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Albert Edward Illingworth

Lance-Bombardier Albert E. Illingworth, 177057, Royal Garrison Artillery, 170th Siege Battery

Albert Edward Illingworth was born in Ossett in 1873, the eldest child of commission oil agent Joseph Illingworth and his wife Hannah (nee Fozard) who were both born in Ossett and married in Ossett Holy Trinity Church on the 21st November 1867.

Joseph and Hannah left Ossett in the mid 1870s and in 1881 the couple were living in Birstall with their two children including Albert Edward. In 1891, Joseph and Hannah were still in Birstall with their six children including Albert who was now working as a pupil teacher.

On the 30th August 1899, school master Albert Illingworth married Florence Hearfield at Gomersal Parish Church and in 1901 they had made their home in Birstall where they lived with their first child, John Hearfield Illingworth who was only 7 days old. Albert was working as an assistant school master.

By 1911, Albert Illingworth had moved on and was living with his wife and only child at North Stainley, near Ripon where he worked as a Head Teacher. His wife, Florence, was an assistant teacher.

Albert’s army service record has not survived, but he enlisted at Ripon and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery with regimental service number 177057. He advanced to become a Lance-Bombadier and was killed in action on the 2nd October 1918, just five weeks before the Armistice. He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals, but not the 1914/15 Star indicating that he did not serve overseas before 31st December 1915.

The 170th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery was formed on 13th June 1916 on Merseyside. It was disbanded in 1919. In 1917 some sections of 170th Siege Battery were used to reconstruct the 120th Siege Battery. The sections left were replaced in September 1917 with sections from 446th and 447th Siege Batteries, R.G.A. The Battery served in France and Flanders during WW1 and in November 1918, the Battery was serving with 35th (Mobile) Brigade,R.G.A., in the 3rd Army.

Siege Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. The 17th Siege Battery of the RGA was equipped with six 6" Howitzers,

The locations of 170th Siege Battery in August to November were from Albert to La Lougueval and La Boineu. They suffered gassing through Contalmaison, Mermetz Wood, Delville Wood, Cambrai, Fontaine, Kivesues, and Haussey to Malplaquet, where they ended the war. It is most likely that Lance-Bombardier Albert E. Illingworth was killed either by enemy shelling or from gas poisoning. The War Diary of 170th Siege Battery from August 1918 to the end of the war has not been traced.

Albert Edward Illingworth is not remembered on any Ossett Memorial or Rolls of Honour perhaps, because he and his family left Ossett in the mid 1870s although Albert came from a long established Ossett family who had good connections within the town. He is remembered in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and/or the "U.K. Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1918" listing records him as born or residing in Ossett.

6" Howitzer as used by the 170th Siege Battery

Above: 6" Howitzer like the ones used in the 170th Siege Battery.

Lance Bombardier Albert E. Illingworth died on the 2nd October 1918, aged 47 years, son of Joseph Illingworth, of Birstall, Leeds and husband of Florence Illingworth, of North Stainley, Ripon, Yorks. He is buried at grave reference II. A. 11. at the Anneux British Cemetery,1 Nord, France. Anneux is a village in the Department of the Nord, a little to the south of the main road from Cambrai to Bapaume. The Cemetery is 200 metres from the junction of the N30 and D15.

Anneux, Havrincourt and Graincourt were captured by the 62nd (West Riding) Division on 20 and 21 November 1917. Anneux remained in Allied hands until the following 6 December. It was recaptured on 27 September 1918, by the 57th (West Lancashire) and 63rd (Royal Naval) Divisions, acting with the 52nd (Lowland) and the 1st and 4th Canadian Divisions. These six divisions, with the New Zealand Division (which carried on the advance in October 1918), are most largely represented in the cemetery.

The original cemetery was made by the 57th Division Burial Officer and by various units in October 1918. At the Armistice it contained 131 graves but was then greatly increased when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and small cemeteries in the area, including:-

Delmadge Cemetery, Fontaine-Notre Dame, 900 metres North-East of the railway station, contained the graves of Lieut. R.B. Delmadge and 23 other Canadian soldiers who fell in September and October, 1918.

Flot Farm Cemetery, Marcoing, on the South side of a farm nearly 1.6 Kms West of Rumilly village. Thirty-four soldiers of the 2nd O.B.L.I., who fell on the 1st October, were buried there in one grave.

Anneux British Cemetery now contains 1,013 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 459 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate seven casualties believed to be buried among them.

References:

1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site