Charles William Akroyd, paternal relative: First Phosgene Attack, Wieltje nr Ypres Dec 1915

Charles William Akroyd was born during October 1893 at 15 Albert Road, Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire-West Riding, England and he was the uncle of the wife of the 1st cousin of the wife of my 1st cousin 1x removed and directly related to my father's mother.

The actual lineage is:

  • Charles William Akroyd (1893 - 1915)
  • Joseph (Joe) Akroyd (1858 - 1938) - father of Charles William Akroyd
  • Harold (Harry) Akroyd (1889 - 1942) - son of Joseph (Joe) Akroyd
  • Muriel Akroyd (1918 - 2006) - daughter of Harold (Harry) Akroyd
  • Ronald Gilbert Lewis (1912 - 1941) - husband of Muriel Akroyd
  • Harold William Joseph Lewis (1874 - 1944) - father of Ronald Gilbert Lewis
  • William Henry Lewis (1848 - 1930) - father of Harold William Joseph Lewis
  • Oswald Priestley Lewis (1876 - 1946) - son of William Henry Lewis
  • Edith Jennie Lewis (1916 - 1968) - daughter of Oswald Priestley Lewis
  • Noel Edgar Milton (1913 - 1987) - husband of Edith Jennie Lewis
  • Laura Minnie Davies (1884 - 1972) - mother of Noel Edgar Milton
  • Joseph Albert Davies (1862 - 1905) - father of Laura Minnie Davies
  • Alice Maud Davies (1887 - 1948) - daughter of Joseph Albert Davies
  • Gilbert Wilfred Hyde (1916 - 2006) - son of Alice Maud Davies (my father)
  • William G Hyde - me

Charles William was killed during the first ever German Phosgene gas attack against British troops on 19 December 1915, at Wieltje north-east of Ypres in Belgian Flanders.

His Family

Charles William's father was Joseph (Joe) Akroyd, stone mason, who was born during October 1858 in Barkisland, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. His father, Enoch, was also a stone mason.

Charles William Akroyd was a Plumber's Apprentice at the time he volunteered for the Army at the begining of World War One in August 1915.

Charles William Akroyd was last born child of Joseph (Joe) Akroyd & Hannah A Greenwood:

  • Hettey L Akroyd 1878–1958 (poss)
  • Mary Ann Akroyd 1880–1960
  • Clifford Akroyd 1882–1961
  • Thomas Akroyd 1884–1964
  • Harold (Harry) Akroyd 1887–1942
  • Charles William Akroyd 1893–1915

At the time of Charles William's death, the Commonwealth Graves Commission recorded Joseph (Joe) Akroyd & Hannah A Greenwood & family's home to be at 12, Rochdale Rd., Ripponden, Halifax, Yorkshire.

His Military Service & Death

Entrance Wellesley Barracks Halifax!st/4th Battalion (of Territorial Force), Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment) was raised soon after war was declared on 5 August 1914 at Wellesley Barracks, Halifax, Yokshire, England as part of 2nd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. And 21 year old Charles William Akroyd was an early volunteer, being given regimental Number 1033.

The 1st/4th Battalion were soon mobilised and moved to East Coast   defences near Hull and Grimsby.

The Battalion was moved again on 5 November 1914 to billets in Doncaster, Yokshire.

On 31 March 1915 the West Riding Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began in Doncaster on 12 April. Divisional infantry went via Folkestone-Boulogne while all other units went from Southampton to Le Havre. By 19 April the Division had concentrated in the area of Estaires – Merville – Neuf Berquin France, one of the many Army staging areas behind the front lines.

The Division was moved to the Western Front prior to the Battle of Aubers Ridge, which started on 9 May 2015.

Following that battle, the remmnants of the West Riding Division reformed & re-equipped to become the 147th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.


His Death

By December 1915 the 147th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division were on the front line at Wieltje north-east of Ypres in Belgian Flanders when a German plan became known for a mass gas attack on the British lines. The information was gleaned from a captured German and the Army brass ordered an artillery barrage on the German trenches because the captured soldier said that their foe, the German 4th Army were preparing a specialist gas Pioneer regiment to use a mixture of chlorine and phosgene gases against the British lines.The warning was issued to all of 4th Corps on 15 December 1915.

Unfortunately, a shortage of artillery rounds meant that the 49th (West Riding) Division's guns were unable to disrupt the planned attack, which took place on 19 December 1915. The release of the gases was accompanied by German raiding parties attacking along the British positions, most of which were engaged with small-arms fire while attempting to cross no-man's land.

Althogh British troops were by that time equipped with anti-gas helmets, these helmets had not been treated to repel Phosgene gas and consequently there were many casualties & deaths amongst the troops, one of whom was Sergeant Charles William Akroyd, regimental number 1033.

Only the 49th Division had a large number of gas casualties, caused by soldiers in reserve lines not being warned of the gas in time to put on their helmets. A study by British medical authorities, arrived at a figure of 1,069 gas casualties, of whom 120 men died.


Talana farm CemeteryHis Burial

Charles William Akroyd has a grave reference (IV. H. 11) in theTalana Farm Cemetry, located on the Diksmuidseweg road (N369) in the direction of BoezingeMoved, Belgium, just a few miles Ypres.

Talana Farm Cemetry

The commune of Boesinghe (now Boezinge) lies on both sides of the Yser Canal. The village itself is on the West side of the canal, and was, during the greater part of World War One, directly faced by the German front line on the East side; but to the South of it the German line sloped away from the canal South-Westward, and Talana Farm was thus just a kilometre from the edge of the Salient.

Dragoon Camp was across the canal, due East of the village, and within the German lines until the 31st July, 1917.

Talana Farm was one of a group of farm houses named by the army from episodes of the South African war.

The cemetery was begun by French troops in April 1915, taken over by the 1st Rifle Brigade and 1st Somerset Light Infantry in June 1915, and was used by fighting units until March 1918. Buried in Plot II, Rows E and F are a number of men of the 1st East Lancashire Regiment who died in a small, but successful attack on 6 July 1915. Plots III and IV contain many 49th (West Riding) Division graves and also those of the artillery units that took over the ground in August 1917.

There are now 529 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 14 of the burials are unidentified and there are special memorials to six casualties whose graves in the cemetery could not be located and ten, in Plot I, Row E, are identified as a group, but not individually. It is probable that the cemetery contained other graves later destroyed by shell fire.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.