yeovil at War

William George Sartin

Shoeing & Carriage Smith in the Royal Engineers

 

William George Sartin was born in Yeovil in 1890, the son of William Henry Sartin and Martha Sophia Hewlett who were married in Yeovil in the winter of 1890. William was a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers and consequently the family moved around quite a bit with his regular postings. William and Martha's next two children, Albert (b 1893) and Kate (b 1895) were both born in Gravesend, Kent, while the next three children, Annie (b 1896), George (b 1898) and Charles (b 1900) were all born in Chatham, Kent. In 1900 the family moved to Monmouth, Wales, where son Richard was born in 1900. The 1901 census listed the family at Derwen Cottage, Waterly Lane, Monmouth.

William Junior clearly enjoyed the military life and, like his father, he too joined the Royal Engineers, enlisting at Monmouth - probably when he turned 18 in 1908. In the 1911 census 21-year old William was listed as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers with the trade of Shoeing Smith. He was in the Army's Connaught Hospital, Marlborough Line, Aldershot.

William was in the 23rd Field Company of the Royal Engineers (Service No 18363) and by the time war broke out he was a full Corporal with the trade of Shoeing and Carriage Smith. The 23rd Field Company, Royal Engineers served with 1st Division during the Great War. 1st Division was one of the first British formations to proceed to France in August 1914, and fought on the Western Front throughout the war, taking part in most of the major actions. In 1914 they were involved in The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres. William would have been in all these battles.

The Battle of Mons (23 August 1914) was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the war. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British Army attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army. Although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were eventually forced to retreat due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the sudden retreat of the French Fifth Army, which exposed the British right flank.

The First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September 1914) resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army. The battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August, which had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. The counterattack of six French field armies and the BEF along the Marne River forced the German Imperial Army to abandon its push on Paris and retreat north-west, leading to the "Race to the Sea". The Battle of the Marne was a victory for the Allies and set the stage for four years of trench warfare on the Western Front.

The First Battle of the Aisne (13–28 September 1914) was the Allied follow-up offensive against the right wing of the German First Army (led by Alexander von Kluck) and the Second Army (led by Karl von Bülow) as they retreated after the First Battle of the Marne. The offensive began on the evening of 13 September, after a hasty pursuit of the Germans.

The First Battle of Ypres, also called the First Battle of Flanders (19 October – 22 November 1914), was a First World War battle fought for the strategically important town of Ypres in western Belgium in October and November 1914. Sadly William was wounded in the battle and died from his wounds on 2 November 1914. He was 24.

For his service in France he was awarded the 1914 Star. The 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal were commonly known as 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred' and were the three most common medals of the Great War. The 1914 Star, known as 'Pip' was a bronze medal, about 378,000 were issued to those who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and 22 November 1914. Mainly Regulars or Territorials, a few land based Navy, and a few Australian and Canadians were the recipients. The central scroll carries the dates for the 1914 Star.

William Sartin is remembered on Panel 9 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial at Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium but his name is not inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

William Sartin's Medal Index Card showing that he was awarded the 1914 Star and Clasp on 15 August 1914. By this time William was a full Corporal

 

British infantry waiting to advance in the Mons area prior to the battle.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of William Sartin.

 

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war. The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917. It now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The Ypres (Menin gate) Memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927.