Thatcham Remembers

The Great War, or the First World War, now being 100 years old lasting from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918 has been celebrated by many and so I thought I would share some of the work I have undertaken with regards to the war. As a side note is we have celebrated 100 years ago the Armistice, technically the war did not end until the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919. In 2013 I started to research names on the Thatcham War Memorial, actually was doing research before that. 

When the memorial was erected there were 103 names on it, all of them organised by service and rank. The names have been added to and are no longer organised by service or rank. At the time I started research on the names on the War Memorial, 2013, there were 108 names present. Remember at the time (1914) the population of Thatcham was approximately 2,500. 

I wanted to find the connection each soldier had with Thatcham, that could be where they were born, lived or worked. With the information I selected just one piece from each soldier and decided to map them out using an old 1911 OS map.

Map showing the connection of soldiers from the First World War to Thatcham. Census, newspapers and other materials were used to identify where the soldiers were living, dated as close to 1914/8 as possible.

I also thought it would be good to identify where the soldiers died, were buried and where their memorials are. Again perhaps a little ambitious and so I have ended up mapping where their memorials are, ignoring the War Memorial and Church Roll.

Now on 11th November 2018 the complete list of soldiers from both the War Memorial and Roll of Honour in St. Mary's Church stands as:

F Allen J H Allen
H B Allwood A Amor
H A W Back A Bew
F Bew L Bew
F Bosley H J Bosley
H Bradbury H Breach
T G Breach E W Brown
A Browning W Q Butler
A Campon A E Chandler
A F Cook E Cook
H T Cook W A Cook
T W Cousens W E Cousens
G E Denness H Denness
R Diggins A Dodd
J Durbridge D Dyer
E Eldred H Farley
J Filtness A G Fisher
E Franklin F Franklin
H French A A Fry
E J Fry F A G Fyfield
A Gale C Gibbs
W Gibbs H M Glastonbury
C Goodchild J Green
L Green G Haines
A J Haines E Hall
G Hawkins B A Headlong
F H Headlong G W Headlong
M L H Holloway A House
W J Howells F J Hunt
L J Hunt V I Hutchins
W Hyde F J Jenkins
G Jenkins H V Jenkins
J J Jenkins R F Jenkins
R J Jenkins O Jennings
F C G Lawrence G Lawrence
W Long H C Mace
J Mace A R S Martin
F Marchant A Millsom
H Nailor H G Nailor
J Nightingale T J Nightingale
A V Owen F Palmer
A J Pearce G Pearce
W J Pearce W J Pike
A Pinnock E Pope
C Powell J Preston
W T Preston F J Prouting
A T Quelch C J Quelch
C Radbourne G Rogers
F Rolfe J Rolfe
F Rose H Rosier
C Rutter G T Rutter
P H Rutter W Savage
S M Simpson G Southey
H H G Stansfeld E J Stevens
W H Stevens W Street
J Thorne D Tidbury
G Tull A B Turner
C W Wallington F Westall
A Wheeler W S Whiting
H Wigmore W J Wigmore
H Witts  

This list includes 9 new names that were previously missed. I set out with the aim of identifying every one of the soldiers, that is I wanted to know who they were, where they were born, lived and so forth. Adding to that their military details. I have managed to create a family tree for most of the soldiers, identified regimental details and gained a picture of who they were. In addition I have been researching what Thatcham was like during those years. I have taken all the research I have done along with materials and research carried out by other local historians (Phil, Clive, Sue, Nathan) (also see West Berkshire War Memorials) and produced a book. The book printing arranged by Thatcham Town Council with the aid of a grant from Greenham Common Trust. Copies available via Thatcham Town Council.

The book produced by Thatcham Town Council using research from myself and other local historians.

A few interesting facts, based on research undertaken to date and not including the new soldiers added, are given below:

The Youngest

The youngest person to die was 18 year old Private Anthony George Dodd. Anthony was born in 1898 in Thatcham. He had a rough start to life with his mother, Margaret, passing away in 1900. The 1901 census has Anthony and his sister, Martha, living with George and Mary Cook in Northfield Road where they are described as “Nurse Children”. Essentially another family fostered them. Their father worked at a local mill and lived close by. Anthony was in the 35th Batallion, Training Reserve, his service number being TR/8/10086. He died 10th May 1917.

The Oldest

The oldest person to be killed was 40 year old E Pope. I am still researching this soldier.

The first

Petty Officer William Henry Stevens was the first person from Thatcham to die that I have identified so far. He was born 19th October 1887 in Thatcham. Initially the family lived in Station Road but later moved to Green Lane. His parents were William and Emily. William had eight brothers and sisters who are Emily, Ernest, Thomas, Edwin, Herbert, Harold and Alice. One I have not listed I have not been able to name.

William joined up with the Navy and last served on the HMS Hogue. The ship was part of the Southern Force in the North Sea on 22nd September 1914 when a German U-boat, U-9, on patrol surfaced and fired a torpedo. The U-boat dived again and the torpedo hit one of the ships. The U-boat rose again and fired more torpedoes this time hitting HMS Hogue. A number of ships were hit causing about 1,450 deaths.

The last

The last person to die before armistice was Private Albert James Haines of the  Royal Berkshire Regiment, service number 22330. He died 29th October 1918. His parents, who lived at Avenell's Cottages, were Thomas and Elizabeth who had at least six other children including Thomas, Sarah, Emily, Kate, Arthur and Herbert. 

Albert was placed in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and made the rank of Lance Corporal. However he was wounded and then transferred to the Labour Corp., his new service number being 454910, where he appears as a Private. He was killed and subsequently buried on 6th November 1918.

Update 2020 or 2025?

So is that it? No. I would still like to get a photo of every soldier, some of them I have no details at all and I would like to find details and then there are still soldiers that I am investigating that possibly need recognition on the memorial. It's not just research, the book will be enhanced, updated, there will be new maps and possibly interactive materials.

So why 2020 or 2025?

The War Memorial was unveiled in 1920 and this would be a nice target, however that is only two years, less taking into account printing time. I hope to have expanded the research to include every name on the memorial, not just the First World War. The book will be expanded, I would like to include a family tree for each, details of where they worked, more exact locations, photographs of soldiers, and so forth. It would also be nice to have details of all soldiers that went to war, not just those that did not survive. That certainly would take more than two years. Ignoring the last bit, two years may not be enough time, I will make that decision this time next year, the fall back is to then aim for 2025. The year will mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

If anyone has materials or information they would like to share on any soldier on the War Memorial, or not, or information in general, please get in touch via my contact page.