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SKELTON, George 

Private 23481


9th Loyal North Lancashire.


Killed in Action 14th of July 1916.


NB. We have concluded that the George Skilton whose name also appears on the Beechholme WW1 Roll of Honour is one and the same person as the above. This is because “ Soldiers Died Great War” has George Skelton as above being formerly 25971 Bedfordshire and there appears to be no record of any George Skilton or Skelton being killed from the Bedfordshire regiment.


UPDATE MAY 2021: We have received a detailed account related to George's likely regiment from Roger M. who has been undertaking research on the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Roger, I have tried to respond to say thanks for all the detailed information, however my email rejects each time. Nevertheless I have added your comments at the end of George's story below.


George Charles Skelton was baptised on the 13th of September 1896 at St Thomas, Kensal Town. He was the oldest surviving son of Charles and Florence or Flora nee Rasell. George’s father was employed as a coal porter. His mother had been born in New York. The couple had nine children together, three of whom died; there were two sets of twins.


On the 1901 census the family are living at 245, Kensal Road. George is aged five. The house is shared with two other families, one of whom was George’s uncle who was widowed with two young children. George’s family occupied two rooms in the house. Charles Booth describes Kensal Road thus :- “ A long road with mixed shops and dwellings, some fairly comfortable, some poor, others very poor. It is a working class area - men in the building trade, women wash and support the men. No prostitution, but loose relations. Is not vicious only poor and noisy. The beer house on the south side is particularly noisy. Kensal Road should be coloured purple on the map. Kensal Town is situated on the south side of the Grand Junction Canal.”

Purple on the poverty map meant that the street was a mixture of people.


George’s father died in the July quarter of 1901. On the 1911 census George and his younger brother Frederick are both resident in Beechholme. George having been admitted to the school on the 22nd of November that same year. His next of kin was given as his mother of 245, Kensal Road.


George was discharged to the care of his mother on the 31st of December 1903 but then readmitted to the school on the 16th of May 1905.His mother is still alive and employed as a servant in Wandsworth along with one of George’s older sisters. There are other children with the surname Skelton who are in Beechholme on the 1911 census but they are likely to be from a different family.


George enlisted in Hertford which also lends more credence to him being in the Bedfordshire regiment first. Sadly there are no surviving service records for him and there is no qualifying or entry dates on his medal index card. As he was only entitled to the Victory and Bristish War medals he would have enlisted in 1916 and could have been conscripted as conscription commenced in January 1916 and initially targeted all single men between the ages of 18 and 41.


The 9th Loyal North Lancashires were part of Kitchener’s 3rd New Army and they joined the 74th Brigade in the 24th Division. The regiment proceeded to France on the 26th of September 1915 landing at Boulogne. Their first action was in defence of the German attack on Vimy Ridge in May 1916. From there they moved to the Somme, joining the battle just after the main attack and then, with the 75th Brigade, making a costly attack near Thiepval on the 3rd of July.


It is likely that George was transferred from the Bedfordshire regiment to the Loyal North Lancashires after large losses of men and prior to landing in France. There is evidence on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website that other men had been transferred from the Bedfordshire regiment to the Loyal North Lancashires.


The 7th of July 1916 saw huge losses to the Loyal North Lancashire regiment whilst fighting in the trenches of the Somme.


The war diary entries for the dates around the given date of George’s death reveal very little and are shown below :-

10/7/16. “ The battalion was relieved in the trenches by the 3rd battalion Worcester regiment”

12/7/16 “ The battalion moved by route march to SENLIS a distance of about three miles and joined up with the 13th Cheshire regiment as a composite battalion.”

13/7/16 “ The composite battalion moved to TARA HILL east of ALBERT and bivouaced.”

There is no entry for the 14th of July.

15/7 “ The battalion in conjunction with 13th Cheshire regiment relieved the 2nd Wiltshire regiment in the trenches at LA BOISELLE”

16/7 2.00am. In trenches.  “ An attack was made on the enemy trenches N.E of OVILLERS which was ultimately successful.”

Casualties- Other Ranks killed 2

                 Other Ranks wounded 2

                 Other Ranks missing 2.


16/7 8.00pm “ The battalion was relieved in trenches by the 6th Royal Warwickshire and proceeded to huts at BOUZINCOURT”


 There being no entry for the 14th of July when George was killed in action may mean that a mistake was made with the date of his death and he was actually killed on the 16th of July. His mother was the sole legatee.


GRAVE REF :- Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 11A.



NOTE: George’s brother Frederick served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the war and survived.



DETAILED RESEARCH NOTES supplied by Richard M. in May 2021:

I hope you will not mind contacting you with some information on one of the soldiers on your excellent website about the Beechholme War Memorial.

I am currently undertaking research on the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment - hence my interest in 23481 Pte George Skelton. As you mention in the piece on him, there is a connection between the Bedfordshire Regiment and the 9th Loyals which has long puzzled me, but I have now had the time to sort out.

Although Private Skelton has no service record, there are several ex Bedford men with similar numbers (23435 Savill, 23452 Allen, 23458 Locking, 23461 Hebbs, 23468 Coote,) that do, all of whom were casualties with the 9th Loyals. From their records, the Loyals diary, the Loyals BWM and Victory medal rolls, and a study of original Loyals men, what seems to have happened to Private Skelton and his comrades, is this –

 40 men of the Bedfords (31 from 4th Battalion, including Private Skelton and 9 from the 3rd battalion) were transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in Felixstoweon the 26th June 1916.

  • They all were given Loyals numbers between 23424 and 23500 (not all the numbers were used on the BWM/Vic roll).
  • 5 of these men (the records mentioned above) had attested between 22 November and 12 December 1915 and had been mobilised on the 21 January 1916.  Attestation dates differ but all have the same mobilisation date. I am inferring that similar dates are applicable to Private Skelton.
  • A draft was sent from the from the 3rd L N Lancs to France which embarked on 1st July 1916 and the men in that draft were posted to the 9th Battalion L N Lancs. (I have not determined yet whether this draft was just these 40 men or whether they were part of a larger draft)
  • On arrival at Etaples, they joined the 25th Infantry Base Depot: all 9th  battalion reinforcements come from here.
  • There is a curious hiatus of a week while this draft do not actually leave 25 I.B.D. to join the 9th battalion even though they have been posted to the 9th a week earlier.

So far so good but this is where things get a bit complicated!

 As you can see from the attached record from Pte Coote, on the 8th July he was attached to the 20th Manchester Regiment.

  • So were the other 4 ex-Bedford men whose records I have.
  • In addition, two men who were original members of the 9th Battalion, who had been wounded and were also at 25 I.B.D. at the same time, were attached to the 20th Manchesters on the same date.
  • It would appear therefore that the draft for the 9th L N Lancs was held at the 25th I.B.D. presumably while the powers that be were getting an idea of casualties and where the men would be most needed.
  • 20th Manchesters had attacked on the 1st July and needed reinforcements (310 Other Rank Casualties just on 1 July).
  • The 9th L N Lancs had attacked on the 7th but were still in the line on the 8th and no one could have had a clear idea what their casualties were. They were attached to a different division and their casualties ended up at the field ambulances of 3 different divisions. When they did come out their casualties were so high that they had to be amalgamated with the 13th Cheshires but by then though, the draft that included Pte Skelton had gone to reinforce 20th Manchesters.
  • 20th Manchesters War Diary records on the 9th July 1916  “11.45 p.m. Draft of 382 Other Ranks arrived from base consisting of men of the following regiments: Royal Fusiliers, East Surrey’s, East Lancs, Loyal North Lancs and Manchesters”. Another 67 from Manchesters, E Lancs and Loyals arrived on the 10th.

It seems likely that Pte Skelton and his ex-Bedford colleagues were in one of these two drafts. It would appear that, even though they had been posted to the 9th L N Lancs that they never got there or served with that battalion.

 By way of confirmation of that assumption, if you look at the dates of death of the 5 ex-Bedfords and correlate them with the actions of 20th Manchester, they do suddenly make sense.

  • 3 are killed on 3 September when 20th Manchester assaulted Ginchy Village.
  • 1 is killed during a relief on the evening of the 30th August
  • Crucially for the story of Private Skelton, Private Coote and one of the ex 9 Battalion men were posted missing on the 14th July 1916.
  • The appendix to the 20th Manchester’s War Diary for the 14th reads:

“At 2.30 a.m. the battalion moved from CITADEL via 71 NORTH -FRICOURT – and MAMETZ to FRITZ TRENCH where the battalion was in brigade reserve during the attack of the 20th brigade on the German second line and the attack of the 22nd brigade on BAZENTIN LE GRAND WOOD and BAZENTIN LE PETIT VILLAGE. The battalion remained in this trench until 8 a.m. when it moved forward and occupied WHITE TRENCH. Hostile shelling by H.E. and TEAR shells was very severe. Goggles were worn during the day. During the day C and D companies were sent forward to support 2nd Royal Irish Reg and 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers.”

It would make sense that Pte Skelton died in this attack with 20th Manchesters rather than with the 9th Battalion Loyals who were out of the line and recorded literally nothing for the 14th July.

 “Soldiers Died” does record 5 other 9th Battalion men KIA on this day. They have no service records, but they enlisted in Watford, Cheshunt, Luton, Hertford, Withersfield in Suffolk and Great Shelford in Cambridgeshire. The entire 9th battalion of the Loyals when it landed in September 1915, with 1 exception (from Yorkshire!), enlisted in Lancashire. I suggest that these 5 men, Pte Coote and Pte Skelton were all ex Bedfords who died with the 20th Manchester.

Interestingly, on the 30th July the draft to the Manchesters from the East Surreys left to go to the Queens regiment and all men who were from Irish regiments that had reinforced the battalion were transferred out to 2nd Royal Irish Reg. but the draft from the 9th L N Lancs appears to have remained with the 20th Manchesters: I have yet to find any evidence that any of this draft of ex Bedford men did serve with the 9th Loyals. There was a second draft of ex Bedfords (numbered in the low 26000’s) who would join 9 L N Lancs later some of whom also seem to have gone to 20th Manchesters and there may have been elements of a 3rd ex-Bedford draft as well. Still working on those though!

 In conclusion, I think that this draft, including Private Skelton, probably most of a second, and some of a third draft, all men from your part of the world, really “belong” to the 20th Manchesters rather than 9th Loyals. I am hazy about the difference between a “posting” and an “Attachment”, but it does seem to me that these men, including Pte Skelton, did their service with 20th Manchesters and not 9th Loyals whatever unit they were technically supposed to be with.

 Hope that makes sense!

 Best regards

 Roger M.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Find My Past, Ancestry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long Long Trail, War Diary courtesy of National Archives WO/95/2246/1

Last updated: 22 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial


NB. Please see item for George Skelton. it is believed that this is a duplication.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


Beechholme WWI memorial

SLIGHT, Ernest Arthur 

Died 21 February 1920


Age 26.



Ernest Arthur Slight was born on 24 June 1893 and christened on 23 May 1900 at Christ Church, Notting Hill, and at the same time as his three siblings. He was the second child of Arthur James Slight a coach painter and Alice nee Sayer.


On the 1901 census the family are living at 22 Telford Road, Notting Hill. Tragedy has struck the family though because in 1900 Ernest’s mother died at the age of 37.  His father is being helped with the care of the children by their maternal grandmother. None of the children are listed as attending school and one of them Charles, is deaf and dumb.


Ernest was admitted to the workhouse infirmary on the 4th of January 1903. His father would die the same year.
Ernest was admitted to Beechholme on the 26th of August 1904 and Poor law records state he was an orphan and was adopted. A grandmother - Mrs Sayer is given as his next of kin.

Ernest's brother was shown as a resident in Beechholme on the 1911 census.


In 1911 Ernest is living at 153 Clarenden Road in Kensington where he is employed as a bootmaker. He is aged sixteen. Another bootmaker living at the same address called George Taylor is probably the same George Taylor found at Beechholme on the 1901 census. Both lads are employed by Albert Rouph.


What happened to Ernest next is unknown. He must have had some connection to the services for his name to feature on the Beechholme Memorial, but we have found no trace of any records concerning this man.  Given the fact that he died young it is possible he tried to enlist into one of the services but was found to be medically unfit and perhaps was employed in some capacity at home.


Ernest died of valvular disease of the heart ( mitral stenosis) in the Kensington Infirmary, later to be known as the St Mary Abbot’s Hospital.  His brother Alfred was the informant on the death certificate and the address given was 19 Treverton Street. Ernest’s occupation was given as a stores porter.

Ernest Slight is found on the 1915 electoral roll living at the above address. Similarly he is again listed in 1919 living with Alfred- but there are no entries anywhere in London for the intervening years for him.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Death Certificate- General Register Office-DYD 715563

Laswt updated: 22 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

SMITH, Stephen


Private 6007, 8th Hussars

Private 3927 1st Life Guards

Private 3086 Guards Machine Gun Regiment


Date of Death 24 November 1918.



Husband of Mrs S.Smith of 8, Acanthus Road, Lavender Hill, LONDON.



Stephen Smith  was born around 1887 in the borough of Kensington or Chelsea. His father’s name was also Stephen, according to his entry of marriage.

Stephen cannot be traced on the 1891 census so therefore his mother is unknown.


By the 1901 census Stephen is resident in Beechholme at the age of fourteen. There are other children with the surname Smith within Beechholme at this time but no connection could be made between them.


Stephen's admission date to Beechholme is unknown but Poor Law records hold a report made on him after discharge from the school. The report is dated 1906. Stephen was aged twenty and had been a resident of the school for eight years and nine months which would give him a discharge date of around 1902 when he would have been fifteen and an admission date of around 1893/4. The report goes on to add. Royal Military School of music Kneller Hall. "This lad who is in the 8th Hussars is undergoing a course of special instruction at Kneller Hall where he is making excellent progress. His general conduct and attention to his duties are all that can be desired".


Stephen cannot be found conclusively on the 1911 census.


His medal index card gives his date of entry as 11 November 1914 and initially he served with the 8th Hussars. There are no surviving service records for him. His regimental number of 6007 indicates an enlistment date of between 1902 and 1903. The 8th Hussars had taken part in the 2nd Boer War in South Africa and returning to England had six years without being involved in any conflict before being sent to Ambala, India in August 1914 as part of the Ambala Cavalry Brigade. Here they remained for three months until they were recalled due to the outbreak of war and they arrived in Marseilles on 10 November 1914 where they joined the 1st Indian Cavalry Division.

The regiment arrived too late to take part in the Retreat from Mons and they entered the trenches for the first time on the Western Front on 9 December 1914. The first action that the 8th encountered was at the Battle of Givenchy. The majority of their time was spent sending large parties forward to dig trenches and this continued for the whole of the war. They did take part in the Second Battle of Ypres where the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time. In September 1915 the 8th Hussars transferred to the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division.


The majority of the casualties incurred were from the unsanitary conditions of the trenches, the cavalry being held almost exclusively in reserve.


On 26 December 1916 at St Mary West Brompton Stephen married Muriel Grace Scrivener.Stephen was aged twenty-nine and described as a military musician with the 1st Life Guards; he was stationed at Hyde Park Barracks at this time. His father was deceased by the time of the marriage and he had been employed as a plumber and decorator.


 From the war diary the 4th Guards Machine Gun Company departed form Epsom station on 17 March 1917 bound for Southampton. Here half the company boarded the SS Duchess of Argyll and the other half on the transport ship SS Siptah. They disembarked at Le Havre and proceeded to No 1 Rest Camp.


On 22 March 1917 the company entrained and proceeded to the Plateau en Bray, Somme. From there the company went into camp at Le Transloy where they were employed in road digging and repairs.For the remainder of 1917 the company was in and out of the lines firstly in the Entricourt, Combles region and then at St Omer.


November 1918 and the company were advancing in the Les Mottes, Neuf Mesil region and from there to Les Tombes at the end of November.


The casualty figures for November 1918 were 1 Officer killed, 1 Officer wounded, 4 Other Ranks killed, 18 Other Ranks wounded ( 2 of these at duty). Soldiers Effects records held by Ancestry state that Stephen died at the 15th Casualty Clearing Station. The legatee of his will was his widow Muriel who received £13 14s 4d, and his infant daughter Grace received £27 8s 6d, presumably held in trust.


The cemetery of Don at Annoeullin is in the Nord department. It was held by the Germans from an early date in the war until shortly before the Armistice. No 15 Casualty Clearing Station came to Don on 25 October 1918 and remained there until 19 January 1919, and No 32 Casualty Clearing Station came at the end of November 1918 and left at the end of December 1918. From these two hospitals soldiers were buried in the cemetery. Later a number of bodies were brought in from the neighbouring fields.


His daughter Grace was born a few months before Stephen’s death.




GRAVE REF :-  Don Communal Cemetery, Annoeullin. I.B.6.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry Find My PastCommonwealth War Graves Commission,The Long, Long Trail, Wikepedia

                      The War Diary of the 4th Guards Machine Gun Company WO 95/1206.

Last updated: 23 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial


STUCKEY, Albert James (Bertie)



Died on the 29th March 1919 age 23.

Son of G.H. and Ellen Stuckey of 153, Belsize Road, West Hampstead, London.

Bertie James Stuckey was born on the 20th January 1896 in Bristol, Gloucestershire. He was the third youngest of seven children born to George Henry and Ellen nee Sweet. Bertie’s father was a railway carman. The family had moved to London by 1898 when Bertie’s younger sister was born and in 1901 they were living at 78, Kingsgate Road, Hampsted. This house was shared accommodation with another family of four. Bertie’s mother was also working as a laundress. This generally meant taking in washing for other families locally and earning a few extra coppers for doing so.

Bertie’s father died in 1902 aged 35, and an already struggling family were now facing further financial hardship. By the 1911 census Bertie and his younger brother Frank were in the Beechholme School. The date of his admission to Beechholme is unknown. Bertie was aged fourteen and his brother eleven. Their mother was living in two rooms in Kilburn with the older children.

Bertie joined the Royal Navy on the 17th December 1914 just before his eighteenth birthday. He signed on for a period of twelve years. He is described as being five feet two inches in height with brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. His civilian employment was given as a silver polisher.

From Bertie’s service records he worked on various ships including H.M.S.Hibernia on which he saw the longest amount of service - from the 27th August 1915 until December 1917. This was a King Edward VII class pre- dreadnought battleship. It had the distinction of being the first ship to launch an aircraft from its deck whilst underway. HMS Hibernia, along with her sister ships, were part of the 3rd Battle Squadron assigned to the Grand Fleet. Early on in the war she was assigned to protect the waters around Scotland and the North Sea from German warships.

In 1915 she supported the Dardanelles Campaign, initially the campaign only involved the Royal Navy backed by the French, Russian and Australians, to overcome the Ottoman defences. When this failed and the Gallipoli Peninsula was invaded the naval forces were once again involved and they provided cover for the evacuation from the peninsula. On returning to the United Kingdom the ship was again attached to the Grand Fleet before in May 1916 being used as an accommodation ship.

After short spells of service on H.M.S. Agamemnon and H.M.S Europa through 1917 and 1918 Bertie finally ended up on H.M.S. Pembroke a shore establishment at Chatham. It was during this time that he was diagnosed with phthsis, an archaic term for tuberculosis and he was invalided out of the service.

Bertie died in 1919 of tuberculosis.

Screen Wall. Q8.B.27
Hampstead Cemetery, London.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Find My Past,, Picture of HMS Hibernia courtesy of Wikepedia, Picture of grave courtesy of ‘Find a Grave’,
Royal Naval Service Records - National Archives -ADM/188/1039, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Images to be added . . .

Last updated: 19 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial



Private 455635


Royal Canadian Regiment


 Killed In Action 1 October 1916



Ernest Sullivan was born on 1 May 1896 according to his attestation papers, presumably in the boroughs of Kensington or Chelsea. There is no corresponding birth entry for him under this name. By 1901 he is resident in Beechholme aged four and he has no apparent siblings, his admission date recorded as the 4th of January 1900 from the workhouse. Poor Law records state that his mother was in the workhouse at the time of his admission, Ernest's father having deserted the family. The family's previous address was noted as being 32, Inverdale Road. .


Ernest sailed from Liverpool to Quebec on the Corsican with a party of children from the Liverpool Sheltering Homes, the Louisa Birt Agency. The ship left Liverpool on 20 May 1909 and landed on 28 May. The destination was Knowlton in Quebec. Ernest was aged thirteen at this time.


On the 1911 Canadian census Ernest is aged fifteen and employed as a domestic. He is living in North Renfrew, Ontario with a man named Alex Stuart and his family. Alex Stuart was a farmer. He would have been indentured to this man for an agreed number of years. This particular placement seems to have worked well for Alfred .

Ernest’s attestation paper gives an enlistment date of 27 September 1915. His occupation is given as farmer. His next of kin is listed as none. Ernest is aged nineteen and is described as being 5 feet 7 inches in height, of dark complexion with brown eyes and black hair. He had no distinguishing features or marks.


The Royal Canadian Regiment was an infantry regiment of the Canadian army. The regiment consisted of four battalions, three in the regular force and one in the primary reserve (militia). The regiment joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a unit of the 3rd Infantry Division and would serve in France and Flanders from November 1915. At the commencement of the war, the Royal Canadians had been sent to garrison the island of Bermuda thus permitting a British regiment to be sent to the front. After 13 months in Bermuda the regiment returned to Halifax and thereafter sailed for England.


                                 Ernest Sullivan Beechholme WW1




The regimental war diary states that they embarked from Folkestone Pier at 5.25 exactly on 1 November 1915 and arrived at Boulogne the same evening and marched to Ostrohove Large Rest Camp under canvas. The regiment entrained at Pont de Briques, Boulogne at 10 am and detrained at Bailleul at 3 pm.


On 11 November 1915 the regiment was in Aldershot Huts near Ploegsteert, and various staggered platoons went into the trenches for training with other battalions.

The Royal Canadian regiment served on the Ypres Salient until August 1916.They then moved south as part of the Canadian contribution to the Somme Offensive.  After the bloody disaster of 1 July the Canadians moved into the protracted battle for the Somme from September to November 1916 during which they sustained more than 24,000 casualties for a gain of some 2.5 kilometres.


An extract from the war diary follows :-


30/9/16 Albert.

“ Fine and cool. Working parties of 400 other ranks sent out for work on roads. Two parties of two went up to the line to look over forward area. 100 other ranks had a bath today.”

1/10/16 Albert

“ Fine and warm mostly, one or two showers. Time was put back one hour at 1 am (winter time) regiment had church service in cinema tent at BRICKFIELDS 11 am. At about 2pm Bosch put about a dozen High Explosives into “C” Company billets, apparently searching for 12 inch Howitzers on railway. We had 4 killed and 11 wounded”



         Ernest Sullivan_Beechholme WW1  



                                       Ernest’s grave marker.  




                                               Ernest’s Obituary.



      Ernest Sullivan Beechholme_WW1



Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

A 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, War diary available online.

Canadian Library and Archives, Canadian Virtual War Memorial, The Royal Canadian Regimental Museum

Last updated: 23 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial