Name: Alan Barraclough
Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 28388
Date of Death: 05/01/1918
Regiment/Service: Yorkshire Regiment 12th Bn.
Grave Reference: F. 3. Cemetery: St Leger British Cemetery
Additional Information: son of Mr and Mrs Seth Barraclough, of Scarborough; husband of Emily Mary Barraclough, of 8 Friar’s Entry, Scarborough.
Paul Allen writes:
Following the closing down of the ultimately disappointing ‘show’ at Cambrai (20 November – 7 December 1917), the people of the British Isles had very little to celebrate. With feelings running high due to the disastrous outcome of a battle which had started so well, and in the end had cost over 40,000 casualties for precious little gain, the so called ‘season of goodwill’ had found few well wishers amongst a people totally sickened and fed up with a war that had the appearance of having no end. The bad feelings circulating at this point in the conflict were encapsulated in an article entitled ‘New Year’s Eve in Scarboro’ which appeared in the Scarborough Mercury of Friday, 4 January 1918.
’Since the war broke out a steady lessening has come about in the time honoured custom of letting in the New Year in Scarborough. A similar experience is no doubt the lot of the other places throughout the country. These last two year ends have witnessed an almost total collapse of the pre-war observances. As a year ago, there were no bands last night to enliven the occasion, no carol singers, and indeed but the faintest echo of the scenes that used to be associated with the occasion.
‘By comparison the streets were deserted and there was hardly a trace of that exuberant display of animal spirits which used make Westborough and Newborough like a fair until past midnight…A few stayed out to herald the New Year, just keeping up the continuity with the past ‘till the boys come home’…
Whilst their kinfolk back home in ‘Blighty’ endured their winter of unrest in relative safety and comfort, in France and Belgium for the ordinary Tommies of the severely weakened British Expeditionary Force there had been the usual business of life and death amidst the depravations of trench life on the Western Front. Seven days after the ‘New Years Eve’ article above had appeared in the ‘Mercury’ the newspaper reported the death of yet another local soldier:
‘Ex licence holder killed’
‘The sad news has reached his wife of the death in action of Lance Corporal Alan Barraclough, Yorkshire Regiment, ‘Friar’s House’ Friar’s Entry, who only returned to France from leave as recently as three weeks ago. He formerly held the licence of the Elephant and Castle [located in Cross Street], which his wife continued to hold until recently, and two children are also left. His father, the late Mr. Seth Barraclough, who died a few weeks ago, held the licence of the Dolphin Hotel for some years’…
Born during 1887 in the West Riding of Yorkshire city of Huddersfield, 28388 Lance Corporal Alan Barraclough was the eldest son of Scarborough-born Cecilia, and Seth Barraclough. The Barracloughs arrived in Scarborough at the turn of the century from York where Seth had been employed by the North Eastern Railway Company, as a ‘stationary engine driver’. 
The family initially lived in the town at 44 Albion Street; however, by the following summer, the family was resident at the ‘Fleece Inn’, located at 11 St Thomas Street, for which Seth held the licence until 1911. The following year he moved to the ‘Dolphin Hotel’ a well known, and still (2006) open ‘bottom end’ watering hole, located at the bottom of Eastborough, where the 21-year-old Allan was employed by his father as a ‘barman’.
During 1913 Alan Barraclough married Scarborough-born (1890) Emily Mary Cape, the fourth daughter of Sarah Ann, and the late (died 1 October 1910) Thomas Postill Cape, a one time ‘ship’s painter, and house decorator’. Shortly after their marriage the Barraclough’s first child, Joseph Mickman, was born. At the outbreak of war in August 1914 the family were living at 6 Vine Street. By this time Allan was the licensee of the Elephant and Castle, located in Cross Street. However, during November 1915 he relinquished this position shortly after the birth of his second child, Irene Mary, to enlist into the Yorkshire Regiment at Scarborough’s Court House (in those days located in Castle Road; the site in 2006 is the car park at the top of St Thomas Street).
Shortly after his enlistment Barraclough was sent to the Yorkshire Regimental Depot located in the North Yorkshire market town of Richmond, where he was kitted out in the standard khaki uniform of the period and introduced to the pleasures of drill, physical training and the various other aspects of military routine which was the lot of the ‘shilling a day’ ‘Tommy Atkins’ of the Great War.
After a short period of training at Richmond, Allan was posted to Cannock Chase on Salisbury Plain where he joined the 12th (Service) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. More commonly known as the ‘Teeside Pioneers’, the battalion was raised as a Pioneer Battalion during December 1914 in Middlesborough by the Mayor and Council of the city and, until, August 1916 had undergone specialised training on the outskirts of Middlesborough at Marton Hall, and at Newcastle. However, on 13 August the battalion headed southwards led by its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel H W Becher, and camped on Penkridge Bank, where the unit was employed in the construction of 4 new rifle ranges.
Although given basic infantry training, the men of a pioneer battalion were composed of a mixture of men adept with pick and shovel (such as miners and road workers) and artisans such as smiths, carpenters, joiners bricklayers, masons and tinsmiths, who were primarily responsible for the construction of trench works and other fortifications, in addition to the repair and maintenance of roads. One battalion of pioneers, usually consisting of around 1,000 officers and men, was allocated to each of the 60 or so divisions of infantry of the British Expeditionary Force serving on the Western Front and duly, at the end of September 1916, the Teeside Pioneers left Cannock Chase for Aldershot, where the unit was billeted in Badajos Barracks. Here the battalion was allocated as the Pioneer Battalion to the 40th Division.
Formed between September and December 1915, the 40th Division had originally been designated as a ‘Bantam’ (named after the small, hardy and highly aggressive fighting cock) formation, one of two New Army Divisions (the other being the 35th Division) which were formed following a request to the War Office from Birkenhead’s MP Alfred Bigland. Bigland instigated the formation of a battalion of infantry from under size men (those less than the regulation 5 feet 3 inches), many of whom had previously been rejected as unsuitable for war service. Within days over 3,000 men enlisted to form two battalions of infantry, designated as the 1st and 2nd Birkenhead Battalions, and which were integrated into the Cheshire Regiment. The idea of Bantam infantry mushroomed, and soon other towns throughout Britain began to recruit undersized soldiers, these men being formed into a number of battalions of infantry, which were consequently formed into the two Divisions.
However, by the end of 1916, the quality of the men enlisting into the Bantams waned from the magnificent men who had joined at the outset and, as a consequence, no more Bantams were allowed to join the army, with the 35th and 40th Divisions losing their unique identity. By the time that Barraclough and the remainder of the Teesside Pioneers joined the formation it consisted of a mixture of regular- and bantam-sized soldiers.
Inspected by King George V at Laffan’s Plain on 25 May 1916, shortly afterwards the various units of 40th Division began to make preparations to proceed abroad. Having recently carried out musketry training at Pirbright, on 27 May the Teesside Pioneers received their marching orders, and on 1 June the battalion embarked in the SS France at Southampton, destined for the customary ‘unknown destination’, which was inevitably France and the Western Front.
Shortly after their arrival in France the Teesside Pioneer boarded trains which took them to the town of Rely, where they continued on foot to the nearby town of Fouquieres. Almost straight away the battalion’s ‘W’ and ‘Y’ Companies were detailed for work with the 15th Division, whilst Barraclough’s ‘Z’ Company, commanded by Major Wilkinson, found themselves attached to the 1st Division, where, working under the instructions of the Royal Engineers, the men had been set to work in the front line trenches building shelters, clearing fields of fire and digging fire steps. The had continued with this sort of work throughout the remainder of 1916, and worked in various sectors of the front as a consequence.
By September 1917 the Teesside Pioneers were employed in the repair of roads in the Fins area of northern France. During the middle of the month the battalion was subjected to a heavy gas and high explosives attack, which resulted in the unit losing 18 men. Badly affected by gas fumes during this bombardment, Barraclough had been out of action until the end of November, by which time the 40th Division had taken part in the abortive Cambrai Offensive. The story of the Division’s gallant efforts in the capture of Bourlon Wood has already been told [see ‘Byng’s Bombshell’] and although not so actively involved as the infantry during the affair, the Teesside Pioneers had nonetheless done sterling service during the operation, employed in the wiring of the newly captured enemy positions and the repair of the many shell-torn and vital roads in the area.
Barraclough rejoined his battalion early in December, by which time the unit had moved to the village of St Leger, where the Teesside Pioneers were employed in repairing the road between St Leger-Croisilles, and Fontaine Notre Dame. Winter had set in by this time, and their work was more often than not hampered by severe frosts, followed by a thaw, which in turn was followed by very wet weather. At the beginning of the New Year the Pioneers were repairing the rain-weakened parapet of the front line trenches close to St Leger, where, on Saturday, 5 January 1918, L Cpl Barraclough’s life was snuffed out almost instantly by a single sniper’s bullet.
The only fatality incurred by the Teeside Pioneers during the early part of January 1918, the remains of Alan Barraclough were conveyed to a burial ground near to St Leger which had been used by the various fighting units and Field Ambulances located there at the time. After the war it was named by the then Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission as ‘St Leger British Cemetery’. This Cemetery, located down a track to the north west of the village, now contains the graves of over 150 casualties of the Great War; Alan Barraclough’s grave is located in Grave 3 of Section F.
In addition to the Oliver’s Mount Memorial, as a former member of the congregation of Scarborough’s St Peters Roman Catholic Church, Alan Barraclough’s name was included on the church’s war memorial, a Portland stone, gothic-style crucifix which was originally been set on a 4-sided plinth of Irish limestone, sculpted by a York man named George Walter Milburn (considered one of the greatest sculptors of his era, much of Milburn’s work is to be found in York Minster, he is also responsible for the statues of Queen Victoria in York Art Gallery, William Etty outside the gallery, and that of George Leeman in Station Avenue, York). The St Peter’s memorial contains the names of 31 former members of the church who lost their lives during the First World War. The memorial was unveiled and dedicated by Dr Richard Lacy, the Bishop of Middlesborough, during the morning of Sunday, 26 July 1925.
(At the end of the Second World War the names of another 11 former members of St Peter’s, including one female (ATS Mary Sadler) were added to the memorial. It was built at a cost of £400; however, during 1985, the monument was rebuilt in black marble on its original base, at a cost of £2,400.
Alan’s name can also be found on two gravestones in Scarborough’s Dean Road and Manor Road Cemeteries. The first is located in Dean Road Cemetery (Section G, Row 4, Grave 22), which also commemorates his father, Seth Barraclough, who passed away at the age of 57 at 3 Alma Parade on Friday, 9 November 1917. Commemorated as ‘a flower transplanted’, the stone also bears the name of Alan’s youngest sister, York-born Annie Lake Barraclough, who died, also at 3 Alma Parade, at the age of 19 on 4 October 1920.
This memorial also includes the name of the Barracloughs’ youngest son, Joseph Gregory, also born at York, who passed away at the age of 35 during December 1925. Alan’s mother, Cecilia Barraclough, survived all her family and died ‘peacefully’ at 3 Alma Parade on Friday, 9 January 1948 at the age of 82. She was interred in the grave in Dean Road Cemetery during the morning of Tuesday, 13 January 1948 following a Requiem Mass, which had taken place at St Peters Church prior to the interment.
The second memorial containing Lance Corporal Barraclough’s name is located in the town’s Manor Road Cemetery (Section W, Row 3, Grave 2), and also bears the name of Alan’s only daughter, Irene Mary. Popularly known as ‘Rene’, she was the wife of Joshua Kramer until her death at the age of 25 on Wednesday, 25 July 1941. For many years after her Alan’s death Emily Mary Barraclough lived with her 2 children, Joseph Mickman and ‘Rene’, at 33 Friargate, a house they shared with Emily’s younger sister, Lizzie Pricilla Brackenbury (formerly Cape), who was also been a ‘war widow’. (Lizzie had been the wife of 940/DA Deck Hand Albert Victor Brackenbury, Royal Naval Reserve, who had died whilst serving in HM Trawler ‘Principal’, from the effects of Bronchopneumonia in the Rosyth Naval Hospital, at the age of 24, on 25 November 1918. Albert was subsequently interred in Scarborough’s Dean Road Cemetery; his grave is located in Section E, Row 27, Grave 33).
Lizzie Brackenbury passed away at the age of 69 on Tuesday, 3 April 1962, and was buried in the grave at Manor Road following a service at the Bethel Mission, located at the time in Sandside. Emily Mary had continued to live in the house in Friargate until her death exactly 54 years to the day after that of her beloved husband, on Wednesday, 5 January 1972, at the age of 82. The remains of Emily Barraclough were interred with those of her daughter and sister during the afternoon of Monday, 10 January 1972 following a service at the Bethel Mission in Sandside. The memorial to the devoted husband and wife also contains the inscription: ‘Re-united’.
 During the 1901 Census the Barraclough family resided with Cecilia’s parents, 69-years-old, Irish-born plasterer, Joseph, and Liverpool-born wife Bridget Mickman (aged 60). The family consisted of: Seth Barraclough, aged 60, born York (Long Moor), occupation: ‘Stationary Engine Driver’; Cecilia, 35, born Scarborough; Alan, 13 years, born Huddersfield; Joseph, 8 years. and Annie M, age 1 (both born at York).