Lieutenant William Black Noble | 6th Northumberland Fusiliers

'His name is recorded on the Menin Gate'.

My great-uncle Lieutenant William Black Noble was killed on 26th April 1915 at the second battle of Ypres in an engagement known as the Battle of St Julien. 

The brigade had arrived in Belgium by boat only a few days beforehand and had then moved up to Ypres by train and on foot. At about 2pm on the 26th the 6th Battalion entered battle. They came under heavy fire on ground that had not been previously reconnoitred and at an early stage of the battle Lt Noble was killed. 

It is thought that Lt Noble was buried near the Wieltje Road, but he has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Menin Gate.

I had been thinking of visiting the trenches round Ypres for some years but had been unable to decide whether to go on a coach tour or to drive myself. I contacted my brothers-in-law, who had been previously, and they strongly recommended that I approach Andy. 

Andy jumped at the chance to show my wife and me around, and immediately started researching my uncle and putting together a suggested programme. I had already carried out some research myself, but Andy managed to find significant quantities of further information and was able to locate the precise area where my uncle would have been killed.

Our visit to Ypres in April 2023 coincided with ANZAC day and Andy was able to weave this into our programme. We attended the presentation of new standards at St George’s Memorial Church, the ANZAC ceremony at dawn at Polygon Wood and laid a wreath at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Andy took us to the area where my uncle was killed and to the nearby cemetery where he is probably buried. 

We also visited Hooge Crater and Hill 60, as well as the Commonwealth Memorial at Tyne Cot and the German Memorial at Langemark. We were deeply affected by what we saw and surprised at the vast number of small and large cemeteries and memorials in all the villages.

Andy was the perfect guide. He had researched everything that might be of personal interest to us as well as putting together a tour round the better-known sites. He provided us with the benefit of his considerable knowledge of the battles and the area but did not intrude on our moments of personal reflection. 

Had we gone on our own, we would have missed much of the history, and if we had joined a coach tour, we would have spent much time looking at sites that were not of personal interest. 

I cannot recommend Andy Burcher too highly.

Air Commodore Miles Williamson-Noble RAF (Retd). 


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