Honouring a Bradford Soldier

Honouring a Bradford Soldier

During the Battlefields Trip (3-6 October), Year 10 pupil Jessica Whitcombe made a special trip to the Bienvillers Cemetery in Northern France to lay a wreath on the grave of Private James Ross who served in the 2/7th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. James served in the same battalion as her great-grandfather Fred Petty who travelled to France in January 1917 and fought on the Western Front until the Armistice in November 1918.

Private James Ross had a very similar regimental number to Fred Petty, which means they would have enlisted within days or hours of each other and are therefore likely to have known each other and shared many war experiences.

In March 1918 both men took part in the defence of the village of Bucquoy when, for three days, the battalion was attacked repeatedly by waves of German forces. A large number of the graves in the cemetery belong to Duke of Wellington’s soldiers who were killed nearby in the first months of 1918.

It is believed James Ross was probably killed by shelling, machine gun or sniper fire after three days constantly fighting in the line. The only difference between Jessica’s great grandfather, Fred Petty and James Ross, is that one man survived the war and one did not.