Sam Yarwood

Corporal Sam Yarwood was born in the summer of 1893 to John and Annie Yarwood.

Sam was part of the provender gang, working mostly in the Norton warehouses preparing the feed for the animals working for the Bridgewater Canal Company. This was the main provender station for the entire canal, with foodstuffs being prepared, bagged and sent out by boat to the other ‘stations’ along the line.

Sam enlisted at Liverpool and joined the 2nd Battalion of the Border Regiment, service number 4386 and attained the rank of Corporal.

On the 6th of October 1914, the Battalion was sent to France. Sam was present at the first battle of Ypres, and there when the famous Christmas Truce took place.

The Battalion was then ordered to join with the others in an effort to take the ground of Aubers Ridge from the Germans. After participating in the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge, Sam then took part in the battle of Festubert where, on the 16th May 1915, he was killed in action. He was 21.

The war diary for his battalion at this time records:

15th May 1915

The Battalion marched to trenches at FESTUBERT at 5pm. (from Hinges)

The Battalion arrived in trenches at 9pm. Previous orders had been issued as to operations on the following day.

Casualties during the night by shell fire:- 7 men in machine gun section.

 

16th May 1915

The Brigade were allotted the task of breaking the line at two points. The Border Regiment from P5 to PRINCES ROAD, roughly 150 yards and the 2nd Scots Guards from PRINCES ROAD to 150 yards to right.

At 3-15am two platoons of A company made the assault but were stopped by two of our own heavy howitzer shells, which dropped after the time the bombardment should have ceased. They advanced a second time after heavy loss and gained the German trench. They were at once supported by the remaining two platoons of A company.

An attempt was made to progress further but the advance was stopped by a ditch full of water and by heavy machine gun which enfiladed from the left.

The whole of B company was then pushed over and occupied the German front line trench with orders to hold P5 at all costs. 80 Brigade Bombers were attached to the company for this purpose. Attempts were made to bomb down the trench to the left which was still in the hands of the Germans. About 200 yards was gained but on each occasion the ground had to be given up owing to the shortage of bombs.

These parties came under fire from a trench mortar during each attempt and suffered very heavy losses, but despite their losses P5 was held until the Battalion was relieved.

About this time the communication trench P5, P4 which was our objective was made good.

The machine gunners with 2 guns were then set up to point about midway between P5 and P4 to strengthen the line.

(Caud) D Companies pushed over into the German trench and prolonged the line to the right.

During these operations the Battalion suffered very heavily. Lieut-Col  (L.J) Wood (CWG) was wounded midway between the British & German trenches and was brought in by Sgt Maj. Davenport and Corporal Coleman but died as soon as he reached the British trenches.

Major (ASW) Moffat was in command of the two leading companies and was hit in the head in the German communication trench P4,P5 and died shortly afterwards. The following officers were also killed and wounded.

Killed: 2nd Lieut. H Owen, 2nd Lieut. J (Horsley,) 2nd Lieut. (N A Krohn,) 2nd Lieut. (H G Byug,) died of wounds. 2nd Lieut.  F McCaunce, died of wounds.

Wounded: 2nd Lieut. D N Leek, 2nd Lieut. G E H Slater, 2nd Lieut. (S F) Johnson, 2nd Lieut. G P Lindsay.

 

17th May 1915

During the night the Battalion was relieved by the 1st Grenadier Guards on account of the serious losses it had sustained , and returned to the old British line where it was reorganised by Captain O M (Gackeuthorpe) who had assumed command of the Battalion.

This day was spent in bringing the wounded and burying the dead. While superintending this work, Lieut. W Kew was wounded in the leg in the early part of the afternoon.

At about 5pm the Battalion received orders to move into rescue billets near RUE L’EPINETTE. This was carried out as soon as it was dark.

The total casualties during these operations were:

Officers: 11 killed, 5 wounded.

Other Ranks: 110 killed, 240 wounded, 35 missing.