Date of birth: 1897
Date of death: 25.4.1918
Regiment: Lancashire Fusiliers
Family information: Son of Rayner and Susan Hartley
Service number: 18/20889
In the absence of his service record it is not known when Cyril Hartley joined the army, or whether he was a volunteer or conscript. However Cyril Hartley was initially assigned to the Royal Field Artillery and allocated the service number 165642. Sometime during his army service he was transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers.
At this time Private Cyril Hartley was given service number 18/20889, which would suggest he joined the 18th Battalion. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows him to be with the 3rd Battalion, which never went overseas. Whereas the “Soldiers who died in the Great War” show him attached to the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers.
The 18th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers which formed part of 104th Brigade, 35th Division, landed at Le Havre on 29th January 1916. During July and August 1916 the 18th Battalion was deployed within the Somme battlefield, but later moved north to Arras. In 1917 the 35th Division was involved in the pursuit of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, before moving to Flanders to be deployed at Passchendaele, during the third Battle of Ypres.
On 21st March 1918 the German Army, reinforced by troops from the eastern front, launched a major offensive on the Somme, towards Amiens. The Allied forces were overwhelmed and forced into a series of withdrawals. At this time the 35th Division was ordered south from Ypres and on 24th March became heavily involved in the fighting around Bapaume. The 18th Lancashire Fusiliers fought a series of rearguard actions, from Maricourt to Bray, Morlancourt and on to Buire-sur Ancre. When relieved on the 29th March the 18th Battalion had incurred over 240 casualties.
The depleted 35th Division remained on the Somme, where new drafts joined the units. In April, after a tour defending the Somme Canal near Corbie, the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers had front line tours at Aveluy Wood and Bouzincourt. Here the front line positions were frequently shelled by enemy artillery and casualties were incurred on a daily basis. During the six weeks of almost constant combat after leaving Flanders all the battalions of the 35th Division had incurred heavy casualties.
The 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was based at Dover when war was declared and arrived in France on 20th August 1914. The battalion, attached to 12th Brigade, 4th Division, was involved in most of the battles of the First World War, from the defence of Le Cateau to the third Battle of Ypres. It was after the Battle of Passchendaele, in October 1917, that the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers moved south to the Arras Sector.
The German Army launched “Operation Michael” on 21st March 1918. At this time the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers was in support positions, in the Fampoux Sector, north of the River Scarpe. The Battalion was soon embroiled in the fighting and in the week that followed incurred over 200 casualties.
On 12th April, with the second German offensive threatening to break through to Hazebrouck, the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers moved north, towards the Lys Valley. On 17th April the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers went into the front line at Riez du Vinage. Here the battalion was under constant artillery fire and casualties were incurred daily. On 23rd April the 2nd Battalion was involved in an assault on the enemy lines and though the objective was reached the battalion incurred heavy casualties. On the 25th April the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers was relieved, having incurred over 230 casualties during the tour.
Private Cyril Hartley became a casualty at this time, though it is not known exactly when, or where, he was wounded. He was taken to one of the many hospitals at Etaples where, on the 25th April 1918, he died from his wounds. He was buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery which now contains 10,773 Commonwealth burials from the First World War.
Cyril Hartley was born on 26th September 1897, the son of Rayner and Susan Hartley, formerly Bryan. At this time the family was living at Ledger Lane, Outwood and his father was employed as a brick maker. Cyril was baptised on 20th October 1897 at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. In 1905, shortly after the birth of their daughter Emma, the family moved to Thorpe. At the time of the 1911 census the Hartley family was living at 21, Belmont Terrace, Thorpe. Cyril Hartley, aged 13 years, was working as a brick taker-off at the local brickworks.