Great War Centenary Project
For The Fallen ‘We Shall Remember Them’
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Great War Centenary Project
THE FALLEN of All Saints and Holy Trinity Loughborough
Charnwood Great War Centenary Project is a partnership led by Charnwood Arts: CEO Kevin Ryan FRSA, administrator Terry Allen, book design and layout Natalie Chabaud. Principal authors: Bill Brookman, Janet Grant, Penny White, Alison Mott and Kevin Ryan. Research coordinator, community history and communications: Janet Grant. All Saints Parish Church: Chris Harvey and Revd. Wendy Dalrymple from an original idea by Revd. Rachel Ross and Janet Grant. Heritage, partnerships and outreach: Dr Madeleine Coburn, Participation in Action. Principal researchers: Penny White, Dennis Powdrill, Dr Duncan MacNeil, Alison Mott, Val Wilson, Anne Williams, Hazel Fish, Dr Eric Macintyre, John Brindley and many others. We are indebted to Mel Gould, curator of the Carillon Memorial Museum, Peter Minshall, Marigold Cleve, Karen Ette, Derrick Hewitt, Kevin Mitchell, Phillip Thorne and Rebecca Abrahams. Additional photography by Dennis Powdrill, Bill Brookman and Kevin Ryan. Illustrations by Paul Gent and Peter Massey. Proofing by Gail Hastilow, Jennifer Sturdy, Malcolm Barsby, Jenny Jones and others. Responsibility for errors is our own but we are indebted to the following for their expertise: the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire Colonel R M L Colville TD DL, Brigadier W J Hurrell CBE DL, Professor Matthew Seligmann, Michael Woods MA, Professor John Young, Dr John Sutton, Dr Jim Beach, Cynthia Brown, East Midlands Oral History Archive, Simon Lake Curator of Fine Art Leicester City Council, David Humberston, Valerie Jacques, Roy Birch and others from the Western Front Association (Leicester Branch). There are many more, including: Chris Knight, Alan Emberson, Trevor Shaw and Maureen McKenzie, Churchwardens at All Saints, Rosemary Parry, the Bill Brookman Foundation, Charnwood Orchestra, Loughborough Choir and Church Choirs, Loughborough Childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Choir, Mariaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Singers, Jan Robertson, Claire Gregson, Anila Sisodia, Sam Biswas, Birstall Library Crafts Group, Margaret Baker, Lynne Dyer and finally Joan Ward, parishioner and Hilda Onions, aged 106 who both died during the creation of this book. Architects: Acanthus Clews. Conservators: Sally Strachey Conservation. Contractors: Norman & Underwood.
Find a Name The WW1 names on the three panels of All Saints and Holy Trinity memorials, plus two on back pews of the Burton Chapel, are here. (The highest panels you see are from WW2). Follow the page number to find details about each name within our chronology of the war. Some records are sparse having been destroyed in the Blitz. Non-local families or those in non-local regiments were harder to trace. Some families left little written record.
Ainsworth, William Aldridge, Alfred G. Allen, Walter Armstrong, N. Walter
p 21 p 25 p 30 p 124
Barradell, George H. Barrow, Howard Cyril Barsby, Eric Graham Barsby, Ernest J. Benskin, Frank Benson, Sidney Birkin, Robert Black, Arthur Brookes, Alec Brooks, Thomas
p 101 p 103 p 111 p 48 p 56 p 121 p 107 p 53 p 60 p 42
Callis, Leonard Chapman, Arthur Donald Chapman, Hubert Frank Chapman, John Clarke, William F. Collumbell, Frank Alfred Collumbell, William Edgar Copson, George Henry Cotton, Chris(-tianus) Coulson, Frank
p 114 p 71 p 91 p 47 p 51 p 79 p 79 p 68 p 114 p 53
Dakin, Percy Godfrey Davies, Wilfred Dewar, David ‘Sonnie’ Dewar, Lancelot ‘Jack’ Diggle, Bertie
p 84 p 127 p 113 p 87 p 43
Eaton, John Henry
Fisher, Arthur Merton
Giles, George Grimbley, Charles M. Godber, John William Graves, W.* Gutteridge, John F.
p 123 p 85 p 97 note p9 p 111
Hague, Frederick A.W. Hague, George
p 81 p 122
Hague, Leonard Gibson Haigh, Joseph R. Hancox, Albert Frederick Harvey, John Albert Hawker, Gilbert Edwin Haywood, Herbert Henman, Reginald Hill, John Henry Hulin, William Caleb
p 106 p 114 p 119 p 105 p 44 p 123 p 111 p 61 p 106
James, Albert Leonard Jacques (Jacque), Eric Ivor (Ivo) Jarram, Bernard
p 100 p 82 p 114
Kealey, Henry Percy
Lane, Richard Albert Farmer Lawrence, John Charles Leslie, Alexander William Loader, Cecil Ernest
p 54 p 55 p 98 p 109
Manley, Alfred Manning, Reginald Frank Manning, William Ernest Marriott, Edward Revell Matthews, George H. Mayson, Robert Metcalfe, Morton Monk, George William Moore, Herbert Bolton Murdock, Walter
p 85 p 127 p 117 p 55 p 78 p 21 p 116 p 83 p 100 p 48
Palmer, Arthur F. Palmer, Edwin Paltridge, Alfred John Parker, George Charles Partridge, Harold Cubiss Perkins, Albert Perkins, Norman George Phipps/Pilkington, Arthur Phipps/Pilkington, John Herbert Pitts, Francis Burton Powell, John Humphrey
p 38 p 57 p 120 p 44 p 98 p 105 p 127 p 83 p 124 p 99 p 99
Robinson, Walter George Routledge, William Arthur Rowbotham, Albert
p 98 p 25 p 80
Screaton, Cecil Edward Screaton, Herbert S. Sharp, Walter Smalley, Thomas Smith, Herbert Spencer, George* Spencer, Sidney George Spicer, David Squire, James Henry Stenson, Harry
p 101 p 116 p 116 p 29 p 110, 126 note p9 p 112 p 85 p 104 p 67
Taylor, Arnold Bradley Taylor, George W. M. Taylor, Gerard Bardsley Taylor, John William Thorne, Charles Thorpe, Charles Clarence Thorpe, Thomas A. Tomlinson, Richard Forman Trussell, Edward C. Turner, Roger Bingham Tyler, Jim Tyler, Thomas*
p 71-73 p 101 p 71-73 p 71-73 p 51 p 49 p 90 p 88 p 32 p 62-63 p 110 note p9
Unwin, Herbert Bernard
Wade, Sidney Waldron, John Walker, John Walker, Wilson Wareham, Arthur Wareham, Harry West, Frederick Wheatley, John Charles Whiteman, Sidney Wilkins, John William
p 56 p 80 p 117 p 90 p 99 p 29 p 105 p 122 p 107 p 101
Contents Acknowledgements ……..........………......….....……… Names of the Fallen ……...……............................… Maps …...………………………………………......….......…… Introduction ……......................……....….......….....… The War Memorials ……...…………………………..…..… Loughborough - An Industrial Market Town ........ War Is Declared ……...…………………….........………..… The Leicestershire Regiments ……...……..............…
4 5 7 8 10 12 16 18
1914 The Aisne ............................................................. Songster - Charnwood’s Warhorse ....................... The First Winter ................................................... The Christmas Truce .............................................
20 22 24 26
1915 Neuve Chapelle, Hill 60, Artois ............................. ‘The Brush’………………..…..……….…………................. Aubers Ridge at Artois ......................................... Zeppelin Raid on Loughborough (1916) ............... Gallipoli & Salonika ……......................................... The Role of Sport ……............................................ Frezenberg Ridge, 2nd Ypres ................................ May - September ……………………….........…............. The Chapman Family …………................................. Hohenzollern, Battle of Loos …............................. Into the Third Year .......................................….….. Parcels To and Letters From The Front .................
28 30 32 33 36 39 42 46 46 50 52 58
1916 Mesopotamia ……................................................. Loughborough Grammar School .......................... Schools in Loughborough ..................................... Jutland …............................................................... The Somme, Day One ……….................................. The Taylor Bellfoundry Family …..........…............... Women on The Home Front …........…................... The Somme, the Next 140 Days ........................... The Collumbell Family …………………...………............ The Somme, Guedecourt ……………..………............. The Somme, Ancre .…………..……………................... 1917 January - March ………........................................... Food and Food Shortages .................................... Herbert Schofield and Loughborough Technical Institute’s Instructional Factory ............................ Spring Offensive ................................................... June - July ……....................................................... Passchendaele ...........................…….....………...….. Polygon Wood ...................................................... Palestine .........................................................…… HMS Leasowe Castle ……......…...................…...…… Winter .………….................................……………....…. 1918 Ludendorff Offensive ........................................... ‘Morris Cranes’ …………………................................. Amiens, the Black Day for the German Army ....... The Hundred Days Offensive ................................ ‘Spanish flu’ ....................…………....….....…............ Post-Armistice ...................................……….....…… Remembrance and Loughborough’s Famous Carillon War Memorial ...........................……... All Saints With Holy Trinity Church ....................... Charnwood Great War Centenary Project .............
60 62 64 66 70 71 74 78 79 84 86 90 92 94 96 100 102 104 108 109 110 112 115 118 120 123 126 128 130 132
Sources and Bibliography ……..…......... 138 Glossary ……..…………. 139 ‘For the Fallen’ ……..… Back cover
Peace with Motherhood and Work during the memorial restoration, 2015.
Our parishes lost fighting men to nearly all the campaigns of the First World War
Selective map of the Western Front German penetration September 1914 Approximate line at end of 1914 Approximate line March 1918 Approximate line July 1918 Approximate line 11 November 1918
2) 1915-17: Ypres claims Walter Allen at Hill 60, Bertie Diggle and the Yeomanry at Frezenberg and Lieut Howard Barrow at Passchendaele.
6) 1918: Mons, ending where it began. In the march to victory Spanish Flu claimed Herbert Haywood.
3) 1916: “Leicester’s Darkest Day” at Hohenzollern in the Battle of Loos takes Charles Thorne. 4) 1916: The Somme claims Donald Chapman and many more.
1) 1914: The British retreat from Mons (a) to the Marne (b) and fight back to the Aisne (c) where Sgt William Ainsworth dies.
5) 1918: The Germans are stopped at Amiens, Albert Hancox dies.
Selective map of British world campaigns 5) June 1916: Battle of Jutland, Harry Stenson dies as HMS Queen Mary explodes.
7) March 1917: Arthur Fisher’s ship hits a mine off Hoy.
German and Austrian conquests 1914-1918 British, French and Russian conquests
Occupied by Germany after treaty of BrestLitovsk March-November 1918
1) 1914-18: The Western Front and the great Leicestershire slaughters of Hill 60, Frezenberg, Hohenzollern, Gommecourt and Bazentin Wood.
A U S T R I A - H U N G A RY Caporetto
M E D I T E R R A N
4) Jan. 1916: Mesopotamia, the 2nd Leicesters fail the rescue at Kut, which claims Pte. Alec Brooks amongst others.
N S E A
6) Sept. 1916: Fred Palmer dies at the Military Hospital, Malta.
3) Jan. 1916: Salonika Campaign fails to sever German rail link from Berlin to Turkey. Fever eventually kills CSM George Taylor.
2) 1915: Gallipoli and the tribulations of Fred Palmer’s IX Corps. 9) 1918: Hussar Jim Tyler dies when Leasowe Castle is torpedoed in Mediterranean returning from Alexandria.
8) Nov. 1917: Palestine, Cecil Loader dies under shellfire.
INTRODUCTION In 2014, as the centenary of World War One approached, it was recognised that the war memorials of All Saints Church and the decommissioned Holy Trinity Church should be more appropriately positioned. The All Saints memorial was hard to see in the North Transept and its name plaques lay loose under the altar. The old Holy Trinity Church memorial had lain on the floor since it was rescued from a council garage by the Loughborough Branch of the Royal British Legion. The Charnwood Great War Centenary Project repositioned the memorials onto the North Aisle wall of All Saints Church in 2014. Volunteers then researched the names of the fallen, which resulted in this book. In addition there were community consultations, solemn commemoration, heritage activities, exhibitions, a peace vigil and patchwork peace hangings, conferences, debates, concerts and events. The project received a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and further funds from the ‘At Risk War Memorials Project for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’ for the work at All Saints. The men commemorated at All Saints and Holy Trinity were lost in all Britain’s great theatres of the First World War, except East and South-West Africa, and also during the subsequent flu pandemic. We have decided to present, with some groupings of brothers, the names in chronological order of mortal affliction and by campaign. Thus this book reads as a history in miniature of World War One through the price paid during those terrible years. We also make reference to facets of life and other events occurring in Loughborough and the surrounding areas immediately before and after the war. World War One touched the lives of all the citizens of Loughborough: young men from many families were lost or maimed, from the wealthiest living in the ‘posh’ houses on Ashby Road to the ‘ordinary’ private from the crowded industrial backstreets of the town such as Wellington Street and Salmon Street. There was a general culture of duty and service to God and Country, fostered by the Churches and semi-military youth organisations such as the Boy Scouts and the Church Lads’ Brigade. Only a few conscientious objectors made the connection between “thou shalt not kill” and not doing one’s duty to God and the King. It would be wrong to judge anyone by modern standards. The Rector of All Saints was Thomas Pitts (1885-1917), he lost his son Francis Burton Pitts. The Rector of Holy Trinity was Donald Dewar, he lost both his sons, Sonnie and Jack. All three of them are listed on our monuments. These three ‘boys’ went to feepaying schools.
Some of those lost were the sons of well-known town officials and dignitaries – such as Norman and Albert Perkins, the two sons of the town clerk (he was also churchwarden at St Peter’s church) whose names are carved on pews at the back of the Burton Chapel. Richard Farmer Lane – he was a bellhanger and bellringer who worked in John Taylor’s foundry and lived near to the foundry in Freehold Street. William Ainsworth, Frank ‘China’ Coulson, Eric Jacques – all were equal in death. They were equal in death whatever their status and education had been in life, which is why the Commonwealth War Graves Commission decided that every soldier’s grave should be of the same design. The committee which commissioned the memorial at All Saints included Canon Pitts. It was decided to inscribe the names of All Saints’ war dead on its memorial undistinguished by differences in rank or education. On the other hand the committee that commissioned Holy Trinity’s memorial decided to include these details of rank, as did the Brush factory. Each parish and workplace had its own fundraising plans and debates about the form that the memorials should take. The treasurer of the All Saints’ committee decided that he would stand down, as after considering several different designs and locations for the memorial, he did not approve of the design that was chosen.
* Sadly we can find no record of a W. Graves who appears as a late addition on the Holy Trinity memorial. Perhaps it refers to a list of War Graves? * We have been unable to identify George Spencer with certainty. A George Spencer was born in 1892 to parents Thomas and Louise living in Dead Lane in 1911 – this is the only one we can find but we have evidence he died in 1977! He married Polly, Frank Benskin’s sister. * It is sad that we can find no information at all for Thomas Tyler. All the names for the All Saints memorial were put on display for parishioners to check before the memorial was completed in 1923 so they were remembered then even as they elude us now...
Illustration by former Ladybird Books artist Peter Massey
THE WAR MEMORIALS The congregation of Loughborough Parish Church took over three years, until 1923, to provide its war memorial (which now lies uppermost on the North Aisle wall) for a cost of about £450. It was made by Joseph Morcom, ARCA, who taught at Leicester School of Art. (The lower wooden plaque is from Holy Trinity Church, for which no information has been found.) Morcom’s memorial is remarkable for its complexity. A top tier of Derbyshire alabaster comprises ‘Motherhood’ with child, ‘Peace’ with wreath and palm representing victory, and ‘Industry’ with hammer and cogwheel.
The exhortation ‘Remember’ surmounts two marble corbels which support the entire weight. The two upper panels contain 30 names from WW2 and three more hold the names of 84 men of the parish from WW1. The lower memorial made of wood and bronze containing 28 WW1 and 8 WW2 names was rescued from the decommissioned Holy Trinity Church. The name ‘Dewar’ appears twice. ‘Sonnie’ and ‘Jack’ were the sons of the vicar, Revd. Dewar.
Wreaths, in green marble, flank a centrepiece cross and crown in glory.
At the bottom are crossed and laurel-wreathed Lee-Enfield .303 rifles. Laurel represents victory; had it been of olive the wreath would represent peace.
A sailor with a rope, the symbol for eternity and a soldier flank the local Swithland slate dedication.
Two more names are carved on pews at the back of the Burton Chapel against the South wall.
Three friezes represent civil and military wartime services: airman, priest (curiously Russian in appearance), a doctor with single ear-piece stethoscope, farm-girl with hoe, nurse, industrial girl worker, miner with lamp, farmer with shovel and string tied round his calves to stop rats running up his trouser-legs and an industrial worker in a boiler-suit holding a measuring caliper. Low – or ‘bas’ – reliefs along the elaborate pedestal show a gun (was this a coastal gun modified for trench-use?), a biplane and a Dreadnought battleship. Just visible to its right is an airship, and finally a tank firing its 6lb gun and machine gun.
Lisa Etherton of Sally Strachey Historic Conservation Ltd. with David Spragg of architects Acanthus Clews directs the repositioning of the memorials, while Phil Semmens of Norman & Underwood specialist builders, a member of the press, Madeleine Coburn of the project and Brian Eaton of Norman & Underwood look on. (Courtesy Bill Brookman)
Jill Vincent, Chris Harvey, Bill Brookman, Kevin Ryan, Dennis Kenyon, Madeleine Coburn, Janet Grant, Chris Stephens. (Courtesy Bill Brookman)
LOUGHBOROUGH - AN INDUSTRIAL MARKET TOWN The market town of Loughborough had been expanding rapidly during the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries as rural populations migrated to the town to work in its factories. Situated in the middle of England with a good road, rail and canal network, Loughborough was becoming an important industrial centre. Its situation made it suitable to trade with both the North and the South of England.
Other industries followed Taylors, especially on the back of the hosiery industry – The Nottingham Manufacturing Company, needlemakers such as Grudgings, the Brush, the Empress Works of Herbert Morris, Coltmans the boiler makers and Messengers, makers of conservatories.
In 1838, the churchwardens of All Saints Parish church decided that their bells needed recasting and put the job out to tender. The contract was won by John Taylor and Sons of Oxford providing that this re-casting should take place in Loughborough.
Loughborough was famous for knitwear which employed many people. Cartwright and Warners (which became Towles), I and R Morley and Merino Spinning Mills on Nottingham Road, Charles Lowe in Clarence Street, Wright’s Mill in Mill Street (now Market Street), G Braund in Woodgate and Handford and Millers were the chief employers. Clarkes Dyeworks in Devonshire Square, the Whitegate Dyeworks and Godkins in Meadow Lane employed dyers and finishers.
Consequently, in 1859 a purpose-built bell foundry was established in Freehold Street where it remains to this day. The poignant story of the losses endured by the affluent Taylor family mirrors the suffering of countless others, men and women of all social classes during the period of the Great War.
Apart from the larger industries there was an active commercial sector and smaller scale specialist ‘craft’ enterprises and family businesses. As the town grew some of these also extended out to some of the surrounding villages developing into larger scale industrial scale production units.
The Herbert Morris factory occupied an extensive canal side location and was a target of the 1916 Zeppelin Raid
For a town so relatively small Loughborough was well endowed with railway stations - the Great Central Station above, the GNW station on Derby Road and the mainline station on the Nottingham Road side of town.
Loughborough had its own gas works off Greenclose Lane. Gas was the chief means of lighting in most houses either with a centre light or wall brackets in each room. The Corporation also had its own electricity generating station situated in the Rushes. The station supplied the smaller factories with direct current. The larger firms like Morris and the Brush had their own generators with steam engines and boilers.
Things were improving in Loughborough and there was a lively sense of community as can be seen from the 1911 Coronation celebration pictures. A. E. Shepherd wrote “The year 1914 began all bright and pointed towards the country being very prosperous. Trade was good and the standard of living was rising. Loughborough was recovering from the Brush Strike and trade generally in the town was very good.” Mr Oswin who was born on Wharncliffe Road reports:
Life in the early part of the century was tough for many, there was widespread hardship and poverty: basic housing in the town centre consisting of ‘two up two downs’ with communal outside toilets that had been erected quickly to meet workers’ needs. Many were located in a series of ‘courts’ around the centre of the town giving quite a tight or cramped feel to the area. Other areas such as Storer Road, Park Road and the Frederick Street area had more substantial housing built for the rising population of more skilled industrial workers and clerical, administrative and service providers.
“Unemployment was almost unknown and life was ruled by the factory hooters, each one having its own individual note. By far the biggest employer was the Brush Works making tramcars, railway carriages and also electrical machinery. During the Great War, however, the Brush was employed in building fighter aeroplanes and these were flown from the Big Meadow by the Test Pilot, Teddy Barr, who eventually became landlord of the Golden Fleece. One of the planes was put on show in the Town Hall to encourage people to invest in War Savings... “
The scale of Fearon Hall and the naming of Fearon Street alongside St Peter’s church and Fearon’s Fountain in the Market Place are a testament to the Archdeacon’s impact on the town - drawing by Paul Gent for People Making Places.
Loughborough was a strongly religious town with the churches of Emmanuel and All Saints full to capacity. Thanks to the foresight of Archdeacon Fearon and the Reverend Pitts of All Saints and the generosity of Edward Cartwright who provided land and other help, Holy Trinity Church was consecrated in 1878 and St Peter’s church on Storer Road in 1913. In those days before the welfare state, these churches provided social, spiritual and practical help to the populace in a way that is once again becoming familiar in the town. There were numerous chapels and other denominations. Many of the young soldiers would have attended church several times a week, twice for Bible class on a Sunday, followed by the standard church services. Clubs such as the Band of Hope and the semimilitary Church Army and the Church Lads’ Brigade were ever popular. At the time of the 1911 census the population of the town was just under 23,000 people. Of course Loughborough was also the market centre of a large surrounding area of agricultural land and communities extending beyond Loughborough into the Forest, South Nottinghamshire, the Wolds, South East Derbyshire and the Soar Valley. Beyond that it was also known as a centre of entertainment, commerce and employment for outlying areas. 14
Here’s an amusing tale from one of the annual fairs before the war! “The “Brooklyn Cake-Walk” was an instant hit and became a regular at the fair. ‘Hall’s Galloping Pigs’ performed, appropriately, in the Cattle Market. Jerry Thompson, “the 10 Stone Champion of the World” took on all comers. It was not unusual for over 1,000 people to travel from Shepshed to Loughborough on the last Saturday night of the fair. One year in the 1900s, over 500 people crammed into the last train back to Shepshed, overstraining the engine, which refused to budge. A shuttle service had to be organised to pick up the stranded revellers which operated until well into the Sunday morning.” Loughborough’s livestock market was also a lively place for interaction and no doubt attracted a fair few people to Loughborough’s town centre alehouses. The last pub on the Market Place (Loughborough is rare not to have one on its market place today) was the Nelson, prominent in photographs of the period because of its ‘half timbered’ appearance. The war brought different attractions with patriotic gatherings and parades and a new recruiting band.
“During the 1914 -18 War a recruiting unit complete with bugle band was set up in the town. The band used to parade in the Market Place every day except Thursdays and Saturdays, with a view to attracting attention to this recruiting drive. It was certainly an attraction for the children after school.”
Above: Union Street was typical of the style of the smaller town centre houses in Loughborough before the new building boom in the period before the war. Below: The substantial Towles site sited off the Nottingham Road on the canal was a major knitted textile producer - this picture by Paul Gent for People Making Places is of the surviving mill built in 1840 but the site extended south along the canal and across the Nottingham Road into Clarence Street.
“We used to sing patriotic songs at school during which our popular teacher, Mr Stagell, a former Barnsley FC footballer, left and we never saw him again. Private William Buckingham VC came on a recruiting drive and lodged across the road from us. He was an orphan from Countesthorpe Children’s Home and we were stunned when he was killed in action a fortnight after leaving us. January 16th 1916 we had a blizzard that blew telegraph posts down in town.” - an unnamed contributor from Loughborough As I Remember It. So this busy industrial, market town with an emerging interest in further education, religiously inclined, partially poverty ridden but improving, lively in its social offer, offering pretty much full employment was readily getting on with life when the call to arms came. It all began with reports in the Echo...
WAR IS DECLARED AUGUST 1914
– The War Cloud in Europe – Yeomanry and Territorials Mobilised – – Patriotic Scenes in Loughborough – (taken from the Loughborough Echo, Friday August 7th 1914) Since Friday last, events have moved with remarkable rapidity in the relationships between England and the continental powers. The little cloud which surrounded the small state of Serbia in the Balkans has rapidly developed into the greatest menace offered to England for a hundred years or more. Not since the days of the Napoleonic war have the inhabitants of the British Isles been so startled out of their peaceful vocations as they were last weekend when the news came that Germany had thrown its armed forces into Belgium with the object of attacking France on that frontier. It is now stale news and not necessary to relate how that the British Government considered that unwarrantable action a direct insult to Belgium, and an action which could not be tolerated peacefully. Following this came a declaration of war in which Germany and Austria are the aggressors and arrayed against them are the British forces on land and sea, the French nation and the Russian nation. The English fleet has sailed for the North Sea under sealed orders and as the majority of the German fleet was located in the same waters a big naval engagement may be reported any hour. In Loughborough and the immediate district the first serious intimation which arose concerning the consequence of warlike preparations arose on Saturday, when the banks discovered an exceptional demand upon them for gold. How serious this was throughout the country was illustrated by the Government ordering that the usual August Bank Holiday should be extended three days and later on that the banks should remain closed until Friday morning. Added to this, the Government also decided, in order to retain the gold in currency, to issue £1 and 10s. notes. The Loughboro’ banking establishments opened this morning after the holidays. Business was quite normal, and not a client came forward to transact more than the usual formal business. On Sunday morning the 5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment went into camp at Bridlington for their annual training. The local company together with the Shepshed, Coalville, and Soar Valley companies left Loughborough at 7-30 a.m. by special train, arriving at Bridlington about 3 p.m. 16
Here they were met by a heavy downpour of rain, and after food had been provided, blankets were given out to the men (...) orders were issued forbidding the men to be out after ten p.m. and on Monday morning the blankets were called in, and the camp struck. By 8 o’clock nothing was left standing, the men, although working somewhat in the dark, carrying out the orders of their commanding officers with an alacrity that was commendable. During the afternoon the various battalions moved out of camp, and the 5th Battalion was almost last to leave. On reaching Bridlington railway station they were at once entrained, and arrived in Loughboro’ about 2.45 on Tuesday morning, headed by the band of the 5th Battalion. A large number of people watched their return, notwithstanding the early hour. The Shepshed and Soar Valley companies returned to their districts to await orders. Thus was cut short the usual period under canvas – a period which will be remembered this year probably more than any in the history of those who are now members of the Territorial forces. Had it not been for the early hour when the battalion returned, without doubt they would have received a fine demonstration from the inhabitants, but at three o’clock few people usually are stirring. Monday in Loughborough and also the previous day were marked by more than common excitement, and rather than undertake their usual holidays groups of people preferred to gather to discuss the situation and give their opinion upon the prospects of the European war, and when the special editions of the evening newspapers issued with the news that war had been declared, the excitement in the town almost reached fever heat. Many who had gone to the seaside became aware that it would be wiser to return home the day following Bankholiday rather than spend the week as they had been accustomed to do by the silver sea. Thus on Tuesday with the presence of the holiday makers and the appearance in the streets of numerous strangers clad in khaki, the town was more than usually animated.
By Wednesday it was known that the orders for mobilisation of the Territorials and Yeomanry had been received, LieutColonel Jones arriving from Uppingham to take command of the 5th Battalion and superintend mobilisation. Major Martin and the Loughborough and Whitwick squadrons of Yeomanry were in evidence, and perhaps for the first time in their history the people of Loughborough became aware that the town is recognised at the War Office as the headquarters of the 5th Batt. Leicestershire Regiment.
equipping and victualing an army can be commandeered. Thus one tradesman in the town on Wednesday discovered that his horse and cart had been stopped and sent to the railway station and otherwise kept for the use of the War Office for an hour or two, and we are also informed that two well-known provision dealers in the town have each something like one hundred bags of flour lying at the goods station consigned to them in the ordinary course of business, which they are unable to move.
In the morning the Territorials present paraded in the Queen’s Park in full marching order, and the feeling of the town was electrical, scarcely anyone could speak of anything except war. As the proclamation appeared at the Town Hall, first announcing the call of the Army Reserve, and appealing to the Territorial forces, they were freely discussed. During the day it became known that certain householders had shewn a most indiscreet action in endeavouring to lay by more than the ordinary supply of food. This information was brought to the knowledge of the Mayor with the request that he should call a meeting of the Town Council to consider the food supply. A meeting was called, and a summarised report of it will be found elsewhere in our columns.
On Sunday, Mr. Edward H. Packe, of Prestwold, who formerly was attached to the Admiralty, wrote to headquarters offering his services. On Tuesday there came a wire asking him to report himself, and he at once left Prestwold for London. On Tuesday, when the Army officials visited Rothley, they commandeered the horse of Mr. T. E. Brookes, a well known sp(orts?) man. In response, he said as they had taken his horse they might as well take him, and next day found him in the ranks of the Loughborough Yeomanry.
As has been known to a few for some months, complete plans for mobilisation and provisioning and billeting the Territorials and Yeomanry had been made. This was demonstrated by the ease with which, as the mobilisation continued, each company marching in from its own district received at once its orders where to proceed for the night, and had the school children by some fairy wand been attracted to their places on Wednesday afternoon, they would have found that in place of copy-book and pens were khaki equipped privates with their kit bag and bedding.
Keep Steady Here we would take the opportunity of urging upon our readers the importance of keeping steady and not giving way to anything approaching panic, for this action of Germany coming as it does after so many protestations of good faith absolutely destroys confidence and the war which they have so rashly undertaken may be prolonged for many months. In fact it is probable that a patriotic statement will affirm that now we are in for the quar(ter?) it would be safest and best for us to fight it out, force against force, to the end, for in these momentous days, the issue of victory lies with the best equipped army rather than with that company whose desire is for peace. The inhabitants must be aware that in momentous occasions such as we are now passing through the powers of government are considerably extended and well-nigh anything which is considered to be of use in mounting,
An exciting scene was witnessed in Sileby on Wednesday morning. Sileby and district is the home of a good number of army reserve men, and on Wednesday morning these men, to the number of 40, obeyed the call to join their regiment, and as they assembled at the Midland Station a large crowd of friends and relatives assembled to see them off. The platform and the railway approaches were crowded with people and some moving scenes were witnessed as the train steamed out of the station. On Wednesday six army reserves left Wymeswold to join their regiment. There were about a dozen employed at the Falcon Works, who have responded to the call. Eight army reserve men from Shepshed marched to the station on Wednesday. Before the Quorn troop of Yeomanry left the village the Vicar – the Rev. H. H. Rumsey – shook hands with the troops and wished them God speed and a safe return. As the several companies of the 5th Battalion responded to the call for mobilisation and arrived in Loughborough, they were billeted in the Elementary schools of the town. The Ashby Co. were quartered at the Rosebery-street schools, while the Soar Valley occupied the infant dept. of the Churchgate schools and the Melton Company set up their quarters in the Cobden-street boys school. At the Rendall Street the advanced party of the Market Harboro’ Company arrived yesterday afternoon and the full company entered into the schools this morning. Major Childers, accompanied by a veterinary inspector and the police, has been busy obtaining horses for the cavalry and any farmer or owner of a likely horse has found himself called upon to part with it. It is also stated that the Government may do likewise with motor cars. Yesterday afternoon the Loughborough and Whitwick Squadron of Yeomanry paraded in the Bull’s Head Hotel yard. 17
THE FIRST WORLD WAR
THE LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENTS This book is not specifically about the Leicestershire regiments, but being local, many of the men served in them.
The World as it was – Loughborough Market Place at the 1911 Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary before ‘The War to End All Wars’. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
The Leicestershire Regiment – the ‘Tigers’ or ‘Leicesters’ The war was already underway when Britain joined it on 4th August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force crossed the channel within days. The 1st Battalion (Bn) of the Leicester ‘Tigers’, regulars, crossed on the 10th September, in the line, shelled and sniped at by the 14th. The 2nd Bn, also regulars, arrived in October via Marseilles from India, moving on to Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Suez then back to Palestine. The 3rd Bn was a training battalion. The 4th (Leicester city) and 5th (county, including Loughborough) were Territorials or ‘week-end soldiers’. They were not 18
meant for service overseas, but many volunteered as the ‘1st’ or ‘overseas’ thus 1/4th and 1/5th battalions; the 4th going over in March 1915. Large numbers of volunteers meant that some Loughborough men could not join these ‘Tigers’ (named after the tiger on their badge), but were dispatched to other regiments, even the naval reserve. The 6th to 14th battalions comprised service, reserve and training battalions in Kitchener’s New Army which started arriving in France from July 1915. The 14th finally arrived in July 1918.
The Leicestershire Yeomanry The Leicestershire Yeomanry was the ‘cavalry’: part-time Territorials for home defence. Many volunteered in a new 1st Line for overseas service. Loughborough supplied C Squadron; Melton, Leicester and Lutterworth supplied A, B and D squadrons respectively. The regiment moved to France in November joining the 3rd Cavalry Division and was soon dispatched to the trenches as dismounted soldiers. They saw service at the first and second battles of Ypres, St Julien and – most notably – Frezenberg (page 42) leaving them so decimated they were out of action until late 1916.
‘Til the Boys Come Home’: The Leicestershire Yeomanry in Loughborough. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Other Arms In fact, Loughborough supplied more servicemen to other regiments than to the Tigers and Yeomanry. Individuals returned from the colonies to serve. The congregations of Loughborough’s churches of All Saints and Holy Trinity supplied – and lost – engineers, fliers, gunners and sailors
in France, Gallipoli, Salonika, the Middle East and at sea including Jutland. Parish women played their part but none are on our church memorials or are recorded to have died under the colours. 19
THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE AISNE … and the loss of the professional soldiers AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 1914
Soldiers of the 11th Regiment Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own) rest at headquarters at Babonval during the Battle of the Aisne. 22nd – 28th September 1914. © IWM (Q 51148)
Austria-Hungary had bombarded Belgrade and the Germans were on the way to defeating the Russians at Tannenberg and pushing through Belgium en route for Paris when the British clashed with them at Mons. Driven back 200 miles over 2 weeks in a tactical retreat, the tide was turned at the ‘Miracle on the Marne’ and the Germans, for their part, retreated…
The First Battle of the Aisne The Germans pulled back over the River Aisne to a plateau where they dug in. The British and French counter offensive was launched and the British, in force, crossed the river and low ground at night and in fog. As it cleared 20
next morning, still on the flood-plain, they were exposed to overwhelming fire from the enemy on the heights. It was whilst attacking these German positions that Sgt. William Ainsworth and Pte. Robert Mayson were killed.
Sgt. William Ainsworth
2nd Coldstream Guards 13th September 1914, aged 23, All Saints Sgt. William Ainsworth was a professional soldier. He embarked for France with the 2nd Coldstream Guards on 12th August 1914. He was one of 8 sons in the family to join up. Born in 1880 in Barrow-upon-Soar, living at 37, Judges Street, Loughborough, he was the first soldier on our memorials to have been killed. He enlisted into the Brigade of Guards on 8th January 1900 and had served in South Africa in 1902. He was related to Sgt. Ivo Jacques who fell at the Somme (page 82). Sgt. William Ainsworth might, in the annals of the British Army, be considered a greater loss than the non-military mind may suppose. Men from the two social extremes – young subalterns from the elite schools and foot soldiers of the lower order – were, quietly, dispensable. We will see that borne out in abundance as this narrative unfolds. But mature men like William Ainsworth were valuable senior NCOs who understood how to lead young men from backgrounds as humble as their own . Sgt. Ainsworth’s gravestone follows the dignified, restrained and strictly regulated pattern of graves maintained by the British & Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In spite of some opposition at the time, bodies were not permitted to be repatriated, allowing soldiers to lie with fallen comrades.
Pte. Robert Mayson
King’s Own Scottish Borderers 16th September 1914, aged 21, All Saints Pte. Mayson had fought at Mons, Le Cateau and now at the Aisne. His battalion successfully crossed the river and reached Missy-sur-Aisne trying to pull the British army out of the death-trap of its flood-plain to occupy the German defences on the overlooking ridge. At some point between 13th and 16th September Robert Mayson was reported missing. His death reportedly took place in Germany. Either he was killed in action or, more likely, severely wounded and taken to a German Field Hospital as a POW where he died. Robert Mayson was a needle maker, the son of Harry and Elizabeth Mayson of 19, Gladstone Avenue. He had four sisters and three brothers all of whom enlisted and survived. Harry served with the Lincolnshire Regiment; Bertie, Lawrence and his brother-in-law Pte. J. Hopewell were all with the Leicesters. 21
SONGSTER - CHARNWOOD’S WARHORSE An estimated 8 million horses and mules were lost in World War One but the Loughborough area was to play host to one remarkable survivor of that carnage.
Britain’s need for horses in World War One outstripped our capacity to breed them and as a result once the war was fully underway around 1,000 horses a week were being shipped from the North America - many must have been lost to the persistent efforts of German U-Boats. At the end of the war nearly half of Britain’s horses were in France with the rest spread across the Balkans. Egypt, Italy, the Middle East or based in the UK itself. Horses (and mules) played four main roles supply horses and mules, of which a total of nearly half a million were deployed in 1918, riding horses at over 100,000, gun horses at around 88,000 and cavalry horses at 75,000.
Just after the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914, a fourteen year old, white socked, chestnut cavalry horse called Songster was gathered with the troopers of the Leicester Yeomanry in Loughborough Market Place. He and his rider, Trooper Bert Main were soon transported to the front line in France and, like Michael Morpurgo‘s story of Warhorse both he and Songster survived the four-year conflict. At the end of the war when large numbers of the surviving horses were either slaughtered or sent to the Middle East as workhorses Trooper Main was able to purchase Songster and another horse from Spelman’s horse repository in London and bring them home. He was one of just a handful of war horses that returned home. The vast majority of the one million horses that were sent from England to France died in battle. Songster’s service was not without incident and on one occasion when the horse lines came under enemy shellfire Songster broke free and ran off, escaping the fate of many of the other horses, later he returned to the position under his own steam. Trooper Main also won a cross country race on him whilst serving in France. Little else is known about what Songster got up to during the conflict, but information about what happened afterwards survives. The horses were brought back to Leicestershire and lived on West Beacon Farm, in Woodhouse Eaves. One day in 1920, the Leicester Yeomanry were marching to camp and passed Songster’s field. He heard the bugle and leapt over a 5ft fence and approached them. They took him to camp with them, and did so every year after that until 1936. The horse was well known in Loughborough for a rare feat that he could execute. Bert Main would ride him into town and the two of them would amaze people by riding up and down the stairs of the Old Boot Hotel. This amazing horse died in 1940 and is buried in Charnwood Forest where he spent his later life. 22
Losses amongst animals were staggering, in France, as many as 7,000 horses were lost in a single day at Verdun. However, a far greater number of horses were lost through ‘debility’ exposure to the elements, hunger and illness. On average around 15% of the horse stock died each year with just 25% succumbing to the results of enemy action.
Trooper Bert Main on his handsome gelding Songster.
THE FIRST WINTER IN THE TRENCHES OCTOBER – FEBRUARY 1914
The Christmas Truce 1914: German soldiers of the 134th Saxon Regiment photographed with men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in No Man’s Land on the Western Front near Ypres by 2nd Lt. Cyril Drummond. © IWM (HU 35801)
The Trenches are Established By autumn 1914 the Germans retreated to higher ground and dug a deep semi-permanent barrier against invasion of the Fatherland. This meant the British (and French) occupied lower, wetter positions with temporary trenches expecting to drive the invaders from their pays sacré. Thus, in spite of the Germans having invaded first,
it was up to the Entente powers to attack. They would fail for three years because technology so favoured defence in spite of any ingenuity on the part of the staff. Defence would, ultimately, not win the war for the Germans so they attempted to bleed the Entente powers dry by attrition.
The Ypres Salient A salient bulges out into enemy territory dangerously drawing fire from three sides. The press and public at home love them as outposts of pluck and derring-do. Thus, politicians, democratically obliged to represent the views of the people, are constrained to refuse to allow commanders to abandon them. On the 22nd October 24
the first of the three battles of Ypres Salient began. As the First Battle started to merge with the battle of Armentières, German shrapnel and heavy howitzers fell throughout the day in trenches claiming 25 Leicesters wounded and around 14 dead, including Cpl. William A. Routledge.
Cpl. William A. Routledge
1st Leicesters 22nd October 1914, aged 28, All Saints Cpl. William Arthur Routledge had joined up in about 1903 in Loughborough, becoming a reservist whilst with the Durham Constabulary. Like those on the right, he was recalled on the 4th August 1914. His story is that of the 1st Leicesters during the opening of the war. Landing at St Nazaire on the 10th they made a long march and were being shelled and sniped at in the trenches by the 14th.
Reservists of the Grenadier Guards re-enlisting on the outbreak of War, queue for a medical inspection at Wellington Barracks, Westminster, London, 5th August 1914. © IWM (Q 67397)
William was one of 7. His father can be traced back to Carlisle and his mother to Plymouth arriving via London. They lived at 12, Ratcliffe Road. Like many other families in this history they were drawn to Loughborough during its rapid expansion in the 19th century. In 1801 there were 4,603 inhabitants to the town; the 1881 census shows there were, by then, 14,733 and by 1888, when a Royal Charter granted the creation of the Borough of Loughborough, there were 18,000. Several reasons explain this growth. Loughborough was in the centre of England with road, rail and canal links to the source of raw materials such as coal and iron, plus markets in London and most other parts of the country. All this enabled the local industries to grow.
Christmas Comes and Goes As the year drew to a close the British initiated a series of attacks cascading north to south along the line to Ypres. In deteriorating weather uneasy truces would allow the wounded and dead to be recovered. (The press at the time and modern mythology, including the 1960s musical ‘Oh What a Lovely War!’ have elevated the ‘Christmas Truce’ to unique status).
The Leicestershire Yeomanry took part in the First Battle of Ypres in reserve. They were sent to the trenches several times, transported in buses leaving their horses behind the lines. Alfred Aldridge was reported as shot by a German sniper early on Sunday morning on the 7th February 1915 while digging trenches at Zillebeke, near Ypres.
Trooper Alfred G. Aldridge (Trumpeter) Leicester Yeomanry and Household Cavalry 7th February 1915, aged 20, All Saints Alfred Aldridge was born in Normanton-on-Soar in 1894. His mother, Louisa, was born in Cirencester. When he enlisted his family lived at 24, Broad Street and he worked at Morris’ Empress Works (page 115). His father, George, was a warehouseman in the hosiery industry. Alfred was one of four children including two much older sisters also employed in hosiery and weaving. When he joined up he was taken on as a trumpeter with the cavalry of the Leicester Yeomanry and also with the Household Cavalry. Letters to his parents stated that “he was shot through the heart” and also that “his cheery disposition will be greatly missed by his comrades.” 25
THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE December 1914
German and British troops fraternise openly, December 1914
On Christmas Eve a century ago, Major Archibald BuchananDunlop was with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment on the frontline at Ypres, in Belgium, when he did something remarkable. He climbed out of his trench and, in full view of both armies, he wandered out into No Man’s Land carrying his old school’s Christmas carol programme his mother had sent. In his best tenor voice he began singing to the German and British troops. Leicestershire’s young men followed him and joined in this most unusual and unexpected of carol services and it was not long before the Germans came and joined in as well. A battalion to the left of the 1st Leicesters were already out of their trenches and were out in the open with the Saxons. Archibald had surveyed the scene and took the opportunity to join in, picking up his carol programme and permitting his men to follow. A day earlier, walking across the shell pocked battlefield towards the enemy would have meant instant death. But now, soldiers in grey and khaki uniforms were exchanging gifts, swapping buttons, chocolate and cigarettes. Some of the men are said to have temporarily engaged in a game of football with each other. In a letter to his wife, Major Buchanan-Dunlop described how troops on the other side of No Man’s Land, both to the centre and right were “very vicious” and likely Prussian. On the left, he said, they appeared to be Saxon. “Jolly, cheering men for the most part,” he said. “So it seems silly in the circumstances to be fighting them.” 26
In a further letter a few days later he wrote: “Such a curious situation has arisen on our left,” he reports. “The Germans all today have been out of their trenches and had tea with our men halfway between the trenches. They only fire four shots a day. Our men were rather nonplussed and they couldn’t very well take them prisoner. Two of their officers and seventy men even came into our trenches, refusing to return to their own trenches. They insist on staying.” Sadly, as we know only too well, this outpouring of goodwill between ordinary working men was short-lived and not to be repeated on such a scale again. The story of Major Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop got back to England and on January 6, 1915, his picture was posted on the front page of The Daily Sketch along with a photograph of the Leicesters and the Germans together. Archibald later became commanding officer of the 1st Leicestershire Regiment. In 1916, he was wounded in action and the following year he was invalided out of the Army. During that same Christmas 1914, Private F. Cooper wrote to his parents in Leicester “On Christmas Eve, the distance between our trenches and the German trenches was 200 yards.” The enemy had lighted up their trenches with Christmas lanterns and both sides were singing carols. “One of our fellows shouted to them, ‘Why the .... don’t you take a tip, and chuck it?’ and they shouted back, ‘Come over to see us’.
“Presently, both sides were out of their trenches, shaking hands and exchanging tobacco for cigarettes and chocolate. Four of us went over and were met by six Germans in front of their trenches. They gave us cigarettes and buttons off their jackets as souvenirs.” There was not a shot fired from 6.30pm on the 24th till midnight on the 25th. “This was not an official armistice but an understanding between the two parties concerned. On our right and left our guns were playing – with the enemy. The Germans who met us were mere schoolboys. Their officers told them the war will be over in three weeks. In fact, they wished the whole show was over.” Private Cooper thought there was more to it though. “These fellows are not to be trusted,” he concluded. “And we think there is something behind this supposed friendship.” On both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve 1914, Private John Lowe was with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment in BoisGrenier, in northern France. On the 12th January he wrote: “The Germans were quite friends with us on those two days,” he reveals in a letter to a friend. “They left their trenches and came over to our officers and shook hands with them as they came along the railway line, but we did not allow them in our trenches. It seemed a shame to start fighting them again after giving us cigars and cigarettes.” Private JW Price of Ashby, who was with the 21st Field Ambulance wrote to his family: “I must say I have experienced what I shall never forget, we had a concert in our old barn, at which our officer took the chair. And to complete our joy there was not a shot fired on our part of the line. The men made an armistice and they got out of the trenches and met each other halfway, shook hands, exchanged cigarettes, cigars and souvenirs. It can’t seem real after the vicious fighting, but I saw it for myself and I got a piece of shell from one of the Germans.” Although there were places where a shot wasn’t fired sadly, that wasn’t true all the way down the Front and a number of people were shot thinking that an official ceasefire had been called. Percy Pollard from Syston wrote: “The Germans kept sending us a few greetings. We saw an Indian soldier do a brave deed. He went out right in front of our trenches to get one of our wounded in. He carried him about twenty yards and then he got wounded. Then another Indian went out and brought them both safely in. It was worth a V.C. - It did not seem much like Christmas. We did not have any Christmas carols, but instead the sound of the German guns.” Later in January a hospital train arrived in Leicester and reporters from the Mercury were there to greet it... stories of the Christmas fraternisation were reported by a number of the wounded.
British and German soldiers fraternising at Ploegsteert, Belgium, on Christmas Day 1914, front of 11th Brigade, 4th Division. © IWM (Q 11745)
One of the most endearing stories of the Leicester Regiment comes from Christmas Day. Captain Chudleigh, of the 2nd Leicestershire Regiment was peeking through the loophole of his trench parapet across No Man’s Land. He could see men moving freely about, an open target for both sniper and machine gun. He was looking at his own soldiers! When two of his more reliable men returned, they explained that they and others had enjoyed Christmas dinner in the German trench. Earlier attempts to leave had proved futile. The Germans had repeatedly urged them to stay and when they politely declined “dragged them bodily into the trench by their legs”. Their enforced dinner had apparently been excellent fare. It was interrupted only by a German orderly – who had been a waiter in Leicester before the war – who presented them with a bottle of French wine, a gift from the German officer to the English captain. The Captain never saw it though for they drank the bottle of wine themselves. The High Command soon issued orders, “All fraternisation with the enemy is to cease immediately. Any further action of this sort will be dealt with severely.” George Black, then of Charnwood Road, Anstey had gone over the top with a group of others. “They Germans could have wiped us out – but they didn’t – I’ll never know why. They just stood on the tops of their trenches and watched us. Then, they shouted to us... we walked forward in No-Man’s land, six Germans came forward. There we met.... I had a drink of schnapps from a German’s water bottle... The whole thing could not have lasted more than 10 minutes and then we walked back to our lines. The thing didn’t end there, though. We had to go in front of the commanding officer and there was a possibility of a court martial for fraternisation – we could have been shot. A sergeant from Loughborough saved us with a bit of quick thinking. He said that he wanted to see if the German trenches were as bad as ours, so that we would know what sort of tactics they could use - and we got off scot-free.”
NEUVE CHAPELLE, HILL 60 AND THE BATTLE OF ARTOIS spring comes and the first Great Loss for Loughborough MARCH – MAY 1915
Pte. Harry Wareham will die with the Indian Division, shown here with their regimental goat mascot at Neuve Chapelle. © IWM (Q 90289)
Neuve Chapelle in the Battle of Artois (10th–13th March 1915) The 10th March 1915 saw a British gain of sorts on the German salient at Neuve Chapelle. Cpl. Thomas Smalley fell in the opening carefully coordinated attacks and hand-tohand fighting which in four hours secured the village. But, as ever, these initial furious encounters, including that by the recently arrived Indian Corps, comprising Gurkha, Garwahli and the 2nd Leicesters, could not be exploited. It is possibly just before midnight on the 13th, when the surviving 2nd 28
Leicesters were relieved, that Pte. Harry Wareham died. An indication of the ferocity of an engagement may be ascertained by how many bodies could not be recovered. Thus, only three of the 149 men who died from the Cameronians have graves. The rest, including Cpl. Thomas Smalley, could only be commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
Cpl. Thomas Smalley 2nd Scottish Rifles ‘The Cameronians’ 10th March 1915, aged 25, Holy Trinity Thomas had been with the military three years in 1914. The Cameronians were ordered home from Malta in September and the 23rd Brigade moved to France with the 8th Division in November – a badly-needed reinforcement to the BEF. For Thomas, a cook, to have been killed fighting suggests that the action was desperate. Thomas Smalley was from a Nottinghamshire Hucknall mining family, one of eight children then living in Moira Street*. Three had died by 1911. As Thomas had been with the military for at least three years when war was declared he would not have been considered part of a restricted occupation or too old like his two brothers and father. *Moira Street was named after the second Earl of Moira 17541826 who inherited the manor of Loughborough through his mother.
Pte. Harry Wareham 2nd Leicesters, 7th Indian Division 13th March 1915, aged 35, All Saints Harry had fought through the Boer War becoming a machinist labourer then, as a Special Reserve, re-enlisted aged 31 and caught up with the 2nd Battalion in December 1914 after it had arrived from India at the Western Front in October. Harry’s family came from Hathern and moved to Warner’s Yard, Gladstone Street and Rendell Street. After his death in 1915 his parents, Edwin and Elizabeth, lost his younger brother, Arthur, who was probably conscripted in 1916 and killed in 1917 (page 99).
Hill 60 and the 2nd Battle of Ypres (April – June 1915)
“The Dump” from the British trench line, near Hill 60 which claimed John Eaton, as seen from the International Trench, Ypres, April and May 1919. In his personal diary, Felix Cullen mentions the trench shown in this photograph. The Ypres region, in Belgium, was the site of some of the deadliest battles in the First World War. The Canadian Expeditionary Force lost more that 6,700 soldiers here. (Courtesy Library and Archives Canada)
The 14th April 1915 saw the start of Germany’s spring offensive to capture Ypres. The British responded by counter-attacking the same day. On the 24th the Germans tried a terrifying new technology: gas. Pte. John Eaton knew nothing of this. He had been shot by a sniper and died of his wounds. He fell on the opening day, the War Diary recording: “13 Apr-15 – RUE DU BOIS. A good deal of grenade and rifle fire, 6 light Howitzer shells fired, 5
men wounded”. His commander wrote to his wife “ ... your husband was killed in action yesterday morning. He died without pain, and never regained consciousness after being hit. At the same time you have the consolation of knowing that he did his duty at all times as a good soldier”. Pte. Walter Allen also died 5 days later in the trenches at Hill 60. In fact Eaton and Allen, in the 1st and 5th Tigers respectively, were holding the line but not attacking.
Pte. John Henry Eaton
1st Leicesters 13th April 1915, aged 31, All Saints In 1902 John Eaton joined the militia and enlisted for 3 years and 9 years reserve. He was posted to Guernsey and India in 1904 with the 1st Leicesters. He was reengaged in 1914 fighting with the battalion until he died of wounds. Being born at Guildford Barracks in 1883 would suggest a military family but his father, William, a general labourer (and possible sometime soldier) was born in Loughborough. His mother, Margaret, was from Buckingham. They lived at 7, H Court, Baxtergate which would have been small. John was a boilermakers’ labourer, a ‘striker’; his siblings and mother were hosiery workers. He described himself as a Wesleyan but married Elizabeth at All Saints, probably because his chapel was not licensed for marriages. He had two children but the boy died after 1 year. Similarly, his child would have to have been buried at All Saints if the Wesleyan Chapel did not have burial permission. Moving later to Factory Street meant they changed parish, to Holy Trinity.
Pte. Walter Allen
5th Leicesters 18th April 1915, aged 21, Holy Trinity (and Brush memorial) Walter had been an instrumentalist in the band of the 5th Bn (Territorial) Leicesters before the war. Mr and Mrs Allen received news of their son, Walter, killed at Hill 60 in a letter of sympathy from a Lieutenant Vincent. He said he was doubly interested in the deceased soldier because his brother, George, was also in the battalion and that both men worked at the Brush engineering company, which he had been associated with in civil life. Walter left behind a wife, Anne, and child. When Walter went on active service his wife and child had returned home to Tamworth to live with her parents.
‘The Brush’ ‘The Brush’ was founded as the Falcon Works in 1855. It was renamed the Brush Electrical Engineering Company in 1889 when bought by American Charles Brush, inventor of the dynamo, arc lamps and street lighting. In 1916, a Zeppelin – seeing the newly installed electric lights in the Market Place powered by a Brush-built turbine in Bridge Street – let loose four bombs on the town (pages 32, 33, 115). ‘The Brush’ built versions of Frenchman Maurice Farman’s S.7 ‘Longhorn’ biplane. This fragile two-seater pre-war design was used in Mesopotamia, alongside the Leicester Tigers. Seaplanes were built and test-flown off Loughborough’s pre-enclosure Great Meadow which regularly flooded during winters. Captain John Chapman, Private Bertie Diggle, Sergeant Harry Percy Kealey, Private H Benskin, Private F Benskin, Corporal F Dakin, Private C Hague, Lt Colonel C E Thorpe, Private H Thorpe, Private H Partridge and Private Walter Allen on our memorials were all Brush employees or students with talents that were therefore lost to the developing industry. ‘The Brush’ Roll of Honour was saved from a rubbish skip and is now at the Carillon museum. 30
The Brush’s symbol was a magnificent metallic falcon which overlooked the railway station. It was removed in 1977 to Crich Tramway Museum, returned to the Brush to be restored and, since 1991, exhibited at Crich Museum. The factory ledge where it was mounted can still be seen. (Photos: Courtesy The Crich National Tramway Museum and D.J. Norton )
The Brush – two proud signs across the roofs declare: “THE BRUSH ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING CO LTD” and “ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING COMPANY”. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
The importance of the railway to the success of the Brush can clearly be seen in this illustration of 1921. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
The Battle of Aubers Ridge in the 2nd Battle of Artois (9th May 1915) The Battle of Aubers Ridge aimed to exploit the German diversion of troops to the Eastern Front. A legitimate strategy, but on that day, 9th May 1915, the right fighting spirit was not enough. Knowledge of the newly strengthened German positions may not have been known but even if it was, there would have been little the over-used 18 pounders could do with dud shells against the dug-in Germans. Herbert Schofield’s Loughborough’s Ministry of Munitions’ Instructional Factory had yet to put into practice novel training techniques to protect a timer fuse blasted from a gun to reliably detonate 15 feet from a target by dead reckoning. Improved trench layout, traffic direction, organisation, resupply and close-support artillery fire would come but not in time for Pte. Edward Trussell or the other 11,000 British casualties, the majority lost within yards of their own trench.
The Black Watch went over the top with Pte. Edward Trusell’s London Regiment at Aubers Ridge, 1915. (Courtesy Penny White)
Pte. Edward Charles Trussell 13th (Kensington) London Rgt. 9th May 1915, aged 19, All Saints
Edward enlisted early and by March 1915 had joined the London Regiment in action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. Two months later he died, almost certainly going over the top in the Battle of Aubers Ridge. Edward Trussell was the only son of Edward Albert and Florence Trussell. His father, Edward senior, who originally came from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, and his brother, Ernest, ran a hairdressing business at 25, Derby Square. It was also a ‘dolls hospital’ where dolls could be taken and repaired. Edward senior was born in East Grinstead in 1896. When a Zeppelin bombed Loughborough on the 31st January 1916 he was shaving Fred Coleman who distinguished himself by climbing and turning off the gaslamps in Derby Square. This plaque was originally affixed to the wall opposite the spot where the second bomb landed in The Rushes. It reads: “Loughborough, The Great War. Opposite this tablet, at a spot indicated by a granite square there fell on the 31st January 1916 a bomb discharged from a German airship which exploded, causing the deaths of several persons, injuring many others and doing great damage to the surrounding property. Walter W. Coltman, Mayor.”
The original plaque (left) was removed to the Carillon Museum and, 100 years later, in 2016, this plaque (right) was erected to commemorate the 10 people who died and the centenary of the raid.
Fred Coleman’s children
The Loughborough Zeppelin Air Raid
Zeppelin bomb damage to the Crown and Cushion pub, now Peter’s Pizza Restaurant, Derby Square. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
About eight o’clock in the evening of Monday January 31st 1916, the people of Loughborough were startled and amazed by a succession of loud explosions. During the winter months there had been talk of air raids in the eastern counties but none had previously come so far inland to Leicestershire. Warnings had been given by the police when air raids had been heard on the coast and, on the evening of the 31st, an hour or so before the fateful visit, the police had warned tradesmen and others that a raid was in progress. No apparent notice, however, was taken, Loughborough’s insular position being considered one of safety. Lights were consequently in full blaze, especially at the Ashby Road picture house and from some skylights at the Empress Works, whilst the town lamps were lit as usual. The result was that an airship travelling in the sky overhead, whilst it missed Leicester, where lights had been extinguished, was attracted to Loughborough. Ten people were killed and twelve were injured. Most of those injured were taken to the Loughborough Hospital, whilst one, a tramp, was removed to the Workhouse Infirmary. (See also page 115)
The Rushes after the Zeppelin raid, on January 31st 1916. Blue Boar Inn on the right and electric station chimney in background. (Courtesy the Leicester and Leicestershire Photographic Society)
Any account of this raid should remember the human cost and of how the first hand experience of this event brought home to the people of Loughborough the severity of the wounds that could be inflicted by modern high explosive ordnance. The first bomb fell into the back yard of the Crown and Cushion pub badly injuring the landlady and killing 50 year old Martha Shipman in her home on Orchard Street. Martha died of shock and shrapnel injuries to her left leg. The target is believed to have been the Instructional College whose rear windows must have been shattered by the blast.
L20 - as long as two football pitches and commanded by Kapitanleutnant Stabbert now swung round towards the tempting lights of the Empress Works on the other side of the town. The next bomb was to fall with devastating effect on Empress Road. The three people closest to the blast were the Page family, mother Mary Ann Page (aged 44) and her two teenage children, Joseph Page (aged 18) and Elsie Page (aged 16). They had come out their house at No. 87 and wandered a little way up the street to see what was going on. All three died on the spot... all three were recorded as having died from a fractured skull ‘and other terrible injuries’. Both Martha Shipman’s husband George and Mary Ann Page’s husband Joe were serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps and both were recalled and were present at the inquests in the town. Two more people were to die from the Empress Road bomb. Arthur Christian Turnall (aged 51) was at work in the Empress Works when the third bomb dropped. Heavy glass plates were shattered causing lacerations to his left leg and side leading to massive blood loss. Arthur died later in hospital.
This picture shows how close the blast was to the College
The second bomb was to wreak even greater havoc as it landed in The Rushes as a number of people were coming home from work. 25 year old Ethel Alice Higgs was one such victim who died later in hospital from severe internal injuries caused by the hot metal fragments. Her best friend survived with a severe leg injury. The Adkins, a recently married couple, had the misfortune to run the wrong way, directly into the area of the explosion as Anne Adkin came to meet her husband Joseph from work. She died on the scene with severe wounds to her right side and abdomen causing massive blood loss. Joseph died later in hospital as a result of injuries to his legs which were badly lacerated and a ‘torn right arm’. He was just 27 and she 28 years old. Annie Adcock, a shopkeeper on the Rushes was the fourth person to die there. The Adcock’s shop was at No. 13 and Annie (a 42 year old mother of two young children) had the misfortune to be near the front door when the bomb fell. She died of lacerated wounds to both sides of her head. The children had to be led from the shop over the body of their dead mother. The Zeppelin, the L20 may have intended the bomb for the local gasworks or the main electricity station for the town but instead wrecked many local businesses along The Rushes. Another injury further down the street was Mrs Bartholomuch who ran the popular ice cream shop (next to the Swan in the Rushes on the site of Sainsbury’s car park) and whose family still sell ice cream in Loughborough to this day. 34
Loughborough resident Hilda Onions was 4 years old when the raid took place - she was evacuated to Quorn. Sadly Hilda died before this book was completed.
The fifth person to die was shopkeeper Josiah Gilbert of 77 Empress Road who died on his own premises in the arms of his son. He suffered a lacerated chest, abdominal injuries and a broken arm. L20’s last bomb is believed to have landed harmlessly in a nearby orchard but just a stone’s throw from the Great Central Railway Station. However, as you will read below the mystery of additional bombs dropped that night remains! Following the raid - which was part of a nine Zeppelin attack on England that night, measures were introduced to impose a better black out on the town as it was widely held that L20 was attracted by the lights of Loughborough and missed nearby Leicester because of its precautions. The Zeppelins themselves were heading for targets further north such as Liverpool and possibly Sheffield. In fact when L20 bombed Burton on Trent later that night they actually thought they were attacking Sheffield! Were there more bombs dropped in Loughborough? A few peope have maintained there were, especially around the area of the canal. One eyewitness described it thus: “As I stood at the door of my shop, I saw the Zeppelin drop two more bombs over in the direction of the Sewage Farm. Many people doubted this because no bombs were found but I believed my own eyes. Several years later when the canal was being drained and a large sewer pipe was being laid under the canal from Lower Cambridge Street, a bomb was found in the canal.”
Kindly donated by Cynthia Mitchell whose uncle narrowly missed the bomb which dropped into the yard of the Crown and Cushion public house on Ashby Square. Locations of raids by Zeppelins were kept under wraps during the war itself so this paper from January 1919 was clearly the first time that the raid could be commemorated by the press.
On August 10th 1924 a bomb was found but to add to the mystery it turned out to be a British bomb such as those dropped from aeroplanes. Could this have been a captured device being returned by the Zeppelin crew? Some maintain it might have been dropped by one of the planes test flown from the Brush. As far as we know the mystery remains.
By coincidence the bomb, an 18 pounder (as compared to the 50Kg bombs dropped elsewhere on the town) was found by Sgt Alfred E Johnson, the father of Johnny Johnson, who was one of Britain’s top fighter pilots in World War Two. 35
GALLIPOLI & SALONIKA 25TH APRIL 1915 – 9TH JANUARY 1916
The ‘SS River Clyde’ at Gallipoli. Dead and wounded can be seen on the boats and water’s edge, survivors shelter on the beach. © IWM (Q 50473)
Our memorials mark fatalities in almost every theatre where the British fought. ‘Westerners’ like Douglas Haig thought the war could be won by concentrating strength on the Western Front. To their frustration, many in government, like Churchill, disagreed and would seek new fronts probing the Central Powers’ ‘soft underbelly’.
Gallipoli … Enormous Irish casualties at Gallipoli were a causal factor in the Anglo-Irish disturbances of 1919 – 1921; as balladeers sang, “T’was better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than in Sulva or Sedd el Bahr”, Australia and New Zealand discovered their “Anzac spirit” at the Old Country’s expense. Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Kemal ‘Ataturk’ eventually emerged as president of the new Turkish Republic which remembers the campaign and preparatory naval engagement with pride. Yet, in 1934, Ataturk had enough wisdom to write: “Those heroes that shed their blood… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” The failure of Gallipoli is well documented. A little-known folly may stand for so much that went wrong. Destroyers landing the 34th Brigade at Sulva Bay had lined up north to south instead of south to north. The troops, under fire, disembarked in a catastrophic muddle, landing – if they landed at all – irretrievably lost. 36
At 10pm on 6th August 1915, Sgt. Fred Palmer’s IX Corps disembarked at Anzac Cove into the disastrous August Offensive. By the 21st they had failed to take Scimitar Hill. Fred Palmer’s company provided heavy transport for the 10th (Irish) Division.
A British patrol entering a village under shellfire during a typical small scale operation in the Struma Valley during the Salonika campaign 1917. © IWM (Q 69876)
… and Salonika
The Berlin to Baghdad Railway
Sgt. Fred Palmer’s exhausted IX Corps and entire 10th Division was quickly evacuated to fight the Bulgarians in Salonika who were joining the German side, allowing aid via the Berlin to Baghdad railway through their country against those hanging on in Gallipoli. But it was all too much for Fred, dying of malaria at the Military Hospital in Malta.
OTTOMAN E MP IRE T igr
Jer usa C l
M E S OP OT Eup AM Homs hr a t es
nople anti nst Co
L I B YA 0
m 19 1 8)
SYRIA Ramadi Damascus Kerbala PALESTINE (campaign)
Beersheba Aqaba Hejaz Railway to Medina / Mecca
B IA GRE E
A grim time would have awaited him had he lived. Like Pte. Jim Tyler in the South Notts. Hussars, he may yet have become one of the outnumbered division’s 1,500 casualties in the Battle of Kosturino. The division finally left in August 1917. This most travelled formation still had to fight through Palestine where our Pte. Cecil Loader would perish (page 109). Tyler survived – his story is taken up in the Palestine campaign (page 108) – only to have a dismal fate await him later.
SIAN EM RUS viks fro PIRE
This map shows how critical was the failure of the Entente forces to fight through Salonika to cut the BerlinBaghdad railway as it traversed Bulgaria. With the line uncut Germany had used this railway to support Turkey at Gallipoli and would use it to supply howitzers (page 60), to defeat the British at Kut, turn back the Kut relief force and fight so effectively in Palestine (page 108). Drawn map by Natalie Chabaud.
Sgt. Arthur Frederick (Fred) Palmer Royal Army Service Corps, Heavy Transport 8th September 1916, aged 35, All Saints Fred Palmer volunteered for active service in Leicester at the outbreak of war. As a mechanical engineer he was useful to the Service Corps, Heavy Transport. Of an educated family, he was offered a commission which he declined. He served at Gallipoli and Salonika where he contracted malaria.
Loughborough Corinthians FC, winners of the Leicestershire Junior Cup, 1900/01. Fred Palmer is in the middle, front row and his brother, Edwin Grimes Palmer, who will also die, is seated 2nd from left. (Courtesy Kevin Mitchell)
Old barns from the Old Knightthorpe Hall, looking towards Derby Road, November 1966. The barns have been replaced by a Co-op, the house flattened for the new Epinal Way. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Arthur Frederick Palmer, exLoughborough Grammar School, unmarried, was a mechanical engineer and son of Dr William Grimes Palmer, a doctor, and Eliza nĂŠe Banks. They were married in Loughborough in 1871. In 1881 the family were living at 15, High Street. Fred had eleven brothers and sisters, Lucy Jane, William Grimes, Henry John, Ethel Alice, John, Edith Alice, Gertrude, Edwin, Sybil, Kathleen Mary and Margaret Elsie, all of whom were born in Loughborough and baptised at All Saints. Dr Grimes Palmer died in 1889 and the family had moved to Thorpe Cottage, Knightthorpe by 1891. Frederickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brother Edwin was also killed after the Battle of Arras (see page 57).
THE ROLE OF SPORT It will be a surprise to very few to know that sport in Loughborough, both immediately prior to and during the First World War was far removed from the global force it is today. Many folk with scant knowledge of our thriving market town link its name primarily with the amazing achievements of athletes and other sportsmen and women past and present based at Loughborough University and Loughborough College. With its myriad of world class facilities and national sports bases, Loughborough has the unofficial, but only semijocular title, of the ‘sporting capital of the UK’. Combine the successes of Loughborough competitors at recent Olympics and Paralympics and they would finish handsomely high in the international medals table. Its glaring omission, with respect to Non-League clubs who bear the town’s name to this day, has been a high class football club. The great irony is that had come and gone before the commencement of the hostilities of the Great War in the shape of Loughborough FC, who competed in Division Two of the Football League for five seasons and even inflicted an 8-0 defeat on mighty Arsenal, the heaviest defeat in that famous club’s history even to this day. That glorious occasion happened on Saturday, December 12 1896 and could not even be explained away by the fact that Woolwich Arsenal, as they were known then, were playing two matches on the same day – for it was the first team who made the trip to Leicestershire, whilst the reserves easily disposed of Leyton 5-0 in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup. The historic goings on at the Loughborough Athletic Ground were recorded for posterity by a scribe from the Loughborough Herald, who reported there was reason for optimism even before kick off as Alf Shelton, the famous Notts forward was in the half back line, and there were high hopes, too, of a young striker called Brailsford, from Basford. Apparently the weather was ‘of the most vile character with heavy rain falling nearly all day’, causing the respective captains to toss the coin in the dressing rooms – but that was to prove the only disappointment for Loughborough supporters. Although facing the elements, it was 2-0 to Loughborough within seven minutes, courtesy of Hamilton and Jones and, after holding out against Arsenal pressure, a superb individual effort from Ward and another by Jones gave the home side a 4-0 interval lead.
Loughborough changed their shirts at half time but there was no difference in the direction of the game. Ward, Jones (2), making four overall, and Brailsford doubled the scoring – and that’s not considering the two ‘goals’ Loughborough had disallowed and number of efforts that either hit the woodwork or were saved by the busy Arsenal goalkeeper. The reporter generously concluded that ‘Loughborough did not have so much more than the Arsenal as the score would indicate’ and that ‘Arsenal going in for short passing in front of goal, which was not of the least use on such a heavy ground’ which would strike a chord of great irony with supporters of Arsenal today. Sadly the town’s football club folded in 1900 shortly after leaving the Football League and were replaced by Loughborough Corinthians who were founded three years later. They became original members of the Leicestershire League and won the title twice before the First World War. After some good FA Cup runs, Corinthians made the step up to the Midland League where they remained until their demise in 1933. As for the battlefield itself, the benefits of having played sport to a high level were clear. Each soldier goes through different types of military and naval training to prepare for battle. Many sporting values and characteristics common to the life of being a solider – such as team work, physical and mental fitness and the ability to second guess the opposition – were used to their advantage. Most of the local young sportsmen who enlisted played for their factory or works teams or for local football, cricket or rugby clubs. Soldiers often used sports in the trenches both to pass time and give them some enjoyment. The one specific event that has been highlighted again in recent years was the famous ‘football game’ played during the Christmas truce of 1914 when both sides met in ‘no man’s land’, a safe zone where both sides came together and treated each other with mutual respect. Casual games of football continued throughout the war on an inter-battalion basis and some regiments held an annual sports day with athletics and such bizarre sports as wheelbarrow racing. Cross country races served a dual purpose. The winner was feted but could soon find his stamina deployed as a foot messenger over vast distances and under enemy fire. 39
There are also many examples in the First World War where an officer kicked a football and urged his men to charge after it as they went over the top to almost certain death.
W.E. Bourne and Frank Cresswell had been the captains of all the major sporting teams at Lougborough Grammar School and both were to die in the conflict.
Among the many famous sportsmen who died during the conflict was Wyndham Halswelle, the 1908 Olympic 400m champion. In all, 26 England rugby internationals died along with 30 from Scotland, 23 French and 12 New Zealand All Blacks. A total of 210 county cricketers were also killed.
Arthur Donald Chapman enjoyed sporting success as a member of Longcliffe Golf Club and Eric Jacques had played football for local clubs such as the Loughburians and the Corinthians.
Local sporting casualties included Lancelot John Austin Dewar, a fine enough cricketer to merit a brief obituary in the legendary Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Known to his family and friends as ‘Jack’. He was born on October 8, 1896, the son of the Reverend David Dewar M.A., a Church of England clergyman, and his wife Annie Maria Irene Dewar. Jack had one brother David, known as ‘Sonnie’, who was also casualty of the war, and one sister Margaret. In 1911 the Rev Dewar was appointed to Holy Trinity Church in Loughborough and the family moved to Holy Trinity Vicarage. He 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 1913-1914 and in the cricket team from 1913-1915, 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. On January 15, 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 July 8, 1916, and joined the 2nd Royal Marine Battalion in the field at Frontcourt-le-Dolmen in the Pas-de-Calais on July 12. He was one of 12 officers from England who joined the battalion on that day. Jack was killed in action, aged 20, on November 13, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Ancre. His body was buried in 57d.Q.17.d Gordon Trench and NoMans-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.
Sergeant ‘Fred’ Palmer was educated at the Loughborough Grammar School and was well known and liked in the town. He was a member of local sports clubs and enjoyed taking part, especially in football where he was a member of the Loughborough Corinthians Football Club. He was also a good oarsman and a member of the Loughborough Boat Club. Fred acted as goalkeeper for the Loughborough Hockey Club and was regarded as a ‘sound and useful player’. Those who survived and were able would have returned to play sport at home. For the severely wounded this was not possible, although the role of sport as rehabilitation was an important factor in the later development of sport for the disabled which is so important in the Paralympic movement today. It was not lost on the propagandists of the war effort that recruiting sportsmen and celebrating their leadership qualities could be useful - including the involvement of a writer well known to many in the form of Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle made a direct appeal for football players to volunteer for service; he also came up with the idea of recruiting men and women at sporting events and pursuing them to join in the war at half-times of certain soccer games. Conan Doyle was not only involved with recruiting at games but also with making and supporting propaganda surrounding the war. In September of 1914, shortly after the war had begun Conan Doyle took part in a secret meeting with the head of the War Propaganda Bureau, Charles Masterman. In this meeting Conan Doyle and the other writers discussed different ways to promote Britain’s interest in the war. He eventually listed as a private soldier himself.
Similarly, talented Harold Wright, who was born in Barrowon-Soar, played 11 first class cricket matches before going to war. He was a left-handed batsman and slow left arm bowler who had the distinction of representing Leicestershire, making a top score of 44 at county level. A Captain in the 6th Batallion North Lancashire Regiment, he died of wounds sustained in September 1915 at the tragically early age of 31. 40
1919 Post War Sports Day, Loughborough
The Corinthians in 1914/15
As war started sports fixtures continued. Over fifty players from Leicester Fosse Football Club fought in the War. They served in a variety of regiments, including the famous Footballers’ Battalion. Four Fosse players were decorated during the conflict, and 11 were killed in action. Despite the fact that War had broken out the previous month, the 1914/15 Football League season kicked off as normal. In the first game of the season, on September 2 1914, Leicester Fosse drew 2-2 at Filbert Street in a Second Division game against Lincoln City. Between their first and second games of the season over 2 million men had engaged in battle. The Football League was finally suspended for the duration of the War at the end of the 1914-1915 season. Away from the front and on the streets of Loughborough children continued to play. Speaking to ‘Loughborough As I Remember It’ one local resident said, “Our main diversions were street cricket or football, the latter with a tin can if a ball was not available.” Another reports, “In the winter after a hard frost, we would go down to the meadows to watch our elders skating on the ice and having a try ourselves at sliding. Some of the gang were quite adept at it but I always seemed to be facing the wrong way by the time I was halfway down finishing either flat on my face or the other way round.”
As was suggested earlier many sports teams were related to workplace developments but for players who had attended public schools, then their experience would have been very different. Since the publication of the famous novel, ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, set in Rugby School, the values instilled by sports and games were seen as vital in developing character in the boys. The link with military values is clearly seen in Sir Henry Newbold’s epic poem “Vitaï Lampada”, written in 1892: There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night— Ten to make and the match to win— A bumping pitch and a blinding light, An hour to play and the last man in. And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat, Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame, But his captain’s hand on his shoulder smote “Play up! play up! and play the game!” That sense of war as a game and one’s duty to play it to your best in a spirit of close collaboration with your brothers in arms led hundreds of thousands to be led to their deaths in the deadliest of games.
“HOLD HARD LEICESTER YEOMANRY” – FREZENBERG a squadron holds the line for the entire brigade MAY 1915
The way we were – except it wasn’t. The Yeomanry fought and died on foot; their horses already dumb victims to indirect shellfire in rest areas.
The Second Great Loss at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge in the 2nd Battle of Ypres The Yeomanry cavalry, including Loughborough’s C Squadron, went into the forward trenches as dismounted infantry on the 12th May, numbering 291 all ranks. The Germans attacked but were repulsed until they succeeded in pressing C Squadron back. The commander of C Squadron, Maj. Martin (of The Brand, Woodhouse), was killed rallying the line (his brother was injured later at Hohenzollern Redoubt in the Battle of Loos) and only one officer, one senior NCO and 40 men from B and C Squadrons made it to a support trench which they held. When they began falling back again, they were met by the regimental commander, Lt. Colonel the Hon. Percy Cecil Evans-Frekem, who shouted, “Hold hard, Leicester Yeomanry!” whereupon A Company (Melton Mowbray) halted and returned to the support trench. Experienced professional RSM George C. Parker was shot through the neck while assisting Evans-Frekem. The Colonel was killed while organising the defence prior to a German attack at 7.30am the next day. However, this attack was held off by A Squadron who were more numerous, having originally been in a support trench. Little was left of Loughborough’s C Squadron. The line stabilised and the Germans dug in.
Few enlistment details are known of Yeomanry troops. They were part-time and held pre-war membership of the Yeomanry. Thus they were not so much a part of their families’ folk memories of having rushed to sign up. The following Yeomanry from our memorials lost their lives at Frezenberg.
Pte. Thomas Brooks, trumpeter Leics Yeomanry 13th May 1915, aged 22, All Saints
Thomas enlisted in 1912, no other details are known.
Thomas Brooks (actually ‘Brookes’) was baptised at All Saints. Originally a hosiery apprentice, he was the son of James, a joiner’s moulding machinist, and Elizabeth Brookes of 24, Paget Street, later 5, Gladstone Street.
Lance/Corp. Bertie Diggle
Sgt. Henry ‘Harry’ P. Kealey
Leics Yeomanry 13th May 1915, aged 21, All Saints Bertie Diggle and his brotherin-law Harry Kealey both died at the battle of Frezenberg. Bertie’s father, Major George Diggle, a veteran of the Boer War, also served. He later retired (because of trench foot) to spend most of the war as landlord of the Nag’s Head in Swan Street. Bert was an engineer, his name appears on the Brush memorial, and he gained medals playing football with the Loughborough Corinthians.
Leics Yeomanry 13th May 1915, aged 21, All Saints Bertie Diggle’s sister, Constance Diggle, was married to Harry Percy Kealey. Constance married again in 1918 after Harry had also been killed at the battle of Frezenberg but she died a few months later, maybe from the Spanish flu, leaving her daughter Constance (known as Iris) orphaned. Constance then went to live with her grandmother at the Nag’s Head. Harry’s half brother, Ernest Cato Kealey of the 2nd Leicesters (not on our memorials) was killed in action on 21st November 1914.
The Yeomanry ride up Bridge Street, 1914. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Pte. Gilbert Edwin Hawker (Trumpeter) Leics Yeomanry 13th May 1915, aged 22, All Saints
Gilbert enlisted at Barrow-in-Furness in 1913 Gilbert Hawker was an apprentice engineer. He was the son of Frank and Winifred Florence neé Powell. They were married in Gloucester in 1887. He had two older sisters, Evelyn and Marion and younger twins, Frank Laurence and Winifred. In 1901 the family were in Darlington where Frank Hawker had a job as a railway carriage draughtsman. By 1911 they had moved to 65, Toothill Road as Frank Hawker had gained promotion to the position of estimator for a “railway stock manufacturers”.
RSM George Charles Parker Leics Yeomanry 13th May 1915, aged 42, All Saints
George Parker enlisted at Aldershot and fought with the 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal) Hussars in the Second Boer War. He had 5 bars, including one for the Defence of Ladysmith, with his Queen’s South Africa medal. He was with the Hussars in Curragh, Ireland between 1903 and 1908 and in Norwich between 1908 and 1910. He eventually became a Squadron Sergeant Major and, after leaving the Hussars, went on to be involved with the cadets at Eton College. As World War 1 approached he enlisted in the Leicestershire (Prince Albert’s Own) Yeomanry as Acting Regimental Sergeant Major and moved his young family to 22, Toothill Road. George Parker belonged to the Howe and Charnwood Masonic Lodge. His widow never remarried and stayed in Loughborough until her death in 1953, bringing up two little boys and a girl, Edith, who was just a few months old when her father was killed. He was known as a popular drill sergeant and was a sidesman at All Saints Church.
The Soar Valley Troop, Leicestershire Yeomanry. RSM George Parker (no 16), tall, erect and correct. (Copyright not found)
When the only popular means of communicating news was by newspapers and weekly illustrated magazines, the postcard was a welcome form of personal communication. People purchased them, not just to post but also to collect in albums. (They are still collected and we are grateful to Penny White for the use of her collection in this book).
THE SUMMER BUILD-UP TO THE STORM trench warfare, live and let live? MAY – SEPTEMBER 1915
Wallace Morgan was one of the U.S. War Department’s eight war artists – his 1918 drawing could have come from any year in the war.
Campaigns frequently took place later than planned because they were so infernally complicated and unpredictable to organise. So the spring and summer passed on the British Sector of the Western Front whilst the forces were still being marshalled for the next earnestly hoped-for war-winning offensive.
The Price Paid by the Chapman Family – three bright young men who died in three consecutive years: Brothers John Theophilus (May 1915) and Hubert Frank (1917) and their cousin Arthur Donald (July 1916) Both families also had sons who fought in and survived the war, which must have further added to their parents’ anxieties.
John and Hubert’s surviving brother Harold had a distinguished military and academic career. Arthur Donald’s brother Albert also survived the war and gained a commission in the Machine Gun Corps becoming a captain then a major. Arthur Donald’s wife, Lizzie, never remarried and died in Leicester aged 63. 46
Waiting for the next big offensive, which turned out to be the Battle of Loos, were the 5th Leicesters at Mount Kemmel, a bend just below the Ypres salient, from where Capt. Hills wrote home: “We had a new bit of line… only about 25 yds from the Germans at one corner & got fired at from almost every possible point all round. Our 2nd in command of D Company got shot through the brain but is still alive & doing well.” He didn’t do well. It was almost certainly Capt. John Chapman out with a sniping party, shot through his binoculars whilst reconnoitring the enemy’s position.
Capt. John Chapman
5th Leicesters Injured 18th May 1915, died 30th May 1915 in Wandsworth Military Hospital, aged 26, All Saints John Chapman was one of a family of 9 children all born in Loughborough and baptised at All Saints. His mother died in 1911 and his father remarried. John and his brother, Hubert Frank, went to Loughborough Grammar School and afterwards studied engineering. He was working in London but, as a Territorial, returned to Loughborough and thence to France to take up active duties. Tragedy would return to the Chapman family which comprised two generations of employers in the local boot and shoe trade. Their large house ‘Westfields’ of Ashby Road is now a student hall of residence. Only a year later (1st July 1916), John and Hubert’s cousin, Arthur Donald, was killed whilst leading a forlorn diversionary attack on the first day of the Somme. His body was never found (page 71). Then Lieut. Hubert Frank Chapman died of ‘mental exhaustion’ or shell shock in March 1917 (see ‘The Last Chapman to Die’ page 91).
Capt. John Chapman was given a solemn warrior’s funeral in Loughborough. (Courtesy Lougborough Echo)
John had been buried with full military honours. The family requested that Hubert’s service at All Saints be conducted without such pomp.
All Saints Church where a vigil was maintained over Capt. John Chapman’s body. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
The Old Soldiers Die (July 1915 – June 1916)… Experience as an old professional soldier was no help to Pte. Walter Murdock. As they said at the time, “When a bullet has got your name on it…”. The experienced 1st Leicesters put
together a working party in No Man’s Land. They met a German patrol and had a scrap. The foe turned a machine gun on them. Six men were injured and of them, Pte. Murdock, was to die.
Pte. Walter Murdock (sometimes Murdoch) 1st Leicesters 19th July 1915, aged 35, All Saints Walter was already involved with the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Robin Hood Rifles when he attested for the Militia in 1900 at Leicester. He subsequently enlisted at Curragh Camp, Ireland, on 14th November 1900. He falsified his age, stating that he was 18 rather than 16 and was appointed as Private 5962 in the 3rd Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment on 22nd January 1901, with his surname erroneously spelt as Murdoch. That February he was posted to Egypt for almost two years. Following this, and after a ten-month break in England, he was sent to India for five years in October 1903. After his return home in December 1908 Walter became a Reservist. When war broke out he was recalled to the colours. He was sent to France on 9th November 1914 and died when his working party was machine gunned in trenches at Le Brique Hooge. Private Walter Murdock was born in Nottingham in 1884. He was the youngest son of Walter Nathaniel Murdock, a warehouseman, and his second wife, Mary Jane Murdock née Hallam. They were married in Nottingham in 1876. Walter had two brothers, Edward Powers and Harry. Walter married Elizabeth Watson in Loughborough in 1910. They had two sons, Walter and Eric. By 1911 they were living at 15, Ratcliffe Road later moving to 36, Freehold Street. Walter was employed as a hosiery warehouseman with the once well-known Nottingham Manufacturing Company in Trinity Street.
… and Kitchener’s Third New Army Arrives Now it was time for the keen young volunteers of his Third to Sixth New Armies to arrive from mid July to September 1915 – in this case in the Leicestershire Regiment’s expanded and unprecedented 6th-9th battalions. For one such infantryman, Pte. Ernest John Barsby, death was unspectacular. He was an inexperienced sentry killed
by sniper fire and the War Diary for that day records nothing special. The noblest sentiment was gleaned by his lieutenant who wrote to his mother: “Your son died at his post, doing his duty like a soldier”. She would need to go through the same agony again when his brother, Eric, was bombed and gassed, sleeping in a cellar, in December 1917 (page 111).
Pte. Ernest John Barsby
6th Leicesters 10th September 1915, aged 20, All Saints Pte. Ernest John Barsby and his brother Eric Graham (page 111) enlisted together in September 1914. Ernest was killed on sentry duty by sniper fire. Ernest and Eric Barsby were born in Loughborough and christened at All Saints. They were sons of John Barsby, a tailor who died in 1904 and Ellen née Gosling. There was one other brother and seven sisters. They lived at 22, Havelock Street. Ernest was a pattern fitter at Morris’ Empress Works and Eric was an office boy.
L/Cpl. Charles Clarence Thorpe 8th Leicesters 13th September 1915, aged 20, All Saints
Charles Thorpe had only been in the trenches in the Somme area of Picardy for a month and a half when he was wounded in action. Lance Corporal Charles Clarence Thorpe was born in Loughborough in 1895. He was the son of Charles Thorpe, a brushmaker and finisher and Annie B. Thorpe née Cope. It was after his second marriage that Charles Thorpe moved with his wife and children to the town. Charles Clarence had two sisters, Beatrice and Lily Grace and two halfbrothers and a half-sister. In 1911 the family were living at 79, Gladstone Street. Charles Clarence was employed as a general labourer at the Brush Electrical Engineering Works Ltd. and in his service records he stated his occupation as mechanic. The national census, from which we find out how Charles Thorpe’s father earned a living, does not state where he worked but the most well-known brushmakers, in a town where there were ten such firms at the time, were Bentley’s, founded by Jesse Bentley in 1860. His son had 13 children of whom 4 joined the profession. The firm continues to the present day.
L/Corp. Charles Thorpe died in unknown and isolated action. The great loss of his pals in the 8th Leicesters occurred at Guedecourt as the Battle of the Somme dragged on (See page 84).
The words of ‘It’s a Grand Sight to see Them Going Away’ were sung by Miss Sable Fern in 1915. (Courtesy Penny White)
HOHENZOLLERN, BATTLE OF LOOS “Leicester’s darkest day” and the third Great Loss for Loughborough 13TH OCTOBER 1915
The Hohenzollern Redoubt, 1915. (Copyright Leicester Mercury)
The Battle of Loos General Haig had refused to attack at Loos as it would have meant crossing a plain overlooked by higher ground against defended villages and machine guns of the Germans. But he was ordered to by Sir John French, then commander of the BEF, at the request of the French in order to take pressure away from their attacks further south. This may have made strategic sense, but the battle plan was doomed. Sgt. William Clarke, who will perish at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, was a ‘bomber’. At this stage ‘grenades’ were called ‘bombs’. The Mills bomb was arriving from May 1915 in time for the Battle of Loos. Before that soldiers made bombs out of old tins stuffed with iron, cordite and a crude fuse. Bombs could be lobbed into an opposing trench whilst keeping out of sight. British Mills bombs were best for defence because the thrower would have to be crouching or hidden from its fragmenting metal case. The German stick grenade was better for attack. It had a thin metal case which would not fragment dangerously. Instead the high explosive would create a shock wave which would dissipate quickly. Thus, those close to the grenade, the foe, would have their internal organs ruptured but those further away, the throwers, would be relatively safe from its concussion. 50
The Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt in the Battle of Loos For three weeks British attacks foundered and it was time for the reserves, the 46th North Midland Division, to try. The target, the Redoubt, was a major German salient incorporating heavy enfilading (or side-on) machine gun fire. From 2pm on 13th October 1915, the 4th Leicesters went over the top in waves. Colonel Robert Martin sprang to the parapet shouting “En avant, mes braves!” and was shot, badly wounded but continued to direct the men. Some reached the Redoubt and fought viciously for an hour.
Two companies of the 5th Bn (recruited from the county including Loughborough) were ordered to attack and support the 4th (recruited from Leicester city) wherein Acting Sgt. William Frederic Clarke and Lance Corporal Charles Thorne were either dead or about to die. The Foresters arrived and the Leicesters withdrew. Then the Staffordshires and the Lincolns were virtually wiped out and never got near the Redoubt. Of the 5th Battalion, 4 officers were killed; every officer of the 4th was a casualty and only 188 out of 651 men answered the roll-call that night.
A/Sgt. William Frederic Clarke 4th Leicesters 13th October 1915, aged 23, Holy Trinity
Killed at the battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Battle of Loos. William Clarke immediately joined up on the outbreak of war, becoming a sergeant. His brother, Leonard, enlisted with the 2nd/5th Leicestershire Regiment in 1914 but transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. Leonard survived the war.
Lance/Cpl. Charles Thorne
4th Leicesters 13th October 1915, aged 22, Holy Trinity Killed at the battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Battle of Loos; Charles Thorne joined up on 6th April 1914. Charles Thorne joined up having been previously trained as a plumber, otherwise nothing else has been found about his life in Loughborough. L/Cpl. Charles Thorne’s records show he caught scabies whilst in the trenches. Consolation comes. The words of ‘Until’ were sung by the Italian tragedienne Claudia Muzio. (Courtesy Penny White)
INTO THE THIRD YEAR amassing before the biggest battle yet NOVEMBER 1915 – JUNE 1916
By September 1917 anti-trench raid barbed wire gates were in place, this one with the Sherwood Foresters. © IWM (Q 6020)
Trench Raids... With the end of the Battle of Loos came a second winter. What now? Certainly no repeat of a Christmas Truce. But a live-andlet-live de facto trench-code developed whereby a few shots would be exchanged during ‘morning hate’ or just before tiffin. The top brass countered this lack of drive by ordering trench raids, partly to capture a ‘voice’ but also so as to create Hell’s fury not just in the hereafter but here on earth. Pte. Frank
Coulson, Pte. Arthur Black and L/Cpl. Richard Albert Farmer Lane were all caught off-guard by the new beastliness. Pte. Frank “China” Coulson had fame with the boxing gloves. Like Goliath, his strength and square jaw, shown in his photograph, offered no advantage against a David’s slingshot sniper’s bullet which took him away whilst on sentry duty.
Pte. Frank Coulson
8th Leicesters 27th November 1915, aged 23. Holy Trinity Frank “China” Coulson’s parents received a letter from the chaplain regarding their only son which included the poignant consolation that, “I buried him this afternoon… 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.” The son of William Frederick Coulson, an iron trade worker and his wife, Maria, he had one sister, Annie, born in Loughborough in 1897. In 1901 the family were living at 6, Buckhorn Square, now demolished, in the Sparrow Hill area. In 1911 Frank was employed as a wood polisher and was living at the family home at 93, Russell Street. By the end of the war the family were living at 122, Freehold Street.
With no War Diary entry for the mid-December death of Pte. Arthur Black, his could have been just an unremembered soldier’s passing unlike that of the hallowed Hector or Lysander.
But he was remembered by Miss Cayless (below). The fog suddenly cleared on the parapet where he was working, allowing the German machine gunners to do their work.
Pte. Arthur John Black
7th Leicesters 19th December 1915, aged 22, All Saints Pte. Black was working on the parapet of a trench in dense fog. Suddenly the fog lifted allowing the German machine guns to open fire, hitting him. Black failed to recover and died of his wounds in the field hospital. There is no War Diary entry for this date. John Arthur Black was one of the men who enlisted from the Falcon Works (‘the Brush’) in Loughborough in 1914. Writing on the day before he was wounded to a fellow member of Miss Cayless’ Bible Class at Emmanuel Church, he talked of the time when the boys would come home after the declaration of peace and what a hearty rejoicing there would be. He reminded his friend of the Christmas festivities of the last year and what a great time they had all had together. He wrote to his brother’s wife, telling her to look into the pocket of his civilian clothes where she would find 5 shillings which he wished her to spend upon his nieces and nephews at Christmas.
Miss Cayless remembered Arthur Black as we remember him now. Miss (Frances Harridge) Cayless herself is remembered from the 1960s by a few still living in Loughborough, when, as an old lady, she lived opposite Southfields at 60, Leicester Road, in a beautiful house with a veranda. She was one of 5 sisters, four of whom remained spinsters. Her capacity for care continued as she ran Loughborough’s RSPCA. She had seen so many of those young men like Frank ‘China’ Coulson, Arthur Black, Alec Brookes and Harry Stenson from her Bible Class die in that “another country” of her past. 53
(1) God be with you till we meet again, By His counsels guide, uphold you, With His sheep securely fold you, God be with you till we meet again. Till we meet, till we meet, Till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again. (2) God be with you till we meet again, ’Neath His wings protecting hide you, Daily manna still divide you, God be with you till we meet again. Till we meet, till we meet, Till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again. (3) God be with you till we meet again, When life’s perils thick confound you, Put His arms unfailing round you, God be with you till we meet again. Till we meet, till we meet, Till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again. (4) God be with you till we meet again, Keep love’s banner floating o’er you, Smite death’s threatening wave before you, God be with you till we meet again. Till we meet, till we meet, Till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again. Miss Cayless would hope in vain to see some of her Bible Class young soldiers again. (Courtesy Penny White)
L/Cpl. Richard Albert Farmer Lane 8th Leicesters 3rd February 1916, aged 20, All Saints Richard Lane enlisted in Loughborough in 1914 with the 8th Leicesters and in 1915 was promoted to Lance Corporal. Richard was born in Loughborough and lived in Chapman Street near to the church. His father (also Richard) was a joiner employed at the nearby Taylor’s bellfoundry and was a bellringer. He is commemorated under All Saints bell-tower. Richard junior followed his father as a joiner. His mother, Sarah, died in 1907 and his father then married Amelia Elizabeth Collins. Richard’s half-brother, Frederick, also served but survived to have a family and died in 1990, aged 90. Richard’s father died in 1943.
The Lane family in the 1900s
Strategically, all plans had changed in February 1916 when the Germans attempted to ‘bleed France dry’ counter-intuitively attacking not the enemy’s weak point but its strong point, Verdun. On the 6th March the 6th Leicesters were to be relieved in the trenches; but before the Dublin Fusiliers could take over they were shelled and Pte. Edward Marriott died. It was a time of mining, countermining and attempts to catch the other out with surprise barrages. Artillery shelling artillery was what also carried Gunner John Lawrence off in early May.
Pte. Edward Revell Marriott 6th Leicesters 16th March 1916, aged 24, All Saints
Nothing found on engagement. 110th Brigade 21st Div. Edward Marriott was baptised at birth at All Saints in 1892. His father, Charles, was an ironmonger where he later assisted. His mother died in 1911 leaving 3 boys and 4 girls. Later of 1½ Churchgate the family originally lived in Dead Lane. Now completely disappeared, this track then led to the present Limehurst Academy. Thus bodies would be taken up Dead Lane to be disposed of in the lime of the ‘hurst’ or hillock of limehurst.
Gunner John Charles Lawrence
1st Div. Ammunition Col. Trench Mortar Bty. Royal Field Artillery (RFA) 2nd May 1916, aged 24, All Saints Reported as having “died beside his gun in position of great responsibility”, John was only a few months from completing twelve years’ service having been on the reserve at the outbreak of war. He was quickly recalled and drafted out to Flanders. He had only been home on leave once, the week before Christmas, for a brief rest. Gunner John Charles Lawrence was born in York in 1892 and baptised at St Thomas, York on 29th May of that year. He was the son of Charles Lawrence and Emma Lawrence née Hick. After Charles Lawrence’s death in 1893 Emma married again to Thomas Barnes. John had four sisters, two half-sisters and one half-brother. In 1914 he married Edith Nellie Arterton. They had two children, Charles Eric and John Frederick, both of whom were baptised at All Saints. In 1901 the family were living in Leicester but had moved to Rempstone by 1911. John enlisted in Loughborough and gave his address as 14, Rendell Street.
The gentlemen of the Royal Fusiliers, exhausted, on the retreat from Mons. © IWM (Q 70071)
... and the Twists of Fate Sergeant Moffat Ecob of the 6th Leicester’s wrote a letter to Pte. Frank Benskin’s parents describing his own miraculous escape at the time of the unfortunate death of four comrades, all of whom came from Loughborough. He had gone to fetch
Pte. Frank Benskin
Pte. Sidney Wade
Frank Benskin enlisted with his mates on 14th August 1914. He stated that he was a labourer.
Private Sidney Wade was born in Loughborough in 1895 and baptised at All Saints in 1896. He was a brickyard labourer like his father, Joseph, who married Sarah née Ablett in the town in 1891. Sidney had one brother called Charles and five sisters, Elizabeth, May, Dorothy, Elsie and Gertrude. There were two other brothers, both called Joseph, but they died in infancy.
6th Leicesters 9th June 1916, aged 24, All Saints Dugout hit by shell
Frank’s father was a hand- or, more accurately, a foot-powered framework knitter. He trained as a steam engine fitter and later a tram car polisher reflecting this new age of mechanisation. He lived in a well-built terraced house which, nevertheless, had no space provision for framework-knitting at 121, Burder Street, close to the railway and his factory, the Brush engineering works.
a working party and, on his return, found the dugout he had left had been shelled blowing it to pieces and killing all four friends instantaneously. Their names were Roland Austin, Bert Newbold, Frank Benskin and Sidney Wade.
6th Leicesters 9th June 1916, aged 21, Holy Trinity Dugout hit by shell
L/Cpl. Edwin Grimes Palmer 2nd City of London Regiment, the Royal Fusiliers 15th June 1916, aged 23, All Saints
Edwin Palmer served with the Expeditionary Force in France from January 1916, having missed the great retreat from Mons but fought through Loos and the Somme. The Battle of Arras, which involved the obliteration of the German strongpoint of Bullecourt, was over. Nevertheless Lance Corporal Edwin Palmer was reported missing after fighting at Bullecourt on the 15th June 1917 and was assumed to have been killed in action on or about that date.
(Courtesy Loughborough Library)
A gentleman’s regiment – The Royal Fusiliers.
Edwin Palmer was the fifth son of William Grimes Palmer M.D.. He was educated at Loughborough Grammar School and was in the 2nd team of the Loughborough Corinthians FC 1901/02, becoming a cashier at the London City and Midland Bank. He joined the Inns of Court OTC in August 1915. Edwin was unmarried. His elder brother Arthur Frederick also died after Salonika (page 36) in 1916 (page 38).
The Inns of Court OTC (Officer Training Corps) was one of the recognised routes whereby young ‘gentlemen’ might be prepared for a commission. Yet Edwin Palmer was a lance corporal. The reason may be that, in joining the Royal Fusiliers, he joined an elite regiment already populated by elite young men, without any more room ‘at the top’ for commissioned officers.
The war exposed class differences in Britain. Palmer’s Royal Fusiliers made a long hot march out of London to their disembarkation port. Another of their number observed that while the ‘gentlemen’ were fit and capable of the march the smaller weaker men of London’s East End had wilted from exhaustion and were lying amidst the hedges, unable to keep up the pace. He noticed particularly, their small frames, sallow complexions and boils. 57
PARCELS TO AND LETTERS FROM THE FRONT In 2014 the Loughborough Baptist Church Local Baptist History Group produced a book and a wonderful exhibition follwing an amazing find in a cupboard at the church. Among a pile of old account books they discovered two tattered grey files tightly packed with papers. They were letters from soldiers from the First World War thanking the Church for parcels that they had received at Christmas. Work began on the collection in 2012. The study concentrated on 65 of the men who had attended the Baxter Gate Baptist Sunday School who had received parcels at Christmas 1916. In all 105 names are recorded on the church roll of honour and a memorial near the forecourt gates lists 23 servicemen who were killed. The Baptist and Sunday School membership at Baxter Gate was large and so it was that this vibrant community enabled the Christmas Parcel distribution to the troops. Letters were sent from Loughborough to all members of the armed forces on an occasional basis and it was an initiative by Sunday School teachers that formed the Sunday School Gift Committee in June 1916. The aim was to send a Christmas parcel to all on the Roll of Honour who had been Sunday School pupils. Parents of current pupils were asked to provide contributions and the whole congregation was asked to support the costs of postage. The parcels were to contain food (cakes, chocolate, toffee, compressed soup), reading material (books and magazines but not too weighty), clothing (woollen comforts, socks) and assorted other goods (Boracic ointment, candles, towels, tea tablets, shaving soap and health salts). The research into the letters back from the troops has thrown up that the cakes that were sent were particularly welcomed. Sergeant Albert Hunt wrote: “I am assuming a lady was the maker because, as a rule, when we have a cake made by a mere man it is generally everlasting but in this case, as I was a few minutes late for tea, well I was lucky to get a look in!” The Christmas parcels went to Salonika, Mesopotamia, India, France, Belgium and elesewhere in the UK. Each one weighed around 6lbs and cost one shilling and four pence to send to the continent. A letter was included with an assurance that they were being warmly remembered at home and later a bi-monthly ‘newsy’ newsletter as well as birthday greetings were 58
sent out by the minister to the servicemen. It is from the 240 surviving letters sent back in acknowledgement and gratitude that the church has created its collection. Many of the letters are addressed to the Minister of the Church, Rev. Reuben Handford. They speak of the ‘usefulness’ of the packages, how they ‘brighten the rations’ and the ‘delight’ at receiving them. Many of the letters are short as troops would also be writing back to their own families. The parcels appear to have arrived in good time for most by Christmas. Frank Millett wrote back in early January: “This year we did not have our usual luck in being out of the trenches for Christmas Day but we did enjoy our Christmas Day on the 30th splendidly. Our dinner was a great success, everything done to a turn. The following night the Signallers, having obtained a piano, held a private concert which was a complete success.” Some parcels appear to have been held up by submarine actions which delayed parcels sent to the Eastern Mediterranean. Reading where the soldiers lived when at home is like reading an inventory of Loughborough’s Victorian and Edwardian street names but the realities of that Christmas were far from the comforts of home for many. Henry Barker of 22 Moira Street was with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium and wrote this on the 25th December 1916: “Writing this letter in a cellar as Fritz is sending us a few Christmas Greetings in the form of Whizbangs. He has already knocked the roof off the house next door to ours. Sorry I haven’t written to you before. We have only just finished a turn in the front line and it was impossible to write then as it is up to the knees in mud and water.” Herbert Pickering’s letter of June 18th 1918 talks of a lucky escape: “I had a bullet go through my cig tin and it turned the bullet and it went out the bottom of my pocket and took a bit of cloth out of my trousers’ pocket and never touched me at all. No doubt you will be pleased to hear that I was awarded the Military Medal for good work during the heavy fighting on March 21st. I suppose you heard about me being missing during the April offensive. I and six other boys got cut off from our reg. but managed to get back to another reg. and we were attached to them for six days until they could find out where our reg. was. Old Fritz nearly had us!”
Less fortunate was Harold Atkin of 1, Ashby Road. He wrote on August 16th 1917 from the Military Auxiliary Hospital in Liverpool: “Well I have got gas shell poisoning but I am going on nicely. I feel a little bit better today. This happened up Nieuport in Belgium on the last Sunday in July when old Fritz during the early hours of the Sunday morning sent over three hundred gas shells on the battery. After staying at six hospitals down the line I eventually landed at the base hospital at Boulogne from which I came to England last Sunday morning reaching Dover shortly before noon. We left Dover at 3.00pm for Liverpool which we reached at twenty to eleven at night.” On March 31st 1917 Harold Lacey of 39b, Leopold Street who was with the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force wrote: “The hot weather is just now setting in together with the mosquitos in the evening. We have done a great deal of marching but now we are rewarded by getting a rather long rest from it. We are able to manage very well in spite of the conditions and we’re never far from the river. At present we are in a lovely palm tree grove and there are many beautiful birds and insects, trees and flowers which is a change from the dull desert.” All of the men wrote from their camps whilst in the UK. Arnold Potter of 43, Queen’s Road writes from Prees Heath Camp, Whitchurch on November 17th 1918: “We are in a huge camp holding about 30,000 men on a great heath. The nearest town is three miles away so we are absolutely lost... Lectures are being held here on various subjects. I am taking up Mechanics and Mathematics ready for when I get home again.” Charles Wood of 44, Wharncliffe Road writes from the Officer Cadet Battn. Lichfield on March 18th 1917: “They do not give us much time to spare. We start drill early in the morning and have drill and lectures until it is time to go to bed... We get one half day holiday a week which is devoted to sports and it is a rule of the Battn. that everyone has to go in for sports of some description.” Arthur Matthews of 3, Paget Street wrote on December 23rd 1916 from HMS Greenwich in home waters: “I must say that the people of Loughborough look after us better than any of my messmates get looked after. No one else gets tokens of good will from their associates as we are fortunate to receive and I can assure you that it is appreciated and nothing more so than the kind remembrance from Baxter Gate Church for which I heartily thank you all.” Two of the men were captured by the Germans - Arthur Quemby, the organiser of the Christmas Parcels Project wrote to the soldier Arthur Lacey but his letter was returned
by the Germans. Arthur Lacey survived the war. The other man taken prisoner was Matthew Cockerill. In a letter dated 1st September 1918 the Minister, Reverend Handford wrote: “I want you to know that we think of you at Baxter Gate very often and shall do this on Wednesday especially. Many happy returns of the Day!” Sadly Matthew was admitted to a German Military Hospital in France at Le Cateau where he died on the 21st September 1918 aged just 19. Of the 65 former Sunday School boys who received the parcels 10 were killed. In 1919 an invitation was sent out to all those surviving who had served. The date for the ‘Supper and Entertainment’ was June 18th 1919. Thirty men came and the rest sent apologies. Jospeh Smedly wrote on June 17th to give his apologies: “I feel sure that I am safely expressing the feelings common to all old Sunday School Scholars when I say that the letters and parcels sent to us by you all bucked us up wonderfully. They seemed to make one feel less lonely somehow. When at the front, no matter how ‘pally’ we were, home and its fond associations seemed, oh so very far away when we were feeling ‘fed up‘ with everything...” For the Reverend William Spinks ministering to the troops through the medium of letters and parcels was not enough. He joined the YMCA as a Chaplain. Spinks had been Minister of the Wood Gate Baptist Church in Loughborough from 1905 but resigned from the Baptist Ministry in 1916 and went to France. Ill health caused him to return to England but he then went back to France in May 1918 to serve with the YMCA in a Military Hospital. In an air raid a few days after returning to France he tried to help a Chinese labourer who was panicking with the all the noise and mayhem of a German air raid. While comforting him he took the full blast of a bomb and died a few days later. He was aged 45. He was buried with full military honours in Etaples Cemetery and his name is listed on the Loughborough Carillon Tower War Memorial in Queen’s Park. These extracts were taken from the booklet ‘Letters from the Trenches in the First World War’ written by Stanley Cramer, Gordon Mitchell and Marigold Cleve. Copyright Loughborough Baptist Church 2014. Marigold Cleve is a researcher with the Loughborough Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum.
THE MESOPOTAMIAN CAMPAIGN JANUARY 1916
The failure of the Salonika Campaign (page 36) to sever the rail link from Berlin to Baghdad where it runs through Bulgaria meant that German howitzers could be transported direct from Germany to within a few miles of the slow British advance up the River Tigris.
Britain needed to safeguard its oilfields in Basra for the oil-fired Dreadnoughts. The Indian Expeditionary Force had secured the city in 1914 but by November 1915 it was surrounded having sought strategic consolidation by marching on Baghdad. Newly arrived formations, including the 2nd Leicesters, made up the Anglo-Indian Tigris Corps or ‘Kut Relief Force’, who would try to reach Kut-al-Amara (‘Kut’) to relieve them. They met the Turks on 7th January at the furious Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad, where Pte. Alec Brookes and 6 other Loughborough men died.
Pte. Alec Brookes (Brooks)
2nd Leicesters British Bn of the Garhwal Brigade of the 7th Indian Division 7th January 1916, aged 20, All Saints Pte. Alec Brookes enlisted in 1913. He died at the Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad. Alec Brookes was born and baptised in Loughborough in 1895. He was the son of Albert Brookes, a railway porter, and his wife Rosa née Bradshaw. Alec had nine brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom, Kathleen, born in 1918, he never knew. In 1901 the family were living at 5, Railway Terrace and had moved to 26, Burder Street by 1911. Alec was now a hosiery needle maker although he did not remain with this trade. He worked as a rivet header at the Brush Electrical Engineering Company before the war. He was a member of Miss Cayless’ Emmanuel Church Bible Class (see page 53) although he later became a Primitive Methodist. Their chapel was in Swan Street. Alec’s brother, James Thomas Brookes, was gassed but survived. 60
The relief of Kut: ‘The Wadi’ mentioned below is shown in the north-east of the illustration. It can be seen how tantalisingly close the relief force got to the British and Empire forces trapped at Kut el Amara.
Pte. Alec Brookes was dead. Sheikh Sa’ad was won. The Turks fell back and the Kut Relief Force pressed on. But at each of the following engagements the pattern was much the same as at ‘the Wadi’. The British and Empire forces approached across the flat desert and the Turks opened up 3,500 yards away, this time claiming Sgt. Harry Hill. In the battle at Sanniyat, Lieut. Bingham Turner was claimed whilst “leading a charge”. The British advance would stall, soldiers sometimes forming an improvised firing line together on the unforgiving plain before taking up the charge again. Cavalry was sent to outflank the Turks way into the desert and ran into prepared ambushes. If the British still managed to outflank their own ambushed cavalry, the Turks retreated to a new line and much the same was repeated.
Sgt. John Henry (Harry) Hill
2nd Leicesters, 7th Indian Division Wounded 13th January 1916, aged 33, Holy Trinity Harry, who had been an ex-Territorial and Army Special Reservist, was immediately recalled and posted, in November 1914, to the 1st Leicesters already in Flanders fighting at the 1st Battle of Ypres. In February 1915, he was reposted to the 2nd Bn and fought at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge in the Battle of Loos. The 2nd Bn had arrived from India with the Indian Meerut Division who, it is said, found Flanders’ conditions cold – although that is disputed. They were the ideal division to send to Mesopotamia and so it was that Harry was sent on the forlorn mission to rescue the beleaguered garrison at Kut. ‘Harry’ Hill was born in Loughborough in 1883, the youngest child and only son of John Henry Hill, an iron moulder, and his wife Ellen. Harry had four older sisters. In 1881 the family lived at 12, Rectory Place, but by 1891 they had moved to 33, Canal Bank, Bridge Street. Harry Hill, who was a general labourer, married Emma Fallows at Loughborough Parish Church in 1906. When war broke out Harry and Emma were living at 4, Chapel Square, Nuneaton, but after Harry enlisted his wife moved to 17, Derby Square. She would have received a pro forma letter on the same day as 5 other Loughborough mothers or wives received theirs. For officers a telegram would be sent. With only 10 miles to go a river boat was sent with supplies. Its officers and men accepted their fate and were all killed. The rescue failed and the force at Kut surrendered, marching into captivity. But Baghdad was taken the next year. 61
The Tragedy of Lieutenant Roger Bingham Turner and Loughborough Grammar School’s Headmaster
Loughborough Grammar School, 1920s. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
“Why then, God’s soldier be he.” The headmaster of Loughborough Grammar School, Bingham Dixon Turner, erected the clock on the school tower to his ‘beloved son’ Roger Bingham Turner, who died leading a charge during the unsuccessful relief of Kut. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Old Siward asks if his son died with wounds to the front or rear – was he valiant or not? “Aye, on the front” he is told and takes such comfort as he may, declaring, in words chosen by the headmaster and inscribed to his son’s memory “Why then, God’s soldier be he.”
In 2016 the Quadrangle of Loughborough Grammar School was dedicated to Endowed Schools’ members who died serving their country. The story of Lieut. Roger Bingham Turner was read out. (Courtesy LGS)
Lieut. Roger Bingham Turner - Jesus College, Cambridge 3rd Cheshire Rgt 9th April 1916, aged 20, All Saints
Lieutenant Bingham Turner trained with the Cambridge OTC and was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Cheshire Regiment on the 12th April 1915. He went with a draft to the Dardanelles in September 1915 and was present at the evacuation of Suvla Bay and Cape Helles; on to Egypt and Mesopotamia where he was killed attempting to rescue the British force surrounded at Kut.
Lieut. Turner’s sensitive eyes still have the power to speak down the years. That he died leading a charge is undisputed.
He was the son of Bingham Dixon Turner M.A., Headmaster of Loughborough Grammar School, late Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge and his wife Dora, who was the daughter of the late Major James Sweetenham (East Kent Regiment) of Moston Hall, Chester. Roger was educated briefly at Loughborough Grammar School, at Sandroyd School 1906 – 1909, Charterhouse (Junior and Senior Scholarships) 1909 – 1914 and Jesus College, Cambridge (Open Classical Scholar) 1914 – 1915.
The Way We Were and The Way We Are – the headmaster’s house at Loughborough Grammar School, very little changed since Roger Bingham Turner’s time.
During WW1 Loughborough Grammar School grew vegetables in the quad and, due to manpower shortages, the boys themselves cut the cricket field. With three staff joined up at short notice in 1915, at Prize Day the head observed unrest amongst the pupils and the school accepted its first female teacher, a Miss Aveling.
SCHOOLS IN LOUGHBOROUGH The war impacted on Loughborough’s schools and the families of its pupils quite dramatically especially after conscription of all single men between 18 and 41 was introduced in March 1916 and was extended to married men in May. The upper age limit was raised to 51 in 1918 and conscription in general continued until 1920 to enable the army to deal with continuing flare-ups. Older brothers and fathers were killed or wounded, women and children pulled together both to feed themselves and to support the troops.
At his prize day speech in 1917, the headmaster reported that there was a perceptible unrest among the boys, partly created by the loss of staff and that he ‘believed that they needed more discipline and more keeping attention to their work than usual’.
In general, many male teachers went off to war, some women started teaching, class sizes increased and children were taught in bigger classes: a former pupil from Cobden Street boys’ school (boys and girls were taught separately at that time) reported that he’d been taught in a class of 60 pupils. Essential supplies were scarce, children often had to make do with scraps of paper rather than exercise books. Rendell Street School’s log books also detail day to day life for children during the war – including activities to raise money for the troops, outbreaks of illness etc. On Prize Day in 1916, Mr Bingham Turner, headteacher of Loughborough Grammar School, said that the school was ‘trying to carry on as best as they could although they had lost valuable members of the staff.’ They had been extremely fortunate in the ladies who had replaced the men. Mr Bingham Turner’s own son, Roger was killed in action in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) aged 20 (see previous pages).
There were discipline problems and unaccustomed rowdiness at all schools, the partially fee–paying Loughborough Grammar School as well as the School Board elementary schools of Shakespeare Street, Cobden Street and Rosebery Street. Shakespeare Street School once billeted troops and others such as Rosebery Street did too. All sections of the community turned their hands to the production of food. In addition to this, boys from Rosebery Street as well as from Loughborough Grammar School grew vegetables. Efforts to support the troops were also proudly recorded in school log books.
Church Gate School
The majority of the soldiers mentioned in this book attended elementary schools such as Rosebery Street, Cobden Street and Shakespeare Street. There was also the Church Gate School, Warner School and Emmanuel School. On Rosebery Street’s memorial (found by Brenda Feeney under the stage in the 1980s and now in the Carillon museum) are the names of Private A. Aldridge, Lieutenant A. Perkins whose father was Town Clerk and also a sidesman at St Peter’s. Privates E. and J. E. Barsby and Corporal E. I. Jacques (and one of his relations). Rosebery children also collected money to give to various war charities. In 1916, “Prisoner of War Comfort Funds” were supported and later on, “The King George Fund for Sailors”.
At Loughborough High School, attended by some of the soldiers’ sisters, efforts were made throughout the war to support war charities: collections for Belgian refugees, knitting of pullovers, socks, scarves and other woollen comforts for the soldiers. In 1914, a dance was held by the Old Girls’ Association. At its December meeting, chaired by the headteacher, Miss Walmsley, “it was unanimously decided to give the proceeds of the dance to the Relief in Belgium”. There are rich seams to be mined in looking through school records in the town - the Charnwood Great War Centenary Project worked closely with girls at Loughborough High School to look at their records but there are still a lot of opportunities for further research.
Rosebery School as it is today drawn by artist Paul Gent for Charnwood Arts’ People Making Places project.
At Sports’ Day in July 1916 there were 1,000 entries for races which realised the sum of 52/6d for destitute Belgian children. In February 1918, records show that the school had taken over an allotment and that boys left school at 1.30pm every day and were expected to dig until 5pm “until the trenching was finished.” The school was also used by the army for billets during the school holidays. The entry for 31 December 1914 recorded that “the school floors had suffered somewhat from grease and ink spilt by soldiers stationed there during the holidays.”
By 1918, sympathy for the Belgians, particularly those living in Loughborough, had waned. At the AGM of that year, a balance of £8 10s 2d was recorded and ‘Miss Mills proposed that the balance be given to help the Belgian Fund”. Others thought that the Belgian refugees in Loughborough were well able to keep themselves as they were mostly in work and that better use could be made of the money. However it was proposed that some of the money should be used to buy wool to make blankets for the the Belgian children. This was passed unanimously and £1 and 1 shilling (a guinea) was set aside for this purpose. 65
“THERE SEEMS SOMETHING WRONG WITH OUR B..... SHIPS” – JUTLAND 31ST MAY -1ST JUNE 1916
The proud fast modern Battlecruiser, HMS Queen Mary. (Courtesy Penny White)
Prelude and Day One The German High Seas Fleet had left Wilhelmshaven to tempt the British to battle in the long awaited “der Tag” – “the day”... German raids on Britain’s east coast had caused Admiral Jellicoe to split the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet which he commanded. Thus Beatty’s separated force, previously defending the east coast, steamed from the Firth of Forth but not with the main Grand Fleet which set off from Scapa Flow in the Orkneys. Beatty’s fast but lightly armed cruisers found and engaged the Germans first.
Harry Stenson Dies with HMS Queen Mary Using speed, Beatty’s cruisers caught and fought with Hipper’s scouting group in two parallel lines (‘line astern’). The cruisers had longer range than the German vessels, but they closed and lost this advantage. Evening drew on and the German ships disappeared into the Westerly gloom; the British silhouetted before an eastern setting sun. 66
Aboard the HMS Queen Mary one shot penetrated the lightly armed cruiser deck amidships, the cordite flashed right back to the forward magazine and the Queen Mary spectacularly exploded taking Able Seaman Harry Stenson with her.
Able Seaman Harry Stenson HMS Queen Mary 31st May 1916, aged 20, All Saints
Harry Stenson was an apprentice carpenter and joined the navy on July 12th 1913. He served on many different ships the last of which was the Queen Mary (previously on H.M.S. Iron Duke). His service records show that his character was very good. During Jutland most of the men, below decks, were only able to deduce some idea of what was going on by the vibrations of the ship. He was killed when a shell from SMS Derfflinger struck the Queen Mary, detonated magazines and the explosion broke her in two. Only 20 sailors were rescued, 1,266 were lost. Harry Stenson is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Harry was born in Loughborough on 28th October 1895. He was the son of Henry and Fanny Stenson who lived at 8, Hume Street. He had been a member of Emmanuel Company of the Church Lads Brigade and Miss Cayless’ Bible Class (see page 53).
The end of the once proud Battlecruiser, HMS Queen Mary.
Beatty Leads the Germans to What He Hopes Will Be Jellicoe’s Trap Beatty led his force north hoping to lead the line of German ships into a barrier of Jellicoe’s main force, in a manoeuvre known as ‘crossing the T’. This could have worked except that Jellicoe had to turn away when Hipper released torpedoes. Night closed. 67
Signaller Copson Dies when HMS Sparrowhawk Snags on Another Ship During that frenetic second night when Jellicoe attempted to cut off the German retreat, a flotilla of British destroyers was continuing the attack. HMS Broke was hit and as her helmsman died his body slumped turning the wheel to ram HMS Sparrowhawk’s bridge where George Copson, as signaller, would have been. Some men were thrown on to
each other’s vessels and confused preparations were made for each ship to evacuate crews on to the other. The ships were separated, Sparrowhawk continued to fight but she was finally abandoned. Both sides claimed a victory of sorts.
Signaller George Henry Copson HMS Sparrowhawk 1st June 1916, aged 28, All Saints
George Copson had enlisted in the Royal Navy for twelve years in 1903. He became a miner in Whitwick when his service came to an end. He is commemorated on several memorials, including St John the Baptist, Whitwick, the Council Office Memorial, Coalville and St Peter’s, Loughborough. Signalman George Henry Copson was born in Loughborough on February 10th 1888. He was the son of George Henry Copson, a contractor’s labourer and Ellen née Bateman. He had one brother, Edward and two sisters, Agnes and Mary. He married Florence Theresa Gilson at All Saints, Peckham on September 8th 1912. They had two children, Florence Theresa and Ellen Agnes, both of whom were born in Peckham.
HMS Sparrowhawk, 1913.
‘To greet the lad I’m proud of’. (Courtesy Penny White)
THE SOMME… 1ST JULY 1916 “The Somme” serves as rhetoric for bungling, butchery and futility. Sager souls have noted that the advancing soldiers would have died whether they walked, ran or, as one historian remarked, “danced the Highland fling”. From the Western Front to Manchuria at that stage in industrial warfare, attacks generally failed. (The solution is not to have war). The British generals derided as ‘idiots’ were the same generals who eventually won the war; but British history has chosen neither to forgive nor forget them. It was their misfortune to have to be judged as the generals who had to direct men in battle in 1916 instead of in 1944/5.
Opening day, the 103rd (Tyneside Irish) Brigade, part of the 34th Division, advancing from the Tara-Usna Line to attack la Boisselle on the morning of July 1, 1916. © IWM (Q 53)
The Diversionary Attack on Gommecourt on That Terrible First Day Fate placed Lieut. A Donald Chapman with the Staffordshires whose task was, having made visible preparations, to be targets as a diversion to draw fire away from the real attacks. He was shot through his field glasses, his battalion forlornly stuck, unable to advance, with no realistic chance of being relieved by their Divisional comrades from the Leicestershires who – in the fog of war – lost 14 of their number (none from our memorials, despite being held in reserve. 70
When the Scots, inspired by a lone piper on the parapet, launched their southern half of the same diversion, they were massacred to such an extent that the regiment sent to relieve them passed right through their ranks without realising. Those who reached the rendez-vous point faithfully sat tight for the Scots and Lieutenant Chapman who would never come.
2nd Lieut. Arthur Donald Chapman 5th North Staffs 1st July 1916, aged 24, All Saints
Arthur Donald Chapman joined the 72,000 other names of those having no known grave on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Son of Albert and Clara Chapman of ‘Theydon’ house, Ashby Road, he attended Loughborough Grammar School and in 1911 he was a student in the boot and shoe trade. He was the second of three Chapman cousins to die. At school he had the honour of being the captain of the Football X1. The school magazine reported in his obituary that “none of those who came into contact with him could fail to love him, or forget his gentle and attractive personality and his perfect frankness and straightness”. Arthur Donald and his family (pages 46 and 91) were members of the Longcliffe golf club, father Albert was the captain and Arthur Donald and his sisters appear in their minute book. He was also a member of the Howe and Charnwood Masons and is listed on both the golf club’s and the Mason’s memorials.
The Taylor Family Death should make no distinction to rank or background but the price paid by the world famous Loughborough Taylors Bell Foundry family surely deserves special mention. All four sons (whose mother died in 1911) were eventually sacrificed and their sister Josephine, a Red Cross nurse, invalided home. Three were junior officers and prized targets to the foe. The family laid a massive cast bell-metal memorial to them on the floor of the All Saints bell tower. A fifth son, Robert, had been taken at birth. Lieutenant Pryce Taylor, their sole wounded but surviving son, died without issue. One more step-brother was born whose son died of an unrelated infection without issue in 1961 and the male line was no more.
Derrick Hewitt, local church historian and lay minister, with the Taylor family memorial. (Courtesy Bill Brookman)
2nd Lieut. Arnold Bradley Taylor 9th Leicesters 11th July 1916, aged 23, All Saints
(Photo Courtesy Taylors Bellfoundry Museum)
“By next morning about 100 men answered the roll, so they were sorted out and given a piece of trench about 150 yards along the north side of BAZENTIN to (sic) PETIT WOOD… The troops holding the corner had been obliged to withdraw a few yards as the bombing and rifle grenading from the enemy 90 yards away was becoming intense and there being many casualties.” (from the War Diary). Of A. B. Taylor’s death, just days before the full fury of the Leicesters’ night-attack on Bazentin Wood; in a letter to his father, a fellow officer wrote: “Dear Sir, A few lines to let you know how much I deeply sympathise with you in the loss of your son. It happened about midday. He had just come back to the trench after helping to bring the wounded in when a heavy shell burst nearby and a piece of it went through his body. He only lived a few minutes. I am confident he did not linger long. I am writing this because he was the best chum I had out here and just before going into action we exchanged addresses in case anything happened to either of us. He was the most conscientious subaltern in the company.”
Pte. John William Taylor 111 BSc 31st Alberta Bn, Canadian Expeditionary Force 15th/16th September 1916, aged 31, All Saints
When war broke out Private John Taylor originally enlisted in the 66th Battalion, Alberta (Canadian) Regiment, and was killed in action about midnight near Courcelette in the Battle of the Somme. John William Taylor (the 3rd) was born in Loughborough on 26th March 1885 and educated at Shaftesbury Grammar School and Nottingham University where he obtained a B.Sc.. He worked for his father at the Bell Foundry and became a well-known bell-ringer. In December 1904, aged 19, he emigrated to Canada and spent a number of years as a ‘teamster’ there and also in California.
(Photos on this page Courtesy Taylors Bellfoundry Museum)
2nd Lieut. Gerard Bardsley Taylor
11th Leicesters attached to the 2nd Durham Light Infantry 24th September 1918, aged 32, All Saints Gerard enlisted in the 21st Alberta division soon after the outbreak of war and was made a sergeant. He was described as having “a fair complexion, with light grey eyes and reddish hair. Five feet nine tall, with a chest measurement of forty inches”. Afterwards he received a commission in the Leicesters. Returning to France from leave on 13th September 1918, serving temporarily with the Durham Light Infantry, he was killed on the 24th at Holnon Wood. His death is mentioned in the context of Germany’s 1918 Hundred Days Offensive on page 120. Gerard was born on 12th May 1886. He attended Shaftesbury Grammar School and University College, Nottingham. Whilst living at the Bell Foundry on Freehold Street he played for the Loughborough Corinthians football team. Gerard (middle front row) emigrated to Canada in 1905, aged 18, and spent several years farming in Calgary, Ontario before signing up. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Josephine Taylor In 1911 at age 22, Josephine, sister to the Taylor boys, was living at the Taylor family home, the Bell Foundry House in Freehold Street. Aged 25, October 1914 found her nursing in the military wards at Loughborough Hospital initially for no pay. She then progressed to University Hospital, London and spent from October 1915 to February 1917 in France and at one point was invalided home with blood poisoning. She continued nursing until 1919. However in that time she had lost three of her four brothers in battle and also her father.
Josephine Taylor, their sister, was invalided home with blood poisoning. (Courtesy Taylors Bellfoundry Museum)
WOMEN ON THE HOME FRONT World War One was a catalyst in the lives of the women of Loughborough, as it was for the country as a whole. In a time of cramped homes serviced by outside toilets, gas lighting and heating provided by coal fires filled by hand, day to day life was physically hard and the presence of a male in the family almost a necessity. Men were the main breadwinners, their jobs often involving an element of heavy manual labour, and employment opportunities for women, still characterised as the ‘weaker sex’ - were limited.
The declaration of war on the fourth of August took the country by surprise. As the weekend before had been a bank holiday, many Loughborough women were on holiday with their families in Mablethorpe or Skegness. They returned home to big recruiting rallies in the Market Place for the 5th Leicestershire Regiment. Some men volunteered, happy to accept the ‘King’s shilling’ and go off to France for an adventure they believed would be ‘over by Christmas.’ Only It wasn’t. The war dragged on and husbands, sons, brothers and fiancés remained on active service.
The Women’s Volunteer Reserve (WVR) developed from the Women’s Emergency Corps which was formed in August 1914 with strong links to the Suffragette movement - this picture was kindly gifted by Dennis Powdrill one of our project’s research group and shows his aunt Eva Mitchell (fifth from the left back row)
The introduction of general conscription in March 1916 was extended to married men in May of that year, putting more pressure on women, practically and emotionally. Many conscription adverts in local newspapers also used men’s relationship to women and the urge to protect their families to appeal to men’s sense of duty and patriotism. Womenfolk were actively encouraged to get them to enlist. Slogans such as ‘Women of Britain say GO!” and “It’s your duty lad - Join Today!” were familiar. For many young men such encouragement meant death or maiming in the horrors of trench warfare.
Women had to deal with the practical issues of not having their menfolk around, including the loss of income this could bring. The town, too, felt the impact, with Loughborough’s businesses suffering a huge reduction in workforce and women increasingly called on to make good the shortfall. For some women, this literally meant taking over their husbands’ jobs to keep them open for when they returned. Gradually, as the men of Loughborough were called up for military service, the women stepped forward to take their places and keep the town going.
A picture of Loughborough mother Mrs Almsworth appeared in the Leicester Mercury holding a placard which stated “Down with the Germans. I’ve got six sons fighting them.”
This included working the land, producing the food needed to feed the nation. The Loughborough Echo of 4th May 1917 reported that more women were employed on the land than ever before, many of them former factory workers with no experience or training in farm work. The paper stated they were ‘very keen about their work’ and ‘reliable’ and without them ‘the work could not have carried on’.
Wright’s Mill, Quorn - a major supplier of webbing equipment to the British Army took on many women workers eventually reaching 2,000 employees on rotational shifts.
Most women worked for lower wages than the men they’d replaced, and on the strict understanding that once the war was over, they’d step down gracefully so the soldiers could return to work. Even so, for many women the move into the workforce provided choice, independence and opportunities which had previously been unthinkable.
A badge for men to wear - produced by Wright’s to show that they were engaged in vital war work and had therefore not enlisted. Courtesy Quorn Village On-Line Museum.
‘We never saw my father for 5 years. My mother kept his job on while she could but it got too much for her. She was caretaker at Shakespeare Street School. Everybody said it was going to last a month or two, that’s all, so she tried to keep it on, but it got too much. It was a big Quorn boiler, you know - stoking was too much for her.’ - Unknown lady, East Midlands Oral Archive 75
‘I never liked the factory where I worked. My eyesight wasn’t very good and weaving is a very particular job. I left the factory in September 1917. They were training land army girls at Beaumanor Farm. I had to go up to Hanging Stone Farm to live. We had to get up fairly early. I’d been taught how to milk. We had to go into the fields spudding the thistles and [at] harvest we had to put the shots of wheat up and all that. When you’d been there 6 weeks they contacted them at Leicester and you had to leave. Most of them went on a farm but they picked me for this gardening job. I’d no idea where Nuneaton was, it was like going to America now!’ - Vena Grain, Quorn ‘My friend came and she said “the station master at Rothley has lost two of his porters and he said that he wouldn’t mind if he could get a strong girl to take over.” Mother wrote for an interview and took me over on a Wednesday and he looked at me and he said “you’re not very big but I think you look tough enough.” We had to carry everything up and down 36 stairs. I had to get used to it.’ - Unknown lady, East Midlands Oral Archive Women were called on to help at Loughborough Hospital as injured men began returning home from the Front. Volunteers - many from the middle classes - were trained in cookery, sanitation, bandaging and applying dressings, as well as the proper procedures to follow before, during and after surgery. They cleaned the wards, scrubbing and dusting, set out the trays, lit fires and changed and washed the bedlinen. They also helped wash and dress the men quite a big deal for young women who previously hadn’t been allowed alone with a man if he was from outside their own family. For many it was their first taste of the working world, but from volunteering in quite basic tasks at Loughborough Hospital, some would go on to nursing training and earning payment at the military rate.
One extraordinary woman, Mabel Barker, volunteered at the hospital whilst working as a teacher at Church Gate School, cycling round there after the day’s lessons had ended.
A post war picture of Baxter Gate, showing the hospital, (right) and the buildings that were to later become the X-Ray and records store and the nurses training school.
Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, asked the women of the nation to support the war effort by making garments for the men at the Front. Women made scarves, socks, gloves and sweaters, both to send to the troops and to raise funds for the various war charities that had sprung up. Ladies’ Sewing Circles at All Saints’, Holy Trinity and Emmanuel Churches and the Old Girls’ Committee of Loughborough High School all knitted and sewed. By the end of the war, over a million women nationally had produced five and a half million items, including dressing gowns, bandages, pillows, and blankets.
Josephine Taylor, of the bell foundry family, left a comfortable middle-class home with servants to volunteer on Loughborough’s Military Wards from October to December 1914. She then trained as a nurse at University College Hospital, London, before going to the battlefields of France. She was later sent home with blood poisoning (see her picture on page 73). The wives of prominent local businessmen and dignitaries also volunteered, amongst them Lady Kathleen Herrick, the wife of William Herrick of Beaumanor, and Natalie Wright, daughter of Thomas Wright, the elastic web manufacturer of Quorn. Like Josephine Taylor, Natalie also lost a brother during WW1. Mrs Hilda Corah, daughter of coal merchant George Mounteney, put in over a thousand hours of voluntary work at the hospital before resigning in 1918 when her husband was killed. Image courtesy of the Robert Opie Collection
The fuselage and wings for the Avro 504K being constructed by women trainees in the old Congregational Chapel in Orchard Street. They were then transported to the Brush Factory where the planes were manufactured.
Five hundred and sixty-five men from Loughborough in military service lost their lives in the Great War. With the decision taken not to repatriate their bodies, their widows, sisters and mothers didn’t even have the comfort of a burial or a grave they could visit to mourn their loss. There was a huge hole in people’s lives, and particularly women’s. Hilda Onions reported that her mother, Henrietta Godber, never recovered from the loss of her eldest son, Billie, who was killed on 17th April 1917 shortly after Henrietta had given birth to her youngest son, Morton. The combination of post-natal depression, the loss of her son and the struggles of raising her family under rationing must certainly have been a lot to bear. Across the country thousands of women lost fiancés, and therefore their futures as wives and mothers, many remaining spinsters for the rest of their lives. Some would busy themselves with heavy involvement in the church and traditional female occupations. Others pursued more active lives through embracing new educational and work opportunities, for many had learnt new skills and taken on new responsibilities. Frances Harridge Cayless of Ratcliffe Road, a private governess and a Sunday school teacher at Emmanuel Church, was the eldest of four sisters and never married. She and her sisters became well known in the town for their charitable works.
For one local woman, Lizzie, the scar on her knee and the calliper and spring she had to wear were a firm reminder of the Zeppelin raid, that ‘awful night’ when her friend Ethel was killed as they walked home arm in arm. Other women didn’t achieve the luxury of looking back on the war with even a sense of sadness. ‘My mother said that when the war was over she would stand on her head in the back yard,’ wrote one local man. ‘Unfortunately, she died in the great flu epidemic of 1918. She never lived to see the end of the war.’ Many women must have regretted the encouragement that they’d given their menfolk to join the fight but in the end all of a fit age and status were liable to be drafted. Despite opposition to women keeping the jobs they’d been urged to take in the war years, so many men had been killed that some women remaining in the workplace was inevitable. They were trained and had learned to hold their own in a man’s world. They’d had the chance to do things that only men had done before. The war had taught them they could do things just as well as the men and it had changed the lives of the women of Loughborough forever. 77
THE SOMME – THE NEXT 140 DAYS 2ND JULY – 18TH NOVEMBER 1916
A rare battle photograph of the men of Pte. William Collumbell’s Liverpool Scottish (10th Bn) under fire at Bellwearde the day he received his mortal wound possibly at Guillemont. It was taken by Private Fred Fyfe, a pre-war press photographer, as he lay wounded.
4th July, Bazentin Wood and the Tigers’ Bloodiest Day with 295 Killed in the Fourth Great Loss for Leicestershire Private George Matthews was probably not amongst the 100 men still alive to answer a morning roll-call of the 7th Leicesters night-fighting at Bazentin Wood. At first light they were reorganised to guard 150 yards of trench and 40 detached to support their comrades of the 8th and 9th Tigers who were preparing to attack. This attack was faltering because the enemy was firing rifle grenades at them from
only 90 yards away. The German troops did enough damage to the Tigers to create Leicestershire’s blackest day on the Battle of the Somme. As the 40 men of the 7th worked their way forward again it was realised that the Germans themselves had retreated to their redoubt. The 40 – for now – minus Private Matthews and the remainder of the battalion, who had already perished, survived.
Pte. George Henry Matthews
7th Leicesters Injured 14th July, died of wounds 15th July 1915, aged 38, Holy Trinity Pte. George Matthews died when the battalion was involved in an attack on 14th July on Bazentin-le-Petit Wood. George Matthews was baptised the year of his birth, 1878, at All Saints. He was the son of Henry and Mary Matthews. They were both butchers. Henry died in 1881 and Mary continued running the business. By 1911 George and Mary were living at 14, Cobden Street and George was assisting in the shop. George had two sisters, Mary Ellen and Annie Maria. 78
The Collumbells Run Off to War It seems that Pte. William Collumbell ran away to enlist, dying before his time aged 17. Possibly because he lied about his age, the task for the modern researcher has proved difficult and, it seems, his older brother Frank also joined up in Loughborough at the same time to the same Liverpool regiment. The family bakery business in Wards End, where Frank worked – and it was hoped that William would – was well-known. Oral research has discovered, if not the details of the absconding, then the devastating effect back home of their deaths weeks apart. A third son, Cecil Claude, survived being a mechanical transport driver in Salonika.
Brother Frank died attempting to take the same German strongpoint of Guillemont in September, where his brother probably died. This fury subsided and, after the Armistice, with care and respect, the 121 existing burials were augmented by 1,400 graves from the surrounding battles and finally, child soldier Pte. William Collumbell could rest in what became Guillemont Road Cemetery. Lest we forget Frank, amongst his personal effects were a French/English manual, two devotional books, a crucifix and a rosary.
Pte. William Edgar Collumbell
Pte. Frank Alfred Collumbell (Junior)
William was born in Marlpool in 1899. Frank was born in Long Eaton in 1890. They were sons of Frank Collumbell, a baker, and Jessie née Brown who were married in Derby in 1885. Of six brothers (and three sisters) three served and two died. The family moved to 15, Cattle Market sometime after 1904. Frank worked in his father’s bakery, ‘Collumbells’, which was well known in the centre of town and William worked at the Brush.
Frank Collumbell enlisted in Loughborough on 29th November 1915 and “succumbed” after a “difficult two day operation”. It is probable he received his fatal wounds during the Battle of Guillemont from the 3rd to the 6th September or the Battle of Ginchy on 9th September with the 55th Division.
13th King’s (Scottish) Liverpool Regiment Wounded on 16th June 1916, died 16th August, aged 17, All Saints
10th King’s (Scottish) Liverpool Regiment Mortal injury between 3rd – 9th Sept 1916, died 8th or 9th September, aged 26, All Saints
The Collumbell bakery’s central position in the Market Place meant that many customers were affected by William Collumbell’s death. In fact the photo shows Devonshire Square, the Cattle Market is further up where the present Nat West Bank stands. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Pte. John Waldron lied about his age claiming to be younger than his 50 years in order to join his sons to do his duty. His decision left his 14 children fatherless and social history records with bitterness that “Unfortunately Eliza, his widow, was not able to receive a pension until 1917 because he had not been honest about his age when he enlisted.”
Pte. John Waldron
7th Leicesters 26th August 1916, aged 50, Holy Trinity/St Botolphs Pte. John Waldron was killed in an accident when, along with other soldiers, he was sheltering from the rain under a chalk overhang. This collapsed on him, killing him instantly. There was an inquest. John Waldron enlisted quickly on August 31st 1914, after the declaration of war. His service records show his age to be 34 years and 5 months when in fact he was nearly 50. He was born in Shepshed, son of William and Ann Waldron and was christened at St Botolph’s Church on April 4th 1867. He followed his father into a career in the hosiery industry. In 1891 he was a framework knitter of cashmere. On 13th July 1887 he married Eliza Smith in St Botolph’s Church. They had 14 children. Although John appears to have lived most of his life in Shepshed, by 1917 Eliza is living in Salmon Street, Loughborough.
John Waldron’s wife with her husband John (centre) flanked by two of their 14 children.
L/Cpl. Albert Rowbotham
1st Leicesters, died 15th September 1916, aged 17, Holy Trinity Albert Rowbotham enlisted in May 1915. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Lance Corporal Albert Rowbotham’s youth can be seen in his photograph. He was born in Loughborough in 1898 and baptised at Holy Trinity the following year. He was the son of Herbert, a steam engine fitter and Mary née Cheshire who died in 1911. They were married in 1895. Albert had two sisters, Ethel May and Dorothy Grace. Albert was educated at Loughborough Grammar School after which he was in the service of Loughborough Corporation in the sanitary inspection office.
Fred Hague: “But in 1915, my country said ‘Son, It’s time to stop ramblin’ there’s work to be done’.” (Eric Bogle)
Elation by Australian troops, with German helmets, having taken Pozieres on 23rd July 1916. But the Germans would recapture it and they, with Pte. Fred Hague and others, would have to do it all over again. © IWM (Q 49750)
Pte. Frederick Arthur William Hague
7th Australian Infantry Forces Shot in the neck 17th August, died 19th August 1916, aged 25, Holy Trinity “Pte. William Hague embarked at Melbourne on the HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) Ulysses on 25th October 1915 with 6th Reinforcements, 24th Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade. The 7th Battalion Australian Infantry were taken at Serapeum, Egypt, on 24th February 1916. Embarked at Alexandria in Egypt to join the British Expeditionary Force on 26th March 1916. Disembarked at Marseilles on 31st March 1916. Wounded in action in France on 17th August. Admitted to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck on 19th August 1916. Died of wounds and buried at Becourt Military Cemetery by the officer commanding 1st Australian Field Ambulance on 19th August 1916. A package of personal effects was forwarded to his father. These were a religious book, 8 coins, 2 photos, a stud, 2 pieces of ribbon and a linen bag.” Frederick Arthur W. Hague was born in Loughborough in 1890 and baptised at Holy Trinity later in the same year. He was the son of William Goodacre Hague, a hosiery machine fitter (a fitter builds or assembles the machine ) and Emma Hague née Gibson. Frederick had three brothers, Albert Gibson, Leonard Gibson and Everard. Leonard Gibson Hague was also killed (page 106). Everard served in the London Territorial Engineers. He had five sisters. In 1911 the family were living at 1, Forest Road. In this census most of the family were employed in the hosiery industry but Frederick was a clerk in the timber trade. In 1913 he left Messrs. J Griggs and Co. offices and emigrated to Australia to take up farming.
Sgt. Eric Jacques’ grave is north of Arras near a Casualty Clearing Station and some distance from the Somme. This suggests he was extracted from the continuing Somme battle but died of his wounds before he could be evacuated to a hospital either in France or back in ‘Blighty’. If, as seems likely, he died at Bazentin Wood, he would have been fighting over
the churned earth containing the unrecovered decaying bodies of those 7th Leicesters, including Pte. George Matthews (page 78) from their disastrous engagement of the 14th July. Pte. John William Taylor of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s details begin with his family history on page 71.
Sgt. Eric Ivor Jacques/Jacque (It says Jacques on our church memorial. It also says Ivo and not Ivor. This could be either a transcription error or simply that there was not enough space!) 8th Leicesters Wounded 14th September 1916, died 20th September 1916, aged 24, All Saints Sergeant Jacques joined up at the outbreak of war. He came from an army family having a great-grandfather who had fought at Waterloo. Having descendants born in barracks, he himself was born in Barrow-upon-Soar where, one of nine siblings, his father and older brothers were bricklayers. His family was related to Sgt. William Ainsworth’s family, also military, of Freehold Street (page 21). He died of injuries possibly sustained by a trench mortar during continuing attacks at Bazentin Wood which exploded and inflicted a wound to his jugular vein. Eric went to Rosebery Street School and was a drummer in the St Peter’s Church Lads Brigade. “He was a fine looking man, just under 6ft in height and played for the Old Loughburians football club”. He then worked as a moulder at Messenger & Co., a conservatory and greenhouse factory. It was said that a Messenger conservatory at Combermere Abbey, Shropshire, “almost rivalled” Crystal Palace. Eric was a Sunday School teacher at the very well attended Woodgate Baptist Church, along with Cecil and Herbert Screaton (pages 101 and 116). This church building had been given over entirely to the expanding Sunday School which performed a major role in continuing the education of young people who left day school at the age of 12 or 13.
The successful designation of Ashby Road Conservation Area means that Messenger’s once proud factory survives – just.
L/Cpl. George William Monk
10th Bn Sherwood Foresters Died 14th September 1916, aged 33 Buried in Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, All Saints William Monk’s grave is some way from the Somme battlefield which suggests that he may have sustained his fatal wounds in the attack on Delville Wood in August. Husband of Emily Spencer (formerly Monk) of 26, Barber Lane, Killamarsh, Sheffield; Private George William Monk was born in Chesterfield in 1883. It has not been easy to find any information on George and so this may not be as accurate as we would have liked. The 1901 census stated that a George W Monk was born in Brimington. Further research showed that Brimington is a civil parish within the borough of Chesterfield. If this is correct, George was the son of John Monk, a gamekeeper from Hathern, and Elizabeth Monk née Barson. John died sometime between 1891 and 1901. George had two brothers, Thomas Frederick and John and two sisters, Lucy Jane and Mary E Ellen. By 1911 Elizabeth Monk was living with Ellen at 49, Rendell Street. George was married to Emily, possibly Handy. She remarried in 1919 and became Emily Spencer. It is possible that George never lived in Loughborough.
Cpl. Arthur Phipps (also known as Arthur Pilkington)
10th Bn The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) Died of wounds on 16th September 1916, aged 25, Buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, All Saints Arthur Phipps was almost certainly wounded in August in the very bloody 55th Division attack on Guillemont. Details of Arthur and his brother Herbert Phipps’ family can be found on page 124.
This postcard originally reads: ‘Our “Tommies” soon make themselves at home in the German dug-outs, when they have driven out their tenants with shell, bomb and bayonet.’ Note that these German trenches may be on higher chalky ground making them easier to sculpt and keep dry. (Courtesy Penny White)
THE SOMME, GUEDECOURT the unremembered fifth Great Loss for Loughborough
Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. (© IWM Q 3255).
Commander-in-Chief Haig would not give up on the Battle of the Somme; not wanting to share the blame, Prime Minister Lloyd George would later claim he resisted the military’s demands for ever more men. But if they could push on to Guedecourt, on a rise, it would get the army out of the mud for the winter. Cpl. Percy Godfrey Dakin, Pte. Charles M Grimbley and Sgt. Herbert Bernard Unwin died in the “1,000 yard dash”, mounted in waves, towards the German trenches.
Acting Cpl. Percy Godfrey Dakin M.M. (Military Medal) 8th Bn Leicesters 25th September 1916, aged 29, All Saints
Percy Dakin was one of the first to volunteer in September 1914. He was ‘killed in action near Trones Wood’. When the whistle blew and C Company went over the top, Acting Cpl. Percy Dakin was shot through the head. Thus he missed the fight for the village of Guedecourt which lasted all through that night. His body was never recovered. Mr & Mrs J. Dakin of 19, Cobden Street, Loughborough had two other sons, one of whom was wounded and the other discharged from the army as medically unfit. Prior to the war Percy Dakin, who was unmarried, was employed at the Brush works. 84
Pte. Charles M. Grimbley
8th Bn Leicesters Died 25th September 1916, aged 25, All Saints Private Charles Matthew Grimbley was born in Loughborough in 1890 and baptised at All Saints later in the same year. He was the son of Charles, a boiler maker, and Hannah who had been married previously. They were married in Loughborough in 1883. Hannah died in 1906. Charles Matthew had one older brother, Ernest, and a younger sister, Beatrice Annie. He also had four half-sisters and one half-brother. In 1911 the family were living at 3, Cross Street. Charles Matthew was a puncher and shearer.
Sgt. Herbert Bernard Unwin
8th Bn Leicesters Died 25th September 1916, aged 21, All Saints The Loughborough Echo reported that he was working as a brass-moulder at the Brush Company Works when war broke out, and joined the army at once. “He was a capable young fellow, and was soon marked out for promotion, gaining his sergeant stripes early”. Sergeant Herbert Bernard Unwin was born in Loughborough in 1894. He was baptised at All Saints on 1st March 1896. His parents were Frederick and Ellen Unwin. Frederick had been a framework knitter in 1881 but, as confirmed by census, he was a labourer in 1901 and 1911. Bernard, as he was known by the family, had two brothers, Charles and Joseph, and four sisters: Ellen who had been blind since birth, Elizabeth, Frances and Mabel. In 1911 Bernard was living with his parents at 3, Rendell Street. He was an apprentice in brass moulding at the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Ltd. He also had four half-sisters and one half-brother. In 1911 the family were living at 3, Cross Street. Brother Charles was a puncher and shearer.
As the weather got worse and worse, the attacks were ordered to be maintained and pressed home. The reason given was still to gain high ground before the winter set in. The higher ground was taken – after a fashion – but the captured drier dugouts afforded no direct comfort to Pte. Alfred Manley. He already lay somewhere on the Ancre heights, undiscovered. (See postcard page 83).
Pte. Alfred Manley
12th Royal Sussex Regiment (South Downs) 39th Division Died 21st October 1916, aged 37, All Saints Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial Alfred Manley probably sustained his fatal injuries during the Battle of Ancre Heights. Private Alfred Manley’s family were from Derbyshire. His father was a bricklayer. Alfred had six brothers and four sisters. In 1899 he married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Agnes Brooks in Loughborough. They had four children, all of whom were baptised in All Saints. Alfred had seen his family benefit by moving to Loughborough. He had seen them move from 3 Court, Pinfold Gate to the attractive terraced villas at 13, Rectory Place and his career progress from labourer to carpenter.
Pte. David Spicer
15th Notts and Derby Foresters 2nd November 1916, aged 35, All Saints Little is known of Pte. Spicer’s military history. David Spicer, a domestic chauffeur, was of a humble family of ten living in 4, Pinfold Gate, a tiny terraced cottage. Perhaps as a chauffeur, with roots in Wymeswold, it was his duty to drive his ‘betters’ to the church. Little is known because those living in cramped conditions, in poor circumstances, left so few written records.
THE SOMME, THE BATTLE OF THE ANCRE 13TH - 18TH NOVEMBER 1916
Battle of the Ancre. British wounded at a Dressing Station. Aveluy Wood, 13th November 1916. (© IWM Q 4506)
In the final push of the Battle of the Somme, the Royal Naval Division took the railway station at Beaucourt. Seaman Joe Murray wrote: “We’ve got in mind what we got to do. We know we’re for the slaughterhouse. We know that the 29th Division, the Newfoundlanders, the Essex and everybody else will get slaughtered. We know that!” Lieutenant ‘Jack’ Dewar was the first of two sons of the vicar of Trinity Church to, as Joe Murray (above) predicted, “get slaughtered”. A certain Captain Livens of the Royal Engineers, and his mysteriously titled ‘Z Company’, charged with developing and using flame and chemical weapons, now took the art of war to new depths. Recruiting, it would seem, Lucifer himself to their team, they, from mid-day 12th November, subjected the Germans to tear-gas. This would wear out the German’s respirators ready for the evening when Phosgene would be fired from their specially devised ‘Livens Projectors’ and kill them. The next day, the day that Lieut. Jack Dewar died, the Germans of Infantry Regiment 55 achieved revenge when they devastated what they described as two British battalions advancing close to the river Ancre which included Gunner Richard Tomlinson (page 88). 86
2nd Lieut. Lancelot John Austen (Jack) Dewar 2nd Royal Marine Light Infantry, Royal Naval Division 13th November 1916, aged 20, Holy Trinity Lieutenant Lancelot ‘Jack’ Dewar, Royal Marines, had been prefect, Head Boy, rugby colour, cricket colour and cricket captain of Oakham School. Later, another son, commodified by Kipling as “two thousand pounds of education”, was again not spared when the Reverend, his wife Annie and daughter, Grace, lost Lieutenant David ‘Sonnie’ Dewar B.A. L.L.B.. He died in March 1918 at the Battle of St Quentin (page 113) his dream of being a missionary unfulfilled. In a happier spring-time it was written, “in the Lent Race of 1914, when the Downing boat made five bumps, he rowed bow.”
Leicester Road c.1900. The red brick house on the right is Holy Trinity Vicarage where Jack and Sonnie Dewar lived with their father, the Revd. David Dewar. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
A picture presented to Lancelot’s parents of David and a memorial plaque from Holy Trinity to Jack are at the Carillon museum.
The End of the Somme at the Battle of Ancre The last of our men to die in ‘the Somme’ was Gunner Richard Tomlinson. The staff had been trying to launch this Battle of Ancre since October but on the 27th October the conditions were so bad that General Rawlinson considered it would be
a physical impossibility for the infantry to advance. But they persisted in order to redeem the losses of that first day; to prove to the French we were doing our bit; to mute political discontent in London and to win the war and defeat the enemy.
Gunner Richard Forman Tomlinson G Battery, Royal Horse Artillery 14th November 1916, aged 27, All Saints
From the first day of the Somme, Tomlinson’s battery was ready to dash forward in a breakthrough, then kept in readiness and frequently moved. By October they were at Aveluy Wood, not supporting a breakthrough, but registering on enemy trenches. Attempting to cross the River Ancre they covered an advance by firing on barrage lines. At about 1am on November 14th, Richard was killed at his gun position. Two others with him were wounded. He died at Aveluy Wood casualty clearing centre, known as ‘Lancashire dump’. One of 8 children, the Tomlinson family had connections with Melbourne, Derbyshire. His father was a groom for locally known Squire De Lisle. Richard married Mary Florence Tomlinson when they were both domestic servants at the vicarage at Little Dunmow where Richard became church organist. Richard’s widow, Florence, joined the women’s Auxiliary Army Corps in 1917 and in 1925 married Richard’s younger brother Percy, who had also served, at Loughborough.
Gunner Richard Tomlinson’s boots, spurs and bandolier all mark him out as one who works with horses. The eagle-eyed may spot just one button of his immaculate uniform left undone. (Courtesy Dick Bradshow, his great-great nephew, who was named Richard in Gunner Tomlinson’s memory)
There was to be no breakthrough, but not for want of trying new ideas. The Mark I British tank had arrived in September but was too primitive. Its half-inch armour stopped bullets and its chicken wire ‘roof’ sent grenades lobbed at it bouncing away. But its 6 pound naval gun was light compared to Tomlinson’s horse-drawn 18 pounders; however horses had no armour.
Three days after Gunner Tomlinson was killed, on the 17th, it started to snow. After trying and not giving up or wavering from their objectives since July, the Battle of the Somme was stopped the next day when the snow turned to sleet. It was stopped not by chaos or mutiny, or defeat, but by military order. However the battle lingered on for a few more days for the ‘Glasgow Boys Brigade’. They were cut off and fighting until they finally surrendered on the 21st November.
The reverse caption of this Daily Mail ‘Battle Pictures’ postcard, “passed by the censor”, reads: “War is no longer shell for shell and shot for shot. The unwounding but deadly gas cloud is added to the risks of the masked gunner.” (Courtesy Penny White)
How they got there – Newly enlisted men for the Leicestershire Regiment at Loughborough Station. Date unknown. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
WINTER 1917 – TOTAL WAR “The quickest way to stop a war is to lose it.” George Orwell JANUARY – MARCH 1917 It was still deadlock as 1917 loomed. Nothing worked. No side could get through barbed wire or get past the machine guns, or artillery, or dash round the sides of trenches or sustain a breakthrough. Other fronts failed and would fail. In fact, war-winning technologies and tactics were being developed but they would not mature until 1918 which was cold comfort to those in 1917.
Sgt. Wilson Walker
2nd Sherwood Foresters 4th January 1917, aged 24, Holy Trinity Sgt. Wilson Walker had a long war. Joining up in Kitchener’s Army, he was transferred from the Leicesters to the Sherwoods, was wounded at Neuve Chapelle and after his discharge was sent to the Near East, the Gallipoli evacuation and thence to Egypt where he underwent an operation for appendicitis and returned to England only to be sent to the fighting line once more at the Somme. He was shot through the shoulder and lung whilst walking on the parapet inspecting the wire and died in his officer’s arms. Sergeant Wilson Walker was born in Ripley, Derbyshire in 1892. He was the son of William Walker; this is according to his marriage certificate but in both the 1901 and 1911 census Wilson was living with his grandparents. He was the nephew of John Walker (page 117) who is also on the All Saints Memorial. He married Lavinia Mary Unwin at Holy Trinity on 25th June 1913. They had a daughter, Edna Evelyn and a son, Kenneth. Lavinia remarried Harry Smith in 1919. On leaving school Wilson became a painter and decorator with Mr Warrener.
As the war progressed servicemen were increasingly re-posted into different regiments. Pte. Thomas Thorpe was moved to the 17th Highland Light Infantry who were known as ‘The Featherbeds’
after all their tents were blown away during training requiring them to be billeted in ‘feather beds’. They were a bantam battalion, comprising men who were below the official height for enlistment.
Pte. Thomas A. Thorpe
17th Highland Light Infantry – ‘The HLI’, formally of the Leicestershire Regiment 13th February 1917, aged 20, All Saints We have found no record of how Pte. Thomas Thorpe died. The 17th HLI would fight in all the major battles of WW1 but February 1917, when Pte. Thorpe died, was one of their quietest months of the war.
The warring states believed that the war was existential. It seems they were correct and worst-case scenarios visited the vanquished: the destruction of the Russian Romanov dynasty, the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires and crises in the Middle East up to the present. The German monarchy also went. Arguably Italy lost its own war inspite of being on the winning side, and paid for its defeat with Mussolini. Japan joined the winners, but only out of opportunism and paid – eventually – with Hiroshima in 1945. The losers had to endure starvation, destruction, financial collapse, Nazism, Fascism, Communism and totalitarian terror. Through the efforts of such as Sgt. Wilson Walker and Pte. Thomas Thorpe, Britain joined the winners, including France, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America to experience democracy, freedom and a far more rosy century. 90
Mines at Sea Mines, torpedoes and submarines seemed so impudent. The noblest battleship could now be sunk by such sneaky devices. If an offending mine had been one’s own, had come adrift and had, as in this case, sunk Seaman Arthur Fisher’s M Class destroyer whilst acting as a dispatch ship for the Grand Fleet, the sense of injustice was heart-rending.
Some of the 128,000 mines laid by the British, here on a ship converted for minelaying c. 1915. (Copyright National Photo Company Collection - Library of Congress)
Seaman Arthur Merton Fisher HMS Pheasant 1st March 1917, aged 24, All Saints
HMS Pheasant struck own mine near Hoy, Scapa Flow Ordinary Seaman Arthur Merton Fisher was born in Leicester on 14th April 1892. He was the son of Fred Merton Fisher, a hosiery trade counterman and Emily Anne Fisher née Jones. They were married in Leicester in 1890. Arthur had three sisters, Elsie May, Lily Trengrove and Doris Louisa and four brothers, Fred, Frank, Sidney Elmer and Stanley Ernest. The family lived in Barrow-upon-Soar. In 1911 Arthur was a factory hand and his service records gave his occupation as fruiterer. His records also show that by 1919 his parents had moved to Bleak House, Rendell Street.
The Last Chapman to Die Lieut. Hubert Frank Chapman RE Royal Engineers 31st March 1917, aged 32, All Saints Died of mental trauma As a civil engineer in West Africa, Lieut. Hubert Frank Chapman would have been useful to the Royal Engineers. He died of mental trauma when, like for many others, it all proved too much of a burden for him. He had served in France but was invalided home suffering from shell shock and slow paralysis. He may
already have been suffering from shell shock when he married, in 1915, Lizzie Kate Moss of the well known Loughborough Moss family. Lizzie Kate was a professional singer and sister of another grammar school boy. When he went out to Egypt he was invalided home after only 10 days. He died at the Mental Hospital, Banstead, Surrey. His body was reported as being brought by road from Surrey to Loughborough for the funeral. His end and the traumatic effect it and the deaths of his brother and cousin had on his family are included in the section ‘The Price Paid by the Chapman Family’ on page 46.
FOOD AND FOOD SHORTAGES Fit men were sent to the battlefields and horses were requisitioned to transport equipment. A few men who were deemed unfit for military service were sent to work on the land. Hilda Godber’s brother Sidney, was one of these. He had a hearing impediment. Most of the responsibility for producing the food for both civilians and the troops however, was undertaken by women and schoolchildren.
the work could not have carried on’. Women without family responsibilities were sent away to work on farms - Vena Grain of Quorn (1895-1989) had to leave Wright’s webbing factory at age 15 because of her poor eyesight and was sent to Beaumanor Farm in Woodhouse Eaves for six weeks to be trained in farm work before being sent to a gardening job at a school in Nuneaton for the rest of the war.
As the war progressed food became scarcer, rationing was introduced in 1918 following years of U-Boat attacks on British supply ships. There were queues for essential provisions at grocers’ and butchers’ shops. The Loughborough Echo of 4th May 1917 reported that more women were employed on the land than formerly. Many of them had previously been working in factories and had no kind of experience or training in farm work. However, one employer, a local farmer, (details were withheld presumably for security reasons) reported that ‘they are very keen about their work… are very reliable and are very much better than any male labour one could get now‘ and ‘without the women
Rosebery School - schools had seperate entrances for boys and girls.
In February 1918, records show that Rosebery School had taken over an allotment and that boys left school at 1.30pm every day and were expected to dig until 5pm “until the trenching was finished.” The quad at Loughborough Grammar School was also given over to vegetables. In 1915 the Women’s Institute, which originated in Canada, came to England. It aimed to educate and encourage countrywomen to produce, preserve and cook food for themselves, using the resources at hand. Speaking in 1917, Miss Talbot, Director of the Women’s Branch of the Food Production Department declared “We have to prevent hunger. Every ounce of food which can be grown in this country must be grown and every woman who can give a hand in this vastly important work, must give a hand.” The institutes took this responsibility seriously – for instance no meetings were held in September when women would be expected to bring the harvest in. Many families kept hens and schoolchildren were encouraged to bring eggs into school to be donated to the hospital. One autumn log book entry for Cobden Girls’ School records that “seventy girls attended the Hospital this morning for a short 92
time in order to take their gifts of fruit, vegetables and flowers for the wounded troops”. Food doubled in price during World War 1 and there were many shortages. Food was needed for the soldiers at the front, German U-boats were sinking food supplies coming into Britain, and men and farm horses had been taken to the front. Throughout the war people had been encouraged to save food and not to waste it, but even this was not sufficient and by late 1917 food rationing was on its way in. Rationing was unpopular but necessary. Sugar, meat, flour, milk, butter and margarine were all restricted. Everyone was issued with a ration card. Men and women working in industry or manual labour – and some women in service were allowed a larger ration of bread. People were even encouraged to drink less tea and more coffee and cocoa. There were queues for essential provisions at grocers’ and butchers’ shops. School dinners were introduced for children during World War 1. Many children were coming to school hungry because their mothers were spending so long queuing for food. New foods were also introduced such as tinned tuna, dried soup powder and custard powder that only needed water and egg substitutes.
To try to make things fairer and ensure that everyone received their fair share, the government introduced rationing in 1918. Ration cards were issued and everyone had to register with a local butcher and grocer. The first thing to be rationed was sugar in January 1918, but by the end of April that year meat, butter, cheese and margarine were also added to the list. Some foods were still in short supply even after the war ended, butter remained on ration until 1920. However, the problems had started earlier and were not just to do with U-Boat attacks on shipping. These had reached new heights with the declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare from January 1917. The wheat harvest of 1916 was lower than usual and the potato crop in Scotland and parts of England failed. Food prices rose rapidly as a consequence and made many things beyond the reach of the low waged. The authorities had to take action. In 1917 the Women’s Land Army was formed to provide extra voluntary labour, with ‘Land Girls’ replacing servicemen who had left the farms to fight. The government also created propaganda campaigns encouraging people all over the country to start growing their own food. In the end the attempt to starve Britain into submission by the Axis powers failed but the Allied war of blockade and attrition on them didn’t finally end until July 1919.
Some people fared better than others when they had relatives in the country. “Grandma in Lincolnshire used to rear us a pig every year. We always had a ham and flitches of bacon hanging up in the cellar. It kept for six months down there in the cold. We were never short of meat, even during the war.” - Mrs Diggle, Loughborough As I Remember It For others the situation was more exacting. “I remember queuing at Harry Lacey’s pork butchers in Derby Square with six pence and when it got to my turn there was nothing left.” - anon. Loughborough As I Remember It Women were exorted to fight the war on the domestic front, this from the Win the War Cookery Book: “Women of Britain...... Our soldiers are beating the Germans on land. Our sailors are beating them on sea. You can beat them in the larder and the kitchen” Rationing became necessary to balance distribution and avoid situations like this: ‘There was a queue for butter and margarine at the Maypole [a dairy in the Market Place]. We’d not had butter for a long, long time. We used to mix up some potato with milk and spread that on our bread. When I got to the counter at the Maypole the man said “Go on home, little one. Your mum has been in before you.” My poor mum had died just before the war. So I didn’t get any margarine or butter.’ anon. Loughborough As I Remember It. 93
HERBERT SCHOFIELD AND LOUGHBOROUGH TECHNICAL INSTITUTE’S INSTRUCTIONAL FACTORY
Loughborough Technical Institute was established by the County Education Committee in 1909 to provide day and evening classes in science, technology and art for local workers.
In September 1915 the Institute appointed a new principal, Herbert Schofield, a former engineering apprentice from Halifax who’d won a scholarship to the Royal College of Science and earned degrees in mechanics, mathematics and physics.
Headed by its principal - Mr S C Laws - and two full-time members of staff, the college was housed in the small block of rooms on the corner of Ashby Road and Greenclose Lane which had previously been a library and administrative offices for Loughborough Corporation.
Schofield’s appointment came just months after the passing of the Munitions of War Act with its call for an increased supply of weaponry for the troops at the Front. The Act demanded that additional munitions factories be established across the country and that women be employed in them. This new workforce would need training as machine tool operators, and quickly. At a time when other institutes were training workers through lectures, Herbert Schofield had the idea of providing hands-on instruction in a factory setting. In this way, he believed, workers would become skilled whilst at the same time producing the goods so desperately needed for the war effort. Schofield called this technique ‘training on production’. Schofield spotted an opportunity to try out his own, pioneering ideas for training engineers and though the Institute’s facilities were limited, he immediately offered it as an instructional factory. His offer was accepted and the Institute was given a contract to produce 18-pounder HE shells.
Discharged disabled soldiers and men unfit for service also became trainees. Once trained, both men and women went on to work in munitions factories across the country. After an unpaid probationary period, female workers received between 4½d and 5½d an hour in pay. Men were paid 6d to 9d. Trainees were lodged all over Loughborough. Some stayed in houses set up as hostels, such as The Red House in Burton Walks, Forest View in Forest Road and Sunnyside in Park Road. Others lodged in people’s homes, like a girl called Iris who lived with a family in Toothill Road whilst learning how to make aeroplane wings. With the help of two influential friends - Alderman Alfred Bumpus, the Chair of the Institute’s Governors, and William Brockington, Leicestershire’s first Director of Education Schofield collected £1000 for adapting the workshops and buying the additional machine tools that he needed, most of them second hand. By January 1916 the Instructional Factory was ready for its first trainees – all women. They worked a forty-hour week in groups of as many as thirty. Courses lasted between two weeks and six months and were delivered in shifts, with local women taking them in the evening and through the night.
The Instructional Factory was a success from the start and with financial support from the Ministry of Munitions, was quickly expanded. By the end of WW1 more than 2300 machine tool operators had been trained at the Loughborough Instructional Factory, the majority of them women. Loughborough Technical Institute would continue to train engineers after the end of World War 1, becoming Loughborough College in September 1918 and offering threeand five-year diploma courses to returning servicemen and young men interested in a career in engineering. Trainees worked as shell turners, gauge makers, tool setters, fitters, and aircraft woodworkers. The fuselage and wings for the Avro 504K were made by women trainees in the old Congregational Chapel in Orchard Street and transported to the Brush Factory where the aircraft were manufactured. Loughborough College became Loughborough University of Technology in 1966, taking the shortened name ‘Loughborough University’ in 1996. 95
1917 SPRING OFFENSIVE Arras and the sixth Great Loss for Loughborough 9TH APRIL – 16TH MAY 1917
The ‘Iron Duke’ moves through Arras on its way to the front. The crews would emerge retching from the fumes from the exposed engine. (© IWM Q 6418)
Battle of Arras (9th April – 16th May 1917) Such was the destruction behind the lines after the Battle of the Somme that a renewed offensive in the same area – allowing close cooperation with the French – was out of the question. Arras was the area chosen by the French for the British to attack. Haig didn’t want to fight there – he never swerved from wanting to concentrate further north to break through the German lines and reach the coast behind them. Always he had to compromise and fight where directed by the French or the government – as is right when fighting with an ally who had committed the most troops and in a parliamentary civilian democracy. Haig was also stymied by the impossibility of the task. Any breakthrough behind the German lines to the coast would have inevitably run out of steam. All plans changed when the Germans retreated behind their newly completed so-called ‘Hindenburg Line’ of fortifications. The French were to attack a salient that no longer existed because the Germans had retreated from it, but a plan of sorts was launched anyway. The British were to attack first, drawing German reserves up to counter them and then the French would attack the depleted German lines and a knockout blow would end the war. 96
Pte. John William (Billie) Godber stretcher bearer, 5th Leicesters 16th/17th April 1917, aged 21, Holy Trinity
Pte. Godber was killed carrying a wounded comrade at Brosse Wood when a German bomb exploded killing him and five others. His mother was distressed to realise that he could not be properly buried as his body was so damaged it was hard to positively identify. The eldest boy in a family of seven children, William was employed at Maypole Dairy in Loughborough Market Place. Billies’s mother was very annoyed when he joined up. He had been urged to do it by the women who worked at Lipton’s in Loughborough nearby. His mother told him to take no notice of them but he joined up all the same.
The family had recently moved from East Leake to 10, Thomas Street. In a letter to his fiancée, Maud, the week before he died, William thanked her for the parcel she had sent him containing a copy of the ‘Loughborough Echo’, some bread and butter and eggs. He said he was “looking forward to coming back soon, I’ve had quite enough.” In 1923 William’s mother, Henrietta (left), was chosen by ballot to lay the foundation stone of the Loughborough Carillon (pages 121 and 128), itself built as a memorial to those that fell in The War To End All Wars. On the 16th April 2011, Mrs Hilda Onions (right), Billie’s little sister, aged 100, laid flowers at the Carillon in memory of her brother. In 2014 (below left) she viewed Billie’s inscription on the newly remounted Holy Trinity Church war memorial. In 2015 in a photo (bottom right), aged 105, she holds one of the centenary 888,246 Tower of London ceramic poppies created to represent each British WW1 fatality. She also holds the framed original photograph of her brother (reproduced above) which she had kept “protecting her” concealing her house-keys in her hallway. She said she remembers “as if it was yesterday, he would come home on leave and stride in in his uniform and lift me up and put me on his shoulders. He was brave, he was funny.” She also was carried on her uncles’ shoulders out of Loughborough to Quorn through the night of Loughborough’s Zeppelin raid (pages 33-35) when it was feared that more Zeppelins would follow the first. She died during the creation of this book aged 106. 97
2nd Lieut. Alexander William Leslie
4th Leicesters Injured 21st April and Died of Wounds 23rd April 1917, aged 24, Holy Trinity Lieut. Alexander Leslie enlisted as a private shortly after the outbreak of the war. He was wounded carrying ammunition to the front line and died two days later. Alexander Leslie’s father was a saddler with a business at 43, Nottingham Road. He attended Loughborough Grammar School before joining Parr’s Bank in Ashby as a clerk. Parr’s Bank was established in Warrington, Lancashire in 1788 and came to Leicestershire after the acquisition of the, coincidentally, similarly titled, Pare’s Leicestershire Banking. In 1918 the bank amalgamated with the London County and Westminster Bank which became National Westminster Bank, now Nat West.
On the day Private Walter Robinson was shot whilst on sentry duty the War Diary chose to state “nothing to report” noting one death, presumably Pte. Robinson’s, amongst 13 wounded. On 3rd May the Leicesters’ 6th, (Pte. Harold Partridge) 8th (Lieut Francis Pitts, Pte. John Powell) and 9th (Pte. Arthur Wareham) battalions pressed their attack under a creeping barrage on Fontaine-Les-Croiselles at first light. The Leicesters probed the
Pte. Walter George Robinson 1st Leicesters 24th April 1917, aged 19, All Saints Shot whilst on sentry duty. Walter Robinson’s family had come from Glasgow and lived at 19, Cambridge Street. His brother, Herbert, also served and won the Military Medal for gallantry.
Once a saddler’s and, judging by the surviving sign on the wall, a wool shop. Alexander’s father’s saddle business at 43, Nottingham Road.
new Hindenburg Line, some becoming surrounded; two tanks in support broke down. Consternation and confusion grew as survivors passed back through the 18th Division front which was veering off-target. Others tried to retain formation and hold on through the night until relieved. Accurate information was difficult to report back to HQs as the junior officers had died in such disproportionate numbers or, as in the case of Lieut. Francis Burton Pitts, been shot and taken prisoner.
Pte. Harold Cubiss Partridge 6th Leicesters 4th May 1917, aged 23, All Saints Pte. Partridge enlisted in August 1914. His death completes the list of names of those killed on our memorials from that forgotten black day for Loughborough. In a letter to his parents from a comrade it was reported that, while lifting another man up who had been hit, a shell burst killing the man and striking Pte. Partridge on the back of the head. He was taken into hospital on Thursday evening and operated upon instantly but his injuries were so severe that he died about ten o’clock the following morning. Harold’s father, Harry, a hairdresser and postman and mother, Mary, were both originally from Lancashire. Harold, baptised at All Saints and working at Empress Works before the war, had four brothers and six sisters two of whom had died earlier.
Harold’s family lived at 8, Ratcliffe Road, close to the Brush Engineering Works, canal, and railway. No less than 5 of our men who died appear to have lived on that same road.
2nd Lieut. Francis Burton Pitts 3rd Detachment, 8th Leicesters Wounded and captured 3rd May, died 17th May 1917, aged 27, All Saints
Lieut. Francis Pitts (seated on the right) was the son of the Revd. Thomas Pitts, the Rector of All Saints, who received a letter from his son, now an injured POW, from the German Hospital at Limburg: “I once thought I should never be with you again, I suppose you all heard about our weeks’ doings in France. Well I wonder if anyone ever thought we would get through it. The Red Cross Germans were certainly very good and helped all they could for our injured men and officers. Some dirty work was going on all around us, and our bombardment died for a second. Well it was decided that our party was to move away at once, myself and three men under a German. We waited to arrange about a stretcher case, which did not seem like getting away. Well off we started, we four (of course the British were close to now). We tried one way – no snipers. We tried another, firing too close that one. All I then know was that I had been hit, and was writhing at the bottom of a shell hole, the others vanished. I was in that same German trench within an hour, how it was done, God only knows. A red cross was binding me up, and giving me water. This is about seven or eight days ago, and this is the third hospital I have been to. Of course, I am still in bed, very weak, but the worst is now over. I wonder what it will be like to be on my feet again. Goodbye, I expect Loughborough will see me just about the same sometime.” The Old Rectory and All Saints in the time of Thomas Pitts, c. 1896. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Pte. John Humphrey Powell
8th Leicesters 3rd May 1917, aged 29, All Saints & Holy Trinity Pte. John Powell joined up in 1914 into Kitchener’s Army and survived unscathed until the Battle of Arras where he died with Lt. Francis Pitts and his comrades of the Leicesters described here. Private John Humphrey Powell was born in Wandsworth to parents who married in Guildford in 1878. By 1911 the four brothers and a sister had moved to 4, Glebe Street. John was a machine printer at Corah’s Printers, Woodgate and married Elizabeth Wade at the Baptist Church on Baxter Gate. John Powell’s family house, 4 Glebe Street. It was built on glebe land which was to provide income for the resident clergy. The practice was being abandoned in John Powell’s day and finally ended in 1978.
Pte. Arthur Wareham 6th then 9th Leicesters 3rd May 1917, aged 27, All Saints
Arthur Wareham was wounded a month after being sent out. On that fateful 3rd May he was reported missing in action. As for his comrades, the fighting was so desperate that their bodies were never recovered, and so, having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais. The sad family story of Arthur and his brother, Harry, are told in the chapter beginning on page 28. 99
DEATH ASSERTS ITS DOMINION Preparing for Passchendaele JUNE – JULY 1917
Loughborough Cemetery c. 1910. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
L/Cpl. Herbert Bolton Moore
2nd Royal Warwicks, then the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) 7th June 1917, aged 25, All Saints Herbert Moore was an Air Mechanic 3rd class, he died at Connaught Hospital, Farnborough from causes unknown and is buried in Loughborough Cemetery.
Air Mechanic Herbert Bolton Moore was born in Loughborough in 1891 and baptised at Emmanuel Church in the same year. He was the only son of James Robert Carter Moore, a commercial clerk in a hosiery dyeworks, and Annie Moore née Bolton. They were married in Basford, Nottinghamshire in 1888. James died on 5th February 1902 and Annie then married David Roberts in 1906. In 1911 the family were living in Field Street, Shepshed. Herbert was a labourer in a wine and spirit merchant’s bottling stores.
Pte. Albert Leonard James
102 Battalion Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment 8th June 1917, aged 37, All Saints Having emigrated to Canada in 1906 with his wife Edith, he joined the Canadian Army in October 1915, leaving for France in 1916. Albert Leonard James was born in Tunbridge Wells on 24th February 1880. He was the son of Edward William James, a cabinet maker and machine agent and Jane James née Morley. They were married in 1859. Albert had three brothers, Charles, John Edward and William Walter Henry and four sisters, Helen, Jane, Sarah Elizabeth and Florence Louisa. Albert was employed as a carpenter after leaving school. In 1906 Albert married Edith Green in Loughborough. On The plaque on Albert James’ villa, dated 1897, 5th July 1906 he emigrated with Edith to Canada where he was apprenticed to makes the common mistake of misspelling Mr W Castle, a pianoforte dealer. They settled in British Columbia. Rosebery as ‘Roseberry Villas’. Lord Rosebery
succeeded Gladstone as Prime Minister in 1894.
CSM George William Marchant Taylor 8th Royal Scots Fusiliers 10th June 1917, aged 36, All Saints
“When a teacher at Cobden street schools he enlisted in the army, and at the age of 20 obtained his 1st class certificate whilst serving in Allahabad. He went through the Tibet campaign in 1908, also the Johannesburg raid and had several narrow escapes. As one of the original expeditionary force he was present at the retreat at Mons, also the battle in October 1914, when he was one of the 15 to return out of 300, his top coat riddled by bullets but not a scratch himself, and several engagements of fighting before he returned home at Christmas, 1914, with frozen feet, having been in the trenches three weeks without having his boots off, the water had turned to ice in them. Then on the 16th of June 1915, a week after his father died he was badly injured, and picked up for dead. He had a bullet through his stomach without touching a vital spot, one in his knee, which came out at the ankle; one broke the bone of his middle finger on his right hand, which remained stiff, and one through the palm of his hand. Also shrapnel took away a large part of his thigh. He was in hospital at Milling in Kent for ten weeks, where the doctor told him after all that, he thought he was destined to die in his bed. In December 1915, he went to Seaforth in Sussex to drill some soldiers from somewhere abroad. The weather was too cold so they decided to take them to Egypt. He volunteered to go with them in preference to returning to France, two other officers whom he had been with before going too. From there he was sent to Salonica in April 1916, where on 4th May he witnessed the Zeppelin brought down, and obtained a piece from it to bring home. At the end of the year he was in hospital eight weeks with fever, but said he felt quite fit again and was out in the wilds, miles away from everywhere.” Source: unknown.
Pte. George Henry Barradell
10th Cheshire Rgt, formerly Leicestershire Regiment Died of wounds 13th September 1917, aged 34, All Saints
Pte. Cecil Edward Screaton
9th Leicesters 15th June 1917, aged 26, Holy Trinity Details of his death have not been found.
Died of wounds, little known. George Henry Barradell was born in Loughborough in 1883 and baptised at All Saints in 1886. He was the son of Herbert, a tailor, and Mary née Lincoln. They were married in 1882. George had three brothers, Leonard, Ernest and Arthur and one sister, Mabel. He married Edith Burton in Loughborough in 1907. They had one son called Herbert who was born on June 5th 1914. In 1911 George and Edith were living in Leicester. George was a postman from 1905 working from Loughborough to Swithland but by 1911 he was a town postman. His father had also worked not only as a tailor but as a letter carrier.
Private Cecil Edward Screaton was born in Wakefield about 1893. He was the son of John Isaac, a gardener and Zillah née Spencer. They were married in Wymeswold in 1885. The 1911 census shows that there were seven siblings, three brothers, John, Herbert who was also killed (see ‘Ludendorff’s Tactical Masterpiece Fades’ pages 112 and 116) and Samuel and four sisters, Marjorie, Ada, Kezia who died as a baby and Lizzie. Herbert is on the Woodgate Memorial so it is probable that he attended Woodgate School. In 1911 Cecil was living with his parents at 19, Moor Lane and employed in a hosiery factory.
George Taylor’s family house still looks out over a park, once fields then allotments, at 41, Cumberland Road.
Pte. John William Wilkins
11th Northumberland Fusiliers (Formerly General Service Cavalry) 13th July 1917, All Saints We have no information except ‘killed in action’. Private John William Wilkins was born in Horninglow, Burton on Trent in 1882. He was the only child of William Wilkins, a brewer’s labourer and Sarah Wilkins. He married Mabel G Harris in Loughborough in 1911 and, in the census of that year, is living at 127, Derby Road. He was employed as a hosiery warehouseman. His parents had moved several times presumably to follow employment in the brewery industry. In 1891 they were living in Liverpool.
PASSCHENDAELE and the seventh Great Loss 31ST JULY â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 10TH NOVEMBER 1917
Canadians bring back a stretcher-case, November. (ÂŠ IWM CO 2252)
Passchendaele. As if by infernal timetable it rained on each day of attack. In the resulting mud a junior officer remembered an entire six-horse artillery team which slithered off duckboards and disappeared below the ooze; the driver pulled clear, wild eyed and delirious. The British did not crack, but Field Marshall Haig had promised to the government that he would call off the battle if it did not succeed at the first stage. This he did not do. But Britain and its empire was isolated as the only Entente Power still left fighting: Russia was out, the French in mutiny, Italy in retreat and the Americans not yet in. Haig knew this and drew down the might of the German Army upon his own to give our allies time to rally.
Lieut. Howard Cyril Barrow
Yorks & Lancs Machine Gun Corps 20th September 1917, aged 23, Holy Trinity Little is known of Lieut. Howard Cyril Barrow’s service record. After the Somme the Yorks and Lancs were moved to the relatively quiet Loos sector where it is likely Lieut. Barrow died before the Battle of Cambrai began in November 1917. Lieutenant Howard C Barrow was born in Loughborough in 1894 and baptised in Holy Trinity on July 25th of the same year. His parents were George Richardson Barrow, a travelling draper, and his wife Sarah Caroline Barrow née Allibone. They were married in Wellingborough in 1893. Howard had one brother, Gerald, who was born and baptised in 1902. In 1901 the family were living at 10, High Street but had moved to 11, Gregory Street by 1911. Howard was a pupil at Loughborough Grammar School before joining Barclays Bank in Barnsley. He enlisted in October 1915 and had been abroad for over a year when he was killed. His parents received the news of his death on 20th September. The letter from his O. C. informed his parents that he had shown great personal courage and was a great example to his men. His name is recorded on several memorials including Loughborough Grammar School and Barclays Bank Roll of Honour.
Men of the West Yorkshire Regiment sitting in a captured German pill box waiting to go into action, near the St Julien – Grafenstafel road during the Battle of Polygon Wood, 26th September – 3rd October, part of the Battle of Passchendaele.Note its extremely well-constructed concrete walls and roof. German trenches were intended to be defended indefinately. British trenches were intended as temporary places to attack from. (© IWM Q 2903)
THE BATTLE OF POLYGON WOOD 26TH SEPTEMBER – 3RD OCTOBER 1917
A soldier of K Company, 110th Regt. Infantry (formerly 3rd and 10th Inf., Pennsylvania National Guard), just wounded, receiving first-aid treatment from a comrade. Varennes-en-Argonne, France, on September 26th, 1918. (U.S. Army/U.S. National Archives)
Scrutiny of the efforts in mounting the Battle of Polygon Wood (26th Sept. – 3rd Oct. 1917) – a battle within the Passchendaele grand debacle – will reveal the diligence, care and original thinking undertaken to learn from mistakes which, for the non-military mind, can make turgid reading. We cannot know to what degree those remembered on our memorials were resolved to see it through or who of them abandoned themselves to the futility of their predicaments before they died. The attack did inflict a severe blow on the German 4th Army.
Pte. James Henry Squires (‘Squire’ in some records) 4th Leicesters 27th September 1917, aged 19, Holy Trinity
Pte. James Squires joined up in 1914 but was only sent abroad in 1917 where, after 6 weeks at the front, he was killed in action at Passchendaele. James Henry Squire was born in Loughborough in 1898. His parents, from Yorkshire, were Henry, a tailor and Harriet. He had one older brother, Joseph. Sadly Harriet had had 9 children but only 2 survived by 1911. They lived at 83, Cobden Street. James attended Churchgate School and was later a telegraph messenger at the Post Office. James’ captain wrote that he was, “a brave lad, liked by everybody and quite prepared to do his bit at all costs for his king and country”.
Pte. Frederick West
7th Leicesters 1st October 1917, aged 29, Holy Trinity Sadly, it has been very difficult to find military information on Pte. Frederick West. He enlisted in 1914. Frederick West was born in Loughborough in 1895. He was the son of Mr and Mrs H. A. West. His mother was called Harriet. Frederick worked at the Empress Works before the war. He was described by one of his closest friends as “one of the best”. His address was given as 93, Russell St.
Pte. Signaller John Albert Harvey
7th South Staffs, formerly the Sherwood Foresters 4th October 1917, aged 24, All Saints Little is known of the military history of Signaller John Harvey. He joined up in May 1916, he was killed after a successful attack; his lieutenant asked his family to bear their bereavement bravely. John Albert Harvey was born in Loughborough in 1893 and baptised at All Saints in 1893. He was the son of Joseph Harvey, a ‘beer house keeper’, who died in 1900 and Ruth Ada Harvey née Blatherwick. They were married in Loughborough in 1881. John had three brothers, Joseph Evelyn, William Brey and George Henry Emmanuel and four sisters, Ethel May, Lilian Mary, Ruth Ada and Ivy. All the children were born in Loughborough and baptised at All Saints. In 1901 the family were living at 90, Nottingham Road and by 1911, the family had moved to 139, Ratcliffe Road. John, known as Jack, was apprenticed with Messrs Cartwright and Warner’s, Loughborough and was a hosiery foreman at Messrs Rowley, Derby at the time of his enlistment. He enjoyed several activities, being a former member of the choir at both Stanford-on-Soar and Emmanuel as well as playing for the “Squirrel” football club. John’s brother, George Henry Emmanuel, also served in WW1 fighting with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment.
2nd Lieut. Albert Perkins
149th then 197th Machine Gun Corps 4th October 1917, Aged 27, All Saints Pew Albert joined up in September 1914. His captain’s letter wrote of how he died with friends during a terrible bombardment when a shell burst just outside their shelter and a splinter struck him on the right breast: “In 5 minutes he passed away, quite peacefully and painlessly”. The letter adds: “He died a soldier’s death - to my mind the most glorious death to die.”
Information about Albert Perkins’ family and brother, Norman, who finally expired in 1920, are on page 127. He is shown above, with his distinctive long face, second from right in a friendly match between the Loughborough Hospital and the Loughborough Wednesday teams.
The main Battle of Polygon Wood was over. But on Pte. William Hulin’s last evening alive the 5th, 8th and 9th Leicesters were, after a heavy shelling between 5.30 and 7.30pm, reorganising, offering local support and quietly relieving the front line in the shattered remnants of Polygon Wood. At some point Pte. William Caleb Hulin was “killed instantly” by a bullet which entered just below his heart.
Pte. William Caleb Hulin
7th Leicesters 6th October 1917, aged 34, All Saints Shot on a quiet night in Polygon Wood during the Battle of Passchendaele, Pte. William Hulin joined up in 1914 to Kitchener’s Army and had seen considerable active service. Private William Caleb Hulin, unmarried, was born in Loughborough in 1883. He was the youngest son of Sidney Joseph Hulin, a coach builder from Gloucestershire, and Sarah Ann Hulin née Howell. They were married in Warwick in 1876. William had two sisters, Sarah Louisa, born in Warwick and baptised in All Saints and Lilian and one brother, Charles, also born in Warwick and baptised in All Saints. In 1891 the family were living at 30, Canal Bank, Bridge Street moving to 31, High Street by 1901. William was a coach builder then painter by 1911. Sidney Joseph Hulin died in 1918 and William’s service records show that his effects were sent to his fiancée, Rachel Betsy Yeomans, of the Station Hotel. Before the war William had been secretary to the Station Hotel Bowling Club.
High Street before its widening in the 1920s where William Hulin lived. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
Pte. Signaller Leonard Gibson Hague 8th Leicesters 21st October 1917, aged 24, Holy Trinity
Little is known of how Signaller L. N. Hague died. He is remembered on Tyne Cott Memorial as his body was never identified. Thus we have chosen to place the photograph of the grave of an unknown Leicesters’ soldier from Polygon Wood in his memory. (Courtesy David Humberstone) Sadly Mr and Mrs Hague also lost another son Frederick Arthur William (Fred) in the war. The family story is told on page 81.
L/Corp. Robert Birkin
9th Devonshires 26th October 1917, aged 21, All Saints Robert joined the army early in the war. He was a private in the 5th Staffs before transfer to the 9th Devonshires. It took 4 months before the definite news of his death in No Man’s Land reached the War Office. His captain wrote to his parents hoping that their son had been taken prisoner but sadly this was not to be. Lance Corporal Robert Birkin was born in 1897 and baptised at All Saints on 18th August 1897. His parents were Luke and Mary Angelina Birkin née Cooke. They were married in Loughborough in 1894. Luke Birkin was the landlord of the Windmill Public House although by 1911 he was an engine fitter “at an electrical engineering works”. Robert had one older sister called Doris born in 1896, one younger sister, Irene born 1910 and three younger brothers, Luke born 1902, John born 1906 and Arthur born 1911. In 1911 the family were living at 19, Gordon Street. Robert was an office boy at the Brush Falcon Works.
The Windmill pub in the 1990s. (Courtesy Mick Wallis)
Pte. Sidney Whiteman
1st Worcesters Died of wounds 30th October 1917, aged 20, All Saints Sidney Whiteman enlisted in Loughborough, little else is known. He and the others here joined the 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German casualties of Passchendaele. Private Sidney Whiteman was born in Barrow-upon-Soar in 1898 and baptised at Holy Trinity, Barrow in 1899. He was the son of Frederick Whiteman, a quarryman and Eliza Whiteman née Olive, a framework knitter. They were married at Holy Trinity Church, Barrow-upon-Soar on 4th February 1873. Sidney came from a family of twelve children although sadly three had died by 1911. In 1917 Sidney married Mabel Bucknall in Loughborough. In 1911 Sidney was an office boy. He is commemorated on the Brush Electrical Engineering memorial so it may well have been where he was employed after he left school.
THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN EARLY NOVEMBER 1917
The Advance through Palestine and the Battle of Megiddo, 1918: Australian members of the Imperial Camel Corps near Jaffa in Palestine prepare to mount. Their camels are kneeling in a row, their heads pulled by their bridles towards the mounting riders. © IWM (HU 75737)
Gaza, Beersheba and Sheria Of the Palestine campaign, Jim Tyler had arrived from Salonika with the Foresters and L/Corp. Cotton (page 114) joined him after a second convalescence. Pte. Herbert Smith (page 126) arrived to fight with the 2nd Leicesters, already engaged with the Meerut Division, lately from Mesopotamia (page 60) and Pte. Cecil Loader RAMC arrived to be slain attending the wounded. Pte. Loader “was a born nurse, and I have heard from man after man, ‘as gentle as a woman’. I don’t think I ever met a man with such a gentle touch – a touch that never hurts,” wrote his captain. The Third Battle of Gaza and those of Beersheba and Haria and Sheria, where he died, broke 6 months stalemate. Artillery destruction of Gaza allowed Pte. Loader, Pte. Tyler and L/Corp. Cotton to visit war on Beersheba. The British and Empire troops then closed the gap and visited victorious fury on Sheria which lay between. 108
A troop of the Australian 4th Light Horse (photo next page) sweeping through Cecil Loader’s attacking London battalions took a Sheria redoubt having failed to hear the order to retire. Cecil Loader died whilst attending the wounded under heavy shell fire. The Egyptian Expeditionary Force, 200,000 strong, matched by Laurence of Arabia’s Arab Revolt, advanced, took Damascus and the Ottoman Empire was to be no more. His parents could draw some consolation reading that “your son led – an example to us all for straight living, and making the best of every opportunity the Chaplain could give us of Holy Communion services, and at the last forgetting self for others.”
Pte. Cecil Ernest Loader
London Field Ambulance RAMC 7th November 1917, aged 23, All Saints Pte. Cecil Loader enlisted in Chelsea in February 1915 and served in Flanders, Mesopotamia and Palestine where he died in the action at Sheria. He was the youngest son of 9 children of George Loader, a coal merchant, and Juliette Loader neé Jephson. In 1911 Cecil was an apprentice draper then in business at Adderly and Co. Leicester. In 1891 the family were living at 52, Moor Lane and then 79, Toothill Road.
The Battle of Megiddo, September 1918: A group of Australian Light Horsemen of the Australian Mounted Division sprawled at rest in front of their horses outside Damascus. © IWM (Q 12355)
For Those in Peril on the Sea – Coming Home After Palestine, 1918
Quick assembly canvas-sided lifeboats from the torpedoed HMS Leasowe Castle, 100 miles out from Alexandria. A calm sea but Hussar Jim Tyler (see next page) never found a berth on a lifeboat. (Courtesy of Rowington Records and the Hanson family)
Hussar Pte. Jim Tyler survived Salonika then went on to fight in Palestine in the Desert Mounted Force. He drowned returning to fight in France when Leasowe Castle, sailing from Alexandria, was torpedoed (see previous page). The 2nd Leicesters, with Pte. Herbert Smith, joined the Palestine Campaign at the end of 1917 from Mesopotamia as
part of XXI Corps. Having survived so much and seen victory, Pte. Herbert Smith died on the day after the Armistice from Spanish flu. Such was the enormity of this pandemic and the devastating – but probably not generally publicised – toll it took on our parishes’ soldiers, his details are found on pages 123-126 under the heading ‘The 1918 Flu Pandemic’.
Pte. Jim Tyler
1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (South Notts Hussars) 27th May 1918, aged 21, All Saints Jim enlisted at Nottingham, joining the South Nottingham Hussars. He was probably sent to Egypt in early 1916 just before the Hussars headed for Salonika. He died when Leasowe Castle, sailing from Alexandria, was torpedoed. The Tyler family with 9 children, all baptised at All Saints, first lived at 20, Ratcliffe Road, Loughborough and Jim’s father was a horse dealer. By 1911, Jim’s father had become the keeper of the Corporation Hotel on Wharncliffe Road.
Death, Disease, Gas and Exhaustion Through Another Winter, 1917
German Max Slevvogt’s 1917 ‘Dragonseed’ lithograph from the Leicester Expressionist collection evokes the Greek myth of Cadmus who plants dragon’s teeth which give birth to armed men who simply proceed to kill each other. (Courtesy of Leicester Arts & Museums Service)
One of the paradoxes of the First World War was that, though life in the trenches was difficult and deadly, it was not impossible and that was what allowed the horrors to continue for so long. Industry and farms were maintained at home. Troops could be rotated and sent on leave. Soldiers were paid on time. The ill and injured could be evacuated while hot food, rum, ammunition, weapons and replacements were brought in. It wasn’t easy but a winter could be endured – just – even if individual soldiers, in large numbers, succumbed to trenchfoot, frost-bite, hyperthermia and syphilis.
New Zealand émigré, Rifleman John Gutteridge “died doing his duty for his Empire”. Enlisting in April 1917; in Flanders by October; dead by January 1918, he was part of the 26th Reinforcements bound for the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade, but not used to make up numbers in the 4th NZ Rifle Brigade; by February 1918 their losses were so great they were disbanded.
Pte. Eric Graham Barsby 5th Leicesters 24th December 1917, aged 20, All Saints
Eric enlisted with his brother, Ernest, in 1914 (see page 48). Eric was close to the lines in a village, sleeping in a cellar on Christmas Eve when a shell came over and exploded, gassing the occupants before they had time to wake up and put on their respirators. The family story of Ernest and Eric Barsby is found on page 48.
Pte. Rifleman John Frederick Gutteridge (Guthridge)
Driver Reginald Henman
Rifleman John Gutteridge is buried at Zonnebeke, Belgium. In June 1917 he sailed from Wellington, New Zealand aboard HMNZT 85 “Willochra” bound for Devonport, England.
Driver Reginald Henman had been on active service for 4 months when news received by his parents stated that he had been taking food up to the front line trenches when he was killed by a shell.
4th Bn, 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade 7th January 1918, aged 24, All Saints
Private John Frederick Gutteridge was born in Loughborough on February 10th 1893 and baptised later that year at All Saints. He was the son of John Thomas Gutteridge, a framework knitter and Sarah Jane Gutteridge née Charles. They were married in Loughborough in 1889. John Frederick had three brothers, Arthur, Harold and Frank and three sisters, Alice, Nelly and Elsie all of whom were born in Loughborough. In 1901 the family were living at 22, Lower Cambridge Street and had moved to 19, The Avenue by 1911. John was educated at the Higher Elementary School, Loughborough and became an apprentice joiner. He emigrated to New Zealand where he worked in that trade.
Royal Army Service Corps, 2nd Reserve Park 29th January 1918, aged 19, All Saints
Driver Reginald Henman was born in Loughborough in 1898 and baptised at All Saints in 1900. He was the son of Philip Henman, a builder’s clerk and shepherd, and Ruth Henman née Giles. They were married in Loughborough in 1892. Reginald had three brothers, Philip Arthur, Arthur and George and three sisters, Ethel, Mary Ellen and Marjorie. The family moved from Loughborough to Northamptonshire sometime after 1900. Reginald must have moved back to Loughborough because he was later employed at the Empress works.
LUDENDORFF, FEARING FOR HIS SANITY, LAUNCHES THE LUDENDORFF OFFENSIVE the eighth Leicestershire Great Loss 21ST MARCH – 18TH JULY 1918
Triptych ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ - oil on wooden block board, 1930-37. A partial reconstruction with original sections of the monumental artwork (original size estimated at 2.3m x 5.1m) by Johannes Koelz (1895-1971) who won the Iron Cross. German forces are on the left, Entente on the right, Christ as a crucified German soldier is in the centre. Forced to flee Germany to England in 1937 for creating ‘pacifist propaganda’, incredibly, his arresting officer turned out to be the former soldier whose life Koelz had saved in 1916. Koelz cut up and hid the triptych and the surviving fragments now form part of Leicester’s collection of early 20th century German art. (© 2016 Estate of Johannes Matthaeus Koelz)
Supreme German commander Ludendorff was beyond exhaustion. The Russians were out and America coming in. Ludendorff must not sue for peace on unfavourable terms so attack was the only option. His series of offensives were launched with an 150 square mile bombardment of 1,110,000 shells; two of which had the names written on them (as the soldiers fatalistically said at the time) of George Spencer and Sonnie Dewar.
Pte. Sidney George Spencer
8th Leicesters 22nd March 1918, definite age unknown, Holy Trinity Sidney George Spencer is known to have joined the army on 3rd September 1914 but remains enigmatic. He seems to have spent the entire war as a private leaving no other evidence of his travails other than a ‘letter sent to Cobden Street’. Yet his family appears well documented. He died during the Ludendorff Offensive but has no grave. Our memorial at All Saints also has a name ‘George Spencer’ who may or may not be the same person.
A Sidney (George) Spencer was born in Loughborough in 1885. He was the son of Sidney Spencer, a bricklayer from Whitwick and Charlotte Spencer née Lack. They were married in 1870. Sidney had two brothers, Alexander and Albert and four sisters, Emma, Clara, Frances and Beatrice. In 1903 Sidney married Sarah Ellen Selby. They had one son, Leonard, who was born in 1904. Sidney was employed at the Brush Electrical Engineering Works Ltd.. In 1901 he was an electric cotton winder and by 1911 a traction motor fitter.
Lieut. David Dewar (Sonnie) BA, LLB (Cantab) 16 Bn Machine Gun Corps (infantry) 22nd March 1918, aged 25, Holy Trinity Sonnie Dewar (1893 – 1918) was killed in action. His commanding officer remarked that, “he was the bravest officer and the finest gentleman it was ever my luck to meet.” (See page 87 for the story of the Dewar family)
Memorial to Sonnie.
Ludendorff’s Tactical Masterpiece Fades (28th March – July 1918)
German Army Railway Services lay broad gauge railway sleepers across the old battlefield of the Somme in April 1918. Efforts like this were not enough to prevent the Ludendorff Offensive running out of steam, halted by the efforts of Pte. Callis who died the same month. © IWM (Q 55293)
The pattern – that attacks would fail – was seemingly broken in the titanic Ludendorff Offensive – until it, in turn, failed. Stormtroops led the Germans in a 3 day frenzy of advancing until they reached open country where a kind of torpor overtook them. Mesmerised by spring’s bounty, lack of sleep, exhaustion and hunger, they sat down to gorge themselves at the boulangeries and patisseries of still beautiful rural France. But three German “Paris guns” with a seventy-five-mile range bombarded the capital and Ludendorff launched five more offensives. L/Corp. Chris Cotton went missing and Pte. Bert Haywood (page 123) was captured.
Pte. Joseph Reginald Haigh
7th Bn Leicesters 29th March 1918, aged 28, All Saints Joseph died of wounds on 29th March aged 31 and was awarded the Victory Medal posthumously. To have received the Victory Medal he must already have received the Star Medal issued to those who served in 1914/15; thus revealing evidence of his long wartime service amongst otherwise scanty records. His composite battalion was marching in support of the 3rd Australian Division.
Joseph Haigh was a teacher, his father, Walter, was a headteacher and his mother, Sarah and two brothers, Edward and Walter, also taught. After Sarah’s death, the family moved to 131, Derby Road, Loughborough where her son, Edward, was a master at Churchgate Boys’ School. By 1911 Joseph was teaching in Hitchin and later joined the Royal Garrison Artillery in London. In 1916 his brothers, Walter and Edward, aged 31 and 29, died on the Somme. In 1917 his father died. The boys’ sister, Ida, passed away in 1968 at the age of 82 – she had never married.
Pte. Leonard A. Callis
Sgt. Bernard Jarram MM (Military Medal)
Little has been found on Pte. Leonard Callis
Killed by shell-fire
Len Callis was born in Shardlow, son of Caroline and Albert, a railway trimming shop labourer. He had two sisters, Sarah and Flora. In 1911 he was employed as a coach-builder’s apprentice, living at home with his parents in Alvaston, Derbyshire. By 1914 Leonard was living in Loughborough where he enlisted.
Bernard Jarram M.M. was born in Loughborough in 1890. He was the son of Francis Jarram, a framework knitter, and Emma Jarram née Harris. They were married in Loughborough in 1886. Bernard had six brothers and four sisters. In 1911 the family were living at 23, Lower Cambridge Street where they stayed at least until 1949 when Francis died. Bernard was, along with his younger brother Albert, a compositor at Messrs J. Corah and Son, printers.
4th Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 10th April 1918, aged 26, All Saints
19th Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), attached to 7th South Lancs 18th April 1918, aged 28, All Saints
L/Corp. Chris(tianus) Cotton 1st Sherwood Foresters 27th May 1918, aged 18, All Saints
L/Corp. Cotton enlisted in Loughborough on August 8th 1917 aged 17 and was reported missing on the 27th May 1918, believed to have died. (See page 108 for his campaigns) Lance Corporal Cris (Chris) Burrows Cotton was born in Swanwick, Derbyshire in 1899. He was the son of Crispianus Cotton, a Co-op Store Manager and Sarah Ann Cotton née Vardy who were married in Swanwick on 5th October 1898. Chris had four brothers all born in Derbyshire but all of them were baptised at All Saints. In 1911 the family was living at 61, Toothill Road and after 1920 moved to Crisholme, Forest Road. Crispianus Cotton was a grocer’s dealer while Cris was at school. On leaving, he became an estimating clerk at Herbert Morris Ltd.
‘Morris Cranes’ Originally a pulley block manufacturer from Sheffield, by 1914 Herbert Morris ran a limited company which made “electric, pneumatic and hand operated cranes, pulley blocks, conveyors, runways, etc.” much of which became vital war work when the conflict spread world-wide. The Brook-Lawsons, a Morris family branch, enjoy the tale that, in 1912, the German founding partner Herr Bastert retired to Heidelberg close to where Zeppelins originated. In a fit of pique – so the story goes – he urged that L20, the Zeppelin that attacked Loughborough in 1916, should bomb his old factory – which was indeed targeted that fateful night. (See also on pages 33-35)
Possibly aiming for Morris’s Empress Works, the Zeppelin bombs instead hit Empress Road killing Mary Ann Page (mother), Joseph (18) and Elsie (16). Their father, also called Joe, was serving in France with the RAMC. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
A slightly fanciful interpretation of the layout of the Empress Road Works in 1910. (Courtesy Loughborough Library, Herbert Morris Ltd)
Pte. Walter Sharp
Driver Morton Metcalfe
Walter Sharp enlisted on the 23rd March 1916 aged 36. He went to Etaples, France on the 6th July 1916. In September he received gunshot wounds in the chest and arms and was transferred via Rouen by the 20th Ambulance Transport to the UK on HMS Asturias. In March 1917 he returned to France only to be shot in the arm on 17th June and sent back to England again. He returned to France on 19th November 1917. On May 27th 1918 he was again wounded in action, this time fatally, dying three weeks later.
Died of wounds received in action the same day. News came from the chaplain that he had been dangerously wounded in the head by a shell splinter and did not recover consciousness.
7th Leicesters Injured 27th May 1918, died of wounds 9th June 1918, aged 38, All Saints
Private Walter Sharp (not ‘Sharpe’) was born in Loughborough in 1879. He was the son of Thomas Sharp, a millwright and iron founder and Sarah Sharp née Rose. They were married in Loughborough in 1879. Sarah was Thomas’ second wife. His first wife, Hannah Sharp née Priestly died in 1878 leaving Thomas with three children to care for. Thomas and Sarah had, in addition to Walter, two daughters, Agnes and Florrie and one son, Herbert. The family moved several times. By 1911 Sarah, now widowed, was living at 27, Rendell Street with her four children. Walter was employed as an iron-moulder. His half-brother, Thomas William, was killed in 1915.
44th Reserve Battery, Royal Field Artillery, 88th Brigade 30th May 1918, aged 26, All Saints
Driver Morton Metcalfe was born in Huddersfield in 1891. He was the elder son of James, an insurance agent and Mary Ann née Bushell. They were married in West Bowling, Yorkshire on 5th March 1890. Morton’s younger brother was Percy and his sister, Maude. On leaving school Morton and Percy both worked in the offices at the Brush Electrical Engineering Works from where Morton joined up in 1917. He was a member of St Peter’s Church Lads Brigade and he also acted as deputy organist at Emmanuel Church and was acting organist and choirmaster at Barrow-upon-Soar Church when he joined up. In 1917 Morton married Ellen (Nellie) Wilkins in Market Harborough.
Pte. Herbert Spencer Screaton 4th Leicesters 11th July 1918, aged 22, Holy Trinity
No details are known of his death. The War Diary for that date states, “nothing of importance to report”. Herbert Screaton’s brother, Cecil Screaton, was killed in 1917. Their family details are shown under ‘Death Asserts Its Dominion’ (page 101). In 1911 he was living with his parents at 19, Moor Lane and was employed at a needle makers. In the poor quality photograph (right), probably taken with the popular Kodak ‘Vest Pocket Camera’ designed to be carried in a waistcoat pocket, he has been marked with a biro on the left, smiling and clowning about playing the violin.
15th July, Ludendorff Makes his Final Throw of the Dice As Ludendorff sought to pinch off Reims, the French turned his own defence-in-depth tactics against him and Ludendorff’s last offensive subsided in the chalky downlands of Champagne. Since 21st March, Germany had suffered close to a million irreplaceable casualties – and the Americans were now arriving in France at the rate of 300,000 a month. For the Allies it was the arithmetic of victory. 116
In the 1960s, A J P Taylor, in his history of WW1, ironically titled a photograph of a captured German soldier ‘The evil Hun’. Here are some more evil Hun prisoners at Mareuil in July 1918. © IWM (Q 6877)
Pte. John Walker
Pte. William Ernest Manning
Pte. John Walker enlisted in Loughborough on 18th August 1914 aged ‘29’ and 6 months.
We have not found details regarding the death of William Manning.
6th Leicesters 17th July 1916, aged 40, All Saints
Private John Walker, a baker born in Radford, Nottinghamshire in 1877, was the son of Henry Walker, an iron moulder and Charlotte Walker. He had four brothers, William, George, Harry and Francis, known as Frank and one sister, Gertrude. John married Alice Holmes on 5th May 1897 in Loughborough. They had one son, George William, born on 24th September 1897. Wilson Walker (page 90) on the Holy Trinity War Memorial is the nephew of John.
9th Norfolks, formerly B Coy 5th Leicesters Died of wounds 9th August 1918, aged 27, All Saints
William Manning was born in Heather, Leicestershire in 1892. He was the son of William Manning, a commercial traveller and Beatrice Manning née Ball. They were married in Ashby de la Zouch registration district in 1880. William had three sisters, Maud, Beatrice and Arabella and three brothers, James, Louis John and Sgt. Reginald Frank who was also killed in World War 1 (see page 127). In 1911 the family were living at 74, Oxford Street. William was an ironmonger’s shop assistant. 117
FORGOTTEN VICTORY: THE BATTLE OF AMIENS AND THE BLACK DAY FOR THE GERMAN ARMY 8th–12th AUGUST 1918
THE HUNDRED DAYS OFFENSIVE, AUGUST-NOVEMBER 1918. Battle of the Saint-Quentin Canal. Prisoners in a Clearing Depot, Abbeville, 2nd October 1918. © IWM (Q 9353)
To those at the time still alive and still prepared to see it out, the victory at Amiens was the culmination of 4 years spent refining the art of all-arms offensive with more similarities to a modern battle than the Somme, two years before. This resulted in the “black day for the German army”. Nevertheless, Amiens cost Pte. Albert Hancox his life.
Pte. Albert Frederick Hancox
2nd Lincolns, formerly the Leicesters Died of wounds 13th September 1918, aged 19, All Saints It is likely that Pte. Albert Hancox died from injuries sustained at the Battle of Amiens.
Private Albert Frederick Hancox was born in Stafford in 1899. He was the son of Walter and Annie Hancox née Greaves. They were married in Keele in 1896. Albert had one older brother called Walter Gordon born in Newcastle under Lyme in 1898. In 1901 the family were living in Shrewsbury. Walter was a domestic coachman and gardener. In 1911 the family lived at School Lane, Quorn. Albert enlisted in Loughborough. Sadly, at the time of writing, there is no more information found on Albert Frederick Hancox.
A series of postcards illustrate Charles Wesley’s 1740 powerful and agonised hymn ‘Jesu, Lover of my Soul’. Verse two is shown here. By World War One Hubert Parry’s majestic 1876 hymn tune Aberystwth is becoming accepted as its accompaniment. (Courtesy Penny White)
THE HUNDRED DAYS OFFENSIVE 8TH AUGUST – 11TH NOVEMBER 1918
Battle of the St Quentin Canal (Saint-Quentin). Men of the American 30th Infantry Division at rest with German prisoners following the capture of Bellicourt, 29th September 1918. In the background are British Mark V Tanks with ‘cribs’ of the 8th Battalion, Tank Corps, which were one of four battalions of the V Tank Brigade allotted to the 5th Australian Division and American Corps for the operation. © IWM (Q 9365)
The Ninth Leicestershire Great Loss Brings a Pyrrhic Military Victory Parish men alongside home-country, Empire and dominion troops died in great numbers to win the Battle of Amiens on August 8th. “We have reached the limits of our capacity,” agreed the Kaiser with Ludendorff, “The war must be ended” – but not before just a few more gains to get the best terms. So, in the so-called Hundred Days Offensive, the First World War was fought to the bitter end taking more of our parish young men.
Signaller Alfred John Paltridge
26th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery 9th September 1918, aged 21, All Saints We have been unable to find military details for Alfred Paltridge. Gunner Alfred John Paltridge was born in Loughborough in 1897 and baptised at All Saints later in the same year. He was the son of Alfred John Paltridge, a journeyman tailor and Clara Paltridge née Conley. The couple were married in Loughborough in 1889. Alfred John senior died in 1915 and Clara died in 1912. 120
Alfred had one brother, Henry Richard G Paltridge and two sisters, Frances Emma and Ethel May. The 1911 census shows that although 9 children were born, five had died. The family moved around, presumably with Alfred Paltridge senior’s work. He was born in Plymouth. In 1901 the family were living in Leicester and by 1911 they were in Nottingham. Alfred John junior was a draper’s errand boy.
Pte. Sidney Frederick Benson
4th Northumberland Fusiliers, 21st September 1918, aged 21, Holy Trinity We have been unable to find military details for Sidney Benson. He was buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. Sydney Benson was the son of Frederick, a shoe worker and Louisa. They originally came from Kettering, a centre of the shoe industry, where they began their family, moving to Shepshed then to 8, Hastings Road.
It was during this furious Hundred Days counter-attack launched by the Germans after the Entente victory at Amiens that Gerard Bardsley Taylor (page 73) also died. More British servicemen died in 1918 than in the whole of WW2. For many of them it was due to the flu pandemic. Our servicemen’s combat details are more sparse in this late period of the war due to the tendency to move them around to so many different regiments. Nevertheless, they are remembered at Loughborough’s Carillon War Memorial, now also a museum.
Loughborough’s Carillon, known locally as “The Carillion”. Edward Elgar composed his only piece for bell carillon ‘Memorial Chimes’ for the unveiling in 1923. (Courtesy Graham Hulme)
The day Sgt. George Hague died, “casualties were fairly light” but his battalion was successful in its attack. They had been fighting since 2.30am and, despite finding the wire uncut, were to pass through it with the aid of an artillery barrage.
Acting Sgt. George Hague 7th Leicesters 8th October 1918, aged 39, All Saints
George is believed to have been a regular in the army. George Hague married Charlotte Solomon on 1st June 1903 in Blaby. At that time he was a labourer and living at 4, Irlam Street, South Wigston. They went on to have 11 children so Charlotte was widowed and left to bring them all up on her own. They then lived in Morley Street, Loughborough. His father, also George Hague, was a fitter at one of the many local foundries.
Pte. Herbert Orton
6/7 Bn Gordon Highlanders 14th October 1918, aged 19, All Saints Buried Auberchicourt British Cemetery, France Private Herbert Orton was born in Wymeswold in 1899 and baptised there later in the same year. He was the son of Herbert Orton, a butcher and publican of the Bulls Head Inn, Far Street and Eliza Orton née Tuckwood, eventually of 71, Ratcliffe Road, Loughborough. They were married in Loughborough in 1896. Herbert had two brothers, Thomas William and Albert Edward and two sisters, Sybil Evelin and Daisy Alice.
2nd Lieut. John Charles Wheatley 5th Sherwood Foresters 3rd October 1918, aged 19, All Saints
John joined the Notts OTC in 1917 and was afterwards transferred to the 28th London Regiment, otherwise known as the Artists Rifles. John became a corporal in the Rifles. He obtained his commission in the Sherwood Foresters on 26th June 1918 being posted to the 1/5th Battalion in France in July. He received his fatal injury at Ramicourt and is commemorated at the Vis-en-Artois memorial. His body was never recovered. John Wheatley was born in Loughborough in 1899. He was the son of Charles Wheatley, headmaster of Barrow-upon-Soar Church of England School and Sarah Anne née Renals. They were married in Loughborough in 1898. John had one brother, Eric Joseph Renals, who was too young to serve in the war. By 1911 the family were living in Hoby. His mother contributed £1 to the Hoby war memorial where John is also commemorated.
Ending where it all began. St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons. A 1914 and 1918 cemetery containing burials from the very beginning and the end of the War, with both British and German plots. (Courtesy David Humberston)
The 1918 Flu Pandemic (Jan 1918 – Dec 1920) The 1918 flu pandemic infected 500 million people across the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million. It killed through an overreaction of the body’s immune system. Thus the normally healthy reactions of young soldiers, which were already weakened by war, succumbed, while children, the elderly and the infirm survived because they had weaker immune systems in the first place which were unable to similarly overreact. Wartime censors minimized early flu reports and so the families of our soldiers who succumbed to it, including Gunner Walter Armstrong (page 124) and another half-dozen shown below and into the next chapter, may not have recognised that their deaths were part of one of the greatest pandemics in world history. Censorship was not possible where papers were free to report the effect of the epidemic in neutral Spain creating a false impression that that country was especially hard hit – thus the nickname, ‘Spanish flu’.
Gunner George Giles
Royal Garrison Artillery RGA, Tyne Electrical Engineers, Tyne Coast defences 7th April 1918, aged 28, All Saints George enlisted in Yarmouth; he died in Normanhurst Military Hospital of “cardiac paralysis and pneumonia”. He is buried in Loughborough Cemetery. George Giles, a blacksmith’s apprentice, was the youngest of eight children. The family moved from Walton on the Wolds to Loughborough around 1880. George’s father, Charles, died in 1907. In 1911 he was living, along with his mother, two aunts and three siblings in his older brother Robert’s household in Fern Cottage on Nottingham Road. The women in the family were all employed in the hosiery industry. His mother died in 1930. George Giles’ house. The bay windows indicate a late 19th century house beneath extensive 20th century modifications.
Pte. Herbert Haywood
C Coy. 8th Leicesters Taken prisoner 27th May 1918, died 9th Nov 1918, aged 23, All Saints Pte. Bert Haywood was reported missing on 27th May 1918 when the Ludendorff Offensive broke through the allied lines (page 112). He was, in fact, taken prisoner and died as a POW in hospital at Marche, Belgium of ‘grippe’ – the old term for influenza – on 9th November 1918. He was buried 135km away at Hautrage Military Cemetery. Herbert Haywood was born in Loughborough in 1895. He was the son of Herbert and Alice, née Bennett. Herbert had three sisters, Ethel, Alice and Elsie and a brother, Archibald, who died when he was two. The family moved from 16, Duke Street to 145, Burder Street to 9, Cross Street by the time Herbert joined up. Herbert was a blacksmith’s apprentice and worked at the Brush Electrical Engineering Company.
Gunner Walter Armstrong
Driver Herbert Phipps (aka Herbert Pilkington)
88th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery 3rd November 1918, aged 34 Etaples Military Cemetery, Holy Trinity
Army Service Corps, 51st Aux. Bus Coy. CMT (motor transport) 7th November 1918, aged 28, All Saints Died of pneumonia
Died of pneumonia Walter Armstrong’s service records show that on 12th and 14th June 1917 in St Omer he was suffering from shell shock. His widow received his effects, a belt, purse, 2 knives, 2 titles, disc, 2 blue chevrons, scissors, German button, a letter and 2 cards.
Driver John Herbert Phipps was born in Loughborough in 1890. He was the son of John, a mechanic and Catherine née Carrington. Herbert had one brother, Arthur, who died at the Somme in 1916 (page 83) and three sisters, Mary Ellen, Alice May and Sarah Ann. After the death of their mother in 1900 Herbert and Arthur went to live with their aunt, Emma Pilkington. By 1911 they were living in Heysham, Lancashire where they owned a newsagents in West Street, Morecombe. This explains their alternative names of Phipps and Pilkington. The girls stayed with their father.
Deaths to our men from influenza continue into the next chapter as, in a way that is hard for modern people living in First World countries to conceive of, the pandemic swept around the world killing millions of people. It is even harder to believe that something as common as influenza could cause such widespread illness and death. As bad as things were after the “war to end all wars”, the worst was yet to come. Germs would kill more people than bullets. By the time that last fever broke and the last quarantine sign came down, the world had lost 3-5% of its population.
The skull and crossbones on the mask was not part of the mask as issued, in an attempt to halt the disease. 12,000 died in Australia and between 20-100 million around the world, more than were killed in the War. From the collection of the State Library of New South Wales
Joan Ward (left) pictured with her collection of embroidered cards sent to and from her relatives, including from her father at the front. She is pictured with Madeleine Coburn (right), surveying the results of a card-making workshop in 2014 inspired by the original cards (below). Sadly, Joan died during the creation of this book.
POST-ARMISTICE 12TH NOVEMBER 1918 – 1920
The World as it became – Peace 1919, Loughborough Market Place. The returned soldiers are wearing their campaign medals nicknamed Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and Victory Medal. (Courtesy Loughborough Library)
Shattered Bodies, Shattered Lives Following the conflict many men, their lives subsequently cut short by war wounds, may not have been recorded on a memorial. Expiring from pneumonia one day after Armistice meant that Pte. Herbert Smith was (page 110). Telegraphist, Norman Perkins, mortally afflicted with disease in the Royal Naval Hospital, South Queensferry and brought back to die at home and to lie in Loughborough Cemetery in June 1919, was not. He does have a pew, as does his brother, Albert (Passchendaele, page 105) in the Burton Chapel of Loughborough Grammar School, within the church. HMS President exists today on the Embankment in London as a River Bar for all to enjoy.
Pte. Herbert Smith
2nd Bn Leicesters 12th November 1918, aged 20, All Saints Died of pneumonia, in Alexandria His story was that of the 2nd Leicesters in Palestine, see ‘The Palestine Campaign’ pages 108- 110. Private Herbert Smith was born in Loughborough on 17th May 1898 and baptised at All Saints later that year. He was the eldest child of Ernest Smith, a wood sawyer in a joinery works, and Margaret Smith née Bevington. They were married in Loughborough. Herbert had two younger brothers, William and Henry and four younger sisters, Elizabeth, Margaret, Lillie and May. The family lived with Margaret’s parents at 29, Hartington Street.
Norman Perkins is remembered as having served on or for HMS President which was commissioned as HMS Saxifrage, deliberately designed to resemble a merchantman with hidden weapons. She was one of the renowned ‘Q Ships’ with hidden guns and crew dressed as civilians, with one even posing as the captain’s wife. They would lure U Boats to the surface knowing that the submarine would wish to use its deck gun not wanting to waste a torpedo on such a small target. The U Boat would be attacked when the Q Ship’s guns were suddenly uncovered, the White Ensign run up and the sailors revealed in uniform. HMS Saxifrage was renamed HMS President in 1921 and moored in London.
Ordinary Telegraphist Norman Perkins RNVR
Bristol Z/7455 Wireless Station (Aberdeen) H.M.S. President 23rd June 1919, aged 19, All Saints Pew Died of pneumonia, buried in Loughborough Cemetery. Norman Perkins was an ex-Loughborough Grammar School boy; his father, Harry, was a solicitor and also Loughborough Town Clerk. His mother, Phoebe née Turner, had four children, Ellen May, Harry Edgar, Albert (died at Passchendaele, page 105) and Norman, all baptised at All Saints.
Norman Perkins has taken whatever secrets of his work to the grave shown here, with mention of his brother, in Loughborough Cemetery.
Pte. Signaller Wilfred Davies 2nd then 8th Sherwood Foresters 31st January 1920, aged 20, All Saints
Cause of death unknown. We have been unable to find any military details about Wilfred Davis. Wilfred Davies was born in Loughborough in 1899. He was the son of Henry Davies, a light railways truck builder fitter and Mary. They moved to Barrow-upon-Soar but in 1916 were living at 56, Toothill Road, where the plaque says “Rectory Villas 1888”. The extensive grounds of the rectory, which, as farmland, would provide income for the rector, were sold off through the 19th and 20th centuries. The Old Rectory survives as a museum, (see page 99). Wilfred had three brothers, Charles Henry, Leslie and Arthur David. Wilfred was desperate to join the army. He first followed that call on 3rd March 1916 aged 16 but was discharged three days later, “having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment.” He was to die at home on 31st January 1920 and was buried in Loughborough Cemetery.
Sgt. Reginald Frank Manning
5th Leicesters Died at home 6th January 1919, aged 20, All Saints Cause of death unknown. Buried in Loughborough Cemetery where a firing party attended the funeral and sounded the Last Post at the end of the service. His brother, William, was also killed (see page 117).
Wilfred Davies’ house, No 56 on the ancient Toothill Road.
Sergeant Reginal Frank Manning died at home in Loughborough in 1919. But from what cause? A Frank Arthur Manning of the 4th Leicesters died at Hohenzollern in the Battle of Loos in 1915 and some research suggests it is the same person. If so, he might have lingered on, expiring in 1919.
In the mud, blood and confusion of this terrible war it is perhaps symbolic that the last entry in our ontology is, like the war, confused, sad and unsatisfactory. 127
REMEMBRANCE AND LOUGHBOROUGH’S FAMOUS CARILLON WAR MEMORIAL There were many memorials created across the towns and villages of Charnwood, these included outdoor memorials as well as those in churches, places of work and schools. There was much discussion in Loughborough as in towns all over England, about suitable memorials. The War Memorial Committee asked for suggestions to be sent to them by the 2nd May 1919. Some of the ideas discussed in Loughborough were for almshouses or for a sculpted town memorial such as the one in Quorn by Joseph Morcom who also designed the memorial in Loughborough Parish Church. Another popular idea was for a new hospital or health centre.
Other ideas were also put forward and these were ultimately submitted to a poll. The result of the poll showed that the Carillon idea was backed by the majority gaining 287 votes, closely followed by a monument with 265. Significantly, £1,348 and eight shillings had been pledged to support this idea and much less for the monument and Health Centre.
Records show that in 1913 the hospital was in deficit by £572. During the 1914-1919 war period, some 1,585 soldiers passed through the hospital and put a considerable strain on its facilities. A room at the Baxter Gate church opposite was used as an overspill ward and Nanpantan Hall was also used for wounded soldiers. The last soldiers left in February 1919 and were transferred to Leicester. The demand became so great towards the end of the war that only urgent civilian cases were admitted. Various fundraising events, such as a concert in 1914, were held in the town to plug this gap but even so, by the end of the war, extensive repairs and redecorations were needed and the medical needs of returning servicemen were a pressing concern. In a letter to ‘The Echo’ in March 1919 ‘one interested’ said he was unable to attend the War Memorial meeting but would like to suggest a hall suitably fitted for the use of the young people of the town where they could find recreation during the evenings, and for a sum to be set aside for entertainments and lectures. He thought this would meet an urgent need. Another writer to the paper urged the committee to go for something beautiful saying that ‘Loughborough seems to go for utility… but in erecting the memorial, let us drift for once on the side of beauty and place something in the town to give it a more classic appearance.’ He then went on to suggest that the Fearon Fountain should be removed from the Market Place, renovated and then relocated in either Bedford or Ashby Square and a beautiful monument or group of statuary be erected in its place. The proposal for the Carillon was made by Wilfrid Moss who had lost his son Harold. He had been inspired by a visit to Belgium and seen a Carillon there and thought it would be fitting to construct something similar in Loughborough. 128
The commission for the bells for the Carillon went to Taylor’s whose own family losses were so great in the war the picture above shows the bells mounted in the foundry illustrated below by Paul Gent.
All SAINTS WITH HOLY TRINITY CHURCH All Saints Church, officially All Saints with Holy Trinity is the Church of England parish church of the town of Loughborough, Leicestershire within the Diocese of Leicester. The church itself is sited in the oldest part of the town with the oldest fabric dating to the 14th century (around 1330) but it may well have replaced an earlier Saxon and Norman structure on the site. The church’s location is significant. It is situated on the highest part of the ancient town, reflected in the names Sparrow (meaning ‘little’) Hill and Toothill (from the Saxon ‘tot’ meaning lookout, or watching post). Even today the tower commands extensive views over the town of Loughborough and out towards Charnwood Forest. The principal streets of medieval Loughborough formed a box to the south of the church and are revealed in the names Church Gate, Pinfold Gate, High Gate (now High Street) and Wood Gate. The word ‘gate’ derives from the Danish word ‘gata’ meaning ‘the way’ or ‘route’. These, then, were the gates into what was once probably a fortified settlement or ‘berh’.
It was once widely believed that the town’s name derived from being near or on a lake or ‘lough’, but this theory has now been discredited. The Oxford Dictionary of Place Names suggests that the first part of the town’s name derives from a person’s name, ‘Lehedes’. Thus Lehede’s fortified settlement or ‘Lehede’s burh’ and thence ‘Loughborough’. Surrounding the church in those days lay the manor house and ancient guildhall on the south side, and to the east an inn now called The Windmill, reputedly Loughborough’s oldest public house. On the west side was the Rectory, a grand home for the parish priest from the thirteenth century until 1958. Its remains are now a small museum. There is a suggestion that this was, originally, the first manor house on the site. The church has a grand west tower, two storey south porch, nave, north and south aisles, transepts and chancel with later additions. It is for all intents a large parish church that has grown with the fortunes of the town. The west tower with its pinnacles dates from around 1450 when it was heightened and the clerestory added. Left: Looking down into the church from the restoration works. Above: Peace and Motherhood from the WW1 memorial. Right: The West Tower of All Saints as drawn by artist Paul Gent for People Making Places.
CHARNWOOD GREAT WAR CENTENARY PROJECT MAY 2014 - JUNE 2017
Work on the project began long before May 2014. As with any such initiative someone has to have an idea and that idea has to become a conversation. That conversation took place between the Reverend Rachel Ross and Janet Grant in the previous year. It focused around the hidden and largely forgotten memorials to those of the parish who had died in World War 1 and World War 11. More conversations followed and by the Autumn of 2013 these involved All Saints Church, the Bill Brookman Foundation, Participation in Action and Charnwood Arts. This soon became an advanced call to action and various consultation events took place to guage interest and support for the idea(s) - because now there were a number of things on the table.
Group meetings were held on a regular basis throughout.
Sometimes with a few people and sometimes with many!
All of these discussions with people around Loughborough confirmed a great interest and a decision was made to proceed with a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund! To cut a long story short we were successful - with Charnwood Arts acting as the lead body.
The project took many twists and turns as it developed connecting with the work that other people were doing in so many other ways. At the core though were three or four main aims. Our plan was to restructure the presentation of the memorials to the fallen in All Saints and to give them a more prominent position in the name of remembrance. Secondly, we wanted to engage people with the stories of those who had died on those memorials and also to remember the ten people who were killed in the Zeppelin raid on Loughborough. Thirdly we wanted to engage people directly in conversations and actions that would highlight discussions around what the First World War meant and how it affected the lives of people and why it was still relevant to talk about today.
What follows is a pictoral round up of some of the fantastic things that have happened within the three years of the project to date.
From the beginning there were stalwart volunteers involved in uncovering the stories of those who were named on the memorials kept in All Saints church. 132
This picture is from an attitude survey at Loughboroughâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fearon Hall but there were many wide ranging conversations in Loughborough and across the borough during the project leading to all sorts of organisations and new people working together for the first time. The project actually supported a new wave of social connections that was quite astounding.
The project involved many performances as a way of engaging people in facets of the local history and to encourage reflection on the wider course and impact of the war.
The public launch of the project took place at Charnwood Arts’ Picnic in the Park event in June 2014 with performances by the new Tommy Atkin’s Band, newly commissioned banners highlighting the sacrifice of men from the urban and rural parishes of Charnwood and a ‘fayre’ of stalls for people to engage in activities and handle memorabilia from the period.
The Centenary Project followed up by supporting a special event organised by Charnwood Borough Council in August 2014 to commenorate the beginning of the war itself. This included a special ceremony at the Carillon and an event in Queen’s Park. The ubiquitous Tommy Atkin’s band with their repertoire of World War 1 songs appeared yet again!
These events, from smaller groups such as the Tommy Atkin’s band up to the involvement of local orchestras and choirs involving hundreds of people as participants and audiences. Our first large scale event was ‘The Road to War’ featuring a mix of works by local groups and the fantastic ‘The Armed Man’ by composer Karl Jenkins.
The event was attended by the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, the Right Honourable Nicky Morgan who supported the project throughout. 133
The Loughborough Singers conducted by Richard West perform Karl Jenkin’s ‘The Armed Man’
The second big performance event of the project was accompanied by another fantastic and informative programme designed by Natalie Chabaud and took place in March 2015. This event was developed in collaboration with the Charnwood Orchestra conducted by Nic Fallowfield and focused on works written in connection with the period of WW1. Central to this was the work by George Butterworth ‘The Banks of Green Willow’. Butterworth died in August 1916, shot dead on the Front Line in France. At this point the project to re-site the memorials on the North Wall of the Church was nearing completion. There was a powerful and very moving atmosphere in the church that night!
Charnwood Orchestra rehearse for the concert to mark the re-siting of the memorials to the fallen of All Saints and Holy Trinity churches.
The afternoon of Sunday 19th April 2015 saw a service of rededication in Loughborough to mark the re-positioning of the All Saints and Holy Trinity War Memorials. (opposite and below details of the memorials during the lengthy restoration process).
The conservation and re-siting process constituted a good third of the project both in terms of expenditure and effort. Charnwood Great War Centenary Project are extremely gratetful to architects Acanthus Clewes, Norman and Underwood Ltd and conservators Sally Strachey Historic Conservation for undertaking the project and leaving us with such a fantastic result.
Our project has been keen to involve as many sections of the community as we can and the above photograph is from a special inter-faith peace vigil held at All Saints following the re-dedication of the memorials - see also below:
This round-up of the work of the Great War project can only be partial in the space available - the number of engagements and mini-projects, workshops and talks has been staggering!
Academics were invited to publicly debate General Haig’s record at Loughborough Library.
Many workshops were held with different groups - the one above was based on the many cards sent backwards and forwards between home and arenas of the war.
A schools debate at Loughborough Grammar School brought pupils together from a number of local schools with a fantastic panel of experts.
Above: ‘Old Billy’ - an interactive workshop programme, here pictured at an event with Loughborough Boy’s Brigade, also engaged with schools. Below: ‘Old Billy’ conducts a music workshop with the Anand Mangal group who also worked on textile projects with us.
Some meetings were smaller, including a series of discussion based dinners about a range of subjects. This gave the project a great chance to have more detailed conversations with leading experts. 136
The Great War project initiated a process to investigate the potential of commemorating the Zeppelin Raid on Loughborough, working with Loughborough College, a grant was made by Arts Council England to research, write and stage a remarkable weekend of over 100 performances involving more than 90 local people telling the stories of those affected by the bombing - a fantastic promotion of local heritage and history.
THE CENTENARY GREAT WAR BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE 1914 – 1918 2014 – 2018
Work was completed on the project’s Book of Remembrance in March 2017 - one book will reside in All Saints Church, one in the Carillon Tower War Museum and the other as a transportable item from Charnwood Arts.
Although the project officially finished in April 2017 work related to the First World War and some of the changes it brought to British society continues beyond. The Night of the Zeppelin project has already led to a new historical play (unrelated to WW1) and plans for a new project and play focused on Loughborough’s suffragettes and the attainment of votes for women following the war. Charnwood Arts will also continue to reveal more about the war locally through its People Making Places project and on line resources. 137
SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY Photography Most soldiers’ private portrait photographs were obtained from archived contemporary newspapers, notably the Loughborough Echo and Loughborough Monitor. Newspapers originally obtained these photographs from families; we have credited some photographs direct from descendants. Others came from the Loughborough Roll of Honour website, often obtained from the same newspapers. Copyright has ceased with the passage of time but we thank the websites, families past and present and the Loughborough Echo for their cooperation. We are grateful to Bygone Loughborough in Photographs, and to the Imperial War Museum for their copyright photographs obtained on condition that this publication is not sold for profit. Most modern photographs were taken by Dennis Powdrill and Kevin Ryan. We also extend our thanks to those who had the foresight to archive the images related to Herbert Schofield’s Instructional College initiatives in Loughborough and to Loughborough College and Loughborough University. Certain copyright information is credited with the actual photographs. Otherwise, we have made great efforts to contact copyright holders and if we have made omissions, please contact us.
Text Sources Especial thanks for historical and local knowledge, reminiscences, history and oral sources go to a team led by Janet Grant: Dennis Powdrill, Dr Duncan McNeil, Penny White; plus ‘Lynne about Loughborough’, Karen Ette, Marigold Cleeve, Dr John Sutton, Cynthia Brown, David Hobday of the Leics. Royal British Legion, Derrick Hewitt, Roger Willson and others. We thank Sharon Gray for family history research and other volunteers at Loughborough Library Local Studies department for guidance on text sources, photographs and documents. We would also like to thank Alison Mott and John Brindley for their contributions to this book.
Publications Sources include: ‘Roll of Honour’, Barry Blades, Pen & Sword (2015). ‘Someone Had Blundered’, Regan, G., Batsford (1987). ‘The Somme Ninety Years On – A Visual History’, Duncan Youel and David Edgell, Dorling Kindersley (2006). ‘The Fifth Leicestershire Regiment’, Capt. J.D. Hills, Echo Press (1919). ‘The Truce’, Chris Baker, Amberley (2016). ‘The Good Soldier’ (on Haig), Gary Mead, Atlantic (2007) and ‘Six Weeks–The short and gallant life of a British Officer in the First World War’, John Lewis-Stempel, Orion (2016). ‘Loughborough As I Remember It’, Jean Carswell, Leicestershire Museums Arts and Records Service (1989).
Online Sources include: Wikipedia: Aubers Ridge: http://tinyurl.com/gus6f2a Gallipoli: http://tinyurl.com/zbe822k Meerut Division: http://tinyurl.com/jyazh28 Third Battle of Gaza: http://tinyurl.com/gwphbas Battle of Beersheba: http://tinyurl.com/zp49das Loughborough’s online blogger, Lynne about Loughborough: http://tinyurl.com/z7rhtfq Project Gutenberg Online: http://tinyurl.com/joznu4l About conscientious objectors: History Stackexchange: http://tinyurl.com/joq5dso Google Books UK: http://tinyurl.com/h5x76pf Peace Pledge Union: http://tinyurl.com/jf9gf9o No More War: http://tinyurl.com/jhxooov Oxford University on the Battle of Arras: http://tinyurl.com/gmb68sg ‘Captain JD Hills Letters From the Front’ – online blog from the Royal Leicestershire Regiment (Leicester Tigers’) Association and Leicester City Council: http://tinyurl.com/z3t48l4 Loughborough Echo and Leicester Mercury on-line services.
Penny White, Rebecca Abrahams, Val Wilson, Janet Grant and Dennis Powdrill research with Philip French (centre), Curator of Later Leicestershire Social History at Newarke Houses Museum.
(Courtesy Madeleine Coburn)
This striking 2m x 2m quilt was created in 2015 by Quorn Country Crafts Quilters whose members come from villages in Charnwood led by Margaret Bates, a parishioner of All Saints with Holy Trinity Church. It contains the WW1 Names of the Fallen from the Holy Trinity memorial enhanced with poppy emblems and the badge of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment (known as the Leicester ‘Tigers’).
Glossary of WW1 military ranks and formations commonly appearing in this book: Private, Pte. or Pt. – the lowest rank, an ordinary soldier, known also as a gunner in the artillery and a trooper in the mounted cavalry or Yeomanry. Lance-Corporal or L/Corp. or L/Cpl. – a lance-corporal has one stripe (or chevron) on his upper arm and may be in charge of a section or squad of 4-6 privates. Corporal or Corp. – two stripes, in charge of more men. Sergeant or Sgt. – three stripes, advising officers and in charge of a platoon or troop of about 35 men. More senior sergeants are staff and colour sergeants, in charge of 120 men. The regimental sergeant major or RSM will have regimental duties and responsibilities or oversee a battalion of up to 650 officers, soldiers and equipment. Adjutant – an officer who assists a more senior officer. Second Lieutenant or 2nd Lieut. – the first rank held by a commissioned officer. Lieutenant or Lieut. – normally commanding a platoon or troop of around 30 soldiers. Captain or Capt. – second in command of a sub-unit of around 120 soldiers. Major or Maj. – commanding a sub-unit of 120 soldiers. Regiments were divided into battalions of about 600 men each. These battalions may not be together but spread across the globe. Battalions (from all different regiments) were formed into brigades which were formed into divisions and divisions into corps. Several corps may comprise an army. Enfilade – to fire at enemy from their side. Salient – a bulge where the line of defences intrudes into that of the enemy. BEF – The British Expeditionary Force: The British Army on the Western Front in France. 139
FOR THE FALLEN With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free. Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night; As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain, As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.
This iconic poem was written by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.
On behalf of the Charnwood Great War Centenary Project we would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the efforts to remember those lost and for joining us with love and in peace.