Today we are also paying our respects to Walter Needham of Bourne who was killed this very day 101 years ago and buried in Ervillers Military Cemetery. We are honoured to be able to pay our respects to this local family man in person last year at Ervillers on the 100th Anniversary of his death.
Walter was born in 1889 in Thurlby to John William Needham a timber feller of Thurlby and his wife Eliza (Eva) kemp from Luxfield, Suffolk. They had 6 children in total before Eliza passed away in 1904.
John William remarried to Florence Mary Brown in 1906 and they had a further two children.
I’m 1911 Walter was living with the Reeve family in Moulton Marsh and working as a Waggoner on a farm.
Walter married Elizabeth Ellen Rowlett in 1913 in Bourne. They had two children, Ernest 1914 and Ethel in 1916.
Walter enlisted in Bourne and was posted to the 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment.
The Battalion started April in Courcelles-Le-Compte undertaking preparations for a 2nd attack on Groisilles. Moved up at 8.20pm
2nd April- attack on enemy lines 5-15am. Attack a complete success. Casualties 1 officer and 26 other ranks wounded. 22 prisoners taken by Battalion. Relieved by 2nd Royal Warwicks at 11pm. Returned to former Billets at Courcelles.
3rd April – cleaning up. Moved to Puisieux at 2pm
4th April – Resting and cleaning up generally
5th 6th 7th April – whole Battalion employed on Railway construction.
8th April – Sunday, Devine services held
9th April – Battalion employed in repairing roads
10th April – General training. Weather very bad, falls of snow
11th April – training during forenoon, moved to Logeast Wood in afternoon. Heavy falls of rain and snow.
12th April – Battalion returned to former Billets at Puisieux.
13th April – Weather improved, General Training.
14th April – Half Battalion employed on working parties, remainder training
15th April – Enemy attacked and temporarily occupied Lagnicourt. Battalion stood to to assist in retaking it if necessary but retaken by Anzacs. Stood down at 10:30am and 380 men on fatigue duties.
16th April – portion of Battalion working parties, remainder training.
17th April- heavy fall of snow. Battalion moved to Gomiecourt coming under orders of 187th infantry brigade.
18th April – Battalion relieved 21st Manchesters in trenches south east of Croiselles. Relief complete at 12:40am 19th
19th April – trench duty, A company heavily shelled at railway embankment (Sheet 51B.U.25)
Casualties 1 officer wounded, 2 other ranks killed, 8 other ranks wounded.
20th April – as above casualties 1 officer wounded, 3 other ranks killed and 20 other ranks wounded. Heavy shelling.
21st April – as above casualties 5 other ranks wounded. Relieved by 2nd Gordons at 11:50pm to camp at A.30.c.7.7 near Gomiecourt.
Walter died of wounds on 20th April 1917 likely from the shelling of the 19th or 20th April in the trenches at the railway embankment.
The Grantham Journal, Saturday 19th May in an article headlined Local Casualties. The following is part of the article:
“A memorial service for Private Sherwin and Private W Needham was held on Sunday at the Abbey Church”.
In the same paper under the Headline. Thurlby Roll of Honour
“Another well known village lad has made the great sacrifice in the person of Private Walter Needham whose father has recently heard the sad news. The second son of Mr William Needham of Northorpe, Private Needham had been in the army for two years. He was a quite industrious lad and much respected in the village”
After the war, in 1922, Walter’s widow Elizabeth remarried to Walter’s brother Joseph.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Walter Needham 24852, 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, who died on 20th April 1917, aged 28. Son of John William and Eliza Needham, Husband of Elizabeth Ellen Needham of 8 Waterside, Willoughby Road, Bourne, Lincs.
Remembered with honour, Ervillers Military Cemetery.
We Will Remember Them.