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Wilfred Lindsay Goldthorpe

Private Wilfred Goldthorpe, 3/568, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 2nd Battalion

Wilfred Lindsay Goldthorpe was born on the 17th July 1891 and baptised at Ossett Holy Trinity on the 6th September 1891, the son of John Goldthorpe and his wife Harriet (nee Bradley) who had married at Horbury on the 19th December 1887. John and Harriet were living in Horbury in 1887 but by September 1891 the couple had moved to Dale Street, Ossett where Dewsbury-born John found work as a labourer.

In the 1891 Census, 21 year-old Harriet Goldthorpe, born in Birmingham, and a married woman, was lodging in Alverthorpe, where she was a machine feeder in a worsted mill. Her husband, John Goldthorpe, was elsewhere and living in his brother-in-law’s home at Northgate, Horbury. He was 27 years-old, married and working as a forgeman. His father and brother are living in the same household. In 1901, John Goldthorpe was still working as a forgeman and living with his father on Northgate, Horbury. The 1901 Census records that he was married.

Meanwhile, in 1896, John Goldthorpe's wife Harriet (nee Bradley) married another man called Samuel Lindsay, a widower whose first wife, Ruth Crawshaw had died in Spring 1890. By 1901, Samuel and Harriet were living as man and wife at Ackworth. There were six children in the household, all with the surname Lindsay, including Wilfred.

In 1911, Wilfred’s mother Harriet was still living with Samuel Lindsay and the census records they had married in 1892 (there is no marriage record to confirm this date) and that they had 11 children from the marriage, but five had died before April 1911. In the same year John Goldthorpe had returned to lodge with his brother-in-law and sister in Horbury. The 1911 census still records him as married.

The evidence suggests that Wilfred’s mother, Harriet may have been a bigamist as she was already married when she allegedly married Samuel Lindsay in 1896. Moreover, her son Wilfred was baptised as Wilfred Lindsay Goldthorpe in 1892, after Harriet’s 1887 marriage to John Goldthorpe, but four years before her seemingly bigamous 1896 marriage to Samuel Lindsay. It would be interesting to speculate whether Samuel Lindsay was actually Wilfred’s father.

Whatever the circumstances, in Spring 1913, Wilfred Goldthorpe, his birth name, married Lilly Pickup in Wakefield. In Spring 1915 a son, Wilfred, was born to the couple. It is doubtful that young Wilfred ever met his father.

Evidence shows that Wilfred Goldthorpe served in WW1 as Wilfred Lindsay and it appears that this only became evident after his death. Wilfred Lindsay’s army service record has not survived but the "U.K. Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919" records that Wilfred Lindsay was born in Ossett, enlisted in Wakefield and joined the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry with service number 3/568. Wilfred Lindsay embarked for France on the 19th September 1914 and was killed in action on the 18th April 1915.

Private Goldthorpe was killed during the action to take Hill 60 on the 18th April 1915, part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres:

"About 4.30 p.m. on the 18th April 1915, an order was received from Brigade Headquarters that the battalion was to attack and dislodge the Germans from that portion of the Hill that they had regained during their counter-attacks made the previous night. Lt-Colonel Taylor at once issued orders for the remainder of the Battalion to move up into the craters in readiness, whilst 2/KOYLI occupied the trenches they vacated in readiness, and joined in to support the attack as a second wave.

B Company was given the right section of the attack, C the centre and D the left section, whilst A company, which had suffered so heavily during the day, was held in reserve. Battalion Headquarters was in the centre crater. Under supporting artillery fire, with bayonets fixed, at 6 p.m. the Battalion went over the top, B Company reached their objective without much difficulty. C Company had to charge over open ground and suffered very heavily, Captain Barton and a few men only reaching their objective. They, however, captured the trenches allotted to them, killing and capturing a number of the enemy. D Company had some distance to charge over open ground and lost all their officers at the start, four being killed and two wounded.

Ably supported by 2/KOYLI this company nevertheless captured the German trenches allotted as its objective. Not an inch of ground was lost. Dusk was now rapidly approaching, and under cover of darkness, the trenches won were consolidated, the German communication trenches blocked and new communication trenches to our reserves dug. It was while superintending the attack, accompanied by the adjutant, they Lt-Colonel Turner was unluckily hit first in the right leg and quarter of an hour later in the other leg, thus becoming a casualty. Beyond some unsuccessful grenade throwing, sniping and heavy shelling, no counter-attack was made that night by the Germans on the captured trenches. The attack and defence of Hill 60, a mere episode in the British operations, and a very minor occurrence on the whole of the front held by the Allies, will nevertheless go down in history as amongst the finest exploits performed by British troops during the war.

Officers who experienced the bombardment prior to the attack of the Prussian Guard on November 11th, and also underwent that directed on Hill 60 state, indeed, that the latter was by far the worse of the two. What our troops withstood can to some degree be realised if it be remembered that the space fought over on the four and a half days between April 17th and 21st was only 250 yards in length, about 200 yards in depth. On to that small area the enemy for hours on end hurled tons of metal and high explosive, and at times the hill top was wreathed in poisonous fumes. And yet our gallant infantry did not give way. They stood firm under a fire which swept away whole sections at a time, filled the trenches with dead bodies, and so cumbered the approaches to the front line that reinforcements could not reach it without having to climb over the prostrate bodies of their former comrades.

In these circumstances the losses have naturally been very heavy. Nevertheless, they have not depressed the men, who are all, including the wounded, extremely cheerful, for they know that the fight for Hill 60 has cost the Germans far more than it has us. The battalion had suffered 15 officer casualties (7 dead), 406 other ranks (29 dead, 43 missing believed dead)" 1

Private William Lindsay Goldthorpe's medal card confirms that he qualified for the 1914 Star by virtue of his service between the 5th August and 22nd November 1914. This was awarded to him with the clasp, indicating that he served during that period under fire. Wilfred Lindsay’s Medal Card includes the words "Cl ret’d" (N/K. Not traced) and also "(1743. K.R.) 1883 Adj". The first reference relates to the failed delivery of the clasp and the latter reference refers to King’ Regulations para 1743, indicating that there was a problem regarding the name of the recipient. The Medal Card confirms that Wilfred Lindsay was also awarded the British and Victory medals. No medal card has been located for a Wilfred Goldthorpe.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Wilfred Lindsay’s place of remembrance as the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, but his Regimental Service reference in their records carries the legend "Alias" and elsewhere Wilfred’s name and military details are crossed out in the CWGC record which also re-directs viewers to "See Goldthorpe, the true family name". According to the CWGC, Wilfred Goldthorpe "served as Lindsay" and he was the husband of Lily Goldthorpe of Sunny Hill, Alverthorpe, Wakefield. All other military information for Goldthorpe matches that above for Lindsay. It is not known why Wilfred Goldthorpe enlisted as Wilfred Lindsay, but perhaps this was force of habit and he may have been known locally as Wilfred Lindsay and joined the army before being married as Wilfred Goldthorpe.

Hill 60 18th April 1915

Above: Position of 2nd Battalion, KOYLI after retaking Hill 60 on the 18th April 1915.

Private Wilfred Goldthorpe, husband of Lily Goldthorpe, of Sunny Hill, Alverthorpe, Yorks died on the 18th April 1915, aged 23 years and is remembered on Panel 60 (addenda) at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial,2 Ypres, Belgium. Ypres (now Ieper) is a town in the Province of West Flanders. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches.

The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.

The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

References:

1. From the War Diary of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's Regiment

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site