VILLAGES AT WAR

 

 

 

ASTON WAR MEMORIAL 1914- 1918

 

Thomas ALDRIDGE

G/44028 

Private

17th Middlesex Regiment (1st Football)

(6th Brigade. 2nd Division)

Died Of Wounds on the 26th June 1917 aged 31 .

Thomas was the son of Edward & Isabella Aldridge. Prior to joining the Army he worked as a Horsekepper on a local farm.

He was taken prisoner by the Germans and held in the Niederzwehren camp where conditions were almost intolerable. Many prisoners were only given very rudimentary treatment for any wounds they had received and it is believed that Thomas died due to inappropriate treatment of his injuries.

Thomas is buried in the Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany. (4.B.1.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Fred ALLEN

28647

Lance Corporal

4th Grenadier Guards

(4th Guards Brigade. 31st Division)

Missing In Action on the 12th April 1918.

Fred was posted to France in July 1917 and served continuously on the Western Front.

At dawn on the 12th April 1918 the Battalion arrived at the village of L’Epinette. Due to the fact that there were insufficient tools the companies were not well dug in and were highly vulnerable to German machine gun and light artillery fire. A devastating barrage rained down on the troops and there was heavy fighting in the area. As a result the Battalion suffered a 90% casualty rate.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Belgium. (Panel 1.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 

James Frederick ANSELL

330303

Private

15th Sherwood Foresters

(Attached to the 105th Trench Mortar Battery)

Missing In Action on the 14th October 1918 aged 36.

James lived at Aston End with his brother, Walter, and Sister-In-Law, Rose. Prior to the Great War he was employed by the Hertfordshire County Council as a Roadman and was responsible for the upkeep of the Aston to Broadwater route.

He joined the Army in 1915 and was posted to France in 1917 as part of a Trench Mortar Battery.  Shortly after the commencement of a German attack on the 14th October 1918 a shell fell close to an ammunition cart that was being pulled by six men, including James. He was hit and mortally wounded and died shortly after.

James has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 99/102.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Thomas Charles CANFIELD

16911

Private

" A" Company. 7th Bedfordshire Regiment

(54th Brigade. 18th (Eastern) Division)

Died Of Wounds on the 17th July 1916 aged 19.

Thomas was the son of Thomas & Ada Canfield of Lilac Villa, School Lane, Aston. 

He arrived in France on the 30th August 1915 where his Battalion was to become involved in the heavy fighting in the Somme Sector at the opening of the battle on the 1st July 1916. On the 13th & 14th July the Battalion were in support of an attack by the 18th Divison in which they captured Trones Wood. It is believed that Thomas was wounded in this attack and died a few days later as a result of his injuries. 

He is buried in the Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (1.B.5.)

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 

George Augustus CARTER

30203

Private

2nd East Lancashire Regiment

(24th Brigade. 8th Division)

Killed In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 35.

( Formerly 28097 Norfolk Regiment )

 

George was the eldest son of Edward & Emma Carter of Aston End. He was one of three brothers who were serving during the war both of  whom were, at the time of his death, Prisoners of War. He was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Battle of  Passchendaele, which was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November. 

The offensive resulted in gains for the Allies but was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The village of St. Juliaan lies on the Hanebeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 31st July the Battalion attack was set to commence at 3.50am and their objective was the German trenches at Bellewarde Ridge. Although the Battalion managed to reach it’s objective quite quickly their supporting troops, the men of the 17th Manchester Regiment, were held up and as a result the right flank was exposed. The Germans quickly exploited this advantage and attacked the Battalion with heavy machine gun fire, causing considerable casualties. A total of 92 men were either killed or missing, one of whom was George Carter.

He is buried in the Aeroplane Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. (2.C.39.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal 

 


 

John CHARLTON

86232

Lance Corporal

No.4 Company. Royal Army Medical Corps

Died on the 28th February 1919 aged 28.

John Charlton was born in Chillingham, Northumberland in 1892. He moved with his mother, Mary Jane Charlton, and his brother, George Penrose Charlton, to St.Stephens Cottage, Aston, where their mother was a local school mistress. Before joining the Army John was employed as collector by the Pearl insurance Company although his trade was as a Journalist. He married Nellie Davidge on the 17th April 1915 and on the 21st July 1916 their son, Harold John was born. The family lived at 72 Ickelford Road, Hitchin.

John was attested for service in the Army on the 15th June 1916 and was mobilised on the 6th November of the same year. He was not a healthy man as his medical examination revealed. He was of very slight build, had poor eyesight, deformed toes on his left foot, a goitre on his upper dentures and his overall physical condition was described as poor. John was given the medical catergory BII and attached to No.4 Company, Royal Army Medical Corps based at Netley. On the 29th April 1917 John was posted to France where he served in the No.58 General Hospital at St.Omer as a Sanitary Orderly.

John died from Septic Pneumonia whilst at home on leave on the 28th February 1919 and is buried in the St.Mary Churchyard, Aston.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 

Ernest Albert DRAPER

39546

Private

1st Essex Regiment

(112th Brigade. 37th Division)

Killed In Action on the 23rd August 1918.

(Formerly M/304620 Army Service Corps)

Ernest was the husband of Louisa Draper (nee Leggett) who lived with his in-laws at Admirals Walk, Hoddesdon. At the outbreak of the Great War he enlisted at Broxboune and his trade as Coachman led him into service in the Army Service Corps. He was later transfered into the Essex Regiment and served on the Western Front.

On the 23rd August 1918 the Battalion were positioned in Halifax Trench near the village of Fonquevillers, in the Somme sector. At 3.50am they moved to forward positions near Achiet Le Petit in readiness for an assault on German trenches near the village. As the attack got under way they were met with very heavy enemy artillery, machine gun and rifle fire. This soon held up the assault and support was requested from British Tanks. Only one Tank was available and this was used to quell some of the enemy fire, which it managed to successfully achieve. However, the Battalion had suffered considerable casualties with 4 Officers and 86 Other Ranks either Killed or Missing.

Edward is buried in the Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, France. 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


 

Henry Collins DRAPER

5433

Corporal

64th Company.  Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)

Missing In Action on the 14th July 1916 aged 20 .

(Formerly15592 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Henry was the son of William John & Elizabeth Sarah Draper of St Pringes Cottage, Aston. After leaving school he worked as a Garden Labourer.

On the 14th July 1916 , shortly after the commencement of the Battle of the Somme, the Battalion were located in a place called Bottom Wood. Here they were in support of an attack by the 110th Infantry Brigade on Mametz Wood. It is not known at which point Henry Draper was killed but the action on this day was very intense.

Henry has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 5C.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


William Harmer EYDEN

22454

Private

3rd Battalion. Grenadier Guards

(2nd Guards Brigade. Guards Division)

Died Of Wounds on the 26th September 1916 aged 30.

 

William was the son of William & Sarah Ann Eyden of Fishers Green. He was killed at the Battle of Morval during the Somme offensive.

On the 24th September the battalion formed up in the assembly trenches in front of Ginchy. Regimental records show the trenches were so narrow that the men could not sit or lie down in them and had to remain shoulder to shoulder until the following day when, at 12.35, they attacked Ginchy. The assault was held up by uncut wire and four officers went forward to try and cut it by hand. The battalion, led by NCOs, then charged through the gap to take the objective but the cost was high with William being amongst the wounded. He died the next day as a result of his injuries.

William is buried in the St.Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. (B.23.59.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Walter GATES

122721

Driver

66th Divisional Ammunition Column.  Royal Field Artillery

Died on the 8th October 1918 aged 21.

 

 

Walter was the youngest son of James & Eliza Gates of Park Farm, Aston. He had been married to Elsie Bryant for two years at the time of his death and the couple lived at 52 Alleynes Road, Stevenage. He had formerly been employed as a gardener at Shephall Bury gardens.

Walter died of pneumonia at a French hospital on 8th October 1918, possibly as a result of contracting influenza. His name is also recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial.

He is buried in the Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (3.A.25.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 

Alexander John GREGORY

200506

Corporal

1/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 10th October 1917 aged 32.

Alexander was the son of John & Sarah Jane Gregory and was to lose his life in the closing stages of one of the  major British offensives, The Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive had been launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The area had suffered the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with intensive shelling from both sides, had turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 9th October 1917 the Battalion were located in two trenches called Canopus Trench and Califonia Drive, near a point called Winchester Farm, approximately 2 miles East of Paschendale. They had been in the Front Line since the 27th September and had been fighting in terrible conditions. The following day the Battalion occupied shell holes near the village of Arbre under extremely trying conditions. It is not know at what point Alexander Gregory was killed but it is believed he may have been the victim of artillery fire.

His body was never been recovered and he has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 105/106.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Frank GREGORY

253026

Private

“B” Company. 10th Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regiment)

Missing In Action on the 2nd September 1918 aged 27.

Frank was the son of John B. & Sarah Gregory. After his fathers death his mother remarried and lived at The Moorhen's Inn, Hitchin Hill, Hitchin..

On the 11th May 1912 Frank, aged 22, sailed from Liverpool aboard the the White Star liner Laurentic on passage for Quebec. He settled in the farmland province of Saskatchewan where he remained until the 31st May 1916 when joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.

On the 1st September 1918 the Battalion was holding Support Postions in Cherisy in preparation for an attack on German positions in Villers Les Cagnicourt. It had been decided to keep the men of the Battalion in their billets until the very last moment in order to allow them as much rest as possible. The plan then called for the men of the 10th Battalion to pass through the 7th Battalion as they approached the German positions, in order to keep attacking troops as fresh as possible. This, however, proved dificult to achieve as the Battalion had no guides to assist them and each Company was reliant on its Officers to steer them in the darkness, using only compasses. Despite this setback, the Battalion managed to reach the edge of Upton Wood by 08.00am, where it rested for a short period before advancing. "B" Company, which was under the command of Major L J Carey MC, was on the right flank of the attack.

By 08.45am the attack had come to a halt due to the ferocity of the German defence which combined the use of artillery, trench mortars and machine guns.The four Tanks that had been allocated to the attack had, by now, been knocked out and Battalion casualties were very high. At one point, every available man was taken from the HQ Company and thrown into the attack in order to bolster the rising casualties and it was not until 11.00pm that the attack came to a halt. "B" Company, despite its Commanding Officer being wounded, played a significant part in the capture of the objectives, although their losses were high, including Private Frank Gregory.

Frank Gregory is buried in the Upton Wood Cemetery, Hendecourt Les Cagnicourt, France. (Grave F.15)

   

Edwin Henry PALLETT

41635

Private

8th King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Missing In Action on the 27th September 1918 aged 19 .

Edwin was the son of Frederick & Annie Pallett of Aston End.

On the 27th September 1918 the Battalion were in position north of the village of Havrincourt in preparation for an assault on extremely well defended German positions known as the Hindenberg Line. As the troops assembled in preparation for the attack their positions were heavily shelled by German artillery, causing some casualties. As soon as the assault commenced there was strong German resistance, with their artillery firing over open sights and the Battalion suffered heavy casualties.  Eventually, the Battalion did manage to consolidate a position near the village of Flesquiere but it had been at a heavy price.

It is not known at which point Edwin lost his life but his body was never found and he has no known grave, His name is recorded on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas De Calais, France. (Panel 3.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Charles Frederick PARKER

16968

Sergeant

“B” Company. 1st Bedfordshire Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 3rd September 1916 aged 28 .

Charles was the son of David & Sarah Parker of Frogmore Hall, Watton At Stone.

He arrived in France on the 22nd December 1914. On the evening of 2nd September 1916 the Battalion was positioned in Silesia Trench near the village of Maricourt in the Somme sector of the Western Front when a German artillery shell burst on the parapet of the trench. An officer stated that they shell was not of any type they had seen before in that it formed no crater and burned with a reddish light. Nine men of “B” Company were wounded by the resulting explosion including Charles Parker. Although evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station he died the following day, as a result of his injuries.

He is buried in the Dive Copse British Cemetery, Somme, France. (2.H.19.) 

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Joseph PATERNOSTER

14130

Sergeant

2nd Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on 16th June 1915 aged 30.

Joseph was the only son of George & Sarah Paternoster of Brookfield Cottage, Aston.  He was posted to France on the 25th May 1915 and reached the Battalion with a group of reinforcements on the 5th June. He was to lose his life just a few days later.

Between the 15th & 17th June 1915 the Battalion were involved in very heavy fighting ------- and were located at Windy Corner. On the 16th June they were ordered to attack enemy positions located ----. Zero hour was set for 4.45am and as soon as they began to leave their trenches they came under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire. They managed to reach a crater near the German positions and were involved in what was described as “spirited” close range fighting. The German infantry made a heavy grenade attack and eventually the attack had to be called off.  The Battalion suffered a total of 50 men killed or missing between the 15th & 17th June and it was estimated that on the 16th June at least 50% of the Battalion had become casualties even before they had reached the British wire.

Joseph has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France. (Panel 10/11.) 

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 


Leonard SPRIGGINS

6956

Private

1st Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 22nd October 1914 aged 36.

Leonard was the son of James & Louisa Spriggins and the husband of Ellen Elizabeth Spriggins. He enlisted in the Army on the 10th April 1901 and served in South Africa between January and February 1902, just at the closing stages of the Boer War. The Battalion then moved to India and Leonard served with it until December 1908, when he returned to the UK. He was transfered to the Army Reserve in June 1909 and and was recalled to the colours at the outbreak of WW1. He was to become the first man from the local villages to lose his life on the Western Front.

On the 22nd October 1914 the Battalion were positioned in Givenchy. They were ordered to move to Chappelle St. Roch to assist the 13th Infantry Brigade in an attack on the village of Voilaines. The attack, despite considerable effort, was not successful and eventually the Brigade was ordered to fall back. However, it seems that the fall back was not co-ordinated and became confused with troops rejoining the Battalion all throughout the night and early next day. It is not known exactly what happened to Leonard Spriggins but it can only be assumed that he lost his life during the confusion of battle.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France. ( Panel 10/11.) 

Medal Entitlement: Queens South Africa (Orange Free State, Transvaal & 1902 Bars), 1914 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

(My Thanks To Dave Goble For Providing Additional Information)

 

 

Henry James WILSON

110612 

Private

19th Battalion. Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry)

Died on the 16th October 1918 aged 23.

 

Henry was the son of Martha & Henry Wilson of 4 Albert Street and was employed in Stevenage as a Policeman. He joined the Hertfordshire Yeomanry in May 1915 as Private 2425. He arrived in Egypt on the 16th November 1915 and was later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. Henry died of Enteritis on the 16th October 1918 aged 23. His parents later lived at Bragbury End and thus his name is also recorded on the Aston war memorial and both of these show Henry as serving in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, which was his original unit.

Henry is buried in the Beirut War Cemetery, Lebanon. (Grave 38.) 

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

  ASTON WAR MEMORIAL 1939 - 1945

 

 

William Arthur Kenneth BOTT

D/JX555308

Able Seaman

Royal Navy

HMS President III  (HMS Samaustral)

Drowned on the 19th October 1945 aged 20.

William was born in Frien Barnet on the 17th June 1925 the son of William & Lillian Bott. He was accidentally drowned at Maputo, Mozambique on the 19th October 1945 whilst his ship was at harbour in Delagoa Bay at the southern extremity of the country.

He is the only British serviceman to be buried in the Maputo Cemetery, Mozambique. (Special Memorial Grave. 7583.)

 

 

 

NAMES NOT RECORDED ON THE ASTON WAR MEMORIAL

The individuals listed below are known to have been born, resided in, or associated with the village.

 

David CHALKLEY

8433

Lance Corporal

1st Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 4th September 1916 aged 34.

David was born in Aston. He arrived in France with his Battalion on the 16th August 1914 and served almost continuously on the Western Front.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

He has no know grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.(Pier and Face 2 C )

Medal Entitlement: 1914 Star & Clasp, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Herbert C COOPER

2620

Private

" C" Company. 9th East Surrey Regiment

Killed In Action on the 2nd November 1915 aged 18

Herbert was the son of local chimney sweep William Cooper and his wife Susanah.  

He enlisted in 1914 and was posted to the Western Front on the 5th October 1915. He had only been in France for five weeks when he was shot by a sniper whilst replacing sandbags on a parapet in front of a support trench.

Herbert is buried in the Spoilbank Cemetery, Belgium.

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Frederick TAVENOR

266175

Private

2nd/1st Battalion. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

Missing In Action on the 19th July 1916 Aged 26.

 

Frederick was the son of George and Eliza Tavenor, of Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Beds.  At the time of his detah he was a resident of Aston.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

He has no know grave and his name is recorded on the Loos Memorial. (Panel 83 to 85)

 



BENINGTON WAR MEMORIAL 1914 - 1918

 

 

Arthur James AVIS

G/14397

Private

7th East Kent Regiment

Killed In Action on the 17th December 1918 aged 18.

Arthur was the son of Alfred & Alice Avis of Coles Green, Benington.

On the 17th December 1918, a month after the armistice, the Battalion were located in the village of Malicourt. Arthur was a member of a working party involved in salvage work around the village, recovering munitions. One of the members of the working party dropped a 3” German Minenwerfer which exploded and instantly killed seven men and wounded a further twenty-five. Later that day, six of these wounded men died from their injuries.  The funerals of those who died took place at 2.15pm on the 18th December.

Arthur is buried in the Honnechy British Cemetery, France. (1. B. 4.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Charles Albert BENNETT

106997

Gunner

323rd Siege Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery.

Killed Accidentally on the 5th December 1917.

On the 5th December 1917 the Battery were in position near the village of Maroc and were firing on German artillery positions, with the aid of air observation. Charles Bennett was manning No.3 gun which was described as “practically new”. At 10.10am the gun suffered a “premature”, which is the detonation of an artillery shell whilst still in the breach. The resulting explosion killed Charles Bennett and wounded the remainder of the crew.

Those wounded were;

29701      Corporal  Harry Eaton

163421    Gunner    William W Adam

74931      Gunner    Norman Beswick

123001    Gunner    James W Burns

323068    Gunner    James D Whyte

Charles is buried in the Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, British Extension, Pas De Calais, France. (4. G. 1.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

George Henry CANNON

TR/135766 

Private

16 Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Died on the 15th November 1917 aged 19.

George was the son of George & Mary Cannon.  It is believed that he died whilst in training and did not serve overseas.

He is buried in St.Peters churchyard, Benington.

 

 

A T COLLINS

 

There were a number of casualties during WW1 with the same surname and initials. The author would be grateful for any information that could assist in identifying this man.

 

 


Frederick COLLINS

17725

Private

6th Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 15th July 1916 aged 21 .

Frederick was the son of Rose Colllins of Burrs Green, Benington.

He was killed in an attack on the village of Pozieres during the Battle of the Somme. The attack was headed by the 8th East Lancashire Regiment and supported by the both the 6th Bedfordshire's and the 11th Warwickshire Regiment. Initially, the advance went unopposed but as the two forward battalions went over the crest of the Chalk Pitt they were held up by heavy and accurate machine gun fire. The Bedford’s were forced to dig in about 100 yards from Liniere. Later, it was found that their attack had failed and they had suffered some 244 casualties with 3 Officers and 32 O/R's killed and a further 25 O/R's Missing, including

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 2C.) 

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


William Stanley DRAPER

330769

Private

1st Cambridgeshire Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 4th July 1918

On the 4th July 1918 the Battalion were located in Martinsart in the Somme sector. They had taken over these positions from the 6th Queens Regiment on the 22nd June and were involved in a minor operation to capture machine guns and prisioners. Once they went forward they came under heavy fire from both machine Guns and Trench Mortars. Eventually, after three hours they were forced to return to their positions after 1 Officer and 3 Other Ranks had been wounded. One of these was William Draper who lost his battle for life later that day.

William is buried in the Harponville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. (Grave E.13.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Henry Victor  FARDELL

10699

Corporal

7th Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died on the 17th August 1918.

Henry Victor Fardell was born in the winter of 1894 in the village of Therfield. His connection with the village of Benington has not been established but it is believed that he may have worked in the area.

He died whilst a Prisoner of War in Germany on the 17th August 1918. 

Buried at the Sarralbe Military Cemetery, Moselle, France (D. 23.)

 

 


Harry FOX

87040

Bombardier

62nd Brigade H.Q. Royal Field Artillery

Died 14th November 1918 aged 30.

Harry was born in Manton Downs, Devizes, Wiltshire and lived at High Elms, Benington with his wife, Elizabeth (nee Cox), and their two daughters, Florence and Rose where he worked as a Farm Labourer.

He enlisted in the Army at Hertford.

Buried in Brebieres British Cemetery, Pas, de Calais, France. (Grave F3.)

 

 

 


Joseph FROST

13213

Lance Corporal

10th Essex Regiment
Died of Wounds on the 1st July 1916 aged 24.

Joseph Frost was the son of Nathaniel & Bertha Frost of 9 Burrs Green, Benington. He was born in the village of Newport, Essex and had enlisted in Saffron Walden.

The Battalion was part of the 53rd Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division and had moved forward from the village of Carnoy in preparation for an attack South-West of Montauban. At 07.30 a mine was blown at a place called Casino Point and it is recorded by the Regimental historians that the air was filled with debris, injuring some of the men. The Battalion then assaulted Pommiers Ridge along with the 7th Bedfordshire Regiment and the 11th Royal Fusiliers, and managed to reach a position known as White Trench.

It is uncertain at what point Joseph was injured but he died later that day as a result of his wounds.

Joseph is buried in the La Neuville British Cemetery, Corbie. (I.A.34)

Medal Entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Reginald Anthony HARGREAVES

2/Lieutenant

4th Durham Light Infantry

( Attached to 2nd Durham Light Infantry )

Missing In Action on the 28th June 1917 aged 21.

Reginald was born on the 28th June 1896 the son of Richard Tattersall & Elinor Hargreaves of The Old Rectory, Benington Park. He was educated at Stanstead Hall and later, between May 1910 and July 1914, at Radley College. He joined the Army on the 28th September 1914 and arrived in France on the 1st June 1915.

On the 28th October 1915 Reginald was in charge of fatigue posts at St.Jean, part of the defences at Potijze. Here he received a shell wound to his back and was put out of action. He returned to the Battalion in time to serve with it during the Somme offensives and was again wounded on the 25th September 1916, this time by shell fragments in his face which knocked him to the ground injuring his ankle. He returned to his unit on the 8th December 1916 and on the 17th January 1917 received further wounds, this time whilst serving in the Cambrin sector.

On the 28th June 1917, his 21st Birthday, he was chosen to lead two parties, consisting of 2 Sergeants, 4 Corporals and 36 Privates, in a raid on German trenches, south-east of Cameron Crater.  The raiders waited in a trench called Novel Alley whilst the British artillery laid down a barrage. At 7.10pm, as soon as the barrage lifted they jumped into the enemy trenches and as he led his men forward he was shot in the head at close range.

Reginald has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Loos Memorial. 

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 


William James HAWKINS

33618

Private

5th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Died on the 5th April 1918 aged 22

(Formerly 5825 Hertfordshire Regiment)

 

 

William was born on the 22nd September 1896, the son of Charles and Emma Hawkins of Old School Green, Benington and enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 13th November 1915.

He embarked for France on the 5th July 1916 and was posted to the 6th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the 7th September 1916. William was then posted to the 6th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the 10th September 1917 and his Service Number changed to 33618. His last leave was from the 26th October to 6th November 1917. He was then posted to the 5th Battalion of the same Regiment on the 10th February 1918.

William was wounded and taken Prisoner on the 21st March 1918, the first day of the German Spring Offensive on the Western Front. He died at 3.45pm on the afternoon of the 5th April 1918 from gunshot wounds at the Charleville War Hospital near Limburg in Germany, after being held for only two weeks. He was originally buried in the Hospital Grounds in Grave 617.

William is buried in the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France. (17.F.1.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Thomas HUNT

PRIVATE

Thomas Hunt was the son of Annie Hunt a widow who lived at Boxall Farm, Benington. He was born in Bourn, Cambridgeshire.

There were a number of casualties during WW1 with the same surname and initials. The author would be grateful for any information that could assist in identifying this man.

 

 

 


Percival John KITCHENER

G/71766 

Private

23rd Middlesex Regiment

Killed In Action on 19th August 1918 aged 33.

 

Percival was the son of Charles & Sarah Kitchener, a local Grocer, of the Post Office Stores, Benington. Prior to joining the Army he worked as a Carpenter.

He was killed when his Battalion relieved American troops near the town of Kemmel.

He is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. (25.C.23A.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Gerald Desmond MILLS MID

Major

19 Squadron. Royal Flying Corps

Killed In Action on the 19th May 1917 aged 26.

Mills

The youngest son of Canon Mills of Benington Rectory. Educated at Haileybury College and later at Sandhurst. Gerald was commissioned into the Notts & Derbys Regiment in October 1910. His elder brother, 2/Lt. G.E.Mills had been killed in action with the 1st Battalion of the Notts. & Derbys Regiment at Moedwil on the 30th September 1901 during the Boer war.

Gerald served for over three years in India and returned to the UK in March 1914 to join the RFC. On the 7th April 1915 he went to France as a Flight Commander with No.7 Squadron. He was flying RE5 737 on 28 April 1915, with Lt Murray as observer, when he was involved in combat with an LVG. On 21 July 1915, he was flying RE 5 2458 with 2Lt R C McPherson as observer when he fought an unidentified enemy aircraft. On 18 September 1915, he was flying RE5 2457 with 2Lt Layton as observer when he was attacked by a Fokker. On 26 September 1915, again in 2457 with 2Lt Layton, Capt Mills had a fight with an Albatros 2 miles south of Lille.

He returned as an instructor at Central Flying School in January 1916 and was gazetted a Squadron Commander in April of that year. On 16 November 1916, flying a single seat Bristol Scout, Capt Mills attacked an Albatros over the Forest d'Houthulst. He fired one round from his Lewis gun before it jammed. Being unable to clear his weapon, he was forced to break off the combat.

After being appointed to the Air Board office in March 1917 he applied to return to active service and he returned to France on the 15th May 1917 with 19 Squadron based at Vert Galand. Four days after he arrived in France Gerald was killed in an accident whilst flying a Spad S7 (A6749).

He is buried at Doullens Cemetery, France. 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Mills 

Ernest William Stephen MAYES

14864

Private

1st Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed In Action on the 19th June 1915 aged 24.

Ernest was the son of Herbert & Jane Elizabeth Mayes. The same shell killed both him and another Benington resident, Jack Warner, as they slept in a trench.

Ernest is buried in the Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. (2.H.4.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 


Henry Mark RUDDOCK

73832

Private

28th Canadian Infantry

Missing In Action on the 15th September 1916 aged 21.

Henry was born on the 16th December 1895 the only son of Reverand Mark & Annie Ruddock of Ardley vicarage. He was to become a Farrier by trade and joined the Canadian army on the 23rd October 1914.

On the 15th September 1916 the Battalion were involved in an assault on the village of Courcelette where it suffered the loss of 10 Officers and 300 Other Ranks in this engagement.

Henry has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Vimy Memorial, France.

 


 

Charles WARNER

G/15355

Private

8th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment

Killed In Action on the 15th May 1917 aged 26.

On the 15th May 1917 the Battalion were positioned in trenches near the village of Brandhoek. The Unit War Diary states that it was a quiet day until about 8pm when their positions were bombarded by very heavy trench mortar fire. The attack resulted in heavy damage to the trench system, the wounding of one man and the death of another, Charles Warner.

Charles is buried in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Zillebeke, Belgium. (Special Memorial E.18.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Reginald Jack WARNER

15882

Private

1st Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the19th June 1915 aged 24.

Reginald was the son of David & Mary Ann Warner of Church Hill, Benington. Both he and fellow villager, Ernest Mayes, were killed by the same shell as they slept in a trench.

Reginald has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 31/33.)

 

 

 


William WARNER

36512

Private

6th Royal Berkshire Regiment

(Attached to 2/2nd London Regiment)

Missing In Action on the 24th April 1918 aged 30.

 

William was the son of William & Louisa Warner of Rectory Gate, Benington.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

William has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France. (Panel 56/57.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


BENINGTON WAR MEMORIAL 1939 - 1945

 

Alec John BOLTER  DFC

184364

Flying Officer

Pilot

49 Squadron.  Royal Air Force

Killed In Action on the 8th January 1945 aged 26.

Alec Bolter lived in Benington before the war and was educated at Alleynes School. He played cricket for the school and was a member of the 2nd XI. He also had a passion for chess and was later to become secretary of the schools chess & draughts club. On leaving school he joined Reekes & Goode of Hertford and in less than three years had become a licentiate of the Institute of Auctioneers and Estate agents, having passed his exams with honours.

In 1939 Alec was called up to the Militia and was stationed on a searchlight station in South Wales but this tedious task was not for him and in 1941 he transferred to the RAF. He trained to be a pilot in the USA and after completing a training course that lasted over a year, he proudly won his wings.  Alec was married in April 1942 and found himself posted on to an Instructional staff position, which was not to his liking as he longed for operational duties.

It was late in 1944 when he managed to get himself transferred to Bomber Command and joined 49 Squadron.

Just a few short weeks later, on the 8th January 1945, a force of 645 Lancaster’s took to the air for what was to be the last major raid on Munich, one of the Lancaster bombers was piloted by Alec Bolter. Eleven Aircraft were lost during the raid plus an additional four which crash landed in France. One of the latter was piloted by Alec Bolter, which crashed near the village of  St.Gemar.

Alec is buried at the Old Cemetery in Villeneuve St.Georges, France.

Crew of LANCASTER Mk.III  PB586 EA

Position

Number

Rank

Name

Age

Pilot: 

184364

F/O

Alec John  BOLTER     DFC

FE:    

1880701

SGT

Jack  COURT                        

NAV: 

1623780

SGT

Thomas Ellwood  WALKER  

BA:   

1621826

SGT

John Thomas  SANDERSON  

21

MUAG:   

1881458

SGT

Alfred  BUTCHER

36

RAG:   

1055862

SGT

Clarence Leslie  ATKINS      

   35  


                  

 

Roland Frederick DUNSBY

819666

 Bomberdier

259 Battery, 65th (Norfolk Yeomanary) Anti-Tank Regiment. Royal Artillery

Killed In Action on the 26th May 1940 aged 39.

Roland was the son of William & Anna Dunsby and the husband of Olive Dunsby. His father was the local Policeman and they lived, not surprisingly, at Police cottage in Benington. Roland served for six years in the Royal Field Artillery and in 1939 he joined the Hertfordshire Constabulary and was stationed at Hertford where he served until re-called for service.

The Regiment, part of the 50th (Northumbrian) Brigade, served in France from January 1940 until the BEF evacuation. Following the German invasion of France & Belgium the unit was sent to Gramount where it remained for two days. On the 19th May they were attached to the 151st Infantry Brigade and sent to defend the bridges at Avelghem - Bossuyt. The following day they were attached to the 74th Field Regiment and were moved to the Bethune Line. On the 24th May they were in a position on the La Base - Bethune canal. After the bridges were blown at Berclau part of the Battery was withdrawn to Camphin. The remainder of the battery remained at the La Basse - Bethune position and the following day was in action with the enemy. During this action Bombardier Pointer was awarded the Military Medal and it is believed this is where Roland Dunsby was killed.

He is buried in the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (2.C.33)

 


 

Frank CHEYNE

1878750

Driver

254 Field Park Company. Royal Engineers

Drowned on the 8th March 1944 aged 25.

 

Frank was the son of William & Agnes Cheyne and was accidentally drowned in Bombay.

He is buried in the Kirkee War Cemetery, India. (8.K.2.)

 

 


John Wellington HALL

Lieutenant Commander

Royal Navy

HMS HOOD

Died At Sea on the 24th May 1941 aged 38.

 

John was the son of Harry & Edith Hall and the Husband of Joan Hall.  He received his commission on the 30th September 1934 and joined HMS Hood on the 25th August 1939.

The Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen sailed from Gotenhafen in the Baltic for the Atlantic via Norway on the 19th of May, 1941. Once out of the Baltic, they headed north. They were spotted during an RAF reconnaissance flight, and the hunt was on. The English knew the target for these two warships were the convoys and the Home Fleet brought a large number of ships into action to cover all the routes into the Atlantic. They were spotted northwest of Iceland by the heavy cruiser Norfolk on 23 May, 1941. The Hood and HMS Prince of Wales dashed to intercept them west of Iceland. Early the following morning Prince of Wales sighted Bismarck 17 miles away and both ships moved towards the German vessels.

The big ships met at 06:00 in the morning. Hood opened fire first. A shell from Prinz Eugen hit Hood on the boat deck, causing a fierce fire. Then a salvo from Bismarck hit Hood. There was an enormous explosion and the ship broke in half and then sank within minutes. Only three of the crew of 1,418 survived.

John has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 45 Column 1)

 

 


Kenneth Augustus PENNINGTON

7654332

Craftsman

Light Aid Detachment.  REME

Killed By Friendly Fire on the 13th June 1945 aged 35.

Kenneth was the son of Thomas & Gertrude Pennington and the husband of Alice Pennington. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore and like so many others was put to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway. The work on the railway began in October 1942 and was intolerably hard for Kenneth and his comrades who had to endure many hardships during their years of captivity. 

No records were kept by the Japanese with respect to the work on the railway but it is estimated that over 16,000 prisoners of war perished during its construction, mainly as a result of sickness and malnutrition. The line was completed in December 1943 and thereafter the working parties were used for the maintenance of the track and to repair damage caused by allied air raids. The Japanese refused to allow the prisoners to construct a symbol, consisting of a white triangle on a blue base, to indicate the presence of any POW camp and as a result, with many camps being alongside the track or near other vulnerable points such as bridges, the camps were attacked by allied aircraft, adding to the prisoners misery. 

As the capitulation of the Japanese forces approached more and more prisoners were grouped into the main camps and on the 13th June 1945 the RAF made an air attack on the camp at Kanchanaburi and it was during this raid that Kenneth was killed.

He is buried in the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand. (6.E.23.)

 

 

 

Gerald PAGE

7957644

Trooper

44th Royal Tank Regiment

Killed In Action on the 18th July 1943 aged 22.

Gerald was the son of Charles & Maud Page and the husband of Gladys Page. He was a pupil at Alleynes school in Stevenage where he was described as being an average student who had the ability to pull out all the stops when required in order to save a situation, particularly on the sports field. On leaving school Gerald was employed by Mott’s Garage in Watton at Stone until he was called up for service in the army.

He joined the 44th Royal Tank Regiment in April 1942 and on completion of his training was posted overseas. The Regiment was part of the 4th Armoured Brigade and had only been serving in Sicily for a week when they were called to support an infantry assault. The Germans had positioned themselves in a wood on the edge of the Catanian Plain and it was clear that if the Allied forces were to continue their invasion the enemy had to be dislodged. As the assault got underway Gerald’s tank was hit and he was instantly killed.

Gerald is buried in the Catania War Cemetery, Sicily. (2.C.35)

 


Peter PARRY-EVANS

AI/402

Major

11 Sikh Regiment. Indian Army

28/01/45

Peter, born into a soldiering family, was the son of the Reverend Joseph Parry-Evans CMG, CBE, FKC who was the Chaplain Commandant of the Royal Army Chaplains Department and had served in the army with some distinction from 1902 up until 1930 when he retired.

Peter attained his commission into the Indian Army on the 30th November 1936, some eight months after his father’s death. He was promoted to Captain on the 30th August 1942 and became a Major on the 2nd March 1943.

Peter is buried in the Taukyyan War Cemetery, Rangoon, Burma. (26.F.8.)

 

 


Peter David WOOD

571965

Leading Aircraftsman

30 Maintenance Unit. Royal Air Force

Killed 12/04/41 aged 19.

 

Peter was the son of William & Martha Wood. He joined the RAF and was training to be a Fitter at the Bristol Aero Works. On the last day of his fitting training at the works he was on Fire watch when a very heavy air raid took place on the plant.

Following the raid it was discovered that someone was trapped in the wreckage of a building and Peter went to their aid. As he made a rescue bid the building collapsed on him killing him instantly. His brother, William, was also killed in service.

Peter is buried in Benington churchyard.

 


William John Belcher WOOD

QX11071  Gunner

2/10 Field Regiment.  Royal Australian Artillery

Died on the 5th October 1943 aged 31.

William was born on the 31st March 1912, the son of William & Martha Wood. His brother, Peter was killed on active service on the 12th April 1941. William was the first boy from Benington school to achieve a scholarship to Alleynes grammar school. Whilst at Alleynes he gained the captaincy of the cricket XI and had won himself a place in the football XI.  After leaving school he went to work for F Bracey a well known agricultural engineer and, at that time, a county councillor. In 1929 William left the shores of England to become a dairy farmer in Australia. Later he was employed in the lumber trade and, on one occasion, single handed, performed the task of felling, squaring, ripping, sinking and erecting the timber for a ninety post stockade. All this was achieved in just one day, a truly amazing feat.

At the outbreak of war William tried to enlist for air crew duties but was prevented from doing so by the loss of a finger. This, in fact, he had shot off himself after being bitten by a snake. Eventually, on the 4th July 1940 he was accepted into the Artillery and served with the 2/10 Field Regiment as a Gunner. In 1941 William was posted to Malaya and served with his unit until it’s capture at Singapore in February 1942. He endured the hardships of captivity for over 20 months, then, in October 1943 he contracted dysentery and died.

William is buried in the Thanbyuzayat war cemetery, Burma. (A1.A.1.)

 


NAMES NOT LISTED ON THE BENINGTON WAR MEMORIAL

 

Alfred Charles SMITH  MM

62395

Gunner

234 Trench Mortar Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery

Killed In Action on the23rd October 1916 aged 20.

Alfred was born in Benington the son of  Mark and Ellen Smith, who later lived at Haultwich, Little Munden, Ware, Herts.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

He is buried in the Ration Farm Military Cemetery, La Chapelle-D'armentieres.  (II. A. 12.)

 

 

Arthur PHIPPS

14377801

Gunner

59 Anti-Tank Regiment. ( 6 Hampshire Regiment)

Royal Artillery

Died on the 16th August 1944 aged 35

Arthur was the son of John & Annie Phipps and the husband of Lena Phipps. The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

He is buried in the Banneville La Campagne War Cemetery, France. (6.D.9)

 

 


Frank Trevor VIVIAN  MC

118463

Captain

65 Field Regiment

Royal Artillery

Accidentally Killed on the 25th March 1946 aged 25.

Frank was the son of  Dr.Charles St.Aubyn Vivian & Mary Elizabeth Vivian.

He was awarded a Military Cross for gallant & distinguished services in Italy.

On the 25th March 1946 Frank Vivian was piloting an Auster Mk.V (TW447) aircraft from Hurstbourne Park in Hampshire whilst co-operating with 43 Operational Training Unit. The aircraft was flying at low level when it flicked over, stalled and dived into the ground.

Frank was cremated at Reading Crematorium, Berkshire.

 

 

Graham St.Aubyn VIVIAN

228856

Captain

69 Field Company.

King George V Own Bengal Sappers & Miners

Royal Engineers

Died on the 25th October 1944 aged 21

The son of  Dr.Charles St.Aubyn Vivian & Mary Elizabeth Vivian. The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

He is buried in the Faenza War Cemetery, Italy. (3.F.20.)

 

 


Harry WILLANS  DSO & MC

Major-General

Artists Rifles

Killed on the 5th February 1943 aged 50.

 

Harry was born in 1892 the son of James & Henrietta Willans and lived at Benington Croft with his wife Dorothy. He was later educated at Aldenham College. In 1914 he was serving in the Artists Rifles, the forerunner to the SAS, and was one of the first fifty to be picked to serve as a Subaltern to a Regular unit. He went on to serve with the Bedfordshire Regiment. In November 1940 he was appointed to the newly created post of Director General of Army Welfare & Education.

He was killed in a flying accident on 5th February 1943. Harry is buried in the Tobruk War Cemetery, Libya. (10.B.3)

 



WALKERN WAR MEMORIAL 1914 - 1918

  

Cuthbert Victor Way ALBONE

5949

Private

1st  Battalion. Hertfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 13th November 1916 aged 20.

Cuthbert had only been in France for three weeks when he was killed in the Somme sector during the Battle of Ancre.  An assault was to be made on a German fortification known as the Schwaben Redoubt. The plan was an attempt by the 5th Army, under General Sir Hubert Gough, to reduce the Beaumont Hamel salient, which had hitherto resisted all assaults. The battalion to which Cuthbert belonged was given the objective of taking some enemy strong-points, which were about 200 yards in front of the redoubt, the so called Hansa Line of trenches.  The attack commenced at 05.45am when it was still dark and a heavy mist hung over the battlefield. The going was heavy and the area was honeycombed with shell-holes.

The four companies of the battalion reached the first objective and this was soon taken, with many German soldiers being killed or captured. The No.4 Company, despite much confusion and many difficulties, managed to work up the Hansa Line and, supported by the other companies, succeeded in taking the entire line and some of Mill Trench, the final objective, by 07.20 am. Despite heavy shelling and some determined counter attacks the battalion managed to hold onto and consolidate their position but suffered many casualties in doing so. It is uncertain at what point Cuthbert Albone was killed but his body was never recovered and is lost on the battlefields of the Somme. As Cuthbert has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. His elder brother, Gilbert, was also killed in the Somme sector a few months earlier.

His name also appears on the Walkern village war memorial.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 


Gilbert Way ALBONE

8622

Sergeant

6th Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed In Action on the 15th July 1916 aged 28.

Gilbert had been an army instructor at both Bedford and Aldershot before the war. He left England on the 30th July 1915 and served continually on the Western Front. He was killed when his battalion attacked the village of Pozieres during the Somme offensive. The attack was headed by the 8th East Lancashire Regiment and supported by the both the 6th Bedfordshire Regiment and the 11th Warwickshire Regiment. Initially, the advance went unopposed but as the two forward battalions went over the crest of the Chalk Pitt they were held up by heavy and accurate machine gun fire. The Bedford’s were forced to dig in about 100 yards from Liniere.

Later, it was found that their attack had failed and they had suffered some 244 casualties with 3 Officers and 32 Other Ranks being killed and a further 25 Other Ranks Missing. Gilbert was amongst those killed and is buried in the Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-la-Boisselle, France. (3.G.21.)  His younger brother, Cuthbert, was also killed in the Somme sector a few months later.

Gilbert's name also appears on the Walkern village war memorial. 

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

John William Alfred BELCHAMBER

TF/201121

Private

4th Sussex Regiment

Missing In Action on the 26th March 1917.

On the 26th March 1917 the Battalion were at Deir El Belah. They were given an order to move to positions near El Shelluf Ridge where they were to attack Turkish forces that were entrenched there. There was a heavy mist covering the desert which did not lift until 8.15am, allowing the assaulting troops to see the Turkish positions. The assault began at 1.00pm with a Turkish trench being quickly taken and the attacking troops began to move up a nearby ridge. However, Turkish fire was very heavy andthe Battalion attempted to hold it’s position but this could not be maintained and they were forced back. Soon the Battalion was relieved and were able to re-organise themselves. The action had resulted in the loss of  4 Officers and 83 Other Ranks either killed or missing, with many more wounded.

John has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Arthur Henry CARTER

31890

Private

4th Bedfordshire Regiment

Died on the 29th May 1918 aged 20.

Arthur was the son of George & Caroline Carter of the High Street, Walkern. At the time of his death the Battalion were in the frontline at Forceville. However, Arthur is believed to have died as a result of disease rather than combat injuries.

His brother Reginald died in Germany whilst a Prisoner Of War.

Arthur is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, St.Radegonde, France. (5.E.7.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Ernest CARTER

203345

Private

4th Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed In Action on 30th October 1917 aged 19.

Ernest was the son of George and Edith Carter and was to lose his life during the closing stages of  The Third Ypres, or Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive had been launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The area had suffered the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with intensive shelling from both sides, had turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 30th October 1917 the Battalion were in the frontline at Ourton when they were ordered to attack an enemy strong-point. The ground was described as being very “boggy” and the Battalion only managed to move forward by 150 yards. However, this slight movement in the line cost the lives of 2 officers and 73 men, one of whom was Ernest Carter.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zillebeke, Belgium. (Panel 48/50.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Reginald CARTER

266935

Private

1st Hertfordshire Regiment

Died 28th November 1918 aged 23.

 

Reginald was the son of George & Caroline Carter of the High Street, Walkern. He was taken prisoner in September 1917 and held in the Niederzwehren camp where conditions were almost intolerable. Many prisoners were only given very rudimentary treatment for any wounds or infections that had received. Additionally, food was very meagre and many men died of malnutrition. His brother, Arthur, died in France on the 29th May 1918.

Reginald is buried in the Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany. (4.M.7.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Arthur George CLEMENTS

7036

Private

1/4 West Riding Regiment

(Formerley 4454 Hertfordshire Regiment)

Missing In Action on the 23rd September 1916 aged 18 .

 

Arthur was the eldest son of Noah & Alice Mary Clements of Froghall Lane, Walkern.

He joined the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 9th January 1915 when he was aged 17 and served in the UK until the 30th August 1916 when he was posted to France.

The young inexperienced soldier was transfered to the 1st/4th West Riding Regiment on the 10th September 1916 after the Battalion suffered very heavy casualties during an attack on the Schwaben Redoubt on the 2nd September. Arthur arrived at the Battalion on the 12th September and on the 23rd, at the height of the Somme Offensive, the Battalion were in positions in the Leipzieg Salient where they were preparing to be relieved by the 5th West Riding Regiment. Here the trenches were described as being in a very bad state, owing to wet conditions and unburied dead bodies. The Battalion were detailed to move to Leavilliers by bus and it is not known at what point Arthur Clements was killed but it is possible that his loss was as a result of artillery fire.

Arthur has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Pier/Face 6A.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


George Henry CLEMENTS

12067

Private

" A" Company. 9th Essex Regiment

Killed In Action on the 29th August 1915 aged 23.

 

George was the son of David Clements of Stevenage Lane, Walkern.

A former Under-Gamekeeper, he joined the Army at Saffron Walden on the 24th August 1914. He was posted to France, with the Battalion, on the 30th May 1915. They arrived at Boulogne on the 1st June 1915 and moved to billets at Audenthun. After going through a period of preparation for life in the trenches the Battalion moved to Ploegstreert Wood on the 15th June.

The Battalion were still in Ploegstreert when George was killed. It is believed that he was shot by a sniper.

He is buried in the Gunners Farm Military Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Belgium. (Grave B.4.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Cecil James CORDELL

265841

Private

No.4 Company. 1 Hertfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 24.

Cecil was the son of John Cordell of Bridge Foot Farm, Walkern and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Third Ypres, or Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The village of St. Juliaan lies on the Hanebeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

The Battalion were in support of an attack on the Langemarck Line and at 03.45am the planned assault began. It had three objectives to achieve known as Blue, Black & Green and units of the 116th Brigade easily captured the first two objectives, preparing the way for the forward companies of the Hertfordshire battalion, to take the third objective.

At 05.00am they left their assembly positions to attack their objective, which lay over the crest of a ridge. As they made their way forward they came under heavy fire from both German machine guns and snipers but after eliminating a German strongpoint moved up towards St.Julian, which was only lightly held. The battalion crossed the Steenbeek with some difficulty and two of its supporting Tanks became bogged down in the mud. Things then went from bad to worse. A pre-arranged artillery barrage never materialised due to the guns being unable to move forward over the muddy terrain and the German barbed wire defences, which were fifteen feet deep in some places, were found to still be intact.

It was soon realised that ground could only be won by section " rushes" supported by the unit’s own fire. The Cheshire Regiment were on the right of the battalion but the Black Watch, who were due to cover the left flank, had been seriously delayed. This left the Hertfordshire's seriously exposed and the Germans exploited this by bringing a hurricane of fire down upon the stricken troops. This was followed by a German counter-attack and by 10.30 am it was clear that the objective could not be achieved. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed or wounded. 

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


George Henry EDWARDS

266902

Private

No.4 Company. 1 Hertfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 24.

George was the son of George & Emma Edwards of Froghall Lane, Walkern and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Third Ypres, or Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The village of St. Juliaan lies on the Hanebeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

The Battalion were in support of an attack on the Langemarck Line and at 03.45am the planned assault began. It had three objectives to achieve known as Blue, Black & Green and units of the 116th Brigade easily captured the first two objectives, preparing the way for the forward companies of the Hertfordshire battalion, to take the third objective.

At 05.00am they left their assembly positions to attack their objective, which lay over the crest of a ridge. As they made their way forward they came under heavy fire from both German machine guns and snipers but after eliminating a German strongpoint moved up towards St.Julian, which was only lightly held. The battalion crossed the Steenbeek with some difficulty and two of its supporting Tanks became bogged down in the mud. Things then went from bad to worse. A pre-arranged artillery barrage never materialised due to the guns being unable to move forward over the muddy terrain and the German barbed wire defences, which were fifteen feet deep in some places, were found to still be intact.

It was soon realised that ground could only be won by section " rushes" supported by the unit’s own fire. The Cheshire Regiment were on the right of the battalion but the Black Watch, who were due to cover the left flank, had been seriously delayed. This left the Hertfordshire's seriously exposed and the Germans exploited this by bringing a hurricane of fire down upon the stricken troops. This was followed by a German counter-attack and by 10.30 am it was clear that the objective could not be achieved. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed or wounded.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 54/56.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Peter FITZJOHN

800892

Gunner

" Y” Section. 74th Trench Motar Battery. Royal Field Artillery

Accidentally Killed on the 5th October 1918 aged 39.

Peter was the son of Peter & Harriett Fitzjohn of Baldock and the husband of Minnie Fitzjohn of Bransmead Villas, Walkern. He was killed whilst working at an ammunition dump when a Mine exploded and a piece of shrapnel hit him in the head.

Peter is buried at the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, St.Radegonde, France. (5.L.9.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Percy GOODCHILD

214057D

Leading Seaman

Gunner 1st Class

HMS Defence.  Royal Navy

Killed In Action on the 31st May 1916 aged 29.

 

Percy was the son of S Goodchild of Beecroft Lane, Walkern. He was one of 6097 men who were killed during the Battle of Jutland on the 31st May 1916.

At 6.16 p.m. HMS Defense and HMS Warrior were observed passing down between the British and German Battle Fleets under a very heavy fire. HMS Defense was seen to blow up and HMS Warrior passed to the rear disabled. It is probable that Sir Robert Arbuthnot, during his engagement with the enemy's light cruisers and in his desire to complete their destruction, was not aware of the approach of the enemy's heavy ships, owing to the mist, until he found himself in close proximity to the main fleet, and before he could withdraw his ships they were caught under a heavy fire and disabled.

Percy has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 11.)

 

 


George GREEN

7275

Private

1st Essex Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 8th May 1915 aged 34 .

 

George was the son of William & Ellen Green.

He landed at Gallipoli on the 24th April 1915 and was wounded shortly after his arrival when the Battalion was in position at Krithea. Fighting in the area was intense and the Battalion were called upon to support New Zealand troops but were forced to withdraw after coming under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.

It is believed that George was later evacuated to a hospital ship but after losing his fight for life was buried at sea.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. (Panel 144/150.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

John William Randolph GREEN

373671

Rifleman

8th London Regiment (Post Office Rifles)

Died Of Wounds on the 2nd December1917.

 

On the 2nd December 1917 the Battalion were located in a sunken road near Bourlon Wood when they were ordered to attack German positions in the wood. There were a great many shell holes in the wood and the Germans were using these as shelter. Although the attack was successful the assault cost the lives of 31 men. John died as a result of wounds received during this action.

He is buried in the Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France. (6.C.26.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Reginald GREEN

A/200670

Rifleman

2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Died Of Wounds on the 20th September 1918 aged 21.

 

Reginald was the fourth son of Walter & Emily Green of Fairview, Walkern. He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 6th November 1915 and was posted to France 21st September 1916.

He was sent home in December 1916 suffering from Trench Foot and did not return to France until June 1917. At some later stage he was transferred to the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.This Battalion were positioned in Courzancourt Wood in the Arras sector when they were given the order to attack German held positions. It is bekieved that Reginald was wounded during this assault and he later died of his injuries at No.47 Casualty Clearing Station at Asylum.

Reginald is buried in the Brie British Cemetery, Somme, France. (1.E.10.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


George GROOM

J/26892

Ordinary Seaman

Royal Navy

HMS Formidable

Died At Sea on the 1st January 1915 aged 18.

 

George was born on the 29th October 1896, the son of John & Lizzie Groom.  He worked as farm labourer until he was 16 years old and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on the 11th September 1913. After the completion of his training he was drafted to HMS Formidable on the 26th August 1914, three weeks after the outbreak of war.

HMS Formidable a 15,250 tons, pre-Dreadnought Battleship, launched in 1898 and first commissioned in 1901 was sunk by two torpedoes from a German submarine, U24,  off Start Point at 2 am on the 1st January 1915 while on exercises. The first torpedo hit the number one boiler port side; a second explosion caused the ship to list heavily to starboard. Huge waves thirty feet high lashed the stricken ship, with strong winds, rain and hail, sinking it in less than two hours. She sank in 180 feet of water about 37 miles off the Devon coast, the first British battleship to be sunk in the First World War.


Captain Loxley, his second-in-command, Commander Ballard, and the signaller stayed at their posts throughout, sending flares and rockets off at regular intervals. There was no panic, the men waiting calmly for the lifeboats to be lowered. Someone played ragtime on the piano, others sang. The Chaplain risked his life going below to find cigarettes. Suddenly the ship gave a tremendous lurch, the Captain shouted 'Lads, this is the last, all hands for themselves, and may God bless you and guide you to safety'. He then walked to the forebridge, lit a cigarette and, with his terrier Bruce on duty at his side, waited for the end, in true Royal Naval tradition. The piano was thrown overboard and many of the boats were smashed as they were lowered into the water, killing all occupants, or else were swamped and sank. Only 199 men were saved out of a complement of about 750.

George Groom has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 8.)

 

 

John HALE

GS/62832

Private

20th Royal Fusiliers  (3rd Public Schools Battalion)

Missing In Action on the16th April 1917 aged 32.

(Formerly 27165 Middlesex Regiment)

John was the eldest son of John & Mary Ann Hale of Clay End, Walkern.

On the 16th April 1917 the Battalion were in the Front Line near Hindenburg Trench. They were detailed to attack German positions but the assault was driven back by very heavy machine gun fire and completely failed.

John has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Arras, France. (Bay 3.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Bert HART

Private

1501

20th Hussars

Missing In Action on the 21st February 1915 .

On the 18th February 1915 the Battalion moved to the Front Line trenches from the town of Ypres. The following two days were relatively quiet and the only casualties to be suffered were men who deemed to be sick. Then on the 21st February the sound of heavy firing could be heard coming from East of their positions. The Germans had attacked and captured a trench held by the 16th Lancers and the Battalion were ordered to make an immediate counter-attack. The men of the Battalion managed to get within 20 yards of the captured trench but were stopped by flanking rifle fire. The Battalion suffered seven men killed, including Bert Hart.

The other six casualties were;

Number  Rank                     Name                                                   Age                       Memorial

6436        Private                    Benjamin Blackburn                              28                           Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

5109        Lance Corporal       John Gibling (Served as Gibbon)         34                           Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres 

5457        Private                    John James Jackson                            Unknown                Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

8649        Private                    William Rock                                      20                           Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

10107      Corporal                 John Walker                                         19                           Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

11484      Private                    William Wood                                       Unknown                Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

Bert’s body was not recovered and he has no known grave. His name is recorded, along with those of his comrades, on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. Panel 5.

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Stanley KNIGHT

36373

Private

2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 2nd December 1917 aged 22.

(Formerly 5695 Hertfordshire Regiment)

Stanley was the son of James Alfred & Clara Knight. Before joining the Army he was employed by D.Foster in Walkern. He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 1st November 1915. After arriving in France as a Machine Gunner he was transferred to the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was wounded on the 20th May 1916 and did not return to France until June 1917.

On the 2nd December 1917 the Battalion were in position North of Passchendaele. They were ordered to take part in an assault on enemy positions and whilst preparing for the attack their positions were shelled by German artillery, causing some casualties. The attack commenced at 1.55am and the night sky was lit up with gold and green illumination flares. The Germans responded with considerable artillery fire causing numerous further casualties. In total the Battalion lost 88 men killed or missing on this night, one of whom was Stanley Knight.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 105/106.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Fred MACE

93076

Private

“B” Battalion. Tank Corps

Missing In Action on the 23rd November 1917 aged 21 .

(Formerly 15029 Essex Regiment)

Fred was the son of Horace & Louisa Mary Mace of Froghall Lane, Walkern.

On the 22rd November 1917 the Battalion were ordered to attack the village of Fontaine in co-operation with 152nd Infantry brigade, with their final objective being the railway line just North of the village. That night 13 Tanks lay hidden in the sunken road near La Justice Farm, just below the ridge overlooking the village.

The following morning at 9.40am the Tanks moved off and arrived at the barrage line precisely at 10.30am, as instructed. The Tanks reached the village in the full expectancy that there would be strong enemy resistance but found the streets empty and strangely quiet. In fact, the German defenders were employing a new tactic, they had hidden themselves in the cellars and upper floors of the houses and waited for the Tanks to pass. Then there was a fierce assault on the Tanks and their crews, with the German infantry using grenades on the cabs and doors of the Tanks as these had proven to be more lightly armoured. Additionally, the Germans were employing a new type of anti-tank bullet and were also using anti-tank shells fired from a gun located on the Bapume – Cambrai road, north-east of the village. The Tanks were, in some cases, literally torn to pieces and many men perished in their blazing hulks. The British infantry were unable to give proper support owing to the heavy fire that was been aimed at them by the Germans located in the village.  Although the Tanks manoeuvred in and out of the village for most of the day they proved to be of little use without the appropriate infantry support and by 4pm the Battalion had taken a severe beating. Casualties were high with 60 men killed or missing and a further 88 wounded.

Fred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, France. (Panel 13.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Arthur John MACKIE

266514

Private

1st Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 2nd September 1918 aged 21.

Arthur was the son of Albert & Ellen Mackie. He had been employed as a Carpenter by Bert Wright at the brewery in Walkern. He joined up in 1914 when aged only 17 and had served in France since 1915. He had a brother who was serving at the time in Egypt.

On the 2nd September 1918 the Battalion were in position at Fremicourt. A creeping artillery barrage opened an attack on German positions but when the forward companies of the Battalion reached them they were found to be empty of any enemy troops. The Battalion moved forward for a further 4 miles until they made contact with the enemy. It was during this action that Arthur was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas-De Calais, France. (Panel 10.)

Medal Entitlement: 1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal


 

Henry OSBORNE

G/21258

Private

10th East Kent Regiment

Killed In Action on the 9th August 1918 aged 24.

 

Henry was born on the 9th August 1894 the son of Reed & Margaret Osborne of White Lion Lane and the husband of May Elizabeth Osborne of Stevenage Lane.  He was killed on his birthday during an attack on St.Floris near Hazebrouck. His brother, James, went missing on the 29th October 1918.

Henry is buried in the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (I.E.42.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

James Samuel OSBORNE

G/25954

Private

1st East Kent Regiment

Missing In Action on the 29th October 1918 aged 19.

 

James was the son of Reed & Margaret Osborne of White Lion Lane, Walkern.. His brother, Henry, had been killed in action on the 9th August 1918. On the 29th October 1918 the Battalion were located near the village of Fayet. The night was cold and wet and patrols were made into the village. It was during one of these patrols that James was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded  on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas-De Calais, France. (Panel 3.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal


 

Jesse PARKER

102281

Private

2/6th Notts & Derbys Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 9th May 1918 aged 27.

(Formerly 5801 Hertfordshire Regiment)

Jesse was the youngest son of George & Emma Parker of Totts Lane, Walkern. Before joining the Army he had been employed for 10 years as a Baker by C.E.Pearman in Walkern.

He enlisted in the Army in on the 10th November 1915 and initially served with the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment.He arrived in France on the 31st July 1916 and was transfered to the 3rd Entrenching Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the 22nd August 1916. On the 5th September 1916 he was posted to the 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment and was wounded on the 3rd October 1916. He was taken to No.29 Casualty Clearing Station where was treated for a Gunshot wound to his back. He was moved to a hospital in Bolougne for further treatment and recovery and did not return to his unit until 21st November. Jesse was wounded again on the 12th March 1917, this time he received contusions to his face and neck and suffered from concussion. He was taken to the 2/1st West Riding Field Ambulance where his wounds were treated.

On the 6th July 1917, whilst undertaking physical training, Jesse sprained an ankle and fractured a fibula. He was taken to No.20 General Hospital and was sent back to Engalnd where he was admitted to the Birmingham War Hospital for recovery. After recovering from his injuries he was posted to the Ballybonare Camp in County Cork, Southern Ireland, where he remained until March 1918 when he was sent back to France, arriving at Cherbourg on the 25th March.

The Germans had commenced their Spring Offensive on the 21st March 1918 and many of the British Regiments had suffered greivous losses, with many men being taken prisoner. As a result a number of Regiments were seriously depleated and needed reinforcing and Jesse found himself transfered to the 2/6th Notts & Derbys Regiment. He arrived at the Headquarters of "C" Company on the 2nd April and two weeks later, on the 16th April, was again wounded in the face and hands. He was taken to No.13 General Hospital in Boulogne on the 19th April and was moved to No.83 General Hospital the following day. On the 23rd April he was taken to Sidcup for treatment where he developed Pneumonia to which he failed to respond to treatment and died on the 9th May.

Jesse is buried in the St.Mary Churchyard, Walkern.

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Alfred SAVAGE

M/349525

Private

Royal Army Service Corps

Died on the 25th February 1919 aged 33.

 

Alfred was the son of Charles and Maria Savage and the husband of Rose Savage. He was born in Cottered and moved to Walkern when he was 11 years old where he worked as Bootmaker for John Cannon. He joined the Army in December 1917.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.

Alfred is buried in the St.Mary Churchyard, Walkern. (Grave C6.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Walter William SAVAGE

G/15595

Private

12th Royal Sussex Regiment

Killed In Action on the 17th October 1916.

The Battalion were in an area of the Somme sector known as the Schwabern Redoubt from the 15th to the 17th October 1916, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Somme. They were involved in intense action over these two days and were attacked on several occasions with Flame-throwers and grenades as well as being shelled by artillery.  On the 17th October as the Battalion were being relieved they were heavily shelled, resuting in a number of casualties including Walter Savage

He is buried in the Gommecourt British Cemetery No.2, Hebuterne, France. (6.B.1.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

(Photo Courtesy of Simom Cawthorne)

 

 


Wilfred SMITH

G/15354

Lance Corporal

2nd Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment

Killed In Action on the 26th October 1917 aged 26 .

Wilfred was the son of Reuben & Rosanna Smith of High Sreet, Walkern.

He was tolose his life in the closing stages of The Battle of  Passchendaele. The offensive had been launched on 31st July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6th November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The area had suffered the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with intensive shelling from both sides, had turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 24th October 1917 the Battalion relieved the 16th & 17th Sherwood Foresters at Bodmin Copse. The ground conditions were terrible and the Battalion moved into position at night using duckboard walkways. This made progress very slow and the relief was not completed until 1.30am due to the darkness, the fact it was raining and that they had to share the walkways with the outgoing troops.

The 25th October was described as “relatively quiet” with the Battalion preparing for an assault the following day on a position known as Lewis House. The attack began at 5.40 am and quickly became disorganised due to the fact that most of the Officers and NCO’s had become casualties. It also appears that two lines of troops converged on each other as they reached the objective, increasing the confusion and possibly resulting on troops firing on each other. In total the Battalion suffered 101 casualties during this disastrous attack, one of whom was Wilfred Smith.

Wilfred is buried in the Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Zillebeke, Belgium. 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


Charles Thomas SPICER

266937

Private

No.4 Company.  1 Hertfordshire Regiment

Killed In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 22.

 

Charles was the son of Samuel & Louisa Spicer of 2 Beecroft Cottages, Walkern and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Battle of  Passchendaele.

He had joined the Army on the 10th November 1915 and was initally recruited into the Hertfordhsire Regiment. Charles was posted to France on the 4th July 1916, just three days after the Battle of the Somme had begun, and served continuously on the Western Front until his death. He was posted to the Regiments Entrenching Battalion on the 22nd July and moved to No.4 Company on the 24th August 1916.

On the 15th May 1917 Charles was admitted to the 133rd Field Ambulance suffering with Cellulitis of the Right Leg. His leg became ulcerated and he was transfered to the 132nd Field Ambulance on the 22nd May. He remained there until 22nd June when he was returned to duty. At this time the Regiment was preparing for the Passchendaele offensive and every man was desperately needed.

The offensive was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.  Although it resulted in gains for the Allies it was by no means the breakthrough General Haig intended, and such gains as were made came at great cost in human terms. The village of St. Juliaan lies on the Hanebeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 31st July the Battalion were in support of an attack on the Langemarck Line and at 03.45am the planned assault began. It had three objectives to achieve known as Blue, Black & Green and units of the 116th Brigade easily captured the first two objectives, preparing the way for the forward companies of the Hertfordshire battalion, to take the third objective.

At 05.00am they left their assembly positions to attack their objective, which lay over the crest of a ridge. As they made their way forward they came under heavy fire from both German machine guns and snipers but after eliminating a German strongpoint moved up towards St.Julian, which was only lightly held. The battalion crossed the Steenbeek with some difficulty and two of its supporting Tanks became bogged down in the mud. Things then went from bad to worse. A pre-arranged artillery barrage never materialised due to the guns being unable to move forward over the muddy terrain and the German barbed wire defences, which were fifteen feet deep in some places, were found to still be intact.

It was soon realised that ground could only be won by section " rushes" supported by the unit’s own fire. The Cheshire Regiment were on the right of the battalion but the Black Watch, who were due to cover the left flank, had been seriously delayed. This left the Hertfordshire's seriously exposed and the Germans exploited this by bringing a hurricane of fire down upon the stricken troops. This was followed by a German counter-attack and by 10.30 am it was clear that the objective could not be achieved. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed or wounded.

Charles body was not recovered until February 1918 and is buried in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (10.G.4.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

 

Harold Izzard WARNER

M/320272

Private

1019th  Motor Transport Company. Royal Army Service Corps

Died on the 23rd March 1919 aged 27.

 

Harold was the son of E Warner of Walkern and the husband of E Warner of North Hykeham, Lincolnshire.

The Company, initially 6 Officers and 80 Other Ranks, had been posted to serve in Iraq and left Southampton on the 7th January 1918. The journey took them by train through France and Italy and then by ship, the SS Karoa, to Alexandria, which they reached on the 29th January. The following day they moved to Port Suez where they boarded the SS Karagola bound for Karachi. On arriving in Karachi they joined the SS Aronda to their final destination, Basrah.

In Iraq the company swelled to 6 Officers, 143 British Other Ranks, 75 Indian Other Ranks and 11 Camp Followers. The Company vehicles were 130 Ford vans, 2 ambulances, 20 Talbots and 5 Star Lorries. They served both the military and political services n the area through to 1920.

It is not yet known what happened to Harold Warner. He is buried in the Lodge Hill Cemetery, Birmingham. (B10.9.661F.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 


Donald Sam WRIGHT

2/Lieutenant

8th  Bedfordshire Regiment

Died Of Wounds on the 25th April 1917 aged 21.

( Formerly PS/8241 19th Royal Fusiliers )

 

Donald Wright was born on the 25th June 1895 the son of Samuel Eustace Wright, a local mineral drinks manufacturer. He was educated at Caldicott school and later at Bishop Stortford college.

He enlisted in the Army on the 13th July 1915 just a few weeks after his 20th birthday and served as Private 8241 in No.14 Platoon, “D” Company of the 19th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.  He was posted to France on the 8th  January 1916 and joined his Battalion in the field on the 17th January. He then served on the Western Front for exactly four months and on the 18th May 1916 was posted England to undertake a cadetship at No.6 Officer Cadet Battalion. The Battalion was located at Balliol College, Oxford and he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 25th September 1916.

Donald was posted to the Bedfordshire Regiment on the 20th October 1916 and embarked for France on the 10th November. He joined the 8th Battalion on the 27th November 1916 and served with them on the Western Front throughout the winter f 1916/17. On the 16th April 1917 the Battalion moved into Front Line positions at Loos. A few days later, on the 19th, they were involved in bitter fighting in the area and were subjected to heavy artillery barrages and grenade attacks. Donald Wright received serious shell wounds to his right eye, face and chest and was evacuated to No.18 Field Ambulance. Later that day he was moved to No.33 Casualty Clearing station at Bethune, where he remained for six days. The nature of injuries must have been quite serious as he was moved to No.35 General Field Hospital in Calais on the 25th April where he died at 11pm that night.

Donald is buried in the Calais Southern Cemetery, France.

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

 


 


WALKERN WAR MEMORIAL 1939 - 1945

 

 

Eric Gordon BARWICK

5990020

Lance Corporal

1st Hertfordshire Regiment

Killed In Action on the 25th August 1944 aged 24.

Eric was the son of William & Alice Barwick and the husband of Elizabeth Barwick. He was born at Rooks Nest cottages, Walkern and was later employed at Rooks Nest farm. He joined the Territorial Army in 1938 and was well known locally as both a church chorister and as keen member of the Boy Scout movement.

The Battalion was serving in Italy at the time of his death. Eric was part of No.2 Company which was sent forward to try and occupy the castle of Vincigliato where the Germans had positioned themselves. There was to be no battalion attack or reinforcements and if the castle was too strongly held the Company was given orders to return to it's former positions. They left at first light and arrived in the area of the castle at 08.00 am. They first approached from the front but it was found that the Germans had prepared for a frontal assault by placing Spandau machine guns in the moat and walls of the castle. The Company began to reconnoitre the castle but this drew fire from the occupying Germans and it was soon determined that both Artillery and Royal Engineer assistance would be needed as the castle was too strongly held. Orders were given for the Company to withdraw but as they did so they were hit by a barrage of mortar fire which resulted in several casualties, including Eric Barwick. At the time of his death he had a 14 month old daughter, Valerie, who he had never seen.

Eric is buried in Florence War Cemetery, Italy. (5.A.10)

 


Charles Eric CANNING

C/MX57846 

Chief Petty Officer

Royal Navy

HMS Porcupine

Died Of Wounds on the 9th December 1942 aged 26.

 

Charles was born in Kings Norton, Worcestershire on the 16th May 1917 and was the second son of Francis & Daisy Canning who later moved to " Ivanhoe" , Walkern. He joined the Navy when he was aged 18 and married in 1939. He and his wife, Alma, lived with their son in Grange Road, Gillingham, Kent.

HMS Porcupine was a 1540 ton P Class Destroyer which was torpedoed on the 9th December 1942 by the German submarine U-602 whilst 70 miles North-east of Oran. She was towed to Arzeu where her wounded were put ashore. Later the ship was towed to the UK but was never repaired.

Charles is buried in the Le Petit Lac War Cemetery, Oran, Algeria. (E.B.15.)

 

 


Fred A CLEMENTS

5834344

Private

5th Suffolk Regiment

Died on the 13th August 1943 aged 30.

Fred lived at 3 Frogmore Lane with his wife and daughter. Before joining the Army he was employed by Wright & Co. in Walkern.

The Battalion sailed from Liverpool on the 28th October 1941, it’s original destination being the Middle East. On route orders were received diverting the Regiment to the Far East. After a long, arduous, eight-week journey that had taken them via Halifax, Cape Town & Bombay the Regiment arrived in Ahmednagar on the 27th December. After three weeks of intensive acclimatisation and training the Regiment embarked on the USS West Point for Singapore where they arrived at dawn on the 29th January 1942, just two weeks before the island fortress would capitulate to the forces of the Japanese Imperial Army. 

On the 9th February the Japanese landed on the north-western side of the island and began what was to be the greatest defeat the British army had ever suffered.

Fred died whilst a Japanese Prisoner of War and is buried in the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, Burma. (B4.W.6.)

 

 

Frederick Richard MILTON

P/JX135312

Petty Officer

Royal Navy

HMS Fleur De Lys

Died At Sea on the 14th October 1941 aged 26.

Frederick was born in Hertford on the 10th January 1915 the son of Ernest & Rachael Milton. After marrying his wife, Rhoda, the couple lived in Widley, Hampshire.

On the 14th October 1941 HMS Fleur De Lys was torpedoed by the German submarine, U-208, whilst in the Western approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar. The ship broke in half and quickly sank with only 3 of her 90 man crew surviving.

Frederick has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 46. Column 2.)

 

 


Stanley Harold SHEPPARD

1086577

Private

8th Field Regiment. Royal Artillery

Missing In Action on the 1st December 1941 aged 29.

Stanley was the son of Harold & Harriet Sheppard.

It is believed that Stanley was killed in action at Bel Hamid but his body was never found and he has no known grave.

Stanley’s name is recorded on the El Alamein War Memorial, Egypt. (Column 37.)

 


NAMES NOT RECORDED ON THE WALKERN WAR MEMORIAL

 

Thomas George DODDS

M2/045520

Private

402nd M.T. Coy. Army Service Corps

attd. 184th Siege Bty Royal Garrison Artillery

Died on the 30/08/1918 aged 28.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. T. David Dodds, of 5, Chapman's Terrace, Park St., Hatfield, Herts.  Born in Walkern.

Faubourg D'amiens Cemetery, Arras, France. VII. E. 25.

 

 

 

Alfred Edward HOLES

419016

Private

1st/9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles)

Killed In Action on the 25th April 1918 aged 24.

Alfred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

.

 

 

Allan Abel STOCKBRIDGE

3207

Private

1st Hertfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the18th May 1915 aged 19.

Allan was the son of Thomas & Mary Stockbridge of Victoria House, Walkern. He was posted to France on the 23rd January 1915 and was killed on the same day as his younger brother, Cedric, whilst serving with the same Battalion.

They were in support of an attack by the Irish Guards on German positions East of L’Pinette. near Festubert. The No.1 Company supported an attack by the Irish Guards but had only gone 200 yards when they were held up by heavy machine gun and rifle fire, suffering a number of casualties, including the Stockbridge brothers.

Allan has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Le Touret Memorial, France. (Panel 47.)

Medal Entitlement:  1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Cedric Gordon STOCKBRIDGE

Private

1st Hertfordshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the18th May 1915 aged 18.

 

Cedric was the son of Thomas & Mary Stockbridge of Victoria House, Walkern. He was posted to France on the 6th November 1914 and was killed on the same day as his older brother, Allan, whilst serving with the same Battalion.

They were in support of an attack by the Irish Guards on German positions East of L’Pinette. near Festubert. The No.1 Company supported an attack by the Irish Guards but had only gone 200 yards when they were held up by heavy machine gun and rifle fire, suffering a number of casualties, including the Stockbridge brothers.

Cedric has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Le Touret Memorial, France. (Panel 47.)

Medal Entitlement:  1914 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

 

Alfred Harold BOON

543626

Gunner

7th Coastal Regiment. Royal Artillery

Died on the 3rd March 1942 aged 37

Alfred was the son of Alfred & Annie Boon. He was presumed to have been killed in the Far East between the 2nd/3rd August 1942, whilst a prisoner of the Japanese, and has no known grave.

His name is recorded on the Singapore War Memorial. (Column 13)

 

Brothers in arms,

Fallen on the field of honour,

Sleep in peace;

We are watching over you.

 

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© Paul Johnson  - May 2006