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Durham University

Special Collections

Roll of Honour Register

The roll of honour register comprises short personal and military service histories of those members of Durham University who were killed in action or died on service during the First World War. A few men who died from wounds received or illnesses thought to have been caused by their war service after the end of the war are also included (up until 31 August 1921). The portfolio of research sources used across all personnel is cited at the foot of this page, while sources particular to individual biographies immediately follow the specific entry to which they refer. The research work was undertaken by volunteers, many of whom were students at Durham University. Their work provides a fuller picture of the life of each member of that Durham generation who died in the long conflict.

Sep 1914 Nov 1914 Dec 1914

Apr 1915

May 1915

Jun 1915

Aug 1915 Sep 1915 Oct 1915
Nov 1915 Jan 1916 Mar 1916
Apr 1916 May 1916 Jun 1916
Jul 1916 Aug 1916 Sep 1916
Oct 1916 Nov 1916 Dec 1916
Jan 1917 Feb 1917 Mar 1917
Apr 1917 May 1917 Jun 1917
Jul 1917 Aug 1917 Sept 1917
Oct 1917 Dec 1917 Jan 1918
Feb 1918 Mar 1918 Apr 1918
May 1918 Jul 1918 Aug 1918
Sep 1918 Oct 1918 Nov 1918
Dec 1918 Feb 1919 Mar 1919
May 1919 Jun 1919 Jul 1919
Nov 1919 Dec 1919 Apr 1920
Portrait of Major Alexander Kirkland Robb.

20 September 1914

Major Alexander Kirkland Robb

Robb was the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Robb of the Indian Medical Service, and Joan Kirkland, and was born in Pune, India, on 26 August 1872. He was educated at Aberdeen, both in the Grammar School and in the University, and from there went on to Sandhurst where he obtained honours and passed out first of his year in January 1893. He joined the Durham Light Infantry, and served under Sir William Lockhart on the North-West Frontier of India (1897-1898) and for distinguished service in the Tirah Expeditionary Force he was twice mentioned in Dispatches; he also served on the Burma Boundary Commission, for which it is recorded in his obituary (The Northerner, v. XV, no. 1, Dec. 1914) he was "specially adapted by his proficiency in military sketching and draughtsmanship". During this period he also acted as a special correspondent to the D.L.I. regimental paper The Bugle, which he had formerly edited for a time. He married in 1904 Ethel Violet (Queenie) Rule, the daughter of a Comptroller of Indian Treasuries; two children survived him, Sheila Kirkland and Betty Kirkland born in 1905 and 1907 respectively. His connection with the university came with his transfer to the D.L.I. depôt at Newcastle in 1910, where he trained Officers’ Training Corps candidates for the "A" and "B" examinations. In 1912 he was appointed Adjutant of the University O.T.C. and Lecturer in Military History to the University; and the degree of M.A. was conferred on him in 1913. He was Brigade Major to the combined O.T.C. Brigade in 1913, and in 1914 was appointed Adjutant of No. 2 Battalion, to which the Durham University contingent was allotted. Major Robb returned to 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry on mobilization in August 1914 and was mortally wounded during the Battle of the Aisne leading a counter-attack on a trench in the battalion's first engagement of the war on 20 September 1914. He was carried back under fire from where he fell "within 40 yards of the enemy" by Private Warwick (winning the D.C.M.), but died of his wounds that night in a hospital at Troyon. He is buried at Vendresse British Cemetery. He is also commemorated on war memorial plaques at Armstrong College in Newcastle, and at St George's Church, Osborne Road in Jesmond. Robb's is the first death recorded in the university's Roll of Service, marked at the time with a fulsome obituary in the King's College student magazine The Northerner, quoted above, and another later published in the Durham University Journal (v. XXII, no. 12, June 1915).

Additional sources: The Bond of Sacrifice: a biographical record of all British officers who fell in the Great War, vol. 1 ([1916]); North East War Memorials Project; University of Aberdeen Roll of Service.
Research contributors: Linda Macdonald, Newcastle University Library Special Collections.
Image of H.M.S. Good Hope (1901-1914)

H.M.S. Good Hope (1901-1914)

1 November 1914

Chaplain Arthur Henry John Pitt

Pitt was born c. 1873 in Leamington, Warwickshire, brother to Horace Pitt. He studied at Edinburgh Theological College in 1896, and at Durham University in 1900, obtaining a Licentiate of Theology. He was made a Deacon in 1898. Ordained Priest by the Bishop of Newcastle on Tyne in 1899, he served his Title as Curate of Amble, Northumberland from 1898 to 1900; St Gabriel, Heaton, Newcastle on Tyne until 1902 and St Mary, Newcastle on Tyne until 1904. He was a Freemason and was Initiated into Lodge of Perseverance No. 1165, District Hong Kong in 1908 and was a member of Navy Lodge No. 2612, London 1909 and United Service Lodge No. 3473, Province of Dorset 1911 whilst serving on H.M.S. Superb. He became a Chaplain to the Royal Navy in 1904, serving on H.M.S. Essex 1904-1906; H.M.S. Duke of Edinburgh 1906-1907; H.M.S. Flora 1907-1909; H.M.S. Superb 1909-1913; H.M.S. Prince of Wales 1913-1914 and H.M.S. Good Hope in 1914. He married Mary Elizabeth Pitt. He was killed during the Battle of Coronel and is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire. His name is also recorded on a memorial in the Church of St Matthew, Portsmouth. H.M.S. Good Hope was an armoured cruiser manned by a crew of reservists and cadets and was the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock commanding a squadron of ageing ships in the South Pacific. She was sunk by the German armoured cruiser Scharnhorst at the Battle of Coronel in the South Pacific. There were no survivors from the 919 officers and crew on board.

Research contributors: Heather Ross, D. T. Youngson.

17 December 1914

Image of 'The Bombardment of the Hartlepools' by James Clark, 1915

'The Bombardment of the Hartlepools' by James Clark, 1915

Private Thomas Minks

Thomas Minks was born in 1889 to Robert and Elizabeth Minks of Medomsley, one of seven children. He trained as a teacher at St Bede College from September 1907 to July 1909, and then worked as a schoolmaster in Rowlands Gill in a County Education Authority school. His Short Service Attestation form, completed upon his entering the regular army on 21 September 1914, aged 25, notes that he already had two years of service in the Durham Light Infantry 8th Battalion Territorial Force; he was then transferred from this unit to the 18th Battalion (the ‘Durham Pals’). The 18th was sent to form part of the garrison of Hartlepool, where it became the first of the New Armies to come under fire, but from the German Imperial Navy – the Kaiserliche Marine - rather than its ground forces. The German raids on Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough occurred on 16 December 1914. In addition to causing significant destruction of housing and infrastructure in Hartlepool, the 40-minute bombardment killed 86 civilians and injured 424, while 7 soldiers were killed and 14 injured. Minks died the following day of wounds he received during the bombardment, and is buried in the churchyard of St Patrick's Church near High Spen, Tyne and Wear. His sacrifice is recorded in memorials at Shire Hall (for Durham County staff members), and at St Bede College.

Additional sources: the illustration, a 1915 oil painting by James Clark (1858-1943), is entitled ‘The Bombardment of the Hartlepools’: the work is in the collections of Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service, and is reproduced with their kind permission. A fuller biography of Thomas Minks has been published by Durham County Council.
Research contributors: Tim Brown, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Royal Flying Corps cap badge

19 April 1915

Lieutenant Brian Lloyd Clarke

Brian Lloyd Clarke was born on 30 September 1888. His father was Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Marshal James Clarke KCMG (1841-1909) who, after a career in the Royal Artillery, including losing an arm to a tiger, became an administrator in Southern Africa. He had married Annie Stacy Lloyd in 1880 and Brian was their third and last child. The family home was “The Eyrie” at Wadhurst in Sussex and they also had Irish interests. Brian is listed in the University’s Roll of Service as having been an Unattached member of the university, that is, he was not resident in Durham and might in theory have been studying perhaps Theology elsewhere, or even Music. However, he appears on no surviving list of students and was already being gazetted from the Royal Military College as a Second Lieutenant destined for the Indian Army on 17 August 1907. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 17 December 1909. Thus his university career may have been an intention rather than an actuality. He served in India, in the 23rd Cavalry (Frontier Force), taking part in August 1908 in operations in the Mohmand tribal area, (now in northwest Pakistan), and in the February 1915 Army List is recorded as being Regimental Quartermaster. The regiment served in Mesopotamia but Brian transferred to the Royal Flying Corps at an unknown date. It is possible that he was on leave in Britain at the outbreak of war and obtained the transfer without ever re-joining his regiment. At the time of his death he was serving as an Observer with 6 Squadron. He was involved in an aircraft accident during a non-operational flight at Hazebrouck on 19 April 1915 and died the same day. 6 Squadron was based not far away at Poperinghe and flew a variety of aircraft at this period, mostly two-seater BE2s in the observation and reconnaissance role. His death was reported in Flight magazine on 30 April 1915. He is buried in Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery, Nord, France. (The Durham University Roll of Service records his name as Clark.)

Research contributors: Gillian Beck, Linda Macdonald.
Image of the Badge of the Royal Montreal Regiment

Badge of the Royal Montreal Regt

24 April 1915

Private Robert Winfield Lister

Robert Winfield Lister was born in Keighley in West Yorkshire on 14 June 1891, the eldest of five children of Alfred Lister who was Treasurer of Keighley Corporation. His mother was Mary Jane Winfield Lister and the family lived at Sunny Mount. He started as an Arts student at Hatfield Hall in Durham University in Epiphany term 1910. He passed his entrance exams well enough but was perhaps too involved on the editorial board of the Durham University Journal as he did not do well with his BA finals in Michaelmas term 1911: he failed papers in Greek Testament, Plato and Suetonius, Ancient History, Evidences, and Education, and left without a degree. He followed his father’s financial career and went to work as a clerk in a bank in Bradford. He emigrated to Canada in 1912, joining the Imperial Bank of Canada in Westmount, Quebec, and then later in Montreal. The Royal Bank of Canada’s Roll of Honour records that he enlisted on 17 August 1914. He was medically examined and passed fit for service the next day at Valcartier Camp, but his attestation papers are dated 21 September. On that date he was attested as a private in the 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal Regiment) as part of the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He had served in the OTC in his time in Durham, a fact that he recorded on his attestation. He was 5ft 6½ in tall with a fair complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair. The 1st Regiment Royal Montreal Regiment had been formed in August 1914 from three existing Militia regiments in Montreal and was soon re-designated as the 14th Battalion of the CEF. After training at Valcartier the 14th Battalion departed from Valcartier with the rest of the First Contingent on 23/24 September. The troops sailed from Quebec on 3 October and arrived in Plymouth Sound on 14 October. The winter was spent on Salisbury Plain in muddy cold conditions. In January 1915 the battalion formally became part of 3rd Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. The Division went to France the next month and first went into the line in the Fleurbaix sector, relieving the British 7th Division. In April they were moved into the Ypres Salient. On the afternoon of 22 April 1, 3 and 4 Companies of 14th Battalion were in reserve at St Jean when the Germans launched an attack against the French troops on the Canadian left flank, supported by the use of chlorine gas. This caused the French to give way and the men of the 14th were alarmed to see men of 45th Algerian Division as well as civilians streaming past them. As dusk fell they moved up to Brigade Headquarters at Mouse Trap Farm to occupy the GHQ line behind the rapidly collapsing Allied front and were by now in danger from German infantry on their left flank. The battalion remained in the GHQ line improving the trenches until about midnight on Friday 23 April by which time the pressure had caused the 13th Battalion on their left to change their alignment to face German troops from the west. 14th Battalion conformed to this change which involved more trench digging through the night. At 03.30 on the morning of Saturday 24 April the Germans unleashed a heavy bombardment on the new trenches. This went on for two hours and survivors of the 13th and 14th Battalions were forced to retire to trenches further back where they remained until about 11.00. They retired a further 300 yards and held on there for another hour and a half under heavy artillery and machine gun fire before withdrawing another 200 yards. This position was not entrenched and consisted merely of ditches and folds in the ground. About 16.30 the survivors were ordered to retire behind the GHQ line that they had started from. Shortly afterwards they were able to repel a German attack with rifle and machine gun fire. Later in the evening 1, 3 and 4 Companies were withdrawn to the transport lines although it is probable that Robert Lister was dead by then. He is known to have been killed during the day although the exact circumstances are unclear and his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres, and the memorials in St Andrew’s church Keighley and Hatfield College Chapel.

Additional sources: War Diaries of the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Library and Archives Canada; Soldiers of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada.
Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Linda Macdonald, Joyce Malcolm.

25 April 1915

Image of Private J. H. Atkinson (Ref: E/HB 2/674(4); copyright Durham County Record Office)

Private J. H. Atkinson (Ref: E/HB 2/674(4))

Private Joseph Hewitson Atkinson

Joseph Hewitson Atkinson was born on 6 May 1892 at Fylands Bridge near Bishop Auckland, the third son of Thomas and Isabel Atkinson. Between 1901 and 1911 his father and brothers all worked on the railway for the North Eastern Railway Company. Joseph took a different path, and studied at Bede College 1910-1912, boarding in 1911 with a Scottish widow in Gilesgate. After leaving the college Atkinson was employed as a teacher at Cockton Hill County School, Bishop Auckland, then living in New Shildon. He enlisted in the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 2905 and arrived in France with the battalion on 19 April 1915, serving in A Company. His death is recorded by the Commonwealth Graves Commission as having occurred on 26 June 1915. This is probably a clerical error as he is mentioned in Major E. Hardinge Veitch’s Eighth Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1793-1926 as being killed during the heavy fighting on the Gravenstafel Ridge during the 2nd Battle of Ypres around 25 April 1915. Probate records have his date of death as 25th April which would support this. Veitch gives the following description of his bravery.

“Part of A Company trench had by now become untenable, there being no cover left, and the men were moved from here to the part held by the 7th Canadians where a hedge afforded a certain amount of protection, and here was seen perhaps the most outstanding in its heroism of the many courageous acts of this first stern day of fighting. Corporal J. M. Watson lay wounded in an exposed position crying for water. A bottle was thrown to him but fell beyond his reach. Seeing this, Private J. H. Atkinson left his shelter to give his comrade the water he needed, and gave his life in the attempt.”

Eighth Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1793-1926 [1927], p.25.

His body was never recovered and his name is honoured at the Menin Gate in Ypres. As a Durham County Council employee Atkinson’s sacrifice is also recorded on the war memorial at County Hall, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the cap badge of the DLI, taken by Usedtoknowthat on 6 June 2014, is reproduced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Private John Warwick Huggins

John Warwick Huggins was born 2 June 1886 at Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland, the youngest child of Isaac Huggins and Mary Jane Huggins (née Warwick). In 1901 John and his sister Jessie Ann were teachers, in John’s case acting as a pupil teacher at Whitehaven St James’ National School, the same school that he had attended. He studied at Bede College 1905-1907, earning a final report that he was ‘noisy, talkative, hardworking’, but that he ‘does not get enough out of his pupils’. During his time in the College he was also a member of B Company, 8 Durham Light Infantry, serving as Private 8193. A keen sportsman, Jack Huggins played both amateur and then professional football during the 1906/07-1908-09 seasons for Sunderland AFC and Reading FC, and locally for Durham City and Wingate. In the summer months he also played cricket for Sunderland, Wheatley Hill and Castle Eden. By 1909 he was employed at Swansea Road Council School in Reading, and then in May began work as a Certificated Assistant (Grade A) at Wheatley Hill Boys Secondary School. His name appears in the school log book infrequently, usually recording an absence for illness, however on 22 February 1911 the head teacher wrote ‘On the classes resuming work this afternoon I found that Mr J W Huggins was absent and on enquiry learned that he had gone to play in a football match. I have received no official information that he had been granted leave of absence, neither has he spoken to me personally’. Mr Bowhill’s annoyance radiates from the page, but no repercussions of this event are recorded. For 12 weeks in early 1913 John Huggins was absent with a fractured shin bone – possibly a football related injury. While at Wheatley Hill he started a school football team ‘which carried all before them, and won cups and medals in everything in which they entered’. Huggins volunteered for military service in September 1914, re-joining 8 DLI. The battalion entered France on 20 April 1915, and within three days it was ordered into the front line to take part in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. It was during this fighting that Huggins was killed, although for a long time he was believed a prisoner of war: it was not until late 1915 that information from the Red Cross indicated that he had been killed in action and buried by German soldiers at Wallemolen, near Roeselare. Official records still disagree on his date of death, but he was probably killed or mortally wounded at Gravenstafel Ridge, east of Ypres, on 25 April, but his death or capture being unreported, he was only officially recorded as killed in action on 27 November 1915. Major Veitch's 1927 history of the 8th Battalion records it was Huggins and another Bede man, Lance Corporal Robert Henry Robson, who volunteered during the action to man a machine gun whose gunners, from the 8th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, had all been killed: Veitch states Huggins was killed in the fight, and Robson mortally wounded. Huggins is buried in Perth Cemetery (China Wall), east of Ypres, his body having been moved from the German cemetery at Wallemolen after the war. He is also honoured in Durham on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, the Durham County Council war memorial at County Hall, and the Durham County Cricket Club Roll of Honour. In Wheatley Hill he is remembered on a memorial plaque in All Saints' Church, on a memorial cross in the cemetery there, and on the Roll of Honour of the Constitution Club. His fellow footballers commemorate his sacrifice on a plaque at Sunderland's Stadium of Light and Reading Football Club published a short piece on his life in August 2014. A fuller biography, on which this is based, is published on the council's website.

Additional sources: Wheatley Hill Boys Secondary School log book, E/E 90, pp.90,136,214,217,256; Durham Advertiser, 11 February 1916, p.8(d) and 11 June 1915, p.7(e); All the Lads. A complete Who’s Who of Sunderland AFC, 1884-2000, by Dykes, G and Lamming, D. (2000); www.thestatcat.co.uk Sunderland AFC player profile.
Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry (King's crown version).

Private John Edward Prickett

John Edward Prickett was born at Windermere in 1894, the son of Edward and Mary E. Prickett. He spent his early years living at 26 Wyresdale Road, Lancaster and was educated at the local Bowerham primary school and then Lancaster Royal Grammar. After leaving school he attended Bede College 1912-1914, where he excelled academically and was also a member of the College Rifle Corps. Upon completion of his teacher training, he took up an appointment as Assistant Master at St Oswald’s Church School, Durham City. He joined the 1/8th Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Durham Light Infantry as a Private and after spending six months serving at home arrived in France with the battalion on 19 April 1915. He was killed in action just six days later on 25 April, aged 21 years, during fighting at the Gravenstafel Ridge just outside Ypres. As his body was never found he is commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ypres, in addition to the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and at Lancaster Town Hall. He was unmarried. His brother Private Wilson Prickett who served in the Lancashire Fusiliers was also killed during the war on 9 October 1917.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

26 April 1915

Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Private Joseph William Coulson

Joseph William Coulson was born at Brotton in Cleveland in 1872, the son of Joseph, an ironstone miner, and his wife Alice. He studied at Bede College 1893-1894, and after leaving he was employed as a schoolmaster by Middlesbrough Education Committee at Stockton Street Council School. By the time of the 1911 census he was married, to Lydia, and they had three sons, Max, Keith, and Ronald, and three daughters, Kathleen, Enid, and Mary. He enlisted at Durham and joined the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 2921 and entered France on 19 April 1915, serving in A Company of the Battalion. He was killed in action on 26 April 1915 during the battalion’s defence of Gravenstafel Ridge in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. His body was never recovered and his name is honoured at the Menin Gate in Ypres. He is also commemorated on the Middlesbrough War Memorial and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Private Robert Hogg (Ref: E/HB 2/698; copyright Durham County Record Office)

Private Robert Hogg (Ref: E/HB 2/698)

Private Robert Hogg

Robert Hogg was born in 1894, son of Son of William and Margaret J. Hogg of Marsden Grove, Whitburn. He attended first Sunderland Bede Collegiate Boys' School 1908-1911, then Bede College 1912-1914 where he gained his Master’s Certificate, qualifying as a school teacher. He was appointed to Seaham Colliery School, but the outbreak of war prevented him taking up his post there, and he enlisted at Durham, joining 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 1955. He went to France with the battalion on 19 April 1915 and served in A Company. He was killed during the battalion’s defence of the Gravenstafel Ridge in the 2nd Battle of Ypres on 26 April 1915. He was aged 21. He has no known grave and his name is commemorated at the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium. His sacrifice is also honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. In addition various memorials in the Whitburn area also record his name: the Obelisk on the Green; the Brotherhood Plaque, and plaques in the Church of St Mary and the Methodist Church.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Private Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson was born 5 March 1894 at Hartburn, Northumberland, the son of Mr and Mrs Andrew Wilson. His father, a Northumberland shepherd, is recorded as a widower in the 1901 census, and was remarried with young children by the time of the next census in 1911. Andrew had a sister Elizabeth, and two half-brothers, John and Albert. In the same 1911 census Andrew is already in teacher training, probably a pupil teacher, boarding with his uncle John Dobby, a Newcastle bricklayer. He then studied at Bede College 1912-1914, and after leaving was employed as a teacher at Cambo in Northumberland. He enlisted at Durham and joined the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 8/1984 and went to France with battalion on 19 April 1915, serving in A Company. He was reported in The Bede magazine as having been mortally wounded on 26 April 1915 during the heavy fighting on the Gravenstafel Ridge in the 2nd Battle of Ypres and died at a British Dressing Station. His grave was lost in the fighting and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres. He is also honoured on the Obelisk at Holy Trinity Churchyard, Cambo, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

27 April 1915

Image of Private H.M. Durand, 1905 (Ref: UND/F1/FB1905S)

Private H.M. Durand, 1905 (Ref: UND/F1/FB1905S)

Private Havilland Montague Durand

Havilland Montague Durand was born on 21 December 1883 at Earley vicarage near Reading. His father, also Havilland Durand, was vicar there for 13 years, and died shortly afterwards in 1884. Havilland was the seventh and last child and was then brought up by his widowed mother Mary in St Peter Port and then Moulin Huet in Guernsey. Havilland was educated at Elizabeth College, Guernsey, and then University College, Durham where he matriculated in Michaelmas term 1902. He passed his first year Arts exams in Easter term 1903 and his finals in Easter term 1904. He took his BA degree on 21 June 1904, and his M.A. on 25 June 1907. He rowed bow in the University College Senate Cup winning crews of both 1904 and 1905, having stayed on after graduation as secretary of the Students Representative Council (forerunner of the present DSU). He served for 2 years in the 5th (Volunteer) Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. He then emigrated to Australia, travelling from London in September 1911 to Brisbane, where he settled as a teacher. He volunteered as a Private on the outbreak of war and joined the Australian Imperial Force on 4 September 1914. He was posted to the newly formed 13th Battalion on 22 September. He embarked for Egypt with his battalion at Melbourne on 22 December 1914 on H.M.A.T. Ulysses. As part of 4th Brigade of the New Zealand and Australian Division 13th Battalion spent the winter training in the Cairo area. The Battalion sailed from Alexandria on 13 April and arrived off Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula at 4.30 p.m. on the afternoon of 25 April 1915. A, B and C Companies disembarked under fire at 9.30 p.m. that evening, D Company landing at 3.30 a.m. the next morning. The battalion took up positions on Pope’s Hill and Quinn’s Hill at the head of Monash Valley at 5.00 a.m. By 27 April his company was running short of ammunition and Durand volunteered to go back down Monash Valley to the beach to fetch more. Both the gully and the beach were under heavy Turkish fire. He managed to get back with the ammunition but seems to have been killed either later that day or during the next. His service record established the date of death as 27 April however. His captain wrote “he had done his duty and saved our line. I have to mention that he was loved by officers and men alike. He was selected and especially trained for a batt[alio]n Scout, work that always required a lot of intelligence and tact. The Colonel assured me that if Durand had not arrived with the ammunition, his comrades who were in an isolated position, would have been annihilated and our line would have been broken”. His effects included a rosary, a French book and a sketch book. He was buried by his comrades on a hill at Gaba Tepe with a cross above his grave. The grave was lost in the fighting and he is now commemorated in the Lone Pine Memorial in Turkey. His eldest brother, Francis William Durand, had been killed in France on 22 December 1914.

The image is a detail from a team portrait of the University College Four Senate Cup [winners] in 1905, in which H. M. Durand rowed bow (Ref: UND/F1/FB1905S).

Additional sources: Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, April 1915
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Tony Wynne.
Image of Lance Corporal W. H. Bayles (Ref: E/HB 2/679; copyright Durham County Record Office)

Lance Corporal W. H. Bayles (Ref: E/HB 2/679)

Lance Corporal William Henry Bayles

William Henry Bayles was born 22 August 1888 at South Shields. He was a member of Bede College from 1907-1909, and by 1911, aged 22, he was a certificated Assistant Teacher at Dean Bank Council elementary school in Spennymoor, lodging at 25 Carlton Terrace. He enlisted at Durham, joining 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as a Private. Singing was among his talents: he is reported in The Bede magazine as having sung ‘Wrap me up in my P.S-ing Jacket’ at the B Company concert at Ravensworth Park Camp in October 1914. He went to France with the battalion on 19 April 1915. He is recorded as having attained the rank of Lance Corporal by the date of his death, when he was wounded and captured during the fighting on the Gravenstafel Ridge during the Second Battle of Ypres. A contemporary of his at Bede College, William Arnett, spotted him the next day on a stretcher shot three times in the abdomen, and saw him again in the operating theatre of the German hospital. His death occurred on 27 April 1915, and he was buried initially in Oostnieuwkerke churchyard, but after the war his body was moved by the British and buried at Cement House Cemetery near Langemark-Poelkapelle in Belgium. As a County Council employee Bayles’s sacrifice is honoured on the memorial at Durham County Hall, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Robert Hogg (Ref: UND/F9B/H22)

Robert Hogg (Ref: UND/F9B/H22)

Private Robert Hogg

Robert Hogg was the son of Robert Batey Hogg, a marine engineer, and Amy Hogg of South Shields. After attending Westoe Secondary School in South Shields he entered Bede College in 1911, and obtained his Certificate in July 1913 (with Mathematics his optional subject); he also served as the Honorary Secretary of the College’s Missionary Society 1912-1913. Upon leaving the College he was employed as a teacher at St Stephen’s Church School in South Shields, served as Secretary to the St Mary’s Tyne Dock Boy Scouts, and lived in Frederick Street. He enlisted at Durham, joining 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 2742 and went to France with the battalion on 19 April 1915. The battalion were almost immediately engaged in heavy fighting on the Gravenstafel Ridge in which Hogg served with A Company. He was transferred to the first line transport on 26 April to replace a casualty, a position that should in theory have been slightly safer than the front line. Unfortunately later that day a shell dropped near the quartermaster’s stores and Hogg was either killed or mortally wounded and died shortly after. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission register records him as having died on 27 April 1915: the circumstances of his death were described by his company commander, Captain, later Major, F. G. Harvey, in a short account of the battle published in 1921.

“The stores were by this time in a house at the west end of Vlamertinghe, and nearby in a field were 70 of our men who had returned there; among them being Lieut. Baldwin and Sergeant Teasdale, also R. Hogg (11-13), Shepherd, and others. M.D. Smith did not return as he had been wounded in the arm by a shrapnel bullet, so we got R. Hogg (11-13) in his place. But that evening, just when the ration carts were ready, the Germans suddenly opened fire on the town and fields around it, and there were many casualties, the hospital being badly damaged. The Q.M.'s staff were standing watching the havoc caused by shells falling among the Scots Greys, who were in an adjacent field, when a howitzer shell fell about 6 or 8 feet from us, and out of a group of nine, I was the only one unhurt. R. Hogg was killed by this shell, J. Smiles was seriously injured, and the Quartermaster and Q.M.-Sergeant were also wounded.”

A Record of the War Service of Bede Men in His Majesty’s Navy & Army During The Years Of The Great War 1914-1918 (1921), p.47-48.

Harvey seems to imply that this incident happened on 27 April after 1/8 DLI had come out of the line. Major Veitch in his history of 8/DLI dates it to 26 April. Hogg is buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery just outside Ypres in Belgium. Every year through to at least 1922 his family commemorated his death in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the South Shields Gazette. As a County Council employee Hogg’s sacrifice is honoured on the memorial at Durham County Hall, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. His name is also commemorated at various locations in South Shields, namely: the Westoe Secondary School Plaque, the Frederick Street Memorial, and the Cross in St Mary’s Churchyard.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Margaret Miles, Alison Shelley.
Image of Private Cyril S. Hall (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914)

Private Cyril S. Hall (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914)

29 April 1915

Private Cyril Stanley Hall

Cyril Stanley Hall was born in South Shields on 12 July 1894, the second son of William and Louisa Hall of Westoe. He had one older brother, William Percy, and two older sisters, Gladys and Mary Winifred. He studied at Bede College between 1913 and 1915 before joining the Army at Newcastle upon Tyne. During his time at the college he was a member of a successful college rowing crew, and he performed in a number of musical entertainments, singing songs such as "Captain Ginger", and "The Spaniard that blighted my Life", a big hit for Al Jolson in 1913. He was originally Private T/149 in the Northumberland Infantry Brigade Company, Army Service Corps before transferring to the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as Private 8/2364. He went to France with the battalion on 19 April 1915. 1/8th Durham Light Infantry were almost immediately put into the line on the Gravenstafel Ridge near Ypres to assist hard-pressed Canadian infantry. Cyril Hall was mortally wounded on 25 April and was captured by the Germans. Although the June issue of The Bede magazine was still reporting Hall as wounded, and a prisoner of war, in fact he had died of his wounds, aged 20, on 29 April 1915 and was buried in a German cemetery at Roeselare. The location of his grave was later lost and he is memorialized at Roeselare Communal Cemetery, Belgium. His name is also honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: detail of photograph of Bede College Boating Club 1913-1914 from the estate of Fred Forcer.
Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

2 May 1915

Image of 2nd Lt. H.W.T. Reed (Ref: Sphinx, v.1 no.2)

2nd Lt. H.W.T. Reed (Ref: Sphinx, v.1 no.2)

2nd Lieutenant Henry William Ternent Reed

Henry (Harry) William Ternent Reed was a local man, born 5 June 1884 in Margery Lane, Crossgate in Durham, the fifth of six children of Lancelot George and Ellen Reed (née Ternent). His was a family of educationalists: his father was the headmaster of St Margaret’s Boys School, and both his grandfather, uncle and three siblings were all in the school teaching profession. Henry survived a serious attack of scarlet fever before entering the Chorister School in 1893. He went on to Durham School as a day boy in 1898, excelling in Mathematics and Classics, and being elected to a King’s Scholarship in 1900. He also played in the rugby XV 1900-1901. Staying in Durham, and indeed probably still staying at home, he attended the university from 1902 as a non-collegiate student and thereby a member of St Cuthbert’s Society. He was academically accomplished, passing first class in Classical Honours in 1903 and also in his BA finals in the Summer of 1905. He had also attained the Lindsay, Newby and Open Scholarships along the way, perhaps, along with his non-collegiate status, indicating an unprosperous home background. His abilities were not purely academic, as he was also active in debating at St Cuthbert’s Society and even became president of the Union Society and thereby organiser of June Week. He also was first secretary and then captain of the Durham Colleges rugby XV, though he had now moved into the scrum from his three-quarter days at school. His all-round prowess merited a feature in the student magazine of the day, The Sphynx, as a ‘Man of Mark’ in the 11 May 1905 edition. Through the correspondence columns of the more august Durham University Journal, he advocated the formation of a Durham Society, to allow alumni to keep in touch.

Seeking to progress his academic career further, he then moved on to Cambridge in 1905, matriculating at Trinity College with an exhibition as a sizar; that is, one who had to pay his way somewhat by carrying out menial tasks. He continued to excel academically, winning the college’s Classics Prize and gaining a BA with 2nd class in the Classical Tripos in 1908. He had rowed at school, but not at Durham, proclaiming himself “no use” at it in 1905. He now flourished at it, rowing in the 1st Trinity 1st May boat at Cambridge and Henley in 1908, being then also a member of the Leander club. He was also active during this period in the Magpie and Stump (the college’s debating society) and the Shakespeare Society. Leaving Cambridge, he taught as an assistant master in Classics, first at King’s School Worcester, and then in 1909 at Cheltenham College; he coached rowing at both places and founded a Scout Troop at the King’s School. Having been a Cadet Corporal of Cheltenham College Contingent OTC, he was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Monmouthshire Regiment on 4 January 1915. It is not known when he joined the battalion but he was killed at the Second Battle of Ypres at St Julien on 2 May 1915. 2nd Monmouthshires was a Territorial battalion although it was serving with the regulars of 12th Brigade which was part of the 4th Division. The British Army in the Ypres salient was under intense pressure from the Germans and a withdrawal to a shorter line was planned for the night of 2/3 May. 2 May 1915 began with a heavy German bombardment of the British trenches around La Brique. The Monmouthshires were in the reserve line but B and C companies were soon ordered up to support 2nd Essex and 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers in the front line. The order never reached B Company but C Company moved up under heavy shrapnel fire and occupied the support trench behind the Essex Regiment. Later in the day two platoons of B Company managed to reinforce the Royal Irish Regiment. At some point during the day Harry Reed was killed, probably by shell fire, and is buried in La Brique Military Cemetery no. 2. Obituaries were published in the Durham County Advertiser on 15 May 1915 and the Durham University Journal in March 1916. He is commemorated on the war memorials in Durham School Chapel (and in its War Record of Old Dunelmians), Trinity College Cambridge Chapel, Worcester King’s School Hall and the school’s window in Worcester Cathedral Cloisters, Cheltenham Promenade, and St Luke’s Church in Cheltenham.

A fuller biography by Simon Stanley will be published by St Cuthbert's Society in due course.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Heather Ross, Simon Stanley.

4 May 1915

Image of Lance Corporal R.H. Robson (Ref: MIA 13/43)

Lance Corporal R.H. Robson (Ref: MIA 13/43)

Lance Corporal Robert Henry Robson

Born c. 1889 at Alwent Hall, ‘Barney’ Robson was the eighth child of Anthony Robson, a farmer, and his wife Elizabeth. The family would later move to Catcote Farm near Hartlepool. While most of his siblings remained at home to help work the farms, his eldest brother, John Ernest Robson, fought in the Second Boer War, a Sergeant in the 55th (Northumberland) Company Imperial Yeomanry, and died of wounds at Elandsfontein, 1 October 1900. Robert also left the home farm to attend Bede College 1909-1911, attaining his Certificate in July 1911 with a distinction in Mathematics, and Latin as his optional subject: he went on to teach as an Assistant Master at Middleton Council School in Hartlepool. He was a noted sportsman, playing rugby (a forward) and captaining the college Boating team, memorably being part of the 1910 crew that first won the Grand Challenge cup at the Regatta for the college. He also played rugby for Hartlepool Rovers Football Club and County Durham, and cricket for Hartlepool Cricket Club. At the start of the war he entered 1/8th D.L.I. as a Private, and had been promoted to Lance Corporal by the time the Battalion was ordered up to Gravenstafel Ridge as part of the Second Battle of Ypres on 24 April 1915. 1/8th DLI had entered France only five days before, and Robson was among that half of the battalion ordered to reinforce a front line defensive position at Boetleer Farm, north east of Ypres. The human cost of the battle can be gauged by the number of Bede men found in the Register over this period. By all accounts Robson fought with distinction, several comrades writing home about his actions:

“Corporal Wilson and Lance Corporal R. H. Robson went from a part of the line where the fighting was not so fierce to the place where it was thickest, and within a very short space of time both came back wounded. Poor Robson lay down and said 'Ah, well, lads, we have done our bit. Give it them hot.' I don't know what afterwards became of him.”

Unattributed letter, 7 May 1915, quoted in The Bede magazine, June 1915.

“It must have been about [five] that the German infantry made their first attack some little distance to our left. At this time a machine-gun in this sector became very short of men, and Barney Robson along with two others volunteered to fill the vacancies. Shortly afterwards he returned badly wounded, but after being bandaged he returned to the gun, and it was only when seven wounds had been inflicted on him that he gave up. Unfortunately he was taken prisoner and died at Roulers - and thus did not get the decoration he so richly deserved.”

From 'Our Baptism of Fire' by T. S[hepherd, 8th DLI], published in The Bede magazine, December 1917.

W. G. Graham, a college prefect contemporary of Robson’s, wrote of him as the “bravest … who gave his life to cheer up a few weary and worn out Canadians. He was a hero if ever there was one.” (Graham himself would be killed in action a month later.) That Robson survived his capture is clear, as he wrote a postcard to his parents from Roulers, (or Roeselare): either he minimised his injuries so as not to alarm them, or he was not fully aware of their gravity. The Northern Daily Mail reported on 28 May that a nursing sister at the Redemptoust Convent at Roeselare informed his parents that “he took a turn for the worse and for the last few days was delirious. The wound in the back was very bad”. An account by an escaped prisoner of war, Lance Corporal J. Thomas of 1/8th DLI, captured in the same engagement, was published in The Bede magazine in June 1916 and provides some interesting details of the moments of capture and the conditions of their imprisonment and care in the following days.

Robson was buried in a German cemetery at Roeselare. Like C. S. Hall above, who also died of wounds as a prisoner of war, the location of his grave was later lost and he is memorialized at Roeselare Communal Cemetery, Belgium. A plaque was erected by his parents commemorating both his and his eldest brother’s sacrifice, at All Saints’ Church, Stranton; and his name is also recorded on another plaque in the same church. His name is honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and at Hartlepool Rugby Football Club.

Additional sources: the image (Ref: MIA 13/43) is from an album of Bede College students and staff, 1909-1911, created by James Wilkinson, and donated to the Library by Dr C.W. Gibby in 1979. Wilkinson served as a Corporal in the Royal Army Service Corps (Motor Transport), and survived the war.
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

10 May 1915

Image of Corporal J. M. Watson (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914)

Corporal J. M. Watson (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914)

Corporal Joseph Matthew Watson

Joseph Watson was born 17 July 1894 in Heighington, the son of Frank Edwain Watson, a goods guard on mineral trains, and his wife Ruth, of 13 Gladstone Terrace, Shildon. A County Council school pupil teacher aged 16 at the time of the 1911 census, Watson attended Bede College 1912-1914, and went on to work as a Certificated Assistant Teacher at New Shildon Council School. During his time at Bede College he was captain (stroke) of the 1913-1914 rowing team. He joined 1/8th DLI on the outbreak of war, and in December 1914 was a Lance Corporal in B Company, stationed at Sunderland Road Schools in Gateshead. He entered France with the battalion on 19 April 1915, and had been promoted to Corporal by the time the Battalion was ordered up to Gravenstafel Ridge as part of the Second Battle of Ypres on 24 April 1915. 1/8th DLI had entered France only five days before, and Robson was among that half of the battalion ordered to reinforce a front line defensive position at Boetleer Farm, north east of Ypres. Wounded in the fighting on 25 April, he was captured but wrote home with “cheery news” from a German Field Hospital four days later. However, he died of his wounds on 10 May. Of his actions on 25 April, particularly with regard to his supervision of an orderly retirement under intense pressure from the enemy, showing “courage, determination, and soul”, several accounts were published The Bede magazine.

“Of Joseph Watson' stubborn holding to the last, of the section of the trench entrusted to him, witnesses have spoken with admiration; and the courage which shewed itself in the letter he sent home when he lay in a German Field Hospital wounded to death deceived us into thinking his wounds could not be severe. Of his suffering as he lay wounded on the ground a brave Bede man was a witness and gave his life to aid him. The information reaches us from one of our men who is a prisoner. As Watson lay wounded on the ground he called for water, and a bottle was thrown to him but unhappily fell out of his reach. This J.H. Atkinson saw, and leaving his shelter went amidst the flying bullets to give his fallen comrade the water which he needed, but gave his life in the attempt. The scene recalled Zutphen and Sir Philip Sydney to the man who saw the deed and tells the story. We are not sure that the brave effort does not even surpass that historic act of unselfishness.”

The Bede magazine, December 1915

“Our portion of the trench was in three sections. In the right section were Joseph Watson, Andrew Ellwood and others … Further away on our left the trenches had been heavily shelled, and the men in them were forced to retire to seek shelter on our right. Our orders were to follow them to their new position, when all had passed. I remember some of these men coming into our section of the trench; some were wounded, some were unnerved by the terrible experience they had undergone, others on the other hand were quite cool. It was at this time that R.H. Robson came in frightfully wounded. He was immediately cared for by the men in the left section. We took as many of the scared men as possible into our dug-outs, and Joe did the same. Afterwards at great personal risk he began to direct the retirement. His difficulty was with the men shattered by the ordeal through which they had passed. Dazed and shaken many were crouching in places where they were still exposed to the enemy's fire. One by one he urged, and directed and encouraged these men, passing them on into the next section. It was a difficult work as they were in a bad state. When all had passed he directed me to follow, and I cannot remember that ever I saw him again. … [T]here remains with me absolutely clear, the never to be forgotten picture of the hero doing his duty in the face of all dangers, never flinching, and thinking only of others, and of the Glory of the British Arms.”

T.H. R[eid], a Bede College contemporary of Watson’s, in The Bede magazine, December 1915.

Watson was buried first in Ledeghem German Military Cemetery, but later exhumed and reburied in Harlebeke New British Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen in Belgium. His name is honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and at New Shildon All Saints' Churchyard.

Additional sources: photograph of Bede College Boating Club 1913-1914 from the estate of Fred Forcer.
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

14 May 1915

Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry (King's crown version).
Private James Moore

Born 8 December 1893 in Upper Denby, near Huddersfield, Moore was the son of Matthew Crooks Moore, a mason, and Hannah (née Hardcastle). His father died in 1898, and so Moore and his younger brother William were brought up by his widowed mother, who is recorded in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses as a cloth mender in a worsted mill works. Her father had been a weaver in nearby Kirkburton. Moore attended Bede College 1913-1915, but is recorded in the 1915 Annual Report as having already entered military service, and did not complete his studies. He joined 1/8th DLI as Private 2339, and in December 1914 the battalion was based at Sunderland Road Schools in Gateshead. Going to France on 19 April 1915 with the battalion, Moore survived their baptism of fire at Gravenstafel Ridge, during which the unit was reduced to between half and quarter strength, but was killed in action soon after, on 14 May 1915. The battalion had been urgently ordered up into the GHQ Line east of Potijze near Ypres to support some cavalry regiments which had been “blown out” of their trenches by shell fire, and their trenches lost to German infantry. The GHQ Line at this time stretched from Potijze Wood to a railway station on the Ypres to Roeselare line near Hell Fire Corner. A counter-attack begun at 2 p.m. retook these trenches, but it was not until another DLI battalion re-dug the degraded trenches on the night of 13-14 May that the position again became tenable, and 8 DLI then moved up into these trenches after 2 a.m. on 14 May. Major Veitch in his battalion history records that the artillery fire that day was lighter than it had been as the battalion had moved up to Potijze, and that Moore was the only man killed that day. The battalion was ordered back to Camp C, Brielen, two days later. Moore is commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and at Denby Dale, Huddersfield.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler and Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Royal Welch Fusiliers cap badge

Royal Welch Fusiliers cap badge

16 May 1915

Sergeant John Philip Price

John Philip Price was born in 1892 in Shipston-on-Stour, the eldest son and second of five children of Phillip Price, an engine driver on the Great Western Railway, and his wife Elizabeth. In 1901 the family was living in Newport in Monmouthshire. Price had an association with Grove Park County School for Boys in Wrexham, either as a pupil or a teacher, and by 1911 he was an elementary school teacher for Cheshire County Council at Cheadle National School, living in Cheadle. He was also a member of Cheadle’s church choir, and Scout Master of its 1st Troop. He evidently wanted to better himself, for he then matriculated at Durham University’s affiliated Codrington College in Barbados in Easter Term 1913 as an Arts student. Quite why and how he came to Barbados is not clear. At some stage he joined the Barbados Volunteers and, on the outbreak of war, abandoned his studies to sail for England on the R.M.S. “Orotava”, travelling in the 2nd Saloon passenger. He arrived in London on 9 November 1914, with his fellow Codrington student, Humphrey Reece (killed, 2 April 1916). Price went back home to Wrexham, where his parents were living at 2 Maesgwyn Road. He enlisted there as a private in the 3rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 23 November. After less than six weeks of training he joined the 1st Battalion in France on 11 January 1915, presumably in a reinforcement draft. The battalion had almost been destroyed in the First Battle of Ypres and was in the process of rebuilding. John was clearly a competent soldier and was promoted Lance Corporal on 27 February, appointed an acting Orderly Room clerk on 13 March, and promoted Acting Sergeant on 16 March. He was killed in action on 16 May 1915 during his battalion’s involvement in the Battle of Festubert. (The University’s 1920 Roll of Honour incorrectly dates his death to 1916.) He has no known grave but is commemorated on the memorial at Le Touret cemetery in France, as well as on the memorial in Codrington College in Barbados, and the Grove Park County School for Boys Roll of Honour. A photograph from Denbighshire Record Office (DD/ED/GS/11/84) of Price was published in a First World War commemorative issue of the Wrexham Telegraph.

Research contributor: Tim Brown.

24 May 1915

Image of the Army Cyclist Corps cap badge (Copyright CC-BY-SA 3.0 Gunther Lux)

Army Cyclist Corps cap badge

Corporal Sidney Howard Cunningham

Sidney Howard Cunningham was born in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool in July 1891, the son of James and Hilda Cunningham. He attended Bede College 1910-1912, gaining his teacher's certificate, and seems to have enlisted in 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, Territorial Force, during his time in Durham. He re-enlisted on 18 September 1914 at Durham as Private 2908, but was soon promoted to Corporal, on 9 December 1914. The following day, for unknown reasons he was transferred to the Northumbrian Divisional Cyclist Company, a unit of the Army Cyclist Corps. A brother, A. H. Cunningham, later served in the 171th Chinese Labour Company and survived the war having attained the rank of Lieutenant. Sidney left for France with A Company on 19 April 1915 from Southampton, disembarking the following day at Le Havre. The 50th Division was thrown into action in the Ypres Salient almost immediately and suffered heavy losses. By the end of May most of the infantry had been distributed as reinforcements to other divisions and the Cyclist Company was working with the Cavalry Corps on repairing trenches around Bellewarde. Sidney Cunningham is recorded as having been killed in action on 24 May 1915, aged 23. The Germans launched a heavy assault on the British lines early on that morning with artillery and gas and he was probably killed somewhere between Armagh Wood and Bellewarde Lake. His grave, if he ever had one, has been lost and his name is commemorated at the Menin Gate in Ypres, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: the image of the Army Cyclist Corps cap badge, taken by Günther Lux and published at Europeana 1914-1918, is reproduced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.
Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

25 May 1915

Image of Cyril Stanley Hall, University College Graduates Cup rowing team, 1910 (Ref: UND/F1/FB1910G)

Private Alban Martin Sharp (Ref: UND/F1/FB1910G)

Private Alban Martin Sharp

Alban Martin Sharp was born in 1883 in St Albans, Hertfordshire. He was the second of three children of Thomas Sharp, a solicitor’s clerk, and Annette. In 1901, Alban was a pupil at a prep school in Hove where his uncle, John L. Sharp, was the headmaster. Alban matriculated as an Arts student at University College in Michaelmas term 1908 with a foundation scholarship worth £35. He rewarded this promise by passing his first year exams in Easter 1909 with class IV Honours in Classics and Literature. He was also active on the sports field, playing in the university’s rugby XV at full back, being secretary of his college’s team, playing cricket for the university’s Athenians side and his college, and also rowing for his college. He also underwent military training in the OTC, sufficient to pass his Certificate A in Michaelmas 1909. He rowed in his college’s Graduates Cup winning crew (see photo) in Epiphany term 1910, in a stirring race against Hatfield. However, by the end of that term, he was clearly having some academic problems as his attendance at chapel and lectures began to drop off markedly during the latter part of the term. In fact, his attendance was poor enough during the next term for him to fail to meet the required minimum to meet the residence requirement. He left without taking his finals. In 1911, he was a schoolmaster in Hendon, living with another uncle, Leonard Meyrick Meyrick-Jones at 150 Audley Road. Alban served in 15th London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) as a Private. The London Regiment was composed entirely of Territorial battalions and it is possible that Alban was a serving Territorial before the war. The battalion was on annual camp in August 1914 on Salisbury Plain and when war was declared they returned to their depot for mobilisation. The 2nd London Division of which they were part was concentrated around St Albans for training. By now Alban’s battalion had been designated 1/15th London Regiment as a second battalion had been raised in September 1914. 1/15th were billeted at Bedmond, just to the west of St Albans. Alban arrived in France with the rest of the battalion on 18 March 1915 as part of 2nd London Brigade, 2nd London Division, later re-designated 140th Brigade, 47th Division. He was killed on 25 May during the battalion’s first major action, the Battle of Festubert. He is buried in Brown’s Road Cemetery, Festubert, and is commemorated on a bench in St Albans Cathedral and on the war memorial at St Peters Green in St Albans, where his residence is given as Theydons, Hall Palace Gardens.

Additional sources: detail of photograph of University College Graduates Cup rowing team, 1910 (Ref: UND/F1/FB1910G).
Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

24 June 1915

Image of Captain W. G. Graham (Ref: E/HB 2/688)

Captain W. G. Graham (Ref: E/HB 2/688)

Captain William George Graham

William George Graham was born on 16 May 1890 at 9 George Street, Willington Quay. He was the son of James William and Jane Graham (née Pye) and his birth certificate shows his father’s profession to have been an Iron Ship Plater (although he later became manager of the Kowloon Docks in Hong Kong). William was sent to school in Willington Quay and then attended Bede College in Durham 1909-1911.

His family had a military background, his father having held a commission as a Lieutenant Engineer in the Hong Kong Volunteers whilst his great-grandfather fought at the Battle of Waterloo and was twice wounded. William subsequently joined the 5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, a territorial unit, rose to the rank of sergeant and was then gazetted Second Lieutenant on 8 March 1913. A reference for this commission from his commanding officer in his War Office file (WO 374/28488) states he was “in every way eligible and suitable for a commission”. When war broke he was a school teacher, employed at Stephenson School back in Willington Quay. He was also a sidesman in St Peter's, Wallsend. On 14 October 1914, while the battalion was still based in Walker, he married Annie Evelyn Briggs (of 14 Lord Street, Southport, Lancashire) at St Mary’s Church in the parish of Elland, Yorkshire.

During the first week of mobilisation Graham acted as Adjutant and subsequently as Signal Officer, and when the Battalion was ordered to the front in April 1915 he went to France 24 hours in advance as Captain in charge of his Brigade Transport. Within three or four days of landing the battalion was rushed up to the firing line to assist Canadian and Middlesex Regiment battalions. The first day at the front the 5th Battalion lost their Brigade Signal Officer and Captain Graham had to take up those duties for a few days. In similar circumstances Graham subsequently took up the duties of Adjutant for a time before re-joining his company. In the spring of 1915 he was mentioned in dispatches by Field Marshal Sir John French (London Gazette, 18 June 1915). An account by a brother officer of Graham’s actions at this time was reprinted after his death in The Bede magazine:

“The first day the Regiment came seriously under fire on April 25, he set a fine example by the fearless way in which he carried out his duties under heavy shell fire, and from that day to the end wherever there was a difficult or dangerous piece of work to be done he has been to the fore.”

The Bede, December 1915.

In the week before he was killed Graham himself wrote home of the welcome chance encounters he made with former fellow Bede men, the bulk of whom served in 8 Durham Light Infantry:

“[O]nly last night I was returning from a reconnaissance through Ypres when Wheldon and Ewen hailed me from the roadside. You can have no idea how grand and delightful it is to meet the 'chaps' once again.”

The Bede, December 1915.

Graham was shot in the head and killed in the trenches by a sniper on 24 June 1915, aged 25. He is buried in the St Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery, France. His War Office file shows that after his death his widow received a £250 gratuity and a rate of pension of £100 p.a. from 25 June 1915. A daughter, Flora Elizabeth, was born posthumously at Elland on 10 November 1915, and she too was awarded a ‘compassionate allowance’, of £24 p.a., and a gratuity of £83 6s 8d. Graham’s name is to be found on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour, a plaque and Book of Remembrance in the church of St Peter, Wallsend, and a plaque at Stephenson Memorial Primary School, Willington Quay. He is also listed in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919. A short account of duty and work accomplished during the war, excerpted here.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.

25 April x 26 June 1915

The following five Bede College men listed in the Register are all officially recorded as having been killed in action on 26 June 1915. Other evidence reveals they probably all fell during the Battle of Gravelstafel Ridge on 25/26 April 1915 or soon after, and after a period during which they were reported as missing in action, no further news of their deaths or capture having been received, their deaths were officially confirmed in late June.

Image of Private Alfred Barker (Ref: E/HB 2/927(20))

Private Alfred Barker (Ref: E/HB 2/927(20))

Private Alfred Barker

Alfred Barker was born 1 January 1892 at Brotton Yorkshire and was brought up in Guisborough, Yorkshire. He was educated there at Prior Pursglove College, 1906-1909, where he excelled academically and on the sports field. He attended Bede College to train as a teacher 1912-1914, passing the Preliminary Certificate in April 1912 gaining distinctions in three subjects, and in March 1913 won a first class certificate in Divinity. Barker also captained the college football team. After the outbreak of war Barker enlisted in 1/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry as Private 1941. He was killed in action, aged 23, during the Second Battle of Ypres. While the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports his death as having occurred (or officially been confirmed) on 26 June 1915, The Bede magazine, on the other hand, reported his death in action before 31 May, and he may indeed have fallen during the battalion’s first engagement at Gravenstafel Ridge in the last week of April, in which he certainly fought. The battalion was heavily engaged in late April, but the 8th Battalion’s official history by Major E. Hardinge Veitch and its War Diary report late June 1915 as having been a period of quiet. Another 8 DLI soldier, Private Robert Stafford (see below), is also reported as having been killed in action on 26 June, however there is clearer evidence in Stafford’s case that he was known to be missing on 26 April, and officially reported killed in action between 28 April and 26 June, and it’s likely Barker’s case was the same. A fellow soldier described Barker as ‘noble-hearted’, and the circumstances of his death ‘glorious but tragic’ (The Bede, December 1916). He has no known grave and is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. He is also remembered on the war memorial at Guisborough, at Prior Pursglove College, and the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the cap badge of the DLI.
Private William Graham Hall

William Graham Hall, born 23 September 1891, came from the village of Hutton Rudby near Stokesley in Yorkshire. He was born and educated there, and at the age of 19 was employed there as an elementary school teacher. He attended Bede College 1913-1915, and during these years his name features prominently in rugby match reports in the college magazine. On the outbreak of war Hall enlisted in the 1/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at Durham, serving as Private 2324. He went out to Belgium in April 1915 with 8 DLI, and was quickly thrown into action in the Second Battle of Ypres, during the course of which he was killed in action, aged only 23. While the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports his death as having occurred (or been officially confirmed) on 26 June 1915, The Bede magazine and the Newcastle Daily Journal report him as missing before 31 May and 7 June respectively, and the Report and List of Members of Bede College Club (1925) provides a date of death of 25 April 1915, on the first day of the battalion’s engagement in the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge. As in the cases of a number of other men in 8 DLI, it is likely Hall was reported missing in action after this first bloody engagement, but his body not being found nor any reports of his capture having been received, his death was officially confirmed only on 26 June. A note in Hall’s student record (DCRO E/HB 2/236 f.128) relays a report that he was ‘buried on the field by the Germans’, but this grave was lost, and Hall is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. His name is also found on Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour, and on a war memorial and plaque at Hutton Rudby.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the cap badge of the DLI.
Private James Alfred Nichols

James Alfred Nichols was the son of John, a grocer, and Betsy Nichols of Summerhill, Roman Road in Middlesbrough; he was born 22 July 1879 and spent his childhood in the town. He attended Bede College 1899-1901. At the outbreak of the First World War he was employed as a schoolmaster at Southend School in Middlesbrough. He enlisted at Durham with the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and served as Private 2915. Nichols was killed in action, aged 35, during the Second Battle of Ypres. While the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports his death as having occurred (or been officially confirmed) on 26 June 1915, The Bede magazine reports him as having been killed in action before 31 May, and the Report and List of Members of Bede College Club (1925) provides a date of death of 25 April 1915, during the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge. As in a number of other cases, it is likely Nichols was reported missing in action after this engagement, but his body not being found nor any reports of his capture having been received, his death was officially confirmed only on 26 June. He has no known grave and is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. His name is also found on Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour, and the Middlesbrough War Memorial.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Private Lawrence Shortridge (Ref:  E/HB 2/680)

Private Lawrence Shortridge (Ref: E/HB 2/680)

Private Lawrence Shortridge

Lawrence Shortridge was born 7 September 1888 at Lanercost, Carlisle, the son of Robert and Hannah Shortridge. He spent most of his early life at Wark on Tyne where his father was head of the elementary school. Lawrence attended Bede College 1907-1909, and upon gaining his schoolmaster certificate taught at Castle Eden Colliery School, living at the Post office at Hesleden. During his time at Bede College he played in the college tennis team, and coxed in one the college’s rowing crews. He enlisted into the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry at Durham and served as Private 2651. He left for France with the Battalion in April 1915, but was soon killed in action, aged 26, during the Second Battle of Ypres. While the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports his death in action on 26 June 1915, The Bede magazine, on the other hand, reported him missing before 31 May, and a notice in the Newcastle Daily Journal in October 1915 reported the family had been notified he had been killed in action east of Ypres ‘about the 28th April’. It is likely therefore that Shortridge fell during the battalion’s first engagement at Gravenstafel Ridge in the last week of April, but his death was only officially confirmed on 26 June. He has no known grave and is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. In addition to his name being found on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour, he is also commemorated at Wark on Tyne on a plaque at St Michael Church and on a cross on the village green, and on a clock, bell and plaque at St John, Hesledon, and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Private Robert Stafford (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Private Robert Stafford (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Private Robert Stafford

Robert Stafford was born on 7 February 1890 in Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, the son of Robert Henry Stafford and Ann Johnson Stafford of 79 Cleveland Road. He attended Sunderland Bede Collegiate Boys’ School 1904-1908 (including two years in the Pupil Teacher Section), and then Bede College 1910-1913, where he was a prefect in his final year. A noted oarsman, Stafford captained the Bede College rowing team. Enlisting into the 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry at Durham, he served as Private 2603. After leaving college he was employed as a schoolmaster at Simpson Street County School, Sunderland. Stafford was killed in action, aged 25, during the Second Battle of Ypres, probably at Gravenstafel Ridge. While the Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports his death as having occurred (or officially been confirmed) on 26 June 1915, The Bede magazine reports him missing before 31 May, and The Bedan, his school magazine, notes he was reported missing on 26 April, and officially reported killed in action between 28 April and 26 June. He has no known grave and is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. His name is also found on the Bede School war memorial, Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour, and in the memorial Book of Remembrance at Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland, and also in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Joyce Malcolm.

9 August 1915

Captain Thomas Porteous Black

Image of Captain Thomas P. Black. (Ref: Gong magazine. Reproduced with kind permission of Manuscripts and Special collections, The University of Nottingham.)

Captain Thomas P. Black (Ref: Gong magazine)

Thomas Porteous Black was born on 8 April 1878 at Shotts, Lanarkshire, the first son of George Banks Black (d. 26/5/1915), stationmaster, and Margaret née Brown (d. 28/5/1938), and one of nine children. His father worked his way up on the railways from a Surfaceman to a District Superintendent, beginning in the north of Scotland, then moving by 1891 to Newcastle, and by 1901 to Darlington, returning to end his career at Aberdeen. Thomas went to Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, and then Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Darlington. Upon completing his secondary education he travelled to the Dardanelles, visiting Constantinople, Scutari and the Crimea, and so most likely passed Cape Helles and the Gallipoli peninsula where he would fight in 1915. He won a £30 Foundation Scholarship to Durham University, (and would win another in 1897), and matriculated in the Michaelmas term of 1895 as an unattached student. He obtained a B.A. in Classics in 1898 (M.A., 1901). He then studied at Armstrong College: in 1901 he was awarded an Associate in Science degree, and in 1902 a B.Sc., researching radioactivity (M.Sc., 1906). Black lived, during this period, with his family at 36 Rothbury Terrace in Heaton. A Prince Albert Travelling Scholarship, (or Royal Exhibition Scholarship), enabled him from 1903 to study at Strasbourg where he completed his Ph.D. in Physics in 1905: his thesis was entitled ‘Über den Widerstand von Spulen für schnelle elekrische Schwingungen’, or ‘Concerning the resistance of coils for fast electrical oscillations’. He then returned to Armstrong College where he was appointed Demonstrator in Physics (1905/6). In 1907 he left Durham University to take up a position as a Demonstrator Lecturer in Physics at Nottingham University College, where, with Professor Barton, he published An Introduction to Practical Physics for Colleges and Schools (1912). He was appointed as Registrar of the university in 1911. Joining first the Robin Hood Rifles Volunteer Corps he then took a leading part in establishing the Officers’ Training Corps at the university, and is reported to have undertaken special training with the Black Watch to equip himself for higher duties. His zeal was attributed by his obituarist (Gong magazine, Dec. 1915) to his recognition of the threat of German militarism, observed during his time at Strasbourg. He resided during this period first at 6 All Saints Street, and then at 60 Ebers Road in Nottingham.

At the outset of the war Black joined the newly-formed 9th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment). He was first commissioned as temporary Lieutenant on 3 October 1914 but was soon promoted to Captain on 31 December 1914. After training the battalion set sail for Gallipoli on 30 June on the “Empress of Britain” and arrived at Gallipoli on 21 July, and was ordered into trenches at Cape Helles to acclimatise. After a week here, and a further week on Imbros (now Gökçeada) training, the battalion was landed at Suvla Bay on 7 August 1915. At dawn on 9 August 9th Sherwood Foresters received orders to advance from to link up with allied forces at Anzac Bay. The battalion’s war diaries were lost upon its evacuation from the peninsula, and a short account of the day’s action was recorded by Lt Col. Scothern in his personal diary – Scothern would go on to command the battalion later in the war.

“The formation adopted was one of two long lines about 200 - 300 yards apart. A and B companies forming the front one and C and D companies in the rear. The Machine Gun Section was extended between the two lines. After advancing about 1000 yards the battalion encountered heavy fire and suffered many casualties. From this point the advance was carried on by sectional rushes. Eventually the advance was held up on the right and in the centre near the orchard in the vicinity of Hetman Char. It was impossible to progress from here. The majority of officers had become casualties by 7 a.m. However the battalion held on to the line until 6 p.m. when the Turks tried to envelop the right. Lt Col. Bosanquet came up to the orchard and gave orders to withdraw the line 100 yards or so in the rear, and was wounded through the wrist whilst there, Major Blackburn taking command. At the end of the day there had been 19 officer casualties and about 300 men.”

Diary of Lt Col. Scothern, 9 August 1915 (unpublished, in private hands).

An excellent narrative of the action, drawing from many published and un-published sources, is available online, and emphasises the professionalism of the Turkish soldiers, targeting men showing leadership and initiative in order to break up successive attacks. Despite the bravery under fire of Company Sergeant-Major Jack Whitworth (later awarded a DCM), who recovered him from where he lay wounded, Black would die of his wounds a short time later. An account of a similar (or the same) act of brave compassion was reported later:

“I shall never forget the 9th of August, for we made an attack about six in the morning… My God, it was like hell to see them shot down, and hear the cries of the wounded. A chum of mine dragged one of our chaps into the hedge bottom, and we bandaged him up as well as we could, but we could not do much as he was shot through both thighs by explosive bullets, and they had ripped half of his thighs off. We stayed with him all day, and at night we had to retire and leave him.”

Private Joseph Bowler reported in the Mansfield Reporter & Sutton Times, 10 September 1915.

This account also indicates how Black’s body may also have had to be abandoned in the action after his death as the battalion withdrew and consolidated its position, and as no record of his burial survives he is today commemorated at Gallipoli on the Memorial at Helles. He is remembered too on the Nottingham University war memorial, the Durham University Roll of Service, and in the windows and plaque to the fallen in Ferryhill parish church (formerly Ferryhill United Free church), Aberdeen. Nottingham University also established a research scholarship in his name. Black left no dependants, his wife, whom he married in 1909 at Aberdeen, having died in February 1914.

Additional sources: Small Town, Great War. Hucknall 1914-1918, 9th Notts. & Derby. at Suvla: “A Very Severe Test of Fighting” (08/08/2012); Rootsweb forum, Scothern Diary quoted by Andrew Hesketh (02/12/2000); 'Thomas Porteous Black, a Nottingham man at Gallipoli', article on T.P. Black by John Beckett, published by the Centre for Hidden Histories (28/04/2015); photograph of Captain T.P. Black from Gong magazine, reproduced with kind permission of Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm; Christine McGann, Simon Stanley.

22 August 1915

Image of the Green Howards Regiment cap badge

Green Howards Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Leslie Keith Gifford-Wood

Leslie Keith Gifford-Wood was born at Kirkby Ravensworth Grammar School, North Yorkshire, in 1892. He was the younger of two sons born to Rev. Robert Gifford-Wood, headmaster of the school and later vicar of East Cowton, and Caroline (née Rogers Martin). He was educated at Richmond Grammar School where he won a prize for languages, was a member of the cricket, football, and hockey teams, and won the school challenge shield for long-distance running. In 1913 Gifford-Wood was awarded both the Ellerton and Newby scholarships to study at Durham University, and matriculated in Michaelmas term of that year as a member of Hatfield Hall. He studied for a BA in Classical Honours, passing his first year exams at Easter 1914 with Class II Honours. While at university he played cricket, football and hockey for his college.

Gifford-Wood left his studies to enlist in a Royal Fusiliers Public Schools Battalion upon the outbreak of the war. From there he was gazetted on 16 September 1914 as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards). The Battalion underwent training at Belton Park near Grantham, then Witley Camp in Godalming, Surrey, before departing from Liverpool on the H.M.T. “Aquitania” on 3 July 1915. After a week-long journey, they landed at Mudros Bay on the Greek island of Lemnos on 10 July 1915. The Battalion first saw action on 6 and 7 August 1915 during the landing at Suvla Bay. Despite heavy casualties they were successful in securing the hill of Lala Baba and continued to advance to the east over the following days. On 22 August Gifford-Wood was in the leading party at the Battle of Scimitar Hill, but the British forces there suffered defeat, with Gifford-Wood, aged 22, among the heavy casualties. Although he was at first reported wounded and missing, his death was accepted by the War Office on 24 October that year, but an obituary was not published in The Times until February 1916. This reports,

“[h]e fell, shot in both legs, 600 yards south-east of Chocolate Hill, and is said to have been last seen falling into a Turkish trench.”

Obituary, The Times, 22 February 1916, page 7, Issue 41096.

His body was never identified, and he is therefore commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Gallipoli, as well as the East Cowton 1914-1918 war memorial. He is also commemorated on the Hatfield College 1914-1918 memorial plaque.

Additional sources: biography of Gifford-Wood by Sophie Mawer and students at Richmond School; a photograph of Gifford-Wood is published by ww1-yorkshires.org.uk.; the image of the Green Howards cap badge, taken by Jakednb and published by Wikipedia, is reproduced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.
Research contributors: Jenna Fawcett; Marie-Thérèse Pinder.

23 September 1915

Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Private William Arnett

William Arnett was born 25 April 1889 at Nidd, near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, the son of Charles William Arnett, a railway signalman with N.E.R., and his wife Pleasance Arnett. The family must have moved to Ripon by 1899, as William was a chorister in the cathedral choir there from the age of nine: a fellow chorister would later write a moving account of his death. He attended Bede College 1907-1909, qualified as a school teacher, and when the war broke out was teaching at Dean Road Council School in Ferryhill, Co. Durham. He joined the 8th Battalion D.L.I. at Durham, serving as Private 2776, and with the battalion left for Belgium in April 1915. During the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 he was badly wounded and captured as a prisoner of war. The battalion suffered heavy casualties on Gravelstafel Ridge, as is attested by the number of Bede men remembered above who were killed in these few days in April. By a curious coincidence Arnett’s capture was reported in the same June issue of The Bede magazine that reported his delivery of a popular music hall monologue entitled “Devil May Care” as the second item of the “B” Company Concert at Ravensworth Park Camp in October 1914 – for the opening item the whole company had sung the Marseillaise. While a P.O.W. Arnett had one of his legs amputated, and as his wounds were so severe he was repatriated in August to be treated at Wandsworth Hospital in London. He died there as a result of his wounds on 23 September 1915, surrounded by his family, and was buried the cemetery at Ripon, to where his family had moved before 1901.

A more harrowing account of his ordeal as a prisoner of war and subsequent treatment appeared in the same issue with the publication of an extract from a letter sent to the Principal:

“He was wounded on the 25th of April, and lay from about 3 p.m. till early the following morning, when he was picked up by the Germans and taken to a barn near by. This period was evidently the cause of much of his after suffering for he had lain all night with his head and shoulders in a pool of water, 'with his chest bare' – a letter to Durham says that he was picked up with nothing but a singlet and overcoat in his possession.

At the Barn, his wound was roughly dressed by a German Red Cross man. On two occasions he was greeted with 'English Swine' and much by-play with the bayonet. He thought he saved himself the second time by indicating a cross on his arm, thereby notifying his need. He was eventually placed on a stretcher, and imagine his thoughts, when he saw two men with spades preceding him. 'Buried alive' he confessed, were the words continually in his mind. A more humane work was theirs, however, for they filled in shell holes that would have made rough passage.

On the way to the Base he received a great surprise, for coming alongside another bearer party, he recognised Harry Bayles, his great chum, who was wounded three times in the abdomen. [Bayles died of wounds 27 April 1915: see above.]

Arrived at the Base, his troubles were far from being set at rest, for to begin with, Pneumonia set in, and he was in such a sad condition, that he was placed in the "Pegging-out House," as he called it, to die. He must have made some recovery, for he was taken into the hospital and had his leg amputated. His wound had evidently caused surprise for special photographs were taken, (I give you his thought) to show the effect of certain bullets used.

The outside of the leg showed an ordinary bullet wound, while the inside wound could not be covered with the outstretched hand. Whilst in the operating theatre he saw poor Bayles operated upon.

His worst fight was yet to come, for lockjaw set in, and held him for the best part of a month. At this time, he remarked, he owed his life to a fellow prisoner – Bradwell (?) – who attended to him night and morning, feeding him by means of a tube.

That acts of cruelly-unkindness were present, he would not deny, but on the whole he was treated kindly, a German Adjutant who took a fancy to him, possibly being responsible for this.

One incident he described as giving him some fears. He had a habit of whistling under his breath – his music would find expression somehow - and whilst indulging, a Doctor came into the room, and hearing him, took two or three angry strides and with a towel, wiped his "ration slate" clean. As he said, he did not worry over it, for they lived, on one another, and his comrades saw to it, that he was not without food that day.

He remarked, of this period in hospital, that he had been treated to an anaesthetic more times than he could count.

The arrangements for leaving the hospital, were evidently not particularly of the best, for those to be exchanged were taken to the station, and no train being available, were laid on the open platform for some hours in a pouring rain, eventually being placed in fourth class compartments in which they travelled for some three hundred miles.

At Aix la Chappelle they received a good meal, and it was evident that the nearer they approached a neutral country, the better treatment they received. The journey across Holland was all that could be desired, and the passage across the water was 'like travelling on a millpond.'

On approaching Tilbury Docks, every siren on that part of the river was blown, and everyone went wild. The 25th of August saw him admitted into Wandsworth Hospital. He was in a very filthy condition and had a beard three inches long.

Here to his great joy, he was able to receive his first communion since leaving England, being wheeled into the Chapel in a bath-chair, by his fellow patients.

It was found necessary for him to undergo another operation, sufficient bone not having been taken away in the first one. Septic poisoning now took hold, and they began successfully to counteract it. Too late they found out that an artery had burst, and it was this that took away his chances of life.

He did not wish to undergo another operation, for he said that he had suffered more pain in this short time than ever he had done in Germany. Yet he placed himself entirely in the hands of the Doctors and Nurses. Every possible kindness was shown him and though the Hospital contained some eleven hundred Patients; four or five Doctors could find time to visit him each evening.

His parents were sent for and their presence greatly consoled him, the Hospital Authorities insisting that they should stay on the premises. His mother, sister and fiancée were with him for over a week. Unconscious for some time towards the end, he passed away, on the 23rd of September.”

Extract from a letter, (unattributed), sent to the Principal of Bede College, and published in The Bede magazine, v.12 no.1, December 1915 (p.3-4).

This letter is followed with remarks by W[illiam] B[ulmer], a former fellow Bede man (1910-1912) and an older Ripon friend of Arnett:

I have omitted no detail that I know of, and in this I hope I have not done wrong. If it appears a mere heartless account of his troubles during the last few months, you must not misjudge me, for you knew him, and you will understand me when I say he was the only brother I ever had.

As boys of nine we met and became choristers together at the Cathedral, leaving within a month of each other. Leaving is not a happy choice of word, for the 'Minster' became part and parcel of our lives. It is the Rock on which is built a friendship that I am convinced not even Death itself has severed. "We walked in the House of God as Friends." Sir, I have never fully realised the meaning of that sentence till lately, for it was there, where we had spent our boyhood's days, by – I was going to say the merest possible coincidence, but that cannot be true, - by the Unseen Guidance, that we met, and said our last 'Goodbye' when each was thinking that a hundred miles lay between us.

Forgive me, Sir, if I have already said too much, but I must say more.

We talked a lot of Bede Spirit in past days, and we still talk of it. It never was an imaginary thing, for it shows itself in the small things as in the great things of life. I am coming back to Arnett, Sir. He was never was a fighter in the ordinary sense of the word. I have never known him lift his hand to another, even in schoolboy days. Yet to his father, who, on the eve of his departure, remarked that somehow he had altered, he said, "Yes father, but you cannot see any fear in my eyes". A fellow patient in Wandsworth, who had been with him through all, said of him. "It is impossible to imagine even, what that lad has been through, yet not a soul has ever heard a murmur from him." To his sister, the day before he died, a patient remarked. "Don't worry over Billy, he'll never die, for he has got the heart of a lion." That is 'showing spirit' indeed, Sir, but even then it would fall short of 'Bede Spirit' did it not include some consideration of others. The loss of his limb troubled him greatly, not on his own account, he never worried over that, but because of his fiancée. He was to have been married on his return. His first letter after the operation, was to release the young lady from any promise.

His letters home were bright and cheery, not a word of the horrors he had gone through. At home they knew nothing of pneumonia, and lockjaw, till he arrived in England, and even then he kept back anything that would distress them.

Practically his last words were to his fiancée, who had been sitting with him. 'You look tired go and get something.' This when he was almost past talking.

'Bede Spirit' – and this is one case among the hundreds that have gone from 'Bede.'

He was interred at Ripon Cemetery with full Military Honours – gun carriage, escort, band, and firing party, after a Choral Service at the Cathedral.

Unfortunately, the Durhams had left Ripon for Salisbury on the Wednesday previous. Had they known in time, they would have made the journey from Salisbury to supply the escort (some thirty Bede men are with that Battalion). As it was they held a ceremony in camp at the time appointed for the funeral ceremony at Ripon, and Played the Funeral March, sounded the 'Last Post' and fired the final Volley.

And now no more, for I may have said too much.

W[illiam] B[ulmer], Bede College 1910-1912

The Bede magazine, v.12 no.1, December 1915 (p.4)

William Arnett is commemorated on Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour. His sacrifice is also remembered on war memorials at Ferryhill and at Ripon Spa Gardens and Cathedral, and his name was published in National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920) and in a Souvenir Programme welcoming home teachers from the Spennymoor and District Teachers’ Association at Spennymoor Town Hall on 8 May 1919.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

25 September 1915

Image of Corporal Henry Tait (Ref: E/HB2/927/18)

Corporal Henry Tait (Ref: E/HB2/927/18)

Corporal Henry Tait

‘Harry’ Tait was born 16 October 1892 at Ashington, Northumberland, the son of Mary Ann and William Tate, a colliery engine fitter. He attended Bede College 1912-1914, where he played in the 1912/13 rugby team, from which this photo is taken. Having obtained his schoolmaster certificate at the college, he went on to teach at King Edward VI School, Morpeth. Upon war breaking out he joined the 8th Battalion D.L.I. at Durham, serving as Corporal 1977. With his battalion he shipped out to France on 19 April 1915, and fought with them until his death, at the age of 23, in September. This is briefly recorded in the 8 D.L.I. War Diary as follows:

“25th September Saturday:

Bn. in billets, at about 6 a.m. a German shell fell in our Quartermasters Stores killing Cpl Tate and wounding 2nd Lt Fisher. …”

War Diary, 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (TNA WO 95/2841/1 )

This report was relayed to his Bede friends in the December issue of The Bede magazine. He is buried in Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentières, France. At the time of his death his father was recorded as living at 3 Sixth Row, Ashington in Northumberland. Henry Tait’s name is found on Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour. In addition he is commemorated on several memorials throughout Northumberland: on an abstract sculpture and on a statue outside the library in Ashington; on a plaque inside the Holy Sepulchre church in the same village; in the King Edward VI School, Morpeth, Roll of Honour and cross; on a plaque inside Ashington Cricket Club; and possibly also on a plaque at Bothal School, perhaps indicating where he was educated before attending at Bede College. His name is also listed in National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919, published in 1920.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

26 September 1915

Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Second Lieutenant Francis Edgar Burkett

Francis Edgar Burkett was the third son of William and Rebecca, born 20 July 1889 in Bishopwearmouth. His father was a poor rate collector. The family had moved to Middlesbrough by 1901 and back to Sunderland by 1911. Francis was then working as an insurance agent and still living at home but, perhaps seeking to better himself, he matriculated at the university’s St John’s Hall in Durham in Michaelmas term 1912. He passed his first year Arts exams in Michaelmas term 1913. He was quite a sportsman within St John’s, being captain of the hockey club and secretary of the football club in Epiphany term 1914 and then captain of the cricket and athletics clubs in the following term. Already a member of the Officers’ Training Corps, he seems to have volunteered on the outbreak of war, without completing his degree. He was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant into the 14th (Service) Battalion, Durham Light Infantry on 23 October 1914. The Battalion had been formed in September in Newcastle as part of the third wave of Kitchener division known as K3. It was in 64th Brigade of 21st Division, which trained at Aylesbury, Halton Park in Lancashire and then High Wycombe in November. In April 1915 it returned to Halton Park. The entire division suffered from a shortage of accommodation and equipment and had not completed its musketry courses until July 1915 such was the pressure on resources.

Despite this 21st Division went overseas in September and Francis arrived in France with his battalion on 11 September 1915. 21st and 24th Divisions had been designated as reserves for the British Army’s offensive on the Lens coalfield, known as the Battle of Loos. This opened on 25 September and achieved some initial success but Field Marshall French committed the crucial mistake of having his reserves too far back and ordering them into the battle too late to be of use. 14th Battalion were at Nœux-les-Mines on the evening of 25 September, some hours from the battlefield and were already tired and hungry. The circumstances have been a controversial matter ever since and the result was a disaster. The Durhams began their march at 19:15 that evening in heavy rain on heavily congested roads. At 21:00 there was a halt whilst they were issued with tools, grenades and ammunition to add to their already heavy loads. They reached the old British front line at about 01:00 in pitch darkness and after crossing the German line they found some shelter in a deserted German gun position. Orders reached them at 07:00 for an attack by the division on the village of Annay, some 2 miles behind the German line. An attack on the heavily fortified Hill 70 was necessary before the main assault went ahead. This failed and the Germans launched a counter-attack. 14th DLI were ordered up to reinforce the right flank of 63rd Brigade. By 22.30 they were advancing towards Chalkpit Wood under heavy machine gun and shell fire, an ordeal made worse by British troops also firing on them, mistaking the great-coated Durhams for Germans. Temporarily disrupted by retreating men they rallied and continued their advance, meeting further machine gun fire from Bois Hugo on their right flank. This wounded the commanding officer and all four company commanders and 14th DLI retreated back to the British lines. They recorded losing 2 officers killed, one of whom was Francis Burkett, while 14 others were wounded. Eight other ranks were killed and 263 wounded. Francis’ body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. A short obituary was published in the Durham University Journal in December 1915.

Research contributor: Linda Thompson.

1 October 1915

Image of RAMC cap badge.

Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Sergeant Henry Butcher

Henry Butcher was born 5 July 1890 at Twickenham, Middlesex, the second of three sons of William, architect and surveyor, and Alice Butcher. He was educated at St Dunstan's College, Catford, and then worked as a clerk first in the audit department of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway, and subsequently in the London City and Westminster Bank Ltd. He continued his education at St Augustine’s College in Canterbury from 1911 which mainly trained missionaries, and where Henry also served as a linesman and scorer for the College’s Football and Cricket teams, respectively. He became an Unattached (non-resident) member of Durham University in Easter term 1914 in order to gain a university qualification whilst still attending St Augustine’s College. He passed his first year exams in Theology that term, and would have been intending to go on to gain a Licence in Theology. Sometime after the outbreak of war he enlisted in the 36th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. This became the Field Ambulance in 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. This unit was formed in August 1914 as one of the first six Kitchener divisions known as K1 Army Group. The RAMC and Engineers trained initially at Hounslow. The 12th Division went overseas between 29 May and 1 June 1915. Harry Butcher arrived in France on 30 May, presumably with the rest of his unit. The division initially went into the line in the Ploegsteert area in Flanders but was relieved on 26 September and went into the line near Hulluch on the Loos battlefield on the evening of 30 September/1 October. The operation was carried out under heavy artillery fire and 36th Field Ambulance’s Dressing Station or Field Hospital was heavily damaged by shellfire on 1 October killing him, another RAMC soldier, and two ambulance drivers. A friend from St Augustine’s College, Bruce Beale, wrote at the time, “... life is counted of small value the poor fellows fall by hundreds daily ...”. Butcher’s home address was then 44 Tweedy Road, Bromley, Kent. He is buried in Vermelles British cemetery in France. A Dressing Station was located at the Château de Vermelles at this time, and it is likely that he was buried near where he fell.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

4 November 1915

Image of Lieutenant P. A. Brown (DUJ, March 1916)

Lieutenant P. A. Brown (DUJ, March 1916)

Lieutenant Philip Anthony Brown

Philip Anthony Brown was born on 27 January 1886 in Beckenham in Kent to Anthony, a wholesale stationer, and Jane Chalmers Brown. He was educated in Beckenham at the Abbey School before moving on to Malvern College. He gained an Open Scholarship in History to New College Oxford, matriculating there in Michaelmas 1905. He failed Moderations in 1906, but went on to gain a 3rd in Classics in Trinity term 1908 and a 1st in History in Trinity term 1909. He was made M.A. in 1912. He was in fact an Economic Historian who began his career in the north east in 1911 tutoring classes set up by Durham University for the Workers’ Educational Association. In 1912 he was appointed as a lecturer in Economics in Durham based at Hatfield Hall whilst also holding down a similar post at the London School of Economics. A popular lecturer of “unfailing cheerfulness and courtesy” according to one obituarist and with “the spirit of an apostle” according to another for being able hold to hold down two such jobs, by August 1914 he had already published an edition of English Economic History documents, and was working on a study of the French Revolution in English History, and which was published by friends in 1918.

He initially enlisted as a private in the 6th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry with some college friends, before being commissioned into the 13th Durham Light Infantry on 13 October 1914. He was promoted lieutenant and made assistant adjutant on 3 February 1915. He arrived in France on 25 August 1915 and went up to the front with his battalion, which included a number of his WEA tutees, on 13 October at Armentières. Brown’s last letter home gives some idea of what life was like in the trenches, though he may not have been providing all the details:

“We have gone back to the trenches - and to such trenches. I don't think any words can adequately describe them. It has been raining... There is not a patch of dry ground anywhere. Boards soaked in mud, sandbags bursting with mud, ponds and even wells of mud ... yellow mud, greasy ponds, dirty clothes and heaps of mangled sandbags. A great deal of the trench work is collapsing in the wet … and it keeps us busy reconstructing it. We had a certain amount of shellfire, but very little rifle fire yet. A mild enemy in front of us, I think. Now I must stop, as I am on duty and should go the rounds.”

Excerpt from the last letter written by Lieutenant Brown to his mother, 3 November 1915.

The following night those rounds involved trying to visit a wiring party in No Man’s Land with his observer Private Thomas Kenny, a former WEA student himself. Lost in the fog, they wandered too close to the German lines and Brown was shot through both legs. Kenny’s efforts in carrying Brown back to their own trenches, through the mud and under extensive fire, earned him the DLI’s first VC in the war, and Captain White earned an MC in the action. Kenny's citation records:

“Private Kenny, although heavily and repeatedly fired upon, crawled about for more than an hour with his wounded officer on his back, trying to find his way through the fog to our trenches. He refused more than once to go on alone, although told by Lieutenant Brown to do so. At last, when utterly exhausted, he came to a ditch which he recognised, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and went to look for help. He found an officer and a few men of his battalion at a listening post, and after guiding them back, with their assistance Lieutenant Brown was brought in, although the Germans again opened heavy fire with rifles and machine-guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards distance. Private Kenny's pluck, endurance and devotion to duty were beyond praise.”

Supplement to London Gazette, 7 December 1915.

Unfortunately, Brown died shortly afterwards en route to the dressing station. He is buried in the Ration Farm Military Cemetery at La Chapelle-d'Armentières and commemorated on memorials in Hatfield College chapel and at the London School of Economics. An obituary was published in the Durham University Journal in December 1915. Brown also had a brother Theodore in the Buffs who was killed in 1917.

Additional sources: Letters from Philip Anthony Brown to his mother, August 26th to November 3rd 1915. (British Expeditionary Force, France.) [1916?]; WEA website and 'The WEA in the First World War in the North East' blog; IWM forum; private research notes of Lena Rodgers.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Lena Rodgers, Pauline Walden.

26 April x 27 November 1915

Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Acting Corporal John Patterson

John Patterson was born in 1886 at Bedlington, Northumberland, the son of James and Elizabeth Patterson. He attended Bede College 1906-1908. After leaving college he was employed as the first assistant schoolmaster at Bedlington Council School, living at 1 Hollymount with his family. He enlisted in the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry at Durham and served as Lance Corporal then Acting Corporal. Upon arrival on the continent 8 DLI were almost immediately thrown into action and suffered very heavy losses in the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, part of the Second Battle of Ypres. Patterson was probably killed at some stage during the engagement, or during the retreat from the untenable trenches forward of Boetleer Farm. There is still some confusion over his burial and date of death. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission publishes a Grave Registration Report that records he fell on 27 November, (when 8 DLI was in fact resting), and that he was buried at Passchendale in Wallemolen German Cemetery. As this cemetery was destroyed in subsequent fighting Patterson is today commemorated on a special memorial in Perth Cemetery (China Wall), east of Ieper, Belgium. Against this account, The Bede magazine notes Patterson as missing in its June 1915 issue, and as having been killed in its December 1915 issue, and the grant of probate to his mother in March 1916 records his death to have occurred between 26 April and 27 November. Other Bede men reported missing after the 25/26 April first engagement had their deaths confirmed a month later: why Patterson’s death should not have been confirmed for a further five months is a mystery. Patterson’s name is recorded on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour. He is also remembered in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920). At Bedlington he is commemorated on plaques erected by the Mechanics’ Institute and the Social Club, and on the war memorial cross, and on panels in St Cuthbert Church’s Chapel of Remembrance. A plaque was also erected in 1921 at Bedlington Council Schools, accompanied by a photo of Patterson.

Researchers: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

24 January 1916

Image of Lt. James H.C. Herald (Ref: MIA 1/299)

Lt. James H.C. Herald (Ref: MIA 1/299)

Lieutenant James H.C. Herald

James Herbert Crosland Herald was the son of Rev. W. D. Herald and his wife Florence, and was born about 1895 at the Manse, Duns, in Berwickshire. He matriculated at University College as an Arts (in litteris antiquis) student in Michaelmas term 1913, passing his first year exams at Easter 1914. Had his studies been uninterrupted it was his intention to follow his father and take Holy Orders, and so he probably would have remained at Durham to gain a Licentiate in Theology after his first degree. He was a considerable sportsman, playing cricket and football for his college. He also rowed, winning the Senate Cup in March 1914, and competed in June in the university’s 1st IV in the then annual boat race with Edinburgh on the Wear, a race won that year by the Edinburgh boat. He also joined the O.T.C., and was in the shooting team in June 1914. Herald joined up in the Michaelmas term of 1914, and was commissioned into the 2/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on 5 December 1914. He was promoted (temporary) lieutenant on 3 June 1915, and must then have transferred to the 1/8th battalion as he is recorded as joining the battalion at Armentières on 29 September 1915, just before the battalion went into the line in the Houplines sector. By January the battalion was occupying the Sanctuary Wood sector of the Ypres Salient, and Herald was acting as Intelligence Officer. This area was a waterlogged hell-hole reeking of unburied bodies, where sleep was impossible and the mud made any movement quickly exhausting. The only breaks in the monotony, described in the battalion history by Major Veitch, were the rat hunts conducted in intervals between shelling by one of James’ brother officers, Second Lieutenant A. M. Jones, and his fox terrier. The same history relates that on 23 January 1916 James was wounded by a sniper who enfiladed his position from the left. He died of his wounds at a dressing station at Vlamertinghe on that or the following day, the sources disagree. He was 21 years old and is buried at Vlamertinghe, probably near the site of the dressing station where he died. His family were then living at 3 Beresford Gardens, Trinity, in Edinburgh, and he left a widowed mother, a sister Agnes, and three brothers, Arthur, Sydney, and Vere, two of whom were serving as Gunners in 1916.

Research contributor: Joyce Malcolm.

2 March 1916

Image of the cap badge of the DLI.

Sergeant William Henry Stockdale

William Henry Stockdale was born in Keswick, Cumberland on 10 December 1889, the son of William and Annie. He went to school there, and on completing his secondary education he attended Bede College 1908-1910. William was a college prefect and Captain of Rugby in his final year. He completed his certificate in 1910, with merit. During his time at the college, like most of his fellow students, he volunteered in the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Territorial Force). He began teaching at Blaydon Council School, Newcastle upon Tyne, and was married to Miss Edith Pritchard of Heaton in May 1915. He returned to Durham in 1915 to join his old college unit and enlisted into the C Company, 8 D.L.I.

The battalion fought in the Ypres Salient, and on 2 March 1916 whilst occupying a support trench at Hill 60, just south of Sanctuary Wood near Zillebeke, two miles south-west of Ypres, C Company was heavily shelled. William’s trench was hit and many men were killed or wounded. William himself was mortally wounded and this account by a comrade is contained in a memorial to him in The Bede magazine:

“You will see by the papers that there has been some fighting in our district again. Our battalion was in the adjoining trenches, and we suffered more than the troops officially engaged; because the Huns thought we were going to attack and therefore shelled us unmercifully. Our casualty list I am sorry to say was pretty large. Poor Will Stockdale was one of the men killed. He was with his men in his part of the trench when a shell came and wiped out about six or seven of them. He was not killed outright, and his first thoughts were for his men, and he ordered that they should be attended to first. He passed away quite peacefully. He was a credit to his Battalion, and to his old College; he was beloved by one and all”

The Bede magazine, March 1916, p.27

A similar account appears in the Roll of Honour within Keswick at War which names the sender of the letter as Sergeant G. S. Jackson. This account further states, “[h]is loss will be keenly felt, his adjutant had strongly recommended him to apply for a commission, but alas it was not meant to be.” William is buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm), a cemetery near Poperinghe.

William Stockdale is remembered on the war memorials at Keswick, Blaydon, and Durham County Hall, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. His name is also recorded on two plaques (1, 2 and image) in Heaton Baptist Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920).

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the badge of the Gordon Highlanders

Badge of the Gordon Highlanders

2 April 1916

Second Lieutenant Humphrey Stanley Reece

Humphrey Stanley Reece was born in Barbados on 16 February 1892, the son of William and Helen Maude Reece. He matriculated as a member of the university’s affiliated Codrington College in Barbados, on 20 October 1913 as an Arts student. Not long after the start of the war, he left his course and travelled to London on the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company’s “Orotava”, arriving on 9 November 1914. He served initially as an Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Navy before being commissioned into the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders where he served in B Company. He won the Military Cross in March 1916. The citation recorded it as being: “For conspicuous gallantry during operations when leading the attack. When his company commander was killed he took charge and drove off an enemy counter attack. He came back over the open frequently to report to battalion headquarters.” He died of wounds not long afterwards, on 2 April 1916 (reported in the battalion’s war diary as 1 April 1916). The battalion had relieved the 10th Royal Welsh Fusiliers in trenches at Sint Elooi (St Eloi) south of Ypres on 1 April, and endured repeated bombing attacks and shelling. Reece is buried in La Clytte Military Cemetery in Belgium. He is commemorated on the Codrington College war memorial.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

25 April 1916

Image of the cap badge of the Royal Fusiliers

The Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private John Cocker

John Cocker was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, 1 September 1888, the son of William Pickup and Catherine Cocker. His father had also been a grocer, but in 1888 and 1901 was working in the local cotton mill as a tape sizer, where John had already joined him, as a cloth folder, by the age of 13. Although his three siblings also went to work in the cotton mill, John clearly exhibited some academic aptitude and was probably involved in his local church as he managed to escape the mill and matriculated as a Theology student at St John’s Hall in Durham in Easter term 1911. He passed his first year Theology exams in Michaelmas 1911 and his finals at in Michaelmas term 1912, and graduated with a Licence in Theology on 17 December 1912. He was ordained in Manchester diocese as a deacon in 1912 and priest in 1913, and became curate at Stowell Memorial Church in Salford, 1912-1914, and then of St George’s, Hulme, 1914-1915. He joined up as a private in 24th Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsman’s), and was killed in action in France on 25 April 1916. The battalion had been relieved from their trenches in front of Bully-Grenay (Bully-les-Mines), northwest of Lens, the previous day, and took up billets just behind the front line there. On 25 April some carrying parties from the battalion were tasked to support their relief, 2nd Highland Light Infantry, and Cocker was probably killed during this activity: two other privates from B Company were wounded the same day, T.H. Field and J. Vowles. Cocker is buried in Tranchee de Mecknes cemetery, Aix-Narlette in France, 2 km southwest of Bully-les-Mines, and is commemorated on the memorial plaque in the chapel of St John’s College.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Liz Straughan

28 April 1916

Image of Chaplain George A. Greig (Ref: DUJ 20, no.7)

Chaplain G.A. Greig (Ref: DUJ 20, no.7)

Chaplain George Anthony Greig

George Anthony Greig was born on 29 March 1888, the sixth son of Hunter Hepburn and Phoebe Jane Greig, in Perth, Scotland. He was educated first at The Academy, Perth, and then at Denstone College in Staffordshire (1902-1906) where he excelled at football and cricket, being awarded his colours in both, and was also a more than useful golfer. From there, he went on to Theological College at Coates Hall in Edinburgh in 1907. To gain a qualification, he matriculated as an Unattached member of Durham University in Epiphany Term 1909; that is, he would still have studied at Edinburgh but would have come to Durham to take his exams. This he duly did, passing his first year Theology exams in the following term. A year later, in Easter term 1910, he passed his Licence in Theology finals and took his L.Th. on 21 June 1910. He then came into residence at the university as a member of St Chad’s Hall, embarking on a BA degree, from the first part of which his L.Th. exempted him. He took his finals in the Easter term of 1911 and passed Part I but failed Part II. Having now gone out of residence, he resat and passed Part II in the following Michaelmas term and took his BA degree (in litteris antiquis) on 12 December 1911. He had also continued his sporting prowess from school, playing in the St Chad’s cricket team that won the Grey Cup for the first time in 1911, and also playing a number of times for the university. Against University College on 2 June 1911, he scored 58 and took a hat-trick in a 5 wicket haul for St Chad’s in a 124 run win. He also won his colours in the Durham Colleges tennis team in 1911 and rowed in the St Chad’s first boat in the Senate Cup in March 1911, as well as in the Trial Fours in Michaelmas 1910. Away from sport, he spoke several times in the St Chad’s Hall Debating Society.

After Durham, he was now committed to a career in the Church. Returning to Scotland, he became curate of Christ Church in Glasgow, 1911-1915, and was ordained, first as deacon by the bishop of St Andrews in the same year, and as priest by the bishop of Glasgow in 1912, living by 1914 at 14 Armfield Place, Dennistoun, in Glasgow.

It was indeed as an Acting-Chaplain that he was seconded to the Royal Navy, being appointed to the Navy List on 15 February 1915. On 23 February he was appointed as chaplain at H.M.S. Indus, the training establishment and workshop for supernumerary artificers and boy artificers at Devonport. He then went to sea in H.M.S. Russell, a pre-Dreadnought battleship built by Palmers of Jarrow which had been in service since 1903. She was part of the 2nd detached Squadron based at Taranto to reinforce the Italian fleet in the Adriatic. She also covered the evacuation from Gallipoli and was the admiral’s flagship. On 27 April 1916, she was on her way to Valetta in Malta to repair some minor defects, when, 7 miles out from the harbour, she struck a mine laid the previous night by U-73 and sank. Greig, and the captain, Bowden-Smith, were among those rescued by a trawler and were able to walk ashore. Not so fortunate was Lord Nelson’s telescope which the admiral, Sir Sydney Robert, had taken on board with him for safe-keeping but which went down with the ship. Greig immediately began visiting the rescued men and the wounded in hospital. However, he himself had been badly affected by the gas of the explosion, became violently sick, and died the following day in the Royal Naval Hospital on 28 April 1916. Two letters, one from Captain Bowden-Smith and the other from a fellow chaplain, were printed in the Durham University Journal in June 1916, and recount the events of the day and Greig’s death. He is buried on Malta in the Capuccini Naval Cemetery and, in addition to his grave, is commemorated on a memorial in the cemetery.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Barton, Nick Barton, D. T. Youngson

29 April 1916

Image of Life Guards cap badge

Life Guards cap badge

Second Lieutenant Frederick William Collins

Frederick William Collins was born on 10 September 1884 at Yatala in Australia, the elder son of Frederick Collins and his wife Catherine (née Kelly), of Delamere, Rapid Bay. Until he was 25 years old he worked on his father's farm at Delamere, and for a time in New South Wales. At the end of 1909 he took up land in south east Australia, but then relinquished it to prepare himself for Holy Orders in the Church of England. He spent 1910 to 1912 studying for and passing the senior public examination at Kapunda, where the parishioners of Christ Church remembered with gratitude his unselfish labours as lay reader and superintendent of the Sunday school. So successful had he been at Kapunda that he was advised, with the consent of the bishop of Adelaide, to go for training for Holy Orders to St Augustine's College in Canterbury. This he did at the beginning of 1912; he finished his studies at the end of 1914. The warden of the college. Bishop Knight, urged Collins to proceed to Durham to obtain his degree. “Collins !” the Warden was reported to have said. “He is one of the manliest men I have had here. He is a credit to Australia. Send us as many Australians of this type as you can.” He matriculated as an Unattached student in St Cuthbert’s Society in the Easter term of 1914, but would probably have remained at Canterbury, coming to Durham only to take and pass his first year exams for the Licentiate of Theology in Durham in the same term. However, he left before finishing his L.Th. and was commissioned second lieutenant in the 8th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, the reserve for the 16th and 17th Lancers, Collins’ appointment eased perhaps by his having served as Quartermaster Sergeant for many years in the Yankalilla Troop of the Australian Light Horse. He was sent to the Curragh camp, near Dublin, to train recruits for the mounted services. Anxious to get to the front, he transferred at the end of 1915 to the 1st Life Guards. His wish was gratified; he was sent to the front 'somewhere in France' on 24 January 1916. He died of wounds three months later on 29 April 1916. Accounts differ as to the circumstances of his death, the Adelaide Advertiser recorded his wounds were received in action, while the university’s 1920 roll of honour refers to a bomb accident. He is buried at St Omer in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. He is also commemorated on the Commemorative Roll at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Research contributors: Fay Fradgley, Joyce Malcolm.

7 May 1916

Image of Captain H.C.B. Cummins

Captain H.C.B. Cummins

Captain Herbert Charles Bruce Cummins

Herbert Charles Bruce Cummins was born in Hedenham, Norfolk, in 1876. He was the third son of Rev. William Henry, then vicar of Hardley, and Jane Douglas Cummins. Other siblings included Ethel, Aubrey, Henry and Norman. Herbert went to Tonbridge School and was in the cricket XI there in 1894 and 1895. He matriculated at Durham as a member of University College in Michaelmas term 1898, having won, after an examination, one of the university’s Foundation Scholarships, worth £70 annually over two years, and which required him to read for Honours. This he duly did, passing his 1st year Honours Arts exams with a Class II in Michaelmas 1899. He then passed the Theological portion of the BA in June 1900, and went out of residence for the following Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. He returned for the Easter 1901 term and passed his Classical and General Literature finals in the First Class. He took his BA degree on 25 June 1901, and went on to take his MA degree after the requisite 3 years on 21 June 1904.

Cummins was not merely academically gifted. He was quick to prove his sporting prowess as well, trialling as a forward, and scoring, for the Durham Colleges football team, and playing rugby for both his college and university sides in his first term. In the next term, he concentrated on playing rugby, again representing both his college and the university. He was particularly lauded for his forward efforts in a match against Percy Park, and was awarded his palatinate colours and made vice-captain of the university side and captain of his college side for the following season. He also played fives for and captained his college in the annual match against Hatfield, and turned out for the Durham Colleges football team. In the following term, Easter 1899, he soon made his mark as an all-rounder with the university cricket XI. He was a useful right-hand batsman but was a particularly good right-arm fast bowler, topping the bowling statistics with 38 wickets taken. He was also not above winning the shot putt at the Athletics Sports on 3 June 1899; he came third and second in this in the next two years. For the 1899-1900 season, he was a stalwart of the university’s rugby team, having his Palatinate colours renewed and being appointed captain for the following season. He also turned out on occasion for the Durham Colleges football team, and continued to play fives for his college. In Easter term 1900, he was now vice-captain, and even captain by the end of term, of the university cricket XI. He again headed the bowling statistics, taking over twice the wickets (25) of the next man, and he also had the highest batting score of 104. In addition, he took a hat-trick in an 8 wicket haul playing for his college against Hatfield, when he top scored with the bat as well. Having missed the 1900-01 university rugby season, being out of residence, he returned to play cricket again for the university in Easter term 1901. He was not now quite such an ever-present as he had finals to concentrate on. He still took 29 wickets and scored 217 runs without reaching quite the heights of the previous season.

After Durham, Cummins was a Classics and Upper School master at the Edinburgh Academy from 1908 until the war, living at 6 Melville Street in Edinburgh in 1911. As one would expect, his sporting activities continued as well. He played Minor Counties cricket for first Staffordshire (1898-1901), and later Dorset (1908-1913), heading Dorset’s bowling figures for 1908, 1909 and 1913: his career is recorded in both the Cricket Archive and in Wisden on the Great War. Whilst in Edinburgh, he played regularly for the renowned Grange Cricket Club from 1909, and was also a member of the Murrayfield Golf Club. He also played rugby for Hampshire!

In August 1914 he was serving as a Second Lieutenant on the unattached list of the Territorial Force in the Edinburgh Academy Officers Training Corps, and was subsequently gazetted Second Lieutenant on 13 August 1914. He joined the 9th (Pioneer) Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, and by February 1915 was an Acting Captain. He arrived in France with his battalion on 10 May 1915. Having already been wounded in 1916, and with the confirmed rank of captain, he eventually died of wounds received in action on 7 May 1916, aged 39: a short obituary was published in the Durham University Journal in June. His home address was then Fota, Foxhole Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth. He is buried at Nieppe Communal Cemetery in France, and is commemorated on war memorials in the Grange Cricket Club in Edinburgh, at Tonbridge School, and at St Katharine’s Church in Southbourne in Bournemouth, and on a plaque at St John the Baptist church in Burley in Hampshire.

Research contributor: Caroline Craggs.

23 June 1916

Image of 10th Canadian Infantry cap badge

10th Canadian Infantry cap badge

Sergeant Joshua Graham

Joshua Graham was born on 31 July 1890 at Guide Post near Choppington in Northumberland. He was the youngest son of James, a coalminer, and Mary, née Flockhart. His brothers Henry and James became miners also, but Graham attended King Edward VI Grammar School at Morpeth from 1904 to 1908, probably after passing the scholarship examination.

He attended Bede College to train to become a schoolmaster from 1908 to 1910, and qualified in the 1st class with a Class 1 pass in Divinity and marks of merit in Science. Members of the College customarily volunteered in a Bede Company of the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and Graham was no exception. Something of the spirit of the times and the attitude of the company members can be found in the following passage from the “Junior Jottings” column in The Bede magazine.

“All Juniors assembled in the Junior room to try to find suits of Khaki Uniform to fit each man. It does not seem that all succeeded because at the first parade one man stuffed his chest with a pillow.”

The Bede magazine, June 1909

The column also describes a route march to Farewell Hall and back through Durham, with appreciative comments from passers-by in North Road, and of a training camp at Ripon the previous summer.

By 1911 Graham was lodging with the Burliston family at 3 Rosslyn Terrace, Sunderland and working as a teacher in a Sunderland Borough Council Elementary School. Inspired perhaps by Arthur Wilbraham, who was his contemporary at Bede College and was quoted on the joys of a Canadian winter in the December 1911 issue of The Bede magazine, Graham sailed as a passenger in steerage on the RMS “Hesperian” from Glasgow to Québec/Montreal on 7 June 1913, again listed as a schoolmaster, and declaring an intention to settle at Regina, Saskatchewan. Soon after war broke out, in October 1914 he volunteered and enlisted in the 10th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. 10th Battalion were formed from militiamen of the 103rd and 106th Battalions of the Canadian Militia from Alberta. He is described on his attestation form as 5ft. 10in. tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark hair. Graham is recorded as being a Lance Corporal, an appointment presumably achieved on the basis of his service in 8th DLI and despite being in a battalion whose members would also have had some military experience.

10th Battalion trained at Valcartier Camp near Quebec. Graham was attested and medically examined aboard SS “Scandinavian” which was the ship on which the battalion went overseas with the first Canadian contingent to England. They sailed on 3rd October and landed at Plymouth on 14th October after which they spent four months training on Salisbury Plain in appallingly wet conditions, as reported in Bede of December 1914 – a good preparation for the Flanders mud.

Joshua Graham was promoted to Sergeant at an unknown date. 10th Battalion was part of the 4th Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division and went to France in a cattle boat, the “Kingstonian”. After running aground the ship docked safely at St Nazaire on 15 Febuary 1915. They first came under fire on 22 February when digging trenches during training at Ploegsteert. In April they moved to the salient south of Poelcapelle and Passchendaele and on 22 April at Gravenstafel Ridge during the Second Battle of Ypres the battalion was among the first to be attacked with chlorine gas. By chance, 8 DLI was engaged in the same battle, and some of Graham’s contemporaries at Bede College may have been fighting close to his unit’s position.

When the Canadian Corps was formed in early September 1915 after the arrival of the 2nd Canadian division the Corps took over the line from Wulverghem to Kemmel and St Eloi. From waterlogged trenches they carried out raids which identified and occupied enemy units and tested their defences as well as breaking the monotony of trench warfare. Christmas 1915 was spent in billets. From March to June 1916 the battalion manned trenches at Hill 60 on the Ypres salient alongside the 8th DLI which was part of the 50th Division. In his spare moments Graham may have taken the chance to catch up with old Bede friends serving just along the line.

It was here, in the Battle of Mont Sorrel that Joshua Graham was mortally wounded.

“It was about 10 a.m. on June 2nd when the German preliminary bombardment of the Canadian position burst with the suddenness of a summer thunderstorm. A terrific drumfire of mixed shrapnel and high explosive swept over Hill 60, Mont Sorrel and Observatory Wood - the right apex of the Salient - isolating the sector absolutely. Warfare had never witnessed such a stupendous concentration of gunfire. Storms of explosives rolled over the Canadian front and support lines with hurricane force and more than a hurricane's destructiveness, wrecking position after position with ghastly thoroughness.
At 1 p.m. the German infantry emerged from their trenches and trotted over the scarred, shell-tossed earth where three hours previously had been well-built trenches manned by the best blood of Canada. They met with no resistance.
The 10th Battalion in the Brigade Reserve when the storm broke was at once ordered up to Mont Sorrel support lines in Armagh Wood, to assist the 7th Battalion, which was about to counter attack. After a hard day's fighting under frightful shell fire the 10th Battalion was pulled out, but were back again in the Hill 60 trenches on June 6th.”

J. A. Holland, The Story of the 10th Canadian Battalion 1914-1917

Sergeant Joshua Graham was wounded on 2/3 June, and was repatriated to England where he died of his wounds on 23 June. He is buried at Choppington St Paul, Northumberland and commemorated on the Morpeth King Edward IV School war memorial and Roll of Honour, the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and the Canadian virtual war memorial.

Additional sources: The Story of the 10th Canadian Battalion 1914-1917; image of the 10th Canadian Infantry Battalion cap badge, by Rlaughton and published at Infantry Battalions Cap Badges 1-25 is reproduced under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler, Alastair Fraser, Joyce Malcolm.

1 July 1916

Image of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Charles Edward Vassie

Charles Edward Vassie was born on 15 May 1895, the son of Henry James and Mary Ann Vassie, of The Standards, Boat House, Dunbar in Scotland. His name appears as a first year Arts student in the Easter term of 1914 at St Chad’s Hostel in Hooton Pagnell, near Doncaster: he benefitted from the Wakeford Bursary, and was also supported financially by H.D. Horsfall. Upon the outbreak of war he quickly enlisted in the Royal Scots Greys, on 31 August 1914. He was posted to 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment but was discharged on 19 October as “not likely to become an efficient soldier” due to his poor eyesight. He was then welcomed back at the hostel, where he gave his fellow students the benefit of his training by overseeing their company drill on the lawn in the afternoons. He went up to Durham in Epiphany term 1915 as a Theology student at St Chad’s Hall, and studied Arts (in litteris antiquis) for the following Easter and Michaelmas terms of 1915. During this time he was Treasurer of the college library, served on the committee of the University Mission to Central Africa, and was Sacristan, keeping the register of services at the college. He then re-joined the army, more successfully this time, being commissioned as Second Lieutenant (on probation) into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on 8 January 1916. He was posted to the 9th battalion and arrived in France on 16 June, just before the great Battle of the Somme. The battalion had already suffered heavy losses at the Battle of Loos in September-October 1915, and over a third of its men would be killed in action or die of wounds in the five-month Battle of the Somme. Lancelot Spicer, then a Captain in the battalion and later a Liberal politician, records a tense incident in his memoirs Letters from France 1915-1918. This took place on the evening of 30 June 1916 when all the officers, presumably including Charles Vassie, were invited to battalion headquarters for a final drink before the assault. The commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel C.W.D. Lynch was not popular and the senior captain, Haswell, refused to drink a toast to him. After a heated discussion with the acting adjutant Haswell stepped forward and proposed a toast to the battalion with the words “Gentlemen – when the barrage lifts”. Of those present 24 officers went over the top the next morning and 12 were killed including Lynch, Haswell and Vassie as the battalion attacked towards Fricourt. Only one officer escaped unscathed and the battalion suffered over 450 dead, wounded and missing. Charles Vassie was twenty-one years old. He is buried in Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, in France, and is commemorated on the parish war memorial in Queen’s Road, Dunbar, and the reredos in St Chad’s College chapel. Vassie’s brother, Alex Marcus Vassie, a sergeant in the Royal Garrison Artillery, 72nd Heavy Battery, also died later in the war, on 21 March 1917, aged thirty-one, and is buried at Basra War Cemetery in Iraq.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Linda Macdonald.
Image of Richard Corker, 1911/12 (Ref: E/HB 2/693)

Richard Corker, 1911/12 (Ref: E/HB 2/693)

Sergeant Richard Robson Corker

Richard Robson Corker was born 14 July 1892 at Beamish, County Durham. He was the oldest of three children born to John Robson Corker, a butcher, and his wife Jane. The other children were George Holt Corker, born in 1894, and Edna May Corker, born in December 1902. In 1901 the family were living at 227 Stanhope Road, South Shields, and by 1911 they had moved to 22 Front Street, Quebec.

Having studied at Stanhope Road School and then the Pupil Teacher Centre at Consett Technical Institute, Corker was admitted to Bede College, where he attended 1910-1912. He lodged at 58 Gilesgate in the city with a couple of other Bede students from his year and a former Bede student, then a teacher in a city school. All these fellow lodgers, John Kitching, Henry Simmons, and Joseph Lowes, served in the Great War - Joseph (who was wounded) as a lieutenant with 12 DLI, John as a lance corporal in 8 DLI, and Henry who was also in 8 DLI and was badly wounded and invalided out in October 1916.

Corker was an active participant in many areas of college life, both during and after his time there. He played hockey, becoming vice-captain in 1911/12, and was secretary of the college rugby and football teams. We know from an obituary that he also played tennis. Music was another pastime: he could sing and play the piano. At the traditional Farewell and Welcoming Common Room concerts in June and October 1911 he sang in a trio (‘O memory’), a duet (‘Drake’s Drum’), and solo (‘The Veteran’s Song’), gave a valedictory speech, and accompanied on the piano the rendition of the national anthem. He was also acted as secretary in 1914 for his year’s reunion dinner in Newcastle. An amusing photograph of the 1912 college Smoke Hole club survives (E/HB 2/743), in which Corker’s nickname is noted as “Com”.

Corker completed his teacher training in July 1912 and was appointed as a certificated teacher at Waterhouses Mixed Council School, where he had trained as a student teacher. He was given permission by the County Education Committee to enlist on 30 September 1914, and he joined 18 DLI (the ‘Durham Pals’).

18 DLI was one of the Kitchener’s Army battalions, raised from the enthusiastic flood of volunteers in the first months of the war, and it was unique in that the expenses of about £10,000 for raising and equipping it were paid for entirely by the County of Durham (the only unit not paid for by the government). The battalion was formed and trained at Cocken Hall, near Fencehouses, County Durham, and at the end of 1914 two companies were sent to form part of the garrison of Hartlepool, where they became the first men of the New Armies to come under fire, but from the German Navy rather than its Army. Cocken Hall and its grounds were excavated by a HLF-funded archaeological group, No Man’s Land, in 2015. Corker served with the battalion during its time in Egypt (December 1915-March 1916), and was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

The battalion was withdrawn from Egypt in March and landed at Marseilles on 11 March 1916. It then moved to Northern France by a series of “long and exhausting” marches. After a period in the front line, the battalion was withdrawn for training, but returned to the front line on 20-24 April and 14-19 May. 18 DLI was one of the units of 31 Division which were involved in the attack on Serre on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. Richard Corker was badly wounded by shell fire. There was a report in The Bede magazine that it was two days before he could be moved back to the advanced dressing post, where he died. However the official records give his date of death as 1 July.

He is buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps. He was reported to have been recommended for a decoration “for steadiness, and reliability under fire, and devotion to duty at all times, both as an able instructor, and as a leader in trenches”, but nothing came of this. During the first four days of the battle 18 DLI lost 12 officers and 440 other ranks out of a total of 789 which had moved up to the front line on 30 June.

A memorial service was held for ‘Dick’ Corker at St John’s Church, Quebec (where he had been a member of the church choir) on 23 July 1916. A lectern in this church was dedicated to Corker to commemorate his sacrifice. The newspaper report of the service notes that he had been a member of the Marquis of Granby Freemasons’ Lodge.

Richard Corker is commemorated on the DLI plaque and Corker Lectern at the Church of St John the Baptist, Quebec, the Durham County Council war memorials, the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919, the Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918, and the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: the text for this short biography is largely based on a longer article by David Butler, published by Durham County Record Office; report of Corker’s memorial service, Durham Advertiser, 28 July 1916, p.3(h).

Additional sources: the text for this short biography is largely based on a longer article by David Butler, published by Durham County Record Office; report of Corker’s memorial service, Durham Advertiser, 28 July 1916, p.3(h).
Research contributors: David Butler, Clarissa Cahill, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Sergeant John Duke (Ref: MIA 16/23)

Sergeant John Duke (Ref: MIA 16/23)

Sergeant John Duke

John Duke was born on 30 August 1892, one of eight children of William and Lucy Duke of New Herrington, Durham. He was enrolled to the Durham Johnston School in September 1906 at the age of 14, having previously attended North Skelton Colliery School, his father being a miner. He became a pupil teacher aged 18, before studying at Bede College from 1911-1913. After completing his teacher training in July 1913 and passing the certificate examination, he became a school teacher at Dubmire County School in Houghton-le-Spring.

Duke enlisted at Durham with the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, and is recorded as a corporal in March 1915. He was with the two companies of 18 DLI sent to Hartlepool in December 1914 and was with them when the town was attacked by German ships on 16 December. The battalion continued to train in the UK at Catterick and Fovant until December 1915. At this time, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and 18 DLI were posted to Egypt, where Duke undertook construction work.

In March 1916, the battalion was sent to France, and served on the Somme. At some point he transferred to 93rd Company, Machine Gun Corps, possibly when they arrived in France in May 1916. They were attached to 93 Brigade in which 18 DLI served.

Duke was aged 24 when he was killed by machine gun fire while advancing across no man’s land at Serre on 1 July 1916, the first day of the First Battle of the Somme. He died alongside many other Bede students, as recorded in The Bede magazine and A Record of the War Service of Bede Men.He was posthumously praised for having demonstrated “soldierly efficiency”. Duke is named on the Thiepval Memorial, which bears the names of 72,000 other men who died in the Somme sector and have no known grave. He is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, on a plaque at Durham Johnson School, on the screen at St Aidan’s Church in West Herrington, on the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919, and on the Durham County Council war memorials.

Additional sources: much information on Duke’s life has been published online by the young people’s theatre company, Theatre Centre, who collaborated with the DLI Museum and Live Theatre in a project called ‘Into the Trenches’ to give school pupils in the North East the opportunity to investigate the history of local men and women living through the First World War. Duke was one of the former pupils of the Durham Johnston School researched as part of the project.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm; Emma Marshall.
Image of A.D.L. Vickers, Bede College Rowing Club 1908/09 (Ref: E/HB 2/679)

A.D.L. Vickers, 1908/09 (Ref: E/HB 2/679)

Lance Corporal Arthur Dodds Lewis Vickers

Arthur Vickers, born 18 July 1888, was brought up at Habmer Nab and Newton Grange Farms, Sadberge, near Darlington, where his descendants still live. He was the fourth son of Robert and Anne Vickers who owned and farmed there (113 acres in 1881). Vickers entered Bede College in 1907: while at the college he was a member of the Rowing Club and crewed against York in the June 1909 Regatta Finals; in common with most of his fellow students, he also spent two years as a volunteer in the College’s A company in 8 DLI. Upon completion of his training and qualification in July 1909, he then joined the staff at Trimdon Grange School as an Assistant Teacher. (A photograph of Vickers with his fellow teachers at the opening of the school in 1913 is published in Trimdon Snippets by Eveline Roberts Johnson.) He enlisted 19 September 1914 at Spennymoor, aged 26, in 18 DLI, a ‘Pals’ Service Battalion, and was quickly promoted to lance corporal. The battalion embarked for Egypt on active service on 6 December 1915, before re-embarking and entering France on 11 March 1916, arriving in time to fight in the Battle of the Somme. The battle started on 1 July 1916. The 18th Battalion was in action on the first day attacking German forces in Serre, suffering heavy losses. They remained in shattered trenches under heavy bombardment until relieved during the night of 4 July. Losses were 14 Officers and 357 men (over half of the battalion’s strength killed and wounded). In the chaos and slaughter of 1 July it is perhaps not surprising that the exact circumstances of Vickers’ death are uncertain. He was reported wounded that day by an officer in his company, and later posted missing. The Bede magazine published the report of a fellow Bede student who saw him having his wound dressed in the trenches, but ultimately the location of his grave was lost. Consequently he is commemorated on war memorials at Thiepval and at St Andrew’s Sadberge, and also at St Alban’s Trimdon Grange (formerly erected in the Miners’ Hall there). He is also remembered on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

3 July 1916

Image of Captain Thomas Murray (Image reproduced with the kind permission of Tim Layton)

Captain Thomas Murray

Captain Thomas Murray

Thomas Murray was born in c. 1885, the only son of John Murray, a quarryman, and Isabella E. Murray, of Church Street, Rothbury in Northumberland. His early life is unknown, but he matriculated as an evidently rather mature Arts student at St Chad’s Hall in Michaelmas term 1910, having attended St Chad’s Hostel at Hooton Pagnell for a year in order to prepare for the Durham Scholarship examination. He passed his first year exams in Easter term 1911, and won the William Jones Bursary to study for the Theological Special B.A. He also received financial help with his fees at this time from H.D. Horsfall.

At the Hostel Murray was captain of the Sports Committee: he captained its football team in the Epiphany term 1910, and won the tennis tournament. He went on to play tennis, rugby and football for St Chad’s Hall, being awarded his colours for each, and vice-captained the Durham Colleges rugby team. He was also treasurer then editor of the college’s magazine The Stag, and treasurer of the Durham Colleges Union Society. He participated in the Debating Society, seconding the motion ‘That the basis of Education should be classical rather than scientific’ on 9 February 1911, making “a plea for the real awakening of the faculties by a proper acquisition and classification of useful knowledge for future use and extension of knowledge”; on 15 November 1911 he proposed and carried the motion ‘The output of the press should be restricted’.

Murray went out of residence after the Michaelmas 1911 term and took no further exams, so ending his ambitions for the clerical career in the Church of England that he had reported to the census enumerator in 1911. Instead he appears to have opted for a teaching career, for he is next traced in 1912 as a Second Form master at Wallasey Grammar School in Merseyside.

He rapidly answered the call on the outbreak of war. He enlisted in September 1914 in the 11th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment which had just been formed in Chester as part of the third wave of Kitchener’s Army. He was almost immediately gazetted as a second lieutenant on 29 September, lieutenant on 15 October, and captain on 30 November 1914. The battalion was part of 75 Brigade, 25th Division. The battalion moved to Codford St Mary and was in billets in Bournmouth in November 1914. It later moved to Aldershot and went to France with 25th Division in September 1915. Murray ultimately became adjutant of the battalion. The battalion served on Vimy Ridge during May 1916 and arrived on the Somme shortly after 1 July. They were involved in 75th Brigade’s attack near Thiepval on 3 July and Murray was reported missing on 4 July 1916, and later confirmed as having been killed in action the previous day. His body was never recovered. A fellow teacher from Wallasey Grammar school, Captain John Lloyd William Howard Abell, who had joined up with Murray in 1914, died the same day serving alongside him in the same battalion.

Thomas Murray had married Dora Clark, a Post Office clerk in Rothbury, in 1911. His name is listed among the bell-ringers at both Rothbury and Liscard. The family home was at 1 Woodfield Road, Tonbridge in Kent at the time of his death. He is commemorated on the memorials at Thiepval on the Somme in France, at St Chad's College, and at Rothbury in the 1914-1918 Book of Remembrance, organ panels in All Saints’ Church, a plaque now located at Thropton War Memorial Hall, and the war memorial in the High Street. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the war memorial at Wallasey Hospital, and also probably in the Liscard Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102. The image of Captain Thomas Murray is reproduced with the kind permission of Tim Layton.
Research contributor: David Barton, Nick Barton, Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm, Linda Taylor.

4 July 1916

Image of Royal Sussex Regiment cap badge

Royal Sussex Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Percy Harold Fisher

Percy Harold Fisher was born in Liverpool to Tom Percy, a master mariner, and Kate Mary Fisher, on 26 March 1893. He attended Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood 1907-1911, and then won a scholarship to St Chad's Hostel near Doncaster. The Hostel's magazine reports he served there as Treasurer of the Common Room, his appointment greeted with some friendly banter, as noted in the minutes of a meeting held on 23 April 1911, "the proposal to place a fresher-to-be in the exalted position of treasurer... met with dead silence and blank amazement... Eventually it was decided to elect whatever there might be behind a large and prominent pair of spectacles which belched forth the name of Fisher". He was soon also appointed by the same committee as the Secretary of Sports, so its clear he quickly won the confidence of his contemporaries. He matriculated as an Arts student at St Chad’s Hall in October 1912, and was active in the Durham Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, again serving as treasurer in Easter 1914.

He passed his BA finals (Theological Special) at Easter 1914, taking his degree on 23 June 1914. He became an Assistant Master at a prep school in St Leonard’s before enlisting as a private in the 1/6th Royal Sussex Regiment (Cyclists). He was commissioned into its 10th battalion, being gazetted on 29 April 1915 as a member of the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps. 10th Royal Sussex did not go overseas and Percy transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He served with 94th Company which was formed in Grantham and joined 31st Division in France on 21st May 1916. Percy had gone to France on 15 May presumably with the company. They served as the machine gun company for 94th Brigade which attacked the village of Serre on 1 July 1916. He was presumably wounded during this operation as he died of wounds near Couin on 4 July 1916 after evacuation to one of the hospitals in that area. The family home was then at St Margaret-on-Thames. He is buried in the Couin British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, in France, and commemorated on the reredos in St Chad’s College chapel, and a war memorial at Merchant Taylors’ School.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributor: David Barton, Nick Barton, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

6 July 1916

Image of Somerset Light Infantry crest

Somerset Light Infantry crest

Second Lieutenant Harold L. Colville

Harold Linklater Colville was the youngest of three children born to George and Mary Colville, who were both natives of Egremont, Cumberland; but by the time of Harold’s birth on 8 May 1894 were living in Stroud Green, Middlesex. In the 1901 census George Colville is listed as a Russia Merchant. The family clearly prospered, and in 1908 Harold was enrolled in King’s College, Taunton, one of ten schools established by Canon Nathaniel Woodard in the late Nineteenth Century. At King’s College Harold was a member of the Debating Society and a Lance Corporal in the Officers’ Training Corps. He was also appointed Sacristan, which would have been an important role in a school with such a deeply held Christian ethos. The school’s Book of Remembrance records that Harold came to Durham with the intention of taking up holy orders.

After leaving King’s College in 1910 Harold became a book clerk for an oil company and lived with his elder brother, Cecil, then a furrier in London. He gave this up to study at Durham and matriculated for admission into St Chad’s Hall in Michaelmas term of 1914. The college's archives records that there he served as Sacristan, keeping the register of services, for the Epiphany term of 1915. However he had already taken advantage of the postponement of these examinations to volunteer to serve his country: Colville was one of the first three ex-Cadets of King’s College’s Officers’ Training Corps to be given a Regular Army commission, in the 9th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry. The 9th (Reserve) Battalion was formed in Plymouth in October 1914 and was based at various camps in Dorset until the summer of 1916 when they were sent abroad. Colville did not join them until Michaelmas 1915, and so spent only a year as an Arts student at Durham University studying for a B.A. in litteris antiquis, passing his first-year exams. He also joined the Durham University O.T.C., and spent much time in drill work, field work (on the golf course), and in lectures concerning “general knowledge required by a junior officer”: an account of the Hall’s O.T.C. activities was published in The Stag students’ magazine Michaelmas 1914 issue. His last known address is 48 Conway Road, Southgate in Middlesex.

Harold last action was the Battle of Albert, which opened the Battle of the Somme, fighting with 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, to which he had been transferred. The Allies had bombarded the enemy with artillery fire for a week before they launched their attack, but while the shells changed the landscape making it difficult to pinpoint locations it did little to weaken the German lines or forces. Major V. H. B. Majendie in A History of the 1st Battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry reports,

“July 1st was fine and warm. After an intense bombardment a large mine was exploded under the Hawthorn Redoubt at 7.20 a.m. Fortunately the Battalion had very few casualties while waiting in the assembly trenches, and all ranks were in the highest spirits, eagerly looking forward to zero hour.”

A History of the 1st Battalion, the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's), July 1st, 1916, to the end of the war, by Major V.H.B. Majendie D.S.O. (Taunton, 1921)

The attack at Beaumont Hamel was launched at 07:30 and quickly met with heavy rifle, machine gun and grenade fire. The events of that day are well known. By 22:00 what remained of the Somerset Light Infantry was ordered to leave the few German trenches they had taken and return to their Divisional Reserve at Mailly-Maillet. When dawn broke on 2 July the front was exactly where it had been 24 hours before, but only one officer of those who had assembled in the trenches remained, 26 officers and 438 men had been killed. Major Majendie sums up:

“There is little more to add about this attack, which was a complete, but a glorious, failure, and in many ways as creditable to those, who took part in it,- as many subsequent successes. By the light of experience gained later, there is little doubt that the lack of a creeping barrage, which at the time had not been evolved, allowed the Germans to make full use of their numerous machine guns, and accounted to a great extent for our lack of success. The importance of systematically dealing with the German dug-outs as the advance proceeded was not at the time thoroughly realised: there were several instances of Germans emerging from their dug-outs after the British had passed, and firing into their backs.”

Harold Colville was wounded during this action and died of his wounds on 6 July, aged 22 in one of the hospitals around Rouen. The Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette reports that his Memorial Service took place on Tuesday 11 July 1916 at All Saints Church, Margaret Street, London. As well as relatives, the large congregation included the Duke of Newcastle and other notable people. Harold left his entire estate to his brother Cecil.

Harold Colville is buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, and remembered on the war memorial at St Martin’s Church, Fivehead, Somerset, and in the King’s College Roll of Honour and Book of Remembrance. At Durham University he is commemorated on the reredos in the chapel at St Chad’s College.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Keith Bell, Joyce Malcolm, Judith Vincent, Tony Wynne.

7 July 1916

Image of 2nd Lt. C.P.B. Burdett (Ref: MIA 1/338)

2nd Lt. C.P.B. Burdett (Ref: MIA 1/338)

Second Lieutenant Charles P. B. Burdett

Charles Plantagenet Balfour Burdett was born on 16 January 1890, the son of Irish parents who had emigrated: John Head Burdett, who went to Canada in 1881 but returned to Belfast to marry Adelaide Victoria Stanley née Leatham in 1882, before emigrating again. Two elder siblings were born in Canada but Charles was born in the United States. The family returned to Liverpool from New York aboard R.M.S. “Etruria” to Liverpool in 1893 and settled in Ealing, Middlesex, where John Burdett established a Cycle and Motor engineering business, trading as Maxwell and Burdett.

Charles matriculated as an Unattached student at Durham University in Easter term 1911. This means he was a member of no college, and was not in resident in Durham. In fact at this time he attended St John’s Hall, a theological training college in Highbury associated with Durham University, and would have come to Durham only to take his exams. This he did most successfully, taking and passing his first year Theology exams for the Licence in Theology in that term, Easter 1911, and then passing his finals in the following term, Michaelmas 1911. A year later, he actually came into residence, as an Arts student at University College. He then took his LTh on 5 November which meant he only had to be in residence for a year before he could take his BA finals, which he duly did in the Easter term of 1913. He passed Part I of his litteris antiquis exams, but failed his Part II Division I exams. He returned the next term to resit them successfully, and took his BA degree on 16 December 1913. He stayed on for a term to be secretary to University College’s Senior Man. He was also an all-round sportsman, playing cricket for the Durham Colleges team, winning his colours in the Durham Colleges rugby team, being secretary to both University College’s football and hockey teams, stroking the University College winning Trial Fours crew in November 1913, and serving as president of the University College Chess Club in Epiphany 1914.

With the outbreak of war, he enlisted in September 1914 instead of taking the curacy of St Thomas, Stepney, and was gazetted as a temporary second lieutenant in the 15th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (the City of London Regiment) on 12 August 1915. This was a reserve battalion that never went overseas; he was later transferred to the regular forces and his rank confirmed effective from 22 June 1916. He arrived in France on 9 March 1916 attached to the 9th Battalion, presumably to replace officer casualties. He was killed on 7 July 1916 during an attack on the village of Ovillers, part of the Battle of the Somme. His company commander wrote to Burgett’s parents, “Your son … was killed as he was gallantly leading his platoon to the attack. I cannot say too much about his calmness under fire. The whole battalion honoured and respected him.” A brother officer also wrote at the time, providing a more detailed report of the circumstances of his death.

“Our company was in the front line. Just before going over your son was buried by a shell, but in spite of the severe shock he persisted in going over with his men. When half way over No Man’s Land the company came under heavy machine-gun fire and the line halted, lay down, and opened fire on the German trench. After a short time Burdett got up and rushed his men forward to the German lines.”

Obituary, "Deaths." Times [London, England] 21 July 1916

Charles Burdett was originally buried in Mash Valley Cemetery but his grave was lost in later fighting and he is therefore commemorated on a memorial in Ovillers Military Cemetery, on the Somme in France, and on the war memorial at Ealing in London. His last home address was 15 Waldemar Avenue, Ealing. Charles was one of four brothers to serve during the war, and the others all survived into the 1950s and 1960s.

Research contributors: Tim Brown.

10 July 1916

Image of Acting L.Cpl A.H. Corner (Ref: E/HB 2/927/18)

Acting L.Cpl A.H. Corner (Ref: E/HB 2/927/18)

Acting Lance Corporal Arthur Henry Corner

Arthur Henry Corner was born on 26 July 1893 in Coundon, County Durham, the fifth of eleven children born to William Francis and Margaret Elizabeth Corner. His father was a coke-burner who rose to become the plant manager at the Dean and Chapter Colliery in Ferryhill. Arthur Corner attended Leasingthorne School, then Bishop Auckland Grammar School, returning briefly to Leasingthorne before finishing there in July 1911.

He entered Bede College at Michaelmas 1911, having been accepted on the two-year teacher training course. He was in the first class passing the Archbishop’s Certificate examination for second year students in March 1913, and won his Certificate to complete his training in July the same year. During his time at the college he played in the rugby team, in the backs. His nickname was ‘Swosher’.

He then joined the staff of Tudhoe Colliery Council Mixed School as an assistant teacher in summer 1913, remaining there until November 1914, when it is recorded in the school log book that “… Messrs Robinson, Fairless and Corner have obtained leave of absence to join Lord Kitchener’s army… they join their battalion tomorrow” (Ref: Durham County Record Office E/WC 31). Corner’s last known address was The Villas, Dean Bank, Ferryhill, his parents’ home.

Corner joined 18th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. This unit had been formed locally by a County Committee which “agreed to raise and equip at their own expense” a battalion from the county. It was formed at Cocken Hall near Durham, on 24 September 1914, then training in Ripon and Fovant, Wiltshire. In June 1915 it became part of the 31st Division, and in August 1915 the battalion was officially taken over by the War Office. The County Committee however refused any compensation or payment for the raising and training of the Battalion, and so 18 DLI became the only battalion in the country to be raised solely by subscription.

On 22 December 1915 Arthur Corner deployed with the 31st Division to Kantara to Egypt, where the battalion was employed in building and renewing trenches and providing reinforcements to protect the Suez Canal. A short diary of Corner’s survives in the archive of the Durham Light Infantry at Durham County Record Office: it chronicles his day to day activities for the period from 28 December 1915 to 28 March 1916 – food and letters from home were high points! On 6 March 1916 the battalion re-embarked for France, arriving in Marseilles five days later. From here they moved by train to Pont-Remy, Picardy, on the Western Front.

The Battalion was first deployed to the north west of Beaumont Hamel and then moved to the north of the Serre-Colincamps road. On 20 June it again moved, this time to Colincamps itself. An attack was planned for the end of June but which had to be postponed due to bad weather. It took place on 1 July, by which time the enemy lines had been heavily strengthened round Serre, Puisieux and Gommecourt. The 93rd Infantry Brigade, of which 18 DLI was a part, was to act as the spearhead to penetrate through and beyond Serre, to which action “the Battalion was looking forward with cheerfulness and confidence to success” (War History of the 18th Battalion (S) Durham Light Infantry by Lieut.-Col. W.D. Lowe, OUP, 1920). At 07:20 the mine at Beaumont Hamel was sprung, the German troops responded, Lowe reports, with “a ferocity … as overwhelming as it was unexpected”.

Arthur Corner was wounded and severely gassed during the engagement on 1 July 1916, now (in)famously known as the opening of the Battle of the Somme, one of more than 60,000 allied casualties on that first day alone. He was brought back to hospital in England where he died of wounds on 10 July 1916.

His death was recorded in the December 1916 issue of The Bede magazine, which observed, “his comrades speak warmly of his unfailing cheerfulness and unflinching courage”. William E. Marshall, a lance corporal in 18 DLI and a former Bede man himself (missing, presumed killed, 3 May 1917) reported in the same issue:

“It is also my sad duty to record the death in hospital of Arthur H. Corner (’11-’13) who was badly wounded after leaving the trenches to meet the Boche. He lived to see England again and we thought all was going well with him, when the sad news came through to us that he had passed away at Colchester. He was always the cheeriest of the cheery, and was as popular with his platoon and company as a man could wish to be. It was hard indeed to lose such a comrade.”

The Bede magazine, December 1916

Arthur Corner is commemorated on the Durham County Hall Memorial, a memorial plaque in King James’ School, Bishop Auckland, Ferryhill War Memorial, and the Roll of Honour of Spennymoor and District Teachers’ Association. He is also honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. He is buried in Coundon St James’ Churchyard, County Durham.

Additional sources: the text for this short biography is largely based on a longer article by David Butler, published by Durham County Record Office; a dairy of Corner’s is held in the DLI archives (Ref: A.H. Corner’s diary, D/DLI 7/143/1).
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.
Image o fSgt G. Philbey, 1912 (Ref: DCRO E/HB 2/691)

Sgt G. Philbey, 1912 (Ref: DCRO E/HB 2/691)

Sergeant George Philbey

George Philbey was born in Nether Hallam in Sheffield, Yorkshire on 16 August 1892. He was the second of five children born to James Alfred Philbey, a police constable, and Minnie Elizabeth Philbey (née Ward). After his father’s death in 1898 George Philbey and his elder brother Frank went to live in the Northern Police Orphanage in Harrogate, while his mother and younger siblings moved in with the children's maternal grandmother in Duncombe Street, Sheffield.

In 1911 Philbey was admitted to Bede College at Durham University. While at the college he demonstrated great enthusiasm for sport, playing in college matches in rugby, hockey, and boating. Although “only one Junior had played Rugby before coming to college and … only four knew what Rugby was”, George Philbey made a positive impression: “Philbey as a forward … [promises] well and with more practice should find [a] place in the team.” (The Bede magazine, Dec. 1911, p.20). As Philbey’s name is recorded in Yorkshire Rugby Football Union’s “In Memoriam” 1914-19 as a member of Darnall RFC, we know he continued to play the game after his time at Durham. His enthusiasm for sport found expression in another contribution to the same issue of the magazine, in which he entertained his friends debating the question ‘Was Shakespeare a sport?’

Upon completion of his degree in 1913, Philbey worked as a school teacher in the Sheffield area. Having served with the Territorial Force of the Durham Light Infantry during his time at Bede College, he enlisted as a Private with 12th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment on 11 September 1914. Philbey quickly rose through the ranks, being promoted to corporal on 2 December 1914, then lance sergeant on 18 December 1914. On 19 April 1915 he was again promoted to sergeant and transferred to the Battalion’s C Company.

The battalion was first assigned to defend the Suez Canal, arriving in Alexandria on 1 January 1916, but they were soon re-assigned to France to participate in the planned attack on the Somme. The 12th Battalion sailed on the H.M.T. Briton from Port Said on 10 March 1916, arriving ten days later at Marseilles, and later setting up camp facing the heavily-fortified village of Serre.

On the morning of 1 July 1916, Philbey’s C Company was part of the first wave of the battalion to move into No Man’s Land. The results were disastrous and the casualties high, with some waves losing half of their force before they reached the front line. By 7 July, 495 men were reported dead, wounded, or missing. Philbey was one of the wounded, and he later died of his wounds on 10 July 1916. He is buried at Couin British Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

Sergeant George Philbey is commemorated in Durham on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. In his native Yorkshire he is commemorated in the Yorkshire Rugby Union’s “In Memoriam” 1914-19, and in Sheffield on the Sheffield City Council Roll of Honour, the Sheffield City Battalion Roll of Honour, the St Hilda’s Windmill Lane Roll of Honour, the St Mary’s Roll of Honour Plaque, and the St Stephen’s Roll of Honour and War Memorial.

Research contributors: Jenna Fawcett, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of 2nd Lt. G.H. Grimshaw (Image: Wilkie family collection)

2nd Lt. G.H. Grimshaw (Image: Wilkie family collection)

Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Harrison Grimshaw

Geoffrey Harrison Grimshaw, was the second child of William Henry Grimshaw, a woollen draper, and Margaret Harrison Tootill, who married at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Bury on 12 September 1888. Geoffrey, their second child and first son, was born at 50 Fleet Street, Bury, on 8 September 1891. He was baptised at the United Methodist Church, Heap Bridge, on 11 October 1894.

The 1901 census (RG13/3638/60) shows the Grimshaws installed at 129 Walmersley Road, next door to their Tootill in-laws. His sister Elsie was living at home, but Geoffrey Grimshaw was already away at school in Southport where, aged 9, he was a boarder at University School, 1 & 3 Cambridge Road. The page of the census on which he appears (RG13/3536/21/75) lists the boys with surnames beginning G to W and out of the 31 listed, he was the only nine-year-old, the next youngest being two boys aged 11 and three aged 13. The oldest boy was 17 and this, together with the name of the school, suggest that it may have specialised in preparing boys for University. An advertisement in the Southport Guardian of Saturday 15 July 1916 describes it as “a most successful Boarding and Day School for boys” with an “experienced resident matron”, and lists the exhibitions and scholarships which its boys had recently won; another school in the same paper is quoting fees of 12 guineas a term for boarders. This suggests William Grimshaw’s business was prospering, and the decision to send his son away to school is perhaps evidence of a desire for the family to advance socially.

The family later moved to Southport, an elegant and prosperous Lancashire seaside resort, living close to the seafront and high street at 55 Leyland Road. The house has no longer stands, but photos of it survive in an album made up as a Christmas present, possibly by Elsie Grimshaw for her parents.

Image of 55 Leyland Road, Southport (Image: Wilkie family collection)

55 Leyland Road, Southport (Image: Wilkie family collection)

Geoffrey completed his education at Sandringham School, Southport, and went on to study theology at University College, Durham University - the first of his family to embark on higher education. The 1911 census finds him staying with a University coach, Wilfred Burckhardt Atherstone Hales of Underhill House, Underhill, New Barnet, Hertfordshire, and described as a student of divinity. According to his sister Elsie, he was hoping to become a Congregationalist Minister. At Durham he was awarded caps for the University College Boat and Hockey Clubs, which have since been donated to his College. His hockey cap dates from the 1913-1914 session. A photograph also in Durham University Library’s collections shows Geoffrey Grimshaw in Officer Training Corps uniform as one of the victorious University College Shooting Eight in June 1914. The team had just won the Gee Cup and have the short magazine rifles which were widely used in the OTC. Following Haldane’s army reforms of 1907 some 153 Public Schools and many Universities had active OTCs – in many schools attendance was compulsory – and boys could gain their Certificate A. If to this was added the Certificate B, which many chose to take at University, cadets were regarded as qualified to be platoon leaders in the Territorial Army.

Other photographs in the university archive show that the Durham University OTC went into camp that summer and Grimshaw may have gone with them. Indications are that he had worked hard for his University place, was participating fully in College life and no doubt felt he was laying sure foundations for the rest of his life. The outbreak of war brought an abrupt change of direction.

War against Germany was declared on 4 August 1914 and two days later Grimshaw filled in an application form for appointment to a commission in the special reserve of officers, for appointment in any infantry battalion. In this he recorded that he had been until March 1914 a lance corporal in the 7th King’s Liverpool Territorials, which he had left in order to become a cadet in Durham University OTC, A Company. His medical a week later recorded that he was 5 feet 7¼ inches, weighed 10 stone and measured 34 inches round the chest when breathing in. Hearing, vision, and colour vision were good and his teeth “repaired but good”. He was duly pronounced fit for the special reserve of officers.

On 1 September 1914, shortly before his twenty-third birthday, he was gazetted temporary Second Lieutenant in the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment which had come into existence on 8 August. Its depot was at Fulwood Barracks, Preston, where the regimental museum is still located, although the regiment has since become the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. ‘Temporary’ and ‘Service’ denote that Geoffrey was not a regular and that his unit formed part of Kitchener’s New Army. Sixteen days later his major, the bearer of the lugubrious - but distinguished - name, J.R. Pine-Coffin, was appointed.

Colonel H.C. Wylly, in his History of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Vol 2 1914-1919, (London, 1933: p. 231), states that the 6th (Service) Battalion formed part of the 38th Brigade of the 13th (Western) Division, which was entirely made up of New Army battalions. Most of the battalion’s training was carried out on Salisbury Plain, but towards the end of its time in England it moved to Blackdown, near Aldershot. A more personal glimpse comes from a letter written home from King William’s College, Isle of Man, on 16 October 1914 by Reginald Hunt Tootill: “I have received a letter from Auntie Margaret [Geoffrey Grimshaw’s mother]. ‘Geoffrey is at Tidworth in Wilts with his regiment. He has some very rough men to drill but he says they are improving. They get up at 5.30 in the morning and work until 4.30pm, so it is a fairly long day for hard work, is it not?’”.

Images of 2nd Lt. G.H. Grimshaw (Image: Wilkie family collection)

2nd Lt. G.H. Grimshaw (Image: Wilkie family collection)

The following spring the 13th was one of three divisions ordered to proceed to Gallipoli to reinforce General Hamilton’s troops during their ill-fated campaign. In his History Colonel Wylly notes that the battalion transport left Farnborough station on 14 June to embark at Avonmouth, and that Geoffrey Grimshaw was among those who sailed on the Braemar Castle on 17 June. They arrived at Cape Helles, via Malta and Egypt, on 6 July and camped in Gully Ravine before moving up as reserves in the Eski Line. They then moved up into support and front-line trenches on 8 July on the extreme left of the British line, right next to the Aegean Sea. By the time they were relieved on 9 July two Captains were wounded, one mortally, two lieutenants and twenty-four men were also wounded, with one missing. They went to bivouac at Geogheghan’s Bluff before returning to the front line on 11 July. At this point Grimshaw was shipped home with dysentery, leaving on the Asturias from the Dardanelles on 12 July 1915, and arriving at Southampton on 17 July. Over 500 men of his battalion were slaughtered in August at Chunuk Batir, putting up a desperate defence in shallow and inadequate trenches.

The War Office machinery ground into action and a telegram was dispatched to Geoffrey’s parents on 2 August, which read “2 Lieut GH Grimshaw Loyal North Lancs Regt admitted 2nd Western General Hospital Manchester July 28th sick. Secretary to War Office.” This was the Whitworth Hospital, and Geoffrey was discharged on 9 August and given leave until 28 August. After various medical boards he was found to be fit for light duties by 4 September and fit for general service on 11 November 1915.

After this he must have been attached to the 8th (Service) battalion and sent out to France. It was during the early part of 1916 that an enemy bullet flattened the sliver whistle he carried and was believed to have saved his life. The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and the 8th Battalion fought as part of 7th Brigade, 25th Division.

The most detailed account is provided by Colonel Wylly:

“During the 8th [July] and part of the 9th, the 7th brigade was near Albert in support of the two other brigades of its division, which were then holding the newly-won German line about Ovilliers and la Boisselle; but on the afternoon of the 9th the battalion was sent up to take over an advanced position of the trench system immediately south of Ovilliers.”

History of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Vol 2 1914-1919, (London, 1933: pp. 292-293)

Conditions on the last day of Geoffrey’s life are described by Lyn Macdonald in her work, Somme (1990):

“It was a slithering, wet shambles of a night. The churning shellfire, the constant traffic, the frequent showers of the ten days' fighting had turned the trenches into ditches running with mud. Next morning a slight steam rose above them under the hot rays of the sun. It was a beautiful day. It was also a day of hellish noise.”

Somme by Lyn Macdonald (London, 1990: p.118).

On 10 July attacks were made northwards towards Ovilliers by the 7th and 74th Brigades, the latter more successfully than the former. The war diary takes up the narrative.

“About 1.0 pm, orders were received to occupy several points in the enemy line running across our front and joining our trenches on the right. … At 2.30 pm an advance was made from our block … A heavy hostile barrage was opened on the trench but in spite of very large casualties we reached Point 25. Here we were held up by enemy bombing parties. Heavy shelling & bombing continued for about 2 hours without any gain. The enemy then tried to outflank us both on left & right moving across the open. His counter attacks were however driven off & the night was quiet, a block being established just short of point 25. A detached post under Sgt Holmes (C Coy) on the left of our line … held their ground all day although they had heavy casualties & no support could be got to them. … it is believed that, when the attack was at its height … at least 3 Prussian battalions were opposing it. … Our casualties were very heavy in connection with this operation as was only to be expected.”

The National Archives, WO 95/2243/2.

On 11 July the battalion moved back into dug-outs at La Boiselle, where they could take stock of their losses. Geoffrey Grimshaw was one of four second lieutenants killed along with thirty-three other ranks. Major Wynne, two Captains, and two lieutenants were wounded, as were 156 men, and a further 49 were unaccounted for and believed killed.

Although Geoffrey Grimshaw had been killed, the first War Office telegram which came to his parents read: “Regret to inform you 2 Lt GH Grimshaw Loyal North Lancs Regt was wounded July 11th. Further details sent when received.” The Southport Guardian of 15 July 1916 (p. 9, col. 3) carried his photograph and gave brief details of his schooling and army service.

The following day his mother wrote to the War Office asking for information about Geoffrey’s wounds and which hospital he had been sent to, but it was not until 20 July that the most dreaded telegram arrived: “Deeply regret to inform you 2 Lt GH Grimshaw Loyal North Lancs previously reported wounded now reported killed in action July 10th. The Army Council express their sympathy.”

On Saturday 22 July the Southport Guardian, under the masthead “Local Casualties. Southport Men in the Big Advance”, Geoffrey’s photograph again appeared, together with a report of his death, and which included a report from his commanding officer, Lieut.-Col. Marriott.

“He was killed by a shell on the afternoon of the 10th inst. while gallantly commanding his platoon during a strong counter-attack made by the Germans against a trench which we had captured from them. He was doing his duty bravely at the time, and his good example contributed in no small degree to our ultimate success. He is buried where he fell, together with many of his comrades. On a former occasion since the commencement of these operations his name had been brought to my notice for good work. Please accept my sincere sympathy in your loss, which is also the loss of the battalion.”

Southport Guardian, Saturday 22 July (p. 9, col. 3)

His family was utterly devastated by his death and are thought to have moved around for many years from hotel to hotel, unable to settle anywhere. Geoffrey is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: family correspondence and images in the possession of Gwyneth Wilkie.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Gwyneth Wilkie.

14 July 1916

Image of Royal Warwickshire Regiment cap badge

Royal Warwickshire Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Frank Forman

Francis Forman was born 27 February 1888, the eldest son of Tom Forman, a coke drawer born at Strubby in Lincolnshire, and Sarah Ann née Simpson, a native of Hett in County Durham. He had a sister, Mary Annie, a school teacher who trained at St Hild’s College in Durham, and a brother, Wilfrid George, who in 1911 was a wool washer in a worsted factory. The family lived in the vicinity of Hett until 1911, first in Hett itself in 1891, then at 71 Johnson Terrace in Sunderland Bridge in 1901, and then Cross Street in Croxdale in 1911. After the death of Sarah Ann Forman in 1892 first Tom Forman’s mother Mary and then his sister, also Mary, joined the family. After Francis Forman’s death his father lived at Seaham with his daughter Mary Annie.

Clearly a bright boy, Francis Forman won an Intermediate Scholarship from Durham County Council in 1903 to the North Eastern County School (from 1924 renamed Barnard Castle School), which he attended until 1906. There the first indications of his later career as a school master are found in his appointments as Assistant Librarian, Dormitory Monitor, Monitor, and to the Reading Room Committee.

From Barnard Castle School he went up to Durham University, as a member of Hatfield Hall, matriculating in Michaelmas 1906 to study Arts. He was awarded his BA in June 1908. This degree enabled him to take up an Assistant Master position at Bournemouth School on 26 April 1909, and where in 1914 he was master of the Remove Class. He took a full part in the school life, playing sport and from September 1914 serving with the school’s O.T.C., specialising in signals. He lived during this period first at the school at 7 Portchester Road in Bournemouth and then at 16 Fortescue Road.

Francis Forman left Bournemouth School at the end of the summer term of 1915 to take up a commission in the 3rd Battalion, Dorset Regiment. After a period of training at Wyke Regis, near Weymouth, he was attached to the 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment in France which had been in France since 22 March 1915. He joined this unit in France on the very day the Battle of the Somme commenced. He was killed in action two weeks later on 14 July 1916 during a final push to capture the fortified village of Ovillers, a day one objective. This village was finally captured on 16 July, but would change hands twice more before the end of the war. The circumstances of Forman’s death were relayed by his sister Mary Annie to the headmaster of Bournemouth School as follows.

“Frank lost his life leading his platoon in an attack over open ground on the morning of 14 July, in the face of very heavy fire from machine guns and rifles. It was his first time in action, having been in the trenches but a day and a night since joining the regiment on 1st July.”

Letter from Mary Annie Forman, published in Bournemouthian magazine, 1916.

The headmaster of the school remembered Forman as,

“not only a highly valued member of staff, but one who endeared himself by his courteous and obliging disposition to all – masters and boys alike – with whom he came in contact.”

Bournemouthian, vol. 3, no. 35, p.51 (July 1916)

Francis Forman’s body was not found, and he is therefore commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. At Durham University his name is recorded on a plaque at Hatfield College. In the area where he grew up his name is found on a plaque, roll of honour, and religious painting at St Bartholomew’s Church. At Barnard Castle School chapel stained glass windows were dedicated in 1920, with panels and a roll of honour recording the names of the pupils and masters who fell in the conflict. Forman’s sacrifice is also commemorated on the Bournemouth School war memorial.

Additional sources: image of Royal Warwickshire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Pat Burgess, Archivist at Barnard Castle School, Jessica Morgan, Librarian at Bournemouth School, Joyce Malcolm, Marie-Therese Pinder, Vivienne Smith.

15 July 1916

Image of Private S.C. Cureton c. 1913 (Ref: MIA 16/64)

Private S.C. Cureton c. 1913 (Ref: MIA 16/64)

Private Sydney Casewell Cureton

Sydney Casewell Cureton was born in December 1894 and raised in Church Aston, Newport in Shropshire by his parents William George Hassall Cureton, an engineer’s pattern-maker, and his wife Harriet, a dressmaker, alongside his siblings Georgiana, John and Flora. In the 1911 census, the 16-year-old Cureton is described as being employed as a domestic gardener, and it is likely that it was in this capacity that he worked at Bede College at Durham; he is not listed in the college’s Report and list of members (1925). His photograph is among those collected into two different ‘Friends’ albums by William Henry Bateman (1911-1913) and G.J. Gordon (1911-1913), and beside Cureton’s portrait in each album are penned his nicknames, ‘Tich’, and ‘Boanerges’ (Sons of Thunder) or ‘Thunder’. The other ‘Son of Thunder’ is identified as Bernard Easton, also nicknamed ‘Hook’, and who was in 1911 resident in Husthwaite, Easingwold in Yorkshire, the son of a jobbing gardener. The origin of their epithet ‘Sons of Thunder’ may refer to a shared impetuosity, but more likely refers to the two gardeners’ use of a thunder-box in the grounds, the contents of which may have been used to manure the garden!

Cureton enlisted with the 5th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, and was killed in action, aged 21, on 15 July 1916, when his unit’s war diary (WO 95/1902/1) reports the battalion was in trenches, engaged in a southerly sector of the Battle of Delville Wood. He is buried at Agny Military Cemetery. Cureton’s death was reported in the December 1916 edition of The Bede magazine.

Cureton’s name is listed on the Longford and Church Aston memorial, the Telford and Wrekin Roll of Honour, and the Bede College 1914-18 Roll of Honour and Plaque. Currently, Cureton is not listed on the Bede College 1914-18 Cross, but there are moves to rectify this omission.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Emma Marshall.

19 July 1916

Image of Second Lieutenant Walter C. Morgan (Ref: UND/F1/FC1908)

2nd Lt. Walter C. Morgan (Ref: UND/F1/FC1908)

Second Lieutenant Walter Chapman Morgan

The Morgans moved around the country during Walter’s childhood, as one might expect of the family of a young clergyman. Walter Giles Morgan, the head of the family, was curate of Swanton Morley with Worthing in Norfolk when his first son, Walter, was born 5 September 1886, and of St Mary, Bredin in Kent when a second son was born the following year. By 1891 the family was based in Bath, where Walter G. Chapman was curate of St Luke’s. The family was completed when Alice Morgan, Walter’s wife, gave birth to a daughter Caroline in 1899, by which time the family was living in King's Lynn.

Walter C. Morgan attended King Edward VII Grammar School at King's Lynn, before being accepted as a probationary student at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1907. It is not until the Easter term of 1908 that he is recorded as an Arts student attending lectures on arithmetic and logic in the university, and indeed this is the only term in which he appears to have attended such lectures. His brother John Campbell Chapman entered the college in the same year. Their father, Walter Giles Morgan, who had himself been an Unattached member of Durham University and received a BA degree in 1905, went on to be awarded a MA in 1911 as a Non-Collegiate student. While John C. Morgan was awarded a BA in 1914, Walter did not complete his degree.

Cricket seems to have been a more valued preoccupation, for between 1907 and 1909 there are numerous mentions of Walter C. Morgan’s prowess with the bat. He was joined at the crease by his younger brother John: The Sphinx student magazine reports that “in the batting line, the brothers Morgan gave University College a splendid start”, and both brothers were in the college team that won the Grey Cup in 1908. Walter C. Chapman also attended the University Student’s Congress in Belfast in 1908 as an athletic representative. He was placed second in the 220 yard race and third in the 100 yard race. By 1911 he was working as an assistant schoolmaster at a school at The Dene in Caterham, Surrey, and still making runs on the cricket pitch. His name is found in Wisden on the Great War (2014).

Walter C. Morgan was quick to enlist upon the declaration of war, and on 27 November 1914 he was gazetted as a temporary second lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. This service battalion had formed in Norwich in September 1914 and was attached to the 53rd Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division. Following training in this country, the division was ordered to France, disembarking at Boulogne on 26 July 1915.

Nearly 12 months later in the early days of the Somme campaign, holding Delville Wood became an objective for both sides. The Allies planned a bombardment to precede an infantry attack which was expected to be a fairly quick affair. However, German forces were already in a commanding position and the fighting became fierce.

The battalion’s war diary records that on 19 July at 01:30, the Colonel of 8th Battalion Norfolk Regiment received orders to mount a counter-attack on Delville Wood as soon as was possible: delays in reaching their start line meant that the attack was not launched until 07:15. The 18th Division was part of the Assaulting Line which was to take the whole of the south part of the wood from west to east and as far as ‘Princes Street’ (the middle ride through the wood). The terrain – afterwards not a single tree was left intact - was difficult for machine gunners and bombers and many troops became involved in desperate hand-to-hand fighting. The battalion war diary (WO 95/2040/1) gives a detailed account of the day’s events. The action which had started on 15 July in the end lasted until 3 September.

Although they achieved their objective, occupying the southern part of the wood, the attack of 19 July cost the 8th Battalion dearly, with 11 officers and 288 other ranks listed as casualties. Three officers had been killed, one of whom was Second Lieutenant W. C. Morgan.

Walter Morgan’s grave is unrecorded, and so his service to his country is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. A plaque to his memory was erected in the church of St Stephen, Norwick in 1919, bearing the inscription, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. He is also commemorated on the King's Lynn war memorial, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service.

Research contributors: Christine McGann, Ashley Somogyi, Pauline Walden.

27 July 1916

Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry.

Sergeant Robert Jones

Robert Jones was born on 5 January 1887 at Murton Colliery. He was the eldest son of Edward, a coal miner and timber drawer, and his wife Mary, and had two younger brothers, James and Arthur. By the age of fourteen, Jones was working as a pupil teacher at a local school.

In 1906 he enrolled at Bede College, where he achieved second class results in his first year. After completing his training in July 1908 Jones became a certified elementary school teacher at the Station Town Council School in Hutton Henry, and settled in Thornley where he lived with his wife, Jane Ann, whom he married in 1910. The couple later moved to Barnard Castle, and had two children, Edward and Mary. Jane re-married after the war, but remained in Barnard Castle.

Following the outbreak of war, Jones enlisted in West Hartlepool with the 18th ‘Pals’ Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. The battalion embarked on active service on 5 December 1915 when they set sail for Egypt. They arrived in Port Said on 21 December, and for the months they were in Egypt their duties involved reconstructing Gurkha trenches and building light railways. They remained there until the spring of 1916 when they embarked for Marseilles, arriving on 11 March. The battalion then journeyed northwards to the Somme region, in preparation for the planned summer offensive.

On the 27 July 1916, the Pals received an order to relieve the 14th York and Lancaster Regiment of their duties in the Neuve-Chappelle sector. This was done by noon, and the battalion spent the remainder of the day repairing damage to the trenches there. A bombardment of mortars began early in the evening and finished at 19:30. After two hours of respite, an even heavier bombardment began. During this time Jones was the Acting Sergeant-Major of C Company, whose trench “suffered heavily” under the bombardment. In his history of 18 DLI, W.D. Lowe recalls that fifty German soldiers attempted to breach C Company’s trench that night and eleven of them succeeded. The attack finally ceased at 01:30 by which time Jones and seventy-eight others had been killed. The Bede magazine reported in its December issue that he was killed by the raiders after being wounded twice, and remembered him as “a splendid man. He was endeavouring to reach his post during a heavy bombardment, and his devotion to duty was undoubtedly the cause of his being killed”.

Robert Jones is buried in the St Vaast Post Military Cemetery in Richebourg-L’Avoue, and his name is to be found on the the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, as well as the Durham County Council war memorials.

Research contributors: David Butler, Anabel Farrell, Joyce Malcolm.

30 July 1916

Image of C.S.M. Thomas C. Smyth (Ref: E/HB 2/654)

C.S.M. Thomas C. Smyth (Ref: E/HB 2/654)

Company Sergeant-Major Thomas Chester Smyth

Thomas Chester Smyth was born in 1887 in Whitburn, Co. Durham, the eldest of three children of James William and Susannah Smyth. His family later moved to Bedlington in Northumberland to live on the estate of Hartford Hall, where his father was employed by the Burdon family as their head gardener.

He attended King Edward VI School in Morpeth from 1902-1911. (Pupils there researched him as part of a First World War project in 2015.) Thomas Smyth then attended Bede College in Durham 1906-1908, completing his teacher training in July 1908 and passing the certificate examination in the first division of Class II. He must have enjoyed his time at Bede, for he was still subscribing to its magazine to keep in touch with his college cohort in June 1915. After qualifying, he became a teacher at Whitley Memorial School in Whitley Bay. His younger sister Ethel followed his career path, as she is listed as a pupil teacher in the 1911 census.

By March 1915 Thomas was serving with the 19th Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, and he was later promoted to Company Sergeant-Major. The battalion landed at Le Havre on 29 January 1916. Interestingly, James Arthur Joicey, son-in-law to Hartford’s owner, Augustus Edward Burdon, also served in the regiment during the war, first as Captain of the 5th Battalion and later as Major of the 7th Battalion. Smyth’s younger brother, Henry Richard, also signed up with the Northumberland Fusiliers, in A Company of the 16th Battalion. Both brothers were killed during the Battle of the Somme, Henry on the 1 July 1916, aged 20, and Thomas a few weeks later on 30 July, aged 29.

Henry is buried in Lonsdale Cemetery between Aveluy and Authuille, while Thomas is buried in Carnoy Military Cemetery, about 13 kilometres away. Thomas is commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and in a Roll of Honour formerly displayed in the church of the Holy Trinity, Church Street East, in Sunderland. His name is also carved on the war memorial cross on the Green at Bedlington, and on panels in the church of St Cuthbert there.

Research contributors: David Butler, Emma Marshall.

31 July 1916

Image of the Cap badge of the Royal Fusiliers

Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private Francis Austin Elliott Paget

Francis Paget was the eldest of the seven boys born to Cecil George Paget, vicar of Thame in Dorset, and his wife Innes Elizabeth. He was born at Sturminster Newton on 7 August 1890, and baptised at the church of St James at Holt in Dorset on 28 August 1890. The Pagets also had two daughters, Averil and Cicely. Of the boys, one died in early infancy, and three died serving in the First World War: Francis in 1916, John Christopher Paget, a Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery, killed at St Leger on 26 April 1917, and Second Lieutenant Michael Theodore Paget, 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, on 17 August 1917. Only Bernard Leopold Paget served and survived the war, first in 13th (County of London) Battalion (Kensington), The London Regiment, and then in the Labour Corps. Felix Barnaby, born in 1904, was too young to serve.

Francis Paget attended both Durnford School at Langton Maltravers, and, like his father, Charterhouse School (Verites 1904-1906). He then went up to Oxford, to Hertford College in October 1909, and passed Classics and Divinity exams in 1910 and 1911, but did not complete his finals. In the Epiphany Term of 1915 he matriculated at Durham as a student unattached to any particular college, and in the same term satisfied the examiners in his First Year Theology examination.

He enlisted at Dorchester as a private in the 24th (Service) Battalion (2nd Sportsman’s) of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment and first went to France with them on 15 November 1915. During the Battles of the Somme the battalion as part of the 2nd Division were on the front line in the Battle of Delville Wood. The battalion’s war diary records the results of an attack by C Company launched at 04:52 on 30 July on enemy trenches east of Waterlot Farm. There was a heavy mist, a prelude to what the diary notes was to be a very hot day, and the company’s progress was further impeded by uncut wire and “very heavy shellfire”:

“Of the 3 Officers and 114 other ranks who made the attack - 1 officer (wounded) - 11 other ranks got back.”

War Diary 30 July 1916, 24th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (WO 95/1349/1-7).

Francis Paget was listed among those killed the following day, as the battalion was relived and withdrew into reserve trenches – another “exceedingly hot day”. Paget has no grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. His sacrifice is commemorated in Rolls of Honour and Service produced by Durnford School, Charterhouse School, Lancing College, (where he is mentioned alongside his brothers), Hertford College, and Durham University. His name is recorded in a stained glass window in the church of St George at Durnford, and on the war memorial in the chapel at Hertford College, Oxford. He is also remembered, with his brothers, on the war memorial cross in Cassington village, Oxford, where his father was vicar.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson.

8 August 1916

Image of King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment cap badge (By Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)

King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Harold Hall Hodkinson

Born in 1893, Harold Hall Hodkinson was the fifth son born to James and Mary Ellen Hodkinson of Wigan, Lancashire. James Hodkinson was a successful entrepreneur, building his bedding and mattress-making business into a full-scale upholstery firm. Two sons died in childhood during the 1890s, but the elder two took up apprenticeships in carpentry and upholstery. Harold Hodkinson entertained ambitions within the church and progressed from school to Dorchester Missionary College, which then offered a four-year course leading to the priesthood. He became an unattached member of Durham University, entering as a student of Theology, in the Easter Term 1914. Students at Theological Colleges associated with the university at this time were permitted to register and be examined at Durham and in this way obtain University of Durham degrees.

When war intervened, Hodkinson was anxious to play his part, but the Durham University Journal reports that his enlistment in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry came only after twenty vain attempts owing to his deficient eyesight. He was gazetted a temporary second lieutenant in April 1915, and, as the Journal later reports, promoted to second lieutenant for meritorious conduct at the front.

On 23 August 1915 Second Lieutenant Hodkinson joined 4th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, and was attached to A company. The regimental diary reports the battalion was engaged in trench warfare interspersed by periods in billets behind the lines for some months, and Harold Hodkinson’s service was interrupted by an accidental injury sustained at Riding School and on another occasion, a spell in hospital, due to illness. One year on, in August 1916, the battalion found itself in trenches near Arrow Head Copse in a sector south of Trones Wood and Guillemont Road. The trenches were in poor condition and needed constant repair, all under “very brisk artillery activity all day and night”.

The regimental diary chronicles that during the night of 7/8 August a plan was executed to attack in waves supported by artillery. At 03:45 a.m. the first wave left its trenches, followed by the second wave at 04:10 a.m. At 04:15 a.m. the enemy targeted a very heavy barrage on the battalion’s position, just as the first and second wave forces crept towards the enemy trenches. At 04:20 a.m.

“Battalion made the assault; but were met by a terrific Bomb fire. This was unexpected & caused heavy casualties. Enemy also opened a very heavy machine gun fire. The attack was arrested. Further advance being impossible the Battalion retired out of Bombing distance & started to dig in 50 yards in front of our trench. Very heavy enemy fire & our own Artillery fired short. Battalion retired into our Front Line Trench, & rest of the day was spent in working on our Front Line Trench. Casualties were very heavy: 17 officers & 254 O[ther]R[ank]s killed.”

War diary of the 1/4th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, 8 August 1916 (TNA WO 95/2922/1).

Second Lieutenant Harold Hodkinson was amongst them; his body was never found or identified.

The war diary includes first-hand reports by three NCOs who took part in the engagement. They highlight the problems faced by the Lancasters including: communication difficulties – relying on runners; enemy barbed wire untouched by the allied artillery; supporting regiments not in expected positions; enemy barbed wire having bombs attached which exploded when the wire was touched; the enemy, very strong in numbers, waiting until the first wave was almost upon them before opening a “terrific bomb fire”; friendly fire casualties. In the same war diary Major Balfour, commanding officer of 1/4th Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment, confirms:

“Stokes guns were ordered to destroy barricade on SUNKEN ROAD leading to GUILLEMONT. They bombarded this place but did no damage. ... Our own artillery kept up an intermittent bombardment the whole time. The Heavies, however, were falling short and many casualties caused through them.”

Major Balfour

Harold Hodkinson’s sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial and his name is recorded in his home town on the Wigan Conservative Club war memorial, and in Durham, on the University’s Roll of Service. After the war a reredos was dedicated in the requiem chapel in Dorchester Abbey by the Missionary College there to its students lost in the conflict.

Both Hodkinson’s two elder brothers, Carlton James and Allen Hall Hodkinson, also served in the Great War. Each received the Silver War Badge after being wounded in action, and survived the war.

Additional sources: image of King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributor: Pauline Walden.

9 August 1916

Image of Chaplain Hubert O. Spink (Image: St Clement's C. of E. Church Toxteth)

Chaplain Hubert Octavius Spink

Chaplain Hubert Octavius Spink

Hubert Octavius Spink was born in Dulwich, then near London, on 20 January 1878, the eighth child, of ten, of Joseph Simeon Spink and Lucy Dorothea Spink (née Critchett). The family were wealthy and employed a housemaid and a cook, who both resided at the family home. Joseph Spink worked at the Bank of England, where he rose to the office of Principal of the Issue Department, responsible for issuing banknotes and the acquisition of assets. His sons attended Dulwich College as day boys: Hubert Spink entered the College in May 1889 and left from the Lower 5th Classical Set in December 1894, aged 16. He then joined the London & South Western Bank in 1895 and moved to Lloyds Bank in the City of London the following year. He continued to live at home until 1901, participating in his spare time in sports (gymnastics and rugby), and enjoying philately and glee singing.

In 1902 Hubert attended St Aidan’s Theological College, Birkenhead, and from there he went on to Durham University as an unattached student, matriculating in the Easter term of that year. Records show that he attended the University from May 1905-May 1907. He was a member of St Cuthbert’s Society, and that he continued to pursue his sporting interests is shown by his winning the university’s putting the weight (or shotput) competition. In Easter term 1907 Spink was awarded his B.A. (Classical and General Literature with Theology); he went on to get a M.A. (in absentia) on 27 June 1911.

Ordained as Deacon in 1904, Hubert Spink became Curate of St Philip, Orrell Hey (Litherland) in Liverpool. From 1905–1909 he was Curate at St Cyprian, Edge Hill. During both of these appointments he was regularly travelling across the Pennines to Durham to continue his studies. In 1909 he travelled to Hong Kong, to take up the appointment of Vicar of St Andrew’s Church in Kowloon. Although there is little information about Spink’s work in this parish, he is noted for founding the first Scout troop, or a corps of the Boys’ Brigade with Scout training, in Hong Kong. He left the Far East in 1912 and returned to Liverpool, becoming Vicar of St Clement, Toxteth Park. In 1913 he was appointed president of the Liverpool Boys’ Brigade.

On the outbreak of war, Spink was keen to go with many of his parishioners as they flocked to the various Lancashire and Liverpool regiments, but being prevented by his bishop, it was not until January 1916 that he became a Chaplain 4th Class in the Army Chaplain’s Department, and so found his way to the front. He served with the 1/5th Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment, attached to the 166th (South Lancashire) Brigade, part of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

On 6 January the Battalion was sent to Hallencourt, near Abbeville, in order to relieve the French 88th Division, which was stationed south of Arras. In the Dulwich College War Record 1914-1919 [1923], Joseph Spink, Hubert’s brother, reports a conversation between them in May 1916 on a journey to Victoria Station, as the latter returned to France from a period of leave: “he told me that he could not expect to come back again if he did his duty as he conceived it should be done.”

The 55th Division moved to the Somme in July and took over a section of the front line near Guillemont. On 9 August Hubert Spink was killed on the front line at Delville Wood while ministering to the wounded and supervising the retrieval and burial of the dead, or “while reading the Burial Office in a place while exposed to hostile fire” (Durham University Journal, December 1916, p.368; the same issue carried a perceptive article on ‘Religion at the Front’). He had been wounded three times in the previous 48 hours and had refused to go to the rear while he could still assist the men. Another chaplain, exhausted from his duties, had asked Spink for assistance, and in so doing, Spink was killed by a shell. His death is described in a memoir by Philip J. Fisher, a fellow chaplain, Khaki Vignettes (1917).

“Just before midnight a messenger appears from one of the battalions in the line asking for my colleague [Spink] to go and bury some dead. Very reluctantly I go across the field to our little tunnel bed-chamber and awake him. He reads the message, and decides to go at once. I watch him while he puts on boots and tunic; then return to the dressing station with him and see him off in a motor ambulance, up to the 'Valley of the Shadow' ['…of Death' as the men called it], promising to carry on until he returns.

The hours go by, and we are very busy down below. One battalion has been shelled on the way up, the casualties keep coming in… We are so closely occupied that I scarcely notice the passage of time; only once or twice the thought passes - "He hasn't got back yet." There are many letters to write to mothers and wives who will be anxious; there are those who crave a listener for the relief of speech; there is one poor lad with bad shellshock who lies trembling violently, and tries to jump off the stretcher every time a gun goes off. One has to soothe him, grip his hand, assure him he is as safe as if he were in bed in his Scottish home… Then with a start, I realise that it is 3 o'clock in the morning. Where can my colleague be? For a moment I am filled with apprehension; then I tell myself that he has found them busy at a dressing station farther up, and has stayed to help; that would be just like him. But presently a wounded lad comes in who beckons to me. He has seen a chaplain lying by the roadside up there, he says, in the middle of the fallen lads. Yes, he is sure it was a chaplain; he saw the black on his shoulder straps. The first impulse is to rush out and go find him; but the wounded are still coming in… There is nothing to be done just now but to "carry on" with a choking heart. Four o'clock… five o'clock… six o'clock… The stream of suffering slackens and presently ceases for a time. Then we get a light ambulance car which is standing by, resting for the first time since last evening, and seek what we fear…

It was all too true! He lay in the dust by the roadside, with half a dozen boys of his own battalion lying dead around him. I had seen him aforetime with just such a half-dozen about him, his face lit up with the light of his Master's service, talking earnestly and lovingly to them, preparing them for confirmation. I closed those eyes that had been sometimes so deeply thoughtful, sometimes so alive with laughter, and brushed the dust from the black-edged shoulder straps that he had worn so worthily. I knelt by the side of the stretcher for a few moments, trying to realise it, while many happy, trivial details of our association returned to mind; how we had walked one evening in that other valley, arm linked in arm, singing together common recollections of "Olivet to Calvary", of a night when we stumbled our way together up the dark trenches because he thought he might be wanted there; of other evenings when the day's work over, we waxed merry over a simple game of dominoes; of talks about men and about the Kingdom of God. I pressed the cold hand in the Christian's au revoir, and with heaviness of spirit mounted my bicycle and went off to bear the news to those behind. As I went I seemed to see his best memorial graven again and again in many a soldier lad's heart that had known his spirit's impress: Hubert Spink, Faithful Servant of God.”

Philip J. Fisher, Khahi Vignettes (1917), p.96 et seq.

Hubert Spink was aged 38 at his death, and unmarried. He is buried in Dive Copse British Cemetery at Sailly-le-Sac. His sacrifice is commemorated on rolls of honour at St Clement’s C. of E. Church, Liverpool, and at St Andrew’s Church, Kowloon. His name was also recorded on a plaque at Christ Church, Gipsy Hill in London, but which was destroyed by fire in 1982. In addition to St Clement’s, Hubert Spink’s name is remembered in Liverpool on the Southport Civic Memorial. A reredos is dedicated to members of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department at All Saints’ Royal Garrison Church at Aldershot.

Additional sources: a fuller biography, upon which this is largely based, has been written by Simon Stanley; the portrait image of H. O. Spink is reproduced here courtesy of St Clement's C.of E. Church, Toxteth.
Research contributors: Linda Macdonald, Joyce Malcolm, Simon Stanley, David Youngson.
Image of The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) cap badge

The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) cap badge

Second Lieutenant Thomas Walter Doyle

Thomas Walter Doyle was born in 1888 at Kidderminster, the son of Thomas Joseph, a brewer’s cooper originally from Liverpool, and Ann Maria Doyle from Langley. Having been a clerk in an iron works in 1911, his work in the Sunday School at Langley Green inspired him to try for the Church. After much out-of-hours studying, and saving, he passed his matriculation exams for the University of Durham in Arts and Theology in October 1914. Initially a Non-Collegiate student, that is, resident in Durham but not one of the university’s colleges, he became a member of St John’s Hall in Michaelmas 1915, intending to become a minister of the Church.

Having been a member of the university’s Officers Training Corps, he enlisted and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in January 1916 in 17th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own). Attached to the 16th battalion, he was deployed on 7 July 1916 and died having been gassed at the front at Poperinghe only two days later on 9 August 1916: the battalion war diary records the phosgene gas attack occurring at a moment when the battalion was being relieved by units from the Somerset Light Infantry, the trenches “crowded with men”.

Doyle is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery at West Vlaanderen in Belgium, with a poignant epitaph from his mother. “Oh for a glimpse of the grave where you’re laid only to lay a flower at your head. Mother.” Tribute was paid to him at a memorial service as “a trusty companion, a robust Christian, and an ever ready and willing worker”. He is commemorated in a memorial window now in the Zion United Reformed Church, Langley Green, Birmingham, and also on the memorial in St John’s College chapel. His mother, living at 38 Farm Road in Langley Green, also presented a communion set to his church in his honour.

Additional sources: image of the cap badge of the The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Langley Local History Society, The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.
Image of The King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge (IWM INS 5535). Reproduced under the  IWM Non Commercial Licence.

King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge (IWM INS 5535)

Captain Osborne Arthur C. Mottram

Osborne Arthur Mottram was born in 1893 in Sussex, a second son to Montague Robert Mottram, a master mariner in the Merchant Navy, and Maud Sanxay Mottram, née Barwell. In 1901 the family was living at Worthing in West Sussex, and by which date Maud Mottram had been widowed, with two sons, Francis and Osborne. In the 1911 census, the family had moved to Southport, Lancashire, and Osborne Mottram was described as a student for Holy Orders.

He entered the University of Durham in Michaelmas term 1912 as an Arts Student in Hatfield Hall. After passing his first year examination in Arts, he read Honours Theology and is recorded as passing the General Bible Paper for the B.A. in litteris antiquis (i.e. including Greek and Latin) in the Easter term of 1914. But there is no record thereafter of a degree having been conferred. He rowed in the Hatfield Hall and University boat crews, was a member of the University O.T.C., the Choral Society and Durham Union Society, becoming President of the latter for the Michaelmas Term 1914. However, he was not able to take up his presidency having joined up in the summer of 1914. A photograph survives in Durham University’s archives of Mottram with a group of his friends at an O.T.C. training camp at Stobs near Hawick in the Scottish Borders that summer, just before the war began.

In late 1914, due to his experience won as a cadet of the O.T.C., Mottram was quickly made temporary second lieutenant; a first commission as such in October was cancelled within the month, but he was gazetted a second time in November. In June 1915 he was appointed a temporary captain, and by 1916 was serving at that rank with 7th Battalion, King’s Regiment (Liverpool), part of 165th Infantry Brigade, 55th (West Lancs. Division).

The battalion took part in an attack in the area of Guillemont village on 8/9 August 1916, sustaining very heavy casualties. This attack was one of a series in preparation of a much larger offensive planned by the British Fourth Army that would take place 3-6 September. The battalion’s war diary makes a brief record of Mottram’s death:

“Small attack on German Trenches. Captain O. MOTTRAM, 2/Lt E.R. THOMAS
AND 2/Lt MATTHEWS Killed, 2/Lieuts T.A. LYON, R.F. MARKEY, E.S. TAYLOR & Capt W. Paton wounded.”

War diary of 7th Battalion, King’s Regiment (Liverpool), 9 August 1917 (Ref: WO 95/2927/1).

Osborne Mottram is buried in Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt. His sacrifice is commemorated at Hatfield College on a war memorial plaque, and on the war memorial in the Church of St John the Baptist, Kirdford and Plaistow in West Sussex.

Additional sources: image of The King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge is © IWM (INS 5535) and is reproduced under the IWM Non-Commercial Licence.
Research contributors: Alisoun Roberts.

17 August 1916

Image of the Manchester Regiment cap badge (Crown copyright)

Manchester Regiment cap badge (Crown copyright)

Captain William Manstead Benton

William was born in July 1873, the eldest son of Thomas Mansford Benton, a prosperous merchant and stockbroker who lived in Royal Avenue, Chelsea. He was said to be an emotional, headstrong boy who ran away three times from Framlingham College in Suffolk where he was a boarder; though he was also a prefect, winner of an elocution medal and essay prize, and member of the school’s football and cricket teams for three years until he left in 1890, the year of his father’s death.

His extraordinary life is recounted in Sportsmen Parsons in Peace and War ([?1919]) and in a biography on the Old Framlinghamians website which contains pictures of him, his grave and the college war memorial, and transcripts of letters.

These recount how William became a stockbroker with his inheritance, but when the money ran out he enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery on 8 April 1896. The discipline did not agree with him so he deserted and ran off to Australia and changed his name to Richard White. He served as Alfred Richard White, Gunner no. 2603, with the Australian Rifle Corps in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), and remained in South Africa after the war in the Cape Mounted Police. He then took a job as cook/handyman at a leper colony on Robben Island.

His life changed completely at this point due to the preaching of a missioner, Father Fitzgerald, and the influence of Father Clinton Engleheart, Chaplain to the lepers, and he came to regret his past way of life. He became reconciled with his step-mother and family and determined to become a clergyman. It was necessary to submit to a court-martial when he returned to England in 1905 and resume his own name, (though he still sometimes used the name Dick): his Boer War service won him a King’s Pardon. He passed the Theological Colleges entry examination in 1905 and went to Litchfield College where he was ordained deacon in 1907. He then came to Durham, passing the first year’s theological examinations as an unattached student in the Easter Term of 1907, and subsequently returned to Lichfield where he was ordained priest in 1909.

He was an unconventional curate at Walsall, living in the rough end of the parish where he offered “free beer and baccy” for any man who wanted a chat and organised boxing matches. His health suffered, and two years later, after a haemorrhage, he went to Switzerland to convalesce. He then returned to South Africa where he worked in various parishes, and later made his way back to Robben Island. His health now restored, he married, returned to England, and in 1912 became Curate-in-charge at Holy Cross Church, Bearsted in Kent.

One Palm Sunday after being threatened in an anonymous letter he preached a sermon about a redeemed sinner, and revealed that it was his own story, which disarmed those who had criticised his unorthodox methods and prompted a hunt for the letter writer by the choir, outraged on behalf of their popular priest. He also found time to play first class cricket, and played twice for Middlesex in 1913.

In August 1914 when war broke out he enlisted as a chaplain and then served in hospitals and clearing stations in France. In April 1915 he resigned and took a commission as a temporary lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment which had fought in the Boer War and appreciated his fighting experience. He was made Brigade Sniping Officer and soon promoted to captain. He was wounded first on the forearm, then later in the left thigh, and convalesced at home. He then went to Ripon where he trained men in sniping, disguise, and observation, before returning to France in February 1916 to join the 12th Battalion of his regiment in the 17th Division of 51 Brigade on the Somme.

On 8 August William’s wife received a letter from a fellow officer saying that he had been shot by snipers on 4 August while rescuing a wounded man after a failed attack, and had spent the night in the open. He was treated in hospital and had his right leg amputated but was not able to overcome infection and died of his wounds on 17 August 1916.

He is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Méricourt L’Abbé, and is commemorated on a war memorial and a plaque at Bearsted, and on war memorials at Herne and at Framlingham College.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of the Manchester Regiment is Crown copyright.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson

20 August 1916

Image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge ( by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Major William Neville Pitt

William Neville Pitt was born on 12 September 1880 in the Kirkee military cantonment at Poona, Bombay (now Mumbai), the son of Colonel William Pitt, C.M.G. and Mary Pitt née Brindley. A sister, Mary Winifred, and a brother, James Maxwell, followed in 1882 and 1888; both were born in England. William Pitt attended Haileybury School in Hertfordshire from 1894 to 1896, and then Sandhurst, passing out in the Senior Devision in June 1900.

He quickly went on active service, for he served with the Lincolnshire Regiment in the Second Boer War and received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with 5 clasps. He was commissioned second lieutenant on 11 August 1900, and lieutenant on 14 June 1902, and served in 3rd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment. Ill-health forced him temporarily onto half-pay in August 1905, but he quickly recovered. He then retired in 1910 as a Captain on half pay in the Special Reserve, in order to follow a career in the Church. His service records are held at the National Archives in London.

In December 1911 he passed the non-graduates Central Entrance Examination for the Theology College, Salisbury, and he matriculated at Durham in the Epiphany term of 1913 as an unattached student. He completed there the first part of his Theology studies successfully, but did not complete his studies and so never gained his Licentiate – the war presumably intervened. Students at Theological Colleges associated with the university at this time were permitted to register as unattached students and be examined at Durham, and in this way could obtain University of Durham degrees. During this time he was resident first at Enham House, Knights Enham near Andover, with his parents, and then at Holmeside Elm Grove, Salisbury. William Pitt married Lucy Graham Walker (d.1959) in the summer of 1911, and a son named Neville Maxwell Francis Peter Pitt was born on 5 July 1916, only six weeks before his father’s death: he would go on to follow a career in medicine.

It is not yet known exactly when William Pitt returned to active service, but on 11 March 1916 he was gazetted Temporary Major, and was second in command of 2nd Battalion when he was killed. The battalion’s war diary (WO 95/1730 page 144) notes a lot of incoming and outgoing artillery and trench mortar fire over 16-19 August, during which period Major Pitt was wounded: he succumbed to his wounds on 20 August 1916. His unit was at the time occupying the Quarries Sector near Loos: a detailed account of the battalion’s movements at this time is available online. He is buried at Chocques Military Cemetery. William Pitt is commemorated, with his brother, in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Stansted, on a marble memorial: they had been the only surviving sons of Colonel William Pitt, R.E. (d. 1933) and his wife Mary James (d. 1949). William Pitt’s brother Lieutenant James Maxwell Pitt, an adjutant in 1st Battalion, Dorset Regiment, had been killed in France on 13 October 1914.

Additional sources: image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Colleen Stansfield; Mike Stansfield.

21 August 1916

Image of 2nd Lt. Edmund S. Turner

2nd Lt. Edmund S. Turner

Second Lieutenant Edmund Sanctuary Turner

Edmund Sanctuary Turner, was the third son of Rev. William Turner of Blacktoft, Yorkshire, and his wife Harriet (neé Swales of Ripon), and the grandson of Dugdale Turner and Sarah Sanctuary, hence his unusual middle name. He was born on 19 November 1885 at Gainford, County Durham. An older brother, Harold Francis Dugdale Turner would also go on to serve and survive the war.

Edmund Turner attended St John’s School at Leatherhead from 1896 to December 1903. There he played in the 1st XI Cricket and Football teams in 1903 and was awarded full colours for Football. The school magazine, The Johnian, records that Turner was 14th monitor and a member of North House.

After leaving St John’s, Turner attended Hatfield Hall, Durham University, and was awarded a B.A. in Classical Literature in 1907. Throughout his university career Turner was a part of the Durham Colleges football, cricket and rugby teams. The earliest recorded matches Turner participated in were in Durham Colleges A.F.C. in October and November 1905. During this period his success as a footballer and cricketer was frequently recorded in the university’s Journal: in a match between Durham Colleges and the Bohemians on 24 February 1906 Turner was moved into the forward line, and Durham Collages won 9-2, Turner scoring two of the goals. Hatfield Hall Association Football Club reported, “the prospects of the H.H.A.F.C. are unusually bright this season. Of the four colour-men who are up, Turner, at half, is considerably improved, and ought to make an efficient captain. We are pleased to say that he is playing for the ’Varsity.”

Image of [Durham Colleges] football team, in Castle courtyard, [1905 x 1907] (Ref: UND/GD38/EA1907)

[Durham Colleges] football team, in Castle courtyard, [1905 x 1907] (Ref: UND/GD38/EA1907)

A photograph survives from this time, of Turner (second from the left on the front row) in the Hatfield College football team. Seated on his right is Ronald Mutimer, who like Turner, went on to teach at Darlington School. He too was killed in action on 23 July 1917 while also serving in the Royal Garrison Artillery. By 1911 Edmund Turner was boarding at 34 Larchfield Street in Darlington. There he taught mathematics at Darlington Grammar School.

Image of E.S. Turner's identity tag (Private collection)

E.S. Turner's identity tag (Private collection)

After War broke out in August 1914 Edmund Turner enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery as a gunner. He then served with the Expeditionary Force in France, entering the theatre of war with his unit on 19 May 1915. He was promoted to corporal and then to second lieutenant, gazetted on the 25 Sept 1915. After a period of officer training at home he returned to the front in August 1916 where he joined the 116th Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery, which was contributing to the intensive shelling during the Battle of the Somme. He was killed in action on 21 August while on his way up to his battery’s observation post. (His death is mis-dated on his Commonwealth War Graves record as 1 August 1916.)

Image of 2nd Lt. E. S. Turner with fellow officers (Private collection)

2nd Lt. E. S. Turner with fellow officers (Private collection)

Major J. Samuels wrote: “I was Commanding Officer of Lieut. Turner from the time he was commissioned in the 3/1 Welsh RGA until he was sent to the front. May I record that he was a pattern officer and beloved by his brother officers and men and his untimely death is deeply regretted by us all”. Information from the archives of St John’s School also states that his C.O. wrote how struck he was by Turner’s coolness under fire and by his keenness.

Edmund Turner was first buried in Vernon Street cemetery but later re-interred in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery at Mametz, and is commemorated on rolls of honour compiled by St John’s School, Leatherhead, Darlington Grammar School, Darlington Town Council, Du Ruvigny, and Durham University. He is also remembered on war memorials at St John’s School and St Peter’s Church, Redcar. There is a memorial plaque to him in Holy Trinity Church, Blacktoft. Short biographies are also published by the North East War Memorials Project and by Judith Walker.

Additional sources: the photographs of Turner’s identity tag, and of him with his fellow officers are reproduced with the permission of Judith Walker. The photograph of the Durham Colleges football team was donated to Durham University by Judith Walker.
Research contributors: Caroline Craggs, Katie Mitford, Sally Todd, Archivist of St John’s School, Leatherhead, Judith Walker.

23 August 1916

Image of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry cap badge

The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry cap badge

Lieutenant Walter Rowland Heath

Walter Rowland Heath was born c. 1879 in Strood, Kent, the youngest son of Richard Heath and his wife Jane Elizabeth (née Waller). He attended Hatfield Hall with a Lightfoot Scholarship from 1898, and was granted a B.A. in 1901 and a M.A. in 1904. Walter won many academic prizes and also excelled at sport, being President of the University Boat Club in 1900, a member of the Cricket Club and the Rugby Club, which he captained in 1900, and also played Football, Fives and Chess.

He became Assistant Master at Bloxham All Saints’ School, Oxfordshire for a short time. From 1903 until the war he worked for the Education Department of the Egyptian Government in Cairo.

In July 1915 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion of the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and for a time held a staff appointment with a temporary rank of Captain as an Inspector of Physical Training and Bayonet Drill. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant on 8 June 1916. After only a month at the front he was killed in action 23 August 1916. His battalion was in trenches between Ovillers and Thiepval that afternoon, and two companies were tasked with an attack, Heath in command of A Company. The regiment’s annual chronicle makes clear the scale of the disaster.

“From 1 p.m. to 2.45 p.m. the heavy artillery carried out a bombardment which not only had no effect on the enemy trenches, but in fact served to define the precise limits of the objective. At 3 p.m. an intense bombardment was put down for five minutes by the Field Artillery, under cover of which the assault was launched. The barrage was good, but evidently short, as, when it lifted, the attacking troops had still some way to go, and the enemy was manning the trenches thickly, apparently very little affected by it, and firing hard on our men. In addition, the enemy barrage came down immediately after our own. The result of this was that casualties were very heavy and progress impossible. 2nd Lieut. Bates, who was commanding C Company, ran forward to try and push the position, but was instantly killed. ... On the left A Company's fate was much the same, 2nd Lieut. Heath being killed. ... The result was that the remnants of the two companies had to lie where they were until dark. ... The losses in the two companies ... were irreparable, and in 2nd Lieuts. Bates and Heath the Battalion lost two very able and gallant officers.”

The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Chronicle 1916-1917

Having no known grave Walter Heath’s sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also remembered on a memorial plaque at Hatfield College, and on the Bloxham School Roll of Honour. Heath’s posthumous war decorations came up for auction in 2011.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Heather Ross, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

15 September 1916

Image of the King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

Rifleman Joseph Neall

Joseph Neall was born on 16 October 1895, the eldest son of Henry Neall and Emily, formerly Dunderdale, née Fowler. Henry Neall had worked as a railwayman, bricklayer and labourer. Joseph Neall had four half-siblings, three of whom also served in the war, and four younger full siblings. He grew up at 11 Morley’s Yard in Brigg, Lincolnshire. A bright boy, he was awarded a scholarship to Brigg Grammar School in 1908. He was also an able sportsman, playing football for the school. He left in 1913 to become an assistant teacher at the Brigg National School.

In August 1915 John Thomas Dunderdale, Emily Neall’s eldest son, was killed in action while serving with the 6th Lincolnshire Regiment at Gallipoli. He left a widow and four children. John T. Dunderdale enlisted in 1914 and with his unit had been deployed to Gallipoli with the 33rd Brigade of the 11th Northern Division. Two of his brothers were also in military service, and survived the war: Charles Ernest Dunderdale also enlisted into the Lincolnshire Regiment and served with the 8th and 5th Battalions, reaching the rank of Corporal; Albert E. Dunderdale enlisted into the Lincolnshire Regiment but was subsequently transferred to the Royal Defence Corps.

At the outbreak of war, Joseph Neall was working as a student teacher in Brigg National School. In order to qualify as a teacher he entered St Peter's College, Peterborough, but due to the war this college was closed not long after Joseph Neall began his studies there, and the college’s remaining students were transferred to Bede College, another teacher training institution, in Durham.

On 2 December 1915, before his training at Bede College was complete, Neall enlisted at Sheffield into 21st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and then joined his unit at their training camp at Duncombe Park, near Helmsley. Also in the same cohort were James Proctor (another Peterborough College man), Robert Kellett, and Jacob Crabb, the four Bede men all serving together. The battalion entered France on 6 May 1916.

On 15 September 1916, as part of the 41st Division, Joseph Neall's battalion advanced from Delville Wood in attempt to capture the village of Fler during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (noted for the first use of the tank), which, despite heavy losses, was a qualified success for the allied forces. Neall was one of 128 men in his unit to lose their lives in the day's action. A full detailed description of the attack is given in the battalion’s war diaries (WO 95/2643/4).

In the following weeks James Proctor wrote a piece recalling "My first experience of real fighting" and his thoughts on the loss of his Peterborough and Bede comrades.

“ After twenty months of continual active service in Belgium and France, I must consider myself very fortunate to be alive to write this account of an experience which, like so many more, I had during my time on foreign soil. All my Bede comrades who were in the same Battalion have been killed so I am alone in being able to give a description of the first time we went over the parapet.
It was a fine September morning, all was calm, and no one would have imagined that there really was a war raging or that a battle was imminent. We were in "no man's land" ready to dash on the Germans as soon as zero hour approached. The sector was just in front of Delville Wood. We could see the pretty villages of Flers and Gueudecourt in the distance. In front of us also were fields of ripening wheat, which were all destroyed on the same day.
At last zero hour approached, the guns "boomed" and the German front line was bombarded. This was a barrage, the first I had seen. We had to wait until the barrage was lifted and the second line was bombarded before making our attack. It was 3.30 a.m. when we received the order to advance. We were having a meal of bread and jam at the time so had very little idea of our real duty. We soon discovered what we had to do, and before long we had taken several hundred prisoners. The tanks were advancing with us, this was the first time they had been used. Continuing our advance we reached Flers. This place was strongly defended with machine-guns. Jack Spraggon and Joe Neall were both killed while helping to capture this village. Before 7 a.m. it was in our hands, but at what price, we had already lost five hundred men. The village which we had seen earlier in the morning was now beyond recognition. As with its capture our final objective was reached, we had to dig a new line of trenches on the further side of Flers. While this was being done our brave Colonel the Earl of Feversham was killed. I was not at all comfortable for I began to wonder when my time was to come. What a relief it was when at 11 p.m. the same day we were relieved by a Yorkshire battalion. Out of 1100 strong only 252 answered the roll. Jake Crabb was one of them but was unfortunately killed a few days later.
I have been in several attacks since that memorable one, but that is one I shall never forget, for I had lost two of my four Bede Comrades. Their resting place is in Flers village.
I shall always cherish the memory of Bede and shall rejoice when the time arrives for it to re-open, for indeed I look forward to spending the few remaining months of my College career there when the war is over.”

The Bede magazine, vol. 14, no. 2, April 1918.

Proctor later contributed another fuller account for The Bede magazine in August 1918, "At the capture of Flers", describing the action and this time detailing how Jack Spraggon and Joseph Neall died.

“ I have very vague recollections of the actual advance at Flers. The task of marching up to the front was very gruelling indeed. We began our march at 5 o'clock in the evening and did not reach the hastily constructed front line until 4 a.m. the following morning. The trench was very narrow owing to insufficient digging, for the completion of the work had been prevented by the heavy shelling of Delville Wood. On our arrival our first thought was of a good meal so we commenced eating our rations. I remember having a loaf of bread and a tin of jam, so I enjoyed a very good meal. Our next task was to fix our telephone which was easily done. One fortunate man was detailed to stay behind and operate the telephone, so he was thought comparatively safe. Before finally leaping the parapet we laid our wire on the ground as near to the German front line as our courage would allow.
The time for leaping the parapet came at last. I was half asleep at the time so that I cannot remember much. I looked to the left of me and to the right. On the left was the New Zealand Division, on the right the Guards' Division. It was one endless line of khaki. The barrage suddenly commenced so we made a dash for the German front line. Prisoners soon streamed in towards our line only after unwillingly leaving their machine guns, which played havoc in our line although fortunately they did not hit me. We soon reeled our wire out and were very quickly in communication with the operator in our front line. Three important messages were sent by me, under the Colonel's instructions, which were not long in being received at Brigade Headquarters. The contents were chiefly relating to our present position and success. Our wire having run out, we had to leave another signaller to operate this second telephone. We had lost heavily owing to machine gun fire, but had advanced a mile and a half, and had captured Flers. This place was practically unrecognisable. All I can remember is the capture of a field battery and the destruction among the German Infantry caused by one of our tanks which helped us considerably in the capture of the village. Our only communication, now at this point, was by runner and aeroplanes. I did not see much air fighting but many machines were brought down. All my attention was devoted to the opposition which we had against us.
After reaching the far side of Flers, our first thought was to erect a means of defence in case of a counter attack. We hastily dug a new line of trenches to defend the village. At first we were not subject to much shelling, but as soon as the enemy discovered our position by observation by aeroplane we were subject to very heavy bombardment. We knew a counter attack was impending for we could see the Germans massing. So we informed our artillery who practically annihilated the opposing force. We had at this time spent eight hours in these trenches. I was very tired indeed and could hardly keep awake. After two more hours we were relieved by a Yorkshire battalion and were not long in leaving.
During all this time I was separated from Spraggon and Neall, who were acting as bombers. My work of signalling caused me to go with the Signal Section. So my knowledge, as to how they met their end, is only gathered from people who were with them. Spraggon was the first to be killed. We were advancing on Flers when a shell burst near him, killing him instantly.
Neall advanced much further than Spraggon. According to accounts received from others, Neall's pouch was hit by a bullet, his bullets exploded and severely wounded his side. He did not die immediately, but only lived a few minutes. I saw Neall in the trench before going over, he was very high-spirited at the time.
Crabb was corporal at this time, he was in charge of a section of bombers. I never saw him once during the attack, but I conversed with him when we finally reached Fricourt. We were both unshaven, unwashed and fearfully dirty. All we could say was 'Give me Bede College again.'”

The Bede magazine vol. 14, no. 2, August 1918.

While Proctor notes only 252 answered the roll call at the end of the day, out of 1100 men of the battalion to start the advance that morning, the war diary records more exactly, 4 officers and 54 other ranks killed, 10 officers and 756 other ranks wounded, and 70 other ranks missing. In contrast to Proctor's accounts, the war diary also notes that the battalion "suffered rather heavily through getting too near to our own barrage". R.P. Kellett was killed in March 1917.

Joseph Neall’s obituary in the Lincolnshire Star reads:

“We much regret to announce that Rifleman J Neal (sic) of the 21st Batt. Kings Royal Rifle Corps has been killed in action in France, his mother, Mrs. Neal of Morley Yard receiving the official notice yesterday (Friday) afternoon. It will be remembered by his many friends that Rifleman Neal, who was a clever youth, won a scholarship for the Grammar School and at the time of enlisting was at Durham College where he was training for the teaching profession. He was only 21 years of age on October 16th and his mother had had a large decorated cake made, to send to him to celebrate the occasion, which will not, it is to be regretted, ... [be] required. Much sympathy is felt for the mother who has previously lost another son in the Dardanelles, and in addition to that she has another son who was wounded in France, only within a few days of his brother's death, and still another son is serving in Ireland which is, we think, a good record of patriotic service.”

Lincolnshire Star, September 1916.

In the same patriotic tone, Brigg Grammar School's magazine included the following poem entitled 'In Memoriam J.R.S. and J.N.' dedicated to Joseph Neall and to John Riley Salisbury, another former pupil killed on the Somme.

BEHOLD the rich green flow'ring fields of wheat,
Clothing the fertile valley slopes, and soon
To yield th'expectant yeoman their rich boon
Of golden grain matured by summer heat!
But far away on hills, where wild goats bleat
Their plaintive protest, broke the storm, which filled
The vale with floods, and swept the fields well tilled
With patient toil, and doomed their prospects sweet.
So these we mourn gave promise, for the years
To come, of richest fruit; but war's mad rage
Destroyed their youth, and turned our hopes to tears
And yet life's crown falls not alone to age,
And years are not the measure of man's life,
But sacrifice and courage in God's strife.

The Briggensian magazine, 1916.

Joseph Neall's sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. At Brigg Joseph Neall is remembered in the Church of St John the Evangelist on a triptych memorial and in the Royal British Legion Brigg Branch Book of Remembrance. The Brigg war memorial includes the names of Joseph Neall and his half-brother John Thomas Dunderdale. The war memorial of the Sir John Nelthorpe School at Brigg also records Joseph Neall alongside the names of other former pupils who gave their lives in the first world war. Neall’s name is also recorded on the the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: thread on the Great War Forum, including several images; Lincs to the Past.
Research contributors: Tim Brown, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

Rifleman John Clayton Spraggon

John Clayton Spraggon was born in York on 13 May 1896, the only son of John Spraggon of Shotley Bridge, Durham, a gardener, and Annie Elizabeth Spraggon (née Umpleby) of Kippax, Yorkshire. The family later moved to New Brancepeth, Durham, where John attended New Brancepeth Council School before enrolling in Durham Johnston School in 1908.

In 1914 Spraggon entered Bede College. He took the first year examination for the Archbishop’s Certificate, but was unable to complete the examination in the second year as he had enlisted as a rifleman with the 21st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 13 December 1915.

The 21st Battalion sailed from Southampton to Havre on the S.S. Marguerite, disembarking on 6th May 1916 to take part in the offensive on the Somme. After months of training and conducting smoke and gas operations against the enemy, the battalion fought in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the morning of 15 September 1916. Some of Spraggon’s fellow riflemen that day were also Bede men, and one of those who survived, James Proctor, gave two accounts of this battle in The Bede magazine in 1918, and which are quoted in full in the biography of Joseph Neall, who was killed on the same day.

They went over the top very early that morning and advanced towards Flers. Though they captured many prisoners and some ground, including Flers itself, the battalion also suffered heavy casualties as the village was strongly defended. The battalion’s war diary also notes some casualties from the creeping allied barrage as well. Spraggon and a fellow Bede man, Joseph Neall, were acting as bombers and were killed in the advance: “Spraggon was the first to be killed. … a shell burst near him, killing him instantly”. While the mission to capture Flers was successful, the writer asks “but at what price, we had already lost five hundred men” (The Bede magazine, April 1918, p.21).

John Spraggon’s body was never identified, and his sacrifice is therefore commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. He is also remembered on the Durham Johnston School war memorial plaque, the New Brancepeth monument, and the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: research undertaken by pupils at Durham Johnston School on those former pupils commemorated on the school’s First World War memorial.
Research contributors: David Butler, Jenna Fawcett, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Charles H. Yeaman

Charles Henry Yeaman was born on 11 May 1890 to Robert and Annie Yeaman, the youngest son in a family of eleven children living in Gateshead. Robert Yeaman was a schoolmaster who had himself been a student at Bede 1870-1871, rising to become a headmaster before retiring in 1916 after 47 years in the profession. Robert maintained his connection with Bede throughout his long career and is mentioned attending a Bede College dinner as late as 1938. When he died in August 1940, aged 89, a short obituary in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle credited him with being the oldest former pupil of Bede College.

Charles Yeaman was educated at a number of council schools in Gateshead before becoming a pupil teacher. The Elementary Education Act 1870 provided for training to take place at specialist pupil—teacher centres alongside teaching practice at elementary schools. Charles attended the Gateshead Pupil—Teacher Centre for three years while assisting at Shipcote and Victoria Road Council Schools. He then trained at Bede College in Durham 1910-1912, and in the 1911 Census is recorded as being resident at the college. In April 1912 Charles passed the examination for the Archbishops’ Certificate and on completion of his training in July that year became a Certified Assistant at Dunston Hill Council School, an impressive building that still exists at Four Lane Ends, Dunston.

Whilst at Bede College Charles had been a member of the Durham University Officer Training Corps, and consequently he was quickly promoted from the senior division of the Durham University Contingent to probationary second-lieutenant on 28 January 1916. In February 1916 he was given permission to enlist by the County Council Education Committee and joined the 3/7th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. His military career was brief: he was admitted to Armstrong College Hospital in Newcastle with appendicitis and died on 15 September 1916.

On 19 September Charles was given a military funeral and buried at St Edmund’s Church, Old Durham Road, Gateshead. The Newcastle Journal carried an extensive report describing his coffin, draped with the Union Jack, being borne on a gun carriage with six of his fellow officers as pallbearers and accompanied by a military band. A firing party of 40 men fired a volley over his grave in Gateshead East Cemetery.

Charles is commemorated on the Durham County Council war memorial, and the County Archives have published a short biography (with posthumous portrait), from which this article has drawn. A stained glass window and plaque were dedicated in September 1920 by Archdeacon Percy Derry at St Edmund’s Church, but both were lost when the church was demolished in the 1960s. While Charles Yeaman’s grave is acknowledged by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his name is not listed on any Bede College war memorial.

Additional sources: the oil painting portrait of Charles Yeaman is in the Durham Light Infantry Museum collections (Ref: D/DLI 7/800/1).
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Judith Vincent.

16 September 1916

Image of Sgt George McPherson (Ref: E/HB 2/654)

Sgt George McPherson (Ref: E/HB 2/654)

Sergeant George McPherson

George McPherson, born on 7 June 1887 in Longtown, Cumbria, was the youngest son of William and Jane McPherson. William McPherson was then working for the North British Railway company as a Permanent Way Inspector - indeed Longtown was primarily a railway centre, with a considerable Scottish community. George McPherson had three elder brothers, and four half-siblings by his father’s first marriage to Jane Irving. He attended Carlisle Grammar School, as a pupil-teacher in 1905-1906.

In 1906, George McPherson was admitted to Bede College and on completion of his two-year course was awarded his teaching certificate. By 1911 he was employed by Durham County Council as an Assistant Teacher at Coxhoe Church School and was boarding with the Morcome family at Co-operative Terrace, Coxhoe, together with a fellow teacher, Arthur Turner. Both men were well-known members of the local football and cricket teams and of the Coxhoe Rifle Club.

When war was announced George McPherson was quick to answer the call, enlisting in Stockton on 31 August 1914. He joined the 5th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and having received his first stripe was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force in April 1915 as a lance corporal. He was again promoted in July of that year and the 5th Battalion was involved in actions during the Second Battles of Ypres.

Not long after another promotion in May 1916, to lance sergeant, McPherson contracted rheumatic fever and was confined to the 23rd General Hospital and other medical facilities for some weeks. On re-joining his unit he was appointed Acting Sergeant. His promotion to sergeant was completed on 10 July 1916 following his attachment to 15th Battalion, D.L.I.

McPherson was posted missing on 16 September following fierce fighting around Flers and Courcelette, during which tanks were used for the first time. The initial view of these novel machines must have been terrifying for any soldier facing the attack, and probably even to the infantry following them into action. McPherson’s body was later located, and he is buried at Australian Imperial Force Burial Ground, Flers.

George McPherson is commemorated in Coxhoe with a plaque and a stained glass window at St Mary’s Church, a monument in front of the Literary Institute in Church Street, and in a memorial at the school in which he once taught, alongside his former colleague Arthur Turner. In Cumbria George McPherson is remembered at Trinity School, on the Longtown war memorial, and on a plaque and in the family memorial at Arthuret Church. His name is also recorded on the Durham County Council war memorial, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

17 September 1916

Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry.

Lieutenant Roland James Harris

Born on 17 September 1895 to James Edwin and Susannah Harris of Bilston, Staffordshire, Roland James Harris was the eldest of four children. Little is known of his early years, but by 1911 the family had moved to Stockton-On-Tees where his father worked as a sheet mill iron worker at Rolling Mill.

At the age of fifteen Roland sat the Oxford Junior Local examinations, and was 1st in all of England. This led to him being awarded a Council scholarship of £60 a year, and an Open Mathematical Scholarship of £70 at Durham as a Foundation Scholar. On enrolling at Hatfield College as a Modern Arts student at Michaelmas 1912, Roland won the University Mathematical scholarship and in the year 1913-1914 he achieved a 1st in his exams. Had he finished his studies at Durham, he intended to go on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had already won an open exhibition of £75 a year, but the war intervened.

At the outbreak of war Harris enlisted into the 6th Durham Light Infantry and was appointed as a second lieutenant; a promotion to temporary lieutenant followed on 2 March 1916. Roland Harris was killed in action on his 21st birthday, 17 September 1916. Elements from the battalion was involved that day in an attack on a strongpoint called The Crescent in the area of High Wood near Flers: two attempts were made by two bombing squads, led by Second Lieutenant Aubin, Brigade Bombing Officer, but the attacks were broken up by a barrage that preceded a large German attack on the whole Brigade in that sector. At what point Harris died is not clear. His unit’s actions that day are described in The Story of the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (1919), edited by Captain R.B. Ainsworth M.C. His body was never identified, and so his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial. Harris’s sacrifice is also commemorated in his home town of Stockton-on-Tees, in a Book of Remembrance in the church of St Thomas, and on plaques in the church of St Peter, in the Methodist church, and in the Secondary School. Harris’s name is also recorded on a plaque in the chapel of Hatfield College, Durham University.

Research contributors: Christine McGann, Joyce Malcolm.

29 September 1916

Durham Light Infantry cap badge.

Second Lieutenant Ralph Nathaniel Bewick

Ralph Nathaniel Bewick was born in 1890 in Guisborough, Yorkshire, the son of Charlton and Martha Bewick. Charlton Bewick was a successful outfitter, originally from nearby Loftus, and his wife Martha was from Gateshead, County Durham. Ralph Nathaniel, known as Nathaniel or ‘Nat’, was their sixth child of seven.

After primary school Ralph Bewick was admitted into the local grammar school Prior Pursglove College in Guisborough on 18 September 1901. He was a keen sportsman, playing in the school’s football XI in 1903. A match report of one game describes him as the team’s “bull-dog centre-half”, and that “opponents found him a hard nut to crack”. A report in the school magazine, The Guisborian, describing his part that year in the school’s Sports Day notes, “Bewick ran like a hare and quite out-distanced everybody, quite the surprise packet of the day”.

He taught as a pupil teacher at Stanghow Lane School, Skelton in Cleveland, where he is noted in the School Log Book four times. Aged twenty-one he decided to emigrate to Australia, sailing on 14 December 1911 on board the White Star liner S.S. “Persic”. Also travelling were seven other passengers listed as teachers: Robert H. Lefley, William F. Calvert, Robert Hutchison, G. P. Palmer, Walter Lowe, William A. C. Guy, and Mary Jolly. They all arrived at Adelaide on 14 January 1912 where Bewick disembarked.

In 1914 Bewick returned to England, intending to study at Bede College. He sailed into war on what must have been an eerie voyage from Brisbane on aboard the Orient Line’sS.S. “Orama”, docking at London on 24 August. He entered into Bede life, representing the college at rugby in March 1915 in a game against the Imperial Services. The Bede magazine also notes that he was one of the first year students intending to enlist in the armed services.

The exact date of his enlistment is unclear, but on 28 July 1915 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, home to many Bede College servicemen. The battalion took part in the Battle of the Somme from 1 July 1916 until the end of September 1916, when the original objective of Thiepval was finally captured. It was during the final phase of this series of battles that Bewick died. A D.L.I. diary published in The Bede magazine records his last action at Le Sars on 29 September 1916 as follows:

“The Battalion carries out a bombing raid along an old German C. T. [Communications Trench] which we were holding as a front line, meeting with great resistance, and, after our store of bombs had been exhausted, subject to heavy grenade fire from the German positions. In spite of heavy losses we succeed in holding on to our position. During this raid 2nd Lt. Bewick was killed and 2nd Lt. Wallace seriously wounded. Our stretcher-bearers did magnificent work on this occasion, rescuing our wounded from under the very feet of the Germans. Serjeant Chrisp earned his M.M. during this stunt.”

The Bede magazine, vol. 13, no. 2, April 1917, p.5

More details were published in the College’s 1916 Annual Report:

“On the night of September 29th-30th, in heavy fighting during which the 50th Division gained over two thousand yards in depth, and the [8th] Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, in which they were both Second-Lieutenants, took two lines of German trenches, Nathaniel Bewick and Robinson Wallace both gave their lives. The latter fell mortally wounded as he was hastening to his Company Commander from an advanced bombing post. The former was shot dead on the parapet of a German trench, as he was leading his men in an attack. The officer second in command of his Battalion writes of him: 'Bewick made a fine end. Everyone speaks of the splendid way in which he held on until he was killed. He fell in a night bombing attack after doing magnificent work. I thought very highly of him. He has done excellent work all through.'”

Bede College 75th Annual Report, 1916, p.9

The Thiepval Memorial, dedicated to the missing men from the Battle of the Somme, bears the names of 72,000 Officers and Men for whom there is no known grave: Ralph Nathaniel Bewick is one of them.

A tablet (Flickr image) dedicated to Nathaniel Bewick was unveiled in Saint Nicholas’s Church, Guisborough, on 20 February 1918 by G.C. Ruscoe, a contemporary who had served alongside him. Bewick’s father, Charlton Bewick, lived to see this, but died in December the same year. His mother, Martha, died in July 1929. He is also remembered on the Guisborough war memorial, and the Guisborough Grammar School War Honours Board.

His brother, William, an electrician, had followed him to Australia, arriving in Albany on 23 June 1913. William Bewick enlisted into the Australian army in 1914. He embarked at Freemantle for an unpublished destination aboard the S.S. “Koromiko”, a vessel of the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, sailing with 795 other members of G Company on 1 November 1914. He survived the war and continued to live in Freemantle until at least 1943, when he is listed as residing in 10 Norseman Street, Victoria Park. Nathaniel Bewick’s elder brother Charlton enlisted into Lord Helmsley’s Regiment of Yorkshire Hussars in October 1914. He also survived the war, and was discharged in August 1917, marrying in 1920.

Research contributors: Tim Brown; David Butler; Joyce Malcolm.

1 October 1916

Image of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Alfred Herbert

Little is known of William Herbert’s childhood. He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1911, entering St Chad’s Hall as an Arts student and winning a Theology scholarship. In 1912, he passed his first year Arts examination, and graduated in 1914 with a B.A. (2nd Class Theology Hons).

St Chad’s Hall was a relatively small community and welcomed enthusiastic students prepared to fully participate in active college life. Inter-collegiate sporting rivalry was as intense as today. In 1912 William Herbert was secretary of the Common Room. He was a keen cricketer and an even keener member of the Debating Society. In his final year at St Chad’s Hall he was elected President of this Society, having earlier taken part in numerous debates, particularly those concerned with suffrage and the underdogs of society. A lance corporal in the Officers’ Training Corps, he gained a certificate of competence in musketry at this time.

Having achieved his B.A., Herbert was ordained a deacon in Bristol Cathedral in September 1914 and was then appointed curate-in-charge of St Michael and All Angels’ church in Windmill Hill, Bedminster. Although the local population had grown to an extent that a second church in the parish was mooted as early as the 1880s this daughter church of St John’s in Bedminster was not finally completed until 1910.

Early in 1916 William Herbert married Iris Elsa Rogers at Christchurch, Dorset. Their married life was destined to be short as he seems to have joined the military around the same time.

Herbert is listed as a second lieutenant with the 9th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, prior to being transferred to the 8th Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. His medal index card states a date of 11 July 1916 for his disembarkation in France and this is the first firm date that can be attached to his service. During these early weeks of the Somme campaign initial training would probably have been as quick as practicable, so it’s possible his actual attestation was during the early summer of 1916, although this has not been yet been established.

During September and October 1916 the 14th Division was in action around Arras. The division was made up of a number of Light Infantry Battalions including the Duke of Cornwall’s L.I., the King’s Own Yorkshire L.I., and the Durham L.I., amongst others. The various battalions circulated between front line trench action and short periods in billets behind the lines for rest and recuperation. Heavy artillery was deployed on occasion as well as Lewis and Stokes machine guns in the trenches. Regimental diaries of the time indicate that a high tempo of action continued unabated for some weeks.

Second Lieutenant Herbert’s life was lost in early October. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission estimates that he died on 1 October 1916 or sometime shortly after that date. His body never having been identified his sacrifice is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

His wife and family had lost a loved one, and his parish of St Michael and All Angels also paid a high price, over both World Wars. The First World War saw 132 parishioners give their lives. Their Curate-in-Charge was remembered at the Vestry Meeting of the mother church, St John’s in Bedminster, in April 1917, and he was commemorated on a tablet and a memorial window which were unveiled in 1921. William Alfred Herbert is also remembered on the roll of honour at Windmill Hill, Bedminster, and also that of Durham University.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Alisoun Roberts, Heather Ross, Pauline Walden.

2 October 1916

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Robinson Wallace

Robinson Wallace was born 28 March 1896 in Heworth, County Durham. He was the third child and first son of Robinson Jackson Wallace, a police constable, and his wife Margaret Jane. Both elder sisters became elementary school teachers, working for Felling Urban Council in 1911.

A pupil at Windy Nook and then Jarrow Secondary School, Robinson Wallace himself began his teacher training at Bede College in 1914 and in The Bede magazine of March 1915 he is listed as a player for both Association and Rugby Football teams against local military sides. Before the completion of his studies The Bede further records in June 1915 his intention to enlist at the end of that current term. In December 1915 his name is first added to the Roll of Honour as a serving Private 320 with the Cyclist Company, Northumbrian Division.

Robinson was gazetted on 27 January 1916 transferring with promotion to the 3/8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry as a second lieutenant (on probation). Three references within The Bede of June 1916 report Robinson with the 8 D.L.I. in France, with 50th Division in France and “with the 8th at the front”.

The December 1916 edition of The Bede erroneously lists Robinson as having been killed in action on 29 September. In fact while he was seriously wounded in an attack on that date, he died three days later on 2 October. The Bede magazine’s D.L.I. diary states that Robinson’s unit was then in the area around Mametz. On 28 September they moved up to the front line “via Crescent Trench which was spongy underfoot and smelled terribly, being the grave of a number of German dead.” The same diary and the College’s 1916 Annual Report provide a more detailed description of the action in which Wallace fell, and these may be found quoted above in the biography of Nat Bewick.

Robinson Wallace is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension in France. He is remembered on war memorials at St Mary Heworth, and Monkton, South Tyneside, and on Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

6 October 1916

Image of Chaplain D.C. Woodhouse (Reproduced with the kind permission of The Warden and Scholars of Winchester College)

Chaplain D.C. Woodhouse

Chaplain Disney Charles Woodhouse

Disney Charles Woodhouse was born 18 November 1883 at Wandsworth Common, the son of the Reverend Arthur Chorley and Mrs Woodhouse. He attended first Miss Sanderson’s School in Cheltenham, and then Winchester College. In 1902 he was admitted to Clare College, Cambridge, where he obtained a B.A. (2nd class Th. Trip.) in 1905; Carus Greek Test Prize in 1906, and an M.A. in 1909. He trained for the Priesthood at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, in 1905, obtaining, as an unattached student, a 1st class Prelim. T.E. in 1906 at the University of Durham, and a B.D. in 1911. He was made a Deacon in 1906 and Ordained Priest by the Bishop of Birmingham in 1907. He was Curate of Aston juxta Birmingham from 1906 to 1909; Lecturer at Bishop Wilson Theological School, Isle of Man, 1909 to 1911; Vice Principal, Bishop Wilson Theological School, 1911 to 1912; Diocesan Chaplain to the Bishop of Sodor and Man, 1909 to 1913; Principal of Bishop Wilson Theological College, 1914; Vicar of St Ninian's, Douglas, Isle of Man, 1913; Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Sodor and Man, 1913. He became Candidates’ Secretary of the Church Missionary Society in 1915, but then applied for a year’s leave in January 1916 in order to take up a chaplaincy with the Forces. He served in France for four months with a Casualty Clearing Station before being attached to the 12th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, serving with this unit through the Battle of the Somme. He contracted dysentery and, invalided out, he died at the Military Hospital at Boulogne-sur-Mer on 6 October 1916 and is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery in France. His address at probate is recorded as 12 Victoria Mansions, Queen’s Club Gardens, West Kensington. He is commemorated in Winchester College’s roll of honour, and by its war cloister, commemorating the five hundred Wykehamists killed in the war, and also on a war memorial in the antechapel of Clare College, Cambridge. All Saints’ Douglas, for which parish Woodhouse was the first vicar, dedicated a set of stained-glass windows to him on 10 February 1918.

Additional sources: the image of D.C. Woodhouse is reproduced with the kind permission of The Warden and Scholars of Winchester College.
Research contributors: Rev. David Youngson.

7 October 1916

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Henry Lockett

William Henry Locket was born on 1 January 1890 in New Whittington, near Chesterfield in Derbyshire, a third child to Henry and Elizabeth Smith Lockett. Henry Lockett was a railway guard, living with his wife and two older daughters, Elizabeth Scott Lockett and Emily Martha Locket, in 14 Wellington Street.

William Lockett was educated first in the New Whittington Council Schools, proceeding then on a County Council Minor Scholarship to Chesterfield Grammar School. After a short stint as an assistant master at nearby Clowne he matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas 1911, entering Hatfield College as an Honours student studying for a B.A. in litteris antiquis (Mathematics), which he was awarded in Easter 1914.

Upon graduation he took a teaching post at Weston-super-Mare, but then quickly enlisted into the army after the outbreak of hostilities. As a former member of the Officers’ Training Corps at Durham - attending three annual camps - he was granted a temporary commission as a Second Lieutenant, gazetted on 16 November 1914; his commission was confirmed on 11 May 1915. He served with the 16th Reserve Battalion, Durham Light Infantry before being posted to France on 25 July 1916 as a member of the 12th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry. He joined them at Contalmaison on 28 July 1916, along with six other officers.

“CONTALMAISON 28.7.1916. Germans shelled village about 8.30-10.30 am at odd times during the day. 11th West Yorks [West Yorkshire Regiment] relieved the Battalion about 5.30 pm and the Battalion moved to Becourt Wood end of Sausage Valley. Heavy shelling on both sides. A number of shells fell into and close to camping ground between 11 and midnight. 7 new officers arrived and report to the Battalion in Sausage Valley. Viz. Captain G. A. Nichols, 2nd Lieutenants L.J. Powel-Smith, A.B. Wallis, C. Vaux, W.H. Lockett, C. Armstrong, J. Bollom.”

Intelligence Report, 28 July 1916. War Diary of 12th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Ref: WO 95/2182/1).

August was a quiet month for the 12th Battalion and was spent predominantly in training and furnishing working parties, according to these Battalion Intelligence Reports in the unit’s war diary. In September the battalion moved up between The Dingle and Contalmaison, and although under fire this was, by their standards, a period of low casualties. On 21 September Second Lieutenant C. Armstrong, who had arrived with William Henry Lockett, was killed. Then on 23/24 September Second Lieutenant Bollom was killed during an attack on T26 Avenue. In October the battalion began a tour in Crescent Alley, a much more dangerous sector. It was here that Second Lieutenant William Henry Lockett was killed.

He wrote his last letter home on 30 September, and which was quoted in a local newspaper: "I want you to remember that whatever happens, that our ancestors also fought and died for the privileges we have all enjoyed during the prolonged years of peace, and it is quite up to us to do the same. We know it isn't pleasant to contemplate these happenings, but let us hope it is all for the best". In the same letter he reported that he had been given a Company command due to both the commanding officer and the next in command having been taken out of action, the one wounded and the other suffering from shell shock.

At the time of his death William was serving with the 12th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, which on 7 October had attacked the front line trenches near Le Sars. A and C companies successfully captured The Tangle and the sunken Eaucourt l'Abbaye Road, whilst B company moved through and gained ground at Le Sars. The Regimental Intelligence Report outlines the day’s events.

“CRESCENT ALLEY 6.10.16. Battalion CRESCENT ALLEY – Relieved the 11th NF [Northumberland Fusiliers] in O G 1 & 2 about 8 pm Evening Quiet.
O G 1 & 2 7.10.1916. Battalion in O G 1 & 2 At 1-45pm the Battalion attacked the SUNKEN ROAD. SE of LE SARS. At 1.0pm Second Lieutenant W. H. Lockett O/C C Company took his Company forward and occupied the TANGLE. At 1.45 pm A Company and C Company attacked with D & B Companies in Support. Owing to the heavy Machine Gun fire, A Company were held up. Meanwhile, C Company assisted with 2 platoons of D Company under 2/Lt A. T. Hunt reached SUNKEN ROAD. They were then supported by the remaining 2 platoons of D Company under 2/Lt W. L. Hughes who consolidated the position and succeeded in inflicting severe casualties on the enemy who were attempting to escape across the road on the right. B Company (2/Lt Harris) then came up and advanced about 450 yards beyond SUNKEN ROAD & consolidated. They linked up with SUNKEN ROAD by a chain of Strong Points. Our new positions were heavily shelled by the enemy throughout the night. Casualties: Officers; Killed, 2/Lt W. H. Lockett; wounded, 2/Lt W. H. Hughes, A. T. Hunt, A. E. Hales, Wallace, Hugall, Leggatt; missing, 2/Lt Telfer. NCO’s and men, killed 31, wounded 86. We took 70 prisoners.
BECOURT WOODS 8.10.1916. Heavily shelled. Relieved by 8/10th Gordons [Gordon Highlanders] Battalion moved to BECOURT WOODS.
9.10.1916. Rested at BECOURT WOODS”

Intelligence Report, 6-7 October 1916. War Diary of 12th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (Ref: WO 95/2182/1).

William Henry Lockett was twenty-six years old at his death, and his sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and on war memorials at St Barnabus Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield, and at Chesterfield Grammar School, and on a memorial plaque at Hatfield College.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment cap badge (Courtesy of the Countil of the National Army Museum, London)

Royal West Kent Regiment cap badge

Sergeant Anthony Edward Linton Parker

Anthony Parker was born 1885 the second child of Thomas and Mary Jane Parker of the Market Place in Barnard Castle. He studied geography and history at Bede College from 1905-1907. He went on to teach as a Certificated Assistant schoolmaster at Southwick Central Council School in Sunderland. In 1911 he was living in Millfield there, with his younger brother who was also a teaching assistant, and their elder sister Jane kept house.

Anthony first enlisted as a volunteer in 1905, at the age of 20, with the 28th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and became a Sergeant Musketry Instructor. In 1915 he enlisted with the 1st Northern General Hospital (Newcastle), R.A.M.C. His service records note that he served there for only 112 days before resigning and then re-enlisting as a Private, being posted to the 2nd Battalion then the 11th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, later re-named Queens Own (Royal West Kent). He was (again) promoted to Sergeant on the 24 August 1916.

The battalion’s war diary reports that Linton was one of 338 casualties on that day of the Battle of the Somme:

“Battalion strength :- Officers 41, Other Ranks 737.
Battalion attached the German trenches, on the right the 15th Hampshire Rgt. On the left the 1 40th Infantry Brigade, on a two Company front. (Inf. Bde. Order No. 55 attached). The Battalion was only able to advance 100/150 yard from our front line, being held up by intense machine gun fire coming both from flanks and direct front. Heavy casualties were incurred in this advance.

The supporting Battalion having lost direction, failed to arrive, support was asked for, and 2 Coys. 12th E. Surrey Regt came up about 6 p.m. The battalion had in the meantime dug. During the night with the assistance of the 12th E. Surrey Regt, the position held was consolidated and a communication trench dug back to the original front line.”

War Diary, 11th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, 7 October 1916 (Ref: WO 95/2634/4).

There is no known grave and he is therefore remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. He is also commemorated on memorials at Barnard Castle School, the Bowes Museum, St Mary’s Church at Barnard Castle, the Durham County war memorial, and of course on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of The Queen's Own Royal West Kent regiment is reproduced courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum London (Ref: NAM 2008-12-4-45).
Research contributors: David Butler, Enid Hoseason, Joyce Marshall.

8 October 1916

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Frederick George Smith

Frederick George Smith was born in April 1882 in Crook, County Durham, the eldest son of a firebrick moulder, Samuel Smith and his wife Mary Jane. Samuel and Mary had two younger sons, Ernest and Bertram and also a young daughter, Edith.

The Bede magazine lists Frederick Smith as a student for the years 1900-02: however on the census night of Sunday 31 March 1901 he was at his parents’ home in High Hope Street in the centre of Crook, where he described himself as an Elementary School Teacher.

In 1905, he married May Blanche Boddy, also a teacher; a daughter, Doreen May, was born in 1906. By 1911, the family was living at Shiney Row, near Fencehouses, County Durham, and both parents are listed as teachers. Fred Smith was working for Gateshead Borough Council as a Senior Assistant Master at St Mary’s School in Gateshead, and May Smith was working for the County Council.

Early in the War, Frederick Smith enlisted with the 18th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and was made Company Quartermaster Sergeant. On 7 November 1915 Smith was promoted to Second Lieutenant, and when 18 D.L.I. were sent abroad in December of that year he was transferred to 21 D.L.I. At some stage in his military career he earned a mention in despatches (as confirmed by the C.W.G.C.) and possibly his commission came as a result of this recognition.

Second Lieutenant Fred Smith was killed on 8 October 1916 whilst serving with the 23rd Battalion D.L.I., aged 34 years, leaving a widow and young daughter. He was buried at Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery on the western outskirts of Arras. His sacrifice is commemorated on numerous memorials , including a tablet at St Mary’s School, Gateshead, plaques in Shiney Row where he had lived for some time, and on Crook Cenotaph, his place of birth. He is also remembered on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

10 October 1916

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Harry Neale Heyward

Harry Heyward was born in 1889, the fifth child and third of five sons of Dr Henry Heyward, a G.P., and his wife Ann I. Heyward of The Chestnuts, Camberwell. He was educated first at a grammar school in Lewes, and then at Farnham Grammar School in Sussex which he attended with his younger brother Maurice, the two boys being used to walk in from Ewshot each day. Heyward was remembered there for his football and cricket, and for his Speech Day performances, including one “Mrs Malaprop”. He continued to write short stories, and contributed humorous poetry from France during the war. He matriculated at Durham in Michaelmas 1910, entering Hatfield Hall as an Arts student. But while he satisfied the examiners in his first year’s examinations, he never graduated: he was still recorded as a student at Hatfield Hall in 1914. He was a member of the university’s O.T.C. while resident at Durham. Heyward was also reported in July 1914 to have sat for the Bachelor of Divinity examination at London University, where his younger brother obtained a B.A. By this time he was an Assistant Master at Thanet College, Margate.

When the war came he was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and entered France on 18 October 1915. He quickly wrote to the Farnhamian to keep his old school friends in touch with his activities.

“I left England … and arrived at one of the Bases in a very few hours. Here I was kept two days, which were spent in practising scaling walls and throwing bombs. We had to find our meals in a Brasserie, where the demand was for 250, and the accommodation for 50. On the following Monday I entrained to join a certain battalion of my regiment. The journey occupied several hours, and was taken partly in comfortable railway carriages and partly in goods trucks. Here for the first time I saw air duels and anti-aircraft Artillery at work. It was most fascinating to watch the rings of smoke suddenly appearing in the sky forming groups round the machine. On both sides we saw flash lights going up and the crack of rifle bullets. … Now I am settled down in the new battalion, and have experienced the trenches and billets. Different sorts of dug-outs have come to my way, constructed of sandbags, earth and wood; rats and mice, at first my enemies, are now my acquaintances. The food in the trenches is not at all bad, but the life lacks variety. We expect to have some fun next time, however, as we propose to buy a gramophone, and an exhibition of it on the parapet should help to discover the identity of the Boches opposite. These, of course, vary; sometimes they are quite spiteful, and at other times are very docile and gentle.”

The Farnhamian, December 1915, pp.17-18.

Heyward’s obituary in the Durham University Journal (March 1917, vol. 21 no.17) records that he was gassed in December 1915, and again wounded in April 1916. A letter he contributed to The Farnhamian in April 1916 provides more detail.

“March 20th, '16.

I cannot claim to have had a bad time at all – one grows accustomed to shells more quickly than might be supposed and though we certainly had a good deal of water to contend with, the winter has not been so very severe.

The worst experience was the gas attack of Dec. 19th, which caught me asleep in a dug-out at 5.30 in the morning. Dr. Brown had impressed the properties of Chlorine so vividly on my mind that it was soon recognised and my helmet rapidly adjusted. Simultaneously with and subsequent to the gas came a furious bombardment in which both sides expended about 120,000 shells. From a position of tolerable security I was able to watch this and it is a sight I shall never forget. The following night is equally memorable as I fell into a trench full of water and only my head remained above water level. Once too, quite recently, a German shell burst near a dug-out in which I was sitting and a piece made a large hole in the roof and hit me on the foot without doing any damage.”

The Farnhamian, April 1916, p.20.

In the same letter he describes the trophies be brought home with home on a six-day leave in February 1916.

“I took them home two German whizz bang shells complete, a six inch base weighing several pounds, any number of railway tickets from the railway station of a now well-known town and other curios, the combined weight of which probably accentuated my need of rest.”

The Farnhamian, April 1916, p.21.

He enclosed with this letter ‘Another Hymn of Hate’, referencing Ernst Lissauer’s ‘Hassgesang gegen England’ (‘Hymn of Hate Against England’) and with a note of apology to Lord Tennyson.

“Bavarian, Prussians and Saxons are we;
We all are united in hatred of ye.
Bullets we've many and shells just a few,
And all that we have we'll send over to you.
May water beset you and mud hold you fast,
And your rotten old trenches fall on you at last.

Gott grant that the shells we send over so often
May serve just a little your courage to soften.
May snipers who lie and take shots at your head
Catch you when you're bending and fill you with lead.
O! Albion's children from over the sea
We all are united in hatred of ye.

Written somewhere in Belgium, somewhere in the trenches, on a wet day in December.”

The Farnhamian, April 1916, p.21.

For a period after he was wounded he served as Brigade Bombing Officer. He was killed in action in the trenches on 10 October 1916. The circumstances of his death are uncertain. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports Heyward was attached to 15 D.L.I. at this date, but this battalion was not engaged in fighting.

A younger brother, Maurice Heyward, also a teacher before the war, served with the 3rd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment, and was then attached to the 8th Battalion Devonshire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant. He was an acting Captain when he was killed while attempting to bring in a wounded officer on 20 July 1916, three months before his brother. Two sets of campaign medals, photographs and other items relating to the two Heyward brothers were sold at auction in Newmarket in 2013. A copy of Harry Heyward’s will was part of this sale. It was made at Acheux, then behind the front line, and the site now of a British Cemetery maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Heyward’s father reported to The Farnhamian in December 1916 that in this will his son bequeathed a large number of books from his collection of “good literature” to the Grammar School Library.

Second Lieutenant Heyward is buried at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery at Montaubon. His sacrifice is commemorated on a war memorial at Farnham Grammar School, and a plaque at Hatfield College.

Research contributors: Caroline Craggs, Heather Ross.
Image of the King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

Corporal Jacob Crabb

Jacob Crabb was born in Leadgate on 20 September 1895, one of six children of Jacob Pester and Elizabeth Crabb. His father was a police constable and it was probably due to his work that the family moved around County Durham for several years before settling in Cornsay Colliery in the late 1890s. Cornsay Colliery is a small village west of Durham City which relied originally upon the local colliery for employment. The village had a Colliery Board School for younger pupils which Jacob attended before his admission to Durham Johnston School in 1908. In August 1912 Jacob is listed as a teacher at Cornsay School, and he continued there until he finished his apprenticeship in July 1913.

He attended Bede College 1914-1915 and for several months enjoyed the usual student activities such as rugby and association football, passing his 1st year examinations and making numerous friendships. However, his second year was interrupted by military service. The 1916 Annual Report for Bede College reported “the departure of nearly half the students to join the Colours in December, 1915”. Jacob Crabb and three of his friends enlisted together on 8 December at Helmsley into the 21st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps (K.R.R.C.). Another Bede friend, Jack Spraggon, joined them a few days later. Jacob had known Jack Spraggon throughout his school days as well as at Bede College, indeed they probably travelled together on the local Deerness Valley train from their homes to the Durham Johnston School. Crabb was promoted to acting lance corporal in January 1916, then acting corporal in March 1916; his rank was confirmed on 1 July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.

The tie to Bede College remained strong, and Crabb sent a contribution to the College’s Prisoner of War Charity on behalf of the Bede men serving in the K.R.R.C. in September 1916. One of the group of students who had enlisted together in Helmsley, James Procter, served as a signaller with 21st Battalion, K.R.R.C.; he wrote several articles for The Bede magazine describing in particular the advance towards Flers on 25 September 1916 in which the 21st Battalion was heavily engaged. He explains that ‘Jake’ Crabb was that day in charge of a group of bombers (grenade-throwers). Two of the Helmsley four were killed on that day, but both Proctor and Crabb survived. Only 252 out of the 1,100 members of the battalion answered the roll call at the end of the action. Proctor wrote of this attack later, “I never saw [Crabb] once during this attack, but conversed with him when we finally reached Fricourt. We were both unshaven, unwashed and fearfully dirty. All we could say was ‘Give me Bede College again’” (The Bede, August 1918, vol. 14 no.3, p.18) .

The battalion was still in trenches at Flers when Crabb was killed only a few days later. Reports in The Bede magazine state he was killed on 5 October, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records an official date of 10 October. The battalion war diary provides no clarifying detail. It was reported in The Bede thatCrabb was killed while on a duty for which he had volunteered. His service up to that point had been such that he had been selected for a Commission and would have left his battalion in a few days to join a Cadet Company.

Jacob Crabb is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. His sacrifice is commemorated at Durham Johnston School, on war memorials at Cornsay Colliery United Methodist Church, the church of St John the Baptist, Quebec, (both now relocated to the church of St Michael and All Angels in Esh), and at Durham County Hall, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

12 October 1916

Image of the Royal Norfolk Regiment cap badge (Image by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Royal Norfolk Regiment cap badge

Private Ernest Albert Godbold

Ernest Godbold was born at Hockwold cum Wilton in Norfolk in 1890. In 1891 he was living there with his grandfather James Godbold, a widower and farm labourer, and his daughter Sarah Godbold, aged 23, who was probably Ernest Godbold's mother. His father, Edward Everett Garnham, aged 20, was then employed as a baker’s assistant in South Lynn, and living at 7 Friars Street. His father and Sarah Godbold would marry in 1895. By 1911 Ernest Godbold had become an uncertified teacher, lodging in Terrington Saint Clement with the family of Thomas Sleight, a carpenter and joiner. Also living in Terrington Saint Clement was Eveline Celice Bond Wright, a 25-year-old single woman and clerk at a fruit farm, who was then living with her father, John Wright, a bootmaker.

Ernest Godbold enrolled at Peterborough College and transferred under a concentration scheme to Bede College in 1915-16, but then left the college to enlist at King’s Lynn into the Royal Norfolk Regiment. He was killed on 12 October, when his battalion was fighting at Flers. The war diary of his unit, the 1/7th Battalion Royal Norfolk Regiment, describes the days of action leading up to his death.

“Bulls Road, near Flers, 11 October 11 p.m.

Last night was spent in digging assembly trenches for our coming attack. To-day nothing has been done owing to enemy observation which will not permit of it.

FLERS TRENCH near FLERS, 12 October 11.30 p.m.

To-day at 2.5 p.m. we attacked BAYONET TRENCH. Last night the assault trenches were completed & all the Battalion lay out in them from 5 a.m. this morning until the attack. The attack was carried out with all four companies in the line disposed in depth one platoon behind the other, D on the right, C B A. On Our Right 7th Suffolk Rgt and on our left 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers 30th Division. B[attalio]n HQ remained in BULL'S ROAD. The object was the attack was first of all to Capture BAYONET & SCABBARD TRENCH and then to sweep on & take LUISENHOF FARM and establish a line beyond it. At 2.5 pm. our artillery barrage commenced & our men advanced to the assault. After advancing about 50 yards the Hun opened fire with M[achine]G[un]s from both flanks & from in front. Our troops continued to advance but before reaching the enemy's trench ran into barbed wire which had not been cut. This wire coupled with the MG fire prevented any further advance. And our men lay down in shell holes from where they brought rifle fire to bear on the Gunners who were standing up in their trenches shooting at them. We caused considerable casualties in this way to the enemy. After dark we made a further attempt to cut a way through to the enemy's trench but the wire proved too strong. The survivors then crawled back to our lines & reformed. The 9th Essex Rgt. then relieved us & the Suffolk Regt. in the Front Line & we came back to FLERS TRENCH, the Reserve Line near FLERS which we are sharing with the Suffolk Regt.

Our Casualties during the attack to-day were:

Officers
Killed
2/Lieut[enants] C. A. Shepherd, S. R. Mitchley, C. Sizeland, F. Hogben

Wounded
Capt. J. M. Howlett, Lieut. H. R. G. Montgomery, 2/Lieut. H. Thorne, 2/Lieut. W. J. Jones

Missing
2/Lieut. H. Smith, 2/Lieut. A. Shaw

Only two officers who went over the top came back unhurt, 2/Lieut.'s E. G. Ketteringham and W. D. Ferguson.

Other Ranks:
Killed 36; Wounded 125; Missing 51.”

War diary of 7th Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment, 10-12 October 1916 (Ref: WO 95/1853/1).

It is safe to assume that Ernest Albert Godbold was one of those 36 Other Ranks killed in action on 12 of October 1916. His probate and his personal effects were granted to Eveline Alice Bond Wright of Terrington Saint Clements, indicating that she had a close bond to Ernest.

Ernest Albert Godbold’s body was never identified, and therefore his sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. His name is also recorded on war memorials at Terrington Saint Clement, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: Image of the cap badge of the Royal Norfolk Regiment is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Tim Brown, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

18 October 1916

Image of Capt. V. H. Clay (Private Collection: http://godolphins.org.uk/Clay_Vivian_H/Vivian_H_Clay_Pages/Vivian_H_Clay_1.html)

Capt. V. H. Clay (Private Collection)

Captain Vivian Hastings Clay

Vivian Clay was the younger son of Dr Challoner Clay, a surgeon and physician, and his wife Annie Kinnard, née Harris. He was born on 18 October 1892 at the family home, the Manor House in Fovant, near Salisbury. He was a pupil at Epsom College from 1904-1909, where he was a keen member of the Officers’ Training Corps. In 1911 he was an ecclesiastical student, perhaps an indication of his intended career. He matriculated at Durham University at Epiphany 1912, being admitted to University College as an Arts student. At Durham he joined its Officers’ Training Corps, keeping the rank he had attained at Epsom College of lance corporal. He satisfied the examiners in the first year, and passed final examinations in 1914, graduating with a B.A. in litteris antiquis. His obituary in the Durham University Journal noted he was a good all-rounder, but excelled at fives, rowing, and shooting. He played for his college in its cricket, fives, rugby and shooting teams, and also for Durham Colleges shooting team.

Image of University College, Durham University, Fives Club, 1913: (left to right) D. H. S. Mould, C. F. Burdett, V. H. Clay, A. Todd, H. E. Martin, A. G. Mathew (Ref: UND/F1/FE1913)

University College, Durham University, Fives Club, 1913: (left to right) D. H. S. Mould, C. F. Burdett, V. H. Clay, A. Todd, H. E. Martin, A. G. Mathew (Ref: UND/F1/FE1913)

After graduation he taught mathematics at an Army preparatory school in Plymouth, also commanding a Scout troop.

In April 1915 he was commissioned (on probation) into the Special Reserve of the Wiltshire Regiment, and after training at Weymouth joined the 2nd Battalion of the same regiment in France in August. His rank was confirmed in December 1915, and at the end of the month, during a period of home leave, he became engaged to Flora Mary Elizabeth Penruddocke (1891-1960), the eldest daughter of Charles Penruddock J.P. of Compton Park, Wiltshire. In May 1916 he transferred from the Reserves to the Regular Army, remaining with the 2nd Wiltshires.

This unit served in the front line and reserve trenches as part of the 21st Brigade in the 30th Division on the Somme until the end of July 1916. On the first day of the battle, in an attack on Montauban, a cigarette case in his chest pocket took the force of some shrapnel saving him from serious injury. He was commended for “conspicuous gallantry in the field” at Trones Wood on 8/9 July 1916, an action in which his cousin Second Lieutenant Robert Clay received a Military Cross. On 27 August 1916 Vivian Clay was promoted to temporary captain, whilst commanding a company.

The 2nd Wiltshires returned to the front at the beginning of October, to trenches between Le Sars and Flers. Captain Vivian Clay was killed on 18 October, his twenty-fourth birthday, in an attack on Gird trench and which commenced at 03:40 that day on the German trenches near Bapaume. The British attack comprised units of 21st Brigade, the 2nd Wiltshires, the 15th King’s (Liverpool), the 2nd Yorks, and the 19th Manchesters. The battalion’s war diary reports that while their attack was largely unsuccessful, Clay’s company had some initial success.

“FIELD

B Coy advanced but lost direction, and part of the Coy under Capt V. H. CLAY crossed the SUNKEN ROAD and got into the first German lines. They bombed up a communication trench, but were driven back before a block could be made.

They again bombed up this trench, but were again driven back on account of the shortage in bombs. On being reinforced by the [5th] Camerons of the 26th Brigade 9th Division this trench was captured and a block made. The first line trench captured in conjunction with the 9th Division, of which we held a part, was consolidated, Capt V. H. CLAY was killed during the consolidation, and 2/LT. J. H. THOMPSON was killed during the advance. 2/LT. E. A. CARRINGTON volunteered to seek information as regards the position of our Companies some while after the attack started. He did not return and parties sent in search afterwards found no trace of him. 2/LT. R. L. SCULLY who acted as liaison officer was buried by a shell and consequently had to be sent down suffering from the shock. Information did not arrive, and it was understood that the attack had failed on the whole of the 21st Brigade front, but that the 9th Division had gained all their objectives.

Our estimated casualty report read 14 Officers 350 other ranks. The remainder of the Battalion held the old British front line from the SUNKEN ROAD to the junction of TURK LANE and FRONTLINE. The trenches were by this time in an appalling state owing to the bad weather.”

War diary of the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment (Ref: WO95/2329).

His body was never recovered, and for a time he was reported missing believed killed. His family received a telegram confirming his death on 27 October. Lieutenant-Colonel A.L. Martin, his commanding officer, wrote to the family later, adding some detail about the circumstances of his death.

“It is with the very greatest sorrow, I write to tell you something of the way your son, Captain V. H. Clay met his end.

My Battalion attacked the enemy's trenches South of Bapoum [sic] at 3.40. a.m. October 18th, and your son commanded B. Company which was in reserve, but had to advance at the same time as the rest of the Battalion and had a particular objective. At 5 a.m. I received a written report from your son, that he had gained his objective, and was 'digging in'. Later I heard that while urging his men to dig and directing their efforts he was shot in the back and died almost immediately. Under the existing conditions I was unable to get any first hand evidence, but I believe the above to be the facts of this very great misfortune.

I have known your son for nearly a year and have the greatest admiration for his character. Although so young and, in ordinary times, of so little experience, he commanded his company with very great ability. He was so popular with his men that he easily obtained the best from them. He was one of the most popular officers in the Battalion and not only I but every one in the Regiment will regret his loss both as a good officer and friend.”

Letter to Dr Challoner from Lt.-Col. A. L. Martin, commanding 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, transcribed into a commemorative journal in the family’s possession. A transcript is published at http://www.17thwelsh.org.uk.

Further information was collected by Second Lieutenant R. R. Clay, his cousin serving as Transport Officer in the same battalion, stating that Vivian Clay “was walking about on the top (it was still dark) encouraging his men to consolidate the position when he was shot with a rifle bullet through the chest and practically killed at once.”

A letter was also received by the family from Corporal Ian Valentine (pseud. Carter) of the 5th Cameron Highlanders.

“In the attack of October 18th. your son's regiment advanced on the right of us, and in the darkness and the rain one of the Wiltshire Companies got mixed with ours. Your son was in command - in fact was the only officer present. After setting a splendid example in grenade throwing, he endeavoured to persuade his men to dig a communications trench to our lines. They were most reluctant, so he and I went out into the open in the hope that they would follow. Almost immediately he was struck in the back. He fell but was able to speak quite distinctly. He said "I'm done, boy! Let my father know. Promise me that." I said he would be alright soon, but he insisted that he was dying and reiterated his request. I promised. Then he died.

I feel that this must be some consolation to you who have lost him, to know that he died a very splendid death. I can add nothing except that one of the memories I shall carry to the end is the end of a very gallant gentleman.”

Letter to Dr Challoner from Cpl Ian Valentine [pseud. Ian Hastings Webb Carter], 5th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders, transcribed into a commemorative journal in the family’s possession. A transcript is published at http://www.17thwelsh.org.uk.

Captain Vivian Clay is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, and on three war memorials in Fovant, on the village war memorial cross, and on a brass plaque and a marble tablet in St George’s Church. His fiancée Flora Penruddocke, who also lost two brothers in the conflict, never married.

Additional sources: this biography has benefitted from several online sources, including the Royal Medical Foundation of Epsom College Archive and its database of Old Epsomians known to have served in the First World War; the website http://www.17thwelsh.org.uk/, which publishes several documents relating to Capt. V. H. Clay, including transcripts of records in the family’s possession; and www.godolphins.org.uk which publishes much genealogical information and several photographs about the Clay family, and in particular Capt. V. H. Clay and his fiancée Flora Penruddocke. The photograph of Vivian Clay is reproduced with the permission of the family.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Caroline Craggs, Joyce Malcolm.

26 October 1916

Image of the Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Lieutenant John Cedric Jervis

John Cedric Jervis and his twin brother Norman Edward were born on 11 February 1890 to the Reverend John Jervis, Vicar of All Saints’ Church, Rotherhithe, and his wife Minnie Jervis. He had two elder brothers and a younger sister. The family moved to Kings Norton, Worcestershire, and then to Wick Vicarage near Pershore in the same county.

John was educated at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, from 1903-1909, and in 1911 he was living at Wick Vicarage and described as a student. He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1913 as an Unattached student. He passed his first year examination in Theology satisfactorily in the same term; there is no record thereafter of any further examinations or degree awarded.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was preparing for Holy Orders at Lincoln Theological College. He enlisted in that year as a private in the Royal Fusiliers Public School Battalion which had begun recruiting in September. On 17 March 1915 he obtained a commission as Temporary Second Lieutenant with the 21st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, and was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant on 3 September 1915.

On 17 July 1916 he was appointed Flying Officer (Observer) and transferred to the General List, Royal Flying Corps, joining the 5th Squadron. By the time of the first major air actions at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 the R.F.C. strength had increased from 12 to 27 squadrons and from 161 aircraft to 421.

At 14:00 on 26 October 1916 Jervis took off from Marieux aerodrome on the Somme, where the British Army Headquarters for this part of the Western Front was based. His plane, 5781 (a BE2d) piloted by Lieutenant J. S. Smith, was shot down over Puisieux while on an Artillery Observation mission undertaken by aircraft from the 5th and 15th Squadrons. Smith and Jervis were engaged by two German aircraft, and the victory is credited to Oswald Boelcke of Jagdstaffel 2, one of the most prolific aces of the war, trainer of Manfred von Richthofen, and considered the father of the German fighter air force. 5781 would be his fortieth and final victory before his death in a mid-air collision with one of his own pilots on 28 October.

Jervis’ plane was shot down over British lines and crashed (map reference: K.34.b.9.5) and was then raked with shellfire on the ground. While Smith was wounded but survived the attack, Jervis was killed in the air and was unable to be pulled from the wreckage.

A translated transcript of Boelcke’s action report is published online:

“About 4.45 seven of our machines of which I had charge attacked some English biplanes west of P [Puisieux]. I attacked one and wounded the observer, so he was unable to fire at me. At the second attack the machine started to smoke. Both pilot and observer seemed dead. It fell into the second line English trenches and burned up.”

Action report of Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke, Jasta 2, 26 October 1916. Translated transcript excerpt published online on 1914-1918.invasionzone.com forum.

Another pilot in Smith and Jervis’ squadron noted in his diary on 26 and 30 October 1916:

“[October 26]
Got word today that several British machines were down. Huns came over in force and one of ours was shot down. Jervis was killed & Smith wounded. Smith's controls were damaged & he had to come down in our support trenches; he was wounded in three places but the infantry got him out before the huns started shelling his machine. Jervis had to be left in as he was wedged in as a result of the crash but he was shot dead in the air - a jolly decent chap was Jervis.

[October 30th]
... Jervis' body was recovered from the wrecked machine today and the funeral took place at Courcelles”

Excerpts from the diary of James Kerr, 5th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, 26 and 30 October 1916. Transcripts published online on 1914-1918.invasionzone.com forum.

John Cedric Jervis is buried in Picardie in Courcelles-au-Bois Communal Cemetery Extension. A short obituary was published in Flight magazine. His Casualty Cards are made available online in the R.A.F. Museum Story Vault.

One brother was reported in November 1916 a prisoner of war in Turkey, and another, Arthur Cyril Jervis was killed on 3 July 1918 serving with the 2/3rd King’s African Rifles, and is buried at Lumbo British Cemetery in Mozambique. A memorial to both brothers, and to their father, was erected in the 1930s at the Church of St James the Great in Snitterfield, Warwickshire. John Jervis is also remembered in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: forum posts to 1914-1918.invasionzone.com, including action reports of Oswald Boelcke, and the diary of James Kerr; the image of the R.F.C. cap badge is by CharlesC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

5 November 1916

Image of the Border Regiment cap badge

The Border Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant James Hamilton

James Hamilton was born in the summer of 1896, the seventh of the nine children of George and Isabella Hamilton of Middlesbrough. His parents were both borderers, his father from just north of the Scottish border and his mother from Berwick-upon-Tweed. George was a clerk in the Customs Service, and several of his children became teachers.

James attended the Wesleyan School in Middlesbrough and Darlington Grammar School. In the Michelmas term of 1896 he matriculated at Durham University as an Unattached Arts student and a Foundation Scholar. He received an admission scholarship of £70 in 1896; in 1897 he was an Exhibitioner on a £30 grant and in 1898 on £15. He passed his first and second-year examinations for a B.A. in Classical and General Literature, and graduated with Second Class Honours in Classics in the Easter term of 1899.

On 1 October 1898 he was admitted as pensioner to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was made an Open Scholar in 1900, and graduated in1901, again with a Second Class B.A. in Classical Tripos. Over the succeeding fifteen years Hamilton taught at The King’s Hospital, Dublin (1901-1905), Blackburn Grammar School (1905-1908), Hampton Grammar School (1905-1910), and Heversham School, a day and boarding school in Westmorland (1910-1915).

James Hamilton left Heversham School to enlist on 28 July 1915, apparently with the 4th Cumberland and Westmorland Battalion of the Border Regiment. While the 4th Battalion never served in France, being based in India throughout the conflict, some men with 4th Battalion numbers did serve in France, attached to other units. James Hamilton must have been one of these men, and is likely to have been attached to 1/5th Battalion, although his name is not among those officers listed in the battalion’s war diary in June and October 1916. The 5th Battalion of the Border Regiment was deployed in France with the 151 (Northumbrian) Brigade in the 50th Division alongside several battalions of the Durham Light Infantry. On his last August leave Hamilton went up to London where he joined the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps on 2 September 1915. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on probation on 27 January 1916 into the Border Regiment, and his medal card records him as a member of the 4th Battalion, serving in France.

Second Lieutenant James Hamilton was killed on 5 November 1916, though his death was not officially reported until 18 November. He is buried in the Warlencourt British Cemetery, alongside those who with him attacked the Butte de Warlencourt that day. The 5th Battalion of the Border Regiment was in reserve in this battle, and was called in to reinforce the re-taking of Gird Trench. The attack failed, like many that preceded it, and altogether a thousand casualties were lost. The Butte (mound) would change hands several times throughout the war, finally being re-taken by the allies in August 1918 during the Second Battle of Bapaume.

James Hamilton’s sacrifice is commemorated in the rolls of honour and war memorials of Middlesbrough, Darlington Grammar School (now Queen Elizabeth VIth Form College), Durham University, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Heversham Boarding House school (now Dallam School, Milnthorpe), and St Peter’s Church, Heversham.

Additional sources: a fuller biography of James Hamilton by Simon Stanley is being prepared for publication.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Simon Stanley.

13 November 1916

Image of the East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge (Image by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)

The East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Harold Bell

Harold Bell was born in 1894 at Byker in Newcastle upon Tyne. By 1901 the family was living at 3 Farnham Road, Tyne Dock, in South Shields. He was the elder son of William John Bell and Martha Cummins Bell (née Knox). William John Bell was a shipbuilder’s clerk and tobacconist, who died in 1900 when Harold was only 5 years old and his brother, Eric, was 4 years old. Martha Cummins Bell was an Elementary School Teacher. Her sister, Jane Knox, lived with the family. After attending Westoe Secondary School, by the age of 16, Harold had been awarded a bursary to St Chad’s Hostel, Hooton Pagnell.

In 1902 Rev. F.S. Willoughby, the vicar of Hooton Pagnell Parish, near Doncaster, had opened a small hostel in which he prepared men of limited means to enter one of the established theological colleges. St Chad's Hostel students were admitted to read for the full range of Durham degrees. In the early years, most students, though not all, pursued ordination training after their degree. The St Chad's Hostel at Hooton Pagnell was retained by the College until 1916 as a preliminary place of study to prepare students to qualify for university matriculation at Durham.

After his time spent at the Hostel, Bell joined St Chad’s Hall at Durham for the Epiphany term in 1915. In his brief time at Durham, he was elected Secretary of the Debating Society, Central Finance Representative and, in Michaelmas 1915, Editor of the Durham University Journal. His University career was cut short after his first year studying for an honours degree in Classics. As a member of the Officers’ Training Corps he was selected to be commissioned into the East Yorkshire Regiment.

Posted to this regiment’s 13th Battalion in 1916, Bell was killed on 13 November 1916 at Sailly – Courcelles. The Battalion was poised to attack the enemy at 11:00 p.m. on the night of 12 November, and the battalion’s war diary details that the men went over the top at 05:45 a.m. the next morning. Harold Bell was with D Company when the attack was launched towards Serre in thick fog. Captain R.M. Wooley, commanding D Company, wrote an account of this action in which he himself was captured, and which report must have been interpolated into the war diary after his release; it includes a sketch map of his position during the action. The casualty list for D Company for that one day makes frightening reading. Captain Wooley and seven other men with him became isolated at his objective, the German third line, and were captured, five other officers were killed, four were wounded, and seven, besides Wooley, were reported missing, including Second Lieutenant Harold Bell. A total of 387 other ranks are listed by name in the war diary as casualties (wounded, missing or killed). Bell’s body was later found, and is buried at Serre Road Cemetery No.2, Somme, France.

Eric Bell survived the war and later applied for his brother’s medals. Harold Bell is remembered on the Westoe Secondary School 1914-1918 memorial plaque, a stained glass window and a memorial plaque at All Saints Church, West Harton, on which is carved the words, “For the cause of freedom and humanity”. He is also commemorated on the 1914-1918 reredos in St Chad’s College chapel.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102. The image of the East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Royal Fusiliers cap badge

The Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private Yorke Smith

The Reverend J. Jeremy Smith was a Wesleyan minister and together with his wife, Mary, and their 9 children, he lived the itinerant life demanded of such a vocation, moving between four counties and six different places during the 1880s. Yorke Smith was born in Yorkshire in 1888, the fourth of five sons and younger than all four of his sisters.

The two eldest Smith brothers were alumni of Durham University and Yorke conformed to family tradition when he became a foundation scholar at Bishop Hatfield’s Hall in 1906. He read classical and general literature along with Greek testament and theology and took his B.A. with 2nd class honours in 1908, followed by an M.A. in 1912/3.

He enjoyed the sporting aspects of Hatfield life, representing the University in both rugby football and fives and playing cricket for Hatfield against St Chad’s. He was also a participating member of the Debating Society. In one debate in 1907, around the time of the commissioning of H.M.S. Dreadnaught, he opposed the motion, “that sea-power has had a greater effect on the world’s history than land-power.” The motion was lost.

After University Smith became a teacher at Borden Grammar School, in Sittingbourne, Kent, a period of his life about which little is currently known. However, with the coming of the war perhaps his confidence in the Army, as demonstrated to that 1907 debate, together with his prowess on the sports field, contributed to his decision to enlist as a private in the 24th (2nd Sportsmen’s) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in 1914. Updates to the roll of honour published in the Durham University Journal record that he served in this capacity for the next two years.

The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and ended on18 November, and although land changed hands from time to time, eventually there was very little territory gained by either side, despite catastrophic casualties. Yorke Smith was, by this time, acting as a signaller for his battalion. Signallers usually carried messages between company or platoon commanders and their superiors, which often entailed being a runner and actually carrying messages by hand. Bearing in mind the churned state of the terrain, the wintery weather and the ferocity of the artillery, life expectancy for signallers was particularly short.

A major push – the Battle of the Ancre – was planned for 13 November. The battalion left billets at Mailly-Maillet the previous day. At 05:15 on the morning of the battle the Royal Fusiliers advanced behind a creeping barrage. When the barrage was lifted, and in spite of fog and snow, the British front line walked into the enemy front trench where they found enemy soldiers emerging from their dugouts. These men were taken prisoner. In this section of the line, unlike some places, the barrage had completely destroyed the barbed wire barrier and the enemy had abandoned their forward emplacements, moving into the shelter of random shell holes. The Fusiliers attempted to consolidate their own position whilst holding off “desultory bombing attacks”. Nevertheless, casualty numbers were high that day: 33 men of the 24th Battalion were killed or died of wounds, 175 were wounded, and 52 were posted as missing. Among this last group was Private Yorke Smith.

Smith left few personal effects, but what remained was administered by his father, J. Jeffrey Smith. His last known address, stated at probate, was 1 Mount Pleasant, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Yorke Smith is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, on a plaque at Hatfield College, and on the Royal Fusiliers war memorial at Holborn in London.

Research contributor: Pauline Walden.

7 December 1916

Image of the Loyal North Lancashire cap badge

Loyal North Lancashire cap badge

Second Lieutenant James Thornton Halstead

James Thornton Halstead was born in 1891 in Elland, Yorkshire, the only child of Thomas Herbert Halstead, a manager of a laundry business, and his wife Lattice née Thornton. As a boy he attended Rishworth School in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

He entered St Chad’s Hostel at Hooton Pagnell in the Epiphany term of 1911, being recorded in the Common Room meeting minutes of 12 January 1911 as participating in the traditional (and light-hearted) Freshers’ Examination: “…being recognised as the criminal Peter the Painter, so badly wanted by the police…”. He was awarded a £70 Theological scholarship for the three years of his studies, also receiving some financial help from the fund set up by H. D. Horsfall. He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1911, entering the Hostel’s sister institution St Chad’s Hall, where he was a diligent Honours student, attending lectures in Classics and Theology. He passed his first year exams in Easter 1912 with Class III Honours, and graduated in the Easter term 1914 with a Batchelor of Arts (in litteris antiquis), also in Class III. This degree was conferred on 23 June, 1914.

James Thornton was very active on the sports field, in athletics in the long jump and high jump, and he played for the College and the university, and was awarded colours, in cricket, football, rugby and hockey. He also was elected on to the St Chad’s and University committees for the above sports and was captain of the Cricket Club, as well as a representative for the Durham University Choral Society. He underwent military training in the Officers’ Training Corps.

Thornton joined the Army at the outbreak of war and on 14 December 1914 received a commission as a second lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He served in Gallipoli in 1915. Following an attack of dysentery, he was invalided home. He transferred from the reserves to the regular army, still as a temporary (attached) second lieutenant on 28 October 1916, and then transferred again to a service battalion on 3 November that year. Having recovered he was posted to France with a Trench Mortar Battery. While serving there he was killed in action near Ploegsteert on 7 December 1916, aged 25. The details of the action in which he was involved that day are not known. He is buried in the London Rifle Brigade Cemetery at Hainaut in Belgium. His sacrifice is commemorated on a reredos in the chapel of St Chad’s College, and a memorial in the chapel of Rishworth School. His last known address, his parents’ home, was at 30 Brooklyn Road, Dovercourt in Essex.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Linda Macdonald, Alisoun Roberts, Heather Ross.

11 January 1917

Image of the Manchester Regiment cap badge (Crown copyright)

Manchester Regiment cap badge (Crown copyright)

Private Benjamin Norton Ager

Benjamin Norton Ager was born at Portland in December 1886. He was the eldest surviving son of William Norton Ager of Northampton, a school teacher, and Mary Ager of Uttoxeter. In 1901 the family was living in Bunwell, Norfolk, where William taught at Bunwell School, and where he later became Head Teacher. Benjamin and two of his sisters all entered into the family profession of teaching, with Benjamin working first as an assistant teacher for the Norfolk County Council at Bunwell School, under his father, in 1911. He first trained for a professional qualification at Culham College, Oxford. With the outbreak of war he and six other Culham students were transferred to Bede College at Durham as part of a concentration scheme.

On 15 January 1916 Ager enlisted as a Private with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in March 1916. He gave his home address on his attestation form as Station Road in Dersingham, Norfolk, and his occupation as a teacher. His father had died in November 1914, and so his mother is named as his next of kin. She, and his three sisters, were then resident in Norwich. He was mobilized on 2 March 1916.

In October 1916, he was transferred to the 22nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment which was stationed in France near Bertrancourt. On the morning of 11 January, 1917, the 22nd Battalion launched an attack to capture an enemy trench. Conditions were favourable, and the attack successful. “The assault was carried out in a thick mist, under a heavy barrage. …the attacking troops reached Munich Trench before the enemy emerged from their dug-outs. The battalion captured the enemy’s position… Three officers, 130 men, and four machine guns were captured.” War Diary of 22nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, 11 January 1917. (Ref: TNA WO/95/1669/1-5 p.201). As they worked to secure the captured trench, however, the battalion came under fire by enemy snipers located in shell-holes to the east of the trench. Despite the success of the mission, Ager was reported first as missing, and then, later the same day, as killed in action.

Benjamin Ager is buried at the Frankfurt Trench British Cemetery in Beaumont-Hamel. A pipe, a tobacco pouch, a cigarette holder, a photo wallet, a diary, a penknife, and photos and letters were later returned by the Army to his mother. He is commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, as well as the Norfolk Teachers’ War Memorial, and the Bunwell St Michael’s Memorial Plaque.

Research contributors: David Butler, Jenna Fawcett, Joyce Malcolm.

12 January 1917

Image of the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles cap badge. (Image by Hydeblake (talk) (Uploads) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles cap badge

Private Edward Fryer Bracking

Edward Bracking was born June 1891 at Swapcote Lane, Long Sutton, near Spalding in Lincolnshire. He was the youngest of five children of Louisa and George Bracking, a builder and contractor. By the age of nineteen, in 1911, Edward was working as a school teacher in a County Council school. Teaching was clearly a family affair: in 1901 Edward’s eldest sister, Ethel, was an Assistant Mistress in a Board School, and Lucy, another sister five years her junior, aged thirteen, was a monitress probably in the same school. By 1911 Lucy was teaching in a County Council non-provided school.

Edward entered Bede College in 1915 as one of 33 students from St Peter’s College in Peterborough who were transferred to Durham under a concentration scheme: a further 10 students were transferred from Winchester Training College. Even with this rationalisation, student numbers continued to rapidly reduce due to enlistment. Bracking himself did not complete his first year, and enlisted at Wisbech near his home, and joined the London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles) 1/15th Battalion. This unit became part of the 140th Brigade in the 47th (2nd London) Division, and which in November 1915 moved to Flanders. It remained there for almost a year, and fought in the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

In January 1917 the 47th Division was at Hill 60 in the Ypres Salient in a front line defensive role and under heavy bombardment from enemy artillery. Edward Bracking was killed on 12 January 1917, aged 25, and has no known grave. He was one of three killed and one missing soldiers in his unit that day. His sacrifice is therefore commemorated on the Menin Gate. He is also remembered on the war memorials at Long Sutton, and, inside the church of St Mary there, on a family plaque inscribed, “He gave his life that we Englishmen might live”. His name is also listed on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. He left a widow, Mabel A. née Foster: they had married in March 1916 at Holbeach, a neighbouring village to his own in Lincolnshire.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

20 January 1917

Image of the East Surrey Regiment cap badge (Image by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)

East Surrey Regiment cap badge

Lance Corporal Stanley Douglas Selby Sumner

Stanley Douglas Selby Sumner was born on 3 July 1885, the ninth of ten children of Edmund Sumner, a solicitor, and his second wife Alice Selby. There was also an elder sister from Edmund Sumner’s first marriage. Stanley Sumner’s father’s practice was in Doctors’ Commons in the City of London and they lived at Eltham in Kent.

Stanley Sumner and his younger brother Horace went as boarders to Dulwich College in 1897. Edmund Sumner died in 1889, a year after his wife Alice, but their children remained close, such that in 1911 five of them were living together at Horace Sumner’s house, Downsview in Banstead.

Stanley Sumner left school in 1903 and was a scoutmaster and leader in the Boy’s Brigade. In December 1911 he went to study theology at King’s College, London, and was awarded a degree in spring 1915. He then matriculated at Durham University in the Easter term of 1915, becoming an Unattached student studying theology. His King’s College degree entitled him to work for a Durham BA in only one year, and as an Unattached student he was not obliged to live in college.

In January 1916 he enlisted but was granted an exemption until the summer while he completed his studies. However, there is no record in the Durham University calendars of him having passed any examinations, nor of him having been awarded a degree.

In October 1916 Sumner was posted from the 3/6 (Depot) Battalion to the 12th (Service) Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment in France, but was later posted to the 13th Battalion, A Company, and joined them in the Arras sector on the Somme in November of that year. The men had to deal with deep mud and collapsing trenches and spent time repairing their positions as well as fighting. They were moved back to the front line on 4 January 1917 in the Rancourt sector, and on 19 January there was a gas and shell attack, which due to new gas masks having been issued they survived with few casualties. But the next day enemy shellfire killed Sumner and another man. They were buried first at Maurepas, and later re-buried in Hem Farm Military Cemetery at Hem-Monacu.

By the time of his death Sumner had become a Lance Corporal, and sources suggest that it had been intended that he be sent back home to become an officer. Stanley Sumner is commemorated in Banstead on its war memorial, and at All Saints Church on the Garton war memorial and panels in the Lady Chapel. His name is also recorded in the Scout Association’s roll of honour. His name will be added to the memorials of Dulwich and King’s College.

Additional sources: the biography above is largely based upon research undertaken by the Banstead WW1 Remembrance Project, to whom we gratefully acknowledge our debt.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Tim Brown, James Crouch, Dick Flory, Calista Lucy, Lianne Smith, Ruth Sheret, Leslie Sumner, Lewis Wood.

3 February 1917

Lieutenant George Hilliard Shields

George Shields was born 9 January 1879 at Berwick-on-Tweed, the second son of Stewart Shields, a Sergeant-Instructor for many years in the Old Berwick corps of the Northumberland Rifle Volunteers, and his wife Elizabeth. George Shields attended Berwick Grammar School and then another school in Belgium, and then, in order to qualify as a school teacher, from 1897-1899 Bede College in Durham. During this time he also matriculated at Durham University, in Michaelmas term 1898, as a non-collegiate student studying for a Bachelor of Letters. He successfully passed his exams in his first and second years, but there is no record of his having graduated.

He is known to have taught at Holy Trinity School, Berwick on Tweed, and at the Raffles’ Institute in Singapore. His career can only be partially glimpsed through the censuses: in 1901 he was working as a teacher in Kelso, Roxburghshire, and from 1907 to 1913 he worked as an Assistant Master at Wolsingham Grammar School. There he first taught French and English, and from 1909 also Latin, geometry and arithmetic. He then taught abroad, joining the Education Department of the Gold Coast to take up the position of Superintendant of Government Primary Schools. But it is doubtful he took up this role for he served as headmaster of the Government Boys’ School in Accra from 1913. He had a facility for languages, passing the examination in Ga, a Kwa language spoken in and around Accra, the capital city of Ghana, and was again appointed but never took up the position of Interpreter in the law courts.

Upon the outbreak of war and only just returned to Africa from a four-month stay in England Shields immediately volunteered, but could not be released from his post until the Gold Coast Regiment was deployed to East Africa in 1916. In the meantime he is recorded as having served in the Ship’s Company of an enemy vessel, the “S.S. Marina”, captured in Accra roadstead. He spent some time training in England, perhaps on officer training. He fought with distinction at the Battle of Gold Coast Hill on 15 December 1916, near Kibata in German East Africa (now Tanzania), and was recommended for a Military Cross. It was near there that George Shields was killed on 3 February 1917. Patrolling the roads between Njimbwe and Utete Shields’ unit was ambushed. The circumstances are described in a history of the Gold Coast Regiment’s East African campaign by Sir Hugh Clifford.

“The patrol under Lieutenant Shields had orders to meet a patrol of the King's African Rifles from Kiwambi at a point some nine miles from Njimbwe, but he had proceeded along the road leading to Utete for a distance of only about a mile and a half when the advance point sent back to report that they had seen a group of about ten German Askari on the eastern or right side of the track. It was a favourite trick of the Germans at this time to dress themselves and their native soldiers in kit belonging to the British which had fallen into the hands, and thus to occasion confusion as to who was friend and who was foe. The country through which Lieutenant Shields was patrolling was for the most part of a fairly open character, though it was covered with rank grass, set pretty thickly with trees, and studded here and there with patches of underwood. The party of the enemy had only been glimpsed for a moment, but as Lieutenant Shields went forward at once, followed or accompanied by Colour-Sergeant Nelson, a white man, dressed like an office of the King's African Rifles, appeared at a little distance ahead of the advance point, crying out in English, "Don’t fire! We are K.A.R.'s." Lieutenant Shields, who was very short-sighted, taken in by this treacherous ruse, bade his men not fire, and the enemy, who appear to have been about 200 strong with many Europeans among them, thereupon poured a volley into the patrol from the bush at very short range. This was followed by a blowing of bugles and an assault. Lieutenant Shields and Colour-Sergeant Nelson were both shot, as also was the corporal in charge of the machine-gun while trying to bring his piece into action.”

The Gold Coast Regiment’s East African Campaign (1920) by Sir Hugh Clifford (pp.63-64)

A report of his death published by the Northern Echo on 13 May 1920 suggests Shields was killed by a sniper, but the preceding account appears the more authoritative one. George Shields’ body was recovered on 9 February, and buried at the camp at Njimbwe. His body was later re-interred at the Dar es Salaam war cemetery. He is commemorated on the war memorial at Berwick on Tweed, and at memorials at Berwick Grammar School and Holy Trinity School. A memorial tablet and framed photograph were set up at the Government Boys' School, Accra, on 13 May 1920. His name is also listed on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Heather Ross, Stacey Seddon, Colleen Stansfield, Mike Stansfield.

12 March 1917

Image of King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

King's Royal Rifle Corps cap badge

Lance Corporal Robert Percy Kellett

Robert Percy Kellett was born 11 February 1896 in Whitburn, Sunderland. His parents were Robert and Lucy Kellett of Shincliff, County Durham, and Blyth, Northumberland, respectively. The elder Robert Kellett worked as a coal miner, waggon-way man, then rolley-way man. His job was to mind the rolley-way (the path cut for horses to collect full tubs of coal and to return them once empty), keeping it in good repair to ensure the swift removal of coal. Kellett, his parents, and his younger brother William lived at Percy Terrace in Whitburn throughout young Robert’s childhood.

In 1914, Kellett entered Bede College where he trained to be a school teacher. He sat the first year examination for the Archbishop’s Certificate in 1915 and was listed with the Class II students the following year. He was unable to sit the second year examination, however, as he enlisted on 8 December 1916 and left the college without having obtained his qualification.

Kellett enlisted as a private with the 21st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps (Yeoman Rifles) on short service for the duration of the war. The battalion underwent training at Helmsley and Aldershot before sailing to France in May 1916 to participate in the summer offensive on the Somme. Once in the field in June 1916, Kellett was placed in charge of the cookhouse and was once reprimanded for neglect of duty. Nevertheless, in August 1916 he was appointed Lance Corporal for a probationary period, and the appointment was confirmed (with pay at that rank) from 26 October 1916.

Kellett survived the perils of the Somme summer offensive, but he was killed in action at Wytschaete, south of Ypres, on 12 March 1917, and is buried at Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Bede College Memorial Plaque and Cross, as well as the memorial plaque at St. Mary’s Church, Whitburn.

Research contributors: Jenna Fawcett, Joyce Malcolm.

17 March 1917

Image of 2nd Lt. R.V. Armstrong (Ref: E/HB 2/654). Durham County Record Office copyright record.office@durham.gov.uk.

2nd Lt. R.V. Armstrong (Ref: E/HB 2/654)

Second Lieutenant Reginald Victor Armstrong

Reginald Victor Armstrong was born in 1887 at New Seaham, Co. Durham. His parents were Edward John Armstrong, a school teacher at New Seaham Boys School then due to failing health a clerk of the Co-operative Society, and Eliza, the headmistress of New Seaham Londonderry Girls School. Reginald Armstrong’s education progressed from New Seaham Londonderry Colliery Schools, to Bede College between 1905 and 1907, and finally to Hatfield College, Durham University, where he gained a B.A. degree in 1911. His decision to pursue a career in teaching followed not only that of his mother but also his elder siblings, Rosaline, a certified mistress assistant in 1901, and Herbert, a pupil teacher before 1901 and who went on to become President of the School Attendance Officers’ National Association (later the National Association of Social Workers in Education).

From 1907 he was Assistant Master at Bede Modern School, and on 10 September 1914 he and his wife sailed on the S.S. “Martaban” from Liverpool to Port Said, Egypt, in order for him to take up a position in Cairo as an assistant history master at Elhamish Secondary school. In early 1916 he was given a commission in the Imperial Camel Corps, attached to the Egyptian Camel Transport Corps with the rank of Second Lieutenant, his appointment as an officer perhaps due to his previous experience in the Officers’ Training Corps at Durham University. On 17 March 1917 while swimming he suffered an apparent heart attack and was accidentally drowned. He is buried in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery.

In the summer of 1912 Armstrong had married Ivy, second daughter of Mr and Mrs Robert Curry of New Seaham. Their child was two years old at the time of Armstrong’s drowning. The estate at probate was valued at £210. The family suffered a double tragedy for Reginald Armstrong’s father Edward had died only a few weeks previously.

A letter from the captain of Armstrong’s company to the Armstrong’s wife was published in a local newspaper.

“I wish to tell you how dreadfully sorry all the officers of the Company are at his death. He was universally liked and one of the best officers in the Corps, always unselfish and thoughtful. He was drowned in quite shallow water on a warm, calm day. I think his heart must have failed. He was buried on the 18th March at ......., by the Church of England Chaplain and we are erecting a cross. There are the graves of other soldiers there. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for you and your son. A small grain of comfort is that he died as a real man doing his duty for his country.”

Sunderland Daily Echo, 13 April 1917

Reginald Armstrong’s name is recorded on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross , plaque, and roll of honour, on a plaque in the chapel at Hatfield College, and on the organ case at Christ Church in New Seaham.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

6 April 1917

Image of the Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Second Lieutenant Joseph Charles Ditch Wordsworth

Joseph Wordsworth was born in the summer of 1894, the eldest son of Joseph Ditch Wordsworth and his wife Mary. They lived on the home farm of Garrowby Hall, where Joseph Wordsworth senior was the estate bailiff, and where he remained until at least 1911. The estate was owned then, and now, by the Wood family, viscounts (now earls) Halifax.

Joseph Wordsworth junior attended Archbishop Holgate’s School in York, and then went on to Durham University where he matriculated in the Newcastle Division in 1913 to study for a B.A. (Mathematics Honours) degree at Hatfield Hall. His academic career was curtailed by the war, and his pass in the General Bible Paper (part II) at Easter in 1915 is the last academic record of his presence at the university. Wordsworth was an active figure in his year, serving as president of Hatfield Hall’s choral society and on the committee of its Debating Society; he was also editor of the university’s Journal (June 1915 issue). He was also a member of the Officers’ Training Corps, and it was from the rank of a cadet corporal in 8 Durham Light Infantry T.F. (Durham O.T.C. senior division) that Wordsworth was promoted to second lieutenant on 23 July 1915.

Having served two years with 8 D.L.I., from 1916 in France, Wordsworth was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer on 13 February 1917. Serving with 59 Squadron, flying an R.E. 8 (no. A115), Wordsworth and pilot Second Lieutenant R.W.M. Davies were shot down and killed behind the German lines just to the east of Arras near Roeux on 6 April 1917 by Lieutenant Benert of Jagdstaffel 2. Reported missing, his death was not confirmed until May. Second Lieutenant Joseph Wordsworth is buried at Bois-Carré British Cemetery at Thelus. His sacrifice is commemorated on a plaque in the chapel at Hatfield College.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Tony Wynne.

9 April 1917

Image of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Second Lieutenant Thomas Emery Bainbridge

Thomas Emery Bainbridge was born on 20 June 1894 and baptised at Gateshead Holy Trinity on 8 July. John Taylor Bainbridge, his wife Edith, sons Thomas and John and daughter May then moved back to his hometown of Tynemouth where John Bainbridge was an Assistant Schoolmaster in 1901. Thomas Bainbridge attended Rutherford College for Boys in Newcastle upon Tyne, and by 1911 he was himself an elementary school pupil schoolmaster, aged 16, living with his family at 4 Curtis Road, Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne. He was admitted to train as a school teacher at Bede College in Durham in 1913.

Bede College as a coherent community almost ceased to exist upon the outbreak of war. The students, all Territorials in camp as war was declared in July 1914 were mobilised into the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, 50th division. Those who were not fit or were waiting to be called up went to Cheltenham Training College as nominal Bede students.

Thomas Bainbridge served with the 2/8th Imperial Service Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Durham Light Infantry which was formed in Durham in October 1914 and was deployed to defend the north east coast as far south as the Humber. He was then commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the 29th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) on 23 October 1915. This was the reserve battalion based at Alnwick, but later he was attached to the 21st Battalion (2nd Tyneside Scottish), 102 Brigade, 34th Division, 5th Army.

Early in 1917 the British Army underwent intensive training in preparation for what became called the Battle of Arras. The 34th Division took part in the First Battle of the Scarpe (9-14 April) within that offensive: tunnels were dug and explosives laid, an immense barrage of shells battered the German lines for days. On Easter Monday 9 April 1917 at 05:30 the infantry advanced slowly through no man’s land in the mud and sleet, preceded by a creeping barrage, with the Royal Flying Corps acting as spotters and defenders in their planes above. They gained the Black Line, their first objective, but the Blue Line 1,200 yards beyond cost many lives. The advance was successful in that ground was gained and the Germans were distracted from the French operations on the Aisne led by General Nivelle, but the death toll was enormous.

Second Lieutenant Bainbridge and his platoon sergeant were killed that morning while at work establishing a bombing post during the advance to the Blue Line. He is buried in the Roclincourt Valley Cemetery. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and on war memorials at Brunswick Methodist Chapel and Rutherford College (now re-located at Tyne & Wear Archives) in Newcastle.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

10 April 1917

Image of Private J.G. Moore (Ref: E/HB 2/925)

Private J.G. Moore (Ref: E/HB 2/925)

Private John George Moore

John George Moore was born 12 January 1885 in Cumberland, and raised in Whitehaven by his parents, Joseph Barnes Moore and Dinah Ann Moore. He was already an assistant school teacher by the age of 16, and went on to complete his teacher training at Durham’s Bede College from 1905-7. Whilst at Bede College Moore was a keen and able sportsman, playing association football (the November 1915 edition of The Bede magazine reports that he played a ‘splendid game for the Juniors’) and acting as captain of the rugby team from 1906-7. He was also The Bede magazine’s sports editor in the same year. By 1909 Moore was playing rugby union for Cumberland, as well as the cities of Whitehaven and Durham, and is reported in the Manchester Courier as taking part in the county championship match against Northumberland in October. In July 1907 Moore married Margaret Usher (née Jolly) in Durham, and they had three children together: Lilian was born in 1910, Bertram in 1914, and Mildred in November 1916, just 5 months before Moore’s death in France. In 1911 they were living at 35 Clifford Road in Stanley, Co. Durham, and by October 1914 had moved to Whitehaven, at 6 Preston Street. After spending several years working as an elementary school teacher in Co. Durham, Cumberland and Lancashire, John Moore enlisted on 9 December 1915 for the duration of the war with the 15th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, citing two years’ previous experience in the volunteers. Although there is little information available about his military career, we know that Moore was killed on 10 April 1917, aged 32, during the Battle of Arras which had begun the previous day and in which the 15th Battalion was engaged. He is buried at Cojeul British Cemetery in St Martin-sur-Cojeul, near Arras, and commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Emma Marshall.

11 April 1917

Image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Corporal Henry Lightfoot Hetherington

Henry Lightfoot Hetherington was born 24 November 1893, the second son and third child of John Thomas Hetherington and Jane Ann Hetherington (née Lightfoot). The family lived in the village of Byers Green, Co. Durham where they remained for many years.

There is little information about Henry’s childhood. His father worked his way up at the colliery from heaver, to miner, and eventually to weighman. At the age of seventeen, in 1911, Henry was working as a pupil teacher in a County Council school. He was then still living at home with his parents and five siblings in Wilkinson Street, Byers Green. In 1913, aged 20, Henry entered Bede College to gain his formal teaching qualifications: here he passed his first year exams, but joined up prior to completing second year.

In 1915 Henry joined the 2/5th Lincolnshire Regiment. On 16 April 1916 the 2/5th Lincolns as part of the 59th Midland division were given orders to ‘stand to’ for immediate move. They were sent to Ireland not France, the unit was poorly trained and no further training would be given prior to action in France. In Dublin the 2/5th Lincolns formed part of the cordon to contain Eamon De Valera’s men in the Northumberland Road area near the canal on 28th/29th April 1916, near the end of the Easter Uprising. The regiment occupied the College of Surgeons from the surrender on 29 April to May 27. It was Captain E.J. Hitzen of the 2/5th Lincolns took the surrender of Eamon De Valera at Boland’s Mill.

The 2/5th Lincolns then moved to the front in France and to the Somme. During the Battle of Arras a regimental history of the conflict reports that the battalion occupied a captured German trench on 9 April, and prompted by reports of a general German retreat to the Hinderberg Line was ordered to push forward. Poor patrol intelligence about enemy strong points at a quarry and farm resulted in a very costly advance on positions that had mistakenly been identified as abandoned: there were 259 casualties. The Bede magazine reported in its August issue “H.L. Hetherington was found to be missing after an attack on Wednesday in Easter week. At first it was hoped that he had been taken prisoner, but subsequently his body was found by another Battalion, and buried in a little village cemetery”. This news was relayed to The Bede by two of his contemporaries at the college, Sergeant J.R. Hine and Lance Corporal J.H. King, both of whom had been transferred from the Durham Light Infantry to the Lincolns. Henry was buried in Ste Emilie Valley Cemetery. Corporal Henry Hetherington is remembered on war memorials at Byers Green, Newfield, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. In August 2014 his home village of Byers Green held an exhibition displaying Hetherington’s death medal or Dead Man’s Penny, a commemorative bronze medal presented to his widow.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Christine McGann.

16 April 1917

Image of Lieutenant Alick Todd (Ref: UND/F1/FF/1914/1)

Lieutenant Alick Todd (Ref: UND/F1/FF/1914/1)

Lieutenant Alick Todd

Alick Todd was born at Penshaw, County Durham, in the summer of 1892, the second son and fourth of eight children of Edward Todd, a dental anaesthetist, and his wife Annie. He attended a boarding school in Scarborough, at 10 West Street, and then went on to Durham Grammar School, entering School House in May 1909. There he rowed in the Third Crew, and excelled at rugby, making the first team in 1911. He was also a school monitor in his final year.

He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1912 as an Arts scholar in University College. A Lyndsey and School scholar throughout his time at the university, he was awarded his B.A. (in litteris antiquis), 2nd class, in 1914. Todd was also a fives and rugby player and a shooter, winning the Gee Cup in 1914, captaining his college’s rugby team, and serving as Secretary of the Durham Colleges R.F.C. in his final year. He also sat on the Students’ Representative Council from 1914-1915.

In August 1914 upon the outbreak of war Todd was commissioned Second Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, his probationary period concluding with confirmation of his rank in March 1915. He went with his battalion to France in 1915. He was wounded that year at Richebourg l'Avoue on 17 May. Promoted to lieutenant on 16 March 1916, in October that year he won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry. The citation read as follows.

“He went over our barrier in broad daylight to reconnoitre the enemy's barrier 50 yards away. On the two following days he organised and carried out two successful bombing attacks. He had to go a long way under heavy shell fire while making the arrangements with another unit, and was without food for 24 hours.”

Supplement to the London Gazette no. 2973, p. 10192, 20 October 1916

This must have occurred while Todd temporarily held the rank of captain while commanding a company, between 14 September and 24 October. He was wounded again on 6 January 1917. The Durham University Roll of Service records that Todd also served with the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment in 1915, and the 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, but these appointments are not recorded on his medal card. By March 1917 Todd was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, serving in 18 Squadron as an Observer/Gunner.

Lieutenant Todd was shot down whilst escorting a photographic reconnaissance patrol on 12 April 1917, a day when heavy blizzards restricted flying all day. He and his pilot, Lieutenant O.D. Maxted took off from Bertangles at 08:50, flying FE2b4984, and were engaged by Vizefeldwebel Schorisch of Jasta 12 over Dury-Eterpigny. While Maxted survived, Todd was badly injured, and died of his wounds in captivity four days later, aged 24. He is buried at Sauchy-Cauchy Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. His family were then living at Sidney Villa, Shiney Row, Penshaw, and they chose as an inscription ‘Rest dear son, thy labour is o’er, thy willing hands will toil no more’ for his headstone.

Alick Todd’s sacrifice is commemorated in several places: Durham Grammar School’s War Record (1919) and chapel, a plaque at the church of St Margaret of Antioch in Durham (formerly Durham School’s chapel), a stained glass window at All Saints’ Church in Penshaw, and a war memorial, roll of honour, and plaque at Shiney Row. His younger sister Nora also gave to the church of St Oswald at Shiney Row on 1 November 1918 a chalice and paten dedicated to him.

Additional sources: The War Record of Old Dunelmians (1919); biography compiled by Fiona Johnson for Durham at War. Several photographs of Todd of a sporting nature exist in the Durham University Records, in the Miscellaneous Photograph Albums collection, and the Durham University Records – Colleges collection.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm.

23 April 1917

Image of the Green Howards Regiment cap badge

Green Howards Regiment cap badge

Private Harold Richards

Harold Richards was born in Eston, North Yorkshire in 1878, the third child of William and Mary Ann Richards. He attended Bede College from 1897, and Bede College’s 1899 Annual Report lists Harold as completing his studies that year and taking up a post at Westbury Board School, Thornaby, near Stockton-on-Tees.

Richards enlisted at Northallerton into the 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards), and he is recorded in the December 1916 issue of The Bede magazine in the Roll of Honour as serving in France.

His regiment was part of the 150th (Yorks and Durham) Brigade which was involved in the fighting which became known as the Battle of Arras in early 1917. In response to a German push and successful capture of some trenches around the Scarpe River the British launched the Second Battle of the Scarpe on 23 April. Following a heavy bombardment of the enemy the 150th Brigade advanced and managed to retake all the lost ground. It was during this battle that Richards was killed, at the age of 39. He was reported as killed in action in The Bede magazine in December 1917, and a short obituary was published, (naming him in error as Herbert Richards): “Herbert Richards was acting as stretcher bearer. His officer writes that he with another man made journeys into a very heavy barrage and then stayed in No Man’s Land bandaging wounded men. He adds that if Richards had survived he would have undoubtedly been decorated.”

Harold Richards is buried at Wancourt British Cemetery in France. His name is also remembered on the war memorial Plaque at Normanby, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. (The Plaque and Roll of Honour again mis-identify him as Herbert Richards.)

Research contributors: Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Additional sources: the image of the Green Howards cap badge, taken by Jakednb and published by Wikipedia, is reproduced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

24 April 1917

Image of the Wiltshire Regiment cap badge

The Wiltshire Regiment cap badge

Private John Ashe-Everest

John Ashe-Everest was the son of Frederick James Ashe-Everest, a surveyor and valuer, and Mary Amelia Hall. He was born in Wandsworth in 1894. In 1901, at the age of 6, John was living with his widowed father and younger siblings Mildred and Frederick and a housekeeper in Battersea. By the age of sixteen, in 1911, he was boarding as an apprentice cashier at Whiteley’s department store in Paddington.

On 13 December 1912 he sailed from London to Dominica in the West Indies, and in Epiphany term 1914 he matriculated at Codrington College, Barbados, where he won a First in both parts 1 and 2 of the B.A. degree (in litteris antiquis). Codrington College was at this time affiliated with Durham University. His B.A. was awarded in February 1916 in his absence, as by then he had returned to England and was on military service.

Ashe-Everest enlisted as Private 22127 in the 7th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment at Sutton Verney, living at the time at Torquay, Devon, and went to France in September 1915. The battalion was sent to Salonica in November 1915 as part of the 79th Brigade, 26th Division, and they fought the Bulgarian army near the Macedonian frontier. A fierce attack at Doiran on the 2nd Bulgarian Brigade preceded by heavy artillery bombardment from both sides on 24 April could not be sustained, and the British were finally repulsed with many casualties. The 7th Battalion war diary (transcript) describes the fighting in which all the officers and eight non-commissioned officers were killed, together with many others, including John Ashe-Everest of C Company.

Private John Ashe-Everest is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial and the rolls of honour and memorials of Durham University, 7th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, and Warminster.

Additional sources: The Wardrobe website, The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum. Image of Wiltshire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributor: Pat Atkinson.
Image of the Royal Fusiliers cap badge

The Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private Alfred Ormerod

Alfred Ormerod was born in 1883 to Benjamin, Secretary to a Colliery Company, and Cassandra Ormerod. The 1901 Census records him living with his parents and brother at Sandywood, Pendlebury, Manchester. He attended Manchester Grammar School 1898-1901, and then worked for locomotive builders Nasmyth, Wilson & Co, of Patricroft, and afterwards the engineering department of the coal mining company Andrew Knowles and Son. Deciding instead on a vocational career in the church, he entered Hatfield College in 1911 and gained a B.A. in Theology in 1914. He was about to be ordained by the Bishop of Southwell when war broke out.

With the permission of the Bishop he enlisted at Manchester in August 1914 aged 30 in the 20th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (service no. 5404). After three years of fighting, he was killed in France during the Second Battle of the Scarpe, part of the Battle of Arras, on 24 April 1917. The Durham University Journal reported in its December 1919 issue that he was mortally wounded whilst running to bring a stretcher for his Platoon Sergeant who had been seriously wounded. He was hit in the stomach by a piece of shrapnel and died almost immediately.

Private Ormerod is buried at Wancourt British Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Ormerod family grave in Glossop Cemetery, a plaque at Hatfield College chapel, the war memorial and roll of honour at St Augustines Church, Pendlebury and Manchester Grammar School. A younger brother, James Ormerod, had been killed during the Battle of the Somme on 20 October 1916.

Research contributors: Alisoun Roberts, Heather Ross, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

25 April 1917

Image of the York and Lancaster Regiment cap badge

York and Lancaster Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Frank Lupton

Frank Lupton was born 9 July 1892 at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea in Northumberland, the eldest son of three children of William Joseph Lupton, a coal hewer, and his wife Annie Webster. By 1901 the family had moved to 89 Severn Street in nearby Hirst: William Joseph Lupton was probably working in the Ashington Colliery. Better prospects in Canadian mines would lead him in May 1912 to leave his family and sail for Quebec and ultimately Sydney, Nova Scotia, with fellow miner William S. Lupton, probably a younger brother and also married.

Frank Lupton attended Blyth Secondary School, and then went on to Bede College from 1913 to 1915 to obtain a teaching qualification. He did not complete his second year as he was by then on military service.

Already a professional musician by the age of 19 in 1911, he gave a solo piano performance at Ravensworth Park Camp on 13 October 1914 to B Company Bede men past and present who had gathered in the Y.M.C.A. marquee there for a variety production of monologues, songs and recitations. Like all Bede men, during his time at the college he was also a member of B Company, 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (T.F.), serving as Private.

By March 1916 Lupton had re-joined 8 D.L.I. and had been promoted to corporal. By 25 October of that year he had trained and been commissioned as a temporary lieutenant (attached), and was formally transferred to the York and Lancaster Regiment on 27 January 1917. It was with the 10th (Service) Battalion of that regiment, 63rd Brigade, 37th Division, that he was serving when he was killed in action on 25 April 1917 during an early phase of the Battle of Arras. His body was never recovered.

Second Lieutenant Frank Lupton is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. His campaign medals were sent out to his father in Canada. He is also remembered on war memorials at Blyth Secondary School (now closed), three war memorials (1, 2, 3) in Ashington, and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: image of the cap badge of the York and Lancaster Regiment by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: David Butler, Anabel Farrell, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

28 April 1917

Image of 2nd Lt. W. Mitchell (Ref: E/HB 2/696. Durham County Record Office copyright record.office@durham.gov.uk)

2nd Lt. W. Mitchell (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Second Lieutenant William Mitchell

William Mitchell was the only son of Ernest Mitchell, a draper’s assistant, and his wife Ada (née Ladd), of 19 Hedley Avenue, Blyth. He was born at Blyth on 1 September 1893. In 1911 at the age of 17 he was an apprentice teacher at Bebside County School in Blyth, and in 1912 became a student at Bede College in Durham.

As was the custom, with the rest of his 1912 cohort, on 15 November 1912 Mitchell joined the 8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (T.F.). As a group they were embodied into the regiment in August 1914 and sent for home training to Sunderland and other places around the north-east.

The battalion arrived in France on 20 April 1915, and without further preparation was sent as part of the Northumbrian Brigade directly into front line trenches during the Second Battle of Ypres. They were there to fill a gap created by the first use of gas by the enemy against French divisions attempting to hold the line. On 28 April, during the battle of St Julien Mitchell received a gunshot wound to his leg and was treated first at a field ambulance, then a Casualty Clearing Station and finally the Australian Voluntary Hospital at Bailleul before being invalided home on 29April 1915.

In November 1915 after completing his 3 years’ engagement in the Territorial Force he was discharged. No record can be found of his activities in 1916. After probably 4½ months of training in an Officer Cadet Unit for training Mitchell was on 1 March 1917 commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant and attached to the 25th (Pals) Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish), Northumberland Fusiliers. This unit was part of 34th Division of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in 3rd Army commanded by General Edmund Allenby. Preparations were then being made for what became called the Battles of the Scarpe and Arleux which were part of the Arras offensive in April 1917. Second Lieutenant Mitchell was posted as missing on 28 April following an action near Fampoux in which his battalion advanced toward Plouvain and succeeded in securing its objective, but at great cost, and which had to be abandoned at nightfall as the Germans began encircling the position. Mitchell’s commanding officer reported that the “battalion went into battle with 13 officers and came out with 5”, and as many as 162 of 264 Other Ranks were missing at the end of the engagement; “the list of killed will be high as the Germans sniped the wounded all day in the open”. The Bede magazine of April1918 reports that while lying wounded in a shell hole he was hit by a bullet and killed: his body was never found. A good trench map recording the attack survives in the battalion war diary (WO 95/2467/1).

William Mitchell is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg d’Arras cemetery in the Pas de Calais. He is also remembered on several war memorials at Blyth: the war memorial in Ridley Park, the war memorial on Cowpen Road, a plaque at the Blyth County Secondary School (now closed), and a plaque and roll of honour in St Cuthbert’s church. His name is also listed in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

3 May 1917

Image of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

Second Lieutenant John Wynne Lisle

John Wynne Lisle was born c. 1891 in Hanson Place, Old Monkland, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire the son of Thomas Lisle and Rose Lisle (née Romanov). John Romanov, a joiner and general dealer, had been born in Easingwold, Yorkshire and his wife, Hannah, was from Collingham, near Hull, Yorkshire. Rose Romanov was born in York and Thomas Lisle in Beaufort, Monmouthshire. John Wynne Lisle’s brother, Thomas, and sister, Florence, were also born in Scotland but by 1895 the family had moved back to York, where Thomas Lisle was employed as a Foreman Chocolate Maker in a cocoa factory. Younger siblings, James and Edith May, were born in York. By 1911 John Wynne Lisle had become an apprentice cabinet-maker and his brother Thomas an apprentice printer. Their sister, Florence was employed as a clerk in the cocoa factory.

On completion of his apprenticeship, at some point John took a post at Saint Chad’s College, Durham as part of the maintenance team. He is listed in 1915 in the college’s The Stag magazine (vol. 3, no. 10, Epiphany 1915) as having matriculated to St Chad’s Hostel, Hooton Pagnell, but there is no further record of his university career, although the following is recorded in St Chad’s College Magazine, (no. 8, 1950, p.31): “John Wynne Lisle, one of the Hostel students, before leaving for the Front as a private, left directions with his relatives that in the event of his death, his books should be given to St Chad’s and £5 invested in War Loan for the Hall. He was posted ‘wounded and missing’ and 12 months later his death was presumed by the War Office”

John Lisle enlisted into the 16th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, which had been formed as the Church Lads’ Brigade Battalion. He was posted to France on 16 of December 1916 in a batch of 112 other ranks to bolster the strength of the battalion following heavy losses. Promoted to Corporal he was selected for a commission, and on 12 April 1917 on completion of his training course he was transferred to the 15th (Service) Battalion (1st Leeds) of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) on 12 of April 1917. He was posted missing in action on 3 May 1917, when his regiment was engaged in one of the final battles of the Arras offensive, the Third Battle of the Scarpe. Although listed as belonging to the 15th Battalion, it is unclear as to which battalion he was serving in when he went missing.

Second Lieutenant John Lisle’s name is recorded on the Arras Memorial. He is also remembered on a plaque in St Olaf’s church, York, and a reredos and roll of honour.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102. The image of the cap badge of the West Yorkshire Regiment is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) cap badge

The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) cap badge

Second Lieutenant George Cork Dalgoutté

George Cork Dalgoutté was born 11 March 1891 in Pudsey, West Yorkshire, the third child of Charles Frederick Dalgoutté, a sergeant of police in the West Riding Constabulary (and himself the son of a police inspector), and his wife Martha Olivia Dalgoutté. At his birth the family lived at 76 Greenside in Pudsey, but later moved to Keighley, Yorkshire, and then Leeds. In 1910 his father, then a widower and a police pensioner, remarried Mary Hannah Lawson; he was working as a commercial traveller.

George Dalgoutté attended the Trade and Grammar School in Keighley. By the age of 20 George was a teacher at an elementary school, boarding with Elizabeth Steeples in Mapplewell, Yorkshire. He then attended Bede College 1914-1915, in order to obtain a professional teaching qualification. His family was then living at 60 Sefton Road, Sandylands in Morecambe. He completed his training in July 1915, and passed the Certificate Examination, with distinction in Theory of Education and in Drawing, and with credit in English and Mathematics.

In October 1915 the Morecambe Visitor and Heysham Chronicle reported that George Dalgoutté had written, in a letter to his mother, that “I cannot conscientiously accept an appointment. With two younger brothers serving it is my duty to follow their example”. This must refer to his having refused a teaching post, for in August 1915 he had enlisted, joining the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) and was attached to the Honourable Artillery Company (H.A.C.). Both his brothers survived the war.

George Dalgoutté served in France from 8 January 1916. He obtained his commission on 29 December 1916, and served in the 14th Division of The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own), 8th Battalion. The Battalion fought at Hooge, being the first unit to experience an attack by flamethrowers. They were in action again at Bellewaarde. In 1916 they were on the Somme, seeing action in the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

In 1917 the 8th Battalion fought in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the First and Third Battle of the Scarpe at Arras. Dalgoutté was reported to have been killed in action on 3 May 1917, at which time the battalion was engaged in heavy fighting in the Third Battle of the Scarpe. This was a combined British and Australian assault on German lines at Monchy, the Scarpe and Bullecourt in an attempt to reach the Wotanstellung, a major German defensive fortification. However, neither force was able to make any significant advances, and the attack was quickly called off, but not before incurring heavy casualties.

As George’s body was never found his sacrifice is commemorated at the Arras Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, and on war memorials at Farsley and at Heysham, Lancaster. He left a young widow living at Priory Road in London, Florrie Durkin, whom he had married whilst home on leave on 27 January 1917: no children are known.

Additional sources: image of the cap badge of the The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: David Butler, Linda Macdonald, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.
Image of LCpl W.E. Marshall (Ref: E/HB 2/670. Durham County Record Office copyright record.office@durham.gov.uk)

LCpl W.E. Marshall (Ref: E/HB 2/670)

Lance Corporal William Ernest Marshall

William Ernest Marshall, born at Haltwhistle on 20 July 1893, was the eldest of four sons of Arthur and Margaret Marshall of Lambley, a small village in Northumberland. Arthur Marshall was a foreman at a nearby whinstone quarry, but sometime before 1911 the family had moved to Carlisle, where he was then a colliery labourer above ground.

From 1911 to 1913 William Marshall attended Bede College. There he was a prefect, and in July 1913 he completed his teacher training. He passed English with distinction, passing Botany as an optional subject, and overall he achieved a first class qualification. Marshall went on to become a teacher at Hirst East Council School in Ashington, living in lodgings there, before volunteering after the outbreak of war on 21 September 1914 with the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.

The battalion embarked on foreign service in December 1915, first serving in Egypt before moving to France on 5 March 1916. He was promoted to lance corporal in August 1916, being confirmed (and paid) in that rank the following month. In November, Marshall wrote a lengthy and interesting article for The Bede magazine entitled ‘Bede Abroad II: Record of the Pals’, continuing a narrative broken off when an earlier correspondent had been wounded. This piece described the battalion’s summer and autumn in France, including casualties, heroic deeds and amusing anecdotes. The article was not published until the December issue of the magazine, but shortly after it had been written, on 7 November, Marshall suffered shell shock and contusions when a shell hit the dugout in which he was resting and partially buried him. He was sent back to England on 12 November to recover over the winter of 1916, before returning to France on 2 January 1917.

The 18th Battalion took part in the Third Battle of the Scarpe, part of the Battle of Arras, on the 3-4 May 1917. Marshall was killed on the first day, aged 23, when a shell hit the trench in which he was sheltering and he and others “were not seen again”, as reported by Major Lowe. Another report of his death, printed in the August 1917 issue of The Bede magazine and following immediately upon a short article contributed by Marshall himself, states that his death occurred in an open position, when his platoon formed a linking line across several shell holes in front of a wood “which has so far defied our army” – probably Oppy Wood. “But evidently the enemy’s observers had spotted us, for in the evening (May 3rd) we were suddenly shelled, the shells being so well on the mark that several of us received showers of earth, while the smoke was also overpowering. Our officer at once gave the order to make for a line of shell-holes about two hundred yards to the rear, and it was after re-organising on this new position that we discovered some men were missing”.

Marshall was described as a “great loss to our platoon, because he was such a keen and capable scout”. He has no grave, being ‘presumed dead’, but his name is included on the Arras Memorial. Marshall is also commemorated on the Lambley war memorial, the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), and the Bede College 1914-18 Plaque, Cross and Roll of Honour. He kept in touch with Bede College through letters and articles right up until his death.

Research contributors: David Butler, Emma Marshall.
Image of Sgt J.J. Sanderson (Ref: E/HB 2/685)

Sgt J.J. Sanderson (Ref: E/HB 2/685)

Sergeant James Johnson Sanderson

James Sanderson was born on 15 January 1891 at Liverton Mines in Yorkshire, the fifth son of seven children of William Sanderson, a winding engineman at the ironstone mine there, and of his wife Elizabeth.

Following the example of his brother George Gordon Sanderson, a pupil teacher in 1901, James Sanderson attended St Bede College 1909-1911 in order to obtain a professional teaching qualification. He was then appointed as a certificated assistant, and taught at Barrington School in Houghton-le-Spring and at Hetton-le-Hole Church of England County Council School.

Shortly after war broke out, on 21 September 1914, Sanderson enlisted at Durham with the 18th (Service) ‘Durham Pals’ Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry; he was posted as a private three days later. He went with the battalion to Egypt, garrisoning the Suez Canal at El Qantara from 22 December 1915 until the unit was posted to France, arriving there on 11 March 1916. He was clearly a proficient soldier as his service papers record a sequence of promotions to Lance Corporal (unpaid) in July 1916, corporal in August 1916, having survived the Battle of the Somme, lance sergeant and then quickly sergeant in March 1917. An account of a German raid he contributed to The Bede magazine in December 1916 testifies to the constant pressure he and his comrades were under on a daily basis when in the front line in months between the larger well-known battles. The narrative is a lively read, with much dialogue: the unsuccessful attack resulted in one D.C.M. – to Sergeant Mark Pinkney, another Bede man who survived the war - and two Military Medals being awarded.

Sanderson was killed during the closing days of the Battle of Arras on 3 May 1917. As reported in The Bede (August 1917) he was killed instantly by a shell as the battalion was going along a shallow trench into the line probably at Oppy Wood. In the darkness several of his friends had to pass over him and others killed with him, and only learned later who they were. Among his effects later returned to the family was a book poems.

A small wooden cross was later erected to mark his grave, but this must have been lost for his name is recorded in France now only on the Arras Memorial. His sacrifice is also commemorated on several war memorials in England: a gravestone and war memorial at St Michael’s church, Liverton; the Durham County Council war memorial; the Bede College 1914-18 Plaque, Cross and Roll of Honour; and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920). His last known address, that stated at probate, was 39 Station Road, Hetton-le-Hole.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

29 May 1917

Image of the Border Regiment cap badge

The Border Regiment cap badge

Lieutenant Frank Postlethwaite Joyce

Frank Joyce was born in 1894, the second son and third child of Rev. Henry M. Joyce, vicar of Nicholforest, Cumbria, and his wife Isabella. He attended St John’s School in Leatherhead, and matriculated at Durham University at Michaelmas 1910, joining Hatfield Hall. In 1912 he won the Barry (Divinity) scholarship. He captained his college’s football team, was very active in its cricket and rugby teams, and also played as a forward for the Durham Colleges football team, (serving also as its secretary). He was senior man in his college in 1912, and graduated in Easter 1913 with 2nd Class Honours in Theology.

He was preparing to enter a career in the Church when war broke out in 1914, but he enlisted as a private in the 4th Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and was then made a temporary second lieutenant on 6 February 1915. He was transferred from a reserve battalion to the Border Regiment, 7th (Service) Battalion, on 12 May 1916. He was wounded at Fricourt on 3 July 1916 in an attack on Bottom Wood, during the early stages of the Battle of the Somme. On 12 November of that year he was promoted to temporary lieutenant, and in February 1917 he was temporarily promoted to acting captain to cover for the Company Commander, then away on sick leave. He is reported to have been recommended for a permanent commission. Lieutenant Frank Joyce was killed on 29 May 1917. The exact circumstances of his death are not known, but the battalion’s war diary (WO 95/2008/1) reports they experienced that day “considerable hostile activity in artillery fire on support & communication trenches”, and a patrol clashed with a German patrol in no man’s land and received some machine-gun fire. Joyce is buried at Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the war memorial at St Nicholas’ Church, Nicholforest, and on a plaque in Hatfield College chapel in Durham.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

31 May 1917

Image of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Frederick Henry Wright

Frederick Henry Wright was born in Wylam, Northumberland on 31 January 1880, the third son of Thomas Bell Wright of Byers Green, Co. Durham, and of Sarah Grace Wright (née Hauxwell) of Great Ayton, Yorkshire. In the census of 1901 Frederick Wright was living at the Station House at Wylam and was described as ‘student for schoolmaster’ for he was then at Bede College. His mother had died in 1889 and his father married again in April 1901 to a Miss Jane Ann Blacklock. Also living at the Station House in 1901 were his father, the Stationmaster, his stepmother, his brother William Hauxwell Wright, a railway clerk, his sisters Jane, and Grace, a pupil teacher who later emigrated to South Africa, and his youngest brother Thomas Bell, who was a clerk in a shipping office. His eldest brother John George Wright was already married and working as a railway clerk in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne: he went on to become the Stationmaster at Cramlington.

In 1900 Frederick Henry Wright entered Bede College and completed his training as a schoolmaster on 30 June 1902. He subsequently worked as a junior school teacher and at the time of his enlistment was employed at Canning Street School in Benwell, Newcastle. In the summer of 1907 Frederick Wright married Elizabeth Mary Byerley, a farmer’s daughter from Grange Houses, Stamfordham. They had two children, Geoffrey Byerley Wright who was born 23 April 1910, and Freda Margaret Wright who was born 28 March 1914. In the 1911 census Frederick Wright, his wife Elizabeth and their son Geoffrey were living at 110 Fairholme Road, Newcastle.

Wright joined the 24th battalion (1st Tyneside Irish) Northumberland Fusiliers, but the date of his enlistment is not known, nor is it known when he was first posted to France. His battalion was formed in 1914, entered France in January 1916, and fought at the Somme. In the spring of 1917 it was engaged in the Arras offensive, and it was in the aftermath of these battles that Wright was killed near Saint Nicholas (Gavrelle Sector) on 31 May. The battalion war diary (WO 95/2466/4) records that they had marched into the line that day at 20:30, relieving the 9th Battalion Durke of Wellington Regiment, and it was whilst bringing rations and water up to the battalion in the line that Wright and C.Q.M.S. Harnott were killed by shellfire. Wright was then serving as Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, and so his and Harnott’s loss would have been a significant blow to the unit.

Wright’s death was announced in the Newcastle Journal on 21 June 1917, where his wife’s address was given as 60 Denton Gardens in Benwell. A portrait of R.Q.M.S. Wright was published in the Hexham Courant on 23 June 1917. Wright was buried at the St Nicolas British Cemetery on the north side of Arras. He is also remembered in the village of Wylam, where he was born, on the war memorial cross, on a plaque in the Falcon Centre (formerly North Wylam Council School), and on panelling in St Oswin’s Church. He is listed in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), and commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: war diary (WO 95/2466/4) transcribed by Aubrey Smith; British Newspaper Archive.
Researchers: Joyce Malcolm, Aubrey Smith, Susan Tyson.

22 June 1917

Image of C.S.M. Thomas Chrisp (Ref: E/HB 2/696. Durham County Record Office copyright record.office@durham.gov.uk)

C.S.M. Thomas Chrisp (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Company Sergeant Major Thomas Chrisp

Thomas Chrisp was born 7 October 1892 at Elsdon in Northumberland, the eldest son of four children of Thomas Chrisp, then a Police Constable, and his wife Isabella (née Charlton). His father transferred to Seaton Sluice in 1896, and his career then led him successively to Seaton Delaval, Norham, and in 1905 Wooler. Promotion to Inspector followed in 1907.

Thomas Chrisp junior first attended school at Wooler. He then won a bursary as part of a Northumberland County Council apprenticeship scheme for pupil teachers to the Duke’s School at Alnwick, which he attended 1906-1911. His academic instruction was balanced by practical teaching experience, and Chrisp first served as a salaried pupil-teacher at his old school in Wooler and then moved to a school in Alnwick. He also spent some time teaching at St Margaret’s Church School in Durham City, although it is not known when. He excelled at the Duke School, playing in the school football team, serving as prefect, and he passed the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1910. He was also active in the school’s Literary and Debating Society, and once spoke in support of the motion “In the opinion of this House arbitration is a better means than war of settling international disputes”, and which was carried by 21 votes to 18. However his years there were marred by the early death of his father on 29 January 1910. The family subsequently moved to Alnwick.

Having finished his apprenticeship scheme Chrisp took up a post as an Uncertificated Assistant teacher at Guide Post Primary School, near Choppington, in September 1911. It was here that he met his future wife, May Hedley, who also joined the school staff that year, but as a better qualified Certified Assistant. This may have spurred him to apply to the teacher training course at Bede College in Durham, and which he attended 1912-1914. At Bede College Chrisp was in the second class, and passed the Certificate Examination successfully in July 1914. His time at the college was much taken up with sport, and his achievements in rugby, rowing, tennis, cross-county running, and, principally, football, can be followed in The Bede magazine. He also continued to participate in lively college debates, and was a talented artist. But any plans he might have had to return to his school as a newly Certified Assistant were thwarted by the outbreak of war.

All Bede students during their time at the college served as volunteers in the 8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry (T.F.), in which they formed their own Company. Indeed the Bede men were at a training camp when war was declared, and a large contingent immediately signed up for service abroad, Thomas Chrisp among them. After a further period of training the battalion was dispatched to France on 19 April 1915, and quickly moved up to the front line to participate in the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge on 25 April, part of the Second Battle of Ypres. Fuller details of this engagement and the heavy losses the battalion suffered can be found above under the biographies of the Bede men who were killed that day. Thomas Chrisp came out of the encounter with two gunshot wounds, to his right arm and left thigh. Hospital treatment and then a period of convalescence in England followed. After he had recovered Chrisp was promoted to Sergeant Major and assigned to train new recruits. It was in this period, on 24 June 1916, that Thomas Chrisp married May Hedley at Hexham, where Thomas Chrisp’s mother was then working as a caretaker for the Abbey; a son would follow on 17 March 1917.

Chrisp re-joined his battalion in France in July 1916, and took part in heavy fighting on the Somme through August and September. In one particular action on 29 September, described in The Bede magazine excerpt below, his actions were such that he won the Military Medal, awarded to him on 22 October, and which was gazetted on 9 December 1916.

“The Battalion carries out a bombing raid along an old German C. T. [Communications Trench] which we were holding as a front line, meeting with great resistance, and, after our store of bombs had been exhausted, subject to heavy grenade fire from the German positions. In spite of heavy losses we succeed in holding on to our position. During this raid 2nd Lt. Bewick was killed and 2nd Lt. Wallace seriously wounded. Our stretcher-bearers did magnificent work on this occasion, rescuing our wounded from under the very feet of the Germans. Serjeant Chrisp earned his M.M. during this stunt.”

The Bede magazine, vol. 13, no. 2, April 1917, p.5

The battalion spent the next period attacking the Butte de Warlencourt, and in early April 1917 moved north to participate in the Battle of Arras.

Sergeant Major Chrisp was killed on 23 June 1917 by a German shell which caught him just as he was entering his dugout. He was buried at Neuville-Vitasse Road Cemetery. An obituary published in The Bede magazine in August 1917 recorded his comrades’ sense of loss. “The whole Company mourns his loss. He was always a true friend to the men, and one to whom they always went in any trouble. If anyone was in want, of anything, they always said ‘go and ask the Major’ … and very rarely were they refused.” His widow and young son were then living at Summerleigh in Choppington. May Chrisp would return to teaching in 1920.

Thomas Chrisp’s sacrifice is commemorated on several war memorials across the north east of England, at: Wooler School; the Duke’s School in Alnwick; St Margaret’s Church and School in Durham; Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour; the 8th Battalion D.L.I. Drill Hall; the Town Hall in Durham City; the Comrades’ Club in Durham City; Hexham Abbey and War Memorial Hospital (now demolished); St Paul’s Church reredos and cross in Choppington; and the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920) Durham section.

Additional sources: a more detailed three-part biography of Thomas Chrisp by Jane Glass, to whom the Universities at War team make grateful acknowledgement, is published by the Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery, Alnwick.
Research contributors: David Butler, Jane Glass, Joyce Malcolm, Sam Trounson.

10 July 1917

Image of the Royal Fusiliers cap badge

The Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private Ernest Hill

Ernest Hill was born at Wingate, County Durham, in January 1892, the elder of two sons of William Hill, a Welshman born in Pontypridd, and his wife Sarah who was from Guisborough in Yorkshire. They moved house regularly: between 1895 and 1917 they lived successively at Brandon Colliery, Esh Winning, Wingate in County Durham, Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire, and South Kirkby, near Wakefield. William was employed at one time as a stoneman in a coal mine and at another as a cycle examiner. In 1911 Ernest Hill was employed as a student teacher, and his brother, Charles, was an invoice clerk.

In the same year Ernest Hill began his first year of professional teacher training at Bede College, a course which he completed in 1913, passing the Certificate examination. He is listed in the college’s annual reports in the second Divinity Class. Bede College was keen to encourage the value of sport amongst its students and Hill is named in its boat crews and hockey team.

In May 1917 Hill enlisted at Grimsby into the Norfolk Regiment as a private soldier. This is in contrast to many of his contemporaries at Bede College who joined northern regiments, usually the Durham Light Infantry or the Northumberland Fusiliers, and consequently Hill’s subsequent career is comparatively sparsely recorded in the college’s magazine. After a short period of basic training on 12 June 1917 Hill, together with other recent recruits, transferred to the 2nd Battalion (City of London) Royal Fusiliers. The regimental diary has no mention of new arrivals on that day, but on 10 July it had noted that “draft of 39 joined – very little training”. At that time the battalion was based at Landes, and was engaged in training, resting, and sports activities. On 26 June the battalion moved to Proven for further rest and recuperation.

The bare circumstances of Hill’s death can be traced in the battalion’s war diary (WO 95/2301/3). From 6-9 July X,Y and Z Companies of the battalion provided working parties for reconstruction of local roads in the Woesten area (160 men) and supported XIV Corps Royal Engineers in a forward area (360 men): the men were split into units of one officer and forty men. On 8 July the war diary notes one killed and three wounded among the other ranks, and one accidentally wounded; in addition two other ranks were killed whilst attached to a Divisional Salvage Company. On 9 July two other ranks are reported to have been wounded, and one other rank to have died of wounds: this was probably Ernest Hill, whose death was dated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as having occurred on 10 July 1917. Four members of this battalion, including Ernest Hill, were buried at Canada Farm Cemetery, having been killed over this period.

Private Ernest Hill’s sacrifice is also commemorated on the cenotaph at Barton-upon-Humber, and on Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

13 July 1917

Image of the Machine Gun Corps cap badge

Machine Gun Corps cap badge

Second Lieutenant John Constantine Nuthall

John Nuthall was born on 12 November 1888 at Dibrugarh in Assam, India, the son of Arthur Frederic Nuthall, a tea planter, and his wife Constance Mary née Prichard. The Nuthalls had a strong Indian connection: both John Nuthall’s father and uncle, Lt.-Col. Henry John Nuthall, were born there, and his uncle was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1907 as veteran of the 1857 Rebellion.

John Nuthall was educated at Clifton College in Bristol, and then matriculated at Durham University at Epiphany 1909, joining University College. At the university his academic career was a smooth one, passing his finals in Litteris Antiquis and, in the first division, in Theology in Michaelmas 1911 and Epiphany 1912 respectively. He was awarded his B.A. in Classics in 1912 and was then granted his M.A. in 1914. His achievements in sport were noteworthy. He played hockey for the Durham Colleges division of the university. He also played for his college in its football and rugby teams, and represented the university in its tennis and cricket teams, captaining the latter. The Sphinx student magazine covers many of his fixtures, and records in November 1912 that Nuthall’s batting average was 21.5, and his strike rate was 5.62.

After leaving Durham he taught Classics at Bloxham School near Banbury, until 1914. He continued to excel at sport there, and also edited the school magazine, The Bloxhamist. He married Clara Evelyn Ormond in Pembroke on 30 July 1915. Evelyn was the third daughter of Richard Ormond, a Pembroke merchant and silk dealer. Nuthall then taught at a preparatory school near East Grinstead. Having been a cadet in the university’s O.T.C., on 5 September 1916 Nuthall was commissioned as a second lieutenant (on probation) in the Machine Gun Corps. He served with the 14th Company M.G.C. in Belgium from 23 April 1917, and was killed three months later on 13 July just outside Nieuport in Belgium. A fellow office, Lieutenant Owen Bentley wrote of his death,

“In pursuit of his duty he had accompanied the ration party up to forward headquarters. After performing his duty in the town he was struck by shrapnel as he left the town. Though alive when we picked him up, he died a few minutes later, with apparently no suffering. … Though he had been with us but a short while, he had become liked by all.”

Lt. Owen Bentley, quoted in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-18

He was buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery. John Nuthall’s sacrifice is commemorated in Cheltenham at St Stephen’s Church. His name is also recorded on the war memorial at Bloxham School, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service.

Additional sources: a short biography, with a portrait photograph, is published by Matt Dixon in the Bloxham School Roll of Honour.
Research contributors: Pauline Walden.

17 July 1917

Image of the South Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

South Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Norman Rhead Potts

Norman Rhead Potts was born in the autumn of 1891 at Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, to James Potts and Julia Ann Pennington née Rhead, both of whom had been previously widowed. They had three children, William James, Laura Rhead, and Norman Rhead, while John Potts, and Jane, Elizabeth and Agnes Pennington were their half siblings. James and Julia Potts ran a successful grocery business (with an off-licence by 1911), keeping a domestic servant. In 1911 Norman Potts was assisting his father in the business.

He then went to St Chad’s Hostel, Sandford Hill, Longton, (a different institution to that at Hooton Pagnell), and matriculated in the Epiphany term of 1913 as an Arts student at Hatfield Hall, University of Durham. He studied the arithmetic, Euclid and English history, completed six terms’ attendance and finally satisfied the examiners in 1914, passing in the first division, to gain his B.A. He left no trace in the sporting, musical or debating records of the time. He was at Lichfield College preparing for ordination to holy orders when war broke out, and he quickly joined the army.

On 8 July 1915 as one of a group of former O.T.C. cadets he was commissioned as temporary second lieutenant, and transferred to a service battalion. On 1 September 1916 he was appointed temporary lieutenant while employed as bombing officer in the Training Reserve. On 19 March 1917 he was attached as an acting second lieutenant to the 9th (Pioneer) Service Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. At Dickebusch in West Flanders this unit was attacked on 18 July 1917 with mustard gas for the first time. The battalion’s war diary (WO 95/2178/2) records that on the night of 19 July a direct shell hit killed Potts alongside two other officers, wounding a fourth officer and ten other ranks.

Norman Potts is buried in the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension in West Flanders and commemorated on the war memorial in Fenton Town Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, a memorial now at risk as the hall has been sold and closed. Potts is also commemorated on the Hatfield College war memorial and the Durham University roll of honour.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of the South Staffordshire Regiment is from the Europeana 1914-1918 project [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Heather Ross.

23 July 1917

Image of Corporal R. Mutimer (Ref: UND/GD38/EA1907)

Corporal R. Mutimer (Ref: UND/GD38/EA1907)

Corporal Ronald Mutimer

Ronald Mutimer was born at Middridge on 29 April 1888 and baptised a month later at Shildon on 24 May. His father Edward Holley Mutimer was a certificated schoolmaster from a Suffolk family, though born in London, and his mother Margaret came from Northumberland. His elder brother Edward Robert Mutimer died in Rothbury in 1899 at the age of 15. Douglas Mutimer, his younger brother, was a clerk at an architect’s office in Darlington in 1901, and later a fitter, and who enlisted in the 5th Durham Light Infantry in 1912 but was discharged on fitness grounds. He enlisted again in September 1914 and was again discharged. He had Pott’s disease (tuberculosis of the spine) and died in Sherburn Hospital in 1931. Gladys Eliza Mutimer, born eight years after Douglas, completed the family.

Ronald Mutimer went to St John’s Church of England School in Darlington, and then Barnard Castle School. He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1905, and came to Hatfield Hall where he was admitted as an Arts student. In 1907 he was awarded a Theological exhibition. He participated enthusiastically in many college sports and in the university’s social life.

Mutimer was awarded his colours in March 1906 by the Durham Colleges A.F.C., and a Palatinate by the University A.F.C. for which he played in goal in the 1906/07 season. In his second year he was the secretary of football and fives and represented these sports in Hatfield Hall Senior Common Room. His boat won the 1907 mixed fours Inter-Collegiate Rowing, and he played inter-collegiate cricket and rugby for Durham Colleges. He and his partner Edmund Turner were among the Hatfield Fives players that won the Inter-Colleges Cup in March of that year.

In 1906 the Durham University Journal reported that Hatfield Hall Debating Society debated the motion “That the recreations of the British Public are to be deplored”:

“R. Mutimer seconded the opposition. He pointed out that a large proportion of the crowds who watch matches consists of boys and young men who go in order to learn how to play. Gambling he did not regard as a recreation at all. His remarks were concise and to the point.”

Durham University Journal, volume XVII, no. 8, 24 November 1906

The Journal records that two days later at a Hatfield Hall Choral Society concert “Mortimer gave an excellent rendering of ‘Three for Jack’ which song is eminently suited to his powerful voice” (Durham University Journal, volume XVII, no.9, 1906).

Ronald Mutimer satisfied the examiners in his final examinations for a B.A. in Classical and General Literature in the Easter term 1907, and then went to the University of Grenoble for six months. From January to December 1908 he taught at Sandwich Grammar School, and then in 1909 became a teacher of French at Darlington Grammar School alongside his college friend Edmund Turner.

He enlisted as Private no. 2970 in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) regiment in September 1914 upon the outbreak of war. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 26 August 1915, then Corporal on 5 January 1916, and went to France with the 21st Battalion (4th Public Schools) in November 1915. During the winter and spring of 1916 the battalion served as part of the 98th Brigade of the 33rd Division near Albert during the preparations for fighting on the Somme. On 15 March 1916 he was transferred to England to join the 6th Officer Battalion at Balliol College Oxford as a cadet where he was again promoted to Corporal. A supplement to the London Gazette, published on 25 July 1915 recorded that Ronald Mutimer was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment on 7 July 1916.

The following day he married Florence Proud at Darlington Parish Church. He joined his regiment on 14 July. On 13 October a notice was published in the London Gazette that Ronald Mutimer had been dismissed from the service after a court martial for drunkenness. The death in action of his friend E.S. Turner on 21 August could have been a factor.

Mutimer’s service record records (WO 339/60170 and WO 363) that he was re-called for service almost immediately and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery (R.G.A.) as a gunner. His service was reckoned from 4 October 1916. In December he attended a course at Catterick Bridge on ‘Plotting and observation of fire’. He was promoted to Acting Corporal and returned to France on 5 April 1917.

Siege Batteries of the R.G.A. were equipped with heavy howitzers that sent large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectories to drop into the enemy’s defences.

On 22 or 23 July 1917 (Commonwealth War Graves Commission records provide both dates) during the massive artillery build-up to the Battle of Passchendaele Corporal Ronald Mutimer, then with the 297th Siege Battery, was killed in action. Four days later a notice in the London Gazette recorded that he had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.

He was buried in Dickebusch Military Cemetery Extension and his identity disc returned to his wife Florence in Darlington. She was awarded a gratuity of £21.0.6 and did not marry again. She died in Darlington in 1962.

There are memorials to Ronald Mutimer on his family grave in Darlington West Cemetery, at St John’s Church of England School in Darlington, at Barnard Castle School (stained glass windows and roll of honour), Darlington Grammar School, Darlington Library, and at Hatfield College.

Additional sources: the photograph of the Durham Colleges football team [1905 x 1907] (UND/GD38/EA1907) was donated to Durham University by Judith Walker, a descendant of Edmund Sanctuary Turner (1885-1916; Hatfield Hall, B.A. 1907).
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Alan Boyland, Pat Burgess, Caroline Craggs, Marie-Therese Pinder, Judith Walker.

31 July 1917

Image of Lt. L. Whiteley (Ref: The Sphinx magazine, v.3, no.1, March 1907)

Lt. L. Whiteley (Ref: The Sphinx, v.3, no.1)

Lieutenant Laurence Whiteley

Laurence Whiteley was born c. 1885 in Sheffield, the third child and first son of Seth Whiteley, and his wife Anne. Seth Whitely taught shorthand, and in 1911 was headmaster of Whiteley’s Commercial College in Sheffield, by then a very family-run institution, with three of his children on the staff!

Laurence Whiteley attended Sheffield Grammar School, before coming up to Durham University at Michaelmas 1904 to read for Mathematical Honours, joining University College. He achieved his B.A. in 1907 (M.A. 1910). His time at Durham was marked by a serious pursuit of rowing. He was featured as a ‘Man of Mark’ in The Sphinx magazine in March 1907 (vol. 3, no.1), when he was President of the Durham University Boat Club, elected October 1906. Among other achievements on the water, he stroked the winning boat in the Challenge Pairs in the Michaelmas term of 1906, and his crew won the Senate Cup for their college in both 1906 and 1907. He also played fives and tennis, was the President of his College Debating Society, and enjoyed singing in the Choral Society.

Following his graduation, from 1907 until December 1914, he acted as Vice-Principal of Whiteley’s College, under his father, and with his elder sisters Frances and Gertrude alongside him. The 1911 census finds them all living at 30 Collegiate Crescent in Sheffield, where his family still remained after Laurence Whiteley’s death.

After the outbreak of war Whiteley first joined the Royal Sussex Regiment as a private. On 15 August 1915 he received a commission, as a second lieutenant in the 5th (Angus and Dundee) Battalion, The Black Watch: he is reported to have been rejected five times, probably on account of his eyesight. He was seconded for duty with the Machine Gun Corps on 7 August 1916, and entered France on 16 December. He would therefore have been present for the Battle of Arras in April. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant on 1 March 1917, and which was confirmed on 1 July, though published in the London Gazette only after his death.

Whiteley was killed on 31 July 1917, the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele. During this action the 4/5 Battalion, The Black Watch was reduced to company strength, with 374 casualties over that week. The unit’s war diary contains a detailed account, and Whiteley would have been among 36 men of the battalion identified there as attached to the M.G.C. and Trench Mortar Battery and “not in the fighting ranks of the Battalion” (WO 95/2591/3). The war diary also contains two interesting battle reports by the battalion’s commanding officer, Lt.-Col. G. McL. Sceales, in which he highlights various challenges the men faced in the battle, particularly under-manning, communications, modalities of attack, failure of tanks to reach the area of operations, insufficient barrage, lack of air-cover, overloaded troops in difficult conditions, ammunition re-supply; he does praise the model practice trench training and the introduction of panorama sketches which aided the troops’ advance.

Lieutenant Whiteley was buried at Wieltje Farm Cemetery. His sacrifice is commemorated on a war memorial and individual plaque at St Mary’s Bramall Lane, Sheffield, and on Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

Research contributors: Ashley Somogyi.
Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry

Lieutenant William Knott Walton

William Knott Walton was the son of John Walton the schoolmaster at Langley Moor, a mining village to the west of Durham City. His mother Catherine née Knott, who had been an assistant schoolmistress, died in 1895 leaving their sons Henry aged 15, Robert 11, and William 5, while Mary was a little over a year old. In February 1896 John married Annie Helen Gowland who was 20 years his junior. After his death in 1913 she moved to Darlington with Mary.

In the 1911 census William, aged 20, is recorded at the School House in Langley Moor with his father and step-mother, and was then employed as a pattern-maker in the shipbuilding industry. However, by the Michaelmas term of 1913 he was preparing for Holy Orders and had matriculated at St Chad’s College, Newton Pagnell, which was a preparatory theological institution for St Chad’s College Durham. In the Epiphany term of 1914 he came to St Chad’s College in Durham to read for a degree in Arts, and where he remained until 1915. During this period he became sub-editor and then editor of the college’s Stag magazine. He also served in the university’s Officers Training Corps.

On 1 January 1916 he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant with the Durham Light Infantry serving in the 20th Battalion. The battalion moved to Aldershot in January and came under orders of 123rd Brigade, 41st Division. They landed at Le Havre in France on 5 May 1916. There the battalion was involved in the Battles of Flers-Courcelette and Le Transloy during the Somme offensive in 1916.

In 1917 the battalion underwent extensive training and preparation before the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), although there were still many casualties in the trenches during this period. After a successful advance achieved in the Battle of Messines near Wytscheate the battalion made ready for an attack on 28 July on Pilckem ridge, but which was then delayed until 31 July. During this pause the men of the battalion awaiting the assault were rotated in companies around trenches to familiarise them with the Assembly Area. Three officers, Captain Pumphrey, Second Lieutenant Shepherdson and Second Lieutenant Walton went out on the afternoon of 29 July to reconnoitre this area and which they marked with string in preparation for the tape that would be used during the attack. Orders were received that the attack would commence at 03:50 on 31 July, so the companies were moved into the Assembly Area, sustaining some casualties including some lost to gas attacks.

This attack on Pilckem Ridge marked the commencement of the hugely costly Battle of Passchendaele. The German front line here was successfully taken in the initial combined British and French attack. Three successive commanders of the battalion fell during the fighting. Captain Weighman was succeeded by Lieutenant Cox, but who was then wounded. Second Lieutenant William Knott Walton then briefly took command before he himself was killed.

Lieutenant William Walton is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres. In Durham he is remembered on the University’s Roll of Service and on a memorial reredos in the chapel of St Chad’s College. He is named on a plaque at the Royal British Legion Club in Meadowfield, and on the chancel screen at St John’s Church there next to his childhood home. In Darlington his name is recorded on a memorial screen that was first displayed in St Hilda’s Church, and which was subsequently moved to the town’s museum, and presently is located in Darlington Library.

His service papers record in the National Archives lists him as a Lieutenant though the battalion diary always refers to him as a second lieutenant, so perhaps a promotion was only confirmed posthumously.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Caroline Craggs, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Pte G. Crawford (Ref: MIA 16/21)

Pte G. Crawford (Ref: MIA 16/21)

Private George Crawford

George, the eldest son of Charles Crawford and Mary Elizabeth, was born in the spring of 1892 at New Shildon. His father and grandfather Charles were locomotive engineers and fitters. His brother Charles was a railway clerk in 1911, and Arthur a machinist, but George aged 19 is listed in that census as a pupil teacher.

Later that year he became a student at Bede College: he joined the junior rugby team and rejoiced in the nickname Jack Johnson. He earned a first class pass in the Archbishop’s Certificate in March 1913, and upon qualification in the summer was listed in the third class in the Certificate pass list. He went on to teach at West Herrington Council School for boys.

Crawford was living at Philadelphia, Fence houses, and teaching at New Penshaw County School when he enlisted in the 325 Northern Company of the Cyclists Division at Houghton le Spring, as is mentioned in The Bede magazine of December 1915. His death was reported to his Bede comrades in the December 1917 issue of the college’s magazine.

“George Crawford joined the Northern Cyclist Battalion from which Corps he was transferred to the King's Liverpool Regiment. With him were serving W. Elliott and E. Smith ('14-'16). The former writing on August 12 reported that Crawford had been killed, but he was never able to secure any further information. … In his last letter to Bede, Elliot referred to the death of his comrade Crawford which apparently took place near Ypres. 'It does seem strange' he wrote 'that he should have found his last resting place where so many other Bede lads have fallen.' Within twelve days 'Billy' had joined his comrade, and his last resting place is in the same stricken field of war.”

The Bede magazine, December 1917, p.8.

The war diary of 18th Battalion King’s Regiment (Liverpool) describes the events and confusion following zero hour at 03:50 on 31 July. This marked the start of the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, itself the opening engagement of the Third Battle of Ypres, now more widely known as Passchendaele. It was not until a week later that the commanding officer of the battalion was able to make his report of 31 July in the war diary: on that day seven officers from the battalion were killed in action and seven wounded; and among the other ranks three were killed in action, forty-six were wounded and one hundred and ninety-four were missing. Private George Crawford was among them.

As his body was never found, George Crawford’s name is inscribed on the Menin Gate at Ypres. His sacrifice is also remembered in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), the Durham County Council war memorial, the North Eastern Railway Institute memorial at New Shildon, the war memorial statue at St John’s churchyard in Shildon, and on Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Sam Trounson.

7 August 1917

Image of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge. Image by Richard Harvey [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-

Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge

Lance Corporal George Barnfather

George Barnfather was born on 1 December 1896 to John Barnfather (d. September 1920), a miner, and Jane Barnfather (née Foster); he was the eldest of seven children. The family lived in the mining village of Choppington where he attended Choppington School. From there he won a four-year scholarship to King Edward VI School in Morpeth where he distinguished himself. After leaving this school he returned to teach as a student teacher at Choppington for a year before being accepted at Bede College in 1914 to formally train as a teacher.

In December 1915 he enlisted at Morpeth with the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers and spent some time training in England, being made a Corporal in August 1916, before moving to the front lines in January 1917 where he was transferred to the scout Section (Headquarters Company) of the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment.

By late July 1917 George and his unit had moved to the north coast on the Franco-Belgian border where George acted as a scout for his battalion. At the start of August 1917 the West Yorkshires were in action near Nieuport, Belgium. The evening of 6 August saw a party of his section’s scouts crawling through swampy areas to reconnoitre the German lines. When they returned a party was able to set up a new post nearer the German trenches. 7 August was a fairly quiet day at the front until around 19:30 when a heavy barrage was launched by the enemy, two ammunition dumps were hit together with the dugouts. It was during this assault that Lance Corporal George Barnfather was killed.

George Barnfather was buried at Nieuport cemetery, and was later reinterred in August 1919 in Ramscappelle Road Military Cemetery, Belgium. Many servicemen’s burials were reinterred and concentrated in the years following the war in this way, especially where only a few were buried in one place.

Several Bede men and comrades subsequently wrote to the college testifying to his excellence as a scout for his battalion. Among them, an earlier letter from Private W. McHugh was reprinted in a local newspaper. “He is a wonderful chap, full of life, always cheery, always ready, and one of the first to discern the movements of the enemy. His ability is marvellous, he is the life and soul of the section.” (Morpeth Herald, 31 August 1917).

George Barnfather is remembered on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. At Choppington his name is included on the memorial cross, on the 1914-1918 reredos in St Paul’s Church. His sacrifice is also commemoration on the King Edward VI School memorial cross and roll of honour.

Additional resources: image by Richard Harvey [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Christine McGann, Joyce Malcolm.

22 August 1917

Image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Captain Douglas Llewellyn Jones

Douglas Llewellyn Jones was born on 28 March 1895 at Tallington Vicarage, Stamford, Lincolnshire. He was the second of three sons of the Rev. John David Jones and his wife Ethel née Carroll. He was educated at Clevedon House School, Ben Rhydding, in Yorkshire and then at Haileybury and Imperial Service College, near Hertford.

He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1913 as an Arts student, intending to take Holy Orders. He was admitted as a member of Hatfield Hall, and attended lectures through to the Easter term of 1914 when his academic record ends, curtailed by the war.

He joined the Universities and Public Schools Brigade in October 1914, and was gazetted second lieutenant in the Lincolnshire Regiment on 14 January 1915. He was later promoted to lieutenant and then captain on 20 July 1917. He served in the Dardanelles, Egypt, and finally in 1917 in France.

It was as acting captain, with D Company, 6th (Service) Battalion, that Jones was killed in action at Langemarck near Ypres on 22 August 1917. The Battle of Landemarck, part of the larger Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), had concluded on 18 August, and the succeeding days saw more restricted attacks, consolidating gains of the previous days. The circumstances of the day’s action are well described by Colonel F.G. Spring in a history of the battalion, (compiled in the 1920s from contemporaneous accounts but published only in 2008).

“The next day the Battalion moved up in support and two days later relieved the 7th South Staffords in the line between Langemarck and Saint Julien. The enemy resistance was centred in concrete pill-boxes, which could hold anything up to a dozen men, were loop-holed on each side for machine guns, and were immune from anything but a direct hit from a very heavy shell. Many of them had been hit several times by 18-pdrs., 4.5", even 6" shells, but except for huge lumps of concrete being knocked off, they remained secure. To take these pillboxes was a problem. Their machine guns would fire right through an ordinary shrapnel barrage at our advancing infantry, and special tactics had to be devised to overcome them. A plan was eventually evolved by which small parties attacked the pillboxes from either flank, if possible getting in their 'blind spots', while a Lewis Gun engaged the front loopholes.

This method was successfully employed on August 22nd, when two Companies, 'B' and 'D', were ordered to attack and capture Bulow Farm, a large and strongly held pill box, situated among a group of smaller ones near the Pheasant Line. Captain Foster had been killed two nights before whilst on patrol, and 'D' Company was commanded by Captain Jones. 'B' Company was still commanded by Captain Sutherland M.C. The attack was successful and Bulow Farm was taken with several prisoners. Captain Jones was killed during the attack and troops on the right failing; our right flank had to be slightly withdrawn. … Casualties numbered about fifty.”

The History of the 6th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1919, by Colonel F.G. Spring (2008), pp.51-52.

His commanding officer wrote: “He was one of the most popular officers in the battalion, both with his fellow officers and with the men; I personally shall feel the loss terribly, as he was one of my most promising officers.”

Captain Douglas Jones was buried between Langemarck and St Julien, but the location of his grave having been lost, he is today commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His sacrifice is also recorded on memorials at Haileybury College, the church of St Mary le Wigford in Lincoln, St Benedict’s Square in Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral, and at Hatfield College chapel.

Both Douglas Jones’ brothers served during the war, and survived. His younger brother Lieutenant D.A. Jones won a D.S.O. and a M.C., and served as an aide-de-camp to General Robertson in France. His elder brother, Second Lieutenant F.L. Jones served with him in the Lincolnshire Regiment.

Research contributors: Nora Alderton, Linda Macdonald.

24 August 1917

Image of the Durham Light Infantry Regiment cap badge

Captain Herbert Howard Davies

Herbert Davies was born on 7 August 1887, the third child and eldest son of Herbert Howard Davies and his first wife Margaret. They were then living at 83 Wigan Road in Brynn, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Manchester. His father was in 1887 a national school master, and in 1891 a grocer, and in 1901 a grocer and butcher, working with his eldest daughter Gertrude’s assistance. After the death of his wife Herbert Howard Davies married again, to Emma, who in 1911 worked from home as a draper and milliner, with her step-daughter Helen’s assistance. A third daughter, Constance, was born c. 1893. Herbert Davies senior died on 3 November 1904.

By 1911 Herbert Davies was himself working as a grocer in Ashton-in-Makerfield, living at 6 Gerard Street. His matriculation at Durham University in Michaelmas term 1913 to study Arts thus indicates a significant career change. He was admitted to St John’s Hall. He attended lectures throughout the 1913/14 academic year, and passed his first year examinations in Classical and General Literature, Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the Easter term of 1914. His intended new career is indicated in his having also passed a first public examination in Theology in the Epiphany term of 1915: he perhaps intended to take Holy Orders.

War interrupted his plans. He joined the Public School and University Brigade, enlisting first as a private in the Royal Fusiliers but then was quickly appointed a second lieutenant on 22 October 1914. He was serving as a temporary captain 10th Battalion D.L.I. when he was awarded a Military Cross for gallantry. The citation, not published until after his death, reads as follows.

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When in support of an attack he did valuable work in consolidating the captured position. His platoons were widely distributed, and he was continually visiting and encouraging his men in spite of the sniping to which he was exposed. Throughout the fighting he rendered valuable service, encouraging all ranks by his cheerfulness and confidence.”

M.C. citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 7 March 1918 p.2911.

Captain Davies was leading D Company of the 10th Battalion when he was killed on 24 August 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) near the Menin Road and Sanctuary Wood. The unit’s war diary (WO 95/1908/1) of the operations over the period 22-24 August makes clear how intense the fighting was: the battalion suffered casualties of 14 officers (out of 20), and 355 other ranks (out of 608). Davies was reported missing in action, and his body never having been identified he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His sacrifice is also recorded in Durham University’s Roll of Service.

Davies left a wife, Lilian Sanderson, the daughter of a Durham draper and tailor; they had married in Durham in November or December 1916. They lived at 55½ Western Hill in the city, and it was to his widow at that address that his medals were returned in 1919.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Heather Ross.

18 September 1917

Image of the Royal Artillery cap badge. Reproduced courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum, London (Ref: NAM 2008-12-4-45).

Royal Artillery cap badge

Bombardier Joseph William Jobling

In the last third of the 19th Century Edward and Ann Jobling of West Hartlepool produced a family of 10 brothers, all of whom seem to have stayed in or around the Hartlepool district for most of their lives. At that time, Hartlepool was a busy port and manufacturing centre and the family found employment within the coal industry, local engineering works and wood yards.

Joseph Jobling was one of the younger brothers, having been born in 1878, and he seems to have developed an interest in education from an early age. In 1898, he is listed in the Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail as a member of a local science class and he was teaching at Brougham Board School in Hartlepool at the time of the 1901 census. In 1903 he started a one-year course at Bede College in Durham, rather than the more usual two-year qualification. There were six students studying this shortened course at the time: possibly they were all mature students, (Joseph Jobling was aged 25 at the time), or they had already gained some teaching experience within a school environment. All six successfully qualified in July 1904.

In October 1905 Joseph Jobling married Elizabeth Dent at West Hartlepool and the following year, a son, Edgar, was born. Elizabeth Jobling was also a teacher. By the time of the 1911 census the young family had moved to Wansbeck Gardens in West Hartlepool, where they lived throughout the war. Joseph was teaching at Stranton County Primary School, and contributing to community life at Stranton All Saints church where he was a bell-ringer.

Hartlepool has the dubious distinction of being one of only three English towns to engage directly with the enemy during the First World War. The bombardment of Hartlepool by three German battlecruisers began early on 16 December 1914 and cost the lives of 52 residents. The Royal Garrison Artillery defended the town on that day, from the Heugh Battery which stands on the Headland overlooking Hartlepool. Joseph Jobling would have been well acquainted with the Battery since it is a surviving 19th-century coastal fortification, but as for most residents the day of the bombardment probably presented his first ‘front-line’ experience.

When he enlisted in December 1915, he chose to join the Royal Garrison Artillery and he was placed on the Army Reserve until mobilisation on 16 August 1916. During this period of a home posting he may well have been based at the No. 17 Coastal Fire Command at Hartlepool (a.k.a. the Heugh Battery) – possibly using his teaching experience to train other members of the R.G.A. He was posted on 24 August 1916 to 2/3 Company Durham R.G.A. and within a week was promoted to Acting Bombardier and posted to the 265th Siege Battery R.G.A.

During the period between October 1916 and February 1917 Joseph Jobling was training in this country; no doubt, learning about the strategic importance of the Siege Battery. In 1914, the British Army possessed very little heavy artillery, but by 1916 it was armed with heavy, large calibre guns and howitzers that were positioned some way behind the front line and were capable of great destruction. The physical work of hauling these massive guns into position in the renowned mud of northern France was a test in itself, and the updated strategy of using heavy artillery to combat long-range weapons necessitated effective intelligence to avoid accidental friendly fire. At this time front line trenches relied upon runners for their communications, but aircraft were also being introduced and proved very useful.

Among the many changes in strategy introduced was the creeping barrage. The Heavy Artillery directed an advancing wall of shellfire only yards in front of the ongoing infantry, clearing obstacles and obstructing the enemy’s view of the attack. The experience must have been terrifying for the foot soldiers who would have experienced ‘friendly’ shells screaming above them as they approached the enemy lines. The creeping barrage was only possible given improvements in communications and logistical planning.

The Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele, was planned to start on 31 July 1917 and continued until 10 November. During September there was heavy fighting around the Menin Road and Polygon Wood as well as continued hostilities in the rest of the Ypres salient. The 47th Divisional Artillery was dotted about the area in support of the large numbers of infantry units mobilised in the area. Given the nature of the attachments of the Royal Garrison Artillery it is very difficult to trace the actions of individual batteries through the available sources such as war diaries, and specific details of Joseph Jobling’s service are consequently hard to discover.

On 18 September 1917 Joseph Jobling was killed in action at Dickebusch and was buried at The Huts Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. The cemetery takes its name from a line of huts strung along the road between Dickebusch and Brandhoek which were used by field ambulances during the battle. These field ambulances were dealing with up to 1000 injuries each day, a further indication of the ferocity of the fighting during the Battle. The cemetery contains 1,088 graves: nearly two-thirds of the casualties are gunners since there were so many artillery positions nearby. Large numbers of the casualties are listed as from the Royal Garrison Artillery, although there are limited numbers of burials on the same day as Joseph Jobling’s death. Perhaps this indicates that he fell victim to intermittent enemy action rather than a large-scale offensive. However, the obvious vicinity of the heavy guns surely meant that the position of the gunners could be easily traced by their constant firing, thereby increasing their risk from hostile fire.

Bombardier Jobling’s ultimate sacrifice is remembered in his home town of Hartlepool in its Book of Remembrance and Roll of Honour, as well as on the Victory Square Obelisk. He is included on the Roll of Honour at Brougham County School and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), and on a Memorial Plaque at Stranton All Saints Church, and on a plaque commemorating change ringers in Newcastle Cathedral. His name is not recorded on the Bede College war memorials.

Elizabeth Jobling received her husband’s effects, which included three religious books and two dictionaries, and in April 1918 was awarded a pension of 18/9d per week for herself and her son.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of The Royal Regiment of Artillery is reproduced courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum, London (Ref: NAM 2008-12-4-45).
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

19 September 1917

Image of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers cap badge

Lieutenant William Evelyn Stanley Poole

William Poole was born in 1882 at Scarborough, the third son of George Russell Poole, then a schoolmaster, and his wife Clara. His father had been awarded a Licentiate of Theology at Durham in 1870, a member of University College, and had been ordained at Durham, serving first as Curate of Pelton and then Cleethorpes; he would go on to serve as vicar of Wartling, East Sussex, from 1890 to 1914. The 1881 census records several students boarding with the Pooles at Uplands House in Scarborough St Martin’s parish, and William Poole was presumably educated at home before following his father to University College at Durham, where he matriculated as an Arts student in the Michaelmas term of 1902.

He is recorded as having been in attendance at Durham for only one year, his first term as a probationer; he is not known to have passed any exams towards his degree. The Durham University Journal notes Poole’s presence in his college’s cricket team, playing the College of Science in the Grey Cup. In a low scoring game Poole made one run before being stumped, and the match was lost. He also served on the committee for the annual Athletic Sports meeting on the Racecourse in May 1903. His career after this date is not yet known.

During the war William Poole served with the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers. He was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant on 1 July 1917, but which was not Gazetted until after his death on 16 November. From 17-20 September 1917 the 5th Battalion was in the front line at Guémappe, south-east of Arras. The unit’s war diary (WO 95/2828/2) records their section of the line was then being heavily shelled and mortared. Suspecting enemy working in no-man’s land, battle patrols and listening patrols were sent out on 19 and 20 September but encountered no enemy. It was probably on such a patrol on 19 September that William Poole was killed, aged 36. Another man was killed the same day, and two other ranks wounded. The war diary includes a helpful trench map, from which the battalion’s exact position at this time can be determined.

Lieutenant William Poole was buried at Heninel Communal Cemetery Extension, rather than Guémappe British Cemetery. His father had died at Guy’s Hospital in February 1917, though the family was then resident at 20 Linton Road, Hastings. His mother, to whom probate was granted, later moved to 16 St John’s Terrace, Woodbridge in Suffolk. He was also survived by his elder brother, Cyril Cecil Poole (b. 1871), a surgeon by then retired. William Poole’s sacrifice is recorded on a memorial plaque formerly located in the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers Drill Hall at Walker in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now in Christ Church Walker parish church. He is also remembered in the university’s Roll of Service (1920).

Research contributors: Georgia Davies, Joyce Malcolm.

22 September 1917

Image of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge (IWM INS 5535)

King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge (IWM INS 5535)

Private William Elliott M.M.

William Elliott was born in Bellingham, Northumberland on 16 June 1896, and was the second of five children born to George and Annie Elliot. His father was a colliery horse-keeper (below ground) in 1901, but by 1911 had become a colliery stone-man. After attending the County Secondary School, (now Blyth Tynedale High School), William became a student at Bede College 1914-1915. It is noted in the June 1915 issue of The Bede magazinethat William, with other first year students, had offered himself for military service in the army upon the conclusion of that present term. After taking his first year examination for the Archbishops’ Certificate, he enlisted at Sunderland.

In June 1916 he joined 8th Northern Cyclist Battalion as a Private (no. 326). Two other Bede students from his year, Edward Smith and Robinson Wallace, also joined this unit at the same time. The Northern Cyclist battalion was independent, unaffiliated to any regiment, and their primary role was reconnaissance and communication. They were, however, armed as infantry and so could provide firepower when needed. When 8th Battalion was disbanded Elliot was transferred to 14/16th King’s Liverpool Regiment (no. 57784), along with Edward Smith. In July 1917, the regiment’s battalions were consolidated and re-organised and the 14/16th amalgamated into the 18th King’s Liverpool Regiment. Throughout this time Elliot wrote regularly to The Bede, and indeed his obituary in the December 1917 issue quotes from his last letter, which must have been written around 10 September.

C. H. Smith, R.G.A., (Bede College 1914-1915), wrote to The Bede on 17 September 1917, which reported “that he had run into Elliot in June 1917 and had a real Bede chat with him about the College and the happy time spent there. He added that Elliot had been in some very rough fighting, but had come through all right, and was quite willing to tackle more”. Edward Smith, still serving with William, reported that William had been given the Military Medal for his courageous conduct, as he then described.

“Apparently on July 31, whilst advancing, he came to a shell hole in which several men were crouching. They immediately told him to get down, as a machine gun was very active in the region. He got into the shell hole and after receiving some information regarding the Germans in front of them, had a look for himself. He saw some German helmets moving in a trench and tried to drop some grenades in at them from the shell hole. As he found it impossible to get the range, forgetful of all danger, he immediately jumped out of the shell hole into the open, to fire several grenades point blank at them, succeeding in putting them out of action, and undoubtedly saving the lives of many comrades.”

The Bede magazine, vol. 14, no. 1 (December 1917), p.8.

In another letter to The Bede, W. P. Crossland (Bede 1914-1916) wrote that Elliot gained his Military Medal in the heavy fighting near Arras, and that he had subsequently declined promotion. The medal was awarded for “conspicuous gallantry in action”, the citation appearing in the Edinburgh Gazette on 1 October 1917, and also in the Morpeth Herald. Crossland wrote further of having had “many a long chat” with Elliott in a Field Ambulance Hospital where Elliott was recovering after being slightly wounded in the shoulder and neck. According to the regimental diaries, at the end of July the battalion had been ordered to withdraw to Château Segard. This was very difficult, not only due to the darkness but the heavy state of the track, and although the men were in good heart they were exhausted. The Commander later recommended that several officers and men be awarded gallantry medals for their actions on the day, and William Elliot was included in this list.

One gets a sense from the letters to the college magazine of a strong community of Bede men, serving in a variety of units, for whom such chance meetings as Crossland describes, or even reading the latest issue of the magazine itself, were heaven-sent opportunities to sit down and forget the war for a short time and recall happier days. The scarred and corpse-ridden landscape of the western front, particularly around Ypres where the college contingent had suffered so badly in April 1915, held a heavy significance for them all. In Elliott’s last letter he refers to the death of his comrade George Crawford (Bede 1911-1913), killed in action apparently near Ypres on the same day Elliott won his M.M.:“[i]t does seem strange that he should have found his last resting place where so many other Bede lads have fallen”. Within two weeks of Elliott’s writing these words in early September 1917 he too had fallen in the same area of operations, re-joining that lost Bede contingent.

The 18th King’s Liverpool’s war diary records on 22 September 1917 the battalion had just relieved the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire regiment at Torreken Farm, Wytschaete, where working parties had been sent to the front for winning and digging, when they came under intermittent shelling. Elliott and five other men were killed, and a further ten men were wounded, two of whom mortally so.

In addition to the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross , Plaque, and Roll of Honour, William is remembered on plaques at Blyth Tynedale High School and Waterloo Road Presbyterian Church. He is buried at Torreken War Cemetery in Belgium.

Additional sources: image of The King's (Liverpool) Regiment cap badge is © IWM (INS 5535) and is reproduced under the IWM Non-Commercial Licence.
Research contributors: David Butler, Enid Hoseason, Joyce Malcolm.

24 September 1917

Image of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

Private Francis Henry Ward

Francis Henry Ward was born in Hull in 1893 to Philip Henry Ward, a painter and decorator, and his wife Margaret Elizabeth. He had one older sister, Edith. He was educated in Hull at Clifton Street School and Hull Grammar School and was apprenticed to his father by 1911.

He clearly decided on a career change, for in April 1913 he passed the examination to matriculate at Durham University and began in the Michaelmas term of 1913 as a member of St John’s College and a student of Arts (in litteris antiquis). He passed his first year examination satisfactorily in the Easter term of 1914. He seems to have been very involved in the life of both the University and his college: he was Secretary of the College Sports Fund and the Debating Society, Librarian of the Union Society, and was elected Senior Man of St John’s College in December 1915. He was awarded his B.A. degree on 22 June 1915.

The Durham University Roll of Service (1920) records Francis Ward as having served with the Cyclists Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. By the time of his death in 1917 he was serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own): his service records place him initially in the 10th Battalion and then in the 9th Battalion. The 9th (Service) Battalion formed part of the 69th Brigade of the 23rd Division for the Menin Road operations which began on 20 September 1917.

The following is recorded in the war diary of the 9th Battalion for 24 September 1917: “During the morning enemy shelled the town [Poperinghe], we lost 1 man, wounded. Battalion relieved the 6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders in support near Langemarck”. (WO 95/1809/2). We might presume this is a reference to Francis Ward, although his service medal card and the register of his effects state that he was killed in action that day. The latter is more likely perhaps, as his name is engraved on the Tyne Cot Memorial: either his body was never recovered, or the site of his grave was lost in the fighting. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the roll of honour of Clifton School, and a plaque at the Grammar School in Kingston upon Hull.

Additional sources: image of the cap badge of the West Yorkshire Regiment is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

26 September 1917

Image of the South Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

South Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

Chaplain Charles Harold Garrett

Charles Harold Garrett was born in 1889, and was christened on 14 July 1889 at Clapham Parish Church. His grandfather, John Garrett had been a builder in Balham, Surrey; an occupation also followed by his father. His father, Charles Thomas Garrett, married Clara Annie Martin, the daughter of Alexander Martin, on 12 July 1888 in the same church. Initially the family were living in 5 Jasmine Terrace, Westernburgh Street, Clapham, but Charles and his two younger brothers, Alan Leslie, (born 1 December 1892) and Laurence Hugh (born 19 January 1899), grew up in 41 Old Town, Clapham, from where their father conducted his business of builder and undertaker. As the family grew up they moved along the street to 28 Old Town, their father having taken on the duties of Parish Clerk.

Following his early education, Charles Harold Garrett studied at Saint Chad’s Hostel at Hooton Pagnell before arriving at Durham University to study Arts (in litteris antiquis). He became a member of Saint Chad’s Hall in 1910 where he initially studied Arithmetic and Euclid and then Plato and English History. Taking his finals in Theological studies in 1911 he graduated with a B.A. He was ordained deacon in 1912 with an appointment in the Priory Church of Saint Mary and Saint Cuthbert, Worksop; he was ordained priest in 1913. Garrett was living at 69 Watson Road, Worksop when he became a member of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department. He was appointed a temporary chaplain (4th class) on the 22 February 1917.

When posted to France in the spring of 1917, he was attached to the 2/6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He was killed in action only a few months later on 26 September 1917, and was buried in the Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No. 3, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

The Durham University Journal in December 1917 recorded his death in its roll of honour with this tribute:

“He died a hero's death, for at his own request he was selected to accompany his brigade into the line during the recent heavy fighting, and whilst standing outside his battalion headquarters was hit by a shell.”

Durham University Journal, Volume 21, no.19, December 1917.

A more detailed obituary was printed in a Worksop newspaper on 5 October 1917.

“'Greater love has no man than this that a man lays down his life for his friends.' These sublime words at once occur to the mind in connection with the death from wounds of the Rev. Charles Harold Garret, B. A., of Worksop Priory Church, and Chaplain to the forces. So far, the full story of the incident in which Mr. Garrett played a most heroic and self- denying part has not reached us, but sufficient information is available to show that he died doing his duty as Priest and man. It would seem that in the recent fighting Mr. Garrett accompanied the doctor in the advance which the troops to which he was attached was about to make. The objective in view was a dug-out, or German “Pill box” and this, after heavy fighting, was captured. By some chance the doctor was taken prisoner, and Mr. Garrett remained in the captured position with the lads who were holding it against the foe. His presence, he no doubt thought, would cheer them, and he could at least help to bind up their wounds and pray with them in the hour of death. A change this from the quiet Solemnity of the Priory Church which he loved so well, and along the vaulted aisles of which his rich voice had so often rolled in waves of sacred song. The Germans continued to shell the position in the hope of driving out the British, and one can hardly imagine the horror of it all- the noise of the bursting shells, and all the fearful sounds of the battlefield. Calmly and composedly the Chaplain stuck to it along with the boys - one of whom he had known in happier days - until a shell burst right in their midst, and fell mortally wounded. He died afterwards whilst being conveyed to the advanced dressing station. He was buried the next day by a brother Chaplain, and we may rest assured that the soldiers who gathered round keenly felt the loss of a brave young Priest and mourned for him as for one near and dear to them. Mr. Garrett was 28 years of age in May last. He had been about five years in Worksop, and was appointed an Army Chaplain early in the present year. Six weeks ago he was allowed leave of absence and spent one Sunday in Worksop, much to his delight, and to the pleasure of many friends. Little did the latter think that they should see his face no more this side the veil. The first intimation that Mr. Garrett had been wounded reached the Vicar, the Rev. G. J. A. d’Arcy, on Friday evening. At evensong he announced the receipt of a telegram from the Chaplain-General enquiring for the addresses of Mr. Garrett’s next of kin, and from this it was feared that something serious had happened. The Vicar, of course, replied to the telegram without delay, and asked for particulars, and these have only recently come to hand. Mr. Garrett is believed to have died on Wednesday 26th, and a letter was received from him that morning by his friend and protégé, George Ledger, in which he describes the position they were in and the terrible fighting that was going on. The news has caused great sorrow in Worksop, and sincere sympathy is expressed with Mr. Garrett’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garrett, Clapham, London, and other members of the family in their bereavement. His two brothers are also serving, one in the flying Corps, and the other in the Inns of Court Corps, O. T. C. To the vicar, Mr. Garrett’s death is a great blow. He has lost a loyal and faithful colleague, one full of energy and zeal. Allusion has already been made to Mr. Garrett’s musical abilities, and we need only add in the short space at our disposal, that he was a tower of strength to the choir, a good singer and an able preacher. He was especially happy in his work amongst boys and young men, and it was a great happiness to him when he ascertained that he had been appointed to the Brigade in which many Worksop lads were serving. He renewed old acquaintances in the dug-outs and trenches, and many Worksop lads now in Khaki will read the news of his death with sorrow in the heart. He had perished in a good cause, and like a warrior was overthrown. A memorial service will be held at the Priory Church on Tuesday next at 8pm. Later particulars:- In a letter received yesterday by Mrs. Wood, Mr Garrett’s housekeeper, his mother sends the following extract from the Senior Chaplain's letter as to her son’s death:- 'He was at his battalion regimental aid post (being of the greatest help and comfort), when he was seriously wounded by a shell. He was taken to the advanced dressing station, where he was quite conscious and received the reserved Sacrament at the hands of Mr. Wilkinson, ( a brother Chaplain), who will write you, but he died on the way to the main dressing station, and has been laid to rest in the cemetery close by. I did not intend to let him go in the line with his brigade, but when he learned I had arranged to keep him back, he pleaded so earnestly that I altered my arrangements. Dear boy, he was so anxious to be with the men in their danger and share it with them. May God rest his soul and give you all much consolation. He had grown very close to a great number of hearts out here in the last few weeks.'”

Worksop Guardian, 5 October 1917.

Chaplain Charles Garrett’s sacrifice is commemorated in Worksop on the cenotaph and at the war memorial at the priory church of St Mary and St Cuthbert. He is also remembered on the war memorial at Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, and on a reredos and roll of honour at the chapel of St Chad’s College. Garrett’s two brothers survived the war: Alan Leslie Garrett became a Technical Advisor and Laurence Hugh Garrett became a quantity surveyor. His father was made a freeman on the City of London, as a member of the Tinplate Workers on the 2 December 1918 and lived until 1946.

Additional sources: Nottinghamshire County Council First World War Roll of Honour; Garrett was researched by Colin Dannatt. The image of the cap badge of the South Staffordshire Regiment is from the Europeana 1914-1918 project [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Tim Brown, Colin Dannatt, Joyce Malcolm.

3 October 1917

Image of the cap badge of the Durham Light Infantry

Private John Vasey

John Vasey was born c. 1886 in Durham, the fourth child and second son of John Vasey, a coach or carriage painter, and his wife Mary. The Vaseys were a Durham family, and lived at 64 Hallgarth Street in 1881, and then in Church Street from 1891 to 1911. John Vasey will have attended local schools before working first as a printer in 1901, then as a butler to Canon J.T. Fowler and then as a footman at Hatfield Hall, where Fowler was Vice-Principal (1870-1917).

He signed his attestation papers at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 8 December 1915, enlisting into the Durham Light Infantry. He served at Home until entering France on 2 December 1916 with the 3rd Battalion, but was then transferred first to the 15th Battalion and then the 10th Battalion. He was wounded in the left elbow on 22 August 1917. The war diary (WO 95/1908/1) of the 10th Battalion indicates this probably occurred near Zillebeke Bund (Lake) east of Ypres, in the first of three days of heavy action in which half the battalion’s strength was killed or wounded. This was just a small part of the Battle of Passchendaele which was fought between July and November 1917. Vasey's service records indicate that he was treated by 43 Field Ambulance and at 75 Casualty Clearing Station the following day. A decision was quickly made to return Vasey to England to recover, and he was in England on 30 August. He was treated in a Manchester hospital.

Private John Vasey’s death occurred on 3 October in an unlucky railway accident. Not long after his homeward train pulled out from Manchester station, at Droylsden, Vasey sustained severe head injuries when he put his head out of the window of his carriage and was struck. He was quickly taken on to Ashton-under-Lyne but died before he reached the infirmary there. His family and friends were even then preparing to welcome him home.

He was buried at St Oswald’s Church in Durham, his coffin carried by members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, a fraternal organisation of which Vasey was also a member. Memorials in his memory are also found at Durham Town Hall, St Oswald’s Church and in Hatfield College chapel. A plaque was also erected in the smoking room of the Comrades Club in Durham City.

Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

4 October 1917

Image of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Albert Bertine Heywood

Albert Bertine (christened Bertini) Heywood was born at Solihull in 1890, the eldest son and second child of Samuel Heywood, a general labourer and bricklayer, and his wife Maria Jane, both from Staffordshire. Five brothers would follow him into the world by the time of the 1901 census.

Nothing is yet known about Heywood’s early years. His early formal education ceased at the age of 16, for he worked as a lad porter at Swan Village railway station, West Bromwich from 1906 to 1908. At the age of 23, in 1911, he was serving in the Church Army as Assistant to Albert James Hill, a lay evangelist. Their mobile address in the census that year was a mission caravan. His lay preaching was temporarily set aside in October 1915 when he matriculated at Durham University to study Theology. He was an unattached student, and as such would not have been resident at Durham, visiting perhaps only to attend examinations. Such students studying for a Licentiate of Theology typically attended a theological training college associated with the university, were examined at Durham, and then went on to be ordained and follow a career in the Church of England. In 1916 Heywood successfully completed his first year of study, before the war interrupted his progress.

He trained first with the Artists' Rifles (28th Battalion London Regiment), before being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Yorkshire Light Infantry, as reported on 30 April 1917 by The Times. His transfer to a service battalion came on 16 October that year, with seniority from when he joined the London Regiment on 28 March 1917.

Albert Heywood was killed in action on 4 October. His unit, part of 64th Brigade 21st Division, was fighting in the Battle of Broodseinde, the most successful battle in the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) offensive and which caused substantial losses in territory and men on the German side. The allied objective was the village of Reutel, and it is here that Heywood is stated to have died.

Albert Heywood’s body was not recovered, and his sacrifice is therefore commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His name is also recorded in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

Research contributors: Fiona Dattan, Joyce Malcolm.

8 October 1917

Image of the Honourable Artillery Company cap badge

Honourable Artillery Company cap badge

Private George Sidney Hall

George Hall was born at Thurgarton in Nottinghamshire c. 1889, the youngest son and seventh child of William Kemp Hall and his wife Martha Ann. His father was a Nottinghamshire farmer, born in nearby Gunthorpe, and in 1881 was farming 160 acres employing 2 labourers and 3 boys; the family then also employed two servants. His mother was born in Marylebone in London. In 1911 George Hall’s elder brothers Thomas and William were lace warehousemen, as they had been in 1901, and his nearest brother John was a wood carver. George Hall, then aged 21, was working as a clerk in business manufacturing sack and twine. The family had by then moved into an eight room house at 17 Chawforth Road in Nottingham, William Hall having retired from farming.

In the Easter term of 1913 George Hall junior matriculated at Durham University as an Arts (in litteris antiquis) student. He joined Hatfield Hall and was active in his college over the succeeding two years, serving as Hatfield’s Union Society Representative, and sat on committees of the university’s Choral, Union and Debating Societies. He was also captain of Hatfield’s cricket team in 1915, his final year. Having passed all his exams, on 22 June 1915 he was awarded his B.A.

He enlisted that winter on 10 December 1915 and was placed in the Army Reserve. He then went on to work as a shell inspector for Armstrong Whitworth until he was mobilised on 6 March 1917 and enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company. He served in France from 19 June 1917, with the 1st and then from 12 July the 2nd Battalion H.A.C., A Company, part of 22nd Brigade 7th Division. He was killed in the field within two months on 8 October. His unit was then fighting near Polderhoek, east of Ypres (WO 95/1662) in operations which formed part of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Private George Hall has no known grave, and consequently his sacrifice is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His name is also recorded in St Giles’ Church and the war memorial at West Bridgford, and on a plaque in the chapel of Hatfield College.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Daniel Morgan-Thomas.

12 October 1917

Image of the Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Second Lieutenant Philip Mighell

Philip Mighell was born 7 August 1893, the eldest of six children of Philip and Martha Mighell of Manor Farm, Hilliers Lane in Beddington, Surrey. His father was a farmer of some note who features regularly in the trade directories, auction reports and newspapers of the day. Theirs was clearly a farming dynasty: at the time of the 1871 census his grandfather William Cobbett Mighell farmed 300 acres and employed 18 men and boys on the land and three indoor servants at Waddon Marsh Farm, Mitcham. Philip Mighell’s mother, Martha Sadler, was the daughter of another prominent farmer from Sussex. His parents married on 8 November 1892 in Brighton when Martha was already in her thirties which may explain why their family grew quickly to six children in seven years. Philip Mighell, his two brothers and three sisters enjoyed a privileged childhood, with the family employing a cook, a housemaid and another simply described as a ‘useful help’ in the 1901 census.

Philip Mighell was educated first at Miss Ackerman’s school in Eastbourne and then spent Michaelmas term 1907 at St Dunstan’s College, Catford, before attending Hurstpierpoint College in West Sussex 1908-1910. When he was seventeen years old Philip Mighall left rural Surrey for the industrialised North and a room in a boarding house at 94 Nelson Street, Crewe, where, on 8 November 1910, he began as a Premium Apprentice for the London and North Western Railway under a foreman named Roscoe: he was paid 4 shillings a week. At this date a Premium Apprentice paid £200 for a five-year apprenticeship (equivalent to over £18,000 in 2014). There were only 30 premium apprentices admitted each year and although not guaranteed a job at the end of the five years, many went on to become significant figures and lead Britain’s railways, most notably Sir Nigel Gresley, Chief Mechanical Engineer of L.N.E.R. and designer of the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. Philip stayed at Crewe until 29 May 1913 when he was discharged having been of “good” character, “good” abilities and time keeping. He was then admitted to Hatfield College in Michaelmas term 1913 to study Theology.

Philip Mighell’s time in Durham was brief: his studies were interrupted after only one year when he was commissioned as a Signalling Officer in the 9th East Surrey Regiment on 13 November 1914. He saw action at Hooge, later transferring to 5th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps as a cadet in the Officer Training Corps, possibly learning to fly near his home at Beddington Aerodrome. He was made temporary Second Lieutenant on 19 March 1917. Philip Mighell was the observer in an RE8 A4330, a two-seat biplane that became the standard aircraft for reconnaissance and bombing during the latter part of the war, despite its reputation for being difficult to fly. On 11 October 1917 Mighell and his pilot, Lieutenant F.C.E. Clarke, were killed during an artillery reconnaissance patrol between Asheville and Gavrelle when surprised by three enemy aircraft over Farbus and Roclincourt near Arras. The engagement was described in a letter written to Lieutenant Clarke’s parents by the squadron’s commanding officer.

“It is with the deepest regret I have to inform you of the death of your son, at about 8:40 a.m. this morning. He was flying on a patrol of the front line, when he was attacked by four or five enemy scout machines. From all accounts of eye witnesses he put up a splendid fight, but being terribly outnumbered with fighting machines he was unable to escape.

It was a morning when the clouds were thick and numerous, and apparently he was just below the level of the lowest, when the enemy came down from the clouds or round them and got to close quarters before your son saw them; his observer was P. Mighell, who is now very seriously wounded and unable to move. Apparently they fought to the last, and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the way your son evidently kept his head to the last. When the first people got near he was found to be unconscious, and died very soon afterwards. He had been wounded in the neck and body, and the concussion on landing must have rendered him unconscious.

His observer had wounds in the thigh, and is now suffering from shock and probably spine fracture. I don’t think that, but for your son’s bravery and grit in sticking it to the last, his observer would have been killed outright. As it was, a bad landing was made, and the machine crashed to the ground.”

Extract from a letter from the Commanding Officer, 5th Squadron R.F.C. to the parents of pilot Lieutenant F.C.E. Clarke.

German records reveal Clarke and Mighell were shot down by Vizefeldwebel Julius Buckler serving in Jasta 17 of the German Army Air Service. It was Buckler’s sixteenth out of 36 aerial victories.

Philip died of his wounds the following day, aged 24, and was buried alongside Lieutenant Clarke in the Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France. He is commemorated on war memorials at Hurstpierpoint College in Hassocks, West Sussex, at St Dunstan’s College, Catford, and on a plaque at Hatfield College. His (posthumously awarded) British War Medal has been sold at auction twice in recent years.

In a poignant postscript on Friday 19 October 1917 the Surrey Mirror, describing a fundraising drive for the Red Cross, reported that “Philip Mighell, of Wallington, sent a horse on behalf of the fund, and a sad feature connected with his gift is the fact that on the morning of the sale news came that his son had fallen in action in the war”.

Other members of the Mighell family served in both World Wars. Philip Mighell’s younger brother, Frederick, fought in the First World War as a transport sergeant in the Honourable Artillery Company. He was awarded the Military Medal on 26 April 1917 for bravery in the field and survived the war, dying in 1942. His father was killed, aged 74, by a delayed action bomb on 25 September 1940 during the height of the Battle of Britain: he died with a local policeman Sgt Herbert Charles Paisley whilst evacuating his home, Wend House. This bomb will have been targeted at the R.A.F. base at nearby Croydon Airport (formerly Beddington and Waddon Aerodromes, where his son Philip probably learned to fly).

Additional sources: HurstPierpoint College Digital Archives First World War website; St Dunstan’s College Archive First World War centenary commemoration website; Measuring Worth website.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Judith Vincent.
Image of the Royal Engineers cap badge

Royal Engineers cap badge

Corporal William Edgar Taylor

William Edgar Taylor, born 26 September 1894, was the eldest son of John and Elizabeth Taylor of Brampton, Cumberland (now part of Cumbria). John Taylor came from Blaydon, County Durham, and Edgar was the maiden name of Elizabeth, who was born in Gosforth, Northumberland. The family home was the School House, Brampton, where John, also a Bede College man (1890-1891), was headmaster of Brampton Elementary School.

William Taylor attended the County Secondary School in Brampton, and in November 1912, shortly after his eighteenth birthday, he joined up as a Volunteer in the Territorial Force with the 4th Battalion The Border Regiment. He was following in his father’s footsteps. John Taylor had served with the 1st Battalion as a reserve soldier since January 1890, and continued to attend training camps during his son’s school years. So when William Taylor went to train as a teacher at Bede College in the autumn of 1913, he transferred to the volunteers of 8 D.L.I., the “Bede Company”.

In his second year at College, in April 1915, William Taylor was one of 12 men from his year among the privates in the College contingent of current and past students who went to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. (These included another W.E. Taylor, Bede 1906-1908, who survived the war). The Bede Magazine reports the men left England on 19 April, and 8 D.L.I. spent a night encamped on the cliffs at Boulogne and three days billeted at a French farm 12 miles from the front, where they could hear the guns and see the flashes of battle. On 23 April they and other units were taken in a convoy of London buses to Vlamertinghe, near Ypres, where they heard about the first German poison gas attacks. They met wounded Canadian troops in a military hospital in the local convent and saw columns of civilian refugees from Ypres pushing ancient carts, piled with what they could carry from home.

On Sunday 25 April, after marching through the half-ruined town - and less than a week away from Durham - the Bede men were in the thick of the of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, part of the Second Battle of Ypres. They came under heavy attack by shells and machine-gun fire, and after extensive losses, they were forced to retire in the evening. Throughout the War, The Bede magazine, carried lists of its serving men, and the names of the fallen, wounded and missing, and those taken prisoner in Germany. The December 1915 edition has a photo of William Taylor with other Bede Company survivors. Their commanding officer, Captain (later Major) F. G. Harvey, gives an account of the April journey and conflict in his A Record of the War Service of Bede Men:

“Probably the Church Training Colleges are the only Colleges which sent past and present students as organised bodies to the War. Possibly none sent a larger contingent than was sent by Bede, and certainly to none came a more sudden or more severe testing.”

From the Foreword of A Record of the War Service of Bede Men, by Major F.G. Harvey

After Ypres, William Taylor was transferred to the 17th Wireless Signals Company of the Royal Engineers, promoted to Corporal, and saw action in Flanders. He died of wounds on 12 October 1917 after being hit by a shell-burst north of Langemarck. In a Carlisle Journal report, his (unnamed) Lieutenant is quoted:

“He was in my wireless section, and a willing, cheerful and extremely capable worker, well-liked not only by the men of his own section, but by all the members of the Signal Company. His loss will be a double one to me, for in addition to his sterling qualities there was an excellent bond between us owing to the fact that he was in the same profession as myself. His party and mine were to meet at a certain advanced post, but when I arrived there I found he had been wounded by a shell. I do not think he was in pain, and his only request was to have something to cover him. He passed away peacefully about an hour later, and was buried by his comrades close by.”

His Major also wrote:

“He was performing a most gallant and noble piece of work. He was in charge of a party who were going forward after the attack to establish wireless communications with advanced H.Qrs. Taylor and his men behaved with magnificent courage, the men taking an example from him, and I feel that the Signal Service has lost much by his untimely end.”

William Taylor’s grave is in Cement House Military Cemetery, Langemarck. The Bede magazinecarries a tribute in the December 1917 issue. Taylor’s name is recorded on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross and plaque, and roll of honour, and also on the war memorial in St Martin’s Church, Brampton.

William Taylor’s father also served in the war as a Company Quarter Master Sergeant at the Border Regiment’s Carlisle depot. As a volunteer reservist in the 1st Battalion The Border Regiment from 1890, he remained attached in 1908 when it was reorganised as part of the new Territorial Force (precursor of the Territorial Army), and he enlisted, aged 47, on 5 September 1914 at Carlisle in the 6th Battalion of The Border Regiment. Within days he transferred to 7th Battalion as C.Q.M.S. The war service of father and son overlapped for some 2 years and 6 months, until John was given a medical discharge in December 1917, two months after his son’s death, when he resumed his teaching career. The Army recorded that he was granted a discharge on account of asthma, considered to have been aggravated by war service. William Taylor’s brother, George Weatherhead Taylor, was too young to have served during the war, and died in 1950.

Additional sources: tributes published in Carlise Journal quoted by http://www.longtown19.co.uk/.
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Keith Seacroft.

13 October 1917

Image of the Worcestershire Regiment cap badge

Worcestershire Regiment cap badge

Lance Corporal Matthew Sydney Corby

Matthew Corby was born in 1881, the second son of five children of Matthew Corby, a commercial traveller and engineer, and his wife Jane. The family was then living at 94 Oxborne Road, Levenshulme in Manchester.

Details of his early education are not known. He matriculated as a probationary Arts student at Durham University’s University College in Michaelmas term 1900 on 23 October and took and passed his admission exams in the following January. It took him several attempts to pass his first year Arts exams, which he finally achieved in January 1903. He played for his college’s cricket team on a couple of occasions, but scored only 0 and 1. He had by Easter 1902 completed his two years’ residence requirement and thereafter does not appear in the registers of attendees at chapel and lectures so he may well actually not have been living in Durham, attending only for his exams. He again had several goes at his finals, passing his Part I in December 1903 and Part II in June 1904, and was awarded his BA on 21 June that year.

He went on to a career as a solicitor, joining the partnership Herd, Nutt, Baker & Corby which was based in the Prudential Building on Commercial Street in Birmingham. He was clerk to the Sutton Coldfield magistrates, and also served as a census solicitor in 1911. His obituary in the Birmingham Post, published on 1 November 1917, also notes his having served as the honorary secretary of the Birmingham and Edgbaston Debating Society. It also reported that for a time Corby seriously considered a career in the Church of England, and attended a theological college, though it is not known which one. He continued afterwards to work with young people through the church.

Matthew Corby joined the forces in March 1916 and took part in the Battle of the Somme, serving with the 2nd and then the 4th Battalion Worcester Regiment. He was wounded and invalided home, returning to France in May 1917. He was again wounded while fighting in the Battle of Passchendaele, but died of his wounds at Poperinge on 13 October 1917. His battalion’s war diary (WO 95/2309/2) records that the unit had been in Sarawak Camp since 10 October, and the last action noted before this period of relief was on 9 October when the battalion took part in the Battle of Poelcappelle. The diary notes that they took three of their objectives that day, capturing six officers, 200 other ranks, and five machine guns, for the loss of 2 officers and 20 other ranks killed, 5 officers and 107 other ranks wounded, and 40 other ranks missing. Conditions on the battlefield are described as very wet and muddy, the British artillery’s creeping barrages were effective, but both sides suffered heavy losses.

Lance Corporal Corby is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery. His sacrifice is commemorated in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920) , Birmingham’s Roll of Honour, and on a war memorial plaque first erected in St Luke’s Church and then moved to St Matthias’ Church, Plymouth, where his mother lived prior to her death in 1935, in the vicarage home of the Reverend James Roberton and his wife, Norah Louise, Matthew’s eldest sister.

Additional sources: image of the Worcestershire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Lara Moon.

14 October 1917

Image of 2nd Lt. J.P.F. Adams (Ref: UND/F1/FE1914/1)

2nd Lt. J.P.F. Adams (Ref: UND/F1/FE1914/1)

Second-Lieutenant John Percy Fitzherbert Adams

John Percy Fitzherbert Adams was born c. 1891, the second son of Colonel Herbert Cranstoun Adams, V.D., and Emma A. I. Adams, of 2 The Beacon, Exmouth. He was educated at St Bee’s School and St Augustine’s College Canterbury before matriculating to Durham University in 1912. Initially an Unattached member of the university, Adams was awarded a Licentiate in Theology on 4 November 1913. He joined University College in the same year and then attended the university as an Arts student, studying English and History, until Easter term 1914.

A prolific sportsman, Adams was awarded his colours by the University Rugby Football Club for the 1913-14 season - he is mentioned in the Durham University Journal as an ‘invaluable’ forward. He also represented University College at fives and cricket, playing 5 matches for the University College Cricket team in May to June 1914. He batted at 5 or 6 and also bowled, as top-scorer with 6-31 against Guisborough School. His mention in student magazine The Sphinx on 4 June 1914 is a little less complimentary than the Journal: ‘Adams, who is too fond of back play, batted very well when set. He would have taken more wickets if he did not lose his head.’

Adams was ordained Deacon at Advent 1914 in Canterbury and shortly afterwards travelled to Newfoundland to act as curate at St John’s Cathedral. In September 1915, after requesting permission from his Bishop, he returned to England to join the war effort. Adams very quickly obtained his commission to the Durham Light Infantry and in June 1916 left England for the Front with the 4th Battalion. He was confirmed in his rank of second lieutenant on 2 August. He was soon wounded by shrapnel and spent three months recuperating before returning to see further action.

In the summer of 1917 Adams volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps, and his commission as a Flying Officer (Observer) was gazetted on 24 September 1917. Adams served with 20th Squadron R.F.C. for under a month before being involved in a fatal encounter between his Bristol Fighter and an enemy aircraft. At 10.15 a.m. on 14 October Adams and his pilot Lieutenant N. V. Harrison took off in a Bristol F2B B1137 on a photo reconnaissance mission: his obituary in the Journal records what happened next.

“A sudden attack was made upon his machine in the air by a hostile machine and an engagement ensued at close quarters, but after firing five rounds the pilot observed that no more were fired by Second-Lieutenant Adams, and he at once came down successfully on our side; the machine was much damaged and the observer dead and still holding his gun.”

Durham University Journal, vol. 21, no.19, p.418.

Lieutenant Harrison made his forced landing at 6 Squadron aerodrome. Adams is buried in the military cemetery at Lijssenthoek, Belgium. His sacrifice is commemorated in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920), and in Exmouth on the war memorial and on a plaque erected in Holy Trinity Church and which bears the inscription, “Hereby perceive we the love of God because He laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren".

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Felix Syms, Naomi Warin.

16 October 1917

Image of the Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Captain Robert Sterling

Robert Sterling was born at Benwell, Northumberland in 1859, the second of two sons to Robert, a joiner and his wife Elizabeth. The family would remain in the Newcastle area, living in Elswick by 1871, and then South Gosforth by 1891. In 1881 Robert Sterling matriculated at Durham University to study Theology, joining University College. Winning prizes in both Theology and Hebrew, he was awarded his degree of Licentiate of Theology in 1883. He was ordained in Newcastle on Christmas Eve 1884, and was then appointed Curate first at Choppington (1884-1887), then Kyloe (1888-1890) and then Gosforth (1890-1892). In the meantime Sterling returned to Durham University and gained a Bachelor of Arts degree, awarded in absentia on 13 December 1887. The following year he changed track, and was admitted to the College of Medicine, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1892. He had won further prizes: second prize and an honour certificate in Surgery for the winter session 1891-1892.

Sterling’s time in Choppington coincided with a period of rising unemployment, the coal mines there proving increasingly uncompetitive. “Distress at Choppington” became a regular feature in the local press, and Sterling’s name frequently appears as a leader in attempts to raise money for the miners’ relief. (Economic distress at Choppington was again reported in 1914, and impelled a large number of its young men to opt for more secure wages in the armed services.) He was remembered again in a 1907 article in the Morpeth Herald, which recounted a daring rescue Sterling made of a man who fell through the ice into the River Wansbeck: Sterling dived through the hole and successfully found the unfortunate skater and, against the current, was able to regain the ice hole with the man. The article concludes, “[t]his daring affair did not get into the newspapers at the time, owing chiefly to the modesty of the brave rescuer”. Sterling was also married in these years, to Emily Sarah Webster. Together they had six children, Annie Elizabeth, Robert Gee, Charles Selwyn, George Pomeroy, Mary Isabel and Philip Sydney, of whom more later.

In the spring of 1893 Sterling joined the Church Missionary Society and was sent as a medical missionary to Gaza, where he and Emily would make their home for the next twenty years. On his way, Sterling stopped in Constantinople in order to gain a qualification allowing him to practice medicine in the Turkish Empire. In 1882 the C.M.S. had opened a dispensary at Gaza. In 1907 the Society built a hospital with In and Out patient departments, and a dispensary was also constructed at El Arīsh in Egypt. Sterling also established a school in the mission compound where 300-400 girls were taught each day. In 1906 he was made Honorary Canon of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, a mark of the respect in which he was held. In this long period of his professional life, Sterling was also active in Jordan and in the Sinai and Egypt. During this time he immersed himself in the Arabic language, becoming so fluent that he preached in both languages. He would go on to publish two works of reference, A Grammar of the Arabic Language in 1904 and its companion, Arabic and English Idioms in 1912. Letters (1893-1911) written by Sterling to the C.M.S. were published in Extracts from the Annual Letters of the Missionaries, a copy of which is available in microfilm at Durham University Library.

In this period Gaza was within the Ottoman Empire, and, upon war breaking out, Turkey having allied itself with the Central Powers, Sterling found himself arrested and imprisoned for several days. A short obituary, printed in the University Journal, states that he was not ill-treated, however, and his wife was able to take him food until his release was secured by the American Consul. But this was the beginning of the end of Sterling’s time in Gaza as a missionary. He left Palestine on Boxing Day 1914, and would return as an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.).

Although old enough to be excused military service at the outbreak of war, Sterling recognised that his medical experience would be of use to the military. Upon the formation of the Army of Palestine, Sterling was transferred from the Border Regiment to the Intelligence Department in Palestine at his own request, knowing that his knowledge of the area and its people would also be of considerable value. It was therefore with some melancholy that he was able to observe his own Gaza home, and his many friends there, from the British lines outside the city. This must have been a time of immense sadness to Robert. The city would not be captured by the allies until after his death in November 1917, and the C.M.S. hospital required re-building after the war: now the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, it still serves thousands of Gazans every month.

Invalided to Egypt in June and to England in August, Robert died on 16 October 1917 at St Thomas’ Nursing Home in Westminster of an illness he had contracted in Palestine. He clearly left a significant mark on all those who knew him as a clergyman and doctor, and notices of his death featured in a number of newspapers. His funeral took place at St Nicholas Church in Gosforth and he is buried in the churchyard there and also commemorated on the 1914-1918 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Medical School war memorial plaque.

A brief word on Robert Sterling’s descendants. The Sterling’s children rarely lived with their parents in Gaza: though the three youngest were born in Palestine, they were all schooled in England. Beside Robert’s name in the university’s Roll of Service are those of two of his sons. Corporal Charles S. Sterling (B.Sc., Armstrong) was a member of the University Officers’ Training Corps, and fought with the South African Expeditionary Force in France. Captain George P. Sterling (Armstrong) D.S.O., M.C., also a member of the O.T.C., joined the Northumberland Fusiliers in November 1914 and fought in Italy. He won the Military Cross in September 1917, but was killed in action on 27 October 1918. His eldest son, Captain Robert G. Sterling also served with the R.A.M.C. in Egypt. His military records show that in 1922 he was working at his father’s hospital in Gaza, to where he would return in 1923 as a “medical missionary”. The Sterlings’ youngest son Philip was too young to take any part in the war: he subsequently emigrated to Canada. In common with a large number of women of their generation both of the Sterling daughters, Annie Elizabeth and Mary Isabel, appear to have remained unmarried. Annie Elizabeth was a governess in Sheffield in 1911, and her sister went out to India in the 1920s to teach as a missionary.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Judith Vincent.

24 October 1917

Image of the Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Royal Flying Corps cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Francis George March

William Francis George March was born in Westgate-on-Sea in January 1896, the eldest son of William and Lizzie March who owned the Kimberley Hotel. He was educated at Woodford House School and Weymouth College before matriculating at University College, Durham University in Michaelmas term of 1915, having secured an entrance scholarship worth £30. Despite winning the Long Reading Prize worth £200 in 1916, William only completed the first year of his B.A. degree, because in the autumn of that year he was granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.

His cadet training began in February of 1917, and by July he had ‘got his wings’ and was appointed temporary Second Lieutenant (confirmed 24 July 1917). He declined a post as an instructor in England on the grounds that he had no experience abroad, and instead went to France as a fighting scout pilot on 4 October 1917, attached to 23rd Squadron R.F.C. which was based at La Lovie.

At 13:05 on 24 October he began an offensive patrol in the Zillebeke-Ypres area, flying a Spad 7. Last seen in his formation heading east at 14:15, he was later reported missing in action. In April 1918, William’s status was changed to prisoner of war, but by June of that year it was reported that he had died of his wounds, aged 21, having been shot down over enemy lines. German records suggest that March was shot down by Lieutenant Hans Hoyer (1890-1917) of Jasta 36, who claimed a Spad south of Westroosebeke at 14:27 that afternoon.

Second Lieutenant William March is buried in Harlebeke New British Cemetery in Belgium. He is commemorated on the war memorial at Westgate-on-Sea, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Emma Marshall.

26 October 1917

Image of the badge of the Gordon Highlanders

Badge of the Gordon Highlanders

Private John Hughes Francis Rowell Swan

John Hughes Francis Rowell Swan was born in Willington Quay, Tyneside in 1887, the eldest of three children to Benjamin, a ship plumber originally from Durham, and Margaret. He sat his entrance examinations for the university in October 1908 and, failing two of them, was accepted on a probationary basis. He matriculated as an Arts student on 4 November 1908 and became a member of Hatfield Hall. In spite of excellent attendance at lectures throughout his first year, in June 1909 Swan failed all his end of year examinations, with the exception of Arithmetic in which he excelled. He did not return to the university after the summer but was able to repeat his examinations in December 1909. However, he failed these and consequently left the university. Swan returned to Willington Quay to live with his parents and was recorded as still living with them by 1911 when he was listed in the census as a Divinity student, but it is not known where he was studying.

During the war he enlisted in the Army in Newcastle and joined the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders as a private. He was killed in action on 26 October 1917 and is buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium. John Swan is remembered on war memorials in both Willington Quay and at Hatfield College.

Research contributors: Anabel Farrell, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Devonshire Regiment cap badge

Devonshire Regiment cap badge

Lieutenant Alan Monk

Alan Monk was born in 1893 in Truro, the second son of Mark James Monk, a musician with an Oxford doctorate and organist of Truro cathedral, and his wife Alice Emily. The family was then living in St Clement parish in the city. The 1911 census finds Alan Monk lodging as one of three students at St Gerrans Rectory, Portscatho, preparing for his entrance to St Chad’s Hostel, from where he transferred to St Chad’s Hall at Durham University in the Easter term of 1913 to study Arts. There he held the Wakeford and Marke Wood bursaries. It is not recorded that he passed any exams prior to the war breaking out in 1914. When he enlisted is not known, but on 29 July 1915 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with the Devonshire Regiment. His medal card indicates he entered France on 29 July 1916, and he won a promotion to temporary Lieutenant on 1 July 1917. He served with both the 8th and 11th Battalions, probably serving with the former at the time of his death at Gheluvelt on 26 October 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele. The university’s roll of service records that he had very shortly before been attached to the Royal Flying Corps, but if this is correct it is thought he had not yet transferred and died fighting as an infantry officer. His body was not recovered, and so he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial. He is also remembered on the war memorial outside Coinage Hall in Truro, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: David Barton, Nick Barton, Tim Brown, Heather Ross.

30 October 1917

Image of the Artists' Rifles cap badge

Artists' Rifles cap badge

Chaplain Harry Dickinson

Harry Dickinson was the eldest son of Richard H. Dickinson and his wife Cecilia. He was born 25 August 1885 in Birmingham. His father then was an engineer, who between 1881 and 1917 rose from being a locomotive inspector to chief engineer for the Birmingham Corporation Tramways. A second son, Arthur Dickinson, followed his father into the same firm, also as an engineer.

Harry Dickinson attended the King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, in Birmingham. He then studied theology at Queen’s College in Birmingham prior to matriculating at Durham University in the Easter term of 1907 to study Arts. He was a member of Hatfield Hall. He was awarded his B.A. in 1907, and his M.A. in 1913. He also won the Long Reading Prize in both 1907 and 1909. He went on to teach Classics at Bridgnorth Grammar School, but perhaps only in 1907/08. For in 1908 he was ordained deacon and priest the following year, and served as curate of Brandon from 1908 until 1910.

His career in the Church of England then took him closer to home, as the curate of St George’s Church in Wolverhampton (1910-1914), where he boarded in the vicarage with Rev. John H. Hamilton and his family, then chaplain of St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop (1914-1915), and then, wishing to return to parish work, he accepted the incumbency of St Mary and St John’s Alum Rock, Saltley, in Birmingham (1915-1916). He became a Chaplain to the Forces (4th class) early in 1916, in the same year he was appointed vicar of St Stephen’s, Newtown Row, in Birmingham.

Chaplain Dickinson was attached to the 28th Battalion London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles). He was killed in action with his battalion as it took part in an attack over the Paddebeck on Passchendaele Ridge during the Battle of Passchendaele on 30 October 1917. The Regimental Roll of Honour and War Record of the Artists’ Rifles (3rd ed. 1922) relates how the battalion advanced early on that day supported by a heavy barrage, “one gun to every 9 yards of front”.

“To reach our objective we had to cross the Paddebeek, on the map an insignificant streamlet, but in fact but this time a wide and almost impassable swamp.
The instant our attack started, the forward troops came under intense machine-gun fire from an almost invisible enemy who had taken refuge in their “pill boxes” during our bombardment, and were no posted in carefully chosen tactical positions. Simultaneously our supporting troops suffered heavy casualties from enemy artillery, while the ground to be traversed was a deep sea of mud, which drowned wounded men and clogged rifles and Lewis guns in the first few minutes, rendering them entirely useless. Consequently it was not long before the attack was brought to a complete standstill, and the very attenuated Battalions proceeded to consolidate as best they could on our side of the Paddebeek.
… On this day the Artists went into action about 500 strong and suffered 350 casualties, amongst those killed being Captains Bare, Chetwood and Gordon Williams, Lieuts. Haslam and Howe, an dour splendid Padre, Capt. Harry Dickinson. The toll of deaths would have been still higher but for the untiring efforts of our M.O., Capt. Matthew [M.C.], who for 72 hours hardly rested from the work of collecting and dressing the wounded.”

The Regimental Roll of Honour and War Record of the Artists’ Rifles (3rd ed. 1922), by S. Stagoll Higham, pp. xxiv-xxv

This attack was also witnessed by Sir Philip Gibbs, then a war correspondent, and who published this account before the year’s end in his From Bapaume to Passchendaele (1917):

“It is idle for me to try to describe this ground again, the ground over which the London men and Artists had to attack. Nothing that I can write will convey remotely the look of such ground and the horror of it. Unless one has seen vast fields of barren earth, blasted for miles by shell-fire, pitted by deep craters so close that they are like holes in a sieve, and so deep that the tallest men can drown in them when they are filled with water, as they are now filled, imagination cannot conceive the picture of this slough of despond into which our modern Christians plunge with packs on their backs and faith in their hearts to face dragons of fire a thousand times more frightful than those encountered in the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” The shell-craters yesterday were overbrimmed with water, and along the way of the becks, flung out of bounds by great gun-fire, these were not ponds and pools but broad deep lakes in which the litter and corruption of the battlefield floated.
… [T]he London men had to wade and haul out one leg after the other from this deep sucking bog, and could hardly do that. Hundreds of them were held in the bog as though in glue, and sank above their waists. Our artillery barrage, which was very heavy and wide, moved forward at a slow crawling pace, but it could not easily be followed. It took many men an hour and a half to come back a hundred and fifty yards. A rescue party led by a sergeant-major could not haul out men breast-high in the bog until they had surrounded them with duck-boards and fastened ropes to them. Our barrage went ahead and the enemy’s barrage came down, and from the German blockhouses came a chattering fire of machine-guns, and in the great stretch of swamp the London men struggled.
And not far away from them, but invisible in their own trouble among the pits, the Artists Rifles, Bedfords, and Shropshires were trying to get forward to other blockhouses on the way to the rising ground beyond the Paddebeek. The Artists and their comrades were more severely tried by shell-fire than the Londoners. No doubt the enemy had been standing at his guns through the night, ready to fire at the first streak of dawn, which might bring an English attack, or the first rocket as a call to them from the garrisons of the blockhouses. A light went up, and instantly there roared a great sweep of fire from heavy batteries and field-guns; 4.2’s and 5.9’s fell densely and in depth, and this bombardment did not slacken for hours. It was a tragic time for our valiant men, struggling in the slime with their feet dragged down. They suffered, but did not retreat. No man fell back, but either fell under the shell-fire or went on.”

From Bapaume to Passchendaele (1917), by Sir Philip Gibbs, pp. 373-374

Chaplain Harry Dickinson is buried in the Passchendaele New British Cemetery in Belgium. His sacrifice is also commemorated on two war memorials at Bridgnorth Grammar School (now Bridgnorth Endowed School), on a plaque in Hatfield College Chapel, and on a memorial in the ante-chapel at St Cuthbert’s College, Worksop. A memorial to Dickinson was also erected in St Stephen’s Church, Newtown Row in October 1918, but this church was demolished in the 1950s.

Research contributors: Christine McGann, Joyce Malcolm.

4 December 1917

Image of Lieutenant Percy Wilkinson (Durham County Record Office copyright record.office@durham.gov.uk Ref: E/HB 2/684)

Lt. Percy Wilkinson (Ref: E/HB 2/684)

Lieutenant Percy Wilkinson

Percy Wilkinson was born in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, on 15 June 1890, the youngest of William and Elizabeth Wilkinson’s eight children. He attended Bede College 1908-1910, during which time he was a keen cricket player for both the Juniors and the Seniors, his performances often being commented upon and praised in The Bede magazine. Upon completing his training at Bede, he boarded at a house in the village of Brandon and Byshottles in Durham, and in the 1911 census his occupation is listed as elementary school teacher for the county council, although it is unknown at which school he taught and he is not commemorated on the County’s war memorial. It seems Wilkinson enlisted soon after the outbreak of war in 1914, and by March 1915 he was a corporal with the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. Wilkinson was gazetted in December of that year and sent to France in July 1916. At the time of his death, aged 27, during the Battle of Cambrai at La Vacquerie on 4 December 1917, he was a lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers and attached to the 7th Battalion Royal Warwickshires. His commanding officer reported that part of the line was then being held by Wilkinson’s company, and when it was attacked by the Germans he successfully led a counter-attack to eject them. However, whilst at the head of the party he was killed by a grenade. From 29 November to 4 December the Germans’ major counterattack meant that much of the ground gained by the Allies was lost, along with many men. The Bede magazine reported Wilkinson’s death in its August 1918 edition and noted that “his Colonel writes of him in high terms of praise”. Lieutenant Wilkinson has no known grave and so his sacrifice is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louverval. He is also remembered on the Slaithwaite War Memorial, and the Bede College 1914-18 Plaque, Cross and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Emma Marshall, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge, by Usedtoknowthat on 6 June 2014, is reproduced under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

20 December 1917

Private James Taylor Robson

James Taylor Robson was born on 29 April 1879 in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, the fifth of six children born to William Robson, sailmaker, and his wife Eleanor née Thornton.

He attended Bede College from 1898 to 1900, having served as an apprentice pupil teacher at Stansfield Road Board School. It is recorded in the Bede Annual reports that he passed Parts I and II in the 1st Division. He completed his training in June 1900 and was appointed to the Supply Staff in Sunderland.

James married Margaret Ann Thornton on 10 April 1909 and their only son, James Taylor, was born on 25 September 1913. He continued his career as a schoolmaster in Roker, Sunderland and enlisted on 30 November 1915, joining the local Reserve 21st Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, which had been formed at Cocken Hall in July 1915. He passed his medical in June 1916, being allotted the number 36342, and was then transferred to the 4th Battalion and then the 10th Battalion D.L.I. He was sent to France in October 1916 joining the British Expeditionary Force, and was again transferred to the 12th Battalion D.L.I. on 10 November 1916. His service papers record that he was promoted to corporal in June 1917. However, it is also recorded that there was a request to revert to Private within a short time.

The 12th Battalion D.L.I., along with the 13th, were part of the 68th Brigade, 23rd Division which, in November 1917, was one of 5 divisions deployed to Italy to strengthen Italian resistance after the recent disaster against a combined Austrian and German force at the Battle of Caporetto. The Brigade arrived in Montebelluna at the beginning of December and started supplying working parties for the units in the line. On 19 December the Prince of Wales visited the Battalion and inspected the billets.

On 20 December 1917 a party of men was sent to the Brigade School where there was an accident on the bombing range: two men from the 13th Battalion were severely injured. John Sheen in his history of the 12th and 13th Battalions of the D.L.I., With Bayonets Fixed (2013), notes that the same day “and possibly in the same incident” Private James Robson received bomb wounds to the head and was evacuated to Number 30 Casualty Clearing Station where he died from his wounds. A Court of Enquiry was held into his death, but its conclusions are not known.

Robson was aged 38 when he died, and his last home address was at 18 Neale Street, Roker. His body was reinterred in 1919 at Giavera British Cemetery, Arcade, Italy. Private Robson’s sacrifice is also remembered on a plaque formerly at Trinity and St James’s Presbyterian Church in Sunderland, and currently located at St George’s United Reformed Church, and also in the Great War Memorial Book, formerly kept at Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland, and since its closure at the Donnison School Heritage and Education Centre in the city.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

1 January 1918

Image of the Border Regiment cap badge

The Border Regiment cap badge

Chaplain Harry Ernest Scott

Harry Ernest Scott was born in North Shields on 12 March 1866, the second son of Luke Scott, a master mariner, and his wife Jane. In 1881 his elder brother Charles, aged 22, was an engine fitter, while Harry Scott, aged 15, was a pupil teacher. He taught at St Giles School in Durham, and at one time played the organ at St Peter’s church, Wallsend.

He matriculated at Durham University in the Michaelmas term of 1887 to study Arts, and remained an Unattached student until 1890 when he joined University College, where he was an organ scholar. He was awarded a B.A. in 1890, M.A. in 1899 and B.D. in 1907.

He married Mary Fell at St Nicholas’s Church Durham on 3 April 1893, and their son Charles was born when they were living at Fishponds, Bristol. In 1894 he was ordained deacon and in 1895 priest for the Diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, and was Vice Principal of the Diocesan Training College at Fishponds from 1893-95.

Scott moved to St Bees in Cumberland to be Curate and Lecturer at the College until 1896 when he became Curate and then Vicar of St Mary’s Carlisle. From 1901 he was Acting Chaplain to the Forces, (the Border Regiment), at Carlisle Castle and was joint editor of the Carlisle Diocesan Gazette from 1911.

Chaplain Harry Scott died suddenly in Carlisle on 17 January 1918 and is buried in the cemetery there. He was then aged 51. He did not serve in the forces overseas, or indeed anywhere outside of Carlisle.

Research contributor: Pat Atkinson, Caroline Craggs.

13 January 1918

Image of the Army Service Corps cap badge

Army Service Corps cap badge

Corporal Henry James Robison Bolt

Harry Bolt was born in Dumfriesshire in Scotland on 1 September 1870, the son of Wilhelmina ('Mina') and John Birch Bolt, a gardener, and brought up at Stanwix, Carlisle.

Bolt’s sister Emily was listed as a teacher at a board school in the 1891 census when he was a student at Bede College from 1891-1892. There is little record of his time in Durham apart from a note in The Bede magazine June 1892 issue of a concert on 30 April given by the Seniors in the college’s dining hall, and in which Bolt sang some songs.There is no mention of any sporting achievements although there are references to an obituary in the Cumberland News reporting that as an Assistant Master at Lowther St School, Carlisle, he was a cyclist, keen on athletics, a member of Stanwix church choir, and the secretary of a local tennis club. Carlisle in the Great War, by David Carter, also records that he was secretary of the Carlisle Sports Committee, and was known for organising charity events. Bolt was also a Freemason and may have been a member since his days at Bede College. In 1898 he married Jane Firth and they had a son Henry Spencer in 1902 and a daughter Mary Helena in 1909.

In 1915 at the age of 43 he enlisted in the Army Service Corps at the Cumberland and Westmorland Depot, but quickly resigned from his post as Quartermaster Sergeant to join the draft and landed in France on 4 October 1915. He served there as a corporal, a lorry driver in the 402 Motor transport company which carried ammunition for 25th Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery.

On 5 November 1917, while working from 4th Siege Park near Arras delivering supplies to the 1st Canadian Division in preparation for their successful assault the next day on Passchendaele Bolt’s vehicle was hit by a shell and he was briefly listed in the war diary (RG-9-III-D-3 vol. 5068) as missing. The operations of the Canadian forces at this date are summarised in the Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919. Bolt was repatriated due to his wounds, but died in Fazakerley Hospital Liverpool (1st Western General Hospital) on 13 January 1918, leaving a widow and two children, then living in Lowther Street. He is buried in Dalston Road Cemetery Carlisle, and commemorated on his parent’s gravestone in Stanwix Cemetery and the war memorial there, and on the war memorial at Carlisle Cemetery. He is also honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts

28 February 1918

Image of Corporal E.F. Pattinson  (Ref: E/HB 2/934(30))

Corporal E.F. Pattinson (Ref: E/HB 2/934(30))

Corporal Edward Fidler Pattinson

Edward Fidler Pattinson was born the youngest of five children on 31 May 1889 to Mary Ann Pattinson (née Fidler) and James Walton Pattinson, a railway station master, in Haltwhistle, Northumberland. After Edward’s father died in 1897, leaving an estate of £89 6s, responsibility for supporting the family would have fallen first on his mother. By the time of the 1901 census, when Mary Ann is listed as living on her own means, two of her children (aged 14 and 16) were working, one as a grocer’s apprentice and the other as a telegraph messenger. Whether Mary Ann had private means of any kind beyond her husband’s estate, or in fact she was being supported by her family is not evident. Nevertheless, the family was able to send the youngest son, Edward, to be educated as a teacher at Bede College in Durham in 1907.

While at Bede College Pattinson served as captain of the hockey team in 1908, and, (in view of his later activities in Germany), was likely involved with the college choir. He passed his certificate examination in 1909 with a distinction in Music. Upon leaving the college Pattinson worked for a time as an Assistant Teacher at New Silksworth Council School.

In 1914 Pattinson joined the 8th Durham Light Infantry, but in their first very bloody engagement in the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge on 25 April 1915 he was wounded and captured. According to the narrative of fellow captive Lance Corporal J. Thomas, and which was not published in The Bede magazine until June 1916, that day Pattinson’s company continued to fight alongside Canadian troops after another company had been overcome by the German attack. No order to retreat was received by the men, perhaps due to the death of their officer. Other accounts of the day do refer to a general order to fall back, the two DLI companies’ positions having become untenable, but the subsequent disorganised retreat exposed the men to very heavy fire which took a further toll.

Pattinson was wounded in the arm, and though Thomas in his letter in The Bede passed on second-hand reports of some of the wounded having been bayonetted, Pattinson was taken prisoner. Such atrocity reports are not uncommon at this date of in the war, and may be more a feature of the force of allied propaganda than of what actually occurred: an anonymous account from The Bede quoted above provides more convincing testimony of what went on that day. With a number of fellow prisoners Edward spent that first night in a church before being marched three hours to Roeselare, where, upon arrival, the men were “…put in a sort of garret… The floor was covered with straw; [they] had no blankets (luckily the weather was not cold) and for food [they] had a cup of coffee and a slice of bread twice a day” (The Bede,June 1916, p.17).

Initially the sole Bede man to be sent to Stendal, a camp in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, Pattinson was later joined there by W. E. Taylor who had been previously at a camp at Münster with many of the other captured Bede men. During his time at Stendal Pattinson was able to establish a correspondence with the The Bede magazine and received gifts from home. Rev. H. M. Williams, a chaplain stationed at Berlin and noted for his cheerful visits, met with Pattinson at the camp multiple times. Pattinson continued to pursue his interest in music, and “A Special Barrack was allowed for the Divine Service, and Pattinson was Choir Master. Some Church music and hymn books for which he asked [were] sent to him” (The Bede, March 1916, p.24).

The point at which Pattinson was promoted is unclear, but he was eventually made a Corporal during his time at the camp. The title of ‘Private’ was, however, at times mistakenly used in records and correspondence after the promotion. The Bede magazine emphasized his promotion, writing, “[i]f any of his contemporaries write to E. F. Pattinson they should be careful to address him by his proper rank as Corporal Pattinson. This is very desirable that this should be done” (The Bede, April 1918, p.5).

Shortly before Pattinson was to be transferred to another camp in Holland, news reached him that his fiancée had succumbed to pneumonia (the ‘Spanish Flu’). Having fallen victim to the same illness, Edward died soon after on 28 February 1918. A tribute to him, printed in The Bede reveals the extent to which Pattinson had been liked at the camp:

“T. E. B. Russell writes from The Hague as follows:– ‘On arriving at Aachen, where the party concentrated, I met a man who came from the camp where Ned Pattinson of ‘ours’ had been so long, and he told me of his sudden death a few days before. It was all the more sad as had he lived he would have come through with the same party as myself. Indeed I myself saw his name on the list in the office. The man I met had been a particular friend of ‘Pat’ as he affectionately called him and he broke down whilst telling me the sad story. It appears the he was the most popular man in the camp amongst all nationalities’

Three Canadian Soldiers wrote letters of sympathy to the relatives. ‘We were captured with him and have been together ever since. We laid ‘Pat’ to rest with military honours, with the Scotch bagpipes played by Sergeant Proudfoot of the Black Watch, and the last post by Corporal Tierney. It was touching to see with what sincerity each man paid the last honours to his departed comrade. The adieu from his class read in French by one of ‘Pat’s’ former pupils showed to what extent he was esteemed and respected by our Allies.’ A copy of the address read at the grave by Henri Vévy and signed by nineteen French soldiers, members of the Class, was also sent.”

The Bede magazine, v.14, no. 3, August 1918, p.2

Edward Pattinson is buried at Berlin South-Western Cemetary, Stahnsdorf. His name is inscribed on the Holy Cross Church memorial in Haltwhistle, and he is also commemorated on the Durham County Council war memorial at County Hall, and the Bede College 1914-1918 cross , plaque, and roll of honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Irene Velicer.

8 March 1918

Image of the Highland Light Infantry cap badge

Highland Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant Walter Henderson

Walter Henderson was born in Carlisle, Cumberland in November 1878, the third child of Thomas Henderson, a painter / compositor by trade, and his wife, Martha, (née Hind). The family lived at 29 Church Street, described as a Public House in the 1881 census, which his parents ran at this time. Walter was educated at the Carlisle Grammar School being awarded the George Moore Scholarship in 1891, worth £7 per annum and attending the Grammar School 1893-1894. At the age of 16, he went on to serve as a pupil teacher at Fawcett Boys’ School, Carlisle. At this time a five-year apprenticeship could be served within a school context and then an examination could be taken which would qualify the student for a place at a recognised teacher training college. It seems likely that Walter entered Bede College in 1899 by this route.

Walter passed his first year courses in 1900, achieving 1st Division in Part 1, and 3rd Division in Part 2 of the certificate. He completed the two year course in 1901, achieving Class 2 overall. He then returned to Carlisle to take up a post as Assistant Schoolmaster in Fawcett School where he remained until the outbreak of war. He enjoyed athletics of all kinds and played football, for several years being Secretary of the Carlisle Schools Football League.

It is reported that Walter Henderson joined the 9th (Glasgow Highlanders) Highland Light Infantry soon after the outbreak of war, in the ranks as Sergeant. While no record has been found, it seems that Walter served at home until he entered France on 28 November 1917, his first service overseas. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant at this time, and by March 1918 was attached to the 13th Royal Fusiliers as part of the force stationed on the Menin Road. The following report of an action on 8 March is recorded in a history of the Royal Fusiliers:

“On this day the 13th Battalion were in the front line astride the Menin Road … when they were warned by the brigade that the enemy intended to attack during the night to capture the high ground north-west of Gheluvelt, which had been won by a great outpouring of blood in the summer and autumn offensive of 1917. … At 6.30 a.m. the Germans opened a bombardment … which … continued until about 5 p.m. North of the Menin Road the shelling was very severe. … On the front of the 13th Battalion no attack developed; but the bombardment had caused heavy casualties in No. 3 Company, north of the road, and at 6.30 p.m. Sergeant A. Clark sent back a message, ‘Please send as many stretcher-bearers as possible. Only few men left to carry on. Two officers killed, two wounded. Please send reinforcements as soon as possible.’ … Captain F.W. Bower and Second Lieutenant W. Henderson were killed on this occasion; five officers were wounded, and there were 140 other ranks casualties.”

The Royal Fusiliers in the Great War by Herbert O’Neill (1922), p.221-222.

His battalion Major wrote:

“He was killed instantly by a trench mortar shell. I cannot speak too highly of the magnificent way he behaved during the very heavy bombardment by the enemy. He was out in the trench with his men the whole time cheering them up and attending to the wounded. By his death the Battalion has lost a very brave and efficient officer. He was very popular with all ranks and his loss is keenly felt.”

Letter from the Commanding Officer, 13th Battalion (Glasgow Highlanders) Highland Light Infantry, quoted in war memorial webpage published by Trinity School, Cumbria.

This was a hard winter for his widowed mother: Walter’s younger brother Robert, a pioneer in the Royal Engineers, died in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (then Tanganyika Territory, formerly German East Africa) in December 1917, where he is buried. Walter was initially buried in Tower Hamlets Small Cemetery, which was between Gheluvelt and Bass Wood, on the west side of a row of pillboxes called “Tower Hamlets”. It contained the graves of 36 soldiers from the UK who fell in the winter of 1917-18. After the Armistice, his body was exhumed and reburied in the Hooge Crater Cemetery. He is commemorated on a cross in Bede College grounds, and in Carlisle in memorials at St Cuthbert’s Church, St Barnabas Church, and Holy Trinity Church, and also at the Trinity School war memorial.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.
Additional sources: the image of the Highland Light Infantry cap badge, taken by BuzzWeiser196 is reproduced under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

21 March 1918

Image of the Royal Irish Rifles cap badge

Royal Irish Rifles cap badge

Lieutenant James Clarence Renwick

James Renwick was born at Winlaton in the autumn of 1879, the elder son of James Renwick, a blacksmith and nail maker, and his wife Rosanna Parker. His brother William Ernest was 6 years his junior.

He worked as a journalist for the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle until in 1900 he went to Hatfield Hall, Durham University, with a Theological scholarship. In the Michaelmas Term 1901 he satisfied the examiners in the first year Theology examinations and was awarded a Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.) in 1902. While a student he participated in Union debates, arguing against an Anglo-Japanese alliance.

Ordination as a deacon took place in the chapel of the Bishop of Durham at Auckland Palace in July 1902. He was ordained priest in 1903.

Renwick first served as curate in Hebburn, from 1902, then Greenside from 1904, Monkwearmouth from 1906, Usworth from 1908, Hartlepool from 1911 and Hunwick from 1912 to 1913. While still a curate he returned to Hatfield with a Theological scholarship and gained a B.A. in 1908. While curate at Usworth he met Annie Weatherburn a teacher from Norham in Northumberland, and they married in Hartlepool in the summer of 1911.

He enlisted as a private with the Royal Army Medical Corps, as did many other ordained men, and went to France on 10 July 1915 with a Field Ambulance unit. These were mobile front line medical units that looked after and evacuated injured men. Privates were orderlies, bearers, cooks and washmen and in the Sanitary section they worked on water supplies, cooking bathing and de-lousing. Officers and men of the R.A.M.C. did not carry arms and ammunition. The 45th and 46th Field Ambulances of the R.A.M.C. were deployed to France on the date that James is reported to have gone, so it is likely that he served with one of them. They were with the 15th Scottish Division and dealt with the consequences of the Battle of Loos and the gas attacks at Hulloch. They served on the Somme at Pozieres and Flers Courcelette.

Renwick was promoted to second lieutenant on 20 August 1917 and transferred from the Reserve Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles to the 10th Battalion a few days later. They took part in the 3rd Battle of Ypres (or Battle of Passchendaele). He must have had further promotion because lieutenant is the rank on his grave stone and memorials.

On 21 March 1918 Lieutenant James Renwick died of wounds in Belfast Military Hospital. It is not yet known exactly when or where he received these wounds. He is buried in Norham Churchyard near his wife: two gravestones bear his name. He is also remembered in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920) and on a plaque in Hatfield College Chapel, there described as a Chaplain to the Forces but this appears to be an error.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Emily Cooper, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Machine Gun Corps cap badge

Machine Gun Corps cap badge

Captain Geoffrey Bower Hughes-Games

Geoffrey Hughes-Games’ grandfather Joshua Jones was a clergyman and the headmaster of King William’s College on the Isle of Man: he changed his name to Hughes-Games in 1880. His son Joshua Hughes Wynn Hughes Jones married Ellen Rose Bower in 1886 in the Wirral. He too was ordained and ministered in Trowbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, Plymouth, Birmingham, Birling in Kent and Birkenhead. He died in 1904 the same year as his father and was buried in Cheltenham. They had two daughters Dorothy, and Gladys, and three sons Joshua, William and Geoffrey the youngest, who was born in Birmingham and baptised two days later on 27 December 1890 by his father in his parish church of St Matthias, Birmingham.

In 1913 Geoffrey matriculated and came to St John’s Hall, Durham University, where he studied for a B.A. with Hebrew as an extra subject. At Easter 1914 he satisfied the examiners in the first year examinations in Mathematical and Physical Sciences. In March 1914 at the Union he supported a motion (which was defeated) in favour of compulsory military training at the university. As the son of an Honorary Chaplain to the Forces, with two brothers who like him went on to serve in the coming war, it is no surprise that he was in the university’s Officers’ Training Corps. The Corps trained at Richmond in spring 1914 and was in camp in July. He was reported to be a private in the 6th Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment in the Durham University Journal of November 1914.

His elder brother Joshua, a Cambridge graduate, was commissioned as a second lieutenant, became a captain in the 18th Durham Light Infantry, and was awarded the Military Cross. He served in Egypt and France, was wounded on 1 October 1916 but eventually died of pneumonia in 1918 after a long period in hospital. His second brother, William, went to Canada in 1911 where he worked for a cotton spinning business, and so enlisted in the Canadian forces on the outbreak of war. He was discharged from service with tuberculosis which was said to have developed after he had been gassed: he died in British Colombia in 1958. Since his father died of chest and heart trouble and Joshua of pneumonia it may have been a family affliction.

In August 1915 Geoffrey Hughes-Games enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment as private 2820. This battalion fought in the battles of the Somme as part of 144 Brigade of the 48th South Midland Division. In February 1916 the 36th Machine Gun Corps was formed and Geoffrey transferred to this new unit with the number 21075. Few records have survived, but the M.G.C. was said to have been formed of skilled officers and to have starved the infantry of the fittest and most intelligent recruits to man their machine guns.

Captain Geoffrey Hughes-Games died on 21 March 1918 near St Quentin on the first day of an expected German attack, and is commemorated on the Pozières memorial. He is also commemorated in Cheltenham cemetery, where his parents are buried, and a St John College plaque in the church of St Mary the Less in the South Bailey, Durham City, as well as on the Isle of Man roll of honour as the nephew of C.T.W. Hughes Games the Vicar General.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Linda MacDonald, Joyce Malcolm.

24 March 1918

Image of Capt. R. Thwaites (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914A)

Capt. R. Thwaites (Ref: UND/F9B/FE1914A)

Captain Robert Thwaites

Robert Thwaites was born 6 March 1894 to William and Maria Thwaites of Clackenthorpe, Cumbria. On completing his formal education at Appleby Grammar School he entered Bede College in 1912. He played rugby for the College and appears in a team photograph for the 1913-14 season in The Bede magazine (April 1914).

Thwaites is recorded in the magazine’s roll of honour in December 1914 as a Lance Sergeant with B Company, 1st Division of 8th Battalion D.L.I. This unit was completing training at Sunderland Road Barracks in Gateshead at this time. The 1/8th D.L.I. embarked for France from Newcastle on 19th April 1915, landing at Boulogne on the 20th and moved up to billet in farms around Cassel. On the afternoon of 23rd they took “buses” to Vlamertinghe where they spent the night and next day they marched through Ypres to front line trenches at Gravenstafel Ridge receiving their “baptism of fire” by sporadic shelling on the way, arriving without casualties. The heavy fighting in this area was the beginning of what was later to be known as the Second Battle of Ypres, and the events of the costly struggle at Gravenstafel Ridge is recorded above in the biographies of those D.L.I. men who were killed there. This battle witnessed the first use of a new German weapon on the Western Front: a cloud of poisonous gas. Its deadly effect was carried on a gentle breeze towards French troops and as a result of its devastating effect on the French the German infantry made a significant advance into Allied territory within a few hours. For the next four weeks the 1/8th were engaged in bitter fighting to regain this lost ground.

The Bede magazine (December 1917) contains an eyewitness account of the Battalion’s first two days in combat, and records that after heavy fighting and work re-supplying the front line with rations and ammunition the remainder of “A” and “B” companies themselves were in need of food:

“Bob Thwaites, myself and two others, set off in search and returned at length with a big box of bully beef and a tin of biscuits. The remainder had meanwhile collected some emergency rations of tea and sugar. We soon had a fire going and boiling some water procured from the slimiest and dirtiest pond I ever remember seeing we soon had a supply of the finest nectar, as we thought it, in our present state of hunger and thirst. This was our first meal for well over 48 hours and we wouldn’t have changed it for all the wealth in France just then.”

'The Bede' magazine, v.14, no. 1, December 1917, p.23.

During this time Robert was promoted in the field to Sergeant. Very early on 22 May Robert’s company was ordered to “Stand to” in their trench and endured a severe gas attack lasting several hours. An eyewitness account of the ensuing action appears in The Bede magazine of June 1915.

“Later that morning the 8th defiled from those trenches further to the right and under heavy shell fire went forward to reinforce the Buffs and Fusiliers. Fifty of the battalion then made a magnificent dash to reinforce a party of Fusiliers. Sergts. Thwaites and Booth, under Capt. Ritson, led this fearless advance. First over the parapets to a trench forty yards in front then a fierce dash under heavy rifle fire, over open ground, to reach the communication trench. Too much praise cannot be given to the men who carried out this wonderful attack. Yet little they thought of it. They were only doing their “little bit.””

'The Bede' magazine, v.11, no.3, June 1915 p.9.

Thwaites was wounded on the 25 May and is recorded as such in the “State of the Battalion” on 31 May. The Cumberland News reported that Robert was in fact hit by a bullet in the head and after emergency treatment in France he was evacuated to Torquay to fully recover. The Bede magazine of March 1916 reported that he had taken a discharge from the 1/8th at the end of 1915 with the intention of re-enlisting in another corps to seek a commission. He was reported in the London Gazette on 6 January 1916 as probationary second lieutenant with the D.L.I. and The Bede further reports that this was a commission into the 22nd Battalion. He was further promoted to full lieutenant in May 1916.

It was during this convalescence from his wound that Robert was married. County records for the quarter Apr-May-June 1916 record his marriage to Elsie Graham. He returned to France in June that year and his unit was involved in the Battle of the Somme which began on 1 July. Robert was reported in The Bede (December 1916) as being “wounded, severly”. The Cumberland News reported that this wound was received on the Somme in October and was a result of shrapnel wounds to the head (again). He was once again sent back to England for treatment, this time to a hospital in Leicester. John Sheen’s Durham pals : 18th, 19th, & 22nd (Service) Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry : a history of three battalions raised by local committee in County Durham (2007), records:

““A” company who had been detailed off to work as stretcher bearers had lost Capt. Knight, killed 26 Oct and Lieutenant Robert Thwaites wounded the following day, but they earned a mention from the ADMS, and probably from every wounded man they carried out.”

'Durham pals: 18th, 19th, & 22nd (Service) Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry: a history of three battalions raised by local committee in County Durham' (2007), by John Sheen.

This action took place around Waterlot Farm.

In March 1917 Robert Thwaites was once more back in France and in June he received his captaincy. In September 1917 his company was involved in more heavy fighting in the action known as “The Cherisy Raid”. An account of this raid is recorded by Capt. Ralph (Chopper) Curry in The Bede of April 1918. A further reference within this issue of the magazine states that both Capts. R. Curry and R. Thwaites were mentioned in despatches in connection with this action.

Captain Robert Thwaites was killed in action on the night of the 24 March 1918. Reports on his death in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald appeared on the 13 and 20 April and the following letters were published in that newspaper on 4 May 1918.

“Mrs. Thwaites, Asby, has received further information regarding the death of her husband, Capt. Thwaites. Major Cecil Hall, of the deceased officer’s battalion writes:¬¬–

I am sorry it has not been possible for me to write to you sooner but unfortunately both the Colonel and the second-in-command were also casualties, and we have consequently been very busy in clearing things up. Poor Capt. Thwaites was killed by a machine gun bullet on the night of the 24th and died almost at once I believe. I cannot say how much we miss him. He was a splendid fellow in every way—fearless and capable as an officer, a gentleman and a comrade to all who knew him and have had the privilege of coming into contact with him. He is a great loss to the battalion in every way, and on behalf of all the officers and men I beg to assure you of our very real sympathy in your great trial.

The Chaplain to the Battalion writing to Mr. Thwaites, Kirkbythore, the father of Capt. Thwaites, gives some further particulars. He says:–

I am afraid we suffered badly from the murderous German machine gun fire, and your son was one of the first to be hit. I understand that he was first slightly wounded but carried on and then he was shot through the heart and died almost instantaneously. He is a tremendous loss to us all. It is some consolation to know that he died so gloriously while leading his men in the thick of battle.”

'Cumberland and Westmorland Herald', 4 May 1918.

Captain Thwaites is buried at Pozières Memorial, in the Somme district of France, and is commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and roll of honour, and on the war memorial cross in Appleby, Cumbria.

Research contributors: Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.
Additional sources: detail of photograph of Bede College Boating Club 1913-1914 from the estate of Fred Forcer.

25 March 1918

Image of the Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge

Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Duckworth

William Duckworth was born on 8 November 1891 in Accrington, Lancashire, the eldest child of John Thomas Duckworth, a butcher, and his wife Margaret Isabella Duckworth, of 1 Russia Street in Accrington. By 1911 the family had moved to Haslingden, Lancashire, John Duckworth having changed his occupation to that of a farmer. The family had grown in size, with six younger children and William’s maternal grandmother, Isabella Clegg, living at home.

William attended Bede College 1910-1912, completing his training in July 1912, when he passed the Certificate Examination (Class III). He joined 16th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers early in the war, was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and entered France with his battalion on 2 December 1915. With this unit he was engaged in various actions on the Western Front, including the Battle of Albert in 1916 where the Division suffered severe casualties and took the rest of the year to rebuild. Duckworth was subsequently gazetted to 20th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. This was also known as the 4th Salford ‘Pals’, raised in Salford on 23 March 1915 as a ‘Bantam’ battalion (i.e. troops who were under the normal regulation minimum height of 5 feet 3 inches). They entered France on 30 January 1916, and fought during the Battles of the Somme at Bazentin Ridge, Arrow Head Copse, Maltz Horn Farm and Falfemont Farm. On 6 July 1916, when deployed between Fricourt and Mametz, William was wounded by flying shrapnel, and wrote a personal account of the circumstances for Bede Magazine.

“To and from the Big Push

… All the time the guns kept thundering, and it was only with difficulty that one could make oneself heard at a distance of ten yards. There were some fine German dug-outs in the communication trench where we were stationed. Consequently, we dug holes in the side of the trench, in which we could sit, and feel a certain sense of safety from the German bombardment. They were shelling us pretty heavily with black shrapnel, high explosives, and lyddite shells. We stuck in that position until mid-night, when an order came down to me to get a party together to go out for rations and water. As the trench we were in was in places knee-deep in thin mud we had been walking along it by getting on the top after dark, for we could then get about much more quickly. I had just got that party together in one end of the trench, and from the top of the trench was showing a corporal the best way to go back to headquarters, when a high explosive shell burst about fifteen yards from us. There was an officer present at the time and the three of us got hit; the poor corporal had his leg blown off at the knee and died later. I got a small piece of shrapnel in the back of my thigh, and the officer got another small piece in his leg. Luckily, there were stretcher-bearers on the spot, and we soon had the corporal bandaged up, but as it proved later it was in vain, the shock had been too great for him. I came out at dawn with the aid of a R.A.M.C. man to one of those German dug-outs, and got properly dressed and despatched by motor ambulance to a clearing station. Eventually, I got to Boulogne and Manchester, and a month after being hit I was at home on sick furlough, almost sound again. My wound never was serious; in fact in ordinary quiet times before the offensive I should not have been sent to England, so I must consider myself as one of the fortunate ones.

W. Duckworth (’12-’14) [recte: 1910-1912]”

'The Bede' magazine, v. 13, no. 1, December 1916, p.21-22.

In 1917 20th battalion was in action during the pursuit to the Hindenburg Line, at Houthulst Forest and during the Second Battle of Passchendaele. In early 1918, as part of a larger reorganisation of the army, the 4th Salford ‘Pals’ was disbanded in Belgium with the troops transferring to other units. William went to 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. During 1918 the battalion saw action in the First Battle of Bapaume, and would go on to fight in the battles of Ypres, Courtrai and at Tieghem.

William, however, was killed in action during the first of these engagements, on 25 March 1918, the first day of the Battle of Bapaume. He is commemorated at the Pozières Memorial. He is further commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and roll of honour, and also on the war memorial at Huncoat, Lancashire.

Research contributors: David Butler, Linda MacDonald, Joyce Malcolm.

28 March 1918

Image of Private John G. Heslop

Private John G. Heslop

Private John Glenwright Heslop

John Glenwright Heslop was born on 15 August 1891 in Hunwick, Co. Durham. His father George was a miner (a master wasteman in 1901) in the colliery there. His mother Margaret was a native of Cumberland, having been born in Allendale. John Heslop was a student at Bede College 1910-1912, boarding at 149 Gilesgate in the city with three other Bede men, Walter Holmes, Thomas Cook, and Joseph Atkinson, the last of whom who was killed in the conflict in his first engagement on 25 April 1915 at Ypres. In common with most of his fellow students he spent these two years as a Territorial Force volunteer in the college’s “A” Company in 8 D.L.I.

Upon graduation in 1912 John Heslop took up a post at Pelton County School as a certificated Assistant Teacher. In December 1914 Heslop enlisted at Durham into 8 D.L.I., giving as his address 7 Rough Lea Terrace in Hunwick, his parents’ home. He served with the battalion continuously with many of his Bede friends until his death in action in France on 28 March 1918 – a long service, interrupted only briefly in March 1916 due to myalgia (muscle pain). He was one of those twenty-one men who posed for a picture after the slaughter of Gravenstafel Ridge in April 1915 captioned “Bede. All that was left”.

There are numerous mentions of Heslop in The Bede magazine through the war years: he played on the battalion’s winning football team in a brigade competition during a rest month out of the line at La Creche in December 1915, receiving a medal from the General; and he was attached to the Signal Section of the battalion in May 1916. In April 1918 it was reported that Heslop was the last of the original contingent of Bede men who went out to France in April 1915 still serving in the battalion, the others all having been transferred, promoted or killed.

In late March 1918 the division was retreating under enemy attack to a line from Chaulnes to Curlu on the Somme. The fighting was such that on 25 March due to losses the 150th Brigade was reformed to a single composite battalion of approximately 540 officers and men. On 26 March the division fell back under orders to a line between Rosières-en-Santerre and Vauvilles repelling an enemy attack on the line on 27 March. Over the next few days further orders to withdraw were received with the enemy always in close pursuit eventually to a line between Mézières-en-Santerre and Démuin.

Private John Heslop’s sacrifice is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, and also on a cross and war memorial at Hunwick, along with the names of his nephew and brother-in-law who were also both killed during the war. His name is also listed on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and roll of honour.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.
Additional sources: the image of John G. Heslop is from a photograph of the Bede Company, 8 D.L.I., taken in late April 1915 after the Battle of Gravelstafel Ridge, and published in The Bede magazine v.12 no.1, December 1915, facing p.13.

29 March 1918

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Company Sergeant Major Wilson Forrest

Wilson Forrest was born in Middlesbrough, probably at Linthorpe, the son of Wilson and Frances Forrest, one of five children. His father was a boiler maker, and by 1901 a foreman. Between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one Forrest worked as a pupil teacher at Great Ayton, North Yorkshire. He trained for his Certificate at Bede College 1905-1907, and then was appointed Assistant Teacher at New Brancepeth Council School until his enlistment in September 1914 at the age of 30 as a private. During this time he lived at 18 High Wood View in Durham with his wife Sarah, son (born in 1911), and mother-in-law, Frances Willis.

When at Bede College, in common with many of his fellow students, Forrest completed two years of service with 4th Durham Rifle Volunteer Battalion as a private. After joining up Wilson served with 18 D.L.I., a ‘Pals’ battalion, first in Egypt and then in France. This long period of continuous active service saw him quickly promoted through the ranks to Company Sergeant Major by 1915.

The activities of the battalion were regularly reported in The Bede magazine during this period, Forrest’s name appearing among a diminishing band of surviving Bede alumni. The German Spring Offensive began on 21 March 1918. The 18th Battalion tookpart in the First Battle of Arras (28–30 March) and were positioned on the Ayette Ridge. The history of the 18th Battalion records that in the opening days of the action, when Forrest was killed, “shelling on the crest and reverse slopes of Ayette Ridge was exceptionally violent and we had a high percentage of casualties; all movement from cover of the trenches was dangerous” (War history of the 18th (S.) Battalion Durham Light Infantry (1920), by W.D. Lowe, p.108).

Wilson is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, France. His sacrifice is commemorated on war memorials at Durham Shire Hall and County Hall, Durham Town Hall, Durham St Oswald’s Calvary, the Durham City Comrades Club, New Brancepeth, as well as the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and roll of honour. Forrest’s connection with Durham St Oswald’s may be explained by his presence in memorial books held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and St Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle upon Tyne (with plaque), in which the names of bell-ringers who were killed during the war are commemorated.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

31 March 1918

Image of 'The Kensingtons at Laventie' (1915), by E.H. Kennington © IWM (Art.IWM ART 15661)

The Kensingtons at Laventie, by E.H. Kennington © IWM (Art.IWM ART 15661)

Second Lieutenant Alfred Charles Kirk

A.C. Kirk was the son of a German couple, Friedrich and Johanna Kirchenwitz, and this was his surname throughout childhood. The first use of the name Kirk appears to have been at his enlistment, and so it appears he was one of a number of naturalised German immigrants who changed their name, for obvious reasons. The family lived in Whitechapel, London, when Alfred Charles was born in 1884. His father, Friedrich Carl August Kirchenwitz was originally from Zechendorf in Pomerania but became a naturalised Englishman in 1901. His profession was as a tailor’s cutter, living for a time at 16 American Square in Minories. Alfred attended the City of London School 1898-July 1903, and Durham University 1903-1906, where he studied Arts but did not complete his degree. A Hatfield man, he rowed for his College as well as representing the university, in 1906. The 1911 census records that he was then Assistant Secondary Schoolmaster in a London school. He enlisted in the 13th (County of London) Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion of the London Regiment, as a lance-corporal; and he was gazetted second lieutenant in 1917. His medal card indicates that it was only after this date that his service in France began.

A.C. Kirk died on 31 March 1918, during the Second Battle of Arras, and was buried at the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. His father having died in 1906, Kirchenwitz’s medals and his effects were sent by the War Office to his mother Johanna Caroline Kirchenwitz, and it was to her that probate was granted in June 1918. The change of surname seems to have confused some authorities to the extent that his sacrifice is not (yet) commemorated on any war memorial, even at Durham, although his name appears in the Durham University Roll of Service.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden, City of London School.

3 April 1918

Image of the Durham Light Infentry cap badge

Corporal Alfred I’Anson Davis

Alfred Davis was born in Bishop Auckland on 1 November 1890, the third son of William Thomas Davis, a drapers buyer, and his wife Mary. His elder brothers were William Beckwith and Charles Leonard, who both also served in the war. His father re-married (Annie Preston) in 1893 after the death of Mary, but he died later that year. A younger half-sister Gladys was born shortly after his father’s death. Alfred and Charles were adopted by a farmer named Robert Thompson, and they lived with him at Constantine Farm in Quarry Burn near Hunwick, County Durham.

By the time he started his studies at Bede College in 1914 Davis had moved to Howden-le-Wear, but he left the college early in July 1915 to join 3/8th Durham Light Infantry, and so never completed his studies or qualified. There is little known of his army career, but he served as a sergeant instructor before transferring to 1/6th D.L.I., where his final rank was that of a corporal. Alfred was killed at Pozières in northern France on 3 April 1918 during the German Spring offensive of that year. Little is known of his death in the confusion of the German advance, and he has no known grave. He is therefore commemorated on the war memorial at Pozières, accompanied by the names of approximately six hundred other members of his regiment. He is also honoured on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Ian Bowman, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

8 April 1918

Image of Cpl W.J. Shepherd (Ref: E/HB 2/698)

Cpl W.J. Shepherd (Ref: E/HB 2/698)

Corporal William James Shepherd

William James Shepherd was born in March 1893 at Village Farm Raskelf, a small village near Easingwold in North Yorkshire, where his family had farmed for several generations. He was the son of James and Mary Shepherd, and the eldest of three brothers. In 1911 he entered the teacher training course at Bede College in Durham. There, aged 18, he also joined the Territorials in November 1911, attending training camps in Scarborough each year with his contemporaries at the college. At Bede he was also on the Cricket Committee. He completed his training in July 1913, gaining qualifications as a primary school teacher.

William enlisted on 16 September 1914, and on 19 April 1915 he embarked with the 8th Battalion by train to Folkestone and then over to France, camping on the cliffs at Boulogne on arrival. Moving on to Cassel in Northern France they spent three pleasant days billeted in farms, trying out their French and swimming in the farmyard pools. The good spirits lasted as they were conveyed across the Belgian frontier in a convoy of London buses, until arriving at Vlamertinghe they saw refugees from Ypres pouring down the roads towards them and heard news of a gas attack. This was the first successful use of gas in the war, and they were soon to see its effects as they camped by the Canadian hospital where victims had been brought. The following day they moved up to the Front to relieve the Canadians, only 150 yards from the German lines, again seeing many lying dead from the effects of gas. The men they were relieving were shelled as they left, taking heavy casualties. In the dreadful fighting that followed, when 19 officers and 574 other ranks from the battalion were killed over the period, William escaped without serious injury. (Fuller descriptions of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge may be found above, in the biographies of those men of Bede Company, 8 D.L.I., who were killed.)

On May 24 William was hospitalised at Wimereux with severe influenza, being moved to the larger hospital at Rouen 3 days later. He returned there three times in August with gas poisoning, returning to G.H.Q. for duty on 28 May. The following year he was admitted again in March with German measles, returning to duty ten days later. In May that year he was promoted to acting corporal, but on 5 February 1917 he was in hospital again in Rouen suffering from ‘debility’, and was transferred to England 3 weeks later. He never recovered, and was discharged on 28 January 1918 on the grounds of total disablement due to ‘the exposure and strain of active service’ , with ‘100% incapacity’ for three months, and the recommendation of a surgical corset, with a review to follow six months later. William died, at home, of meningitis on 8 April 1918, and is buried in a civilian grave in the little churchyard of Raskelf, where his parents James and Mary subsequently joined him.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Sheila Seacroft.

9 April 1918

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Captain Ralph Curry

Ralph Curry was born on 6 July 1895 at 6 Pine Street, Chester-le-Street, Co Durham. His father John was a joiner and his mother was named Harriet (née Richardson). They later moved to 17 John Street (by 1911), and 29 Co-operative Street in the same town (by 1918). Ralph Curry was educated in the council and then secondary schools in Chester-le-Street, and then trained to be a schoolteacher at Bede College, attending 1914-15. On completing his training he joined Durham University’s (Newcastle branch) Officers’ Training Corps and was recommended for a commission within three months (awarded 3 November 1915), and gazetted on 24 November joining the Durham Light Infantry. He was made acting lieutenant on 27 April 1917 while second in command of 151st Trench Mortar Battery, and promoted to acting captain on 23 November 1917.

A rugby and football player, Curry’s exploits during his time at the college were reported in issues of the college magazine, The Bede: he played in the Bede College football team against ‘B’ Company, 8 D.L.I. on 30 January 1915, winning 7 goals to 4, and also played in the college rugby team on 20 February 1915 against Imperial Services at North Durham Rugby Field, Felling, this time being defeated 16 points to 3. During their service Curry and his contemporaries at the college could keep in touch with each other through the same magazine. In June 1916 it reported Curry was serving with 8th Battalion, D.L.I., 50th Division, at the front, and in April 1918 it reported Curry and Captain R. Thwaites had been mentioned in dispatches for their good work in connection with the Cherisy raid on 15 September 1917. The battalion’s war diary contains a great amount of detail concerning the planning and execution of the Cherisy raid, but Ralph Curry – under the pseudonym “Choppy” – contributed a short description for The Bede, and which was published in the same April issue of the magazine.

Captain Curry died of wounds received in action on Tuesday 9 April 1918 during the Battle of the Lys near a town called Merville, France.

In the official history of 8th D.L.I. by Veitch, his death is recorded as follows:

“Half an hour later, at 5 p.m., under cover of an artillery barrage, the Germans advanced, and a few gained a crossing at Lock de la Rault, but were then held up and a counter-attack was at once ordered by the three platoons under Captain R. H. Guest Williams.

The situation was now very critical, for half the Battalion reserve had been used and touch quite lost with Brigade Headquarters owing, it was found, to the buried cable between the report centre near Pont Riquel and the Brigade having been deliberately cut. At this time, too, the 6th Battalion garrison at Pont Levis had been forced back to the northern bank of the river. A little later a counter-attack restored the position here. In this counter-attack the 151st Trench Mortar Battery took part, and Lieutenant R. Curry of the 8th Battalion, who was commanding the battery, was fatally wounded. A message was sent to the 152nd Infantry Brigade, 51st Division, reporting the situation, and asking if any support could be given by them.”

Eighth Battalion The Durham Light Infantry 1793-1926 [1927], by Major E. Hardinge Veitch, p.171.

Aged 22 years, he left an estate valued £209 0s 8d. He is buried in Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France. His sacrifice is commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross , plaque, and roll of honour. It is also recorded at Chester-le-Street on the old war memorial (plaque containing names now located in the churchyard of Chester-le-Street parish church) and the war memorial in Market Place, on the choir front in the Central Primitive Methodist Church, on a memorial plaque in St Mary and St Cuthbert Church, and on a plaque at the secondary school. A short biography, with a portrait photograph supplied by Curry’s great-nephew, is published by the North East War memorials Project.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

11 April 1918

Image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Private Cuthbert William Nesbit

The son of the Reverend John William Nesbit and his wife Hannah, Cuthbert was born into a large family in October 1895. The 1901 census confirms at least 7 sisters and 1 brother living at the Rectory in Aldborough, Norfolk, and the 1911 census indicates a further brother, James Widdowson Nesbit who had been born around 1890. By 1911 both Cuthbert and his younger brother Charles were boarding in Louth, Lincolnshire, whilst attending the King Edward VI Grammar School there.

In 1915, he matriculated in Arts and Theology at Hatfield Hall, Durham where 35 years previously his father had been an Exhibitioner (B.A. , 1881; M.A., 1885). Hatfield registers confirm Nesbit’s good attendance in both the Michaelmas term of 1915 and the Epiphany term of 1916, reading Arts (in litteris antiquis), with Hebrew as an optional subject. He was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps.

In January 1916, Nesbit enlisted at Durham. In April of that year he joined the 11th Bn Lincolnshire Regiment and on 25 July he arrived in France; joined 2nd Bn. on 4 August. Here his military service seems to have been jinxed by regular periods of ill-health: suspected dysentery necessitated hospitalisation in November 1916 when he was repatriated aboard H.M. Hospital Ship Formosa to the University War Hospital in Southampton. This was followed by a short posting to 3rd Bn Lincolnshire Rifles at Grimsby, a training unit. In January 1917, he was transferred to the dysentery convalescent hospital at New Milton, Hampshire until in November, he was again posted to France, again with the 2nd Bn Lincolnshire Regiment. Again, his condition required numerous spells in hospital until 29 March 1918 when he joined the 8th Bn.

On 10 April 1918 he is reported “wounded in action” and was admitted to the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital in the Citadel at Doullens, one among 1238 admitted that day. Here he died of “multiple gunshot wounds” on the following day, 11 April 1918. Among his effects were two pieces of shrapnel, perhaps from an earlier close shave.

Cuthbert Nesbit is buried, and his service commemorated, at the Doullens Communal Cemetery, Extension No. 1, Somme, in France. He is also remembered on the war memorial of King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth; the Lincolnshire Regiment Roll of Honour in St George’s Chapel, Lincoln Cathedral; the memorial cross in St Mary’s churchyard, Ludborough, Lincolnshire; and on a plaque in Hatfield College’s chapel.

Additional sources: throughtheselines.com.au; collectionscanada.ca; /www.rootschat.com; www.roll-of-honour.com.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Kathryn Stevens, Pauline Walden.

12 April 1918

Image of Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Private Edward Nicholson Keedy

Edward Nicholson Keedy was the fifth child (fourth son) of six born in May 1880 to George Young Keedy and Ann Eliza Keedy of South Shields, County Durham. His father worked as a lightman on the Tyne and later as a wherryman. Lightman and wherryman were terms for boats and their workers on the river.

As a child Edward Keedy attended Holy Trinity Boys School in South Shields from 3 December 1888 to 15 September 1902, and in 1903 he enrolled at Bede College to train as a teacher. After graduating he took up a teaching post at Westoe County School where he worked until he joined first the 2/7th Northumberland Fusiliers, later transferring to the 1/5th Durham Light Infantry.

Between 9 and 11 April 1918 the D.L.I. was part of the 150th brigade which was defending the bridges over the Lys at and around Estaires. It appears that no record of losses exists for individual days as the battalion were moving around defending the lines and the losses are listed on 12 April as 25 killed, 112 wounded and 286 missing in action. Private Edward Keedy was among these casualties. His body was never identified.

Edward Keedy is remembered on a number of memorials including the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross (but not its plaque or roll of honour), rolls of honour at Holy Trinity Church and School in South Shields, books of remembrance at Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland, and Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainaut, Belgium. Keedy left a widow, Isabel (née Blenkinsop Blackie) – they had married in 1909 – and who was living at 58 Hartington Terraces in South Shields in 1918. Isabel Keedy survived until 1959.

Research contributors: David Butler, Christine McGann, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Royal Naval Division officer's cap badge

Royal Naval Division officer's cap badge

Sub-Lieutenant Cecil Horace Mallett, R.N.V.R.

Cecil Horace Mallett was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk on 3 January 1897 to Frank, a shipbuilder’s clerk, and Edith Mallett. He had one younger sister, Dorothy, who died in childhood. There is little information on his early education, although he appears to have been admitted to Lowestoft School of Science in 1909 at the age of 11 years. He came to Bede College in September 1915, aged 18, but attended for only one term: it is recorded in the 1916 annual report that he left during that session to join up.

Cecil joined the Suffolk Regiment, 11th Battalion (Cambridgeshire), and served with this unit from the end of 1915 to May 1917, holding the rank of Lance Corporal. On 9 January 1916 the battalion landed at Boulogne to join the B.E.F., as part of the 34th Division, 101st Brigade. The battalion fought at the Somme in July of that year, near Pozières, leading the British infantry assault. In 1916 the battalion went on to fight, as part of the 4th Army, at the battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge and

Mouquet Farm. In April 1917, as part of the Arras offensive, it was again engaged in the First Battle of the Scarpe, 9-14 April, and the Battle of Arleux, 28-29 April.

On 30 May 1917 Cecil Mallett was discharged from the Suffolk Regiment and commissioned as temporary Sub-Lieutenant in the R.N.V.R., the Royal Naval Division originally formed in 1914 to “take, fortify or defend” naval bases. Some officers and ratings were transferred from the Navy, and some, like Mallett, were provided by the Army, but most recruits were reservists. In May 1916 the Royal Marine Brigade, 63rd Division, went to France, where it remained for the rest of the war.

In August 1917 Cecil Mallett trained with his battalion in trench warfare and construction at Blandford Camp, Dorset. At the end of August he joined 8th (Anson) Battalion, but was quickly detached in October to the 18th Corps Reinforcement Camp. After a further period of instruction in November 1917, and home leave from 18-31 December 1917, he re-joined Anson Battalion at the Front. There it fought during the first phases of the First Battle of the Somme, 1918: at St Quentin 21-23 March, Bapaume on 24-25 March, and on 5 April it took part in the Battle of the Ancre.

A total of 177,739 men of Britain and the Commonwealth were recorded as killed, wounded or missing during this first battle of the Somme (1918), among them Cecil Horace Mallett. He was transferred to the 5th Red Cross Hospital at Wimereux on 8 April with contusions to his legs and arms but died of his wounds four days later. It was reported in Bede Magazine (April 1919) that he had been buried in his dug-out by a shell, and was only rescued after 24 hours. Suffering from “extreme nervous shock” he died on 12 April at Wimereux.

Sub-Lieutenant Cecil Horace Mallett is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, and his sacrifice is commemorated on a memorial plaque in St Andrew’s Church, Lowestoft, and also on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. His headstone in Wimereux is engraved: “Thrice blest are they that ever find God’s hand in all”.

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

23 April 1918

Image of Lance Corporal R.R. Robson

Lance Corporal R.R. Robson

Lance Corporal Robert Ramsey Robson

Robert Ramsey Robson was born the second of ten children on 21 December 1893, to Rebecca Robson and Robert Robson, a joiner, in Acomb, Northumberland. By the time of the 1911 census, Robert, aged 17, was a student, while his elder brother John was working as a quarry labourer and a younger brother George, aged 13, was working as a grocer’s errand boy. Robert was educated locally at Hexham Grammar School and then studied to be a teacher at Bede College in Durham, entering the college in 1912. In common with all Bede students, on 15 November 1912 Robson joined the Territorial Force 8th Durham Light Infantry “B” Company. In March 1913, his name was included on the Divinity Class List and he was awarded a Class 2 in the Archbishops’ Certificate as a first year student. His name is included in the list of second year students 1913-1914. While at Bede, Robson was a member of the rugby team (1913-1914), and the hockey team (1913-1914).

With his new qualification Robson became a Certificated Assistant teacher at Barnard Castle Council School, but this was short lived as he joined his regiment on 5 August 1914 as a Private. He was then stationed at Sunderland Road Schools, Gateshead. The Territorial battalions, including the 8th landed in France on the 19 and 20 April 1915 as part of the 50th Northumbrian Division. On 25 April, the 8th Durham Light Infantry were involved in their first bloody engagement in the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, part of the Second Battle of Ypres in which the Division prevented the capture of the city. At some point during this battle Robson was wounded in the thigh, recorded in his military records as having occurred on 28 April. By 2 May Robson had returned to England to convalesce. (A fuller account of this battle is found above in the biographies of Robson’s comrades who were killed that day.)

On 11 June 1915 Robson was attached to the 3/8th Battalion and promoted to Corporal. He re-engaged for 4 years or the period of the war on 3 June 1916 and by 1 September of that year had transferred to the 5th Durham Light Infantry as a Lance Corporal. He appears to have spent further time in England carrying out administrative duties. On 6 March, serving as a Lance Corporal he embarked at Folkestone and landed in Boulogne. By 26 March he was posted to the 19th Durham Light Infantry.

In 1917 the 19th Battalion were in action during the pursuit to the Hindenburg Line, at Houthulst Forest and the Second Battle of Passchendaele. On 8 February they transferred to 104th Brigade, still with the 35th Division. In 1918 they fought in the First Battle of Baupaume, and would go on to fight in the Hundred Days Offensive.

Lance Corporal Robert Robson was killed in action on 22 April 1918 in France. He is buried in Martinsart British Cemetery, France. His name is commemorated in Hexham Abbey’s Roll of Honour, and Bede College’s 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour, as well as the Durham County Council War Memorial at County Hall. He is also remembered on plaques at Acomb Methodist Church, and Hexham Grammar School in Northumberland.

Research contributors: David Butler, Linda MacDonald, Joyce Malcolm.

26 April 1918

Image of 2nd Lt. Bert Rowley. (Original image in private hands.)

2nd Lieutenant Bert George Rowley

Second Lieutenant Albert George Rowley

Albert George Rowley, known as Bert to his family, was the third son of five children born to Thomas Rowley and his wife Annie (née Sarah Annie Beasley). He was born on 20 June 1894 at Williscroft Place in the village of Colton, Staffordshire and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 19 August. In 1911 the family lived in Martlin Cottages, a terrace of houses built in 1904 by the local rector and his sisters to house decent working families in good accommodation at reasonable rents. His father and one older brother both worked in the tanning industry in neighbouring Rugeley.

Rowley was a choir boy at Colton Church, and attended Colton School before gaining a place at Rugeley Grammar School where the 1911 census records him as benefitting from a bursary. The log book of the school contains many references to Rowley’s time as a Student Teacher. In July 1911 he was engaged for one year to work two half days a week with a salary of £45. During this time he gained a second class certificate in Religious Knowledge but failed to be admitted to Saltley Training College. Having failed to secure an appointment he was retained at Rugeley for a further two months until being appointed an assistant at a school in Wombourne, South Staffordshire. On 22 September 1913 the school log book records Rowley calling “to say Good Bye before leaving for Durham Training College”. He would return to Rugeley in 1914 to complete “a period of observation” during which he taught arithmetic, reading and comprehension.

While at Bede College, in common with all his cohort, he joined “B” Company of the Durham Light Infantry’s 8th Battalion under Imperial Service Conditions. At that time this Territorial Force was intended for home defense and did not allow for soldiers to be sent overseas against their will, however, any man could volunteer for the Imperial Service Section and serve abroad in times of war.

Rowley was sent to France with the Bede contingent in April 1915 where he survived the fighting in Ypres despite being posted as missing for five days. He rose through the ranks to sergeant before being sent to an officer training battalion and being commissioned second lieutenant on 28 November 1917, although this wasn’t gazetted until June, two months after he died.

An article in The Bede magazine published in March 1916 describes the village of La Crèche in Picardy, on the France Belgium border, as “a mud lake with mud heaps all around it”, but despite that, it represented a small piece of civilization to men from the front. It was in La Crèche that the writer found Albert Rowley running a battlefield canteen selling cakes, chocolate, tinned fruit, sausages, cigarettes and other items vital for maintaining moral. Perhaps this meeting prompted the concert and reunion of men from Bede College in Poperinge reported that same month.

The April 1918 edition of The Bede magazine reports Rowley was among a group of former students who visited Durham that month, but he was back in France by 14 April, posted this time to 22 D.L.I. Albert was killed only days later in action in Picardy as he led his men into an attack on 26 April 1918. Wilfred Miles in his Durham Forces in the Field (1920) records that 22 D.L.I. and the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment were tasked that day to clear out and re-take the village of Villers-Bretonneux, and at the end of the engagement they had together captured over 400 prisoners and several machine guns.

He is buried in the Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Bretonneux. His sacrifice is commemorated on the war memorial and roll of honour at Colton that stands at the end of Martlin Lane in which his parents were living at the time of his death. He is also remembered on Rugeley Grammar School war memorial (photo), at St George’s Drill Hall, Sandyford Road in Jesmond on a memorial that is said to have originally hung in Hutton Terrace Territorial Army Centre in Sandyford, and on the 1914-1918 Bede College cross, plaque, and roll of honour. His 1914-1915 Star, Victory, and 1914-1918 War medals are now owned by his sister’s grandson.

Both Rowley’s elder brothers became police officers and his younger sister, Kate, married a police sergeant. Reginald served in the Coldstream Guards and survived the war.

Additional sources: the image of Bert Rowley is provided by Debbie Rowley, grand-daughter of Bert's elder brother Reginald (Reg) Louis Rowley.
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Debbie Rowley, Judith Vincent.

13 May 1918

Image of the Labour Corps cap badge

Labour Corps cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Bates

Born 24 February 1895 in West Lynn, near King's Lynn, Bates was the son of William Bates, a railway signalman and his wife Sarah Ann. William was a pupil at West Lynn School and later won a scholarship to the King Edward VII Grammar School in King’s Lynn. He again won an entrance scholarship to St Chad’s Hostel, Hooton Pagnell in 1915. When the hostel closed he moved to Durham to continue his studies and was the JCR Treasurer of St Chad’s College for the Easter term of 1916. He had previously applied for a commission in the Artists Rifles in February 1916, but was rejected due to his weak eyesight. He successfully signed up with the Durham Light Infantry as a private and joined the D.L.I. Depot at Newcastle in May of that year. In June 1917 Bates was later transferred to the Labour Corps still as a private in 471 (Home Service) Employment Company. He applied for a commission again and was admitted to the Garrison Officer Cadet Battalion, Jesus College, Cambridge. He was subsequently commissioned into the Labour Corps in December 1917. In March 1918 he went to France, where he was posted to Labour Corps Base Depot at Boulogne. In April 1918 he was posted to 101 Company, Labour Corps. On 13 May 1918 William Bates was gassed and died of his wounds at No. 2 British Red Cross Hospital in Rouen. His company had been involved in laying communication lines near Foncquevillers and was caught by heavy German gas shelling. The company sustained heavy casualties, in fact the heaviest losses of the Labour Corps in the war. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, and commemorated on a memorial window at All Saints’ Church, South Lynn, on King Edward's School war memorial in King's Lynn, on West Lynn’s war memorial at St Peter’s Church, and on the 1914-1918 reredos in St Chad’s College chapel.

Additional sources: Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Research contributors: Gordon Allinson, David Barton, Nick Barton, Joyce Malcolm.

27 May 1918

Image of the Cheshire Regiment cap badge

The Cheshire Regiment cap badge

Second Lieutenant Frank Cotterill Dale

Frank Dale was born in the last quarter of 1891, the eldest of two sons of Frank Dale, a farmer, and his wife Anne Maria (née Eardley). The family farmed at Mawbern Hall in Adlington, Cheshire, and Frank Dale junior attended local schools. He matriculated as an Unattached student at Durham University to study Theology in 1915, and was probably attending a theological college in his home region associated with the the University of Durham. Dale passed his first public examination in Theology in the Easter term of 1915, but the war prevented him from completing his degree.

Frank Dale was commissioned from an Officer Cadet Unit into the 4th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, on 28 March 1917. He was reported wounded on 20 August 1917, by which date he had transferred to the 13th Battalion. The battalion was then part of 74th Brigade, 25th Division, and was engaged in a phase of the Battle of Passchendaele. He was transferred to a hospital in England, and died of his wounds nine months later at the John Leigh Memorial Hospital at Woodbourne, Brooklands, Cheshire on 27 May 1918. He is buried at St Peter’s Church, Prestbury. His sacrifice is commemorated on war memorials at St John’s Church in Aldington, and St Peter’s Church in Prestbury.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of the Cheshire Regiment is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributor: Pat Atkinson.
Image of Chaplain G.B.H. Bishop (Ref: UND/F1/FZ12)

Chaplain G.B.H. Bishop (Ref: UND/F1/FZ12)

George Bernard Hamilton Bishop

George Bishop was born in 1884 to Joseph Lynch Bishop, an engineer, and Mary Ann Bishop (née Hamilton) in Neyland, Pembroke, Wales. Unfortunately, his father died when he was only an infant. Mary Ann subsequently married William Henry Darch, a timber merchant’s foreman in 1891 and later worked as a tmekeeper for Gloucester Corporation. From the age of four, George Bishop was brought up by William Darch and Mary in Gloucester, first in Archibald Street and latterly in Tredworth Road, along with his stepsister, Ethel Mary Darch (five years his junior). In the 1901 census Bishop, aged 16, is recorded as a Pupil Teacher and by the 1911 census, he is listed as a student with a view to taking Holy Orders. At this time, both his mother and sister were school-mistresses.

George Bishop’s early education was at King’s School, Gloucester, and Culham College, Oxford. Before entering St Chad’s Hall at Durham in 1910 with the intention of qualifying for a position in the church, his preparation included a period at St Chad’s Hostel, at Hooton Pagnell, starting in the Michaelmas term of 1908. He won the Capel Cure prize whilst at St Chad’s Hall: this was presented to a second year student for the best (written) sermon in the Epiphany term: an early indication, perhaps, of his later literary prowess.

Bishop was connected to The Stag, the magazine of St Chad’s Hall and Hostel from 1908 when he was described as a Committee Member, and 1909 when he was sub-editor. During 1912, he contributed articles to The Stag entitled “Extracts from a Russian Diary. June – November 1911” (The Stag, series 2, vol. 3, nos 1-3, Epiphany to Michaelmas Terms 1912), extracts which he subsequently worked up into a series of articles for the Scottish Chronicle and then into a publication of his own, The Religion of Russia. A Study of the Orthodox Church in Russia from the point of view of the Church of England (Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1915). This was followed by Tales of Muscovy and the Ukraine (Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1916), The Barbarian. A Tale of the Russian Front(Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1916), and Sacerdos in aeternum (Society of SS. Peter & Paul, 1916).

Whilst at St Chad’s he was a keen rower and witnessed a tragic accident in rough weather on the Wear, when the cox of the St Chad’s Graduate boat lost his life. Soon after the start of the race the boat was seen to take on water and the watchers recognised that some of the rowers were in distress. Bishop was ashore, acting as coach, at the time and was credited with helping to save the life of another crew member who despite being a non-swimmer had left the boat in an effort to reach the bank. The unfortunate accident resulted in a University ruling that all rowers should be competent swimmers.

The Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) was another of George Bishop’s interests whilst in Durham and he was a member of the guard of honour provided for the coronation of George V in 1911. In this he was continuing a family military tradition, for his maternal grandfather Joseph Hamilton served in the 2nd Life Guards and was a Chelsea Pensioner from 1882; he was born in 1814 in Dublin at the Windsor Cavalry Barracks.

Although 1911 had started badly with the rowing accident in February, it eventually led to a momentous period for George Bishop. He achieved his B.A. (Theology) later that year, was ordained deacon and appointed curate of St Mary the Virgin, Kettering. He was ordained priest in 1912 by the Bishop of Peterborough and became vicar of St Mary, Plaistow in 1913. This was the year of his marriage to Dorothy Maud Evans at Christ Church, London and in 1914, he was appointed Vicar of St James, Cardington, in Shropshire.

The Reverend Bishop had volunteered early in the war but only finally joined in July 1917. As he explained to his parishioners in the parish newsletter, “[i]t is only lawful for a clergyman to fight when the situation is desperate. He can, of course, at once join the Army Medical Corps or go as an army chaplain if he can find anybody to do his work. I have tried to do so, but have not succeeded.”

It would appear that in 1917 his efforts were rewarded. His final signature in the Cardington parish registers was in January and finally, on 5 July 1917, he was appointed Army Chaplain (4th Class), attached to the 6th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers and posted to France. Only a few short months later, in May 1918, he was killed on the battlefield at Concevreux, during an artillery bombardment of the trenches which lasted about ten hours. This was the opening move of the Third Battle of the Aisne, when the German forces launched a large attack and carried the Chemin des Dames ridge.

Chaplain George Bishop’s death is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial (Aisne), and his sacrifice is also remembered on the war memorials of King’s School, Gloucester and at Cardington, Shropshire, on the Aldershot Memorial, on the reredos in St Chad’s College Chapel, and on the Durham University Roll of Service.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Andrew Cattermole, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

9 July 1918

Chaplain Arthur Percival Hatfield

Arthur Percival Hatfield was born on 28 September 1890 in York, the fifth son of the Reverend Thomas Shiers Hatfield and his wife Frances Mary Hatfield. He matriculated at Durham University in Michaelmas term of 1909 as a member of Hatfield Hall, and was awarded a B.A. in Arts (Mathematical and Physical Sciences) two years later on 21 June 1911, having satisfied examiners with a 4th class. He achieved a second B.A. degree a year later, this time Theological Honours, also 4th class.

Whilst at university, Arthur was highly involved in extra-curricular activities. Notably, he was Senior Man of Hatfield Hall, while studying for his second degree in 1911-12, as well as captain of the college’s Rugby Football Club, the first captain of the Hockey Club and a Fives player. He was also Hatfield’s representative for the Durham Union of Students, and an active member of the college’s Debating Society.

After leaving Durham, Arthur was ordained a deacon in 1913 and subsequently appointed to St Peter’s Church in Nottinghamshire. During Advent of 1914 he was ordained a priest at Southwell, and a year later, on 14 April 1915, he married Caroline Hilda Ross at Inverness Cathedral.

Arthur was gazetted Chaplain to the Forces on 27 February 1916, initially attached to the Manchester Regiment. He travelled widely during his military career, serving with the Salonika Army on the Struma Front in August 1916 before proceeding to Egypt and Palestine in September 1917 with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. In June 1918, he briefly served with the Indian Army in Mesopotamia. During a debate in his university days, he had objected that the “engines of war become more terrible as time goes on. Do we realise that they are meant to destroy our fellow creatures?” But it was to one of the most ancient features of war that he fell victim to: his death, at Amarah on 9 July 1918 was due to malarial fever, contracted while on active service. It has been estimated that 1.5 million soldiers were infected with the malaria parasites during the conflict, with a 0.2 to 5% fatality rate: the major epidemics occurred in Macedonia, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Italy, in three of which theatres Hatfield served within a three year period. He is buried in Amara Military Cemetery, and his name is included on the memorial to the Royal Army Chaplains' Department on the Royal Garrison Church of All Saints in Aldershot, as well as on plaques displayed in his church of St Peter in Nottingham and in the chapel of Hatfield College.

Additional sources: lecture by Prof. Francis Cos D.Sc., ‘The First World War: Disease, the only victor’, Museum of London, 10 March 2014; ‘Malaria’s contribution to World War One – the unexpected adversary’ by Bernard J. Brabin, Malaria Journal, 2014, 13: 497.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm; Emma Marshall.

19 July 1918

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Lieutenant William Herbert Brown

William Herbert Brown was born on 16 May 1885 in Tudhoe near Spennymoor, County Durham. He was the fourth child of six born to Richard Brown, a clerk in an iron works, and Elizabeth Jane (née Rees), and the eldest of two boys. He attended Bede College 1904-1906, and after gaining his teaching certificate he took up a post at Eden Community School in Murton, lodging with the Thompson family at Woods Terrace Murton. Shortly after 1911 he married Hilda, and moved to Elvet in Durham City. His last recorded teaching position was at New Brancepeth Council School.

A few months after the outbreak of war he joined the newly formed 18 D.L.I. (a ‘Pals’ regiment) and was sent to train at Cocken Hall near Durham City. His letters home to the college magazine The Bede were often published and give a detailed account of the lives of the regiment in these early days. After inauguration the battalion was sent to defend the port of Hartlepool, and six of the men were killed when three German warships bombarded the port area in a surprise raid on 16 December 1914: the same raid claimed the life of Thomas Minks.

The battalion was sent to Egypt in December 1915, by which time William had been promoted to Corporal. His letters home to The Bede describe quite an eventful journey through the Mediterranean, where their troopship was harassed by German U-boats and even collided with a French troopship (albeit empty of troops), sinking it with the loss of two of its crewmen. The battalion remained in Egypt to defend the Suez Canal from possible Turkish attacks, but in March 1916 was transferred to France in readiness for the planned summer offensives. By now William held the rank of Sergeant.

18 D.L.I. was involved in the first attacks on the German forces around the River Somme on 1 July 1916, attacking positions at the village of Serre. This is where William was seriously wounded, requiring he be sent home to Britain to convalesce. Little is known of William’s recovery period, but by October 1916 he was back with his regiment and had received a commission as Second Lieutenant. The regiment was still serving at this time in France and Flanders. William remained with 18 D.L.I. through 1917 and the ‘fighting retreat’ of the April 1918 German offensives, but on 18 July 1918, whilst taking a leading part in a minor counter-attack near La Plate
Becque, France, he was mortally wounded. The battalion’s war diary records he was “badly wounded, missing presumed dead”, and he has no known grave.

William Brown’s sacrifice is commemorated on the war memorial at Ploegsteert, Belgium. He is also remembered on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Research contributors: Ian Bowman, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

20 July 1918

Image of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) cap badge

Captain Kenneth Walton Grigson

Kenneth Walton Grigson, the second of the seven sons of Canon William Shuckforth Grigson, vicar of Pelynt near Looe in Cornwall and his third wife Mary Beatrice Boldero, was born on 29 June 1895. He was a pupil of Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham in 1911 and matriculated in 1913 with a foundation scholarship in Theology, to enter St Chad’s Hall at Durham University.

Grigson had already enlisted in the 7th (Cyclist) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment but studied for three terms for a B.A. degree and gained a 4th Class pass in the first public examination in Arts, Classical and General Literature at the end of the Easter term 1914. Meanwhile he had joined the University Officers’ Training Corps, the demands of which were intensive enough, including six parades and three training sessions a week, that it is perhaps not surprising that he left little other trace upon the university’s records than his full attendance at lectures and chapel.

By the autumn of 1914 the 7th Devons were helping to defend the coast north of Scarborough into Northumberland. In November the battalion witnessed the sinking of hospital ship S.S. “Rohilla” with the loss of 90 lives, and the Devons were able to help some of the survivors. In December they also witnessed the German naval bombardment of Hartlepool, when 127 civilians were killed.

The 7th Battalion was a reserve unit which did not serve overseas, but after being promoted from corporal to second lieutenant in March 1915, and to lieutenant in June 1916, Grigson was attached to the 2/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) and went to France with them in January 1917 as part of the 62nd (2nd West Riding) division, part of the Third Army. The Divisional Ammunition Column sailed from Avonmouth for Rouen on 30 December 1916; the rest crossed from Southampton to Le Havre from 5 January 1917 and by 18 January concentration was completed in the Third Army area between the Rivers Canche and Authie. The Division then remained on the Western Front in France and Flanders for the rest of the war.

Grigson was gazetted as acting captain on 16 July 1917, and awarded the Military Cross in the Birthday Honours list of June 1918. The ribbon was presented to him at a ceremony in the field on 21 June 1918.

Kenneth Walton Grigson was killed during the fighting of the Second Battle of the Marne 20 July 1918 and is buried at Marfaux. He is remembered on a touching memorial in the church at Pelynt, Cornwall, recording that five other sons of the canon were killed serving for their country: Second Lieutenant Lionel Grigson on 9 May 1917, R.A.F. Cadet Claude Grigson (of pneumonia) on 15 October 1918, Captain Aubrey Grigson in Burma on 27 April 1942, and Air Commodore John Grigson at Bulawayo, Rhodesia (in a flying accident) on 3 July 1943. A seventh son, Wilfred Grigson, died on government service in an air crash India in 1948. Kenneth Grigson’s youngest brother was Geoffrey Grigson, a writer and poet who, on his brother John’s advice to “keep out of it”, never joined the services. His autobiography The Crest on the Silver (Cresset Press, 1950) is a rich source of the family’s history. Kenneth Grigson’s sacrifice is also commemorated on the Pelynt war memorial, a reredos and a roll of honour at the chapel of St Chad’s College, and on Durham University’s roll of service (1920).

Additional sources: short history of the 1/7th and 2/7th (Cyclist) Battalions (Territorial Force), The Devonshire Regiment, and excerpts from The Crest on the Silver on the website of the Keep Military Museum, Dorchester; Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102; The Crest on the Silver (Cresset Press, 1950) by Geoffrey Grigson; presentation of military cross and death recorded in the war diary of the 2/5th West Yorkshire Regiment (TNA WO 95/3081/1-6).
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Barton, Nick Barton, Joyce Malcolm, Kathryn Stevens.

24 August 1918

Image of Captain Frederick Cecil Longden ((Ref: UND/F1/FK1908/1)

Captain Frederick Cecil Longden (Ref: UND/F1/FK1908/1)

Captain Frederick Cecil Longden

Frederick Cecil Longden was born in Durham in 1888, the youngest of eight children of James Appleby Longden and his wife Annie Walker Longden of Ashcroft, Sunderland. He was educated at Bow School, Durham, and (following five of his brothers) from 1901 to 1907 at Durham School before attending University College from 1907 to 1910 as an Arts student, being awarded a Leaving Exhibition Scholarship and winning a Senior Classical Scholarship; he would also be a Foundation Scholar in 1909/10.

During his time at the University, he participated in a large array of sports and societies. By his final year, he had been president of the University Boat Club, captain of the University College Boat Club, captain of the Rugby Football Club and University College Rugby Football Club (he received his palatinates for Rugby in 1910), president of the Durham Union Society, president of University College Union, he was also a representative of the Hockey Club, Football Club, and DUSCR, and a member of the University College Fives and Cricket Club! Longden also found time to serve as a correspondent and brief editor of the Durham University Journal, where he wrote on Colonel W.D. Lowe, of University College, as well as his college’s Boat Club. Longden was also a member of the O.T.C., eventually being promoted to Major and receiving both Certificate ‘A’ and ‘B’ as well as the prize for ‘most efficient Sergeant’ and the ‘Cochrane’ Challenge Cup. He rowed stroke for his college and University, winning the Senate Cup in 1909 and helping Durham beat the Edinburgh Varsity for the first time. Despite his constant participation in societies and clubs, he received a number of scholarships (Admission Scholarship, 1907; School Scholar, 1907-1910; Foundation Scholar, 1909-10) and gained Class II results for his first and final year exams. His many achievements warranted his appearance in the student magazine The Sphinx, as a ‘Man of Mark’ in December 1909. This article showed Longden to enjoy ‘a Rag’ as he reminisced on playing jokes on the pupils of the Girl’s High School and also highlights his athletic prowess. He is featured several other times in The Sphynx and is noted for his perpetual tardiness under the nickname, ‘H.S. Slowboy’.

In 1913, Longden was articled to his brother, J.M. Longden, at their father’s law firm, Longden, Mann & Longden of Sunderland. He passed the Solicitor’s Final Examination in 1913. During this time, he was a member of the Sunderland Rugby Football Club and was in the First XV in the season before the war. A keen supporter of the Boy Scout movement, he also served as the first Honorary Secretary of the Durham County Branch of the Boy Scouts Association.

In 1914, he was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. He was made Captain in June 1916. While he was attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers on the Somme he was severely wounded during an attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. After recovering in England he returned to the front with the 15th Battalion of the D.L.I. He was killed on 28 August 1918 leading an attack at Miraumont on the Ancre. His chaplain described his actions during this battle:

“Dawn, just beginning to break, showed our men that they were practically surrounded by the enemy, who poured in a galling fire from the front and flanks. Seeing that, Capt. Longden led his company forward in the most gallant manner possible, leading his men by a good 40 or 50 yards and inspiring them to advance by his coolness and bravery. His voice could be heard from the other parts of the field, shouting out: ‘Come on the Durhams.’ He was almost on top of the enemy when he was hit in the head by a machine-gun bullet, which killed him instantaneously. … But his gallantry, and that of some other officers, was not in vain.”

Quoted in Sunderland in the Great War by Clive Dunn and Gillian Dunn (Pen & Sword, 2014)

Obituaries were published in the Durham University Journal (Vol. XXII, no. 1, Dec. 1918)and the Yorkshire Post. Frederick Longden is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in the Durham School Chapel, and on a plaque in St Margaret’s Church in Durham. Four of Longden’s brothers also fought in the war, Ernest (Major, Mentioned in Despatches), James (Temp. Lt. Col.), Alfred (Major, D.S.O, 1918), and Arthur (Temp. Army Chaplain, twice Mentioned in Despatches, M.C.). Major Ernest Longden, a Boer War veteran, died from an illness contracted on active duty three days before his brother Frederick.

Additional sources: The War Record of Dunelmians, 1914-1919 (Sunderland, 1919); Sunderland in the Great War by Clive Dunn and Gillian Dunn (Pen & Sword, 2014).
Research contributors: Fiona Dattan, Joyce Malcolm

5 September 1918

Image of the East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge

The East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge

Private Edward Ellis

The eldest of four children, Edward Ellis was born in Scotland in 1889 to Thomas Ellis and Ellen, née Farr. In 1891 the family settled in Hebburn, County Durham where Thomas worked as an angle ironsmith, and then a boilersmith, possibly at the shipyard. Nothing is known about Edward’s early education but in 1908 he went to Bede College to train as a schoolmaster.

While at the college he was a member of the rowing club, taking part in the Durham Regatta as cox in the Mayor’s Plate and Lady Herschel races. In The Bede magazine (June 1909, p.22) it is reported, “Clough’s crew rowed splendidly but their chances were spoiled by cox (Ellis) taking them a bad course after Bath Bridge”. At Bede, Ellis spent two years attached to the D.L.I.: from 1875 onwards students at the College were expected to join its Volunteer Rifle Company. In 1908 this was re-organized into the Territorial Force of the 8th Battalion D.L.I., which had traditionally been made up of volunteers. Along with members of college staff, they undertook volunteer and territorial training, attended an annual camp and took part in drills during their two-year teacher training course.

In The Bede (June 1910, p.12) he is listed under “Senior Cribs” i.e. leavers, having completed his teacher training.

It is known that in 1915 he was the Schoolmaster on the Training Ship “Wellesley” on the Tyne. This was a “reformative” school for boys without family or with criminal involvement, established in 1868. The ship itself had been destroyed by fire in March 1914 and the school transferred to the Tynemouth Palace, while keeping its original nautical name.

On 27 December 1915, in Auckland, County Durham, Ellis married Lily Gornall of Hunwick, daughter of Henry Gornall, a colliery mechanical engineer, and his wife Elizabeth. Edward and Lily’s daughter, Marjorie, was born on 5 March 1917. (After Edward’s death, Lily married Arthur Sanderson in 1922).

On 9 December 1915, a few weeks prior to his marriage, Edward had enlisted in the Army Reserve in North Shields. He was mobilized in April 1917 and posted to the 4th Reserve Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He was made Lance Corporal in August 1917, reverting to Private on embarkation in March 1918. He arrived in “F” Depot, B.E.F. on 31 March having been transferred to the 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion was part of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division, which had been serving on the Western Front since November 1915. In April 1918, the 64th Brigade was involved in the Battle of the Lys, defending the Wytschaete – Messines – Kemmel Ridge. The 1st Battalion, “A” Company, to which Ellis had been posted, held the exposed and dangerous right front in the line north of Wytschaete. Very intensive attacks drove back the Allied forces, inflicting heavy casualties, with the German Army retaking much of previously lost ground.

While there is no indication as to where or when Edward Ellis was severely wounded, it is possible that it occurred during the above engagement. He was transferred to the Northumberland War Hospital in Gosforth, being admitted on 2 May 1918 with severe injuries to his face, including his right eye missing, with the socket swollen and septic. Over a period of four months spent in hospital, he seemed to begin to recover but suddenly died on the evening of 5 September 1918. Edward Ellis is buried in Hebburn Cemetery.

Additional sources: the image of the East Yorkshire Regiment cap badge is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributor: Alisoun Roberts.

18 September 1918

Image of the Devonshire Regiment cap badge

Devonshire Regiment cap badge

Second-Lieutenant Ernest Bristow Farrar

Ernest Bristow Farrar was born 7 July 1885 in Lewisham, the eldest son of Reverend and Mrs C. D. Farrar. The family moved to Micklefield in Yorkshire in 1887 where Farrar’s father was a clergyman. Farrar was educated at Leeds Grammar School between 1895 and 1903, passing his Associateship Diploma of the Royal College of Organists in 1903. In Michaelmas Term 1904 he then matriculated to Durham University, where his father and brother had also studied as members of University College, and satisfied the examiners in the First Examination for the Degree of Bachelor of Music. While he continues to be listed as an Unattached Member of the University until 1914-15, there are no further records of his study there. Probably, Farrar continued his music degree through a correspondence-type course, common at the time. However, in 1905 Farrar was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he studied composition under Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and organ under Sir Walter Parratt which may explain his lack of activity in Durham. He won a number of awards at the RCM including the Arthur Sullivan Prize for composition in 1906 and the Grove Scholarship in 1907. While studying at the RCM, Farrar became a member of the ‘Beloved Vagabonds’, a prestigious musical and social club of influential young musical figures including the composer Frank Bridge and the musicologist Marion Scott. Farrar engaged in a relationship with Scott who was 9 years his senior, which continued even after he left the college in 1909 to take up a 6 month post as organist of All Saints English Church in Dresden and then at St Hilda’s Church in South Shields between 1910 and 1912. The relationship culminated in an awkward encounter when Scott arrived in South Shields to perform a piece that Farrar had written for her, only to discover that he had become engaged to someone else. The two never spoke again.

Farrar married Olive Mason of South Shields in 1912, with Ernest Bullock, future organist of Westminster Abbey and fellow Durham alumnus, as his best man. Incidentally, Olive was great friends with Elinor Brent-Dyer, author of the Chalet School series, who regularly mentioned Farrar’s song ‘Brittany’ in her books. In 1912, Farrar gained a more prestigious appointment as organist and choirmaster at Christ Church, Harrogate where he also taught students including, most notably, Gerald Finzi. Furthermore, Farrar was recognised as one of the most promising young British composers with orchestral works performed across the country and the critic of the Daily Telegraph asking in 1917 why more of Farrar’s music was not heard in London. The reputation of Farrar as an organist can be gathered from his correspondence with important figures such as Ralph Vaughan Williams who wrote to Farrar upon his appointment at South Shields:

“I suppose I must congratulate you on your appointment – I certainly congratulate them – but it’s a beastly job being organist and unless one is very careful lowers one’s moral tone (not to speak of one’s musical) horribly. ”

Ralph Vaughan Williams writing to Farrar, 1910. Quoted by Robert Weedon in his short biography of Farrar (www.warcomposers.co.uk).

However, Farrar’s musical career dwindled when he joined the Grenadier Guards in 1916 as a private and was later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to the Devonshire Regiment in February 1918. He continued composing and performing right up until his deployment, personally conducting the first performance of his major orchestral piece, Heroic Elegy (For Soldiers) in Harrogate on 3 July 1918. Moreover, his last composition, a set of choral Preludes, was accepted by a London publisher on the very morning he left for the front. Farrar was killed on 18 September 1918 aged 33 after only ten days action and only two days with his unit. He was hit by machine gun fire during the Battle of Épehy in the Somme Valley “while gallantly leading his men in a successful attack on a German position, during which the battalion gained 3,000 yards and took many prisoners.” Major-General Eric S. Gridwood wrote that he was “a magnificent example to all of courage and devotion to duty, and was beloved by all ranks of his battalion.”

In the musical world, Robert Weedon has suggested that Farrar’s death went “almost unnoticed” compared to his contemporaries due to a fatigue at so many men having already been killed. However, an obituary for Farrar in The Musical Times suggests that he was highly regarded, describing him as displaying “creative gifts of a high order”, especially praising his setting of the ‘The Blessed Damozel’ by Rossetti, which is “remarkably successful in conveying the mystical atmosphere of Rossetti’s poem. … He was a musician of the highest ideals, and was devoted to the art he served so faithfully. His many friends and admirers sincerely mourn his loss.” Indeed, those close to Farrar were greatly aggrieved by his death, with his teacher Sir Charles Villiers Stanford writing in the Durham University Journal that “Farrar was one of my most loyal and devoted pupils. He was very shy, but full of poetry, and I always thought very high things of him as a composer, and lamented his loss both personally and artistically.” Moreover, composer Julian Clifford wrote and performed a tone-poem called ‘Lights Out’ in Farrar’s memory with the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra, and Frank Bridge dedicated his Piano Sonata to Farrar. There was also a concerted effort to continue publishing Farrar’s work posthumously, especially by Dan Godfrey who secured the publication of English Pastoral Impressions among other pieces (see Durham University Journal, vol. 22, nos 6, 9-10). Moreover, a number of Farrar’s works were included in a concert held at Aeolian Hall featuring songs and poems by men who fought in memory of those who fell (The Times, 31 October 1919, p.10: subscription resource).

By his family, Farrar was remembered in a Requiem Mass said at Micklefield, his father’s parish, on 29 September 1918. His parents also set up the Farrar Prize for composition at the RCM which included luminaries such as Benjamin Britten among its later recipients. Farrar is listed on the war memorial in St Mary the Virgin Cemetery, Micklefield, and on the war memorial at South Shields. He is buried just outside the churchyard wall in Ronssoy Communal Cemetery Extension in the Somme, in a corner under a few trees.

Additional sources: Roll of Honour of the Grammar School at Leeds; biography of Farrar published on warcomposers.co.uk Robert Weedon; obituary published in the Musical Times (vol. 59, no. 909, 1 November 1919, p.503); wikipedia biography; obituary published in the Durham University Journal (vol. 22, no. 1, December 1918, p.30); post-war concert review, The Times, 31 Oct 1919: subscription resource).
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Naomi Warin.
Image of the Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Stephen Robinson Bright

Stephen Robinson Bright was born in late 1877, the third of four children of John Bright, a colliery storeman, and his wife Jane. They were then living in Easington Lane in Hetton le Hole but would move to Gale Street in South Hetton by 1891.

Bright attended Bede College 1900-02. He married Caroline Eliza Lamsdale on 11 September 1904 and by 1911 they had four children, three boys and a girl. In 1911 Stephen Bright was working as an elementary school teacher at Westoe County School and living at 164 Mowbray Road, South Shields.

By June 1916 Bright had joined the Royal Medical Corps 17th Field Ambulance as a private, which was attached to the 6th Division. His death is recorded to have occurred on 18 September 1918 when the 6th Division, part of IX Corps, took part in the Battle of Épehy, a general attack on St Quentin. This attack ended with the capture of ‘The Quadrilateral’ on the 25 September 1918, but on 18 September Bright along with Major H. B. German, Lt.-Col. R.T. Collins, Major the Reverend J. Fitzgibbons and ten men of other ranks from his unit were all killed when their Advanced Dressing Station was shelled. They are all buried at Trefcon British Cemetery, Caulaincourt.

Bright’s death is recorded at the Church of St Michael & All Angels in South Shields in the Book of Remembrance and on a reredos and panels. He is also remembered in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920), and in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: A Short History of the 6th Division, Aug. 1914-March 1919, edited by Major-Gen. T.O. Marsden (Hugh Rees, 1920).
Research contributors: Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Colleen Stansfield, Michael Stansfield.

27 September 1918

Image of Lt. George B. Sibbit (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Lt. George B. Sibbit (Ref: E/HB 2/696)

Lieutenant George Bertrand Sibbit

George Bertrand Sibbit was the third child born to Thomas and Janet Sibbit, of Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Thomas Sibbit snr was a certificated teacher when his second son, George Bertrand, arrived in December 1890, and as his family grew, the father’s career blossomed until, by 1911, he was employed as headmaster of an elementary school in Newcastle. George Bertrand, probably known as ‘Bert’, and his elder brother Henry, attended Chillingham Road Boys’ Secondary School and Rutherford College for Boys (later Rutherford Grammar School). Both men also followed their father’s example by training as teachers.

Henry Sibbit trained at Armstrong College, and then taught at West Jesmond County School. George Bertrand attended Bede College in Durham between 1911 and 1913. He completed his training there in July 1913, passing the certificate examination and achieving a distinction in Mathematics.

On leaving Bede College, he was appointed to the staff of St Paul’s C. of E. School in Elswick, Newcastle. He taught there until October 1914, when he joined the colours, serving in the first instance with the 18th Battalion (Tyneside Scottish) Northumberland Fusiliers, where he quickly rose to the rank of sergeant.

The Bede magazine reported the careers of many alumni, and it duly reports that George Sibbit was wounded in July 1916. Later he is reported to be serving with his brother’s battalion, the 22nd (3rd Tyneside Scottish), and so may well have been near La Boisselle on the first day of the Somme offensive when Henry Sibbit was killed in action serving with the 22nd (3rd Tyneside Scottish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, one of 20 officers and 628 other ranks lost on that day by this unit alone. From the other ranks 324 were wounded between 1 and 3 July and George Bertrand Sibbit may well have been among these. The 22nd was so weakened by losses that it was amalgamated with the 23rd Bn and on the 4 July moved into billets where they spent the rest of July. George Sibbit seemed to have been treated for his wounds in England and remained there for several months.

The London Gazette reports that Sibbit was commissioned in January 1917, transferring from a service battalion in June 1918, and the following month he was promoted to temporary lieutenant. This preceded his return to France in August 1918 and his transfer to the 1st Battalion on 8 September 1918. This battalion was involved in an overnight operation on 26/27 September at Havrincourt, when he was one of four officers killed in action.

His sacrifice is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial near Arras. He is also remembered on the Bede College Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. The memorial plaque of Chillingham Road Senior Boys’ School in Heaton bears the names of both Henry and Bert Sibbit, as do memorials at Rutherford College (now at Tyne & Wear Archives), St Paul’s Day School in Elswick (in St Paul’s Church, now closed), St Gabriel’s Church (and roll of honour), the Conservative Club in Heaton (now in St Silas’ Church, Byker), a roll of honour formerly at St Paul’s Church, Havelock Place in Elswick, and a plaque at the West End Constitutional Club (now the Bentinck Sports and Social Club).

Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Ashley Somogyi, Pauline Walden.

29 September 1918

Image of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry cap badge

Second Lieutenant William Charles Herbert Ernest Stott

William Charles Herbert Ernest Stott was born 14 January 1879 to Frederick William Stott and Eliza Alice Stott of 39 Pleasant St, Sowerby Bridge. His father is recorded in censuses as first a mechanic and later a farmer. The third of four children, Stott was baptised on 13 April 1879, but little more has been found about his early life. He had left home by the time of the 1901 census, when he was boarding with the Rowell family in Heaton, West Yorkshire, and working as a grocer. By 1902 he had returned to Sowerby Bridge, where he continued in this profession and where, on 1 January 1902, aged 22, he married Agnes Louisa Smith, 24, at the Church of St Luke in Massingham, Bradford. The couple moved to 8 Town Hall St, Sowerby Bridge, where they were listed in the 1911 census with no children.

In the Easter term of 1916, at the age of 37, Stott matriculated to Durham University as an unattached member, studying Theology. He is not listed as having sat any exams, and it appears that he soon abandoned his studies to join the army, receiving a commission to the 51st King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry). Serving with this regiment in France, Stott was killed in action on 29 September 1918. His grave is found at Lowrie Cemetery, Havrincourt, Pas de Calais, with the inscription chosen by his wife: ‘I Know That My Redeemer Liveth’.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Felix Syms.

30 September 1918

Image of Chaplain Cecil Alfred Mallett (Auckland War Memorial Museum / Mike Battersby)

Chaplain Cecil Alfred Mallett

Chaplain Cecil Alfred Mallett

Cecil Alfred Mallett was born on 27 November 1880 in Marylebone, London. He was the second of five children to Alfred, a printer and later a journalist, and his wife Emma. By 1901 the family were living in Hampstead and Cecil, aged 20, was working as an insurance clerk. During his early twenties, Mallett emigrated to New Zealand where he lived for several years before returning to England to study. He graduated from St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, a missionary college, in 1908, and in 1910 he achieved a first class in his preliminary examinations for studying Theology at Durham. Mallett undertook his studies at the university in the Epiphany and Easter terms of 1910 and as an ‘unattached’ student was not a member of any college. He gained satisfactory results in his final examinations and received his ordination on 18 December 1910 from the Bishop of Rochester at a service in which Mallett acted as the gospeller.

For the next two years Cecil Mallett worked as the vicar for the parish of Aylesford in Kent, before embarking for New Zealand again on 26 October 1912. He worked for two years as a missionary in the mining town of Ohura on the North Island and briefly returned to England in September 1914 to marry May Parkinson of Crayford, Kent. By 1915 he was the vicar of Morrinsville in the diocese of Auckland, a small farming town further north of Ohura. On 27 April of that year, Mallett was appointed to the New Zealand Chaplains Department as a captain in the 6th Haruki Regiment. He remained in Morrinsville until 7 November 1917 when he was personally recommended by the Bishop of Wellington to replace Reverend Guy Bryan-Brown, a New Zealand chaplain lately killed in action in France. Having been classified as fit for active service, Mallett, now aged 37, disembarked from Wellington with the 32nd Reinforcements on 21 November aboard the R.M.S. “Tahiti”.

Shortly after arriving in Liverpool on 8 January 1918 Mallett spent a week in a military hospital where he was admitted with measles. During his time in England he was described by a superior as having “been indefatigable in looking after the welfare and general entertainment of the Troops”. He left for France on 14 June, being deployed near Etaples. At around 3 a.m. on 30 September 1918, a fire broke out in a dental hut where Mallett was sleeping. An unidentifiable body was recovered from the site and was presumed to be that of the Reverend Mallett as he had been the only occupant of the hut and could not be found anywhere else in the camp. An inquest took place resulting in a verdict of ‘accidental death’. Mallett is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery and is also remembered on a plaque in St Matthew’s church, Morrinsville.

Research contributors: Anabel Farrell, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of Lt. Basil C.Q. Norman (Ref: UND/F1/FG1912/1)

Lt. Basil C.Q. Norman (Ref: UND/F1/FG1912/1)

Lieutenant Basil Chamberlin Qu’Appelle Norman

Basil Chamberlin Qu’Appelle Norman was born on 6 August 1888 to Denham R. Norman, the Rector of Stafford, and his wife, Elizabeth, the second youngest of their five children. He attended Wynyard School in Watford as a boarder and in 1903 went to Marlborough College. He left the college in 1908 and in the 1911 census, aged 22 years, he was described as a theological student and living in the Chaplain’s House, St John’s Hospital, Lichfield where his father was Master. He had entered the University of Durham in the Epiphany Term 1911 as an unattached student, passing the first year Theology examination the same term and gained his Licentiate in Theology in Michaelmas 1911. In Epiphany 1912 he joined University College studying as an Arts student (in litteris antiquis), and in Michaelmas 1912 he satisfied the examiners in Parts I and II and was awarded his degree on 12 December 1912. He played rugby and tennis for his college.

The Durham University Journal reports in March 1916 that Norman initially joined the 2nd Public Schools Battalion as a private. However, by December 1915 he was with the North Staffordshire Regiment, 4th Battalion, confirmed as a Second Lieutenant after probation. He served in France and Belgium from 1916 and is reported to have been wounded in 1916 and 1917. In February 1918 the battalion joined the 105th Brigade, 35th London Division which served on the Western Front from January 1916 to the end of the war.

In September 1918 the commander of the Second Army, General Herbert Plumer, allocated a principal role in the line to the 35th Division, XIX Corps, during the Fifth Battle of Ypres. Maintaining the relentless offensive momentum, the attack in Flanders aimed initially at expelling the enemy from the Houthulst Forest and regaining the vital high ground of the Passchendaele and Ypres Ridges. To the right of Belgian forces, British Second Army occupied a 16-mile front running from just north of Ypres to the River Lys, west of Armentières in the south; Plumer allocated his two most northerly Corps, the II and XIX, for the principal roles in the assault, south of the Ypres-Zonnebeke road.

British infantry assembled in heavy rain on 27 September and attacked behind a fierce protective artillery barrage before light at 5.20 a.m. the following morning. Despite the difficult ground much rapid progress was made: 9th (Scottish) Division advanced past Westhoek and on to Anzac Ridge; the 29th Division pushed towards Gheluvelt and 14th Division overran ‘The Bluff’. Meanwhile the right of Second Army (X and XV Corps) offered flank protection (artillery support and aggressive patrols) before moving against Wijtschate and Messines. By evening a six mile advance had been made. Belgian attacks met with similar success.

Allied assaults continued on 29 September but torrential rainstorms slowed forward movement. Continuing poor weather and the arrival of German reserves brought the first phase of the Flanders operation to a close on 2 October. By then the Germans were much occupied with stemming the British tide further south, following the breaking of the St Quentin Canal defences of the Hindenburg Line by Fourth Army’s attack on 29 September.

Basil Chamberlin Qu’Appelle Norman died of wounds received in battle at Zandvoorde on 30 September 1918. He is buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium. There is a memorial to him and his brother, Aubrey, who was killed at sea in 1917, in the churchyard at Holy Trinity Church, Berkswich, Staffordshire, and his name is on the Wall of Remembrance in Vlamertinghe Cemetery. His sacrifice is also commemorated in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920).

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

3 October 1918

Image of Hatfield Hall Trial Fours crew, 1913 (Ref: MIA/1/211)

Hatfield Hall Trial Fours crew, 1913 (Ref: MIA/1/211)

Captain Humphrey Stuart King, M.C.

Humphrey Stuart King M.C. was the younger son of Reverend John King, M.A., Rector of Crook, Co. Durham, and Louise Maude King née Sadgrove of Stockton-on-Tees, and the nephew of the Rev. James King of St Mary’s, Berwick. Both his father and uncle were graduates of Durham University. Humphrey King was born at Crook in 1892. His siblings were Monica, Frederick William (d. 1903), Maude Sadgrove, Reginald John L’Ecuyer, Isobel Eleonie, Millicent Louise and Helena.

In the 1911 census King is recorded as a student and resident at Darlington Grammar School, known as the Philip Wood Grammar School in recognition of its then inspirational headmaster. (The School became known as the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and is now a Sixth Form College.) Following his father and his elder brother Reginald (B.A., 1910) he became a student at Durham University, matriculating in the Epiphany term of 1912. Like his brother he was a member of Hatfield Hall and features in a photograph of Hatfield Hall Trial Fours crew, rowing on the River Wear near Baths Bridge in 1913 (MIA 1/211: centre figure). He graduated with a B.A. (in litteris antiquis) in June 1914, and intended to go on to obtain a Licentiate in Theology in order to pursue a career in the church, like his father, uncle and brother, but the war intervened.

King joined the Army in September the same year, joining the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was commissioned a temporary second lieutenant in May 1915, serving then with the same battalion before being posted in March 1916 to join the 2nd Battalion in France but which was then immediately deployed to Salonika as part of the 84th Brigade, 28th Division, XVI Corps of British Salonika Force. In June 1917, while in Salonika, the publication of his award of military cross in the London Gazette states that he still then held the rank of temporary second lieutenant. He had been appointed temporary lieutenant in July 1916, and was promoted to captain after winning his medal.

Humphrey Stuart King remained with the 2nd Battalion for the remainder of his military career. Initially on arrival in Greece, King, alongside the remainder of the battalion, spent two and a half months engaged in building access roads from Salonika (now Thessaloniki) to Likovan (now Xylopoli). The battalion moved to the Dojran front before becoming part of the Divisional Reserve in August 1916. The 2nd Battalion’s records do not provide any detail as to how King won his military cross, and so by the timing of the award we can only surmise that King was involved in the action on the Struma front in September and October 1916 when the 2nd Battalion was involved in a serious engagement against the Bulgarian Army. As Brigadier H. R. Sandilands notes in his preface to The Fifth in the Great War (1938), “There are to be found in the London Gazette many notable actions by members of the Fifth during the period 1914-18 of which, owing to no indication being given of the exact occasions on which they were performed, I have been unable to include in a general narrative.”

The 2nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, sailed from the port of Itea, on board the French Transport Ship “Odessa” bound for Taranto, Italy, on 26 June 1918. This ended King’s tour of duty with the Salonika Force. The battalion travelled via Ancona, Bologna, and the Gulf of Genoa to Ventimiglia before crossing the border into France. The train travelled along the French Riviera to Marseilles, through the Rhone valley to Lyons, Nevers and the outskirts of Paris before reaching its final destination at Forge-les-Eaux, just fifteen miles south of Dieppe. The Battalion there became part of the 50th Northumbrian Division.

For the first time since 1916, Captain King was able to enjoy a brief spell of home leave. Whilst on leave, Humphrey Stuart King and Josephine Wheatley were married at St Mary’s Church, Willington-on-Tyne, on 11 July 1918. The best man at the wedding was the Rev. Ernest Thompson, a graduate from St John’s College, Durham University, and a contemporary of Humphrey King. After a brief honeymoon visit to Ilkley in Yorkshire they set up home at “The View” in Marsden, South Shields. Josephine’s father was a clerk at Whitburn Colliery, which was owned by the Harton Coal Company Limited.

The 2nd Battalion’s war diary records that King re-joined his unit in France on 27 July 1918 (TNA WO 95/2836/1). Captain King was killed in action at Le Catelet on 3 October 1918. He was commanding “B” Company in what would be a successful attack on Prospect Hill, east of Gouy and Le Catelet, part of an operation in the Battle of St Quentin Canal (one of the battles of the Hindenburg Line). He is buried at Bellicourt British Cemetery, Aisne, in France.

In November 1918, a memorial service was held in the Parish Church of Crook, at which the Bishop of Durham delivered a striking tribute (Newcastle Chronicle report of 7 November 1918). A memorial window was installed to his memory by the family in Saint Andrew’s Church, Marsden, in 1921 (demolished in 1961). Captain King’s sacrifice is also commemorated in the Northumberland Fusiliers’ book of remembrance (formerly in Newcastle Cathedral and now at the regimental museum in Alnwick), on a plaque and in a book of remembrance at St Peter’s Church, Wallsend, on a plaque in the chapel of Hatfield College, on a plaque at the former Darlington Grammar School (now the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College), and in the Durham University Roll of Service (1920). King’s brother the Rev. Reginald John L’Ecuyer King served during the war and survived.

Additional sources: Tynemouth World War I Commemoration Project; The Fifth in the Great War. A history of the 1st and 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers 1914-1918 by Brigadier H.R. Sandilands, C.M.G., D.S.O. (G.W. Grigg & Son, 1938); Under the Devils Eye, Britain’s Forgotten Army at Salonika 1915-1918 by Alan Wakefield and Simon Moody (Sutton, 2004).
Research contributors: Tim Brown, Andrew Cattermole, Joyce Malcolm.
Image of the Sherwood Foresters cap badge

The Sherwood Foresters cap badge

6 October 1918

Lieutenant Kenneth Salwey Howard

Kenneth Salwey Howard and his twin sister Kathleen Philippa were born at Bushbury, Wolverhampton on 14 December 1879. Their father Edward was a coal, brick and tile merchant, the son of a vicar, and his wife Laura Harriet née Salwey came also from a clerical family. They had three daughters and four sons of whom Kenneth was the youngest. In 1881 the three brothers were with their maternal grandparents and a staff of four. Two nursemaids, a housemaid, and a cook looked after the parents, 3-year-old Elinor and the twins.

In 1891 Kenneth, aged 11, was a boarder at Wolverhampton Grammar School and in 1907 he matriculated and came to Durham University where he was a Non-Collegiate student, a member of St Cuthbert’s Society. He played cricket, not very successfully, and rowed in the Grey Cup competition. He also spoke in debates at the Union, though a report in the Durham University Journal (vol. XVIII no. 11) was less than complementary: in a debate in which Howard proposed that ‘The secular system is the only solution of the present education problem’ (defeated by 29 votes to 5) his speeches were described as “clever but never really grasped the subject” and containing “some more false quantities and epigrams”.

He continued to debate and held various offices in St Cuthbert’s and the Union. In the summer of 1908 he passed his first year Arts examinations in arithmetic and logic, though there is no attendance record for the following Michaelmas term. He did attend during the Epiphany, Easter and Michaelmas terms in 1909 studying arithmetic and political economy, but there is no record of him completing his B.A.

The 1911 census finds him in Armagh where he was an Assistant Master at the Royal School. He went on to be a Superintendent of the Irish Intermediate Education Board.

In August 1914 he was serving in camp at Kempton Park, Sunbury as a private in “A” Company of the 79th Public Schools Battalion, 16th Middlesex Regiment. With the onset of war he volunteered for the Army and on 19 August 1914 applied for a commission. He was attested on 5 September 1914 and continued to serve in the Public Schools Battalion. On 17 May 1915 he was commissioned into the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment). He was gazetted a second lieutenant in 1916, then lieutenant In July 1917 and in the same month temporary captain “without pay and allowances while employed as Brigade Physical Training and bayonet training supervising officers, and remained seconded”.

On 3 September 1918 he joined the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters in the Oppy sector near Arras in France. His battalion war diary (WO 95/1721/4) reports that after scarcely a month as a lieutenant with “D” Company he was mortally wounded by a sniper during action on the Rouveroy-Fresnes line near Oppy during the Second Battle of Arras. “In a fierce fight the counter attack was repulsed but Captain Kenneth Salway Howard was killed.” He is buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery.

Kenneth Howard’s brother Henry served with the Army Service Corps and survived, Arthur Edward his eldest brother served with the Canadian forces, and Cecil was ordained, served as a missionary in the Soloman Islands and then as a parish priest in New Zealand during the war.

Additional sources: 2008 DNW auction record for Howard’s medals; Visiting the Fallen. Arras North, by Peter Hughes (Pen & Sword Military, 2015).
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson.

8 October 1918

Image of the Royal Fusiliers cap badge

The Royal Fusiliers cap badge

Private Alfred James Carruthers

Alfred James Carruthers was born 15 June 1878, the fourth of six children - five sons and one daughter - of John Carruthers, a shoemaker, and his wife Margaret (née Bowman), of Chester-le-Street. The family lived first at 59 Front Street and later moved to Cookson Terrace in the town. At the time of the 1891 census, aged 13, Alfred was already a pupil teacher, and he gained his professional teaching qualification at Bede College, attending between 1897 and 1899. He went on to teach in an elementary school in Middlesbrough, boarding first at 87 Grange Road, two doors down from the local workhouse cottage homes for children, then after his marriage living at 26 Wellesley Road. In September 1910 he married Jane Ellen Hobson of Middlesbrough, and they had three children, Margaret, John Hobson and Robert Alfred.

It was while he was working as an elementary school teacher in Middlesbrough that he enlisted in the 23rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. During the war he served in the 26th then 23rd Royal Fusiliers with distinction. He won the Military Medal for bravery under heavy fire in directing stretcher bearers to positions of wounded men, the award being gazetted in December 1917.

Carruthers died on 8 October 1918, aged 41, as a result of wounds sustained during the Battle of Cambrai, and is buried in Delsaux Farm Cemetery at Beugny to the south-west of Cambrai on the road to Bapaume. His sacrifice is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, but not for some reason on the college’s Plaque and Roll of Honour. He is also remembered on the 1914-1918 plaque inside St Mary & St Cuthbert parish church, Chester-le-Street, and on the war memorial within the church grounds; and on the Middlesbrough war memorial.

Research contributors: Clive Bowery, Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

11 October 1918

Image of the North Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

North Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

Chaplain Frederick Walter Cleveland

Frederick Walter Cleveland was born at 2 Coburg Place, Bayswater in London, on 29 January 1888. He was the youngest child of Samuel George Cleveland, a carpenter, and Eliza (née Lashmar), and his brothers and sisters were named George, Herbert, Eleanor and Constance.

In November 1892 Eliza was admitted to Greenwich Workhouse and on 24 December was transferred to Cane Hill Pauper Asylum. An Eliza Cleveland of the right age died at Bridge in Kent in 1916. In the 1911 census Samuel Cleveland is listed as married to Ada Jane (née Chapman), who in 1891 had been the family’s servant, and recorded as having been married for 22 years with four surviving children. A fifth eldest daughter named Hilda Annie, aged 20, may have been the last child of Samuel and Eliza. Frederick was living with an aunt in Hornsey in 1901 and was at Lichfield Theological College in 1911, but two of his siblings, Eleanor and Herbert, were still living with their father and Ada in Woolwich in 1901, but had both moved on by 1911. George Cleveland joined the Royal Navy and Herbert Cleveland the Army in 1904 and the girls subsequently married. Samuel Cleveland died in the Greenwich Union Infirmary in June 1911.

Frederick was baptised on 15 March 1904 at St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich at the age of 16 and became a student of theology at Lichfield Theological College in 1909. He is reported to have previously studied at Mirfield Theological College a anglo catholic establishment with a commitment to community action. Lichfield Theological College was associated with Durham University, and its students could become unattached students and sit examinations. Frederick Cleveland satisfied the examiners in December 1911 to gain a Licentiate in Theology. He was ordained deacon in 1911 at Stafford and served at Christchurch, Tunstall, Stoke on Trent. From 1913 to 1916, after ordination as a priest, he was Senior Curate at St Andrew’s Porthill, charged with the mission district of St Wulfstan, Longbridge Hayes where he was also Chaplain to the Scout Troop.

Cleveland was appointed Temporary Chaplain to the Forces on 23 May 1916 and joined the 6th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment in France in November. He was mentioned in despatches at some point, and won a military cross on 29 September 1918 (gazetted 8 March 1919), at a time when he should have been home on leave but which he had offered to a fellow chaplain. The citation reads:

During the taking of the St. Quentin Canal, on 29th September, 1918, and later, during the advance on Doons Hill, he rendered invaluable assistance. He was with the second wave, and dressed a number of bad cases, and as soon as the first objective was reached, he assisted back to the aid post large numbers of men. He was wounded by shell fire in the back on the 4th October. He showed great gallantry and devotion to duty.” London Gazette, Supplement 31583, p. 12280, 4 October 1919.

In fact his military records state that his wound was caused by gunfire. He died from his wounds at No. 2 British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen, on 11 October 1918, and he is buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension. His last address was 56 Lausanne Road, Hornsey, Middlesex, and his estate was administered by his sister Constance Hannell. His sacrifice is commemorated on memorials formerly at St Wulfstan’s church, Longbridge Hayes (tablets and roll of honour) and now in St Barnabas Church in Bradwell, at St Andrew’s Church, Porthill (tablet and window), at Margate, at Aldershot, and on Durham University’s Roll of Service (1910).

Frederick’s brother Herbert Oscar enlisted in the 1st Battallion of the Royal West Kent Regiment in August 1904 and served as a private until February 1919. He died in 1976. George the eldest served with the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy and died in Halifax Nova Scotia in 1917 when a munitions ship was involved in a collision to cause the largest man made explosion before Hiroshima.

Additional sources: obituary published by the 1st Porthill Scouts Group; Greater love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922, by Rev. David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007).
Research contributors: Gordon Allinson, Pat Atkinson, Joyce Malcolm.

15 October 1918

Image of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge

Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge

Sergeant Wilson Brown

Wilson Brown was born 22 December 1896 in Wooler, Northumberland. He was the son of Thomas Purvis Brown, then a furniture joiner, and Isabel, both Northumbrians, born in Woodhorn and Bedlington respectively. This marriage was Thomas Brown’s second; a half-brother, William James Brown, having been born in 1890. The two brothers are both remembered on their father’s gravestone.

As a young child, Wilson Brown had spent some time in Wales, where his father was a foreman joiner at the Royal Show Yard in Llandaff, but by 1903, he and his mother had returned to Wooler where his sister, Rosalind, was born. By 1911, Mrs Brown was looking after her two children alone at Ingleside, Wooler.

When he was aged 19, Wilson Brown joined Bede College as a trainee teacher, attending from 1915 to 1917. On leaving the College, he enlisted in the Army at Alnwick. First he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, before then transferring to the 1/4th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment where he attained the rank of sergeant.

Little can be found about Wilson Brown’s service. At some stage he was awarded the Military Medal. This decoration was awarded for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire so we can be confident that he saw action in the field. His short obituary in The Bede magazine (Vol. XV, no. 1, December 1918, p.2) notes that “he had been serving for a considerable time at the front”.

He survived until well into the Hundred Days Offensive, the final period of the war. The Allies launched a series of actions on the Western Front between August and November 1918, which forced the retreating German Army beyond the Hindenberg line and was eventually followed by an armistice on 11 November. Sergeant Brown met his end on 15 October and it is likely he was taking part in one of the battles in this final offensive when he received his wounds. His battalion was fighting north of Rieux-en-Cambrésis in the days leading up to 15 October.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he died of wounds and was interred at Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, having initially been buried as an unknown sergeant. His mother arranged a headstone with the inscription “In loving memory of a dearly loved son. Faithful unto death.”

Sergeant Brown’s sacrifice is remembered on the Bede College Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour. In Wooler, his name appears on the Memorial Cross, and on the reredos at St Mary’s church, together with the Wooler Church School 1914-1918 plaque which is now housed in the church. In Alnwick the Grammar School plaque records a “Brown, W.” (no rank or medals are specified): it is possible Brown attended this school.

Research contributors: David Butler, Helen Hudson, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

18 October 1918

Image of the Cheshire Regiment cap badge

The Cheshire Regiment cap badge

Private Albert Charles Amsler

Albert Charles Amsler was born around 1886 in Besançon, France; the son of Auguste and Annie G. Amsler. By the time of the 1891 census, the family was living in Walthamstow, North London, where Auguste Amsler was a merchant’s clerk. Five-year-old Albert was listed, along with his father, as a French citizen. Another son, Arthur, was born to the family about 1896 and by 1901 they were living in Lewisham: Albert is then described as a student. The 1911 census has all four members of the family living at Pearfield Road, Forest Hill, which was to remain their home for many years. Albert, now a 25-year-old bachelor, was registered as a Professor of Music, though the college is not specified. As an unattached member of Durham University Albert Amsler matriculated in the Michaelmas term of 1912, but did not gain a degree.

Amsler enlisted in the Army on 24 July 1917 at Camberwell, London, and was posted to 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. The descriptive report which accompanies the enlistment paperwork describes him as 6 feet in height, weighing 165 lbs and with a chest measurement of 40” expanding by 3”. He was medically classified as B1.

In October 1917 the 8th Battalion of the Cheshires was posted to India as part of the India Expeditionary Force, leaving Devonport on 8 October. The journey must have included a stop-over in South Africa, since on the morning of 19 November 1917 Private Amsler failed to return to Congella Camp in Durban, when he was due to leave for India. He consequently missed the steamer, H.M.T. “Empress of Britain”. He was under arrest until 20 December when he was tried for desertion by the D.C.M. at Durban. He was sentenced to undergo detention for 1 year: the sentence was confirmed by the Base Commander on 21 December 1917.

He subsequently left for India on 7 January 1918, disembarked at Bombay on 23 January and was admitted to the Calabar War Hospital on the same day. During the spring and summer of 1918 he was continually admitted to and discharged from hospital, with a fracture to the left tibia, occasional diarrhoea, and an injury to his lower shins which required a splint. On 7 August 1918 he was again admitted to hospital suffering from diarrhoea and was still there on 13 August when influenza was diagnosed. In September he was transferred from the Hislop War Hospital to the Section Hospital where he was under observation for mental trauma. His health seems to have deteriorated over a long period and on 18 October 1918 he died at Secunderabad of influenza, aged 32.

Albert Amsler is buried in Bolarum Cavalry Barracks Cemetery, India, and commemorated in several locations: Durham University’s roll of service (1920); the First World War war memorial, in Forest Hill, Lewisham, and the 1914-1918 war memorial at Madras.

Additional sources: the image of the cap badge of the Cheshire Regiment is by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: Linda MacDonald, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

23 October 1918

Image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge

Lance Corporal George Robert Henderson

George Robert Henderson was the eldest of three children born to George Henderson, a life assurance agent, and his wife Jane Ann. They lived in Cowpen and then Bebside in Northumberland, where George attended Blyth County Secondary School (from which, 88 out of 160 servicemen were killed during the coming conflict). According to the 1911 census George’s father was then a colliery weighman, and George junior was a pupil teacher in a local elementary school.

In 1913, George enrolled at Bede College, but while the 73rd Annual report (April 1914) lists George as having successfully taken the examination for the Archbishops’ Certificate, it also reports that he was by then already serving with 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry.

It was expected that students enrolling at the college would join the Bede Company in the 8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, a volunteer battalion. Along with members of college staff, they would undergo volunteer and territorial training, attending annual camps and taking part in drills. George Henderson’s regimental number for the volunteer brigade was 2326. The ‘Bede Boys’ formed “A” company of 8 D.L.I., and their commanding officer at this time was Captain Frank Harvey, a staff member at Bede College.

At some time during the next three years, George Henderson transferred to 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. The Bede magazine listed George Henderson in its June 1916 the Roll of Honour, reporting that he had joined the 2/5th Lincolns with nine of his fellow students.

The battalion’s war diary for the week leading up to George’s death records that, the battalion was being held in reserve and had been practising advance guard, and later in the day on the Sunday afternoon, there had been a football match final between C Company and 62nd T.M.B., the Lincolnshire men winning 3 – 0. Two days later, on the 22 October, the battalion moved forward to the Inchy area, preparatory to an attack on the following morning when they advanced on an enemy position north east of Neuvilly route Inchy-Neuvilly-Ambrival. On the morning of 23 October the battalion halted on a sunken road at 04:30 for breakfast, and which they enjoyed with only a little shelling while the brigade attacked in order to gain line east of Ovillers to gain crossing over the Harpies River to allow the advance to be continued.

“05.45 Companies moved up to assembly positions in valley East of AMERVAL. D Company on right, A Company on left, B Company in right support, C Company in left support. Battalion Head-Quarters moved up in centre behind C Company.

07.30 D Company moved off in order to reach line held by 64th Brigade by 08.40 hrs, and then the other companies moving up behind, at a distance of 200 yards. This was done so as to avoid left Company having to pass through village. As soon as this was complete the battalion advanced on a 2 Company frontage. A Considerable amount of shelling was encountered coming chiefly from right flank, but machine gun fire was not so heavy as usual. When the battalion started advancing there was a very heavy mist which considerably interfered with the direction and consequently D company in moving forward moved too much to their right and overlapped the 33rd Division front.

10.00 The mist rose a good deal and this enabled direction to be re-established. The advance continued under considerable machine gun fire and heavy shelling was encountered on the high ground about road running NW and SE in F8.g and F9.a and c.

14:00 Battalion Head-Quarters was established at F13 G4.3.

15:00 The general line F2.d.73 - F9 centred was made good and orders were issued for the two supporting Companies B and C to go through D and A Companies and continue the advance.

16.00 This advance was countermanded as hostile shelling became very heavy and the enemy made a small counter-attack. Situating on the flanks was also obscure.

17.00 The Companies withdrew and consolidated for the night on the road running NW and SE in F8.b and F9.a and c.”

War Diary of 2/5th Lincolnshire Regiment, 23 October 1918 (WO 95/2154/2)

The war diary records on this day that one officer was killed and four officers wounded. 28 were killed among the other ranks, with 132 wounded and 13 soldiers missing.

Lance Corporal Henderson is buried at the Selridge British Cemetery, Montay, France. A short obituary for Henderson was published in The Bede magazine in December 1918 (vol XV, no. 1, p.2). He is also commemorated on a plaque formerly at Blyth County Secondary School (now at Blyth Academy), the war memorial in Ridley Park, Blyth, the Bebside Colliery war memorial (formerly at Bebside Primitive Methodist Church and now at St Mary’s Church, Horton Road), and on the Bede College 1914-1918 Cross, Plaque, and Roll of Honour.

Additional sources: image of the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Research contributors: David Butler, Enid Hoseason, Joyce Malcolm.

8 November 1918

Image of the North Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

North Staffordshire Regiment cap badge

Chaplain John James Wallace

John James Wallace was the eldest son of John Lishman Wallace, a superintendent with Trinity House, and Mary Ann Wallace, née Beavis. He was born in Ramsgate, Kent on 30 July 1879, subsequently moving to London where he and his three siblings lived with their maternal grandparents. In 1901 he was living with his maiden aunts in Acton employed as a warehouseman. In 1907 he was awarded the Theological Associateship of King’s College (A.K.C.) (First Class) from Kings College, London, following a three-year course of study. This was the equivalent of a B.A. pass degree in Theology. He was made a deacon in 1907 and ordained a priest in 1908.

In the Epiphany term of 1908 he joined the University of Durham as an unattached student, passing his first year Theology examination satisfactorily the same term. He passed the final examination for a Licentiate in Theology in the Easter term 1909, the degree being conferred on 25 September 1909. It is recorded in Crockfords that, during his time at Durham Wallace was curate at St Bartholomew’s Church, Marsden, Huddersfield (1907- 1909). In 1909 he became curate at the church of St Mary Magdalene, Outwood, Wakefield where he served until 1917.

In 1917 he was appointed temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class (a rank equivalent to Captain), attached to the 8th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. From the middle of 1915 until the last days of the War, the Regiment was heavily involved in the fighting on the Western Front. The 8th Battalion took part during 1917 in the battles of Messines, Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle, and Passchendaele.

On 7 February 1918 the battalion transferred to the 56th Brigade of the 19th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front. During 1918 it took part in the battles of St Quentin, Bapaume, Messines, Bailleul, Kemmel Ridge, the Aisne, the Selle and the Sambre.

John James Wallace died of wounds in a hospital on 8 November 1918, three days before the end of the war. It is recorded in the Durham University Journal (vol. XXII, no. 2, p.75) Roll of Honour that he was killed whilst helping a wounded soldier. He is buried in Awoingt British Cemetery, near Cambrai, Nord, France. He is also remembered on the memorial to the Royal Army Chaplains Department on the east wall of the Royal Garrison Church of All Saints, in Aldershot, Hampshire, on the war memorial in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Outwood, Wakefield, and on the war memorial of King’s College, London.

Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Alisoun Roberts.

20 November 1918

Image of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Chaplain Charles Thomas Claude Jefferys

Charles Jefferys was born on 23 August 1880, the son of Charles and Mary Ann Jefferys, at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. His mother died shortly after his birth, leaving his father to raise him and his two elder sisters. The family’s roots were in Melksham, Wiltshire and Barnstaple, Devon; both parents came from families of Quakers.

When Charles Jefferys junior was born his father was a grocer in Laugharne. There were two older siblings, Charlotte Mary and Florence Lily. As a widower, Charles senior appears to have relied on his parents to help with childcare; in 1881 his parents were also living in Laugharne in lodgings in King Street. The family later moved to Tenby, after which move Charles married Adeline Davolls, a younger sister of Mary Ann Davolls.

During his formative years, Charles Jefferys junior was a pupil at St Andrew’s School, Tenby. His father was by then conducting a taxidermy business in the High Street of the town, and indulging in his passion for ornithology. Several letters and articles on local natural history written by Charles senior appear in the Tenby Observer and South Wales Daily News as well as The Zoologist journal. Charles Jefferys junior went on to Ellesmere College, Shropshire, to continue his education as a boarder from 1893 until 1896.

Following this public school, Jefferys became an Assistant Schoolmaster at Pokesdown, Christchurch, Hampshire. In 1904 he became a student at Durham University as a member of St Chad’s Hall. An active member of St Chad’s Hall Debating Society, he was President of the Society in 1906. During his time at university he took an active part in several debates, across a wide range of topics during the 1905/06 debating programme; such debates had also been a strong part of his schooling at Ellesmere College. In 1905 the topics included “That the execution of King Charles I was unjustifiable”, “The increasing power of the Democracy is a serious menace to the Country’s welfare”, and “That a barbarian is happier than a civilised man”. On 31 October 1906 he spoke against the motion “That the House of Lords is antiquated and ought to be abolished”, but in contrast, on 14 November he proposed the motion “That enforced military service is desirable in the highest interests of this Country”.

He was a keen sportsman and in 1905 was made captain of the St Chad’s Hall Cricket team and represented the Hall in Durham University’s Cricket Club; in the same year he also served as secretary for the St Chad’s Hall Tennis and Ruby Clubs, and as each club’s representative on the university’s Tennis and Rugby Club Committees.

Following graduation with a Licentiate in Theology in 1906, Jefferys’ ordination by the Bishop of Llandaff was announced in The Times on 25 December 1906. He was appointed as a Curate of St Mary’s Church, Monmouth, where he served from 1906 until 1910. In 1910 he moved to St Mary the Virgin, Micheldever with East Stratton where he stayed until 1912.

On 2 January 1908 in the Parish Church of Tetbury, Charles Jefferys, then of 3 Rock Crescent, Monmouth, married Eva Pride, of Spencer House, Tetbury, the daughter of the late George Pride, a former estate agent. The service was conducted by Charles Reece, the Vicar of Monmouth, and witnessed by Charles and Adeline Jeffery, Ada Pride, and Sidney Lee. The couple would go on to have two sons, George Marcus, born in 1909 and Charles Aiden, born in 1911.

Jefferys was appointed to the Church of All Saints, Mile End New Town, London in 1916, but on 23 May 1916 he was gazetted as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces, and was deployed to France on 24 May 1916. Following two years’ of service as a Chaplain to the Forces he returned to England, only to succumb in the influenza epidemic, dying of pneumonia on 20 November 1918 in Chelsea, London. He was buried in St James’ Cemetery, Bath, Somerset, alongside his grand-parents. His father was then living at 15 Beaufort Place W. in the city. Jefferys’ life is commemorated in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920), on a reredos in the chapel of St Chad’s College, and in the roll of honour and war memorial at Ellesmere College.

Additional sources: issues of the Ellesmerian magazine 1913-1918.
Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm.

29 November 1918

Image of the Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Private Edwin Ernest Herbert Lough

Edwin Ernest Herbert Lough was born on 29 September 1888, the youngest son of Arthur Dudley Lough, a preacher at the Seaman’s Mission in Whitby, and his wife Mary Jane. He was brought up at Ruswarp near Whitby in Yorkshire and then Barry, Glamorgan, and in 1908 went to the London College of Divinity, St John’s Hall, at Highbury, an evangelical training college set up in 1863 for those without a university degree. He matriculated in 1910 and gained a Diploma in Theology as an unattached student at Durham University the following year. Highbury College was formally associated with Durham University at this date, which allowed its students to qualify with Durham degrees. As one would expect in these circumstances, Lough left little trace in the university’s records apart from records of his having satisfied the examiners in the Michaelmas term of 1910 and Easter term 1911. He is again recorded at Highbury as a theological student in the April 1911 census.

Edwin Lough was ordained deacon in 1911 and priest in 1912 at Bristol. He remained in the diocese of Bristol over the next six years, serving as curate in Swindon from 1911-1914, Long Ashton from 1914-1915, Bitton 1915-1916 and at St Andrew’s Chippenham from 1916-1918 when he was called up. H. Crossland the curate of the neighbouring St Paul’s Chippenham enlisted at the same time as Lough and the two curates served together. They joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (R.A.M.C.) at Trowbridge on 4 July 1918 and were at Tidworth and then at Chiseldon before being sent to the 5th Training Battalion of the R.A.M.C. at the Royal Argyll Depot, Blackpool. Together they were posted for duty to the hospital of the Prisoner of War Camp at Colsterdale, Masham, North Yorkshire on 16 November 1918, and both must have immediately contracted influenza. Edwin Lough was admitted to his own hospital as a patient on 20 November and died of pneumonia nine days later. His friend Crossland recovered.

Private Edwin Lough is buried in Chippenham (London Road) Cemetery and is commemorated on the town war memorial and a reredos in the church of St Andrew in Chippenham, his former parish. A short obituary was also published in April 1919 in the Durham University Journal (vol. XXII, no. 2, p.74).

Lough had married Marjorie McCormack on 14 September 1915 at Northwick St Thomas, near Bristol, and had two sons, David, born 30 November 1916, and Michael, born 5 December 1917. Marjorie Lough was awarded a pension of £2 6s. 1d, but did not qualify for a war gratuity because he had served less than 6 months. The family lived with Marjorie Lough’s widowed mother at Northwick, Pilning, Bristol. She never re-married, and died in Bristol in 1972.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Joyce Malcolm.

1 December 1918

Image of the Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge

Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge

Ernest Edward Johnson

Ernest Edward Johnson was born in 1885, the only son of Edward and Jane Johnson, at Heaton, near Newcastle upon Tyne. Edward Johnson was a joiner when Ernest was young, but the family left the north-east before the turn of the century, and Edward and Jane set up a small business as bakers and confectioners in Harrogate.

It seems that Ernest always intended a career in the Church and to that end joined Hatfield Hall at Durham University in 1908. He was awarded his B.A. in 1909 as well as being made a deacon at York. Whilst at university, he played both cricket and football for his college and acted as secretary of the college Fives Club. He was also a contributed to debates at the Debating Society, for example speaking against the motion “That, for the physical improvement of the race, vegetarian diet is better than animal diet” (25 March 1908).

He was appointed Curate of St Anne’s, Sheffield, in 1909, followed by the curacy of Wath-on-Dearne in 1912. In 1916, he received his M.A. and in March of that year, he was chosen to be the First Curate-in-Charge of St Luke’s, Rossington, near Doncaster. The South Yorkshire Coalfield was expanding at this time with the local colliery becoming operational in 1915. To house the Rossington Colliery community, the South Yorkshire Coalfields Extension Committee funded a new planned village of circular design. St Luke’s church was “an integral designed element”, echoing the shape of the village and situated on the innermost road. Its central position within the development would indicate that the church was intended as a focus of village life and the Rev Ernest Edward Johnson, together with his wife, Elsie, and their young family, fully endorsed that aspiration. He entered into village life enthusiastically. Together with duties at St Luke’s, he worked as a painter on buildings in the new development before taking a job in the colliery itself. The management apparently offered him a ‘soft job’ in the colliery offices but this was refused as Johnson preferred to work at the coal face. He declared his intention to work underground ‘until the Germans are beaten’ and his experience in the pit led to his nickname of the ‘Miner Parson’. At the same time, his reputation grew within the cricketing community of South Yorkshire.

Eventually, the war intervened and Johnson, who joined the Army Chaplain’s Department (which assessed him as “manly, bright, mod”), was attached to the 15th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. The unit was involved in the 100 days offensive – 8 August-11 November 1918 – and took part in the Pursuit to the Selle. In an action described as “the first open warfare since 1914”, house to house fighting took place in villages to the north of Le Cateau, where the Fusiliers were welcomed as saviours by the local French.

Having survived the privations of war until the Armistice, it is ironic that Johnson should succumb to pneumonia. The influenza epidemic was particularly deadly in Autumn 1918 – unlike typical ‘flu, it disproportionately killed young healthy adults. It seems likely that he contracted the illness, and which developed into pneumonia leading to his death on 1 December, 1918. He was buried at Le Cateau Communal Cemetery, France. A short obituary was published in the Durham University Journal (vol. XXII, no. 2, p.74). Johnson left a widow and two children, Frank (b. 1912) and Elsie (b. 1915).

Additional sources: listed buildings register for the Church of St Luke, Rossington; Museum of Army Chaplaincy First World War chaplains’ interviews index cards.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.
Image of the Young Men's Christian Association badge

Young Men's Christian Association badge

Chaplain John Lionel Bacon

The Bacon family was well settled in Hadleigh, Suffolk during the 1880’s. In 1881 William Bacon’s was a brickmaker / farmer employing 15 men and 5 boys at Friers Hall, whilst his wife was supported by two domestic servants. At this stage there was one son, aged eleven. However, family life seems to have changed somewhat after William Bacon’s death in 1890, leaving his wife, Catherine, and five younger children living at Benton Street in Hadleigh. John Lionel Bacon is described as an 8-year-old scholar. In 1901, John and his twin siblings Francis and Helen were living at St Dunstan’s Village, Acton, Middlesex, with their widowed mother. John was by then an 18-year-old shop-owner’s clerk.

Early in the new century John Bacon must have experienced a calling towards missionary work, since he ventured to further his education at the Church Missionary Society’s College in Islington, London. As this was a college associated with Durham University he could enrol there, in 1908, as an unattached student studying for a Licentiate in Theology, and in which he satisfied the first year examiners in December of that year. He went on to be awarded his L.Th. in 1909. That same year he was made a deacon in the London diocese with a view to work in the Colonies, and may well have taken up a missionary role in China at the same time. Sponsored by the Church Missionary Society (C.M.S.), he was ordained a priest in 1911, probably by Bishop Bannister who presided over the Kwangsi (Guangxi) diocese in Hunan province, China, between 1909 and 1923.

In 1911, the Reverend Bacon married Charlotte Bailey, who had travelled to Guilin to serve with the C.M.S. Medical Mission Auxiliary – she was the first certified medical practitioner to work in that district. The first child of the marriage, Aidan, was born on 24 December 1913, presumably in Guilin, and he was following by Katharine in 1917. Dr Bacon travelled on furlough to England in 1916, speaking at many C.M.S. events in various parts of the country between March and November and remaining in this country until the birth of her daughter in early 1917.

Meanwhile, in Guilin plans were underway for a hospital to cater for some of its 15,000 inhabitants. Much of the history of the mission and of the Way of Life Hospital is known from Dr Bacon’s numerous fund-raising tours to this country over her many years of widowhood in China. For instance, in one of her descriptions of the province in later years, she recalls that she learned brick-laying and building construction so that she could complete much of the building work on the Guilin hospital project herself. Her husband’s efforts to promote the church alongside the medical work were not forgotten. During her talks, Dr Bacon reminded meetings that any donations to the mission which they may have contemplated were not entirely philanthropic – “… it went out primarily as the messenger of God”.

Meanwhile, the early war years, particularly in France and Flanders, created a huge demand for Works Battalions. The Service Battalions did manual work near the front lines but the organisation of manpower was haphazard until the formation of the Labour Corps in preparation for the expected push in 1917. The need for improved transport, better camps, larger ammunition dumps, better telegraph and telephone systems, was recognised as essential and recruitment began in late 1916 for specialised units, capable of road-mending, building and all the other ancillary works necessary to maintain the high standards of the regular army.

The Chinese Labour Corps was formed in early 1917 when the British Government and the neutral Chinese Government signed an agreement that Chinese labourers were to be strictly non-combatant. Later that year Chinese labourers travelled via the Pacific to Victoria in Canada, where they were entrained to cross the country in order to board a ship for Liverpool. They then boarded one more train to Folkestone for a final voyage to France. Rev. John Bacon does not appear on a commercial sailing at this time so he possibly travelled with the men he ministered to – an arduous journey for them all. He arrived in France on 17 May, 1918.

Bacon was sponsored by the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.), which provided rest and recuperation facilities in France ranging from canteens for troops coming out of the fighting lines to reading rooms for relaxation; they even organised a hostel to enable relatives to visit dangerously ill soldiers. The Y.M.C.A. was well-established in Le Havre, having opened the first centre there in November 1914. Many other facilities were present in Le Havre including Convalescent Camps, a Rest Camp and the Army Service Corps Base Depot, as well as the Canadian Veterinary Hospital, the Australian General Base Depot. The Chinese Labour Corps headquarters was also stationed in the town.

By the end of 1917 some 50,000 Chinese workers were in France working as labourers for the British Army. By August 1918, this number had risen to 96,000, with a further 30,000 working for the French Army. These hard-working men would have needed the same facilities: rest, recuperation, and leisure facilities, as regular soldiers and the workload of a Chaplain with experience of life in and the languages of China would no doubt be heavy.

Rev. John Baker remained in France until his death from pneumonia on 1/2 December 1918. He was buried at Sainte Marie Cemetery in Le Havre.

He was survived by his wife, Dr Charlotte Bacon, their two children, Aidan and Katherine, and his mother, Mrs Catherine Bacon. His address at probate was 5 Kingsmead Close near Selly Oak, Birmingham. In Guilin, Dr Bacon continued the work she had begun with her husband until the late 1930s when Sino-Japanese hostilities broke out on the Chinese mainland.

John Bacon’s service was recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and his name appears of the University’s Roll of Honour (1920). He is also remembered on a wall plaque in St Mary's Church, Hadleigh, Suffolk.

Additional sources: Greater love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922, by Rev. David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, David T. Youngson, Pauline Walden.

14 December 1918

Image of Sergeant John Barclay (The Bede magazine, Dec. 1915)

Sergeant John Barclay (The Bede magazine, Dec. 1915)

Sergeant John Barclay

John Barclay was a Cumbrian, born and bred in Penrith. In 1891, his parents, William and Barbara Barclay, lived in Albert Terrace and later in William Street in the town where William was a watchmaker. John was their eldest son, born on 5 October 1889; two brothers Thomas (who served with the R.F.C. in the war) and Frederick followed in 1893 and 1895.

The Penrith Observer notes that John was educated at the Boys’ National School in Penrith – he later returned to this school as a pupil teacher. In 1901, Barclay received ‘First Class’ in the Diocesan Scripture examinations, and in 1902 a book prize for his results in the Scholarship examinations when he was aged 12. Penrith Grammar School was his destination in September 1905, and his own education no doubt fostered his ambition to become a teacher himself and his eventual study at Bede College. In 1909, when he took his leave of the St Andrew’s Boys’ Sunday School in Penrith he was presented with a writing case by the Superintendent and the teachers as a memento of their esteem.

Following a period of pre-training at his old school in Penrith as a pupil teacher and at Brunswick Road School as an unqualified assistant teacher, in September 1909 Barclay joined Bede College in Durham and spent two years training for the teaching profession. Upon graduating he was appointed to West Auckland Church of England School as a Certified Assistant Master. Whilst teaching in West Auckland he took an active interest in school football as well as entering into local life as a member of St Helen’s Auckland church choir. He also joined West Auckland Cricket Club and captained the local Church Lads’ Brigade.

When war was declared in 1914 John Barclay was amongst the first to volunteer. He joined 1/8th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, where he would meet many other men with a similar history to his own – the 8th being regarded as the Bede Battalion. Indeed the 1914 Bede students were at annual camp as the war declaration was made and as a body they enlisted into the 8th. The Bede magazine reported regularly on alumni and in June 1915 it noted that Private John Barclay had disembarked in France on 19/20 April and fought at Gravenstafel Ridge on 25 April during the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

In A Record of the War Service of Bede Men (1921) Major F.G. Harvey describes the Bede men’s experience of 25 April 1915. Having been transported to the front by a fleet of London buses, the battalion found itself in the thick of the chaotic action. Reading Harvey’s account, straightaway it becomes clear that the use of chlorine gas was totally unexpected, (so much so that it was not immediately recognised); that communications at the front were difficult if not impossible, and that the men’s equipment was inadequate. The then Captain Harvey remarks that he met a Canadian major as the D.L.I. men were going forward. The 8th were without machine guns, so he [the Canadian Major] left his machine gun section with them. Perhaps it was this action which influenced Barclay’s later decision to become a machine-gunner! As a first experience of front-line warfare and within five days of arriving in France the fighting at Gravenstafel Ridge must have come as a complete shock to Harvey and his men. He concludes his article with the comment that “[t]he Battalion marched up at full strength, and was reduced to less than ten officers and under four hundred men.”

In June 1916 John Barclay is reported by The Bede as still with 8th D.L.I., but he is now reported as a private in 151st Machine Gun Company (moved 1 March 1918 into 50th Battalion, C Company). The 8th Battalion saw action throughout the Battle of the Somme: being in reserve at Mametz Wood in September 1916; fighting there in late October; suffering heavy losses in the attack on the Butte de Warlencourt before again being at Mametz Wood in November. During this exceptionally wet year, official histories note that men had to pull each other out of the mud before advances could be made. Barclay himself notes in his diary on 22 February 1917 that the trenches in his sector were “waist deep in mud & water at places” (Ref: D/DLI 7/41/3).

Later reports in the Penrith Observer tell of John Barclay’s interest in the history and traditions of the towns of France and Flanders which he saw during his service. He seems to have spent nearly four years traversing the district and will have been well aware of the destruction caused but also of the beauty and landscape of the area. Three diaries of Barclay’s survive from this period (1915-1917), held today in the archives of the Durham Light Infantry: images and transcripts from his June-July 1916 and February 1917 diaries are published online by the County Record Office.

The Bede magazine in April 1918 reported that Barclay and a man named Archbold were the only two Bede men remaining with the Brigade. However, the August 1918 edition of the magazine noted Archbold had been wounded on 27 May and was now missing. “John Barclay alone remains unhurt.” Barclay was the only member of the original Bede contingent who joined 8th D.L.I. in 1914 remaining with the battalion. His eventual rank was Orderly Room Sergeant.

It seems cruelly ironic then that four years of overseas service, often under desperate conditions, should end at home in Penrith in December 1918, when Sergeant Barclay died of pneumonia, aged 29. As the war ended, the so-called Spanish ‘flu was spreading in France and John Barclay fell ill. However, he was anxious to return home on a previously planned leave and opting not to report sick he arrived in Penrith on 1 December. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated and he died on 14 December. His funeral was at Penrith St Andrew’s, where his father was a church-warden. At the request of his family it was not a military funeral, but six soldiers on home leave volunteered as bearers. He is buried in Penrith Cemetery.

His service and sacrifice are commemorated in the various towns in which he lived and worked: in his home town of Penrith, on the war memorial cross in St Andrew’s churchyard and on memorial tablets inside the church and in Castle Park; in Durham, on the Durham County Council war memorial in County Hall, and on 1914-1918 cross, plaque and roll of honour at Bede College; in West Auckland, on the village war memorial and on the roll of honour at the West Auckland Methodist chapel. The West Auckland school log book also records his death, as does the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920). At Penrith National School a photographic memorial of the 49 Old Boys and 2 masters killed in the First World War was unveiled in 1920, but is now lost.

Additional sources: a biography of Barclay by David Butler is published on the Durham at War website; Barclay’s 1915-1917 diaries are held in Durham County Record Office (D/DLI 7/41/1-3).
Research contributors: David Butler, Joyce Malcolm, Pauline Walden.

16 December 1918

Image of Gerald James Lester, June 1910 (Ref: UND/F1/FZ12)

Chaplain Gerald James Lester (Ref: UND/F1/FZ12)

Chaplain Gerald James Lester

Gerald James Lester was born 27 March 1885 in Bishop's Nymphton, Devon, son of the Rev. Edward Augustus and Mrs Mary Frideswide Lester. He studied at Durham University (1908-1910), Hatfield Hall, from which he graduated with a B.A. Degree, including subjects such as Hebrew, Arithmetic, and English History, on 13 December 1910. During his time at Durham University, he was member of Hatfield Hall Boat Club, of which he was also the Secretary in 1909.

Lester was made deacon in 1911 and ordained priest by the Bishop of Durham in 1912. He served his Title as Curate of St Thomas, Bishop Wearmouth, Sunderland until 1914, and at Cambois, Northumberland, until 1916/1917, when he was appointed Rector of Rackenford, Devon, until 1918. He married Eleanor Lester from Bath, in 1914, and they lived at 13 Rivers Street in Bath.

On 4 October 1918 Lester enlisted into the Army Chaplains' Department attd CME (Chief Mechanical Engineer) Loco Works and was appointed temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class. His assessor, Bishop Taylor Smith, at the Army Chaplains’ Department described him as “mod, very modest, good, may prove A.I. [?]”. Lester died on 16 December 1918, at the age of 33, from pneumonia, following influenza at No. 8 General Hospital, Rouen, France. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, and his name is recorded on the war memorial at his school, St John’s Leatherhead School, which he attended from 1895 to 1901. A short obituary was published in the Durham University Journal (vol. XXII, no. 2, p.74).

Additional sources: Museum of Army Chaplaincy First World War chaplains’ interviews index cards; Durham Diocesan Records collection.
Research contributors: Joyce Malcolm, Alba Menendez-Pereda.

10 February 1919

Image of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Chaplain Edward Williams Evans

Edward Williams Edwards was baptised on 2 November 1851 at Pentrefoelas in Denbighshire. His father was the Canon John Evans, Archdeacon of Merioneth.

In the 1871 census Edward appears as a medical student in London, but in 1876 he matriculated in Durham and entered University College to study for two years to gain a Licence in Theology. This L.Th. was awarded in 1878 and he was ordained deacon on 21 December 1878. He served his Title as Curate from 1878-1881 at Warden in the Tyne valley, and was ordained priest in 1879. Curacies in Matfen and Newcastle Cathedral followed and he then became Vicar of St Augustine’s Tynemouth in 1884, and of St George’s Cullercoats from 1887-1889.

In April 1887 he married Edith Rosalie Cruddas, the daughter of the Rev. George Cruddas, vicar of Warden. They had three daughters Gwendolyn, Gertude and Sina and a son Eric.

Edwards was then called south to become vicar of Maker in Cornwall in 1890, and from 1890-1896 he was also an Acting Chaplain to the Forces, a role he would return to twenty years later. By 1890 he was Rector of Beverston in Gloucestershire where he restored the church, and in 1896 he became Rector of Dringhouses, in Yorkshire. From 1901-1908 he was Rector of Goldsborough near Knaresborough.

On 12 December 1914 Edwards was appointed once again as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th class. He served with the 3rd Sherwood Foresters (Reserve) Battalion that was based first at Crownhill, Plymouth, and from May 1915 at Sunderland. At some point during his service Edwards was mentioned in despatches, though it is not yet known when. He resigned his commission in 1919 on account of ill health and died on 10 February 1919 at the age of 67. His obituary in the Church Times reported, “though well over 60 he continued to work until his health collapsed in late 1918. He was buried with full military honours”.

He is buried in Maker (SS Macra, Mary and Julian) churchyard, Cornwall, in a Commonwealth War Grave, with a note saying that he was mentioned in dispatches. He is remembered in Durham University’s roll of honour (1920) and a reredos is dedicated to members of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department at All Saints’ Royal Garrison Church at Aldershot.

Additional sources: Greater love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922, by Rev. David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Jenna Fawcett, Joyce Malcolm, David T. Youngson.

13 February 1919

Image of the Royal Artillery cap badge

Royal Artillery cap badge

Chaplain James Baird

James Baird was born in 1887 Clapham, London, the son of Alexander Purves Baird and Wilhelmina, née McLeod. Alexander Purves Baird, the son of James Baird, was born at Allanston, Berwickshire, Scotland, in 1859. He married Wilhelmina McLeod of Edinburgh. They moved to Clapham in the mid-1880s where James and a younger brother, William, were born. By 1891 the family had moved to 258 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, Middlesex, where Alexander had established a thriving bakers and confectioners business employing two shop girls. A second brother, Alexander McLeod Baird was born there. No record has been found of James’s early education. Life changed for James on 18 September 1900 when his father died, aged 42. He left a business and effects valued at £1,409. His widow continued with the business for a short time before returning to Scotland. In about 1913 she was appointed to take charge of Samuelston School in Haddington, Berwickshire, where she was to teach for the next 16 years.

Having become an Associate (2nd Class) of Kings College (1910), James enrolled at St John’s College, Durham University in 1909 to study Theology. He passed his first year Theology in Michaelmas 1910; gained his Licentiate in Theology in Easter 1911, and graduated in 1912. In April 1911, when the census was taken, James along with two other theology students was staying at 23 Belsize Square, Hampstead with Herbert Phillips Pope, warden and curate of St Peter’s church. He was awarded his M.A. at the convocation in June 1915. He was made a deacon in 1912; he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Birmingham in 1913. He served his Title at the church of St George, Birmingham, where he was senior curate. This was his last appointment before becoming a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces in 1915.

James Baird arrived in France at Boulogne on 16 November 1915. As Captain Reverend James Baird he was attached to “D” 157 Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.), and also to the 6th Canadian Field (later Stationary) Hospital, part of XIX Corps H.Q.2. He was Mentioned in Dispatches, though the circumstances are unknown. Having contracted pneumonia James Baird died, aged 33, on 13 February 1919, at the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital, St Omer France. He was buried in the Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery in France. Newspapers record that he was the elder beloved son of Mrs Baird, then living at Schoolhouse, Samuelston, Haddington, and the grandson of James Baird of Viewbank, Ayton, Berwickshire. Wilhemina Baird died in August the same year to plaudits in the (Scottish) Sunday Post.

“Haddington lady’s death. A loss to education. Haddington, Saturday. The death of Mrs. Baird, in charge of Samuelston School, closes an educational career fraught with much success and usefulness extending over sixteen years. Quite recently her younger son, Captain Rev. James Baird, a Church of England clergyman at Birmingham, died while on active service as a chaplain to the Forces in France, and his demise did much to hasten her end. His estate was granted to his younger brother, Alexander McLeod Baird, described as a farmer, resident in Canada, in Saskatoon, c/o R.H. Milliken Esq., Solicitor. 608 Canada Buildings, Saskatoon, Sask. Canada.”

Sunday Post (Scotland), 10 August 1919

His death is recorded in the Birmingham Memorial Register, held in Birmingham Hall of Memory, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920). The church of St George was demolished in the 1960s to make way for road improvements, but James Baird’s last residence at 138 Hockley Hill, Birmingham still stands.

Additional sources: Greater Love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922 by Revd David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007); the image of the cap badge of The Royal Regiment of Artillery is reproduced courtesy of the Council of the National Army Museum, London (Ref: NAM 2008-12-4-45).
Research contributors: Tim Brown, Joyce Malcolm, David T. Youngson.

19 February 1919

Image of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade cap badge

New Zealand Rifle Brigade cap badge

Rifleman Oscar Needham

Oscar Needham was born on 31 March 1889 at Worcester, one of six sons of twelve children born to William Bass and Jessie Ann Needham. William was a prosperous corn and coal merchant and by 1891 while he, Jessie and their two elder sons Edward Francis and Harry Weaver were living in Worcester running the business, the rest of the family headed by 18-year-old Jessie Roberts Needham with six of her siblings including 2-year-old Oscar Needham were living at Hill Top Farm, Martin Hussingtree, with a governess, housekeeper, nurse and farm bailiff.

In 1901 Oscar and his brother Alfred Owen were boarders at the Grammar School in Market Bosworth. He matriculated in the Michaelmas term of 1908 and then joined Hatfield Hall, Durham University for the academic year 1908-1909. He studied Euclid and Greek towards an Arts degree, and was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps and the Hatfield Choral Society. There is no record of him passing any examinations. By 1911 he was an assistant teacher at a school in York.

He sailed on the S.S. “Paparoa” in April 1913 to Wellington, New Zealand. His brother Harry Weaver had already gone there in 1897: he would serve in and survive the war, but died in 1922. Oscar was an agricultural labourer at Waitoa when he enlisted with the 4th Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 13 October 1915. His service records note that he was 6 feet 2 inches tall, with black hair and blue/grey eyes.

In February 1916 the 4th Battalion sailed for Europe, but paused for training at a camp in Suez. The Canadian Expeditionary Force had trained on Salisbury Plain and found the mud and wintry conditions a problem so the Anzac forces had set up camp in Egypt. They landed in France in April 1916.

On 28 November that year, after the New Zealand Division had taken part in the battles of Flers Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy on the Somme, Rifleman Needham received multiple severe shrapnel wounds to his chest, leg and arm. He was evacuated via Boulogne to the New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst in Hampshire. Needham was on sick leave for a month in April 1917 when it is likely he visited his family who now lived at Malvern, and then returned to Brockenhurst and then the New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch in London for nerve suture and further treatment. He sailed back to New Zealand in August 1917 on the S.S. “Marama” and was discharged with a pension in November 1917.

In October 1918 he was admitted to the Sanatorium Hospital at Rotorua in the centre of the North Island to have electrical treatment and massage (physiotherapy) for the nerve damage and paralysis of his left leg. The chest injury had healed and the arm damage was recovering. As part of his treatment he would have bathed in the thermal pools. Anyone using a geothermal pool in New Zealand nowadays is warned to not put their head under water because of the danger of amoebic meningitis. Oscar died at King George V Orthopaedic Hospital of cerebral spinal meningitis on 11 February 1919 and is buried at Rotorua Public Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Auckland Museum cenotaph, on a reredos in the Church of St Matthias at Malvern (his parents’ parish), and the Durham University Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: New Zealand Archives online First World War service records; Blog ‘100 New Zealand First World War Postcards’, by Glenn Reddiex; HealthEd website, information produced by the New Zealand Health Promotion Agency (HPA) and the Ministry of Health; diggerhistory.info.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson.

3 March 1919

Image of Chaplain Cecil Radcliffe Martyn

Chaplain Cecil Radcliffe Martyn

Chaplain Cecil Radcliffe Martyn

Cecil Radcliffe Martyn was born on 22 December 1874 at Countess Weir near Topsham, Devon. His father Henry Matthews Martyn was a prosperous master paper maker who later moved to Croydon and became a paper agent there. Cecil had three sisters, Helena, who had the same name as their mother, Hilda and Gladys, and a brother Henry. He went to Lancing College from 1889 to July 1890. He then studied for Holy Orders at Birkenhead Theological College and then at Durham University where he matriculated as an Arts student at Hatfield College in the Epiphany term of 1897.

At the university Martyn excelled at rowing. He acted as secretary of both Hatfield and the University boat clubs and as a starter. In spring 1898 he was a member of the Hatfield crew that won the Senate Cup. His B.A. was awarded in 1899.

From 1900 he was Curate of St John the Baptist at Bedwardine, Worcestershire. He was ordained deacon in 1900 and priest in 1901. On 28 August 1903 he married Christine Florence Mabel Stuart at St Saviours Paddington; they had four daughters and a son. In 1906 Martyn was Curate at Polesworth with Dordon (Worcs.). Then in 1910 he became Rector of Quinton with Warley Woods (Worcs.) for two years, and went on to be Vicar of Tamerton Folliott in Devon.

Cecil Marytn was appointed Temporary Chaplain to the Forces on 7 September 1915 with the 101st Brigade at the Southern Command Headquarters at Tidworth. In March 1916 he went out to be the Forces Chaplain in Rouen and extended his yearly service there three times. He received special mentions in General Haig’s despatches of 13 November 1916 and 8 November 1918, on one of these occasions for “good works as Assistant to the Assistant Chaplain General at this base, and for his administration of the Chaplains work in the town area". It was in February 1919 that he caught influenza and was hospitalised at No. 8 General Hospital in Rouen; he died on 3 March. Martyn is buried in the extension of St Sever Military Cemetery at Rouen. His death reportedly deeply affected everyone at the English base.

Memorials to Cecil Martyn’s sacrifice are found at Tamerton Folliott, on a reredos dedicated to members of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department at All Saints’ Royal Garrison Church at Aldershot, and on a plaque in the chapel of Hatfield College in Durham (added in 2005).

Additional sources: Lancing College war memorial obituary by John Hamblin; Quinton at War website; Greater love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922, by Rev. David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007); the image of C.R. Martyn is reproduced with the permission of Lancing College.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David T. Youngson.

6 March 1919

Image of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Chaplain David Jenkins

David Jenkins was born during 1887 at Cefn Cribbwr, Bridgend in Glamorganshire, the son of William and Margaret Jenkins, with an elder sister named Margaret Anne Jenkins. The 1901 census records his father as miner, and the 14-year old David as a grocer’s assistant; the extended family, including William Watkins, engaged to Margaret and living in the Jenkins’ household, are listed as speaking both English and Welsh.

David Jenkins graduated from St Paul’s Missionary College, Burgh-le-Marsh, Lincolnshire (also known as Burgh Theological College), in 1905. This college was formally associated with Durham University, and as its students were entitled to Durham degrees Jenkins then matriculated at Durham University in the Easter Term of 1909, studying for a Licentiate in Theology. He was at first unattached to any college, but later joined University College. He graduated on 7 December that same year.

Jenkins was made a deacon by the Bishop of Llandaff in 1910, and was ordained priest by the Bishop of St Asaph for Llandaff in 1911. He served as Curate of Newcastle with Laleston and Tythegston between 1910 and 1912, and then Curate of St Augustine’s, Penarth with Lavernock, 1912-1915, before moving to Derby as Curate of St John’s Church in the diocese of Southwark from 1915. It is likely that in this period Jenkins became a freemason, as he is listed as belonging to the Chatsworth Lodge, Derbyshire.

Following an interview with Bishop Taylor Smith, who described Jenkins as a “good sort”, he was appointed as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces on 12 February 1918, apparently serving his entire army career at Horton War Hospital in Epsom. In November 1918 he became engaged to Jane Anne Mosley, the daughter of a clergyman from Derby. However, on 6 March 1919 David Jenkins died, aged 32, at Horton War Hospital, as a result of influenza. He left £165 14s 4d to his sister Margaret Watkins, now married to William who also served as his administrator. During the thirteen months he worked at the hospital, he is described as becoming a “popular and well-liked member of staff”. Jenkins is buried at St James' churchyard in Pyle, near Bridgend, Glamorganshire. He is commemorated on a plaque in the chapel of the (former) Horton Hospital, and in Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

Additional sources: Greater Love: A directory of Chaplains of the British army, Australian, Canadian, East African, New Zealand and South African Forces and Ministers of religion who gave their lives in the period 1914-1922 by Revd David T. Youngson (Printability Publishing Ltd, 2007).
Research contributors: George Evans, Joyce Malcolm, David T. Youngson.

4 May 1919

Image of the Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Royal Army Medical Corps cap badge

Private Jack Stanley Allan

Jack Allan was born 28 December 1886 at Wallsend, Northumberland. He was the third child and eldest son of five children born to James Allan, a ships plater, originally from Aberdeen, and Elizabeth, a native of Walker. After school he worked as a physical instructor at a school in Wallsend whilst he was studying at Bede College between 1906 and 1908. There he achieved merits in History, Education, and Mathematics, and after he qualified in 1908 he took up a post at the Higher Grade School in Stockton, teaching Physical Education.

Allan also played Football at this time in the First Division of the Football League for Sunderland and Newcastle United, before being sold to West Bromwich Albion for £150 in May 1911. A 5-foot 6-inch centre-forward, he scored 9 goals in 35 appearances at the top level. He left for Nottingham Forest in June 1912 for a transfer fee of £125, but was living in Handsworth, Birmingham, by the time he joined the R.A.M.C. on 11 December 1915. Jack had married Ruth Faulds back home in Wallsend on 22 May 1915, and soon after volunteering he and his new wife moved back home to 78 The Avenue, Wallsend. Twins Colin Faulds and Dorothy Hicks were born on 19 April 1917.

There is nothing much known of his military record in the First World War, apart from his temporary service as a Lance Corporal in August 1917, and a period of service in France from May 1918 to April 1919. He was still on military service when he died of a combination of influenza and pneumonia on 4 May 1919 whilst at home on demobilization leave. Allan was buried on 6 May in Church Bank Cemetery in Wallsend. He is also commemorated on the Bede College 1914-1918 cross, plaque, and roll of honour.

Research contributors: Ian Bowman, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

17 June 1919

Image of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Royal Army Chaplains' Department cap badge

Captain the Rev. Frederick Canning Cleaver

Frederick Canning Cleaver was born on 25 August 1881 the son of Frederick William Cleaver a draper’s assistant in Sheffield and his wife Mary Jane, née Bew. After the death of his mother in 1884 Frederick William Cleaver married Fanny Moss Lowndes in 1886, and William Edward and Mary Moss completed the family.

The 1901 census finds Frederick Canning Cleaver as a commercial clerk living at home, but in 1905 he became a student at St Aidan’s Theological College, Birkenhead. As St Aidan’s College was formally associated with Durham University this entitled him to become an unattached student at Durham and take a degree there. Unattached students had no obligation to reside in Durham and Cleaver probably remained in Birkenhead. He passed his Durham first year examinations in the Michaelmas term of 1907 and his finals in the Easter term of 1908, thus obtaining his Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.).

He then served as Curate at St Steven’s Sheffield from 1905 and was ordained deacon in 1908. In January 1909 the Sheffield Independent Record published two articles about the dismissal service held by the Bishop of Sheffield on the departure of Rev. Frederick Canning Cleaver for the Gold Coast (now Ghana) as a missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in Foreign Parts (S.P.G.). He was ordained priest by Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn, Bishop of Accra in 1909. Hamlyn was himself a Durham graduate (L.Th. 1889; M.A. 1901; Hon. D.D. 1904).

In Ghana Frederick Cleaver served at Tarkwa 1908-1909, Sekondi (a rapidly developing port and railhead) 1909-1912, Accra 1912-1914, and again at Sekondi until 1916. He was invalided back home at some point, but subsequently returned to his missionary work in Ghana: passenger records reveal that he embarked on the “Karina” at Liverpool bound for West Africa on 4 November 1914, and so this voyage may mark his recovery. A brief glimpse of some of his activities there is given by a notice that was published in the Nottingham Evening Post in December 1913 about a letter he wrote to the Native Races and Liquor Traffic United Committee, complaining that a box of bibles was delayed in customs at Sekondi due to a consignment of 16,000 cases of gin taking priority.

Cleaver was appointed Temporary Chaplain to the Forces on 24 October 1916. He transferred to the R.A.F. in 1919, which necessitated his resigning his Army commission and being granted a new commission on 28 January 1919 with a relative rank of a Captain (T.C.F.). His service records note that he served with 8 Wing around York for a while, before being deployed overseas on 31 March.

Rev. Frederick Cleaver died at sea on board the Hospital Transport “Ellora” before its arrival at Basra, Iraq, on 17 June 1919. He is buried in Basra War Cemetery and commemorated on its memorial screen wall. At St Stephen’s Church, Sheffield, he is listed on the war memorial as well as on the Young Men’s Society plaque in the parish room. His address at probate was in Sheffield, at 6 Priory Road.

Additional sources: The Anglican Story in Ghana: From Mission Beginnings to Province of Ghana. From mission beginnings to Province of Ghana, by John S. Pobee (African Books Collective, 2009); Sheffield Soldiers of the Great War website.
Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, Christine McGann, Joyce Malcolm, Heather Ross.

23 June 1919

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Corporal Edwin Bell

Edwin was the youngest of the family of William and Mary Ellen Bell and was born in Sunderland in the spring of 1892. He had a brother John, a sister Sarah was a schoolmistress, and another sister Hannah became a dressmaker. They were a mining family: both the children’s grandfathers were miners, and William Bell, who was born in Kelloe, was listed as a shaftsman in the 1901 census and had worked around County Durham. Sarah and John were born in Quebec to the west of Durham city, and Hannah and Edwin were born in Sunderland.

On the 1911 census Edwin at the age of 18 was already listed as a schoolmaster at a council school, like his brother John, and in 1913 he enrolled at Bede College in order to obtain a professional teaching qualification. In the college’s annual report of 1915 he is already reported to be serving in the military.

On 7 November 1913 Bell, with the rest of his cohort at the college, joined the ‘Bede Company’ of the 8th Territorial Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and was embodied as a private into the Army on 5 August 1914. However, he did not go with them to France where many of them were killed in battle almost immediately at Gravenstafel Ridge but was transferred in May 1915 into the 23rd Provisional Battalion of the Reserve, which later became the 26th Reserve Battalion of the D.L.I. Their job was to train drafts of recruits to be sent to fight.

He was promoted to Lance Corporal and in June 1918 to Corporal with the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the D.L.I. at South Shields. While at Westgate-on-Sea with the 26th Battalion in February 1917 he became unwell and was tested for tuberculosis but the sample was clear and he returned to duty. In June 1917, February and May 1918 he was again before Medical Boards and on 10 July was admitted to hospital in South Shields with influenza. After 65 days he was transferred to a War hospital in Sunderland and eight days later on 12 September 1918 discharged to his unit.

Bell was discharged to the Reserve on 31 January 1919 with VG [very good] for military character and A2 health classification. He died of tuberculosis on 23 June 1919 in Houghton-le-Spring district.

No record of him receiving medals has been found though he would have been eligible for the War and Victory medals. He is commemorated on the war memorial at St Mary’s Church in West Rainton where his widowed mother was living at the end of the war, and on the roll of service of St Gabriel’s Church in Sunderland, and Bede College’s 1914-1918 list of men that served in the Great War. He is buried at West Rainton without a headstone.

Research contributors: Pat Atkinson, David Butler.

15 July 1919

Image of the Royal Engineers cap badge

Royal Engineers cap badge

Second Lieutenant Reginald Valpy James

Reginald Valpy James was born 5 February 1878 to Rev. George Burder James, Rector of St Philip and St Jacob, Bristol, and Ellen Eliza James, who had been born in India. He grew up in Bristol and attended Clifton College 1888-1892 where he was a keen rugby player, before moving to the Dean Close Memorial School in Cheltenham. In January 1895 he matriculated at the University of London but conducted his studies locally at the Clifton Laboratory, a private Science, Art and Technical school in Bristol. In 1896 he passed his preliminary examinations in Chemistry and Experimental Physics (The Times, 13 February 1896, p.6), but it is not known when, or if, he graduated. James later matriculated at Durham University in the Easter term of 1904, undertaking a Bachelor of Arts degree as a Non-Collegiate student. Shortly before sitting his first year examinations, in 1905, he married Katherine Norma Wadsworth, the daughter of another vicar in Bristol and the sister of J. H. Wadsworth, Lecturer in Education at Durham University. At Easter 1907 James passed Part II of his final B.A. examination, but there is no record of his having passed Part I or been awarded a degree. Nevertheless, he then went on to teach, and in 1911 was a schoolmaster at King Edward VI School in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, and living with his widowed mother. By 1914 he had returned to the Bristol area and was living in Portishead with his wife, where he continued his work as a tutor.

James was quick to volunteer with the war effort, and enlisted on 9 September 1914. He was originally assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps where he was soon promoted to the position of Corporal on 20 November. On 19 January 1915 he embarked from Southampton with the Expeditionary Force aboard the S.S. “Caledonian”, disembarking in France the following day. He was appointed to 4 Stationary Hospital at Arques in the Pas-de-Calais department near Saint-Omer, and remained there for several months until he requested to be transferred to the Royal Engineers. This transfer was completed on 13 June 1915 when he became a Pioneer with the R.E. as a motorcyclist despatch rider. James’ service records state that this unit had been his first choice upon enlistment, but the unit was then over-subscribed and he was placed elsewhere – something of a disappointment at the time for a man who had been riding a Humber motorcycle since 1911. James had been due for a promotion to Corporal at the time of his transfer, but the service records state that on 27 June he was charged with being drunk, and consequently the promotion was not made, one of a number of occasions during his military career in which promotion was forfeited due to indiscipline.

James was next invalided out of France on 26 September 1915 and admitted to the Rosherville Hospital in Kent, suffering from septic ulcer boils, transferring closer to home to the Red Cross Hospital in Portishead where he continued to be treated until 13 December 1915. It is noteworthy that in the record of his treatment at the time his corps is recorded as 187 Company (Chemical) Royal Engineers, a unit formed to develop a response to German chemical warfare first experienced at Ypres on 22 April 1915. This unit worked principally at Porton Down, but also at a laboratory at Helfaut, near Saint-Omer in France, and the date of James’s first hospitalisation is 26 September, the day after the British Army itself first deployed chlorine gas at Loos. While chlorine gas typically compromises the lungs, during the battle several fully charged cylinders of chlorine gas were hit by German shell fire, and the effect on the skin of direct exposure to liquid chlorine is severe chemical burns leading to cell death and ulceration. It may then be that James was involved in some way, perhaps only in transportation, with the unit tasked with deploying chlorine gas at Loos, and which marked the first time the British Army adopted chemical warfare.

Upon recovery, James was posted to the Dunstable Signal Depot; and a year later, on 11 February 1917 he was sent with the Royal Engineers to Mesopotamia, and he remained there for the duration of 1917. His excellent service there, on the railways in Baghdad, earned him a promotion to Second Lieutenant, on 13 September 1918. A month later he was transferred to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers, attached to the Railway Depot, Indian Railways. His family had connections with India, going back to the East India Company (Valpy family), his mother had been born in Palayamkottai, Tamil Nadu, the daughter of a clergyman, and Reginald James himself is reported to have spoken French and Hindustani, which he perhaps learnt from his mother. According to his obituary in the Durham University Journal (vol. XXII, no. 4, p.146), he frequently suffered from heart difficulties whilst in India, and on 15 July 1919 he died at Rawal Pindi of cardiac failure, brought on by taking too much chloral, a sedative that he may have been taking to manage his heart problem. James is buried in the Pindi Point (Noor Ahata) or New Cemetery at Muree at the foot of the Himalayas, and is remembered on both the Karachi war memorial in Pakistan and a plaque in St Peter’s Church, Portishead.

Additional sources: Clifton Rugby Football Club History website; The Times newspaper online archive (subscription resource).
Research contributors: Anabel Farrell, Simon Stanley, Felix Syms.

4 November 1919

Image of the Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Durham Light Infantry cap badge

Lieutenant Frederick Havelock Lattimer

Frederick (or Fred) Havelock Lattimer was born in Sunderland on16 June 1892. His father, John Havelock Lattimer was a grocer and his mother Margaret Dorothy helped in the business. Frederick attended Bede School, Sunderland and in the 1911 census he is recorded as being a “pupil teacher”, this was at Diamond Hall Boys School. He continued his teacher training when he entered Bede College in Durham in 1911 and was awarded his teaching certificate in 1913. At the college he played in the cricket and football teams.

Lattimer enlisted into the 18th (Pals) Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry when it was first raised at Durham in September 1914. The new Battalion was sent to a camp set up at Cocken Hall, just outside Durham City where they were kitted out and began training. Further training manoeuvres were carried out at nearby Fencehouses and further afield at Cramlington. In May 1915 the 18th D.L.I. were sent to Ripon to begin training at company level and joined the 93rd Brigade in the 31st Division. This Division was made up of both Yorkshire and Lancashire ‘Pals’ battalions including the four ‘Hull’s Pals’, the ‘Leed’s Pals’, ‘Bradford Pals, and the ‘Accrington Pals’. This training involved a county-wide manoeuvre which assumed the enemy had landed on the Yorkshire coast. A particular emphasis was placed on training for trench warfare throughout July. In late November, the Battalion moved to Fovant, near Salisbury where specialists and officers were ordered to return to their platoons and complete “Part III of their range course”. However, the battalion were yet to be fully equipped with their Mark III Lee Enfield rifles and “borrowed” 100 such rifles from another regiment to enable these orders to be carried out.

With training completed and weapons issued the 18th were expecting a 48-hour pass before embarking for France but on 5 December all leave was cancelled, officers were recalled, and the Battalion was transported to Liverpool where they boarded the liner R.M.S. “Empress of Britain” and on 6 December they set sail bound for Egypt. Having passed the straits of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean the liner was involved in a collision with a French transport vessel. Just after midnight on 13 December the two ships collided and the French ship was “cut in two”. Of the 64 souls on board, 62 were picked up by the British vessel, an engineer had been crushed by machinery and a seaman drowned. The liner put in to Valetta, Malta the next day and a quick inspection of the damage to her bows resulted in two days of repairs. Setting off again on 16 December they ran a gauntlet of U-boats, being attacked with torpedoes on two occasions but without any hits. The liner entered Alexandria harbour on 19 December. Orders stated that the troops were to be delivered to Port Said and so no shore leave was allowed. The soldiers then asked if ‘The Forgotten Brigade’ was to spend the whole war on a boat! Two days later on 21 December 1915 they docked in Port Said.

Expecting a Turkish attack on the Suez Canal, the 18th were soon at work helping to build a massive three-line defensive position. After some nine weeks in the desert around Kantara the battalion received orders on 28 February to return to Port Said where, having boarded H.M.T. “Ivernia”, they were about to set sail with a convoy when her engines broke down and the Convoy left without her. After repairs she set sail alone at 05.00 on 6 March. After a less traumatic voyage they entered Marseilles harbour on 11 March and much to the amusement of the troops on board they collided with a destroyer moored next to their allotted berth. They entrained at the docks, 30 men and their equipment to each cattle truck and two days’ travel through France saw them arrive in the Serre Region of the Western Front. There they were involved in preparations for the “Big Push” of that summer, which began on 1 July with what became known as the first Battle of the Somme.

Frederick’s record of service is chronicled in the Rolls of Honour which are published in The Bede magazine during the war. He first appears in the March 1915 edition where his enlistment into the 18th D.L.I. is recorded. An entry in the March 1916 edition entitled “Bede in the Mediterranean” lists him as a company stretcher bearer. Subsequent editions of December 1916, April 1917, and December 1917, all confirm his service as a stretcher bearer. The April 1918 edition reports that Frederick Lattimer returned to England at the end of 1917 to pursue a commission. The article laments the dwindling number of ‘Bedeites’ remaining with the 18th and suggests that “no one remains who can continue the reports”. However, Frederick Lattimer himself then takes up their story and provides an account of the battalion’s record from July to December 1917. Further information could not be provided as Frederick left the battalion on 15 December and returned to England to gain his commission at the cadet school at Cambridge, and which was recorded in the London Gazette on 27 August 1918. Sometime later Frederick was transferred to the newly formed R.A.F. (the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated on 1 April 1918 to become the Royal Air Force). Lattimer was demobilised from the R.A.F. in January 1919 and returned home to Sunderland. He died from tuberculosis on 4 November 1919. The Sunderland Echo contained the following obituary.

“The death of Mr. Fred H. Lattimer occurred this morning at the early age of 27. After leaving Barnes School he went to Bede Collegiate School, and was for two years a student teacher at Diamond Hall Boys, after which he finished his training at Bede College, Durham. He joined the Durham Pals Battalion in Sept. 1914 and served as a private in that battalion in Egypt and afterwards in France, where he went through many battles. He came back to England in December 1917 and went to cadet school in Cambridge where he took his commission and joined the Durhams at Guisborough. He was transferred to the RAF School at Reading and was demobilised in January 1919. Always a keen sportsman he was a regular player for Willington Association team before the war and possessed Northern League and Durham Senior Cup Medals. This season he played in several matches for Hendon Cricket Club.”

Sunderland Echo, 4 November 1919 (p.6 col. C)

Frederick Havelock Lattimer is buried in Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Sunderland. He is commemorated on the cross at Bede College (but not the plaque and rolls of honour), on the roll of honour in St Gabriel’s Church, Sunderland, and in the National Union of Teachers War Record 1914-1919 (1920).

Research contributors: Kevin Boyle, David Butler, Joyce Malcolm.

23 December 1919

Image of Hatfield Hall Trial Fours crew, 1913 (Ref: MIA/1/211)

Hatfield Hall Trial Fours crew, 1913 (Ref: MIA/1/211)

Captain William Allan Bradley

It has so far proved impossible to discover the details of William Bradley’s early life, and so this shortened biography begins in 1912 when Bradley matriculated to the university in the Michaelmas term, and becoming a member of Hatfield Hall. Bradley then studied for a B.A. until early 1915, when a note in the Praelector’s register of attendance states he that “left to take commission on 4th May 1915”.

Whilst at Durham, Bradley enjoyed sporting activities: he rowed for a Hatfield Hall winning crew in March 1913, and was captain of Hatfield Hall’s Rugby Football Club; he also served Secretary to the Rugby Club and to the Hatfield Hall Common Room, and represented the Hall on various committees.

Bradley was also a keen member of the university’s Officers’ Training Corps. His experience and training with the Senior Division of the Corps recommended him for officer rank when he joined the military, and his appointment as a second lieutenant was gazetted on 29 April 1915. He joined the 7th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry and after some weeks of training, and embarked for France on 10 July 1915 where he was destined to remain for the majority of the succeeding three years of war.

The Seventh Battalion of the D.L.I. was present on the Somme for most of these years, for most of the period as a ‘Pioneer’ regiment. The fierce trench warfare demanded a high level of maintenance of trenches and railways, as well as roads, and training was still important for situations when the pioneers were called upon to carry out work under fire, or indeed to take a position in the front lines. For instance, during the Battle of the Somme, (1 July- 18 November 1916), 7th D.L.I.’s battle roll included Flers-Courcelette, the Butte of Warlencourt, and Pioneer Alley, and it suffered heavy losses in these engagements. The torrential rain and gale-force winds created horrendous conditions in which enemy fire was not the only hazard to be contended with: it was reported by another D.L.I. battalion sharing the line at the Butte of Warlencourt that some men had drowned in their own trenches.

Second Lieutenant Bradley was gazetted again on 19 July 1916, when he was made a temporary Lieutenant. In July 1917 he served as a temporary captain while on secondment, until 15 August 1917. His temporary lieutenancy was made permanent in November 1917, and he was for a period in 1918 (at the time his M.C. was awarded in June) again a temporary captain and was then appointed to a staff captaincy on 20 November 1919. This gazette entry, in January 1920, also records that he had been awarded a Military Cross (June 1918) and an O.B.E. (1919) “[f]or valuable service rendered in connection with military operations in France”.

On a more personal note, amidst all the fighting Lieutenant Bradley may also have found time to meet and court his wife. Florence Lousada, a nurse of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, was deployed to France as part of a Voluntary Aid Detachment. There was one such establishment at Warlencourt and perhaps this is where the couple met. Their engagement was announced in The Times in January 1918. They married within two or three months at Warwick.

At the time of the Armistice, now Staff Captain Bradley of the Heavy Artillery XVIII Corps was appointed Civil Governor of Bonn on behalf of the Army of Occupation. Unfortunately, he died whilst serving in this post on 23 December 1919, presumably a victim of the influenza pandemic then raging. He was buried at Wandsworth (Earlsfield) Cemetery in London. His widow was then living at Little Beckhams, Chiddingfold, Godalming, Surrey.

Both Captain and Mrs Bradley were entitled to the Victory and the War Medals, and Captain Bradley to the 1915 Star. Captain William Bradley is commemorated on a memorial plaque in Hatfield College Chapel and in the Durham University’s Roll of Service (1920).

There are still many gaps in our short biography of William Bradley’s life. If you have further details about him we invite you to contact the university library’s Archives and Special Collections team.

Research contributors: Jenna Fawcett, Heather Ross, Pauline Walden.

7 April 1920

Image of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge

Duke of Wellington's Regiment cap badge

Private Laurence Sylvester Robinson Scott

Laurence Scott’s parents, John and Emily, lived in Skipton, Yorkshire, where John Scott owned and managed a brewery. Laurence Scott was the third of four children, born on 21 December 1895 after Mary and John and before Dorothy Scott. In 1901 at the time of the census, 12-year-old John was a pupil / boarder at Dene C. of E. School in Caterham, Surrey. By the time of the 1911 census Laurence was being educated away from home; he is listed as a student / boarder at Denstone College, Staffordshire. John Scott had retired from business in the early years of the century and the family had by 1911 moved to Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

Laurence Scott’s surviving military records are sparse but it would appear that he volunteered very early in the war, joining the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. He was assigned to A company of the 9th (Service) Battalion and his medal card shows that he disembarked in Boulogne on 15 July 1915. The 9th Battalion then came under the command of the 52nd Brigade in the 17th (Northern) Division. This division remained on the Western Front from 1915 to the Armistice; and in 1915 were deployed in the front lines in the southern area of the Ypres Salient. A number of battalions from the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment are reported near Elverdinghe during the Second Ypres campaign of 1915. From July to November 1915, they were billeted slightly behind the front line at Canal Bank, which was a series of dug-outs sufficient for an entire Company on the banks of the Ypres Canal. These dug-outs were not particularly liked by the men as they were damp and often dirty.

Laurence Scott was wounded on 24 November 1915 and admitted to the 51st Field Ambulance. He was transferred back to this country the following day. This was the first of three injuries which all involved repatriation, two of which were severe enough to have qualified him for permanent home service. On each occasion, however, Scott chose to return to his Regiment. He was finally discharged from the Army as unfit in February 1919.

That same year, he joined University College at Durham where he was an Arts student, studying arithmetic, algebra, English history and logic, and with the intention to enter Holy Orders. His attendance is noted as good for both the Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. He was also a keen sportsman, representing the Durham University on the rugby field against Edinburgh University - this despite his war wounds.

During the Easter vacation whilst at home in Ilkley, he received disappointing news from a medical board which recommended that he stop studying at least for the rest of that year and get out into the open air as much as possible. The physical and psychological effects of his war service clearly still persisted, and regrettably overwhelmed him, for not long after this board made its decision Laurence Scott committed suicide.

At the subsequent inquest held on 8 April 1920, a doctor was called to confirm the findings of the medical board. The Yorkshire Post reports:

“Dr Gibson had seen Mr Scott on 3rd April when he was suffering from depression. The witness thought the state of the young man’s mind was entirely due to the wounds he had received in the head, accentuated by the hard studies. One could quite realise that being under shell fire, and suffering