Lt. Wilfred Littleboy and the Park that bears his name

Lt. Wilfred Littleboy and the Park that bears his name

Stockton born Wilfred Evelyn Littleboy, buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery, was an officer in the 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire. He was killed during the abortive attack on the Polderhoek Chateau on 9 October 1917.

Born in Stockton on 26 September 1896, Wilfred was the youngest son of Charles William Littleboy, a shipbuilder in the town, and his wife Agnes Eveline. The family moved from their home in Stockton to ‘The Woodlands’ in Saltburn when Wilfred was about 4 years old. He began his education in York and then in 1909 he went on to Rugby School where he was a boarder until December 1914 when he left to join the army. He was a keen rugby player and played in the first XV in 1913 and 1914.  He was also a Cadet Officer in the Officer Training Corps in his last term.

With the outbreak of Great War in August 1914 Wilfred was keen to do his bit so he gave up his school earlier than had been intended and enlisted in the 13th (Reserve) Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He received his commission in January 1915, being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the following November.

Due to a knee injury which delayed his being sent to overseas, Wilfred was  assigned to the 33rd Training Reserve Battalion where he found congenial work as a Range Officer. He eventually left for France in July 1917 and was posted to the 16th Battalion of his regiment. After a tour of duty in the front line, Wilfred’s platoon (5 platoon, B Company) was presented with the silver cup for the best-trained platoon in the 5th Division. The competition took place in France in September, 1917 – approximately four weeks later Wilfred would be dead.

In October 1917 the Battalion received orders to attack the strongly defended Polderhoek Chateau, near Gheluvelt. Wilfred went forward with his platoon in line with the first wave. He was hit in the leg, but still pressed on with the attack, only to be hit again and killed. Lieutenant Wilfred Evelyn Littleboy fell on October 9 1917, aged 21. The 16th battalion lost 417 officers and men on this day.

Wilfred is buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery XII H 4.

After the war his mother visited the area around Gheluvelt trying to locate her son’s final resting place. With the help of the local priest, Father Delrue, and two of his assistants she managed to find Wilfred’s grave. When she  asked if she could repay the Father for his help he replied, ‘For me nothing, but for my church…’  The church received two large sums of money shortly afterwards and since then there has been a plaque in the church dedicate to the memory of Lt. Wilfred Eveline Littleboy.

As a further memorial to their son, Wilfred’s parents donated a plot of land to the town of  Thornaby-on-Tees. The area known as Littleboy Park was opened to the public as a recreational park by his mother, Agnes in 1930.