St Quentin 1917 The Great War

- Private James Ernest Lancaster
- Private Alf Temple Appleby

At the extreme right, or south, of the British line had been seven divisions of infantry belonging to General Sir Henry Rawlinson’s Fourth Army. Whilst the First and Third Armies had continued their struggle to the north of the Scarpe, Fourth Army [consisting of the Fourth Corps, on the right, which had been in touch with the French north of the Ham to St Quentin road, Third Corps in the centre, holding the line from Vadencourt to the linked villages of Epehy and Peiziere, and Fifteen Corps on the left which had been in touch with the First Anzac Corps of Gough’s Fifth Army, on the Canal du Nord, south of the village of Hermies], by the fourteenth of April had been advancing across the old Somme battlefield had been some distance from the Hindenburg Line in their advance towards the line near to the German held city of St Quentin. Rawlinson’s policy, according to the Official History had been;

‘To advance cautiously, capturing outpost after outpost from the enemy, maintaining his own outposts well ahead of his line of resistance, but moving that also forward as suitable positions where reached’ [1]

Eighth Division of Fifteenth Corps had recently [12TH April] during ‘a wild and snowy’ night captured the large village of Gouzeaucourt, the following morning the 48TH Division from Third Corps had advanced its line on the spur north of the village of Hargicourt. A day later, on the fourteenth of April the 97TH Brigade of the 32ND Division had been tasked by Rawlinson to capture, ‘forthwith’, the fortified hamlet of Fayet, to the west of St Quentin in order to assist an attack [which had proved unsuccessful] to be made on the Hindenburg Line by the French Third Army.

Although bitterly cold Saturday the fourteenth of April had been considered the finest day since the beginning of the battle, small comfort for the men of the Second Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and 16TH Highland Light Infantry as they had shivered in their assembly trenches near Holnon during the early hours of the day as they had waited for the signal to begin their assault. Supported by an intense artillery barrage the attack had duly been launched at 4-15am with Second K.O.Y.L.I on the left, and 16TH H.L.I. on the right. The Yorkshiremen had advanced with ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies in the lead, with ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies supporting.

By 5am the attacking force having encountered little opposition had arrived at a sunken road leading from Fayet to the nearby village of Fresnoy-le –Petit where they had encountered a number of enemy dugouts, which had been cleared with grenades and bayonets. Twenty minutes later the advanced had continued with the men climbing over the bank of the sunken road, at this point the K.O.Y.L.I. had come under intense enemy machine gun fire and had encountered heavy belts of barbed wire, which had severely impeded the assault. Nonetheless the Yorkshiremen had pressed on.

The History of the Battalion records; ‘The village of Fayet was captured by ‘B’ Company, who cleared the dugouts and sent back many prisoners. Assisted by the barrage put down by our guns, the Company then headed for the second objective [the St Quentin to Gricourt road beyond the village], which also was carried by 5-30am. ‘C’ Company had come up on the left of ‘B’ as the two leading companies had appeared to be drawing apart, but in spite of this ‘B’ Company had now lost touch with both ‘A’ and ‘C’. The opportunity for counter attack was not wasted on the enemy, who struck a shrewd blow and turned the unsupported flank of ‘B’. The company experienced many casualties--it was forced to give ground a little a new line facing east was held, and here, with the aid of two Lewis Guns [light machine guns], the enemy was held’ [2]

Intense fighting had continued throughout the day and at times the K.O.Y.L.I. had been put under fearful pressure from the Germans, their situation had however been saved by British artillery. The unit had made a further advance under heavy enemy fire during the afternoon and by evening the advance had been successfully carried out and the four companies had been strung out along the Fayet to Fresnoy-le Petit road ‘digging away furiously under the fire of the enemy’s rifles and machine guns’.

The Battalion had been relieved in the front line by the 16TH Lancashire Fusiliers [also from 32ND Division] during the night of the fifteenth of April, the depleted and weary formation making their way to billets at Beauvois, where, the following day the unit had held the traditional post battle ‘Roll Call’ which had revealed that the battalion had incurred one hundred and twenty seven casualties in the fighting at Fayet. Two officers had been killed, six wounded, the other ranks had lost thirty-six killed, sixty-nine wounded and fourteen were missing. Amongst those killed during the action had been;

42172 Private James Ernest Lancaster. Born in Scarborough at No.31 Cambridge Street during 1885, James had been the youngest son of Mary Eliza and James Lancaster, a Constable in the Scarborough Police Force [James Lancaster and Mary Fell had been married at St Mary’s Parish Church on the 24TH of December 1874]. A pupil of the nearby Central Board School in Trafalgar Street West between the ages of four and thirteen, Lancaster had left the institution during 1898 to become an apprentice cycle builder and repairer with cycle dealer Harry Bellwood, whose shop had been situated at No 43 Cambridge Street. [3]

Married in Scarborough’s St. Mary’s Parish Church on Saturday the 18TH of April 1914, James had been the husband Rose Louisa Massheder, the pair subsequently residing in the town at No 53 Nelson Street. By this time the twenty-nine years old Lancaster had been employed by the General Superintendents Office of the North Eastern Railway Company as a Signalman at Scarborough. Lancaster had enlisted into the army for the duration of the war at Scarborough during November 1915, being a former employee of the N.E.R. he had chosen to serve with the Company’s 17TH [Service] Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, which had been formed at Hull during September 1914. Comprising of former employees of the N.E.R., the battalion had initially been trained as a conventional infantry unit, however, during January 1915 it had been converted to a Pioneer Battalion, with the title 17TH [Service] Battalion, The Northumberland Fusiliers [N.E.R. Pioneers].

Issued with the Regimental Number 32/763, James Lancaster had initially been sent to Ripon in North Yorkshire where he had joined the 32ND [Reserve] Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, the training battalion for the N.E.R. Pioneers. Whilst here he had undergone twelve weeks of infantry training and specialised pioneer training before being sent to France and the N.E.R. Pioneers during June 1916.

At the time the unit had been the 32ND Divisional Pioneer Battalion and had been in the Somme Sector preparing to take part in the forthcoming Allied Offensive. On the First of July, the opening day of the Somme Offensive, 32ND Division [attached to Tenth Corps, Fourth Army] had attacked the Liepzig Salient and the southern part of Thiepval Ridge where it had suffered heavy casualties. The plan had initially been for the N.E.R. Pioneers to construct pathways for the artillery and infantry towards Mouquet Farm as the assault had gone forward, however, heavy casualties had forestalled these plans.

Two days later the severely mauled division had been taken out of the line. The pioneers had, however, remained behind and had been attached to Field Companies of the Royal Engineers and the 12TH and 25TH Division’s, with whom they had assisted with the digging and repair of shell damaged trenches, in addition the unit had acted as stretcher bearers and inevitably, grave diggers. The N.E.R. Pioneers had rejoined the 32ND Division when it had returned to the Somme Sector in time to take part in the operations at Bazentin Ridge on the 14-15 July.

Decimated almost to the point of extinction by August, 2ND K.O.Y.L.I. [a pre war Regular Army formation] of 97TH Brigade had been in such a weakened state [the battalion had suffered nearly ninety per cent casualties] that at the start of September a large number of men, including James Lancaster, had been transferred from various units in order to bring the Battalion to fighting strength. Lancaster had subsequently seen action between October and November 1916 in the final operations of the Somme Offensive, especially at the northern end of the front along the River Ancre, including a bloody attack that had taken place on the eighteenth of November on a German trench system known as ‘Ten Tree Alley’. By daylight the following day the 2ND K.O.Y.L.I. had lost fourteen of its officers, and three hundred and fifty one other ranks, killed, wounded, and missing.

Lancaster and the remainder of Second K.O.Y.L.I. had arrived [with the 32ND Division] at the front near St Quentin by the end of March 1917. Although hampered by atrocious weather his Battalion had taken part in the capture of Savy on the first of April and the following day the seizure of the nearby Bois d’ Holnon. On the seventh of March the battalion had moved into the line to the east of the villages of Holnon and Selency and at ten that night, the unit, according to the History of the Regiment;

‘Went over the top ‘as one man’ and stormed an enemy position; the enemy made a hurried retirement from this, his rearguard post; the captured position was consolidated and listening posts were sent forward’… [2]

The following day the Battalion, exhausted by the ‘trying weather and constant hard work of the week’, had been withdrawn from the line to rest in the village of Auroir until the evening of the thirteenth, when the unit had marched back to Holnon to take up their assault positions for the attack on Fayet a few hours later.

James Lancaster had at first been reported as wounded on the 14TH of April 1917, and his wife had relieved to receive a letter to this effect early in May 1917, however, shortly afterwards Rose Lancaster had received a telegram from the War Office reporting that her husband had in fact been killed in action on the 14TH of April, the dreadful news had been relayed to the remainder of the town in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 18TH of May 1917;

‘N.E.R. Employee kille - Private J.E. Lancaster, K.O.Y.L.I., 53 Nelson Street, and son of ex P.C. Lancaster, is reported to have been killed on April 14TH. He was originally reported wounded. Private Lancaster was 31 years of age and leaves a widow and one child. He joined the Railway Battalion, being employed by the N.E.R., in June 1916, and was then transferred to the Yorkshire Light Infantry. He went to France last November’…

Amongst two officers and forty eight men of the 2ND K.O.Y.L.I. that had lost their lives during the 14TH of April 1917, the remains of Private Lancaster had initially been buried in the Communal Cemetery at Holnon, a village in the Department of the Aisne, which is located six kilometres to the west of the town of St Quentin. However, during the post war years the then Imperial War Graves Commission had built a Cemetery on the outskirts of the village that had been named ‘Chapelle British Cemetery’, where Lancaster’s body had eventually been re-interred. Today the cemetery contains the graves of over six hundred casualties of the Great War [including an officer and four other men of 2ND K.O.Y.L.I.], two hundred and fifty of whom are unidentified. James Lancaster’s final resting place is located in Section Two, Row 1, Grave 1.

In Scarborough, apart from the War Memorial on Oliver’s Mount, James Ernest Lancaster’s name is commemorated on a Roll of Honour in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Hoxton Road, and the Albemarle Baptist Church situated in Albemarle Crescent. His name can also be found on a gravestone in the town’s Manor Road Cemetery [Section J. Row 3. Grave11] which also commemorates the names of his Easingwold born father who had died on the 5TH of December 1918 at the age of fifty four years, and his Scarborough born mother, Mary Elizabeth Lancaster, who after the death of her husband, had lived with her daughter Christiana and husband Samuel Standing at No 33 Cambridge Street until her death at the age of seventy five years on the 1ST of February 1924.

Following the death of her husband, Rose Lancaster and son James C. [born just before the death of his father during the March quarter of 1917] had moved in with her father and mother in law at No 31 Cambridge Street. However, during 1924 she had remarried and had lived in the house with husband Joseph Bradbury until her death, almost forty years after the death of her first husband, at the age of sixty four on Thursday the third of May 1956. Rose is buried in the Roman Catholic plot of Scarborough’s Manor Road Cemetery in Section W, Border, Grave 28, with second husband, Joseph Bradbury, who had eventually passed away at Braeburn House at Eastfield on Sunday the 13TH of February 1972, at the age of 78 years.

While the men of 2ND K.O.Y.L.I. and the remainder of 32ND Division had been in action around Fayet and the outskirts of St Quentin on the fourteenth of April, a few miles to the north east the 35TH Division had moved up and sent patrols of the 17TH Lancashire Fusiliers forward towards the village of Gricourt, which had been shelled during 32ND Division’s attack. The patrols had overcome stiff opposition with intensive mortar support and had taken a number of prisoners, then, seeing the German garrison retreating the Fusiliers had advanced and took the village at a cost of forty-four casualties.

Two days later, during the early hours of Monday the sixteenth of April the 104TH Brigade of 35TH Division had launched an assault on two trench systems north of the Ham to St Quentin road between the villages of Pontruet and Gricourt. Amongst the units that had taken part in the operation had been the 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers.

The unit consisting of eighteen officers and five hundred and sixteen men had filed out of their dugouts near the village of Villecholles at midnight on the fifteenth, at their head had been the battalion’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel E. Vaughan. A bitterly cold night, the men, dressed in light fighting order had shivered miserably as they had threaded their way over the frozen broken ground the few miles to trenches near the village of Maissemy, where they had remained for two hours. During this period the battalion had made their final preparations for battle, and more importantly, as far as the men were concerned each had received their customary pre battle slug of raw Army issue rum. At 2am the unit had been met by guides who had led the way to their assembly point for the attack, a taped line that had already been laid by the 23RD Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, fifty yards west of the Berthaucourt to Fresnoy Le Petit road.

In addition to attacking the two the two lines of trenches the battalion had additionally been tasked with supporting an attack which was to be made by the 23RD Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the village of Pontruet, during this 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers were to conduct bombing raids against a newly dug trench system and an old system to the left of Pontruet in order to; ‘’kill as many enemy as possible’.

‘Zero Hour’ had been set for 3am; at the appointed hour British artillery had begun to bombard Pontruet and the positions allotted to the Fusiliers. The battalion frontage had been five hundred yards and by the beginning of the barrage the four companies of men had been arranged in four lines of assault fifty yards apart in single file, on the left had been ‘W’ and ‘Z’ Companies, on the right, ‘X’ and ‘Y’. In addition to a small pack each man had been carrying 250 rounds of ammunition, a filled water bottle, two grenades, and two empty sandbags. The men of ‘X’ and ‘Z’ Companies had also carried between them a hundred shovels and ten picks, which had been secured under their haversacks.

The Fusiliers had begun their attack at the allotted time and according to the Battalion’s War Diary* had secured both their objectives by 4-25am, the men setting to securing and consolidating their newly won trenches and road. There had evidently been no casualties until patrols had been pushed to the front on both flanks, on the left flank a patrol of one officer and ten men from ‘W’ Company had come under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the direction of Pontruet which had resulted in nearly all the men being hit. The situation had worsened with the coming of daylight when the men of ‘W’ and ‘Z’ Companies, situated in a sunken road had begun to take casualties from machine gun, and rifle fire, and eventually artillery which despite the efforts of the battalion’s Lewis Gunners [light machine guns] and riflemen had continued to cause problems throughout the day.

Despite the continuous small arms and artillery fire directed at the Fusiliers positions the battalion’s stretcher bearers had gallantly transported the wounded back to the unit’s Regimental Aid Post, where, armed with little more than a knife, bandages, and morphine the unit’s Medical Officer and his volunteer assistants had stripped away the hastily applied bloody and muddy field dressings to tend to their wounds as best they could. After being given an injection of morphia the more seriously injured, those wounded in the chest or head, had eventually been sent onwards to the better equipped 21ST Casualty Clearing Station, a tented mobile hospital which had been situated in the nearby village of Nesle.

Inevitably a number of casualties had died, either whilst being transported to the C.C.S., or under the knife of the overworked surgeons [often working on anything up to twenty patients at a time] of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Nesle. Amongst those who had succumbed to their wounds during Monday the sixteenth of April had been three men from the 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers; Leeds born, 27784 Private Fred Goodson, Miles Platting born [now part of Greater Manchester], 19719 Private William George Wright, and the twenty eight years old; 38167 Private Alf Temple Appleby.

The son of domestic servant Mary Appleby [father’s name not known], Alf had been born in Scarborough at No 21 Bedford Street on the 17TH of April 1888. The following twenty years of Alf’s life are shrouded in the mystery of time as neither his, nor his mother’s name, are recorded in the 1891 or the 1901 Census of Scarborough’s population. However, on the 29TH of November 1908 at St James’s Church in Seamer Road Alf had married Scarborough born [15TH October 1888] Rachel Bailey, the twenty years old third daughter of ‘labourer’, Thomas William, and Mary Elizabeth Bailey, of No.12 Seamer Street. The couple had eventually produced three children, Ada, who had been born on the 15TH of February 1909, Thomas, on the 17TH of March 1911, and Alf Temple, born on the 20TH of January 1915

Although a trained bricklayer, by the outbreak of war in August 1914 Alf had been working for coal merchant Arthur Naylor, whose yard had been situated in Seamer Road. By this time the Appleby family had been living at No 24 Seamer Street.

Appleby had enlisted into the Army at Scarborough during 1915; unusually for a Yorkshireman he had been posted to the Durham Light Infantry and given the Service Number 35186. Disappointingly, as far as the author can gather no records survive to say to which battalion he had initially been attached. Nevertheless, despite the regiment having raised over thirty battalions of infantry during the war, an informed guess may suggest that he had been directed into the 19TH [Service] Battalion, [2ND County], which had been formed at West Hartlepool during January 1915.

Consisting of Miners from the Durham coalfields, the 19TH Durham’s had been raised by the Durham Parliamentary Recruiting Committee as a ‘Bantam’ Battalion, consisting of men under the required height of 5 feet 3 inches for enlistment into Britain’s armed forces of the time. Following local training the battalion had moved to Masham, in North Yorkshire during June 1915, where the unit, with the also newly formed, Edinburgh raised, 17TH Royal Scots, Leeds born 17TH West Yorkshire Regiment, and 18TH Highland Light Infantry from Glasgow had been banded together to form the 106TH Brigade of the then forming 35TH Division, which at that time had been composed exclusively of twelve battalions of ‘Bantam’ infantry [the men serving in the artillery, engineering, and medical arms of the division had been regulation sized soldiers].

The division had eventually moved south to Pereham Down on Salisbury Plain, Hampshire, during August, whilst there the formation had lived in mouldy bell tents and temporary huts completing training and making their preparations to proceed to war.

Towards the end of the year all the men of the division had been issued with tropical uniforms and pith helmets preparatory to being sent to the Egypt theatre of operations, however, a short time later the Bantam’s had been issued with fresh orders which had directed them to France.

The 35TH Division had subsequently begun to leave England towards the end of January 1916; by the morning of the 6TH of February the unit had been concentrated in the Foret de Nieppe near the town of Merville, in Northern France. Throughout the following months the Bantam’s had gradually been introduced to the routine of life [and death] on the Western Front, each battalion serving with an already battle hardened unit, including the Guards, who had formed a firm bond from the start with the ‘short arsed’ Bantams; a Guardsman had later wrote; ‘There was a lot of chaffing going on today, after we finished telling the Bants they had duck’s disease, we had to take a lot of very funny insults in turn. Very sharp tongues they have, and we’ve taken to the little chaps right away’

By June 1916 the 35TH Division had been moved south to the Somme Sector, where the formation had been concentrated around the town of Bethune. Whilst there the various units had received orders to ‘prepare to move at any time’. The division, attached to Fourth Corps of the Fourth Army had eventually fought its first major action in the Somme Offensive between the fifteenth of July and the twenty sixth of August at Bazentin Ridge. During this period the 106TH Brigade had been attached to the 18TH Division and had been involved in the fierce fighting which had taken place at ‘Arrowhead Copse’ and Malzhorn Farm. The Division had fought its last battle in the Somme Offensive at Falfemont Farm between the 19TH and 26TH of August.

Having suffered terrible casualties in the fighting on the Somme [although the 19TH Durham Light Infantry had taken no part in any attacks during this period, having been employed in trench building and escorting prisoners, the unit had lost twelve officers and two hundred and fifty men during the last two weeks of July], the division had been moved to the Arras Sector during September 1916. Whilst there the formation had begun to receive replacements to make up for the Somme losses, which, although of the required Bantam height, had, in the opinion of the General Officer Commanding 35TH Division, Major General H.J.S. Landon, merely been undersized and not ‘real Bantams’. They were, he submitted, ‘physically underdeveloped and unfit men of low moral standard’. As a result of this outcry between the ninth and fifteenth of December 1916 the twelve infantry battalions of the division had been inspected, one thousand four hundred and thirty nine men had subsequently been rejected as unfit, another inspection some time later had weeded out a further number of men had been withdrawn, bringing the total to 2,784, and the various Brigade commanders had been informed that no more Bantams were to be accepted.

Stripped of its Bantam status the 35TH Division had been drastically reorganised and drafts of men had been sent to the various battalions, which, after the recent inspections had been under strength. The 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers [Raised in Salford, Lancashire, by Mr. Montague Barlow M.P. on the 23RD of March 1915] of 104TH Brigade had lost a hundred and thirty five men; Alf Appleby had been amongst a draft of men that had been transferred to the unit as replacements for these men.

Alf and his new found comrades of the 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers had spent a miserable Christmas and New Year period of 1916/17 in the waterlogged front line trenches near Arras, here they had endured conditions as equally deplorable as those faced by the men in the Somme Sector a few miles to the south described by the Official History;

‘Here in a wilderness of mud holding waterlogged trenches or shellhole posts, accessible only by night, the infantry abode in conditions which might be likened to earthworms rather than of the human kind. Our vocabulary is not adapted to describe such an existence, because it is outside experience for which words are normally required’ [1]

By the end of January the temperature had dropped dramatically the resultant hard frost, which had continued for a month, had been a godsend to the troops as cold had been seen as a lesser terror than mud. The frost had however, played havoc with the thinly metalled roads especially in the area behind the lines. By the end of the month the Battalion had been set to work in their repair, a task they would become well practised in during the coming weeks

During February the 35TH Division had moved southwards to the Somme with Fourth Army as part of the Allied plan whereby the British would relieve the French Army positioned astride the Amiens to Roye road in readiness for their planned spring offensive on the Aisne. The transfer had been completed by the twenty fifth, by which time the 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers had been in the front line at Lihons.

Allied plans had been thrown out of the window during March 1917 when the German army on the Somme had withdrawn twenty-five miles to their newly built and formidable ‘Siegfried Stellung’, [known to the British as The Hindenburg Line]. During the retreat [code named ‘Alberich’] the Germans had adopted a scorched earth policy that had totally devastated the area they had left behind. Roads and railways had been blown up, towns and villages razed, trees felled, and wells polluted. In addition over 125,000 French civilians had been uprooted and put to work elsewhere.

Destruction on such an enormous scale had inevitably been a drain on the Allies manpower, as huge amounts of troops had had to be diverted to undertake essential manual work such as repairing the vital road systems. Involved in the pursuit of the enemy towards the Hindenburg Line from the fourteenth of March, on the eighteenth the whole of 35TH Division had pulled out of the line and put to work in pioneering duties on the torn up railways and blasted highways. At the time the 20TH Lancashire Fusiliers had been in support at Meharicourt, here the unit had received orders to proceed to the area of Curchy, near Nesle, where they had been placed under the orders of the Royal Engineers.

By the ninth of April Private Appleby had been serving with his Battalion at Quiviers, where the unit had been filling in shell craters and carried out battle practice. Whilst here the men had been subjected to appalling weather conditions. For the tenth of April the Battalion’s War Diary records; ‘Training of the battalion in attack during the day. The weather was most unfavourable, snow and sleet, and a cold North West wind. The wind brought down an old building on the valuable chargers belonging to the battalion, all of which were destroyed, and our groom seriously injured’ [4]

Three days later the Battalion had returned to the front by marching to Villecholles, where the unit had gone into the line in support to the 23RD Battalion of the Manchester Regiment [also of 104TH brigade]. The following day [13th of April] the men had returned to repairing roads in the neighbourhood. During that night a pre operation officers patrol had gone forward to reconnoitre the enemy line at Gricourt. The night before Private Appleby had been wounded, his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Vaughan, had gone forward with a party of officers to make a final reconnoitre; ‘The commanding officer and a party of officers from the battalion reconnoitred the German position and his advanced line in front of Gricourt—Potruet road, with a view to capturing them the next morning’…

On Tuesday the seventeenth of April a burial party had taken the bodies of Privates Appleby, Goodson, and Wright to the Casualty Clearing Station’s burial ground, which had been situated near the west corner of the Communal Cemetery at Nesle. The three men, who in all probability had fought together, had been buried alongside each other in Section A of the Cemetery, which today is tenderly maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. Alf Temple Appleby’s grave is numbered A 48, Fred Goodson’s, A 46, and William George Wright’s, A 47. During the same day that the Fusiliers had been buried, another soldier, this time from the 18TH Lancashire Fusiliers, who had expired at the C.C.S.. The remains of this Fusilier, Derby born, 22744 Private Amos Allen Sansum had eventually been buried alongside Private Appleby in Section A. Grave 49. There are a hundred and thirty four British casualties of the Great War buried in the Cemetery at Nesle, [a small number of whom are unidentified], twenty-one of these men had served with the Lancashire Fusiliers, all of them had died during April—May 1917.

Rachel Appleby had received the news of her husband’s death the day after his burial, two days later the tidings had appeared in a casualty list published in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 20TH of April 1917;
‘Buried on his 29TH Birthday - News has come from a Chaplain in France of the death from wounds, while being brought from the front of Private Alf Temple Appleby, Lancashire Fusiliers, 2, Mill Yard, Seamer Road, who leaves a widow and three children. He was buried on his 29th birthday, the 17TH of April. Before joining the Army he was employed at Naylor’s coal depot, although a bricklayer by trade’…

There had been no further information relating to the demise of her husband and Rachel Appleby had eventually received the customary small pension, a couple of medals [the British War and Victory Medals], and bronze ‘Death Plaque’ in recompense for the loss of a devoted husband and father.

A former member of the congregation of Scarborough’s St. James Church, in addition to the town’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial Alf Temple Appleby’s name is commemorated on this churches magnificent ‘Rood Screen’ War Memorial. Unveiled before a packed congregation during the evening of Tuesday the 12TH of April 1921 by the Bishop of Hull, this fine Oak Memorial contains the names of fifty ‘unconquered heroes’ and four civilians of the Church that had lost their lives during the Great War of 1914-1919.

I am indebted to my friends Malcolm and Carol Appleby for allowing me to tell the story Malcolm’s Grandfather Private Alf Temple Appleby, and for supplying much of the information that I have related in my text. God bless you both.

[1] Military Operations France and Belgium; 1917, Volume One. Captain Cyril Falls.

[2] History of the K.O.Y.L.I. in the Great War 1914-18, Lt. Colonel R.C. Bond D.S.O.
[Scarborough Reference Library].

[3] At the time of the 1891 Census of the population of Scarborough the Lancaster family had been living at No 31 Cambridge Street and had consisted of James, aged 41 years, born at Easingwold. Mary E., 42years old, born at Scarborough. Annie E. 15years old. Christiana, 13 years old. Thomas William, 10 years old, and James E. aged 6 years; all the children had been born at Scarborough.

[4] National Archives.

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