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Harold Postill

Matters changed at the beginning of July when they moved into bivouacs near Albert.  On the 3rd, they moved into reserve trenches and made a successful attack on enemy-occupied trenches on the 4th,  taking 140 prisoners and two machine guns but sustaining casualties of 19 dead and about 150 wounded. After a couple of days in bivouacs they were back in the trenches on 10th July and this time together with the 8th Yorkshires involved in an attack on Contalmaison. Attacking over open ground they sustained heavy losses from machine gun fire and shrapnel, but the attack was successful, taking 250 further prisoners and quantities of guns and ammunition. They sustained heavy casualties with 16 dead and over 200 wounded. Most of the rest of the month was spent in billets in or around Albert but at the end of the moth they returned to the trenches. August and September were spent alternating between trenches and billets with a thin trickle of casualties.

The beginning of October saw the 9th Yorkshires back in the trenches coming under heavier attack than over the last couple of months. On 7th October 1916 they took part in a Battalion attack on Le Sars which was entirely successful. However 2 officers and 15 men were killed together with about 100 wounded and missing. Among the dead was Harold Postill.

Harold’s body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. In Malton he is remembered on the Town Memorial and in St Leonard’s Church.

They moved into the trenches on 16th September and while they came under heavy bombardment, had practically no casualties until mid-October.  They received a further draft of 30 men at the end of October, and spent November largely in billets, suffering a few casualties and finding the weather depressingly cold.   December was spent alternating between trenches and billets, largely uneventfully.

New Year’s Day 1916 saw a successful raid on the German front line with two killed and 15 wounded of a party of 100 men, and throughout January they came under heavy bombardment in the trenches.  From February to June a remarkably terse War Diary reports a continued pattern of billet life interspersed by short periods in trenches- an uneventful time with minimal casualties.

According to the census form Rachel had been married 41 years and had had 13 children, 9 of whom survived. It is also noteworthy that Harold is described as delicate which suggests that he may well not have signed up immediately.  However at some point he joined 9th (Service) Battalion, The Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment), signing up in Malton which would imply that he was probably not in the initial group of men who were recruited in Richmond in September 1914.

The Battalion trained in the south of England  and  left Bramshot for Boulogne on the 25th of August 1915 reaching billets at Norbecourt on 1st September, before moving to the Merris-Vieux Berquin area, for trench familiarisation under the guidance of the 20th (Light) and 27th Divisions.

Harold Postill was the third son of Joseph and Rachel (nee Mercer) Postill and his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1896 in the Pickering area (Ebberston). Joseph and Rachel married in New Malton on 8th March 1874 and had at least eleven children

During the early years of their marriage they lived in Malton but seem to have moved to Pickering between 1881 and 1884 and again to Ebberston by 1888, and they were still in Ebberston in 1901.

1901 Census – resident at Ebberston
POSTILL, Joseph, Head, Married, M, 55, N E Ry Platelayer, New Malton Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Rachel, Wife, Married, F, 45, , Brawby Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Adelaide, Daughter, Single, F, 12, , Ebberston Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Walter, Son, Single, M, 11, , Ebberston Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Henry, Son, Single, M, 7, , Ebberston Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Harold, Son, , M, 4, , Ebberston Yorkshire,
POSTILL, Elizabeth, Daughter, , F, 2, , Ebberston Yorkshire,

Joseph died during the last quarter of 1908 in the Pickering area aged 62 and by 1911 Rachel and her remaining children had moved back to Malton and were living in Ryder Square (now Greengate Flats).

1911 Census – resident at 4 Ryder Square, Malton
POSTILL, Rachel, Head, Widow, F, 58, , Yorks Brawby,
POSTILL, Adlaid, Daughter, Single, F, 23, , Yorks Ebberston,
POSTILL, Harold, Son, , M, 15, None (Delicate), Yorks Ebberston,
POSTILL, Elizabeth, Daughter, , F, 12, School, Yorks Ebberston,