Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own
Page 35. Oct/Nov 1916. Flers Line.

The 7.92 mm Mauser was standard issue to the German Army.
It had a 5 cartridge magazine, each one having to be loaded by a manual bolt mechanism.
An optical sight could be fitted, which in the hands of an expert sniper turned it into a deadly weapon for anyone in the opposing trenches careless enough to put his head above the parapet.
The Short Magazine Lee Enfield, 0.303 in, was standard issue to the British troops.
It had a 10 cartridge magazine with a spring mechanism which put the next round in position for manual reloading. A well-trained Infantryman marksman could fire 15 killer shots in less than a minute.
When the Germans were first on the receiving end, it is said, they mistakenly thought that they were facing multiple machine guns.

4201 L/Cpl Snow John, H. Old Fleeton Peterborough. Enlisted at Northallerton, N Yorks. Died of wounds. Age 36. Buried at Netley [Hospital near Southampton] Military Cemetery.
22nd OCTOBER. The Btn continued training and on this day marched to Mametz Wood where they relieved 5th Borders in Camp. Next day the whole Btn worked on roads.

24th OCTOBER. The Btn took over Prue and Starfish trench from the 12th Btn Royal Scots.

25th OCTOBER. The whole relief was very hurried and no notice was given until the order to move.
No one had been round the line. The weather was very wet and the mud appalling. 11 other ranks were wounded.

A/Capt William Liley Batty was killed in action. Home at "North View", Drighlington, Bradford, Yorks.
Before the War he had been a scholarship student at the Royal College of Art, where he carried out an artist's commission for the art critic and explorer Sir Martin Conway [subsequently the first Director General of the Imperial War Museum].
He terminated his studies when War was declared and joined the London University Officer Training Corps in October 1914.
He received his commission in July 1915. He was promoted to Captain on the 16 September 1916, aged 24.
"He was wounded in the Battalion’s action at Eaucourt L’Abbye in early October but refused to let this hold him back. On the night of 24/25th October with the Battalion ordered up to the line to provide a relief Captain Batty though still suffering with his wounds remained at duty and moved up with his men."
[From "A Memorial Roll of the Officers of Alexandra Princess of Wales Own Yorkshire Regiment Who Died 1914 – 1919." Compiled by Robert Coulson (1952 – 2008)]

A/Captain William Liley Batty.

A report describes him as "going forward on a reconnaissance with another officer and being blown to pieces by a shell".
William Batty’s body was never found and his name is today inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing high on the Somme battlefield.
2Lt John Burgoyne Hudson was killed in action. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
3110 Pte Blenkey John. Home at - 7 Oldham St, Lingdale, N Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorks. Killed in action. Age 24. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
7513 Pte Carey Roy. Home at Guisborough, N Yorks. Died of wounds. Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.
4019 Pte Martin William. Enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks. Killed in action. Buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery.

26th OCTOBER. Reinforcements received - 2nd Lts W.L. James. R Edwards. G.R. Cole. M.M. Thomas. H. Laxton. R. Campbell. G.F. Dell. H. Lawrence. And Capt C. Sproxton rejoined.

27th OCTOBER. Considerable shelling of forward areas. 5 other ranks were wounded.
2nd Lt Arthur Coates , age 23, was killed in action. Home at Fulwood, Preston, Lancs. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
28th to 31st OCTOBER. The Btn was relieved by the 6th Yorks and came to the High Wood area where there was no accommodation.
Weather extremely bad and no shelter for troops at all.
Diary is signed off by Major B.H. Charlton.

German Artillery battery on receiving end.
[Picture courtesy of - "The Heritage of the Great War".].

3183 Pte Taylor Henry, Paul, Laing. Home at Skelton in Cleveland and enlisted at Boosbeck, N Yorks. Died of wounds. Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.
1st NOVEMBER. The Btn relieved 4th East Yorks in forward area.


2618 CSM Barker Henry. Home at New Marske, N Yorks. Enlisted at Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorks. Before the War he worked at North Skelton Ironstone Mine. Killed in action. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for "conspicuous gallantry in action" earlier in this Somme offensive, when he was a Serjeant.
The London Gazette of 26th November 1916 records that:-
"He led a bombing attack into the enemy's trench and established a double block. Later, he skilfully withdrew his men after inflicting many casualties on the enemy."
6218 Pte Underwood George, William. Enlisted at Oundle, Northants. Killed in action. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
3rd NOVEMBER. Btn moved forward from High Wood to Flers Line and Flers Support.

Trench Foot.
Many soldiers, particularly in the early part of the War developed this condition through standing for hours in water and mud.
The feet become numb and in bad cases start to rot with infection and become gangrenous. The only cure for this was amputation.
Covering the feet in grease and frequent changes of socks were found to be preventative measures.
Hence the concern here by the Btn for socks to be brought up with the rations.
[Photo retouched copy by this website.]

The heavy rains had made these trenches very bad - owing to undercutting the sides had fallen in.
Mud and water were from a foot to six inches deep. Very little shelling except at a Battery of Field Guns immediately behind Flers line, which the Diary complains was directing shell fire at the men in the Trenches.

7th NOVEMBER. Moved forward to relieve 4th East Yorks in Front Line. HQ at Hexham Rd.
The condition of Pioneer Alley was very bad.
Mud was very deep and enemy's shell fire on the Alley was very accurate and repeatedly blew it in. It was extremely difficult to get hot food and dry socks up to the Front line.
Cooking was done at HQ and sent up at 6 p.m and 5 a.m.
Socks came up with rations.
Enemy's sniping was very brisk until a Lewis Gun was run forward into a shell hole to sweep the front at intervals. This proved effective.

4358 Pte Fysh Herbert. Home at N Ormesby, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, town of enlistment. Killed in action, aged 20. He had served abroad with the Battalion since the 9th October 1915. In May of that year he had married Ivy Hendy in Middlesbrough and pension records show that Ivy was left with a child that Herbert probably never saw. Ivy married again in 1917 William Duffill. Herbert is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
6211 Pte Hardwick Arthur William Home at 48 Artizan Rd, Northampton, town of birth and enlistment. Died 161107 20 Allonville Communal Cemetery. Ex Northants Regt.

Pension record showing £2 10s 10d paid to Herbert Fysh's widow and one child. Many young widows with children re-married virtually out of necessity as this was barely enough to run a home.

10th NOVEMBER. The Btn were relieved by the 4th Btn Northumberland Fusiliers and moved back to Mametz Wood, where they stayed until the 13th. More working parties. A bath for all ranks under Regimental arrangements at the Transport lines.
2Lt Harold Morris Thomas. Killed in action. Buried at Warlencourt British Cemetery.
Capt John Serginson Killed in action aged 26. He first served in the 4th Battalion as an other rank with Army number 2493 and under the name Searginson.
He was the son of Charles John Serginson, a farmer and hay dealer and Mary Serginson of West Farm, Normanby, N Yorks.
At the 1911 census he is recorded as a school teacher at West Dyke School, Redcar.
He was an old boy of Middlesbrough High School and is commemorated on the school memorial plaque which is now displayed in Middlesbrough College. He was buried, but the area destroyed in subsequent shelling and he is commemorated on Special Memorial 9 in Warlencourt British Cemetery.
Go to Next page - Nov 1916, Front between Martinpuich and Flers.
Go to Previous page - Oct 1916, Training, Back to Martinpuich.
Go Back to Contents.