Beaucamps Ligny

 

On the 19th of October 2009, construction workers at Beaucamps Ligny in France were creating a sewage soakaway area for a parish building when the digger driver disturbed some human bones.

They notified the local Gendamerie to verify if it was a crime scene or not. From observations it was decided that the bones belonged to WW1 soldiers. The CWGC were informed and they carefully uncovered the rest of the human remains and artefacts.
There were 15 partial to full skeletons found in groups of 6,8 and one lone skeleton. Artefacts included a York and Lancaster regiment badge, 3 stripes on cloth, boots, 3 belt hooks and 2 steel buckles, 1 blue enamel badge, buttons, a Victorian silver crown, a shaving brush, 1 gold ring, 1 pocket watch (inscribed as being purchased at Pontefract), 2 pen knifes and many Lee Enfield ammunition rounds.
The crossroads where the remains were found is the dividing line between Radinghem and the area of Beaucamps Ligny, Beaucamps Ligny is in fact further down the road from the crossroads.

Research has proved that it was the 2nd Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment, along with ‘The Buffs’, that were fighting in that area in October 1914.
The York & Lancs were involved in two bloody engagements during the week of 18-25 October. On the 18th they encountered numerically superior German forces just north east of Beaucamps as they conducted a sweeping manoeuvre from Radinghem. No fighting occurred in Beaucamps it self which remained under German occupation from shortly after the fall of Lille right through until October 1918.

The second contact was at dawn on October 23rd when the York & Lancs trenches were overrun at a crossroads on the Bois-Grenier-Radinghem road resulting in bayonet charges and bloody hand to hand fighting. This position was about 600 metres short of where the eventual trench line was to be settled that remained virtually static until the Battle of the Lys in April 1918. The remains are probably the men who died in the earlier fighting but not dying all together on the same day. The remains were found in 3 different burial pits, consisting of eight, six and one body respectively. (see image)

Excavation

Site Location

 

There were a total of 58 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the York & Lancs who were lost in the actions around Beaucamps during the period 18th – 23rd October 1914 and who had no known grave.

After the discovery and exhumation of 250 WW1 Australian and British soldiers from Fromelles, a campaign was started to get parity with the Fromelles project re the identification of the remains found at Beaucamps if possible. This has took near on 5 years to come to fruition. Surviving members for all possible 58 families have been found and offered the chance to provide a DNA sample with which to compare with the samples took from the remains. Out of the 15 sets of remains 10 men have been positively identified, the other 5 are undergoing further tests, but the experts are quietly confident of further positive results.

These men will be reburied in October 1914 at Bois Grenier cemetery, France, with their name on their headstones.

 

Those identified were:-

Pte. Herbert Ernest Allcock, # 6774 b. Leeds

Pte. John Brameld, # 7208 b. Sheffield

 

Cpl. Francis Carr Dyson, # 9159 b. Wakefield

 

Pte. Walter Ellis, # 8272 b. Doncaster

 

Pte. John Jarvis, # 7164 b. Rotherham

 

Pte. Leonard Arthur Morley, # 8678 b. Boxhill, Surrey

Pte. Ernest Oxer, # 8502 b. Swinton, Rotherham

 

Pte. John Richmond, # 7969 b. Radford, Notts

 

Pte. William Alfred Singyard, # 7318 b. Newcastle upon Tyne

 

L/Cpl. William Henry Warr, # 6822 b. Axminster, Lyme Regis

 

 

 

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Image Courtesy of Google Earth

 

 

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