Private

In the British Army, a private (Pte) equates to both OR-1 and OR-2 on the NATO scale, although there is no difference in rank. Privates wear no insignia. Many regiments and corps use other distinctive and descriptive names instead of private, some of these ranks have been used for centuries, others are less than 100 years old.[2] In the contemporary British Armed Forces, the army rank of private is broadly equivalent to able seaman in the Royal Navy, aircraftman, leading aircraftman and senior aircraftman in the Royal Air Force, and marine (Mne) or bandsman, as appropriate equivalent rank in the Royal Marines. The term as a military rank seems to come from the Sixteenth Century when individuals had the privilege of enlisting or making private contracts to serve as private soldiers in military units.

Private Albert Thomas Smith

Pte Albert Thomas Smith, 238006, 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, was reported missing, presumed killed in action, on April 23th, 1918. It was not until June 1919 that a letter to parents George and Sarah Smith, of 31 St Saviour's Crescent, Luton, said the War Office had come to the conclusion that their son must be considered dead.

Albert, born in Luton in late 1892 or early 1893, was employed at the Luton Post Office before enlisting with the Middlesex Regiment and afterwards transferring to the Lancs Fusiliers.

Private Cuthbert William Hall

Pte Cuthbert William Hall, 32392, 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, was reported wounded and missing, and later presumed killed in action in France on March 21st, 1918, at the start of the German spring offensive of that year. He was aged 19 the third of three brothers to die in the war.

At the time of the 1911 Census, Cuthbert plus four brothers, two sisters, father Joseph Henry and stepmother Annie were living at Stockton, Warwickshire, where Cuthbert was born in 1898.

Private Alfred George Cook

Pte Alfred George Cook, 200573, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, died on November 4th, 1918, in hospital at “Afion Farra, Kissar” (Afyonkarahisar), while a prisoner of war of the Turks.
George, as he appears to have been known, had joined the Colours on September 22nd, 1914, and left St Albans with the 1/5th Bedfords for the Gallipoli campaign, during which he was taken ill with dysentery and spent some months in hospital in Egypt.

Private Harry Wright

Pte Harry Wright, 111498, 44th Royal Fusiliers, died from pneumonia in the No 30 General Hospital at Calais on February 18th, 1919. He had returned to France from home leave on February 8th, and was admitted to hospital four days later. He had been expecting his discharge from the Army.

Private Archibald George Dimmock

Pte Archibald George Dimmock, 43069, 2nd Battalion Northants Regiment, died on February 16th, 1919, in the 55th General Hospital, Boulogne, suffering from broncho-pneumonia. He was aged 27 and had one wound stripe.

A son of Annie Dimmock, of 32 Albert Road, Luton, Archibald had attested under the Derby scheme while working on munitions at Chaul End. Early in 1916 he joined the Bedfords, with whom he went through the Battle of the Somme.

Private Bertram Wood

Pte Bertram Wood, 41662, 8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, died as a prisoner of war in the Crossen Camp hospital at Kaehmen in Germany on October 22nd, 1918. The cause of death was influenza – inflammation of the lungs, as his Red Cross report stated. He was aged 29.

Private Ernest James Linger

Pte James Ernest Linger, 60826, 8th Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), was reported missing at Cambrai in France on November 30th, 1917. In January 1919 his widow Elizabeth in Luton was still seeking information about him in the hope returning prisoners of war may have encountered him, but the War Office had by then presumed he had died in action at Cambrai.

Private William Johnson

Pte William Johnson, 269206, 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, was killed in action on April 28th, 1918, during the German spring offensive. He was aged 33.

William's death appears to have gone unrecorded in local newspapers, although he is commemorated on the Luton Roll of Honour and in the Book of Life compiled at Luton Parish Church.

Private Henry Bunyan MM

Pte Henry Bunyan MM, 33018, 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, was killed in action in the battle of the Lys in Flanders on April 26th, 1918, when the Allies were about to halt the German spring offensive of 1918.

He had joined the 5th Bedfords (3666) just before the outbreak of war and was mobilised when hostilities began. After being drafted to France he fought at Ypres, Arras, Messines and on the Somme. He gained his Military Medal for bravery in the field in October 1917.

Private William Cherry

Pte William Cherry, 34425, 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment, was killed in action on April 9th, 1917. Sadly, no reports about him were carried in local newspapers at the time.

He is commemorated on the Luton Roll of Honour, with an address at 22 Elizabeth Street, Luton. His military records show he was born in Wilstead, Beds, in around 1887, and left a widow, Edith.

The Green's Brewery Roll of Honour carries the name of a W. Cherry, an employee who died in the war, and a W. Cherry was also named on the Christ Church Roll of Honour.

Private George Simpson

Pte George Simpson, 29812, 7th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment, died in France on November 18th, 1918, from wounds sustained in action nine days previously.

George had previously served with the Royal Engineers (1346) from 1914 but was discharged as medically unfit in March 1916. He was recalled to the colours and had served with the West Surreys for seven months before his death.

A chaplain wrote to widow Lilian at her family home at 12 Bolton Road, Luton, that her husband had been buried with full military honours at Rouen in France.

Private Frederick William Kirby

Pte Frederick William Kirby, 18560, 54th Divisional Army Cyclist Corps, died from malaria in the 17th General Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt, on November 16th, 1918. He had been admitted dangerously ill on October 15th, appeared to be out of danger by November 3rd, but relapsed on November 9th, leading to his death a week later.

Private William James Goodman

Pte William James Goodman, 78161, 9th Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) was killed in action at Epehy in France on September 21st, 1918. He was aged 18.

Born in Luton in 1899, he was the eldest son of Arthur and Kate Goodman, of 58 Frederic Street, Luton. He had five sisters and two brothers, and at the time of the 1911 Census was a schoolboy.

William is commemorated on the Luton Roll of Honour/War Memorial and in the Book of Life compiled at Luton Parish Church.

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