Page Editor: Norman Jackson
Page Last Reviewed: 26 Feb 2021
Roll of Honour (Dargue - Grenfell)
Private Joseph DARGUE (64791)
4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers
Born: Abt Nov 1873, Crook, County Durham
Died: Abt Aug 1954, Don Valley (RD), W R Yorkshire (Age 81)
Joseph Dargue was born in Crook, County Durham, where his father Thomas Dargue was working as a miner. His mother Jane (nee Nicholson) was born in Patterdale in 1839 and had quite an eventful life. At the age of 25 she married William Armstrong on 15th July 1865 at St Patrick's Church - they had two children before William died, aged just 30, on the 7th April 1867. Jane then married Thomas Dargue, a miner at Greenside, around February 1870 and gave birth to a daughter Sarah in the summer of that year. By 1871 the family had moved to Crawford in Lanarkshire in Scotland where Thomas was again working as a miner but soon moved to Crook in Durham, where Joseph was born in 1873 and his brother John Thomas in 1877. Tragedy struck again when Thomas died in early 1879. By 1881 Jane was living as a Widow in Durham with her daughter Sarah, and sons Joseph and John Thomas. At some point, Jane moved the family back to Patterdale where she married for a third time. She married William Barron at St Patrick's Church on the 1st October 1887 (he was a widower with his own son, George W, who was the same age as Joseph). In April 1891 they were living in the Rake Cottages, in Glenridding and Joseph (now 17), his Step brother George and 14 year old brother John Thomas were all working at Greenside. By 1901 Joseph had moved back to the north east where he worked as a Coalminer in Stanley, County Durham. Around August 1901, Joseph married Mary Jane Walker. They continued to live in Stanley and had had four children (John Thomas, Kate Walker, Joseph Walker and William) by the time of the 1911 census.
Already 41 years of age, Joseph enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers on the 27th September 1915 and served with the 4th Battalion, who saw much action in Belgium (Ypres, Passchendaele) and France (Somme, Aisne). The records show that he was wounded but do not tell us when or where, however, the injury may well have saved his life because the 4th Battalion was decimated during the final German Spring Offensive in 1918 with the majority of men killed or captured when their positions were overrun. The nature of his wounds meant that he was transferred into the Royal Defence Corps (RDC), which was made up of soldiers either too old or medically unfit for active front-line service. They were deployed on security and guard duties at home, guarding everything from ports to prisoner of war camps. Joseph was finally discharged from the army, at the age of 45 years, on the 19th March 1919 and was awarded the Silver War Badge (under Paragraph 392 xvi of The Kings Regulations - which meant he was 'no longer physically fit for war service').
In later life, Joseph and Mary Jane moved to the Don Valley area in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where Joseph died around Aug 1954, aged 81, and Mary Jane the following year around May 1955, aged 76.
Private Frederick J DEWIS (32822)
Born: Abt Jul 1888, Glenridding, Westmorland
Died: 2 Dec 1936, Glenridding, Westmorland (Age 49)
Frederick James Dewis was the illegitimate son of 16 years old Mary Jane Dewis, so we do not know who his father was. Frederick was baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 5th August 1888. At the time of the 1891 Census, Fred, as he was generally known, was living with his mother and grandparents at the Rake Cottages in Glenridding (his grandfather was a miner at Greenside). On the 15th Feb 1893, his mother married David Brown, a miner who lived at the Rakes. However, it looks as though young Frederick may have stayed with his grandparents after the marriage, as by 1901 he was living at The Square in Glenridding with his widowed grand-mother Margaret. He would have attended Patterdale School, alongside contemporaries such as Jack Bell, Ernest Lake, and Glenthorne Pattinson, but would probably have left by the time his four half-sisters and half-brother Frank Brown joined the school.
On the 30th November 1908 Fred, now a miner at Greenside, married Mary Kyles at St Patrick's Church in Patterdale. Mary was working at the Ullswater Hotel. They set up home at 3 Halton Terrace and by the time war broke out had had 3 children; twins Percy James and Nora (in 1909), Thomas William (in 1911) and Margaret (in 1914). Sadly Nora died aged just 11 months in 1910. Fred was a keen member of the local 'Ullswater Rovers' football team and is featured on the April 1914 team photo (from which his picture above is taken) of the triumphant Ullswater Rovers after their 3:2 win against Appleby in the Penrith and District Cup.
Unfortunately, Fred's service records cannot be found. However, from his service number it is likely that he enlisted in the Border Regiment between January 1916 and April 1917 but, as a married man, he would have been held on the reserve list. He was certainly at home at some point in mid 1917, as Mary gave birth to another son, Frederick Joseph, in April 1918 and Fred is recorded as a soldier in the baptism register. We know from his Medal Card that he served in India, so after mobilisation he would have joined the 2nd/4th Battalion, the only one that went to India. This was the same battalion that his half-brother Frank Brown and two other local lads Jack Watson and Jack Bell were serving in. The Medal Card shows that Fred was awarded the British War Medal and the North West Frontier Service clasp to his India General Service medal. This means that he took part in the Third Anglo-Afghan War which began on the 6th May 1919 and ended with an armistice on the 8th August 1919. Fred did not receive the Victory Medal, which means that he did not enter a theatre of war before the 11th November 1918, so it is quite possible that Fred did not arrive in India until after his half-brother Frank Brown had died of influenza on 30th October 1918, aged just 22.
After the war Fred returned to the Greenside Mine. He and Mary had two more children; Frederick Joseph in February 1919 and Frank in January 1921, almost certainly named after his step-uncle who had died in the war.
Fred died on the 2nd of December 1936 and was buried in St Patrick's Churchyard on the 6th December 1936, aged just 49. His wife Mary died on the 17th Mar 1961, aged 79, whilst living at Harefield in Kirkby Thore, Cumbria and was buried in Patterdale alongside her husband. Fred's mother Mary Jane died in October 1934 aged 65.
Percy James Dewis became a Blacksmith at Greenside Mine. He married Louisa Holdway but had no children. Percy remained in Glenridding, at 4 Low Glenridding, until his death in 1968. Louisa's uncle Abraham Holdway and then her cousin Neville Holdway at one point owned the Glenridding Hotel.
Thomas William Dewis married Rose Margaret Gray on the 14th August 1937 in Harrow, Middlesex. They had three daughters born between 1939 and 1942. Having demobbed from the Army, they made their home in Harrow. Tom worked as a postman and progressed to sorting registered mail. He worked at this position all of his working life until retirement. Tom died on the 15th October 1987 in Stevenage and Rose died on the 9th August 2003 in Stevenage.
Margaret Dewis married Albert Riley, a Blacksmith both for the village of Kirkby Thore and the local Thomas McGhie (British Gypsum) works. They had two daughters one born in 1941 and the other in 1943. Albert died in 1951. Margaret died at the home of her eldest daughter on Christmas Day 1977. Margaret worked as the Manageress of the Canteen at the local Thomas McGhie's factory (British Gypsum).
Frederick Joseph Dewis married Ruth Willan Todd on 2nd February 1946. They settled at Kirkby Thore, Westmorland where he worked as a Miner for Thomas McGhie (now British Gypsum), they had 2 sons born 1946 and 1948. Frederick Joseph Dewis died in the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle 1st July 1974 and Ruth died in Penrith Hospital on the 21st February 2003 and is buried alongside her husband at St. Michaels, Kirkby Thore.
Frank Dewis married Kathleen Byrne on the 2nd September 1950 in St Helens, Merseyside, they had no children. Frank and Kathleen lived with his mother Mary Dewis at 4 Homefield, Glenridding before moving to Ambleside where he became manager of the Keswick Co-Op. He worked there all his adult life apart from the time he spent in the RAF during World War 2. Kathleen died on the 16th January 1984 in Kendal Hospital and Frank died on the 8th February 1996 at Lancaster Hospital, both are buried in Ambleside.
Private Moses FISHER (4407)
2nd Div. Salvage Coy. Australian Imperial Force
Born: Abt. Aug 1889, Parton, Nr Whitehaven, Cumberland
Died: 18 Aug 1956, Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Australia (Age 68)
Moses Haile Fisher was the eldest son of nine children born to Thomas Fisher and his wife Isabella (nee Postlethwaite). Thomas was a Police Constable and served in various villages during his career, including Patterdale between 1897 and 1900 (just before the new Police House was built). Moses would have been around 7 years old when the family came to Patterdale so would have attended Patterdale School for three years before the family moved on to Temple Sowerby. On the 31st May 1907, at the age of 18, Moses sailed from Tilbury on board the R.M.S. Omrah bound for Brisbane to start a new life in Australia. He was travelling with 22 years old 'G. Fisher' (perhaps a cousin?). After the war broke out, Moses enlisted into the Australian Army at Casula, NSW, on the 13th December 1915. After training, he embarked for Plymouth, spending 2 months there, before being posted on the 11th August 1916 to the 2nd Division's Base Depot in France, where he joined the 19th Battalion AIF. On the 28th February 1917, Moses suffered a gun-shot wound to his face and was evacuated to the Canadian Hospital in Etaples, where he stayed for nearly two months before rejoining his Battalion. In August 1917, Moses was promoted to Lance Corporal and granted 14 days leave to England, where he married Katherine (Kate) Alice Tarran on the 23rd August 1917 in Andover. However, Moses failed to report back at the end of his leave and didn't turn up in France until the 11th September, where he immediately went into hospital for a week suffering from Scabies. He was punished for being 'Absent Without Leave' for 12 days, by having his promotion retracted. He was transferred to the 2nd Division's Salvage Company on the 2nd October 1917.
At the end of the war, whilst awaiting transport back to Australia, Moses was assigned to work on a Dairy Farm in Burnham on Crouch, Essex for two months - this appears to have been an effort by the military to give returning soldiers some skills. Moses returned to Australia, with his wife Kate, arriving in Sydney on the 8th November 1919. They settled in Tumbarumba in New South Wales, where they had six children (2 sons and 4 daughters).
Private Charles FLINT ( )
Royal Field Artillery
Died: (Age )
Work in Progress
Sergeant John GRAHAM (552137)
13th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles and
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
Born: 30 Dec 1886, Patterdale, Westmorland
Died: 28 Oct 1947, Alberta, Canada (Age 60)
John Graham, who was baptised at St Patrick’s Church on the 6th February 1887, was the third son of Thomas Graham, a lead miner, and his wife Jane (nee Pattinson). When he was born, the family were living with Jane's widowed father John in one the small Township cottages in Patterdale. He would have attended Patterdale School along with his brothers. John, or Jack as he was more commonly called, was one of 7 children, his siblings were; Henry (1883), William (1884-1975), Joseph Lawrence (1890-1961), Edwin (1892-1983), Elizabeth (1898) and Lancelot Pattinson who sadly died within days of his birth in Nov 1906. Their father, Thomas, completely lost his sight around 1905 - it is not known if this was through disease or, more likely, through an accident at the mine. In his early years John was a keen sportsman and may have been a member of the Ullswater Football Team. He was also a member of the Helvellyn Oddfellows which had been set up in Patterdale in the 1830s. When John first joined they used to meet in the White Lion Inn but later used the Parish Meeting Rooms in Patterdale.
At the time of the 1901 census, John aged 14 and his older brother William aged 16, were both working at the Greenside lead mine but later moved to the Caldbeck area to work at the Carrock mine, which had deposits of the rare Wolfram (Tungsten) mineral. They next worked in the coal mines near Shotley Bridge, Durham, before deciding to emigrate to the 'New World'. The two of them left England in 1910, spent about a year in Dakota, U.S.A. before moving on to Vancouver in Canada and then to Coleman, Alberta, in 1912, to work in the new Coal mines there. We know that in 1916 he was a miner and living at Hillcrest, no doubt working at the Hillcrest Coal Mine, the scene of Canada's worst mining disaster in June 1914 when an explosion killed 189 miners.
On the 4th February 1915 John travelled to Pincher Creek in Alberta, where he enlisted in the 13th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles. The Regiment had been authorized on the 1st December 1914 to mobilize at Pincher Creek and recruit in the south-western part of Alberta. However, recruiting was slow among the farmers, ranchers and miners of the district, and dispatches of two 50-man reinforcement drafts, for the 10th Battalion in Flanders, in June and August 1915 further delayed completion of the establishment. In January 1916, CMR Regiments had been dismounted and converted to infantry. It wasn't until the 29th June 1916 that the 13th CMR were able to sail to England with a roster of 970 all ranks. It is therefore not clear when John actually left Canada - it seems quite likely that he was in one of those two reinforcement drafts who left in June and August 1915. However, this is at odds with his obituary, published in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald in 1947, which describes him being 'badly gassed' in the Second Battle of Ypres, which was fought from the 22nd April 1915 to the 25th May 1915 and in which the Canadian 10th Battalion suffered a chlorine gas attack on the 24th April. Perhaps there had been an even earlier dispatch of reinforcements to the 10th Battalion.
On the 2nd October 1916, John was transferred (in the field) to Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). The Regiment's War Diary records the actions they were involved in, which included a successful assualt on a section of Vimy Ridge (9th-11th April 1917) and the infamous Battle of Passchendaele, during which John was severely wounded on the 30th October 1917, evacuated back to England and to a hospital in Norwich.
We know that John spent any available leave back in Patterdale with his family. Even so, if taken during the war, this picture of the four oldest brothers is remarkable in that the three soldiers were able to get leave at the same time! We know from Joseph's service record that he was granted leave between 31st Dec 1916 and the 10th January 1917 but it seems improbable that John, having just joined them, would have been given leave from the Princess Pats who were still in the trenches at Vimy in early January. Perhaps it was taken at the end of the war. When John returned to Canada, it was clear that his mining days were over and he had to look for another means of livelihood. Taking advantage of Canadian Government Scheme to train and set up in farming, John and his brother William, began a highly successful bee-keeping business. They bought a wooden shack to start one of the first apiaries in the Coaldale district of Alberta. Success followed in a remarkable way. The wooden shack became a factory, with all the accessories for the upkeep of a large bee farm, even to the canning of their product for export. It is interesting to note, W. & J. Graham's Coaldale honey could be bought in Penrith shops just before the WW2 and by 1947 the firm was producing up to 90 tons of honey in one season. John was also the first president of the Alberta Bee-Keepers Association.
John died on the 28th October 1947 aged 60 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery, Lethbridge, Alberta. The headstone on his grave simply says John Graham 1886-1947 but curiously, the gravestone has PPCLI Sergeant John Graham C.E.F. Oct, 28, 1947. The newspaper report of his wounding in Oct 1917 describes him as a Private - did he return to the front after he recovered and reach the rank of Sergeant?
Private Joseph L GRAHAM (M2/131650)
No 3. Motorised Ambulance Coy., Army Service Corps
Born: 6 Jun 1890, Patterdale, Westmorland
Died: 21 May 1961, Wisconsin, USA (Age 71)
Joseph Lawrence Graham, who was baptised at St Patrick’s Church on the 27th July 1890, was the fourth son of Thomas Graham, a lead miner, and his wife Jane (nee Pattinson). When he was born, the family were living with Jane's widowed father John in one the small Township cottages in Patterdale. He would have attended Patterdale School and been in the same class as James (Jimmy) Little Bowman, who would become a lifelong friend, future business partner and even a brother in law. Joseph was one of 7 children, his siblings were; Henry (1883), William (1884-1975), John (1887), Edwin (1892-1983), Elizabeth (1898) and Lancelot Pattinson who sadly died within days of his birth in Nov 1906.
Joseph's father, Thomas, completely lost his sight around 1905 - it is not known if this was through disease or, more likely, through an accident at the mine. Despite this, by 1911 his older brothers had already left home and Joseph was working as a Lead Miner at Greenside. On the 26th June 1914, Joseph, along with his close friend Jimmy Bowman, sailed from Liverpool aboard the SS Empress of Britain to Quebec in Canada, arriving on the 3rd July. From there they continued into America heading for the small town of Benton in Wisconsin, no doubt planning to work in the lead mines there. There is a family story that on this trip a clerk at the shipping company decided that Laurie, as he preferred to be called, must be female and he was allocated a berth in the women's quarters. He had great difficulty sorting this out, so to avoid any future embarrassment he began to use the name Joe. There is some evidence to support this story, as, in the manifest of British passengers, he is recorded as 'Lorrie' and ditto under the surname of James Bowman, so could easily have been mistaken for a wife or sister of James.
In July 1915, Joe decided to return to England and do 'his bit' for the war effort. He sailed aboard the White Star Liner SS Lapland arriving in Liverpool in late July or early August 1915. He most likely returned to Patterdale from where he went to Keswick on the 11th October 1915 to sign up. He enlisted in the Mechanical Transport (MT) section of the Army Service Corps, giving his occupation as a 'Petrol Motor Driver', his address as Scarfoot, Patterdale and named his mother as the next of kin. He was immediately posted to the MT training depot at Grove Park in London and within a month was bound for France aboard the SS Saba from Avonmouth. He joined his unit in Rouen on the 26th November 1915. Joe was initially assigned to 317 MT Company carrying out general transport duties but when the Fourth Army was formed in February 1916 to take over the Somme battlefront, he was transferred to 420 MT Company ASC. Their role was to provide a Motor Ambulance Convoy service to evacuate casualties of the Fourth Army.
Joe was demobbed on the 14th March 1919 and was entitled to a free passage back to Wisconsin - there was even an official army form for the purpose - Army Form Z6. Even so, it involved considerable bureaucracy and Joe had to send several letters to move the process forwards. He eventually set sail on 19th August 1919 on board the SS Caronia from Liverpool, bound for New York.
It is not clear where Joe went between his return in 1919 up to 1925. We have been unable to find him in either the 1920 US Census, which was taken just 4 months after he returned or the 1921 Canadian Census. There are a couple of family stories about this period: In one he is said to have joined his brothers William (Bill) and John (Jack) in Western Canada, where he worked in the mines. However, once Bill and Jack had established their honey business, Joe left the mines to work for them but soon realised that farming was not for him and left to seek his fortune in the Yukon. That didn't work out, so he moved to Detroit where got a job with General Motors (Cadillac division). It is possible that he met with the Marr brothers there, who were working at the Ford Motor Company at that time. Part of his earnings was in G.M. stock which he later sold to raise money to buy into a business with Jimmy Bowman in Benton, Wisconsin. The other story, is that Joe went to South Africa to join another brother who was supposedly making a fortune knocking together shanty towns, as native South Africans flocked to the diamond mines. Whilst the brother is said to have done very well, the story is that he failed to pay Joe and as a result he had to stay almost 4 years before his family could afford to bring him home.
Joe was 34 years of age when he married Ida Myrtella Calvert around 1925 - Ida was a Benton girl and sister of Henrietta Alton Calvert who had married Joe's friend Jim Bowman. In both the 1930 and 1940 US Censuses, Joe and Ida were found living in Elizabeth Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois (only 27 miles from Benton), where they were running a grocery store. His friend Jim Bowman opened up a new grocery and feeds store in Benton in 1941 called 'The Rock Store', it seems likely that this is what Joe and Ida bought into when they returned to Benton in 1949.
Ida died in Benton on the 12th January 1953 and Joe on the 21st May 1961, they are buried together in the United Methodist Church Cemetery in Benton.
Private William GRAHAM (898139)
The Alberta Regiment
Born: 27 Sep 1884, Patterdale, Westmorland
Died: 23 Nov 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (Age 91)
William Graham, who was baptised at St Patrick’s Church on the 26th October 1884, was the second son of Thomas Graham, a lead miner, and his wife Jane (nee Pattinson). When he was born, the family were living with Jane's widowed father John in one the small Township cottages in Patterdale. He would have attended Patterdale School. William was one of 7 children, his siblings were; Henry (1883), John (1886-1947), Joseph Lawrence (1890-1961), Edwin (1892-1983), Elizabeth (1898) and Lancelot Pattinson who sadly died within days of his birth in Nov 1906. Their father, Thomas, completely lost his sight around 1905 - it is not known if this was through disease or, more likely, through an accident at the mine.
At the time of the 1901 census, William aged 16 and his younger brother John aged 14, were both working at the Greenside lead mine but later moved to the Caldbeck area to work at the Carrock mine, which had deposits of the rare Wolfram (Tungsten) mineral. They next worked in the coal mines near Shotley Bridge, Durham, before deciding to emigrate to the 'New World'. The two of them left England in 1910, spent about a year in Dakota, U.S.A. before moving on to Vancouver in Canada and then to Coleman, Alberta, in 1912, to work in the new coal mines there. We know that in 1916 he was a miner and living at Hillcrest, no doubt working at the Hillcrest Coal Mine, the scene of Canada's worst mining disaster in June 1914 when an explosion killed 189 miners.
Around the end of 1914, William married Eleanor (probably the daughter of Jonathan and Isabella Atkinson, who were from Cumberland and living in Coleman at that time - although there is a discrepancy relating to her age from the 1901 Census in Workington) and when the Canadian Census was taken in June 1916, they had a one year old son named Robert and lived very close to William's brother John.
From his Attestation Papers, we know that William enlisted on the 21st February 1916 and from his service number that he joined the 192nd (Crows Nest Pass) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), who were based in Blairmore. After training, the 192nd Bn., consisting of 23 officers and 424 other ranks, sailed to England in November 1916. When they arrived on the 12th November, they were immediately absorbed into the 9th Reserve Battalion CEF and based at Tidworth. Some officers and men were drafted out to reinforce other Battalions in France but many remained at Tidworth until late January 1917 when the 9th Reserve Battalion was restructured and allowed the designation The Alberta Regiment (to retain its territorial identity). During this period of re-organisation, it is possible that William, if still in England, could have been granted leave in early January 1917 and therefore appear on the photograph described in his brother Johns biography above. Between January and October 1917, men from the 9th Reserve Battalion, were sent to reinforce the 2nd, 10th, 49th and 202nd Battalions in France, after which the 9th itself was absorbed into the 21st Reserve Battalions. All of these changes mean that, without Williams Service Records, we have no idea which Battalion he served in or where he was.
The 1921 Canadian Census shows that after the war, William returned to Coleman to work as a miner (living close to Jonathan and Isabella Atkinson), it also records a daughter Mary aged 1 year - however, there is no son Robert listed, he would have been 6, did he die? We do know that William, along with his brother John, took advantage of Canadian Government Scheme to train and set up in farming and they started a highly successful bee-keeping business. They bought a wooden shack to start one of the first apiaries in the Coaldale district of Alberta. Success followed in a remarkable way. The wooden shack became a factory, with all the accessories for the upkeep of a large bee farm, even to the canning of their product for export. It is interesting to note, W. & J. Graham's Coaldale honey could be bought in Penrith shops just before the WW2 and by 1947 the firm was producing up to 90 tons of honey in one season.
Eleanor died on the 31st October 1973 and William on the 23rd November 1975. They are buried together at Mountain View Cemetery, Lethbridge, Alberta.
Private Thomas GREENHOW ( )
Died: (Age )
Work in Progress
Private Joseph GREENHOW ( )
Died: (Age )
Work in Progress
Private Harry GRENFELL (1314 & 148099)
16th Northumberland Fusiliers & Royal Garrison Artillery
Born: 3 Jan 1886, Rake Cottages, Glenridding, Westmorland
Died: Abt May 1974, Northumberland (Age 88)
Henry Grenfell was the fifth child of John Grenfell, a lead miner at Greenside, and his wife Susan (nee Strange). John and Susan had married in 1877. John’s father was a mining agent and had moved to Glenridding from Mousehole in Cornwall. Henry, or Harry as he was generally called, was one of 7 children, his siblings were; Ada (1879), Frank (1880), Sidney (1881-1881), Thomas (1884), Richard (1888-1891) and Hilda Carvoso (1895). When the 1891 Census was taken, the family were all living at the Rake Cottages in Glenridding, along with Harry’s Uncle Hedley Grenfell and his Great Aunt from Cornwall, Jane Grenfell. At some point between 1895 and 1901, the family moved to Bedlington in Northumberland, where his father and eldest brother Frank were working as coal-miners and Harry, just 15, was working as a token boy at the mine. Some other families in the Dale, such as the Slee's, made a similar move. Ten years later Harry was still living with his parents in Bedlington. His father was still working underground but Harry had found work as a Grocers Assistant. By this time most of his older siblings were married, including his eldest sister Ada, who had married James Lamb from Penrith in 1904. Around August 1912, Harry married Jane Beadnell in the Morpeth area of Northumberland.
Harry enlisted during the second week of September 1914, into the 16th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers (also known as the Newcastle Commercials as the recruitment was organised by the Chamber of Commerce) and assigned to 'B' Company. The Battalion initially trained on the Grammar School playing fields before moving, in December, to the newly built camp at Alnwick Castle. On the 23rd June 1915, the 16th Battalion moved to Catterick Camp for rifle training and became part of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division of the Fourth New Army. The next move was to Salisbury Plain for Brigade level exercises and bombing/grenade practice (during which a Sergeant lost his right hand by holding on to a grenade just too long). After a year in training, the long awaited order came through and the Battalion entrained for Folkestone on the 20th November 1915 and arrived in Boulogne on the 22nd. Two weeks later they found themselves in the Somme region occupying front-line trenches near Dernancourt. The Battalion stayed in the area of Albert up to the First Battle of the Somme.
1st July 1916 - The Battle of the Somme - The bloodiest day in the British Army's history.
These extracts from the 16th Battalion's war diary, describe their experiences that day in The Battle of Thiepval:
Zero hour was fixed for 7.30 a.m. When the barrage lifted A and B Companies moved forward in waves and were instantly fired upon by enemy Machine Guns and snipers. The enemy stood upon their parapet and waved to our men to come on and picked them off with rifle fire. The enemy’s fire was so intense that the advance was checked and the waves, or what was left of them, were forced to lie down. On observing this, C Company, in support, moved out to reinforce the front line, losing a great number of men in doing so. Battalion HQ was moved to the front line trench about 50 yards south of the junction of Hamilton Avenue at 7.40 a.m. and on seeing the position orders were given for D Company, the reserve company, to advance. Getting over the parapet the first platoon lost a great number of men and the remainder of the company was ordered to ‘Stand fast’ and hold the line.
At 8 a.m. Brigade HQ was advised of the position and at 10.45 a.m. orders were received that we had to hang on where we were as they were trying to turn the north of Thiepval.
At 8.20 a.m. we asked the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers to reinforce us in the front line trench and they sent up two companies.
At 9.30 a.m. a message was received from OC 96th Brigade Stokes Mortar Battery, whose guns had been unable to fire from 8.15 a.m. owing to lack of ammunition, that a fresh supply had arrived.
The enemy’s artillery continued firing on No Man’s Land and our front line trench all day, which no doubt accounted for a large number of the casualties amongst the companies that were lying out. Our artillery continued to fire all day but it was only very occasionally that it appeared to be heavy and effective. The enemy Machine Guns fired whenever a movement was shown in the line.
Orders were received from Brigade HQ at 9 p.m. to withdraw the men who were lying out as it was dark and that we would be relieved by the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The relief was completed at 11 p.m. and the remnants of the battalion, 8 officers and 279 Other Ranks, marched into the Bluff at about 1.30 a.m.
The 16th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers suffered 6 officers and 350 other ranks killed that day with a similar number wounded. Private Harry Grenfell was one of those wounded.
Two weeks later, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald reported that Harry had been wounded, it described that his life had been saved by his pocket-knife which had stopped a bullet entering his side. The same article reported that Harry's brother-in-law, Lance Corporal Isaac Lamb had also been wounded that day, fighting with the 20th Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish), who were in the 34th Division, near La Boisselle, and just a couple of miles to the south.
We do not know the severity of Harry's wounds. It is possible that he was evacuated back to England and that his injuries prevented him returning to the front line, as he later transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner.
It is puzzling that Harry did not receive the 1915 Star Medal, as his Battalion were in the trenches in France by December 1915.
After he was demobilised, Harry returned to Bedlington, where he and his wife Jane raised a family of at least four children. The only other detail we have been able to find out about their life was that on the 11th Oct 1957, both aged 71, they travelled from New York to Liverpool aboard the Cunard Liner Brittanic. At the time they lived at 17, Nether Riggs, Bedlington. It appears they remained in Bedlington until their deaths, John in June 1974 aged 88, and Jane in September 1980 at the age of 94.