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WW1 Casualty: Company Serjeant Major 240010 Herbert Louis Boyer -

Company Serjeant Major 240010 Herbert Louis Boyer

(c) Prescot Reporter, courtesy of Kathy Donaldson

Unit/Regiment 11th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death 29/03/1918 Age at Death 40
& Reference
Pozieres Memorial
Panels 48 & 49
CWGC Family Details (if shown) Husband of Sarah Boyer, of 19 New Cross Street, Prescot

Birth registered Q3 1877, West Derby. 8b, 575.
Marriage registered Q3 1899, Prescot, 8b, 1279, to Sarah Pendleton .
Census Details 1901 Census -

Living at 19 New Cross Street, Prescot, were Herbert, a 23 year old joiner, his wife Sarah, aged 23, and their 9 month old daughter Elizabeth.

1911 Census –
The Boyer family lived at 3, Ward Street, Prescot. Herbert, a 33 year old Journeyman Joiner, had been married to Sarah, 33, for 11 years. 6 of their 7 children were still living. Elizabeth (10), Ada (9), Harry (7), Hilda (5), Annie (4) and Sarah (3) all lived with their parents.

Their remaining son, also called Herbert Louis Boyer, died at the age of 7 months in the spring of 1910
SDGW – Where Born West Derby, Lancs
Enlisted Prescot
How Died Killed In Action Theatre of War France & Flanders
Research Ref. No. P021

Service Details

Born in 1877, Herbert was the son of John and Ellen Boyer.

Herbert Louis Boyer had originally served with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment, enlisting on 2nd February 1899. He signed for four years and his record shows that he re-engaged in 1908, 1909 and 1913.

Herbert married Sarah Pendleton at Prescot St Mary's on 7th September 1899.

He attested into the Territorial Service as Private 115 in the 5th Battalion Prince of Wales Volunteers (the South Lancashire Regiment) in Prescot on 9th April 1908. At the time, he lived at 3, Ward Street, Prescot, was aged 30 years and 6 months, and worked as a Joiner for 'Gilbert Halsall' of Prescot. He stood 5 foot 6 inches in height, weighed 144 pounds and had a 35 inch chest measurement, expandable by 2 inches.

Herbert's entry in the 1914 Electoral Roll for Prescot

At the outbreak of war in on 4th August 1914, he was ranked as Sergeant and posted to the 5th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment. Then on 30th October 1914 he was appointed Acting Colour Sergeant, then on 29th January 1915 he was promoted to Company Sergeant Major.

The 5th Battalion had just started its annual training in camp when war broke out in August 1914. It was sent to Edinburgh until October, then moved to Tunbridge Wells until February 1915. It was then ordered to France, sailing on the 13th aboard s.s. King Edward, arriving at Le Havre the same day

Over the next few days the battalion marched to billets at Le Bizet, and then undertook instruction in trench warfare. The system was for companies from a battalion to be attached to other battalions for spells in the line, before the sector was allocated to the battalion on its own. In addition to the trench duty, the battalion undertook its share of pioneer work and training in rapid fire.

The Battalion was moved around regularly without seeing action, until 28th April when it was moved to Vlamertinghe, Belgium in readiness to take part in the 1st Battle of Ypres, which had started on the 22nd.

On 2nd May, the Germans launched a violent attack, accompanied by a cloud of chlorine gas, and the battalion was moved into the line for the first time. On 3rd May, it was moved to the new line in front of Wieltje, and then on the 4th it was again moved to Shell Trap Farm. At dawn, they engaged the Germans but by 4pm the enemy was within 400 yards of the British lines, from where they began a heavy bombardment of the British lines.

More shell fire continued through the next day, culminating in heavy concentrated fire about 5 p.m. which resulted in a considerable number of men being buried, many of them killed and wounded. The enemy fire continued until midnight and four attempts were made by the Germans to take the farm, but all were repulsed.

On 8th May 1915 CSM Boyer received a Gun Shot Wound to the buttock and was quickly moved through the chain of treatment centres; 10 Field Ambulance on the day of injury, 2 Casualty Clearing Station, 7 Ambulance Train and No 9 General Hospital the next day, then shipped to England for hospital treatment on the 10th.

The Parish Magazine reported Sgt. Boyer's time in hospital on 26th May 1915

Details from Boyer's Service Record, showing his treatment in 1915

Some months after his wounding, the Manchester Evening News included Herbert Boyer's name in a list of wounded men from April and May

After treatment and convalescence, he embarked at Folkstone for France on 11th June 1917, arriving in Bolougne the same day. He then joined and was posted to the 1st/4th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment at Rouen on 13th June, and was then transferred to the 11th Battalion on 25th January 1918.

Early in the New Year of 1918, the 11th Battalion had battalion moved south to the Oise River, where they had a peaceful time, without any casualties, until the beginning of March. They then moved to the Savy-Roupy sector of France. They were now directly in the path of the great German spring offensive of 1918!

On the morning of the 21st March, a furious bombardment broke out all along the front, marking the onset of the German advance. The battalion was ordered to withdraw at 3 p.m., having incurred heavy casualties, and they moved to a location just north of Ham. The next few days were difficult, with the battalion in a constant fight against the German offensive, most of it a rearguard action.

By the 26th, they were occupying a line between Rouvroy and le Quesnel. The 27th was another day of confused fighting, resulting in yet another withdrawal , to a location west of Folies. At daybreak on the 28th, the enemy starting shelling the positions and once again the battalion had to form a defensive flank to prevent the lines from being overrun by the assaulting German forces. Eventually, the battalion extricated itself and marched to Rouvrel, where it entrained for Valery-sur-Somme.

The battalion overall was heavily reduced in numbers as a result of the German attack. The casualties were 3 officers and 28 other ranks killed, 8 officers and 169 other ranks wounded and 210 other ranks missing. The week's fighting had reduced the battalion to 50% of its original strength.

CSM Boyer was one of those killed in the last day of fighting. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial

The Parish Magazine of 29th May 1918 recorded his death as follows: 'Sergeant-Major Herbert Louis Boyer, 40. He went out with 5th S. Lancs. In February 1915 and transferred to 11th S. Lancs. Fell in action on Good Friday 29th March 1918, of 3 Ward Street. He leaves a widow and 6 children.'

His records show that his next of kin was his wife Sarah of 3, Ward Street, Prescot, and that he also had two daughters, Elizabeth and Ada Audrey. His other children are not listed.

His widow wrote to the Army Records Office in 1921 stating,
'Received the medal which I am very grateful to you for sending it. I am only sorry that my husband has not lived to wear it. He would have been so proud of it. Can you tell me if I am entitled to a plaque. I have heard of several receiving one. I am sorry I have not acknowledged the receipt but I have not been well. Believe me you remain yours respectfully. Mrs. H Boyer'.

By way of reply, she received a request from the Army Records Office for her husband's service number and regimental details, and she replied on 27th April 1921 to say that his original number was 115 before being renumbered to 240010 and that his rank was Company Sergeant Major.

His medal entitlement, as confirmed by his Medal Index Card (below, a poor quality scan), was to the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal, the 1914-1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Sergeant Boyer's Medal Index Card is a poor quality scan. In addition to his medal entitlement, it shows his original and revised service numbers, and also confirms that he was killed in action on 29th March 1918

Herbert Boyer's inscription on the Pozieres Memorial

The Register of Soldiers Effects listed Herbert's wife, Sarah, as net of kin

Herbert is remembered with an inscription on the family grave at Prescot (Courtesy of Ted Forsyth)

Brother of Private G/64097 William Richard Lewis Boyer who is commemorated on St Helens Rolls of Honour.

In the 1939 National Register (below), Sarah and her daughter Annie were still living at 3, Ward Street, Prescot. Annie's surname is crossed out and her married surname written in. She married Alan Rutland in the summer of 1942 in Prescot.

Sarah Boyer died in Prescot in 1956, aged 78

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