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17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Battalion, The London Regiment

17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Battalion, The London Regiment, a Terratorial unit and had thier headquarters at 66 Tredegar Road, Bow, when war broke out in August 1914, serving as part of 5th London Brigade, 2nd London Division. The Division had just arrived for their annual summer camp on Salisbury Plain when war wasdeclared in August 1914, they were at once recalled to their home base and mobilised for war service. The Division concentrated in the St Albans area for training, with the 17th Battalion at St Albans. They proceeded to France on the 10th of March 1915, landing at le Havre, being only the second TF Division to arrive in theatre. The 5th London Brigade was ordered to Cassel, and the remainder of the Division concentrated near Bethune and were joined by 5th London Brigade near the end of the month. They saw action in The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The Battle of Festubert, The Battle of Loos and The subsequent Actions of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, In 1916 they fought during The German attack at Vimy Ridge, and on The Somme in The Battle of Flers-Courcelette capturing High Wood, The Battle of the Transloy Ridges in which the captured Eaucourt l'Abbaye and The attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt. In 1917 they were in action in The Battle of Messines, the Third Battles of Ypres and The Cambrai Operations where they captured Bourlon Wood and fought against the German counter attacks. On the 1st of February 1918 they transferred to 140th Brigade still with 47th (2nd London) Division. In 1918 they were in action on The Somme and the Final Advance in Artois including making the official entry into Lille. At the Armistice the the forward units of the Division had reached Franses-lez-Buissenal. They marched back to Tournai and on the 26th of November moved on to the Bethune area where demobilisation began with the first parties returning to England in the first week of January 1919.

Can you add to this factual information? Do you know the whereabouts of this unit on a particular day? Which battles they took part in? Or any other interesting snipts?

Those known to have served with 17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Battalion, The London Regiment during the Great War 1914-1918.

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Rfm. H. W. Cornwell 1/17th Btn. London Regiment (d.7th Jun 1917)

Rifleman Cornwell lost his life whilst attached to the Royal Irish Rifles at the Battle of Messines. He was 25 years old.


Pte. George Albert Cole 17th Btn. London Regiment

For many years I have been researching our family history. My Uncle George A. Cole and his wife Rosetta (Snell) lived with our large family for many years especially during the 2nd World War until Uncle died in 1964. During all this time Uncle George was not in good health, both physically and mentally and often mentioned that he was gassed during the First World War. Does anyone have any information on his war service?

Gordon Bickmore


Rfm. Francis Henry Oliver 1/17th Btn. London Regiment

Frank Oliver was my Grandfather, he was a lewis gunner with the 17th Londons during the Great War. When my Father was a small child he asked him how many Germans he shot, to which Frank replied "I don't know. I couldn't see any. They were too far away. We were just ordered to shoot".

My sister recalls he often complained of an aching leg due to a shrapnel wound. He would then tell her how he was wounded. He was in the trenches in France and said that his best friend saved his life. Apparently his friend was standing in front of him when a bomb fell. His friend took the full force of the bomb and was blown to pieces, while he was just left with shrapnel in his leg.

Michele Minett


Capt. Howard Caldwell Wright MC. 17th (Stepney & Poplar) Battalion London Regiment (d.2nd Sep 1917)

I was given Howard Caldwell Wright's memorial medallion, the 'Dead Man's Penny' and I am searching for a direct decendent of his to give it to. I found out online that he was with the Stepney & Poplar Riflemen, London Regiment, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1913 and died in 1917.

Paul Ryan


Pte. Thomas Campling 17th Btn. London Regiment

Thomas Campling was sentenced to be tied to the guns for questioning an order. "What, sentry duty again"?. He fought at the Somme, was wounded there and was one of 5 men, from his Battalion(?) who survived that battle.

Mike Tointon


Rifleman John Edward Munton 17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Btn. London Regiment (d.28th Nov 1917)

My Great Grand Uncle John Munton was killed in action in France & Flanders whilst serving with the Poplar and Stepney Rifles.

Cheryl Dower


Rfmn. William Cooke 1/17th Battalion (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) London Regiment (d.3rd June 1917)

William Cooke was married in January 1913 to Minnie Corthine, they had a daughter about a year later, also called Minnie. William joined the 10th London Regiment in 1915 but later transferred to the 1/17th poplar and Stepney rifles. He was killed in action 3rd June 1917, not sure where. No known grave but his name is listed on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial.


Rfn. Charles Henry Morrison 17th Btn. London Regiment

My Grandfather was Charles Henry Morrison and he enlisted with the 17th Battalion as Rifleman, Service Number 4466. We do know he had shrapnel wounds from which he later died but never found out if he served abroad. He died in 1921 from a lung disease and he left a widow with 5 children. My Grandmother received just 10 shillings per week. She soon lost her home in James Place, Stepney and all the family slept on the floors of relative's homes. They knew real poverty living on what was found under the fruit and vegetable stalls in local East End markets. They had no shoes to wear at all. In time the children went to work at the ages of 13 so their lives improved a little. However one son named after Charles was born 'an imbecile' a very unkind phrase used in the 1918 when he was born. When his father died in 1921 he was sent to St Lawrence's in Surrey a home for imbeciles, he died there in 1943 from Tuberculosis. He was buried in a mound along with 100's who died from the epidemic. Charles Junior was another casualty of WW1.

I do know my Grandfather is listed on the Wall Screen at the East London Cemetery and he is actually buried underneath the wall because the family could not afford to bury him. So his name liveth for evermore along with high ranking Officers also buried with him.

WW1 was a terrible war that should have taught us all a lesson, but along came WW2 and the Morrison family were once again engaged in war as two of Charle's sons joined the Army and were engaged in battles in Africa. One Uncle was buried with a military salute at Colchester Barracks. So many sad family stories emerged from both these wars.

Colleen Bennett


Pte. Edward Parfait 17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Btn. London Regiment

My uncle, Edward Parfait, a tailor's machinist, was the eldest son of Wilhelm Parfait born June Quarter 1894 Mile End Middlesex. He suffered mustard gas poisoning and died on 22nd of May 1924 from malignant endocarditis.

David Crosby


Rfn. Charles Henry Morrisson 17th Btn. London Regiment

My grandfather was Charles Henry Morrison, Rifleman, Regimental Number 4466. He was a volunteer and joined the 17th Battalion (Poplar and Stepney), London Regiment. He died after the war in Fulham Military Hospital from lung damage caused by shrapnel. We knew he went abroad but until now saw no proof because the Blitz on London in WW2 destroyed all evidence.

He left 5 children and my grandmother received just 10 shillings a week war widow’s pension. It was not enough to keep 5 children and they lost their home. They moved from relative to relative sleeping on the floor.

One son named Charles was then deemed an imbecile and was sent to St Lawrence’s Hospital for the Insane in Surrey at the age of 5. Can you imagine that? He never saw his mother or siblings again.

Wars cause lots of misery and tragedies for those left behind. Every man who fought in both World Wars must never be forgotten. My grandfather’s name is on the Wall Screen in East London Cemetery and I go there every year to remember him.

Colleen Bennett


Rflmn. Thomas G Morris 17th Btn. London Regiment (d.1 Oct 1916)

Thomas G Morris "Tommy" was my Grandmother's brother. It was told to me that Tommy enlisted and survived for 2 weeks after being sent to France with his regiment. I'm not sure if this is true but like so many brave young men we owe them so much. Tommy was 19 years of age when he was killed on 1st October 1916 - he has a headstone and is remembered at Walencourt British Cemetery - North of Albert, a wonderful quiet peaceful place now - unlike when Tommy and his comrades were there.

If anyone can furnish me with any further information on Tommy I would be grateful.

Leslie Reynolds


Supply Sgt John "Jack Rabbit" Herbert 17th Btn. London Regiment

John Herbert, born 1892 was my Grandfather. We know very little about him during his young years. I knew him and loved him dearly as my Grandpop, but his life before he and my Grandmother emigrated to Australia in 1929 was not to be discussed. He grew up in the East End of London, the youngest of seven children, his mother died when he was six, his father remarried and Grandpop was raised by his oldest sister.

The little I do know about his WW1 life has been pieced together from a few old photos, many sporting medals, his Service Medal Card and Medals (Pip, Squeak & Wilfred), and an autograph book he carried with him through France and WW1 with many of the Autographs ending in 'Somewhere in France' and a date. His Service Record was destroyed during WW2, so I have followed the 17th London Regiment from two books. One called The Poplars by Ron Wilcox, and was surprised to see my Grandpop in the photo on the front cover, and the second - 47th (London) Division 1914 – 1919 by Allan H Maude.

John Herbert enlisted in 1913, well before WW1, was promoted to Supply Sergeant in 1916, he was disembodied in 1919. His rank of Supply Sergeant might explain his surviving the entire war as he was fortunate enough not to have been on the front line nor in the trenches, but spent most of the war behind the lines. He passed away in Brisbane Australia, in 1976.

Tricia Hoey


Rfmn. John George Mathers 17th (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) Btn. London Regiment (d.24th Aug 1918)

Rifleman John George Mathers joined the 17th (County of London) Battalion (Poplar and Stepney Rifles). He was killed in action on 24th August 1918 leaving a wife and 4 young sons one of whom was my father-in-law Albert Henry Mathers. John George went to war and never returned there was no body to bury and he is commemorated as a name on a plague at the Commonwealth War Graves memorial at Vis-en-Artois in Northern France

Derek Parker


Rfmn. Woolf Hart 1/17th Btn. London Regiment (d.7th Jun 1917)

My great uncle Woolf Hart was the son of Isaac and Esther Hart. He was killed in action on 7th June 1917 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

Murray Litvak


Rfmn. John Thomas Gutberlet 25th Btn. London Regiment

John Thomas Gutberlet, taken on his Silver Wedding Anniversary 1958

John Thomas Gutberlet, known as Jack, served as Rifleman S/35235, 25th Battalion, Rifle Brigade. He enlisted on 10th December 1915, and was mobilised on 28th July 1917. He was posted to 17th Battalion, London Regiment on 6th October 1917. He went to France on 6th January 1918, and joined the Battalion in the field on 16th February 1918 and was missing from 21st March 1918, but later confirmed as a prisoner-of-war in Limburg Camp.

John Thomas and his wife Lettuce May Martin.

Janet Fouad


Pte. Frederick Garner 17th Btn. London Regiment (d.1st Sep 1918)

Frederick Garner was born on the 11th of March 1880 in Bethnal Green and died on the Somme on 1st Sept 1918. He enlisted in Bow joining the 17th (Poplar and Stepney) Btn, London Regiment. His occupation before the war was that of barman, working for the company of Wells and Co. He was married to Sarah Warren and was the father of Frederick, William, Alfred, Caroline and Ethel.

I am still looking for a photo of my Grand-father as my Grand-mother, Sarah Warren was killed in an air-raid in 1944 in Bethnal Green, as far as I know all photos were lost.


Pte. John Francis Duhig 17th Btn. London Regiment

My great grandfather was called John Francis Duhig. Current living family members know he served in the armed forces both prior to and during WW1 and that he was based for part of the time in London. The only war records that I have so far been able to uncover that comes close to what is already known is J Duhig service number 2419, 17th London Regiment.

If anyone can help further it would be appreciated. The war record found so far indicate that he received the 1914/15 star, but we believe he was also awarded other medals for gallantry but this is currently unproven. any help please. I currently do not have any photos in my possession of my great grandfather

Terry Duhig

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