Herbert, known as Isaac within the family, was born in 1899, and according to family tradition, helped his father as the village roadman before the war – this was in the days before the County Council took responsibility for village roads. With no surviving records, it is impossible to say when he enlisted. However, it is likely that it was between late 1917 and early 1918. Equally, we do not know for certain which unit he enlisted into, but his medal card shows that he served with both the 1st/5th Durham Light Infantry, and with the 15th Battalion. By the time he filled in his Will in his Army Pay Book, in June 1918, he was with the 15th.
Isaac died on the 15th August 1918 – not in battle, because the battalion’s war diary refers not to fighting, but to days spent in training and preparation at that time. It was in the advanced line, but in reserve, and dug in near the village of Auchonvillers, near Albert on the Somme. It was roughly where the British army had been two years previously, immediately before the bloodbath of 1st July 1916.
Nor do we know why Isaac has no known grave. There was no confusion of battle at the time, nor would his grave have been overrun by a later enemy advance. Perhaps he took a direct hit from a shell? Or maybe his grave was simply not properly marked, and therefore, when the War Graves Commission built the permanent cemeteries after the war, he became one of the unidentified – ‘Known Unto God’. His is remembered on the graceful art deco memorial at Vis-en-Artois, built in 1930 to commemorate the 9834 men who fell in the area between the Somme and Loos during the advance to victory.