Herbert GOOSTREY (Goostry)
Rank: Private
Number: 51675
Unit: 16th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 23 March 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

There is some doubt about the spelling of Herbert's surname, which is not unusual at a time when literacy was not high. Official records of his father's marriage show the name as Goostrey and this is the spelling on the War Memorial. However, records of Herbert's birth spell it without the letter "E", as does the newspaper report of his death.

The newspaper report indicates Herbert was the only son of W H Goostry (sic), 33 Shaw Road, Stockport. This is almost certain to be William Henry Goostrey who is recorded as marrying Charlotte Harriet Glover at St Mary's Church, between January and March 1894. At the time of the 1901 Census, the family name is spelt Goostry and William, then aged 27, is recorded as working as a "blocker" in the local hatmaking industry. Charlotte was 31 and would die a few years later in late 1910.

Harold enlisted into the army quite early in the war. He was originally posted to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (service number 33719) and, as these details appear on his medal entitlement records at the National Archives, he must have seen overseas service with that Regiment. His later number, issued when he was transferred to the Cheshires, dates from mid to late 1916.

In February 1918, the 16th Cheshires was disbanded in France as part of a re-organisation of army structures forced by the continual casualties during the war. Most men were fully re-assigned to other units, but those not immediately needed were formed into reserve units known as Entrenching Battalions. Herbert and some others from the 16th Cheshires, including Percy Pryce, were formed into the 12th Entrenching Battalion along with men from the 14th Gloucesters, 23rd Manchesters and 20th Lancashire Fusiliers.

The intent was that the men only be deployed in the rear areas on defensive work, so that they would not become depleted.  However, the German Army launched an overwhelming attack on British positions along a 40 mile front on 21 March 1918. Within hours, the Tommies were in full-scale retreat. Many were dead or wounded. Many more had been captured. Further strategic withdrawals were made and, on 23 March, Herbert and his comrades found themselves in the front line near Tergnier-Quessy (about 35 kilometres south east of the French city of Amiens). Not surprisingly, there are few records of these days and it is not possible to know how Herbert or Percy were killed. In the chaos, it is most unlikely that their comrades would have been able to give them a proper burial and this, no doubt, accounts for why they have no known grave.

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