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, 23 August 2016



Private 3683

1/6th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment

Died of wounds - 23rd August 1916

John Arthur Andrews was the son of Arthur and Mary Ann Andrews. Born in New Whittington, John was baptised on 5th April 1886.  

Arthur and Mary Ann (nee Wilde) married on 29th March 1880 at New Whittington.  Arthur was from Grenoside in Sheffield and worked as a labourer at the time.  In 1881 newly married Arthur and Mary were living with Mary's parents William and Miranda Wilde at Glasshouse Lane, New Whittington.  The couple had their first child, a son named William Henry, aged 5 months he had been born in the winter of 1880.  Around 1883 a daughter named Mary Miranda was born and then followed John Arthur in 1885. In 1890 another daughter named Mabel was born.  

On the 1891 census the Andrews family had set up their own home, living on Bamford Street in New Whittington, Arthur worked as a labourer.

By the time of the 1901 census John had two more siblings; Florence and James.  The Andrews family may have found themselves facing difficult times as they had returned to live with John's maternal grandparents; Miranda and William Wilde, at 16 Handley Road.  John was now 15 years old.  Along with his father Arthur they were both employed as furnace labourers, William his elder brother worked as a stationary engine driver at the furnaces.  Mary, John's sister was in service working as a housemaid for the Johnston family at Ecclesall Bierlow in Sheffield.

Sad news for the Andrews family....

In October 1910 the head of the Andrews family, Arthur died aged just 53 years old.  He was buried at New Whittington on 29th October 1910. Mary would find herself widowed with three children still dependent upon her.

1911, the eve of war....

John was still living with his mother Mary, they now lived at 30 South Street.  He was aged 25 years old and worked as a labourer in the wagon shop at the local foundry.  His grandmother Miranda was also living with them, along with his two younger siblings Florence and James.  Florence was 16 years of age and was employed as a day girl on a nearby farm. James would still be attending school.

William, John's elder brother was living at 83 Old Whittington Green with his wife of six years, Ellen and her sister 14 year old Annie Gill.  William was employed as an engine driver at the local furnaces. He and Ellen had no children of their own, however the census return shows a little 3 year old girl named Gladys Miranda Rice was living with them. The relationship is recorded as "niece" but then goes on to add "adopted".  

Gladys Miranda Rice was the daughter of William's sister Mary. Mary had married Philip Benjamin Rice in the summer of 1904.  By 1911 the couple had four living children; William, James, Gladys and Richard. Sadly a baby girl named Ethel had died before she was one year old. The Rice family were living at 52 Handley Road, New Whittington and Philip worked as a labourer at the Staveley furnace's.  Gladys is recorded on both census returns as living with William and Ellen Andrews and also living with her biological parents Mary and Philip Rice. Times were hard, it is possible that Gladys was brought up by her childless Aunt and Uncle, her parents lived close by and would be able to play an active role in her upbringing.

Aged just 16 years old Mabel married her next door neighbour James Stewart McKim (James was 13 years her senior aged 29).  The marriage took place on 7th April 1906 at St Bartholomews Church, New Whittington.  Her siblings William and Ellen signed the church register as witnesses.  James had returned from serving with the Queens Own Cameroon Highlanders in 1903.

On the 1911 census Mabel is listed as an inpatient at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.  She is recorded as having had two children, one which had since died.  She was also recorded as a widow, there is a possible death for James in 1911.  I can only find one child born with parents "McKim" and "Andrews"; a son born in 1908 named John William. In 1911 little John William McKim was living with his grandmother Mary Ann Andrews and his Uncle John.

John's war....

John enlisted at Chesterfield on 25th January 1915.  He joined the 3/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Private 3683.

John was aged 29 years and 4 months on enlistment, he was 5 foot 6 inches tall and had blue eyes and brown hair.  His occupation was recorded as plate layer / pipe moulder.  

John carried out his basic training moving around England until he was transferred to the 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 26th October 1915. The next day John embarked from Southampton to join the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) in France.  He arrived in Rouen the next day and joined the battalion of the 1/6th Sherwood Forester battalion in December of 1915.  He would join a war weary battalion, one which had just been involved in some of the war's most heavy fighting, including the Battle of Loos.


On 1st January 1916 John and his comrades were at Isbergues near Marseilles in France.  The war diary notes "observed as a holiday throughout the brigade".  On 14th January they were camped at Boreli Camp and the 97% of the battalion received their vaccinations.

The 1/6th Battalion were at Mont St Eloy when on 16th March 1916 when 143 men were drafted as reinforcements.  One of these men was local New Whittington man Harry Straw.  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. On 2nd May George and his battalion were given practice in carrying out a smoke attack.  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 1916 John and his comrades would relieve the 6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment in the trenches, where the battalion remained until 27th May when they were relieved by the 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.

June 1916 saw the battalion spending time in and out of the trenches, marching and digging.  The end of June was particularly wet and the was diary on the 24th June notes "every man wet through & covered with mud from digging".  On 30th June they were at Fonquevillers "preparatory to attack on German trenches".

The Battle of the Somme....

John and his comrades were part of the 139th Brigade, on the 1st July 1916 they "attacked on a front from N.E corner of Gommecourt Wood". The war diary tells that the plan was to attack the German trenches under partial cover of smoke, but owing to the heavy rain that had preceded the event the "very muddy state of our own trenches, part of 4th wave greater part of 5th & 7th (....) carrying companies could not get away before smoke lifted, and all attempts to advance by these and 6th A & B Coys were met by heavy artillery and machine gun barrage.  The attack therefore failed with heavy losses to assaulting Battns, but the main object was achieved of containing enemy forces near Gommecourt."  

The men were relieved that evening by the 8th Sherwood Foresters. The diary gives the total casualties as 170 men.

The following days were spent marching from village to village, drafts of reinforcements joined the brigade. On the 8th and 9th July the battalion were carrying gas accessories to the trenches.  On the night of the 11th July into the morning of the 12th July the battalion relieved the 5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment in the trenches at Bailleulmont.  The dairy then misses three days until 15th when it states that some of the companies were relieved.

August of 1916 came with relative calm, on 4th August the battalion were based at Bailleulval.  They spent the day partaking in some light relief and friendly rivalry when they held "Inter company competitions in Bayonet fighting and Gas helmet drill.  Winners, bayonet fighting, "A" Coys.  Gas helmet drill, Bombers". 

Notes written on John's service record

John was wounded on 19th August 1916, when he received gunshot wounds.  He was transferred to No20 Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds on 23rd August 1916.  The war diary for the 19th August 1916 tells that the battalion were stationed in the village of Bellacourt.  It gives a simple account of the day which resulted in John being wounded....

"Enemy shelled village about 12.15 am.  17 other ranks 
wounded, and 1 killed and 1 wounded 
attached to the 139th Trench Mortar Battery"

Private John Arthur Andrews was buried at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty, France; grave reference 111.A.10.  His grave is marked simply with the sign of the cross, no other inscriptions were added by John's family.

Private 3683 John Arthur Andrews was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star Medals for his service.

John was remembered in the Derbyshire Times 2nd September 1916 page 4, along with a photograph the obituary read....

"Private John Arthur Andrews is the 26th New Whittington 
soldier who has died in the service of his country.
News of his death from wounds reached his mother,
who resided in High Street, on Saturday.
Only the day before she received a card saying he 
was making real improvement and would
probably be sent down to base hospital
and perhaps to England later.  

Before enlisting deceased was employed in the Pipe Shops
at Staveley Works.  He was 31 years of age and a most steady
young fellow.  He joined some 18 months ago,
his last training place being Grantham, and he had 
been in France about ten months.

His mother has received two letters, one from the Sister-in-charge
and one from the Rev. G. P. Bent, the Chaplain, who writes:-
"At first there was considerable improvement in his 
condition, but it was not kept up.  He became worse yesterday
(August 23rd), and though everything possible was done
for him he passed away at 10.45pm.  It may be some small 
comfort for you to know that he received reverent burial
in the little cemetery here, and he lies in a separate grave.
A wooden cross will be erected at once by the Graves 
Registration Committee, and some permanent
memorial will be erected after the War.  
It will always be possible to know his grave.  If at
some future day you should wish for a photograph
you will be able to get one.  
May God comfort you in your sorrow""

Life went on....

Mary Ann Andrews moved to 142 South Street after John's death.  She died in 1925 aged 62 years old.  

William and Ellen returned to live in Rotherham.  William died in 1936 aged 55 years old.  The 1939 Register shows Ellen was living with her siblings Arthur and Ida at 231 Canklow Street in Rotherham.  Ellen was described as "incapacitated", she died in 1965.

Mary and Philip Rice died in Chesterfield; Philip in 1959 and Mary in 1962 aged 81 years old.  Mary and Philip named a son after his brave Uncle; John Arthur Rice was born in April 1917.

It is not known whether William and Ellen remained the legal parents of Gladys Rice, she appears to have married a man named Charles Hubbard and she was living in Birmingham with him and Douglas Rice (possibly a younger brother or her son?) in 1939.  Gladys died at Birmingham in 1987.

Mabel may have remarried as there is a possible marriage recorded in 1911. 

What became of James Mabel's husband is unknown for definite, he may have died in 1911.  He was trained as a blacksmith and had enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders on 18th February 1897, aged 20 years old. He enlisted at Glasgow, but was recorded as being born in Lanark.  He was placed in Army reserve class in 1903.

Their son John William McKim married Elsie Fogg in 1930 at Chesterfield.  They may have had a son in 1932.  I can find no trace of them after this date and wonder if they emigrated overseas?

Florence died at the young age of 23 years old in 1918.

James Wilfred married May Lewis in 1925.  In 1939 they were living at 38A High Street, Whittington. James worked as a cast iron pipe tester. Ronald Lewis lived with the couple, the brother of May.  It appears that James and May did not have any children.  James died in 1971 aged 71 years of age.  May lived on until 1980.  


John was one of many local men who also served with the 1st/6th Battalion; fellow comrades also named on the St Barnabas Memorial are;
George Henry Pratt
Bernard Millington


If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on John Arthur Andrews 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  -
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk

Newspaper articles - Derbyshire Courier 2nd September 1916 p.1
                               - Derbyshire Times 2nd September 1916 p4

Tuesday, 9 August 2016



Private 14982

10th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment

Killed in action - 9th August 1916

William Needham was living in Cresswell when he enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters.  He was born in New Whittington around 1885. His life prior to WW1 has not been easy to follow, but in 1911 he was living with his siblings at 4 Cross London Street in New Whittington.  I have not found William recorded on a census living with his parents.  

Assuming that William shared the same mother and father as his siblings then he was the son of Joseph and Sarah Needham.  Joseph was a carpenter/joiner born in Sittinglow, Derbyshire.  Sarah was born in Chinley near Chapel-en-le-Frith on the outskirts of the Peak District.  Sarah nee Royle married Joseph Needham on 6th February 1866 at Chapel-En-Le-Frith in Derbyshire.

In 1871 Sarah was living at West Street, Whittington with her two children; John aged 4 and Mary aged 2. John was born in Combs, Derbyshire around 1867 and so it would appear that the family moved to New Whittington some time around 1868/9 as Mary was born in the village.  Joseph was not living with Sarah on census night, he may well have been working away from home.  

More children followed; Joseph in 1872, Sarah Ann in 1877, Herbert in 1878, Alice in 1880, Martha in 1882. William was born at some time around the end of 1884 to the beginning of 1885 and another son named James Wilfred was born at the end of 1885 **please see the bottom if this post for my comments regarding James Wilfred and William. 

Sadly two of the children died; Mary died in 1873 aged just 4 years old. She was buried at New Whittington on 10th August 1873.  On 4th September 1885 eldest son John died aged just 18 years old.  He was admitted to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where he later died.

By 1891 Sarah and had moved to London Street, still in the same village of New Whittington.  However, neither William or his father Joseph are noted on the census returns.  

1901 finds Sarah now living at 69 South Street and described on the census as "widow".  It looks likely that her husband Joseph had recently died that same year.  Her two children; Martha and James W were still living at home with her.  Once more there is no mention of William Needham.

Joseph her son was living a few doors away at number 66, he had married Edith Wrigglesworth on 21st October 1895. The couple had a young son named Herbert aged 4 years old.  

Sarah Ann, William's sister had married John William Thompson on 24th September 1899 at Chapeltown, Near Sheffield.  John was a pattern maker and they had one son named Charlie, he was one year old on the 1901 census.  The young family were living at Bredbury in Cheshire.

Herbert had married Minnie Fletcher on Christmas Eve 1900, the newly weds were living at 87 High Street, New Whittington.  Herbert worked as a coal miner hewer.

Alice had also married, she had become step mother to another of the soldiers named on the St Barnabas Memorial when she married Thomas O'Brien in 1900.  Alice and Thomas O'Brien were living at 16 Bamford Street in 1901, with Thomas' children from his first marriage; Mary, Catherine and Thomas and their own child a son named William.  (Thomas jnr was killed in action on 22nd February 1916, his story can be read here). 

1911 the eve of war....

Move on ten years to 1911 and William is finally found on the census returns living with his siblings; Herbert and Joe.  Their mother Sarah was not living in New Whittington, whether she had died or moved is not known at this time.

William was enumerated on the census return as "Willie" aged 25 he worked as a coal miner.  They were all living in Herbert's home at 4 Cross London Street, New Whittington.  Herbert and Minnie Needham now had a son; 10 year old Arthur. 

William's other brother Joe and his son Herbert were also living in the same household.  

Sarah and John Thompson were still living in Bredbury at 4 Dark Lane. They had two more children by now; William aged 3 and Evelyn aged 1 year.  

Alice and Thomas O'Brien were living at 116 Crown Yard, Thomas was employed as an locomotive engine driver.  They had his son Thomas living with them along with Annie, Margaret and John from their own marriage.

Martha was living at 65 South Street, New Whittington in 1911.  She had married her sweet heart Solomon Ward on 15th July 1903.  The couple had two sons; Enoch aged 7 and Arthur 6 months of age.

James Wilfred was not recorded on the 1911 census.

William's war....

Unfortunately William's service records have not survived, nor does he appear to have been given an obituary in any of the local newspapers. William served with the 10th Battalion Sherwood Forester Regiment, many of the local men also served in this regiment.  William was known as Private 14928.  

Not knowing when William enlisted or when he first went into action it is difficult to ascertain what service he saw.  On 1st July 1916 the 10th Battalion were given orders to move to prepare for battle.  They collected supplies from Becourt Wood and moved out towards Fricourt. On 2nd July the battalion began their advance on Fricourt Wood at 12 noon.  The advance was slow though and held up several times due to the positions being held by the enemy.

On the 3rd July they were given orders to attack Railway Alley along with the 7th Border Regiment and 7th Lincolnshire Regiment.  The war diary states that the attack was "in every way successful and the casualties comparatively light".  The attack resulted in the garrison of the enemy showing the white flag and surrendering.  The battalion were able to move on and occupy Crucifix Trench.  The night was spent consolidating and patrolling the newly acquired ground, however they were under continued bombardment from enemy attack and sniper fire. On 4th July the men were relieved from their duties and marched weary in the rain to billets at Ville.

August 1916 came and the battalion received orders to move from their billets near Albert to the trenches at Pommiers Redoubt.  That night and the following morning the men spent time collecting supplies.  On 3rd August they were given further orders that they were to leave by daylight on 4th August and move to relieve the 22nd Royal Fusiliers near to Mine Trench.  

No rest for the battalion as on 5th August they were moved on once more to relieve the 9th Duke of Wellington Regiment at Longueval.  This was no easy task as the ground had been so heavily shelled there was some large shell holes which were joining together which "made work extremely difficult".

The following days were spent carrying out several unsuccessful attacks on Delville Wood.  Each time the battalion were unable to push forward and "establish a line of posts outside the wood".  On 8th August the battalion were to relieve the 7th Lincolnshire Regiment.  This was once again not an easy manoeuvre and the battalion did not arrive in the trenches vacated until 7.30am on 9th August.  Within the battalion three of the companies were now stationed in the trenches at Montauban Alley, the fourth company was stationed in a new trench situated in between Longueval and Montauban.

The war diary gives the following statistics for casualties for the days of 4th to the 9th August 1916 -

"Officers - 7 wounded (1 of which with shell shock)

Other Ranks - 
38 killed,
5 died of wounds,
148 wounded,
23 missing"

William was killed in action on 9th August 1916.  He has no known grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France.  Ref pier and face 10C 10D and 11A.

Private 14928, William Needham was awarded the Victory and British Medals for his service.

Siblings names noted on Soldiers Effects register
co www.ancestry.co.uk
Piecing together the life of William Needham has not been a simple task, he does not appear on all of the British census returns.  However, the register of his effects and whom received the pension payments after William's death do confirm that his siblings were; Joseph, Herbert, Sarah A Thompson and Martha A Ward.  

Life went on....

Joseph Needham and Edith were still living in New Whittington at the time of WW1.  What became of them after that time in unknown for now.  If they remained in the New Whittington area then Joseph may have died in 1946.

Sarah Ann and John Thompson remained living in Bredbury, Cheshire. John died in 1922 aged just 51 years old.  Sarah was living alone at 4 Vernon Road, Bredbury in 1939.  Sarah may have died in 1958 but this would need further confirmation.

Herbert Needham appears to have remained in New Whittington.  On the 1939 Register Herbert and Minnie were living at 87 London Street. Herbert was out of work at the time.  

Alice and Thomas went on to have what appears to be a very turbulent marriage.  However, they had five children; William, Annie, Margaret, John and Sarah.  John died less than one year old in 1911.  Alice also died at a young age in 1915, she was just 36 years old.  Alice's story can be read in more detail here.

Martha and Solomon Ward also continued to live in New Whittington. They had another son named George in 1913.  The family were living at 63 South Street in 1939.  Martha died in 1951 aged 69 years of age.

James Wilfred Needham remain a mystery, if anyone can add anything to their story please contact me.

** MY THOUGHTS..... is William "Willie" Needham actually James Wilfred Needham??  No census records both males living with their siblings in the same year.  A check of the General Register Office birth registers confirm that the children of Joseph and Sarah Royle all had the birth mother as Royle; the only name not registered is William Needham.  This however could be an error, or maybe they never got round to registering both boys in 1885?? 


If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on William Needham 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  -
Parish registers
Medal rolls
Soldiers who died in the Great war
Register of soldiers effects
Service record - www.ancestry.co.uk