Tuesday, 16 August 2011

“When Shall Their Glory Fade?”

This wonderfully researched piece by Roger Deason was written for the Hamlet Historian magazine in 2005 to commemorate the men of Dulwich Hamlet who gave their lives in the First World War.

Dulwich Hamlet nearly had a much more grandiose war memorial. In the immediate aftermath of the War, Pa Wilson was to the forefront of attempts to draw up a very grand war memorial for the Club. The intention was to list everyone who fought. Sadly the plan was abandoned as it became too difficult to track down who had served where, and who had been injured, such were the numbers involved. Indeed, we only have a small insight into those who did survive; for instance we know that it was Billy Millward who became an Acting Brigadier, won the Distinguished Service Order, the Croix De Guerre and lost a leg, but who were the five who retired as Captains, the “at least” three Lieutenants who won Military Crosses, or most of those who won Military Medals or Distinguished Conduct Medals?

Ironically, by the very act of dying, those associated with the Club ensured their names will live on whilst many others have already faded away. Even leaving that aside, in many ways those who died were the lucky ones, if you read the memoirs of a World War I veteran you will often find that they feared a really serious injury far more than death. A quick death would be a release compared to a serious injury at a time when medical knowledge was far less advanced than it is today. The 1919 Handbook hints at the suffering many would endure for years: “Some have returned maimed and health-broken, but the cheeriness of those who have lost an eye or a limb and can bravely carry on is a stimulant to all who have ever felt downhearted.”

What follows are some very brief details on those who did not make it home. Some names may be familiar to you from past editions of the Hamlet Historian; two were regular members of the 1913/14 first team with others having been first team regulars in the past. Many though, would have been forgotten by now had they not died in the war. Some, possibly many, never actually represented Dulwich Hamlet at football and several had actually left the club prior to the outbreak of war. We know several played for Dulwich St Barnabas, a feeder team founded in 1899/1900 and affiliated to Dulwich Hamlet. (In 1914/15 Dulwich Hamlet had intended to run four teams, Dulwich St Barnabas were counted as one of them, being members of the Dulwich League and entered into the Norwood Hospital Charity Cup.) Their better players did step up into the reserves but many never actually made it into a Hamlet team. At that time Dulwich Hamlet also had a cricket section and two of the deceased appear to have been cricketers, we have no record of them playing football for the club.

Looking though the list, if the deceased were typical of our playing members, what is revealed is a tantalising glimpse of a world long gone. The list reveals a surprisingly high percentage of very local players. Indeed the club still had strong links with Dulwich Hamlet School; a useful link as the school was recognised for its pre-eminence in school sport locally at that time. Many of those who fought were old boys of both the school and the football club. A lack of geographical mobility is hinted at by the large number who had moved just a few miles from birth to their given address at the time of death. Only three of them appear to have links outside the London area. Indeed the suspicion lingers that, if they did not go on any of the Dulwich Hamlet Easter foreign tours, some of these men would have been killed in their first trip abroad, possibly even their first long trip out of the London area.

We have listed the men by order of date of death. Their ranks and regiments are taken from official war records. Where these contradict the 1919 Handbook this is mentioned, but the war records can be taken as more reliable. In the latter stages of the war the high death rate meant promotions, brigade switches and mergers may have occurred without the Hamlet officials realising. Whilst in most cases we can be certain that the person mentioned was involved in the Hamlet there are a few cases whereby we cannot be certain. In those cases the balance of probability points, with varying degrees of certainty, to one person. In such cases we have included the details, but flagged it up with an asterisk (*) after the name.

“There follows a Roll of Honour of the 21 fellows who have given their lives for King and Country, – men we have known and sportsmen we greatly mourn, yet for all that we cannot but feel they are happier than we are happy in their lives, and yet more so in the laying down of them. There remains to us but Pride in them and our memory of them – may we keep it fragrant.”

Dulwich Hamlet 1919 Handbook. It was soon realised that in fact, 22 Hamlet fellows had died.

Walter Lester Lawrence
Date of Death : 2 December 1914 aged 22.
Rank & Unit : Private, A Squadron Royal Bucks Hussars.
Buried : Norwood Cemetery.

The first Hamlet casualty of the war was Walter Lawrence who served with The Royal Bucks Hussars, part of the Household Cavalry. Walter, who had left the club by the time of his death, was youngest of the five sons of Walter James and Eliza Ann Lawrence of 114 Rosendale Road, West Dulwich; at least four signed up. Two of his brothers were also in uniform at the time of his death. Arthur, also an ex-member of the Hamlet, was serving with the 1st Life Guards whilst Claude, a Hamlet first team player and committee member, was alongside Walter in The Royal Bucks Hussars. According to war records Walter was born in Brixton, though the 1901 census reports Dulwich as his place of birth. At the time of enlistment he was living in West Dulwich but actually signed up in Chesham. Walter is the only Hamlet World War One fatality buried in South London. He is remembered on a screen wall at Norwood Cemetery, his actual grave is unmarked.

The 1919 Handbook lists his rank as Trooper.

George Ernest Vasey (Ernie)
Date of Death : 27 April 1915. (The officially recorded date, contemporary news-
papers report 26th.)
Rank & Unit : Lance Corporal, 1st/5th Battalion London Regiment. London Rifle Brigade.
Buried : No known grave. Recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial.

Ernie Vasey was no longer with the club at the outbreak of the war but was the first significant figure in the club’s history to be claimed by the war, after an effective spell in Hamlet colours during which he was recognised as one of the commanding figures in the first team. During his time with the club he was awarded a London F.A. badge. Born in Newcastle, in 1901 he was living there as one of a family of 8 children living with Louisa M. Vasey and a servant.

Ernie appears to have been a victim of the Second Battle of Ypres. This was the only significant assault the Germans launched on the Western Front in 1915; they were busier fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front. This battle began as a means of diverting the allies’ attention from the Eastern Front and a method of testing the use of chemical warfare. One hundred and sixty eight tons of chlorine gas was used on 22 April (the first use of gas on the Western Front) with dramatic success. The Allied army fled leaving 5,000 dead and 2,000 prisoners behind. The German offensive was called off on 25 May 1915 due to a lack of supplies and manpower. It had succeeded in driving the allies back from the highest ground, but had failed to take Ypres, which the Germans then proceeded to destroy via repeated bombardments. In total it cost the lives of 59,000 British troops, 10,000 French troops and 35,000 German troops. The difference in figures is largely due to the repeated use of gas by the Germans, a tactic the Allies were to loudly condemn and quickly copy.

The London Regiment was an unusual one in the British Army. This territorial regiment was founded in 1908 to regiment the various battalions within the newly formed County of London, it remained more of a collection of distinctive battalions than a true regiment. Many of the Hamlet dead served in the various battalions that composed the London Regiment. Ernie would have been one of the first Hamlet people to experience warfare on the Western Front. His battalion took part in the Battle of Le Cateau, just days after they arrived in France and were also involved in the famous Christmas 1914 fraternisation at Ploegsteert Wood.

Stanley Brace Peart
Date of Death : 25 May 1915.
Rank & Unit : Rifleman, 1st/21st Battalion, London Regiment. 1st Surrey Rifles.
Buried : No known grave. Recorded at the Le Touret Memorial.

Stan Peart details are covered elsewhere. It appears that Stan was born in South Australia, the youngest of four children, but by 1901 was resident at 15 Camden Street in the Parish of Camberwell. It was in Camberwell that he enlisted, but by then had moved to Peckham.

The 1st/21st Battalion spent the early days of the war based in Camberwell, before transferring to the Western Front between 9 – 22 March 1915. On 9 May they took part in the Battle of Aubers Ridge, an unmitigated disaster for the Allies. Stan probably took part in that battle but lost his life later that month.

Reginald Astill (Reg.)
Date of Death : 1 July 1916.
Rank & Unit : Rifleman. 1st/9th Battalion, London Regiment. Queen Victoria Rifles.
Buried : No known grave. Recorded on Thiepval Memorial at The Somme.

The first of the two Astill brothers to die in the war; neither appear to have played for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. Instead, they represented Dulwich Hamlet Cricket Club. Reg was born in Brixton, lived in Carshalton and enlisted in London.

The 1916 offensive was conceived to be a war winning strike on three fronts, it ended up with a few divisions of the British army launching an attack in an area that was totally unsuitable in terms of transportation for 40,000 men and their supplies, and with no real chance of strategic gain.

On 1 July 1916, Commonwealth Forces launched an offensive north of the Somme, with British troops attacking along a 15-mile stretch, backed by a French attack to the south. A seven-day artillery bombardment had barely touched the German’s defences; despite expending over 1.6 million shells on the first day alone! Consequently, catastrophic losses were endured. Thiepval was targeted on 1 July but only captured in late September. What is now better known as the Battle of the Somme ended on 18 November 1916 due to the onset of winter turning the battlegrounds into a muddy quagmire.

The attack was launched at 7.30a.m. eleven Divisions were ordered to walk slowly towards the German lines, due to concerns about discipline given the high percentage of inexperienced recent arrivals in action that day, with the intention that once they had broken though the cavalry would be sent in to pursue fleeing German troops. Instead the British endured 60,000 casualties in one day, a third of whom died. 60% of the officers involved in the first day died. A survivor later wrote, “The lads fell like corn before the scythe.” (1) By the time a combination of weather and mud brought an end to the battle on 18 November, the Allies had advanced five miles for approximately 420,000 British casualties, 195,000 French casualties and 650,000 German casualties. The only measure of success the Allies can claim in return for all those lives is that it did assist in relieving the pressure on the French army at Verdun.

Over 72,000 UK and South African forces are remembered at Thiepval, 90% of whom died during the 1916 Battle of The Somme. All of them have no known grave.

(1) The Independent 12/11/05.

George Arthur Popple
Date of Death : 1 July 1916.
Rank & Unit : Sergeant. 1st/12th Battalion London Regiment The Rangers.
Buried : No known grave. Recorded on Thiepval Memorial, The Somme.

The second loss sustained by the Club on the first day of The Somme. ‘Pop’ lived in Upper Tooting and had served in both France and Flanders. He was sent to France on Christmas Eve 1914 and spent part of the summer of 1915 back home recuperating. He had been a regular first team half-back in the 1913/14 team, appearing in 38 of their 43 matches, had been selected for an Amateur International trial match, and earned a Surrey F.A. Cap and Badge and a London F.A. Badge. The 1901 census shows a 9 year old of this name living at 23 St Dunstons Road, Hanwell.

Thiepval is an appropriate location for the memorial. Whilst it is unlikely that either of the two Hamlet victims of the opening day died in the immediate locality, it was the scene of some of the worst British casualties. The seven-day bombardment had barely damaged the German barbed wire defences in this sector, leading to the British troops trying to advance across no-mans land here being slaughtered. It has been said that only bulletproof troops could have won the day at Thiepval on the opening day of the battle.

Tommy Rose
Date of Death : 2 August 1916 aged 35.
Rank & Unit : Bombardier. 156th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.
Buried : St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.

Tommy was arguably the biggest name in Dulwich Hamlet’s history to die in action. A key player in the early years of the twentieth century when the Hamlet emerged as the top team in the area, against competition from the likes of Dulwich and Townley Park. He is also the only player we know for certain who completed his initial training on the Champion Hill pitch when the army took it over. Tommy, a resident of Peckham, enlisted at Camberwell as part of the Camberwell Gun Brigade which was re-named on becoming part of the Royal Field Artillery.

Like most of those buried at St Sever, he succumbed to wounds in one of the nearby field hospitals. The location and date of his death suggests that he probably died of wounds sustained during the 1916 Battle of the Somme, quite possibly in the subsidiary battle known as the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, which launched the second phase of the Battle of the Somme. Tommy’s division sustain heavy losses around Martinpuich. The Royal Field Artillery were present in big numbers and launched a five minute artillery barrage against the German defences before a sudden Infantry attack on the morning of July 14th. Initial successes were not followed up quickly enough and the German defenders re-grouped. The Cavalry were then sent in, to scenes described by a Forward Artillery Spotter, 2nd Lieutenant F.W Beadle:-

“It was an incredible sight, an unbelievable sight, they galloped up with their lances and with pennants flying, up the slope to High Wood and straight into it. ... They simply galloped on through all that and horses and men were dropping on the ground, with no hope against the machine guns, because the Germans up on the ridge were firing down into the valley where the soldiers were. It was an absolute rout. A magnificent sight. Tragic.” (www.wikipedia.org.)

Another attack was launched on High Wood the next day. One battalion saw just 67 survivors out of 200 committed into the attack. There was to be another two months fighting here before the Battle of Flers-Coucellette, 15th September 1916, saw the Allies seize High Wood and other targets from two months previously. By then Tommy had passed away.

The Royal Field Artillery were responsible for the lighter, smaller calibre artillery guns, such as the 13lb and 18lb field guns and 4.5” howitzers, and were often positioned close to the front line

Louis F. Seidel
Date of Death : 14 August 1916.
Rank & Unit : Commander, Uganda
Volunteer Reserve.
Buried : Voi Cemetery, Kenya.

The circumstances surrounding Louis Seidel’s death are obscure. The South London Press mention his death in an article on 17th September 1915. However in the 31 October 1914 match day programme Louis doesn’t even appear in the list of Hamlet people who had signed up but he does appear as alive and enlisted in The African Rifles in the similar 1916 list. On the balance of probability, the official date of death of 14 August 1916 seems the more likely. The cemetery opened in 1915, it holds just 127 war graves, however some of the graves are post war re-burials so this does not provide conclusive proof that he died after this date. He is the only fatality we can say for certain was an old boy of Dulwich Hamlet School, the picture is taken from a Dulwich St Barnabas team line up in 1906/07.

The East African Theatre in World War One is now largely forgotten. The Germans deployed a column here that successfully tied up an Allied force via guerrilla tactics. Allied attempts to suppress them were largely ineffectual; it is highly probable that Louis was involved in these efforts. Peace was only secured in this campaign on 13th November 1918.

The 1919 Handbook lists him as being a Private in the African Rifles.

Francis W. Hagger (Frank)
Date of Death : 1 October 1916.
Rank & Unit : Rifleman 1st/16th Battalion
London Regiment
Queen’s Westminster Rifles.
Buried : No known grave. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

Another victim of the madness that was The Somme. Frank Hagger had initially enlisted in the Navy, serving as secretary to the Captain of H.M.S Lyons until it was decommissioned. He last played for the Hamlet on 26 December 1915 when he turned up in a Naval Asst. Paymasters uniform. He subsequently signed up for the Army and went missing during a night raid. Before the war he was on the fringes of the first team, appearing in 25 non first XI matches in 1913 /14 and had been appointed Vice-Captain of the Senior Team for 1914/15. (The Senior Team played in the Isthmian Reserve League and ranked ahead of the Reserve Team who played in the Southern Suburban League). His status as one of the more high profile victims saw the Club pay tribute to him (together with Messrs Popple, Bescoby and Clarkson) by including his portrait in the 1919/20 Handbook.

Reginald Walker*
Date of Death : 23 December 1916.
Rank & Unit : Private 11th Battalion The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.
Buried : Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery.

This is the one of the weakest of all the entries here in terms of historical provenance. However, one candidate does stand out as the most likely match with ‘our’ man. He was born in Streatham, lived in West Dulwich and enlisted at Lambeth. He died of wounds, and the graveyard where he is buried is on the site of a military hospital that was in operation from October 1914 – September 1917.

William George Dunbar Clarkson (Willie)
Date of Death : 31 March 1917.
Rank & Unit : Private, 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.
Buried : No known grave. Honoured on the Arras Memorial.

Another of the better known (to his contemporaries) of the Hamlet fatalities. Vice Captain of the Senior team in 1913/14, making 23 non first team appearances, Willie had been appointed their Captain for 1914/15. We know that Willie was serving in the Royal Sussex Regiment and failed to return from a working party. At the time he was shortly due back in England to take up an Army commission. The Royal Sussex Regiment had a recruiting depot locally and was the regiment whose details the club listed in the match programme v Crystal Palace in the early days of the war. He was killed in the run up to the 2nd Battle of Arras. See portrait elsewhere.

Walter Reginald Wheeler (Reginald)
Date of Death : 31 March 1917 aged 27.
Rank & Unit : Rifleman 2nd/21st Battalion London Regiment.
1st Surrey Rifles.
Buried : Salonika Military Cemetery.

The second Dulwich death on 31 March 1917 occurred when Reginald succumbed to wounds sustained. He died in a little known theatre of war, the Balkans. In October 1915 the Greek premier invited the Allied Forces to occupy Salonika. An Anglo-French force of two large battalions was sent to assist the Serbs against the Bulgarian aggression; however the Serbs had lost before the soldiers arrived. A pragmatic decision was made to keep the force there, against the wishes of many Greeks. Even King Constantine backed the Germans, however this was the time of Gallipoli and all Allied shipping in the locality was needed there. It should be noted that the Greek army joined the war on the Allied side in

August 1916 after the Greek revolution broke out in Salonika and assisted the Allies in fighting the Bulgarians.

Reginald was born in Ifield, enlisted at Camberwell and left a wife, Alice F.E. Wheeler, who lived at 178 Ladywell Road, Lewisham and appears only to have served in the Balkans. In this campaign three men died of illness – malaria was a major killer – for every war casualty. However, Wheeler died of wounds making him probably the only Hamlet man to have died at the hands of the Bulgarian army. The picture above is taken from a Dulwich St Barnabas team line up in 1906/07; Reginald was on their committee for 1914/15.

The 2nd/21st were founded in Camberwell in August 1914 in order to replace the territorial units, which were in the process of being sent to the various theatres of war. For weeks many of the men lived at home and reported daily for training. They had to train with Japanese rifles as no proper rifles and kit were available to them until late 1915, when training was accelerated. They were deployed to France in June 1916 and then to Salonika in November 1916, via Marseilles and Malta. They did not return to the Western Front.

Leonard John Rawling
Date of Death : 12 April 1917 aged 29.
Rank & Unit : Private. 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.
Buried : No known grave. Honoured on the Arras Memorial.

Another ex member of the Hamlet club, he served in the same Battalion as Willie Clarkson, Leonard died just twelve days after him in the Second Battle of Arras. Born in Herne Hill; at the time of the 1901 census he was living with his parents, three sisters and a 14 year old servant at 41 Milton Road, Lambeth, but on signing up their address was 38 Lancaster Road, West Norwood. His father, a drapery warehouseman, pre-deceased him. Leonard also served in The Royal Fusiliers.

Leonard was killed in the 2nd Battle of Arras, probably in the 1st Battle of the Scarpe phase. Arras is little remembered today compared to the likes of The Somme and Passchendaele, but was one of the most important actions the British Expeditionary Force took part in. The British launched a large assault on the German troops, who had made a tactical withdrawal to the Hindenburg line, on 9 April. Initial success, such as the Canadians seizing the important high ground at Vimy Ridge, soon waned and it became a very costly affair in terms of casualties prior to the end of the battle on 15 May 1917.

William Henry Nixon
Date of Death : 24 April 1917 aged 26.
Rank & Unit : 2nd Lieutenant 298 Siege Battery, Special Reserve, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Buried : Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery near Ypres.

Another of the local lads, William’s parents lived at 190a Ranmore, Lordship Lane. The ‘Soldiers of the Great War’ official records list gives his date of death as 24 August 1917, however, the date above seems more probable.

The Royal Garrison Artillery were responsible for the large, heavy calibre artillery guns & howitzers during the war, such as 60lb gun and howitzers up to 12 inch. They were often placed some way behind the front line. Despite his burial location the date of death suggests he was not a victim of any of the official Battles of Ypres.

Frank Sydney Marsh
Date of Death : 28 April 1917 aged 23.
Rank & Unit : 2nd Lieutenant 1st R.M Bat, R.N.
Royal Marine Light Infantry.
Buried : No known grave. Honoured on the Arras Memorial.

Another Hamlet casualty at the 2nd Battle of Arras, and a man who appears to had had a varied military career in his short life. In 1914 he was listed as being in the 21st County of London Regiment, whilst by 1916 he was with the Inns of Court Officer Training Corp. We know he spent time in The Royal Fusiliers, training with Eddie Bescoby, yet he died fighting for the Royal Marines Light Infantry. His parents resided at 22 Maryland Road, Thornton Heath. He had been appointed Vice-Captain of Dulwich St Barnabas FC for the 1914/15 season.

Edward L. Bescoby* (Eddie)
Date of Death : 18 June 1917 aged 25.
Rank & Unit : Second Lieutenant, Royal Fusiliers.
Buried : Ljssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Eddie Bescoby has been problematical to trace as it appears that the name on the Dulwich Hamlet war memorial may be incorrect. Only one E.L. Bescoby is officially listed as having died during the First World War, and the War Records Office list him as Edgar Laurence Bescoby, but he was the same regiment and rank as we know ‘our’ Eddie was. The confusion may lie in the fact that Bescoby was known as ‘Eddie’ at Dulwich, and it was naturally assumed that his name was Edward. The last of the regulars from the 1913/14 team to die; he played in 33 of their 43 matches, and was the half back partner of Arthur Popple, who was killed a year earlier,

Eddie was in The Sharpshooters before the war commenced, before getting a commission into The Royal Fusiliers via the 3rd County of London Yeomanry. He did his training with them in Lichfield alongside another Hamlet man, Frank Marsh. He died of his wounds in action in a fairly minor engagement after surviving the early days of the Battle of Messines. Ljssenthoek was used as a casualty clearance station out of reach of the German artillery. His parents are recorded as living in Guestling near Hastings, where Eddie’s name appears on the war memorial at St Laurence Church.

Gilbert Furmage Chignall
Date of Death : 7 June 1917.
Rank & Unit : Lance Corporal 1st/23rd County of London Battalion London Regiment.
Buried : No known grave. Honoured on the Menin Gate Memorial.

Sometimes referred to as Gilbert Feermage Chignall, he was born in Bromley but was resident in Dulwich Village by the age of 3. He died in the run up to the 3rd Battle of the Ypres, more commonly referred to as Passchendaele. This was launched by Commonwealth troops to divert the German troops from a weakened French front to the south. Henry Allingham, Britain’s oldest surviving World War 1 veteran has described watching the start of the battle, seeing men waiting to go over the top to probable death, “They knew what was coming. It was pathetic to see those men like that. In many ways I don’t think they have ever had the admiration and respect they deserved.” (2) The initial attempt succeeded, clearing German troops from the Messines Ridge, but when the main assault began in late July, a mixture of bad weather and fierce resistance saw the campaign become bogged down before the capture of Passchendaele in November 1917.

Gilbert is another who moved around within the Army, he spent time with the 7/12 City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) and is one of over 54,000 men with no known grave honoured on the Menin Gate Memorial.

The 1919 Handbook lists him as a Sergeant.

(2) The Independent 12/11/05.

Ernest William Dearne Astill
Date of Death : 30 March 1918.
Rank & Unit : Second Lieutenant 2nd/9th Battalion London Regiment
(Queen Victoria Rifles).
Buried : No known grave. Remembered on the Pozieres Memorial,
The Somme.

After losing so many men in the early days of 1917, nearly a year was to pass before another fatality. Indeed the war itself went through a quiet spell as the Germans withdrew to newly prepared defences along the Hindenburg Line. Ernest, like his brother, was a Dulwich Hamlet cricketer who does not appear to have represented the club at football. He survived over three years of war, but was to lose his life in the 1918 Battles of The Somme. He is one of over 14,000 British troops with no known grave remembered at Pozieres. Nearly all went missing during the critical early days of the battle, March – April 1918, during which time an Allied defeat was a serious possibility. The Germans decided in late 1917 that they had to strike in early 1918, believing the Allied army to be exhausted after a series of major battles in 1917. The Germans had numerical superiority, but were aware this was only temporary as more American troops were due over. Consequently, they launched the 1918 Battles of The Somme on 21 March. The German offensive, known as the Kaiserschlacht, met with initial success, driving the Allied 5th Army backwards over much of the former Somme battlefields. This was the last hurrah for the Germans though, as a counter attack worked and the Drive to Victory can be dated to 18 August 1918.

The 2nd/9th Battalion London Regiment was another example of a territorial force founded in 1914 to replace the front line territorial troops who went to the Front that year. Again, they were badly off for kit and supplies, often not even receiving Lee Enfield 303 rifles or quick fire artillery weapons until mid 1916, and it was early 1917 before they could be deployed to the Western Front.

It is indicative of the stalemate on the Western Front that Pozieres is very close to the targets the Allies were trying to take back in July 1916 at the Battle of Bazentin Ridge where Tommy Rose was probably fatally wounded.

Jack Harold Chance Butler
Date of Death : 6 August 1918 aged 27.
Rank & Unit: Sergeant, 237 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Buried : Terlincthun Cemetery.

Another of the local lads, and born in nearby Brixton. Jack’s parents lived in Tulse Hill, whilst he was married to Adelaide J. Butler and lived at 112 Palace Road, Tulse Hill. Despite this he enlisted at Herne Bay, seeing action in both France and Flanders before his death. Terlincthun is near the site of several field hospitals and many buried there passed away in hospital from wounds sustained previously, often being buried locally and then re-buried at Terlincthun after the war. The cemetery was badly damaged during World War II.

Sidney Herbert Beales
Date of Death : 25 August 1918 aged 34.
Rank & Unit: Private, 1st/13th Princess Louise’s Battalion, London Regiment.
Buried : No known grave. Remembered at Vis en Artois Memorial.

A local lad, though his parents had moved to Twickenham by the time of his death. Victory in the last Battle of the Somme had cleared the way for an Allied advance and eventual victory. Sidney died in the phase of the war known as the Advance to Victory. He is one of 9,000 men with no known grave remembered on the Vis en Artois Memorial, all lost between 18 August 1918 and the ceasefire in the Picardy and Artois region. Another of the married men, his wife was Florence Emma Beales of 35 Friern Road, Dulwich. Whilst not featuring by 1913/14 Sidney had been a first team player in the past, often appearing at halfback. He was the older brother of Percy, who also represented the Hamlet at first team level. Away from football the 1901 census lists Sidney as a Clerk.

The 1919 Handbook lists him as being in the Queen Victoria Rifles, which was also part of the London Regiment suggesting he may have transferred battalions at some point.

According to the 1919 Handbook Sidney was the last Hamlet man to die, however we are confident this is ‘our’ man. It is an unusual name, the official war records only record two S. Beales as dying in the entire war and the known details of this Sidney Beales tally with the relevant entry in the 1901 census. (His father is named as Harry in the census, it seems reasonable to assume the war record version, Harly, is due to someone mis-reading Harry at some point, the rest matches perfectly.) It appears that he was initially declared missing and declared dead at a later date with the Hamlet using that date whilst the official war records use the date he was declared missing as his date of death.

Albert Charles Andrews *
Date of Death : 4 September 1918 aged 19.
Rank & Unit : Private 26762 A Coy 12th Battalion East Surrey Regiment.
Buried : Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, North France.

There is confusion over his name as the 1919 handbook lists him as J.C. Andrews whilst the war memorial lists him as A.C. Andrews. Given that we have identified errors in the 1919 Handbook it seems probable that the war memorial is the correct version. Indeed there are no J.C Andrews, who seem to fit the bill amongst the official war dead. There is however an A.C. Andrews who does match. Albert was born and enlisted in Camberwell, listing his parents as William Arthur and Rosina Andrews of 35 Ulverscroft Road. He died of wounds after serving in both Flanders and France.

The 1919 Handbook lists J.C. Andrews as a Sergeant in the Civil Service Rifles: a battalion within the London Regiment. Furthermore, his place in the 1919 Handbook Roll of Honour suggests his death occurred between Stan Peart and Reginald Astill, and not in 1918. To add to the confusion, a Lance Sergeant in the Civil Service Rifles named Archibald John Andrews did go missing (and was subsequently declared dead), in the Arras area on 21st May 1915. This fits in nicely with A.C.’s place in the Roll of Honour, unlike Andrew Charles who died in 1918. It is possible that both the memorial and the handbook got his initials wrong and that this is our man. Or, could he perhaps have been known to the club as John? Archibald was 11 and living in Portsmouth at the time of the 1901 census. It will be interesting to see where Archibald was residing when the 1911 census data is released.

It is also worth noting that the April 1916 edition of ‘News of the Pink and Blue Brigade’ does not list anyone with the surname of Andrews as either enlisted or deceased, despite being up to date enough to report Stan Peart's death. This suggests it may be that the 1919 Handbook Roll of Honour is chronologically wrong. If that is the case Albert Charles is almost certainly our man.

Robert Charles Lawrence D.C.M.
Date of Death : 19 October 1918 aged 29.
Rank & Unit : Sergeant, 231st Brigade Royal Field Artillery.
Buried : Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy.

Brothers Arthur, Claude and Walter (the first Hamlet man to die), had signed up to fight in the early days of the war. Robert appears to have enlisted later but went on to be the only one of our dead known to have been the recipient of a bravery medal. The Distinguished Conduct Medal was second only to the Victoria Cross for non-commissioned personnel. He is buried at Maissemy, the scene of much fighting in 1918. It was taken by the Germans on 21 March and only recaptured on 15 September. It is probable he may initially have been buried elsewhere as many of those buried here were brought in from small temporary cemeteries at the end of the war.

The 1919 Handbook lists him as a Corporal.

Percy Sills
Date of Death : 6 November 1918.
Rank & Unit : Acting Lance Corporal, Labour Corp.
Buried : Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby.

Percy was the final Hamlet fatality, dying less than a week before the ceasefire. Percy was listed as aged 13 in the 1901 census when he was living at 269 Crystal Palace Road, Dulwich. He was another local lad being born at, living at and enlisted at Dulwich, however, he ended up in The Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment), suggesting he may have been a conscript. Before he died he had transferred to the 506th Home Service Employment Company. He didn’t actually serve abroad, however, The Sherwood Foresters were involved in quelling the Republican Uprising in Ireland at Easter 1916, so he may have seen action there. Percy was the only son of Albert and Louisa Sills.

The 1919 Handbook lists him as a Private.

Original article from HH14 Winter 2005.
Copyright © Roger Deason