The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
The Tansor War Memorial, Northamptonshire
Tansor is a picture postcard village made entirely from distinctive Northamptonshire stone and is located a mile north of the A605 Peterborough road, just north of Oundle. The War Memorial is located just inside the church grounds, which is easily found. The inscription on the memorial reads:
"To the glorious memory of those men of Tansor who gave their lives for their country 1914-1918. Their name liveth for evermore. That having all things done, Your conflicts past, Ye may obtain through Christ alone A crown of joy at last. Their reward is with the Lord and the care of them is with the most high"
The 1901 Census shows 50 families living in the village at the time and seven of them lost sons during the war. All the village's casualties fell within a fourteen month period during 1916 and 1917. April 1917 must have been the low point for the village as two were killed on the same day (the 1st) with another two falling before the month ended.
Private 40720 Harry BAXTER
2nd Battalion, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Harry was born in Tansor around 1880, and in 1901 lived with his parents - John and Sarah - in Village Street, Tansor along with five of his siblings, the others having already left home. He was married to Ada and lived at 3 Richard Street in Dunstable at the time he enlisted into the army (at Luton) and was initially posted as Private 72622 of the Middlesex Regiment. Harry was transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at some stage where he was killed in action on the 1st April 1917, aged 37. The British army were pursuing the retiring German army as they reformed behind the Hindenburg Line and a series of battles resulted, during which Harry lost his life. Interestingly, Harry's friend and neighbour Francis Edwards (see below) was also killed during the battle on the same day. Harry is buried in grave I.D.29 at the Savy British cemetery, near St. Quentin The 32nd Division in which Harry fought that day took Savy on the 1st April after hard fighting, with the wood falling the following day.
16 of Harry's comrades who fell with him are buried alongside him, having been moved from the original Inniskillings Cemetery at Dallon after the war.
Private 43084 Albert Ernest CLIFTON
1st Battalion, the Bedfordshire Regiment.
Albert was born in Tansor in 1895. By the time he enlisted into the army he lived in Ramsey in Huntingdonshire and enlisted from Huntingdon, becoming Private 1303 in the Hunts Cyclists Battalion. Albert was transferred into the Bedfordshire Regiment in Spring of 1916, probably having been wounded whilst in the Cyclists the previous year. Private Albert Clifton died of wounds on the 5th September 1916, aged 21. Albert died after being wounded during the Battalion's assault against Falfemont Farm and Leuze Wood near Guillemont during the Somme offensives of 1916. The Battalion went in with 610 men and came out with around 300, having taken the heavily fortified positions for which the Corps Commander congratulated them so enthusiastically afterwards. He was the son of Frederick and Rebecca Clifton of Toll House Farm, Ramsey, Hunts.
Albert is buried in grave III.H.2. at the Guillemont Road cemetery in Guillemont and is remembered on the Tansor Memorial.
Private 202509 Francis George EDWARDS
2nd/4th Battalion the Princess Charlotte of Wales (Royal Berkshire) Regiment
Francis was born in Tansor around 1897 and by 1901 lived in Village Street, a few doors up from Harry Baxter (see above). His parents were George and Lucy Edwards and he lived with 3 sisters and 1 brother as well as 2 boarders at the time of the census. At the time he enlisted into the Territorial 4th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment he was a resident of Oundle in Northamptonshire who enlisted at Northampton. Having survived the horrors of Gallipoli, Francis was returned to England with a wound or, more likely an illness. After convalescence, he was transferred to the Berkshires and sent to France. Francis had not been on the Western Front for long when he was killed in action on the 1st April 1917 during the series of battles which saw the British Army pursuing the retiring German army as they reformed behind the Hindenburg Line. Francis fell the same day as his friend and neighbour Harry Baxter (see above).
His body was recovered and he lies in Civilian section 4 at the Vermand cemetery, near St. Quentin on the Aisne.
Private G/56402 Francis Harold PRESTON
Harold Francis Preston was born around 1878 in Tansor (although recorded as Ashton on the CWGC records), and appears to have been known as Francis Harold. In 1901 he lived with his elderly parents - Josiah and Catherine - as well as his older sister and brother. He was a Journeyman Carpenter and Joiner and lived 4 doors away from Willie Rowlett (see below). By the time war broke out, Francis was married to Mary Jane Preston (from Ashton in Northamptonshire) and lived in Arundel, where he enlisted into the army. Sadly, he died whilst still in England on the 17th April 1917 whilst still at the Royal Fusilier depot, aged 38.
He is buried in the north-west corner of the Tansor churchyard, although I could not find the grave when I visited the churchyard.
Private 146024 John Appleby Bumper ROBSON
1st/1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry
John was born in Tansor (although SDGW records Oundle) on the 27th July 1897 at Tansor Wold Farm (also called "The Wold"). His parents were William and Elizabeth Robson, who were the farmer owners and John lived in Tansor, Oundle when he travelled to Peterborough to enlist into the army. His parents kept horses amongst other things, which led to John enlisting into the local Yeomanry Battalion. He was wounded at the Battle of Arras on the 11th April 1917 and died at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station, Etrun on the 13th April 1917, aged just 19 (although his age is recorded as 18 on CWGC.) He is buried in grave III.G.7 at the Duisans Cemetery, Etrun in France.
John is remembered on his younger brother's grave in the Tansor churchyard, who died aged just 18.
Private G/43576 William Ernest ROWLETT (recorded as ROWLATT on army documents)
17th Battalion, the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment
Willie was born in Tansor around 1894 and in 1901 lived with his family in Village Street, Tansor. His parents were John Burton and Eliza Rowlett (incorrectly recorded on the CWGC register) 2 brothers, 2 sisters and his cousin all lived at home. His eldest sister, Sarah, was a servant at Manor Farm, just along the road. When war broke out, Willie enlisted into the army from Northampton and was killed in action on the 13th November 1916, aged 22. He fell during the final phase of the Somme Offensives of 1916, during the cold, snowy engagement that was called the Battle of Ancre. His body was recovered and he was buried in grave II.C.II at the Mailley Wood cemetery in Maiily-Maillet.
William is also remembered on his parents grave In the Churchyard as well as the Tansor memorial.
Leading Seaman J/472 Herbert Wilfred TUMMAN
Herbert was from Tansor and joined the navy sometime before war broke out. He was killed on H.M.S. Strongbow on the 17th October 1917, aged 26. The German fleet were busy attacking Allied convoys running between the Shetlands and Norway and it was while the destroyers Strongbow and Mary Rose were escorting twelve merchantmen that Herbert, along with his comrades, were killed. German ships surprised the convoy in poor visibility and attacked, quickly damaging the Strongbow whilst the Mary Rose was some miles ahead of the convoy. Having disabled the Strongbow with a devastating fire, the German ships turned on the defenceless merchantmen, sinking all of them before the Mary Rose could come to the aid of the stricken convoy. On her arrival, she engaged the enemy but was sunk quickly before the Germans turned onto the Strongbow to finish her off. Herbert went down with the Destroyer so his body has never been recovered.
He is remembered on his family grave in the Tansor churchyard and on section 21 of the Chatham Naval memorial to the missing.
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