Corporal 16324 Robert Raffle, from South Shields, embarked 11 September 1915, probably with 14 DLI. He was probably transferred to 11 DLI in February 1918. He died of wounds on 3 July 1918, and is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension. His service records have not survived, but the battalion war diary indicates that on 3 July 1918 nineteen ‘other ranks’ were gassed and there were sporadic woundings on other days. He cannot be definitively traced in the 1911 census but may have been the 14-year old son of Robert and Jane Raffle of Commercial Road, South Shields, in which case he worked as a docks labourer before joining up.
Ramsey, Charles Albert
Private 21837 Charles Albert Ramsey died of wounds, 8 October 1916, and is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt.
He attested at Newcastle on 10 November 1914, and lived at Bensons Buildings, Westerhope, Newcastle. He was 19 yrs 243 days, coal miner, 5ft 7 ¾ , 36 ½ chest, the son of David and Margaret Ramsey, with 2 sisters and 3 brothers. In the 1911 census he was aged 15 and already working underground as a miner, at which time there were five other brothers, and one daughter living at home ranging from age 38 to 18 months.
He initially trained with 16 DLI, and was then sent to join the BEF, assigned to 11 DLI from 4 August 1915, serving in C Company. On 2 November 1915 he reported to 61 FA, with a sprained ankle, was sent to 20 DRS for treatment, and back to duty on 8 November. On 13 May 1916 he reported to 61 FA with scabies, and returned to duty on 30 May. On 8 October 1916 he died of wounds at 36 Casualty Clearing Station. He was probably one of thirty-one men wounded during trench work under shell fire on the 4-5 October. He left no will, but had paid 9s 3d to his family by way of allotment of pay.
Private 13421 John Ramshaw was in C Company and served as a witness at the Bowlt Enquiry 4 August 1915. He survived the war. No further information available and the name is too common to distinguish in the 1911 census for the Durham area.
Private 32718 George Redpath , aged 41, died of wounds, 27 March 1918, and is buried Namps-au-Val British Cemetery.
He enlisted under the Derby scheme, attested 10 December 1915, and was called up at Newcastle on 23 May 1916. He was 39 yrs 7 months, 5ft 4½, 35½, 126 lbs, born Sherburn, and was a Presbyterian. He worked as a colliery weighman, and lived at 34 Success Cottages, Fencehouses. He was not married, his mother was widowed, and he had 4 brothers and 3 sisters all in their 40s and 50s.
During training he had a clean conduct sheet. On 29 August 1916 he went out to France and joined 14th DLI. A few weeks later on 14 September, he was transferred to 11th DLI and remained with them for the rest of his war. On 27 March 1918, during the March Retreat, he was admitted to 41 CCS, where he died of wounds.
The personal items returned to the family were: defaced souvenir franc note, disc, pipe, tobacco box, watch and chain, badge, letter case – all left to Mrs Margaret Redpath, his mother.
In 1911 he was a colliery railway clerk aged 34, looking after his widowed mother Margaret, 71, and his unmarried sister, Ellen, 38, living at 34 Success Cottages, Fencehouses.
Private 17541 Joseph Redshaw was an early recruit, going out with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He was later transferred 21739 Royal Irish Fusiliers, then 29681 Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He survived the war, being discharged Class Z to the reserve. Service records have not survived. There are several Durham area men in the 1911 census of this name, but by cross reference with service records that have survived, the most likely person was Joseph Redshaw, then aged 24, Colliery Blacksmith, of 4 Stone Row, Team Colliery, Low Fell, married to Alice Ellen and with two small daughters.
Sergeant 17103 Alexander Reed was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette, 27 October 1916. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going out with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He completed his service at the rank of WO Class II and was discharged at the end of the war to Class Z Reserve.
Rees, D. J.
Lieutenant, aged 37, barrister born in Swansea and living in Shrewsbury, died in England, 7 July 1919, and was buried at Putney Vale Cemetery, Wandsworth. He served with D Company, and assisted at the Brown Enquiry 4 April 1917 as Second Lieutenant. He was the son of John and Anne Rees and the husband of Marie Rees of Oakfield, Oakley Street, Shrewsbury. Not traced in 1911 Census.
Private 23538 Fred Reidy died of wounds on 11 October 1915, and is buried at Merville Communal Cemetery.
He attested 28 January 1915 in Gateshead. He was a labourer, aged 24 yrs 256 days, lived at 21 Milvain St, Gateshead, and was 6ft 0¼, 162 lbs, 40½ chest. His wife was Rose (née Wright), married at the Baptist Chapel, Durham Rd, Gateshead 22 November 1913 and they had one child William Frederick born 9 January 1914. The widow remarried, and became Laidler.
He had a clean conduct sheet during training, was posted to 11 DLI 10 February 1915, went out with battalion in July and died of wounds at 7 CCS, via 61 FA (gsw, left side of chest) on 11 October 1915. He served with A Company. The battalion were training as infantry in the front line trenches under constant shell fire when he was wounded.
His wife had received 17s 6d pay allowances, and got a 15s 0d pension from 24 April 1916. Hi effects (not listed) were returned, but the widow wrote asking about a missing ring and if it could be retrieved, also could she have a map of her husband’s grave location as someone in York had had.
Private 79728 John Renhard, from Wakefield, killed in action, no grave, commemorated Vis-en-Artois Memorial. Although he may have served with 11 DLI, it would appear that at the time of his death he was with 13th Battalion. He was formerly 32466 in the West Riding Regiment, though this does not appear on his medal index card. Not found in 1911 Census, unless he was John Francis Reynard, 24, grocer’s assistant, boarding in Wakefield but born in Harrogate.
Richardson, George (Private)
Private 17936 George Richardson, aged 45, died of wounds 12 August 1918, and is buried at Les Baraques Military Cemetery.
He attested at Birtley 31 August 1914, coal miner aged 35 from Edmondsley, Co Durham, 5ft 4 ¾ , 120 lbs, 35½ chest. Posted first to 11 DLI and then back to 16 DLI.
He was admonished for overstaying pass during 1915, and again for being absent 1-8 November 1915, when he got 14 days CB and lost 7 days pay. He was charged with having a dirty rifle on inspection in France 4 May 1916 and lost 3 days pay. While in hospital at Étaples 31 December 1917 he got days CB for failing an inspection.
On 15 December 1915 he was admitted 26 GH Étaples with scabies, to unit 25 April 1916. From 31 July to 9 August 1917 he was on leave to England. On 20 September 1917 he was admitted to 12 CCS with a sprained left knee occasioned by playing football and was passed on for treatment to 51 GH VDG and a Medical Board at Base Depot. The rest of his health record is illegible but he was posted to No 6 Rest Camp, Calais and while he was there he was killed in an air raid (bomb wounds to skull), No 30 GH, 12 August 1918.
His wife was Josephine Emma Richardson of 17 Tower Road, Greencroft, Annfield Plain and he had five children. She received 24s 6d weekly pay allowance, and later a pension of 25s 5d (other address 33 Cross Keys Lane, Low Fell). After the war she was living at 389 Scotswood Road, Newcaslte. Personal effects returned: letters, photos, cards, wallet, wrist watch and strap
Richardson, George (Corporal)
Corporal 17104 George Richardson volunteered on 28 August 1914 and was assigned to 11 DLI, quickly appointed to the rank of Corporal. He commenced a diary while in charge of a tentful of recruits at Woking in 20 October 1914. He was a chauffeur by trade, working for the manager of the Consett Iron and Steel Works. Because of his driving skills he was ordered to join a unit of the Army Service Corps on 4 October 1915 and served the rest of the war with the ASC. He survived the war and his diary ‘In the Pink’ is in the process of transcription and publication. It is a magnificent source of information about the men of 11 DLI in the early years, especially C Company, with photographs, postcards and letters, as well as charting his relationship with his newlywed wife, Ettie. [Unfortunately – I only discovered about this after the book was published. C’est la vie!]
Private 15209 Robert Richardson, from Broom Park, Co. Durham, was killed in action 11 April 1916, and is buried Essex Farm Cemetery, Boezinge. His service records have not survived, but his medal index card indicates that he went out to France with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He enlisted in North Shields.
Ridley, Joseph Wilson
Joseph Wilson Ridley was aged 33 years and 2 months when he enlisted in West Stanley on 15 December 1914. He was born in Clough Dene (near Tanfield and Beamish) in the autumn of 1881, the son of Edward and Emily Ridley, a mining family. Joe, however, became a warehouse worker, first in a flour mill and then with the Cooperative Society, where he worked when he signed up. By then he had married Mary Ann Nicholson (in 1904) and they had three sons, with a fourth to follow the next year. They lived at 44 Towneley Street, West Stanley.
In common with many older, married men, Joe was first allocated as Private 22535 to 17 DLI, one of the training battalions on Cannock Chase at Rugeley on Christmas Eve, 1914. He was made up to Temporary Lance Corporal on 23 July 1915, and went out to France on 11 August 1915, where he joined 11 DLI. He was not confirmed in the rank until 22 October 1916, after the battalion had suffered terrible losses during the capture of Guillemont and other key actions. He was on leave to England from 6-16 October 1917, in between the actions at Passchendaele and Cambrai. He missed none of the major events in which 11 DLI was involved and, after the retreat during March 1918, he was made up to Sergeant on 2 April in place of Thomas Bashforth (the author’s grandfather), who had been killed on 27 March. He remained with the battalion for the duration of the war and afterwards, though he was home on leave in the UK during the Armistice celebrations (30 October 1918 to 13 November). On 13 January 1919, his warehouseman skills were put to use when he was promoted Acting Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant. In that role, he would have been responsible for all the work re-assembling, maintaining and getting into good order all the equipment that was to be returned to the UK. He preceded the final battalion embarkation, leaving for the UK on 13 June 1919. On the way, he was examined by Captain Tollitt as part of a claim for a pension due to rheumatism – it was not granted. He was finally demobilised on 15 July 1919 at Ripon. He had several more children after the war, including twins by his housekeeper after his wife had died. He died in 1951.
[My thanks to Wall to Wall Productions for alerting me to this man as part of their research for an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, involving the singer Cheryl.]
Private 13784 Albert Roberts of Ravensworth Terrace, Gateshead enlisted early with the 11th Battalion DLI and survived the war. Only his medal record card remains, showing that he landed in France on 20th July 1915, received the Victory, British and 15 Star medals and was graded Class Z at the end of the war.
However, family history reports that he was involved in a mustard gas attack at some time during the conflict and that his health was always poor afterwards.
He was still single when the war ended because Lucy Keating, his intended wife refused to marry him while the conflict continued as she feared being widowed as had happened to so many women of her acquaintance. They were, however married in Gateshead on 20th November 1918 at which point, Albert had employment as an ink maker. Lucy and Albert had two children, Leo, born 1920 and Lucy, born 1922.
Albert’s health continued to deteriorate and he entered the War Pensions Hospital Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 23rd February 1923 at which time he was in receipt of a War Pension of 40/- per week. He remained there until he died on 24th July 1923 aged 32 years. His Death Certificate records cause of death as Valvular disease of the heart and heart failure. While no mention is made of the likely origin of the disease being mustard gas poisoning, it has been so noted on other veteran’s death certificates.
Sadly, Lucy and her children were deemed ineligible to receive a pension after his death and had to rely on whatever she could earn as well as the support and kindness of relatives until the regulations changed many years later.
Albert was buried in the East Cemetery, Gateshead where many veterans are interred but although families are allowed a period of 14 years in which to buy the burial plot (grave number 4789 Division V), Lucy was never able to do so. Another family was allocated the lair, therefore, and sadly, Albert’s grave remains unmarked.
Lieutenant John Robertson served with the battalion from the beginning, going out to France on 20 July 1915. He later transferred to the Indian Army at the rank of Captain. While stationed near Bombay in 1921 he sent in his claim for the 1914-15 Star. His medal index card gives his address as 2 St Edmund’s Road, Gateshead. Of young men of this name in the 1911 Census for Gateshead the most likely candidate is John Robertson, the 19 year old son of Alexander and Mary Robertson of 49 Herbert Street, though this is speculative. He was at that time a student teacher employed by the Borough Council.
Robson, David Sinclair
Company Sergeant Major 9647 David Sinclair Robson, aged 34, from Wark near Hexham, was reported missing in action on 23 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.
Robson was a regular sodier still attached to the Reserve when war broke out. He joined the DLI originally on 5 September 1906 at the age of 24, having previously been a labourer. The records include several references which indicate that among other jobs he had worked as a railway porter on his local station. He had previously been in the 1st Volunteer Brigade, Northumberland Fusiliers, so was keen on army life. He was 5ft 5¼, 130 lbs and had a 37 in chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. He was Presbyterian and had a scar on the middle finger of his left hand.
Despite his love of army life he was occasionally in trouble. He was subject to a court of enquiry in India in 1909 as a result of wounds to his knee in an accident. In 1912 he was severely reprimanded and lost 2 days pay for breaking out of barracks at Newcastle and getting his rifle slightly rusty. He served a full seven years with the colours before going into the reserve.
He was called up as a reservist on 5 August 1914, when he would have been 32, and posted as Sergeant to 2 DLI. By 8 Sept he was in France and remained with them until 4 Dec 1914, when he was returned to the Depot. He was assigned to 11 DLI on 21 May 1915 before they went out to France. By 2 June he was A/CSM, being confirmed in that rank on 13 July 1916. He was reported missing on 23 March 1918 and on 30 May was struck off the roll, presumed dead.
Post war correspondence regarding Robson went to his father, Mr James Robson, Stoney Terrace, Wark.
Private, from Gateshead, Listed Gateshead Roll of Honour. Nothing further known.
Company Sergeant Major 12621 William Rogers, foreman miner Group 3, enlisted 12 August 1914, aged 31, and served with B Company. His service book at Durham County Records Office [D/DLI/950/1] indicates he was paid until 19 June 1918 and may have been invalided out.
Pencil notes on the inside flap indicate that he was interested in football, noting down the names of teams such as Lincoln City, Sheffield Wednesday and Notts Forest. On the back page these are in two columns:
Safe Guard Not Off
Everton St Mirren
Third Lanark Leics City
Blackburn Third Lanark
Manchester U Motherwell
These do not have any obvious connection to Rogers himself and one wonders if this was some form of gambling in the form of a regular sweepstake.
He may appear in the photograph of sergeants of 10/11 DLI from December 1914. He was paid 4s 0d, plus 6d proficiency, less 10d allotment = 3s 8d (counter-signed 27 July 1917 by 2 Lt Critchley] payments continue until 19 June 1918 totalling £250.
Private 76805 Samuel Robertson did not serve overseas before 1916. His service with 11 DLI was sandwiched between two stints as Sapper 182984 Royal Engineers. Nothing further known.
Rolfe, John George
Private 18952 John George Rolfe, aged 26, died of wounds 12 September 1916, and is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery.
Born Leadgate, he was a miner aged 23 yrs and 10 days when he enlisted at Consett on 1 September 1914. He was not married. He was 5ft 6 ¼ , 134½ lbs, 34½ chest, fair hair, blue eyes, dark brown hair, C of E.
He was sent to 11 DLI immediately and served with A Company. There are no further details of problems with health or conduct. He died of wounds (gsw, right shoulder and chest) at 1st South African General Hospital, Abbeville on 12 September 1916. The original wound was on 2 September, treated at 21 CCS before he was transferred by barge to Abbeville.
His father was George Rolfe of 13 Robson St, Consett. His mother was dead and he had a brother and four sisters.
Roper, Thomas Frederick
Private 9992 Thomas Frederick Roper, aged 24, died of wounds 22 June 1917, and is buried at Vaulx Hill Cemetery.
Roper enlisted at West Hartlepool 3 September 1914, aged 21 yrs 49 days. He was 5ft 7in, 132 lbs, 37½ chest, fresh complexion, brown eyes, brown hair, and worked as a coal miner. He had been born at Ludworth.
He was assigned to 4 DLI for training. On 2 January 1915 he was admonished and lost 5 days pay for being absent from tattoo. On 6 April 1915 he was absent for 8 days, for which he was again admonished and lost 8 days pay. On 3 June 1915, for the same offence he was given 3 days confined to barracks and lost 2 days pay. Nothing daunted, on 11 July 1915 he was docked 3 days pay and given 5 days CB for being absent from reveille. He was clearly not given to army routines.
On 17 August 1915 he was posted to France to join 2 DLI and remained with them until 5 August 1916. On 23 March 1916 he was admitted 17 FA for dental treatment, returning to duty next day. On 31 July 1916 he was again with FA and on 5 August 1916 he was sent home to the UK for treatment for ‘cervical adenitis’ (a bacterial infection in the neck glands causing painful swelling, often associated with heavy smoking and drinking, as well as trauma). Initially he was treated at Northampton General Hospital until 18 August before transfer to the VAD Hospital at Brackley until 17 October 1916, when he was returned to duty at the DLI Depot. On 28 October he was attached to 3 DLI (reserve battalion). He was allowed leave from 4-12 January 1917 and on 1 March 1917 sent to France where he was initially posted to 12 DLI, before being transferred on 26 March to 11 DLI, C Company. He died of wounds at 60 FA on 22 June 1917.
During June 1917, 11 DLI were stationed at Vaulx-Vraucourt, from where they continued to do trench work as normal, while batches of men went on leave or rest and recreation tours. This apparent quiet was false, however. As the battalion war diary related: ‘Battalion HQ is situated in a large garden, but position anything but comfortable. Our battalion being in fairly close proximity, the Bn HQ comes in for more than a fair share of splinters from shells bursting NE and SE of us, although the shells drop fully 500 to 600 yards away. The Companies are equally uncomfortable, excepting perhaps D Company in Vraucourt.’ There were constant references throughout the month to men being killed and wounded by this constant random shelling, and Roper will have been wounded during one of these incidents.
Correspondence was to his widowed mother, Mrs MA Roper of Providence House, High Grange Road, Spennymoor. He also had four brothers. Items returned were: disc, letter, photos, metal ring, tobacco box, belt, scissors, match box cover, knife and address book. A letter was sent to Mrs Roper on 8 July 1920 informing that his remains had been exhumed and reburied at Vaulx Hill Cemetery near Bapaume as part of the ‘concentration’ process.
Rose, William Albert
Private 25757 William Albert Rose was a signaller with 11 DLI. He went out with the battalion on 20 July 1915 and survived the war, being released Class Z. (Information from Paul Rose, Great War Forum, and medal index card).
Rundle, John William
Private 17552 John William Rundle was reported missing in action 24 March 1918, and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. He was born Monkwearmouth, resident in Pelton Fell and signed up at Chester le Street. His service records have not survived, but his medal index card indicates that he went out to France with the battalion on 20 July 1915.
Rushforth, Stanley H
Private 46288 Stanley H Rushforth was a conscript who first served in a Training Reserve battalion with the regimental number 5/60185. Nothing further can be positively identified. The name is not common, the only likely candidate in the 1911 Census being Stanley William Rushforth, GPO messenger then aged 14 and living in London, but this would be highly speculative.
Private 73167 Richard Rust, was killed in action 24 March 1918, and is buried at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery.
Rust was not an early volunteer. He attested at Stanley as a conscript on 17 January 1916, being mobilised finally on 13 August 1917 and posted overseas in Dec 1917 via Boulogne. At 34 IBD Etaples he was assigned to 5 DLI, was then reposted to 14 DLI, before joining 11 DLI to serve with D Company.
At the time of his attestation at Stanley, Co Durham, he was 20 years and 336 days old, stood 5ft 4½ins, with a chest expansion of 2 inches to 34 inches. he was a platelayer with the North Eastern Railway and lived at 20 Blanch Terrace, Tantobie. He was described as of fair physical development. His father was William Rust and he had two half brothers, William 12 and Joseph 6. He assigned 16/- separation allwoance to his stepmother Ellen Rust.
The final entry dated 14 April 1918 reports him killed in action on 24 March 1918. During this day, D Company were involved in a controlled retreat under heavy fire from about a mile north of Villeselve (6am) to Guiscard (8pm). After early morning fog cleared they came under heavy fire and were forced back through Villeselve to Guiscard, finally coming under attack from gas, during which they were scattered, regrouping with difficulty near Bussy. Rust must have lost his life at some point during these actions.