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, 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


  1. I have just finished reading some of your blog, I was actually looking for information regarding the local War Memorial as I am away from home at the moment and wanted to visit on Remembrance Sunday. I feel after sitting reading that I atleast know some history behind some of the names when I go to pay my respects so thank you for all your hard work researching and giving these men a voice.

  2. Hi Sam, thank you for taking the time to read the blog and your kind words. I am glad that the men are being remembered all these years later, my efforts are worthwhile.