Did You Know
From Vol I of the Tutbury Book of Remembrance
The first soldier from Tutbury to die in WWI was Grenadier William Edgar
At least 359 Tutbury men served in WWI, of whom at least 50 died
First to die was Guardsman William Edgar Priestley who died on Christmas Day 1914, aged 22. The legendary 1914 Christmas Truce did not hold everywhere – see No Christmas Truce for what actually happened. William Priestley is buried in the Guards’ Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais
Last to die in the war was Sergeant Alfred J Parker of Cornmill Lane, also aged 22, who died on 31st December 1918 and is buried in Tehran War Cemetery
Youngest to die was Private Tom Merrey, a railway porter at Tutbury Station, aged 17 who is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, having no known grave. 72,191 missing men from the Battle of the Somme are listed on this memorial
Oldest to die were Driver George Causer (buried at St. Mary’s churchyard, Tutbury) and Private George Fearn (remembered on the Arras Memorial), both aged 42
The average age of those from Tutbury who died was 27
Six men died on July 1st 1916 at the battle of Gommecourt Wood on the first day of the battle of the Somme – 228 men of the North Staffords died that day. A further six Tutbury men were to die in the coming months in the Battle of the Somme. Ten of the twelve have no known grave and are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. During the period of the Battle of the Somme, (July 1st to 18th November 1916) five other Tutbury men were killed or died from their wounds in other battles, a total of seventeen over a twenty week period of 1916.
Five of the WWI dead are buried at St. Mary’s, Tutbury, making St. Mary’s an official War Cemetery. There are also 2 WWII graves at St. Mary’s
A number of the dead were from what is now known as Hatton
19 of the dead served in the North Staffords and two in the South Staffords
18 of the dead are remembered on Memorials, having no known grave
The number of Tutbury men who died in each year were 1914 – 1, 1915 -7, 1916-21, 1917-13, 1918-6
106 men of the North Staffords died in 1919, after the Armistice. 72 died in the UK, presumably from wounds, the rest abroad – some from wounds, some in Azerbaijan in the turmoil related to the Russian civil war and 13 in the Third Afghan War.
The largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Britain is the Broockwood Military Cemetery in Surrey. It contains the graves of 5,071 servicemen and further 3,419 names are commemorated on the Broockwood Memorial.
One of the most decorated soldiers of WWI was born in Tatenhill and lived all his life in the Burton area. He was the most decorated other rank of the First World War, but as a stretcher bearer won all his medals without firing a shot. William Harold Coltman was a stretcher bearer with the 1/6 North Staffords.
Prior to any of his decorations he was Mentioned in Despatches for his work.
February 1917 – Military Medal (MM). The award was made for rescuing a wounded officer from no man’s land.
June 1917 – the second Military Medal. This award was for conduct behind the front lines.
July 1917 – the first award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) was made for gallantry over a period of days. Conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in evacuating wounded from the front line at great personal risk under shell fire.
September 1918 – the second award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). On the 28th September, 1918, near the St. Quentin Canal, near Bellenglise, he dressed and carried many wounded men under heavy artillery fire.
3rd and 4th of Oct. 1918 – Victoria Cross (VC) – hearing that wounded had been left behind during a retirement, went forward alone in the face of fierce enfilade fire, found the casualties, dressed them and on three successive occasions, carried comrades on his back to safety, thus saving their lives. This very gallant NCO tended the wounded unceasingly for 48 hours.
He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Army.