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.

Monday, 26 September 2016

WALTER FURNESS

WALTER FURNESS


Private 24704

9th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment

Missing presumed dead - 26th September 1916



Walter Furness was the youngest child of Alfred and Sarah Furness.  He was born in New Whittington around 1892.  

Alfred Furness married Sarah Ann Slater on 24th June 1874 at Sheffield in an area known as Wicker.  Alfred and Sarah both originated from the village of Eyam, the famous plague village.  Alfred had moved to find work in the smokey city of Sheffield, famous for its steel industry.

By 1881 the Furness family have moved to the Derbyshire side of Sheffield and lived at Fallswood Terrace, Coal Aston.  Alfred was still employed as a labourer in the steel works.  The couple already have a growing family; Mary 9, Annie 5, Emily 3 and Thomas aged 11 months.  

Mary was born before the couple were married, her birth was registered under her mothers name as Mary Ann Slater.  She was baptised in February 1872 at Eyam, with only the mother noted.

Over the next ten years the family grew, on the 1891 census the Furness family have moved to New Whittington. They live on Bamford Street and the two new arrivals; Alfred aged 3 and baby Elizabeth.

Two family members are missing from the household; Mary Ann and Annie; 

Mary Ann was living with Alfred's parents, Richard and Ann Furness back at Eyam village.  Described as their grandaughter, she was 17 years of age and helped around the house.  Mary married Job Ollernshaw Robinson at Eyam in 1900.

Annie was aged 15 years old and worked in service at Dunston Villa, Sheepbridge.  Her employer was William Haslam was a forge manager. On 4th July 1898 she married John Cathorall at New Whittington. Annie died in the early months of 1899, aged just 22 years old she was buried on 8th February 1899 at Cresswell/Elmton.

Walter was the last child born to Alfred and Sarah, born in 1892 he was aged 8 years old on the 1901 census.  He would be attending the local school and enjoying his time playing in the surrounding fields.  his father and elder brother Thomas both worked at the local iron foundry as pipe moulders.  

Newly weds Mary and Job were living at Town Head, Eyam.  Job worked as a carter.  

1911 the eve of war....

Walter and his family were still residing at 21 Bamford Street. He was 19 years old and worked as a surface man at the colliery.  

Mary Ann and Job had two young children now, John aged 7 and William aged 5 years old.  Some good fortune must have come their way as Job was now farming his own farm at Shepherds Flat, Eyam.  The couple had lost two children, so times had not all been rosy.  

Emily married James Fish on 15th April 1901 at New Whittington. A year later they had their first child, a son named Leonard.  Two more children were born but sadly died; Clifford born and died in 1906, he was buried at New Whittington on 25th June 1906. A little girl named Emily was baptised 25th July 1908, no birth or death was registered. 

In 1911 Emily and James were living at 11 London Street, New Whittington.  New baby girl May was just 10 months old and would be keeping Emily busy.  James worked as a coal miner hewer.

Thomas married Ethel May Hutchinson on 24th June 1901, a son named after his Uncle was born a year later; Walter Furness.  More children followed; Ethel May 1904, Edith 1907 and Thomas 1909.  In 1911 the growing family were living at 84 Handley Road in New Whittington.

Walter's life just prior to WW1....

Walter was a sporty chap, he was well known for his achievements as a footballer and cricketer.  He was employed by Glapwell Colliery and was a member of their cricket team.




Walter's war....

Walter served with the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, a local battalion which many of his friends and work colleagues would also have been part of.  Another man named on the St Barnabas Memorial was also missing in action on the same day as Walter; George Mears whose story can be read here.

Walter's service records have not survived but we know that he was a Private, soldier number 24704.  He was awarded the 15 Star, which means that he served overseas between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915.  

The 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were part of 33rd Brigade, 11th Division.  They were formed at the outset of WW1 in August 1914 and landed in Sulva Bay, Gallipoli on 7th August 1915.  The battalion saw some terrible fighting in Gallipoli and two other New Whittington men were killed in those early days of August 1915; Norman Croaysdill and John James Kirk.

The war diaries for the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters during August 1915 are missing however searching the internet I have managed to locate a post which gives details from the 33rd Brigade War Diaries which includes an account of the 9th August 1915 for the 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  The article can be found here.

The diary states that the 9th Battalion left at 4am on 9th August to take up their position in line at Damak Jelik Bair by 6am.  They were soon caught up in sniper fire but were not able to return that fire.  By 15.30 that day many of the battalion had been forced back; A and B Coys were both under Captain Squires; "He was at once killed and his left platoon decimated as the Turks had pushed a larger force about 2 Coys into the gap and began to open a heavy enfilade fire on both A and B Coys"  ref from the above link to the post on the WW1 invision forum.




To join the British Expeditionary Force in France....

The 9th Sherwood's were evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915 and moved on to Egypt.  On 1st July 1916 20 Officers and 526 Other Ranks of "A" and "B" Coys embarked on the H.T Oriana and set sail at 8am. The ship sailed to Malta where it rested for 2 hours before setting sail once more, they passed the island of Sardinia at 10am on 2nd July and arrived in the French port of Marseilles at 7pm on 3rd July.  By 8.30am on the morning of the 4th July Walter and his comrades were entrained, and on their way to Rouen.  The "C" and "D" Coys were met over the coming days, being full strength by 10th July.  For the rest of July the battalion was split, each Coy was given different objectives, some received further training, others were sent on working parties.

August 1916 a month into the Somme attack, many thousands of soldiers wounded, missing and killed in action.  The 9th Sherwood's had relieved the 9th Rifle Brigade in the trenches near to Arras on 28th July. The month was relatively quiet, regular enemy aircraft flying overhead, occasional gas attack alerts, enemy fire and time spent as working parties, fixing wire and making good the trenches.  The men were relieved on 18th August and returned to Headquarters at Berneville.

The battalion then spent 10 days at Gouy-En-Artios where they received many days worth of training, which the war diary records as having included numerous lectures.  On to Astree Wamin and more training and then on 3rd September the battalion arrived at Acheux where they received lectures on Battalion Attack.  It would appear that the allies were taking no chances and wanted their men to be fully educated and ready to produce an effective attack on the enemy.  A small rest bite from combat, but no time for relaxation.




School time over....

Walter's further education was at an end and so on 6th September the battalion relieved the 13th Cheshire Regiment in the trenches just south of Thiepval.  They remained in the trenches under some very heavy enemy fire.  On 12th September just before they were to be relieved the battalion war diary tells "Enemy send over large number of tear shells which exploded in our trenches.  It was suspected that poisonous gas shells were mixed up with these.  Gas helmets were worn and no casualties occurred".  At 6am the men fell into the reserve trenches when they were relieved by the 6th Lincolnshire Regiment. 

Over the coming days the men were moved in and out of trenches. There was great artillery fire by the British, which were a success and enemy prisoners were taken.  The Germans then retaliated bombarding the 9th Battalions occupied trench, "Constance Trench" "was heavily shelled by enemy with whizz-bangs".  

On 22nd September the men were relieved once more and returned to Mailley Mallet where they rested and undertook a parade, with new clothing issued.  On 24th September the men rehearsed the forthcoming attack on Thiepval.  Orders were given that the men should be ready to move at short notice, Walter and his friends would be aware that the coming attack was to be the culmination of the weeks of training and rehearsals.  

26th September 1916....

The men found themselves once more stationed in Constance Trench, ready for the coming attack on Thiepval.  They were reported as all being in position by 3.30am on the morning of 26th September.  They were then given "M & V rations* and tea was sent up during the morning" .

Once fed, the men were moved into positions ready for "the whistle signal at ZERO 12.35pm".  During the attack the battalion received many casualties, however it also took many prisoners and large scale items of equipment were also claimed from the enemy.  The battalion were part of the 33rd Brigade of the 11th Division which successfully captured Zollern and Hessian Trenches, despite heavy machine gun fire at times.  It is said to have suffered 600 casualties

The battle carried on into 27th September, on 28th the battalion spent time in consolidating Joseph Trench, they were shelled throughout their work.

The heroic fighting by all of the 11th Division was noted in a memo sent from General Sir H Gough, Commanding Reserve Army.  It reads;


"My best congratulations to you and your division on 
their gallant fighting today and throughout the
successful operations in which you have been engaged 
since the capture of the WONDER WORK.

You have all done splendid work"


Walter was presumed dead on the date of 26th September when he partook in the "splendid work" along with his comrades in arms of the 11th Division.  The action became known as The Battle of Thiepval Ridge.


Walter was reported missing in action, presumed dead on 26th September 1916.  He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France.  Ref pier and face 10C 10D & 11A.





Private 24704 Walter Furness was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star Medals for his service.  

Harry was remembered in the Derbyshire Times 4th November 1916 page 8, with a photograph on page 5. The obituary read....


"Another name to be added to the roll of 
honour is that of Pte. Walter Furniss (sic) 
a son of Mr and Mrs Alfred Furniss (sic)  of Bamford Street.

The first misgiving that all was not well was 
caused through receipt of several photos, which were sent
to their married daughter who resided in Eyam.  The 
soldier stated that he had found them on the battlefield
bearing her address.  Since then the parents have 
received a letter from the soldier above referred to, who
regrets to say that Walter was killed in the great advance.
He had come across the body and extracted some 
photos and letters before interment.  He assures them
that their son died a true soldiers death, and expresses
sympathy with them at their loss.

Pte. Furness was a well-built young fellow of 24.  He 
joined the Sherwoods in the early stages of War, and 
having been in France a long time had shared in much heavy 
fighting.  He was a well known footballer and cricketer.  
Formerly he worked on the surface at Markham No1 Colliery,
belonging to Staveley Coal and Iron Co. but later he received
an offer of employment at the Glapwell Colliery, where
he became a playing member of their Cricket Club.  

The date he was killed is not known"




Life went on....

Alfred and Sarah Ann, Walter's parents are recorded as living at Bamford Street on various documentation after Walter's death.  Sarah Ann died first in 1920 aged 68 years, Alfred a year later in 1921 aged 72.

Mary Ann and Job continued to live in Eyam. They had another child, a daughter named Emily May in 1913. Mary Ann lived until aged 85 years old when she died in 1957.  Job died in 1941.

Emily and James two more daughter's; Alice in 1912 and Adelaide in 1916.  In 1939 Emily, James and Adelaide were living at 11 London Street, New Whittington.  James worked as a miner, below ground. Emily died in 1955 aged 77 years old,  James ten years later in 1965.

Thomas and Ethel lived in West Handley.  They had another daughter in 1922 named Hazel.  Thomas worked as a coal miner.  He died in 1944 aged 64 years of age.  

Alfred married Elizabeth Heywood in 1914.  The couple had a son named Stanley in 1916.  In 1939 Alfred was recorded as being employed as club steward.  He lived at 156 High Street, New Whittington.  Alfred died in 1953 aged 65 years of age.

Elizabeth married John Ward in 1911.  The couple had four children; Eilleen in 1914, Walter in 1917 (no doubt named after his brave uncle Walter who had lost his life the year earlier),Thomas 1920 and Sheila 1927.  Elizabeth and John appear to have remained in New Whittington, living at 150 Devonshire Avenue in 1939.  Elizabeth died in 1958 aged 67 years old.

*M & V rations are Meat and Vegetable rations.  See the link to read more about the food and rations during WW1.

*****

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Walter Furness 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.

*****


Ref and further reading  -
Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper articles - 
                               - Derbyshire Times 4th November 1916 p8 & 5


Battle of Thiepval Ridge

http://www.cwgc.org/the-somme/battle-of-the-somme/morval-and-thiepval-ridge.aspx

http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_thiepval_ridge.html









Sunday, 25 September 2016

DENNIS REDFERN STUART

DENNIS REDFERN STUART


Private 20246

10th Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Missing presumed dead - 25th September 1916


Dennis was the son of Jane and Joseph Stuart.  Born at Barrow Hill in early 1886 Dennis was baptised on 25th February at Staveley Parish Church.

Jane, Dennis' mother had married Joseph on 17th July 1876 at North Wingfield.  Jane's maiden name was Cutts and she was born in Hasland around 1845.  She had a son before she married Joseph; Charles Sneath Bennett was born in 1871.  It looks likely that Jane had married his father that same year, a man named James Bennett.  However, this would need to be confirmed with the marriage and birth certificates.

And so by 1881 the Stuart family were settled and living at 11 Furnace Hill, Staveley.  Joseph was employed as a pipe moulder.  Charles was aged 9 years old and the couple had two daughters; Florence 4 and Lizzie 2 years of age.  

Another son was born in 1884 named Joseph Harry after his father, but then sadly in the winter of 1885/86 young Lizzie died aged just 7 years old.  Dennis was born around the time that Lizzie died, it must have been a terrible time for Jane and Joseph and the Stuart family.

1891 brought even more heartache for the family, when the head of the household Joseph died aged 39 years old.  Leaving Jane to bring up her four children alone.  Whether they moved before or after Joseph's death is not known, but on the 1891 census Jane and three of her children were living at Meadow Cottage in Barrow Hill.  Charles was aged 19 years old and luckily was able to work to bring some money into the household, he was an apprentice iron moulder.  The Stuart family shared the house with another family, they occupied three of the rooms and the Needham family took the other two rooms.  

Florence was not at home on the 1891 census, she was visiting Herbert and Zylpha Fox in Oldham.  Zylpha was from Brimington in Chesterfield.

Ten years on in 1901 Dennis was aged 15 years and old was working his apprenticeship as an iron moulder. He lived at 105 Barrow Hill with his mother Jane, Charles, Florence and Joseph and a little 4 year old boy named Hubert.  Hubert was the son of Florence, born on 16th March 1897.  


Wedding bells....

The Stuart family had reason to celebrate in the first decade of the 20th Century; Florence, Joseph and Dennis all tied the knot and married their sweethearts.

Florence married George Cresswell in 1903, George was working as a railway guard.  He lived at Barrow Hill but was born in Stoke Orchard in Gloucestershire.

Joseph married Mary Ellen Brookes at St Annes Church in Sale, Cheshire.  They married on 1905.

Dennis married Sarah Barnes on 27th August 1906 at Staveley Parish Church.  

Sadly it was not all happiness as Dennis's mother Jane died in 1908 aged 63 years old.  

1911 the eve of war....

Dennis and Sarah were living at 105 Wellington Street, New Whittington.  Dennis had changed his occupation leaving the dirty noisy environment as an iron moulder, he was now employed as a hairdresser.

Florence and George were living at 105 Barrow Hill, George was still working as a goods guard for Midland Railways.  The couple had four children of their own; Gladys 7, Harry 6, Mabel 5 and Nellie 3 years of age. Florence's son Hubert and her bother Charles were both living with the Cresswell family, they were both employed at the iron foundry.

Joseph had sadly lost his young wife, Mary Ellen died in 1908 aged 30 years old.  In 1911 Joseph was lodging with William Riley and his family at 78 West Street, Eckington.  Joseph had also changed his career and like his brother Dennis he was employed as a hairdresser.



Dennis' war....

The service records for Dennis do not exist, but we know that he joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.  

He was attached to the 10th Battalion and took the soldier rank and number; Private 20246.  The 10th were a part of the 64th Brigade, 21st Division.  They landed, along with the 9th Battalion KOYLI in France in September 1915.

The battalion took part in some of the most well known battles of the Great War; including the infamous Battle of the Somme.  The men made their way to the village of Buire on 26th June, in preparation for the coming attack.  They had already worked hard in transporting gas cylinders and equipment to the trenches in the days prior to this.

On 30th June both the 9th and 10th battalions took up their assembly positions, side by side they would go into battle.  Not all of the battalion would be in action, some men were ordered to stay behind to wait for the call for reinforcements, they were stationed at Bus Wood.  Whether Dennis was present is not known.

On 22nd September 1916 the 10th battalion moved into the trenches at Bernafay Wood, where they remained preparing for the attack on Goudecourt which began on 25th September.  The day of the attack came and the men were fed and watered well, they had their full provisions of equipment including SOS rockets, ammunition, orders of attack and signal flares.  They moved out of the trenches at12.35.  The acting 2nd in Command Major C A Millward wrote "the noise was awful, but it made one feel proud to see what our munition workers and Great Britain had been able to accomplish"......."all reports were good at first".

It soon became apparent that confusion had occurred, it appears that the flares used by the Germans were very similar to those used by the B.E.F.  These flares had misled our aircraft and the result was that the men had not got as far as originally thought.  The trenches were also mixed with men from various regiments, due to the location errors.

Many of the men were killed and wounded during this action, "the communication trenches were much blocked with wounded".  After a while a message was received stating that the B.E.F had not got as far as the German's front line trenches, as they thought they had taken them, this was not the case.  The front wires were all still intact, the German's were directly in front of the wounded and weary B.E.F.  They were however, still ordered to continue their attack and move forward.

The situation paused whilst the men reformed and gathered their equipment.  They were still preparing when from out of nowhere they noticed "thick white smoke travelling along in front of it - a "tank".  Twenty minutes later and they saw "streams of German's coming across no mans land to surrender".  The German Captain "a coarse looking brute" explained how he and his men had been cut off and when they saw the tank coming up behind they had no other option but to surrender.  The memo by Major Millward stated that 362 men were counted.

Would Dennis have been alive to see this great spectacle? Would he have witnessed the use of the early "tank"? The whole concept behind the use of such a machine was under a trial and error strategy.  We can only begin to imagine how shocking such a beast moving across the earth would appear to the men who were used to trench warfare.




Dennis was reported missing in action, presumed dead on 25th September 1916.  He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France.  Ref pier and face 11C & 12A.





Private 20246, Dennis Redfern Stuart was awarded the Victory and British Medals for his service.

Life went on....

Sarah Stuart the wife of Dennis may have married a George Whitehead in 1920.  If this is correct then she possibly died in 1931 aged 45 years old.  (Further checking needs to be carried out to confirm this, possible marriage certificate required).

Charles Sneath Bennett never married.  He lived with his sister Florence and her family at 105 Barrow Hill. He died on 11th August 1935 and his administration of £118 15s went to his sister Florence Cresswell.

Florence remained living in the area.  She was recorded as living at 105 Barrow Hill on the 1939 Register, with two lodgers who were both employed by LMS Railways.  Her husband George Cresswell was living at 30 Lime Avenue, Stavely.  He is living with his step son (Florence's son) Hubert and Mary Jane Stuart and their daughter's Doris and Marjorie.  Florence died in 1945 aged 68 years old.

Joseph found happiness again and married Phyllis Brier in 1917.  He was serving with the 21st Battalion Prince of Wales Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) at the time.  He was promoted up to Lance Sergeant 21/72.  



Unfortunately Joseph's service record hasn't survived and there is no date of entry into theatre of war on his medal card, so it is not known when he actually enlisted.  He was not awarded the 15 Star however, indicating he most likely enlisted after that date.  He did serve right up to the very end of the Great War but was wounded and died of his wounds on 22nd September 1918.  

Joseph is buried at Ligny-St Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt, France.  He has a headstone with the sign of the cross and the chosen words of his widow Phyllis read;

"TOO DEARLY LOVED TO BE FORGOTTEN"

Joseph was mentioned in despatches for his service.   His notice can be found in the London Gazette, 24th December 1918, supplement 31083, page 15127.

The CWGC records that Phyllis was living at 136 Lister Lane, Halifax at the time of Joseph's death.  She would receive his medals the Victory and British Medal and later the Oak Leaf emblem which was to signify that Joseph had been mentioned in dispatches.  

To read more about Joseph Harry Stuart please click here where you can read his story.  What became of Phyllis after the war is not known. If anyone can add to her story please feel free to comment below or drop me an email.

Hubert Stuart the son of Florence, nephew of Dennis also served during WW1.  He enlisted at Staveley town on 9th March 1915, aged just 19 years old.  Hubert lived at 24 Barrow Hill and worked as a miner prior to the war.  Hubert served as a driver with the Royal Field Artillery L/11260.  He arrived in France on 8th January 1916 and remained there until 17th September 1918.  

He was eventually allowed and I am sure, well over due a furlough; from 18th September until 1st October 1918.  He had a very special time whilst he was home on leave, he married his sweetheart Mary Jane Stratton at Staveley Parish Church. The couple married on 25th September 1918.

Hubert arrived back in France on 2nd October 1918 and continued serving until 21st December 1918 when he was finally released to duties as a coal miner.  He returned home on the H.S Princess Victoria on 27th December 1918, home to his new wife Mary Jane.  

Hubert would have witnessed many horrors during his time with the RFA.  He would live with these memories for the rest of his life.  He was in France to witness that great day on 11th November 1918 when the Armistice was finally agreed and the hope of peace for all nations would be more than a glimmer of hope.  

After Hubert's return to Barrow Hill he had reason to celebrate at the birth of his first daughter Doris on 8th April 1920, another daughter followed many years later on 8th July 1933.  Hubert and Mary Jane lived at 40 Lime Avenue, Staveley and he died in 1976.

*****

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Dennis Redfern Stuart 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.


*****


Ref and further reading  -
Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper articles - 






Friday, 9 September 2016

HARRY GRIFFIN

HARRY GRIFFIN

Private S/9728

8th/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Killed in action - 9th September 1916



Harry Griffin was the son of John and Selina Griffin.  Born in New Whittington in the early months of 1891, Harry was one of ten children in the Griffin family. 


Derbyshire Times 3rd April 1875 p 5

Harry's parents John Griffin and Selina Adams married on 1st April 1875.  They were married at Chesterfield Parish Church, The Crooked Spire.  It was a joint wedding celebration as Selina's sister Charlotte married her husband Henry Baxter at the same time.  

Selina was a local girl, born in Brimington but John was from Northamptonshire.  Their first child was born later that same year, a son named John after his father.  Another son followed in 1879 named James and a daughter named Jane was born in 1881.  The census of that same year finds the Griffin family living on London Street.  John snr was a fireman employed by Midland Railways.

By the 1891 census John and Selina had five more children; Walter 1883, Constance Ethel 1885, Bertie 1887, Fred 1889 and Harry in 1891. Sadly for the family little Constance died in 1889, she was just four years of age.  John had been promoted to engine driver, a good career move.  The better wages may have influenced the family moving home to live on Wellington Street.

More loss for the Griffin family....


Derbyshire Times 6th March 1897 p5

Another daughter was born in 1894, Elsie Eleanor was the last child for the Griffin family.  On 1st March 1897 more bad news befell the family when John, the head of the household died aged just 46 years old. The year later in 1898 more sadness came when Harry's elder brother James also died.  James was 18 years of age and was buried at Whittington on 14th February 1898.


The next decade....

Harry and his mother Selina and siblings Walter, Bertie, Fred and Elsie were still living at 87 Wellington Street.  Harry was aged 10 years of age and would attend school.  Walter, aged 18 years worked as a pony driver at the coal mines; Bertie aged 14 years worked at the brush factory.

The rest of the family had married and started their own lives;

John jnr married Mary Maria Brough on 31st July 1899 at Whittington. His first son, Percy was born in 1901.  The young family were living at 22 Cross Wellington Street.  John was employed as a railway engine stoker, following in his fathers footsteps.

Jane had married her sweetheart John Thomas Bakeman in the early months of 1900.  A daughter named Gladys was 7 months old in 1901, when the family lived at 26 Cross Wellington Street (just a few doors away from her brother John and his family).  Jane's husband was also employed by the railways, he worked as a guard. 

1911 the eve of WW1....

Harry, mum Selina, Bertie, Fred and Elsie still lived at 87 Wellington Street.  Harry was now earning a wage as he worked as a coal filler below ground.  His brothers Bertie and Fred both worked at the Iron Foundry.  

John jnr and Mary had moved home to 36 South Street.  John was still working as a loco engine stoker. Percy was now 10 years old and they also had a young daughter called after her Grandmother; Selina aged 4 years old.  The couple had also lost a daughter named Ivy; born in 1905 Ivy died that same year.

Jane and John Bakeman had moved across the road to 15 Cross Wellington Street.  They have a son named Arthur who was just 1 year old.  John had slightly changed his employment, still employed by the railways he was a railway traffic foreman.  

Walter married Beatrice Pateman in 1908 at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.  Beatrice was born in Melton Mowbray and so when the couple married they lived with her parents John and Mary Pateman, at 5 Park Avenue, Melton Mowbray.  Walter was employed as an iron pipe maker.  They had two daughters; Elise Hannah and Edith Mary.




Harry's war....

Harry's service records have not survived but it is possible to build a picture of his service from his medal card, CWGC certificate, obituary and the war diary.

Harry joined the Gordon Highlanders in April 1915, Private S/9728. When he died he was attached to the 8th/10th Battalion.  This battalion was the result of the 8th and 10th battalion's merging in the May of 1916.  They were part of the 44th Brigade, 15th Scottish Division.

In June 1916 the two battalions had been working together for a couple of weeks. They were based at Vermelles in France when the news of the "Great Battle of Jutland"  the war diary tells "which reads most disastrous for us".  The morale of the men was probably put down immensely upon hearing the loss of fourteen British Naval Ships.  

Only days later the war diary is telling of another tragedy for the troops "Persistent rumours during the afternoon of the drowning of Lord Kitchener were confirmed in afternoon much to the consternation of all ranks".  Lord Kitchener was the British Minister for War, he was drowned off the coast of Orkney when the ship he was on board named the "Hampshire" hit a German mine.  

For the men of the 8th/10th Gordon Higlanders the days were spent undertaking training, carrying out tasks as working parties and being bombarded by mortar bombs and several gas attacks by the Germans.

Accidental bomb fatality....

The battalion were stationed at La Bourse on 1st July 1916 when 2nd Lieutenant Riddel was demonstrating how to use a general grenade. the said grenade accidentally exploded, killing Riddel and wounding 20 other men.  The 2nd Lieutenant was described as a "valuable and gallant officer", he was given a funeral that same afternoon at Sailly Sur Bourse.  

News also filtered throughout that day that the 3rd and 4th British Armies had commenced an advance over 17 miles of area known as the Somme.  

Harry and his colleagues were put to some heavy work mending and building some very poor trenches around the areas La Bourse and Vermelles.  Interestingly the numbers of prisoners that had been taken at the Somme offensive were relayed to Harry and the battalions; no where however did the war diary state that they were aware of the number of casualties which had been sustained during that terrible attack.

Off to The Somme....

The end of July into the early days of August the men marched many miles, they were on their way to play their parts in that great offensive at the Somme.  They arrived at Albert on 8th August 1916 where they took up their position in reserve.  Over the coming days the battalion were under some very heavy bombardment, moving each day to a different position.  The war diary describes the trenches that the men had to occupy as "mere ditches having been heavily bombarded by our own artillery in capturing them and badly damaged since by the Enemys heavy guns".

On 23rd August Harry may well have witnessed a French plane being brought down close to their trenches, amazingly the pilot escaped unhurt.  The month of August in the trenches around Contalmasion was a terrifying month of making progress, taking prisoners to being heavily shelled and bombarded by the enemy. Eventually on 30th August a reprieve was given and the battalion were marching away from the fighting past Albert to rest.  They were even given "an issue of rum which the men required badly and much appreciated".

September 1916....

Now resting in Bivouac Harry and his friends would enjoy the relative peace, the camp was said to have been made "comfortable and cheerful".  Reinforcements arrived to join the battalion, some experienced soldiers returning after being injured and some newer recruits.

On 9th September the battalion were relieving in the trenches at Bazentin Le Petit.  The days dairy states that the relief went without concern, other than a German aeroplane watching closely overhead. The diary does however state that "some of our own 18 par guns are also firing short and we had 3 casualties (1 killed) from them".  

The battalion set about digging new trenches, but were witnessed by the enemy which opened rapid fire on them.  The reported casualty figures for that day of 9th September 1916 were -


Killed - 5
Wounded - 15
Missing -1

Private Harry Griffin S/9728 was killed on 9th September 1916.  




Private Harry Griffin is buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, France; grave reference IV. J. 10.  His grave is marked simply with the sign of the cross, no other inscriptions were added by Harry's family.



Private S/9728 Harry Griffin was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star Medals for his service.  Harry's medal card was incorrectly labeled with the spelling GriffEn.

Harry was remembered in the Derbyshire Times 23rd September 1916 page 4, along with a photograph the obituary read....

"News filtered through last weekend stating that Pte. Harry Griffin,
of the Gordon Highlanders, who lived with his widowed mother
at New Whittington, had fallen in action.

The deceased a sturdily built young fellow of 26, joined 
the Gordons in April 1915, and after his period of training
went to France some nine months ago.  Before enlisting
he worked as a miner at Oxcroft Colliery.

In a letter to his mother the Chaplain says-
"I regret to inform you that your son was killed on September 9th.
It was my sad duty to perform the burial service.  His grave is
situated near a small wood called Villa Wood, and 
a suitable cross inscribed with his name and regiment
has been erected on the grave.  May I offer you my
sincere sympathy.  He has laid down his life in a 
great and noble cause, and I am sure he is now reaping
the reward of his sacrifice.  May every Divine consolation
be yours in your sorrow".

His Platoon Lieutenant also writes:-
"I regret to say your son was killed by a shell while
bravely doing his duty in the front line.  He was in the 
Machine Gun Section and I always found him a brave,
steady man, and I deeply regret his loss.  His death
must be a heavy blow to you, but you have the consolation
that he died in the glorious service of his country
like many (an)other brave fellow".

Mrs Blakeman, a sister of the dead soldier, also received 
a letter from one of his chums, who was on the point
of leaving for a furlough.  In it he says he and Harry 
were always together and were in the trenches on 8th
September when he received his pass for leave.  Before departing he gave me a belt and asked that I would send it you in 
New Whittington.  Soon after this conversation Harry 
was instantly killed by a shell.  In concluding the writer says 
there is nothing to regret in his death; he died a hero
for King and Country, and those at home"

Life went on....

Selina Griffin Harry's mother died in 1919.  

John jnr and his wife Mary lost their eldest son Percy in the autumn of 1911, aged just 10 years of age.  The young boy was sadly buried on 6th December 1911 at Whittington.  The couple went on to have another daughter named Phoebe in 1913.  John died in Chesterfield in 1951 and Mary lived on until 1961.

Annie Griffin is missing from the 1901 and 1911 census.  Whether she died or married is not known at this time.  If anyone can add to her story please do let me know.

Jane and John Bakeman remained living in New Whittington with their two children.  John died in 1935.  On the 1939 Register Jane was living alone at 62 Brearley Avenue.  She died in 1949 aged 68 years old.

Walter and his wife Beatrice spent their lives in Melton Mowbray.  They had another son named John in 1918.  Walter and his family were living at 23 Elms Road in 1939.  He was employed as a transport crane driver. Walter died in 1961, Beatrice not long after in 1962.

Bertie married Annie Leeson in 1913.  On 1st September 1919 they named their son after Bertie's heroic brother; Harry Gordon (was the middle name Gordon taken from Harry's regiment the Gordon Highlanders?).  Bertie was employed as a colliery washerman.  The family lived at 35 Tapton View Road, Stonegravels. Bertie died on 11th January 1947.  He left his estate to his wife Annie and the sum of £558 15s 2d.

Fred married Bertha Bradbury in 1916.  The couple had a daughter named Hilda that same year.  Fred was employed as a slaters labourer. In 1939 he was living at 5 Devonshire Avenue, New Whittington with Bertha, Hilda and his mother in law Ada Bradbury.  Fred died in 1954 aged 65 years of age.

Elsie Eleanor was wed to Albert Taylor in 1915.  She had a son also named Albert in 1916.  The Taylor family remained in New Whittington, living at 107 Wellington Street.  Albert snr was employed as a fitter at the iron works.  Young Albert was an engineers time clerk.  Elsie died on 6th October 1978 aged 84 years old.

*****

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Harry Griffin 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.

*****


Ref and further reading  -
Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper articles - 
                               - Derbyshire Times 23rd September 1916 p4