Beechholme memorial plaque
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Private 9563


1st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry


Killed In Action 25th of April 1915


Aged 30


Son of Mrs L Ferguson of 83, Kensal Rd, Westborne Park



Charles Ferguson was born in 1885/1886  in Chelsea. He was the third child of eight born to Samuel Ferguson and Louisa nee Marshall. Charles’ father was employed as a carpenter. He was some twenty years older than his wife as this was his second marriage.  There were at least six children from the first marriage, although not all had survived.


On the 1891 census the family are living at 151, Shop, Kensal Road, Chelsea. There are seven children under the age of eleven. Charles is aged six and a scholar.


Charles’ father dies between 1891 and 1901 and probably in the latter half of the 1890’s as two further children are born between 1893 and 1897.

On the 1901 census Louisa is recorded as being a widow and Charles, now aged 15 is employed as a thread maker, the same occupation as his brother Fred who was one year younger. Two  younger sisters are resident in Beechholme. Louisa must have struggled to keep her family together as much as possible, relying on the income of her four young sons. Charles had been admitted to Beechholme on the 9th of August 1895 but was discharged to the care of his mother on the 12th of April 1898.


It should be noted that on both censuses the surname is spelt Fergusson.


Charles enlisted into the army on the 28th of November 1907 at Mill Hill London. He initially attested into the 6th Middlesex regiment.  There are service records for Charles prior to 1914 but sadly nothing after this time. His age given on his attestation form is 21 years and 8 months and he was employed as a portmanteau maker. He stood only 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 104 lbs, under 8 stone. His complexion was pale and he had brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had a scar on the left side of his head and one on his abdomen.


On the 21st of January 1908 he was transferred to the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

His next of kin is recorded as being his mother Louisa of 83, Kensal Road.


The 1st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were stationed in Singapore in 1914 but they returned to England and landed at Southampton on the 9th of November.

On the 17th of December they came under the command of the 83rd Brigade in the 28th Division. They landed at Le Havre on the 16th of January 1915 as  much needed reinforcements to concentrate in the area between Baileul and Hazebruck on the Ypres Salient.


The Second Battle of Ypres encompassed four battles in the northern sector of the Ypres Salient. These were  the Battles of Gravenstafel, St. Julien, Frezenberg Ridge and Bellewaade. The build up and preparation  for the battles began in early 1915.


The first attack began on the 22nd of April 1915 when a surprise onslaught was launched by the German 4th Army on the French sector of the Allied Front Line.

The Commander of the German 4th Army in Flanders wanted to remove the bulge in the German Front Line formed by the Ypres Salient. This salient, or bulge in the line was known to the German Army as the "Ypres Sack".


This attack witnessed the use of a new weapon of war by the Germans, poisonous gas. Its deadly effect was carried by the wind towards French troops and as a result of its devastating effect on the French, the German infantry made a significant advance into Allied territory within a few hours.

During the following four weeks after the surprise gas cloud attack, the Allied Forces of Belgium, France, and Britain fought to hold off the successful German advance and to regain the ground that had been lost north of Ypres.





A hand drawn map of the Ypres Salient from the Brigade Diary of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.


Unfortunately there are no surviving service records for Charles but an extract from the 83rd Brigades’ War Diary highlights the events leading up to Charles’ death.


24th April 1915. Frezenberg. 5.30 pm.

Heard verbally from 84th Brigade that enemy advancing south on Zevenkote and that 84th Brigade intended to send all their reserve companies and support companies to intercept and drive them back.


6pm. Issued orders for 3 Companies from supports I.e. one each of 2nd Kings Own and 3 Monmouths to move under Captain Mallinson, 1st Kings Own to support above named Companies of 84th Brigade.


6.10 pm.  Received orders from 28th Division that 84th & 85th Brigades were to entrench new line along the Fortuin Road, therefore ordered these Companies to take all available tools and the Company of the 3rd Monmouths to borrow tools from the 84th Brigade.


11pm.  Captain Mallinson brought 2 Companies back at 11 pm having found the situation sufficiently restored, but left one Company (3rd Monmouths) with all available tools to help dig the new line above mentioned. This Company returned at 3.30 am on the 25th.


25th 9am. Considerable shelling against our batteries near Brigade Headquaeters between 9 am and 11 am. Continued afternoon.

Casualties 5 killed, 16 wounded.




GRAVE REF :- Ypres  Menin Gate Memorial, Panel 47.


The legatees were his mother, brother James and sister Jane.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Find My Past, Ancestry,Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Great War Battles, The Long, Long Trail,War  Diary of the 28th Division. General Staff Militia & Defence . R.G.9 Series 111-D-3, Volume 5071.  Map from the Brigade Diary of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Sketches &  Locations R.G.9 Series 111-D-3, Volume 5075 .

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

FRY, Frederick George

Sergeant 11300


6th Dorset


Killed In Action 12 October 1917.


Aged 29.



Frederick George Fry was born on 7 May 1888 and baptized on 20 June 1890 at the same time as his older sister Catherine at St Peter’s Church, Kensington. He was the youngest of three children born to Alfred and Charlotte and at the time of his baptism the family were living at 29, Arthur Street. Frederick’s father is described as a decorator. Frederick’s mother’s maiden name is unknown as no marriage entry for the couple could be found.

The census of 1891 reveals the family living at 6a, Little College Street, Chelsea and the father is now missing from the census, although Frederick’s mother is described as a “wife” as opposed to a “widow”. She has no occupation listed. Frederick is aged three and both his sister Catherine and older brother Walter are described as scholars.


Ten years later both Frederick and his sister are resident at Beechholme and are described as pauper scholars, having been admitted on the 11th of November 1892. The Poor Law records make no mention of his father and his mother is given as next of kin on admission. There is no apparent record of a discharge for him from the school.  Neither Frederick’s mother nor his older brother can be traced on this census. Frederick cannot be positively identified on the 1911 census.


Frederick enlisted in London and was living in Brixton at the time.

On 26 March 1916 he married Catherine Frances Barber at Emmanauel Church, Camberwell and his occupation is given as soldier. The marriage presumably taking place whilst Frederick was home on leave. Tellingly the bridegroom’s father’s name on the entry of marriage is left blank so perhaps he had abandoned his young family. There appears to be no children from this union.


The 6th Dorset’s  were a service battalion and they transferred to the 50th Brigade 17th Division, and as such landed at Boulogne on 14 July 1915. Frederick’s date of entry was 20 August the same year. No service records survive for this man, many being burnt and destroyed during the Blitz on London during the Second World War.


The 6th Dorset regiment were involved in early battles of the war including the Battle of Albert and Delville Wood of 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. According to Frederick’s medal index card he was promoted through the ranks from private to corporal then lance sergeant to finally sergeant. He has an entry in De Ruvigny’s roll of honour, a collection of biographies of over 26,000 casualties of the Great War compiled by the 9th Marquis of Ruvigny. This entry confirms that he was educated at Banstead School and lists his rank and regiment and date of death. It also gives the date of his marriage.


The Battle of Passchendaele, sometimes called the Battle of 3rd Ypres was a campaign on the Western Front between June and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Roeselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the Germans.


On 7 June 1917 the British attacked and captured the Messines Ridge, a dominant feature that extended northwards to the German-held Passchendaele Ridge. The high ground at the southern end of the Salient had been occupied by the Germans since the British shortened their lines at the end of Second Ypres.  The Messines-Wijtschaete area was of particular value to the Germans because from there they could enfilade much of the British trench system. The task of dislodging them was given to General Plumer’s 2nd Army. Plumer had been preparing for the assault for over a year by tunnelling under the German lines and placing nineteen huge mines in a ten mile arc from near Hill 60 to Ploegsteert Wood.


At 03: 10 on 17 June the mines exploded following more than two weeks bombardment by over 2,000 guns. By the end of the first day all objectives were taken. So far so good.  However, now a near eight week delay ensued while preparations were made for the next attack, possibly for the re-assembling and repositioning of artillery, but the delay was fateful. It saw out the good weather and gave the Germans time to put the finishing touches to their new scheme of defence and defence in depth. Gone now were all the old linear lines. Now trenches ran backwards and forwards in great depth. The ground was covered by mutually supporting machine guns and forward positions were lightly held with reserves well back and concentrated ready for counter attack. On top of all of that the Germans had mustard gas.


The preliminary bombardment began on 22 July 1917. Over 3,000 guns hurled almost five tons of shells at every yard of the front. Ten days later at 03.50 hours on 31 July twelve divisions advanced on an eleven mile front in pouring rain. North of Ypres advance of two miles were made, the Pilckem Ridge was recaptured but further south and around the Menin Road the attack quickly stuck. The preliminary bombardment had completely destroyed the water table and the rain could not drain away. Shell holes filled to overflowing with water, and the earth turned into a thick glutinous mud, stinking and foul with the decay of dead horses and thousands of corpses. The mud reached out and sucked under any unwary soldier who left the duckboard path. Gough advised Haig that the attack should be stopped, but the Commander in Chief pressed on, through battle after battle and casualty after casualty.


The official history records the following battles :-

Messines 7-14 June, Pilckem 31 July -2 August, Langemark 16-18August, Menin Road 20-25 September, Polygon Wood 26 September - 3 October, Broodseinde 4 October, Poelcapelle 9 October, First Passchendaele 12 October, Second Passchendaele 26 October - 10 November.


In the first week of November, sixteen weeks after the second phase began, the 1st and 2ndCanadian Divisions occupied the shapeless ruins of Passchendale village. The mud and blood bath was over. It is said that the Lieutenant General Sir Launcelot Kiggell, Haig’s Chief of Staff visited the battlefield for the first time just after the fighting was over ( a terrible indictment in itself) and when he saw the foul swamp in which it had been fought burst into tears saying “ Good God! Did we really send men to fight in this ?”


In the Official History Brigadier General J.E Edmons put British casualties at 244,897.


An extract from the 6th Dorset War Diary for 12 October 1917:-



“ Large enemy shell made a direct hit on Battalion Headquarters penetrating East wall and wounding one Officer and killing three Other Ranks and wounding 11., besides several men of other units who were at Headquarters at that time.

The battalion remained in its support position and was not called upon”





Cement House Cemetery is located in Langemarck. Cement House was the military name given to a fortified farm building on the Langemarck- Boesinghe Road.

The original cemetery (now Plot 1) was begun at the end of August 1917. In the years following the Armistice most of Plots II-XV were added when Commonwealth graves were brought in from the battlefields and small burial grounds around Langemarck and Poelcapelle mostly dating from the Autumn of 1917.




                                       Frederick George Fry Beechholme WW1   



Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES ;- Ancestry, Find My Past,  Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Wikepedia, The Long Long Trail, Major and Mrs Holt’s Pocket Battlefield Guide to Ypres. War Diary courtesy of National Archives-WO/95/2000/6 .  Gravestone photo courtesy of Find A Grave.

Last updated: 21 Feb 2017  

Beechholme WWI memorial