David Bagley, paternal relative: Battle of Pilckem Ridge Aug 1917

David Bagley was born during July 1878 at 107 Oldbury Rd, Smethwick, Staffordshire, England and was Killed in action on the last day of The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, which was the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres at Pilckem, Belgium.

The coincidence of war is that another person related to me by marriage, in my maternal line, also died at The Battle of Pilckem Ridge - read his story here.

David Bagley was related to the the second wife of my paternal gradfather and the actual lineage is:

  • David Bagley (1878 - 1917) - husband of the niece of the wife of an uncle of the second wife of my paternal grandfather
  • Amy May Yorke (1878 - 1965) - wife of David Bagley
  • Albert Yorke (1854 - 1937) - father of Amy May Yorke
  • Mary Yorke (1816 - 1874) - mother of Albert Yorke
  • Christiannah Emma Nicholls (1857 - 1916) - daughter of Mary York
  • Charles Bassford (1852 - 1890) - husband of Christiannah Emma Nicholls
  • Mary Ann Taylor (1830 - 1900) - mother of Charles Bassford
  • Isaac Henry Bassford (1847 - 1893) - son of Mary Ann Taylor
  • Florence May Bassford (1883 - ) - daughter of Isaac Henry Bassford
  • Ephraim William Hyde (1887 - 1964) - husband of Florence May Bassford
  • Gilbert Wilfred Hyde (1916 - 2006) - son of Ephraim William Hyde
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

David Bagley's father, Levi Bagley was born during Sep 1853 at Upper Village, Coalport, Shropshire, England and he died during March 1940 in Smethwick, Staffordshire, England. Levi's father, Isaac was also born in Coalport, Shriopshire & was a china potter. Levi's mother, Mary Ann Price was born in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England. Issac & Mary married during September 1845.

Levi married Sarah Ann Humphries at Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England diring September 1875. Sarah Ann was born during April 1855 in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England and died during December 1918 in 12 Victoria St West, Smethwick, Staffordshire, England.

Chance Bros Smethwick machine shop

Levi & Sarah Ann set up home at 107 Oldbury Rd, Smethwick, Staffordshire, England and Levi was a Time Keeper at a factory. Levi & Sarah Ann had 5 children:

  • Florence Mary Bagley (1876 – unknown)
  • David Bagley (1878 – 1917)
  • Richard Walter Bagley (1880 – 1933)
  • Levi Bagley (1884 – unknown)
  • Dorothy Lilly Bagley - (1897 – unknown)

David Bagley, by 1901, was still living at home with his parents at 18 Hawthorn St, Smethwick, Staffordshire, England and he was a Clerk at glass works (possibly Chance Brothers, makers of the glass used in lighthouses & the Crystal Palace) .

David married Amy May Yorke at St Pauls, St. Paul's Road, West Smethwick, Staffordshire, England on the 1st February 1908. Amy May Yorke was born on 16 December 1878 at 23 Hill Street, Kates Hill, Dudley, Worcestershire, England and died on 21 April 1965 in Sandwell Nursing Home, West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England.

David & Amy May set up home at 36 Earls Court Road, Harborne, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England and David was by 1911 shown to be a Commercial clerk for a glass manufacturer, who I believe was Chance Brothers of Spon Lane, Smethwick.

Amy May moved back to live with her parents at 53 Barker St, Rood End, Oldbury, Worcestershire, England following David's death.

His Regiment

David Bagley enlisted in the Army sometime in 1914 (possibly not long after the outbreak of war when Kitchiner made his famous call to arms (Your Country Needs You). He was enlisted as a Private in the 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment and given Regimental number 50181. David enlisted at Smethwick.

The 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment was formed in Liverpool on 29 August 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Prescott, Lancashire was at the centre of the watch and clock making industry. This ended with the failure of the Lancashire Watch Company in 1910 and it was at the these closed works that Earl of Derby (Lord Stanley) raised the Battalion.

On the 30 April 1915 the 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment came under orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division.

On 10 December the War Office authorised the formation of the Fifth New Army. Like the other Kitchener Armies, it comprised six Divisions, in this case numbered 37 to 42. What eventually became 30th Division was originally numbered 37th. In April 1915, the original Fourth New Army was broken up and its units converted for training and draft-finding purposes. When this took place the Fifth New Army became Fourth New Army and its Divisions were renumbered to 30th - 35th: thus what we remember as 30th Division was born.

As the Earl of Derby (Lord Stanley) was a driving force behind the raising of many of the units in this Division, when asked he gave permission for his family crest to be used as the Divisional symbol. In fact the symbol used by the Division was a slight variation: the eagle looks down on a swaddled child in the Stanley crest, but in the Divisional symbol the child is replaced by a cap.

After in most cases commencing training near home, the units were moved to concentrate near Grantham in April 1915. There were severe shortages of arms, ammunition and much equipment - for example there was only one gun carriage available even by mid July and even that was for funerals! It was not until October that the artillery was in a position to commence firing practice, a few weeks after the Division had moved to the area of Larkhill on Salisbury Plain.

On 4 November the Division was inspected by Lord Derby, and entrainment began two days later. The Division sailed to le Havre and Boulogne and all units concentrated near Ailly le Haut Clocher (near Amiens) by 12 November 1915. The 30th Division subsequently remained in France and Flanders until February 1918 when there was a major Army reorganisation. Follwoing the Battles of the Somme and Lys, the reorganisation completely changed the face of 30th Division. Largely gone were the original "pals" battalions of Liverpool and Manchester, replaced in part by the London Regiment.

His Death

During 1916 & 1917, the 89th Brigade, 30th Division took part in these actions:

1916:

  • The Battle of Albert* including the Division's capture of Montauban and subsequent fighting in Trones Wood
  • The Battle of the Transloy Ridges*

The battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

1917:

  • The pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line
  • The First Battle of the Scarpe**
  • The Second Battle of the Scarpe**

The battles marked ** are phases of the Arras Offensive 1917

The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, a phase of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917

David Bagley was Killed in action on the 3rd August 1917 immediately following The Battle of Pilkem Ridge.

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, 31 July – 2 August 1917, was the opening attack of the main part of the Third Battle of Ypres.

The battle took place in the Ypres Salient area of the Western Front. The Allied attack had mixed results; a substantial amount of ground was captured and a large number of casualties inflicted on the German defenders, except on the tactically vital Gheluvelt plateau on the right flank. The German defenders also recaptured some ground on the XIX Corps front, from the Ypres–Roulers railway, north to St. Julien.

PilckemRidge1August1917StretcherBearersBoesingheAfter several weeks of changeable weather, heavy rainfall began in the afternoon of 31 July and had a serious effect on operations in August, causing more problems for the British who were advancing into the area devastated by artillery fire and which was partly flooded.

The Fifth Army (containing David Bagley's 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment) attack began at 3:50 a.m., which was intended to coincide with dawn but low cloud meant that it was still dark. The main British effort was made by II Corps across the Ghelveult Plateau, on the southern flank of the Fifth Army. II Corps had the most difficult task, advancing against the principal German defensive concentration of artillery, ground-holding and Eingreif divisions. The 17th Brigade on the right of 24th Division reached its objective 1,000 yards east of Klein Zillebeke. The 73rd Brigade in the centre was stopped by German pillboxes at Lower Star Post and 72nd Brigade on the left reached the Bassevillebeek but then had to withdraw to a line south from Bodmin Copse, a few hundred yards short of the blue line (first objective).

The 30th Division (containing the 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment) with an attached brigade of the 18th Division, had to advance across the Gheluvelt plateau to Glencorse Wood. The 21st Brigade on the right lost the barrage, as it crossed the wreckage of Sanctuary Wood and took until 6:00 a.m. to capture Stirling Castle Ridge. Attempts to advance further were stopped by German machine-gun fire. The 90th Brigade to the left was stopped on the first objective. German artillery fire fell on Sanctuary Wood and Chateau Wood from 5:00 a.m. and succeeded in stopping the advance, except for a short move forward of about 300 yards south of Westhoek. In the dark a battalion had veered left into Château Wood, in the 8th Division sector and reported that it had captured Glencorse Wood. The attached 53rd Brigade of 18th Division moved forward, into ground that both divisions believed to be clear of German defenders, it was not until 9:00 a.m. that the mistake became known to the divisional commanders. The 53rd Brigade spent the rest of the day attacking an area that 30th Division had been intended to clear. 30th Division and 24th Division failed to advance far due to the boggy ground, loss of direction in the dark and because much of the German machine-gun defence on this section of the front remained intact.

The 8th Division advanced towards Westhoek and took the Blue and Black lines relatively easily. The southern flank then became exposed to the concentrated fire of German machine-guns from Nonne Boschen and Glencorse Wood in the area to be taken by the 30th Division. The difficulties of the 30th Division further south were unknown to the 8th Division, until just before the 25th Brigade was due to advance over Westhoek Ridge. Brigadier-General Coffin decided that it was too late to stop the attack and sent a company of the reserve battalion to fill the gap to the south, which was not enough to stop German enfilade fire, so the Brigade consolidated on the reverse slope and held the crest with Lewis-gun posts. Pockets of ground lost to German counter-attacks were regained by British counter-attacks. British artillery barrages made it impossible for German infantry advance further in this area.

There were other attacks by French Army Divisions before the end of the battle.

It was recorded that Fifth Army casualties for 31 July - 3 August were 27,001, of whom 3,697 were killed. And one of the dead was David Bagley.

His Burial

Unfortunately, David Bagley is one of the many soldiers who died during the Third Battle of Ypres whose body was never recovered and has no known grave. Consequently, his passing is marked on a panel at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.

The Menin Gate

Members of The 19th (Service) Battalion (3rd City), The King's (Liverpool) Regiment are recorded on Panels 4 and 6 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

meningate-2The Menin Gate 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.

menin gate12The 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 casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). 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. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.