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.

Harry Gordon Garrod

265126, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 23.

Sergeant Harry Garrod

Harry was born in Halstead, Suffolk, the son of Jethro & Sarah Garrod. The family later moved to Southsea Road, Stevenage, where both father and his sons worked in the Educational Supplies Association factory.

He initially served in the Hertfordshire Regiment as Private 1773, and arrived in France on the 6th November 1914. He served continuously with his Regiment and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly referred to as the Battle of  Passchendaele. The offensive was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 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 village of St. Juliaan lies on the Steenbeek, one of the small streams that drains the fields in this area. On the 18th July 1917 a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment began which lasted for the ten days prior to the launch of the attack. The bombardment was made by 3,000 guns which expended four and a quarter million shells into the surrounding ground.  Given such an onslaught the German Fourth Army fully expected the attack and the element of surprise was entirely lost. Added to this was the fact that the area was suffering the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with the shelling, turned the ground into a hellish morass.

The Battalion were in support of an attack on the Langemarck Line and at 03.45am the planned assault began. It had three objectives to achieve known as Blue, Black & Green and units of the 116th Brigade easily captured the first two objectives, preparing the way for the forward companies of the Hertfordshire battalion, to take the third objective.  At 05.00am they left their assembly positions to attack their first two objectives, which they took successfully.

The men of the Battalion then ate breakfast and at 10.00am were ordered to attack their final objective, which lay over the crest of a ridge. As they made their way forward they came under heavy fire from both German machine guns and snipers but after eliminating a German strongpoint moved up towards St.Julian, which was only lightly held. The battalion was now in some difficulty and two of its supporting Tanks became bogged down in the mud. Things then went from bad to worse. A pre-arranged artillery barrage never materialised due to the guns being unable to move forward over the muddy terrain and the German barbed wire defences, which were fifteen feet deep in some places, were found to still be intact. In addition, 100% of the Officers had become casualties and the Battalion was now being led by NCO's, including Sergeant Harry Garrod.

It was soon realised that ground could only be won by section " rushes" supported by the unit’s own fire. The Cheshire Regiment were on the right of the battalion but the Black Watch, who were due to cover the left flank, had been seriously delayed. This left the Hertfordshire's seriously exposed and the Germans exploited this by bringing a hurricane of fire down upon the stricken troops. This was followed by a German counter-attack and by 10.30 am it was clear that the objective could not be achieved, and the remnants of the Battalion withdrew to their previous positions.. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed, missing or wounded.

Harry as no known grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

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

Walter Gates

122721, Driver, 66th Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery.

Died on the 8th October 1918 aged 21.

Walter was the youngest son of James & Eliza Gates of Park Farm, Aston. He had been married to Elsie Bryant for two years at the time of his death and the couple lived at 52 Alleynes Road, Stevenage. He had formerly been employed as a gardener at Shephall Bury gardens.

Walter died of pneumonia at a French hospital on 8th October 1918, possibly as a result of contracting influenza. His name is recorded on both the Stevenage and Aston War Memorials.

He is buried in the Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (3.A.25.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Percy Goodchild

214057D, Leading Seaman, Gunner 1st Class, HMS Defence. Royal Navy.

Killed In Action on the 31st May 1916 aged 29.

Percy was the son of S Goodchild of Beecroft Lane, Walkern. He was one of 6097 men who were killed during the Battle of Jutland on the 31st May 1916.

At 6.16 p.m. HMS Defense and HMS Warrior were observed passing down between the British and German Battle Fleets under a very heavy fire. HMS Defense was seen to blow up and HMS Warrior passed to the rear disabled. It is probable that Sir Robert Arbuthnot, during his engagement with the enemy's light cruisers and in his desire to complete their destruction, was not aware of the approach of the enemy's heavy ships, owing to the mist, until he found himself in close proximity to the main fleet, and before he could withdraw his ships they were caught under a heavy fire and disabled.

Percy has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 11.)

George Gray

265923, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing in Action on the 30th March 1918 aged 26.

Sergeant George Gray

George was the son of Harry & Ann Gray of Hellards Road, Stevenage.

He initially served as Private 3265 and was posted to France on the 21st January 1915 where served continually with the Battalion and took part in the Battles of Festubert and Loos.

On the 21st March 1918 the Germans began a major offensive against the British Armies in the Somme sector, the attack fell on the British line between Arras and St.Quentin. The Hertfordshire Regiment were being held in reserve near Gurlu Wood. The Battalion moved forward to positions near Villers Faucon to support the troops of the 16th Division who were retreating under the ferocity of the enemy attack. There was much confused fighting during the retreat and many casualties were suffered.

By the 27th March the Brigades of the 39th Division had lost contact with their Headquarters, which was practically surrounded. Casualties had continued to mount and by this time there were just four officers remaining to command the troops. On the morning of the 28th March the 39th Division began to withdraw but found that German troops were in their line of retreat. The 166th Brigade, including the remnants of the 1st Hertfordshire Battalion, attacked the village of Wiencourt in an effort to force their way through. The men advanced with great determination but the assault soon fizzled out due to the sheer lack of troops and no proper supporting fire from artillery. By the evening the men of the Battalion, reported to still be in good spirits, had reached a position near the River Luce. The withdrawal continued throughout the 29th with the Battalion assembling in a wood about a mile north-west of Aubercourt. The following day the confused fighting continued resulting in further casualties, including George Gray. The men of the 1st Hertfordshire’s had withdrawn a distance of 30 miles, as the crow flies. They had marched many more than this and had been fighting almost continuously all the way.

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

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

George Green

7275, Private, 1st Essex Regiment.

Died Of Wounds on the 8th May 1915 aged 34 .

George was the son of William & Ellen Green.

He landed at Gallipoli on the 24th April 1915 and was wounded shortly after his arrival when the Battalion was in position at Krithea. Fighting in the area was intense and the Battalion were called upon to support New Zealand troops but were forced to withdraw after coming under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.

It is believed that George was later evacuated to a hospital ship but after losing his fight for life was buried at sea.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. (Panel 144/150.)

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

John William Randolph Green

373671, Rifleman, 8th London Regiment (Post Office Rifles).

Died Of Wounds on the 2nd December1917.

On the 2nd December 1917 the Battalion were located in a sunken road near Bourlon Wood when they were ordered to attack German positions in the wood. There were a great many shell holes in the wood and the Germans were using these as shelter. Although the attack was successful the assault cost the lives of 31 men. John died as a result of wounds received during this action.

He is buried in the Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France. (6.C.26.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Reginald Green

A/200670, Rifleman, 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

Died Of Wounds on the 20th September 1918 aged 21.

Reginald was the fourth son of Walter & Emily Green of Fairview, Walkern. He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 6th November 1915 and was posted to France 21st September 1916.

He was sent home in December 1916 suffering from Trench Foot and did not return to France until June 1917. At some later stage he was transferred to the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.This Battalion were positioned in Courzancourt Wood in the Arras sector when they were given the order to attack German held positions. It is bekieved that Reginald was wounded during this assault and he later died of his injuries at No.47 Casualty Clearing Station at Asylum.

Reginald is buried in the Brie British Cemetery, Somme, France. (1.E.10.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

William Rudge Green

358084, Gunner, 62nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery (TF).

Died Of Wounds on the 14th October 1917 aged 36.

Grave of Gunner William Rudge Green at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium.

William was the son of George & Emma Green of 17 North Road.

He died on the 14th October 1917 from the effects of Gas Poisoning and is buried in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. (9.I.6.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Alexander John Gregory

200506, Corporal, 1/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 10th October 1917 aged 32.

Tyne Cot Memorial - Belgium

Alexander was the son of John & Sarah Jane Gregory and was to lose his life in the closing stages of one of the  major British offensives, The Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as the Battle of  Passchendaele.

The offensive had been launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 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 suffered the heaviest rains it had seen for 30 years and this, combined with intensive shelling from both sides, had turned the ground into a hellish morass.

On the 9th October 1917 the Battalion were located in two trenches called Canopus Trench and Califonia Drive, near a point called Winchester Farm, approximately 2 miles East of Passchendaele. They had been in the Front Line since the 27th September and had been fighting in terrible conditions. The following day the Battalion occupied shell holes near the village of Arbre under extremely trying conditions. It is not know at what point Alexander Gregory was killed but it is believed he may have been the victim of artillery fire.

His body was never been recovered and he has no known grave. His name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 105/106.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal