Beechholme memorial plaque
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RANDALL, Frederick Arthur L. 

Trumpeter 3166


9th Lancers (Queens Royal)


Killed in Action 13 May 1915.



Frederick Arthur Randall was born around 1884 in the Kensington/ Chelsea registration district. His parents cannot be identified although on his medal index card his next of kin is listed as Mr. F. Randall of Colville Road in Acton. Searching christening records, entry of births, electoral rolls of London etc has not proved successful either in the search for Frederick or for his father. The 1891 census has a Frederick Randall listed as resident in Beechholme. He is aged 8. There are four other children with the same surname who could be Frederick’s siblings but as yet no connection has been made. There were at least two other Frederick Randall’s born around this time in the area making the search even harder. He cannot be found for certainty on either the 1901 or 1911 censuses. His middle name of Arthur and the additional initial of L come from Frederick’s medal index card.

What can be ascertained from the medal index card is that Frederick’s date of entry was the 15th of August 1914, so he was a regular soldier or reservist who had enlisted prior to the outbreak of war. No service records survive for this man but from Soldiers Died in the Great War it states that he was born in Kensington and enlisted in Hounslow.


The 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers were a cavalry regiment of the British Army. Prior to the outbreak of war they were based at Tidworth as part of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade in the Cavalry Division. They moved to France and in September 1914 and became the 1st Cavalry Division.

Within the war diary of the 9th Lancers is a sheet of paper where someone has carefully documented exactly where they were:-


15.8.14 -  TIDWORTH- Embarked for Boulogne.

16.8.1 4 - Arrived Boulogne


 4.9.14 - River Marne

13.9.14 -River Marne

27.9.14 - LONGUEVAL


21.10.14 - PLOEGSTEERT

28.10.14 -  MESSINES (YPRES)

8.11.14 - METEREN (YPRES)


 6.3.15 - METEREN

 9.5.15 - Trenches MENIN (YPRES)


 Here follows an extract from the 9thLancers war diary.



May 12th.

Trenches WIELTJE.

“ Regiment 300 rifles and 14 Officers relieve Warwicks in trenches about WIELTJE N.E of ST JEAN at 11pm. Trenches very much out of repair and work carried on all night on them.”


May 13th.

“ Bombardment of our trenches started 4am and continued with the greatest violence for 11 ½ hours.”


Report of Operations (In Detail)

May 13th 1915

“The 9th Lancers took over the trenches East of WIELTJE from the Warwicks at 10 pm on the night of the 12th. The trenches were in a bad state of repair and we worked all night through with sandbags repairing parapets and making traverses. At 3am I was able to see the situation, our trenches were on rising ground, on our left we were linked up with the 18th Hussars, slightly to our right front were the trenches of the 5th Dragoon Guards with a very large wire entanglement between our parapet and theirs. I at once realised that from our position we could command all the ground to the right even if the regiment on our right had to withdraw.

At 4am a very heavy bombardment started which lasted for 11 ½ hours without any cessation. Between 5 and 6am  I received word that the 18th Hussars were retiring.


The German trenches were on the rising ground to my front and roughly constructed. During the morning I observed a considerable concentration going on behind the Hooge front. In the afternoon the 5th Dragoon Guards left their trenches on our right and retired altogether. I at once brought a machine gun to bear on the vacated trench and with another machine gun and rifle fire opened on the Germans who were now coming down a shallow trench with the intention of occupying the vacated ones. This had the effect of making them return very hurriedly. Very good work was done by our machine guns in stopping the fire of a German machine gun which was sniping the gaps in our trench.

About 6pm the shelling of our position started again and this time at a variation from every known sort of shell. A large MINENWERFER was brought up and turned on our trenches. The German trenches were shelled by our Howitzers.


At dusk the bombardment ceased. My casualties were roughly seventy.

I should like to emphasise to my utmost the wonderful spirit shown by all ranks during this terrific bombardment, throughout it many men stood at the parapets and sniped the Germans who were digging, evidently thinking they could do so with impunity and when the shelling ceased the men begged that if the Germans wouldn’t come on we might go for them.”


Unfortunately the signature is now too faded to read, but the above special  report was typed by the Major Commanding the 9thLancers.


Frederick was entitled to the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals. These presumably went to his father.






Frederick’s name is inscribed on a memorial in Canterbury Cathedral where the entire regiment is remembered as a whole.



NB:  A Minenwerfer was a German short range mortar. They were intended for use by engineers to clear obstacles including bunkers, barbed wire etc that longer range artillery would not be able to accurately target.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, War Diary courtesy of National Archives- WO95/1113/2

The Long, Long Trail, Roll of Honour site-available online, Wikepedia

Beechholme WWI memorial

REID, Alfred Frederick

Private  473186


27th Canadian infantry


Died of Wounds 26 April 1917. Age 23.


Brother of Mrs J B Fitzpatrick of Homeside, Hamilton Ontario.



Alfred Frederick Reid was born on 26 January 1893 according, to his army attestation papers. He had an older sister called Annie, and from her marriage certificate from the Canadian Archives her father is given as John Sydney Reid. This man cannot be found for definite on any census return, although there is a man of this name in Horton Asylum in Epsom in 1911 of the right age, but no place of birth is given.


Alfred Reid and his sister were admitted to Beechholme on the 15th of March1899. Poor Law records show that they had been deserted, and also that the parents used the aliases of Llewhellin and Daisny. The childrens' mother Catherine's whereabouts were unknown.
Both children were adopted and both were allocated for emigration.


On the 1901 census both Alfred and Annie are found together in the Liverpool Sheltering Homes in Liverpool, the Louisa Birt organisation. They had been transferred here from Beechholme in readiness for their departure to Canada as a party of  “Home Children”. They would be indentured to a family in Canada, the boys working mostly on the land and the girls as domestic servants. Some families adopted or fostered these children. Some placements worked well with the children being treated kindly, a few did not, the children moving from placement to placement.

On 16 May 1901 the brother and sister set sail on board the “Dominion” among a party of 77 children bound for the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Their destination was Knowlton. It must have been a terrifying ordeal for these two young children, Annie aged ten and Alfred aged eight. They would have been relieved to have each other. All this would change on arrival as the two would have been likely split up and placed with different families . Neither could be traced for definite on the 1911 Canadian census even searching under different spellings of the surname.


On 11 August 1915 Alfred enlisted at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan into the Canadian Infantry. His occupation is given as labourer and he gives his next of kin as his sister Annie of Cornwall, Ontario. Bizarrely he states that he was born in Magog in Montreal which is not only untrue, but those 2 places are over 100 kilometres apart. Alfred is described as being  5 feet 9 ½ inches in height with a dark complexion, blue eyes and black hair. His apparent age was 22 years and 6 months.


The 27th Canadian Infantry battalion left Winnipeg on 15 May 1915 and arrived at  Quebec the next day. Here they boarded the SS Carpathia for England, a ship perhaps better known for its rescue of victims of the Titanic sinking back in 1912. Once in England at Dibgate camp in Shorncliffe they spent the next three months training before leaving England and arriving at Boulogne on 18 September 1915.


In  the spring of 1917 an attack on Vimy Ridge had been planned and was about to be executed. Situated some twelve kilometres north east of Arras, the ridge gained early importance in the war on account of the heights which overlooked the Allied held town. German forces had seized control of the ridge in September 1914 and had constructed bunkers, caves and artillery proof trenches. With such formidable defensive precautions in place the German Army rapidly set about the steady destruction of Arras, pounding the town with impunity. French attempts to regain control of the ridge throughout 1915 were repulsed with huge losses.


The Canadian Corps were tasked with the decisive plan to recapture Vimy Ridge. In preparation for this they constructed miles of tunnels through which troops could pass in readiness for the opening of the attack without coming under shellfire.

The following is a precis from the war diary :-

In preparation for the attack the 27th Canadian Infantry began the first few days of April 1917 training and cleaning their equipment in readiness.


 8 April , having moved to Bois des Alleux, bivouacked there and rested for the remainder of the day. At 9.30 pm the Commanding Officer spoke a few enspiriting words to each company and then at 10 pm in the best of spirits the battalion moved off. Following a mule track across country they proceeded to Aux Rietz and from there to assembly trenches just to the east .

On Easter Monday 9 April 1917 the Canadian attack, comprising four divisions, began following a heavy three week British artillery barrage. The battalion diary for 9 April comprises several pages and it would be impossible to detail all of it or indeed to try and abridge the events of that day.

The Circumstance of Death form for Alfred gives sufficient detail of what transpired.

It states :- “Died of Wounds”

“ He was severely wounded in the right thigh by a shell while advancing on the enemy’s position at Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917 and succumbed from the effects of his wounds at 7.50 pm on 26 April 1917 at No 3 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne”

From the Canadian  Grave Registers document it states amp right thigh which must surely mean Alfred’s leg was amputated.


                    GRAVE REF :- BOULOGNE EASTERN CEMETERY . IV. C.36.



                                   Alfred Reid Beechholme WW1




The inscription reads “ Gone But Not Forgotten” and was put on the grave by Alfred’s sister Mrs J.B. Fitzpatrick of 270, Catherine Street North, Hamilton, Ontario. Annie Reid had married James Barrett Fitzpatrick in 1915.

The cemetery is a large civil cemetery split in two by the Rue de Dringhen, just south of the of the main road to St. Omer. Unusually the headstones are laid flat in this cemetery because of the sandy soil.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton and special thanks to Dr. John Dickenson, retired Reader in Geography, University of Liverpool for the invaluable help provided.

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth war Graves Commission, Canadian Library and Archives, War Diary-available online, First World War.Com, Wikepedia

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial


RUSSELL, William Henry

Private 781452


2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles


Killed in Action  10 April 1917.


William Henry Russell was born on 18 February 1893 at Hammersmith according to his attestation papers. He had a younger sister called Ada and at least one older sibling, a sister called Jane. He was the son of John Russell an unemployed labourer who had been born and bred  in London and who by 1911 was a widower. William’s mother’s name was probably Elizabeth as indicated by christening records for William and Ada at Christchurch St Marylebone. 


William was admitted to Beechholme with his sister Ada on the 17th of June 1898. Poor Law records state that their mother was in prison and their father had deserted..


William departed England from the port of Liverpool on 24 May 1906 for the destination of Knowlton in Quebec. He was part of a group of children from the Liverpool Sheltering Homes travelling on the “Virginian” . His younger sister left the following year for the same destination. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada in the belief that these children stood a better chance for a healthy life in rural Canada. There, families welcomed them as a source of cheap labour to work on farms or as domestics around the home.


On the 1911 Canadian census William was living in Downie Township, Perth County, Ontario and is with a family called Lupton. He is employed as a labourer on a farm.

William’s attestation papers reveal that he enlisted at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on 17 December 1915. He was living in Buttress in Saskatchewan at the time. His occupation was given as a farmer and his next of kin was given as his father John Russell of 2, Lissom Grove Cottages in Marylebone. This address matches where William’s father was living in 1911 with a daughter Jane aged twenty. William is described as being 5 feet 8 inches tall and having light brown hair with blue eyes and being of fair complexion. He had no distinguishing marks.


The 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles left Montreal on 12 June 1915 and arrived in England on 21 June. After a period of training at Shorncliffe they disembarked from “La Marguite” at Boulogne on 22 September 1915. From there they moved to St. Martin Number 3 Rest Camp where the regiment went into tents for the night.

After fighting in many of the important battles of  late 1915 and 1916, on 1 April 1917, the regiment found themselves at VILLERS AU BOIS near to Vimy. Headquarters were established here and cleaning of kit and equipment took place. The weather was unsettled with heavy rain at times which then turned to snow. The first few days were spent in drilling and Company parades. A cleaning of billets and general preparation took place before moving to the forward area.


Battalion Order, Operation Order No.44 states :-

“ The Canadian Corps will, at a time and date to be notified later, in conjunction with a larger operation by the Third Army on the right, attack and capture Vimy Ridge.”


Zero hour had been set for 5.30 am on 9 April. Objectives were reached quickly including the taking of La Folie Farm, and there followed  mopping up, evacuation of wounded, forwarding prisoners, bringing up supplies and consolidation of trenches which was proceeded with vigour. During the morning enemy aeroplanes were very active and seen flying low and within an hour hostile artillery fire became very active and continued throughout the day causing many casualties.


10 April 1917.

All night and during the morning of the 10th the work of consolidation proceeded steadily.

At 4pm during a heavy snowstorm, strong patrols were sent out with instructions to work in conjunction with other patrols from right to left in order to definitely locate enemy positions.


Lieutenant’s Henekey and Spinks taking charge of the patrol from the battalion which reconnoitred Petit Vimy and the Bloater trench system. These defences were heavily manned and severe casualties resulted from rifle and machine gun fire. Lieutenant Spinks having already rendered splendid service as Scout and Sniping Officer being killed and Lieutenant Henekey severely wounded. In spite of the heavy enemy fire both killed and wounded were brought in. Towards dusk the weather improved and work continued on the front line consolidation. The work continued throughout the night whilst the artillery kept up an unremitting fire upon different targets reported  in front of our position.



The battalion attacked with 23 Officers and 664 Other Ranks. Its strength upon relief was 14 Officers and 353 Other Ranks.

During the advance casualties were chiefly sustained from enemy barrage upon the Crater Line and his immediate front line system, and later on during the process of consolidation.



William Henry Russelll Beechholme WW1



Thelus Military Cemetery is situated in open countryside 1.5 kilometres north west of the village of Thelus and 6.5 kilometres north of Arras in the Pas de Calais department. The village stands on the Vimy Ridge and was captured by the Canadians on 9 April 1917. Plot IV and Plot V were brought in from the battlefields of Vimy and Thelus after the Armisitice.


From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Concentration of Graves (Exhumation and Re-burials) document William was originally buried near Vimy specifically Foret Domaniale and then exhumed and re-interred in Thelus on 30 June1916.There is no inscription on his grave.


The Circumstance of Death form states. “ Location of unit at the time of death, trenches at La Folie Farm, west of Vimy. Killed in Action” ( La Folet Farm was situated within La Folet Wood which is now known as Foret Domaniale or National Forest )


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton and special thanks to Dr. John Dickenson, retired Reader in Geography, University of Liverpool for the invaluable help provided.

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth war Graves Commission, Canadian Library and Archives, War Diary-available online, Wikepedia,

Photo of cemetery courtesy of the CWGC

Last updated:19 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

RYMILL, Thomas Edgar

Sergeant 9310, 2nd Loyal North Lancashire


Died of wounds 29th September 1918.


Son of Mrs E. Rymill of 11, Little Orford Street, Draycott Ave., Chelsea.



Thomas Edgar Rymill’s birth was registered in the March quarter of 1891 at Chelsea. He was the oldest child born to Robert Edgar Rymill, sometimes known as Edgar, and Elizabeth, possibly nee Herbert. He had one brother and one sister and his father was employed as a carman. This information was obtained from his younger brother’s baptismal record. Nothing is known regarding Thomas’s early life as neither he nor his family can be found on any census return.


Poor Law records show that Thomas was admitted to Beechholme  on the 9th of October 1903, his mother being in the workhouse infirmary at this time. Thomas’s father is in the Chelsea Workhouse in Britten Street on the1911 census and it is possible that he was in there for a few years.


By 1911 Thomas is a soldier serving with the 2nd Loyal North Lancashire regiment stationed at Ghopuri Barracks, Poona, India. He is aged 21 and his rank is given as private.


The 2nd Loyal North Lancashire battalion landed at Tanga in what was German East Africa on the 3rd of November 1914.  The battle of Tanga sometimes known as the battle of the Bees, was the unsuccessful attack by the British Indian Expeditionary Force together with the Invasion Force to capture German East Africa, present day Tanzania. It took place on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. It was the first major event of the war in Africa and saw the British defeated by a significantly smaller force of German Askaris and colonial volunteers.


For the next two years the 2nd Loyal North Lancashires fought a small scale bush war on the frontier between Kenya and German East Africa. As the only regular British battalion in theatre they were the backbone of the defence, and in addition to its normal infantry role the battalion manned an improvised artillery battery and found mounted infantry and machine gun companies. They fought in many minor actions including skirmishes around Lake Victoria and took part in the operations which led to the capture in March 1916 of the Kilimanjaro area. However, tropical diseases took a heavy toll on the battalion and in December 1916 it was transferred to the healthier climate of Egypt.


In January 1917 they landed at Suez and from here proceeded to Sidi Bashr and were then placed into the lines of communication at Gaza.

On the 27th of May 1918 they landed in France and transferred to the 101st brigade in 34th division.

Marshall Foch’s counter stroke on the Aisne was launched on the 18th of July 1918 and the 2nd Loyal North Lancashires newly arrived from the middle east were committed to battle on the 22nd of July with the 34th division under command of the French 10th army. Over the next few days they advanced against fierce opposition south of Soissons suffering 433 casualties.


By late July the force of the final German offensive was spent and the Allied armies were regaining the initiative. By that time some 18 battalions of the East, South and Loyal North Lancashires would take part in the final allied advance on the western front.


On the 8th of August 1918 an allied offensive achieved complete surprise and made considerable gains. By mid September the Germans were back on the Hindenberg Line.On the 28th of September, three Lancashire battalions took part in the recapture of the Messines Ridge and Ploegsteert. Early on the 29th of September the 2nd Loyal North Lancashire regiment took the village of Wytschaete from the rear.


An extract from the war diary describing the events of the 28th/29th September 1918.


28th Sept 1918. Kemmel

05.30. “ No.2 and 3 patrols having crept forward close under the barrage, commences to advance.”

5.40 am. “ No 2 patrol entered WARSAW CRATER while C Company swept round EASTERN LIP from north and south charging 2 machine guns and bombing the enemy before they could emerge from their dug outs. No 2 patrol captured 7 enemy. 2 platoons of C Company then advanced 100 yards due east of WARSAW CRATER and occupied and consolidated BLUE LINE north of SUICIDE ROAD.

The enemy were completely overcome by this rapid movement and had no time to offer any serious resistance. 42 enemy captured. 8 killed.”

07.45. “ Enemy barrage on our jumping off trench caused a few casualties. Casualties were also caused to B Company as they advanced over the low ground east of PETIT BOIS”

13.00 “ Information received that British troops were in Wytschaete village. Several attempts were made to go forward which met with severe opposition again from 77 mm guns in WYTSHCAETE WOOD.”

16.00. “ The whole of B Company had gone through in small parties into the wood and had driven enemy snipers from the northern position.”

19.15 “ HOSPICE was captured by B Company and consolidated, the remaining Coys pressed through in artillery formation. The dark night enabled them to get within 10 yards of the enemy. One hostile machine gun captured with the loss of one man wounded.”

22.05. “ Enemy had evacuated Wytschaete and B Coy occupied same.”

29/9. 06.00 “ B Coy now withdrawn from Wytschaete and sent to occupy BUG FARM”

11.00. “ By this time the enemy had withdrawn in a south east direction.”

On the night of the 29th/30th Sept the 2nd btn withdrew to ALBERTA DUGOUTS west of WYTESCHAETE to reorganise.”


Casualties for the previous 48 hours :- Killed -Other Ranks 11

                                                       Wounded - Other Ranks 42

                                                       Missing - Other Ranks 11



GRAVE REF :-Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, XXIV.G.21A.


On his gravestone is the inscription " Rest in Peace. In Loving Memory from his mother and relatives."






                                Rymill Thomas Edward Beechhholme WWi                 



Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission,  The Long Long Trail, Grave photo courtesy of Lijssenthoek Cemetery, 

Lancashire Infantry Museum, War Diary courtesy of National Archives-WO/95/245

Last updated: 23 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial