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2/6th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment


Tomkinson
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It has been suggested it may be better to start a new topic on this subject so here goes.

I am reseaching the 2/6th Battalion of the West Yorkshire regiment in which my great Grandfather served and was killed on the first day of second Bullecourt (3rd May 1917).

Bullecourt seems to have been a particularly bloody and controversial battle owing to lessons not having been learned from the first battle, the involvement of the ANZAC Army and the use of tanks.

The actual fighting for the fortified village of Bullecourt appears to be an early foretaste of the street fighting of Stalingrad although on a smaller scale.

However, my particular concern is for the 2/6th who were a Territorial battalion formed in Bradford in September 1914. They were part of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

There are some good histories about - in particular E.C.Gregory's and Wyrall's.

These however, do not cover who served in which Company and I am interested in that.

My great Grandfather was Sgt.Harold Shaw.

Happy to correspond and lead discussion on this one.

Cheers

Mike Tomkinson

Bradford

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Hello Mike,

Most unit histories won't give that kind of detail, especially for other ranks. Articles covering enlistments and departures for the front often appeared in local newpapers, but by the time 2/6th went to France, I think this had been vetoed for reasons of operational secrecy. The main library in Bradford has a card index of those known to have served from Bradford and this may well contain the information you seek.
Being a Sergeant, he is more likely to get a mention in the War Diary than a private soldier and this route might be an option for you.

Interesting that Gregory's History doesn't provide the information as it was meant to be a companion to Tempest's volume which does list those embarking by company.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Thanks Nigel,

I will have to get to Bradford Library at some point.

One thing I would really like is a photograph of him as I have no photographs of him at all. I do know that the local papers (in this case the T&A) used to publish photgraphs of the fallen.

It would have been a pretty depressing paper in Bradford after the 3rd May 1917 but do you know if by this stage in the war this was still a common practice?

He does not show as a named individual on any of the photos in Gregory's book but equally I do not know when he was promoted to Sargeant.

I have his Victory Medal but no others although I understand that is quite common.

Cheers

Mike Tomkinson

Bradford

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Hi Mike,

I believe publishing photos was a practice which continued even though it must have been terrible to see so many faces of the dead in the paper. It had happened the previous year after the first days of the Somme when the casualty reports began to come back in torrents. Certainly the Leeds papers still printed photos of those wounded missing killed and captured.

It's a sad fact that you stand a better chance of finding a photo of Sergeant Shaw in the paper as a casualty than you do of a survivor.

Because of the date the battalion deployed and the dates of qualifications for the campaign medals, if sergeant shaw only served with this particular battalion, his entitlement would be the British War Medal and Victory Medal. They missed out on the 1914-15 Star by more than a year. You're half way there with his medals.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Hi

Your G Grandfather is in the Bradford part of the National Roll.Theres a book copy in the Central Library...Ive got it on disc.

Also he is on the City Roll Of Honour as living at 91 Carlton Street Horton Rd...Same address as the National Roll. No details except 2/6th and KIA 3rd May 1917.

In the Bradford Daily Telegraph there is a photo of a Sgt H Shaw West Yorks Regiment in the issue dated 28/6/17 it lists him as reported missing BUT the addy is given as 77 Longside so cannot confirm if both are the same Sgt Shaw.

Ady

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Thanks Nigel and Ady,

The National Roll is on Ancestry but does not cover the volume for Bradford which is deeply frustrating.

The addresses do not tie up to anything I have but the area is right. The 1911 census still shows him (at 19) living at home but he married the next year.

It certainly took a long time to list him as missing if it appeared over 3 months after the battle but very few bodies were ever recovered from Bullecourt so there would be little evidence, I suppose.

Interesting point about the 1914-15 Star as he certainly did not get that but another great Grandfather who served in the B/2 Battery of the West Riding RFA as part of 49 Division of the BEF also did not get it but they may not have gone until 1916.

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May 3rd 1917 was the worst day of the war for deaths in the Huddersfield and Holmfirth area, with many reported to be missing and not confirmed dead until many months afterwards.

Holmfirth lost 17 killed and only one of these men has a known grave. This was with the 62nd Division at Bullecourt. There must have been considerable confusion about the fate of many of these men for quite a long while. With missing men where I live, I would expect a newspaper report of him being missing and another when he is confirmed dead.

Tony.

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Mike

You may have looked already, but it might be worth checking the electoral registers for Bradford. You may be at least able to prove a connection or lack of it to the newspaper report by that means.

The Gregory book contains a list of officers and men who embarked on the 6th of January 1917 and that includes two other men named Shaw, but not Harold. There is also a Lund, S no 4740, (an old army number as the more recent one could not be traced).

Sgt Harold Shaw is listed in the section on casualties, but without a reference to his company:

Shaw, Harold, e. Bradford (Bradford), 241117, Sgt., k in a., F & F., 3/5/17.

Keith

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Just to add that the unit took very heavy casualties during that attack on 3 May.

"All twelve company officers apart from the intelligence, liaison and headquarters officers became casualties, and out of 393 other ranks who went into Bullecourt 287 were killed, wounded or missing. "

After the battle the battalion was able to scrape up 130 other ranks, including stragglers, men from the waggon lines, officers servants and others. The Bradford men fought and died bravely that day.

Keith

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Actually Greogory's book does show Harold as one of those who departed these shores pn the 6/1/1917.

241117 H, Shaw (page 165).

The number also matches with his Medal Card.

Good point about the Electoral Roll.

Cheers

Mike Tomkinson

Bradford

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`My apologies Mike

I looked down the list rather too quickly. I thought it odd as I don't recall any mention of drafts before the action.

I shall be visiting Bullecourt and the Arras memorial late in March, and will pay my respects then.

Keith

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The entry in the Bradford volume of the National Roll is as follows:
SHAW, H., Sergt., 2/6th West Yorks. Regt. Volunteering in August 1914, he was drafted to France in the following April and fought in the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, Hill 60 , and in other important engagements. He died gloriously on the field at Bullecourt in May 1917 and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals. "Steals on the ear the distant triumph song." 91 Carlton Street, Great Horton Road, Bradford.


I see that the medal card gives an earlier army number, so maybe there is more to discover. If you send me a pm I can scan the entry for you.

Keith


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Keith

Very interesting. The 2/6th was a Territorial Battalion which definitely did not go to France until 6/1/1917.

The entry in the Roll of Honour seems to indicate that Harold got to France much earlier. His medal card shows no indication of the award of the 1914-15 Star so there is a definite discrepancy.

He may have joined up, gone to France and somehow found himself back here and attached to the 2/6th I suppose.

I will do some digging around who fought at the Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Hill 60.

Cheers

Mike Tomkinson

Bradford

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Hello Mike,

'The 2/6th was a Territorial Battalion which definitely did not go to France until 6/1/1917.

The entry in the Roll of Honour seems to indicate that Harold got to France much earlier.'

The National Roll is notorious for inaccuracies, entries were by subscription and there was a temptation for the 'Salesman' to make up the details.

'His medal card shows no indication of the award of the 1914-15 Star'. He could be under another number, a four digit number, so worth re-checking the MIC in the National Archive catalogue. Have you checked Tempest to see if he is listed with the 1/6th ?

Regards

Ron

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His four digit number was 3438.

Ca Ira

Regards Kevin

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It might also be worth checking the enlistment date in the City Roll of Honour to see if it tallies with the national roll entry. If it does we learn nothing, if it doesn't then that would tend to discredit the entry as Ron suggests might be the case.

I don't know if anyone can cast some light on the earlier army number - there were quite a few men listed in Gregory with the earlier numbers. I seem to remember that ther was a renumbering for the territorial units some time well into the war. I should be able to look it up later but have to go out to a meeting now.

Keith

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Renumbering took place June 1917, so it looks like he was reported missing, hence the new number.

Ca Ira

Regards Kevin

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  • 5 years later...

Have read with interest about the 2/6th West Yorkshire Regiment. I am writing a family book which will include a recently discovered relative who was captured on 3rd May at Bullecourt. He was a POW until the end and although he started off in the Dulmen camp, I have yet to establish whether he was transferred to other camps. Another relative has some papers of his, including some cartoons/drawings of camp scenes including German soldiers which could be of historical interest. Haven't .

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Sorry - new to this. Full message below.

Have read with interest about the 2/6th West Yorkshire Regiment. I am writing a family book which will include a recently discovered relative who was captured on 3rd May at Bullecourt. He was a POW until the end and although he started off in the Dulmen camp, I have yet to establish whether he was transferred to other camps. Another relative has some papers of his, including some cartoons/drawings of camp scenes including German soldiers which could be of historical interest. Haven't seen them yet. Finally, as he was captured, it seems likely that he was in D company ie the one that reached the church. Does anyone have a view on this?

Geoff Whaley

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  • 3 months later...

Hello all. Sorry to be late replying to this but I have only just started on 2/6th. Sgt H Shaw is listed in the Red Cross enquiry list as being in A Company. A was only 85 men strong when it went in and had only 3 platoons. It was charged with bombing down 2 long trenches on the south and eastern sides of Bullecourt. Only one officer survived ( Lt Frost) . The other A company officers are still missing. Happy to give more detail. Cheers Fraser

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Dear Geoff . Can I have his name and I will see what I can do.? Cheers Fraser

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Fraser

Sorry to have delayed my reply to you. My relative's name was Pte John Snowdon 2/6 Bn West Yorks.

Have just discovered he was in Lille, Dulmen and Giessen POW camps.

Would like to pinpoint his position in the battle or where it was likely he was captured.

Geoff

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All

I am new to this site, so not sure if my little bit of info is of any use to this post, but.... I have 2 photos that were in my late grandfathers possession.

The 2 photos are of a group of men with a sign that reads " 6th North. Fuss. C. Company. No.9 Platoon HQ".

If anyone is interested, I would love to show the photos and try to put some names to the faces.

Cheers

Tracey

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Mike,

Don't want to state the obvious but have you tried the diary for the 2/6th WY it may be free to download from your library.

By coincidence I got hold of the 187th Inf Bde diary yesterday and it has a whole section (100 pages?) for May 1917. Lots of information I was unaware of as to details of the attack and why the attack failed, many men named across the Brigade for acts of bravery or misconduct or FGCMs. As I type I am downloading the 185th Inf. Bde. diary which may contain similar so I'll have something to read over the weekend and let you know. It is 219 pages and covers May & June 1917 only.

TEW

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