Tag Archives: Suffolk Regiment

CWG: Private Albert Farrell

Private Albert Farrell

Albert Sydney Farrell was born in Mayfield, East Sussex, in the summer of 1899. One of four children his parents were gardener and coachman Arthur Farrell and his wife, Sarah Ann. Arthur had been born in Findon, a village to the north of Worthing, and is was to this town that he returned with his family. By the time of the 1911 census, when Albert was listed as a schoolboy, they were living in a small cottage within spitting distance of the sea.

Because of his youth, there is little further documentation on Albert’s early life. The war was coming, however, and he wanted to do his part. Dates cannot be confirmed, but he enlisted later in the conflict, at east before June 1918.

Private Farrell joined the Suffolk Regiment, and was assigned to the 1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion. He would have carried out guard, escort and other similar duties from where he was based on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

Towards the end of the conflict, Albert fell ill; he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Sheerness, but sadly passed away on 3rd December 1918. He was just 19 years of age.

Albert Sydney Farrell was brought back to Worthing; he lies buried in the Broadwater Cemetery to the north of the town.


CWG: Private Harold Cook

Private Harold Cook

Harold Cook was born in February 1899, the youngest of nine children to George and Amelia Cook from the Somerset town of Street. George worked as a bootmaker, presumably for the Clark’s factory in the town.

Harold lost his mother at a young age; Amelia passed away in 1901, aged just 41 years old.

By the time of the 1911 census, George, his two older sons – Maurice and George Jr – and his four daughters – Beatrice, Florence, Alice and Gladys – were all employed by the factory. In fact, the only member of the family not employed by Clark’s was Harold himself, who was still at school.

Harold’s military records are not available, but, from the information I have been able to gather, it appears that he enlisted as soon as his age allowed. He joined the Suffolk Regiment, and was in training when an accident occurred.

The local newspaper – the Central Somerset Gazette – picks up his story:

It appears that about 11pm on August 24th [Private Cook was] in bed and suddenly got up, saying he was lying on something. This proved to be the oil bottle of his rifle and he said he would put it away. He got hold of his rifle and turned it muzzle downwards in order to put the oil bottle in the butt. When he closed the butt-trap the rifle went off.

He at once exclaimed “Who put the safety catch forward?”. Corporal Butler and [Private Johnson] then bandaged Private Cook’s foot (which was drilled clean through) and he was taken away at once.

From subsequent evidence by the Adjutant, it transpired than the rifle had been faultily loaded and that the safety catch had been broken.

Deceased had received every possible attention at the American Hospital in Cambridge, but his leg had to be amputated and subsequently septicaemia set in and to this he succumbed.

The jury, in accordance with the Coroner’s summing up, returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.”

Central Somerset Gazette: Friday 19th October 1917

Private Cook died on 4th October 1917, aged just 18 years old.

His body was brought back to his home town of Street and he lies at rest in the local cemetery.


CWG: Private Harry Pullen

Private Harry Pullen

What I have discovered while researching the Commonwealth War Graves, is that, despite the general themes I find, the people behind the names always have an individual story to tell. Sometimes that story raises an eyebrow, or produces a gasp.

Such was the story of Private Harry Pullen.

What raised the eyebrow? Two words, written on the Army Records of Soldiers’ Effects.

Accidentally Drowned.


Harry Pullen was born in Shirehampton, Gloucestershire in 1886. His father, Robert Edward Pullen, was a carpenter; he and his wife Hannah Presulga Cissy Pullen had three other children, Gwendoline, Herbert and John.

By the time of the 1901 census, Robert is boarding in a house in Bristol with his three sons; Hannah and Gwendoline are not listed (nor do they appear on any other census records I have been able to locate).

Harry is listed as a Telegraph Boy, as is his brother Herbert, but he seemed to have wanted to take up a trade; by 1910 he had moved up to London.

In March of that year, Harry married Harriet Critchell, a spinster fifteen years his senior. On their marriage records for Christ Church, St Pancras, Harry lists himself as a tradesman. The census a year later confirms this – head of the household, he is an Agent for the Provident Clothing Supply Company. (Founded in Bradford, West Yorkshire, Provident’s mission was to help working-class families provide for themselves through the use of vouchers. These were exchanged for goods in local shops, and paid for in affordable instalments.)

Harry enlisted at some point after 1916. His regiment, the 1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment, was not formed until March of that year, and, after starting in Buckinghamshire, it moved to Tilbury in Essex and Gravesend in Kent. The battalion was finally settled in Grain, North Kent in 1918, and it was here that he served.

Here the trail goes frustratingly cold…

Private Pullen’s enlistment and service records are not available, so research is limited to the Army Register of Soldier’s Effects and the Pension Ledgers.

All we have about his death are those two words – Accidental Drowning. There are no contemporary news reports of his passing, which you might expect given the circumstances, so the circumstances surrounding his death are elusive.

Private Pullen died on 10th July 1918. He was 31 years old.

His records confirm that Harriet was entitled to a weekly pension of 15s for the duration of the war and twelves months after.

Harry Pullen is buried in the graveyard of St James’ Church in Grain, Kent, close to where he was stationed.