Photograph courtesy of Terry & Jean Langford.
Killed in Action on Friday, 20th July 1917, age unknown.
Buried in Grave II. H. 48. at Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
9th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers). Pioneer Battalion of 23rd Division.
Husband of Mrs Phoebe Darby, of 89 High Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Coseley, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.
First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the St. John's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/103220/
16 Edge Street, Wallbrook, Coseley, Staffs.
Joseph Darby (38, Widower, Bricklayer, born Sedgley), and his 5 children: Joseph (12, born Sedgley), Samuel (10, born Sedgley), Sarah (7, born Sedgley), Louisa (5, born Sedgley), and Alfred (3, born Sedgley).
2 Edge Street, Wallbrook, Coseley, Staffs.
Sarah Lowe (50, Widow, House Duties, born Rounds Hill, Staffs), and her 5 nephews & nieces: Joseph Darby (22, Miner - Horse Driver, born Coseley), Samuel Darby (20, Miner - Horse Driver, born Coseley), Sarah Darby (17, Packer in Factory, born Coseley), Louisa Darby (15, born Coseley), and Alfred Darby (13, School, born Coseley).
Marriage of Samuel Darby and Phoebe Randle registered September quarter 1912 in Dudley. They had 3 children, Emily born 14th November 1913, and Samuel born 7th November 1915; another child, Sarah Elizabeth Randle, was born on 29th January 1912 before Samuel and Phoebe had married.
Samuel was born in Coseley, and was still living there in 1911. He is shown as being resident in Tipton when he enlisted, most likely in the Princes End area as he is commemorated on the St. John's memorial. His brother Alfred was also killed in action, on 20th September 1917, whilst serving with the Royal Fusiliers, having initially enlisted with the South Staffs.
In February 1918 Samuel's widow, Phoebe, received his outstanding army pay and allowances of £7/7/1d (7 pounds, 7 shillings and 1 penny). In November 1919 she received his War Gratuity of £9/0/0d (9 pounds), this amount suggests that he had enlisted in June 1915.
Phoebe was awarded a pension of 13/9d for herself and 12/6d for the 3 children, a total of £1/6/3d (1 pound, 6 shillings and 3 pence) effective from 11th February 1918. She had been paid a Grant of £5 on 12th September 1917.
The Pensions Office was informed on 20th June 1924 of “facts such as to call for forfeiture of Widow’s Pension, but allowances for children administered in trust by the District Office, Dudley”. This resulted in the forfeiture of Phoebe’s part of the pension on 28th June. This was most likely due to Phoebe having formed a new relationship, and not having informed the Pensions Office.
The 9th South Staffs were the Pioneer Battalion for the 23rd Division; they landed in France in August 1915. After a spell in the Loos area, they moved to Vimy, then to the Somme. During the Battle of the Somme the 23rd Division were involved in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Pozieres, Flers, Morval, and Le Transloy. In 1917 they moved to the Ypres Salient, where they took part in the Battle of Messines.
On 28th June 1917, 9th Battalion South Staffs (9/SS) moved from Berthen to Hallebast Farm near Dickebusch. They were then involved in trench digging, road digging and other construction tasks, often at night. The War Diary for 20th July records:
- ‘A’ Company: Clearing trenches damaged by rain and draining.
- ‘B’ Company: Repairing damage to bridge and road done by shelling. Bridge again hit in morning.
- ‘C’ Company: 50 yards track completed. 100 yards formation laid.
- ‘D’ Company: Clearing Image Avenue. Work interrupted by shelling.
3 Other Ranks were killed in action, and 1 Other Ranks wounded.
It is not known which company Samuel Darby belonged to, but from the above it would seem that ‘B’ and ‘D’ are possible as these were on the receiving end of enemy shelling. ‘D’ Company seems most likely as this Company was working on Image Avenue and Callaghan and Darby were initially buried (at map reference I.30.d.1.7.) very close to Image Avenue. The initial burial location was at the west end of Shrewsbury Forest, near Klein Zillebeke.
The 9/SS War Diary records that 3 Other Ranks were killed that day. It would seem that they were killed in the same incident as they were buried together. The 3 men were exhumed and re-buried side-by-side in Perth Cemetery (China Wall) on 4th April 1919. The 3 men were Hugh Callaghan and Samuel Darby both from Tipton, and Samuel Bull from Pattingham.