Submitted by Christine Gayton
Private Alfred Arthur Hibben was my great uncle
Private Hibben served in his home regiment, The 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment (R.W.K.).
He was born in Dartford Kent and enlisted on the 1st of April 1914 at Gravesend Kent. He was 5 foot 4 inches tall, weighed 109 pounds and worked as a plumber’s mate. His age was stated as 17 years, 248 days but in fact, he was only aged 16 having been born in the last 3 months of 1898!
He was posted to France on the 31st of January 1915, which still made him under the 19 years minimum required to fight abroad ( in reality he was still only 17).
On the 22nd of July 1916 the 1st R.W.K. attacked the south east corner of High Wood. No significant gains were made in this assault but the R.W.K. suffered 420 casualties, approximately 50% of those who went over the top.
Private Alfred Arthur Hibben was one of these soldiers and was therefore presumed killed on the 22nd of July 1916 aged 18 years. His body was not recovered but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 11C, France.
The photograph shows Alfred aged 2 with his parents Arthur and Elizabeth and baby sister Ivy.
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Submitted by Michael Kent. Joseph Hatton was my dad. I only recently learnt about his early life. Dad never spoke about the First World War. He was born 20 February 1896 in Bradford and had three sisters and two brothers. My dad never told me that grandad was a train driver in the 1890’s, or that I had a half brother born in 1915, that he lost his father in 1919 and his wife, when he was in his early twenties. I do not know what happened or where he went from 1922 until 1950 when he was living in London where I was born thirty years later, in 1952. 10724 Private Joseph Hatton was recruited in Yorkshire in August 1914 and served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (3rd West Riding) as a Reserve. After training in England he was sent to the Western Front in 1915. In May of that year he was poisoned by gas. My dad didn’t die, unlike so many around him who suffered this cruel death, but he was evacuated via Boulogne to Manchester Western General Hospital to recover. He was posted again in December 1915. In March 1916 he was then posted to the 9th Battalion and embarked for France again in April. He had a few days leave in Etaples and then returned to the front. He was wounded in July 1916 by a shell explosion killing many men. Dad lost his hand. He was put on a train back to England….
The Stansfeld family have many connections with the regiment. Both Thomas and his brother older brother ‘Jock’ served with the regiment in 1880s and 1890s. Thomas’ son and nephew also joined the regiment and both saw action in the Second World War. Thomas Wolryche Stansfeld was born in Leeds in 1877. He joined the regiment in 1897 and quickly rose to the rank of Captain. Stansfeld fought in the War in South Africa including the Battle of Paardeberg. Stansfeld was a skilled rider and joined the regiment’s Mounted Infantry Battalion. He was involved in many actions against the Boers, including the capture of the Elandsfontein railway station near Johannesburg. He narrowly escaped death when a bullet smashed into his cigarette case, leaving him unharmed. Stansfeld’s battlefield experiences were a major asset to the regiment in the First World War. During the First Battle of Ypres he ordered his company to rapidly fire at different intervals; fooling the Germans into believing that they were facing a nest of machine guns. Stansfeld survived the battle and fought throughout the First World War. After the war Stansfeld held a number of senior posts, including Commandant of the Small Arms School at Hythe. He retired from the Army in 1929 and died on the 23rd February 1935.
Jonathan Helm submitted this information about his Great Grandfather, Harold Surtees. Lance Corporal Surtees (2048/200407), was born in West Hartlepool and lived in Great Ayton. He volunteered for service in a local meeting on 2nd September 1914. Serving with the 1st/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, he was posted to France as part of the 50th Northumbrian Division on 18th April 1915. Although little is known of his exact war record, his photograph indicates two wound stripes and the Whitby Gazette when reporting his death noted that he had been “three times wounded and gassed”. The only confirmed record of wounding is in the War Office Casualty List, which was printed in The Times on Wednesday 25th October 1916. This is likely to have occurred during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th – 22nd September 1916) which was fought during the Battle of the Somme. He died on the 10th April 1918 (aged 26) from wounds sustained when the battalion fought at the Battle of Estaires in an attempt to stop the German advance. Harold is buried at the Haverskerque British Cemetery in France. He left behind his wife, Sarah, and their two children, Harold and Mary.