Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Wiheries Communal Cemetery
This cemetery contains 12 Commonwealth burials (all from the UK) including 2 “Known Unto God“. (see below)
Seven of the burials are from the Norfolk and Cheshire Regiments’ stand in the adjacent fields in August 1914, whilst the remaining 3, obscurely contain Naval burials from the last days of the War in November 1918.
The Cemetery contains 3 named soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment who died defending the village of Elouges and Audregnies on 24th August 1914, during the BEF’s ‘Retreat from Mons‘.
[N.B. Two other soldiers who have named graves are from the 1st Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, who fought alongside the Cheshires on 24th August 1914. They are: Private 7164 William Henry Brighton, (Grave III.A.2.) and Private 6448 A. Arbon (Grave I.A.1). The third casualty who fell alongside the 1st Battalion was Private 6838 Frederick Williams, 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal) Hussars (Grave III.A.6.).
This small Communal Cemetery on the Audregnies-Wiheries road has, for almost 30 years, been a focal point in tracing the Military Service of the author’s Grandad.
Pt. 7632 Ernest John Conway was in ‘D’ Company, 1st Battalion, and was commanded by Captain Ernest Rae-Jones (below). His grandson and great grand-daughter first came here in 1992 on a long quest to find out about “Grandad’s War“. They stood in the field where he faced the oncoming enemy and felt an unearned pride, and shed a few tears.
This whole website started here. The author has been back many times since, averaging once every 2 years. Always a wreath was laid in Captain Jones’ Honour.
The last time was on 23/24th August 2014 when the good people of Audregnies invited us back to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle, and unveil a new Memorial overlooking the Battlefield.
Use the links below to read a little more about each man of the original 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, buried in this Cemetery.
During research for this site one of the men buried in an ‘Unknown’ Grave has been identified
… about Cpl. 6932 Thomas HEWITT, commemorated on La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Mem. (CLICK button above)
CLICK to see photographs of the graves of the other men buried in Wiheries Cemetery.
Grave: III.A.4. Killed in Action: 24 August 1914 Age: 36
Personal: Ernest Rae Jones was born on 17 November 1877, at Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Jones. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School, and resided at Caverhill Hall, St Johns, New Brunswick, Canada.
On 10th November 1908 he married Geraldine Esme Belinda Prior in Lichfield Cathedral. She was born in the Barton Regis District of Gloucestershire, December quarter 1883, so was about 5 years younger than him.
She was the daughter of Major-General John Edward Hale Prior of the Staffordshire Regiment, who died suddenly in January 1900 shortly before taking up command of the 15th Division in South Africa. In 1901, aged 17, she was a boarder at Eastbury House School, Watford, Herts. (In the September quarter 1920 Geraldine re-married, Robert Hall, in Lichfield.)
The 1911 Census (RG 14/21864) shows Ernest and Esme, with two young daughters, Edna Mabel (aged 1) and Dorothy Esmé (3 months), living at 80 Hough Green, Chester (modern photo – right), with a housemaid, a cook and a nurse.
Probate Records show that Ernest estate, left to Esme, amounted to £10, 413 5s 7d (£10413.28 – equivalent to just over £1,000,000 today – 2020).
Military Service: Currently Captain Jones’ Army records are unavailable, and do not appear to have survived the Second World War bombing.
Ernest entered the Cheshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant from the Local Military Forces, Canada, in November 1898; promoted to Lieutenant, June 1900; Captain, 1906; and from 1904-1907 was Adjutant of his Battalion.
The London Gazette (22nd November 1898) detailed his joining the Regiment: “.. from the Local Military Forces, Canada, to be Second Lieutenant, in succession to Lieutenant W. Auchincloss, resigned. Dated 23rd November, 1898.” It is likely, therefore, that he served in the South African War.
His Medal Index Card shows that at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16th August 1914 having sailed from Belfast with the 1st Battalion as Commanding Officer of ‘D’ Company. On the night of 23rd August the Battalion moved into position along the Mons-Valenciennes road, with ‘D’ Company on the right straddling the railway line.
Captain Jones was the Officer Commanding “D” Company, 1st Battalion, in position to the right of “C” Company during the Battle at Audregnies on the 24th August 1914. At about 3.45 pm the Battalions in action began to retire. Captain Jones, on the right flank with the support platoons of ‘D’ Company had also it seems, got news of the withdrawal from, presumably, stragglers out on his flanks, because he began to retire down the railway line.
The stragglers moved down the railway line towards the Bois d’Audregnies. They passed a small group of trees, then along a track in a field, into a hedge-bordered lane, then to pasture-land south-west of Wiheries. ‘Here‘, writes Crookenden, ‘they ran into the Magdeburg Regiment which was going into bivouac. Of those who remained Capt. Jones and Pte. E. Hogan were killed.’
A German officer ordered captured British prisoners to carry their bodies to a freshly dug grave in a nearby field. After the burial service, the Germans fired three volleys over the grave. Sometime later, maybe by the villagers, Ernest was reburied in the village communal cemetery.
His gravestone reads: “For his bravery he was given a military funeral by the Germans.” Captain Jones is the first Canadian to die on active service during the First World War.
The following is extracted from a letter published in the Regimental History, written by Lieutenant Colonel D. C. Boger, D.S.O., (picture right) who commanded the 1st Battalion at Mons, during which action he was severely wounded.
It was written on 29th August 1914 whilst Colonel Boger was in a Red Cross Hospital at Wiheries: ‘…I hear Jones, tho’ wounded, refused to surrender and pointed his revolver at them. They shot him but left his arms, and the 66th Regt. buried him with mil’y honours and a speech was made at his grave. A very gallant man…’
Grave: Sp. Mem. III.A.7. Killed in Action: 24 August 1914 Age: 37
Personal: Lieutenant Frost was born on the 12th March 1877 at Tamar Terrace, Launceston in the County of Cornwall and was named Kingdon Tregosse Frost.
He was the eldest of three sons of Denis Tregosse (Solicitor) and Sophia Margaret (née Messenger) Frost. (Sophia died in the June quarter 1896)
Kingdon had two younger brothers, Oswald Miles Tregosse (born 5th June 1880) and Russell Tregosse (b. September quarter 1886). [See Footnote below]
Kingdon was educated at Bath and Brasenose College, Oxford, BA in 1900, MA in 1905 and Lit B. in 1907. From 1900 to 1901 he was a student of the British School at Athens, 1902 to 1904 a Tutor and Lecturer at Isleworth Training College. He worked in Egypt from 1904 to 1905 with Professor Sir Flinders Petrie.
The Royal Geographical Society made him a Fellow in 1905. From 1905 to 1908 he worked in the Ministry of Education in Egypt and from 1908 to 1909 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
After Kingdon’s death the Probate Register shows he left an estate of £2576 11s 10d [£2576.59] to Dennis Tregosse Frost (his father). [The equivalent value today (2020) would be about £210,000.]
In May 1915 Kingdon’s father also received the balance of his effects amounting to £68 5s 9d [£68.29 – about £5,500 today].
Military Service: From 1909 up to his death, Kingdon was a Lecturer on Archaeology and Ancient History at Queens University, Belfast. A member of the Queen’s O.T.C (2) unit of which he was a keen and much valued member.
In September 1912 he was gazetted to the 3rd (Special) Reserve Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment, and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the same unit on the 29th June 1913. When the Great War broke out he was recalled as a Reserve Officer with the 1st Battalion.
His Medal Index Card shows he entered France with the 1st Battalion on 16th August 1914 and his date of death recorded as 4th September 1914.
Research shows that there is no doubt he was killed in action on 24th August (CWGC records show 25th, but there seems little logic for this. It had previously given his date of death as 4th September 1914, but there is even less evidence for this.)
Crookenden has this to say about Lt. Frost’s death: ‘This platoon (9 platoon ‘C’ Company under the command of Sgt. Raynor) received Dugmore’s order to retire, but, on reaching the sunken road Raynor (and his corporal) were seized with misgivings, about the authenticity of the order. They did not therefore retire further but lined the bank on the roadside and opened fire on the enemy advancing in front and on their right.
The shortage of ammunition, now acute, was causing the NCOs considerable anxiety and a further withdrawal seemed indicated. Just as the platoon was about to move off, some troops were seen to their right rear moving southwards. Lt. Frost, an officer of the Special Reserve who was attached to the platoon, volunteered to go and identify them. He did not return. He was seen later by a wounded officer of the 4 Dragoon Guards “fighting like a demon, having refused to surrender.”. Although wounded several times, he refused to give in and death alone overcame his indomitable spirit.‘
Lieutenant Kingdon Tregosse Frost’s grave was unknown for nearly 80 years until Alan Gregson deduced he was buried in Wiheries Graveyard. He then presented his evidence to the CWGC and persuaded them to recognise Lt Frost’s resting place.
After failing to answer Roll Call after the Battle at Audregnies, Kingdon was reported missing and subsequently presumed dead. For some unknown reason the CWGC had recorded His death as 4th September 1914.
His name was, therefore, included in those of the 1st Battalion “Known Unto God” and engraved on La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial to the Missing.
By a process of elimination Mr Gregson was able to show that the CWGC headstone carrying the words ‘UNKNOWN OFFICER 1914‘ in Wiheries Cemetery, was that of Lieutenant Frost.
On the 24th August 1994, exactly 80 years later on from the anniversary of his death, the new headstone was in place on Lieutenant’s Frosts and was unveiled to the members of the Cheshire Regiment Association by an Officer of the Cheshires 1st Battalion.
[I am grateful to Alan Gregson for the photo right.]
Lt. Frost’s younger brother, Major Oswald Miles Tregosse FROST, served during WW1 with the Dorsetshire Regiment, attached to Royal Engineers, 1st Dorset Regiment.
Lt. Frost’s youngest brother, Captain Russell Tregosse FROST, also served during WW1 with the Cheshire Regiment.
Grave: III.A.5. Killed in Action: 24 August 1914 Age: 19
Personal: Edward was born in St Laurence’s parish, Birkenhead, Cheshire, in the December quarter 1895, the 3rd child of Edward (Iron Driller) and Elizabeth (née Drew) Hogan. He had two older siblings, William and Catherine, and a younger brother, Joseph. In 1901 the family were living in Back St Anne’s Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire. (1901 Census 13/3390)
In 1911 (Census RG 14/21401) shows him a pupil at Bishop Brown Memorial Industrial School For Catholic Boys, High Street, Stockport, Cheshire, an Industrial School for Catholic Boys. His stated occupation was ‘Tailor’s Machinist‘.
After his death, in September 1915, Edward’s father, Edward, Snr., received his total effects amounting to £4 13s 9d [£4.69 – equivalent to about £380 today – 2020]. Later, in June 1919, he also received a War Gratuity of £5 [about £225 today].
The family address at that time was 43 Queensbury Street, Birkenhead. His mother, Elizabeth, was granted a Pension of 5s (25p – c. £12 today) per week, but not until 13th July 1918.
Military Service: Currently his Army records are unavailable, and do not appear to have survived the Second World War bombing; all that is known is that Thomas enlisted at Stockport, Cheshire.
His Medal Index Card shows that at the outbreak of War and entered France on 16 August 1914. Edward’s “A” Company fought to the left of the line under Captain A.J.L. Dyer, during the Battle at Audregnies on the 24th August 1914. At about 3.45 pm the Battalions in action began to retire.
The stragglers moved down the railway line towards the Bois d’Audregnies. They passed a small group of trees, then along a track in a field, into a hedge-bordered lane, then to pasture-land south-west of Wiheries.
‘Here‘, writes Crookenden, ‘they ran into the Magdeburg Regiment which was going into bivouac. Of those who remained Capt. Jones and Pte. E. Hogan were killed.’
A German officer ordered captured British prisoners to carry their bodies to a freshly dug grave in a nearby field. After the burial service, the Germans fired three volleys over the grave. Sometime later, maybe by the villagers, Edward was reburied in the village communal cemetery.
The photo on the left shows the 1st Battalion’s Drummers on a visit to Chester from Londonderry in March 1914 for the visit of King George V. (Drummer Hogan is 4th from right) On his left (3rd from right) is Dr. 9268 William Hammond, killed in action on 17th November 1914.
Source: ‘The 1st Battalion The Cheshire Regiment at Mons‘ – Frank Simpson
[N.B. ‘Buglers‘ in the Cheshire Regiment were designated ‘Drummers‘.]