Beechholme memorial plaque
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DIXON Frank 

 Private 3272


4th (Queens Own ) Hussars 


Killed in Action 2 November 1914.


Age 21


Frank Dixon was born on the 24th of January 1893 at Queen Street Chelsea. He was the son of Ernest Hudson Dixon, a bricklayer and Catherine Elizabeth nee Ashton. Both of his parents were from London. He had a younger brother who died when a few months old.

According to Poor Law records Frank was admitted to Beechholme on the 24th of July 1900, his mother being in the workhouse infirmary. His father had deserted the family. Their previous address was 35, Millman Street.

It is believed Frank's mother died soon after his admission. There is no apparent discharge for him from the school.
Frank’s father cannot be traced in 1901 but in 1903 he remarries in Hampshire and there is then no further trace of him.

Ten years later Frank is a private with the 4th Queens Own Hussars at the barracks in Butt Road Colchester. He was aged 18.

From Frank’s medal index card his date of entry was the 15th of August 1914 so he would have been one of the  first to cross the water as part of the British Expeditionary Force when war was declared.

The 4th Hussars, a cavalry corps, fought throughout Wellington’s Peninsula campaign. They participated in one of  the most glorious actions of the British Cavalry when they charged with the Light Brigade at Balaclava. For almost sixty years after the Crimea the regiment alternated between garrison duty in England, Ireland and India only interrupted by sending a detachment to Egypt in 1883. One of it’s officers at this time was Winston Churchill.

Prior to the First World War the 4th Hussars were stationed in Dublin at the Curragh. On mobilisation they became the 3rd Cavalry Brigade in the 2nd Cavalry Division. The regiment served in France for the duration of the war winning 21 battle honours and nearly 100 awards for gallantry living up to their motto “ Mente et Manu” with mind and hand.                                                   


                            Frank Dixon Beechholme WWI memorial                        



The Battle of Messines took place between the 12th of October and the 2nd of November 1914  and was part of  “The Race to the Sea”, the series of battles that decided the line of the Western Front. In the aftermath of the first battle of Marne it was decided to move the British Expeditionary Force back north to Flanders to shorten its supply lines back to the Channel Ports.

The battle of Messines was the official name for the fighting between the River Doave and the Comines-Ypres Canal, but it merged into the battle of Armentieres to the south and the first battle of Ypres in the north. In the belief that there were only weak German forces in front of the B.E.F. a general advance was placed to the north east of Lille. The cavalry corps was to guard the left flank of the advance and join up with the troops already taking up position around Ypres. On the 12th of October the cavalry corps pushed forward and ran into German troops on the high ground at Mont de Cats, but managed to capture it. The advance continued and the Germans were forced to evacuate their most forward positions in Armentieres.

The cavalry corps continued their advance over the next few days and by the 17th/18th of October they held the line from Messines to Hollebeke. They continued to hold the line until the 30th of October despite being opposed by six cavalry divisions, lacking heavy artillery and being short of ammunition.

On the 30th of October during the battle of Gheluvelt they were eventually forced out of Hollebeke and were forced back onto Messines Ridge. On the 31st of October the Germans captured part of Messines forcing the line back even further. Although by the end of the day the line had been reinforced by French troops the German advance continued for several days.

An extract from the battalion war diary:-


November 1st East of Kemmel.

“ At 6am we marched to kemmel leaving heavy fighting on our left for Whytschaete. Sent out from kemmel to cover detachments of our troops retiring, enemy having rushed Whytschaete .

At 11 am German advance stopped regiment. Remained in position- “A” Squadron joining up

At dusk ordered to outpost line but French took over at 11pm and we went into neighbouring farms for the night.”


November 2nd Berthen.

“ At 5am there was heavy artillery fire from Messines Whytschaete to Kemmel. French infantry being driven from Whytschaete by strong Germans. French cavalry corps arrived just in time to create a diversion. We dug a secondary line near Kemmel.  Lieut. Heincky joined with 48 men. Rested till 2pm then marched to assembly of 2nd cavalry division south of Locre to attack Messines.

Project abandoned and to billets near Berthen.”


In the margin of the 2nd of November under “Remarks” is the following entry :-

Killed -3272 Private Dixon.



                                     Frank Dixon Beechholme WWI memorial    


A snapshot of Frank Dixon’s name inscribed on the Menin Gate .


GRAVE REF:- Ypres Menin Gate Memorial Panel  5. 


Soldier's Effects records held by Ancestry state that Frank's fiancee, Miss Louisa Berry was the sole legatee of his will.

She received £19 6s.                          


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Birth Certificate -BXCG 178402, National Archives-WO95/1134/1

International Wargraves Photography, The Long Long Trail, The Battle of Messines by J. Rickard, The National Army Museum.

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

DOLMAN Alfred Henry

Royal Fusiliers

Private L/15141   

SURVIVED !    Do we have the right man. If not, please let us know.


Alfred Henry Dolman’s birth was registered in the December quarter of 1891 in the Pancras district. It is believed he was the son of Robert Dolman, a picture framer and Annie, maiden name unknown. He was one of at least four children, the others all being girls.


On the 1901 census the family are living at 28, Woodfall Street in Chelsea and Alfred’s age is given as eight. His mother (maiden name Verinder) was employed as a laundress on this census indicating that finances were stretched. From 1901 onwards Annie, and both Alfred and his younger sister Rose were frequently in and out of both the Fulham and Britten Street workhouses, one time Alfred being brought in by the police. Alfred was eventually admitted to Beechholme on the 12th of August 1904.


His mother died in 1908 and his father was in hospital in 1911. It is unknown when Alfred was a resident of Beechholme .


Alfred cannot be traced on the 1911 census  and there are no surviving service or pension records for him. His medal index card shows that he was entitled to the British and Victory medals only.


He married on 23 August 1919 and his occupation is given as soldier. His marriage certificate does show a slight discrepancy with his age which is given as 24 years.


He had two children who were born in 1920 and 1925 and he died in Hendon in 1948.


Alfred's last known address was 18, Kirton Walk, Hendon on the 1939 register. His occupation was given as house decorator..


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry

Last updated 19 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

DOWNMAN (sometimes Downham) Leonard James

Private G/14597

7th Royal Sussex Regiment

 Formerly 2319 Essex Regiment 


Killed in Action 8 August 1918.



Leonard James Downman’s ( the name is sometimes written as Downham) birth was registered in the September quarter of 1893 in the registration district of Kensington.


The 1901 census has him being the son of Charles Hardwicke Downman and Rowena nee Humphrey. Charles Downman was aged 72 and employed as a cab driver. His wife was twenty years younger than him. On the census the family are living at 7, Tetcott Road Chelsea. This road was coloured pink on the poverty map and  the families residing there were “fairly comfortable and of good ordinary earnings”


Charles and Rowena had four other children, all of whom had been christened. No christening record can be found for Leonard. There was a gap of more than twelve years before Leonard was born. Rowena would have been about 45 when she gave birth to him. One single daughter was still living at home aged 23 at this time.


Leonard was admitted to Beechholme on the 22nd of January 1904. His next of kin was given as his mother Rowena of 21, Arthur Street. He cannot be traced on the 1911 census and despite extensive searching the only sibling who can be traced is the sister from the 1901 census who is a domestic servant in London.


His medal index card states that he was originally in the Essex regiment and indeed he enlisted in Colchester. There is no date of entry on it and there are no existing service records for Leonard. His name appears on Southend’s war memorial, but there is no further information about him. We have to therefore assume he had some connection to Southend, living there at some stage. It is reasonable to assume that Leonard originally enlisted into the Essex regiment but was then transferred into the Royal Sussex regiment for reasons that are unknown. 

The 7th Royal Sussex regiment was one of the first service battalions of Lord Kitchener’s New Army. Leonard’s number of G/14597 indicates an enlistment date in October 1916 which would tally with him not being entitled to the 1914 or 1915 Star.

Leonard as part of the 7th Royal Sussex regiment took part in many important battles on the Western Front and they include :-


First Battle of the Scarpe, Cambrai ,the tank attack, Capture of Bourlon Wood , Cambrai the German counter attacks.


First  Battle of Baupaume, First Battle of Arras, Battle of Ancre and the Battle of Amiens which commenced on the 8th August 1918.

The Battle of Amiens proved to be the most decisive battle against the Germans on the Western Front. It was the first to incorporate an all armed co-ordinated attack, bringing together artillery, tanks, infantry and aircraft. Amiens was of immense importance to the Allies as it was a major rail hub used to receive supplies for the front line.

At 04.20 on August 8 1918 the attack began. Troops from Canada, Australia and Britain advanced under a creeping barrage from 700 artillery guns that advanced 100 metres every 3 minutes. Heavy tanks were used to attack well defended German positions while smaller tanks or “Whippets” were used to probe the German defences. Early morning fog helped to disguise  the Allies attack.



                                   Downman Leonard Beechholme WW1





 The war diary entry for 8 August 1918 follows:-


8/8/18 FRONT LINE.

“ Battalion in assembly position at 2.45 am. D Company right front, B Company right support, C Company left front, A Company left support. Zero hour was 4.20 am. Attack took place in thick mist that did not lift until 10 am. All companies were disorganised owing to the mist, and on lifting it was found that the battalion was behind its objective. Patrols pushed forward and companies moved up to near their final objective. 5th Royal Berkshire passed through and took up outpost position on battalion final objective.

9.30 pm battalion relieved 5th Royal Berkshire in front line. Relief complete by 10 pm.”



16/8/18. “ Casualties for the phase commencing 8th August 1918- Officers 14, Other Ranks 235.”



                        GRAVE REF :- VIS-EN-ARTOIS MEMORIAL PANEL 6.



                    Downman Leonard_Beechholme WW1




The memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell between the period 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois between the Somme and Loos and who have no known grave.


His  sisters Rowena and Alice were his legatees.



Information received from Peter Cope (July 2018)

I am related (distantly) to Leonard James Downman and can add a little more information.

Leonard's parents Charles Hardwick Downman (abt 1829 Higham Ferrers - 21 Apr 1902) and his wife Rowena Humphrey (1848-1903) only married in 1874.  However they had in all seven children that I have found so some born well before that date.

Charles Edward 1868-?, 

Alice 1871-? married a Sullivan (I can't find the marriage or her death),

Agnes Ann (1873-1873), 

Theophilus John (1874-1875), 

Rowena (1878-1943 married a John Robins in 1927),

William Hardwick (1882-?) and 

Leonard James (28 June 1893-08 Aug 1918)

As Rowena the mother died in 1903 the Rowena who appears in your biography in Arthur Street in 1904 must be his sister.  I also details of Leonard being a pupil at 'Exmouth Training Ship and RC Schools' from the 22nd of January 1904 to the 29 of May 1909.   

I suspect that he joined the army immediately after leaving Beecholme and hence was abroad in 1911.  I also surmise that the siblings may have gone abraod as like you I struggle and fail to find them after the parents died.  I can't even find Rowena or Alice in 1911 or Rowena in the 1939 Identity Register

Anyway I hope this helps your excellent research

Yours etc.


Peter Cope


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long, Long Trail,

War diary courtesy of National Archives- WO/95/1856, History Learning Site, Royal Sussex regiment-Battalion Histories

Last updated: 19 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

DUNTON Charles 

Private 1758


1st/22nd London Regiment (The Queens)


Killed in Action  16th December 1915


Age 21.



Charles Dunton was born on 7 March 1894 and christened on 29 April the same year at St Luke’s, Chelsea. He was the oldest of two boys born to Arthur and Ann. His mother’s maiden name is unknown. Charles’ father was employed as a painter’s labourer.


In 1895 Charles’ father died and the family began to struggle financially. Ann clearly tried to keep her family together and on the 1901 census she is going out to work as a hospital cleaner. They are living at 20, Wood Street, Chelsea which was shared accommodation with two other families. Charles was admitted to the workhouse on the 23rd of July 1901 and then admitted to Beechholme on the 25th of the same month due to his mother being in the infirmary, and then Brompton hospital. He was discharged on the 9th of October 1901 to the care of his mother.
Charles was aged seven and his younger brother Arthur aged five.


Ann died in 1902 at the age of 34 and Charles was readmitted to the school on the 19th of December 1902. Young Arthur is sent out to Canada as part of a mass group of children known as “home children”, in search of a better life. By the time of the 1901 census, Charles at the age of seventeen, is living at Kinwaston Hall Farm, Penkridge, Staffordshire. He is employed as a farm labourer.


Charles enlists at Bermondsey in the 1st/22nd London Regiment. The London Regiment was unusual; not only were all its battalions of the Territorial Force, but each battalion was regarded as a Corps in its own right.

The 22nd County of London was known as “ The Queens” and had as its’ mascot a Jack Russell terrier. On 14 August 1914 they were based at 2, Jamaica Road, Bermondsey. They moved on mobilisation to the St Alban’s area.


On the 16 March 1915 they landed at Le Havre and on 11 May 1915 the formation became the 142 nd  Brigade in the 47th Division.

From “Soldiers Died in the Great War” Charles was living in Commercial Road when he enlisted and he enlisted in Bermondsey. He has no surviving service records. His medal index card gives his date of entry as being 15 March 1915 and he was therefore entitled to the 1915 Star along with The British War and Victory Medals.


The 22nd London regiment was engaged in the Battles of Aubers Ridge, Festubert, Loos and the subsequent actions of the Hohenzollen Redoubt, all taking place in 1915.


 Here follows an extract from the war diary of the 1st/22nd London regiment :-


December 15th 1915 4am.

“Battalion marched via NOEUX LES MINES to VERMELLES to relieve the 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Billets in VERMELLES taken over in a disgustingly dirty condition.”

10pm  “Battalion relieved 21st battalion in front and support lines.”

A Company Front Line

C Company Support Lines

D Company Vermelles

B Company Sailly Labourse


Headquarters Gordon Alley.

“ The new system was thus put into practise whereby the brigade had a company of each battalion in the front line, one in support line, one in support billets and one in reserve billets.

On our right was  21st battalion, on our left the 23rd battalion. Our front extended to GORDON ALLEY.

Proposed attack by 2nd Division on our left did not come off.”


DEC 16th,

“ When it was light enough to see we discovered ourselves to be but 50 or 60 yards from the enemy nearly all along the line. This fact was emphasized by rifle grenades etc which came over with uncomfortable frequency. There was a certain amount of shelling during the day. No serious damage done. Day spent in clearing up after the 15th Division”


DEC 17th. 7.30 am

“ Stood to owing to report of attack on right found afterwards to be only a bombing attack.”

11.30-12 noon.

“ Enemy shelled communication trenches”



There are no mention of casualties until the end of the month in the war diary where the only ones mentioned occurred on the 30th and 31st of December.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s web site Charles was the only man from the 1st/22nd London’s killed or wounded on 16 December or on surrounding days.

We have to assume therefore that Charles was killed in the grenade attack that occurred on the 16th  but was somehow missed from being entered in the war diary. This would also be borne out by the fact that his name is on the memorial to the missing at Loos. 


Loos Memorial is situated in the village of Loos-En-Gonelle, five kilometres north west of Lens in the Pas de Calais region of France. It forms the sides and back of Dud Corner cemetery. The panel numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the  regiment served with. The memorial commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave and who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay.


His sole legatee was Richard Wilson.








                  Charles Dunton Beechholme WW1 





Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long,Long Trail

                      War Diary courtesy of National Archive-WO/95/2743/1, Memorial photo courtesy of CWGC. 

Last updated: 19 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial