Having spent a decade or more researching the Brimington soldiers, we were asked if we could try and find the 25 men on the Calow Memorial who had perished in the Great war.
These men proved a little easier to identify because the memorial gave their rank and regiment, although we found some errors with the regiments listed against their names. But the search for the soldiers proved just as poignant and emotional as we began to uncover who they were. For we were ever aware that these were the young men from a small Derbyshire village who went off to war with a sense of duty, adventure and patriotism - and perished.
Once more we set off for France and Belgium to pay our respects this time to the Calow men. Armed with newly made Calow plaques and remembrance crosses we visited their cemeteries and memorials.
Rifleman George Harold Bonsall
60307 8th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
Died: 27th September 1918
Blackburn Villa, Calow
Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery, France
Rifleman Bonsall was born in Matlock in 1900, to Thomas and Florence. The family moved around for the next few years, eventually settling in Calow at Blackburn Cottage, Top Road. George was called up for service on 28th April 1917; his occupation was recorded as ‘coal miner’ and his medical record states he was 5’6” tall weighed 9 stone and was physically fit. During his initial training he was hospitalised in Staffordshire for a month with severe tonsillitis but was declared fit in time to prepare for his embarkation to the Western front. His battalion was shipped to France on 1st April 1918 and he was killed in action a few months later 27th September 1918. He died attacking the French village of Flesquieres, which was held by a single German officer and a few men, until the British using tanks retook the ground but with heavy losses which included the Calow soldier. He was barely 19 years old. Rifleman Bonsall’s grave if located at Plot I. F. 1
Private Albert Bradley
204431 2nd Bn South Staffordshire Regiment
Died 3rd February 1918
Gladstone Cottages, Calow
Metz-en-couture community cemetery, France
Born in Calow to parents Henry and Rose, Albert Bradley was one of 9 children, and lived at Gladstone Cottages, Calow. He worked as a grocer’s shop assistant. He joined the forces in 1915 serving first with the RASC then with the South Staffs . He was killed in action around the Gouzeaucourt area in France, in 1918 and was 23 years old.
Private Bradley’s grave is located: Plot II G 19
Private Thomas R Brown
101701 3rd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt)
Died 13th Nov 1918
Station Road, Brimington
Leeds (Harehills) Cemetery, Yorkshire
Private Brown was born in the village and joined the forces on the 25th January 1917. He had lived at 142 Station Road with his parents Tom and Ann Brown, and his occupation at the time of his enlistment is stated as a ‘hawker’, although he had been a miner when he was younger. Initially he was part of the Training Reserve Battalion, before being transferred to the Sherwood Foresters. And according to his records he never served abroad. He had been a colourful character and his short army career was far from exemplary. He was 32 years old when he died and was unmarried. He died 2 days after the signing of the Armistice and his death in a Leeds hospital was not war related and with respect for his descendants the cause of his death will not be mentioned here. He is buried in Leeds Harehills cemetery.
Also remembered on Brimington Memorial
Private Frank Cooper
11968 7th Bn Lincoln’s
Died 11th July 1916
Cotterhill Lane, Brimington
Mericourt-L'Abbe Communal Cemetery, France
Private Cooper joined the forces in September 1914 and following his basic training in the south of England he was sent to the western front in July 1915. He first saw action around the Ypres salient and as part of the 1st Brigade 17th (Northern) Division; his battalion were engaged in the Spring offensive in 1916 at Delville wood and at the Battle of Albert. In July he was injured at the Battle of the Somme and died of his wounds some days later. He was married to a local girl, Elsie (Swift) and had two small children, a son Francis and daughter Lily, and lived in Cotterhill Lane.
Private Cooper grave is located : II C 18
Rifleman Norman Bryan Donkin
S/491 8th Bn Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own)
Died 30th July 1915
Remembered on the Menin Gate, Ypres Belgium
Born in Surrey, Rifleman Donkin was the great -grandson of the famous engineer Bryan Donkin. And he came to Chesterfield, first to study engineering and then to work at his great -grandfathers business in the town. He married into an eminent Calow family, when he wed Catherine Verner in January 1915 and a few months later in May he joined the forces, enlisting in Westminster. He was shipped almost immediately to Belgium. His battalion was in action right from the start defending the Ypres Salient from the persistent enemy attacks. And it was at Hooge, just outside the town of Ypres that he was killed, and where the use of flamethrowers was used for the first time by the Germans. He had been a soldier for only two months when he died. He was 22 years old and has no known grave.
Rifleman Donkin is remembered on Panel 46-48 on the Memorial
Corporal Harry Evans
26110 5th Bn King's (Shropshire Light Infantry)
Died 22nd August 1917
Top Road, Calow
Remembered: Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele, Belgium
Corporal Harry Evans was born in Lincoln in 1886, but came to live in Duckmanton with his parents William and Margaret when he was about 5 years old. The family moved to Top Road in Calow, and Harry followed his father in the joinery business. Originally joining the Sherwood Foresters regiment at the outbreak of war, Harry was eventually transferred to the Shropshire Light Infantry and was made acting Corporal. After seeing action in the heavy fighting of the Somme area in 1916, his battalion was moved to Belgium as part of the 42nd Brigade 14th (Light) Division, in readiness for the assault on the German stronghold around Langemark. On home leave during late 1916 he was married at St Peters church, to a local girl from Top Road Calow – Mary Eliza Gascoigne, and in spring the following year Mary gave birth to a daughter, Katherine. Corporal Evans was killed in action at the battle of Passchendaele on 22nd August 1917. He has no known grave and was 31 years old when he died
The Corporals name can be found on Panel 112/ 113 on the memorial
42048 2nd/5th Bn Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
Died 20th November 1917
Berry House, Calow
Hermies Hill British Cemetery, France
Private Fry was born in 1897, in South Normanton, Derbyshire to James and Jane Fry. They were farmers and around 1907 the family came to live at Berry House, Calow where Percy helped his father on the farm. He enlisted early in 1917 when recruiting officers visited Chesterfield, hoping to entice the town’s young men to join the West Yorkshire Regiment. After completing his basic training, Private Fry was shipped to France where he met his death on 20th November 1917 aged just 20. Private Fry is buried in Plot II B 7
Private Walter Gibson
8194 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment)
Died 1st July 1916
Gate House, Calow Green
Blighty Valley Cemetery, Somme, France
Born in Rutland in 1876, Walter Gibson came to live in the area around 1910, residing first at Arkwright Town before moving to ‘The Gate House’ at Calow Green. He had married his wife Elizabeth (Smith) in 1900 and was a platelayer for the Great Central Railways before he enlisted in the army in August 1915. For the next year his battalion saw some of the fiercest action on the western front and in late June 1916 his unit was moved to the Somme in readiness for the planned offensive. On the 1st July he would have been in the trenches in Authuille Wood -which formed part of ‘Blighty Valley’ - as the battalion came under heavy German bombardment and PrivateGibson was killed. He left wife and four children and was 39 years old when he died.
Private Gibson is buried in Plot V A 13
Private Henry (Harry) Goucher
46519 4th Bn Prince of
Wales's (North Staffordshire Regiment)
Died 25th March 1918
Chesterfield Road, Calow.
Remembered: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France
Born in Calow in 1894, Harry Goucher was the son of Thomas- a well known blacksmith and mother Margaretta, who lived at Chesterfield Road in the village. In February 1917 Harry enlisted in the army, initially in a training battalion until he was later transferred to the North Staffs regiment in June of that year. He married Gertrude Brownlow of Plover Hill Farm on the 28th May 1917 and embarked for France in October. His unit was kept in reserve until March 1918, when they were involved in the heavy fighting at the 1st Battle of Bapaume, and Private Goucher was killed in action there on 25th March at the age of 24. He has no known grave. Private Goucher is remembered on panel 67/68
Private George Hoskin
15155 10th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment)
Died 14th February 1916
Snowberry Cottages, Cock Alley Calow,
Remembered on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
Born in 1892 the son of William & Theresa, of Snowberry Cottages, Cock Alley Calow, George was a pony driver down the pit just prior to his enlistment in the army. He married Hanna Wright from Bole Hill, Calow in 1913 and had a daughter Muriel born the following year. His battalion was sent to France in July 1915 and moved almost immediately into the notorious, bloody Ypres Salient. And it was there that Private Hoskin met his death on the 14th February 1916. He was 24 years old and has no known grave.
Private Hoskins is remembered on Panel 39-41
Driver Albert Longden
L/7942 Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Died 27th October 1918 Age: 37
Jubilee Cottages, Calow
Buried at Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium
Born in 1881 at Cock Alley, Calow to William and Sarah Longden, Albert married in 1907, and lived at Jubilee Cottages, Calow where his son Albert was born. He enlisted in the army almost from the outbreak of war in 1914 by which time his family had moved to Bolsover. By September 1918 the soldier found himself engaging the enemy in Belgium where his division met heavy fighting around the town of Harlebeke. The village was eventually taken on the night of 19-20th October when it is believed Driver Longden was severely wounded, and where he died of his wounds a week later. He was 37 years old.
Driver Longden is buried in Plot XV111
Private Wilfred Mellor
11596 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment)
Died 2 March 1915 Age 23
7 Dingle Bank, Calow
Buried: Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard, Laventie, France
Born in Calow in 1892, and one of eight children of Jabez and Mary Mellor, Wilfred - upon leaving school
became a miner in a local pit. By 1911 the Mellor’s family were living at 7 Dingle Bank, Calow. Private Mellor’s joined the reserve forces in 1911 as a 19 year old and trained regularly with the
local Territorial Army reserves. According to his army medical record he was 5’ 7” tall, weighed 9stone 9lbs and had brown hair and brown eyes. He was killed in France on 2nd March 1915 aged
Private Mellors is buried in plot III K 10
Private Albert Perrins
40153 1st Bn Royal Irish Fusiliers
Died 7th July 1918
Age 25 Bole Hill, Calow
Buried: Berlin South–Western Cemetery, Germany
One of thirteen children of Walter and Mary Perrins, Albert was born in Hendon Middlesex, but moved to Bole Hill, Calow as a young boy. On leaving school he worked as a carter in a brickyard and he joined the war effort in December 1915 and after initial training was sent out to France By 1917 he had fought through some of the most notorious battles of the war, at Scarpe and Arras, before moving on to Belgium and the battles of Ypres and Langemark. And it was at Langemark that it is recorded the soldier was taken prisoner by the Germans and transported back to Germany where he was held in the Stendal POW camp. He was there for only a short time before he died. His father was informed by the British War Office that his son had died of ‘intestinal infection” on 7th July 1918. The soldier was eventually buried in Berlin South-Western cemetery near Brandenburg, Germany. In 1922-23 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries. Berlin South-Western was one of those chosen and in 1924-25 graves were brought into the cemetery from 146 burial grounds in eastern Germany.
Private Perrins in buried in plot III. B. 3
Prisoner of War
Private Harry Perrins
203639 1st/5th Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Died: 03 October 1918
Bole Hill, Calow
Buried at Ramicourt British Cemetery
One of eleven children of Walter and Mary Perrins, Harry was born in St Albans, but moved to Bole Hill, Calow as a young boy. His brother Albert also perished in the war. Harry volunteered for war effort in December 1915 and was assigned to the Army reserve unit which remained in England until March 1917 when he was reassigned to the Sherwood Foresters and sent to France. In September 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal but he was killed just three weeks later on the 3rd October, aged 22. He died defending the French village of Ramicourt, against a ferocious German attack, and is buried close to where he fell. Private Perrins is buried in Grave Ref: A43
Private James Reddish
42328 12th Bn Norfolk Regiment
Died 6th September 1918
Jubilee Cottages, Calow
Buried: Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Belgium
Private Reddish born in 1899 was one of 12 children born to John and Mary Reddish of Jubilee Cottages, Calow. The young soldier originally joined the Leicester Regiment at just 17 years old, but was transferred to the Norfolk Regiment shortly before he was killed. It is though he was killed during the defence of the Kemmel front, on the final advance of September 1918 He was 19 years old .
Private Reddish is buried in Grave Ref : IV D 3
Private Robert V Scarborough
14086 7th Bn Leicestershire Regiment
Died: 1st October 1917
Top Road, Calow
Buried at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Belgium
Private Scarborough was born in Chesterfield, and lived with his mother and brothers at Top Road Calow. He worked as a maltster’s labourer for a local brewer when he joined the army on 1st September 1914, and his service records states he was 5’6” tall, with light brown hair and blue-grey eyes. He spent the next 10 months in England in a reserve unit until he was sent out to France 29th July 1915. His unit saw action in most of the major battles of late 1915 and 1916, in France and Belgium. And he was mentioned in dispatches in January 1917 for bravery. He was killed in action near Messines, Belgium on the 1st October 1917. He was 33 years old and unmarried. Private Scarborough is buried in Grave ref : VIII D 15
Private Scarboroughs grave with the cross and plaque laid on behalf of CALOW
Private Harry Simpson
38928 1st Bn Lincolnshire Regiment
Died: 23rd March 1918
Top Road, Calow
Remembered: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France
Private Harry Simpson was born in Calow, the son of Charles and Sarah Ann. Charles Simpson was a well known blacksmith who traded from Top Road, Calow. Private Simpson joined the forces sometime during 1917, when he was almost 18 years old. His elder brother John Arthur joined the Sherwood Foresters almost at the same time. Harry was sent out to the western front almost immediately his basic training was completed, and in February 1918 his battalion was sent to the Somme where the Germans were planning a final Spring offensive to try and take back the initiative. Private Simpson was killed in action at Pozieres, on 23rd March 1918, he was 19 years old. He is remembered on Panel 23/24 of the memorial
Private Arthur Thorpe
241176 1/6th Bn Sherwood Foresters ( Notts & Derbys)
Died: 24th April 1917
Jubilee Cottages, Calow
Buried : Fosse No 10 Community Cemetery Extension, Sains-en-Gohelle, France
Private Arthur Thorpe was born in Ruskington, Lincolnshire to William and Betsy Anne Thorpe. He moved to Calow sometime around 1914 and lived at Jubilee Cottages. He joined the army on 26th January 1915, and was shipped to France in October of that year. According to his army records, he was only 5’ 3” tall and weighed less than 9 stone. Nevertheless he was involved in some of the most fearsome battles on the western front for the next two years. On the 23rd April 1917, he was serious injured and died of his wounds the following day. His personal affects, a diary, comb, photos and pocket book, were sent to his mother in Lincolnshire. He was 26 years old and unmarried.
Private Thorpe is buried in grave ref : I C 26
Verner brothers of Spring House, Calow
Private J Adrian Verner
12th (Sheffield Bn) Yorks & Lancaster Regiment
Died 1st July 1916
Private Richard H Verner
12th (Sheffield Bn) Yorks & Lancaster Regiment
Died 1st July 1916
Sons of Julius Anton Verner a Russian immigrant who was the chief surveyor at The Staveley Iron and Coal Company. The brothers were born at Woodthorpe Hall, Staveley and moved to Spring House Farm, Calow with their family in the late 1890’s. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the brothers travelled together to sign up in Sheffield. They enlisted side by side and were given consecutive army numbers as they joined the 12th Bn, Yorks & Lancs Regiment – the famous Sheffield Pals battalion. The brothers were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme,
presumably side by side and neither has a known grave
Sergeant James Wakenshaw
9419 10th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers
Died: 31st March 1918
Laid to rest in a military grave in
St John- Seaton Hirst Church, Ashington, Northumberland
Sergeant James Wakenshaw was born in Northumberland in 1874. He was a soldier in the Boer War – serving in the Coldstream Guards from 1896 until his discharge in 1902 and at that time he gave his address as Calow Green. He married Annie Elizabeth Carrington in Chesterfield shortly after his discharge.
By 1911 he had returned to Northumberland where is three children were born and was working as a miner. At the outbreak of the Great War he volunteered and joined the 10th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, and served for some two and a half years before – possibly due to ill health he was transferred to a rest camp near Boulogne before being shipped back to England in early 1917. He returned to working as a miner and according to his records he was denied his army pension for some time and continued to appeal for financial help as his health began to suffer. He eventually died in Ashington, Northumberland on 31st March 1918, and was given a military funeral before being laid to rest in a military grave in Seaton Hirst Churchyard aged 44
Private Albert Warmsley
16022 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys) Regiment
Died 16th September 1917
Cock Alley, Calow
Buried Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium
Born in Towcester, Northampton in 1881, Private Walmsley was the son of George, a chimneysweep, and mother Susan.
He married his Prudence in 1899 and by 1910 he was living in Cock Alley Calow with his wife and two children, Albert and Olive and working as a miner in a local pit.
It is thought he enlisted the forces in Chesterfield in early 1915, and was sent to France in August of that year and within a month his battalion was engaged in a minor role in the Loos Battle. The 11th battalion also took part in the opening day of the Somme offensive on 1st July 1916, and suffered such grievous losses it was relieved that night.
In 1917 Private Walmsley was involved in the second Ypres battle for Passchendaele ridge, and it was during this time near the Hooge Chateau that he was killed in action on the 16th September.
He was 35 years old.
Private Walmsley’s grave is located : II B 2R
Private Frederick Watts
241446 1/6th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys) Regiment
Died: 12th March 1918 Age 29
‘The Fold’ Calow
Buried: Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, France
Private Frederick Watts was born in Hasland in 1889, to Joseph & Caron Watts. A miner in a local pit he moved to Calow around 1910 and lodged at ‘The Fold’.
In December 1911 he married a local girl – Mary Ann Cartwright, and lived at Calow and Arkwright. They had two children Carron Kezia, born January 1913 and a son Frederick born in 1914.
There are some discrepancies to his army service. He first tried to join the Sherwood Foresters in September 1914, but was discharged immediately due to ‘a previous pelvic injury ‘ which the report says ‘...would prevent him from being an effective soldier’ But obviously he was keen to join the forces, and so tried again on 22nd January 1915, this time with the Lancashire Fusiliers. He lasted until May of that year when he was discharged again due to epilepsy.
Eventually he did manage to join the Sherwood’s and was injured then died of his wounds 12th Mar 1918 - the same day as Brimington man Harold Dolby, who also died of wounds and is buried beside Private Watts. Private Dolby is on the left Private Watts - right.
Boy 1st Class - John Joseph D Wilson RN
J27152 RNVR HMS Hawke
Died: 15th October 1914
Top Road, Calow
Remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial
John Joseph Dexter Wilson was born in Mansfield but moved to Top Road, Calow with his parents; Joseph and Annie who ran the grocers shop there. Not long after war was declared young John, joined the navy. (Boy 1st class - a boy aged 16 to 18 under Training, who had previously served for between 9 months and 18 months rated as "boy 2nd class", shown sufficient proficiency in seamanship and accumulated at least one good conduct badge) He was killed within weeks, drowned at sea, and his body never recovered. A report of the sinking is below. He was just 16 years old
Sinking of HMS Hawke
Early in the First World War, Hawke, commanded by Capt. Hugh P.E.T. Williams, was engaged in various operations in the North Sea. On 15 October 1914 Hawke, sailing with her sister ship Theseus, and was torpedoed by German submarine U-9. The submarine's first torpedo missed Theseus but hit Hawke, igniting a magazine and causing a tremendous explosion which ripped much of the ship apart. Hawke sank in a few minutes with the loss of her captain, 26 officers and 497 men; only 70 of her 594 crew survived.
Private Herbert Worth
26718 Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Died: 3rd October 1917
Buried: Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery, Belgium
Born in Towcester, Northamptonshire, Private Worth was the son of Walter and Marie, who moved to Calow, sometime around 1912. In 1914 he married a local Calow girl, Harriet Newbold and almost immediately he enlisted in the army – joining the Sherwood Foresters on the 26th August 1914. His army service records reveal he was 5’2” tall and had a finger missing due to an accident. And movement of his hand was also impaired, yet he was passed as physically fit. He went out to France in March 1915, and just 2 months later he suffered a gunshot wound to his head and was sent home to England again. He had recovered sufficiently to be returned to the front in spring 1916 when he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. During this time he was hospitalised with a stomach complaint and spent a few weeks away from the front line and during this time he was disciplined for ‘’using offensive language to an NCO ‘’ and ‘appearing on parade without shaving’ He was killed in action in the Ypres area on the 3rd October 1917, just four months after his only child – Lionel was born. The soldier was 23 years old.
Because of his misconducts, his widow and child were denied a special allowance of 9 shillings a week by the War Office Special Grants committee and so received only 3/6d week for the loss of a husband and father
Private Worth is buried in the same grave as another soldier
Not Forgotten Brimington Not Forgotten Brimington