What Royston Did …

Men who fought - Battle of Passchendaele

The following are brief summaries of the stories behind some of the men from Royston and its surrounding district who fought at the battle. Images of the men, except where stated, are taken from the series “Local Patriots” which was published weekly in the Royston Crow during 1917. Those who were killed in the fighting or who later died of their injuries are indicated by a small poppy against their entry.

William Percy Andrews

image percy andrews

Private, 1st Hertfordshire Regiment
No. 5002 

Private, Bedfordshire Regiment
No. 266620

Born in Ashwell in 1895, he was the son of Henry William and Sarah Lilla (nee Ball).
Employed as a bottling boy at the Ashwell Brewery, he enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment, May 1915.

At the Battle of St. Julian he was injured on the 31st July, being wounded in the neck and leg, and repatriated to hospital at Chislehurst to recover.

William survived the Great War and is mentioned on the Ashwell Roll of Honour. He died in 1951 and is buried at St. Mary Cemetery, Ashwell

Leonard Wallace Batt

image cap badge of the grenadier guards

Private, 2nd Battalion, GDSN, Grenadier Guards
No. 25493

Born in Kelshall in 1896, he was the son of Thomas and Katherine Batt. The 1911 census records him working in the family business with his father who was a general poultry dealer.

He enlisted in London and was killed on the 31st July when his regiment took part in action on the Pilckem Ridge.

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial. 

Arthur Beale

image arthur beale

Private, 7th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment
No. 40457

Born in Therfield, Royston in 1887, the son of Alfred and Leonora Beale. An employee of Messrs. Duce and Lilly he also assisted his father in the Royston Cemetery.

He enlisted at Hitchin in March 1917 in the Suffolk Regiment, marrying Mary Rhodes in Luton prior to departure for France where he was transferred to the 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.

He died on the 31st July at the start for the Battle of Passchendaele when the regiment was in action at Pilckem Ridge.

Arthur is buried at the Perth Cemetery (China Wall) Belgium and is remembered on the Royston War Memorial.

His brother George also fought in the Passchendaele offensive receiving a wound to the face in November.

Albert Lewis Blunt

image albert lewis blunt

Private, Hertfordshire Regiment, serving with the Royal Engineers
No. 266357

The fourth son of James and Mary Elizabeth Blunt, born 1900, he worked at Heath Farm. His brothers were Frederick and George Blunt.

Albert enlisted in January 1915, aged 15 years and 9 months. He embarked for France in December 1916 serving with the Royal Engineers.

He died two weeks before the Passchendaele campaign on the 13th July, at the age 18 years and is buried in the Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, Belgium. He is also remembered on the Royston War Memorial.

His brothers both died in the war.

George (see entry above) died two weeks later.

Frederick servied with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He died in 1918 and is buried in the Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany. He is also remembered on the Royston War Memorial.

George Arthur Blunt

image george arthur blunt

Private, 6th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
No. 36241

Born in Royston in 1897. He was the son of James and Mary Elizabeth Blunt of Silver Hill, Back Street. The 1911 census shows him living with his parents and siblings. His occupation was given as “House Boy and Boy Carter’ at Wicker Hall.

He enlisted at Royston in February of 1915 and in the summer of 1916 returned to marry Ellen Lawrence.

He was killed during action on Pilckem Ridge on the 31st July.

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Menin Gate and the Royston War Memorials.

His brothers both died in the war.

Albert (see entry below) had died two weeks earlier.

Frederick servied with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. He died in 1918 and is buried in the Cologne Southern Cemetery, Germany. He is also remembered on the Royston War Memorial.

Bert (Albert) Carter

image bert carter

Private, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Cambridge’ Own (Middlesex Regiment)
No. G/22758

Born in 1883 in Barkway, Hertfordshire. He worked in Royston for many years but the 1911 census shows him residing at Hornsey, London with his wife, Ethel Mary and, at the time, his children Gilbert, George and Dennis. His occupation is given as a bricklayer.

He was the brother of Mrs. Jane Feast of Hastings Cottage, Gower Road.

Enlisting at Mill Hill, London he joined the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment) and was killed in action on the 31st July when the regiment took part to capture Pilckem Ridge.

He has no known grave and he is remembered on the Menin Gate and Royston War Memorial.

William Joseph Cooper

image william joseph cooper

Lance Corporal, Hertfordshire Regiment
No. 266359

He was the son of John and Susan Cooper of Melbourn Street and an employee of Simpsons Brewery, Baldock.

He enlisted 1915 and embarked for France in the March of 1916. He was injured during the Battle of the Somme on the side of his face and having recovered, he returned to the frontline to join his comrades.

Promoted to Lance Corporal, he was reported missing during action at Pilckem Ridge, believed to have been killed on the 31st July.

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Menin Gate and Royston War Memorial.

Percy Horace Drayton

image horace drayton

Private, 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards
No. 25425

Born in May 1879 in Barley he was the son of Joseph and Alice Drayton. He married Mabel Chapman in December 1912, at Westminster. Already in the forces, he was discharged as “time served” in 1915. He re-enlisted in Walthamstow whilst residing in Holloway, London with his wife and daughter, Mabel.

On 31st July, whilst helping a badly wounded sergeant, he was shot in the head and killed instantly. An officer writing to his widow stated that he was “one of the best and bravest in my platoon. During the attack his courage was the admiration of all”.

Private Drayton is buried at the Artillery Wood Cemetery, Belgium and remembered on the Barley War Memorial.

Jabez East

image jabez east

Private, “D” Company,
1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment
No. 327522

Born 1893 in Meldreth, he was the second son of Thomas and Elizabeth East. His elder bother was Alfred Thomas and he had two younger siblings, Frank and Emily. Before enlisting, he worked for CW Farnham, a local corn merchant. He married Elsie Jackson and together they had a daughter, Elsie Kathleen.

He enlisted in April 1916, the same month that he got married, and left for France in July. He saw action in the Battles of Thiepval and Ancre Heights, part of the Somme offensive.

On 31st July, the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, he was killed in no man's land by a bursting shell. His body was never recovered and he is remembered on the Menin Gate and Meldreth War Memorial.

Arthur Charles Frank Marshall

image cap badge of the hertfordshire regiemnt

Private, Hertfordshire Regiment
No. 265595

Born 1892 in Royston, he was the son of Arthur and Eliza Anne Marshall. The family resided at Letchworth when he enlisted.

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Menin Gate and Letchworth War Memorial. 

Ernest John Pigg

image ernest john pigg

Rifleman, 8th Battalion, City of London Regiment (Post Office Riffles)
No. 372861

Born in 1887 in Royston, the son of John and Agnes Pigg of The Nurseries, Gower Road, Royston, and brother of Vincent Joseph, Arthur George and Albert Reginald.

He enlisted in April 1916 and went out to France in January 1917.

He died 30th October 1917, aged 30, and his name is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium and the Royston War Memorial.

His brothers also served in the Great War, Arthur dying four months before Ernest. Arthur is remembered on the Menin Gate and Royston War Memorial.

Vincent and Albert were both wounded. 

Wrenford Rayment

image wrenford rayment

Cambridgeshire Regiment
No. 3929

Private, Machine Gun Corps
No. 25412

Silver War Badge No. B31171

Born in 1889 in Kneesworth but registered in Royston, Cambridgeshire (before the boundary changed). He was the son of Thomas and Sarah Rayment. The family lived in Gas Road (now Mill Road) Royston. He worked as a gardener.

He enlisted in Royston on 7th June 1915 with the Cambridgeshire Regiment and later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. He was wounded at St. Julien on the 31st July and repatriated to the General Military Hospital at Edmonton, North London where his foot was amputated. He writes home on the 6th August.

“A shell burst just by the side of my foot, we lost several, I am sorry to say, so I am more lucky than they, for after all life is sweet, and I may be able to get about well, when I am set up”.

Wrenford survived the Great War. He married Elsie Pearce in 1929 and had a daughter, Katharine. He died in 1974 in Royston.

(Ernest) John Robinson

image john robinson

Private, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
No. 30122

His parents were John and Hannah Robinson of The Fleet, Royston and he was married to Annie. He lived at Wrexham Terrace, Queens Road. His occupation was a house painter.

John enlisted in Hitchin in June 1916, fractured a leg while training but was sent to France in June 1917. He died on 16th August 1917 from wounds he received, aged 40.

With no known grave, he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium and the Royston War Memorial.

Robert Halford Taylor Rowley, MC

image robert rowley

2nd Lieutenant, Hertfordshire Regiment

Picture from “A Century of Golf, The History of Royston Golf Club” by Helen Allsopp, Harry Hainsworth and Angela Tinston

Born 1896 in Royston, the son of William and Alice Rowley. He married Elizabeth Barclay-Smith and was an auctioneer with the family firm of Rowley, Son and Royce.

He embarked for France in November 1916. He took part on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele at St. Julien and was listed in the Hertfordshire’s Regimental war diary as a casualty in September 1917.

Robert Rowley survived the Great War. He died on 28th May 1957 and is buried at the Additional Burial Ground, Royston.

He received the Military Cross for his gallantry and devotion to duty at Pont a Vache on the 4th November 1918. The report in the London Gazette on the 10th December 1919 read:

‘When his company was held up by very heavy machine-gun fire, he immediately led his platoon to the right flank, capturing thirty of the enemy and three machine guns without a casualty. He thus enabled his company, as well as the company on the left, to continue the advance. Though very ill at the time, he set a fine example of courage and leadership throughout the day.’

William Jeffrey Sell

image cap badge of the hertfordshire regiment

Private, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment 
No. 2197

Born in Royston in 1895, the son of Jeffery and Emeline Sell. The family moved to Hitchin in the early 1900.

He enlisted in the Hertfordshire Regiment in 1913. He received the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty on the 31st July, the first day of the Passchendaele campaign at St. Julian.

Injured two days later, he was shot in the neck and arm. Upon his recovery he was transferred to the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire regiment in November and repatriated to England. Unfit for war service but still in the army, he was seconded to a munition factory, Spencer and Co. at Hitchin.

He died on the 18th August 1918 and is buried at Hitchin Cemetery and remembered on the Hitchin War Memorial.

Frederick Gordon Thompson

image gordon thomson

Private, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment
No. 265852

Born in Guilden Morden in 1897, the son of William and Fanny Thompson. He was employed as a farm labourer.

He enlisted in September 1914 as a transport driver. Embarking for France in January 1917 he then joined his unit in March.

Frederick was killed in this action on the 31st July 1917. He has no known grave and he is remembered on the Menin Gate and Guilden Morden Memorials.

Tom Weston

image om weston

Private, 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment
No. 265084

Born in Royston in 1894, the son of Thomas (a retired publican) and Eliza Weston. The census of 1911 recorded them residing at Northfield House, Old North Road, His occupation was given as “apprentice carpenter and joiner”. At that time his mother was widowed. He had a sister, Edith Mary, aged 11 years.

He enlisted age 18 years in the 1st Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment on 9th January 1911.

In November of 1914, as a result of a “Jack Johnson” shell exploding above the trench that killed his ‘brothers in arms’, Privates Frederick James Darlow and Frank Pulley both of Royston, he was invalided home suffering from shell shock as he was buried in the trench. He was unconscious when was repatriated to hospital at Southampton. Having recovered consciousness, he transferred to the 4th North General Hospital at Lincoln and finally home to Royston to recuperate. During that period at home, his term in the army came to an end but he re-enlisted and returned to France.

His service records show that he was missing in action and that he was presumed killed on the first day of the Passchendaele campaign on the 31st July at Pilckem Ridge, St. Julien.

Replying to an enquiry from his mother as to the whereabouts of her son the No. 3 Record Office at Warley wrote on dated 23rd August 1920 confirming his death and that he is buried at the New Irish Farm Cemetery, Belgium. He was posthumously granted the “1914 Star” and is remembered on the Royston War Memorial.

Walter Peter Westwood

image cap badge of the suffolk regiment

2nd Lieutenant, 6th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment

Son of Clara Westwood, of Queens Road, Royston. In 1911 he was described as the adopted son of Dr. Cecil Frank Wightman of Melbourn Street, Royston.

Slightly wounded by a shell burst and then killed by a second shell, he died on the 26th September, aged 23.

His is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium and the Royston War Memorial.