Donald Court Halsall – Killed in Action 1917

TYNE COT MEMORIAL, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Donald Court Halsall served with the 1st/2nd battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He attached to the 3rd/5th battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers on the 29 September 1917, from the 3rd battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers (Reserve). He attended Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire from 1910 to 1916 where he was a School Monitor and a Corporal in the OTC.  In December 1916 Halsall joined the Inns of Court OTC and obtained his commission in he Lancashire Fusiliers of 31 July 1917 on 1st August 1917. Before enlisting, he was engaged at the head office of the Royal Insurance Company in Liverpool. Donald was killed in action at Cambrai on 9th October 1917, aged just 19. Son of Thomas and Amy Halsall, 55 Liverpool Rd., Birkdale, Southport. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium, having no known grave.

Second-Lieutenant-Donald-Court-Halsall-CWGC-Certificate

Battle of Passchendaele – Poelkapelle

October 1917 was one of the wettest months of the century. Plumer and Gough favoured putting the offensive on hold, but Haig needed a victory. He also wanted to ensure that the Germans would not attack the exhausted French further to the south. What had originally been the goal of the first phase of the offensive now became the ultimate objective of the whole campaign: to conquer the ruins of the village on the crest of the ridge – Passchendaele. The combination of autumn rain, saturated ground, and the destruction of the local drainage system transformed the landscape into a vast sea of mud that swallowed up men, animals, and machines. Before the offensive at Poelkapelle on 9 October, the attacking soldiers needed a full eleven hours to make their way from Ypres across narrow duckboards. In addition, artillery support became difficult, as their very first shot caused guns to sink into the mud. The Allied attack on Passchendaele on 12 October ended bloodily, especially for the New Zealand troops. On 12 October 1917, the New Zealand division launched an offensive designed to take the Bellevue spur. The result was pitiful: 2,700 casualties, including 845 dead, in less than four hours. That day has been remembered ever since as the most tragic in the history of New Zealand.

Below is the account of the operations carried out by the 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers in this attack, principally on the 9th and 10th of October; information mainly from the National Archives.

Operational Orders for Attack

Operation Orders issued to Company Commanders.

(Written on 3 sheets of message pad by the 0.0.) A.S.B.1. – 8/10/17 — Reference PASSCHENDAKLE sheet 1/10,900.

1. The 66th. Division will attack and capture the BLUE line, final objective, tomorrow, The 19th. Inf Bde. will be on the right of the Div. With the 108th. Inf. Bde. on it’s left. The 199th. Inf. Bde will be in Div. reserve. Australian troops will be attacking to the right of the 66th. Div.

2. The 3/5th. LAN,FUS. will take over the front line this evening from the 2/7th. MANCHESTERS from the YPRES ROULERS railway at about the A of DABBLE AVE on the right to the ROI HAMBURG on the left, a distance of 600 yds. The 9/6th.L.F. on the left and 8/8th.L.F. on the right w1.11 leapfrog the Battalion and the 8/7th.L.F. will be in Brigade reserve. The 8/9th.MANCHESTERS will attack on the left of the 3/5th.L.F. (they wear yellow squares.) Post will be taken over as held but will be withdrawn at ZERO minus 1 hour. The remainder of the Battalion will assume attack formation on going into the line. “A”, “B”, “C and “D” Companies from right to left, each Company in 8 lines at 15 yds. distance. The Battalion frontage is 600 yds for the attack. This will be taped. The right id bounded by the railway. The left by a line running BO degrees magnetic from the G of HAMBURG to the Hof HEINE HOUSE. The railway is exclusive to the Battalion. All movements in the line and behind it must be done without any noise or flashing of lamps which would indicate fresh troops being in the line.

3. ZERO hour will be notified later. (N.B. it was 5.20 a.m.)

4. The 3/5th.L.F. will advance at ZERO and will capture the first objective, the red line, which runs from the F of HEINE HOUSE to the EAST of the 3 concrete dugouts at HILLSIDE FM to the railway 175 yds EAST of the HALT at DEFY CROSSING.

5. The barrage will come down at ZERO 150 yds in front of the line and will remain there for 4 minutes. It will move thence at 100 yds. in 6 minutes and will cross the red line about ZERO plus 30 minutes.. It will become a standing barrage 900 yds in front of the red line from ZERO plus 46 minutes to ZERO plus 106 minutes. Os. C.Coys will push out troops beyond the red line close up to the barrage until the 8/6th.L.F. and 8/8th.L.F. have come through and taken up their positions for the further advance when the troops pushed out can be withdrawn. The special role of these troops is to clear all ground up to within 40 yds of the barrage to facilitate the advance of the Leapfrogging Battalions.

6. 0.C.”A” Coy. will pay special attention to the CEMETERY which must be rushed. The 2/8th. L.F. have been instructed to be ready to assist and 2 Stokes mortars will be available if required, but rush tactics will probably prove sufficient.

7. After capturing the red line each Company will construct 2 cunettes each in the front line, also. 9 in the second line about 35 yds. in rear behind the intervals between those in the front line. In addition “B” and “D” Coys. will each construct a strong point of the sealed pattern if possible out of direct observation of the enemy on the reverse side of a slope close in rear of the line of cunettes.

8. Flares will be lit singly and not in groups of 3 when called for.

9. The greatest vigilance must be exercised after taking over the line and all Coys. will patrol carefully up to ZERO minus 1 hour.

Officers accompanying the Battalion into Action 9 October 1917

A Company
Captain G C Stevens Killed In Action
Lieut Senior
Sec Lieut Bell
Sec Lieut Glass

B Company
Sec Lieut Pickett Wounded
Sec Lieut Townsend Killed In Action
Sec Lieut Barlow
Sec Lieut Belcher

C Company
Captain Bentley Wounded
Lieut Tweedy Killed In Action
Sec Lieut Allen Wounded
Sec Lieut Halsall Killed In Action

D Company
Captain Laughlin Wounded
Sec Lieut Preston
Sec Lieut Bridgstock Wounded
Lieut Tye

Above refers to the action of October 9th to 11th. 1917.

All officers in ‘C’ company were either killed or wounded in the attack on 9 October 1917.

War Diaries – 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers

30 Sep 1917

Battalion strength 37 officers and 852 other ranks.

The Division which had been part of the XV Corps on leaving the IVth Army Area now came into the IInd Army and became part of the II ANZEC Corps which consists of 3 Australian Div, NZ Division, 49th Division, 66th Division.

2nd Lieut D C Halsall joined the battalion on the 29th from the 3rd battalion Lan Fus (Reserve)

3 Oct 1917

On the 2nd October, the battalion left CAMPAGNE near St OMER and marched into billets near EECKE a distance of 16 miles. The day was very hot and the road dusty. Notwithstanding this, the whole battalion arrived together with the exception of 2 men suffering from heat stroke. These men reported next morning from the 2/1st East Lancs Field Ambulance.

4 Oct 1917

Battalion left area next EECKE for camp at J.4.6 about 2000 yards W from  WINNIZEELE arriving by 11am.

Strength – 21 officers (including 17.0) to take part in the attack, 4 officers for details at camp

Other Ranks as follows:

                For attack            For Details           Totals

HQ          43                           104                         147

A             130                         2                              132

B             133                         2                              135

C             126                         2                              128

D             126                         2                              128

                558                         112                         670

The personnel as laid down in 55/132 left at 8am for the Corps Reinforcement camp at MORBECQUE including Major Wike, Captain Crouch and Lieut Reid, the other 2 obligatory officers being Captains Hastings (going on leave 5/10/17) and Gowland (on leave). A wet and depressing day accommodation on the camp very poor. HQ the worst the CO had yet experienced in 26 months in the BEF. Div HQ at WINNIZEELE.

At 11:15 pm received telephone message that the battalion would embark next day at 9AM, destination unknown.

Surplus list had to be at Divisional HQ by 6 am. Thus was almost impossible.

5 October 1917

Received the orders that the battalion would embark for BRANDHOEK probably arriving at 4pm. When embarking learnt that the battalion would finish the day east of YPRES. The buses were late as usual. Debussed  as above and marched to FREZENBERG Ridge where the battalion arrived at 6:30 pm. Bivouacked  here and intensely uncomfortable night. Very wet. All details were with the battalion as the CO had no information as to where to the whereabouts of the details camp.

About 9pm Lieut Thompson and Morley took the details down to BRANDHOEK where it was reported where the details camp was situated. It was not there, its actual position being about 1 mile west of YPRES asylum on the south side of VLAMERTINGHE road. The transport was instructed to proceed where it would be met and guided to billets. The latter were entirely illusionary, imaginary and non-existent.

6 Oct 1917

Remained at bivouac with no more comfort than on the previous day. Shelled intermittently, but without any casualties. The company commanders visited the assembly area. Received draft of 100 other ranks from the 19th Lancs Fus, a labourer battalion, none of these men had been in the trenches. They reached the battalion at about midnight and were allocated as follows:

A company – 23

B company – 22

C company – 26

D company – 29

This makes the attacking strength as follows:

HQ          43

A             153

B             155

C             152

D             155

Each company less probably as one or two casualties on the Ridge before marching off.

7 Oct 1917

The CO went to battalion HQ on the ZONNEBEKE road just beyond Vampire House and learnt that the attack would take place early on the 9th. CO received final instructions.

8 Oct 1917

Camp shelled intermittently all day to everyone’s discomfort.

Casualties 2 killed, 8 wounded.

Order to march at 6pm guided by Australian R.E. The battalion had been instructed to equip itself by salvaging the necessary material. This was done as far as possible. The CO and signalling officer left for the trenches at 3:45 pm to endeavour to see the ground by daylight, but were unsuccessful owing to mud etc.

Battalion left at 6:30 pm under captain Laughlin.

CO Movements reached R in Hamburg (report attached) between 8-9pm after fruitless endeavour to find CO 2/7th Manchester Regiment (who afterwards found to be at battalion HQ). The CO was in

CO Movements – reached the R in Hamburg (report attached) between 8-9pm after fruitless endeavour to find the CO Manchester regiment (who afterwards was found to be at battalion HQ).  the CO was in telephone conversation with battalion from forward battalion station, which was about 50 feet east of R in Hamburg.

No troops had arrived by 5am on the 9th

Battalion Movements Paraded at moved at 6:30 pm. Delayed by shelling. Deserted by the guide less than half way. The latter saying that the tape was continuous and guides were stationed at all doubtful points. The battalion reached a point at the end of Jack Track at about 5:15am

9 Oct 1917

Captain Laughlin and the adjutant reconnoitred with the companies at once to advance to the attack, although the barrages, both our own and the enemies had come down.

No troops had arrived by 5am. The CO at zero (5:20) thought that the battalion that the attack, as far as the battalion was concerned was off. An officer, 2 lieut Preston had been stationed at the end of Jack track but had never saw the battalion.

The CO having reported by telephone that the battalion was not present and to a certain extent comforted by the fact that troops of either the 197th or 198th battalions were on the tape at zero, stayed in the dugout.

Narrative of casualty report attached.

Battalion in action

Narrative attached

10 Oct 1917

Battalion in action

Narrative attached

11 Oct 1917

Relief complete at 6am. Battalion assembled at the Asylum, YPRES.

Embussed at 8pm for WINNIZEELE area. Same camp as before. Arrived 10pm.

12 Oct 1917

Major Mike taken to command 2/6th Lancs Fus.

Captain S J Gowland nominated as second in command of the battalion.

Brigadier paid a surprise visit to the camp and the battalion was rostered.

He made some very eulogistic remarks as to the troop action in the attack – told the battalion that he had received a formal telegram of congratulation from the Corps commander.

The men cheered him on leaving.

The CO was instructed by the Brigade to forward list of officers from all battalions whom he wished to bring to the Brigadiers notice.

Messages Sent and Received during attack

DIARY OF MESSAGES

SENT AND RECEIVED TO AND FROM Brigade Headquarters

UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED FROM 8/10/17 to 10/10/17.

Recd. BM761 Undated –

On “x” day the artillery barrage will stop at Zero plus 214. On “y” day a barrage will be put down at 4.45 am & continue till zero plus 33.

ASB 1. 8/10 10:5 pm

If I am able to report the Battalion in position by telephone, I will use the code word “MANURE” which will signify that my Battalion is on the tape in attack formation less the posts in advance. I do not expect the Battalion to be in position till, possibly very late owing to the state of the track,

ASB 2. 9/10 3.15 am

Nothing to report

ASB 3. 9/10 4.12 am

To 204 M.C.Coy & “A” Coy 2/7th Manch.

There are no signs of my Battalion which ought to relieve you & attack at zero, I am hoping it will arrive. Pending other instructions you had better withdraw your men to the tape line at 4.30 am & if we do not attack then return to your trench at 5.40 am

ASB 4. 4.26 am

To OC “B” Coy, 2/7th Manch. For your information the barrage comes down at 5.20 am If you have not received any instructions you must withdraw your men to the tape line about 150 yards in rear by 5 am at latest. Keep a good lookout. If the 2/ 9th Manchesters do not attack you must resume your trench positions at 5.40 am. This must NOT be referred to on the telephone.

ASB 5.6.5 am

No action took place on BULL front.

Recd. BM1767 Date 9/10 7 am 10/10

Push your Battn. on as units arrive & form strong fighting patrols & clear up the country – keeping touch between Australians & 198 I.B. You personally remain in front line & order other Bns of the Bde forward with all possible despatch. If no one else is available 2/9th Manchesters at present in front & support line may be of use.

ASB 6. 9/10 8.45 am

Your BM 767 received at 7 an. I found disjointed bodies of all Battalions arriving which were on their own initiative pushing on fast. I waited till it appeared no more troops were arriving & followed them up to get information. Think final objective has been occupied but difficult to ascertain strength of troops. Have sent all troops forward & am not attempting to consolidate red line. will send reports as soon as runners are collected. Everybody very cheery & German prisoners coming in in large numbers.

ASB 7  9.35am

slight counterattack without artillery fire satisfactorily dealt with opposite centre of Brigade front. 2/6th L.F. does not appear to have turned up, No L.T.M.B’s guns seen yet. 204 M.O.C. will have 4 guns about HILLSIDE in a couple of hours time for harassing fire on North of Railway. Am moving to AUGUSTUS dugouts.

ASB 8 9/10 11.6 am

Nest of machine guns in DEDLINE COPSK on the Railway still holding out. I cannot get into touch with L.I.1.B. Am arranging to deal with it with rifle grenades. 1 Coy 2/6th has arrived. Have moved my HQ from AUGUSTUS DUGOUTS to dugouts immediately West of CEMETERY on Railway embankment & can get you visually if you will observe. Adjutant wounded.

Recd.9/10 11.45pm

From 0.C.”D” Coy” Final objective reached not yet in touch with 198 or Australians.

ASB 9 12.35 pm

Cannot get touch on left with 198 Inf. Bde – men from their units are with us. Casualties believed slight but there must be a large number of men who never reached the tape line. I gather guides did not guide units right to the jumping off tape, but left them; the tape having been broken owing to the high wind made progress very difficult. Gunner Liaison Officer has arrived. Still no signs of L.I.H.B. Hear Col. Roberts slightly wounded. No signs of my M.0. Intelligence Officer or carrying party. Have not seen either C.O. of 2/7th or 2/6th, Men very bucked but quite tired after last night.

Recd. Undated 1 pm.

From B.G.C. Final objective captured. Push up ammunition via Railway track & any available men, S.A.A. can be sent up in bandoliers – it is being asked for.

ASB 10 1.6 pm

Your message received. All available men are sent up at once. Will SAA & water be sent to DASH Crossing. I do not want to spare carrying parties longer away from the line than necessary.

Heavy gunner Liaison officer reported.

ASB 11 3.5 pm 

Unless otherwise ordered all troops will move forward to the final objective at 4.30 pm. An 18 pounder protective barrage will come down at that hour 200 yds beyond the final objective. It is essential that the line is reached & held at all costs. The barrage will last for 20 minutes. All men will be pushed forward & consolidation will be carried out in depth. Divisional Commander sends his congratulations to all ranks on their success.

Recd. BM 776 9/10 3.40 pm

Hearty congratulations on the success But All men available & especially the 2/7th L.F. will be pushed forward at once to the final objective & hold it at all costs. Very urgent. The Divisnl commander adds his congratulations to all ranks on their splendid success.

ASB 12 3.45 pm

Orders have been issued as enclosed – Many thanks, on behalf of all ranks participating, for congratulations. Seldom I suppose has any attack been carried out under less favourable conditions.

ASB 13 4.25 pm

Since writing previous message find that sniping & M.G. fire from left has driven line back to red line – 198th Bde does not appear to be assisting – my numbers are dwindling. Am trying to arrange get back to final objective at 5.15 with different artillery arrangements but fear even if successful that lack of Cooperation on loft & casualties will make holding on difficult.

ASB 14 11.20 pm

At between 5.45 & 5.30 pm at Bn.HQ. behind the cemetery a stream of men was seen withdrawing on our left. The Adjutant, Holdsworth & myself immediately set out to endeavour to stay the rot. I regret to say this took some time but it was finally overcome & all men were sent back. Lt. Col. HOBBINS was in the red line at the time at my request & made every effort there to keep the men at their posts which they were leaving on the right of the line. He was not successful although he took extreme measures. I attribute this lack of discipline

1. The mixture of the 3 units of the Brigade which took part in the action. Officers seldom commanded their own men.

2.The recent inclusion on the eve of action of drafts of apparently inexperienced men of a Labour Battalion.

3. The method of approach to the trenches last night when the guides did not lead the columns to the Assembly tape.

4. The most uncomfortable circumstances of the 3 nights prior to the night of Assembly which did not add to moral. Seeing how well the 3 Battalions did in attacking this morning, I feel that if the circumstances had been normal, the Brigade would have done itself credit. The line now held runs through Bn,H.Q. W.of the Cemetery. I apologise for delay in rendering this report but my Hqtrs shared with 202 MGC & Col. HOBBINS – situated at D.16.0.6.4. received direct hits just outside the door causing 8 casualties which required attention inside the dugout. Reorganisation will not be possible tomorrow as the line is under observation & the enemy M.Gs are very active. No water has so far as I know arrived.

Recd. 10/10 6.26 am

As soon as possible report aaa .

1. If we hold the red line.

2. If we are in touch with 198 Bde on our left.

3. If 198 Bde are holding the red line.

4. If we have any troops in advance of the red line.

Report fully including action taken during action during the night. Divnl. Commander pressing for a reply.

Recd.9/10 6.40 am

Corps Commander directs that all ground gained be retained & that foremost posts be line of resistance. Organize in depth at once & gain touch with units on flanks.

ASB 15 10/10 7.5 am

officers casualties unofficial,

Killed. Captain Stevens.

Wounded. Capt. Laughlin, Captn. Rouse (at duty ) Lieut. Pickett; 2/Lt. Allen; Captn. Bentley; Lt. Tweedy: Lts. Senior & Tye; 2/Lt Glass; 2/ Lt. Belcher; 2/Lt. Bridgstock.

Known to be unwounded:- Self, Lt Moldsworth; Lt. Yapp; Lt.Be11; M.O. 2/Lt. Preston

Three unaccounted for.

ASB 16 10/10 7.10am

Message dated 2.50 am this morning received at 6.30 am Replies so far as can be made at present.

1. NO,

4. NO.

3. No. 2 &3. Reports not yet in – will be sent as soon as received,

MY ASB 14 gives details of what happened when the Bde Major was here. The Germans are apparently in the Red line. We hold posts on East of CEMETERY. Your 1.0.4 dated 4.35 pm 9th inst., received 6.40 am this morning. Water, 30 tins, just received 7 an, with Capt. Potter. Water, 20 tins, just received 7.6 am under 2/Lt. HERO, 2/7th

Recd. B.0,1 10/10 7.44 From B.C.C.

198th Bde are sending two companies to close gap between 197 & 198 & protect 197 flank.

Recd. I.0.5 7.44 From B.G.C.

Get touch with 5 Australians on your right & report when effected.

Recd. BM 779 9/10 9.22 am

By daylight 10 Oct you will be firmly established in the Red Line. With such troops of the Brigade as you have at your disposal. Captn POTTER is bringing up rations, water & solidified alcohol & SAA tonight to Bde Forward Station(where Lt. BRABY 18) He & 70 0.R. & 2 other officers will remain up in the line under your orders. They will be available for stopping a counter attack & should man a definite line. RED LINE position will be established by sending out a succession of strong fighting patrols.  When RED LINE is established patrols will be pushed forward to find if BLUE LINE is held by the enemy. Captn. POTTER will act as your staff Officer

ASB 17 10/10 9.40 am

B.0.1 received 7.45 am have seen no traces of. troops referred to. I.0.5 received 7.44 am have got into touch with 45 Bn 12 Bde 4 GW Australians Dw who are now in line on our right about red line. BM 779 received 9,22 am today. Capt. POTTER has arrived. Cannot regain RED LINE on left owing to M.G. & sniping 198th Bde are not there our line curves back from HILLS IDE FM to AUGUSTUS dugouts.

Recd. BM 91 10/10 1.10 pm

Goddard returned. Your front line will be as Divisional Commander wishes provided Chesney fills gap to right of Augustus as he was directed to do by your last night. See that he does this at once & report completion. Col. Anderton is wounded. Capt. POTTER will take charge of 6th L.F. who are behind Capt. Chesney.  Chesney was seen by Goddard on trench flanking on cemetery. Extending 45 degrees West of North.

Recd. BM 790 3.15 pm

 The exact line which the Divisional Commander has ordered to be established is from railway crossing at D.17.b.30.28 – just w. of HILLSIDIS FARM • AUGUSTUS at D.l1..4.1. Reports a ready received state. we are already on or a part of this li e- this is to be verified. Troops in front of the line will not be withdrawn but any front line posts in rear will be pushed forward on to it. 3rd Aust. Div. report their left at D.17.b. 30.28 Touch is to be maintained with them 198 Inf. Bde are patrolling to obtain touch with this Bde every assistance will be given Report as soon as possible that above line is in our hands & that our right in touch with the Australians. Report also when 198th I.B. have established touch with you.

ASB 101 10/10 5.30 pm

Line is outlined is held an in touch with Australians 198th Inf Bde has not got into touch with me yet.

ASB 20 5.40 pm

Reference position ordered for Col. HOBBINS to put 600 men. It is quite open & under usual barrage line. I am of opinion very strongly that the men will be absolutely useless if required. We have been under continual harassing fire all day – casualties heavy, in fact I doubt our having 600 0.R. with Brigade.

Casualties in Battalion

Killed

Wounded

Missing

Total Casualties

At start of action

Officers

4

6

1

11

16

Other Ranks

43

198

54

304

515

Report of Action

Subject. Action of October 9th – 11th. 1917.

Headquarters, 107th. Infantry Brigade.

Reference Message map No.14 1/10,000.

1. Attached is a diary of messages sent and received to and from Brigade

unless otherwise stated. The following notes are in amplification of its

2. I went up on the afternoon of Oct.8th with Lt. HOLDSWORTH in an endeavour to see the ground by daylight. I could not get into touch with the H.Qs. of the 2/7th MANCHESTERS whom, prior to the attack, I was to relieve and finally took up my position in a shelter occupied by the 204 M.G. Coy. (Lt. WALLSGROVE) at the R in HAMBURG. This was close to Advanced Brigade Report Centre. Finding no troops of either this Brigade or the 19th. in position at 5 a.m. I left Lt. PRESTON at the head of JACK TRACK to report to me the moment any troops began to arrive. Just before ZERO I sent a telephone message to you that no troops had reached the tape line. My further action is set out in the copies of messages attached.

3. When I arrived at the tape line soon after 7 a.m. prisoners were on their way down unescorted and with every appearance of being beaten men. I feel sure that, with adequate support on the flanks, the Brigade could have held on to the BLUE line.

4. I never got into touch with the 198th. Inf. Bde. during the two days. I was in touch with the AUSTRALIANS across the cutting at the HALT and this was confirmed to me by the G.5.0.3 of their Division who visited me on the afternoon of the 10th. I never saw any L.T.M. during the two days. The 202 M.G. Coy did excellent work.

5. In the counter attack on the 9th. afternoon we, undoubtedly killed a lot of Germans, One Company. estimates that there were 75 – 100 bodies in front of them which were collected by the enemy under a Red cross flag on the afternoon of the 10th.

6. Enemy aeroplanes were very active on the morning of the 10th. as many as 16 being low in the air at once over our lines.

7. Early on the 10th, the enemy had the impudence to send over a note

“Will you come over prisoners, we don’t shoot.” This was returned and the Sergeant taking it was instructed to try and find out what the enemy’s dispositions were. He reported that they appeared to be entrenched about 150 yds in front, in strength probably less than our own. Neighbouring troops were warned in case the message was a ruse.

8. At about 9.30 p.m. 10th. two prisoners who were captured reported 2 Regiments to be lying in a copse to the S.E. across the road expecting. an attack by us, but with no intention of attacking themselves. This report was sent down to me but never reached me.

9. Bombs were used as by night the enemy was able to creep from shell hole to shell hole without being seen.

10. I regret these notes are disjointed but my view of the Brigade front  was very limited.

14/10/17

Lieut. Colonel,

Commanding 3/5th.LAN.FUS.

Press Announcements

Report appearing in the Liverpool Echo – Wednesday 17 October 1917

The Regiment

In 1881 the Childers Reforms restructured the British army infantry into a network of multi-battalion Regiments each having two regular and two militia battalions.  The Regiment managed to avoid amalgamation but the number of precedence was dropped and became the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1881.  The Regiment went on to serve during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) fighting at Spion Kop and the Relief of Ladysmith in 1900 as well as two World Wars.  Due to Government Defence Reviews on the 23rd April 1968 the Regiment was merged with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, The Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) to form The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers of the Queens Division.

The Regiment raised 30 Battalions and was awarded 63 Battle Honours and 6 Victoria Crosses losing 13,640 men during the course of the first world war. From 1915 to October 1916 the famous author J. R. R. Tolkien served as a second leutenant in the 11th Battalion of the Regiment until he contracted ‘trench fever’ during the Battle of the Somme.

2/5th Battalion Territorial Force
09.09.1914 Formed in Bury then moved to Mossborough and on to Southport as part of the 197th Brigade of the 66th Division.
17.04.1915Moved to Bedford and transferred to the 3rd Highland Brigade of the Highland Division.
04.05.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne where the formation became the 154th Brigade of the 51st Division.
During 1915
The Battle of Festubert, The Second Action of Givenchy.
07.01.1916 Transferred to the 164th Brigade of the 55th Division.
During 1916
The Battle of Guillemont, The Battle of Ginchy, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval.
During 1917
The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Menin Road Ridge.
During 1918
The Battle of Estaires, the Defence of Givenchy, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The capture of Givenchy craters, The capture of Canteleux trench, the Final Advance in Artois.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Belgium, Ath.

Personal Life

Donald Court Halsall was born in late 1898 to Thomas and Amy (nee Court) Halsall at Birkdale, Southport, Lancashire, England. He had a sister, Winifred, born in 1890 and baptised on 5 Oct 1890 in St James, Birkdale, Lancashire, England.

He later had a brother, Geoffrey Owen, was born on 2 Sep 1900 in Birkdale, Lancashire, England.

He was age 2 and living with his parents on the 1901 UK Census on 31 Mar 1901 at 17, Liverpool Road in Birkdale, Southport, Lancashire, England.

He was age 12 and a residential pupil in a School in the 1911 UK Census on 2 Apr 1911 at Worcester Street in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, England. He attended Bromsgrove School from 1910 to 1916 where he was a School Monitor and a Corporal in the Officer Training Corp

He joined the Inns of Court Training Officer Training Corp on 6 December 1916, attaining the rank of Lance Corporal.  

He was transferred into the Lancashire Fusiliers and commissioned as a second lieutenant on 31 July 1917.

He died on 9 Oct 1917 at age of 18 years and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

His mother died on 17 Nov 1925 at age of 61 years  and his father on 27 Jul 1930 at age of 64 years, both in Southport.

Census Records

Grave Details

His war grave details can be seen here.  This links to the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website.

Remembered in Birkdale Cemetery.

Donald is remembered on his parents headstone in Birkdale Cemetery – Section H

In Most Loving Memory of
AMY,
THE DEAR WIFE OF
THOMAS HALSALL,
DIED NOV 17th 1925, AGED 62.
‘AND THEY SHALL SEE HIS FACE.”
ALSO OF THE ABOVE NAMED
THOMAS HALSALL,
HUSBAND NAD FATHER OF THE BELOVED
DIED JULY 27th 1930, AGED 64.
ALSO OF
DONALD COURT,
THEIR ELDER SON,
2nd lt. LANCS. FUSILIERS,
KILLED AT PASSCHENDDAELE.
OCT 9th 1917, AGED 19.
PRO PATRIA MORI

Cemetery Details – TYNE COT MEMORIAL

The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing forms the north-eastern boundary of Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is located 9 kilometres north east of Ieper town centre, on the Tynecotstraat, a road leading from the Zonnebeekseweg (N332). The names of those from United Kingdom units are inscribed on Panels arranged by Regiment under their respective Ranks. The names of those from New Zealand units are inscribed on panels within the New Zealand Memorial Apse located at the centre of the Memorial.

The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.

The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations, except New Zealand, who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. Other New Zealand casualties are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

The TYNE COT MEMORIAL now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and F.V. Blundstone, was unveiled by Sir Gilbert Dyett on 20 June 1927.

The memorial forms the north-eastern boundary of TYNE COT CEMETERY, which was established around a captured German blockhouse or pill-box used as an advanced dressing station. The original battlefield cemetery of 343 graves was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck, and from a few small burial grounds. It is now the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials. At the suggestion of King George V, who visited the cemetery in 1922, the Cross of Sacrifice was placed on the original large pill-box. There are three other pill-boxes in the cemetery.

There are now 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Tyne Cot Cemetery, 8,373 of these are unidentified.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

You can view the details for this cemetery on the Commonwealth Grave Commission’s website here.

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