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Casualties in 1917


Having spent the summer and autumn of 1916 in reorganisation, the British and Indian forces renewed their campaign in the winter and spring.  Baghdad was eventually captured on 11 March 1917.  John Waterhouse, James Wilson and Richard Ditchfield were all killed in the campaign.

Western Front

The War on the Western Front was largely at stalemate in the first half of 1917.  Tom Bamber was killed near Lijssenthoek. 

A large scale assault at Arras in April and May led to some gains but no major breakthrough, and at great cost.  Arthur Jolly and Tom Woods were among the casualties at Arras.

William Rainford died of TB in Aldershot.

James Bradshaw died from wounds received in a raid on an enemy trench near Festubert.

Having failed to break through at Arras, the Allies moved the focus of their attacks to the north.  The Battle of Messines in June was a prelude to the much bigger Third Battle of Ypres (July-November).  Thomas Ryding was a stretcher-bearer killed at Messines.  William Delaney enlisted underage and was still only 19 when he was killed in the trenches near Messines.

286Bde RFA (with over a hundred Briggers enlisted) had landed in France in February 1917 and began their service in the defence of Armentières, John Stirzaker was an early casualty.  John Marsden died in UK from a pre-existing heart condition.  286Bde was artillery for 57th Division.  William Whitehead and Wilfred Holland were infantrymen in the same Division.

Back near Arras, James Barton was killed in a raid on an enemy trench.  James Doolan was killed in the 'quiet before the storm' of Passchendaele.

'Operation Hush' was an attempt to take the channel ports of Oostende and Zeebrugge back from the Germans.  It was a failure.  Tom Slater was killed when a German plane dropped a bomb on his camp.  Henry Smith was killed in the same operation a month later.

Robert Mercer and Charles Naylor were in the same battalion.  They spent 1917 in and out of the trenches in the Ypres Salient.  Robert was killed in a raid on an enemy trench.  Charles was killed on the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).  Joe Knight was in the same Brigade but a different Battalion.  Tom Mercer was in a shelter behind the lines when a shell hit, killing him and all his companions.  John Newman died of wounds at Abbeville.  William Rothwell died of wounds near Wieltje.  Alfred Snape was killed by a bomb dropped from an aeroplane on his camp.  Hubert Cooper was killed in sporadic fighting near Frezenberg.  Joe Thompson was killed south of Ypres defending the forward line won at the Battle of Messines.  Levi Woods died in the trenches near Zillebeke as the preparations were being made for a new attack.  Norman Allison was killed near Langemark.

57th Division came back into action in the Second Battle of Passchendaele.  Joe Nagle, James Roberts, Robert Law and James Whittle were among the thousands of dead as the final attempt was made to capture Passchendaele.

Matthew Kennedy committed suicide whilst on leave at home.

The Battle of Cambrai (20 November - 7 December) was famous and infamous in equal measure: famous as the first use of massed tanks and for the spectacular success of the opening day, after which church bells were rung in England for the first time since 1914; infamous for the equally spectacular German counter-attack which pushed the Allies back to behind their opening position.  For the longer term, the battle marked the end of the war of attrition and the start of the war of movement which would characterise the fighting in 1918.  Cambrai claimed the lives of George Raby, Alfred Wharton, Harold Poole and Patrick Walsh.


John Waterhouse, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment,

15 February 1917

James Wilson, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 25 February 1917

Richard Ditchfield, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 9 March 1917

Thomas Bamber, Royal Field Artillery, 5 March 1917

Arthur Jolly, Manchester Regiment, 25 April 1917

Thomas Woods, Lancashire Fusiliers, 5 May 1917

William Henry Rainford, Royal Flying Corps, 1 May 1917

James Bradshaw, East Lancashire Regiment, 10 June 1917

James Buck, Royal Garrison Artillery, 5 June 1917

Thomas Ryding, Royal Army Medical Corps, 17 June 1917

William Delaney, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 20 June 1917

John Stirzaker, Royal Field Artillery, 21 June 1917

John Marsden, Royal Field Artillery, 30 June 1917

William Whitehead, King's (Liverpool Regiment), 26 July 1917

Wilfred Holland, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10 August 1917

James Barton, East Lancashire Regiment, 1 July 1917

James Doolan, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3 July 1917

Thomas Slater, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10 July 1917

Henry Smith, Royal Field Artillery, 8 August 1917

Robert Mercer, King's (Liverpool Regiment), 20 July 1917

Charles Naylor, King's (Liverpool Regiment), 31 July 1917

John Ulrich Moss, King's (Liverpool Regiment), 31 July 1917

Joseph Knight, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 31 July 1917

Thomas Henry Mercer, Labour Corps, 17 August 1917

John Emerson Newman, Royal Garrison Artillery, 19 August 1917

William Rothwell, Royal Field Artillery, 24 August 1917

Alfred Snape, Royal Engineers, 31 August 1917

Hubert Cooper, East Lancashire Regiment, 10 September 1917

Joseph Thompson, Royal Field Artillery, 13 September 1917

Matthew Kennedy, Royal Field Artillery, 29 September 1917

Norman Allison, Royal Field Artillery, 11 October 1917

Levi Woods, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry, 24 October 1917

Joseph Nagle, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 26 October 1917

James Roberts, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 26 October 1917

Robert Henry Law, Cheshire Regiment, 30 October 1917

James Henry Whittle, Royal Field Artillery, 3 November 1917

George Arthur Raby, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment,

18 November 1917

Alfred Harling Wharton, King's Own Scottish Borderers,

30 November 1917

Harold Poole, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3 December 1917

Patrick Walsh, King's (Liverpool Regiment), 12 December 1917

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