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)

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.

Fredrick George Waldock

G/15649, Private, 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 21st October 1916 aged 21.

Fred was the son of Edward & Lucy Waldock who lived at 71 Albert Street. Before joining the army Fred had worked for Maythorn & Sons, coach-builders, of Biggleswade. He initially joined the Hertfordshire Regiment as Private with the Service Number 3282 but was later transferred to the Royal Sussex Regiment.

On the 21st October 1916, as the Battle of the Somme drew to a close, the Battalion took part in an assault on a position known as Stuff Trench. Very heavy fighting had taken place in the area since the commencement of the battle and Frederick was killed near Wood Post

He is buried in a shared grave at the Grandcourt Road Cemetery, Grandcourt, France. (Grave.A.50.)

Headstone Inscription: "Gone To Join His Loved Ones"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

George Leonard Waldock

103482, Private, 10th Battalion, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment. (Formerly 23530 Bedfordshire Regiment)

Died Of Wounds on the 23rd October 1918 aged 23.

Private George Leonard Waldock

George was born on the 5th February 1895, the eldest son of George & Alice Waldock who lived at 16 Southsea Road, Stevenage. He was one of 11 children and before joining the Army had been employed as an agricultural labourer by Ben Moules at Titmore Green Farm. At the time of his death, had two other brothers serving in the Army.

He himself joined the Army in 1915. He was seriously wounded for a third time by a gas shell on the French front and was transferred to Rouen Hospital.

On his arrival in Edinburgh he died from his wounds. He is buried in St. Nicholas churchyard, Stevenage.

Headstone Inscription: "The Souls Of The Righteous Are In The Hand Of God"

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.


Horatio Spencer Walpole

Lieutenant, No.1 Company, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

Killed In Action on the 9th April 1918 aged 36

The grave of Lieutenant Horatio Spencer Walpole at Bac-Du-Sud Cemetery, France.

Horatio was born on the 19th July 1881 in Hampton Road, Teddington the son of Henry Spencer & Frances Selina Walpole.  His father was a Barrister and Horatio was the heir to the two Baronies of Walpole. He was educated at Eton school and later at New College, Oxford. After leaving university he worked for Dangerfield, Blythe & Co of 26 Craven Street, Charring Cross.

In 1906 he married Dorothea Frances Montgomerie and and the couple lived at The Firs in Stevenage, where they later had two children.  His brother, a Lieutenant in the Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action at Loos on the 20th September 1915 but whose name is not recorded on the Stevenage War Memorial.

In January 1916 Horatio, who signs himself Horace, joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and, after completing his training, received a commission in the Guards in March 1916.  He was then posted to France in August 1916 and wounded on the 15th September, when he received a gunshot wound to his right forearm. The following day he was promoted to Lieutenant but his wound was a serious one and he was evacuated to No.8 General Hospital in Rouen for treatment, after which he returned to England. Horace did not return to France until August 1917.

On the 9th April 1918 he was commanding No.1 Company of the Battalion, which was in the front line at Boiry St Martin. A German artillery shell landed in the trench in which he was standing and killed him outright.

He is buried in the Bac-Du-Sud Cemetery, France. (2.B.22.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Charles William Ward

20351, Private, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died on the 25th November 1916

Charles lived at 10 Nottingham Road and before joining the army had worked at the ESA factory.

He joined up in 1914 and had served in France since January 1916 where he saw action in many of the major engagements on the Somme.

However, he was admitted to hospital suffering from appendicitis and although he appeared to be recovering from the operation suffered a fatal relapse.

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

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

Charles Warner

G/15355, Private, 8th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 15th May 1917 aged 26.

On the 15th May 1917 the Battalion were positioned in trenches near the village of Brandhoek. The Unit War Diary states that it was a quiet day until about 8pm when their positions were bombarded by very heavy trench mortar fire. The attack resulted in heavy damage to the trench system, the wounding of one man and the death of another, Charles Warner.

Charles is buried in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Zillebeke, Belgium. (Special Memorial E.18.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal