Day 23. PRIVATE CHARLES SAMSON JOYS 10/819.

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Born in January 1897, Charles was the fourth of nine children to James and Clara Joys of 12 Wellstead Street, Hessle Road, Hull. A Clerk by trade he enlisted at City Hall on Monday 7th September 1914 claiming he was 19. It was the little lie, he was only 17 and not old enough to enlist. He queued with his elder brother Stanley, and both joined the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Following training the battalion served in Egypt over Christmas 1915 and were posted to France the following March. Charles was killed in action during the small hours of 4th June 1916 during a ferocious 70 minute bombardment of their positions which all but flattened their trench. He is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; a young man of 19.

Stanley survived the war and lived to the ripe old age of 81. I wonder if he could ever think of his brother, or if the memory brought with it too much of the pain of his own experiences and was buried deep in that part of our mind that protects us from ourselves?

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Day 22. PRIVATE WILLIAM VINCENT MILLER 10/557.

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Born in 1892, William was the third of five children to Charles and Elizabeth Miller of Asylum Cottages, Willerby. His father worked as an assistant in De La Pole Lunatic Asylum, a job which in those days must have been truly horrifying. William first found work as a Warehouseman, but was earning a living as a Draper’s Assistant when war changed everything. He enlisted at Hull City Hall joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st  Hull Pals.

His war was the Pal’s war from there on, training in Hornsea, Beverley and Ripon throughout 1915 before shipping to Egypt to defend Suez from the Turks just before Christmas; then France from March 1916 and the trenches of the Western Front.

William was killed in action on 4th June 1916 during the bombardment which claimed the lives of so many of his comrades. He is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 24 years old.

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Day 21. PRIVATE HAROLD HERBERT PAWSON 10/1413.

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Born in January 1896 in Catfoss, East Yorkshire Harold was one of three children and the only son of William and Annie Pawson of Dringhoe Cottage, Skipsea. A Farm Labourer by trade he travelled to Hull to enlist, signing up to fight for King and Country on 23rd June 1915 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

After that Harold’s story is that of the battalion itself: training through the rest of the year, the arduous voyage from Devonport to Alexandria, Egypt before Christmas, winter protecting Suez from the Turks and then orders to leave Port Said bound for Marseilles in the spring. From there it was north to the trenches of the Western Front.

Harold was killed in action on 4th June 1916, and according to Michael Sewell’s excellent local history, ‘A Dear One Gone Forever‘, he was:

Killed by shell splinters.”

Perhaps a polite way of saying his life was ripped from him by flying shards of red hot metal.

Harold Herbert Pawson is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 20 years old.

Day 20. PRIVATE JOHN RICHARD FARNILL 10/813.

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Born in January 1894, John was the fifth of nine children to William and Mary Farnill of 82 Glasgow Street, Hull. A Checker on the Fish Docks by trade, he enlisted at Hull City Hall on 7th October 1914 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

John trained in Hornsea, Beverley and Ripon throughout 1915 and served in Egypt over Christmas before leaving Alexandria for Marseilles in late February. He contracted influenza and was hospitalised for the first week of May 1916 before returning to the line on the 9th. He was five feet seven and a half inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes, and had less than a month to live.

John was killed in action on 4th June 1916 during the 70 minute bombardment which claimed the lives of so many of his fellow volunteers, men who just a few weeks earlier had been crowned the ‘Lucky 10th’ for their ability to survive sustained shellfire unscathed. No-one called them that now.

John Richard Farnill is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 22 years old.

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Day 19. L/CPL LEWIS EDWARD PEEK 10/1155.

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Born 6th September 1892, Lewis was the youngest of two children to Edward and Georgiana Peek of 88 Summergangs Road, Hull. An Insurance Clerk by trade, Edward had lost his father over the summer of 1914, so how his mother must have felt when her youngest son enlisted in the fight for King and Country I can only imagine, but enlist he did, at Hull City Hall on 6th February 1915 when he joined the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Lewis trained at barracks in Hornsea, Beverley and Ripon for the next 10 months before shipping for Egypt on 8th December 1915. The Pals served there until the shipped for France, landing at Marseilles on 8th March 1916 and heading north to the trenches of the Western Front.

Like so many of his comrades, Lewis was killed in action in the small hours of 4th June 1916 during the 70 minute retaliatory bombardment which flattened the front line trenches facing the French village of Serre. He is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 23 years old.

Day 18. PRIVATE GEORGE KILBY DEIGHTON 10/1247.

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Born in 1896, George was the eldest of three children to Thomas and Edith Deighton of 44 Ryde Street, Beverley Road, Hull. A Clerk by trade he enlisted at Hull City Hall in April 1915 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘ The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Training at barracks in Hornsea, Beverley and Ripon throughout 1915, George sailed from Devonport on December 8th bound for Alexandria, Egypt. The Pals were garrisoned there from just before Christmas to late February when they left Post Said for Marseilles and the trek north to the trenches of the Western Front.

George was killed in action during the bombardment of 4th June 1916 and is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 19 years old. The little lie about his age had got him in uniform before his time.

The Recruiting Office in Hull was originally at 22 Pryme Street, in Hull but owing to the sheer number of volunteers it was moved to the newly built City Hall on 6th September 1914. A Recruiting Car would trawl the city and men followed it in their thousands to the queues in City Square where bands played from the balcony as men signed their lives to the King. George joined on 9th April 1915. He died in the small hours of an early summer Sunday just 14 months later. Hard not to think of the Pied Piper.

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Day 17. PRIVATE PERCY BROWN 10/734.

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Born in 1891, Percy was the eighth of nine children to Robert and Elizabeth Brown of 39 High Street, Bridlington. A Clerk before the war he enlisted at Hull City Hall on 5th September 1914 joining the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Following training throughout the following 12 months, the Pals served in Egypt between December 1915 and February 1916 when they left Port Said for Marseilles and the journey north to the trenches of the Western Front.

Percy was killed in action during the sustained and deadly accuracy of an enemy bombardment in the small hours of 4th June 1916 and is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 25 years old.

The Regimental War Diary makes just one short entry for that day:

“Casualties. Lieut Palmer + 2/Lieut Spink killed. Lieut Rice + 2/Lieut Norfolk wounded. 20 OR killed. 47 OR wounded.”

Percy was one of the ‘OR’s (‘other ranks’) not worthy of even a name.

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Day 16. PRIVATE WILLIAM BERNARD ASCOUGH 10/277.

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Born in January 1891, William was the son of Robert and Caroline Ascough of 3 Malvern Avenue, Ella Street, Hull. Known as ‘Bert’ to his friends, he was a Shipping Clerk before the war but queued outside City Hall to answer the call of King and Country on 1st September 1914 joining the newly-formed 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Leaving Devonport for Alexandria, Egypt on 8th December 1915 the Pals were charged with protecting the Suez Canal from potential attack by the Turks until the following February when they left Port Said for Marseilles and the journey north to the trenches of the Western Front.

Bert was killed in action during the 70 minute bombardment in the small hours of 4th June 1916 and is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 25 years old.

The bombardment was in retaliation for a raid on the German trenches which went on record as “a resounding success”.

Private Pearson wrote on living through nights like that:

“…..the band playing in East Park on a Monday evening back home, seemed a far, far cry indeed”.

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Day 15. PRIVATE HARRY STORR 10/890.

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Born in September 1897, Harry was the youngest of twelve children to Samuel and Charlotte Storr of 72 Weatherill Street, Goole. An Office Boy at the time of the 1911 Census, Harry was underage when he enlisted at Hull City Hall during the first week of September 1914. At best he was 17, at worst still only 16. Perhaps he thought it was safer to enlist in a town where no-one knew him. Either way his lie was believed and Harry joined the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

The familiar story of the Originals is repeated here. Harry left Devonport for Alexandria, Egypt on 8th December 1915 and served there until late February 1916 when the Pals left Port Said for Marseilles and then north to the trenches of the Western Front.

Harry was killed in action on 4th June 1916 during the 70 minute bombardment which took the lives of so many of his comrades and finally put an end to the myth that the 10th Battalion were ‘lucky’. He is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; he was 18 years old: still too young to be serving abroad.

Both Harry and Walter Raney (Day 14) travelled from Goole to Hull in order to enlist, and whilst I cannot be sure, it is very easy to form a picture of them travelling together, signing up together, training together, shipping together, and dying together.

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Day 14. PRIVATE WALTER RICHARD RANEY 10/560.

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Born in Howden in 1896, Walter was the youngest of five children to Richard and Annie Raney of 46 Manuel Street, Goole. A Clerk at a Colliery Agents before the war, he travelled to Hull to enlist in the first week of September 1914 and joined the fledgling 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, ‘The Commercials’, 1st Hull Pals.

Like all the Originals, Walter served in Egypt over the winter of 1915-16 before being posted to France and the trenches of the Western Front. Prior to 4th June 1916 the 10th had gained a reputation for being lucky, with only a handful of casualties to show for their stints in the front line at Engelbelmer and Beaumont Hamel; but in the small hours of that early summer morning they bore the full brunt of a 70 minute pin-point bombardment which destroyed their trench system completely and left them exposed. Many lost their lives that night. No-one called them luck any more.

The diarist Private Tait described that day:

“We are relieved at 6pm but parties stay behind to bury our dead. The burial ground is under a typical French Avenue just behind the third line….Everyone presents a sad aspect and how keenly we feel the loss of our comrades!”

That burial ground eventually became Sucrerie Military Cemetery and that night, beneath a hand-built wooden cross, lay what had that morning been Walter Richard Raney, a postmistress’s son from Goole.

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