Over, 7,500 Hull men died in the First World War. Over 1,200 of these were sailors working with the fishing fleet, or serving with the Merchantile Marine, the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy Reserve. They carried out vital war work, bringing in supplies, transporting troops and minesweeping the seas
There were nearly another 1,500 men who were born in Hull, but who lived elsewhere. They died fighting for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America. There are many others, who enlisted in Hull or who were associated with the City, but are not usually remembered on Hull war memorials. As Hull had four large hospitals and was the port of entry for repatriated prisoner of wars, servicemen from all over the world are buried in Hull. The Kingston Upon Hull Memorial aims to remember all those with a Hull connection who died in the First World War.
There are over a hundred families on the Hull Memorial that lost two or more of their family. Sometimes fathers, sons and brothers were lost on the same day. Some families lost three sons, other Hull families lost four sons, including all their children in the First World War. At least one in six Hull families lost a direct relative. Many others would lose close friends, work colleagues or others known to them. Each death was irreplaceable and an individual tragedy for someone.
Unfortunately, not all deaths were recorded in official casualty figures, particularly if soldiers died of sickness, accidents or were discharged home with wounds, of illness. By 1924 the Ministry of Pensions reported that there were 20,000 war wounded living in Hull. Although they survived the war, they are rarely recorded on war memorials. What follows here are snippets of some of those people who died, whose deaths were reported in the local newspapers.
The Gallipoli Campaign 1915
THE GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN - The East Yorkshire's fight at Tekke Teppe.
The Gallipoli Peninsula runs in a south-westerly direction into the Aegean Sea between the Hellesport (now known as the Dardanelles) and the bay of Melas, which today is known as Saros Bay. At the time of the First World War, this narrow sea strait was a direct route to the Russian Empire, but was controlled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, allied to Germany. In an attempt to break the deadlock on the Western Front, the Allies launched an ambitious attack on Gallipoli Peninsular on the 25th April 1915. They hoped that capturing the Dardanelles Straits would help supply Russia, defeat Turkey and encourage Greece and Bulgaria to join the allies in the war.
The allies invaded the Gallipoli Peninsular at several beaches. They were met by stiff Turkish resistance, which confined them to narrow beachheads. The Campaign fighting was fierce, attritional and largely static. The first two weeks alone at Gallipoli, saw a higher rate of allied casualties than the Battle of the Somme, when measured as a percentage of those committed. Forced to dig in around the shorelines, the Allies spent the next eight months trying to capture the high ground and break free from the Peninsular. Eventually, the Allies were forced to withdraw from Gallipoli on the 9th January 1916. The eight month Gallipoli Campaign was a famous Turkish victory, costly to both sides. The Allied campaign was plagued by ill-defined goals, poor planning, insufficient artillery, inexperienced troops, inaccurate maps and intelligence, overconfidence, inadequate equipment and logistics, and tactical deficiencies at all levels. Geography also proved a significant factor with the Turks holding the higher ground. Over 131,000 men were killed during the 8 month Gallipoli Campaign. The Allies lost some 250,000 men, including 140,000 men through disease. Turkish casualties were estimated to be at least 280,000, with 86,000 killled. Gallipoli is best remembered for forging the National identity of Australia and New Zealand who suffered severely there, and for the remarkable evacuation of the Peninsular, which was achieved with the loss of only one life.
Links The Gallipoli Campaign http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallipoli_Campaign
The Gallipoli campaign has been keenly debated over the last century. Some believe it was a poorly planned exercise that failed in Whitehall, long before any serviceman set foot on the peninsular. Others argue that the campaign could have been successful, but may have made little difference to the main struggle on the Western Front. We can only speculate. However, history has largely overlooked how close ‘D’ company and HQ Battalion, of the 6th East Yorkshire Regiment, came to winning the campaign on the 8th and 9th Aug 1915. They failed (despite claims otherwise). The following is an interesting and little known episode in the Gallipoli story.
8th - 9th August 1915 – The 6th East Yorkshire Assault on Tekke Tepe Hill
Tekke Tepe, is a hill about 800ft in height, in the centre of a series of ridges disposed, roughly in the shape of a horseshoe and enclosing Suvla Bay. General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, maintained that capturing this hill was crucial to succeed at Gallipoli. The 6th East Yorkshire Battalion landed at Gallipoli in the early hours of the 7th August 1915, with 22 Officers and 750 other ranks. (Three Officers and 153 men had been left in reserve at Imbros). Their attack on Tekke Tepe, is vividly recorded in the 6th (Pioneer) Battalion East Yorkshire War Diary, which is with the 11th Divisional Diaries. (This diary is easy to miss as it is not part of the line Battalion War Diary bundles. It is included in the Division papers, as the Pioneers were technically Divisional troops, although it seems they were attached to the 32nd Brigade for this operation). Capt. V Kidd, Adjutant of the 8th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regt (West Ridings), also recorded the event in his personal account, which is an appendix to the 8th Battalion War Diary notes. Also the 6th Battalion York & Lancs. Regiment War Diary, records the Turks' attack over Tekke Tepe.
8th Aug 1915. Orders were received to join the 32nd Brigade with the WEST YORKS on our left, to attack and hold a position running from CHOCOLATE HILL to SULAJIK 105 C 6. The records of these orders have been lost. The Battalion advanced B [Coy] on the left under Major, BRAY, D [Coy] on the right under Capt GRANT, C [Coy] in second line and A [Coy] in reserve. Lt Col, MOORE advanced with the 1st line. At first no opposition was met with, but occupying the ridge which joins up with CHOCOLATE HILL and was about W by S from ANAFARTA SAGIR heavy firing was encountered. (Margin: Ref to ANAFARTA SAGIR sheet 1:20,000 Gallipoli Map 105 C 6) Capt ROGERS was killed and shortly afterwards Major, ESTRIDGE was wounded in the arm. The Turks employed numerous snipers and shot particularly at our men as they went for water at a well. Parties were sent out, but were unable to find them. The position was entrenched on the reverse slope during the day and further forward during the night. Two officer's patrols were sent out during the evening: At about11:30 pm orders were received for the Battalion to retire to the points held by the WEST RIDING Regt and to occupy and improve a Turkish trench there. 11:30 pm. The orders have been lost. The men were tired and exhausted and short of water moving often in the dark led to equipment being mislaid.
9th Aug 1915. We found the West Riding Regiment in a vacant Turkish Trench at about 1:30 am. After some confusion getting the men into the trench in the dark, orders (lost) were received at 3:30 a.m. (late in reaching us) to deliver an attack (orders lost) on TEKKE TEPE (Sheet 119 O2) the West Riding Regt was to attack KAVALA TEPE (Sheet 119 C7) on our left. The men were at this stage in a state of extreme exhaustion and hunger. The Battalion moved northwards out of the trench in the following order D, C, B, A after passing SULAJIK we took a NE route crossing the dry beds of the streams.
Verbal orders had been given by Lt Col Moore that in the attack D and B Companies should form the first line (D on the left, B on the right) A Coy (Capt WILLATS) the second line and C Coy (now under Capt PRINGLE) the reserve. LtCol, MOORE was with D Coy. The other three companies due to the extreme exhaustion of the men and absence of explicit orders failed to keep in touch with D Coy who proceeded to advance up the lower slopes of the hill without waiting for B Coy to come into position on their right or for the other two companies to get into place. D Coy with LtColMOORE and 2 Lt STILL (Acting Adjutant) and HQ party seemed to have encountered no opposition at first.
It was only when they were up the first shoulder (Sheet 119 L4) that the strength of the enemy was disclosed. Fire was poured in from concealed Turkish trenches and our men were unable to hold their ground. There was considerable confusion due to the rapid advance of D Coy and the fact that the other Companies had lost touch. D Coy suffered heavily. Capt GRANT had been wounded in the hand early in the engagement – Lt Col MOORE, 2 Lt STILL, Capt ELLIOTT, Lt RAWSTORNE, 2 Lt WILSON were all missing when what remained of the Coy fell back. A general retirement took place during which there was much mixing of units due to the Battalion failing to keep its formation. After two other stands had been made in conjunction with the West Riding Regt a line was eventually taken up along a line running N from (Sheet 118 V6). Reinforcements came up here and about 13:00 the Battalion was relieved and ordered to concentrate at the cut on A Beach (Sheet 104 B1). All orders and dispatches relating to these are lost as the orderly who carried them is missing……[A long list of Officer casualties follows] Other Ranks: Killed 20, Wounded 104, Wounded and Missing 28, Missing 183.This night the battalion bivouacked on 'A' Beach near the cut."
The withdrawal of the East Yorkshires of the night of 8th August was difficult. There was no moon and it was pitch dark. It was almost impossible to find equipment and assemble the battalion quickly to move off to Sulajik. All the time, the Turks continued their fire on theEast Yorkshire, while they moved back and reached the position in the early hours. The East Yorkshire soldiers on arrival at 1.30am, dropped with exhaustion. Between 3 and 3.30am, all Company Commanders were suddenly ordered to report to the Colonel. They were told that the 6th East Yorkshire Regiment had received orders to seize the very high hill above Anafarta (Tekke Tepe).
The West Ridings would attack another hill on the left (Kavak Tepe). As the orders had arrived late, the battalion had to move off immediately. The men in a state of exhaustion, thirsty and hungry had to be pulled out of their trenches. Colonel HGA Moore started off with HQ and D companies. When the three remaining companies assembled they found Colonel Moore, their Commanding Officer had gone ahead. In crossing the open space between the trenches at Sulajik and the foot of the hill, little or no opposition was encountered. Two officers of the 67th Field Company Royal Engineers, Major F.W. Brunner and Lt. V.Z. Ferranti accompanied Lt Col. Moore. Lt Ferranti was ordered to wait and follow up with the next company of East Yorkshires that came along. The group split into three parties Col Moore., Maj. Brunner and 2 Lt Still, with one party, Capt. Steel with another and Capt. Elliott with the third. As they reached the lower slopes of the hill north of Baka Baba, the rifle fire from the snipers became more insistent. They carried on up Tekke Tepe, the casualties becoming more serious. Major Brunner was killed and many others shot down. The survivors, Col. Moore and 2nd Lt. Still leading, reached the summit along with Capt., Elliot, Lt., Rawstone and between 12 and 30 men. They were cut off by the advancing Turks and the survivors, five in number, including Mr. Still, were captured.
This little party of East Yorkshire men and Engineers achieved the brilliant feat of reaching a position, farther east on the heights above Suvla Bay than any other troops in the entire campaign. Of the 750 men in the 6th (Pioneer) East Yorkshire Battalion, 347, or roughly 46% had become casualties in just 3 days. Officer casualties were 15, or 75% of those who landed on 7th August. They included two Officers killed in action; five wounded; six 'Missing in Action' and 2 'Wounded and Missing'. Most of those 'Missing in Action' at Gallipoli were actually killed. Searching this website shows that 47 men, killed with the 6th Yorkshires came from Hull, and ten others died on the 9th August 1915 at Suvla Bay, fighting for New Zealand, the West Ridings and other regiments.
After the War, all captured British Officers were required to make a written statement to the War Office, about the events surrounding their capture. Capt R D Elliott, 6th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment captured at Tekke Tepe recounted how they reached the top of hill. Another account by Lieutenant, John Still wrote. “About thirty of us reached the top of hill, perhaps a few more. And when there were about twenty left we turned and went down again. We had reached the highest point and furthest point that British forces from SuvlaBay were destined to reach. But we naturally knew nothing of that.
General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, wrote in his War Diary, that Tekke Tepe was the key hill, overlooking Suvla Bay. He believed British troops had actually reached the summit of the hill on August 9, and that, had they been given proper support, victory was in sight. However, until 1923 he had no definite evidence to confirm his belief. In October 1923, he received a letter printed in The Times, (on 30th October 1923), from Mr. John Still, a tea planter in Ceylon, who had been adjutant of the 6thBattalion East Yorkshire Regiment, a unit of the 32 Brigade, during the Suvla operations. He gave details of his own experiences on Tekke Tepe as follows:-.
“I was the only officer on that hill who had spent years in jungle and on hills and was in consequence able to appreciate things accurately. We had been ordered to take up that position on the map and we took it up. I fixed our exact position by prismatic compass. We fought all day there and had a good few casualties including two officers (or three), and then we were taken off again at night "because the regiments to right and left of you have not been able to get up". That was the night of August 8. On our right were a Sergeant and two men only of another regiment, lost and re-found by us. I forget their unit, but I can still see the identifying mark on their backs in my mind's eye: it was a sort of castle in yellow. Beyond them there was a gap right away to Chocolate Hill. On our left was not as you state another regiment, but only a weak half company of the West Yorkshires with two officers of whom one was killed, and the other – Davenport– severely wounded. And this left us in the air. Your orders given to General Stopford at 6pm never reached us on Scimitar Hill. Why? They knew where we were, for I was in touch by day with Brigade H.Q. signalers on Hill 10 or close to it. By night I lost contact for both my lamps failed me. As you justly say, anyone with half an eye could see Tekke Tepe was the key to the whole position. Even I, a middle-aged amateur who had done a bit of big game shooting and knocking about saw it at once. We reconnoitered it, sent an officer and my signaler corporal to climb it, and got through to Brigade H.Q. the message giving our results. I sent it myself. The hill was then empty. Next morning you saw or heard that troops had actually reached the top of Tekke Tepe. Yes they had. A worn and weak company, D Company, of my regiment, together with my Colonel (Moore). Major Brunner, of the Royal Engineers., and myself started up that hill. About thirty got to the top: of them five got down again to the bottom, and of those three lived to the end of the war. I was one of them. You wonder why we did not 'dig in' (pages 78 and 79 of your Volume II) as we had lots of time. There, Sir is where that war was lost. You sent a Brigade at that empty hill on the afternoon of the 8th. Actually, owing to staff work being so bad, only a battalion received orders to attack, and they did not receive those orders until dawn on the 9th. I received them myself as adjutant. The order ran to this effect: "The C.-in-C. considers this operation essential to the success of the whole campaign". The order was sent out on the late afternoon of the 8th, when we were on Scimitar Hill. It reached us at dawn on the 9th in a Turkish trench at Sulejik. In the meanwhile, for those hours more precious to the world than we even yet can judge, the Brigade Major was lost! Good God why didn't they send a man who knew the country? He was lost, lost, lost and it drives one almost mad to think of it. Excuse Me. Next morning (from the order) at dawn on the 9th you saw some of our fellows climbing cattle tracks. You don't place them exactly where I think you really saw them, but as I know, there were none just precisely where you say you saw them, I am pretty certain it was us you saw from the ship, only we were half a mile north of where you describe.Then we climbed Tekke Tepe.Simultaneously the Turks attacked through the gap from Anafarta. Their attack cut in behind D Company and held back the rest of the battalion who fought in the trench, with the Duke of Wellington's on their left. We went on, and, as I said, not one of us got back again. A few were taken prisoner. I was slightly wounded, and stayed three years and three months as a prisoner. Later that morning we who survived were again taken up Tekke Tepe by its northern ravine on the west side. Turkish troops were simply pouring down it and the other ravines. On the top of Tekke Tepe were four field guns camouflaged with boughs of scrub oak, and a Brigade H.Q. was just behind the ridge. I had a few minutes conversation there with the Turkish Brigadier in French. But I am coming home on leave in March or April next. May I have the honour of meeting you and going over it on the map?I think much might be cleared up that was still obscure when you wrote your book. There are one or two things one prefers not to write.Please let me know your wishes in this matter. I loved your book and I want to do any small thing possible to complete your picture. Yours truly (Signed) JOHN STILL, Victoria Commemoration Buildings, Nos: 40 and 41 Ward Street, Kandy, Ceylon Sept 19.
Second Lieutenant, James Theodore Underhill, was a 22 year old, adjutant serving with the 6th East Yorkshire Battalion at Galipolli and was the Signaler at Tekke Tepe. His letter to the Times, published 14thFebruary 1925, recounts the following”....Being a qualified land surveyor, and experienced in the use and construction of maps and the knowledge of the country, I was well able to keep notes of our positions and was the officer mentioned in your letter who took the patrol up Tekke Tepe. In fact I still have your signal corporal’s field glasses which I took from him while on the hill, my own being smashed by a rifle bullet whilst using them on this patrol. My report disagrees with your letter in a few minor details – for instance while on Scimitar Hill, the 9th West Yorkshires were on our left, as I was actually speaking with their officers on their own right flank, but they were withdrawn before us, God knows why. Again, while you say Tekke Tepe was not occupied, it was held very lightly by patrols. We ran into two of them before reaching the top; out of one we bagged two Turks, the other escaped us. There were also three short lengths of partially dug trenches unoccupied while we were there, but showing signs of most recent occupation. Further, you say that the Turks came in behind D Company and the rest of the battalion fought in the trench. This is not quite right. We had advance fully 1500 yards (and I was with the rear company “B”) before we encountered the Turks. When we did, it was a ‘free for all’ bayonet affair, with the Turks outnumbering us about three to one. I saw nothing of the West Yorkshires as you mention, but the West Ridings who were to have supported the Brigade!!! attack were present. However, my report and your letter agree in the great fundamental point, this, that Tekke Tepe should have been taken on the evening of August 8. That this could and would have been done had there not been a lamentable failure of the Staff, I think goes unquestioned by those of us who had an accurate knowledge of the conditions; it was the loss of the Gallipoli campaign. I am even of the opinion that, that had the Staff work not been so rotten, and that had the attack in the early morning of August 9 been by three battalions instead of us alone, it might have been successful. If you remember, the attack was to have been a brigade affair, three battalions in attack with one in support. The supports (the West Ridings) were there, but where the other two battalions were, God alone knows. I think all of Kitchener’sArmy who took part in this landing and the following few days felt it intensely that they were blamed by the Staff for the failure on the grounds of being green troops. Compared with later experiencesin France, the 11thand 10thDivision fought as well as any troops ever did, be they Regulars or otherwise, and I am sure that those of us who had the honour to belong to either the 11thor 10thDivisions feel grateful to you for coming out plainly and placing the blame where it so justly belongs." *
Some argue that the 6th East Yorkshire attack on Tekke Tepe (actually in effect only D Coy and Battalion HQ) never reached the summit on the 9th August. Also the Officers were mistaken when they said that they reached the summit or had made it up after the war to compensate for being taken Prisoner. Also as most of the East Yorkshires were killed or captured, all the official reports were compiled after the events, by persons who had not been present. The War diaries show very clearly that patrols sent by the 6th East Yorkshires on the 8th August (the day before) met with little opposition, but a later advance on the 9th August to exploit this opportunity by the 6th East Yorkshires, supported by the 8th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding) and 67 Coy Royal Engineers was too late. It was repulsed by Turkish reinforcements, with heavy loss to D Coy of the 6th East Yorkshires, who advanced without waiting for the remainder of the Battalion. However, the primary sources of Lieutenants John Still and James Underhill, who both were there at the time, claim that they did occupy Tekke Tepe. John Still was a 35 year old, tea planter, use to the hills of Ceylon and Underhill was a newly qualified land surveyor, aged 22. Both would have known if they had reached the top of Tekke Tepe. There was no collusion between these two men to make up their story. Lt., Stlll was captured and spent the rest of the war in Turkey. He believed he had been the only surviving Officer in the attack. Underhill although wounded in the chest, survived the war and then emigrated to Vancouver. If they did occupy Tekke Teppe, it would have been the furthest allied advance on the Peninsula, and if they had held this stategic position, the Gallipoli Campaign would have succeeded. After 100 years we can only speculate. It is perhaps best to concentrate on the bravery of the 6th (Pioneer) East Yorkshire Regiment, who stormed the hill with limited support in difficult conditions. These Pioneers were used in (arguably) the most important assault of the campaign. They were ably led, by Col Moore, (who had risen from the ranks) and were decimated within sight of their ultimate objective. Their attack was undermined by appalling planning and procrastination. There was no time for orders or battle preparation. It was a fragmented, uncoordinated attack, characterised by perhaps over-zealous leadership, tactical naivety, exhaustion and fatigue. (The men had to be kicked into action, from a state of near exhaustion). This superhuman effort resulted in failure, then denial and blame. The 6th East Yprkshire who had landed at Gallipoli in the early hours of the 7th August 1915, with 22 Officers and 750 Other ranks, had within 3 days, lost 15 Officers and 347 other ranks. Over 50 men from Hull died in Gallipoli on the 9th August 1915. The story of the 6th East Yorkshire at Tekke Tepe, is not a particularly well researched, or well understood part of the campaign, outside a few specialists, but it encapsulates everything in one small action that was wrong about Gallipoli.
The following recounts the progress of the 6Th East Yorkshires, after the Tekke Tepe attack.
21st August 1915 – the attack on Scimitar Hill
Wyrall's "East Yorkshire Regiment in the Great War" shows that the 6th East Yorkshire Regiment had been in reserve from 10th to the 20th August at Nibrunesi Point where they had dug themselves in at the base of a cliff. On 20th August the 6thEast Yorkshires relieved the Northumberland Fusiliers in trenches South East of Chocolate Hill. They came under the orders of 34th Brigade who would attack "Hill W" the next morning.The 6th Battalion were to dig in and support the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Dorset’s, who would attack the next morning. There was a delay due to lost orders and confusion, and the attack did not commence until 3pm on the 21st. When the Dorset’s and Lancashire’s left their trenches the 6th East Yorkshiresmoved forward to occupy these trenches. The Dorset’s and the Lancashire’s ran into stubborn resistance and so most of the 6th East Yorkshires were sent forward to support them. The 6th East Yorkshire's captured a Turkish trench in front of them and awaited relief. The 6th East York (Pioneers) had occupied Hill 70 (Scimitar Hill), next to W Hill the most vital of all the semicircle of heights overlooking Suvla Bay and were there only waiting for the brigade's further advance upon W Hill or Anafarta Sagir, to both of which it is the key. They held this trench overnight, but it became impossible to hold the next morning (22nd August) as the number of Turks increased and they had no bombs.
Around 7.30 am the 6th East Yorkshires retreated to their original trenches and later that night they were relieved and moved back to their original reserve trenches at Nibrunesi point the following morning. The 6th East Yorkshire casualties by 22nd August 1915, included 26 Officers and 628 men. Officer casualties were 80% and other ranks 68%.
20th October 1915
The War Diary for the 6th (Service) Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment (Pioneers) on 20th Oct 1915 is edited below. It was written in very feint pencil and just legible. The Battalion was scattered over a place known to the troops as ‘Piccadilly Circus’ or 'Shrapnel Valley' due to heavy Turkish shelling. There are no records of battle casualties, but the War Diary contains long lists of men admitted to hospital and lists of men who arrived in drafts. Notably most posted to D Coy - a stark reminder that D Coy was virtually wiped out on the lower slopes of Tekke Tepe on 9th August.
"Working Parties A Coy Piccadilly Circus, Div Head Quarters ^ well [illegible - above?] XI Signal Depot, Field Ambulance dugouts. B Coy 9th A.C [Army Corps] New Head Quarters, Park Lane, Holborn, Jephson's Post Road (Oxford St). D Coy 9th A.C Head Quarters, 67th Coy RE - SW Mounted Brigade dugouts, Cannon Street. Two general road repairing parties under 2/Lieuts SIEBER and SCOTCHER. 2/Lieut HICKEY was wounded in the arm by shrapnel bullet whilst working near Piccadilly Circus & admitted into 35th Field Ambulance."
Gallipoli 100 Years on - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-32456487
* (I am grateful to Edward Underhill who supplied the following information on his grandfather - 2nd Lt., James Theodore Underhill was born in Moseley, Staffordshire, 1892. His family emigrated to Canada in 1894 and he obtained his Land Surveyor's qualification at McGill University (West) which was later to become the University of British Columbia. Upon the outbreak of the war, he gained his qualification as an Infantry Officer in January of 1915 at the Provisional School of Infantry in Vancouver, BC and subsequently travelled to England, having missed the opportunity to join the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He was commissioned in March of 1915, joining the 6th (Service ) Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, as 2nd Lieutenant by the time of the actions around Teke Tepe. He was shot in the chest during the Gallipoli attack and wounded again in the right knee on 1/7/16 at Serre, serving with the 12th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He later served with the Canandian 245th Siege Battery RGA. He lost two brothers in the war and returned to Vancouver, Canada after the war)
The last to die
At least eight Hull men died on the 11th November 1918, the last day of the First World War.
The Volunteer Force
Apart from Official recruitment, Hull and East Yorkshire also formed an unofficial home defence force, consisting of men too old, or ineligible to enlist. This force had its origins in the formation of 'rifle clubs' by members of Hull Golf Club, who pressed for official recognition. On 20th December 1914, Lord Nunburnholme at a meeting to explain the duties of civilians in an emergency, announced the formation of a volunteer corps. Three battalions were to be raised for the county, with specialist units. As War Office backing was not forthcoming, voluntary aid was needed. The East Riding Council and Hull Corporation gave donations and soon the Corps had 2,800 rifles and a grey/green uniform (khaki not being allowed.
In July 1916, the Corps was officially recognised as the East Yorkshire Volunteer Force and all ranks had to put in at least ten drills a month. The Corps role in the event of invasion was to guard strategice points and hinder the enemy advance. The Corps also had an active role in coastal patrols and, although never needed, could be relied upon to answer the call of duty.
The East Yorkshire Volunteer Force - 11th November 1918
Unit Officers Ranks
Royal Garrison Artillery, 2 Companies 6 132
Royal Engineers, 3 Units 12 211
Infantry, 4 Battalions 106 3201*
Royal Army Service Corps (Motor Transport) 12 246
Roayla Army Medical Corps, 4 Field Ambualnces 18 246
Royal Army Service Corps (Horse Transport) 6 165
* included 4 Anti-Aircraft Gun sections, based at Hull
Note: East Yorkshire was the only county in Britain to provide as many as five specialist units, and of these the Horse Transport was the only one of its type in Britain.
See Humberside in the First World War - Stephen Kimberley - Local History Archives Unit
The East Riding Imperial Yeomanry was commanded by Col, Guy Wilson, DSO and earned a meritorious record in Egypt. It was split into three Lines between August and September 1914.
The 5th East Yorkshire Cyclist Battalion was raised by Sir Robert Aske in August 1914. Based in Park Street, Hull, they remained in UK throughout the war. They Soon moved to Louth and then in May 1915 to Withernsea. They then moved on from there to Newbiggin and became part of Tyne Garrison.
The Northumbrian Field Ambulance Royal Army Medical Corp was a Territorial Force commanded by Col Faulkner and served with the 50th Division. It was mobilized on the 5th August 1914. The Field Ambulance was a mobile medical unit (not a vehicle). It consisted of approximately 10 Officers and 224 men and had special responsibility to care for casualties of a Brigade within a Division. It provided stretcher bearers, 'Advance Dressing Stations' and 'Main Dressing Stations'. It also collected walking wounded and provided rest stations and in theory could handle at least 150 wounded. For more information:
The War Afloat - Hull's War at Sea
World War One often conjures up images of soldiers in trenches going ‘over the top’. What is less remembered is the vital contribution from Britain’s Navy, Merchant Seamen and fishermen. Every day, in all weathers, these services patrolled the seas, engaged enemy submarines and swept the sea lanes of mines.
Through every day of the First World War, these sailors were on the front line supplying Britain with vital food and war materials, and restricting German supplies. At the beginning of the war, the Germans started laying mines in the North Sea to prevent food supplies reaching British ports. As the war progressed, a new danger came from German submarines. To combat this the Admiralty requestioned many of the Hull and Grimsby trawlers, for mine sweeping and anti-submarine patrols. They were used to control the seaward approaches to major harbours. No one knew these waters better than local fishermen, and the trawler was the ship these fishermen understood and could operate effectively without further instruction. The larger and newer trawlers and whalers were converted for anti submarine work and the older and smaller trawlers were converted to minesweepers. New trawler minesweepers were also built by Cook, Welton and Gemmel Ltd of Beverley, and in total, Hull and the Humber supplied 880 vessels and 9,000 men for this work.
Hull's War at Sea
Due to Hull's coastal location, many Hull men joined the Navy in all its forms. Hull men served throughout the world, in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve, Merchant Service and the Hull Fishing Feet. 14,000 merchant seamen were to die in the war, 4,000 of these sailors died in just 3 months during 1917, when the German U Boat attacks peaked.
As a maritime City, with a long tradition of seafaring, Hull played an important role in Britain's sea war. It provided large numbers of ships and crews for all the Naval Services. The Humber area, including Hull, supplied over 880 vessels & 9,000 men from the fishing trade. These patrolled the North Sea, brought in vital food supplies and swept the sea lanes of enemy mines and other hazards to trade. They collected sophisticated German Seamines and hauled these back to port, so that British intelligence could learn improvements. They would also collect floating topedoes for scrap. Life at sea could be full of perils and dangers: submarines, mines, ice, storms, blizzards, hurricanes, ice-bergs, frost, fog, collisions, stranded ashore, wrecked on rocks, and, most of all, fatigue from the endless work of catching fish in dangerous conditions. Nearly, 1,200 Hull sailors died during the First World war. Many others were wounded, survived sinkings, and were emotionally scarred by their war time experiences.
Losses along the Humber
In total, 670 fishing vessels, were lost from the Humberside region, of which 214 were minesweepers. Hull lost 129, of these ships, including 61 mineweepers. 'Spurn' Point at the mouth of the Humber is surrounded by 370 wrecks lost in the First World war. Like the 'Pals' battalions at the front, the loss of a ship's crew could have a similar, sudden impact on the tight knit sea communities at home. On average half the crew of a minesweeper were lost when it was sunk. Sometimes the ship casualties were worse, including the loss of the entire crews, and included old men and grandfathers, who had vital sea experience, as well as younger spare hands and teenage cabin crew, who were required to carry out the exhaustive duties of running a ship. For example, the steam trawler 'Egret', which was sunk, while on patrol, without warning, on 1st June 1918, lost all eleven crew, including the Master, aged between 21 and 54 years old. Ten of these men were from the Hessle Road area, killed on the same day, while protecting the Humber. Their details are below:
CREW LOST ON EGRET (H21), enemy action 2 miles E. x N. Humber Lt Vl, 1st June, 1918.
- CROWE, E (41), 53 Glasgow street, Hull. Cook
- FISHER, George (54), 3 Laura-grove, Tyne street, Hull. 2nd/Hand
- FRANCIS, Septimus (23), 9 Granville-ave, West Dock street, Hull. Deckhand
- McFEE, William (54), 75 Ena street, Boulevard, Hull. Skipper
- MEARS, Alfred (22), 3 Fern-grove, Harrow street, Hull. 3rd/Hand
- RIDSDILL, William (27), 6 Cedar-grove, Eastbourne street, Hull. Chief Engineer
- ROBERTS, Clarence (21), 5 Louisa-ter, St. George's road, Hull. Trimmer
- SANDERSON, William (60), 8 Naburn street, Hull. 2nd/Engineer
- SMITH, William (43), 8 Langdale-crescent, Flinton street, Hull. Bosun
- TUTCHER, John (50), 2 Chiltern-villas, Division road, Hull. Sparehand
- Photo (left) is of William George Worrell, Skipper of the Steam Trawler 'TITANIA' lost at sea, 11th May 1915, aged 53. He left a wife and seven children, at 1 Belgrave Terrace, Eton Street, Hull.
During the First World War, 300 Hull ships were used as minesweepers and for searching submarines. 61 of these Hull ships were lost during the war. Fishermen were seen as the best people for the job, as their ships were ideal for this task, they knew the waters well and they could not continue fishing anyway. They swept an area one mile wide and a 540 miles in length from Dover to the Firth of Forth. This was known as the 'War Channel' and all shipping and convoys moved through this channel, which was swept of mines daily. The most effective method for minesweeping was the use of a serrated wire towed by two ships. This would cut through the morring cable of submerged mines, either expoding them, or allowing the mine to rise to the surface, where it could be exploded by rifle fire. During the war, the Germans laid 1,360 minefields, containing 25,000 mines in Britsh waters. These mines accounted for 46 Royal Navy warships, 269 merchant ships and 63 fishing vessels, which in total, amounted to over 1 million tonnes of allied shipping sunk.
Only 93 Hull trawlers were used for fishing during the war, and all fish & chips shops were closed in Hull throughout the war. The vessels which remained fishing, were usually old ships that had not been requisitioned by the Royal Navy. The were usually crewed by old men and young boys, unable to serve their country. Nevertheless, these men and boys took similar risks to the many warships. They sailed their unarmed vessels into a mine infested sea, knowing that at any time a U Boat could sink them. They were also prime targets for the German Airforce, or Zeppelins that headed to the North Sea fishing Grounds, for easy pray. As the losses to the fishing fleet increased, further restrictions on vessel movements, made fish scarcer and demand could not be met. The rising price of fish was due to this shortage in supply. Prices increased so dramatically, that vessels which averaged a profit of between £6,000 and £7,000 a year before 1914, were by 1917, averaging profits between £30,000 and £40,000. Many of these profits went to the ship owners, rather than the crews. It enabled the owners to build 40 new fishing vessels during the war, at the Earles shipyard in Hull. Other firms built another 35 fishing ships at a time when there was a shortage of skilled labour and materials.
Nine fishing trawlers from Hull were lost by mines, although others which were listed as missing may have met the same fate. The first Hull vessel sunk by a mine was the 'IMPERIALIST H250', on the 6th September 1914, 40 miles 'ENE' of Tynemouth.
The Auxiliary Patrol was a front line naval defence force, composed of numerous small craft, tasked with minesweeping and anti submarine patrols, initially around the British Isles, but later also in the Mediterranean. A wide variety of vessels were used, including requisitioned fishing vessels, yachts and motor boats. Like the Minesweepers, the Auxiliary patrol was manned by fishermen and included seaman from all over the world. Their tasks were numerous, the main ones being, patroling and protecting 565 miles of sea lanes to ensure safe passage. They carried little armanants, but escorted convoys on the outer flanks, listening for submarines with specially fitted hydrophone equipment. They would spot enemy aircraft and listen for any U Boat activity near the convoy and if detected drop depth charges. In may instances when a convey was attacked or torpedoed, vessels would steam off to limit losses. The Auxiliary Patrol would however remain on the scene to pick up survivors, often putting their own vessels is danger of attack. Submarine was usually a very personal and private war. If you were in it you knew all about it - how to keep watch on filthy nights, how to go without sleep, how to bury the dead and how to die bravely without wasting anyone's time. The war saw the loss of many fine ships and good men.
Hull's first Auxillary patrol vessel lost, was the HMT 'COLUMBIA'. She was attacked by E Boats off Forness, on the 1st May 1915, with only one survivor.
Submarine Warfare. A far greater threat than the mine, and the largest number of losses, were due to submarine gunfire. A German submarine would surface close to the fishing fleet and in most cases at the beginning of the war, would take the crews off several trawlers and place them aboard another vessel to take them back to port. The unmanned vessels would then be sunk by shell fire from the submarine or a bomb placed aboard. The first Hull vessel sunk by a German U-Boat was the 'MERCURY H518' on the 2nd May 1915. This was to change when armed escorts were sent with the fishing vessels and the vessels themselves carried guns, Hull ships then became a target like any other warship and were sunk without warning. In several cases the crews were taken prisoner and were interned in POW camps.
On 3rd May 1915, eight Hull Vessels were sunk by submarine while fishing in the same area of the North Sea. These were the, 'BOB WHITE H290', 'COQUET H831', 'HECTOR H896', 'HERO H886', 'IOLANTHE H328', 'MERRIE ISLINGTON H183', 'NORTHWARD HO H455', and 'PROGRESS H475'.
Hull lost 68 fishing vessels during the WW1 period, from 1914 to 1920. These were vessels that were not on Admiralty service or in the Fishery Reserve. Seven of these vessels were lost due to collision or grounding and were not a consequence of war, 11 were listed as missing of which the cause was unknown, they may have been sunk by enemy action and unclaimed, or most likely contacted drifting mines or entered an unknown mined area. Of the remainder, 4 were sunk by Torpedo Boats. 19 ships where sunk by submarine gunfire and 13 had bombs placed aboard by submarine crew. There were also several other vessels sunk after this period due to mine contact. Another 5 vessels were lost while in the Fishery Reserve. (For the full list see the following link)
Hull lost 61 Minesweeping trawlers on Admiralty service during the war. On average half the crew of a minesweeper were lost with the ship. By the end of the War, only 91 Hull owned ships were afloat, 9 of which had been built during the war. Hull lost nearly 1,200 merchant crewmen, another 267 Royal Navy sailors and 38 Royal Marines.The majority of these died at sea and have no known grave.
To add to the tragedy, there was little compensation for a sailor's family. Sailors pay stopped when their ship sank, and usually only paid if they died with the ship. Sailors who left their ship in life boats were deemed to have discharged themselves from duty and often had their sea pay docked.
At the end of the First World War, Lord Jellico declared that the Royal Navy had saved the Empire, but it was the fishermen in their boats who had saved the Royal Navy. The Royal Naval Reserve of fishermen was "a Navy within the Navy". They swept mines, escorted convoys, hunted U-boats and carried out countless dangerous duties. While often overlooked by Admiralty officials, there contribution was at least recognized by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon who said; ‘It is doubtful if we could have defeated the Germans, at any rate as quickly as we did defeat them, if it had not been for the assistance which the Royal Navy received from the fishing community.’
Hull ships and crews therefore played a major part in that victory. The ongoing peril of unexploded sea mines continued to take the lives of Hull fisherman, long after the war had ended. For example, the Hull Trawler ‘Gitano’ struck a mine and was sunk with all hands on the 23rd December 1918. The Hull Trawler ’Scotland’ struck a mine on the 13th March 1919, killing 7 Hull men. Two days later, the steam ship ‘Durban’ exploded‘, killing another eight Hull sailors. The ‘Isle of Man’ (Hull) exploded on the 14th December 1919, killing a further seven Hull fishermen. The steam ship ‘Barbados’ exploded on the 5th November 1920, taking ten Hull men. These included the two Weaver brothers killed on the same day. Many of these seaman had survived the war, only to be its victims after.
Illustrations of life on board a trawler - "In the Wheelhouse, Mail Day, playing cards, cleaning guns, the Galley cook, the stoker, the radio officer, slipping the "kite" which controls the mine sweeping depth."
Dangerous work for fishing trawlers used as minesweepers
When the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was first created in 1859, it consisted of up to 30,000 merchant seamen and fisherman who the Navy could call on in times of crisis. Fishing trawlers were strong, sturdy ships, designed to withstand severe weather conditions out at sea, and in 1907 the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, Admiral Lord Beresford, recognised that trawlers could be used as minesweepers. His recommendation led to the formation of the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section) in 1910, with approval to mobilise 100 trawlers during any crisis period and enrol 1,000 men to man them. It also introduced a new rank, that of 'Skipper' RNR, into the Navy List. By the end of 1911, 53 skippers had joined. In 1912 a further 25 enrolled and the Trawler Section of the Royal Naval Reserve, consisted of 142 trawlers manned by 1,279 personnel. 31 more skippers joined before the war started in August 1914, making a total of 109 skippers. Another 315 more volunteered by the end of the first week in October. By the end of 1915 the Minesweeping Service employed 7,888 officers and men.
The Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section):
The 'Paravane', a form of towed underwater "glider", was developed from 1914–16 by Commander Usborne and LieutenantC. Dennistoun Burney, funded by Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. Initially developed to destroy naval mines, the paravane would be strung out and streamed alongside the towing ship, normally from the bow.The wings of the paravane would tend to force the body away from the towing ship, placing a lateral tension on the towing wire. If the tow cable snagged the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable would be cut, allowing the mine to float to the surface where it could be destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable would not part, the mine and the paravane would be brought together and the mine would explode harmlessly against the paravane. The cable could then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted. Burney explosive paravanes were deployed from torpedo boat destroyers in a configuration known as the 'High Speed Sweep' to counter submarines. However, most paravanes were non-explosive and were streamed by larger warships and merchant ships as self-defence measures to divert moored mines away from their hulls. They comprised a wire streamed to each side from the bows with a float secured to the end to divert it outwards. This is illustrated below.
Thank You to "Hull, the Good Old Days" Facebook, for the above photos.
There were also many young men killed in the armed forces. Probably one of the youngest was Private, Harry Jipson, 1351, 12th East Yorkshires, killed in action at Loos on the 24th August 1916. He was only 16 years old, and lived at 73 Regent Street.
The Hull WW1 Memorial contains the names of a thousand other teenagers. One of the first of these was Private, Andrew Ernest Elton, 10469, 3rd Coldstream Guards, killed on the Marne, on the 14th September 1914, aged 17 years old. He lived at 1 Normans Terrace, Campbell Street which has now been demolished.
The last teenager to die was probably Private, Edward Goy, 2/4th York & Lancaster Regiment, who died at Rouen on the 10th November 1918, a day before the war officially ended. He was eighteen years old and lived at 30 Sandringham Street, Hull.