Westerman Hartle OGDEN
Rank: Private
Number: 110185
Unit: 718th Company LABOUR CORPS
Date of Death: 27 May 1918
Age: 38
Cemetery: Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

When the Census was taken in 1901, Westerman was the youngest of three children still at the family home of Thomas and Sarah Ogden at 131 Manchester Road, Heaton Chapel. Thomas was a designer in the calico printing industry. 20 year old Westerman and his older brother, Frederick, both worked as wood engravers.

Westerman's record at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission suggests that, before transferring to the Labour Corps, he served with the 23rd Works Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment (service number 67176). However, information supplied by the family and recorded by the Commission suggests his first unit was the 17th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment (service number 46327). If he did serve with the Liverpool Regiment, then this was not overseas on active service as it is not mentioned on his medal entitlement records at the National Archives. These records show his first service abroad to have been with the Cheshires (his service number suggesting an enlistment in the early part of 1916.

A possible scenario is that he originally enlisted in the Cheshires; served overseas and was then discharged through ill health. He may then have been subsequently conscripted into the Works Battalion (which was comprised of men of a lower category of health than those deemed suitable for fighting in the trenches). In the early part of 1917, the Works Battalion was absorbed into the newly created Labour Corps. The Corps supplied men who would undertake manual labouring tasks in the rear areas. These would be jobs such as road building, grave digging, unloading supplies, etc. This would often bring the men close to the front line and, certainly, within range of enemy artillery and casualties were not uncommon. Unfortunately, few records of the Corps still remain and it is not possible to know what work Westerman's Company was undertaking on the day he was killed.

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