Below are a small selection of soldiers’ biographies. It is our aim, in time, to have biographical details and images of all men commemorated on the 6th Gloucesters Memorial panels. If you have any information that you would like added on your relative then please do contact us.
We need your help in funding the restoration of the 6th Gloucesters Memorial Panels and have set up a dedicated fundraising page to process donations. Please do consider helping us and safeguard this unique part of Bristol’s military and social history. Full restoration and re-installation with interpretive panels will total £5000. Our GoFundMe page can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-to-restore-the-6th-gloucesters-memorial
2318 Private Stephen DOLMAN, “B Coy”, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in Action 19 March 1916, buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme
The 1911 census shows Stephen was one of six children of William and Mary Dolman. Mary had been widowed and the family were living in Dale Street, St Pauls, Bristol (no longer in existence). Stephen is recorded as a 14-year old employed as ‘Laying on Printing Machine’.
Stephen’s Medal Index Card shows no date of entry overseas but he is listed on the 1914-15 Star medal roll as having proceeded to France on 25 June 1915, some two months after the battalion first headed overseas. He would have joined the 1/6th just before they headed south from Ploegsteert/Messines Ridge to the Somme and the Hebuterne sector where they spent the next year.
Losses were small over the autumn and winter months but rose through spring 1916. The battalion’s most disastrous day in this sector was 19 March 1916 – the date of Stephen’s death. In the early hours the Germans sent over gas and subsequently raided the battalion’s trenches. The 1/6th war diary records that night’s raid as follows:
2.00am – Enemy bombarded very heavily wire at K23d.5.7, barraged front line, support lines and communication trenches to left of sector. Our artillery barraged opened at 2.03am.
2.15am – Gas, lachrymatory and smoke shells sent over.
2.20am (about) – Enemy raided 3 posts at K.23.d.45.75, K.23.d.4.8 and K.23.d.35.85, carrying off 3 men. Out of 24 men holding these 3 posts, 10 were killed, 3 wounded, 3 missing.
2.20am – Platoon from support line ordered to counterattack
2.25am – Posts reoccupied. 1 prisoner of 8th Coy, 66th Regt (unwounded) captured.
2.50am – Enemy ceased firing.
3.00am – All quiet. Total casualties due to raid. 12 killed, 1 officer (2nd Lt J.G. HOLMAN) gassed. 29 O.R. wounded or gassed (3 of which died of wounds)
There is a detailed report in 144 Infantry Brigade war diary reproduced below:
2am – Minenwerfer bombardment of front line and JONES.
2.10am – Gas shells in JONES.
2.15am – White gas from German trenches, thought to have come from cylinders. All men in front line put on tube helmets and opened rapid fire.
Lieut. COSTIN again went along his trench to No.7 post (K.23.d.45.75) as the Coy. Gas NCO was in that post. He found that this NCO and three men had been killed: he reported this by orderly to his Coy. Commander and returned to the centre of the platoon. At about this time a party of the enemy, established at 30 strong, advanced under cover of the gas and crossed an abandoned portion of my front line at about point K.23.d.40.80. They were fired on by No. 9 post and by the one remaining man in No.8 post. When they reached the trench the party divided and moved right and left up the trench, which is full of mud and water. No. 9 post engaged them with the bayonet but was unable to reach them as they were shot down with pistols, two men being killed and one wounded.
This hostile party then retired, being fired on by the remainder of No.9 post. The other hostile party came on Nos. 7 and 8 posts from behind. The garrison of these posts was reduced to one man in No. 8 and one on wounded and one wounded man in No. 7. These men engaged them with rifle fire and the party passed through No. 7 post and tried to carry off the wounded man. They pulled him over the parapet but were unable to get him any further. Two men are missing from No.7 post, but the enemy was not seen to carry them away: they may have been blown to pieces. Rapid fire was kept up all this time from the remaining posts in the company front.
At 2.25am the O.C. Company, hearing that his centre platoon was practically wiped out, by the bombardment, ordered his support platoon to move over the open from JONES to take over the trench occupied by his centre platoon. This platoon reached its position – probably about 3 minutes after the enemy left the trench.
At 3.10am there was a further emission of white gas from the German line: this gas hung in the valley on the left on my front and was clearly visible from Battalion HQ. During the bombardment of the frontline and Jones a number of what are described as phosphorus shells were fired: these are reported to have burned with a bright light after exploding and to have given off-white fumes which smelt the phosphorus.
One unwounded prisoner was taken by No. 11 post.
Some posts on my Right Coy report that the enemy attempted to leave their trenches opposite them at about 2.30 am, but were driven back by the barrage and rapid Lewis gun fire. The two Lewis Guns in JONES fired continuously on the enemy front line.
The chief gap in our wire is about 50 yards wide, and is about 40 yards north of point K.23.d.45.75. This gap is a mass of craters and the wire is absolutely gone. No traces can be seen of gaps in the German wire.
The enemy left an ordinary ladder in our wire and about 30 grenades in the trenches. Specimen of these grenades will be forwarded.
Machine gun of Brigade Coy. in ECZEMA behind ROB ROY fired 2000 rounds on enemy front line. Grenade Post in JOHN COPSE fired 12 rifle grenades while the gas was passing. The gas from the shells was brown in colour and sweet to taste: its chief affects seem to have been irritation of the eyes and throat. The white gas did not seem to have any particular effect, but all the worst gas cases came from the front line. The men are reported to have got their helmets on well and they seem to have afforded good protection. Report from M.O. is attached.
The following officers, NCOs and men particularly distinguished themselves:
2/Lieut J.G. HOLMAN. He organised the defence of JOHN COPSE and saw the men got their helmets on. While putting on his own helmet he was knocked down by a shell and badly gassed. He then went out to the isolated posts and visited each of them. The gas at this time was very thick and No. 9 post reported that a man had followed the enemy up to our wire and was lying there wounded. 2/Lieut. HOLMAN at once went out, found this man severely wounded, and brought him in. Then, though very bad with gas and hardly able to speak, he refused to go back and superintended the relief of his platoon.
Lieut. W.C. COSTIN. Performed his duties in the most praiseworthy manner. He was officer on duty in the trench and continued to visit his posts throughout the bombardment. It was owing to the excellent manner in which he performed his duties and rendered his report that the O.C. his Coy. was able to send forward reinforcements at the right moment.
Pte. REYNOLDS went out from the right of the bombarded area and brought in excellent information. He also worked in the gas cloud bringing in wounded over the top till all the wounded had been collected.
L/Cpl. DAVID. This NCO was in JONES on working party and did excellent work. He took charge of the rifles and equipment and saw his men were properly equipped: he saw that all had their helmets on properly and then organised them for a counter-attack if necessary. He was being heavily shelled all the time but showed the greatest coolness and presence of mind.
Dmr. BATH. A H.Q. runner. He went forward through the barrage and though he had frequently to climb out on top and was badly gassed, he delivered his message and then returned through the barrage with a report.
(Signed) J.Micklem, Lt. Col.
Comdg. 1/6th Gloucester Regt.
FURTHER REPORT FROM RIGHT COY.
Machine Gun was located by bearing at K.29.d.60.78.
Trench Mortar was located by bearing at K.29.b.75.05.
At 4.45am a German was seen crawling in, dragging in a body. Fire was opened on him and the enemy replied to cover this party.
After the bombardment ceased, groans and cries could be clearly heard.
This Coy. report that our barrage was extremely accurate and well maintained.
(Signed) J.Micklem, Lt. Col.
Comdg. 1/6th Gloucester Regt.
10 O.R. Killed
3 O.R. Missing. (One almost certainly buried somewhere in JONES: he was on working party)
10 O.R. Wounded
3 O.R. Wounded (At duty).
1 Officer and 7 O.R. suffering from Gas.
8 O.R. suffering from Gas (At duty) Will probably have to be sent to Ambulance.
2 O.R. suffering from shell shock.
(Signed) J.Micklem, Lt. Col.
Comdg. 1/6th Gloucester Regt.
Stephen’s death was announced in the Western Daily Press of 12 April 1916.
His name was one of these on the war memorial at the Ebenezer Wesleyan Church in Old King Street which was unveiled in September 1920. The evening’s events are described in the Western Daily Press of 16 September 1920.
Stephen is buried in Plot I, Row C, Grave 13 at Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/311799/. We have been unable to find a photograph of Stephen but have an original photo of his grave (and that of Private Percy Hill, killed on the same day) at Sucrerie Military Cemetery.
Stephen’s mother is recorded in the CWGC Debt of Honour page as living at 15 Canton St, St Agnes. This road no longer exists, having been knocked down to make way for the M32.
3689 Private Charles Harold Weaver POLLARD, 1/6th Battalion
Died of wounds, 23 May 1916, buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery, Somme
Charles Harold Weaver Pollard was born in Bridgwater, Someret in 1893, one of three children of Frederick and Alice Pollard. The 1911 census shows him as an 18-year old working as a tobacconist assistant and living with his family at 2 Royate Hill, Eastville.
There is scant information available on his life but he was on trial in October 1913 for stealing and was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
He did not go overseas with the battalion at the end of March 1915 but, as shown on his Medal Index Card, headed to France on 25 June 1915 and would have joined the 1/6th soon afterwards just in time for their move south to the Somme and the Hebuterne sector.
There is nothing in the Battalion war diary indicating how Charles was wounded. On 16 May 1916 the Battalion took over H Sector at Hebuterne from the Ox & Bucks and are relieved eight days later by the 4th Gloucesters. The entire eight-day tour is simply recorded as ‘In trenches’ with no further detail provided.
His death is recorded in The Western Daily Press of 15 June 1916, noting that he had died of wounds.
Charles Pollard is also commemorated on his father’s grave in Greenbank Cemetery, Bristol along with his sister Gladys who died two years later, aged 21. After his name are the bracketed words (Dear Harold), indicating that he went by that name.
Charles is buried in Plot I, Row L, Grave 16 alongside other 6th Battalion soldiers at Hebuterne Military Cemetery on the Somme. His CWGC page can be accessed here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/322653/charles-harold-weaver-pollard/
We visited his grave and those of his fellow 6th Battalion men in our 2019 ‘Western Front Footsteps’ tour which had a day focusing on the 4th and 6th Territorial battalions from Bristol.
3594 Company Serjeant Major Harry Richard GREENING, 2/6th Battalion
Died of wounds, 9 December 1916, buried at Contay British Cemetery, Somme
By any measure, Harry Greening was a formidable soldier. Born in Bristol in 1872, newspaper reports mention his pre-war service and experience gained in the Gloucestershire Regiment. He had emigrated to Australia with his family in 1911. When war was declared, rather than joining the A.I.F., he journeyed back to Bristol to join his old regiment. He re-joined as a sergeant and was promoted to Company Sergeant Major before proceeding to France.
A detailed and moving letter from a fellow soldier of the battalion was published in Bristol & the War on 6 January 1917 which noted his experience and influence in training recruits and drafts for France. Overseas, he was said to be:
‘the backbone of his company; the company stood on him so to speak; it was built around him. He was a man who has never known to say “Go,” “Come” was ever his order. However dangerous the work, however risky, our company sergeant-major, without exception, went with his men. When work was hard he was with us; when times were hot he was here and there and everywhere, bucking up his men by his fine example of courage.’
The letter continues:
His company commander, Captain R.A. Young, son of the vicar of Pucklechurch, has expressed his grief at his loss. His words were: “The finest soldier I’ve ever met with.” All our sergeants are more grieved than we care to admit with the loss of our mainstay, our hero in action, our chum when out. A man who could control a regiment single handed. He could sing a good song at our smokers, and was a man “on the spot” every time. He will be sadly missed and mourned by all officers and men of his corps.
One other battalion will regret his death, remembering him as the man who organised a party and who himself “took over the top” this party to bring in the wounded and the dying. Again and again he brought men in at grave risk to his own life. It was Co Sergt. Major Greening who “brought in” the late Captain Ayre and Sergt. Coleman on the 19th July last [the battalion’s disastrous attack at Fromelles]; it was he who went again to try to find other well-known Bristol officers.
Harry Greening was badly wounded whilst the 2/6th Battalion were occupying Desire, Hessian and Regina Trenches south of Grandcourt. By December 1916 the Battle of the Somme had ground to a bloody halt and whilst there were no large scale, set piece attacks daily casualties were still sustained from bomb, bullet and shellfire. The Battalion war diary is scarce in information but notes ‘Intermittent bombardment by hostile artillery’ on the 7th and ‘Intermittent bombardment’ on the 9th. It is likely that Harry Greening was wounded in one of these bombardments, succumbing to his wounds at one of the Casualty Clearing Stations at Contay.
It was a cruel twist of fate that Company Sergeant Major Greening was about to return to England for his commission. His death left his widow Elizabeth and three sons, Harry Ernest and Francis grieving. The family were living at 94, Victoria Avenue, Redfield at the time of Harry Greening’s death.
His Lives of the First World War page can be found here: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/lifestory/1454470 and CWGC page here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/81394/GREENING,/
2858 Private Albert Edward COTTELL, “C” Coy, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in Action 13 September 1915, buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery, Somme
‘Bert’ Cottell was born in Totterdown but was living at 44 Haverstock Road, Knowle when war started. He was the eldest of six children of Edward and Nellie. From the 1911 census it appears his mother had died between 1901 and 1911, leaving his father a widower. Bert worked as a clerk with his father at the Bristol Gas Company. At the time of his death he was 27 years old and unmarried.
He was a well known sportsman and many of the newspaper accounts of his death in September 1915 record his cricketing prowess. Bert went overseas with the 1/6th Battalion in March 1915 and so served in the Ploegsteert/Le Gheer sector before moving south to the Somme.
The war diary for September 1915 is unbelievably scant in detail, simply comprising just two lines! Between 5 and 17 September the 6th Battalion were holding K Sector trenches at Hebuterne.
Monthly casualties are recorded as 1 Other Rank killed, 2 wounded. The one man killed was Bert. In a short paragraph printed in Bristol and the War his death is attributed to being ‘shot in the neck’. It also mentions that he was offered and accepted a commission in the 2/5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment a few days before he died.
Bristol’s newspapers reported his death with the Western Daily Press of 18 September producing a paragraph on his sporting life, noting his footballing skills as well as his record-breaking 151 not out for Knowle Cricket Club and 1914 season average of over 60. Six days later a memorial service was held for him at 8pm in St Martin’s Church, Knowle.
The Western Daily Press of 29 November 1915 reported that Knowle Cricket Club’s Annual Meeting had been held a few days before and ‘A touching reference was made to the loss members had sustained in the death of A.E. Cottrell in action at the front, a sincere tribute being paid to his good many qualities, both on and off the field.’ The Clifton Society (2 December 1915) reported that ‘The matter of a memorial to Cottell was briefly discussed, and the opinion that gained most favour was that a permanent roll of honour should be placed in the club pavilion, to include the names of all members who have answered the call.’
Bert is buried in Plot I, Row L, Grave 26 alongside other 6th Battalion soldiers at Hebuterne Military Cemetery on the Somme. His CWGC page can be accessed here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/322291/A%20E%20COTTELL/. We visited his grave and those of his fellow 6th Battalion men in our 2019 ‘Western Front Footsteps’ tour which had a day focusing on the 4th and 6th Territorial battalions from Bristol.
203459 Lance Corporal Frederick George EATWELL, 2/6th Battalion
Killed in action, 6 May 1917, Age 27, buried at Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon
Fred Eatwell’s wartime service is like many of the men on this memorial. There is no surviving service record and the official documents that do exist provide little information. It is unclear when he went overseas but his name on the Victory & British War Medal Roll shows that, at some point, he also served in the 2/4th Battalion. What information is available comes from Henbury Parish Magazine War Diary from May 1917 which records:
May has brought us two more losses. Fred Eatwell and George Bullock have given their lives. Both were in the Gloucesters. Fred was on guard on Sunday May 6th, when he was shot by a sniper. His home is at Bath, but Fred has been groom at Blaise Castle for four and a half years.
Further details were provided in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette of 26 May 1917 which recorded he had been educated at East Twerton Council School and afterwards was employed for six years as a groom at Blaise Castle, Henbury before enlisting in November 1915. As such, it is possible he proceeded overseas with the battalion in May 1916. Fred’s age at death is given as 26 which, given he was born in the first quarter of 1891, is correct. The CWGC have him as 27 years old. Fred’s brother, William is also recorded as being in the colours, serving with the Welsh Guards.
Fred’s death is not even mentioned in the Battalion war diary which merely states that on 6 May they were relieved from the trenches by the 2/7th Worcestershire Regiment and became battalion in reserve. At this time the 2/6th Battalion were at Holnon, west of St Quentin and the Hindenburg Line.
Fred is buried in Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon close to where he fell and his CWGC page is here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/2911753/
Some of this information was taken from the Lives of the First World War website: https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/story/83190
5265 Private Frederick William DOLMAN, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in Action 17 November 1916, buried at Martinpuich British Cemetery, Somme
Frederick Dolman was killed on the Somme in November 1916. The CWGC page does not record his age but the 1911 census record lists him as being aged 33 at that time. Baptism records list his date of birth as 13 April 1877, making him or 39 at the time of his death. In 1911 Frederick was lodging at 5 Horton Street, Barton Hill, Bristol and working as a labourer at a Manure Works.
Frederick has no surviving service record, meaning information on his service prior to his death is scant. However, his Medal Index Card gives no date of entry into France and he is not eligible for the 1914-15 Star so this indicates he joined the 1/6th Battalion in France at some point in 1916.
The month of November is not a period associated with large casualties for the 6th Battalion (certainly not compared to those suffered in the attacks of July and August 1916). The first week of the month was spent in and out of the line near Le Sars (on the Albert-Bapaume road) before a period from 8-20 November when the Battalion were based with their headquarters at Scott’s Redoubt employed on what the war diary describes as ‘Finding working parties’.
The Battalion war diary records the month’s casualties as 1 officer wounded, 16 Other Ranks killed and 40 wounded. Most of those killed were from the first week/ten days of the month when garrisoning the trenches. Frederick was the only man of the 6th Battalion to be killed on 17 November and it is highly likely he was a victim of shellfire, probably between Le Sars and Martinpuich.
Over a month later the Western Daily Press of 21 December 1916 produced a short notice of his death. “He was,” writes his officer, “a good soldier, a steady, reliable man, who could always be trusted to do his job as it should be done.”
Frederick is buried in Row D, Grave 6 at Martinpuich British Cemetery, Somme. Frederick’s CWGC page can be accessed here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/545377/F%20W%20DOLMAN/
3385 Private Arthur James Cyril BLACKMORE, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in Action 29 May 1915, buried at Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, Hainaut
Arthur Blackmore was one of eleven children of Frederick C. and Augusta Susan Wesley Blackmore, of 38, Summerhill Road, St. George, Bristol. He was just 19 years old when killed in May 1915. Sadly there is no surviving service record for him in the archives.
Arthur joined the 1/6th Battalion in November 1914 and went overseas with them in March 1915 and was killed two months later when the battalion were serving in the Ploegsteert (Plugstreet) sector south of Messines Ridge close to the Belgian-Franco border.
The 1/6th Battalion spent a few months here in spring 1915, learning the ropes of trench warfare. Despite it being known as a ‘quiet’ sector there were still daily casualties from artillery, mortars, rifle and machine gun fire and, on occasions, German raiders. The Battalion war diary for the entire month of May 1915 is incredibly sparse in detail, merely noting that they simply took over the trenches from the 4th Gloucesters (another Bristol Territorial battalion) at 9.50pm on 27 May. Two days later Arthur was dead. Particulars concerning his death are recorded in 1 July 1915’s ‘Bristol and the War’ which printed two letters of condolence sent to his father plus Arthur’s final letter, written to his brother Frank on the day he was killed.
Dear Mr Blackmore,
It is with deep regret I have to inform you of the death of your son (Private A Blackmore, 3385), on the night of the 29th May. He was working with a party, when he was wounded, death coming shortly afterwards.
It might console you to know that he suffered very little pain, and that all the platoon mourn the loss of so good a soldier, who died while on duty for King and Country.
I am writing this to you, as our officer was killed about an hour before your son.
Well, Mr Blackmore, kindly accept my deepest sympathy in your great loss, and believe me to be.
Douglas J Handford,
No. 7 Platoon (Sergt), 1227
Arthur’s final letter to his brother is reproduced in full below:
Private A.J.C. Blackmore, 3385,
B Company, 7 Platoon,
1/6 Batt. Gloster Regt.,
B. Exped. Force,
c/o G.P.O., London
Thank you very much for the cigarettes which I received in mother’s parcel. Did you receive my letter which I wrote about three weeks ago? I’m writing these few lines from the trenches. We are in, I expect, for four days, having had four days’ rest, which if it is good weather, we’d sooner be in. The weather here has been lovely. How did do you enjoy your Whitsun holidays? I suppose you had more work to do than you had before in private life, but never mind, let’s hope it will soon be over. I am very glad to hear that Italy has started, which I think will make a few months’ difference to the war. When we were in last time we had a pretty hot time, having more casualties than we ever had before. One afternoon the Germans started shelling our trenches, knocking a couple of our dug-outs in, and causing much excitement. We can hear the shells coming, and we think every minute they are going to drop right on us. We have had two footballs given us, and we have a great time now and again. Last Wednesday night we picked up a team from our platoon and played some of the N.C.O.’s of our Company, the score being a draw, 1–1. It is too hot to play in the day, so we have to play at night. Well, I think this is all I have to say, hoping you’re in the best of health, as it leaves me.
From your fond brother,
P.S. Did you get to leave for Whitsun, and when do you think you will be out here? Remember me to Tommy.
Arthur is buried in Plot II, Row B, Grave 11 at Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, just behind the British front line at Ploegsteert. His grave is next to that of Private Ernest Clifford, another 1/6th Battalion man whose date of death is recorded as the day before Arthur’s. Arthur’s CWGC page can be accessed here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/447716/blackmore,-arthur-james-cyril/
As well as being commemorated on the 6th Battalion memorial panels his name is also listed on the Summerhill School War Memorial.
At least one of Arthur’s brothers also served. A page on his wartime service can be viewed here: https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/view.php?uid=231423
265094 Private Thomas COX, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in action 23 July 1916, buried at Pozieres British Cemetery, Somme
We have scant information concerning Thomas Cox (a common enough surname) as any surviving family did not provide details to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Sadly there is no surviving service record for him in the archives.
It appears that Thomas was a pre-war Territorial who did not proceed overseas with the 1/6th Battalion in March 1915. His Medal Index Card (below) gives no date of entry into France and his name is not listed on the 1914-15 Star Medal Roll. However, he was the recipient of the Territorial Force War Medal.
So, it seems likely that Thomas joined the battalion in 1916, most likely when they are serving in the Hebuterne sector on the Somme. It is during the battalion’s disastrous attack towards Pozieres on 23 July 1916 that Thomas was killed. Research into local newspapers has found that Thomas was posted as ‘Missing’ following that attack. His name is included in a list of missing Gloucestershire Regiment soldiers published in the Western Daily Press on 1 September 1916.
Thomas now lies in Plot IV, Row F, Grave 50 of Pozieres British Cemetery, his body recovered from the battlefield by a Canadian burial party in May 1919. The documents below (taken from his CWGC page) show that his body was originally buried in the square of map reference 57D.X.3. west of Pozieres. It was over this ground that the battalion attacked on 23 July 1916.
Thomas Cox’s CWGC page is here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/588700/cox,-/
108 Corporal Hubert William CORNOCK, “C” Coy, 1/6th Battalion
Died of wounds 26 June 1915, buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord
Hubert Cornock went overseas with the 1/6th Battalion at the end of March 1915, serving for 88 days before his tragic death. His tale is familiar to those who study the First World War; a young life, full of promise ended by an enemy bullet.
Hubert, aged 26, was hit whilst leaving trenches on Messines Ridge on 26 June 1915, dying from his wound later that night. His death is recorded in August 1915’s Bristol and the War which includes a detailed description of events that night and the letters of sympathy that followed:
We regret to record the death of Corporal Hubert W Cornock, No.108, “A” Company, 6th Gloster Regiment, who was killed at the Front, being shot in the thigh whilst leaving the trenches early on June 26, and died in hospital the same evening. He was twenty-six years of age, and had been connected with the 6th Glosters for the last 10 years. After being some months at Danbury, he left for France in March last.
Corporal Cornock resided at Kensington Hill, Brislington, and was educated at the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College and spoke French fluently. He had previously been employed at the Great Western Railway Offices, Temple Meads, and was held in high esteem by his colleagues. He joined the G.W.R. in March 1904, and was spending his annual leave at camp when war was declared.
The Chaplain (Rev. O. J. Loynes), after expressing sympathy with his wife and relatives, says:
“He received a soldier‘s funeral, and was buried by me in Bailleul Cemetery, in a part especially consecrated and set apart for British soldiers. A wooden cross, with his name and regiment, has been erected on the grave, also grass has been sown, so that in a little while it ought to look nice. The number of his grave is 1427.”
A further description of his death and the trenches at that time were given by Lance Corporal C. Higby, a member of the battalion’s machine gun section in a letter published in the Western Daily Press of 9 July 1915:
The first of the office staff (G.W.R.) has been killed, Corporal Cornock, who was at the same desk as me at Temple Meads. Cornock was shot through the thigh. He was only married a few days before the Battalion came to France, and his father is travelling inspector on the G.W.R.
The trenches we have just come out of were not so comfortable as the first lot we occupied. At midnight three of us were asleep in the dug-out when there were three terrific explosions. Just then the sentry came along to give the alarm, and we all three made a jump for the door and got jammed. However, we soon got out and got the iron-plates and sand-bags away, also getting the machine-gun ready. There was one continual rifle fire and big explosions.
No. 2 Gunner and myself are looking over the gun-sights when one of those explosive bullets exploded right between us, and made us deaf for about five minutes. It was the narrowest squeak I’ve had up to the time of writing. The Germans kept this up for an hour. It turned out afterwards that a wire-cutting party of the Worcester Regiment, who were in the next trench, met a bomb-throwing party of the Germans, and then the fun began. The Germans threw their bombs and killed the officer of the Worcesters, also wounding four men. A sergeant of the German detachment got lost, and came into the Worcesters’ trench by mistake. However, he did not escape, for a member of the Worcesters, who had fought in the South African campaign, caught him in the neck with his bayonet, unhooked him over the parapet, and three others pounced on the German and finished him.”
Lieut-Colonel H.C. Woodcock, O.C.3/6th Battalion Gloucester Regiment, who had originally commanded the 1/6th Battalion wrote movingly to Hubert’s father:
“It is with the deepest regret that I have heard of the death of your son, who had served so long with the 6th Gloucesters. You will probably remember that he served in my old “C” Company when I was Captain many years ago, and he formed one of a group of real good fellows for whom I have the greatest affection. You will understand in these circumstances how intensely I feel for you in your great trial, as I believe the whole of your son’s service was directly with me. During the time I was in command of the battalion in Essex, I had many opportunities of talking over with him the old times we had together in “C” Company, and I’m sure both of us had very pleasant memories of those days. He was always an enthusiastic and keen soldier, and especially since mobilisation has shown his true worth, and I am confident his loss will be felt, not only by his own Company comrades, but by the whole Battalion. It will always be a consolation to you to know that he died fighting for his country in the greatest crisis of our history, and I can only say how sincerely I feel for you, as I have myself had two nephews killed already. Will you be good enough to convey to his wife my sympathy in this greatest of all bereavements?”
Two pages of Hubert’s British Army WWI Pension Records survive. These show he had served in the Volunteer Force (as a 16 year old) since 27 February 1905 before the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908. His promotion to permanent rank of Corporal was confirmed only two months before his death.
Official notice of his death was also given in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of 6 July 1915’s Western Daily Press.
Hubert’s CWGC page (with the incorrect regimental number of 106) is here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/198906/cornock,-hubert-william/
Also note that Hubert is recorded by the CWGC as serving in “C” Company at the time of his death but the information provided at the time would seem to show he was actually serving in “A” Company. Lt Col. Woodcock’s letter indicates that, previously, he had served in “C” Company. Perhaps this is where the confusion arose?
266377 (formerly 4250) Private Henry J. ALLAWAY, 1/6th Battalion
Killed in action, 21 July 1916, commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme
Henry Allaway was born in St Werburgh’s in 1878 and was one of seven children.
He attended Stoke Bishop School and, upon leaving school, his first job was as a fishmonger’s errand boy. In 1899 he married Florence Elizabeth Thomas and they had three children. The family lived at 64 Chessel Street, Bedminster when war broke out (Henry is recorded as living here on the 1911 census). Henry employed as a boiler cleaner for the Electricity Depot.
From Henry’s Medal Index Card and lack of name on the 1914-15 Star Medal Roll it would seem that he did not proceed overseas with the 1/6th Battalion in March 1915 but at some point in 1916.
Henry was killed when aged 37 during an attack by the 1/6th Gloucesters on German positions near Ovillers some three weeks into the Battle of the Somme. There is a detailed write up of the action in the Battalion war diary.
Report on attack on the morning 21st July, 1916
Attacks were carried out in accordance with orders issued.
The attack by “A” Company on barricade at point 39 succeeded and by 3am was in our hands. Shortly afterwards, however, the enemy began bombing down the trench and making use of small bombs to cover their approach, they succeeded in bombing our party defending the barricade, and in rushing it.
A further party was sent up to the attack and the barricade was again taken, but 10 minutes later the enemy rushed barricade and recaptured it. The party then retired to our old barricade at point 37 and the enemy did not attempt to rush this.
Casualties in this attack: –
- 4 Killed
- 25 Wounded
The attack was successfully supported by the Stokes Gun until ammunition failed.
The attack on point 88 succeeded and by 3.45am “C” & “D” Companies were in touch on the line point 88 – point 28.
At about 4 am, enemy made an attempt to retake point 88, making a bombing attack across the top. This however, was successfully dealt with and driven off by our bombers and rifle and Lewis Gun fire.
Heavy casualties were known to be inflicted upon the enemy.
Casualties in this attack: –
- 2 Killed
- 25 Wounded
“B” Company, supported by “D” Company formed up for the attack on point 20 – point 62 from the trench running from point 26 towards point 47 and during the two minutes bombardment, worked their way forward.
When the barrage lifted they advanced to the attack but immediately came under very heavy machine-gun fire from both flanks.
The two leading platoons suffered very heavy casualties and were unable to get near enemy trench. Capt. ELLIOTT, commanding “B” Company was killed and 2/Lieuts. A.R. SMITH and H.E.H. SUTTON, severely wounded.
“D” Company of the 7th Worcesters on our right were also unable to get on and retirement came necessary.
Casualties in this attack: –
- 3 Killed
- 9 Missing
- 33 Wounded
Following this action Henry was originally posted as missing (perhaps this means he served in “B” or “D” Company?) but, with no news received of his fate, was officially declared dead by the authorities some months later. His name is included in a list of missing in the Western Daily Press of 11 November 1916.
Henry’s body was never formally identified. His remains may well still lie out in the fields of the Somme or could well have been found and buried under a headstone bearing the words ‘A Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God’. With no dedicated grave he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Henry’s CWGC page is here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/773137/HENRY%20J%20ALLAWAY/
242213 Private Albert John MARKS, 1/6th Battalion
Died of accidental injuries 3 June 1918, buried at at Dueville Communal Cemetery Extension, Italy
Albert John Marks was a pre-war member of the 6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment but his service had timed out prior to the declaration of war. He was working as a blacksmith outside Bristol at this point.
Sometime later Albert returned and enlisted in his old battalion. He was immediately transferred to the 5th Battalion and served with them during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where he was badly wounded and repatriated home. As Albert’s Medal Index Card shows no date for his arrival in France and he has no 1914-15 Star it is likely he joined the 1/5th Battalion at some point from January 1916 onwards.
After treatment and recovery Albert was sent back to France and posted to the 10th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, being wounded again in spring 1917. Once more he was repatriated home and, after treatment, returned to France, this time rejoining his pre-war, original battalion – the 6th Gloucesters. After their October 1917 actions the 1/6th Battalion (as part of 48th (South Midland) Division) moved to Italy.
In June 1918 Albert’s luck finally ran out. He was travelling in the back of a truck that went off the edge of the road and rolled down a hill, dying of accidental injuries on 3 June 1918. Albert is now buried in Plot 1, Row B, Grave 2 at Dueville Communal Cemetery Extension, north of Vicenza. It is understood the epitaph on his headstone was chosen by his mother:
‘He is not dead, but sleepeth’
Albert Marks’ CWGC page is here: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/640476/marks,-albert-john/
He left behind a widow, Mrs E. F. Marks of 58 Hayward Road, Barton Hill, Bristol. Our thanks to Dean Marks for this information and images.