Private Wilfred Longmate
37368, 1st Bn., Lancashire Fusiliers
who was killed in action on 14th October 1918, aged 34
Remembered with Honour
Barrow Hill Memorial
Staveley Parish Memorial
Ledeghem Military Cemetery (A.45)
Born in Potterhanworth, Lincolnshire, Charles Longmate had lived in the Staveley area from childhood. The family lived at Laburnum Cottage, a smallholding on Hollingwood Common beside Troughbrook and Chesterfield Road. His father worked on the land to support his family whilst Charles, aged 16, was apprenticed to a joiner.
Mary Ann Slack had been born in Staveley before her family moved, firstly, to Brimington and then to Brampton. Her father, Job, was a blacksmith and provision dealer. Mary Ann was working as a milliner and dressmaker when she married Charles Longmate at Brampton on 31st December 1879. She was 28 years old and joiner Charles was 34. The couple made their home near Chesterfield Road where their first child, James Edward, was born in 1880, followed in 1882 by a daughter, Susan Elizabeth.
TUNNARD WILFRED LONGMATE was born in 1883 at Hollingwood Common. In 1891, when Wilfred was 7, the family was living at Laburnum Cottage with Charles’ elderly parents. Charles was still working as a carpenter and probably helping to farm the small holding as his parents were both in their 80’s and both died a few years later. The family had grown to include Robert Taylor and Mahala Minnie.
Charles died on 13th April 1899, aged 54, and Mary Ann, with the help of eldest son, James, took over as a farmer at Laburnum Cottage. Wilfred, aged 17 in 1901, was employed as a Drapers Assistant whilst younger brother Robert worked as a saddler for the nearby Staveley Coal and Iron Company.
In 1911, 27 year old Wilfred’s career had taken him firstly to lodgings in Edgbaston, Worcestershire, where he was employed as a drapers’ assistant and then to Northwich, Cheshire, where, for several years, he was the manager for Messrs. Price and Co, Drapers, at their Castle branch.
It was at Northwich that Wilfred enlisted in the 5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment (4446) in late 1915. He was then posted to the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers (37368), which landed at Marseilles in March 1916 with 86th Brigade in the 29th Division and concentrated in the area east of Pont Remy. The Division took part in some very heavy fighting and was deployed during The Battles of the Somme in 1916 and the Battles of the Scarpe during the Arras Offensive and the Third Battles of Ypres in 1917.
34 year old Wilfred returned to Northwich on short leave from the Front to marry a 25 year old local girl, Mary Elizabeth Rutter, on 9th November 1917. His sister, Susan, was the bridesmaid.
On Wilfreds’ return to France, the Battalion were engaged with the 29th Division at the Battle of Cambrai in support of the front line divisions and, in 1918, in the Battles of the Lys and the Advance in Flanders.
The Battle of Courtrai began on 14th October 1918 as part of the Final Advance in Flanders.
The small village of Ledeghem had been occupied by the Germany army since 1914 and the advance of the 29th Division of the 2nd Army would be a momentous period. On October 1st the inhabitants of the community thought that their day had come when the 12 Battalion Royal Scots had briefly entered Ledegem but their exhilaration turned to disappointment as the Germans fiercely defended their positions beating the Royal Scots back to the line of the railway. The allies were determined to advance at all costs and the “last big push” commenced in the early hours of the 14 October 1918.
Just before Zero-hour, the British barrage opened with a deafening clamour; minutes later (at 5.35am) infantry of the three attacking Corps, surged forward through thick mist and across the sodden wire-strewn ground.
The allies fought their way into and through the village, pushing the German front line backward once more and setting the people of Ledeghem free from occupation. Four hours after zero hour Ledeghem was declared to have been taken, but the success had not been without cost. The morning of the 14th October 1918 was one with a heavy low lying fog. Whilst this gave some advantage to the advancing troops it also hid from view well-disguised machine gun emplacements that were ‘passed by’ and then continued to fire upon the support troops. The occupying forces had aggressively defended their positions within the town and this was not a “mopping up” engagement but a fierce fight for ground. Source
Tunnard Wilfred Longmate was killed in action on 14th October 1918, aged 34. He is buried in plot A.45 at the Ledeghem Military Cemetery, West Flanders in Belgium which was made by the 29th Division (as “Ledeghem New Cemetery”) in October 1918.
He is also remembered on the Northwich memorial (as T. Longmate) where his widow resided.
Wilfred Longmate was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His Medal Index Roll Card shows that his medals were returned, which was not unusual, and was often the result of families having moved from their given address.
His widow re-married at Northwich in 1924 to Albert Simpson.