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Monday, 28 March 2022


I am delighted to feature here a contribution from my guest writer, Chris Glover  from Yorkshire.  He is a  DNA match and third cousin of my husband through their respective ancestry,descended  from great great grandfather  Moses Armitage of a mining family in West Yorkshire.  

Few people in the country could have escaped the impact of the First World War, and for  the Glover Family of Barnsley, Yorkshire, it meant the tragic death of their son Fred Glover (1889-1916),  aged 26, whilst serving in what was nicknamed  “The Suicide Squad”

Fred was the son of Alfred Glover and Mary Elizabeth Glover, nee Sykes, a granddaughter of Moses Armitage.   Fred  was born in the December of 1889 in a miner's cottage in Hermit Lane, Higham, Barnsley. He was baptised on the 11th December 1889 in Gawber, St Thomas, Barnsley, Yorkshire.

In 1891 Fred still lived in Hermit Lane Higham. However, the family later moved, and by the 1901 Census, were living in Brick Terrace, Ardsley, Barnsley. Fred’s father, Alfred, a *trammer at Darfield Main Colliery, had died in 1898, from TB.   

Mother Mary was now head of the family, bringing up 5 children – Thomas, aged 12, at that young age already working in the mines as an  underground pony driver; Fred, aged 11; Frances, a daughter, aged 7; Herbert, aged 5, and baby, Joseph Jepson Glover.

According to the 1911 Census, Fred was a patient in Beckett Hospital, Barnsley. He had probably had some accident whilst working in a local colliery. He was a *trammer, like his father, working underground. He was single at the time. By 1916 he had married Clara Oldfield in July-September 1911. They had three children: Olive, born 1912; Herbert H, born 1913; and Harold, born 1915.    


It is not clear when Fred first enlisted in the Army. His service record  has not survived - almost certainly lost to fire at the Army Records Office during the blitz on London in September 1940.   His Medal Index Card (MIC), shows that he originally enlisted in the 6th (Service) Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, as No 19768, but did not go abroad with that unit. He was transferred to the 6th (Service) Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment and given the new number 20972. These details are out of order on the Medal Index Card but he cannot possibly have served with the York & Lancs AFTER his service with the Machine Gun Corps, since he was killed serving with the machine guns in 1916.

Fred, with colleagues - second from the right

In Gallipoli The 6th York & Lancs went overseas on 3rd July 1915, sailing from Liverpool, and arrived at Mudros (an island just off the coast of Turkey) on 10th July 1915. His Medal Card tells us that he entered the war zone, landing on mainland Turkey - the Gallipoli peninsula, on 29th September 1915. The failed campaign there was almost over, and the battalion was withdrawn back to Mudros in December 1915. In February 1916 it was sent to Egypt and would soon after be on its way to France, where it arrived in July 1916.

In the newly formed Machine Gun Corps.  However, Fred was not with his original unit when it was sent back to Egypt, and subsequently to France in July 1916.  He must have been sent back to the UK in order to have been transferred to the MGC, and to receive the new service number 30080, which was first used, in the UK, some time in February 1916. He could not have been in Egypt for this to happen.

It is probable that Fred was either wounded or fell sick (probably the latter) whilst at Gallipoli and was invalided back to the UK.  After recovery, instead of being sent back out to Egypt to join his regiment, he was "snatched" by the newly formed Machine Gun Corps. From his third number (30080) it is possible to say that he was transferred-in, while still in the UK, between mid-February and the end of March 1916. He would have been sent to the HQ of the MGC at Belton Park, Grantham for a six week course in gunnery, and then sent out straight away to France. He joined the 124th Company which was formed in the 41st Division.

 In its short history the Machine Gun Corps gained an enviable record for heroism as a front line fighting force. Indeed, in the latter part of the war, as tactics changed to defence in depth, it commonly served well in advance of the front line. It had a less enviable record for its casualty rate. Some 170,500 officers and men served in the Machine Gun Corps  with 62,049 becoming casualties, including 12,498 killed, earning it the nickname "The Suicide Club"


Fred, an Infantry Machine Gunner, was killed on the Somme on 16th September 1916 during the battle of Flers-Courcelette.

The unit war diary for the period of his death is of no help in discovering how he died and exactly where. The Machine Gunners Corps Database indicates that he was the only casualty of the unit that day and his death was almost certainly the result of enemy shellfire, since the unit appears to have been stationary on 15/16th September 1916. 

He would almost certainly have been buried near to where he fell, and his grave marked, but the ground was fought over and intensely shelled over the next two years. His grave marker was probably lost and when the battlefields were being cleared by the War Graves Commission in the 1920s, his remains could not be identified.


 The War Graces  Commission Records state that Fred was aged 26, leaving a widow Clara Glover of 39 Bartholomew St, Wombwell, Barnsley.  

 "The Barnsley Independent" broke the new of Fred's death on the 14th October 1916 in a brief report, traced on the website British Newspaper Archive


A much fuller obituary  appeared  the following week on 21st October 191.  It makes for poignant reading, especially the news that he died on the anniversary of his wedding day. 

"The South Yorkshire Times" of 25th November 1916  reported on a memorial service held at Wombwell Parish Church "in memory of the nine local men who had fallen in a action" - amongst them Fred Glover.

Fred is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 5 C and 12 C, one of 72,247 unidentified casualties. A large inscription on an internal surface of the memorial reads:

He is also remembered on the War Memorial at Wombwell Church. 

Thiepval Memorial to the missing.jpg

                    Thiepval Memorial (Wikipedia)    

Thiepval is he largest British battle Memorial in the world. On Portland stone piers are engraved the names of over 72,000 men who who have no known grave and who were lost in the Somme battles between July 1916 and March 1918. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the Cenotaph in London, the memorial was unveiled by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1932.

The UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ effects 1901-1929 show that Fred’s widow was left a war gratuity of £8.10s – worth just over £500 in today’s money. 



  • A Trammer in a mine was the man who helped the hewer fill tubs with the coal which which he then conveyed to the mine shaft  for raising above ground.

  • On the same day 16th September 1916 died a distant relative of Fred Glover  - Frederick Donaldson, of South Shields, County Durham  - my huband's great uncle, also remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.



1 comment:

  1. A well researched remembrance of your relative...changing places and information as needed by someone who could understand war designations. It would be well beyond my skills, so I'm very respectful of it. Sorry to know two of your relations are on that memorial.


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