Edwin TILDESLEY
Rank: Corporal
Number: 34514
Unit: 11th Battalion BORDER Regiment
Date of Death: 2 December 1917
Age: 22
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Edwin's name is wrongly spelt, as Tyldesley, in the regimental records which were later used by the War Graves Commission. The correct spelling, as confirmed by the 1901 Census and the record of his parents' marriage, is as above.

William Earner Tildesley married Hannah Hulme at St Thomas' Chruch, Norbury, Hazel Grove between July and September 1887. By 1901, when the Census was taken, they had four sons. The eldest was William (10), then Albert (7), and Tom (3). Edwin had been born in the early part of 1896 but it has not been possible to locate him on the Census. William, senior, was then aged 35 and worked as a labourer. Hannah, 36, was a cotton reeler.

When War was declared in August 1914, Edwin was one of the first to enlist, joining up the same month. He enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment (service number 11902) and went overseas on active service with it. It is not known when he transferred to the Borders, but it was probably after a period recovering from illness or wounds which had kept him out of action for a while.

By the end of November 1917, the 3rd Battle of Ypres (commonly known as Passchendaele) was officially over. Thousands of lives had been lost. Many bodies had disappeared into the mud and would never be found. After the first day, the Battle was characterised by a series of fairly small scale advances with the intent of "bite and hold". It had been reasonably successful and it was to be a feature of the remaining year of war. However, it also left the attacking troops open to counter-attack

On 1 December, the Battalion rested all day and then, in the evening, moved to a position known as Wurst Farm near Graventafel, to the north of Ypres (now Ieper). The Battalion, in conjunction with others would carry out a night attack on positions south of Westroosebeek. Zero hour was set for 1.55am. The Battalion war Diary records "The Battalion took its objectives by the two leap-frogging Companies. Fell back before dawn into subsidiary objectives which were held all day until the enemy launched a counter attack at 4.30pm and the Battalion fell back to the old line."

It is accounts such as this that often typifies the apparent futility of the Western Front.  83 members of the Battalion, including Edwin, were dead. Not an inch of ground had been captured and held. As the Borders had been forced to withdraw, it will not have been possible to recover the bodies. It may have been some considerable while before the ground was captured and sufficiently safe. In that time, bodies would have been struck by shells and, simply, disappeared as the earth was constantly churned up. Commemorated on the two nearby Memorials to the Missing - the Menin Gate at Ieper and Tyne Cot at Zonnebeke - are the names of over 89000 men who have no known grave.

   
           
   
     
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