World War One - Palestine, Salonika and Macedonia

- Lieutenant Bryce Douglas
- Driver Thomas William Armstrong
- Gunner Francis William Collier
- Private Albert Loftus
- Driver Alfred Henry Hopkins
- Private Cyril Vernon Larkin
- Gunner Charles Pennock
- Private Frederick Allen
- Lance Corporal John Christopher Clark
- Private David Boyes

Formed by Royal Charter during 1917 to ‘commemorate in perpetuity those who had died in the service of the British Empire in the Great War’, by the start of the 1920’s the then Imperial War Graves Commission had held responsibility for 2,400 so-called ‘War Cemeteries’. Whilst over two thirds of these Cemeteries had been concentrated in France and Flanders elsewhere in the world there had been, and still are, a number of burial grounds containing the remains of soldiers, sailors and airmen native to Scarborough and District that had lost their lives in the ‘sideshows’ of the ‘Great War’. A handful of these casualties have already been highlighted in chapters dealing with the fiasco at Gallipoli and the war in Mesopotamia. However, there remain a good number of Scarborough’s now forgotten sons whose remains had been interred in the various Imperial [now Commonwealth] War Graves Commission burial grounds located far from the men’s native skies in places such as Palestine, Salonika [now Greece], Macedonia, and Italy.

A part of the Turkish Empire at the start of the war, Palestine had been invaded by Allied forces during December 1916 and it had taken a year of often ferocious fighting for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force [E.E.F.] to advance on Jerusalem. By November 1917 Sir Edmund Allenby’s E.E.F. had reached a line some five kilometres west of the city. Deliberately spared from any artillery shelling or direct assault fighting for the city had continued until the 8TH of December 1917 when all of Jerusalem’s prepared defences had finally been taken by British forces. During that night the city’s Turkish garrison had fled under the cover of darkness and at first light on the 9TH of December, the city’s Mayor had arrived at the British line carrying the Turkish Governor’s letter of surrender. Jerusalem had been entered that day, and on the 11TH of December Allenby had formally entered the city.

The fighting in Palestine was to continue, however, for a further year until the Turkish land forces had been defeated at the Battle of Megiddo during September 1918 and finally with the capitulation of Turkey on the 31ST of October 1918. By the start of the nineteen twenties there had been eight Imperial War Graves Commission Cemeteries located in Palestine containing the graves of ten thousand and six hundred and fifty British and Commonwealth casualties. Amongst them had been; Lieutenant Bryce Douglas.

Born in Scarborough on Sunday the 2ND of January 1898 at No.6 Westfield Terrace [a long vanished row of houses that had once stood where the town’s Odeon Cinema and latterly the Stephen Joseph Theatre is now located], Bryce had been the youngest son of Mary Caroline and ‘Physician /Surgeon’ Norman Gladstone Douglas. [1]

Sadly, soon after Bryce’s arrival, during Wednesday the 2ND of February 1898 his father had taken his own life by shooting himself in the mouth with a Colt revolver, the bullet passing out of the back of the Doctor’s head taking a part of his skull with it. Killed almost instantaneously, A subsequent inquest had concluded that the thirty-two years of age Doctor Douglas had ‘committed suicide whilst temporarily insane’ in the family home at No. Westfield Terrace. The death of Dr. Douglas had caused a sensation in the town and amongst the local press, ‘The Scarborough Mercury of Friday the 4TH of February 1898 having included a large article; which had begun;

‘We regret to record the death of Dr. Douglas, a well known member of the medical profession of Scarborough, which occurred under particularly tragic circumstances yesterday at his residence at No.6 Westfield Terrace, opposite the Railway Station, in Westborough. Dr. Douglas had not been in the best of health lately, suffering very much from nervousness, and within the last day or two had consulted at least two of his professional brethren as to the state of his health, who had advised that he was evidently run down from overwork, and to leave business cares alone for a time and go on holiday. He had reluctantly consented to do so, and had in fact made arrangements for his departure. Unfortunately, at the last moment, Dr. Douglas seems to have changed his plans and decided to remain at his duties meantime…the deceased was so genuine hearted and so hail- fellow- well met in his manner that his tragic death has been the one topic of conversation in Scarborough and the neighbourhood. Everywhere he was a great social favourite. He was also a keen huntsman and had owned some exceptionally fine horses, and hunted regularly in the district’…Following the death of her husband Mary Douglas and her two sons had resided for a time in Scarborough’s South Cliff area at No.26 Prince of Wales Terrace, however, by the star of the Great War the family had been residing at the ‘Manor House’, Whitkirk, Leeds.

Unfortunately, Very little is known of Bryce Douglas’s life following the death of his father. He had served during the war with the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant in the 101ST Grenadiers, however, by the time of his death at the age of nineteen years, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and had been attached to a regiment known as the 58TH Vaughan’s Rifles [Frontier Force] of the Indian Army that by 1917 had been attached to 234TH Brigade of the British 75TH Division. Killed in action on the 13TH of November 1917 during an attack on a Turkish held village known as Mesmiyeh during Allied operations to secure an important part of the enemy held Jaffa-Jerusalem railway line known as ‘Junction Station’, the remains of Lieutenant Douglas are interred in modern day Israel in Ramleh [now Ramla] War Cemetery, a burial ground that had been begun by Australian forces during 1917.

Situated on the coastal plain of Israel near to the city of Lod, Ramleh [from the Arabic word ‘Raml’ [‘Sand’] War Cemetery contains the graves of over three thousand Commonwealth casualties of the First World War, of which 694 are unidentified [the Cemetery also holds the graves of over a thousand casualties of the Second World War and a number dating from the post war years]. Lieutenant Douglas’s final resting place is located in Section P, Grave 15.

Bryce Douglas’s name had never been included in any of the numerous casualty lists that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of 1917 onwards, neither had the young officer’s name been included on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial. However, elsewhere in the town Lieutenant Douglas’s name can be found on a grave marker located in section South Terrace/Grave 14 of Manor Road Cemetery that also contains the names of the infant sister he had never known Marjory Kilmours Douglas, whose remains, according to the inscription on the now weathered stone, had been interred in Scalby Churchyard shortly after her death in 1893, and also the father he had never known whose remains had been interred with his infant daughter during the afternoon of Saturday the 5TH of February 1898. Having never remarried Mary Caroline Douglas had eventually passed away at the age of sixty-nine years on Friday the 27TH of May 1932 and her funeral had subsequently taken place in Scarborough on the last day of May.

Elsewhere in Israel, in Jerusalem War Cemetery, can be found yet another final resting place of one of Scarborough’s sons. Born in the town during 1890; 5069 Private Albert Loftus had been the youngest of nine children son of Eliza and William Loftus, who had been residing in Scarborough at No.9 Park Road, Falsgrave, at the time of the Great War. [2]

By the outbreak of War in August 1914 Albert Loftus had been working in the North Yorkshire town of Guisborough and had enlisted shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in the nearby city of Middlesborough into the Yorkshire Regiment. Assigned with the Regimental Number 11570, Albert had initially served with the newly formed 9TH[Service] Battalion of the Regiment that had been attached to the equally new 68TH Brigade of the 23RD Division, Loftus having landed at Boulogne with this unit on the 26TH of August 1915. Involved in the early stages of the Somme Offensive, Albert had been wounded during July 1916 whilst taking part in the capture of an enemy held stronghold known as ‘Horseshoe Trench, where on the 5TH of the month the 9TH Battalion’s Temporary 2ND Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell had won a Victoria Cross. Subsequently evacuated to ‘Blghty’, after a period of hospitalisation in Manchester Private Loftus had returned to Scarborough on convalescent leave, and to be married to ‘sweetheart’ Mary Livingston later that year.

Albert had eventually returned to army life to find himself like so many returned soldiers during the First World War, being transferred to another unit, which in his case had been the 1ST Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, a pre war Regular Army unit which had been serving in Macedonia with the 30TH Brigade of the 10TH [Irish] Division.

Embroiled in the bitter fighting that had taken place at Gallipoli between August and September 1915, the veteran 1ST Royal Irish had landed at Salonika during October 1915, and by the time Private Loftus had joined the unit it had also seen service during the retreat from Serbia to the north of Lake Doiran at Kosturino [7-8 December 1916], and also at Karajakois [30 September- 2 October 1916] and the capture of Yenikoi [3-4 October.

Loftus had been involved in the operations in Macedonia until September 1917, when the 11TH Division had received orders to embark at Salonika for service in Egypt in preparation for the British invasion of Palestine. Ready for action by the 16TH of October, the 1ST Royal Irish had gone into battle between the 1-7TH of November to take art in the Third Battle of Gaza, where the 11TH Division’s 31ST Brigade had played an important role in the attack and subsequent capture, on the 6TH of November 1917, of the Turkish positions at Sheria. Private Loftus had subsequently been amongst the British forces that had entered Jerusalem on the 9TH of December, and throughout the remainder of that month he had taken an active part in the city’s defence.

Eventually killed in action by enemy shellfire during Sunday the 10TH of March 1918, the news of Albert loftus’s death had appeared in the local press in a casualty list that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 5TH of April 1918, by this time his widow had been residing in Scarborough at No.17 Wheatcroft. Aged 28 years at the time of his death, the remains of Albert Loftus had initially been buried in a battlefield grave with little ceremony. However, after the end of hostilities they had been exhumed to be taken, along with those of many hundreds of other casualties of the fighting for Jerusalem to a burial ground located some four kilometres to the north of the city that is known today as Jerusalem War Cemetery. Containing the graves of over two thousand casualties of the Great War, Jerusalem War Cemetery is located on a neck of land at the north end of the Mount of Olives, to the west of Mount Scopus. Albert’s final resting place is located in Section A, Grave 45. Although commemorated on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial, I have been unable to find Albert Loftus’s name commemorated on any other of the town’s surviving First World War memorials.

Situated in the still war torn Gaza Strip, Deir El Belah War Cemetery also contains the graves of two men belonging to the district of Scarborough; Born in the village of Scalby, during 1892; 90812 Driver Thomas William Armstrong had been the son of ‘roadman’ George William and Harriet Elizabeth [formally Gross] Armstrong who had been residing in Newby’s Thoxenby Lane during the First World War.

A soldier since the outbreak of war Tom Armstrong had originally served as a driver with the Army Service Corps [Regimental Number 14892] and had arrived in France on the 27TH of September 1915. A veteran of service on the Western Front, Armstrong had also served in Macedonia, where he had been mentioned in despatches during 1917 for gallantry whilst involved in operations on the Struma River, Eventually posted to the operations in Palestine, at the time of his death, on the 28TH of February 1918, Tom had been serving as a driver with the 8TH Fields Troops Company of the Royal Engineers.

The news of Tom Armstrong’s death, reportedly as a result of being accidentally drowned, had eventually been briefly mentioned in the ‘Local News’ Section of ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 15TH of March 1918. However this, along with a mention in that newspaper’s ‘Births, Marriages, and Deaths’ column had been the only information, as far as I know that had been included in the local press.

Aged twenty-six years at the time of his death, the remains of Tom Armstrong had initially been taken to the 69TH General Hospital that had been located at Belah since April 1917, where the young soldier had merely been pronounced as ‘dead’. Eventually interred in the nearby ‘War Cemetery’ where Tom’s remains had been interred in Section B, Grave 141. Now containing the graves of over seven hundred casualties of the ‘Great War’, Deir El Belah War Cemetery is located some sixteen kilometres east of the Egyptian border and twenty kilometres to the south west of Gaza city and as recently as April 2008 has been damaged by an Israeli bomb which had severely damaged its Stone of Remembrance, and Cross of Sacrifice. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission assures that no graves had been affected by the attack.

Not included on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial Tom’s name can, nevertheless, be found in Scalby’s St Lawrence’s Churchyard inscribed on the base of the fine ‘War Cross’ Memorial that had been given by the inhabitants of the villages of Scalby, Newby, and Throxenby that commemorates twenty six men of those Parishes who had lost their lives during the war of 1914-18. Unveiled before a large crowd during the afternoon of Sunday the 17TH of April 1921 by Mrs. Lucy Coultas, who had lost two sons in the war; their names [Arnold and Reginald M. Coultas] are also included on the memorial.

[Amongst the twenty six names commemorated on St. Lawrence’s War Memorial can be found that of; M2/182371 Private David Boyes. Although born [1886] in the North Yorkshire village of Normanby [now a part of the City of Middlesborough] David had spent a number of years residing in the village of Scalby and at one time had been ‘the whip’ of the Staintondale hounds. Married in Scarborough during 1914 to Florence Gertrude Sellers, by the outbreak of war the couple had been residing near Scalby at ‘Foulsyke Farm. Employed in Bridlington as chauffeur by the following year, Boyes had eventually enlisted into the Army Service Corps during late 1915 soon after the birth of his only child Thomas Robert Boyes, and had served his entire military career in Macedonia, where he had been attached to the 23RD Horse Transport Company of the A.S.C., and had eventually died in the country on the 24TH of October 1918 from the effects of pneumonia brought on by a bout of the so called ‘Spanish Flu’ that had been ravaging the globe during late 1918. Aged thirty-two years at the time of his demise, David Boyes’s remains had eventually been interred in Section J, Grave 9 in Skopje British Cemetery which is located near the town of Skopje in Macedonia [the former Republic of Yugoslavia]. This Cemetery contains the graves of over one hundred British servicemen, the majority of whom, like Private Boyes, had died whilst attached to the Army Service Corps, during the latter stages of the war as a result of the ‘Flu’].

Close to the grave of Tom Armstrong, in Section C, can be found the final resting place [Grave 36] of a former resident of Cloughton. Born in the village during 1895; 1569 Gunner Francis William Collier had been the second of three sons of Ann Elizabeth, and ‘foreman stonemason’ Pearson Collier. Amongst the many locals that had elected to migrated in search of a better life in the colonies during the years leading up to the Great War, ‘Frank’ Collier had settled in South Africa by the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914 and had eventually enlisted into that country’s regiment of Field Artillery [for some unknown reason electing to serve under the surname of Stevenson]. Amongst the many local men that had survived years of warfare, Frank Collier had eventually lost his life at the age of twenty-three years to the Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 [that had in fact killed more people worldwide that the war had], on the 26TH of December 1918. [3]

Although a native of Cloughton Francis William Collier is not commemorated on either of the village’s two surviving First World War Memorials, although the larger one located on the edge of the Scarborough -Whitby road does contain the name of Frank’s cousin, Private John Collier who had lost his life whilst serving with the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli.

During 1915 the Germans had decided that Serbia must be removed from the war. Romania, with her precious oil supplies, had been sitting on the fence until one side or another had looked like winning and Bulgaria had also been in a similar situation. Serbia had also become a thorn in the side of Austria, and as those two countries had watched the Allied effort at Gallipoli turn into an ignominious disaster it had seemed to the Germans that now would be the time to take the two countries into partnership, therefore, during September 1915, the overtures that German had been making towards Bulgaria had borne fruit when that country had agreed to join the Central Powers [Germany and Austria] and in October Bulgarian troops had marched into Serbia. Watching this German initiative in the Balkans come to life, the Allies had believed that a far more important country that Serbia would soon come under threat from the enemy.

Though favouring the Allies at the start of hostilities in August 1914 Greece had remained neutral and following the invasion of Serbia the Government of that country had decided that the best way to retain that neutrality would be to allow a force of Ailed troops to be stationed in Greece. Eventually ‘invited’ by Greece’s Prime Minister [M. Venizelos] to land in his country, the British 10TH [Irish], 22ND, and 26TH Infantry Divisions had arrived fresh from action at Gallipoli and the Western Front along with one Division of French infantry had landed at Salonika [now Thessalonika] towards the end of October. Commanded by a French General named Maurice Sarrail, the ‘Salonika Expeditionary Force’ had also been intended to link up with, and aid the Serbian Army. The force had, however, landed too late to be of help to the Serbs for by this time the Bulgarian army had been sitting astride the rail line that the S.E.F. had intended to use to relieve the Serbian army.

Now virtually powerless, the Allied had merely stood by to watch the complete rout of the Serbian army by a combined force of German, Austrian, and Bulgarian troops. Equipped with inadequate weapons proper leadership, and without food, the Serbian army had been hit by a far superior force and had been virtually annihilated, the few survivors left to retreating through the mountains of their homeland towards the ports on the Adriatic coast where they had been evacuated by French and Italian shipping to the Greek island of Corfu.

Scathingly described by the Germans as ‘the largest internment camp in Europe’ the Allied troops in Salonika had done little but dig themselves in and hope that their presence would prevent the Germans from invading Greece. However, during August 1916 all that had changed when a large scale British effort had been launched a major operation near the town of Doiran where Bulgarian troops had established positions covering the town on a series of ridges running mostly from north-west to the south- east of Doiran. These successful operations had taken place between the 10TH and 18TH of August 1916 and had been carried out by the British 22ND and 26TH Divisions, who between them had captured a number of ‘small heights’ named ‘Kidney Hill’, ‘Castle Hill’, and most importantly an enemy held position known as ‘Horseshoe Hill’.

The next British operation had taken place at Machukovo between the 13TH and 14TH of September, where units of the 22ND Division had often been involved in fierce hand to hand fighting during the capture of the Bulgarian positions there. Throughout those operations it had been noted that ‘the highest praise was given to the artillery, the gunners doing tremendous work in hauling their guns over the mountainous country’…

Inevitably the British had suffered casualties during the above operations. Amongst them had been twenty-three years old; L/19606 Driver Alfred Henry Hopkins. Attached to ‘B’ Battery of the 101ST Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery [attached to 22ND Division], Harry Hopkins had been born in India in the Military Cantonment of Kirkee on the 24TH of February 1892 and had been the son of Kate and Alfred Hopkins. Married during 1913 to Miss Elizabeth L. Thompson, the pair had been residing in Scarborough at No2. St Helen’s Square by the outbreak of war in 1914.

Obviously no stranger to life in the British Army, Harry had begun his military career by enlisting for a period of four years of ‘Home Service’ into the Scarborough based 5TH Territorial Force Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment at the unit’s North Street Headquarters, on the 19TH of September 1914. Issued with the Regimental Number of 2266 the twenty two years had served with this unit until the 5TH of April 1915, when he had left the infantry to enlist, together with his by then sixty years old father, on the 17TH of March 1915 into the newly formed [March] ‘C’ Battery, of the 161ST [Yorkshire] Brigade of the Royal Filed Artillery. More popularly known at the time as ‘the Scarborough Pals’ father and son had trained together with the 161ST Brigade in various parts of England until December, when the unit had received its orders to prepare for embarkation for France. Eventually disembarking at Le Havre on the 31ST of December 1915. [5]

Attached throughout the war to the British 32ND Division by the start of 1916 the Scarborough Pals had been stationed near Amiens, however, by May the unit had been moved southwards to the Somme Sector where the Battery had been positioned near the village of Aveluy where during June 1916 Harry Hopkins had been forced to leave the Battery as a result of being injured in an accident. Eventually shipped back to ‘Blighty’ for hospitalisation, Hopkins had never returned to the Scarborough Pals Battery. Considered fit enough for active service by the start of August 1916, instead of returning to France and the 161st Battery Hopkins had found himself being posted to Salonika, where he had joined the 101ST Battery in time to take part in the operations at Doiran and subsequently the battle at Machukovo, where he had been killed by Bulgarian shellfire during the 12TH of September 1916.

Residing in Scarborough at No.26 Trafalgar Street West by 1916, with two sons [Harry and William Edward Hopkins] and a husband then serving with the British Army the shocking news of Harry’s demise had reached Kate Hopkins towards the end of September 1916 and her son’s name had subsequently appeared amongst a long list of local Somme casualties that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 22ND of September 1916, sadly, there had been no further information regarding the death of Harry Hopkins included in that or any further editions of the local press.

The remains of Harry Hopkins had eventually been buried in a burial ground located near to the town of Karasouli [now Polikastron] that today is known as ‘Karasouli Military Cemetery’. Containing the graves of over thirteen hundred British casualties of the fighting in Salonika, Karasouli War Cemetery is located some fifty kilometres from the Greek city of Thessalonika, between the River Vardas and the southern end of Lake Ardzan, in the Department of Pellis. This Cemetery, according to the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, can be found on the road to Kalinova on the edge of that village, behind the commune’s football ground and next to the Civil Cemetery. Alfred Hopkins’s final resting place is located in Section D, Grave 722.

Commemorated on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial, elsewhere in the town Harry Hopkins’s name can be found in the town’s St. Mary’s Parish Church on
The large ‘Roll of Honour’ located on the Churches north interior wall that contains the names of one hundred and fifty six men of the Parish that had lost their lives during the Great War of 1914-1918.

Despite being temporarily blinded by German Mustard Gas during the summer of 1916, unlike his son Alfred Hopkins Snr. had survived the war to live out the rest of his years in Scarborough. A veteran of over thirty years service with the British Army by the end of the Great War, Alfred had seen action in the Sudan and Egypt during the 1890’s and had also served in the pre war Scarborough based Territorial Force 5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment between 1910 and 1913 when he had obtained his discharge by paying the princely sum of one pound.

Often referred to as ‘the father of the ‘Scarborough Pals Battery’, Hopkins had enlisted into the Battery during April 1915 [Regimental Number L/22807] and by the time that he had been discharged as unfit for further active service during 1919 he had attained the rank of Sergeant. The old campaigner had eventually died at the age of ninety one years in Scarborough during Tuesday the 28TH of May 1946 shortly after the end of the Second World War following ‘a short illness’ and his funeral had taken place three days later during the afternoon of Thursday the 30TH of May 1946 following a service at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, amongst the mourners had been Scarborough’s then Mayor Alderman ‘Johnnie’ Jackson and a good number of former fellow ‘Scarborough Pals’.

Alfred Hopkins’s remains had been interred in Scarborough Dean Road Cemetery in Section East Circle Interior; Grave 76A alongside those of his wife, Kate Hopkins who had died during April 1932 at the age of seventy three years, buried in that plot on the 28TH of April 1932, sadly, today the couple’s final resting place goes unmarked.
[The grave also contains the cremated remains of one of the Hopkins’s daughters, Mary Jane Flinton who had passed away at the age of seventy-nine years on the 30TH of December 1968].

Born at Scarborough during 1894 the Hopkins’s youngest son William Edward Hopkins had also served as a Driver with the Scarborough Pals Battery [Regimental Number L/12124] during the war, he had also survived to tell the tale to become the Band Master of Scarborough’s Army Cadet Band that had led Scarborough’s ‘Victory Day’ parade at the end of the Second World War [a grandson of Alfred Hopkins, eighteen years old Dennis Hopkins, had taken part in the parade as the leading drummer in the Cadet Band.

Once the base of the British Salonika Force, the town of Kalamaria is located some eight kilometres to the south of the city of Thessalonika and during the war in Macedonia eighteen General and Stationary Military Hospitals had been stationed in, or near the town, amongst them had been three Canadian Hospitals, although no Canadian troops had been involved in that theatre of war.

Royal Army Medical Corps [R.A.M.C.] Orderly; 101992 Private Cyril Vernon Larkin had arrived in Salonika during June 1917 and after a period of training at the R.A.M.C. Base Depot located at Kalamaria had been posted to the nearby 1ST Canadian Stationary Hospital on the 22ND of July. However, shortly after a short period at this hospital, on the 16TH of July 1917, Private Larkin had been transferred to work in the British 68TH General Hospital. Caused by a parasite known as Plasmodium, during this brief period in Salonika Larkin had been bitten by a Malaria carrying female Mosquito and within fifteen days of his arrival at the Hospital had developed the classic symptoms of the disease, such as fever, shivering, malaise, diarrhoea, and other symptoms similar to those associated with influenza. Cyril had duly been admitted as a patient into the 68TH Hospital on the 29TH of August 1917.
Hospitalised in the 68TH Hospital until the end of September, on the twenty fourth of the month Larkin had been transferred to the 60TH General where he had remained until the beginning of October 1917, when the young soldier had been transferred to the British 5TH Convalescent Hospital. Considered fit for duty by mid October, Larkin had duly rejoined his unit at the 86TH General Hospital on the 16TH of October 1917.

Blighted by Malaria throughout the remainder of his short life, during 1918 Larkin, like many thousands of troops that had survived the war, had also had the misfortune to contract the dreaded ‘Spanish Flu’ and once again displaying symptoms of Malaria along with those of the ‘Flu’ Larkin had eventually been admitted into the 63RD General Hospital a few days before the Armistice [3/11/18]. At some points during the next few days it had looked like the young soldier would survive, however, by the beginning of December it had been noted in Larkin’s medical record that his sputum had been bloodstained, and by the thirteenth the soldier’s condition had been recorded as ‘very tremulous’. Nonetheless, on the 14TH of December Larkin’s condition had been noted as ‘rather better’, however, by the 17TH it had worsened to the point that at four thirty that afternoon it had been recorded that Larkin skin colour had become ‘very blue’, the dangerously ill soldier’s general condition being ‘collapsing and very tremulous’. Half an hour later [18-00 hours] his condition had ‘became rapidly worse, deeply cyanosed and died’. [6]

Born in Scarborough at No.3 King Street during July 1896, Cyril had been the only son of Florence Mary [formally Nixon] and ‘Journalist’s Clerk’ Vernon Wilson Larkin, who had been employed as the steward of Scarborough’s Liberal Club, located in Alma Square at the time of his son’s death. A former pupil of Friarage Board School, Larkin had left this establishment at the age of thirteen to work for local stationer W.H. Smith & Sons, whose shop and printing works had been located in Scarborough at No.31A St. Nicholas Street.

Still employed by Smiths at the outbreak of war in August 1914, Larkin had eventually enlisted into the army ‘for the duration of the war’ at Newcastle upon Tyne on the 24TH of September 1915. Aged nineteen years and three months at the time, Larkin is described in his enlistment papers as being five feet nine inches in height, having a weight of 105 pounds and having a chest measurement of thirty-one inches with an expansion of a further three inches. For some unknown reason described as only ‘fit for service at home’, Larkin had duly been enrolled into the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Issued with a rail warrant and ordered to report to London, Cyril Larkin had duly arrived in the city during the 25TH of September to be sent onwards to the R.A.M.C. Depot located at Aldershot where the youngster had been issued with a uniform and remainder of the equipment required by a soldier of the Great War. Posted for training with the 35TH Company of the R.A.M.C., Larkin had served in England with this unit until April 1917, when he had been included amongst the personnel of the 49TH General Hospital, which had been about to embark for France. Embarking at Southampton on the 19TH of April, Larkin had arrived at Le Havre the following day. Unfortunately no information is known about Larkin’s stay in France, his military record, nonetheless, shows the young soldier had arrived at Marseilles during the 16TH of May 1917, when he had, reportedly, been admitted into ‘Musso Hospital’. His stay there had, nonetheless, been brief, for on the 22ND of May he had arrived at Salonika. Posted to the British Military Depot at Kalamaria, Larkin had shortly been posted during June 1917 to begin duty at the 1ST Canadian Stationary Hospital.

A Post Mortem that had been carried out on the remains of Cyril Larkin had established the Scarborian had died as a result of ‘Broncho-pneumonia contracted whilst on active service’ and shortly, on the 16TH of December 1918, the young soldier’s body had been interred in a burial ground at Kalamaria known as Mikra British Cemetery after a short service that had been conducted by a British Military Chaplain named as the ‘Reverend H.J. Kenyon’.

Located within the Municipality of Kalamaria, behind the modern day Greek Army Camp of Ntalipi, and opposite the Communal Cemetery of Kalamaria, Mikra British Cemetery had been opened during April 1917 and had remained in use by the nearby Military Hospitals until 1920, Greatly enlarged at the end of the war when burials had been brought there from numerous smaller burial grounds that had been located nearby, today Mikra contains the graves of over 1,800 Commonwealth casualties of the British effort in Macedonia, Cyril Vernon Larkin’s final resting place is numbered 1007.

Although included on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial, sadly, Private Cyril Vernon Larkin’s name is not commemorated on any other of the town’s surviving World War One War Memorials.

Elsewhere in Mikra British Cemetery, amongst the field of Commonwealth War Graves Commission white Portland stone grave markers [Grave 153] that can be found there is yet another bearing the name of a native of Scarborough. Born in the town at No.3 James Street during 1895 [Baptised at Scarborough’s St Mary’s Parish Church on the 28TH of February 1895]; 73702 Gunner Charles Pennock had been the only son of Emily [formally Kirby] and ‘Joiner’ Charles Pennock. [7]

‘Charlie’ Pennock had enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery at Scarborough during 1915, and by 1917 had been serving in Salonika with the 84TH Small Arms Ammunition Column. Taken ill during November 1917, Charlie had eventually died from the effects of Pneumonia at the age of twenty-two years on the 21ST of November. The young soldier’s name had eventually been included in a casualty list that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 30TH of November 1917. This had been the only mention of the soldier’s death in the local press.

Like that of Cyril Larkin, Charlie Pennock’s name is commemorated on the Oliver’s Mount Memorial in Scarborough and does not appear on any of the town’s other surviving Church and School War Memorials.

During the evening of Sunday the 15TH of April 1917 His Majesty’s Transport Arcadian had been steaming in the Southern Aegean some twenty-six miles to the north east of the Greek island of Milos when the 8, 939 tons former Royal Mail Steamer had been struck by a single torpedo that had been fired by the German Mine laying submarine ‘UC 74’. Built in Belfast during the 1890’s, the Arcadian had recently left Salonika her decks packed with troops destined for service in Egypt, however, many had never reach their destination for the Arcadian had been so badly damaged by the torpedo that the ship had capsized and sank within three minutes of her being hit. The sinking ship had taken many soldiers and sailors with her, whilst many more men had been killed or injured by the huge amount of ship’s wreckage that had initially been sucked down with the vessel and had eventually resurfaced at enormous speed. [8]

A survivor of the sinking of the Arcadian would later recall the happenings of that dreadful night in April 1917…’without one moments warning, a terrific explosion occurred made hideous by the splintering into matchwood of great
Timbers, the crash of breaking glass and the groaning of steel girders wrenched asunder, followed by the hissing rush of escaping steam from the ship’s boilers. Nobody needed enlightening as to the fact that the old Arcadian, which had so often completed the Eastern trip, had received a ‘Blighty’ one, and was shortly due for Davy Jones’s locker. If doubts existed, these were soon dispelled, since having given one convulsive shudder from end to end, the great ship began to settle down on her port side with the loose deck paraphernalia slithering about in all directions and dropping in the sea…For a moment or two the Arcadian partly righted on her keel and then with much hissing of escaping steam and explosions from the boilerooms, she slid forever out of sight of human eyes, carrying with her hundreds of troops and her own crew caught like rats on the lower decks’…[9]

Over one thousand soldiers and seamen had eventually been plucked from the sea by the Arcadian’s escorting Japanese destroyer and a subsequent muster of the survivors had shown that 19 army officers along with 10 Royal Naval personnel, and 34 members of the Arcadian’s crew had lost their lives in the sinking of the troopship. Amongst two hundred and fourteen army ‘other ranks’ that had also lost their lives with the sinking of the Arcadian had been twenty-eight years old; DM2/169961 Private Frederick Allen.

No relation to the author, Fred had been born in the Berkshire village of Wargrave during 1890 and had been the youngest son of Lucy Elizabeth [formally Rockall] and ‘Machine and Tool Maker’ Thomas Allen who had been residing near Reading at No.22 Milman Road, in the village of Whitley at the time of their son’s death. [10]

Obviously not a native of Scarborough Allen had, nonetheless, lived in the town since around 1911 where he had been employed as a ‘mechanic’ in the dental practice of R.B. Hunter, which had been located in Ramshill Road. Married in the town during 1914 to Mary Elizabeth Doe, the couple had subsequently lived in Scarborough at No.65 Franklin Street. A veteran of the war in Macedonia, Allen had been serving with the 895TH Motor Transport Company of the Army Service Corps at the time of his death and his remains had never been recovered from the Aegean.

Reported as ‘missing’ in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 4TH of May 1917, as far as I can gather no further news of Fred Allen’s demise had ever subsequently appeared in the local press. His widow had continued to live in Franklin Street until the end of the war, however, by the nineteen twenties Mary Allen had been residing in Scarborough, according to the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, at No.210 Prospect Road.

Amongst almost five hundred Commonwealth nurses, officers, and soldiers that had lost their lives when their hospital or transport ships had been sunk in the Mediterranean during the Great War of 1914-1918 who posses no known graves but the sea, Frederick Allen’s name had eventually been included on the Mikra Memorial which is located within Mikra British Cemetery at Kalamaria.

Also included on Scarborough’s Oliver’s Mount War Memorial, like those of Cyril Larkin and Charles Pennock, the name of Frederick Allen is not included on any other of the town’s surviving World War One War Memorials.

Another now forgotten front of the Great War, units of the British and French army had arrived in Italy during November 1917. Commanded by General Sir Hubert Gough five Divisions of British Infantry had been sent from the Western Front to relive an exhausted Italian Army in the Montello Sector of the River Piave front, a defensive line that had protected the city of Venice where, although not involved in any major operations whilst in this area the infantry had, nonetheless, mounted continuous patrols across the Piave. Remaining on the Montello Front until March 1918, when the Allied troops had been relieved by Italian army units, the British 7TH, 23RD, and 48TH Divisions had been moved to the Sector at Asiago, which had been located in the mountains to the north of Vicenza, whilst the 5TH and 41ST Divisions had been sent back to the Western Front. During October 1918 the British 7TH and 23RD Divisions had been withdrawn from the Asiago Front to the Piave, where these two formations had eventually taken a prominent part in the Passage of the Piave [23RD of October-4TH of November 1918], and the final battle of Vittorio Veneto. An Armistice had eventually been signed on the 4TH of November bringing to an end all hostilities in Italy.

Situated in the Province of Treviso, the town of Giavera is located some twelve kilometres east of the town of Montebelluna and fourteen west of Coneglian. Close to the village’s church can be found Giavera British Cemetery which holds the graves of over four hundred British troops who had died whilst on active service on the Piave, and those who had fallen on the west bank of the river during the Passage of the Piave between December 1917 and March 1918. Amongst those graves can be found one belonging to; T4/40626 Lance Corporal John Christopher Clark. Born in Scarborough during 1894, ‘Jack’ had been the only son of Emily and J.C. Clark. [11]

Married in Scarborough during late 1914, Jack had been the husband of Elizabeth Ann Clark [formally Scotter] and the father of a son, John Christopher who had been born during early 1915. Living at No. 2 Barry’s Passage in Scarborough’s St. Mary’s Street at the time her husband’s death, Emily Clark had received the news of Jack’s demise shortly before the Armistice in November1918 and the tidings had eventually been included in a casualty list that had appeared in ‘The Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 8TH of November 1918;

‘Died from Influenza in Italy- news has been received telegraphically by Mrs. E.A. Clark, 2 Barry’s Passage, St Mary’s Street of the death from pneumonia and influenza, at the 29TH Casualty Clearing Station with the British Italian Expeditionary Force, of Lance Corporal John Christopher Clark A.S.C.. A letter from a nurse, since received, states that he was critically ill and wished her to say that he hoped to be home soon, and this was followed by a second stating that he had died peacefully on the afternoon of October 31ST. He was 23 years of age, joined up four years ago, went to France three years ago, and thence to Italy last Christmas. It is fifteen months since he was at home. He leaves a child’…

A veteran of over four years service in France and Italy, Jack Clark had died jst eleven days before the Armistice from the effects of the ‘Spanish Flu’ on Thursday the 31ST of October 1918, at the time he had been attached to the 23RD Division’s [Horse Transport] Divisional Train a unit of the Army Service Corps [soon after Jack’s death the Army Service Corps had been granted the title of Royal Army Service Corps].

[1] Born at Monks Coppenhall, Cheshire on the 23RD of June 1865, Norman G. Douglas had been the youngest son of Louisa and Scottish born ‘Draper’ Hugh Douglas. Married to Mary Caroline Clegg [born Oldham 1863] at Stockport during 1890 the couple had eventually moved to Edinburgh where Norman Douglas had studied medicine. Residing in Edinburgh at No5 St. Clair Terrace by 1891, Norman had shortly qualified as a Doctor of Medicine, and by 1892 had arrived in Scarborough where on the 5TH of March a daughter Marjorie Kilmour Douglas had been born. Sadly, Marjorie had died on the 27TH of August during the following year. Two years later, on the 29TH of January 1895 the Douglas’s eldest son, Norman Sholto Douglas had been born at No.6 Westfield Terrace, Scarborough.

[2] At the time of the 1901 Census the Loftus family had been residing in Scarborough at No.3 Scalby Road and had consisted of forty three years old William Loftus, born Doncaster, employed as a ‘brick maker’s labourer’, Eliza, also 43 years of age, Charles, 18, Walter, 17, [both had also been employed as ‘brick maker’s labourers’] William, 13 [employed as a ‘grocers errand boy’], Florrie, 12, Albert 10, and Mary, aged 7, all of whom had been born in Scarborough. Two of Albert’s brothers Charles and Walter, had also served in the Great War, unlike their younger sibling both had survived.

[3] Pearson Collier and Ann Elizabeth Burrows had been married in Cloughton during 1892 and had been residing at ‘High Street’ in the village during the 1901 Census. By this time the Collier family had consisted of Pearson, 28 years of age, employed as ‘foreman stonemason’, Ann, 32 years, Harold Pearson, 8 years, Francis William, 5 years, and Ronald George H. Collier, aged 2 years. All had been born at Cloughton.
Pearson had subsequently died at the age of thirty-four years during 1907, by which time Ann Collier had been residing in Scarborough at No.30 Durham Street.

[4] Born in Scarborough during 1854, Alfred Hopkins Senior had been a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery for twenty one years before the outbreak of the First World War having served in India with this regiment for sixteen years, and had also been a veteran of the campaign in Egypt of 1885-86. Married in Scarborough on the 20TH of March 1887 to Kate Rudd [born Scarborough 1858], the couple had subsequently lived in India until Alf’s discharge from the army during 1893. By the time of the 1901 Census the Hopkins family had returned to England where they had been living in Scarborough at No.21 Hope Street, by this time it had consisted of Alfred, 44 years of age, employed as Corporation ‘asphalt labourer’, Kate 42 years, Jane Eliza, 13 years, born India, Maude, 11 years, born India, Alfred, 9 years, born India William 6 years, and Mabel, aged 4 years, who had both been born at Scarborough.

[5] At the time of his enlistment into the Scarborough Pals during 1915 Alfred Hopkins had reported his age as being forty-four years and eleven and a half months, when in fact he had been aged over sixty years.

[6] Cyril Vernon Larkin’s service record and medical notes have survived the war and a fire during the Second World War that had destroyed the service records of the majority of the men who had served in the British Army between 1914-1918, and can be accessed in Scarborough Public Library via the Ancestry.Com Website.

[7] Following the death of her husband during 1897 at the age of thirty-eight years by 1901 thirty six years old Driffield born Emily Pennock had eked out a living as a ‘laundress’ whilst still residing at No.6 James Street with children Harriet aged thirteen years, Charles aged six, and Rhoda Elizabeth aged four years. She had eventually been remarried in Scarborough during 1902 to Robert Hopper and had subsequently lived at No.23 James Street.

[8] Commissioned into the German Navy during November 1916 at the time of her sinking of the Arcadian the five hundred tons ‘UC 74’ had been under the command of Kapitan Leutnant Wilhelm Marschall, and during her ten ‘war patrols’ this submarine had sank over forty allied vessels [including four troopships and one warship]. Finally interred at Barcelona on the 21ST of November 1918 after running out of fuel, the once heroic ‘UC 74’ had eventually been surrendered to France on the 26TH of March 1919 to be ignominiously broken up at Toulon during July 1921.

[9] Trooper Reginald C. Huggins of the East Riding of Yorkshire Imperial Yeomanry had escaped from the Arcadian by sliding down a rope, and despite getting his hand trapped between two steel stanchions, had eventually been rescued by two soldiers seconds before the ship had sank. Trooper Huggins had eventually served in Palestine until 1918 when he had been seen to France. Wounded in fighting near Valenciennes during October 1918 Huggins had eventually been discharged from \hospital during May 1921. His story can be found in True World War One Stories; Robinson; London; 1999.

[10] Also residing at this address at the time of the 1901 Census, at this time the Allen family had consisted of fifty years old Thomas who had reportedly been born at Coventry, in Warwickshire, Lucy Elizabeth aged forty six years, born at Sunningwell in Oxfordshire, daughter Minnie aged twenty years and employed as a ‘Draper’s Assistant’, Maud, aged fifteen, John, aged thirteen, and Frederick, aged eleven years. All the children had been born at Reading.

[11] Described as a ‘charwoman’ at the time of the 1901 Census Scarborough born Emily Clark had also been a widowed by then, and had been living in Scarborough at No.94 William Street with her two Scarborough born children, Lillian aged seven and John Christopher Clark aged six years. The household had also included forty years old ‘boarder’ Thomas Magor, who is described in the Census as being born at Barmston and employed as a ‘carter’.

Share this article

Request our email newsletter for all our latest news and information
Contact us

01723 369361
45 Eastborough, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 1NH, England

We are here

Opening times

11am - 4pm
11am - 4pm
11am - 4pm
11am - 4pm
11am - 4pm
Registered charity No 1144532. Company No 06755717.