Albert POTTS
Rank: Private
Number: 36396
Date of Death: 3 May 1917
Age: 31
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Albert Potts was born and lived in Gatley. In the 1901 Census, he was recorded as being 17 years of age and living at 27 Gatley Green with his parents, Samuel and Elizabeth. He was the middle of three brothers (the others being Herbert and Harold) and had a younger sister, Bertha.

He enlisted at Stockport, originally serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (service number: 3504). At some point, he transferred to the infantry. This is likely to have after a lengthy period away from his unit recovering from illness or wounds and, when he was fit enough to return to duty, the Army will have decided that the Leicesters were in greater need of replacments

On 2 May, Albert's Battalion was in trenches near the village of Fontaine-les-Croiselles, to the south west of Arras. The Battle of Bullecourt was to start in the early hours of the next morning along several miles of front line.  The attack started whilst it was still dark and the Leicesters had over 1000 yards of No Man's Land to cross to reach their objective. It seems as though the Germans may have been expecting the attack, for as the British artillery shelled the German front line, the enemy immediately responded by accurately shelling the on-coming troops.

The Battalion's War Diary describes the start of the advance "The Battalion was disposed in two waves of two lines each, with a wave of moppers-up behind. From right to left "A" Coy, "B" Coy, "C" formed the line of attack, each company having a two platoon frontage. "D" Coy was drawn up in two lines, 60 yards in rear. The formation was two waves, each of two lines, 10 yards between lines and 60 yards between waves, with "D" Coy as moppers up."

The 8th and 9th Leicesters managed to capture their objectives of Fontaine Wood and Cherisy, but they could not hold them and had to withdraw in the face of a strong enemy counter attack. Some men took four hours to cover the 1000 yards back to the safety of their trenches - crawling from shell hole to shell hole to avoid enemy fire. Many troops were taken prisoner and losses were heavy. One company lost four officers and 75% of the other ranks, killed or wounded. Albert was one of 97 members of his Battalion who were killed in the attack.

(NB: Some of this information has been supplied by Leicestershire historian, Michael Kendrick, With thanks. Original research for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website. JH)

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