Remembrance – Alfred Thompson

Our second remembrance of today is Alfred Thompson who was killed this day, 8th June 1917, serving with the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, commemorated on the Bourne and Arras memorials. One of two 4th Battalion men from the Bourne area to fall on this day

Alfred Thompson was born late in 1897 in Little Horton, near Bradford, to George Thompson a railway worker and his wife Annie Susannah Osbourne, both born in Little Horton. George and Annie were married in 1891 in St Peter’s Bradford and were blessed with their first of three children in 1895.
• James Thompson, 1895, Little Horton
• Ellen Thompson, 1896, Little Horton
• Alfred Thompson, 1897, Little Horton

In 1901 the young family are living in Horton where George was working as a carter for the railway and Susannah (Annie Susannah) as a Worsted Spinner.

10 years later Annie (Annie Susannah), Ellen and Alfred can be found living with her parents in Darton Street Bradford. Annie and both children are working in a Worsted Spinning factory and Alfred was employed as a Doffer. A Doffer took the full bobbins off the spinning machines and replaced them with empty ones. George has not been found on the 1911 census to date although Annie lists that she has been married for 18 years and so it is to be assumed that George is still alive.

In September 1913 Annie Susannah, referred to variously as Annie or Susannah Hubbard in official records, remarried to Charles Hubbard in Deeping St Nicholas Fen and in 1919 was living in Tongue End near Bourne Lincolnshire.

As Alfred’s army records have not been found, assumed to have been destroyed in the London Blitz warehouse fire, we can only trace his movements through the surviving records and so some of the dates and information may be approximate.

Alfred enlisted into the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in Spalding around May or June 1915, although the exact date is unknown. The medal rolls show that he has three separate entries for Battalions served, first the 4th Lincs (3941), then the 5th Lincs (3941) and finally the 4th Lincs again (201275).

Alfred enlisted originally into the 4th Battalion and after training was posted to France to join his battalion on 10th December 1915. At that time the Battalion were in Thiennes and on the 22nd December 1915 an entry in the Battalion Diary reports that “106 Reinforcements arrived from the 3/4th Battalion at 2.30pm, kit inspection held on arrival”. This would be Alfred’s first meeting with his Battalion ion the field.

The prospect of a long winter in the trenches was dispelled during the month of January by orders to the 46th Division to embark for Egypt at an early date, and on the 7th January both the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions left Marseilles in T.S.S. “ Anchises.”
The vessel reached Alexandria on the 13th January and they left by rail for El Shalufa, two miles south of the Bitter Lakes, where, after detraining, they crossed the Suez Canal by ferry, and bivouacked to the east of it.
By day the desert to the east was patrolled by Indian Lancers, but by night each battalion, in turn, furnished an outpost line round the camp. The days were very hot, and the nights cold; any wind that blew carried clouds of dust; nevertheless a fortnight passed very pleasantly.

This peaceful existence came to an end when the 46th Division received sudden orders to return to France, and on the 4th February the 4th Battalion embarked at Alexandria on the “ Minnewaska,” and the 5th on the “ Megantic,” disembarking in Marseilles on the 9th February 1916.
The evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula set free a large number of troops for service in Egypt and the 46th Division was in consequence ordered back to France.

The Battalion then spend time in Ailly Le Haute Clocher training until the end of February and then on to Doullens, it would not be until the 11th of March 1916 that the Battalion would be back in trenches since the 2nd December and Alfred’s first taste of the trenches. Later it in the month was a movement for the Battalion and into trenches around Fonquevillers for June.

Eventually they would be given orders for a Zero Time of 7-30am for a planned attack on the 1st July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Their orders were to “take over a trench line south of the Gommecourt Road on the night of 27th/28th” This was to be their sector for the big push and they were to attack Gommecourt although the 4th battalion was not in the front wave.
The Battalion Diary does not give much detail for the Battle of the Somme and they remained in the trenches until the 8th July when they were relived and dropped back to Bienvillers to provide working parties.

Alfred’s next mention in any documents is on the 10th July 1916 when we find A Thompson of B Company 1/4th Lincs being admitted to the 2nd General Hospital at Le Havre with Suppuration of the Lymph Glands, axilla (Axillary Lymph Nodes). After two days in the General Hospital he was transferred to H.S. Carisbrook Castle and returned to England.

Usually after convalescence, if fully fighting fit, a man would be pushed back to the front but depending upon the level of fitness obtained it was possible that they were assigned to a Home Service Unit for duties such as defending ammunitions factories, military facilities or docks until the point when they were declared fit for a return to the Front.
It was very usual for a man to be sent back to France and then at the base camp be assigned or posted to a Battalion or Regiment that needed men as reinforcements the most urgently.

We have no records to say what happened in Alfred’s case although his medal roles show that he was posted to the 5th Battalion (still with regimental number 3941) and then back to the 4th Battalion (regimental number 201275) at some point in his war story. All we can say for certain is that when he was killed he was back with the 4th Battalion.

The following shows the movements of the 4th Battalion in the month before Arthur Thompson’s death and are taken from the 4th Battalion diaries. This is the most accurate way of seeing Arthur’s movements over the last days of his life.

May 28th 1917 – Bovigny Boyeffles
The 138th Brigade (Lincolns and Leicesters) was withdrawn from the line, the 4th Battalion Lincolns taking up billets at Bouvigny Boyeffles. There it was that the striking news reached them. The Battalion had been honoured by the command to take part in an extensive enterprise on a 2000 yards front North West., West and South West of Lens. The 138th Infantry Brigade being further represented by the 5th Leicesters. Our Battalion was thrilled with the news and one heard repeatedly the remark “Our first real chance since Hohenzollern”

29th May – June 3rd 1917 – Bouvigny Boyeffles
Training began in earnest. A replica to scale of the ground over which the attack would be launched was planned and laid out at Marqueffles Farm a mile or so South East of Bouvigny. From “assembly trenches” one’s eye ranged forward to persuasive notice boards announcing in bold letters “Railway Cutting” and “Bridge Destroyed”, on past crinoline wire entanglements to objective trenches, first and second line strongholds of the enemy, strangely quiescent, and labelled according to their map designations, Ahead, Agnes, Alcove, Archie, Alice, Amy, Admiral and Annie such were the communications and trenches guarding hill 65. These it was, the Battalion was to storm.
Daily to the practice ground went the Battalion joined by D Company (captain Wakeley) of the 4th Leicesters – our “Moppers-up” elect. The artillery and machine gun barrage to cover our advance and keep the impetuous in check was indicated by flagmen and thus the progress of the attacking waves was directed.
On six successive days the course was covered. Forward at Zero to the “Cutting”, half right form to face the objective trenches, B Company then edging away to the left, half D Company inclining to the right and joining up with C Company on that flank. “Moppers-up” in position behind the first wave – Gradually the movement attained a clock work precision and every man wac capable of pushing his path blindfold.
On the seventh day Dress rehersal. General Holland 1st Corps Commander, General W Thwaites 46th Division G.O.C, Colonel Thorpe Commanding 138th Infantry Brigade (Whose presence and responsibility for the tactical dispositions inspired the confidence of all ranks), and their staffs surveyed the final training bout. Fully equipped with arms, spades, picks, bombs, lights and flares the “Attack” began. The repeated “Toot toot” of a “claxton” from a contact plane aloft completed the programme. Flares were lighted to announce the progress of the advance.

4th June 1917
The higher commands were satisfied. It only remained to form up and receive the confident good wishes of the staff, and , with a full day’s rest on the morrow, all were ready and impatient for the real thing.

5th June 1917
A day of well-earned rest.

6th June 1917
On the morning of the June 6th the Commanding Officer announced to the Battalion, at a special parade, that plans had been altered and instead of the premeditated operation the attack was to be a series of destructive raids. The same evening the Battalion marched away from Bouvigny and billeted in the ruins of Cite Des Bureaux, Lievin.

7th June 1917 – Cite Des Bureaux, Lievin

8th June 1917 – Cite Des Riaumont
The 8th June arrived – a perfect summer day. The afternoon was spent in moving up to the cellars in Cite De Riaumont adjoining the assembly trenches. All Companies reached these without mishap except D Company which lost the services of 2nd Lieut E A Dennis (13 Platoon) wounded by one of the enemy’s shells that were already finding our starting zone.
Time crept on towards zero. “Sausages” enlivened the waiting period as they crashed on and around the ruins which sheltered us. Well before 8pm “C”, “D” and “B” Companies were in position in their respective assembly trenches. In some way the enemy seems to have known our timed movements and intentions. The intensity of the barrage to which the assembled troops was subjected was and experience no one on the spot is likely to forget.
“D” Company fared worst as, while the bombardment of their sector was accurate to a degree, on the flank sectors it was sufficiently plus to miss the assembled platoons.

At Zero – 3 Captain R D Ellis commanding D Company and Captain Wakeley O.C. 4th Leicesters “Mopping-Up” Company were caught by the same shell as they came into position in the rear trench. Both were killed outright.

At 8:30pm the synchronised signal to advance was given. C Company on the right got away without mishap, two platoons South of Cutting and one under 2nd Lieut A B Hardy, who was wounded almost immediately, to bring covering fire from the Cutting. D Company in the centre as soon as they “Jumped Off”, by ranks and increased intervals to lessen gaps, showed the effects of their experience in the assembly trenches. B Company on the left were a joy to behold as they went over the line.
The Cutting was reached.
D Company by this time reduced by half its number and B company, already caught by the enemy’s guns, scaled the further slope of the Cutting together and advanced to their objectives. Captain E.J.S. Maples commanding B Company was at this juncture struck in the forearm by an ugly piece of shell case but continued the advance with his men. Owing to the position of their line being oblique to the “A” Barrage and the stokes mortars which were to deal with this sector being put out of action, the enemy had time to man his trenches from his dug-outs. C Company with the platoon of the 5th Leicester’s on their right were completely held up. When the first waves of “D” & “B” Companies reached the first German trench his barrage was already on it, and a temporary check occurred until the reinforcing waves came up. Owing to this check we were unable to keep up with our barrage, and the enemy had lined his second trench before our arrival there. Hand to hand fighting ensued and after a further advance of D Company to the South and B Company to the East the odds became overwhelming. We fell back first to Ahead and then the Cutting. Meantime Sergeant Quinton E, with his platoon got further afield than the rest. It was during this stage of the fight that B Company lost 2nd Lieut R T Thomson and 2nd Lieut H C Chase, both of whom died gloriously, the former a result of a second wound and the latter from a shell burst. Sergeant E Quinton, B Company, and his platoon after several attempts to re-join their comrades, in which they repeatedly bumped up against strong parties of the enemy, finally succeeded in rushing an opposition post and fighting their way back to our line, after having been in the German lines for four hours; a triumph of leadership on the part of Sergeant E Quinton. The demolished bridge on the right flank was at once mamed, and under 2nd Liuet W F Maskell (D Company 14 Platoon) kept the enemy at respectful distance, sterling work being done by the Lewis gun. The front of the Cutting was lines by the remnant of B and D Companies under Captain E J S Maples and was held until orders for withdrawal to Assembly Trenches was received, A Company having manned our original line of posts. It was not till then that Captain E J S Maples withdrew from the fight and had his arm properly dressed, some 3 hours after he was wounded.

The greatest assistance had been rendered throughout by the 138th Machine Gun Company under Major A A Ellwood, a 4th Lincoln officer and particularly by a detachment of two of his guns under Lieut Stentiford, manned by 4th Lincolns.

The attack on the right hand had gone well, A Company 4th Leicesters having reached their objectives and sent back 27 prisoners.

9th June 1917 – Chateau (Leivin)
The day was spent reorganising Companies. Evacuation of wounded continues and by night search parties went out, discovering two more wounded men and a number of dead, who before had been reckoned as missing. On the night of the 9th we were relieved by the 5th Lincolns and moved to billets in Aix Noulette. Here we rested that night and also the following day.

10th June 1917 – Aix Noulette
In the afternoon we were honoured by a visit of the G.O.C the Battalion paraded in clean fatigue and were addressed by the General. He expressed himself well pleased with the excellent fighting qualities our men showed, and with the number of Boches they killed.

On the night of the 10th we moved into support in Lievin.

Private Alfred Thompson was killed in the actions that took place during the attack on the 8th June.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Alfred Thompson, 201275, 1st/4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 8 June 1917 Age 19. Son of Mrs Susannah Hubbard (formerly Thompson) Tongue End, Spalding, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Arras Memorial.

We Will Remember Them…/alfred-…/

Remembrance – Ernest Codling

Today we remember Bourne man Ernest Codling who was killed in action on this day, 8th June 1917, serving with the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment during the second day of the Battle of Messines Ridge.

Ernest Codling was born on the 28th August 1896 at 51 King Street Lincoln to John Codling, a railway porter from Lincoln and his wife Mary Elizabeth Cobb. John and Mary were married in Lincoln in 1892.

John and Mary had 8 children in total, unfortunately they had lost 3 of them before 1911.

  • Albert Codling, 1893, Lincoln
  • Gertrude Mary Codling, 1894, Lincoln
  • Ernest Codling, 1896, Lincoln
  • John William Codling, 1906, Lincoln
  • Doris May Codling, 1910, Lincoln

The three children they lost were between census returns and so their names are not currently known.

In 1901 John, Mary and their three children were living at 37 Queen Street Lincoln. The next year Ernest started St Peter at Gowts infants school on the 11th June 1902 where he remained until 22nd August 1905. The National Schools admission register indicates that when leaving St Peter at Gowts Ernest went on to attend the newly re-organised St Andrews school in St Andrews Street Lincoln.

By 1911 Ernest had moved from home and was living with his uncle, William Marshall Codling, at Watering Dyke Farm, Grange-de-Lings near Nettleham, Lincoln. Here he worked as a farm servant and the census lists his job as “odd duties”.

Ernest later moved back to live with his parents at 1 Naan Cottages, Grey Street, Lincoln and started working as a warehouseman.

During the war years the family moved to Bourne and settled there. Whilst in Bourne the family received the sad new that Ernest’s oldest brother, Albert, who had joined the Lincolnshire Regiment before the war, had been killed in May 1915 in the area around Ypres.

Ernest enlisted into the army at Lincoln on the 8th December 1914.

Ernest’s full service records, like that of 60% of the men from WW1 cannot be found. It is likely that they are part of the records destroyed in a London warehouse fire during the Blitz. The following story of Ernest’s war has been pieced together with as much accuracy as possible for other surviving records.

The medal rolls also show that Ernest has three separate regimental numbers tied into different Battalions of the Lincolnshire regiment. It is likely that on enlistment he was assigned to the 4th Battalion (3442) to start training. The associated medal card shows that he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star and certainly no 1914/15 star medal roll has been found which would support this fact. You would assume that he did not serve abroad before the end of 1915 however other documents may dispute this fact. Until recent documents were found with regards to a wounded list it was always thought that Ernest did not serve abroad until 1916.

The 4th Battalion had been mobilised for war and landed at Harvre on the 1st March 1915 as part of the 138th Brigade of the 46th Division. There is no documentary evidence to say that Ernest was amongst this first mobilisation and if he had started training immediately on enlistment it could be possible but without the proof we will not describe the exact movements of the 4th Battalion at this point.

Albert Codling, Ernest’s brother was also serving with the 4th Battalion and certainly was part of the first mobilisation in March 1915. Albert had been killed on the 13th May in fighting around Lindenhoek and it is possible that Ernest was already in the Battalion fighting at the same time.

During 1915 the Battalion would also be involved in the first liquid fire attack at Hooge.

We next find that on the Army’s Casualty List issued by the war office on the 28th October 1915, Private Ernest Codling 3442, 4th Battalion, serving in France and Flanders was listed as “Wounded”. In our experience these lists could be as much as 4 weeks and in extreme cases 6 weeks behind real life and therefore the exact date of being wounded and the nature of this remains unknown for now.

During September the Battalion had been at Bellewarde just outside Ypres but during the first week of October they were moved to Busnettes, North-West of Bethune where they underwent training. On the 8th the officers were taken to Vermelles where they inspected the trenches and got a first look at the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The rest of the men would see a model of the Redout 2 days later as part of their training.

On the 13th October the Hohenzollern Redoubt was taken, the 4th Lincs in support of the 5th Lincs and 4th Leics but at great cost to the Battalion with 10 officers and 385 other ranks falling as casualties.

It is not known if it was this action where Ernest was wounded or if it was during the time in late September near Ypres.

After a man had recovered from his injuries, if bad enough he would be sent back for convalescence rather than his old Battalion until a time when he was classed as medically fit re-join a Battalion. In many cases the attrition rate and the rate of replacements was so great that it was most likely that they would be placed into a Battalion that was in most need of experienced men. This may be the trigger for Ernest being posted to the 5th Battalion Lincolnshire regiment (20047) or his later posting to the 6th Battalion (40635), in both cases we have no documentary proof of the dates.

There are similar 200xx regimental numbering ranges being used by men joining the Supernumery Companies of the 5th Lincs around September 1915 (reserve companies on home service), and so we suspect that Ernest Joined a company of the 5th Lincs when he was fit enough and this may have been at one of the base camps or back in England. It is possible that he was then posted to the 6th Battalion when he regained A1 fitness. This is a possibility based on other records for men around a similar time but without any documentary proof plus we have no further wounded lists that support a second injury or posting to the 6th battalion.

We do know that when he was killed, Ernest Codling was with the 6th Battalion and so we can only look at his movements during his last month. Unfortunately, the diaries for the 6th Battalion from this period are largely unreadable and so a ful transcription may take a long while and a lot of patience.

The following extract is from “The History of the 6th Service Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment” by Colonel F.G. Spring, and is the best source of information for this period (May 1917). For clarity the 6th Battalion were Part of the 33rd Infantry Brigade of the 11th Division, 2nd Army.  

“The maintenance of pressure on the Arras front, which kept the enemy constantly on the alert, enabled final preparations to be made for the opening of the Flanders offensive, which was to begin with the Battle of Messines.

The actual front selected for this operation extended between nine and ten miles from a point opposite St. Yves to Mount Sorrel. The objective of the attack was a group of hills known as the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, which lies about midway between Armentières and Ypres. Messines itself is situated on the southern spur of the ridge which commands a wide view of the valley of the Lys and enfiladed the British lines to the south. North-west of Messines, Wytschaete, situated at the point of the salient and on the highest part of the ridge, commanded a view of almost the entire town of Ypres and all the old British positions in the Ypres Salient.

A special feature in the operations due to take place on the 7th of June was one original in warfare – the explosion of nineteen deep mines at the moment of assault. No such mining feat had ever before been attempted. In the construction of these mines, eight thousand yards of gallery had been driven and over one million pounds of explosives used.

Nine divisions were to take part in the actual assault, and three were in support, among which was the 11th Division who latter lay opposite Wytschaete, and in rear of the 16th Division at the centre of the attack.

Having left Albert (Somme) on the night of 17th/18th of May, the 6th Lincolns detrained at Caëstre and marched to Le Thieushouck where they were billeted. The first three days at Le Thieushouck were spent in interior economy and company training, although the training was greatly restricted by the highly cultivated state of the surrounding ground. On May 22nd the Division was informed that it was to take part in the coming operations, and two days later the Battalion marched to a training area situated on the frontier between France and Belgium, about six miles in rear of the Wytschaete sector. The following two weeks there were spent in training for the attack.

The 11th Division received orders to pass through the 16th Division when the latter had captured its objective. The role of the 33rd Brigade was to pass through and capture a trench system three miles east of Wytschaete.

At midday on the 6th of June orders were received to attack the following morning. Preparations were quickly made and at 11.30 p.m. the Lincolnshire marched to Butterfly Farm, two miles from the front line, to await final orders.

As dawn was breaking on the 7th, there was a sudden rumbling of the earth, huge flames shot up, clouds of smoke, dust and debris, a rocking of the ground – as the nineteen mines “went up.” Before one was able to regain one’s normal faculties, there was another deafening crash as the barrage roared out from a thousand guns. The 6th Lincolns had taken up a position among the “Heavies” and were almost stunned by the ear-splitting din of the monsters as they roared and poured a hail of big shells upon the wretched Germans.

The 6th Lincolns waited in suspense for the first results of the attack. The barrage still continued but at about 9 a.m., word was received that the 16th Division had taken their first two objectives and were pushing on to the third.

At about 11 a.m., orders were received to advance to the Vierstraat Switch, a trench running parallel to, and about a thousand yards behind, the British line.

At about midday the battalion reached its destination and the men had dinner, while Lieut.-Colonel Gater went to Brigade Headquarters for further orders.

Just after 2 p.m., he returned with the information that at 3 p.m., another barrage would fall under cover of which the battalion was to attack the third objective.

The forming-up place was to be two miles away on the further slope of the Wytschaete Ridge but the intervening ground was badly cut up by shell-holes, broken trenches and communication trenches full of troops and wounded men. The battalion, being scattered over a thousand yards of trench, had to be got together, and so as not to be late, Battalion Headquarters and ‘D’ Company started off and arrived at the forming-up line just as the barrage opened. The other companies had not yet come up, so Lieut.-Colonel Gater decided to push on with ‘D’ Company for fear of losing the barrage. ‘D’ Company shook out into artillery formation and advanced. Australian troops were on the right and portions of the 6th Border Regiment on the left, with the 7th South Staffords and 9th Sherwood Foresters in support and reserve respectively.

The enemy’s artillery opened fire as soon as our barrage fell but his barrage was weak and ill-directed, and many of his guns were effectively smothered by our fire. ‘D’ Company extended into line in two waves after passing through the first line of posts held by the 16th Division. Very little opposition was encountered: the enemy either ran or surrendered until the objective was nearly reached. Here the Germans attempted a counter-attack but with the assistance of tanks it was broken up, and by 5 p.m. the objective had been gained. Casualties during the attack had been extraordinarily light, ‘D’ Company losing only two or three men. The heaviest losses were in Battalion Headquarters: Lieutenant F.C. Thorn and Regimental-Sergeant-Major Smith and twenty Other Ranks being wounded.

The senior Company Commander, Captain Howis, brought up the remaining three companies with very few casualties. The appearance of these companies, comparatively fresh and intact, was of enormous value in consolidating the position. As dusk was falling the German guns began to shell the position heavily. Captain Sutherland was wounded in the face, and a platoon of ‘C’ Company, holding a strong point, was entirely wiped out (with the exception of and Lieutenant Read, who was badly wounded).

Early next morning on the 8th, another counter-attack developed which at one time looked serious until A Company, with Lewis gun and rifle-fire, succeeded in breaking it up. Second Lieutenant Rowlands was wounded and ‘A’ Company had altogether about a dozen casualties. One N.C.O. – Sergeant Biggadike – was conspicuous for his bravery; he died very gallantly, successfully maintaining his post which the enemy attempted to rush.

Lieut.-Colonel G.H. Gater was wounded in the face when leading ‘D’ Company to the attack but with great self-sacrifice remained at duty until his battalion went out of the line.

There was another counter-attack on the evening of the 9th, accompanied by heavy shell-fire, during which, to everyone’s regret, the Battalion Medical Officer, Captain Frere, was killed, and many other casualties were suffered.

On the night of the 10th/11th of June, the 6th Lincolns were relieved by the 34th Brigade and moved back to camp near Kemmel. The total casualties of the Battalion during the Battle of Messines 1917 were six officers and one hundred and sixty Other Ranks.

The Battalion remained in camp until the 18th of June, engaged in salvage work, and then began to march back in easy stages to Ganspette”.

Ernest Codling was killed in action on the 8th June whilst taking part in the planned offensive described above.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private E Codling, 40635, 6th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 8 June 1917
Remembered with honour, Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

Ernest is buried in Messines Ridge cemetery no more than 4 miles from Lindenhoek Chalet where his brother Albert is buried, having been killed on the 13th May 1915 in operations with the 4th Battalion.

Ernest’s photograph courtesy of Jonathan Smith

Remembrance – Albert Codling

Today we remember Bourne and Lincoln man, Lance-Corporal Albert Codling, who was killed in action on 13th May 1915 serving with the 1/4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

Albert Codling was born on 15th December 1892 at 51 King Street Lincoln to John Codling, a railway porter from Lincoln and his wife Mary Elizabeth Cobb.

John and Mary were married in Lincoln in 1892 having 8 children born there:-
-Albert Codling, 1893, Lincoln
-Gertrude Mary Codling, 1894, Lincoln
-Ernest Codling, 1896, Lincoln
-Frank Codling, 1899, Lincoln (Died 1901)
-Elsie Codling, 1901, Lincoln (Died 1904)
-Edith Codling, 1904, Lincoln (Died 1905)
-John William Codling, 1906, Lincoln
-Doris May Codling, 1910, Lincoln

In 1901 John, Mary and their three children were living at 37 Queen Street Lincoln. 10 years later the family had moved and were now living at 1 Naam Cottages, Grey Street, Lincoln, as found on the 1911 census. John is still working as a railway porter and now the 18 year old Albert is working in a cake mill making cattle cake.

Albert had a change of career and started to work for the Midland Railway as a drayman.

In May 1912 Albert enlisted in Lincoln with the Lincolnshire Regiment, given the regimental number 1608 and posted to the 4th Battalion, a territorial battalion.

Unfortunately Albert’s full service records are not to be found, most likely destroyed during the warehouse fire in London in the Blitz that destroyed 60% of all WW1 service records. The following story tracks Albert’s life in the army from other available sources. We have also added some background information about the 4th Battalion that covers the period between his enlistment and the Battalion embarking for France.

The following information is taken from the History of The Lincolnshire Regiment by C R Simpson.

“At the outbreak of war the Lincolnshire Regiment was made up of 5 Battalions. The 1st and 2nd were the regular battalions, the 3rd Battalion was a militia battalion and the 4th and 5th Battalions were the territorial battalions.
The 4th Battalion was based at the Drill Hall in Lincoln whilst the 5th was based in the north of the county.
On the 25th of July, 1914, the 4th battalion (Lieut.-Colonel J.W. Jessop) and 5th Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel T.E. Sandall) were assembled at Bridlington for their usual annual
“Territorial Battalion” training, but on the 2nd of August, received orders to return to their Headquarters on the 3rd. By the afternoon of the 4th both battalions had returned to their respective Headquarters and been dismissed with orders to hold themselves in readiness to assemble at their Drill Halls on receipt of the hourly expected orders to mobilise. These came during the evening. The 5th, the first day of mobilisation, was one of great excitement and activity. At that early period only five Territorial battalions had signed the General Service obligation “ to serve overseas if required in time of national danger,” but on the declaration of war it was not long before the majority of Territorial units throughout the country volunteered for service overseas whenever they were required.

The first duties which fell to the lot of the Lincolnshire Territorials were to guard Grimsby Docks and Harbour, to protect the electric power station, wireless station at Weelsby and the construction of defences at the mouth of the Humber.

On the 10th of August, both battalions reported mobilisation complete and the following day they entrained for Belper, the War Station of the Lincolnshire and Leicestershire Brigade. For the next few days training consisted chiefly of route marching with full equipment. On the 15th, however, a move was made to Luton, which for several months was the home of the North Midland Division, the Lincolnshire being billeted in the town.

On the 15th of September, 1914, the Government called on the Territorials to volunteer for foreign service, and practically all battalions throughout the country answered the call, though for various reasons not all ranks could undertake overseas obligations: Units of which not less than sixty per cent. volunteered were designated “General Service”, and were ordered to recruit up to establishment and twenty-five per cent beyond it. As soon as units had obtained a sufficiently high percentage of volunteers for service overseas, a second unit of similar strength was formed : the latter were termed “ Second Line ” units; Later, “ Third Line ” units were formed. The original Territorial battalions then became known as the First Line units. Thus the original 4th and 5th Lincolnshire territorial Battalions became the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions.”

The 1/4th and 1/5th Lincolnshire were eventually posted to the 138th (Lincoln and Leicester) Brigade, 46th (North Midlands) Division, and went to France with that formation in February 1915.

Part of the Battalion arrived in Havre on the 1st March, the other half embarking embarked on the Duchess of Argyll on the 2nd March. By the 3rd March the 2nd half of Battalion had arrived and billeted at Shed No6 at Pondicherry.
The Battalion formed again and after entraining at Harve in the evening arrived at Arneke at 2.30pm on the 4th March and marched 4 miles into Zuytpeene, about 10 miles from the Belgian border. They stayed here until the 9th March when they moved to Strazeele and then on to Sailly-sur-la-Lys.

On the 12th and 13th the Battalion were ordered to Stand To both days for a 2 hour notice of movement due to operational orders but nothing prevailed and they stayed in Sailly until the 16th. Upon leaving Sailly they were moved to Le Kirlem where they were trained in the attack and defence of trenches until the 26th both as brigade and also divisional training.
Finally after 26 days abroad the Battalion were moved to billets at the Brewery in Ploegsteert on the 27th march.

They were now attached to the Somerset Light Infantry for instruction in trench duties and 280 men of all ranks were employed during the day working for the Royal Engineers and another 80 men of ll ranks at night. One company in turn was placed in the trenches for 24 hours. This routine went on until the last day of the month with similar number of men assigned to digging by day (220), other duties by night (80) and with anywhere between one platoon and one company spending a day in the trenches.

It was Back to Le Kirlam for their four days away from the trenches and then on to Bailleul where officers joined the 5th Leicesters in the trenches. It would be another three days, 9th April, before the full Battalion was once again required for front line duty. Now based in Dranoutre they Battalion experienced their first full tour in the trenches and after 3 quiet days were subject to enemy shelling on the 13th April. The enemy shelled Frenchmens and Pond Farms and the Battalion reported their first casualties, Lieut Staniland and 3 privates killed and 6 wounded at Pond Farm. Later that night they were relieved by the 5th Leicesters and went back to billets 3/4 mile north of Dranoutre.

Their next tour started on the 18th when after a delay of one day, when they were ordered to stand to because of operations against hill 60, it was back to the same trenches with companies taking over Cookers, Cobb and packhorse Farms. This tour ended on the night of the 22nd but this time instead of returning to billets they were stood to at Lindenhoek waiting until he next day as 14 officers and 400 men of the Royal Irish Rifles were in their Billets. This last tour was deemed by the Battalion Adjutant as fairly quiet with only the loss of Lt W.B. Hirst despite being shelled by H.E. on their last day in the trench. They moved onto their billets the next day (24th April) and immediately C Company were on fatigue laying cable between Regentst and Picadillly. After only one day in the Billets the Battalion was back in the trenches until the month end. The Battalion Diary once again notes it as a quiet time with one visit in their trenches by the Officer Commanding North Midlands Division (46th Div).

For May and Albert’s last days we refer to the Battalion Diaries to tell the story.

May 1st 1915
Battalion in Huts at Locre. Interior Economy.

May 2nd 1915
In huts at Locre. A+D Companies on digging fatigue all night

May 3rd 1915
In huts at Locre. Interior Economy

May 4th 1915
Battalion relieved 5th Leicesters in evening. Relief completed 11:30pm

May 5th 1915
In the trenches. Bn HQ Cob Farm. Quiet Day

May 6th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet Day. Weather Hot

May 7th 1915
In the trenches. All night whole of front was wired completed 2:45am

May 8th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day. Fire at R.E. Farm
Relieved by 5th Leicesters at midnight.

May 9th 1915
In huts at Locre. Lt Hall and Lt Fox reported from 2/4th Lincs Regt
Church Parade at 6pm

May 10th 1915
Left Locre at 7.45pm and relieved 5th Bn Sherwood Foresters at Lindenhoek at midnight. Bn HQ Lindenhoek Chalet.
Trenches occupied as follows F4 F6 – C Coy, F5-A Coy, G1,2+6 D Coy, S.P3-A Coy. In reserve-D Coy.

May 11th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day.

May 12th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day.

May 13th 1915
In the trenches. Enemy shelled our front line during afternoon + early evening. At 7pm they fired trench mortars (7) against G1+2 salient. They then directed machine gun fire at the breach made in the trench + shelled remainder of line. Under cover of this they sent across a party estimated at 20 men with bombs + explosive cylinders, 4 of which were afterwards found at the bottom of mine. The Battalion stood to all night + 5th Leicesters reinforced us with 1 Coy. 1 German (9th Bavarian Regiment) was left dead in G1. Nothing further took place.

The Battalion stayed in the trenches until the 16th when they were relieved by the 5th Leicesters.
On the 17th the Battalion diary notes that whilst they were in huts at Locre they observed a Zeppelin heading S.E at 5am and commented that it was most likely the one that dropped bombs on Ramsgate.

Lance Corporal Albert Codling was killed in action on the 13th May 1915 as part of the action described in the Battalion Diary. He was buried in Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery.

During the war years the family moved to Bourne and settled there. Whilst living at 3 Woodview Bourne the family received the sad new that Albert had been killed in May 1915 in the area around Ypres.

The Soldier’s Died in the Great War shows that Albert Codling died on the 16th October 1915 but that this date was amended in pen over the typing in the original ledger.

The Imperial War Graves report into Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery shows that a cross was originally placed on the grave Plot 1 Row C Grave 14 (ledger ref:1037/2A) and they noted the name as Private A Cooling on the typed ledger and this was engraved on the original headstone. The original typed date of death was 13th May 1915, although this was later crossed out with 16th October written in, once again to be changed back to 13th May 1915 later.
A note on this ledger changes Albert’s entry to Lance Corporal A Codling. A footnote to the page reads “Amendment received from Records and transmitted to DDW with request to have the headstone amended. See A/11/60. -2.3.58”

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Lance Corporal A Codling, 1608, 1st/4th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 13 May 1915. Son of Mr. J. Codling, of 3, Wood View, Bourne, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery.
Albert is also remembered on the Bourne War Memorial, the Lincoln War Memorial and also the Lincoln Railway war memorial.

Albert’s brother Ernest also enlisted on the 8th December 1914. Initially he served with the 4th and then 5th and 6th Lincolnshire Battalions. Ernest was posted abroad in 1916 and was killed in action serving with the 6th Battalion on 8th June 1917 on the Messines Ridge. He is buried at the Messines Ridge British Cemetery no more than 4 miles from his brother.

When the Lincoln war memorial questionnaire was sent out to ascertain the names of the fallen, this was filled in for both Albert and Ernest and returned by Gertrude Codling (their sister) of Turks Head Cottage, Cecil Street, Lincoln. The original returns are held at the Lincolnshire Archives.

Albert’s photograph © Jonathan Smith

Remembrance – Charles Richard Creek

Today we remember Bourne man Harold Leonard Joyce who was killed on this day (17th April) 1918, whilst serving as a Private with the 2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

Harold was born in the autumn of 1896 in the Bourne district and was the son of Frederick George Joyce, born in Boston in 1855 and his wife Selina Bemrose, born in Sloothby (near Alford) in 1879.

The couple were married on the 3rd July 1879 in Willoughby, near Alford, Lincolnshire, where they lived for a further year and where their first child was born.


Following this they moved to Boston, living there for about 7 years before moving to Bourne.

* Annie May Joyce, 1880, Alford
* William Henry Joyce, 1881, Boston
* Louisa Emily Joyce, 1884, Boston
* Frederick Arthur Joyce, 1887, Boston (Died 1887)
* Alfred George Joyce, 1888, Bourne
* John Bertie Joyce, 1889, Bourne
* Flora Belle Joyce
* Harold Leonard Joyce, 1896, Bourne
* Arthur Charles Storey Joyce, 1898, Bourne
* Selina Florence (Lilly Joyce) 1901, Bourne
* The 1911 census gives 10 children, 1 having died. A search through birth registers of Bourne does not give any clues.

A five year old Harold can be found living with his parents in Bedehouse Bank in Bourne on the 1901 census, but ten years later at the age of 15 he is living with the Myers family in Tongue End and working as a labourer.

As with 60% of the official military records from the war it os most likely that Harold’s records were destroyed in a warehouse fire in the blitz. We can piece together some of his movements from other official documents such as pension records and medial rolls but these do not give exact dates.

Harold enlisted in Bourne and possibly after basic training was originally posted to the 2/4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
He ended up serving with the 2/5th battalion although it is not known if hew was transferred immediately when laded in France as in some cases or as is sometimes that case this can be because he was wounded and after convalescence was then posted to a Battalion that was more in need of replacements.

The only thing we do know for certain is that Harold was with the 2/5th Battalion for his final days. We can take up the story from the Battalion Diary of the battle they were involved in to stem the flow of the enemy spring offensive during April 1918.

The 2/5th Battalion had spent March in the area south east of Arras, at Bullecourt, before being moved to Watou west of Poperinge, Belgium, an area used for Battalions moving up to the Ypres salient.
After 4 day of refit the Battalion preceded on the 4th April into the line on the Zonnebeke sector of the salient.
After 5 days in the line near Zonnebeke the Battalion was moved into reserve at St Jean for 2 further days before being entrained for Mont des Cats and then Marched to Locre on the 14th April.

14th April 1918 – Mont des Cats
2am -Mont Des Cats
Battalion marched to Locre (M.23C sheet 28) where it was temporarily accommodated in huts at 4:50 am.
11am – Locre
Battalion moved out along the Locre – Dranoutre road to about M.29 see where it cleared the road and awaited orders. The CEO and company commanders went forward to reconnoitre the reserve line south of Dranoutre.
Orders were received to relieve the 88th infantry Brigade in the line on Ravelsburg Ridge in S.16 and 17, 22 and 23 Company commanders went off at once to recognise the line and battalion moved off about 10:30 pm. The 88th infantry Brigade had only occupied their positions for 14 hours and as this Battalion was relieving three regiments relief was not completed until 5:30 am.

15th April 1918 – Bailleul
5.30am – Bailleul
Battalion took over as follows having all their companies holding line, 4 advance posts – 1 from each company. These posts were dug in on the forward slopes along the line S.2 1D.I want to S.23B.0.0 distributed at intervals of about 400 feet. They were age garrisoned by one platoon.
Each company held a part of the support line with three platoons this line was dug on the reverse flow of the Ravelsburg ridge along the line S.21.D.0.5 to S.23.A.7.5.
Battalion HQ in a trench at S.16.C.0.7
6.0 am – Bailleul
To hostile patrols about 20 strong advanced against our posts in S.22.D they were driven off leaving three prisoners in our hands and 17 dead and wounded in front of our post.
7.0 am
A hostile patrol advanced against the machine-gun post in S.20 to say they were counter-attacked and driven off leaving 12 prisoners in our hands. During the morning I deserters came over to our lines.
12.0 noon
For an account of the operation during the remainder of the day see special appendix attached.
Appendix – An account of the part taken by the 2/5th Bn Lincolnshire Rgt in operations East of Bailleul on 15th April 1918.

15th April 1918
12.0 Noon
At this hour the battalion was disposed as previously described in the war diary to which this account form is in appendix. This position has been taken up during the night 14th and 15th of April 1918.
A heavy bombardment of our position commenced at 12 noon and continued until 2:30 pm when it changed to a barrage falling along the line of that of the units on our right and left.
The enemy delivered an attack against the fourth Lincoln regiment on our left but their line remained remained intact.
Enemy attack developed against our right company in S.21.D this attack was repulsed by our lewis gun and rifle fire.
Left the company commander reported the enemy on the ridge on his immediate left and that the forthcoming concert fallen back from the ridge. They formed a defences flank facing east still keeping in touch with our left company (D company).
At 5:25 pm the line of the 4th Lincoln Regiment in S.16.B and 17.A withdrew to the railway cutting in S.17.A, 11c, 16b and 16a.
The enemy forced his way over the back of the hill at S.16 D breaking the line of the 4th Lincoln and getting behind the left flank of our Battalion including one for platoon of the 4th Lincolns which had continuously maintained touch with our left.
At the same time a frontal attack developed along our front. The left company was last seen in its original position fighting at very close quarters with the enemy. The Lewis gun of this company fired to the last, the enemy advancing in close formations at very short range the remaining three companies on the ridge came under very heavy machine gun fire from the left where the enemy had gained a footing on the ridge.
These companies have heavy casualties and swung round to form a flank facing east. They were gradually driven back on to a line taken up by the 176 infantry Brigade north-east of Bailleul.
Patrols were sent out from Battalion HQ to get in touch with the companies in Front but found only the enemy. To conform with the movements of the 4th Lincoln Regiment battalion headquarters withdrew to S.10.C.7.2 where two companies of the 9th Northumberland Fusiliers were found to be holding a line.
The Battalion HQ personnel were organised into five units and extended the line of the Fusiliers to the right from S.10.C.3.2 to S.10.C.7.2. The enemy attack was checked here.
During the night the enemy by means of patrols push forward on finding that out right flank was open. Several patrols were sent out to try and establish touch with our troops on the right but without success. In order to prevent the enemy penetrating this gap to platoons of the ninth Northumberland Fusiliers were brought up and the line extended some 500 feet to the north-west to S.9.D.90.75.
This was the position when orders were received from Brigade to withdraw to Locre.
The following casualties were sustained:
Officers –
Killed. Lieut Colnel H B Roffey D.S.O
Wounded, 2/Lieut Dickinson
Missing, 2/Lieut W G Fenton, 2/Lieut J C Myers.
Other ranks –
Killed, Wounded and Missing, 352
Report signed by Major Commanding 2/5 Lincoln Rgt.

16th April 1918 – Bailleul
2.0 am
Battalion HQ withdrew from positions at S.10.C and D and moved to Locre where they were joined by details from companies who withdrew to Bailleul. Battalion was accommodated in huts at M.17.C.2.2and rested all day.

17th April 1918 – Locre
Italian was amalgamated with fourth Lincoln regiment and the composite battalion then formed was known as major homes as battalion after commander of fourth Lincolns. The 77th Brigade with details attached was known as General Jameses force.
Battalion moved up to position of readiness for counter-attack or support to front line in area M.29.a and c. According to orders companies were dug in, in and about the wood in M.29.c but heavy enemy shelling forced the evacuation of the wood. Companies then dug in in narrow slots in M.29.a. 2/Lieut J. Fisher was killed and 2/Lieut V du Plergny seriously wounded subsequently dying at the casualty clearing station. 15 other ranks were killed and wounded Battalion remained in position all day.

Harold was wounded with a gun shot wound in the left thigh, in part of the actions some time over the report in the diary, most likely on the 15th April. He then would have been moved via a casualty clearing station to hospitals away from the front. It is in an hospital close to Calais where unfortunately he died of wounds on the 17th April 1918.

* Grantham Journal Staurday 27th April 1918
* NEWS OF BOURNE BOYS – Mr and Mrs Joyce of Bedehouse Bank, have received information that their son, Pte. H. L Joyce, Lincoln Regt., died in hospital in France, from gunshot wounds in the left thigh. Mr and Mrs J. Copper of Manning road, have had all the letters of thieir son Leslie, returned marked “no address known.” They have not yet had official notice that he is missing, although one of the letters was marked to that effect. Private Martin E. Barnes, a native of Bourne, attached to the Notts. and Derby Regiment, has been missing since March 21st. The notification came to Pte Barnes’ sister, Mrs F Hinson of Willoughby Road. Pte Wm Jackson son of Mr and Mrs Wm Jackson of Eastgate, has been taken prisoner. He is unwounded. This is the second son of Mr and Mrs Jackson who is now a prisoner of war, whilst a third and younger son was killed in action some months ago. Mrs Smallman of Elm-terrace has received official notification that her husband, Pte. E. Smallson is missing. Prior to his joining the Forces, Pte. Smallson was in the employ of Messrs. W.H. Smith and Son at their Bourne bookstall.

A field account of June 1918 tells us that Harold died of wounds on the 17th April 1918 in France whilst serving with the 2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. His effects being left to his father who received an authorised amount of £10/17/5 owed to his son.

The grave report from. August 1918 lists Harold’s grave as Plot 11, Row A Grave 5, buried with Pte Woodward of the King’s Liverpool Regiment who died on the 18th April. The family had an extra inscription added to the standard grave marker “Gone from us but not forgotten. Never shall your memory fade”. This was requested by Mrs Selina Joyce, Bede House Bank, Bourne.

Wimereaux cemetery is near the coast outside of calais and is in light soil hence the grave are set laid down, two per plot.

Wimereaux is quite a well visited cemetery as it also contains the Grave of Lieut-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian Physcian and the author of the poem, In Flanders Fields.

CWGC – In memory of Private Harold Leonard Joyce, 203706, 2nd/5th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 17 April 1918 Age 21. Son of Fred and Selina Joyce, of Bourne, Lincolnshire. Remembered with honour, Wimereux Communal Cemetery

Charles Creek

Remembrance – Richard Christian

Remembrance – Richard Christian

On 22nd November we remember Kirkby Underwood soldier, Richard Christian who died 100 years ago this day. Richard born in 1884 was one of 10 children born to Robert Christian, a bricklayer, and his wife Elizabeth Marshall, both born in Kirkby Underwood. By the age of 16 Richard was a horseman on a farm and living with the Ruskin family in Swinstead. One year later Richard attested to the militia of the 4th Lincolnshire Regiment on the 22nd May 1902 and was living in Billingborough.
Richard drilled with the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire regiment until April 1908 when he was discharged when the Territorial and Reserve Forces act disbanded the volunteer and militia units and placed the men on regular army reserve. In 1911 Richard was living with his mother and younger siblings in Kirkby Underwood, his father having passed away. Richard married Kate (Catherine) Maples in the Autumn of 1913 and by 1918 they had 4 children. Richard joined the Durham Light Infantry during the war and was later transferred to the 409th Company of the labour Corps. The 409th company was known as the Kesteven and Lindsay company which was based at Lincoln. The labour Corps traditionally took men who were wounded and then classed as less than A1 fitness and this would indicate that Richard was either wounded or, at the age of 34 not fit for front line service. Richard died in England on the 22nd November 1918, 11 days after the end of the war. Rather than an act of war Richard was the victim of a family tragedy. On the 19th November Richard and Kate became parents for the 4th time when baby Kate was born. Only 3 days later both Richard and his wife Kate died within hours of each other of acute influenza (Spanish Flu being rife at the time) and baby Kate eventually died on the 29th November. All three are buried in Billingborough churchyard in a grave marked and tended by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. Richard Christian is commemorated on the Kirkby Underwood memorial.