David Elland LANGTON
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 36th Company MACHINE GUN CORPS
Date of Death: 10 April 1917
Age: 20 (as recorded by the War Graves Commission)
Cemetery: Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France

When the 1901 Census was taken, David's father described his employment as a bank clerk. This may have undervalued his role and his employment certainly enabled the family to employ a live-in general servant - 16 year old Ellen Taylor. By 1917, he had certainly been promoted to Chief Cashier of William Deacon's Bank, Manchester.

The family was living at "Morningside", Irlam Road, Flixton. David and Elizabeth Langton had at least three children - Robert (then 8), David (4) and Mildred (3). Reporting his death in 1917, the Stockport Advertiser recorded that he was the third son so, presumably, another boy was staying elsewhere on census day.

By the time of the Great War, the family had been living for some while at "Lindow", Thorn Road, Bramhall and David had been attending Manchester Grammar School (and is included on the Schools' Roll of Honour). In 1912, he was leader of the "Wolf" pack of the 1st Bramhall Scout group. When he left school, he went to work as a salesman but, on 11 January 1915, he enlisted into the army joining the 16th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers as a private. He started his training at Llandudno three days later and was given the service number 19914.

David's service papers still exist at the National Archives and these show he was born on 20 April 1896. He was 5' 4 ½" tall and weighed 113 pounds. The examining doctor noted that he only had one distinguishing mark - an appendicitis scar. His medal entitlement records at the National Archives show he went overseas with the Fusiliers, but his original stay on the Western Front was to be very brief as he was quickly selected to become an officer.

Writing in support of his application for a commission, his old Headmaster wrote "D E Langton is a good sort. He was at this School from April 1906 to March 1912 and reached the Upper 5th on the Modern side. He was in that Form for five terms during one of which he was absent through illness. His weak sport is mathematics. He comes from good folk. He is a steady fellow, of good address, conscientious. I commend him."

On 21 November 1915, David duly received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and was posted to the 14th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. This was a reserve battalion of the Regiment and David did not go overseas until September 1916, when he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He joined the 36th Company on 12 September. In the early part of 1917, he spent a few weeks on attachment to the machine gun school at Camiers in France, rejoining his unit on 17 February.

On 9 April 1917, the Company was in position ready to support the infantry battalions of its brigade in a major attack as part of the first day of the Battle of Arras. They operated sixteen heavy Vickers guns, each with a seven man team. Most of the guns would remain in the British line firing a barrage over the heads of the attacking troops with the intent of keeping the Germans heads down within their trenches, so they could not man their own guns.

Four guns were to be carried forward in very close support of the infantry and the Company's War Diary seems to suggest that David was one of the two officers in charge of these teams (the other was a Lt. Grey).

The men "went over the top" on schedule at 5.20am and they quickly secured their first objective. This was, presumably, the German front line trench and they waited here for an hour to reorganise. The infantry then moved forward towards the second objective, described in the Diary only as the "Blue Line". Two of the guns remained at the first objective and, again, the Diary suggests that the two gun teams commanded by David also went forward to the Blue Line and set up emplacements here to defend against any counter-attack. It is probably whilst here that David was badly wounded, most likely by shellfire. Certainly by midday, Lt Grey was in command of all four guns.  

David will have received attention from the Battalion's own medical officer, but this will have been little more than first aid. He was then evacuated to a field hospital - 19th Casualty Clearing Station - at Etrun, where he died the next day.

3 April will have been a day of celebration back in Bramhall. David older brother, Private Robert Langton arrived back from the front on 10 days leave. He will probably still have been home to comfort his parents when a telegram arrived saying "Deeply regret to inform you 2nd Lt. D E Langton Machine Gun Corps died of wounds April 10th. Army Council express their sympathy." The arrival of the "dreaded telegram" is often mentioned in connection with the War. In fact, only the deaths of officers were notified by telegram. Other ranks families were told be letter and, often, a note from a comrade or an officer would arrive before the official notification.

The Stockport Advertiser wrote, in its edition of 20 April that he was "cheery bright boy. He was a general favourite with all who knew him and very few people in Bramhall, where he lived, did not know David. He was happy in doing his duty and his death in the recent fighting has been received with great grief by all his friends."

David's effects were later sent home to Bramhall. They included a bible, mirror, nail scissors damaged wrist watch, a protractor and a leather wallet containing letters and photographs. The War Office also sorted out David's outstanding pay and allowances which amounted to £81 11s 4d, but after deduction of his mess bill and payments to his officer's servant, it was finalised at £68 13s 10d.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, David's parents had moved to 51 Eccles Old Road, in the Pendleton area of Salford.

   
           
   
     
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