'Other Ranks' Photographs and Biographies from the 1st
and W.O. Class II, 5710 William Franklin BARTLETT
Grandson, Chris Barrett, was kind enough to share these lovely photo's
with me of one of the battalion's key NCO's from the war who anyone
passing through the battalion at the time would certainly have known
of, if not come across in person.
William Franklin Bartlett was born in Lambeth, enlisted
into the Bedfordshire Regiment from London and was a resident of
Kennington in Surrey when the Great War broke out in August 1914.
He is another superb example of an 'Old Contemptible' who managed
to survive until mid way through the war, despite the odds against
R.S.M. 5710 Bartlett was serving in the 1st Battalion
in Ireland on the 4th August when war was declared and landed with
them in France on the 16th August 1914. He fought in the early engagements
of the war (Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne, the Aisne, La Bassee and
the First Ypres) before winter set in and put a halt to proceedings.
Having survived those battles as well as the desperate defence of
Hill 60 and Ypres in the spring of 1915, William was in the thick
of things again on the Somme in 1916.
R.S.M. Bartlett survived the Longueval assault of
July 1916, the Battle of Guillemont early September and the Battle
of Flers-Courcelette in the middle of the month until finally killed
during the Battle of Morval at the end of the month. During the
battles from which William survived, the battalion suffered almost
800 casualties yet still managed to secure their objectives and
once again prove themselves to be a formidable unit when handed
a tough nut to crack.
RSM William Bartlett was killed in action in the 1st
Battalion on the 25th September 1916. His body was not recovered,
or was lost in the fighting that continued in the area, and he has
no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the
The fantastic photos below show William at various
stages of his career, as detailed from left to right:
Left; Lance Corporal Bartlett, complete with his marksman's
proficiency badge and a two years good conduct badge on the left
sleeve whilst serving in India.
Middle; dated 14th April 1905, William appears to
be sporting a Sergeant Major Instructor (Signals) badge and the
Sergeant lying down seems to be the gent shown 'larking around'
in the next set of photos.
Right; now wearing the star of a Regimental Quartermaster
Sergeant on his right cuff, William is pictured getting married
in 1908 at Tidworth in Hampshire.
This next set of photographs shows William
progressing through the ranks:
Left; still in India as a full Corporal
with his Marksman's badge.
Middle; although there are no discernable
badges as such, it is reasonable to assume that William is the Battalion's
RQMS here, judging by the accompanying information 'Tidworth 1911'.
Right; amongst his peers, William is
seated in a place of honour at the front of the Battalion's Sergeants,
still sporting his Regimental Sergeant Major's Star above the right
cuff. The Sergeant behind him would seem to be the same man who
features in other photographs so they may well have been good friends.
The final two photos are slightly less
Top; the two usually official looking
chums larking around. William's pal looks very non-plussed despite
having a bayonet thrust towards his face doesn't he?! Lovely photo!
Bottom; All that accompanies this is
the caption stating that the man was with William throughout the
war. He appears to be one of William's Transport section from his
time as RQMS, so would have been one of the Old Contemptibles of
the 1st Battalion, although no clues can be seen by his uniform.
Private 14759 William Russell Castle
Gilby got in touch to ask for and share information on this
man, William Castle, his mother's brother.
William was born around 1895 in Layston, Hertfordshire,
to John and Katherine Castle. He lived with his widowed mother
in Buntingford when war broke out, at River Green.
William travelled to Royston to enlist and from
his service number, we know that he enlisted on the 4th September
1914. After training, William was sent to France and served
only briefly in the 1st battalion, arriving in France on the
27th April 1915.
Three days later he was with them in the front
lines, opposite the bitterly contested Hill 60, south-east
of Ypres. William, along with many of the 300 young men who
arrived with him as replacements on the 30th April was wounded
in the early gas attacks of the war within days of arriving.
During a particularly determined German assault to take control
of the hill, during which Edward
Warner won a Victoria Cross in William's battalion
Gledstanes and a further 300 of his comrades fell,
William was wounded.
He died of his wounds on the 7th May 1915 aged
Sadly, as is the case with many of the early
war deaths, William's grave was lost in the fighting that
raged there for a further three and a half years, so he is
remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing in Ypres.
Private 6730 Arthur Holton
Holton was born in Kings Walden, Hertfordshire in 1881 and
he enlisted into the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hitchin around
February 1900, having possibly served in the Militia beforehand.
He fought in the South African Wars (Boer
War), attached to the 2nd Battalion from the 4th. Private
Holton was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with Clasps
for the Cape Colony and the Transvaal, and the King's South
Africa Medal with the 1901 and 1902 Clasps, both of which
can be seen in his photograph. After South Africa he transferred
into the 1st Battalion and was posted to Jhansi in India.
Arthur married Ellen Biggs in 1912, and
they had two daughters, Marge and Phyllis. Sadly, Phyllis
was born in the January 1915, after Arthur was killed, so
he never knew about his second daughter.
He was probably serving in the regiment's
reserves when war broke out as he arrived in France on the
19th of September 1914, in the second wave of reinforcements
bound for the 1st Battalion after their losses at the battles
of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne. He would have
served through the heavy fighting at Givenchy throughout the
battle of La Bassée before facing the Prussian Guards' assault
during the First Battle of Ypres.
Arthur was killed when the German Army
threw a massive series of assaults at the British east of
Ypres, intent on breaking their lines and finishing the British
involvement in the war once and for all. By this stage in
the war, the British lines were very thin with no reserves
left so their defence was a desperate affair, the result of
which could have easily gone either way. During this battle,
the 1st Bedfordshires were holding the line in a wood south
of Inverness Copse, in front of Herentage Chateau. They were
engaged in heavy, close quarters fighting which saw them conduct
several counter attacks and lose hundreds of men, but keep
their lines intact.
Private Arthur Holton was killed on the
7th of November 1914 during the First Battle of Ypres. He
has no known grave but he is commemorated on the Le Touret
memorial in France and on his wife's grave in Kings Walden
(With thanks to Andy Lancefield for the
Arthur Edwin Clement
Linda Fox contacted me to share her Grandfathers service
and photographs with the site. This is Arthur Clement who was born
in Station Road in Tottenham, London on 20th September 1888 and
enlisted into the Regiment around October 1906 as Private 8613.
He served in the 2nd battalion before
the war, seeing Gibraltar (1907 - 10), Bermuda (1910 - 12) and South
Africa (1912 - 13). After South Africa he joined the regiment in
England, having completed his seven years with the colours, going
into one of the Reserve battalions until recalled to the colours
when war broke out in August 1914. Arthur landed in France on the
16th August with his fellow Old Contemptibles of the 1st battalion
and served during the battles of Mons (23rd August 1914), Le Cateau
(26th August 1914), Crepy en Valois and Meaux during the Battles
of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and at Missy, La Bassee, Givenchy
Arthur was probably wounded in the spring
1915 engagements as in November 1915 he was transferred to the 5th
Royal Irish Fusiliers as Private 22254, who were recovering from
their ordeal on Gallipoli. He spent the rest of his service during
the war with them in Salonika, which was when the photo below was
taken as he recovered in hospital from an illness he picked up whilst
Either one of the recurring illnesses
associated with service on Salonika or another wound resulted in
Arthur being in the Hope Ancillary Hospital in Salford by 1918,
where he met his future wife. Ironically they married in Salford
on 11th day of the 11th month 1918!
Arthur was discharged from the army
in 1919 and was one of the numerous veterans who 'died early', passing
away in 1935 in Tottenham. He caught a cold which, because his lungs
had been weakened, turned to pneumonia and then to septicaemia.
He is buried in the Tottenham Cemetery.
|Private 33588 Arthur George ALLEN
was born in and lived in Wellingborough, and enlisted from
served as Trooper 2512 in the Bedfordshire Yeomanry before
being transferred into the regular 1st Battalion, probably
on recovering from wounds received whilst in the Yeomanry.
his service number is only 4 away from Joseph
Bugby who also initially served in the Yeomanry but
who fell in the 8th Battalion in October 1917. This suggests
the two are likely to have known each other and probably enlisted
Arthur was posted
as missing but was eventually accepted as being killed in
action on the 23rd April 1917 when the Battalion attacked
La Coulotte during the Battle at Arras and lost almost 350
Private 8055 William John CLIFFORD
was an 'Old Contemptible' and lived at Wilmington Cottage,
Charlton Kings in Gloucestershire.
born in Upper Slaughter, the son of John and Emily Clifford
who lived at the above address in 1914.
the war he had been a railway guard at Tondu Glamorgan but
later he enlisted as a regular soldier in September 1904,
giving an address in Upper Slaughter.
serving as a regular in Ireland when war was declared and
landed with the 1st Battalion in France 16th August 1914.
Having survived the battles at Mons, Le Cateau and the rearguard
actions in September, William was killed in action during
the defence of Givenchy at the Battle of La Bassee on 13th
October 1914, aged 29 and is commemorated on the Le Touret
Battalion suffered around 150 casualties during the fighting
that day - including 23 who were killed.
a widow Charlotte Winifred (known as Winnie) Clifford (nee
Bond) who lived at 1 Moreton Place, Brookway Road, Charlton
to John Hamblin for the pre-war bio and his photo)
Private 29549 Samuel Thomas
Spicer is among the two-thirds of Great War servicemen whose
service record has not survived, so below is the brief summarised
service history it has been possible to uncover.
Samuel was born in Hoddesdon during the
last quarter of 1886, the son of Jane Spicer of Hatfield.
His mother married William Dowton, who seems to have raised
Samuel as his own son.
Samuel lived in Hertford during the 1891,
1901 and 1911 census returns, working as a 14 years old Carman
for a timber yard during the 1901 census and as a coal dealer's
Carman by the time of the 1911 census. Aged 26, Samuel married
Elizabeth Wilkinson in November 1913 at Hoddesden in Hertfordshire.
He was living in Hertford when war broke
out, but his occupation (a Drayman) presumably excluded him
from service initially.
Samuel's service number suggests he enlisted
into the army between January and June 1916 and, after basic
training, joined the 1st Bedfordshires in the field around
January 1917. Although it is not known whether he came through
completely unscathed, Samuel's battalion were heavily engaged
during the Battle of Arras (23 April 1917), their capture
of Oppy Wood (28 June 1917), the Battle of Broodseinde (4
October 1917), and the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917).
After a brief rest from the horrors of
the mud in the Ypres salient, Samuel and his battalion were
providing carrying parties for the units in the front lines,
before they returned to the trenches to resume offensive actions.
Exhausted, filthy and seriously overworked, his battalion
lost dozens of men to probing German shell fire; among them
Private Spicer was among the long list
of men whose final resting place was lost in the fighting
east of Ypres that autumn and as a result, he is remembered
on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing.
Although Samuel died far too young, his
wife, Elizabeth, lived until Christmas Day 1952 and his daughter
lived into her 90's, dying as recently as 2009; she was cremated
on what would have been her 94th birthday.
[With thanks to Derek Lawman, Samuel's
Grandson, for his photograph]
Private 3/7387 Ernest Cook.
was born in Soham, Cambridgeshire on 19 December 1897, one
of eleven children born to William and Emma Cook.
He enlisted into the British
Army at Ely, between late 1913 (aged 15), or early 1914 (aged
16), becoming Private 3/7387 in the Bedfordshire Regiment.
His mother died in March 1913, which may have been an influence
in his decision to join the army.
Ernest's service record has
not survived, but his Medal Index Card shows he arrived in
France in January 1915 (aged just 17). Private 3/7387 Cook
came through the horrors of Hill 60 in April and May 1915,
and served in the Somme and Arras sectors before his battalion
were rotated into the line to take part in the Battle of the
Surviving a short spell opposite
the infamous High Wood, Ernest went forward with his battalion
as the 15th Brigade assaulted the village of Longueval on
27 July 1916. Later known by those present for it's unparalleled
barrage (labelled the Longueval Barrage), the Bedfordshires
and Norfolks captured the heavily defended village which had
already seen weeks of costly fighting.
Ernest Cook was among the
battalion's long casualty list from the day's fighting. Like
so many of his comrades who fell that day, the 18 years old
veteran with over two years in the regiment has no known grave,
so is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing
in France, and the war memorial in Soham.
[With thanks to Paul Cook
for the copy of Ernest's photograph]