Private Herbert BESWICK

Bedfordshire Regiment
(Formerly: Leicestershire Regiment)
2nd Battalion
Service Number:
(Formerly: 48129 Leicestershire Regiment)
Date of Death:
6 August 1918 - Killed in Action
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
VIII. J. 13.

Personal History:

Herbert was born in the June quarter 1883, the son of William and Millicent (née Street) Beswick, of Burbage, Buxton. He had an older sister, Annie, and an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Georgina. Herbert's father, William, died 1890 and in 1901 (Census RG 13/2779) Millicent and her children were living with her father and her brothers at 'Washbrook', Burbage.
In the September quarter 1910 he married Rosalind B. Jones. The following year (1911 Census RG 14/16019) they were living at Coppice Old Park, Dawley, Shropshire with Rosalind's parents, Enoch and Annie. Herbert was employed as a "General Labourer". They had a daughter, Millicent, in the March quarter 1912, a son, Gilbert, in the June quarter 1913 and another son, Sidney, in the September quarter 1915

Military History:
Herbert enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment at Derby. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War in France after 1915, as he was not eligible for the 1914/15 Star Medal. His Service papers have not survived and without them it is not possible to say when he transferred to The Bedfordshire Regiment.

It is possible that Herbert would have been an original 110th Brigade man who was wounded, possibly 14th July 1916 on the Somme, and then re-numbered 48129 when he returned to the Leicesters. This being the case, he would have originally enlisted towards the end of August 1914 and gone over to France on the 29th July 1915, although his MIC disputes that. [Regimental Number 48121 was also transferred to the Bedfords, so it looks as if a batch of Leicesters were transferred.]

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was in Pretoria in South Africa in August 1914, returning to England, landing at Southampton on the 19th September 1914 and were attached to 21st Brigade, 7th Division. On 19th December 1915 the Battalion moved with the 21st Brigade to 30th Division and then transferred to 89th Brigade. On 11th February 1918 it transferred again - to 90th Brigade, in same Division, and on 22nd May 1918 transferred to 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division.

At the beginning of August 1918 the Battalion was occupying reserve trenches along the Bray-Corbie Road, west of Etinehem. On the 5th they were relieved by the 10th London Regiment, immediately moving to relieve the 8th East Surrey Regiment in the front line. The relief was to take place at 10.00 p.m., but progress was slow and at 3.30 a.m. the following day, the 6th, the Germans attacked and penetrated in several positions.

A Report of the action by Lieutenant A. F. Woodford (see Footnote below) attached to War Diary, relates considerable confusion and delay in facilitating the reliefs. The Report goes on:

"At 4.00 a.m. the enemy put down a heavy barrage on the old British front line, all communication trenches and back areas which was followed by a strong Infantry attack at about 4.30 a.m.

SITUATION 4.45 a.m. My two right Companies had been relieved and were moving to their new positions in Support in COOLGARDIE TRENCH and GOBAR TRENCH N. of the COOTAMUNDRA TRENCH (communication) in the 55th Brigade area.  .........

OPERATIONS. The enemy captured my Outpost Line ...... and penetrated deeply on the front of the Battalion on my left (East Surreys).
....... At 6.00 a.m. I was holding CUMMINS TRENCH ........ to my junction with the London Regiment on my right, which position was maintained until relieved by the 36th Brigade on the night of 7/8th."

Lieutenant Woodward's Report concluded that: "Casualties: 8 Officers, 163 Other Ranks". Of these Herbert was one of the 12 Other Ranks of the 2nd Battalion killed in action during the attack of the 6th August, with four more the following day, and he is buried in Heath Cemetery. Eight of the men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

·  Lieutenant Arthur Francis Woodford was later reported missing, but survived, but died with the Battalion in India on 29 June 1921.
   He is buried in Trimulgherry Cantonment Cemetery and commemorated on the Madras 1914-1918 War Memorial, Chennai.
· I am grateful to Adam Llewellyn for his thoughts on Herbert's transfer to the Bedfordshire Regiment
· I am also grateful to Martin McNeela for the War Diary and History extracts

Link to CWGC Record
Herbert Beswick's grave