AH-1 Alfred Hill & Family, c1916.
|Written By||Allen Hill|
|Comment||A memory shared with us by Allen Hill.|
“My Granddad Alfred Hill ( shown below in uniform), tried to avoid conscription in the great war as he had five small children.
He had been brought up at Ivegate and new Scarborough, Yeadon, but lived in Menston village where his wife’s father, William Casson, had a milk round.
Alf’s parents were from Hereford and had emigrated to Yeadon in the agricultural recession of 1872.
There are many “Hills” around Aireborough who I have not yet traced.
In 1916, the regular army were virtually all dead and my granddad had run out of reasons to be exempt and he was conscripted into The East Yorkshire Regiment – 12th battalion..
The policy had changed to dispersing men over the whole army so that all the men of a particular town were not wiped out in one action.
(My dad is sat on my granddad’s knee in the photo below)
Alf was called up in late 1916 and sent to the battle of Arras – the bloodiest battle in history for the British Army.
At 3.45 on Thursday 3rd May 1917, the East Yorkshire Regiment attacked Oppy Wood which was heavily fortified and defended by the crack regiments of the Prussian Guards.
There was a full moon behind him – what planning !
Adolf Hitler was four miles to the South and Baron Von Richthofen was flying overhead.
The 12th battalion attacked the left hand side of the wood and sustained the heaviest casualties of the three battalions.
Alfred Hill was missing in action – never seen again
Lieutenant Harrison of the 11th battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross (posthumously.)
The 3rd May was a very hot day and the bodies would have been unrecognizable within 24 hours, and so he joined the hundreds of thousands who have no known grave.
Many bodies laid out in no man’s land for months.
There were some prisoners taken by the Prussians and so my Grandmother was not sure if he was dead until after the war.
I asked why she never remarried and was told “there were no men.”
I have travelled to Oppy Wood on my motorbike for a 3rd May anniversary – no spirits to report.
In 1939, my dad was conscripted and sent to the jungles of Burma, where he fought all the way down to Rangoon.
He never expected to return and refused to leave England for even one day when he got back.”
Consolidated by Jack Brayshaw. 01 September 2022.
Last updated: 01 September 2022.