Samuel BARBER
Rank: Private
Number: 91823
Unit: 15th Battalion DURHAM LIGHT INFANTRY
Date of Death: 8 October 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Bois-des-Angles British Cemetery, Crevecoeur-sur-L’Escaut, Nord, France

Samuel was the eldest of five children of Samuel and Ellen Barber of 10 Bow Street (and, previously, 31 Bennett Street) Stockport. Little is known about his life other than military records published after the War show he enlisted at Chester as a conscript. His service papers, dating from his enlistment on 3 May 1917, show he was working at a cotton mill. He was just under 5’ 6” tall with a 34” chest. He’d expressed a preference to serve with the artillery but found himself posted to the infantry. Whilst in training at Catterick he was admonished for his only infringement of military regulations when, 19 October 1917, he failed to return to camp until the morning after his leave pass had expired. After he had finished his training, he was posted to the Durhams and went overseas on 31 March 1918

Although Samuel and his mates couldn’t know it, the War had just over a month left when they went back into the front line on 7 October at a position known as Puigles Chateau (? sp ?). At 1am, the next morning, they attacked the German trenches known as the Beaurevoir System, which was almost the last defended part of the Hindenberg Line. They came under very heavy enemy artillery shelling but succeeded in capturing almost all of their objectives. The one remaining stronghold was a machine gun post which was eventually rushed and taken. After a short stop, the men pressed on and captured further positions. These were very stiff fights but over 100 prisoners were taken.

At 6am, a small party of the Durhams attacked a chateau, capturing it again after a hard fight. At this point, the Germans exploded mines around the building – presumably they had left it booby-trapped - and the British had to withdraw. The Battalion now consolidated their gains. It had been a successful day, but Samuel and 28 of his comrades were dead. Another 150 were wounded and 49 unaccounted for at the end of the day.

In Mrch 1919, the Army returned Samuel’s personal effects to the family. There wasn’t much – just some letters and photos.

   
           
   
     
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