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War Memorials



In Memory of
JOSEPH STANLEY CASTLEDINE
Private 27853
10th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
Who died from wounds on Thursday, 19th November 1918
Age 23

Buried Plot L Row E Grave 9
Etaples Military Cemetery, Etaples, Pas de Calais, France

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

Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France1

Joseph Stanley (generally known as 'Stanley') Castledine was born in Beeston, Notts in 1895 2, the fourth surviving child of Thomas William (b. c1860, Beeston) and Jane Castledine (b, c1867 Stanton-by-Date, Derbyshire née Chadwick). In 1901 the family was living at 21 Stoney Street, Notts with Thomas William working as a general labourer3. By 1911, the family had moved across the road, to 21 Stoney Street where Thomas William was working as a railway contractor4. By then, Stanley, age 16, was working as a grocer's assistant.

Although Stanley's Army Service Record has not survived, it does appear that Stanley was part of the initial rush to enlist in August 19145. Although there is evidence that he first joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry6 it appears that he was with 9th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers when he was posted to Egypt , arriving on 3 December 1915 and joining up with the battalion which, as part of 11th (Northern) Division, was in the process of being evacuated from Gallipoli where it had suffered severe casualties in the fighting as well as from disease and harsh weather. While in Egypt, helping to defend the Suez Canal, the battalion was strengthened and, in July 1916, the Division as a whole was moved to France where the Battle of the Somme was underway and its contribution was needed. Later that year the battalion, as part of 11th Division, was actively involved in the capture of the Wundt-Werk (widely known as 'Wonder Work' by the British), a heavily fortified part of the Leipzig Salient, as well as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the Battle of Thiepval7.

During 1917, the Battalion took part in the Operation on the Ancre between January and March and the Battle of Messines in June. Then, from the last day of July through to November, in various actions within the Third Battle of Ypres - known as Passchendaele. This would have been a terrible experience with huge casualties - nearly s third of a million British and Allied soldiers and not far short of that German men, were killed or injured - and torrential rain which created a quagmire which became treacherous and impassable - particularly for the tanks which had been planned as a major component of the attacks. In February 1918, the battalion was disbanded and, it seems, it was now that Private Castledine became part of 10th Battalion.

Soon afterwards, on 21st March, the German Army had launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The objective was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. During the following few weeks the enemy attacks had made worrying progress and there had been heavy casualties. By April the army was facing a desperate shortage of manpower on the Western Front and reinforcements were being found from reserve and non-combatant units as well as by lowering the age that young soldiers could be sent abroad. When the offensive began, 10th Battalion was in the front line at Havrincourt, south-west of Cambrai, and faced repeated attacks and were forced to retreat to the reserve line were it continued to be attacked with heavy losses, forcing further withdrawals, a pattern that was to continue in the confusion over the next several days. During March, the battalion had casualties totaling 7 officers and 223 other ranks. 62 reinforcements arrived and much of April was spent in training and reorganisation, including the consolidation of 7 officers and 441 men from other units, although there were further substantial losses11. It had been a worrying and confusing time but thankfully, by the end of April the danger of a German breakthrough had passed. While enemy attacks continued up to July, the German forces were too depleted and exhausted to maintain the initiative, particularly now that American troops were now being deployed as independent units to reinforce the Allied positions8.

In August the tide began to change when Allies had achieved a major breakthrough at the Battle of Amiens and now planned to use this significant change in the momentum of the war across the wider front, a turning point of the First World War on the Western Front and the beginning of the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive. For its part, 10th battalion was at Mesnil, north of Albert, at the beginning of August where it was able to advance into abandoned enemy positions with relatively minor casualties although actions towards the end of the month brought greater losses. In early September the battalion was very active in an area east of Ytres, near to the Bapaume to Peronne Road and faced heavy shelling, including gas shells, and there were heavy casualties. In October, the advance continued when Cambrai was taken by Allied forces and Valenciennes followed. But the enemy fought back strongly despite the breaching of their strongly defended Hindenburg Line.

On 12 October, the battalion was at Neuvilly on the River Selle and took part in what was to be its last major attack. Things went reasonably well, under a creeping barrage, despite stiff opposition from machine gun fire and snipers and there were setbacks and counter-attacks before the objectives were achieved. In all, the battalion lost 33 men killed, four officers and 134 other ranks had been injured and 15 other ranks were missing.

It seems likely that Private Castledine was one of those wounded. He had served for four years and been involved in fierce fighting, faced atrocious weather and endured terrible conditions but was now seriously wounded, just days before the Armistice and the eventual return to the normal life that he deserved. After receiving basic emergency treatment in a nearby Regimental Aid Post he would have been passed back to an Advance Dressing Station, then to a Casualty Clearing Station which would organise transfer to a military hospital to give him the chance of a recovery9. So it was that Private Castledine arrived at one of the large group of hospitals then operational at Etaples which, by that time, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. Sadly, despite everyone's best efforts, Private Castledine died from his wounds on 19th November, just eight days after the Armistice.

He was buried in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery. This cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in France, containing 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the Great War. It also contains 119 burials from the Second World War and 662 Non-Commonwealth burials, mainly German.

Private Castledine was posthumously awarded the British and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star10. His Army financial effects of 35 17s 6d, which included his War Gratuity of 20, were paid to his father on 8 March 191911.


Footnotes
1The photograph of Etaples Military Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2/1895 (Ref 7b 211)
3Beeston, Notts : 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 14
4Beeston, Notts : 1911 Census, Piece 20426 RD429 SD3 ED1 Schedule 170
Stanley's siblings included Harry (b. c1886), Percy (b. 1887), Philip Ernest (b. 1889), Mary Jane ('Polly') (b. c1890), Hilda (b. c1901) and Harold (b. c1903). The 1911 census recorded that Jane had borne 15 children, seven of which were then alive.
5As Stanley's Army Service Record has not survived, his enlistment month has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity
6This early attachment (Service Number 23776) is mentioned in Stanley's entry in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.
7This account of 9th Battalion movements are based on a summary on the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/267/lancashire-fusiliers).
8This account of 10th Battalion movements throughout 1918 are based on the Battalion's war diary.
9There is a more complete description of the procedures for the movement of wounded from the front at www.ramc-ww1.com/chain_of_evacuation.php
10Detail of his medal awards are from his entry in the Medal Roll and from his Medal Card - available on ancestry.com.
11Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.

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