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Elgy Bentley on the Western Front
4th Battalion Duke of Wellingtons (West Yorkshire Regiment)
3 photographs of Elgy (Elgie?) in uniform; 1 photograph of his sister Annie at his grave; 1 postcard of Elgy and his comrades (Duke of Wellingtons), written and signed by Elgy (3rd from the right at the back); 3 medals
Joseph Elgy Bentley, born on 6th November 1893 at 15 Retford Place, Bradford, 5th of 6 children to Joseph, a police inspector, and Sarah Ann nee Smith. He is the brother of the contributor's grandfather. At the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, the 4th Battalion Duke of Wellingtons (West Yorkshire Regiment) is on its way to summer camp in Scarborough when they are turned round and sent to barracks in York, then assigned to Coastal Defence duties in East Yorkshire/North Lincolnshire. Elgy enlists on 7th September 1914 and joins this Battalion, writing home (postmarked Grimsby) to describe musketry drill, night manoeuvres and the weather! Elgy's war record shows him arriving in France on 14 April 1915 from where the regiment is posted in the Levante region. They see action here in 1915 and as the war progresses they take part in the major battle on the Somme where they suffer terrible casualties and at 3rd Ypres where they fight for the "Peter Pan" trenches. At some point in 1917 they are moved closer to the Belgian coast where they are gassed. Many men are killed or injured. We do not know how or the events leading up to it but at about this time Elgy is evacuated to hospital. Family folklore would indicate shell shock but nobody really knows. After recuperation, Elgy is commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 25 September 1917 and he goes back to France and, as the war draws on, the Regiment takes part in its last major set piece battle on the Lys river on 25 April 1918. They then advance and chase the Germans north east across France towards Valenciennes where, having survived the horrors of the Western Front for over 3 years, Elgy is shot by a sniper and dies of his wounds on 11 October 1918, only 1 month short of the Armistice. He is 24. Many of the Duke of Wellingtons who died at this time were buried where they fell by their surviving comrades in arms. Some time later the bodies were exhumed and reburied in the Wellington Cemetery at Rieux en Cambresis to where surviving relatives including his brother Eric and sister Annie make the journey in 1921.