Collections - Archives
First World War
Sketch Map showing the locations of burials of
soldiers, 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, 1915.
Hand drawn sketch of Polygon Wood, April 1915 and the names of men buried
Accession Number: KO2150/02
Lance Corporal John Hirst
Harper, number 999, C Company, 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own,
died 13 April 1915, age 21. Son of Alexander and Ellen Harper of
Wellington Road, Lancaster. Jack Harper was killed by a trench
mortar in Polygon Wood. He’d been a porter at Carnforth Station and had
served in the Territorial Force for 4 years.
Private Joseph Nash, number 2154, B Company, 1st/5th Battalion,
King's Own, died 13 April 1915.
Private John Churchhouse, number 1003, A Company, 1st/5th
Battalion, King's Own, died 14 April 1915, age 19. Son of Hannah Byrne
of Marton Street, Lancaster
Private Tom Knight Clarke, number 2740, A Company, 1st/5th
Battalion, King's Own, died 14 April 1915, age 26. Husband of Eve
Beattie Clarke of Lord Street, Lancaster.
Private Thomas Robinson, number 1308, A Company, 1st/5th
Battalion, King's Own, died 14 April 1915.
Private Christopher Whiteside, number 2810, A Company (Machine
Gunner) 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own, died 14 April 1915.
Corporal Joseph Whiteside, wrote home with the news that Kit had been
killed when he was doing his duty. Shot right through the head by a
sniper, and died immediately. He had been in the employment of the
Lancaster Corporation electricity department and was frequently at work
in the streets so he was well known. He had enlisted in 1914. Matt
Farrell was lost an hour later. Both were members of the machine gun
Private Matthew Farrell, number 1440, B
Company, 1st/5th King's Own, died 14 April 1915, age 16. Son of Mrs
Farrell of Little John Street, Lancaster.
Private Fred Eltoft, number 2104, B Company, 1st/5th Battalion,
King's Own, died 16 April 1915.
Employed as a porter at Lancaster Boys Grammar School prior to his
enlistment in September 1914 as one of the 'Gallant 200' who volunteered
for war service with the 5th Battalion.
Private Reginald Blackhurst, number 2073, B Company, 1st/5th
Battalion, King's Own, died 16 April 1915.
Private Thomas Hesketh, number 1978, D Company, 1st/5th
Battalion, King's Own, died 17 April 1915.*
Private John Ogden, number 1921, B Company, 1st/5th Battalion,
King's Own, died 16 April 1915.
Private Frank Holding, number 2117, D Company, 1st/5th Battalion,
King's Own, died 17 April 1915 age 19. Son of Kenyon and Sarah Holding
of Penny Street, Lancaster.
In a letter to a Lancaster friend of the 16th April 1915, Major J H
Bates, the Battalion Second in Command, writes:
“13th April 1915 – the trench mortars caught a number of our chaps.
14th April - a working party were in the woods at night, high explosive
were pushed into them. In 20 seconds four were killed and 20 were
wounded. Blackhurst and Fred Eltoft hit by a trench mortar and didn’t
The Colonel takes the service and I accompany him, apart from the
pioneers who make the graves, and the stretcher bearers, we are alone.
It was a sad affair, noisy through the booming of heavy guns and rifle
cracking all around.
We soon forget it all, but however horrible is the war we realise we are
fighting for posterity, and we pray it will soon be over.
There are a lot of gallant fellows. You have no idea, nor can you
picture the life we are leading. Still we are bright, and feel equal to
anything that may crop up.”
One of the Pals of the 5th King’s Own, wrote on 17th April 1915 about
the shelling of the woods-
“We just go into the centre of the wood when the Germans started
shelling it. Well, we had to take any cover we could get, and I tumbled
over a dead horse. It’s ribs went in but I laid where I was, till
another shell brought the top of a tree, and it caught me fair on the
‘thinking box’ and I made my way out of the wood after the nerve testing
experience with a champion head.
War is simply hell let loose. There has been over 50 killed and wounded
in less than 24 hours. You fell it when your mates go down.”
A Lancaster non-commissioned officer writes on 15th April 1915-
“We have moved to a place called by the regulars the ‘Gates of Hell’. No
picture nor pen can describe it… as Lancaster will soon know our
casualties in two days, 8 killed and about 40 wounded.
We had to march about 8 miles to the trenches, and it will be the same
distance back when we get relieved.
Our machine gun section has two casualties, Gunner Chris Whiteside and
Gunner Matt Farrell”
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