I’ve not written anything for a while, so while I’ve been away from work for a few days I thought I would put fingers to keyboard and do a few snippets, as you have already will have seen.
Normally I see interesting things and make a note to write later, this time, decided to write something from some of the information passed on by friends – I have some wonderful friends who keep cuttings for me to use as a starting point for my meanderings. This time seems to be a reverse of the norm. Whilst looking through a book I’ve had for ages and is one of many I take away with me, I found the name of a young man and was quite moved by what happened many years after his death.
Stephen was the son of Ephraim and Sarah Ann Henshaw of Quinton, being born in 1887. In 1901 he was 14 years old and employed as a brick maker. His 52 year old father was navvy on the reservoir, while his 18 year old sister was a rivet sorter.
In the census of 1911 Stephen had been married to Sarah for under 1 year, but the enumerator had struck through the written explanation and recorded just a ‘1’ in the relevant box. Stephen worked as a stoker on a stationery engine at a local brickmakers. The young couple lived at 51 Stonehouse Lane, California, Northfield, Worcestershire.
Stephen enlisted in Birmingham, serving as Pte 204232 in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The Ox & Bucks). He was wounded during the Battle of Langemarck on 16th August 1917 and lay wounded in the fields for 6 days. After being found he was taken to Casualty Clearing Station 61 (CCS 61) Dozinghem near Proven, but sadly died of wounds on 23 August 1917 aged 30 and rests in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.
The book I had been looking at was by Major and Mrs Holt and in the pages I found the idea for this snippet and that Stephen’s granddaughter had been researching her grandfathers war . It was during a visit to the area and finding local historians that lead to finding the approximate area where Stephen lay for six days and nights. The area back in WW1 was known as Springfield Farm.
As many people who go on pilgrimages to WW1/2 sites will have seen, a laminated information sheet was left attached to one of the farms fence posts – a semi-permanent potted history of a family man whose life was taken away – a notice that passers by may see, stop and take a few moments to read about Stephen.
Well, someone did stop and read the laminated information about Stephen’s last days – the owners of Springfield Farm (now renamed). So, when Stephen’s granddaughter returned a few years later she was shocked to find that from the information left attached to the farm fence, a memorial had been erected at the farmers’ own expense.
For further information
Images CWGC.org and http://echoesofwar.blogspot.co.uk/