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Deaths in the ERY
|Middle East||40||27 with the ERY/MGC, 13 later, mostly with the Imperial Camel Corps|
|Salonika||5||(including two deaths from dysentery/influenza)|
|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|
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?
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.
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.
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.
|31/12/1916||Effective strength 27 officers and 414 OR's|
|26/3/1917||1||2||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||15||After 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||1||Major 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||1||Major Reynard admitted to hospital|
|6/11/1917||2||Both other ranks|
|13/11/1917||1||13 (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||5||16 (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
|15/11/1917||1||Private Claude Cross died of wounds|
|16/11/1917||1||5 (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|
|17/11/1917||1||Private Harold Alexander Sketchley died of wounds (sustained on the previous day?)|
|20/11/1917||1||Private Harold Alexander Sketchley died of wounds (sustained on the previous day?)|
|20/11/1917||1||Private Frederick Deakin died of wounds|
|21/11/1917||1||1||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|
|1/12/1917||1||Lt. R.N.M. Bailey DOW in hospital (Cairo)|
|9/12/1917||1||Colonel Guy Wilson admitted to hospital|
|31/12/1917||ERY strength at 17 officers, 416 OR (after various reinforcements - see below)|
|Total||33||45||18||At least 95 men off strength in this period|
|2/1/1917||1 (2nd Lt. Tomlinson)||49||From 3/1st ERY|
|8/1/1917||80||From 3/1st ERY*|
|10/1/1917||20||From 3/1st ERY*|
|3/2/1917||33||From 3/1st ERY*|
|9/5/1917||1 (Lt. Ullyott)||13||From draft of 43 - 19 drowned on the Arcadian, 9 others in hospital?|
|3/12/1917||2||11||Officers were Capt. Woodhouse & Capt. C.G. Lloyd|
|Totals||5* (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.
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.
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.
|David Bell||Corporal Shoeing Smith||23||GS/18209|
|Reginald Waller Garside||Private||19||GS/18233|
|Herbert Reeves Kendall||Private||25||GS/18254|
|Charles Alvara Lofthouse||Corporal||42||GS/18214|
|George Arthur Miles||Private||22||GS/18476|
|Patrick Joseph Moore||Private||25||GS/18614|
|William Ernest Moore||Private||38||GS/18260|
*Formerly ERY, attached to Lincolnshire Yeomanry
|Albert Edward Hunt||Private||19||16471|
|Nicholas Richard Stevens||Private||24||9660|
|Thomas Henry Turner||Private||19||16473|
Several of these men are buried at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin.
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.
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
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.