ROTD AUG 15 LARGE

 

The Western Front Association rembers soldiers who served and died, from the Allies and Central Powers, during the First World War.

 

There will usually be a picture, though not always. There is a short personal biography: when and where they were born and what they did before the war, followed by their enlistment, training, and service.

 

All WW1 forces, all sides, on all fronts, east to west remembered as individual soldiers, nurses, labourers and others on the home front, their lives, service, their loss, burial and commemoration. 

 

Some can be more detailed than others. Included will be their final action or cause of death and their final resting place. 

 

Research by David O'Mara.

 

Readers are invited to add their comments and to submit ideas for people to feature.

16 April 1917 Cpl-Pilote Edmond Charles Clinton Genet29211 Cpl-Pilote Edmond Charles Clinton Genet, Escadrille 124 (‘Lafayette' or ‘Americaine').

Born at Ossining, New York on 23 November 1893, Edmond (the great-great grandson of ‘Citizen Genêt', the French Ambassador to the United States in the period immediately before the French Revolution) was an ex-US Navy sailor who was serving on the USS Georgia at Vera Cruz shortly before the outbreak of war.

Described as a ‘born wanderer', he set sail for France in January 1915 (whilst still officially serving in the USN) and, in early February, he enlisted into the Legion Etranger in Paris. (A devout church-goer, it appears from some of his letters that Edmond fully expected to die at some point in this adventure. He had made his peace and claimed that, due to his faith, death held no fear for him).

After undergoing training, Edmond was assigned to the 1er Regiment de Marche, LE and saw his first frontline duties in April 1915. Time was spent routinely until September 1915 when, on the 25th, his regiment was launched into the ferocious actions near Navarin Farm and Bois Sabot - a disastrous assault in which Edmond was one of only 31 men (of 500) to return from the action unscathed. Following the battle, Edmond's unit was sent to the rear and spent time resting and refitting near Paris. During this period, he decided to apply for a transfer to the French Aviation Service - a request which was granted in the spring of 1916.

On 22 January 1917, Edmond was transferred to the American squadron - Escadrille 124 - and he became the first American pilot to die in action after the US declaration of war when he was shot down and killed by German anti-aircraft fire near Clastres (St Quentin) on 16 April 1917. Originally buried at Ham, Edmond is now interred at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial at Hauts de Seine near Paris.

16 April 1917 killed in action 

Research by David O'Mara

15 April 1917 Pte John Joseph Shanley5170 Pte John Joseph Shanley, 6th Bn East Lancashire Regt.

A pre-war reservist, John was born in Burnley, Lancashire in 1893. He was called into full time service in August 1914 and transferred to the 2nd Battalion East Lancs with whom he arrived in France on 6 November 1914. After seeing action at Neuve Chapelle, Aubers and the Somme, he returned to the UK – possibly wounded – and was transferred to the 6th Battalion.

Whilst en-route to join his new battalion (at that point serving in Mesopotamia), John was on board the troop ship SS.Cameronia sailing between Marseilles and Alexandria. On 15 April 1917 the Cameronia was torpedoed and sunk 150 miles off Malta by the German submarine U-33. 210 of the men on board were killed in this sinking, amongst them was John. Having 'no grave but the sea', John is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial, Alexandria, Egypt.

15 April 1917

Research by David O'Mara

13 April 1918 Pte John William DuxburyPte John William Duxbury, 12th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (Miners' Battalion)

In 1914 many local organisations were motivated to assist the war effort by recruiting men who were associated with the organisation or area, and formed these recruits into battalions. The majority of these battalions were recruited geographically, and battalions such as the Leeds Pals, Bradford Pals and Grimsby Chums were formed. Other battalions were formed not on geographic lines, but by public schools, or those with a common interest such as football. Other groups, such as employers, formed other units, including the West Yorkshire Coal Owners' Association which raised the ‘Miners' Battalion'.

John William Duxbury (aged 26) from Ravensthorpe was probably influenced to join the Miners' Battalion by his elder brother, Arthur (aged 38) who lived at Bradbury Street, Ravensthorpe. On Tuesday, 10 August 1915 they went together to the recruiting office in Dewsbury and were given consecutive regimental numbers, Arthur was 1788 and John 1789. Another two brothers also joined the army: Fred aged 22 lived with John and their mother at 76 Sackville Street, Ravensthorpe and joined the 8th Battalion, KOYLI; and James Duxbury (aged 28 and married) joined up but was sent to India. The Miners' Battalion was clearly open to all trades - Arthur worked for the Mirfield Colliery Company, and John was employed by Pickles and Smithson, chemical manufacturers in Ravensthorpe.

After undergoing training at Otley, the Miners' Battalion (which had by now become the 12th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) became part of the 31st Division and, in view of the obvious labouring skills of the majority of its members, they became the divisional pioneer battalion. Towards the end of November 1915 orders were received to prepare for service overseas.

Much to everyone's surprise the division was not sent to France, but was instead ordered to Egypt where they were to guard the Suez Canal. After a short period in Egypt, the 31st Division was sent to France where, on 1 July 1916, they took part in the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.

Despite being wounded in April 1917 (receiving treatment in France), John survived until 1918. In March of that year the Germans launched a series of offensives, one of which was aimed at capturing the vital railway junction at Hazebrouck. It is against this background that John and Arthur Duxbury were involved in the battalion's severest fighting of the war.

The Miners' Battalion's War Diary describes how, in early April 1918, the battalion was out of the line, undergoing training. Orders were received on 10 April, giving instructions to move. On the following day the battalion de-bussed near Vieux-Berquin, and from there marched to Merris. At 8.00pm orders came through to take up positions astride the Estaires to Caestre road, covering the crossroads in the village of La Couronne. The Miners' Battalion was in position by 9.30pm.

On 12 April the battalion was in much the same position; most of the morning was probably spent constructing trenches. The battalion was unable to gain touch with the troops on either their right or their left. At 3.00pm enemy machine gun and artillery fire became heavy, and troops on the battalion's left (who, according to the War Diary were from the 29th Division) started falling back. In accordance with its orders the battalion "..refused its left flank, and pivoting on La Couronne covered the village with its right flank facing east and south-east." They dug in and spent the night there. The War Diary gave casualties for the day as being two officers and 40 other ranks.

The German attack on the following day (Saturday, 13 April) developed at 8.30am. The battalion's left flank easily beat off the attacks by the Germans, all four of which failed. At the crossroads in La Couronne, however, the enemy succeeded in working up a trench that the battalion had constructed, but had been forced to abandon the previous day. From this position, with the aid of trench mortars, the Germans managed to dislodge the defenders who, although forced to fall back, formed another line under heavy fire.

The new line faced south-east with its right on a stream; the line extended to the main road where the rest of the battalion was holding off German attacks. Despite now being in touch with the Irish Guards on the right there was a gap here which the Germans exploited and it was from this direction that the battalion was enfiladed at 1.30pm. Shortly after this the Germans, working through the village, broke the line. The battalion's right was forced to fall back, and the troops on the left were partially surrounded, many being taken prisoner.

The remnants of the battalion rallied at La Becque Farm, but machine gun fire made the position untenable, and a further withdrawal was made, falling back on posts held by Australian troops on the Route du Bois.

On the morning of 14 April the Miners' Battalion was withdrawn from the line. The War Diary describes how, after going into action with nineteen officers and 510 other ranks, the battalion suffered casualties of twelve officers and about 275 other ranks (Soldiers Died in the Great War gives fatalities on 13 April as 59, plus a further two on 14 April).

The battalion had, however, accomplished its task: it had delayed the German advance sufficiently to enable troops from the 1st Australian Division to be brought up.

As might be expected, there is no clue in the War Diary of what happened to John and Arthur Duxbury. After sticking closely together throughout the war, on 13 April the brothers' paths diverged. Arthur was captured, probably wounded, by the Germans; he was, together with other prisoners, sent to the rear and eventually arrived in Germany, where, just over a fortnight after being captured, he died.

Nothing is known of John's fate. The family may have realised something was wrong when they failed to receive a regular letter, or possibly an officer or pal may have written to his mother to say that he had not returned after the battle. Although Arthur was reported as missing towards the end of May, it was not until 29 June that The Dewsbury Reporter printed a few lines to say that "Private John William Duxbury, son of Mrs Duxbury of 40 Fearnley Street, Dewsbury is officially reported missing since April."

The names of 47 of the 59 men killed on 13 April are inscribed on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing, just across the border in southern Belgium. Of the remaining 14 casualties from 13 and 14 April,* thirteen have known graves, which leaves one man unaccounted for.

Because of the chaotic circumstances during and after the Great War, it seems that a number of casualties were overlooked by the authorities. It was initially the responsibility of the War Office and not the Imperial War Graves Commission to compile lists of casualties. Somehow the name of John William Duxbury failed to be included in the lists the Imperial War Graves Commission took over from the War Office and, consequently, his name was not inscribed on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. For nearly 80 years, John Duxbury was not officially commemorated by the War Graves Commission.

This oversight was pointed out to the Commission and, after requesting evidence in November 1995, they confirmed on 14 April 1997, 79 years and one day after his death, that John William Duxbury's name had been added to the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing.

John's older brother, Arthur, is buried along with several hundred men who died as prisoners of war in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission plot in Ohlsdorf Cemetery near Hamburg.

Fred Duxbury was one of the casualties of 1 July 1916; he died whilst serving in the 8th Battalion, KOYLI and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Only James Duxbury came home.

* One is buried at Ebblinghem Military Cemetery, one at Aire Communal Cemetery and one at Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. A further ten are buried at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, being two miles north-east of where the battalion fought on 13 April. (It may be fair to assume that some of the unknown headstones in this cemetery stand over the graves of the 47 men named on the Ploegsteert Memorial.)

13 April 1918

Source - A Village Goes to War: David Tattersfield

 Pte John Dean of the Machine Gun Company killed in action
 Pte John Dean

 

124388 Pte John Thomas Dean, 61st Coy Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)

 

Born in Padiham, Lancashire John was conscripted into the army in Burnley in 1916.

Initially serving as 36184 in the East Surrey Regiment, he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps prior to embarkation on active service.

He was killed on 12th April 1918 and reported as missing in action.

Having no known grave, John is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

12 April 1918 killed in action.

 

 

Research by David O'Mara.

 

 

References:

Ancestry.com. British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Army Medal Office. WWI Medal Index Cards. In the care of The Western Front Association.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries; Class: WO 95

The Burnley Express 19th April 1916

Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org )

Soldiers Died in the Great War – HMSO 1921

 

Lt Thaddeus* Francis McCarthy, 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Thaddeus Francis McCarthy was the youngest of the eleven sons of Michael and Ursula McCarthy. He was born on the 14 March 1896 and he, his brothers and sisters lived on Talbot Street in the village of Whitwick in Leicestershire. He was very bright and attended the Convent Private School in Whitwick before joining Loughborough Grammar School in September 1908 where he studied for five years until 13 July 1913. He left to join a solicitor's office in Leicester aged 17 years and 4 months.

In December 1915, immediately after passing his intermediate law exams aged 20, when he was articled to Mr R A Loseby, Solicitor of Leicester, he joined the 28th Battalion County of London Regiment (Artists Rifles) as Private. He received his commission for 2nd Lieutenant in September 1916 to the 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He spent his 21st birthday in the trenches and was wounded in the arm in August 1917. He was awarded the MC for gallantry in the field. The award was gazetted on the 26 September 1917 and the statement read:

When in charge of the battalion carrying and rations parties, he carried out his work with the greatest coolness and ability, and although by reason of the heavy shell fire it was of a most arduous and dangerous nature, it was due to his exertions and personal supervision that rations arrived regularly. On another occasion during an attack, he led his men forward with great coolness, setting a fine example to those around him. He afterwards took over and reorganized another company whose officers had all become casualties.

In March 1918 he was promoted to Lieutenant. He was killed in action at Bailleul on 14 April 1918 aged 22.

The Coalville Times of April 26th 1918 reported:

"Mr. Michael McCarthy, C.C., Chairman of the Coalville Urban Council, and Mrs. McCarthy of New Swannington, on Wednesday received a telegram from the War Office, conveying the sad intelligence that their youngest son, Lieutenant T. F. McCarthy of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action in France on April 14th."

When he died the family were living at New Swannington House in Whitwick and the Probate record shows that his effects totalled £186 12s 8d

He is commemorated on Panel 7 of the Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium

14 April 1918

Lt-T-F-McCarthy---4th-Btn-Loyal-North-Lancs---Ploegstert-Memorial

Lt-T-F-McCarthy---4th-Btn-Loyal-North-Lancs---Ploegstert-Memorial-2

*His first name has often been misread and written as Thaddens, as it is on the Commonwealth War Graves website.

With thanks to Josephine Dunn for the information she has added to Ancestry in the public domain.

Research: with thanks to Karen Ette for the Loughborough Grammar School Roll of Honour.

13 April 1918 Inf Jakob MaierInf Jakob Maier, 1 Komp Kgl Bay Inf-Leib-Regiment

A holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class, Jakob was a labourer from Untervilslern, Bavaria. Born in 1896, he was called into full time service within the first few weeks of the war and saw service on the Western Front and on the Italian Front throughout the war.

A veteran of the Somme and Verdun, he took part in the great German offensives of the spring of 1918 and was killed in action near Bailleul during the Battle of the Lys on 13 April 1918. Jakob is buried in the kameradengrab of the German military cemetery of Lens-Sallaumines, Pas de Calais.

13 April 1918 killed in action 

Research by David O'Mara

11 April 1918 Pte Jack WhiteleyPte Jack Whiteley, 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers

At 8.45am on Tuesday, 9 April 1918, after a 4½ hour artillery bombardment, 14 German divisions attacked on a front of 12 miles, aiming at capturing Hazebrouck with its vital rail junction. This was the German 'Georgette' offensive and was the Germans' last ‘best chance' to win the war.

The following day a further series of attacks were made by the Germans, forcing the abandonment of the Messines Ridge and the town of Armentieres on 11 April. It was on 11 April that Haig issued his now-famous ‘Special Order of the Day', which included:

"...There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end."

It is unlikely that Jack Whiteley would have heard this message as he was killed on this day.

Jack Whiteley was born in about 1899 to Mr and Mrs Fenton Whiteley. He was sent to France in March 1918, joining ‘B' Company of the 1/6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (part of 50th (Northumbrian) Division). The War Diary of the division's 149 Brigade (made up of the 1/4th, 1/5th and 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers) states that the brigade ("400 all ranks") was relieved on 1 April, moving to the town of Lillers. There, the battalions were made up to strength with men drafted from home. It is likely that Jack was with this large group of reinforcements. From Lillers the division moved north to Merville.

At Merville, on 9 April (the opening day of 'Georgette'), the 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers was ordered to be prepared to move at short notice, probably to support the 40th Division who were holding the line astride the River Lys. At 7.30am the battalion, together with the 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers, were moved up to Le Trou Bayard, a small village east of the town of Estaires. From there, a series of small moves were ordered, but no contact was made with the Germans. The situation must have been very confusing for the battalion and brigade commanders, with reports of German advances and the sound of heavy fighting nearby.

On 10 April, nervous of being attacked from the south, where the Germans had broken through, the 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers was instructed to form a defensive flank facing the line of the German breakthrough. At 7.15am the battalion was ordered to attack and retake Estaires which had fallen into German hands, and they were successful in regaining most of the town. The battalion was shelled for the rest of the day, incurring heavy casualties, and it was forced to give up part of Estaires that evening.

On Thursday, 11 April, the 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers was placed into brigade reserve. Despite this, there was to be no rest for the men. At 7.00am a report arrived to say that the Germans had occupied Le Trou Bayard, and the battalion was therefore ordered to move forward. By 1.50pm the battalion's advance had been halted and, due to German pressure, was being forced back. The battalion was in serious trouble. With an open flank to the right, the brigade (according to its diary) "...seemed to be in touch with the 29th Division on the left." A verbal report that Neuf Berquin (a village north west of Estaires) was in the hands of the enemy put in doubt the existence of troops on the left. At 11.00pm that evening, after consulting with brigades from the 29th Division, 149 Brigade fell back to Vierhoek.

Further withdrawals proved necessary on following days, but in this confused fighting, the 1/6th Northumberland Fusiliers lost (according to Soldiers Died in the Great War) 98 men. One of these was Jack Whiteley.

No obituary appeared for Jack in the local newspapers; there was, however an appeal in January 1919 by his parents who lived at 273 Scout Hill for information concerning their son. Presumably he was still officially "missing" at this stage, which must have been very difficult for his parents.

Jack has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. This Memorial, in southern Belgium, lists the names of 11,500 soldiers killed in the area throughout the 1914-1918 period who have no known grave.

11 April 1918


Source: David Tattersfield - A Village Goes to War

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