In the British Army, a private (Pte) equates to both OR-1 and OR-2 on the NATO scale, although there is no difference in rank. Privates wear no insignia. Many regiments and corps use other distinctive and descriptive names instead of private, some of these ranks have been used for centuries, others are less than 100 years old.[2] In the contemporary British Armed Forces, the army rank of private is broadly equivalent to able seaman in the Royal Navy, aircraftman, leading aircraftman and senior aircraftman in the Royal Air Force, and marine (Mne) or bandsman, as appropriate equivalent rank in the Royal Marines. The term as a military rank seems to come from the Sixteenth Century when individuals had the privilege of enlisting or making private contracts to serve as private soldiers in military units.

Private Arthur William Brown

A poppy in remembrance of Pte Arthur William Brown, 56724, 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, who may have been the last Lutonian to be killed in action in the Great War, on November 10th, 1918 – the day before the armistice.

Others died subsequently from wounds incurred earlier or from diseases like influenza, smallpox and malaria. But unfortunately, no record has been found in local newspapers about Arthur's death.

Private Stanley Wright

Pte Stanley Wright, M/314452, Army Service Corps (M.T.), died suffering from smallpox in an isolation hospital at Amara in Mesopotamia (Iraq) on November 7th, 1918. He left a widow and two children living in Luton.

A telegram on November 5th first alerted Beatrice Wright to the gact that her husband was dangerously ill with smallpox. It was hoped that he would recover and that more hopeful news would be forthcoming. But on November 16th she received the new that he had passed away.

Private Alfred Giltrow

Pte Alfred Giltrow, M/319891, 10th Motor Transport Coy, Army Service Corps, died from tuberculosis in Cairo General Hospital, Egypt, on November 6th, 1918. He had been admitted dangerously ill four days previously.

Alfred was the youngest son of William and Elizabeth Giltrow, of 49 High Town Road, Luton. He had trained at Osterly Park, Hounslow, and three months later was sent to Egypt, arriving at Alexandria in December 1917. He had served in the A.S.C. For a total of a year and four months.

Private William Edwin Burgess

Pte William Edwin Burgess, A/437681, Expeditionary Force Canteen, Army Service Corps, died in the 53rd Stationary Hospital in Russia on November 5th, 1918. A telegram to his widow said he had died of dysentery, but his military files show he died of a fractured spine following a fall from a gangway, and an inquiry said no-one else was to blame in the accident. William had gone to Russia seven weeks before his death.

Private Thomas Frederick Piggott

Private Thomas Frederick Piggott 17458 was my grandfather’s elder brother. He was born in 1895, the eldest of 4 brothers, and worked as a shop assistant before volunteering October 1914 into the 8th battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He was sent to France in August 1915, and died of wounds  after being injured in the battle of the Somme, on Saturday 21 October 1916, aged 21, almost exactly 2 years after he joined up. He is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetry Extension in France.

Private Oliver Howard

Pte Oliver Howard, 39454, 5th Battalion King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on November 3rd, 1918 – eight days before the armistice and only three days after he had been drafted to France. Aged 18, he was the youngest of five serving brothers.

Born in Leytonstone, Essex, in 1899, he and his family had lived in Chaul End Lane, Caddington, for nearly nine years, before he moved with widower father Daniel and brother Erastus to 35 Salisbury Road, Luton.

Daniel Howard was a local preacher connected with Wellington Street Baptist Church.

Private George William Smith

Pte George William Smith, F/3441, 4th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, was killed in action at Solesmes, east of Cambrai in France, on October 12th, 1918. He was aged 34 and a married man with three children.

He had been in the Forces for about two and a half years and had been slightly wounded in the face in May 1917.

Born in Ampthill, he married Daisy Annie Inns at St Matthew's Church, Luton, on August 1st, 1908. They had three children – Hilda May (born 1909), George Ernest (1912) and William Charles (1914).

Private Clarence Blackbourn

Pte Clarence Blackbourn, 40100, 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme on February 27th, 1917. He was single and aged 19.

Born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in 1898, Clarence was living with parents Thomas and Emily Jane plus four brothers and two sisters at Stamford, Lincolnshire, at the time of the 1911 Census.

Private Charles Barnard Plater

Pte Charles Barnard Plater, 265668. 2nd Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment, was killed in action in Italy on October 29th, 1918. He was aged 22 and single.

The news was received by his twice widowed mother Jane Hawkins, of 27 Newcombe Road, Luton. Charles' father, Thomas Plater, had died in 1906 and Jane remarried in 1910. Her second husband, Frederick Hawkins, was killed in action in France on May 13th, 1915, while serving with the 2nd Essex Regiment (6164).

Private Arthur Kiff

Pte Arthur Kiff, 73413, 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers, was reported missing and then “killed in action or died of wounds received in action, on October 8th, 1918, or shortly after”. He was aged 19 and had joined up in January 1918, but it was not until around a month following the armistice that his presumed death was confirmed to his parents.

Private Albert George Ward

Pte Albert George Ward, 47988, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was presumed killed in action in France on October 23rd, 1918, the day he was reported missing by the War Office.

Six weeks later, parents Henry Arthur and Emily Ward, of 10 Moreton Road, Round Green, appealed to his chums through The Luton News for any news they might have of him.

Prior to the war Albert, who was born in Mangrove in 1891, had worked at the Great Northern Railway goods yard in Luton.

Private Reginald Thomas Ashby

Pte Reginald Thomas Ashby, 47056, 9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action in France in the advance at Le Cateau on October 15th, 1918. He was aged 20 and single.

Born in Harpenden in 1898, he was one of three sons of Harry and Lizzie Ashby, of 47 Manor Road, Luton. He had joined the Army on May 2nd, 1917, and was stationed at Dover with the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry (30544). He went to France six months before his death, transferring to the Inniskillings.

Private William Plater

Pte William Plater, 43459, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on October 23rd, 1918. He was aged 24 and single.

He was a son of Frederick (died 1902) and Annie Plater, of 2 Chase Street, Luton. William had previously served in the Machine Gun Corps (26296).

At the time of the 1911 Census William was living with his widowed mother and two brothers at 12 Langley Place, Luton, and was employed as a general labourer. Before enlisting he had worked for Mr James Pollard, of May Street.

Private Harry Turner

Pte Henry Turner (known as Happy Harry), 32121, 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment, was killed in action in France on October 20th, 1918. He was a nephew of Luton Town FC trainer Billy Lawson, and was due to have been married at the end of November. His fiancee had made all the preparations.


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