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The Rifle Brigade
The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) was raised in 1800.
Battalions during the Great War 1914-1918.
- 1st Battalion
- 2nd Battalion
- 3rd Battalion
- 4th Battalion
- 5th (Reserve) Battalion
- 6th (Reserve) Battalion
- 7th (Service) Battalion
- 8th (Service) Battalion
- 9th (Service) Battalion
- 10th (Service) Battalion
- 11th (Service) Battalion
- 12th (Service) Battalion
- 13th (Service) Battalion
- 14th (Reserve) Battalion
- 15th (Reserve) Battalion
- 16th (St Pancras) Battalion
- 17th (Reserve) Battalion
- 18th (London) Battalion
- 19th (Western) Battalion
- 20th (Northern) Battalion
- 21st (Midland) Battalion
- 22nd (Wessex & Welsh) Battalion
- 23rd (North Western) Battalion
- 24th (Home Counties) Battalion
- 25th (Reserve) Garrison Battalion
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 The Rifle Brigade during the Great War 1914-1918.
Select a story link or scroll down to browse those stories hosted on this site.
- Rfmn. William Allison (d.25th Sept 1915) Read their Story.
- Pte. Edmund Victor Amey (d.6th July 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Percy Badrick (d.30th May 1918) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Walter Barton (d.27th Sep 1915) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Charles Joseph Beacham (d.25th Aug 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Simon Bernstein (d.12th Oct 1917 ) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Frederick Charles "Fred" Bird (d.25th Sep 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Thomas Muir Blakey (d.10th Jul 1916) Read their Story.
- Pte. Frederick Brackenbury Read their Story.
- Private William Bridges (d.27th Jun 1918) Read their Story.
- Pte Thomas Charles Brooks (d.25th Jan 1916) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. George Walford Brown (d.31st Jul 1917)
- Rifleman James Brown (d.7th June 1917) Read their Story.
- Robert Henry Burch Read their Story.
- 2nd Lieut Lewis John Dalgliesh Butt (d.4th Jul 1916) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Thomas Carling (d.1st July 1916) Read their Story.
- Charles Frederick Chapman Read their Story.
- Rfm. Leslie Childs (d.21st June 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Frank Cliffe (d.25th Sep 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfn. Thomas Henry Cole (d.3rd Oct1917) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Frank Ernest Herbert Coppin (d.26th Aug1914) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Leonard William Corner (d.15th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Pte. Frederick Critchell (d.26th June 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. Fred Cumpstey Read their Story.
- Sergeant Frederick Charles Dixon (d.9th Sep 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. John Edmondson (d.1st Nov 1918) Read their Story.
- Rfm. J. R. Edwards (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Thomas Elms (d.21st September 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Arthur Emeny (d.15th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Cpl. Walter Thomas Field (d.5th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Rfm. James Flicker MM (d.24th Mar 1918) Read their Story.
- Rfn. Albert Edward Flint (d.23rd April 1917)
- Rfm. T. Ford (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rfm. Edwin Franks (d.2nd Feb 1916) Read their Story.
- Pte. Arthur Gear (d.17th Nov 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Thomas Gildersleve (d.14th Nov 1916) Read their Story.
- Rifleman William Gladwin (d.3rd Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Herbert Mallett Graut (d.3 May 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. James Edward Green (d.27th Apr 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. Richard Gribbin (d.30th July 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Percy James Hayden Read their Story.
- Frank Jabez Heath
- Rfm. A. W. F. Herrmann (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Rifleman James Thomas Herrmann (d.15th October 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. Percy Henry Hill (d.1st Jan 1917) Read their Story.
- Cpl George W. Hodges Read their Story.
- Cpl. Arthur William "Dicky" Jenkins (d.18th April 1918) Read their Story.
- Rifleman Frederick George Jones (d.17th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Cpl. William George King Read their Story.
- Pte. Ernest Alfred Laflin (d.3rd Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Pte. William Thomas Lambourne Read their Story.
- Sjt. Charles Casio Lawrence MM. (d.12th Oct 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. James Leahy (d.13th Mar 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. William Frederick Lesurf (d.19th Oct 1916)
- Lt. Sidney Milsom (d.30 July 1915) Read their Story.
- Pte. Charles Henry Morrison Read their Story.
- Pte. Frederick Newbold Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Edgar Ford Nixon (d.22nd Mar 1918) Read their Story.
- Rflm. James Alfred Noble (d.21st Mar 1918) Read their Story.
- Pte. Arthur Edmond Orsler (d.2nd Oct 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Thomas Owen Read their Story.
- Rflm. Thomas Eldred Page (d.1st Nov 1918) Read their Story.
- Rifleman Charles Ringwood Pain (d.30th July 1915) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. William G. Parfitt (d.6th Jul 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Joseph James Randall (d.1st Feb 1915) Read their Story.
- Rifleman William James Robinson (d.15th Sept 1916) Read their Story.
- Rfm. William Robinson (d.10th Jan 1918) Read their Story.
- Pte. John Scannell Read their Story.
- Rfm. Edward Thomas Selby (d.4th June 1917) Read their Story.
- CSM.. Percy Shaw DCM. Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Albert Frederick Sheehan MM. Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Herbert Othneil Slaughter (d.1st July 1916) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. Frank Andrews Smith MM (d.7th Dec 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. George William Southam (d.8th Sep 1915) Read their Story.
- L/Corporal Cecil Stewart (d.1st May 1917) Read their Story.
- L/Cpl. Cecil " " Stewart (d. 1st May 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. Eric Malcolm Stimson (d.24th Aug 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Robert Charles Syrett (d.7th Jun 1917)
- Pte. John William Taylor (d.7th Jan 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfm. Thomas Taylor (d.1st Nov 1918)
- Pte John Henry Thornburn (d.18th Apr 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfn. Joseph Thornley (d.11th April 1917) Read their Story.
- Pte. William Edward Trimmer (d.6th February 1915) Read their Story.
- Pte. George Welsh (d.3rd Dec 1917)
- Lance Corporal William West (d.12th Jan 1915) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. George Williams (d.15th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Sgt. Henry George Willmott (d.15th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Cpl. Charles Wilson (d.4th Apr 1918)
- Rfmn. Frederick John Wiltshire (d.15th Sep 1916) Read their Story.
- Pte. Frederick John Wiltshire (d.15th Sept 1916) Read their Story.
- Rfm. William Arthur Winnett (d.11th Apr 1917) Read their Story.
- Rfmn. William Winter (d.23rd April 1917)
- Rifleman Alfred A Wood (d.10th May 1915) Read their Story.
The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add,, or any recollections or photos of those listed, please get in touch.
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Please note we currently have a backlog of submitted material, our volunteers are working through this as quickly as possible and all names, stories and photos will be added to the site. If you have already submitted a story to the site and your UID reference number is higher than 215083, your information is still in the queue, please do not resubmit without contacting us first.
Pte. Eric Malcolm Stimson 9th Btn. Rifle Brigade (d.24th Aug 1915)Eric Stimson was only 17 years old when he was killed. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Cemetery.
Thomas Elms 12th Battalion The Rifle Brigade "Prince Consort's Own" (d.21st September 1917)Thomas Elms of the Rifle Brigade-"Prince Consort's Own"-12th Battalion was killed in action at Langemark in the Ypres Salient on the 21st September 1917. I am looking for any information relating to the battle that took place over 21-23 September 1917, particularly around a fortified German bunker known as "Cement House."
L/Corporal Cecil Stewart 12th Rifle Brigade (d.1st May 1917)My Grandfather Cecil Stewart is buried at Bray Sur Somme having died from shrapnel wounds at the 48th Casualty Clearing Station sited in the village church on the 1st May 1917. He was 26 and my mother(his only child) was 3 months old. Enlisted May 1915 as one of Kitchener's volunteers, he was a Painter and Decorator in civilian life and did what he believed was his duty to his country. In reality they had no choice but to enlist in a war that they did not understand.
Lance Corporal William West 3rd Btn. Rifle Brigade (d.12th Jan 1915)William died aged 31 and is remembered at the Ploegsteert Memorial, he has no known grave. William was married to Daisy (nee Boulter), my grandmother, unfortunately I was only 4 when my grandmother died so I have little information with regard to William.
Rifleman William Gladwin 11th Btn Rifle Brigade (d.3rd Sep 1916)My Great uncle killed in WW1. I would be interested in any history published on the 11th (Service) Bn
Rifleman Alfred A Wood 4th Battalion The Rifle Brigade (d.10th May 1915)I have a person in my family tree called Alfred Wood who was killed 10 May 1915 and the CWGC tells me that he was a Rifleman in the 4th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, and the medal roll tells me 2/Rifle Brigade. I am trying to find out a little bit more information on him.
Information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: He was the husband of Rose Hurst (formerly Wood) of 53 Allerton Street, Nile Street, Hoxton, London. He was age 28 when he was killed.
Charles Frederick Chapman 11th Btn. Rifle BrigadeMy grandfather Charles Frederick Chapman was working on the Central Hall Westminster in 1914/15. He was married with 3 small children. He enlisted at 22 Tufton Street Westminster under the Derby scheme in December 1915. My Grandmother told me that he came home from work and told her that he had to go as all his friends had enlisted.
He went to France in May 1915 and was posted to 11th Rifle Brigade in 20th Light Division. He was a good shot, even in old age he could knock needles out of a fence post at 25yds and I believe he was a sniper.Eventually he was posted to 12th Rifle Brigade.
On 16th August 1917 he took part in the Battle of Langemark and was seriously wounded in the chest and buttock by machine gun fire from a German position called Rat House. I have his wound ticket, the card from the field ambulance and his hospital card together with the brown envelope in which they were pinned to his tunic. His Battalion war diary records that most of the casualties on this day were to the right side & back so I can tie down the timing of his wound pretty precisely to 16.30hrs on that day.
He lay on the battlefield for at least two days as his field ambulance card is dated 19th August and he was picked up by 131 Field Ambulance which was from 38th Welsh Division which had relieved the 20th Division on 17th August. He was sent to No 6 General Hospital in Rouen and on 18th October 1917 his card was marked as England (A) Ship. I know this because I still have the card. In England he was admitted to St Georges Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, now a hotel and whilst he was there the patients were inspected by the King. He was discharged as unfit for war service on 23rd March 1918, was granted a disability pension and died in 1959
Sergeant Frederick Charles Dixon 12th Btn. The Rifle Brigade (d.9th Sep 1915)Frederick Charles Dixon was born on January 7th 1882 at 18 Bramley Terrace, Wells Lane, Streatham. The 1891 census puts him as a scholar living at 135 Wellfield Road, Wandsworth. 1901 has him living at 116, Wellfield Road, Streatham employed as a Tramway Employment, Night Washer. By 1915, he is Head gardener at Avery Hill Park in South London.
It is not surprising that he became a gardener. His father Peter Dixon, is described as a gardener all through his life from 1861 as an 18 year old to 1901 when he was working as a gardener ‘on his own account’. He is described as a retired gardener on the marriage certificate of Florence and Frederick. Frederick’s mother was Eliza Roberts who was born in Bangor, North Wales.
Florence was known to everybody as Fiddy - she was born on 28th May 1889 and would have been just 19 when she & Frederick got married on 2nd July 1908 in The Registry Office of Dartford District, although her age is given as 21 on the certificate.
Frederick must have been amongst the first volunteers to answer Kitcheners call on August 7th 1914 for ‘100,000 men to join your Army’. Up to 33,000 men per day volunteered; 3 million in the first 2 years of the war, which caused major shortages of guns, ammunition and equipment.
The 12th Rifle Brigade was formed at Winchester in September 1914, moved to Blackgang, going on in February to Witley and then in April to Larkhill.
On July 21st 1915 they landed in France at Boulogne. On this date Frederick had two daughters at home – Violet aged 6 years and Doris who would have been 5 years old later that week.
On 5th Sep 1915, Frederick was wounded near Laventie. He must have been moved through casualty clearing to the rear, as on 9th Sep, he died of his wounds and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
S/123 Sergeant Frederick Charles Dixon, 12th Battalion Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own), Born - Streatham, Surrey, Enlisted - Marylebone, Middx. Residence - Sidcup, Kent.
Son of Peter and Elizabeth Dixon, of 112 Wellfield Rd, Streatham, London Husband of Florence Catherine Dixon, of 25 Wingfield Place, Halfway Street, Sidcup, Kent.
Died of wounds 09/09/1915 Buried, Boulogne Eastern Cemetery - Grave Reference: VIII.B.77
Rifleman William James Robinson 8th Battalion, C Coy. The Rifle Brigade (d.15th Sept 1916)Rifleman Z/1227 William James Robinson, 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade, “C” Company is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial face 16B/16C
He was killed, on 15th September 1916 at the battle of Flers and Courcellete. It is likely he was killed by German enfilade fire from Pint Trench as the Battalion attacked Flers from the rear of Delville Wood as they advanced out of Brown Trench.
William was born on 6th June 1895 in Birmingham, the eldest son of William James Robinson (b.1871) and Georgina Robinson (b.1876). Before enlisting he lived with his parents and brothers and sisters; Nellie (b.1896), Albert (b.1899), Elsie (b.1904), Rose (b.1907) and George (b.1910) and Edna (b 1913). The family home was a back-to-back house in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The house had a kitchen/living room, a bedroom and an attic. William’s occupation at 15, listed on the 1911 Census return was Capstan Operator. He lived in the same house all of his short life.
William became one of the many soldiers known as ‘Kitchener’s New Army’ that were used to fill the ranks when after the British standing Army and Reservists “The Old Contemptibles” were decimated in the first few months of the War.
He was among the early volunteers enlisting after the declaration of war in August 1914. This is indicated by the “Z” prefix to his service number. The “Z” Prefix was used by the Rifle Brigade for Special Reservists signing up for a period of three years and was only used for about 1 month. All the men with “Z” prefixes enlisted in late August 1914 to mid September 1914 and numbered just short of 3000.
At the time of his enlistment he would still have had the choice of regiments to serve in, so he actually chose to join the Rifle Brigade. The 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade was part of the 14th (Light) Division. The Division was called Light as it contained all Light Infantry battalions such as the Rifle Brigade and the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.
His 1914-15 Star Roll shows that he entered theatre on the 9/8/15. Before then it is likely he was training or at the depot of the 5th or 6th Rifle Brigade in the Isle of Sheppey. These training and feeder battalions were also used as the north River Thames Garrison on Guard duty.
Unfortunately, his record, where his destination in France would have been listed, has not survived. However, it is possible he would have gone to an Infantry Base Depot in France (most likely the 47th at Havre) and then from there would have been posted to the 8th Rifle Brigade.
His record would also have recorded the exact date that he arrived with the 8th Battalion in the field. However, there were drafts of men who joined the 8th to reinforce after the Battle of Hooge, on the following days:-
110 draft - 9/8/1915, 50 draft - 14/8/1915, 67 draft - 22/8/1915
It is very unlikely but possible that he joined with the 9/8/1915 draft. It is more likely he joined with the 14/8/1915 or 22/8/1915 drafts of men, which probably meant he was at the 47th Infantry Brigade Depot at Havre for a couple of days before being posted to the 8th Rifle Brigade.
The Battalion war diaries show that he served in and around the Ypres/Arras and Poperinge areas before moving down to the Somme area just before the battle of Flers and on the 15th September 1916.
According to Trevor Pidgeon (Flers & Gueudecourt 2002), the men of the 14 Division (of which the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade were part) were deployed along the Longueval-Ginchy road and out into the fields north of Delville Wood. The area was called the Brewery so-called because of the trench names Beer, Ale, Hop, Lager, Stout, Bitter, Pilsen, Pint, Porter and VAT. Many of these trenches were still held by the Germans so that when the British advanced they would be superb enfilade targets for the German machine gun and rifle fire.
The leading troops at zero hour were to be the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade and the 8th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. William’s Company (Company “C”) was in Brown Trench. At zero hour the Company was to advance in a north easterly direction towards Flers.
According to the war diaries of the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade, there was an intense bombardment at zero hour (6.20 a.m.). The battalion moved forward under the barrage. For the first 150 yards casualties were reasonably light, however in the next 200 yards they came under heavy fire and the casualties were very high. This was mainly due to heavy fire from Pint Trench. It is likely but not certain that William was killed during that fateful 200 yards. The Battalion did continue its advance and by around 7.00 a.m. had captured its objective, Switch Trench, but in doing so encountered formidable resistance involving fierce hand to hand fighting, so he may have been killed there.
Captain S. J. Worsley, D.S.O., M.C. describes the fighting around Delville Wood as follows:-
Every semblance of a trench seemed full of dead-sodden, squelchy, swollen bodies. Fortunately the blackening faces were invisible except when Verey lights lit up the indescribable scene. Not a tree stood whole in that wood. Several, including myself, had dysentery, and that in a ghastly battered trench with no prospect of medical attention. After all, we stood and lay on putrefying bodies and the wonder was that the disease did not finish off what the shells of the enemy had started. There was hand-to-hand fighting with knives, bombs, and bayonets; cursing and brutality on both sides such as men can be responsible for when it is a question of "your life or mine"; mud and filthy stench; dysentery and unattended wounds; shortage of food and water and ammunition.
From an historic point of view the attack was the very first to see the use of the new ‘tanks’ in combat. The Rifle Brigade was to be protected by Tank D1, commanded by Captain Harold Mortimore. Although the tank was able to clear the Brewery Trench, it was early on hit by a shell which put it out of action. William’s Company (“C”) were within a hundred yards or so of the tank.
It has not been possible to discover exactly how he died, by bullet, shell, grenade or hand to hand fighting. However, following his death, some personal possessions were returned to his parents. So at some point I assume there must have been an identifiable body (which it is always possible was buried in a makeshift grave). But as his death is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing, then the body or possibly grave must have subsequently been destroyed.
William James Robinson like the millions of other young men of his generation lived, fought and died in conditions so horrendous that we can scarcely comprehend. His sacrifice will be remembered in perpetuity by a grateful family. His body lies somewhere in that corner of a foreign field that will be forever England.
2nd Lieut Lewis John Dalgliesh Butt 16th (Service) Bn. The Rifle Brigade (d.4th Jul 1916)I would like more information on 2nd Lt Butt, who I am currently researching. He was the son of The Revd. Canon G.H.Butt and I have letters he sent from the trenches to his wife Marian Ida Butt.
He joined the 16th (Service) Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (St Pancras)in late 1914/early 1915. He was promoted to 2nd Lieut on the 21st October 1915 and sent to France on 8th March 1916.
He met up with his brother Captain Harry A. Butt of the Gloucestershire Regt. in France in May 1916 as he was stationed nearby. Unfortunately Harry was killed a couple of weeks later on 8th June which Lewis probably never knew about. Lewis was killed on 4th July 1916 and is buried at Le Touret, Northern France not far from Harry's final resting place.
Private William Bridges 22nd Wessex & Welsh Rifle Brigade (d.27th Jun 1918)William Bridges died at the age of 52 and is buried in Salonika Cemetry in Greece, grave/memorial No:1430.
Rfm. Edward Thomas Selby 7th Battalion, C Coy Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consorts Own) (d.4th June 1917)Thomas Selby died of wounds in hospital at Le Treport, he was 34 years old. R I P.
Pte. Arthur Edmond Orsler 1st Battalion. Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) (d.2nd Oct 1917)My Grandfather, Arthur Orsler was a newsagent. He married in 1915 and his only child, my Father, was born later that year, after my Grandfather had gone off to war. My Grandfather never came back and his only child was left orphaned a couple of years later.
Rfm. Percy James Hayden 8th Btn. Rifle BrigadePercy Hayden was my father. From his War Record he joined the Army in 1917 and embarked for France 17 Feb 1918, was reported missing 23/30 March and then a POW at Stendal. I am wondering if it is possible to find out where he was taken prisoner.
L/Cpl. Cecil " " Stewart 12th Btn. The Rifle Brigade (d. 1st May 1917)My Grandfather Cecil Stewart died at the 48th Casualty Clearing Station at Bray sur Somme on the 1st May 1917 (a quiet period) He was 27 years old. The war diary notes that on the 27th April a platoon post was hit by a shell. 4 other ranks killed (all buried at Bellincourt where the action took place) and 5 other ranks injured.
The 12th Rifle Brigade were a service batallion recruited from around Stratford/West Ham/Stepney - East London. All those buried at Bellincourt are from these areas of London.
My mother (his only child) was three months old at the time. In peacetime he was painter and decorator - one of Haig's 'cannon fodder' who joined up in 1915. Prior to his death he survived actions at Ypres and the Somme
Pte. Charles Henry Morrison 17th Battalion Rifle BrigadeCharles Henry Morrison was my Grandfather, he died in 1921 and his name is on the monument at the East London Cemetery, he was a rifleman, enlisted from Poplar and Stepney men. He enlisted in WW1 but it is difficult to trace his movements as most ww1 papers got destroyed in the blitz.
When Charles died in the Fulham Military Hopital he left a young widow and five young children, he was only 32. My Grandmother recieved ten shillings a week as a war widow, there was no income support back then, she was evicted from a flat in Limehouse and the family went from room to room, my mother Emma had no shoes to wear. She had a young brother also named Charles and he had been born an imbecile, my grandmother had no choice but to take him to a children's mental institution, the hospital was St Lawrence's at Caterham, he was only 5. There were to be no visitors for Charles as the family were desperately poor, imagine that child with no visitors until he died at the age of 24 from TB. He is buried in the unapt name of Happy Valley a golf course laid in the grounds of the hospital. I did trace Charles Junior and laid flowers on the mound where he is buried with dozens of other inmates, who died from TB. Charles therefore was a victim of the war as well as my grandfather.
Charles Senior had another 2 sons who fought for Great Britain in WW2, both came home safe, but Uncle Tommy was blown up at Albert Docks while unloading food for London, and a further cousin Danny died at Dunkirk. I am 70 years of age but I never forget the courage and the sadness that arose from WW1 and WW2. I honour all the brave men that gave their lives for this country of ours.
Cpl. William George King 6th Btn. Ox & Bucks Light InfantryMy Dad, William King, joined up in Wolverton on 14 November 1914, aged almost 21. He first went to France in April 1915 as, having previously been in Wolverton TA, he was classed as an experienced soldier. I believe he was involved in the battle of Festubert south of Vimy Ridge in the Bethune area. I am currently trying to find out where else he was whilst in Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. He left them in 1917 after being recommended for a commission.
He did his officer's training at Bristol University. He was commissioned in April 1918 & joined the Rifle Brigade. A war diary entry for September 1918 shows he was among a group of 2nd Lieutenants who joined the regiment at a village in Northern France called Frevillers. The diarist described this village as "quite the nicest billet we have been in for many a long time, we have organised a sports day for the local children who run for pennies we throw to them". I, my husband and son have been privileged to have walked along the road running through this village where my father walked in September 1918 when he was just 24 years old.
He was injured some weeks later and demobbed in 1919 from Chiseldon in Wiltshire, only a few miles from where he would eventually spend the rest of his life.
Pte. Frederick Critchell 3rd Btn. Rifle Brigade (d.26th June 1917)I do not know much about my great grandfather, Fred Critchell and most of my older relatives on my mother's side of the family have all died before I started my family research.
I do however believe that at the time of his enlistment he lied about his age and added approx. 5yrs to his age. He was married by this time to a woman older than him as well. She was pregnant for a 3rd time by the time he left for duty and gave birth to a baby boy in 1916. I do not know when my great grandfather enlisted, but do know it was in Woolwich, Kent. I also do not know if he knew about his last son. Before he enlisted, he worked as a labourer. This is all I know at this time.
Rfm. Frank Cliffe 12th Battalion Rifle Regiment (d.25th Sep 1915)Frank Cliffe was my great uncle. He joined up in Sept 1914, at Winchester. He then went to Larkhill, from there he landed in Boulogne. He then took part in the Battle of Loos, in the attack at Pietre, where he was killed on the 25th of September 1915, on the first day of the Battle, at the age of 19yrs.
Rfm. George William Southam 12th Battalion Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) (d.8th Sep 1915)George Southam was almost 20 years old when he died from War wounds in France and Flanders. I know very little of the man himself, as I am researching in regards to my family tree, and have traced him to be my 1st cousin twice removed. He was the eldest of his siblings and was the only one who was able to fight, my heart goes out to all of those who fought in any of the wars, and to anybody who lost somebody dear.
Rfm. William Arthur Winnett 13th Btn Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade (d.11th Apr 1917)William Winnett was the brother of my great-grandfather and I have just found out that he died in Arras, France on 11th April 1917. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Rfm. Thomas Owen 5th Btn. Rifle BrigadeThomas Owen was my grandfather on my mother's side. Unfortunately I never knew him or anything about him and as my mother was orphaned as a very young girl, she never knew him either. The information I have here was gleaned from his War Service Record.
Thomas Owen enlisted in the army on 8 October 1914, just 2 months after the birth of his first child and the following day he found himself at Tidworth Park Camp. He was transferred to the 5th Battalion The Rifle Brigade in June 1915 and was posted to France on 28 July 1915. On 27 September 1915 he was wounded in France and returned to England. Thomas went back to France in January 1916 but on 26 March 1916 he was shot in the leg and returned to England. As a result of his wounds he was invalided out of the army and his discharge papers show that he was then in the 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade.
I would be very interested to learn anything about the battles fought by the Rifle Brigade that might help me piece together his WW1 service.
Pte. John William Taylor 12th Btn. Rifle Brigade (d.7th Jan 1917)Jack Taylor was one of 4 killed men when a German shell burst in the trench. Three others were wounded.
Pte. James Leahy 2nd Btn. Rifle Brigade (d.13th Mar 1915)My great great great uncle, James Leahy, fought in the First World War. We traced him through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.His name is on the Le Touret Cemetery. We visited there about 4 years ago and it is kept really beautifully.W e also visited the Royal Green Jackets in Winchester where we were given a copy of his Battalion diaries for the days up to, and a few days following, including the day he was killed in action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. We also visited the area where the battles would have taken place very very moving. We laid flowers around the area we looked at for our James, as well as laying them at the cemetery where his name is engraved. There is also a book at the Cemetery which is available for relatives to look at which, when we looked it, had James' parents' names in there.
If any one has any photographs of the 2nd battalion Rifle Brigade I would love to see them.
Sjt. Charles Casio Lawrence MM. 7th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade (d.12th Oct 1917)He is my Grandfather's Uncle, born to a working class family in Hackney in 1894. He had several jobs culminating in being a plasterer's mate in 1911 and living in a very small back street flat with his mother. Come the outbreak of war in 1914 he must have joined the patriotic crowds and volunteered on 31/8/1914. He was posted to the 7th RB and trained around Aldershot and Churt in Surrey. The battalion marched out of their final training camp on 19 May 1915 and on 20th May entered the rest camp upon arrival in France. Charley was in C Company, one of whose officers was Lt Talbot, son of the Bishop of Winchester and the inspiration for the Toc H movement which sprang up during the war as a rest and relaxation centre for troops around Ypres. He would have been heavily involved in the carnage at Hooge Crater on 30 July 1916 where Lt Talbot was killed and the battalion suffered heavy casualties. They had been relieved after a tour in the front line and marched back to the rest area. Within an hour they received orders to be ready to return to the front and within two hours were returning, heavily laden with rations and as much ammunition as they could carry. Soon after 1pm they counter attacked the German positions but failed no one got within each of the enemy.
As to casualties the war diary states" ...A current casualty list is very hard to prepare without details from the clearing stations and owing to many being killed and wounded beyond reach at present - the following is approximate - Officers, missing 1,killed 6,wounded 4, shock 1. during the week the Batt'n has lost 8 officers killed, 1 missing 7 wounded. All the Captains and 2nd in commands of Coys are amongst these. casualties in Other Ranks cannot be computed yet. Roughly 300 on 30 July." Charley initially seems to have been 'a bit of a lad' but must have settled down and in December 1916 was gazetted for the award of the Military Medal. This was possibly won for actions during the Battle of Flers Courcellete on 15th September 1916. My Grandfather remembers that he was awarded it for "chucking hand grenades at the Germans" At about this time he was fairly rapidly promoted to Sergeant. Charley appears to have suffered shell shock several times in this later period. From what can be deduced from his record he never returned to England after marching out in 1915. The day of his death, 12 October 1917 seems to have been a very ordinary day for the battalion. Nothing of note is recorded by the battalion war diary, just a matter of fact entry recording the day's casualties. Rest in Peace Uncle
Rfm. Joseph James Randall 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade (d.1st Feb 1915)My grandfather, Joseph James Randall was killed in action on 1st February 1915. His body was never found but he is listed on the Ploegsteert Memorial. I have not been able to find out any information about him and would be grateful if anyone has any information. He was killed two weeks before my father was born.
L/Cpl. Charles Joseph Beacham 4th Battalion The Rifle Brigade (d.25th Aug 1915)This is taken from an article in a magazine called Light and Truth dated October 1915:
Fell In Action, August 25TH 1915.
A/Cpl. Charles Joseph Beacham, 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, was one of our heroic men who answered his country's call last December. He had previously served his King nine years in India, and after three years' service in the Homeland, he returned to civil life, and was free from further military service. Notwithstanding this, when war broke out he felt the call of duty, and in reply to his wife said: "I should feel a coward if I stayed at home." So on December 4 he again answered the call of King and Country.
He and his excellent wife joined us in membership at St. George's Hall some three years ago. Mr. Beacham's duties prevented his being in regular attendance at divine worship on Sundays, but when off duty it was a pleasure to see him and his wife sitting together in the House of God.
We greatly sympathise with Mrs. Beacham in her sore bereavement; she is a capable worker, and rendered this Mission valued service during the great Dock Strike both as a voluntary visitor and assistant in the extra clerical work which the Strike involved.
Her husband is one of the many obscure, unknown heroes of this terrible war, who, if they had their due, would doubtless have received the Victoria Cross for distinguished and heroic service. Mrs. Beacham was accustomed to receive a daily letter from her husband, and has given me the privilege of reading some of them, from one of which I have taken the liberty of making the following extracts.
This letter was written from:- "Somewhere, 15/5/1915. "...I am pleased to say I am in the best of condition again. My slight wound has healed up. The captain of my company was shot down and me and my chum were called on to pick him up, and we had to carry him across an open space, where shells were bursting and falling like rain, but, thank God we got him through safe, and ourselves, except for a wound behind the right ear for me, and my chum was hit on the right knee. It was as if we were walking to our deaths, for scores fell trying to reach the other side, and we went through it three times and only got slightly wounded, and mine is quite healed now. Then, two days after, we had a badly wounded man in the trench, and they asked for two volunteers to carry him to safety, and me and my chum carried him away, and the Germans fired on us all the way. Shells were bursting all round us as we carried him down the road, then we got into a ditch and walked along that but they still fired, then we got into the growing corn and, thank God we got him to safety. There is no doubt God's guarding hand has been over us two during the last week, for we have faced death to help others and pulled through. The doctor says we were heroes, but the sacrifice was too great, and he could not understand men facing death like that. I told him we were thinking of the wounded man not of ourselves. At the time I lost all my belongings...all we had was what we stood up in...My regiment has been in the heaviest and thickest fighting, and about 300 of us faced thousands of Germans and kept them back and saved the situation, and they are all proud of us and say they do not know how we kept them back as we were only a handful; they could have walked over us, but they have not got the pluck to face our bayonets. I will tell you all about it when I come home...Have you read the story of Neuve Chapelle...Our battalion made their name there and my chum was recommended for gallantry there. Poor Humphrys is dead, Manville was hit in the back, and I carried Jimmy Fryer out on a stretcher from the trenches on Wednesday night, shot in the stomach."
What manner of men and women ought you and I be for whom such a price is being paid?
Pte. Richard Gribbin 8th Btn. Rifle Brigade Prince Condort's Own Regime (d.30th July 1915)It would appear that Richard's regiment was on the front line at the Hooge Crater near Ypres. His death is recorded as 30th July 1915 . His body was never found. Was he in the forefront of the 'Liquid Fire' used in this area on that date? Is that how he died? His name is remembered on Menin Gate.
Our family were proud to visit Menin Gate see his name and be part of the Last Post ceremony which is portrayed there every night at 8.00p.m. We definitely should 'Remember Them'
Rifleman James Thomas Herrmann 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade (d.15th October 1917)My mother was 3 years old at the time of her father's death and her brother who was 6 years old living with their mother in Fulham. One Sunday in 1916 my mother, brother and grandmother took a walk by the River Thames at Putney where Jimmy got into trouble in the tidal flow. My Grandmother, who could not swim, got herself into difficulties attempting to save her son. She was drowned but two boys who were fishing managed to save Jimmy.
My Grandfather was not allowed at the time to return to England for his wife's funeral and when he was able to return to arrange for the children, he married the sister of my Grandmother. He then returned to Belgium and was wounded and died 15th October 1917. My Mother never forgot these terible events in her life and I will be visiting my Grandfather's grave at Dozinghem to pay my respects to my Grandfather
Rfm. Leslie Childs 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consorts Own) (d.21st June 1917)I recently found out that my Great Uncle, Les Childs was killed in action in June 1917 and is buried in Perth Cemetery China Wall. He was 19 years of age. Perth cemetery is small in comparison to Tyne Cot and was originally a French cemetery. It is near Zillebeke. The name China Wall refers to the name the troops gave to a communication trench. I would welcome any information on action on this part of the Western front in June 1917.
His younger brother, my grandfather, was gassed on the Somme in 1916 but survived the war.
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