Enschede

Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Enschede Eastern General Cemetery

Photograph © 2009, Merlijn – “Great War Collections”

Enschede Eastern General Cemetery contains 11 Commonwealth burials of the Great War, all of whom are named and all died after the Armistice, between 6th December 1918 and 16th January 1919.

In addition there are 51 Second World War burials, most of them air crew killed in the final stages of the war in Holland.

As the Netherlands retained her neutrality during the First World War the Commonwealth servicemen buried here are prisoners of war who had been released.

The Cemetery contains 3 soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment (2 from the BEF), who died in 1919. Click the link below to read more about them.

 

Private 8879 Arthur James GRAY – ‘H’ Coy (Fmly. ‘D’)

Grave:  Far end of cemetery, right of main path.    Died: 13 January 1919   Age: 29

Personal: Arthur was born in Wincham, Northwich, Cheshire, on 17th February 1889. He was the son of Charles Henry and Ellen (née Gibson) Gray, of 4 Wallace Street, Castle Northwich, Cheshire. He had two older brother, Charles Henry and George Thomas. (Arthur’s mother, Ellen, died in the September quarter 1903 and Charles remarried, Edith Oakes, in the following quarter 1903.)

At the time of his enlistment he stated his occupation as ‘Painter‘. He was 5’ 4½” tall (1.64 m.), weighed 112 lbs. (8 st. 0 lbs.) had a ‘fresh‘ complexion and brown hair and brown eyes. His vision was measured at “3/6”, but clearly good enough for his enlistment.

At the time of his death Arthur did not appear to be married as a letter in his service papers names his father as next-of-kin. Accordingly, in July 1919, Charles received his total effects of £102 7s 7d (£102.38 – equivalent to about £4,600 today – 2020) and a further £26 War Gratuity (about £1,200 today) later in the year.

A Penion Record in Arthur’s name shows his next of kin as his ‘mother’ (actually step-mother) but no amount is recorded.  At that time she was living at 4 Wallace Street, Northwich, Cheshire.

Pte. Gray’s Grave

Military Service: Arthur attested into the 1st Battalion at Northwich, Cheshire on 23rd January 1908 when he stated his age as 18 yrs 0 mths. His birth records, above, would suggest he was nearer to 19 years old. His terms of service were 7 + 5 (i.e. 7 years active service + 5 years reserve). So when War was declared he was still a serving soldier with the 1st Battalion stationed in Londonderry.

Arthur was posted to Bordon on 24th March 1908 for training and then posted to Belfast on 24th September 1909. On 26th October 1912 he was promoted to Lance Corporal (unpaid), paid from 4th November. For some reason he reverted to Private on 1st April 1913.

Arthur received a ‘3rd Class Certificate of Education‘ on 3rd January 1910 and ‘Transport Duties Instruction‘ in Belfast on 13th December 1912. He transferred to the Army Reserve on 22nd January 1915. On his discharge he stated that he was going to work for the Railway at Northwich, Cheshire.

He had accumulated three offences on his Conduct Sheet; two for being drunk whilst serving in Belfast, on 23rd August 1910 and 22nd September 1911, and in Londonderry, on 28th May 1913, he received 10 days C.B. (Confined to Barracks) for “breaking into barracks around midnight” and “having a woman in the garrison cells“! Nevertheless, his record shows him to be “Intelligent and hard working“.

As a reservist he was recalled to the 1st Battalion at the outbreak of War and his Medal Card shows he entered France 16th August. According to an account in the ‘Oak Leaf‘ Arthur was taken prisoner after the Battle at Audregnies on 24th August 1914, where he fought under Captain Ernest Rae-Jones in the right of the line. His prisoner of war status was confirmed by ‘War Office Communiqué No 1155‘ (List: 7829/3026) on 29th September 1915 and that he was interred in the infamous Soltau camp.

Postcard View of Soltau Camp

Soltau prisoner of war camp had a reputation for mistreatment of prisoners, The New York Times of 5th January 1917 reported one instance of 70 Belgian TB patients being returned home in a cattle truck.

P.o.w. Records show that Arthur was transferred to Hamlen camp before December 1917.

Arthur’s Death Certificate, dated 20th January 1919 stated that he died in Hospital at Enschede at 6.00 a.m. on the 13th of influenza. His family were not notified until 26th March! Arthur had been in the War from its first day to the last and beyond, only to die of the ‘flu three months after the Armistice and be buried in ‘a foreign field‘. In total he had served 10 years 356 days with the Regiment.

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Private 8931 Samuel SPENCER – ‘D’ Company

Grave:  Far end of cemetery, right of main path.    Died: 9 January 1919   Age: 28

Personal: Samuel was born in Handbridge, Chester, on 27th July 1890. He was the eldest son of Arthur (Corporation Labourer) and Lizzie Spencer and had three younger brothers, William, Samuel and Harry. (1901 Census RG13/3370) In 1911 the family was living at 29 Common Hall Street, Chester. (1911 Census RG14/21863)

At the time of his enlistment Samuel stated his occupation as ‘Labourer‘. He was 5’ 4″ tall (1.64 m.), weighed 127½ lbs. (9 st. 1½lbs.) had a ‘fresh’ complexion and brown hair and grey eyes. His stated religion was Church of England.

In the 1911 Census Samuel is recorded as ‘single‘ living in the Regimental Barracks in Chester. However, the “Register of Soldier’s Effects” name a wife, Susan, and a daughter, Sarah, born on 13th September 1913, in Belfast, Ireland. Prisoner of War Records give his home address in 1914 as “69 Cramer Street, Belfast“.

His total effects amounted to £74 5s 8d [£74.28 – or about £3,400 today – 2020]. This was divided ⅓ to Samuel’s widow, Susan, and ⅔ in trust for his daughter, Sarah. The same apportionment  was applied to the War Gratuity of £26 (about £1,200 today) paid later in 1919.

Effective from 21st July 1919 Susan had also received a Pension of £1 0s 5d (£1.02 – about £45 today) per week for herself and their daughter. At that time they were living at 23 Fosbrooke Street, Broughton, Chester.

Pt. Spencer’s Grave

Military Service: Samuel enlisted into the 1st Battalion at Chester on 26th February 1908, aged 17 years 7 months. His terms of service were 7 + 5 (i.e. 7 years active service + 5 years reserve).

Prior to his enlistment he was serving with the 3rd Battalion. On enlistment his CO described him as “Smart, active and intelligent, suitable for the arm of the service he wishes to enlist. Good character.

He was posted to Bordon on 24th March 1908 for training and then posted to Belfast. His conduct sheet records one case of “Riotous behaviour in Market Street, Lurgan” (6th May 1911) for which he was confined to barracks for 8 days. He was treated in hospital in Belfast in March 1910 for gonorrhoea. On 6th October 1913 he was assessed as “Intelligent, hard-working and reliable” in his position as signaller.

As a serving soldier he went with 1st Battalion at the outbreak of War and his Medal Card shows he entered France 16th August. According to an account in the ‘Oak Leaf‘ Arthur was taken prisoner after the Battle at Audregnies on 24th August 1914, where he fought under Captain Ernest Rae-Jones in the right of the line. His prisoner of war status was confirmed by ‘War Office Communiqué No 1155‘ (List: 7829/3026) on 29th September 1915.

Prisoner of War Records show that he was not wounded (‘Nicht verwundet‘) when captured and initially sent to the Soltau camp (left). Soltau prisoner of war camp had a reputation for mistreatment of prisoners. The New York Times of 5th January 1917 reported one instance of 70 Belgian TB patients being returned home in a cattle truck.

A p.o.w. Record dated 30th January 1915 shows him transferred to Munsterlager Camp,

Samuel’s Death Certificate, dated 10th January 1919 stated that he died in Hospital at Lonneker (about 3 km north of Enschede) at 2.00 p.m. on the 9th of “pneumonia following on influenza“. He would have been repatriated by then and on his way home.

Samuel had been in the War from its first day to the last and beyond, only to die of pneumonia three months after the Armistice and be buried in ‘a foreign field‘.

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Private 19212 Samuel SIMPSON – 11th Battalion

Grave:  Far end of cemetery, right of main path.    Died: 13 January 1919   Age: 29

Pt. Simpson’s Grave

Among the 11 Great War graves at Enschede is that of Private 19212 Samuel Simpson, of the 11th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, who also died on 13th January 1919, aged 29, no doubt also from the influenza epidemic, having been a p.o.w.

He was the son of Samuel and Margaret Simpson, of 35 Brixton Road, Preston, Lancashire.

The 11 CWGC burials of the Great War at Enschede

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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