The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
Officers who died serving in the 1st Battalion
[Please note that although the list itself is complete, I have yet to include all the information I have gathered on each individual.]
By using the volumes of "Soldiers Died in the Great War" as a foundation and amending the roll according to information found in the battalion War Diary, regimental history, newspaper clippings I have come across, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database details and the officers' service records (where available), this roll is as accurate as I can achieve. Any additions or amendments will be added as I come across them but please contact me if you are aware of a discrepancy in the details shown.
This roll of honour is in chronological order of the date the Officer in question died.
Killed in action 15th September 1914, aged 30
Cecil was born in Madras, India on 4 November 1883, the only son of G.D. Ker who lived at Moorland House, Whitechurch near Tavistock at the time of his death. He was married to Dorothy Ker.
Originally a Bedfordshire Militia officer who served in the South Afrian Wars, Cecil joined the regulars after returning home and was gazetted into the Bedfordshires in July 1903. He was promoted to Captain in November 1912, at which time he became a company commander.
Captain Ker survived the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the retreat to Paris and the Marne, but was killed during heavy shelling as the battalion were in support around Missy during the Battle of the Aisne.
Cecil is buried in Vendresse British Cemetery, 16km south of Laon.
His service record does not appear to have survived at the National Archives.
Died of wounds 18th September 1914
Captain McCloughin was wounded during the Battle of the Aisne, specifically during the battalion's river crossing at Missy late 13th or early 14th October. He died several days later and is buried in Vendresse British Cemetery, 16km south of Laon, having probably moved from another burial site.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/6163
The entrance to Le Touret Memorial to the Missing
The Regiment's Officers who are remembered on the memorial
The Battalion were engaged heavily in the Battle of La Bassee in October 1914, during which fighting nine of the following eleven officers were killed:
Killed in action 13th October 1914, aged 23
Lieutenant Stafford was from the Reserve of Officers, but was attached to the 1st battalion after he landed in France on 12 September 1914. In a letter home, he remarked to his parents how the voyage across the Bay of Biscay had made him ill and that he was not yet propery fit despite having joined the battalion. A short time afterwards, his parents recieved a second letter stating that he and a further seventeen officers from the regiment "have started on our way to - somewhere!" as replacements for those officers already lost.
Shortly after these letters, Claude was killed during the Battle of La Bassee.
He was the son of Mrs Florence Stafford of Bushmead Avenue in Bedford and the late Charles Calvert Stafford. Claude has no known grave but is remembered on Le Touret Memorial to the missing.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/110.
Died of wounds 14th October 1914, aged 23
James was from the 4th battalion, attached to the 1st battalion when killed during the Battle of La Bassee.
He was the son of Frederic Shippey, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal and his brother, Cyril Shaw SHIPPEY fell in the 8th battalion a year later. James lies in the Bethune Town Cemetery and his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/8457.
Died of wounds 18th October 1914, aged 23
Villiers was from the 3rd battalion, attached to the 1st battalion when wounded during the Battle of La Bassee.
Lieutenant Downes is buried in Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery and was the son of Catherine E.A. Downes, of Aspley House, Aspley Guise, Beds., and the late Lt. Col. C. Villiers Downes.
His brother, Archer Chernocke Downes also fell during the war.
Died of wounds 19th October 1914, aged 23
Leonard was mentioned in Despatches for bravery during the fighting that took his life and lies in the Bethune Town Cemetery. He was the son of Wyndham H. and Annie D. Rendell, of Octon Lodge, Taunton.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/8363
Killed in action 22nd October 1914, aged 22
Lieutenant Coventry was Mentioned in Despatches for bravery during the battle he was initially posted as missing in action in.
He was the son of John and Emily Mary Coventry of Burgate Manor, Fordingbridge, near Salisbury and has no known grave so is remembered on Le Touret Memorial to the missing
The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the Missing
Officers of the Regiment who are remembered on the memorial
The battalion were next engaged in the First Battle of Ypres and lost two of the following six officers then, with the balance dying as a result of wounds recieved in action during the Battle of La Bassee:
Killed in action 22nd October 1914
John was in the 3rd attached to the 1st battalion when he was initially posted as missing in action. Later confirmed as having been killed, he has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing
Killed in action 26th October 1914, aged 25
4th attached to the 1st battalion. Second Lieutenant Charlton was the son of St. John Charlton and Elizabeth Bronwen Charlton, of 9, Sloane Gardens, London and lies in the Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez having died from wounds received at La Bassee.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/7923
Died of wounds 30th October 1914, aged 22
Walter was born at Dibrugarh, Upper Assam in India on 24 March 1892, the son of Richard Beaumont Walker. Educated at Bedford Grammar School, he was a keen Rugby player who later went on to play for the Rosslyn Park Football Club.
Walter has granted a commission in the Bedfordshire Regiment on 27 January 1912 and joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. Becoming a Lieutenant in May 1914, he was attached to the 1st Battalion when war was declared and sailed to France with them, landing 16 August 1914.
Lieutenant Walker was in A Company during the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne, which he came through without a scratch but the Battle of La Bassée was to see the end of his life.
On the morning of 26 October 1914, a German bombardment hit the battalion lines and Lieutenant Walker was caught by shrapnel as he moved through his company positions, wounding him in the abdomen.
De Ruvigny's obituary records that "his motto was 'blood and iron', which he appeared to live up to. He was never know to grumble at hardships or pain. When he was lying on a stretcher in a communications trench for several hours during the fighting he constantly spoke cheerfully to the supports and reserves who had to pass him on their way to the fire trench."
Although moved back to the Casualty Clearing Station at Gorre later that day, he died four days later. Lieutenant Walker was buried in No.33 CCS, which today is the Bethune Town Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records he was in the 3rd battalion, attached to the 2nd battalion; efforts are under way to correct this.
[With thanks to Stephen Cooper for providing a copy of the De Ruvigny's entry]
Killed in action 7th November 1914
Walter Graves was born in Islington late in 1884, the son of Walter (an Architect) and Fanny Graves. His younger siblings - Ella and Henry - followed 1887 and 1891 respectively.
Spending his younger years in Islington, education at Worthing College, then Haileybury College followed. Walter spent a 3 year apprenticeship at "a large London Engineering firm", joining the Bedfordshire Regiment's 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion. He was attached to the 1st DCLI until the death of his father in June 1907, at which time he had to retire following family pressures.
In July 1908 he moved to Cardiff where he established himself as a partner in the coal and pit wood exporter Messrs Williams, Ambrose and Graves, based fromt eh Cardiff Docks. He had a deep interest in social, educational and municipal matters and was asked to run for the Roath Conservative Ward which he won in November 1912. Walter was active in many committees including every mental health group he could help with. By this time, Walter had develoepd a reputation as a "Young man of great promise".
When war broke out he relinquished his seat, announcing that he had to "rejoin the regiment" but did not wish to draw an income and leave his constituency without full time support. Walter was reinstated as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion in August 1914, his promotion to Lieutenant following on 3 September 1914.
Lieutenant Graves was in a large draft which landed in France 15 September, finally arriving with the 1st Battalion on the front lines on 14 October, during the Battle of La Bassee. They were involved in the heavy fighting around Givenchy until the end of the month, being pulled from the line and rushed north to Ypres, to help hold the line against the latest German attacks.
After going into the front line in the woods around Herentage Chateau, east of Ypres, on 6 November, Lieutenant Graves was killed during the heavy fighting as the British line held back the massed German assault of 7 November 1914.
Although his official date of death is recorded as the 9th November in some documents, eye witness sources refer to his death being on the 7th when the battalion were heavily engaged rather then the 9th when the fighting had died down considerably.
Walter's grave was initially unknown but a year after his death, a wounded 1st Bedfordshires' Sergeant in hospital reported that it was "buried 600 yards south-east of the portion of ornamental water in the Herontage (sic) Chateau grounds".
As the family had nowhere to focus their mourning, the memorial plaque below was erected by his widowed mother (Mrs. Fanny Graves) in the church in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
In June 1925, during the battlefield clearances, a mass grave containing mostly unidentifiable remains was uncovered near the remains of Herentage Chateau. Among them was an officer, later identified as Walter Graves from the numerals on his person, being his Long Service Number. The soldiers - mainly Bedfordshires who had fallen during the 7th November 1914 fighting - were interred together in the same section of Bedford House cemetery.
What remains of his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/19994
Killed in action 7th November 1914, aged 28
4th attached to the 1st battalion.
Robert was educated at Harrow (Rendalls's 1889-1903) and Christchurch, and was a member of the Bath Club as well as being a member of Lloyds of London. He joined the 4th Battalion in 1912 becoming Lieutenant in March 1913. When war broke out he offered his services and was attached to the 1st Battalion, who he arrived with in October 1914.
The "Harrovian War Supplement" for December 1914 included a letter from his Company CO, Captain Monteith. In it, he describes the events around Robert's death:
"The enemy had broken through the line of trenches held by the battalion on our left, and it's break caused part of our trenches to be vacated also. Our company was in reserve, and we formed up and brought off an entirely successful counter attack, driving the enemy back, killing many and capturing 25 prisoners. It was in this counterattack that Harding fell, leading his men up a lightly wooded hill. I did not see him fall, but missed him when we got to the ridge, and on going back found him quite dead. Death had evidently been instantaneous. I had formed a very high opinion of his gallantry and coolness. I could rely on him always and he had gained the confidence of his men, though he had only been with the company a month. He was always bright and cheery and it was a real pleasure to have his company on the line of march or in the trenches."
Robert Dennis Stewart Harding was killed in action on the 7th November 1914, aged 28 south of the Ypres-Menin road. He was the only son of (the late) Mr Stanley Greville and Mrs Edith Harding of 15 Lowndes Square S.W. London and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Although various sources state the 9th as the date Robert was killed, the action and description above supports the date being the 7th November.
(With thanks to John Hamblin for the "Bond of Sacrifice" pre war Bio and photo)
Died of wounds 31st December 1914, aged 19
Edwin was born in Brixton 13 March 1895, the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Edwards. Educated at St. John's College, Brixton and at Dulwich, Edwin was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment June 1913. He was noted as being a good left handed tennis player and was 'fond of boating'.
Second Lieutenant Edwards joined the 1st Battalion on the Western Front at Paris early September and fought through the Battles of the Marne and the Aisne, before being badly wounded at Givenchy, during the Battle of La Bassee, on the 15th October.
He died from his wounds some months later at Fishmonger's Hall hospital for Officers, London Bridge, and lies in the Long Ditton (St.Mary) Churchyard.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/9003.
Killed in action 15th January 1915, aged 39
3rd (Reserve) Battalion, attached 1st Battalion
Basil John Orlebar was born on the 8th of September 1875 and educated privately and at the Currie Engineering Schools Folkestone and was for some years a civil engineer in the employment of several leading firms.
He joined the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment in November 1909 becoming Lieutenant in March 1911 and Captain in June 1912 qualifying at the Hythe School of Musketry. He joined the battalion from the 3rd battalion on the 4th September 1914, having been rushed across the channel after the heavy losses at Mons the previous month. He was present at the engagements of Crepy (en Laonnais), the Aisne, the Marne, Givency, Festubert, La Bassee, Neuve Chappelle and Neuve Eglise. However on the 15th January 1915 he was killed instantly when a shell landed on top of his dugout as his Company held the front line trenches at Wulverghem, just west of Messines.
Basil was the son of Mr and Mrs John Orlebar of Silsoe in Bedfordshire and the husband of Barbera Florance Orlebar from The Dene, Triangle in Yorkshire, whom he married on the 12th September 1912. He is buried in the Dranoutre Churchyard which lies a few kilometers west of where he was killed. According to the Bond of Sacrifice, Captain Orlebar gained great credit in the field for his soldierly qualities and died, to quote the words of one of his men, "a soldier and a gentleman".
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/8529
(My thanks to John Hamblin for the obituary information)
Killed in action 15th February 1915, aged 47.
William was born 24 May 1867 in Creaton, Northamptonshire, and served in the South African Wars as a Sergeant in the Imperial Yeomanry.
When war broke out in 1914 he was an Inspector for the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and on 12 September 1914 he applied for a commission in the 3rd Suffolks. Second Lieutenant Landon landed in France early December 1914 and joined the 1st Battalion on the front 28 January 1915.
William was the son of Major James Henry Landon of Creaton House, Northampton, and Mrs. Katherine Louisa Landon (formerly Markham). He lies in the Dranouter Churchyard, 12km south of Ypres centre
Killed in action 13th March 1915, aged 23
4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion attached to the 1st Battalion
John was born on the 27th of December 1891, the second son of the late Reverend J.H.Sutton Moxly, Principal Chaplin to His Majesty's forces. He was educated at Victoria College, Jersey where he took the King's Gold Medal for classics and was head of his school. In 1910 he was elected to a King Charles I Scholarship at Pembroke College, Oxford. There he obtained a second in Honour Moderations, a second in Greats, and was preparing for a career in the Civil Service when war broke out.
He applied for an Officers commission immediately and was gazetted into the 4th (Reserve) battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on the 15th of August 1914, landed in France on the 2nd January 1915 and joined the battalion within days. John spent the time he served in the battalion around Wulverghem and St. Eloi, south of Ypres and endured the daily sniping and shelling duels that typified the first winter of the war.
On the 12th March he was sent for by the O.C. to supervise the repair of a section of trench that had been blown in, as the Company Captain next to his post had been wounded. Whilst lifting a wire entanglement onto the parapet he was killed instantly by a sniper who "shot him through the heart". His commanding officer wrote "It was the death of a brave and devoted gentleman. He was always the same; resourceful, alert, loved by officers and men, as good an officer as one could ever wish to meet"
He had served just two months in the trenches before he was killed on the 13th of March 1915 near St Eloi, aged 23. John is buried in the Ramparts Cemetery in Ypres itself.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/17332
(My thanks to John Hamblin for the Roll of Honour information and Martyn Smith who forwarded his obituary that was shown in the St.Neots and County Times, 3rd April 1915)
The battalion found themselves in the line at Hill 60 when the ferocious fighting for the small but significant mound broke out. They lost over 500 men during their stay on and around the hill, including the following seven Officers:
Killed in action 19th April 1915, aged 20
Educated at Westminster School, Esmund arrived in the battalion 17th to 21st January 1915 with 2/Lt Charles KIRCH (below) who also fell the same day. He was the son of Lawrence and Gertrude Mary Kellie, of 191, Portsdown Rd., Maida Vale, London.
Second Lieutenant Kellie has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/24529.
Killed in action 19th April 1915
Charles was born in Hong Kong, the son of Lily Kirch and went to Gresham School in Norfolk.
His attestation papers show he enlisted on 6th August 1914 and became Private 1604 in the Artist's Rifles. Charles stood almost 6 feet tall, was 19 years, 5 months old and worked as an Assistant in the Anglo-Persian [Mining?] Company, although his writing makes it difficult to be certain!
He went abroad with the battalion on 26th October 1914 and on 31st December 1914 he was granted a Temporary commission in the Bedfordshire regiment. At the time he was single and gave his address 40 Princes Square, Bayswater in Middlesex with his mother being the only next of kin, living in Hindhead and New South Wales.
He arrived with the 1st Battalion whilst they were in billets at Bailleul and spent his tour holding the line around Ypres. On the 11th April 1915 the Battalion were moved to opposite Hill 60, where they provided support for the evening attack on the German stronghold on 17th April. During days of furious attacks and counter attacks, the Battalion lost over 400 men, including Charles who was acting as Company Commander and declared missing at the time.
After his death, Major Walter Allason wrote to his mother saying "He did not know what fear or danger was".
It was some time before he was officially declared dead rather than missing, with his mother being officially informed on the 21st of May. On the 28th of June she received a letter through her bank in London that he had been buried in the grounds of Ypres Asylum although he was later moved to the Bedford House Cemetery. His wristwatch and strap were returned to her as was his diary. Charles' estate passed to his mother in the sum of £90, 8s and 10d.
His service record is held at the National Archives under WO339/24530, with his Officers' service number being 45221.
(With thanks to John Hambling for the picture from 'Bond of Sacrifice')
Killed in action 21st April 1915, aged 20.
4th battalion the Prince of Wales (South Staffordshires), attached to the 1st Bedfords (although CWGC records attached to the Royal Berkshires).
Lieutenant Webb arrived with the battalion 26th March 1915 and was killed within a month as they held the fiercely disputed Hill 60, south of Ypres.
He was the son of the late Charles Boyer and Adela Dorothy Webb, of Elford House, Staffs and lies in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, 2km south-east of Ypres centre.
Killed in action 21st April 1915, aged 28
William was born 30 March 1887 in Westminster Road, Hanwell, the son of Thomas Joseph Knight and Margaret (formerly Bennett).
A solicitor from Kilburn before the war, William rejoined the Inns of Court O.T.C. in September 1914, having served between 1906 and 1912 before. He was commissioned and posted to the 4th (Reserve) battalion the Prince of Wales (South Staffordshires), attached to the 1st Bedfords.
Second Lieutenant Knight arrived with the battalion on the 25th March 1915, in the same draft as his comrade John Webb (above) and fell on the same day as John Webb.
He has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 26th April 1915
Robert was born 5 March 1893, the son of H.H. Fawcett, whose address at the time of Robert's death was the War Office.
He was educated at Uppingham School, then Emmanuel College, Cambridge, being an Undergraduate and living at Oaken Cottage, Berkhampstead when he applied for a commission on 5 August 1914.
Lieutenant Fawcett was in the 4th (Special reserve) battalion, attached to the 1st battalion and is buried in the Tuileries British Cemetery, 3km east of Ypres centre.
Killed in action 5th May 1915, aged 29
Eric was born 11th September 1885 at 16 Richardson Street in York, the son of Arthur Hopkins, an organist, and Annie (formerly Tucker) Hopkins.
Before the war Eric gained a B.A. degree from Leeds University and was a Schoolmaster at Elstow School in Bedford when he applied for a commisson on 3rd August 1914.
He was commissioned into the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion and served abroad with the 2nd Battalion from mid September 1914. Second Lieutenant Hopkins was wounded during the First Battle of Ypres and convalesced at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, until late November, after which he joined the 1st Battalion on the front.
Lieutenant Hopkins was among the long list of those who were killed defending Hill 60 and has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/12788.
Died of wounds 9th May 1915, aged 25
Sheldon Arthur Gledstanes was born at Ealing on the 25th of May 1889, the only son of Francis G. and Georgiana Sophia Gledstanes from Berry Hill, Taplow, Buckinghamshire.
A publication called the "Bond of Sacrifice" records:
"He was educated at Eton and joined the Bedfordshire Regiment from the special reserve in May 1910 becoming Lieutenant in March 1912 and being promoted Captain in March 1915. He was a member of the Conservative and other clubs and was fond of most games, cricket, football, rackets, hockey, golf and tennis. He was one of the original Expeditionary Force and had nine months service at the front when he received on the 6th of May 1915, the wounds from which he died three days later on the 9th of May.
The following particulars of his death were given to his family by his Commanding Officer; Captain Gledstanes was in command of a trench near Hill 60 and he and his men had gallantly held it for two days, in spite of asphyxiating gases, bomb attacks, and heavy artillery fire, and also in spite of the trench being enfiladed by the Germans, having occupied a trench on the right thus taking them, not only in the flank, but partly in reverse. Fortunately, the good work done by Captain Gledstanes was carried on after he was wounded and the trench was held until the men were relieved, though many were sick from the gas, wearied and sleepless, cut off from the rest of the line, and continually harassed by hand grenade attacks. The authorities recognised the achievement as one of the finest episodes of the war."
Sheldon Gledstanes landed in France with the Battalion in August 1914 and took part in the early battles of the Great War, around Mons, Le Cateau and Ypres. After a dreadful first winter in the trenches, he was commanding the right sector of the lines held by the Bedfords to the left of the famous Hill 60. At 6.30pm on the 1st May, the Germans launched a surprise attack and smothered the area with their new gas shells, high explosives and waves of assaulting soldiers. Many sections were not attacked as the gas blew back onto the German positions and during this early engagement, Private Warner of the 1st Battalion won his Victoria Cross. A few days of relative quiet followed as the Battalion shrunk still further from men reporting in violently ill from the effects of this new and dreadful weapon.
On the 4th May, the lines were shortened to account for the severe lack of men to man them, leaving the Germans to take over the vacated portions of the British lines and their artillery renewed its bombardment, "knocking the trenches about" severely. The following morning, at 8am, a new gas barrage was unleashed and the Battalion to the right were driven from their positions, leaving the Bedfords dangerously exposed. A large attack on the left was repelled with horrendous loss to the Germans and Captain Gledstanes' right section was continually shelled, bombed and fired on by machine guns and rifles. Several times that day the Germans got into their positions, only to be bombed and bayoneted out again in one of the most desperate brawls of the battle. Ferocious grenade skirmishes continued all day and the Germans eventually worked around the open right flank from which position they enfiladed the Bedfords from the right and rear. Despite the odds and hopelessness of their situation, the remnants stayed in their battered trenches and fought off attack after attack. Lt Whittemore alone claimed over 50 Germans with his rifle that day and their small band grew even smaller.
Late that day, Captain Gledstanes was wounded but remained at his post, encouraging his men and helping to fight off the Germans himself. There they remained until the 7th May, when the exhausted survivors and those who had survived from their piles of wounded were finally reached and relieved. By that time, Captain Gledstanes' wounds were too severe and unfortunately he died two days later. He lies in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery, 15km south-west of Ypres and was the son of Francis Garner Gledstanes and Georgiana Sophia Gledstanes from Berry Hill, Taplow, in Buckinghamshire. He is also remembered on his family's local memorial at Taplow, Buckinghamshire.
Captain Gledstanes was mentioned in Sir John French's dispatch of the 31st of May 1915 in recognition of his bravery during the desperate struggle to hold the isolated position.
As a fitting end to the story, in October 2007, Bill from America got in touch. He had just become the proud owner of Captain Gledstanes' tunic, a photograph of which is to the left. On the label inside the collar is Captain Gledstanes' name, presumably written in his own hand.
It is fitting to learn that, nine decades on, part of his story still survives and is being cared for by someone who will cherish and care for it.
(My thanks to John Hamblin for the Bond of Sacrifice information and photograph and to Bill for the photograph of Gledstanes' tunic)
Although Major MacKenzie served in the 1st battalion in 1914, he moved to and was killed in the 2nd battalion. His biography can be seen here.
Killed in action 11th July 1915, aged 20
Rupert was born 20th January 1895, the fourth son of the Right Reverend Lord (Rupert Ernest) William Gascoyne Cecil and Lady Florence Cecil and was educated at Westminster School. At 6 feet tall, Rupert was certainly above average height for the time and applied for a commission on 17th August 1914, giving his occupation as an Undergraduate at Christchurch College, Oxford.
Lieutenant Cecil landed in France on 13th May 1915 and within days of joining the 1st Battalion, was wounded on 23rd May. He returned to the battalion on 18th June once he had recovered, only to be killed within a matter of weeks.
When the Germans blew a large mine on 11th July and followed it up with an artillery barrage, Lieutenant Cecil was among those killed, either from falling debris or during the barrage.
He is buried in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, 2km south-east of Ypres centre.
Rupert's father, the Right Reverend Lord William Gascoyne Cecil, the Rector of Hatfield and later Bishop of Exeter was one of history's characters. Devoted to his position in life, he appears to have been so wrapped up in his vocation as to become absent minded on occasion, as his entry in Wikipedia reads that "He would feed crumpets to the rats and throw powdered copper sulphate on the fire in order to turn the flames green. Once, while robing in the vestry before a service, he held a handkerchief between his teeth, but forgot to return it to his pocket and proceeded to the altar with it still hanging from his mouth. He was heard to complain that the Bible was 'an awkward book', and would often ring up his wife to ask where he was."
Reverend Cecil also sheltered a Belgian family for four years during the war and, although entitled to use the Bishop's Palace in Exeter during his time as the Bishop of Exeter, chose to live more modestly out of town, cycling to his parish daily and opening the palace to the war's wounded.
Two of Rupert's three brothers, John Arthur and Randle William, also fell during the war, making the family's loss a high one indeed.
Killed in action 11th March 1916, aged 24
Charles enlisted as a Private in the Hertfordshire Regiment and was commissioned into the Bedfords, arriving with the battalion in the line October 1915.
During a 'routine' tour of the front lines, Second Lieutenant Cook was shot by a sniper and killed instantly.
Charles was the only son of the late W. H. and Mrs. Cook, of Hertford and lies in the Cabaret Rouge cemetery, Souchez.
The Arras Memorial to the Missing
The weathered panel which shows the names of the Regiment's officers who are remembered on the Memorial.
Killed in action 29th March 1916
Frederick Whittemore was born in Cotton End, Bedfordshire, the son of Henry and Emily Whittemore.
Declaring himself as 18 years and 5 months old, the Farm Labourer was already serving in the county Militia (3rd Battalion) when he enlisted into the regulars of the Bedfordshire Regiment in January 1896, becoming Private 5546 in the 2nd Battalion. He transferred to the 1st Battalion in India in 1897 but rejoined the 2nd in February 1902, during the South African Wars. A year later he was posted to the Depot and married Lizzie Laura Lightfoot in April 1905 but rejoined the 2nd Battalion two years later and worked his way up through the non commisisoned ranks until becoming a Colour Sergeant in 1910.
Frederick remained with the 2nd Battalion throughout their service in Gibraltar, Bermuda and South Africa, rising to the rank of Company Sergeant Major in February 1914. When war was declared, he returned to Europe with his battalion and landed in France 6 October 1914. CSM Whittemore fought with the 2nd Battalion during the First Battle of Ypres and was commissioned in the field 17 October 1914. Second Lientenant Whittemore was among the battalion's long casualty list, being wounded during their determined stand against a massed German assault on 29 October 1914.
After recovering from his wounds and gaining a promotion, Lieutenant Whittemore returned to France and joined the 1st Battalion on 2 May 1915, when he was thrown straight into the battalion's costly defence of the infamous Hill 60, on the southern edge of the Ypres salient. As battalion Sniping Officer, Frederick was in the thick of things from the outset and accounted for over 50 of the attacking German troops himself during their stand, but was gassed and wounded in the hand on 5 May 1915.
An extract from the book 1st Bedfordshires; Mons to the Somme reads:
'Lieutenant Whittemore shot over fifty Germans alone during the day's fighting before being wounded by a bayonet in the hand and suffering from gas poisoning, a fate that he shared with Lieutenant Small. Curiously, Lieutenants Whittemore and Small had in common many experiences during the war: both had been NCOs in the 2nd Bedfordshires; were injured at Ypres on 29 October 1914, and had been commissioned together, arriving with the 1st Bedfordshires only a few days earlier. Now they were wounded in the same trench, would be loaded onto the same hospital train and would both recover in No. 4 General Hospital in Versailles. Whittemore would be awarded a Military Cross for his part in the defence and be back with the battalion at the end of the year.'
He rejoined the 1st Battalion on 1 December 1915 and the Military Cross was gazetted in January 1916.
Following twenty years of service in the regiment and having served through two wars, Lieutenant Whittemore, MC, was mortally wounded during a night patrol on 29 March 1916. His comrades tried desperately to recover his body, but despite several attempts, were unable to reach it. As a result, Lieutenant Whittemore is remembered on the Arras Memorial to the missing.
He can be seen here in the 3rd battalion officers' group photograph from 1915, which is where the his photograph to the left comes from.
Died of wounds 18th May 1916, aged 31
Reginald arrived with the battalion in October 1915 and was shot at 3am on the 18th May whilst examining a mine.
He succumbed to his wounds before medical aid could reach him and lies in the Faubourg D'Amiens cemetery, Arras. Reginald was the son of John W. and Mary A. Green, of "The Larches," Luton.
He can be seen here in the 3rd battalion officers' group photograph from 1915.
Killed in action 18th June 1916, aged 30
Although some databases refer to him as being killed in the 4th battalion, Second Lieutenant Millson was actually killed serving in the 1st battalion.
Edgar was educated at Epsom College and was a Railway Engineer in Columbia, South America when war broke out.
He was killed by a sniper whilst examining the enemy lines through his looking glasses at 4am.
Edgar was the only son of George Millson, O.B.E., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., the Medical Officer of health for Southwark, who lived at 20 Angell Rd., Brixton, London, and Mrs. Sarah Eileen Millson.
He lies in the Faubourg D'Amiens cemetery, Arras.
Died of wounds 26th July 1916, aged 25
Second Lieutenant Sherry was wounded on the 23rd July, whilst in charge of pushing several fortified posts towards German positions between High Wood and Delville Wood and died from those wounds three days later. He was the son of John and Eliza Sherry of Rusholme, Manchester, as well as the husband of Amy Nancy Sherry of 29, Stafford St., Gillingham, Kent.
Gerald was mentioned in despatches for his bravery and lies in the Heilly Station cemetery, Mericourt L'Abbe, 10km south-west of Albert on the Somme.
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
Officers from the Regiment who's names are remembered on the Memorial.
The following six officers fell during the battalion's operations against the heavily fortified village of Longeuval, during the Battle of the Somme, along with around 500 other casualties over the three day period:
Killed in action 27th July 1916, aged 23
Henry was the son of Claude E. C. H. Burton and K. G. Burton, of 20, Claremont Avenue, Woking, Surrey and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 27th July 1916, aged 27
Alfred was the son of Alfred and Harriette Hayhoe, of Newmarket and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing
Killed in action 27th July 1916, aged 28
Archie was born on 1 April 1888 in Switzerland, the son of James Frank Holland, M.D., and Jeanette Holland. He was educated at Harrow School, then Merton College Oxford. His father had spent time attached to the British Consul in St. Moritz and Archie became a Bank Clerk before war broke out.
Enlisting on 3 September 1914, Archie initially joined the ranks of the 18th Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools and University Corps) as Private 1634, although on 17 May 1915 he was discharged to commission. After training in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion he was posted to France in January 1916.
Initially serving in the 10th Entrenching Battalion, he was atatched to the 1st Bedfordshires in the field several months later. Taller than many of his peers at the time, Archie stood almost 6' 2" in his socks, which would have made him an ideal target for enemy snipers.
Second Lieutenant Holland was among those killed during the battalion's costly assault on Longueval and his grave was among those lost in the subsequent fighting, so he is rememebred on the Thiepval memorial to the missing.
In what appears to be an extract from a letter to his parents after his death, one of his men wrote:
"I know how bitterly you will feel Archive's loss. At the same time you must be proud that he died while doing so nobly his duty. Our Commanding Officer told me, soon after he came to us, how very proud he was to have such a fine officer in the battalion. He was greatly liked by both officers and men, and on works was the most painstaking officer I have ever had."
At the time of his death, Archie's parents lived at 6 Queen Anne's Gardens, Bedford Park, Chiswick, London
Killed in action 27th July 1916, aged 20
Norman was the son of Alexander and L. F. A. Wemyss, of 24, de Parys Ave., Bedford and lies in the London Cemetery and extension, Longueval on the Somme.
Killed in action 31st July 1916, aged 23
Second Lieutenant Gaussen was trained in the 9th battalion, later being attached to the 1st. He was the son of the Rev. Charles E. and Mary Gaussen, of Fairview Cottage, Lord's Well Lane, Crowborough, Sussex and lies in the Dernancourt communal cemetery, 3km south of Albert.
Killed in action 30th July 1916, aged 20
Arthur was born at Newent, Gloucestershire on the 19th of March 1896. He was the son eldest son of William Norris Marshall MRCS MRCP of the Red House, Newent and Adela Frances Grace, the daughter of the Reverend Peter Wood Rector of Newent and Canon of Middleham Yorks. Arthur attended Dean Close School where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. On leaving school he took up a post as a clerk at Lloyds Bank, Farringdon, Berkshire.
He volunteered at the outbreak of the war and was commissioned into the 4th Battalion on the 16th of June 1915. Second Lieutenant Marshall was transferred to the 1st Battalion from November 1915, arriving with them on the 4th December at Fricourt.
Having survived the carnage of the 27th July, when over 300 Bedfords were killed or wounded, Arthur was killed by a shell at Longueval on the 31st of July 1916 as the Battalion fought in the same area and sustained almost 200 more casualties.
Arthur died aged just 20 and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Theipval Memorial. At the time of his death he was a resident of Canden Lawn, Portland Street, Cheltenham.
(My thanks to John Hamblin for the pre-war bio and his photo)
The following six officers were killed during the battalion's involvement during the Battle of Guillemont, during the Battle of the Somme:
Killed in action 3rd September 1916
Second Lieutenant Banyard joined the 1st battalion from the 3rd (Reserve) battalion on the Somme 18th August 1916, along with Vincent Sanders (below).
He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing
Killed in action 4th September 1916, aged 19
Vincent was born in Hornsey, London, to Henry Frederick and Amalia Sanders (nee Stanton) on 17 Janaury 1897. After education at Pitmans Metropolitan School he became a Bank Clerk.
Adding two years to his age, Vincent enlisted as a Private in the Royal Fusiiers on 7 September 1914, becoming Private 222 of the 17th Battalion. In February 1915 he was discharged to a commission and trained to become an infantry officer in the Special Reserves, at which time his true age was revealed!
Joining the 1st Bedfordshires around Arras on 1 December 1915, he spent time in the Divisional School and by May 1916, internal memos remarked how his education and experience had improved significantly, especially when under severe bombardment during the battalion's first tour on the Somme. Promotion to holding a commission in the Regulars followed on 4 June 1916 and after a spell in hospital from mid July to mid August, he rejoined his comrades in time for their latest assault during the Somme campaign.
Joining C Company alongside James Banyard (above), both officers were killed during the ferocious assault aainst the fortified Faffemont (Falfemont) Farm, their company coming under heavy artillery fire from both sides before attacking in support of D Company's charge up the heavily defended slope.
Although the farm was in their hands by the time the sun set, 17 of the 20 officers who went forward and almost half of the 'Other Ranks' had been killed or wounded, with the rest of their brigade also losing heavily as they were pinned on the slopes in front of the fortified farm.
Like so many of his comrades who fell during the battle, Vincent is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing
Killed in action 4th September 1916, aged 24
Second Lieutenant Blake had only been with the battalion for three days when he was killed in action.
He was the son of William Henry Blake, M.B. and Elizabeth Alice Blake, of Bowers House, Harpenden, Herts and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 4th September 1916, aged 23
Addison was born at home on 29 April 1893, the son of James Harold and Mary Howard of The Grange in Kempston, Bedford.
After educaion at Bedford Grammar School and King's College in Cambridge - at which he was a Sapper in the University's RE Company O.T.C. - he joined his family's well know local business 'Howards' (J & F Howards) manufacturing Agricultureal implements at the Brittania Iron Works.
On 19 January 1915 he was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment and posted to the 3rd Battalion for training.
From 31 August he was on sick leave courtesy of a tonsillectomy which later heamorraged and caused his sick leave to be extended until around February 1916.
Once his re-training had been completed and he had been passed as fit for active service, Lieutenant Addison was sent to France, laning on 20 May 1916. What he did for the next three months is unclear but he arrived with the 1st Battalion in the field on 27 August, but was killed a week later during his first battle.
According to a report in the Bedfordshire Times and Independant, he was killed instantly by a shell explosion, during the battalion's assault against Faffemont (Falfemont) Farm.
He lies in the Guillemont Road cemetery, Guilllemont, 12km east of Albert on the Somme.
The Addison Howard Park in Kempston was named in his memory and BLARS hold a collection of his cousin Douglas' papers, who was wounded in the same battalion and on the same day as Addison.
Killed in action 4th September 1916, aged 20
Dion was the son of Albert Edward and Mary Lardner, of "St. Marie," Nimrod Rd., Streatham, London and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing
Killed in action 4th September 1916, aged 30
Major Lawder had been a Regular officer before the war and temporarily led the battalion in June and July 1916.
At the time of his death he was the battalion's Adjutant. Noel was the son of Margaret Lawder, of 7, Blakesley Avenue, Ealing, London, and the late Dr. E. J. Lawder.
He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval memorial to the missing
Died of wounds 25th September 1916, aged 26
Douglas was the son of the late Richard E. Candy, I.C.S., and of Mrs. E. A. Candy and is buried in the Bronfay Farm military cemetery, Bray sur Somme.
Died of wounds 7th to 9th February 1917 (dates vary according to the source), aged 32
John, known as Jack, was born 3rd February 1885 in Montreal. He was the son of Dr. Charles E. Moyse (who was to become the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University in Montreal) and Dame Jessie McDougall Moyse (nee Stirling).
John Moyse applied to officer training as a Colonial Candidate and passed the 'Competitive Examination' in October 1907, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment. The photograph opposite was taken in October 1908 and was kindly supplied by his relative, Doug Moyse.
He became a Lieutenant from the 1st January 1910 and was promoted to Captain from the 12th February 1914, serving in the 2nd battalion before war broke out.
Captain Moyse joined the 1st battalion on the front lines 4th January 1915, two days after landing in France for the first time. Within six weeks he fell ill and arrived at No.2 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne suffering from influenza on 14th February 1915. He was returned to England to recover, arriving at Mandeville hospital, London, on 18th February.
On recovery Captain Moyse returned to the battalion but during the ferocious fighting for Hill 60, he was wounded by shrapnel in the left jaw and shoulders 21st April 1915. John was admitted to 17 Park Street Hospital for Officers in London on 25th April 1915 to recover. Once fit for basic duty again, he was posted to the 4th battalion at Dovercourt from August 1915 until returning to the front for the third time late in 1915.
Captain Moyse was next wounded in both legs by shell fragments on 16th April 1916 whilst reconnoitring the front lines in readiness for the battalion taking over on the 20th and was admitted to General Hospital in Havre the following day. He sailed from Havre to Southampton on board the 'St. David' 20th April. Once recovered, he was posted to the 3rd battalion at Landguard, Felixstowe from the 18th June, until fit for active service once more.
Early in October Captain Moyse was back in the battalion on the front again and took over temporary command of the battalion in November and again in December, being promoted to Acting Major as he did so. On Christmas Day he was granted a short leave and returned to the battalion a few days later.
During what was recorded as being a 'quiet spell' in the trenches Acting Major Moyse was shot in the head by a German sniper and badly wounded. He was admitted to 33 Casualty Clearing Station on the 7th February suffering from 'dangerous wounds'. The documents within his service record (held at the National Archives under reference WO339/6930) tell that he died of his wounds on the 7th, 8th or 9th February and was buried in the Bethune Town Cemetery where he lies today.
He was also mentioned in despatches for bravery on the 22nd May 1917 although what this was for is not recorded.
Killed in action 3rd March 1917, aged 35.
Walter was born around July 1881 in Brierly Hill in Staffordshire, the son of Thomas and Mary Smith. Doubtless inspired by the patriotic fervour surrounding the South African War of the time, the 18 year old grocer enlisted into the 3rd (Reserve) battalion of the Worcestershire regiment on 30th November 1899, becoming Private 8642. He was 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with brown hair and grey eyes, and signed up for 7 years with the colours and a further 5 in the Reserves.
Walter became a Lance Corporal on 16th October 1900 and Corporal from 25th October 1901, at which time he was posted to the Regular 1st battalion and sailed with them to the South African Wars. Initially he served in the Mounted Infantry but the 21st October 1902 saw him posted into the Regular 1st battalion and on the 2nd April 1903 he returned home, becoming a Lance Sergeant on 21st June 1903.
On the 14th April 1904 Walter was promoted to a Sergeant and in September 1906 elected to extend his service with the colours to 12 years.
In January 1908 he was posted to the Regular 2nd battalion and sailed for service in India, and in June 1911, extended his service again to 21 years.
On the 6th March 1913 Walter returned back to England, on 22nd September 1913 Walter became a Colour Sergeant and from 1st October 1913 was a Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS).
Throughout his pre war career, he picked up several diseases and had his share of cuts and bruises, all treated by the army. One particularly nasty recurring personal problem lasted for many years on and off, finally disappearing in 1913 when he returned from India.
When war broke out in 1914, CQMS Smith sailed with the battalion to the Western Front on 12th August and fought in the early battles of the war as a part of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Division.
During the First Battle of Ypres, on 8th November 1914 Walter became a Company Sergeant Major (CSM) as the previous one (CSM Williams) fell in battle.
CSM Smith received a gunshot wound (or shrapnel wound) to the back on 12th April 1915 and returned home to recover on 26th April, via hospitals in Versailles and Rouen.
Whilst in England he married Margaret O'Neill at the parish church, Christchurch in London on 6th November 1915.
With his recovery under way, Walter was posted as a C.S.M. in the 5th battalion on 16th July 1915, and moved back to France to rejoin the 2nd battalion on 22nd February 1916. He was appointed the Acting Regimental Sergeant Major on 7th March and was promoted to a commissioned officer for services in the field from 30th April 1916, having served over 16 years in the Worcesters by then and with his character being recorded as 'Exemplary'.
Walter was posted to the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment and was wounded in the face during the battalion's assault on the Quadrilateral redoubt on 16th September 1916, for which he was mentioned in dispatches in January 1917. He was sent to the 2nd Red Cross hospital at Rouen and then onto a British hospital, from where he recovered.
Although at the time of writing the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) record him as being killed in the 8th battalion, he actually returned to the front lines and was moved into the 1st battalion on 16th February 1917. In addition, a telegram sent to his wife informing her of his death specifically records him as being in the 1st battalion, as does the army form recording his death in the field. On the day Walter fell, the 1st battalion sent all its officers to Cambrin to reconnoitre new positions they were to take over. Walter was killed during the reconnaissance and is buried in the Cambrin Military Cemetery, 8km east of Bethune.
In September 1916 his wife lived at Molesworth Terrace, Millbrook in Cornwall. At the time of his death, his wife lived at 68 Margaret Street, Great Portland Street, S.W. London and by 1920 lived at 4 St. George's Road, Regent's Park in N.W. London.
His service record, which makes fascinating reading, is held by the National Archives under reference WO339/61677, with his officer's number being 135546.
Killed in action 14th April 1917, aged 21
Douglas was the son of Thomas M. and Ellen Hood, of Pernambuco, Brazil and is burtied in the Zoave valley cemetery, Souchez.
The 1st battalion assaulted German positions at La Coulotte (now a suburb of Avion), as a part of the Battle of Arras on 23rd April 1917.
They got into the German lines but, isolated and short of absolutely everything, were ordered to retire late that day.
Of almost 350 casualties lost by the battalion that day, the following six were the officers who were killed:
Killed in action 23rd April 1917
He has no known grave but is remembered on the Arras memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 23rd April 1917
Vernon was the brother of Miss N. A. Curry, of 15 Cross St. in Manchester. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Arras memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 23rd April 1917, aged 27
Thomas was born in Workington on 6 May 1899, the son of Duncan Kilpin Fletcher, who was a Missionary.
After education at Bedford School, Thomas worked in the offices of the Pyghtle Works in Bedford before venturing to Shanghai to work for a cotton firm. While in Shanghai, he served in the British Shanghai Volunteer Corps for four years before returning to England when war broke out.
Living at his father's house - St Fillans, Bunyan Road in Kempston - on his return, Thomas enlisted into the Bedfordshire Regiment as a Private before applying for a commission on 25 November 1915. His application was granted on 6 January 1916, when he became a Temporary Second Lieutenant and was posted to the Bedfordshire Training Depot at Ampthill Park.
Once officer training was complete, Second Lieutenant Fletcher was sent to France and posted to the 1st Battalion, joining them in the field 18 September 1916, as a replacement for their losses on the Somme.
Page 19 of the book 1st Bedfordshires. Part Two; Arras to the Armistice records:
Between the intense, never ending fatigue duties, the men took the opportunity to write home, many proving to be fateful last letters, including one penned by Second Lieutenant Thomas Fletcher. A popular officer who was well liked among his peers and the men alike, Thomas had returned from working in Shanghai, China when war had broken out, joining the 1st Bedfordshires in September 1916 while they fought on the Somme battlefields. A notable cheerful, upbeat and almost carefree man, Thomas's tone must have been a surprise to his parents as they read his letter a few days later.
'Since I last wrote I have had the most strenuous period since coming to the front. It has been a matter of working at high pressure during every minute of darkness and often during daytime as well, and no chance for sleep. Have not had my clothes off for a fortnight. The country where we are is part of the Hindenburg Line. More I cannot tell you. I thought I had seen the limit of destruction in the matter of shell fire on the Somme, but this has been the most terrific bombardment since the commencement of the war, as so sudden had been our push that a wounded man told me that the Germans were absolutely panic stricken when our men went over the top. The next few days will be a dangerous time for me, and I shall not be able to write you again. These few lines will only be sent to you in case it is my last opportunity. Well, dear mother and father, my heart is too full to write more. You will always have the consolation that I am quite ready to give my all for the cause I came home to fight for. If it is God's will to call me, I shall meet you all by and by in the land where all is peace and happiness.'
During the 15th Brigade's assault on the German positions in and around La Coulotte, Second Lieutenant Fletcher was among the long list of officers and men killed. Page 26 of the 1st Bedfordshires. Part Two; Arras to the Armistice completes his story:
Second Lieutenant Thomas Murray Kilpin Fletcher was wounded during D Company's attack and his servant, Private 3/7448 Robert Brown of Baldock, was killed trying to bring his wounded officer in. Private Brown has already been wounded three times in the war and Lieutenant John Kingdon of their company wrote to Brown's widow, remarking how Private Brown and his officer were like two good friends and that his self sacrifice had not gone unnoticed. Despite his servant's best efforts, Second Lieutenant Fletcher was also killed soon afterwards. Days later, soon after receiving a letter penned by Thomas just before the battle, his parents received two letters in the same delivery by a cruel twist of fate, one of which was an official letter from the War Office, so demanded their immediate attention. It contained notification of their son's death in action, which must have been made even worse by the fact that the second letter was an untidily written note from their son. In communications with the war office who requested a copy of the letter to establish his will , his father wrote 'It was simply a short note. A farewell message, as he felt sure it was his last. He knew our men were in a position that meant this and we knew he would never surrender. I don't like the idea of sending away his last letter.' The note had been removed from Thomas' tunic and sent onto the addressee, having been written whilst he was wounded and hopelessly pinned down.
Thomas' body was not identified and as a result he as no known grave but is remembered on the Arras memorial to the missing.
(With thanks to Ceinwen Hughes, whose 1916 group photo from Ampthill Camp included Thomas Fletcher, as seen above)
Killed in action 23rd April 1917, aged 21
Frederick was born 27 June 1895, the son of Leonard and Frances Elizabeth Illingworth from Liverpool. After education he worked as a Shipping Clerk and joined the 1st/6th (Territorial) Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment on 5 April 1913, becoming Private 1397.
The part-time Territorial Force started training when war broke out and his battalion were mobilised for service on the Western Front from 24 February 1915. In the fighting around Ypres on 20 April, Private Illingworth was wounded and returned to England a week later. Once recovered, he was shipped back to France on 1 August 1915 but returned to England at the end of August, having been accepted into the Officer Training programme. Joining the 9th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment at Colchester, he was attached to the Ipswich School for instruction.
Joining the 1st Bedfordshires in the field in the summer of 1916, he was among the long casualty list from their assault on Longueval 27 July 1916 but returned once he had recovered from his wounds.
On his return, Lieutenant Illingworth was killed in action during the battalion's assault on La Coulotte. Initially reported as missing, his remains were found in June and he was reported as being buried 1,000 yards south-west of Avion. In the continuing fighting, his final resting place was later lost and he is rememebred on the Arras Memorial to the Missing
Died of wounds 3rd May 1917
Percival Hart had been wounded during 1915 and returned to the battalion just ten days before their assault against La Coulotte.
He was wounded on the 23rd April but was recovered by Sergeant 3/7373 Edward Illingworth, who was awarded a Military Medal for his bravery. Although he was moved back to the General Hospitals along the coast, Percival died from his wounds over a week later.
Lieutenant Hart lies in the Wimereux communal cemetery, 5km north of Boulogne.
Died of wounds in German hands 7th May 1917, aged 21
Charles was born on 15 May 1895 and was taking his degree at Pembroke College in Cambridge when war broke out in 1914.
Giving his parent's address of Porthcawl in Wales, Charles attested as an officer cadet and joined the 3rd Battalion once his basic officer training was complete.
When he was passed for active service, Second Lieutenant Morris shipped off to France, landing on 5 March 1915. On 11 March he joined the 2nd Battalion who were in the line facing Neuve Chapelle and about to attack the German front line. The following day, on 12 March, the 2nd Bedfordshires were engaged in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and Charles was wounded y shrapnel in his right knee.
Returning to England, he was fit again by the end of May and was posted in a large draft of over 1,500 recovered Bedfordshire officers and men to Salonika.
Landing on Salonika 18 November 1915, he was attached to the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers who were being rebuilt after heavy losses on Gallipoli. The survivors numbered just 280 so with the addition of 350 Bedfords swelling their ranks, the men were spread into each company, with at least one Bedford officer per company. As part of the restructuring, the twenty years old Second Lieutenant Morris found himself in command of a company despite having only seen around 24 hours of service on a front line by that time.
28 November saw them move on to the bitterly cold front line to hold "a very exposed and windswept salient known as Rocky Peak (816 metres) to relieve the 6th Inniskillings, who were suffering badly from frost bite, and were practically demoralised with the cold. Their C.O. was bowled out by it, and two officers were literally crying with cold when we got there."
"On the evening of Dec. 7th Morris and his company took over the hill and were quite comfortable untl the next morning, when signs of a thaw set in, and at once the Bulgar got to work on Rocky Peak, with high explosives at about 2700 yards range. In the evening Morris reported 27 men hit and an officer, leaving him only one more, so the C.O. told me to go up … [I] found Morris busy with a bomb attack on a forward sangar that he had been shelled out of during the day. Morris personally led this and regained the sangar."
An attack was launched at the British line as the fog came down, quickly developing into a series of close quarters bombing duels. The British were flanked in the dark "… then the line began to wobble. The machine gun stopped work, Morris was hit and vanished in the fog."
His servant managed to get his wounded officer back down the hill as the fighting raged around them and Charles was shipped back home for treatment once more. [Extracts taken from a letter from Sidney Greene to Lord Ampthill, dated 6 April 1916]
He had been shot in the right shoulder and after his second bout of treatment, returned to the French front lines in September 1916.
Joining the 1st Bedfordshires who had just completed their costly tour on the Somme, Captain Morris was given the command of a raiding party just two days after arriving.
"The raiding party under Captain Morris was let loose with the implicit instructions of killing as many of their counterparts as possible, bombing as many dugouts as they could identify and damaging as much of the German trench system as was feasible given the time." During their preparation, "Faces were blacked out with burnt cork, equipment was dulled with soot and oil, with each man being issued with two bombs and the novel idea of electric torches being secured to the rifle stock was tried. A report on the operation remarked how 'it caused much hilarity and certainly raised morale'" [Extracts taken from '1st Bedfordshires. Part Two; Arras to the Armistice']
Following months of trench routines Charles' battalion were engaged in the Battle of Arras, the division being given the all but impossible task of assaulting German positions at La Coulotte on 23 April 1917. Against the odds, small groups of Bedfordshires and Norfolks made it into the German trenches, bombing and bayoneting their way deep into their lines. Eventually held up by heavy casualties and a stiffening resistance, "Captain Charles Morris, in command of B Company, was killed whilst he rallied his men and led another attack from the front against the machine guns dominating the second trench line." [Extract taken from '1st Bedfordshires. Part Two; Arras to the Armistice']
Acting Major Morris was initially reported as having been killed on 23 April, but some months later his personal effects were among five cases returned to England via the Red Cross, along with confirmation that he had died as a prisoner at Malmaison on 7 May, aged 21.
Charles was the only son of Charles Smith Morris and Maud Marv Morris, of Llandaff House, Llandaff, Cardiff and today lies in the Pont de Jour military cemetery, Athies, north-east of Arras centre.
His service record is held by the National Archives.
[Charles' photograph and Sidney Greene's letter are courtesy of Charles' descendant, Julian Walker]
The entrance to the huge Tyne Cot cemetery and Memorial to the missing
The panel showing the Regiment's officers who are remembered on the memorial
The battalion's next major offensive action was during the Third Battle of Ypres in the autumn of 1917.
The following five officers were lost during the battle
Killed in action 4th October 1917, aged 20
Second Lieutenant Reynolds had initially been Sergeant 22105 in the 4th battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment, before being commissioned as an Officer in the Bedfords. He arrived with the 1st battalion 28th April 1917 and served there until his death during the Battles of Ypres 1917.
He was the son of Frank and Martha Reynolds, of 21, Ladyfield Rd., Chippenham, Wilts and a native of Winterslow in Salisbury. Second Lieutenant Reynolds lies in the Hooge Crater Cemetery, on the Menin Road, east of Ypres.
Killed in action (5th on SDGW, 6th on CWGC and Regimental Medal Rolls) October 1917, aged 19
Harold was the son of Mrs. L. H. Fleming, of 147, Finchley Rd., Hampstead, London, and the late Alex. J. Fleming, M.D. and is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing.
Second Lieutenant Paul Norman Jones CHRISTIE
Killed in action 9th October 1917
A full biography, along with Paul Christie's personal diaries, can be seen here.
Killed in action 9th October 1917, aged 31
Joseph was the son of Joseph and Emma Cotchin, of 79, Station Rd., Ridgmont Beds and is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing.
Died of wounds 26th October 1917, aged 31
Alexander was educated at Bedford School and was trained in the 3rd battalion, but attached to the 1st when he fell. He was the son of John Henry and Fanny M. Croockewit, of "Menin," 32, Leyburn Rd., Dover and is buried in the Lijssenthoek military cemetery, 12km north-east of Ypres centre.
Died of wounds 10th March 1918, aged 29
Lieutenant Perham was from the 3rd (Reserve) battalion, attached to the 1st when he was severely wounded during a heavy bombardment on 9 March.
He died the following day, being the only officer in the battalion to be killed during their tour in Italy.
William was the son of William and Emily Martha Perham, of 110, Mantle Street, Wellington, Somerset and lies in the Giavera British Cemetery, Arcade, Treviso province, Italy.
Killed in action 27th April 1918, aged 20
Ambrose Peel was born in Bedford on 29 January 1898, his father being a journalist, then Stockbroker. As a student, Ambrose was part of the Bedford Grammar OTC, and in September 1916 passed entrance exam into RMC Sandhurst.
On his death, he was originally interred in the Halte cemetery, south-east of Hazebrouck, but later moved into a concentration cemetery after the war.
Ambrose was the son of the late Edward Lennox Peel and of Amy Peel, of 51, Mount Avenue, Ealing, London. He now lies in the Merville communal cemetery, 15km north of Bethune.
Killed in action 16th May 1918, aged 24
Frederick was the son of Frederick and Alice Ray, of Bedford and lies in the Tannay British cemetery, Thiennes, between Bethune and St.Omer.
Killed in action 20th July 1918
Lieutenant Cornelius had been with the battalion since September 1917 and has no known grave but is remembered on the Ploegsteert memorial to the missing.
Died of wounds 21st August 1918, aged 21
Geoffrey was the son of John Guille Millais and Fanny Margaret Millais, of Comptons Brow, Horsham, Sussex and lies in the Sailly-au-Bois Military cemetery, between Arras and Amiens.
Died of wounds 22nd August 1918, aged 29
Captain West had been wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and had recovered in the 4th battalion, but was again attached to the 1st when he fell.
He was the son of William F. and Emma West, of 15, Ellesmere Rd., Chiswick, London and lies in the Bagneux British cemetery, Gezaincourt, 2km south-west of Doullens
Killed in action 22 August 1918
Harry was born at Crowle on 9 February 1893, the only son of Richard Cornelius and Rebecca Maw (nee Chafor) and was christened in St Oswald's Church in March the same year. His father Richard was also from Crowle and his mother was from North Kelsey. Richard was a farmer and in 1901 the family lived at Easingwold Farm but had moved to Mount Pleasant Farm near Swinefleet by 1911. Harry was a farmer's boy helping his father on the farm according to the census.
Sometime before 1913 they moved again to Stowmarket in Suffolk, where in 1914 Harry married Dora Cowling, of Reedness. The couple had one daughter Mytle Irene, born 20 April 1915. His wife had moved back to Reedness by the time of Harry's death and lived at Wheelgate House.
Harry was embodied into the Territorial Force's Suffolk Yeomanry (Duke of York's Own Loyal Hussars) on 12 March 1913 and would have been mobilised on the outbreak of war in August 1914, when his unit became the 1/1st Suffolk Yeomanry. Following almost a year of training and providing Home Defence in and around Suffolk, his regiment were finally shipped to Gallipoli as dismounted cavalry, landing at Anzac Cove on 10 October 1915.
Private Maw was among the high proportion of troops on the peninsular to be struck down with dysentery. Reporting to the East Anglian Field Ambulance on 1 November, he was moved to Mudros four days later, then on to Alexandria for continued treatment. A trip back to England followed later that month but once recovered he returned to Egypt (on 1 June 1916) and reported to the Yeomanry Base Unit on 14 June.
Other than another short bout of diarrhoea in September, he rejoined his unit who spent a quiet period guarding the Suez Canal. On 5 January the Yeomanry were converted into an infantry unit, becoming the 15th (Suffolk Yeomanry) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment and Harry was renumbered to 32048.
In December 1916 Harry had applied for a commission and on 31 January 1917 he found himself on a ship home to take up a post as an Officer Candidate.
On 31 July 1917 he was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment. Landing in France after a short furlough before reporting for duty, Harry was posted to the 7th Battalion, joining them on 7 October 1917.
Nothing concrete exists to account for his movements as an officer from this point onwards but the 7th Battalion were engaged in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, as well as being very heavily engaged in the German Spring Offensives in March and April 1918. Statistically, it is likely that Harry was wounded during this phase of his service but if he came through those actions unscathed, he was possibly transferred into the 1st Battalion when the 7th were disbanded in May 1918. Alternatively (and more likely based on the 'flow' of others around him at the time), he may have been wounded or taken ill, sent home for treatment, and once he was able to resume his duties, was posted to the 1st Battalion given that the 7th had ceased to exist by his return.
Once what would become the final Allied offensives started in August 1918, the battalion found themselves in the thick of the advance but met with relatively little resistance in the opening stage. Part two of the 1st Battalion history records "The Bedfordshires remained in their support line under heavy gas and shell fire throughout 22 August, consolidating the position and preparing for the next advance. Second Lieutenant Harry Maw was killed during the day's shelling, having joined the battalion over the summer. Harry had served in the ranks on Gallipoli and in Egypt before being commissioned into the Bedfordshires a year earlier and spending time in the 7th Bedfordshires. The 25 years old farmer from Lincolnshire was buried alongside his comrades in a makeshift cemetery 200 metres east of Achiet-le-petit, being moved to the Adanac military cemetery in Miraumont after the war."
Harry is also remembered on Crowle War Memorial, the Whitgift War Memorial, and possibly on the Stowmarket War Memorial.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/86993.
[With thanks to Paul Connell for the background and pre war information]
The battalion assaulted German positions around Achiet le Petit on 23rd August 1918, losing heavily from machine gun fire. The following eight officers, including the battalion's Commanding Officer, were all killed during their determined assault:
Died of wounds 23rd August 1918, aged 30
Lieutenant-Colonel Courtney had served in the battalion from before the war and landed with them in the first wave of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914. Hugh was woudned in the temple during the Battle of the Aisne, the resulting injury leaving hism partially blind in one eye.
He was engaged in a Staff posting in Italy until Lieutenant Colonel Worrall invited him to spend Christmas Day 1917 with his old battalion. After a thoroughly enjoyable day catching up with those from his old friends who remained, he requested to return as Worrall's second in command, despite having a 'comfortable billet' at the time. Although his request was initially refused, he re-applied and was eventuall granted his wish during the summer of 1918.
Having survived the entire war and risen to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Hugh led his battalion during their assault against Achiet le Grand, leading and inspiring them from the front after they had been pinned down by a large number of machine guns along the ridge line they were attacking. Although the gunners missed him while he stood tall on the battlefield as he rallied his men, Lieutenant Colonel Courtenay was mortally wounded just as the position fell to his determined battalion's bayonet charge.
He was given instant first aid and rushed back into the medical system but his wounds were too severe and he died later that day at the Casualty Clearing Station in Gezaincourt.
Hugh was the son of Charles C. and Constance H. Courtenay, of Manor Farm House, East Horsley, Surrey and lies in the Bagneux British cemetery, Gezaincourt, 2km south-west of Doullens.
[With thanks to Penny Maitland-Stuart, descendant of Hugh Courtenay, who provided the photograph and letters sent to Hugh's widow]
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 29
Alexander was the son of Charles E. and Emma Margaret Eaton, of 203, Neville Rd., Forest Gate, London and is buried in the Adanac military cemetery, Miraumont, on the Somme.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 35.
Lieutenant Abbott was attached to the 1st battalion from the 1st Herts. George was the son of Thomas Abbott, of "Oaklands", Stevenage, Herts and lies in the Gommecourt British cemetery No.2, Hebuterne.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 20.
Lieutenant Arnholtz was another officer from the 1st Herts who was attached to 1st Beds. He was the son of Henry P. and Amelia J. Arnholz, of 62, Fairhazel Gardens, South Hampstead, London and lies in the Adanac military cemetery, Miraumont.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 27
Edgar was the son of Mrs. Laura Nailer, of 37, St. Michael's Rd., Bedford, and the late Lt. Col. Nailer and lies in the Adanac military cemetery, Miraumont, on the Somme.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 23
Lieutenant Watson was in the 5th battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion. He was the son of Mary (May) Ellen Watson, of 59, Goldington Rd., Bedford and is buried in the Adanac military cemetery, Miraumont, on the Somme.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 20
Frank was the son of Frederick I. and Kate Fox, of 21 Park Valley, Nottingham and lies in the Achiet-le-Grand Communal cemetery.
Killed in action 23rd August 1918, aged 35
William was the son of William and Elizabeth Paine, of Manchester; husband of Kate Paine, of 30, Osborne Rd., Broadstairs, Kent and is buried in the Achiet-le-Grand Communal cemetery.
Died of wounds 22nd September 1918, aged 21
Reginald was the son of Mrs. V. C. Cropley, of 24, Birchfield Rd., Handsworth, Birmingham, and stepson of Arthur Cropley. He is buried in the Grevillers British cemetery, 3km west of Bapaume.
The Vis en Artois Memorial to the Missing, East of Arras.
The officers of the Regiment who are listed on the Memorial.
The battalion were engaged in the Battle of the Canal du Nord that led directly to what would become the final advance in Flanders that ended the war. They lost around 140 casualties during the assault, including the following three officers:
Killed in action 27th September 1918
Lieutenant Hutchinson was from the 3rd (Reserve) battalion, attached to the 1st when he died and is remembered on the Vis en Artois memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 27th September 1918, aged 27
Harold was the son of Abraham and Esther Jane Loe, of Elm Rd., Hook, Surbiton, Surrey; husband of Eva Loe (formerly Woods) and is remembered on the Vis en Artois memorial to the missing.
Died of wounds 29th September 1918, aged 22
Joseph was the son of Thomas and Beechie Laughton, of 16, Lansdowne Rd., Bedford and lies in the St. Sever cemetery, Rouen.
The 1st battalion's final offensive action of the war saw them engaged in the Battle of the Selle, during the final advance in Picardy. The few Old Contemptibles who were left in their ranks would doubtless remark on how they were not far away over four years earlier, when they were to be 'sacrificed' during the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914. A further 150 casualties were lost in their assault, including the next two officers:
Killed in action 23rd October 1918, aged 23
Lieutenant Cothill had only joined the battalion on the 1st October 1918 and this would prove to be his first and only battle. He was the son of Thomas Henry and Elizabeth Cothill, of 13, Peter's Square, Hammersmith, London. William was born at Keston in Kent and lies in the Amerval cemetery, Solesmes, 5km north of Le Cateau.
Killed in action 23rd October 1918
Claude was commissioned into the 5th Battalion but joined the 1st Battalion in France on the 7th October 1918. He was also killed in action during his first battle as the battalion assaulted the village of Beaurain on the 23rd October 1918, two weeks before the war in Europe ended. Second Lieutenant Fowler is buried in the Amerval Communal Cemetery Extension in Solesmes, France.
Captain Frederick Vivian PARKER
Died 14th January 1921
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