Princess of Wales's Own
Local Newspaper Reports on the
4th Battalion at the Battle of St Julien.
North-Eastern Daily Gazette|
WEDNESDAY. 28 APRIL 1915.
Residents in the North Riding will be interested to learn that the Territorial infantry unit drawn from their district has already had its
baptism of fire.
It is not yet known definitely whether they have actually been in the fighting line, but at any rate, if they have not occupied the
trenches they have been within the zone of fire, for according to messages from the front nine members of the 4th Yorks have been
wounded, but fortunately not very seriously.
The battalion reached France a week past Sunday, so that only a few days elapsed before they arrived in the danger zone.
What has occurred since Saturday is not known, but it seems that a section of the battalion at least were formed up on Saturday a few
miles behind the trenches when a shell burst with the result that a number of the Territorials were wounded by shrapnel. One officer was
injured but not seriously.
Surgeon Major Legh de Legh of Redcar is attached to this battalion and according to accounts received he had a narrow escape while in the
act of attending to the wounds of one man, a shell bursting and destroying a portion of a wagon near where he had been standing.
Shells were evidently falling in the neighbourhood and there is little doubt that the North Riding men behaved splendidly during their
first experience of actual warfare.
Word has been received by Mr J Dargles of Picton House, Redcar that his son Sidney has been wounded and a card has also been received
by Mrs White, who is staying at 12 Cleveland St stating that her husband is now in hospital in Manchester. The card was sent by Pte White
and indicates that he is going on well.
An Incident Within the Zone of Fire.
REDCAR SURGEON MAJOR.
Has a Narrow Escape While Attending Wounded.
LOCAL TERRITORIALS WOUNDED.
News has been received at Skelton that five members of the local detachment F Peggs, S Shaw, J Thornton, J Smith and J Holden have been
It is understood that some of them have already arrived in this country. All the men reside in Old Skelton with the exception of Holden,
who lives at North Skelton. Thornton is particularly well known, as he is the drummer in the battalion band, and Peggs is a butcher
employed by the Skelton Co-op Society. The others are miners. So far as is known their injuries are not very serious.
THURSDAY. 29 APRIL 1915.
Local Territorials Fight Like Heroes.
Well-known Middlesbrough Officers Killed.
When the full story of the doings of the local Territorials during the past week end come to be written the people
of Tees-side and Cleveland will have abundant rreason for pride in the achievements of their soldier sons.
That there was involved in severe fighting the brigade with which the local units of the Yorks and Durhams are
associated and that fairly heavy losses have been sustained may be accepted as correct, although no official statement
is yet forthcoming.
It must be gratifying to all who were interested in the Territorials in peace time, and who never wavered in their
view that if called upon they would demonstrate that they were not behind any of his Majesty's forces either in
courage or other qualities which have made the British soldier the finest fighting instrument in the World, to find them
so distinguishing themselves in action.
The losses will be mourned. But they could not be avoided.
The men of Tees-side and Cleveland all fought like heroes. They have made a name for themselves, and the district has
ample reason for being proud of them.
It is feared that the 4th Yorkshires have suffered heavily. They had to deliver a counter-attack in the teeth of a
terrible rifle and machine-gun fire, and there are indications that they did effective work with the bayonet. They drove
the enemy back and it is not too much to say that they saved a critical situation.
"The Battalion went into action as steadily as on parade; there was not a single shirker." Thus writes an officer from
the front. Surely there could be no finer tribute to any battalion.
It was a magnificent attack, splendidly executed and the North Riding men earned the warm praise of the general in
charge of Operations. [General Plumer.]
|Lt Leonard Percy I'Anson.
[Photograph and all information kindly contributed by Kevin Galloway of Thornaby.]
He forwarded a message to Colonel Bell, commanding the 4th Yorks,
declaring that the brilliance of
the attack had saved a most critical situation and conveyed his personal thanks to the
troops and desired this to be known to the members of the battalion.|
The conduct of the 4th Yorks at a very trying moment evoked praise from others. These men only left Newcastle the week
previous and soon got an opportunity of showing what fine fighting material they are made of. They have justified the
confidence with which the people of the North Riding have always regarded them.
They have soon established a reputation. Once won it is not likely to be lost.
Capt Nancarrow Killed.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Captain J Nancarrow, son of Mr and Mrs G B Nancarrow of Middlesbrough
who has been killed in action.
Lt I'Anson Killed.
Residents of Saltburn and indeed throughout the whole of East Cleveland, today heard with deep regret the news that Lieut
L P I'Anson in charge of the Skelton Company of Territorials had paid the supreme penalty of love of his country by
sacrificing his life on the battlefield in Flanders.
The sad tidings were conveyed in a letter to the bereaved parents at Saltburn. It was from Colonel M L Bell, the
commanding officer of the 4th Yorks Battalion, and from it may be gathered that the 4th Yorks have this week covered
themselves with glory in the severe fighting which is almost daily reported.
The letter is dated Tuesday and says:-
"It is with bitter grief that I report poor Leonard's death. He dropped dead, shot through the heart. No pain.
He was a magnificent officer, loved by all. It was a critical situation and the General complimented the battalion
on their work. Leonard would be proud if he only knew."
Lieut I'Anson was about 38 years old and was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs W I'Anson of Bardencroft, Saltburn. Educated
at Bootham School, York, he served articles as a solicitor with Messrs Jackson and Jackson of Middlesbrough and
afterwards started business on his own accound about ten or twelve years ago.
He had been identified with the Territorial movement since its inception. He was the type of officer who rapidly wins the
confidence and affection of the men and when two years ago the late Major French left the Skelton Corps on promotion
the rank and file were delighted that Lieutenant I'Anson was to assume command of their company, which was one of
the strongest in the whole country.
Sister of the three Officer brothers who served in the Battalion and the grief-stricken fiancee of Lt Leonard I'Anson.
[Photograph kindly contributed by her Grandson, Simon Barnard.]
The deceased officer was a splendid shot and numerous trophies in his father's house testify to his proficiency with
the gun. He took a deep personal interest in the work of the Territorials.|
His enthusiasm, as well as his consideration for those serving under him, gained the admiration of all and by his death
on the battlefield the Skelton Company, which has always been blessed with popular officers, loses another leader, whose
work will be gratefully remembered in a district which is pardonably proud of its local detachment of Territorials.
To Mr I'Anson, the respected secretary and engineer of the Cleveland Water Company and to Mrs I'Anson the bereaved
relatives many messages of condolence have been already addressed.
Deep sympathy will also be expressed with Miss Elsie Constantine of Harlsey Hall, Northallerton, daughter of Mr and
Mrs Joseph Constantine to whom the deceased officer was engaged.
Lt Erasmus Darwin Killed.
We have also to announce with great regret that Lieut Erasmus Darwin, Secretary of Bolckow, Vaughan and Company,
Middlesbrough has been killed.
Lieut Erasmus Darwin, who was a Grandson of the great scientist, became secretary of Messrs Bolckow Vaughan and Co Ltd
some years ago.
He filled that important position with great success and distinction and was highly respected and esteemed both by the
members of the Board of Directors, his colleagues and the staff generally.
When the war broke out Mr Darwin at once offered his services and received a commission in the 4th Yorkshires Regiment.
Mr Darwin resided at Saltburn, but took much interest in philanthropic and other causes in Middlesbrough. He was
associated with the Guild of Help since its inception and held the post of hon Treasurer.
It is reported unofficially that Captain G H Bowes-Wilson has been wounded.
THE MEN ARE GRAND.
Local Officer's Vivid Story of the Work of the 4th Yorks.
A TALE OF SIMPLE HEROISM.
Marched to Death with Laughter on Their Lips.
Go to Next page - The 4th Yorks Battalion Boy Soldiers.
4TH YORKS, BAPTISM OF FIRE.|
Out on the plains of Flanders,
Reeking with shot and shell,
Boys of our own 4th Yorkshires
Nobly fighting fell.
Facing grim odds with elan
Steady as though on parade
Yielding their lives for Freedom
Glorious Yorkshire Brigade.
Marching to death with laughter,
In the teeth of roaring guns,
Saving the situation;
Checking the dastard Huns.
On through the deadly vapour,
On through that poisoned zone,
Heroes leading on heroes,
Dauntless Yorkshire's Own.
There 'midst the screeching shrapnel,
Officers, rank and file,
Strong-limbed, puissant, fearless,
Sons of our sea-girt Isle.
Flashed through the leaden torrent
As the crest of a surging wave,
Hurling themselves to glory -
Death - and a Soldier's grave.
Toll for the fighting Yorkshires,
Comrades we'll never see more
Toll for the Territorials
Asleep on an alien shore.
Desolate brides are weeping,
Fond mothers mourn the loss
Of sons, who won honour, glory,
A mound and a Wooden Cross.
M F Keegan.
As further details come to hand of the battle in Flanders on Saturday last, in which the 4th Battalion Yorkshire
Territorials suffered such terrible losses, they emphasise still further the dauntless bravery of the men of Cleveland,
who so soon after their arrival at the front were called upon to undergo such an awful baptism of fire.|
Beneath that hail of hissing steel which our men had to face many have fallen to rise no more, but those at home who are
left to mourn will find consolation for their grief in the knowledge that they gave the supreme sacrifice of life itself
in the cause of patriotism and of honour.
Many are the stories of heroism which are now filtering through from the fighting line, but, perhaps, one of the most
vivid narratives of the work of the 4th Yorkshires is contained in a letter from a local officer of the battalion, in
which he describes Friday and Saturday of last week as the "hottest, saddest and most glorious hours of my life."
"On the 23rd," he says, "we moved up in support and came under shell fire at 10,000 yards. The battalion was halted at
the time, and without any warning three shrapnel burst right in the middle of us. Four or five men were hit, but no one
was killed. A piece hit me, but just cut my leg very slightly.
As we got nearer, the shells came thicker than ever. About ten a.m. we took up a position in some rear trenches, under
shell fire at the time and stayed there till 4.30, when we were ordered out for a counter-attack.
The regiment got going in artillery formation and went forward beautifully, laughing at all the shells and Jack Johnsons.
[Jack Johnson was the world heavyweight boxing champion of the time and this was the nickname given to the large
15 cm shell fired by the Germans.]
I took my platoon through a farmyard and just as the last man cleared the yard two Jack Johnsons blew the whole place
to bits, and a field dressing station as well.
We went on another 1,000 yards and took cover in a ditch, as the shrapnel and machine gun fire were very bad. One of
my men got two German snipers 40 yards off who were laying for me.
We got going again and went forward the air fairly humming with all kinds of bullets and shells. Men began dropping
pretty freely, but the battalion didn't care; they meant to get in and they did.
Eykin was killed, then Leonard I'Anson, who was trying to get a German sniper; then Nancarrow and then Darwin and
Matthews. Tugwell and Blackett were wounded.
The German snipers are splendid shots, and get in most awkward places. We were shooting them down from trees and all
kinds of places.
Their Jack Johnsons are wonderful. I have seen a hole 40 feet across and 18 feet deep made by one shell. I fell in
one filled with water and was wet through. They aren't nice.
That night and next day we occupied a line of advanced trenches and were very heavily shelled. I was in a trench with
my platoon and two shells burst right on the back and blew the whole show in. It was a miracle no one was killed. We had
to rebuild the whole thing. We have had many narrow shaves, but that is the nearest.
We are all very well and cheerful and the men are grand. They are simply splendid. The battalion has already been
praised for its work.
People at home have no idea of what is going on here - the utter desolation and ruin and the appalling sights. If some
of the fellows who strike at home could see what their pals are going through here they would make ammunition for
We are taking part in the biggest fight of the war, but don't worry."
MAJOR SCOTT'S STORY
Beachcroft, Marton, April 21st 1916.
I note with pleasure and gratitude that the people of Tees-side are honouring the 4th Yorks to-morrow.
I enclose an extract from a letter to my wife, written on April 27th, 1915.
This is a personal narrative of what occurred on the occasion of the 4th Yorks' first taste of real fighting, may interest many of your readers.
I am Sir your obedient servant,
H. G Scott, Major, 4th Batt, Alexandra Princess of Wales' Own [Yorkshire Regiment].
6.30 a.m. Tuesday, 27th April 1915.
On Thursday, April 22nd, we were in a little village, 10 and a half miles from Ypres. We had been billeted there for 3 days after journeying night and day from England.
On Thursday night, at 11 p.m. I was roused. Orders had come for the Brigade to stand by ready to move at a moment's notice.
By 12 midnight the Battalion was ready to march.
Orders came cancelling former order and we went back to billets.
At 8 a.m. Friday, orders again came to be ready to move, followed by an order to assembly as quickly as possible at a point 2 miles away on the road to Ypres.
We did so by about 10 a.m and found the No 1 Battalion already there.
We are No 2 in seniority of the Brigade. At 11 a.m a long string of motor buses moved us to a point 3 and a half miles West of Ypres and from there we marched to hutments just outside.
The men were all carrying tremendous loads, all they had and extra ammunition, 260 rounds per man.
The roads are bad for the feet. Where they are not paved, they are very uneven, with large loose stones, which turn over when you stand on them - very heavy on ankles when you are carrying a heavy load.
The addition of a heavy bundle of maps, double rations, etc made Officers kits heavier than ever.
I know that we all carry too much, but we do not know yet what to discard. Everything we have seems absolutely necessary.
Well the hutments were an agreeable surprise to us. [We never know where we are going until we get there.] We quickly started to make ourselves comfortable.
A deafening cannonade was going on and we knew we were well within range of shell fire. We were to have no rest, however, as orders came at 8.30 p.m to move.
My times after this are not to be relied upon, as I am trusting to approximation. However, they are near enough for a personal narrative.
We moved at 2.45 a.m. [head of column] and in the following order 1,3,4,2 [seniority of Battalions in Brigade] in the direction of Yser Canal and lay down in a field in readiness.
We were moved back twice during the next few hours. At 6 a.m. I was sent back to hutments on a bicycle to arrange to bring hot tea for the men. I collected the cooks, dixies and carts and brought them away.
I had a long search for water, but eventually found some in a farm about a mile or so on the Left. I sent the two water carts there to be filled and came on with the cook's cart.
I found the Battalion had moved a quarter of a mile further back, whilst I had been away.
It was now about nine. Delay had taken place searching for water. I was wishing I could shed some of my kit, but could not risk it.
Just as we were lighting fires four shells came right amongst us, fortunately, doing only slight damage - 6 men slightly wounded, including Lt Tugwell.
De Leigh was there with his stretchers and he quickly got to work. Our 4 stretchers were sent off to hutments, so I lugged Tugwell on to a cook's cart [with the remaining man] and De Leigh dressed his wound [slight shell wound on lower leg] and sent them back to hutments.
During this time the Commanding Officer was away for orders. We reassembled in somewhat open order. The C.O came back with orders to move in the direction of Ypres.
The sun was shining and it got very hot. The road was bad. We soon came under shell fire again, but suffered no casualties.
Other troops were moving all round us, principally Algerians and Zouaves, but this narrative is not concerned with them.
We marched in a roundabout way to a point East of Ypres, about 6 miles and down again.
ORDERS TO ATTACK.
We were intermingled with all sorts of scattered troops; wounded men were continually passing, the deafening Artillery fire never ceased for a moment.
It was here that S.K of the Canadians, spoke to me just as we received orders that the Battalion had to attack.
Well I thought this was rather quick for troops that had only been a few days in the country. It was now about 2 p.m.
We had nibbled our bully beef and biscuit [which was all we had] at convenient times. At about 3.45 p.m. [Saturday] we moved out into open country and formed up in Artillery formation.
Each Company took up its own formation, but they were mostly in Diamond formation, in columns of platoons.
While the C.O. was making his disposition, I took a careful compass bearing of the line of direction of advance.
It was all new country to us, and you have no idea how easy it is to get off the line.
Off we started. We were quickly observed and immediately came under heavy shell fire. We advanced at a quick walk, each Company keeping its distance from No 1 Company.
The enemy at once got our range, but we moved so quickly that the shells soon were dropping behind us, as they did not alter their range quickly enough.
We suffered very few casualties as this time in consequence of our rapid advance.
We advanced like this for about 2,000 yards, then we began to come under rifle fire mixed with shrapnel. It was an inferno, at least, I suppose that is what is meant by inferno.
Immediately the leading Companies extended into lines and pressed on in short rushes. No 3 and 4, acting as supports, began to close up and thicken the lines.
I have seen our men practise the attack in drill and do it very well, but I never saw them do it quite so well as now.
As a drill it would have been faultless. As an actual action under frightful conditions of modern warfare it was superb.
Do not forget, I was in the centre and could see every movement of each Company.
They were all grand, quite silent, just watching their section and platoon commanders and obeying their signals. Men began to drop quicker and quicker.
Still we pressed on, taking advantage of every little undulation and there were not many.
A man dropped just in front of me. N and I could not find his wound. He said it was in his stomach. We lay each side of him and tore his clothes apart.
We found the wound [a bullet in the back beside the kidneys], put his first field dressing on and left him.
I had to run to get my place. The Battalion was now in two lines about 30 yards apart. The C.O. and I were in the centre of the second line.
The C.O. in his anxiety was exposing himself too much, at least I think so, and some of the men told me afterwards that it rather worried them.
We were getting near to the enemy's position now and found other troops in front of us, who proved to be the Royal Irish.
Suddenly the man lying next to me turned his head towards me and I saw his face from his eyes to his chin was literally blown away.
He made a sort of moaning noise and looked at me in a questioning sort of way, as if asking me what had happened to him.
I rolled over to him, got his field dressing, turned him on his back and put the dressing on, but the pad would not nearly fill the hole. I injected two pellets of morphia into his arm and pressed on.
No 1 Battalion, acting as our Support, were now coming up close behind. I joined our second line about 30 yards ahead.
Our front line was firing at 300 yards carefully and systematically. The second line merged into the first line.
We went on by short rushes, until we found ourselves in one thick line under a dyke, where the R.I.s were lying.
The R.I.s complimented our men on their advance in their own language, not exactly drawing room.
One Sergeant said - "By God, if you are a sample of Terriers, for Christ's sake let's have more of you."
This bucked up our chaps immensely and they began to realise that they had done something fine.
The C.O. and I found the C.O. of the R.I. and he told us he had orders from the General Officer Commanding to retire at dusk, as he could not hold the line that we had advance to.
It seemed awfully hard to have to give up what we had apparently gained, but there, we are simply pawns in the great game and know nothing more than is necessary, and very often we think not even that.
Reports of casualties now began to come in. We soon found that we had 5 Officers killed - Major Matthews, Capt Nancarrow, Lieuts I'Anson and Darwin and Capt Eykyn, the Adjutant - men and heroes every one of them.
But they are all alike, Officers and men.
They are simply wonderful and I am proud to be with them.
Just then the C.O. came up and said he had been called to look at B-----, who was apparently suffering terribly, but he could not tell what was the matter with him. We dodged back to him and found 2 men holding him down by the arms and him shouting and raving.
My little morphia outfit [how I thank God I had it] came in handy.
I lay down beside him and injected a double dose into his wrist. Its a delicate job lying on your stomach fitting a hypodermic syringe together uner heavy rifle fire.
He was quiet in a few minutes. His own men carried him back at night.
We knew that our casualties among the men were heavy, but we could not tell how many as the Companies were all mixed up - Royal Irish, East Yorkshires and ourselves.
At 7.15 p.m. it was dark enough to move. The enemy's rifle fire had ceased, the shell fire being also just intermittent.
The C.O. decided to retire by platoons in scattered formation to rendezvous from where we started.
The platoons had gathered themselves together in the dusk and as they got collected they moved off.
It was my job to be in the rear and see them all off.
They were quickly swallowed up in the darkness, and I found myself alone, having been detained in conversation by a Canadian Officer at the last moment.
Luckily I had my compass, the luminous face of which pointed the direction. At about 8 p.m. it was quite dark. However, I stumbled back over the rough country, as best I could.
I never saw the Battalion again until I reached the rendezvous, which I did about 11 p.m.
I found only w Company had arrived. I should have got there quicker, but I came across several groups of men carrying wounded, who had lost their direction and this caused delay.
I gathered them together and we eventually came across the stretcher bearers, who showed us to an advanced dressing station.
I left them and pressed on, not quite sure of my direction, as I had diverged considerably to the Ambulance station.
The Battalion dribbled in all night. It commenced to rain and it rained hard all night with a cold wind. We were within an open wood and had no shelter.
Everybody lay down in the mud, dead tired. B-----C------ brought rations in, but most of the men were too tired to bother about them.
At daybreak we were told we were to occupy some trenches South of Ypres.
We moved off about 9 a.m. on Sunday to these trenches, about one and a half miles march.
They were not bad trenches and we were thankful to lie down in them.
We were under heavy shell fire all day, but they never got our range exactly except once and we lost one of Z Company, who had his head carried off.
We buried him behind the trenches.
There was a deserted farm close behind the trench. I went to forage. I found some charcoal, also some hens in a loft. One hen was just leaving the nest and there was an egg which was warm.
I took this and the charcoal. I was in a little dugout with the C.O. B.P., S and P.O.P. We made a little fire and made a stew in my little canteen out of bully beef, biscuits and half a dozen seed potatoes I had picked up at the Farm.
It was pronounced an excellent stew. The fire warmed us up. We had some straw and we all slept and promised ourselves a comfortable night.
However, in the afternoon, we got orders that we had to occupy some other trenches when it got dark.
We were all very disappointed. I forgot to mention that when I got back to the dug-out with the egg and charcoal, I found the egg was a dummy - a great joke which quite cheered us all up.
Well at dusk we again got on the march, and with a guide, occupied some other trenches about 2 miles away.
Some were in good condition and dry and others were ankle deep in mud.
Just as we got all posted fresh orders came that we had to go ack to our hutments. D.L------ and his men joined us now.
He had spent a terrible time looking for us for 2 days under shell fire all the time.
We were glad to see him and he us. Well we again wearily collected ourselves and commenced our 6 miles march back to hutments under heavy shell fire.
Several Jack Johnsons burst withing a few yards of us on the way. We eventually got there at 4 a.m. all of us more or less dead beat.
At 8 a.m. a Staff Officer came with a special message from the Army Commander congratulating the Battalion on its magnificent work.
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