25872 PTE. G. A. RABY. L.N.LAN.R.
George Arthur Raby was born on 18 May 1897 in Walton Le Dale and baptised there on 25 July. His father was Richard Raby (b. 1865 in Over Wyresdale), a farmer. His mother was Mary Sumner (b. 1857 in Walton Le Dale). Richard and Mary were married in 1890 and they had three sons: John William (1891-1907), Richard Albert (b. 1895), and George was the youngest. Richard is not in the 1901 Census but Mary is registered as living at 8 Hanover Street, Chorley. She is married and her second son, Richard, is living with her. She is the head of the household and she has four adult lodgers. So my guess is that Richard is serving in the Army. Their oldest son, John William, at this time is living with Richard’s unmarried siblings, Robert, Jane and Isabella Raby at Oram Home Farm, Brindle, and George (now aged 4) is living with Richard’s sister Mary and her husband John Hoole (b. 1857 in Barton). John William died in 1907; Richard continued to live with his parents (in 1911 they were living at Cliffs Farm, Heapey), and George continued to live with his uncle and aunt. In 1911, they were living at Eastham Farm, Cuerden, and George was a farm worker.
George turned 18 in May 1915 and I guess that’s when he enlisted. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was assigned service number 25872 and was posted to 1/4 Battalion. From February 1916, 1/4Bn came under orders of 164th (North Lancashire) Brigade in 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In July 1916, 55th Division took its place in the line not far from Guillemont, in the Somme region, and they took part in the capture of that village (4-6 September) and also the capture of Ginchy (9 September). They saw further action at Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). They then moved north to Flanders.
The first half of 1917 was spent in the Ypres salient, where they had a comparatively quiet time, if being surrounded by enemy on three sides and under constant artillery fire could be described as quiet. They were then engaged in the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, at Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August). Between 30 July and 4 August, in the Division’s attack in the area of Spree, Pond and Schuler Farms, no fewer than 168 officers and 3384 men were killed, wounded or missing. The Division was withdrawn to Recques for re-fit and training on 7 August. On 15 September, it returned to pretty well the exact position it had left the month before, under orders for the next phase of the offensive, the Battle of Menin Road Ridge (20 – 23 September). Casualties in this action were 127 officers and 2603 men, incurred in the heavy but successful fight for Gallipoli Farm, Schuler Farm and the Hanebeek. Relieved by 39th Division, the 55th moved out of the line from 22/3 September and proceeded to a very different area, south of Cambrai. They arrived at Lempire (20kms south of Cambrai) on 11 October 1917. Here they were in training and received a number of reinforcements so that by the end of the month the strength of the Battalion stood at 38 officers and 777 other ranks.
According to the Regimental History, on 17 November, the Battalion relieved another Bn in the Guillemont sector. At 5.30 in the morning the following day, the enemy opened a hurricane bombardment on their sector; out of 80 officers and men occupying the advanced posts only eight survived, the rest being killed and buried under the debris. Some 200 Germans entered the Battalion lines and began to work forward but they were held and eventually forced back, with 20 or more being bayoneted. George Raby was killed in this action. He was 20 years old. The terror would continue for his mates who had to face the German counter-attack at Cambrai on 30 November – at least George was spared that.
Service Number: 25872
Date of Death: 18/11/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Cemetery/memorial reference: Pier and Face 11 A.
Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
George’s brother Richard also served during the War, in the Royal Field Artillery. He enlisted with service number 681324, but was later re-numbered 290278. I don’t know anything about his service record. He married Elsie Yates in 1916 but she died and he remarried in 1922. His second wife was Ada Bargh and they had 3 children. Richard died in 1965.