PRIVATE ALAN YARDLEY
MACHINE GUN CORPS
24TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: CAPELLE-BEAUDIGNIES ROAD, CAPELLE-SUR-ECAILLON, FRANCE
Alan Yardley was 19 and serving with the 3rd Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) when he was killed in action on 24 October 1918 during the Battle of the River Selle . The Germans having withdrawn from the Hindenburg Line had set up a new defensive line to the east of the Selle. On 23 October the British First, Second and Third Armies crossed the Selle and advanced six miles in two days, forcing the Germans to withdraw to a new defensive line at the Sambre-Oise Canal.
Yardley in buried in the Capelle-Beaudignies Road Cemetery where there are only 53 burials, all from a two-week period 21 October to 5 November. More than half the graves relate to the two days 23 and 24 October.
Born in King's Norton, Warwickshire, Yardley was his parents' only son, the eldest of their two children. In 1911 the father, Charles Yardley, was a 'pianoforte agent' in Sheffield. At the time of Alan's death the family were living in Plymouth, Devon and it's in the West Country that Charles Yardley died in 1959 and Bertha Yardley in 1965. This being the case - that the authorities knew where his parents were living - it's strange that Alan Yardley's medals were never delivered. His medal index card just says that they were retained, undisposed. The Service Medal and Award Rolls has the word 'Returned' beside Yardley's name. It was not unknown for next-of-kin to refuse to receive medals, scrolls and memorial plaques. They wanted nothing to do with the authorities who had 'killed' their family member. It looks as though the Yardleys could have been one such family.
Charles Yardley signed for his son's inscription. It comes from Byron's poem 'Don Juan'. However, the quotation had a life of its own apart from the poem since it was frequently used as a fatalistic acceptance of what life had thrown at you.