H Ronald Grassby

Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Born: 1897
Died: 5.5.1917
Service number: 200319 (2116)
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of John William and Eliza Grassby of Newton Lane End, Outwood

War Service

On 13 April 1915, Private Grassby, along with the 1/4th Battalion, KOYLI left York by train for Folkestone and then on to Boulogne, to join the British Expeditionary Force, in France. On 28 April, the 1/4th KOYLI entered the line near Fleurbaix. in the Bois Grenier . The following month the 1st West Riding Brigade, was designated 148th Infantry Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.

On 9 July 1915, the 49th Division, moved into the sector between Ypres and Boesinghe, which was the left flank of the British Army line in Flanders. Here they were engaged in constructing and repairing trenches and strong points, which were constantly shelled by the enemy artillery. After the gas attack of 19th December 1915, the 1/4th KOYLI, in Brigade, was withdrawn from this sector

During the spring of 1916, the 1/4th KOYLI, was used by the 112th Railway Construction Company near Acheux. This was followed by training near Villers-Bocage for the forthcoming battle.

On the 1 July 1916, the opening day of the battle of the Somme, the 1/4th and 1/5th KOYLI battalions were placed at the disposal of the 96th Infantry Brigade and used in a support capacity. On 6 July, the 1/4th KOYLI went into the "A" Line trenches. The following morning, after an intense enemy bombardment, followed by a bombing attack, they were forced to withdraw, having incurred heavy casualties.

On 21 July, the 1/4th KOYLI returned to the front line in the Leipzig Salient and two days later incurred many casualties, in an unsuccessful attack against the enemy lines. The battalion remained within the Somme battlefield until late September, before being withdrawn and moved to the Hebuterne sector, in October 1916. Here they remained for the rest of the year, carrying out the every-day duties associated with life in the trenches

In March 1917, the 49th Division was transferred to the Neuve Chapelle sector. At this time the enemy was making its strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. The Battle of Arras had commenced on 9th April 1917, but the 1/4th KOYLI were not involved in this action. However, the battalion still came under fire from the enemy artillery and snipers.

On 5 May 1917, Private Ronald Grassby was on sentry duty, when he became a target for an enemy sniper and was shot. He only lived a short time afterwards and is now buried in the No.1 Military Cemetery, near the village of Laventie. The cemetery situated on the Rue-du-Bacquerot, about 6 km. south-west of Armentieres, was begun by the Indian Corps in 1914. After the Armistice graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefield and other smaller cemeteries. There are now 637 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War, 61 being unidentified.

Family Life

Horace Ronald Grassby was born in 1897, the son of John William and Eliza Grassby of Silcoates, Alverthorpe. His grandfather was for many years a farmer at Silcoates, however his father, John William Grassby worked in the local coal mines. At the age of thirteen years, when the family was living at Newton Lane End, Outwood, Horace Ronald Grassby was working as a rope lad in the coal mines. In 1914, when working at Nelson Pit, Stanley, he joined the Wakefield Territorials, the 4th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

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