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Pvt Westlake, 9241 - 2nd Btn., Northumberland Fusiliers (May 1915)


brandon_at_war

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I would be very grateful if anyone would be able to tell me what the 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, were doing on 8th May 1915. I am researching the final movements, to the best I can, of Private William Thomas Westlake, 9241.

I think he was an Army reservist and went straight into war at the outbreak. During the winter of 1914 he was sent back to a UK hospital suffering from frostbite to his feet. Upon recovering from this he was sent back to the front but was taken as a POW on 8th May 1915. By 1918 he health had deteriorated whilst being a POW and he was released back to the British and returned back for a second spell in a British hospital. However he was already in a bad condition and on 4th march 1918 he passed away while a patient at Camberwell Hospital. William is buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, UK.

Also is there any snippet of info I have missed from this card?

william_westlake.jpg

William Westlake.

william_westlake-001.jpg

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They were involved in the second battle of ypres

There is a member Graham who is the man on NF hopefully he may be able to tell you more

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Checking the fighting fifth. They relieved the 1 welch 6th may 1915 its front extreme left of the 84th brigade. Its front extended from the Wieltje - Gravenstafel road across the Wieltje - St Julien road to join the right of the 12 th Brigade near Mouse Trap Farm

They were getting shelled heavily, germans made an attack against whole line from Menin Road to Mouse Trap Farm.

A lot wrote but thats the basics

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Thank you sir.

I feel for poor William. His grandparents brought him up and it appears his parents left him in Norfolk while they went with their other children to London. His grandfather died in 1897 and his mother died in London in 1900. He had three children. A fourth died in infancy. He didn't have the best of experiences in the first full year of war and his health deteriorated so much he was transferred by enemy back into British hands!

Hopefully I can find something about his military experience.

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Hi brandon-at war

Just a few points regarding William. His number of 9241 would put him originally joining the regiment about 1903/1904. My grandfather's cousin, Edward Beech, was number 9285 and joined up in about 1903. Your suggestion that he was a recalled reservist is probably therefore correct, Edward was another of those called up in August 1914 and was killed at Bellewaarde with 1st Battalion on 16th June 1915. His date entered theatre is listed as 8th October 1914, so he must originally have gone to France as a draft to 1st Battalion, as they were the only Northumberland Fusilier battalion in France in 1914. In August 1914, they were in barracks at Cambridge Barracks in Portsmouth and received 600+ reservists on 6th August alone. By the 10th, the battalion was up to strength and were actually cherry-picking the most suitable men to take with them, with the rest sent back to the depot. The 1st Battalion left Southampton on 13th August 1914 on SS Norman and landed the following morning.

The 1st Battalion had fought on the Aisne in September 1914 and suffered heavy casualties, so William may well have been a reinforcement for this. His first major action would have been at Neuve Chapelle later in October and they also fought at 1st Ypres suffering heavy casualties on the 7th/8th November 1914 when some of their trenches were overrun by Germans east of Hooge, near Herenthage Chateau. On 7th November the battalion was listed as being about 200 men strong and 150+ were reported as casualties in the War Diary the following day, the majority being missing, although I think this relates to the 7th Nov, as on the 8th the battalion fought off a German attack and were shelled heavily, but this does not give the impression that so many men could be reported missing, whereas the overrunning of the trenches on the 7th gives ample opportunity for this. Sandilands in the history states that men were buried when the trenches collapsed and that a counter attack was launched by the 'remnants' of the battalion on the 7th, which appears to support this.

2nd Battalion were in Sabathu, India when war broke out and did not return to England until 22nd December 1914. They joined 84th Brigade, 28th Division, but did not land in France, at Le Havre, until 18th January 1915. He was presumably posted to 2nd Battalion on recovering from frostbite. The battalion was decimated twice within a week during 2nd Ypres.

I would recommend reading 'The Fifth in the Great War: A History of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 1914 - 1918' by Harold Sandilands which will give you an overview of both the 1st and 2nd Battalion up until William's capture. Also, 'The Devil's Carnival' by John Mason Sneddon, which gives an overview of 1st Battalion in 1914 and quotes heavily from the personal diaries of three of the battalion officers.

Do you have any information as to where William was held as a POW?

Also note his badge on the photo. All the other photos I have seen only show the badge with the 'flaming grenade' and not with NF either side, although I have seen this on later shoulder titles. Certainly, the examples I have are in that format. A badges expert on GWF may be able to confirm whether this puts the photo as pre war??

Regards

John

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Hi,

WW1POW details are still held by the Red Cross in Switzerland. They stopped accepting enquiries 2 years ago to start a digitisation process which ought to be completed in time for the centenary. Sorry I can't attach a link via my iPhone but I am sure if you google something like WW1 POW RED CROSS FILES you will find the site.

Regards

Steve Y

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Hi brandon-at war

Further thoughts! Have you checked on Ancestry as they have surviving Service Records on their Site. You have to pay if you are not a subscriber, so if you want me to check, I can do so tonight. Steve is right about ICRC records, but I believe they become available in August this year online. The two NF experts who help my research are Graham Stewart and Tyneside Chinaman, they may be able to add more if this pick up this thread. Graham has access to the regimental magazine St George's Gazette and may have reference to William.

Regards

John

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Hi,

WW1POW details are still held by the Red Cross in Switzerland. They stopped accepting enquiries 2 years ago to start a digitisation process which ought to be completed in time for the centenary. Sorry I can't attach a link via my iPhone but I am sure if you google something like WW1 POW RED CROSS FILES you will find the site.

Regards

Steve Y

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Thank you Steve Y and John Beech, especially John for that detailed account of the 1st NF. I can't say for sure that he was in that battalion but it would make sense as I believe he was in the UK before he went to war, rather than in India.

Currently I do not know where he was held as a POW so my research, for now, is more focused on his life in the NF.

Thank you all for your much valued contributions.

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Hi brandon_at_war

I have just checked Sandilands for 8th May, I don't have the War Diary for 2nd Battalion, being more interested in 1st Battalion, but it says the battalion suffered 12 killed, 126 wounded and 284 missing on the 8th May.

There is a long account in 'The Fifth in the Great War: A History of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, 1914 - 1918' of the events of the day. The battalion was occupying trenches from the Wieltje-Gravenstafel Road to the Wieltje-St Julien Road near Mouse Trap Farm. Briefly, at about 7.00pm, after a heavy bombardment, a rocket was observed from the German lines, and they then launched an attack. In very short order, the battalion were surrounded on three sides, and the fighting became very confused. Lieutenant Col. Enderby and his adjutant, Captain Auld were both quickly captured. Very soon after, B, C and D Companies were destroyed and No. 4 Platoon of A Company were also destroyed. The remainder of A Company under Captain Hart managed to hold on. A Company were requested to surrender by a German officer, but Hart shot him dead and was soon after killed himself. By this time only two officers remained of A Company, 2nd Lieutenant Lord and 2nd Lieutenant Watson, and as they were both wounded, the command of the platoons devolved onto Sergeants. During the night, the German attack died down, and at 4.00am on the 9th the remains of A Company were relieved by 1st Battalion East Lancs.

A Company was reduced to 65 NCO and men, although 2nd Lieutenant Watson was still well enough to lead the men out. When they reached Brigade HQ Watson was dismissed and sent to hospital. The survivors of the other three companies amounted to two 2nd Lieutenants and 51 NCO and men.

It goes on to say that those listed as killed were only those of the three surviving platoons of A Company, as were the majority of the wounded, with the balance made up of those wounded earlier in the action from the other companies, who it had been possible to evacuate. Captain Auld estimated that the number of men made POW amounted to no more than 80, so it is likely that about 200 of the missing could be added to the 12 listed as killed.

One of those captured, was of course,9241 Private William Thomas Westlake.

Regards

John

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Hi brandon_at_war

I have just checked on Ancestry to see if William's service records had survived or if there was a pension records, but I have not found them. Nor can I find any reference to his being awarded a Silver War Badge

Regards

John

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Hi John.

Your time devoted to finding info is greatly appreciated. In my previous message I failed to tell you that I do have ancestry subscription and also tried unsuccessfully to find much about William other than Census returns. A short while ago I paid for and downloaded the 2nd Btn War Diary from NA, and after reading through it I find you have given a good summary of the events. Had I waited an hour or two I could have saved a few quid! ;)

I am in the process of collating info about the men listed on Brandon's (Suffolk) war memorial and plan to give my research to local groups and schools. Unless you say otherwise I will acknowledge your assistance in finding details about William's unit. Again, thank you for your time, it is appreciated.

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Hi Darren

I have no objection to you quoting from what I sent you, I wish you well. I have been approached by a school in Nottingham to do a talk on the Zeppelin Raid on Nottingham. It is important that the sacrifices made are not forgotten and you never know you may inspire others to do their own research

Regards

John

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  • 2 months later...

I have a list of 94 names from the 2nd NF who were killed 8th May 1915 (9 of them were from the town of Jarrow)

My great uncle Frank Monaghan from Jarrow had been killed with the 2nd NF on the 22nd February 1915 at La Chapelle Farm below Hill 60 at Ypres

His number was Private 3428 and he had enlisted as a Regular Soldier in Jarrow May 1912

Here is the list of 94 I have (I have seen a mention somewhere that there was 1 Officer and 96 other ranks killed that day?)

08/05/1915

ASKEW, JAMES. PRIVATE 9527. YPRES (MENIN GATE)
BARTLEY, GEORGE. PRIVATE 8670. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BENNETT, SAMUEL. PRIVATE 8886. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BIRKITT, CHARLES. PRIVATE 2244. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BOWMAN, THOMAS. PRIVATE 8938. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BOYD, THOMAS. LCPL 1387. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BRADFORD, JAMES. CPL 2593. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BROOKS, JOHN. PRIVATE 2971. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BROOME, SAMUEL. PRIVATE 3708. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BROWN, WALTER. PRIVATE 8579. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BULMER, JAMES WILLIAM. PRIVATE 3521. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

BYRNE, PETER. PRIVATE 2808. SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY

CALVERT, GEORGE HENRY. PRIVATE 2947. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

CHAMBERS, THOMAS GREGORY. PRIVATE 7356. "A" Coy YPRES (MENIN GATE)

CHATER, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 5114. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

CHRISTIE, JAMES. PRIVATE 3091. SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY

CLARKE, PETER. LCPL 2152. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

CONNOLLY, JAMES. PRIVATE 9937. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

CRAIK, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 3260. From Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DAGLISH, ROBERT WILLIAM. PRIVATE 2439.

DAVISON, JAMES. PRIVATE 2086. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DISBERRY, MATTHEW JAMES. PRIVATE 8397. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DIXON, WILLIAM HENRY. LCPL 8744. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DONALDSON, WILLIAM. SGT 7703. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DUFFY, MARTIN. PRIVATE 8512. From Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

DYE, ARTHUR. PRIVATE 16608. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

EATON, HORACE. PRIVATE 2599. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

ELSWORTH, ERNEST EDGAR. LCPL 3263. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

EVANS, FREDERICK. LCPL 3212. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

FERNINGER, BASIL CLEMENT. PRIVATE 1980.

FOGARTY, JOSEPH. LCPL 1763. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

GARRETT, GEORGE. PRIVATE 16890. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

GIBSON, HENRY. PRIVATE 9892. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HALL, ROBERT. PRIVATE 8405. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HALLAM, GEORGE. PRIVATE 8348. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HALLIDAY, GEORGE EDWARD. PRIVATE 10718. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HARDY, JAMES ALBERT. PRIVATE 2880. SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY

HENDERSON, WILLIAM. PRIVATE 2158. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HINE, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 2159. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HIRST, JOHN THOMAS. PRIVATE 9183. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

HOOD, STIRLING. PRIVATE 12473. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

JARDINE, ANDREW. PRIVATE 3371. From Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

KENNERSLEY, LIONEL WILLIAM. PRIVATE 3097.

KERNER, WALTER WILLIAM. CPL 2281. "G" Coy YPRES (MENIN GATE)

LICHFIELD, GEORGE. PRIVATE 2654. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

LEGARD, GEOFFREY PHILIP. LIEUTNANT. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MARSHALL, EDWARD. PRIVATE 4134. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MARTIN, WILLIAM. L/CPL 17019. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MCCLEANGHAN, ALEXANDER. PRIVATE 17199.

McCLUSKEY, PETER. PRIVATE 8667. YPRES (MENIN GATE

McCORMACK, EDWARD. PRIVATE 4112. YPRES (MENIN GATE

MCDONALD, PATRICK. L/CPL 8711.

McGURK, JOHN. LCPL 8697. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

McMORRIS, JAMES. PRIVATE 8650. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MELVILLE, JAMES. LCPL 9718. Born Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MILLER, GEORGE. PRIVATE 2611.

MULGREW, THOMAS. PRIVATE 4831. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MUMFORD, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 8111. Born Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

MURRAY, RONALD. PRIVATE 9738. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

NEWBURY, THOMAS FREDERICK. PRIVATE 3427. "F" Coy YPRES (MENIN GATE)

OLIVER, ROBERT. PRIVATE 16715. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

PENROSE, ROBERT. PRIVATE 3304. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

PIERSON, FREDERICK. L/CPL 2897. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

PRICE, ERNEST. PRIVATE 16640. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

PUXTY, CHARLES EDWARD. PRIVATE 2405. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

QUINN, PETER. PRIVATE 3158. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

RHODES, ARTHUR. LCPL 3019. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

ROBSON, ALBERT. PRIVATE 3383. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

ROBSON, THOMAS RUTHERFORD. PRIVATE 3680. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

ROBSON, THOMAS WILLIAM. PRIVATE 9324. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

SCOTT, DAVID. PRIVATE 2938. PERTH CEMETERY (CHINA WALL)

SEED, HARRY. PRIVATE 16674. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

SHEARD, JOHN. PRIVATE 2650. NEW IRISH FARM CEMETERY

SMITH, DAVID. PRIVATE 3754. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

SPENCER, JAMES HERBERT. PRIVATE 3489. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

STANLEY, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 2627. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

STOREY, GEOFFREY LEONARD. PRIVATE 16610. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

STRAKER, JOHN THOMAS. PRIVATE 9929. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

TALBOT, MICHAEL. PRIVATE 8415. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

TAYLOR, THOMAS. SGT 7536. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

THOMS, JOSEPH. PRIVATE 20927. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

TOWLER, ERNEST. PRIVATE 1124. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

TRALL, JAMES. PRIVATE 16639.

WAITE, FRED CHARLES. PRIVATE 9914. "B" Coy YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WATT, MADDISON HORSLEY 3294. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WEBB, PERCY DOUGLAS. L/SGT 2625. SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY

WIFFEN, FRANK JOHN. LCPL 830. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WILKINS, GEORGE VINCENT. PRIVATE 16509. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WILKS, THOMAS. PRIVATE 8955. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WILSON, JOHN. PRIVATE 253. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WILSON, ROBERT. PRIVATE 11223. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

WRIGHT, THOMAS. PRIVATE 16708. Born Jarrow YPRES (MENIN GATE)

YOUNG, JAMES. SGT 2377. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

YOUNG, JOHN. LCPL 2381. YPRES (MENIN GATE)

(94 dead in one day)

AULD, R. CAPTAIN (POW)

ENDERBY. SAMUEL HERBERT. LIEUTENANT COLONEL (POW)

HUFTON, JOHN ERNEST. PRIVATE 16997 (POW)

LAZENBY, CHARLES. PRIVATE 3512 (wounded) (POW)

WESTLAKE, WILLIAM THOMAS. PRIVATE 9241 (POW)

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Managed to miss this post somehow and although can't help any further with the events, I do have a little bit more on William;-

9241 Pte William Thomas Westlake, enlisted early June 1903 and was originally a 1st Bn man, who was posted to the 2nd Bn and he appears "Missing in Action" twice in the Regimental Journal for June & December 1915.

There is a possibility that he was actually a First Class Reservist and that he may have been discharged in 1910, if on the "Seven & Five" years term of service, which was basically Seven years with the 'Colours' and Five years on the 'Reserve', making a total of 12years service. Had War not broken out then he would have been Discharged totally in June 1915, with no further obligation, unfortunately he would have been called back in August 1914.

The badge he's wearing in his cap in the small photo is interesting, as it appears to be either a 'sweet-heart' badge or a doctored photo. I say this because it does actually look like a Light Infantry bugle with the letters 'N' and 'F', soldered either side.

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William Westlake's Medal Index Card says qualifying date 8th October 1914 (plus he has the 1914 Star)

The qualifying date for 2nd NF was 16th January 1915. 

This little snapshot of 21 who died from 2nd NF in Ypres 1915 from a tiny little town called Jarrow. 

2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers who died from Jarrow. 

Qualifying dates off their Medal Index Card

James Allison Private 9923 died on 12th March 1915 (qualifying date 23rd February 1915)

Patrick Aspell Private 3/12468 died on 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 4th March 1915)

Alexander Robertson Boothman Private 2822 died on 20th February 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)

(Formerly 8519 Cheshire Regiment and 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers)

Edward Carroll Private 8647 died on 24th May 1915 (qualifying date 6th March 1915)

Michael Coyne Lance Corporal 14066 died on 12th March 1915 (qualifying date 6th March 1915)

Joseph Craik Private 3260 died on 8th May 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)

Martin Duffy Private 8512 died on 8th May 1915 (qualifying date 23rd February 1915)

John Fenton Private 21075 died on 24th May 1915 (qualifying date 1st November 1914)

Joseph Henry Hall Private 14658 died 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)

William Todd Hutcheon Private 21003 died on 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 3rd May 1915)

(Formerly 8584 Durham Light Infantry)

William Edward James Private 21397 "B" Coy. died on 16th September 1915 (qualifying date 5th December 1914)

(Formerly 9562 West Yorks Regiment)

Stephen Joyce Private 2182 died on 24th May 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)

John Mason Private 20901 died on 11th August 1915 (qualifying date 3rd May 1915)

(Formerly 8197 Durham Light Infantry)

John McCauley Private 20932 who died on 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 3rd May 1915)

James Melville Lance Corporal 9718 died on 8th May 1915 (qualifying date 6th March 1915)

Frank Monaghan Private 3428 died 20th February 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)
Joseph Mumford Private 8111 died on 8th May 1915 (qualifying date 6th March 1915)

Edward Pearson Private 20992 died on 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 3rd May 1915)

Stephen Adamson Watt Private 21058 died on 26th May 1915 (qualifying date 1st May 1915)

Joseph Wright Private 3416 died on 20th February 1915 (qualifying date 16th January 1915)

Thomas Wright Private 16708 died on 8th May 1915 (qualifying date 6th March 1915)

The regular soldiers of the 2nd NF qualifying date was 16th January 1915

But most of these show by their qualifying dates they were reinforcements or taken from other battalions or regiments

So obviously the real picture was magnified a hundred fold how many times the 2nd NF was brought back from total annihilation of every regular soldier

No wonder the 2nd NF only lasted 9 months on the Western Front before they pulled them out to save face

(mind they were not the only regular battalion that happened to)

Edited by Curlew1919
Corrections
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  • 2 weeks later...

My thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion. I am learning so much all the time. :)

The badge he's wearing in his cap in the small photo is interesting, as it appears to be either a 'sweet-heart' badge or a doctored photo. I say this because it does actually look like a Light Infantry bugle with the letters 'N' and 'F', soldered either side.

The image is a scan from a local newspaper from 1918 and relates to the announcement of his death. I have not doctored it and would not have thought the newspaper would have done so. can you elaborate on what a 'sweet heart' badge is please? Thanks :)

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post-7376-0-28969200-1402166346_thumb.jp

This is a typical 'sweetheart' brooch and it also relates to the Northumberland Fusiliers and is a minature shoulder title added to the rifle in silver.

I'll try and add some more illustrations of what he should actually be wearing in his cap.

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post-7376-0-60268900-1402166669_thumb.jp

This illustration is taken from another website and clearly shows, the correct cap badge(our right) and shoulder title to our left. None of these match what William is wearing, which in my honest opinion points to a 'doctored' photo to illustrate the 'NF' relevance.

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Thank you Graham. I really appreciate you putting these images on here. Cheers, Darren

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  • 11 months later...

Hi there, only just joined this forum. However it was reading your thread, and your information that has lead me to joining in the first place. I hope you are in touch still beacuase.....

My great- grandfather Private John Ernest Hufton, no 16697 of 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was also in action and was captured on Saturday 8th May 1915 at 2nd Ypres, he was also taken as POW, and I have several Photos of him before and after capture all with his German captors.

It is with pleasure to say that there is a group photograph with my great grand father, and standing next to him, I can categorically say, it Is Pvt. Willism Westlake. The photograph you supplied, seems to show that it is him. Given that I am new here and if you are still around I will endeavour to post the said photographs online so you can see for yourself

Hope this helps

Alan Dinger Bell

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