|In Memory of
9th Battalion Northumberland Regiment
Who was Killed in Action on Thursday, 24th September 1918
Plot IV Row E Grave 11
Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France
Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, Le Cateau, Nord, France1
Leonard Hoult was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 18922, the second of nine children and eldest son of William (b. 1863, Whitwell, Derbyshire) and Elizabeth Ann, his wife (b. c1865,
Northampton (née Andrews)3. William's father - Leonard's grandfather - Reuben Hoult had moved to Beeston with his family, as a policeman when William was a boy and had eventually
retired there. William had taken a job at the Humber Cycle works and, after marrying Elizabeth Andrews had set up home at 10 Windsor Street, Beeston where they were living in 1901 with William
working as a cycle free wheel maker4. After the Humber Company moved to Coventry in 1908, William found work as a domestic gardener and moved to 28 Chapel Street, Beeston, where he was
living in 1911, now with nine children5. By then, the 18-year-old Leonard was working as a botanical beer bottler, very likely with Dakin Brothers on nearby Moore Gate.
Leonard was not amongst those who enlisted so enthusiastically when war came in August 1914. It seems that the family had become involved with the Salvation Army6 so
this may have influenced his thinking towards pacifism - although that was not the official stance of the Salvation Army itself. However, from 1916 onwards, conscription into the armed forces had
become compulsory for all single men - but soon extended to include married men - when reaching the age of 18, and they would then be eligible to be sent abroad on reaching age 19. As Leonard was
well past that age, it appears that he was eligible as soon as this new regime came into force in 1916 but, in the event and for whatever reason, it appears that he enlisted in February 19177
with the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Although his record states that he was briefly attached to 1st Battalion, it is clear that he was soon posted to 14th Battalion, a Pioneer unit, and appears to have served on the Home front until
the early summer of 19188. This was a time when the German Spring Offensive had made frighteningly strong progress and was threatening Paris and control of the Channel ports. The heavy losses had left the
Army scrambling for reinforcements and many non-combatents were being redeployed to a front-line role. Leonard, now facing this probability, married his sweetheart, May Davis, just before
leaving for France9. After just a few days as man and wife, they were never to see each other again.
Private Hoult joined 9th Battalion Northumberland Regiment in France, at a time when it had been transferred to 183rd Brigade of 61st Division and was reorganising and retraining after its losses
in the Spring Offensive. By August the battalion was beginning to experience frontline action, with some success but also with losses totaling over 200 officers and men. Elsewhere on the front,
Bapaume had been taken and the overall position was looking very favourable and, as seen in retrospect, the Allies were now well into what became known as the Hundred Days Offensive, a period of continual
pressure against the enemy which was eventually to end the First World War. However, there was still much fierce fighting to be done against a weakened but still aggressive enemy. The battalion had
a relatively quite September and early October. By October 23rd however, they were in action near Avesnes-les-Aubert in Northern France as part of the Battle of the Selle. On the first day they took many
prisoners and were able to reach their objectives despite heavy enemy resistance and bad weather conditions. During the next day, the battalion again moved forward but took heavy casualties - over 200 officers
and men - before withdrawing.10. Sadly, Private Hoult was amongst those who were killed on that day. He was buried originally, along with four colleagues, near where he fell but, after the Armistice,
his body was exhumed and reburied in Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension where it now lies11.
Romeries is a village approximately 16 kilometres south of Valenciennes and 4 kilometres north-east of Solemes. Part of the II Corps retired through this area during the Retreat from
Mons in August 1914, and in October 1918, Commonwealth forces returned during the Advance to Victory. Briastre was captured on 10 October 1918, Belle Vue Farm on 20 October, Romeries itself and Beaudignies
on 23 October and Englefontaine on 26 October. The Battle of the Sambre, the last great action of the war, carried the front forward into Belgium and ended with the Armistice. Romeries Communal Cemetery
Extension is one of the burial grounds of those who died between these dates. The original extension is Plot I, made by the 3rd and New Zealand Divisions, and containing 128 graves. The remaining plots
were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated positions on the battlefield, including (in Plot X) a few graves of 25 August 1914, and from small cemeteries, There are now 832
burials and commemorations of the First World War in the extension. 129 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties believed to be buried among them. The extension
was designed by Charles Holden12.
In addition to his entry on the Beeston memorial, Private Hoult is also remembered on the momorials in St Stephen's Church, Hyson Green, Nottingham and the William Both Memorial Hall, Nottingham.
Private Hoult was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal13. His financial effects of £4 13s 11d were paid to his widow, as his sole legatee, on 28 November 1919,
She also received his War Gratuity of £7 10s on 4 December 191914.
It appears that May, his widow, married Arthur Welton Amey in 1926 and they were to live out their lives in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. She died in 1974, aged 79. William, Leonard's father, died in Beeston
in 1935, followed in the next year by Ada, his daughter and Leonard's elder sister. Both are remembered on a surviving urn in Beeston Cemetery which can be seen
1The photograph of Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1892 (Ref 7b 185). He was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 12 October 1892.
3William and Elizabeth married in Northampton Registration District in Q3/1889 (Ref 3b 145)
4Beeston, Notts: 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 144
5Beeston, Notts: 1911 Census, Piece 20429, RD429, SD3, ED4, Sched 179. His siblings were Ada (b. 1889), Lily Sarah (b. c1896), Edith (b. c1898), Reuben (b. c1902), Elizabeth Ann (b. c1903),
Daisy May (b, 1904), William Percy Adolphis (b. 1908) and Harold Bramwell (b. c1909)
6Indication include the choice of 'Bramwell' (the name of William & Catherine Booth's elder child) as a name for their youngest son and, of course, the eventual inclusion of Leonard's name on the
Salvation Army war memorial in Nottingham.
7As his Army Service Record has not survived, the amount of his War Gratuity has been used to calculate the month of enlistment.
8Private Hoult's early attachments to 1st and 14th Battalions are recorded in his entry in the Medal Rolls. An early service number was TR5/5057.
9Their marriage was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1918 (Ref 7b 639).
10This outline of the battalion's deployment in 1918 is based on its War Diary.
11The position and other details of his original burial are recorded on the 'Concentration of Graves - Burial Return' which can be seen on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial page.
12This description of Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension is based on that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
13Details from Leonard's Medal Card and his Medal Roll entry - available on ancestry.com.
14Details from his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 - available on ancestry.com.
15Details of the family in the post-war period are derived from standard genealogical sources, including the 1939 Registration.
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