1/4TH   BATTALION
Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own
YORKSHIRE   REGIMENT
Page 56. From the River Somme to the River Lys.

The British retreat of March 1918 continued until the Germans were within five miles of Amiens.
The 4th Yorks Btn withdrew on the green line and on the 29/30th, after a move back to Mailly, were ordered to retire to Jumel.
From there they marched via Boves to Amiens, where they were entrained to move North to the West of Abbeville to rest and receive reinforcements.
Little did they know another German offensive soon awaited them on the River Lys.

29th MARCH. "At 5 p.m the Btn was ordered to report at point 9.0 East of Mezieres. The strength of the Btn was now about 300. On arriving at a point about 600 yards North of Mailly Raineval on the Mailly Morisel road at 10 p.m we were informed that the enemy occupied Moruiel. The Btn therefore withdrew to the wood West of Mailly where the night was spent."
2Lt Nicholas Scorer. Died of wounds. Age 20. Son of William and Margaret H. Scorer, of 22, Balmoral Gardens, Monkseaton, Northumberland, late of Newcastle-on-Tyne. He had Joined the 1st Life Guards on his 18th birthday and afterwards transferred to the Household Battalion. Buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery.
240393 L/Cpl Fisher Harold. Home at 54 Harehills Tce, Roundhay Rd, Leeds, Born and enlisted at Norton, Malton, N Yorks. Killed in action. Age 21. Buried at Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension.
33162 Pte Fowler Herbert. Home at Eastbourne, Kent. Born at Tunbridge Wells and enlisted in Paris, France. Died of wounds. Buried at St Sever [Hospital] Cemetery Extension, Rouen. Ex R West Kent Regt.
30th MARCH. "At 8 a.m. the Btn left the wood to return to the Transport Lines at Jumel. On arriving there we were informed that the Transport had moved to Boves. We therefore marched to Boves, arriving there at 6.30 p.m to find that the Transport Lines had moved to Sains En Amienois. The night was spent at Boves. Casualties Lt H.L. Harrison wounded and missing."
202953 Cpl Lawn Geoffrey. Home at - 358 Tong Rd, Wortley, Leeds, place of enlistment. Born Capetown, South Africa. Died of wounds. Age 23. Buried at St Sever [Hospital] Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
31st MARCH. "Left Boves at 10.45 a.m. and arrived at Sains En Amienois at 12.30 p.m. Marched to Saleux and entrained for Rue where we detrained about 11.30 p.m and marched to Billets at Estrees Le Crecy. "
Casualties for the month:-
Officers killed in action were Lt Col B H Charlton M.C., Major H Brown D.S.O. M.C., Capt and Adj J.S. Bainbridge, A/Capt D Spurway, A/Capt C N Carlton Stiff, 2 Lt T A Hyslop M.C., Lt S R Dobinson.
Officers wounded were Lt M W Macnay, 2 Lt J G Hardwick, 2 Lt T L Benyon, Lt R Edwards, Lt H L Harrison, 2 Lt W Fletcher, 2 Lts W L Snowball, N Scorer, A R Stein, D J E Lamb M.C., R Campbell.
Officers missing were A/Capt A R Powys, 2 Lts G A Green, W E Cook and W L Thornton.
Other ranks - 24 killed, 147 wounded, 168 missing, 10 wounded and missing, Total 349.
Reinforcements were Major A Graham and 47 other ranks.
Effective strength at 1st was 41 officers and 980 other ranks and at 31st 20 Officers and 646 other ranks.


Lt Stanley Raine Dobinson. Died on the 31st, aged 29. He was the son of Charles Dobinson, an ironmonger and his wife Hannah. Born 1888.
Home in 1911 was Craigmor, The Crescent, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, N Yorks. He had a private education at the King Henry VIII School, Earls Street, Coventry, Warwickshire and prior to the War was employed as a Chartered Accountant.
He joined the Territorial Force as a Private with Battalion number 2094 and went out to France when the Battn first crossed on 18th April 1915. He presumably fought with the Battn through their first trials at Ypres before his Officer potential was recognised and he was sent back to the UK on the 8th November of that year for Training. He was commissioned on the 5th December 1915 and joined one of Kitchener's New Army units, the 10th Battn of the Yorkshire Regt. They were part of the 21st Division and had very similar experiences to the 4th Battn being in the later stages of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and at Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. No details are known of Lt Dobinson's service during this period. At the time of his death he was on attachment to the 4th Battn from the 10th and had only just been received as a reinforcement. He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

Lt F D Farquharson on the Left. Attached from the 5th Bn Royal Scots. 2nd Lt Wilf Thornton on the right became a POW on 21st March.
[Photo kindly contributed by John Sheen, author of Tyneside Irish, Durham Pals, & Wearside Battalion.]


Pte Ernest Davison.

1st to 4th APRIL The German attack on the Somme exhausted itself and settled back into "normal" trench warfare.
But to the North on the Lys intelligence warned that another was being prepared.
The Battalions received reinforcements, often untrained youths and older men who had had to be re-classified as fit for duty.
The Btn strength had been brought up to 11 Officers and 787 other ranks, but as the Brigade HQ Diary points out they consisted of those who had barely recovered from the strenuous fighting on the Somme and those who had not been properly trained and assimilated.
The 4th Yorks Btn had little time in billets at Estrees Le Crecy to reorganise before they were taken by bus to Bethune where they stayed in billets until Sunday, the 7th April.

235132 Pte Cranston James. Home at South Otterington, Northallerton, town of enlistment. Died of wounds on the 1st. Age 23. Buried at Namps Au Val British Cemetery.
201752 Pte Davison Ernest, Oswald. Home at 454 Linthorpe Rd, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, town of enlistment. Killed in action - date given as 2nd April. Age 19. Buried at Pont Du Hem Military Cemetery La Gorgue.
[Photograph kindly contributed by Mick Trainor of New Marske, N Yorks.]
203809 CSM Atkinson Herbert. Home in Saltburn, N Yorks. Born Eaglescliffe, Co Durham. Enlisted at Northallerton. Died of wounds on the 6th. Age 27. Buried at Eaglescliffe Churchyard. Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar.


4th Yorks men about this time. Percy Garner, lower left in doorway is only man identified. He was to be wounded and taken prisoner on the 10th April 1918 and have his lower leg amputated without anaesthetic in Limburg, German POW Camp. See section on More Stories, page 24.
Photograph kindly contributed by Catharine Tarrant, Percy Garner's Grand Daughter.


4th Yorks men preparing ammunition about this time. Percy Garner, second from Right, is only man identified.
Photograph kindly contributed by Catharine Tarrant, Percy Garner's Grand Daughter.


As the German offensive on the Somme ground to a halt on the 5/6th April another opened on the Front between Ypres and Bethune
Within days the 4th Battalion, exhausted and with many raw recruits were back facing the Storm troopers.


Fred Appleton, a Bandsman of our local 1/4th Yorks Battalion was given leave to come home and marry at this time.
His bride was Hannah Mary Fawcett, the daughter of Robert and Hannah Fawcett, standing behind them.


241214 Pte Carrick Harold. Of Ross Hull. Died of wounds on the 6th. Age 21. Buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension Rouen.
8th APRIL Early in the morning orders were received to leave Bethune and the Btn travelled by light railway to Rue Montigny.

In the evening orders were received that 50th Division was to relieve the Portuguese Army in the line the following night.

47338 Pte Smeeton Albert. Born and enlisted at Nottingham. Died at home. Age 26. Buried at Nottingham General Cemetery.
203053 Pte Parsons George. Home at Jersey, Channel Islands, place of birth. Enlisted at Stepney, London. Killed in action. Commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.
9th APRIL At 4 a.m a furious German bombardment commenced all along the line from Bethune to Armentieres.
Shells plunged into the little town of Estaires, in which normal civilian life had until then been continuing.

Diary - "At 7.0 a.m the Battalion was placed under one hours notice to move.
During the morning marched to Trou Bayard, where the 150th Brigade was to concentrate.
Arrived there about noon. Ordered to hold a line West of the River Lys at Sailly Sur La Lys.
Position reached about 2 p.m and [under heavy shell fire] digging commenced.
Our front ran from Rouge Maison Farm on the right to the temporary bridge South of the factory on the left.
3 Companies were put in the line and one kept in Reserve at Battalion HQ.
4th East Yorks were on our right and 21st Middlesex were on our left.
We destroyed a foot-bridge on our front and the Royal Engineers had a party under an Officer ready to blow up the bridge at Sailly.
At about 4 p.m. all British and Portuguese troops on the East of the River Lys had withdrawn.
The R.E's tried to blow up the bridge at Sailly but failed to do so.
The bridge, however, was held by our posts and the enemy suffered heavy casualties in attempting to cross it.
Pte Charles Durkin was blinded on the 9th April 1918.
Here he is shown learning to touch type at St Dunstan's, with Princess Victoria and the Queen of Spain looking on.
[Photograph and information about him kindly contributed by his Grandson, Ken Durkin of High Wycombe.]

About this time the enemy crossed the River Lys some distance to the North of our position and during the evening he formed a line at right angles to our front, running along the road from Bac St Maur - Croix Du Bac - Pt Vanuxeem. The enemy was held on this line throughout the night."

2086 [later 210430] Pte Charles Francis Durkin, of 35 Queen Tce, Port Clarence, Co Durham volunteered shortly after the War broke out.
He was just 19 and enlisted on the 4th of September at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
His story shows the amazing courage of these lads and some of the trials that they had to bear.
After a period training with the 3/4th Yorks Bn he joined the 1/4th on the 29th January and went with them to Boulogne and on to Ypres on the 18th April 1915.
Just 4 weeks later, on the 20th May he received a gun shot wound to the left eye. By the 23rd he was in Hospital, where it was found to be so bad that he was sent back to England on the 29th.
By the 18th June he was considered fit enough to be attached to the 3/4th training battalion and on the 19th Sep 1915 rejoined the 1/4th Bn in Armentieres. The Bn returned to Ypres in Dec 1915 and were defending a position in Armagh Wood, where Charles was wounded again. Details are not known, but he was in Hospital again with "nervous debility", presumably the euphemism of the time for shell shock. By the 3rd March he had been returned to action.
German Troops moving to the Front.
[Picture from - "Das Archiv zum 1. Weltkrieg ".].

On the 2nd May 1916 he was back in Hospital again with furunculosis. This is the medical term for being covered in chronic boils, which attack when the immune system is week.
They must have been bad, as did not rejoin the Bn until August 1916. On the 12th Sep he was back at the Field Ambulance for two days with a severe case of diarrhoea.
He was by no means a shirker, as his superiors considered his military character very good, honest, sober and industrious.
He must have fought with the Bn through all their trials on the Somme and even harder time at Arras, for the next we hear of him is that he was granted 14 days leave in the UK in Dec 1917.
He came through the German offensive on the Somme of March 1918, but was badly wounded when the Bn faced their second major attack of the year on the River Lys.
On the 9th/10th April 1918 probably at Sailly Sur La Lys Charles received another gun shot wound to the head.
His injuries were described as fractured skull, nasal bone crushed, no right eyeball and veins exposed.
He was transferred to the General Hospitals at Le Havre and then Le Treport, from where he was brought home to Hospitals in England.
By the 20th July his wounds were considered healed, but he was permanently blind.
He was sent to St Dunstan's which had been set up in 1915 for Blind servicemen and here he learned to touch type.
After working for a time as a shorthand typist for the Civil Service, he became fund raiser for St Dunstan's itself.
He died in 1969 and was still finding tiny pieces of shrapnel emerging from his face.

35109 Pte Church Victor, George. Home at Brington Hunts. Born Barham Hants and enlisted Huntingdon. Killed in action. Buried at Pont Du Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue. Ex 35418 T R Battn.
The Ploegsteert Memorial.

35161 Pte Haw Joseph, Clarence. Home at - Horbury W Yorks. Born at Wold Newton, Yorks and enlisted at Wakefield. Killed in action. Buried at Pont Du Hem Military Cemetery La Gorgue. Ex T R Battn.
35328 Pte Monether Arthur, Percy. Home at 40 Grove St, Bootle, Liverpool. Enlisted at Waterloo. Killed in action. Age 18. Buried at Croix Du Bac British Cemetery, Steenwerck. Ex 74 T R Battn.
43508 Pte Rowe Frank, Leonard. Home at 9 Wormald St, Huddersfield, Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Halifax, Yorks. Killed in action. Age 18. Buried at Croix Du Bac British Cemetery. Steenwerck. Ex 87th T R Battn.
43601 Pte Sargeant Herbert. Home at West Field Cottages, Cliffe, Selby, Yorks Killed in action. Age 18. Buried at Croix Du Bac British Cemetery, Steenwerck.
240569 Pte Thorpe Thomas, Richard. Home at 83 Ainsworth Rd, Radclife, Lancs. Born at Pocklington Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Scarborough. Died of wounds. Age 24. Buried at La Kreule Military Cemetery Hazebrouck.
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