Henry Skelton

Second Lieutenant
Lancashire Fusiliers
Date of death 
2 October 1918
Age of death 
Snakes Lane
Woodford Green
Address source 
1901 Census
Cemetery / Memorial 

Born in 1896 at Woodford, eldest son of Benjamin (Stockbrokers Agent) and Mary Elizabeth Skelton. 1901: With his family at “Rosebrae” Snakes Lane, Woodford Green. 1911: A boarding Pupil at The Friends School Mount Pleasant Road, Saffron Walden. The family home later moved to “Woburn” Epping New Road, which was the address given in his Will.

After training with the Artists Rifles he was posted to 11 Lancashire Fusiliers, and when they were disbanded on 12th August 1918, he was attached to 16 (2nd Salford Pals) Battalion. This Battalion was involved in the Battle and crossing of the St Quentin Canal, at the end of 09-18, which formed part of the attack on the final series of German fortified defences known as the “Hindenburg Line”. Skelton was wounded in 1918, and recovered at Woodford before returning to the front in September 1918.

During 30th September - 1st October other Battalions assaulted the town of Joncourt some three miles east of the Canal, which they took, along with a large section of the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line to the south of a farm nicknamed "Swiss Cottage". The ground beyond this was open country which would allow a return to mobile warfare. German attempts to recapture these positions were unsuccessful, and on 2nd October 1918 16 Lancashire Fusiliers were moved up to take over their defence.

On 2nd October 1918 it was the turn of this Battalion to lead an attack as part of the ongoing advance, and they were ordered to take the village of Ramicourt. Because parts of the attacking force could not reach their objectives, the Lancashire Fusiliers were unable to consolidate their gains and had to fall back to British lines. A number of casualties were incurred during this operation, not least from heavy enfilade machine gun fire. Among them was the Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Stone D.S.O. who was killed. It emerged that 2nd Lieutenant Henry Skelton had lost his life while trying to bring Lt. Col. Stone to the safety of British positions.

X/R: Second Lieutenant Benjamin Dowell Skelton (Brother)

Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian