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.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016



Private 12665

1st Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment

Killed in action - 5th July 1916

Tom was the son of George and Emily Clewley, born in New Whittington in 1894 he was the sixth of seven children.  

George and Emily were married on 15th March 1886 at St Thomas' Church, Brampton, Chesterfield.  Emily nee Knowles was the daughter of John and Hannah Knowles and she lived in the Brampton area. George was from Alfreton, the son of Henry and Ellen Clewley.

George was employed as a coal miner near to his home village and so the newly weds set up home at Alfreton.  Their first four children were all born at Alfreton; Mary Ellen 1886, George 1888, Jessie 1889 and Edith Annie 1890.  

The family were living at 121 King Street, Alfreton at the time of the 1891 census but one year later in 1892 their daughter Emily was born at New Whittington, Chesterfield.  Next came Tom in 1894 and then finally Harry in 1900.

The 1901 census shows the family living at High Street, Springwell Row in New Whittington.  All of the Clewley family apart from Tom's eldest sister Mary Ellen were living in the family home.  George snr was the only member of the family recorded as being in employment; he still worked as a coal miner.  Mary Ellen would be around 15 years of age and was most likely out in service, but I have not been able to locate her in the 1901 census.

Wedding bells....

Mary Ellen married Tom Wilson on 22nd January 1906 at New Whittington.  Tom was a local lad to New Whittington, he was a coal miner by trade.

Jessie married Charles Robert Lloyd in 1908.  Charles was from Barrowby in Lincolnshire.  He also worked as a coal miner and the couple had their first child a son named Edwin in 1910.

1911 the census before WW1....

Tom and his parents and siblings were still living on the High Street in New Whittington at number 203. Both boys George jnr (aged 28) and Tom (aged 16) had followed their father to work at the coal mines in the area.  George jnr was employed as a weighman and Tom was a pony driver.  Young Harry was 10 years old, the baby of the family, he was still at school.

Mary Ellen and Tom Wilson were living in the neighbouring village of Brimington at 5 Heywood Street.  The couple had two daughters; Kate aged 3 and Marion aged 2 years old.

Jessie and Charles Lloyd were living at 4 Grantley Cottages, Grantham. Charles was employed as a labourer at an engineering works.  The census return tells that they had 3 children but only 2 were living. Edwin was now 1 year old and they had a little baby daughter "under 1 month" named Florence Emily.  Jessie's sister Emily Clewley was staying with the family in Grantham, most probably to help Jessie cope with motherhood and two small children.

Edith Annie married Alfred John Drury on 24th June 1911.  Alfred was born in Great Gransden, Huntingdonshire.  He was living in New Whittington in 1911 at 164 High Street with his parents and siblings. A daughter was born in 1912, named Alice Lillian, then came George Oliver in 1914.

Emily married Reginald Ward in 1913.  Their first son George was born just before the outbreak of war in the early months of 1914.  

Tom's war....

Tom's service records have not survived but we can piece together some of his service using information given in his obituary and medal card.

He was enlisted with the 1st Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment, a local regiment which was based in India at the outset of WW1.  Ernest Booth another local man was also a member of this battalion, he lost his life earlier on 15th May 1915.  Whether Tom had been sent to join the British Expeditionary Force by this time is not known.

The medal card states that Tom entered the theatre of war before 31st December 1915, but unfortunately does not give an exact date of embarkation.  The battalion were in billets at Rue Dormoire on New Years Eve 1915, the weather was "dull and very windy".  On New Years Day 1916 Tom and his comrades "had baths in the morning" and then took part in a parade in front of the Company Officer, who gave them a morale boosting address.  There was a very special treat for the men "an excellent concert was held in the evening".  

The days of January and February were spent carrying out routine duties, attacks towards the enemy trenches were regular but to keep morale up the men found time for a games of rugby and football.  On 18th February the men from the 11th Battalion arrived to play a friendly game of football.  The war diary describes "the game was played on a sea of mud and in the pouring rain, resulting in a win by the Regt by 1-0".

On 20th February the battalion packed up all their belongings and marched to Vieux Berquin, the weather was described as "fine - beautiful day for marching".  They marched with their battalion band playing their instruments along the way, through the villages of France, they must have been a sight to be seen.  Their destination was Les Ciseaux.  They settled in on 22nd February and as they did the snow began to fall, it snowed all day that day.  On 23rd they received orders that the next day they would move on to Estaires, but this order was later postponed.  

The days passed, they were bitter cold with heavy frosts and more snow.  On 29th they set off again, this time orders were to march to Bruay and "so ends our time in Corps Reserve, too full of "alarms and excursions" to be very much of a rest".  They arrived in Bruay by 1.30pm on 29th February 1916, the band played them into the town and was "very much appreciated by the inhabitants who have had no English troops billeted here before".

On 5th March the men left Bruay and marched, this time to the beat of the newly arrived band drums, to Grand Servin.  Where, for the first time in the Regiments history they became under the command of a French Division.  For the rest of March the battalion spent time in the trenches and were sent some heavy shelling by the Enemy, they marched to new areas regularly.  

On 30th March the men went to view a demonstration on the "flamethrower machine".  These deadly machines had first been used by the Germans on an attack at the British at Hooge in July 1915.  The machine had came as a major surprise to the British and caused the high numbers of deaths; 31 Officers, 791 Other Ranks.  The British soon got to work on designing their own version of the flamethrower and came up with 4 models, in anticipation of their use at the Somme offensive.  

By June of 1916 the men had left the trenches of Vimy Ridge and were marching most days, their route was taking them north west.  On 24th June the men arrived at Lillers train station and took the train at 8.50pm to Longeuau, south west of Amiens, where they arrived at 5am on 25th June.  They immediately formed their marching parties and set off through Amiens and Drevil arriving in the coastal town of Ailly Sur Somme at 8.40am the next day.  On 30th June the battalion marched on to Coisy.

On 1st July 1916 when the first devastating day of the Somme offensive was launched the men of the 1st Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment were preparing themselves for their part in the great advance.  At 8.35pm they followed orders and marched the 1 1/2 miles into Henencourt Wood, where they settled in setting up their tents.  The next two days would be spent on tenterhooks, orders were given and cancelled to move on.  The dairy tells that "very good news received of attacks by French and British".  Little did Tom and his comrades know of the real truth, that the British army alone had received over 57,000 casualties on that first day of July 1916.  

At 6am on 4th July the battalion marched off to Dernancourt arriving at 9am.  They spent the morning bathing in the River Ancre and eventually received orders; they marched off at 10.30pm to support the night attack of the 19th Division.  They arrived at the Albert- Poziers Road around 12.30am on 5th July and immediately set to work loading up with mortars and mills bombs for their attack.

They were given orders to attack that same day at 2pm.  They made their way slowly up the communication trenches and were heavily shelled throughout, but eventually arrived at the support line, near the church at La Boisselle.  It was found that the British already occupied the front line trenches and that their was virtually no divide between those and the enemy.  This would mean that it was impossible to advance unobserved.  By 7pm it was evident that all but the D Coys had been driven back, after heavy fighting.  By 9pm the D Coys was also removed and it was in danger of being cut off.

A Coy attacked the rear and suffered heavy casualties, B & C Coys made 3 attacks and reached their objectives several times, but were subsequently driven back each time.  The reasons given for this was noted as being due to "superior numbers and bombs".

The battle was described in the war diary as "throughout the action the fighting was of a very severe nature, and mostly hand to hand.  The battalion laboured under very great difficulties in not knowing the ground, and in having to cooperate with a Brigade upon whose ignorance of the situation, lack of foresight and apparent absence of control and central direction".  "The G.O.C consider that the battalion were placed in a difficult position".

On 6th July General Babbington ordered a parade of the 1st Battalion where he "expressed his sympathy with the battalion for having been so hard a task to perform at short notice and with little opportunity of preparation.  But while expressing his sympathy with all the ranks for the losses sustained he congratulated the battalion on the excellent reports he had received of their conduct the day before".

The war diary noted the following figures for the day -

"Officers - killed 4, Other ranks 50, wounded Officers 10, Other ranks 175"

Private Tom Clewley was one of those men who lost his life during what appears to have been an impossible attack for the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters to have achieved.  His body has not been recovered and so it would appear that he was one of the 50 other ranks who were killed outright on that day, 5th July 1916.

Tom is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France, his name can be found at Pier & Face 10C, 10D and 11A.  Tom has no known resting place.

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

Tom was remembered in the Derbyshire Times, the local newspaper on 29th July 1916 page 4.  The obituary reads ....

"From unofficial information to hand this week
there is little doubt but that Private Tom Clewley
of the Sherwoods is numbered with the killed.

The mother of the dead soldier who resides in 
Springwell Row, had heard from several
unreliable sources that her son was believed
to have gone under, but a letter sent by 
Private J Hullett to his wife in New Whittington
leaves little doubt, for in it he says
"Tell Mrs Clewley how sorry I am about Tom,
I was near him when he fell, and when I have 
time I will send more details"

Private Clewley was aged 21 years of age, and enlisted 
about 2 years ago.  After a period of training
at Frencham and Grantham he was sent to the Darndanelles,
and shared in the heavy fighting.  Later he was invalided
home with dysentery, and stayed in one of the Cardiff 
hospitals.  His last visit home was early in the New Year.
He had been in France about ten weeks, and his 
last letter to his parents bore date July 4th.  

He is believed to have been killed on the 6th inst"

The newspaper article included a photograph of Tom and it can be noted that the date of death is different to the official date recorded as the 5th July 1916.

Life went on....

George & Emily Clewley Tom's parents most likely remained in New Whittington.  George died in 1929 followed by Emily a year later in 1930.

Mary Ellen Clewley and her husband Tom Wilson moved to New Whittington and in 1915 they lived at 195 High Street.  They had another daughter in 1912, named Nellie.

Tom enlisted with the York & Lancaster Regiment at Staveley Town on 31st May 1915, he was 29 years 5 months old.  He was posted to the 3rd Battalion on 9th June 1915, Private 21462.  Mary would have been heavily pregnant at this time, only two months later she gave birth to their first son; Tom Robert Wilson was born on 28th August 1915.

Mary probably remained in New Whittington where she would have the help from her family close by, with three young daughters and a baby son she would need all the help she could get.  I would hope that Tom met his little baby son before he embarked to France on 13th April 1916.  Once with the British Expeditionary Force he joined with the 10th Battalion in the field.  His service records are difficult to read in places, but it appears that Tom remained overseas until being demobilised in 1919.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal in late 1918.

Private Tom Wilson was awarded the Victory and British medals for his service.

Life would not be the same for Mary Ellen and Tom after the end of WW1.  Not only had they lost a brother to the cause but Tom would be left to live with his terrible memories.  He would need to find employment and more importantly he would need to get to know his children whom he had been estranged from for such a long time.

They did get on with life and three more children followed; Stanley in 1922, Joan in 1925 and Dorothy in 1927.

Mary Ellen and Tom remained living at 195 High Street, New Whittington and were living there when the 1939 Register was completed.  Mary Ellen died in 1975 aged 88 years old.  

George Clewley had married Lucy Mitchell in 1915.  They had their first son on 25th July 1915.  He was named Arthur (most likely after Lucy's brother Arthur Mitchell).  

Their second son was born in late 1916, he was named after his brave Uncle Tom Clewley. They went on to have two more children; Agnes Ellen in December 1917 and George Henry in January 1920.  

George was not in good health, he had a heart condition which meant he had given up his employment at Staveley Coal and Iron Company in the early 1920's.  He died aged 36 years old in September 1924 and was buried at St Bartholomew's Church, New Whittington.  

What became of Lucy is unknown at this time, I have not found a death or a marriage for her as yet.  George and Lucy's son *Tom Clewley was killed in action on 10th March 1944 whilst serving with the Royal Armoured Corps in Italy.  

Jessie Clewley went on to have two more children with Charles Lloyd; Jessie in 1916 and Charles in 1918.  Both children were born back in Chesterfield so it is likely that the family had moved back before 1916.  

Sadly for Jessie and her four children Charles died in 1923 aged only 36 years old.  Jessie was widowed but in 1925 she married again to Ernest Garrod and a year later in 1926 a daughter was born named Lily.  

Ernest died only two years later in 1928, he was 35 years old.  

The 1939 Register shows Jessie and Lily living at 143 Racecourse Road in Newbold, Chesterfield.  Two years later in 1941 Jessie married again, to Benjamin Rowley.  

Jessie died in 1964 aged 75 years old.  Benjamin Rowley may have died in 1962 aged 71 years old.

Edith Annie Clewley also found herself without the support of her husband during WW1.  Alfred had enlisted with the Sherwood Forester Regiment on 11th December 1915 but was put in reserve.  The family had moved away from New Whittington and lived at 245 Barrow Hill at that time.  By June 1916 he had been recalled and was transferred to the 17th Yorkshire Regiment.  

Alfred survived the war and was given employment with the Weardale Coal and Coke Company in County Durham.  Edith and Alfred had two more children; William in 1921 and Jean in 1929.  The Drury family moved to West Handley, Unstone, near Chesterfield and Alfred worked as a shunter in the iron works.

Alfred died in 1954 and Edith lived on until 1971, she was 81 years old.

Emily Clewley had married Reginald Ward in 1913, in December that year the couple had their first child, a son named George.  Next came Eric in 1915 and Lucy in 1916.  Whether Reginald enlisted and left Emily during WW1 is not known, but the next child to be born was Evelyn in 1919, Annie 1921, Douglas 1923, Winifred 1926, Beatrice 1928 and finally Grace in 1930.  

Emily died in 1974, Reginald predeceased her in 1950.

Harry Clewley was Tom's youngest sibling.  Harry married Nellie May Allen in 1919 and they had six children; Jack, Ernest, Connie, Margaret, Eva and Harry.  In 1939 Harry was living at 203 High Street, New Whittington.  He was unemployed at the time and was a coal miner by trade.

Harry and his wife Nellie both died in 1979.

Sadly the name T Clewley appears twice on the St Barnabas Memorial; once for WW1 and again 28 years later for WW2.

Sapper Tom Clewley
Derbyshire Times 07.04.1944

*Tom Clewley the son of Tom's brother George was also to lose his life whilst fighting for his country.  He was serving with the Royal Armoured Corps, he had enlisted around 1940.  Previous to the war he was employed at Staveley Companies Old Works and lived at 35 South Street, New Whittington.  He had served abroad for around 15 months at both North Africa and the Central Mediterranean areas.  He was killed on 10th March 1944. 


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

If you are descendant of the Clewley family and would like to add your own family "story" 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 13th September 1924 page 7
                                                                7th April 1944 page 1

CWGC  http://www.cwgc.org

War diaries - Piece 1721/1-4 1st Batt Sherwood Foresters Aug 1914 - Aug 1919  

1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-derbyshire-regiment/


  1. Shown in book "Digest of Service" 3rd Battalion 1914-18 (covers period mid 1915 to mid 1916) held in Regimental Archives as:- Number shown prefixed 9/ which indicates previously served with 9th Battalion Arrived 3rd Battalion 20.4.1916 Served with L Company
    Posted to 1st Battalion 9.5.1916 Shown in 1st Bn Roll book 1914-18 as Joined Battalion on 2.6.16 and served with "B" company.

    Morse research document (held in regimental Archives) into 9th Bn shows served with 9th Bn and 1st Bn

    From his medal index card it shows entered Balkans pre 31 Dec 1915 therefore he enlisted into 9th Battalion and went with it to Gallipoli. From the details above he was either wounded or caught a disease and was returned to UK and attached to 3rd Battalion. On recovering and fit for duty was posted to 1st Battalion in France.

    1. Thank you very much indeed for your extra information on Tom Clewley and his service. The details are excellent and have helped to ensure that Tom Clewley's story is remembered correctly. I am afraid that I am unable to access such resources from my base so they are very much appreciated.
      I will go back and amend my write up and add some further information regarding the 9th Batallion.
      I made contact with one of Tom Clewleys families descendants so this is great information for them also.
      Thank you once again for your time.