Private Matthew SWEETMORE
(Spelt: "SWEATMORE" on Buxton Memorial)

Regiment/Service:
Yorkshire Regiment [Green Howards]
Unit:
4th Battalion
Service Number:
243481
Date of Death:
22 March 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
36
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 31 and 32.


Personal History:

Matthew was born in the March quarter 1882, at Wood Cottage, Burbage, Buxton, (1881 Census RG 11/3455) the son of Thomas (Limestone Quarryman) and Priscilla (née Heathcote) Sweetmore. He had four older brothers, William, Henry, Thomas and John, and four younger brothers and sisters, Sarah, Mary, Hannah and Arthur.

In 1891 (Census RG 12/2779) the family were living at 20 Grin Row, Burbage (which may have been the same house) and 10 years later (Census RG 13/3271) at the same address.
In 1911 (Census RG 14/21239) Matthew was still living at 20 Grin Row, but with his wife, Jessie (née Brown) and their two daughters, Mary Ellen and Lillian. Matthew was employed as a "Waggoner in the Lime Works". In 1914 their son, William, was born and in 1916 another daughter, Harriett. The couple had married in the December quarter 1906. In the March quarter 1921 Jessie remarried Clifford Sellers and they lived at 40 Kiln Cottages, Harpur Hill, Buxton.

Military History:
Matthew's Service Papers have not survived but it is known that he enlisted in Buxton. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star Medal. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say what his War service postings were. However, his Service Number would suggest an enlistment date in April / May 1917, resulting in a posting to the front at the end of 1917 or early 1918.

The 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, was a Territorial Force Battalion, based in August 1914 in Northallerton, Yorkshire, part of the York and Durham Brigade, Northumbrian Division. On the 18th April 1915 the Battalion was posted to France and landed at Boulogne. On the 14th May 1915 they became the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division, so clearly Matthew would have joined as a replacement or reinforcement, possibly in preparation for the coming Battle of the Somme.

During The Battle of St Quentin (a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918) - 21st - 23rd March 1918 - Matthew's 50th (Northumbrian) Division was in action in response to 'Kaiserschlacht' -  the German Spring Offensive which commenced on the 21st March. At some time during the fighting Matthew was killed in action.

On the 21st March there were rumours that the Germans were planning a major offensive, but these were treated by the Generals as "crying wolf" as they had so often before. However, at 4.30 a.m., the Germans, with their superior fire power, launched a bombardment aimed at taking out the Allied command posts, communications and Artillery. This was quickly followed by specially selected Stormtroopers, under the cover of a dense morning fog, attacking the Allied Front line and causing panic by keeping going. Mopping up was left to Troops in reserve.

Much of the area over which the attack took place had just been taken over by the British and defences had not been prepared in depth across the wrecked ground of the old Somme battles. The 50th Division were still under "12 hours notice" to move when the attack started. All day long they waited and in the evening received orders to march to Guillaucourt.

At night the 150th Brigade were taken by train to Brie and at midnight commenced a six hour march to take over the rear zone of defences in the Green Line near Harcourt, covering the Flechin, Bernes area.

Matthew's 4th Battalion were in the Brigade centre with the 4th East Yorks Regiment to the Right and the 5th Durham Light Infantry on their Left. The 50th Division were in Reserve to the XIX Corps and the position it was ordered to take up was between the Omignon and Cologne Rivers on a Front which had been partially barbed wired.

The Battalion History for the 22nd March reads:
"By 8.00 a.m the Battalion was in the Green Line with the East Yorkshires on their right and the 5th Yorks Battalion in Reserve.
Again it was a thick misty morning.

Two Divisions in front were ordered to retire and soon streams of men, horses, tanks, guns and limbers were coming through and the Green Line became the Front Line.

At 6.00 p.m the enemy attacked and the Battalion was forced to give ground to a position about 800 yds [731 m.] West of the Green Line."

It was in this action that the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Bernard Hedley Charlton and Adjutant Capt James Scott Bainbridge who had gone up to rally the left Company were killed. Companies had lost touch with one another, but fortunately the enemy's attack stopped short and no further advance was made.

32 men of the 4th Battalion were killed on the 22nd and 23rd March 1918. 23, including Matthew, have no known grave and are now commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.


                         

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser 27 April 1918
· I am grateful to Lindsey "Rendellers", via the Great War Forum, for the photo of Matthew's name on the Memorial

Link to CWGC Record
The Pozieres Memorial
Matthew Sweetmore's name on the Pozieres Memorial
Pt Matthew SWEETMORE
poppy
...... about the 1/4th Battalion at the Battle of St Quentin