24 November 2008


Biog of Lt Holthusen, Medic.

I'm off to Kew soon to see the records of papillon and Holthusen

Biog & Pic for Pte 35146 Wendon

There's also a group photo of Lt's Carter, Charrington & Brown out there!


17335 E A Clark

Pte Clark made a contribution to an album by patients at Leckhampton Court Red Cross Hospital 1914 - 1918, which has found it's way onto the internet.

Private Clark decided to write a poem:

"A time will come when Victory's crested wave
Sweeps swiftly forward in a cleansing tide.

When staid and sober citizens behave
like children, off their heads, with joy and pride.

Then while the bells peal madly through the land -
Look back a bit, I never once forget

That so called "negligable" British band
To whom the Empire owes its deepest debt.

With best wishes to the owner of this book

Pte E A Clark, 17335
13th Essex, West Ham Battalion"

12 November 2008


Hallo all

With this blog I shall try and bring together details of the men their lives and their actions, from the time they answered the rallying call at Stratford, Christmas 1914 right through to their eventual disbandment in February 1918.

With your help, we can get as much background to these men, and tell their stories once again.

If you are a relative of a man who served with the 13th Essex, "The Hammers", please mail his details and any other information or images you may have.

11 November 2008

The Memorial

We're taking the first tentative steps regarding re-instituting
a memorial dedicated to the 13th Bn Essex. It is believed the
original was destroyed in the Blitz, but the hunt for detailed
information continues.

Letters are on their way to various significant parties and
hopefully there should be some good news for all soon.

Regimental Museum

Dont forget you can always visit the Regimental Museum at Oaklands Park in Moulsham St, Chelmsford..

Ian Hook is Keeper of the Essex Regiment Museum and is extremely generous and helpful in all things 'Essex'.

They are having a bit of a 'makeover' at the moment, with much stuff in boxes, so maybe best to phone (01245 605700) first if you're planning a trip.

Mondays to Saturdays, 10.00am to 5.00pm
Sundays, 1.00pm to 4.00pm (winter) or 2.00pm to 5.00pm (British summer time)

Admission is free.

Memorial Update

Well, it would seem that perhaps (probably?) the 13th Essex West ham Pals didn't ever get a Memorial for their Service and Sacrifice after all. So the idea of the Blitz destroying the 'original' may be a red herring.

As they were disbanded in February 1918, before the end of WW1, and all survivors sent to other battalions, they didn't even manage to get a Veterans 'Old Boys' Club together (although I have been told that the Mayor of Newham gave a Dinner for them in 1919).

I think this makes it even more crucial that we endeavour to get one up now!

We have also been given the moral support of the Essex Regiment Museum, for which we are very grateful.


'C' Company Vs 'B' Company, in West Ham Park, 1915

"This match ended in a victory for 'C' Company by 3-2.

Playing with a strong wind, 'C' Coy tried hard to score, but all their efforts were futile, largely through the fact that the ball was practically uncontrollable by the violent wind.

Half time arrived with no score.

The second half opened with a smart attack on 'B' Company's goal, which was largely repulsed but eventually a nice opening was afforded 2nd Lt Page, who shot feebly, but sufficiently hard to register the first goal for 'C' Company.

This seemed to serve as a stimulant to 'B' Company and from the kick off 'C' Company's Back miskicked and Humphries fastened one on the leather and scored an equalising goal.

Within five minutes of this success, a melee in front of goal provided an opportunity for Webb who gave 'B' Company the lead.

Following this reverse, 'C' Company kept up a prolonged attack and the goalkeeper allowed a shot from Winter to pass through his hands. This success followed by another as Gillman with a splendid drive registered the winning goal for 'C' Company.

'C' Company: Pte Turner, Pte Buffett, Pte Wickers, Pte Gillman (or 'Gillmann'), Pte Dutton, 2nd Lt Holthusen, Pte Hemmings, Pte Plesants, 2nd Lt Page, Pte Winter, Pte Giess."

Sadly Brian Belton doesn't list his source.

If that teamsheet follows convention, then Pte Turner was the keeper. One possible is
17358 Private E H Turner

Lance Corporal J W Dutton, 18052, died on 15 May 1916 and is buried near Joseph Cooper.

I think it was Lt Holthusen who organised these sports games, but I'm not sure which one,
as two Holthusen brothers served in the 13th - one as OC Sigs and the other OC Medic.

17957 Donatz & 17959 Caffrey

Conradine Donatz was born in Core, Switzerland and emigrated to the UK. When he volunteered in the West Ham Battalion he was living in Walthamstow and worked as a waiter in the JLyons teahouse in Stratford

His service number was one down from my Great Grandad, which probably means Conradine was in the queue.

He was KIA during the Battle for Delville Wood, 31 July 1916

On the other side of my GtGrandfathers service number, we have Thomas Caffery, 17959.

He was reported wounded in the Essex Chronicle of 15.9.16. This probably means he was wounded (one of 60 men wounded) in the disastrous action on 9th August 1916 at Guillemont, just after he'd survived Delville Wood.

8th August 1916 - 8.30pm "Orders were recieved to move up to the trenches at Trones Wood and make the attack which had failed earlier in the day. The Battalion got into position at 3.30am on the night of 8th/9th, leaving no time for reconnaisance or thorough explanations to officers and NCO's and men of the attack which was to take place at 4.10am..."

Thomas survived the War, and when the Hammers were disbanded in February 1918 he was transferred to the Liverpool Regiment, becoming 325031. He was then demobbed and, I hope, lived a very peaceful and long life.

Home Front

"An angel on a pedestal
of white Sicilian marble
with columns of Labrador granite."

Spare a thought for Emily Elizabeth, wife of Joe Cooper. In May 1916 she was informed by the dreaded telegram of her husband's death at the Front.

My Nan (her daughter) could still feel the indescribable pain well into the 1980's. It was Joe who had brought home the first piano she'd ever sat at. She was so proud at being totally self taught on that old piano and I'll always remember her as a phenomenal pianist. During WW1 and WW2 and well into the 1960's she entertained the streets and pubs around Poplar, Limehouse and Isle of Dogs on 'the ivories'. I have a sneaking suspicion that Joe was perhaps a piano player too for it to register so strongly with her. Joe's photo (in uniform) was the only picture she cared for in her house. In fact, during times of dire poverty when furniture or pictures were burnt for heat, that photo was never touched. After she died, I didn't see that photo again for about 25 years, until this February 2008. Now I know more about his service and death in the West Ham Battalion than I suspect she ever did.

Here she is with Joe when she was about two years old. This is the only other photo I have of him.

Back to December, 1916. Emily's brother Alfred has also joined up but is by now dying of TB brought on by his military service 'under canvas'. He will be dead by the coming Christmas. As far as I can tell at the moment, he was originally West Ham battalion too but was quickly transferred to Home Service Labour Corps attached to Essex Regiment due to his profound deafness. His father, John Stormey was a 'Platelayer' in 1899, defined as "a workman who lays and maintains railway track". I dont know yet but more than likely Alf worked alongside his father - as he is described in his civilian job as 'Plate Improver' on his Military Medical Discharge. Emily had a hard time during 1916.

I cannot confirm yet whether any of Emily and Joe's children, including my Nan aged 9, attended Upper North Street School, but it would certainly fit today's 'catchment' area better than most. They certainly lived in the very close vicinity. I had also always presumed that my Nan's fear and loathing of aeroplanes and sheer terror at thunderstorms was due to living on the Isle of Dogs during the whole of the WW2 Blitz, from Heinkel 111's in 1940 all the way through to V2's in 1944, but perhaps it may actually have seeded itself much earlier...Like June 13th 1917, which arrived, hot and hazy...

As some of the children (who had also lost father's, brothers and uncles) at Upper North Street school were making paper chains, high above them the German Air Force began their first daylight raid on London, 'scintillating like so many huge silver dragonflies'...

Without a thought, the German bombers dropped their payload. One bomb made a direct hit on the school

"In memory of 18 children who were killed by a bomb dropped from a German Aeroplane upon the L.C.C. School, Upper North Street, on 13th June, 1917."

Louise Annie Acampora (age 5), Alfred Ernest Batt (5), Leonard Charles Barford (5), John Percy Brennan (5), William Thomas Henry Challen (4), Alice Maud Cross (5), William Hollis (5), George Albert Hyde (5), Grace Jones (5), Rose Martin (11), George Morris (6), Edwin Cecil William Powell (12), Robert Stimson (5), Elizabeth Taylor (5), Rose Tuffin (5), Frank Winfield (5) .

In total, 104 people were killed. 423 were injured, 154 of them seriously.

The funerals for the school children were held on June 20th. The King sent a telegram of condolence to the whole of Poplar. The congregation stretched far and wide, many thousands attended - yet not one was noted as being able to finish the central hymn of the funeral: "There's a friend for little children", written by Albert Midlane in 1859.

1 There's a friend for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
A friend Who never changes,
Whose love will never die;
Our earthly friends may fail us,
And change with changing years,
This friend is always worthy
Of that dear Name He bears.

2 There's a rest for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
Who love the blessed Savior,
And to the Father cry;
A rest from every turmoil,
From sin and sorrow free,
Where every little pilgrim
Shall rest eternally.

3 There's a home for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
Where Jesus reigns in glory,
A home of peace and joy;
No home on earth is like it,
Nor can with it compare;
For every one is happy
Nor could be happier there.

4 There's a song for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
A song that will not weary,
Though sung continually;
A song which even angels
Can never, never sing;
They know not Christ as Savior,
But worship Him as King.

5 There's a crown for little children
Above the bright blue sky,
And all who look for Jesus
Shall wear it by and by;
All, all above is treasured,
And found in Christ alone.
Lord, grant Thy little children
To know Thee as their own.

"The Mayor of Poplar and Will Crooks, the local MP, headed the raising of a 'convalescents' fund, to send bereaved mothers and traumatised children away for a fortnight's recuperation. At the beginning of July the first parties - 14 mothers, some with babies, and 70 children from Upper North Street School - set out for 'the beautiful up-river resort of Maidenhead. Women and children appeared delighted at the prospect of a couple of weeks amidst the sylvan charms of Berkshire, away from the din and nerve-trying memories of Poplar. A small party, including the Mayoress, also went to Maidenhead 'to see the mothers and children safely installed in their holiday cottages, and that every comfort conducive to health was provided'."

What Happened: http://www.ppu.org.uk/memorial/children/index.html#death

How People Responded: http://www.ppu.org.uk/memorial/children/mem_children2.html
The Memorial: http://www.ukniwm.org.uk/server/show/conMe...mUkniwmSearch/1

41485 Charles Badrick

Charles Badrick was the 33 year old husband of Elizabeth Badrick, of Wilstone, Tring, Herts.

His son is a West Ham supporter, but never knew that his father fought in Company D, 13th Essex Regiment. He was killed April 28th, 1917 at Oppy Wood. Judging from a map I'll try and post later, D Company's Aid Post was located in the sugar factory.

From the War Diary -
"27th April - Battalion moved to Roclincourt, leaving Maroeuil at 11am and practising the attack en-route, arriving at Roclincourt at 2pm, where dinner was served after which men rested until dusk. Battalion then moved up to the assembly trenches beyond Bailleul (Oppy Sector) and formed up ready for attack. All ranks appeared confident of success and cheerful.

Each man carried chocolate and two cheese sandwiches and were given a rum issue before moving off.

Disposition of the 6th Brigade: 13th Essex on right, 17th Middlesex on left.

Disposition of the Battalion, right to left: "B", "C", "D" and "A".

Each Company will have a frontage of 120 yards.

The artillery barrage is the guiding factor as to the pace of infantry advancing. It must be impressed on all ranks taking part in the attack that it is absolutely essential to advance close up to the barrage and that they must assault any portion of the enemy trench or portion opposite them immediately the barrage lifts.

A contact aeroplane (from No 5 Squadron, RFC) will fly over our line at 7am. Flares will be lit and mirrors flashed. This will be done when the contact aeroplane sounds his klaxon horn or fires a Very Light.

("A 'Contact Patrol' was essentially an aeroplane, or flight of aeroplanes, flying low over the battlefield to determine the relative positions of the British and German front lines during an attack. In theory, the aeroplane would fly along the front, sometimes sounding a klaxon to alert the soldiers to its presence. When the aeroplane was overhead, or thereabouts, the attacking British/Empire troops would fire a flare to indicate their position. Not surprisingly, many infantrymen opted not to fire flares that would also disclose their position to enemy artillery, so the airmen would have to rely on noticing if the muddy uniforms below were khaki or field grey.

In April 1917 No 5 Sqn was changing its BE 2c and 2d aircraft for the slightly more modern BE 2e, 2f and 2g, which it would use until replaced by the RE 8 in June 1917. The squadron was based at Savy from 7 April to 2 June 1917. A photograph of a BE 2d from No 5 Sqn - an aeroplane captured in September 1916 - is below. The black bands on the fuselage are the squadron's identification marking. They would be painted in white on an aircraft finished in the dark brown used later in the War.")

(aircraft & Squadron information and image courtesy of 'Dolphin' on GreatWarForum)

Dress: Fighting Order. One days ration and iron rations to be carried and water bottles filled. The following will also be carried: 2 Bombs per man (No 5 Mills), Bombers will carry 10 bombs. 2 sandbags per man. Every man to carry one flare and 120 rounds SAA.

Every man to have a round in the chamber when advancing."

From the Battalion History:

28th April - "The heavy fighting continued and at 9am the troops were ordered to fall back, hold and consolidate the German Front Line. All the officers of this Battalion had become casualties and the majority of the non-commissioned officers and what was left of the Battalion was quite disorganised and exhausted. Small parties held out but eventually retired, moving from shell hole to shell hole at dusk."

The officer commanding "D" Coy, 2nd Lt (Temporary Captain) E C Lowings was severly wounded. Three OR (Other Ranks) were killed outright. 4 officers and 79 OR's were wounded, 8 officers and 240 OR's were missing.

24 year old T/Captain John James Gordon Clarke (OC "C" Coy) and T/Captain C W Ritson (OC "B" Coy) were killed.

Son of J. and E. Clarke, of "Lyndhurst" of St. James' Rd., Gravesend, John James was husband of Muriel Mary Clarke, of Briscoe Lodge, Lennox Rd., Gravesend.

28 year old Claude Wilson Ritson had come over from Canada. He was the son of Wilson Ritson, J.P., and Hannah Ritson, of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada.


17994, Cpl George Brown, MM

George Leopold Brown, son of James and Amelia Brown, lived with his parents at 19 Newcomen Road, Leytonstone and enlisted in the West Ham Battalion becoming Private 17994 and sailing onboard SS Princess Victoria with the rest of the Battalion to France on 17th Nov 1915.

He won the Miltary Medal in the Hammers first trench raid at Souchez, 1st July 1916 and later was wounded in an attack at Waterlot Farm 8th August 1916 a few weeks after he had been at Delville Wood.

On recovery he was posted to the 9th Essex but was unfourtunately killed in an attack at Monchy le Prux during the fighting around Arras 17th July 1917.

He did all this as a 19 year old


details courtesy of his relative, 'Max Poilu' (m.poilu@tiscali.co.uk)

41309 Jessie Barrett

This is Private 41309, Jessie Robert BARRETT

The only action that occurred around the time of his death was on the 4th December when the War Diary states:
"Heavy shelling by enemy at intervals. Our artillery retaliates effectively. 4 Other Ranks killed. 10 OR Wounded and 1 OR wounded or missing"

New Contact Details

email us at westhampals@hotmail.co.uk

send any details or images you may have about
a relative and we will post them up for all to see