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.

Sunday, 14 February 2016



Private 18951

10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Missing presumed dead - 14th February 1916

John William Longmate was the first born child of James and Emily Longmate.  He was born in Brimington close to New Whittington in 1896.

James William, John's father was a local man, born in Staveley he worked as a moulder at the local iron foundry.  James married Emily Augusta Evans on 1st January 1896 at St John The Baptist Church in the centre of Staveley Town. 

Not long after in 1897 John's little sister arrived, named Elizabeth she was born on 11th December 1897.  In 1901 the family were living at 9 Canal Row, Staveley.  Another son was born on 18th June 1901 named Robert Edward and then on 26th March 1904 James Harold was born.

1911 census
The 1911 census finds the family have moved home and were now living in New Whittington.  They lived at 105 High Street, James was still employed as an iron moulder and John now aged 14 was following in his fathers footsteps as an apprentice iron moulder.  Elizabeth, Robert and James Harold would all still have been attending school.  The census form also states that there was another child born to James and Emily which had sadly died. 

John William Longmates war....

Unfortunately the service records for John have not survived but a newspaper article states that John joined up in the November of 1914.  If this was correct then John would only have been around 18 years old when he enlisted.  He joined the 10th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment, a local regiment he probably went along with a friend or two to enlist.

The 10th Battalion was a service battalion, formed in September of 1914 at Derby it was part of Kitcheners New Army.  Known as K2 this call for men was the second recruitment drive in just over one month.  The men would be signing a contract for "General Service" to serve for up to three years or the remainder of the war, whichever was the longest. 

On arrival in France on 15th July 1915 the battalion rested before taking the train the next day to St Omer.  The next days were spent marching to various billets.  On 18th July the men marched into Ebblingham, the war diary tells "the French watched two companies march in - much impressed!".

By 27th July they had reached Hooge, where they remained until 3rd August.  In this time they "witnessed the loss of some trenches and the failure of a counter attack.... total casualties during their stay; 14 other ranks wounded".   Interestingly, the diary also recalls "each company except D Company was able to send its men into the trenches for 24 hrs instruction while in the Ouderdom Road and at Reninghelst, fortunately without any casualties". 

August 1915 saw the battalion remaining in the Ouderdom and Reninghelst area.  They were to witness a German mine explode at 6.50pm on 21st August.  The enemy then carried out a short bombardment on the trenches occupied by the 10th Battalion, but luckily there was no damage or any casualties. 

The men remained in the trenches at Chateau Lankhof for five days of heavy bombardment.  On 25th August "2/Lieut Wilmot + 4 O.R wounded by a whizzbang". 

On 31st to 1st September the men marched to trenches in Sanctuary Wood, they were detached from the 51st Brigade and now attached to the 9th Brigade "for a special purpose".  The battalion joined the 7th Border Regiment.  The war diary describes the trenches in detail stating "the trenches were in good condition but were not riveted at all nor were the approach trenches boarded in most of their length.  36 hours rain on 2nd & 3rd caused many of the trenches to fall in and made much of the approach trenches impassable.  During our stay of 14 days much of this was remedied; the approach and reserve trenches were widened and riveted and duck boarding put down practically throughout; parapets were rebuilt and riveted ".  The battalion worked both in daylight and under the stars, which enabled them to build a new communication trench which was aptly named "Sherwood Road". 

During the days when the battalion were busy carrying out the above duties, mending the trenches, the enemy were carrying out heavy bombardment of Sanctuary Wood and Zouave Wood.  The battalion suffered casualties;
1st September 2 other ranks wounded

2nd September 1 other rank killed, 4 wounded
3rd September 8 other ranks wounded
5th September 2/lt Howard wounded, 1 other rank wounded
6th September 2 other ranks wounded
7th September 1 other rank wounded
8th September 2/Lieut Hutcheson killed by a sniper
9th September 1 other rank wounded
11th September 4 other ranks wounded
12th September 2 other ranks wounded
13th September Major Young killed, 4 other ranks wounded.

After such a tiring two weeks the men were rewarded with a whole five days rest in which they spent their time resting, playing football and boxing.  The relaxation time was over all too soon and they were soon back in the thick of it.  On 25th and 26th September the battalion took part in the battle at Hooge.  Their objective being to protect the right flank from attack, however over the two days they came under heavy enemy shell fire; total casualties - 2/Lieut Chandler and Chapman slightly wounded, 7 other ranks killed, 50 other ranks wounded and 1 other rank missing.

John may well have been present at the end of October 1915 when the men were relieving in the trenches near Sanctuary Wood, when "bands were heard playing in the enemy's line, on two or three occasions".  The war diary goes on to tell "on two fine mornings the enemy aeroplanes were extremely active and dropped smoke bombs on some material lying in the open, which was promptly shelled".
Christmas 1915 was spent in the trenches near Ypres.  On Christmas eve Lieutenant A G Shaw was shot dead by an enemy sniper.  "Christmas day was a quiet day in the trenches, troops were warned against relaxing their vigilance and there was a little artillery action".

The war diary finishes 1915 with the following entry, describing the 30th and 31st and the month of December 1915 -
"These two days were spent in rest camp.
Casualties for month of December
Lieut A. G. Shaw killed
22 O.R killed
38 O.R wounded
9 O.R wounded slightly at duty.
A very tiring and trying month for all ranks"

1916 dawns....

John and his comrades remained in the rest camp, they ate a New Years dinner "to the satisfaction of all ranks" and a second draft of 57 ordinary ranks arrived to make up the falling numbers.  Maybe, 1916 was going to be a good year? Were the men feeling positive optimism?

On 3rd January 1916 the battalion were marched to the Ypres ramparts to relieve the 9th Northumberland Fusiliers.  On 7th January the men took the train back to St Omer.  They billeted in Houlle and Malterie Houlle and rested whilst attempting to re-equip the battalion "as much as possible". 

During their time in Houlle a programme of training was undertaken, some of the men were sent to Brigade Schools for machine gun and signalling instruction.  The other men remained in camp and carried out Company Training.  Much football was played and on 19th January the 10th Battalion took on the 79th Brigade Royal Field Artillery in the divisional league.  Unfortunately they were beaten by 2 goals to 1.

After enjoying one month of rest, training and football the men must have been in better spirits and so from 5th to 8th of February the battalion moved off via train journey back to the front.  They relived the 7th Lincolnshires south east of Ypres on 13th February 1916.  The night of 13th February "past quietly with the exception of occasional H.E shrapnel"

14th February 1916....

By 12 noon the war diary reported "1 O.R killed, 7 O.R wounded including 3 slightly at duty"  What happened next was written as a report after the events had occurred.  The four company's of the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were occupied in the front line and support trenches, there were no men in reserve.
The night of the 13th was described as "relatively quiet" however, this would prove to be the lull before the storm that was to come in the future hours.  At 8.30am on 14th February the enemy commenced intermittent bombardment using "trench mortars, rifle grenades and some guns".  This continued until 3.30pm when "the enemy commenced a terrific bombardment in the front line".  Communication with the front line was soon cut off but the heavy shelling could be seen from the Brigade Headquarters and "as much retaliation was called for as could be obtained".

This retaliation commenced at 4pm but there seems to have been a misjudgement of exactly how bad the enemy's attach was, the 10th Battalion wrote  "we had great difficulty in impressing the Artillery with the seriousness of the situation.  At the height of the bombardment a message was received "is that sufficient".  The Artillery attack was not sufficient , described as "inadequate and poor in comparison with that coming over".  The Company Commander decided that it would be of no use to send any more men as the "front trenches were battered to the ground".

At 5.30pm it was reported that a mine had exploded in one of the trenches. The chilling events that followed are taken from the war diary....

"The Germans, preceded by a large number of bombers, who from some accounts were dressed in khaki, with white bands on their right arms, jumped into our front line trenches as the guns lifted and must have been well across "no mans land" before the bombardment lifted"

Once in our trenches the Germans found little resistance, what troops were left would have been worn out, most likely wounded and most definitely in shock  of the tragic situation which had just unfolded.  The enemy moved through the communication trenches but were stopped in their tracks by the B.E.F in the support trenches.

It was decided that a counter attack would take place and the 7th Lincolnshire Regiment and the 7th Border Regiment were brought in to back up the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  The outcome of this attack was summed up in one small sentence "The counter attack was not successful".

Private John William Longmate lost his life at an unknown time during the tragic events of 14th February 1916.  The surviving men of the Battalion were relieved in the trenches on 15th February.  A counter attack with bombs was also ordered, but sadly this to was unsuccessful.

Missing in action....

Derbyshire Times 4th March 1916 p5
The news that there was worry over John's whereabouts soon arrived in New Whittington.  His "missing" status was reported in the Derbyshire Times at the end of February.  Just two weeks after John's given date of death.  The report also gave John's place of work before the war as Staveley Company's Ireland Colliery.

A more detailed article with a photograph of John was placed in the Derbyshire Times on 4th March 1916.  It reported that John had been present at Ypres, where there had been heavy fighting and that John had not been heard of since that time.

Local connections....

A local man named Charlie Millband had written to James and Emily Longmate to inform them that John was missing in action.  Charlie was the brother of Henry Millband who was fighting alongside John with the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.  Henry was also reported missing in action on the same day.  At the time of the deaths of John and Henry, Charlie Millband was serving with the 7th Battalion Leicester Regiment but in a cruel twist of fate he was transferred to the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 28th February 1916, just two weeks after his own brother had been killed whilst serving with them. 

As the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters suffered high loses over the early weeks of February 1916, Charlie would have been one of the men transferred to make up the numbers, but sadly it would be his own brothers and friends he was replacing.  Charlie no doubt spoke to members of the 10th who had been present with John and Henry at Ypres and would be fully aware of the state of fighting on the days leading up to the men's deaths.
Finally the sad news arrives....

Derbyshire Times 22nd April 1916 p4

At last the agonising wait for John's family and friends was finally over when in April a soldier wrote to James and Emily to inform them that he had found John's body.  The unnamed soldier had removed any personal possessions he could find on John which included his regimental pay book, photos, postcards and his jack knife.  These were all returned to James and Emily along with his letter.

John Longmate, Private 18951 is remembered at The Menin Gate Memorial in the Belgian city of Ypres.  His name can be found inscribed on the panel 39 or 41.

John was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 15 Star for his service.

Life went on....

James & Emily Longmate lived at 105 Chesterfield Avenue, New Whittington at the time of John's death.  The family appear to have remained in the surrounding area. 

Probate entry for James William Longmate
Emily died in 1943, James four years later on 10th June 1947.  His address was 48 Laburnum Street, Hollingwood.  His probate entry tells that the executor of the will was Robert Edward Longmate, blacksmith (his son).  The amount was £417 7s 5d.

Elizabeth Longmate may have married Oliver Barson in 1924.  Oliver was around the same age as her brother John, they had both worked in the iron moulding trade before the Great War.  Elizabeth and Oliver may have had a daughter named Joan in 1928.  In 1939 the family were living in the Staveley area.  Oliver died in 1956 and Elizabeth died in 1981.

Robert Edward Longmate died in 1975. 

James Harold Longmate may have married Muriel Mapes in 1942.  He died in 1980 aged 76 years old.

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

I hope that I have not given details of living persons, if so please advise and I will remove immediately.

Please note all information has been taken from online indexes and sources.  Due to the sheer numbers of people to be researched I am unable to purchase vital event certificates to confirm my research.


Ref and further reading  -Census
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Probate register
Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times
CWGC  http://www.cwgc.org

Illustrations via the Internet Archive  free book images.

War diary 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters - Ref WO 95 2002/2-1

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