Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society


Private 46961

2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment

Killed in Action 15th January 1915 aged 22

Born in 1892, in Barkway, and lived with his parents Ralph, a farm labourer and his mother Rebecca. He had 3 brothers, Stanley, Francis and Harry and 3 sisters Kate, Eva and Connie.  They were living at 60 High Street in Barkway near Royston.  By 1911, according to the census, Ralph was an unemployed groom, still living with his parents in Barkway.  Soon after the family moved to Stanstead Abbotts and lived at 26 South Street.

Ralph joined the army at Hertford in 1914 and was posted to the Bedfordshire Regiment as Private Number 46961in the 2nd Battalion.  This battalion was in Roberts Heights near Pretoria in South Africa when the war broke out. It was quickly sent back to England and arrived in Southampton on 19th September1914. After refitting for European warfare it was sent to Belgium on 5th October.  They arrived near Ypres on the 14th October and were ordered to move to the 10k marker on the Ypres –Menin road, where on 18th October they met the German army for the first time.The Battalion was part of the ‘Old Contemtibles’ the nickname given to the original members of the British Expeditionary Force who saw action before 22nd November 1914. Their war would last another 49 months, their last action being on 4th November 1918 at Preux-au-Bois near Le Cateau almost where they started four years earlier.

By January 1915, Ralph was serving with his unit in France and was in trenches at Fleurbaix near Armentieres.  On the day that he died Ralph was not in the front line but was resting in his billet in the village.  The Regimental war diary does not refer to any action at all on that day so it is possible that he may have died as a result of enemy shelling, or of wounds received earlier.

He is buried in the Rue David Military Cemetery at Fleurbaix.

Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1914 Star