Memories and Obituaries of Foxearth people

who fought in the First World War

Foxearth & District Local History Society

A search through the archives and the memories of old villagers, prompted by studying the list of Foxearth people on the War Memorial who served in the First World War.

"I dream of the dead that we left back there half-buried. Will I end up the same way? Death is acceptable, certainly, but this oblivion; this abandonment, this anonymity. Yes, I accept death, but I hope for witnesses. Yet, here we disappear among a multitude of events, among thousands of men pulverised by the force of shrapnel. Do we have to add abnegation to humility?"

Gabriel Roissy 1915.

The First World War memorial

People from Foxearth who served in the First World War



these notes are from the memories of Doris Sandford, Reg Chinnery and Bernard Mason

Thomas Albon, who came to Foxearth from Hartest before the war to drive one of the first lorries for Ward was later David Ward's chauffeur and lived first at the cottages on the T junction just before Bellybones and later in one of the cottages built near David Ward's house.

F. Allen -no information

Private Alfred J. Arbon M.T.- A.S.C. was killed and H. F. D. Arbon his brother lived in cottages opposite Foxearth Hall-Herbert Arbon was afterwards roadman and Cliff Arbon's father.

J. T. Bailey lived at Red Cottages and worked at Brook Hall.

George Balaam was a shepherd for Lambert at Foxearth Hall and lived in cottages in Huntsman's Lane where the Spender family now live. He afterwards lived in the Lodge House at Liston and was cowman for Lambert at Liston Place Farm.

A. Bowers lived at Bradfields and worked for J. P. Brand at Bradfields

H. G. Butcher-probably born at Pentlow Street on the site where the bungalow stands now (Percy's brother?).

D. A. Byford whose family lived at Chapel House and was killed in the war, on the war memorial as P.O. David Byford R.N.A.S.

Nurse Ilenee Carter who died while serving as a military nurse at Ipswich and contracted "cerebrospinal" . She was the twin daughter of Mr and Mrs H. S. Carter and lived in the thatched house opposite the bus shelter. her father was brewer at Ward And Sons.

Driver Alban Chinnery was killed and brothers Albert and brother Frank (Dick) lived with their parents at Bellybones. Frank or Dick as he was always known as won the military medal and was the father of Cedric and Dessie-after the war he worked at Masons Farm and the brewery and lived in the house next to the village hall. Herbert Chinnery was probably a brother as well.

F. T. Chinnery (Fred) and T. W. Chinnery (Tom) were brothers and lived where Barley House now stands in the old post office, They were both brewery workers when I knew them, Tom living at the top of Rodbridge Hill somewhere and Fred living opposite bus shelter.

Private George Chambers of the Suffolk Regiment was killed and Private John Chambers also. Tom Chambers and William Chambers served and the family lived in Huntsmans Lane in a house which is now Derek Spender's garden. Tom Chambers at one time lived in Foxearth Hall Cottages and worked for Brand at Huntsmans. I knew Bill Chambers as he worked for Brand at Pentlow in my time. (G.H.)

M. H. Cook or Teddy as he was always known had been a horse drawn dray driver and lived in the thatched cottage now known as Cook's Cottage. Originating from Melford he had four sons and two daughters- Jack who lived here at Red Cottages and was gardener at Brook Hall for most of his life-Tom who lived at Melford- Henry who married and lived in Scotland. The two daughters I did not know much about.

Reg Crump was a "white coat" at Stafford Allen's and lived at Red House "Carbonells".

the Danes brothers -Archie was afterwards a baker at Melford-Arthur was his brother and they lived in the cottage in front of the school.

Arthur Deal or "Doyten" when I knew him was horseman for Jack Ewer and lived at lived at Claypits Cottages-Fred Deal at lived at Constables-Sid Deal was Alfred Deal's son and afterwards lived at Acton.

B. L. Evans, C. S. Evans, E. V. J. Evans were the sons of Sam Evans (blacksmith) and lived at what is now Mole End opposite Lower Hall. Basil was afterwards blacksmith-Cecil and Eric were in the navy.

Rev. Kendrick Foster was the nephew of Rev John Foster and had served as a padre in France.

J .T. Gibbons ?

Percy and Sid Gridley brothers-Percy lived in the top council house when I knew him and Sid had lost a leg in France.

E. E. Hardy ?

F. E. Harper was a brewery foreman-mineral waters.

H. L. Hudson lived at what is now Mole-End and afterwards at Glemsford, Ron Mansfield's uncle.

A. V. Inch-Vic was well known as a brewery lorry driver and barman at the working mens' club and lived in my time in the house immediately beside the brewery.-

B. R. Inch ?

C. H. Leggot D.C.M.?

C. S. Leggot?

L. S. Leggot D.S.M.(Len) was a Navy man

R. S. Leggot ?

B. F. P. Mansfield (Bernard) and W. C. Mansfield (Bill) were brothers and then lived in what is now Pipers Cottage. They both worked at Foxearth Hall for Lambert. Bernard was Ron's father and Bill was Pam and Brian's father. Bill lived at Liston Church Cottages and Bernard lived where the Spenders do now.

F. Marshal ?

F. W. Martin (Francis) and his father W. Martin (Walter) both served and lived in the cottage next to Spenders. I worked with Francis at Brook Hall for a lot of years and Walter had been a drayman with the horses at Ward's.

Fred Maxim was the father of Doris Sandford and Fred Maxim. Fred had lived in several houses including Red Cottages and opposite the bus shelter. Fred had been wounded in the mouth by shrapnel in France. Harry Maxim was Fred's brother and had lost a leg in France.

November 29th 1916

Suffolk and Essex casualties. Maxim 26756 L-Cpl Fred of Foxearth


Harold Mayhew was the eldest of the four Mayhew brothers who lived at Bradfields farm, Harold was a motor lorry driver and lived in London afterwards. Vivian Mayhew died in France. Oliver Mayhew had been a steam lorry driver at the brewery and mechanic. Stanley Mayhew lived at Hawks farm in my time, worked at the brewery and had been gassed in the war.

G. Mills ?

H. J. Mills?

J. A. Oakley was a Melford man and lived in Piper's cottage at the time of the war but afterwards opposite the school (Oakley's). He worked at Lambert's and at the airfield at Acton and afterwards was roadman in the village.

W. T. L. Piper (Picky) was an old man when I knew him and lived in Piper's Cottage he had been a brewery man.

W. Plumb lived at Huntsman's cottages and was killed. He was Fred Plumb's brother. His nephew Albert Plumb told me that he was working on Huntsman's cottages perhaps during the sixties when the postman arrived with a letter addressed to his grandfather (W. Plumb's) father from the war graves commission asking permission to move W. Plumb's grave in France.

T. Plumb killed in France.

E. F. Pryke, J. Pryke and G. Pryke lived at Hawkes Farm and probably worked at Brook Hall. G. Pryke was killed in France.

F. Ramsey and J. Ramsey's parent's had lived in the Brewery house and afterwards Fred Ramsey lived at Bellybones.

H. L. Steggles, father of Stanley Steggles and Kath Claydon, in my time lived where Kath does now.

Fred Woods was David Ward's gardener in my time and lodged at the school house.

Albert Wright lived in Huntsman's lane (Spender's).

G. B. Ward (Major) M.C. and bar was David Ward's eldest and was killed when shot down in his aircraft. Harold who I knew well and lived in my time at Lower hall and was owner of the brewery.

April 14th 1915

Mr G.B.Ward, son of Mr D.Ward of Foxearth has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the 9th service battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in the A.S.C.and has gone through eight months of training as private, corporal and sergeant.

Second-Lieut. G.. Bernard Ward
Second-Lieut. G.. Bernard Ward, 9th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, son of Mr. David Ward, of Foxearth, has passed the tests of the. Royal Aero Club, and qualified for his pilot's- certificate at Hendon last week. He was granted six weeks' leave to take, a course of instruction in flying at the London and Provincial Flying School,.. Hendon, and secured his pilot's certificate (No. 1,590) after only nine days instruction. The aeroplane used for the test flights was a 45 h.p, Caudron. tractor biplane. Lieut. Ward now intends to transfer to the Royal Flying Corps

December 1st 1915

The visit of Mr Bernard Ward of Foxearth who flew from Farnborough on Friday afternoon, created great interest in the Foxearth, Sudbury, Melford, Lyston and adjacent villages. Mr Ward setting an example to many who are claiming to be" indispensible", joined the army in the early stages of the war and is now an efficient " man-bird". Aeroplanes have been seen from time to time passing in the vicinity of the town, but none have flown over the town as this one did. The throb of the engine was distinct as that of a motor cycle a street or so away. He flew low to salute the inhabitants of Sudbury no doubt, and they were out in crowds, for they knew who it was. After giving Sudbury a greeting, the machine sped off to Lyston, where numerous friends were awaiting. He alighted gracefully in the park at Lyston. On Saturday he made several flights over Melford and Sudbury, encircling several times. A large crowd was in the park, morning and afternoon to see the ascent and descent, and to inspect the machine at close quarters. Mr Ward took to the air again on Sunday, and manoeuvred the machine over Melford and adjoining parishes, and left for Hendon in the afternoon with the best wishes from his numerous friends.

May 24 th 1916

2nd Lieutenant G.B.Ward of the North Staffordshire Regiment and The Royal Flying Corps is promoted to Captain and Flight Commander. Capt.Ward has had very successful career, as only in August of last year he was taught to fly at the London and Provincial Private Flying School of Aviation and secured his his ticket of efficiency in almost record time of nine days, he was seconded for duty with the Royal Flying Corps in September and has been serving in France since last February. We are sure Capt.Ward carries with him the best wishes and hearty congratulations of the whole district for his future well being and success.

November 29th 1916

Captain and Flight Commander G.B.Ward has been awarded the Military Cross. Tuesday's Times contained the following notice.
Military Cross--Second Lieutenant (Temp.Capt.) G.B.Ward.
General List.---For conspicious gallantry in action. He flew over the enemy lines at a height of 100 feet under heavy fire, and carried out a very successful artillery reconnaissance, he has previously done very fine work. He is a Old Malverian and a member of Birmingham University.

February 14th 1917

The " Times" contains the following notice.
February 3rd- Captain and Flight Commander G.B.Ward D.F.C., to be Major and Squadron Commander. General List, December 27th, 1916.

Major G. B. Ward, M.C.

Major G. B. Ward, M.C., Squadron Commander R.F.C., who was killed in action on September 21st, was the eldest son of Mr. David Ward, Lower Hall, Foxearth, Essex. He was killed in an aerial fight with four hostile scouts over the German lines, but his machine fell in the British lines and his body was recovered. His machine was completely smashed, and he died without regaining consciousness. His rapid promotion from a private to; a Major in under three years alone speaks volumes for the ability of this brilliant young officer. It may be stated that on his promotion to the rank of Major he was not per- mitted to fly over the enemy lines as his Colonel was afraid or losing him, but he begged so hard and was so keen that he was afterwards given permission to do so. Only a few : weeks ago he was awarded a bar to his Military Cross for . the splendid organisation and effective work of his squadron. He was twenty-six years of age and was an old Sudbury Grammar School boy. On leaving there he went to Malvern to complete his education. Later he obtained his diploma in brewing at the University School of Brewing, Birmingham, under Professor Adrian Brown, where he showed marked ability. During the years that he was at Foxearth he was most popular, not only in the parish but in the surrounding district, for he threw himself ardently into all kinds of sport and into any good movement. At Foxearth he was instrumental in establishing the recreation ground and club, took a keen interest in the church and the schools and the children, and at dramatic entertainments and concerts in the: parish and the district was always to the fore. Major Ward joined the Army as a private in the Mechanical Transport at Bury St. Edmund's at the commencement of the war, taking a large number of the Foxearth lads with him. A year later he received his commission as Second Lieutenant and transferred to the North Staffords. From there he went to the private school of aviation at Hendon, where he secured his certificate of proficiency in the almost record time of nine days. He then joined the Royal Flying Corps, and has been on active service in France ever since. In December last he was awarded the Military Cross "for conspicuous gallantry in action. He flew over the enemy's lines at a height of 1,000 feet under heavy fire, and carried out a very successful artillery reconnaissance. He has previously done very fine work." He not only performed most useful observation, but brought down a number of enemy machines.

October 3rd 1917.



It was no mere curiosity that brought the parishioners together, and numerous visitors from the neighbourhood along the roads and across the stubble fields to the quiet little church at Foxearth on Sunday afternoon to the memorial service for Major George Bernard Ward, M.C. R.F.C., and the other sons of Foxearth, mentioned hereafter, who have given their lives for King and Country.

It was a glorious afternoon - glowing sun lighting up the landscape, and bringing into relief the Autumn tints here and there on tree and hedge. Above, the white clouds piled mountain on mountain in a setting of clear blue.

No sounds but the humming insects and the distant mournful tones of the muffled bells. As the visitors pass along the churchyard path, lined with cypresses, they stop at a grave opposite the church door to look at the flowers and incriptions.
On his mother's tombstone is a laurel wreath with the M.C. colours, below the grave mound a large white cross, at the foot of it "the wings" in scarlet carnations with violets and white blossoms in the centre, these bearing the R.F.C. ribbon and inscription:- "In memory of our darling boy." Other emblems are inscribed "In loving memory, from E.G.F and B.E.A., " "in loving memory of and old friend, (Mr A.Bailey, Bishops Stortford)".
There came to mind those lines by Gerald Massey, written at another time when England had "swooned beneath the kiss of Peace, and launguished in her long, voluptuous dream, while weed like creatures crept along her path"

Twice a garland for the brave
Of our Beautiful, our Brave
And their names in glory grave
Who have died for us
High the battle banner wave
They have perished but to save
They have leapt a Curlish grave
In their pride for us

The church is nearly full, but still there are many waiting. The Sudbury, Cavendish, Melford, Glemsford and Foxearth Volunteers file in and are given places in the chancel.
The officers were Brigadier General Coxhead, C.B.. Captain Rumball, Lieutenant Mattingly, Lieutenant Hutchinson, Commander Lord, Sergeant Pettit, etc. While the organist, Mr F.C.Cundy, plays Basil Hardwood's Requiem Aeternam, the remainder of the congregation are being accomodated, but when the service commences there are still many standing and yet many who cannot gain admission.
The family mourners were:- Mr and Mrs Ward, Lieutenant Harold Ward, Miss Madge Ward, Mr and Mrs Saunt. There were also present Mrs Foster, Mrs Game (Glemsford), Mr and Mrs J.Campbell Lambert, Mr and Mrs T.Leggot and family, Mr and Mrs Watkinson (Sudbury), Mr C.F.Marsh, Pentlow. Mrs and Miss Ewer, Mr Ewer, Mr and Mrs H.H.Baker, Mr and Mrs S.B.Baker, Mr and Mrs F.Boggis, Doctor and Mrs Ritchie, Miss Bull, Mr Jh violets and white blossoms in the centre, these bearing the R.F.C. ribbon and inscription:- "In memory of our darling boy." Other emblems are inscribed "In loving memory, from E.G.F and B.E.A., " "in loving memory of and old friend, (Mr A.Bailey, Bishops Stortford)".

Commorated:-Vivian Mayhew, who died on foreign service; William Plumb, who was killed in action, Richard Evans, Iilene Carter, who gave her life as a nurse and was buried here: Stephen Argent, killed in action, Raymond Armes, who though not belonging to this parish, so often played the organ here; and three who who have recently given their lives, -David Byford, A.Chinnery and Major Ward.

The lesson, 1st Cor.xv.20, was read, and then followed a portion of the committal rites. The hymns sung were "On the resurrection morning" and "For all the Saints who from their labours rest", which was the young officer's favourite. Psalm xci was chanted, Following the singing of the Nunc Dimittis, and a moments silence, the buglers outside sounded the "Last Post". Then was sung the National Anthem, and after prayers, the service came to an end by the organist playing"O rest in the Lord". At the morning service the rector made feeling allusion to the death of Major Ward. After the evening service Mr Cundy played Chopin's"Marche Funabre", the other voluntaries morning and evening being, "But the Lord is mindful""Blest are the departed".and a slow movement from Mendelssons sonate.

Lieutenant-Colonel Carthew, Commanding -- Wing, R.F.C., after referring to the difficulty of putting into words the sad news he has to write, says:


your son was killed in a fight with four hostile scouts today. His machine fell in our lines, and we recovered his body, but he died without regaining consciousness. His observer, Campbell, tried to land the machine, but it was completely smashed, and the observer sustained a compound fracture of the skull and I am afraid he is not likely to recover. Nothing that I can say to you will adequately convey to you the true sense of the deep affection and respect which all of us who worked with him and were privileged to know him well, entertained for your son. He has been in my Wing since he first took command of No--Squadron, and has proved himself one of the best and most efficient, as well as one of the most popular, Squadron Commanders I have ever known in our Corps. As you know he loved his work. He has given you every right to be proud of him, and his loss to us is irreparable. For myself, I mourn him not only as a Squadron Commander but as a close personal friend of whom I was very fond, and I ask you to accept this tribute to him as an expression of heartfelt sympathy which is, believe me deep and heartfelt."

Reverend Bernard W.Keymer, R.F.C. Chaplain, writes:-

I feel I would like to write to you just a line to tell you how deeply we all sympathise with you in a loss which we all know from our knowledge of him must be a severe one. Of all the officers I have known in the R.F.C., there is none for whom I have a greater admiration and respect, and I may say love, than I had for your son.
Ever since I came to the R.F.C.last February he has been kindness itself to me, doing all he possibly could to help me to do my work and make arrangements for services, and on several ocassions he has got up early in order to fly over and take me in his machine to other Squadrons for services.
Nothing seemed too much trouble for him to do if he could help men to do their work and keep them cheery, and his noble and gallant example has been an inspiration to us all.
I knew him very well, and it was always such a delight to talk to him about his officers, and he took the deepest possible interest in the character as well the work of each one of them. He was to my mind an ideal R.F.C.Commanding Officer, and his place will be hard to fill. Always humble, fearless, and full of cheerfulness, it did one real good to meet him, and I shall miss him sorely.
We laid him to rest in the little British cemetery at Choques last Saturday, and the wonderful gathering of officers and men showed how loved and honoured he was. May God comfort you in your great loss."

Commanding Officer R.D.W.KIng, writes, referring to the funeral, which he attended and which was very immpressive:-

The whole of his Squadron were there and many other Officers, and one of his aeroplanes circled overhead during the service. I feel I should like to express to you how much we feel the loss of your son in the Corps. He was a most gallant soldier, and a universal favourite; and had one of the smartest and best Squadrons in the Army, due to his fine power of command. We all had the greatest admiration and affection for him and recognised that he was one of the best types of British soldier. I can only add I can sympathize most deeply with you in your great loss, because I am sure none have had a better son. He was a personal friend of mine, which is my reason for taking the liberty of writing to you.

Captain Warwick W.London, R.F.C.;writing to the"Free Press"says:-

He was a great friend of mine, and all of us in the Squadron, and the last man the Flying Corps could afford to lose. Perhaps the attached little memento to him may interest you and his many friends in Suffolk.

Friend, the time has come,
The great God has called thee;
Thine, their sitting dumb,
Whispering tearfully.

I gazed into thy grave,
Earth's poor finality;
And you looked back, and gave
Contentment, smilingly.

Thine was the valiant end,
Fearless and purposeful;
Thou would'st thy spirit's trend,
Follow on masterful.

Great is the thing they hold,
Now thou hast gone;
Keep this, the spirit bold,
Carry on, Carry on.

We ask, beside the dead,
"God, why so soon?"
Mine is the greater need,
His work's well done


Another officer, and chaplain, Rev.Kenneth A.Lake, also wrote in similar terms, one saying :

"He was a magnificent pilot, absolutely fearless, and ready to tackle the enemy under any circumstances and often with great success."

With regard to his squadron, /p>

"without any effort or high handed manner, everything was carried on with the highest efficiency and moved, as it were, on oiled wheels. We lose a good friend and comrade, and the Army an officer of the best and most valuable type.
I wish you could have been present at his funeral on Saturday. It would have proved to you the great esteem in which he was held by all-----all officers of his unit and practically all the men were present, including the General Commanding, staff and other officers also a number of French civilians.
Mr Keymer, R.F.C. Padre, took the service, after which all the officers and men filed by the grave and gave the last salute.
There were several beautiful crosses and wreaths given by the Officers, non commissioned Officers, corporals and mechanics, etc.

The late Major Ward was a member of the choir, also of the company of bellringers, and Vice-President of the village club. As a trbute to his memory the ringers rang muffled peals both before and after the service.

At the meeting of the Board of Guardians on Thursday, the Chairman, Mr F.Knott, in feeling terms, referred to the death of Major Ward, who was a son to be proud. They in the district had always taken a great interest in his career, as he was partly educated in the neighbourhood. He was a daring and dashing young officer, and one the country could ill afford to lose. He moved a vote of condolence with the relatives. Mr G.J.Coe seconded, and the members passed the vote by rising.

January 9th 1918.


The following poem written to the memory of the late Major G.B.Ward, M.C. R.F.C., recently appeared in the special aviation number of "Country Life". It is subscribed by the Colonel and Wing Commander of the late Major Ward's Squadron.

G. B. W., R. F. C.

(Killed in action, September 21st 1917)

I shall remember, Friend of mine, the day
We walked for hours, and I still hear you say
"Lapins, I love-and the warm breeze of Spring":

Bluebells and pools, and sand and everything
That's clean and fresh. Paddling in pools-the sun
And taking 'Billy'for a run".

Could I but hear you laugh and see your smile,
Or touch your hand and talk to you awhile,
And reconstruct those plans as oft before,
Those wondrous schemes for life "after the war".

You steeled yourself--and laughed at shot and shell
(You played the game magnificently well)
I shall remember to my dying day
You gave your life-to help show the way.

To-night is fine-a full moon and the sky
Is filled with stars. Your almost sure to fly.
Tand fresh.Paddling in pools-the sun
And taking 'Billy'for a run".

Could I but hear you laugh and see your smile,
Or touch your hand and talk to you awhile,
And reconstruct those plans as oft before,
Those wondrous schemes for life "after the war".

You steeled yourself--and laughed at shot and shell
(You played the game magnificently well)
I shall remember to my dying day
You gave your life-to help show the way.

To-night is fine-a full moon and the sky
Is filled with stars. Your almost sure to fly.
The hum of your machine will soon pass by.
Do you remember all those wondrous nights?
The fun we had with navigation lights
And when returning from the East to West
Far overhead you'd flash a merry jest!

But all is still--there is not a sound, and I
Remember that somewhere in France you lie
Asleep. In Gonnenhem--it is close by..

Oh! France--Great Mother--You who watch their sleep.
We thank you--and our gratitude is deep
For the great vigil you so reverently keep.