Two Yorkshiremen of the Great War W H STEVENS G W CRABTREE "Harry" "George"
   Two Yorkshiremen of the Great War   W H STEVENS      G W CRABTREE"Harry"               "George" 

154th/173rd Brigade in WW1

  

Harry's Battery was attached to the 36th (Ulster) Division for the whole of his involvement in WW1.

 

The 154th Brigade departed for France from Southampton on the SS Northwestern Miller on the 27th Nov 2015.  They didn't arrive until the 1st December!  SS NW Miller embarked and broke down twice, returned to The Solent twice.  They eventually transferred to the SS Nirvana and finally made it to Le Havre at 7am after "a rough passage".  Interestingly the NW Miller, a cargo ship constructed at Howden Yard on Tyneside was torpedoed and sunk by a US submarine in 1944 - it flying Japanese colours by then.  The SS Nirvana, also a cargo ship, was sunk in 1918.

 

He spent his training and the early months in France in the 154th Brigade B Battery (howitzer) which was subsequently renamed D Battery when it became part of the 173rd Brigade  

Synopsis of 154th B Battery War Diary, Nov 1915 to May 1916 when renamed 173rd Brigade D Battery.
War Diary 154 11-15 to 5-16.docx
Microsoft Word document [15.7 KB]
PDF copy of the actual war diary of 154 Brigade Nov 15 to May 1916
Adobe Acrobat Document (3.07MB)
154 Brigade (How) war diaries Nov15-Aug1[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [3.1 MB]
PDF copy of the handwritten war diary of 173 Brigade Part 1 to Jan 1918
Adobe Acrobat document , very large 49.1MB
173 brigade war diary part 1.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [49.1 MB]
PDF copy of the mostly handwritten war diary of 173 Brigade Part 2 to the war's end
Adobe Acrobat Document, 20MB, pretty large again
173 brigade war diary part 2 to war end.[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [20.0 MB]

I will provide a synopsis of the 173 diaries as soon as I can - the documents are mostly handwritten and it takes a lot of concentration!

The 36th Ulster Division was an infantry division of the British Army, part of Lord Kitchener's NEw Army, formed in September 2014.  Originally called the Ulster Division, it was made up of mainly members of the Ulster Volunteer Force, who formed 13 additional battaliaons for three existing regiments: the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Roayl Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  However, regular officers, solidiers and men from all around the UK made up the strength of the Division.  The Division served from October 1915 on the Western Front as a formation of the British Army during the Great War.

The division's insignia was the Red Hand of Ulster.

 

 

The 36th Ulster Division was moved away from the fighting area in October 1915, towards Abbeville, where it spent most of the winter of 1915-16 continuing training. One of the Brigades was attached to 4th Division for several weeks at this time and 154 and 173 brigades arrived in France to join the 36th Ulster Division in November.

 

1916
The whole Division finally took over a complete section of the front line on 7 February, between the River Ancre and the Mailly-Maillet to Serre road. Division HQ was at Acheux. In the first week of March, the Division extended its front, the 109th Brigade taking over the sector south of the Ancre, known by the name of Thiepval Wood.

The Division remained in the Wesrern Friont in France and Flanders throughout the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements

The Battle of Albert* in which the Division attacked at the Schwaben Redoubt near Thiepval.

 

Somme
This map, an extract of a larger map from the British Official History, shows the ground over which the Ulstermen attacked on 1 July. Their front line skirted the northern edge of Thiepval wood, facing a gentle upward slope toward Schwaben Redoubt, a defensive complex in the second main German trench system north of Thiepval.

The Division was relieved on 2 July, having suffered 5104 casualties of who approximately 2069 died.
* the battle marked * is a phase of the Battles of the Somme 1916

 

1917
The Battle of Messines, in which the Division captured Wytschaete
The Battle of Langemarck**
** the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917
The Cambrai Operations, including the capture of Bourlon Wood

1918
The Division was substantially reorganised in February 1918.
The Battle of St Quentin+

 

St Quentin

 

On 21 March 1918 the Division was holding a sector of the British front line and Forward Zone south west of St Quentin. The main defences consisted of a number of isolated redoubts, in which the Ulstermen held on for several hours while under bombardment and ultimately being surrounded and cut off.

The Actions at the Somme Crossings+
The Battle of Rosieres+
+ the battles marked + are phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918
The Battle of Messines++
The Battle of Bailleul++
The First Battle of Kemmel Ridge++
++ the battles marked ++ are phases of the Battles of the Lys
The Battle of Ypres^
The Battle of Courtrai^
The action of Ooteghem^
^ the battles marked ^ are phases of the Final Advance in Flanders

On 11 November the Division was at Mouscron, north east of Tourcoing. It remained there throughout the period of demobilisation. It ceased to exist on 29 June 1919.

The Great War cost 36th (Ulster) Division 32186 men killed, wounded or missing.

 

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This site went online 22-04-2015. Many thanks to those who have provided me with photos and information and apologies if I've inadvertently used any unauthorised material.

Harry Stevens, born 17-07-1896, from Blacktoft, Howden, enlisted on January 13th 1915, at just under the age of 18 years 6 months and was de-mobbed April 13th 1919 in France.  He was in the Royal Field Artillery and was awarded the DCM.   More 

George Crabtree, from Huddersfield, born 30th November 1896, enlisted on October 2nd 1915, at just over the age of 18 years 10 months and was de-mobbed April 1919 at Ripon.  He was in the Royal Army Madical Corps and awarded the MMMore.  See his 1917/18 diary entries 

Listen to Harry in 1982, a few soundbites from a recording sent to granddaughter Anne in India
WHS soundbites.mp3
MP3 audio file [2.7 MB]

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This remains a work in progress. There are still many photos, some audio and much information to add. 

 

Should anyone have any useful/extra information, such as images/photos, memories or anecdotes beneficial to this site, then please get in touch and I'll include them. If I've made any errors please let me know.

 

Thanks

Graham Stevens

Harry, far left and George, far right, at the wedding of my parents Harry and Kathleen in August 1954