Officers of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial
The Menin Gate Memorial commemorates 54,326 British and Commonwealth soldiers (except New Zealand) who fell in the fighting in the Ypres salient from November 1914 and who have no known grave.
The Menin Gate Memorial lists the names of Four Officers and 66 NCOs and men of the 1st Battalion who were “Old Contemptibles“.
Only one of these four Officers (Lt. N.A. Newson) was with the 1st Battalion from when it sailed for Le Havre from Belfast. The other three joined the Battalion in France during the later months of 1914, bringing with them replacements and reinforcement.
CLICK the names below to read more about these Officers of the 1st Battalion Old Contemptibles.
- Lt. Norman Alexander NEWSON – 18 February 1915
Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 18 February 1915 Age: 23
Personal: Norman was born on 20th August 1891 at Nevern Mansions, Kensington, London, the younger son of Arthur Bell (Architect) and Hester Kate (née Fussell) Newson. He had an older brother, Thomas Arthur (1891 Census RG 12/33). However the family cannot be found on the 1901 Census.
In 1911 Norman was living at home at Danehurst, Sylvann Way, Bognor, and gave his occupation as ‘Student‘. (Census RG 14/5377.) He was educated at Middleton School, Bognor, and Clifton House School, Eastbourne, and later became a member of ‘The Isthmian Club‘ (Source: “Roll of Honour”)
After his death, in July and October 1915, Norman’s total effects were returned to his father, Arthur. The total amounted to £74 6s 6d (£74.32 – equivalent to about £9800 today – 2023).
Norman’s brother, Thomas Arthur, died aged 31, in the June quarter 1921; their father, Arthur, two years later, on 31st August 1923, and mother, Hester, on 9th June 1931.
Military Service: Currently Norman’s Army records are unavailable, but ‘Roll of Honour‘ states that he was gazetted, on probation, to the Cheshire Regiment in April 1912. His rank (2nd Lt.) was confirmed in December 1912. He was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1913.
His Medal Index Card shows that as a Officer in the Special Reserve (3rd) Battalion Norman was recalled and moved with the Battalion at the outbreak of War and entered France with the rest of the Battalion on 16th August 1914.
Captain’s Shore’s account of the Battle at Audregnies recalled the following (about 2.00 p.m.): “Here the Commanding Officer of the 4th Dragoon Guards gave orders that infantry was wanted at once to hold the village facing to west and to hurry on through the last gate on the left of road to the sugar factory and hold the wall of the garden. These men were afterwards increased to about 50 men by Lt Newson’s platoon. The 4th Dragoon Guards machine gun was in action on the road on the right of the garden wall.” [N.B. The 4th Dragoon Guards charged the enemy guns during the Battle of Audregnies.]
On 1st September 1915 Norman had been slightly wounded. During a rearguard action at Crépy he had refused to retire without C.O.’s orders even when troops on his right and left had retired and when he found all had gone and in an unknown direction he went on a civilian cycle in search of information and was wounded by the Ulhans. Nevertheless, he got his men away safely in spite of his wound and led them 12 miles to the next billet at Nanteuil where he transferred to 14th Field Ambulance.
After a short period at home to recover, Norman returned to the front with the 3rd (Service) Battalion in January 1915. The date that Norman was killed in action was recorded as 18th February 1915. That day the Battalion War Diary reads: ‘H.Q. Lindenhoek – Bn. in trenches. Marched to Wulverghen and took over ‘C’ Section from 9th (Q.V.E.) London Regt.‘. No additional entry listing any casualties.
However, Norman’s Medal Index Card also shows a notation to the effect that he was also attached to the 2nd Battalion. On the day of his death that Battalion lost 10 Officers and men, with another 20 the day before.
The 2nd Battalion War Diary shows that it had: “…. assembled at Chateau Rosenthal in support of the the Welch Regt.” on the 17th. Later that day: “The Bn. less 1 Company (No. 4) moved out to relieve Welch R. in trenches on N. side of canal – No. 4 was detached to a trench on S. side of canal.”.
[N.B. Chateau Rosendal (Kasteel Rosendaal), near Ypres, was located about 1830 metres south of the Lille Gate . It was a country house in the middle of a park with ramparts, and was known as ‘Bedford House‘ to the British Army.
The Chateau was totally destroyed by shellfire and the grounds later used as a war cemetery – Bedford House.]
Norman’s parents received condolence letters from his C.O. and Company commander, the latter saying: “He died doing his duty as he always did“. The ‘Roll of Honour‘ (p. 806) states that Norman was buried “… some 2 miles south of Ypres …” [Chateau Rosendal ?], but if so his Grave was lost and his is now named among the fallen on the Menin Gate Memorial.
Memorial: Panel 19 Killed in Action: 7 or 9 November 1914 Age: 25
Personal: Gerard was born in Holy Trinity Church Vicarage, Twickenham, Middlesex, on 15th March 1889 (Baptised there on 23rd April 1889). He was the son of Prebendary David and Blanche Alice May (née Bayley) Anderson. He had an two older sisters, Gladys May and Mona Constance Anabel, and an older brother, Arthur Emelius David. (In 1889 Twickenham was a village near Brentford, Middlesex.)
Gerard’s father, who died in 1916 at 20 Chester Street, London, became Rector of St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London, and from 1891-1911 and had been Prebendary of St Paul’s.
Gerard was educated Prep. School in Monken Hadley, Hertfordshire (1901 Census RG13/1231), before going on to Eton and Trinity College, Oxford (Scholar), where he took a 1st Class in Mods and Greats. Gerard became President of the University Athletic Club and was elected a Fellow of All Soul’s in 1913. After leaving Oxford he was employed by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead, Cheshire.
In 1911 (Census RG 14/424) the family was living at 15 Grosvenor Street, London, with their 6 domestic servants. 22 year old Gerard was enumerated as a “Student“, at Trinity.
Gerard is best known in the sporting world for setting a World Record of 56.8 secs for 400 yds. (400 m.) hurdles at Crystal Palace, on 16th July 1910. He then went on to participate in the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, when he reached the final of the 440 yds. (400 m.) hurdles.
Earlier he was the AAA champion at the 120 yds. (now 110 m.) hurdles in 1909, 1910 and 1912.
In June and July 1915 the “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” records that a total of £40 1s 0d (£40.05, equivalent in value to about £5250 today – 2023) was returned from three of Gerard’s accounts to his father.
Military Service: Gerard obtained a Commission in the 3rd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, on 15th August 1914, and was attached to the 1st Battalion from 30th September 1914.
He joined the 1st Battalion, in the field, on 16th October at Festubert. The War Diary reads: ” 3.00 p.m. Battalion advanced in direction of RUE D’OUVERT, found village unoccupied. At 8 p.m. advanced to RUE DU MARAIS. ½ ‘A’ Company advanced along VIOLAINES ROAD & came into touch with enemy patrol. Enemy opened fire which was returned.
CAPTAIN MAHONY took over command of Battalion and brought up 2/Lieuts Napier, May, Woodhead, Carr, Anderson and 248 reinforcements.” Gerard was twice wounded at La Bassée on 20th and 22nd October, but remained on duty.
The War Diary for 5th November 1914 reads: “7.15 a.m. Battalion marched to YPRES and took up position about 4 miles E S E holding 350 yards of trenches (relieving 2nd Bedfordshire Regt). These trenches were just South of the 6th Kilometre stone on the MENIN ROAD.”
The Maps below show these positions at that time. The sketch Map on the left is taken from the 2nd/Bedfords War Diary, highlighting its position prior to the 1st/Cheshires relieving them, i.e. the Cheshire’s position on the day Gerard was killed. The other Trench Map shows the area of Inverness Copse and Herenthage Chateau (see below)
Gerard was killed in action just 2 days later, as recorded in the War Diary for the 7th: “Battalion in trenches. Very heavy shell fire in the morning, enemy’s infantry attacked at 2.30 p.m. ‘C’ Company went to reinforce regiment on our left. Enemy repulsed, 25 captured. Captain Pollock-Hodsoll & 2/Lieut. G R L Anderson killed. N.C.O.s & men 4 killed, 22 wounded, 8 missing.”
On 7th November 1914 Gerard was shot and mortally wounded in the heart, aged 25, at Hooge, near Ypres. Also killed were Captain George Bertram Pollock-Hodsoll, a footballer who had played for Casuals and Corinthians (who had, on occasion, also captained the Army team), and four enlisted men.
Gerard’s unit successfully repelled a German attack and captured 25 enemy troops. There are differing accounts of his death from his wounds. Battalion records state he was killed on 7th November, the day he was wounded, as does the “Register of Soldiers’ Effects“. A sports biography places his death on 9th November, the same date as recorded by the CWGC. From other evidence in War Diaries (see below), there seems little doubt that Gerard was killed in action on the 7th.
Mentioned in Despatches: 2/Lt. Anderson was one of 18 Officers and Other Ranks ‘mentioned’ in Field Marshall J.D.P. French’s Despatch of 15th January 1915: “In accordance with the last paragraph, of my Despatch of the 20th November, 1914, I have the honour to bring to notice names of those whom I recommend for gallant and distinguished service in the field.” (London Gazette Issue 29072 published on the 16th February 1915. Page 1662)
Memorial: Panel 21 Killed in Action: 7 or 9 November 1914 Age: 39
Personal: George was born on 18th June 1875 at Loose Court, Loose, Maidstone, Kent. He was the son of Charles Maxfield (Farmer and Hop Grower – 205 acres) and Georgiana Mary (née Pollock) Hodsoll.
George had 3 older brothers and sisters, Julia Henrietta, Georgiana Katherine and Charles Wilfred Pollock, and 3 younger, Harold Edward Pollock, Laura Caroline Ethel and Arthur Maxfield Pollock.
In 1881 (Census RG 11/2138) the family were living at 9 Louisa Terrace, Littleham, Exmouth, Devon, the home of George’s maternal, widowed grandmother, Julia Pollock.
This could have been a temporary arrangement as 10 years later (1891 Census RG 12/686) the family were back farming at Loose Court, Loose, Kent (picture left).
[N.B. The family had to leave Loose Court in Kent due to the hop farm going out of business due to a hop blight.
The Pollock-Hodsoll daughters started a dress company making dresses for ladies to wear to the Royal Court. (1911 Census) Source: Dorking Museum]
The 1901 Census (RG 13/1321) shows George as a “Visitor” at the home of William T. King, a 35 year old surveyor, and his brother Sidney L King, a 27 year old insurance clerk, at The Elms, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and employed as a “Journalist“. His parents had by then retired and were living at Ivy Mill House, Maidstone, Kent. (Census RG 13/767)
George was educated at Maidstone School and University College, Oxford. He was well known to football supporters at the time, having played for many years for both the Casuals and the Corinthians. He had toured with both teams in Europe and South Africa and also Captained the Army team on several occasions.
George was described as a brilliant and persevering half-back and close to being selected for the national team. He took part in the 1908 Easter Paris Tour. It was a short tour, lasting four days with three matches. The three matches resulted in an aggregate score of 21-3 for Corinthians. Coincidentally, George’s name appears alongside Capt. Francis Octavius Grenfell in “War and Sport“, 30th January 1915.
George was also very interested in Politics, frequently speaking in public in support of Unionism and National Military Service.
At the time of the 1911 Census (RG 14/70), the 35 year old bachelor George, who was at that time a “Machinery Merchant – Labour Saving Invention” and an “Employer“, was living with his brother, 33 year old Harold Edward, a “Manufacturer of Artificial Fertilisers“, and a valet, 28 year old John Pellett, at 22 Pembridge Mansions, Moscow Road, Paddington, London.
On 1st June 1914 George married Olive Margaret Rae in Edinburgh, They had no children. They lived at 24 Bloomfield Terrace, Chelsea, London. On 12th September 1918 Olive re-married William Alexander Steen, at St. Barnabas’ Church, Pimlico, London.
The “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” records that a total of £68 4s 8d (£68.23, equivalent in value to about £9000 today – 2023) was returned in his Will to his brothers, Charles and Harold, in March 1915. Probate Records show his total estate amounted to £1486 15s 10d (£1486.79 – about £195,500 today).
Military Service: George initially obtained a Commission in the Cambridgeshire Militia, then in December 1902 in the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.
He transferred to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and was granted a Company on 5th August 1914.
His Medal Index Card shows that George joined the BEF in France on 26th October 1914, before being Attached to the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment on 4th November 1914.
The War Diary for that day read: “Battalion in reserve 1½ miles SOUTH of DRANOUTRE. Captain J A Busfield, Cheshire Regt., took over command of Battalion. Lt. T L Frost took over duties of Adjutant. Capt. G P Pollock-Hodsoll, 3/Suffolk Regt attached for duty.”
The following day, the 5th: “7.15 a.m. Battalion marched to YPRES and took up position about 4 miles E S E holding 350 yards of trenches (relieving 2nd Bedfordshire Regt). These trenches were just South of the 6th Kilometre stone on the MENIN ROAD.”
The Maps below show these positions at that time. The sketch Map on the left is taken from the 2nd/Bedfords War Diary, highlighting its position prior to the 1st/Cheshires relieving them, i.e. the Cheshire’s position on the day George was killed. The other Trench Map shows the area of Inverness Copse and Herenthage Chateau (see below)
George was killed in action just 2 days later, as recorded in the War Diary for the 7th: “Battalion in trenches. Very heavy shell fire in the morning, enemy’s infantry attacked at 2.30 p.m. ‘C’ Company went to reinforce regiment on our left. Enemy repulsed, 25 captured. Captain Pollock-Hodsoll & 2/Lieut. G R L Anderson killed. N.C.O.s & men 4 killed, 22 wounded, 8 missing.”
The Adjutant, Captain T. L. Frost, wrote to George’s wife, Olive: “On 7 Nov. about three o’clock in the afternoon, the Regt. on our left flank fell back and the Germans came through their trenches, so Capt. Hodsoll, Mr Anderson and myself, with the support of our Regt. made a counter attack.
Your husband had not gone more than 100 yards when he, poor fellow, was killed. He died instantaneously and could not have suffered any pain.
He died giving his life for his country at a very critical moment, if this counter-attack had failed it would have meant the whole line coming back. Capt. Pollock-Hodsoll was buried the same evening on the ground where he died, in a wood near a Chateau about 3½ miles east of Ypres. A wooden cross with his name was placed on his grave.” (Source: De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour)
From the extract quoted above, from “The Doings of the 15th Infantry Brigade” it is safe to assume George’s final resting place was close to Herenthage Château in Inverness Copse.
In the subsequent fighting over the next 4 years George’s grave was lost, so he is now commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. Captain Thomas Laurence Frost (right) was killed in action on 28th March 1915.
There are differing accounts of George’s death. Battalion records state he was killed on 7th November, as does the “Register of Soldiers’ Effects“. The CWGC places his death on 9th November. From the evidence in War Diaries (see above), there seems little doubt that George was killed in action on the 7th.
Memorial: Panel 6 Killed in Action: 15 November 1914 Age: 28
Personal: Harold was born on 1st July 1886 at Clare House, Scotland Lane, Horsforth, Yorkshire. He was the son of Henry (Tea Dealer) and Mary Elizabeth (née Haigh) Stables. He had two older sisters, Dorothea Lista and Muriel
In 1891 (Census RG 12/3525) the family were at Clare House, with a ‘Governess‘ and two domestic servants. Harold’s father, Henry, died on 28th March 1897 and the 1901 Census (RG 13/) shows Harold and sister Muriel, plus 3 domestic servants, living with their widowed mother at 2 College Lawn, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Harold was educated at Cheltenham College and New College, Oxford, where he rowed in the College VIII in 1906, 1907, and 1908. Harold took a B.A. degree in 1909 and subsequently studied for the Bar, and while doing so he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. in 1911. Harold was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1912.
He was a member of the Public Schools’ and Leander Clubs, and of the Hardwicke Debating Society. He frequently spoke on eugenics and woman suffrage. He was made a Freemason in the Apollo Lodge at Oxford, and in 1908 held the office of Assistant Grand Pursuivant in the Provincial Grand Lodge of Oxfordshire.
No reference could be found to any of the family in the 1911 Census, although mother, Mary, died on 16th September 1911 at Deerstead House, St John’s, Woking. Surrey (left).
Probate Records show that Harold’s home residence prior to going to France in 1914 was 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings, Temple, London. His Will shows he left an estate worth £20,779 2s 2d to his sister Dorothea. (i.e. £20,779.11, equivalent to about £2,750,000 today – 2023)
The “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” show that included in the Probate total was £29 16s 9d, returned to Dorothea in November 1915. (£29.83 is equivalent to about £4000 today.)
Harold’s Medal Index Card lists his sisters’ addresses as: Dorothea: Mill House Bolton Lock, Maidenhead, and Muriel: Hans Crescent Hotel, Belgravia, London, SW. Dorothea received his British War and Victory Medals, Muriel his 1914 Star and Clasp.
Military Service: At the outbreak of the War Harold obtained a commission in the Royal Fusiliers in August 1914.
Very soon afterwards, owing to the training he had received while a member of the Inns of Court O.T.C, 2nd Lieutenant Stables was ordered to proceed to France for active service.
Harold’s Medal Index Card shows a ‘Disembarkation Date‘, i.e. when he landed in France to join the BEF, as 26th October 1914. It seems he was originally attached to the 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers.
At the time of his death he was serving at the front with the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. Harold was shot through the head on the 15th November 1914 while helping to defend trenches three miles south of Ypres. [N.B. His name on the Menin Gate Memorial – right – is misspelled “STAPLES”.]
On 5th November 1914 the 1st Battalion had: “7.15 a.m. .. marched to YPRES and took up position about 4 miles E. S. E. holding 350 yards of trenches (relieving 2nd Bedfordshire Regt). These trenches were just South of the 6th Kilometre stone on the MENIN ROAD.”
It remained in the trenches until: “Battalion in reserve dugouts. Some shelling. Total casualties since going into trenches, killed 35, wounded 99.” on the 20th.
The War Diary for the day Harold was killed reads: “Battalion in trenches. To conform with the Division on our right, an order was given to retire from the advance line of trenches & take up another line about 150 yds in rear, this was commenced at midday and completed by 4 p.m. when the final line was held. The enemy were pressing on all the time & consequently our casualties were rather heavy.
2/Lieut H R Stables, 5/Royal Fusiliers, killed. 2/Lieut E. G. Carr wounded & 30 N.C.O.s and men killed, wounded & missing. Two German patrols of 15 & 7 men were shot down just outside our trenches.”
[N.B. Lieutenant Edward Gamble Carr, joined the 1st Battalion on 19th October 1914. His home address was Home Farm, Over Plover, Cheshire. He survived the War and Crookenden (‘The Cheshire Regiment in the Great War’, Appendix II, page 280) names him as carrying the Regimental Colour in the Victory March in Paris, 14th July 1919.]