1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medal, 17333 Pte Norman Bennett, 8th Bn Yorkshire Light Infantry, Killed in Action 1st Day of the Somme, 1st July 1916. Born in City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Officially impressed: “1733 Pte N. Bennett. York. L.I.”
With original 1914-15 Star issue slip.
“I am sorry to say we have lost a lot of brave officers and men (Heroes every one). We are over the tops of the trenches first and attacked the Germans, but before we could get to close quarters many of our lads went down, some never to rise again…
…It was terrible, but glorious. All through the war I have never seen such magnificent bravery. You will have noticed that our casualties were heavy, but they were nothing compared with the German losses.” – Private Arthur Garfitt, 8th Bn KOYLI writes home to Sheffield shortly after the battle.
Norman Bennett, was born on 27th March 1895, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America on 27th March 1895. Birth registered in Philadelphia City Ward 38, which was by the neighbourhood of East Falls and Allegheny West in the North of the City of Philadelphia.
He was born to Joseph and Clara Ellen Bennett, both original from Yorkshire who but were living in Philadelphia at the time.
He was baptised by Reverend Leighton Hoskins on 12th September 1895 in the local historic Church of St James the Less.
His father was Woolsorter and Woollen Cloth Warehouseman, it seems he had come to Philadelphia specifically as they, like Yorkshire, had a large Wool Yarn industry, particularly in Germantown, which was only about a mile from his home.
Whilst in America, Norman’s younger sisters, Lillian and Emma were also born there during 1896 and 1899.
Around 1900-1, his family returned back to Horbury, Yorkshire. A young Norman is next shown on the 1911 Census when he was about 15-16 years old as working in the local Colliery as a Scale Picker. Listed as a US American Resident, British Subject by Parentage.
When WW1 broke out, Norman was only about 18 year old, he enlisted locally at Wakefield with the 8th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and landed for service in France on 20th December 1915.
about 6 months later, Norman was involved in the bloodiest day of the war.
On 1st July 1916, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8th Bn Yorks L.I. took part in the attack and sustained significant casualties.
An emotional account of the day, made by a comrade, Arthur Garfitt, a Sheffield Born soldier of the 8th KOYLI’s published in the Sheffield Telegraph, 13th July 1917 reads:
“I could not write before, as we have been through some terrible fighting, and I thanks God I am able to write.
I am sorry to say we have lost a lot of brace officers and men (heroes every one).
We were over the tops of the trenches first and attacked the Germans, but before we could get to close quarters many of our lads went down, some never to rise again. The remainder of us never wavered, and went straight for their trench, which we captured, in double quick time, killing and wounding many Germans.
The second trench was our next object and then the third, followed by a road and then another trench. Our ranks were getting thinner and thinner, but there was no wavering till we had reached our goal. We knew that other regiments were coming up to support us. It was terrible, but glorious. All through the war I have never seen such magnificent bravery.
You will have noticed that our casualties were heavy, but they were noticed that our casualties were heavy, but they were nothing compared with the German losses in killed, wounded and prisoners.
The General came and thanked us all this morning for our magnificent courage, and said we had added fresh laurels to our regiment’s already brilliant record.”