The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
Officers who died serving in the 8th Battalion
By using the volumes of "Soldiers Died in the Great War" as a foundation and amending the roll according to information found in the battalion War Diary, regimental history, newspaper articles I have come across, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) database details and the officers' service records (where available), this roll is as accurate as I can achieve. Any additions or amendments will be added as I come across them but please contact me if you are aware of a discrepancy in the details shown.
This roll of honour is in chronological order of the date the Officer in question died.
Bedfordshire Regiment officers on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 17th December 1915, aged 30.
Before war broke out, Rupert was a brewer, presumably connected to his family's brewery. The red haired, blue eyed brewer joined the 7th Royal Fusiliers (the 'Empire battalion') as Private 625 on 9th September 1914. He was unknowingly in the same queue as Sidney Vipond, who would also become an officer in the 8th battalion and be killed in action. Rupert was 29 years and 10 months old and was a resident of Cowes on the Isle of Wight at the time. He had previously been an officer in the Militia of the Somerset Light Infantry so was soon to be commissioned as an officer in the Bedfordshire regiment on 24th November 1914.
Although he joined the regiment at the outbreak of war, he had only been in France for three weeks when, on the 17th December, the battalions trenches were heavily shelled and Rupert was caught by the shelling.
His death appeared on page 4 of the 23rd December issue of the Times and page 13 on 27th December 1915.
Rupert was the son of Colonel John Gretton, C.B.E., M.P., and Mary Louisa Gretton of Stapleton Park in Melton Mowbray and the younger brother of Colonel John Gretton M.P. (who was also the chairman of Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton). He has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, shown above.
His officer's service number was 19218 and what remains of his record is held at the National Archives.
Died of wounds 19th December 1915, aged 28.
Charles was born in North Lawton, Oakhampton, Devon on 21st April 1887 and was a Cadet at the Charterhouse OTC and a Solicitor before the war, earning a B.A. and B.C.L. He enlisted into the Inns of Court OTC incredibly early in the war, on 5 August 1914, becoming Private 887.
When he was commissioned into the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment 18th September 1914, Charles was just under 6 feet tall and lived at 16 St. George's Road in Bedford. He trained with the battalion and went to France with them in August 1915, where he served with them until his death.
At 5.30am on the 19th December the Germans started a day of Gas attacks and heavy shelling, with bouts of heavy fire being directed at their trenches but no assaults. Charles was caught by the gas shells and died at No.10 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) later that day from the effects.
He was the son of Henry Clissold Williams, I.C.S. and Mary Williams, of 16 The Beacon in Exmouth, Devon and is buried at the Lijssentheok Military Cemetery, 1km south or Poperinghe west of Ypres.
Interestingly, he is mentioned in the 'Liber Vitae', a remembrance calendar used by the Toc-H (Talbot House) branches.
His officer's service number was 38959 and his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/20192.
Died of Wounds 21st December 1915.
On arrival 2/Lt Shippey was attached to the 8th battalion, arriving with them on the front lines 18th October 1915.
I have yet to identify his service record so am uncertain when he received the wounds that would take his life but it seems probable that he was wounded on 19 December, and he is buried Lijssenthoek military cemetery, on the site of the casualty Clearing Station where he died.
Cyril was the son of Frederic Shippey, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal.
His brother James Reginald SHIPPEY was an 'Old Contemptible' who went to France in the 1st battalion as part of the original British Expeditionary Force in August. He also fell in the regiment and his biography can be found here.
Died of wounds 9th January 1916, aged 26.
Edmund was born in Poona in India on 27th July 1889 and served in the Wellingborough O.T.C. for 18 months before the war. He enlisted on the 29th October 1914 as a single man who lived at 'the Hall' in Sydenham.
Edmund trained with the battalion and led the honour guard during the King's Inspection of the battalion in Surrey in August 1915.
He landed in France with them on the 31st August 1915 and fought at the Battle of Loos. At 5.30am on the 19th December 1915, the Germans started a day of Gas attacks and heavy shelling, with bouts of heavy fire being directed at their trenches. No assaults were launched but the battalion suffered a huge number of casualties, including Edmund, who was rushed to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station. The following day he was admitted to the 7th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne with a 'gunshot wound' to the head, which was more than likely shrapnel. He was still classed as 'dangerously ill' on New Year's Day and eventually succumbed to his wounds on the 9th January 1916.
Edmund was buried in Boulogne Eastern cemetery. His brother, Second Lieutenant Percy Latham Beck of the Royal Monmouthshire Special Reserves, attached to the Royal Engineers was also killed on the 6th March 1915. In amongst his effects is a bill for considerable repairs carried out to his motorcycle and sidecar during September and October 1914, totalling over £3.
After their deaths, there was some disagreement relating to their estates as their mother filled a form out incorrectly. Some correspondence either way appeared to have sorted the problem out but it makes a sad ending to an already sad chapter in their family history.
Edmund was the eldest and last surviving son of the late Percy Charles and Alice Mary Beck, of Smedly's Hydro, Matlock, Derbyshire, who lived in Luton during the war. Charles' obituary was shown on page 1 of the Times from the 26th January 1916 and page 10 on the 20th.
His service record is held at the National Archives, reference WO339/194.
Killed in action 15th February 1916, aged 20.
Edward was born 28th December 1895 in Hong Kong, the eldest of six siblings, to Edward William and Margaret Sarah Mitchell. His father worked for Messr. Bradley & Co. of Hong Kong but Edward was educated at Bedford Grammar School.
When war broke out he enlisted almost immediately and at the time, the single, eighteen year old lived at Oakvale, Shrublands Road in Berkhampstead. He was commissioned into the 8th battalion and went to France with them in August 1915.
Having survived their involvement in the battle of Loos, 2/Lt Mitchell was out on patrol with Captain Simeons (below) when they were caught by a burst of machine gun fire at 2am on the 15th February. He was killed outright but his body was brought in for burial.
Edward was the son of the late Mr. Eric William Mitchell, and Mrs Margaret Sarah Mitchell of 64 Stamford Brook Road, N. London. He was 20 years old and is buried in La Brique Military Cemetery No.2, Ypres.
His Officer's service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/14571, his service number being 30885.
Died of wounds 17th February 1916, aged 23.
Edward was born 26th April 1893 and was educated at the nautical training College, HMS Worcester. He was an officer in the Territorial 5th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment from 1st January 1912, at which time he was an apprentice to the British Gelatine Works. Although he resigned from the Territorial Army during 1914, Edward enlisted into the army again very early in the war. When he was commissioned into the 8th battalion on 15th August 1914, he was single and lived at 'Lea Dale', New Bedford Road in Luton, Bedfordshire.
He arrived in France as a Lieutenant with the battalion in August 1915 and on 24th September was promoted to Temporary Captain. Having taken part in the Battle of Loos and surviving the December engagement, whilst on leave in February 1916, he contracted Acute tonsillitis. By the 8th February 1916 had fully recovered and reported for duty 2 days later. Within days of his return, Edward was to lose his life.
At 2am on the 15th February 1916 he and Lieutenant Mitchell (above) were out on patrol when they were both caught by a burst of machine gun fire. Lt Mitchell was killed outright but Captain Simeons was wounded in the head, left thigh and received a fractured right arm. He was recovered and rushed back to the medical facilities but died two days later at No.10 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) in Lijssentheok, 1km south of Poperinghe, where he is buried.
He was the second son of Charles and Edith Simeons, of Dudley, Blyth Road in Bromley, Kent and his death was recorded on page 6 of the 21st February 1916 edition of the Times.
Edward's officer's service number was 31293 and his record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/14851.
On the 19th April 1916 Germans artillery bombarded the battalions trenches constantly all day, causing many casualties. A particularly effective German raid on the heels of the barrage that night saw the battalion lose a section of trench and suffer the level of casualties only usually seen in a full scale assault, in what turned into a protracted brawl under cover of darkness. The "minor battle" saw the battalion lose almost 250 men with almost half of those being killed, which was a notably high percentage even in terms of the Great War. The following four Officers all lost their lives in the bloody fighting that developed that night.
Killed in action 19th April 1916.
Charles was born on the 25th November 1894 in Callington, Cornwall, the son of the Reverend S.D. Cartwright, formerly the rector of Wimpole in Cambridgeshire and Mrs W. Cartwright. Educated at Dunston College, Cambridge, He was in their Cadet Corps during his schooling.
When war broke out Charles was a Schoolmaster from Callington in Cornwall and enlisted on the 27th August 1914, becoming Private 12370 in the 6th battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. On the 2nd September he became a Lance Corporal and ten days later a Corporal. The 1st November saw him promoted to Sergeant and he was discharged to commission as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the 9th (Reserve) battalion on the 28th January 1915. At the time he was 5 feet 9 ¼ inches tall, of dark complexion, with brown eyes and dark brown hair. His brothers were recorded as being the reverend Cuthbert Cartwright of the Gamlingay Vicarage near Sandy in Bedfordshire and Edward of New Wimpole Hall.
He was married on the 3rd March 1915 at Christ Church, Dore in Derby to Louise Hozland, the marriage being witnessed by Charles Haywood Hozland and Isabel Hozland.
Charles was later attached to the 8th battalion and served with them on the Western Front from his arrival in early January 1916 until his death in April. He was initially buried north of La Brique, 1 ½ miles north of Ypres, but his grave was later lost. Now he has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, which can be seen above.
The inventory of personal effects returned to his widow was extremely small and included just his damaged binoculars, 2 books, a letter and a pipe. Charles did not leave a will and his wife Louise (of Thornfield, Totley Brook in Sheffield) had to complete the forms to release his assets. On them they reveal his eldest sister was the 52 year old Agnes Parker of the Vicarage in Falmouth and his eldest brother was the 48 year old George Cartwright. He had 11 further siblings but no children himself. His twin brother, Edward of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was badly wounded in September 1916 and died at Leeds hospital in October. He was laid to rest in Wimpole, Cambridgeshire.
Edward's officer's service number was 61418 and his record is held at the National Archives within reference WO339/32594.
Killed in action 19th April 1916, aged 27.
Roy was born 29th October 1888 at Selsley House, Albert Road, Battersea Park in London. He was the eighth of nine siblings of John S. Quilter F.R.I.B.A. and Sarah Amelia Willis Quilter.
Whilst in education at Dulwich College he served in the Cadet Rifle Corps and became an accountant one his studies were complete.
When war was declared, the single, 25 year old accountant enlisted into the army on the 5th August 1914, into the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps as Private 955. He was 6 feet tall and weighed 137 pounds but by the 19th September was discharged to Commission in the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment.
In May 1915 he was promoted to Temporary captain and trained with them until they were posted to France on the 30th August 1915. Captain Quilter was mentioned in dispatches 30th April 1916, for his gallantry on the day he fell.
Like Charles Cartwright (above) Roy was initially buried north of La Brique, 1 ½ miles north of Ypres, but his grave was later lost. Now he has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, which can be seen above.
Roy's father had died by the time he was killed and his mother lived at 37 Kirkstall Hill. Streatham Hill in 1916. By the end of the war she had moved to 2 Ashurst Gardens in Tulse Hill, London.
His service record is held at the National Archives within reference WO339/20183, with his officer's service number being 38947.
Died of wounds 20th April 1916, aged 23.
Douglas was born in Oundle, Northamptonshire on 6th January 1893, the eldest son of William McMichael. He was educated at Oundle School and later at Clare College, Cambridge University.
When war broke out, he enlisted into the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, aged 21. The dark haired, blue eyed Undergraduate from 113 Hook Road, Epsom joined up at Norwich on the 15th September 1914 as Private 703 but was discharged to Commission on the 29th December 1914. Douglas stood at 5 feet 8 inches and weighed 139 pounds.
After training, he landed in France with the battalion on the 30th August 1915, surviving both the Battle of Loos and their December action. However, Douglas was one of the four Officers killed and many other casualties suffered by the battalion on the 19th April 1916, during the intense, day long barrage on their positions.
He died of wounds 20th April 1916, aged 23 before reaching a Casualty Clearing Station. His body was laid to rest in the Essex Farm cemetery, Boezinghe, on the Ypres-Dixmunde road where Lt-Colonel John McCrae wrote the famous poem "in Flanders Fields".
Included in his personal effects that were returned to his parents were 26 letters, 15 cards, 20 photos and several items which were broken, presumably during the barrage that led to his death. Curiously a set of false teeth were also included although it is unclear who they belonged to. At the time of his death, his parents lived in Tudor House in Oundle, but by the end of the war had moved to Nene Cottage in Oundle, Northamptonshire.
His service record is at the National Archives within reference WO339/5195, his officer's service number being 015301.
Killed in action 19th April 1916.
Harry was born 16th December 1895 in New Cross, Deptford, the son of Harry Squier.
When war was declared he enlisted into the 18th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers at Westminster, becoming Private 2101 on 3rd September 1914. The fair haired, brown eyed 18 year old was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 115 pounds. When he applied for a commission on 24th August 1914, he was a single man who lived with his parents at 'Cumbria', Grove road in Sutton, Surrey. His commission was eventually approved 22nd February 1915, when he joined the 10th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment.
After officer training he was attached to the 8th battalion on 20th March 1916 and embarked for foreign service on 23rd March 1916. He arrived with the 8th battalion on the front line 28th March and was killed three weeks later.
Although initially posted as missing, his body was found a few days later and buried in the Essex Farm Cemetery, Boezinghe, Ypres. Not long before his death, his father seems to have moved to 15 Frewin Road in Wandsworth, and initial attempts to inform him of his son's fate failed until a telegram reached his new address 5th May.
His service record is held by the national Archives under reference WO339/35931, with his officer's service number being 102012.
Died of wounds 20th April 1916, aged 24.
Sidney was born 20th April 1892 in Gateshead, Durham the son of James and Jane Ann Vipond, and served in the OTC at Chelmsford School during his education.
The 22 year old single man enlisted into the army on 9th September 1914, becoming Private 262 in the 7th Royal Fusiliers (the 'Empire battalion'). He was 5 feet 11 inches tall. In the same queue that day was Rupert Gretton, who would also become an 8th battalion officer and was the battalion's first officer casualty (details at the top of this page).
Sidney was commissioned into the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment on 26th January 1915 and trained with them until they were mobilised that summer. He landed in France with the battalion on the 30th August 1915 and was wounded in the fighting on April 19th.
Second Lieutenant Vipond received shrapnel wounds to his abdomen and was dangerously ill by the time the 17th Field Ambulance got him to No.10 Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssentheok that afternoon. Closer inspection at the CCS revealed further wounds to his legs and hand but he died at 4.45pm the next day (20th April) and is buried in the Lijssentheok, 1km south of Poperinghe.
At the time of his death, his parents lived at Silverdale, Park Road in Chelmsford, Essex.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/33598, with his officer's number being 80762.
Died of wounds 12th May 1916, aged 22
Leslie was born in St. Albans 1st October 1893, the son of Henry John and Emily Telfer.
At school he joined the OTC and when war broke out, the 20 year old Insurance Clerk attested on 15th August 1914, becoming Gunner 812 of the 4th East Anglian Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. He was single, 5 feet 6 inches tall, with light brown hair and blue eyes. At the time, he lived with his parents at 'Androssau', New Barnes Road in St. Albans. Leslie was commissioned into the 9th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment on the 24th January 1915 and trained as an officer for almost a year.
Once his training was complete, he embarked 9th February 1916, landing at Etaples the following day. On 14th February he joined the battalion in the field and survived the barrage and raid that April.
During a working party late on 6th May, he was hit by a German shell and rushed to the 16th Field Ambulance nearby. Further investigations at No.10 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) showed he was suffering from multiple shell wounds to both arms, his left leg and other more private areas of his body. His parent's request to visit him was refused, due to his serious condition and he was transferred to 7th Stationary hospital in Boulogne 11th May 1916. The following day his parents' request to visit him there was granted but sadly he died from his wounds at 2pm on 12th May 1916.
Whether or not his parents made it to his bedside in time is uncertain.
By the time of his death, his parents lived at 5, Elgin Court, Maida Vale, London. Leslie lies in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, having died from his wounds in No.7 Stationary Hospital there almost a month after being wounded.
His officer's service number is 61577 and his record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/32717.
On the 13th and 15th September the battalion were involved in a large assault during the Somme offensives of 1916 against a heavily fortified positions called the Quadrilateral, north-east of Guillemont. By the time they came out of the attack over 400 casualties had been sustained including 13 of the 16 Officers involved. Six Officers lost their lives during the fighting, being the next six in the list.
8th battalion officers on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Killed in action 13th September 1916, aged 36.
Charles was born 16th April 1880 in Lee, Lewisham. His father was Charles Heinrich Buch, a merchant, and his mother was Louise Augusta Buch, formerly Schacht.
When he applied for a commission in July 1915, he worked in the Ministry of Education in Cairo and was posted to train as an officer in the 9th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment. Once training was completed, he was attached to the 8th battalion and posted to the Western Front.
Charles embarked for France 29th April 1916 and arrived with the 8th battalion in the field on 24th May.
He was initially thought to have been wounded in the early morning attack on German positions on the 13th September but this was quickly amended to him being killed, although his parents received telegrams confusing them soon after his death. 2/Lt Buch's body was buried on the battlefield but later lost so he has no known grave so is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
At the time of his death his parents lived at 114 St. Julian's farm Road in West Norwood but by 1919 they had moved to 77, Thurlestone Road in West Norwood, London.
His service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/37020, with his officer's number being 103485.
His death is recorded as being on either the 13th, 14th or 15th September but, considering the available facts, it appears the correct date is the 13th September 1916.
Killed in action 15th September 1916, aged 21.
Edwin was born 23rd September 1894 in Acton, the son of Edwin William Draisey.
In September 1913 he became a Private in the University of London OTC, remaining there until his application for a commission on 19th December 1914.
Edwin was commissioned as a 2/Lt in the 8th battalion early in January 1916, trained with them and served on the western Front with the battalion from their arrival on the 30th August 1915. He qualified as a Machine Gun Officer, was promoted to a Temporary Lieutenant from 20th December 1915 and served as an Acting Captain from 13th August 1916, whilst in command of A Company, which he led during the assault.
Captain Draisey was initially posted as missing believed killed, which was later confirmed (on the 29th September) as killed in action.
Edwin has no know grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
Throughout his service, his parents' home was Station House, Lionel Road in Brentford, Middlesex.
Edwin's record is held at the National Archives within reference WO339/5077, his officer's service number being 6985.
Killed in action 15th September 1916, aged 31.
Archibald was born 7th July 1885, the son of the Right Reverend Edward Noel Hodges, D.D.
Whilst in education at St. John's College in Oxford, he spent two years in the Oxford University Volunteer Battalion, attending camps at Aldershot in 1907 and 1908 and achieving the rank of Corporal during his service.
Still single, he enlisted into the army when war broke out in August 1914 and was commissioned into the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment early the following year. Archibald arrived in France with the battalion on the 30th August 1915 and was engaged during the Battle of Loos within weeks of their arrival. He received a severe gunshot wound to his left hip on the 26th September 1915 during the Battle of Loos and on the 28th was moved to the 3rd General Hospital, returning to England on the 1st October.
On his return, he was admitted to 33 Upper Fitzwilliam Street hospital in Dublin to recover and moved to the King George V Hospital in Dublin in October. He was back at Reed Hall Camp in Colchester the next month and fit for light duties. By February 1916 the 30 year old was fit for active service once again. His final medical board commented that Archibald thought he was 'perfectly well'.
He then returned to France on the Mail Boat, landing 27th April 1916 and on the 11th May he rejoined the 8th battalion on the front.
During the assault against the Quadrilateral Redoubt in September he was D Company's Commanding Officer. Lieutenant Hodges was initially reported as being wounded, but this was later changed to killed in action 15th September 1916.
He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. Archibald's father was the reverend of St. Cuthbert's rectory in Bedford during 1916, Woburn Sands in 1917 and Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire by 1920.
At the time of his death Lieutenant Hodges' home was in Sittingbourne, Kent. Archibald was evidently fond of music as in amongst his personal items was a musical manuscript in addition to his letters and the like.
His service record is held at the National Archives, within reference WO339/1772, with his officer's service number being 35391.
Killed in action 15th September 1916, aged 22.
Colin was born 21 August 1894 at Hampton Hill, Middlesex, the son of John Kirkwood Leys and Ellen Leys. He was educated at The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, for 2 ½ years, where he served in the O.T.C. until discharged on the 19th December 1911.
When he enlisted on 22 August 1914, Colin lived with his parents in "Ronhead", Montague Road, Berkhampstead. He initially served as Rifleman 2313 in the 1st/16th County of London Regiment (the Queens Westminster Rifles) and fought in France from 1 November 1914. However, he was discharged to commission in the 10th Battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment in May 1915.
Second Lieutenant Leys arrived in France again on 26 April 1916 and joined the 8th Battalion in the field on 3 May.
He was posted to C Company and was reported as being killed at the start of the attack, although he was initially posted as missing because no-one could verify teh fact. By the following September no further information came forward so Second Lieutenant Leys was posted as having been killed that day.
Colin was the son of Ellen Leys, from Five Trees Bungalow, Pensham Hill in Pershore, Worcs, and the late John Kirkwood Leys. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
His service record is at the National Archives, reference WO339/3573.
[With thanks to Bjorn Rose of The Royal Grammar School for Colin's photograph]
Killed in action 15th September 1916.
Honoratus Thomas was born on 17th June 1895 in San Francisco, California, the son of Commander George Charles, R.N.R. and Essie Thomas.
After schooling, the 18 year old Clerk enlisted into the 1st battalion of the Scots Guards on 29th January 1914, becoming Private 8894. Other than a bout of Dermatitis throughout April 1914, his training was uneventful and he gained his 3rd and 2nd class certificates in the early summer of 1914.
When war broke out, he was transferred into the 3rd battalion and remained on home soil whilst the fully trained, Regulars went to Europe. The 5 feet 7 inch tall, 19 years old Lance Corporal was discharged to commission on 18th November 1914.
Honoratus was posted into the 9th battalion for training and was later to be attached to C Company of the 8th in France.
His fellow officers and the men under his command referred to him as being 'fearless', which was added to by his battalion C.O.'s letter to his father, that remarked that "he did not say very much but worked very well, and looked after his platoon splendidly". So it was perhaps not unexpected when he was wounded on 29 May 1916, but he had recovered in time for the assault on the Quadrilateral Redoubt.
Second Lieutenant Thomas was initially posted as missing, with a report suggesting he had been wounded or killed during the opening phase of the attack, although no-one was able to confirm this. In a revealing series of letters held in his file, his mother continued writing to the War Office, convinced that her son still lived. At that time his mother lived at 30 Graham Street, Eaton Square, S.W. London, whilst her husband served in the Dover Patrol. In May 1917 her husband, a serving Royal Navy Commander, wrote delicately to them requesting that they direct further letters to him - on the one hand it was apparent that he did not wish to upset his wife by voicing the opinion that their son was dead, yet he also wished to start tidying his son's affairs up. Perhaps as a direct result, that month saw the official acceptance of his death, no doubt to the dismay of his mother.
Second Lieutenant Thomas' body was never identified and he has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
His record is held by the National Archives under reference WO339/71945 and his officer's service number was 149551.
Second Lieutenant John Vincent VAULKARD
Killed in action 15th September 1916.
John was born on the 28th January 1896, the son of William Vaulkard.
When he applied for a commission in January 1915, John was a student at Trinity Hall in Cambridge, having served in their OTC from October 1914 onwards. He was later accepted and trained in the 10th battalion, until orders for foreign service saw him attached to the 8th battalion in the spring of 1916.
John embarked for oversees service on 29th April 1916, arriving with the 8th battalion in the field on 24th May. On the 12th June John was admitted to No.12 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Pyrexia and influenza but returned to the battalion 23rd June.
Following the assault against the Quadrilateral Redoubt, John was initially posted as missing but within 2 weeks a report surfaced that confirmed he had been seen being killed, which was relayed to his parents 1st October 1916.
Like so many of his comrades who fell that day, John has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. At the time of his death his parents lived at 31 Crescent Green in Kendal, now in Cumbria.
John's service record is held at the National Archives and his officer's number was 102780.
Second Lieutenant Frank Lloyd SHARPIN
Died of wounds 14th October 1916, aged 33.
Frank was born in Bombay, the youngest son of the Reverend F.N. Sharpin M.A. from Bexhill on Sea, who was the Archdeacon of Bombay and rector of Millbrook in Bedfordshire and Helen Sharpin. He was also the grandson of the late Henry Sharpin, 4th Light Dragoons and General Sealy of the Royal Artillery.
Frank was educated at Bedford Grammar School and was working at the St. James' branch of the County and Westminster Bank when war broke out. He enlisted into D Company of the 1st battalion, Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) on 14th August 1914, becoming Private 1486 on the 25th. After just basic training, Frank went abroad with the battalion, who were one of the first Territorial Army units to be sent into a Theatre of War, arriving in France 28th December 1914. On 26th March 1915 he was wounded by shrapnel in the jaw and sent to No.8 Casualty Clearing Station and onto the 2nd General Hospital in Bailleul the next day. Frank returned to England on the H.M. Asturias, landing 30th March 1915.
After recovering in the 3rd battalion of the HAC, on 25th September 1915 he was commissioned into the 9th battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment and proceeded to Ampthill Park for training.
Within his record is a curious event, considering his father's position and 'rank'. Whilst he was training to become an officer, a night out in Leicester Square, London on 24th April landed him in trouble with the Military Police and, when taken into their custody, also gave a false name (Stuart Riddle!). On 23rd May he was court martialled for 'Drunkenness' and Conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline' but was just severely reprimanded for his conduct. His address at the time was given as 45 St. Peter's Green in Bedford.
After training was completed, he was attached to the 8th battalion and arrived with them in the field on 2nd October 1916.
Second Lieutenant Sharpin received a gun-shot wound to the abdomen on the 12 October whilst in the front line east of Gueudecourt and died two days later from his wounds at No.34 Casualty Clearing Station. Frank is buried in Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte, just south of Albert.
By the time of his death, his father was the Venerable Archdeacon Sharpin and lived at 37 Eversley Road, Bexhill on Sea.
His record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/15085, with his officer's number being 31616.
Second Lieutenant John Seear GIBSON
Died of wounds 15th October 1916.
John was born 24th January 1891, the fourth son of Edward Morris Gibson and Martha Gibson.
He probably enlisted early in 1915 and became a Second Lieutenant on the 19th March 1915.
Second Lieutenant Gibson married Elsie May Dean on the 15th April 1916 at St. Barnabus Church, St. Barnabus, Sutton, Surrey. Two days later he was on a troop ship bound for France and on the 23rd April joined the 8th battalion in the field.
He seems to have been absent from the battalion, possibly to undergo training ready for a posting to the Trench Mortar Battery, as John rejoined the battalion on the 14th August 1916.
Second Lieutenant Gibson was attached to the 16th Trench Mortar Battery when he was wounded during an intense barrage on the 15th October and died later that day. John has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
When he was killed John's father had already passed away and his mother lived at "Hillside", Carshalton road, Sutton in Surrey. His wife, Elsie May Gibson, lived at "Northcote", Victoria Road in Maidstone, Kent.
John's service record in held at the National Archives within reference WO339/23617, is officer's service number being 43947.
Died of wounds 22nd January 1917, aged 29.
Charles was born in 1887, the son of George and Elizabeth Mattey from Penglais in Burghill, Hereford.
He was a bank clerk in the London and River Plate Bank in Buenos Aires when war broke out and returned home to join the army. Enlisting on 12th April 1915, the 5 feet, 4 inches tall 27 year old was posted as Private 3348 in the Honourable Artillery Company. After training, he moved into the 1st battalion HAC and went to France on the 18th, joining the HAC in the field on the 22nd August.
Private Mattey was commissioned as an officer into the 1st battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment on the 30th April 1916 but, although no firm evidence exists, it appears he was attached to the 8th battalion over the summer.
Second Lieutenant Mattey was later admitted to Le Touquet hospital with a slight shell wound to his right forearm on 1st August 1916 and sailed for England the next day.
He embarked from England again on the 24th December 1916 and arrived with the 8th battalion in the field 28th December.
Around midnight on the 20th/21st January 1917, he went out into the snow on a night patrol with Sergeant Hunter to reconnoitre the ground in readiness for a raid, but did not return. Witnesses recall someone calling "Are you Bedfords?" before a single bomb flash in no man's land but no further firing. A German prisoner taken two night later stated that he understood that an officer and Sergeant had been captured but still nothing firm was known.
By August 1917 no news had been received of his fate so his death was presumed but in October the Germans reported his death from wounds on 22nd January 1917.
It was not until 1920 that his burial place was discovered as being in Annoeuillin Communal cemetery, east of La Bassee. His remains were moved when the cemeteries were collected together after the war and he is buried in the massive Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez. By the time of his death, his father had died and his mother lived at Edenhurst, White Cross, Hereford.
His record is held at the National Archives, with his officer's number being 133800.
Second Lieutenant Walter Thomas SMITH
Killed in action 3rd March 1917, aged 35.
Both of the 'standard' sources record Walter as being killed in the 8th battalion but, although he served in the 8th battalion, further research suggests he fell in the 1st battalion instead. The information has been passed onto the appropriate authorities who will correct their records in time.
As a result, his fascinating and full biography can be seen here.
Second Lieutenant John Oswald TAYLOR
Killed in action 19th April 1917, aged 28.
John was gazetted as a 2/Lt in the 5th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment on 19th December 1916 and was attached to the 8th battalion, arriving at the front with them in February 1917. Around two months later he was killed during a five day battle south of Loos when over 300 of the battalion became casualties.
John Taylor was the son of James O. and Mary Elizabeth Taylor of Rotherwas Park in Hereford.
He has no grave but is remembered on the Arras memorial to the missing.
To date, I have beenunable to trace a service record at the National Archives.
Captain James Elliot BLACK, M.C., M.B.
Killed in action 19th April 1917, aged 30.
James was the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Medical Officer attached to the 8th battalion.
During the assault against the Quadrilateral redoubt in September 1916, he tended the wounded under heavy machine gun and artillery fire, later venturing into no man's land to find more of the battalions wounded. For his actions he won a Military Cross and appears to have survived unscathed.
On 23rd March 1917 he was admitted to a convalescent hospital sick but was back with the battalion in time for their assault around Loos in April 1917, where he was killed.
The inventory of effects sent to his mother list just his pocket book, letters, wrist watch, cigarette case, a flask and a solitary medal ribbon, presumably being the Military cross ribbon he earned only months earlier. He was the unmarried son of Adam Elliot Black and Mary Bruce Murray Black of Finglen in Campsie Glen, Stirlingshire and is buried in the Philosophe British Cemetery in Mazingarbe.
At the time of his death, his widowed mother was the next of kin and lived at 18 Westbourne Terrace in Glasgow and appears to have moved to Finglen cottage, Campsie Glen in Stirlingshire before early 1918.
James' long service number was 22632 and his record is held at the National Archives, under reference WO339/10835.
Second Lieutenant Donald Samuel WRIGHT
Died of wounds 25th April 1917, aged 22.
Donald was commissioned as an officer into the 1st battalion and was later attached to the 8th battalion when he went to the Western front. He was leading his platoon forward when wounded by a shell in the lung and right eye on the 19th April during the fighting south of Loos.
Donald was the only son of Samuel E. and Emma Westrope Wright, who lived in Lyndhurst, Walkern and owned the Victoria Brewery in Walkern, near Stevenage in Hertfordshire at the time of his death.
He is buried in the Calais Southern cemetery, France.
To date, I have beenunable to trace a service record at the National Archives.
Died of wounds 18th June 1917, aged 25.
Frank was born on the 28th September 1891, the son of Charles Ash Body, J.P. He served in a Private School Cadet corps in Brighton whilst in education and joined the Berkhampstead Inns of Court O.T.C. in August 1914. At 6 feet tall and with a 41 inch chest he must have made an impression, being above average height and build for the time.
Frank was commissioned in November 1914 and was posted to the 8th battalion early in 1915. He arrived in France with them 30th August 1915 and fought in the battle of Loos within a few weeks of their arrival. Frank also survived the December action and on the 17th February 1916 he was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant, leaving the battalion for a welcomed spell of ordinary leave in England on the 26th March 1916.
Whilst on leave he developed Influenza, which quickly turned into a 'touch of Pneumonia'. The 22nd April 1916 saw him struck off the battalion's strength and he lost a 'considerable amount of weight'. Having recovered from Influenza and Pneumonia Frank was passed as fit again late in July 1916 whilst serving in the 10th battalion at Dovercourt.
On the 28th August 1916 he returned to France and rejoined the battalion on the 1st September. He immediately became acting captain in command of a Company and also survived the assault on the Quadrilateral Redoubt in September. On the 3rd December 1916 he led a small Officer patrol into German trenches, surprised and killed a sentry and returned to his lines with the information he was sent to acquire.
Captain Body was admitted to the 16th Field Ambulance suffering from Epididymitis (inflammation of the Urinary system) on the 27th February 1917 and was sent to the 1st Casualty Clearing Station the same day. On the 1st March he was moved to the 1st Red Cross Hospital at Le Touquet, being recorded as 'slightly sick' and on the 19th March was again moved to the 39th General Hospital. After over two months Frank was discharged to the Base Depot in Calais on 11th May 1917 and rejoined B Company of the battalion on the 19th.
On the 15th June 1917 he and another man were wounded whilst on a night time working party, during which Captain Body was shot in the head and spine. He was moved to the 18th Field Ambulance that day and onto the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station the next day but died from his wounds three days later at Bethune, aged 25. At the time of his death, his parents lived at "The Cedars," 34 Sydenham Hill in Sydenham, London.
His record is held at the National Archives within reference WO339/1684, the officer's number being 2526.
Lieutenant Brian Hugh Bridgeman LETHBRIDGE
Died of wounds 19th July 1917, aged 24.
Brian was born 3rd December 1893 at St. Leonards on Sea, Sussex, the eldest son of The Reverend B. H. S. Lethbridge and Ella Lethbridge. He was educated at Senfield, Collington, Bexhill and Fested, where he joined the O.T.C.
When war broke out the bespectacled Brian Lethbridge was 5 feet, six inches tall, single and from St. Luke's Vicarage in Enfled, where his parents lived. He joined the Transport Section of the 2nd London Mounted Brigade (Field Ambulance) as Private 1666 on the 28th August 1914 and served in England until he was discharged to commission on the 23rd February 1915.
All of March 1915 was spent on an Oxford O.T.C. course and between 15th May and 8th July 1915 he was trained in the 10th battalion at Felixstowe. Brian served as Second Lieutenant in the 10th battalion and was shipped to France, arriving on French shores on the 29th April 1916.
On the 24th May he joined the 8th battalion on the front lines and became a Temporary Lieutenant on the 16th September 1916, with promotion to full Lieutenant following the next month. Between the 14th and 23rd November 1916 Brian was granted leave and again between the 23rd June and 2nd July 1917.
Two weeks after returning from a spell of leave he was wounded in the head whilst in trenches opposite Hulluch on the 19th July 1917. Brian died of wounds that day in the 18th Field Ambulance.
He is buried in the Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe, midway between Lens and Bethune.
Brian's service record is held at the National Archives within reference WO339/29066, his number being 51195.
Second Lieutenant Hugh Cecil MOXON
Died of wounds 19th July 1917, aged 20.
Hugh Moxon was born around October 1896 and lived at Rous Villas in Newmarket at the time he enlisted into the army on the 25th January 1916, becoming Private 9147 in the Inns of Court OTC. He was 19 years old.
Hugh was commissioned into the 5th Battalion on 7th February 1916 and trained as a Territorial officer until he was posted abroad into the 8th Battalion of the Bedfords in France, joining them in the field on 4th October 1916.
Between the 3rd and 13th January 1917, Hugh went on leave and returned to A Company. He survived the assaults around Loos that April unscathed and served in the same region until the summer.
The 8th Battalion were moving into the trenches to relieve the 1st Kings Shropshire Light Infantry late on the 19th July 1917, when he was wounded severely in the head and face by a shell. Second Lieutenant Moxon was rushed to the 18th Field Ambulance and onto the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station but his wounds were far too severe, with shell fragments having penetrated into his brain. At 11.15 that night Hugh died, having never regained consciousness.
He was the son of the late Rev. E. A. Moxon, Vicar of All Saints, Newmarket, and of Maud Mary Moxon, of Oak Cottage, Great Shelford, Cambs, and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.
Hugh Moxon's long service number was 028579 and his service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO374/49415.
Photographs of Hugh whilst he was training in England can be seen in Leonard Brereton's photo album.
Killed in action 29th July 1917, aged 23.
Rennie was born 20th September 1893, in Transvaal in South Africa, the son of George Rennie Airth and Alice Pemberton Airth (formerly White). He spent 4 years in the Ley's College O.T.C., Cambridge between September 1907 and July 1911, after which he went on to study as a student in Mechanical Engineering at Camborne.
When war was declared, the 21 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall Presbytarian with a 37 ¾ inch chest enlisted on the 16th October 1914, whilst living at Hallmore's, Broxbourne, Herts. He became Cadet F/1760 in the Inns Of Court O.T.C. until discharged to Commission on the 1st November 1914. On the 29th May 1915 Rennie was promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the 8th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment.
He landed in France with them on 30th August 1915 and fought in the Battle of Loos, also surviving the December 1915 action. He was given a week's leave in England between the 13th and 20th February 1916 and was in the thick of things two months later. On the 20th April the battalion suffered an enormous bombardment on their trenches which turned into the prelude for a trench raid on their lines. It was probably their second most intensive barrage of their war and caused hundreds of casualties.
On the 28th April, and doubtless as a delayed result of the barrage, Rennie was admitted to the 16th Field Ambulance suffering from Neurasthenia. He was moved via the 12th Casualty clearing Station to the 7th Stationary hospital the next day and would not return to the front line until early 1917.
On 3rd May 1916 he was passed fit for light duties and joined No.1 training Camp at Etaples as an Instructor on the 16th May, as he was not fit enough to rejoin the battalion on the front line. On the 29th July 1916, the Medical board met at Etaples to consider his condition again. It recorded that he suffered from 'General Debility that rendered him unfit for service' for a further six months. As a result Rennie continued his work at the Etaples training facility until he finally rejoined the 8th battalion on the 17th January 1917.
Between the 20th January and 7th February 1917 Rennie was removed to the 18th Field Ambulance but rejoined the battalion until he moved into 7th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) on the 26th April 1917.
He was wounded in the build up to the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres, dying from his wounds on 29th July 1917. Rennie is buried in Dozinghem British Cemetery in Proven, north-west of Ypres.
The inventory of personal items returned to his father included his letters, lamp and compass as well as his fur gloves and bible.
His record is held at the National Archives under reference WO339/79.
Throughout his service in the army, his parents' address was "c/o Anglo-French, 208 Salisbury House, Finsbury Circus, E.C."
Captain John HISLOP, MC
Killed in action 22nd September 1917
Although recorded as having fallen in the 8th battalion, Captain Hislop actually fell in the 6th battalion. His photograph and biography can be seen here.
Second Lieutenant Hugh Frederick Raleigh AMESBURY
Killed in action 20th November 1917, aged 27.
Hugh was born on 3rd November 1890, at Gujranwala in Punjab, India and was the son of Major Frederick Cholmondeley Dering Amesbury (of the Indian Army), and of Henrietta Ferris Amesbury. When he enlisted aged 24, Hugh owned a farm at Lot 107, Cornox district of Vancouver Island in British Columbia and gave his trade as a farmer, although he had been schooled in England, having spent 3 years in the OTC at Dover College between 1906 and 1908.
Hugh enlisted into the Canadian Army on 31st August 1915 and served with 15 platoon, D Company of the 1st Canadian Pioneers. He served on the Western Front in the 1st Division Canadian Expeditionary Force as Private 154083 and was wounded in the left hand at Thiepval on 8th September 1916. Hugh spent 3 hours at the dressing station that day before being shipped to the 20th General Hospital in Camiers for 2 days and then back to England, where he was treated in the East Leeds War hospital between 12th September and 6th October 1916, before being moved to the Canadian Convalescent hospital in Uxbridge until 30th October.
Once fit again, he applied to become an officer on 19th February 1917 and was commissioned into the 3rd/5th battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment, becoming a 2/Lt on the 1st March 1917, along with Henry Forge (below). On completion of his officer training, Hugh was attached to the 8th in France.
He made his will out on the 8th October 1917, his address at the time being Beechcroft, Pevensey Road, St. Leonards on Sea in Sussex. This would appear to be just before he was shipped abroad again and this document reveals he was married, presumably that year.
Second Lieutenant Amesbury was killed (along with Henry Forge below) whilst commanding D Company of the 8th Battalion in their attack on the main Hindenburg Line on 20th November, north of Villiers Plouich.
He was the husband of Emma Mary Amesbury, of London and was buried at Ribecourt British Cemetery, between Cambrai and Peronne. At the time of his death, his father was the assistant officer in charge of records at No.1 Record office in Warwick but appears to have died before June 1918.
Hugh's service record is held at the National Archives under reference WO374/13821.
Second Lieutenant Henry Noel Francis FORGE
Killed in action 20th November 1917, aged 19.
Henry was born at 11 Newstead Grove in Nottingham on the 31st December 1897, the son of the Rev. John Francis Forge and Annie Louisa Forge. He attended Sutton Coldfield Grammar School between 1907 and 1911, then Bedford Grammar until 1916, where he also served as a Sapper in their OTC.
In January 1916 he attested for service and was posted to the Army Reserve, being only 18 years old at the time. Still aged 18, he applied to train as an officer on the 15th July 1916, at which time he stood 6 feet tall. Henry left school on 28th July and some months passed before he was accepted as a cadet and posted to the No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion at 9 Alfred Street in Oxford on 4th November 1916.
Like Hugh Amesbury (above), Henry was also commissioned into the 5th Battalion, also becoming a Second Lieutenant on the 1st March 1917.
He went to France that spring and was attached to the 8th Battalion.
Henry was wounded on the 27th June 1917 and later returned to the battalion once he had recovered.
The 19 year old officer was killed (along with Hugh Amesbury above) during the attack against the main Hindenburg Line, north of Villers-Plouich on 20th November 1917. At the time of his death, Henry was unmarried and his parents lived at Walmley Vicarage, Erdington, Birmingham. He also had an 18 year old sister (Annie Marjorie Forge) and a 14 year old brother (Eric Charles Neville Forge).
Second Lieutenant Forge's body was recovered and was buried in the Villers Plouich Comunal Cemetery, between Cambrai and Peronne.
His long service number is 033337 and his record is held at the National Archives under reference WO374/25003.
Died of wounds 31st December 1917, aged 28.
Leonard was born around 1889, the son of Phillip W. Dolman.
He originally attested into the Territorial Army at Norwich on the 15th August 1914 but later enlisted at Aldershot on the 2nd September 1914 as Private (Clerk) 9950 in the R.A.M.C. He was a 25 year old Teacher from Rumburgh in Suffolk, who's father lived at Pulham Market in Norfolk at the time. Leonard stood at 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 128 pounds.
After what must have been just basic training, he was sent to France on the 6th October 1914 and served in the 21st Field Ambulance. Leonard was punished by forfeiting a day's pay for being absent for 11 hours on the 30th October but otherwise his record was unblemished despite the harrowing work he was undoubtedly called upon to perform. On the 18th March 1916 Leonard was discharged from the R.A.M.C. so that on the following day he could be commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant.
On the 26th March he arrived with the 2nd battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on the front lines and was posted to D Company. He served in the battalion on the southern end of the British lines on the Somme and was granted leave from the 11th June. Leonard was involved in the opening day of the Battle of the Somme and the several days of consolidating that followed as his 30th Division were one of only two to break through and hold the German trench systems. The day they were relieved Leonard was wounded in his left leg during heavy shelling on the 4th July and returned to England on the 8th July to recover.
He re-joined the 3rd Btn on 12th September 1916 but was only fit for Home service until the New Year. Early in 1917 Leonard was fit enough to resume active service and returned to France.
Although still administratively in the 2nd battalion he was attached to the 1st, who were around Arras. Several cold but busy months serving in that sector saw the Arras offensives open on the 9th April and the battalion moved to the front lines to prepare for their part in the battle. On the 14th April the 1st battalion were in the Zouave Valley near Vimy and were making a mule track. Several Officers and men were killed or wounded by shelling, including Leonard, who was wounded in the right shoulder by a shell.
Having been moved back through the casualty system yet again, he embarked from Boulogne and arrived at Dover on the 18th April 1917. Leonard recovered in the Northcliffe Hospital from 24th April 1917 and, after several months rejoined the 3rd battalion on the 5th July 1917. His complete recovery took another few months and he arrived back in France on the 10th October 1917 and went to the 17th Infantry Brigade Depot at Calais the same day.
He joined the 8th battalion - his fourth active service unit - on the 15th October.
At 6.30am on the 21st December a fifteen strong German raiding party tried to get into the right section of the battalions trenches. The platoon who manned the section were led by Lieutenant Dolman and repelled the raiders with heavy losses inflicted on the enemy and Leonard being the only Bedford hurt in the exchange. A delayed bomb was thrown by a German raider which went off near his foot and badly wounded him. His right foot, calf and thigh were badly damaged by the explosion and he was rushed to the 45th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS).
On the 26th December the CCS were forced to amputate his right leg and a request from his sister to visit him had to be denied as he was so seriously ill. He died from the effects of the wounds ten days later on New Years Eve whilst still at the CCS. Leonard was buried in the Achiet-le-grand Communal Cemetery extension, 3km north-west of Bapaume.
Sadly he was the last Officer to die in combat before the battalion were disbanded the following February, although he was also posthumously awarded the Belgian Croix-de-Guerre. At the time of his death, his next of kin was Mrs Gertrude Smith (his sister) of 'The Hollies', Giselham, Norfolk. She was looking after his house.
Curiously, in July 1918 the War Office replied to a letter from "Miss Marcelle Caudron, Actuellement chez Mr. Ducrocq, a Rebecques, par Oise (Pas de Calais), France", confirming that Leonard had died from wounds, Who she was and what her interest was is unclear.
Leonard's record is held by the National Archives, reference WO339/59293.
Lieutenant Reginald Herbert BLACKBURN
Died 5th November 1918
Sources conflict between Reginald dying in 1916 or 1918, but he definitely died from illness in 1918. Reginald's biography can be seen here.
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