May I express on behalf of the Company and myself, our sincerest sympathy for you in your heavy loss, and assure you
that we shall always remember the great example of patriotism and fearlessness under trying circumstances which he
Medal Card of William Dobson and Silver War Badge.|
The card shows that he went to France on 26 Aug 1915 and at
some later date he was wounded or medically discharged. Men were then awarded the SWB so that they could wear it on their
civilian dress and avoid the charge of cowardice often levelled at men of fighting age who remained at home, while most
had their menfolk "at the Front".
[Photo kindly contributed by William Dobson's great nephew, John Dobson]
He was an NCO we could ill afford to lose. Believe me."|
[Photo and information courtesy of - Northallerton Memorials
1533 Pte Topham Frederick, Hart. Home at 19 Vernon Gardens, Harrowgate Hill, Darlington,
Co Durham. Born at Richmond N Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Catterick, N Yorks. Age 20.
2642 Pte Wratten George, Edward. Aged 34/35. Born 1881 at Staithes, N Yorks. Home at 40 Ings Lane, Brotton, N Yorks in 1911 when he was recorded as a Labourer for a House Builder/Contractor.
Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland. He left a widow and 4 children. First arrived in France on the 9th Oct 1915, but had very likely been in the local Territorial Force prior to the outbreak of War.
Lieut Hutchinson wrote to Mrs Wratten:-
"I am very sorry to have to inform you that Pte G E Wratten was killed by the explosion of a Mine under our Trench on Feb 14th.
He was buried with soil, but dug out as soon as possible by his pals, but
Pte George Edward Wratten.
|life was extinct and we could nothing for him.|
I hope you will accept the sympathy of myself and the NCOs and men of this Company in your sad loss. He had only lately joined us and we were getting to know him when he was taken from us.
He was buried about 2 miles behind the line in a Cemetery for soldiers. I hope later to be able to obtain a photograph of his grave for you. His belongings will be sent to you by our Headquarters, but if I can do anything for you, I will be please to do so.
His photograph has been kindly contributed by his Great Grandson, Christopher Wratten of Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
The following two men have no known grave and are remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.:-
2861 Pte Hodgson Jacob. Of "Z" Company. Home at Skelton, Marske, Richmond, N Yorks.
3521 Pte Hogg Leonard. Home at 16 Tower St, Richmond, N Yorks. Age 21.
2 Lt Daglish James Wilson. 3rd Battn. Attached to 4th Battn and only just joined on the 12th Feb.
Killed in action on 14th February 1916. Buried at
Poperinghe New Military Cemetery.