Private O. Carter


UNIT: 7th Yorkshire Regiment

NUMBER: 235204

STATUS: Killed in Action

DATE OF DEATH: 14th May 1917

CEMETERY OR MEMORIAL: The Arras Memorial, France

AGE: 24

Private Carter was the son of Benjamin and Annie Carter of South End, Northallerton. On the Northallerton Memorial his initial is given as "O." but the official Army records and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show that his name was Cliffe. On the Service Sheet for the Service of Remembrance which took place in All Saints' Church, Northallerton on 29th December 1918, his name is recorded as Oliffe. The same spelling is given in the local Parish Magazine in an account of his wounding in 1916. In this case it appears most likely that his name was Oliffe, but it was incorrectly recorded in the official record as Cliffe, perhaps because it is such an unusual name.

He joined the 4th Yorkshires and was wounded by shrapnel in the legs and arm and head on 25th October 1916, as the Battle of The Somme was drawing to a close. He had a lucky escape as the shell which caused his wounds killed four men who were nearby. His steel helmet saved him from more serious injury. He was taken first to the 1st Canadian Hospital in France, but his wounds were sufficently serious for him to be shipped back to England, where he was treated at the Manchester Infirmary. After recovering from his wounds he was sent back to France, this time to join the 7th Battalion of the Regiment.

He was killed at the age of 24 during the final days of the Battle of Arras in the vicinity of a stronghold called Curly Trench, near the village of Roeux. The Battalion had gone into the battle on 9th May with 18 Officers and 436 men and came out on the 15th May with 5 Officers and 288 men. Unfortunately Private Carter was not among them and his body was never found. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. Of the 14 Officers who actually took part in the fighting (4 were with the Headquarters Staff in the rear) only one survived the very heavy fighting in which the Battalion was involved.

During this action, on 12th May, two days before Private Carter was believed to have been killed, a V.C. was won by a Private Tom Dresser of B Company, 7th Yorkshire Regiment, who, whilst acting as a runner and despite being wounded twice in the process, managed to deliver an important message from his Battalion Headquarters to the front line trenches.