Private 18302 Alfred Hartill

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 9th August 1916, age unknown.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 7 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Born: Toll End, Staffs, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Great Bridge.

First landed Balkans, 11th September 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/790082/

Genealogical Data

The census gives a number of possibilities for Alfred Hartill. In the absence of any further information it is not possible to positively identify him.

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial commemorates A. Hartill, this surname spelling is confirmed by his Medal Index Card. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' have an extra 'h' and spell his surname Harthill.

Alfred Hartill's Medal Index Card says he was eligible for the 1914-15 Star as entered the Balkans, 11th September 1915. This means he was initially with the 7th South Staffs as this was only South Staffs Battalion to serve in Gallipoli.

Action resulting in his death

From 'When the Whistle Blows' by Andrew Riddoch and John Kemp:
"The 2nd South Staffs had left Delville Wood in early August, but as part of 2nd Division were ordered to deal with the German defences between Waterlot Farm and Guillemont on 8th August 1916. The 2nd South Staffs were in reserve in Trones Wood and Bernafay Wood, but with 'A' Company at the disposal of 1st Kings and 'B' Company at the disposal of 17th Middlesex. Major Buckley (later the famous Wolves manager) had been second in command of 17th Middlesex but had been wounded and replaced by Major William (Harry) Carter. The Commanding Officer, Colonel Fenwick, stayed out of the attack with the cadre reserve, Major Carter was to lead the 17th Middlesex. The attack of the 8th August was largely unsuccessful with 51 men of the 17th Middlesex and 3 from the 2nd South Staffs losing their lives.

'C' & 'D' Companies of the 2nd South Staffs were placed at the disposal of Major Carter (17th Middlesex), and these were to be involved in a fresh attack on Machine Gun House at 2.30am on 9th August. A bombing party under Captain Fluke of the 2nd South Staffs got into the German front line, bombed up the front line with some success but were forced to pull back. A second attempt at 4.30am was also unsuccessful. Major Carter was awarded the first of his 2 DSOs for the actions at Guillemont on 8th/9th August."

5 men of the 2nd South Staffs were killed on 9th August, including Alfred Hartill, most likely as part of Captain Fluke's bombing raid. Alfred has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Guillemont was attacked again, unsuccessfully, on 18th August and finally fell on 3rd September.

Major William (Harry) Carter, later Commanding Officer of the 7th South Staffs, was one of Wolverhampton's Great War heroes. He rose from the rank of Sergeant at the outbreak of war to Lieut. Colonel at the Armistice; his amazing journey can be followed at: https://www.westernfrontassociation.com/world-war-i-articles/lieutenant-colonel-william-henry-carter-dso-and-bar-mc-and-bar/ (link correct at November 2019).

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