The first Crich Volunteers

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Recruits to Shewood Foresters in 1914

Ian P. Macdonald; William Burr; William Curzon; John Walker; Nelson Martin;
Jack Kneebone; William Frost; Walter (Wammy) Mellors; Jack Cauldwell;
Jack Porter; George Perry; Noble Tomlinson

The photograph of eleven Crich volunteers hoping to enlist in the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) was taken in the grounds of “Roskeen”, Surgery Lane, Crich on 19 October 1914. Eight of these young men were either killed, taken prisoner of war, gassed or wounded. Two were discharged through illness. One was not enlisted into the Foresters as he was under-age.

Ian Pendlebury Macdonald (1982–1987) at the outbreak of war, he attended a public schools’ officers’ training camp at Epsom Downs, and subsequently, in 1914, returned to Crich to raise the first unit of volunteers from the local parish. Although the photographs shows him wearing the uniform of an officer in the Foresters he never served with this regiment. He talks about raising this group of volunteers during his oral history interview, produced by the Imperial War Museum in 1985. You can hear him talk about raising the volunteers on Reel 1 at https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80008940.


William Enoch Burr (1894–1965) was known as Billy Burr. Born in Lincolnshire he had moved to Crich working for the Vaughan Taylor family at “The Mount” on Bowns Hill. He entered France in June 1915 and was reported missing in action in July 1916. He was mistakenly thought to have been “killed in action” and was recorded as such on the Church Roll of Honour. Actually he had been taken prisoner of war at Gommercourt and was imprisoned at Camp K33, Munster, Germany. Whilst a prisoner he was sent to work in a mine where he received an injury to his leg – leaving him partially disabled. He was repatriated and discharged in February 1919 aged twenty-five with a disability allowance and the Silver War Badge. After the war he returned to live in Lincolnshire.


William Thomas Ellis Curzon (1890–1935) was employed as a coal miner before enlistment, entering France in 1915. The Sherwood Foresters’ records mention him rescuing men buried under sandbags at Kemmel during May 1915. Later he was recorded as keeping two guns in action at Hooge and was Mentioned in Dispatches. During March 1917 he was wounded and had his left arm amputated. Aged twenty-seven he was discharged, awarded the Silver War Badge, and returned to Crich to become the village postmaster.


John Thomas Grice Walker (1885–1934) was born in Heage and raised by his widowed grandmother. He was married and had worked as a platelayer before his enlistment. By 1918 he had been twice gassed, twice wounded and twice suffered from shell shock. He was honourably discharged in 1919 and was awarded the Silver War Badge.
Nelson Bollington Martin (1899–1967) was also known as Nelson Martin Bollington, his parents were Sarah Bollington and William Martin. Although on the photograph was not allowed to join the Foresters as was under-aged (he was fifteen at the time). Not to be denied serving, Nelson and best friend John Berresford enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders with consecutive regimental numbers (both sixteen at the time). During 1918 Nelson was wounded in the knee and his friend John Berresford killed in action aged seventeen. Both probably lied about their ages on enlistment as the records indicate that John was nineteen when killed. After the war Nelson married and worked on the LMS railway as a locomotion fireman.


John (Jack) Thomas Kneebone (1896–1917) was born at Crich and was employed at the Manor Colliery, South Wingfield before his enlistment. Initially, during early November 1917, he was reported as “missing” but later his death confirmed as 20 September 1917. Along with many other soldiers whose remains were never found he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, near Passchendale, Belgium.


William Frost (1897–1917) was born at Crich and volunteered with his cousin George Wragg both aged seventeen. William was sent to the Western Front in September 1914. The Foresters were moved into Flanders where he fought at the Battle of Cambrai becoming wounded on 20 November 1917. He died of his wounds the following day, aged twenty-one, and is buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manacourt. His cousin George Wragg was to become a prisoner of war at the Limberg and Lager Langensalsa Camps.


Walter (Wammy) Mellors (1895–1963) was a quarryman before he volunteered. He entered France in June 1915 and was wounded by a grenade at Gommecourt before being taken as a prisoner of war and imprisoned at Soltau Camp. After the war he married and for a time worked as a vanman.


Jack Cauldwell (1896–1975), was born at Heage. He was aged eighteen working in a local pit when he volunteered for service. Jack entered France in June 1915 and in January 1919 was discharged owing to wounds received. He was awarded the Silver War Badge.


John (Jack) William Porter (1891–1975) was a Crich born limestone quarryman who entered France in March 1916. He was wounded twice, once in the hand and later in the neck (he was shipped back to the UK for hospital treatment). He was honourable discharged in February 1919 with the Silver War Badge. He married in November 1918 and served in the Home Guard during WW2. He was employed in the local brick works.


George Perry (1893–1917) was a quarryman before volunteering. He was killed in action on 29 October 1917 when a shell exploded in his dug-out. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, near Passchendale, Belgium.
Arthur Noble Blanche Tomlinson (1890–1969) worked as a door machinist before volunteering. He entered France in June 1915 but was discharged through ill health in October 1916 receiving the Silver War Badge.

Arthur Noble Blanche Tomlinson (1890–1969) worked as a door machinist before volunteering. He entered France in June 1915 but was discharged through ill health in October 1916 receiving the Silver War Badge.


On 30 October 1914 a second photograph was taken, eleven days after the first. Apart from Nelson Martin Bollington, who had not been enrolled owing to being under-age, all the men on the first photograph are included on the second.

Photo CHP archive

Crich Volunteers 1914

Names in italic have a degree of uncertainty

1 Ian Pendlebury MACDONALD

2 Stephen Bollington

3 John Thomas Grice WALKER

4 John William (Jack) PORTER

5 Walter MELLOWS/MELLORS

6

7 John Thomas (Jack) KNEEBONE

8 Arthur Blancho Noble TOMLINSON

9 Billy Curzon

10 Billy Burr or Edwin Street

11 Henry (Harry) CAULDWELL

12

13

14

15

16 George Perry

17 Arthur Few

18 Samuel Bowmer

19 Job Henry (Harry) REDFERN

20 George WRAGG

21 William FROST

22

Of the men pictured in the 19/10/14 photograph only Nelson Martin is not included in this photo as he was under-age and not enlisted into the Foresters.

Other men who volunteered in 1914 and may be on this photograph include –

Walter Allen (1891–1965) was recorded on the Belper News and Derbyshire Telephone Roll of Honour dated 13 November 1914. He was also on the Ambergate wireworks Roll of Honour as serving with the 5th Sherwood Foresters. After the war he married and lived in Sawmills.

Arthur Allwood (1892–1985) was Crich born living at Wakebridge. Working at Lea Mills he enlisted there, along with several workmates, on 21 October 1914. After a few months he was discharged as being medically unfit for war service.

Alfred Bollington (Martin) (1895–1973) a quarryman who enlisted in August 1914 at the same time as fellow Crich men William Thomas Curzon, John Thomas Walker, Walter Mellors and Jack Cauldwell; they had consecutive service numbers. He was wounded in the knee in October 1918 and on his discharge received a certificate in recognition of his bravery at Kemmel displaying conspicuous courage and gallantry in firing his trench mortar under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, enabling the infantry to advance. After the war he married and moved to Worksop where was employed as a colliery hewer. In WW2, he was a first aid worker and was in the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) organisation. Alfred was a member of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.

Samuel Bowmer (1894–1970) entered France with the Foresters on 11 November 1914. The Derbyshire Courier dated 7 November 1916 reported that he had been wounded. After the war he married and lived in the Sutton in Ashfield district.

Percy William Brann (1888–1917) was working on a farm at Plaistow Green when he enlisted in September 1914. Previously to joining the colours he had served with the Army in India. Percy was killed in action 5 March 1917 and is interred at Foncquevillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Three of his work colleagues from the farm were also killed during the war.

Luke Coleman (1888–1916) was a keen footballer, playing for Crich United, who enlisted with Duncan Cooke in October 1914. He was a quarryman. In July 1916 he was reported missing, this was later updated to “killed in action”. He is interred at Gommecourt Wood New Cemetery, Foncquevillers, Pas de Calais. Another Crich man, John Maurice Gibson is also buried there.

Tom Coleman (1895–1974) like his brother Luke was a keen footballer, playing for Crich United. He enlisted 20 October aged nineteen, a stone quarryman and entered France in April 1917 where he was transferred firstly into the Durham Light Infantry then into the Labour Corps. In April 1918 he was transferred back to the UK suffering from some illness before being discharged with the Silver War Badge a year later. After the war he married and worked on the railways.

Duncan Cooke (1893–1918) enlisted at Crich on 28 October 1914 aged twenty-one, at the same time as Luke Coleman. Duncan entered France June 1915 and died of pneumonia in November 1918. He was buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

Arthur Few (1877–1924) previous to enlisting had served as regular soldier seeing action in the Egyptian War at the relief of Khartoum. He re-enlisted with the Foresters on 12 August 1914 and was in France by the December. After the war ended he rejoined into the Royal Engineers to help in the clean-up operations in France. He was unmarried and lived with his sister and husband at Ambergate. He had been employed at the Ambergate wireworks.

William Fox (1892–1924) was a miner who had previously enlisted with the Connaught Ranges in 1911, serving in India with them. In 1914 he joined the Foresters and entered France in November 1914. In 1915 he was wounded at Neuve Chapelle and was for a time at the Magdalene Hospital, Exeter. Whilst in the UK he married before returning to serve in the east where once again he was wounded. He transferred back into the Connaught Rangers in March 1917 and served with them in Mesopotamia.

John Maurice Gibson (1895–1916) a Crich born man although not a volunteer (he was already a serving soldier) was embodied into the Sherwood Foresters in August 1914. He entered France in March 1915 and during the following June was twice wounded. John was killed in action 1 July 1916 and interred at Gommecourt Wood New Cemetery, Foncquevillers, Pas de Calais. Another Crich man, Luke Coleman is also buried there.

Charles Richard Mason (1881–1938) was a married stonemason who enlisted in August 1914. He entered France in March 1915 ad was wounded several times during his service. After the war he was involved with the Old Comrades Club, Crich and in 1932 represented them at a commemoration ceremony at Theipval on the Somme.

George William Parnham (1890–1951) enlisted in August 1914 at Mansfield, a coal miner aged twenty-four. During the fighting at Ypres in 1917 he received a serious bullet wound which resulted in his repatriation back to the UK where his leg was amputated. He was discharged with the Silver War Badge in 1917 and married shortly afterwards. In 1904 he was a footballer with Crich Brigade Football Club.
Hubert (Bert) Petts (1896–1916) worked at Lea Mills and was one of the workers who enlisted there in September 1914. He entered France in July 1915 and was then killed in action at St. Eloi on 3rd March 1916. His death is commemorated at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, on the Lea Mills Memorial and on the Alderwasley Memorial .

Robert Pierpoint (1898–1957) was part of the farming family at Culland Farm, Crich. It seems he originally volunteered with the Foresters on 24 October 1914 then was transferred into the Machine Gun Corps when this regiment was formed in October 1915. He was wounded in May 1917 and later discharged with the Silver War Badge. After the war he and his wife settled in the Mansfield district where he became a Methodist preacher and served in the Home Guard during WW2.

Job Henry (Harry) Redfern (1899–1972) lived at Whatstandwell when war started, enlisting on 29 October 1914 (whilst under-age). He was awarded the Silver War Badge upon his discharge in September 1918 owing to ill-health. It seems that he did not serve abroad. After his discharge he married and worked behind the scenes in theatres.

Edwin Joshua Street (1878–1958) was a stone mason who enlisted on 12 September 1914 and entered France during May 1915. He became ill and was discharged with the Silver War Badge in 1916. After the war he lived at Whatstandwell working as a stone mason.
Walter Edmund Wetton (Killer) (1892–1963) was brought up by his uncle and aunt, Samuel and Margaret Killer, consequently was also known as Walter Killer. After enlisting in August 1914 he entered France in February 1915. Walter was wounded by shrapnel in September 1915 and hospitalised. In April 1919 he was discharged the results of wounds received being awarded the Silver War Badge. He had married during 1916. After the war he moved to Stavely

George Wragg (1897–1973) enlisted with his cousin William Frost when they were both just seventeen. George was wounded in his left leg in April 1917 at Ypres spending a month at Cambrai hospital. He was then taken as a prisoner of war to the Limberg and Lager Langensalsa Camps. Along with a Canadian PoW he managed to escape for eleven days but was recaptured sixty miles short of the Swiss boarder. In later life he became an invalid.


Photo Barbara Singleton

Crich volureers soldiers

Soldiers marching up Cromford Road, just beyond the Cross.
Believe the banner to be for Derbyshire Royal Infirmary.
Soldiers believed to be Sherwood Forester volunteers pre WW1.
Date unknown – cerca early 1900s?

Photo Ken Pykett

WW1 soldiers

Local men assembling at Ripley before setting off for war, August 1914

Photo Ken Pykett

WW1 soldiers

5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters marching from Ripley Drill Hall on Shirley Road.
Recalled from Filey Training Camp Sunday and mobilized the next day, 4th August 1914

Photo Tony Holmes

WW1 soldiers

E Company, 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on August 16th 1914 marching through Matlock Bath en route to Chesterfield