A member of Longcliffe club
THROUGHOUT the centenary of the First World War, we have been remembering the soldiers from the Loughborough area who lost their lives while serving their country.
Here, with the help of Marigold Cleeve and a small number of researchers from the Loughborough Carillon Tower and War Memorial Museum, we look back at more of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in August 1917.
Walter Stanley Gimson.
Walter Stanley Gimson was born in Leicester on 3rd March 1885.
He was the son of William Gimson, a timber merchant, and his wife Martha (née Williams) who were married at St. Peter’s Church, North Rauceby, Lincolnshire, on 11th April 1876. Walter had four brothers William, Henry, Edward and Albert, and four sisters Emily, Annie, Mary and Margery.
In 1891 the family was living at 110 Regent Road, Leicester, but by 1901 had moved to Rothesay, Victoria Road (now University Road), Leicester.
Walter became a cabinet maker and for some years was a principal in the firm Gimson and Slater, cabinet makers of Nottingham. Walter became well-known in Nottingham and was a prominent playing member of the Notts Rugby Club as well as a keen cricketer and golfer.
In Nottingham he boarded with the Slater family at Hawthorns, Dagmar Grove, Alexandra Park. He subsequently moved to 9 Forest Road, Loughborough, and joined the Longcliffe Golf Club.
At the outbreak of war Walter enlisted with the Nottingham athletes in the Sherwood Foresters and joined the 10th (Service) Battalion as Private 17286. He was soon promoted to the rank of Corporal and then Sergeant. The precise dates of his enlistment and promotions, however, are unknown.
The 10th Battalion was formed at Derby in September 1914 and came under orders of 51st Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division of the Army.
The battalion moved to Wool, Dorset, and on to West Lulworth in October 1914, returning to Wool in December. In June 1915 the battalion moved to Winchester for final training.
On 14th July 1915 the battalion travelled to Folkestone and on 15th July landed at Boulogne.
From St. Omer the bat- talion moved to Reninghelst and went into the trenches near Hooge on 27th July. Further trench tours followed in August with a break at Ouderdom. By September the battalion was in Sanctuary Wood repairing trenches and was heavily shelled by the enemy on several occasions.
On 25th September the enemy began a particularly fierce attack on Sanctuary Wood and two counter-attacks failed. On October 6th the battalion was withdrawn to Eecke and Caestre for two weeks rest but was back in the trenches at Sanctuary Wood by 21st October.
November began with working parties for the Royal Engineers, followed by trench tours at Ypres. On the 22nd November 1915 Walter was admitted to hospital suffering from influenza. He was discharged on the 25th November and returned to duty.
On 14th December enemy shelling cut all wires on the Allied front, blew in all dugouts on the front and support line. This was followed by a phosgene gas attack and an assault by German raiding parties.
Walter wasadmitted to hospital again on 14th December, this time with a shrapnel wound in his side.
He was transferred to the Divisional Rest Station three days later.
It seems likely that Walter returned to his battalion sometime in early January 1916 while they were undergoing reorganisation and training at Houlle. The battalion left Houlle by rail for Poperinghe on 5th February and marched to Ouderdom before going into the trenches north of the Ypres-Comines canal in an area known as the Bluff. Here on the night of the 14th/15th February the Germans began an extensive shelling operation before invading the front and support lines of the Allies.
Counter-attacks were again unsuccessful and the 10th Sherwood Foresters suffered heavy casualties. A further counterattack on 2nd March, however, achieved better results. From 7th-18th March the battalion was in training at La Crèche.
On 15th March 1916 Walter received a commission as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the King’s Own (Yorkshire Light Infantry).
On 23rd May 1916 he was transferred to the General List for duty with Trench Mortar Batteries and on 30th July 1916 he was promoted to Acting Captain while commanding the 61st Trench Mortar Battery, part of the 61st Brigade of the 20th (Light) Division. Walter joined the 61st Trench Mortar Battery in the line in the Ypres area.
Front-line trench mortars, known in the British Army as ‘flying pigs’ played an important role in any attack as they were always certain to draw enemy fire.
In the New Year’s Honours List on the 1st January 1917 Walter was awarded the Military Cross ‘for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy’.
Between April and June 1917 while on leave from the front Walter married Isabel Beatrice Soher (née Moss) at Fulham Register Office, London. Isabel was the daughter of Edwin Moss of Loughborough and in 1914 was divorced from her first husband Le Roy Soher, an American car mechanic with Straker and Squire.
Walter and Isabel had only been married for a few months when Walter, aged 32, was killed in action on 16th August 1917, the first day of the Battle of Langemarck.
Communicating the news of his death to his wife a fellow officer said: ‘Gimson was one of the most popular officers in the Division and when killed in the advance towards Langemarck was acting like a hero’.
Walter is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, near Ypres, Grave IV. B. 48. His name was also added to his parents’ headstone in Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester.
A group of members of the Longcliffe Golf Club visited his grave near Ypres and placed a wreath on behalf of the members of the golf club.
Walter’s widow died in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1927.
Charles Sydney Bennett.
Charles Sydney (or Sidney) Bennett, known as ‘Charley’ to his family, was born in Stafford on 1st March 1892 and baptised at Christ Church, Stafford, on 1st April 1892.
He was the eldest child of Charles Bennett and his wife Mary Ellen (née Emery) who were married at St. Leonard’s Church, Marston, Staffordshire, on Boxing Day 1891.
Charley had one brother Arthur and two sisters Fanny and Elsie.
Charley’s father was a pipe track labourer and the family moved around from the Common, Stafford in 1892, to Redhill, Arnold, Nottinghamshire in 1901 and to Iveshead Road, Shepshed, in 1911. In 1911 Charley, aged 19, was a pipe track labourer like his father.
In the summer of 1912 Charley married Gertrude Martin in Stockport and their son Sidney was born in Loughborough not long afterwards. Charley and Gertrude had a second son Charles, also born in Loughborough, in 1915.
Charley enlisted at Loughborough in the summer or autumn of 1915 and joined the 1/5th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment as Private 4656.
He was later renumbered as Private 241708. As his service papers have not survived his precise date of enlistment is unknown. He was not sent to France until at least 1916. The 1/5th Leicesters in France received drafts of reinforcements in March, April, July and November 1916 and also in February 1917.
Charley could have been in any of these drafts but the most likely one is that of 5th July 1916. On that date the battalion’s war diary specifically mentions that a draft of 61 men from the 3rd and 5th Battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment reported for duty at Bienvillers.
From 9th March 1916 the 1/5th Leicesters were in the area of Vimy Ridge, Pas de Calais, either in the front line, in support, in reserve or at rest. On 27th April the battalion was sent to the neighbourhood of Neuville St. Vaast to work with the French and English tunnellers and then to billets in Luchaux for bayonet training. This was followed by a period at Souastre digging cable trenches, and constructing bomb stores and gun pits in preparation for a ‘big push’.
On 4th June 1916 the battalion was moved up to trenches near Gommecourt. This was followed by further training at Warlincourt. During this time Samuel was allowed some home leave.
On 30th June the battalion assembled in a trench near Foncquevillers Church ready for the diversionary attack at Gommecourt on the first day of the Somme Offensive planned for 1st July.
On 1st July 1916 the 46th Division of the Army, of which the 1/5th Leicesters were part, had 2445 casualties at Gommecourt.
On 7th July they relieved the 4th Lincolnshires in the trenches opposite Essarts-lès-Bucquoy. The battalion remained in the area of Monchy-au-Bois until 29th October, either in the trenches or resting at Bienvillers or Pommier. The battalion’s next move was to Millencourt for intensive battle training, returning to Halloy and then Souastre at the beginning of December.
The battalion remained at Souastre until 11th March 1917 and then moved once more up to the line taking over 2,600 yards of frontage from the La Brayelle road to the Hannescamps- Monchy road.
On 17th March they moved into Gommecourt for road mending before moving to Bertrancourt, Raincheval and then Rainvillers not far from Amiens.
On 28th March the battalion marched to Saleux, entrained for Lillers in the north, and marched to Laires. Training took place until 13th April and continued for three further days at Manqueville, after which the battalion moved to the western outskirts of Lens. From there they marched to Bully-Grenay and went into the front line trenches where they were heavily shelled.
On 29th April the battalion went into rest billets in cellars at Cité St. Pierre until 3rd May when they went into support trenches. On 8th they went into billets at Fosse 10 near Petit Sains for training and on 12th into reserve at Angres. Further trench tours south-west of Lens followed until 26th May when the battalion went into billets at Marqueffles Farm for training in bayonet fighting and bombardment and to practise methods of attack. On 6th June the battalion was back in the line and on 8th June went into the attack, suffering 96 casualties. Apart from two breaks at Red Mill from 9th-13th and 18th-20th June the battalion was in the trenches until 22nd June. On 21st June C Coy was accidentally gassed by the Royal Engineers, resulting in 94 casualties of whom 22 died. Back at Marqueffles Farm from 22nd the battalion had Lewis gun and signalling classes as well as attack training over a flagged course.
On 27th June the battalion moved up to the line ready to attack on the following day. As they climbed out of the trenches on 28th June they met with the inevitable machine gun fire and over the next two days 60 Ordinary Ranks were killed.
Relieved from the trenches at Lievin on 3rd July the battalion moved to Monchy-Breton for reorganisation and train-
ing until 22nd July when they moved to Vaudricourt before going into the line at Hulluch until 28th July.
After respite at Noeuxles-Mines the battalion was at Fouquières until 14th August, practising for an attack. Moving to Noyelles the battalion went into the trenches on 15th August.
Charley, aged 25, was presumed to have been killed in action in a raid on the German trenches at Hulluch on the night of the 16th/17th August 1917.
He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Panels 42-44. He is also remembered on the war memorial in Shepshed, on the war memorial in the former St. Peter’s Church building, Loughborough, and on the Carillon.
William Dolphin was born in 1891 in Loughborough, the son of James Dolphin and his wife Bridget (née Dyer) who were married in Nottingham in 1888.
William was born shortly before his father, after 12 years’ service in England, Gibraltar, Egypt and India with the 2nd Battalion of the Derbyshire Regiment, was discharged from the Army.
In 1901 William’s father gave one more year’s service to the Army, in the Ordnance Corps of the Third Royal Northern Reserve Regiment. When James Dolphin was not in the Army he was a slater’s labourer.
William had three brothers John, James and Edwin and one sister Annie. In 1891 the Dolphin family lived at 12 Dead Lane, Loughborough, but by 1901 had moved to 46 Pomphret Street, off Warner Street, Nottingham. After William’s mother died, aged 40, in 1905 the family split up.
On 3rd January 1907 William, aged 17 and a general labourer for Messrs. Goldsmith and Co., cardboard makers of Nottingham, attested to serve for six years with the militia and joined the 4th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) as Private 1750.
In 1911 William was in Crownhill Barracks, Plymouth, Devon, with the 2nd Sherwood Foresters while his brothers John, a collier, and James, a news vendor, were in lodgings at 59 Red Lion Street, Nottingham.
Edwin had moved to Liverpool and become an Ordinary Seaman. Annie, meanwhile, had been sent to the Convent and Home of the Good Shepherd, a reformatory for girls in East Finchley, Middlesex, and had become a laundry worker there.
William’s father initially remained in lodgings in Nottingham but returned to Loughborough and died in Loughborough in 1945.
It seems likely that William was recalled at the outbreak of war in 1914 but exact details of his war service are unavailable as his papers have not survived.
It is known, however, that as Private 10400 he served with the 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters. This was formed at Derby in August 1914 and came under the orders of the 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division.
The battalion moved initially to Belton Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire, and then to Frensham, Surrey, on 4th April 1915.
They sailed from Liverpool at the end of June 1915 via Mudros and landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay on 6th and 7th August. The 9th Sherwoods were in action near Hetman Char (also known as Hetman’s field) south-east of Chocolate and Green Hills on the 9th and the 21st August. Both these actions were unsuccessful and the casualty figures very high.
On 19th and 20th December 1915 the 11th Division was withdrawn from Gallipoli, moving to Imbros then Egypt at the end of January 1916.
The Division concentrated at Sidi Bishr and took over a section of the Suez Canal defences on 19th February.
On 17th June 1916 the Division was ordered to France to reinforce the Third Army on the Somme.
The 9th Battalion left Alexandria on the H.T Oriana on 1st July and arrived in Marseilles two days later. From Marseille the battalion travelled by train to St. Pol.
After training at Berneville the battalion was in the front line on the Somme near Arras on 27th July. From 19th August to 5th September there was further training at Gouy-enArtois, Estrée-Wamin and Acheux before the battalion returned to the trenches south of Thiepval.
The battalion took part in the capture of WundtWerk (Wonder Work) on 14th September and after a short break at MailleyMaillet was in action at the battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th-22nd September) and the Battle of Thiepval Ridge ( 26th -28th September).
By 5th October the battalion had moved to Mesnil-Domqueur where they remained in training until 11th November.
After moving via Coulonvillers, Montrelet , Martinsart and Vadencourt the battalion went into the trenches at Hedauville on 21st November. From 30th November until 16th December the battalion was at Engelbelmer providing working parties on the roads and in Aveluy Wood.
On 17th December the battalion moved to the front at St. Pierre Divion, remaining there until 5pm. on Christmas Day when they returned to Engelbelmer.
In January 1917 there were further trench tours at St. Pierre Divion with breaks at Engelbelmer before a move to Coulonvillers for training at the end of the month until 15th February.
The rest of February and most of March was taken up with working parties on the railways at Famechon.
On March 24th the battalion moved to Orville and then to Vauchellesles-Authie for training until 19th April when the battalion moved firstly to Bapaume and then at the beginning of May to Morchies for trench duties.
After a move to Hermies from 7th to 15th May, followed by a rest at Montauban and Fricourt the battalion entrained at Albert for Caestre and marched to Godewaersvelde. On 24th May came another move to Westoutre for working parties and training.
From 7th-11th June the battalion took part in an attack at Wytschaete (part of the battle of Messines) and then moved to Kemmel for salvage work.
On 24th June the battalion moved to Renescure for training until 16th July when they went into the front line and support trenches north of Ypres. Here on 21st July the enemy bombarded them with high explosive and gas shells.
On 29th July, while the battalion was in process of leaving the trenches for camp, they were again hampered by heavy enemy gas shelling.
On 16th August the battalion returned to Canal Bank, Ypres, and to the old British front line.
On 17th August the enemy heavily shelled the battalion as it moved forward. Enemy shelling continued over the next three days.
The point during the Battle of Langemarck when William was wounded is unknown but he died of his wounds on 20th August 1917, aged 28.
He is buried in Brandhoek New British Cemetery Grave no. 3. I. D.
William’s brother John who also served with the Sherwood Foresters was killed in action on 1st July 1917.
His brother Edwin served with the Royal Naval Reserve and survived the war.
His brother James served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment but was discharged because of a leg deformity. William’s sister Annie died in 1915, aged 20.
Men of the 5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment gather in Loughborough’s Queen’s Park ready to go to war.