The following are first hand quotes and diary extracts of offensive actions in the First World War. They are taken from Paul Allens book 'Neath a foreign sky.'
Extract: Robert Leppington
By the time that the battalion had moved south to the Loos Sector during September Robert Leppington had been promoted to the rank of Lance Sergeant. One of the few men left standing who had landed at Zeebrugge less than a year earlier, the twenty six years old, having seen so many of his comrades die before his eyes had realised that his own time was inevitably running out and had expressed his misgivings in a letter to his parents written on the eve of the Guards entry into the Loos battle:
'I write this just before the fight that is going to be the biggest fight of all since the war began. I cannot go over the parapet of the trench every time and come back, I have done my bit even if I do now fall'.
Despite his uncertainties Bob had lived to fight another day, and on the fourth of October he had been promoted to full Sergeant. He had again written to his parents ten days later a segment of the letter had said:
'I have had a rough time of it in the fighting at Loos and round Hill 70 during the past two weeks. I enclose the shoulder knot of a German whom I got. I had at the end of my bayonet nine, a big bag this time. I have been made full Sergeant'...Bob's letter had continued by saying that he was shortly to go into action again and had ended with; 'If I pull through'... the letter had never been finished.
By October 1915, Tom, a by then retired Sergeant of North Riding Constabulary and wife Jennie Leppington had arrived in Scarborough and had taken up residence at No 20 Ewart Street, off Seamer Road. Here they had received a letter from their son's Company Sergeant Major [G.H.Peek]:
'It is with regret that I have to communicate to you the death in action of your son, Sergeant Robert Leppington. I am deeply sorry that we have lost so good a soldier and pal, and I hope that you will be able to derive some comfort from the fact that he died like the man he was, well in front with his face in the right direction. He had a painless death and we buried him in a good grave near the town of – we had a good fight, 'Old Bob' was always one of the first to be over the top of the trench. We shall miss him as he has been with us all the time. I offer you my sincerest sympathy, coupled with the condolence of all his comrades'.
Extract: Mrs Betts
Born in Scarborough at No 16 St Thomas's Walk during 1860, Annie Drummond had been the daughter of Sarah Ann, and 'Joiner' Thomas Drummond. Inevitably badly affected by the loss of three of her sons, shortly after the death of George, Annie Betts had also become a casualty of the war when she had passed away at the age of fifty eight on Wednesday the 4TH of September 1918, reputedly from the effects of a broken heart. 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the sixth of September had reported her demise;
'A mother of soldiers - The death took place on Wednesday, at 3, Regent Street, of Mrs Betts, aged 58. Few persons in Scarborough, if any, had suffered more in consequence of the war, in which five sons served, three being killed and two wounded. One of the wounded sons is on the Military Police staff at Newcastle and the other has been discharged. Mrs. Betts leaves five daughters and three sons. Her health had been seriously impaired as a result of bereavement and anxiety, and her death followed upon a somewhat lengthy illness'.
Extract: Nick Sheader
Fortunate to come out of Second Wipers unscathed, throughout the ensuing Summer of 1915 Sheader and his surviving comrades had taken their turn in trenches at Sanctuary Wood, to the west of Ypres. However, at the beginning of July the Battalion had been afforded a rest, having marched away from the front to billets at Pont-de Nieppe, a village located close to the French town of Armentieres. From here Nick had written a graphic description of his war for Mr John Brewin, his former headmaster at Friarage Board School:
'I suppose you know that a great number of our battalion are old scholars of Friarage School. This alone should show that the teachers taught us what patriotism really is. I hope there is the same influence exercised on the boys now attending my old school. Little did we expect to be fighting in the greatest war the world has ever known....Where we are now is about five minutes walk from the enemy's trenches, so you see we have to be very cute as they are up to all sorts of tricks... At present we are having a rest behind the lines but sleep in the open under cover of our waterproof sheets rigged up like wigwams. The country looks at its best where we are at present, and there is only the sound of the guns to remind us of the war, what a change we shall see in a few days time if we go into the trenches again, all the farms are in ruins, fields and roads holed with shells, and the bodies of men and horses are common sights. When in the trenches we take our turn watching and firing when we get a target, and at night time we send out digging parties to repair trenches, [barbed wire] entanglements, etc., which are broken by shellfire; also ration parties to draw the food, which is generally dumped a mile or more behind the line by the transport each night'.
Extract: The death of Joe Marsay
News of the demise of Joe Marsay had reached Scarborough four days after he had been killed, in the form of an unofficial letter, which had been written by one of his comrades. The tidings had subsequently been reported to the news office of 'The Scarborough Mercury', which had been included in a lengthy casualty list which had appeared in Friday the 3RD of August edition of the newspaper:
'Killed by a sniper - News has been received that Private Joseph Marsay, Yorkshire Regiment, has been killed at the front. Aged 32, he was the son-in-law of Mr. John Ward, furniture remover, 22, St. Thomas Street, with whom he had worked before the war and prior to joining the army. He lost his wife in January last, and there are four children. Two brothers of Private Marsay are serving, one in the Coldstream Guards, and the other in the 4TH Yorkshire Regiment. A letter conveying the news, from a comrade, says that Private Marsay was 'one of our very best chums. He was killed yesterday [26TH July] in action. He was killed when nearly back to our trenches, by a sniper. He did not suffer, for he died immediately'...
The story of Private Joseph Marsay and his remarkable family is almost ended, apart from telling the story of the soldier's last letter. A year after their son's death the Marsay's had received a small parcel from the War Office containing a few of Joe's personal effects. Amongst these had been a cracked and torn photograph of his smiling sons, and a letter he had written to eldest son John whilst in Belgium, which had obviously never been posted. A segment of the now almost indecipherable note reads:
....'Be good boys and do all you can to please your nanny and pardy, your granny says you go to see her, that is good. I'm thinking this is all this time, from you loving dad to my dear sons John xxxx, Riley xxxx, Frank xxxx, Pat xxxx. For nanny and pardy and all at home, so goodnight and god bless you all at home.
Give my best respect to all at home xxxx. I hope you had a fine day for your Sunday school outing and enjoyed yourselfs.... All my love Dad'. 
[I am indebted to my good friends Carol and Malcolm Appleby for letting me have copies of Joe Marsay's letter and other invaluable information, without their assistance my story could not have been completed].
Etches's old school magazine 'The Martinian' had included in the 1917 edition an epitaph to the school's former pupil, including a segment of a letter from an officer of Thomas's unit which had originally been written to his father;
'I was present at the time of his death', wrote 2nd Lieutenant C.W. Kay. 'On the 10TH, after the battle of the 7TH, we held an extremely dangerous position of the advanced line near Gapaard; we were enfiladed by heavy artillery fire, and one of the shells hit the trench directly. Your son was killed instantaniously. He was always bright and cheerful, and above all quietly efficient. Yes, Etches, as we knew him at school, was always quietly efficient. One of his comrades wrote: -- 'It was only two days before his death that he brought in eight German prisoners and one of our own men wounded all alone, and I am not very certain whether or not he was recommended, as he had to go before the C.O. for his gallant conduct in the field under very heavy shell-fire'.
Extract: Joe Cromack
A survivor of the St Julien battle, Cromack had continued to serve in Flanders with the Fifth Yorks until September 1915, when all of 50TH Division's machine gunners had been withdrawn from their parent infantry battalions to be incorporated into the newly formed [October 14TH] Machine Gun Corps. Sent for training at the M.G.C.'s Base Depot at Camiers, in Northern France, whilst there Joe and his comrades had exchanged their familiar 'Eiffel tower' cap badges of the Yorkshire Regiment for the new crossed machine gun emblem of the M.G.C., and issued with new Regimental Numbers. The men had eventually been formed into 150TH Machine Gun Company belonging to the 150TH Brigade of 50TH Division.
Joe Cromack had served with this unit for the remainder of his life taking part in much of the heaviest and bloodiest fighting of the war, including the Somme Offensive. Writing to his old school's headmaster [Mr. G.F. Turnbull] at the end of the Battle of Flers/Courcelette [October1916], Joe had commented...'I had some pretty near shaves in the last affair, which I believe has been the biggest of the year...at present enjoying a little spell of rest, and in spite of the mud, which is absolutely vile, having a grand time. Our footer team is doing well in the knock out competition for troops here, and after some hard fights, still figures in the winning lists. I find I am a bit past the playing era now, but can still shout with the best of them'. 
A veteran of the subsequent First Battle of Arras [April-May 1917], Passchendaele [July-November 1917], and the German Spring Offensive of 1918, following Joe's death St Martin's Head, Mr Turnbull had had this to say about the former 'Martinian'...'Quiet, unobtrusive, unassuming, he will be very much missed by those who knew him well. He was a consistent helper in the choir both at Wheatcroft and also in the mother Church [St Martins on the Hill] and had a promising future before him, especially in outside work, and many of his letters reveal, unconsciously, his artistic temperament'.
Extract: Harry Fell
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'...
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'.
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'.
Extract: Ted Daws
Employed as a ladies hairdresser by the outbreak of war, Ted Daws had enlisted into the Yeoman Rifles at Scarborough on the 25TH of November 1915. ... Initially informed that her husband was 'missing', at the start of 1917 Annie Daws had written to the military authorities asking for information about Edmund. In a letter dated January 3RD 1917 Annie asks;
'Can you give me any news of my husband Rifleman E. Daws, C/12526—who was posted as missing on September 15TH. I had a returned letter from France last Friday with Hospital written across it—can you give me any clue as to the hospital, or if he has been in hospital at any time? The anxiety is getting terrible. Thanking you in anticipation'.