VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY
Shot at Dawn: 335727 Private Edward Delargy, 1st/8th Bn. Royal Scots, executed for desertion, 06/09/1917, aged 19. Plot IX. H. 19. Son of Mrs. Winnifred Delargy, of 42, Mount Pleasant, Leslie, Fife.
The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006.
Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery is located 5 Kms west of
Ieper town centre and to the south of the village of Vlamertinge (Vlamertinge is
the modern spelling of Vlamertinghe). Vlamertinge is located along the
Visitors to this site should note a grassed access path
which runs between two houses on the street front and is unsuitable for
Casualty Details: UK 1611; Canada 154; Australia 44; New Zealand 1; South Africa 3; Germany 7; Total Burials: 1820
13th Bde. Australian Field Artillery
10/10/1917, aged 26.
Son of James & Agnes Murphy. Much loved brother of May, Ellen, Agnes & Jim and a much loved husband of Maud (nee Hennessey)
Plot IX. F. 19.
The memorial card sent out by his family read:
“If we could have clasped his dying hand
And heard his last farewell,
It would have not been so hard to part
With the one we loved so well.
We often pictured our Will returning
And we longed to clasp his hand.
But death has postponed our meeting
Until we meet in a better land.”
Picture courtesy of Donna Costello, great niece
Victoria Cross: 6895 Company Sergeant Major, John Kendrick Skinner, VC, DCM, Croix de Guerre (France),
1st Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers, killed 17/03/1918. Plot XIII. H. 15. Son of Walter Skinner; husband of Annie E. Y. Skinner, of 173, St. Andrew's Rd., Pollokshields, Glasgow. Native of Glasgow.
Citation: An extract from the Second Supplement to the London Gazette dated 14th Sept., 1917, recording the award of V.C., reads- "For most conspicuous bravery and good leading. Whilst his company was attacking, machine gun fire opened on the left flank, delaying the advance. Although C.S.M. Skinner was wounded in the head, he collected six men, and with great courage and determination worked round the left flank of three blockhouses from which the machine gun fire was coming, and succeeded in bombing and taking the first blockhouse single-handed; then, leading his six men towards the other two blockhouses, he skilfully cleared them, taking sixty prisoners, three machine guns, and two trench mortars. The dash and gallantry displayed by this warrant officer enabled the objective to be reached and consolidated."
The Life and Times of Oswald Leslie Jennings Steel
by Christopher Albertson
Oswald Leslie Jennings Steel was born on August 7th 1883 in Newcastle, New South Wales. He was the eldest child of Oswald Gleghorn and Elizabeth Ann Steel (nee Jennings). He had two siblings, a brother Cecil and a sister Essie. Oswald studied Physics and Chemistry at Sydney University, now known as the University of Sydney and became a teacher at Cleveland Street Public, where he was a Science Master. He was a talented musician and led his choir in a leading part in the welcome to the officers and men of the American fleet at Sydney Town Hall in 1908, he himself at the grand organ. On October 16th 1907 he married Bertha Amy Hooker in Paddington, Sydney and they had three children, Beryl, Leslie and Geoffrey.
Oswald enlisted in Sydney as an officer in the AIF on September 23rd 1914 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on October 31st. He had previously done three years commissioned service with the Senior Cadets and at his time of enlistment was serving as the Battery Captain of the 17th Battery, Australian Fortress Artillery. He was initially posted to the 15th Battery, 5th Australian Field Artillery, AIF.
On December 22nd 1914 he embarked with the 1st Reinforcement to the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column from Melbourne aboard HMAT Borda, and joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on April 4th 1915. He was among the first to land at ANZAC Cove and served at Gallipoli with the 1st Field Artillery and later at Cape Helles. Oswald was commissioned to make sketches of the enemy trenches from the forward observation trenches some miles in advance of the main line. Whilst there his communication lines were cut, his three companions killed and he was not rescued until four days later with no company but their bodies. By this time he was stricken with enteric and sent back to Australia for three months convalescence. During his recovery period in Australia he performed the role of Acting Adjutant to the artillery camp at National Park, although he was under no obligation to do this. On July 1st 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Once Oswald was fit enough to return to duty, he re-embarked with his younger brother Cecil, a Corporal. They embarked together with the 5th Field Artillery from Sydney on November 18th 1915 aboard HMAT Persic, where they disembarked in Egypt on December 21st. Oswald was promoted to Captain in March of 1916 and later was transferred to the 15th Field Artillery headquarters as Adjutant, arriving in France with his unit on June 24th. He served at headquarters until being transferred to the 57th Battery in the field on December 31st. On February 2nd 1917 he was temporarily attached to the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column, and on March 17th he was placed in temporary command on No.1 Section of the 5th DAC. In early June 1917 was placed in temporary command of the entire 5th Divisional Ammunition Column of the British Expeditionary Force.
He was taken on strength with the 14th Field Artillery on July 29th 1917, when the 5th DAC was absorbed into the 14th Field Artillery. It was a move which ultimately cost Oswald his life eight days later. Tragically, Oswald died only a few hours before his 34th birthday, when a shell destroyed his dugout. His CO reported that Oswald “was killed at 55th Battery position off Menin Road in front of Ypres at about 9pm on August 6th 1917. A shell penetrated the dugout occupied by this officer, totally destroying the dugout and killing all occupants immediately.” Oswald and his two fellow officers who were killed with him, Lieutenant Joseph Hopper and Captain Frank Edward Gatliff, were buried side by side at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, 2¾ miles west of Ypres the following day, Oswald’s 34th birthday, by Chaplain Reverend P.S. Moore. At the time of his death Oswald was in command of the New South Wales detachment of his division in the field.
Oswald left behind his wife Bertha and children Beryl, Leslie and Geoffrey, who was only just 3 months old when Oswald embarked for the war. His brother Cecil also served in the 14th Field Artillery in July and August of 1917, and was in the unit at the time of Oswald’s death. Cecil survived the war despite being wounded in action and was discharged in 1919 with the rank of Battery Quartermaster Sergeant.
The graves of 7 men of the Royal Garrison Artillery, all killed on 03/08/1917, the grave of Thomas Harcus is 2nd left and his cousin Andrew is 2nd right.
95th Siege Battery
Royal Garrison Artillery
03/08/1917, aged 27.
Son of Andrew and Jessie Harcus; husband of Frances Harcus, of Dogtoo, Westray, Orkney. Native of Tirlot, Westray.
Plot V. B. 39.
A group of men from the Royal Garrison Artillery, all of whom hailed from Orkney, Thomas Harcus is pictured 3rd left and Andrew Harcus, 2nd right.
95th Siege Battery
Royal Garrison Artillery
03/08/1917, aged 32.
Husband of Ellen Rendall, he left two children and was a native of Westray, Orkney
Plot V. B. 39
All pictures courtesy of Brian Budge of Orkney
"A Sturdy Wooden Cross"
Guy S. Ellis
by Nicholas Young
Guy S. Ellis
Royal Flying Corps
12/07/1917, aged 19.
Plot I. G. 2
Guy Ellis in the uniform if the Artists' Rifles and as a child with his brother
Born in Hull on 24th May 1898, GUY ELLIS was studying for his Intermediate Civil Service exam when, on 29th September 1915, he joined the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles) at Dukes Road W.C. at the age of seventeen years 4 months. The medical showed that he was 5’ 7.5" with a 37" chest. His physical development was described as "fair".
Appointed Lance Corporal on 22nd April 1916, Guy had been languishing at Hare Hall Camp in Romford, Essex. He decided to apply for admission to an officer cadet unit with a view to getting a temporary commission for the duration of the war.
Question 3. "State in order of preference which branch of the Service......"
Guy wrote "Flying Corps" without hesitation.
His specific qualifications for the R.F.C. were considered by the selection board: "Rides a motorcycle (though not a horse); can sketch; slight knowledge of electricity; moderate knowledge of the internal combustion engine; knows the whole process of photography; had map reading course; maths 6 books of Euclid, Mechanics, Trigonometry, Algebra. Sports: first XI cricket and football at school; boxing; running (100 yds., ¼ mile, 220 yds., 120 yds., hurdles and high jump. Speaks French slightly".
Not perfect qualifications for a pilot perhaps, but knowledge of photography would be useful for an observer.
Guy was accepted at No.1 Officer Cadet Battalion at Denham in Bucks on 6th September 1916. From Denham, he was posted to Oxford reporting for duty there on 13th November.
He received his commission on 27th January 1917. The fact was noted in the London Gazette on 3rd February.
Holding the rank of temporary 2nd Lieutenant, he was seconded to 57 squadron stationed near Ypres. Here Guy settled down to the harrowing life of a young flying officer on active service. For most it was a pitifully short life, relieved only by drinking and joking in the mess in between sorties.
In July 1917 a new offensive at Ypres was planned. The aim was twofold; to break through the German lines and reach their submarine bases in Belgium, and to relieve the Russian army in the east.
The RFC was playing a significant role in the build up both in combat and in reconnaissance. On 11th July, some two weeks before the battle began, an allied air offensive involving 700 aircraft began. The following day, Thursday, one of these aircraft took off with Guy Ellis in the rear as observer. When he returned, he would have to think about settling his mess bill, now standing at £1-5-8.
It is not known whether it was a fighter or ground fire that hit Guy’s plane, but as it plummeted towards earth, the one thing that might have saved him was a parachute. But it was not policy to give airmen parachutes, "...possession of a parachute might impair a pilot’s nerve when in difficulties so that he would make improper use of his parachute…", was the official view.
And so 19 year old Guy was dead. The odds were stacked against him anyway, for by now the life expectancy of a junior officer in a front line squadron was anything from eleven days to three weeks.
Guy found his final resting place at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery in Belgium, "a sturdy wooden cross" marking the spot.
Pictures and text courtesy of Nicholas Young, Guy was his mothers cousin
George Henry Trull
Royal Field Artillery
Plot IX. E. 11.
Picture courtesy of great nephew John Eeley
76th Siege Bty.
(90th Heavy Artillery Group)
Royal Garrison Artillery
30/06/1917, aged 31.
Plot III. D. 4
Picture courtesy of grandson Brian Tucker