Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Enschede Eastern General Cemetery
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.
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 [see Footnotes below] 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 £6,800 today – 2023) and a further £26 War Gratuity (about £1,700 today) later in the year.
A Pension 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.
Military Service: Arthur attested into the 1st Battalion at Northwich, Cheshire on 23rd January 1908 when he stated his age as 18 years 0 months. 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.
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 – below right)
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. His 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.
Arthur’s older brother served as Spr. 288261 Charles Henry Gray. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers on 29 November 1915 and was discharged on 21 July 1919.
Grave: Far end of cemetery, right of main path. Died: 9 January 1919 Age: 28
Personal: Samuel was born at 4 Wood Court, Chester, on 27th July 1890 (1891 Census RG 12/2863). He was the son of Arthur (Corporation Labourer) and Elizabeth (née Ronson) Spencer and had five older siblings, Charles Henry and John [see Footnote below], Arthur, Mary Elizabeth and William Thomas.
Samuel’s mother, Elizabeth, died in the June quarter 1893 and a few months later his father, Arthur, re-married, Margaret Banks. They had two children, Harry Arthur and Henry. In 1911 the family was living at 29 Common Hall Street, Chester. (1911 Census RG14/21863)
However, later that year Margaret died and in 1916 Arthur married for the third time to Margaret Ann Dodd. Arthur died on 14 January 1940 in Handbridge, Chester. He is buried, with many of the family, in Overleigh Cemetery, Chester.
At the time of his enlistment in 1908 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. CWGC entries only mention his parents, but his Service Papers show that Samuel married Susan Smith on 25th March 1913 in Belfast, Ireland. Their daughter, Sarah, was born on 13th September 1913, in Belfast. Prisoner of War Records give his home address in 1914 as “69 Cramer Street, Belfast“.
The “Register of Soldier’s Effects” show Samuel’s total effects amounted to £74 5s 8d [£74.28 – or about £4,900 today – 2023]. 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 £1,700 today) paid later in 1919. [Service Records, however, name the child “Samuel“!]
Effective from 21st July 1919 Susan had also received a Pension of £1 0s 5d (£1.02 – about £65 today) per week for herself and their daughter. At that time they were living at 23 Fosbrooke Street, Broughton, Chester. Susan died, in Chester, aged 45, on 8 April 1939.
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.”
At the time of enlistment he was 5 ft. 4 ins. [m] tall, weighed 9 st. 1½ lbs. [ kgs.], had a ‘fresh‘ complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.
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, and 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‘.
Samuel’s older brother, Pte. 5954 John Spencer, enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Chester on 5 January 1897. His period of Service was 12 years (7 years ‘Active’ and 5 years ‘Reserve’).
John served in the Mounted Infantry in South Africa from 23 September 1899 to 31 May 1900 (251 days) and after returning home he was discharged to the Reserve on 4 January 1909 – the end of his 12 years Service. He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa with 3 Bars. He had married Alice Buckley on 29 December 1900 and they had 5 children.
John re-enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, at Chester on 17 August 1914, appointed Act/Sgt 46937. On 30 January 1918 he was posted to the BEF in Salonika, but was invalided home on 18 December 1918 and transferred to the Reserve on 1 March 1919, suffering from Malaria and Bronchitis. He was finally discharged on 31 March 1920. In addition to the 12 years already served, his WW1 service lasted a further 6 years 227 days.
John died on 30 August 1945 at 10 Bridge Cottage, Chester, aged 67, and was buried on 3 September at Overleigh Cemetery, Overleigh Road, Chester.
Grave: Far end of cemetery, right of main path. Died: 13 January 1919 Age: 29
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, having been a p.o.w.
He was the son of Samuel and Margaret (née Sumner) Simpson, born at 44 Selbourne Street, Preston, Lancashire, in January 1890 (i.e. baptised St Mary’s Church on the 19th).
Samuel had six older siblings, Hannah, John Henry, Ada, Margaret. Jane and Florence.
In 1911 (Census RG 14/25258) Samuel was still at home with his parents and some older siblings at 35 Brixton Road Preston, working as a “Card Lacerer“. With effect from 8 July 1919 his father, Samuel Snr., was awarded a Pension of 8s 6d (£0.42 – equivalent to about £28 today – 2023) per week. In June he had received Samuel’s total effects, valued at £45 0s 8d, including a £5 War Gratuity. (£45.03 is equivalent to about £3000 today)
“When the troops retired from Vaulx on the left “D” Company remained in the Morchies trenches till they were withdrawn at 7.30 p.m. This order failed to reach 2 Companies and they were never seen again.
At 8.00 a.m. on the 23rd the enemy renewed his attacks. North of the Bapaume-Cambrai road they were held up, but south of it our Divisions were pressed back, so that the 11th Battalion formed a defensive flank facing south east along the main road.”
A t some time during this battle, part of the German Spring Offensive, Samuel was wounded and taken prisoner.