Private 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
Military Service Number 39017
Born January 1892 in Brotton, Near Saltburn, Guisborough, North Yorkshire
Killed in Action 3 September 1917
Buried in Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun
Willie Forster was the only son of William Forster, a farmer, and Mary Pybus, daughter of the landlord of the Downe Arms, Liverton, who also farmed. His sister Catherine was born in 1902.
The family moved to Ivy Dene, North Street, Scalby
The 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment had been formed at Richmond in 1914 as part of Kitchener’s New Army. Early days were a little chaotic and the new volunteers had very few trained officers to command them, no organised billets, nor equipment. They were attached to 50th Brigade, 17th Division, moved to Wareham, Dorset, and in May 1915 went to Romsey. On 14 July 1915 they landed at Boulogne and served on the Western Front for the duration of the war. In 1915 they spent a period of trench familiarisation in the southern part of the Ypres Salient, where they then held the front lines.
In 1916 they were involved in fighting at the Bluff (south east of Ypres on the Comines Canal), part of the Actions of Spring 1916. They then moved to the Somme where on 1 July 1916 they took part in the Battle of Albert, helping to capture Fricourt on 2nd, and the Battle of Delville Wood in August. The following year saw them fighting in battles of the Arras Offensive and it was towards the end of a three-month period of trench warfare in the Chemical Works Sub-Sector, near the village of Monchy le Preux, that Willie Forster was wounded. He died of his wounds at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station on 3 September 1917 and was buried nearby in Duisans British Cemetery, west of Arras.
The Scarborough Mercury of 14 September 1917 reports, “Much sympathy is felt with Mr and Mrs Forster of Ivy Dene, in the death of their only son, Private Forster, from the effects of wounds received in France. As well as having his name recorded on the village war memorial, Willie Forster is remembered on a plaque on the north wall of St Laurence’s Church, Scalby and on the grave of his parents and sister in St Laurence’s Churchyard. His name is also recorded on The Ring of Remembrance at Notre Dame de Lorette which was opened on 11 November 2014 by President Francois Hollande, accompanied by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The memorial records the names of 579,606 men and women of all nations who fell in action in the Pas de Calais in the First World War.
The family lived at Ivy Dene until after Joseph’s death in 1932 when Mary and Catherine moved to Sundown, a cottage on Scalby High Street next to the Gatehouse. Both Mary and Catherine lived at Sundown until their deaths, in 1949 and 1959 respectively.