On these days 3rd to 14th December 1917

The 2/6th Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters


4.25am: Battalion relieved by 2/6th Warwicks. Moved to VILLERS PLUICH.

10.0 am: Moved to MOLE TRENCH in L31.a.10.3 near RIBECOURT.

4.12.17 10.30 pm: Moved to trenches in Q4 at TRESCAULT.

TRESCAULT 5.12.17 to 8.12.17: Battalion in Reserve at Q4.

Men killed at this time were:-

242321 Pte Ernest Summers aged 20 and the Son of Stephen and Margaret Susannah Summers, of 13, Ward St., New Tupton, Chesterfield. Ernest was attached to the 178th Trench Mortar Battery. Three men from the 178 TMB were killed that day when they were constructing mortar positions at K17d.90.50.

242026 Pte Harry West, Husband of A. B. B. West, of 87, Wick Rd., Homerton, London. Harry was only of the ‘Londoners” who were posted to the 2/6th Battalion in September 1916.

They were originally buried in Flesquieres Chateau Cemetery at 24a.8.6., but their bodies were exhumed in 1930 and moved to Orival Wood British Cemetery.

9.12.17 6pm: Battalion moved up to FLESQUIERES.

10.12.17 1.30am: Relieved 2/5th Lincolns in front line K18.a&b

11.12.17 to 13.12.17: Battalion occupied front line in K18.a&b.

14.12.17 2am: Battalion relieved by 2/5 South Staffs.

During this trench duty the following men were killed:

242230 Pte Maurice Victor Cousins aged 19 and the son of Luke and Maria Cousins, of Coton, Cambridgeshire. Formerly of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, but only served overseas with the 2/6th Battalion.

240931 Pte Thomas Wherret who enlisted in October 1914 and was a shop lad from Matlock. He was a sniper and died at the 21st CCS. He was sniping when he was hit by a fragment of shell. 

26963 Pte Walter Knowles aged 19 and the son of John and Mary Knowles, of River Hill Side, Matlock.

242013 Pte Walter Harwood from Dulwich

Enlisted in June 1916 and was one of the Londoners posted to the 2/6th Battalion in September 1916; made prisoner of War during the Battle of Cambria.

Walter enlisted in June 1916 and arrived in France with the 2/6th Battalion in February 1917. He was captured on the 1st December 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai when he was wounded in the arm and leg. He was interned in Dulman POW Camp and was demobilised in March 1919 and awarded a pension.

Walter died in May 1922.

4762/201761 Pte Arthur ‘Jack’ Baldwin

Served with the 1/5th Battalion in France from 1916; wounded twice with “A” Company, the 10th Battalion.

Jack seated left with the three men that appear to belong to the Robin Hood Rifles.

Jack has a 4-digit Regimental number indicating that he arrived in France before the 1917 Territorial Force renumbering. He was still serving with the 1/5th Battalion at the time if renumbering. At some point he transferred to the 10th Battalion. Jack was later wounded in April 1918.

1433/305127 Sergeant William Henry Drabble from Southwell

A pre-War Territorial who arrived in France in March 1915 and was killed in action on the 4th October 1917.

Post card sent from Sergeant William Henry Drabble to his mother Alice from Braintree in early 1915. The message describes a planned Inspection by the King, which occurred on the 19th February 1915.

William would have first served with “H” (Southwell) Company and then with “B” (Newark and Southwell) Company when they merged in early 1915.

William is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe (grave ref. II.U5) along with his 3 comrades that died during that trench duty.

“Our most unpleasant experience undoubtedly was on October 4th when we got caught in the bombardment connected with an attempted Boche raid on the 7th Battalion whom we were relieving … B Company unfortunately got mixed up with some of the shelling and lost several men, including Sergt. Drabble, who was killed.

[The Sherwood Foresters in the Great War 1914-1919, 1/8th Battalion]

“Information has been received by Mr. and Mrs. Drabble, Easthorpe, Southwell, that their eldest son, Serge. W. H. Drabble, Sherwood Foresters was killed in action on October 4th, two days prior to his 23rd birthday. Sergt. Drabble was offered a commission in February last, but he declined. For nearly 12 months prior to the War, Sergt. Drabble was assistant with Mr. G. T. Smith, grocer, Bridge Place, Worksop, by whom he was highly esteemed. Of a very genial disposition, he made many friends amongst the young men in the town. He was a keen footballer and a member of the Worksop Thursday Team. The news of his death will be deeply felt by his friends in Worksop, and their sympathy will go out to his parents in their bereavement.

[Worksop Guardian 2 November 1917]

After the War William’s mother received a pension.

2512/305608 L/Cpl Ellis William Hudson, a miner from Mansfield

Enlisted into the 8th Battalion in August 1914, arrived in France in June 1915 (1st Reinforcement), transferred to 2/8th and 2/6th Battalions, wounded and made a Prisoner of War on 21st March 1918. Disembodied in March 1919.

In the 1911 Census we can see that Ellis is a 19 year old coal miner living with his extended family in Newgate Lane, Mansfield.

Service with the 1/8th and 2/8th Battalions: 1914-1918

Ellis enlisted into the (2/)8th Battalion in August 1914 and signed the Imperial Service Agreement at Mansfield. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in December 1914 and arrived in France in June 1915 with the 1st Reinforcement.

It would appear that at some point in the Summer of 1917, Ellis was transferred to England (possibly through being wounded) and he married Edith Brough. However, his wounding is not mentioned on his Military History Sheet.

Ellis returned to France and was posted to the 2/8th Battalion on 20th September 1917 and later transferred to the 2/6th Battalion in January 1918 when the 2/8th Battalion were disbanded.

Kaiserschlacht – the German Spring Offensive: 21st March 1918

A “Next of Kin” record for Ellis Hudson, which records that he wrote home in April 1918 and that a Red Cross List from September 1918 records that he was in Munster II POW Camp. It also records that he had been wounded in the fingers and shoulder.

Repatriation and Discharge: Jan-Feb 1919

Ellis was repatriated to England in December 1918 and following a letter from his pre-War employers, “The Bolsover Colliery Company Limited”, he relinquished his unexpired portion of the 2 months released Prisoner of War leave and returned to work.

Ellis was awarded a pension died in October 1975 aged 83.

2439/331067 Pte James Kirk from Burbage

Enlisted in October 1914 and was wounded at Ypres in July 1915. Following hospital treatment he was transferred to the 29th Battalion and then to the Royal Engineers.

Many thanks to Alison Mcbrayne who has kindly provided these images and documents about her grandfather.

This is his story…….

James was born in 1897 and in the 1911 Census he was living with his extended family in Ash Cottage in Burbage, close to Buxton. At that time he was as a telegraph messenger.

He enlisted into the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters in early October 1914 and proceeded to France with them in February 1915. In the photo above he is carrying a ‘Long Lee’ Enfield rifle and1908 pattern webbing.

James is seen here with two of his pals. He is wearing an Imperial Service Badge and has a Lewis Gun ‘skill-at-arms’ badge on his left sleeve. This picture was possibly taken whilst the 1/6th Battalion were training at Harpenden in the summer of 1914; although the Lewis Guns had not been issues to the Army at that time, so it is also possibly taken in France during the Sumer of 1915.

Around the 3rd/4th July 1915, James was badly wounded in the chest, most likely during the shelling of a working party travelling through Ypres – see here.

Most likely the piece of shrapnel that wounded James in the chest at Ypres.

James was carried to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station for treatment.

“Dear Mrs Kirk, your son is in our hospital suffering from wounds. He has been very poorly but is better today. We are hoping that he will get on well now. He gets all the comfort and attention possible and I hope to be able to send you good news concerning him in a few days, yours sincerely RE Jones, Chaplain”

“Dear Mrs Kirk, your sone continues to make good progress. He may leave us any moment for a Base Hospital, but where that will be I cannot say. I hope he will be with you before many weeks are over. I sat with him this morning and he showed me a photograph of the house and of you, yours sincerely RE Jones.

Jame’s own diary records his wounding at Ypres.

“Wounded July 3rd .. 4th .. 1915 at Ypres, went to clearing station at Popperinge. Left Popperinge July 13th for Boulogne General Hospital. X-rayed three times and had 1 1/2 pints of blood pumped off my stomach. Left Boulogne for England July 26th. Sailed on SS Oxfordshire arrived at Southampton July 27th, and was sent down to Exeter where I was admitted into No 1 VA Hospital. Got up first time for two hrs. August 1st also on 3rd, 4th, 5th for two hours each day.”

“Taken seriously ill Aug 6th. Operated on Aug 23rd had over two pints of matter (puss) taken off chest. King and Queen visited hospital Sept 8th. Got up Sept 21st. Left Exeter for VA Hospital Budleigh Salterton Oct 14th. Taken ill again Oct 23rd. Got up again November 3rd. Left Budleigh Salterton for convalescent home at North Malton on Nov 27th. Left N Malton for No 5 VA Hospital Exeter to go before Medical Board on December 4th.

“Went before Medical Board on December 6th. Left Exeter for Convalescent Hospital at Topsham on December 10th. Went before Medical Board again at Exeter on Feb 9th 16. Discharged from Hospital at Topsham February 12th. Reported at the 29th Provisional Battalion on February 22nd.”

A group of convalescing men; possibly taken in the summer of 1915. James is seated 2nd from the left and wearing his Notts & Derby cap badge.

James and a pal. This is most likely taken after he was posted to the 29th Battalion at that time stationed at Walton-on-Naze in Essex because James is wearing a single wound stripe and a single overseas chevron on his left sleeve. James was still serving with the 29th(PB)/21st Battalion when they were renumbered in March 1917; his new number was 331067.

James later transferred to the Royal Engineers, where he served as a sapper with the Railway Operation Division.

Possibly taken after James had transferred to the Royal Engineers because he is wearing a lanyard on his left shoulder and he has no Notts & Derby shoulder badges.

James was eventually discharged in February 1919 and received a pension.