Private 8280 Samuel Blackford

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 16th June 1915, age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 34 of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

3rd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 3rd Division.

Son of Samuel and Eliza Blackford; husband of Ada Elizabeth Rhodes (formerly Blackford), of 128, Bloomfield Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Kingswinford, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 15th September 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/927986/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
69 Bromley, Pensnett, Staffs.
Samuel Blackford (37, Coal Miner, born Pensnett), his wife Eliza (35, General Dealer, born Brockmoor), and their 6 children: Cornelius (17, Coal Miner, born Pensnett), Sarah Ann (14, born Pensnett), Emanuel (12, born Pensnett), Samuel (10, born Pensnett), Phoebe Ann (9, born Pensnett), and Florence M. (1, born Pensnett).

1911 Census
8 Bloomfield Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Blackford (47, Coal Miner, born Dudley), his wife Eliza (46, born Dudley), and 3 of their 7 surviving children of 13: Samuel (20, born Dudley), Florence (11, born Dudley), and Joseph (9, born Dudley).

Samuel Blackford and Ada Elizabeth Clayton married at St Paul's Church, Tipton on 26th May 1912, their only son Samuel Blackford was born on 12th October 1913.

Personal Data

Samuel had attested in Dudley on 31st January 1910 for 6 years service with the Special Reserves of the Worcestershire Regiment, and allocated to the 6th Battalion. He was 19 years old, 5ft 2½ inches tall, weighed 114lbs with 33½ inch chest, grey eyes, and brown hair. He was a Carter by trade, and his religion was Church of England. As a Special Reservist, he received 6 months training in 1910, and a four-week training camp in subsequent years.

He was mobilised on the 6th August 1914, posted to the 3rd Worcesters on the 14th August, and arrived in France just over a month later on 15th September 1914. He would have been a replacement for one of the many 3rd Worcesters men lost at the Battles of Mons, Marne and Aisne.

Samuel Blackford was posted as Missing in Action on 16th June 1915 at Bellewarde near Ypres, but it was not until 30th March 1916 that the Army wrote to say he must be considered to have been killed on 16th June 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

Samuel's wife Ada was initially receiving a Separation Allowance of 14 Shillings per week, plus 4 shillings and a penny as Allotment of Samuel's pay. From 31st January 1916, this became a Widow's pension of 15 shillings per week which would have ceased on her re-marriage.

Action resulting in his death

THE ATTACK ON BELLEWAERDE (Stacke's "The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War.")
The 3rd Worcestershire left their bivouac at Busse Boom on the evening of June 15th, marched forward by Kruisstraat and the Lille Gate of Ypres and reached the assembly trenches south of Witte Poort Farm just before midnight. The Battalion was to be in the fourth line of the attack. In front of them the H.A.C. were in immediate support of the 9th Brigade.

At 2.50 a.m., after three hours of silent waiting in the darkness, came the blaze and thunder of the preliminary bombardment; to which the enemy's guns swiftly replied. At 4.15 a.m. the battalions of the 9th Brigade advanced to the attack. As dawn broke over the battlefield the H.A.C. moved forward in support, and the Worcestershire moved up from their reserve positions across the Cambridge Road into the original British front line. In front of them a confused struggle was in progress. The attacking battalions had stormed the enemy's front trenches but after that the leading troops, pressing on too eagerly into the tangle of defences about Bellewaerde Farm, had been shelled by our own artillery. Around the Farm some fierce fighting was still in progress, but the bulk of the 9th Brigade had fallen back to the original German front line, which now was crowded with intermixed men of several battalions. All through the morning the struggle raged, as German reinforcements pushed their way into the fight. The enemy's gun-fire grew heavier every hour, and the 3rd Worcestershire, although not as yet actively engaged, suffered many casualties under the rain of heavy shells.

Midday came and still the issue of the fight on the Bellewaerde Spur hung in the balance. At 3.15 p.m. came orders for the Worcestershire to advance. The Battalion, together with the Royal Irish Rifles, was to push through the captured positions and storm the enemy's third line on the edge of Bellewaerde Lake. To prepare the way for that attack the British artillery opened a renewed bombardment. At 3.50 p.m. the guns lifted their fire, and "B" Company, led by the veteran Captain Maitland, followed by "C" Company under Captain Buckler, advanced to the attack.

The two Worcestershire companies went forward in extended order across the old "No Man's Land" and the captured German front line, making their way as best they could through the crowd of wounded and of disorganised troops who blocked the trenches. Beyond the captured trenches the two companies met a storm of fire. Both the company commanders were struck down and most of their men (noble work in rescuing the wounded was done by the Battalion stretcher-bearers; notably by Sergeant F. E. Lamb, who himself rescued five wounded men. His gallantry was rewarded with the D.C.M.). The remnants were forced to the ground, and took cover among some shattered trees to await support.

No support came. The crowded trenches behind the Worcestershire companies were further congested about 5 p.m. by the arrival of two new battalions sent up from the 14th Division (the 14th Division had just arrived in France), but those reinforcements could not advance. Success was impossible in face of the superiority of the German artillery, which now dominated the situation. From east, south and north the German batteries which ringed the Ypres Salient switched their fire on to the front of attack; and the upstanding Spur made an easy target. The seven thousand troops crowded in a space not more than a thousand yards square were pounded incessantly by heavy shells: and the losses were terrible. As sunset approached the German gunners 'redoubled their fire, as if determined to destroy the attackers before they had a chance to reorganise under cover of night. From 7 p.m. till 8.15 p.m. the German bombardment was intense, and observers counted an average of 90 shells a minute crashing down on the Spur. Before the bombardment ceased at nightfall, more than half the attacking troops had been killed or wounded.

By 6 p.m. orders had been issued that the attack was not to be continued; the German front line had been gained and would be consolidated by fresh troops; the attacking battalions would be withdrawn. Those orders reached the firing line about 7.30 p.m. The troops were reorganized so far as was possible, and arrangements for the withdrawal were made. The confusion and the terrific bombardment made the relief very difficult, and it was not until 11 p.m. that the positions held by the 3rd Worcestershire were taken over (by the Royal Scots of the 8th Brigade). The survivors of the Battalion reassembled near "Hell-fire Corner" and marched back down the Menin Road through Ypres to Vlamertinghe "men very exhausted," records the laconic Battalion Diary.

"The result of these operations" says the Brigade Diary "was the gain of 250 yards of ground on a front of 800 yards. Over 200 prisoners and 3 machine-guns were taken, and the enemy suffered severe losses"; but any losses the enemy may have suffered must have been light beside those of the attacking troops. The nine battalions of the 3rd Division lost more than 3,800 officers and men; and what such casualties meant may be realised when it is remembered that the whole operation did not cover a space of more than a thousand yards square. The 3rd Worcestershire alone lost over three hundred; nearly half the Battalion's strength, including the Commanding Officer, Second-in-Command and Adjutant.

CASUALTIES: 3 officers and 30 men were killed, 11 officers and 255 N.C.O's. and men were wounded. 24 were reported missing; but "the missing men were undoubtedly killed" says the Battalion Diary "and were buried during the heavy bombardment by the enemy."

Samuel was one of the killed or missing, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

Newspaper Cuttings