Day 50. PRIVATE STANLEY COOP 10/561.

somme 1916

Born in October 1894 in Clapham Common, Stanley was the youngest of four children to Isaac and Edith Coop. The family moved north living in Howden, East Yorkshire before Isaac abandoned them and Edith moved the children to 26 Chaucer Street in Hull. A Clerk by trade Stanley enlisted at City Hall in September 1914 joining the newly formed 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Wounded on 4th June 1916 Stanley was withdrawn to the General Hospital at Rouen where he was treated for gunshot wounds to his arm, left leg, lower back and left knee joint. The hospital sent a telegram to Army headquarters informing them:

“10/561 Condition Critical. Inform parents.”

Then a second telegram saying the dying Stanley:

“May be visited.”

The army did Edith proud, first obtaining a warrant for her to travel to France with Stanley’s elder brother and then when she realised the financial implications of her journey and informed them:

“I wish to go but am unable to bear the expense.”

They arranged for her to travel at their own expense. She duly left Southampton mid-June and saw her youngest son one last time before he died of his wounds on 2nd July 1916.

Stanley Coop is buried in St. Sever Cemetery; he was 21 years old.

Day 49. PRIVATE WILLIAM EDWIN ADAMSON 10/525.

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Born in 1895, William was the third of five children to Edward and Emily Adamson of 45 Leonard Street, Beverley Road, Hull. Known as ‘Teddy’ to his friends, he worked as a Tailor prior to the outbreak of war but signed up to fight for King and Country in the early days of September 1914 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Training throughout 1915 and serving in Egypt over Christmas and the turning year, William arrived in France in the first week of March 1916 disembarking in Marseilles before being herded into packed trains for the journey north to the trenches of the Western Front.

William died of wounds on 2nd July 1916 having sustained them the day before on the Somme.

Of all days, 1st July 1916 was not a day to be wounded. So many thousands were waiting for medical attention, strewn on stretchers in the open air outside makeshift hospital tents whilst doctors toiled in horrendous conditions with few supplies making the worst kind of decision on the basis of one simple tenet….who might live. Thousands died from lack of attention. This is the true face of war, a tailor from Hull bleeding to death namelessly in a foreign field.

William Edwin Adamson is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 21 years old.

Day 48. PRIVATE WILLIAM HENRY DALTON 10/341.

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Born in 1890, William was the eldest of four children to Arthur and Sarah Dalton of 165 Sharp Street, Hull. A Railway Labourer by trade he enlisted at Hull City Hall joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

William’s history is that of the battalion. He trained throughout 1915 and served in Egypt over Christmas and the new year before leaving Port Said bound for Marseilles on 29th February 1916 and from there the trip north to the trenches of the Western Front. He was killed in action on 1st July 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Pals were packed into positions opposite Serre. They weren’t bound for the suicidal stroll across no man’s land, instead they spent the morning packed into trenches in case they were required to consolidate gains which in the end never came. Vulnerable to artillery fire they suffered casualties despite the relative safety of their positions and such were the enormous number of casualties that day that William’s body simply went missing. His name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial; he was 26 years old.

Day 47. SERGEANT REGINALD PERCIVAL JONES 10/621.

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Born in 1889 in Lichfield, Staffordshire but living and working as a teacher in Hull at time of enlistment. He queued outside City Hall to volunteer for King and Country joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Reginald followed the familiar path of training throughout the following year and leaving Devonport for Alexandria, Egypt at the start of December 1915. First though he took leave and married Jane Miriam Knighton in Greengates on 22nd July. Their time together was to be shortlived.

On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 10th were meant to be in Reserve. On that day though ‘Reserve’ meant first stepping out into pre-dawn No Man’s Land where they were put to work cutting ‘lanes’ through their own barbed wire to allow the attacking troops a path through. After that they pulled back to let those going ‘Over The Top’ to move forward. D Company remained in the front line, both to hold it in the event of a counter attack, and to help gather any wounded. The men were packed into trenches waiting to be called upon if needed, and stood all day beneath a heavy counter bombardment.

Reginald was blown to pieces whilst stood in Palestine Street trench. His name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial as one of the 73,357 men who lost their lives in that sector whose body was never recovered; he was 27 years old.

Day 46. PRIVATE JAMES STANLEY WATSON 10/39.

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Born in 1890, James was the youngest of four children to Arthur and Edith Watson of Wood House, Cottingham. The 1911 Census finds him living with his siblings at 38 Victoria Avenue, Hull and working as a Bank Clerk. War changed all that forever.

James queued in the long uneven lines of 1st September 1914 to join the fledgling new unit- the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals. His first months as a soldier were spent in barracks at Hornsea, Beverley and Ripon but their orders finally came through a few weeks before the Christmas of 1915 and the Pals embarked from Devonport bound for Alexandria, Egypt.

After a few months of searing heat and biting cold as the stark contrast between day and night in the desert took its toll, they left Port Said for Marseilles on 29th February 1916 before taking the train north to the trenches of the Western Front.

James Stanley Watson was killed in action during counter bombardments in the weeklong build up to The Battle of the Somme. He died on 28th June 1916 and is buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 26 years old. On June 30th, 10% of the battalion was sent to a position opposite Colincamps while the rest were put to work supplying those that were to go ‘Over The Top’ the following morning. For all the history books tell you that the Generals expected 1st July 1916 to be a stroll to victory, this was done to preserve a core of men around which to build a new battalion in case of heavy casualties…..somebody, somewhere knew what was coming.

Day 44. PRIVATE JOSEPH CHENEY 10/1221.

Day 46

Born in 1894 in Norwich, Joseph was the son of Joseph and Minnie Cheney. The family moved from Norwich to London where Joseph served his time as an apprentice plate riveter in the yards along the Thames. By 1914 Joseph had moved north and was living at 80 Sherburn Street, Hull where he worked at Earle’s Shipyard. He was engaged to be married, but more pressing matters got in the way.

When Britain declared war on Germany thousands of young men flocked to enlist. Joseph was no different. He took the King’s Shilling on 22nd March 1915 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

After serving in Egypt over winter 1915-16, the battalion arrived in France early in March taking up positions first at Englebelmer and later opposite the ruins of Serre. It was here Joseph met his end, killed in action on the 28th June 1916 when he was struck by the base of a shell during a retaliatory bombardment. That week saw millions of shells pound the German lines as British guns fired round after round ahead of what the Pals knew as ‘The Big Push’ and what we now refer to as The Battle of the Somme.

Joseph never witnessed the hell of that infamous first day. He had already been buried in what became Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 22 years old.

His fiancee died on 17th June 1918.

Day 43. PRIVATE JOHN BRUNYEE 10/466.

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Born in December 1894, John was the sixth of eight children to Frederick and Ada Brunyee of 86 Jefferson Street, Goole. A  Shipping Clerk by trade, he travelled to Hull to enlist on 3rd September 1914 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

After serving in Egypt over the winter of 1915-16, the Pals left Port Said bound for Marseilles on 29th February then took the train north, bound for the trenches of the Western Front. John was killed by shell fire opposite the ruins of the French village of Serre on 28th June 1916, and is buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery. He was 21 years old.

Day 42. PRIVATE GEORGE WALTER BUCK 10/1297.

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Born in 1881, George was the third of four sons to Michael and Maria Buck. The couple had married in Weeton, Lancashire on 11th January 1877 and made a home at 18 Buchanon Street, Blackpool. Michael worked as a Master Corn Miller and had two men in his employ. Their eldest son, John, aged just 14, before Maria herself died in 1896 at the tender age of 39. Their third son, George, was 34 years old when he volunteered to fight for his King and Country.

He was resident in Hull when war broke out, living in a lodging house and making a living as a Draper. George enlisted at Hull City Hall joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals. After training throughout 1915 and a stint in Egypt over Christmas, the battalion left Port Said bound for Marseilles on February 29th 1916 then travelled north to Abbeville by train and from there to their grim new reality- the trenches of the Western Front.

George Walter Buck was holding the front line opposite what remained of the French village of Serre when he was blown to bits by a shrapnel shell on 27th June 1916. He is buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery.

Day 41. PRIVATE GEORGE BLENKIN 10/73.

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Born in 1897, George was the only child of Harry and Maria Blenkin of 47 Seaton Street, Hull.

George joined the army as a signaller. It was his job to relay information from the front line to the planners at the rear. He’d queued to enlist in the late summer sun of 1st September 1914 joining the fledgling 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals; back when the war was still a big adventure to young men raised on the derring-do of Boy’s Own stories and instilled from birth with the notion of the superiority of the British Empire.

George was ripped to shreds by shellfire on 26th June 1916 in the trenches opposite Serre, and is buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery. He was 20 years old.

Private Beeken recalled that, terrifying though these bombardments were, his comrades stood them pretty well and often in good humour:

“One man stood on the parapet reciting Shakespeare until we brought him down. We all had a good laugh over this”.

My money is on Henry V.

Day 40. PRIVATE ALFRED BARRETT NORTH 10/1285.

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Born in 1885, the eldest of six children to John William and Louisa North of Bradford. Alfred was resident at 51 Albany Street, Spring Bank, Hull at the time of enlistment.

A Draper by trade, he signed up to fight for King and Country at Hull City Hall on St. George’s Day 1915. Was it in a fit of patriotic pique that a 30 year-old man felt impelled to ditch all he knew for the trenches?

Alfred listed as missing on 26th June 1916 when he disappeared from the front line following a bombardment of the trenches facing Serre. On 12th December 1923 his mother contacted the army seeking news of the burial place of her eldest son. The response was one which I’m sure they must have typed many, many times:

“I regret that the only information I can give you on this painful subject is that he was regarded for official purposes as having died on or since 26th June 1916.”

Most likely Alfred was either blown to unrecognisable pieces or buried under tons of earth. His name in commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the largest of its kind, inscribed with the names of 73,357 men who lost their lives on the Somme battlefields and whose bodies were never recovered.