Son of Mr. Arthur Boffey and Mrs. Sarah Ann Boffey of 23, Kinsey Street, Congleton, Cheshire and 56, Market Street, New Mills, Derbyshire. In 1901 he lived with his Grandfather John Firth, a Lock Keeper at the New Locks, Church Lawton, Cheshire. He had two sisters Gertrude Alice Annie and Vera. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a Silk Waste Dresser at Sully's Silk Mill.
Private Boffey was one of the 31 Territorials who while serving with the 1/7th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment after enlisting in 1913 volunteered to serve abroad by transferring to the 1/5th Battalion in February 1915. They were attached as a Divisional Pioneer Unit to the 56th (1St London) Division.
The 1/5th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment were in the sector covering the Arras Cambrai road to the Cojeul River, east of Guemappe. The enemy was holding a line west of Bois du Sart, Bois du Vert and the St Rohart Factory. The two forward companies of the Battalion bivouacked in some old trenches in front of Tilloy Wood. From here they had an unpleasant march each night to the neighbourhood of Cavalry Farm. The journey took about one and a half hours and after crossing the Wancourt Line, was frequently interrupted owing to heavy shell fire. As the country was very open it was not easy to find the way in the dark, and the Royal Engineers fixed an acetylene lamp on a high pole at the end of Telegraph Ridge, to act as a beacon for the troops. When returning this lamp represented safety, as there was no shelling beyond it, except on one occasion, when one fell close by the camp and wounded one man. On the 3rd of May, at 03:45 hours a simultaneous attack was made by the Fifth, Third, and First Armies, the objective of the attack being the high ground east of the Bois du Sart, Bois du Vert, St. Rohart and Cherisy. The 56th Division attacked with the 3 rd Division on its left and the 14th Division on its right, the attack being carried out by the 167 and 169 Brigades. The attack was not successful as a whole, although the Division captured Cavalry Farm, which the enemy recaptured in the evening by a counter-attack. During the succeeding fortnight the Division was engaged in minor operations around Cavalry Farm and Tool Trench and during this period the forward companies of the Battalion had a strenuous time in consolidating and improving the advanced trenches, and their communications. The two companies in Arras were employed in repairing the Arras-Cambrai road, which had been badly damaged by shell fire. It was during these operations, that Private Norman Boffey was killed whilst assisting a wounded comrade.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1915.
Private Norman Boffey who, it will be remembered, was among the thirty-one who some weeks ago volunteered for the Front and went across with the 5th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment, has sent several interesting letters to his home in Kinsey Street, from which we call the following extracts.
OUR TURN IN THE TRENCHES.
By the time you get this letter we shall be in the trenches, doing our bit. We are only two miles from the trenches and we are under artillery fire, they have blown a part of a house down. It is quite lively here, with the big guns and aeroplanes. We shall be here a good bit yet, well, until we drive the Germans a bit further away. It is our turn to go in the trenches for four days when the others who are now occupying them have been in the required time.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1917.
Mrs. Boffey received a postcard on Monday the 7th of May stating that her son was in hospital. Our thoughts are ever with our brave lads who are fighting, while mourning those who are no more. Private Norman Boffey who comes under the latter category, having succumbed to gunshot wounds while fighting with the Cheshire Regiment in France. He was one of the now famous Congleton 31. He was a member of the Band of the Congleton Detachment 7th Battalion Cheshire Regiment (under the Late Bandmaster Thomas Louis Stubbs) and acted as Call Boy for the local Fire Brigade. On the very day that he was wounded (May 1st) he wrote home and on the same date a soldier friend wrote to the effect that Private Boffey was wounded and in hospital. He died at No.41 Casualty Clearing Station, France on the 4th of May 1917. The last letter he was destined to write was full to the brim of cheery optimism, his only anxiety being for those at home, which was characteristic of the lad. I am in the best of health, he wrote, and it is a treat to get a bit of nice weather.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Norman.