John William Alfred Belchamber

TF/201121, Private, 4th Sussex Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 26th March 1917.

On the 26th March 1917 the Battalion were at Deir El Belah. They were given an order to move to positions near El Shelluf Ridge where they were to attack Turkish forces that were entrenched there. There was a heavy mist covering the desert which did not lift until 8.15am, allowing the assaulting troops to see the Turkish positions. The assault began at 1.00pm with a Turkish trench being quickly taken and the attacking troops began to move up a nearby ridge. However, Turkish fire was very heavy and the Battalion attempted to hold it’s position but this could not be maintained and they were forced back. Soon the Battalion was relieved and were able to re-organise themselves.

The action had resulted in the loss of  4 Officers and 83 Other Ranks either killed or missing, with many more wounded.

John has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Jerusalem Memorial, Israel.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Charles Albert Bennett

106997, Gunner, 323rd Siege Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery.

Killed Accidentally on the 5th December 1917.

On the 5th December 1917 the Battery were in position near the village of Maroc and were firing on German artillery positions, with the aid of air observation. Charles Bennett was manning No.3 gun which was described as “practically new”. At 10.10am the gun suffered a “premature”, which is the detonation of an artillery shell whilst still in the breach. The resulting explosion killed Charles Bennett and wounded the remainder of the crew.

Those wounded were;

29701      Corporal  Harry Eaton

163421    Gunner    William W Adam

74931      Gunner    Norman Beswick

123001    Gunner    James W Burns

323068    Gunner    James D Whyte

Charles is buried in the Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, British Extension, Pas De Calais, France. (4. G. 1.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Frederick Bentley

3399, Private, No.4 Company, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment

Died of Wounds on the 9th September 1915 aged 23

Private Frederick Bentley buried at Chocques Military Cemetery, France.

Fred was the eldest son of local Bricklayer James Bentley and his wife, Amine of 35 Alleyns Road, Stevenage. After leaving school he followed in his father’s footsteps and took up the trade of bricklaying.

He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment on the 15th October 1914 and, following his initial training, arrived in France on the 23rd January 1915. By the 8th February Frederick found himself in trouble and received four days field punishment for gross negligence when cleaning his rifle. Later, on the 25th May, he was deducted four day’s pay for not complying with an order. Two weeks later, on the 6th June 1915, he was wounded in the abdomen, probably as a result of shellfire. Official records show that he died at No.1 Casualty Clearing Station at Chocques on the 9th September 1915 and was buried the same day by the Reverend H.D. Allen.

Frederick is buried in the Chocques Military Cemetery, France. (Grave Reference: I.D.90.)

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Charles George Massie Blomfield

Major, “A” Company. 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Killed in Action on the 9th June 1915 aged 36.

Charles was the son of Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Massie Blomfield and Lady Rosamund Selina Massie Blomfield (Nee Graves) and the husband of Hirrel Blomfield (Nee Clarence), of South Lodge, Boscombe, Dorset.

He was posted to Flanders on the 5th May 1915 and joined the Battalion on the 13th May where it was involved in fighting around Ypres. Some four weeks later whilst the Battalion was in Vlamertinghe he was killed by a snipers bullet.

Charles is buried in the Talana Farm Cemetery, Boesinghe, Belgium. (II.B.5)

Medal Entitlement: 1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Reuben Bradford

26710, Private, 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 23rd April 1917 aged 36

The Arras Memorial

Reuben was born on the 30th April 1882, the son of John & Sarah Bradford of Lymington Road, Stevenage. He later lived at Hoares Cross, Braughing, near Ware with his wife, Sylvia, and their children, Florrie & George. He enlisted in the Army in the village of Buntingford, Hertfordshire.

He was killed when the Battalion was called to attack the village of Gravrelle as part of the British offensive at Arras. The battalion went straight through the village gaining its objectives and consolidating its position on the Northern outskirts. Although they were heavily shelled throughout the day, and also had to fight off a heavy German counter attack, they succeeded in holding on to their objective despite suffering some 229 casualties. Reuben was killed at some point during this action, probably from German machine gun fire which accounted for many of the Battalions casualties.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Arras, France. (Bay 5)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Henry George Brown

20097, Lance Corporal, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 1st July 1916 aged 29

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Henry was the son of Henry George & Jane Brown, and the husband of Ann Brown of 7 Albert Street, Stevenage. He worked in Belgium before the First World War and was one of those who was killed in the most renowned action of the war, the first day of The Battle of the Somme.

The battalion, with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on its right, led the left of the attack by the 18th Division. They advanced at 07.30 am and within 15 minutes had captured the first line system of German defences, Emden Trench. Every officer in the two leading platoons, however, had fallen but the men pressed on led by NCO's. The Germans were well protected in their dug-outs and put up a fierce resistance. The assaulting battalions carried forward their attack supported by machine-guns and trench mortars which, according to the Divisional history, provided a hurricane bombardment. Eventually, at 9.30am, after an intensely bitter fight the Battalion took their objectives, the Pommiers Trench & Redoubt which were filled with German dead. The Battalion had suffered some 321 casualties during the assault.

An interesting point was that one of the Battalion officers, Captain A.E.Percival, was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the attack. In 1942, as General Percival, he was to be responsible for the British surrender of the island of Singapore to the Japanese.

At the time of his death local newspapers recorded Henry Brown as serving in the 8th East Kent Regt.

Henry has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. (Panel/Pier 2C.)

Arthur William Bryant

203268, Private, 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment

Missing in Action on the 18th September 1918 aged 24

Private Arthur William Bryant

Arthur lived in Nottingham road, Stevenage. He was his parent’s eldest son and was married. His wife, at the time of his death, was living in Breach Road, Maulden near Ampthill.

He worked at ESA and had joined the Territorial’s before the war as Private 2213, being mobilised with them when hostilities broke out. His Regimental number later changed to 265338, Hertfordshire Regiment and he then transferred to the Bedfordshire Regiment and then to the Essex Regiment. He was a Lewis gunner with his battalion and was killed in action at St.Quentin.

Although contemporary reports state that he was buried at the time of his death, Arthur has no known grave. As such his name is recorded on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France. (Panel.7)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

William Bryant

41297, Private, 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 12th April 1918 aged 19

Private William Bryant

William lived in Hellards Road, Stevenage and was one of two brothers serving in the forces. He initially joined the Bedfordshire Regiment but later was transferred to the North Staffordshire’s.

On the 12th April 1918 the Battalion had moved into positions on the Lindenhoek – Wytschaete Road, near Wulverghen, Belgium. It is believed that he was shot by a sniper.

William has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (Panel 124/125.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal