Benjamin Burnley

​Born: 11 May 1887
Died: 1 July 1916
Service number: 8/12740
Rank: Acting CSM
Regiment/Service: 'D' Company 8th Battalion Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment
Family information: Spouse: Elizabeth Burnley (nee Holdem), 7 Oak Street, Grovetown, Pontefract

Benjamin joined ‘D’ Company, the same as his brother Tom, of the 8th Btn York and Lancaster Regiment at Pontefract Barracks on 2 September 1914 for one year’s service under the Army Reserve (Special Reservist) provisions although on the same date this was changed to 3 years service.
His service number was 8/12740.

He was 28 years and 4 months old and a collier and, strangely, although attested on a reservist’s form, he declared he had not served either as a regular, a reservist or a territorial before.

He was described as being 5’ 10½” tall, weight 156lbs, eyes grey, hair light brown, chest 38½”.

In common with the rest of the battalion, and his two brothers, he was posted to Frensham Camp on the 18th September 1914 and on 12 November was promoted to Lance Corporal.

He was posted to Aldershot on 1 December 1914 and became a Corporal on 21 January 1915.

Whilst a Lance Corporal on 8 July 1915 he overstayed his pass for 9hrs 35 minutes, was severely reprimanded and docked a day's pay.

He was promoted Sergeant on 10th August and sent to France with the battalion on 28 August 1915.

He became Acting Company Sergeant Major on 1 March 1916 and was with the 8th Battalion when the 70th Infantry Brigade assaulted the German trenches at Ovillers on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Of the 680 men and 23 Officers the 8th York and Lancaster Regiment took over the parapet only 68 returned.

Benjamin did not survive the battle and was posted as ‘missing in action’ on 1 July 1916 although his brother Walter, in the same battalion, was one of the few who made it back to the British lines.

He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Family story

He was listed as having married Elizabeth Holdem at North Shields on 14 February 1905. His address was given as 7 Oak Street, Grovetown, Pontefract and his children as John, born 21 January 1906 and Gertrude, born 23 September 1911.

On 5 March 1917 his widow was given a pension of 20/6d per week for herself and her two children.

Story submitted by Eric Jackson.

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