Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

GEORGE HENRY BENNISON

GEORGE HENRY BENNISON

Private 28206

17th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment

Died of wounds - 23rd April 1916

 
 
George Henry Bennison was born in 1885, the son of George Bennison and Mary Ann Bennison nee Clifford.  He was born in a small area known as Seymour which was close to Staveley, a mining village in Derbyshire.
  
George snr was born in Hinchley, Leicestershire, he and his parents had moved to Derbyshire before the 1871 census when the family lived at Barrow Hill (Luke Bennison his father was a coal miner). 
 
Derbyshire Times - 19th April 1873 p5
 
George snr settled into life around these parts and also found employment as a coal miner.  He married Mary Ann Clifford on 13th April 1873 at Staveley Parish Church.  Mary was aged 19 years old, the daughter of William Clifford.
 
In 1881 George and Mary Ann Bennison were living with Mary's parents at Bolsover.  They had three young children of their own; John Thomas born in the summer of 1874, he was baptised at Staveley on 7th January 1875; Julia born around 1878 at Hucknall Tokard, Nottinghamshire and baby Hannah who was born in 1881.

Our fallen soldier; George Henry Bennison (George jnr) was born four years later.  On the 1891 census he was 6 years old and his family were living at No.104 4th Row, Seymour, Staveley.  George snr was 40 years old and worked alongside many of the local men as a coal miner.  John the eldest son was now 16 years old and had also found work as a colliery labourer.  The other children were; Julia 13, Hannah 10, Joseph 9, Mary 8, Harriett 4 and William aged 1 year old. 

George snr dies....

Derbyshire Courier 13th January 1894 page 5


Life changed dramatically for the Bennison family in the winter months of 1894, when on 4th January 1894 the head of the household, George Bennison snr died aged just 43 years old.  George jnr was around 8 or 9 years old at the time.  Mary was left with 10 children to support, the youngest James was less than 1 year old at the time. 
 
1901....

The 1901 census shows the Benison family had moved once more and were now living at 110 South Street, New Whittington.  Mary, the head of the household was aged 44 years old.  She was a young widow with many mouths to feed.  George was aged 15 years old but no occupation was given for him.  Joseph aged 18 years was a coal miner.  The other children were; Mary 17, Harriet 13, William 12, Frank 10 and James 8 years old.  Also in the household was 1 year old Myra Benison, enumerated as "daughter" of Mary but actually her granddaughter. 

Warsop....

The local employer Staveley Company took on a new project around 1893 when they decided to sink a new coal mining seam at Warsop in Nottinghamshire.  By the mid 1890's the pit was functional and many of the local men from the New Whittington area would have followed the work and moved their families to the newly built cottages in Warsop.  A new life working at a new and modern colliery with new homes, would be just what the younger generation of colliers would wish for.  The Bennison family were amongst those who were part of this new venture....

John Thomas was living at 10 York Terrace, Warsop with his new wife Florence in 1901.  He was employed as a bricklayer, most likely working on building the new homes and communal buildings for the growing community. John Thomas married Florence Taylor in 1900 at Warsop, the brides home village. On 9th September 1901 a baby boy was born to John and Florence; named George Frederick. Then came Cyril, Leslie and a daughter named Nellie. 
 
Julia married Albert Harling on 11th August 1900 at St Stephens Church, West Bowling, Bradford.  Julia was a domestic servant so she may well have met Albert whilst working away from home.  The couple were living at 12 Barton Street, Bradford in 1901.  Albert worked as an aerated water carter.  The couple had a 5 month old daughter named Harriett Ann.  Sadly baby Harriett died not long after the 1901 census enumerator had walked the streets of Bradford and recorded her life on his pages. 

Hannah aged 20 years old was working as a domestic servant in 1901.  She was employed by Mr Job Rhodes and lived with his family at 2 Westgate Colonnade in Bradford.  Not long after Hannah married Thomas Binns at Bradford.  The couple's first child Henry was born in Bradford in 1902.

1911 the eve of WW1....

George had left the area of New Whittington and was living with his sister Julia and her family at 16 Queen Street, Warsop.  George was aged 25 years old, single and employed as a coal miner hewer.  Julia's husband Albert worked in the same trade, most likely the family would have worked alongside each other.

The household was a full one; with three adults and five children under 9 years old; George born 1902, Annie born 1904, William born 1906, Myra born 1909 and little Henry aged 7 months born 1910.

Mary (George's mother) lived at 131 High Street, New Whittington.  Also in the home were William aged 21 a rope man below ground at Markham Pit, Frank aged 20 and James aged 17 both worked as pony drivers also at Markham Pit.  There was also a granddaughter named Myra aged 11 years old with the family.

John and Florence were also living in Warsop at 4 Clumber Street.  John was now employed as a coal miner.  They have four living children and one deceased; George Frederick 9, Cyril 4, Leslie 2 and Nellie 1 year old.

Joseph had married May Booth in 1906 (May was the sister of Ernest Booth who lost his life to the war on 15th May 1915).  In 1911 Joseph and May were living at 7 Queen Street, Warsop.  Joseph worked as a coal miner, they had one young son named after his grandfather and uncle; George Bennison aged 1 year old.

Hannah and her son Henry had returned to New Whittington and were living with William Booth and his two young sons; William 5 and Albert 3 years old.  Hannah was described as "house keeper domestic" and "married".  William was single.  They lived at 133 High Street, New Whittington, next door to Hannah's mother Mary.

Mary Bennison was working as housekeeper for a 44 year old widowed collier named William Mortiboy.  William had 5 children aged between 17 years old and 5 years old, so I am sure that Mary was a valued member of the household.  They lived just a few doors away from Joseph at number 14 Queen Street, Warsop.

Harriett Bennison moved away from Chesterfield and married Arthur Sharp in Bradford on 13th March 1909.  A year later on 11th May 1910 their baby daughter Nora Benison Sharp was born back in Chesterfield.  By 1911 Harriett and her new family had moved to the hustle and bustle of London.  Arthur worked at an iron foundry and the family lived in one room at 34 Talbot Grove, Kensington. 

George's war....

Private 28206, George Henry Bennison was wounded in action on 19th April 1916.  He died 4 days later on 23rd April 1916 of his injuries sustained.

His death was reported in the Derbyshire Times the following month, 13th May 1916 page 8.  The article tells that George was "30 years of age, a finely built fellow".  It states that George had joined the Army 10 months ago (around June 1915) and had been in France just over 7 weeks.  He was enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters but had recently been transferred to the Royal Engineers.  He died of his wounds on Easter Sunday 1916.

The 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters landed in France on 6th March 1916, so it is likely that George was transferred to the Royal Engineers before this date as he was recorded as being in France just over 7 weeks on his death.  It is also highly possible that George and his brother in law Albert Harling enlisted together in July 1915.  They would then move on to Aldershot for basic training. 

In 1915 the Royal Engineers set up a specialised tunnelling company; this company would comprise of men from around the country with a very useful trade; coal mining.  George was a coal miner, from a mining background he would have been perfect for the job and would explain why he was transferred from the Sherwood Foresters to the Royal Engineers. 

The tunnelling companies were affectionately known as "the moles".  They were highly instrumental to the success of the B.E.F in the field of trench warfare during WW1.  A war which was for many years held in stalemate, with neither allies nor enemy making any advances.  The need to out wit the enemy with an intricate, well built trench system was the key to success.  The coal miner would know the tricks of the trade and the hazards to be avoided.  George and his colleagues were using their skills to great advantage.  An excellent article on the tunnelling company's can be read here.


George is buried at the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in the Pas Des Calais area of France.  His grave reference number is 1 A 59.
His grave shows the sign of the cross, with no other comments added by his family. 


George was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

Life went on....

Mary Bennison, George's mother had died in 1914 aged 58 years old.  In some ways a blessing for Mary as she would not live to witness the horror and turmoil that the Great War had on her beloved family.

John Thomas Benison and his wife Florence remained living in Warsop. In 1939 he was still living at 4 Clumber Street, Warsop however he was a widow.  John died in 1947 aged 72 years old.

Julia and her husband Albert had at least three more children; Gwendoline Mary born 1912, Mary Ann born 1914 and Margaret born 1916.

Albert joined the 17th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, known as the Welbeck Rangers in July 1915.  He was private 28205.  He was discharged in September 1917 as "no longer physically fit for service"  and awarded the Victory, British and Silver War Medal.

Julia was the recipient of both of her deceased brother's (George and James Benison) war pensions.  However, she died not too long after the brothers in 1929, she was only 51 years old.  What became of her husband Albert Harling is not known - I have not been able to find any local death for him.

Joseph and May continued to reside in Warsop.  They had four more children; Ernest 1913, Miriam 1915, James 1917 and May 1921.  Joseph may have died in 1948 and May in 1960, however these dates have not been confirmed with death certificate proof on my part.

Joseph and May would have felt the harsh reality of war, having lost three siblings between them; Ernest Booth, George Bennison and James Bennison.

Hannah Bennison may have emigrated to Canada.  However further information is needed to confirm this is correct.  Hannah Binns was noted as living at New Whittington in June 1919 (according to service records of James Bennison).  A Hannah Binns married William Booth (brother of Ernest Booth above) in 1928 at Chesterfield.  Hannah was living with William in 1911, did she return to England after Thomas Binns died? or did she part ways with Thomas and return home? 

Mary Bennison has not been located after the 1911 census.

Harriett and Arthur Sharp had lived in London at the outbreak of WW1.  They had two more children by now; Albert Arthur born 1st December 1911 and Constance Mary born 9th October 1913.  From the places of birth of the two children the family must have moved around London; Bloomsbury and Deptford respectively. 

Arthur joined the Kings Royal Rifle Brigade in December 1915.  He was noted as being a "skilled craftsman" (his previous employment was as an aluminium moulder) and so in March of 1916 he was transferred to the Royal Engineers, Sapper 145992. 


Something went wrong for Arthur and in November 1916 he was discharged as being no longer fit for service.  The reason given was "insane soldier".  The notes in the service records go on to state that the insanity was not caused by military service and that Arthur had not served abroad. 

What became of Arthur is not known but Harriett married again on 9th February 1918, described as a Widow.  She married a soldier named Henry James Prew at Camden, London.   The family emigrated to New Zealand to start a new life, Henry was a labourer.  In 1928 Harriett and Henry were living at Johnston Street, Foxton, Manawatu, Wanganui.  Harriett died in 1967, she still lived in Manawatu. 

William Bennison married Emily Booth on 4th August 1914.  Just three weeks later on 29th August 1914 he enlisted to the Leicestershire Regiment.  Private 12230, he was posted to Aldershot on 5th September but discharged medically unfit on 14th September 1914.  He was recorded as suffering from "chronic blepharitis" which would mean that William had irritation to his eyes, this would cause a great deal of problems in the field of war.

Patriotically, on 7th January 1915 William tried to enlist once more.  He went into Chesterfield and enlisted with the 3rd Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Private 22035.  Unfortunately for William yet again he was discharged on 10th March 1915; recorded as "not likely to become an efficient soldier"

William may have died in 1921 aged just 31 years old. 

Frank Bennison worked as a collier prior to the outbreak of WW1.  On 3rd September 1914, aged 22 years old, he enlisted with the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment.  Private 14274, he was posted to Aldershot to carry out his basic training and on 29th July 1915 he was to join the B.E.F in France where he remained until 12th March 1916 when he returned to England. 

Frank would have been in England when he received the sad news that his elder brother George had been killed in action.  Having witnessed the terrible sights of war we can only begin to imagine the feelings Frank would feel over the coming months and years.  Not long after on 7th July 1916 he was posted once again in France until 4th September 1916. 

In October 1917 Frank was transferred to the Royal Defence Corps. According to his service records Frank remained on home turf but was not discharged until 1st April 1919.  He was discharged on medical terms as he was suffering from chronic symptoms in both of his knees, which he had sustained as a result of an injury in France in 1916.  Frank would have been placed with the Royal Defence Corps due to his injuries and medical problems; his role would have been to guard the areas on home soil that may be a target for the enemy.

Frank returned to civilian life, working at Welbeck Colliery in Mansfield.  He sustained a further injury in December 1919 when falling coal caused fractures in his right foot. 

Frank may not have settled into the ordinary life of the 1920's England as in March 1920 he applied to join the Grenadier Guards.  From the basic information on his service records he was discharged later that month, most likely from his disabilities due to his previous injuries to his knees and right foot.

Frank died in Mansfield in 1932, he was aged just 40 years old.  Whether he married and had any children is unknown at this time.

James Bennison joined the 1st Lincolns on 29th August 1914, sadly James also lost his life to the Great War and his story will be told on this blog on 17th July 2016.

A cousin named Joseph Benison also lost his life to the Great War on 15th September 1916.  Joseph was a local lad living in Staveley prior to the outbreak of war.  He served with the 10th Battalion Cameronians and is remembered on the Staveley War Memorial.  His story can be read here.
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If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on George Henry Bennison or his family please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.
 
I hope that I have not given details of living persons, if so please advise and I will remove immediately.
 

Please note all information has been taken from online indexes and sources.  Due to the sheer numbers of people to be researched I am unable to purchase vital event certificates to confirm my research.


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Ref and further reading  -
Census

Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war

Register of soldiers effects

Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times
CWGC  http://www.cwgc.org