First World War Heroes of Wotton-under-Edge, by Bill Griffiths

First World War Heroes of Wotton-under-Edge, by Bill Griffiths

Published privately by the author in 2013, 326 pages. Large A4 size softback - c.21cm by 29.5cm (SVWSO)

Has an inscription in pen signed by the author on the title page.

This book provides a detailed record of the men from the Gloucestershire town of Wotton-under-Edge who served and died during the First World War. One of the entries is provided below to give an idea of the information recorded.

Henry Lambert Short, usually known as 'Harry', was born in Wotton under-Edge in 1893, the only son of Frank and Olive Short of Rockville, Bradley Street, Wotton-under-Edge. As a young man Harry worked for Mr. Price, butcher of Bradley Street and then at the Co-operative Stores as a van man.

On the outbreak of war Harry enlisted in Wotton with his friend George Pagett. They joined the Royal Artillery, Harry's service no. being 16333. Both Harry and George saw much active service together with 'D' Battery 93rd Brigade. In October 1916 the Brigade were taking part in the battle of the Somme, which had then been going on for four months.

On 4th October whilst on active duty Harry was seriously wounded with shrapnel shell injuries. He was taken to a dressing station where George saw his friend being attended to. George could see that the wounds to Harry's back and legs were indeed serious. Harry died on the following day and was buried in Grove Town Cemetery, 3kms north-west of Bray-sur-Somme. He lies in Plot 1, Row M, Grave 29. George wrote to Frank and Olive Short immediately on hearing of Harry's wounds, but had to send a second letter the day afterwards telling them of Harry's death. An officer from the brigade, Capt. C. L. Kingscote also wrote to the family concerning Harry's death and they also received confirmation from the Artillery Records Office at Woolwich.

Harry was just one week short of his 23rd birthday when he died. He was of fine physique and was an exceedingly popular young man in Wotton. Grove Town Cemetery is a large cemetery with 1,392 graves... On 6th October 1917 an 'In Memoriam' notice appeared in the Gazette from Harry's parents and sister, it contained the words "His country called, he answered. R.l.P."

From the introduction: 114 men from this small town sacrificed their lives for their King and country in "the War to end all wars". In total over 700 Wottonians served in the Forces between 1914 and 1918 - you can read their names on the Roll of Honour in the Town Hall. At that time the town's population was less than 4,000 (according to Kelly's Directory, 1911, it was just 3,021). Almost every house in the town would have had a man in uniform. One in seven of those men who went to war did not return to their families! Many Wotton women became widows and many children were left without fathers. I have heard it said that no other town in the country lost so many men per head of population. Of course trying to prove this would be a huge task. What one can say is that Wotton-under-Edge made an enormous contribution to the war effort. This contribution is highlighted by studying just one Commonwealth War Grave Commission Memorial in France - that of Thiepval on the Somme, to find no less than the names of thirteen Wotton men carved on the panels of stone.

The condition of the book is generally good. The cover has several minor scuffs and marks, and some creasing and wear along the edges and corners, but the spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small bump towards the bottom of the outside page leaves that has caused minor wear to the extreme right hand side of pages 5-8.