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Horace Glover

Horace GloverPrivate Horace Glover, 52384, North Staffordshire Regiment, 8th Battalion

Horace Glover was born in Ossett in 1899, the son of John and Annie Glover. John was a rag merchant and the father of four children; Ernest (born 1883), Edith (1885), Simeon (1892) and Horace (1899). In 1901, the Glover family were living on Westfield Street, Ossett. Horace’s subsequent WW1 Service record makes clear that Ernest and Edith were only half brother and sister to Horace.

By 1911, John and Annie had moved to 20, Cross Ryecroft Street, Ossett where they lived with three of their children: Edith, a rag grinder, Simeon, an office boy, and Horace who is still at school. The 1911 Census records that in 29 years of marriage, John and Annie had five children but only three had survived to 1911.

Horace Glover's WW1 service record from 1920 indicates that Simeon was his only sibling and that 28 year-old Ernest and 26 year-old Edith were actually half-brother and half-sister to him. This is at odds with the 1911 Census which states that John and Annie had been married for 29 years.

On the 14th March 1917, Horace Glover, a warehouseman, aged 18 years and 2 months, 5’ 8½" tall and weighing 133 lbs was appointed at Pontefract to the 2/1 Staffs Regiment. He was transferred to the North Staffordshire Regiment at Tonbridge on 20 December 1917. His transfer form bears the stamp of the Adjutant, Stafford Cyclist Regiment.

By the 11th January 1918 he was in France, but by the 25th January 1918, Horace contracted trench foot and was moved to hospital in Rouen, before returning to his regiment on the 16th February, only to suffer the same complaint on the 23rd February 1918. He was deducted one days pay for neglect when he was acting as a tent orderly on the 10th March 1918. On the 17th May 1918 he was recorded in the "field" and on the 30th of May 1918, Private Horace Glover was reported missing.

The 8th (Service) Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment was formed at Lichfield on the 18th of September 1914 as part of K2 and came under orders of 57th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division. They moved to Salisbury Plain and went into billets in Bristol in December 1914. In February 1915, they moved to Weston-super-Mare before going to Tidworth in April. On the 18th July 1915, they landed in France and on the 7th February 1918 they transferred to 56th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division.

Private Horace Glover died on the 30th May 1918, aged 19 years during the Battle of the Aisne. The 8th Battalion of the North Stafford Regiment remained in the Kemmel area until mid-May and then they were sent to the Chalons area as a part of the French Sixth Army under General Duchene, who was sacked after his disastrous handling of his troops during the third Battle of the Aisne. The North Staffs were based in Champagne from the 27th of May 1918 until the 6th of June 1918, and were involved in heavy fighting during the third Battle of the Aisne, which started on the 27th May with a massive German surprise attack called "Operation Blücher-Yorck", planned primarily by Erich Ludendorff, who was certain that success at the Aisne would lead the German armies to within striking distance of Paris.

The battle began with one of the most intense artillery bombardments of the war. The Germans fired some two million shells in four hours on the morning of the 27th May and then launched their attack with seventeen divisions. The Allied lines on the Chemin des Dames were shattered. The Germans were able to advance thirteen miles on the first day of the battle, the single biggest advance since the beginning of trench warfare in 1914. The bridges across the Aisne were captured intact and the Germans began an advance towards the Marne. The Allied response to this crisis was rather better organised than during the attack on the Somme. Twenty seven divisions were fed into the line between the 28th May and the 3rd June. The German advance continued throughout May. Soissons was captured on the 28th May. German troops crossed the Marne around Jaulgonne and on 30 May reached Château Thierry. German troops were now only thirty seven miles from Paris.1

The Germans attacked the 8th North Staffs Regiment close to the River Marne near Epernay. After suffering heavy losses in the battle, which cost Horace Glover his life, the battalion re-formed and were back in action in August in the advance towards Lille.

The "Ossett Observer" 2 had this obituary for Private Horace Glover over a year after his death:

"Ossett Soldier Presumed To Be Dead - Official news has this week been received that Private Horace Glover (19), North Staffords, youngest son of Mr. John Glover, rag merchant, of Cross Ryecroft-street, Ossett, who has been missing from his regiment since May last year, is presumed by the Army authorities to be dead. The young soldier joined the Army in March, 1917, soon after he became eighteen years of age, and shortly before Christmas of the same year he proceeded with his regiment to the Western front. He experienced much fighting, and did not answer the roll call on May 30th. In a subsequent letter to Private Glover's parents his officer spoke of the heavy nature of the fighting at that time and regretted that very few of his men had come through. From enquiries the officer learned that Private Glover was last seen by the side of a wood at Bligny, about two miles from Rheims, wounded in the stomach. The ground was captured by the enemy, but re-taken some days later. Private Glover used to work at his father's rag warehouse in Wesley-street, and as a boy was a member of the Holy Trinity Church choir and of the Ossett Company of the Church Lad's Brigade.

His brother, Private Simeon Glover, A.S.C., has served over a year in East Africa and is now stationed at York."

German Infantry at the 3rd Battle of the Aisne May 1918

Above: Well-equipped German storm troopers at the 3rd Battle of the Aisne in May 1918

The next of kin of deceased soldiers are required to inform the War Office of the names and addresses of the nearest relatives and on the 19th May 1920, Horace’s father, John Glover, informed the War Office that Horace had only one "full blood" brother, Simeon, aged 28, of 2, Brook Street, Ossett and that he had two "half-blood" siblings: Ernest, aged 37, of Laneside House, Farsley, Leeds and Edith Glover, aged 35, who was still living with her parents at 20, Ryecroft Street, Ossett.

On the 9th December 1921, John Glover acknowledged the receipt of his son’s Victory and British medals.

There is also a Medal Card for Private S255997, Simeon Glover, born 1892, of the Army Service Corps. Simeon was awarded the Victory and British Medals indicating he too served overseas. His service record has not survived. it seems likely that Horace Glover's half brother, Ernest, born 1883, would also have served in the conflict but it has not been possible to identify his records with any certainty.

Private Horace Glover is remembered at the Soissons Memorial 3, Aisne, France. The town of Soissons stands on the left bank of the River Aisne, approximately 100 kilometres north-east of Paris. The original British Expeditionary Force crossed the Aisne in August 1914 a few kilometres west of Soissons, and re-crossed it in September a few kilometres east. For the next three and a half years, this part of the front was held by French forces and the city remained within the range of German artillery.

At the end of April 1918, five divisions of Commonwealth forces (IX Corps) were posted to the French 6th Army in this sector to rest and refit following the German offensives on the Somme and Lys. Here, at the end of May, they found themselves facing the overwhelming German attack which, despite fierce opposition, pushed the Allies back across the Aisne to the Marne. Having suffered 15,000 fatal casualties, IX Corps was withdrawn from this front in early July, but was replaced by XXII Corps, who took part in the Allied counter attack that had driven back the Germans by early August and recovered the lost ground.

The Soissons Memorial commemorates almost 4,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom forces who died during the Battles of the Aisne and the Marne in 1918 and who have no known grave.

References:

1. The Third Battle of the Aisne: 27th May - 3rd June 1918

2. "Ossett Observer", 7th June 1919

3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site