Harry William Sharman

133030, Gunner, 21st Battalion, Machine Gun Corps.

Died Of Wounds on the 16th September 1918 aged 18

Gunner Harry William Sharman

Harry was the son of John Sharman of Bardwell in Suffolk. It is believed that Harry came to the town in search of work and before joining the Army was employed as a Milk Cart attendant by Mr.Moules in Stevenage and later by Mr.C.F.Allen.

He joined up when he was 18 as he had two brothers already serving in the forces, one of whom was also killed. He went to France in April 1918 and it was only a short time before he was wounded. Having recovered he returned to his unit and on the 12th September he was in a dugout when a shell exploded nearby, a piece of shrapnel then pierced the walls and entered his back. He died from his injuries four days later.

Harry is buried in the Varennes Military Cemetery, France. (4.A.15.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

 

Frank Albert Shelford

170891, Gunner, “B” Battery, 180 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

Died Of Wounds on the 16th July 1917 aged 21.

Gunner Frank Albert Shelford
(Photo Courtesy Of Stevenage Museum)

Frank was born on the 7th January 1987, the son of Frank & Annie Shelford, of 14, Letchmore Rd., Stevenage. His father, a Baker and Corn Merchant died at the age of 40 in March 1910. His brothers Henry, Walter and Arthur also served in the Army but Arthur was discharged due to a medical condition after just 19 days service.

Sadly, Henry Shelford was killed in action on the 23rd July 1918 whilst serving with the Tank Corps in France. Walter Shelford served with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

It is known that Frank received serious shell wounds to his legs, which eventually led to his death.

He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. (XVI. F. 6.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

 

Fred Shelford

27815, Lance Corporal, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 27th September 1916 aged 27.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Fred was the son of Joseph & Mary Shelford of 35 Albert Street, Stevenage.

He was killed during the assault on Thiepval village on the 27th September 1916. It was a very dark morning and the two Companies, “C” & “D”, who were detailed to make the assault set off at 5.30am to attack the German positions. They were subjected to extremely heavy rifle and machine gun fire from the defenders of one the strongest positions in this sector of the Western Front. The Battalion suffered some 112 casualties during the attack including Fred Shelford.

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

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Henry John Shelford

91574, Corporal, 9th Battalion, Tank Corps.

Killed In Action on the 23rd July 1918 aged 23.

Corporal Henry John Shelford

Henry was born on the 23rd April 1895 the eldest son of Frank & Annie Shelford of 14 Letchmore Road, Stevenage. Before he joined the Army he was employed at his uncle George's locally renowned bakery.  His brothers Frank, Walter and Arthur also served in the Army but Arthur was discharged due to a medical condition after just 19 days service. Sadly, Frank Shelford died of wounds received in action in Belgium on the 16th July 1917. Walter Shelford served with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Initially, Henry Shelford served with the Bedfordshire Regiment and arrived in France on 17th March 1915 but he was later transferred to the newly formed Tank Corps.

On the 23rd July 1918 his Battalion were in a position near Moreuil. This was to be the first time that British tanks had co-operated with French infantry and although the action was deemed to be a success, the loss of life was heavy. The objective was to seize St.Ribert Wood and capture the village of Mailly-Raineval, whilst also supporting the French troops whose objective was the capture of the village of Aubervillers. The Battalion left Rosiel with 42 Tanks but due to mechanical failures only 35 were able to make it to the start point and of these, only 21 were to see action. After the laying of an initial barrage the Tanks set off for their objective but were soon fired upon by German artillery located in the South of St.Ribert Wood. Several Tanks were hit by direct fire and put out of action, their crews being either killed or wounded. The fighting was intense but the levels of co-operation were very good and the French troops soon moved into the wood to successfully tackle the well entrenched German infantry and quickly captured their objectives. The cost was a high one with the Tank crews sustaining 72 casualties, either killed, wounded or missing. The French infantry suffered the loss of 61 Officers and 1938 NCO’s and Men.

Henry Shelford is buried at Roye New British Cemetery, France. (3.F.15.)

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

Thomas Jasper Shovell

Chaplain 4th Class (Captain), Royal Army Chaplains Department. Attached to 2nd/2nd Wessex Field Ambulance.

Died of Wounds on the 5th October 1918 aged 34.

Chaplain 4th Class Thomas Jasper Shovell

Thomas was born on the 2nd August 1884, the son of Thomas and Ellen Shovel of Upton Cross, Linkinhorne, Cornwall.  His father was Chairman of the Liskeard Union Board of Guardians and Thomas was destined to become a Wesleyan minister. He was ordained in July 1912 after which he was in charge of the English Weslyan Methodist Chapel in Holyhead from August 1914 until March 1916 when he departed for Preston, Lancashire.

He then worked in the Hitchin and Stevenage area under the Reverend John Pellow, and lived in Green Street, Stevenage. At the outbreak of war he had offered his services to the Weslyan Army & Navy Board, but was told there was no vacancy for him. Not satisfied that he was in the right sphere of labour he wrote to the Chairman of his local board and said that unless he was offered a Chaplaincy he would enlist in the Army as a Private.

He joined the Royal Army Chaplains Department on the 16th January 1918 as a Chaplain 4th Class (Captain). After a short introduction to Army life the Reverend Shovell embarked from Folkestone on the 29th January 1918 for France where he was attached to the 2nd/2nd Wessex Field Ambulance on the Western Front, for which he received the princely sum of 10 shillings a day for his work.

He died on the 5th October 1918 from shrapnel wounds received in the field whilst walking with a Medical Officer and is buried in the Louverval Military Cemetery, Doignies, France.

His name is not recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial but it is listed on the Holyhead County School Great War Memorial, the Upton Cross Methodist Chapel, which was part of the Liskeard and Looe Methodist Circuit and the Linkinhorne War Memorial.

Headstone Inscription: "With Christ Which Is Far Better"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Ian Stuart Alexander Smith

6094809, Lance Sergeant, “C” Company. 2/7th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 18th January 1944 aged 24.

Ian was the son of John & Madge Smith and joined the Army in 1940 at the age of 20.

His Regiment served as part of the 35th Infantry Brigade, 56th (London) Division which fought with the 8th Army in North     Africa. Ian saw considerable service in the desert theatre and later took part in the invasion of Italy. He was wounded on 21st September 1943 during the Allied landings at Salerno.After recovering from his wounds he rejoined his unit and served almost continually on the front line.

On the 17th January 1944 Ian’s Battalion were in position near the village of Lauro and were  involved in an attempt to cross the Garigliano River. The allies were held up in Italy on the Gustav line and the 10th British Corps had the task of breaking through on the southern flank, from the mouth of the Garigliano to Cassino to pave the way for the Anzio landing. There was considerable shelling from German artillery andmany snipers were operating in the area. The Battalion had to make an assault through an orange grove and this was hampered by both the density of the trees and German heavy machine guns which were located in the area. The following day Ian was leading his platoon and had gone forward alone to rescue a wounded man. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded and later died from the effects of his wounds.

Ian is buried in the Minturno War Cemetery, Italy. (7.K.22.)

 

James Smith

66584, Sapper, 64th Field Company, Royal Engineers.

Killed In Action on the 10th July 1916 aged 24.

Records indicate that James was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and that at the time of his enlistment he was living in Stevenage.

He arrived in France on the 11th May 1915.

His company was serving with the 9th Division on the Somme and was, at the time of his death, attached to a South African Brigade. On the 10th July 1916, during the initial stages of the Somme battle, his Company was sent to defend a position known as Longueval Alley which was a trench running from Bernafay Wood to Trones Wood. Fighting in the area was very heavy and it is not known at what point James was killed.

He is buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Somme, France. (7.W.9.)

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

William Herbert Smith

19836, Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 7th May 1917

William arrived in France on the 27th July 1915.

On the 23rd April 1917 the Battalion were engaged in an attack on the village of La Coulotte during fighting in the Zouave Valley. The Commanding Officer described the attack as “most hazardous” and praised his men for their efforts. As the attack moved forward one company became trapped between two belts of barbed wire, at some places over 15 feet thick, and an enemy communication trench. The CO stated that his men were caught like rats and the Germans made good use of this by bringing heavy rifle and machine gun fire to bear on them.

William Smith had been given the job of running out a wire for a power buzzer, which was an early type of intercom used to keep the supporting troops aware of the situation. He was wounded during this tragic assault and lay out on the battlefield for most of the day before being rescued. After being evacuated for treatment to his wounds, he was moved to a General hospital but died on the 7th May as result of his injuries.

His Commanding Officer had recommended him for an award of the Military Medal but this was never confirmed.

He is buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. (4.B.5.)

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

Percy Harry Snelgrove MM

265339, Sergeant, “H” Company. 1st Battalion. Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 11th January 1918 aged 21.

Sergeant Percy Snelgrove MM

The life and death of Percy Snelgrove is filled with uncertainties but what is clear is that he was born in Stevenage on Boxing Day 1896, the son of William Francis and Florence Snelgrove. The 1911 Census shows him as a 14 year-old Blacksmith living at 10 Trinity Road, Stevenage.

Only a few pages of his Army Service Record exist but these state that he joined the Hertfordshire Regiment in Hitchin on the 2nd June 1913 with the Service Number 2214 and, at the time, was employed as a Machinist at the Educational Supply Association in Stevenage. It also states that his age on enlistment was 17 years and 5 months but this is incorrect and he was just 16 years and 6 months old.

Percy was posted to France on the 6th November 1914. Very little detail exists with regard to his award of the Military Medal, which was awarded on the 23rd February 1918, nor his eventual death. It is known that the Battalion was in the Steenbeek area of Belgium when he was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 153.)

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

Robin Snoxell

G/73553, Private, 24th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.

Killed In Action on the 25th August 1918 aged 18.

Robin was the son of Norman & Emily Snoxell of 3 Walkern Road, Stevenage. Before his service in the Army he had worked for the Shelford Brothers bakery and Eastmans the Butcher in the High Street. Both he and his twin brother, John, had tried to join the Army in 1914 when they were aged 15. Although they were rejected for service, because of their age, they were allowed to join the local VTC, which was a form of Home Guard. On reaching enlistment age they both joined up and Robin was posted to the Royal Fusiliers whilst John served as a Signaller with the Suffolk Regiment. Their elder brother George was serving in the Royal Navy.

Robin received his training in Ireland and was then posted to France. On the 25th August 1918 the Battalion were in positions near the village of Behagnies, close to Gomiecourt. They were tasked with attacking German positions, which were reported as containing many machine guns, and the assault began at 3.30am. A barrage was laid down and the troops kept so close to it that, in most cases, the Germans did not have time to man their positions before they were overrun. Although over 200 German prisoners were take, the Battalion had suffered as many casualties in the engagement, one of whom was Robin Snoxell.

He is buried in the Gomiecourt South Cemetery, France. (3.C.3.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.