Biography of (Signaller) Elijah Needham (201223)
2nd Lincolnshire Regiment
Formerly 3842 1st/4th Lincolnshire Regiment
Died 29th May 1918
- Name: Elijah Needham
Date of birth: 1897
Place of Birth: Thurlby, Lincolnshire, England
Date of Birth Registration: October – December 1897
Place of Birth Registration: Bourne, Lincolnshire, England
- Name: Sandall Needham
- DOB: 1873
- Place of Birth: Thurlby, Lincolnshire, England
- Occupation: Horseman at woodyard
- Name: Sarah Burgess
- DOB: 1873
- Place Of Birth: London, England
- Marriage: 1894 Bourne District
Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
- Sarah Elizabeth Needham, 1895, Thurlby
John Needham, 1896, Thurlby
Elijah Needham, 1897, Thurlby
Sandall Needham, 1901, Thurlby
Ruby Needham, 1905, Thurlby
Reginald Needham, 1908, Thurlby
William Needham, 1910, Thurlby
- 1901: Elijah is living with his parents in Thurlby Green, Thurlby, Lincolnshire
- 1911: Elijah is living with his parents in Thurlby, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 13 and he is listed as a farm labourer.
- No marriage for Elijah has been found and because of his age we can assume that he never had the opportunity to marry.
- Grantham Journal Saturday 22nd June 1918
KILLED IN ACTION – Mr and Mrs Sandall Needham heard the sad news on Wednesday that their second son, Elijah had been killed in the last German offensive. He was seen by his mate, Edward Brown also of this village to go into the Lincs but never saw him again. Corpl. E Needham was just 20 years of age and previous to joining up on his 18th birthday was employed on a straw baler by Messrs, Sneath and Son. He had been in France for fifteen months being wounded and gassed last year. He was a splendid type of soldier and quickly won promotion. This is Mr and Mrs Needham’s second son who has made the great sacrifice, their eldest boy Jack being killed last year. Much sympathy is expressed towards them, the more so as the father has been seriously ill for ten weeks and has been ordered to a sanatorium.
- None found
Soldier’s Died In The Great War
- These records show that Private Elijah Needham, 201223, 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was killed in action on 29th May 1918 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders.
Effects Left To
- Mother Sarah
- The British Medal
The Victory Medal
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
© Picture taken by South Lincolnshire War Memorials
Military Service Timeline
Elijah Joined the army on his 18th birthday according to newspaper articles, although his battalion number of 3842 is pointing to an enlistment around may 1915. The soldier’s died in the great war records point at a Lincoln enlistment. Not much more is known of his military life as his full service records are not to be found. They are most likely part of the 60% of all WW1 records that were destroyed in a London Warehouse fire in the ww2 blitz.
Initially Elijah joined the 1/4th Lincolnshire regiment but at some point was posted to the 2nd Battalion Lincolns. A newspaper clipping gives light that he probably was posted abroad and was also gassed. On his death Elijah was serving with the 2nd Battalion not the 1/4th.
The mains reasons for a man moving battalions was either at the end of basic training where they would be posted to a Battalion with more need of replacements, or the other case was that they had been injured and after recuperating would once again be posted to a Battalion with more need of men. It is not certainly which case Elijah falls into but with the newspaper clipping mentioning being gassed this is the most likely scenario.
Elijah’s second regimental number of 201223 most likely was issued to him in 1917 when the territorial force was renumbered. As the 4th Battalion was a territorial force we have to assume that Elijah was still with the 4th battalion in 1917 when this took place.
Because we do not know if he was posted abroad with the 1/4th or the 2nd Battalions then we can only take up his story in his final days where it is certain he is with the 2nd Battalion.
The Battalion started out May 1918 near Hazebrouck and the Battalion Diary tells the story of Elijah’s last month as a signaller in the 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment:-
1st May 1918 – Camp Nr Busseboom
Battalion marched to billets nr Beauvoorde
2nd May 1918 – Beauvoorde
Battalion marched to camp nr Lederzeele
3rd / 4th May 1918 – Lederzeele
Battalion resting, cleaning up and reorganising
5th May 1918 – Lederzeele
Battalion marched to Arques and entrained about 2.45 am (6th)
6th May 1918 – In Train
7th May 1918 – In Train
Battalion detrained at Savigny and marched to camp at Lhery
8th – 11th May 1918 – Lhery
In camp at Lhery, work, company training, specialist training and range practice
12th May 1918 – Lhery
Battalion Marched to Vaux-Varennes area and moved into camp nr Bouvancourt
13th May 1918 – Bouvancourt
Battalion marched to position in Brigade reserve and takes over camp from the 11th Battalion of Chausseurs-A-Pied near Chalons-Le-Vergeur
14th – 20th May 1918 – Camp A Chalons-Le_Vergeur
Battalion in Brigade Reserve. Work, Company Training, specialist training etc.
21st May 1918 – Chalons-Le-Vergeur
Battalion relieved 1st battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in front line trenches near Sapignuel. Nucleus party under the command of Major Bakieme. Remaining in camp at Chalons-Le-Vergeur
22nd – 26th May 1918 – Front Line Trenches
In front line trenches
27th May 1918 – Front Line Trenches
The enemy opened a heavy bombardment of gas and other shells which continued until about 4am. At this hour, under a thick smoke screen, the enemy attacked, and apparently broke through the line to the right of the sector held by the Battalion, who seem to have been almost immediately surrounded. Two officers and about 30 other ranks only getting away. The nucleus party and transport moved back to a point (approx) 1 1/2 miles South East of Bouvancourt.
Transport continued the retirement. Brigade nucleus parties under the command of Major Winter Northumberland Fusiliers, after covering the retirement marched to Pevy.
28th May 1918 – Pevy
A defensive position was taken up on the high ground E of Prouilly. This position though heavily attacked was held until the evening, when the whole force were ordered to withdraw across the Vesle River. The Battalion Nucleus Party were then ordered to defend a portion of the river and a line of posts were occupied about 1 mile East of Muizon. This line was held until 7.30pm on the 29th May.
29th May 1918 – Near Muizon
The enemy made repeated attacks during the day but was held off until evening about 7pm. A heavy enemy bombardment commenced, this lasted til 7.30pm, when the line gavev way on both flanks. The Battalion party were almost enveloped before this was discovered but managed to withdraw under cover of the woods, and after reforming marched to Mery-Premecy
30th May 1918 – Mery-Premecy
March continued to Marfaux, and after halting for breakfast, marched to Vauciennes.
31st May 1918 – Vauciennes
March continues to Soulieres
(attached Roll of casualties for period 1-31st May 1918).
2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
List of Casualties
Rank Name Casualty
2nd Lt R W Hartley Wounded & Missing 29.5.18
2nd Lt W E Deavin Wounded 29.5.18 – Rejoined 27.5.18
Lt Col R Bastard DSO Missing 27.5.18
Captain J T Preston Missing 27.5.18
Captain H Marshall Missing 27.5.18
Captain G R Holliday MC Missing 27.5.18
Lieut G Matson Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt F Donell Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt F Havers Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt C Race Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt M D Grieve Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt V Nocton Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt S G Sole MC Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt A R Braddy Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt E L Jones Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt B W Pye Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt L J Turner Missing 27.5.18
2nd Lt R W Osgerby Missing 27.5.18
Lieut M.O A McCormick RAMC Missing 27.5.18
Lieut F F Davies Wounded at duty 29.5.18
Elijah Needham was one of the missing men reported on the 29th May 1918.
- WW1 Soldier’s Records (www.ancestry.co.uk)
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- British Newspaper Archive.