Names on our War Memorial

We are constantly reminded of the First World War as we mark centenaries of the grim battles that took place in the early years of last century. This year we have commemorated the bloody battle that took place on the Somme from July until November 1916. The Parish Council wanted to ensure that we continued to respect the memory of the young men from our village who gave their lives during those battles and as a small gesture we have refurbished the war memorial that was first erected in the 1920’s. In doing this, it was realised that no-one is now alive who has any personal recollection of those individuals, although, in some instances, their families are still living locally. For most of us the names on the war memorial are just that; names, and it was thought that it would be interesting if we could look behind the names and try to understand a little more about the individuals who used to live here, in Stambourne, before going off to war never to come back. You will note from the information given below that four of the individuals commemorated on our memorial, gave their lives during the Battle of the Somme.

There are seven names on the memorial, all dating from the First World War. (Fortunately no servicemen from our village lost their lives during the Second World War.)
They are:-

Alexander A Ashard
Ernest Drew
Harry A Drew
Edward Jackson
William W Metson
Arthur T Mickley
Arthur Ruggles


The internet makes it reasonably simple to access the service and census records of these individuals.
1
These are detailed below:-

Alexander A Ashard (Service Number 169310) was a lance corporal serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment when he was killed in action on the 1st July 1916. He was aged 18. (This was the first day of the Battle of the Somme which was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army when approximately 28,000 men were killed.) He has no known grave but his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme Battlefield. In the 1901 census he was living with his parents, George and Ellen and his sister Ruth. In the 1911 census he was boarding with Alfred and Ellen Hardy and was working as a farm labourer
Ernest Drew (Service Number 17036) was a private serving in the 9th Battalion of the Essex Regiment when he was killed on the 20th October 1915. He was aged 25. He rests in the Lapugnoy Cemetery in the Pas de Calais along with 1336 of his comrades. In the 1911 census he was living with his father George and was working as a farm labourer.
Harry A Drew (Service Number 1692) was a private serving in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment when he was killed on the 23rd October 2016. He was aged 24 He has no known grave, but his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme Battlefield. In the 1911 census he was working as a shepherd and living in a shepherds hut. His father was George and he was the brother of Ernest, listed above.
Edward Jackson (Service Number 9978) was a Farrier Sergeant serving in D Battery, 70th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery when he was killed on 21st April 1917. He was aged 24. He rests in Beaurains Cemetery in Northern France along with 56 of his comrades. In the military records he is shown as living in Chelmsford when he enlisted and his parents are listed as Lewis and Lucy Jackson of Thurstons Farm
William W Metson (Service Number 8927) was a private serving in 7th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment when he was killed on 3rd July 1916. He was aged 20. He has no known grave, but his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme Battlefield. In the 1911 census he is shown to be living with his parents Eli and Julia and working as a farm labourer
Arthur T Mickley (Service Number 12545) was a private serving in the 10th Battalion of the Essex Regiment when he was killed on 21st October 2017. He was aged 23. He rests in the Artillery Wood Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium along with 1306 of his comrades. In the 1911 census he is shown to be living with his parents Charles and Caroline and was working as a farm labourer.
Arthur Ruggles (Service Number 13798) was a private serving in the 1st battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment when he was killed on the 21st of September 1916. He was aged 21. He rests in the Vermelles British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais along with 2144 of his comrades. In the 1911 census he is shown living with his parents Allan and Rose and he was working as a farm labourer.
It is notable that all of the young men were associated with agriculture, mostly as farm labourers. It is certain that they would have known each other and would most likely have attended the village school together.
They were all very young with the oldest being 25 and the youngest, 18.

Martyn J Fall
December 2016
1Service records were gleaned from the web site www.forces-war-records.co.uk 1911 census details from www.ancestry.co.uk and burial details from www.cwgc.org