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Category: 1914-1918

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Some Corner of a Foreign Field

1st November 2015 | 1914-1918

Over the months since the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, the Chronicle has been telling the stories of local men who served their country. Some came back to the villages and their lives here; others did not return. As the generations go by, the longing to find out what happened to family members and to pay respect to their memory does not diminish. In June, Glyn Hatfield wrote about Harry Holyoak, one of the very first volunteers from Kibworth, and the discovery of his headstone in France. This month, we include the account that Hayley Welby gave at the memorial service at Burton Overy Church of how she was inspired to research her own family’s experiences in the Great War and to find the final resting places of her great-grandfather and two of his brothers.

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The Great War Private Joseph Henry Higgs of Smeeton Westerby

1st June 2015 | 1914-1918

Joseph, sitting in the higher chair above, was born at Mowsley in 1884. At the age of 7 he was living at Desford along with many other family members. At the time of the 1911 census Joseph’s mother, Eliza, is recorded as having been born at Shearsby. Joseph was a carrier, his sister, Sarah, a dressmaker and his brother, Edwin, a cabinet maker. There were three other children who had left home. His brother, Alfred, owned a bakery behind the cottages between Beaker Close and the church in Smeeton Westerby. Joseph’s father, also named Joseph had passed away earlier. He was also a carrier to markets.

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‘Some Corner of a Foreign Field’

1st June 2015 | 1914-1918

Since the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, the Chronicle has recounted the experiences of local men who served their country. Some, like Maynard Ward and Len Capell, returned safely, though changed forever. Others, such as Harold Kirk and Tom Brutnell, did not return. Their families mourned them then and their loss is still felt today. Accounts of journeys to find out what grandfathers or great-uncles endured and where they are buried are often very poignant. As one writer says “The effects of war are like everlasting ripples in a pond. As the generations pass we will remember John and the sacrifice he made.”

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Experiences of the Great War: Leonard Hall Capell of Smeeton Westerby

4th January 2015 | 1914-1918

On 1 September 1914 Len enlisted, just after finishing his apprenticeship. He joined the Leicestershire Regiment and took part in the assault on the Hohenzollen Redoubt, a massive German earthwork, during the Battle of Loos in 1915. The area was covered with mines and slag heaps and accounts of the battle indicate that there was a shortage of shells. Smoke and chlorine gas were used to compensate but these had only a limited effect. In addition, reserves were held too far back to provide support for the soldiers. The local white chalk made the British trenches conspicuous to the enemy on higher ground and the Leicesters suffered many casualties, of whom almost half were killed or died of their wounds.

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Experiences of the Great War: George Simons of Kibworth

2nd January 2015 | 1914-1918

In response to the article in the December Chronicle about George Maynard Ward, Jill Holmes of Deeping St James writes that her grandfather George Simons was one the men he joined up with. George had his medical examination at Market Harborough in April 1917, ten days before his 18th birthday. He was in the Reserves until 16 May and next day enlisted in Leicester. Later the two men went their separate ways. Evidence from photographs suggests that George Simons did his training at Clipstone Camp near Mansfield in Nottingham. In 1918, after training, he was sent to Étaples in France and was posted to the 15/17th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. He later joined the 9th Battalion in the field. He came through the war unharmed and returned to England in February 1919 for demobilisation.

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