ZACHARIAH BOOTH 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 291138.
Regiment: 1/7th Bn. Cheshire Regiment Died Thursday 10th October 1918 Age 20County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried BAGHDAD (NORTH GATE) WAR CEMETERY
Grave\Panel Ref: XXI.U.12.
Iraq

Son of Mr. James Booth and Mrs. Hephzibah Booth of Stonehouse, Buglawton, Congleton, Cheshire and 38, Thomas Street, Congleton, Cheshire. He had four sisters, Eliza, Mary Elizabeth, Clara Annie and Catherine Booth, along with two brothers, Jonathan and James Booth. He was employed as a Silk Bobbin Carrier at a Silk Mill.

Private Zachariah Booth enlisted in the 1st/7th Cheshire Regiment at Macclesfield in June 1915.

The beginning of 1917 had been a quiet time for the Cheshire's. They had been resting, in fact working very hard sinking wells in the sand hills near the coast Orders were received for a major attack on Turkish positions on the 26th of March. The Cheshire's were part of 159th Brigade and its role would be to advance on a point called Mansura Ridge, some 2.5 miles south east of Gaza, ready to support the 158th and 160th Brigades. The leading company's moved off at 00:20 hours, It took far longer than expected to march the three miles, due to some hostile shelling and it was midday when the Brigades arrived at the Ridge. The attack had been underway for 10 minutes and the 1St/4th Cheshire's were ordered to advance immediately. The main body of troops was now 1000 yards in front and a considerable amount of " double time " was needed to catch up. The 1st/7th Battalion remained in reserve. The Battalion attacked with its two companies in front, the other two following shortly behind. As soon as they left the shelter of the Ridge, they came under heavy artillery fire. As they advanced through a cornfield, they came under very heavy fire from Turkish troops behind a cactus hedge and from snipers and machine gunners on a hill to the right. The advance could only be continued by a series of short rushes and the various units of the Brigade became mixed. They gradually got to within 200 yards of the enemy. By now British field artillery had been brought forward and was now shelling the Turkish front line. The artillery was also brought to bear on the enemy positions behind the cactus hedge. All the available reserves including the 1st/7th Cheshire's were now thrown into the assault. The extra troops allowed the whole front line to storm forward and capture the positions. The report of the attack by the Cheshire's commander Lieutenant Colonel Swindells concluded the rest was easy ". The area was secured and consolidated by about 16:00 hours Dusk came and no orders came for a move. Outposts were put out towards Gaza. There was complete silence and hardly a shot was fired. The cries of the wounded lying out in the open could be heard but it was impossible to do anything for them as it was most difficult to find them in the darkness and they were scattered over a wide area. In spite of the almost superhuman efforts of the stretcher bearers and others, it proved to be impossible to collect them all and unfortunately a number were subsequently taken prisoners by the Turks. Among these was Private Zachariah Booth who died during captivity. As seemed to happen often on his front, a senior British commander then gave an inexplicable order to withdraw and, as the Regimental History records "At about 20:00 hours, to the amazement, indignation and wrath of all ranks, a withdrawal of infantry began.

Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1918.

Private Zachariah Booth of the 1st/7th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment, was according to Official War Office Lists and the Local Press in the County of Cheshire, certainly not killed in action, and that he most probably died in Turkish hands as a prisoner of war, the fact that he is buried in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery. The casualty list of April/May 1917, records 291138 Private Z. Booth as missing. The June/July list shows him as reported wounded and missing, and therefore there must have been a witness to him being wounded. It is possible that he was in a Regimental Aid Post which was captured by the Turks, during the Battles of Gaza on the 26th/27th of March 1917. There were no communications from Mesopotamia at the time. All communications came through the Swiss Red Cross. All British prisoners of war arrived in Baghdad before transportation to Turkey. They were treated very harshly and on capture it is recorded that most were stripped of any valuables particularly their boots. The Turks were badly equipped and they had very little to treat their own wounded with, never mind their British captives. Therefore, there was a high mortality rate amongst the sick and wounded prisoners and there are a number of Cheshire's who were captured buried in Baghdad.

Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Zachariah.

 

 

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2016