Henry Collins Draper

5433, Corporal, 64th Company. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).

(Formerly15592 Bedfordshire Regiment)

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

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

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 was severely wounded in his right leg and was not found for some time before being moved to a Casualty Clearing Station, and then on to a hospital in Rouen, where his leg was amputated. Initially, it was believed that he would survive the ordeal but he sadly succumbed to 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 recorded on both the Stevenage and Aston War Memorials.

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.

Tyne Cot Memorial - Belgium

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 Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as 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 Passchendaele. 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. and 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 in 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 difficult 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)

Headstone Inscription: "Beloved"

Edwin Henry Pallett

41635, Private, 8th King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

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

Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France.

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.

Le Touret Memorial and Cemetery

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.

Le Touret Memorial and Cemetery

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)

Frederick Tavenor

266175, Private, 2nd/1st Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. (184th Brigade. 61st Division)

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 death he was a resident of Aston.

He was to be lost during the first major action in which the 61st Division was engaged, regarded as an unmitigated disaster. An attack was made on 19th July 1916 at Fromelles, a subsidiary action to the much larger battle taking place further south on the Somme. The Division suffered very heavy casualties for no significant gain and no enemy reserves were diverted from the Somme. Such was the damage to the Division and its reputation that it was not used again other than for holding trench lines until 1917.

On the 18th July 1916, his Battalion were in the front line when "A" Company, who were holding the Battalion front, suffered a devastating blow. British artillery shells fell short and struck a gas container in the trenches where they were waiting. 78 men were lost, an ominous beginning to their time on the front line.

The following morning the 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of "C" Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

The Unit War Diary for the latter part of the day has this poignant entry; At 6pm, with a cheer, the four waves leapt up and assaulted the enemy's trenches. Even before 5.40pm, the enemy's machine guns had become busy; and at 6pm they mowed down the advancing waves, so that only a few men actually reached the German parapet. They did not return.

Map showing the location of the 2/1st Ox & Bucks Light Infantry during the Battle of Fromelles on the 19/20 July 1916.

The Battalion had gone into action with 20 Offivers and 622 Other Ranks. By the end of the day this had been reduced to 6 Officers and 300 Other Ranks.

It is not known at what point Frederick Tavenor was lost, but his body was never recovered and he has no know grave.

His name is recorded on the Loos Memorial, France. (Panel 83 to 85)