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2nd Lieutenant (Robert) Granville Bennett
10th Bn., East Yorkshire Regiment (10/727) and
9th Bn., Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Born 9 August 1893, Swinefleet, Yorkshire. Died 4 October 1917, Beselare, Flanders (Age 24).
Son of Herbert Thomas and Mary (nee Taylor) Bennett, of Goole, Yorkshire
Robert Granville Bennett was the third son of Herbert Thomas Bennett, a Farmer, and his wife Mary (nee Taylor). The family were moderately wealthy, as Herbert was the son of John Bennett who established and was Chairman of the Bennett Steamship Company of Goole, which by 1899 had six ships operating between, Goole, London and Boulogne. Herbert and his son were both keen golfers and members of the nearby Rawcliffe Park Golf Club which was formed in 1900. There are many newspaper reports showing the results of matches they played, including one in 1910 reporting that Granville Bennett (the name he was going by) had, at the age of 16, won a competition called 'The Ward Cup'. However, his name is absent from results published after February 1912, which could indicate that he had left the area. Some of the obituaries say that he was pursuing a profession in farming. William Hibbert Marshall of Patterdale Hall, who owned very large estates in Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire was born at Enholme Hall near Patrington, east of Hull, and other members of the Marshall family still lived in the area. The Bennetts and Marshalls may well have had similar social circles (such as golf, the Chamber of Commerce, etc), so it is possible that he was invited to spend time as a guest at Patterdale Hall to study farming on the Marshall's estates. There was also another ‘Herbert Bennett’ from Ambleside who is listed as a landowner in the 1915 Electoral Roll. He had no children and it is possible that Robert was a cousin looking after the land. This has yet to be proved but it is a fact that the only Bennett we can find with a forename of Granville, who enlisted in the East Yorkshire Regiment before Jan 1915 and who died during WW1 is Robert Granville Bennett.
Granville enlisted on the 1st September 1914 as a Private into the 10th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment (a Pals Battalion known initially as the Hull Commercials)1. The photo shows the Hull Commercials being trained in November 1914, before they moved to Hornsea on the East Coast and were issued with proper khaki uniforms to replace their armbands (making them into real soldiers) rather than the disliked blue 'Post Office' style uniforms that many of Kitchener's New Armies had to wear at first. After several months training the 10th Battalion, as part of the 92nd Brigade, moved to Ripon in the Spring of 1915 for intensive Brigade training, such as tactical schemes and night operations. On the 28th October 1915, highly trained and now part of the 31st Division, the Battalion travelled by rail to Salisbury Plain for Divisional level training.
On the 14th December, the 92nd Brigade proceeded to Devonport by rail and embarked aboard the S. S. 'Minnewaska' bound for Egypt. The Brigade disembarked at Port Said on the 22nd December (just in time to qualify for the 1915 Star) where patrol and guard duties along the banks of the Suez Canal, and much digging in the sand, occupied the troops of the 31st Division for several weeks. Then orders were received for the 31st Division to move to France -
Presumably after some Officer training, perhaps in England with some home leave, 2nd Lieutenant Bennett reported to the 9th Bn. KOYLI on the 21st July 1917. They were holding positions close to the Hindenberg Line at Longpre, north-
The following is an extract from 9th Battalion's War Diary for 4th Oct 1917
“Just before 6 o'clock all was quiet, at zero the barrage opened with a fearsome noise and we leapt from our own shell holes and went forward in snake formation. It was the darkness that precedes the dawn and one could recognise nobody. We are thankful to say that we got away from our own assembly positions before the full force of the German barrage descended but were immediately subjected to a withering machine gun fire, men were falling right and left but who cared? our one care was to get forward...... The swamp proved a veritable death trap, we were up to our knees in slush and at the same time subjected to enfilade machine gun fire from the right.”
It was during this attack that 2nd Lieutenant Bennett died. According to the newspaper reports, he received a bullet wound to the head that killed him instantly. Norman Jackson has obtained a copy of his will, written to his sister Marion, which gives a poignant insight into his character as well as shedding more light on his life. The following is an extract:
“My dear Marion,
Just a last wish for you to do in case of a serious accident to me which may occur during my vacation on the continent or elsewhere. Tis a beautiful day when this I write. Will you see that my suit-
Your affec. Brother
Edie Blyth is believed to be Edith Alice Blyth who was born in Goole around late 1892, a similar age to Granville so possibly his fiancée. Edie was the daughter of Arthur Blyth, a Draper, and his wife Martha Jane. When we were kindly sent the photos of Granville above and below by his great nephew these seem to confirm that Edie was his fiancee as the photo is signed “in affectionate remembrance” by the Blyth family, including Edie.
Granville had served for just over three years and his medal card shows that he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star.
Granville is remembered on the Patterdale War Memorial, the Cenotaph in Goole, Yorkshire and on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His name is not included on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour, probably because his connection with the Dale was not as strong as some others.
What became of Granville's family? His father Herbert Thomas Bennett was born in Adlingfleet, Yorkshire around 1864. He married Mary Taylor around August 1885 (Mary was born in Liverpool around 1864). They had six children. At the time of the 1911 Census, Herbert was described as a Potato Merchant and a Farmer, and was a member of the Goole Chamber of Commerce. He went on to become a Director of the Goole Steamship Company and Chairman of the Bennett Steamship Co. in Goole, which had been founded by his father John Bennett. Herbert died on the 1st September 1941 at his home 'Hafodty', Loughborough Road, Ruddington in Nottinghamshire aged 77, and Mary around August 1945 aged 81.
His oldest brother Stanley Bennett was born in Swinefleet, Yorkshire on the 1 July 1886 and died there around August 1957 aged 71. He married Mary Prentice in Goole around February 1909.
His older brother Herbert Reginald Bennett was born in Swinefleet, Yorkshire around May 1888. He married the wonderfully named Olive Tree in Goole around May 1911. Sadly, Olive died at the early age of 42 in Feb 1931 and Herbert married again, to Ruth B Haynes about Aug 1932. Herbert died in Goole about Nov 1952.
His younger sister Marion Bennett, to whom Robert bequeathed his effects in his will, was born in Swinefleet, Yorkshire on the 20 July 1895. She married Clwyd Abbey. Marion died on the 18 Mar 1972.
The twins, younger brothers Herbert Thomas Bennett and John Taylor Bennett, were born in Goole, Yorkshire around 1905. John was also a keen golfer -
We are incredibly grateful to Steven, Granville’s Great Great Nephew who provided the photos of Granville and his family. We will continue to investigate in the hope of finding out some more details, but in the meantime if you have any information that could help please contact us.
Feb 2018 Update
In February 2018 we made a trip to Flanders in Belgium including a visit to the Tyne Cot Memorial to find the inscription to Granville on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, which list the names of the 34,984 missing men who died after 15 August 1917 on the Ypres Salient. This is shown below along with a photo of the memorial stone at the entrance to Tyne Cot in memory of all the men from the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who served in the Great War.
Granville in his uniform -
Granville’s parents on their golden wedding anniversary. This was also kindly provided by Granville’s Great Great Nephew, along with the wonderful family photo below from around 1910.