Pte
Michael Francis Stafford Howard

Information about birth

Date of birth:
23/01/1880
Place of birth:
Kensington, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom

General information

Profession:
Farmer

Army information

Country:
England, United Kingdom
Force:
British Expeditionary Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
10246
Enlistment date:
09/02/1917
Enlistment place:
Armoury House, London, England, United Kingdom
Units:
 —  Honourable Artillery Company, 2/1st Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
09/10/1917
Place of death:
Reutel, Beselare, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
37

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

The Hon. Michael Francis Stafford is born in 1880 as one of the ten children of George James Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle and Rosalind Frances Stanley, former residents of Castle Howard. Before the First World War he sees action in the Boer War with the 8th Hussars. After the Boer War he travels the world and marries Nora Hensman in Vernon, BC Canada in 1911. At the start of the First World War he acts as a Lieutenant with the 18th Hussars but was demoted to private and transferred to the East African Mounted Rifles in June 1915. He served in Africa till January 1917. In February 1917 he re-enlists with the Honourable Artillery Company. Shortly after re-enlisting his daughter Geraldine Mary and son Eric Bertram are born.

During the Battle of Passchendaele Private Michael Francis Stafford Howard served in the Honourable Artillery Company 2nd/1st Battalion, part of the 22nd Brigade, of the 7th Division. The 7th Division participated in the Battle of Poelcapelle on 9 October 1917, a stage in the Third Battle of Ypres. It advanced with the 22nd Brigade from east of Polygon Wood towards the village of Beselare. The 22nd Brigade attacked a line north of Reutel, running from a point south of Jolting Houses to a point north of Judge Cottage. The Brigade’s attack was carried by the 2nd Hounourable Artillery Company and the 2nd Royal Warwickshires; the 9th Devons were in reserve. The task of the 2nd Hounourable Artillery Company was to capture the hamlet of Reutel and gain touch with the 5th Division, on the right flank, about Juniper Cottage. The 2nd Warwicks on their left flanks had to capture Judge Copse and Judge Cottage.

The 2nd Hounourable Artillery Company had already suffered heavy casualties due to German shellfire, while assembling for the attack. Over 40 men were either killed or wounded before the attack commenced. When the assault commenced at 5.20. a.m. the German artillery opened up a barrage on the advancing troops, causing considerable damage and heavy machine-gun fire from Judgse Copse enfiladed the troops. Before 6 a.m. only isolated parties reached their objectives. It was not until midday that the Battalion had reached their final objective in the hamlet of Reutel. It cleared part of the cemetery east of the hamlet, but was held up short of Juniper Cottage by machine-gun fire. During the night three platoons of the 9th Devons cleared Judge Copse, thusly securing all the 7th Divison’s objectives. The Germans kept on shelling the captured positions during the rest of the night, but they didn’t counter attack and the positions were further consolidated on the next day.

According to an information panel at Castle Howard there are several accounts of his death. His widow and family understood he was killed by a sniper. In official War Office communication to his sister Cecilia he is reported as missing in action. Among her papers there would also have been a transcript of an account by an unknown fellow soldier, who describes how on the morning of his death Michael volunteered to go into no-man’s land in order to cut barbed wire. On his Service Record he is reported as missing in action, later reported as killed in action. What the real account may be, after the attack he was never seen again and has no known grave. Today he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Files 1

Sources 6

Ancestry
https://www.ancestry.com/
Sources used
Chris McCarthy, 'Passchendaele : The Day-by-Day' London: Unicorn Publishing Group, 2018, p. 118-119.
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/837393/howard,-michael-francis-stafford/#&gid=null&pid=1
Sources used
Howard Dorothy, Michael Howard (typescript, 1960)
Sources used
The long long trail
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used
War Diary
http://www.nmarchive.com/
Sources used