The Saturday night soldiers - Flanders

- Private George Thomas Thorpe
- Private Harry Betts
- Private Alexander Harold George Bradley
- Private John William Coulson
- Private Arthur John Waller

With the dawning of a new year, the remnants of the B.E.F., had been occupying much the same squalid positions that they had been in during the summer and autumn of 1914.

The conditions being faced by the men is amply illustrated in an article that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 29TH of January 1915 entitled; ‘Good morning Tommy Atkins’

‘Several interesting trophies, including a German helmet, bayonet, and belt, coat, cartridges, and a French shell case have been brought home by Company Sergeant Major F. Richardson of the 2ND West Yorkshire Regiment, 4, Mill Yard, Mill Street, who was in Scarborough last week on furlough from the firing line’…Sergt Major Richardson was in the trenches up to the knees in mud and water the other night, when he received a permit and instructions to proceed to a certain place behind the lines. Here a special motorcar was awaiting him, and he was soon in Boulogne. Within a few hours Sergeant Richardson, his clothes still wet and very muddy, leaving many evidences of the conditions of the fighting arrived safely home in Scarborough’

A veteran of the South African War, Richardson had gone on to describe ‘the character of the fighting’ in Belgium and France…’It was mostly bombing in this trench warfare, the trenches being very near to each other. Both sides kept sapping forward, and when sufficiently near, threw these bombs into the trenches. At nighttime the enemy sometimes reached the parapets of the trenches and threw bombs. The latter exploded within about four seconds of lighting the fuse. The present system of relief in the trenches was three days in and three days behind the firing line, if possible in farmhouses or buildings. This just allowed about sufficient time to get washed and dried and back again’

Despite numerous attempts on his life, C.S.M. Richardson had survived the war]

Having lost over fifty eight thousand of its men between the 12TH of October and the 22ND of November in the bloodshed known as ‘First Wipers’ [German losses during the same period had been estimated at around 134,000 killed, wounded, and missing], the B.E.F. had inevitably been short of manpower. With virtually few replacements to hand the situation in France and Flanders had been critical and although thousands of men had answered the call to join Britain’s ‘New Armies’, of these newly formed infantry battalions had been anywhere near ready for war. Nevertheless, help had been on the way. Woefully underestimated at the outset of the war, Britain’s Territorial Force, which many, including Kitchener himself, had derisively called ‘Saturday night soldiers’, had, at that moment been making preparations to go to war.

In 1952 my parents and I had shared a small terraced dwelling at No 15 St Thomas’s Walk with my great grandmother, Louisa Thorpe. Known to all as ‘Granny’ Thorpe, and always dressed in black from head to foot the eightysome years wizened old lady as seen through the narrow eyes of the four years old me had been a source of extreme terror, her brooding presence in the same room as I, had without hesitation, sent me scurrying for the protection of my parents or any handy piece of furniture. That was until the day that I had attacked the seemingly sinister monster with a toy rubber tipped spear, which according to my mother, had sent the dumbfounded ‘Granny’ Thorpe scurrying off to the shelter of the scullery exclaiming; ‘our Paulie’s [she had always called me by that name] just tried to kill me with that bloody spear of ‘is’!

Thoughts of the incident in my childhood have crossed my mind many times in the ensuing years and it had taken fifty years before I had broached the subject of ‘Granny’ Thorpe with my mother, and had asked her about her seemingly sinister grandmother.

My mother had told me that my black clad ‘monster’ had in fact been a tiny twig of a woman without an unkind bone in her body. The old lady she had said had always dressed in the same black clothes for as long as she could remember and perhaps this had been the cause of my ‘attack’. Mum had continued that the wearing of mourning black had been to do with the First World War, and the loss of her only beloved son [mother’s uncle], ‘somewhere or other in Belgium’. According to my mother, Granny had been so distressed when her boy’s loss that she had never really recovered and had donned for the remainder of her life those dreaded black clothing of mourning.

‘Granny’s’ seventeen years old son; George Thomas Thorpe, a Private [Regimental Number 1626] in the Territorial Force’s 1ST/5TH Battalion of Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own [Yorkshire Regiment], had survived for just eight days of active service during the terrible ‘Second Battle of Ypres’, which had taken place in Flanders, between the 22ND of April and the 3RD of May 1915. [1]

Always mentioned by my mother as ‘Uncle George’, Granny Thorpe’s boy had begun his march into battle during that last summer of peace in 1914. At the time, the sixteen years old had been living with his mother and elder sister Alice Louisa along with my thirteen years old future grandmother, Asenath Glover ‘Seney’ Thorpe at No 4 Sail’s Yard in Oxford Street. However, as the dark clouds of war had gathered, George and his fellow Territorials of the 5TH Yorks had been far away from home at the battalion’s annual two weeks of training at a camp at Dagenwy in North Wales.

The camp had abruptly come to an end on the third of August in the light of the worsening situation in Europe, when orders had been received for the assembled units of the 50th [Northumbrian] Division [of which the 5TH Yorks had been a part] to report back to their Headquarters to await further orders. The men of the Fifth Yorks had duly arrived back in Scarborough during the early hours of the fourth of August and later in the day, the long awaited orders mobilising the Battalion for war had been received.

The day after its mobilisation the battalion had marched from their North Street Headquarters up Scarborough’s main street to the town’s railway station, where the men had boarded trains that had carried them to Hull, where the battalion had subsequently spent a number of days digging coastal defence trenches. However, the stay there had been short, and before long the unit had been moved to a camp at Hummersknott Park, near Darlington, where they had remained until October 1914, when the men had been moved into billets in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the battalion had at last begun its training for war in earnest. One of the 5TH Battalion’s soldiers would later record;

‘All training was done in full ‘marching order’, i.e. full pack and haversack, one hundred and twenty rounds of ammunition in pouches, full water bottle, rifle and bayonet and entrenching tool blade hanging in its case beneath the pack and its handle strapped alongside the bayonet scabbard. From October onwards, training was mostly on a battalion basis interspaced with brigade and divisional field days. Cross-country attacks in artillery formation, ending in bayonet were varied with long route marches and sometimes digging trenches. Of course we grumbled and groused, cursing the weight of our kit, but the hard training made us ready and fit for the stern trials of the Ypres salient in April 1915 in which we went not only carrying the full kit already described, but an extra hundred rounds of rifle ammunition in bandoliers’ [2]

The battalion had remained at Newcastle awaiting the orders that would send them overseas until April 1915. The entire Territorial Force had volunteered for overseas service almost to a man shortly after mobilisation and the general expectation of the men had been that they were to be sent to the middle east or some other far flung corner of the empire in exchange for a regular army battalion bound for the fighting in France or Belgium. The grave shortage of reserves available for service on the western front had, seen the need for sending the Territorials to the front much to the chagrin of many in high places, including Kitchener.

The orders had duly arrived at Battalion Headquarters to proceed to the front on the fifteenth of April, an advance party of eighty five men had set off from Newcastle the same day, the remainder of the battalion following two days later.

George Thorpe and his comrades had in due course arrived by train at Folkestone at 10-45pm on Saturday the April 17TH where the excited young soldier had bought a postcard at the railway station on which he had hastily scribbled a message with the stub of a pencil for his mother back in Scarborough;

‘Saturday 17TH April 1915.

Dearest Mother,
Arrived at Folkestone but don’t know when we go across the Channel, but will write again as soon as I can, so this is all. So keep smiling as I am well and in the best of spirits.
Your loving son, George’

Soon afterwards Private Thorpe and his mates had boarded the ‘S.S. Onward’, which had transported the thousand or so men and equipment to the French port of Boulogne, where they had landed in the early hours of Sunday the eighteenth of April. The majority of the men had never left Yorkshire before never mind been to a foreign country, however, they had been given little time to savour the ‘delights’ of Boulogne, as the battalion had soon marched out of the town to march up the steep hill to St Martin’s Camp, where they had arrived at 2-30am in the bitterly cold morning of the nineteenth, to find that they would be sleeping fifteen to a tent with only one blanket a piece.

Little respite had been given to the men whilst at St Martin’s Camp, as a little after midnight of the same day the Fifth Yorks had been mustered in full kit to be marched the five miles to the hamlet of Pont-De-Briques, where they had boarded cattle trucks that had taken them to the town of Cassel, on the Belgian/French border, from where the battalion had marched for twelve ‘hot and very tiring’ miles to billets outside the village of Steenvoorde, where they had finally rested, for three whole days.

Whilst the battalion had been at Steenvoorde, a few miles to the north, near the shattered city of Ypres shortly after 5pm on Thursday the 22ND of April in the wake of a brief but savage artillery bombardment the Germans had opened the valves of 5,730 cylinders which had released greenish-yellow clouds of chlorine gas which as they had wafted towards the defensive line between the Yser Canal and Poelcappelle had formed into a bluish white-mist. Totally unprotected against the fumes of deadly gas, the French Territorial and Algerian troops who had been manning the sector had broken in panic, leaving a gap in the line nearly five miles wide on the left of the First Canadian Division. By dusk the villages of Langemarck and Pilckem had fallen and the Germans had got to within two miles of Ypres itself.

Well within earshot of the din of the battle taking place at the front, it had come as no surprise to the men of the Fifth Yorks when orders had been received at Battalion Headquarters at midnight of Thursday the 22ND of April, to ‘move nearer to the front’. Newly arrived on foregein soil and with obsolete weapons, and with nothing in the way of experience under their belts, no one had at first believed that they could be thrown straight into the line, however, unknown to the Yorkshiremen at the time the situation had been grave for the allies and any troops who were available no matter how ‘green’ they were, were about to receive their ‘Baptism of Fire’.

During the morning of the twenty third of April, coincidentally St George’s Day, George Thorpe and the remainder of the Fifth Battalion had left their billets and had shouldered their heavy equipment and rifles before marching into Steenvoorde, where during the afternoon they had been packed like sardines into motor buses to endure an uncomfortable ride to the town of Poperinghe, where the Battalion had ‘debussed’ to continue towards the fighting on foot… ‘As they tramped along the pave road, with Vlamertinghe and Ypres ahead, the boom of guns became even louder. Crowds of refugees were met, hurrying westwards with handcarts perambulators and almost any kind of vehicle laden with all the worldly possessions left to them’…[3]

The by then weary battalion had eventually made camp later in the day near to Brielen, a village situated to the north west of Ypres. A proper rest had also eluded the battalion whilst they had been there because the early hours of April 24TH … ‘the whole Brigade was ordered to occupy the Yser Canal bank, west of Ypres. The position allotted to the 5TH Battalion was the extreme left of the British line, the troops on our immediate left being Algerian Zouaves of the French Army’… [3]

The Germans had again attacked the allied line with poison gas on the 24th of April. However, throughout the early morning the 5TH Yorks had been unmolested by the enemy until about 10am when…‘the enemy opened an heavy shell fire against our position, but luckily for us he was out in his estimation of the range and most of his shells passed over our heads, though ‘B’ Company had two men wounded’[3]

At about midday the battalion had been directed to the village of Potijze where they were to ‘place themselves at the disposal of any Brigadier requiring their assistance’. After crossing the Yser by a pontoon bridge the battalion had moved in a diamond formation on to the village, leaving Ypres on their right and the village of St Jean on their left where a fierce firefight had been taking place which had eventually driven the Canadians out of the hamlet in the face of overwhelming odds.

At the nearby village of St Julien the situation had been as bad as the enemy had also broken through the thinly held line here. However a counter attack was at that moment being planned by Brigadier General Hull of 10TH Brigade [Fourth Division], and upon its arrival at Potijze the Fifth Yorks had been sent to assist the Third Canadian Infantry Brigade, which had been occupying gas, laden trenches in front of St Julien. The battalion had stood shoulder to shoulder with their Canadian comrades throughout the harrowing rain and artillery bombardment filled night of the 24TH and together the two units had beaten off numerous enemy attacks, the 5TH Yorks miraculously losing only one man killed [Driffield born; 1546 Private William Clark had died of wounds that day], and several more wounded.

In the early hours of the 25TH the exhausted and mud caked Yorkshiremen and Canadians had been relieved by the Seaforth Highlanders and Irish Fusiliers. The Fifth Yorks had trudged back the way they had gone and had eventually made a halt, still within earshot of the fighting, in a field just south of the Zaarebeke stream, near the road to Wielje where they had rested until 8am when the 5TH Battalion had learnt that the Canadians and the two relieving battalions had been attacked by the Germans with gas and had been forced back;

‘The 5TH Yorks at once hurried forward, and having crossed the Zaaerbeke stream we were advancing towards St Julien when we were met by a very heavy shrapnel fire and in less than five minutes suffered sixty casualties, amongst them the adjutant Captain Grant-Dalton. The Companies at once deployed, and took up a line facing St Julien and Fortuin, opening fire on the advancing Germans. About 10am these halted and appeared to be consolidating the trenches they had captured, whilst we also dug ourselves such cover as we could with our entrenching tools’.

The Brigade- Major now noticed a farmhouse in our front and in order to prevent the enemy creeping up and occupying it, he sent forward Captain Barber and part of ‘D’Company to hold it; but on arrival they were met by very heavy shell and machine gun fire, Captain Barber and Lance Corporal Dell being killed and the remainder falling back again under very heavy fire. Our orders were that the position Must be held at any cost as there was no support or second line upon which we might fall back’[3]

The following day the battalion still occupying their flimsy position had been subjected to heavy artillery and sniper fire, a soldier had noted in his diary; ‘ Monday 26TH April, Dawn— another thick mist all around. Stuck in trenches all day- ‘A’ Company suffered many casualties from the shelling and continuous sniping. Left the trenches at

8-30pm for the second time to dig more trenches- it was a quiet night, except for occasional shellfire’[4]

The battalion had hung on to their position until the night of the 27TH when they had moved a short distance to the northeast to relieve a battalion of the London Regiment;

…‘Here we were out of sight of St Julien, but not out of shell fire, and we suffered rather severely from this, for the trenches here were very wide and shallow. We held on here for two days during which the enemy made no attempt to advance, but persistently shelled us, while his aircraft were constantly overhead’[3]

During this time the by then dishevelled survivors of the battalion had had very little sleep and their only food had been their ‘emergency rations’, which had consisted of tinned ‘bully beef’, hardtack biscuits, and the universally hated army issue ‘apple and apricot jam’ washed down with the small amounts of muddy rainwater that the men had scooped from the bottom of their trenches.

The 5TH Yorks ordeal had ended during the night of the 29TH of April when they had been relieved by fellow Territorials from the 4TH Battalion of the regiment and the 4TH East Yorkshire Regiment. The exhausted filthy and unshaven troops had marched back to their former camp at Brielen where they had arrived in the early hours of the 30TH of April in the expectation of some rest, this was not to be as no sooner had they arrived the Germans had shelled the place with long range artillery which had forced the unit to exchange the relative comfort of their huts for the discomfort of yet more trenches.

It was whilst the Battalion had been at Brielen that the unit had taken stock of the casualties that had been incurred during those hectic and terrifying few days. A post battle ‘roll call’ had revealed that one officer and twenty-three men had been killed and a further officer and a hundred and six non commissioned officers and men had been wounded, six of whom had subsequently died from their wounds. Amongst the casualties had been Granny Thorpe’s son.

Attached to ‘D’ Company, ‘Uncle George’ had been born on the eighth of September 1897 at No 4 William Terrace, Walcott Street, in the city of Hull, and had been the second of three children [sisters Alice Louisa and Asenath Glover Thorpe were born in 1892 and 1901 respectively] of Louisa [formerly Morris] and ‘Ship’s Steward’ Samuel Richard William Thorpe. The family had, nonetheless, lived for a number of years in Bridlington, where William Thorpe had earned a living as a fisherman. Following the death of her husband in 1912, ‘Granny’ Thorpe had brought her offspring to live in Scarborough at No3 Darling’s Yard in James Place where she had barely eked out a living by washing her neibours laundry. [4]

The fourteen years old George Thorpe had begun his working in life in Scarborough at the bottling store of Wine and Spirit Merchant Tom Laughton in Sussex Street, however, by the beginning of the war he had been working for the Scarborough and Whitby Brewery Company in North Place, which used to be situated behind North Street.

News of the Fifth Yorks exploits at St Julien had eventually filtered back to Scarborough in the letters that the men had written to their anxious for news families, and by early May the story had inevitably been front page news in the town’s newspapers. The story of how the local Territorials who had gone into their first action with tenacity enough to earn themselves the nickname of ‘The fighting Ghurkhas’ had made good reading for many days after the event, for my great grandmother, and the remainder of the parents that had lost a son during the recent fighting, it had been the beginning of a lifetime of sorrow. [5]

Having heard nothing of her son since the postcard from Folkestone nearly two months previously, the anxious mother had had her worse fears realised when she had received a telegram from the military informing her that George had been wounded. Despite her distress, ‘Granny’ had taken the terrible news to the offices of the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ in Aberdeen Walk, which had included in its edition of Friday June 4TH 1915;

‘Anxiety for Private Thorpe - Mrs. Thorpe, 4, Sails-Yard, Oxford Street, has received news that her son Private Geo. T. Thorpe, 5TH Yorks, has been wounded. Several letters which she has sent have been returned marked ‘wounded’ and also bearing a note that the locality of the hospital is not known. The fact that a registered letter sent just after the 5TH Yorks went to France was returned in this way, leads to the supposition that Private Thorpe was wounded some time ago. Mrs Thorpe received official notification that her son had been wounded last week, and that if he became worse she should be informed. The number of the hospital was, in this case, also missing. Mrs. Thorpe is very anxious to hear more definite news’

‘Granny’ Thorpe had again written to the military on the ninth of June asking for news of her beloved George and shortly afterwards [on the seventeenth] the distraught mother had received official notification that he was ‘Missing believed killed in action’. On the following day, Friday June 18TH, ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ had reported;

‘Scarborough Territorial missing - Officially believed to be killed. Captain Robson’s letter to 5TH Yorkshire’s mother. Mrs. L. Thorpe, 4, Sail’s Yard, Oxford Street, Scarborough has been officially notified that her son, Private George Thorpe 5TH Yorks, was posted as missing after an engagement, and is believed to have been killed. Mrs. Thorpe has also received the following from Captain Robson’

‘I have just received your letter of the 9th and have made further enquiries relative to your sons whereabouts, from which it appears that he was wounded on the 25th or 26th of April last and was got safely back from the firing line to the dressing station. From there he was taken away, but I cannot find out where to, as there is no one available here who was at that particular station. I have however, instituted further enquiries and if any news is forthcoming I will at once let you know. I understand that the wound was not thought to be serious, but whether this was so or not I cannot definitely say. I am very sorry that you have been subjected to all this anxiety, and I can assure you that everything has been and is being done to relieve you of it as far as possible, but you will appreciate how difficult it is in the midst of heavy fighting for the hospital authorities to keep an accurate account of every man treated by them’…

Ninety years on one can only imagine the pain that Granny Thorpe and her two daughters had endured in the months following the first intimations that George had been killed. His mother had however not given up her campaign for more information regarding her missing son and had asked the vicar of St Paul’s Mission Church [which had then been on the corner of Regents Street] to intercede to the War Office on her behalf. On Friday September 17TH 1915 the following had appeared in 'The Scarborough Mercury’;

‘Scarboro Soldier Missing. News has reached his home that Private G.T. Thorpe, 5TH Yorks, D Company is missing and it is feared he may have been killed. A War Office communication replying to an enquiry by the Rev. A. Ferguson says, concerning the circumstances in which he is believed to have been killed on April 26TH, that his prayer book was found by a man in a Somerset Regiment and sent home’

Following this no more had been heard of the missing Private until a year later when ‘Granny’ Thorpe had received on the 26TH of April 1916 the customary telegram from the War Office;

‘As further information regarding your son Private George Thomas Thorpe has been received it must therefore be presumed with deepest regret that he had been killed in action on the 26TH of April 1915’.

No identifiable remains of George Thorpe had ever been found and his name had after the war been included with the 64,000 other names of men who had fallen in the fighting in the Ypres Salient who have ‘no known graves’, on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in the city of Ypres, where his name can be found on Panel 33. A former member of the congregation of St Paul’s Chapel, George’s name can, nonetheless, be found on a ‘Roll of Honour’ located on the north interior wall of St Mary’s Parish Church in Castle Road, Scarborough.

The daughter of Louisa and fisherman Ralph Thorpe,‘Granny’ Thorpe had been born in Bridlinton at No.3 Sheffield Arms Yard during 1864 and had never let the memory of her beloved son fade. Every year after 1915 without fail, on, or very near the date that he had reportedly died, an entry would appear in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the various newspapers of Scarborough. The last had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Evening news’ of Saturday the 25TH of April 1953, just a week before the old lady had died during Saturday the 2ND of May, in Scarborough General Hospital. She had been aged eighty-nine years.

‘In loving memory of my dear son Private George Thomas Thorpe, ‘D’ Company, 5TH Yorks Regt. Who was killed in action at St Julien on April 25TH 1915, age 17 years. From Mother and Sisters’.

‘Sleep on dear son, in a far off distant land…
In a grave we may never see.
But as long as life and memory remain.
We will remember thee’

George’s elder sister Alice Louisa had eventually married Scarborough born Henry Lill in October 1917 and had lived until the 8TH of August 1976 when she had passed away at the age of eighty-two years. His younger sister Asenath Glover Thorpe, popularly known as ‘Seney’ had married twenty two years old fisherman’s son and ‘Great War’ veteran, Charles Allen, at the age of nineteen on the 2ND of February 1920. ‘Seney’ had died in Scarborough Hospital on the 31ST of January 1959 at the age of 58 years.

Years later I had been talking to a cousin, Roy Piper, about our respective families histories and the story of George Thomas Thorpe had come into the conversation, and during the course of our conversation Roy had mentioned that he had been in possession of the young soldier’s medals. Surprised, to say the least, I asked if I could see them, and sure enough some time later Roy had produced George’s three medals, a 1914-15 Star, along with a British War Medal, and Victory Medal, a ‘trio’ popularly known as ‘Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred’ after a popular world war one cartoon trio of the same names. The medals appeared brand new, as if they had not seen the light of day, the ribbons and the bronze and silver discs without a blemish, and still in the box, probably the same that Granny Thorpe had received many years before.

Roy had eventually said that I could have George’s medals, and I was moved to tears to receive such an invaluable gift. I had subsequently had them mounted, and had worn them with pride as they had been intended had George lived, at that years Armistice Day celebration at the foot of Scarborough’s War Memorial. I hope the ‘Saturday night soldier’ would have approved of the gesture.

Following their heroic stand at St Julien the Fifth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had never again been called ‘Saturday night soldiers’, and throughout the ensuing text the unit is featured on numerous instances, their magnificent bravery in battle amply showing they had truly deserved the rightful nickname of ‘The Yorkshire Ghurkhas’.

During April/May 1915 the Fifth Battalion and Scarborough had also lost;

2004 Private Harry Betts. Born in Scarborough during 1884, Harry had been the eldest son of Annie and George Betts of No 3 Regent Street Scarborough. A drummer in the pre war Battalion Harry had died from the effects of wounds received in action at St Julien at the age of thirty-one years, on the 1ST of May 1915. Formally a tailor with the Huntriss Row firm of Thomas Etches and Sons, Harry had also been the husband of Gertrude Betts, and father of four children of No 4 Mill Yard, Mill Street, Scarborough, Harry had been one of three sons of George and Annie Betts that had lost their lives during the war. His remains are interred in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery [Section V111, Row B, Grave19].

2277 Private Alexander Harold George Bradley. Born in Scarborough during 1896, ‘Harry’ had been the only son of Lena and George Howe Bradley of No 90 Westborough, Scarborough, and had also died from the effects of wounds received in action, on the 18TH of May 1915. Aged 19 years at the time of his death in a Military Hospital at Huddersfield, Harry remains had subsequently been buried in Scarborough’s Manor Road cemetery with full military honours. His badly neglected final resting place is located in Section K, Row 10, Grave 18, in Manor Road.

1914 Private John William Coulson. Also a native of Scarborough [born 1880], John had died from the effects of wounds received in action, on the 30TH of April 1915. His remains are also interred in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France [Section 7, Row A, grave 36].

1881 Private Arthur John Waller. Also born in Scarborough, during 1887, Arthur had been the youngest son of Elizabeth and James M. Waller and had been killed in action on the 25 of April 1915 whilst serving in the Ypres Sector. A former upholsterer for Scarborough’s Marshall & Snelgrove’s, Private Waller possesses no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 33 of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres.

[1] In 1915 the 1ST/5TH with the 1ST/4TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and 1ST/4TH East Yorkshire Regiment together with the 1ST/5TH Durham Light Infantry had formed the 150TH [1ST York and Durham] Brigade of the 50TH [Northumbrian] Division, which like all Divisions during the greater part of the Great War had consisted of three Brigades of infantry, the other two being the 149TH and 151ST which had been composed of units drawn from the Northumberland Fusiliers and Durham Light Infantry respectively [the Fifth Battalion of the Border Regiment had joined the division later]. Also in the Division had been four Regiments of Artillery and in addition four regiments apiece from the Royal Engineers and Royal Army Medical Corps.

[2] Private Edwin King ‘B’ Company 5TH Yorkshire Regiment: Once a Howard twice a citizen. Tovey and Podmore, Volunteers Press 1995.

[3] The Green Howards in the Great War; Harold Carmichael Wylly. Richmond Yorks 1926.

[4] For a number of years I had been unable to trace the Thorpe family’s whereabouts at the time of the 1901 Census. However, recently I have found that that during 1901 the family had been residing in Scotland, at No1a Castlehill in the city of Aberdeen, and had consisted of ‘ship’s steward’ Samuel R. Thorpe, aged 39 years, born Southampton, Louisa, 31 years, born Bridlington, Alice Louisa, 7 years, George Thomas, 3 years, and three months old Asenath G., all had been born at Hull.

[5] In addition to George Thorpe, during the period between April the 23RD and May 25TH 1915 the Fifth Battalion had lost two officers and thirty-eight other ranks killed in action or ‘missing’.

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