The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
The War Memorial in Holcot, Northamptonshire
Holcot is a beautiful village some six miles north of Northampton, situated next to the Pitsford reservoirs. It lies on the road running through the centre of the village, some 100 yards from the main crossroads and can be found with ease. The Memorial is inscribed
'This cross was given by Mrs E.L. Daniels of this living'. A further inscription reads 'To the glory of God and in memory of the men from this parish who fell in the Great War 1914 - 1919. Greater Love hath no man than this.'
Second Lieutenant Noel Legard Alexander
9th Battalion, the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Noel was Killed in Action on the infamous 1st July 1916 in France, aged 22. He was the son of Edward Disney Alexander, M.Inst. M.E., of Milton House, Northamptonshire and is buried in Grave II. M. 10., Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boisselle.
Private 17200 John Thomas Faulkner
B Company, 7th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment
John was born in Holcot and enlisted from Kettering early in February 1915. After his initial training he was sent to France with the 7th Battalion who were to become one of the first "New Army" battalions to find themselves in the thick of the fighting in France. The eager recruits, inexperienced but keen to 'do their duty', were sent headlong into the Battle of Loos which had started in the 15th September. John reached the front line with his colleagues - including William Houghton shown below - on the 25th and occupied the newly won trenches just captured by the Scottish Brigade. Facing veteran Prussian troops, they found themselves involved in fierce fighting in their baptism of fire, suffering almost 350 casualties in the first few days. John was killed in action on the 27th September 1915, around Loos, age unknown, along with his friend William Houghton (shown below).
He has no known grave but is remembered on panels 91 to 93 of the Loos Memorial. His picture and obituary are shown in the 'Northampton Independent' newspaper.
Private 17612 Bernard Houghton
6th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment
Bernard was born in Holcot and enlisted from Wellingborough in March 1915. He was killed in action 3rd June 1917 in France, age unknown, whilst wrestling with the Germans for control of a strongly contested trench system on the Somme. Bernard was the son of Mrs. Ann W. Houghton, of 18, Newcomen Rd., Wellingborough and is buried in Grave C8 of the Rookery British Cemetery, Heninel.
The Battalion War Diary for the period of Bernard's death records:
"2.6.1917. 8.45pm. Battalion marched to trenches via HENINEL and SUSSEX AVENUE. 10.0pm At 10.0pm the battalion relieved the 7th West Kents. Relief carried out with the exception of HORSESHOE TR at the east end of WREN LANE Point O.31.b.74. The enemy had taken possession of this trench and a post 70 yards west of the HORSE-SHOE in WREN LANE and were holding it strongly. The West Kents organised a bombing party composed of their own men and ours, 2nd Lt G H Warner, 6th N N heading this party. They bombed up WREN LANE and drove the enemy completely out of that trench and established a double bombing block at the junction of WREN LANE and HORSESHOE. Here 2nd Lt Warner was killed. Simultaneously with this operation a platoon of the Royal West Kents, supported by a platoon of the 6th N N under 2nd Lt A J Frost attacked HORSESHOE TR from the end of LARK LANE. They were very strongly resisted with pineapples, rifle-grenades and machine gun fire and were unable to get a footing in the trench.
3.6.1917. The entire defence of the front line system was entirely taken over by the 6th N N Regiment at 4am on the morning of the 3rd with the enemy still strongly holding the HORSE-SHOE. Consolidation of the trenches and the making of fire steps was proceeded with. Copy of commanding officers scheme to obtain possession of the HORSE-SHOE submitted to the 54th I. B. The GOC approved of the alternative scheme. 11pm - In the trenches west of CHERISY. Zero hour 11pm. The Operation carried out per Operation Order with 3 platoons, one platoon attacking from the end of LARK LANE under 2nd Lt R J SUCHLICK supported by a wiring and consolidating party; another platoon attacking from the north under 2nd Lt H BECKINGHAM. The success of the operation was largely due to Stokes mortars and the volume of rifle-grenades fired. The trench was taken, 11 of the enemy dead were accounted for and about 40 rifles of the 1916 pattern captured. Consolidation was carried out under extreme difficulty, the HORSESHOE TRENCH being heavily shelled - the shelling continuing during the following day."
Private 57623 Thomas Alderman Houghton
2nd Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, formerly 14773 East Surrey Regiment.
Thomas was born in Holcot and enlisted from Northampton. He was killed in action on the 2nd September 1918 in France, during the Battle of Drocourt-Queant, age unknown. He has no known grave but is remembered in panels 5 and 6 of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial.
Private 15986 Wilfred Houghton
C Company, 7th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment
Wilfred was born in and a resident of Holcot, and enlisted from Creaton, Northamptonshire in December 1914. When he enlisted, he lived in Main Street, Holcot and is shown as a member of C Company when the Battalion went to France in August 1915. He was killed in action 27th September 1915, aged 24 during the Battle of Loos along with his friend Thomas Faulkner, also from Holcot. See above for details on Thomas and more information on their first - and last - battle.
He was the son of Stephen and Sarah Ann Houghton of Main St., Holcot, Northampton. Wilfred has no known grave but is remembered on panels 91 to 93 of the Loos Memorial and his photo and obituary are shown in the 'Northampton Independent' newspaper.
Private 75901 Bert Mabbutt
9th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers, formerly 10/27439 31st Training Reserve Battalion
Bert was born in and a resident of Holcot, Northamptonshire, and enlisted from 'Northants'. He was killed in action 21st September 1918 in France, during the final phases of the Allied advance against crumbling German opposition, aged 19. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Mabbutt, of Overstone Grange Cottages, Northampton.
Bert is buried in grave III. L. 15 in the Epehy Wood Farm Cemtery, Epehy.
Lance Corporal 18150 Frederick William Mobbs
32nd Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers
Frederick was born in and a resident of Holcot, and enlisted from Northampton. He was killed in action 7th June 1917 in France, aged 21 on the first day of the Flanders Offensives that would continue until the mud all but broke the British Army in December that year. Frederick was the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Mobbs, of Main St., Holcot, Northampton.
He has no known grave but is remembered on panels 6 and 8 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Private 4695 Edward Sabin
10th (Prince of Wales' Own) Hussars.
Edward was born in, a resident of and enlisted from Northampton.
He was an "Old Contemptible" who served in the regular British Army before the war and was wounded twice during his service. The first time on the 12th November 1914, whilst his unit was holding the trenches at Zillebeke and Klein Zillebeke as part of the 6th Brigade, who were in support of the 4th Guards Brigade.
The second time was in one of the very rare and perhaps the last cavalry charge of the war, during the infamous carnage at Monchy-Le-Preux on the 11th April 1917, one of the phases of the Battle of Arras. The 8th Cavalry Brigade, including Edward, charged German positions as a part of a combined attack in the driving snow to take several fortified positions east of Arras. A squadron of the Essex Yeomanry made a probing advance to Lone Copse, North West of the village, while a detachment of 10th Hussars galloped towards the village itself and were met by machine-gun fire and high-explosive artillery fire. The artillery fire also hit the rest of the 8th Cavalry Brigade on the slopes of Orange Hill, but a snowstorm allowed them to escape. From "Stalemate" by J.H. Johnson, attributed from "And All for What" by D.W.J. Cuddeford, 1933:
"During a lull in the snowstorm an excited shout was raised that our cavalry were coming up! Sure enough, away behind us, moving quickly in extended order down the slope of Orange Hill, was line upon line of mounted men covering the whole extent of the hillside as far as we could see. It was a thrilling moment for us infantrymen, who had never dreamt that we should see a real cavalry charge, which was evidently what was intended. In their advance the lines of horsemen passed over us rapidly, although from our holes in the ground it was a rather 'worm's eye' view we got of the splendid spectacle of so many mounted men in action. It might have been a fine sight, but it was a wicked waste of men and horses, for the enemy immediately opened on them a hurricane of every missile they had"
A passage in Gibbs' "From Bapaume to Passchendaele" 1917, includes part of a journalist's battle report, which adds:
"It is a small place that village, but yesterday, perched high beyond Orange Hill, it was the was the storm-centre of all the world conflict, and the Battle of Arras paused till it was taken. The story of the fight for it should live in history, and is full of strange and tragic drama. Our cavalry- the 10th Hussars, the Essex Yeomanry, and the Blues- helped in the capture of this high village, behaving with the greatest acts of sacrifice to the ideals of duty. I saw them going up over Observation Ridge and before they reached that point; the dash of the splendid bodies of men riding at the gallop in a snow-storm which had covered them with white mantles and crowned their steel hats. Afterwards I saw some of these men being carried back wounded over the battlefield, and the dead body of their general, on a stretcher, taken by a small party of troopers through the ruins of another village to his resting place.
Many gallant horses lay dead, and those which came back were caked in mud, and walked with drooping heads, exhausted in every limb. The bodies of dead boys lay all over these fields. But the cavalry rode into Monchy and captured the north side of the village, and the enemy fled from them.
Meanwhile English troops of the 37th Division - Warwicks and Bedfords, East and West Lancashire battalions, and the Yorks & Lancs- were advancing on the right and linking up for the attack on Monchy in conjunction with the Jocks (15th Division). On the left bodies of cavalry assembled for a combined attack with Hotchkiss and machine guns; and at about five o'clock yesterday morning (reported on the 12th April 1917) they swept upon the village."
Although the early phases of the Arras offensives went well, by this action, the weather conspired to slow the advance down and British casualty figures started to take on their familiarly high look. Lance Corporal Harold Mugford of the Essex Yeomanry won a Victoria Cross for his actions helping to hold the village that day, as Edward lay in the snow, wounded, and waiting to be evacuated.
Edward was evacuated back through the medical system, eventually finding himself in the sprawling Administrative areas around Etaples.
He died from his wounds on the 21st April 1917 in France, aged 28 having been wounded some ten days earlier at the Battle of Arras. He was the son of Thomas and Ann Sabin, of Holcot, and is buried in grave XIX. E. 12A. in the Etaples Military Cemetery.
Signaller (Private) 7012 Frederick Tarry
1st Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers
Frederick was born in, a resident of and enlisted from Northampton. He was killed in action 11th October 1918 in France, aged 27, during the "Pursuit to the Selle" in the final phases of the war. He was the son of Mr. D. Tarry, of 'Halcott' (this should read Holcot) Northampton and is buried in Grave V. B. 13. of the St. Aubert British Cemetery.
Lance Corporal 73722 Gordon Clark Drage Winder
28th (Saskatchewan Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Gordon was killed in action 15th September 1915 in France, aged 24. The son of the late William John Winder and Fanny Garratt Winder, he has no known grave but is remembered on the Vimy Memorial
Those who gave their lives in the 1939 to 1945 War:
A.B. Horace John Walker
Royal Navy. No further information available so far.
In honour and remembrance of the men of Holcot who laid their lives down so that we may enjoy the freedom their sacrifice provided for us.
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