The Fallen Of World War I: The Men Behind The Memorials Rod Moulding
Like most English villages, Great Horwood lost a number of its young men in the Great War, the “War To End All Wars”. In giving their lives these men earned our undying gratitude.
Great Horwood has not one but two World War I memorials. The obvious and more public one is in the High Street, set into the South wall of the churchyard of St James, the parish church. This is the memorial that features in the annual Remembrance Day commemoration.
The Memorial in Great Horwood High Street, listing all the soldiers who served in the Great War including the casualties.
The other is inside St James, on the East wall of the South aisle, and consists of a small but beautifully calligraphed set of names in gold on a red background. No information is available on this unusual memorial, and it is not known which of the two came first.
The Memorial inside the Church of St James, Great Horwood
Sadly there are discrepancies between the two memorials, and it is impossible to say which is “right” or “wrong”. This note will include every name mentioned on either of the memorials as a death (the High Street memorial also includes all those who served in the Great War but survived). Sources include War Office service, pension and medal (award) records, the 1901 and 1911 Censuses of England and Wales; births, marriages and deaths as recorded by the General Register Office, the War Diaries and other regimental records of certain units, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, various steamers’ passenger lists, contemporary local and national newspaper reports, and the “Buckinghamshire Remembers” website.
Please note that similar amounts of information are not available for every casualty. Apart from anything else, about 40% of the Short Service records of volunteers were lost in a fire, and regimental records are quite variable. Hopefully we have done justice to all those brave men.
First to make the ultimate sacrifice was Joseph Henry Clarke. He was born in Singleborough in the second quarter of 1892 to Emmanuel (a “threshing engine machinist” and later a labourer) and Louisa Clarke (née Yeates). A horseman on a farm, Joseph Henry lived with his parents at Vine Cottage, Main Street, Singleborough. An early volunteer, he enlisted in late August 1914 in Oxford and joined the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards. Posted to France, he was wounded in an action near Cambrin and Guinchy and on 26 January 1915 died of his wounds aged just 22. He is buried in Beuvry Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.
Percival Jonah George was killed in action at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, Turkey on 21 August 1915. The Buckinghamshire Yeomanry (the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars) had sailed for Egypt on 9 April 1915 as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Landing at Alexandria, they then trained at or near Cairo until 9 August when orders were received to proceed on active service as infantry. The regiment, with other yeomanry units from Berkshire and Dorset, sailed from Alexandria on 14 August and arrived, after trans-shipping, off Gallipoli early in the morning of 18 August. Bivouacking initially at Suvla Bay, the Yeomanry marched on 20 August to Lala Baba. On 21 August orders were received to attack Hill 70. In a disastrous day, just 178 other ranks and 3 officers of the Bucks Yeomanry returned to camp of the 312 other ranks and 9 officers who had set off that day. The entire Brigade staff of 4 officers was killed. Percival Jonah George was one of the Bucks Yeomanry casualties, and has no known grave. He is commemorated on Panel 17 of the Helles Memorial at the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. Percival was born in the June quarter of 1894 and baptised at St James on 17 June 1894. He was the second son and youngest child of Jonah George and his wife Mary Ann (née Clark) and worked on his parents’ farm, now known as Great Furze House, Pilch Lane. Although only 21 when he was killed, Percival left £360 4s 4d, equivalent to about £32,000 today.
Arthur John Dell is recorded on the High Street memorial as simply “J. Dell” and does not appear at all on the St James memorial. He died of burns on 14 August 1916 following an accident at the Royal Flying Corps’ “X” Aircraft Park at Abbassia, Egypt. He had been promoted to Air Mechanic 1st Class in the RFC just two weeks earlier. At his enlistment in Bletchley on 19 August 1915 he asserted that he had served in the Canadian Governor General’s Body Guard, a cavalry regiment not a close protection squad, but it has not yet been possible to find any confirming record. He certainly appears to have emigrated to Canada, landing in Quebec from the Canadian Pacific Line’s Lake Champlain on 3 June 1904, but no record has yet been found of his return to England. Born in the December quarter of 1886 at Wigginton, Hertfordshire, Arthur John was the son of David Dell, one-time licensee of the Six Lords inn at Singleborough and later of the New Inn at Nash, and his wife Annie (née Burch). He is buried in Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt (grave F.60).
Ernest William Ridgway (mis-spelled as “Ridgeway” by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) was killed in action on 9 April 1917 in the Battle of Arras, France, and is buried at Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Mofflaines (Grave III. E. 18), near Arras. He enlisted in Oxford as a private in the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry, and was 22 years old. Ernest was a farm labourer and lived at The Common, Great Horwood with his parents Reuben (also a farm labourer) and Ann Amelia Ridgway (née Ridgway). He was the eldest son and had three brothers and two sisters.
Alfred George Emerton Willmer is incorrectly recorded on the High Street memorial as “A.C. Willmer” and does not appear at all on the St James memorial. He was the eldest son of Alfred Emerton Willmer, the Great Horwood miller and later organist of St James, and his wife Mildred Martha (née Grainge), later of South Hill Park, Hampstead, London. Born in Great Horwood on 8 January 1898 and baptised at St James on 9 April 1898, he was killed in action in the Battle of Arras on 14 April 1917 but has no known grave. He enlisted in London and was a Rifleman in the 1st/9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles); he is commemorated on Bay 10 of the Arras Memorial, France.
Harry Hall was born in Great Horwood in the first quarter of 1891, the son of Samuel Hall (a milker on a farm and later a labourer; he could not read or write) and his wife Emma Jane (née Mallett). Harry was a cowman on a farm (he declared himself as a horseman to the recruiting officer). He lived with his parents and his sisters Sarah and Ann Jane at Singleborough Road, Great Horwood. Enlisting at Bletchley on 15 November 1915, Harry joined the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry but later transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Wounded during the Warwickshire’s engagement at Savy, he died of his wounds on 30 April 1917 and is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery (grave II.J.5A), near Boulogne, Pas-de-Calais, France.
William Thomas Marks died of wounds in Salonika (Thessaloniki), Greece on 17 May 1917, probably following the British attack on the Bulgarian forces at Lake Doiran, and is buried in Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery (formerly known as the Anglo-French Military Cemetery) (grave 1035). He was a corporal in the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry; born in Great Horwood in the June quarter of 1896 and baptised at St James’ on 29 May 1896, he was a cowman on a farm, the son of Jabez Marks, a sawyer and later a labourer, and his wife Sarah (née Smith) of Wigwell, Great Horwood. There are suggestions that Thomas was married, but no clear evidence has emerged. Francis John Marks (q.v.) was his brother.
William Thomas Marks, who died of wounds on 17 May 1917, around the time of his 21st birthday.
Arthur George Marks, serving as a shoeing smith in the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, part of the 6th Mounted Brigade within the Egypt Expeditionary Force, was killed in action on 13 November 1917 during the Battle of Mughar Ridge, Palestine, in a cavalry charge against the opposing Ottoman (Turkish) forces. He is buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel. He too had been a cowman on a farm, and was born in Great Horwood in the March quarter of 1891 and baptised at St James on 8 February 1891, the son of Mark Marks, a waggoner on a farm, and his wife Emma Marks (née Marks) of Winslow Road, Great Horwood.
Harry Hancock was killed in action on 23 March 1918. His name appears on the High Street memorial but not as a casualty (i.e. not marked with a dagger †), and in some records (mistakenly) as “Herbert”. He enlisted at Bletchley on 22 June 1915 and was a private in the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry; he has no known grave but is commemorated at the Pozières Memorial on the Somme, France (Panels 50/51). Born in Great Horwood (not Warwickshire as some records suggest; the same erroneous records also assert that he was married) in the December quarter of 1894 and baptised at St James on 30 April 1895, Harry was a farm labourer, the son of Thomas James Hancock (a labourer and part-time cobbler) and Sarah, his wife (née Lee), of Wigwell, Great Horwood. He was the younger brother of Cecil Thomas James Hancock (q.v.) who was killed on 25 June 1918.
Edward Jordan is recorded as a casualty on the memorial inside St James but not in the High Street. In 1911 his elderly parents, Samuel and Helen (née Viccars) Jordan, were living at Ivy Cottage, Great Horwood having moved there from North London, doubtless because of Helen’s family connection. Samuel had retired as a commercial traveller in “British and foreign dress goods”. Edward was born in the June quarter of 1888 in Tuffnell Park, London and enlisted on 23 August 1916, leaving his job as a carpet salesman. He served in the 7th Battalion, later the 1st Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, rising rapidly through the ranks; by the time he was killed in action on 9 April 1918 aged 29 or 30 he had attained the rank of Captain. He is commemorated at the Ploegsteert Memorial at Comines-Warneton, Belgium (Panel 6) but has no known grave.
Bertie Royce was killed in action on 12 April 1918 in the Battle of Hazebrouck but has no known grave. He is also commemorated at the Ploegsteert Memorial (Panel 1). Having enlisted in Buckingham, he was a private in the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards. Born in Great Horwood in the June quarter of 1895 and baptised at St James on 2 June 1895, Bertie was a farm labourer and had lived at The Green, Great Horwood, with his parents Henry (a bootmaker, who could not read or write) and Harriet Alice Royce (née Mallett). In the September quarter of 1917 he married Lilian Lee but they do not appear to have had any children. Lilian was re-married (to Arthur Sears) in 1920.
Stanley George Viccars emigrated from Great Horwood to Australia in 1912. He became a (cattle) station overseer there, and enlisted at Ungarie, New South Wales as a private in the 1st Battalion, Australian Infantry. He served two tours of duty on the Western Front, earning promotion to Second Lieutenant and then in May 1918 to Lieutenant. He was killed in action on 21 May 1918 and is buried at La Kreule Military Cemetery, Hazebrouck, Nord, France (grave I.D.1). The son of William Anderson Viccars, a coal merchant, and his wife Mary Barfoot (née King) of Little Horwood Road, Great Horwood, he was born in Brondesbury, North London.
Cecil Thomas James Hancock died on active service on 25 June 1918 at the age of 26. His death came as his battalion took part in the Italian Army’s decisive victory (with British and French assistance) over Austro-Hungarian forces in the Second Battle of Piave River, but Cecil was nowhere near the front line and sadly died of influenza. He is buried in Bordighera British Cemetery near San Remo, Italy (grave II.B.6). Cecil, sometimes known as Ceasor, had been in the Oxon & Bucks Light Infantry but at the time of his death was a private in the 1st/6th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. Before enlisting, Cecil was a farm labourer, the son of Thomas James Hancock (a labourer and part-time cobbler) and Sarah, his wife née Lee, of Wigwell, Great Horwood. His birth registration has not been found. Cecil was the eldest brother of Harry Hancock (q.v.) who had been killed on 23 March 1918.
Francis John Marks, a younger brother of William Thomas Marks (q.v.), enlisted in Aylesbury and was a private in the 52nd (Graduated) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, based at Cromer, Norfolk. Just 18, Frank died after an inoculation during the 1918 flu epidemic; after a short period of home leave for recuperation he was sent to the 1st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge where he died on 2 November 1918. He was buried on 7 November 1918 in the churchyard of St James.
Francis John Marks, who died, aged 18, on 2nd November 1918.
Finally, the St James memorial (but not the High Street memorial) contains the name of John Chevallier. He was not a soldier but the Rector of Great Horwood. Wishing to free up a younger man for war service, he volunteered (aged 56) to go to Giggleswick School in Yorkshire to teach mathematics, but on 17 October 1917 was knocked down there by “a cyclist using lights obscured against aircraft”. He died of his injuries on 24 October 1917 and is buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St Alkelda, Giggleswick.
John Chevallier was not just a clergyman, but also a high-level academic mathematician. He attended Winchester College on a scholarship and went on to Trinity College, Cambridge with a mathematical scholarship, eventually graduating as 4th Wrangler (this arcane qualification showing him to have been almost the top mathematics undergraduate at Cambridge, a position which has been described as “the greatest intellectual achievement attainable in Britain”). Appointed to a Fellowship at New College, Oxford and a Tutor at Magdalen College, he became engaged to Marie Elizabeth Vulliamy and resigned his fellowship in order to be ordained and take up a New College living at Great Horwood.
The Rev John Chevallier
John Chevallier was born at Ipswich on 24 February 1862, the son of Dr Barrington Chevallier, medical superintendent of Ipswich Asylum, Suffolk (a JP and twice Mayor of Ipswich), and his second wife Mary Wardell (née Leach). He was a first cousin of Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, Secretary of State for War from 1914 onwards and inspiration for the iconic Lord Kitchener Wants You poster. Kitchener was killed by a German mine on 5 June 1916 while travelling in HMS Hampshire to Russia to negotiate with the regime. His mother was a Chevallier.
Lord Kitchener as recruiter. The original of countless imitations and pastiches
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