Tanks in WW1 played an extremely
important role as they increased mobility on the Western Front and
eventually broke the stalemate of trench warfare.
WAR DEAD MISSING FROM THE MEMORIAL.
In addition to the 107 servicemen whose names are inscribed on the
Tring War Memorial, the Dacorum Heritage Trust has identified a
further eight war dead who appear to have a connection with
the town, but
whose names do not appear on the Memorial. At this late date it is impossible
to say for sure why this is so. Possible reasons are that when, in
April 1919, the Vicar of Tring advertised for the names of Tring’s
war dead to be put forward for inscription on the Memorial there
were some friends/relatives who were unaware of the notice; possibly
others had no one in the town to act on their behalf; and
undoubtedly others - such as Ernest Barber (below) - died from the
effects of war service after the Memorial had been inscribed, and
here one assumes that the Town Council was not prepared to add
The missing names are as follows:
BARBER, Private Ernest, 1st/1st Bn. Hertfordshire Regiment,
Service No. 266355. Died from the effect of wounds and of
mustard gas on the 18th September 1920, aged 24. Son of
William and Sarah of 22 Miswell Lane, and brother of
Edward Barber V.C.
Ernest is buried together with his father in Tring Cemetery.
Edward’s death came after the War Memorial had been inscribed (which
seems to have been in April/May 1919), although there is space on
its steps for other names to be added (David Stephen Barnsdale, who
fell in the Afghanistan conflict, was added in 2014).
BEDFORD, Private Daniel Ronald, 29th (Works) Bn. Middlesex
Regiment, Service No. 76316 (transferred to the 389th Home Service
Employment Company Labour Corps.) of Ashford. Died of wounds on the
27th July 1917. Born in Tring.
The Labour Corps was formed on the 1st April 1917. It was made
up of personnel who were judged to be of a lower medical grade, or
older than frontline infantrymen. Although they had to be
sufficiently fit to undertake manual labour, they could not march
with full kit over 5 miles, or maybe they had poor eyesight.
Wounded infantrymen recovering their strength were also included.
Every member of the Labour Corps was medically re-examined every
month to see if they were sufficiently fit to return to the Front,
but as the war progressed, to address the shortage of frontline
troops the medical standard was reduced and many Labour Corps men
found themselves sent to infantry battalions. By the Armistice
the Labour Corps had grown to almost 390,000 men (more than 10% of
the total size of the Army), of which around 175,000 worked in the
United Kingdom with the rest in overseas theatres.
I can find no information on how Private Bedford came to suffer
fatal wounds. It is possible that he received his wounds in the
German bomber raid on Shorncliffe military camp (25th May
1917) in which 18 soldiers (16 Canadian and two British) were killed
and 90 others were wounded. Daniel is buried in the
Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Kent., an area in which a number of
military hospitals were located. The Shorncliffe Military
Cemetery contains 471 First World War burials, more than 300 of
which are Canadian.
BROOKS, Private George, Service No. T4/124596, Army Service
Corps, of St Albans. Born in Tring. Died of wounds in
Egypt (Base Horse Transport Depot, Army Service Corps, Egyptian
Expeditionary Force) on
the 10th July 1916. George is buried in the Alexandria (Hadra)
War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
The largest element of the Army Service Corps was the Horse
Transport section. Most Horse Transport Companies were under
orders of Divisions [Note],
with four normally being grouped into a Divisional Train.
Others were part of the Lines of Communication where they were
variously known by subtitles as Auxiliary Supply Companies or
Reserve Parks. Soldiers who served in the Horse Transport
usually had the letter T as a prefix to their army service number.
I have been unable to discover how Private Brooks received his
wounds, but it is possible that he had been evacuated, wounded, from
Gallipoli or the Middle Eastern Theatre, and died later in
After the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, Alexandria remained an
important hospital centre during later operations in Egypt and
Palestine and the port was much used by hospital ships and troop
transports bringing reinforcements and carrying the sick and wounded
out of the theatres of war. The Alexandria (Hadra) War
Memorial Cemetery was begun in April 1916 when it was realised that
the cemetery at Chatby would not be large enough. Most of the
burials were made from the Alexandria hospitals, but a number of
graves of December 1917 were due to the loss of the troop transports
“Aragon” and “Osmanieh” which were sunk by torpedo and mine as they
entered the port. The cemetery continued in use until December
1919, but some graves were later brought in from small burial
grounds in the western desert at Maadia and Rosetta.
BUSHELL, Private Charles Sansom, 2nd Bn. Wiltshire Regiment,
Service No: 36136. Born in Tring. Killed in action on
the 19th August 1918 aged 18. Son of William Joseph and
Margaret Mary of Gamnel, New Mill.
The 2nd Bn. Wiltshire Regiment War Diary for the 19th August 1918
gives no indication of the fate of Private Bushell, but it does show
that the battalion was in contact with the enemy and that their officers
were falling victim to gunfire and gas from which it follows that other
ranks were also exposed.
1918-08-18: Battalion in Support Trenches.
On the night 18/19th 2nd Wilts relieved 9th RWF [Royal
Welch Fusiliers] in the front line.
Relief complete 1.30am 19th. 2nd Lieut GM JEANS wounded.
1918-08-19: in trenches, Hinges, France.
Battalion in front line. “A” Coy
Right front company, “B” coy Left front company, “C” coy Left
support, “D” coy Right support. Patrols from “A” & “B” coys
went out at dawn to reconnoitre enemy positions but were held up by
heavy machine gun fire. In the afternoon the GOC rang up to
say that the Bosche was retiring on our left and instructed us to
push out patrols again. 2nd Lieut GD CHAPMAN “B” coy took out
a patrol and encountered the same opposition. 2nd Lieut
CHAPMAN was wounded in the arm by a machine gun bullet and was
evacuated to a Field Ambulance. On the right 2nd Lieut SWH
DANN of “A” coy pushed forward about 800 yards and established a
post. The Battalion on our right, the 8th GLOSTERS, pushed
forward and established posts in line with us. On the left the
1st WARWICKS were being relieved by the 2nd SEAFORTHS, 4th Div, and
did not move with us. Capt HW MARSH MC “D” coy went down badly
gassed. Lieut JH PEACOCK took over command of “D” coy.
During the early morning a man of “A” coy surprised and captured a
ration party of the enemy which had lost its way and was approaching
our line. 13 prisoners passed through the 57th Brigade and a
Sergt Major was brought to Battalion Headquarters. Word was
received that patrols were pushing forward from Battalions on our
flanks. “B” coy accordingly pushed forward to bring our left
in line with the SEAFORTHS. A forward Battalion Headquarters
in the ABERDEEN LINE and was manned by the Commanding Officer,
Second in Command, Intelligence Officer, Signallers, Runners and
Scouts. GOC visited advanced Headquarters in the morning.
Meanwhile patrols had pushed forward along the whole line and had
advanced so far that, owing to the Brigade boundary converging to a
point, the 58th Brigade was squeezed out. At 2pm orders were
received from Brigade to withdraw the Battalion to the ABERDEEN and
EDINBURGH LINES. Operation Orders were accordingly issued and
the companies withdrew by sections at 10 minutes intervals.
Battalion Headquarters moved back to GORDON HOUSE with the exception
of the Intelligence Officer who remained in the advanced
Headquarters in charge of Report Centre. At 10pm an inter
company relief took place. “C” coy relieving “B” coy in the
EDINBURGH LINE, “D” coy relieving “A” coy in the VERTBOIS LINE.
Charles is buried in the Le Vertannoy British Cemetery, Hinges,
Pas-de-Calais, France. His grave inscription reads: TWAS HARD TO
PART WITH HIM WE LOVED BUT JESUS KNOWS WHAT’S BEST.
Le Vertannoy British Cemetery was begun in April 1918, during the
Battles of the Lys, and was used by field ambulances, burial
officers and fighting units until the following September. It
contains 141 First World War burials, two of them unidentified.
COKER, Private Samuel, Service No. 10594, 1st Bn. Welsh
Regiment, of Tring. Born in Pitstone.
The 1st Bn Welsh Regiment mobilised for war as part of the 84th
Brigade, 28th Division [Note]
and landed at Le Havre on the 18th January 1915. During
March/April 1915 they were in the Dranoutre and Ploegsteert sectors
of the line in West Flanders, Belgium. Private Coker was
reported dead on the 5th March during a period that the battalion
War Diary reports as being “a very eventful time” without giving details of the events that gave rise to this description,
unless it related to fighting earlier in the month for which the
following casualties are given:
21st February: total casualties 16th to 22nd Feb, Killed or died of
wounds, 51: Wounded 26; Missing, 41.
From the casualty figures below one can only assume that Private
Coker was the person in “D” Company posted missing.
27th February 1915
Battalion marched to DRANOUTRE at 2p.m. - 3½ miles N.E. of BAILLEUL
and went into billets in two farms as Reserve Battalion of the E
Sector of defence DRANOUTRE Section.
28th Feb-3rd March 1915
At DRANOUTRE - Companies employed in making fascines and hurdles
2/Lieuts R. M. Garth and E. Newington and draft of 65 other ranks
joined from Base ROUEN on 3 March. On night 3/4 March the battalion
marched to the trenches – Headquarters at Pond Farm. “A” and “C” Coys in trenches, “B” & “D” Coys in support at COOKERS FARM.
4th-7th March 1915
In trenches. Companies relieved each other every 24 hours.
Headquarters changed to TEA FARM on 4th March. A very eventful
Samuel is buried in Dranouter Churchyard, Belgium, which contains 79
Commonwealth burials of the First World War.
CRAWLEY, Rifleman Harold Robin, Service No. S/10732, 9th
Battalion, Rifle Brigade, of Watford. Born in Tring, killed in action on
the 15th September 1916, aged 26.
The 9th (Service) Battalion, Rifle Brigade, was raised at Winchester
on the 21st August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s First New Army [Note]
and were attached to the 42nd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division
[Note]. The battalion
trained at Aldershot, then moved to Petworth in November, then to
return to Aldershot for final training in February 1915.
They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on the 19th of May
1915. They fought in the Action of Hooge (21st April-25th May)
– being the first division to be attacked with flamethrowers [Note]
– and in the Second Attack on Bellewaarde (25th September). In
1916 they saw action on the Somme in The Battle of Delville
Wood (15th July–3rd September) and the Battle of Fler-Courcelette
Judging from the date of his death, it is likely that Rifleman
Crawley fell during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. This
battle commenced on the 15th September with an Anglo-French attack
on the German First Army, which began the third phase of the Battle
of the Somme. [Note] By its conclusion
on 22nd September, the strategic objective of a decisive victory had
not been achieved. Although the attack fell short of its
desired objective it inflicted many casualties on the German
frontline divisions and the capture of the villages of Courcelette,
Martinpuich and Flers were a considerable tactical victory; that
said, the Germans recovered quickly. Overall, the battle was a
moderately successful set-piece attack by 1916 standards, but its
plan was too ambitious and mistakes were made in the use of
artillery and tanks (their first appearance on the battlefield).
The relevant pages of the 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade War
Diary are missing, but the 9th Kings Royal Rifle Corps War Diary
refers to the 9th Rifles during fighting in which both battalions
took part on the day of Rifleman Crawley’s death. Thus the
references taken from the K.R.R.C. Diary that follow give a
description of the action in which he too was involved, and in which
all but one of the 9th Rif. Brig. officers were killed.
15th September 1916
6-20 am: Battn. moved from MONTAUBAN ALLEY to YORK ALLEY & CHECK
LINE being on the right of the 5th Oxf & bucks L.I. and behind the
9th Rif. Brig.
8am: At this time the 9th Rif. Brig. appeared to be
bearing away too far to the right and were only in front of the
right half company of “A” Company.
About 9am: The 9th Rif. Brig. had stopped advancing
and were forming a line more or less parallel with GIRD TRENCH,
their left being about N.32 c.9.0.
About 9.30am: I asked captain Merryweather, then commanding the
9th Rif. Brig. what were his intentions. He told me that
the 9th Rif. Brig. intended to attack GIRD TRENCH
under our barrage, at the appointed time, according to programme.
Seeing that his battalion were very weak, I told him that the 9
K.R.Rif.C. would advance in close support of the 9th Rif.
9.30am: The battalion was organised in two lines behind the 9th Rif.
Brig., ready to advance behind the 9th Rif. Brig.
Battn. Hdqtrs established at T.2.c.3.7., from where a good view of
front could be obtained.
9.30am to 11.20am: Our guns did not appear to be shelling GIRD
TRENCH or GIRD SUPPORT much, only desultory shelling by heavy guns
11.20am: Although no friendly barrage of Field Guns was on GIRD
TRENCH the 9th Rif. Brig. tried to advance on this trench, but as
soon as they got on to the rising ground in front of them a hostile
machine gun situated about N.52.d.9.3. prevented them advancing -
all their remaining officers were killed except one very junior
officer - their attack failed. Seeing this I assumed
command of the small remainder of the 9th Rif. Brig.
Dated 18th Sept 1916, Major Commanding 9th K.R.R.C.
The above extracts give only slight indication of the heavy fighting
in which the 9th Rif. Brig. and the 9th K.R.R.C. were involved, and
the heavy losses that both sustained.
Harold was the son of Sabrina and the late
Joseph. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial,
(The Rifle Brigade war dead are commemorated on panels 16B & 16C).
DOCKERTY, Private Frank (Frank Dockerty’s
connection with the town appears doubtful and the Dacorum
Heritage Trust has been unable to provide me with details), Service No. 25/923, 25th (Tyneside
Irish) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. Son of Helena
Docherty (nee Mahoney) and the late Francis Docherty. Killed
in action on the 1st July 1916 aged 28. A keen footballer, he
played for Jarrow and Willington Quay early in his career, and just
before WW1 for Everton and Fulham. A brother, Sergeant William
Docherty, had fallen in January.
Often known as the “Fighting Fifth” – the Regiment was until 1881
the Fifth Foot – the Northumberland Fusiliers raised no fewer than
51 battalions for service in the Great War, which makes it the
second largest after the London Regiment. The 25th (Service)
Battalion (2nd Tyneside Irish) was formed at Newcastle on the 9th
November, 1914, by the Lord Mayor and City. In June 1915 the
battalion came under orders of the 103rd Brigade, 34th Division, and
after final training on Salisbury Plain landed in France in January
1916. During 1916 it was engaged in various actions on the
Western front including The Battle of Albert (1st-3rd July), The
Battle of Bazentin Ridge (14th-17th July), The Battle of Pozieres
Ridge (23rd July-3rd Sept) and The Battle of Flers-Courcelette
(15th-22nd Sept). Judging from the date of his death and the
battalion’s location it appears that Private Dockerty was killed
during the Battle of Albert. The Battalion War Diary for the
1st and 2nd July describes this bloody encounter as follows: