THE FIRST WORLD WAR
A previous iteration of this page on the fallen of the Great War sought to understand how eight men had come to be named on various war memorials in the village. In hindsight, this was a poor approach and, in consequence, this page is now being re-worked to purely state what is known (from primary source documents – although these are not always entirely accurate – and corroborated evidence) about men who served during the War and who lived, or may have lived, in South Willingham at some point; this includes those who lost their lives and those who returned home. Detailed research is time-consuming and this page seeks to learn more of the men named on the various memorials in the village, as well as those who aren’t. In consequence, this page is always going to be a ‘live work-in-progress document’, changing as more information is discovered (for example, only relatively recently the surviving wills of soldiers from the Great War have now been made available – to date those of the Prescott brothers have been accessed) – no-one is infallible and nothing should be taken at face-value, not even official documents; however, all published information can always be used as a ‘spring-board’ for anyone wishing to find out more and proceed to carry out further research if desired. The South Willingham History Group is always delighted to receive information, whether on this subject or any other relating to the history of the village.
What you see below is the result of a considerable amount of research and several people have helped with the information contained in this page, most notably Chris Chesney and Charles Anderson. I would also like to thank Mike Credland for his generous loan of ephemera relating to Edmund Rhodes, as well as my Aunt Biny for sharing information and personal items relating to Edmund.
NOTES ON THE FALLEN
The first named on the roll of honour hung in St Martin’s Church is one Edwin Rhodes. A search of the CWGC database revealed no one by the name of Edwin Rhodes. I did note, however, that one Edmund Rhodes, Private 14384, 1st Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment and son of Hannah Rhodes, featured in the records. Edmund, who enlisted with the Lincolnshire Regiment at Louth, died June 16 1915, aged 18 in ‘Flanders fields’, having arrived in France on 30 April that year. He died from wounds received in the fighting around Hooge, in the Ypres Salient. Edmund has no known grave and his name is inscribed on the Ypres Memorial at the Menin Gate – an inscription on a stone wall and, still in the safe keeping of the family, his Victory Medal, British War Medal and 1914-15 Star, seemed to be all that remained to recall the life of a young man, nay, a boy, who gave his life for ‘God, King and Country’ (the British War Medal was a silver or bronze medal awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 inclusive; the 1914-15 Star was awarded to all who saw service in any theatre of war against the Central Powers between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 (except those eligible for the 1914 Star) and the Victory Medal was awarded to all those who received the 1914, or 1914-15 Star, and the British War Medal).
Edmund was born to Hannah Rhodes on 20 February 1897 at Covenham St Bartholomew, near Louth, Hannah being one of William Rhodes’ six daughters. Unfortunately, Edmund’s birth certificate does not reveal the name of his father, but his second Christian name, Gray, undoubtedly holds a clue to whom that might have been. In 1901 the Rhodes’ address is recorded as Barkwith Road, South Willingham, whilst in 1911 it is simply ‘South Willingham’. In that 1911 census Edmund is recorded as 14 years of age with the occupation ‘farm boy’. A hard working life, no doubt, but life in this rural idyll would soon be shattered for the farm boy from South Willingham who would end his life in an unknown grave in the fields of Flanders. Where Edmund worked is currently still unknown; his grandfather William worked on the Heneage Estate (where his average pay was 30 shillings a week, altering depending on the seasons, for an average working day of ten and a half hours!) but the only wages book for 1910-1914 that I have so far discovered does not list Edmund and he may have been employed by one of the tenant farmers locally – that, however, remains conjecture at this stage.
1916 saw the Military Service Act passed into law and this imposed conscription on all single men aged 18 to 41, effective January 27 1916, with exemptions for those in essential war time employment, those deemed medically unfit, religious ministers, and conscientious objectors. However, although conscription proved necessary during this time to ensure all those who were eligible enlisted, many of those on the front line had joined the armed forces as volunteers, and Edmund Rhodes was one of these. Patriotism, a thirst for adventure, ‘secure employment’ – one wonders what it was that drove young Edmund to enlist at the age of 17, and who was to become one of the nearly 10,000 men of the Lincolnshire Regiment to lose their lives in the Great War.
Of enormous interest to me is that a distant relation of mine, Henry (Harry) Scott, married Lizzie Rhodes, one of William’s daughters, on February 27 1913; I have a photograph of them on the pathway in front of what was their cottage, the first in the pair of semi-detached cottages owned by the Heneage Estate, on Blacksmith’s Lane. Before her marriage to Harry, Lizzie had worked for Dr Denny at East Barkwith. Harry died young (33 years of age) of influenza, just five years after marrying, but his widow Lizzie survived until July 1964 – I lived across the road from her at East Barkwith for the first twelve years of my life (the last twelve of hers). Interestingly, she had two sons, one of whom was named John Edmund (in remembrance of Edmund Rhodes, Lizzie’s nephew?). John, or ‘Ted’ as he was known to distinguish him from the other four John Scotts who lived in East Barkwith at that time, married Albina ‘Biny’ Pixsley from Spring Gardens, East Barkwith. Biny recalls Hannah Rhodes, Edmund’s mother. Intriguingly, however, Hannah, by then married to Joseph Woodcock of Bardney, was known to the family as ‘Nance’. Biny never knew her as Hannah. But this certainly was Hannah because records show that Hannah, born at Thorganby, is listed on the 1881 census, aged 7, living with her family at Barkwith Road South Willingham. Hannah is next seen in the 1891 census living as a ‘general servant’ with an aunt and uncle in Mablethorpe and then reappears in 1901, four years after Edmund is born at Covenham, as a ‘general domestic servant’ in the service of one William Varlow at Bardney. One of Hannah’s brothers, John Lusby Rhodes is recorded as living at Covenham with his wife in the 1901 census, so Hannah may well have gone to stay with John when she was carrying Edmund? Two years later she marries Joseph Woodcock and in 1911 Hannah and Joseph are recorded as living on Abbey Road, Bardney, with their son William – this is where my aunt Biny recalls them.
The outbreak of World War One soon impinged upon the life of the country and those left at home carried on with such duties as were required. One example of where the remaining population were called upon to perform extra duties was in the area of Parish Constable. Henry Scott, Lizzie’s husband, took up such a position at East Barkwith, where the couple were now living, in February 1915. A letter to him from the Lincolnshire Constabulary, and dated February 15, 1915, read: I am forwarding a Parish Constable armlet, which you are requested to carry in your coat pocket, so that it will be available for immediate use at any time, to prove your authority, should the occasion arise. The armlet must be worn on the left arm, halfway between the elbow and shoulder.
Accompanying the armlet was a copy of the Lincolnshire Constabulary’s ‘General Instructions to Parish Constables’. The leaflet warned that, on penalty of a £5 fine, Parish Constables were ‘held responsible for acting, if necessary without further instruction, in the execution of your duties’. Some of the ‘more important duties’ were listed, variously, as:
‘You shall apprehend, without a warrant if necessary, for any of the following offences: setting fire to house, church building, out-houses, stack or rick; murder, manslaughter, inflicting grievous bodily harm with or without a weapon or instrument; cutting, stabbing or stealing any goods or articles… …You may also arrest any person wandering abroad and lodging in any barn, outhouse or enclosed premises, not having visible means of subsistence and not giving a good account of himself or herself.’
When about to make an arrest, Parish Constables were instructed to distinctly tell the person what the charge was, and to say, ‘I arrest you in the name of the King.’
So, as Edmund went to war, his uncle took up the duties as described. Edmund must have been very close to Lizzie, and he knew her as a sister, rather than an aunt. This is reflected in a letter that he wrote to Lizzie from barracks in Grimsby, the postmark bearing the date 31 January 1915. Edmund’s complete army records do not, unfortunately survive, so he either joined the 5th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment (a territorial unit where enlistment was permitted from age 17), the headquarters of which was at the Drill Hall Grimsby, or he joined (underage?) the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion which trained men up as replacements for the front line units. Originally based at Lincoln, the 3rd moved to Grimsby at the outbreak of war. By the time he went to war, he had transferred to the 1st Battalion. Edmund’s note is headed ‘Wellington St Grimsby’, and in it he describes to Lizzie some of the activities in which he had been engaged. Initially, he begins by suggesting that, although well enough as he wrote the letter, he expected to be quite ill on the morrow. This was due to the fact that he had just received vaccinations, adding that “it is just beginning to take hold of us; I have a lump under my arm the size of a nut”. Edmund then describes a route march that the men had undertaken; “we went nearly to Waltham and we had two rests on the way”, adding that “the officer (who) was with us is a nice man, he let us smoke and talk and sing and he bought five mouth organs for some of them to play so we was alright”. Describing a little more of the training regime he added “I have had ten shots at a target. We have got a 25-yard range put down here now. The first five shots I got a three-inch ring and the next five I got a two-inch ring so I hope I should get a bull the next time we shoot.” The 3rd Battalion was charged with the defence of the coastline on the south side of the Humber and Edmund makes reference to that by writing “Last Sunday we was confined to our rooms all day and all of us had 100 rounds (of ammunition) on us. Four German boats was not far off us but two of them got put under the water for a good job. I should not be surprised if they don’t try to get here before long by what they say.” Interestingly, Edmund signs off with the words ‘with best love from your loving brother Ted’.
Not only was aunt Biny able to add some more flesh to the bones of what little was known of Edmund but, rather poignantly, she gave me a copy of an article which appeared in the Lincolnshire Echo some time after Edmund’s death. In that article was a poem attributed as having been sent home from France by ‘E. Rhodes of South Willingham’.
It is some time ago
Since I left old England’s shore
And went to foreign countries
To fight for home and all
It was hard lines I can tell you
But I soon forgot all that
My eyes were watching something
As I shall ne’er forget.
It was the night we landed
And we all went down the lane
The shot and shell were flying
O’erhead and on our way
And as we neared the bridges
The shells came thick and fast
The captain shouted now my lads
Across that bridge you get.
And two by two he ordered us
Across that bridge to get
So that the enemy could not see us
Or where to fire upon
And then their lights began to shine
Upon the black dark night
To see if they could find us
In fours upon our way.
But as good luck would have it
A large black hedge was there
And there we laid behind it
And they lost us on our way
And there we stayed a little while
Till everything was quiet
And then we went upon our way
As happy as you please
We landed at an old white house
And there we stayed the night
The shot and shell were flying
Above us all the while
We did not sleep but little
As you will understand
And when the morning came again
We were up again quite well
We went then to the trenches
To fight our enemy
We had not been there very long
Before they fired at us
But we did not mind about it
As we fired at them again
And soon we finished the battle
And then went home again
We were not at all downhearted
As the Lord was by our side
He guarded us safe through it all
And brought us home again
And if we only trust Him more
He’ll always be our guide
And take us home to heaven
When we die and leave this earth.
Above: Christmas card sent by Edmund to Lizzie; date unknown, but comparing the hand-writing with that in the letter above one may conclude that this card was sent whilst Edmund was in his teens and it illustrates again the apparent close bond between the two and paints Edmund as a sensitive and caring young man.
Simpson’s History of the Lincolnshire Regiment, taken from the Regiment’s Official History, describes the action in which Edmund lost his life. The 1st Lincolns were to attack Bellewaarde Ridge in the area of Hooge, and by 1.15am on June 16 the battalion was in position, having lost four other-ranks wounded on the march to the front line; it is not thought that Edmund was one of these because if he had been, and had later died from his wounds, he would probably have had a marked grave. After a day of fierce fighting, the Lincolns were relieved by the 4th Gordons at about 9.30pm. The following day, back at Red Wine Camp, a roll call was taken at midday and the reported losses amongst other ranks were 22 killed, three died of wounds, 76 missing and 265 wounded. Edmund, presumably, was among the 76 missing…….
Above: These two photographs (in a frame, with the photo of the man in uniform showing and the other photo behind it) were in a package of items that included Edmund Rhodes’ ‘death plaque’ and commemoration scroll (below). Unfortunately, there is no writing on the reverse of the photos so at this time it cannot be positively said that the man in these photos is Edmund Rhodes. However, the cap badge is certainly that of the Lincolnshire Regiment and the ‘civvy’ photo was taken by Harrisons of Horncastle – in all, three potential pieces of evidence that suggest we may be looking at a picture of our hero………… (with thanks to Mike Credland for finding these items and for their use!)
Above: Edmund Rhodes’ commemorative scroll (with thanks to Mike Credland).
Among the list of names on the Menin Gate for men of the Lincolnshire Regiment can be seen that of Edmund Rhodes (Rhodes E). (With thanks to Charles J. Anderson).
DAVID HAROLD CROW
Following Edmund Rhodes, the second fatality among the eight men listed on the hand-written roll of honour in St Martin’s Church appears to have been a man named as Harold Crow; no firm date of death is given, just 1915. A search of the CWGC database revealed no one by the name of Harold Crow. I did note, however, that one David Harold Crow, Private 23249, 10th Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment featured in the records, and that he had died in 1915, which fitted with the year of death quoted on the roll of honour in the church.
It seems probable that David Harold Crow is the ‘Harold Crow’ listed on the roll of honour. David was born at Donington on Bain in 1894 to parents Charles and Lydia Crow (nee Brown) who had married the previous year, and was the eldest of nine children, the first six of whom were born at Donington.
At the time of the 1911 census David was living with his family at Calcethorpe, near Louth, with the occupation of ‘day boy on farm’; the family had moved from Donington (actually, Welsdale) about 1902. By the time of his enlistment, David was working as a waggoner.
The link with South Willingham appears to come via David’s mother Lydia, for in both the 1901 and 1911 census returns Lydia’s brother David is listed as living at South Willingham with his wife Sarah and daughter Lily.
David’s service records show that he enlisted originally with the Lincolnshire Regiment at Wragby on 1 September 1914. They also give his residence as Louth (possibly Calcethorpe, as in answer to the question on his Attestation Form ‘have you resided out of your father’s house for three years continuously….’ he answered ‘no’).
On 7 September 1914 a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps passed David, at 20 years and four months of age, ‘fit for the army’. Of Wesleyan faith, he was described as being five foot seven and a quarter inches in height, weighing in at 136 lbs (a little under 10 stone) and with blue eyes, a fair and fresh complexion and very light brown hair. From this description we can see that David was of slight build only, which was perhaps a little unusual for his arduous work as a waggoner, although his physical condition was described as ‘good’ by the examining officer.
David remained in the UK for just over a year before being transferred to the Western Front on 10 September 1915. Seven days earlier, on 3 September, he had transferred from the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment (Service No.12165) to the 10th (Service) Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment (Service No.23249).
As with so many young men, David didn’t survive long at the Front. The Army casualty form lists him as being ‘killed in action, in the field, about 26.9.15’. 26 September 1915 was the second day of the Battle of Loos and, having no known grave, David is commemorated on the Loos Memorial adjacent to Dud Corner Cemetery (his name is also on a memorial tablet in St Faith’s Church, Kelstern as well as the roll of honour in St Martin’s Church South Willingham). On this second day, the attacking British forces were decimated by machine gun fire, although it is not possible to say if David was a casualty of this murderous fire. Dud Corner Cemetery stands almost on the site of a German strong point, the Lens Road Redoubt, captured by the 15th (Scottish) Division on the first day of the battle. The name ‘Dud Corner’ is believed to relate to the large number of unexploded enemy shells found in the neighbourhood after the Armistice. The Loos Memorial forms the sides and back of Dud Corner Cemetery, and commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave, who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay.
On 29 April 1919 Lydia Crow filled in Army Form W5060 ‘Statement of names and addresses of all relatives of the deceased that are now living’. The address for herself and her husband is given as Hall Farm Binbrook, and David’s uncle – David Brown – is listed as South Willingham (so too a Joseph Brown, another uncle). In earlier correspondence (1916) Lydia’s address is given as ‘Lambcroft’ Binbrook Lane, Louth; however, I believe that this may actually have been Lambcroft Cottages on the road between Calcethorpe and Binbrook as it passes by the old airfield of Kelstern – that part of the road closest to Binbrook is known as Blands Hill whilst the section between Lambcroft Cottages and the Calcethorpe/Kelstern crossroads is unnamed, although it may have been known as ‘Binbrook Lane’ 100 years ago. Three days earlier Lydia had signed for a book forwarded to her by the Infantry Records Office at York, the only item of personal property received by that office up to that time. It seems likely that the book, and the three medals to which David was entitled (Victory Medal, British War Medal and 1915 Star), are the only items that his mother took possession of following his death three and a half years earlier.
Correspondence between Lydia Crow and the War Office provide another clue to the belief that David Harold Crow is the Harold Crow named on the roll of honour. In a letter to the War Office concerning the remainder of David’s possessions, Lydia refers to him as Private D. Harold Crow; this probably indicates that he was known as ‘Harold’.
At no time are David Harold Crow’s parents referred to as living at South Willingham, and neither is David himself. There is, of course, the possibility that he may have lodged with his uncle (or elsewhere) in South Willingham for a short time, but we currently have no evidence of this and, as usual, welcome anyone to contact us if they have any further information on this man.
The beautiful memorial tablet in St Faith’s Church Kelstern which bears the name of David Crow (David Harold Crow)
GEORGE EDWARD PRESCOTT
George Edward Prescott, at twenty years of age, had yet to reach his Majority.
Unfortunately, we know precious little about George’s short life and of his brief service in the Army (many Army service records from WWI were lost during a bombing raid in WWII, George Prescott’s apparently being amongst them).
Born at South Willingham on 27 November 1895 to parents Charles William and Mary Ann Prescott and baptised at South Willingham on 1 March 1896, George is recorded in the 1901 census as living with his parents on Barkwith Road. By the time of the 1911 census, however, the family is recorded as living at Tibbs Inn, Hainton. It appears that the family returned to South Willingham again because in his will, made out on July 27 1916, George requests that ‘In the event of my death I leave the whole of my effects to my mother, Mrs Mary Prescott, South Willingham, Lincoln’.
At the time of his enlistment, George may have been living close by at Burgh-on-Bain, as an obituary in the Louth and North Lincs Advertiser held the words ‘In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. G. E. Prescott, of Brough-on-Bain, who was killed in action, Oct. 21st. 1916’. (Note: Burgh-on-Bain is very often spoken as ‘Brough-on-Bain’ by those local to the area; also, Tibbs Inn, usually referred to as being in Hainton, sits close to the boundary of the three Parishes of Hainton, South Willingham and Burgh on Bain. Interestingly too, a map of the county produced in 1824 under the direction of a Major Colby, Royal Engineers, shows the village named as ‘Brough-on-Bain’).
With regard to George’s service career, we know that he enlisted at Lincoln, with the Lincolnshire Regiment, and was allotted Service Number 4729. However, he then transferred to the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment as 40633 Private George Edward Prescott.
Little further is known except that he is listed as being killed on 21 October 1916 and, with no known grave, is recorded on the Pier and Face 10D of the Thiepval Memorial. (George is also commemorated on the war memorial at Stainfield, on a tablet set into the parish hall at South Willingham and in St Martin’s Church South Willingham). We do, however, know from Army records that he was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. As there is no mention of the award of either the 1914 Star, or the 1914-1915 Star we may presume that he did not arrive in France until 1916, which seems to be supported by the date recorded on his will and a later newspaper article reporting his death.
On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916, George amongst them.
Adding a final twist to the mystery surrounding the life and fate of George Edward Prescott is that his name appears on the war memorial at Stainfield……… …….but perhaps there is a simple answer to this. George’s Uncle John, brother to George’s father Charles, lived at Low Apley. The Prescott family locally suffered terribly during the Great War. John and Fanny Prescott lost two sons, Charles Henry and George Frederick; both are commemorated on the War Memorial outside St Andrew’s Church and it seems as though George’s name may have been added later, as the style of the inscription is slightly different. I felt that perhaps the family decided to add George’s name to the memorial at Stainfield, but if that was the case what of his brother Frederick, for his name does not appear on the memorial.
The answer appears to lie in a report taken from the Louth and North Lincs Advertiser dated 2 December 1916:
“George Edward Prescott.
We are sorry to report the death of Pte. George Edward Prescott, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Prescott, of South Willingham, who was killed in action on October 21st. He would have been 21 years old on the 27th of November. His mother, who first received the sad news from the War Office on November 21st has the consolation that he did not suffer much pain. Before enlisting he worked on the farm of Mr. Shuttleworth, Stainfield, being there about a year and five months. He joined the Lincolns, and, having finished his training, went abroad in July with the Lincolnshire Regiment. He was transferred, with several of his pals, into the Essex Regiment. The news of his death came to his parents, relatives and friends as a great shock, as deceased had been abroad only about four months. His letters home and to his friends were always in a cheerful strain. He was ever willing to do his duty.”
The answer to George’s name appearing on the war memorial at Stainfield appears therefore to be linked to his employment at Stainfield. As ever, the actual facts are difficult to pin down at this remove of time, as one would have expected that George might have been living at Stainfield at the time too – but the earlier reference to his obituary appears to place him elsewhere……….
Above: The War Memorial in the grounds of St Andrew’s Church Stainfield and, below, a close-up showing the name of George E Prescott inscribed upon it. The inscription on the memorial reads: ‘In honoured memory of the men of Stainfield and Apley who died for their country and the world’s freedom in the Great War 1914-1918.’
The obituary published in the Louth & North Lincs Advertiser 20 October 1917:
“In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. G. E. Prescott, of Brough-on-Bain, who was killed in action, Oct. 21st. 1916.A sudden change, at God’s command he fell, He had no chance to bid his dear friends farewell, Affliction came, without warning given, And bade him with haste meet his God in heaven. Though young in years, I was cut down, No longer could I stay; For it was my Father’s will. To call me hence away. Somewhere in France, God’s acre holds The earthly part of him we love, Somewhere in heaven the Saviour folds, With loving arms his soul above.
From his sorrowing parents, brothers and sisters and brother (Frederick – ed) in France.”
THOMAS HENRY THARRATT
Born at North Willingham on 5 June 1879, where his family farmed Dawson’s Barn Farm, Thomas Henry Tharratt is the third man listed on the roll of honour in St Martin’s Church.
Born to parents George Thomas and Jane Locker Tharratt (nee Row) who were married in 1864, Thomas remained a bachelor. His mother died in 1906, followed five years later by his father. The headstone can be seen in St Martin’s churchyard and if one looks closely it will be seen that the inscription for Thomas’ mother reads Jane Looker Tharratt.
By the time of the 1891 census the Tharratts had moved to South Willingham and were farming at The Grange, Barkwith Road (farmed for many years now by the Hyland family). Ten years later the family address is Rectory Farm (possibly the same as The Grange as the farm was, and is, owned by the Church Commission), although Thomas does not appear on the census record. By the time of the 1911 census both parents have died, and Thomas is listed along with two housekeepers at an address given simply as South Willingham. Now aged 32, it seems that Thomas was now a farmer in his own right.
Four years later, and according to his Attestation, Thomas was called upon to enlist. This seems somewhat strange given Thomas’ profession, although he may have been sharing Belmont Farm with his brother William at this time. So it was, at close on 36 years of age, Thomas Henry Tharratt enlisted at Lincoln on 23 March 1915. A tall man for the day, at a quarter of an inch under six feet, no other details are given on the available records to describe Thomas. He joined the 10th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment before being posted to the 11th (Reserve) Battalion on 11 October that year. On 31 August 1916 a posting to the 3rd Battalion was quickly followed by embarkation for France. Leaving Folkestone on 13 September 1916, Private 1407 Thomas Henry Tharratt set sail for Calais, never to return to these shores. He was officially transferred to the 9th Battalion on the following day, 14 September.
The Somme battles of 1916, in which all battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment took part, alternated with periods in training camps or in the drudgery, discomfort and, of course, the danger of tours in the trenches. The 1st Lincolnshire was moved back to the Brigade Camp near Fricourt on 22 September. It is believed that it was here, at Brigade Camp, that Thomas Tharratt joined the 1st Battalion on 28 September.
The official history of the Lincolnshire Regiment records no specific action for the 1st Battalion during the remainder of 1916, although it does state that casualties were still being sustained, principally as a result of artillery fire and snipers. It seems likely that the thigh and knee wounds suffered by Thomas on 15 October 1916 were the result of shrapnel. He was admitted to 65 Field Ambulance on that date with wounds officially described as ‘gunshot wounds, right thigh and left knee’. (The Field Ambulance was a mobile unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps. It was situated quite close behind the fighting front, and received wounded and sick men. Some men may have received rudimentary treatment at the front-line aid posts. The job of the Field Ambulance was to treat men who could be quickly returned to unit (the slightly wounded or sick) but, more generally, to prepare the men for a move to a Casualty Clearing Station which, in the case of Thomas, occurred the following day when he was admitted to No.1 CCS).
Five days later, Thomas was transferred to No.7 General Hospital at St Omer where, sadly, he died of his wounds on 29 October 1916, and was subsequently buried at Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. (No.7 G.H. was a Base Hospital and part of the casualty evacuation chain, further back from the front line than the Casualty Clearing Stations. Base Hospitals were manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps, with attached Royal Engineers and men of the Army Service Corps. In the theatre of war in France and Flanders, the British hospitals were generally located near the coast. They needed to be close to a railway line, in order for casualties to arrive (although some also came by canal barge); they also needed to be near a port where men could be evacuated for longer-term treatment in Britain. There were two types, known as Stationary and General Hospitals. They were large facilities, often centred on some pre-war buildings such as seaside hotels. The hospitals grew hugely in number and scale throughout the war. Also know as Malassises Hospital, No.7 G.H operated from St Omer between June 1915 and May 1918).
Subsequent to Thomas’ death the War Office informed Infantry Records at Lichfield that any personal possessions were to be sent to his brother William at Belmont Farm and any medals (Thomas was entitled to the British War Medal and the Victory Medal) to another brother, George R. Tharratt at Liverpool. George was the father of George Vanes Tharratt, a lieutenant in the King’s (Liverpool Regt), who was lost at sea in 1915 and is also commemorated on a plaque in St Martin’s Church but is outside the scope of this research.
Uniquely for South Willingham, Thomas is commemorated on four memorials – the plaque set in the wall of the parish hall, the family plaque in St Martin’s Church, the hand-written roll of honour in St Martin’s Church and, now, the new war memorial plaque erected in the centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War.
Charles’ name appears on the Roll of Honour in St Martin’s Church and I am still trying to establish his connection with South Willingham – he may have lived here (perhaps boarding with another family?) although I have not, as yet, come up with any evidence for this. As usual, if anyone can help in this respect the history group would be delighted to receive such information. The nearest connection found to date is that the family lived in Benniworth in 1901 and 1911. His mother, Elizabeth (who had obviously been widowed and was now married to Thomas Wilson of Benniworth) lived at East Cottages, Benniworth, according to surviving WW1 records.
Charlie Grundy was born at Wickenby in 1888 to parents John and Elizabeth (nee Bonnett) Grundy. Still in Wickenby at the time of the 1891 census, by 1901 the family was living in Benniworth. In 1909, Elizabeth married a Thomas Wilson, her first husband John having died; the only names on the 1911 census are for Thomas and Elizabeth Wilson and for Tom Grundy, one of Elizabeth’s sons by her first marriage. By this time, our hero Charles was working as a waggoner at Mill Hill Farm Reepham, for a Mark Chambers.
Charles volunteered early in the war, enlisting at Lincoln on 9 November 1914; it is not known for sure where he was living at this time, but the ‘UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919’data base suggests that it was Benniworth – this, of course, may be based purely on the fact that his mother’s address was Benniworth. There is, of course, the possibility that he was lodging in South Willingham at that time but no evidence has been found for this as yet.
The certificate of medical examination describes him as being of fresh complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair, and standing at just 5’ 3 ¼” tall with a physical development described as ‘good’. One distinguishing mark is recorded, this being a large birthmark under the left scapula. His declared age is recorded as 26 years and 105 days. On this day, 9 November 1914, Charles Grundy enlisted as Private, 9997, 6th (Service) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
On 1 July 1915 Charlie Grundy embarked at Liverpool with the 6th Lincolnshire bound for the Dardanelles. 6th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment was raised at Lincoln in August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s First New Army and joined 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division (33rd Brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General R.P. Maxwell, former CO of the 1st Lincolns, whilst the Brigade Major, Captain F.G. Spring, was also of the Lincolnshire Regiment). After initial training close to home, it moved to Belton Park, Grantham. On 4 April 1915 the Division assembled at Whitley and Farnham, with 33rd Brigade taking over the tented camp at Frensham for final training. Following the voyage to the Gallipoli Peninsula 6th Lincolnshire went straight to ‘V’ Beach and disembarked from lighters. The 6th Lincolnshire landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay on 7 August. Over the two days 20/21 December 1915, the Division was withdrawn from Gallipoli, moving to Imbros then to Egypt at the end of January, arriving at Alexandria on 2 February 1916. Here it concentrated at Sidi Bishr and took over a section of the Suez Canal defences on 19 February 1916.
Like many of his contemporaries, it appears that the climate and conditions were unsuited to Charles’ constitution, for on 1 December 1915 he was admitted to hospital (although we do not know the nature of the malady). The official diary for the period records that, ‘sickness, the legacy of a desperately trying summer took heavy toll on the survivors of so many arduous conflicts’. Seventeen days later he was transferred to rest camp at Abbassia and then joined the Base Depot at Mustapha on 29 December; he eventually rejoined the unit at Ballah on 7 March 1916.
On 17 June 1916 11th Division was ordered to France to reinforce Third Army on The Somme. The last units left Alexandria on 3 July 1916 and by the 27th they were in the Front Line on the Somme.
Just over a year later, on 15 July 1917, the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment took over reserve positions in the St Jean sector and was accommodated in dug-outs or shelters on the eastern banks of the Yser Canal. Two days later, the battalion took over front-line trenches. The opposing lines were very close together and when the allied guns were engaged in shelling the enemy’s front-line trenches the Lincolnshire had to temporarily vacate its trenches. The enemy retaliated in a heavy and systematic manner – the much-dreaded gas shell was used in large quantity and for several nights box respirators had to be worn continually. Relief came on the night of 24/25 July but it was on this point of relief that Charlie Grundy met his death; gas was the killer, as recorded on the casualty form……….
So it was, that within days of his 29th birthday (based on his medical records), on 25 July 1917, Charles Grundy met his end. Buried in Gwalia Cemetery in the Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen district of Belgium, Charles lies amongst 467 Commonwealth comrades from the Great War. The cemetery was opened at the beginning of July 1917, in the period between the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres. It lay among the camps in flat, wet country and was used by infantry units, artillery and field ambulances until September 1918. Chares Grundy is commemorated in his home village of Benniworth where his name can be seen inscribed on a war memorial plaque in St Julian’s Church.
Charles was entitled to the 1914/15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals, all of which were sent to his mother at Benniworth. A number of Charles’ personal possessions were also returned home and these comprised: letters; photos; disc; religious book; belt and key; purse containing one coin; cap badge; tobacco tin; two notebooks; cards; knife; ring; two pencils; bracelet. These items, and a commemorative scroll received by Charles’ mother during July 1920, were all that was left to mark Charles Grundy’s service to God, King and Country during the Great War…………….
Following is the obituary to Charlie that appeared in the Louth & North Lincs Advertiser:“In loving memory of a dear son and brother, Pte. C. Grundy, who died July 25th, 1917, from the results of gas poisoning.We had hoped on earth to meet again, But God had ordered our meeting o’er; But we hope in heaven to meet again, Where we shall meet to part no more Farewell dear parents, brothers and sister dear, You little thought my time had been so near, Tho’ death has called me from your side, God will protect and be your guide.
From his sorrowing parents, brothers and sisters.”
Above: The memorial plaque in St Julian’s Church Benniworth, upon which is inscribed the name of Charles Grundy.
JOHN EDWARD SIMONS
The Roll of Honour in St Martin’s Church lists a John E. Simons as having died in 1917. Research suggests that the listed man was quite probably John Edward Simons, who was born at Stickney in Lincolnshire. It appears there may be a family connection to South Willingham with John’s aunt and uncle living in the village; certainly John Simons gives his ‘place of residence’ as ‘South Willingham Lincoln’ on his Attestation Form.
John signed his Attestation Form at Louth on 16 February 1916. His occupation was given as ‘farm horseman’ and his age as 18 years and 124 days on the day of his enlistment; the following day he was placed on the Army Reserve List. Physically, he was described as being 5ft 6ins tall, weighing 136 lbs, with a chest measurement of 36ins. A little over a year later, on 26 April 1917, he was mobilised and the following day transferred to The Depot, Lincolnshire Regiment as Private 38120 John Edward Simons.
He was posted to the 3rd Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment and was registered on ‘Army Form B.103 Casualty Form – Active Service’ on 12 May 1917 as being posted to the Battalion at Grimsby. On 4 August 1917 he was posted to the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. The ‘Army Form B.103 Casualty Form – Active Service’ is a somewhat misleading document as it is not, as its title suggests, purely for the purpose of recording injury or death. With dates recorded under the ‘casualty’ columns on the form this may explain why the Roll of Honour in St Martin’s Church records his date of death as 1917?
But John Simons had yet to meet his end and was transferred to the 2/6th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment (No. 40892) on 23 August 1917. Unfortunately, those records that do remain are not entirely legible but it seems that he became a casualty during 1917 as he was admitted to a Field Ambulance Station in France on 23 October as a ‘casualty in the field’.
Not yet having attained his Majority, the young man who had given his place of residence as ‘South Willingham, Lincoln’ during his Attestation just over two years earlier, became another soldier with no known grave when he was reported missing in the field on 21 March 1918. His name is recorded on the Arras Memorial (as well as on a hand-written scroll in St Martin’s Church South Willingham, a memorial tablet situated in the church at Holton-cum-Beckering and a wooden plaque inside the same church) and his father took receipt of John’s Victory Medal and British War Medal at the family home in Holton cum Beckering. Before he was called up, John Simons is recorded in the 1911 Census as being a farm labourer (aged 13 years), the family living at the time at Top Barn Hatton, near Wragby. It may be that five years later, upon enlistment, he was working on a farm at South Willingham, or simply living with relations as stated by current relatives, which is why he gave his place of residence as South Willingham.
Above: The two memorials to John Edward Simons in Holton cum Beckering Church, one in the form of a tablet on the inside wall of the porch, the other a wooden roll of honour mounted on the south wall inside the church.
JOHN THOMAS ANDERSON
Born at South Willingham on 2 August 1885, John Thomas Anderson would appear to have lived in the village until at least the time of the 1911 Census when his place of residence was given as ‘South Willingham’ and his occupation bricklayer’s labourer. Ten years previously, he was listed as being a lodger at Top Farm Donington Road South Willingham with the occupation of ‘horseman on a farm’.
Deemed to have enlisted on 24 June 1916 he was called up on 1 August 1917, at which time he was living at 1 Jessamine Terrace, King Cross, Halifax. When completing the form which required a statement of all living relatives, his father, Charles Anderson, recorded one of John’s sisters as living in Halifax (this was in June 1919 and as matter of further interest the form was witnessed by the Revd Arthur Temperley of the Vicarage, South Willingham); it might be deduced, therefore, that John was living with his sister at the time he was called up for active service. The family was still resident at South Willingham and both of John’s parents are buried in the churchyard of St Martins, South Willingham. It is believed that the family home was a thatched cottage on Barkwith Road.
John received his medical examination on 1 August 1917 and the official form records that he was 5ft 4ins tall and weighed 130lbs with a chest measurement of 39ins; his physical development was described as ‘good’. His age was declared at 31 years and 364 days, just one day short of his 32nd birthday. At this point he gave his occupation as ‘labourer, motor waggons’.On 3 August 1917 he was posted to 2nd/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment as Private 32098 John Thomas Anderson. Six days later he received his vaccinations and according to Army Form B.178 was declared ‘fit for foreign service’ on 18 November.
John embarked at Southampton for France on 6 December 1917 and joined the Battalion in the field nine days later. Unfortunately, we know no more of John Thomas Anderson between the time he joined his comrades in the field and the notification that he was killed in action on 27 March 1918.
John’s parents became the recipients of their son’s Victory Medal, British War Medal, commemorative scroll and plaque (the ‘death plaque’) and, on 5 May 1919, his razor strap, the only item from amongst his personal belongings that was retrieved and sent home. As for so many parents and families across the land, receiving these few items must have been cold comfort indeed. John is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. (John is also commemorated on a tablet set into the wall of the parish hall at South Willingham as well as in St Martin’s Church South Willingham).
John’s half-sister, seen here in later life at a village fete at the Barkwith Rectory. Annie Smithson, as she was when this photograph was taken, was born to Elizabeth Perry when Elizabeth was just 16 years of age. Elizabeth went on to marry Charles Anderson and together they had several children, including John Thomas, the subject of this article. Annie married Henry Smithson in 1902 and they lived at East Barkwith.
Above: Two images kindly supplied by Charles J Anderson, Great Nephew of John Thomas Anderson. On the left, John’s mother Elizabeth, seen here in later years; on the right, the cottage believed to have been the family home.
Despite the fact that Frederick Prescott appears on two memorials in the village, and that his parents appeared to be the same Charles and Mary Prescott whose son George Edward is also commemorated on the two memorials, Frederick seemed, at first sight, to be somewhat of a ‘mystery’. The Births, Marriages & Deaths index for 1837-1915 record a Frederick Prescott as being born at South Willingham in the last quarter of 1888 although the Census records for 1891 & 1911 record, presumably the same person, as being born in Hainton. The ‘UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919’ meanwhile lists him as being born in Horncastle. This, of course, all assumes that it is the same Frederick. In the 1891 Census the family is recorded as living at Great Grimsby; on the 1901 Census ‘Frederick’ is recorded as a visitor at Legsby (where his place of birth is given as South Willingham); on the 1911 Census a Frederick (born at Hainton) is listed as a boarder on a farm at Fulletby with the occupation of ‘Waggoner on a farm’ and his age is given as 20 (if it was the same Frederick born to Charles and Mary he should have been 22 or 23). Of course, one sometimes has to ‘read between the lines’ somewhat when interpreting Census records. We do know from the baptism records that he was baptised at Hainton on 4 February 1889 and was recorded as living at Hainton.
Unfortunately, the only record of Frederick Prescott’s Army service appears to be the record card that listed the issue of three medals to Prescott, Frederick Private 16112 Lincs Regt. His wife (see below) would have been sent the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star. Frederick is recorded on the card as beginning his overseas service in the Balkans, effective 14 September 1915. Other than that, we only have the reference in ‘UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919’ which ascribes 16112 Frederick Prescott to the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and his location of death as ‘France & Flanders’. However, we do have one further intriguing record – the will that he made out whilst in the Army and dated simply ‘September eight’. It seems likely that the year was 1915, the date he began his overseas service. More than this, however, is that the will reveals Frederick to have been a married man as the will contains, in Frederick’s hand, the following statement ‘In the events of my death I give the whole of my property and effects to my wife, Edith Annie Prescott’.
Following on from the knowledge that he was a married man, a copy of his marriage certificate reveals that he married Edith Annie Clark, a woman of 22 from Fulletby, on 1 July 1913 – no doubt Frederick met Edith whilst boarding on a farm at Fulletby. To further compound the anomalies associated with Frederick’s various recorded details, the marriage certificate lists his age as 22! He would, of course, have been 24 by then. At the time of his marriage Frederick was recorded as living at Great Sturton, with the occupation of ‘labourer’ – almost certainly on a farm.
Although it is not known for certain, it appears that Frederick died during the ‘Battle of Bailleul’, which extended over the three days 13-15 April 1918. Fierce fighting was taking place along the Western Front at this time as the German Army was engaged in its great offensive operation and British troops all along the Line were forced into a series of desperate fighting withdrawals. On 15 April, the day Frederick died, the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment held positions well down the forward slope of Ravetsberg Ridge where it was under observation from the enemy. An enemy bombardment began at 12 noon and Crucifix Corner (behind the left flank of the battalion) came in for particular attention. A heavy frontal attack against the whole line then developed and eventually the Germans captured the crest of Crucifix Hill. The enemy was now able to dominate the whole of the 4th Battalion line with machine-gun fire and the Lincolnshire men were forced to retire. When the roll was taken the casualty figures included 170 missing. We may presume that our hero, now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, was among that number. (Frederick is also commemorated on a tablet set into the wall of the parish hall at South Willingham as well as in St Martin’s Church South Willingham).
HONOURING THE FALLEN
Following the Armistice the time came to count the cost and begin the process of remembrance. War memorials of all forms began to appear nation-wide. For South Willingham it eventually took the form of a simple tablet set into the wall of the parish hall in 1922, on which was inscribed the names of four men. In the absence of corroborating evidence, we might assume that, as around the country, a War Memorial Committee was formed to decide upon the form or style of the war memorial and the names of the men that should be added to it. Two years prior to this, however, an astonishing article appeared in the Lincoln Gazette; this is transcribed in full and may give an indication of the mood of the time, as well as raising questions as to how the writer of the article arrived at the conclusion that South Willingham was fortunate ‘not to have lost any of its sons in the war’.
“South Willingham in its war experience has been greatly fortunate, fortunate enough, at least, not to have lost any of its sons in the war. We do not suggest that Willingham folk have not suffered, have not had their hardships at home as well as their anxieties for those who went forth, and over whom hung the blackest cloud of all the peril. But these men have come back from the zone of death; they live, they have mostly returned home, and in that respect South Willingham has regained a large measure of its old life.
Exactly what is to be done in regard to the men, South Willingham had not decided at the time we were in the village. Naturally, the matter had received consideration. It had been looked at, we have no doubt, in all its bearings, but we were rather surprised to be told that no definite scheme had been adopted. There was, we believe, talk of establishing something in the form of an institute, and we were told in the village that something of its kind is badly needed. The surprising result told us is that the scheme was turned down. We cannot believe for a moment that that is to be accepted as South Willingham’s final decision.
More than one villager of South Willingham has come through the fighting with distinction, and this is a consideration on which the local people can be warmly congratulated, second to the fact that no lives have been lost amongst the local men who went to war (a truly incredible and outrageous statement – ed). An interesting career was that of the son of the rector (Rev A Temperley). Commissioned as lieutenant he carried himself with such ability that he rose to be major, and but for the coming of the Armistice would in a very short time have become colonel, and that step, for which the preliminary arrangements had been made, were withdrawn. Major Temperley, however, was honoured by receiving the Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. He was practically in the war from start to finish.
The rector also had a daughter (there were two daughters, Margaret and Olive; it is likely that it was Margaret to whom the writer was referring. She was 15 in 1911 and her sister 13 – ed) who gave splendid service during the war period as a nurse, and who was at Etaples and elsewhere at the bases. Miss Temperley gained the Royal Red Cross in recognition of the excellence and value of her work. If there have been no other honours of great note as the result of the campaign, there is the reflection that everybody who went did his best and after asll the fact that this was done, and that the lad is safe home again, means everything to anxious parents, wives and friends. The gallant dozen who left South Willingham to brave the horrors of the most terrible war in history have the honour of knowing that they did their duty, and that they have helped to maintain the freedom of their country.
We have no doubt a memorial of some kind will be placed in South Willingham Church, sooner or later, and rightly, in commemoration of the Empire’s deliverance from the greatest menace that ever threatened its existence. In this the village will place itself in line with others in the country and in the immediate neighbourhood, and the tablet, or whatever may be decided upon, will stay in the church to remind South Willingham men and women years hence of the Great Deliverance. But that is only dealing with the past. It cannot be said that the duty of any community in respect of its war experience begins and ends with the placing of a memorial in a parish church.
What about the men who have returned, and for whom something in the way of promoting social intercourse is so desirable? We have indicated what is proposed in the neighbouring parish of Hainton (a village hall in the form of an ex-military hut – ed). We certainly would not care to suggest that nothing of the sort is required or desired in South Willingham. Perhaps a hut would solve the difficulty; but there may not be enough hits to go round. A scheme for an institute has already been considered and turned down, but as we have said, something for social purposes is badly needed. There is a small schoolroom, and a proposal arose that the building should be enlarged, but this, we are told, was vetoed, and the idea seems to be to wait until building material and labour become cheaper. We do not know how long South Willingham is prepared to wait, but we venture to think that if there is to be no provision for the men until that day arrives, the patience of Job will be exhausted in the effort to bide the necessary time. But we are hopeful that greater enterprise will be shown and a more effective course of action will be taken in the interests of the men who deserve all that South Willingham can do for them.”
Within two years or so of this article appearing, Lord Heneage came to the rescue and donated building material and a monetary loan to aid in the building of a parish hall for South Willingham. In August 1922 there was an article in a local newspaper describing the opening of the parish hall. In this article there was a section regarding the memorial tablet which read as follows:
“On the invitation of the Rector, the company then proceeded to the outside of the building for the unveiling by Mr Arthur Johnson, an ex-soldier (see the ‘page’ relating to Arthur Lloyd Johnson for further information on this man), of a memorial tablet in memory of the men from this village who fell during the Great War. The tablet has been placed in a prominent position facing the roadway, and the inscription, which can be seen distinctly by those who pass, is as follows: ‘In grateful memory of John Thomas Anderson, Frederick Prescott, George Edward Prescott, Thomas Henry Tharratt, who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918’.
The Rev Temperley said that now they had got a village hall it was fitting that the first thing to be done should be the unveiling of the memorial which was intended to perpetuate the memory of the men from South Willingham who had fallen in the war.
After the memorial had been unveiled by Mr Johnson, it was dedicated ‘in grateful and honoured memory of those who fell’ and suitable prayers were offered.”
The memorial tablet set into the west wall of South Willingham Parish Hall.
In addition to the memorial tablet set into the west wall of the Parish Hall, another memorial was erected in the Church of St Martin; this, however, was a ‘family plaque’ and commemorated Thomas Henry Tharratt (from the village) and his cousin George Vanes Tharratt, a native of Liverpool.
Above: The Tharratt-family memorial plaque in St Martin’s Church South Willingham.
Although it has not, as yet, been established when it happened, a Roll of Honour written in calligraphy and framed in oak was later hung in St Martin’s Church. Illustrated below, this memorial contains a number of inaccuracies, not least the incorrect naming of Edmund Rhodes as Edwin; despite this, it is a beautiful memorial to the eight men listed. The South Willingham History Group is still attempting to establish when and by whom the roll of honour was erected and, as ever, if anyone has any firm information on this the Group would be delighted to receive such information as is available.
Below: The new Centenary Memorial in St Martin’s Church erected and dedicated on Sunday 23 November 2014. It commemorates those men from the Parish of South Willingham who died during the Great War 1914-1918. It adds the name of Edmund Gray Rhodes to the names of the four men listed on the tablet set into the wall of the Parish Hall and corrects the handwritten roll of honour also displayed in the church. There is no suggestion that the three other named men on the roll of honour did not at some time live in the village, but this memorial plaque is dedicated to the five men known to have had strong links with the Parish rather than simply having a short-term residency in the village prior to the war. It will be seen elsewhere in this document that David Harold Crow, Charles Grundy and John Simons are all appropriately honoured in the parishes with which they and/or their family were most closely linked.
MEN BELIEVED ASSOCIATED WITH SOUTH WILLINGHAM
The following three men have an apparent South Willingham connection but I have not, as yet, begun to research these men in detail – this information has been sent to me by Charles Anderson. I have included them here now in the hope that someone may have some information on these men.
Edward George Brown, Private 42444. 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, formerly 17853 Lincolnshire Regiment. Killed in action 24th October 1918. Born Louth, enlisted Lincoln and resident South Willingham, Lincs. Commemorated Vis-En-Artois Memorial. Panel 4 and 5. Not commemorated on any known Lincolnshire memorial
William Kirk, 6411, Private, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). Born Lincoln, enlisted Bradford, Yorkshire, resident Undercliffe, Yorks. Killed in action 11th November 1914. Commemorated Addenda Panel 59. Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Not commemorated on any known Lincolnshire memorial
SOUTH WILLINGHAM MAN KILLED IN ACTION – Private William Kirk, of the West Yorks Regiment, of 6, Thornton Buildings, Idle Road, Undercliffe, a native of South Willingham, and brother of Mr. C. Kirk, of Gospelgate, Louth, is reported killed in action. When hostilities commenced he was on the second reserve, having served 14 years with the regulars. He went through the Boer war, receiving the medal with three bars. Afterwards he was in India. He was a well known boxer, and had met the middle weight champion of India. After leaving the army he was employed by the Midland Railway Company. The intimation of his death was accompanied by a message of sympathy from the King and Queen. He was 35 years of age and leaves a widow and one child.
L&NLA 16TH Jan. 1915.
John Henry Ward, Private 15201. 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. Killed in action 25th September1915. Born Alford, enlisted Lincoln and resident South Willingham, Lincs. Commemorated Ploegsteert Memorial. Panel 3, Alford and Alford Roll of Honour.
THOSE WHO SERVED AND RETURNED HOME
This section will cover men from the village who served and returned home. Currently, three men are known to have served during the war and returned home. As usual, we would be delighted to hear from anyone who has information on any men from the village who went to war during this period and returned home.
ARTHUR LLOYD JOHNSON
Born at South Willingham in 1892 to parents Walter and Hannah Johnson, who ran the shop and post office in the village, Arthur Johnson enlisted at Lincoln on 11 December 1915. At this time, he was living at 23 Allison Street Lincoln and was working as a porter on the railways. Interestingly, he gives his name on the Attestation Form as Lloyde Arthur Johnson, and signs it as such. His next of kin he gives as his eldest brother, Thomas Coppin Johnson, his mother and father having died (Walter in 1902 aged 57 & Hannah in 1904 aged 51). He states that he was unmarried and gave his age as 23 years and three months and was described as being 5′ 4″ tall. His ‘record of postings’ form refers to him as Lloyd Arthur Johnson although other Army documents refer to him as Arthur Lloyd or A.L. Johnson – he also signs himself A.L. Johnson on various documents. Census records name him as Arthur.
The day after enlisting, he was placed on the Army Reserve. It would be just over seven months later, on 27 July 1916, that he was mobilized. Two days later Arthur joined the 9th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and a month later was transferred to the 3rd Battalion. Four other postings are recorded between this date and 25 September 1917 when he rejoined the 3rd Battalion. Unfortunately, the records are indistinct and no accurate information can be gleaned from them. What we do know, however, is that during this period Arthur married his sweetheart Florence Taylor from Leadenham. we also know that on 31 July 1917 he received a gun shot wound to the left buttock; this, presumably, was during training and may account for at least some of the various postings mentioned on his record – it is just about possible to distinguish a posting to the Depot on 6 August 1917, possibly on return from hospital.
Above: Private Arthur Lloyd Johnson 27069 Lincolnshire Regiment pictured here on his wedding day 24 October 1916 with his bride Florence (or Florena?) Edith Taylor from Leadenham.
On 28 November 1917 a posting to the BEF preceded his transfer to the 8th Battalion on 5 December 1917, with which he stayed for the remainder of his Army service.
A gun shot wound to the right knee and foot ended Arthur’s active service and his Army records show that he was admitted to the Con (Convalescent?) Hospital Eastbourne on 29 November 1918. He attended a Medical Board at the Kitchener Hospital Brighton on 30 May 1919 and was discharged as ‘no longer medically fit for War service’. The Board found that he had 40% disability and awarded a weekly pension of eleven shillings (55p).
The Kitchener Hospital Brighton where Arthur Johnson attended his Medical Board which pronounced him ‘no longer medically fit for war service’.
Following his discharge from the Army Arthur returned to South Willingham and in recognition of his war service received, variously, a ‘wound badge’ number B221731 which was issued June 1919, the King’s Certificate issued 2 September 1919 and the War Medal & Victory Medal which he received in November 1919.
At the moment no further details have been ascertained regarding his life post-war other than that in the 1937 edition of Kelly’s Directory he has a listing under South Willingham as ‘Johnson, Arthur Lloyd, cottage farmer’.