Arthur Bygrave

9374, Corporal, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Missing in Action on the 30th October 1914 aged 25

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

Arthur was a professional soldier who was drafted to the BEF from South Africa at the outbreak of the war. The battalion arrived at Zeebrugge on the 7th October 1914. He is believed to have been killed at the First Battle of Ypres during the battalion withdrawal from Zandevoorde.

On the 30th October 1914, the battalion came under shell fire in the early morning and , as trenches had not been dug during the night, the men took shelter in ditches and became a little dispersed. At 7.30am the 7th Cavalry Brigade was driven from Zandevoorde, which left the battalion's right flank exposed. The Germans occupied Zandevoorde at 10am and an enemy artillery battery came out into the open about 900 yards away and opened fire, but was soon overcome. The battalion, along with the Royal Scots Fusiliers were ordered to retire and by dusk were located behind the Gheluveldt -Zandevoorde Road, where the Companies had become somewhat intermingled. Arthur Bryant was reported amongst the missing men that day but was not confirmed as killed until August 1915.

His body was never found and he has no known grave. Arthur's name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

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

Reuben Bygrave

109991, Gunner, 22nd Reserve Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Died on the 6th August 1916 aged 30

The grave of Gunner Reuben Bygrave in St.Johns Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire.

Reuben was the son of Reuben & Eliza Bygrave of Symonds Green, Stevenage. He later married Rosina Sarah Rockall in the Summer of 1912 and the couple lived at 12 Alleynes Road. Their Daughter, Violet, was born on the 7th September 1915.

The 22nd Reserve Battery was part of 4B Reserve Brigade which was stationed at Boyton, Wiltshire. He was admitted to the Military Hospital at Suttom Veny and his death certificate states that he died from Larcoma of the Testicle and Exhaustion. As Reuben had not served overseas he was not entitled to any of the Great War campaign medals.

He is buried in St.Johns Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. (Grave Reference: 237.B.2.)

Headstone Inscription: "Gone From Us But Not Forgotten"

Thomas Charles Canfield

16911 Private " A" Company. 7th Bedfordshire Regiment (54th Brigade. 18th (Eastern) Division).

Died Of Wounds on the 17th July 1916 aged 19.

The grave of Private Thomas Charles Canfield in the Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

Thomas was the son of Thomas & Ada Canfield of Lilac Villa, School Lane, Aston.

He arrived in France on the 30th August 1915 where his Battalion was to become involved in the heavy fighting in the Somme Sector at the opening of the battle on the 1st July 1916. On the 13th & 14th July the Battalion were in support of an attack by the 18th Divison in which they captured Trones Wood. It is believed that Thomas was wounded in this attack and died a few days later as a result of his injuries.

He is buried in the Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (1.B.5.)

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

George Henry Cannon

TR/135766, Private, 16th Battalion,  Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

Died on the 15th November 1917 aged 19.

Private George Henry Cannon

George was the son of George & Mary Cannon. It is believed that he died whilst in training and did not serve overseas.

He is buried in St.Peters churchyard, Benington.

Arthur Henry Carter

31890, Private, 4th Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died on the 29th May 1918 aged 20.

Arthur was the son of George & Caroline Carter of the High Street, Walkern. At the time of his death the Battalion were in the frontline at Forceville. However, Arthur is believed to have died as a result of disease rather than combat injuries.

His brother Reginald died in Germany whilst a Prisoner Of War.

Arthur is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, St.Radegonde, France. (5.E.7.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Ernest Carter

203345, Private, 4th Bedfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on 30th October 1917 aged 19.

Tyne Cot Memorial - Belgium

Ernest was the son of George and Edith Carter and was to lose his life during the closing stages of  The Third Ypres, or 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 30th October 1917 the Battalion were in the frontline at Ourton when they were ordered to attack an enemy strong-point. The ground was described as being very “boggy” and the Battalion only managed to move forward by 150 yards. However, this slight movement in the line cost the lives of 2 officers and 73 men, one of whom was Ernest Carter.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zillebeke, Belgium. (Panel 48/50.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

George Augustus Carter

30203, Private, 2nd East Lancashire Regiment, (24th Brigade. 8th Division).

( Formerly 28097 Norfolk Regiment ).

Killed In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 35.

George was the eldest son of Edward & Emma Carter of Aston End. He was one of three brothers who were serving during the war both of  whom were, at the time of his death, Prisoners of War. He was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Battle of  Passchendaele, which was launched on 31 July 1917 and continued until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November.

The offensive resulted in gains for the Allies but 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 Hanebeek, 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.

On the 31st July the Battalion attack was set to commence at 3.50am and their objective was the German trenches at Bellewarde Ridge. Although the Battalion managed to reach it’s objective quite quickly their supporting troops, the men of the 17th Manchester Regiment, were held up and as a result the right flank was exposed. The Germans quickly exploited this advantage and attacked the Battalion with heavy machine gun fire, causing considerable casualties. A total of 92 men were either killed or missing, one of whom was George Carter.

He is buried in the Aeroplane Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. (2.C.39.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal 

George Sidney Carter MC

Second Lieutenant, "A" Company, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Died of Wounds on the 28th November 1917 aged 19

Second Lieutenant George Sidney Carter MC

George Carter was born in Weston on the 16th May 1898 the youngest son of John & Clara Carter. After completing his education George became a Gardner by occupation and would have remained so if it had not been for the onset of war.

On the 8th September 1914 George Carter, who was now living at 3 Huntingdon Road, Stevenage was attested at Hitchin for service in the Bedfordshire Regiment and was immediately accepted for military service. Although he was only 16 years-old, he gave his age as 19. This small matter appears to have been of no consequence to the recruiting officer and he was whisked off for a period of basic training. Once his training was complete George was transferred, on the 31st October 1914, to the 11th East Surrey Regiment. This was a Reserve Battalion stationed at Dartmouth and it was here, a few weeks later, on the 12th December that he was promoted to Corporal. Two weeks later on Boxing Day 1914 he was promoted to Sergeant. He remained with the Battalion until the summer of 1915 when it moved to Colchester and on 25th August 1915 was transferred to the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles and the following day left for service in France. He remained in France until the 28th January 1916 when he was shipped home. George remained in England throughout the spring of 1916 until the 28th August when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles. The Battalion was serving in Salonika at the time and George remained with them until January 1917 when he returned home to undertake a commission. During his service in Salonika George had completed his will which left all his estates to his mother.

After returning to England he was accepted at No.19 Officer Cadet Battalion in Purbright on the 15th March 1917 and an excited George arrived at Kingston station under Railway Warrant number 660395 to begin his new career. After the completion of his training he was posted to the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Rifles and returned to France on the 25th August 1917. It had been some 18 months since he had been on the Western Front and by now it had become a living hell of mechanised destruction and death. On the 20th November 1917 the Battalion was situated 2000 yards West of Bellicourt, mid-way between Cambrai and St Quentin, when a trench raiding party was organised. The objective was for the raiding party to capture or kill any enemy troops in the front line and blow in any dugouts that were situated in a sunken road just beyond the front line. There were five parties and George Carter led No.1 party which contained six other ranks.

At 6.30am they set off at the Eastern end of a trench known as Fish Lane to enter the enemy front line and 90 seconds later they were at the entrance to the enemy trenches where they encountered a coil of concertina wire. George Carter cut a gap through the wire and as he did so two German’s threw several grenades towards the party which killed one of the raiders and wounded George, his senior NCO, Sergeant Bell, and a Private. At this point two other Privates, Mortimer and Bell picked up George Carter and, under enemy fire, carried him back to the British trenches. Sergeant Bell, although wounded, then attacked the German grenade throwers with his own grenades and killed them both. He then returned to the parties and reorganised them to continue the raid but was ordered to withdraw. The Battalion Commander, Major Thomas Hutchinson  Sabine Swanton, believed that the raiders may have been spotted as they assembled for the attack and commended all those involved for their efforts. Three of the raiders, Lance Corporal Henry Millard, Private Frederick Prested and Private James Hunt were all killed during the action.

George Carter was evacuated to No.13 Field Ambulance with multiple wounds and later transferred to No.8 General Hospital in Rouen. A telegram was sent to his parents and his mother was given permission to visit him in hospital. He died from the effects of his wounds at 2am on the 28th November 1917. The officer commanding the hospital handed his effects to his mother.

He was awarded the Military Cross on 25/04/18 and the citation in the London Gazette read, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid. Whilst cutting the wire on an enemy parapet he was very seriously wounded by a bomb. Although completely crippled he continued to cheer on his men till he saw that they had entered the enemy trench”.

George Carter is buried in the St.Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. (Grave Reference: B.3.19.)

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