Walter Street

21022, Private, 8th Battalion, Border Regiment. (Formerly 19847 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Missing in Action on the 5th July 1916 aged 29.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Walter was the son of William & Emily Street of 16 High Street, Stevenage. His brother, Frederick George, died in Egypt in 1918 whilst serving with the Royal Artillery but his name has not been recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial.

Walter arrived in France on the 22nd August 1915. He served for almost a year on the Western Front when his unit became involved in the Battle of the Somme. The Battalion, part of the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division, were involved in the very heavy fighting around the village of Thiepval and Walter had survived the first day of the battle, when the British army suffered some 60,000 casualties. The conditions were ghastly and eyewitnesses recalled that that the bodies of the dead were still lying on the battlefield many days later. The fighting was both intense and chaotic, therefore, it is not known at what point he was killed.

Walter has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Pier/Face 6A)

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


Ernest Taplin

27090, Private, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Missing in Action on the 23rd July 1916 aged 28.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Ernest was born on the 12th April 1887, the son of William & Delia Taplin of 5 Southsea Road, Stevenage. He worked as a Builders Labourer before joining the Army. His younger brother, Nelson, was also killed in action in Belgium on the 12th October 1917.

His Battalion were held in reserve during the first three weeks of the Battle of the Somme and did not find themselves in Front Line positions until the 19th July, where they remained in a reserve position until the night of the 23rd July 1916. It was then that the Battalion were engaged in pushing out small-fortified posts from the trenches between High Wood and Delville Wood.  Ernest was killed in the support trenches at Ginchy during a German artillery bombardment.

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

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Nelson Taplin

G/24106, Private, 7th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 12th October 1917 aged 19.

Private Nelson Taplin

Nelson was the son of William & Delia Taplin of 5 Southsea Road.  Before his service in the army he was employed by Mr. F.Ashwell, a butcher, in Stevenage and in December 1916 his employer had made an application for Nelson to be exempt from military service. Sadly, this was refused and within a year Nelson was to perish on the battlefields of Flanders.

His older brother, Ernest, was also killed in action in Belgium during the war.

The battle of Poelkapelle began on the 9th October 1917 and on the night of 10th/11th October the Battalion took over front line positions from the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment and the 8th Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding) Regiment. They were ordered to attack German positions the following day with zero hour being set for 5.25am. As the assault got underway one of the leading companies reported that there being hit by shells from the British artillery barrage that were falling short. Bad weather and poor ground conditions made tough going for the attacking troops and most of the officers and NCO’s had become casualties due to very heavy German shelling. Subsequently, the attack failed and had cost the Battalion a total of  385 officers & men either killed, wounded or missing.

The grave of Private Nelson Taplin in the Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium.

Nelson is buried in the Cement House Cemetery, Langemarck, Belgium. (6.C.27.)

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

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Harold Reuben Tavener

425753, Private, 29th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment.

Harold was born in Fulham, London, on the 22nd June 1882, the son of Reuben & Jemima Tavener. The family later made their home at “Homeleigh”, Essex Road, Stevenage. Harold emigrated to Canada in 1908.

He attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Winnipeg on the 16th February 1916. Harold stepped aboard the S.S. Lapland on the 13th March 1916 as part of the 45th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, and set sail for the shores of England, arriving in the motherland some twelve days later.

It was on the 7th May 1916,  that Harold found himself transferred from the 45th Battalion to the 29th Battalion (British Columbia) of the Canadian Infantry. On the 30th October 1916, Harold was admitted to No.23 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a bout of Trench Fever. He remained in hospital until the 16th November, by which time he was deemed to be sufficiently fit enough to re-join his unit and returned to his Battalion.

He was reported as Missing in action at Vimy Ridge on the 17th April 1917 and was not seen again. His Battalion were in a support area east of Neuville St.Vaast and the war diary shows that there was no enemy activity. However, it does record that 1 man was killed and 2 others wounded, probably as the result of artillery shell fire.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Vimy Memorial to the Canadian Forces.

Frederick Tavenor

266175, Private, 2nd/1st Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. (184th Brigade. 61st Division)

Missing In Action on the 19th July 1916 Aged 26.

Frederick was the son of George and Eliza Tavenor, of Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Beds. At the time of his death he was a resident of Aston.

He was to be lost during the first major action in which the 61st Division was engaged, regarded as an unmitigated disaster. An attack was made on 19th July 1916 at Fromelles, a subsidiary action to the much larger battle taking place further south on the Somme. The Division suffered very heavy casualties for no significant gain and no enemy reserves were diverted from the Somme. Such was the damage to the Division and its reputation that it was not used again other than for holding trench lines until 1917.

On the 18th July 1916, his Battalion were in the front line when "A" Company, who were holding the Battalion front, suffered a devastating blow. British artillery shells fell short and struck a gas container in the trenches where they were waiting. 78 men were lost, an ominous beginning to their time on the front line.

The following morning the 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of "C" Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

The Unit War Diary for the latter part of the day has this poignant entry; At 6pm, with a cheer, the four waves leapt up and assaulted the enemy's trenches. Even before 5.40pm, the enemy's machine guns had become busy; and at 6pm they mowed down the advancing waves, so that only a few men actually reached the German parapet. They did not return.

Map showing the location of the 2/1st Ox & Bucks Light Infantry during the Battle of Fromelles on the 19/20 July 1916.

The Battalion had gone into action with 20 Offivers and 622 Other Ranks. By the end of the day this had been reduced to 6 Officers and 300 Other Ranks.

It is not known at what point Frederick Tavenor was lost, but his body was never recovered and he has no know grave.

His name is recorded on the Loos Memorial, France. (Panel 83 to 85)

Norman Teale

802636, Gunner, 60th Field Regiment. Royal Artillery.

Missing between 30th May & 2nd June 1940 aged 28.

Norman was the husband of Mary Teale of Stevenage. At the time of the German invasion of France and Belgium the unit was stationed at Lille near to the Franco-Belgian border. The official War Diary was destroyed during the retreat and the only documents available to provide any insight as to the fate of the men of the Regiment lay in several reports made by unit officers after their return from Dunkirk.

It appears that on the 13th May 1940 the Regiment was posted to Brussels to help try to stem the invasion. After several days, on the 18th May, it moved back to Den Hock and later that day to Courtrai. On the 23rd the Regiment, under constant enemy attack, moved to Armentieres near to Lille. The following day they moved again, this time to Houplines and then Wytschaete. They remained here for several days and tried to establish what the position was but this proved extremely difficult due to the speed of the German advance. A variation of troops passed through the Regiment’s position, many of them in complete disarray. Eventually on the 30th of May the Regiment was ordered to the town of Isenberghe, some 12 miles from Dunkirk. Here they had to abandon their vehicles and guns and destroyed them before walking to Dunkirk. That night they arrived on the beaches at La Panne. It is believed that at some stage during this late part of the evacuation Norman was lost on Bary Dunes, possibly killed in one of the many air attacks.

His body was never found and, as a result, his name is recorded on the Dunkirk Memorial. (Column 15)

Ian Brodrick Tetley

Lieutenant, Royal Navy, HMS Neptune.

Died At Sea on the 19th December 1941 aged 26.

Ian was the only son of Michael & Dorothy Tetley who lived at the Priory, Stevenage. He was commissioned into the Royal Navy on the 2nd April 1940 and joined the crew of HMS Neptune in June of that year. On the night of 19 December 1941, Force K, a cruiser raiding squadron consisting of HMS Neptune, HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope, set out from Malta and were steaming in line ahead some 20 miles north of Tripoli.

HMS Kandahar, HMS Lance, HMS Lively and HMS Havock were acting as a screen as the squadron headed on a southerly course. They were expecting to intercept a German and Italian convoy but, instead, ran into a minefield. HMS Neptune, in the lead, was at once disabled by the first explosion. Immediately afterwards both HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope also struck mines. HMS Aurora was holed and HMS Penelope suffered only minor damage, but they both managed to get clear of the minefield. The surprise achieved by this minefield, laid so far from the coast and in a depth of 100 fathoms of water and hitherto considered too deep for mining, was complete and devastating.

HMS Neptune, immobilised, severely damaged, and drifting helplessly in the minefield made preparations to be taken in tow by the destroyer leader, HMS Kandahar. As the little destroyer edged in towards the stricken Neptune a mine detonated her aft magazine and Kandahar lost about 100ft of her stern and 60 men perished.

HMS Neptune now ordered the other destroyers to stay clear and as the force was very close to the enemy coastline and there was a likelihood of air attacks. Despite strenuous efforts to reach her they were forced to abandon the stricken ship. HMS Neptune shortly rolled over and sank.

HMS Kandahar, after many anxious hours, drifted clear of the minefield and twenty-four hours later HMS Jaguar rescued 8 officers and 157 ratings.

There was no sign of HMS Neptune or her company but it later transpired that 16 men, including the Captain, had survived on a raft. The raft was found four days later by two Italian torpedo boats but with only one man was alive, Leading Seaman Walton. 765 officers and men perished.  Ian Tetley has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 44. Column 3.) 


Ernest Reginald Titmus

M/4563, Petty Officer (2nd Class Writer), HMS Attentive, Royal Navy.

Died on the 22nd October 1918 aged 25.

Petty Officer Ernest Reginald Titmus

Ernest was born on the 3rd April 1893, the only son of Edward & Sophia Titmuss of Fishers Green Road, Stevenage.

He joined the Royal Navy on the 10th June 1912. At the time of his death he had been married to his wife, Hilda May Titmus, for 18 months and the couple had a young child. He is known to have taken part in the Battle of Jutland.

Ernest contracted influenza at Dover and died at the Royal Marine Hospital in Deal.

He is buried in the St. Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.

Ernest William Tooley

33141, Private, 8th Battalion. Leicestershire Regiment. (Formerly 6567 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Died Of Wounds on the 25th November 1916 aged 21.

Private Ernest William Tooley

Ernest was the son of Henry & Harriett Tooley who lived at 16 Alleynes Road, Stevenage. His father was a local tailor and before joining the Army he had been employed by Leggetts fishmongers and by the Glazley Coach Works as a Coach Painter.

He enlisted in the Army on the 26th February 1916 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, and initially served with the Bedfordshire Regiment. Following the completion of his training he was posted to France on the 3rd November 1916 and on arrival he was transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment. He joined the 8th Battalion on the 16th November and a few days later, on the 23rd, the Battalion were in positions in the Hohenzollern sector of the Western Front. They were heavily bombarded for nearly four hours by German trench mortars and it is believed that it was during this bombardment that Ernest was wounded. He was taken to No.7 General Hospital at St.Omer where he died two days later

He is buried in the Longuenesse (St.Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France. (4.A.79.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.