Remembrance – Edward James Backlog

Today remember Bourne and 1st Battalion Lincs Regiment man, Private Edward James Backlog 11495, who was killed in action on this day, the 16th June 1915 at the Battle of Bellewarde.

Edward was born in Thetford Norfolk in the late summer of 1878, one of twin sons born John. Edward and Sarah Ann Backlog.

John was a general labourer born in Thetford in 1848, where he met and married Sarah Ann Wing born who was born there in 1847. The couple were married in 1876 and set up home in Thetford along with Sarah’s daughter Mary.
As well as the twin boys the couple also went on to have a third son, all born whilst they were in Thetford.

• Mary Hudson Wing, 1868, Thetford (Half sister)
• John Ernest Backlog, 1878, Thetford (Twin)
• Edward Thomas Backlog, 1878, Thetford (Twin)
• William Thomas backlog, 1883, Thetford

In 1881 the three year old Edward was living with his parents and twin brother John Ernest, known as Ernest in Bury Road in Thetford. Also living in the household Edward’s half sister Mary Wing. Father John was working as a labourer at this time. Ten years later and the family are identified on the census at 30 Bury Road, most likely the same house, John working as a general labourer and the three boys now aged 12 and 7 attending school.

John Backlog died In 1895 leaving Sarah to bring up the family.

By 1901 the family had grown up, 22 year old Ernest was married and working as a Mason’s labourer, living in his own house at 32 Bury road next door to his Mother. Sarah, now widowed, was still living at no 30 with daughter Mary who worked in a pulp factory and youngest son William, now working as a labourer. At this time Edward can be found in Leyton, Essex as a visitor in the household of James Nunn. Even though he was listed as a visitor it was possible that he was here because of work as James Nunn was a local Stratford man who’s wife Harriet was from Thetford. Edward at this time was working as a boiler maker and James Nunn a boiler maker’s helper.

Edward attested to the Royal Engineers on 3rd May 1902 in Stratford for 12years, this consisted of 3 years of Army Service and a further 9 years on reserve. The record notes that at the age of 23 years and 11 months he was 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall with fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. It also notes that he had a pierced heart tattooed on his right forearm and a flour in a pot with a leaf on his left forearm. Sapper Backlog was given the Regimental number of 11065.

It would look like Edward and the army were not good friends as he had only managed 93 days of service before he went absent without leave on the 4th August 1902 for 7 days. This was followed by three days in confinement awaiting disposal where he was then awarded hard labour. A little over two weeks later and again he went absent without leave from the 30th August until the 4th September. He was kept in the guard room from the 5th until the 18th of September awaiting court marshal on the 19th where he was sentenced to another l4 days hard labour taking him up to the 3rd October when he returned to duties.

The London Daily News on the 6th September reported:-
A Discontented Sapper
Edward James Backlog aged 24 a Sapper in the Royal Engineers stationed at Chatham was charged at the same court for the second time within a fortnight with being an absentee. The prisoner looked very dirty and untidy and by no means a credit to his corps. P.C. Norris said he arrested the prisoner who told him he didn’t like soldiering and was determined to get out of the army. Lance Corporal Dewhurst identified the prisoner as belonging to his company. The magistrate said: “what punishment did he get last time?” This witness said: “seven days imprisonment with hard labour”. The magistrate said: “He stated to the constable who arrested him that he was determined to get out of the army, you had better report that to your commanding officer” Witness said:
“Yes Sir”. The prisoner was then handed over to the escort who’s smart appearance contrasted strongly with his own bedraggled and unkempt condition.

Obviously he just didn’t want to be in the Army as only one month later he disappeared again from the 9th to the 14th of November. The same pattern was followed with 12 days in the Guard Room awaiting disposal and a court marshal on the 28th returned a punishment of 42 days taking him up to the 8th January.
At the end of the punishment period Edward was discharged at Chatham with all service forfeited for pension on account of him being “incorrigible and worthless”.

Sarah Ann was still living at 30 Bury Street in 1911, now sharing the house with her widowed sister Mary Ann Linge who was working as a mill hand in a pulp ware factory. Edward was now living back home with his mother, now 32 and working as a Boiler Maker, labouring in a traction engine works. The only other person in the house was a boarder, George Cousens a fitter’s labourer.

When war broke out Edward Backlog enlisted in Bourne, Lincolnshire into the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in September 1914 being given the Regimental number 11945.
The regulars of the Battalion had already left their pre war base at Portsmouth on the 14th August for France and the Battle of Mons, fighting a rear-guard at Solesmes during the retreat from Mons and then Battles at Le Cateau, The Battle of the Aisne, at La Bassee, Messines and the First Battle of Ypres.

The 1st Battalion were in Hooge a village near Ypres in Belgium when Edward arrived in France on the 11th November 1914, following his initial training. The Battalion came out of the front line on the 20th arriving in the rear area near Westoutre on the 21st November. The Battalion Diary reports that in the evening they received reinforcements, which no doubt included Edward and the next 2 days were spent on refitting.

Edward’s first taste of the trenches came shortly afterwards when the Battalion relieved the Oxfordshire Light Infantry on the night of the 27th November in the front line near Kemmel. The next day was quiet in the trenches apart from occasional enemy sniping and the casualties for Edward’s first day at the front was 1 killed and 1 wounded other ranks.

At the end of the month that tour of the trenches was completed and whilst in billets on the 3rd December the entire Brigade were lined up alongside the main road through Westoutre for an inspection. His Majesty The King passed through on his tour of inspection and the men gave three hearty cheers as he passed them in an automobile accompanied by the commander in chief.
A letter was received afterwards in which his Majesty expressed great pleasure at the appearance of the troops.

A party of 50 NCOs and men under the command of Captain E Tatchell proceeded to Locre to perform the duties of a guard of honour where His Majesty presented medals for Distinguished Conduct to the NCOs and men of the brigade and Private Stroulger being the only representative owing to all the other NCOs and men who had been awarded the medal being killed or wounded. The Battalion paraded at 3.30pm to proceed to Locre where they were billeted in support of the units in the firing line.

It was not until the 6th of December when the daily stand to orders were changed and they marched to Kemmel to relieve the 1st Royal Scots Regiment in the trenches. The diary reports that –
“Owing to the recent heavy rains the trenches were in a very bad state and in some places were waist deep in mud and water. B,C + D companies formed the firing line and A company in support in a barn close to Battalion HQ. We obtained several bundles of fascines planks of wood and placed them in the trenches for the troops to stand on. The men were also provided with straw wisps to wrap around their legs + boots to keep themselves dry. These efforts proved of little consequence owing to the amount of water in the trenches. B Company who held the right of the position occupied by the Battalion were in such a bad state that after being in the trenches for 24 hours, the commanding officer found it absolutely necessary to relieve them with the company in support.
Officers A.S.S Wade and 2/Lieut A B L Parish joined the Battalion. Casualties. 1 Killed and 1 wounded.”

The battalion then being involved in what was to be Edward’s first involvement in a planned attack of the enemy trenches on their third day. The attack was deemed a success even though after reaching the enemy trench which by then resembled a small canal, the already fatigued men became subject to such rifle and machine gun fire that they were ordered to fall back to their own trenches, which they did in good order. The casualties for the attack were 4 killed, 19 wounded and 18 missing of the ranks and 3 officers wounded.
A and B companies were relieved and returned to the barn in support and it would be another day before the entire Battalion was relieved from their trenches and returned to Locre to billets before the division was relived.

The tours of the trenches continued with their next tour ending on the 24th December placing them back in Locre for Christmas Day.

The Battalion diary reported the following:

25th December 1914
Christmas Day and very seasonable, all ranks adapted themselves to the circumstances and celebrated Xmas in as an enjoyable way as the conditions permitted. Christmas Greetings were received from Field Marshall Sir John French, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, Commander in chief of the British Army in the field.
“In offering to the Army in France, my earnest and most heartfelt wishes for Xmas and the new year I am anxious once more to express the admiration I feel in the valour and endurance they have displayed throughout the campaign and to assure them that to have commanded such magnificent troops in the field will be the proudest remembrance of my Life”
All ranks of the Battalion received an Xmas card from the king and Queen and a present for all ranks from Princess Mary, consisting of a package containing Xmas Card and box containing tobacco and cigarettes which was greatly valued by all ranks of the Battalion. Greetings were also received from the Mayor and Citizens of Lincoln and many others interested in the welfare of the Regiment.

The Battalion went back into the trenches on New years eve. Eventually being transferred to the 28th Division and moving to Ypres in mid February to assist with operations on the Ypres canal. They stayed in the Ypres Salient and in April were involved in the attack on Hill 60 near Zillebeeke.

On the 23rd Edward’s Brother, Private Ernest John Backlog 17233 of the 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment died by Cerebro Spinal Fever contracted on active service, leaving a widow and five children. He was buried in Thetford Cemetery.

We jump forward to June 1915 and now the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment are based around Ypres, once again the battalion Diary tells the story of Edward Backlogs final days.

15th June 1915
The battalion. Remained in bivouacs during the day.
The Battalion paraded at 4.15pm ready to march to the assembly trenches, Cambridge Road South End I.11d. The order of the march was D. C. HQ. A + B Companies. The machine gun detachment accompanied the left column of the Brigade:- (5th Fus, R Scots Fus + Liverpool Scottish). The Battalion and 4th Royal Fusiliers formed the right column. The right column marched off from road junction H13 central at 5.0pm, and proceeded by the road through H13. H14. H15. H23 to Krruisstraat crossed the canal at bridge 13 + thence through Ypres to the Lille Gate at 8.30pm continuing via railway hack to I.10.d.0.2 thence by Menin Road.
Casualties 4 other ranks wounded.
Fine summer weather.

16th June 1915.
The Battalion occupied the assembly trenches I.11.d at 1.15am. The 9th Brigade were to attack the Bellewarde Spur at early morning. The objective was to seize and hold the line I12.d.3.2 – Y18 – Y7. The 1st phase of the attack was begun by our artillery severely bombarding the hostile trenches and wire entanglements with high explosive shells. Short spaces were made in the bombardment at 3-10am, 3-40am and 4am.

Our front line was occupied by Royal Fusiliers, Roy Scots Fusiliers and 5th Fusiliers. The Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish in support. The Liverpool Scottish were on our left, the 1st Wilts (7th Brigade) on our right. When in the assembly trenches the Battalion was shelled by enemy and a few casualties accrued.

At 4-15am exactly our first line rushed forward and immediately seized the first line of hostile trenches from the East edge of wood Y16-Y15-NE corner of Railway Wood and took prisoners all of the enemy in the trenches that had not been killed.

The Roy Scots Fusiliers in conjunction with 5th Fusiliers seized the trenches between Y13 + Y15. at the same time.

The Battalion rushed forward in support of the Royal Fusiliers reinforcing their line. The line continued its advance, bombing parties forcing their way along the trench Y16-Y20 driving the enemy at a run into his second line trenches.

The attack was being covered on the right by rifle and machine gun fire from the Menin Road and from the South of it, and covered on the left by rifle and machine gun fire of the 6th Division from the railway.

The Battalion and Royal Fusiliers seized the trench Y20-Y21. The artillery bombardment on the first line of trenches had been most effective in rendering them untenable and in destroying the barbed wire entanglements. Many dead Germans were found in the trenches. The prisoners taken were forced to the rear.

The attack now assumed its second phase which was the seizing of the trench running from Bellewarde farm to house on the road 100yds South of Y17. Our artillery had already dealt with the trench which we seized at 4.30am with very few casualties to our side, the enemy being finally driven out with the bayonet.

The third phase of the attack followed immediately. A party of 50 NCOs and men led by Major Boxer succeeded in occupying the line Y17-Y18. It was however found impracticable to retain, owing to our own artillery not having ceased to shell this position. The artillery observers were prevented from seeing the flag carried seeing the flag carried by the infantry, denoting the progress of the advance, by mist and smoke from shells. Also communication was difficult owing to the signal wires being cut by the enemy fire.

The advance of the infantry had been extremely rapid and was carried out with great dash and fervour and they had accomplished their object too quickly for our artillery, which caused many casualties to our side.

The commanding officer – Major H E BOXER was himself wounded when he ordered the men to fall back on the line Y17-Y20.
Units in their eagerness had rushed forward, mixed together and were much disorganised in captured trenches.

The attack had been brilliantly carried out and many acts of gallantry were performed by all ranks of the Battalion, both during the attack itself and during the subsequent enemy bombardment.

At 6.0am the Battalion now under the command of Major D F Grant received orders to fall back on to the first line of captured trenches Y16-Y17 and Y16-Y15 to reorganise and hold the line at all costs, which was held accordingly.

The Germans heavily bombarded the captured trenches throughout the day, the bombardment becoming most violent at 4pm when it became evident that a counter attack was being launched. The counter attack was met by our own artillery and by heavy rifle and machine gun fire, the enemy being repulsed with great loss to him.

At 6pm the enemy bombarded the trenches and ground behind with Gas-shells and the men had to resort to the use of respirators.

At 9.30pm the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Gordons (8th Brigade) and marched back to bivouac I.8.b.4.5 arriving about 5am next day.

17th June 1915
The battalion having returned to bivouac rested during the day.
A roll call was taken at 12 noon.
The following casualties had been incurred during the previous day’s fighting.

Major H E R Boxer – Wounded and missing
Captain J R G Magrath – Wounded
Captain R H Spooner – Wounded
Lieut A D Walker – Missing
2Lieut F C Green – Killed
2Lieut J H P Barrett – Wounded
2Lieut R O Pearson – Missing

Other Ranks:
Killed 22
Died of Wounds 3
Missing 76
Wounded 265

Whether from one of the three bayonet charges, our own artillery barrage or the later German bombardment of their old trenches, Private Edward James Backlog was originally posted as missing presumed dead and then later officially regarded as died on the 16th June 1915 as part of the action described by the battalion Diary.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Edward James Backlog, 11945, 1st Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 16 June 1915 Age 37. Son of John and Sarah Ann Backlog, of 30, Bury Rd., Thetford, Norfolk. Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Edward is also remembered on the war memorials in Bourne Lincolnshire and also Thetford Norfolk.…/edward-…/

Remembrance – Arthur Edwin Clarke

Today we remember local man Arthur Clarke of Bourne, who died of wounds on the 9th May 1915, serving with the 2nd Bn East Surrey Regiment.

Arthur was born in 1893 in Drakelow near Burton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, to Joseph Clark, a shepherd born 1861 in Mickleover and his wife Hannah Hall, born 1868 in Coton Park.

The couple were married in 1887 in Stapenhall and had 4 children all born in Derbyshire,
Joseph Edward Clarke, 1889, Stapenhill
William Clarke, 1892, Stapenhill
Arthur Edwin Clarke, 1893, Drakelow
Sarah Clarke, 1896, Drakelow

Hannah passed away in 1898 leaving Joseph looking after the 4 children.

In 1901 Arthur is living with his father at 7 Robinsons Road, Newhall, Derbyshire. Joseph was working as a pipe yard worker (earth).

Arthur left home and can be found 10 years later working as a Horseman on a farm in Yaxley near Peterborough and living with Leonard Slate and his wife Martha.
At this time his father Joseph had gone back to working as a shepherd and looks to have remarried, to his former Housekeeper Harriet. They were living with his Daughter Sarah in Warmington near Oundle. Although it is possible that they did not get married until 1930 in Bourne as this is the only marriage certificate on record for the couple.

Both Arthur Edwin Clarke and his brother Joseph Edward Clarke joined the Army. Joseph served in the Leicestershire Regiment as a lance corporal and was killed in action on 24th November 1914.

After the end of the war father Joseph can be found living in Bourne. The CWGC records state Son of “Joseph and Hannah Clarke of 23 Eastgate” but we believe this is a mistake and he is living at this address with Harriet.

Arthur’s full army service cannot be found and it is most likely it, along with 60% of all WW1 service records, was part of the records destroyed in the warehouse fire in London caused by the Blitz.

In this case it is difficult to track Arthur’s exact movements in the Army but using other records it is possible to put together some basic information and then follow his final movements through the Battalion Diary.

The regimental number given to Arthur on enlistment is 3100, this does not help work out when he enlisted because this number, when referenced to the 2nd East Surrey Regiment would indicate an enlistment date of 1890 which was before Arthur was born, indication that maybe he enlisted with a different regiment.

The soldier’s effects form shows that Arthur’s father Joseph received £3/-/- war gratuity which is a standard minimum sum. The payment of the minimum sum means that it is not possible to calculate an enlistment date from this record.

All we can really say is that he enlisted into possibly the East Surrey Regiment and definitely in Peterborough.
This is not so strange as prior to the 1881 reformation of the British army regiments, the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment had been the 31st (The Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot, so it may be likely that they still had a recruiting presence in the area or the recruiting officer favoured his old regiment.
We believe that this enlistment was on the outbreak of war in August as hospital documents from March 1915 would indicate that he had been serving for 6 months.

The 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment had previously arrived in Harve, France on the 19th January 1915. Up to the time of reorganising for the war the Battalion had been stationed in Chaubattia India, only arriving in Devonport on the 23rd December. The Battalion saw its first action around Ypres where they sustained their first casualty of the war on the 4th February.

Arthur was posted to join them, arriving in France on the 23rd February 1915 according to the medal roles. The reason for his delay was not known although it is still possible that this was because he was still training and was then assigned to the Battalion.
He would have arrived in the Ypres area to join the Battalion, who had been moved just south to Kemmel. They were in trenches until he 26th February when they were relived and moved to billets in Locre.

The Battalion Diary reports that on the 1st March 1915 they received a draft of three officers and three hundred and thirty men and Three days later 46 sick and wounded men from base also returned to the Battalion. Then on the 4th March two companies of the Battalion took up a line in trenches between Lindenhoek and Scotch Farm which would have been Arthur’s first taste of front line duty. The next day the two remaining companies took over the line relieving the first two. In these two days the Battalion suffered two killed and one wounded. This exchange of companies went on and during this time the Battalion Headquarters moved from Lindenhoek to Scotch Farm and then a second move of 200 yards West to Pond farm.

On the 12th March the Battalion was ordered to attack Spanbroek Molen in the early hours but heavy mist postponed this to 4.10pm and then E1 trench was heavily bombarded by our own artillery. It was fair to say that the attack was unsuccessful.
This tour of the trenches was meant to have ended on the 14th March however an enemy attack at St Eloi occurred and all planned reliefs were cancelled. Arthur and the Battalion eventually were relieved on the 16th and made it back to Billets at Locre at 11.30pm after 13 days in the trenches.

The next day the diary reports the losses for that tour:-
Officers: 7 killed, 3 wounded.
Other ranks: 42 killed, 84 wounded, 7 missing.
Draft of 117 men arrived.

Arthur had only been with the Battalion in the field for three weeks when he fell ill on the 20th March in Locre. He was admitted from a sick convoy into the 4th Stationary Hospital at St Omer on the 21st March. After initial treatment for diarrhoea, he was transferred to Ambulance train no 9, according to the hospital register. This ambulance train arrived in St Omer at 3.45pm on the 25th March and was loaded with evacuation cases. The train then proceeded to Boulogne, where it unloaded some of the cases before heading off to Le Treport with the remaining cases.
Any other hospital documents have yet to be found and so we are not sure if Arthur was an evacuation case or if the ended up in hospital at Boulogne or more likely at Le Treport.

Eventually Arthur must have re-joined his Battalion, although as the date is not known we will then look at Arthur’s movements through the Battalion diaries for the week leading up to his death.

3rd May 1915 –
85th Brigade withdrawn from Trenches on new line through Frazenberg being taken up. Brigade operation order no 30 attached. Battalion Headquarters and A company left Verlorenhoek at 8pm and reached bivouac S.E. of Brielen at 10.30pm. B and C companies arrived about 2am and D company about 4am. Casualties 4 wounded. Draft 77 men arrived

4th May 1915 –
At 10am Battalion left for billets one mile East of Poperinghe.

5th May 1915 – Poperinghe
Battalion in billets. Inspected by Divisional Commander Maj Gen E.S. Bulfin C.V.O. C.B.

6th May 1915 – Poperinghe
Battalion in billets. Inspected by Corps Commander Lieut Gen Sir H Plummer K.C.B

7th May 1915 – Poperinghe
Battalion in billets. 2nd Lieut F Watson reported his arrival. Battalion standing to owing to enemy’s activity on 28th Divisional Front.

8th May 1915 – Poperinghe – Potijze – Verlorenhoek
Battalion left at 11am and prceeded to Headquarters 83rd Brigade East of Ypres and received orders to move astride the Ypres-Zonnebeke road and retake the 83rd Brigade trenches at Frazenberg moving on left of York and Lancaster Regiment with one company South and three companies North of the road. The Battalion moved forward through the G H Q line East of Potijze and deployed after passing through gap in entanglement in front line.
At 4pm Battalion advanced. On reaching road running South East from Weltje machine gun fire from farm on left front caused many casualties. The enemy shelling was also severe.
A Company south of the road advanced and reinforced East Yorkshires in trench West of Verlorenhoek but could not advance further. The companies on the north of the road advanced and were held up by the enemy entrenched on line running N and S through Verlorenhoek.
At 7.15pm information was received that Warwicks and Dublins were deploying for attack and should advance about 7.30pm.
About 8.30pm Warwicks advanced but did not go beyond line held by Battalion.

9th May 1915 – Verlorenhoek
A further advance by whole line was arranged for 12.45am. All arrangements were made for this and 5/Kings Own advanced to Verlorenhoek but retired on heavy rifle and machine gun fire being opened. As no movement appeared to be taking place on our left no advance was made and it was eventually reported that the advance had been cancelled and that Battalion would hold the line they were then holding. On proceeding to Brigade Office this was confirmed.
The Battalion remained on the same line throughout ninth May although heavily bombarded during the afternoon.
Casualties during the 8th to noon 9th,
Killed: 2nd Lieut Hon R.H.P. Howard, 2nd Lieut Watson and 12 other ranks.
Wounded: Capt R.E. North, Capt M.J.A Jourdier Lieut C.S. Lonegran and 2nd Lieut F.C Walliker and 89 other ranks.
Missing 71
During the night A Company moved to North of road.

10th May 1915 – Verlorenhoek
Quiet Day.
Casualties to noon 10th
Killed: Capt H de B Riordan and 17 other ranks
Wounded: 2nd Lieut H Lonegran and 40 other ranks
Missing 44 other ranks.
During the night Battalion took up line S of road on left of 85th Brigade which reached from railway to Ypres-Zonnebeke road. Our line taken by 83rd Brigade.

It was during the 9th May that Private Arthur Clarke was reported as having died of wounds. The exact point time and date of his wound will probably never be known but is most likely to have been on the afternoon of the 8th when the Battalion were trying to make an advance.

The Casualty list of the 24th July 1915 lists Arthur as being wounded or missing as reported from Base on the 9th July. We are aware that sometimes these reports took some time to compile and that it is typical to appear on reports 6 weeks after the death.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Arthur Edwin Clarke, 3100, 2nd Bn., East Surrey Regiment who died on 9 May 1915 Age 21. Son of Joseph and Hannah Clarke, of 23, Eastgate, Bourne, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Arthur Clarke is also remembered on the Bourne, Roll of Honour in Bourne Abbey Church and the Bourne War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens.…/arthur-…/

Remembrance – George Hallam

Today we remember Baston man, George Hallam who was reported missing presumed dead on the 8th may 1915, serving with the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers near St Julien, Belgium.

George Hallam was born in Late Spring of 1882 in Bolden, County Durham to George Allam, a coal miner born in Baston Lincolnshire in 1854 and his wife Mary Dixon, born in Hetton Downs County Durham in 1860.
The couple were married in 1878 in Houghton Le Spring, County Durham and at first lived in Hetton Le Hole, where their first child was born. In all they had 5 children:-

• Elizabeth Hallam, 1879, Hetton le Hole
• Jane Ann Allam, 1880, Hetton le Hole
• George Allam, 1882, Boldon
• John Thomas Allam, 1884, Houghton le Spring
• William Allam, 1886, Hetton Downs

George was living with his parents at 94 Caroline Street in Hetton le Hole in 1891 although 10 years later he was living as a lodger with the Rouse family in Main Street, Greatford. Both George Hallam and George Rouse, head of the household, are working as Horsekeepers on a farm.

Between 1902 and 1908 we believe that George was in Military Service.

In 1908 George Hallam was married to Ethel Frisby Boor in Baston. Ethel was the daughter of Samuel Frisby Boor and Charlotte Rouse and was born on 21st October 1885. The couple settled in Baston and went on to have six children:-
George Bernard Hallam 8th August 1908, Baston
Jane Clarice Hallam, 14th October 1909, Baston
Dora Hallam, April – June 1911 (Died 1911)
Elizabeth Hallam, 29th April 1912
Ethel Louisa Hallam, 18th January 1914
William Lorraine Hallam, 24th March 1915

In 1911 George Hallam is living with his wife Ethel and their two children in a three room house in Atter’s Yard in Baston. George is working as a Farm Labourer.

Allam / Hallam –
Our first mystery is the spelling of he name Allam/Hallam. The birth registrations for George Allam Snr in Baston and all children, apart from Elizabeth were Allam. George Allam Jnr enlisted in the Army for WW1 with the surname Hallam, the same spelling as on his marriage registration and all documents once he had moved to Lincolnshire.

Army Service Pre War –
Our second mystery is with regards to George’s military service. As with 60% of the WW1 full service records, we assume that George’s were destroyed in the warehouse fire in the London Blitz in WW2. This means we have to piece together George’s Military history from other surviving documents.
The mystery starts with the Medal Rolls, we can see that George first served abroad with the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers on the 13th August 1914, only days after the start of the war. As this was a first line, Regular Army, battalion it would be comprised of serving soldiers or those on the Army reserve list who has previously served.

The WW1 roll of soldiers that died in the Great War tells us that George Hallam enlisted in Newcastle upon Tyne and was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers at the time of his death.

George Hallam is thought to have enlisted into the Northumberland Fusiliers, in Newcastle around January 1902. His regimental number of 8348 points to this period.
During this Boer War period the minimum period of service was 4 years with an addition 2 years if you enlisted before your 18th birthday. We suspect that George served the Minimum period of service as by 1908 he was back in Baston getting married and certainly working as farm labourer in 1911.

On the outbreak of war George joined the 1st battalion Northumberland Fusiliers who at the time were stationed at Portsmouth as part of the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Division. The were mobilised for war on the 14th August and landed at Havre in France on 14th August.

1st Battalion Diary-
13th August 1914
The Battalion left Cambridge Barracks Portsmouth by two special trains for Southampton and embarked on S.S. Norman with transport wagons the horses being embarked on S.S. Italian Prince. Embarkation completed at 3.0pm and the first ship sailed for an unknown destination at 4.0pm. The 1st battalion Lincolnshire Regt and the Head quarters 9th Infantry Brigade were also on board. When we had been at sea about 1 hour it was given out that wee were destined for Havre which port we sighted before midnight.

14th August 1914
S.S. Norman was tied up at 3.0am and the Battalion disembarked at 5.0am leaving a platoon to unload the wagons marched to a tent camp about 5 1/2 miles N.N.E of Havre. This was a VERY HOT March and 82 men of the Battalion fell out owing to the intense heat. The tent camps were hardly ready for us.

Leaving camp on the 16th August, over the next week, the Battalion would have gone via Rouen, Busigny, Landrecis, Noyelles and Longueville before their final march to the Mons-Conde canal. They started to fortify the houses and barricading the streets south of the canal.
They saw their first action on the 23rd August as part of the Battle of Mons, retiring back to Frameries that afternoon. This was the first action in the retreat from Mons where the Battalion and the 1st Lincs fought a rear-guard in Frameries. This action on the 24th took the life of the first man from the Bourne area to be killed in the war, Serjeant Arthur Bates of the 1st Lincs. The pattern followed with retirement after retirement taking them to the Battle of Le Cateau, followed by the defence of the Marne and Aisne rivers before stopping the enemy short of Paris.

Next the British Army were part of the race for the sea an ever northwards battle which ended up trying to stop the enemy reaching the channel ports. During this time the Battalion were involved in the Battles of La Bassee (Near Lens France) and Messines, the First Battle of Ypres, Battle of Bellewarde, all in Belgium.

We have deliberately not covered the 1914 operations in any detail as at some point George changed battalion from the 1st to 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, we have no records to find out when and why this was. It was usual for a badly wounded or sick man, after his convalescence, to then be returned to his Battalion or posted to a Battalion that was low on fighting strength of men.
Checking the Battalion Diary Appendices (Killed, Wounded & Missing) for the 1st Battalion, we cannot see George Hallam listed however the following 2 appendices are missing:-
November 1st Mont Kemmel – Appendix IX
Nov 7-19th Hooge – Appendix XI
It may be possible that if George was wounded and sent to hospital then one of these two gaps would be the most likely time for that to happen.

As we don’t know exactly when George changed Battalions then we can only really look at his last days to tell a piece of his story with any certainty.

The 2nd Battalion had been out in India at the commencement of the war and sailed home from Karachi, arriving in Plymouth on the 22nd December 1914, moving to Winchester to join the 84th Brigade of the 28th Division. They were mobilised for war and landed at Harve on the 18th January 1915 on the S.S. Australind.

George’s story can be told from the Battalion Diary for May 1915:

4th May 1915
The Battalion reached the hutments just north of the Ypres to Vlamertinge Road early in the morning went into reserve.
Casualties during the tour of duty from April 21 to May 4:
Officers, 6 Wounded
Other Ranks, 35 Killed, 149 Wounded, 17 missing
Battalion ordered out at p.m. to support second Cheshire Regiment at Potijie. Remained in GHQ line in support

5th May 1915
Battalion still in support at Potijie.

6th May 1915
Battalion relieved the first Battalion Welsh regiment in the trenches about midnight. These trenches were situated to the north of the village Wieltje, Belgium, about 3/4 of a mile, with the left of the battalion astride the St Julien Road and the right resting on the Fortuin Road.

7th May
The enemy made an attack on the trenches nearby the battalion which was repulsed. Our guns then took up the fire and shelled the enemy.
2/Lieut H.S. Luke Killed, Sergts Taylor and Spaxman Killed
Germans continue shelling the position all day.

8th May
At about 3.30 the enemy’s guns opened fire with high explosive and shrapnel which increased in volume about 7 am and continued all day, till the enemies infantry delivered their attack upon the right of the line held by the 84th infantry Brigade at about 3:30 pm.
The line of trenches extended from the road St Julian to the Zonnebeke Road north of the Verlorenhoek which were held by the following units commencing on the right:-
2nd Cheshire Regiment
1st Bn Suffolk Regiment
1st Monmouthshire Regiment
2nd Bn Northumberland Fusiliers
The line at the Cheshires was broken and the enemy got through to the rear and enveloped the Suffolk Regiment. The Monmouth’s fell back and made a counter attack which failed, and from information obtained the enemy outflanked the Northumberland D. C. and B company. Number 1, 2 and 3 platoons, (A company) under second lieutenant W Watson Sergeant Lane and Hague head onto the trenches and foot gallantly. Their devotion to duty save the situation. These platoons were relieved at 4 am on the 9th by a detachment of the East Lancs Regiment.
The following casualties occurred,
Lieutenant-Colonel S H Enderby, P of W
Captain Rauld, P of W
Lieut A B Cramsie M.G. Officer, Killed
Lieut J K Manger Scout Officer , Wounded and Missing

F Company
Captain A C Hart, Killed
2/Lieut R Lord, Wounded
2/Lieut W Watson, Wounded

B Company
Capt G K Molineaux, Missing
2/Lieut W Taylor, Wounded, P of W

C Company
Lieut B E S Mahon, P of W
Lieut B C Hardy, P of W

D Company
Lieut G P Legard, Killed
2/Lieut K Shann, Killed
2/Lieut R V Taylor, Slightly Wounded

2/Lieut E B A Cardew, 4th Devon Regiment, P of W

NCO and Men, Killed Wounded and Missing 422*
Killed 12, Wounded 126, Missing 284

9th May
The diary reports that several officers re-joined the Transport Headquarters.
The following draft arrived from 3rd Battalion
2//Lieuts, C R Freeman, H E Hobbs, W G B Garrard + 248 Men
The battalion was reformed.
The Battalon now has a strength of 10 Officers and 454 NCOs and Men.
Battalion in Billets near Poperinghe.

It was in the action of the 8th that George Hallam was reported as missing later presumed dead.

The casualty report of the War Office from 2nd June 1915 officially Lists Pte G Hallam 8348, 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers as missing .

Newspaper clipping 11th June 1915
MISSING – Official intimation has been conveyed to his wife that Priv Geo. Hallam, Northumberland Fusiliers, is reported missing.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private George Hallam, 8348, 2nd Bn., Northumberland fusiliers Regiment who died on 8 May 1915 Age 34. Son of the late George Hallam; husband of Ethel Hallam, of Baston, Peterborough, Northants.
Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
George is also remembered on the Baston Memorial

George was awarded the 1914 Star and clasp for service in 1914 and 1915.

We will remember them

Remembrance – Leslie Grosvenor Hodgkinson

Remembrance – Leslie Grosvenor Hodgkinson

Today we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the death of Billingborough man Leslie Grosvenor Hodgkinson, killed in action 28th July 1917.

Leslie was born in early 1894 in Billingborough the eldest of three sons born to Charles Grosvenor Hodgkinson, a Journalist born in Grantham and his wife Mary Ann Burrows of Swinsted.
His two brothers Charles Norman, 1895 and Thomas Basil, 1897 were also born in Billingborough. Their parents had married in the Nottingham area in 1893.

The young family made their home on the High Street in Billingborough as can be seen in the 1901 census although by 1911 Leslie was working as an insurance clerk and living at 14 Mansfield Grove, Nottingham and lodging with Fanny Nelson.

The young men of Billingborough were quick to answer their call and the Grantham Journal carried an article on the 12th September 1914 naming the “Local Patriots”

“Several Billingborough and Horbling young men have rallied most patriotically to the nation’s call. Their names and the regiments in which they have enlisted are as follows:-H.J. Tebb, Royal Horse Artillery, R,W Tebb, Royal Horse Artillery and Herbert Tebb, 11th Hussars, sons of Mr. H. Tebb (Horbling); Leslie G Hodgkinson, Royal Field Artillery and C Norman Hodgkingson, Royal Engineers, sons of Mr. C.G. Hodgkinson; Ernest Smith, Royal Field Artillery and Albert Smith, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, sons of Mr. William Smith, Bootmaker. Mr Smith has also another son in the regular service, viz., Bandman Archie Smith, 3rd King’s Royal Rifles. The following have enlisted in Lord Kitchener’s New Army: – Fred Harrison, son of Mr. H.C. Harrison; Walter Nicholson, W. Carpenter (Horbling), Frank Corn, W. Watson (Horbling), Harris Ellingworth (Horbling), W. Swin (Horbling), H. Kemp (G.N. railway clerk, Billingborough), W. Birch and W.H. and J.F. Pattinson (Stow). Mr. John Marshall, hairdresser, who saw active service in the South African war, has also been accepted. The Yeomanry ranks include Eric Barber, son of All. J.S. Barber, of Rookfield. There are several others serving in the Regular Army. The recruits mentioned are in addition to the lads – mostly farm hands – who enlisted on Monday night.”

A further article on the 24th of December 1914 mentioned Leslie Hodgkinson as one of the lads that had recently been home for short leave.

Leslie was posted to “B” Battery of the 58th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and sailed with them and on the 9th August they landed at Anzac Cove in Galipoli. A week later it was moved to the Left Flank Artillery in the Suvla Bay area and came under temporary command of the 10th (Irish) Division.

Leslie wrote a letter home that was edited into an article by the Grantham Journal on the 21st August under the headline “Sunshine and Flies”

Writing from “Somewhere with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force” Bombardier Leslie G Hodgkinson, of the R.F.A. gives some interesting particulars of the difficulties encountered by the troops. He says their greatest troubles are the intense heat and the pestering habit of the flies. There is one continuous blaze of sunshine from the rising to the setting of the orb, and the hottest days in England are not in it with the heat out there. there are myriads of flies, covering their food every time it is served, and pestering them at all times, more especially when they want to snatch a few hours’ sleep. The sand blows about in blinding clouds, covering everything and they must have eaten quite a lot with their food. Although we, in England, have been having record rains this summer, they have not seen a spot since they left England at the beginning of July. In spite of the discomforts, the general health of the troops is good, and a fine spirit of courage and determination pervades the lot of them.

The Brigade remained in Galipoli until the 18th December 1915 and sailed for Alexandria, Egypt, arriving there on the 2nd January 1916. They stayed in Egypt for 6 months, a regular story for many of the ex Galipoli brigades, before being posted to France in preparation for the Somme offensive.

Leslie is next mentioned in another Grantham Journal article on the 23rd June 1917.

“ON LEAVE- Mr. C. G. Hodgkinson’s eldest son, Leslie who is in the R.F.A. has returned home this week for his first leave, after being abroad for two years. After going through the Gallipoli campaign, he was sent to Egypt for six months, prior to being transferred to France, where he has been fighting since June 1916. His battery was engaged in all the big battles on the Somme and although he saw severe fighting at Arras, La Boisselle, Pozieres, Thiepval, Courcellette, Le Says, Bapaume and Bullecourt, his worst experiences were in the Ypres Sector. With his Artillery officer, he went over the top with the infantry and tells some thrilling accounts of what he saw after the explosion of the mines. In spite of the long and arduous work he had had to perform and the privations and hardships suffered on the Gallipoli Peninsula , he looks very little the worse for his experiences.”

Leslie rejoined his battery in the Ypres Salient immediately after his leave, although his return was short lived as less than a month later he would be killed in action just days before the battle of Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres) commenced.

In memory of Gunner Leslie Grosvenor Hodgkinson (20981)
“B” Bty, 58th Bde, Royal Field Artillery who died on 28 July 1917 Age 23
Son of Charles Grosvenor Hodgkinson and Mary A Hodgkinson, of Billingborough, Lincs

Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

We were very honoured to be in Ypres on the 100th anniversary of Leslie’s death and were pleased that we could pay our respects on this sad anniversary.