Tag Archives: Bedfordshire Regiment

CWH: Private Herbert Ford

Private Herbert Ford

Herbert Edgar Ford is one of those people whose early life is destined to remain lost to time. His first names appears interchangeably on documents, with Herbert also being shortened to Bertie, but this means there is no definite trail to his early years.

He was born in Frome, Somerset, around the beginning of 1890, though nothing remains to suggest who his parents would have been. He married at the start of 1914, to local woman Ethel Mary Butler, and they went on to have a daughter, Doreen, at the end of the year.

By that point, war had been declared, and Herbert wanted to play his part. Full details of his military service are not available, but it is evident that he had enlisted in the Bedfordshire regiment by 1918. His troop – the 1st Garrison Battalion – were dispatched to India and were based in Delhi for the majority of the war, but it is unclear when or if Private Ford joined them.

Sadly, the next record for Private Ford is the notice of his death in the local newspaper. This confirms that he died on 16th April 1919 at Birmingham Hospital, “after a long and painful illness” [Somerset Standard: Friday 25th April 1919]. He was just 29 years of age.

Herbert Edgar Ford’s body was brought back to Somerset: he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in his home town of Frome.

CWG: Private Henry Cowles

Private Henry Cowles

In a quiet corner of a cemetery in Somerset stands a gravestone to Private HJ Cowles. It confirms that he passed away on 26th April 1920, and that he was in the Bedfordshire Regiment during the First World War.

Little additional information on HJ Cowles is available. One document, the Medal Roll Index Card, confirms his first name as Henry, and that he had initially joined the Somerset Light Infantry. He was awarded the British Medal for his war service.

Cowles is a fairly common name in the Somerset area, and, without any additional information – date of birth, familial connections – it is impossible to narrow down the name on the gravestone to a specific Henry Cowles from the area or beyond.

There is also nothing in any contemporary newspapers to suggest that Private Cowles’ passing was anything out of the ordinary.

Sadly, therefore, he remains a name lost to history. Henry J Cowles, whoever he was, and however he died, lies at rest in the Milton Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

CWG: Private George Western

Private George Western

George Western was born on 18th September 1881, one of seven children to Alfred and Jane. Alfred worked as a labourer, and the family lived in Taunton, Somerset.

Alfred died when George was only 12 years old, so his mother found work as a hawker to make ends meet. George married local woman Sarah Pinnell in 1900, and the two of them lived with Jane and her younger children, George working as a labourer to help the extended family.

George and Sarah went on to have seven children, and, by the time of the 1911 census, they had set up home in the centre of Taunton, just off the main high roads.

The Great War was on the horizon, though, and George was there to do his duty for King and Country. His service records no longer exist, so it is difficult to pin down any dates, but it seems that Private Western initially served with the Somerset Light Infantry, then then transferred to the Bedfordshire Regiment.

George was assigned to the 3rd Garrison Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. While there is nothing to confirm his activities during the war, this particular battalion were formed in January 1917, and were stationed initially in India and then in Burma. Private Western’s medal records suggest, however, that he served his time on home soil.

By May 1918, George was definitely back in Somerset. He had caught an undisclosed illness by this point, and had been admitted to the Military Hospital in Bristol. Sadly, whatever the illness was (and it seems likely that it would have been one of the many lung conditions that were sweeping the country at the end of the First World War) it got the better of him. Private Western passed away on 29th May 1918 at the age of 36 years old. [The war grave gives an incorrect age.]

George Western lies at peace in St Mary’s Cemetery in his home town of Taunton, Somerset.

CWG: Private Robert Mayers

Private Robert Mayers

Robert William Mayers – also known as Bob – was born in 1888, one of nine children to Charles and Louisa Mayers from Taunton in Somerset. Charles was a solicitor’s clerk, whose work changed direction in the 1890s, and who became a general labourer.

When Robert left school, he became a carpenter, while his older brother became a motor mechanic, and other siblings became messengers, collar machinists and housemaids.

With war on the horizon, Robert enlisted. His full service records no longer exist, but he enrolled in the Bedfordshire Regiment and joined the 3rd Garrison Battalion. While there is no evidence of Private Mayers’ time in the army, it is likely that he saw some service in India and Burma during and after the Great War.

Robert returned to England after being demobbed, but, having survived the war, was suffering from tuberculosis. Sadly, the condition was to get the better of him, and he passed away at his parents’ home on 2nd May 1921. He was 34 years old.

Robert William Mayers lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset.

CWG: Sergeant Thomas Griffith

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Thomas Griffith was born in Fulham in 1891. He was the eldest of five children to John Griffith and his wife Emma, although John had been married previously (to Eliza, who had died in 1880), and so Thomas had a further six half-siblings.

By the 1911 census, he was 20, working as a printer’s apprentice, while his father was unemployed and his mother worked as a charwoman.

The Great War had been fought for a year when Thomas enlisted in August 1915. He joined the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. The regiment fought in most of the battles on the Western Front, and, during his time there, he was promoted to the role of Sergeant.

Beyond this, Sergeant Griffith’s service records give little more information about him. His war pension and the Register of Soldiers’ Effects show that he was killed in action on Monday 17th April 1916. He was 25 years old.

Sergeant Thomas Griffith is commemorated at the Essex Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Thomas Griffith was my first cousin three times removed.