This week saw the commemoration of the 101st Anniversary of the death of two local men of the 2nd/5th Battalion Duke of Wellingtons West Riding Regiment.

Our first was Baston man Ernest Arthur Turner. Ernest was born in Baston in spring of 1893, the son of William Turner, a farm labourer born in Baston Fen and his wife Emma Tyler of Helpston.

Ernest was one of 9 children to be born to the couple before 1911 of which they had sadly lost 2.

In 1901 Ernest is living with his parents in Baston Fen, 1911 finds him still with his parents but by now he is aged 17 and working as a farm labourer.

It is not known when Ernest enlisted in Lincoln but the medal rolls tell us that he did not see active service abroad until after 1915. His brother Sidney had been killed serving in Galipoli in August 1915 with the 6th Lincolnshire.

As Ernest’s military records have not been found we can assume they were destroyed in the WW2 warehouse fire caused by the blitz.

As we cannot be sure when Ernest joined his regiment we can only look at his movements from his Battalion’s diary in the last month of his life.

2nd/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment
62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.

Battalion Diaries

1st April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion moved from Achiet le Petit, Achiet Le Grand and Gomecourt into Behagnies.
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

2nd April 1917 – Behagnies
Five men of C Company accidently wounded by explosion of bomb or hidden German device in billet.
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

3rd April 1917 – Behagnies
German aeroplane destroyed two obversation balloons at Behagnies and though fired on escaped.
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

4th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

5th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

6th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

7th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

8th April 1917 – Behagnies
Battalion on working parties at R A ammunition dumps and roads

9th April 1917 – Behagnies
Brigade practice attack for coming attack on Bullecourt

10th April 1917 – Behagnies
5am Battalion left for concentration of troops behind Ecoust ready to move through as advanced guard in the event of the Anzac corps, who were attacking, breaking through. Troops were ordered back at 7.15am as attack had been postponed.

11th April 1917 – Behagnies
5am Battalion again left for concentration behind Ecoust. Anzacs take both 1st and 2nd objectives but later in the day are driven out. Battalion with other units of brigade billet at Mory.

13th April 1917 – Mory
2ns Lieut Fisher and 12 other ranks along with similar parties from other units of the brigade, successfully fired BangaloreTorpedoes in the enemy wire West of Bullecourt. The Divisional Commander expressed his appreciation of this work.
14th April 1917 – Mory
Lieut L D Goldseller the battalion signal officer was mortally wounded whilst reconnoitring the German position South West of Bullecourt. He was accompanied by four battalion guides who were able to carry him back to Ecoust. As a result of this no 5036 Private E C Rust was awarded the Military Medal and no 5222 Pte C Crabtree and No 5100 Private C Chapman were mentioned in Divisional Orders.

15th April 1917 – Mory
Lieut L D Goldseller was buried by the Jewish Chaplain opposite Mory Abbye (B22a.6.8 – sheet 57c.N.W.

17th April 1917 – Mory
During the afternoon the emeny shelled the Eastern outskirts of Mory where the Battalion was bivouaced and caused casualties of 3 men killed and 9 men wounded in the Battalion. Camps were then moved into the open South of Mory.

15th to 30th April 1917 – Mory
Battalion was employed along with other units of the Brigade repaving Mory roads, the carrying of gas shells forward for special company Royal Engineers, digging in of cable between L’Homme Mort and Ecoust also on filling in craters in Mory and Ecoust.
During this period special training was carried out in practicing the attack on the Hindenberg line at Bullecourt.

1st May 1917 – Mory
9am to 12.30pm Companies employed in making strong posts and specialist training
2-4pm Companies went over miniature trench system of Bullecourt and studied the roads and trenches and barrage lines.

2nd May 1917 – Mory
9am to 12.30pm Interior economy and preparation for going into the line. Afternoon companies again went over miniature trench system of Bullecourt.
9.15pm battalion marched to Ecoust (Embankment) where they drew mats for getting over wire, bridges for crossing trenches and bombs. They then formed up on tape line ref Map1:10000 Ecoust St Mein U26.d.9.9 to V26.b.7.1 all was completed by 1.30am and without casualties. Tanks followed the battalion down from L’Homme Mort to Ecoust.

3rd May 1917 – Ecoust
3.45am Zero hour, at Zero hour minus 8 minutes Battalion were moved forward to attack Hindenberg Line West of Bullecourt. A heavy barrage commenced at Zero. A company reached objective and held it until 4pm when they were counter attacked and bombed out, they returned on to embankment, B, C and D companies came under heavy shell fire, rifle and machine gun fire and were held up in front of Enemy front line trench, small parties holding out in shell holes until after dusk when they returned to embankment. Battalion suffered heavy casualties. The following officers were killed, Captain and Adj T Bentley, Lieut D Walker. Missing believed killed 2nd Lieut Jacobs. Missing Captain G Glover, Lieut G Ridley MC, 2nd Lieut E T Sykes, 2nd Lieut Heaton, 2nd Lieuts Darwent and Hutton. WoundedCaptain W Shaw, 2nd Lieuts Fisher A and Simmonds. Shell Shock Lieut K C Feathers and Captain Walker J.
N.P Ot Men Killed 2, Missing 123, Wounded 275

8pm Six posts were put out in W26C&D under Captain Goodall. Lieut Haigh went out with stretcher bearers to bring in wounded.

4th May 1917 – Ecoust
Battalion still holding the line, wounded dribbled in all day, shelling was heavy at night. Battalion were relieved by 2/6th and 2/7th Duke of Wellingtons and marched back by companies to Mory Cops into camp. During relief there were no casualties. Arrived Mory Cops about 2am next day.

Ernest Turner was missing presumed dead on the actions of the 3rd May 1917 when his Battalion attacked the Hindenberg Line at Ecoust.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Ernest Arthur Turner, 241641, 2nd/5th Bn, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment who died on 3 May 1917.
Remembered with honour, Arras Memorial.
Ernest is also remembered on the Baston War Memorial, in the St John the Baptist Church.

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