The ‘Hull Pals’
Responding to a personal call from Lord Kitchener, Lord Nunburnholme, also known as Charles Wilson, Hull's Liberal MP, proposed that a Hull Commercial Battalion be raised from local clerks, teachers and businessmen.
Recruitment of the 10th 'Commercial' Hull Pals began in September 1914, at 22 Pryme Street. By the 2nd September, 100 men had joined from Reckitts and many more from local firms in Hull. A new recruiting office was opened at 217 Holderness Road. By the 8th September, the 'Hull Commercials' had been recruited and were based at the Wenlock Barracks, on Anlaby Road.
As men continued to enlist it was decided to form a 'Trades' Battalion, consisting of local welders, and joiners etc. The 11th Hull 'Tradesman' Pals battalion was recruited at Hull's City Hall, within three days, and based at the cricket pavilion on Anlaby Road. (now the site of the KC stadium). On the 12th September, Mr Francis Stabnley Jackson, a Yorkshire cricketer, who had served in the Boer War, addressed a meeting at the Artillery Barracks, on Park Street, in Hull. He appealed directly to sportsmen and sports enthusiasts to fill the ranks of a new 12th Hull (Sportsman) Battalion. On October 3rd 1914, the 'Sportsmen' Battalion was recruited. Based in the Park Street barracks, the 'sportsmen' carried out early drills in Pearson Park.
Recruitment for Hull's 4th Pals battalion, began on the 16th November 1914. It was known locally as the Hull 'T'Others' battalion, because it recruited any able-bodied man regardless of their class and trade. Unlike the other three battalions, the 4th Hull Pals which became the 13th EYR, had no permanent barracks or orderly room, and their drills were carried out in the City's Market Square or on Hull Fair Ground, at Walton Street. Hull also formed a 5th 'Bantam Pals' battalion made up of 300 volunteers, who were between 4 foot 10 and 5 foot 3 inches in height. In total, Hull provided 70,000 men for Britain's Armed Forces, during the war, including 6,250 pals who signed up to fight for their country. The fiveHull Pal regiments from a population of 280,000, was more than many other City's. It was more than Manchester which had a population of half a million. Barnsley and Bradford raised two Pal regiments. Leeds, Halifax, Grimsby and Sheffield sent one each. Hull therefore showed a real enthusiasm for the war.
Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-yorkshire/heritage/world-war-one/homefront/hull-pals-who-fought-side-by-side-1-6611780(Below is a photograph of Hull Pals at Wenlock Barracks-1914).
This interesting account of training in one of the Kitchener Battalions was sent in to the North Eastern Railway Magazine in 1915 by two staff members who had joined the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment
"Seven Months in the New Army.
By F. S. IVES, Dist. Supt's. Office, Hull, and N. T. METCALF, Dock Supt.'s Office, Hull.
" WHY should we not join the Army ?" It seems more than a period of seven months since we stood in the office discussing the war, and the above question was put to us by a young fellow clerk. Fully two minutes elapsed before anyone spoke and then another member of the group remarked: " Well! what is there to stop us ? The company will guarantee our positions should we be spared to return and at the present time it is certainly our duty to do our ' bit.'" However, all present appeared to be very reticent and apparently were turning the matter well over in their minds before venturing to express an opinion. A little serious thought brought us to the conclusion that we really ought to go, and Monday,September 7, saw our party of eight at the recruiting station, in grand spirits and fervently hoping the doctor would certify us as " fit."
We were not pointed and we were quickly through enlistment formalities, along with scores of other city young men in straw hats, caps and every variety of " Knutty" attire, all eagerly intent on taking a place in the great game of war our country had been" forced" into.Next morning, we fell into the barrack parade ground. We are afraid we hardly realised on that beautiful summer's day the strenuous nature of the life we had laid down our pens to embark upon, although during the first week or two we had what is familiarly known as a soft time. After a short period of training, comprising Swedish drill, section, platoon and company drill, route marching and elementary musketry, we donned the now prevalent khaki, and, oh! what a struggle we had with our puttees that first morning and with what feelings of exuberance we set out on the first route march in our uniforms and army boots. At our popular major's command of " Form fours" that day we brought an amused smile to his calm, stern face by the clank of our iron-clad heels. The middle of November saw the battalion moved at an hour's notice to a small seaside town on the east coast, to combine training with coast defence.
Shall we ever forget that dark November night when, after arriving at the railway station, we were marched 2 miles along a country road and then turned off on to a veritable quagmire, which we saw next morning was to be our future headquarters ? Blankets were served out to us and we were placed 30 in a. hut, to reach which, mud, fully 18 in. deep, had to be negotiated. Within a few days, however, the combined efforts of officers and men saw things put into ship-shape form and we soon made ourselves quite at home.
We quickly realised that army life was much different from the civil life we had been accustomed to. " Reveille" blows now at 6 a.m., at which time the stentorian voice of the sergeant is heard calling, " Show a leg there, show a leg," accompanied by the clanging of a stick on the nearest form, and if the afore-mentioned limb does not make a timely appearance the sleepy member's boards are dragged from underneath him and he has no option but to tumble out. Blankets, palliasses, bed-boards and tressles are quickly arranged in regulation fashion, and, after a hasty wash, coffee and biscuits are served and a few minutes to 7 o'clock the sergeant's voice is again heard calling: " Fall in for the run ! Come on, let's be having you outside." A distance of 2 or 3 miles is covered, alternate running and walking for which the men turn out in light sandshoes, trousers and shirts. Cook-house blows at 7.45 a.m. and the orderlies, detailed from each section, can then be seen -making their way to the various hutswith the food provided for breakfast—porridge, bacon, sausages, kippers, haddocks or eggs. Breakfast over, each company falls in independently for collective training, and for the first hour Swedish drill and bayonet fighting are indulged in, to be followed by semaphore signalling, musketry, knotting, &c. Dinner (usually roast beef, potatoes and beans, with a rice or bread pudding) is served at 12.45 p.m., and the afternoon is devoted to trench digging or company drill. One of the chief features of our training is the attacking of flagged enemies across the fields. The tea bugle blows at 4.45 p.m., and after the meal of jam and marmalade, stewed fruit, butter and bread, the men are free (unless on special duties) to leave barracks until roll call at 10 p.m., "Lights out" being sounded at 10.15 p.m.
Tuesday afternoon is devoted to cross-country running, Thursday afternoon is set apart for football and other outdoor games and Saturday afternoon is a half-day holiday. Wednesday is " battalion " day, i.e., the whole battalion is taken out by the commanding officer, either for a route march of between 20 and 30 miles or training in " battle formation." Dinner on this day is served about 4 p.m.
A few words here on bayonet fighting will" no doubt interest the reader, who, assuredly, will have gathered from the Press that British superiority in this method of close fighting is playing a predominant part in the present campaign. In the elementary stage the recruit is taught how to handle his rifle with fixed bayonet quickly and easily without strain. He is shown how to adopt the " On guard " position, pointing and parrying in any direction and also the method of shortening arms, which is used to extract the bayonet cleanly after a point has been made. The instructor impresses upon recruits the vital importance of quickness of movement both in dealing with an opponent and at the same time guarding oneself. After thoroughly mastering the elements of bayonet fighting, instruction is given in using the butt, knee, trip, &c., and in order to demonstrate more clearly the reality of the business recruits are paired off, and, after donning protective gear for the head and body, fight each other with spring bayonets, under the guidance of the instructor, who points out to the class the varied faults of the combatants. Finally, practice in taking trenches at the point of the bayonet is indulged in, sacks representing the enemy.
During the past winter, patrol work has been an unenviable task, but now that the days are lengthening and the ground has dried up it is becoming quite a pleasant duty, and sunrise viewed from the cliff tops is a sight well worth watching.
With plenty of outdoor exercise, plenty to eat and nothing to worry about, the men are as happy as schoolboys, and when on parade are singing and whistling all the latest songs. Each hut has it favourite humorist, whose witty remarks are the signal for loud outbursts of boisterous laughter. The latest newspapers of the day can be seen at the regimental reading room, and here, also, the men can write home to their friends and relatives, writing tables and a plentiful supply of paper being provided free of charge. At the Institute the men can also have every thing they are in need of at a reasonable price, and every Wednesday night a whist drive is held and on Friday nights a concert given."
The Hull Pals were sent to Egypt to protect the Suez canal in December 1915 and were posted to France in March 1916. They had a lucky escape on the First day of the battle of the Somme when their scheduled attack on Serre was called off at last the last moment. Ironically, their chance came in the same place on 13th November 1916 when the Hull Sportsmen and Hull T'others attacked Serre and lost 800 men. Jack Cunningham of the Hull Sportsmen won a Victoria Cross for capturing a trench. On 3rd May 1917, the 10th, 11th and 12th Hull Pals attacked together at Oppy Wood. This was to become known as Hull's battle. Another Hull Pal, Jack Harrison, of the Hull Commercials, died silencing a machine gun, and was also awarded the Victoria cross. The Hull Pals suffered appalling losses at Oppy Wood, but succeeded in diverting German forces away from the main attack at Arras. The Hull Pals were never the same after Oppy Wood. The Hull Pals were reformed and merged with enlistments from other areas drafted in, to make up the numbers. The Hull Pals final contribution in the war, was a valiant stand in Spring 1918 when they held up the German advance at Amiens. They provided just enough time for the Australians to reinforce the defence.
Recruitment Scenes 1914 -18. Photos courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.
During December 1914 each battalion was numbered in sequence with the rest of the East Yorkshire Regiment. As a result :-
- the 1st Hull 'Commercials' became the 10th (Service) Battalion
- the 2nd Hull 'Tradesmen' became the 11th (Service) Battalion
- the 3rd Hull 'Sportsmen' became the 12th (Service) Battalion
- and the 4th Hull (T'Others') became the 13th (Service) Battalion
By the end of 1914, Hull had raised four Pal battalions, each with 1,050 men. It also raised a fifth local reserve battalion, to provide replacements for the others. This latter battalion was locally known as the 5th Hull 'Bantams' Battalion. The name 'Bantam' came from the type of small, agressive Chickens, for according to the Kingston-Upon Hull, Peace Souvenir, the 5th Hull Pals Battalion was 'largely composed of men of smaller stature, but big hearts'. In all some 6,000 Hull men joined the 'Hull Pals' regiments.
Once recruited, the Hull Pals joined the 92nd Brigade of the 31st Divison. They trained around local parks, town squares and playing fields. Some went to Hornsea guarding against the threat of a German invasion. Others went to Penkridge Bank Camp near Rugeley, and then on to South Camp, Ripon and Hardcott Camp near Salisbury. The 4th East Yorkshires were the first to see action at Ypres in April 1915. The 6th East Yorkshires were badly mauled at Gallipoli between April and August 1915. In December 1915 the Hull Pals sailed for Alexandria in Egypt to defend the Suez Canal. In March 1916, they sailed from Port Said, for Marseilles, a journey that took five days. Then, they took the journey North by train, to Port Remy, close to Abbeville, before marching to Bertrancourt and then, to the front line, facing the impregnable German defence at the village of Serre. Several Pal battalions suffered heavy casualties here on the 13th November 1916, and this is where Jack Cunningham, was awarded Hull's first Victoria Cross. Later in 1917, the Pals were heavily involved in the Battle of Arras. They again suffered many casualties at Oppy Wood on the 3rd May 1917, where Jack Harrison was also awarded the Victoria Cross. (In 1927 the village of Oppy errected a memorial to the 'Hull Pals') Towards the end of the war, the 'Hull Pals' fought at St Quentin and then back on the Somme, where they helped hold up the German Offensive and advanced to victory.
The Lord Mayor of Hull welcomed the soldiers home: "We welcome you home to your wives and families and your friends. Our deliverance is due to you, for your heroic conduct amidst great danger. You have offered to lay down your lives for our Country’s service and the sacrifices made are held in honour. We regret there are many who will not return and our sympathies go to those who have to mourn their loss."
The Hull Pals were ordinary people caught up in momentous events. The men had faith in each other and in their officers that led them. This combined with a belief that victory would come eventually, bound them together into a tight-knit fighting force. This spirit continued, even when their numbers were depleted and the regiments were reorganised. The Hull Pals had a bond that was due to their powerful sense of local identity, and this sprang from the way they were raised. They had a sympathy and awareness, that was of great value when they faced danger together: These men were all volunteers, and not conscripts or national service men. As such the Hull Pals fought as a family unit from the beginning and not as a mere collection of men.
(The picture above, right, is of Joseph Thorlander, a travelling saleman, and the first man from Hull to volunteer for the Hull's pal regiment in 1914. He was was born in Sculcoates in 1883 and was discharged from service , with sickness in 1918.)
THE ATTACK AT SERRE, 13TH NOVEMBER 1916
Serre was a hamlet on the most northern point of the 15 mile Somme offensive. - It overlooked the British lines which were along the line of the 'Gospel' copses in a valley 200 yards wide and 500 yards from the Serre. The Germans turned Serre into a fortified village: it was surrounded by a four deep trench system, the dugouts were 30 feet deep and the cellars were used as barracks. Steel was used in these constructions (where the BEF would typically have used wood). The barbed wire was arranged in such a way that 'false' V-shaped entrances were created which would draw attacking troops into the killing grounds for the German machine guns. -
The attack of the British Fifth Army against German First Army along the River Ancre between Thiepval and Beaumont Hamel took place on the 13th November 1916. It was the last large-scale British attack on the Somme before winter set in. The artillery barrage opened up on 11 November for 48 hours. Artillery tactics had improved since July and the heavier guns caused more damage to the German lines. At 0200 on the morning of the attack (13 November) a bell in Pusieux church rang a warning toll. At 0500 the first platoons of the attacking companies moved out into No Man's Land and found fog so thick that visibility was down to 1-2 yards. At 0530, Zero Hour, the attack started and the leading troops found their way into the German lines despite the thick, almost knee deep mud. Soon it was chaos, there was hand-to-hand fighting between British and Germans in the trenches. Germans were in front of and behind these leading companies. As the German artillery opened up on No Man's Land, troops trapped there were annihilated. By 0900 the fog had lifted and it slowly became obvious the attack had failed, and a withdrawal was ordered. A defensive flank from the battalions in 92 Brigade was formed at 1000. Two battalions (12th and 13th East Yorkshire) were sent forward and, despite being hit by British artillery, they managed to occupy the German front line and advance to the German third line. As the 3rd Division attack had failed, the East Yorkshire troops were isolated with open flanks. German counter-attacks pounded away at them all day while the German artillery barrage of No Man's Land cut them off from support. When night fell, the East Yorkshires withdrew. On the right' some of the 13th East Yorkshire regiment managed to get through into the reserve lines, being forced out later due to lack of support. The 11th East Yorkshire regiment attempted to come up in support, but the German retaliatory artillery bombardment was so heavy they found it impossible to cross No Man's Land. Several German counter-attacks were beaten off throughout the day, but with the lack of progress to the south isolating the forward parties, at 17.45pm the attack was called off and the men pulled back. The final party coming in about 21.30pm.
Private John Cunningham, 12th East Yorkshire regiment, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his action during the attack.
OPPY WOOD, 3rd May 1917 - The Hull Pals Attack
The Capture of Oppy Wood was an engagement, North East of Arras, between May and June 1917. The Germans were in possession of a fortified wood to the west of the village of Oppy, which overlooked British positions. The wood was 1-acre (0.40 ha) in area and contained many German observation posts, machine-guns and trench-mortars. The aim of the attack was to remove this defensive obstacle and divert German resources away from the main offensive, planned at Messines in early June 1917. In military terms, Oppy Wood was a diversionary attack, by the 92nd Brigade, of the 31st Division,during the Third Battle of the Scarpe (3–4 May). It was an attack on a half mile front, in unfavourable conditions, and against impenetrable German defences. It is also known as the Battle of Gavrelle. However, for the people of Hull, Oppy Wood, would be forever remembered as the place where the Hull Pals made their name. In fierce fighting around the village, Hull lost more men on the 3rd May 1917, than any other. The attack failed and the final casualties totalled 326.
The main British attacking forces in this battle were the 10th, 11th and 12th Battalions of the East Yorkshire Regiment, known as the ‘Hull Pals’. They advanced up a slope, in the dark, in four waves, over difficult terrain, illuminated by German rockets and Very Lights. They faced Oppy Wood, which was elaborately fortified, and defended by experienced German troops. They struggled forward over three belts of barb wire entanglements. Unable to keep pace with their barrage, and were exposed to murderous German machine gun fire. Despite this, the Hull Pals continued to advance. One company fought their way into Oppy village itself, while the rest were held up. After attacking three times, they were forced to withdraw under constant fire. During the action, 2nd-Lieut. John Harrison, of the 11th Battalion, silenced an enemy machine-gun post single handedly and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Preparations for the attack on Oppy began on the 1st May 1917. Officers and NCO’s of the 10th and 13th EYR, went forward to check the assembly positions and returned next morning to issue equipment for the advance. At 11pm on the 2nd May, the 11th and 12th EYR Battalions started to move to their assembly positions. The 10th EYR moved at 11.30pm. Start time for the attack was to be 3.45am on the 3rd May, with the 10th EYR positioned on the right flank, the 11th EYR in the centre and the 12th EYR on the left flank, all opposite Oppy Wood. A preliminary bombardment by nine Field Artillery Brigades and the use of extra machine guns was expected to cut the barb wire, neutralise all German resistance and leave the trenches intact for the Pals to occupy. In reality, this failed to happen for a number of reasons.
1. On the 28th and 29th April, the Battle of Arleux had been fought on the same battleground and the 13th EYR had suffered a number of casualties. The assembly positions which had been heavily shelled, offered little cover and debris from that battle littered the ground, hindering coordinated movement. The 10th EYR Battalion history records that the assembly trenches were “barely four feet deep, with no communications to the rear, nor any means of contact to left or right."
2. Oppy Wood was full of fallen trees and tangled branches which gave the enemy great cover. A long slope of 1,000m to the west, left the British field artillery at extreme range. This reduced its accuracy and largely failed to cut the enemy wire.
3. Oppy wood was a strongly defended position, guarded by experienced German soldiers. In front of Oppy Wood, lay a well organised trench system, protected by barb wire and good communications, which covered the Oppy wood and village from flanking attacks. The wood itself contained a large number of machine gun posts and all along the German lines, machine gun posts and mortars were well placed to repel any attack. The area was held by the 1st and 2nd German Guards, which the East Yorkshire Regimental history describes as, ‘some of the bravest of the enemy troops’. The Germans had strengthened the wood by developing defensive tactics learnt from the earlier Somme battles. The British had expected to encounter demoralised troops and thought that the creeping barrage would neutralise all resistance. However, some of the German wire at the south-western corner of the wood was uncut and rather than being shaken, the Germans were actually massing for a counter attack.
4. It was originally intended to make a night assault, to evade German machine-gun fire. However, the Third and First armies needed to attack in daylight and Douglas Haig enforced a compromise zero hour of 3:45 a.m. No preparations had been made for an advance at night, such as, putting out boards, luminous paint on the German wire, taking compass-bearings or organising intermediate objectives. Sunrise was not until 5:22 a.m. and it would not be possible to see objects in the dark, at 50 yards (46 m) until 4:05 a.m.
5. On the night of the attack, there was a full moon which did not set until sixteen minutes before the attack beagn. On many parts of the front, British troops assembling, were illuminated by the moon, exposing them to enemy fire. The 11th EYR war diary records “to get to the assembly positions, Companies had to go over the top of a rise within 1000 yards, with a moon low in the sky behind them.”
6. The German defenders saw the British infantry forming up in the moonlight, in an assembly trench just 250 yards (230 m) in front of them. At midnight, the German’s sent out a patrol and at 12:30 a.m., bombarded the British lines for twenty minutes. They then began a second bombardment from 1:30 a.m. until zero hour. The German bombardment then increased, when the British preliminary bombardment began and increased again when the attack started. The 11th EYR were laying out in the open, under a heavy bombardment, for over two hours. There were few British casualties, but the shelling caused considerable confusion, with A and D companies of the 11th EYR companies unable to form into their attacking positions.
The 13th East Yorkshire Diary records “Our barrage started at 3.45am advancing at a rate of 100 yards, every four minutes and the Battalion followed 50 yards behind the barrage. It was dark, from the smoke and dust caused by our barrage, and the hostile barrage, also the fact that we were advancing on a dark wood made it impossible to see when our barrage lifted off the German trench. Consequently the Hun had time to get his machine guns up. Machine guns were firing from within the wood from trees, as well as from the front trench, nevertheless the men went forward, attacked and were repulsed. Officers and NCO’s, reformed their men in No Man’s Land, under terrific fire and attacked again, and again were repulsed. Some even attacked a third time, some isolated parties got through the wood to OppyVillage and were reported there by aeroplanes at 6am. These men must have been cut off and surrounded later. The Battalion was so scattered and the casualties had been so heavy that it was decided to consolidate the only assembly trench we had when the battle started.” At 10pm the battalion was finally relieved by the 11th East Lancs and retired back to camp for a short rest. The 12th EYR, were also spotted moving up to their assembly trench and were heavily bombarded. Their War Diary writes: “The assembling took place in brilliant moonlight over quite unknown country and with four guides (from the 13th EYR). The enemy evidently saw the troops assembling and put up an intensive barrage followed by another one later. This considerably distinguished things and at zero hour, the blackest part of the night, the troops moved forward to the attack.” The first wave of the 12th EYR entered the German front line trench, which was strongly held, the second wave followed, but was forced to withdraw and eventually the first wave was beaten back out of the enemy line. Under heavy shell fire the 12th EYR to withdraw to their original assembly trench, where they remained all day, under heavy shelling and machine gun fire. They were later relieved during the night, on the 3rd/4th May, by the East Lancashire Regiment.
The 10th EYR also suffered a "tremendous" barrage on their assembly-positions, just before zero hour, which caused much disorganisation. The darkness in this area was increased by Oppy Wood itself and meant that the infantry could not see their barrage lift. The 10th EYR, on the right found areas of uncut wire and lost many casualties when they bunched up at the gaps, before reaching the wood. All four company commanders were wounded and the smoke and dust made it impossible to see what was going on at the flanks, and indeed obscured the objectives. The struggle to secure the German first line meant that the allied barrage had moved far ahead of the small parties that penetrated the German front trenches. A considerable number of men from the 10th EYR got into and beyond the first German line, some even penetrated OppyVillage itself. One gallant soldier even brought back eight German prisoners single handed. However it was impossible to get forward to consolidate the line. Survivors from the 10th EYR eventually withdrew to the original assembly trench where they started. Many troops were then cut off and captured, or forced back with many casualties. Many of the troops were stranded in 'No Man's land' and had to wait all day under fire from snipers, machine-guns and artillery until nightfall, before completing the retirement. The 10th EYR war diary found it difficult to give an accurate account of the battle. “A considerable number of men undoubtedly crossed the German line and got some way forward and possibly in places reached the first objective.” It was discovered after the war that the majority of the 10th Hull Commercials, who had been taken prisoner during the attack, had actually advanced as far as Oppy village itself.
The official figures from Battalion Diary records, report that the 'Hull Commercials' (10th EYR battalion) went into the attack with 16 Officers and 484 Other Ranks. Their losses were: 13 Officers and 223 Other Ranks. At least 69 men were killed on the 3rd May with an unknown number dying of wounds later. The 11th EYR suffered at least 56 fatalities on the 3rd May.
The 12th EYR reported two Officers and seven other ranks killed, 150 other ranks missing and one Officer and 127 other ranks wounded, plus one Officer dying of wounds. The 'Soldiers died in the Great War' records, list 81 other ranks killed in action on the 3rd May with the 12th EYR. The losses suffered by the 12th EYR, were so great, that they resulted in it being reformed into only two companies. The remnants of A & C companies were attached to the 10th EYR and the remains of Companies B and D were sent to the 11th EYR. Although the attack on Oppy Wood was repulsed with many British casualties, the operations did succeed in diverting German attention from the French front.
CWGC records show 223 men from the 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th East Yorkshire Regiment, died at Oppy Wood, on the 3rd May 1917. Another 53 men from the 8th EYR, died on the same day, attacking the village of Monchy, ten miles away from Oppy.
At least 123 of these 276 men, or 44.5% have a known Hull connection. Another 29 Hull men, also died on the 3rd May 1917, fighting for other regiments. This meant a total of153 Hull men were killed on the 3rd May 1917. They included 17 men from the 8th EYR, 44 from the 10th EYR, 30 from the 11th EYR, 29 from the 12th EYR and 3 from the 13th EYR, all killed on the 3rd May 1917.
There would be many others who later died of wounds received on this day.
The CWGC, records that 580 men of the East Yorkshire regiment died during May and June 1917, and 7,815 men from the East Yorkshire regiment killed in the war. Many of these men would have come from Hull and the East Riding, as seen by cross checking CWGC records, Soldiers Died records which show enlistment areas and the addresses of the dead compiled on this website.
Cadorna Trench Raid
The Hull Pals later carried out a successful raid on Cadorna Trench on the 23rd and 24th June 1917. The 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th EYR’s each supplied two Officers and 50 other ranks for the raid which was led by Lt, Col., Ferrand from the 11th EYR. The raid was on a 40 yard front, with 50 yards between each battalion that attacked with rifle and bombing sections. Zero Hour was 10.20pm with a heavy bombardment of the German trench, during which the raiders left their position in two lines. Immediately as the barrage lifted, the raiders rushed the German first and second lines. The raid captured 200 prisoners and killed some 280 enemy, destroying dugouts and machine guns on the way. The raid lost 24 men, including Captain Saville, Lieutenant Wright and 2/Lieutenants Cliff and Oliver killed. Another 16 men were killed in the raid with four dying of wounds later. Another 28 men returned from the raid wounded. Sergeant Marritt won the DCM, but was killed on the raid. Oppy Wood was eventually captured on the 28th June 1917, with the East Yorkshires offering assistance. The 10th EYR formed the reserve Brigade, the 11th EYR held the front line with two companies and the 13th EYR was used for carrying parties.
On 3 May, the 31st Division lost 1,900 casualties in the attack on Oppy Wood. The 2nd Division composite brigade had 517 losses, which left the division "bled white" with a "trench strength" of only 3,778 men. The Hull Commercials(10th battalion) went into the attack with 16 Officers and 484 Other Ranks. Their losses were: 13 Officers and 223 Other Ranks. The 11th and 12th Battalions, which also numbered men from Hull in their ranks, had similar losses. On 8 May, the 5th Bavarian Division lost 1,585 casualties in the counter-attack at Fresnoy. In the attack of 28 June the 31st Division lost 100 men and the 5th Division casualties were 352 men. Oppy wood was eventually captured on the 28th June 1917. The 10th EYR were held in reserve, the 11th EYR occupied the front line trenches and the 13th EYR were used as carrying parties.
* The units which attacked Oppy Wood were awarded the battle honour Oppy. A wood on the outskirts of North Hull, is named Oppy, as a War memorial to the Hull Pals involved in the battle on the 3rd and 4th May, 1917.
* On the 16th October 1932, the people of Hull and the Commune of Oppy, unveiled a permanent memorial at the scene of the battle. The ground of which the memorial stands was donated by the Vicomte and Vicomtesse du Bouexic de la Driennays in memory of their 22 year old son Pierre, an NCO of the French 504th Tank Regiment, who was killed in action at Guyencourt on 8 August 1918.
* Oppy Wood, was also immortalised in paint, by war artist John Nash. It is held at the Imperial War Museum (reference ART 2243) and is entitled "Oppy Wood, Evening, 1917". It is one of a series of paintings commissioned by the British War Memorial Committee set up by the Ministry of Information early in 1918 and is 2 metres high and wide. The lower half of the composition has a view inside a trench with duckboard paths leading to a dug-out. Two British infantrymen stand to the left of the dug-out entrance, one of them on the firestep looking over the parapet into No Man's Land. There is a wood of shattered trees littered with corrugated iron and planks at ground level to the right of the composition. The sky stretches above in varying shades of blue with a spectacular cloud formation framing a clear space towards the top of the composition.
The magnificent Oppy memorial, France, to the men of Kingston-upon-Hull and all local units, who gave their lives in the Great War: Many of the casualties of 31st Division, who died at Oppy, were from the Hull area.