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War Memorials



In Memory of
SAMUEL GILBERT BOOTH
Gunner L23331
'A' Battery/83rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery
Who Died of Wounds on Thursday 23rd August 1917
Age 32

Buried Plot III Row B Grave 7
The Huts Cemetery, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Huts Cemetery

The Huts Cemetery

Samuel Gilbert Booth was born in Nottingham in 1885, the son of John and Mary (née Gilbert) Booth2. The family moved to Beeston from Nottingham in about 1888 and first lived in Chapel Street, with John working as an iron moulder, probably at the adjacent Foster & Pearson foundry3. By 1901 the family was living at Windsor Street, Beeston, John was working as a fitters labourer and Samuel, then aged 15, was working as a lace warehouse boy4. By 1911 the family had moved to 116 Queens Road, Beeston and Samuel was working as an iron fettler, in all probability at the nearby Beeston Foundry.5.

In the following year, Samuel married Emily Lane, a cardboard box maker, the daughter of William George & Ellen Lane, born in 1888 in Radford, Nottingham6. They went on to have three children - John H, born in 1913 who sadly died about a year later, William George, born in 1914 and Ellen, born early in 19167.

Although Samuel's Army Service Record has not survived, it appears the he enlisted in May 1915 with the Royal Field Artillery8. After basic and specialist training, he would have joined 83rd Brigade in France, probably in time for the 1916 Somme offensive. The Brigade had originally embarked for France in July 1915, coming under the command of 18th Division. It was to be the sobering experiences of the earlier Somme battles, that led to the realisation that the tactic of saturation shelling the trenches was not the complete solution that had been expected. Tragically, attacking infantry had found the enemy and barbed wire still in place despite extensive shelling. That realisation had led to much more effective use of the 'creeping barrage' - a wall of shellfire, aimed just in front of the advancing Allied infantry - and the development of much more accurate targeting of enemy artillery positions - which were often hidden from direct sight. These new tactics, together with improved guns and shells, meant that the Artillery units played a vital part in the remainder of the war and the eventual allied victory9.

During 1917, in support of 18th Division, 83rd Brigade took part in operations on the Ancre, the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and various phases of the Third Battle of Ypres - The Battle of Passchendaele10. In preparation for the major infantry attack on 31 July, the artillery was once again called on to prepare the ground by saturation shelling. For 10 days prior to the attack, 3000 artillery guns fired over four million shells. It would have been no surprise to the enemy when the attack was launched on 31 July. It was another tragedy with only small gains, made unbelievably worse by the deteriorating weather. Thick mud was everywhere and the shell craters were full of water giving no shelter to the advance in impassable and unimaginable conditions. At some point during the battle, Gunner Booth was severely injured and he had started to be moved through the evacuation chain when, sadly, it seems that his condition was such that he died while in the care of the local field ambulance teams. He was buried in The Huts Cemetery.

The Huts Cemetery is located 6 Kms south-west of Ypres town centre. It takes its name from a line of huts strung along the road from Dickebusch (now Dikkebus) to Brandhoek, which were used by field ambulances during the 1917 Allied offensive on this front. Plots I to X and XII to XIV were filled between July and November 1917. Plots XV and XI followed. Nearly two-thirds of the burials are of gunners as many artillery positions existed nearby. There are now 1,094 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery11.

Gunner Booth was posthumously awaited the Victory Medal and the British Medal12. His Army financial effects of 10s 5d were paid to his widow, as sole legatee, on 14 February 1918 and she received his War Gratuity of 10 on 30 October 191913.

In addition to his being remembered on the war memorial panels in Beeston Parish Church, Samuel appears to be included in a 'List of persons connected with this parish of St Thomas who died in the present war' kept by the Reverend Chales Davis, the then Vicar of St Thomas, Nottingham, with the Parish Register of Baptisms14.

By the end of the war, Emily and her two surviving children had moved to Nottingham and were living at 328 Alfreton Road15, quite possibly with her parents. This is an arrangement which she appears to have continued with for the remainder of her parents' lives. In 1939, she and her parents, as well as her unmarried son William, were living at 6 Trafalgar Street, Nottingham16. Emily died in Nottingham in 1971, aged 82. William died in Nottingham in 1980, aged 66.17.


Footnotes
1The photograph of The Huts Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q3 1885 (Ref 7b 330).
31891 Census, Piece 2671 Folio 101 - 15 Chapel Street. Beeston
41901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 148 - Windsor Street, Beeston.
51911 Census - Piece 20430 RD429 SD3 ED5 Sched 34
6Their marriage was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1912 (Ref 7b 723). Emily Lane was born in Radford, Nottingham on 11 April 1888. By the time of the 1911 Census she was living with her parents and siblings at 37 Connaught Street, Nottingham (1911 Census : Piece 20628 RD430 SD4 ED36 Sched 13).
7John H was born in Basford Registration District (which then included Beeston - probably indicating that the family were then living there) in Q1/1914 (Ref 7b 493) but appears to have died in Q3/1916 in Basford Registration District (Ref 7b 215). William George was also born in Basford Registration District, in Q2/1914 (Ref 7b 531). Ellen was born in Nottingham Registration District (probably indicating that Emily had moved back to her parents home while her husband was serving) in Q1/1916 (Ref 7b 732).
8The date of his enlistment has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity. 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' records that he enlisted at Boyton Camp, Wiltshire.
9This summary of the development of artillery warfare during World War 1 is based on a fuller account on The Long Long Trail website (www.longlongtrail.co.uk/how-the-british-artillery-developed-and-became-a-war-winning-factor-in-1914-1918/)
10This account of 18th Division action in France and Belgium during 1917 is based on that on The Long Long Train website (www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/18th-eastern-division/).
11This description of The Huts Cemetery is based on that included in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
12Gunner Booth's medal awards are recorded in the Medal Rolls, available on ancestry.com.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
14This list is described on the Nottinghamshire County Council Roll of Honour site at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/WarMemorials/Details/599. It is not clear why Samuel would be included as there is no record of a family connection with this central Nottingham parish.
15This address is given in Samuel's Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry.
161939 Register of the population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 29 September 1939, available on findmypast.co.uk.
17Emily's death was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q1/1971 (Ref 3c 1300). William George's death was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1980 (Ref 8 1091)
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