During an action on 18th October the Battalion the War Diary recorded: "… eventually took up position on the Radinghem to Friomelles road in conjnection with the Buffs". Following a short, sharp, fierce engagement with the Germans the Battalion was forced to withdraw as the enemy pushed the line back. Heavy casualties were taken and in the heat of battle it was not possible to take their dead with them and the wounded also had to be left on the battlefield. After the Germans had taken the area they evacuated the wounded and looked after them before sending them off to a Prisoner of War Camp in Germany. The dead were hastily buried by the Germans and they remained undiscovered until 2009. One grave pit of eight man, another with six and some little distance away a single grave.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission were handed the bones and remains of the fifteen bodies and after exhaustive research, DNA tests, eleven of the bodies were positively identified (see above).
The funeral took place just over one hundred years since the men were killed and a large number of their descendents were able to attend. The 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment provided the padre, pall bearers, firing party and a military band, under the command of their Commanding Officer.
It was a particularly moving service with a good number in the congregation who had taken the time and trouble to travel from England, Belgium and elsewhere to pay their respects to these brave men. The youngest family members were very well behaved throughout and were very funny whilst the firing party fired their shots when the little ones covered their ears — see a photograph below. Should you wish to have a copy of any of the photographs, or see others I have not included please send me a message via the Contact Form and I will happily send you the full-sized originals.
The Ministry of Defence produced some useful and interesting information on each of the identified men:
Private Herbert Ernest Allcock
Herbert Allcock was born in Leeds in 1882. Herbert followed into his father’s trade as a joiner before enlisting with the York and Lancaster Regiment on 14 June 1902. Although initially enlisting for three years with the Colours he chose to extend this to eight, serving in India 1905-1910. He was discharged to the Reserve on 8 April, 1910, but just over a year later he was medically downgraded and transferred out of the Reserve. His 12-year term expired in June 1914, after which he immediately chose to sign up to the Reserve for four more years. Had it not been for that decision, Herbert would not have been mobilised when war broke out. Herbert married Ethel Bloomfield in 1911 and had two daughters - Winifred, who was born in August 1912, and Ellen, born April 1914. He was 32 years old when he was killed in action on 18 October, 1914. His widow never remarried and she died in 1975, aged 91.
Private John Bramfield
John Bramfield was born in Sheffield in 1884, the eldest of a family of five children. He entered the family trade as a grinder in the cutlery industry before enlisting with the York and Lancaster Regiment on 7 January, 1903. John served three years with the Colours and was discharged to the Reserve on 3 February, 1906, for the remaining nine years of his contract. Following his transfer to the Reserve, John resumed work as a table blade grinder. He married Rachel Forster in 1908 and they had two children - Edna, born in 1910, and Arthur, born in 1912. Although more than eight years had past since he was a regular serviceman, John mobilised immediately when war was declared. He was 30-years-old when he was killed in action on 18 October, 1914.
Private William Butterworth
William Butterworth was born at Wakefield in 1878, but by the time of the 1891 census his family had settled in Lancaster. He was the eldest of 11 children. William enlisted into the York and Lancaster Regiment on 13 December, 1904, for three years with the Colours, but he extended his contract this and served in India between 1905-11. He was discharged to the Reserve on 12 November, 1912, and mobilised at the outbreak of war. William married Margaret Clegg around six months before the war began. Margaret gave birth to their daughter, Beatrice, in early 1915. William did not survive to see her. William's family lost four sons during the course of the First World War. His father James Butterworth died from debility, which his doctor said was caused by having three sons killed and two others severely wounded during the war.
Corporal Francis Carr Dyson
Francis Carr Dyson was born in 1889 in Wakefield and was the second eldest of six children. His father had a varied career, working as a miner, police constable, iron foundry worker and a political journalist during his lifetime. Francis enlisted with the York and Lancaster Regiment in 1908 for seven years with the Colours. He had already been appointed Lance Corporal by the time of the 1911 census, but very little else is known about him as his service papers did not survive. His younger brother, Willie Rogers Dyson, served with the Royal Garrison Artillery and died of wounds on 30 April 1918.
Private Walter Ellis
Walter was born in 1883 in Doncaster. He was as a coach builder in the railway industry before enlisting in the York and Lancaster Regiment on 20 July, 1905, aged 22. He signed up for seven years with the Colours, which was subsequently extended to nine. He was deemed to be medically fit for service in spite of having "slightly flat feet". Walter was transferred to the 1st Battalion in October 1906 and served in India until his return to Britain in early 1914. He was transferred to the Reserve on 20 July, 1914, but spent little more than two weeks as a civilian before being mobilised at the outbreak of the war.
Private John Willie Jarvis
John Jarvis was born in Rotherham in 1880 and worked as a miner before enlisting in the York and Lancaster Regiment on 18 November, 1902. He previously served in the military during the Boer War and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with Cape Colony Bar. In spite of his military history John deserted on 21 February, 1903, but re-appeared on 9 July. A trial was dispensed with subject to him making good the losses incurred during his absence. He was transferred to the 1st Battalion and shipped to India. After completing three years with the Colours he was transferred to the Reserve on 9 July, 1906, resuming his occupation as a miner. Despite John’s military character being recorded as "indifferent", he responded immediately to the mobilisation call. John’s only brother, George, was killed in action less than a month after he died on 18 November, 1914, with the 2nd Battalion KOYLI in the Ypres salient.
Private Leonard Arthur Morley
Leonard Morley was born in Boxhill, Surrey, in 1892 into a family with 10 children - all of whom were considered exceptionally at the time. Leonard enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment on 27 April, 1907, by falsely declaring himself to be 18 years old. He was actually two months shy of his 15th birthday. Even at that age, Leonard was already around 5’ 10’’. When the "long and short" photograph above was taken, Leonard was still two months away from 18th birthday. After completing five years service with the 2nd Battalion, Leonard was transferred to the Reserve in June 1912. He settled in Sheffield and was planning to marry before being mobilised in August 1914.
Private Ernest Oxer
Ernest Oxer was one of three brothers killed during the course of the First World War - all of whom died during the month of October. Ernest was born in Swinton, near Rotherham, in 1886 into a mining family. He worked down the pit before enlisting with the York and Lancaster Regiment in October 1906. He served with the 1st Battalion, including a stint in India, before being transferred to the Reserve in 1913 after seven years with the Colours.
Ernest married Ada Hakin in the spring of 1914. The couple had a son who Ada named Ernest - in honour of his fallen father. He was killed in action less than a month before their baby was born on 16 November.
Private John Richmond
John Richmond was born in 1886 in Radford, Nottingham. His parents worked in the lace industry and John was one of 13 children. John enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment in October 1904 when he was 18 years old. Prior to enlistment John said he worked as a painter and decorator. He served three years with Colours, including some time in India, and was transferred to the Reserve on 28 October, 1907. John married Mary Elston in December 1909 but they had no children. Seven years passed between his transfer to the Reserve and his mobilisation in August 1914.
Private William Alfred Singyard
William Singyard was born in Newcastle in 1884. He worked as a tanner before enlisting in the York and Lancaster Regiment in May 1903 having just turned 19. His original enlistment for three years with the Colours was extended by a further five years. William was transferred to the Reserve in May 1911 and eventually found employment with the North Eastern Railways as a goods porter, where he worked until he was mobilised in August 1914. William married Margaret Allen in 1913 and they had a daughter, Elizabeth. She was little more that a year old when her father was killed. Three of William's cousins were also killed during the course of the war.
Lance Corporal William Henry Warr
William Warr was born in Lyme Regis in 1887, the eldest son of 15 children. He was sent to the Gordon Boys Home in Woking, Surrey - a boarding school established in 1885 to provide poorer children with military and industrial training. After completing his training in 1902, William (Pupil No. 1917) enlisted as a boy soldier with the York and Lancaster Regiment when he was 15 years old. He was appointed as a Drummer in November 1902 and served the full term of his 12 years engagement with the Colours before extending it to 21-year term in February 1914. William was appointed as Lance Corporal with pay just before he extended his contract. Just 12 days after William died his brother, Charles, was killed in action on 30 October, 1914, at Festubert with the 1st Battalion the Devonshire Regiment.
Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier
Bois Grenier is a small village in the Department of the Nord, about 4kms due south of Armentières. Leave Bois Grenier on the D222 in the direction of Fleurbaix. After 1200m turn left following the signs for the Cemetery, which can be found on the right hand side after the farm, approximately 800m from the main road.
The cemetery was begun in March 1915 and used by units holding this sector until February 1918. At the Armistice it contained three hundred and thirty-five burials, but it was then increased when graves were brought in from the battlefields south of Armentières and from the following cemeteries:
Croix-Blanche British Cemetery, Fleurbaix (Pas-de-Calais), in a garden by the road leading southeast from Croix-Blanche. It was begun by the 2nd Yorks and the 1st Grenadier Guards, and used from November, 1914 to July, 1916; it contained the graves of thirty-six soldiers from the United Kingdom;
Don German Cemetery, Allennes-les-Marais (Nord) (one Indian grave);
Doulieu Churchyard (Nord), containing the graves of four soldiers from the United Kingdom, who fell in October, 1914, and one from Australia, who fell in 1917;
Hantay Communal Cemetery German Extension (Nord) (one Indian grave);
Lestrem Communal Cemetery Extension (Pas-de-Calais), which was made by the Germans in the summer of 1918. They buried in it three soldiers and two airmen from the United Kingdom; and when Lestrem was recaptured a British Plot was made in which seventeen soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried;
Marquillies Communal Cemetery and German Extension (Nord) (three Indian graves);
Mouvaux Military Cemetery (Nord), used from October, 1918, to October, 1919. It was in the grounds of the Monastery at Haut-Mont, close to the aerodrome; and it contained the graves of fifty-one soldiers and airmen from the United Kingdom, one soldier from Canada, and three men of the Cape Coloured Labour Regiment;
Pont-a-Marcq Communal Cemetery German Extension (Nord), which contained the graves of four soldiers from the United Kingdom and about one hundred and fifty German soldiers;
Templeuve Communal Cemetery (Nord), in which one soldier from the United Kingdom and one from Australia were buried by the Germans, with about two hundred of their men.
Y Farm Military Cemetery now contains eight hundred and twenty burials and commemorations of the First World War. Two hundred and eighty-four of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate one casualty believed to be buried in the cemetery and an Indian soldier known to have been buried in Marquillies Communal Cemetery German Extension whose grave could not be found. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
No of Identified Casualties: 547