Corporal Nelson George Thacker, 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment (1915-1994)

From the Evesham Journal 21 March 1942

I recently saw on Facebook an image taken from the Evesham Journal of British prisoners of war in Stalag VIII-B (Stalag 344) Lamsdorf, Germany, in the 1942 (see image). Amongst the prisoners in the photo was Corporal Nelson George Thacker from Evesham (back row 3rd from left). The post piqued my interest as I have researched some of the men from the area that have served in either the First or Second World War so I decided to see what I could discover about Corporal Thacker.

Nelson George Thacker (1915-1994)

Known as George, he was born in Evesham on 28th September 1915. His parents, Percy John Thacker and mother, Sarah Jane (née Hampton), had married in Evesham late in 1914. His mother was from Bengeworth in Evesham and worked at the local jam factory. His father was a journeyman baker and the family lived at 4 Mill Street, Evesham. George had a younger brother, Frederick born in 1917 who died, aged 7, in 1924. His mother gave birth to a third son, Douglas, in 1927 but he also did not survive infancy.

George was named after his father’s brother Nelson Thacker (1892-1915). Just before George was born his Uncle Nelson had embarked for France having enlisted as a Private with the 1st Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Less than two months’ later, whilst fighting on the Western Front Private Nelson Thacker was killed in action on 13th October 1915, and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and the Evesham War Memorial.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, George enlisted with the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and in 1942, whilst in France, was captured by the German Army. The Evesham Journal reported on 21st March 1942 that George was a Prisoner of War in Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf.

Around 210 men from the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment are known to have been imprisoned in Stalag VIII-B at some point during the war. The stalag was the largest German Army prisoner of war camp in the Third Reich with thousands of prisoners, mostly Russian but with a smaller camp of some 16,000 prisoners from Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. The camp was located in the north east near Oppeln on the River Oder in Silesia near what was then the German Polish border. At the end of 1943 Lamsdorf was designated Stalag 344 and a sub-camp at Teschen, some 125 km to the south east, became the new Stalag VIII-B.

Stalag 383, Hohenfels, Germany

According to the Worcestershire Regiment’s records Lt/Cpl 1873046 Thacker was imprisoned in Stalag 383 as PoW 15320. Fellow serving soldiers from his battalion; Corporals H.H. Taylor, D.E. Williams, R.P. Evans and Sergeants C. Sargerson and R.W. Seager are recorded as being PoWs in the camp at the same time as George.

It was not unusual for prisoners to be transferred between camps. Private Les Foskett who served with The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment, had been a prisoner at Stalag VIII-B in 1941 and was transferred to Stalag 383 a few months later so it is likely that George and a number of others were transferred between the two camps at some stage and that he may not have been in Stalag VIII-B for long. Click here for Les Foskett’s story.

Stalag 383 was located in Bavaria between Nuremburg and Regensberg in Germany. Until late 1942, the prisoners in the camp endured conditions what have been described by another PoW as bad but once the Swiss Red Cross became involved, and Red Cross clothing and food parcels supplemented PoW camp rations, the lives the PoWs improved and the camp was described as “far less depressing than Lamsdorf”. A Swedish delegate who visited the camp on the occasion of the centenary of the YMCA in July 1944 stated that he had seen “no better camp in Germany” (see extracts from the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939-1945 for prisoners’ descriptions of the camp). The PoWs were released from Stalag 383 in early May 1945 by the American Army.

After his release, George returned home to Evesham. Following his discharge from the army in he started working as a Postman with Evesham Post Office in 1946 and he later joined the Evesham Town Silver Band. He married Gertrude Cynthia Padfield, known as Cynthia (of Burford Road, Evesham), at St Lawrence Church, in 1947. George died in 1994 and his wife, Cynthia, died aged 87, on 26th January 2012 and is buried in Waterside Cemetery, Evesham. Before her death Cynthia lived on Isbourne Crescent, Evesham.

If anyone has any information about George Thacker that could be added to this article then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

 

Sources:
http://www.ancestry.co.uk
Evesham Journal
The Diary of Alan Forster, POW 3921, Stalag VIIIB (October 1944 — May 1945) by Bill Forster
http://www.worcestershireregiment.com

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing

Last weekend I visited Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing outside Passchendaele near Zonnebeke in Belgium. Tyne Cot is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world for any war and commemorates nearly 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War and the Memorial another 35,000 men. The scale of the site is overwhelming and like other Commonwealth War Grave Commission sites the grounds are beautifully maintained, and at the time of my visit rows of ‘Remembrance’ red floribunda roses planted in front of the wall of panels and amongst some of the headstones were in full bloom.

In the Visitor Centre on the approach to the Cemetery, a recorded voice reads out the names of each of the servicemen listed as ‘missing in action’ and there was a display of medals, letters and photographs of some of the men. Amongst the men commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing is Leonard Frank Green, son of Harold Joseph and Mary Ann Green, High Street, Broadway. Corporal Leonard Green of the 1st/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment was killed in action, aged 20, on 27th August 1917.

 

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers
August 2017

 

 

 

 

Broadway History Society Meeting: The Worcesters in WW1

On Monday 12th December the Broadway History Society will be meeting at 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, High Street, Broadway. The speaker will be Dennis Plant with a talk on ‘The Worcestershire Regiment in World War One’. Non-members welcome (£3).

Several men from Broadway served with the Worcesters during the First World War: see blog post https://broadwayhistorysociety.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/worcestershire-regiment/ for further details.

 

 

 

Private John Jarrett awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile

croix-de-guerre-39-45-étoile-ArgentOn 30th November 1918 it was announced in the Evesham Journal that Private 14969 John William Jarrett (born 1893) of Bury End, Broadway, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Jarrett, who served with the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment during the First World War, had been awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Etoile.

The official communication from the headquarters of the 10th Infantry Brigade stated:

You have been awarded the undermentioned French decoration for devotion to duty during the operation at Neuve Eglise in April last: Croix de Guerre avec Etoile. Your name appeared in the London Gazette dated 10th October 1918. The Divisional Commander and Brigadier General desire me to express their congratulations on the honour you have brought your division and brigade.

 

 

Remembered Today: Private 21387 W.G. Scrivens, 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment

Private Scrivens, who was serving with the 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment in Gallipoli in August 1915, was initially reported as missing in action but was later declared as having been killed in action, aged 27 on 6th August 1915. William George Scrivens, known as George was the second son of Thomas and Harriet Scrivens of Broadway. Prior to his enlistment George worked for Messrs. Steward and Company as a builders labourer. He enlisted in January 1915 and after training with the 5th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment had been transferred to the 4th Battalion.

George was posted to Gallipoli spending a short time en-route in Alexandria, Egypt. On 22nd July 1915, he wrote home:

“We have landed at the base after a splendid voyage, but very hot. This is a rum place, it is shoe-top deep in sand, and with the wind blowing you can’t see half the time. We have to sleep in the open with one blanket, so you can tell it is no picnic. I wish you can see the warships it is a fine sight; you can hear their guns going as I write. This is a somewhat different country to England; all you can see is bare sand. You would laugh if you could see us. We have cut off our trousers at the knees, and with helmets on look like boy scouts. Excuse the dirty paper; between sweat and sand I can’t keep it clean.”

George further wrote on 3rd August:

“This is a rum place and a rum life. If you get any money there is nothing to buy. The worst job is getting something to drink. We are given two cups of tea a day, and that is not much. I should like to get hold of a pint of beer or cider and a good plate of cabbage and sprouts out of the garden. There’s nothing of that here, but all tinned stuff, and that salty, but it is no good grumbling. I should like some of them that sit in the pubs at home and talk about how it should be done to be out here.”

Three days later Private George Scrivens was killed in action. He is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial and the Helles Memorial on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

 

 

Remembered Today: Pte 13862 Harry Gordon Lambley 10th (Service) Worcestershire Regiment of Childswickham

Whilst researching the men of Broadway who fought in the First World War, I came across a number of men from the neighbouring village of Childswickham, many of whom had enlisted to serve for their country with men from Broadway.

One of the first men from Childswickham to enlist was Harry Gordon Lambley. Harry, born in 1894, was the eldest son of William Lambley and Elizabeth Lambley (nee Agg) of The Cross, Childswickham. A gardener, who worked for his uncle Mr. H.Smith (a market gardener of New Street), Harry enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment on 13th August 1914 and trained on Salisbury Plain and Blackdown before being sent to the Dardanelles (Gallipoli) in June 1915 where he took part in the landings at Suvla Bay. Whilst in the Dardanelles Harry contracted dysentery and was sent back to England to recover.

On 29th February 1916, his 22nd birthday, Harry was sent to France and took part in the storming of the village La Boiselle during the Battle of the Somme. His platoon got caught up in barbed wire crossing No Man’s Land and suffered many losses as men fell under heavy machine gunfire. A few found shelter in a shell hole but Harry was not one of them and he was initially declared as missing in action.

A memorial service for Harry, conducted by the Rev. J.E. Thompson at St Mary’s Church, Childswickham, was held several months later after he was officially declared as killed in action on 3rd July 1916. A fellow serving Worcester, Pte G. Harris, wrote in response to information about Harry and comrade Corporal William Edward Reeves1 “The last time I saw these two men they were at the back of a wall at La Boiselle fighting Germans for all they were worth. The Germans were only fifty yards away on the other side of the wall and Lieut. Ellis told them to get back into the trench but they went on fighting round the corner of the wall. I was wounded and do not know what happened after that.”

Harry is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and memorial plaque inside Childswickham Memorial Hall.

He sleeps, not in his native land,
But under foreign skies,
Far from those who loved him best,
In a hero’s grave he lies.

Harry’s younger brother Felix Wilfred Lambley, who worked as a baker in Broadway, also fought in the war. Felix enlisted with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 9th December 1914 (Private 9579) with a number of men from Broadway including Private 9562 George Barnett. Felix received a gunshot wound to the head at Arras in November 1915 and was discharged from the army on 18th July 1916.

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Notes:
1. Corporal 15832 William Edward Reeves was born on 17th August 1896 in Gloucester, the son and first born child of John Edward Reeves and Edith Susannah Reeves (nee Trenfield also spelt Trunkfield). Prior his enlistment, William lived with his parents and siblings at 49 Lysons Avenue, Gloucester, and he worked as a clerk at Gloucester Co-operative Stores. William was declared as missing in action the same day as Harry Lambley and was officially declared dead in July 1917. William is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers
July 2015

Remembered Today: Pte Wilson Keyte’s Bravery in Salonika on 24th April 1917

Private 30818 Wilson William Keyte enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment during the early days of the First World War. Wilson was born in Broadway in 1885 and prior to his enlistment worked for Mr T. Bayliss in the village. He served in Salonika with the 11th Battalion and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the Battle of Doiran on 24th April 1917.

On that first day of the battle, Wilson was serving as a stretcher bearer and carrier of the medical chest. Whilst under heavy shell and rifle fire, grenade and trench mortar attacks he dressed the wounded and carried a wounded officer for 200 yards up the rocky bed of a ravine under fire until a stretcher was found. During the whole of the operations he acted courageously encouraging the wounded whilst carrying out his duties.

Wilson was later awarded the Greek Military Cross in July 1919 for his actions during the campaign.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

© Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Remembered Today: Two cousins Pte 15372 Albert H. Clarke, 11th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and Pte 29206 George T. Handy 9th (Service) Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment

Albert Henry Clarke, was born in Broadway in 1893, the third son of Albert and Emma Mary Clarke. After leaving school, Albert worked for Thomas Bayliss, grocer, corn and offal dealer of Sheldon House, Broadway. Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, Albert enlisted with Kitchener’s Army in Broadway in September 1914 and joined the Worcestershire Regiment. After a period of training on Salisbury Plain, Albert was posted to Gallipoli in June 1915. During his time in Gallipoli, Albert was injured by a kick from a horse and was transported back to England where he recuperated in a hospital in Stockport, Cheshire.

Albert later rejoined his regiment and in August 1916 was posted to the 11th (Service) Battalion in Salonika. The following year, during the night of 24th/25th April 1917, the Battle of Doiran, Albert, who had just turned 24, was killed in action. He is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial, Greece, and the Broadway War Memorial.

Two of Albert’s cousins also fought in Salonika. His cousin George Thomas Handy, known as Thomas, was born in Broadway in 1880. After leaving school Thomas was apprenticed as a baker and after his marriage to Clara Porter in 1901, moved to Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, where he set up his own bakery and was greenkeeper at Moreton-in-Marsh Golf Club. Thomas enlisted with the 9th (Service) Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment and was also killed during the night of 24th April 1917 when he was hit by a shell. Thomas is buried in Karasouli Military Cemetery, Polykastro, and he is commemorated on the Moreton-in-Marsh War Memorial as ‘Thomas G. Handy’.

Cousin Wilson William Keyte was born in Broadway in 1885. Wilson enlisted with the Worcestershire Regiment and served with Albert with the 11th (Service) Battalion in Salonika. Wilson was awarded the Military Medal for stretcher-bearing duties during the Battle of Doiran and after the end of the war was awarded the Greek Military Cross. Wilson died, aged 64, in 1949.

 

Doiran Memorial, Greece (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Doiran Memorial, Greece (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

 

Albert is one of 48 commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial. Further information about Albert, his cousins and fellow men from Broadway commemorated on the memorial can be found in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (a not-for-profit publication published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by the Imperial War Museum. Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal).

 

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

© Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Debbie Williamson and Broadway Remembers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembered Today: Private 25249 Josiah J. Bayliss, Worcestershire Regiment transferred to 278004 Labour Corps

Headstone of Pte J.J. Bayliss, St Eadburgha's, Broadway, Worcestershire.

Headstone of Pte J.J. Bayliss, St Eadburgha’s, Broadway, Worcestershire.

Josiah James Bayliss, known as James, was born in 1882 at Pathlow near Wilmcote, Warwickshire, the third and youngest son of Josiah and Eliza Bayliss. James, a telegraph messenger, grew up in Mickleton, Gloucestershire, and in 1902 married Minnie Elizabeth Ann Mustoe in Stow-on-the-Wold. After their marriage, James and Minnie moved to Broadway.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, James joined the Worcestershire Regiment and was later transferred to the Labour Corps. Whilst stationed at Southern Command Labour Centre, Salisbury Plain, he contracted influenza and died of pneumonia, aged 36, on 2nd March 1919. His funeral took place at St Eadburgha’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway, on 8th March 1919 and he is buried in the churchyard.

Further information about James and the other men from Broadway who died in the First World War can be found in Broadway Remembers (ISBN 978-0-1-9929891-0-1) a not-for-profit publication raising money for the Poppy Appeal published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by the Imperial War Museum.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers

 

 

Broadway Men Commemorated on the Evesham War Memorial

The Evesham War Memorial on the slopes of Abbey Park between the River Avon and the Bell Tower, was unveiled and dedicated by the Vicar of Evesham at 3pm on Sunday 7th August 1921 following a parade of 500 ex-servicemen along the High Street to the park. Present at the ceremony was: The Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, The Right Hon. The Earl of Coventry PC; The High Steward of Evesham, Commander B.M. Eyres Monsell RN, MP; Mrs Haynes-Rudge; The Lord Mayor, various town officials and over 5,000 people.

The war memorial, on a site given by the Rudge family (who once owned a large portion of the abbey estate) was designed by Mr H.E. Dicks. It is built of Cotswold stone with sculpture (a bronze figure of a soldier) by Henry Poole RA. The memorial has the date 1920 as the date of the end of the war inscribed on it. This is because the Worcestershire Regiment were sent out to Russia after the armistice where peace was not declared until 1920. The memorial was cleaned and refurbished by the Town Council with the help of the War Memorials Trust during the summer of 2014.

Amongst the men and women of both world wars commemorated on the memorial is Private 5767 William Harold Gabb who was the first soldier born in Broadway, Worcestershire, to die in the First World War. William, born in 1880, served with the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards and died on 7th November 1914 on the Western Front. William is also commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Private 19218 Richard Keyte Handy is also commemorated on the memorial. Richard was born in Broadway in 1883 and attended Broadway First School. He moved to Evesham, where he worked as a builder’s labourer, after his marriage to Sarah Ann Hartwell in 1905. Richard served with the Worcestershire Regiment and was posted to Gallipoli where he died on 4th November 1915. Richard is also commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway Remembers (ISBN 978-0-9929891-0-1)
Raising money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal