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St George's Memorial Church
Their New Bells
Under the inspiration, driving force and dedication of Alan Regin, St George’s Memorial Church now has a new set of bells and these, in comparison to those they replaced, are capable of being rung.

Alan has been Steward of the Central Council Rolls of Honour for several years. He has worked hard to ensure that the rolls are as complete as possible, to the extent that an additional volume was required. He is also responsible for most of the photos and other additional material now forming part of the online version of the Rolls of Honour having visited many of the war cemeteries and memorials around the world where ringers are commemorated (or for some of the more distant ones, such as Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, persuading other ringers to visit and take photographs when their trips took them nearby). During the centenary period he has organised publication in The Ringing World of monthly lists of ringing casualties for that month a century ago, and been a member of the band for many of the peal and quarter peal attempts organised to commemorate those ringers who lost their lives. It was of particular pleasure to read that Alan’s devotion to campanology has been recognised in the 2018 New Year Honours List and awarded an MBE.

I was delighted to be able to assist with the organization of the delivery of the bells in Ypres but it was not a solo effort. A great deal of help was provided by a host of good people in Ypres that included:
Schepen Verschoore from Ypres Town Council and a member of his staff, Peter Slosse;
Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association;
Unloading the vehicles at Tyne Cot was arranged by Steven Vandenbussche;
The storage of the vehicles in the Infantry Barracks in Ypres was organised by Kolonel Christophe Onraet and his colleagues on site, Lieutenant Kolonel Carol Vermeulen and members of his staff.

A new ring of 8 bells which have been cast at the world famous bell foundry of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough for St George's Memorial Church in Ypres arrived in Ypres on Tuesday 30th August.

They left Loughborough on Tuesday 22nd August on First World War Dennis and Thornycroft army lorries owned by John Arthur and John Marshall from North Yorkshire. Richard Cockcroft assisted with the driving of the vehicles. Road transport was provided by Stuart Ritchie of E & N Ritchie Hauliers, Co Durham. The bells and lorries were part of the World War One commemorative display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair (from 24th to 28th August inclusive). The Great Dorset Steam Fair sponsored the road transport costs from Loughborough, Leicestershire, to the Great Dorset Steam Fair and then onto Ypres.

The bells and the lorries programme was:

Wednesday 30th August 2017

The Bells will be in Belgium and will travel from Tyne Cot Cemetery to the Menin Gate on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries were present at the Last Post Ceremony at 8.00pm. The route and timings were:
2.30pm - 4.30pm Tyne Cot Cemetery Parking area
5.10pm - 5.35pm Hooge Crater Cemetery
5.50pm - 6.25pm Perth Cemetery (China Wall)
6.40pm - 7.15pm Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm)
7.30pm                    Arrive at Menin Gate
8.00pm                   Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate  
8.30pm                   Depart Menin Gate       

Thursday 31st August 2017
The Bells travel to St George's Memorial Church on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries via Ypres Reservoir Cemetery and the Grote Markt, before arriving at the Church:
09.45am – 10.10am Ypres Reservoir Cemetery
10.20am – 10.50am The Grote Markt
11.00am                       Arrive at St George’s Memorial Church

At 5.00pm a special service was held in St George's Memorial Church where the bells were dedicated on the floor of the Church.

The fine tower of St George’s Memorial Church was built to contain change ringing bells, bells controlled by rope and wheel that turn through 360 degrees when they are rung and will be the first of their kind in Belgium. The inscriptions on the bells follow the same pattern of individual or group commemoration found in the church. Each bell has a Poppy motif cast around the shoulder.

The bells were hung in the tower during September and then other work in the tower was completed ready for the final dedication service which was held on:

Sunday 22nd October 2017

The bells were dedicated in the tower at a special service starting at 11.00am. The service was conducted by The Rt. Revd Dr Robert Innes, Bishop in Europe.

A set of 16 Victorian handbells that belonged to a Great War Veteran have been donated to the project by John Coles. These will be fully restored by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and be available to local and visiting ringers.

Memorial Book

Timothy Noad, professional illuminator and calligrapher, has been commissioned to create a Memorial Book that will be on display in the newly panelled ringing room. Each of the 64 inscriptions on the bells will be recorded in the book together with details of the donors.
The Knott Brothers
Captain Henry Basil Knott
9th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers
Died on Tuesday 7th September 1915, aged 24
Grave reference V. B. 16, Ypres Town Cemetery.

Basil was born at the Manor House, Newcastle, on Thursday 5th February 1891, younger son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated privately followed by Eton College as a member of Mr Arthur Conolly Gage Heygate’s House, leaving in 1910. He became a Director in the family shipping company, the Prince Line of Newcastle.
At the outbreak of war Basil volunteered and was commissioned in September 1914 and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain and left for Boulogne, France on Thursday 15th July 1915 on the SS Invicta. Basil was sent to northern France to complete his training before crossing the border to begin tours of duty in the front line.
Henry was in action at the Bois Carré, Vierstraat, and was mortally wounded in the head by a rifle bullet and was taken to No 10 Casualty Clearing Station at ‘Remy Sidings’ where he died the next day, and was buried in Poperinghe New Cemetery.
Henry left an estate of £20,196 13s 8d (approximately £1,691,255.00 today).
His father, Sir James, disposed of his company by the end of 1916 after the death of Basil’s brother, Jim and moved to Jersey. It was his wish to have the bodies of both his sons brought back to England but the authorities would not bend, despite him using all the connections and influence he had. Finally, they agreed that both boys would be buried next to each other, and so Basil was exhumed and moved to Ypres Reservoir and his brother brought from Fricourt, France.
There are buried now next to each and both graves carry the same inscription: “Devoted in life, in death not divided”.
Basil and Jim Knott are commemorated on many memorials raised their memory. They include:
In the porch of St George’s Memorial Church, Ypres, there are three plaques to the Knott family including one to their father who donated large sums of money to the church. A trust fund in his memory was created that still operates to this day: www.knott-trust.co.uk
The inscriptions in St George’s Memorial Church read:
“To the glory of God and in memory of his two sons killed in action. Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers. This tower was given by Sir James Knott. MDCCCCXXVIIII.”
“To the glory of God and in memory Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action the bells in this tower were consecrated 11th November 1997.”
They are commemorated at Collercoats, Heddon, and Wylam, a memorial park at Heddon was created by their father. In St James and St Basil, Fenham, Newcastle, a pair of stained glass window show each brother in uniform.
He was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.
His eldest brother, Thomas, who was working in New Zealand at the outbreak of war, served during the war and survived. He succeeded to the title and lived in Courtland, Exmouth, Devon.
For further information, see ‘A History of the Knott Family’ by Joan R Duckett, and ‘Pride of the Princes - History of The Prince Line’ by Norman L Middlemiss.

Major James Leadbitter ‘Jim’ Knott, DSO
10th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own)
Died on Saturday 1st July 1916, aged 33
Grave reference V. B. 15, Ypres Town Cemetery.

Citation for the Distinguished Service Order, London Gazette, Saturday 3rd June 1916:
“War Office, 3 Jun. 1916. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for distinguished service in the field, dated 3 June, 1916.” His name is listed below.

Jim was born on Saturday 2nd December 1882, elder son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated at Eton College as a member of the Reverend Henry Daman’s and Mr Hugh Vibart Macnaghten’s Houses, leaving in 1900 and then travelled extensively in North America. He was appointed Deputy Managing Director to his father in The Prince Line, a shipping company in Newcastle.
Like his father, Jim took a great interest in politics and was selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal-held constituency of Hyde. In 1916 a by-election was called in the seat but Jim gave up the opportunity of being the candidate so that he could remain at the front.
At the outbreak of war Jim volunteered and was gazetted and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain on Saturday 21st November 1914.
Early on Wednesday 14th July 1915 Jim arrived in Boulogne and entrained at 3.50pm for Lumbres. He marched with his men to billets in the Ouve area. Jim marched to Arques on Sunday 18th and after resting overnight moved to Steenvoorde. After the tiring march all ranks were delighted to have two days rest before continuing the march across the Belgian border to La Clytte, arriving in the early hours of Friday 23rd. All ranks were sent into the trenches in front of Kemmel for practical training with experienced, battle-hardened troops. On Monday 26th Private Arthur Hall was mortally wounded and died the next day; he was the first to be killed from the Battalion that brought home to everyone the reality of the Western Front — he is buried in Westouter Churchyard and Extension.
The Battalion began its first tour of duty in its own right on Monday 2nd August in the line between the Vierstraat to Wytschaete road and the Verbrandenmolen. At 10.45am a bombardment of the line began and at 11.10am the enemy blew a mine close to ‘B’ Company that wounded Lieutenant Maidlow and four of his men, however two German soldiers were killed! A week later Jim transferred north to support an attack at Hooge. A welcome break from the front line came early on Saturday 14th August when Jim arrived in La Clytte for twelve days of rest and training. When not instructing or organising his mens activities Jim was able to visit Bailleul and enjoy the cafés, concerts, restaurants and other facilities that abounded in the town. The reality of the Western Front returned on Thursday 26th when he marched with his men from La Clytte to relieve the Border Regiment in the front line near ‘Dead Dog Farm’, St Eloi.
The Battalion remained in the sector until the end of October when they were sent to Hooge that was described: “The trenches taken over were in a very bad condition. They had all suffered heavily from both our own and the enemy’s shellfire during the fighting between the end of July and the 25th September. Several trenches had been entirely destroyed and in the support and reserve lines it had not been possible to reconstruct them. North of the Menin Road the trenches varied from 80 to 20 yards distant from the enemy’s front trenches. The large crater blown up on June 10th, when the 3rd Division attacked, is 80 feet across and 40 deep. The inside has been constantly shelled and some hundreds of men are buried in it. On the line south of the Menin Road there is a gap of 200 feet between C.1 and C.3 trenches. It has never been possible to reconstruct the intervening trench C.2 as it is constantly destroyed by enemy fire. Zouave Wood is a mass of debris and broken trees. The enemy opposite are Wurtemburgers and regiments from Alsace.” Jim was relieved on Monday 1st November; he spent the rest of the month on tours of duty in the sector. The first ten days of December were spent in reserve at ‘York Huts’ before returning to Hooge for a tour. Jim and his men were looking forward to some rest in their camp at Busseboom, where they had arrived on Wednesday 15th December, but due to a gas attack they were stood to. Christmas Day was spent out of the line but Jim was back on duty in the trenches on Boxing Day where a raid was countered later in the evening.
Jim left the trenches of the Salient on Friday 7th January 1916 and after a series of marches with his men took them to Ruminghem where training continued until Saturday 5th February. He returned to a camp in Reninghelst on Monday 7th, a week later Jim was about to march to the line at St Eloi when the enemy blew a mine under ‘The Bluff’ so the relief was postponed. It was not until 6.00pm did the Battalion relieve the 10th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. Jim continued fighting in the sector and on Monday 28th February the Brigade Diary recorded: “10th West Yorkshire’s Intelligence Officer has sent in reports of considerable value as to the enemy’s works on the Bluff, which has enabled the artillery to destroy them. This officer, and the Intelligence Officer of the 7th Yorkshires, also discovered some enemy strong points opposite the trenches held by their Regiments. These are being destroyed by the siege battery.” Following a terrific bombardment on Wednesday 1st March the Battalion was involved in a fierce fight and lost one hundred and twenty officers and men, killed and wounded.
Active service in Belgium ended on Sunday 12th March; Jim was moved to the Armentières sector a week later where he remained until being sent south on Friday 12th May to train at Bayenghem for the Battle of the Somme. The first main action that Jim would take part in was at Fricourt, as described in the Divisional Diary: “As Fricourt Village and Wood had been excluded from attack in the first phase of operations, it was decided to cover the right flank of the 21st Division, by occupying the north edge of Fricourt village as far as Red Cottage and Lonely Copse. This attack was allotted to the 50th Infantry Brigade, which was therefore detached and placed under the orders of the G.O.C., 21st Division, and under his orders this brigade took over the trenches opposite Fricourt Village, with instructions to advance against their objective at 7.30 a.m. on the 1st July.”
The Battalion received the following order for the attack: “The 7th Yorkshire Regiment will assault on a front from the Wing Corner to south side of German Tambour in conjunction with the 22nd Brigade on the right, with the following objectives:
(1)    Of clearing up to the eastern edge of Fricourt Village from Well Lane to Cottage Trench and Cottage Trench to Willow Avenue, there joining with the 22nd Brigade (7th Division). On reaching this objective the Battalion will re-organize with the objective of
(2)    Clearing Fricourt Wood as far as Willow Trench and the track leading N.N.E. to X.28.C.8.0 as soon as the barrage on the west front of Fricourt Wood lifts (i.e. 2nd Zero plus fifteen minutes from S.W. edge of wood and 2nd Zero plus one hour forty-five minutes from a parallel line 150 yards back from edge of wood).
The 10th West Yorkshire Regiment will co-operate with the 7th Yorkshire Regiment against both objectives.
The boundary between the two battalions will be —
(1)    Through Fricourt village:- The line of trenches running from the junction of Hare Lane and Red Trench to Well Lane at F.3.b. central,
(2)    Through Fricourt Wood:- Roughly the line of clearing running N.E. through the middle of the wood.”

At 7.30am Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Dickson and Jim (his Second in Command) led the third and fourth companies forward only to be cut down by machine gun fire, they and most of their men were killed.
The War diary reads: “On 1st July 1916 at 7.30 a.m. the Battalion took part in the grand assault. Casualties were very heavy, chiefly, caused by machine guns which enfiladed our left flank and were so deadly that the third and fourth lines failed to get across ‘No Man’s Land’, resulting in 22 Officer casualties, including the Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Dickson and Major J. L. Knott, Second in Command were both killed and approximately 750 other ranks.”   
Jim was originally buried alongside Lieutenant Colonel Dickson in Fricourt New Military Cemetery. After the war he was reburied with his brother, see above.
A letter that Jim wrote home the day he was killed is displayed in the West Yorkshire Regiment Memorial Chapel in York Minster. The envelope was marked: “This letter is only to be sent to my father in the event of my death before 15 July 1916.” The letter reads:
British Army in the Field
1 July 1916
My dearest Father and Mother,
If you are reading this letter is means that this war has demanded the extreme sacrifice from me, and my object in writing is to bring you as far as I can, some measure of consolation and courage and patience to bear your sorrow.
It is not in any sense a message from the grave because whatever I may or may not doubt, I have very complete faith in the Life Eternal.
I know that I will be with you when you are reading this, and I want you to realise, and always remember that, although Providence has been decided that I may not return to you in the flesh, that I shall be always with you in the Spirit sharing your joys and sorrows.
I feel compelled by my knowledge of you both to write this, because my own great anxiety at the present time is the possibility of your collapse if I follow ‘Pomp’.
Momentous events are looming up and I have a premonition that I may not return to you. I have been dreaming of Basil recently, and I have an indistinct recollection of a letter in Basil’s handwriting dated June 1916, which I feel is his warning message. If I am correct then you will both know Basil and I are happy.
I hope and desire above all things that you will unduly grieve. You must not think harshly of me for refusing to accept safe employment, even if my action results and your sorrow. We have all to show courage — those out here in facing the music and taking what comes in a stoic manner — those at home in facing the loneliness that must follow the casualties of severe fighting.
I do want you to know and realise how deeply and whole-heartedly I have appreciated and loved you both for your unselfish devotion and all-forgiving love. My life has been one uninterrupted period of all that a man could wish for or desire. If I die now I am content to do so. Life is sweet, and holds out all that a young man could desire — power, wealth and above all, great love, but I want you to know that I faced the future fearlessly, and that I was cheerful and satisfied.
My medals are yours but I should like them destroyed when you both join me — whenever that may be.
Always remember that I am relying upon you both to be good brave parents, and that I can only be really happy in a new life if I know and can see that you are happy too.
My clothes, furniture and motor car must all be immediately disposed of, everything which reminds you of my death must be removed — this is my urgent desire and wish.
God grant that you will be given health, strength and happiness for many years.
Your devoted son,

Jim left an estate of £104,350 2s 0d (approximately £8,738,269.00 today).
He is commemorated on several memorials, see his brother above for further details.
Jim was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.

Arthur, Bill & George Heesom

To commemorate Arthur, Bill and George Heesom
who were killed during the
First World War.
Many more of the family served in the armed services
or in the merchant navy and survived the conflict.
Those who died in the Second World War are commemorated
at the end of this text.
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Edith and Harry, daughter and youngest son of Frank Heesom. My much loved mother and uncle.

Y996 Rifleman Arthur Heesom
9th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on Saturday 25th September 1915, aged 20
Commemorated on Panel 53, Menin Gate.
Arthur was born in January 1895 the third son of Arthur and Ann Heesom, 128 Knutsford Road, Latchford, Warrington. He had older siblings Frank, William, Eliza Anna and Jessie, and younger siblings, Evan and Fred. After his education Arthur was employed as a gas stove maker. Arthur was sent for training at Grayshott, Bordon and Aldershot from where he left for France, arriving in Boulogne on Sunday 20th May 1915. He entrained to northern France and marched across the border into Belgium where he was provided with training for the front line and re-kitted. Arthur undertook a series of tours of duty in the front line, but until the end of July did not participate in any major action. A large mine was blown at Hooge on Thursday 22nd July and a week later he marched into the line close to the crater and ‘Sanctuary Wood’: “The crater itself was untenable, owing to constant trench-mortaring and ‘straffing’, and the trenches, dry but the crest dilapidated beyond measure, ran up to the lip on either side, with no definite connection round the crater. The sector had an evil reputation for being subject to incessant sniping and bombing, besides trench-mortaring and shell fire: but on the night of 29th/30th, when the two battalions took over from the very tired and worn 7th Rifle Brigade and the 8th K.R.R.C., there was ominous silence. No notice was taken by the enemy of the noise inseparable from a relief, and even a few bombs thrown by the new-comers into the German trenches — in places only 15 feet away — provoked no reply. Half an hour before dawn the trench garrison stood to arms, and there was a still complete quiet. Then at 3.15 a.m., with dramatic suddenness, came the carefully planned German stroke. The site of the stables of the château was blow up, whilst a sudden hissing sound was heard by the two companies of the 8th Rifle Brigade on either side of the crater, and a bright crimson glare over the crater turned the whole scene red. Jets of flame, as if from a line of powerful hoses, spraying fire instead of water, shot across the front trenches of the Rifle Brigade, and a thick black cloud formed. It was the first attack on the British with liquid fire. At the same time fire of every other kind was opened: trench-mortar bombs and hand-grenades deluged the front trenches, machine-gun and shrapnel bullets swept the two communications trenches the 300 yards of open ground between the front and support lines in Sanctuary and Zouave Woods; high-explosive shells rained on these Woods, whilst the ramparts of Ypres and all exits from the town were bombarded anew. The surprise was complete, and would probably have led to an entry even at the strongest part of the line. Most of the 8th Rifle Brigade in the front trenches were overwhelmed, the rest fell back gradually over the fire-swept open ground to the support line. The enemy did not follow: he at once set about consolidating the trenches he had secured, and trying to increase his gain by attacking the 7th K.R.R.C. in front, flank, and rear. There was desperate trench fighting, in which parties again brought up Flammenwerfer, but rapid fire was turned on to them at 20 yards range, and the attempt to use them broke down. In the end, however, after several counter-attacks, all but a small sector of the K.R.R.C. trenches were lost.” Arthur was relieved from the line on Saturday 31st, lucky to have survived when so many of his friends and comrades were left on the battlefield.
He continued to on tours of duty; on Friday 24th September Arthur was again in the line at Hooge in preparation for the attack on Bellewaarde the next day which was a diversionary attack for the Battle of Loos where his brother William was about to fight. At 4.19am a mine was blown under the German line, only a short distance in front of Arthur, whistles were blown and he went over the top attacking the German line when he was shot and killed.

His brother, Rifleman William Heesom, was mortally wounded on the same day and died on Sunday 10th October 1915 — see below.

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Y/1033 Rifleman William ‘Bill’ Heesom
2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on Sunday 10th October 1915, aged 26
Grave reference K. CE. 675, Warrington Cemetery, Cheshire.

Bill was born in 1889 the second son of Arthur and Ann Heesom, of 128 Knutsford Road, Warrington. He had elder siblings Frank and Sarah, and younger siblings Bill, Eliza Ann, Jessie, Arthur, Eva and Fred. Following his education he was employed as a moulder.
He volunteered in 1912 in the Territorials and was mobilised at the outbreak of war. Bill was 5ft 3½in tall, with a 36½in chest, weighed 114lbs, had a sallow complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair.
Bill was sent for training first in Winchester, Hampshire, then to Sheerness, Kent. Whilst in camp in Sheerness he was given five days confined to barracks for using a light in his barrack room at 10.30pm and for gambling. Bill left for France on Tuesday 26th January 1915 and joined the Battalion with a draft whilst they were serving in the La Bassée sector. He settled down to normal front line duties in the cold, wet, grim trenches of northern France. German snipers were a constant problem that was finally sorted out by Lieutenant L C Rattray who formed a Battalion sniper section: “Thanks to their enterprise and accurate shooting, we soon got the upper hand of the German snipers, and this ascendancy was maintained throughout the campaign and in every section of the line before the Battalion had been three days in the trenches.”
The first offensive that Bill participated in was the Battle of Aubers Ridge on Sunday 9th May. The Battalion was in support of the Northamptonshire Regiment and went forward into No Man’s Land to wait for the barrage to lift. Whistles were blown and the men rose to charge towards the German lines. The barrage had been woefully ineffective as the German wire remained intact and their front line suffered little damage. Enemy machine gunners poured a curtain of lead at the attacking forces and it became clear that to continue would be suicide.  At 7.30am orders were given for the Battalion to withdraw to their trenches. Bill remained in the front line as a further disastrous assault was made and it was with some relief when he marched back to his billet early on Tuesday 11th. The roll call confirmed the heavy toll on the Battalion, eleven officers and two hundred and forty men were killed, wounded or listed as missing.
Bill returned to normal duties of serving in the front line, or in reserve, training or resting behind the line. However, he was invalided to a hospital in Etaples on Wednesday 30th June 1915 then transferred to a camp to recuperate on Friday 2nd July. He was sent to 1st Infantry Base Depôt in Le Havre on Sunday 18th and rejoined the Battalion four days later. Bill was given five days confined to barracks on Saturday 7th August for urinating near his billet and not using the latrines! Bill trained with the Battalion to prepare for the next major offensive, The Battle of Loos, where the British would use gas for the first time.
Bill moved into the trenches near Hulluch ready to take part in the battle that began at 5.50am on Saturday 25th September when the gas was discharged, coupled with smoke. Unfortunately the gas also blew back into some sections of the trenches occupied by the Battalion and those of the 1st Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment as they awaited orders. Over two hundred men were put out of action as a result. The gas and smoke drifted slowly towards the enemy lines as the advance began. The German artillery was pounding the area and their machine gunners were able to enfilade Bill and his comrades. In the terrible fight one of Bill’s young comrades, 18 year old Rifleman George Peachment was awarded the Victoria Cross: “For most conspicuous bravery near Hulluch on 25th Sept., 1915. During very heavy fighting, when our front line was compelled to retire in order to re-organise, Pte. Peachment, seeing his Company Commander, Captain Dubs, lying wounded, crawled to assist him. The enemy’s fire was intense, but, though there was a shell hole quite close, in which a few men had taken cover, Pte. Peachment never thought of saving himself. He knelt in the open by his Officer and tried to help him, but while doing this he was first wounded by a bomb and a minute later mortally wounded by a rifle bullet. He was one of the youngest men in his battalion and gave this splendid example of courage and self-sacrifice.”
Bill was badly wounded and evacuated from the field to a hospital in Wimereux where it revealed he had a fractured spine, a wound to his right shoulder and abdomen and a perforated liver. His parents, Arthur and Ann were sent a telegram to inform them of his wounds that probably arrived at the same time they discovered that his brother, Arthur, had been killed on the same day that Bill had been wounded. Bill was taken by hospital ship to Folkestone, Kent, on Friday 1st October and admitted to The Royal Victoria Hospital in the town. His parents were been able to take the train to Folkestone and were with him when he died. They had lost two of their sons in two weeks.
His brother, Rifleman Arthur Heesom, died on Saturday 25th September and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

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My mother, Edith, visiting the Vis-en-Artois Memorial to lay a wreath below the panel where her relation, George, is commemorated.

34455 Private George Heesom
2nd/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)
Died on Friday 13th September 1918, aged 19
Commemorated on Panel 6, Vis-en-Artois Memorial, France.

George was born in May 1899 at home, eldest son and child of Edward and Elizabeth Heesom of 40a St George’s Hill, Everton, Liverpool. He had younger siblings, William, (Joseph who died as an infant), Henry Ernest, John Bimbow, Edward, Harold, Elsie Jane, Alice and Agnes. Following his education he worked as a mill hand.
George volunteered at the Technical School in Liverpool on 11th May 1917 at the age of 18. He was 5ft 3½in tall, with a 34in chest, weighed 112lbs, had brown hair and had scars on his right index finger.
He first served with 1/7th Battalion Manchester Regiment until Friday 5th April 1918 when he joined the Yorkshire Regiment with service number 35295, and was compulsorily transferred to the West Riding Regiment on Friday 26th July 1918. He left from Folkestone, Kent, for Boulogne and was sent to Depôt in Etaples. He left to join the Battalion on Monday 5th August, arriving the next day.
George arrived on the battlefield as the war was turning inexorably against the Germans. General Erich Ludendorff wrote: “August 8th was the black day of the German Army in the history of the war. This was the worst experience I had to go through … Knowing that the next measure must be purely defensive, General Headquarters had early in August ordered a gradual withdrawal of our lines in the plain of the Lys, and the evacuation of the bridgeheads on the Ancre and Avre. They were evacuated on the 3rd and 4th of August.” It must have been an exciting time to arrive at the front, after four years of war it was clear that there was only one way the front would be moving — forward. George must have been relieved to arrive in time to join in the victory. George had time to chat to battle-hardened troops who had been serving at the front for many months, many longer, who told him about the reality of war and what fighting the enemy entailed. As the Germans withdrew, the British advanced across their part of the Western Front.
His first main action was against the area around Mory. George moved west of Courcelles and went into the trenches west of Béhagnies. At 9.00am on Sunday 25th August, under a creeping barrage, George and his comrades moved forward towards Sapignies and Béhagnies. Initially little opposition was encountered so the advance went well until the German machine gunners began sweeping the ground between Mory and Favreuil. The enemy was well positioned in Favreuil and put up a stout defence. It took a number of attacks before the village was captured but not before the Battalion had taken significant losses.
From 3rd September George began training in the Gomiécourt area to prepare for an attack and capture of Havrincourt. The Battalion marched from their camp into the assembly trenches ready to take part in the attack that began at 5.30am on Thursday 12th. It was an immediate success with many prisoners flooding back to the rear. During the advance George was killed, his body lost in the mêlée. General Whigham wrote: “On September 12th, the Division was called upon to repeat its former feat of capturing the village of Havrincourt. This village stand on very commanding ground, and formed a most formidable position i the Hindenburg front line. Its capture was essential to the development of the great offensive south of Cambrai, in which we have latterly been engaged. … Without the possession of Havrincourt, the grand attack of September 27th could not have been successfully launched.”

R/18329 Lance Corporal Cyril Knight
2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps
Died on Sunday 20th August 1916, aged 20
Grave reference XVIII. J. 7, Delville Wood Cemetery, France.

Cyril was the son of Samuel Knight, of 18 Bank Street, Widnes, Lancashire. He had elder brothers, Samuel and Isaac ‘Ike’, and younger siblings, Harry and Muriel. He was educated locally and then worked as a grocers’ assistant.
My grandfather, Frank Heesom and his brother, Sidney, married two sisters Doris and Lillian. Sadly Uncle Sidney died in 1929 leaving a young daughter, Doris and Aunt Lil heavily pregnant (she had a daughter Sydney). They came to live with my grandparents and grew up with my mother, Emma, and her two brothers, Frank and Harry. In the mid-1930s Aunt Lil remarried to Ike Knight, Cyril’s elder brother, they had a daughter, Valerie. Uncle Ike had lost both legs during the war and, as a young boy, he used to tell me stories of service at the Western Front and on the home front following his injuries. My mother was particularly fond of her Uncle and Aunt and she was the first person from the family to visit Cyril’s grave when I took her there during our first Somme Battlefield Tour.
Cyril volunteered and after training came over to France with a draft in 1916. The Battalion served in the summer offensive during July but by the end of the month they had moved via Albert to Franvillers where a number of drafts of men arrived to bring them back up to strength. General Sir William Pulteney arrived on Tuesday 1st August to inspect the Brigade on the parade ground to the south of Henencourt Wood. That evening a cricket match was organised between the officers of the Battalion and those from the Royal Sussex Regiment. The next morning Brigadier General Arthur Benison Hubback inspected the Battalion and then addressed the parade and in the afternoon a boxing competition was organised with The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. A Divisional Show and Sports Day was held on Friday 4th when Lance Corporal Wilcox won the ¼ mile and led the winning team in the relay race. Major Guy Montague Atkinson arrived on Sunday 6th to take command of the Battalion. Each day Cyril practiced with his comrades for the attack they would take part in.
With intense training at an end Cyril marched from his camp on Sunday 13th and went to Bécourt Wood. After twenty-four hours he went to Mametz where the Battalion was held in Brigade Reserve and held the line west of ‘High Wood’. Cyril spent the night digging and improving the trenches but in the nearly hours of Tuesday 15th twelve of his comrades were killed and many others wounded by shellfire. Late in the day Cyril was relieved to a bivouac in Mametz Wood. During an attack on ‘High Wood’’ by the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, Cyril with his comrades worked hard supporting the attack. The attacking forces suffered heavy losses, one of our regular members of our early tours, veteran ‘Josh’ Grover, MM, took part in the attack and I took him back to ‘High Wood’ for the first time since the attack in 1982. He spoke emotionally at the corner of ‘High Wood’ about his participation, his description of the battlefield was incredible.
Fatigues continued over the ensuing days and casualties mounted. News arrived during the afternoon of 19th that the Northamptonshire Regiment was advancing and the enemy was retreating. Major Atkinson took the Battalion forward to northwest of ‘High Wood’ and went into the line. Early on Sunday 20th the Germans were spotted massing behind the ‘Switch Line’ but the Battalion was able to advance and engaged the enemy. The Germans debouched from ‘High Wood’ in large numbers but were beaten off; two more attacks were also repulsed.  In the desperate fight Cyril was killed, one of twenty-eight and one of the very few to have a known grave.
Cyril is commemorated on Widnes Town War Memorial.

World War Two

Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar (Burma)

Taukkyan War Cemetery is outside Yangon (formerly Rangoon), near the airport and immediately adjoining the village of Taukkyan. It is on PY1 road (formerly Prome Road), about 35 kilometres north of the city from which it is easily accessible.
Taukkyan War Cemetery is the largest of the three war cemeteries in Burma (now Myanmar). It was begun in 1951 for the reception of graves from four battlefield cemeteries at Akyab, Mandalay, Meiktila and Sahmaw which were difficult to access and could not be maintained. The last was an original ‘Chindit’ cemetery containing many of those who died in the battle for Myitkyina. The graves have been grouped together at Taukkyan to preserve the individuality of these battlefield cemeteries Burials were also transferred from civil and cantonment cemeteries, and from a number of isolated jungle and roadside sites. Because of prolonged post-war unrest, considerable delay occurred before the Army Graves Service were able to complete their work, and in the meantime many such graves had disappeared. However, when the task was resumed, several hundred more graves were retrieved from scattered positions throughout the country and brought together here. The cemetery now contains 6,374 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 867 of them unidentified.
In the 1950s, the graves of 52 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War were brought into the cemetery from the following cemeteries where permanent maintenance was not possible:
Henzada (1);
Meiktila Cantonment (8);
Thayetmyo New (5);
Thamakan (4);
Mandalay Military (12)
and Maymyo Cantonment (22).
Taukkyan War Cemetery also contains: The Rangoon Memorial, which bears the names of almost 27,000 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave. The Taukkyan Cremation Memorial commemorating more than 1,000 Second World War casualties whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith. The Taukkyan Memorial which commemorates 45 servicemen of both wars who died and were buried elsewhere in Burma but whose graves could not be maintained.

No of Identified Casualties: 5,559

7907142 Lance Corporal  Walter Heesom
25th Dragoons, Royal Armoured Corps
Died on Monday 7th February 1944, aged 24
Grave reference 3. C. 2.

Warrington Cemetery, Lancashire

During the two world wars, the United Kingdom became an island fortress used for training troops and launching land, sea and air operations around the globe. There are more than one hundred and seventy thousand Commonwealth war graves in the United Kingdom, many being those of servicemen and women killed on active service, or who later succumbed to wounds. Others died in training accidents, or because of sickness or disease. The graves, many of them privately owned and marked by private memorials, will be found in more than twelve thousand cemeteries and churchyards. Warrington was the depot for the South Lancashire Regiment for both wars and was home to the Lord Derby War Hospital and White Cross Auxiliary Hospital during the First World War. During the Second World War, a shore establishment of the Fleet Air Arm was stationed there. Warrington Cemetery contains one hundred and ninety-seven First World War burials, seventy-four of them in a war graves plot with a Cross of Sacrifice. The one hundred and two Second World War burials are scattered. A Polish airman is also buried in the cemetery.

No of Identified Casualties: 300

856601 Corporal John Edward Stanley Heesom
922/3 Balloon, Royal Air Force (Auxiliary Air Force)
Died on Friday 22nd January 1943, aged 37
Grave reference Sec. R. Grave 110.

John was the son of Dennis Cliffe Heesom and Alice Maude Heesom. He was married to May Heesom, of Warrington.

Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy

The Sangro River War Cemetery lies in the Contrada Sentinelle in the Commune of Torino di Sangro, Province of Chieti. Take the autostrada A14 exit at Val di Sangro. At about 2½ kilometres from the exit turn right onto the SS16, Pescara to Vasto road, for nearly 2 kilometres. There is then a sharp right turn up to cemetery.
On 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned for the following year. Progress through southern Italy was rapid despite stiff resistance, but by the end of October, the Allies were facing the German winter defensive position known as the Gustav Line, which stretched from the river Garigliano in the west to the Sangro in the east. By 4 November, the Allied force that had fought its way up the Adriatic coast was preparing to attack the Sangro river positions. A bridgehead had been established by the 24th and by nightfall on the 30th, the whole ridge overlooking the river was in Allied hands. The site of this cemetery was selected by the 5th Corps and into it were brought the graves of men who had died in the fierce fighting on the Adriatic sector of the front in November-December 1943, and during the static period that followed. In addition, the cemetery contains the graves of a number of escaped prisoners of war who died while trying to reach the Allied lines. Sangro River War Cemetery contains 2,617 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. Within the cemetery will be found the Sangro River Cremation Memorial, one of three memorials erected in Italy to officers and men of the Indian forces whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith - the other two cremation memorials are in Forli Indian Army War Cemetery and Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery. The memorial at Sangro River commemorates more than 500 servicemen.

No of Identified Casualties 2,544

329140 Trooper Sidney Heesom
50th Royal Tank Regiment, RAC
Died on Monday 4th November 1943, aged 27
Grave reference XIV. E. 40.

Dely Ibrahim War Cemetery, Algeria

Dely Ibrahim is a village in hilly country about 10 kilometres south-west of Algiers on the road to Blida. The War Cemetery lies on the slope of the hill about 500 metres short of the village of Dely Ibrahim.
Allied troops made a series of landings on the Algerian coast in early November 1942. From there, they swept east into Tunisia, where the North African campaign came to an end in May 1943 with the surrender of the Axis forces. Dely Ibrahim War Cemetery contains 494 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 11 war graves of other nationalities. There are also 25 non-war graves, mostly of merchant seamen whose deaths were not due to war service.

No of Identified Casualties: 522

10563598 Private Henry Ernest Heesom
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Died on Sunday 22nd November 1942, aged 38
Grave reference 3. H. 18.

Henry was the son of Edward and Elize Heesom. He was married to Amanda L Heesom of West Derby, Liverpool.

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