Rank: Lance Corporal 391838
Regiment: 2/9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles)
Died: 26 September 1917
Beer Memorial Cross, St Michael's Church Tablet, Beer
Other Memorial: Tyne Cot Memorial [Google]
PDF Download: BARTLETT Anthony
Anthony Bartlett was born in Seaton on 18 September 1896, although the rest of his family was born in Beer. At the time of the 1901 census he was living with his family in Cemetery Lane, Beer, and by 1911 they had moved to Thatch Cottage, still in Beer.
Joy Waters, nee Bartlett, provided us with a photo of Anthony Bartlett as a child, outside a cottage which stood in what is now the yard of the Dolphin (see left).
After leaving Colyton Grammar School, Anthony moved away to London to work, and became a clerk in the offices of George Wills and Co., a booking agent for the Blue Funnel Line in Leadenhall Street, London. This explains why he enlisted in the Army in Kilburn, north London, rather than in Devon.
Another photo, also provided by Joy Waters, shows the office in which he worked.
Anthony joined the 9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), a unit of the Territorial Force. The battalion was mobilised when war broke out in August 1914, and arrived at Le Havre on 5 November that year, one of the first Territorial units to reach France. Up to that point, Territorial units had no obligation to serve outside the UK, but the heavy losses suffered by the regular Army in the early months of the war led to Territorial soldiers being asked to sign the Imperial Service Obligation, by which they undertook to serve anywhere in the world. The great majority of Territorial soldiers signed this agreement.
In April 1915, Anthony's battalion took part in the attack on Hill 60, near Ypres in Belgium. In this attack one of its officers won the first Victoria Cross to be awarded to a Territorial soldier. On 1 July 1916, the battalion was involved in the fighting on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, taking part in the attack on Gommecourt, and in April 1917 it took part in the battle of Arras.
Later in 1917 the battalion returned to Belgium, and was involved in the third battle of Ypres, (also known as the battle of Passchendaele, the village which was the main objective of the British attack) from July to October 1917.
The 2/9th London Regiment war diary entry for 25 September 1917 reads:
"Moved up to the line. HQ at CLUSTERS HOUSES preparing for the attack in am"
The entry for 26 September reads:
"5.50 am, ZERO hour. The Bn attacked. 58 prisoners passed through HQ. We had very little news through from Coys (Companies). All Coys consolidating. Counter attack in night but enemy repulsed.
Evidence given later by those involved and quoted in the war diary shows that many of the troops became lost as they advanced in thick mist, which reduced visibility to 30 yards. Heavy shell fire prevented them from reaching their objectives, and the battalion suffered heavy casualties. Many men were forced to take cover in shell holes and wait until darkness so that they could return to their own lines. The attack gained only about 100 yards.
In D Company, casualties were virtually 50 per cent – two officers and 109 other ranks went into action, and casualties were one officer and 50 other ranks.
One platoon, No. 9, was almost wiped out. As the war diary puts it:
"No. 9 Platoon. .......... 23 men went into action. 4 killed, 14 missing, 3 wounded. 2 men returned".
Anthony was killed at some point during this attack, and his body was not identified.
Lance Corporal 391838 Anthony Bartlett is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, which lists the names of almost 35,000 British and Commonwealth troops killed in the Ypres Salient after August 1917 and who have no known grave. The Memorial is in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world. It contains the graves of 12,000 men, over 8,000 of whom are unidentified.
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