2nd LT. H. M. MARSDEN.  W.RID.R.


Humphrey Miller Marsden was born in Lostock Hall on 9 August 1893, and baptised at Leyland St Andrew’s on 24 September that year.  His father was Thomas Marsden (b. 1866 in Leyland), an insurance agent.  His mother was Annie Miller (b. 1868 in Ulnes Walton).  Thomas and Annie were married in Leyland in 1890 and they had five children – Humphrey and four girls: Elizabeth (b. 1890), Annie (b. 1897), Maggie (b. 1899), and Alice (b. 1902).  They moved from Leyland to Lostock Hall just before Humphrey was born.  Thomas died in 1905, aged just 38, and in 1911 Annie was running a grocer’s shop at 6 Albert Terrace.  Humphrey was a bank clerk and his 3 younger sisters were all still at school.  Perhaps to make it easier for the family, Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, had moved back to Leyland to live with her grandmother and was working as a weaver in a cotton mill.

Humphrey enlisted with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, probably in 1915 or 1916.  He was first assigned service number 4769 but when the new numbers were issued in 1917, he was assigned no. 201954.  He landed in France with the L.N.LAN.R. on 8 February 1917.  This is the date that the 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division landed so Humphrey must have been with 2/4 or 2/5 Battalion in 170th Brigade.  57thDivision was engaged in the defence of Armentières in the early part of the year but in October they moved to the Ypres salient and from 26 October to 7 November they fought in the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

ww1 humphrey marsden.jpg

At some stage in 1917, Humphrey was sent for officer training and he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on 29 January 1918 and then posted to 1/7Bn of the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).  1/7Bn came under orders of 147th Brigade in 49th (West Riding) Division.  The Division took part in various phases of the Battles of the Lys (9-29 April 1918).  This was the third German offensive of 1918, Operation Georgette, which took place in Flanders with the objective of capturing key railway and supply roads and cutting off the British Second Army at Ypres. After initial successes the German attack was once again held after British and French reserves were somehow found and deployed.


The War Diary for 1/7Bn indicates that they spent most of September 1918 in training or at rest at Roclincourt then Feuchy (about 5 miles north and east of Arras).  They moved from Feuchy to Buissy on 7 October, then to Sailly and finally Escaudoeuvres (near Cambrai) where they arrived at 11 o’clock at night on 10 October, and were ordered to prepare to attack.  At zero hour, 9am, the next morning, they attacked and advanced about 1000 yards.  The enemy counter-attacked at noon and forced the Bn to retreat 500 yards, but during the night, the enemy withdrew from their positions and the Bn was able to advance once more and by 13 October they had secured a position at Saulzoir, east of La Selle River.  The War Diary lists three officers killed in this operation, but Humphrey Marsden is not among them.  In fact, the three officers named are all seconded from the West Yorkshire Regiment who provided other Battalions for the same Brigade as 1/7Bn.  So some fluidity appears to have occurred between Battalions in the same Brigade.  Humphrey was a casualty in this operation.  He was killed on 11 October, aged 25.


Rank:  Second Lieutenant

Date of Death:  11/10/1918

Age:  25

Regiment/Service:  Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), "A" Coy. 7th Bn.

Grave Reference:  III. E. 1/8.


Additional Information:  Son of Anne Marsden, of Church Villa, Croston Road, Farington, Lancs, and the late Thomas Marsden.