"The nation must be taught to bear losses. No amount of skill on the part of the higher commanders, no training, however good, on the part of the officers and men, no superiority of arms and ammunition, however great, will enable victories to be won without the sacrifice of men's lives. The nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists."
General Douglas Haig
RIVERHEAD AND WW1
This picture shows Sir John French, the Commander in Chief of the British Home Forces, inspecting troops as they pass through Riverhead in 1916 (French had been Commander of the British Expeditionary Force until he was replaced by Doulgas Haig in December 1915). The troops would likely have been camped in Knole Park before, possibly, departing for France (the first day of the Somme was just 5 weeks away). The picture is taken from a window of what was then Paines (a tailors) in The Square. The view is one looking up Amherst Hill towards Sevenoaks. The railings to the left of the picture are still there, in front of the village hall. The high wall to the right of the picture would have enclosed the kitchen garden to the house in Montreal Park. The wall was obviously demolished at some stage and there is now a low wall in its place enclosing the carpark that is in front of Barclays Bank. The picture is on a postcard that records the event as being a troop inspection by General French and the date as 23rd May. The writing is not clear enough to determine whether this is 1915 or 1916 but this is clarified by an entry in the Riverhead School diary dated 23rd May 1916:
"Registers closed at 9.30 this morning in order to allow children to witness an inspection of
troops past the schools by General French a 11 0' clock".
RIVERHEAD MEMORIAL - REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 2014
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MAP OF RIVERHEAD - 1907
ENTRY IN ST MARY'S PARISH MAGAZINE - AUGUST 1916
The Memorial was originally located on the wall in front of the old Memorial Hall facing the road - it was moved to its current, safer, place after being struck by a lorry. The Memorial was erected in December 1919 and it's unveiling by Earl Amherst is recorded in the Sevenoaks Chronicle dated 19th December 1919.
No figures have been found for those wounded, but, as can be seen from the photograph above, the names of 18 men appear on the Riverhead Memorial (some of whom have no known grave) . They are listed below together with other brief details relating to their Regiments, service numbers and dates of death. The fuller details of these 18 soldiers (in so far as it has been possible to establish them) are contained in the individual pages bearing each of their names that appear in remaining drop down boxes in this tab.
Rank and Name Rank, Service No. and Regiment Date of Death
Harry Douglas Wood Gunner 74192 Royal Field Artillery 123rd Bty 26 August 1914
Henry Arthur Forward Private 7314 Queen's Own 1 Btn 15 November 1914
Henry William Blake Rifleman 3765 2nd Rifle Brigade 09 May 1915
Bernard Alfred Heath Private 775 Queen’s Own 04 April 1916
Edouard Herbert Allan Goss Lieutenant the Buffs 7 Btn 01 July 1916
Ernest Russell Harris Lance Corporal 7190 King's Royal Rifle Corp 1 Btn 27 July 1916
Henry James Heath Rifleman 304067 London Regiment (Rifle Brigade) 06 September 1916
Thomas Holland Private 2018 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt 01 October 1916
Frank James Steer Private 455332 Royal Canadian Regiment (49 Btn) 08 October 1916
Reginald John Jarvis Private 225529 The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regt) 24 February 1917
John Linge (MM) Private 518 Queen’s Own 1 Btn 12 March 1917
John Forward Gunner 62660 Royal Horse Artillery 04 September 1917
Charles John Cowlard Private 24599 Queen’s Own 7 Btn 08 January 1918
William Dickman Serjeant 265989 Queen’s Own 24 April 1918
Albert Edward Pearce Corporal 21204 Queen’s Own 10 Btn 28 April 1918
Norman Alfred Heath Private 225576 London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1 Btn 27 August 1918
Albert Valentine Palmer Private 201106 Queen’s Own 2/4 Btn 22 September 1918
George Edward Lawrence (MM) CSM 32721 13th East Lancashire Regt 05 November 1918
Here are just some of the questions that have arisen, about these soldiers, and which are answered in this site:
- Who were the mysterious Forwards (John and Henry) who are not recorded in the CWGC list or the list of war dead?
Were they related? Were they fighting under their real names?
- Who died in the "Ditch of Evil Memory"?
- Who was a Master and Pupil at Riverhead School?
- Whose initials are wrongly recorded on the memorial stone?
- Whose daughter (his only child) was born just three weeks before he was killed? Did he ever see her?
What happened to her?
- Who was presented with a cheque in the Square by Earl Amherst for winning a Military Medal?
- How were the three Heaths related?
- What was the Hagle Dump Explosion and who died in it?
- Why does Corporal Frank James Steer's name appear at the bottom of the memorial, out of chronological sequence?
- Where in Riverhead did these soldiers live (Linden Square, Heathfield Road, Sunny Bank, Chipstead Lane......)?
Mention should also be made of five others. Four of these appear on the separate Roll of Honour in St Mary's Church (a photograph of which appears below) - the St Mary's Parish Magazine reveals that they were not from the Parish but had at some stage been members of the congregation. It appears that this is why they were omitted from the original memorial stone. Finally, there is William Walter Manktelow, who appears on neither the Memorial nor the Roll of Honour (though he is remembered on the Vine) but who was also a member of the congregation and seems to have had a close connection with Riverhead. Why he was omitted from the Roll of Honour is not known.
Evelyn Llewellyn Hustler-Jones 2nd Lt Royal Welsh Fusiliers 26 March 1917
William Walter Manktelow Private 250674 Essex Regiment 26 March 1917
Alan Edward Hounsom Private 33725 Northumberland Fusiliers 03 May 1917
Arthur Charles Michell Second Lt Queen’s Own 7 Btn 12 October 1917
Charles Henry Page Private SD/5473 Royal Sussex Regiment 22 March 1918
Of these, Alan Hounsom is commemorated on the Dunton Green Memorial. Evelyn Lewellyn Hustler-Jones is commemorated on the memorial at Kingsteignton in Devon and also on the memorial in Lincoln's Inn, London (he was a barrister). Charles Page enlisted in Brighton and is commemorated on the St Martin's Parish memorial in Brighton. No trace of Arthur Charles Michell has been found on any other memorial. There is, as a matter of interest, a report on the internet about Charles Michell's Victory Medal and silver ID bracelet being stolen from a collector in France in 2010. No individual pages have been prepared for these five soldiers.