48748 Private Fred Mosby,
1/5th Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment
On the day Fred Mosby was killed, 25th April 1918, his battalion was in the line at Grande Bois, a little north of the village of Wytschaete, known to the ordinary British soldier as 'Whitesheets'. The enemy opened up a barrage of gas shells at 2:45 am, with a few high explosive shells combined on the battalion's front positions. The bombardment lasted over an hour, but as the men were in cover and well protected against the gas, all companies reported that all was well.
A second barrage was opened at 5:00 am, but with a higher concentration of high explosive than the previous barrage, which cut telephone wires and prevented Battalion HQ from communicating with the companies, and with Brigade HQ. SOS signal flares were fired, as the battalion steeled itself for an expected attack, which began before 6:00 am across the brigade front. Initially, the German attack was beaten off, but a message was received from a neighbouring battalion which said it fighting a rear-guard action as it withdrew from the position it had held, but was now untenable.
The enemy had broken through and were now advancing down the valley, outflanking Fred Mosby's battalion to their right. Battalion HQ withdrew to avoid being surrounded. It was the beginning of a day of desperate fighting, and constant rearward movement of the command elements of the battalions involved.
By the end of the day, 1/5th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment had suffered the loss of 18 officers and 548 other ranks, killed, wounded, and missing. Among them was Fred Mosby.
He was posted missing and an announcement to that effect appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper on 18th September 1918. He stayed 'missing' until 19th January 1927, when his remains were recovered from the forward (eastern) side of the road that runs north-west out of Wytschaete, in front of the southern Brickstack and hospice. His body was identified by marks in his uniform clothing.
His remains were concentrated for a proper burial to Sanctuary Wood Cemetery. In the time between the end of the war, and Fred Mosby's remains being found, the Imperial War Graves Commission had built the Tyne Cot Memorial to commemorate those British and New Zealand soldiers who had died in the Ypres Salient from 17th August onwards. Because, at that time, Fred Mosby was still 'missing', his name was engraved on the appropriate panel of the memorial. Despite his remains having been found, his name still appears on the memorial, although the casualty database and other records show that his commemoration was moved to Sanctuary Wood Cemetery in 1927.
Also buried in this cemetery is Lt Gilbert Talbot of the Rifle Brigade whose body was recovered by his brother, the Reverend Neville Talbot who along with Reverend Philip (Tubby) Clayton opened a soldiers’ rest house in Poperinge in 1915 and named it in memory of Gilbert Talbot. Thus Talbot House was begun, and as a consequence the Toc H organisation was founded.
There is also a solitary German grave in the cemetery, that of Fliegerhauptmann Hans Roser who was an observer in a German aircraft, the third shot down by Captain (later Major) Lanoe Hawker RE in a single action. For this triple victory, Captain Hawker was awarded the Victoria Cross.