Beechholme memorial plaque
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GARDNER, Alfred 

Private 8103


2nd Northamptonshire.


Died Of Wounds the 15th March 1917 aged 27.


Brother of Mrs Ellen Joyce of 9, Campbell Street, Hall Park, Paddington.



Alfred Gardner was born in 1891 in Kensington. He was the fourth and youngest child of Annie. His father’s name is unknown. On the 1891 census, the family, with Annie at the head, were residing at 122, St Anne’s Road, Kensington. Annie is employed as a laundress and described as a widow. Alfred is aged seven months. He was admitted to Beechholme on the 16th of March 1897 with his brothers William and Henry. Poor Law records state that they were orphans. The next of kin was given as an aunt, Mrs. Daniels of 11, Woodstock Road, Shepherds Bush. William was adopted and was discharged from the school on the 24th of August 1906 to the band of the 1st Northamptonshire regiment.


.A report in the year 1909 states " With 1st Northamptonshires in Poona, India. Character very good. Somewhat dull and will not make a good musician. He is now being tried as a drummer. Very clean and tidy."


His medal index card indicates that he was an early enlister as he was entitled to all three war medals, including the 1914 star. His date of entry was the 13th of August 1914. He had enlisted in London. There are no surviving service records for him.


The 2nd Northamptonshire regiment were stationed in Alexandria, Egypt in August 1914 and returned to England landing in the October of that year. They came under the command of the 24th Brigade in the 8th Division and landed at Le Havre on the 5th of November.


The 24th Brigade joined the 23rd Division and in 1915 were engaged in various actions on the Western Front including trench familiarisation and taking control of the front line at Ferme Grande Flamengrie to the Armentieres-Wez Macquart Road and at Bois Grenier.


During 1916 they were involved in the attack on Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Albert.

The 2nd Northamptonshire regiment were involved in operations on the Somme in early 1917.

An attack on the 4th March  had been prepared for in great detail, and the objective of this attack was to capture the north end of the Epine de Malassise, a long sharp-crested ridge overlooking Bouchavesnes and the Moislans Valley and to deny observation of the valley and the view toward Rancourt to the Germans.


The freezing weather had prevented the digging of assembly trenches so the leading waves had to form up on lines of tapes, ready for the attack to begin at 5.15 a.m. Chewing gum was issued to the troops to stop them coughing, a slight mist aided concealment and a slight frost assisted the going. The barrage began on time and after five minutes began to lift. The first objective (Pallas Trench) was taken on time with few losses. The second objective at Fritz Trench was reached by the attacking troops very quickly, managing to capture a machine gun beyond the objective, and returning with it.


The German defenders had resisted the attack particulary effectively at a position called 'The Triangle', which when captured required troops on the flanks to reinforce the attacking troops, who had incurred many losses. A German battalion preparing to counter attack from a wood near Moislains were dispersed with machine-gun barrage with 400 casualties.


During the day the Germans nearby counter-attacked five times over open ground but the observation obtained from the Fritz Trench led to them being easily seen and repulsed by small-arms fire. German artillery-fire on the captured area, the former no-man’s land and around Bouchavesnes caused considerably more casualties, as two communications trenches were being dug to link the new positions with the old British front line.

German bombardments continued during the night of 4th/5th March and  artillery-fire throughout the next day, but were dispersed by artillery and machine-gun barrage before an attack could be made. The operation cost the British 1,137 casualties. 217 German prisoners were captured along with seven machine-guns and  exceedingly heavy losses inflicted according to surveys of the vicinity after the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.


It is very likely that Alfred Gardner was wounded in this attack as an extract from the war diary shows no further reports of casualties until  the end of March 1917.


“ 3rd March- the battalion relieved the W. Yorks in the Bouchavesnes North Section during the night.”

“ 4th March-The Battalion attacked the enemy trench system on the Moislains Ridge. All objectives of the batttalion were taken and held against repeated counter attacks. Casualties were 7 Officers and 235 Other Ranks.”


Treating an injured soldier during WW1 was fraught with danger. Alfred would have been picked up by stretcher bearers who may have administered very basic first aid before delivering him to a First Aid Post near to the front line. Here he would have been assessed by a Medical Officer and moved to the nearest casualty clearing station. Then he would have travelled further down the line either by barge if near to a canal, or on an ambulance train to one of the  hospitals at Rouen. We can be certain this is what transpired in Alfred’s case as he is buried in St Sever cemetery, Rouen, a cemetery designated for the soldiers who died in hospital there. This is borne out by "Soldiers Effects" records which state that Alfred died at No. 5 general hospital, France.


The sole legatee to his will was his sister Ellen Joyce who had the following inscription added to his headstone "Not dead but sleeping" Sister.



St.Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Wikepedia, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ancestry, Find My Past, The Long, Long Trail, Northamptonshire Regimental Unit History, War Diary courtesy of Kew Archives W/O 95/1722 

Last Updated: 15 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

GATES, Arthur Samuel 

Private G/52951


2nd Middlesex


Killed in Action March 25th 1918, aged 19.



Arthur Samuel Gates was born in the December quarter of 1899, and was baptized on the 7th June 1905 in the parish of Woolwich. He was the third of four children born to Alfred William Gates and Harriet Eliza nee Dixon. His father’s occupation was given as clerk.


On the 1901 census the family are living at 16, Heverham Road in Plumstead. Arthur is aged two and has an older brother and sister. His father is now employed as a machinist metal turner. Another girl is born later this year.


Arthur’s military service records show that his father is described as having deserted the family, presumably sometime between 1901 and 1911 as by the 1911 census Arthur is now described as being an inmate in Beechholme along with his older brother Frederick and younger sister Julia. Arthur's admission date to Beechholme is unknown. His older sister is in service in Staines employed as a housemaid. His mother is also in service in Streatham, and she describes herself as a widow although no death could be found during this time for Arthur’s father.


Arthur enlisted into the 101st Training Battalion on the 23rd of November 1916.  He was living at 72 Askew Road, Hammersmith at this time. His occupation is given as bootmaker, a skill he probably learnt while at Beechholme. He was aged 17 years and 11 months.


He transferred to the 2nd Middlesex Regiment on the 15th of January 1918. He is described as being 5 feet 10 inches tall and he weighed 142 pounds. It was noted that Arthur had a slightly depressed sternum.


The German High Command  had been planning a decisive attack along the western front for the spring of 1918. Their target was the destruction of the British Army who they believed were exhausted by the four major efforts in 1917 of Arras, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai. By mid February the Germans had moved many divisions to the western front in preparation. It was believed by British intelligence that some 110 divisions of the German Army were now in the front line of which 50 faced the relatively short, but recently extended British Front. The time to strike was now before the manpower advantage of the Germans was negated by the American forces who were slowly beginning to build up strength. The Germans called the attack the “ Kaiserschlact” ( Kaiser’s battle).


The strategy would be to cut through on the Somme “ punch a hole and things would develop”.  If all went well the Germans were then hoping to wheel north-west and cut the British line of communications in the narrow neck of land in Flanders. The British Army would be surrounded with no means of escape which would inevitably lead to surrender.


At the same time as German strength was growing, the British Army was depleted, having to face up to a man-power crisis and resultant reorganisation, and was at a low point of morale after enduring the conditions of Passchendaele and the disappointment after early success at Cambrai.


The British named their attack Operation Michael and it involved a vast attack along the whole front between the river Oise and the river Sensee. This area is generally known as the Somme sector. It had been previously decimated by earlier operations and the only significant barriers remaining were the river Somme south of Peronne and the Canal du Nord in the north.


The  2nd Middlesex were part of the 23rd Infantry Brigade of the 8th Division.

Their war diary entry for the 23rd/24th March 1918 shows them to be held in reserve.


24th/25th March “ During the night the battalion relieved the 2nd battalion West Yorkshire regiment. Enemy forced passage of River Somme at Eterpigny after heavy fighting which lasted until 7.30 pm. The battalion withdrew to Estrees and occupied the line about Deniecourt”


Although there is nothing recorded on this day in the war diary, a note in the margin states ‘see appendices’ Here casualty figures are given. Casualties  :- 2/Lt Goodman and 12 other ranks wounded by machine gun fire.


Initially Arthur is recorded as being missing in action. This was revised the same day to killed in action and therefore it is likely that he was killed in the machine gun fire mentioned above.


The service records give Arthur’s next of kin as being his mother, Harriet Gates of 18 Billberry Road, Eltham, Kent although this is not stated on Arthur’s Commonwealth War Graves citation.


His personal effects consisted of his disc only.


The CWGC site also adds that Arthur's body was exhumed on the 28th of January 1921. He was originally buried in a trench grave marked as "Unknown British Soldier". Identification was made by his disc which gave his name, regiment and army number.
He was reburied in the cemetery given below.



GRAVE REF :- Eterpigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme A.8.


Arthur's legatees were his mother, a sister and two brothers.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, The Long, Long Trail, Wikepedia,  Commonwealth War Graves Commission, War Diary of the 2nd Middlesex- W)/95/1713.

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial




To date we have been unable to identify this man.

If you have any information, please do contact us.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


Beechholme WWI memorial
GREEN, Charles


PRIVATE 491479



Charles Green was baptized on the 30th of January 1898 at All Saints Notting Hill.

According to this record he had the middle name of Edgar and was the son of Charles and Ellen Marian nee Mitchell. The family were living at 38, Lonsdale Road at this time. Charles senior was employed as a carman. Young Charles was the oldest of four children born to the couple, the three younger being all girls, one of whom died in infancy.


When the 1901 census was taken the family were living at 42, Lonsdale Road Kensington in shared accommodation with three other families.

Charles Green senior died in 1904 and his son was admitted to Beechholme on the 15th of June 1906. Identification of Charles was made from these Poor Law records using his middle initial of “E”.


By the time the 1911 census was taken young Charles is back living with his mother and younger sisters at 31, Acklam Road, Kensington. She was employed as a charwoman. His mother remarried in 1915 to Charles Furse a bootmaker.


Unfortunately there are no surviving service records for Charles but his medal index card gives his date of entry as the 2nd of September 1915.

Charles enlisted in Kensington into the 13th London regiment, an amalgamation of the 4th Middlesex V.R.C and the 2nd (south) Middlesex V.R.C. The regiment took it’s Latin motto “Quid Nobis Arduis” meaning “ nothing is too arduous for us, from the borough’s coat of arms. Her Royal Highness, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll consented to the use of her name by the regiment and it became officially designated as The Princess Louise’s Kensingtons.


The 13th London regiment was mobilized on the declaration of war and departed England in November of 1914.

The regiment formed a composite battalion with the 1/12th and 1/5th battalions in August 1915 and moved to work on the lines of communication. They transferred to the 168th brigade of the 56th division and engaged in various actions on the western front in 1916 including the diversionary attack at Gommecourt, the battle of Ginchy, battles of Flers-Courcelette and Morval, and the battle of Transloy Ridge.


In 1917 the regiment was involved in the battle of Arras from  9th April until 16th of June.

There were big gains on the first day followed by stalemate.The British attack at Arras was part of the French Nivelle Offensive, the main part which was to take place fifty miles to the south. The aim of this combined operation was to end the war in 48 hours.


The British effort was a relatively broad front assault between Vimy in the north west and Bullecourt in the south east. The 5th Army attacked the Hindenburg Line and was frustrated by the defence in depth, making only minimal gains. The British armies then engaged in a series of small scale operations to consolidate the new positions.  These battles generally achieved limited aims but these were gained at the price of relatively large numbers of casualties.


An extract from the 13th London regiment’s war diary follows :-


12th-20th June 1917 . “ Battalion in training at camp south of Beaurains”

20th June “ Inter company boxing competitions were held during this period.”

20th-26th. “ The battalion took over trenches from London Rifle Brigade in front of Guemappe resting on Cojeur River. Left flank on copse in front line. D Coy in reserve. Sector much quieter than when last held by the brigade. Activity mainly confined to counter battery work though enemy shelled tool trench and the Arras- CambraI Road intermittently.”

Casualties for six day tour:- Killed 1 Officer and 6 Other Ranks. Wounded 1 Officer and 24 Other Ranks.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ‘s website states that Charles’s name was originally inscribed on the Arras memorial to the missing but in the 1920’s it was discovered that he had actually been buried in Guemappe cemetery. There is no inscription on his gravestone and Charles’s mother was the sole legatee of his will.


                        Map of Arras Offensive 1917.



Wikepedia Map of Arras Offensive 1917.




Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


First published: 27 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial




To date we have been unable to identify this man.

If you have any information, please do contact us.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


Beechholme WWI memorial