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Captain Humphrey Robertson Barkworth, 2nd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, attached to 25th (Service) Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish)

July 3, 2019



Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 1916, Captain Humphrey Robertson Barkworth, 2nd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, attached to 25th (Service) Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish), died of wounds received two days earlier on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Educated at Hazelwood School and Wellington College as well as privately, he later attended the Royal Military College At Sandhurst and was commissioned in March of 1911.  At the outbreak of the Great War, Captain Barkworth’s battalion was at Sabathu in India, and in November of 1914 they sailed for home, arriving three days before Christmas.  In January of 1915 they sailed on SS Astralind for Le Havre.  Captain Barkworth was appointed Machine Gun Officer and received a commendation for what was called his fine work.  He served in the trenches on the canal bank at Ypres;  the condition of the trenches was poor and the temperature was well below freezing and he suffered severe frostbite, being sent home for treatment. 

In May of 1915 Captain Barkworth rejoined his battalion at the front, and a month later was wounded, necessitating another return home to England.  He had been shot in the chest, the bullet traversing across his chest and down his left arm, lodging near his elbow.  In September he was mentioned in despatches and then appointed Adjutant of the 25th Battalion, liked by so much by the men that they nick-named him their “Pup”;  he initiated a fife and drum band, and was known for ensuring that smartness and Esprit de Corps were maintained.

On the 1st of July in 1916, the 25th Battalion advanced from well behind the British lines towards La Boiselle;  they were shielded from the enemy for part of the way, but soon reached an area where they were exposed.  The German machine guns mowed them down, and they were described as having “fell in rows”, most of the battalion being cut down.  Twenty officers and 730 other ranks had started the advance – sixteen officers and 610 other ranks were either killed, wounded or missing by the end of the day.

Captain Barkworth was grievously wounded, but refused medical attention until the wounded around him had been attended to;  he cheered his men on as he was carried away.  Taken to 92nd Field Ambulance, he died two days later, and he lies buried at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery in France. 

Humphrey, from Hyde Park, was 24 years old.




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