Military Service Timeline:
Abraham was born in Langtoft in 1879, 6th child born to William Warn, a cottager with his 2nd wife Martha Coddington. William and Martha were married on 6th March 1977 in Langtoft where William already had three children from his first marriage. The couple went on to have a further five children.
Fanny Warn, 1861, Baston (Half sister)
Mary J Warn, 1865, Langtoft (Half sister)
Lucy Warn, 1869, Langtoft (Half sister)
George Warn, 1877, Langtoft
William Warn, 1878, Langtoft
Abraham Warn, 1879, Langtoft
Thomas Warn, 1886, Langtoft
Albert Warn, 1891, Langtoft
Abraham’s father William passed away before 1901, where Abraham can be found living with his mother in Stow Road Langtoft. He worked as a farm labourer on the Langtoft farm of Mr J. Thurlby of Baston before enlisting in the army with the Prince of Wales’ own West Yorkshire Regiment.
Although Abraham has no surviving service records we know that he enlisted in Market Deeping and the war gratuity payment would indicate an enlistment after March of 1916 initially being given the number 4474. It was during the restructuring of the territorial units numbering during 1916 that Abraham would be reassigned a new service number of 202055.
The Military Service Act 1916 was brought into action in January 1916 and every single man under the age of 41 was deemed to have enlisted for conscription into the services on 2nd March 1916 and so it is most likely that Abraham was conscripted to the Army. It was possible for employers of men who were in protected occupations such as agriculture to appeal at local tribunal to carry on their necessary work but this does not appear to have happened in Abraham’s case.
The 2/5th West Yorkshire Regiment had been formed at York in September 1914 and were to join the 185th Brigade of the 62nd Division.
They were based in Thoresby Park, Retford and then Newcastle in 1915 before moving to Salisbury Plain in January 1916. June 1916 saw them moved from Salisbury to Somerleyton near Lowestoft and then on to Bedford before being mobilised for the Western Front in January of 1917.
Although we have no records we can be fairly sure that Abraham would have trained with the Battalion in 1916 and been with them when they were mobilised for war.
The Peterborough telegraph reported that Pte Abraham Warn, son of Mrs Warn, of Stowe-road, Langtoft visited his home on final leave on Boxing Day before setting of to go to France on the 5th January.
We look at the Battalion Diaries to carry on with Abraham’s Story of his arrival on the western Front and his first taste of trench warfare in which he was to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Moved from Somerleyton Camp to Bedford (Queens Park Area) men almost entirely in billets.
Orders received to be ready for embarkation by 5th January 1917
Battalion left Bedfford under Lt Col J Josselyn T.D. Comdg for Southampton in two parties. Arrived Southampton same day + embarked at about 6pm for Le Havre. Passage rather rough, a large number of the men were seasick but all were safely disembarked at about 7am 6/1/17
The battalion marched to No 1 Rest Camp SANVIC + were accommodated under canvas for the day and night of 6/1/17. One man sent to hospital at Le Havre.
The Battalion less 3 officers and 100 other ranks entrained at Le Havre (Gare de Marchandises Pont 3 ) in three parties. Officers were accommodated in Class II Compartments + other ranks and horses in trucks. Travelling was slow and the journey occupied 22 hours, the YMCA canteens were much appreciated by all ranks.
8/1/17 – Frevent and Fortel
The battalion (less 3 officers and 100 other ranks) arrived safely at Frevent at about 2pm on 8/1/17 and detrained quickly, the weather was bad, snow and sleet falling: The unit marched from Frevent to Fortel (about 5 miles) and occupied billets under the direction of Monsieur Violette (attached as interpreter) the billets consisted principally of barns and outbuildings in a very dilapidated and dirty condition, + the men were somewhat crowded.
3 officers and 100 other ranks reported on 9/1/17 + joined their respective companies.
Billets re-arranged a little + the men made more comfortable. Weather still cold + unsettled. 2/6th Bn West York Regt arrived + were billeted in adjoining village Bonnieres. Special attention paid to anti-gas training.
Training continud particular attention being paid to anti-gas training and bayonet fighting. Weather better but cold. Men issued with leather jerkins and gloves. Heavy gun fire heard during the day at a considerable distance in a S.E. direction.
Training continued. Snow fell most of the day. At 4pm orders were received from divisional HQ to send a fatigue party of 300 men to proceed to a point about 3 miles W of Fortel station where an ammunition train had been wrecked. This party transferred the ammunition from the wrecked trucks into another train and helped to clear the line as all traffic was suspended meanwhile. The work was completed by 11:30pm. A+B Companies under Capt A E Green formed the party. The 2/1st W. R. Field Ambulance passed through Fortel on the way to Boffles at 11.30pm.
As can be seen from the diaries they are very detailed and are a very good read as they give some of the best insight into the first in field training of a battalion.
The Battalion continued training until the 22nd January when they moved from Fortel in to the Beauval Area. They reached Terramesnil that night before proceding the next day to Couin.
The whole day was spent almost entirely in cleaning + improving the ground + shelters + inspecting feet, rifles etc.
A Company proceeded to the trenches occupied by the 19th Division + were attached to a battalion of the division for training. The other three companies continued training and provided various working parties as required.
Between the 25th and 28th January A,B and C companies each took turns as a day in the trenches with the others training and providing working parties.
On the 28th Two casualties in A company were reported, the first of the Battalion, and one was later returned to the Battalion. D company received orders to go direct to the trenches on the 29th.
By the 1st February the Battalion had moved to Maillywood and were then tasked with providing working parties around the area and on the 2nd it was reported that A company were shelled whilst providing a working party on Hawthorn Ridge near Beaumont Hamel. As a result of the casualties it was decided that the work to be done should be carried out at night. Two of the men wounded in this shelling later died and were the first deaths in the Battalion. The 6th saw another 4 deaths in the working parties.
The working party supply continued on Hawthorn ridge, Courcelles-Sailly.
Working parties carried on with their work without any casualties. The C.O and company commanders are going up to the line about Beaucourt Road to reconnoitre with. A view to possible taking over in the near future. 12 stoves arrived a very welcome addition to our camps.
Over the next few days orders were received to take over the line and posts around Ten tree Alley, Lager Alley, Munich Trench with 2/8th West Yorks on the right and 97th Brigade on the right. This was due to take plac on the 12th/13th February.
On the 12th February the working parties were cancelled but verbal orders were received that the battalion would probably not move up for their first full tour of the trenches until the 14/15th. The 13th was then spent training and working on the camp.
The battalion diary is very detailed about the move up to the trenches and unusually over one page is written about each day. The Battalion took over the lines as per the written orders and held the line, sending out patrols over the next few days.
16th / 17th February 1917
All three companies in the front line were shelled intermittently in the forenoon and all had casualties, considerable equipment and trench stores damaged by shell fire. Stores instigated on the previous day for wiring and improving posts. The wires from Battalion HQ back to the Brigade + to the artillery were broken most of the time s heavy barrage fire was put up by the enemy on the advanced posts and advanced Company HQ for some considerable time during the morning and many casualties were suffered, the centre company HQ being set fire to by shellfire and some rifles and gumboots, a Lewis gun + other stores damaged as well as petrol tins in this and the right company causing loss of the large part of the day’s supplies of water. 2/Lt H A Girling was slightly wounded in the foot and was brought in under shell fire by Pte Plumb who carried him on his back as afar as one of the support posts + thence with assistance to the relay post of the advanced dressing station.
Orders (appendix 6) for relief received at 10pm and orders issued to Companies (appendix 6a). A party of Germans was observed moving across the open towards the centre Com Post and was dispersed by Lewis Gun and rifle fire. The machine Gun Corps occupying post in the line fired at night into the position at the junction of Push and Puisieur Alleys in accordance with orders. A good point of observation of the enemy’s position was discovered by the C.O. in the neighbourhood of Highland Post. During the afternoon the O.C 2/8th West Yorkshire Regt with the adjutant and company commanders came up to HQ and were given all possible information as to the posts, situation, patrol reports and general dispositions and guides were arranged to meet the incoming Battalion at various points where they required them. Later in the afternoon the O.C. 2/8th Battalion suggested a postponement of the relief owing to the mist but there seemed to be no reason to agree to this + later in the evening the mist lifted. The first company of the 2/8th battalion from Beaucourt trench did not stand out before 9.30pm and returned about 2 hours afterwards, there was much confusion and straggling and the company for the relief of the centre company did not get up at all. None of the companies with the support company could be relieved. HQ were relieved. The night was quiet there was no shelling of the Divisional Track or the whole front.
18th February 1917 – Y Ravine
On the 18th stragglers of the 2/8th for the relief of the right company were shelled in the early morning and also advanced posts of the centre and left company and their company headquarters. HQ moved to Y Ravine and B company up into Beaucourt Trench and The Triangle as a tactical reserve to the 2/8thth. The relief of all companies was carried out at dusk with the exception of one post on the right company. It was stated by the company commander of the right company of the 2/8th that all posts had been relieved but it was found that No 10 post had been left out when the whole of the right company had assembled in Y ravine. That company was to be relieved the following night and eventually by the night of the 20th the Battalion was to move to Bolton Camp arriving on the 21st after seven days in and around the line and a vary precarious relief.
It was on the 17th February 1917 that Private Abraham Warn was killed in action most likely as a result of the shelling that was described in the Battalion diary.