Battle of Flers-Courcelettes.
The orange area was the sector to be attacked by 150 Brigade with the 4th Yorks Battalion in the Centre.
The trenches between the French villages of Bazentin Le Petit and Martinpuich are shown as they were held before
the assault. Blue lines for British held and Red for German.
The 4th Yorks Btn in Eye Trench had 3 objectives as shown and reached the third, but at great expense.
The 50th Division were to take part in their first "set" Battle to further Haig's plan for
the Battle of the Somme. The area of their operations is shown on the map.
As can be seen their position was further forward than the rest of the line and with the
Germans in High Wood and Martinpuich any further advance would leave them exposed to fire from the front and both sides.
The 149th Brigade were particularly open to the enemy in High Wood. Nevertheless the plan was to advance immediately
on the 15th and capture the three objectives shown. The Germans had been subjected to heavy artillery bombardment
from the 12th and the attack was to be accompanied by a creeping barrage and for the first time tanks.
Actually in the 50th Division's sector only 2 tanks were used on the left flank near Martinpuich.|
The official despatch reads:- At 6.30 a.m [15th Sept] the Infantry assault commenced and at the same moment the
bombardment became intense. Our new heavily armoured cars, known as Tanks, now brought into action for the first time,
successfully co-operated with the Infantry and coming as a surprise to the enemy rank and file, gave valuable help
in breaking down their resistance"
14th SEPTEMBER. The Battalion moved from Shelter Wood to O.G. line at 8 p.m, where stores were distributed.
They then moved to assembly trenches, Eye Trench, trench immediately behind that and Swansea Trench. This was a matter
of extreme difficulty as neither of the Battalions on the flanks had left the Communication Trenches available. The
positions had to be occupied over the open and this was noticed by the Germans. They opened a barrage causing 40
2Lt Robert Bernard Abrahams The son of Lewis and Millie Abrahams of 6, Stafford House, Maida Hill, London.
He had been admitted in July 1913 as a Solicitor to the family firm of Roberts, Abrahams and Co, Basinghall St, London E C.
He joined the London University Officer Training Corps in July of 1915 and was commissioned with the 4th battalion in September 1915.
1714 Pte Pickersgill Harry. Born and enlisted at Richmond N Yorks. Killed in action.
Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz.
2166 Pte Skinner John, Robert. Born and enlisted at Redcar, N Yorks. Killed in action.
Age 23. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
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.
Two 4th Battalion Officers outside tarpaulin "tent" hut.
Location and identities not known.
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 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
3439 Pte Lorains William, Rippon. Home at 8 St Hildas Cottages, Church St, Whitby, N Yorks.
Enlisted at Guisborough N Yorks. Age 36.
201382 Pte Armstrong William. Enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
5471 Pte Brown Harold, Charles. Born Leeming N Yorks and enlisted Northallerton.
British Tank. |
The first tanks were even more primitive and the Battle of Flers Courcelettes was notable for
their first use.
Still unreliable and moving at only half a mile per hour only 15 of the 49 that started made it to No Man's Land.
They were said, though, to have had an uplifting effect on British morale and the opposite on
High Wood and the villages of Martinpuich, Flers and Courcelettes were taken in a
201949 Pte Coates Stanley. Home at Nunthorpe, N Yorks. Born Whitkirk, Yorks and enlisted
Stokesley, N Yorks.
4907 Pte Dobson Isaac. Age 35. Home at Lingdale N Yorks. Enlisted Richmond, N Yorks on the 14th Sep 1914.
Isaac was unmarried and had been born at Commondale, N Yorks in 1882. He worked as an Ironstone miner before the War.
His brother, William also served in the Yorkshire Regiment.
3427 Pte Downes Mark, Kirton. Home at - 1 Mulgrave Rd, W Hartlepool, Co Durham. Enlisted
at Middlesbrough. Age 19.
Sign from the area preserved in the Imperial War Museum.|
3931 Pte Ferguson Harrie, Leonard. Home at - 69 Borough Rd, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, town
of enlistment. Age 20. |
3007 Pte Fishwick Joseph. Home at - Loftus N Yorks. Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland,
N Yorks. Age 19.
201258 Pte Gill James. Home at N Ormesby, Middlesbrough N Yorks, town of enlistment.
2072 Cpl Goodchild Samuel. Born and enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
Field Marshal Douglas Haig.|
He was a Cavalry Officer of the Old School and, it is said, did not have
much faith in the Tank as the weapon of the future. He had been Commander in Chief of the British Army since
replacing Sir John French in December 1915. Haig was responsible for the offensive on the Somme, which started at
the end of June 1916 and went on into the autumn. He has been blamed for sending so many young men to their
deaths [600,000 Allied troops]. He argued that it had been necessary to force the Germans to divide their
resources, as earlier in the year they had looked like overcoming the French at Verdun, which, had it happened,
could have meant the War was lost. As one French General observed, once the lines were drawn in this War of attrition to the end,
thousands on both sides were inevitably going to die.
200644 Pte Hall George, Walton. Home at Boosbeck N Yorks. Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland,
N Yorks. Thiepval Memorial|
3309 Pte Harrison Fred. Home at - 8 Jackson St, Brotton, N Yorks. Enlisted at Skelton
in Cleveland, N Yorks. Age 23.
1480 Pte Hewson George. Home at - 48 Marsh St, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, place of birth and
enlistment. Age 24.
4069 Pte Hitchen Thomas. Home at 6 Maltby St, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
200793 Pte Hodgson James, Richard. Home at Loftus, N Yorks.
4572 Pte Husband Joseph, William. Home at - 133 Duncombe St, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, place
of enlistment. Age 23.
Pte Edward Gibson.|
4813 Pte Longstaff Robert. Born and enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
201889 Pte Macken James. Home at - S Otterington N Yorks. Born at Castlebar, Co Mayo.
Enlisted at Northallerton.
4236 Pte Mainforth George. Home at - Carlin How N Yorks. Enlisted at Saltburn, N
3254 Pte Marsay Francis, George. Home at - Haredale Farm, Moorsholm, Skelton, N Yorks
3779 Pte Royer George, Arthur. Enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
200440 Pte Smith James, W. Born and enlisted at Northallerton, N Yorks.
201662 Pte Smith James, W. Home at 7 Aysdalegate Cottages, Charltons, Boosbeck, N Yorks.Enlisted
at Guisborough. Age 19.
Pte Robert Ernest Waller.
L/Cpl Charles Waller.
3251 Pte Waller Robert, Ernest. Home at 28 Oxford St, Boosbeck, N Yorks, Enlisted at
Saltburn, N Yorks. |
[According to information provided by Simon Jervis, who kindly also contributed these photographs, Robert's medal index
card shows that he joined the
Battalion in Europe on the 19th October 1915.
He had a brother, L/Cpl Charles Waller in the 4th Battalion. He enlisted
in December 1914 and was discharged due to sickness 21st November 1917.
Three other brothers served during the War, Arthur S Waller in the Royal Navy; Cpl William Waller, 1st Bn Northumberland
Fusiliers and Jack [John] Waller in the A I F.]
201062 Pte Watson William. Home at 38 Back Lane, Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorks.
Born Normanby. Enlisted at Northallerton. N Yorks. Age 27.
3231 Pte Nelmes Albert. Home at 2 Zetland Tce, New Marske N Yorks.
Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorks.Age 20. Buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz.
The following three men were killed in action and are buried at Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont.
Capt T S Rowlandson. M.C.
3867 Pte Williams Daniel. Home at 64 Waterloo Rd, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, place of
enlistment. Age 18.
3748 Pte Cleaver Charles. Born Grangetown, Middlesbrough and enlisted at Saltburn, N Yorks.
201060 Pte Gibson Edward. Home at - N Ormesby N Yorks. Enlisted at Northallerton.
[Photograph kindly contributed by Mick Trainor of New Marske, N Yorks.]
Capt Thomas Sowerby Rowlandson. M.C. Age 36. Killed in action. Home at Newton Morrell, Darlington, the son of Samuel and Isabel
He was born at Newton Morrell in 1880 and educated at Charterhouse and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1901.
There he won a blue at Association Football and went on to play in goal regularly for Corinthians FC.
Later he played in the
Football League for Newcastle United in season 1905/6 and had a spell with Sunderland.
He took an England amateur team to South Africa, Budapest, Norway, Sweden and Canada and had FA Amateur International Caps.
A newspaper cutting says - "He was a very great goalkeeper, probably about the best amateur in that position ever seen."|
He became a Justice of the Peace for the North Riding of Yorks.
When War broke out he gave his home over to the Red Cross to as act as an Auxiliary Home Hospital.
He was commissioned into the 2/4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment on the 5th September 1914 and transferred to the 1/4th Battalion
in January 1915.
He was with the Battn when they first went out to France on 18th April 1915 and was made Temporary Captain on the 8th
October of the same year.
He was in the New Year's Honours list for Jan 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
The Battalion Adjutant wrote of him:-
‘I have always thought him the finest type of Englishman I have ever
known, and his death was just as fine as his life.
He died where of all places I think he would have chosen if it had to be - on the parapet of a German trench at the head of his men.|
A Bosche bomb hit him on the shoulder, death must have been instantaneous.
Pte George Fowler.
No words of mine can tell you what he was to us, and how the
battalion will miss him.’|
He is buried in Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt.
3884 Pte Fowler George was shot in the face on this day and never returned to service with the Infantry.
According to his sister-in-law -
"A bullet went through his cheek and lodged in the roof of his mouth. It was removed, but he was left with a hole at the site, covered with dental plate for the rest of his life"
He had been born in Aiskew, near Bedale, N Yorks on 26 Oct 1897. Home at Plews Yard, Aiskew.
He had volunteered, while still aged 17 in 1914. He had joined the 4th Yorks abroad in October 1915 upon reaching the age of 18.
After hospitalisation in the UK, he was transferred, as 330772, to the 510st Company of the Labour Corps on the 4th August 1917 and later, as 139915, to the Royal Army Flying Corps on the 26th January 1918.
The photograph shows him in RFC uniform, the jacket often being referred to as the "Maternity Jacket". On his right sleeve is the "Trumpeters" proficiency badge, which was almost certainly earned during his service with
the 4th Yorks Battalion. His left sleeve shows 2 Wound stripes, but the only details known are of him being shot on this day. His Right sleeve shows chevrons for 2 years overseas service.
He married on 21st June 1919 and was discharged from the services in October of that year.
This information and photograph have been kindly contributed by his Great Grandson, Martin Fowler of North Lincolnshire.