Benjamin Emile ROWBOTTOM
Rank: Private
Number: 75943
Date of Death: 24 October 1918
Age: 19
Cemetery: Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Benjamin’s precise connection is not known. His mother, Martha, was living in the village in the early 1920s at 326 Green End, but Benjamin had been born in Derby and enlisted into the army there. It may be that Mrs Rowbottom settled in Compstall after the War and he never lived there.

His service number is not an early one and he was, almost certainly, conscripted into the army when he became 18.

By the middle of October 1918, it was becoming clear that the German Army was in almost constant retreat, although it was fighting hard as it withdrew from France and Belgium.

On the 23rd, Benjamin and his mates were at Avesnes-les-Aubert. They paraded at 8.45am and marched to St Auber. They left there at 8pm and relieved the 8th Gloucesters in the front line just before midnight. They were to attack the German defences, in conjunction with the 11th Suffolks on their left.

Zero hour was set for 4am. The Battalion’s War Diary, held at the National Archives, takes up the account. “The Battalion made good progress and captured the villages of St martin and Bermerai, capturing 6 officers and 150 ORs [Other Ranks], 4 trench mortars and 43 machine guns. “A” and “D” Companies were in the front line and “C” and “B” in support. The Battalion reached its final objective being the high ground 1500 yards north east of Berberain but had to withdraw slightly owing to the battalion  on the left being held up by the strong resistance of the enemy in the village of Vendeghies.”

A battalion of the East Lancashires now came to support and reinforce them. About 3pm, the Germans counter-attacked but this was repulsed. The Fusiliers were relieved from the front line at about 10.30pm and returned to billets. Benjamin’s body was never recovered and identified.

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