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 Charles Frederick Cole

Pte Charles Cole, 50684, 1/6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, died on October 20th, 1918, from wounds sustained in France. [Some military records give his surnames as Coles.]

He had returned to active service for the third time on September 14th. He had served in the Army for two-and-a-half years. Prior to enlistment he had worked for boot and shoe dealer H. White, of Manchester Street, Luton.

Private William Fensome

Pte William Fensome, 307015, 16th Battalion Tank Corps, was killed by a shell in action in France on October 17th, 1918. According to his commanding officer, he was buried at the time at Regincourt. [His body was probably later exhumed and reburied.]

Williams had joined up in December 1916 in the Royal Engineers (216487) and was transferred to the Tank Corps in January 1918. He had been in France only six months when he met his death.

Private Percy Mead

Pte Percy Mead, 46998, 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifles, died of wounds in the 17th Casualty Clearing Station in France on October 17th, 1918. He was aged 19 and had previously served in the Beds Regiment (11038).

Born in December 1899, he was a son of Lucy and the late Thomas Mead, of Kings Road, Luton. He had married Elizabeth Read in Kent in 1917 and his widow was living at Sittingbourne at the time of Percy's death.

Before joining up, Percy, along with three brothers, had worked at the Brown & Green Foundry in Windsor Street/South Road, Luton.

Private Percy James Costin

Pte Percy James Costin, 52084, 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment, died of wounds sustained in action in France on October 10th, 1918. He was aged 20 and single.

In a letter to parents James and Annie Costin at 78 Queen Street, Luton, an officer in the Middlesex Regiment said: “He was a runner, and was killed whilst showing great devotion to duty. He suffered no pain.”

Pte Costin joined up in July 1916 and saw considerable service. He was wounded in the arm in October 1917 and went to France again in March 1918 after recovery.

Private George Butterfield

Pte George Butterfield, 17000, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 27th, 1918. He was born in Luton and had been married for almost two years.

A chum wrote to widow May: “He was going back from the battalion to brigade headquarters after delivering a message and was hit by a machine gun bullet. His death must have been instantaneous.

“He was sent back behind the firing line and buried in a British cemetery in a little village.”

Private John Walker Langford

Pte John Walker Langford, 27657, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on October 8th, 1918. He was aged 38.

He was a son of Henry and Bessie Maud Langford, both of whom had died, and John was living at the home of Arthur and Lottie Taylor, of 58 Cambridge Street, Luton.

At the time of the 1911 Census he was living with his widowed mother and sister Emily at 23 Alma Street. John was described as a buncher at a straw plait dyeworks. Before enlistment he had been employed by bleachers and dyers A. J. Godfrey & Son, of Langley Street.

Private Clement Philip Ernest Rash

Pte Clement Philip Ernest Rash, 51377, 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, was killed in action on October 1st, 1918. He was aged 24 and a native of Haverhill, Suffolk, who had been working as a fitter at George Kent's Ltd.

In a letter of sympathy to parents Walter and Miriam, of Haverhill, a chum wrote: “We had been together since the day we enlisted and always got on well together. Now dear Clem has gone I find it very hard, and can hardly realise the loss of such a friend as he always was to me.

Private Bernard Andrews Bone

Pte Bernard Andrews Bone, 57804, 1/5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, died in No. 4 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in France on September 30th, 1918, the day after he was struck by an enemy shell.

A chaplain wrote to widowed mother Florence Lavinia Bone at 39 New Town Street, Luton: “He was brought down by ambulance from the front line on September 29th. He was struck by a shell from the enemy causing bad fractures of both legs, and his hands and face were slightly wounded. The fearful shock to his whole nervous system was an alarming factor.

Private Cyril Long

Pte Cyril Long, 52254, 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 29th, 1918. He was aged 19 and single.

Cyril had been an apprentice working for the Luton News before joining up with the Herts Yeomanry (No. 3210) on his 18th birthday. Later he was transferred to the Lincoln Cyclists Corps and came home on draft leave in August 1918.

Private Herbert John Savage

Pte Herbert John Savage, 99640, 8th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment, was killed in action on September 11th, 1918. The 30-year-old was born in Bedford and moved to Luton following his marriage in 1912.

Herbert had joined the Bedfordshire Regiment (8800) and was transferred to the 2/6th Sherwood Foresters (103028) before joining the KLR. His widow had last heard from him on September 5th.

Private Reginald Bass

Pte Reginald Bass, 30585, 6th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 21st, 1918. He was single and aged 19.

He was a son of Eli and Ellen Bass, of 54 Cromwell Road, Luton, living there in 1911 with two brothers and ten sisters.

Prior to joining up in March 1918, Reginald had worked as a moulder for Hayward Tyler & Co, and had attended Park Street Baptist Church and Sunday school.

Private Reginald Barton

Pte Reginald Barton, 14510, 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 24th, 1918. He was aged 20.

Born in Luton in June 1898, Reg was a son of Edward and Charlotte Barton, of 18 Brache Street. He had joined up in 1914 at the age of 16 and even went out to the trenches, but was sent home because of his age.

Elder brother Bert was the first notified casualty of the 1/5th Bedfords received from Suvla Bay during the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, and brother-in-law Edward Anderson also met his death there.


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