Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension

Military Monday – Richard Espley (1875-1915)

Richard is my wife’s 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Joseph Booth Espley and Christina Boyle. The common ancestor of my wife and Richard is Martha Espley, my wife’s 2x great grandmother.

Richard was born on 13 June 1875 in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He married Edith Elizabeth Wardle sometime in the December quarter of 1895.

Between getting married and the 1911 census Richard and Edith had nine children. Sadly three of their children died young and there were six living and shown on the census:-

Winifred May – born 3 April 1897
Annie – born c June 1900
Edith – born c September 1901
Frederick – born c September 1905
Horace – born c March 1909
Gertrude – born 15 October 1910

I haven’t been able to find any remaining military records on http://www.ancestry.co.uk or Find My Past. However I can piece together information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – http://www.cwgc.org and from http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk

Richard was a Private in the Cheshire Regiment and served in the 2nd Battalion. His service number was 11961.

I know that Richard was killed in action on 15 August 1915 and died from wounds.

Richard is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in Nord, France. He is also commemorated on the Congleton War Memorial in Cheshire.

Congleton War Memorial

Congleton War Memorial

The information below is taken from the CWGC website.

Bailleul is a large town in France, near the Belgian border, 14.5 Kms south-west of Ieper and on the main road from St. Omer to Lille.



Bailleul was occupied on 14 October 1914 by the 19th Brigade and the 4th Division. It became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre, with the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations quartered in it for considerable periods. It was a Corps headquarters until July 1917, when it was severely bombed and shelled, and after the Battle of Bailleul (13-15 April 1918), it fell into German hands and was not retaken until 30 August 1918.



The earliest Commonwealth burials at Bailleul were made at the east end of the communal cemetery and in April 1915, when the space available had been filled, the extension was opened on the east side of the cemetery. The extension was used until April 1918, and again in September, and after the Armistice graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and the following burial grounds:-



PONT-DE-NIEPPE GERMAN CEMETERY, on the South side of the hamlet of Pont-de-Nieppe, made in the summer of 1918. It contained German graves (now removed) and those of a soldier and an airman from the United Kingdom.



RENINGHELST CHINESE CEMETERY, in a field a little South of the Poperinghe-Brandhoek road, where 30 men of the Chinese Labour Corps were buried in November 1917-March 1918.



BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY contains 610 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 17 of the graves were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials.



BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION contains 4,403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 11 of the graves made in April 1918 were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials. There are also 17 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 154 German burials from both wars.



In the centre of the town is a stone obelisk erected by the 25th Division as their Memorial on the Western front, recalling particularly the beginning of their war service at Bailleul and their part in the Battle of Messines. The town War Memorial, a copy of the ruined tower and belfry of the Church of St. Vaast, was unveiled in 1925 by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, the City which had “adopted” Bailleul.

Bailleul Communal Cemetery

Bailleul Communal Cemetery