Sunday, 18 October 2015

Lavenham, Suffolk


I was in Lavenham yesterday, and took photos of the impressive stone war memorial inside the church of St Peter and St Paul. Not for the first time, I was staggered at just how many names were recorded there were from what is and was a small community.

I was drawn to two men with the surname WELHAM. I have this name in my own family tree, and my maternal grandmother was a WHELLAMS by birth, the name having changed over the course of a hundred years or so.  The Roll of Honour website has done a great job on the Lavenham war memorial but has drawn a blank on two of the WELHAM men. I did a little bit of digging this evening and wonder whether I have identified one of them.

The Lavenham memorial notes Corporal R Welham, Suffolk Regiment, and I wonder whether this is in fact 7785 Lance-Corporal Richard Welhams, a regular soldier who appeared with his regiment on the 1911 census and who, judging by his regimental number, must have joined the regiment in late October or early November 1908. Born in Portsmouth, he enlisted in nearby Sudbury and lost his life serving with the 11th Suffolk Regiment on the 22nd March 1918. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras memorial.

I note that Alfred Welham, as recorded on the memorial, was also a regular Suffolk Regiment man (number 7265) who also enlisted at Sudbury and was killed in action on the 26th August 1914. Could he and Richard Welham/s be brothers I wonder? More digging required.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

2nd Grenadier Guards - 11th October 1915


One hundred years ago today, the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards lost 17 men killed in action or died of wounds. Their names are:

15856 SGT ARTHUR CHARLES BAILEY
17463 PTE ARTHUR BAMFORD
14344 L-CPL EDWARD BLAKEMAN
19014 PTE HERBERT BREARLEY
17179 PTE ALBERT THOMAS BRINKMAN
16250 PTE ERNEST CRIPPS
12388 PTE BEN LEONARD
18630 PTE WILLIAM EDGAR MEECH
18491 L-CPL WALTER MONTAGUE
15520 PTE SAMUEL MORRIS
18739 PTE RICHARD ERNEST ROBERTS
20678 PTE WILFRED ROGERS
18509 PTE GEORGE SHERLOCK
10950 PTE WILLIAM SHIPP
17793 PTE CLEMENT STYLES
12933 PTE FLORENCE SULLIVAN
15023 PTE ERNEST W WARREN

The battalion was in the old German lines at Vermelles, having relieved the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards on the afternoon of the 9th. The following day, the battalion had been bombed by aerial torpedoes all day but later that evening, No 1 Company had successfully captured 150 yards of German trenches and then held their newly won ground against three German counter-attacks. The war diary for the 11th states:

"A quiet day until 5pm when the trenches were bombarded heavily for two hours and were badly knocked about. Battalion worked hard all night to repair damage..."

Looking at the men's regimental numbers I see that eight of the casualties that day were men who had joined before August 1914 whilst nine had joined in August or later. Wilfred Rogers, joining in the second half of November 1914 was the most inexperienced man killed that day, whilst William Shipp was an old hand who had joined the regiment in 1903 but may have been on the reserve since 1906. 

The majority of the men are buried in St Mary's Advanced Dressing Station cemetery at Haisnes; a cemetery established after the Armistice as a result of remains brought in from the Loos battlefield. There are nearly 2000 casualties in the cemetery and only 218 of these identified.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Naval & Military Press