The village that went to war
THE lives of the 49 men from the small village of Colne who served in The Great War have been commemorated in a book. Orchards to Poppyfields has been written by Steve Dighton, who was born in the village, working with the families of the 49 men. Part of
THE lives of the 49 men from the small village of Colne who served in The Great War have been commemorated in a book.
Orchards to Poppyfields has been written by Steve Dighton, who was born in the village, working with the families of the 49 men. Part of the profits will go to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
Mr Dighton said: "I wanted to ensure that all of those who served are suitably remembered and maybe in future more can be found out about them and their lives."
The men served in all three services, the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Flying Corps (which became the Royal Air Force). Of the 49, 15 were killed on active service.
Among the entries are Arthur Boultbee, who was shot down and killed, aged 21, by Manfred Von Richthofen, known as The Red Baron.
Arthur was born in Colne in 1897. He was the son of the Reverend Frederick Boultbee, the curate of Colne and his wife Henrietta, who was Canadian. His name is not on the Colne War Memorial because at the time of his death his father had moved to become vicar of Hargrave near Kimbolton.
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Arthur was at St Catherine's College Cambridge and, like many of his contemporaries, left the university after one term, in 1914 to fight the war. He trained as a pilot and was killed in action on March 17, 1917.
Noted as the first Colne casualty of the war was Herbert Potto Gibbs who died aged 18 having earned the Mons Star, General Service and Victory Medals.
The eldest son of William Potto and Annie Gibbs, Herbert volunteered in August, 1914 and served in the 4th Royal Fusiliers and was killed in action on September 13, 1915, by a sniper's bullet.
Letters to his mother written by colleagues after his death were published in The Hunts Post. One, signed Captain E Giles, offered to send his parents the bullet that had killed their son.
Captain Giles wrote: "I am exceedingly sorry to tell you that your son was killed this morning at 5am by a German sniper. He was looking over the parapet when the bullet that struck the top sandbag went right through it and entered your son's shoulder. He died a minute or two afterwards while the stretcher bearers were attending to him.
"We have the bullet here but I have not enclosed it as I did not know if you would care for it or not. If you would we will send it. Your son always did his work well and thoroughly and now it is in performance of his duty that he has given his life."
Another letter, signed "From his sincere comrade, CSM Clayden" read: "It is with deep sorrow that I send you the news of your son's death. It will perhaps lessen your sorrow to know he died as soldier doing his duty faithfully to the end. It was while on sentry duty just before morning he reported some moving objects in front of the parapet and, on getting up to make sure was shot, the bullet entering his shoulder and lodging in his stomach.
"He died about 10 minutes afterwards. His last words were of his mother and home. I have enclosed his Bible and Testament, I thought you would like them. Please accept the deepest sympathy of his comrades who deplore the loss of who was always the brightest and free hearted of us all."
Another lost young life was Sydney Charter, who died aged 19. The son of a fruit grower, Richard Charter and his wife Fanny and one of eight brothers and sisters, he enlisted into the Huntingdonshire Cycle Battalion and transferred into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He died in Givenchy on December 27, 1916.
INFORMATION: The book was launched at Colne Village Hall on Friday. It is on sale for £5 with a percentage of the profits going to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
To buy a copy, contact Steve Dighton at firstname.lastname@example.org.