321st Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, 29 May 1917
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Lewis Brook Whiteley was born in the first quarter of 1892 at Stainland, West Yorkshire to Robert and Clara Whiteley, his father was occupied as a Blacksmith and it appears that his fathers first wife Sarah Elizabeth had died on 2nd January 1881 aged 31 years. Very little is known of his early life and his military service as his Military Records have been destroyed. It is known however, that his father died on 31 December 1908 and that in 1911, Lewis was working as a cloth finisher and his three brothers were working in the wool mills.
During those pre-war years, he was a well known musician and was playing in several local bands and also later joined the Rochdale Police and just before he enlisted into the army was working as an assistant in an asylum.
Following the outbreak of the war he enlisted on 1st November 1915 at Wakefield, West Yorkshire into the Wakefield Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and given the service number 5831. He was then transferred into the 321st Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and moved to France / Flanders sometime after 1915 and was promoted to acting Bombardier. His Service Number changed around 1917 to 295518.
On 28th May 1917, while his unit was engaged in operations in Belgium, his gun was struck by an enemy shell, killing 4 of the gun crew and injuring 3 others which included Lewis. He was taken to No.10 Casualty Clearing Station, at Remy Sidings where he died the following day from his injuries.
He was buried at the nearby Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Following his death, his mother Clara was shown in the Probate Calendar on 7 March 1919 in London as being the sole Legate to his belongings and pension which amounted to £120.
War Diary of the 321st Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery – 28 to 29 May 1917
Extract from the above publication:-
28th May 1917
10.40 a.m. – No.7 gun hit by hostile shell. Knocked out of action. Casualties, 4 Other Ranks killed and 3 Other Ranks wounded. Corporal Gibbons, Gunner Gillooley, Gunner Canlin, Gunner C.E. Jones (killed), Bombardier Whiteley, Gunner Smith, Gunner Tilley (wounded). Gunner Jomnes C.E. died – result of wounds and burns at the Field Ambulance Hospital. 40 Rounds fired on target Q.36 Map.
29th May 1917
9.44 p.m. – Opened fire 59 rounds. Target Hill 60. Bombardier Whiteley died of wounds.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner – Thursday 14th June 1917
Extract from the above publication –
Fallen On Active Service
Bombardier L.B. Whiteley, Royal Garrison Artillery, whose home is at Sowood, Stainland, has died of wounds. He was a well known musician. He played solo cornet for the Outlane Prize Band when he was twelve years of age. He later played with the Landley Band for three years, and afterwards became a professional player with the Scapegoat Hill Band. Joining the Rochdale Borough Police Force, he became a soloist in the force band. At the outbreak of the war he was attendant at the West Riding Asylum, Wakefield playing the cello with the asylum band. He enlisted in November, 1915, and was appointed trumpeter, he had composed many hymn tunes, some of which were sung at the anniversary services of the Sowood Chapel, where he was a bass singer in the choir. He was 25 years of age.
The Halifax Courier – 23rd June 1917
Bombardier L. B. Whiteley
“We regret to announce the death from wounds of another popular bandsman, Bombardier Lewis Brook Whiteley (5831) Siege Battery, R. G. A. at the age of 25, and all will sympathise with his bereaved mother, who resides at Sowood, Stainland, in the loss of one of the best of sons, just as the bands of the district have lost a gifted musician. At the age of 12 years he played solo cornet for Outlane Prize Band. He left Outlane and went to Lindley Prize Band, with whom he played three seasons. He was afterwards a professional for Scapegoat Hill Prize Band. At the age of 19 years, he joined Rochdale Borough Police Force and Band, with whom he stayed for nearly 2 years as soloist. He afterwards became an attendant at the West Riding Asylum, Wakefield where he became efficient on the cello, playing with the Asylum Band, with both instruments. He joined on the 1st Nov., 1915 in the Wakefield Battery, and soon became the Battery trumpeter, afterwards training other trumpeters attached to other batteries. He went out to France with the siege Battery R.G.A. He composed many hymn tunes, some of which were sung at the chapel anniversaries at Sowood the place which he attended, and was bass singer in the choir. He was severely wounded May 28th and died on the 29th in hospital somewhere in France.”
Lewis Brook Whiteley was born around 1892 at Stainland, West Yorkshire. The following family information is taken from the 1901 and 1911 Census.
It is shown as follows :-
- Father: Robert Whiteley, born c.1852 at Stainland : Blacksmith. d: 31/12/1908
- Mother: Clare Whiteley, born c.1858 at Huddersfield. d: 30/6/1930
- Brother: Robert Edward, born c.1889 at Stainland : Woolen Weaver.
- Brother: John Herbert, born c.1891 at Stainland : Woolen Yarn Spinner.
- Brother: Joseph Arthur, born c.1896 at Stainland : Warp Twister in Woolen Mill.
His mother and father and other family members are buried in a family plot at Stainland Wesleyan Chapel Churchyard, Stainland where Lewis is also mentioned on the stone. His forename however appears as Louis.
The following addresses have been ascertained for Lewis Whiteley :-
- 1901 – Sowood, Stainland, West Yorkshire.
- 1911 – Sowood, Stainland, West Yorkshire.
- 1914 – Nelson Road, Stainland, West Yorkshire
In the 1901 and 1911 Census, his address is given as solely Sowood, Stainland, however, in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission page, which would have been recorded post war, the family address is given as East View, Sowood, Stainland, Halifax. It is possible that this was also the address as mentioned at these dates.
Lewis Brook Whiteley was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.
Lewis Brook Whiteley is honoured and remembered on the following memorials :-
- St. Andrews Memorial Plaque, St. Andrews Church, Stainland, Calderdale, West Yorkshire.
It is unknown why the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have his old number (5831) on his headstone in Belgium as his updated number (295518) appears in the Grave Registration documentation.
Links to Additional Information
- Find a Grave website – Lewis Brook Whiteley.
- A Street Near You website – Lewis Brook Whiteley.
- Lives of the First World War – Lewis Brook Whiteley.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Lewis Brook Whiteley.
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – St. Andrews Church, Stainland.
- Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Corporal Gibbons.
- Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Gunner Canlin.
- Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Gunner Jones.
- Commonwealth War Grave Commission – Gunner Gillooley.
- Sowood Poppy Trail
- Medal Index Card.
- Register of Soldiers Effects.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Find a Grave.
- 1901 Census.
- 1911 Census.
- Medal Roll – Royal Garrison Artillery – British War Medal and Victory Medal.
- Pension Cards.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- 321st Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, War Diary.
- Huddersfield Daily Examiner – Thursday 14th June 1917.
- England and Wales Registration of Births.
- England and Wales National Probate Calendar 1919.
- West Yorkshire Land Tax Records.
- The Halifax Courier – 23rd June 1917.
- Yorkshire Monumental Inscriptions – Find my Past.
- Not allocated to any groups.
- Vincent Stuart.