War Diaries Talk

Stories within a Casualty List

  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    We often look at a list like this and see nothing but a list of names. Yet a little investigation reveals a great deal about some of these men and the grief and anguish likely experienced by their families.

    Four of these men were taken prisoner, although the list states only "Missing," and later died in prisoner of war camps or hospitals in Germany, far from their "pals" from Hull and family back home. These were Ptes. Bruce, Sole, Battye, and Walsh.

    A fifth man, Pte. Speed, is now buried in the H.A.C. Cemetery in Ecoust-Saint-Main. This area was behind German lines at the time of the assault on 13 November 1916, during which all these casualties occurred. The CWGW states that this cemetery now contains men, both German and British, brought in from other cemeteries after the war ended, all of which were behind enemy lines in November 1916. It appears that Pte. Speed was wounded and captured; he died on 18 November. Once again, he was likely alone and possibly too badly wounded to be moved to Germany.

    Yet another man, Pte. Matthias Kay, had been wounded earlier that fall and returned to the battalion just four days before he was killed.

    All of this information was easily found on each man's page on Lives of the First World War, although I did a little extra looking on the CWGC site about Pte. Speed.

    I take the time to look up these men on casualty lists because it turns them into real people for me. If you choose to do this as well, just remember to tag them as they are listed on the page and make notes of corrections in the Comment box.