Albert Ellis Whitaker
Date of birth: 1893
Date of death: 17.11.1918
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: West Yorkshire
Family information: Son of Mark Anthony and Ellen Whitaker
Service number: 43333
On 4th August 1914, when war was declared, Albert Ellis Whitaker was employed at Wrenthorpe Colliery. Almost immediately he joined the army, enlisting in the York and Lancaster Regiment. In the absence of his service record it is not certain to which battalion he was posted, but it is known that, on 22nd October 1915, he entered the Balkans theatre of war. Sometime later he transferred to the 9th Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) and his service number changed to 43333.
The 9th West Yorkshire was formed at York in August 1914 and one year later, on 6th August 1915, landed at Suvla Bay, during the Gallipoli campaign. The battalion, part of the 32nd Brigade of the 11th (Northern) Division, was later evacuated from Gallipoli, along with the rest of the Allied armies.
On 1st July 1916, the day the Battle of the Somme began, the 9th West Yorkshire was disembarking from their ships at Marseilles, the Mediterranean port in the south of France. The battalion, along with the 11th Division, travelled north and on 3rd September 1916, after a period of training entered the Somme battle-zone. The 9th Battalion went into the front line at the Leipzig Salient and was involved in an attack on “Turk Street” which, though successful, resulted in 318 casualties being incurred. The 9th West Yorkshire remained within the battle zone for about six weeks and was involved in further attacks against the enemy defences, incurring heavy casualties.
In June 1917 the 11th Division was in support of the attack on the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge. On the morning of 4th October the Division was involved in the assault on the Broodseinde Ridge, during the Third Battle of Ypres. On 13th November 1917, after suffering heavy losses during the Battle of Ypres, 400 men from the 1/1st Yorkshire Hussars were drafted into the 9th West Yorkshire. At this time the battalion became known as the 9th (Yorkshire Hussars Yeomanry) Battalion.
In 1918, after the German spring offensives had been halted and the Hindenburg Line breached, the Allied armies launched their own offensive. The assault was launched in August and cumulated, three months later, in the Armistice of 11th November.
During the Allied advance Private Albert Ellis Whitaker was admitted to the 30th Casualty Clearing Station at Cambrai. Unfortunately he died on 17th November 1918 and was buried in the Cambrai East Military Cemetery, which was laid out during the German occupation of the town. The seven Commonwealth plots, to the south-east corner of the cemetery, contain 501 Commonwealth graves, of which 28 are unidentified.
Although his parents, Mark Anthony and Ellen Whitaker, now lived at 4, Fife Terrace, Leeds Road, Outwood, Albert Ellis Whitaker was not remembered on the village memorials. He is, however, remembered on the Wrenthorpe Colliery memorial in the grounds of St John’s Church, Wakefield.
Albert Ellis Whitaker was born in 1893, the son of Mark Anthony Whitaker and his wife Ellen, nee Hall. At this time the family home was at Greenhill Road, Eastmoor and his father was employed as a coal miner. The family had previously lived at Sharlston, Tingley and East Ardsley. By 1911 the family was living at Stanley Main Street on Eastmoor Road and his father was employed as night-watchman at the brickworks. Albert Ellis Whitaker was employed as a pony driver, working underground at a local colliery.