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Oscar Ivinson

Private Oscar Ivinson, 7299, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion

Oscar Ivinson was born in Liversedge in 1885, the second child and second son of Westmoreland-born John Henry Ivinson and his wife Elizabeth (nee Jameson) of Liversedge who married in early 1883. The couple had eleven children, four girls and seven boys, all born between 1884 and 1902. In 1901, John Henry, a hackney carriage driver with Elizabeth and nine of their children, including 15 year-old coal miner, Oscar Ivinson were living on Wakefield Road, Earlsheaton, Dewsbury.

At St. Matthew Parish Church, West Town, Dewsbury on the 25th February 1905, Oscar Ivinson, aged 21, a soldier, based at Aldershot married 19 year-old spinster Maria Walker of West Town, Dewsbury. Maria offered no name for her father on the marriage registration. By 1911, Oscar was working as a coal miner (ripper) and living in Heckmondwike with his wife with three children, all under three years of age.

Oscar Ivinson had completed his first period of Army service and would have been a reservist and therefore subject to immediate call up in the event of national emergency. At some later date, Maria Ivinson is recorded at Wakefield Road, Chickenley Heath, Dewsbury.

Oscar Ivinson’s army service record has not survived, but it is known that he enlisted in Batley, and embarked for France on the 10th August 1914, less than one week after the outbreak of WW1. As a reservist he would been 'embodied' in the regular Army the day after the outbreak of war on the 4th August 1914.

His marriage registration in 1905 records Oscar as a soldier and his service number of 7299 suggests that he joined between between the 1st February 1902 and the 23rd June 1903. He would be 18 years of age around this second date, and it is probable that this was the time when he joined his regiment.

The 2nd Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were in Dublin with 13th Brigade, 5th Division when war broke out in August 1914. They proceeded to France with the BEF and landed at Le Havre on the 16th of August 1914. They were in action in The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines and The First Battle of Ypres. In 1915 they were in action at The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60. In autumn 1915, the Battalion was one of the units of 5th Division which were exchanged with units from the newly arrived volunteer 32nd Division, to stiffen the inexperienced Division with regular army troops, on the 28th of December 1915 they transferred to 97th Brigade in 32nd Division. In 1916 they were in action during the Battles of the Somme 1916, In 1917 they were involved in Operations on the Ancre and the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. In 1918 they were in action on the Somme and in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy.

Oscar Ivinson was killed in fierce fighting with the Germans at the Battle of Le Cateau on the 26th August 1914:

"Dublin, Ireland. 2nd Bn. KOYLI, Part of 13th Brigade, 5th Division. Embarked on SS Buteshire (14th August) and sailed for France. Landed Havre (16th August) Entrained for Landrecies (17th August), arriving (18th August), and marching to billets at La Bassee Maroilles.

Moved forward via Bavai to positions near Taisnieres (21st August). To Bossou (22ndAugust). Advanced to close support positions behind 2nd KOSB (23rd August) and assisted in defence of road and railway bridges at St Ghislain. Lt Pepys killed. Withdrew to Wasmes after dark. Enemy attacked (24th August) and withdrawal ordered. Fell back to Bavai. Casualties since 23rd August: 1 officer killed 27 other ranks killed or wounded.

Moved to defensive trenches west of Le Cateau (25th August). Order form Brigade headquarters instructing the Battalion: 'There will now be NO retirement for the fighting troops; fill up your trenches with water, food and ammunition, as far as you can.'

Enemy attacked (26th August): Positions held until eventually surrounded on three sides. There was hand to hand fighting. Lt Col Bond records in the war history of the Regiment: 'There was no surrender. The occupants of the trenches were mobbed and swamped by the rising tide of grey coated Germans.'

Fighting ceased about 4.30pm and survivors withdrew along the Reumont road to Estrees, then (27th August) to Ollezy.

Total casualties 18 officers, 582 other ranks. Later 310 men were reported to be prisoners of war, some 170 of these having been wounded. For their gallantry at Le Cateau Major Yate and Lance Corporal Frederick William Holmes were awarded the VC."

Major Yate at le Cateau 1914Private Oscar Ivinson was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals. He was also awarded the 1914 Star with clasp to recognise his service overseas between the outbreak of the War and the 22nd November 1914. The narrow horizontal bronze clasp sewn onto the ribbon, bearing the dates '5th Aug. - 22nd Nov. 1914' shows that the recipient had actually served under fire of the enemy during that period. Was Oscar Ivinson one of the nineteen survivors who charged the Germans at Le Cateau on the 26th August 1914?

Recipients of the 1914 Star were responsible for assisting the French to hold back the German army while new recruits could be trained and equipped. Collectively, they fully deserve a great deal of honour for their part in the first sixteen weeks of the Great War. This included the battle of Mons, the retreat to the Seine, the battles of Le Cateau, the Marne, the Aisne and the first battle of Ypres. There were approximately 378,000 1914 Stars issued.

Private Oscar Ivinson, aged 29 years, husband of Maria Greenwood (formerly Ivinson), of 488, Wakefield Rd., Chickenley Heath, Dewsbury, died on the 26th August 1914 and he is remembered at the La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial, 1 Seine-et-Marne, France. La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is a small town 66 kilometres to the east of Paris, located on the main road (N3) running east from Paris.

The La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial commemorates 3,740 officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who fell at the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between the end of August and early October 1914 and have no known graves. The monument is constructed of white Massangis stone and surmounted by a sarcophagus onto which military trophies are laid. At the four corners of the pavement on which the monument stands are stone columns supporting urns which bear the coats of arms of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom. The memorial was designed by George H. Goldsmith, a decorated veteran of the Western Front, and unveiled by Sir William Pulteney, who had commanded the III Corps of the BEF in 1914, on 4 November 1928.

Close to the bridge on both banks of the river stand the stone columns which make up the 4th Division Royal Engineers Memorial. The columns are surmounted with the flaming grenade of the Royal Engineers and mark the spot at which British sappers constructed a floating assault bridge under German artillery fire on 9 and 10 September 1914.

By the beginning of September 1914, the German Imperial Army had swept through much of Belgium and north eastern France and was fast approaching Paris. By 3 September, the British and French forces had been retreating south west for over two weeks, German victory was a definite possibility, and the Allied Commander, Général Joffre, prepared to launch a major counter offensive. As night fell on 5 September, the men of the British Expeditionary Force began to halt approximately 40 kilometres south east of Paris and their gruelling retreat was at an end. For the next two days, British I, II and III Corps advanced north eastward, encountering only minor resistance from the German forces in the area, which had reached the limit of their advance and were now carrying out a tactical retreat. On 8 September, British infantry brigades advancing toward the Marne came under heavy machine-gun and artillery fire from German units in La Ferté sous Jouarre and on the north bank of the river where they had formed a bridgehead. The British withdrew, began bombarding the German positions, and by mid-afternoon had entered the town in force. Both of the local bridges had been blown, but the Royal Engineers immediately began to construct a floating bridge, over which III Corps crossed the Marne on 10 September and joined I and II Corps which had crossed the river further to the east the previous today.

The German armies were now in full retreat to the north and east, hotly pursued by the combined British and French forces. Retreating German units fought rearguard actions under heavy rainfall throughout the day on 11 September and by the morning of the 12th they had occupied defensive positions on the high ground overlooking the northern banks of the River Aisne.

The Battle of the Marne, referred to in the French press as the ‘Miracle of the Marne’, halted the month-long advance of the German forces toward Paris and decisively ended the possibility of an early German victory. The battle also marked the beginning of trench warfare as Allied and German forces entrenched during and after the Battle of the Aisne in mid-September. By November battle lines had been drawn that would remain virtually unchanged for almost four years. The British Expeditionary Force suffered almost 13,000 casualties during the Battle of the Marne, of whom some 7,000 had been killed.


1. "British Battalions in France and Belgium 1914" by Ray Westlake, Pen & Sword Books Ltd; First Edition (5 Sep. 1997), ISBN-10: 0850525772

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site