Aldbourne picture postcard village

Aldbourne War Heroes

by Graham Palmer        Part 2 of  2


The early years of the war had had a huge impact on Aldbourne. Some 20 of its men had been killed, the band had been forced to conclude it's activities and many of the normal entertainments and their like were no more, the village must have been a very gloomy place indeed.
- 1917 -
The coming of the most terrible conflict of all curiously seemed to have surprised the whole village. The church magazine made little if any mention of the clouds of war that were looming on the horizon but a local journalist did relate news of fighting in one of the local tabloids. In one of his reports in 1914 he actually stated 'the great war, the like the world has never seen', in no way could he have ever realised just how prophetic his words were to become.
During the late summer of 1917 news was received that John Orchard 3186, sergeant in the 8th battalion Kings Royal Rifles, had also been awarded the D.C.M. a proud moment indeed for his family. His father was John Orchard the chair factory proprietor. Young "Jack" had led the first wave of his company in an assault on enemy troops and although wounded he had held out for two hours before returning with two prisoners. Sadly his family's rejoicing was short-lived as John was killed only weeks later, he was aged only 23. He is buried at the Hooge crater cemetery in Belgium though a military headstone can be seen in our own churchyard.
The lists for 1917 include Lance Corporal 41011 Frederick William Stacey of the Worcestershire regiment buried in Bailleul road cemetery France. CE Westal 198546 gunner RFA is buried in the La Clytte cemetery Belgium. HJ Bonner G/51988 private Royal fusiliers is buried at Grandcourt cemetery, Somme and AJ Noon 12342 L/corporal 7th Wilts is buried in the Doiran cemetery Greece, Noon was a native of the village but was then living in Wroughton. HRJ Hawkins 30098 private 1st/4th batt Somerset L/Infantry buried Basra cemetery Iraq and John Arthur Tanner CB. CMG. DSO Brigadier General Royal Engineers fell at Arras but has no known grave.

Awards that year were to Fred Stacey the MM and promotion to L/corp and the D.C.M was awarded to Pte. Osborn.

The death also occurred of Edward Pitcher who although was a village lad had been living in Liddington but whose name has possibly never been commemorated on a memorial.

- 1 9 1 8 -

In 1918, three young men, George Hull, Fred Sheppard and Jesse Emberlain, walked to Marlborough with intentions of signing up. Both George and Fred were accepted, though they did only light duties and after the war returned safely. Jesse was refused entry as he was deemed too young and he was refused again in 1939 because by then he was not only considered too old but he was also in a protected occupation.

We can only begin to imagine how desolate the towns and villages must have become and here was no different. With over 190 of the village men gone to the fighting and many others coerced to leave and work for the cause elsewhere Aldbourne must have been a bleak place and that is for sure. Engineer's fitter 'Tom' Palmer left the village in 1915 to work for the Osram & Robertson lamp works. In order to protect him from any intimidation he was issued with an armband and a certificate of attestation.

The death toll was still rising with a speed that must have numbed the village for 1918 saw a further 13 men perish! The list comprised of TC Westal RMA/10313 gunner who died at sea. Frank Henry Wakefield 26450 had been encouraged by his father to become a full time soldier and had joined the 2nd Wilts regiment well before the onset of the war rising to the rank of corporal, his father was John of Kandahar fame. Frank is buried at Savy British cemetery Aisne, France.

Richard Loveday 12058 corporal joined the 6th Wilts and was killed on the 29th April 1918. He was the second son of William Loveday of the Lottage iron foundry works. His obituary told that although he had been wounded twice the "third bullet had proved fatal". He is buried at the Arneke British cemetery, France.

William Roland Brooks 4129 corporal 1st batt Duke of Cornwall L/Inft, his reference is on the Ploegsteert memorial has no known grave. John Henry Newman 202446 L/corp. 2nd/4th Royal Berks is buried in Les Baraques cemetery. Bertie Maynard 5398 private Leinster reg is buried at Hautmont and J J Moulding 476635 gunner Canadian field artillery is buried in Aubigny cemetery. John Rollo Lowis, Captain Hants Yeomanry, is buried at Voormezeele.

Both Albert Cook 7625 sergeant 2nd Wilts who fell at Tyne Cot and George Henry Hawkins 55874 private 12th coy Northampton fusiliers who also fell at Tyn Cot have no known graves.

J Veitch G/84087 2nd/4th Royal fusiliers is buried at Bronfay farm, his father was a publican here and the family came from Newbury. Private John Westal 18351 5th Dorset's appears to have died of wounds received and is buried in Ramsbury churchyard and W Hedges Lieutenant 10th batt Canadian Inft is buried in Haynecourt cemetery. Walter Young Barnes had been living in Toronto when the war started having gone there to find work just a couple of years earlier. On the outbreak of war "Pelly" immediately joined the 34th Canadian infantry brigade and shortly afterwards returned to Britain where he transferred to the Royal Engineers. Pelly served on the Western front for three years eventually suffering a nervous breakdown after which he was discharged from his duties.

Its been said that band members were involved in the forming of the first Wiltshire Regimental Band, certainly Frank and Alfred Jerram and Fred Barnes took their beloved instruments with them so it is a safe bet many of the others did too. On a picture taken in France c1915 there are two bandsmen, brothers Alf and Frank Jerram, that can be seen as members of a band formed from men of various regiments for a visit by Earl Haig.

Several village men who were eligible for military duties made petition to the appeal committee for exemption. Albert Stacey was a village baker and told in one of his several appeals that he baked 6 bags of flour a week. Edward Sheppard and Albert Gregory were two others who were successful in their appeals as carters. Fred Alder snr had a lucky escape, as he also claimed to be a carter and an agricultural labourer (for J Cook) but even though he was fifty years old his appeal in 1918 was adjourned till a later date. For him the war probably couldn't finish soon enough and luckily for him it did. Bonnie Barrett "an old soldier suffering from malaria" described himself as a water engineer and agricultural labourer for Sir James Currie of Upham house and was also made exempt, as he had 'already done his bit'.

The village celebrated with the usual gusto with a peace celebration and some 200 children led by the band paraded around the village. As soon as the men returned to their homes the bandsmen amongst them were soon back together and throughout 1919 the band played somewhere in the village every Saturday evening, a newspaper report stated 'the instrumentalists play with great sympathy' Deaths were still being recorded until well after the armistice with men dying of injuries received. For us there were H Cook 4844 private 3rd Wilts who was buried in Swindon, RA Swash T4/088264 L/corp who is buried in Aldbourne churchyard and George Walker 295181 a shoeing smith in the RFA was given a large military funeral here in 1920 and is also buried in Aldbourne.
Unrecorded are the wounded like J Carter and J Curly who both lost an arm or private WG Pilcher who was wounded in the right eye or Mark Brind who 'had a metal plate in his head', it was he who helped lord Methuen unveil the memorial hall tablet.
Aldbourne's men have always been made of stern stuff and life soon returned to the usual pattern though for the ones who had lost sons, brothers or husbands the pain would never really go away.

Some 21 years later the hurt would return with the coming of the Second World War but that story is for another day

Aldbourne Website Group 1999/2000

Return to index Aldbourne Cemetery

Memorial to the dead of the Second World War in . St Michael's Church, Aldbourne (24/July/2014).

See also Aldbourne village memorial
Return to index Aldbourne Cemetery

Memorial to the dead of the First World War in St Michael's Church, Aldbourne (24/July/2014).
Return to index Aldbourne Cemetery