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Second Lieutenant Norman W Beech


Harrogate Herald - 24th October 1917

W H Breare letter

Lieutenant Norman Beech, DCM, is reported wounded and missing October 9th. I would be very glad if any of you boys could send me information regarding him.


Harrogate Herald - 31st October 1917

W H Breare letter

I shall be so glad if any of you lads can give me any information of Second Lieutenant N W Beech, DCM, of the 1/5th West Yorkshire Regiment. His parents know nothing except that the authorities at York informed them their boy was wounded and missing October 9th. I know you will do all you can in this matter. His home address is 65 Louis Street, Leeds, and the father is named William Beech.


Harrogate Herald - 14th November 1917

W H Breare letter

I am feeling very sad, boys, just this minute, for I have but now received information that Lieutenant Norman Beech was killed on the 9th of October - that date, if you remember, when the 1/5th had such a trying time. The gloom we feel, however, is partially brightened by the intelligence of the wonderful courage of the lad and how deeply he was loved and admired by his comrades, officers and men. You will see in the Herald letters from his fellow-officers which you will peruse with the same glow of pride that warms us all. We are so sorry for the parents and family, but try to console ourselves with the fact that he was not the only son, for Norman Beech has a brother in the Army who is likewise an officer. Our lamented friend had been out three years and gone through many severe engagements. Instead of taking his leave, which was overdue, he courageously went up the line, only to meet his death. His friends were looking forward expecting him home any day. If he had come out of that battle he would have had a long leave such as men who have been out a great time are now getting as "war-worn soldiers". It is difficult to imagine a boy of 22 being a war-worn soldier, but, alas! it is so. You who are his comrades will have pride and satisfaction in keeping his name alive. Leaving such a personality and such a record, he will never be forgotten. Lieutenant Beech was engaged to Miss Katie Fortune, second daughter of Riley Fortune. I know that your generous heartfelt sympathies will be with her as well as with the dear parents and friends.

Later in same letter

I have received further information respecting the late Lieutenant Beech. He joined as a Volunteer in September, 1914, and went out to France early in April, 1915. There he won his DCM and card of merit on December 19th, 1916, and was given his commission on the field on October 8th, 1916, so that practically he was killed on the anniversary of receiving his commission.

Roll of Honour

Second Lieutenant Norman W Beech, DCM, West Yorks, reported missing on October 9th, is now stated to have been killed. A letter has been received from one of the New Zealand Force saying that the young officer, who was 22 years of age, was found dead in a shell-hole. He was the son of Mr & Mrs William Beech, of 65 Louis Street, Leeds, formerly of Harrogate. Prior to the war he was apprenticed as an outfitter with Messrs W G Allen and Son, Prospect Crescent, Harrogate. He enlisted as a private.

The following are letters and extracts received by the deceased's parents.

Newton Cottage, Chapel Allerton

Leeds, 7th November 1917

My Dear Mr & Mrs Beech, I am sorrier than I can possibly tell you to hear that there is now no doubt that your poor boy Norman was killed on the 9th October. I had hoped against hope that it would turn out that he had been taken out of the battle alive, but apparently it was not to be, and it only remains for me to tender you my heartfelt sympathy in your sorrow. I was wounded myself earlier in the day on the 9th, therefore I have no first-hand information of what happened. I know, however, that I have lost one more first-rate officer. I had a very great regard for your boy, and he had made a really first-rate officer, and he had the confidence and affection of his men to a very marked degree, and that is everything. It was a sad day for the battalion, though it is some consolation to know that the battalion did simply splendidly, and gained a great deal of praise for the determined way in which they fought against heavy odds. That your boy played his full share I know full well. He was full of pluck and quiet courage, and we in the battalion will all feel his loss very keenly. I hope that the knowledge that his was a particularly fine career, in rising from the ranks and winning his decoration so gallantly, and that he did his duty out there more than well for so many months will prove some small consolation to you in your sorrow. Will you please accept again my most sincere sympathy for yourselves and the rest of your family and his poor fiancé, Miss Fortune.

Believe me, yours very sincerely,

H D Bousfield, Lieutenant Colonel, West Yorks.

PS - If you would care for me to come and see you I should be very glad.

!st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge,

Sunday, October 28th, 1917

Dear Miss Beech, My mother has just forwarded your letter to me in hospital, and it has left me at a loss as to what I should really say. After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that it would only be a kindness to you to tell you now that you must not hope to see Norman again. Your brother was in my company when we went over the top at Passchendaele on the morning of October 9th, together with another subaltern called Tyrell, who was killed at the beginning, and died in my arms. We were operating over a rather large area of ground, and soon after the start we had to spread out a good deal. I saw Norman until we were half-way up the ridge, when we came under a heavy machine-gun cross-fire. Here poor Tyrell was mortally wounded next to me, and by the time I had finished attending to him the whole show had altered. We had lost very heavily, and only a few of us reached our objective. I never saw Norman again, and did not hear of him until the evening, when I found one of my sergeants who had been with him, and he told me your brother had been mortally wounded during the advance. I myself was lying for two days in a shell-hole full of water before I got away with about thirty men out of the 150 I took in. The ground we were operating over was so indescribably bad that it was impossible at the time to find men who had been killed and wounded; most of us were up to our waists in mud and water, and had the greatest difficulty in even walking back after we were relieved by the New Zealanders. Our casualties were so heavy and so few of us left at the end that it is most difficult to get any accurate information as to the definite fate of individuals. I feel sure that had your brother pulled through we should have heard before now. This is the most unpleasant duty I have ever had to perform, and I do hope that you will forgive the somewhat cold-blooded way in which I have written. Norman has been in my company for a long time, and I have always had a great admiration for his wonderful courage and cheerfulness in adverse times. He was always most popular with his men, and they would have gone anywhere with him. The last I saw of him was half-way up the Passchendaele Ridge at the head of his platoon smoking a cigarette. I feel most deeply for you, as I know he must have been a great favourite with you all by the amount of correspondence he both received and sent. When men have lived out there for long together they cannot help getting to know a good deal about each other's home lives. I also feel most deeply for Miss Fortune, whose name became so familiar to me, and I know he was always thinking of her. Norman showed me her photo before putting it in his pocket the night before we went into action. Even now I can hardly realise that all these splendid fellows have gone and I am left. This is the second time I have come through an attack after losing both my officers. I am afraid I express myself very badly on paper, and I hope I have not unduly upset you. If it would be any comfort to you or your family I would willingly come over and see you, and tell you anything I can as soon as I get out of hospital. At present I am unable to walk, but hope to be about soon. Please convey to your family my deepest sympathies, and forgive my rather rambling letter.

Yours very sincerely,

Barnet S Bland, Captain.


Lieutenant Monkman says : It is heartbreaking to me to have to destroy the hopes that you will have had that he may be alive, but it is the opinion of us all that he and others with him have added their names to the long list of heroes who have given their lives for their country. I think I have felt his loss more keenly than any of the many chums I have lost in this war. He was in my company when we were both in the ranks, and also since he got his commission, and I grew to regard him as a young brother. He always had the best platoon in the company, and was loved by men and officers alike.


Lieutenant Harold Yates says : We were all so fond of Norman. I used (being a much older man) to admire his courage and fearlessness, and I can only say how sincerely I feel his loss, and express to you all my real heartfelt sympathy of the four C Company officers who went up the line. Besides poor Norman, Tyrell was killed and Captain Bland is in England. I think the reason you have not heard from the battalion is that from what I see from the list nearly all the officers were knocked out.



5th Battalion (Territorial), Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)

Second Lieutenant Norman William Beech

Died : 9th October 1917




In Memory of


Second Lieutenant5th Bn., West Yorkshire Regt. (Prince of Wales's Own)who died onTuesday, 9th October 1917. Age 22.

Additional Information:

Son of William Beech and Eliza Beech, of 16, Savile Rd., Chapeltown Rd., Leeds.


Commemorative Information


TYNE COT MEMORIAL, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Grave Reference/Panel Number:

Panel 42 to 47 and 162


Harrogate Herald – 7th July 1920

Wednesday Gossip

I have an enquiry from the father of Norrie Beech, Second Lieutenant in the 1/5th West Yorks Regiment, presumed killed at Passchendaele in October, 1917. he is anxious to know where his son is buried and thinks that returned soldiers may be able to give him the information. Lieutenant Beech was seen in a shell hole about the time of his presumed death, but there is no information about him after that. If any of my soldier readers could help I shall be pleased to pass on the information to Mr Beech.