George Groom

J/26892, Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy, HMS Formidable.

Died At Sea on the 1st January 1915 aged 18.

George was born on the 29th October 1896, the son of John & Lizzie Groom.  He worked as farm labourer until he was 16 years old and joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on the 11th September 1913. After the completion of his training he was drafted to HMS Formidable on the 26th August 1914, three weeks after the outbreak of war.

HMS Formidable a 15,250 tons, pre-Dreadnought Battleship, launched in 1898 and first commissioned in 1901 was sunk by two torpedoes from a German submarine, U24,  off Start Point at 2 am on the 1st January 1915 while on exercises. The first torpedo hit the number one boiler port side; a second explosion caused the ship to list heavily to starboard. Huge waves thirty feet high lashed the stricken ship, with strong winds, rain and hail, sinking it in less than two hours. She sank in 180 feet of water about 37 miles off the Devon coast, the first British battleship to be sunk in the First World War.

Captain Loxley, his second-in-command, Commander Ballard, and the signaller stayed at their posts throughout, sending flares and rockets off at regular intervals. There was no panic, the men waiting calmly for the lifeboats to be lowered. Someone played ragtime on the piano, others sang. The Chaplain risked his life going below to find cigarettes. Suddenly the ship gave a tremendous lurch, the Captain shouted 'Lads, this is the last, all hands for themselves, and may God bless you and guide you to safety'. He then walked to the forebridge, lit a cigarette and, with his terrier Bruce on duty at his side, waited for the end, in true Royal Naval tradition. The piano was thrown overboard and many of the boats were smashed as they were lowered into the water, killing all occupants, or else were swamped and sank. Only 199 men were saved out of a complement of about 750.

George Groom has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 8.)

John Hale

GS/62832, Private, 20th Royal Fusiliers (3rd Public Schools Battalion) (Formerly 27165 Middlesex Regiment)

Missing In Action on the16th April 1917 aged 32.

John was the eldest son of John & Mary Ann Hale of Clay End, Walkern.

On the 16th April 1917 the Battalion were in the Front Line near Hindenburg Trench. They were detailed to attack German positions but the assault was driven back by very heavy machine gun fire and completely failed.

John has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Arras, France. (Bay 3.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

Bert Hart

Private, 1501, 20th Hussars.

Missing In Action on the 21st February 1915 .

On the 18th February 1915 the Battalion moved to the Front Line trenches from the town of Ypres. The following two days were relatively quiet and the only casualties to be suffered were men who deemed to be sick. Then on the 21st February the sound of heavy firing could be heard coming from East of their positions. The Germans had attacked and captured a trench held by the 16th Lancers and the Battalion were ordered to make an immediate counter-attack. The men of the Battalion managed to get within 20 yards of the captured trench but were stopped by flanking rifle fire. The Battalion suffered seven men killed, including Bert Hart.

The other six casualties were;

Number

Rank

Name

Age

Memorial

6436

Private

Benjamin Blackburn

28

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

5109

Lance Corporal

John Gibling (Served as Gibbon)

34

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

5457

Private

John James Jackson

Unknown

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

8649

Private

William Rock

20

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

10107

Corporal

John Walker

19

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

11484

Private

William Wood

Unknown

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

                                    

Bert’s body was not recovered and he has no known grave. His name is recorded, along with those of his comrades, on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. Panel 5.

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

Alfred Edward Holes

419016, Private, 1st/9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles).

Killed In Action on the 25th April 1918 aged 24.

Alfred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

Stanley Knight

36373, Private, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment. (Formerly 5695 Hertfordshire Regiment).

Missing In Action on the 2nd December 1917 aged 22.

Stanley was the son of James Alfred & Clara Knight. Before joining the Army he was employed by D.Foster in Walkern. He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 1st November 1915. After arriving in France as a Machine Gunner he was transferred to the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was wounded on the 20th May 1916 and did not return to France until June 1917.

On the 2nd December 1917 the Battalion were in position North of Passchendaele. They were ordered to take part in an assault on enemy positions and whilst preparing for the attack their positions were shelled by German artillery, causing some casualties. The attack commenced at 1.55am and the night sky was lit up with gold and green illumination flares. The Germans responded with considerable artillery fire causing numerous further casualties. In total the Battalion lost 88 men killed or missing on this night, one of whom was Stanley Knight.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 105/106.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

Fred Mace

93076, Private, “B” Battalion. Tank Corps. (Formerly 15029 Essex Regiment).

Missing In Action on the 23rd November 1917 aged 21 .

On the 22rd November 1917 the Battalion were ordered to attack the village of Fontaine in co-operation with 152nd Infantry brigade, with their final objective being the railway line just North of the village. That night 13 Tanks lay hidden in the sunken road near La Justice Farm, just below the ridge overlooking the village.

The following morning at 9.40am the Tanks moved off and arrived at the barrage line precisely at 10.30am, as instructed. The Tanks reached the village in the full expectancy that there would be strong enemy resistance but found the streets empty and strangely quiet. In fact, the German defenders were employing a new tactic, they had hidden themselves in the cellars and upper floors of the houses and waited for the Tanks to pass. Then there was a fierce assault on the Tanks and their crews, with the German infantry using grenades on the cabs and doors of the Tanks as these had proven to be more lightly armoured. Additionally, the Germans were employing a new type of anti-tank bullet and were also using anti-tank shells fired from a gun located on the Bapume – Cambrai road, north-east of the village. The Tanks were, in some cases, literally torn to pieces and many men perished in their blazing hulks. The British infantry were unable to give proper support owing to the heavy fire that was been aimed at them by the Germans located in the village.  Although the Tanks manoeuvred in and out of the village for most of the day they proved to be of little use without the appropriate infantry support and by 4pm the Battalion had taken a severe beating. Casualties were high with 60 men killed or missing and a further 88 wounded.

Fred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Cambrai Memorial, Louveral, France. (Panel 13.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

Arthur John Mackie

266514, Private, 1st Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 2nd September 1918 aged 21.

Arthur was the son of Albert & Ellen Mackie. He had been employed as a Carpenter by Bert Wright at the brewery in Walkern. He joined up in 1914 when aged only 17 and had served in France since 1915. He had a brother who was serving at the time in Egypt.

On the 2nd September 1918 the Battalion were in position at Fremicourt. A creeping artillery barrage opened an attack on German positions but when the forward companies of the Battalion reached them they were found to be empty of any enemy troops. The Battalion moved forward for a further 4 miles until they made contact with the enemy. It was during this action that Arthur was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas-De Calais, France. (Panel 10.)

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

Frederick Richard Milton

P/JX135312, Petty Officer, Royal Navy, HMS Fleur De Lys.

Died At Sea on the 14th October 1941 aged 26.

Frederick was born in Hertford on the 10th January 1915 the son of Ernest & Rachael Milton. After marrying his wife, Rhoda, the couple lived in Widley, Hampshire.

On the 14th October 1941 HMS Fleur De Lys was torpedoed by the German submarine, U-208, whilst in the Western approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar. The ship broke in half and quickly sank with only 3 of her 90 man crew surviving.

Frederick has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 46. Column 2.)

Henry Osborne

Henry Osborne

G/21258, Private, 10th East Kent Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 9th August 1918 aged 24.

Henry was born on the 9th August 1894 the son of Reed & Margaret Osborne of White Lion Lane and the husband of May Elizabeth Osborne of Stevenage Lane.  He was killed on his birthday during an attack on St.Floris near Hazebrouck. His brother, James, went missing on the 29th October 1918.

Henry is buried in the Merville Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (I.E.42.)

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal

James Samuel Osborne

G/25954, Private, 1st East Kent Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 29th October 1918 aged 19.

James was the son of Reed & Margaret Osborne of White Lion Lane, Walkern.. His brother, Henry, had been killed in action on the 9th August 1918. On the 29th October 1918 the Battalion were located near the village of Fayet. The night was cold and wet and patrols were made into the village. It was during one of these patrols that James was killed.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded  on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Pas-De Calais, France. (Panel 3.) 

Medal Entitlement:  British War Medal & Victory Medal