Alfred Misplaced

Alfred SAWDEN was not a blood relative of James KNAGGS or Sophia MARSHALL (Tuesday’s post) but he was born into their extended family. The year before he arrived on the planet, his uncle William married James’ elder sister Jane. This connection isn’t yet apparent on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Alfred was christened in Sherburn, Yorkshire, on 5 April 1851. A source is attached to his FamilySearch page.

No such event took place that day in Sherburn in Elmet, but don’t take my word for it. If you are able to access the Yorkshire Baptisms database at Find My Past a search will give you this –

Fifty miles away, in the other Yorkshire Sherburn, the vicar of St Hilda’s baptized Alfred.

The East Riding Sherburn is also known as Sherburn in Hartford Lythe, though it seems the longer name was not attached to church records until the 1880s.

The 1851 Census had been taken a week before the christening. Out of curiosity, I checked out the vicar’s household.

A wife, a son, nine lodgers and three servants. Interesting enough already, but one of the servants is Fanny Knaggs – the younger sister of James and Jane.

Fanny, 18, had eleven years to live. She married William BARKER in 1856, gave birth to daughters Emily and Mary Jane, and died on 29 May 1862. She was laid to rest in St Oswald’s churchyard next to her sister in law, Sophia Knaggs.

Alfred is buried a hundred metres away. He married a woman of Deeping St James – I will write about her in a day or two.

Beach 121 · Muston Sands

The Four Wives of James Knaggs

At the end of March 1851, James was at the Pigeon Pie Inn, Sherburn, with older sister Jane and her husband, William SAWDEN. He was 25-years-old, working as a joiner and single. It would be three years before he found a wife. For reasons unknown, he crossed the Humber to Lincolnshire, wooed Sophia MARSHALL and married her in Winteringham on 15 August 1854. In early summer the following year she gave birth to William, their only child, in Filey. When the boy was five months old she died. The family is minimally represented on the FamilySearch Tree.

Sophia’s headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard has fine letter forms that have withstood 164 years of weather quite well.

A year later, James married Ann REYNOLDS in North Frodingham. There is a Scarborough birth registration in the September Quarter of 1859 that could mark the entry of daughter Anne into the world but the child then disappears from view. Mother Ann vanishes too. I cannot find a record of her death but on census night 1861 James is with his third wife, Isabella née BROWN, at 10 Pembroke Cottages, Islington.

James has given up his trade and become a Lay Missionary. His firstborn, William, is living in Winteringham with grandfather William Marshall and “step grandmother” Catherine. (Sophia’s father has married for the third time.)

In 1871 James is the Minister at Stratford Congregational Church and a widower, but young William, 15, is with him and the three children born to Isabella. Ten years later James is a widower still and now an “Independent Minister”. William is working as a grocer’s clerk and the other boy, Cornelius, has a similar position in a chemist’s shop. James’ daughter Isabella Margaret, 18, is listed as “housekeeper” and there are two other servants. Fourth child, Caroline Mary, now 14, is a boarder at Milton Mount College, Gravesend.

By 1891, James is back with the Congregationalists – and has found a fourth wife, Eliza, fourteen years his junior. If this is Eliza Mary WOOLFE, they are in the eighth year of their marriage. Margaret seems to have dropped both her first name (Isabella) and skivvying for her father. At 28 years of age she is now a “Professor of Music”.

In 1901 James is 75 and retired but his house in Hampstead rings with the voices of two native South Africans – Marjorie Knaggs, 9, and her sister Isabel, 7. I must seek out their parents.

James Knaggs is the first fellow I have happened upon who married four times. I haven’t found appropriate statistics for Victorian Britain but in 21st century America 3% of men and women have married three or more times.

I will flesh out James and Sophia’s thin pedigree on the Shared Tree when I can. Quite a few of the people mentioned above have IDs already but they are scattered all over the place. Dots to be connected – and a lot of merges to be done.

Found Object 46 · Filey Sands

A Minnie Problem

John Hendry NORTH, born 1820 in Hull, first married Sarah Doughty SPINK. After bearing seven children between 1842 and 1858 she died in London, but is remembered on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

John Hendry was 47 years-old when he married Frances Ann Elizabeth SHAILER, 24, in the summer of 1867.  Their first child, Arthur Guildford North, was late to the scene – in 1872 – and he didn’t marry Minnie SMITH until he was forty-three.

Even though she was a Smith, I thought Minnie would be easy to find. Initially, I had the information that she was born in 1879 in East Yorkshire. I added 1878 to the search term and Free BMD offered the following girls.

I had a moan about all these Minnies but it didn’t take too long to find a parish marriage entry that gave her father’s name – William Henry.

My family history detective work is sometimes haphazard and the first two-year-old Minnie I found in the 1881 census was a  boarder in the Sculcoates household of Harriet SHAKESBY, a married charwoman with an absent husband. I had a picture of her in the original Looking at Filey folder.

A page from Albert’s Autobiography, courtesy an anonymous donor

Minnie’s mother Ann Smith, though also described as a boarder (and married with an absent husband), was the eldest of ten children born to Harriet HARTLEY and James Shakesby. The couple’s youngest child, Albert (sometimes Albert Edward) was seven  in 1881 and probably saw Minnie as a little sister. When he was a few years older he lived as a “street arab”, becoming ayoung man of dubious character until he morphed into an evangelist. In later life he was occasionally a local hero in Filey. He died just a few doors from where I am writing this.

It was with a heavy heart that I discovered that this Minnie’s father wasn’t called William Henry. In 1881 that gentleman was living across the River Hull in the Old Town, about a quarter of a mile from the Shakesbys, with his wife Mary née BEEDHAM, three sons and the no longer problematic Minnie.

You can find the three families on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Sarah Doughty North née SPINK

Minnie North née SMITH

Albert SHAKESBY (and Minnie Rogers née SMITH)

Tree 50 · Martin’s Ravine

The Bankrupt Brothers

Elizabeth Christiana VICKERMAN married Bridlington sailmaker Thomas SCRIVENER in 1809 and in the next fifteen years gave birth to at least six children. I do not know when she died but Thomas married again in January 1831 when he was 44 and Anna CALAUM 35. Henry Thomas was born at the end of November 1831 and Charles Waters in April 1834.

On Monday I mentioned the unusual bond the brothers had. I said that when William Charles Scrivener was born “maternal grandmother Elizabeth Sweet was also his aunt”. This is a true statement but it does not tell the whole story. William’s birth was registered in the June Quarter of 1867, eleven years after the widow SWEET married his uncle Henry Thomas. His father, Charles, married Elizabeth’s firstborn daughter in St Oswald’s, Filey on the 15th of May that year, when she was either near term or already a mother. Impossible to say when Elizabeth attained her grandmother to William status. She died before the year was out.

Why would a 24 year-old fellow marry a widow twenty years his senior and a mother of seven children, five still living? For love or money?

Some sources claim that Elizabeth’s first husband, William Sweet, was a solicitor but I think he was only a solicitor’s clerk. She may not have been a rich widow. In 1851, aged 20, Henry was working as a draper, but enumerated at an establishment in St Pancras that housed 55 boys and men between the ages of 13 and 47 (median age 25) – an assortment of carpet salesmen, cashiers, clerks – and drapers. I do not know what accidents or designs took him from the capital to the far north of England but in 1861, five years after marrying, he was head of a household in the parish of St Andrew, Newcastle upon Tyne, a “Mustard Manufacturer employing 2 Men”. (Elizabeth’s father in law, Samuel Sweet, had been a Mustard manufacturer.) Three of Elizabeth’s children were at home, including Jane Elizabeth, Henry’s his sister-in-law to be but described by the enumerator as his “daughter-in-law”.

The following year Henry declared himself bankrupt and, for reasons I cannot fathom, was still a bankrupt six years later.

Younger brother Charles Waters Scrivener set out on a more elevated career path. Aged 17 in 1851, he was a Student of Medicine in Hull. I have not been able to find him in the 1861 census but in 1871 he was living in Clarence Terrace, Filey (now West Avenue), an “MD Doctor”. With him were Jane, their second son Thomas, Jane’s sister Mary Elizabeth Sweet and a servant, Elizabeth FOSTER, 19. As mentioned on Monday, first son William Charles was with his grandfather on census night and it would appear that Mary was in Filey to help Jane in a time of trial. Four weeks after the census Mrs Scrivener was dead. She had given birth to three children in three years and had suffered the ignominy (maybe) of her husband’s bankruptcy.

Eighteen months after his wife’s death, Charles married again. His bride was Mary Ann WOODALL. Alas, it does not appear that her father was William Edward, Registrar of the Court.

By 1881, Charles seems to have re-established himself as one of Filey’s doctors. (In 1873 he was also Acting Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd East Riding of Yorkshire Artillery Volunteer Force.) The family of three had moved to 3 Rutland Street and with them was “June CALAM”, a single woman aged 62 described as Charles’ “sister-in-law”. I think this was Jane Ann CALAUM, daughter of Michael and Anna née BRAMBLES. Sources indicate that Charles’ mother, Anna CALAUM, was born eighteen years before Michael and Anna married. As I do not have Michael’s birth record yet, it is possible Jane and Anna were half-sisters.

Henry was a widower for just over five years. He married Jane WINN in Hartlepool in 1873 but I have not found a parish record that might have given his occupation. He had recovered remarkably from bankruptcy because in 1871 he claimed to be – a surgeon. He also told the enumerator he was 35 and had been born in Scarborough. On census night he was visiting widow Dora MORISON, 47, and her four children in Castle Eden, County Durham. Eldest son James, 17, was a Medical Student at Edinburgh University.

Henry died a Gentleman in 1879.

I have not been able to discover what he was doing at the Globe Hotel.

Brother Charles followed him to eternity about three years later and is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, but nowhere near his first wife.

Dog 29 · Gizmo

The little fella migrated inland some time back. I hope he is keeping well.

Another Distant Horizon

There is a curious mismatch between the birth registration of Louisa Florence LING and the date of her parents’ marriage. The birth was registered in the June Quarter of 1878, with the Mother’s Maiden Surname given as MINORS. The marriage of Robert Ling and Emma Minors was not recorded by the authorities until the last quarter of 1880.

The 1881 census enumerator in Clerkenwell was derelict in his duty. Mrs Ling and her daughters suffered the same fate as most of their neighbours in being given first name initials. Louisa Florence is “F”. Later records would indicate that her birth names had been reversed. She would marry and be forever remembered as Florence Louisa.

The name change has flummoxed at least one online tree grower. In that parallel pedigree, George Simmons CAMMISH is married to a Yorkshire lass, Louisa Florence Ling from Lockwood. As already indicated, “F” first saw light in the Great Wen. I have no idea why she left the capital city but at the beginning of the new century she is in Filey. A journey of 200 miles brought her to the romantic attentions of a Filey grocer. She married George in St Oswald’s Church on 15 October 1902. The register shows her father to be deceased and, in life, a cigar maker. This was his occupation in 1871, when he was 19, but ten years later he is a draper. He died aged 38, when Florence was just twelve.

Florence and George did not have children of their own. The 1911 Census shows that they had adopted Beatrice Annie DREWSE, born in York three years before they had married. Beatrice is Mrs HUTCHIN when her adoptive father dies.

Harrison Cammish is George’s nephew, son of eldest sister Susannah, but he is not yet represented on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. (There is a Harrison Cammish with an ID, LV7T-NF1, but nothing else.) Find George and Florence here.

Path 114 · Old Tip

Bramleys

Mary Jane CRAWFORD was born to Wesleyan Minister John BRAMLEY and Margaret HART in the spring of 1864. That she would marry a fellow with the middle name “Bramley” is intriguing. Her father John was born in Bubwith, near Howden. After much wandering on the Wesleyan circuit he had returned to his heartland. The births of his last two children, Mary Jane and Fanny, were registered in Howden.

The marriage of Robert Bramley Crawford’s parents was registered in Howden in the same quarter as Mary Jane’s birth. The bride, Elizabeth BRAMLEY, had been born 22 years earlier – in Bubwith. And yet the two families Bramley joined by matrimony were, Roots Magic tells me, not connected by blood.

The chances of Mary Jane Bramley and Robert Bramley Crawford being totally devoid of common ancestors seems impossible to me. I will search for the “missing link”.

John Bramley was a Minister for almost forty years but seems to have been a shy and retiring type. I searched for long enough online and found him officiating at just one marriage. He has seven children with Margaret on the FamilySearch Shared Tree but I have found registrations for two more. Firstborn Emily died aged five in Oldbury in 1858 and there is a James the First whose death record has yet to be found. I can suggest that John was distinguished in a small way. The registration places of his children helpfully track his progress round the country in service of the Lord.

Emily, Westbury on Severn, Gloucestershire

Charlotte Elizabeth, Sevenoaks, Kent

James Hart and John, Carlisle, Cumberland

Margaret, Oldbury, Worcestershire,

Hannah Louisa and James (the Second), Kidsgrove, Staffordshire

Mary Jane and Fanny, Howden, Yorkshire

I have the marriage of John junior to add to the Shared Tree ­­but in 1911, after 27 years together, the couple had not brought any children into the world. John settled for teaching the children of others. At the 1901 census they had eight boarders in Stonehouse, Stroud – including maybe a relative in the oddly named Myles Goyen HART. The boy’s birth registration has the same spelling as the census transcription. He appears to have been illegitimate, as the mother’s maiden surname is not given in the GRO Index.

Tree 48 · Charles Laughton’s Sycamore

See Evron Centresecond photo and info beneath third photo.

Troubled Minds

The Scarborough Mercury 6 July 1888 –

Sad Suicide at Filey

Yesterday (Thursday) morning, a farm labourer named Milner committed suicide by hanging himself. From particulars to hand it seems the deceased resided with his mother in East Parade. The family are natives of Reighton but about twelve months ago removed to Filey. Since that time Milner has been in work, latterly to Mr. Robert Smith, farmer, Church Farm. Deceased was the youngest son of the late Mr. Thomas (sic) Milner, who died suddenly some time ago from heart disease, and ever since this sad event deceased has been depressed and low spirited and would meditate for hours about his father. At times he became so despondent that he betrayed signs of slight mental derangement and required medical care and attention to rouse him to a sense of his position. Latterly he has behaved in a very eccentric manner, which necessitated frequent visits from Dr Tom Haworth, who in conjunction with his father Dr [James] Haworth has treated deceased for hypochondria. Though a tall fine man this despondency had such an effect upon him that he hardly ever, when walking, looked up, his eyes being fixed in the ground. He left home early in the morning to go to his work as usual and took his dinner with him, intending to return home in the afternoon. He however went home between eight and nine and complained to his mother of feeling unwell, and when asked what was the matter with him he said he thought the weather had a great deal to do with it. His mother then sat down to breakfast, after which she left the house, telling her son, whom she never saw again alive, that she would not be far away, as she was merely going to make a few purchases in the town. She soon returned, and on entering the house her first thoughts were for her poor son, and not seeing him where she expected to find him she asked of the children where John had gone. She received an answer to the effect that he had gone upstairs, and her anxiety prompted her to go up at once to ascertain whether he had gone to bed or not. Not finding him in the first room, she went to the upper story of the house, and when near the top, her eye rested in the ghastly sight of her beloved son hanging by the neck from the top bannister rail. She was almost overpowered by the sight, but a recollection of her first duty enabled her to overcome her emotions and she quickly sought assistance. A neighbour at once came, and quickly cut the body down, but examination showed the poor fellow to be dead. While this was proceeding, a messenger was dispatched to Dr Haworth, who lost no time in arriving, but on seeing the body the doctor pronounced life to be extinct. The noose and everything had been most carefully prepared, the rope even having been measured, inasmuch as the feet of the deceased were but a few inches from the floor when he was suspended. It appeared from the marks on the neck that death had not ensued very quickly but had resulted from sheer strangulation. From the appearance of the deceased and the arrangements, apparently he had lowered himself down from the bannister after securing the rope at the top. The rope was a portion of the family clothes-line, and of a strong quality.

Deceased was well known in the town and district as a steady and industrious young fellow and his unfortunate and untimely death has caused much regret among the townspeople, by whom he was greatly respected. He was in his 22nd year. An inquest was held this afternoon before the district coroner.

Although the newspaper report suggests that grief over the death of his father was the only cause of his mental imbalance, John had suffered a more recent loss. His unmarried sister, Mary Jane, had borne a son in the summer of 1887 but the wee chap died in the first three months of the following year. Frank had been baptized at St Oswald’s on 13th July 1887 and had the child lived I think John would have been celebrating his nephew’s birthday rather than hanging himself.

John was the second of five sons born to Edmond Milner and Sarah Ann née WATTS and you can find him on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Matthew Milner was seventeen years old when older brother John killed himself. A decade later, he had a near death experience. The Yorkshire Evening Press carried the story on 29 November 1898.

A FILEY FARM FOREMAN IN TROUBLE

Edwin Johnson (21), labourer, was indicted for shooting at Matthew Milner, with a revolver, with intent to murder, at Filey, on September 13. He was detained on a charge of attempted suicide, on the same day. To the first charge he pleaded “not guilty,” and to the second (suicide) “guilty.” – Mr. Kemp appeared for the prosecution, and the prisoner was defended by Mr. C. Mellor. – In his opening statement Mr. Kemp said that there was a second count on the indictment, charging the prisoner with intent to do grievous bodily harm. The prisoner was engaged on a farm at Filey occupied by Mr. T. Smith, but on September 12 he refused to do certain work and left the farm. He bought a revolver for 6s. 6d., and some cartridges at Scarborough, and returned to the farm the next day. He entered the stackyard shouting religious texts. He was seen to be carrying a revolver but said to Wharton Smith that he did not intend to harm him, and that he wanted to see the master. Mr. Smith, however, went for a police officer after the prisoner had fired a shot in the air, and when the prisoner heard that the master had gone for the police, he asked who was “stacking.” He then saw Milner, who was “stacking,” and who had taken the place occupied by the prisoner, and said, “He is a devil to take a man’s job from him.” He then fired at Milner, and the bullet whizzed past. When a police officer arrived, the prisoner put the revolver to his own head and fired, with the result that he lost an eye, and for some time was in considerable danger. – Evidence supporting Mr. Kemp’s statement was given. – Matthew Milner said he had no quarrel with the prisoner. He saw the prisoner point and fire but had no idea whether a bullet was discharged or not.

Mr Mellor, for the defence, contended that the prisoner did not know the dangerous character of the weapon he was carrying. He only wished to frighten the people in the yard. His conduct was of one half-mad or half-drunk, and he was the only one to suffer by it, and he had suffered terribly.

The learned judge advised the jury to dismiss from their minds that the prisoner had intent to murder.

The prisoner was found guilty, and sentence was deferred.

Two days later –

Edwin has a place on the FamilySearch Shared Tree and there his life is thought to have ended around 1900. I have searched through all sources readily available to me and the only death registration that fits at all closely indicates that Edwin did not go blind but continued to do heavy work as a farm labourer. At the beginning of the Second World War the Register places him at Charleston Farm near Grindale. A single man in his sixties, and unlikely to have married subsequently, a death at the age of 91 that could be his was registered in Scarborough in the September Quarter of 1968.

John and Matthew Milner had three sisters. (There are four on the Shared Tree but I think Emily is a cuckoo.) Sarah Ann, the middle girl, remained single and census enumerators in 1901 and 1911 found her living with her mother in Filey. She died in the East Riding Lunatic Asylum in 1919, aged 43. You can find photographs of the institution online by searching for Broadgate Hospital. It was a huge place. Over 900 inmates were buried in pauper graves there but have not been forgotten. Sarah Ann’s mother may not have been able to care for her daughter but she arranged for her body to be brought home to be with her father, brother John and nephew Frank. Sarah Ann senior would join them three years later.

Sky 21 · Royal Parade, Morning

The Donkin Sisters

Ten days ago, in Every Two Years,I wrote –

There is much still to do. Matthew [HALLAM] must be given his first two wives and Jane junior’s bereft husband (not yet named above) finds a second wife close to home.

Visit Matthew and click Mary Cooper’s caret and his first two wives are revealed. You will see in the screenshot above that the husband of Jane and Florence Mary appears twice.

I surmised last week that Jane may have died in childbirth and later discovered that her death was registered in the same quarter as John Robert Carter, her first and only child. The boy’s father, James Robert, waited almost six years before marrying Jane’s younger sister, Florence Mary.

The enumerator in 1901 found James working as a Foreman on a Carnaby farm. He was 29 years-old, single, and married Jane towards the end of 1904. She was 17, making the age gap between them fifteen years. When widower James married Florence, he was 19 years her senior.

History repeated itself, sadly, when James’ first child with Florence died within a few months. The couple had set up home in Octon, and with them on census night was George Allen Donkin, Florence’s youngest brother (described as “a relative”).

Just before the Second World War began, the 1939 Register located James and Florence at Castle House in Hunmanby.

Castle House Farm, Hunmanby

Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 © Martin Dawes – geograph.org.uk/p/4812217

This is the house in which John William Donkin, elder brother of Jane and Florence, was born two days before Christmas, 1880. Fifty-nine years later, Jane Donkin nee Hallam was head of the household – at the age of 83.

Jane Elizabeth Carter was also at Castle House in 1939. The third daughter of James and Florence, she would marry James SEAMAN two years later. I have not been able to determine if James was born in Selby in 1916 or Pocklington in 1923. A husband nine years younger has a certain appeal – but he had the middle name William and the civil marriage record settles for plain James.

It is John William, born in Castle House, who is buried in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey.

The parish register gives 10 Mariner’s Terrace as the last address of John and Ada.

10 Mariner’s Terrace photographed this afternoon

Water 32 · Martin’s Ravine

Making Mistakes

It is all too easy to get things wrong in family history. Who was it who said that 90% of the pedigrees on FamilySearch are garbage? Everybody makes mistakes – and many fail to spot errors made by others.

About a year ago, I wrote this –

Henry…farmed at Newbiggin. He married Annie Elizabeth GRUBB at St Oswald’s in March 1899 and about fourteen months later their first child, Mary, was born at the farm. A year later the trio was living in Filey, at Number 1, The Crescent, where an uncle James WADDINGHAM was head of the household.

It has recently been pointed out to me that there was no such person as “Uncle James”. (See comments on Little Children.)

Here is the transcription that threw me.

Why did I accept James and not notice Widow and Female? For dereliction of duty I’m guilty as charged.

This is what the transcriber saw in the page image –

In 1861 George Waddingham was living with Jane in Sluice Lane, South Ferriby, Lincolnshire. The enumerator wrote their birthplaces in his book thus –

The transcriber saw this as –

By 1891 George and Jane had settled in The Crescent, Filey. Annie Grubb was with them. She was the daughter of Jane’s sister Mary who had died in 1867 and so not related to her uncle by blood.  

Glance back to the last scrap of page image, with the information ignored by the transcriber. What do you make of Jane’s birthplace? The transcriber of the 1891 census rightly saw “Beswick”…

… but I reckon the enumerator misheard. The Wheatley lands near Bainton, Driffield were here –

Find George, Jane, Mary and Annie on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

Remembering Dixon Overfield

A few days ago I found a photograph, an escapee from the family shoe box. My paternal grandfather did not fight in the First World War. My mother’s father did go to war and I have a studio portrait of him in uniform, seated, with my Grandma LOCKETT standing by his side.

Not one of these twenty faces looks at all like William Lockett. The cap badges indicate that these boys who came to the cookhouse door were in the Royal Field Artillery. The print is on standard postcard stock but it does not bear a stamp, a message, or an address in Blighty. I have no idea when or where the picture was taken or how many of these ravaged fellows were dead men walking?

Dixon OVERFIELD was thirty-three years old when, at Filey (or maybe Beverley), he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery. A few years earlier the Reverend STANWELL’s camera had caught him in a group outside a church or chapel.

Dixon was a Trustee of Muston Chapel, a local preacher, and a Sunday School superintendent. He is second from the left.

The exact date of Dixon’s transfer from the R.F.A. isn’t known but in June 1917 he is in Belgium with the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, preparing to fight the Third Battle of Ypres. This terrible encounter is also known as the Battle of Passchendaele.

On the 9th October, the 6th Yorkshires approached Poelcappelle, a village about five kilometres from Passchendaele. Dixon’s great grandson, Simon Wheeler, in an unpublished memoir, writes –

At 5.20 am Dixon and his fellow soldiers would have left the trenches and moved forward towards their objective of Poelcappelle village, where little opposition was met until the fork in the roads opposite the brewery…

Once the battalion reached the area opposite the brewery they not only met stiff opposition and heavy machine gun fire from the area of Meunier and String houses (no more than rubble at this stage of the war) but also captured 150-200 prisoners and several of the concrete block houses north west of the brewery itself. But owing to the heavy machine gun fire these could not be held.

With the heavy opposition met from the Germans the Battalion had no choice but to dig in at 8am, whilst attempting to dig the Battalion suffered many casualties from machine gun fire and heavy rifle fire at close range from both flanks. Sadly, due to heavy German bombardment, the light trench mortars that were attached to the Battalion were knocked out by this time and the supporting tanks were unable to come into action and take the brewery as originally planned due to the appalling condition of the ground due to the weather conditions.

At 11.05 am “W” company of 8th Duke of Wellington Regiment was moved forward to the left of the village to support the Battalion. Also at this time bombs (grenades) were sent forward by the 34th Brigade (most probably in the hope of breaking the stalemate in the centre of the village). By 11.30am aeroplanes had spotted the Germans moving troops forward by bus for a counter attack which was believed to be planned for evening time between 4 and 5pm, thankfully this attack never materialised.

There is no further mention of heavy shelling during the rest of the day, so it is most probable that Dixon was killed by the early shelling during the initial attack.

From the perspective of the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment there is this account –

“Zero” hour on 9th October was 5.20 a.m. when the British Artillery barrage came down promptly on the enemy’s front line and his emplacements. But the ground was sodden, inches deep in mud and in an altogether appalling condition, so that many “H.E.” shells did not burst. The heavy rain of the previous day and night had turned No Mans Land into a veritable quagmire, and the Battalion Diary records that “the ground was churned up so as to be one endless mass of shell-holes; mud and water was everywhere, and almost impassable.”

The barrage was moving at a rate of 100 yards in four minutes as the West Yorkshiremen advanced, floundering through mud and filth, skirting the shell-holes where possible, though mostly having to “take” whatever came in the way in order to keep formation. Seven minutes after the British barrage opened, the German barrage fell, but generally it was not heavy. The British guns, however, literally plastered the enemy’s trenches and emplacements with shell of all calibre, and the ordeal through which the Germans were passing must have been terrible; indeed, the records speak of it as” terrific”. Yet, through all that hell of bursting shell and storm of shrapnel the hostile “pill boxes” (or emplacements) stood practically unharmed and, as the British troops went forward, murderous machine-gun fire met their advance, for the machine-guns, safely ensconced in these “pill boxes” could not be silenced. Hostile cross-fire and traversing machine-gun fire swept the whole of the Divisional front, and the ranks of the attacking troops thinned very quickly. The enemy had made good use of the ruins of Poelcappelle, concealing in them his riflemen and machine-gunners, who were able to fire in enfilade.”

Battalion War Diary:-

“On our left flank the attack was held up at the Brewery and after heavy casualties the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment found themselves with both flanks “in the air”. Very few officers were left in either the Yorkshire Regiment or our own battalion, and the lack of command began to have effect. On the left, the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment was completely hung up and the remnants of the battalion fell back in the hope of reorganising. When our men saw this, news quickly spread that the 6th Yorkshires were retiring, and as the enemy had by this time parties almost in line with us on this front, some took up a position further back so as to preserve the general line and remain in touch with our flanks. Meanwhile, the attack progressed with less resistance on the right and further headway would doubtless have been possible but for the stoppage in the centre and on the left. The only course open in view of heavy casualties, the serious resistance, and the prospect of a counter-attack in a few hours was to consolidate as far as possible and prepare to hold the line approximately to our assembly line. Every effort was made with this object in view, and to guard against any serious attempt to dislodge us from the position the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was brought into position between Pheasant Farm and Retour Cross-roads”.

But for the moment the battalion was safe from counter-attack, for from statements made by prisoners taken it was evident that the enemies losses had been very heavy, for a new division had taken over his front line on the previous night and the stoutness of his resistance had resulted in a heavy role of casualties.

After the attack had come to a standstill and the assaulting battalions had consolidated their positions, numerous parties went out from both sides in order to collect the wounded and dead. For the time being both British and Germans refrained from firing on one another during this mournful task, and in one place the opposing troops were but 30 yards apart. As long as daylight lasted the work continued and when darkness fell the role was called. Heavy, indeed, had been the losses of the 9th West Yorkshires, 12 officers and 203 other ranks being killed, wounded and missing.

Great War Forum

The body of Private Dixon Overfield 41782 was not found. He is remembered at Tyne Cot Cemetery and on memorials in Filey and Muston. You can find him with his family on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. There are two memorial photographs of Dixon at Find a Grave.

Sea 32 · Galatea

Maintaining Bell Buoy