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 Harry Ford

Pte Harry Ford, 41898, 1st Battalion Northants Regiment, Machine Gun Section, became the third son lost to his family when he was killed in action in France on September 24th, 1918, a month before his 19th birthday.

An officer wrote to parents John and Emma Ford at 48 Burr Street, Luton: “Your son was killed instantaneously on the morning of September 24th. He was killed by machine gun bullets in the trench which was our final objective, and was buried with several others close by by the battalion chaplain.”

Private Ernest Farrigh Napier

Pte Ernest Farrigh Napier, 291545, 1st Herts Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 21st, 1918. Aged 24, he was the youngest of seven sons of James and Anne Napier, who ran the Moor Path Tea Rooms in New Bedford Road, Luton.

Ernest was working at Vauxhall Motors before joining up. He entered the London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers (No 493667) and afterwards saw service with the Kensington Rifles and the Bedfordshire Regiment before joining the Hunts Cyclists attached to the Herts Regiment. He had been wounded twice, once with the Bedfords.

Private George Alfred Fensome

The death while serving in Russia of Pte George Alfred Fensome, 65103, 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, on August 31st, 1919, was described by the War Office in a letter to his parents in Luton as “accidental” - without giving further details beyond notice of his death.

George and Maria Fensome, of 14 Brache Street, had last received a letter from their son on August 9th stating that he would be home early in September with troops who in fact landed at Leith in Scotland from Archangel on September 9th.

Private Bert Clarke

Pte Bert (Bertie) Clarke, 96779, 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, was reported missing, later killed in action, in France on May 27th, 1918. He was one of three sons of widow Mary Ann Clarke, of 338 Hitchin Road, Luton to have served and the second to die.

Born in Slip End in 1899, Bert was described as a chemical labourer in the 1911 Census. He enlisted in August 1917 and was drafted to France in April 1918.

Private Benjamin McDonald

Pte Benjamin McDonald, 30131, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), was killed in action in France on September 21st, 1918. He had joined up at the age of 19 and had been in France only five weeks.

One of his comrades wrote to parents Benjamin and Susan McDonald at 64 Dallow Road, Luton, to inform them that their son and his comrades were in a dug-out on outpost duty when a shell burst on it. Pte McDonald and another man were killed outright.

Private Frank Rowley

Pte Frank Rowley, 86184, 13th Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action in France on September 18th, 1918. He was aged 34 and had worked as a coach and motor trimmer at Vauxhall Motors.

An officer wrote to his widow Kate at 39 Manor Road, Luton, that her husband was killed in action on the morning of the 18th. Owing to their position in the fighting it was necessary to bury him at once, and he lay by the side of a comrade and close to the spot where he fell.

Private Herbert Abrams

Pte Herbert Abrams, 14839, 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 18th, 1918.

Forces Chaplain, the Rev L. Walters, wrote to his mother Sarah at 99 Oak Road, Luton, informing her that her son was wounded in the abdomen by a sniper's bullet, and died immediately or soon after being hit.

Herbert was born in Harpenden on January 5th, 1897, a son of Samuel and Sarah Abrams. The family had moved to Luton by the time of the 1911 Census, when they were living at 20 Maple Road.

Private Frederick Warren Rogers

Pte Frederick Warren Rogers, 2nd Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), was killed in action in France on September 17th, 1918. He was a son of Frederick Rogers, licensee of the Volunteer Inn, Bailey Street, Luton, since 1911, when he, his wife Lily Sarah Frances and family moved to Luton from Kettering.

Private George Jack Bacchus

Pte George Jack Bacchus, 57178, 12th North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales) Regiment, was killed in action in Flanders on September 12th, 1918. He left a widow and four children at 3 Burr Street, Luton.

Pte Bacchus had been in hospital for six months prior to his death, suffering from shell shock. He underwent an operation, and was subsequently discharged from hospital and went again up to the line. He had been serving for only a day or two when he met his death.

Private Harold Stuart Lee

Pte Harold Stuart Lee, 73494, 23rd Brigade Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action in France on September 7th, 1918. His widowed mother Olive, living at Marsh Farmhouse, was informed that he had been shot through the heart by a German sniper.

Harold had taken the place in the Army of Aubrey William, so that his brother could manage the farm following the death about 18 months previously of their father, Evan William Lee.

Private George Thomas Janes

Pte George Thomas Janes, 79040, 1/7th Durham Light Infantry, died from dysentery in the Crossen prisoner of war camp in Germany on September 6th, 1918. He had been reported captured at Maizy in France on May 27th. Pte Janes had seen two years of military service, but had been in France only since the January before his capture.

For about 20 years before joining up he had been the postman for the Leagrave area. In the 1901 Census he was described as a rural postman living with parents John and Rebecca and family at 127 Russell Street, Luton.

Private Edward Thomas Gooch

Pte Edward Thomas Gooch, 36023, 8th Battalion Gloucester Regiment, was killed in action while serving with a Lewis Gun team in France on September 6th, 1918. He was aged 19 and single.

A Second Lieutenant wrote to his bereaved mother Annie at 5 New Street, Luton, that her son and his pals were all together when shells came over. Only one of the team survived.

Edward had joined up on May 20th, 1917, at the age of 18, and underwent ten months' training in England. He was drafted to France at Easter 1918 and served there until his death.

Private Hugh Cumberland

Pte Hugh Cumberland, 51175, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on September 5th, 1918. He was aged 19.

Born in Leagrave on March 26th, 1899, he was one of four sons of John and Eleanor Jane Cumberland, of 89 Marsh Road, Leagrave.

Private James Barnard Watkins

Pte James Barnard Watkins, 11021, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, died on September 3rd, 1918, from wounds sustained in action at Gezaincourt in France. He had returned from home leave only a week earlier, and had crossed over from Dover on August 29th.

A letter of sympathy from a Chaplain informed parents James Barnard and Alice Maud Watkins, of 125a North Street, Luton, that he had would be burying their eldest son on September 4th at a military cemetery. In due course a cross would be erected over his grave.

Private Edward Amos Perry

Pte Edward Amos ('Ted') Perry, 39940, London Regiment (1st Surrey Rifles), died in a casualty clearing station in France on September 2nd, 1918, from wounds sustained in action.

Born in Slip End in 1899, he was a son of George and Emily Perry, of Summer Street, Slip End. He enlisted on March 31st, 1917, and went to France the following March.

Prior to enlisting, he had worked for T. Lye & Sons in Luton.


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