Born 19th April 1894 in Audley.
Died 20th or 21st November 1916 at Beaucourt. (France).
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Sites.
Links to the CWGC Casualty Details.
Link to Thiepval Memorial.
Links to the Battle of the Somme CWGC.
Link to Henry's Army Sevice Records.
Link to Remembrance Plaque.
The Plaque was kindly given to me by James Goodwin.
It had hung on his wall for a long time. I thank him dearly.
Mrs Charlotte Lee , his niece, heard her parents talk about
especially her father, Tom, who was his eldest brother. Three brothers went to
volunteer: Tom failed because of his eyesight, while
Bill and Henry went into
the army. They were not allowed to go in the trenches together, as brothers.
Bill went out in daytime and
Henry at night, but he didn't come back and his
body was not found. Tom and Henry
were good friends, going out as a foursome
with their girlfriends. Henry's girlfriend.
Jenny Warrilow never married. The
family was informed of his death by another local soldier, named
heard as he came away on leave that Henry hadn't returned: so the family knew
before they were notified by the War Office.
See notes at foot of page.
A memorial card reads: In affectionate remembrance Pte Henry Austin. 9th N. Staffords, beloved son of Mr and Mrs J H Austin of 15 Mellard St. Wereton. Audley, Staffs. Killed In action somewhere in France Nov 20th or 21st, 1916 aged 23 years ever remembered by brothers and sisters, Weekly Sentinel. 30.12.16 gives the additional information that he worked for the Midland Coal Coke and iron Co. His younger brother, Pte William Austin. North Staffordshire Regt, was on active service. He and his younger brother, William, were scholars at the Primitive Methodist Sunday School, Audley.
This following information is taken from the war diaries of the 9th Bttn North Staffordshire Regiment (Pioneers) and is for the month of November 1916 in which Henry was killed, and shows the movements and work Henry was doing up to and including the day he died.This information was kindly supplied by the Staffordshire Regiment Museum with a special mention to Jeff Elson for his help in transcribing some words and providing some very useful information.
It should also be noted that the same diaries apply to William, his brother.
|Beauval||1/11||The Battalion was now together in Billets at BEAUVAL. Companies
paraded from 9 9.45 for physical training and from 10 hrs to 12 noon.
Platoon and Company drill
From 2.30 4pm for short marches. O. C. inspected the newly arrived draft of 50 O. R. during the morning.
|2/11||Companies paraded as above. New draft paraded separately under the adjutant.O. C. went to DHQ at Marieux and was given an interview by the G.O.C. 9th Division Lt Col JS Stewart. 6th B A S High joined the Batt on the 30th October from England.|
|3/11||Companies paraded as above.|
|4/11||-----Do ---------------Do ----------O.C. inspected Corp with the kits laid out during the morning. L Col JS Stewart proceeded to join 22nd Labour Batt at MERICOURT. Capt J A T Langdon appointed adjutant from 14th October 1916 .Vice Capt L Milville 2nd Lt [?] proceeded to HEDAUVILLE for duty under Town Major.|
|5/11||Parades suspended. Battalion paraded for overdue service at 9.30 am.|
|6/11||Companies paraded during the morning for physical training from 9 9.45 and bayonet fighting and company drill 10 12 noon. In the afternoon [a football match was played] (line drawn through). Short marches between 2.30 and 4 pm.|
|7/11||Companies paraded as on the 6th.|
|8/11||Under instructions from 37th Division C and D coy proceeded at 8 am by motor bus to ARCHEUX and VARENNES. C and ½ D to ARCHEUX and ½ D to VARENNES. Under instruction from 37th division HQ. A and B coy and transport marched at 1.30 pm to GEZAENCOURT (Distance 2 miles).|
|9/11||Companies spent the morning cleaning arms accoutrements and getting billets in order In the afternoon a football match was played against a RAWE team.|
|10/11||Under instructions from 37th Division HQ A and B coy left GEZAINCOURT at 8.30 am. by motor bus. Arrived at 11.30 am and received instructions from CRE 63rd Division to send company on to bivouac on ENGELBELMER MARTINSART road.B coy went on to this point under Major Mc Kenna. HQ and A coy went into bivouac just W of HEDAUVILLE Transport and Lewis gun carts followed by road and arrived about 4pm.|
|11/11||The Battalion was now distributed as follows. HQ, A coy and transport in bivouac W of HEDAUVILLE.|
|B coy in bivouac on the ENGELBELMER MARTINSART road.|
|C coy and ½ D coy in billets in ACHEUX.|
|D coy in billets in VARENNES.|
|Work as follows. A coy on horse troughs and horse standings B coy on watering troughs for horses. C and D coy on roads X day for operations. Big bombardment of enemy lines commenced around BEAUMONT HAMMEL.|
|12/11||Y day for operations Bombardment continued orders received personally from CE 5th Coy at corps H.Q. ARCHEUX for A and B coy to discontinue work on horse troughs and lines and to be held in readiness to go forward to work on the AUCHONVILLERS HAMMEL road if the advance was successful. Increase in establishment of corporals in the battalion by 2 per company and decrease of 2 lance corporals ordered by army council instructions No 1900/d of 22 /1/16.|
|13/11||Z day for operations Heavy bombardment of the night of 12/13 increasing in strength about 5 am, soon after which hour an attack was launched North and South of the ANCRE RIVER. Vth corps to the north II nd corps to the south. The attack carried out in a heavy mist, was very successful the villages of BEAUMONT HAMEL and BEAUCORT being taken and nearly 3000 prisoners the Battalion was placed under the orders of the CE 5th corps. C and D coy continued work on the VARENNES LEALVILLERS road. A coy paraded at 1.45 am and marched to AUCHONVILLERSvia VITERMONT and B coy paraded at 2.30 pm and marched by same route both corp meeting at VITEMONT about 3.00 pm. 4 General Service wagons were sent up by the Battn loaded 6 wooden bridges and some stone and carried them forward to the AUCHONVILLERS HAMEL road. O. C. accompanied by adjutant rode to VITERMONT and met the Coys there and also the O if roads 5th Corps. The corps placed the bridges in position and worked on the road through the night. A coy returning to camp at 2.00am.|
|14/11||C and D coy at work on VARENNES LEALVILLERS road.|
|B coy at work on AUCHONVILLERS road.|
|A corp under instructions from CE 5th corp paraded at 4pm and marched forward to bivouac on the ENGELBELMER-MARTINSART road so as to be near their work.Attack by the two corps continued during the day. O. C. accompanied by Adjutant: inspected work being done by C and D coy and found road progressing satisfactorily.|
|15/11||Congratulatory order received from the 5th Army Commander thanking all ranks for the splendid successes gained in the taking of St PIERRE DIVION. BEAUCORT and BEAUMONT HAMEL. Weather extremely cold, wind NE, frost at night.|
|16/11||Orders received for HQ and C and D coy to move forward to MESNIL HQ and transport marched under the CO at 2.30pm, and C and D coy followed under corp Comdr from ARCHEUX and VARENNES and on arrival were accommodated in cellars and ruined houses. Orders received personally by C.O. from 2 Div HQ during the morning for the Battalion to cease work under 5th corps and return to work under 37 Division. Weather extremely cold, hard frost at night.|
|17/11||Work allocated as follows.|
|C and D coy on reconstruction and improvement of HAMEL BEAUCOURT road.|
|A Coy Reclamation of track in continuation of that prepared by 63rd Div passing through our old and the service old first line trenches for use by artillery.|
|B coy clearing and repair of BEAUMONT HAMEL Station road.|
|C.O. went out and inspected the track to be made by A coy and the work being done by C coy during the morning. C.R.E. visited Batt HQ midday and discussed matters concerning the work to be done.|
|18/11||The general attack was continued this day starting at 6.30am.|
|B coy at work on Divisional track.|
|C coy at work on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road.|
|A and D coy resting after working at night on Divisional track. A corp went out by night to work on divisional track and D coy by night on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road. Weather changed during the night when a slight fall of snow took place.|
|In the morning it turned dull and rainy. The village of MENSIL was heavily shelled at intervals from 5pm on the evening of the 17th to 4am on the morning of the 18th. No casualties, one horse (Charger of O.C. C Coy) killed. Orderly room, Officers mess HQ, and Regiments mess all Hit by shells, all took shelter in cellars. Lieut Taylor rejoined the Battalion from employment on Roads officer Div H.Q.|
|19/11||B Coy at work on Divl track during the day. A coy during the afternoon.|
|C Coy and D Coy at work on the HAMEL BEAUCOURT road in the afternoon.|
|Orders received at 5.45 pm to send a company to wire the BOIS D HOLLANDE and southwards from the wood to the river. D Coy was ordered to suspend work on road and go forward to do this wiring. Good deal of delay caused by collecting material and getting forward also the bad road through BEAUCOURT. Finally reached ground and commenced work at 12 midnight. A carrying party of 80 men of C Coy were also sent forward with 40 pack mules carrying material. This party also carried our wiring about 300 yards of wire was put up and the coys reached MENSIL between 5.30 and 6am.|
|Capt Clarke D coy N.C.O. and 2 Pts D Coy wounded.|
|20/11||A Coy at work on Divl track (1/2 Coy) and HAMEL BEAUCOURT road (1/2 Coy).|
|B ditto ditto HAMEL BEAUCOURT road by day.|
|Two parties of 30 O.R. Coy under Lt Nash 20 O.R D Coy under Lt Johnson went out again at night to continue wiring of 130 yds at HOLLANDE. Work completed except a gap of 30 yards. Lt Johnson wounded. 3 Pts C Coy killed. (HENRY). * See below.|
|5 Pts D Coy wounded at duty.|
|O.C. inspected Divl track and work on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road during the day.|
|21/11||A Coy at work on Divl track ( ½Coy) and HAMEL BEAUCOURT road ( ½ Coy).|
|C Coy ditto ditto HAMEL BEAUCOURT road by day.|
|D Coy (less a wiring party of 15 O.R. under Lt Nash who went out at night to finish the wire at BOIS D HOLLANDE) on HAMEL BEAUCOURT by day.|
|B Coy went to work on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road during the morning At midday orders were received to commence wiring BEAUCOURT TRENCH. (part of our front line).and this Coy was ordered to suspend work and move up to BEAUCOURT TRENCH in the evening. Pack mules and a carrying party were provided and 200 yards of wire was put up, Coy continued to bivouacs at 5am having been out 22 hours.|
|A good deal of shell fire found 40 casualties. O.C. accompanied by Lt Huyton. Went up to BEAUCOURT TRENCH and made arrangements with O.C. 6th Bedfords holding the line to have the wiring party covered by their advanced posts draft off 6 joined the Battn.|
|22/11||A Coy worked on wiring BEAUCOURT TRENCH by night. 350 yards wire put up. Heavy shelling but no casualties.|
|B Coy resting after previous days hard work.|
|C and D coy working on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road, the later providing ½ Coy on the divisional track. Other parties for loading and unloading material provided.|
|O.C. accompanied by adjutant inspected divisional track and HAMEL BEAUCOURT road.|
|23/11||A Coy worked on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road from 3pm.|
|B do two platoons, On div track 2 platoons.|
|C do from 7am.|
|D Coy started out to continue wiring BEAUCOURT TRENCH at 4pm but after reaching HAMEL information was received from 63 rd Bde that carrying parties working parties were suspended owing to active operations, the Coy returned to MESNIL when orders were received from B H.Q. that it should go on wiring from 3am on the 24th. If there - five marched again at 1 am and wired 150 yards of trench returning to MESNIL about 7.30am. O.C. inspected work on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road during the afternoon.|
|24/11||A Coy work on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road from 3pm.|
|B Coy ditto Divl track (2 platoons) on HAMEL BEAUCOURT road (2 platoons) from 7 am.|
|C Coy wiring of BEAUCOURT TRENCH at night. Carrying party during day.|
|D Coy wiring after long night. Casualties 1 Pte C Coy killed 1 corpl C Coy wounded 1 Pte C Coy wounded.|
|Weather dull and inclined to rain. (Henry died on this date or most probably 20th Nov). * See below.|
|25/11||A Coy at work on STATION ALLEY at night.|
|B Coy ditto wiring BEAUCOURT TRENCH.|
|C Coy resting. D corp at work on BEAUCOURT road and supplying loading unloading parties.|
|B Coy 2 Ptes killed. [?] . Heavy rain all day and night work carried out with great difficulty. Orders received for Battn to remain attached to 7th division when 37th division moved out of the lines won 26th to 29th [?] inclusive.|
|26/11||Orders received for HQ C and D Coy to move from MESNIL this day to huts at MAILLY wood HQ and Coy and transport from MARTINSART marched at 11am and arrived at MAILLY at 1pm. No huts in woods available but moved into camp about ½ mile W of MAILLY WOOD. Weather improved during the day and rain ceased. CRE 7th Division visited the camp during the afternoon and discussed work to be carried out. 2 Pte B Coy killed on 25th 1 Pte B Coy wounded on 25th.|
|27/11||Battalion was now distributed as follows.|
|HQ.C and D Coy in camp W of MAILLY WOOD.|
|A and B Coy in tents and bivouac east side of the ENGLLEBELSHER MARTINSART road.|
|C and D corp at work during the day on STATION ALLEY and branch communication trench from source to front line.|
|A and B corp resting after night work. Weather very cold first at night. 2nd Lt Gracie 16 Battn Bombers rejoined the Battn on the 26th.|
|28/11||A and B corp at work during the day on STATION ALLEY and branch CT. 50 O/R of each of C and D corp at work on STATION ROAD up to midday then on trenches as above. Leave was reopened from this date. 4pm Battry 2nd Lt Gregory B Coy wounded.|
|29/11||All companies at work on STATION ALLEY and branch C.T. also supplying carrying parties and loading parties for trench loads and pickets. Thick mist and the temperature above freezing point. O.C. visited and inspected all work being done on trenches during the day. 2nd Lt Way D Coy wounded. 1 NCO 3 Pte D Coy wounded.|
|30/11||All companies at work as above.|
Battalion worked by companys (Coys) usually 140 officers and men.
Corps this is a large army unit 36,000 officers and men.
Adjutant he is the admin officer responsible to the CO for orders etc.
A trench map showing the Beaucourt Trench.
Trench map kindly supplied by
Croonaert Research Services
Two dates are given for Henry's death - the war graves commision gives November
24th but the memorial card reads 20th - 21st November. Here are some notes and
thoughts to try and clarify the true date.
If Henry died on the 24th November he seems to have died wiring the Beaucourt
trench above. If he died on the 20th November which I favour he seems to have
died wiring 130 yards of Hollande. I have no trench map for Bois d'Hollande but
Bois d'Hollande is a small wood about 900 yards ENE of Beaucourt on the north
bank of the Ancre, to the north of the D50 Beaucourt to Miraumont road.
The Royal Naval Division fought over this ground in early 1917.
Further information:- Concerning the night of the 20th November 1916 and the death of Henry Austin, David Amos and an unknown soldier (possibly Arthur L Burrows).
A Mr Gerald Amos contacted me having seen my web site to supply the following story which was passed down the family by David Amos's grandson George Amos.
Talking to a man who was there, years later. my Grandfather went out on a night patrol under continuous shell fire, a trench was approached, it did not appear to be occupied, 3 volunteers were asked to go and check, no one volunteered, so the first 3 men whose surname began with A were told to go, my Grandfather was one of the 3, as the men were approaching the trench, a shell exploded by them and killed all three.
See war diary entry for November 20-21 and November 24 above.
Since receiving this information Myself and Gerald Amos have done further research but the nights of November 20th - 21st and November 24th still contain confusion.
(I am amazed that such detailed records were kept in such awful conditions) but after checking as many records as possible and Gerald spending time at Litchfield barracks and the Staffordshire regiment museum with the curator.
This is the outcome that we believe.
Looking at the war diaries for 24th November only one private died that night and private Alfred Green 12337 is listed as dying on this date.
This then puts Henry dying on the 20th November and making the fact that : The family was informed of his death by another local soldier, named Beckett. who heard as he came away on leave that Henry hadn't returned: so the family knew before they were notified by the War Office.
The third part of the evidence ( another soldier with the surname A ) who died on the same night cannot be found.
Perhaps a still more convincing argument for the death being on the night of November 20-21st 1916 is the fact that his brother Bill (William Austin) was in the same Regiment in the same place and surely he would have known the details of his brothers death, and perhaps it was Bill who asked the soldier named Becket who went home on leave to visit his parents and give them the sad news of his brother.
I offer my thanks to Gerald for his research.
One final thought must go to Bill who had lost his brother and still had to carry on with all the emotions of this event plus the brutality of the war.
I travelled to France in March 2015 and placed a cross in memory of Henry Austin on a tree in Bois D Hollande next to a cross to David Amos, I also found a cross to Arthur Burrows who also died near this spot on 23rd November 1916.
A final thought is that Geralds story
related above is correct but most probably there were not three soldiers
with a surname begining with A so perhaps the next man in alphabetical
order would have been Arthur L Burrows.
This ties things together although the war diaries for November 20th states (3 Pts C Coy killed) but Arthur Leslie Burrows was a Corpral.