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.

Saturday, 21 May 2016



Private 4235

1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters

Died of wounds - 21st  May 1916

Henry Straw "Harry"  was the son of John and Jane Straw, he was born in 1887 at New Whittington and grew up in the area.  He was the sixth child to be born to John and Jane Straw.

Harry's father John hailed from Sutton In Ashfield, near Mansfield.  He had moved to Brimington aged 8 years old when his father had found employment in the blast furnaces.  On finishing his schooling John gained employment, as did many of the local men in the coal mines.  He met and married local girl Jane Adams on 18th November 1872 at Brimington Church. 

Their first child was a daughter named Harriet, baptised on 12th October 1873 at Brimington. Next came Elizabeth in 1875, followed by John Edward in 1876, Edith in 1878 and Mary Etta in 1880.

Around 1878 the Straw family moved to live on South Street in New Whittington.   John was still working as a coal miner, they had five young children to feed and clothe.  Not long after in 1884 Gertrude was born, followed by Henry, who would be known affectionately as Harry.

On the 1891 census Harry was just 4 years old, he had a new baby sister named Constance who was 1 year old.  The family lived on the High Street in New Whittington.  The children had grown up by now and some were in paid employment which would help the family financially; John Edward was working as a horse driver at the colliery, Harriett and Elizabeth had left home.  Harriett was aged 19 years old and had left the family to work for the Newbould family who were bakers by trade.  They lived in Mannigham, Bradford.   Elizabeth was working as a domestic servant for the Charles and Eliza Cappendale, publicans at The Wellington public house in New Whittington.  

Wedding bells for the Straw family....

Elizabeth married her master; Charles Cappendale on 3rd September 1894 at Chesterfield.  Charles' first wife Eliza had died earlier that year. Elizabeth would become "mother" to Charles' two sons; Thomas and Fred.  

On 27th February 1896 Harriett married James Carrington Howe at Staveley Parish Church.  James was also a widower, around 12 years older than Harriett.  He had five children with his now deceased wife Martha; William, Elizabeth, Robert, Reginald and Frederick.  Martha had sadly died in 1893, leaving the eldest son aged 10 years old and the baby just 2 years old. 

James was a farmer, his farm Breck Farm was in Barrow Hill.  Harriett and James went on to have four children of their own; Ada in 1896, Osborne 1898-1898, Joseph 1899 and Marshall in 1900. 

Edith married John Green in 1897.  John was a pipe moulder and they made their home at 77 High Street, New Whittington.  In 1900 Edith gave birth to a baby boy named Harry.

Mary Etta married George William Donner on 25th May 1901 at Holy Trinity Church on Newbold Road, near Chesterfield town centre.  George was from West Bridgeford in Nottinghamshire and worked in the colliery.

A new century dawns....

The 1901 census -

Harry was aged 14 years old now and had gained employment as a labourer.  He lived with his parents, John and Jane; John still a coal miner.  Of all the children there was now only Harry, Mary and Constance still living at home; 55 South Street.  

The spring of 1907 brought sadness to the Straw family when Harry's mother Jane passed away aged 51 years old.  Jane was buried at Whittington St Bartholomew's Church on 6th May 1907.  

Harriett and James appear to have had a change in lifestyle; James was no longer described as "farmer" and they did not live at Breck Farm anymore.  James was now employed as a farm labourer, they were living in the centre of Chesterfield at 6 Clarence Road, a two up two down terraced house.  The household would have been extremely cramped, with Harriett's five step children and her own three children living there also.  Marshall the youngest son was just 4 months old on the 1901 census, he died that same year under one year old.

I have not been able to locate John Edward on the 1901 census.

Elizabeth and Charles lived at 50 Wellington Street, New Whittington with Thomas and Fred.  Charles appears to have left the publican trade and was employed as a railway shunter.

Edith and John had four more children; Elsie 1902 , George 1905, Arthur 1907 and Constance in 1901.  

Wedding bells for Harry....

Harry met and married Rosa Short in 1907.  Rosa was the daughter of Thomas and Martha Emma (nee Hopewell) Short.  She was born in 1888 and baptised that same year on 3rd October at Staveley Parish Church.  

Rosa's father Thomas died at the young age of 47 years old in 1899. The Derby Mercury (8th November 1899 p2) noted that an inquest was heard after Thomas slipped and injured his lower body whilst at work as a furnace labourer.  He died of "delirium tremor's"  By 1901 Rosa and her family had moved from Staveley to New Whittington, they lived at Bamford Street.  Rosa would meet her future husband during this time.  
Patter of tiny feet....

Harry and Rosa soon settled and started their own little family; Jane was born on 8th February 1908.  Then followed John in 1911.  


Harry and his wife Rosa have moved to 54 Victoria Street, Doncaster. Harry was now 24 years old and employed as a coal miner.  They have two children; Jane aged 3 years and 3 month old baby boy named John (both most likely named after Harry's parents).  

Harry and Rosa had a daughter named Elsie in 1913 but sadly she died in 1915.  Rosa Lillian was born on 19th February 1914.

Harry's father John was living at Wellington Street with his youngest daughter Constance Ethel.  However, Constance appears on the 1911 census twice, she is also recorded as a visitor at Kirkby In Ashfield.  She was visiting Bertha and William Harris Barke.  

Harriett and James Howe have moved once more, they were now living at 1 Station Road, New Whittington.  James was employed as a foreman in a machine shop.  The couple have four more children; May 1904, Albert 1906, Helen 1909 and baby Mona born in 1910. 

Elizabeth and Charles were still living at 50 Wellington Street, Charles was employed now as a furnace stoker at the iron foundry.  

John Edward was boarding with the Blackford family at 120 Bathurst Terrace, Langwith near Mansfield.  He was aged 25 years old, single and worked as a coal miner.

Edith and John moved home to 107 High Street, New Whittington.  John had a new job as an engine driver at the iron works.  The census also tells that they had 2 children whom had died, as well as their five living children.

Mary and George were living at 4 Ridge Balk Lane, Woodlands, Doncaster.  Many of the coal mining families from New Whittington had moved to the area.  The Woodlands was a new estate to house colliery employees which would offer opportunity and employment for the local families.  They have recorded that they had five children (however only four are noted on the census return); David, Harry, Constance and James.  

Harry's war....

Harry's signature on 20th March 1915

The service records for Harry have survived, these tell us that Harry was aged 28 years old when he enlisted in Chesterfield on 20th March 1915. He was 5ft 3inches tall and had grey eyes and dark brown hair. 

At the time of enlistment Harry and Rosa had already returned to New Whittington and lived at 137 Inkerman Place. 

Harry was originally posted to the 3/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, this battalion was formed on 1st March 1915, Harry would be one of the first to enlist with this battalion having joined on 20th March.  The battalion was based in Grantham from October 1915, where Harry would undertake his basic training to prepare him for the theatre of war.

Harry was transferred from the 3/6th battalion to the 1/6th battalion on 4th March 1916, the day of his embarkation to France to join the British Expeditionary Force.  Harry joined his unit at Mont St Eloy on 16th March 1916, he was one of 143 men drafted as reinforcements. The main group of the battalion had already left British shores for France on 26th February 1916.  On 31st March a further 122 other ranks arrived, the battalions Lewis guns had arrived also a few days earlier.   

On 16th April the battalion received orders to explode two mines that night; Birkin and Grange.  This order was carried out and the mines were successfully exploded during the night of 16th into 17th April.  Two men were killed and 3 wounded in this exercise.

May 1916 saw the beginning of preparations for the Somme offensive.  Harry and his battalion were given practise in carrying out a smoke attack on 2nd May.  On 6th May they marched to billets at Ivergny and then on to Humbercamps the following day.  For the week commencing 10th May until 18th May the battalion were set to work digging communication trenches at Fonquevillers. 

On 19th May Harry and his comrades would relieve the 6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment in the trenches, where the battalion remained until 27th May.

Harry was wounded whilst in those trenches, when he was hit by shell fire by the enemy.  He would have been transferred by the stretcher bearers to the nearest first aid station and moved on if his health allowed to the field hospital.

We are told in the service records that Harry was injured by shell fire on 21st May 1916.  He received injuries to his head and abdomen and died of his wounds that same day, 21st May 1916.  He had served his King & Country for 1 year and 63 days. 

Private 4235 Harry Straw is buried at the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension Number 1.  His grave reference number is ii C 15.  His grave shows the sign of the cross, with no other comments added by his family.

Harry was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

Newspaper memorial....

Harry was remembered in the Derbyshire Courier on 3rd June 1916. The article reads as follows -


Information reached New Whittington on Tuesday
that Private Harry Straw, 
a Territorial had died of wounds.

It was conveyed in a letter from the Lieutenant Colonel
of the Sherwood Foresters to Private Straws wife
"All the officers and men" wrote the Colonel
"sympathise with you in your bereavement.  He was 
a good soldier and died bravely for his country"

Private Straw was 29 years of age and leaves a widow
and three children.
He enlisted in March 1915 and went to France 
in the March of this year.

Quietly disposed he was highly respected.
Before the war he worked at Markham Colliery"

Life went on....

Rosa remained in New Whittington after Harry's death, most probably during his service also as she would have her family around her to help her with daily life.  

On 21st September 1916 a letter was typed from the War Office to Rosa Straw, the bereaved widow of Harry enclosing his belongings; "letter, clasp knife, cig case, box of tea tablets, purse, waist belt and postcards".  The belongings she would have wept over on their receipt on such an emotional day.  

Eventually in December 1916 Rosa was awarded her pension for Harry's service; for upkeep of herself and 3 children she was to receive 20 shillings 6 pence a week. 

Rosa received her late husbands medals in the autumn of 1921.  She had remarried by this time.  Rosa married Martin Leach in 1919, he was a local man from New Whittington and had served with the Yorks & Lancaster Regiment during WW1.  He was born in 1882 so was a few years older than Harry, but being a small village we can assume that he would have known the Straw family and probably Harry to.  

Rosa died in 1937 aged just 48 years old.  Martin lived on until 1961.

The three children of Harry and Rosa; Jane, John and Rosa Lillian would be told of how brave their father had been.  No doubt the photos and letters would be treasured.  

Jane married William Ward and died in 1984.
John may have died in 1991 (this would need further confirmation as the death certificate has not been purchased).
Rosa Lilian married Horace Mullis in 1935.  She died in 1998.

John Harry's father died in March of 1928.  His obituary was recorded in the Derbyshire Times (10th March 1929 page 11).  It told how John had commenced work at the age of 10 years old and had worked at both Staveley Coal and Iron Works and latterly Ireland Colliery.  John was 75 years of age and had been ill for six months previous.  He was interred at St Bartholomew's Church on 10th March 1928.  

Harriett and James remained living in New Whittington.  James died in 1920 aged 60 years old.  Harriett died in 1962 aged 88 years old. 

John Edward also enlisted to serve King & Country, on 21st August 1915 he joined the Sherwood Foresters. He was later transferred to the Cameronions (Scottish Rifles).  Private 241977, he was discharged in 1917. John Edward died on 12th December 1918.  He is interred at st Bartholomew's Church graveyard in New Whittington.  He has a CWGC gravestone.  John is also named on the St Barnabas Memorial and his story will be told on this blog on 12th December 2018.

Elizabeth was widowed in 1913 when Charles died aged 59 years old. She remarried on 11th December 1915, her new husband was Charles Yealand, he was born in London in 1892.  Charles was awarded the British medal, Victory medal and the Silver War badge after having served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment; Private 54486.  He was injured by receiving a gun shot wound to his right shoulder.

The couple set up home at Hardwick Avenue in New Whittington, Elizabeth died in 1926, Charles lived a further 50 years dying in 1976.  

Edith and John Green remained living in New Whittington.  On the 1939 Register they were recorded as living at 123 Wellington Street.  Their two daughters Elise and May lived with them.  Edith died not long after in the winter months of 1939.  

Mary and George Donner spent their married lives living in the Woodlands area of Doncaster.  Mary died in 1948 and George died on 6th October 1961.  His probate entry tells that he left £295 13s to his daughter Constance Ethel Hardwick.

Constance married widower John Daniel Harris Barke in 1912.  John was the brother of William Harris Barke whom Constance was visiting on the 1911 census.  

Constance and John had two sons; John Leslie in 1917 and James in 1923.  Tragically for Constance and John their little baby son did not survive and died that same year, 1923. 

Nottingham Evening Post
8th March 1949 p1

Constance's husband John died suddenly on 7th March 1949, she lived on until 1970 when she died aged 80 years old.  Her eldest son John Leslie died a year later in 1971.


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

If you are descendant of these family and would like to add your own family "story" of Harry and Rosa then please do feel free to contact me.

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  -
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects

Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Times, Nottingham Evening Post
photo - Derbyshire Courier 6th June 1916 page 3

War Diary 1/6th Sherwood Foresters - piece 2694/1:1/6th Sherwood Forester Regiment - Feb 1915 - June 1919

Doullens Communal Cemetery information

1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters -

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