Tag Archives: Arras100

Remembering James Edwin Hitchens of Devoran died Arras WW1 18 April 1917

Death of A Sailor who Fought on Land

James Edwin Hitchens, Able Seaman R/510, Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division RNVR, died during the  Arras offensive in 18 April 1917 aged 28.

James Edwin Hitchens has no known grave and is remembered on Bay 1 of the Arras Memorial.

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Land bound sailor J.E.Hitchens was killed at the Battle of Arras and has no known grave, remembered on the Arras Memorial (Image: http://www.cwgc.org.uk website)

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/783651/HITCHENS,%20JAMES%20EDWIN

 

James Hitchens cwgc

CWGC Register for Arras Memorial (to the Missing who have no known graves).

 

Born at Carnon Mine 20 May 1888, James Edwin Hitchens was a ‘Mining Engine Driver‘ on the 1911 census.

Son of James and Mary Hitchens, of Carclew Terrace, Devoran, Cornwall

His brother William Hitchens was a Railway Engine Stoker in 1911.

His father James Hitchens was born in Feock into a family of Shipwrights and Mariners at Trolver Croft and worked as a Mariner on a Steamship (see the entry for Steam Ship Erimus and Devoran casualty W. J. Dunstan above). http://cornishmemory.com/item/BRA_MI_044

Many of the Hitchens family (James Edwin Hitchen’s uncles and grandfathers) were mariners and shipwrights, so maybe it was not so unusual for him to join the Royal Navy?

His Able Seaman / Mariner father James Hitchens married Mary Leverton Nicholls   (b. Carnon Downs) in 1890 and they had 8 surviving children including James Edwin Hitchens out of nine births. The family lived at Carclew Terrace, Devoran.

Why was a Royal Navy sailor killed fighting in the trenches?

The Royal Naval Division which Hitchens joined was composed in 1914 largely of surplus reserves of the Royal Navy who were not required at sea and some Royal Marines who fought on land as infantry troops. They fought at Gallipolli in 1915 and throughout the Western Front from 1916 onwards.

A Royal Naval Division database shows that Hitchens joined the Army Reserve on 1st March 1916, entered the Army on 1st December 1916, was drafted for the BEF on 6th March 1917 and joined the Hawke battalion on 3rd April 1917.

He is listed as an Engine Driver ; born Devoran, Cornwall 20 June 1888 ; Next-of-Kin & home address: Father, James, Carclew Terrace, Devoran, Cornwall. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

The Hawke Battalion War Diary for 18 April 1917 mentions his death:

“During the day a heavy bombardment took place on our Front & Support Lines. Guns of all calibres but mainly 5.9s.

Six men killed and 12 wounded. [R/511 F. Hibberd, R/510 J.E. Hitchens, R/343 D.O. Jones, KP/541 L. Radford, Wales Z/1401 S. Rogers, & Bristol Z/1395 C. White.]

A number of gas shells were sent over, catching some of our parties unawares.

Lieutenant WOLFE-BARRY & Sub Lieutenant HUGHES both got badly gassed & were evacuated.”

James Edwin Hitchens of Devoran, remembered in his village 100 years after his death at Arras on 18th April 1917.

To learn more about Hitchens and the families remembered on Devoran war memorial https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/devoran-first-world-war-casualties-d-to-j/

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Percy Sweet killed Battle Of Arras 9 April 1917 WW1

Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet, Died 9 April 1917

In 2014 Rifleman Percy Sweet’s name was included on the additional panel to the Devoran Parish War Memorial, despite not appearing on the original Roll of Honour.

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The new panel on the Devoran War Memorial, listing two new WW1 Devoran casualty names P.A. Sweet and W.J. Hoyle, thanks to work / research by Bob Richards and the Feock Parish Council.

Devoran resident Rifleman Percy Archibald Sweet 474189 of the 12th London Regiment (The Rangers) was killed aged 31 on 9 April 1917 during the battle (7-9 April) to take the French village of Neuville Vitasse by the 56th (London) Division.

He is buried at plot 1 A 35 with many other London Rangers in the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/285585/SWEET,%20P%20A

The Battle of Arras is being commemorated by centenary events hosted by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. http://blog.cwgc.org/arras/

One famous casualty of the Battle of Arras, fought at Easter,  was the talented Country writer and poet Edward Thomas. He was killed by shellfire at Easter during the first day of the Battle of Arras two years later.

In Memoriam (Easter, 1915)
By Edward Thomas
The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

A fitting tribute to one such of the men who was a resident of Devoran and London, Percy Sweet.

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Percy Sweet’s headstone, London Cemetery (Image copyright TWGPP/CWGC, The War Graves Photographic Project)

Percy Sweet’s father Francis and Louisa Sweet lived at Fernmere on Market Street in Devoran. Percy is also listed on the CWGC website as a ‘native of Hammersmith’ London where Percy and his brothers and sisters were born.
His father (a shoemaker) and mother are still listed in the 1911 census working in London but by the time Rifleman Percy Sweet was killed in France in 1917, the family were living in Devoran.

His father Francis Sweet was born in Kenwyn, Truro and his mother Louisa (nee Pridham) from Southdown in Cornwall.
Percy Sweet was born in Hammersmith, 1887 and was listed in the 1911 census as a Cordwainer (a leather worker / shoemaker) in London. This explains why he enlisted in a London regiment.

Percy Sweet’s Service Records survive and give a few personal details of his enlistment (attestation) including being issued with spectacles whilst out in France on army service.

His family chose the suitable Easter resurrection wording for the personal inscription on his headstone “He Is Not Here, He Is Risen

https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/other-devoran-related-wartime-casualties-and-a-wartime-marriage/

 

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Rifleman’s headstones at the London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse, Arras, France. (Image source CWGC)

The London Cemetery, Neuville Vitasse Cemetery CWGC

Neuville-Vitasse was attacked by the 56th (London) Division on 7 April 1917 and captured by the same Division on 9 April. The village was almost entirely lost at the end of March 1918 but regained at the end of the following August. It was later “adopted” by the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington.

The London Cemetery was made by the 56th London Division in April 1917 and greatly extended after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields between Arras, Vis-en-Artois and Croisilles.

Neuville-Vitasse is a village in the department of the Pas-de-Calais, 5 kilometres south-east of Arras on the D5. London Cemetery stands on the west side of the road to Arras in a shallow valley.
London Cemetery contains 747 burials and commemorations of the First World War, amongst them Rifleman Percy Sweet, one time resident of Devoran. 318 of the burials are unidentified. The cemetery was designed by famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Remembering Percy Sweet of Devoran and London, his Comrades of the London Regiment and all those of all nations who fell at the Battle of Arras 1917, remembered in Devoran, 100 years later.