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Herbert Sutcliffe

Corporal Herbert Sutcliffe, 242522, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 9th Battalion

Herbert Sutcliffe was born in Ossett in 1887 the second child and second son of gas stoker John William Sutcliffe and his wife, Rhoda, who married in 1883. The couple had six children from their marriage, but two of the children died before April 1911.

In the late 1880s the family moved to Hanging Heaton and by 1901 they were living in Batley where Herbert, aged 14, was a grocer’s assistant. By 1911, Herbert was working for the Batley Cooperative Society as a grocer’s assistant and his father was a fried fish vendor, working on his own account.

Herbert Sutcliffe’s army service record has not survived, but he enlisted in Batley and joined the 9th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry with service number 242522. His medal card records a earlier service number, 5135, indicating that he served in a Territorial regiment.

The 9th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was raised at Pontefract in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's Third New Army and joined 64th Brigade, 21st Division. After initial training close to home they moved to Berkhamsted and then to Halton Park in October. They spent the winter in billets in Maidenhead from November and returned to Halton Park in April 1915. They moved to Witley for final training in August and proceeded to France in September 1915. When they had landed in France, their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel C.W.D. Lynch had made himself extremely unpopular by ordering the whole of the Battalion to shave their heads, following a report that there had been a number of head wounds which had become fatal, due to infection in the victims hair.1

They marched across France and went straight into action in reserve of the British assault at Loos on the 26th of September, suffering heavy casualties. In 1916 they were in action in the Battles of The Somme, including The Battle of Morval in which the Division captured Geudecourt. In 1917 they were in action during The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Arras offensive, the Third Battles of Ypres and The Cambrai Operations. In 1918 they fought on The Somme then moved north and were in action during the Battles of the Lys, the Battle of the Aisne, The Somme, the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy. At the Armistice the Division were around Berlaimont, on the 12th they moved to Beaufort, then in mid December they moved west of Amiens and demobilisation began being completed by the 19th of May 1919.

Herbert married Gertrude Oldroyd in the Dewsbury area early 1918. He was promoted to Corporal, but killed in action on the 7th November 1918 just 4 days before the Armistice.

Corporal Herbert Sutcliffe was killed during heavy fighting to take the villages around the area of Limont-Fontaine as part of the Battle of Sambre:

"At nightfall on November 5th most of the 21st Div. had reached the west bank of the Sambre. During the night light bridges were thrown across the river and the infantry in the right of the division forced a crossing which enabled the remainder further north to do the same. Throughout November 6th the advance was continued relentlessly. Though the transport was hindered by the desperate condition of the roads through the forest, the infantry pushed ahead enthusiastically.

The 110th Infantry Brigade was leading this day, and on the morning of the 7th it went ahead to seize the first objective of the day. The 64th Brigade then extended for attack and passed through. In spite of excellent formation and good leading on the part of the company officers, the morning advance was held up by the intense fire of guns and machine guns. A fresh attack was organised in the afternoon on the villages about Limont-Fontaine.

The 9/KOYLI was in the front line. Ably led, the battalion this time made splendid progress and carried all before it by sheer determination. The villages were stoutly held and fierce fighting took place in the streets both of Limont and Eclaibes; the men fought regardless of casualties and simply refused to be denied the victory they had set out to gain. Both these villages were captured and cleared of the enemy, many of whom were taken prisoner. The 17th Div. went through at midday on the 8th and the 21st retired from the front line for a rest.

The 9/KOYLI withdrew to Bachant, and on to Berlaimont. On November 11th it was on the march to Limont again (the battalions own village by right of capture) when the news of the Armistice reached the men on the march. There was no outward demonstration, but inwardly no doubt there was a supreme feeling of satisfaction." 2

He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals but not the 1914/15 Star indicating that he did not serve overseas before 31st December 1915. The Commonwealth War Graves commission record reports that his parents were Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Sutcliffe of 36, Purlwell Hall Road, Batley and that he was the husband of Gertrude Sutcliffe of "Hazlehurst" 122, North Road, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury. No children appear to have been born to the couple.

He is remembered in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and/or the "U.K. Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1918" listing records him as born or residing in Ossett.

Sambre Canal near Catllion November 1918

Above: The Sambre Canal near Catillon in November 1918, the scene of heavy fighting during the Battle of the Sambre.

Corporal Herbert Sutcliffe, aged 32 years, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Sutcliffe, of 36, Purlwell Hall Rd., Batley, Yorkshire and husband of Gertrude Sutcliffe, of "Hazelhurst," 122, North Rd., Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Yorkshire died on the 7th November 1918 and is buried at grave reference D. 2. at the Maubeuge-Centre Cemetery, 3 Nord, France. Maubeuge is a large town in the department of the Nord. Maubeuge-Centre Cemetery stands inside the Communal Cemetery of Maubeuge on the route de Mons (N2).

Maubeuge possessed a French military aerodrome, and it was H.Q., R.F.C., from the 16th to the 23rd August 1914. It was captured by the Germans on the 7th September, 1914, and it remained in their hands until it was entered by the 3rd Grenadier Guards in the early morning of the 9th November, 1918. The 5th, 47th Casualty Clearing Stations were posted in the town for different periods between the end of November 1918, and the middle of May 1919.

The "Cimetiere Communal du Centre" one of the town cemeteries, was used by the Germans; it contained at Armistice the graves of German soldiers and British, French, American, Russian, Italian and Rumanian prisoners. These have been to a great extent regrouped, removed, or increased in number by concentrations from other burial grounds; and the British and other war graves are now mainly in the South part. One hundred and five were brought in after the Armistice from the battlefields West of Maubeuge and from:

Petit-Bavay British Cemetery, Pont-Sur-Sambre, which was a little East of the Forest of Mormal. It contained the graves of 29 soldiers from the United Kingdom, all belonging to the 1st/5th East Lancs or the 1st/10th Manchesters, who fell on the 6th and 7th November, 1918.

There are now 185 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war commemorated here, 6 being unidentified. There are a further 65 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-45 war commemorated in this site. From the 1939-45 War, three United Kingdom graves could not be precisely located and are commemorated by special memorials, inscribed "buried near this spot". There are 105 French and 1 Russian burials here. The British plot covers an area of 645 square metres.


1. "The Bloody Battle of the Somme 1916", from the book "Neath a Foreign Sky" by Paul Allen

2. "The History of the KOYLI - The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the Great War" by R.C. Bond, Page 1014

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site