Palmer, Derek William Onslow

2nd Lieut., Derek William Onslow Palmer

Hull Pals Memorial Post. LIEUTENANT DEREK WILLIAM ONSLOW PALMER. Born 5th May 1894 in Brough, East Yorkshire Derek was the third of four children born to Thomas and Edith Palmer. His elder brother, Thomas, had died as an infant leaving Derek as the only surviving son. He was educated at Aysgarth and Winchester before finding work as a Shipping Agent in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in January 1915 and trained throughout that year before shipping to Egypt just before Christmas. The Pals landed in France in March 1916. Derek was killed in action in the small hours of 4th June 1916 as the battalion suffered their first all-out bombardment and were caught in a storm of shells which all but obliterated their front line positions. One shell killed two officers. Second Lieutenant Spink, who was with him, took a direct hit and was blown to pieces. Derek was buried in the mud, blood and bone which, having been thrown up by the explosion, buried him alive. He suffocated to death before anyone could rescue him. Derek William Onslow Palmer is buried at Bertrancourt Military Cemetery, and is commemorated on both the Elloughton War Memorial and the Elloughton Parish Church Brass Commemorative tablet; he was 22 years old. He is also recorded on the Brantingham Bronze table ww1 Memorial which lists 12 men.

By all accounts, he was the most popular officer in the battalion. Derek William Onslow Palmer left a fortune of £33,111 in his will, making him a 22 year old millionaire, by today’s currency. He would no doubt have enjoyed his life, but sacrificed this to do his duty.

Derek Onslow William Palmer 1894-1916

The only son of Thomas William Palmer and Edith Fiennes Palmer of Brough, Yorkshire, on his mother’s side he could claim to be Founder’s Kin. He came to Winchester from Mr. Brooksbank’s school at Aysgarth but left after two years. The College records do not say why he left early or what he did before his commission in 1914.

He was gazetted on August 29th 1914, to the East Yorkshire Regiment and late in the following year sailed for Egypt. They were ordered to France in February 1916, and Palmer was killed in the front line trenches at Bertrancourt on 4th June 1916. David Bilton’s “The Trench”, published by Pen & Sword in 2002, states that Palmer was “the most popular officer in the battalion” and that he was buried alive and suffocated to death.

His mother, living at Magdala House, Beverley, received the following telegram on June 7th 1916: Deeply regret to inform you that Lieut. D.W.O. Palmer 10th East Yorks Regt. was killed in action June 4th. The Army Council express their sympathy. On June 12th Palmer’s personal effects were forwarded home: 3 Rings. Gold. 1 Gold Cigarette case. 1 Silver Brandy Flask. 1 Pencil. Gold case. 2 Photographs. 1 Regimental brooch and pendant in case. 1 Pencil. 1 Pocket Medicine Case. Laurels. 1 Small pocket case contg. 7 Photos 2 Cuff Links Gold locket & Chain Receipt for insurance premium Letters 1 Webley Revolver No. 173789.


First name:
1st Lieutenant
Date Died
Place died:
Bertrancourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France