Dennis Bill’s  Family History

Researching the BILL and WISEMAN families in UK, Ireland , Canada and wherever
  Dennis Bill 2018
On this page are memorial biographies of the ten men in my tree who gave their lives in World War 1. The four Chalmers were cousins and the four Bennetts were……well read below.  

The BENNETT brothers

Walter Sam BENNETT

Thomas William BENNETT

Reginald George BENNETT

Bertie Harold BENNETT

Archibald WISEMAN 

William CHALMERS

Henry W R CHALMERS

George Francis CHALMERS

James Edward CHALMERS

Samuel William Audley TRUCKLE

The BENNETT brothers

When I first found my connection to the Bennetts of Tollard Royal in Wiltshire about 15 years ago I visited the village and its church, St Peter ad vincula. Inside the church was a memorial manuscript framed and hanging on the wall. It showed that the village lost  thirteen young men in the conflict and four of those were BENNETTs. There were a lot of BENNETTs in the church registers so this didn’t surprise me. It wasn’t until I began this research project that I realised that the four were brothers. Their parents Thomas and Annie BENNETT had to cope with loosing four of their five sons, between the ages of 19 and 30. It’s an unimaginable tragedy to strike one family from such a rural backwater. Both Thomas and Annie lived to old age so they carried the mental and emotional scars for a long time. The sons’ individual stories are told below. back to top

Private Walter Sam BENNETT, 6

th

 Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment,

A/10457

Walter was born in 1885 the second son of Thomas and Annie Bennett of Tollard Royal. He was the first of their four sons to be killed in the conflict. He had left Tollard Royal before 1911 and was working as a gardener in Kent when he enlisted at Bromley on 20 Oct 1915. The Battalion embarked for France on 26 Apr 1916 to serve with the 6th Division. Just two days after the infamous first day of the Battle of the Somme the 6th Battalion were in action close to Bresle, near Albert, when Walter was one of 375 ‘other ranks’ casualties. He has no grave but is remembered on the Ovillers Military Cemetery near Albert.  The Battalion War Diary records the day: 3 Jul 1916, Waltney Street Trench At 12:15 am received orders for the attack, Battalion left front, Battalion 6th Buffs in support. At 3:15 am assualted the German trenches, A & C Companies in front who had to take the first line, B & D Companies behind to take the second line and took them with very little losses, B & D charged past them but only a few elements of their two Companies reached the second line.  A counter attack by the Germans drove back the remnants of the Battalion as the supporting Battalion who had lost direction gave no assistance.  Casualties: 3 Captains killed, 11 subalterns wounded, 5 subalterns missing. Other Ranks: killed, wounded and missing - 375 - Strength of Battalion going in to action 617. French Heavily shelled.  Relieved by 7th East Surrey Regt and marched to Bozincourt Reserve Trenches to rest and reorganise. His parents weren’t the only people left grieving as he left behind Ethel Flora his wife of 10 weeks. back to top

Private Thomas William BENNETT, 2

nd

 Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 29510

Thomas, the fourth son of Thomas and Annie Bennett, was born in 1894 in Berwick St John where his father was working at the time. There is no surviving service record so although Soldiers Who Died in the Great War tells us that he enlisted in Southampton we don’t know when. His service number (29510) suggests that he enlisted in late September or early October 1915 (29602 enlisted on 4 Oct 1915). This would mean that he was posted to France sometime after the 2nd Battalion landed at Marseille from Gallipolli in March 1916 and moved to the Western Front.  It was here at the Battle of Albert that Thomas was killed on 10 Sep 1916. The Battalion War Diary records that on 10 Sep 1916 they were in trenches near Ypres and - “Casualties; Other Ranks, 1 killed, 3 sick to Hospital”.  No action was reported on that day nor for the previous day but on the 8th September is this entry: On the night of 8/9th the Battalion moved up to the front line trenches E of YPRES taking over the same portion of the line as had previously been held during August from the 1st Essex Regiment.  The frontage was about 800 yards extending from T II b 7.8 to I 5 B 1 3 (trench references).  The dispositions for holding the line were as follows: two Companies Y and W were in the firing line.  X being in support in I 4 d, and Z in Battalion Reserve in the POTIJZE defences at I 4 c 2 8.  Battalion Hd Qtrs being at I 4a 4½ 4½.  The work in progress at this time consisted of the improvement of the defences and the provision of better communication, principally lateral.  To the right work was done on the support line XI and XR and the extension of Haymarket towards Battalion Hd Qtrs.  Casualties: 4 sick to hospital. The following day (9 Sep) it was recorded that Lieut EFW Hayward was slightly wounded but still at duty and 4 Other Ranks were sick and sent to hospital. From these reports it would appear that the Regiment was not in action but that Thomas’ death on the 10th was probably due to a sniper whilst working on trench maintenance as described in the Diary.  He was buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in West-Vlaandered, Belgium, just west of Ypres. back to top

Lance Corporal Reginald George Bennett, 134

th

 Company, Machine Gun Corps, 33138,

Reginald, born 1897, was the youngest son of Thomas and Annie Bennett of Tollard Royal and Berwick St John.  His service record has not survived so we don’t know when he enlisted but we do know that he first enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment as soldier No 1792 but at some point he transferred to the 134th Company, Machine  Gun Corps (MGC) The 134th Company MGC were part of the 19th Infantry Brigade which in turn was part of the 7th (Meerut) Division of the Indian Army. In 1915 the 7th Division were removed from the Western Front to reinforce the Army in Mesopotamia (Iraq). They were eventually absorbed into the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force (MEF) in 1917. The Ottoman Army had been gradually driven back towards Baghdad between 1915 and early 1917 and the day Reginald is recorded as being killed (22 Feb 1917) the MEF were less than three weeks from the capture of Baghdad and 15 000 Ottoman soldiers.  He is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq, plot XVII.H.13 From the Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 (National Army Museum) we know that his Mother Annie was paid £8 13s 1d (£8.66) on 27 May 1918 and a further £5 10s (£5.50) on 27 Oct 1919. back to top

Private Bertie Harold BENNETT, 14

th

 Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 32568

Bertie Harold Bennett was born in 1884, the eldest son of Thomas and Annie Bennet of Tollard Royal, Wilts.  His service record has not survived so we have no idea when he enlisted. The 14th (Service) Battalion was formed at Portsmouth on 3 Sep 1914 and was adopted by the War Office on 30 May 1915. They landed at Le Havre on 6 Mar 1916.  On the day that Bertie went missing they launched an attack on the German trenches hear Hollebeke, on the south side of the Ypres Salient.  The War Diary records: 26 Sep 1917 – Shrewsbury Forest Battn attacked at 5:30am. 1 st  objective being Tower Hamlets and 2 nd  objective Tower Trench. Heavy casualties through MG fire. Objectives were reached and held and consolidation carried out on own side of Tower Trench.  Casualties, Maj Goldsmith died of wounds, killed Capt T R Nicholls, Lieut Bainbridge, 2 nd  Lieut B G Wilson, wounded 2 nd  Lieut H P Sangster, 2 nd  Lieut R N Butt, 2 nd  Lieut Barras, 2 nd  Lieut Thomas. Other ranks; 41 killed, 113 wounded, 30 missing. Heavy shelling and sniping gunnery all day. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial and on the Memorial in the church of St Peter ad vincula in Tollard Royal. He left behind his wife of six years, Mabel Mary. back to top

Corporal Archibald WISEMAN, 1

st

 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders & The Highland Battalion,

3/7144

He was born in 1888, the third son of Charles Thomas and Eliza (nee Rivers) Wiseman of Bisterne, near Ringwood, Hampshire.  Charles worked on the Bisterne Manor estate as a gardener. By 1911 Archibald had made a giant leap into London society, albeit in a humble position. He was living in the fashionable Wilton Crescent in Belgravia as Footman (Domestic) to Lady Caroline Gordon Lennox, the unmarried daughter of the Duke of Richmond. There were another ten servants in the house plus a valet for a visiting nephew, Major Lord Esme Gordon Lennox of the Scots Guards. Quite how Archibald came to this position is unknown as is why he went to Kingston on Thames to enlist in the 1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. His service record has not survived but his medal card shows that he joined the 1st Battalion on the Western Front on 15 May 1915. In 1916 the Battalion moved to Mesopotamia (Iraq) and with 2nd Battalion Black Watch became The Highland Battalion. They were immediately involved in an action that became known as the First Battle of Kut. Its aim was to relieve the 8000 strong British and Indian Garrison at Kut al Amara, which had been besieged since 7 Dec 1915. On 28 Apr 1916, just over three weeks after Archibald’s death, the Garrison surrendered to the Ottomans, an outcome that historians have called “The worst defeat for the Allies in World War 1”.  The War Diaries of the Highland Division give some sense of the initial action: 5 Apr 1916 At 11pm the Commanding Officer received orders for a night march by 28 th  and 19 th  Brigades at 1-30am on 6 th  with a view to assaulting SANNAIYAT position at dawn. 6 Apr 1916 Marched at 1-30am in Mass of Platoons with left on Turkish communication trench FALAHIYIEH – SANNAIYAT, in following order; Highland Battn on left, directing, 28 th  Punjabis, then 28 th  Brigade. In rear, on left, 125 th  Rifles, 92 nd   Punjabis, then 28 th  Brigade. Progress very slow over unknown ground much impeded by 13 th  Division wandering in small parties across front and through column. Reached FALAHIYIETH trenches about 2-30am. These proved great obstacle as nobody had ever seen them. A Patrol was sent out under 2 nd  Lieut N T Macleod which did good work, getting in touch with hostile patrol and keeping touch till dawn. At 4-40am we had progressed 4500 yards the total distance being 6900 yards by one map and 5000 yds by another. A surprise at dawn was out of the question but the column, under Major Gen Kemball, continued its course and formation. At 5-10am, when practically broad daylight, the order was received to assume daylight formation on the march, but the 25 th  Brigade continued to advance in a dense mass without machine gun or artillery support, against an entrenched position which had never been located. Brief orders were issued by the Commanding Officer to Coy Commanders; 1 Platoon per Coy in Firing Line and 1 in support, remainder in Reserve 300 yards back, rear formations to halt till front had shaken out and got their distance. Even this formation was thought too slow and orders were received from OC Column to push on and get in line with 28thBrigade now 300 yards in front. The Firing Line platoons were just abreast of 28 th  Brigade when the storm burst. Heavy rifle and Machine gun fire from front, shells (our own) from right bank of river into rear of column. The attack was stopped dead, the 28 th  Brigade losing practically the whole of the leading two Regiments. In a few moments the leading platoons of the Battn were covering practically the whole front, assisted by the 2 nd  Leicestershire Regt on the marsh bank.  Nothing remained but to dig in. Three lines were dug and held throughout the day the Battalion was withdrawn at dusk. A most disappointing action in which many valuable lives were lost to no purpose. (my enbolding) The NCOs and men under the Platoon Commanders in the Front and Second line did splendid work, both under the sudden emergency of blundering into an unseen foe and afterwards in consolidating and holding the front.  Throughout the day the enemy kept up a heavy fire and used Artillery with effect. Casualties: BO ORB 2 nd  Black Watch 1 st  Seaforth Hrs Killed 1 24 6 1 18 Wounded 10 159 1 57 9 102 Missing 3 1 2 Sick 1 1 Total 11 187 1 65 10 122 Archibald is remembered on the Basra Memorial, he was 28 years old. The Basra Memorial was originally on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, north of Basra but the Memorial has been moved to a site on the road to Nasiriyah in the middle of what was a major battleground in the first Gulf War. He is also remembered on the Ringwood War Memorial. He was entitled to the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. back to top

Private William Chalmers, 2

nd

 Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 3/4118

William was born in 1899, the eldest child of William H T and Elizabeth Chalmers of 37, Tipnor Street, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. His service record has not survived so we don’t know exactly when he enlisted but his family’s entry in the National Roll of the Great War states that “he joined-up in August 1914”. The 2nd Battalion returned to UK from India in December 1914 and embarked for Gallipoli on 29 March 1915 arriving at Cape Helles, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, having travelled via Egypt. At 3:00am on 17 July the Regiment embarked ship for Port Mundros, Lemnos, then on 28 July embarked ship again for Gully Beach. They spent a few ‘quiet’ days preparing for an attack on 6 August, the day that William was reported killed. This attack was intended to be a diversion from the main landings at Suvla Beach about 30 Km to the north. The War Diary records: 6 August, Gully Beach Marched up mule track and took over trenches from Royal Fusiliers, heavy gun fire up to 1pm.  Bombardment from 2:15pm until 3:50pm. Attack launched, first line advanced at proper time, attack did get home, majority of first line killed or wounded. Capt B S Parker led attack of second line, killed soon after leaving trenches, attack failed. Failure of attack attributed to the number of machine guns in front and flanks of position, these guns had not been knocked out in the bombardment and as soon as the attack was launched opened very heavy fire. Strength of Battalion on going into action; Officers 27, Other Ranks 846. Casualties Officers 22, Other Ranks 439 including 34 killed and 228 missing. William was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and General Service and Victory medals and he is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey and on the Guildhall Cenotaph in Portsmouth. back to top

Private Henry William Robert CHALMERS, 14

th

 Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 12593

Henry was born on 12 May 1897 the eldest son of Henry and Isabella Chalmers of 2, Rudmore Place, Portsmouth. His service record has not survived and, like James E Chalmers, his Medal Index Card does not record his entry into a theatre of war or his death in action. The 14th (Service) Battalion was formed at Portsmouth on 3 Sep 1914 and was adopted by the War Office on 30 May 1915. Presumably Henry enlisted before the Battalion moved from Portsmouth in Oct 1915. They landed at Le Havre on 6 Mar 1916 and Henry was killed in action on 30 Jun 1916. The 14 th  Hampshires were part of the 116 th  Brigade (along with the Royal Sussex Regt) and on this day were involved in what became known as the Battle of the Boar’s Head. The Boar’s Head was a salient held by the German Army near Richbourg L’Avoue in Northern France (close to Neuve Chappelle, between Bethune and Lille).  The British attack was one of over 300 raids undertaken as support for the Fourth Army which was just about to trigger the Battle of the Somme (1 Jul 1916).  The intention was to prevent the Germans from moving reinforcements south to the Somme and to provide ‘battle hardening’ experience for the novice regiments. The 14 th  Btn War Diary records the action: At Ferme du Bois, Right; 30 Jun 1916 At 2:30am our artillery commenced an intense bombardment of the enemy front line trenches on the Boer’s Head to 3:15am and then lifted on the enemy support trenches and the attacking units 12 th  & 13 th  Royal Sussex Regiments went over in waves, including Signalling and RE. The 11 th  Royal Sussex Rgt were finding carrying parties, strong Blaching (?) Parties. The 14 th  Btn Hampshire Regt were in support. Our A Coy moved up to the line and took over the right Coy front at 12 midnight the right of 29 th  & 30 th . Our B Coy moved up to Guards Trench Right and Bute Street. Our C Coy were in reserve at Richbourg St Vaast and took over the Centre Coy front after the attack. Our D coy were in support by Windy Corner in front of Btn HQ in Edwards Road and they took over the left Coy front when ordered to by the Commanding Officer. The attacking units reached the enemy support trench & signalling was connected up from the enemy front line to our own front line. The enemy retaliation with artillery was so terrific that our attacking units were forced to withdraw under heavy fire back to our own front line, which was breached in many places from the enemy fire. Our Btn casualties were two officers wounded, Lt E M Allen &2 nd  Lt H P Sangster. Other ranks 40 wounded and 5 killed, 3 missing. Unusually the names of the 5 Other Ranks killed were entered in the right margin of the diary page, including “12593 Pte Chalmers H In all there were nearly 1000 casualties that day with the three Royal Sussex Regiments involved suffering the loss of 17 officers and 349 men in just five hours. About 100 men had been taken prisoner. The attack has been described by historians as a ‘fiasco’ and a ‘disastrous exercise’. Henry is buried in the St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’avoue and is remembered in the Rudmore Parishioners’ memorial now in St Agatha’s Church and on the Portsmouth Guildhall Cenotaph, along with his 2nd cousin James Edward Chalmers. back to top

Private George Francis CHALMERS, 15

th

 Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, 20994

Born about 1877 he was the second son of James and Eliza Chalmers of Stamshaw, Portsmouth. He was working as a skilled labourer in the Gas Works in 1911 but no record exists of his enlistment. His high service number (20994) might suggest that he did not enlist early in the War, he might have been in a reserved occupation in the Gas Works but he does not appear in the surviving Portsmouth Military Tribunals who would have granted such an exemption. The 15th Battalion were formed at Portsmouth on 5 Apr 1915 and entered France in early May 1916. On the day he is recorded as being killed, 7 Oct 1916, the 15th Btn were on the Somme near Mametz (near Albert). They were to be part of the Reserve Army’s action known as the Battle of Ancre Heights (1 Oct-11 Nov 1916). The War Diary records trench fighting, mostly with bombs (hand thrown) at close range. After the morning fighting it records: On the afternoon of the 7 th  when our attack in front of Gird trench was held up by heavy machine gun fire the enemy attempted to counter attack by bombing down that portion of Gird trench which ran into our front line. Owing to the heavy casualties we had suffered the enemy drove us step by step down Gird trench towards our original front line and it looked almost as if they would eventually penetrate into our trench. George is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial along with over 72 000 other men with no known grave. back to top

Private James Edward CHALMERS, 7

th

 Battalion Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry), 

38681

James Edward Chalmers was born in 1899 in Rudmore, Portsmouth, the eldest son of James Edward and Rosina Chalmers.  When conscription was introduced in 1916 he was working as a Bargeman for his first cousin, once removed, John James Chalmers-Stevens, who operated out of Rudmore Wharf collecting gravel & ballast from the Solent with a small fleet of barges, mostly operated by members of the wider Chalmers family. Following the introduction of conscription in Jan 1916 it was possible to obtain an exemption on the grounds of performing civilian work of national importance.  On 30 Jun 1916 a local Military Tribunal initially accepted that he was a “certified mate of barge” and granted a conditional certificate exempting him from conscription on the condition that he enrol with the Volunteer Training Corps (home defence militia). Many of these early exemptions were later rescinded and he must have enlisted with the Somerset Light Infantry some time in the late summer of 1916, his service record has not survived. For some reason his Medal Roll Index Card does not record that he entered a theatre of war nor his death in action. He is, however, listed in Soldiers That Died in the Great War and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site where he is recorded as having died on 21 Jan 1918. It also states that he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, indicating that his body was not found or identified. James Edward must have moved to France in late summer 1916. Towards the end of 1917 the 7 th  Battalion, as part of the 21 st  Division, were involved in the Battle of Cambrai. According to the Btn War Diary on the date of his death (21 Jan 1918) they were at Canada Tunnels “in support” and the following day moved to Chippewa Camp “in Reserve”. This makes it difficult to believe that he died on 21 Jan as no action or casualties were recorded on that day. In the eight days prior to his death the Btn had spent two short periods in the front line, between 14-16 Jan and 18-19 Jan but on neither occasion were any casualties recorded in the Diary. Prior to that, on 28 Nov 1917, the Battalion had moved to the front line to replace the 7 th  Btn King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.  The opening action at Cambrai on 30 Nov 1917 was described thus in the War Diary: At 7am on 30 Nov: Enemy put a heavy TH barrage on the old outpost line. Between 7 and 7:30 enemy attacked in strength and apparently broke through line on right. Btn HQ immediately stood to and lines high ground near Btn HQ. Many hostile aeroplanes were now overhead flying at about 50-100 feet high firing at Infantry. Number of aeroplanes estimated at about 45. Enemy now found to be attacking Btn in rear and Btn on right retiring at same time. Enemy seen to be advancing in mass from high ground between MASNIERIES and CREVECOEUR and many waves advanced on outpost line from western side of canal bank.  Lewes Guns were immediately brought into action and fired until all magazines empty. Enemy continued advance from front and right flank and front Coys withdraw A & B – being supported by support Coys & Btn HQ A general withdrawal was then made to the Brown line, platoons mutually supporting each other, where the enemy were held. Casualties –Officers; 12 wounded or missing: Other Ranks, 2 killed, 158 wounded and 172 missing. If James was one of the missing in this action why was his death not recorded until 21 Jan over seven weeks later, unless there is some Army procedure that records the missing as dead after a certain period has elapsed. He was entitled to General Service and Victory medals. He is remembered on a memorial plaque to Residents of Rudmore (see above). He is also remembered on the Portsmouth Guildhall Cenotaph, along with his 2nd cousin Henry Chalmers. back to top

Lance Corporal Samuel William TRUCKLE, 14th (Labour) Battalion Devonshire Regiment,

37570 and Labour Corps, 263187

Samuel was born at Basingstoke, Hants in 1888 to Frederick William and Adelaide Truckle (nee Gunn). At some  point in the 1890s the family moved to Portsmouth and by 1911 when in his early 20s he was the Advertising Manager at the new Hippodrome Music Hall in Portsmouth. His service record has not survived but his  regimental number for the Devonshires suggests that he enlisted in late 1915-early 1916 but the family’s entry in the National Roll of the Great war says he joined in August 1916. It goes on to describe his service on the Western Front from October 1916 including service at the Somme, Messines, Ypres and Passchendaele. He suffered from severe shell-shock and was hospitalised back to England to receive treatment but died on 10 October 1918 at the age of 30. The 14 th  (Labour) Battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps as the 154 th  and 155 th  Labour Companies in April 1917 but we don’t know how long he served in the Labour Corps until his repatriation.   In 1920 his married sisters received his outstanding effects; Lizzie H A Wiseman receiving £8 4s 10d (£8.24) and Ethel May Harvey £2 14s 10d (£2.74). Interestingly in this document and in the medal roll for the Labour Corps he is listed as “Private, Labour Corps” so he may have been demoted due to his shell-shock even before he was hospitalised. He is buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth, under a Commonwealth War Graves headstone. back to top

World War 1 Memorial Page

Dennis Bill’s  Family History
Researching the BILL and WISEMAN families in UK, Ireland , Canada and wherever
  Dennis Bill 2018

World War 1 Memorial Page

On this page are memorial biographies of the ten  men in my tree who gave their lives in World War 1. The four Chalmers were cousins and the four Bennetts were……well read below.  

The BENNETT brothers

Walter Sam BENNETT

Thomas William BENNETT

Reginald George BENNETT

Bertie Harold BENNETT

Archibald WISEMAN 

William CHALMERS

Henry W R CHALMERS

George Francis CHALMERS

James Edward CHALMERS

Samuel William Audley TRUCKLE

The BENNETT brothers

When I first found my connection to the Bennetts of Tollard Royal in Wiltshire about 15 years ago I visited the village and its church, St Peter ad vincula. Inside the church was a memorial manuscript framed and hanging on the wall. It showed that the village lost  thirteen young men in the conflict and four of those were BENNETTs. There were a lot of BENNETTs in the church registers so this didn’t surprise me. It wasn’t until I began this research project that I realised that the four were brothers. Their parents Thomas and Annie BENNETT had to cope with loosing four of their five sons, between the ages of 19 and 30. It’s an unimaginable tragedy to strike one family from such a rural backwater. Both Thomas and Annie lived to old age so they carried the mental and emotional scars for a long time. The sons’ individual stories are told below. back to top

Private Walter Sam BENNETT, 6

th

 Battalion, Queen’s

Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment, A/10457

Walter was born in 1885 the second son of Thomas and Annie Bennett of Tollard Royal. He was the first of their four sons to be killed in the conflict. He had left Tollard Royal before 1911 and was working as a gardener in Kent when he enlisted at Bromley on 20 Oct 1915. The Battalion embarked for France on 26  Apr 1916 to serve with the 6th Division. Just two days after the infamous first day of the Battle of the Somme the 6th Battalion were in action close to Bresle, near Albert, when Walter was one of 375 ‘other ranks’ casualties. He has no grave but is remembered on the Ovillers Military Cemetery near Albert.  His parents weren’t the only people left grieving as he left behind Ethel Flora his wife of 10 weeks. back to top

Private Thomas William BENNETT, 2

nd

 Battalion

Hampshire Regiment, 29510

Thomas, the fourth son of Thomas and Annie Bennett, was born in 1894 in Berwick St John where his father was working at the time. There is no surviving service record so although Soldiers Who Died in the Great War tells us that he enlisted in Southampton we don’t know when. His service number (29510) suggests that he enlisted in late September or early October 1915 (29602 enlisted on 4 Oct 1915). This would mean that he was posted to France sometime after the 2nd Battalion landed at Marseille from Gallipolli in March 1916 and moved to the Western Front.  It was here at the Battle of Albert that Thomas was killed on 10 Sep 1916. From the War Diary reports it seems likely that Thomas’ death on the 10th was probably due to a sniper whilst working on trench manitenance as described in the Diary.  He was buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in West- Vlaandered, Belgium, just west of Ypres. back to top

Lance Corporal Reginald George Bennett, 134

th

 

Company, Machine Gun Corps, 33138,

Reginald, born 1897, was the youngest son of Thomas and Annie Bennett of Tollard Royal and Berwick St John.  His service record has not survived so we don’t know when he enlisted but we do know that he first enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment as soldier No 1792 but at some point he transferred to the 134th Company, Machine Gun Corps (MGC) The 134th Company MGC were part of the 19th Infantry Brigade which in turn was part of the 7th (Meerut) Division of the Indian Army. In 1915 the 7th Division were removed from the Western Front to reinforce the Army in Mesopotamia (Iraq). They were eventually absorbed into the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force (MEF) in 1917. The Ottoman Army had been gradually driven back towards Baghdad between 1915 and early 1917 and the day Reginald is recorded as being killed (22 Feb 1917) the MEF were less than three weeks from the capture of Baghdad and 15 000 Ottoman soldiers.  He is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq, plot XVII.H.13 back to top

Private Bertie Harold BENNETT, 14

th

 Battalion

Hampshire Regiment, 32568

Bertie Harold Bennet was born in 1884, the eldest  son of Thomas and Annie Bennet of Tollard Royal, Wilts.  His service record has not survived so we have no idea when he enlisted. The 14th (Service) Battalion was formed at Portsmouth on 3 Sep 1914 and was adopted by the War Office on 30 May 1915. They landed at Le Havre on 6 Mar 1916.  On the day that Bertie went missing they launched an attack on the German trenches hear Hollebeke, on the south side of the Ypres Salient. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial and on the Memorial in the church of St Peter ad vincula in Tollard Royal. He left behind his wife of six years, Mabel Mary. back to top

Corporal Archibald WISEMAN, 1

st

 Battalion Seaforth

Highlanders & The Highland Battalion, 3/7144

He was born in 1888, the third son of Charles Thomas and Eliza (nee Rivers) Wiseman of Bisterne, near Ringwood, Hampshire.  Charles worked on the Bisterne Manor estate as a gardener. By 1911 Archibald had made a giant leap into London society, albeit in a humble position. He was living in the fashionable Wilton Crescent in Belgravia as Footman (Domestic) to Lady Caroline Gordon Lennox, the unmarried daughter of the Duke of Richmond. There were another ten servants in the house plus a valet for a visiting nephew, Major Lord Esme Gordon Lennox of the Scots Guards. Quite how Archibald came to this position is unknown as is why he went to Kingston on Thames to enlist in the 1st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. His service record has not survived but his medal card shows that he joined the 1st Battalion on the Western Front on 15 May 1915. In 1916 the Battalion moved to Mesopotamia (Iraq) and with 2nd Battalion Black Watch became The Highland Battalion. They were immediately involved in an action that became known as the First Battle of Kut. Its aim was to relieve the 8000 strong British and Indian Garrison at Kut al Amara, which had been besieged since 7 Dec 1915. On 28 Apr 1916, just over three weeks after Archibald’s death, the Garrison surrendered to the Ottomans, an outcome that historians have called “The worst defeat  for the Allies in World War 1”.  Archibald is remembered on the Basra Memorial, he was 28 years old. The Basra Memorial was originally on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, north of Basra but the Memorial has been moved to a site on the road to Nasiriyah in the middle of what was a major battleground in the first Gulf War. He is also remembered on the Ringwood War Memorial. He was entitled to the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. back to top

Private William Chalmers, 2

nd

 Battalion Hampshire

Regiment, 3/4118

William was born in 1899, the eldest child of William  H T and Elizabeth Chalmers of 37, Tipnor Street, Stamshaw, Portsmouth. His service record has not survived so we don’t know exactly when he enlisted but his family’s entry in the National Roll of the Great War states that “he joined-up in August 1914”. The 2nd Battalion returned to UK from India in December 1914 and embarked for Gallipoli on 29 March 1915 arriving at Cape Helles, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, having travelled via Egypt. At 3:00am on 17 July the Regiment embarked ship for Port Mundros, Lemnos, then on 28 July embarked ship again for Gully Beach. They spent a few ‘quiet’ days preparing for an attack on 6 August, the day that William was reported killed. This attack was intended to be a diversion from the main landings at Suvla Beach about 30 Km to the north. William was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and General Service and Victory medals and he is remembered on the Helles Memorial in Turkey and on the Guildhall Cenotaph in Portsmouth. back to top

Private Henry William Robert CHALMERS, 14

th

 

Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 12593

Henry was born on 12 May 1897 the eldest son of Henry and Isabella Chalmers of 2, Rudmore Place, Portsmouth. His service record has not survived and, like James E Chalmers, his Medal Index Card does not record his entry into a theatre of war or his death in action. The 14th (Service) Battalion was formed at Portsmouth on 3 Sep 1914 and was adopted by the War Office on 30 May 1915. Presumably Henry enlisted before the Battalion moved from Portsmouth in Oct 1915. They landed at Le Havre on 6 Mar 1916 and Henry was killed in action on 30 Jun 1916. Henry is buried in the St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L’avoue and is remembered in the Rudmore Parishioners’ memorial now in St Agatha’s Church and on the Portsmouth Guildhall Cenotaph, along with his 2nd cousin James Edward Chalmers. back to top

Private George Francis CHALMERS, 15

th

 Battalion,

Hampshire Regiment, 20994

Born about 1877 he was the second son of James and Eliza Chalmers of Stamshaw, Portsmouth. He was working as a skilled labourer in the Gas Works in 1911 but no record exists of his enlistment. His high service number (20994) might suggest that he did not enlist early in the War, he might have been in a reserved occupation in the Gas Works but he does not appear in the surviving Portsmouth Military Tribunals who would have granted such an exemption. The 15th Battalion were formed at Portsmouth on 5 Apr 1915 and entered France in early May 1916. On the day he is recorded as being killed, 7 Oct 1916, the 15th Btn were on the Somme near Mametz (near Albert). They were to be part of the Reserve Army’s action known as the Battle of Ancre Heights (1 Oct-11 Nov 1916). The War Diary records trench fighting, mostly with bombs (hand thrown) at close range. George is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial along with over 72 000 other men with no known grave. back to top

Private James Edward CHALMERS, 7

th

 Battalion

Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry), 38681

James Edward Chalmers was born in 1899 in Rudmore, Portsmouth, the eldest son of James Edward and Rosina Chalmers.  When conscription was introduced in 1916 he was working as a Bargeman for his first cousin, once removed, John James Chalmers-Stevens, who operated out of Rudmore Wharf collecting gravel & ballast from the Solent with a small fleet of barges, mostly operated by members of the wider Chalmers family. Following the introduction of conscription in Jan 1916 it was possible to obtain an exemption on the grounds of performing civilian work of national importance.  On 30 Jun 1916 a local Military Tribunal initially accepted that he was a “certified mate of barge” and granted a conditional certificate exempting him from conscription on the condition that he enrol with the Volunteer Training Corps (home defence militia). Many of these early exemptions were later rescinded and he must have enlisted with the Somerset Light Infantry some time in the late summer of 1916, his service record has not survived. For some reason his Medal Roll Index Card does not record that he entered a theatre of war nor his death in action. He is, however, listed in Soldiers That Died in the Great War and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site where he is recorded as having died on 21 Jan 1918. It also states that he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, indicating that his body was not found or identified. He was entitled to General Service and Victory medals. He is remembered on a memorial plaque to Residents of Rudmore that was originally in St John’s Church, Rudmore but was moved to St Agatha’s Church when St John’s was converted to housing . He is also remembered on the Portsmouth Guildhall Cenotaph, along with his 2nd cousin Henry Chalmers. back to top

Lance Corporal Samuel William TRUCKLE, 14th

(Labour) Battalion Devonshire Regiment, 37570 and

Labour Corps, 263187

Samuel was born at Basingstoke, Hants in 1888 to Frederick William and Adelaide Truckle (nee Gunn). At some point in the 1890s the family moved to Portsmouth and by 1911 when in his early 20s he was the Advertising Manager at the new Hippodrome Music Hall in Portsmouth. His service record has not survived but his regimental number for the Devonshires suggests that he enlisted in late 1915- early 1916 but the family’s entry in the National Roll of the Great war says he joined in August 1916. It goes on to describe his service on the Western Front from October 1916 including service at the  Somme, Messines, Ypres and Passchendaele. He suffered from severe shell-shock and was hospitalised back to England to receive treatment but died on 10 October 1918 at the age of 30. He is buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth, under a Commonwealth War Graves headstone. back to top