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) had married on 29th March 1880 at New Whittington.  Arthur was from Grenoside, Sheffield and worked as 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 in the winter of 1880.

A daughter was next to be born, around 1883 she was named Mary Miranda, then followed John Arthur and in 1890 another girl named Mabel.  On the 1891 census the Andrews family were 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 and they were now living once more 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 at 30 South Street.  He was now 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 near by 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 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 Staveley Furnace.  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 most likely that Gladys was brought up by her childless Aunt and Uncle, her parents lived close by and would be able to play an active roll in her upbringing.

Mabel had married James Stewart McKim on 7th April 1906 in the village of New Whittington.  Her siblings William and Ellen signed the church register as witnesses.  On the 1911 census Mabel is listed as an inpatient at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.  She is recorded as having had two children, one which was still living one deceased.  She was also recorded as a widow, which I have not been able to confirm at this time. 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 7th 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 on 27th October 1915 he embarked from Southampton to join the British Expeditionary Force 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, 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 1st/6th Battalion were at Mont St Eloy when on 16th March 1916 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. George and his battalion were given practice 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 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". 

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"

Notes written on John's service record

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.
New 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 had moved to 142 South Street by December 1916, after Johns 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.  

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) 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.  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

No comments:

Post a Comment