Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery
This cemetery contains 493 Commonwealth burials (329 from the UK, 157 from Canada, 4 Australians, 2 from New Zealand and 1 South African).
In addition there are 11 “Known Unto God“. There are also 101 burials of other nationalities, mostly Russians.
The town of Mons was taken by the Germans in August 1914 and was not retaken until literally the last day of the War, 11 November 1914, by the Canadian Corps.
The Cemetery contains 3 named soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment. The three men buried here were from ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies of the 1st Battalion two of whom died of wounds and one who was reported missing after the Battle at Audregnies and subsequently died in German hands.
Grave: IX.E.7. Died of wounds: 17 September 1914 Age: 30
Personal: According to the SDGW records Ernest was born in January 1884 at Castle Hall, Stalybridge, Cheshire, the youngest child of John (Cotton spinner) and Anne Hadfield. The 1901 Census shows the family living in Illingworth Street, Stalybridge, when Ernest was employed as a “Ring spinner“. He had one older sister, Sarah Hannah. (1901 Census, RG 13/9795)
At the time of his enlistment he was employed as a labourer. When he joined the Cheshires he was 5′ 5” tall (1.65 m.), weighed 118 lbs. (8 st. 6lbs.) had a ‘fair‘ complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. His religion was Church of England.
Ernest married Bertha Hamer, at Christ Church, Duckinfield, Cheshire on 28th August 1909 Ernest and Bertha had two children Jessie Ann (b. 27th October 1910) & John (b. 22nd June 1912). The 1911 Census (RG 14/24423) shows the family living at 5 Hallas Street, off Grosvenor Street, Stalybridge.
With effect from 12 April 1915 Bertha was awarded and Army pension of 18/6d (£0.925) per week for herself and two children (This has an equivalent value of about £75 today – 2020). The family later moved to 1 Albert St., Stalybridge, Cheshire.
Previously, in December 1914 she had had Ernest effects returned to her, to the value of £3 13s 5d [£3.67 – about £290 today] and in 1919 received a War Gratuity of £5 (£225 today).
Military Service: Ernest enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Hyde, Cheshire on 28th April 1904, aged 19 years 3 months (although his date of birth – see above – would suggest he was a year older). Before this attestation he had been a member of the 4th (Territorial) Battalion. His original terms of service were 3 + 9 (i.e. 3 years active service + 9 years reserve).
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion on 15th June 1904 and was posted to Aldershot on 20th July. On 22nd September 1904 he was transferred to Wellington Barracks, Lichfield. Ernest was posted to India with the 2nd Battalion on 26th December 1905 and served there until 5th April 1907.
He transferred to the Army Reserve after 3 years on 27th April 1907, and returned to live at 8 Illingworth Street, Stalybridge (his parents’ home).
Ernest’s time in the Regiment was not without some difficulties. He was charged with having a dirty rifle on 16th November 1905 (2 days CB) and a month later was absent from barracks (5 days CB). In November 1906 he was ‘dirty on parade‘ and ‘made an inappropriate reply to a NCO‘ – 10 days CB. Whilst in Madras he was admitted to hospital on 7th January 1907 and treated for “seabies” (a parasitic infection).
His Medal Index Card shows that as a reservist Ernest was recalled to the Regiment at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16th August 1914. He was not among those reported missing from the Battalion at Audregnies on 24th August, where he fought on the right of the line under Captain E.R. Jones.
Ernest’s service papers state he died of wounds at “Manners English Hospital, Mons” on 17th September 1914 and as Mons was in German hands undoubtedly he was a prisoner of war at the time. In all he served a period of 10 years 143 days with the Regiment.
Grave: V.B.21. Died of wounds: 11 October 1914 Age: 28
Personal: Harry was born in St Mark’s Parish, West Gorton, Manchester, in the June quarter 1886, the second son of Harry and Alice (née Woolam) Rossington.
Harry had an older brother, Walter, 3 younger sister, Edith, Elsie and Olive, and 2 younger brothers, Wallace and Laurence. (1891 Census RG 12/3175, 1901 Census RG 13/3690). The 1911 Census of Ireland shows him serving with his Regiment at the Victoria Military Barracks, Belfast. (Census Class RG 14)
His father, mother, brothers and sisters all emigrated to Ohio, USA, in 1912. His three brothers enlisted after his death and all survived.
In Belfast, in the December quarter 1912 Harry married Sarah Jane Andrews, from Co. Armagh, Ireland, and they had one daughter, Edith born on 26th January 1913. [Sarah had 2 other children from a previous marriage – Mabel (b. 1909) and Wilfred Laurence (b. 1910).
In January 1916 Sarah received a Pension of £1 2s (£1.10 or about £75 today – 2020) fpr herself and the children. At that time she was living at 22 Abbey Street, Armagh, Ireland. His total effects, amounting to £9 6s 2d [£9.31 – about £620 today] were returned to Sarah in February 1916. A War Gratuity of £12 [£550 today] followed after the end of War.
Military Service: Harry enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Stockport, Cheshire. Currently his Army records are unavailable and do not seem to have survived the World War 2 bombing.
As Company Sergeant Major of ‘D’ Company he was a serving soldier at the time, not a Reservist.
His Medal Index Card shows that he entered France on the 16th August 1914 with the rest of the Battalion. He was among those reported missing from the Battalion after the Battalion at Audregnies on 24th August
He died of wounds on 11th October 1914, quite possibly in the “Manners English Hospital” and as Mons was in German hands undoubtedly he was a prisoner of war at the time.
(Harry’s ‘D’ Company had been in action on the right of the line at Audregnies and Harry lost his CO, Captain E.R. Jones, in the action.)
Grave: IX.E.4. Died of wounds: 26 September 1914 Age: 27
Personal: According to his enlistment records Harry was born in Edmonton, London in February/March 1886. He was the son of George and Elizabeth Smith, of Tottenham.
At the time of his enlistment in 1904 James’ stated occupation was ‘Carman‘. He was 5’ 4½” tall (1.694 m.), weighed 117 lbs. (8 stone 5lbs) had a ‘fresh‘ complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. His stated religion was Church of England. At the end of his three years Active Service he was 5 ins (13 cms.) taller!
James married Ellen Emily Robinson in the December quarter 1909. After James’ death, with effect from 19th April 1915, she received a pension of 10/- (50p) for herself only, confirming they had no children. Less than a year after James’ death Ellen re-married Charles P. Dunt and they lived at 17 Dawlish Rd., Bruce Grove, Tottenham, London.
In July 1915 James’ widow received the sum total of his effects, £4 10s 10d [£4.54 – about £360 today – 2020]. A further £5 [£225 today] War Gratuity was paid to her in 1919.
His grave inscription reads: “Ever Dear and Never Forgotten: Wife, Mum, Dad, Sisters and Brothers.”
Military Service: James enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Stratford, Essex on 13th April 1904 aged 18 years 1 month on a 3+9 term of service (i.e. 3 years active service plus 9 years reserve). Prior to joining the Cheshires he had served for 7 months with the 5th Battalion, The Royal Fusiliers.
After an initial spell at Depot he joined the 2nd Battalion on the 20th May, transferring to the 1st Battalion in Lichfield on the 12th November 1904, moving to Bulford on 1st January 1906. Accordingly, on 12th April 1907, when his 3 years ‘Active’ Service was up, James was transferred to the Reserve List, and went to live at 14 Gilpin Grove, Edmonton, London.
His time in the Service was not without difficulties. On 10th March 1905 he was ‘confined to barracks‘ (CB) for 8 days for ‘insolence to an NCO‘, but just 2 days later received a further 8 days CB for ‘breaking out of barracks‘ and ‘being absent from defaulters roll call‘. On 8th June he was ‘improperly dressed in town‘ (8 days) and in 1906 – ‘not attempting to double when ordered and insolence to an Officer‘ (14 days CB); 13th February, ‘using obscene language to NCO‘ and ‘attempting to strike a NCO‘ (15 days “Imprisonment with Hard Labour” – IHL).
On 3rd October 1906 he was admonished for causing a disturbance whilst drunk and on 13th November 1906 he ‘attempted to strike a superior officer‘ and was imprisoned for 35 days, and on 4th December 1907 gave a ‘false answer on attestation‘.
This final ‘crime’ was to try to falsely rejoin the Army using an assumed name. His Service Records state that he tried to enlist at Stratford under the name of “Alfred James Potts” and it was for this that the Civil Court in West Ham tried and convicted him to 14 days IHL. In addition he spent 20, 10 and 15 day periods in Hospital in July, September and December 1906 for 2 bouts of gonorrhoea and one of syphilis. It is perhaps not surprising that on his transfer to the Reserve his conduct was described as “Indifferent and guilty of frequent acts of insubordination‘!
James’ Medal Index Card shows that as a Reservist he was recalled to the Battalion and entered France on 16th August 1914. He was not among those reported missing from the Battalion after the action at Audregnies on 24th August, but died of wounds on 26th September 1914 and as Mons was in German hands undoubtedly he was a prisoner of war at the time. During the action his ‘C’ Company fought on the right of the line under Captain W.E.L.R. Dugmore.
His wife received a letter from the War Office on 15th October 1914 stating that James was in a “Civil Hospital” at Mons, but did not say that he was wounded. She wrote back asking for more details and how she could write to him.
It took until 15th June 1915 before she was advised that her husband had died in the town of Mons at 9.30 p.m. in the “Rue du Petit ??? Ondart” – which is strange being not a named Hospital. However, the “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” states that he died in Hospital at “Arnsberg“. Prisoner of War records confirm this.