Army Service Corps

The unsung heroes of the British army in the Great War - the ASC, Ally Sloper's Cavalry. Soldiers can not fight without food, equipment and ammunition. In the Great War, the vast majority of this tonnage, supplying a vast army on many fronts, was supplied from Britain. Using horsed and motor vehicles, railways and waterways, the ASC performed prodigious feats of logistics and were one of the great strengths of organisation by which the war was won.

At peak, the ASC numbered an incredible 10,547 officers and 315,334 men. In addition were tens of thousands of Indian, Egyptian, Chinese and other native labourers, carriers and stores men, under orders of the ASC. Yet this vast, sprawling organisation - so vital to enabling the army to fight - merits just four mentions in the Official History of the war.

Private William Edwin Burgess

Pte William Edwin Burgess, A/437681, Expeditionary Force Canteen, Army Service Corps, died in the 53rd Stationary Hospital in Russia on November 5th, 1918. A telegram to his widow said he had died of dysentery, but his military files show he died of a fractured spine following a fall from a gangway, and an inquiry said no-one else was to blame in the accident. William had gone to Russia seven weeks before his death.

Sergeant Nelson Tom Pike

Sgt Nelson Tom Pike, M1/07617, Army Service Corps, died in the 41st Stationary Hospital, Gailly, France, on July 20th, 1917. He had been taken to hospital the previous day suffering from shell wounds.

Nelson Pike had enlisted in the A.S.C. (Transport Section) soon after the outbreak of hostilities. He was soon transferred to France, where he was continually engaged in conveying ammunition to the firing line. He had had a particularly rough time at Mons and Ypres, a period when he gained rapid promotion.

Private John Oliver Ernest Trott

John Oliver Ernest Trott was born in Stoke Newington, London in March 1899. He was 1 of 5 children born to Ernest & Grace.

In 1911 John in 12 years old & living at 28 Grove Road Luton with James his 81 year old widowed grandfather a retired straw hat manufacturer. Also living  with him are his 2 aunts, Elizabeth 60 is a milliner & 46 year old Frances Helena a housekeeper. James' 19 year granddaughter Gladys Brown, an assistant dressmaker, is also a member of the household.

Driver William Alfred Carter

William Alfred Carter was born in Luton in 1878, 1 of 11 children born to Alfred & Harriet.

In 1911 he is living with his 61 year old parents at 52 Dumfries Street he is 33 years old & William & his father are both working as general labourers.

On 6th July 1915 William joined the Army Service Corps as a horse driver. On 15th February 1916 William was posted, as part of the British Expeditionary Force, to France but shortly after arriving he became ill with an ulceration of the stomach.

Private William Henry Parsons


Pte William Henry "Snip" Parsons, 163604, 621st Mechanical Transport Company, Army Service Corps, died in a Military Hospital at Cambridge on December 24th, 1916, from cerebrospinal meningitis. He was aged 36.

He had come home from France, where he was serving, to undergo an operation at Chatham, where it was reported he had contracted the fatal illness. Back in Luton, his case was considered hopeless by local doctors and he was removed to Cambridge, where he never regained consciousness.

Private Albert James William Day


Pte Albert James William Day, T4/141062, 1st Field Supply Coy, Army Service Corps, died on June 23rd, 1916. His parents lived in Luton, but his death does not appear to have been reported in the local press.

The one reference appeared in a casualty list of Bedfordshire soldiers issued by the War Office that was published in The Luton Reporter on Monday, July 24th, 1916. That simply read, "Died - A.S.C. - 4141062 A. Day (Luton)".

Company Quartermaster Sergeant Douglas Ritchie


Company Quartermaster-Sgt Douglas Ritchie, Army Service Corps, died in the Fulham Military Hospital on January 15th, 1916, from double pneumonia.

The 30-year-old Scotsman was the brother-in-law of Charles Cameron, of 51 Belmont Road, Luton, proprietor of Camerons (Luton) Ltd, a printing company based in Cheapside. Douglas Ritchie had been a co-director of the firm until he gave up his business interests to take up aviation. He had gained his pilot's licence before suffering an unfortunate breakdown in health.

Private Sidney Case

Sidney Case was the only child of John & Ellen. He was born in Deepcar, Yorkshire in June 1897.

In 1911 he is living at 205 Hitchin Road, Luton. His father John is 35 years old & a carpenter's labourer, his mother Ellen is 38 & at home & Sidney is 13 years old & working as a doctor's errand boy. His cousin Percy Whittaker is living with them, he is 15 & working as a house boy.

Private Stanley Bell

Stanley Bell was born in Barton le Clay on 22 April 1887.

He married Hephzibah Powell on 11th May 1904 at St Matthews Church.

In 1911 they are living with their 2 year old daughter Lily May at No 8 Havelock Road. Stanley is working as a domestic coachman & Hephzibah is working at home as a straw hat finisher.

In September 1915 Stanley enlisted into the Army Service Corps. He was working as a motor driver & living at 87 Frederick Street at the time.

Private John Cox


Pte John Cox, 1059, Army Service Corps, died in hospital in Egypt from dysentery on October 8th, 1915, while attached to the 49th Division serving at Gallipoli.

Born at Watbridge, East Hyde, in early 1880 and a popular former footballer, he had worked for straw hat manufacturer Harry Briars at 75 May Street, Luton, prior to enlisting with the Army Service Corps at Woolwich in August 1914. He went to the Dardanelles in March 1915.

Private Ernest Wright

Ernest Wright was born in Luton in October 1894.

In 1911 he was 16 years old & working as a straw hat finisher. He was living with his family at 98 Midland Road. His father Sidney 59 is an employer in the straw hat manufacturing trade working from home with some members of the family. Ernest's mother Jane 52, sister Ethel 21 & boarder Agnes Waller 24 are machinists. Twin brother Walter is a general engineer, whilst Beatrice 14 is assisting at home with their invalid sister 28 year old Edith Emma.


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