Norman Francis EDWARDS
Rank: Private
Number: 36094
Unit: 1/4th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 9 October 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

When the 1901 Census was taken, 2 year old Walter was living with his parents, David and Elizabeth, in four rooms at 8 Wyatt Street, Stockport. Also living there were his two older brothers, Ernest and Sidney and 8 month old Walter.

When he left school, Norman went to work at the tobacco factory of E Robinson & sons, St Petersgate. He will have been conscripted into the army when he became 18 and was assigned to 47th Training Reserve Battalion (service number 5/15231). When he had finished training, he was allocated to the 1/4th Battalion of the KOYLI.

The Third Battle of Ypres (often known as Passchendaele) had started on 31 July and was still underway in the autumn. 9 October would be later officially designated as the Battle of Poelcapelle. The men of 148 Brigade would form part of the northern flank of the attack. Zero hour was set for 5.30 and the leading battalions attacked on schedule. Norman and his mates were not part of the first waves and were held in reserve. The line of the attack crossed what was normally a large stream - the Ravebeek - but due to the heavy rains it was now some 40 yards wide in places and waist deep. The attacking troops soon found themselves literally bogged down and the subject of machine gun and rifle fire. Norman's Battalion was soon ordered forward to re-enforce the advance.

The Regimental History recounts that they went forward in two waves also losing many casualties to machine gun fire coming from a German position  marked on British maps as "Belle Vue". Progress was further hampered as the attacking troops were now forced to close up on the Meetcheele - Gravenstafel road as the ground was otherwise impassable. On the left, heavy losses continued to be suffered from machine gun fire whilst, on the right, troops could not get forward because of the mud. Once they had joined with the leading units, they all moved forward together.

"The line had to advance up a long slope under rifle and machine gun fire; the advance was made as far as possible by sections, but the fire from Wolf Copse on the left and Belle Vue on top of the slope was devastating. There came a time when the companies no longer carried sufficient weight to carry a position - the strength of a company now averaged 30 - 40 men."

The Battalion now dug-in on the slope about 400 yards north east of where the Ravebeek crossed the road. About 7pm, Capt. Chadwick of "Z" Company took men to try to capture two pill boxes on the crest of the slope, but there was so much barbed wire in front of them that the attempt had to be abandoned. The Battalion was relieved from the front line during the night. Norman's body was never found and identified.

Reporting Norman's death, the local newspaper noted that Ernest Edwards had been killed on 28 February 1917 whilst serving with 2nd  Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. He does not appear to be remembered on any local War Memorial. Sydney and Walter also served in Egypt and are thought to have survived the War.

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