Private Edwin Longley, 201314, 1/5th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Edwin Longley was born in Ossett on the 28th April 1897, and was baptised at St. Peter's Church, Earlsheaton on the 11th September 1901 together with siblings James Henry and Lilian Martha on the same day. Edwin was the third child of Ossett born Fred Longley, an engine driver in a soap works and his wife Horbury born Mary Elizabeth (nee Pollard) who had married in the Dewsbury registration district in early 1892.
There were four children: May Beatrice born in Cleckheaton in 1892; James Henry born in Batley Carr in 1894 and Lillian Martha born in Ossett in 1901. Later in 1901, the Longley family moved to live in Ealey's Yard, Earlsheaton.
By 1911, the Longley family had moved to live at 40, Albert Street, Batley Carr and 13-year-old Edwin was working as an errand boy for a draper. His father Fred gave his occupation as a stoker. He attended Warwick Road School and after being employed by Mr. Sharp, draper of Batley Carr he went to work at Messrs G. & J. Stubley in the finishing department.
He was formerly connected with Batley Carr Wesleyan Chapel Sunday School and the Band of Hope but before enlisting had become associated with Talbot Street United Methodist Church, Batley.1 By 1918, the Longley family had moved to live at 33, Upper Mount Street, Warwick Road, Batley.
Edwin enlisted at Batley in November 1914 in the 2nd/4th Battalion, K.O.Y.L.I. service number 3652 when he was 17 years of age and under the age limit for the British Army. He was kept in England on home duty until January 1917 when he was drafted to France. Edwin was in the 148th Brigade, 49th West Riding Division. In April 1917 he was invalided home suffering from septic poisoning in his foot, but re-joined his unit in June 1917.
The 1/5th Battalion of K.O.Y.L.I. was a Territorial Force and in August 1914 was stationed at French Gate, Doncaster as part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division. They then moved to Doncaster, and then on to Gainsborough. In February 1915 the Battalion moved to York and on the 12th April 1915 they were mobilised for war and landed in France. On the 12th May 1915 the Battalion joined the 148th Brigade in the 49th (West Riding) Division.
Private Edwin Longley was killed in action on the 9th October 1917 aged 20 years in the Battle of Poelcappelle (the first battle of Passchendaele) fought in the mud of Flanders, and his body was buried in an unmarked grave. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 108 to 111 at Zonnebeke West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.
Above: The scene of the Battle of Poelcappelle 9th October 1917.
The battle began at 5.20am on the 9th October 1917. Assault troops had struggled for hours through miles of mud before even reaching their start lines, and many were exhausted. It proved impossible to bring up sufficient artillery ammunition to support the advance, and the few gains were quickly lost to German counter-attacks. After hours of fighting, most of the attacking units had been pushed back to their starting positions. Only in the north, at the villages of Veldhoek and Poelcappelle, was there any real success. British Empire forces suffered some 12,000 casualties wounded, missing and dead.
An officer wrote to his parents:
"During the whole time he served with me he showed marked courage and cheerfulness under very trying conditions and was a fine example to his comrades. His loss is greatly felt by the officers and men of his Company. His body had been buried under French soil. In conveying to you and all his relatives and friends our deepest sympathy in your great bereavement, I want to add my own personal sympathy in the loss of one who showed himself a soldier and a hero."
Edwin was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but not the 1914/15 Star indicating he did not see action overseas before 1916.
Above: 1914-1918 WW1 Remembrance Plaque 7 at the Batley War Memorial in Batley Memorial Gardens, Cambridge Street, Batley, which includes Edwin Longley.
He is remembered with Honour at Talbot Street United Methodist Church, Batley Carr Wesleyan Chapel and Batley War Memorial.
Edwin Longley's name was quietly added to the Ossett War Memorial with little or no notice in October 2023.
1. Private Edwin Longley - Batley Roll of Honour Researched by the Batley History Group
2. Ancestry Family Trees for Edwin Longley.