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1/7th West Riding Regiment - October 1918


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I am trying to trace the movements of the 1/7th Btn, West Riding Regiment for October 1918. I have a young local lad who was serving with them and he was killed on the 11th of October 1918. I have found lots of local research about him, as well as his service record and census references. I know nothing of the five months he saw active service.

Private Bertie Norton, 33739

He stole a package from a local railway station, and was bound over, but then was caught being naughty again and ended up in Kerrison Reform School in Suffolk. When he reached 18 years old he left there and enlisted at Ipswich in November 1917 and was placed into the 53rd Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. On 15th May 1918 he went over to France and was transferred to the 1/7th West Riding. Had he survivied another month of war he would have been 19 years old on the day the Armistice took effect.

I just wonder what action was going on for his battalion and the likely circumstances of his death. Also I have a 'Statement of the Services' which details he was killed in action on 11-10-1918, but under that entry is "C1727". Does that have a meaning?

Any assistance is gratefully received.


Darren Norton

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Hello Darren

I would be most interested in any information you have on Pte Bertie Norton, I am collecting details of men who served with the 1/7th Btn, West Riding Regiment. This is what they were up to :

'On 11 October 1918 the Battalion was in the Escadoeuvres Area when they received operational orders for the attack, Battalion moved forward at 0200 to assembly positions East of Naves. In position at 0500 with Battalion HQ established in Naves, zero hour 0900 an advance was made of 1,000 yards the Battalion passed through the Canadians who were holding the line. Towards noon the enemy counter attacked with tanks and we withdrew 500 yards to the sunken road where the enemy were held for the night. During the night 11 to 12 October the enemy withdrew and the Battalion again moved forward the enemy now holding a line along the railway East of Saulzoir. Casualties for operations 11 to 13 October 1918 amounted to 3 officers killed, 7 officers wounded, other ranks 56 killed, 237 wounded and 7 missing.'

Hope this helps



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Operation orders received for attack. Btn moved forward 2am to assembly positions East of NAVES & N.W. of RIEUX. In position 5am. BHQ established in NAVES. Right Btn of Right Bde on 2nd

Bde front. Zero hour 9am. An advance of 1000 yds was made, the Btn passing thro' the Canadians who were holding the line. Towards noon the enemy counter-attacked with tanks & we withdrew 500 yds to SUNKEN ROAD running thro’ U.14.d, U.8.d (Sheet 51A) where enemy were held for the night. The Btn then became Btn in Bde Res.



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Hi Ron.

Thank you ever so much for your info about 11th October. Yes of course you can have my research on him. Below is a rough narrative of what I have so far.

Bertie Norton, 33739, Private, 1st/7th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's, West Riding Regiment.

Bertie was born on 11th November 1899. His parents, Walter, a bricklayer’s labourer, and Ada were living in Thetford Road, Brandon, Suffolk, at the time. Bertie had an older brother and sister, Frank and Bessie and the family lived next door to Edward Norton and his family, whose three children were the same age, and so it is possible the two families were related.

By the 1911 census, the family had moved from Thetford Road to 22 George Street and Bertie’s father was then employed as a platelayer for the Great Eastern Railway. The family had also grown in numbers and along with Bessie, who was working at a fur factory, Frank and Bertie, there was also Wesley, Gertrude, Cecil, Cyril and Percy, the latter being only 9 months old. The family had welcomed the birth of another baby every two years in the last decade! This trend continued after 1911 with the birth of Eric and finally Edna.

At the outbreak of war many Brandon lads were enlisting to fight as part of Kitchener’s Army, but for Bertie this was not possible. Firstly he was under age, only 14 years old. Secondly he had a brush with the law and was no longer in the town. On the day war was declared Bertie was at Brandon’s railway station and had seen a cycle unattended with a package on it. Temptation was too much for him and he took the package containing some handkerchiefs and socks, and shared the contents with his mate Alfred Ashley. The theft was promptly reported and Inspector Mobbs of the Brandon Police was on the case. He later saw the two boys and after searching them he found they both had the stolen goods on them. Both boys blamed the other but admitted they had been at the railway station with the other lad. The boys and their parents were summoned to appear before Brandon’s magistrates and both sets of parents were bound over for the sum of £5 and the boys had to be on their best behaviour for the next six months. If not then the consequences for the boys would not be good. The following year the Thetford & Watton Times printed a news story about a Brandon labourer named Walter Norton who had been summoned for not paying arrears of 13 shillings to cover the maintenance of his son who was being held in an industrial (reform) school. This is likely proof that Bertie had not behaved too well after the railway station incident. Walter had not appeared in person but instead had sent one of his sons with the payment and Inspector Mobbs was less than complimentary about Walter, and suggested Walter “would never pay (his son’s maintenance) unless he was forced”.

On 27th November 1917 Bertie went along to Ipswich and enlisted into the army. He was given the service number of 129342 and placed into the 53rd Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. He stated that he was working as a gardener but was living at Thorndon Reform School. His daily routine would have been to wake up early, prayers, a few hours of reading and writing, then off to work in the garden until evening where upon more reading and writing instruction. This would have been broken up by the intervention of meal times. Sundays were reserved for wearing their Sunday best and attending church, sometimes twice that day. Just sixteen days after reaching his 18th birthday he left the reform school and enlisted. At this time he wrote his next of kin as Private Walter Norton, so it appears his father was also serving in the army.

On 13th January 1918 Bertie apparently married Mary Payne but according to his service record he did not give his marriage certificate as proof. Then, on 15th May 1918, he embarked on a ship at Folkestone and sailed over to France and took his place in the war. Two days later he was posted to the 1st/7th Battalion, West Riding Regiment and given a new service number, 33739.

He had only been on active service for five months when his parents received a letter stating he had been killed in action. In November 1918, the Thetford and Watton Times printed the fact that an officer from 18 year old Bertie’s unit had given his parents an account of him having an “excellent character” and that “sympathy is felt for his parents”. In March 1919, his mother was sent his personal effects which included a wallet, knife, metal mirror, a purse with two coins, a pipe and pouch, cards, letters and a chain with a pedant attached. Bertie would have been 19 years old on Armistice Day had he survived another month of war.

Bertie is buried at grave ref. III.B.10, Wellington Cemetery, Rieux-en-Cambresis, Nord, France.


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Hi Graeme.

Thank you for the snippet from the war diary. It is greatly appreciated.



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Hello Darren

Thanks very much for your write up regarding Bertie Norton, it is much appreciated. The entry "C1727" most probably refers to an official casualty list.



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