FREDERICK de FORGE BARTLE

Private 306527, 2/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Died 3 May 1917

Commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Son of Frederick and Lizzie Bartle


Frederick was born in 1885, the second child of Frederick and Lizzie Bartle. Lizzie was born near Boston in Lincolnshire on 12 December 1857 and her surname was Desforges.  Frederick (senior) was born in Caistor, Lincolnshire in 1850.  Lizzie and Frederick were married in 1882 in Boston and by 1891 the family were living in Market Street Heckmondwike.  Frederick (senior) was a watchmaker; Lionel the elder son was 7; Frederick was 6 and Beatrice was 4.  All the children would take as a middle name a variant of their mother’s maiden name: de Forge.

Frederick (senior) continued to work as a watchmaker and jeweller, but by 1911 his son Frederick was at 49 Market Street, living alone and describing himself as a jeweller.  His parents were living at 68 Walkley Lane; Lionel was a civil servant and a boarder at an address in Muswell Hill, London.  At census time Beatrice was a visitor at an address in Manningham, Bradford.

I can find no indication of when Frederick joined the West Riding Regiment.  The Battalion he joined was formed in 1914 and served in various parts of the UK before going to France in January 1917 as part of the 62nd (West Riding) Division.  On 1 May 1917 the Major General commanding the Division wrote in his Order of the Day that the ‘Division will shortly be going into action to take part in its first great battle.’  He was confident that they would ‘gain all objectives and hold them against the most determined counter-attacks.’  The Battalion moved into the trenches near Bullecourt to the south-east of Arras around 11pm on 2 May 1917.  Zero hour was 3:35am on 3 May 1917.  All four Battalion Companies were in the first or second wave of the attack: 14 officers and 430 ‘other ranks’.  Reports after the battle suggest that elements of the Battalion reached both the first and second lines of the German trenches, but all were isolated and under heavy shell and machine gun fire.  Described in the war diary in terms that will sound familiar, the artillery barrage ‘fell short of the (German) trench, leaving the enemy in force and the wire only demolished in parts ....... the enemy not having been in the least broken’.  Orders were given to retire as soon as it was dark, around 9:30pm.  Only 2 officers returned unhurt and two thirds of the soldiers were casualties.

Despite these losses the Battalion was back in the front line trenches by 3:00am on 5 May, though that did give them a chance to bring in their wounded from the attack two days earlier.  One record shows Frederick Bartle’s death as occurring ‘on or since’ 3 May.

Frederick’s father received the outstanding pay and allowances of £5 17s 9d on 22 November 1918 and a War Grant of £4 on 4 November 1919.  Frederick was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  Not having any known grave, he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Bay 6, Course D, Stone 12.
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