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 John Axtell


Cpl Alfred John Axtell, 19/312, 19th Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Pioneers) was killed by an explosive shell on August 23rd, 1916, during the British advance on the Somme.

Born in Dunstable in 1888, he later lived with parents Alfred and Martha Hannah (nee Ramsden) at 19 Biscot Road, Luton, and attended Old Bedford Road Boys' School, where he was a pupil teacher. After attending Westminster Training College, he became an assitant master at an elementary school in County Durham and lodged with a family at Dunston-on-Tyne, near Gateshead.

Corporal Frederick Smith


Cpl Fred Smith, 6289, 2/4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme on July 19th, 1916. He was aged 24 and one of five sons of Thomas George and Sophia Smith, of 73 North Street, Luton, serving with the Colours.

The Rev A. R. Tucker, a Church of England Chaplain, wrote to Mrs Smith to inform her of the death of her son. He wrote: "I have buried him in a cemetery for British troops. A cross will be erected to his memory over the grave."

Corporal Reginald Sydney Buckingham


Cpl Reginald Sydney Buckingham, 17597, 1st Battalion Oxford and Buck Light Infantry, was killed in action while serving in the Persian Gulf on April 6th, 1916. He was aged 22.

The son of Levi and Lily Buckingham, he was born in Tebworth in 1894, and in 1901 was living at 31 Stuart Street, Luton. In April 1914 he married Priscilla Ann Pateman and had a son, Aubrey Reginald, with whom he lived at Dorset Villa, Marsh Road, Leagrave.

Corporal Sydney Francis Waring


Cpl Sydney Francis Waring, 4083, who was wounded in the 1/5th Bedfords charge at Gallipoli on August 15th, 1915, died in the 2nd Eastern General Hospital, Brighton, on March 26th, 1916, following a second operation. He was aged 31 and left widow May and two children living at 26 Elizabeth Street, Luton.

Before the war he was employed at Messrs J. C. Kershaw and Co's hat warehouse in George Street, and was a well-known cricketer who had been in the cricket team that won the Luton and District League in 1914.

Corporal Henry Lewis Hill


Cpl Henry Lewis Hill, 10092, 2nd Battalion Beds Regiment, was killed in France on March 14th, 1916, when fragments of shell entered a cellar in which he and other men were sheltering. A second man was also killed while the remainder escaped unhurt.

Cpl Hill, who was 24, joined the Bedfords in 1912 and was serving with the 2nd Battalion in South Africa when war was declared. He had been in France since October 1914.

Corporal George Brown


Cpl George Brown, 9592, 2nd Bedfords, was killed in action in Flanders on October 7th, 1915. He was the 26-year-old son of George and Elizabeth Brown, of 65 Albert Road, Luton.

Born in Offley in 1889, he had worked for hat manufacturer Frank Harden in Bute Street, but became a soldier over five years before his death and went to South Africa with the 2nd Bedfords. He remained there for four years and returned to England on the outbreak of war. He was drafted abroad almost immediately.

Corporal William Gurney


Cpl William Gurney, 97201, No 8 Depot Company, Royal Engineers, died in the Red Cross Hospital at Newark, Notts, from an acute internal condition. He was taken suddenly ill and died ten hours later.

He had served with the Guards in the South African campaign for which he was awarded two medals and eight bars. He rejoined the Colour at the outbreak of war and became attached to the Royal Engineers at Newark as an instructor.

Corporal George Taylor

George Taylor was born in Luton in 1879.

On 28th August 1906 aged 27 he joined the 3rd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. At the time he was employed by H Corley of Old Bedford Road, a straw hat manufacturer. George had worked for him as a straw hat blocker for 10 years. On 26th March 1908 George purchased a discharge from the army after serving for 19 months.

Corporal Nathan Payne


Cpl Nathan Payne, 3457, 1/5th Bedfords, was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 15th, 1915 - one the same day that an older brother, L-Sgt Albert Payne, aged 27, also died.

On September 8th, his mother, Mrs Ellen Payne, received a letter from the Territorial Records Office, Warley, notifying that her son was "missing, believed killed" in the Dardanelles. There was also a second similar letter relating to L-Sgt Payne.

Cpl Payne was 21, single, and had been in the "Terriers" since before the war. He had worked for Mr George Powdrill, the contractor.

Corporal William Jarvis


Cpl William Jarvis, 3899, 1/5th Bedfords, died at sea on August 20th on board a hospital ship from a serious wound sustained at Gallipoli. He had written to his wife at 27 Tavistock Street, Luton, to tell her not to worry and that he was on his way to England. He was buried at Pieta Military Cemetery in Malta.

Corporal Albert Giddins

Albert Giddins was 1 of 8 children born to Charles & Maria. He was born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire in 1878.

At the age of 18 he joined the Bedfordshire Regiment on 17th September 1895, his trade at the time was a fitter. He is described on his pension record as 5ft 4 inches tall with a sallow complexion, brown eyes & dark brown hair. He has a tattoo of crossed flags on his right forearm, scars on his left wrist, left middle finger, over his right eye & the front of his left knee.

Corporal Albert Edward Napier


Cpl Albert Edward Napier, 14025, 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action trying to recover trenches on May 23rd, 1915. He was aged 23.

He was the youngest of four then serving sons of James and Ann Napier, who ran the Moor Path Tea Rooms at 58 New Bedford Road, Luton. He had been drafted from India at the outbreak of war.

Corporal Douglas Blake Brodie


Cpl Douglas Blake Brodie, 2433, 1/24th Battalion County of London Regiment ("The Queen's), was killed in action in a great charge on German trenches near Givenchy on May 26th, 1915. He was aged 23.

The son of William and Amelia Brodie, of Rathfarlam, 157 Dunstable Road, Luton, he was among a group of 19 young men from Luton photographed by The Luton News at the Midland Road station on their way to St Albans on September 1st, 1914, to enlist in the Londons. Although named in the newspaper, he was not specifically identified in the W. H. Cox picture at the time.


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