Private Edmund Reuben Green 36785 1/4th Bn., Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
who died on 13 April 1918
Edmund Reuben Green (known as Reuben)was born on 15 November 1892 in Oadby. His parents were Albert Green, a boot finisher and his wife Caroline (nee Law).
Reuben’s mother Caroline appears to have had a difficult early life. She was born in Buckingham around 1860 but her mother Ann died shortly afterwards. In the 1871 census Caroline’s occupation is given as servant and she is only 12 years old. By 1881 her father, Edmund Law, a shoehand had moved to Leicester and Caroline was working as a general domestic servant for the family of David Preston, a water rates collector, at 1 Kent Street Leicester. Caroline married Albert Green in 1885 and by 1891 they were living at 65 Cross Street, Oadby with three children and Albert worked as a shoe finisher. By 1901 Caroline had given birth to eight children: Caroline jr, Albert jr, George, Mary, Edmund (Reuben), Eva and Herbert . She had lost one child in infancy and was to lose her four year old son, Herbert in 1904. On 12 October 1902 five of their children were baptised at St Matthew’s Church, Leicester. It seems that there was a family connection to this church through Edmund Law, Caroline’s father.
Cross Street, Oadby
In 1911 the Green family was still living in Cross Street and working in the hosiery or boot and shoe trade. Their home was now at 2 Cross Street. Reuben was working as a ‘shoe hand pressman’. Pressmen were responsible for cutting leather uppers, but also finding the most economical way in which to utilise the hide. Another term commonly used for this job was ‘clicker’ because of the noise of the knives. ‘Shoe hand’ is the most common occupation that appears on the attestation papers of Oadby’s enlisted men. There were four boot and shoe factories in Oadby at the time.
Clickers and Pressmen in the cutting room of a boot and shoe factory
Reuben’s service record is no longer available but the Oadby Soldiers and Sailors List of serving men mentions him as Trooper 4347 ER Green, B Squadron, 2/1 Yorkshire Dragoons and he was billeted at The Temperance Hall, Driffield, Yorkshire. This document, held in the Leicestershire Record Office, was compiled in 1915 to facilitate sending Christmas parcels to troops. It was added to and adjusted during the war as more men served or were posted to different units.
The Yorkshire Dragoons was a Yeomanry Regiment which spent most of the war in East Yorkshire, but in 1918 it dismounted, converted to a Cyclist Regiment and was posted to Cork, Ireland. The Green family have made researchers aware that brother George also served in this regiment and transferred to Ireland. At this point many officers applied for transfers and other ranks wishing to serve in France were posted to other regiments.
Driffield, East Yorkshire.
Reuben is also known to have served in the Sherwood Foresters where his service number was 36786. However at the time of his death Reuben was in the 1/4th Bn., Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.
On 10 April 1918 the battalion arrived by battle bus to hold the line on the left of Neuve Eglise. At 11.30am the following day they moved forward under intensive bombardment. Over the next two days the War Diary records confusion regarding the location of allied companies and the movement of the Germans. Battalion headquarters were moved as the enemy advanced. On the 13 April the enemy entered Neuve Eglise but were initially driven back amid fierce fighting. However ‘About 8pm the enemy was seen to be again in the village in the neighbourhood of the square’
The war diary for the 4th Battalion KOYLI for 13 April 1918 records events as
‘7.00am – The enemy entered the right of the village of NEUVE EGLISE up the NIEPPE ROAD. Headquarters Company and support Companies with the 1/4th (H) Y & L Regt. And Worcesters Supports attacked and cleared the village. 17 Prisoners were captured by this Battalion in the Y.M.C.A. MAJOR T. CHADWICK, CAPT. E.E. GREENHOUGH and 2 LT. J.W. STROUD wounded. 2 LT G.W. BARNWELL and 2 LT. A.M. HAIGH killed in counter-attack. LT. COL. H.C. FRASER rejoined the battalion from “B” Echelon.
5.00pm – CAPT. J.C. BURROW, who was then in Command of both “W” & “Z” Companies reported that the enemy were attacking strongly and he was slowly being driven back. “X” Company in Support were ordered to counter-attack. The counter-attack was successful, the enemy being driven back a distance of 170 yards.
At about 8.00pm – the enemy were seen to be again in the village on the right in the neighbourhood of the square. Battalion Headquarters moved to Y & L Headquarters about 200 yards down the KEMMEL ROAD. Battalion Headquarters took up a position on the railway embankment about 150 yards North of NEUVE EGLISE with Y & L on the left, and formed a defensive flank on the right.’
The war diary does not state the number of casualties butit is likely that Reuben was killed in this action. He has no grave and is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
Reuben is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial, the Oadby War Memorial and the Oadby Senior School memorial
Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Oadby Senior School Memorial now in Launde Primary School, New Street, Oadby
Memorial Plaque presented to Reuben’s family
Photograph of Reuben’s memorial plaque reproduced with the kind permission of the Green family