The battle of Flers Courcelette 1916 - the Somme

Private Thomas Johnson Mainprize
Private Thomas Peacock
Lance Sergeant George William Hogg
Second Lieutenant Matthew Henry Fell
Sergeant Herbert Gill
Private Albert Costello
Second Lieutenant Wilfred Robert Lowson

When I had initially begun to record the names of the men commemorated in Scarborough’s Cemeteries who had been killed during the Somme Offensive of 1916 I had expected most of them to have been casualties of the early stages of the battle, especially so considering the dreadful death toll of July the first. This was not the case. The majority as you will find are commemorated as dying in the third stage of the Offensive, the attack on the German third line of positions which had began on the fifteenth of September and had lasted until the twenty second of the month, which had been named the battle of Flers/Courcelette.

I must admit that before I had begun to look into the battles of the First World War more closely I had never heard of the battle of Flers/Courcelette, indeed the battle is still overshadowed in the majority of the books that cover the Somme Offensive, except that is, for the part played by a handful of tanks which entered the war for the first time during the battle and had subsequently changed the face of warfare forever.

Despite the view of many authors who have written about Flers/Courcelette, who consider it as being a battle with relatively few casualties in view of the gains that had been achieved. Thousands of men on both sides had been killed, or wounded; many had simply ‘vanished’, blown to pieces in an instant by shellfire. The 5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, with many local men in its ranks had been amongst those who had suffered badly during the action. A part of the 50TH [Northumbrian] Division, perhaps one of the finest Territorial Army Divisions to serve during the ‘Great War’, the seven men featured in the following pages were indeed seven of the best, sadly they had to die to receive any form of recognition.

The 5TH Battalion had missed the carnage of the opening stages of the Somme Offensive having been in the Ypres salient, [where they had been suffering their own brand of hell since April 1915] in trenches near a village named Locre. Here the Battalion had been carrying out routine trench work, provided fatigue parties, and occasionally night raids on the nearby enemy positions for intelligence purposes. The Fifth had received their marching orders to move to the Somme in August. Entraining on the eleventh the men had travelled from Bailleul to the railhead at the Somme town of Doullens, marching from there to Bernaville where they were allowed to rest for three days. The Battalion then moved on to the village of Millencourt a little to the west of Albert, where the men spent the remainder of August training for their forthcoming introduction to the Somme Offensive, which unknown to them had already been planned for the fifteenth of September.

The forthcoming battle [already named by the powers that were as the Battle of Flers/Courcelette] would be carried out once again by Fourth Army, under the command of General Sir Henry Rawlinson. Basically the plan was to attack on a front of six miles the German third line of trenches, which ran in front of, and in between the villages of courcelette and Flers, [which lie seven and nine miles north east of Albert respectively]. Also included in the plan of attack for the fifteenth were assaults on the notorious High Wood, which had eluded capture since the first day of the offensive and which had exacted a fearful toll on the British Army, and the heavily defended village of Martinpuich, which was regarded as the hinge and key to the whole front.

As I have already stated, accounts of the fighting at Flers/ Courcelette are invariably dominated by the progress of forty nine of the new fangled ‘Landships’ which made their debut during the Battle, in actual fact only nine of the machines played an active role during the battle, the others having broken down before going into action or had got bogged down during it, whatever, the part played by the infantry is more often than not overlooked. It was left to the dogged Infantry [as usual] to carry the day, the tanks sensational entry into the war however stealing their well-deserved thunder. My story primarily concerns the progress of the ‘footsloggers’ during the fighting.

The battle had been envisaged by the British High Command as the final and long awaited breakthrough of the German lines to the elusive town of Bapaume, which lay beyond and which should have been taken on the first day of the fighting way back in July. This was to be ‘The Battle’. There were to be no half measures, Fourth Army’s instructions, issued to the men on the 9th of September were explicit enough, and exhorted the men to even higher endeavours:

‘The Attack will be pushed home with the utmost vigour all along the line till the most distant objectives have been reached. For the last two and a half months we have been gradually wearing the enemy down, his moral is shaken, he has few, if any fresh reserves available, and there is every probability that a combined effort will result in a decisive victory’…

The 5TH York’s had left Millencourt for Lozenge Wood [just to the north of Fricourt] on the ninth of September, the following moving up to their assembly point for the forthcoming battle at Pioneer Alley and Swansea Trench. It had been here that another man from Scarborough had lost his life, due to enemy shellfire on Wednesday the 13THof September 1916: 3965 Private Thomas Johnson Mainprize.

Born in Scarborough in 1878, Tom had been the eldest of two sons of Jane and ‘Joiner / Builder’, Samuel Mainprize, who were living at No.73 Prospect Road in 1916. Married in Scarborough during 1905 to Mary Horsman, by the start of the war Tom and his wife had residing in the town at no 29 Prospect road, [now a Hairdressing salon] where he had carried on a business as a Tailor until the 5TH Battalion’s mobilisation in August 1914. He had landed with the Battalion at Boulogne in April 1915, and had subsequently been wounded in his right hand during their ‘baptism of fire’ in Flanders during the Battle of St Julien, which had taken place later in the month.

Wounded during the Battle of St. Julien and evacuated from the battlefield, Tom Mainprize had been shipped home to ‘Blighty’ where he had recovered from his wounds at the Auxiliary Military Hospital at Breeze Hill, Bootle, Liverpool. [A photograph of Tom and other wounded 5th Yorks recovering from their injuries at the Hospital appeared later in the Scarborough Pictorial].

Following his death at the age of 38 years, the remains of Tom Mainprize had probably been hastily bundled into an Army blanket and buried somewhere near where he had fallen. Fortunately his grave had survived the subsequent two years of the war as his remains were retrieved by one of the many Army burial parties which scoured the Somme battlefield in 1919 and was one of the 1,149 casualties to be re-interred, in Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, ten miles east of the town of Albert, where his grave can be found to this day in Plot 3, Row 1, Grave 21.

Thomas Johnson Mainprize is also commemorated in Dean Road Cemetery near the derelict chapel in Plot F, Border, on a headstone which also includes the names of his parents [his Father had died in April 1922 at the age of 79 years, his mother in December 1940 aged 93 years]. Also commemorated are sisters; Jane Ann, who had died in July 1871 aged one year, Edith Alice, born in 1873, died on February 1st 1963. Emma Jane, born in 1876, died July 8th 1962, and younger brother Wilfred Hodgson Mainprize. Born in 1887, Wilf had been a former pupil of St Martins Grammar School [1900-1905] and before the war had gained a Batchelor of Arts Degree and for a time had been a Master at Reigate Grammar School. However, at the beginning of the war Wilfred had joined the Royal Naval Air Service with which he had served throughout the conflict. In 1918 he had been serving in the Mediterranean with the rank of Lieutenant. He is however commemorated as at some stage being a Captain? in the Royal Air Force. He had died on April 11th 1973. Also included is the name of Wilfred’s wife, Winifred Mary Mainprize, who had passed away on the 19TH of March.

Zero hour for the proposed attack had been set at 6-20am on the morning of Friday the fifteenth of September. The preliminary bombardment of the German positions opening on the 12th with double the intensity of the one that had heralded the opening of the Offensive on the First of July, which would gradually intensify until zero hour, the Infantry then going forward under the cover of a ‘creeping barrage’ of artillery fire.

For the forthcoming battle 50TH Division were attached to the 3RD Corps of the 4TH Army, their area of operations would be between the village of Martinpuich and High Wood which lies a little to the south east of the village. They, with the 15TH[Scottish] Division, had the task of capturing the village and an elaborate network of trenches, with names such as Hook, Triangles, Gunpit, Bottom, and Starfish trenches. These ran in front of, and to the east and south of Martinpuich, and were manned the veterans of the 17TH Bavarian Regiment, a unit noted for their doggedness and determination.

Accounts of the operations between Martinpuich and High Wood are sparse. As far as I can gather 50TH Division were assembled for the attack in trenches to the south east of Martinpuich, on their left were the Fifteenth [Scottish] Division with two Brigades of Infantry [45THand 46TH]. The Fiftieth were also fielding two Brigades, [the 150TH and 149TH]. Each of the Divisions were to be assisted with two tanks each.
The attack had duly begun at Zero Hour, 6-20am on Friday the fifteenth of September. 150TH Brigade, [with 4TH East Yorks on the left, 4TH Yorks in the centre and 5TH Yorks to the right] rose from their starting point into the early morning mist. The Brigade had sent their two tanks ahead, one had reached their first objective, Hook Trench, which it had sprayed with machine gun and six pounder shell fire until it had been put out of action by two German shells. The second tank had trundled over the trench and had accounted for three enemy machine guns on the eastern outskirts of Martinpuich but the machine low on fuel had to turn back to the British line to refuel.

Meanwhile the infantry had attacked their first objective [Hook Trench], which they had cleared and secured by 7am. They had then pushed on to the east of Martinpuich where they had become embroiled in fighting for positions known as ‘Tangle North’ and ‘Martin Trench’, parts of which were to fall but the 4TH East Yorks had been forced to retire by heavy machine gun fire. At 5-45pm the 150TH Brigade had been ordered to attack ‘Prue Trench’ [also to the east of the village] to link up with 15TH Division who were already in Martinpuich, the 5TH Yorks at this time being at the junction of ‘Martin Alley’ and the ‘Starfish line’.

Desperate fighting went on throughout the night of the 15TH and into the next day. German artillery had soon counter attacked and had subjected the village and surrounding areas to very heavy and continuous shellfire, which had caused many casualties.

On paper the above action would appear to have been a fairly bloodless, simple operation. The History of the Green Howards in the Great War, [wylly] has very little to say; ‘The 5TH Battalion with the 4TH reached its objectives and clung to it under very heavy shelling’. A sentence that tells nothing of the savagery that must have taken place during those days and nights to capture what must have then been by then merely a flattened village and smashed earthworks.

The Fifth Yorks had, however, suffered grievously. When the battalion had been relieved at the’ Starfish Line’ in the early morning of the 19TH of September, the men, sodden by pouring rain and utterly exhausted, had moved away over two hundred and fifty officers and men lighter than had gone into the attack four days earlier, [four officers and forty eight other ranks had been killed, eleven officers and one hundred and sixty two non commissioned officers and men were wounded, and a further twenty seven men were missing] including the Battalion’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Mortimer who had been killed by shellfire as he had led his men to their assembly point. Also amongst these casualties:

3366 Private Thomas Peacock. Born in Scarborough at No1 St Johns Road in 1891 Thomas had been the eldest of three sons of Margaret Hannah and ‘Carter’ Thomas Barker Peacock [born in Scarborough in 1865, Thomas had died in September 1898 at the age of 33 years]. Another pre war soldier in the 5TH Battalion, Peacock had enlisted in Scarborough, however, at the time, according to Soldiers died in the Great War, he had been residing at Cayton Bay A veteran of the Battle of St Julien in April 1915, he was aged 25 years at the time of his death, which was possibly the 15TH of September 1916, he is, however, registered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as being killed in action on the 17TH.

The remains of Thomas Peacock had been buried near where he had fallen and after the Armistice his remains had been re-interred in Adanac [Canada reversed] Military Cemetery near the village of Miraumont, in the Department of the Somme, a Cemetery that had been created after the war by the concentration of graves from the battlefields around the village and in particular from the Canadian battlefields around Coucelette, which they had captured on September 15TH. Where his grave can still be found in Plot 4, Row H, Grave 32.

Thomas Peacock is also commemorated in Manor Road Cemetery [Plot O, Row 6, Grave 7.] on a headstone, which also contains the names of his Father and Mother. Margaret Peacock, born in Kirbymoorside had died in February 1936 at the age of 74 years. At the time of her son’s death she had [according to the casualty list in the Scarborough Mercury of Friday September 29TH 1916, in which Thomas’s name had appeared] been living in Scarborough at No 7 Barwick Street. However, by the end of the war she had been living at ‘Cambridge Cottage’ in Cambridge Place, Scalby Road.

Tom’s younger brothers William [born 1895] and Fred [1893] had also served in the war. William had served as a Private [Regimental Number 12582] with the Yorkshire Regiment, whilst Fred Peacock had served as a Driver [Regimental Number 721267], in the Royal Field Artillery, and whilst serving with the Royal Naval Division had been buried by a shell explosion in October 1917 suffering injuries to his face and a foot, [reported in ‘Scarboro Casualties’, Scarborough Mercury, Friday October 26TH1917], he had, nonetheless, survived the war and had lived post war with wife Maud, and mother Margaret Peacock in Cambridge Place.

The same Memorial in Manor Road Cemetery also Commemorates Tom Peacock’s Brother in law; 1559 Lance Sergeant George William Hogg.

Born at Bradford during 1886, George had been the son of Elizabeth and ‘weaving overseer’ William Hogg. Although born in the West Riding of Yorkshire George had lived at Scarborough for a number of years prior to the beginning of the war and had ocne served as a soldier in the Scarborough based pre 1908 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Regiment [in 1908 the Battalion had changed names to the 5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment [Territorial Force]. Time served by the outbreak of war, George had re-enlisted intyo his old Battalion as the clouds of war had begun to roll across Europe during July 1914. Married in the town, to Emily Peacock, the only daughter of Thomas B. and Margaret H.Peacock during 1910, the couple had been living at 19a Scalby Road prior to George’s mobilisation on August 4TH1914.

George Hogg had served with the Fifth Yorks when the ill prepared and ill equipped Territorials had been thrown into action in a desperate bid to stop the German advance on Ypres, in an action that would later be known as the Battle of St Julien, which had taken place in Flanders in 1915. George had been amongst the hundred or so 5TH Yorks wounded during the battle and had been evacuated initially to the 18TH General Hospital in France and eventually to England.

Killed in action on Friday September the 15TH at the age of 32years, the remains of George Hogg had been buried where he had fallen, and like those of his brother in law had been re-interred after hostilities also in Adanac Military Cemetery at Miraumont in Plot 4, Row H, Grave 21.

[Sadly, George’s wife, Emily Hogg, had not survived for many years after her husband’s death, she having died suddenly on the eleventh of September 1923 at the age of 34 years. At the time she had been living at Cambridge Cottage with her mother in law. [Emily Hogg is also commemorated on the gravestone in Manor Road Cemetery].

Second Lieutenant Mathew Henry ‘Harry’ Fell. Born at Scarborough on November 24TH 1890, Harry had been the youngest son of Mary Ellen [Nee Fawcett] and ‘joiner & building contractor’ Matthew Henry Fell of ‘Rydal Mount’, No 5 Osborne Park [elder brother Richard had been born in 1880,sister Minnie in1879]. Educated at St Martins Grammar School in Ramshill Road from 1900 to 1904, Harry had subsequently gone to work in his fathers business based in Scarborough’s Spring Bank until the outbreak of the war when he had enlisted as a Private into the 5TH Yorks with a number of other ex-Martinians. A letter written by one of these young men [Will Smith] telling of their time during training eventually appeared in the school magazine, [the Martinian], of 1914, it had this to say about Harry Fell giving us an insight into his character;

…’Fell [M. H.] whose specialities are sleeping and playing footer, occupies the next—I nearly said bed—I mean two boards. When any of the fellows meet him after the little dust up is over, I suggest that they ask him if he has ever had his name and number to give to the orderly sergeant for considering the advisability of rising at the appointed hour. They may – I say may – receive enlightenment. But old Harry is one of the best of fellows to be with whatever there is to do, be it guard or fatigue duty, and the cheery way in which he will advise one to ‘get on wi’ t’ messing job’ is enough in itself to make one put ones back into it, and the work or whatever there is to do is done before one knows one has started. He represents the company at centre forward in the football field, and as ably too as he represented the school team not so very many years ago’…[1]

The halcyon days of the 5th Yorks had ended in April 1915 when the Battalion had gone abroad to eventually come under fire for the first time during the aforementioned Battle of ST Julien an action in which many Scarborough and district men had been killed or wounded, amongst them Harry Fell. Slightly wounded in an arm he had been evacuated from the battlefield to the YMCA Convalescence Camp at Boulogne. After treatment Harry had returned to the Battalion and had subsequently been wounded on two other occasions in 1915. Eventually evacuated to ‘Blighty’ to convalesce, it was while Harry had been in England that his qualities and obvious officer potential had been noted by the military and he had been gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in October 1915, rejoining his unit, who had still been in Flanders, in June 1916. Harry Fell had lasted just the three months life expectancy of a Second Lieutenant of Infantry of this period of the war, his name had appeared again in less carefree circumstances, in the 1916 edition of his old school magazine;

…‘He was killed whilst leading his bombing platoon. Active and keen in all clean and manly sports, he was particularly successful in cricket, football, and hockey, winning his school colours, and later assisting his native town in these games. His Colonel wrote: ‘loved alike for his unvarying kindness, cheerfulness, and consideration by fellow officers and men. No braver man ever wore the King’s uniform. Not only do I feel I have lost a capable officer, but a dear comrade’…
Aged 24 years and unmarried, Harry Fell had initially been posted as missing in action by the War Office, his name appearing in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 22nd of September 1916;
‘Lieut. Fell Missing - A telegram received last night by Mrs Fell, Rydale Mount, Osborne Park, intimated that Lieut. Harry Fell, Yorks. Regt., her son, was reported missing on Sunday last. Lieut Fell, who was very well know in football circles, [In the 1912-13 season Harry had played for Scarborough F.C. on twenty eight occasions and had scored eleven goals] was twice previously wounded. He came home on leave in autumn last after being wounded, and was granted a commission’…

Harry was eventually officially posted as ‘believed to have been killed in action’ on Sunday September 17TH 1916 [possibly the 15th], and his name had appeared in the ‘Scarboro Casualties’ column of the Scarborough Mercury of Friday November 3RD 1916 as having been killed in action. His name however does not appear in the names of the Officer casualties of the Fifth Yorks for or near this date which are listed in, ‘ The Green Howards in the Great War’ [Wylly], which is unusual as he is officially listed as dying whilst serving with the Regiment. I have however found recently that he had been serving with one of the Northumberland Fusilier Battalions of the 50TH Division at the time, [149TH Brigade had consisted of the 4TH to 7TH Battalions] this possibly explains why his name has been omitted from the book.

Letters from the soldiers of the Fifth Yorks who had taken part in the battle had eventually appeared in the Scarborough Mercury. One had been featured in the edition of Friday the 29TH of September 1916;

‘Lance Corporal S.J. [Sidney James] Rawling, Yorkshire Regiment, of North Bay House Scarborough, who was recently wounded, in a letter home, says;

Just a few lines to let you know I am going on favourably. My leg is a good deal easier now. I don’t think I shall be lucky enough to get over to England this time. Will you send me the ’Evening News’ if there is any news about the Yorkshires in'. I suppose there will be. I hear Harry Fell was missing; now I hear he has been wounded again. I had a good chat to him a few days ago in the line. We have lost rather heavily, but did some good work, taking several lines of trenches. I was wounded just two years to the day after I joined the Army. I have been out here a year now’

[Fortunately Private Rawling was to survive the War and had died in peace at Scarborough during 1953, at the relatively young age of 58 years].

The remains of Harry Fell had also eventually been buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, along with 3,171 other men who had lost their lives on the nearby killing fields*, and is commemorated in Plot 5, Row 1, Grave 1.

Matthew Fell is also commemorated in Manor Road Cemetery on a monument which stands directly in front of you as you walk down from the top end of the Cemetery towards the entrance to Peasholm Park and Manor Road. Located on a small island surrounded by trees [North/ Esplanade/Centre], the monument takes the form of an anchor wrapped around, I presume the ‘Rock of Ages’ and Harry’s name appears on the left hand side of the base. Also inscribed on the Monument are the names of his Father, Matthew Henry Fell Snr. who had died in February 1911 at the age of fifty six, and his Mother Mary Ellen Fell, who in the years after the Great War had lived at ‘Audlam Villa’, No 14 Alexandra Park until her death in January 1941 at the grand old age of 91 years. The other people named on the Memorial, George Flower, Jane, and William Shaw Fawcett, I am presuming, were Harry Fell’s Grandparents and Uncle on his Mothers side.

I had expected the story of Harry Fell to end at this point, however I have recently found that he and his family had been life long members of the Methodist Primitive Church in St Johns Road, where on Sunday the 14TH of January 1917, the Reverend W. Scott Bosence, had conducted a memorial service in honour of the Lieutenant. The minister had re-iterated most of the information that has already been related except to add;

‘His presence was felt in any company: he was the soul of any party. What an athlete he was! And what a Christian! His was the full Christian life, not of the sanctuary merely, but on the sports field and in the business field he lived for Christ’. The service concluded appropriately with the singing of ‘For all thy Saints’…

2148 Sergeant Herbert Gill. Born at York in 1893, Herbert was the only son of Fanny and Henry ‘Harry’ Gill, who had been employed by the North Eastern Railways as a Porter at Scarborough Railway Station in Westborough, who had been living at No 59 Prospect Road at the time of their son’s death. Herbert, an unmarried man had enlisted into the Fifth Yorks at Scarborough at the outbreak of the war, prior to this he too had worked on the railways in the town with the General Superintendents Office.

Also a veteran of the Battle at St Julien in April 1915, the twenty three year old Sergeant had been killed in action on Friday September 15th, and his name had subsequently appeared in the Scarborough Mercury’s casualty list of Friday September 29TH 1916:

‘Sergt. Gill killed - Mr and Mrs Gill, 59, Prospect Road, received the following letter from Second Lieut. Gaunt, Yorks Regt, on Wednesday morning: ‘It is with regret that I have to inform you that your son Sergt. Gill was killed in action on the 15th of September. Please accept the deepest sympathy of the Officers and Men of the Company in your great loss. He will be sadly missed by all of us’. A friend of Sergt Gill in a letter says; He was killed during an assault of the enemy’s trenches’…

Adanac Military Cemetery at Miraumont contains the graves of three thousand one hundred and seventy two casualties of the Great War, of these over half are unidentified. Thirteen soldiers from the United Kingdom known, or believed to be buried in the cemetery, are commemorated by ‘Special Memorials’. Sergeant Herbert Gill is one of them, his name being included on Special Memorial A.4.

Herbert is also commemorated on a headstone in Manor Road Cemetery [Plot V. Border. Grave 124.] Which also includes the names of his parents, who had post war lived at No 71 Falsgrave Road where his father Harry had died in November 1938, at the age of 68 years. Fanny Gill had subsequently moved into a flat at No 15 Granville Road on the South Cliff following the death of her husband, where she too had passed away in May 1952 at the age of eighty years, thirty six years after her only son.

Adanac Military Cemetery also contains the graves of two other men of Scarborough;

1825 Private Albert Costello. Also attached to the 1ST/5TH Yorkshire Regiment Albert had been born in Scarborough in 1898 and had been the son of Ellen Costello of 53 Rothbury Street. Killed in action on Sunday the 17TH of September 1916, he had been eighteen years old at the time of his death, and judging from his fairly low Army Number I suspect that he had enlisted in Scarborough before the war and had gone abroad with the Battalion in April 1915, to go into action with the unit in Flanders to take part in the battalion’s during so called ‘Baptism of fire’ at St Julien [24TH--28TH April]. Albert’s name had appeared in the casualty list featured in the Friday October 6TH 1916 edition of the ‘Scarborough Mercury’, and is buried in Plot 4, Row K, Grave 31 in Adanac.

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Robert Lowson. Born at Scarborough in 1891, Wilfred had been the eldest son of Emma and William Smith Lowson the proprietor of a jewellers shop at No 16 Westborough. Wilfred Lowson’s name had appeared in the casualty list which had appeared in the Scarborough Mercury of Friday, September 22ND. There had also been an article which had stated;

‘Scarborough Officer Killed - News has been received by Mr. W.S. Lowson, Jeweller, Westborough, Scarborough, and Mrs Lowson, that their son, Lieut. Wilfred Robert Lowson, Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on Sunday last [?].

He was only 25, and was the nephew of Messr. F. and G.R. Lowson of Prince Street, Bridlington. He was formerly in the Volunteers for five years, but he was not a member of the Territorials when war broke out. He, however, rejoined later, secured his commission, and was made full Lieutenant the day before he went abroad, which would have been six months next Sunday night. He left on a Sunday and was killed on a Sunday. He was Scoutmaster of the Holy Trinity Church [in Trinity Road] for some years. He was educated at Wheater’s School [in Albermarle Crescent] and later at Pannal College, Harrowgate. He matriculated and was a fellow of the Spectacle Makers Company’…

The final resting place of Wilfred Robert Lowson is located in Plot 5. Row H. Grave 31 of the Cemetery at Miraumont.

Wilfred is also commemorated in St Mary’s Parish Church in Castle Road. His name can be found inscribed on the ‘Roll of Honour’, which is located on the interior North wall of the Church, and also on a large brass plaque which can be seen on the wall of St Mary’s Chapel, which had been placed there by his parents, and is inscribed;

‘To the glory of God and in loving memory of Wilfred Robert Lowson, 2ND Lieutenant 5TH Yorkshire Regiment. Elder son of W.S. Lowson of this parish. Killed in action near Martinpuich September 15TH 1916, aged 25 years’

‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’[2]

Following the action at Martinpuich the 5TH Yorks had withdrawn to the old German positions south of Bazentin Le Petit where the remains of the Battalion had been afforded a little respite. In fact by this time the 5TH Yorks had been so exhausted ad depleted of manpower that it would have been impossible for the battalion to be of very little use if they had been sent back into the fighting as they stood.

The 5TH Yorks had eventually been thrown back into the furnace of the Somme to take a part, with 50TH Division, in an attack on German trenches near a village named Eaucourt L’ Abbeye during the Battle of Transloy Ridge [1-18 October], on the First of October 1916. The Battalion [with 4TH Yorks, 4TH East Yorks and 5TH Durham Light Infantry] had taken their objective but a lack of support and extremely heavy enemy counterattacks had left the Yorkshiremen with no alternative but retirement from their hard fought for prizes. [The trenches in question had eventually been taken by the Divisions 151ST Brigade, with 150TH in support on the third of October]. [3]

Following three weeks of almost continual hard fighting the Fifth Yorkshires had eventually been withdrawn to the village of Baizieux, where the Battalion must have had very little rest as they had, according to the History of the Battalion, [Wylly] undergone ‘training’ and road making which the author points out; ‘was not as safe as it sounds, since over sixty casualties were incurred while engaged upon it’. Here the men of the Battalion remained until March 1917, finally leaving the Somme behind at the end of the month when they moved near to a town called Arras, but that is a different story.

[Amongst the men buried in Adanac Military Cemetery are two holders of the Victoria Cross; Piper James Clelland Richardson, 16TH Battalion Canadian Infantry. Killed in action on Monday October 9TH 1916 at the age of twenty years, and Sergeant Samuel Forsyth, 3RD Field Company, New Zealand Engineers, who had been killed in action on Saturday August 24TH 1918 at the age of 25 years].

[1] At the time of the Scarborough Census of 1901 Harry was aged ten years, an elder brother; William T. Fell was three years older. There had also been an elder sister, Winifred M. who was at the time twelve years old.

[2] Wilfred’s father, William Smith Lowson, eventually had died on the 19TH April 1929 at the age of 65years. Emma Lowson had died on March 18TH 1935 aged 72 years. Both are buried in Manor Road Cemetery in Plot T/V/C.

Wilfred’s younger brother, Noel Leslie [born 1896] had served during the war with the Royal Garrison Artillery, unlike his elder brother Noel had survived the war to eventually marry Miss Lucy P. Bradley in Scarborough during 1923.

[3] Lieutenant Colonel R.B.T. Bradford, the commanding officer of the

1ST/ 9TH Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry serving with 151ST Infantry Brigade of 50TH [Northumbrian] Division had subsequently been awarded with the Victoria Cross for his actions at Eaucourt L’ Abbaye. A part of his citation reads; ‘For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack, whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade, and the Division’

Additional information 2018:

Arthur Sellars joined the 1/5th Battalion Alexandra, Princess of Wales own Yorkshire regiment at Scarborough Station on 4th August 1914. He moved about between Darlington and Newcastle before being mobilised for war on 18th April 1915, when he left Folkestone, Kent on the RN Transport Ship “Onward” bound for Boulogne. 

Arthur fought in a number of battles in the great war.


Second Battle of Ypres - Battle of St Julien

Second Battle of Ypres - Battle of Frenezburg ridge

Second Battle of Ypres - Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge

1916 - 

August - September 1916 Somme and Battle of Flers-Courcelettes

September 17th killed in action on the starfish trench, outside Martinpuich, France



Arthur Sellars

January 1894, Hunmanby, Yorkshire, England

                            Death Date 

17 Sep 1916

Death Place

Flers, Courcellete, Somme, Picardie, France and Flanders

Enlistment Place





Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princes of Wales' Own)


5th Battalion

Regimental Number


Type of Casualty


Killed in action

Thiepval, Department de le Somme, Picardie, France

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