Harold Frederick Dyke

650949, Corporal, “B” Company. 2/21st Battalion, London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles).

Killed in Action on the 31st March 1918 aged 27.

Harold was the son of Frederick Thomas & Florence Dyke of Six Hills, Stevenage. He was educated at Alleynes School,  was the secretary of the Stevenage Hockey Club and, before joining the Army, had worked as an Insurance Clerk.

He joined the Surrey Rifles on the 3rd September 1914 and served in France, Salonika, Egypt and Palestine. He arrived in France on the 26th June 1916 where the Battalion served in the Ypres sector until the 30th November when they were shipped to Salonika. Whilst serving in this theatre he was admitted to hospital on a total of six occasions suffering from a variation of stomach related disorders. On the 17th June 1917 the Battalion were posted to Egypt to help in the fight against Turkish forces in the region. It was here that Harold was to lose his life.

On the 31st March 1918 the Battalion were located in the Wadi Amman, Syria.  Here they were ordered to advance on, and capture, Turkish positions. The assault began at 2.40am and the Battalion soon came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from Turkish positions to their right.  “B” Company, with whom Harold was serving, were ordered to attack these positions which they did so very successfully. They advanced very quickly and soon found themselves well in front of the Battalion and were able to capture two machine guns and eighty Turkish prisoners. The Company were then brought back to a Wadi on the Amman road in order that their commanding officer could determine the situation. The action had cost the Battalion 24 men killed or missing and a further 104 wounded.

Harold is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery, Syria. (F.27.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal.

George Hubert Eaton

Lieutenant, 6th Machine Gun Squadron, 19th Hussars.

Killed in Action on the 25th March 1918 aged 23

George was born on the 2nd September 1895, the son of Evelyn Mary Eaton. The family lived at Stevenage Lodge and George had a sister who, at the time of his death, was a renowned violinist. He applied to join the army on the 15th October 1914, at the age of 19 years, having already served three years in the Eton Officer Training Corps. His attestation papers show that he opted for a cavalry regiment, preferably the 19th Hussars. His reasons for wanting to join the cavalry were that he had hunted for several years and had ridden in several steeplechases.

George was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into his preferred regiment on the 6th July 1916 and received a temporary promotion to Lieutenant on the 29th July. This seemingly rapid promotion gives an indication to the high level of casualties being suffered amongst the officer ranks during the summer of 1916. It was on the 14th August 1916 that George joined the 6th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps.

The exact circumstances of his death are not yet known. However, it is recorded that after he was killed his body was buried in a position 1250 yards South of Dampcourt, East of Noyon. A letter sent to his family in October 1920 explains that George was later exhumed and moved to the Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension, France. (3. G. 16.)

His headstone Inscription reads; They Truly Live Who Yield Their Lives Fighting

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

George Henry Edwards

266902, Private, No.4 Company. 1 Hertfordshire Regiment.

Missing In Action on the 31st July 1917 aged 24.

The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

George was the son of George & Emma Edwards of Froghall Lane, Walkern and was to lose his life on the first day of a major British offensive, The Third Ypres, or 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 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.

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 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 crossed the Steenbeek with 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.

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. Casualties were very heavy with 459 men being killed or wounded.

He has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. (Panel 54/56.)

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

 

Alfred John Emery

L/10015, Sergeant, 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 23rd October 1918 aged 31.

Sergeant Alfred John Emery

Alfred was the son of John & Julia Emery of North Road, Stevenage, and the husband of Ellen Maud Emery of The Vicarage, Thorne, Doncaster, Yorkshire. A professional solider who had been serving with the Middlesex Regiment in India, he had only just settled in Doncaster prior to his death. His brother, Frederick, had been killed on the 19th April 1915 whilst serving in France with the Bedfordshire Regiment

Alfred arrived in France on the 11th August 1914, just a week after the war broke out and served continuously on the Western Front for almost the entire period of the war. Just two weeks before the Armistice the Battalion were in positions near Montay. Here they were ordered to assault German positions located in a forest. Although the Battalion was successful in its attack, and 200 German prisoners were captured, their losses were high. Alfred is believed to have been killed by Machine Gun fire.

His name is recorded on a special memorial in the Romeries Communal Cemetery Extension, France. 129 of the burials in the cemetery are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties believed to be buried among them, one of these being Alfred Emery.

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

Frederick William Emery

4/4560, Private, 2nd Battalion. Bedfordshire Regiment.

Killed In Action on the 19th April 1915 aged 28.

Frederick was the son of John & Julia Emery of 9 North Road.

He arrived in France on the 19th October 1914, some two months after his brother, Alfred. The battalion was billeted at La Gorgue, a suburb of Estaires, and it was here that Frederick is believed to have been shot by a sniper. His brother, Alfred, was later killed on the 23rd October 1918.

Frederick is buried in the Fauquissart Military Cemetery, Laventie, France. (Grave.F.4.)

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

William Harmer Eyden

22454, Private, 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, (2nd Guards Brigade. Guards Division).

Died Of Wounds on the 26th September 1916 aged 30.

William was the son of William & Sarah Ann Eyden of Fishers Green. He was killed at the Battle of Morval during the Somme offensive.

On the 24th September the battalion formed up in the assembly trenches in front of Ginchy. Regimental records show the trenches were so narrow that the men could not sit or lie down in them and had to remain shoulder to shoulder until the following day when, at 12.35, they attacked Ginchy. The assault was held up by uncut wire and four officers went forward to try and cut it by hand. The battalion, led by NCOs, then charged through the gap to take the objective but the cost was high with William being amongst the wounded.

He was severely wounded in his right leg and was not found for some time before being moved to a Casualty Clearing Station, and then on to a hospital in Rouen, where his leg was amputated. Initially, it was believed that he would survive the ordeal but he sadly succumbed to his injuries.

William is buried in the St.Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. (B.23.59.) 

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal 

Arthur Frederick Fairey

B/203646, Rifleman, 3rd Battalion, Rifle Brigade.

Died Of Wounds on the 28th March 1918 aged 27.

Rifleman Arthur Frederick Fairey

Arthur was born in Islington, London, on the 28th May 1891, the son of Arthur & Emil Fairey who later lived at the Fisherman public house in Fishers Green, Stevenage, where his father was the Publican. Before joining the Army Arthur was employed as a Carman by T.Briden & Son in Stevenage.

He initially served as Private R/21640 of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. The cause of his death is not currently known, other than the fact that he died as a result of injuries received in action near the village of Cayeux, which had been in the hands of Commonwealth forces for some time, was lost on 27th March 1918 during the great German advance, but recaptured by the Canadian Corps on the 8th August. This was an extremely chaotic time for the British army following the surprise attack by German forces along a wide front in the Somme sector on the 21st March 1918. It took many days for the British troops to recover from the assault and re-establish themselves into a cohesive force.

Arthur is buried in the Cayeux Military Cemetery, Somme, France. (1.E.619.) The cemetery was begun by French troops and was used by the 36th Casualty Clearing Station. It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in, mainly from the battlefields to the North.

Medal Entitlement: British War Medal & Victory Medal

Henry Victor Fardell

10699, Corporal, 5th Platoon, "B" Company, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.

Died on the 17th August 1918.

Henry Victor Fardell was born on the 28th August 1894 in the village of Therfield. His connection with the village of Benington has not been established but it is believed that he may have worked in the area.

He arrived in France on the 30th July 1915 and served on the Western Front until he was taken prisoner at St. Quentin on the 21st March 1918, the first day of the German Spring offensive. He died from what is described as "Cardiac Weakness" whilst a Prisoner of War in Germany on the 17th August 1918. This often arose as the result of being malnourished.

He was originally buried in the Morhange Military Cemetery, but on the 24th July 1924 his remains, and those of other servicemen buried in the cemetery, were exhumed and reburied in the Sarralbe Military Cemetery, Moselle, France (D. 23.)

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

Ivan Gordon Fellowes

Midshipman, HMS Irresistible, Royal Navy.

Died At Sea on the 18th March 1915 aged 17

Midshipman Fellowes Ivan Gordon

Ivan Fellowes was born on the 16th January 1898, the youngest son of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Fellowes KCB and Margaret Fellowes. The family lived at Woodfield Park, Stevenage. He entered the service with the Royal Navy in January 1911, aged 13, and joined the crew of HMS Irresistable at the outbreak of war in August 1914.

On 19th February, 1915, Admiral Carden began his attack on the Dardanelles forts. The assault started with a long range bombardment followed by heavy fire at closer range. As a result of the bombardment the outer forts were abandoned by the Turks. The minesweepers were brought forward and managed to penetrate six miles inside the straits and clear the area of mines. Further advance up into the straits was now impossible. The Turkish forts were too far away to be silenced by the Allied ships. The minesweepers were sent forward to clear the next section but they were forced to retreat when they came under heavy fire from the Turkish batteries.

On the night of 8th March the undetected Turkish minelayer, Ausret, laid many mines in the area of the Dardanelle’s Narrows. On 18th March eighteen Allied battleships entered the straits. The fleet included Queen Elizabeth, Lord Nelson, Agamemmon, Inflexible, Ocean, Irresistible, Prince George and Majestic from Britain and the Gaulois, Bouvet and Suffren from France. At first they made good progress until the Bouvet struck a mine, heeled over, capsized and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Soon afterwards two more ships, Irresistible and Ocean also hit mines. Most of the men in these two ships were rescued but by the time the Allied fleet retreated, over 700 men had been killed.

Ivan has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial

His elder brother, Rupert was killed in action on the Western Front on the 21st August 1918 whilst serving with the Coldstream Guards.