Corporal StripesOriginally referred to a reliable veteran called the capo de'squadra or head of the square. The title changed to caporale by the Sixteenth Century and meant the leader of a small body of soldiers. The French picked up the term in about the Sixteenth Century and pronounced it in various ways, one of them being corporal, which indicates a mixing with the Latin word corpus or French corps (body). The British adopted corporal in the Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century and it has been a part of the army ever since. The British gave the Corporal his two stripes when they started using chevrons in 1803.

Corporal Alfred Edward Bertram Burgess

Cpl Alfred Edward Bertram Burgess, 204386, 12th Battalion East Surrey Regiment, died in a dressing station on August 1st*, 1917, from wounds sustained while serving in a trench in Flanders.

A letter from his Captain to parents Edward and Elizabeth Clara Burgess in Luton said their son had been badly wounded in the trench and died of wounds in the dressing station. He had been conscious for only a few minutes after a shell burst and he passed away despite all being done for him that could be. [*The letter indicated that death had occurred on July 31st].

Corporal Vincent William George Ivory

Cpl Vincent William George Ivory, 25690, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in Belgium on July 26th, 1917. He was aged 24 and single.

He had enlisted in the Beds Regiment in January 1916 and a year later was drafted to France. Before joining the Forces he was employed by hat materials merchant J. Briggs & Co, of King Street, Luton.

Corporal Bertie Breed

Bertie Breed was born in 1882, 1 of 8 children born to William & Mary Ann.

In 1891 he is a 10 year old school boy & is living with his family 192 High Town Road. His father William is 41 years old & working at the Gas Stove factory, his 41 year old mother Mary is a straw hat sewer, at home whilst looking after 4 year old Eunice & 2 year old Sidney. His 14 year old brother Ernest is working as a servant boy.

Corporal Bertie Breed

Cpl Bertie Breed, 200662, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in Palestine on July 20th, 1917 - in a battle with a growing casualty list described by the Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph as almost, if not quite, as severe as that in the struggle on the Gallipoli Peninsular.

Bertie Breed had also fought at Gallipoli and was wounded in the leg in the August 15th, 1915, charge there. The wound meant he was in hospital for three months in Cairo, underwent three operations and became ill with dysentery.

Corporal Sidney Francis Waring

Sidney Francis Waring was born in Luton in October 1884.

In July 1911 he married May Camp in Luton.

Sidney enlisted into the 5th Bedfordshire Regiment & was posted to Gallipoli.

Sidney died at Brighton Military Hospital on 26th March 1916 from meningitis following his wounds received in Gallipoli.

He is buried in the cemetery on Rothesay Road.

Corporal Ralph Marshall


Cpl Ralph Marshall, 31508, 6th Brigade Machine Gun Corps, died in the 16th General Hospital in France on April 22nd, 1917, from wounds received in action two weeks earlier. He was aged 22.

His fiancee, Lily Wildman, had been granted a permit to travel from Luton to France to be with him in his final hours. The couple had planned to marry when Ralph was next on leave, but that never happened. Lily was living with Ralph's parents, John and Elizabeth, at 44 Cambridge Street, Luton.

Corporal Sydney Arthur Smart


Cpl Sydney Arthur Smart, 33269, 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, died on April 6th, 1917, from wounds sustained in France. He was aged 24 and left a widow, Bertha May (nee Harper), living at 46 St Saviours Crescent Luton.

A Chaplain wrote to Mrs Smart to inform her that her husband had been brought into a Casualty Clearing Station at about midnight very badly wounded and, although everything possible was done for him, he passed peacefully away at 5.30am.

Corporal Leonard Euinton


Cpl Leonard Euinton, 32990, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France by a minenwerfer [trench mortar] on March 16th, 1917. He was aged 28.

A chaplain wrote that he had been killed while holding a post in a front trench. His death must have been instantaneous as the part of the trench in which he was on duty was blown in. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery near the line he was defending, in the presence of a number of his comrades.

Corporal Edwin Francis Smart


Cpl Edwin Francis 'Teddy' Smart, 233570, 2nd Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), died on February 11th, 1917, from wounds sustained the previous day on a Flanders battlefield. Less than a month earlier he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for what he had described as "doing something in the field".

Corporal Alec Walter Harris


Cpl Alec Walter Harris, 23642, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in the valley of the River Ancre on the Somme on February 4th, 1917. He was just 25 and single.

Born in Luton in 1892, he was the son of labourer Albert and straw hat machinist Selina Harris, of 23 Jubilee Street, Luton. Alec (Alic on his birth registration) was the couple's four son.

Corporal Frederick Victor Wesley


Cpl Frederick Victor Wesley, 22310, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action on on the Somme on January 26th, 1917. He was aged 27.

Sadly, the only mention of him around the time os his death seems to have been a roll of honour notice placed in the Luton News by his sister Cassey on behalf of younger brother Percy and relatives.

Corporal William George Muckleston

William George Muckleston was born in 1884 in Sundon, Bedfordshire.

In June 1907 William married Annie Jane Brown.

In 1911 William is 27 years old, working as a labourer in Forder's Cement Works & living with his young family in Sundon. Annie is 23 & at home looking after their 3 year old son Arthur William & 1 year old daughter Ida Mabel.

Daughter Vera Nellie was born in 1915.

Corporal Herbert Henry Strange


Cpl Herbert Henry Strange, 18463, 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme on October 18th, 1916. He was aged 31.

Born in Calne, Wiltshire, in 1885, he married Elizabeth Jarvis, from Markyate who was then living in Russell Street, Luton, in Luton in 1909. Living at 7 Dunstable Place, they had three children - Phyliss, born 1909, Herbert in 1911 and Arthur, born in 1914, just two months before his father enlisted in January 1915.

Corporal William John Andrews


Cpl William John Andrews, 22020, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in an attack on the Schwaben Redoubt, near Thiepval on the Somme, on September 28th, 1916.

He was aged 17 and not legally compelled to have been on the battlefield. He was also wearing two stripes to indicate that he had previously been wounded.

Corporal Percy Bertram Stimson


Cpl Percy Bertram Stimson, 2723, 24th Battalion London Regiment (The Queen's) is recorded as dying of wounds on September 17th, 1916. But a sergeant who wrote to his parents said he had been seen by comrades to be wounded during a charge on September 18th but was not among the men picked up by his regiment's stretcher bearers.

Cpl Stimson, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday six weeks before his death, was the son of Frank and Annie Stimson, of 45 Alma Street, Luton. He had been employed in the warehouse of Messrs Vyse, Sons and Co.


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