Rifleman

A rifleman is a soldier in a light infantry unit. Although ultimately originating with the 16th century handgunners and the 17th century musketeers and streltsy, the term rifleman originated in the 18th century. Entire regiments and bodies of troops were armed with the weapon. It later became the term for the archetypal common infantryman.

Rifleman Frederick Horace Rookwood

 

Rifleman Frederick Horace Rookwood, 3253, 17th Battalion London Regiment (Poplar and Stepney Rifles), was killed in action on the Somme on October 1st, 1916. He was aged 27.

Widow Kate and parents James and Clara, of 14 Ashton Street [later Gillam Street], Luton, heard the news first from Frederick's brother-in-law, who said he had seen Frederick's grave, "which is very nicely laid out". [The grave was probably lost as Frederick is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial for soldiers with no known grave].

Rifleman Arthur David Sharp

 

Rifleman Arthur David Sharp, C/6265, 18th Battalion King's Royal Rifles, was killed in action on the Somme on September 15th, 1916. He was single and aged 28.

He had enlisted at St Pancras in London in July 1915 and went out to France the following May.

His father David had died in 1911 and his mother Sarah in 1906. At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 29 Shirley Road, Luton, with two brothers and four sisters, all then unmarried.

Rifleman William Ernest Ratcliffe

 

Rifleman William Ernest Ratcliffe, S/11035, 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade, died on the Somme on August 18th, 1916.

He is recorded as having been born in Luton around 1895 and is on the Luton Roll of Honour, but without an address. It is likely that his family had left Luton before the time of his death. The 1911 Census suggests that 16-year-old William was a boarder in a boys' home in London.

The Luton News carried a picture of the late Rifleman Ratcliffe, of Luton, in its October 5th, 1916, edition, but without further details.

 

Rifleman Henry Oliver Philip Foster

Rifleman Henry Oliver Philip Foster, 471290, 1/12th Battalion London Regiment (The Rangers), was killed in action on the Somme on July 1st, 1916. He was aged 20.

He was the son of Thomas Arthur and Annie Caroline Foster, who were living at 108 Bury Park Road, Luton, and later 12 Cromwell Road. In the 1911 Census Henry is described as a postcard hawker, then aged about 14.

 

Rifleman Arthur Thomas Mahon

 

Rifleman Arthur Thomas Mahon, 301057, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), was killed in action on July 1st, 1916, at the age of 19. Born in Aberdeen, he was the son of the Rev Edward Mahon, Pastor of King Street Congregational Church, Luton, and Mrs Agnes Catherine Mahon, of 48 Napier Road, Luton.

Rifleman Augustus Tennyson Bruton

 

Rifleman Augustus Tennyson Bruton, C/1611, 16th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, died at the Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington, Lancs, on April 10th, 1916, from wounds accidentally sustained during bomb-throwing training in France. He was aged 21.

He joined the Forces in November 1915 and was sent for training. On February 1st, without having had any leave, he went to France. Parents Alfred John and Sarah Jane Bruton, of East Hyde Mill Cottages, New Mill End, never saw their son in uniform.

Rifleman Henry Albert James

 

Cyclist Henry Albert 'Harry' James, 3164, 47th London Divisional Cyclist Company, was killed in action in action in France on January 21st, 1916.

He was one of 17 employees of the Diamond Foundry in Dallow Road who joined the 17th Battalion London Regiment as a rifleman in September 1914 and transferred to the Cyclist Company when it was formed.

Harry was the only son of Job and Lizzie James, of 2 Wimbourne Road, Luton. He was aged 23.

Rifleman Peter Murdoch

 

Rifleman Peter Murdoch, 2634, D Company, 17th Battalion London Regiment, died on September 27th, 1915, from wounds sustained in action in Flanders.

He was a member of a Scottish family that had come to Luton from Falkirk around 1906-7, and was the first member of his platoon to be killed. He was aged 20.

Rifleman Albert Edgar Saunders

Pte Albert Edgar Saunders, 235327, 18th Battalion The King's (Liverpool Regiment), died in King George's Hospital, London, on November 24th, 1918, as a result of wounds sustained at Ypres on April 29th, 1918. A gunshot wound in the neck had caused paralysis of his body and legs, and he had been in the London hospital since early May. He was discharged as unfit for service in August 1918.

Rifleman James Albert Burgess

 

Rifleman James Burgess, 11650, 4th King's Royal Rifle Corps, died on March 10th, 1915, from wounds sustained in the trenches near Givenchy earlier that day.

His mother Sarah Ann at 63 Chobham Street, Luton, did not receive official War Office confirmation until July 1915, but had been informed unofficially in a letter from Rifleman F. Featherstone some weeks earlier.

Rifleman Sidney William Dorrington

 

Rifleman Sidney William Dorrington, 2630, 17th Battalion London Regiment, was killed while on lookout duty in the trenches on May 14th, 1915*, according to comrades. He was struck in the head by a dum-dum bullet.

In a letter to Mr Jesse Dorrinton, the deceased's father, Rifleman C. A. Scales wrote: "He was not conscious any part of the time, as morphia was injected. But he was already too far gone to feel any pain. He succumbed one hour 40 minutes after being hit, and is buried in the village beside a fallen comrade, name unknown."

Rifleman Horace Ethelbert Meade

 

Rifleman Horace Ethelbert Meade, 2264, died on Sunday, May 9th, 1915, two days after being wounded in action. He was the first employee of George Kent Ltd, Biscot Road, to be killed at the front.

A native of Portsmouth, the 23-year-old had worked in the offices at Kent's until he enlisted with the 12th Battalion County of London Regiment at the outbreak of war. He arrived in France on Christmas Day 1914 and had been in the firing line practically ever since.

Rifleman Sidney George Lewin

 

Rifleman Sidney George Lewin, 2154, 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade, was killed in action on March 1st, 1915. Only son of Sarah Lewin and the late George William Lewin, of 23 Winsdon Road, Luton, he was aged 24.

Official War Office notification received by his mother that resulted in a The Luton News report at the time said he was killed in action on March 2nd. The March 1st date is contained on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

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