Alfred Forder

17523, Private, 2nd Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 30th July 1916 aged 30.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

He arrived in France on the 9th June 1915 and served continuously on the Western Front. On the 30th July 1916 his Battalion were taking part in the Somme Offensive and the plan of attack was for 30th Division to move due East and capture the German second line of defence between Falfemont Farm and Guillemont. The task was a big one where, in one place, the 89th Brigade had to advance for a distance of over a mile of big rolling countryside. Prior to the general advance a subsidiary attack was planned on Maltzhorn Farm. At 22.00pm on the 29th July the battalion moved up to its assembly positions South of Bernafoy and Trones Wood. The Germans shelled the battalion with Tear Gas and a new sort of Gas that caused violent stomach pains and headaches amongst the men. "A" Company attacked Maltzhorn Farm with a battalion of French troops and although they did not hold the Farm the attack was deemed a success. About 70 - 80 German troops were taken by surprise in a trench running North to South through the Farm and were, with one exception, all killed.

"A" Company returned to the battalion having suffered about 30 casualties. By this time a fog had come up and made things extremely difficult for the assaulting troops to determine the line of attack. This was then compounded by heavy shelling from the German artillery and the whole attack started in a very lose direction. After much confusion the fog lifted at about 11.00 am and it was discovered that the attack had failed. The subsidiary attack and the main assault had cost the battalion over 200 casualties. It is not known whether Alfred Forder was killed in the subsidiary or main assault, as his body was never recovered from the battlefield. Another Stevenage man, Private George Draper, who was serving in the same Battalion, was also to lose his life in the assault.

Alfred Forder 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.

Henry Charles Forder

8118, Private, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died on the 21st January 1918.

Private Henry Forder

Henry was born on the 27th January 1887, the only son of Mr Henry Charles Forder of North Road, Stevenage. On the 12th November 1904, at the age of 18 years and 10 months, Henry, then employed as a Labourer, joined the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hitchin.  He served with the Battalion in India, Aden and Bermuda before returning to the UK for Home Service.

He was posted to France on the 16th August 1914 where the Battalion moved by train to Le Cateau. They then marched a further 5 miles to billets in Pommereuill. He suffered a sprain to his right foot on the 6th September 1914 and was returned to the UK, where remained in hospital until the 8th November when he was posted back to France, joining the 2nd Battalion at Bailleul on the 12th November 1914. He then served with the Battalion throughout the winter of 1914/15 eventually being promoted to Sergeant by the 25th September 1915. He was admitted to No.97 Field Ambulance on the 28th March 1916, suffering from Laryngitis and was sent to the 30th Division Rest Station, where he remained until 2nd April when he was posted back to his unit.

On the 11th July 1916, Henry was wounded at Trones Wood during the Battle of the Somme but remained at duty. However, on the 15th August 1916 he was Reduced To The Ranks as a result of Inefficiency. There currently appears to be no explanation for this event. On the 25th February 1917 Henry was admitted to No.96 Field Ambulance suffering with Dyspepsia and was sent to 30th Division Rest Station but his condition grew worse and he was then sent to No.22 General Hospital at Camiers on the 10th March 1917. On the 15th March Henry boarded the Hospital Ship Gloucester Castle and returned to the UK. He was admitted to the Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital and on the 28th March 1917 was subject of a medical board, where it was determined that he was suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis and that he was no longer fit for war service.

Henry was discharged from the Army on the 18th April 1917. He was awarded the Silver War Badge, numbered 128669, and returned to civilian life. Henry Forder died in Ware Hospital on the 21st January 1918 from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, which, a local newspaper report claimed, was as a result of the effects of being gassed and exposure. It also claimed that Henry was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in January 1918 but official records do not substantiate this claim.

Henry is buried in the St.Nicholas Churchyard, Stevenage.

Medal Entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal & Silver War Badge.

Cuthbert Foster

20950, Flight Lieutenant (Pilot), No.88 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

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

Flight Lieutenant Cuthbert Foster.
(Courtesy of Stevenage Museum)

Cuthbert Foster was born on the 18th October 1898 and lived at 39 Walkern Road, Stevenage. After completing his education he began work as a Bank Clerk but by this time war had been declared,  and he was carried along with the wave of patriotism like so many young men of his generation. Shortly after his 18th birthday he volunteered for military service and joined the Army in February 1917 as a Private. At this point in the war the exploits of the men of the Royal Flying Corps, particularly the Fighter pilots, were the subject of intense media attention and the romance of this new form of warfare cast a spell upon many young men, including Cuthbert.

In November 1917 he was selected for a commission in the RFC and  soon began his pilot training. During his flying training he suffered two crashes, both of which he managed to survive which, with flying still in it's infancy, was something of an achievement in itself. Despite these setbacks Cuthbert eventually graduated as a pilot on the 27th February 1918 and after gaining his "wings" was swiftly posted to "C" Flight of No.88 Fighter Squadron, which had only recently been formed.

The men of the squadron departed for France aboard the HM Australind on the 16th April 1918, arriving at Le Harve the following day. Although they were quickly taken to their final destination, Berques-Capelle aerodrome, the squadron's aircraft did not arrive there until the 25th April with their first offensive operation being flown the next day. The Squadron moved to Drionville aerodrome on the 19th July for short period after, which they moved to Serny aerodrome, arriving there on the 2nd August 1918.

Local newspaper reports state that during his time at the front Cuthbert was credited with shooting down six enemy aircraft and was responsible for damaging a great many more. Although squadron records indicate that he flew many types of aircraft including the DH6, Sopwith Pup and BE12, as well as the Bristol Fighter there is only one entry in the 1918 log which credits Cuthbert with the destruction of an enemy aircraft. This was on the 4th September when he, and his Observer Lieutenant B H Smyth, were in combat with a Fokker biplane over Seclin. The enemy aircraft was seen to dive to the ground out of control to, it must be assumed, it's destruction.

On the 27th September 1918 Cuthbert climbed aboard his Bristol F2b fighter, E2153, along with his observer, Sergeant Thomas Proctor (212137) a 31 year-old from Belfast. Along with four other aircraft they were to perform an escort role for aircraft of No.103 Squadron who were on a bombing mission. During the flight they were attacked by a number of enemy aircraft and Cuthbert was seen to perform a double loop whilst out manoeuvring a German aircraft that was on his tail. Having done this successfully he was last seen in full control of his machine but flying low and heading for the British lines. It was assumed at the time that his aircraft was suffering from engine trouble and that he was attempting to make his way back to base. Sadly, neither Cuthbert, his observer nor the aircraft were ever seen or heard of again.

His name is recorded on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas-De-Calais, France. (Addenda Panel)

Gordon Franklin

51342, Lieutenant, Royal Signals.

The grave of Lieutenant Gordon Franklin in Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France.

Killed between 28th May & 2nd June 1940 aged 32.

Lieutenant Gordon Franklin.

The son of Francis & Grace Franklin he was born in May 1908 and was educated at Alleynes school between 1917 & 1925. Gordon was then employed by the

Post Office as an electrical engineer and worked in Rugby, Cambridge and London.

He was amongst the many servicemen who were killed or went missing during the BEF retreat from France.

Due to the confusion of the retreat and the fact that many official records were lost the exact cause of his death is not known.

Gordon is buried in the Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France. (2.18.28).

Rupert Charles Connaught French

845038, Corporal, 907 Balloon Squadron, Royal Air Force.

Died on the 23rd November 1940 aged 31.

The grave of Rupert Charles Connaught French at St. Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage, but whose name is not recorded on the war memorial.

Rupert was the elder son of Rupert and Violet French who, in 1940, owned the Cromwell Hotel in Stevenage High Street.

He was serving with No.907 Balloon Squadron at Cardington and his wife, Alice, lived in nearby Biddenham. It was from his mother's Hotel that he left to return to his quarters at Bromham near Bedford on the evening of Saturday 23rd November 1940.

A Removal lorry had broken down on Hammer Hill near Cardington and a passing bus stopped to assist. The bus driver, George Plester, helped to fix a minor fault on the lorry and the two vehicles set off in opposing directions. At this point George Plester saw Rupert French come over the brow of the hill, travelling at a terrific speed, and flash past him. He then heard a crash and stopped his bus. He could see that Rupert's sports car had struck the rear of the removal van and burst into flames.

At first Plester tried to pull French free but the door of his car had jammed, so he tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher. Eventually he managed to pull French free but he was terribly injured and quickly died on the roadside.

Rupert French is buried in grave 554 of the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage, and, although he died whilst in the service of his country, his name is not recorded on the local War Memorial.

Arthur James Froy

Private, 2nd Hertfordshire Battalion, Home Guard.

Died on the 21st September 1943 aged 21.

The grave of Private Arthur James Froy at St. Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.

Arthur was the son of Claude & Ada Froy and the husband of Monica Froy. He was a keen Rover Scout, and lived at 103 Haycroft Road, Stevenage, with his wife of only 14 weeks. He was employed as a Draughtsman at Kryn & Lahy in Letchworth and was an enthusiastic member of the Home Guard.

On returning from a weekend camp at Knebworth he complained of an irritating insect bite on the back of his neck. Over the following week things became increasingly worse and he was eventually admitted to Hertford Hospital where he died on the following Tuesday from blood poisoning.

He is buried in the St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage. (Grave 658).

John Furr

53260, Private, 11th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 21st May 1918 aged 37.

John Furr

John was the son of Thomas & Mary Furr of Fishers Green, Stevenage. He lived at 1 Springfield Passage, Stevenage, with his wife Phyllis and their daughters, Phyllis & Violet. Before the war had been employed at the Worbeys timber yard in Trinity Place, Stevenage. He was one of five brothers who were serving in the Army all of whom had been either wounded or gassed, some both.

The Medal Index Card for John shows that he served with both the Labour Corps and the Manchester Regiment. He died from a serious gunshot wound to his thigh and is buried in the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, France. (5.H.2B.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal




Frederick William Game

17550, Private, 6th Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing in Action on the 15th July 1916 aged 19.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Frederick was the son of Jesse & Gertrude Game of “Hillcot”, Letchmore Road, Stevenage. Before the war he was employed at W.H.Smith & Son, the newsagent.

He was posted to France on the 30th July 1915 and 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's and the 11th Warwickshire Regiment. Initially, the advance went unopposed but as the two forward battalions went over the crest of a location named 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 killed and a further 25 Other Ranks Missing, including Frederick Game.

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.

Cecil George Gardner

233508, Private, “A” Company. 2nd Battalion, London Regiment.

Died on the 29th May 1919.

Cecil was the son of John & Ann Gardner. Very little is known about his early life but when he enlisted in the Army he was living in Albert Street, Stevenage. His sister, Jessie, was the publican of the North Star in the High Street.

Cecil’s military career was a relatively short one. He was called up for service in the Army on the 18th April 1916 at the age of 28 and requested that he be posted to the Grenadier Guards. However, following his initial training, he was posted to the 2nd Entrenching Battalion of the City of London Royal Fusiliers. He embarked for service in France on the 29th August 1916, arriving in Le Harve the next day. After initial acclimatisation he joined his unit on the 18th September in the Combles sector of the Somme. At this point in the war the Battle of the Somme was well under way and fighting in the area was both bitter and heavy.

On the 27th September, just 10 days after his arrival, Cecil was wounded by shellfire and received serious injuries to his buttocks and right foot. Although the wounds in his buttocks healed quite quickly, doctors felt that his condition was serious enough for a decision to be made to remove his right leg. Initially, his leg was amputated below the knee, but it failed to heal properly and Cecil had to undergo a further two amputations, eventually ending with an amputation some six inches above the right knee. On the 6th October 1916 he was transferred to the UK, having spent a total of 39 days in France.

After a long process of recovery he was finally discharged from service in the Army on the 20th June 1917 and received his Silver War Badge, numbered  199042, on the 22nd July 1917.  He lived in several different locations within the town bit spent a majority of his time living with his elder sister, who was now the landlord of the Dun Cow public house in Letchmore Road.

He was fitted with an artificial leg but his health remained poor. In April 1919 he was diagnosed as suffering with Pulmonary Tuberculosis and died on the 29th May 1919. He is buried at St.Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal & Silver War Badge.