Leeds Rifles 7th and 8th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment
Above can be found a link to the Leeds Rifles War Memorial in Leeds Parish Church remembering those from the Sergeants mess.
This section is dedicated to the 2050 men who gave their lives fighting with the City of Leeds volunteer force the 7th and 8th Battalion's of the West Yorkshire Regiment known as the Leeds Rifles.
Formed in 1859 to meet the threat of a French invasion it was served by local men many who worked at Tetleys Brewery which sponsored the Rifles for many years, having their baracks near Leeds Town Hall. In 1887 The Rifles moved to Carlton Barracks where they are still based today.The Rifles served in the Boer War 1900-1902, and in 1908 became a territorial force forming the two battalions the 7th and 8th West Yorkshire Regiment.
On the 3rd August 1914 the battalions were called back to Leeds from their summer camp being held on Scarborough racecourse, so many men wished to enlist that the battalions were split to accommodate the numbers. Becoming the 1/7th 2/7th and 1/8th 2/8th battalions.
The 1/7th battalion were under the command of Colonel Albert Edward Kirk and moved to Selby on 10th August 2014 carrying out training for the remainder of the year and into early 1915 at Strensall in York. After a short time on the Lincolnshire coast the battalion moved to Gainsborough for six days before landing in Boulogne France on the morning of the 16th April 1915. The battalion were based at Merville, Estaires and Bac St Maur until the 5th May 1915 when they moved to trenches at Fauquissart. First seeing action 4 days later on the Attack of Aubers Ridge. Moving to Turco Farm Pilkem Belgium in July spending six months in Belgium at various locations. 1st July 1916 the Battalion took part in the Somme offensive supporting the Ulster Division at Thiepval Wood. It was here that Corporal George Saunders won his Victoria Cross leading a party of 40 men who had got detached from the rest of the battalion in German Trenches.
The rest of 1916 was spent in the Somme region at Thiepval and Fonquevillers. Early 1917 the Battalion trained Portuguese troops and moved to Nieuport Belgium in July of that year being involved in a mustard gas attack. on the 9th October 1917 took part in the fighting at Passchendaele losing 244 men over this period. Moving to Broodseinde Ridge near Ypres in November over four days the battalion lost 60 men due to heavy German shelling. April 1918 moved to Kemmell fighting at Messines Ridge and Potijze and Zillebeke. In October they took part in fighting at Naves near Arras France. The battalions final action of the war took place at Famars and they returned to Leeds on the 25th June 1919 marching from Carlton Barracks to Leeds Town Hall for a civic reception.
The 2/7th battalion landed in France 3rd January 1917 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel F.S Jackson and in February went to the trenches at Beumont Hamel. In March they spent time at Bullecourt. On the 14th May 1917 the battalion suffered heavy casualty's at the crucifix Bullecourt it was reported that only 12 men returned from a unit the rest being killed. 20th November 1917 took part in the attack at Cambrai, and two days later were sent to Bourlon Wood. In March 1918 the Germans made their last offensive of the war and the battalion were at Arlaux. They moved on the 24th March to Bucquoy and the battalion was disbanded.
The 1/8th battalion mirrored the 7th battalion in the early part of the war carrying out the same training in England and landing alongside the 7th in April 1915, under the commands of Major J W Alexander. Spending time at Turco Farm near Pilkem. on 1st July 1916 the 8th Battalion supported the Ulster Regiment on the Somme they were not called into action that day but still suffered 200 casualty's .
The battalion also suffered casualties from Mustard Gas at Nieuport on the 20th July 1917. They saw heavy fighting at Passeandaele on October 9th 1917 losing their commander Lieutenant Colonel Robert Arthur Hudson Aged 37. Robert was from Headingley his parents residing in Fra Headingley he was married to Mary Veer Senior who resided in Headingley at the time of his death. his body was never found and he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial Belgium.
In February 1918 the 1/8th and 2/8th Battalions were joined together and they took part in fighting at Bucqouy in March 1918. Again the Battalion lost its commander this time Lieutenant Colonel Jones, it was reported that he was killed by a sniper. The battalion were moved to the Marne rgion of France and it was here on the evening of the 27th July 1918 that they earned the Croix De Guerre Avec Palm the highest class of that order from the French for capturing the town of Montaigne De Bligny. The battalion spent time in Mory and in September took part in the attack at Havrincourt Wood. 27th September saw heaving casualties at the Canal Du Nord near Marcoing. October 20th 1918 they took part in battle River Selle at Solesmes. The battalion went to Germany as part of the peace keeping operation after the war returning to Leeds on 16th May 1919, where they marched from the railway station to the Town hall.
The 2/8th Battalion went to France in January 1917 seeing action at Beaumont Hamel and the first battle of Cambrai before being amalgamated with the 1/8th Battalion.