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.

Friday, 9 September 2016



Private S/9728

8th/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Killed in action - 9th September 1916

Harry Griffin was the son of John and Selina Griffin.  Born in New Whittington in the early months of 1891, Harry was one of ten children in the Griffin family. 

Derbyshire Times 3rd April 1875 p 5

Harry's parents John Griffin and Selina Adams married on 1st April 1875.  They were married at Chesterfield Parish Church, The Crooked Spire.  It was a joint wedding celebration as Selina's sister Charlotte married her husband Henry Baxter at the same time.  

Selina was a local girl, born in Brimington but John was from Northamptonshire.  Their first child was born later that same year, a son named John after his father.  Another son followed in 1879 named James and a daughter named Jane was born in 1881.  The census of that same year finds the Griffin family living on London Street.  John snr was a fireman employed by Midland Railways.

By the 1891 census John and Selina had five more children; Walter 1883, Constance Ethel 1885, Bertie 1887, Fred 1889 and Harry in 1891. Sadly for the family little Constance died in 1889, she was just four years of age.  John had been promoted to engine driver, a good career move.  The better wages may have influenced the family moving home to live on Wellington Street.

More loss for the Griffin family....

Derbyshire Times 6th March 1897 p5

Another daughter was born in 1894, Elsie Eleanor was the last child for the Griffin family.  On 1st March 1897 more bad news befell the family when John, the head of the household died aged just 46 years old. The year later in 1898 more sadness came when Harry's elder brother James also died.  James was 18 years of age and was buried at Whittington on 14th February 1898.

The next decade....

Harry and his mother Selina and siblings Walter, Bertie, Fred and Elsie were still living at 87 Wellington Street.  Harry was aged 10 years of age and would attend school.  Walter, aged 18 years worked as a pony driver at the coal mines; Bertie aged 14 years worked at the brush factory.

The rest of the family had married and started their own lives;

John jnr married Mary Maria Brough on 31st July 1899 at Whittington. His first son, Percy was born in 1901.  The young family were living at 22 Cross Wellington Street.  John was employed as a railway engine stoker, following in his fathers footsteps.

Jane had married her sweetheart John Thomas Bakeman in the early months of 1900.  A daughter named Gladys was 7 months old in 1901, when the family lived at 26 Cross Wellington Street (just a few doors away from her brother John and his family).  Jane's husband was also employed by the railways, he worked as a guard. 

1911 the eve of WW1....

Harry, mum Selina, Bertie, Fred and Elsie still lived at 87 Wellington Street.  Harry was now earning a wage as he worked as a coal filler below ground.  His brothers Bertie and Fred both worked at the Iron Foundry.  

John jnr and Mary had moved home to 36 South Street.  John was still working as a loco engine stoker. Percy was now 10 years old and they also had a young daughter called after her Grandmother; Selina aged 4 years old.  The couple had also lost a daughter named Ivy; born in 1905 Ivy died that same year.

Jane and John Bakeman had moved across the road to 15 Cross Wellington Street.  They have a son named Arthur who was just 1 year old.  John had slightly changed his employment, still employed by the railways he was a railway traffic foreman.  

Walter married Beatrice Pateman in 1908 at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.  Beatrice was born in Melton Mowbray and so when the couple married they lived with her parents John and Mary Pateman, at 5 Park Avenue, Melton Mowbray.  Walter was employed as an iron pipe maker.  They had two daughters; Elise Hannah and Edith Mary.

Harry's war....

Harry's service records have not survived but it is possible to build a picture of his service from his medal card, CWGC certificate, obituary and the war diary.

Harry joined the Gordon Highlanders in April 1915, Private S/9728. When he died he was attached to the 8th/10th Battalion.  This battalion was the result of the 8th and 10th battalion's merging in the May of 1916.  They were part of the 44th Brigade, 15th Scottish Division.

In June 1916 the two battalions had been working together for a couple of weeks. They were based at Vermelles in France when the news of the "Great Battle of Jutland"  the war diary tells "which reads most disastrous for us".  The morale of the men was probably put down immensely upon hearing the loss of fourteen British Naval Ships.  

Only days later the war diary is telling of another tragedy for the troops "Persistent rumours during the afternoon of the drowning of Lord Kitchener were confirmed in afternoon much to the consternation of all ranks".  Lord Kitchener was the British Minister for War, he was drowned off the coast of Orkney when the ship he was on board named the "Hampshire" hit a German mine.  

For the men of the 8th/10th Gordon Higlanders the days were spent undertaking training, carrying out tasks as working parties and being bombarded by mortar bombs and several gas attacks by the Germans.

Accidental bomb fatality....

The battalion were stationed at La Bourse on 1st July 1916 when 2nd Lieutenant Riddel was demonstrating how to use a general grenade. the said grenade accidentally exploded, killing Riddel and wounding 20 other men.  The 2nd Lieutenant was described as a "valuable and gallant officer", he was given a funeral that same afternoon at Sailly Sur Bourse.  

News also filtered throughout that day that the 3rd and 4th British Armies had commenced an advance over 17 miles of area known as the Somme.  

Harry and his colleagues were put to some heavy work mending and building some very poor trenches around the areas La Bourse and Vermelles.  Interestingly the numbers of prisoners that had been taken at the Somme offensive were relayed to Harry and the battalions; no where however did the war diary state that they were aware of the number of casualties which had been sustained during that terrible attack.

Off to The Somme....

The end of July into the early days of August the men marched many miles, they were on their way to play their parts in that great offensive at the Somme.  They arrived at Albert on 8th August 1916 where they took up their position in reserve.  Over the coming days the battalion were under some very heavy bombardment, moving each day to a different position.  The war diary describes the trenches that the men had to occupy as "mere ditches having been heavily bombarded by our own artillery in capturing them and badly damaged since by the Enemys heavy guns".

On 23rd August Harry may well have witnessed a French plane being brought down close to their trenches, amazingly the pilot escaped unhurt.  The month of August in the trenches around Contalmasion was a terrifying month of making progress, taking prisoners to being heavily shelled and bombarded by the enemy. Eventually on 30th August a reprieve was given and the battalion were marching away from the fighting past Albert to rest.  They were even given "an issue of rum which the men required badly and much appreciated".

September 1916....

Now resting in Bivouac Harry and his friends would enjoy the relative peace, the camp was said to have been made "comfortable and cheerful".  Reinforcements arrived to join the battalion, some experienced soldiers returning after being injured and some newer recruits.

On 9th September the battalion were relieving in the trenches at Bazentin Le Petit.  The days dairy states that the relief went without concern, other than a German aeroplane watching closely overhead. The diary does however state that "some of our own 18 par guns are also firing short and we had 3 casualties (1 killed) from them".  

The battalion set about digging new trenches, but were witnessed by the enemy which opened rapid fire on them.  The reported casualty figures for that day of 9th September 1916 were -

Killed - 5
Wounded - 15
Missing -1

Private Harry Griffin S/9728 was killed on 9th September 1916.  

Private Harry Griffin is buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetery, Mametz, France; grave reference IV. J. 10.  His grave is marked simply with the sign of the cross, no other inscriptions were added by Harry's family.

Private S/9728 Harry Griffin was awarded the Victory, British and 15 Star Medals for his service.  Harry's medal card was incorrectly labeled with the spelling GriffEn.

Harry was remembered in the Derbyshire Times 23rd September 1916 page 4, along with a photograph the obituary read....

"News filtered through last weekend stating that Pte. Harry Griffin,
of the Gordon Highlanders, who lived with his widowed mother
at New Whittington, had fallen in action.

The deceased a sturdily built young fellow of 26, joined 
the Gordons in April 1915, and after his period of training
went to France some nine months ago.  Before enlisting
he worked as a miner at Oxcroft Colliery.

In a letter to his mother the Chaplain says-
"I regret to inform you that your son was killed on September 9th.
It was my sad duty to perform the burial service.  His grave is
situated near a small wood called Villa Wood, and 
a suitable cross inscribed with his name and regiment
has been erected on the grave.  May I offer you my
sincere sympathy.  He has laid down his life in a 
great and noble cause, and I am sure he is now reaping
the reward of his sacrifice.  May every Divine consolation
be yours in your sorrow".

His Platoon Lieutenant also writes:-
"I regret to say your son was killed by a shell while
bravely doing his duty in the front line.  He was in the 
Machine Gun Section and I always found him a brave,
steady man, and I deeply regret his loss.  His death
must be a heavy blow to you, but you have the consolation
that he died in the glorious service of his country
like many (an)other brave fellow".

Mrs Blakeman, a sister of the dead soldier, also received 
a letter from one of his chums, who was on the point
of leaving for a furlough.  In it he says he and Harry 
were always together and were in the trenches on 8th
September when he received his pass for leave.  Before departing he gave me a belt and asked that I would send it you in 
New Whittington.  Soon after this conversation Harry 
was instantly killed by a shell.  In concluding the writer says 
there is nothing to regret in his death; he died a hero
for King and Country, and those at home"

Life went on....

Selina Griffin Harry's mother died in 1919.  

John jnr and his wife Mary lost their eldest son Percy in the autumn of 1911, aged just 10 years of age.  The young boy was sadly buried on 6th December 1911 at Whittington.  The couple went on to have another daughter named Phoebe in 1913.  John died in Chesterfield in 1951 and Mary lived on until 1961.

Annie Griffin is missing from the 1901 and 1911 census.  Whether she died or married is not known at this time.  If anyone can add to her story please do let me know.

Jane and John Bakeman remained living in New Whittington with their two children.  John died in 1935.  On the 1939 Register Jane was living alone at 62 Brearley Avenue.  She died in 1949 aged 68 years old.

Walter and his wife Beatrice spent their lives in Melton Mowbray.  They had another son named John in 1918.  Walter and his family were living at 23 Elms Road in 1939.  He was employed as a transport crane driver. Walter died in 1961, Beatrice not long after in 1962.

Bertie married Annie Leeson in 1913.  On 1st September 1919 they named their son after Bertie's heroic brother; Harry Gordon (was the middle name Gordon taken from Harry's regiment the Gordon Highlanders?).  Bertie was employed as a colliery washerman.  The family lived at 35 Tapton View Road, Stonegravels. Bertie died on 11th January 1947.  He left his estate to his wife Annie and the sum of £558 15s 2d.

Fred married Bertha Bradbury in 1916.  The couple had a daughter named Hilda that same year.  Fred was employed as a slaters labourer. In 1939 he was living at 5 Devonshire Avenue, New Whittington with Bertha, Hilda and his mother in law Ada Bradbury.  Fred died in 1954 aged 65 years of age.

Elsie Eleanor was wed to Albert Taylor in 1915.  She had a son also named Albert in 1916.  The Taylor family remained in New Whittington, living at 107 Wellington Street.  Albert snr was employed as a fitter at the iron works.  Young Albert was an engineers time clerk.  Elsie died on 6th October 1978 aged 84 years old.


If you may be connected to this family or have any further information on Harry Griffin 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 Times 23rd September 1916 p4

No comments:

Post a Comment