Princess of Wales's Own YORKSHIRE
Page 48. Back to the Ypres Salient. Battle of Houthulst Forest.
[Between the 6th and 25th October the 4th Battalion moved from the Arras sector back to
where they had started in April 1915 - the Ypres Salient.
Once again the Battalion were to be thrown into an offensive that had ground to a
Since 1915 troops in this area had been holding the line with no major "pushes".
In June 1917 the "Third Battle of Ypres" had commenced with the successful capture of the Messines ridge to
the South of Ypres.
The main assault had begun in July with the aim of breaking the German line to the North East of Ypres.
Torrential rain and the usual stalemate of barbed wire and machine guns caused the operation to be bogged down
in enormous loss of life for little ground gained.
The attempt was abandoned in November with the capture of the little Belgian village of Paschendaele, which has
given its name to the campaign.]
6th OCTOBER. The Btn marched to Bradford Camp at Achiet Le Petit, South of Arras.
Captain John Flesher Myers DCM. Killed in action. Aged 40. Home at 6 Dudley Terrace, Northallerton, N Yorks.
During his long military career he served in the 4th, 2nd and 6th Battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment.
He was born in Guycroft Street, Otley, on March 27th 1877 and was educated at the Westgate School in the town.
Captain John Flesher Myers. DCM.
He joined the Yorkshire Regiment as a private soldier in December 1894 and spent ten years in India and three in South Africa 1906-09 after the Boer War with the
2nd Battalion of the Regiment. He retired after 18 years in total as a Sergeant in 1913 with both Long Service and Good Conduct
He spent time as a warder at the Borstal Institution at Feltham in London and then worked in the same capacity at the prison at
Northallerton, N Yorks.
He married Miss Lillie Benson at Richmond in June of 1914 and they had one daughter, Betty.
He is described as being 5ft 11ins tall with dark brown hair and brown eyes.
When War broke out he enlisted as a private in the 4th Yorkshire Regiment, at the age of 37, and proceeded to Belgium with them on
18th April 1915. Due to his previous experience, he progressed rapidly, to the rank of Company Sergeant Major on 21st January 1915, and
then Regimental Sergeant Major on 29th September 1915.
John Myers was mentioned in Sir John French's despatches and received the Distinguished Conduct Medal in January 1916 for:-
“Conspicuous gallantry and resource in holding under heavy fire with a small party of men until relieved
a trench which had nearly been obliterated by shellfire. He also displayed great bravery in leading forward men into a trench occupied by
RSM Myers was also decorated with the Croix de Guerre by General Foch on behalf of the French people on 24th February 1916.
He was commissioned on 30th April 1916 and joined the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment on 17th May 1916,
serving with B Company as a 2nd Lieutenant.
On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme he was wounded in the right forearm and left knee at a German strongpoint called
the Glatz Redoubt, which was just to the South of Montauban.
He was invalided home and was treated in a hospital at Hartlepool. During this time he was presented with a commemorative clock
by the North Riding Prisoners Aid Society.
On recovery he was posted to the 6th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment in October of 1916 at Beaumetz.
He was promoted to Lieutenant in early 1917 and then made Captain in July after actions at the Battle of Messines.
The 6th battalion then moved into the Passchendaele offensive and on October 9th at 4-30am Captain Myers led his men in an attack on the
village of Poelcapelle where heavy casualties ensued as the men were caught in heavy fire from both flanks.
He was killed in this action.
A brother officer wrote later to his family:-
“We officers and men deeply sympathise with you in your loss. The regiment has lost a gallant and noble officer, one whose place will
be hard to fill.”
His body lost, Captain Myers is remembered today on the Tyne Cot Memorial and also on Northallerton War Memorial.
He left a will which he had made in the field and in which he left £255-6s-1d to his wife.
[I am informed by Peter Burnham, who is researching the men on his local memorial that the place of birth above is not correct.]
Second Lieut John William Brown.
Second Lieut Brown John William killed in action on the 16th. He was born on 19th February 1893 and was baptised in Northallerton on
25th October 1895.
His parents were called Laurence and Ada and his father was a shoemaker. Laurence or "Laurie" as he was popularly known, was an ex-bandmaster
and he also served with the 4th Yorkshire Regiment during the War. The family lived at North End.
John was also musical and he played the cornet in the Northallerton Temperance Band and was a bellringer at the parish church.
Before the outbreak of War he worked as a compositor for the North Riding and Northallerton Times.
He joined the local Territorial Battalion (the 4th Yorkshires) in April 1912 and was a Lance Corporal by the time he sailed to France with
them in April 1915.
He took part in the Battalion's first action at St. Julien, near Ypres, during the Second Battle of Ypres, when their counter-attack
prevented the Germans from advancing further and breaking through the British lines at a critical point in the battle.
He received a bullet wound in the neck later in the battle, on 2nd May 1915.
On 5th August 1915 he was promoted to Corporal and on 26th September 1915 he received a second wound, this time a bayonet wound to the arm.
He continued to rise through the ranks during 1916, becoming a Lance Sergeant on 15th February and a full Sergeant on 2nd March.
He also acted for a time as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant. Finally, in February 1917, after a short leave, he was sent for officer
training and subsequently commissioned into the 7th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
There were, in fact, three 2nd Lt. John William Browns who lost their lives serving with the Yorkshire Regiment.
In August 1917 John's parents received a telegram from the Military Authorities informing them that their son had been killed in action on
1st August 1917 only to receive a postcard from their son, dated 4th August, informing them that he was "still in the pink" and that he had
moved "a little nearer the line" to the Brigade Depot.
It was another 2nd Lt. John William Brown, serving with the 2nd Battalion, who had been killed.
Tragically, their joy was to be shortlived. John was killed on 16th September 1917, aged 24, while he was searching the battlefield for
wounded men from his platoon, during the Battle of Passchendaele.
Their position was said to be “a series of shell holes with no cover or protection from enemy fire or the weather”.
He is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Tyne Cot, near Ypres.
[Information and photograph by kind permission of the Northallerton Memorials Project.]
Officers serving with the 1/4th Bn at this time. The one standing has not been identified. From the Left the
others are Lt Francis David Farquharson, who was attached from the 5th Royal Scots. He was to be killed in action at Estaires
in April 1918. Lt Wilf Thornton, to be taken POW in March 1918. Lt T R K Ginger, who as a Captain was the Officer left in
charge of the remains of the Battalion after they were decimated on the Aisne in May 1918.
[Photograph kindly contributed by John Sheen, author of Tyneside Irish, Durham Pals, & Wearside Battalion.
From a small collection made by Lt Wilf Thornton and shown elsewhere on this website.]
17th OCTOBER. They entrained at Miraumont and travelled to Cassel from where they marched to Rubrouck.
21st OCTOBER. Btn marched to Arneke and on the next day to Wormhoudt, where they entrained and travelled
24th OCTOBER. The Btn moved by train to Elverdinghe where they proceeded to Cariboo Camp.
25th OCTOBER. The Btn relieved the 6th Btn Northumberland Fusiliers and went into reserve to the 149th
Infantry Brigade. They were placed under the command of the 149th Brigadier and over the next days were to
take part in the Battle of Houtholst Forest.
The Battalion War Diary says little of the day to day actions, but from other sources it is clear
that the Division had to attack heavily defended German positions over swampy land that was criss-crossed by streams and
had now been turned into a quagmire by heavy rains and constant shelling.
The 4th Yorks and 6th Northumberland Fus were in reserve at Pascal Farm.
The attack was to commence at 5 am next day, with 149th Brigade leading.
It was as usual supported by a creeping barrage of Artillery fire, but the Infantry could not cover the ground at the same
speed of its advance.
They were met by a German Artillery barrage and a hail of machine gun fire.
The 149th Bde were to lose some 1,000 men killed, wounded and missing.
26th OCTOBER. The 4th Btn moved into Support in the morning and into the line at night.
This day the following men were killed in action and all but 3 are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and
have no known grave.
Pte W. Christie.
22688 Pte Gotts Herbert. Home at - 7 Tower St, Stockton on Tees, place of birth and enlistment.
Age 24. Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
20110 Pte McNally John. Home at S Bank Middlesbrough, place of birth and enlistment.
21185 Pte Brown Arthur. Born and enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
30041 Pte Christie William. Home at - 49 Baker St, Belfast, place of enlistment. Born
Shankhill, Co Antrim. Age 20. Ex 40777 Notts and Derbys Regt.
Ypres, Tyne Cot Memorial, Menin Gate. Last Post Ceremony.
44320 Pte Dirden James. Home at -42 Union St, Spon Lane, West Bromwich, place of birth.
Enlisted at Smethwick. Age 23. Ex S Staffs Regt.
290469 L/Cpl Fenton Peter. Born and enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks.
20971 Pte Henderson James. Born and enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks. A family gravestone
in Linthorpe Cemetery, Middlesbrough, N Yorks records that he was "interred in Poelcapelle Cemetery, Flanders" and this
could apply to all these men. It seems likely that their graves and gravemarkers were obliterated in later shelling and
could not be traced after the War by the CWGC. The area was taken by the Germans in their offensives of Spring 1918 and
retaken in the Autumn advance of the Allies.
203174 Pte Oberon Robert. Home at 159 Westgate, Guisborough, N Yorks. Born at Nunthorpe and
enlisted at Stokesley, N Yorks. Age 19.
21195 Pte Peacock John, George. Home at N Ormesby, Middlesbrough, N Yorks, place of birth
and enlistment. Age 28.
202317 Pte Cave Wilfred, Sidney. Home at Little Houghton, Northampton, town of enlistment.
Died of wounds. Age 22. Buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery. Ex 4171 Northants Regt.
235094 Pte Atkinson Joseph Jerimiah. Battalion number 8854. Age 20. Born at 45 Dean St and then living at 10
School Croft, both in Middlesbrough, N Yorks, where he had enlisted. Joseph was one of 5 brothers, 3 of whom were killed in the First
201233 Pte Johnson William. Home at Long St, Thirsk, N Yorks, place of birth.
Died of wounds. Age 23.
8006 later 203190 Pte Shepherd Alfred. Home at East Heslerton. Enlisted at Scarborough, N Yorks.
Age 31. 30th OCTOBER.
32833 Pte Buck Alfred. Home at Alne Yorks. Born Whixley Yorks and enlisted at York.
25069 Pte Foreman Ernest. Enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks. Born at Port Clarence, Co Durham.
Died of wounds. Buried at Dozinghem British Cemetery
235141 Cpl Gordon Edmund, Liddle. Born and enlisted at Sunderland.
42366 Pte Harris Bertie. Home at - 7 Freemantle St, Eastville, Bristol, place of birth and
enlistment. Age 23. Ex Royal Field Artillery.
200241 Pte Johnson Robert. Home at Yarm, N Yorks, place of birth and enlistment.
25025 Pte Mankin Albert. Home at - Thornaby N Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Stockton on
203748478 Pte Marchment Coleridge. Born at Salisbury Wilt, and enlisted at
Tonypandy, Cadoxton, Cardiff.
200280 Pte Marwood Norman. Born at Kirby Whiske and enlisted at Thirsk N Yorks.
in action. Buried at Canada Farm Cemetery. 31st OCTOBER. Major B.H. Charlton, OC of the Battalion, signed off the Diary and recorded the Battalion
strength at the start of October as 37 Officers and 928 other ranks. He was unable to give the strengths and casualties
on this day.