Beechholme memorial plaque
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WALTERS, William Thomas 

Private 3764,


5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte's Own)


Died of Wounds on 28th March 1918.



William Thomas Walters was born around 1893 in Kensington according to the census.


William was admitted to Beechholme on the 29th of April 1898. Poor Law records state that he was illegitimate and his mother's name was Rhoda who was living at 257, Kensal Road. He was adopted.


On the 1901 census William is resident in Beechholme aged seven and there are no other resident children with the surname of Walters.


William cannot be identified positively on the 1911 census but it is possible he was already in the military as a regular soldier or a reservist and his army number of four digits would indicate that this is correct. Unfortunately there are no service records for this man but his medal index card indicates that his date of entry was the 21st of August 1914 and as such William would have been one of the first men to fight on the Western Front.

“Soldiers Died in the Great War” has him being born in Kensington, residing at Banstead and enlisting in London.

The 5th Dragoon Guards were a cavalry unit first raised back in 1685. In 1804 it took the title 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales) Dragoons after the hugely popular Princess Charlotte who died in childbirth, the whole country going into mourning.


The motto of the regiment is “ Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum”  “ We do not surrender”




                                           Walters, William thomas Beechholme WWI  



In August 1914 the regiment was based at Aldershot and were part of the 1st Cavalry Brigade in the Cavalry Division. As such they moved to France on the 16th of August 1914 and then on the 16th of September the same year they were renamed as the 1st Cavalry Division.


They remained on the Western Front throughout the war and took part in the following major offensives.

1914, Battles of Mons, Le Cateau and Marne.

The Battle of Aisne and 1st Ypres.

In 1915 the Winter Operations and the 2nd Battle of Ypres.

The 1916 Battle of Courcelette, a phase of the Battle of the Somme.

In 1917 The Arras and Cambrai Offensives.

In 1918 the Battle of St Quentin from the 21st-23rd March.



In March 1918 each brigade and the machine gun squadron furnished a regiment to be constituted as a “ Dismounted Division” These units returned to the 1st Cavalry Division at a later date.


Here follow extracts from the 5th Dragoon Guards War Diary.


March 10th 1918

“ On the night of the 9th/10th the 1st Dismounted Brigade carried out a raid on the enemy positions at SQUARE COPSE. The wire cutting party reached the wire but found it thicker than had been anticipated. The party after remaining at the wire under heavy machine Gun fire for fifteen minutes returned bringing away the dead and injured”


March 23rd.

“ Marched to MORCHAIN arrived 12.15 pm and off saddled North east of village.

“Marched to CURCHY at 7.30 pm, regiment being fairly heavily shelled as it moved off sustaining several casualties to men and horses.”


March 27th.

11.30 am “ Regiment proceeded mounted to push forward in conjunction with 2nd Brigade along North bank of River Somme. Sustained some casualties from shell fire as it moved off.”


On the 28th of March there is a report of intense shelling but no casualties were reported in the war diary and therefore we have to conclude that William was injured in one of the events mentioned above.


Casualties for the month of March 1918 were as follows :-


Killed - 18 Other Ranks (includes died of wounds)

Wounded-  67



Soldiers Effects records held by Ancestry show that William died in the 1st Casualty Field Ambulance.
His sole legatee was Mrs. Grace Richards.


GRAVE REF :- London Cemetery & Extension, Longueval, Somme. II.G.3.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry,  Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long, Long Trail, The National Army Museum, War Diary courtesy of National Archives- WO 95/1109/2

Last updated: 22 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

WHITE, Charles

Private 68637,


8th Royal West Surrey (Queens) attached light trench mortar artillery.


Died of wounds 12 Ooctober 1918


Age 19


Foster son of Louisa Jane Yates of 13, Belmont Road, Belmont, Surrey.



Charles White was born around 1899 in the borough of Chelsea. He was the son of Alfred White a labourer, and Elizabeth nee Clarke. He was the youngest of at least eight children.

On the 1901 census Charles is in the Britten Street workhouse infirmary along with a sister. His mother and the children were in and out of the workhouse between 1899 and 1904. The father was in the infirmary at this time.

Charles was admitted to Beechholme on the 27th of December 1902 but discharged to his mother's care in February 1903. He was brought in by the police on the 11th of January 1904 and presumably re-admitted at this time The 1911 census shows him as resident in Beechholme aged


According to “Soldiers Died in the Great War “he enlisted in Hounslow into the 8th Royal West Surrey regiment, known as “The Queens”. At that time he was living in Hampton Wick.


His medal index card gives no date of entry for him but he wasn’t entitled to either the 1914 or 1915 Star. He probably did not go overseas until late 1917 or early 1918 when he would have been eighteen years old. In theory no soldier was supposed to serve overseas until they had reached that age.

The 8th Royal Surrey regiment were a service battalion having been raised at Guildford in 1914 and were part of Kitchener’s New Army. They moved to France at the end of August 1915. In February 1918 they transferred to the 17th Brigade 24th Division.



                             Charles White Beechholme W1             




By the time of the battle of Loos in September 1915, the mortars had been arranged into sixty-one four-gun batteries. General Headquarters proposed to provide each division with six light batteries, two medium and one heavy. It was decided to standardize the three types - the 3 inch Stokes (light), the 2 inch medium (superceded in 1917 by the 6 inch Newton Mortar) and the 9.45 inch heavy. By 1918 each division had 24 Stokes, 12 medium mortars and a few 9.45 inch heavy weapons.


The Royal West Surrey regiment took part in the battle of the Hindenburg Line in 1918, part of the Advance to Victory.Built in late 1916 the Hindenburg Line, known to the Germans as the Siegfried Line, was a heavily fortified zone running several miles behind the active front between the north coast of France and Verdun in Belgium. By September 1918 the formidable system consisted of six defensive lines, forming a zone some 6,000 yards deep, ribbed with lengths of barbed wire and dotted with concrete emplacements, or firing positions.

Although the whole line was heavily fortified, the southern part was most vulnerable to attack as it included the St Quentin Canal and was not out of sight from artillery observations by the enemy. Also the whole structure was laid out linearly as opposed to newer constructions that had adapted to  more recent developments in firepower and were built with scattered “strong points” and laid out like a checkerboard to enhance the intensity of artillery fire. The Allies would use these vulnerabilities to their advantage, concentrating all the force built up during the so called “ Hundred Days Offensive” which began on 8th August 1918 with a decisive victory at Amiens. A marathon bombardment using 1,637 guns along a 10,000 yards long front began. After targeting the St Quentin Canal with a creeping barrage of fire the Allies were able to successfully breach the Hindenburg Line on 29 September and the Allies pressed their  advantage on the Western Front through the following month.


An entry from the war diary of 8th Royal West Surrey regiment.


11th October RIEUX.

“ The 8th Queens to pass through the 1st Royal Fusiliers and gain the high ground North of ST AUBERT and turn this village from the north. The battalion was withdrawn to the village and made as comfortable as possible for the night in cellars. The casualties during this day had been considerable-1 Officer killed, 3 wounded. A number of Other Ranks killed and wounded. “


His sole legatee was his foster mother Louisa Yates.


                     GRAVE REF :- ST AUBERT BRITISH CEMETERY III. B.21.


     Charles White Beechholme_WW1

St Aubert is a village in the Department of Nord approximately 13 kilometres east of Cambrai.

The cemetery was begun by the 24th Division on 12 October 1918 just after the capture of the village.




Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, The Long, Long Trail, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cemetery photo courtesy of the CWGC

                      War Diary of 8th Royal West Surrey WO/95/2208/2


Last updated: 22 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

WILLIAMS, Frederick 

Private 1842


1st  Hertfordshire Regiment


Died of wounds 4 October 1915.



Frederick Williams was born around 1896 in Kensington. His parents were Henry Arthur Bishop Williams, and Ellen nee Read. Frederick’s father was employed as a tailor, specifically a breeches maker. The parents sometimes used the surname Bishop.  Frederick was the fifth child of six born to the couple. Frederick’s mother Ellen died in 1897 and his father was deceased by 1911 when Frederick’s sister Ellen or Nellie as she was known married.


In 1901 Frederick, under the surname of Bishop, is resident in Beechholme along with his sister and two older brothers. He was admitted to Beechholme on the 19th of October 1898. Poor Law records show that he was an orphan and was adopted. An older brother Herbert was in Dr Wheatley's Home.


On the 1911 census Frederick is aged fifteen and employed as a tailor’s apprentice. He is a boarder living with his employer in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.He enlisted in Hatfield and his army number indicates an enlistment between January 1912 and January 1913. This agrees with the date of 10 July 1912 from his service records .


The 1st Hertfordshire regiment were a Territorial force. They were the only infantry unit for the county to see service overseas. As a pre-war “Territorial” unit the men of the Hertfordshire regiment were part time soldiers, coming from all walks of life, training together at weekends and annual summer camps. Prior to the war the "Territorials" were looked down upon by the men of the regular army. When war broke out in August 1914 the Regular Army was called upon to form the British Expeditionary Force along with a small number of territorial units.


In August 1914 the 1st battalion Hertfordshire regiment was based in Hertford as part of the East Anglian Brigade of the East Anglian Division. The annual territorial army summer camp of 1914 finished with emergency orders for all units to return to their bases and await further instructions. On 5 August 1914 the entire battalion was embodied for war service. After assembling at Romford in Essex the expected orders to move to France did not materialise. Instead they moved north to Bury St Edmunds and trained in the area for around two months.


The 1 November 1914 saw surprise orders that the battalion would mobilise and move to the Western Front as part of the 4th Guards Brigade of the 2nd Division, and because of this attachment they were sometimes referred to as the Hertfordshire Guards. Therefore early on 5 November they left Bury St. Edmunds and sailed via Southampton to Le Havre, moving onto St Omer once fully disembarked. They duly arrived at the front line on 11 November 1914 losing their first casualty on the way through Ypres, to take up positions near Hooge.


In Frederick’s service records his age is given as  17 years and he was 5 feet 6 inches in height. His physical development was normal.

He served on the Western Front from 5 November 1914 until 28 January 1915 when after treatment at a base hospital nicknamed the Duchess of Westminster at Le Touquet, operated by the Red Cross, he was sent back to England until 24 June the same year during which time he was treated for rheumatism.


On 4 October 1915 he was treated in a field ambulance for shell shock received in the field. He was transferred to a Clearing Hospital where he died at 10.10 pm on the following day, 5 October. The cause of death was given as fracture of the base of skull.


A transcription of the 1st Hertfordshire diary is available online and there follows some extracts from it. When Frederick returned to his battalion after his treatment and possible convalescence  in England it was almost July 1915 and at that time the battalion were in the trenches at Cuinchy,  Givenchy and the surrounding areas.


October 1915


 Battalion went into the trenches in front of VERMELLES north of the HULLOCK ROAD, being in support of the 1st Kings Royal Rifles regiment who were holding the old front line German trench which had been captured a few days before.


The Commander in Chief wired to say he was pleased to confer the DCM upon Corporal Reginald Evans 1stbattalion Hertfordshires.


The battalion was relieved by the 2nd battalion Grenadier Guards. On relief the 1st Kings Royal Rifles were attacked and two Hertfordshire machine guns were temporarily attached to the Kings Royal Rifles and got quite a good target. The batttalion marched back to Bethune.

( Comment- Private Percy Everitt killed in action, Private Arthur Bruton died of wounds and Private 1842 Frederick Williams died of wounds on 4 October 1915)


Both of Frederick’s brothers applied for his medals unaware that the other had done so- they went to Herbert who according to the service records was the older brother. Frederick’s sister received the world war one scroll and plaque with Frederick’s name on them.




                                         Frederick Williams Beechholme WW1 memorial




William’s younger brother William was a sergeant in the Army Ordnace Corps.

His older sister Ellen married a man who was killed in the Great War and she married again shortly afterwards.


The shell shock that Frederick received in the field was not of the nervous variety but rather a shell exploding close to him which would have caused him to suffer a fractured skull.



Frederick's legatees were his brother Herbert and a sister Ellen.





Sailly Labourse is a village 5 kilometres south east of Bethune. It was used for rest billets and by field ambulances for much of the war.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

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

The Hertfordshire Regiment in the Great War, 1st Hertfordshire regimental war diary available transcribed online, Herts at War

Last updated: 22 Feb 2017

Beechholme WWI memorial


Private 7539,


1st Northhamptonshire Regiment


Killed in Action 9 May 1915.



James Williams was supposedly born around 1890 in either Kensington or Chelsea. There is no christening record that fits this approximate date of birth, or indeed a birth entry that corresponds. His parents are unknown. The only census that James can be identified on is the 1901 where he is resident in Beechholme and described as a pauper scholar aged 11. There are several other children with the surname Williams in Beechholme at this time but they cannot be connected to James.


It seems likely that when the 1911 census was taken he was overseas with his regiment as his army number indicates that he joined between August 1904 and September 1905.


Prior to World War 1 the 1st Northamptonshire regiment saw overseas service in Hong Kong, India, Singapore and South Africa.In August of 1914 the regiment was at Blackdown near Aldershot under the command of the 2nd Brigade 1st Division and they landed at Le Havre on the 13 August 1914, just nine days after war had been declared. They took part in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, the battles of Marne, Aisne and First Ypres. They also took part in the winter operations of 1914-1915 and the Battle of Aubers or Aubers Ridge which began on the 9 May 1915.


Throughout the winter of 1914-15 the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary continued offensive operations against Russia. Although they achieved no major or strategic breakthrough there, they determined to stand on the defensive in the west in 1915, pressing forward in the east. Once Russia had been defeated the full weight of their forces could be deployed against the formidable Western Front. The German Supreme Command thus moved forces from the west to the east. Sensing German intentions the French High Command resolved on a speedy attack and three strategic strikes against enemy communications were planned. This would disable their ability to defend the large salient that had been punched into French territory in 1914. The three key areas were

1) an advance from Artois,

2) an attack north of Rheims, and

3) an attack from Verdun. Lack of men and munitions for this strategy meant that the moves couldn’t be undertaken simultaneously and an attack at Artois was given priority. It was this decision that led to the attack at Aubers.


Here follows a transcribed extract from the 1stNorthamptonshire regiment’s war diary.


9 May 1915.

Everyone was up at daybreak completing last details and arrangements. We had a large amount of stores to carry such as scaling ladders, bridges, wire cutters, bombs, flags for showing progress etc. The morning was fine and very clear and the gunner’s observation officer attached for the day to the battalion thought it a perfect morning for the artillery.


At 5.00 am sharp the bombardment of the enemy lines and fortified posts commenced from our guns behind 18 pounders and 15 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers. The noise was terrific . This bombardment continued until 5.30 am during which time the guns were playing on the various enemy batteries and fortified houses in the rear of the line.


From 05.30 -05.40 artillery fire was turned on the enemy trenches which were sandbagged breastworks. The 18 pounder field guns playing on the barbed wire entanglements and cut gaps for our infantry assault. During this 10 minutes the men of our leading companies “B” and “D” got over the parapet preceded by bombers, men carrying scaling ladders etc. These companies advanced as close as possible to about 100 yards from the enemy parapet and there lay down until bombardment ceased. Again at the same time two companies in the support trenches “A” and “C” moved from the supporting trenches to the fire trenches and thence over the parapet to support “B” and “D”.


At 5.40 am the bombardment ceased and the battalion with the Royal Sussex rushed to the assault. Our first companies got close up to the German barbed wire and Captain Dickson and about 20 men reached a gap made by our guns in the trenches. There the men were shot down, Captain Dickson being killed at once and also Captain Farrar. The enemy had opened a heavy rifle and machine gun fire from their trenches before our men could get near them and were mowed down. It was impossible to take the position and the assault had failed. Our artillery appeared to have done very little damage to the enemy as regards either parapet, wire or men themselves.


By this time the enemy had opened fire with his guns and heavily shelled our parapets, reserve trenches and RUE DU BOIS. The battalion was now lying in front between the two trenches unable to advance or retire or even to move without being fired upon. Throughout the day the men lay out absolutely exposed to the rifle, machine gun and shell fire from the German lines.

A few who were near our parapet managed to retire on the order being given. They were collected behind our lines and support trenches and there remained for the remainder of the day.

At 3pm another bombardment and assault was ordered, the 1st Brigade undertaking it this time, with no better results, although a few of the Black Watch got into the German trenches but were forced to retire. When darkness came the survivors crawled back to our trenches having lain out in the open for 14 ½ hours. The wounded, those that could be got to, were brought back, the medical officer Lieutenant Bourdillon doing very valuable work on this day.


Our losses were very heavy :- 8 officers killed, 9 officers wounded, 541 men killed, wounded or missing.


NB. Soldiers Died in the Great War shows 262 other ranks killed with the 1stNorthamptonshires on the 9 May 1915.






The Le Touret Memorial to the missing commemorates 13,479 British soldiers who fell in the fighting between October 1914 and September 1915.

The memorial is located in the ground of Le Touret Military Cemetery in Festubert.

The Northamptonshire regiment has 545 names inscribed upon it.

The vast majority of those commemorated were regular soldiers or territorials who began to arrive in this sector from late 1914 onwards.



Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES :- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long, Long Trail, The War Diary 1st Northamptonshire regiment available online transcribed,  The War Time Memorial Project, Wikepedia, “Soldiers Died in the Great War “courtesy of Ancestry

Beechholme WWI memorial

WILLIAMS, Robert Henry

Private 302467

11th Royal Scots Regiment

Formerly 24966 Gloucestershire Regiment


 Died 18th of October 1918 


Age 19


 Son of Mrs Elizabeth Williams of 44 Wornington Rd Kensington.



Robert Henry Williams was baptised on the 13 July 1899  at St. Martin’s Mission, Ladbroke Grove. He was the son of James Henry and Elizabeth. His mother’s maiden name is unknown. Robert’s father was employed as a labourer and the family were living at 61, Turnton Street at this time.


Robert cannot be traced on the 1901 census. It is believed that he had a younger sister Lilian and also a younger brother called John. Both of these children were baptised in the same area of London and to parents of the same combination of names.


By 1911 Robert is resident in Beechholme along with his sister who is known as Lily. He was admitted on the 29th of June 1906. His date of birth on the census is incorrect as he is listed as being only nine whereas he should in fact be eleven years old. His sister’s age matches her christening date. The younger brother John Thomas is living in Thornton Heath with a family and  he is described as a “nurse child”. A nurse child was a child who had been fostered in an informal way, often between friends or family. The child would have lost one or both parents who would have been unable to care for him. For a small fee the foster parents would care for the child on behalf of someone else.


Robert’s mother was still alive as she is listed as next of kin on the Commonwealth War Graves citation but she cannot be positively identified on the census returns. It must therefore be assumed that Robert’s father had died sometime after the last child had been conceived in 1905.

Not much is known of Robert’s early years and equally his life in the military is also rather sketchy.From “Soldiers Died in the Great War” it is stated that he enlisted in Swindon and initially into the Gloucestershire regiment as Private 24966. Robert’s medal index card isn’t helpful either as it has no date of entry on it. Looking at other medal index cards with numbers that are close numerically to Robert’s it would appear that he enlisted around July 1917. This would also tally with his age as he would then have been eighteen and eligible to serve overseas. This cannot be proven as the numbers do not always run sequentially but it is a reasonable estimate.


International Committee Red Cross records for prisoners of war state that Robert was severely wounded in the right thigh at Messines on the 10th of April 1918 and was taken prisoner. His next of kin were notified accordingly. Sadly Robert died of pneumonia on the 18th of October 1918.

On his gravestone is the following inscription put on by his mother " Life was deserved, but God thought eternity best."





The city of Kassel lies in the centre of Germany approximately 165 kilometres south of Hannover. The cemetery was begun by the Germans in 1915 for the burials of prisoners who died at the local camp.



                              Williams R Beechholme WW1


 A photo of Kessel  Prisoner of War Camp- date unknown.






               Williams R_Beechholme WW1



                                                   Niederzwehren  Cemetery.


Research by Rachel and Jim Stapleton

SOURCES:- Ancestry, Find My Past, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, The Long, Long Trail, Photos available online.  

Last updated: 22 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