Linton Wilfrid Lantaff

Linton Wilfred Lantaff

Born 1897 in Needingworth, Linton was the second eldest of three daughters and two sons born to Emma Lantaff. Linton's mother was unmarried and worked as an agricultural labourer, then as a domestic servant in a hotel. The family lived with Emma's mother, initially in Church Street, Needingworth. By 1911 they had all moved to Kidman's Row, St Ives. Linton was employed as farm worker, aged 14yrs, working for Edward Anderson at Hill Farm.

Linton enrolled probably in early 1915 at Huntingdon and joined the newly-formed 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. After training the Battalion embarked to France on 26 July 1915. Engaged in major battles throughout 1916 and 1917, they gained a reputation as one of the British Army's best units.

In July 1917 the Battle of Passchendaele heralded the start of four months of brutal trench warfare. Attempting to destroy German submarine bases on the Belgium north-east coast, the offensive took place on low-lying land consisting of thick clay soil. Drainage systems had been destroyed in previous battles. The worst rainfall for thirty years meant British forces battled a quagmire of stinking mud that swallowed up men, horses and tanks as much as fighting the Germans. More than 300,000 British and Allied soldiers were killed or wounded.

Passchendaele
Soldiers bring in a casualty from the mud of Passchendaele
The war diary for Linton's Battalion indicates how much of an every day occurrence death and injury was at the Front. Where names of casualties were given in war diaries, these would normally be officers only. It was rare for other ranks to be mentioned, although not uncommon for a record of casualty numbers to be stated. Nowhere in the war diary for Linton's Battalion is there any mention of casualties at all.

The diary states they relocated to the front line on 18 October, completing the move under cover of darkness soon after 8.00pm. The following day they held the line, merely consisting of a series of shell holes filled with water.  Cold and wet, they were subjected to severe gas shelling.

War diary, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
War diary for 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
On Saturday 20 October they continued to defend the position until relieved during the evening. Part of the Battalion was delayed, waiting until daylight to avoid more intense shelling. It was on the 20th October that Linton was killed in action, aged 20yrs. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. The Hunts Post reported his death on 9 November 1917.

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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1901 Census
1911 Census
Medal Rolls Index Card
Medal Rolls Register
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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