William Noah Chalkley

241933, Private, 2nd/5th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment

Died on the 11th April 1918 aged 42

Private William Noah Chalkley

William was the son of William & Eliza Chalkley of Letchmore Green, Stevenage. He married Jane Aldridge in the parish church at Graveley, Hertfordshire, on the 24th September 1898 and the couple lived in Walkern Road, Stevenage, where they had their first child, Cecil. William listed his occupation at that time as a Domestic Coachman but by 1911 he had become a publican, occupying a premises in Silver Street, Stanstead, Essex. By this time the couple had an additional three children, Clarice Maud, Lesley John and Alfred Percy. The family later moved back to Stevenage where they lived at 42 Alleyns Road.

William was called up for service in the Army on the 12th July 1916 at the age of 40, initially applying to join the Army Service Corps, but was posted to the 2nd/5th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, part of the Territorial Army. The Battalion only served in the UK and William did not serve overseas. Whilst in the performance of his duties at Chelmsford, Essex, in May 1917 he caught a serious cold and a cough. The cough persisted and he was admitted to hospital at Christmas 1917 where was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. William was examined at No.1 Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge, on the 2nd February 1918 and was recommended for a discharge. The Army attempted to place him in a sanatorium but William refused and requested to be sent home, which was now at 56 Stanmore Road, Stevenage, so that he could be nursed by his wife. He was discharged from the Army on the 27th February 1918 and his wife looked after him for six weeks but eventually he succumbed to his illness and died.

He is buried at St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.

Headstone Inscription: "And With The Morn Those Angel Faces Smile Which I Have Loved Long Since And Lost Awhile"

As William had not served overseas he was not entitled to any of the Great War campaign medals.

Arthur Chamberlain

134873, Sapper, “Z” Special Company, Royal Engineers

Killed in Action on the 3rd April 1917 aged 25

Sapper Arthur Chamberlain

Arthur was the son of Eli & Julia Chamberlain of 125 High Street, Stevenage. Before joining the Army he worked in his father’s Plumbing & Gas fitting business which may be the reason why he was selected to serve in a special unit of the Royal Engineers.

He was serving in “Z” company of the Royal Engineers which was a unit specialising in the use of Gas & Flame Projectors. On the 3rd April 1917 the company were proceeding along the Lille Road near Arras when they were heavily shelled by German artillery, killing Arthur Chamberlain and his Sergeant, Reginald Richard Ford MM, and seriously wounding their officer, Lieutenant Clement Stuart Hogg, who died three days later from his injuries at a Casualty Clearing Station near Aubigny.

The casualties were;

Lieutenant Clement Stuart HOGG aged 25 of Clapham, London.

He had previously served with the Royal Fusiliers and received his Commission on the 4th February 1917. Clement Hogg is buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

19883 Sergeant Reginald Richard FORD M.M. aged 29 of Cullompton, Devon.

He had served in the Army since 1910 and had been wounded on several occasions. Reginald Ford has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial (Bay 1.)

Arthur Chamberlain is buried in the St.Nicholas British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France. (Grave Reference: I.A.1.). His grave number indicates that he was the first soldier to be buried in this cemetery, which lays behind a housing estate on the outskirts of Arras.

Headstone Inscription: "Until The Day Break And The Shadows Flee Away"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

William Chamberlain

21056, Private, 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment

Killed in Action on the 1st July 1916 aged 27

The grave of Private William Chamberlain at Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, France.

William was the son of Sarah Chamberlain of 6 Bowling Green, Stevenage. He enlisted in the Army on the 23rd May 1910 joining the Bedfordshire Regiment, with the Regimental Number 9619. He served continuously with the battalion until the outbreak of the Great War, and was posted to France on the 6th October 1914.

On the 3rd November 1914, when the Battalion was situated at Inverness Copse near Gheluvelt, Belgium, William was wounded when their trenches were shelled by German artillery. A few days later on the 9th November 1915 he was transferred to the ranks of the 2nd Border Regiment.

William and a another Stevenage man, Harold Holdron were  to be killed in the most renowned battle of all, the first day of The Battle of the Somme, where the British army suffered devastating casualties. He fell when his battalion was involved in the assault on Mametz. The attack began at 07.27am with the Battalion being given the task of capturing a series of German trenches named; Danube Trench, Apple Alley, Shrine Alley and Hidden Lane.

The troops met with heavy machine gun fire from the village of Mametz as well as from Fricourt which was to their left. Eventually, they managed to achieve all their objectives but had suffered 343 casualties, including William Chamberlain.

He is buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz, France. (9.I.4.)

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

Ernest Chambers

105816, Shoeing Smith, No. 2 Section, Guards Division Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery

Died on the 20th November 1918 aged 32

Shoeing Smith Ernest Chambers

Ernest was born on the 25th February 1886, the son of John & Elizabeth Chambers of Symonds Green, Stevenage. Before joining the Army he had been employed by T.G & H.E.Worboys, Timber Merchants in Stevenage.

He served as a Blacksmith with the Royal Artillery and was posted to France on the 13th December 1915. Whilst on leave in September 1918 he married his sweetheart, Kathleen Stutley. Two months later he died in hospital of bronchial Pneumonia, probably as a result of contracting influenza. His brother, Seymour, was killed in action on the 24th June 1917.

Ernest is buried in the Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (Grave Reference:1.C.10.)

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

George William Chambers

974483, Lance Bombardier, 75th Medium (Shropshire Yeomanry) Regiment. Royal Artillery

Killed In Action on the 12th April 1945 aged 29.

The grave of Lance Bombardier George William Chambers in the Faenza War Cemetery, Italy.

George was born on the 26th August 1915, the son of Herbert & Sarah Chambers of 3 Nottingham Road, Stevenage. Prior to joining the Army he worked as a shop assistant in a grocery store. In 1942 he married Doreen Davies of Moss Side, Manchester.

His Regiment served through the Italian campaign, sometimes in support of the 5th Army, sometimes with the 8th, and saw action in many notable battles. These included the third battle of Cassino, operations against the Gustav Line and subsequent breakthrough, operations against the Hilter Line, actions at Arezzo and the occupation of Florence. On the day he was killed his unit were in action in the area near Imola Bridge, Italy. No details are given in the Unit War Diary as to how many casualties were suffered by the Regiment.

George is buried in the Faenza War Cemetery, Italy. (3.C.10.)

Headstone Inscription: "Sincere And True In Heart And Mind What A Beautiful Memory He Left Behind".

Seymour Augustus Chambers

28315, Private, “D” Company. 7th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment

Killed In Action on the 24th June 1917 aged 26

The grave of Private Seymour Augustus Chambers at Dickebusch Military Cemetery Extension, Ypres, Belgium.

Private Seymour Augustus Chambers

Seymour was the son of John & Elizabeth Chambers of Symonds Green. He married Annie Gray at the Parish Church, Walkern, Hertfordshire, on

the 24th April 1915 and the couple lived at 4 Nottingham Road, Stevenage. His brother, Ernest, died of Pneumonia on the 20th November 1918, probably as a result of contracting influenza.

He attested for Army service on the 10th December 1915 at the age of 24 years and 8 months and was called up on the 30th September 1916. He arrived at Calais on the 26th January 1917 as part of the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment, and was posted to the Regimental Training Battalion on the same day, returning to his parent Battalion on the 2nd March 1917. On the 15th June 1917 the Battalion relieved the 12th Royal Fusiliers in a front line sector close to Hill 60 near Ypres. Action in this area of the Western Front was constant and troops, on both sides, suffered continued daily shelling as well as numerous trench raids.

On the 24th June the Battalion were in the process of being relieved in order that they could obtain some respite from these arduous conditions. The relief was heavily shelled and were also subjected to a number of British gas shells, which had fallen short of their target. Although this period at the front had cost the Battalion 30 lives, only Seymour was killed during the relief stage.

He is buried in the Dickebusch Military Cemetery Extension, Ypres, Belgium. (Grave Reference: II.A.43.)

Headstone Inscription: "Never Frogotten"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

William Charles Clark

41742, Private, 8th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment

Missing In Action on the 10th September 1917 aged 19

Private William Charles Clark

William was the son of Percy John & Emma Clark of 55 Walkern Road, Stevenage.  His older brother, Percy George, served with No.4 Company of the Hertfordshire Regiment.

He was to lose his life during The Third Battle of Ypres, commonly referred to as the Battle of  Passchendaele. The offensive was launched on 31st July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on the 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 seen the heaviest rains 30 years and this, combined with the intensive shelling, had turned the ground into a hellish morass. William’s Battalion was involved in a heavy period of fighting in the Hollebeke sector and, following an action in Rossignol Wood, had moved to a Reserve area near Berthen.

It is believed that William lost his life when the area was shelled by German artillery.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Reference: Panel 35/37.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

John William Collins

33644, Private, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Missing in Action on the 5th August 1917 aged 22

Private John William Collins

John was born on the 19th June 1895 the son of John & Annie Collins of 48 Alleynes Road, Stevenage. After leaving school he worked for seven years as a Milkman for Francis Franklin of Rooks Nest Farm, Stevenage, and later lived with his wife, Daisy, & child at 29 Alleynes Road.

He was to lose his life during a major British offensive, the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele. On the 2nd August 1917 the Battalion left its billets at Dickebusch Camp and moved to positions in a location known as the Old French trench. By then it had been raining for three days and conditions were very bad with troops’ waist deep in water and liquid mud. In addition, the German artillery added to the misery by intensely shelling the area, causing a considerable number of casualties. On the 5th August John Collins was among a group of 30 men who were in several forward listening posts. They were attacked by a German raiding party which consisted of about 25-30 heavily armed men. A Lewis gun was used in an attempt to drive off the raiders but this was dropped and became jammed by thick mud. Eventually, the men in three of the posts withdrew through Jordan Trench to a position known as Alarm Weg. A total of fourteen men had been left behind either killed or wounded, including John Collins.

His body was never recovered and he has no known grave and, as such, his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 34.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Cecil Henry Cooper

S/4310, Private, 13th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade

Died on the 25th January 1917 aged 23

Cecil was the son of Edward & Eliza Cooper of 24 Hellards Road, Stevenage. Before joining the Army he worked as a local Blacksmith.

He arrived in France on the 25th July 1915 and served continually on the Western Front for 18 Months. On the 25th January 1917, whilst returning from France for his first leave, he suddenly collapsed at Victoria station in London. He was taken to the 2nd London General Hospital where the nursing staff found a letter in his pocket addressed to his mother. She was sent for and managed to reach her son, who had remained in a semi-conscious state, before he sadly died having suffered heart failure.

Cecil was buried in the St.Nicholas Churchyard, Stevenage, with the proceedings being administered by the Reverend John Robins. A compliment of troops stationed in the town fired three salutes and a trumpeter played the Last Post.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal