Ypres Casualtys last letters

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Lord_Wentworth, Apr 30, 2006.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Lest we forget

  2. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    I have a letter written by my great uncle in late April 1915. He threw it out of the train as it went though his home town station as they went to Folkestone for Embarkation. He wrote one further very short letter after arriving in France, which I also have.
    He was killed in a gas attack at St Julien Wood, 2nd Battle of Ypres on 2 May 1915.
  3. I don't know if you are aware that current army recruits all do a battlefield tour, often to the Ypres salient. St Julien is one of the places that many recruoits visit anmd they discuss the first use of chemical weapons. Any personal stories that can link the history to peopel alive today helps to bring the history alive. It makes it easier for them to identiofy with what happened. It shows the humanity behind bald facts and stone monuments.

    I think people would find your great uncle's story very interesting, particularly oif they were going to join the same regiment or your old regiment or corps. What part of the armed forces did you serve in? Would you mind copying and posting or sending a copy of the letter?
  4. I had trouble finding him on the Commonwealth War Graves site at first but I then typed his name out as "Vanryn" rather then Van Ryn.
  5. Thank you, Wentworth, for sharing that. It is vital that we not forget.

  6. Taking my Cadets to Cambrai on Thursday. Important that the little ones learn what it means to be British.
  7. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Joe was 4th Yorkshires. An account of him & his comrades can be found here:
    http://www.northallertonmemorials.org.uk/ Follow the link to Brompton & WW1, then Pte JW Burn. A transcipt of his letters is there. There are transcipts of letters from others on the site as well so a picture can be built up.
    Steve has done a lot of research & as the 4th Yorkshires were into battle almost as soon they landed quite a lot of the individual links give a fair description of what it was like.
    Joe & four other local lads were killed on 2 May.

    If you would like a copy of his actual letters PM me & I will email them.

    Editted to add:
  8. I often wonder what future historians will think of our current methods of communication?

    "And this is Pte Tommy Atkins' last text message to his fiancee from Iraq": LUV U M8 CU NXT WK XXXXXX

    :lol: :lol:

  9. 4th Yorks? I took a party of children from Stokesley School around the west front last year. Before the tour I did some research using the information in the parish records about the names on the town war memorial, with the help of a chap in Stokesley who is a one time editor of Forces Weekly Echo) I have a basic version of the "Stokesly " Project" on my PC!.

    1/4th Yorkshires was their local TA unit and we followed the story of several of the names.

    Here are some short extracts about four of soldiers killed in the same battle. Your great uncle may have known them.

    Company QMS FREDERICK ARTHUR BARR, 4th Battalion. Yorks. He was a native of Newby, and an inn-keeper at Stokesley; also dancing-master, member of the Stokesley Volunteer Band, and for many years vice-captain of the Stokesley Cricket Team. He was one of the four local volunteers who served in the South African War, and possessed the Queen’s Medal with six bars, the Volunteer Long Service Medal for 20 years service, and the 1914-15 Star. The Territorial Regiment volunteered for Active Service upon the outbreak of war; many local men were in its ranks; and on 17th April 1915 they embarked for France and Belgium. The Regiment went into action at St. Jean and St. Julien on the 24th April 1915, and on that day Sergeant Barr was wounded near Ypres. He died at Boulogne General Hospital on the 25th April 1915. His grave is in Boulogne Eastern Cemetary. He was one of three brothers who served in the forces, of whom two fell in action. He was 43 years of age. Native of Seamer, Farm, Yorks. Son of Hannah Appleton, of Newby, Nunthorpe, Yorks.

    Cpl John Thomas Caton. 4th Yorks. Solicitos clerk and athlete. On the 25 April 1915, near St Julien, at the defence of Ypres, he fell, where once was a shrine on the Fortuin Road; but his grave is unknown. He was 30 years of age and an only son. He was married, and left three children, of whom one survives.(1925ish??) Husband of Hannah Eliza Caton, of Garden House, Stokesley, Yorks.

    Pte Thomas Henry HARTAS, No 1946? of the 4th Yks, Territoral Forces. On the 4th May he was wonded, and lying in a ruin to which he had crawled, was found some days afterwards. Died in hospital at Cambridge, on the 19th May, 1915. He was buried with military hons at Stokesley on Whitsunday, the 23rd May 1915. He was 28 and was married and left 3 children. Son of Thomas and Mary Hartas, of Ampleforth, York; husband of A. E. Hartas, of West Terrace, Stokesley.

    Pte HARRY CARTER, No 1041, 4th Battalion of the 4th Yorks, was formerly a labourer, and went abroad in the spring of 1915. During the 2nd battle for the defence of Ypres, near which town Messers. Barr, Catan and Hartas had fallen; he also fell a victim. On Whitmonday, 24th May 1915, the then new poison-gas was used by the enemy, so that many of our men suffered and died in great agony. Harry Carter was one who had to face it. He was rescued in time to be taken to a Field Hospital, but his speech was taken away for some months. He was brought back to England, first to Cambridge Hospital, then to Aysgarth Sanatorium, and then to his own home, where after much and long suffering, he died on the 11th. May 1917. He was 25 years of age. At his military funeral at Stokesley on the 15th May 1917 the Stokesley band played ‘The Dead March in Saul,’ ‘Days and Moments quickly passing,’ and the Last Post was sounded. ‘Until the day dawn and the shadows flee away. : Son of John and Jane Carter, of West Green, Stokesley

    The same unit goes on to support the first tank attack on 15th September 1916 and then 3rd Ypres and ended up as one of the unfortunate units that happened to be repeatedly posted to "quiet" areas which were then the next target for a major Germans offensive in 1918.

    PM will follow with email address.
  10. how wierd im of to cambrai on thursday night as well
  11. They might use it as evidence to support how the telegram became the communications media of choice between the C19th and 21st.
  12. Pteneradon wrote about taking a party of school children to the Western Front and that he had used the names of four Stokesley boys who fell: one was my Grandfather's only male cousin,John CATON. His death was a tragedy for the family as his father (a sea captain) had perished and was buried at sea when he was a boy; and after his death in WWI, his wife returned to her own family with their one surviving son. I am in touch with his daughter, who will be glad to know her grandfather is not forgotten in his home town.
    His death resulted in my Grandfather Joseph CATON and his brother Jack (of Redcar but joined up in Normanby) joining up (also the Yorks). Jack won the Military Medal and was mentioned twice in despatches, but never receovered from the shell shock experienced in his act of valour; Grandad was sent to the MCG until he lost both legs on the Somme. A third brother Matt was a survivor of Gallipoli.
    I am thinking of them all today, and praying that our politicians will remember the sacrifices young men made then and continue to make today, and work for peace. Jan Clatworthy janine.clatworthy@btopenworld.com
  13. scaryspice

    scaryspice LE Moderator

    I have a postcard sent by my Great Uncle (Pte soldier in 11Bn KRRC) to his wife in March 1918 a week before he died, saying "don't worry about me, I'm fine".

    She didn't know he'd been killed until about 4 weeks later.... I remember her quite well as an impressive old lady who after only 2 years of marriage lived on well into her 80s as a war widow. I have his medals.