Welcome to my blog......

The purpose of this blog is to remember the fallen heroes of the Great War, whose names are recorded on the memorial plaque situated in St Barnabas Church, New Whittington, Chesterfield.

To mark the centenary of World War 1 I aim to research all of the men on the memorial. I hope to ensure that the brave men who gave their lives for their country 100 years ago are remembered and each man's story told.

I would love to hear from anyone who may have information regarding the men; photos, letters or passed down memories. Any descendents are most welcome to contact me and I will provide copies of the research that I have undertaken.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left to grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them"

For The Fallen,
Laurence Binyon September 1914.

Friday, 15 May 2015



Private 10821

1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Died from wounds - 15th May 1915

On the top row, fourth column of the St Barnabas Church Memorial is the name G Booth.   As far as I can ascertain this inscription belongs to Ernest Booth, the G should be an E. 
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives the name Ernest Booth, son of Mr J Booth of 141 High Street, New Whittington; Private 10821 who died on 15th May 1915 aged 27 years old.  
Ernest was born in the spring of 1888 in the hamlet of Seymour close to the village of Staveley in Chesterfield.  He was the son of Joseph and Bridget Booth.  Joseph and Bridget married in 1882, their first son was born on 6th January 1883.  Named William Arthur he was baptised later that month on 25th January 1883. William was named after his maternal Grandfather William Gregory.
Two years later the Booth family celebrated the birth of a second son, this time named after his father, Joseph.  Baby Joseph was baptised on 7th February 1884 but sadly little Joseph died three months later and he was buried on 20th May 1884.
Next came a little girl named May, she was baptised on 4th June 1885 and was followed three years later by Ernest who was baptised on 5th April 1888.  Another brother followed Ernest in 1890 James was born, he was baptised on 21st January 1891.
The 1891 census shows the Booth family living at Lowgates, Staveley.  Joseph was aged 37 years old and worked as a coal miner, Bridget was a few years younger aged 31 years old.  Bridget had help from her widowed mother 61 year old Sarah Gregory who also lived with the family at this time.
Emily Booth was baptised on 4th January 1893, finally a sister for 7 year old May Booth.  The family moved from Lowgates at sometime during the next years as on the 1901 census they were living at 7 Springwell Row in New Whittington (next door to the Clewley family, Tom Clewley was also to lose his life during the Great War).  Ernest was aged 13 years old and has no documented occupation, his father and elder brother "Arthur" (William Arthur) were both working as coal miners. 
Military life beckons....
Ernest left his family and New Whittington to join the army.  He was 20 years and 3 months old when he enlisted to the Sherwood Foresters on 10th June 1908.  The service records have survived for Ernest and can be found on the Ancestry website.
Vital statistics for Ernest Booth on enlistment

Ernest was a tall young man at 6 feet in height, he weighed 164 lbs and was described as having grey eyes and dark hair.  He was recorded on the service record as having been employed as a coal miner prior to enlistment.
Ernest was now known as Private 10821 of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  He was thrown straight into his basic training which he undertook from 10th June 1908 until 4th January 1909.  On the 5th January 1909 Ernest set sail on a great adventure for a young man from New Whittington, he was off to India. 
The battalion were stationed at Secunderabad until 1912 when they moved on to Bombay.  Ernest would find himself in a totally new world, a world of extreme heat with the risk of disease, of a totally different culture.  Ernest most certainly would have experienced life from a new perspective than the small village of New Whittington where the men folk disappeared down the mine shafts to work each day.

The 1911 census shows Ernest was stationed in India as part of the British Army who were there to oversee Imperial affairs.  He served a total of 5 years 241 days in India.
Life back in England....

Joseph and Bridget Booth remained in New Whittington, Joseph was 57 years old by now and still worked as a coal miner hewer.  Some of the family had also fled the nest but James (22 years old) and Emily (19 years old) remained at the family home of 205 High Street, New Whittington.  There is a new addition to the family however, a little girl named Ethel Booth is recorded on the 1911 census page, she is noted as "Grand daughter" of Joseph.

William Arthur is living just up the road at number 133 High Street, New Whittington.  He is aged 28 years old and is employed as a coal miner hewer.  William is recorded as being single but the 1911 census appears to show that he is living as a married couple with a lady named Hannah Binns.  Hannah has a son named Henry Binns who was 9 years old on the census and born in Bradford.  Then there are two more children; William Arthur Booth aged 5 years old and Albert Ernest Booth aged 3 years old.  Both children were born in New Whittington.

May Booth married a local lad named Joseph Bennison, they married in 1906.  The young couple had made their home at 7 Queen Street, Warsop and had a young son named George Bennison aged just 3 years old.  The young girl living with Joseph and Bridget Booth as their grand daughter looks likely to have been the daughter of May Booth prior to her marriage to Joseph Bennison (the birth certificate would be required to confirm my theory).  Ethel May Booth was baptised at St Barnabas Church on 14th April 1904, the daughter of a May Booth.
Ernest's war....

On 31st August 1914 the Battalion received orders to prepare to return to England, they were stationed in Bombay at the time.  Embarkation was rushed but on 2nd September the troops set sail on the H.T Thongwa for England, calling at Aden and Port Said en-route they arrived in Plymouth at 12 noon on 2nd October 1914.  The H.T Thongwa was a passenger/cargo ship built for the use of the British India Company in 1903.  It was commissioned by P&O in June of 1914 and later that year became the Indian Expeditionary Force transport ship, returning the troops to England to join the British Expeditionary Force.

The men moved on to camp at Hursley Park where they remained until they received orders and commenced marching to Southampton at 14.30 on 4th November 1914. 
The 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters set sail for Le Havre at 1am on 5th November 1914 on board the S.S Cardiganshire.  Having spent one month on British soil, hopefully Ernest was granted leave to return home to New Whittington and spend some time with his family there. Ernest and his comrades of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters found themselves setting out to fight and survive in the bitter winter months of Europe, a far cry from the tropical heat they had become accustomed to in India.

The battalion went straight into action, seeing their first battle only days later on 16th November 1914.  In the coming few days the battalion gave the following figures - "other ranks; 4 killed, 18 wounded, 1 missing".

The tremendous difference in the climate can be seen when on the 24th November 1914 at Red Barn the war diary states "There were a large number of admissions to hospital today ie 55 of whom 53 were admitted suffering from frost bite.  Making a total in two days of 70 admissions from frost bite".

On 1st December 1914 the battalion were treat to a rare occasion of celebration when they lined the streets of La Gorgue "for the arrival of H.M The King who motored through the town on his visit to see the Expeditionary Forces; he was accompanied by H.R.H The Prince of Wales, F.M Sir John French, the president of the French Republique and General Joffre" 

Throughout the month of December 1914 and on into the early months of 1915 the weather continued to be bad, it was either frost or wet, snowstorms were mentioned in January; all meant the conditions the men had to survive in were terrible. The war diary gives figures showing almost daily men wounded, missing or killed. 

The month of May 1915 dawned and the battalion were based at Rue Du Bois within ear shot of the heavy shelling in Ypres.  On 3rd May they relieved the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment  in No 2 trench and the day was reported as "quiet".  They remained in the trench one day and were relived by the 2nd Scottish Rifles on 4th May 1915, another quiet day.  On 5th May the battalion took part in training ready for the coming attack which was planned for 9th May. 

9th May 1915....

The figures read as follows; "Killed 3 officers, 52 other ranks, Wounded 12 officers, 245 other ranks, Missing 1 officer, 46 other ranks".  Poignantly no account of the days events are recorded in the war diary for the 9th May 1915, the account can be found later in the diary written as a reflective summary -

The battalion left their billets late on the night of the 8th May and moved to the assembly trenches at near by Rue Petillon.  Their bombardment commenced at 05.00am on 9th May 1915 but owing to the heavy machine gun fire the actual attack was slightly delayed until 6.10am when the war diary chillingly states "our leading platoons started to leap over the parapet of the trench".  Unfortunately it was found that the original attack had not been hard enough and the Germans had not been sufficiently bombarded to cause them difficulties.  The Germans were holding their own and fighting back and in fact had held all their parapet positions untouched.  They had 8 machine guns firing straight at the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters and the East Lancashire Regiment who were by their side.

The 1st Sherwood Foresters changed the direction of their attack but still came up against even heavier German attack.  The message was passed up the line from the G.O.C "Stop advance".  Further investigation of the messages application to the 24th Brigade, of which the 1st Sherwood Foresters were part of, proved that the order did not apply.  The order was to reorganise and then continue to attack supporting the East Lancashire Regiment. The battle carried on throughout the day, at some points the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters were laid open out of the trenches waiting for back up to progress further. 

The Germans continued bombarding the battalion with shells until around 7.30pm when they began aiming high explosives at the battalion's trenches, the results were catastrophic, killing and wounding many men.  More significantly the war diary records that "the men were becoming demoralised and started crowding down the trenches to our right".  The situation could have continued this way but for the bravery of the Lieutenant Miller who saw the men and decided to lead by example; "with the up most coolness and gallantry ran along the ...... line and by his personal example saved the situation".  The men of the 1st Battalion returned to their positions and "returned the hot rifle fire of the Germans". 

At just after 10pm the battalion were relieved by the Worcestershire Regiment.  Sadly the day was still not over as on trying to return to the billets and safety the battalion kept finding themselves under enemy fire.  They eventually reached Rouge De Bout at 1am on Monday 10th May.

11th May 1915 was a day of rest for the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  They received a visit from General Oxley who "congratulated Capt Wayte on the behaviour of the regiment and said how well they had performed and that they had been given an impossible task".

Ernest was wounded in action on 9th May 1915, he received a gun shot wound to his thigh.  He was admitted to the field hospital the next day but his condition must have required further treatment and so on 11th May he was transferred back to England upon the HMHS Anglia arriving in England on 12th May 1915.

The ship HMHS Anglia was a steam ship which had been requisitioned during WW1 and used as a hospital ship.  On 17th November 1915 she hit a German mine and was sunk in a quick 15 minutes.  There were 390 crew and patients on the ship but nearby ships the HMS Hazard and the Lusitania helped evacuate as many as possible; sadly 134 people lost their lives as the ship went down.

Private Ernest Booth died of injuries caused by his wounds on 15th May 1915.  He was being cared for at the 4th London General Hospital, Denmark Hill, London.

Grave of Private E Booth
Photo taken by author (c) copyright

Ernest returned to New Whittington and he is buried in the graveyard of St Bartholomew's Church in the centre of the village.

Ernest was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star for his service during WW1.  But we must remember that WW1 was only a small proportion of the overall service Ernest gave to his King and Country; in total he served 6 years and 340 days.

Although Ernest was born in Staveley he is not remembered on the Staveley War Memorial.

Life went on....

Family recorded as Ernest Booth's next of kin 1919
via www.ancestry.co.uk

Joseph & Bridget Booth

Joseph Booth may have died in 1934 aged 81 years old, this would however need confirming further.

Derbyshire Times 22nd April 1896

Looking in the local newspaper the Derbyshire Times a Bridget Booth appears several times.  Generally for being drunk and causing a nuisance, it looks like Bridget was one feisty lady.  The article above describes her disagreement with a neighbour Rachel Limb in 1896.

There is a death for a Bridget Booth registered in 1923, however it gives the year of birth as slightly older than documented.  As the name is fairly rare in the Chesterfield area it may well be the death of Ernest's mother.

William Arthur Booth

William or Arthur as he was known eventually married Hannah Binns in 1928.

May Booth

May was married to Joseph Bennison, sadly the Bennison family suffered losses during WW1; Joseph lost his brothers George and James Bennison.  The two brothers are also named on the St Barnabas Memorial and their stories will be told on this blog at a later date.

For May and Joseph life continued, their little family grew; Ernest born 1913, Miriam born 1915, James born 1917 and May born 1921.  What became of the little girl named Ethel May Booth is unknown at this time.

Joseph Bennison may have died in 1948 and May in 1960 however these dates have not been checked with death certificates.

James Booth & Emily Booth

The younger two siblings have not been easy to follow as the names are fairly common, without purchasing marriage and death certificates I am afraid I cannot confirm what became of them, however if anyone can add to their stories please do let me know.

If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Ernest Booth or his parents or siblings please do either leave comments via the pen icon below or drop me an email.

Reference and further reading -
Parish Registers
Medal Rolls
Service Records www.ancestry.co.uk
Soldiers who died in the Great War
Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times
1st Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment -

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