Henry Joseph Heskins

4/7089, Private, 1/4th Battalion, West Riding Regiment.

Died on the 19th December 1916 aged 19.

Henry was the son of Henry & Elizabeth Heskins of 72 Basils Road, Stevenage.

His Battalion were stationed at Halloy, where they were undergoing training and the exact circumstances of his death are not yet known but it is believed that he may have died from disease.

He is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, France. (20.J.1A.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Harold Oldershaw Hewes

G/19015, Private, 6th Battalion, East Kent Regiment. (Formerley 22516 Middlesex Regimen

Died Of Wounds on the 24th May 1917 aged 19

Harold was born on the 26th September 1887, the only son of Thomas & Hannah Maria Hewes of Basils Road, Stevenage.

Between the 8th and 16th May 1917 the Battalion were in position near the village of Roeux, outside of Arras. During this period they were very heavily shelled by German artillery and it is believed that Harold was amongst the wounded. He died on the 24th May as a result of his injuries and is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, France. (25.D.10A.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Frederick Albert Hill

T/254739, Driver, No. 14 General Transport Company. Royal Army Service Corps

Killed In Action on the 14th April 1943 aged 22.

Frederick was the son of  Frederick & Rose Hill of 12 Haycroft Road. He was educated at Walkern School. Frederick was employed for 5 years, before joining the Army, with Eastman’s butchers in the High Street. He joined up in 1941 and had been serving overseas for 20 months when he was killed.  The unit War Diary gives little indication as to how Frederick met his fate but merely states that three men were killed as the result of enemy action.

Frederick is buried in the Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia. (6.E.7.).

Harold Douglas Holdron

2276, Private, 1/5th Battalion, London Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 1st July 1916 aged 23.

Private Harold Douglas Holdron

Harold Douglas Holdron was born on the 24th October 1892 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, the son of George & Priscilla Holdron (nee Snow). The family then moved to Stevenage and resided at “Raveloe”, Green Street, where Harold enrolled as a pupil at Alleynes Grammar School. Having completed his education he obtained employment as a stockbrokers clerk at the Baltic Exchange in the City of London, where he was working when war broke out in August 1914. He attempted to enlist with the H.M. Forces, but was found to be unfit for military service and was refused admission on medical grounds. Harold continued in his civilian job for the next 11 months until, on the 4th June 1915, he entered the Head Quarters of the 5th London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), a Regiment of the Territorial Army, in Sun Street, and this time the medical inspection failed to reveal, or overlooked, the flaw that caused the refusal in August 1914.

He spent the next 6 months training with the 3rd Battalion until, on the 11th November 1915, he was posted to the Western Front with a reinforcement draft to the 1st Battalion, joining it when they were wintering in the bleak trenches of the frozen mire of the Ypres salient. It was here that he was assigned to ‘D’ Company, No.14 Platoon, and where he was to have his first experiences of the line. Harold served with the Battalion as it moved in and out of the line for the next seven months.

At 7.20am on the 1st July 1916, smoke was released from the left of the Battalion position and the attacking troops formed up in no man’s land. Then at zero hour, 7.30am, the troops moved off toward their objectives. The first two of the Battalions objectives were reached with comparatively light losses, as the enemy wire had been cut sufficiently enough by the earlier artillery bombardments to cause little trouble to the attacking troops. Harold and his wiring party went into the assault and, at around 7.40am, whilst engaged in setting out the barbed-wire entanglement within a captured German communication trench called ‘Eck’, next to a shattered trench fortification known as ‘The Maze’, a shell exploded close by and he was struck in the head by a large fragment and killed.

Harold’s body was not recovered from the field where it still lies in an unknown grave and his name is etched on to the arched gateway for the missing of the Somme at Thiepval, France.

Sadly, for George Holdron his beloved wife passed away just a few months later on the 13th November 1916.

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

Henry Ball Holmes

Major, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers.

Died Of Wounds on the 27th November 1915 aged 43.

Major Henry Ball Holmes

Henry Ball Holmes was born in Hong Kong on the 23rd July 1872. His father was a solicitor and his mother was a doctor and one of the first western women to practice medicine on the island.

He was educated at Bloxham School near Banbury in Oxfordshire, between 1885 and 1887 and, on leaving Bloxham, went to the Royal Military College in Oxford. He was gazetted as Second Lieutenant to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, from the militia on the 2nd June 1894 and progressed quickly through the ranks, becoming a Major by the 14th March 1904. Henry served in the South African War from 1899 to 1902, during which time he was very severely wounded on two occasions. He was awarded the Queens medal with three clasps and the Kings medal with two. He was also Mentioned In Despatches twice during his time in South Africa. Henry had married Violet Mable Ryles of The Hermitage, Stevenage on the 1st July 1914 at Totnes, Devon. The couple had one son who was still born on the 28th December 1915.

The 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers marched from their barracks at Winchester on 19th December 1914 to the docks at Southampton where they boarded the SS City of Benares. The following day they landed at Le Harve. Major Holmes took part in numerous engagements with the Battalion until 20th April 1915 when he was shot through the face by a sniper whilst the Battalion were located at Bellewarde Farm, during the Second Battle of Ypres. He was carried to an aid station, and was eventually transferred to Luddon Camp, Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland, where, after enduring months of pain and suffering, he died of septic blood poisoning of the brain. He was later buried at Christ Church churchyard, Lower Fahan, Buncrana, County Donegal, where a memorial was erected to him, by the regiment.

A fellow officer wrote about him " All the regiment past and present mourn with you; he was a perfect gentleman, a gallant soldier and a dear friend to all."  He was mentioned in Field Marshall Sir John French's despatch published in the London Gazette on the 1st January 1916.

Medal Entitlement: Queens South Africa Medal, Kings South Africa Medal,  1914/15 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Ernest Hornsby

CH/19796, Private, 1st Royal Marine Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry.

Missing In Action on the 13th November 1916 aged 19.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Ernest was born on the 15th November 1896 the step son of James & Rose Marvel of 76 Albert Street, Stevenage.

A Wheelwright by trade he joined the Royal Marines in London on the 10th March 1915 and was initially attached to “D” Company. Following the completion of his training he embarked with the Royal Marine Brigade on the 5th December 1915 aboard the HMT "Northlands", which arrived in Alexandria on the 17th December. Ernest saw service with the Battalion during the withdrawal from Gallipoli and its move to France at the closing stages of the Battle of the Somme.

On the 13th November 1916, the first day of the Battle of Ancre, the British army were advancing along the River Ancre to capture Beaumont Hamel. The Royal Marine Battalion were in positions on the Varennes line, in preparation for an attack on the German trench systems near the village. There was a thick mist on the ground as the attack commenced at 5.45am, with the Battalion advancing in four waves. The German defences were very strong and every Company commander had been killed before the Battalion had reached the enemy front line.  The ground was very muddy and covered with shell holes which made progress very slow, enabling the German defenders to take their time and make good use of their weapons. Heavy machine gun and artillery fire caused havoc among the advancing British troops and it was estimated that 50% of the Battalion’s casualties occurred in No Man’s Land. Continuing machine gun fire between the German second and third lines resulted in further losses. It is not known at which point Ernest was killed but he has no known grave.

His names is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, France. (Pier/Face 1A.)

Oliver George Jeffs

5836588, Private, 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 27th January 1944 aged 21.

Oliver was the son of Harold & Alice Jeffs of 15 Ellis Avenue. Before joining the Army he was employed by Oakmead nurseries, Stevenage. He joined the Home Guard as soon as it was formed and later volunteered for the RAF but was rejected. The battalion was positioned near Maungdaw and was heavily engaged with Japanese troops. It is uncertain at what stage Oliver was hit but he died as a result of wounds he received during the action.

Oliver is buried in the Calcutta Bhowanipore cemetery, India. (Plot L Grave 125.)

William John Jenkins

14631225, Private, 5th Battalion, Dorset Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 16th February 1945 aged 29.

William was the son of William & Bertha Jenkins and the husband of Beatrice Jenkins of 56 Ellis Avenue, Stevenage. He was mistakenly reported as killed in action in North Africa whilst serving with the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment. However, he was wounded in the thigh at Caen in July 1944 when his Battalion was involved in the storming of a wood.

On the 15th February 1945 the Battalion was involved in the push across the Rhine and the taking of the town of Goch. They set off towards the town of Berghof where they were tasked with capturing several objectives. After an hours march they arrived on the outskirts of the town where they came under machine gun fire from both the enemy and troops of the 7th Hampshire Regiment. It was not until the early hours of the 16th February that the situation became clear. At the same time as the Dorset’s had approached Berghof the enemy had counter attacked the town. The 7th Hampshire’s, not realising the situation, were not only keeping the Germans at bay but also the men of the 5th Dorset’s.  William was killed during this action, possibly by British troops.

He is buried in the Reichswald Forest cemetery, Germany. (56.F.2).