Beechholme memorial plaque
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LING, John Walter

Private 8424


2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers


Killed in Action 10th November 1917. 


John Walter Ling was actually christened Walter John Ling on the 6th of April 1892 at St Augustine Kilburn. He probably was always known as John to avoid confusion with his father who had the same Christian names. He was the middle child of three born to Walter and Charlotte nee Phillips. At the time of his baptism the family were living at 37, Kilburn Park Road. John’s father was employed as a plumber. John had one older sister and also a younger sister.

By the time of the 1901 census all three children are resident in Beechholme, John having been admitted on the 6th of April 1900. Poor Law records show that at the time of John's admission to the school his father had deserted the family.  His mother would die in 1901 aged thirty-six. John's next of kin was given as an aunt Florence Akehurst of 25, Southam Street.

John spent four years eleven months in the school and was adopted. He was discharged to service on the 24th of August 1906 to the army.
A report made on him in 1909 states "Satisfactory progress made. Character good. 4th Munster Fusiliers, Kinsale."

In 1911 John is living in Forthill, Kinsale Rural, County Cork in Ireland. He is aged 19. Also living at the same address is Samuel Jarnell who was also resident in Beechholme in 1901 at the same time as John.

The 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers were a regular service battalion and were based at Aldershot in 1914 as part of the 1st (Guards) Brigade in the 1st Division. They were amongst the first troops to proceed to France and they landed at Le Havre on the 14th of August 1914 . After suffering heavy casualties at Etreux in September 1914 they left the division, and after reinforcements arrived they transferred to the 3rd Brigade in the 1st Division. They were in action at the Battle of Aubers and the Battle of Loos. In 1916 they saw action at the Battle of the Somme.

Towards the end of June 1917 the Royal Munsters moved up to the Belgian coast  near the town of Nieuport. About twenty miles below them at Messines, the opening shots had already been fired in what is officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, a battle that was to culminate in the blood and mud struggle for Passchendaele Ridge. By the 6th of November 1917 the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers now numbered 20 officers and 630 other ranks when it arrived at Irish Farm in the Ypres Salient. The ground was a quagmire, full of water-logged shell holes after 4 months of battle. It was to be the last British effort of the Passchendaele Campaign.

The 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers were to be one of the two battalions leading the 1st Division’s attack at 6am on the 10th of November 1917. Weighed down with equipment they waded waist deep through mud and water, initially taking all ojectives within 45 minutes. Seeing the progress of the Canadians on the right they pressed on. 

An article from “ The Old Limerick Journal “ French Edition. The Second Munsters in France 1914-1918.

“ On the 8th of November the Munsters passed through Ypres on their way to the front line.

On the 10th of November a new effort was made to extend the front line. The battalion had instructions to capture  three or four wrecked farm buildings and some pill boxes which the Germans were holding. Each man was carrying an extra bandolier, 150 rounds of ammunition, steel helmet, 2 Mills Bombs, 3 days rations, waterproof sheet, extra water to drink, and a gas and smoke helmet.


As the Munsters moved forward, keeping a distance of fifty yards behind their artillery barrage, they were attacked by three German aircraft which bombed and machine gunned them as they advanced.

By 6.45 am all the objectives and a number of German prisoners had been taken.


At 7 am runners were sent back to battalion headquaters to ask for new instructions on what they were to do next. At this stage they were only 800 yards from the summit of Passchendaele Ridge and the company commanders were eager to reach it.


With no sign of new orders forthcoming they decided to continue the advance, but the going was tough and at 7.30 am owing to the treacherous terrain and muddy conditions, the advance came to a standstill. Most of the rifles were clogged with mud, and the men tried to clean them by pouring water down the barrels.


At 7.50 am the German infantry could be seen preparing for a counter attack. At once the Munsters released 4 carrier pigeons with a message asking for artillery support.


The artillery opened fire soon afterwards, pounding the ground held by the battalion but missing the advancing Germans. As the German infantry advanced on a place known as Void Farm they found the Munsters ready and waiting for them. The fusiliers opened up with their rifles and machine guns and threw the last of the Mills Bombs, but still the Germans tried to advance. Suddenly a new wave of bombs landed in front of the Germans. Although they did not explode, they were enough to drive the Germans back for a while. The feared bombs were nothing more than clods of mud, pressed to resemble bombs in size and shape.


At 8.30 am the Germans renewed the attack on Void Farm. As the struggle raged, the Germans found a weak spot on the right of the battalion. Slowly the fusiliers began to fall back to their own lines to avoid being surrounded, although one group still held one of the pill boxes. When the Munsters reached the vicinity of their own line the German artillery concentrated on them with deadly results.Casualties by this time were enormous, and many of those who fell badly wounded were drowned where they lay.


At 9.30 am a party of 30 Munsters with the support of their comrades in the captured German pill box regained the nearest farm. That afternoon another battalion was brought in to reinforce the line. Meanwhile, halfway up Passchendaele Ridge, scattered groups of fusiliers still continued to hold out.

By nightfall and with no hope of being rescued, most of them had been captured by the Germans.

At 10pm that night after a 27 hour struggle the remnants of the battalion were ordered to fall back .

Out of the 650 men who had taken part in the operation only 247 now remained .”


Legatee was Mary K Ling, widow, although no record of this marriage has been found so they may have got married in Ireland )
They also had a daughter Mary C Ling.


GRAVE REF :- Tyne Cot Memorial , Panel 143-144.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

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

“The Old Limerick Journal “ available online, 1911 Census of Ireland - available online.

Last updated 16 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial




To date we have been unable to identify this man.

If you have any information, please do contact us.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton


Beechholme WWI memorial

LEEKING, Edward Charles (NB. Roll of Honour shows LEEKING Jno.)



DIED 1915.

Edward Leeking was born on the 2nd of March 1890 in Kensington according to his army records. There is no birth entry or christening record for him or his siblings in London.


None of the family can be found on the 1891 census although there is a family called Leeking living in Northamptonshire who had children of the same names but the ages are a little different. Some of these children were illegitimate.


Poor Law records show that Edward was admitted to Beechholme on the 8th of December 1893. His next of kin was given as his mother Catherine who was in the West London hospital at this time. These records also state that he was illegitimate as were his brother William and sister Mary Ann. There is no record of a J. Leeking being admitted to Beechholme. The family in Northamptonshire had a son called John who was born in Northampton and enlisted with the Duke Of  Cornwall Light Infantry.


All three children were in Beechholme on the 1901 census although William’s name is written twice so we have to assume that one of these should read “Edward”. All three of them were baptized at Ewell St Mary before leaving the school.


Edward was sent out from the school on the 2nd of February 1905 to the army. A report made on him in 1906 states  2nd Royal Irish Rifles, Dublin. “Painstaking in his duties in the band. Fair performer on the horn, useful side drummer.

A further report in 1909 states 2nd Royal Irish Rifles at Aldershot. “ Character good. Is reported  to have made indifferent progress and not likely to become an efficient musician.


On the 1911 census Edward is found at Citadel Barracks, Western Heights, Dover Castle in Kent. He is listed as being a musician with the 2nd Irish Rifles being born in London and aged twenty one.


There are surviving pension records for Edward with the Royal Irish Rifles.These state that he was educated at the Kensington and Chelsea school at Banstead. He was aged fourteen years and eleven months on enlistment and was five feet five inches in height and had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. His trade was given as musician. He had a star shaped scar on his right forearm and a linear scar in his left groin.. His next of kin was given as his brother William who was serving with the 8th Hussars, and his sister Mary Ann of Southcliffe Hall, Bournemouth.


A letter included with his pension records shows that he attended a court of enquiry on the 20th of October 1909 at Dover following an accident where his foot was injured. He had been instructed to assist in moving a heavy box containing sheet music from the  Bandroom to the Drill Hall. In stopping for a rest he had stood awkwardly on a stone and twisted his foot which caused the box to be dropped on his toe. The enquiry found that he was not to blame for the injuries sustained as he had been carrying out orders at the time.


Edward was discharged as being medically unfit for further service on the 9th of September 1912. He was in receipt of a good conduct badge.

He re-enlisted at Bournemouth in 1914 on the 29th of June into the Hampshire regiment. His sister, now married was living at Winton at this time.

Edward was stated as being an out of work carman. The records give his previous service of seven years with the Royal Irish Rifles.

His age was given as 24 years and 3 months.  His physical development was given as fair .

These records also state that he was born in Kensington.

His next of kin was given as his sister Mary Ann and his brother William.


Edward was discharged medically unfit on the 9th of December 1914. No reason is given.

Sadly he died at the Workhouse Union Infirmary at Christchurch on the 11th of May 1915. He had been living at 8, Cranmer Road Bournemouth and employed as a labourer. The death certificate gives the cause of death as phthsis of lung and larynx, otherwise known as tuberculosis. The informant was the workhouse master. Edward was aged twenty five.


His brother William was discharged medically unfit from the 8th Hussars having suffered a gunshot wound to the elbow. He also re-enlisted with the 17th London regiment. He died in 1934
Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Death certificate  DYD -731448.

Last updated:27 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

Littlejohn, Leslie QMS

Sergeant 10673

2nd Scots Guards

Died of Wounds 11th April 1917

Aged 24.

Brother of Mr C. Littlejohn of Wickham Cottage, Harefield, Middlesex.

Leslie Littlejohn was one of eleven children born to Matthew and Ellen Jane nee Brooks.

His army service records show he was born on the 12th March 1892 in Kensington.

The 1901 census taken on the 31st March reveals the family residing at 38, Ives Street, Chelsea. Leslie is aged 9. His father is employed as a blind maker. There are six children living at home.

Poor Law records show that Leslie was admitted to Beechholme on the 25th of October 1901, his father having abandoned the family and his mother being in the workhouse at this time. Leslie was resident in the school for four years and ten months.

After his discharge from the school a report stated  " Office boy situation with Mssrs. Burke, Boulton & Co. of 64, Canon Street. Character very good. Seems to be doing well. Wages £10 per year."

Leslie's younger sisters Dorothea and Gladys were resident in Beechholme when the 1911 census was taken, his youngest brother had died in infancy. No further trace can be found of Leslie’s mother and indeed Leslie himself cannot be found in 1911. His mother though is given as residing in Notting Hill in his service records. Although she wasn’t officially listed as his next of kin his personal effects were sent to her. These comprised of disc, letters, photos, purse, whistle, badge, watch, pipe lighter, charm, ring, pen, notebook and religious stamps.

From his service records Leslie was employed as a clerk in the Quatermaster Stores and had enlisted on the 10th June 1910 when he was eighteen. His service records show him to have been very good at his job. ‘ A hardworking, intelligent and reliable man, well educated and a good clerk .’ ‘An exceptionally good Non Commissioned Officer, he should do very well’

Surprisingly his exact time and place of death are given within these documents. Leslie died at 1.30 am on the 11th April 1917 at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station from a gun shot wound to the chest. The cemetery where he is buried at Duisans was selected for the dead from this Casualty Clearing Station and most of the burials here were from the Battle of Arras in 1917.

From Leslie’s medal Index Card his date of entry was the 11th August 1914. The 2nd Royal Scots landed at Boulogne on this day as part of the 8th Brigade, 3rd Division and were one of the first units of the British Expeditionary Force to do so. Leslie’s first part in the war was short lived as he was sent back to England suffering from myalgia or rheumatism and was hospitalised in Boscombe near Bournemouth from the 10th October 1914 until the 27th of the same month. After this he remained in England and was promoted through the ranks to Acting Colour Quarter Master Sergeant. Because of his muscular problem it appears that he spent the next couple of years on British soil. It looks likely that he was training reinforcements for the field. However, he returned to France again on the 24th February 1917 in the rank of Sergeant.

The 2nd Royal Scots had moved to Agincourt on the 18th March 1917 and went through exercises such as rifle practice, wire cutting and bombing instruction. After a period of rest they marched on the 30th March to Arras where they initially took up trench positions and then on the 7th April they moved into the Nelson Caves located under the town of Arras.

The plan of attack for the 9th April 1917 (Easter Monday) was colour coded and was to start at 5.30 am after a 5 day artillery bombardment. By 6am the Black Line was to be captured and a halt of one and a half hours for the next wave of troops to come up. When they arrived the Blue Line was to be captured and so on.

The 2nd Royal Scots were located to the south east of Arras and were instructed to take the Brown Line near Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines following the Arras to Cambrai Road. They moved off at 12 noon under a creeping barrage from a point about 1500 yards west of Tilloy.

General Haig’s report two hours into the battle suggested that all was not well with the attack. Greater opposition than was expected was encountered, and at the hour at which the objectives were timed to be captured strong parties of the enemy were holding out on the high ground north of Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines. The weather which had previously been fine changed and on that day heavy rain fell. Thereafter it continued stormy with heavy falls of snow with squalls of wind and rain. These conditions imposed great hardship on the troops and greatly hampered operations.The heavy snow in particular interfered with reliefs, and rendered all movements of troops and guns slow and difficult.

An extract from the war diary says ’Battalion moved out of Nelson Cave to assemble position for the attack. The 8th Brigade with this battalion on the right and the 7th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry on the left in the front line, was allotted the task of passing through the 9th brigade and capturing the Feuchy Line which was called the Brown Line, an advance of about 3000 yards.

The advance started most successfully and quite a number of prisoners were taken in the various trenches which were passed over, but when they had come up within about 600 yards of the Brown Line, the attacking troops were caught by heavy Machine Gun fire from Feuchy Chapel - a strong point to the north - and a further advancement became impossible. This was due to the fact that the Brigade on our left had failed to take this point. Two Battalions of the 76th Brigade were also sent up but failed.

The 2nd Royal Scots battalion diary from the 9th to the 13th April records the following casualties :- 2 officers killed with 6 wounded, 35 Other Ranks killed with 174 wounded, 43 were missing.



Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Find My Past, Ancestry, Service Records c/o Ancestry, Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
The Long, Long, Trail, History of 2nd Royal Scots from the Great War Forum, The Long, Long Trail.

Last updated: 8 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial

LUSSENDEN, Frank Henry

Royal Garrison Artillery ( Memorial records shows Duke of Wellington's)


Musician 37984  (Memorial records show Corporal)





Henry Frank Lussenden was born in 1899 in Kensington. He was born to Helen Leonora (Ella) Lussenden and probably Henry Latchford. There is no marriage entry for the couple and on the 1901 census Henry was credited as being the head of the household but his name has been crossed through and absent written beside it. Henry was the second youngest of six children and on the 1901 census the family were living at 5, St Michaels Gardens, Kensington. He was admitted to Beechholme on the 27th of June 1905 and his mother was given as his next of kin.


By 1911 both Henry and an older sister Madeline are resident in Beechholme.

From Henry’s army service records he enlisted on 16 October 1913 in London. Within his service records is a consent form from Beechholme permitting him to enlist in the army band.


Henry Lussenden Beechholme WW1


He was just 5 feet tall and had brown hair and brown eyes. His next of kin was his mother Ella of Chapel Road, Worthing. His three sisters were living in the Worthing area.


Henry deserted according to his service records on 2 June 1915 at Woolwich.


Nothing more is known of him. No death record could be found. There is no evidence of him re-enlisting into the Duke of Wellington’s, but he may have under a different name.


His older brother Arthur served in the Duke of Edinburgh, Wiltshire regiment.

Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, WW1 service Records on-line, Find my Past.

Last updated 16 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial