Yeomanry

Casualties

Chapter 7
Please be aware, this chapter contains some material which readers may find upsetting.

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Deaths

Deaths in the ERY

Place Deaths Notes
Middle East 40 27 with the ERY/MGC, 13 later, mostly with the Imperial Camel Corps
France 128
Salonika 5 (including two deaths from dysentery/influenza)
Gallipoli 1
At sea 28 20-21 on the Arcadian, 15th April 1917 and 7 on the Leinster, 10th October 1918
At home / non military 36 Of which flu 2, zeppelin raid 1, appendicitis 1, cancer 1, accidents 3, pneumonia 4, liver condition 1, intestinal obstruction 1, tuberculosis 4, unknown cause 18
Deaths whilst serving with the ERY / MGC: 92
Deaths after transfer to other units 145 Of which East Yorkshire Regiment 64, KOYLI 22, ICC 11, RE's 8, other units 40
Throssell's Grave

Grave of Saddler R.B. Throssell. Image in ERYC Museums collection.

Note also 1 death in post war riots in Egypt, 1919 (Philip Duckles Peacock), 1 death in prison, 1927 (Kenneth Perry, the Withernsea murderer) and 1 suicide after alcohol problems, 1927 (Jarvis Jackson). It is possible the latter two deaths may be attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), though this is somewhat speculative.

The above data is based primarily on the Soldiers Died in the Great War database.

Additional information is taken from the ERY's war diaries, the ERY roll of honour, newspaper reports, tombstones and information from family sources. As with many aspects of ERY research, it comes with a few words of caution. The ERY roll of honour does include some casualties who cannot definitely be linked to the regiment by any other source. It is even possible in some cases that the soldier listed had not actually died at all, but had been reported missing at some stage and then subsequently turned out not to have been killed.

The home/non-military category does include some rather grey areas, including deaths from existing medical conditions or accidents. Whilst not strictly war related, these have been included in the overall total, as they fell within the war years. A couple of deaths in this category were men who had served in France, were sent home to UK hospitals and later died, so they could arguably be included in the France casualty figures. In some cases, only examination of death certificates would clarify the precise cause of death and as that lay outside the scope of this project, this has not been not pursued.

Before looking at some individual cases, what do the figures tell us overall about the ERY's war service?

Overall mortality

This is difficult to calculate precisely. Around 2500 individuals have been identified who served in the regiment at some point between 1903 and the Armistice in November 1918. Many of the older men had retired by 1914 of course (it is not always possible to state this with certainty), others only served in the UK. The 1/1st ERY which embarked for Egypt in September 1915 comprised three service squadrons, and should in theory have been around 600 strong. The war diary entry for November 26th 1916, shortly before the ERY headed for the front line at Kantara, Egypt, notes a strength of 27 officers and 414 men, though there were no doubt others on detachment or sick (numbers sadly not recorded). Between February 1916 and December 1917 15 officers and 400 men joined the regiment from England in various drafts, compensating to some extent for men who had retired, transferred to other units, were sick etc.

There are no figures available for the total strength of the 2/1st and 3/1st ERY, drafts from both of which were sent to join the parent unit from time to time, as well as being posted to other regiments (see below). Nor If we assume the reserve units were also meant to be around 600 strong and allowing for turnover, then perhaps at least 2000-2500 men passed through the ranks of the ERY during the war. This would suggest an overall mortality rate of about 10%. As already noted, some deaths might well have occurred in any case and are not directly related to the war - in several cases recruits were discharged early due to existing medical conditions (cancer, T.B. for example) and died shortly afterwards.

El Mughar Charge

The charge at El Mughar, 13 Nov 1917. Image in ERYC Museums collections

Sgt Drasdo

Sergeant Albert W. Drasdo. Image in ERYC Museums collection.

Individual theatres

The available figures would seem to suggest (not surprisingly) that transfer to other units (especially to the Western Front) was more dangerous for the average ERY soldier than remaining with the regiment. Transfer was not generally a matter of choice of course and was largely dictated by the wider military situation and by the need to reinforce regiments that had taken heavy losses.

Transfers can primarily be traced through service records and medal cards/rolls, though other sources (especially newspaper reports) are sometimes helpful. As has been mentioned elsewhere, prior service in the ERY is not always recorded. By examining the service records, we can identify large blocks of men who were transferred together. It can sometimes be demonstrated from other sources that men with intermediate service numbers had also come from the ERY.

Though it is not possible to trace all such transfers from the ERY, the proportions who died with various regiments is interesting (see figures above). Large scale transfers from the ERY reserve units at home to various battalions of the East Yorkshire regiment occurred on several occasions, especially from September 1916 onwards.

The transfers to the KOYLI also reflect heavy fighting on the Western Front. At least 40 ERY men transferred from the 1/1st ERY to the newly formed Camel Corps in 1916 and this is reflected in the fairly high casualty total. Finally, transfers to the Royal Engineers we might suspect were because those men had particular aptitudes or specialist skills suited to that regiment.

The remaining transfers were split between numerous other regiments and no obvious pattern has been detected for these.

Middle East
The figure of 27 casualties in the above table includes any casualties amongst the ERY men spun off into the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) in February 1917 when the MG element left the parent ERY regiment. Most of the ERY's battle deaths occurred in this theatre, especially if we include the losses on the Arcadian (see below) whose men would have served in the Middle East had they survived the voyage there.

Of the ERY men who died in this theatre after transfer, 11 were in the Imperial Camel Corps, a testament to the hard fighting endured by that unit.

The following table presents information on casualties in 1917, mainly taken from the ERY's war diary. Names have been added from other sources where they can be determined.
Casualties in 1917: ERY's War Diary
DateKilled/DiedWoundedSicknessNotes
31/12/1916 Effective strength 27 officers and 414 OR's
26/3/191712 1st battle of Gaza. KIA was Pte R.B. Throssell
17/4/1917 19 Drowned in sinking of the Arcadian. Recorded in war diary on May 9th
22/4/1917 1 Possibly Private Lofthouse
6/5/1917 1 2nd Lt. Stanley Gresham (wounded by bomb dropped from aircraft whilst in hospital)
7/5/1917 1 2nd Lt. Gresham died of wounds sustained as above
15/8/1917 15After tests, 15 cases of bilharzia noted. 40 OR's infected to that date, including 2 Sergeants and 2 Farrier Sergeants. Problem traced to infected canal water
11/9/1917 1Major Reynard sick in quarters
12/9/1917 1 A sergeant (due to shelling?)
1/10/1917 Unit strength noted as 18 officers, 404 other ranks
4/10/1917 1Major Reynard admitted to hospital
6/11/1917 2 Both other ranks
13/11/1917113 (all other ranks) The battle of El Mughar. KIA was Private Norman Wigglesworth. The wounded included Sgt. Fred Pickard, Privates Ramsden, Cunningham, Nightingale & Hubert Wright
14/11/1917 516 (2 officers) Action near Naane/Abu Shushe. Two officers wounded were Major Lyon and Lt. Bailey, the rest OR's - including Sgt. Brown & Private Riley
Two OR's KIA were Private Bernard Byass and Stanley Cawkill
Privates Arthur Barrett Best, William Richardson and Alexander Hetherton died of wounds
15/11/19171 Private Claude Cross died of wounds
16/11/191715 (1 officer) Private Ellis Henwood Best KIA, Lt. G.E. Smith was slightly wounded, other 4 wounded were OR's. In addition, 1 OR missing
17/11/19171 Private Harold Alexander Sketchley died of wounds (sustained on the previous day?)
20/11/19171 Private Harold Alexander Sketchley died of wounds (sustained on the previous day?)
20/11/19171 Private Frederick Deakin died of wounds
21/11/191711 Private Lionel Calam Burgess died of wounds
23/11/1917 War diary notes 91 animals killed/wounded or destroyed since 1st November, with a further 14 missing
24/11/1917 Regiment dismounted. Strength noted as 13 officers and 166 OR's
26/11/1917 They were Sgt. Major Wilson & Private Vic Thompson
28/11/1917 1
1/12/19171 Lt. R.N.M. Bailey DOW in hospital (Cairo)
9/12/1917 1Colonel Guy Wilson admitted to hospital
31/12/1917 ERY strength at 17 officers, 416 OR (after various reinforcements - see below)
Total334518At least 95 men off strength in this period
Reinforcements in 1917: ERY's War Diary
DateOfficersOther ranksNotes
2/1/1917 1 (2nd Lt. Tomlinson) 49 From 3/1st ERY
8/1/1917 80From 3/1st ERY*
10/1/1917 20From 3/1st ERY*
3/2/1917 33From 3/1st ERY*
9/5/19171 (Lt. Ullyott) 13From draft of 43 - 19 drowned on the Arcadian, 9 others in hospital?
11/6/1917 12
22/6/1917 16
3/12/1917 211Officers were Capt. Woodhouse & Capt. C.G. Lloyd
6/12/1917 48
13/12/1917 23
16/12/1917 186
Totals5* (3) 391* (338)

*But on the debit side, 2 officers & 53 other ranks left to join the 18th Machine Gun squadron on 8/1/17.
France
Not unexpectedly, transfer to units serving on the Western front resulted in the highest level of casualties among former ERY men. Particularly large numbers occurred with men transferred to the East Yorkshire regiment - for example, there were at least 9 ex Yeomanry killed whilst serving with the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in the spring / summer of 1918.

The big battles of the western front saw a number of onetime ERY soldiers killed. For example, Acting Corporal Henry Hodgson Appleton (born 1891, Raskelf, North Yorkshire) was reported missing in action on 1st July 1916 whilst serving with the 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment. His body was never found and he is recorded on the Thiepval memorial.

There were at least 10 fatalities when the ERY itself served in France (as a machine gun battalion) between June and November 1918.
At sea
It seems somewhat ironic for a cavalry regiment that about 12% of the total recorded wartime deaths occurred at sea. The ERY was unfortunate to be involved in two disasters at sea - both vessels being sunk by German U-boats.

On 15th April 1917, HMT Arcadian was sunk off Melos in the Aegean Sea. Nineteen men of the draft of 43 ERY men destined to join the 1/1st ERY in Palestine were amongst those drowned. The regiment's war diary notes 2nd Lt. (Richard Duncan) Ullyott and 13 men arriving on May 9th, with 19 reported drowned. In addition, Robert Bell was a former ERY man, then attached to the Lincolnshire Yeomanry and Harry Matthews may also have been with the ERY, though the evidence is ambiguous. So the total losses for the regiment on this occasion may have been 21. Though there were a couple of experienced NCO's in this group, the majority were young recruits.

Seven 2/1st ERY men died in the sinking of the Royal Mail Ship Leinster in the Irish Sea on 10th November 1918. Only one ERY man, Private Atkin Emerson, is thought to have survived.
Casualties aboard the Arcadian 15 April 1917
NameRankAgeService number
David Bell Corporal Shoeing Smith 23GS/18209
Robert Bell* Private19GS/18230
Wilfred Dosdale Private 23GS/18237
Reginald Waller Garside Private 19GS/18233
William Groves Private 22GS/18247
James Hawes Private 22GS/18606
Frank Hill Private ?GS/18243
Herbert Reeves Kendall Private 25GS/18254
Harry Kitching Private?GS/18255
Charles Alvara Lofthouse Corporal 42GS/18214
Harry Matthews Private 39GS/18261
George Arthur Miles Private 22GS/18476
Patrick Joseph Moore Private 25GS/18614
William Ernest Moore Private 38GS/18260
Cyril Pickering Private 24GS/18266
Walter Salvidge Private31GS/18269
Harold Stabeler Private 26GS/18273
Oswald Storry Private 20?GS/18271
Clarence Warcup Private 22GS/18280
Edward Webster Sergeant 35?GS/18205

*Formerly ERY, attached to Lincolnshire Yeomanry
Casualties on board the Leinster 10 Nov 1918
NameRankAgeService number
Frederick AutyPrivate 1916485
Edward Barradell Private18?16639
Ernest Bugg Private 1916641
Albert Edward Hunt Private 1916471
Nicholas Richard Stevens Private 249660
Thomas Henry Turner Private 1916473
Claude Whitlam Private 1916484

Several of these men are buried at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin.
Salonika
The Greece / Macedonia campaign against the Bulgarian forces (backed up by some Germans) illustrates a rather different casualty profile. At least 83 ex ERY soldiers are thought to have served in this theatre, including three whose medal cards say either 'Balkans' or 'Macedonia'. The majority left from a training camp at Withernsea on 19th September 1916, arriving in Salonika in October. Though temporarily assigned to the East Yorkshire regiment for the voyage, they were then split between a variety of other regiments.

In an area with a considerable mosquito problem, the incidence of diseases, especially malaria, was very high in this theatre. See Sickness and Unfit for more information on this. Only two fatalities in combat whilst in Salonika are known amongst former ERY men, along with two more wounded in action. A third man (William Land) fractured a leg during training (he was judged not to have been at fault) and was invalided home.

Wounded in action

The total number of ERY men known (or thought to have) served overseas is around 1500. Looking across all theatres and including former ERY men who were wounded after their transfer to other units, we find at least 97 individuals who were wounded/injured (about 6.5%). This compares to about 200 deaths in combat theatres (around 13% of the total).

The wounded figure seems suspiciously low and must reflect in part the low survival rate of service records - based on the overall casualties for the British Army in the war, one would expect a ratio of around 3:1 for wounded : fatalities. It may well also be the case that many minor wounds are simply not recorded in the service records.

A small number of soldiers (6) are recorded as having been wounded/injured more than once. 2nd Lt. Harry Talbot Rice was wounded four or five times (variously stated in the sources) on the Western Front, though these wounds all occurred after his transfer from the ERY to the Welsh Guards. 2nd Lt. Clement M. Rogan was both gassed (June 1918) and then wounded the following month, but he survived both experiences.

As well as service and pension records, the ERY's war diary for 1915-1918 was consulted for details on casualties. For other ranks, only numbers of wounded are recorded, not individual names. It is sometimes possible to identify them if their service record has survived, or their being wounded was mentioned in a newspaper report. Information from descendants of ERY soldiers has occasionally added data in this area too. A few men who later died of their wounds can also be accounted for, but many remain unidentified.

As noted above, the ERY's war diary for the period between 26th March and 1st December 1917 records 45 men being wounded and 7 being killed (plus 1 missing), leaving aside the casualties at sea. There were four officers amongst the wounded, two of whom later died.

Young Henry Goldie

Thought to be Henry Chapman Goldie. Image courtesy of Hedon Museum & the Estate of Mr W. Palmer.

2nd Lt Ronald Spicer

2nd Lt. Ronald M. Spicer. Image in private collection

Types of wound

Detailed information is only available for about half the known cases and is dependent largely on the survival of service records, as there seem to be no relevant hospital records still existing.

Taken across all theatres, and including men who had transferred from the ERY to other units, we get the following breakdown:

  • Gunshot wounds 40
  • Artillery shell wounds 3
  • Gas 16 (probably all in France and mostly with other units)
  • Shell shock 2 (Private John Francis Ullyott from Kilham, who was serving with the Australian Imperial Force at the time; Private Frederick Arthur Hogarth, of Whitby, then with the West Yorkshire Regiment - both these individuals were serving in France and had pre-war service with the ERY). Hogarth was classified as a 'mental' patient and sent back to the UK for some time, before re-joining his regiment.
  • Unknown 42

(note that some individuals fall into more than one category)

The Wounded: some individual stories

Private John Akney
Private John Akney served in the 2/1st ERY and later (from December 1916) in the 1/4th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) in France. He seems to have joined up originally because he was a groom for Edward Paget Scholfield, who was an officer with the ERY pre-war. Fairly naturally, Akney served as Scholfield's groom and transferred with him to France. He was wounded in action in November 1918, resulting in one of his arms being amputated, but returned to working for Scholfield after the war and lived until the age of 90. Material relating to him, including one of his artificial arms, is in the Goole Museums collection.
Lance Corporal Percy Botham
Lance Corporal Percy Botham, who assisted in the family fish merchant business in Beverley was another Arcadian survivor. Returning to duty, he was wounded during the British Army's push north through Palestine in November 1917. A casualty list for the 19th of that month lists him - he had a compound fracture of the right arm due to a gun shot wound. He survived the war and returned home.
Private Stanley Cawkill
Private Stanley Cawkill, a butcher's apprentice living at Burton Pidsea in 1911 was one of the survivors of the Arcadian disaster in April 1917. A letter sent home from his comrade Leonard May noted that Cawkill had been in hospital with a crushed foot after his rescue from the sinking vessel. Having returned to duty in June/July, he was killed in action on 14th November 1917.
Corporal Oswald Darneley
Corporal Oswald Darneley (who came from Hull) sustained injuries to his arm and ribs when his horse was shot from under him, probably during the 3rd Battle of Gaza in November 1917. Due to his injuries he left Egypt on 12th January 1918 for England and was medically discharged on 29th March 1918 at Canterbury. Though he continued to work in the family builder's business after the war, he evidently always suffered thereafter as a result of his injuries and the medical treatment he received for them.

Darneley's case was surely not unique - the long term effects of the war on ERY men cannot be measured solely in terms of dry statistics, but in real human pain and suffering often extending over decades afterwards, quietly enduring and perhaps often not even sharing this with their families.
Darneley

Corporal Oswald Darneley. Image in private collection.

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