Trench raiding in World War One - 1916

- Private Harry McBean
- Lance Corporal John Robert McBean
- Sergeant Arthur Paterson
- Lance Corporal Arthur Clarke
- Private Walter Clarke
- Lieutenant Edward Reginald Spofforth
- Private Leonard Gordon Ryott
- Private Francis Charles Ingle

The Tenth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had remained in the same positions throughout January and into February 1916. Of this period Wylly states that the battalion were…’doing their best to keep their parapets intact and their trenches drained, and losing small numbers of men almost daily from the enemy guns and snipers’…[1]

Another activity detrimental to ones well-being on the Western Front had been the invariably nocturnal practice of Trench raiding. Devised by the British as a means of gathering information [and keeping a fighting edge on the troops] trench raids had been carried out by both sides throughout the war.

During the early hours of Sunday the sixteenth of February the five officers and forty five men of ‘D’ Company, their faces blackened by grease paint and burnt cork, and armed to the teeth with rifles and bayonets and a fearsome array of trench fighting weapons including truncheons, knuckle dusters, and coshes, and haversacks of hand grenades had crept out into No Man’s Land to attack a nearby enemy position known as ‘Black Redoubt’. Their mission had been to obtain prisoners and identifications, to ascertain whether the enemy had installed any gas apparatus in their sector, and in general to kill as many German’s and create as much havoc as possible.

The raid had however, gone wrong from the beginning: ‘Unfortunately the weather was misty and the enemy wire was not properly cut, while snow on the ground showed up the party, which was at once detected and the enemy’s bombs caused many casualties, so that the raiding party was forced to retire without having affected its object. Two officers and nine other ranks were wounded and three men were missing in this affair’[1]

The body of one of the missing Yorkshiremen had later been recovered from near the British front line and had subsequently been identified as that of the twenty one years old 20319 Private Harry McBean.

Attached to ‘D’ Company of the 10th Yorkshires Harry had been born in Scarborough during 1895 at No 19 Bedford Street, and had been the second son of Mary Elizabeth and ‘joiner/carpenter’ Thomas Henry McBean [T.H. McBean and M.E. Pattison had married at St Mary’s Parish Church on May 21ST 1887] who had been living at No 41 Victoria Street at the time of their son’s death. A pupil of the Central Board School in Scarborough’s Trafalgar Street West [now Genevieve Court] Harry had left the school at the age of fourteen to become an apprentice to hairdresser George Williamson whose shop had been at No7 Castle Road. [2]

A comparison of the Army numbers of Harry McBean [20319], and Frank Bryce [20324] shows that Harry had enlisted five men before the Corporal during January 1915. therefore the two men have virtually the same service history, the exception being the earlier promotion of the previously served Frank Bryce.

The unofficial news of the young soldiers death had reached his parents towards the end of February, a few days later, on Friday the third of March 1916, the Scarborough Mercury had reported:

‘Young 10th Yorks killed in action - The parents of Private H. McBean, 10TH Yorks, 41, Victoria Street, Scarborough, have been officially informed that their son has been killed in action.

A few days ago they had the news unofficially, and this unfortunately has been confirmed. Private McBean joined the forces a year ago and has been in France about six months. He was 21 years of age and unmarried. Private McBean served his time with Mr. Williamson, hairdresser, Castle Road. Mr. Thomas Henry McBean, Private McBean’s father, is a joiner, and has been working on the military huts at Richmond’…

The remains of Harry McBean had eventually been taken by an ambulance and a burial party drawn from the battalion to a burial ground located close to the town of Armentieres, where they had been interred in Plot 9, Section E, Grave 6. Now known as ‘Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery’, this beautifully maintained cemetery is now located in the rather grubby industrial suburbs of the city of Armetieres, and is rather hard to find.

Apart from the War Memorial on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount, the name of Harry McBean is commemorated on the ‘Roll of Honour’ in St Mary’s Church in Castle Road, and also on a gravestone in Manor Road Cemetery [Section N, Row 2, Grave 30] which also bears the names of his Scarborough born father Thomas Henry McBean, who had passed away on the 30TH of August 1931 at the age of sixty nine, and elder sister ‘Lilly’ McBean [born at Scarborough during 1891] who had died on the tenth of December 1910 at the age of nineteen years.

Also included on the memorial is the name of Harry’s elder brother, who had also lost his life during the war, 8228 Lance Corporal John Robert McBean, Military Medal.

Attached to the 9TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, ‘Jack’ had been born at Scarborough during 1888, and had been the eldest of the McBean’s children. Another pupil of the ‘Central’ Board School, McBean had left the establishment at the age of fourteen to begin an apprenticeship as a joiner with local building contractor, John Jaram, remaining with the firm until his enlistment into the Army at Scarborough during 1915.

A married man by the outbreak of war, Jack had been the husband of Wilhelmina Alice, ‘Minnie’ McBean, a daughter of Janet and Frederick Walters, the Verger of St Mary’s Parish Church, and the father of two children, Joyce and Lillian, [a third child, a son, would be born during 1917, and eventually be baptised as John Henry McBean at St Mary’s Church on January the seventh]. The family living in Scarborough at No.38 St Mary’s Walk.

Following his enlistment McBean had been sent to the Yorkshire Regiments Depot at Richmond for basic military training before being posted during May 1915 to the regiment’s newly formed [September 1914] Ninth Battalion which had been in the 69TH Brigade of the 23RD Division, which had been training in the Bordon /Bramshott area of Hampshire.

The men of the Twenty Third Division had eventually received their orders to proceed to France on the twentieth of August 1915 and had landed at Boulogne on the twenty sixth, the formation had subsequently concentrated at Tilques, near St Omer, in Northern France.

Jack McBean’s first taste of action had been on the fourth of July 1916, when the Ninth Yorkshire Regiment had taken their place in the Somme Offensive by taking part in operations during the Battle of Albert and the eventual capture of the village of Contalmaison on the tenth of July. During October he had again seen action at Pozieres Ridge, the Battle of Flers/Courcelette, Morval, the Transloy Ridges, and Le Sars [by this time four members of the 23RD Division had gained the Victoria Cross].

McBean had survived the dreadful carnage of the Somme and had subsequently taken part in the terrible slaughter of the 1917 offensives. Between the seventh of June and twelfth of October he had been a stretcher-bearer during the desperate Battle of Messines, and had later been awarded the Military Medal for his actions. ’The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the twenty sixth of October had recorded:

‘Scarboro Footballer awarded Military Medal - Carried wounded in under heavy shellfire - Private John Robert McBean, Yorks. Regt. 38, St. Mary’s Walk, has been awarded the Military Medal. The official note regarding the incident for which the distinction was awarded is as follows: -

‘This stretcher-bearer displayed exceptional bravery in attending to wounded and carrying them in under heavy shellfire, regardless of personal safety’

The date attached is October 18TH, but as a result of bravery in July Private McBean came under notice. He is well known in local football circles, having assisted Wednesday and Saturday League clubs. He has been thirteen months in France’…

Shortly after the above article had appeared the award had been presented to McBean at a Ceremony in Scarborough, soon afterwards he had returned to his unit, which although still in France, had by this time received orders to proceed with the 23RD Division to the war in Italy. The Division had subsequently concentrated on the 16TH of November 1917 between Mantua and Marcaria, taking over a portion of the front line on the Montello behind the River Piave.

During September 1918 the Ninth York’s had received orders to return to the Western Front, the formation had arrived on the seventeenth and had duly been attached to the 74TH Brigade of the 25TH Division, with which the battalion had seen action during the Battle of Beaurevoir [3-5 October], the Battle of Cambrai 1918[8-9 October], and the Pursuit to the Selle [9-12 October], during which, on Thursday the tenth of October, near the village of St Benin, Jack McBean had been wounded by rifle fire The mortally wounded Lance Corporal had been evacuated to one of the many military hospitals near the city of Rouen, where, despite the efforts of Royal Army Medical Corps surgeons he had succumbed to his wounds at the age of thirty years on Monday the fourteenth of October.

The demise of Jack McBean’ had been highlighted in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the eighteenth of October 1918:

‘Local families war sacrifices - Official news has been received that Lance Corporal McBean, Yorkshire Regiment, St. Mary’s Walk, has died in a French Hospital, having sustained a bullet wound. First news that he was wounded reached Mrs. McBean from Private A. Maw, R.A.M.C., Stanley Street, a Scarborough man stationed at the hospital, who had been requested by Lance Corporal McBean to inform his wife. Private Maw stated that an operation to extract the bullet would be necessary. Lance Corporal McBean, who had served in Italy and France, lost a brother in the war about two years ago, and Mrs. McBean who is a daughter of Mr. Walters, Verger of St Mary’s, has, in addition to her husband, lost three brothers. Lance Corporal McBean was awarded the Military Medal last October, the presentation taking place in Scarborough. In addition to the bullet wound McBean’s face was also grazed. Lance Corporal McBean leaves a widow and three young children’… [3]

The remains of John Robert McBean had been taken to St. Sever Cemetery Extension near the village of Le Petit Quevilly, which is situated about three kilometres to the south of Rouen, where they had been buried in Section S. Plot 2. Row B, Grave 2 of the cemetery.

During the afternoon of Wednesday the 26TH of September 1923 over 15,000 people had stood atop Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount to watch the unveiling of the town’ memorial to seven hundred and seventy two men, women, and children who had lost their lives during the ‘Great War’. Having lost three sons, a son in law, and his brother during the war, the honour of unveiling a side of the memorial had been rightly bestowed on Mrs. Janet Walters, who had also represented the mothers and widows of the fallen. Also at the ceremony had been Minnie McBean and her three children, who had placed a floral tribute to their lost father and four uncles on the monument. Minnie McBean had continued to live at her home in St. Mary’s Walk [a stones throw from the Parish Church where her husband’s name is commemorated on a ‘Roll of Honour’] well into the 1930’s.

A few days after the death of her husband Minnie McBean had placed an epitaph in the Births, Deaths, and Marriages column of ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 25TH of October 1918, which had echoed the sentiments of the thousands upon thousands of families who had lost loved ones in the course of the war - ‘Only those who have lost can understand'

Standing before the forlorn door of No. 60 Ramshill Road during September 2000 I could hardly imagine what the ‘Old Martinian’s’ would have made of their once beloved, and thought by many, premier Grammar School of Scarborough. To have once been the ‘White Rose Coffee Shop’ had been a bad enough end for the school, but the ‘For Sale’ sign above the once proud portals, and the former downstairs classroom filled with cut price ‘everything must go’ junk had been the final ignominious nails in the coffin of a once proud place of learning.

Situated on the corner of the then Ramsdale [now Ramshill] Road, and StMartin’s Place, St Martin’s Grammar School had been the brainchild of the first Vicar of St Martin’s-on-the-Hill Church, the Reverend Robert Henning Parr, and designed by George Frederick Bodly, the Architect of St Martin’s Church, the corner stone of the school had been laid on the 29TH of November 1870.

Henning Parr had envisaged St Martins to be a ‘Middle School’, a school run on more ambitious lines than the elementary schools of the day, a school in what had then been known as the ‘Second Grade’, taking boys up to the age of sixteen to prepare them for entry into the trades and professions. The Vicar had hoped that the school would appeal to Scarborough’s tradesmen, people generally of modest means who had wanted their sons to have a good education in a day school without having to send them to boarding schools out of town [the school did nonetheless eventually cater for a number of ‘boarders’ who had lived in the Headmaster’s house]. The fees for the school had eventually been set at six pounds eight shillings per year, however, the boy’s who had sung in the choir of St Martin’s Church had paid no fees.

The front door of St Martin’s Grammar School had been opened to admit the first intake of pupils on the 8TH of April 1872. The boys going upstairs to a classroom on the first floor of the building. The ground floor room, [eventually to be the White Rose Coffee Shop] had initially been used as a night school for working people and the Parish Sunday School, however during September 1874 the room had become an elementary and infant school for girls.

By the beginning of the ‘Great War’ the flourishing Grammar School in Ramshill Road had acquired a formidable reputation amongst the schools in Scarborough both academically and on the sports field. Many ‘Martinian’s’ had left the school to spread their wings at home and abroad in commerce, the trades, and inevitably the armed forces. No matter where they had ended up the ‘Old Martinians’ would keep in touch with their old school via the pages of the school’s magazine, ‘The Martinian’, which had reported their whereabouts and ‘doings’ in each issue.

There is not doubt that the school’s ex pupils had possessed warm hearts and a strong bond of loyalty towards their old school, an example of this ‘warmth can be found in a letter which had been included in the 1915 edition of the magazine*, which had been submitted by Henning Parr’s successor at St Martin’s Church, and Chairman of the School’s Board of Governors, the Venerable Archdeacon Charles C. Mackarness

‘Dear Mr. Editor,
I am delighted to hear that you are bringing out another number of our St. Martin’s Grammar School Old Boy’s Magazine. The former numbers have been crowned with such success that we can look forward to the new number with hope and confidence.

The Magazine does a great work in cementing the unity of all our boys both past and present. We are proud to think that so many of our old boys are serving their country abroad at this time, and I know how glad they will be to see the ‘Martinian’ for this year. Their loyalty to their old school is a marked testimony to the excellent character of the school. As you know, the school has won quite a remarkable number of honours in public examinations during recent years, and has also proved itself highly efficient on the athletic side.

We all of us feel the utmost confidence in our able and hardworking Head Master [C.F. Turnbull M.A.] and his staff, and congratulate them on the prosperity of the school at the present time as well as on that of the flourishing Old Boy’s Association.
Believe me, yours very sincerely’…

The war had inevitably taken its toll of the ‘Old Martinians’ and each new issue of the magazine had included an ‘In Memoriam’ section featuring the demise of yet more former pupils. The first former pupil to lose his life whilst on active service had been:
Z/1460 Sergeant Arthur Paterson. Born at Rochester, Kent, during 1883 Arthur, affectionately known as ‘Pat’, had been the fourth of seven children of Rosa and Army Band Master, Adam Paterson, who had been retired by the time of his son’s death and living in Scarborough at No 72 Prospect Road, where he had taught music [he had also been employed as a ‘commission agent’].

A pupil at St Martin’s between 1892 and 1896, Arthur had left the school to work in Scarborough in the Borough Engineers Office, and subsequently at the firm of Watts, Kitching, and Donner, Solicitors, in Queen Street. He had also worked in the Town Hall. However, by the beginning of the century he had quit the town to work at Portsmouth and Margate. During 1904, according to the ‘Martinian’ Arthur had left behind Municipal business for the: ‘more lucrative, if less settled, life of an actor. Beginning as a comedian, and eventually rising to be stage manager’…

During September 1914 Paterson had enlisted into the Army at Marylebone, Essex, [at the time he had been living at Kennington in Surrey] and had eventually been posted to the 6TH [Reserve] Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, which had been stationed at Magdalen Hill Camp at Winchester.

Following basic military training, Private Paterson had been sent to the 4TH Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, a Regular Army formation that had arrived at Devonport during November 1914, after service on the North West Frontier of India [at Dagshai]. The battalion had eventually joined the eightieth brigade during the same month, following a period of training the battalion had crossed to France during December 1914. By February 1915 Arthur had been in Flanders, where his battalion [with the Third R.B.] had taken over from the French Army a section of disconnected and waterlogged trenches to the south of Ypres at the neck of the infamous salient, near to the battered village of St Eloi [after three days in these trenches five hundred men from the Fourth Rifle Brigade had temporarily debilitated with trench foot].

Whilst at St Eloi the Fourth Rifle Brigade had received their ‘baptism of fire’ in an attack of a new German trench that had reached to within ten yards of the British front line. The Battalion’s ‘War Diary’ had recorded the riflemen’s terrifying ordeal:

‘The battalion proceeded to occupy a trench known as ‘Number 21’, from which they launched the attack. ‘D’ Company with a party of twelve bombers filed off, the whole place being lighted by a brilliant moon, and they came quickly under the deadly fire of a machine gun trained on the opening from the trench. Our field guns were sending beautifully timed shells into the main enemy parapet, but the boom and rattle of gun, rifle and machine gun increased from the enemy side. ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies now followed up the attack across 100yards of open, and found the entrance to the trench by the gruesome markers of two dead corporals propped up like sentinels on either side…

The trench was a ghoulish place, full of corpses of every regiment, lying and crouching in every attitude, some still grasping swords that stuck from the mud—the man trap of a nightmare. In places this ghastly crowd left no room for passage, and the riflemen climbed out and crawled along the parapet, scrambling in again when they could. They reached an angle where came up with the first company. Just beyond this corner the trench was blocked with by a barricade, a veritable fortress of sandbags and wire in front of it lay a heap of thirty of our dead and wounded who had faced the ambush.

No one could live round that corner, no one could leave the trench to flank the barricade—it was covered by machine guns and rifles at eighty yards range that waited for any man to appear. Nearly the whole of ‘D’Company had been wiped out. The Third Battalion next came up in support, and the Fourth retired behind the breastwork leaving one company in the captured trench They were bombed and bombed again, till their captain, with a bullet through the chest and arm and twice wounded by bombs, found himself with only four men left alive and unwounded. Then the survivors crawled back. The casualties among the three hundred who had gone into action were a hundred and thirteen, all the bomb throwers and their officers being killed’

The battalion had moved on the fifth of April 1915 to begin tours of duty in the Polygon Wood sector. On the twenty second the 4TH Rifle Brigade had moved from Ypres through the village of St Jean to Potijze, where they had taken up reserve positions in a wood to the east of a château there. Four days later, on Monday the twenty sixth of April, during the Battle of St Julien, the thirty-two years old Arthur Paterson, by then a Sergeant, had been killed by enemy shellfire. An account of the soldier’s death had appeared in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the ‘Martinian’ of 1916:

‘One of his fellow sergeants wrote to his father: - He was killed on the 26TH April 1915, about 1pm, while on observation duty. The Regiment at the time were lying in support of the French Turco [Moroccan] troops who were making an attack. Pat and a party were sent along the Yser Canal to watch the advance and report anything to headquarters… ‘From what I gathered, Pat was continuously assisting the sentries on observation, and while doing so a shrapnel shell burst overhead killing him and wounding the sentry. One bullet penetrated his brain and another his shoulder. The same afternoon he was buried alongside the once beautiful Yser Canal, and his grave is marked by two crosses’

After three more years of ferocious fighting near Ypres, the grave by the Yser Canal had never been found after the armistice, therefore Arthur’s name had been included, with fifty four thousand names of men with ‘No Known Grave’s’ on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres [now Leper] in Western Flanders. His name can be found on Panels 46 to 48, and 50, which are dedicated to the missing of the Rifle Brigade.

Apart from the War Memorial Arthur Paterson’s name is commemorated in Scarborough’s Dean Road Cemetery on one of three pieces of white marble set into the ground of the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery [Section G, Row 17, Grave 22] which mark the last resting place of the soldiers parents, London born Rosa Paterson who had died on the twelfth of December 1920 at the age of seventy four years, and Nottingham born Adam Paterson who had subsequently passed away at the age of eighty one on the twenty ninth of April 1924. Also buried in the grave is Arthur’s younger sister Maddlaine Margaret Paterson who had died on the fifteenth of October 1972 at the age of eighty eight years.

Also featured in the 1916 edition of the ‘Martinian’ had been 2359 Lance Corporal Arthur Clarke.

Killed in action by shellfire in the Ypres Sector near Zillebeke on Thursday the second of March 1916, Arthur had been born in Scarborough at No.40 North Street during 1894 [Baptised at St Mary’s Parish Church on the 10TH of May], and had been the youngest son of Margaret Ann and Daniel Clarke, a baker and bread maker, who had been living at No10 Elders Street at the time of their son’s death. [Daniel Clarke and Margaret A. Cawood had married at St Mary’s on the 2ND of September 1882].

A pupil of St Martin’s between 1906 and 1909, Clarke had left the school to work for opticians Mr. George Smith and Son which had been situated at No.7 Westborough, where he had remained until his enlistment during September 1914. The magazine had said this of Arthur:

‘Old Boy’s of his date will recall how at school he edited or co-edited various more or less ephemeral magazines such as the ‘Weekly Times’. The same overflowing energy which produced these effusions manifested itself after he had left the school for business [with Mr Smith, the optician, in Westborough], when he and a few kindred spirits formed an amateur pierrot troupe, styling themselves ‘The Jolly J’s’ giving their services free to help any worthy object. His part was that of comedian’…

Clarke had enlisted into the newly formed Territorial Force 2ND/ 5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment at their Headquarters in the Drill Hall in North Street during September 1914 and had remained with the formation until September 1915 when he had been sent to the Western Front with a draft of replacements to the Regiments 1ST/5TH Battalion which had been in the Ypres Sector. By the time of the twenty one years old Corporal’s death the Fifth Yorks had been in trenches in Sanctuary Wood where they had been enduring a particularly savage enemy artillery bombardment following the recent loss to the 76TH Brigade of the British 25TH Division of a nearby important observation point known as ‘The Bluff’.

The official date of Arthur Clarke’s death is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [and ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’] as Friday the third of March, however, news of their sons death had reached the Clarke’s during Tuesday the seventh of March 1916, in the form of a letter dated the third of March, which had been written by Arthur’s Commanding Officer, Captain Edward G.C. Bagshawe, the letter had subsequently appeared in the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the tenth:

‘I very much regret to have to inform you of the death of your son, 2359, Lance Corporal A. Clarke. He was standing in a trench with another man [Private Sidney Jefferson, of Wold Newton] yesterday when a shell burst killing them both. He was killed instantly, therefore suffering no pain. He was buried last night near some more of our men. A cross is being placed over his grave. I trust you will accept my deepest sympathy in your great sorrow. I can assure you your son is a great loss to us, as he was always very cheerful’

The article reporting the death of the soldier had gone on to say. A sad coincidence is that together with the letter conveying the news of his death there arrived a very cheerful letter from the deceased, in which he spoke of being in excellent health’

The remains of Corporal Clarke and Private Jefferson had duly been taken for burial to a cemetery in the nearby ‘Maple Copse’, near to the ruined village of Zillebeke, however, during the ensuing two years of bloodshed the cemetery had been virtually obliterated by enemy shellfire destroying the majority of the two hundred and fifty six graves there. After the war only twenty-six graves were definitely located, the rest, including those of Arthur Clarke and Sidney Jefferson are commemorated by ‘Special Memorials’ [G.6 and C.16. respectively].

A member of the congregation of Christ Church in Scarborough’s Vernon Road, after the war Arthur’s name had been included on the church ‘Roll of Honour’, which takes the form of a wooden cabinet inside which there is a crucifix. The names of twenty members of the congregation who had lost their lives during the war are recorded on the inner surface of the doors. Following the closure of Christ Church in 1978 the memorial had been relocated in St Mary’s Parish Church were it can be seen to this day [2003].

Arthur’s name can also be found on a gravestone in Scarborough’s Dean Road Cemetery [Plot B, Row 20, Grave 7], which also bears the name of the Clarke’s second son Private Walter Clarke, who had served during the war with the Army Service Corps. He had died on Thursday the 28TH of November 1918 at London whilst serving with the Fourth City of London Motor Transport section. As far as I know no details regarding Walter’s death were ever reported in the local newspapers, neither had the Clarke family placed a notice in the Death Announcements of the ‘Mercury’. Nonetheless, the remains of the twenty-seven years old had been interred in the grave in Dean Road on the third of December 1918. [Walter Clarke’s name is also commemorated on the Christ Church Memorial].

[At the time of the 1901 Census of Scarborough the Clarke family had been living in Scarboerough at No 66 North Street and had consisted of Norfolk born Daniel aged 38 years, Baker/Bread maker, Wife Margaret aged 41years, born Scarborough, eldest son Samuel W. aged 13 years, daughter Jessie aged 11 years, Walter aged 10years, Arthur aged 7 years, Lucy aged 3years, and Hilda aged 2 years, all of whom had been born at Scarborough].

The gravestone also bears an epitaph to the Clarke’s two lost sons - ‘Cut down like a flower in the bloom of their manhood’

On the border stones of the grave are engraved the names of Margaret Ann Clarke who had died on the 15TH of July 1931 at the age of seventy-one years, and her husband Daniel who had passed away at No 10 Elder Street on Monday the 23RD of December 1935 at the age of seventy-three years.

During the operations for possession of ‘The Bluff’ the Fifth battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment had suffered one officer and five men killed, and a further two officers and twenty seven ‘other ranks’ wounded. The name of the officer who had been killed:
Lieutenant Edward Reginald Spofforth. Also killed on Thursday the second of March 1916, Edward had been born at York on the fifteenth of January 1891 and had been the only son of Mary Darley [formerly Fligg] and Edward Spofforth. A six years old Spofforth had arrived at Scarborough at the turn of the century with his recently widowed mother and elder sister Frances Mary [born at York 1ST September 1889] to live in the then opulent Westbourne Grove [No17] of South Cliff. Educated primarily in York, the youngster had eventually been sent to Wheater’s ‘Grammar School’ in Albemarle Crescent to finish his education. After leaving Wheater’s at the age of fourteen Edward Spofforth had been employed by solicitor William Drawbridge at his office in Newborough.

A pre war officer in the Territorial Force Fifth Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment Spofforth had served with the formation from the outset, and had survived virtually unscathed the battalion’s dreadful ‘baptism of fire’ during the Battle of St Julien [24TH April- 4TH May]. The remains of the twenty-four years old Edward Spofforth had unaccountably been taken to the town of Poperinge [pronounced Poperingey, better known to the troops as ‘Pop’] for burial. The Portland grave marker identifying the Lieutenant’s last resting place can be located in Section 1, Plot G, [Grave27] of Poperinge New Military Cemetery, in Western Flanders.

Not an ‘Old Martinian’, Edward Reginald Spofforth had nevertheless been a member of the congregation of St Martin’s Church, and after the war his name had been included on the church ‘Roll of Honour’ to fifty members of the congregation [including Arthur Clarke] who had lost their lives during the war, The memorial, consisting of a wooden cabinet with the names of the fallen inscribed on the inside surface of the doors can be located on the north interior wall of the church.

The officer’s name can also be found in Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery [Section H, Border] on a monument that also commemorates his Scarborough born Great-Grand parents, William and Ann Fligg. William had died at sea on the 13THof January1834 at the age of 45 years Ann Fligg had passed away at the age 76 years on the 3RD of September 1865. Also commemorated are Edward Spofforth’s Grand parents William and Susannah Fligg, who had passed away on the 29TH of January 1861, and February 1903 respectively at the ages of 50 and 90years.

Also included are the names of his Scarborough born mother who had died at her home at No9 Granville Road on the 14TH of June 1923, at the age of seventy years, and sister Frances Mary [who had served as a nurse during the war with the Voluntary Aid Detachment] who had subsequently passed away [having never married] on the thirtieth of May 1961 at the age of seventy two years.

The motto of St Martin’s Grammar had been ‘Fight the good fight’, many of the ‘Old Boy’s’ had lived up to their old school’s code and by the end of the war forty one of them had fought and given their lives. After the conflict the names of the men had been inscribed on a large stone cross of poor quality. Sadly, in 2003, their names are almost obliterated by time and the elements, however, as far as I can gather they had been:

Armstrong C.S., Atkinson R.C*, Atkinson W.P., Berry C.V.E., Clarke A. *, Clarkson [Military Cross] W.H.*, Coates F.H.*, Cromack J. Vevers*, Clapp D.P., Dews A.H., Daws E. *, Ellershaw S., Etches T.S.F.A.*, Fell M.H.*, Fowler H. *, Harland R. *, Harwood J.W.*, Ireland M., Jackson E. *, Jennings E., Knox E.M.*, King H. *, Leadbeater C., McNaught A.C., Miller E. Newlove F. *, Paterson A. *, Petch E.S.*, Priest B., Patrick L.W., Pattrick G.A., Powell B.B., Stephenson H., Slack W.H., Tadman W., Tasker W. *, Waind J.B., Walker W.W., Webster E.J., Whitley E.L., Whittaker A.B.* [* featured elsewhere in my text].

The inscription on the front of the memorial outside St Martin’s Church is however, still readable - ‘Their name lived forever more, Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and may light perpetual Shine upon them’.

Also killed during this period of the war 19518 Private Leonard Gordon Ryott. Born in Scarborough at No.3 Gordon Street during 1898, Leonard had been the youngest son of Emily and Frederick Archibald Ryott. A former pupil of Scarborough’s Gladstone Road School, Leonard had enlisted into the Prince of Wales’s Own [West Yorkshire] Regiment at Scarborough during January 1915, and had initially been sent for training at Whitley Bay with the 3RD [Reserve] Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. [2]

Considered fit for service abroad by April 1915, Leonard had duly been posted to the 12TH Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, which had been training with the remainder of 50TH Brigade of the 17TH [Northern] Division in the Wareham area of Dorsetshire, where at the start of July the formation had received orders to move overseas. Advance parties from 17TH Division had begun to arrive in France on the 7TH of July 1915, and by the 15TH of the month the whole formation had been concentrated in France just to the south of St Omer. However, two days later the 17TH Division had received orders to move northwards to Flanders, where the various units of the Division had begun to receive instruction in trench warfare.

Attached to Fifth Corps of the British Second Army, the 10TH Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment had first seen action on the 9TH of August 1915, when the British had attacked the German held village of Hooge located on the road between Ypres and Menin. During these operations the newly arrived 17TH Division had taken a supporting role by putting up a series of fire attacks and bombardments. At the beginning of 1916 Ryott’s unit had been involved in the loss and recapture of a position known as ‘The Bluff’ a narrow ridge located on the northern bank of the Ypres—Comines Canal that had been considered as an important observation point.

Amongst over thirty men of the 10TH Battalion that had lost their lives during these operations the news of their son’s death had reached Mr and Mrs Ryott by mid March 1916. The tidings had eventually been included in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 17TH of March 1916:

‘Scarborough soldier killed - The war has taken toll of another young Scarborough soldier in the person of Private L.G. Ryott, news of whose death on March 2ND has been received. He was struck by a shell in the trenches and died ten minutes later.

Private Ryott, who was only eighteen years of age, was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. F.A. Ryott of ‘Snaygill’ Raleigh Street and the grandson of the late Dr. Ryott, of Thirsk.

He was a native of Scarborough, and received his schooling in the town. Joining the 10TH west Yorkshires last April. He went to the front three months later. In his letters home to Scarborough he had always written in the most cheerful strain, and his comrades speak of him as having always been bright and companionable’

No identifiable remains of Leonard Ryott had ever been recovered from the mud of Flanders and his name had eventually been included on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. Located in the Western Flanders city of Ypres, this Memorial contains the names of over fifty four thousand British and Commonwealth [except New Zealand] officers and men that had lost their lives in the Ypres Sector of Flanders that posses no known graves. Leonard’s name can be found on Panel 21.

Once a member of the congregation of Scarborough’s Holy Trinity Church, Leonard Ryott’s name had been included on the church ‘Roll of Honour’, however, following the closure of this church the whereabouts of this memorial is not known. Nevertheless, apart from Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount Memorial, the former ‘Glaggo Road’ boy’s name can be found on a memorial in the assembly hall of the present day Junior School of Gladstone Road School, which had been unveiled by Leonard’s former Headmaster, Mr. William Robert Drummond, on the 14TH of December 1927. Containing the names of the school’s seventy-three casualties [including two female nurses] this memorial takes the form of a large brass polished plate, and is often featured during the school assemblies closest to the annual celebrations of Armistice Day.

In positions in the farthest flung northern end of the Ypres Salient, near to the village of Boesinge, during the early hours of Saturday/Sunday the 3RD/ 4TH of June the men of the 1ST Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment had mounted an attack on an enemy held position known as ‘The Old British Trenches’, which had been abandoned by British troops some days before that had been assumed to be ‘lightly held by the Germans. At first the West Yorkshiremen had met little resistance and had shortly taken all their objectives without loss. However, soon the Germans had retaliated with an intense bombardment of their recently lost position and throughout the 4TH of June the West Yorkshire had been subjected to an unremitting hail of artillery, machine gun, and rifle fire that had inflicted over thirty casualties amongst the attackers.

Described at the time as a ‘minor enterprise’ the attack had eventually been abandoned and the surviving West Yorkshiremen had been ordered to return to their old positions having gained little and in the process losing one officer, five sergeants, and five other ranks killed, along with a further two sergeants and twenty eight other ranks wounded. Amongst the latter had been a grievously injured twenty three years old Scarborough born soldier who had eventually been evacuated to a Dressing Station located in dugouts close to the banks of the nearby Yser Canal, where the youthful soldier’s wounds had been basically attended to before he had been loaded onto a hospital train that had taken him to one of the many Base Hospital’ located in the French port of Boulogne, where, despite the amputation of a leg and the best efforts of the hospital’s surgeons, the youngster had died from the effects of his wounds on the 14TH of June 1916. [3]

Born in Scarborough during 1893 at No.3 Milton Avenue 4/7557 Private Francis Charles Ingle had been the second son of Ellen Susannah [formally Hunt] and ‘coachman Charles Ingle. Popularly known as ‘Frank’, Ingle had been a former pupil of the Falsgrave Council School and had also worked in the Falsgrave area as an apprentice butcher with Mr. J.W. Drake, whose shop had been located at No.117 Falsgrave Road.

Frank had enlisted into the army at Scarborough soon after the outbreak of war and after a twelve weeks course of training at York’s Fulford Barracks had served on the Home Front with the 4TH [Extra Reserve] of the West Yorkshire Regiment before being posted to the Western Front and the 1ST Battalion at the end of 1915.

Although aged over fifty years at the time of his son’s wounding Charles Ingle had, nonetheless, been serving on the Western Front as a Private in the Army Service Corps and upon hearing of Frank’s critical state he had been given leave to visit his son. However, after walking throughout the night he had arrived at the hospital in Boulogne only to find Frank had already passed away and his remains interred in a nearby cemetery. An article in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 30TH of June 1916 takes up the tragic story:

…’Mr Ingle received great kindness from the officials at the hospital, who directed him to his son’s burial place, a cemetery three miles away, on top of a hill near a cathedral. The father had the satisfaction of seeing his son’s resting place, and found it a new grave, a cross being placed thereon with the soldier’s name etc., on it. Some kind sympathisers had placed two wreaths of beautiful white roses on the grave. All the graves are prettily kept, and Frank Ingle’s will have the same attention. The Attendant at the cemetery was exceedingly kind, a fact that which may comfort other sorrowing ones.

The distress of the father after his long, lonely tramp may be imagined. A pathetic feature was expressed in the father’s own words: ‘I brought some beautiful fresh strawberries to take to him, thinking they would be nice’

The remains of Frank Ingle had been interred in a large civil burial ground located in the St Martin Boulogne district of Boulogne known as the ‘Cimetiere de L’Est’. Now known by the name of ‘Boulogne Eastern Cemetery’ this large Cemetery is located on a hill just to the south of the main road to St. Omer and contains over five thousand burials from the Great War and 224 from the Second World War. Frank’s still beautifully maintained final resting place is located in Section 8, Row B, Grave 96.

Commemorated on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial as ‘Ingle F’, elsewhere in the town Francis Charles Ingle’s name can be found on the magnificent ‘Rood Screen’ War memorial in Falsgrave’s St James’s Church which perpetuates the names of fifty other members of the Parish that had lost their lives whilst on active service during the Great War of 1914-1918, and three civilians that had been killed during the German bombardment of Scarborough on the 16TH of December 1914.

[Unlike his son, Charles Ingle had survived the war and had returned to his home at No. 3 Milton Avenue shortly after his demobilisation in 1919].

[1] The Green Howards in the war 1914 1918 W.C. Wylly.

[2] The son of ‘surgeon’ William H., and Anne Ryott, Leonard’s father had been born at Thirsk during 1865. Married to at Pickering during 1886 to Emily Buttle, by the time of the 1901 Census the Ryott family had been residing in Scarborough at No.26 Lyell Street and had consisted of Frederick A. 36 years of age ‘living on own means’, born Thirsk, Emily, 39 years, born Selby, daughters Hilda, 12 years, Emily Agnes, 9 years, Alice, 7 years, born Scarborough, and sons Thomas Beckett, 5 years, born Sawdon, and Leonard Gordon, 3 years, born Scarborough.

[3] Killed during this same action, Scarborough born [1886] 179693 Private George William Watson had been one of three brothers that had lost their lives whilst on active service during the summer of 1916. George’s remains are interred in Section 1, Row P, Grave 39 in Essex Farm Cemetery located near the village of Boezinge in Western Flanders.

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