A Collection of Awards to the Worcestershire Regiment formed by Group Captain J. E. Barker

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Date of Auction: 27th September 2017

Sold for £4,600

Estimate: £4,600 - £5,000

A fine Great War 1918 D.C.M. and Second Award Bar group of four awarded to Sergeant H. Yates, Worcestershire Regiment, for repeated instances of gallantry during attacks at Englefontaine and Petit Mauberge, when he led his platoon to capture 5 machine-gun posts

Distinguished Conduct Medal, G.V.R., with Second Award Bar (8932 Cpl.-A. Sjt: - H. Yates. 20 [sic]/Worc: R.); 1914-15 Star (8932 Pte. H. Yates. Worc: R.); British War and Victory Medals (8932 Sjt. H. Yates. Worc. R.) VM officially renamed, remnants of lacquer, generally good very fine (4) £4600-5000

Footnote

D.C.M. London Gazette 18 February 1919 (details appeared in London Gazette of 10 January 1920):

‘For great gallantry on 6th November, 1918, during the attack on Petit Mauberge. He led forward his platoon and rushed an enemy machine-gun post, capturing the gun and crew. Later he rushed a second machine gun, taking six prisoners, and assisted during the advance in capturing two other machine guns. He showed marked courage and leadership.’

D.C.M. Second Award Bar London Gazette 18 February 1919 (details appeared in London Gazette 10 January 1920):

‘During the attack on the night of 25th/26th October 1918, at Englefontaine, he, with utter disregard for personal safety, rushed an enemy machine-gun post, killed the team and knocked out the gun. His fine courage and initiative undoubtedly prevented many casualties.’

Herbert Yates served during the Great War with the 2nd (not 20th - this a naming error, as no such battalion existed) Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment in the French theatre of war from 4 April 1915. He advanced to Sergeant and served with distinction, in particular throughout 1918, when his actions at Selle and Petit Mauberge saw him awarded the D.C.M. and Bar - 1 of 7 awarded to the Regiment.

His exploits are recorded in The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War, by Captain H. FtizM. Stacke, M.C.:

‘Throughout the ensuing day (October 25th) the 33rd Division stood fast, while the Divisions on right and left fought their way forward into line. Preparations were made and plans amended for a fresh attack.

At 1am on October 26th the new attack was launched. All three Brigades of the 33rd Division attacked. On the left the 19th Brigade led by the 1st Queen’s attacked the western side of the village [Englefontaine]; on the right the 98th Brigade attacked it from the east; and in the centre the 2nd Worcestershire and Glasgow Highlanders of the 100th Brigade attacked the village from the south.

The enemy were strongly posted on the outskirts of the ruined village with machine-guns skilfully disposed to sweep the open ground. In spite of the crashing barrage the German machine-gunners opened fire as soon as the advancing platoons appeared out of the darkness. One machine-gun was shooting straight down the Landrecies road; but 2nd Lieutenant B. Kelly charged the machine-gun at the head of a small party, plunged in among the machine-gunners, killed two with the bayonet and captured the rest. Further along the line Sergeant H. Yates boldly attacked a second machine-gun, killed the machine gunners and cleared the way. Nevertheless there were many casualties; and both the officers of one company were hit. Sergeant F. Field took command of the company and led his men forward into the village.

The British attack had been launched at the very hour at which the German troops in Englefontaine were being relieved; and the inevitable confusion among the enemy greatly helped the attackers. The German battalions which had stood the strain of the previous three days of battle were at the end of their strength, and the fresh troops, ignorant of the situation, were easily demoralised. The attackers fought their way into the wrecked village and for a time a wild struggle raged around the ruins of the houses....

Before dawn the German resistance was broken; and in the first light (October 26th) the last enemy in the village gave themselves up. By sunrise Englefontaine was entirely in our hands, with more than five hundred prisoners and many machine-guns.....

[The Pursuit to Mons]... A few miles to the northward, the 2nd Worcestershire had remained in reserve during the great battle on November 4th [1918]. Since the close of the Battle of the Selle the Battalion had remained billeted in Forest. There the 2nd Worcestershire remained during the first hours of the battle.... Presently word came that the 38th Division had gained their objectives; and that the 33rd Division would advance. The 100th Brigade marched up the main road to Hecq, past troops of prisoners... the advance was resumed to the edge of the Mormal Forest, where the troops settled down for the night.

An attack was planned for the next morning; but before dawn it was found that the enemy had retired. The advance was resumed, the direction this time being eastward through the Forest. The 2nd Worcestershire marched at the rear of the Brigade.... At Sartbaras, on the western edge of the Forest, the 100th Brigade debouched into the open. In front some parties of the enemy were still west of the River Sambre, and a little manoeuvring and shooting was necessary to drive them away. In the course of those operations “A” and “B” Companies of the Battalion occupied the village of Sassegnies, without loss. After dark the Battalion took over position along the banks of the River Sambre. In front the German rearguards were holding Aulnoye and Leval. Orders were received for an attack across the river next day.

During that night the indefatigable sappers put a light bridge across the river. At 5.30am (November 6th) such guns as were available opened fire. The leading Worcestershire platoons rushed across the bridge, formed up on the rising ground beyond and advanced to the attack.

Several machine-guns fired at them from the outskirts of Petit Mauberge; but 2nd Lieutenant J. E. Morrison led his men forward with speed and skill, outflanked a large party of the enemy and drove them off in flight. Sergeant H. Yates led his platoon in a swift rush which captured a machine-gun and its crew. The enemy gave way on all sides. A German field-gun opened fire at point-blank range in a vain effort to hold back the pursuit; but 2nd Lieutenant Morrison outflanked the gun and captured it without loss. Three more machine-guns were rushed and captured [see citation above], the German rearguard was scattered. In less than an hour the villages of Leval and Petit Mauberge had been cleared at trifling cost.....

The 2nd Worcestershire were now on historic ground. On August 25th 1914 the Battalion had marched through Leval from Aulnoye during the retreat from Mons. Now the British Army was fighting its way back across the ground over which it had then retreated.’