The WW1 Roll of Honour:
Surnames C - D

 

Private 46656 Albert Leonard Callis

 

2/4th Bn, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Formerly 6th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 10th April 1918, Aged 25.

Buried Gommecourt British Cemetery No 2. V. H. 24. 

 

Albert Leonard Callis, known as 'Leonard' to his family and friends, was born in Alvaston, Derbyshire, in the summer of 1892. He was the only son of Albert Callis and his wife Caroline (née Jackson) who were married at St. James's Church, Shardlow, Derbyshire, on 29th June 1889. Leonard's father was a coach trimmer's labourer at a railway company's carriage works and the Callis family lived at 53 Alvaston Street, Alvaston. Leonard had three sisters Sarah, Mary and Caroline. In 1911 Leonard was a coach painter's apprentice at the carriage works where his father was employed but between 1911 and 1915 he moved to Loughborough and became engaged to Sally Lonslow, a hosiery machinist, of Burder Street.

Leonard enlisted in Loughborough sometime in early 1915 but the precise date of his enlistment is unknown as his service record has not survived. He joined the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 20281 and was sent to Bordon, Hampshire, for training. He was sent to France in late October 1915 to join the 6th Leicesters in the area of Berles-au-Bois, south-west of Arras.

Leonard is known to have been transferred from the 6th Leicesters to the 2/4th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) at some point but his transfer must have been after late 1915. According to their war diary on 10th May 1917 the 2/4th KOYLI received a draft of 54 Ordinary Ranks 'of whom 42 have been out before'. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that Leonard was in this draft. He may have been wounded between 1916 and 1917 while with the Leicesters and was subsequently transferred to KOYLI.

The 6th Leicesters remained in the area around Bienvillers and Bailleulmont until July 1916 and were engaged in localised operations seeking a tactical advantage.

On 1st July 1916 the 6th Battalion moved from Saulty to Humbercamps, where it was held in reserve for the Somme Offensive which had just begun. On 6th July the battalion marched to Talmas to join the Army's 21st Division. From 7th to 10th July the battalion was in Hengest-sur-Somme, and from there on 10th marched to Ailly, entrained for Méricourt, took buses to Méaulte, and then proceeded to Fricourt. Between 14th and 17th July the battalion took part in an attack on and successfully captured Bazentin-le-Petit Wood and village. On 20th July the battalion entrained at Ribemont and detrained at Saleux, after which they marched to Hengest. Travelling part of the way in lorries and part of the way on foot they reached Arras on 27th July and relieved the 8th Leicesters in the trenches on 7th August. The remainder of August was spent in the trenches and in billets in Arras.

On 4th September the battalion left Arras for Liencourt and after a week there for training moved to Fricourt and Bernafay Wood, east of Montauban-de-Picardie. Here from 19th to 24th September the men were employed in the improvement of communication and support trenches in preparation for a forthcoming attack on Gueudecourt. On 25th September the 6th Leicesters moved up to the assembly trenches in order to be ready to support the 8th and 9th Leicesters as they advanced. Progress was made north and east of Gueudecourt but as the Leicesters consolidated their position the village itself and its approaches were heavily bombarded by the enemy. This situation remained the same over the next few days. After the attack the battalion returned to bivouac at Bernafay Wood.

On 4th October the battalion began a three-day transfer by train and route march to Sailly Labourse and began trench tours in the Hohenzollern sector near Vermelles. They remained in the front line, in the support trenches or in Reserve until mid-December when they moved to Auchel. From 21st December 1916 to 28th January 1917 the battalion was in training at Auchel. Training was continued at Houtkerque until mid-February. Trench tours at Noyelles and Vermelles followed until the beginning of April when the battalion transferred to Hamelincourt. From 11th to 13th April the battalion was in action at the start of the Arras Offensive and on 3rd May in an attack on Fontaines les Croisilles. On the following day the battalion moved to the support posts on the Sunken Road, staying there until 8th May when they moved to the forward posts. This seems to be the last possible date that Leonard was with the Leicesters.

On 10th May 1917, when Leonard is likely to have joined the 2/4th Battalion of the KOYLI the battalion was at St. Leger, training and providing carrying parties. The battalion then moved to Ervillers for training until 23rd May after which the battalion went into the front line trenches. On 30th May they moved to A Camp, Bihucourt, for cleaning up and training there and at Irles until 5th July. On 6th July two companies went to the support trenches while two were held in reserve at Noreuil. While the battalion was occupied improving the trenches and wiring the two companies at the front were heavily bombarded by the enemy. Back at A Camp the battalion had further training and sports as well as an evening entertainment by the 'Pelicans'.

In August 1917 there were further trench tours and training as well as working parties at Iggaree Corner and Vraucourt. At the end of August the battalion was at C Camp on the Behunagtre-Vaulx road. From 5th-13th September the battalion was in the support trenches at Ecoust before moving to the trenches in the Bullecourt section for patrols and trench work. Further trench tours followed, with breaks at C Camp.

On 9th October the battalion moved to the Vallulart Wood Camp, near Ytres, for working parties and battle practice. Next there was practice in attacking behind tanks at Wailly, followed by a week's training at Barly. On 13th November, having moved to Bertincourt, the battalion went into the line in the Havrincourt sector and prepared for an attack. On 20th November the battalion launched an attack on the enemy and succeeded in penetrating the Hindenburg support trenches. This operation, however, cost the battalion 222 casualties.

Following a short rest at Neuville the battalion was sent firstly to the front, support and reserve trenches at Moeuvres and then to Bourlon Wood in support of an attack on Bourlon village. In this latter action the battalion incurred another 115 casualties.

On 29th November the battalion marched to tents at Lebucquière but the camp was persistently shelled and on 4th December they began a three-day march to Olhain. From 9th December - 3rd January 1918 the battalion was in Fouquereuil and La Comte for training and drill. The remainder of January 1918 was spent on trench tours in the Gavrelle sub-sector with breaks at Ottawa Camp near Mont St. Eloy and Maroeuil, the men travelling between the trenches and camps on a light railway from Chantecler Siding to Laurel Siding.

On 7th February the battalion moved to Caucourt where some men were temporarily attached to a Tunnelling Company. After some organisational confusion the remainder of the battalion was sent back to Maroeuil. At the end of February the whole battalion moved to York Camp, Ecoivres, before going into the trenches on the Bailleul-Willerval line on 5th March. After the enemy began shelling the Arleux road the battalion was moved to the front line in the Arleux section, where they experienced considerable shelling and a heavy enemy barrage. On 12th March the battalion moved to Bray for tactical exercises.

After the German Spring Offensive began on 21st March the battalion was moved several times over a few days - firstly to the Schramm Barracks, Arras, next to the trenches in front of Bonville and then to Bucquoy. At Bucquoy the battalion applied for bombs but none were available and A and B Coys were attacked by the enemy. D Coy counter-attacked but their move was too late and the cost was 183 casualties. By 1st April there were only 9 Officers and 220 Ordinary Ranks left in the battalion.

The remnants of the battalion had now moved by route march and lorry to Authie and were in Divisional Reserve in the forward area. Here the men suffered from more shelling, including gas shells. Between 8th and 10th April there were 36 gas casualties, many caused by digging where the gas was lying about in the ground. Leonard was killed in action on 10th April 1918, aged 25.



Alvaston St. Michael and All Angels Church War Memorial

Leonard was buried in Gommecourt British Cemetery Grave No 2. V. H. 24. He is remembered on the memorial in All Saints Church, Loughborough, on the Carillon, and on the memorial in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Alvaston, Derbyshire.

 

Private James Carey

 

11th Bn, Staffordshire Regiment.

Died at Home 14th May 1918, Aged 27.

Buried Loughborough Cemetery 16/125. 

 

James Carey (Junior) was born in Loughborough on 2nd September 1890. He was the son of James Carey, a dyer's labourer, and his wife Rachel Carey (formerly Leavesley, née Roby). James Junior's parents were married at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, on 22nd May 1887. James had two sisters Florence and Elsie. He also had three half-brothers Edwin, Frederick and Thomas Leavesley and three half-sisters Sarah, Emma and Clara Leavesley from his mother's first marriage to William Leavesley who had died in 1885. In 1891 the Carey family was living at 2 Park Row, Loughborough. By 1901 they had moved to 24 Hastings Street and by 1911 to 4 Broad Street.

James Carey (Junior) was sent to St. Mary's Catholic Boys School in Loughborough on 12th October 1896. When he left school he became a hosiery trimmer. On 25th October 1913 he was married to Alice Garton, a shirt hand, at St. Peter's Church, Loughborough, and the young couple set up home at 21 Oxford Street. Their daughter Hilda was born in 1914.

The date of James's enlistment is unknown as his service record has not survived but he joined the 11th (Reserve) Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment as Private 24414. In April 1915 the 11th Battalion was in Harrogate but in October 1915 it moved to Rugeley Camp, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

On 1st September 1916 a considerable reorganisation of the reserve infantry battalions took place. Before this date, most of the infantry regiments contained one or more reserve battalions of the regular and new armies. Recruits would be posted to these battalions for basic training, before they were posted to an active service unit. With the introduction of conscription, the regimental system simply could not cope with numbers. A new structure was put into place: the Training Reserve. The local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned and the entire system centralised. After 1st September 1916, regimental distinctions disappeared and the reserve units of the regiments were instead redesignated as battalions of the Training Reserve. They were organised into new brigades and the 11th (Reserve) Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment became the 9th Training Reserve (TR) Battalion of 2nd Reserve Brigade.

Men who were posted to the TR battalions were not allocated to any particular regiment when the time came for them to be posted. So from this time on it is not safe to assume that a recruit would serve with his local regiment. Later, from May 1917, this arrangement was itself altered when the units of the TR became Graduated and Young Soldier Battalions and were once again aligned with specific regiments.

The absence of a medal record for James indicates that he was not sent overseas to a theatre of war. As his service record is no longer extant exactly what happened to him is unknown, but he became ill and died at home in Loughborough on 14th May 1918, aged 27.

James's half-brother Thomas served with the Sherwood Foresters but was discharged as no longer physically fit in January 1918.

After her husband died James's widow Alice returned with her young daughter to her parents' home at 142 Paget Street. On 21st September 1921 she married Frank Barrett, a clerk, at All Saints Church, Loughborough, and she and Frank had a daughter Nora in 1922.
 

 James Carey

Has no memorial on his grave. 

Major Francis Bird Carter

 

16th Bn, Australian Infantry.

Killed in Action Turkey 27th April 1915, Aged 40.

fmmemorated Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey, Panel 50.

 

Francis ('Frank') Bird Carter was born on 2nd April 1875 in Hillingdon, Middlesex, the youngest of nine children of Thomas Edward Carter, a corn merchant from Ottery St. Mary, Devon, and latterly of Uxbridge and Kingston-on-Thames, and his wife Amelia Ann (née Bird). Frank Carter was educated at Loughborough Grammar School and his first military experience was gained as a Private in the 20th Middlesex Volunteers. He went to Western Australia in 1901 and settled in Kalgoorlie where he was closely associated with the Rifle Club movement, with which he kept in close touch after later moving to Perth. He was a crack shot with the rifle and took part in the Bisley meeting of 1906.

Frank Carter was well known in Perth business circles as a member of the firm of Messrs. Ford, Rhodes and Carter, accountants, and subsequently was in business on his own account at Forrest Chambers, St. George's Terrace, Perth. In 1906 he married Miss Cora Gwendoline Eliot, known as Gwen, at St. George's Cathedral, Perth, and the couple lived at 74 Stirling Street, Perth.

Carter was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant in the Western Australian Infantry Regiment (WAIR) in 1905 and became a Lieutenant in the following year. In 1911 he was promoted to a Captaincy and he joined the 86th Infantry Regiment in 1912.

Just after the outbreak of war, on 18th August 1914, he applied for a Commission, was promoted to the rank of Major and on volunteering for active service received an appointment in that capacity in the 16th Battalion, D Company, of the Australian Imperial Forces. He embarked from Melbourne on board HMAR A40 Ceramic on 22nd December 1914.

Major Carter was killed in action, aged 40, at Courtney's Post, Gaba Tepe, central Anzac, Gallipoli, on 27th April 1915, but has no known grave. He left a widow and young family. He is commemorated on five war memorials: the Lone Pine Memorial (Panel 50) at Anzac, Gallipoli, Turkey, on a memorial plaque in St. George's Cathedral, Perth, WA, on the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra, Panel 78, on the Loughborough Carillon War Memorial and on Loughborough Grammar School Memorial.

Group portrait of the officers of the 16th Battalion, circa 1915.

Major Carter is the first on the left of the seated front row.


(Australian War Memorial Collection).

Private 18647 Joseph William Carter

 

10th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died at Home 15th September 1915, Aged 22.

Buried Loughborough Cemetery 17/273. 

 

Joseph William Carter was born in Clowne, Derbyshire, in 1893 and baptised on 5th October of that year at Staveley. He was the son of Edward Carter, a locomotive engine driver for a railway contractor, and Althea Carter. Joseph had one brother Alfred and four sisters Ann Elizabeth, Annie Catherine, Emma and Beatrice. The family lived for some time at Chowbent and then Ince in Makerfield, Lancashire, before moving to Yeadon, Yorkshire, and then to 17 Court B, Nottingham Road, Loughborough.

When Joseph's mother died in 1908 his father moved with his four younger children Alfred, Joseph, Emma and Beatrice to 239 Nags Head Road, Ponders End, Middlesex. Joseph's sister Ann, who had married Enoch Moore, a coal carter, in 1908 remained at 21 Rectory Place, Loughborough and his sister Annie Catherine stayed with them. Joseph's father, meanwhile, was married again in 1910, in Edmonton, Middlesex, to Caroline M. Reeves, a young widow with two small children and in 1912 Edward's children acquired a half-brother, Edward John Carter, from their father's second marriage. When he was living in Ponders End young Joseph was a fitter's mate for a building contractor.

Joseph enlisted at Tottenham on 24th April 1911 and, assigned the service number 65302, joined H Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery. He was posted to Woolwich and then to Trowbridge where he trained as a gunner. In January 1914 he contracted testicular tuberculosis and on 10th July 1914 at Rollestone Camp, Salisbury, he was discharged from service as physically unfit for war.

Nothing daunted in July 1915 he enlisted with the Leicestershire Regiment and joined the 10th (Reserve) Battalion which was stationed at Barnard Castle. Within a month, however, he was in the 1st Northern General Hospital at Newcastle where he died on 15th September 1915. His remains were interred with military honours in Loughborough Cemetery.

An account of the funeral stated: "The coffin was brought to Loughborough on Friday, and Sergt. W. Mason of the 10th Leicesters made the funeral arrangements. The Rev. G. Wilson, curate of the Parish Church, conducted the service. The mourners were Mr. E. Carter (Father), Mr. and Mrs. A. Carter (brother and sister-in-law), Mr. E. Moore (brother-in-law), Misses A., E., and B. Carter (sisters), Mr. and Mrs. C. Lucas (uncle and aunt). The bearers were comrades from the 10th Battalion, under Sergeants W. Mason and Sturman. At the close of the service buglers from the Leicester Depot, in charge of Corporal Cooper, sounded the 'Last Post'."

Private 13995 Wilfred Francis Cavers

 

8th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died at Home 17th May 1916, Aged 21.

Buried Loughborough. 

 

Wilfred Francis Cavers was born in 1894 in Loughborough, the second son of Adam Scott Cavers, a gardener, and his wife Fanny (née Newbold). His parents were married in Loughborough in 1885. Wilfred had three sisters Edith, Agnes and Nora, and two brothers Arthur and John. Another sister Frances had died aged nine months. Between 1891 and 1901 the Cavers family lived in Paget Street, Loughborough, firstly at No.124 and secondly at No. 73. By 1911 they had moved to 15 Garton Road and Wilfred, now aged sixteen, was employed as a clerk at an engineering company which made boilers. By 1914 he had become a turner.

Wilfred enlisted at Loughborough on 5th September 1914. He was sent to the Depot of the Leicestershire Regiment on 10th September and on 24th September joined the 8th (Service) Battalion as Private 13995.

Wilfred was initially sent to Aldershot for training and then to Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, Kent at the end of February 1915. In April 1915 Wilfred's battalion became part of the newly established 37th Division of the Second New Army and the Division began to concentrate on Salisbury Plain. Wilfred's battalion was billeted at Perham Down.

It was while Wilfred was at Shorncliffe that he first experienced difficulty in breathing properly. In May he was released from ordinary parades and appointed waiter in the Officers' Mess at Perham Down. Men of the 8th Battalion were scheduled to leave for France at the end of July but Wilfred did not go with them. Instead he was transferred to the 10th (2nd Reserve) Battalion at Deerbolt Park Camp, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham on 9th July 1915. At Deerbolt Park he was found to be suffering from tuberculosis and on 21st August 1915 he was discharged from the Army as no longer physically fit for war service.

Wilfred returned home to Loughborough and died on 17th May 1916.
 

  Wilfred Frances Cavers

Has no memorial on his grave. 

Private 20858 John Gregory Chambers

 

16th Bn, Cheshire Regiment.

Died of Wounds 26th August 1916, Aged 42.

Buried Londonthorpe Grantham, (St John The Baptist) Churchyard.

(2 brothers also fell Peter Gregory &  Thomas Gregory Chambers see below)

 

John Gregory Chambers was born in Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire, in 1874 and baptised on 31st May 1874 at Elvaston in Derbyshire. He was the eldest son of John Chambers, a publican at Griffydam, and his wife Clara (née Gregory) who were married in the Shardlow Registration area in 1874. By 1891 the family had moved from Griffydam to Oxford Street, Alvaston, Derbyshire, and John Chambers was now a labourer and John Gregory Chambers, aged 17, was a forge boy. By 1901 the family had moved again, this time to 85 Storer Road, Loughborough, and John Chambers was a railway labourer while John Gregory Chambers was a furnace man. Between 1901 and 1911 John Gregory's parents moved from Loughborough to 70 Taylor Street, Osmaston, Derbyshire. John Gregory, unmarried, moved with them and was employed as an iron worker on the Midland Railway while his father was employed in the gas works. John Gregory Chambers had seven brothers William, Charles, Thomas, Peter, Henry, Gerald and George and two sisters Maria and Emma. When the Chambers family moved to Osmaston Maria Chambers, now Mrs. Joynes, remained in Loughborough and lived at 1 Albert Promenade.

John joined the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment as Private 20858. The battalion was raised in Chester on the 17th of September 1914 as part of Kitchener's Third New Army and joined the 75th Brigade, 25th Division of the Army. They trained at Codford St Mary near Warminster in Wiltshire and spent the winter in billets in Bournemouth. They moved to Aldershot for final training in May 1915 and left Farnborough for Southampton on 25th September 1915.

John's battalion sailed for Le Havre on the H.M.T Mona Queen on the 26th of September, the division concentrating on arrival in the area of Nieppe, north of Armentières. From the beginning of October 1915 to the end of January 1916 the battalion was in the area of Ploegsteert Wood, where working parties improved the trench defences while being subjected to shelling and sniping by the enemy. A month in Strazeele followed, after which they moved to Nedonchelle, Valhuon, Tinques and Chelers. In May 1916 they were in the front line at Neuville-St.-Vaast and Ecoivres in defence of the German attack on Vimy Ridge. In June the battalion was at Mingoval, Tinques and Bernoval before moving on to the Somme at Toutencourt.

The battalion joined the Somme Offensive just after the main attack, making a costly attack near Thiepval on 3rd July. The battalion was also in action at the Battle of Bazentin, and the Battle of Pozières. It is not known when and where John was wounded by a bullet which went through his head but he was brought back to England and died of his wounds, aged 42, in Grantham Camp Military Hospital, Lincolnshire, on 26th August 1916. John is buried in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist Church, Londonthorpe, Grantham and is remembered on the War Memorial at Elvaston, Derbyshire.

A newspaper report of the time 'A Proud Record' noted that:

'Of a family that included seven brothers, six have served in H.M. Forces of whom at the present only two are living. That is the proud record of the brothers of Mrs. Joynes 1 Albert Promenade, Loughborough who this week learned that her brother, Pte. John G. Chambers of the Cheshire Regt, died on Saturday in hospital at Grantham from a bullet wound, which entered the side of his head and made its way out on the other side. He was buried at Grantham on Wednesday. At the latter end of last year another brother Q.M.S. Peter Chambers a regular of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was killed in action while since then Pte. Thomas G. Chambers of the Northumberland Fusiliers has died of wounds while a prisoner of war at Cologne. A fourth brother after serving 12 years in the K.O.S.B. recently died in Canada, while another George is at present in hospital having been wounded some 12 months ago. The only brother still on active services is Gerald of the Grenadier Guards who was wounded early in the war and has since returned to duty. The only brother of the family who has not served with the forces is at present living in Canada. Mr and Mrs. Chambers the parents of this family of fighters will be remembered by many residents for they kept the Griffin Inn Ashby Road for a number of years.'

Quarter-Master Sergeant 5578 Peter Gregory Chambers

2nd Bn. Royal Scotts Fusiliers.                                    

Died of Wounds 2nd November 1914, Aged 35.

Buried Wimereux Communal Cemetery I. A. 5. 

(2 brothers also fell see above & below)

Quarter-Master Sergeant Peter Chambers was a career soldier who, having enlisted in 1899, had served in the Boer Wars, Rangoon, Burma, and India. He was in the army for 17 years and expected his good conduct stripes in 1915.

Peter was the son of John and Clara Chambers, who in 1901 lived at 85 Storer Rd, Loughborough and later moved to 70 Taylor Rd, Osmaston, Derbyshire. Peter's sister Maria Joynes lived at 1 Albert Promenade, Loughborough. Prior to enlisting Peter had worked for Alderman Mayo, and had also been a member of the Church Lads Brigade.

Peter's battalion landed at Zeebrugge on 6th October 1914 to assist in the defence of Antwerp but arrived too late to prevent the fall of the city. They then took up defensive positions at important bridges and junctions to aid the retreat of the Belgian army. The battalion was subsequently drawn into the First Battle of Ypres where it suffered extremely heavy losses. Peter Chambers was wounded, transferred to the Military Hospital at Boulogne, but died from his wounds.

For the Chambers family Peter's death was only the first in a series of tragic losses during the First World War. Peter's parents had seven sons and three daughters. Six of the sons were in the armed forces, and by 1918 only two of these sons were still alive. Peter's wife Alice, of 29 Moor Lane and later of 104 Leopold Street, Loughborough, was left a widow with two small children.

Private 7356 Thomas Gregory Chambers

 

A Coy. 2nd Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers.

Died of Wounds 8th May 1915, Aged 31.

Commemorated Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, panel 8 & 12. 

(2 brothers also fell Peter & John Chambers see above)

 

Thomas Gregory Chambers was the second son of John and Clara Chambers of Osmaston, Derbyshire, and formerly of Loughborough. Thomas was born at Worthington, Leicestershire, in 1883 and enlisted at Leicester in 1904. By 1911 he was a coal cutter at Underwood Colliery, had married and was living in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, with his wife and young family. He was, nevertheless, still a reservist and was called up for the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers by 12th November 1914. The battalion arrived in France in January 1915 and moved to concentrate in the area between Bailleul and Hazebrouck. The battalion's first major action was during the German gas attack at Second Ypres and in the ensuing battles.

Thomas was wounded in fighting around Hill 60 near Ypres in May 1915 and was taken a Prisoner of War. He died of his wounds in German custody in Cologne on 8th May 1915, aged 31. His family remained unaware of his fate for nine months. He left a widow, Gertrude, of 8 Albert Street, Eastwood, and four young children. Thomas was also mourned by his sister Maria Joynes of 1, Albert Promenade, Loughborough.

Thomas Gregory Chambers is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, panels 8 and 12. He is also commemorated on the Nottingham Road War Memorial, Eastwood, on a memorial in Eastwood St. Mary's Church, and on the Nottinghamshire County Council Roll of Honour.

A newspaper report of the time 'A Proud Record' noted that:

'Of a family that included seven brothers, six have served in H.M. Forces of whom at the present only two are living. That is the proud record of the brothers of Mrs. Joynes 1 Albert Promenade, Loughborough who this week learned that her brother, Pte. John G. Chambers of the Cheshire Regt, died on Saturday in hospital at Grantham from a bullet wound, which entered the side of his head and made its way out on the other side. He was buried at Grantham on Wednesday. At the latter end of last year another brother Q.M.S. Peter Chambers a regular of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was killed in action while since then Pte. Thomas G. Chambers of the Northumberland Fusiliers has died of wounds while a prisoner of war at Cologne. A fourth brother after serving 12 years in the K.O.S.B. recently died in Canada, while another George is at present in hospital having been wounded some 12 months ago. The only brother still on active services Gerald of the Grenadiers Guards who was wounded early in the war and has since returned to duty. The only brother of the family who has not served with the forces is at present living in Canada. Mr and Mrs. Chambers the parents of this family of fighters will be remembered by many residents for they kept the Griffin Inn Ashby Road for a number of years.'

Second Lieutenant  Arthur Donald Chapman

 

1/5th Bn, Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire) Regiment.

Killed in Action 1st July 1916 (Somme), Aged 23.

Commemorated Thiepval  Memorial Somme, pier & face 14b & 14c. 

 

Arthur Donald Chapman was born in 1892 in Loughborough, the son of Albert Chapman and his wife Clara (née Shenton) who were married in Leicester in 1887. Arthur had one brother Albert and five sisters Kathleen, Clara, Olive, Adeline and Phyllis. Arthur's father was a commercial traveller in boots and shoes and Arthur was educated at Loughborough Grammar School. In 1901 the family home was at 12 Herrick Road, Loughborough, and by 1911 it was at 29 Burton Street. By 1911, however, Arthur who was now a boot and shoe trade student was living away from home at 218/220 Kettering Road, Northampton with Mr William Chamberlain, a surgeon, and his wife, Grace. Arthur's parents later moved to Theydon, Ashby Road, Loughborough.

On 9th December 1911 Arthur left Southampton for Cape Town on the SS Galeka. In South Africa he established an agency business. On 5th May 1914 he returned to England from Durban on the SS Kenilworth Castle. On 11th July 1914, just before war broke out, Arthur returned to Cape Town on the SS Edinburgh Castle where he intended to take up permanent residence. Arthur was doing well in South Africa, but he nevertheless sacrificed his immediate prospects by returning to England to join the Army.

Arthur was commissioned on 13th August 1915 and joined the 1/5th (Territorial Force) of the North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales's) Regiment, as a 2nd Lieutenant. In September he joined his battalion which was in the trenches near Verbranden-Molen, West-Vlaanderen. In October 1915 the battalion moved to trenches east of Vermelles and was involved in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt, part of the Battle of Loos, on the 13th October. After Loos the battalion did tours in the trenches at Neuve Chapelle until the end of November.

On Christmas Day 1915 the battalion entrained for Marseilles and on 5th January 1916 embarked on the H.T. Beltana for Alexandria, Egypt. From Alexandria they entrained for El Shallufar and the following fifteen days were spent on the east bank of the Suez Canal training and digging trenches. They were recalled to Alexandria on 29th January and after a few days at Sidi Bishr Camp embarked on H.T. Transylvania and were returned to Marseilles. From Marseilles they travelled by train to Pont Remy, Somme, and moved to Bernaville for ten days' training. On 13th March they did tours in the trenches for a month at Neuville St. Vaast, alternating with the 1/6h Staffordshires. In mid-April they moved to Divisional Reserve at Marquay and received training in musketry and bombing. From 6th to 19th May they returned to the trenches, this time near Foncquevillers. For the following four weeks they were in the area of Sus-St.-Leger training, making hurdles in Lucheux Forest, and working on assembly and communication trenches. Towards the end of June they relieved the 4th Leicesters in the trenches at Foncquevillers before resting at Humbercamps in preparation for the Somme Offensive.

On the 1st July 1916 the North Staffords took part in a diversionary attack at Gommecourt and Arthur was reported missing then killed in action, aged 23. A newspaper report of the day noted that Arthur had 'quickly gained a position of popularity and affection in the Battalion to which he was attached. His many friends in Loughborough have heard the news with deep regret.'

Arthur's body was never found and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing in France, Pier and Face 14B and 14C. He is also commemorated on All Saints' Parish Church Memorial, Loughborough, and the Loughborough Grammar School's Roll of Honour as well as on the Carillon. One of the bells in the Carillon was also given by Arthur's parents and is inscribed with a dedication in memory of their son.

Arthur's brother Albert served as a Cadet with the North Staffordshire Regiment and then as a Private with the Royal Fusiliers. He gained a commission with the North Staffordshire Regiment, moved to the Machine Gun Corps and became a Captain and then a Major. He survived the war and was awarded the Military Cross. He lived at Quorn House, Rowley Park, Stafford, before moving to Wingrove Road, North Fenham, Northumberland.

Gunner 80611 Bert Mayhew Chapman

142nd Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery.                                                                             

Died of Wounds 2nd September 1916, Aged 24.

Buried Dive Copse British Cemetery, II. H. 7.

Bert Mayhew Chapman was born in Glenfield, Leicestershire, in 1892. He was the younger son of James Chapman, a coachman and gardener, and his wife Lois (née Miles) who were married at All Saints Church, Oakham, Rutland on 2nd October 1877. Bert never knew his older brother Arthur who had died aged three in 1882. Three years after Bert was born his parents moved to Bank Chambers, Town Hall, Loughborough where his father had been appointed to the position of caretaker.

In 1911 Bert was employed as a footman at Trelissick, Feock, near Truro, Cornwall (a stately home now owned by the National Trust). Bert was working in the household of George John Cookson, a retired magistrate and industrialist whose family had previously operated as lead merchants, smelters, and manufacturers, antimony refiners, and Venetian Red pigment makers in Tyneside. The Cookson family also had interests in the coal industry. George Cookson died in February 1913 and it is not known how long Bert remained in the household after this. On 25th April 1914, however, he married Blanche Violet Turner the scullery maid from Trelissick at St. Edward's Church, Eggbuckland, near Plymouth, Devon.

Bert and Blanche appear to have settled in Loughborough at 23 Hartington Street after their marriage. Bert's father died on 30th April 1915 and Bert and Blanche's daughter Irene Blanche was born in Loughborough on 3rd July the same year.

Bert enlisted at Loughborough in 1916 and joined the 142nd Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery as Gunner 80611. Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

Bert was sent to France on 9th August 1916. He died of wounds, aged 24, less than a month later on 2nd September 1916 in the 14th Corps Main Dressing Station. He was buried at Dive Copse British Cemetery, Sailly-le-Sec, Somme, Grave II. H. 7.

A letter from the officers of the Battery to Bert's wife said: 'Our battery was suddenly shelled three days ago when your husband was badly wounded, but no one thought at the time there was any danger. Things must have been worse than they looked, for we have just received word that he has died in hospital. I have known your husband since the formation of the battery, and can testify to his continual helpfulness. Since coming here he was invaluable to the officers in always making the very best of things and doing his best for us. He was never late, and sunshine or rain always kept us going. Your husband died in the middle of his duty, and I commend you to God for your continual comfort. I am writing on behalf of the whole of the battery commanding officers, N.C.Os and men. I cannot say more this time but hope that strong faith will uphold you till the happy time of re-union'.

Bert is commemorated on the memorial at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

Bert's widowed mother, who had moved to 6 Ashby Square in 1915, died not long after Bert on 30th November 1916.

Second Lieutenant  Hubert Frank Chapman

 

Royal Engineers.

Died 31st March 1917, Aged 32

Buried Loughborough Cemetery, 12/297

(His brother also fell John Chapman see below) 

Hubert Frank Chapman was born in 1886 in Loughborough, the son of John Ernest Theophilus Chapman and his first wife Elizabeth Anne Chapman (née Cumberland) who were married in Loughborough in 1876. In 1881 the couple lived at 9 Market Place and Hubert's father was a boot and shoe maker employing 14 men and 3 women. By 1891 the family had moved to 34 Park Lane, Loughborough and by 1901 to Westfields, Ashby Rd. Hubert's father was now a shoe dealer. Hubert had two brothers Harold and John and four sisters Edith, Dorothy, Helen and Gladys. Hubert's mother died in 1911 and in 1913 his father was married again to Kate Swaffor Judges, a headmaster's daughter, at the Parish Church of St. Marylebone, London.

Hubert was educated at Loughborough Grammar School and Wellingborough Grammar School, Northamptonshire. He became a civil engineer and on 28th January 1908 was admitted to the Howe and Charnwood Lodge of Freemasons. He subsequently held a government position in West Africa and was home on leave when war broke out. Released from his duties he was commissioned as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Royal Engineers on 17th November 1914.

On 26th December 1914 Hubert married Lizzie Kate Moss at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough. Lizzie Kate, the youngest daughter of Edwin Moss of Loughborough, was a contralto vocalist professionally known as 'Lysette Mostyn' and later as 'Madame Mostyn'. She gave performances in the Aeolian Hall, London, and in Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Hull and Belfast.

Hubert initially served in France from where he was sent home suffering from shell shock and a general paralysis. He was then posted to Egypt in January 1916. After only three weeks in Egypt, however, he was invalided home. He died at the London County Asylum, Banstead, Surrey, on 31st March 1917, aged 32.

His funeral was conducted in Loughborough by Canon Pitts, Rector of Loughborough, and at the express wish of his family without military honours. The mourners were Mr. E. Chapman, Mr., Moss, Mr. L Baldwin, Mr. Kirby, Mr. Edgar Moss, and Dr. Foulds, Mr. Davis, Mr. S Chapman, and Mr. R. S. Clifford, junr. Wreaths and other floral tributes were sent from Mr. and Mrs. E. Moss and family, Mrs. Soher, Mrs. F. Chapman (widow), Mr., and Mrs. E. Chapman and Barbara, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Capes and family, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Kirby, The Howe and Charnwood Lodge, 1007, the Misses Chapman (Woodthorpe), Mr. and Mrs. Albert Chapman and family, Mr. and Mrs. Bolesworth and Harry, Nellie, Edith, Len, and Mabel, Aunts Pollie and Carrie, and Mrs. Edith M. Moss.

Hubert was buried in Loughborough Cemetery, Grave 12/297.

One year later on 25th April 1918 Hubert's widow married Jasper Grant at St. Mary's Church, Fulham, Middlesex. Jasper Grant was a widower and chairman of the Brookfield Linen Company Ltd in Belfast. He was also a Director of the Belfast Hippodrome Theatre. On her marriage Lizzie Kate moved to Brookfield, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

Hubert is remembered on the All Saints Church Memorial, Loughborough, on the memorial at Loughborough Grammar School and on the memorial at Wellingborough Grammar School as well as on the Carillon.

Hubert's brother John Theophilus Chapman who served with the 1/5th Leicestershire Regiment died of wounds received in action in 1915. Their cousin Arthur Donald Chapman who was with the 1/5th North Staffordshire Regiment, was killed on the first day of the Somme in 1916.

Captain John Theophilus Chapman

 

1/5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died of Wounds 30th May 1915, Aged 26.

Buried Loughborough Cemetery, 7/297

(His brother also fell Hubert Chapman see above)

 

John Theophilus Chapman was born in Loughborough in 1889, the son of John Ernest Theophilus Chapman, a commercial traveller in the boot and shoe trade, and his first wife Elizabeth Anne Chapman (née Cumberland) who were married in Loughborough in 1876.

In 1881 the couple lived at 9 Market Place and John's father was a boot and shoe maker employing 14 men and 3 women. By 1891 the family had moved to 34 Park Lane, Loughborough and by 1901 to Westfields, Ashby Rd. John Chapman Senior was now a manufacturer's traveller. John was the youngest of seven children, the others being Edith, Dorothy, Hubert, Helen, Gladys and Harold. John's mother died in 1911 and in 1913 his father was married again to Kate Swaffor Judges, a headmaster's daughter, at the Parish Church of St. Marylebone, London.

John was an old Loughborough Grammar School boy and became an electrical engineer. He joined the Leicestershire Regiment's 1/5th militia Battalion before 1912 as he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the January of that year. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Captain.

The Battalion sailed to France on 26th February 1915 in very rough seas. They travelled by train via Rouen, Abbeville and St. Omer to Arneke where they detrained for Hardifort. The Battalion was held in reserve for, but did not take part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. For the whole of April they were in trenches near Wulverghem and subjected to continual sniping by the enemy and then moved on to Zillebeke, followed by a tour in the area of Mount Kemmel.

Captain Chapman was seriously wounded near Mount Kemmel. He died of wounds on 30th May 1915 at the Third London General Military Hospital, Wandsworth, Surrey, aged 26.

An obituary included the following:

'When the 5th Leicester Territorials were mobilized in August 1914 only one of the officers of the Loughborough Company was living in the town. They all, however, responded to the call - Lieutenant John Chapman leaving his appointment in London to join the ranks. Before many weeks he was promoted Captain, and his company, and the men who under his command were billeted in Luton, found him a considerate and a careful officer.'

The Melton Mowbray Times & Vale of Belvoir Gazette published an article on Friday, 4th June 1915 entitled: District War Items - Loughborough Officer's Death from Wounds.

It read:

'Much regret is felt in Loughborough at the death of Captain John Chapman, of the 1/5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, who died of wounds on Sunday in hospital in London. The gallant Captain was out with a sniping party when a shot smashed his binoculars and inflicted such serious wounds that little hope was entertained of his recovery. He was the second son of Mr Ernest Chapman of Ashby Road, Loughborough, and was formerly in the works of the British Engineering Company. He was a very able and popular young officer, and deep sympathy is felt for his relatives.

Capt. Chapman was reconnoitering the enemy's position by the aid of field glasses, when he was shot between the eyes. The injury was severe and from the first it was feared that fatal results would follow. He was conveyed to England and every care taken but the injury was fatal, and he passed away on Sunday, 30th May.

His coffin was conveyed from London to Loughborough and six men of the 3rd 5th Leicesters, being at the station, conveyed the coffin, draped with the Union Jack, shoulder high from the train to the hearse, the coffin being draped with the Union Jack. The hearse slowly made its way from the railway station to the Parish Church, attended by many people. At the church the body rested during the night and following morning, being guarded by relays of four soldiers from the 3rd/5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, relieved every two hours. The funeral was timed for three o'clock at the church and never in the history of the town probably had there been such a funeral in Loughborough.'

Captain Chapman was buried at Leicester Road Cemetery, Loughborough, (Grave 7/297) and is commemorated on the war memorials of the Brush Electrical Engineering Company and Loughborough Grammar School as well as the Carillon. John's brother Hubert also died in WW1, in 1917.
 
Captain John Chapman's
Funeral

Private 42989 Harry Chatwin

 

1st Bn, Cambridgeshire Regiment.

Formerly 48795 Leicestershire Regiment.

Died of Wounds 22nd September 1918, Aged 20.

Buried Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Tréport, VII. H. IOB. 

 

Harry Chatwin was born in Cradley Heath, Staffordshire, in the summer of 1898. He was the son of Edward Chatwin and his wife Ellen (née Southall) who were married in Dudley, Worcestershire, on 24th October 1897. In 1901 the Chatwin family lived at 1 Bannister Street, Cradley Heath, and Harry's father was a chair maker, working at home. By 1904 they had moved to 26 Thomas Street, Loughborough, and Harry's father was now employed as a chair maker by an electrical engineering firm. Harry had one brother Fred and three sisters Gladys, Alice and Elizabeth. Two other siblings Albert and Lois died young.

Harry was called up and enlisted in the late summer or early autumn of 1916. He initially joined the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 48795. Although his service papers have not survived it is known that he was sent for training as a signaller.

Being a signaller usually meant you were close to the front line troops, providing signals communications back to your Company and Battalion HQ. Wired telephones were used where possible but this involved laying landlines which was a hazardous job during enemy shelling. At the start of the war flags were also used for signalling but this practice was little used by the time Matthew was trained.

Where it was not possible to lay landlines then many forms of visual signalling were used which made use of light either from sunlight (use of the sun and mirrors) in day time and lamps at night (Lucas Lamps). Messages were sent in Morse Code, one man operating the signalling device and one man using a telescope (where distances were great) to read the message sent back.

Signallers were also used in forward positions to assist the artillery and provide information on their enemy targets. In these positions, often isolated, the signaller became vulnerable to enemy shelling and attack, and many signallers lost their lives.

The dates on which Harry was sent to France and transferred to the 1/1st Battalion of the Cambridgeshire Regiment as Private 42989 are unknown. The 1/1st Battalion, however, received batches of reinforcements from an Infantry Base in the summer and autumn of 1917 and in April and May 1918. Harry could have been in any one of these batches.

In May 1917 the 1st Cambridges were on the Ypres Salient in the Canal Bank and Hill Top Farm area, carrying out night-time raids and patrols. The battalion left the line on 29th May and moved to Wormhoudt. In June the battalion moved to Lumbres and spent time training for trench attacks and open country fighting. While away from the front line they also provided working parties for the Royal Engineers Tunnelling Companies. By the end of June the battalion was back in the trenches around the Hill Top sector.

The battalion remained in the Hill Top and Canal Bank areas until the 15th July when they moved to a camp at Brandhoek and then on to Houlle. At Houlle they spent one week training for a coming offensive. On the 22nd the battalion moved to a camp at St Jan-ter-Biezen for further training and then back to the Brandhoek camp on the 29th. On 30th the battalion moved up to Canal Bank.

When the 3rd Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele) began on 31st July at Pilckem Ridge the battalion moved out, following the assaulting battalions. In spite of gallant efforts the battalion was eventually forced to pull back, having suffered about 265 casualties.

The residue of the battalion remained at the front until the 5th August when they were relieved. Numerous drafts of replacements reached them from the UK in an attempt to get the battalion back up to strength. The battalion spent the next few weeks resting, refitting and training at various camps behind the Salient. They returned to the front line on the 19th August in the Klein Zillebeke Sector where they remained either in the front line or in reserve for the rest of the month.

During September the battalion completed several trench tours 'in the area of Hill 60, with breaks in a camp at Dezon. On 25th September they moved into the line in preparation for another attack. After hours of heavy fighting on 26th September the battalion succeeded in occupying much of the German strongpoint Joist Redoubt, but again suffered serious losses.

In early October the battalion was moved to a camp near Kruisstraat where they worked on railway construction. They returned to the line on 28th, initially in reserve but by the 31st they were in the front line

For nearly all of November the battalion remained in the Menin Road - Tower Hamlets area of the Salient, either in the line or at camp. Conditions around the Menin Road were appalling and the trenches and shell holes were mostly flooded. The Salient was quietening down but shelling continued and several enemy night raids were beaten back.

During December the battalion was moved out to Henneveux near Boulogne. They arrived there on the 9th and spent much of the next several weeks training. Christmas Day was spent at rest and a large turkey and goose dinner was organised for the men served by the officers. A heavy snow fall the following day led to an organised battalion snowball fight described by one officer as 'almost as hazardous as Ypres'. On 29th December the battalion began the journey back to Ypres for duty in the Canal Bank area.

In mid-January 1918 the battalion was told it was to move away from the Ypres Salient. On 21st January they marched to Houtkerque and after a few days moved by train to Chipilly. They went into the trenches in the line around Gouzeaucourt, south of Cambrai, on 31st January.

Much of February was spent in the front line around Gouzeaucourt, with breaks at a camp near Dessart Wood. Conditions in the line at Gouzeaucourt were an improvement on life in the Ypres Salient but the cold, shelling and raiding activity caused casualties most days when the battalion was in the line.

The battalion's stay in the line around Gouzeaucourt continued until the 12th March when they were relieved and moved back to Moislains. They were still at Moislains when the German Spring Offensive began on 21st March. The battalion was immediately ordered to move to Longavesnes and prepare an emergency defence line. By 23rd March, with casualties mounting, the battalion was ordered to fight a rearguard action to hold up the enemy. The next week was spent in constant action and slowly the German advance was stalled. The battalion was finally pulled out of the line, having suffered over 380 casualties, on 31st March to Longueau.

The remains of the battalion were joined with the residue from other units into a composite battalion until it could be rebuilt. The composite battalion was slowly moved to Vormezeele, south of Ypres. On 15th April they entered the front line there and remained in the area until 29th April. During this time they were subjected to fierce artillery and gas attack and casualties were heavy. After further mergers of units the battalion took its place in a quieter area in the trenches near Hallebast.

On the 3rd May the battered remnants of the battalion's 39th Division were pulled out and moved to Ruminghem. Here the men were told that the Division would not be rebuilt and the Brigades were being split up, with many battalions merged together. 11 Officers and 408 Other Ranks from the 7th Suffolks were to join the 1/1st Cambridge Battalion. The battalion moved by train to Lealvillers and on to Acheux where the men from the 7th Suffolks joined them. On 20th the reinforced battalion went into the line near Mailly-Maillet. They left the line on the 27th and moved to billets around Raincheval. From 28th May to 21st June the battalion was in training, being formed into a new fighting unit. On 22nd June they moved into the front line.

The battalion left the front on the 9th July and moved back to Herissart, Rumigny and then Canaples. During their stay at the various camps and billets the intense training and preparations continued.

The Allied offensive known as the Hundred Days Offensive was launched on the 8th August. In the sector allotted to the 1/1st Battalion the Germans had launched a surprise attack on the 6th August and captured an area of the British line near the village of Morlancourt. The battalion's role was to take part in the assault on the lost positions and the village of Morlancourt. The attack initially stalled due to stiff defence, and the fighting was brutal but the enemy positions were slowly captured.

The battalion remained in the line until the 19th August when they were moved into reserve. After several days resting and re-equipping they moved into position for the next attack. On the 22nd August the battalion was ordered to attack the area east of Morlancourt, towards the Méaulte Road. The attack began badly as the promised tank support was not there. Progress was slow. Casualties for 22nd August numbered about 137 men. A week of bitter fighting followed, with the battalion making a further attack at Maltz Horn Ridge.

The fighting towards Bapaume continued and the Cambs returned to the line after a day to recover. Slowly the offensive ground down the enemy positions and it was looking like there would be a breakthrough. In torrential rain the assaulting battalions continued to hammer at the German lines and the Cambs held their positions from fierce counter-attacks. After nearly a week of bitter fighting and constant artillery fire the Cambs were ordered to attack once again, this time at Maltz Horn Ridge. The battalion was then withdrawn from the front line to reorganise and rebuild.

In early September the battalion returned to the line and into the attack on 5th September around Nurl amid a heavy enemy gas bombardment. The attack stalled and 87 losses occurred. Another attack on 6th September was much more successful and the Germans retreated.

The battalion's next assault took place on 17th September on the German line running through Epehy. Brutal close quarter fighting took place and eventually, after two more days, Epehy was cleared.

The exact point when Harry was wounded is unknown but he died from his wounds, aged 20, in a hospital at Le Tréport on 22nd September 1918. He was buried in Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Tréport, Grave VII. H. IOB.

Private 242337  Herbert Childs

 

2/5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Formerly 7393 Leicestershire Regiment

Killed in Action 26th September 1917, Aged 22.

Commemorated Tyne Cot  Memorial, Zonnebeke panel 50 - 51. 


Herbert Childs was born in Leicester in 1895, the son of Arthur Childs a hosiery trimmer and his wife Hannah (née Collins) who were married on 12th June 1886 at the Church of St. Mary de Castro, Leicester. Herbert was baptised on 18th October 1895 at St. Paul's Church, Leicester. Herbert had two brothers Archibald and Frank and one sister Madeline. Two other siblings died in infancy. When Herbert was born the family was living at 10 Noble Street, Leicester, but by 1901 had moved to No. 26 in the same street and Herbert's aunt Elizabeth Collins, a district nurse, was living with them. After Herbert's father died, aged 37, in 1904 the Childs family moved with Elizabeth Collins to 27 Norfolk Street, Leicester, and in 1911, young Herbert aged 15 was employed as a show card maker. Herbert's mother later moved to 17 Buckingham Street, Leicester.

After war broke out Herbert, who was living in Loughborough at the time, enlisted with the 2/5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 7393, later being renumbered as 243337. The 2/5th Battalion had its HQ in Loughborough as part of the Lincoln and Leicester Brigade, North Midland Division and was mobilised in September 1914. In January 1915 the battalion moved to Luton being billeted in private homes, in February and March they had a spell at Epping digging practice trenches. In July the battalion moved to the St Albans area, under canvas at Briton Camp for training and route marches. In August 1915, the Brigade was retitled 177th Brigade, 59th Division (2nd North Midland) and in October they were moved back to billets in Harpenden. Throughout 1915 some members of the 2/5th Leicesters also provided guards for the prisoner of war camp at Donington Hall.

In January 1916 parties of officers were sent to France on tours of instruction in the trenches and in March, the long awaited orders to proceed overseas were received. On Easter Monday, however, the rebellion in Ireland forced a rapid change of plans. The 177th Brigade was recalled from leave and ordered to move to Liverpool at midnight. The following day they sailed on the SS Ulster, a fast mailboat, escorted by a Royal Navy destroyer. Their first taste of action was not to be in the trenches of the Western Front, but in the streets of Dublin.

By the end of the month the main uprising was over and the 2/5th Battalion supplied search parties for Ballsbridge and guarded railways, bridges and other key infrastructure. On the 10th May they moved out of the city to tackle pockets of resistance in County Kerry, searching homes and making arrests. In June word was received that the Battalion would be moving to France and training resumed with long route marches through Ireland. In August they marched 80 miles from Tralee to Fermoy Barracks, where they would remain until January 1917, engaged in live fire training in trench warfare. The return trip from Ireland was made aboard the SS Ulster and the battalion arrived at Fovant Camp in Wiltshire by train at 7pm on 6th January 1917.

After embarkation leave they proceeded to France via Southampton, arriving at Le Havre on the 24th February 1917. They were sent to the Somme area where the enemy was retreating to the Hindenburg Line. They made their first attack on the villages of Hesbecourt and Hervilly on 31st of March 1917, capturing both villages and suffering a number of casualties.

On 1st April the battalion began constructing a line of cruciform posts and on the following day were shelled while doing so. On 3rd and 4th April part of the battalion supported the 4th Leicesters in an attack on Fervaque Farm while the rest of the battalion built posts in Templeux. On 11th and 12th April the battalion moved to Hervilly and Hamelet to provide working parties and on 15th A and C Coys were in support for an attack on Villeret. On 17th April the battalion moved from Brosse Woods to Templeux and Hervilly and were in support again on the following day in an attack on a quarry north of Villeret. On 19th April the battalion moved to Hancourt for cleaning up, working parties and training. On the night of 27th/28th April Hancourt was bombarded by the enemy and the battalion moved to the front line at Le Vergier.

Trench tours continued until 15th May when the battalion marched back to Bois Bias training camp between Bouvincourt-en-Vermandois and Le Catelet. Training took place until 25th May when they moved to Equancourt and went into the front and support lines at Villers Plouich. Here until 7th June more posts were constructed amid some heavy enemy bombardment. From 7th-16th June the battalion was in Brigade Reserve at Dessart Wood, after which the battalion returned to the front line at Villers Plouich and carried out cable digging and laying for the Royal Engineers. Attack training took place at Equancourt from 22nd-30th June, after which the battalion went into support at Metz-en-Couture until 10th July. For the rest of July and the first three weeks of August the battalion was in training at Barastre camp.

On 22nd August the battalion moved via Senlis to a front one mile south-west of Le Sars for further training. On 31st August they entrained at Albert for Hazebrouck and marched to a training camp north of Winnezeele where they remained until 20th September. By 23rd September the battalion was in the reserve trenches at St. Jean near Ypres, before taking over the front line at Hill 37, Hill 35 and Elmtree Corner. On 26th September the battalion went into attack to capture all enemy positions on Hill 37 (part of the Battle of Polygon Wood, a phase in the 3rd Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele). Herbert, aged 22, was killed in this action.

Herbert is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Panel 50-51.

His brother Frank also served with the Leicestershire Regiment and survived the war.
 
 

Private 46807 Everard Bernard Clarke

2/6th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.                                                                              

Died of Wounds 1st June 1918, Aged 19.

Buried St Sever Cemetery Ext, Q. II. F. 16.

   
 
Everard Bernard Clarke was born in Loughborough in the late spring of 1899. He was the son of James William Clarke and his wife Emma Teresa (née Cowlam) who were married on 28th July 1880 at the Catholic Chapel, Loughborough. Everard's father was a house painter and his mother a dressmaker. In 1901 the Clarke family lived in Griffin Place, 70 Ashby Square, Loughborough, next door to Everard's widowed grandmother, Maria Cowlan) but by 1911 had moved to 6 Burleigh Road. Everard had four brothers Arthur, George, James and Frederick and two sisters Mary and Frances. Three other siblings had died young.

Everard's service papers have not survived but he enlisted in about October 1917 and joined the 2/6th South Staffordshire Regiment as Private 46807. The precise date on which Everard was sent to France is unknown but the 2/6th Battalion received drafts of reinforcements on 10th March and on the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 23rd April 1918 and Everard could have been in any one of these drafts.

On 10th March 1918 the 2/6th South Staffordshires were in reserve and camped at Mory l'Abbaye. From 10th to the night of the 19/20th March the battalion provided large overnight working parties for digging and wiring in nearby defence systems. On several occasions the enemy shelled areas near the camp and the men were on 'Stand to' each day. The battalion then went into the front line trenches in the Bullecourt right sub-sector.

On 21st March, the first day of the German Spring Offensive, the back areas of the front line and the support lines were heavily bombarded with high explosives and gas shells by the enemy. The enemy then attacked in mass formation and captured the battalion's front line and headquarters. 23 Officers and 600 Ordinary Ranks of the battalion were found to be missing.

After repeated attacks by the enemy over the next two days the remainder of the battalion was obliged to withdraw to a ridge overlooking Ervillers which they held until relieved by the Suffolks. The battalion then marched to Miraumont, entrained for Albert, and marched to Bouzincourt. Over the next four days, 25th-28th March, the battalion marched via Beaucourt to Candas, entrained for Auvigny and travelled by lorry to Gauchin-Legal. Here they were billeted in the chateau and on 30th March the battalion and billets were inspected by HM King George V.

On 1st April the battalion marched to Houdain, entrained for Proven, and marched to Watou where training took place until 9th April. On 10th April the battalion marched to Poperinghe, took a train to Quinton Siding and proceeded to a camp near Ypres. On the following day, after being shelled by the enemy while in the camp, the battalion moved to the support line trenches at Passchendaele. On 12th April they were ordered to withdraw from the line, return to Wieltze station and entrain for Brandhoek. From Brandhoek the battalion marched via Vlamertinghe and Reninghelst to Locre and on 15th April went into the front line south-east of Bailleul.

As soon as the battalion reached the front line the enemy put down a heavy barrage on the rear lines and launched an attack, forcing the battalion to retreat to a position west of Bailleul. This new position was successfully held despite heavy enemy shelling and machine gun fire until the Royal Scots were able to establish a firm line nearby. The battalion then moved to Canada Corner Camp, having suffered another 95 casualties. Between 16th and 18th April, while the battalion was in camp, the camp was shelled several times.

On 18th April the battalion marched to Terdeghem, near Steenvoorde, and on 19th to a camp at Elverdinghe. Between 21st and 26th April the battalion was in training at Rousbrugge before moving to Reninghelst on 27th April and occupying the Reninghelst-Ouderdom reserve line on 28th April. Here they experienced heavy enemy artillery activity and gas shelling

During the first five days of May the battalion provided working parties for the Royal Engineers, during which time there were a few more casualties. The precise point at which Everard was wounded is unknown but he was taken to hospital in Rouen and died there of his wounds, aged 19, on 1st June 1918.

Everard's father and mother received a letter from the matron of the hospital concerning the last hours of their youngest son. The matron said their son received serious wounds in the arms and later developed gas poisoning. He was taken into the operating theatre and everything possible done to drain off the poison, and she added; 'During the last few hours, when he realised the end was near, he asked the sister to write to his mother and family and say that everything possible had been done and he was ready to go. He was such a splendid patriot, and everyone who knew him miss him so much'.

Everard was buried in St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Grave Q. II. F. 16. He is remembered on the memorial in St. Mary's Catholic Church, Loughborough, and on the Carillon.

Everard's brother Fred served with the Leicestershire Regiment and Royal Field Artillery and survived the war.

 

Lieutenant Hilary Calvert Clarke

 

31st Bn, Machine Gun Corps. (Inf).

Died of Wounds 31st August 1918, Aged 22.

Buried Meteren Military cemetery, II. E. 154. 

 

Hilary Calvert Clarke was born in Loughborough in early 1896 and baptised at All Saints Church, Loughborough, on 10th March 1896. He was the son of John Clarke and his wife Constance Annie (née Merryweather) who were married at St Peter's Church, Mountsorrel, on 1st November 1881. Hilary's father worked at Messrs. Clarke and Son, Dyers, Devonshire Square, Loughborough, a family firm founded by Hilary's grandfather Thomas Clarke. Hilary had one older brother Alan and one older sister Olive.

Between 1896 and 1901 the Clarke family lived at 29 Burton Street, Loughborough, and employed a governess and two servants. By 1908 they had moved to West Hayes, Chaveney Road, Quorn. After Hilary's father died on 14th September 1916 Hilary's mother moved with Alan and Olive firstly to The White House, Woodhouse Eaves, and then to Inglewood, Tempest Road, Birstall, Leicestershire.

Hilary attended Loughborough Grammar School from September 1904 to December 1907 and then became a boarder at Bishops Stortford College, Hertfordshire. On leaving school he spent some time at Leverkusen and Elberfield, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, studying the dyeing industry with a view to entering the family business. On his return home he briefly joined his father and brother in the firm and also became assistant scoutmaster with one of the local troops until war broke out.

Hilary inherited his mother's musical talent and was an able pianist and organist. The Loughborough Herald of 22nd January 1914 reported on a musical comedy performance in Quorn Village Hall and said: 'During the evening pianoforte duets were played by Mrs Clarke and Mr Hilary Clarke'. Hilary's sister Olive was also musical and a professional violinist.

Hilary enlisted in September 1914 with the 21st University and Public Schools (UPS) Battalion. He was initially sent to Epsom, Surrey and moved to Ashtead in October 1914. Trench digging was practised at Caterham and Woldingham in January 1915. In February 1915 he moved into a brand new camp at Woodcote Park, Epsom. Once men of the UPS had entered camp they became Royal Fusiliers forming the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st (Service) Battalions. Hilary was now Private PS/2550 in the 21st (Service) Battalion (4th Public Schools) of the Royal Fusiliers. As well as exercising in Woodcote Park they also used Epsom Downs, Headley Heath and the surrounding countryside in order to attain a level of efficiency that would allow them to go to war. In June 1915 the battalion moved to Clipstone Camp, near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, as part of the 98th Brigade, 33rd Division. The battalion then moved to Tidworth, Salisbury Plain, on 8th August 1915 and was sent to France on 14th November 1915.

After concentrating at Morbecque with the 33rd Division the battalion moved to Béthune and was sent to learn the skills of real trench warfare in the area around La Bassée Canal. Between November 1915 and April 1916 Hilary was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. Hilary officially left the Royal Fusiliers on 23rd April 1916, having returned to England in March 1916 to join an Officer Cadet Unit and prepare for a commission.

Upon passing through the course Hilary was commissioned on 4th September 1916 as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant with the Machine Gun Corps. Hilary would have then been trained at Grantham before being sent to France. If Hilary was with the 31st Division of the Army in 1917 he would have been involved in Operations on the Ancre, the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe and the Capture of Oppy Wood (all phases of the Arras Offensive). Precise details of his movements between September 1916 and March 1918 should be recorded in his service papers at the National Archives, Kew. (Unfortunately Officers service papers from WW1 are currently unavailable online.)

It is known, however, that on 1st March 1918 Hilary, now a Lieutenant, was with A Coy of the newly-formed 31st Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, at Roberts Camp, Roclincourt, north of Arras. On 3rd March the battalion marched to La Comte for reorganisation, inspections and training. On 7th March the Commanding Officer held a session on elementary map problems with Hilary and other Officers from A Coy and from 10th-16th March Hilary and three Ordinary Ranks attended XIII Corps Gas School. On 22nd March the battalion moved to the Hamelincourt area, with A and D Coys in hutments at Hendecourt.

On 23rd March the guns of A Coy obtained some excellent targets which were engaged with successfully. On 24th March A Coy positioned itself on a ridge east of the railway embankment overlooking Ervillers but in the evening was withdrawn to a ridge west of the embankment as the enemy had entered Ervillers. On 25th March A Coy was withdrawn again to a ridge in part of Adinfer overlooking Ayette. On 27th March, after the enemy opened a heavy bombardment around Ayette the battalion began moving to Pommier. From there on 1st and 2nd April they marched via Grouchy to Liencourt, proceeded by bus to Diéval and marched to La Comté.

At La Comté the battalion was able to rest until 9th April. On 10th April they moved by bus to Neuf-Berquin and on the following day began a three-day trench tour at Pradelles. After a break at Morbecque they were ordered to man the Hazebrouck defences at Hondeghem, but found there was a shortage of rounds for the guns. They also suffered four gas attacks by the enemy. Relieved on 27th April they returned to Hondeghem for training until 9th May.

Back in the line from 10th-23rd May they experienced another gas attack and heavy enemy shelling. From 23rd May until 19th June the battalion was mostly at Blaringhem for sports, training and inspections. While they were at Blaringhem there was a major outbreak of influenza and the camp set up an isolation centre.

On 20th June A, B and C Coys moved up to a staging area south of the Bois des Huit Rues, but on 21st June an officer who was carrying a map with all machine gun locations was captured by the Germans. This meant that all guns had to be moved. On 22nd June the battalion therefore took over the West Hazebrouck line and Le Peuplier switch, with Battalion HQ at Cinq Rues.

After several successful operations at the end of June the Division gradually moved forward. After further advances the battalion HQ moved to Wallon-Cappel on 9th August. From 11th-17th August the battalion was much occupied with night firing and on 19th, after a joint attack on Berquin and Outerstein, a further Allied advance was made.

On 31st August 1918, during an attack on enemy-held territory, a shell fell near A Coy and inflicted a severe wound above Hilary's left thigh. He died, aged 22, as he was being carried to the rear. Hilary was buried on 1st September in Meteren Military Cemetery, Grave II. E. 154.

Hilary's Major wrote to his family deeply regretting his death and offering the sympathy of the officers, N.C.O.s, and men of the regiment. Hilary's batman Private Warburton, wrote:' I think he was the bravest man I have ever seen, and the boys of his section are of the same opinion. Our one consolation is that he is now free from all pain and the hardship and trials of this terrible war (which we still have to bear) and that he has gone to the better land where there is no pain nor suffering, but everlasting peace'.

Hilary is commemorated on the memorials at Quorn and Woodhouse Eaves, on Loughborough Grammar School Memorial and on the Carillon.

Private 11309 John Clarke

 

1st Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in action 15th September 1916, Aged 19.

Buried Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme, XI. U. 3. 

 

 

John Clarke was born in Loughborough in 1897, the son of John Clarke of Loughborough and Lucy Maria Clarke (née Voysey) who came from Dawlish, Devon. John's father, John Senior, was a gardener's labourer in Hoton in 1891, a bricklayer's foreman in 1901 and a builder's labourer in 1911. John's parents were married in Loughborough in 1885 and they had ten children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. John Junior had two brothers William and Charles and four sisters Mary, Lucy, Nellie and Rosie. In 1901 the family lived 118 Station Road, Loughborough, and in 1911 at 43 Ratcliffe Road. Between 1911 and 1916 they moved to 106 Nottingham Road.

John Junior attested in Leicester to join the Army Reserve for six years on 11th December 1913. He gave his age as 17 years 214 days whereas he was, in fact, one year younger. He was clearly keen to join the military as he already had a soldier tattooed on his right forearm. He gave his occupation as 'wheelwright' and is known to have worked for William Moss and Sons, builders and contractors of Loughborough.

John joined the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 11309 and was sent for training as a recruit until 9th April 1914. According to Army records he attained the age of 18 years on 11th May 1914, but he was now only just 17. On 11th January 1915 he was appointed a Lance Corporal but two weeks later reverted to the rank of Private at his own request. On 23rd February 1915 he was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and sent from Southampton to France, landing at Rouen on the following day. In the spring of 1915 the 1st Leicesters were stationed near Armentières, and were involved in an attack intended to divert the enemy from the area of Neuve Chapelle. In April the battalion was alternating trench tours in the area of Rue du Bois with breaks in billets in Armentières.

In late May the battalion was ordered to move north to the Ypres Salient where they relieved the 1st Hampshire Regiment on the Wieltje-Ypres Road-Roosebeke Road and heavy casualties almost at once began to be incurred. In June and July 1915 they were fighting at Hooge, capturing a number of enemy trenches. Following this they were withdrawn to the ramparts at Ypres near the Menin Gate. In September the battalion occupied the front line near Wieltje and was subjected to a most intense enemy bombardment. During the greater part of October the battalion was either occupying trenches in the Potijze sector or trying to get rest and shelter by the canal bank.

On 20th December 1915 John received a gunshot wound in his back and was admitted to No. 18 Field Ambulance. On the following day he was transferred to No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station and then to a hospital ship for England.

Between January and July 1916 the 1st Leicesters were still on the Ypres Salient. On 1st February 1916 John, now recovered, rejoined his battalion there. On 3rd June his old wound caused him trouble and he was admitted to No. 17 Field Ambulance but returned to duty a week later.

On 1st August 1916 the 1st Leicesters left the trenches at Potizje and entrained at Proven for France. They reached billets at Lealvillers, Somme, on 4th August and on the following day marched to camp in Mailly-Maillet Wood. A period of training and working parties followed. On 14th August they went into the trenches opposite Beaumont-Hamel, where they remained until 19th when they returned to the Mailly Wood camp. On 27th August they left for Flesselles. Here additional training took place. On 8th September they occupied former German trenches in the area of Trônes Wood on the northern slope of the Montaubon Ridge while in the following days the build-up for a major battle took place.

John was killed in action on the 15th September, the first day of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. He is buried in Guards Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme, Grave XI. U. 3.

A newspaper announcement of his death noted that 'In his earlier days he was one of the most noted newspaper lads of the town'.

Private 18378 John Edward Clarke

 

13th Bn, Royal Scots. (Lothian Regiment).

Killed in Action 26th September 1915, Aged 28.

Commemorated Loos Memorial, panel 10 - 13. 

 

John Edward Clarke was born in Nottingham in 1886, the son of John Clarke and Eliza Clarke (née Robinson) who were married in Nottingham in 1881. John Edward had one older brother William and three sisters Elizabeth, Mary and Emma. Their father was a framework knitter and by 1891 the family had settled at 77 Ashby Road, Loughborough. By 1911 the family had moved to 31 Hastings Street, Loughborough and John Edward was now a framework knitter like his father. By 1919, when their children had left home, it seems that John and Eliza Clarke moved back to 134 Ashby Road.

John Edward enlisted at Loughborough on 11th January 1915. Two days later he joined C Company of the 13th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Scots (Lothian) Regiment at Glencorse Barracks, Penycuik, Midlothian. In February he was sent to Basingstone, Hampshire, and then to Chisledon, Wiltshire in March. On 7th July 1915 he was sent to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. Less than three months later John Edward, aged 28, was killed in action on 26th September, the second day of the Battle of Loos.

During the early part of the Battle of Loos the Royal Scots were in reserve, two miles back from the firing line. Late in the morning of the first day of the battle they were ordered to move forward to occupy the old firing-line. They remained there until night, when a further journey was made to the captured village of Loos. Later they were ordered to reinforce the firing-line and on the following day were in action around Hill 70, where John Edward lost his life.

He is commemorated on the Loos memorial panel 10-13.

John Edward's older brother William, who had been with the Leicesters in South Africa in 1902, re-attested at the outbreak of the First World War, but was rejected as being medically unfit for service.
 

Sergeant 2645 William Frederick Clarke

 

1/4th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in action 13th Oct. 1915, Aged 23.                                             

Commemorated Loos Memorial, panel 42 - 44.                  

 

 

William Frederick Clarke was born in Loughborough in 1892, the son of Harry Clarke and Mary Ann Clarke (née Nicklin) who were married in Nottingham in 1885. William's father was a stonemason and they lived at 3 Rutland Street, Loughborough. William had three brothers Harry Archibald, Leonard and Walter and one sister Barbara. William went to school at Cobden Street and then to Loughborough Grammar School. In 1911 he was employed as a costings clerk at the Empress Works.

When war broke out William was engaged in business in Leicester and he immediately enlisted there. He joined the 1/4th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as soldier no. 2645 and was rapidly promoted to the position of Sergeant.

In August 1914 the 1/4th Battalion was in Leicester but soon moved to Luton and by November 1914 was in Bishop's Stortford. William was sent to France on 2nd March 1915. From Le Havre the battalion was sent by train to Cassel, from whence they marched to Zuytpeene. From there they moved to Strazeele, Sailly, Bac-Saint-Maur, Steenwerck and finally to Armentières. In April and May 1915 they were in trenches at Dranoutre and in June moved to Ouderdom. By the beginning of July they were at Sanctuary Wood, near Ypres and at the end of the month took part in the attack at Hooge, where the Germans used liquid fire. The battalion was then moved to the area of Loos, and took part in the attack at the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13th October 1915. William Clarke, who was a bomber, was killed on 13th October, aged 23.

William Frederick Clarke is remembered on the Loos Memorial, France, panel 42-44, and in Loughborough on the Carillon War Memorial, Holy Trinity Church Roll of Honour, and Loughborough Grammar School Roll of Honour.

His brother Leonard enlisted with the 2/5th Leicestershire Regiment in 1914 but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. Leonard survived the war.

Private 1995 George Clowes

 

C Sqdn. Leicestershire Yeomanry.

Killed in Action 13th May 1915, Aged 19.

Commemorated Ypres (Menin Gate) panel 5. 

 

George Clowes was born in 1895 in Guiseley, Yorkshire, the son of Ernest Clowes, a railway stationmaster who himself was born at Woodhouse Eaves, and Sarah Clowes (née Yeadon). The family had moved to West Langton, Leicestershire by 1901 and to Hathern Station, Loughborough by 1911. They later moved to Bakewell, Derbyshire. George had two sisters, Louie and Elizabeth. Before enlisting in 1913 George was an engineer's draughtsman and lived in Loughborough.

George was reported missing in an engagement on the Menin Road during the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge.

There is also a memorial plaque to George Clowes in St. James' Church, Normanton-on-Soar.
 
 

Private 4581 George Cockerill

 

1st Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Killed in Action 7th July 1915, Aged 33.

Commemorated Ypres (Menin Gate) panel 8. 

 

George Cockerill was born in 1882 in Northamptonshire. He was the son of George Cockerill, an iron moulder, and his wife Mary Ann (née Pickering) who were married in Kettering in 1881. He had two sisters Rose Ellen and Florence and a younger brother Walter. In 1884 the family lived at Victoria Terrace, Thrapston, Northants, but had moved to Loughborough by 1891 where George Senior had obtained a job in Taylor's bell foundry. Initially the Cockerill family lived at 1 Pinfold Gate but they subsequently moved to 2 Nottingham Road. George Senior died in 1901 and in 1909 Mary Ann married George Jarram.

By 1911 George was working in Coventry as a coremaker and living there at 28 Lockhurst Lane. In December 1914 or January 1915 he enlisted at Coventry and joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as Private 4581. He arrived in France on 4th May 1915 and was killed in action on 7th July 1915, aged 33.

A letter was sent to the family by Company Sergeant-Major A. J. Dodd describing how Cockerill lost his life. The letter read: 'We were ordered to reinforce another brigade which was having a very hard fight but we won with honour. We were in support and were heavily shelled, some few casualties resulting. Amongst the latter was Pte. Cockerill. He was killed by a piece of shell which struck him, and it may benefit you to know that the poor fellow suffered no pain, for his end was instantaneous. We are in sympathy with you one and all. He was an excellent soldier in every respect. We all miss his cheery presence and every man in the company was his Pal.'
 

Private 41430 Matthew Cockerill

 

7th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died a Prisoner of War at Kriegslazarett Le Cateau [War Hospital] 21st September 1918, Aged 19.

Buried Le Cateau Military Cemetery, I. B. 118. 

 

Matthew Cockerill was born in Loughborough on 4th September 1898. He was the oldest son of Thomas Cockerill and his wife Mary Eliza (née Green) who were married In Loughborough in the early summer of 1896. Matthew had three brothers Thomas, Frank and John and two sisters Joyce and Mary.

In 1901 Matthew's father was a grocer's manager and the family lived at 18 Broad Street, Loughborough. By 1911 Matthew's father had his own grocery business in Swan Street and the family had moved to 43 Park Road, Loughborough, and employed a housekeeper. In 1915 his father was ordered in court to pay damages to a child Mary Taylor, who had been injured in Ratcliff Road when the unattended grocery horse bolted with its attached conveyance.

After he left school Matthew became an assistant in his father's grocery business. With his family he attended the Baptist Church. He enlisted on 30th August 1916 and was mobilised on 19th February 1917. He was sent to Leicestershire Regiment Depot at Glen Parva and then posted to the Regiment's 10th (Reserve) Battalion as Private 41430.

Over the next year Matthew trained as a signaller. Being a signaller usually meant you were close to the front line troops, providing signals communications back to your Company and Battalion HQ. Wired telephones were used where possible but this involved laying landlines which was a hazardous job during enemy shelling. At the start of the war flags were also used for signalling but this practice was little used by the time Matthew was trained.

Where it was not possible to lay landlines then many forms of visual signalling were used which made use of light either from sunlight (use of the sun and mirrors) in day time and lamps at night (Lucas Lamps). Messages were sent in Morse Code, one man operating the signalling device and one man using a telescope (where distances were great) to read the message sent back.

Signallers were also used in forward positions to assist the artillery and provide information on their enemy targets. In these positions, often isolated, the signaller became vulnerable to enemy shelling and attack, and many signallers lost their lives.

Matthew was sent to Calais, via Folkestone and Boulogne, on 20th February 1918. From K Infantry Base Depot he was then posted to C Coy of the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment between 26th and 28th February. At the time the battalion was at Adrian Camp, Villers-Faucon, Somme, for wiring work and trench digging.

In March it became clear that the Germans were planning a Spring Offensive. From 1st-20th March the battalion did trench tours at Pezières, two Coys in the front and support lines, 1 Coy garrisoning five posts and 1 Coy in reserve for counter-attack purposes. During this time the battalion carried out patrols while the enemy attempted several raids and sent over gas shells. The front line companies were relieved every four days.

The enemy launched their Spring Offensive on 21st March 1918 with a heavy barrage of phosgene and mustard gas. The 7th Battalion was holding the left hand portion of the front between Pezières and Epehy village when it was attacked by German stormtroopers. The enemy broke through the front line and the battle for Epehy raged all day. During the battle Matthew was taken prisoner by the Germans.

The next sighting of Matthew is unfortunately the record of his death from 'intestinal catarrh' [catarrhal enteritis] in Kriegslazarett Le Cateau (a German military hospital) on 21st September 1918. He was only 19. He was buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery, Nord, Grave 1.B.118.

Matthew is remembered on the Baxtergate Baptist Church Memorial and on the Carillon.

Private 9190 John James Collington

 

B Coy 1st Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.).

Died of Wounds 28th January 1915, Aged 28.

Buried Estaires Communal Cemetery I. G. 2. 

 

John James Collington enlisted at Nottingham into the Sherwood Foresters in 1904 and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, serving with them for almost eleven years.

Collington embarked for France with the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters on the 4th November 1914. In January 1915 his battalion was holding trenches facing Neuve Chapelle, not far from Richebourg. The trenches were either frozen or flooded and men had to move over open ground to the front line, with the enemy only 120 yards away. John was wounded in the trenches and died in hospital from a compound fracture of the skull.

John was one of eight children of John and Rebecca Collington of Brook Street, Wymeswold and the husband of Julia Ann Collington of 40 Mountsorrel Road, Quorn. John and Julia had a small daughter, Rebecca, born in 1914. One of John's three brothers, Alfred, who served with the Royal Garrison Artillery, lost a leg in the war, but survived.

John's medals and assorted paper work are kept at The Carillon War Memorial Museum. He is additionally commemorated on the Quorn and Wymeswold village memorials.  

 
 
John's Memorial Plaque.

Private 5835 Frank Alfred Collumbell

10th Bn. The King's (Liverpool Regiment).                                                              

Died of Wounds 8th September 1916, Aged 26.

Buried Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, I. A. 20. 

(his brother William E. Collumbell also fell see below)

Frank Alfred Collumbell was born in 1890 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, the son of Frank Collumbell and Jessie Collumbell (née Brown) who were married in Derby in 1885. He was baptised at St. Laurence's Church, Long Eaton on 13th January 1891. At the time the family home was at 22, New Tithe Street, Long Eaton, and Frank (Senior), was a baker.

By 1901 the family home had changed to Prospect Street, Heanor, where Frank (Senior) ran a bread bakery. By 1911 the family had moved to Loughborough where Frank (Senior) had opened a new bakery business at 15 Cattlemarket. Frank (Junior) had five brothers Arthur, Claude, Walter, Edgar and Godfrey and three sisters Mary, Dorothy and Jessie. The Collumbell family later ran a confectionery shop at 15 Devonshire Square.

Frank (Junior) enlisted in Liverpool on 12th November 1915. He joined the 1/10th (Scottish) Battalion of the King's (Liverpool Regiment) as Private 5835. He was sent to France on 9th June 1916 via Southampton and Le Havre.

When Frank joined his battalion they were in a rest camp at Gouy-en-Artois, south-west of Arras. On 20th June the battalion went into the nearby trenches until the end of the month, occupied mainly with making raids on enemy trenches. Trench work also took up the first eleven days of July with regular patrols to ensure that the enemy kept well back. Between 11th and 14th July the battalion was in billets at Simencourt and Agny and on the night of the 14th/15th a smoke barrage was carried out followed by an intense bombardment of the enemy.

On 18th July the battalion left Simencourt for Bernaville. From Bernaville they marched to Candas, entrained for Méricourt and transferred to billets at Ville-sur-Ancre, south-west of Albert, on the Somme. A short training period followed before the battalion went into Divisional Reserve at Talus Boise. On 7th August the battalion took up a place in the front line in the trenches opposite Guillemont in preparation for an attack on 8th. After the attack Guillemont was still in enemy hands, there were many casualties and the battalion was ordered to retreat to the Reserve trenches at Talus Boise. On 14th August the battalion was relieved but was heavily shelled as the men marched back to bivouacs.

From 15th-19th August the men were in billets at Meaulté. On 19th August the battalion entrained for Martainville and marched to billets at Valines. For the next eight days there was training in bombing and musketry and parties of officers and men were allowed 72 hours at the seaside at Eu or Ault. On 28th August the battalion proceeded up the line again to Méricourt and Meaulté. A further battle for Guillemont ensued between 3rd and 6th September.

It is not known exactly when Frank was wounded but his parents received a letter that their son, Private Frank Alfred Collumbell, King's (Liverpool Regiment), succumbed on September 8th to wounds received in action. The letter was written by the Captain of the deceased's company, who said, after regretting the nature of his communication, that: 'He received his wounds whilst gallantly carrying out his duty. With the rest of the company he had been performing a difficult operation for two days, during which time he was amongst the coolest, under the most trying circumstances. He greatly regretted the loss of such a keen soldier and asked the parents and family to accept the sincerest sympathy not only of the officers and N.C.Os but also of his fellow soldiers. Although he had only been with them since June, Pte. Collumbell had already made many friends by his cheerfulness and genuine ways, and he would be greatly missed'.

Frank was 26 when he died and he was buried in Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, Somme, Grave I. A. 20. He is commemorated on the memorial in All Saints Parish Church, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

Frank's personal effects returned to his brother Arthur in 1917 included devotional books and a rosary.

Frank's brother Edgar had died of wounds received in action on the Somme just one month earlier. His brother Claude who was a Driver with the Army Service Corps and served in Salonika, survived the war.
 
 
 
 
Frank's Memorial Plaque
 
 

Private 357399 William Edgar Collumbell

13th Bn. The King's (Liverpool  Regiment).                                                              

Died of Wounds 16th August 1916, Aged 17.

Buried Guillemont Road Cemetery  Somme, XIV. K. 5. 

(his brother Frank A. Collumbell also fell see above)

William Edgar Collumbell, known to his family as 'Edgar' was born in late 1898 or early 1899 in Marlpool, Derbyshire, the son of Frank Collumbell and Jessie Collumbell (née Brown) who were married in Derby in 1885. He was baptised at St. Laurence's Church, Heanor, on 30th July 1899. In 1901 the family home was in Prospect Street, Heanor, where Frank Collumbell ran a bread bakery. By 1911 the family had moved to Loughborough where Frank Collumbell had opened a new bakery business at 15 Cattlemarket. Edgar had five brothers Arthur, Frank, Claude, Walter and Godfrey and three sisters Mary, Dorothy and Jessie. Edgar's parents later ran a confectionery shop at 15 Devonshire Square, Loughborough.

Edgar joined the 13th (Service) Battalion of the King's (Liverpool Regiment) as Private 6362, afterwards being renumbered as Private 357399. The exact date of his enlistment is unknown - in August 1914, when war broke out he was only 15 years old. His older brother Claude enlisted on 2nd November 1914 and his older brother Frank on 12th November 1915. What is certain is that Edgar was on the Somme in August 1916 when his battalion was involved in the Battle of Albert and the Battle of Bazentin Ridge helping to capture Longueval. On 16th August 1916 the 13th King's (Liverpool Regiment) made an attack on the village of Guillemont. The attack failed, however, with heavy casualties due to poor preparation. Edgar was one of the casualties and died of wounds received in action on that day, aged just 17. He was buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, Somme, Grave XIV. K. 5. He is commemorated on the memorial in All Saints' Church, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

Edgar's brother Frank died of wounds received in action just one month later. His brother Claude who was a Driver with the Army Service Corps and served in Salonika, survived the war.

 

       

            

William's Memorial Plaque

 

 

Private 40377 Albert Edgar Cooling

 

4th Bn, Worcestershire Regiment.

Formerly 25176 South Staffordshire Regiment.

Killed in Action 14th April 1917, Aged 27.

Commemorated Arras Memorial bay 6. 

 

Albert Edgar Cooling was born in Aylestone Park, Leicestershire, in 1889, the son of Frederick Cooling and Anna Elizabeth (née Singleton) who were married in 1884 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. Between 1891 and 1897 Albert's parents moved from 3 Curzon Terrace, Braunstone Gate, Leicester, to Loughborough and Albert was baptised on 24th February 1897 at All Saints' Church, Loughborough. In 1901 and 1911 the Cooling family was living at 58-59 Canal Bank, Bridge Street, Loughborough. They later moved to 28 Burder Street. Albert's father progressed from being a bricklayer's labourer to bricklayer. Albert was one of six surviving children out of nine and he had two brothers William and Reuben and three sisters Mary, Elsie and Florence.

In 1911 Albert was a boatman on a barge but between 1911 and 1916 he obtained employment as a shunter at the Falcon engine and car works in Loughborough. On 4th March 1916 Albert married Sarah Anne Stringfellow at All Saints' Church, Loughborough, at about the same time that he enlisted.

Albert joined the South Staffordshire Regiment as Private 25176 but at some point he was transferred to the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. As his service record has not survived the dates of his enlistment, transfer and entry into France are unknown. The war diary of the 4th Worcesters reveals that between September 1916 and March 1917 the 4th Worcesters received eight drafts of ordinary rank soldiers and it is likely that Albert was in one of these drafts.

During July 1916 the 4th Battalion had been involved in the attack on Beaumont Hamel, Somme. On the night of July 29th/30th 1916 the battalion moved by train to Poperinghe, then Ypres and went into the line on the slope of Bellewarde Ridge. Active trench warfare (sniping, bombing and labouring) followed with a raid on the German line on September 15th. The Germans retaliated with an intense bombardment.

The battalion was withdrawn from the Ypres Salient on 5th October as it was needed for the Battle of Le Transloy Ridges which had begun on October 1st. They entrained at Poperinghe for Longueau near Amiens. After a short stay at a camp near Pommiers Redoubt the battalion advanced into the reserve trenches on the crest of the main ridge north of Delville Wood. On 13th October the 4th Worcesters ploughed forward through the mud and relieved the 1st Essex and two days of heavy shelling followed. On 17th October the Worcesters moved forward to the front line in preparation for attack. The attack took place on 18th October and the Worcesters made significant gains but incurred considerable losses. After the attack the battalion was gradually withdrawn to Bernafay Wood, from there to Pommiers Camp and thence to billets at Ville-sous-Corbie for two weeks rest and training. On 17th November the battalion was back in the front line again where they remained, with breaks at Carnoy or Bernafay Wood until 11th December. A rest period with training, drill and route marches followed at Molliens-Vidame until 10th January 1917.

On 11th January the battalion entrained at Hangest for Corbie and moved from there to Méaulte and Carnoy and into the trenches at Morval. In mid-February there was a week's training at La Houssoye and a short trench tour at Frégicourt before the battalion entrained for Le Plateau and Bronfay Camp No. 2. March 1917 was mainly taken up with training at Méaulte and Molliens-Vidame.

From 29th March the battalion was on the move in preparation for the 2nd Battle of Arras, marching to Ronville via La Chaussée-Tirancourt, Vignacourt, Beauval, Mondicourt, Le Souich, Couturelle, and Gouy-en-Artois. On 12th April they went into the trenches south of Monchy le Preux. On 14th April the battalion was ordered into the attack and fifteen ordinary ranks were killed or wounded. Albert, aged 27, was one of those killed.

Albert's wife received a letter from the Company Quarter-Master Sergeant informing her that her husband had been killed.

Albert is commemorated on the Arras Memorial Bay 6.

Albert's father, previously a member of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Militia, attested on 26th March 1915 at Leicester. He joined the 2/4th and then the 2/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment but was discharged in March 1916 on account of his age. Albert's brother Reuben served with the Leicestershire Regiment and his brother William on the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Both brothers survived the war.

Rifleman 3437 Frank Cooper

 

1/9th Bn, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Riffles)

Killed in Action 1st July 1916 (Somme) Aged 27.

Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, pier & face 9 C.

 

Frank Cooper was born in Loughborough in late 1887 or early 1888, the son of Samuel and Annie Cooper (née Palmer) who were married in Loughborough in 1875. Frank's parents had seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Frank's brothers were John and Percy and his sisters Rose and Henrietta. His father was a hosiery warehouseman, In 1891 the family lived at 24 Broad Street, Loughborough, in 1901 at 16 Gladstone Street, and in 1911 at 41 Park Road. In 1911 Frank, aged 23, was a draper's assistant.

Frank enlisted in Bayswater, London, in early November 1914 and joined the 1/9th Battalion of the London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles) as Rifleman 3437. His service number was later changed to 390911. He was sent to Crowborough, Sussex, for training.

Frank entered France on 6th June 1915. When Frank joined his battalion in the field it was recovering from the Battles of St. Julien and Hill 60 and the 2nd Battle of Ypres, all of which took place in April and May 1915. On 10th February 1916 a new division of the Army was created, the 56th (London) Division, and Frank's battalion was allocated to the 169th Brigade. The division began to concentrate in the Hallencourt area of the Somme, 10 miles south of Abbeville.

On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, Frank's battalion took part in the diversionary attack at Gommecourt. Frank was killed in action and his body was never found. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 9C) and the Memorial of Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

Frank's younger brother Percy was badly gassed in the war but he recovered sufficiently to marry and raise a family in Loughborough.
 

Trooper 2831 Frank Soars Cooper

 

1st Bn, Warwickshire Yeomanry

Died Egypt 19th April 1916, Aged 16. 

Buried Kantara War Memorial Cemetery A. 31.

 

Frank Soars Cooper was born in late 1899 in Loughborough, the natural son of Elizabeth Cooper, a hosiery winder. Frank's mother Elizabeth was the daughter of Frederick Cooper, a general labourer, and Tamar Cooper (née Lakin) who were married in Loughborough in 1873.

By 1901 the Cooper household had split up: Frank Soars Cooper was with his mother Elizabeth, his uncles John and Henry and his aunt Ada at 47 Mill Street, Loughborough; Frank's grandparents Frederick and Tamar were living at 25 Tyler Street, Nottingham, with their two youngest sons James and Arthur (also uncles to Frank Soars Cooper). Frederick, another son (also uncle to Frank) was in the Nottingham Union Workhouse.

By 1911 Frank Soars Cooper and his mother Elizabeth had also left Loughborough. Elizabeth, still single, was housekeeper to Sidney Dunster, an iron foundry moulder, at 2 Court 2 House, Gosford Street, Coventry. Elizabeth's brothers James and Frederick were also living nearby at 17 Sparkbrook Street, Coventry, and were employed in the motor works.

Frank Soars Cooper joined the Warwickshire Yeomanry in May 1915 and had previously been in the Cadets for two years. As Trooper 2831 he was sent to Egypt on 30th November 1915 to join the 1/1 Warwickshire Yeomanry.

In January 1916, following some reorganisation, Frank's brigade the 1st South Midland became an independent command and was retitled as 5th Mounted Brigade, having been reunited with the horses which had remained in Egypt during the Gallipoli Campaign. The 5th Mounted Brigade served as Corps Troops in Egypt from 21st January 1916 until January 1917. Sir Archibald Murray, the Commander in charge of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force from January 1916, was charged with the defence of Egypt and particularly the Suez Canal against the Turks. He decided to seize the important water supplies in the palm hods at Katia in north Sinai, and sent the 5th Mounted Brigade, under the command of Brigadier E. A. Wiggin, to attack and capture the position. Frank was killed in action on 19th April 1916 just prior to the disastrous end of this expedition a few days later. He was only 16 and is buried in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Grave A.31.

Frank's mother eventually married Sidney Dunster in 1924 in Coventry.

Private 12306 Frederick Oliver Cooper

 

2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died of Wounds 14th May 1915, Aged 38.

Buried Le Touret Military Cemetery I. H. 16. 

 

Frederick Oliver Cooper was born in 1878 in Loughborough, the son of William Cooper and his first wife Annie Cooper (née Jeffels) who were married in Loughborough in 1873. He had two older brothers William and Frank and three younger half-sisters Bertha, Eunice and Kathleen by his father's second wife Mary Ann Chapman. His own mother Annie had died in 1885. His father, who in 1881 was a cooper by trade, had by 1891 become a licensed victualler and kept the Boat Inn, Canal Bank, Meadow Lane, Loughborough. Young Frederick, aged 13, helped at the public house and hay stores.

Around 1896 Frederick enlisted and served for twelve years with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment. He fought in the Second Boer War, was at Ladysmith and the Battle of Talana Hill, and was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with Talana clasp. His battalion also took part in the operations that carried the war into the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal, and was present at the storming of Laing's Nek and the capture of Amersfort, Ermelo and Belfast, and in the operations around Lyndenberg. On Christmas Day 1909 Frederick, discharged from the army and now a crane fitter, married Annie Pearce at Holy Trinity Church, Loughborough, and the couple set up home at 24 Meadow Lane, later moving to 40 Granville Street. Frederick's father, meanwhile, had returned to coopering and was now living with his third wife Fanny (his second wife's younger sister) at 16 Glebe Street, Loughborough.

As a reservist Frederick was, however, recalled in August 1914 and he reenlisted on the 3rd September 1914. Initially posted to the 3rd Leicesters he was sent to France on 17th December 1914 to join the 2nd Leicesters who were fighting with the Indian Corps. After the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th - 13th March 1915) the 2nd Leicesters spent a couple of months alternately in the Trenches or in billets while war training, in the area of Calonne and Vieille Chapelle north-east of Bethune. Frederick died from wounds on 14th May 1914 and like so many others, appears to have been a victim of trench warfare.

He left his wife Annie and four small children all under five years of age: Joseph, Frances, Ivy and Caroline.
 

Signalman 225838 George Henry Copson

 

Royal Navy HMS Sparrowhawk.

Killed in Action Jutland 1st June 1916, Aged 28.

Commemorated Chatham Naval Memorial, 16.

 

 

George Henry Copson was born on the 10th February 1888 in Loughborough, the son of George Copson, a contractor's labourer, and Ellen Copson (née Bateman), both from Husbands Bosworth. His parents were married in the Market Harborough district in 1887. George had an older sister Agnes and two younger siblings Edward and Mary. By 1891 the family home was in Loughborough, at 17 Wellington Street, but by 1901 the family had moved to 48 Moor Lane and his father was now a night-soil scavenger foreman. George's mother died in 1908 and in 1910 his father was married again to Ann Kendrick Handley. His father and step-mother settled at 38 Oxford Street, his father was now being employed by Loughborough Corporation.

On 16th April 1903 George, aged fifteen, enlisted into the Royal Navy. He was given the service number 225838 in Chatham, Kent. His previous trade was given as 'houseboy' and he had two 'N's tattooed on his left forearm, two faces - one a sailor, the other a woman, on his left wrist and crossed flags on his right wrist.

On the 16th April 1903 George joined HMS Caledonia (a training ship) as 'A boy, 2nd Class'. He was promoted to 'Boy, 1st Class (Signaller)' on the 17th November 1903. In June 1904 he was transferred to HMS Pembroke shore base for four months and then to HMS Berwick (a Monmouth-class armoured cruiser) until March 1906, having been promoted to Signalman in February 1906. Between March and August 1906 he was with HMS Pembroke I shore base and promoted to Ordinary Signalman. After this he moved for nine months to HMS Pembroke II shore base, and then on 1st June 1907 he was transferred to HMS Actaeon (an Eclipse-class screw corvette). In September 1907 he was promoted to Leading Signalman and stayed with HMS Actaeon until September 1908. After a further six months with HMS Pembroke I George moved to HMS Dido (an Eclipse-class second class cruiser) in March 1909. He remained with HMS Dido until August 1910 when he completed his term of engagement.

George subsequently took employment as a coal porter in a mine at Whitwick. He married Florence Theresa Gilson at All Saints Church, Peckham, SE London on 8th September 1912.

On 15th February 1915 George re-enlisted at Coalville and was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. He was discharged on 15th March 1915 to enable him to re-enter the Royal Navy. He joined HMS Victory I (shore establishment) as Leading Signalman until 22nd July 1915, when he moved to HMS Hecla (a torpedo boat carrier) until March 1916. On 19th March he was transferred to HMS Sparrowhawk (an Acasta-class destroyer).

At the Battle of Jutland HMS Sparrowhawk was part of the 4th destroyer flotilla under Commander Walter Allan of HMS Broke. At 11.40pm on 31st May 1916 HMS Broke was caught in searchlights coming from the German battleship SMS Westfalen. She attempted to fire torpedoes, but the range was only around 150 yards and the German ship opened fire first. The effect was devastating so that within a couple of minutes fifty crew on HMS Broke were killed and another thirty injured. The attack disabled the guns and prevented any activity on deck. The helmsman was killed at the wheel, and as he died his body turned the wheel, which caused HMS Broke to turn to port and ram HMS Sparrowhawk.

A third destroyer, HMS Contest then crashed into HMS Sparrowhawk, striking six feet from her stern. HMS Contest was relatively unharmed and able to continue after the collision. HMS Broke and HMS Sparrowhawk remained wedged together for about half-an-hour before they could be separated and HMS Broke got underway taking thirty of HMS Sparrowhawk's crew with her. HMS Sparrowhawk, although still having engine power, could only steam ahead in circles as her rudder was jammed to one side.

An hour later, three British destroyers arrived and HMS Marksman attempted to get two hawsers attached to HMS Sparrowhawk to tow her to safety. The high seas meant the ropes parted and there were reports of German submarines nearby. It was decided to abandon HMS Sparrowhawk and HMS Marksman fired eighteen shells into her to ensure that she sank.

Six of the crew of HMS Sparrowhawk were lost, including George Copson, aged 28. His widow, who had been living at 91 Silver Street, Whitwick, with their two young daughters Florence and Ellen moved back to 19 Parkstone Road, Rye Lane, Peckham, SE London, to be near her family.

George is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 16, on memorials at All Saints Church and St. Peter's Church, Loughborough, on the memorial in St. John the Baptist Churchyard, Whitwick, and on the Coalville Council Office Memorial as well as on the Loughborough Carillon. George's father died a year later.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
H.M.S. Sparrowhawk                                                 Chatham Memorial

Lieutenant Sydney Corah

 

5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 3rd October 1918, Aged 26.

Buried Busigny Communal Ext. V C. 7. 

 

Sydney was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Corah of Park road, Loughborough. Lieutenant Corah was educated at Loughborough Grammar School. The deceased was articled with Messrs. Wilshere Gimson and Co, charted accountants of Leicester. Joining the Leicestershire Regiment in November 1914, he was promoted from the ranks and obtained a commission to another battalion of the county regiment then in training. In the winter of 1916 he went to France and was wounded at Gommecourt in March 1917. After his recovery he was at Somercotes camp for some time, and was made acting captain till he went to France again in September. Letters received from him during the last few days' show that he had been in some of the heaviest of the recent fighting. News of his death was conveyed to his parents by the Wesleyan chaplain who added that their son had been buried beside his friend and padre, the Rev. D. W. Buck who was killed in the canal attack on the previous Sunday. Lieut. Corah was only married last April 1917 and deep sympathy is extended to his young widow Hilda Corah of Wynnestowe Ashby Road Loughborough.

Private 1471 William Ernest Hoe Corah

 

Leicestershire Yeomanry.

Killed in action 13th May 1915, Aged 25.

Commemorated Ypres (Menin Gate) panel 5.                                

 

 

William Ernest Hoe Corah was born in Kegworth in 1890, the only son of William Corah, a home furnisher, and Catherine Corah (née Hoe) who were married in Loughborough in 1889. William had one sibling Elsie, born in 1893. In 1901 the Corah family lived in Derby Square, Loughborough, and by 1911 had moved to Swing Bridge House, Loughborough. William's father was now an auctioneer as well as a house furnisher. William Ernest was employed assisting in the family business and his sister Elsie helped as an assistant clerk.

William Ernest enlisted at Oakham and served as Private (No. 1471) in the Leicestershire Yeomanry. He entered France on 2nd November 1914. He was killed at the Battle of Frezenberg.

Private DM2    129734 C. Corbett

 

Mechanical Transport, Army Service Corps attd.

39th Anti-Aircraft Sect. Royal Garrison Artillery.

Killed in Action 13th November 1918, Aged 23.

Buried Mont Huon Military Cemetery X. A. 8A. 

 

Son of John and Fanny Corbett, of Woodthorpe, nr. Loughborough, Leicestershire.

Lance Corporal 95924 Cris Burrows Cotton

 

1st Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.)

Presumed Killed in Action on or after 27th May 1918, Aged 18 

Commemorated Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France.

 

Cris Burrows Cotton was born in Swanwick, Derbyshire, on 9th July 1899 and baptised on 27th August 1899 at St. Andrew's Church, Swanwick. He was the eldest child of Crispianus Cotton and his wife Sarah Ann (née Vardy) who were married on 5th October 1898 at St. Andrew's Church, Swanwick. In 1901 the Cotton family was living at The Green, Alfreton, Derbyshire, and Cris's father was the manager of a Co-op grocery stores. By 1906 the family had moved to Riddings, Derbyshire, and in 1910 moved again to 61 Toothill Road, Loughborough. In 1917 the Cotton family was living at Crisholme, Forest Road. In Loughborough Cris's father ran a grocer's shop and his wife assisted in the business. Cris had four brothers Fred, Charles, George and Kenneth.

When he left school Cris became an estimating clerk. On 7th July 1917, two days before his eighteenth birthday, he enlisted at Loughborough. Mobilised on the following day he was posted to the 7th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) as Private 95924.

After training Cris was sent to France on 2nd April 1918 to join the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. He joined them at Hangest-en-Santerre where the battalion was undergoing reorganisation. On 12th April the battalion entrained at Hangest for St. Roche station, Amiens, and marched into Corps Reserve at Querrieu. On 15th April they moved to Blangy and two days later to Blangy-Tronville. On 19th April the battalion went into the front line trenches at Villers-Brettoneaux.

Relieved on 23rd April they marched to Blangy-Tronville but on the following day were ordered to march to Blangy Wood and attack Villers-Bretonneaux. The battalion met the enemy in the Bois l'Abbé where a line was taken up. They held this line for three days and succeeded in extending it by 630 yards to the right. Relieved on the evening of 27th the battalion marched to bivouac in Blangy Wood. On the following day they proceeded to billets in Camon to clean up and rest.

On 2nd May, after an overnight stay in billets in Clairy-Saulchoix, the battalion entrained at Saleux station for Fismes and marched to huts south-west of Chéry-Chartreuse. Training took place at Chéry on 7th and 8th May, followed by a three-day move via Magneux and Rucy to take up the support position at Juvincourt. The battalion then held the front line from 17th-24th May but after being relieved had only been in rest billets at Ventelay for two days when they were ordered forward to Roucy and then to the Aisne line. The Allies had just received information about an impending German attack. On 27th May, the first day of the 3rd Battle of the Aisne, the battalion suffered heavy casualties and Cris, still only aged 18 and who had just been promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal (unpaid) went missing. He was presumed to have been killed in action on or after 27th May 1918.

Cris is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne. He is also remembered on the memorial in All Saints Church, Loughborough, and on the Carillon.
 

Private 18397 Albert Ernest Coulson  MM

 

7th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in action 27th May 1918, Aged 21.

Commemorated Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France.

 

Albert Ernest Coulson was born in late 1896 in Long Whatton. He was the son of James Wilmore Coulson and his wife Annie (née Brooks) who were married at St. Peter's Church, Church Langton, near Market Harborough, on 22nd November 1886. When Albert's parents were married his father was a groom, but he later became a coachman and then a cab driver. Albert had five brothers John, George, Frederick, Walter and Arthur, and four sisters Elizabeth, Lois, Florence and Ruth. Another sibling had died young. In 1901 the Coulson family was living at Whatton House Lodge, Derby Road, Long Whatton, but by 1911 had moved to High Street, Kegworth. Between 1911 and 1915 Albert's parents moved to 12 Shakespeare Street, Loughborough.

Albert enlisted at Loughborough in May 1915 and joined C Coy of the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 18397. His service record has not survived but extant records show that, after preliminary training, he was sent to France on 15th December 1915.

In December 1915 the 7th Leicesters were involved in various trench warfare activities in the area of Arras. The freezing weather of January 1916 made life doubly difficult and in February they were required to take over extra trench areas vacated by the French who were concentrating every effort at the Battle of Verdun. These new trenches eventually included those in front of Bailleulment to the left of existing positions and to the right as far as far as Hannescamps. At the same time the enemy redoubled its efforts in shelling Berles-au-Bois.

When not in the trenches the 7th Leicesters received intensive training in bombing, Lewis gunnery, visual signalling and a host of other activities. In April they were moved to the Doullens area and formed working parties to cut down trees and prepare brushwood for the front line as well as repairing the support trenches in the area. In May they worked on building a new railway line between Le Bret and Bienvillers-au-Bois. Men not building the railway were in the trenches. Towards the end of May the entire battalion returned to the trenches in the Bienvillers-Bailleulmont area.

At the beginning of July 1916 the 7th Battalion moved on to the Somme. They were at Fricourt on 13th July and at Mametz Wood and in the attack on Bazentin-le-Petit on 14th July.

Relieved from Mametz Wood on 16th July the battalion proceeded to Fricourt and then on to Ribbemont. On 20th July they began a three day move by train and route march to Moncheux, and two days later marched on to billets at Beaufort. On 28th July the battalion moved again to Agnez-les-Duisans, near Arras, for company training and on 6th August took over a section of battered trenches there. The companies of the battalion took turns in trench work.

On 4th September the battalion marched to Denier. After ten days training at Denier and Sars-le-Bois the battalion entrained for the Somme on 12th September and bivouacked outside Montauban, north-east of Bernafay Wood. On 25th September they fought very bravely and successfully at Gueudecourt in an action which was part of the Battle of Morval.

On 4th October the battalion entrained once more for the north and the countryside of Loos, taking over positions opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt with rest billets at Mazingarbe, Philosophe, or Vermelles. Training at Cauchy-à-la-Tour and Houtkerque followed from 20th December 1916 until 12th February 1917.

On 13th February the battalion entrained at Proven for Fouquerieul and marched to billets in the tobacco factory in Béthune. Moving on to Labourse they were back in the trenches in the Hohenzollern sector on 15th February, moving up to the front line on 21st February. Breaks from the trenches were taken in Noyelles. In March 1917 the battalion experienced what one soldier called 'the bombardment of our lives'.

On 29th March the battalion entrained at Noyelles for Saulty-L'Arbret and marched to La Cauchie and on to Moyenville. On 4th April the battalion went into the front line at St. Leger Croisilles, with breaks at Moyenville. From 15th to 23rd April the battalion was in training at Bailleulval before returning to the trenches at St. Leger Croisilles. On 28th April the battalion was in action at the Battle of Arleux and on 3rd May in reserve for the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt, moving into the front line on 4th May. From 4th -11th May the battalion suffered from very heavy enemy shelling. From 12th-31st May the battalion was withdrawn for training at Bienvillers. Further training and trench tours followed in the Moyenville area in June, July and August, followed by a break in Hamelincourt.

On 25th and 26th August the battalion marched to Gouy-en-Artois and then Beaufort for training. After a further move to Hauteville for more training and a football tournament and boxing competition, both of which the 7th Leicesters won, on 16th September the battalion entrained at Savy station for Caestre.

On 23rd September the battalion marched to Berthen. On 26th September they moved by bus to Scottish Wood and then to Bedford House as reserve in the forward area. After two days rest at Micmac Camp the battalion was back in the forward area on 29th. The 3rd Battle of Ypres had been raging for two months and the ground was full of water-logged shell holes, which had to be negotiated over duckboards. The 7th Leicesters joined the battle on the night of the 30th September, marching up to Polygon Wood, which had been captured by the Australians. The 9th Leicesters took over positions in the right half of the Polygon sector just outside the wood with the 7th Battalion behind them in support and the 6th Leicesters in reserve.

On 1st October the enemy began a heavy barrage. The Leicesters nevertheless pushed forward. An intense artillery duel followed on 2nd October before the battalion was relieved and marched south-east of Zillebeke Lake to Wiltshire Farm. On 4th October the battalion moved up again to south of Zillebeke Lake, bivouacking there. On the following day they were back in the support line west of Polygon Wood. On 6th October two companies moved up to the front line at Reutel, with the other two companies in support. On 10th October, amid a hostile barrage, the battalion was relieved and moved to Anzac Camp. On the 11th October they entrained at Ouderdom station for Ebblinghem and marched to billets and camp at La Carnois. After four days rest they marched to Les Ciseaux and were taken by bus to dugouts in the railway embankments at Shrapnel Corner. After remaining here until 24th October they moved to B Camp at Chateau Segard for reorganisation and training.

After three days cable laying at Clapham Junction at the beginning of November the battalion returned to B Camp before moving to dugouts on the Zillebeke Bund on 7th November and to the front line on the following day. After returning to A Camp at Chateau Segard on 13th November the battalion moved on to Devonshire Camp in the Reninghelst area and on 17th began a five day transfer by march to Coupigny. On 25th November they moved again to Frevillers for training. On 30th November the battalion received urgent orders to entrain at Savy for Tincourt.

On 1st December 1917 the battalion went into the front and support lines near Tincourt, moving into the support trenches at Epehy on 4th. Back in the front line from the 8th-11th December the battalion installed wiring, improved trenches and dug a new front line. After a break at Villers-Faucon they returned to the front line from 16th-20th. On Christmas Eve the battalion returned to the trenches for four days, but were given their Christmas dinner at Saulcourt on 29th December.

The new year of 1918 began with a four day trench tour, followed by training at Liéramont and Haut Allaines until 19th January. On the 20th the battalion moved to Epehy by light railway and began another trench tour before moving into Brigade Reserve at Saulcourt on 28th. On 4th February the battalion moved into support at Epehy. Relieved on 7th February the battalion moved by light railway to Moislains, where training took place until 18th February. The battalion then moved to B Camp, Templeux la Fosse, and worked on the trenches and railway at Flamincourt. From 24th -28th February the battalion was based at Adrian Camp, Villers-Faucon, for wiring work and trench digging.

In March it became clear that the Germans were planning a Spring Offensive. On the morning of the enemy assault, 21st March 1918, the 7th Battalion was holding the left hand portion of the front between Pezières and Epehy village when it was attacked by German stormtroopers. The battle for Epehy raged all day. On 22nd March the battalion was ordered to retreat towards the old Somme battlefield of 1916, crossing the Peronne Canal to Aizecourt-le-Bas and Feuillaucourt and taking up position on a ridge to the north of Hem.

On 2nd April the battalion marched to Dranoutre and entrained at St. Roch station, Amiens,

having been posted once more to the Ypres Salient. They proceeded by lorry to Monmouthshire Camp, moving on to Butterfly and Leeds Camps, La Clytte, Chipawa and Scottish Wood Camps and arriving at Manawatu Camp on 11th. On 12th April the battalion went into the trenches, holding the front, reserve and support lines until 17th April during the second major German offensive which had opened on the Lys. In spite of a heavy German attack the battalion held out until relieved on 1st May. Having been withdrawn to Oost Houck they marched to Wizernes on 4th May and entrained for Labery where training took place until 12th May.

On 14th May the battalion marched via Prouilly to the trenches west of Hermonville in the valley of the River Aisne. On 27th May the battalion entered the 3rd Battle of the Aisne, begun by the Germans as part of their Spring Offensive. Albert, aged 21, was reported missing and presumed killed in action on 27th May 1918. His body was never found. By the time he died he had been promoted to Acting Sergeant.

Albert is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial, Aisne, and on the Carillon. He was posthumously awarded the Military Medal. Albert's mother received a letter from a Captain and Adjutant of the Regiment informing her that the Corps Commander had been pleased to award the Military Medal to her son, Sergeant A. Coulson, Leicestershire Regiment, and extending the congratulations of the Brigadier and Commanding Officer.
 

Private 12078 Frank Coulson

 

8th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in action 27th November 1915, Aged 23.

Buried Berles-Au-Bois Church Yard Ext. S. 9. 

 

Frank Coulson was born in Litchurch, Derby, circa 1892. He was the only son of John William Coulson, an iron slotter, and his wife Maria (née Reeve) who were married in 1891. In 1901 the family, which now also included a daughter Annie, lived at 6 Buckhorn Square, Loughborough, and by 1911 had moved to 93 Russell Street. In 1911 Frank, aged 19 was a wood polisher in an engineering car works. Frank's parents and sister later moved to Freehold Street.

In August 1914 Frank was working in London, but when war broke out he returned to Loughborough and enlisted on 1st September. He had previously served with the 1/5th Battalion (Territorials) of the Leicestershire Regiment. This time he joined the 8th (Service) Battalion as Private 12078. This battalion was formed at Leicester in September 1914 as part of Kitchener's Army and attached as Army Troops to 23rd Division. In April 1915 it was transferred to 110th Brigade, 37th Division which then concentrated at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain. On 25th June the units were inspected by King George V at Sidbury Hill. On 22nd July 1915 the Division began to cross the English Channel, Frank being sent on 29th July, and by 2nd August all units were assembled near Tilques, not far from St. Omer.

From August to November 1915 Frank's battalion was involved in operations in Bailleul, Le Bizet, Armentières, Mondicourt, Beauval and Berles-au-Bois. Frank was killed in action on 27th November 1915 and is buried in Berles-au-Bois Churchyard Extension Grave S.9. Frank is remembered on the All Saints with Holy Trinity Memorial, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

A newspaper report of his death ran as follows:

"Private Frank Coulson was working in London when war broke out, and came home to join the Kitchener's Leicesters. A strong young fellow, he was well known for his cleverness with the gloves, and as "China" Coulson had gained notice beyond his own neighbourhood in the boxing world. Mr. and Mrs. fon received a letter from the Chaplain to the Battalion, the Rev. F. P. Woolcombe, who says 'I have been asked to express to you the sympathy of the 8th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. Everybody liked your son, and everybody feels for you in your sad bereavement. You will be glad to hear he suffered no pain, but passed peacefully away. I buried him this afternoon with full military honours in our little military cemetery here. The cross has already been made for the grave, and the men are now inscribing his name on it. We shall have a special prayer for him at our service tomorrow, and I shall pray daily that you and yours [receive] all consoling comfort in your great sorrow.' One of the dead man's comrades, Cpl. Bowler, writes how all the section "regret the loss of a comrade who was always true and a good soldier, one who feared nothing, and always did his duty. His was doing his duty on sentry when taken from us. I cannot express how deeply we mourn the loss of such a comrade."

Private 40447 Herbert Hart Court

 

6th Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment.

Formerly 25640 Leicestershire Regiment

Killed in Action 10th August 1917, Aged 30.

Commemorated Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, panels 43 and 45. 

 

Herbert Hart Court was born at 7A Park Street, Loughborough, in late 1886 or early 1887. He was the son of Edwin Albert Court and his wife Catherine (née Hart) who were married at the General Baptist Chapel in Baxter Gate, Loughborough, on 9th October 1877. When Herbert was born his father was a commercial traveller in the timber trade but by 1901 he had become a timber, slate and builders' merchant. Herbert had two brothers Albert and Arnold and two sisters Edith and Eveline. Herbert attended the Baptist Church Sunday School and in 1911 was a commercial clerk in the building trade.

Herbert appears to have enlisted in late 1915. He initially joined the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 25640 but was transferred to A Coy of the 6th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment sometime in late 1916. More precise details of his enlistment, transfer, and arrival in France are unavailable as his service record has not survived. The 6th Northants Battalion, however, received drafts of reinforcements in September and October 1916 and also in June 1917 and Herbert could have been in any one of these three drafts.

On 26th September 1916 the 6th Battalion took part in the capture of Thiepval, following which, on 3rd October, they entrained at Belle-Eglise and Acheux for Candas and marched to Berneuil. After ten days instruction they moved via Beauval and Warloy to Bouzincourt and then Albert. Several trench tours followed, with breaks at Warloy, Albert and Ovillers. On 22nd November they began a five-day march to Neufmoulin for refitting, drill and more training. Between 14th December 1916 and 11th January 1917 the battalion was at Canchy for training in bombing, signalling and bayonet fighting.

On 11th January 1917 the battalion left for Rubempré where they went into the line on 15th. This was followed by working parties organised from Warwick, Gloucester and McKenzie Huts before the battalion took over part of the battle front on 15th February as part of the Operations on the Ancre. On 17th February the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment was the right hand assault battalion at Boom Ravine, near Miraumont, with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on their left. Whilst forming up before dawn, the two battalions were bombarded by German artillery and suffered many casualties.

After being withdrawn to Bouzincourt the battalion transferred to dug-outs and tents in Thiepval Wood. From here they provided working parties for the Grandcourt-Miraumont Road and practised attacks. On 13th March the battalion began pushing the line forward to Bihoucourt, Ervillers and St. Leger but Croisilles was too firmly occupied to allow any further advance. Between 22nd and 28th March they transferred by bus, train and on foot to Thiennes and later to Manqueville for training until 26th April. Returning by train to Arras on 27th April the battalion marched to Neuville-Vitasse and two days later went into the trenches west of Chérisy.

On 3rd May 1917 the battalion took part in the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe, incurring 120 casualties. On 12th May the battalion marched to bivouacs north of Hénin for training and night working parties. Returning to the Chérisy trenches on 2nd June the battalion captured an enemy trench on the following day. Night bombardment of the enemy resulted in retaliatory action with Minenwerfers. In mid-June the battalion marched to Warlincourt where training took place until 4th July.

After Warlincourt the battalion moved to Flanders, arriving at Canal Reserve Camp north-west of Dickenbusch on 6th July. The remainder of July was taken up with training at Dallington Camp, Whippenhoek, at Steenvoorde, and at Micmac and Canal Reserve Camps. On 3rd August, in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, the battalion was sent into the line, suffering heavy shelling and bombardment. On 10th August the men were again ordered to attack and 50 Ordinary Ranks were killed and 40 were wounded. Herbert, aged 30, was one of those killed. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, panels 43 and 45, and on the Baxtergate Baptist Church Memorial as well as on the Carillon.

Herbert's brother Arnold served with the Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Engineers and survived the war.
 

 

Lance Corporal B/3429 Edwin Francis Cowley

 

7th Bn, Rifle Brigade. (The Prince Consort's Own).

Killed in Action 4th October 1915, Aged 23.

Commemorated Ypres (Menin Gate) panel 46 - 48 & 50. 

 

Edwin Francis Cowley was born in 1894 in Winshill, Staffordshire. He was the son of Arthur Cowley, a sawyer of English and foreign wood, and his wife Phoebe Elizabeth Cowley (née Rickard), a dressmaker, who were married at Winshill on Christmas Day, 1890. Edwin had two brothers Joseph and Albert, and two sisters Doris and Margaret. In 1901 the family were living at 114 Ferry Street, Stapenhill, Burton on Trent, and by 1911 had moved to 144, Victoria Street, Burton on Trent. By 1919 they had moved again to 296 Goodman Street, Burton on Trent.

Edwin and his brother Joseph both enlisted at Burton on Trent on 1st September 1914 and both joined the Rifle Brigade (the King's Royal Rifles), Edwin as Private B3429 in the 8th (Service) Battalion. Edwin was posted on 4th September to Winchester and then to Aldershot.

On 18th May 1915 Edwin was sent to Boulogne. (His brother Joseph was sent to France two days later). A move to the fighting front was delayed by lack of rifle and artillery ammunition, but on 30th and 31st July the battalion was in action at Hooge where it had the misfortune to be the first to be attacked by liquid fire flamethrowers. This was followed by intensive hand to hand fighting in the trenches, a further flamethrower attack and heavy shellfire.

On 16th August 1915 Edwin was promoted to a Lance Corporal and at some point was transferred to the 7th Rifle Brigade (the Prince Consort's Own).

Edwin's battalion was also involved in the Second Attack on Bellewaarde on 25th September. The attack on the German trenches in the vicinity of Hooge and Bellewaarde Lake was designed to distract enemy attention from the operation al Loos, away to the southward and to contain the enemy's reserves. There was a steady downpour the night before and the men spent a miserable night in their wet clothes waiting for dawn. Despite the efforts of the Allies' troops the attack failed.

Edwin was killed in action near Ypres on 4th October 1915, aged 23. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Panel 46-48, and 50. After his death Edwin's property was returned to his widow and it included a pipe, a chess game, photos, a crucifix and a horseshoe. His brother Joseph survived the war, the latter part of which he was with the Machine Gun Corps.

Edwin had married Agnes Annie Mabel King, known as 'Mabel', in Loughborough in early 1915 and their son Edward Patrick Cowley was born shortly afterwards on 17th March at 4 Caldwell Street, Loughborough. Edwin's widow Mabel was remarried in 1924 in Loughborough to Albert Edward Dakin.
 

 

Private 87501 Joseph Cross

 

59th Coy, Machine Gun Corps.

Previously served as 33895 Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action on 20th/21st June 1917, Aged 19.

Buried Noreuil Australian Cemetery E. I. 

 

Joseph Cross was born in Carlton, Nottinghamshire, in 1898. He was the son of Arthur Cross and his wife Annie (née Goodacre) who were married at All Saints Parish Church, Loughborough, on 26th April 1886. Joseph's father was a butcher with a business in Carlton and in 1901 the family home was in Station Road, Carlton. By 1911 the Cross family had moved to 4 Manor Road, Carlton. Between 1911 and 1916 the family relocated to Loughborough, firstly to Knightthorpe Road and then to 21 Cambridge Street. Joseph had one brother Arthur and five sisters Florence, Hilda, Ada, Mabel and Ethel.

Joseph was a tool machinist and he enlisted in Loughborough on 6th May 1916. Initially assigned to the Army Reserve he was sent to the Leicestershire Regiment Depot on 2nd January 1917. As Private 33895 he was sent for training with the 2nd Battalion, was quickly transferred to the Reserve Battalion on 5th January and mobilised on 12th January. On 4th March 1917 he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps as Private 87501. He embarked at Folkestone for Boulogne on 14th May 1917 and joined his Brigade at Camiers, near the coast just north of Etaples, on 15th May. He was sent to join the 59th Company of the Machine Gun Corps in the field on 27th May. At the time the 59th Company was taking part in the actions on the Hindenburg Line. Just over five weeks later on the night of 20th/21st June 1917 Joseph was killed in action, aged 19.

Joseph was buried in Noreuil Australian Cemetery, north-east of Bapaume, Grave E. 1.

Joseph is commemorated on the Nottinghamshire Great War Roll of Honour, on the war memorial in St. Mary and All Saints Church, Willoughby on the Wolds, Nottinghamshire (where both his parents were born), and on the Carillon.




War Memorial, St. Mary and All Saints Church, Willoughby on the Wolds

Lance Corporal 1212 Patrick William Cullen

 

South Nottinghamshire Hussars.

Killed in Action Gallipoli 23rd September 1915, Aged 30.

Commemorated Helles Memorial Turkey panel 16. 

 

Patrick George Moore William Mock Cullen was born in 1885 in Landkey, Devon, and baptised at St. Gregory's Church, Goodleigh, on 29th May 1887. His father, Patrick George Mazier Cullen, was Irish and his mother, Bessie Selina Elizabeth Alexandra Mock, came from North Devon and they were married at Goodleigh on 13th November 1879.

Unlike his older sister Barbara, Patrick Junior never knew his father. Patrick Senior had died in 1884, aged only 30, in an accident at Goodleigh while riding a pony with a broken stirrup iron. At the time Patrick Senior had been a representative for Singer's sewing machine company, but he had previously served with the Metropolitan Police Force and the Devon Constabulary.

Patrick Junior's mother had formerly been a governess but after her husband died she returned with her two children to live with her mother Mary Mock at Landkey and earned her living as a fancy worker.

By 1901 both Patrick Junior and Barbara had left home. When Mary Mock died in 1911 Bessie Cullen appears to have moved to be with her son in Loughborough. They lived in Knightthorpe Road, and Patrick was the manager of Messrs. J. English's meat shop in Biggin Street, next to Pickworth and Sons.

Patrick enlisted at Nottingham in late September 1914 and was appointed a Lance Corporal in the 1/1 South Notts Hussars Yeomanry. He joined the Hussars (part of the 2nd Mounted Yeomanry Division) in South Stoke, Oxfordshire, and in November 1914 moved with them to Norfolk, where they were assigned to defend the coast. The South Notts Hussars, along with the Sherwood Rangers and the Derbyshire Yeomanry formed the Notts and Derby Mounted Brigade which sailed from Avonmouth for service in Egypt on 9th April 1915. On arrival at Alexandria on 24th April the Brigade was dismounted and moved to Abbassia Barracks, Cairo.

They returned to Alexandria on the 14th August and sailed, as infantry, for Lemnos, arriving at Mudros on the 17th. After changing ships they moved on to Gallipoli, landing at 'A' Beach, Suvla Bay on the night of the 17th/18th August. From there they moved into reserve positions at Lala Baba near the beach on the night of 20th August, and across the bed of a dry salt lake to a forward position at Chocolate Hill the next day. Because of the clouds of mist and smoke in the air they had little idea of where they were going and were easy targets for the shrapnel.

They then took part in the right flank of the attack on Hill 112. Having had no infantry training they went into battle completely unprepared for what they did. To manoeuvre the troops they used cavalry drill which made their assault on Scimitar Hill on 21st August even more remarkable. The attack at Scimitar Hill was the last attempt by the British to advance at Suvla. The front line remained between Green Hill and Scimitar Hill for the remainder of the campaign until the evacuation from Gallipoli on the 20th December.

Patrick was killed in action on 23rd September 1915 and his body was never found. Like his father he was aged 30 when he died. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey, on the war memorial at Landkey, North Devon, and on the Loughborough Carillon.
 

Lance Sergeant 13992 Robert Cullen

 

8th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 15th July 1916, Aged 35. 

Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, pier & face 2 C & 3 A.

 

Robert Cullen was born in Smethwick, Staffordshire, in 1880, the son of Robert Cullen (Senior) a blacksmith and his wife Louisa (née Clarke). Robert Cullen (Senior) and his wife were married at St. John's Church, Cinderford, Forest of Dean on 9th December 1866.

Robert Cullen (Junior) had one brother Thomas and two sisters Annie and Gertrude and he and his siblings grew up in Lancaster. In 1881 the family lived in Earl Street there and in 1891 were at 78 Derby Road, Lancaster. Robert Cullen (Senior) and Louisa later moved to Harcourt Street, York, where Louisa was a provision dealer. They subsequently moved again to 21 Leeds Road and then 5 Mornington Road, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Robert and Louisa also lived for a time during the First World War at 41 Empress Road, Loughborough - Robert Junior's sister Annie had settled in Loughborough at 12 Clarence Street and then 35 Queen's Road, Loughborough, after her marriage to William Herbert Hutchings in 1891.

By 1901 Robert (Junior) had left home and was employed as a railway carriage builder in Lancaster where he boarded at 70 Derby Road. He then moved to Loughborough where he had obtained work as a car builder with the Brush Electrical Engineering Company.

Robert (Junior) enlisted at Loughborough on 5th September 1914. He joined the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 13992. On 24th September 1914 he was sent to Aldershot and in January 1915 he was promoted to Lance Corporal (paid). He moved to Shorncliffe Camp near Cheriton in Kent at the end of February 1915. In April 1915 Robert was promoted to Corporal and his battalion became part of the newly established 37th Division of Kitchener's 2nd New Army and the Division began to concentrate on Salisbury Plain. On 25th June the units were inspected by King George V at Sidbury Hill. On 22nd July the Division began to cross the English Channel and Robert travelled to France on 29th July 1915. Initially the 37th Division concentrated near Tilques.

The 8th Battalion then moved via Watten, Houlie, St. Omer, Eecke and Dranoutre to Wulverghem and Berles-au-Bois, a short distance from the front line. Robert was promoted on 4th October 1915 to Corporal and four weeks later to Lance Sergeant. In the months that followed the 8th Battalion did tours in the trenches, alternating with the 6th Leicesters who relieved them. They were Involved in operations in Bailleul, Le Bizet, Armentières, Mondicourt, Beauval and Berles-au-Bois. In April 1916 the battalion moved to the Doullens area for six weeks for cleaning up, resting and training. In mid-May they returned once more to the trenches in the Bienvillers-Bailleulmont sector, but nearer Gommecourt. In June there was a series of nightly excursions into No-Man's Land with patrols attempting to gather information on the enemy's dispositions. On other occasions there were working parties out repairing the British barbed wire entanglements. The situation became increasingly hazardous as the month wore on when the Germans began to use a new and more accurate type of trench mortar.

The 8th Battalion did not participate in the first days of the Somme Offensive but was held in reserve. On 6th July they left billets at Humbercamps and marched to Talmas, continuing on the following day to billets in Soues. On 10th July the battalion marched to Ailly-sur-Somme, entrained for Méricourt and travelled from there by lorry to bivouacs in Méaulte. Between 10th and 13th July the battalion was in the trenches near Fricourt and subjected to fairly continuous enemy fire. On 14th and 15th July the battalion advanced on Bazentin Le Petit Wood. During this operation Robert, aged 35, was killed in action on 15th July 1916.

Robert is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 2C and 3A and on the Memorial from the Brush Electrical Engineering Company (in the Carillon Museum) as well as on the Carillon War Memorial.

Private 9907 Arthur Cunningham

 

2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 27th April 1915, Aged 19. 

Buried Le Touret Military Richebourg-L'Avoue I. D. 28.

 

Arthur Cunningham, born in 1897 in Loughborough, was the eldest son of Arthur Cunningham, a bricklayer's labourer, and his wife Sarah, of 4 Salmon Street, Loughborough. He had three sisters Lizzie, Sarah and Mary, and two brothers Fred and Edward. Arthur, who was an ostler, enlisted in June 1914.

Arthur arrived in France on 12th November 1914 and joined the 2nd Leicesters who were fighting with the Indian Corps. After the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th - 13th March 1915) the 2nd Leicesters spent a couple of months alternately in the Trenches or in billets while war training, in the area of Calonne and Vieille Chapelle north-east of Bethune. Arthur, like so many others, appears to have been a victim of trench warfare.

Private 17732 Arthur Cunningham

 

2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action Mesopotamia 7th January 1917, Aged 27.

Buried Amara War Cemetery Iraq XVI. E. 8.

 

Arthur Cunningham was born in Loughborough in 1889. He was the second son of William Cunningham, a bricklayer's labourer, and his wife Fanny Marie (née Godbold) who were married in the Barrow on Soar Registration area in 1888. Arthur had three brothers George, Wilfred and Percy and two sisters Elsie and Agnes. Three other siblings had died as infants. In 1891 the Cunningham family lived at 5 Court B, Dead Lane, Loughborough, but by 1901 had moved to 4 Court A, Church Gate, and in 1911 were living at 121 Station Street. In 1911 Arthur, aged 21, was a van driver for the Loughborough Central Laundry and that same year he married Florence Deakin at Burton-upon-Trent Register Office. Arthur and Florence's only child, a daughter Phyllis was born in Loughborough the following year and the young couple subsequently settled at Woodville, Derbyshire, just east of Swadlincote. When Arthur enlisted his wife and daughter moved to the Spread Eagle Inn, Eggington, Derby.

Arthur's service record had not survived but it is known that he enlisted in Burton-upon-Trent sometime in late 1914 or early 1915. As Private 17732 he was sent to Rouen, France, to the 29th Infantry Base Depot on 4th October 1915. From there on 7th October he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. The 2nd Leicesters had just been fighting at the Battle of Loos with the Indian Corps, where they had been decimated and were now in urgent need of reinforcements.

In November Arthur's battalion was ordered to the Persian Gulf where Britain was fighting Turkish forces allied to the Germans. On 5th December 1915 Arthur embarked at Marseilles and arrived at Basra on 31st December 1915. From there he travelled by boat up the River Tigris to Ali Gharbi, 150 miles south-east of Baghdad where his battalion joined the Tigris Corps under General Aylmer.

In January 1916 General Townshend and his troops had been besieged at Kut-al-Amara since mid-December and three unsuccessful attempts were made to break the siege. Battles took place at Sheikh Sa'ad, the Wadi and Hanna resulting in many casualties. A further attack at Dujaila Redoubt in March failed.

In April 1916 No. 30 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps carried out the first air supply operation in history. Food and ammunition were dropped to the defenders of Kut, but unfortunately their parcels often fell into the Tigris or into the Turkish trenches. On 5th April a battle began for Fallahiyeh which the British soon captured but with heavy losses. Beit Asia was taken on 17th April. A final effort against Sannaiyat was made on 22nd April but this was unsuccessful and the Allies suffered about 1,200 casualties in the process. During the remainder of April other attempts were made to dislodge the enemy from their position at Sannaiyat but without any success. All attempts to relieve Kut failed and on 29th April 1916 General Townshend was forced to surrender to the Ottomans at Kut.

The surrender at Kut was a severe blow to British prestige and morale and the troops were exhausted by their efforts. The Tigris Corps nevertheless still maintained a close watch on the Turks in the areas of Sannaiyat and Beit Isa. In mid-May it became apparent that the enemy had withdrawn from Es Sinn and the British were able to occupy the Dujaila Redoubt. The intense heat in June, however, caused a heavy toll from sickness and disease among the troops.

As the heat lessened in September and October the enemy raised its activities in sniping and bombing from the right bank of the Tigris. In December the Tigris Corps began a long offensive operation with the purpose of dislodging the enemy from the right bank position and severing the enemy's communication channels. During this operation, on 7th January 1917, Arthur was killed in action, aged 27.

Arthur is buried Amara War Cemetery, Iraq, Grave XVI. E. 8. In 1933 the grave headstones were removed after it was found that they were being damaged by salts in the soil and a memorial wall erected instead with the names of the dead engraved upon plaques. Arthur is remembered on the Swadlincote War Memorial, Eureka Park, Midland Road, Swadlincote, as well as on the Carillon.

Arthur's brother Wilfred enlisted on 1st September 1914 but was discharged three months later on account of myopia. In 1921 Arthur's widow Florence was remarried to Walter E. Tilley in Burton-upon-Trent.




Swadlincote War Memorial


Amara War Cemetery. 
In 1933, all of the headstones were removed from this cemetery when it was discovered that salts in the soil were causing them to deteriorate.   Instead a screen wall was erected with the names of those buried in the cemetery engraved upon it.

Gunner 32236 P. Cunningham

 

404th Bty 221st Bde. Royal Field Artillery.

Died Basra 27th May 1919, Aged 23.

Buried Basra War Cemetery Iraq II. A. 18. 

 

 

Private 12090 Harry Cunnington

 

2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 10th March 1915.

Commemorated Le Touret Memorial, panel 11.                

 

 

 Harry left a wife and three children who lived at 11 Queen Street Loughborough.

Private 1122 Frank Joseph Cuthbertson

 

D Coy. 22nd Bn, Royal Fusiliers.

Killed in Action 28th July 1916, Aged 25. 

Commemorated Thiepval Memorial pier & face 8C, 9A and 16A.

 

Frank Joseph Cuthbertson was born in 1891 in Little Ilford, Essex, the son of John Hubert Cuthbertson, draper, and Elizabeth Louise Cuthbertson (née Hubert) who were married in Lambeth on 27 August 1884. In 1891 the Cuthbertson family lived at 14 Romford Rd, Little Ilford, but by 1911 they were living at Trainsville, Duncombe Hill, Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Kent and Frank's father was described as an 'Agent for railway material'. Frank's parents later moved to 50 Mayow Road, Sydenham. Frank had two brothers John and Cecil and one sister Mabel. By the time he enlisted Frank was engaged to Miss Maud Christine Goddard, known as 'Chrissie', of 3, Burleigh Rd, Loughborough.

Frank enlisted at Shepherds Bush, London, and joined 'D' Coy, 22nd (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (also known as the City of London Regiment) as Private 1122. Frank's battalion was formed at White City on 11 September 1914 by the Mayor and Borough of Kensington and was known as the Kensington Battalion. Training commenced at White City before moving to Roffey Camp, near Horsham, Sussex, in October 1914. In June 1915 the battalion came under the command of the Army's 33rd Division and in July moved to Clipstone Camp near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, before going to Tidworth, Salisbury Plain, for final training and firing practice in August.

Frank was sent to France on 16 November 1915. On 25th November 1915 Frank's battalion was transferred to the Army's 2nd Division and went into the trenches at Béthune. From Béthune the battalion moved to Cantraine and then Beuvry, where the men spent Christmas in the trenches. In late December they moved north-west to Annezin, near Béthune. From January to May 1916 the battalion operated in the area of Festubert, Souchez, Bruay and Ourton doing trench tours, training and resting. On 22nd May 1916 they moved to the front line trenches at Talus des Zouaves in the area of Vimy Ridge. In June they were in front line trenches at Carency with rest billets in Villers au Bois.

At the beginning of July 1916 at the start of the Somme Offensive Frank's battalion was in the trenches at Berthonval, near Vimy. On 9th July the men were relieved by the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment and proceeded to Camblain-l'Abbé, nine miles north-west of Arras until the 13th July when they returned to Berthonval. By 24th July they were in trenches at Montauban and subjected to night gas shelling from the enemy.

On 27th July Frank's battalion was called upon to be part of a second attack on Delville Wood which was held by the enemy and overlooked British positions. Frank survived the successful attack and capture of Delville Wood but was killed in action on the following day in nearby trenches, aged 25. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and face 8C, 9A and 16A.

Frank's fiancée Chrissie Goddard never married and died in Loughborough in 1981.
 

Private 57454 Harry Cutts

 

1/5th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Died of Wounds 23rd July 1918, Aged 19.

Buried Bertrancourt Military Cemetery Somme, Plot 2, Row E, 32. 

 

Harry Cutts was born in Loughborough in 1899. He was the son of Hezekiah Cutts and his wife Jane (née Lester) who were married at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, on 28th February 1886. Hezekiah and Jane had eleven children of whom only three survived to adulthood. One of their daughters Elizabeth was tragically burnt to death in 1893 when her crade caught fire while her mother was visiting a neighbour. Harry had one brother Herbert and one sister Ethel. The Cutts family lived at 48 Ashby Road. After Harry's father died, aged 38, in 1900 Harry's mother became a hosiery seamer, working from home. Ten years later she had become a wardrobe dealer.

Harry enlisted in 1917 as soon as he was eighteen. He joined the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers as Private 57454. The exact date of his enlistment and when he was sent to France are unknown as his service papers have not survived. The war diary of the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, however, notes that the battalion received a draft of reinforcements on 29th November 1917 and it is very likely that Harry was in this draft.

On 29th November 1917 the battalion was at Le preol, a small hamlet just east of Béthune, in reserve and training. The battalion remained in reserve until 4th December when they went into the front line trenches at Cambrin. Relieved on 10Th December the battalion moved to billets at Beuvry where training was continued until 21st December. Between 22nd December 1917 and 4th January 1918 the battalion was in support in the area of La Bassée, providing working parties and also in the front line trenches at Givenchy. At Givenchy the battalion's headquarters was heavily bombarded with mustard gas and more than a few officers became casualties.

After a four-day break at Gorre Chateau where the men continued training and also provided working parties for the Royal Engineers the battalion returned to the front line trenches where, amid heavy snow, the men worked on improving the trenches, revetting, duckboarding and wiring. From 17th-28th January the battalion was in the Hingette area and during this time completed work at Gorre and loaded coal at Rivage Mines de Bruay. From 29th January until 8th February the battalion was in support on working parties in the Cuinchy sector and doing the same from 8th-13th February in reserve positions in Le Preol.

On 14th February the battalion marched to a rest camp in Houchin where they remained until 23rd March, training. The German Spring Offensive began on 21st March and within two days the battalion was drawn into the action. Having been ordered to march to La Bussière on the Béthune road north-west of Ayette and then to Logeast Wood the battalion was ordered to take up a line from Ervillers to Sapignies. The battalion managed to hold this line until the night of the 25th when the enemy massed in front of Mory and advanced under a smokescreen and barrage of bombs mixed with gas shells. Outflanked by the enemy the battalion was ordered to withdraw to Gomiecourt Ridge. The battalion suffered 245 casualties.

From then on until the end of March the battalion took up a line from Bucquoy to Ablainzevelle and repulsed several enemy attacks despite heavy enemy shelling. During the first week of April, while in Brigade reserve at Bucquoy the battalion was involved in another counter-attack in the Battle of the Ancre during which progress was held up by enemy machine gun fire and enemy snipers.

On 8th April the battalion marched to Souastre and was taken by bus to Vauchelles for cleaning up and inspections. One day was also spent at Warnimont Wood for trfaining in musketry and Lewis gun firing. Two trench tours followed - a ten-day tour at Gommecourt and then a much shorter tour, with a break in-between at Coigneux.

From 6th May to 7th June the battalion was in a camp in woods near Couin, training and forming working parties. From 7th-13th June they were in Brigade reserve and spent the time improving positions. From 14th June the battalion was in the front line for seventeen days where they were repeatedly shelled by the enemy and on the receiving end of a mustard gas attack. After this the battalion had an eight-day break in Bus Woods before returning to the line in support.

On 18th July the battalion moved up to the front line where they were repeatedly shelled. Attempts were made to establish several forward posts but these were unsuccessfiul. At some point, the precise date being unknown, Harry was wounded and he died of his wounds, aged 19, on 23rd July 1918.

Harry was buried in Bertrancourt Military Cemetery, Somme, Plot 2, Row E, Grave 32. He is remembered on the memorial at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, and on the Carillon.
 

Corporal 13999 Percy Godfrey Dakin M.M.

 

C Coy 8th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in action 25th September 1916, Aged 29.

Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, pier 2 C 3 A

                    

 
Percy Godfrey Dakin was born in Loughborough in 1887, the second son of John Dakin, a barge boatman, and his wife Jane (née Veasey). Percy's parents were married in Loughborough in 1884 and in 1891 were living at 17 Pinfold Street. Jane's mother Elizabeth Clarke and her step-father John Clarke were also living with the family. By 1901 the family had moved to 28 Falcon Street and by 1911 to 58 Cobden Street. By 1917 the family had moved again to 19 Cobden Street.

In 1911 Percy's father had changed occupation from boatman to engine driver in a hosiery works and Percy, aged 23, was a drilling machinist for the Brush Company. Percy had five brothers John, Albert, James, Ernest and Alfred and two sisters Jane and Mabel.

Percy enlisted in Loughborough on 5th September 1914 and joined C Coy of the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 13999. From the Depot he was sent firstly to Aldershot for training. He moved to Shorncliffe in Kent at the end of February 1915. In April 1915 Percy's battalion became part of the newly established 37th Division of Kitchener's 2nd New Army and the Division began to concentrate on Salisbury Plain. On 25th June the units were inspected by King George V at Sidbury Hill. On 22nd July the Division began to cross the English Channel and Walter travelled to France on 29th July 1915. Initially the 37th Division concentrated near Tilques.

The 8th Battalion then moved via Watten, Houlie, St. Omer, Eecke and Dranoutre to Wulverghem and Berles-au-Bois, a short distance from the front line. In the months that followed the 8th Battalion did tours in the trenches, alternating with the 6th Leicesters who relieved them. They were Involved in operations in Bailleul, Le Bizet, Armentières, Mondicourt, Beauval and Berles-au-Bois. On 2nd October 1915 Percy was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal (unpaid), a position confirmed with pay on 14th June 1916.

In April 1916 Percy had moved with the 8th Leicesters to the Doullens area for six weeks cleaning up, resting and training. In mid-May they returned once more to the trenches in the Bienvillers-Bailleulmont sector, but nearer Gommecourt. In June there was a series of nightly excursions into No-Man's Land with patrols attempting to gather information on the enemy's dispositions. On other occasions there were working parties out repairing the British barbed wire entanglements. The situation became increasingly hazardous as the month wore on when the Germans began to use a new and more accurate type of trench mortar.

The 8th Battalion did not participate in the first days of the Somme Offensive but was held in reserve and on 2nd July Percy was promoted to Acting Corporal. On 6th July Percy's battalion left billets at Humbercamps and marched to Talmas, continuing on the following day to billets in Soues. On 10th July the battalion marched to Ailly-sur-Somme, entrained for Méricourt and travelled from there by lorry to bivouacs in Méaulte. Between 10th and 13th July the battalion was in the trenches near Fricourt and subjected to fairly continuous enemy fire.

On the 14th July the battalion was in action at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. After the battle the battalion withdrew to Ribemont and then to Méricourt, and having entrained for Saleux, marched to Soues. From Soues the battalion moved to Longeau, Gouy-en-Ternois, Lattre St. Quentin and then to Arras where they went into the trenches on 29th July. Casualty figures for the battalion in July had been high: 17 officers and 415 other ranks had been killed, wounded or were missing.

The battalion went into Divisional Reserve at Agnez-les-Ouisans on 8th August but went back into the trenches at Arras on 18th August where they were on the receiving end of trench mortar bombs and heavy shells until 2nd September. They were relieved on 2nd September and marched to Duisans and on the following day proceeded to Lignereuil. On 13th September they marched to Frevent and entrained for Dernancourt. On 15th they reached a point between Fricourt and Méaulte before proceeding to Trônes Wood on 16th.

From 17th-23rd September the battalion was in reserve and supporting the troops in the front line by providing carrying parties. In the evening of 24th September the battalion marched up to take their position ready for an attack but before they reached this point the men were heavily shelled by the enemy. Just after midday on 25th September the 8th Leicesters launched a successful attack in waves on the right of Flers and then pressed on to Gueudecourt, Considerable losses, however, were suffered in this action.

Percy was killed in action on 25th September, aged 29. The news of his death was received in a letter from the Lieutenant of Corporal Dakin's Company, who wrote that he met his death when the battalion charged and took an important position, he being shot through the head and death was instantaneous. He was doing his duty nobly, and the officer personally mourned his loss as he was a most useful and efficient N.C.O.

Percy was awarded the Military Medal for his courage and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 2C and 3A, on the memorial at All Saints Church, Loughborough, and on the Brush Company Memorial (in the Carillon War Memorial Museum) as well as on the Carillon.

Two of Percy's brothers also enlisted, one of whom was wounded, and the other discharged from the army as medically unfit.

Private 11013 Horace Henry Dalby

 

1st Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 15th September 1916, Aged about 21? 

Commemorated Thiepval Memorial, pier & face 2 C  & 3 A..

 

The parentage of Horace Henry Dalby is uncertain and military sources vary when giving his age. One source implies that he was born in 1890, others that he was born in 1895. Supposedly born in Leicester he was the foster son of a Mrs. Mary Ann Fletcher of 21 Factory Street, Loughborough, whose background is also unknown.

According to a newspaper report of his death Horace had previously worked at William Morris's Empress Works in Loughborough and was a member of the Emmanuel Church Bible Class in Loughborough. His Army attestation paper gives his occupation as 'casual labourer' but another Army record states that before enlisting he was a collier.

Whoever Horace Henry Dalby really was he attested in Loughborough on 29th August 1912, signing up for six years' service with the Army. He joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 11013 and began training as a recruit. He also completed one month's training in musketry in 1913 and was mobilised on 5th August 1914 when war broke out. He was initially sent to Portsmouth.

On 9th November 1914 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment who had just arrived from Ranikhet, India to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. Horace arrived in France on 10th November and joined his battalion who were repairing trenches in the area of Givenchy, Festubert and Richebourg l'Avoué. On 23rd November the battalion was ordered to proceed to Gorre in the Pas de Calais where reinforcements were needed to hold back a German advance.

Horace remained in France until 15th January 1915 when he was posted back home to the Depot in Leicester. On 13th February rejoined the 3rd Leicesters but only until 7th April when he was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Leicesters and returned to Rouen in France. He joined the 1st Battalion on 10th April. At the time the 1st battalion was alternating trench tours in the area of Rue du Bois with breaks in billets in Armentières.

In late May the battalion was ordered to move north to the Ypres Salient where they relieved the 1st Hampshire Regiment on the Wieltje-Ypres Road-Roosebeke Road and heavy casualties almost at once began to be incurred. On 26th June 1915 at Ypres Horace received a gunshot wound to his head and considerable damage was done to his right eye by the bursting of shrapnel. He was admitted to No.18 Field Ambulance, then to No.13 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne and sent home to England on 5th July. A medical board in London on 21st July recommended that Horace was no longer fit for foreign service but was capable of service at home. He was posted to the Depot and then to the 3rd Leicesters on 27th August.

Horace remained at home with the 3rd Leicesters until 13th April 1916 when he was again posted to the 1st Leicesters in France despite the results of the previous medical review. During April and June 1916 he was sent to hospital in Rouen and Le Havre three times but finally joined the 1st Battalion on 16th June on the Ypres Salient.

On 1st August 1916 the battalion left the trenches at Potizje and entrained at Proven for France. They reached billets at Lealvillers, Somme, on 4th August and on the following day marched to camp in Mailly-Maillet Wood. A period of training and working parties followed. On 14th August they went into the trenches opposite Beaumont-Hamel, where they remained until 19th when they returned to the Mailly Wood camp. On 27th August they left for Flesselles. Here additional training took place. On 8th September they occupied former German trenches in the area of Trônes Wood on the northern slope of the Montaubon Ridge while in the following days the build-up for a major battle took place.

Horace was killed in action on the 15th September, the first day of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. He was probably about 21 years old.

Horace is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 2C and 3A.
 

Private 240539 William Dalby

 

1/5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 16th June 1917, Aged 26.

Buried Loos British Cemetery, XIX. C. 12 

 

William Dalby was born in 1891 in Loughborough and baptised at All Saints Parish Church on 24th August 1892. He was the son of Thomas Dalby and his wife Jane Ann (née Clark) who were married on 13th November 1877 at St. Peter's Church, Mountsorrel. William's father was a carpenter and joiner. William had two brothers Thomas and Arthur and three sisters Gertrude, Jessie and Florence. The family lived at 11 Shakespeare Street, Loughborough, in 1891, moved to 32 Howard Street by 1901 and then back to 6 Shakespeare Street by 1911. In 1911 William, aged 19, was a plumber.

William joined the 1/5th Leicestershire Regiment as Private 2384 and was renumbered in 1917 as Private 240539. His exact date on enlistment is not known as his service papers have not survived. After mobilization in 1914 and a training period in Luton William's battalion sailed for France on 26th February 1915 in very rough seas. They travelled by train via Rouen, Abbeville and St. Omer to Arneke where they detrained for Hardifort. The battalion was then held in reserve for, but did not take part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. For the whole of April they were in trenches near Wulverghem and subjected to continual sniping by the enemy, and then moved on to Zillebeke, followed by a tour in the area of Mount Kemmel.

From July to September 1915 the battalion was in the area of Zillebeeke and Ouderdom, before moving to Hesdigneul in October, La Couture in November and Merville and Thienne in December. William appears to have been back to England in the autumn of 1915 as he married Hilda Green in Loughborough between late September and December of that year.

January 1916 was taken up with a potential move of William's battalion to Egypt which was aborted at Marseilles, the battalion being returned to Candas, and the area of Vimy Ridge.

In mid-February 1916 the 1/5th Battalion took over the line north of the River Ancre opposite Beaumont-Hamel in France. On 29th February the battalion moved to the area of Doullens where the men worked on improving the trenches despite being subjected to a considerable bombardment from the enemy with mines and craters being blown.

From 9th March 1916 the 1/5th Leicesters were in the area of Vimy Ridge, Pas de Calais, either in the front line, in support, in reserve or at rest. On 27th April the battalion was sent to the neighbourhood of Neuville St. Vaast to work with the French and English tunnellers and then to billets in Luchaux for bayonet training. This was followed by a period at Souastre digging cable trenches, and constructing bomb stores and gun pits in preparation for a 'big push'.

On 4th June 1916 the battalion was moved up to trenches near Gommecourt. This was followed by further training at Warlincourt. On 30th June the battalion assembled in a trench near Foncquevillers Church ready for the diversionary attack at Gommecourt on the first day of the Somme Offensive planned for 1st July.

On 1st July 1916 the 46th Division of the Army, of which the 1/5th Leicesters were part, had 2445 casualties at Gommecourt. On 7th July they relieved the 4th Lincolnshires in the trenches opposite Essarts-lès-Bucquoy. The battalion remained in the area of Monchy-au-Bois until 29th October, either in the trenches or resting at Bienvillers or Pommier. The battalion's next move was to Millencourt for intensive battle training, returning to Halloy and then Souastre at the beginning of December.

The battalion remained at Souastre until 11th March 1917 and then moved once more up to the line taking over 2,600 yards of frontage from the La Brayelle road to the Hannescamps-Monchy road. On 17th March they moved into Gommecourt for road mending before moving to Bertrancourt, Raincheval and then Rainvillers not far from Amiens.

On 28th March the battalion marched to Saleux, entrained for Lillers in the north, and marched to Laires. Training took place until 13th April and continued for three further days at Manqueville, after which the battalion moved to the western outskirts of Lens. From there they marched to Bully-Grenay and went into the front line trenches where they were heavily shelled. On 29th April the battalion went into rest billets in cellars at Cité St. Pierre until 3rd May when they went into support trenches. On 8th they went into billets at Fosse 10 near Petit Sains for training and on 12th into reserve at Angres. Further trench tours south-west of Lens followed until 26th May when the battalion went into billets at Marqueffles Farm for training in bayonet fighting and bombardment and to practise methods of attack. On 6th June the battalion was back in the line and on 8th June went into the attack, suffering 96 casualties.

After a few day's break at Red Mill the battalion was back in the trenches on 13th June and William was killed in action three days later, aged 26. He was buried in Loos British Cemetery, Grave XIX. C. 12.

Private 10053 William Dann

 

6th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died at City Asylum Nottingham 25th August 1922, Aged 47.

Buried Loughborough Cemetery 28/186. 

 

William worked as a drayman at the Midland Railway. He enlisted on 15th August 1914 and was sent to France on 19th March 1915. He was transferred to Class P Army Reserve on 18th April 1917, discharged on 16th August 1917 and granted a pension.
 

  William Dann

Has no memorial on his grave. 

Private 12611 Albert James Darter

 

2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 15th May 1915, Aged 44.

Commemorated Le Touret  Memorial, Panel 11. 

 

Albert James Darter, known in his family as 'James', was born in Steventon, Berkshire, in 1873. He was one of six children born to George Darter, a journeyman baker, and his wife Louisa Ann (née Andrews) who were married near Abingdon, Berkshire, in 1863.

Albert married Laura Jane Pash (née Titchener) a widow with five children at St. Mary's Church, Reading, on Boxing Day 1905. By 1911 Albert, now a labourer and bricklayer, and Laura were living at 37 Paget Street, Loughborough, with Arthur, Elsie and Albert Pash and Wilfred Darter (aged 4). They later moved to 'Four Winds', Swingbridge Road, Loughborough.

Albert had previously served for twelve years with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was active in the Second Boer War. As member of the National Reserve he was recalled in August 1914 and reenlisted on 3rd September. He was initially posted as Private 12611 to the 3rd Leicesters. Two months later he was transferred to the 2nd Leicesters and left Southampton for France on 11th December 1914 to join his battalion who were fighting with the Indian Corps.

After the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th - 13th March 1915) the 2nd Leicesters spent a couple of months alternately in the Trenches or in billets while war training, in the area of Calonne and Vieille Chapelle north-east of Bethune. In a letter to his wife Albert described the Battle of Neuve Chapelle as 'a most glorious charge'. Later he spoke cheerfully about trench life, with plenty of mud, followed by a hot bath and a most refreshing sleep. He added: 'When I get home again I shan't leave you for all the wars in the world. Not that I am sorry I came as I know I could not have stayed at home'. Albert, like so many others, ultimately appears to have been a victim of trench warfare. He was wounded in action north-east of Bethune, reported missing on 15th May 1915, and subsequently presumed dead.

Albert's widow also had three sons from her first marriage serving in the army: Thomas Pash was with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment in Iraq, Arthur Pash was with the 1st Leicesters at the Battle of Mons, and Charles Pash was with the Army Service Corps and taken prisoner of war. All three, however, survived the war although Thomas was wounded and Arthur and Charles suffered psychological damage and were awarded Silver War Badges.

 

Private 358094 William Davies

2/10th Bn. The Kings Liverpool  Regiment.                                                              

Killed in Action 29th June 1917, Aged 20.

Buried Pont-du-Hem Military cemetery, IV. D. II.

William Davies was born in Peggs Green, Leicestershire, in 1897 and baptised at the Church of St. John the Baptist at Whitwick on 15th August 1897. He was the only son of William Davies and his wife Sarah (née Clifford) who were married on 3ed February 1892 at the Church of St. John the Baptist, Whitwick. Young William's father was a butcher in 1892, became an engineer in 1893 but by 1895 had become a coal miner. Young William would never remember his father who was one of thirty-five miners killed in the Whitwick Colliery disaster on 19th April 1898.

In 1901 William's widowed mother was supporting herself and her children Sarah, Eliza, Louiza and William by working as a hosiery seamstress and living in Kidgers Lane, Peggs Green. In early 1907 Sarah Davies was remarried to another coal miner Robert Henry Staniforth and went to live at King's Road, Shepshed. In 1909 William's half-sister Violet Staniforth was born. William, at fourteen, was a hosiery point seamer.

William enlisted at Shepshed in May 1915 with his friends Fred Milner and Tom Kirby and joined C Coy of the 2/10th (Scottish) Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment as Private 358094. The 2/10th Battalion had been formed in Liverpool in October 1914 as a Second Line battalion, which on 8th February 1915 came under orders of the Army's 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.

William was initially sent for training at Oxted, Surrey, and then to Maidstone, Kent. In July 1916 the units of the Division moved to the Aldershot area, being based at Blackdown, Deepcut, Pirbright, Woking and nearby places. William's battalion was at Blackdown Camp.

The Division received a warning order on 5th January 1917 that it would soon depart for France. Part of William's battalion sailed from Folkestone for Boulogne on 1st February, transferred by train to Bailleul and went into billets at Hazebrouck. The other part of the battalion sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on 21st February, arrived at Bailleul on 23rd, and went into billets at Estaires.

The first part of the battalion began trench tours at Bois Grenier on 4th February 1917. The remainder of the battalion joined the first group in the Bois Grenier trenches on 26th February. The whole battalion remained in the same area on trench tours until the summer of 1917. Rest periods were taken at Erquinchem, Laundries, and Bac St. Maur.

On 29th June William took part in a raid on the German line south of Bois Grenier. Fifteen men were killed, thirty-five were reported missing and fifty-four men were wounded in the action. William, aged 20, was killed in action and Fred Milner could not be found after the raid. It is believed that William and C Company were told to lie low until dusk before making their way back to the trenches, but that William did not listen and died from 'a blast in the back'.

William's body was eventually found and he was buried in Pont-du-Hem Cemetery, La Gorgue, Grave IV. D. II. It was nine months before William's mother Sarah was notified of his death.

William is remembered on the Shepshed War Memorial and on the Roll of Honour in St. Botolph's Church, Shepshed.




Shepshed War Memorial


Private 94921 Wilfred Davies

 

8th Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby).

Died at Home 31st January 1920, Aged 20.

Buried Loughborough Cemetery 9/259. 

 

Wilfred was the son of Mrs. Mary Davies of 56 Toothill Road Loughborough.
 

Sergeant 10938 Ernest Davison Cross of Saint George IV class

 

2nd Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby).

Killed in Action 5th October 1915, Aged 26.

Buried Potijze Burial Ground, Ypres, D. I. 3. 

 

Ernest Davison, whose official full name was Ernest Davison Newton, was born in Loughborough in 1889, the son of Owen Davison Newton and his wife Ellen Bishop Diggle, who were married in Loughborough in 1886. He had three surviving siblings Owen, Albert and Nellie, two others having died as babies. In 1891 the Davison family was at 5, Orchard Street, Loughborough. Ernest's father was a joiner and his mother worked in a hosiery warehouse. In 1892 Ernest's father joined the Coalville Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, and by 1901 the family had moved to 37 Paget Street. Ernest attended the Primitive Methodist Church Sunday School in Swan Street, Loughborough. In 1911 the Davison family moved to 5 Paget Street, but by that time Ernest had left home.

Ernest was almost nineteen and a labourer when he enlisted on 18th August 1908 at Nottingham. He signed his attestation form as 'Ernest Davison' and all subsequent military records relating to him bear this name. (His parents and siblings also seem to have dropped the 'Newton' part of the surname, except for official purposes.)

Ernest joined the 2nd Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) as Private 10938. Between 1908 and 1914 he was posted to various locations in England and Ireland and in 1911, now a Lance Corporal, was at Crownhill Hutments, Crownhill RSO, Egg Buckland, Devon. In 1912 he reverted to the rank of Private at his own request. In August 1914 Ernest was in Sheffield when his battalion was mobilised and moved to Cambridge. By early September his battalion was fully equipped and trained.

On 8th September 1914 Ernest landed at St. Nazaire, France, as part of the British Expeditionary Force. His battalion proceeded to the front and went straight into a bitter battle at Aisne on September 20th where they carried out a counter-attack, receiving a high casualty rate. This was followed by another battle on the way to Ypres, Belgium, at Ennettiere-en-Weppes, in October 1914. Once again they were up against a superior force but managed to hold them for 48 hours.

In 1915 the battalion took part in various actions on the Ypres Salient including the action at Hooge, suffering severe casualties. On 22nd February 1915 Ernest was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal. One month later, on 23rd March he was promoted to Corporal. On 9th August 1915 he was promoted again to the rank of Sergeant. Finally, on 25th August he was awarded the Cross of the Order of St. George, 4th Class, by His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia 'for Gallantry and Distinguished Conduct in the Field'. Ernest was killed on 5th October 1915 near Ypres, aged 26. His mother Ellen died two years later.

Sergeant Green of the same battalion as Ernest wrote that he was 'one of the coolest and bravest men ever in the fighting line, and worthy of the V.C. if ever a solider was. You do not know how much he will be mourned by his comrades, as he really was so modest and unassuming, and everybody liked him to a man. He met his death during a heavy bombardment from a fragment of a shell, which burst only a few yards from him'.
 

Private 203881 Arthur Leonard Dawson

 

1/5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 24th September 1918,  Aged 21.

Buried Bellicourt British Cemetery, IV. K. 3. 

 

Arthur Leonard Dawson was born in Loughborough in late 1896. He was the son of Baxter William Dawson and his wife Emily Frances (née Heel, known as 'Fanny') who were married in Loughborough in 1892. Arthur had two brothers William and Harold and one sister Dorothy.

In 1899 Arthur's father was a carpenter and joiner and the Dawson family lived at 21 Hastings Street, Loughborough. By 1901 they were at 29 Paget Street. Between 1901 and 1911 Arthur's father became an agent for the Royal London Mutual Assurance Society and the Dawson family moved to Glen Dhoon, Knightthorpe Road. They later moved to Greeba, Fairmount Drive.

Arthur's father served on Loughborough Council for about 16 years, representing Storer Ward. He was chairman of the Health and Education Committees and eventually became mayor of Loughborough in 1932. He was an ardent temperance leader and local Wesleyan preacher.

When Arthur left school he matriculated at London University and became an assistant teacher in local council schools.

Arthur enlisted in the summer of 1916. The precise dates of his enlistment and when he was sent abroad are unknown as his service papers have not survived. He joined the 1/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 203881.

The 1/5th Leicesters in France received drafts of reinforcements in November 1916 and also in February 1917. Arthur could have been in either of these drafts but the more likely one is that of February 1917.

The battalion was at Souastre during February and until 11th March 1917. They then moved up to the line taking over 2,600 yards of frontage from the La Brayelle road to the Hannescamps-Monchy road. On 17th March they moved into Gommecourt for road mending before moving to Bertrancourt, Raincheval and then Rainvillers not far from Amiens.

On 28th March the battalion marched to Saleux, entrained for Lillers in the north, and marched to Laires. Training took place until 13th April and continued for three further days at Manqueville, after which the battalion moved to the western outskirts of Lens. From there they marched to Bully-Grenay and went into the front line trenches where they were heavily shelled. On 29th April the battalion went into rest billets in cellars at Cité St. Pierre until 3rd May when they went into support trenches. On 8th they went into billets at Fosse 10 near Petit Sains for training and on 12th into reserve at Angres. Further trench tours south-west of Lens followed until 26th May when the battalion went into billets at Marqueffles Farm for training in bayonet fighting and bombardment and to practise methods of attack. On 6th June the battalion was back in the line and on 8th June went into the attack, suffering 96 casualties.

Apart from two breaks at Red Mill from 9th-13th and 18th-20th June the battalion was in the trenches until 22nd June. On 21st June C Coy was accidentally gassed by the Royal Engineers, resulting in 94 casualties of whom 22 died. Back at Marqueffles Farm from 22nd the battalion had Lewis gun and signalling classes as well as attack training over a flagged course. On 27th June the battalion moved up to the line ready to attack on the following day. As they climbed out of the trenches on 28th June they met with the inevitable machine gun fire and over the next two days 60 Ordinary Ranks were killed.

Relieved from the trenches at Lievin on 3rd July the battalion moved to Monchy-Breton for reorganisation and training until 22nd July when they moved to Vaudricourt before going into the line at Hulluch until 28th July. After respite at Noeux-les-Mines the battalion was at Fouquières until 14th August, practising for an attack. Moving to Noyelles the battalion went into the trenches on 15th August and carried out a raid on the German trenches at Hulluch on the night of the 16th/17th August. After a break at Noyelles for training the battalion returned to the trenches. The end of August was spent at Philosophe, providing carrying parties.

During September, October and early November 1917 the battalion completed six trench tours at St. Elie, with breaks at Fouquières and Philosophe. During one tour the battalion was visited by a Mr. Wilkes of the Leicester Mail, 'attired in a grey suit, steel helmet and box respirator'. On 14th November the battalion moved to Mazingarbe for a trench tour in the Hill 70 sector. November ended with the battalion billeted at Verquin, Vaudricourt and Drouvin for training and a battle rehearsal.

Three more trench tours took place in December, this time in the Cambrin right sector where there were a number of very heavy bombardments and gas attacks by the enemy.

New Year's Day 1918 was marked by another heavy bombardment on the battalion's trenches near Hulluch. During early January when away from the front line the battalion also provided wire carrying parties and working parties. On 20th January the battalion began a four-day transfer by march to Chocques. Between 24th January and 28th February the battalion was in training at Chocques, Allouagne, Fiefs, and Reclinghem.

Between 28th February and 2nd March the battalion moved via Delettes and Ligny-lès-Aire to Ecquedecques where inspections took place. On 6th March they went into Brigade support on the Annequin-Cambrin road, at Annequin Fosse and at Sailly-Labourse. On 8th they marched to the front line trenches in the Cambrin right sub-sector where, until 15th March, they experienced considerable enemy shelling. After moving into Brigade reserve at Sailly-Labourse, Factory dugouts, Windy Corner and Central Keep on 16th they were again shelled by the enemy.

On 20th March the battalion went into Divisional reserve at Beuvry. On 24th March they returned to the Cambrin right sub-sector trenches (now renamed the Hohenzollern sector) where all available men were employed at night on wiring. After a break at Sailly-Labourse the battalion marched to Fosse 7 and into Hill 70 Support on 28th March. Two companies moved up to the front line on 1st April and inter-company reliefs took place on 5th April. The men were in the trenches for nine days, suffering repeated bombardments of all kinds, including mustard gas shelling. On 10th April the battalion moved back into Hill 70 support, but the back areas were filled with gas and the men were sent to Coupigny Huts, Bracquemont.

Training began on 15th April but two days later 100 men became sick with what the medical specialists considered to be influenza. Sixty men were evacuated and a special rest station was set up. Those men who were well were moved to Hersin and another 100 evacuated. On 24th April the battalion moved to Bruay and went into Reserve at Fouquières on 25th, only to be shelled in their billets. As the battalion was marching to the trenches at Le Hamel on 28th April the enemy opened fire near Essars. Three men were killed and thirty-five wounded or gassed.

The battalion reached the trenches on 29th April and remained there until 7th May. During this time they were heavily shelled and a night wiring party was ambushed by the Germans.

During the rest of May, June, July and August the battalion did trench tours in the Gorre sub-sector and at Essars/Le Hamel. Breaks were taken at Vaudricourt Park Camp and in August there were four days of training at Hesdigneul. The men also enjoyed a concert party by The Whizz-Bangs at Verquin.

By 7th August there were signs that the enemy was withdrawing and at the beginning of September, when the battalion pushed forward to Richebourg, they found a number of notices pinned up which said: 'Dear Tommy, You are welcome to all we are leaving. When we stop we shall stop and stop you in a manner you won't appreciate. Fritz.' The day after the note was found the battalion front was severely bombarded by the enemy.

From 9th -11th September the battalion was in training at Gosnay sandpits and between Béthune and Verquin. On 12th September they entrained at Chocques for Ribemont-Méricourt. Between 14th and 18th September they continued training, at Sailly-le-Sec in field firing and using a compass at night, at Franvillers in a Brigade tactical scheme, and at Teutry in attack procedure.

After this they marched to the Brigade support position in a newly captured sector east of Le Verguier and prepared for an attack on Pontruet. On 24th September the battalion took part in this operation, during which Arthur, aged 21, was killed in action.

Arthur was buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery, Grave IV. K. 3.

 

 

Private 15854 George Edward Dean

 

11th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers.

Died of Wounds 11th July 1916, Aged 30.

Buried Heilly Station Cemetery Somme, II. A. 56. 

 

George Edward Dean was born in Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, in 1885, the son of George Edward Dean a gardener and his wife Alice (née Cooper). George Junior's parents were married in Basford in 1883. George Junior had a brother Reginald and a sister Mabel. In 1891 the family lived at the Lodge, Edwards Lane, Basford, but by 1901 had moved to Arnold Road, Old Basford and George Junior had now begun work as a gardener like his father. After his mother Alice died in 1905 George's father moved to 88 Oxford Street, Bulwell with his brother Reginald. His sister Mabel, meanwhile, had gone into service.

On 10th June 1901 George Junior attested in Nottingham and joined the Grenadier Guards as Private 9670. His military career, however, did not run smoothly. On 31st March 1903 he was court-martialled in London for stealing from a comrade and imprisoned until 21st July that year. Eleven months later he was transferred to Army Reserve Section B. On 9th October 1906 he was tried at the Nottingham Sessions for housebreaking, sentenced to six months hard labour and sent to prison. At this point because of the felony he was discharged from the Army.

George was released from prison on 8th April 1907 but less than three weeks later, on 1st May 1907, he was sentenced at the Nottingham Petty Sessions to six months imprisonment for stealing a bicycle. On 12th December 1907 he received a sentence of twelve months imprisonment, with two years of police supervision, at Nottingham Sessions for warehouse-breaking. On 16th November 1908 as 'George Edward Dean, alias Cooper, a gardener of no fixed abode' he received another sentence of 15 months with two years police supervision for breaking and entering the counting-house of Gerard Bros. and stealing property. On 11th December 1909 at Derby Borough Petty Sessions he was given a sentence of six months imprisonment for failing to report. On 13th July 1910 he was tried at the Guildhall, Nottingham, for housebreaking and burglary and was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment and hard labour at Nottingham Prison.

In 1913 George, now described as a general dealer of 5 Lees Yard, Leenside, Nottingham, testified at the inquest into the death of his father, whose body was found in the Trent about 400 yards above Colwick Weir.

When war broke out George enlisted, possibly at Loughborough like his brother Reginald, and probably concealing his previous military history. He joined the 11th (Service) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers as Private 15854.

The 11th Battalion was sent to Bullswater, Hampshire, in September 1914. They wintered at Aldershot and at the end of February 1915 they moved to Shorncliffe, Kent, and some of the infantry were engaged in constructing defences to the south of London in April and May, before they moved to Bordon, Hampshire at the end of May. George went to France on 25th August 1915, landing at Boulougne. His battalion concentrated near Tilques. They then moved to the Vieux-Berquin area southwest of Bailleul for trench familiarisation before taking over a front line sector near Ferme on the Armentières-Wez Macquart road. During the Battle of Loos they held the front at Bois Grenier, being relieved from that sector at the end of January 1916 for a period of rest at Bruay. George, who had been promoted to Corporal, had his rank reduced to Private in October 1915 on account of misconduct.

On the 3rd March 1916 the battalion returned to the front line, taking over a sector between the Boyau de l'Ersatz and the Souchez River. In mid-April they returned to Bruay area for rest until mid-May when they again took over the Souchez-Angres front, just before the German Attack on Vimy Ridge on the 21st. On the 11th of June they began intensive training for the Battles of the Somme. George was wounded at in the Battle of Albert and died in No. 36 Casualty Clearing Station on 11th July 1916, aged 30.

George's brother Reginald served with the 8th Leicestershire Regiment but was discharged for reasons of ill-health in 1915.
 

 

 

Second Lieutenant Charles Arthur De Ville

 

2/5th Bn, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)

Previously 2389 and 240540 Leicestershire Regiment

Killed in Action 20th July 1918, Aged 23.

Buried Marfaux British Cemetery, Marne. II. H. 6. 


Charles as a Scout

Charles at the seaside

Charles with friends

Charles with his wife
Charles Arthur De Ville was born in Loughborough on 16th April 1895. He was the eldest son of Edward De Ville and his wife Eliza Ellen (née Thurman) who were married in Loughborough on 3rd November 1894. Charles's father was a clerk at an electrical engineering works and the De Ville family lived at 5 Union Street, Loughborough. Charles had two brothers William and Frederick and two sisters Harriet Elsie and Mabel Alice. Another sister Beatrice had died in infancy. Charles also had an older half-brother Albert Thurman (afterwards Thurman De Ville), born before his mother married Edward De Ville.

In 1911 Charles, aged 15, was an apprentice tram car finisher, being trained in joinery at the Brush Company in Loughborough. He enlisted in late 1914 and joined the 2/5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 2389 (later renumbered as 240540). The 2/5th Battalion had its HQ in Loughborough as part of the Lincoln and Leicester Brigade, North Midland Division and was mobilised in September 1914. In January 1915 the battalion moved to Luton being billeted in private homes, in February and March they had a spell at Epping digging practice trenches. In July the battalion moved to the St Albans area, under canvas at Briton Camp for training and route marches. In August 1915, the Brigade was retitled 177th Brigade, 59th Division (2nd North Midland) and in October they were moved back to billets in Harpenden. Throughout 1915 some members of the 2/5th Leicesters also provided guards for the prisoner of war camp at Donington Hall.

In late 1915 or early 1916 Charles married Constance Louisa Fisher Frisby in Loughborough and his wife settled at 22 Morley Street, Loughborough.

In January 1916 parties of officers from the 2/5th Leicesters were sent to France on tours of instruction in the trenches and in March, the long awaited orders to proceed overseas were received. On Easter Monday, however, the rebellion in Ireland forced a rapid change of plans. The 177th Brigade was recalled from leave and ordered to move to Liverpool at midnight. The following day they sailed on the SS Ulster, a fast mail boat, escorted by a Royal Navy destroyer. Their first taste of action was not to be in the trenches of the Western Front, but in the streets of Dublin.

By the end of the month the main uprising was over and the 2/5th Battalion supplied search parties for Ballsbridge and guarded railways, bridges and other key infrastructure. On the 10th May they moved out of the city to tackle pockets of resistance in County Kerry, searching homes and making arrests. In June word was received that the Battalion would be moving to France and training resumed with long route marches through Ireland. In August they marched 80 miles from Tralee to Fermoy Barracks, where they would remain until January 1917, engaged in live fire training in trench warfare. The return trip from Ireland was made aboard the SS Ulster and the battalion arrived at Fovant Camp in Wiltshire by train at 7pm on 6th January 1917.

After embarkation leave Charles proceeded to France via Southampton, arriving at Le Havre on the 24th February 1917. His battalion was sent to the Somme area where the enemy was retreating to the Hindenburg Line. They made their first attack on the villages of Hesbecourt and Hervilly on 31st of March 1917, capturing both villages and suffering a number of casualties.

On 1st April the battalion began constructing a line of cruciform posts and on the following day were shelled while doing so. On 3rd and 4th April part of the battalion supported the 4th Leicesters in an attack on Fervaque Farm while the rest of the battalion built posts in Templeux. On 11th and 12th April the battalion moved to Hervilly and Hamelet to provide working parties and on 15th A and C Coys were in support for an attack on Villeret. On 17th April the battalion moved from Brosse Woods to Templeux and Hervilly and were in support again on the following day in an attack on a quarry north of Villeret. On 19th April the battalion moved to Hancourt for cleaning up, working parties and training. On the night of 27th/28th April Hancourt was bombarded by the enemy and the battalion moved to the front line at Le Vergier.

Trench tours continued until 15th May when the battalion marched back to Bois Bias training camp between Bouvincourt-en-Vermandois and Le Catelet. Training took place until 25th May when they moved to Equancourt and went into the front and support lines at Villers Plouich.
Charles (standing)

Around this time Charles, who had progressed to the rank of Sergeant, returned to England to train for a commission. On 30th October 1917 he was commissioned as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant with the 2/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own).

Charles joined the 2/5th Battalion in France on 10th January 1918. At the time the battalion was training at Roclincourt, north of Arras. Training and inspections continued until 16th January and the men also enjoyed a performance by the 'Pelicans' concert troupe. Between 17th and 29th January the battalion was in the front line where the trenches were very muddy and some were impassable. On 30th January the battalion moved to the support area and provided working parties until 3rd February. After a break at Roclincourt the battalion moved up into the Oppy sector until 9th February.

On 10th February the battalion moved at night by rail to Maroeuil and from there by train to La Thieuloye. They remained at La Thieuloye until 2nd March training, range firing, practising an attack with a contact aeroplane and taking part in a rifle competition. On 3rd March the battalion moved to a camp at Bray and continued training until 11th March.

On 12th March the battalion moved to the forward area as the enemy was expected to attack at any time. Relieved on 16th they proceeded to Stewart's Camp, Roclincourt. On 20th March the battalion moved into support in the Willerval section. After the Germans began their Spring Offensive on the following day the battalion moved to Ecurie Wood, Agny and then Bucquoy. At Bucquoy on 25th March they were ordered to move and hold a line on the left and slightly in the rear of Achiet-le-Petit. On 26th March they were ordered to take up a new line in front of Bucquoy but heavy shelling of the village made it difficult to hold the line and the battalion was moved firstly into support and then into reserve.

On 31st March, after a day spent holding the front line at Biez Wood, the battalion was taken by bus from Fonquevillers to Couin and marched to Coigneux. During April the battalion firstly moved to Marieux aerodrome for inspections, did a trench tour at Dessart, spent some time digging, improving and wiring trenches and then moved by lorry from Souastre to Louvencourt for training until 16th May. On 17th May they were returned by lorry to Souastre and went into the front line at Biez Wood for night work on the trenches and advanced posts until 25th May.

After a break as Souastre Valley Camp where the battalion continued training and also enjoyed a concert party by the 'Trifles' they were ordered to move to the right sub-sector of the front line. Here, until mid-June they worked for the Tunnelling Company on dugouts in Fonquevillers and at night on the battle positions, amid some heavy enemy shelling. They also provided carrying parties. A further break at Souastre followed.

From 25th June to 13th July the battalion was at Authieule where an influenza epidemic broke out, while those men who were still fit participated in tactical and defence training. On 14th July the battalion marched to Doullens, entrained for Arcis-sur-Aube and went by bus to Juvigny. The battalion bivouacked in woods near Bisseuil until they were ordered on 19th July to proceed to woods at St. Imoges and from there to an assembly point at Pourcy prior to launching an attack.

The attack on the enemy began on the morning of 20th July 1918, the opening day of the Battle of the Tardenois, part of the battles of the Marne. The covering barrage for the attack began too soon and the battalion was badly hit, with many casualties. Among the officers three were killed, ten were wounded and one was missing. Charles was one of the officers killed. He was just 23 years old.

Charles was buried in Marfaux British Cemetery, Marne, Grave II. H. 6. He is remembered on the Brush Company Memorial (in the Carillon Museum) and on the Carillon.

Charles's half-brother Albert served in the Army Service Corps and survived the war.

Charles's widow married Harold Walton in Loughborough in 1924.
 

 

 

Lieutenant David Dewar (Sonnie)

 

14th Bn, Machine Gun Corps.

Killed in Action 22nd March 1918, Aged 24.

Buried Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery, VI. I. 10. 

(his brother Lancelot J. A. Dewar also fell see below)

David Dewar, known to his family and friends 'Sonnie', was born on 1st September 1893 in Northampton and baptised on 3rd October 1893 at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Northampton. He was the son of the Reverend David Dewar M.A., a Church of England clergyman, and his wife Annie Maria Irene Dewar (née Hill) who were married on 16th September 1888 at St. Martin's Church, Barcheston, Warwickshire. Sonnie had one younger brother Lancelot (known as 'Jack') and one sister Margaret Grace.

At the time of Sonnie's baptism the family was living at 61 Holly Road, Northampton. In 1901 the family home was St. Thomas's Vicarage, 1 Blaby Road, Glen Parva, Leicestershire, Sonnie's father being Vicar of Glen Parva with South Wigston. In 1906 the Reverend Dewar was appointed to St. Luke's Church in Leicester and the family moved to 8 Melbourne Street, Leicester. In 1911 he was appointed to Holy Trinity Church in Loughborough and the family moved again to Holy Trinity Vicarage. The Reverend Dewar set up and became President of the Loughborough Temperance Council.

Sonnie was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys, Leicester, and at St. Johns School, Epsom Road, Leatherhead, Surrey. He gained an exhibition at Downing College, Cambridge, and in the Lent Race of 1914, when the Downing boat made five bumps, he rowed bow. He was also a member of the Cambridge Officers' Training Corps (OTC) and took the degrees of B.A. and L.L.B in 1915. His ambition was to take Holy Orders and work as a missionary in China.

On 29th June 1915 Sonnie was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant into the 11th (Service) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) and was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) on 27th March 1916. Sonnie was trained at Grantham before being sent to France to join the 43rd Machine Gun Company on 24th January when the company's guns were in position at Achicourt and Ronville, near Arras.

In February the 43rd Company spent some time providing working parties for the Royal Engineers for trench deepening and repairs but there was still some night firing. On 14th March the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line began and the 43rd Company was involved in firing on the enemy at Tilloy Wood and on the Tilloy-Neuville-Vitasse road. The last few days of March were spent at Dainville for training in offensive and open fighting. On 2nd April two sections of the company were sent to Arras with eight guns, one section to the Corps Depot Camp at Fosseux, and one section remained at Dainville for further training.

On 9th April in the 1st battle of the Scarpe, east of Arras, the company mounted a zero hour barrage. Relieved on the 10th April the company proceeded to caves in Ronville and on the following day began a three day march to Sus-St.-Leger for eight days training and sports. Back in Ronville on 28th April the company went into reserve. On 4th May the company moved to the front east of Wancourt where the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe had begun and over the following days was firing amid large calibre enemy artillery retaliation.

Ten days were then spent in reserve at Beauvains until 25th May, after which the company went into support north of Neuville Vitasse. Three guns were subsequently moved to Wancourt, and eight to the trenches. On 11th June the company moved back to Beaurains where guns were cleaned and packed for a move. Two days later the company marched via Beaumetz and Gaudiempré to Authie for training until 9th July. In Authie they observed the 14th Divisional Horse Show.

Between 10th and 12th July the company marched to Gézaincourt, entrained at Doullens for Bailleul, and marched to Croix de Poperinghe for training until 5th August, after which they moved to a camp north-west of Dickebusch. On 20th August the company moved to the trenches east of Hooge where there were sixteen guns in the line. Here they were heavily shelled by the enemy. Relieved on 25th they marched to camp at Ouderdom, on to Roukloshille, and then east of Steenwerck for ten days training. After additional training at Neuve Eglise the company returned to action with a barrage to cover a raid on 19th September and more action east of Messines.

After a week's training at a camp in the Ravelsburg area the company moved north of Westoutre and then north of La Clytte, moving to the front on 12th October to take part in the 1st Battle of Passchendaele. Here they experienced heavy enemy shelling, barrage fire and gas shells while they bombarded Polderhoek Chateau.

Three weeks training in the Berthen area followed until 12th November after which they moved by rail to the 2nd Army training area and were billeted at Westbécourt until 2nd December. On 3rd December the company went by train into reserve at St. Jean before returning to the line north-east of Passchendaele for two more tours in the barrage position amid more enemy gas shelling. Relieved on 28th December the company finally enjoyed Christmas dinner on New Year's Eve.

At the beginning of January 1918 the company returned by march and train to Bray, in the Somme, for training. On 26th January, after another long march they relieved the French in the sector north and south of Moy, with headquarters at Remigny, afterwards resting at Jussy.

In early March 1918 the Machine Gun Corps was restructured and the 43rd Machine Company became part of the 14th Battalion of the Corps. The war dairy of the new battalion between March and May 1918 has unfortunately not survived. Sonnie, aged 24, was killed in action in the Battle of St. Quentin on 22nd March 1918. He was originally buried in Jussy Communal Cemetery but was later reburied in Seraucourt British Cemetery Grave VI. I. 10. He had been promoted to Lieutenant and mentioned in despatches.

Letters were received from his brother officers speaking of his bravery and devotion to duty, and his Commanding Officer wrote: 'He was the bravest officer and he finest gentleman it was ever my luck to meet'. A brother officer said: 'He never considered his own risk, however bad the shelling - he always thought first of his men'.

Sonnie is remembered on the memorial of Holy Trinity Church, Loughborough, and on the Carillon. He is also remembered on the memorial at Wyggeston Grammar School, Leicester, on the memorial at St. John's School, Leatherhead, and on the Roll of Honour at Downing College, Cambridge. There is also a personal memorial to Sonnie, originally in Holy Trinity Church, but now in the Carillon War Memorial Museum.

Sonnie's only brother, Jack Dewar, R.M.L.I. was killed in action at Beaumont Hamel in November 1916.

The Reverend Dewar, his health broken by the death of both his sons compounded by anxiety over a serious fire at his church, died on the 5th August 1921, aged 59. Sonnie's widowed mother later resided firstly at 31, Gledhow Gardens, South Kensington, London, and then at 352 Camden Road, London N7. In 1921 in Loughborough Sonnie's sister Margaret married 2nd Lieutenant Arnold Montague Barrowcliff M.C. who served with the Leicestershire Regiment in the war.

 Memorial to Sonnie originally from Holy Trinity Church Now on display at the Carillon War Museum

 

Second Lieutenant Lancelot John Austen (Jack) Dewar

2nd Bn. R.N. Div, Royal Marine Infantry.                          

Killed in Action 13th November 1916, Aged  20                 

Buried Ancre British Cemetery, Somme II. C. 38. 

(his brother David Dewar also fell see above)

Lancelot John Austen Dewar, known to his family and friends as 'Jack', was born on 8th October 1896 in Northampton and baptised on 5th November 1896 at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Northampton. He was the son of the Reverend David Dewar M.A., a Church of England clergyman, and his wife Annie Maria Irene Dewar (née Hill) who were married on 16th September 1888 at St. Martin's Church, Barcheston, Warwickshire. Jack had one brother David (known as 'Sonnie') and one sister Margaret.

At the time of Jack's baptism the family was living at 61 Holly Road, Northampton. In 1901 the family home was St. Thomas's Vicarage, 1 Blaby Road, Glen Parva, Leicestershire, Jack's father being Vicar of Glen Parva with South Wigston. In 1906 the Reverend Dewar was appointed to St. Luke's Church in Leicester and the family lived at 8 Melbourne Street, Leicester. In 1911 he was appointed to Holy Trinity Church in Loughborough and the family moved to Holy Trinity Vicarage. The Reverend Dewar set up and became President of the Loughborough Temperance Council.

Jack attended Oakham School, Rutland, between 1911 and 1915. He was in the school rugby team from 1913 to1914 and in the cricket team from 1913 to 1915, being cricket captain for one year. He was also a school prefect and Head of School. Prior to Oakham he attended Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester.

Jack was in the Officer Training Corps (OTC) at Oakham and attended OTC camps at Bordon (1912) and Rugeley (1914). When he volunteered for service he was Head Boy of Oakham School. On 15th January 1916 he received a commission as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Marines, Royal Naval Division. He was drafted to the British Expeditionary Force on 8th July 1916 and joined the 2nd Royal Marine Battalion in the field at Fresnicourt-le-Dolmen in the Pas de Calais on 12th July. He was one of twelve officers from England who joined the battalion on that day.

On 13th August the battalion marched to Hersin and on the 14th to Bully-Grenay where they spent two nights improving the Bajolle Lines. On the 16th they made a small but successful raid on the enemy and on 20th they relieved the 1st Royal Marines in the trenches at Angres. Here they were on the receiving end of trench mortars and shells from the enemy. For the next four weeks they alternated with the 1st Royal Marines in the trenches with rest periods at Fosse and Bully-Grenay.

On 19th September the battalion changed area and marched to Beugin where a period of training took place until 27th September, after which they moved to Monchy-Breton. After a few days training the battalion entrained at Ligny-Saint-Flochel for Acheux and then marched to Engelbelmer. By 8th October they were in huts at Hédauville. Between 8th and 20th October the officers reconnoitred the roads and trenches and the men trained and formed working parties. Sir Douglas Haig inspected the battalion at Engelbelmer on 28th October.

In early November the battalion was in the area of Engelbelmer and Mesnil and preparations were being made for an attack north of the River Ancre in front of Beaumont-Hamel. This area had been assaulted five times since 1st July without success and at heavy cost. At 2pm on 12th November battle stations were taken up.

Jack was killed in action, aged 20, on 13th November 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Ancre. His body was buried in 57d.Q.17.d Gordon Trench and No-Mans-Land, but was later recovered and reburied in Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel, France, Grave II.C.38. His grave is visited annually by members of Oakham School as part of their history studies.

As a promising young cricketer Jack was given a brief obituary in Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack. He is commemorated on the memorial of Holy Trinity Church, Loughborough (now in All Saints Church), in the Memorial Chapel at Oakham School, and on the Carillon. He is also commemorated on the Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys Roll of Honour.

His elder brother Temporary Lieutenant David ('Sonnie') Dewar who served with the 14th Battalion Machine Gun Corps, was killed in action on the 22nd March 1918.The Reverend Dewar, his health broken by the death of his sons compounded by anxiety over a serious fire at his church, died on the 5th August 1921, aged 59. Jack's widowed mother later resided firstly at 31, Gledhow Gardens, South Kensington, London, and then at 352 Camden Road, London N7. In 1921 in Loughborough his sister Margaret married 2nd Lieutenant Arnold Montague Barrowcliff M.C. who served with the Leicestershire Regiment in the war.

There is also a personal memorial to Jack, originally in Holy Trinity Church but now in the Carillon War Memorial Museum.

 Memorial to Jack originally from Holy Trinity Church.

 

Lance Corporal 1760 Bertie Diggle

 

Leicestershire Yeomanry.                                                

Killed in action 13th May 1915, Aged 21.

Commemorated Ypres Menin Gate panel 5.

                    

 
Bertie Diggle was the son of Sergeant Major George Davis Diggle and Mrs Ellen Diggle (née Shaw) of 15 Swann Street, Loughborough. Bertie's parents were married in Loughborough in 1885 and Bertie had three sisters Constance, Dorothy and Hilda and a younger brother George.

Bertie's father had served with the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa during the Second Boer War, was decorated with the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Rhodesia and South Africa, and mentioned in despatches. Prior to the Boer War he had been a bleacher and dyer. In 1911, however, his father was a licensed victualler and living with the family at the Half Moon Public House, 21 Pinfold Street, Bertie, Loughborough. Bertie's mother and two of his sisters assisted in the business and Bertie was a painter.

Bertie's brother-in-law, Henry Percy Kealey (married to his sister Constance) was also killed in the same day as Bertie at the Battle of Frezenberg.
 

Gunner 83814 Walter Dilkes

173rd Siege Bty. Royal Garrison Artillery.                                                                             

Killed in Action 21st April 1917, Aged 29.

Buried Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, II. E. 6.

Walter & Edith
Walter Dilkes was born in 1888 in Loughborough, the son of Samuel Dilkes and his wife Sarah Ann (née Adams) who were married at Holy Trinity Church, Leicester, on 22nd September 1886. In 1886 Walter's father was a shoemaker but in December 1887 he was appointed to the position of a postman at Loughborough. Walter was baptised at All Saints' Church, Loughborough, on 21st March 1888 and at the time the Dilkes family was living in Meadow Lane. By 1891 they had moved to 3 Sparrow Hill and in 1892 Walter's only surviving sibling William was born. Two sisters Martha and May died young.

In September 1903 Walter was appointed as an assistant postman on the Loughborough to Burton on the Wolds route and promoted to postman on the same route two years later. By 1911 the family had moved to 9 Cambridge Street. Walter married Edith Ellen Varney on 17th June 1912 at All Saints' Church, Loughborough and their daughter Helen was born at 34 Rendell Street, Loughborough, in 1913. Walter's parents later moved to 9 Lower Cambridge Street.

Walter enlisted at Loughborough on 6th December 1915 and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) as Gunner 83814. On 5th July 1916 he was posted to the 178th Siege Battery which was being formed by the Forth RGA, a territorial unit which garrisoned the Firth of Forth. Training in gun drill began at King's Park, Edinburgh, with flag-wagging practice near Holyrood Palace. At the end of July the battery left for Ramillies Barracks, Aldershot, for training in the art of camouflage, entrenching and dug-out construction. On 18th September the battery transferred to Larkill, Salisbury Plain, for extra practice on the firing ranges and on 8th October 1916 embarked on the SS Lydia at Southampton for Le Havre.

On 11th October the battery entrained in cattle trucks at Le Havre for an unknown destination. From Savy, a railhead in the Arras sector, motor lorries took them to Dainville where gun positions were allotted to the front of the village and the men were accommodated in dug-outs alongside the guns. The battery was now part of the 54th Heavy Artillery Group.

After constructing observation boxes in the reserve trenches and being overrun by big grey rats the battery was ordered to haul the guns to a position about a mile along the Arras-Doullens road. Billets were in barns in Berneville. Permanent gun detachments were selected and the rest of the battery constructed a telephone exchange and another observation post in Bermetz, the upper storey of which afforded a view from Arras to Bapaume.

On Christmas Eve 1916 the battery was ordered to the Anzin area and the guns were placed in position on the Arras-St. Pol road. On 6th January 1917 infantry, supported by a bombardment from the battery, made a successful daylight raid on the enemy trenches in front of Arras, forcing the enemy to evacuate.

On 27th January 1917 Walter had an accident in which he scalded his foot and he was sent to No. 6 Stationary Hospital in Frévent, and then to convalesce in Etaples. After he had recovered he was sent to the Base Depot and posted to the 173rd Siege Battery. This battery had just moved on 12th April to a position west of Lens. In the following ten weeks the battalion experienced a nightmare of hostile shelling during which there were many casualties. Walter was killed in action on 21st April 1917, aged 29.

Walter was buried in Bully Grenay Communal Cemetery, Grave II. E. 6.

Walter's widow and daughter moved to 31 Queen's Block, Stoney Lane, Houndsditch, London. Walter's brother William served with the 294th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery, was gassed in 1917, but survived the war.

  

Captain  Reginald Chamberlain Doidge

 

17th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers.

Killed in Action 2nd March 1916, Aged 26.

Buried Calonne-sur-la-Lys Communal Cemetery, A. 5. 

 

Reginald Chamberlain Doidge was born in 1891 at Buxton, Derbyshire, and baptised at nearby Fairfield, on 14th August 1892. He was the son of Nathaniel Smith Doidge, a shopkeeper and dealer in tin plate, and his wife Sarah (née Chamberlain) who were married in Buxton in 1890. Reginald had one younger brother Ellis.

From 1901 to 1911 the family lived at 40 Spring Gardens, Buxton, and by 1911 Reginald was a solicitor's articled clerk with Mr. Frederick Ashton of Nottingham. Admitted to the Law Society in 1913 Reginald subsequently practised as a solicitor in Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire. His parents and brother had moved to Ashton under Lyne and were living there at 102 Portland Street.

In 1914 Reginald enlisted with the South Notts Hussars as a Private. On 2nd April 1915 he was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant with the 17th (Service) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, a Bantam Battalion. Reginald joined the Fusiliers at Chadderton, near Oldham, and shortly afterwards moved with them to Masham, Yorkshire. In August 1915 his battalion moved again to Cholderton, Wiltshire.

At the end of 1915 Reginald obtained leave to marry Clara Harris, a dressmaker from Loughborough whom he had met when they were both working in Nottingham. After their marriage Clara remained with her parents at 96 Derby Road, Loughborough, and Reginald returned to his battalion in Wiltshire.

In January 1916 Reginald's battalion, which was then at Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury, received orders to proceed to France. They landed at Le Havre on 29th January 1916 and proceeded to Wizernes, south-west of St. Omer, for instruction in trench warfare. They left Wizernes on 8th February and marched to Wardrecques. On the following day Reginald was promoted to the temporary rank of Captain whilst holding the appointment of Brigade Grenade Officer for the 104th Infantry Brigade. On 11th February the battalion was inspected by Lord Kitchener. They remained in training at Wardrecques until 18th February when they marched via Thiennes, to Robecq-Calonne. From 21st to 27th February they were in the trenches at Gorre, after which they marched to Leslobes and then on to Robecq-Calonne.

Reginald was accidentally killed, aged 26, at 3.30pm on 2nd March while carrying out bomb instruction at Robecq-Calonne - the bomb he was using for his demonstration was defective. He was buried at Calonne-sur-la-Lys Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, Grave A5.

Reginald's brother Ellis served as a Gunner with the Royal Artillery and survived the war.

Private 5139 John Dolphin

 

2nd Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment).

Previously served in 4th (Extra Reserve) Bn and 1st Bn

Killed in Action 1st July 1917, Aged 27.

Commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Panels 87-89.

(His brother William Dolphin also fell see below) 

 

John Dolphin was born in 1889 in Nottingham, the son of James Dolphin and his wife Bridget (née Dyer) who were married in Nottingham in 1888. John was born before his father, who served for twelve years' service in England, Gibraltar, Egypt and India with the 2nd Battalion of the Derbyshire Regiment, was discharged from the Army. In 1901 John's father gave one more year's service to the Army, in the Ordnance Corps of the Third Royal Northern Reserve Regiment. When James Dolphin was not in the Army he was a slater's labourer.

John had three brothers James, William and Edwin and one sister Annie. In 1891 the Dolphin family lived at 12 Dead Lane, Loughborough, but by 1901 had moved to 46 Pomphret Street, off Warner Street, Nottingham. After John's mother died, aged 40, in 1905 the family split up.

In 1911 John, a loader at a coal mine, was with his brother James, a news vendor, in lodgings at 59 Red Lion Street, Nottingham. His brother William was in Crownhill Barracks, Plymouth, Devon, with the 2nd Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment). Edwin had moved to Liverpool and become an Ordinary Seaman. Annie, meanwhile, had been sent to the Convent and Home of the Good Shepherd, a reformatory for girls in East Finchley, Middlesex, and had become a laundry worker there. William's father initially remained in lodgings in Nottingham but returned to Loughborough and died in Loughborough in 1945.

On 29th August 1914 John enlisted at Nottingham with the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) and was assigned as Private 5139 to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion at East Boldon just north of Sunderland for training. The Battalion remained near Sunderland as part of the Tyne Garrison defending the north-east coastal area.

John's first two years with the Sherwood Foresters did not go well. By 28th September 1914 he had been awarded twenty-eight days detention. On 6th October 1914 he was given ten days Field Punishment No. 2 (placed in fetters and handcuffs but not attached to a fixed object). Just over one month later he was convicted of absenting himself without leave and losing by neglect his clothing and regimental necessaries.

On 18th May 1915 John was posted to the 1st Battalion and sent to France.

On 25th May the 1st Battalion came out of the heavily shelled trenches into the Divisional Reserve at Estaires for training, returning to the B Line trenches on 8th June to face much night-firing and sniping from the enemy. Further trench tours followed, with breaks at Laventie, Le Rouge Debout and Rue de Quesne. In early July the enemy was detected mining under the British trenches and the Royal Engineers exploded a mine under the enemy's trenches. On 6th July enemy activities caused a good many casualties.

While resting at Rue de Quesne on 12th July John was awarded eight days Field Punishment No. 1 (placed in fetters and handcuffs and attached to a fixed object for up to three days in every four) for highly irregular conduct. A few days later he was in trouble again for being absent from parade.

Further trench tours with some additional training took up the rest of July, most of August and the beginning of September. Day and night working parties also took place at the beginning of September and by 9th September there was much machine gun and rifle fire on both sides. On 21st September a heavy bombardment of the enemy began in the build-up to action at Bois-Grenier on the 25th. This attack was conceived as an adjunct and diversionary operation coinciding with the Battle of Loos. The battalion came under intense enemy machine gun fire and shelling and casualties from this action were very high.

John was sent back to England on 28th December 1915 and remained in England until 23rd August 1916. After being sent to the Depot he was moved on 7th February 1916 to the 3rd Battalion at East Boldon, Sunderland. On 21st February 1916 he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps but only ten days later he was retransferred back to the 3rd Battalion. On 13th June 1916 he was court-martialled at East Boldon and committed to one year's detention for striking his superior officer but on 19th August 1916 he was released and sent back to the 1st Battalion in France on 23rd August.

When John rejoined the 1st Battalion they had just come out of the trenches at Vermelles. The battalion spent September in the trenches or resting in the Fouquières area and the first half of October at Sandpits Camp near Albert before moving to Trônes Wood south of Longueval. In mid-November the battalion left Trônes Wood for the Château de Selincourt, near Dieppe, to undergo further training. On 29th December the battalion left Selincourt and entrained for Albert.

From 26th January to 4th March 1917 the battalion was operating in the Bouchevesnes sector, after which they moved via Moislains and Nurlu to Heudicourt. The Germans were retreating to the Hindenburg Line and the Allies were planning an attack on the enemy at nearby Gouzeaucourt which began on 12th April.

On 12th May 1917 John was once again transferred, this time to the 2nd Battalion. For a man of such slight stature (John was only just over 5ft 3in tall and only weighed 8 stone) he seems to have given the Sherwood Foresters quite a bit of trouble but the Regiment clearly detected his good qualities as they tried to find the right place for him.

In May and June 1917 the 2nd Battalion did several trench tours near Cité St. Elie, with breaks at Verquin, Vaudricourt and Philosophe. From 9th to 27th June there was musketry training, after which the battalion marched to Calonne and came under the orders of the Army's 46th Division. Three days later the battalion moved to the assembly lines for an operation south of Loos-en-Gohelle.

John was killed in action, aged 27, on 1st July 1917 at La Cité St. Théodore, Lens. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Panels 87-89. John's brother William also served with the Sherwood Foresters and died of wounds on 20th August 1917. His brother James served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but was discharged because of a leg deformity. His brother Edwin served with the Royal Naval Reserve and survived the war. John's sister Annie died in 1915, aged 20.

Private 10400 William Dolphin

 

9th Bn, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment).

Previously served as Private 1750 Sherwood Foresters.

Died of Wounds 20th August 1917, Aged 28.

Buried Brandhoek New British Cemetery No. 3, I. D. 28.

(His brother John Dolphin also fell see above) 

 

William Dolphin was born in 1891 in Loughborough, the son of James Dolphin and his wife Bridget (née Dyer) who were married in Nottingham in 1888. William was born shortly before his father, after twelve years' service in England, Gibraltar, Egypt and India with the 2nd Battalion of the Derbyshire Regiment, was discharged from the Army. In 1901 William's father gave one more year's service to the Army, in the Ordnance Corps of the Third Royal Northern Reserve Regiment. When James Dolphin was not in the Army he was a slater's labourer.

William had three brothers John, James and Edwin and one sister Annie. In 1891 the Dolphin family lived at 12 Dead Lane, Loughborough, but by 1901 had moved to 46 Pomphret Street, off Warner Street, Nottingham. After William's mother died, aged 40, in 1905 the family split up.

On 3rd January 1907 William, aged 17 and a general labourer for Messrs. Goldsmith and Co., cardboard makers of Nottingham, attested to serve for six years with the militia and joined the 4th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) as Private 1750. In 1911 William was in Crownhill Barracks, Plymouth, Devon, with the 2nd Sherwood Foresters while his brothers John, a collier, and James, a news vendor, were in lodgings at 59 Red Lion Street, Nottingham. Edwin had moved to Liverpool and become an Ordinary Seaman. Annie, meanwhile, had been sent to the Convent and Home of the Good Shepherd, a reformatory for girls in East Finchley, Middlesex, and had become a laundry worker there. William's father initially remained in lodgings in Nottingham but returned to Loughborough and died in Loughborough in 1945.

It seems likely that William was recalled at the outbreak of war in 1914 but exact details of his war service are unavailable as his papers have not survived. It is known, however, that as Private 10400 he served with the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. This was formed at Derby in August 1914 and came under the orders of the 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division. The battalion moved initially to Belton Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire, and then to Frensham, Surrey, on 4th April 1915. They sailed from Liverpool at the end of June 1915 via Mudros and landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay on 6th and 7th August. The 9th Sherwoods were in action near Hetman Char (also known as Hetman's field) south-east of Chocolate and Green Hills on the 9th and the 21st August. Both these actions were unsuccessful and the casualty figures very high.

On 19th and 20th December 1915 the 11th Division was withdrawn from Gallipoli, moving to Imbros then Egypt at the end of January 1916. The Division concentrated at Sidi Bishr and took over a section of the Suez Canal defences on 19th February. On 17th June 1916 the Division was ordered to France to reinforce the Third Army on the Somme.

The 9th Battalion left Alexandria on the H. T. Oriana at the end of June and arrived in Marseilles on 3rd July. From Marseille the battalion travelled by train to St. Pol. After training at Berneville the battalion was in the front line on the Somme near Arras on 27th July. From 19th August to 5th September there was further training at Gouy-en-Artois, Estrée-Wamin and Acheux before the battalion returned to the trenches south of Thiepval. The battalion took part in the capture of Wundt-Werk (Wonder Work) on 14th September and after a short break at Mailley-Maillet was in action at the battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th-22nd September) and the Battle of Thiepval Ridge ( 26th -28th September).

By 5th October the battalion had moved to Mesnil-Domqueur where they remained in training until 11th November. After moving via Coulonvillers, Montrelet , Martinsart and Vadencourt the battalion went into the trenches at Hedauville on 21st November. From 30th November until 16th December the battalion was at Engelbelmer providing working parties on the roads and in Aveluy Wood. On 17th December the battalion moved to the front at St. Pierre Divion, remaining there until 5pm. on Christmas Day when they returned to Engelbelmer.

In January 1917 there were further trench tours at St. Pierre Divion with breaks at Engelbelmer before a move to Coulonvillers for training at the end of the month until 15th February. The rest of February and most of March was taken up with working parties on the railways at Famechon. On March 24th the battalion moved to Orville and then to Vauchelles-les-Authie for training until 19th April when the battalion moved firstly to Bapaume and then at the beginning of May to Morchies for trench duties. After a move to Hermies from 7th to 15th May, followed by a rest at Montauban and Fricourt the battalion entrained at Albert for Caestre and marched to Godewaersvelde. On 24th May came another move to Westoutre for working parties and training. From 7th-11th June the battalion took part in an attack at Wytschaete (part of the battle of Messines) and then moved to Kemmel for salvage work. On 24th June the battalion moved to Renescure for training until 16th July when they went into the front line and support trenches north of Ypres. Here on 21st July the enemy bombarded them with high explosive and gas shells. On 29th July, while the battalion was in process of leaving the trenches for camp, they were again hampered by heavy enemy gas shelling.

On 16th August the battalion returned to Canal Bank, Ypres, and to the old British front line. On 17th August the enemy heavily shelled the battalion as it moved forward. Enemy shelling continued over the next three days. The point during the Battle of Langemarck when William was wounded is unknown but he died of his wounds on 20th August 1917, aged 28. He is buried in Brandhoek New British Cemetery Grave no. 3. I. D.

William's brother John who also served with the Sherwood Foresters was killed in action on 1st July 1917. His brother Edwin served with the Royal Naval Reserve and survived the war. His brother James served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but was discharged because of a leg deformity. William's sister Annie died in 1915, aged 20.
 

Second Lieutenant Lionel Dowding

 

2nd Bn. Leicestershire Regiment

Killed in Action Basra 7th January 1916, Aged 38.

Commemorated Basra Memorial Iraq. panel 12

 

Lionel Dowding was born in 1878 in Shepshed, the son of Walter Joseph Dowding, a coach painter, and Jane Dowding (née Savage), who were married in Loughborough on Christmas Day 1872. Lionel had seven brothers: Walter, Lawrence, Joseph, George, Hubert, Archie and William (died young) and two sisters Maria and Elizabeth. In 1881 the family home was at Cambridge Street, Loughborough, but by 1891 it was 45 Broad Street and Lionel was employed as an errand boy. By 1901 Lionel had left the family home at 29 Cattle Market, where his father was a licensed victualler of the Golden Fleece Hotel. Lionel's mother died in 1905 in Loughborough and his father later moved to Hinckley where he ran the Union Hotel.

Lionel had enlisted into the 1st Leicestershire Regiment in 1894. He was firstly with a detachment at St. Helena, joining the battalion at Cape Town in 1897. As Corporal 4182 he served with the 1st Battalion in the 2nd Boer War and was at the Siege of Ladysmith. He was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps for Dundee, Talana Hill, Laing's Nek and Belfast. He also had the King's Medal 1901-1902. In 1902 he was promoted to Colour-Sergeant and went to India where two years later he was promoted to Quartermaster-Sergeant. While in India he trained the football team which won the Army Cup.

Lionel returned home with the battalion in 1906 when he was appointed as an instructor at Sandhurst. On 26th August 1908 he married Martha Annie Gillett at Northleach, Gloucestershire. In 1911 he was stationed at Wellington Lines, Aldershot and on 7th November 1912 was appointed Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant. He was serving with the Battalion in Ireland in 1914. When war broke out the 1st Battalion moved to Cambridge before being sent to Flanders. Lionel was at the 1st Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914 and in November 1914 Lionel received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. In June and July 1915 the 1st Leicesters fought again at Hooge.

Lionel was posted to the 2nd Leicesters on 8th October 1915 and was ordered to the Persian Gulf where Britain was fighting Turkish forces allied to the Germans. In November he embarked at Marseilles and arrived at Basra in December 1915. From there he travelled by boat up the River Tigris to Ali Gharbi, 150 miles south-east of Baghdad.

In Mesopotamia General Townshend and his troops were under siege at Kut. On January 4th 1916 General Aylmer's leading troops, under Major General Younghusband, began to advance from Ali Gharbi towards Sheikh Sa'ad, with the intention of relieving General Townshend at Kut.

The Turkish commander Nur-Ur-Din had, however, effectively blocked any progress by placing approximately 22,500 troops and 72 guns on both banks of the Tigris at Sheikh Sa'ad, about 16 miles downstream from Kut. General Aylmer therefore ordered an attack on the enemy and very heavy fighting ensued on 7th January 1916 at the Battle of Sheikh Sa'ad, during which Lionel was killed in action. He was aged 38.

Lionel left a widow at 3 Glebe Road (afterwards of 4 Portland Road), West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire and three children Louisa born 1909, Lionel (junior) born 1911 and Doris (born after her father's died in 1916). His bronze memoriam plaque is with the Leicester City Museums Service. Lionel's widow died in 1918 and their daughter Louisa in 1923. What became of their other two children is unknown.

 

 

 

Private 15996 Tom Drury

 

1/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.                                                 

Killed in Action 6th July 1918. Aged 49.

Buried Pernes British Cemetery V. D. 49.

                    

 
Tom Drury was born in Eagle, Lincolnshire, on 29th June 1869 and baptised on 1st August 1869 at All Saints Church, Eagle. He was the son of William Drury, a farmer, and his first wife Ann (née Wood) who were married on 23rd October 1854 at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, South Hykeham, Lincolnshire. When Tom was born the Drury family was living in Village Street, Eagle, and his father was farming 96 acres. By 1881 they had moved to Thorpe on the Hill and his father had a larger farm of 291 acres. At Drury's Farm in 1883 there was a disastrous fire in several hayricks and the farm buildings only narrowly missed complete destruction. Fortunately the farm was well insured.

Tom had three brothers John, Charles and William and three sisters Mary Ann (known as 'Polly'), Sarah and Minnie. He also had a sister or half-sister, Betsy Drury Wood, born before his parents were married. When Tom was nine his mother died and on 5th June 1882 his father married Elizabeth Daybell at St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Tom's father and step-mother had one son Norris Drury, known as 'Dick', half-brother to Tom.

On 20th November 1885 Tom left Thorpe on the Hill to serve a five-year apprenticeship with Samuel White (Printers) of Newark, Nottinghamshire, and in 1885 also joined the 4th (Territorial) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters as Private 1888. In 1890, having completed his apprenticeship, Tom secured employment as a compositor with Alfred Clarke (Printers), Swan Street, Loughborough, and went into lodgings at 9 Albert Street. On 2nd August 1897 he married Lucy Warren at Holy Trinity Church, Loughborough, and the young couple set up home at 57 Oxford Street. Between 1898 and 1914 Tom worked for Will's Printers of Angel Yard, Loughborough. Tom became a member of the Loughborough Printers' Cricket Team and also a member of the Loughborough Bowls Team.

By 1908 Tom and Lucy had two children William and Eva and had moved to 115 Derby Road, Tom's wife was now a grocery dealer. By 1913 they had moved again to 74 Station Street and by 1915 to 28 Cattle Market. Lucy moved to 16 High Street in 1916. Between 1914 and 1918 Lucy was the school caretaker at Emmanuel School, Loughborough. In 1918 Lucy moved to Newlands, Leicester Road, Shepshed.

Tom enlisted at Loughborough Drill Hall on 21st September 1914 with his brother-in-law Thomas Ward Warren and friends. He was 44 years old, but informed the authorities that he was ten years younger. He was posted to the Depot of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 15452 but was almost immediately transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers) of the South Staffordshire Regiment as Private 15996. His brother-in-law was also transferred to the 9th South Staffordshires.

Pioneer battalions were intended to provide the Royal Engineers with skilled labour and to relieve the infantry from some of its non-combatant duties. These battalions became the work horses of the Expeditionary Forces and over three dozen County regiments each created at least one pioneer battalion. Adopting a badge of a cross rifle and pick, these battalions wired, dug and revetted in all weathers and in all terrains. On many occasions they abandoned their working tools and fought alongside the infantry in repelling enemy attacks.

Tom was sent to the Talavera Barracks, Aldershot, for training. Between March and May 1915 the 9th Battalion was employed on the defences of London and working on trenches between Westerham and Knockholt. In addition there was hard training with inspections. On May 24th the battalion moved to Bordon, Hampshire, and went into camp at Oxney Farm. At the end of July all ranks were given seven days leave. On August 16th the 23rd Division of the Army, of which the 9th Battalion was part, formed up at Hankley Common to be inspected by the King and the following day orders were received to proceed to France. Tom sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on 24th August 1915.

From Le Havre the Division went by train via St. Omer to Tilques. The Division then moved to the Armentières area until April 1916 with the 9th Battalion occupying billets at Fort Rompu, Erquinghem-Lys. They were fully occupied building shelters, communication trenches and dug-outs and making hurdles. As winter approached the men's health began to suffer, with a number of cases of scabies reported. Between 26th January and 8th February 1916 the battalion was relieved after a lengthy five month spell in the front line.

Tom must have been granted leave to the UK around this time as his younger son Lyn was born at 16 High Street, Loughborough on 29th December 1916.

Tom's battalion next served on the Souchez Front until June 1916 when it moved from Bouvigny to Ailly-sur-Somme, five miles west of Amiens in the Somme Department of Picardy.

On 1st July, the opening day of the Somme Offensive, the battalion marched from Rainville to Hénencourt Wood and on 3rd July to Bellevue Farm where they worked on a new communications line. From 5th-6th July the battalion was in the area of Becourt Wood, just behind the front line south-west of La Boiselle, where they had been ordered to convey stores. On 6th July an enemy shell dropped on their transport lines. Between 7th and 11th July the battalion carried grenades from Becourt Wood to the front line, after which they spent five days burying 1532 British and German soldiers and cleaning the battlefield.

From 17th-21st July the battalion was at St. Gratien for inspections followed by training at Baizieux until 25th. The rest of July was spent at Becourt Wood trench digging, wiring, and constructing dugouts and strongposts. The men also conducted convoys to Contalmaison, constructed a new dressing station at Fricourt and worked on the water supply from Lozenge Wood to Contalmaison. This work continued until 6th August when the enemy heavily shelled the whole area.

On 8th August the battalion marched to Béhencourt and on 10th to Frenchencourt where they entrained for Longpré and marched to Bussus. After inspections the battalion entrained at Longpré for Bailleul and marched to billets at Croix Rouge. Two days later they moved to Steenwerck for trench work, duckboarding and sandbagging in the front line at Oosthove Farm. They also cleaned the River Rebeque.

On 6th September the battalion left Oosthove Farm for Serques and had three days training. Following this they marched to Arques, entrained for Saleux and marched via Allonville to Bresle. From 13th September to 8th October the battalion was involved with road construction at Vivier Siding, building dugouts at Becourt Wood and Contalmaison village and a bomb store at Mametz Wood, carrying material for and laying a light railway, and trench work. While working at night in Becourt Wood the battalion incurred 43 casualties.

Between 9th and 16th October the battalion moved via Bresle, Albert, Longpré, Maison Ponthieu and Contalille to Hopoutre, south-west of Poperinghe, on the Ypres Salient. From here some of the men were attached to the 2nd Canadian Tunnelling Company while the rest carried material for the tramway, drained and cleaned trenches, and worked at the Ramparts and Railway Cutting, Ypres. On 23rd October the battalion transferred to Vancouver Camp for work on the Ypres-Poperinghe railway. November and December 1916 and January and early February 1917 were spent working at Ypres Ramparts, Sanctuary Wood and Pacific Siding and also mining with the 2nd Canadian Tunnelling Company.

On 5th February 1917 Tom was posted to 5 GHQ Ammunition Park at Les Trois Rois, near Hazebrouck, Flanders, for duty under the Purchase Room of the Second Army. 5 GHQ Ammunition Park was an Army Service Corps Machine Transport Company which was one of the stages in the chain of ammunition replenishment. The Park also coordinated a fleet of lorries to distribute supplies.

On 4th April the Park moved to Bavinchove, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, and on 9th April to Hesdin, Pas de Calais, with billets at Marconne. On 11th April the Park Headquarters was moved to Doullens amid considerable difficulty as many roads in the area were impassable and quite unsuitable for motorised transport. On 24th and 25th April the whole unit moved to Château d'Hénencourt. There were still problems, however, as some of the Officers knew nothing about motorised transport and replacement parts had to be sourced from Amiens and Steenbecque. Consequently the Park Headquarters moved twice before 9th May, to Norrent Fontes and then to Barlin. On 1st July there was a fire at the Purchasing Office hay store.

At the beginning of August Tom was posted to the Reinforcement Camp for the Army's 23rd Division at Etaples to serve as Mess Cook to the Officers.

On 12th September Tom briefly rejoined the 9th South Staffordshires at Hessenhook, Dickebusch and Zillebeke for work on assembly positions, tramway construction, slab laying, filling shell holes and wiring amid some heavy enemy shelling. The 9th Battalion had just moved to billets in Flêtre and Caestre for training when Tom was reposted again to the 1/6th Battalion on 13th October. He joined this battalion on the 27th October but was only with them for eight days.

Shepshed War Memorial

On 3rd November Tom was reposted to the 240th Divisional Employment Company of the Labour Corps, part of the Army's 46th (North Midland) Division, as Private 474167.

A Divisional Employment Company of the Labour Corps was attached to the Headquarters of the Division and moved with it. It consisted of lower graded men who were physically less capable and included, clerks, batmen, runners, cooks in messes, Divisional Concert Party, sock depot, laundry and bath units and also supplied men to the sanitary and salvage sections.

Tom was sent to the small chateau of Les Charmeaux at Gosnay near Bruay to be an Officers' cook. He was killed on 6th July 1918, aged 49, when a shell hit the mess. He was buried in Pernes British Cemetery Grave V. D. 49.

In a letter to Tom's widow the Camp Commandant said that a shell destroyed the billet in which he was working. He added that 'Tom was well thought of by officers and men by his unfailing willingness to help, many times in trying conditions'.

Tom is commemorated on the memorial in Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, and on the Carillon. He is also remembered on the memorial plaque and memorial scroll at St. Botolph's Church, Shepshed, and on the Shepshed War Memorial.

Tom's elder son Lance Corporal William Edward Drury served with the 2/5th and 11th Battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment. He was wounded in action on 9th May 1917 but survived the war.

Tom's widow was remarried on 24th April 1920 at Loughborough Register Office to a widower James William Dean and went to live at Mapperley, Nottingham. Tom and Lucy's younger son Lyn sadly died, aged four, in Nottingham General Hospital on 7th April 1921.

Private 4675 Albert Victor Duckitt

 

1/5th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Killed in Action 6th August 1916, Aged 19.

Buried Hannescamps New Military Cemetery. C. 8. 

 

Albert Victor Duckitt was born in 1897 in York, the son of Samuel Brown Duckitt and his wife Alice Maud (née Bean) who were married in York in 1896. Albert was baptised on 1st September 1897 at the New Street Methodist Chapel in York. In 1901 Albert was living with his parents at 2 Ebor Street, Bishopthorpe Road, York, and Albert's father was a locomotive engine fitter. Albert had one younger brother Herbert, born in 1902.

Between 1902 and 1909 the Duckitt family moved to Loughborough and Albert joined the Emmanuel Bible Class. In 1911 Albert and Herbert were living with their mother at 32 Derby Square, Loughborough. Albert's father Samuel Brown Duckitt, however, was no longer with them and Albert's mother was earning her living as a charwoman as well as looking after two lodgers Albert Swann a joiner, and William Wood a widowed clerk. According to Duckitt family legend Albert's father, having got into difficulties running a pub, disappeared in 1909 to America. Samuel Brown Duckitt certainly made a successful application for employment as a Switchman at Spokane Station (north-west USA) with the US North Pacific Railway Company on 16th December 1909. When he applied he said he was aged 35, born in Loughborough and that his wife was Maria Duckitt of Loughborough, none of which was exactly accurate.

On 4th November 1915 Albert, aged 19, who was working at Messrs. T. Barker and Sons, builders, as a plumber attested at Loughborough and joined the 2/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 4675. On 24th May 1916 he was transferred to the 1/5th Reserve Battalion and sent to France on the following day. Albert joined his new battalion in the field at Humbercamps, south-west of Arras, on 19th June. Here the 1/5th Leicesters were working on improvements to trenches in the area while being subjected to occasional shelling and artillery fire from the enemy. On 21st June the battalion was relieved and proceeded to billets at Warlincourt. On 30th June the battalion returned to the trenches, this time at Fonquevillers in preparation for the attack at Gommecourt.

On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, the 46th Division of the Army, of which the 1/5th Leicesters were part, had 2445 casualties at Gommecourt. Albert survived this battle and on 3rd July went with his battalion into billets at Bienvillers. On 7th July they relieved the 4th Lincolnshires in the trenches opposite Essarts. The battalion remained in the Hannescamps/Bailleulmont area for the following eight months. Albert was killed in action on 6th August 1916, aged 19.

In 1921 Albert's body was exhumed and re-buried at Hannescamps New Military Cemetery, almost 11 miles north of Albert, Grave C. 8.

Albert's father stayed in the USA. In 1924 he was living in Miami, Florida, and earning his living as a 'peddler' but by 1927 he had moved to 732 Olivia, Key West, Florida and was an ice-cream seller. He died in 1932 in Sarasota, Florida. Albert's mother must have assumed that her husband had died long before this as she married her lodger Albert Swann, in Loughborough in 1917. As there is no trace of a divorce her second marriage is likely to have been bigamous.

Albert is remembered on the memorial at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, as well as on the Carillon.

Private 13058 Arthur Dunn

 

8th Bn, Leicestershire Regiment.

Died a Prisoner Germany 7th June 1917, Aged 23.

Buried Cologne Southern Cemetery. X. H. 4.

 

 
 
Arthur Dunn was born in 1893 in Loughborough. He was the son of Thomas Dunn and his second wife Mary (née Martin) who were married at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough, on 14th April 1888. Thomas and Mary Dunn firstly lived in Woodgate, Loughborough, then at 43 Pinfold Gate, and Thomas was a labourer at Cotton's Iron Works. Arthur had two brothers Herbert and Frederick and one sister Mary Jane. By 1911 the Dunn family had moved to 17 King Street and Arthur, now 18, was a hosiery hand for a hosiery manufacturers.

Arthur enlisted at Loughborough in September 1914 and joined the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 13058. From the Depot he was sent firstly to Aldershot for training and then to Shorncliffe, Kent, in February 1915. In April 1915 Arthur's battalion became part of the newly established 37th Division of Kitchener's 2nd New Army and the Division began to concentrate on Salisbury Plain. On 25th June the units were inspected by King George V at Sidbury Hill. On 22nd July the Division began to cross the English Channel and Ernest travelled to France on 29th July 1915. Initially the 37th Division concentrated near Tilques.

The 8th Battalion then moved to Wulverghem and Berles-au-Bois, a short distance from the front line. In the months that followed the 8th Battalion did tours in the trenches, alternating with the 6th Leicesters who relieved them. They were Involved in operations in Bailleul, Le Bizet, Armentières, Mondicourt, Beauval and Berles-au-Bois. In February 1916 John came home on a short furlough.

In April 1916 Arthur moved with the 8th Leicesters to the Doullens area for six weeks cleaning up, resting and training. In mid-May the battalion returned once more to the trenches in the Bienvillers-Bailleulmont sector, but nearer Gommecourt. In June there were nightly excursions into No-Man's Land attempting to gather information on the enemy's dispositions and daily working parties to repair the British barbed wire entanglements. The situation became increasingly hazardous as the month wore on when the Germans began to use a new and more accurate type of trench mortar.

The 8th Battalion did not participate in the first days of the Somme Offensive but was held in reserve. at Humbercamps, Talmas, and Soues. On 10th July the battalion marched to Ailly-sur-Somme, entrained for Méricourt and travelled from there by lorry to bivouacs in Méaulte. Between 10th and 13th July the battalion was in the trenches near Fricourt and subjected to fairly continuous enemy fire.

On the 14th July the battalion was in action at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge. After the battle the battalion withdrew to Ribemont and then to Méricourt, and having entrained for Saleux, marched to Soues. At the end of July the battalion moved by train and on foot to St.-Quentin-Lattre and went into the trenches at Arras until 2nd September with rest breaks at Agnez-les-Ouisans. After this there was training at Lignereuil until 13th September when the battalion marched to Frevent and entrained for Dernancourt. On 15th they reached a point between Fricourt and Méaulte before proceeding to Trônes Wood on 16th.

From 17th-23rd September the battalion was in reserve and supporting the troops in the front line by providing carrying parties. In the evening of 24th September the battalion took up battle positions and on the following day, the start of the Battle of Morval, launched a successful attack on the right of Flers and then pressed on to Gueudecourt, Considerable losses, however, were suffered in this action.

After Morval the battalion withdrew to Dernancourt, entrained for Longpré and marched to Pont Remy before transferring to the Hohenzollern Reserve, support and frontline trenches. The battalion remained in the Hohenzollern sector, with breaks at Mazingarbe and Vermelles until 15th December when they marched to billets in the candle factory at Béthune. From there the battalion moved to Auchel where they remained until 26th January 1917 training. On 28th December the troops were entertained by a Lena Ashwell concert party.

From Auchel the men moved to Winnezeele to continue training in tactical manoeuvres before returning to Béthune and the front line trenches at Sailly Labourse. In April 1917 the battalion moved to Hamelincourt and occupied the Outpost Line on the Hénin-Croisilles road until 13th April, then transferred to Bailleulmont for training before going into support at St. Leger. On 3rd May the battalion took part in an attack on the village of Fontaine-lès-Croisilles where casualties were high.

At this point Arthur appears to have been taken a prisoner of war by the Germans. He died in Germany on 7th June 1917, aged 23. He was buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery. His mother received a letter from Pte. G. Vickers of the Royal Scots, which said: 'I beg to offer you the deepest sympathy of myself and all the English in the camp. Having been a Church of England missioner in England I conducted the funeral service. You can rest assured that he was laid to rest with the full blessing of the Church. The service was attended by non-coms, and men, and was touching in its reverence and simplicity. I need say no more except that he died like a true soldier and English Gentleman'.

Arthur's brother Herbert served with the Lincolnshire Regiment but was discharged in 1915 as medically unfit.