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 Frederick Dean

Pte Frederick Dean, 60115, 101st Labour Company (ex-34th Battalion Royal Fusiliers), died in the 5th General Hospital in Rouen, France, on May 18th, 1918, five days after being admitted with gas shell poisoning.

His eldest brother William (Thomas William Dean) had been killed in action in France just weeks earlier, on March 24th, while helping a wounded soldier. Both brothers had been associated with the Clarence Football Club in their younger days.

Private Percy Pipkin Ward

Pte Percy Wood, 200885, 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in Flanders on April 26th, 1918. He was a single man, aged 19, who had been in the Army for three years but in France for only two months.

Pal Pte Harold Merkins wrote to parents Arthur and Sarah Ward at 51 Frederic Street, Luton, that their son was “sniped through the head” and his death was instant.

Private Herbert Ball

Pte Herbert Leonard Lawrence Ball, 20667, 9th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, was killed in action in Flanders on April 15th, 1918. He had been in France for a year and nine months.

Herbert, born in Surrey in 1884, left a widow and four children living at 70 Oak Road, Luton. Since arriving in Luton he had been a labourer at the Luton Gas Works (1911 Census), and, according to a Luton News report, was a former licensee of the Four Horseshoes pub in Park Street who had worked for George Kent Ltd until joining the Army two years before his death.

Private John Walter Harrison

Pte John Walter Harrison, 48035, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was presumed killed in action in France on May 25th, 1918. He left a widow and five children living at 106 North Street, Luton.

A son of Walter and Fanny Harrison, of Wenlock Street, he was born in 1884. On June 11th, 1908, he married Rose Eames at St Matthew's Church, High Town. Their five children were Ruth Ella (born 1908), Robert Rex (1910), Percy Claud (1912), Kenneth (1915) and Marjorie (1917).

Private Henry Robert Loosley

Pte Henry Robert Loosley, 43591, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment (ex-202523 Suffolk Regiment, attached 53rd Trench Mortar Battery), died suffering from enteritis and heart weakness on May 18th, 1918, while a prisoner of war in Germany. He was single and aged 20.

With no local newspaper reports of his death, the primary local source is the Book of Life compiled at Luton Parish Church. Red Cross records then show that Henry was captured at Moy-de-l'Aisne in France on March 21st, 1918, the opening day of the German spring offensive.

Private Frederick Archer Marshall

Pte Frederick Archer Marshall, 200315, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, died of typhoid fever on May 12th, 1918, while serving in Palestine. He left a widow, Charlotte, and three children living at 6 Albert Terrace, New Town Street, Luton.

Frederick had served as a volunteer for 15 years, and was with Col Brighten's forces in the early stages of the war

Private Ballantyne Blake

Pte Ballantyne Blake, 269159, 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, was reported missing, on July 31st, 1917, following the battle of St Julien. It was nearly a year later that widow Ada Blake was officially told the War Office had concluded that he was killed on or soon after that date.

A comrade had said he saw Pte Blake shot through the head by a machine gun bullet, and he had been left for dead. No further information had been obtained.

Private Christopher Barton

Pte Christopher Barton, 10716, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was reported missing, later killed in action, in Flanders on May 8th, 1918. He was aged 25 and the son of Martha Jane and the late John Samuel, of 59 Chase Street, Luton.

Christopher married Ellen Riddle under licence at St Paul's Church, Luton, on November 17th, 1915. They had a daughter, Ivy, born the following year, and their home address was 73 Park Road West (now Strathmore Avenue), Luton.

Private Arthur Lane

Pte Arthur Lane, 57871, 15th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on March 27th during the German Spring Offensive of 1918. His mother Rose at 36 Chobham Street, Luton, was first informed he was missing on that date. Joining up in July 1915, Arthur trained with the Royal Engineers, but on going to France in December 1916 he was drafted to the Cheshires. Born in St Albans in 1896, he came to Luton at around the time of the outbreak of war and became a machinist with hat firm Clydesdale & Sinfield, of 5 Williamson Street, Luton.

Private Albert Joseph Tompkins

Pte Albert Joseph Tompkins, 203540, 2/4th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was reported missing and later confirmed killed in action in France on March 21st, 1918.

He was the son of Albert Edward and Mary Jane Tompkins, of Crutchmore Farm, Mangrove. He had been in France for 18 months, having joined up in 1915 at the age of 17. He was last on home leave four months earlier.

Private Arthur William Biggs

Pte Arthur William Biggs, 46000, 11th Battalion Essex Regiment, was killed in action in France on March 21st, 1918. He was single and just approaching his 20th birthday.

Parents William and Sarah Elizabeth Biggs, of 23 Vicarage Street, Luton, were informed that their only son was wounded and missing but were unable to find out more at the time, and no messages had arrived from his comrades.

Private William Mather

Pte William Mather, 202793, 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, is recorded as killed in action in France on March 30th, 1918. He had been Superintendent of the Beech Hill Children's Homes in Dunstable Road, where his wife Emily was Matron.

William had joined the Colours 18 months previously, rising to Corporal but reverting to Private on going out to France. He was initially reported as missing.

Private Frederick John Rogers

Pte John Rogers, 128958, 30th Company Machine Gun Corps, was killed by a shell which exploded as he stood by a dug-out door on the Western Front on April 22nd, 1918. He was single and aged 20.

Prior to joining up in November 1916, John (full name Frederick John Rogers) was employed by his father in the bleaching and dyeing firm of Rogers & Ashby, Dunstable Road.

At first he was in a Labour Battalion stationed at Newhaven, but afterwards transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and went through training at Grantham. He had been in France only two months.

Private James Charles Bent

Pte James Charles Bent, 325189, 1/5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on April 21st, 1918 in Flanders. He was single, aged 20 and had served in the Army for 2½ years..

Expressing his sympathy, a military chaplain informed parents Owen and Rosina Bent at 135 North Street, Luton: "He was killed while going into the trenches on the night of the 21st, and was buried next day near the battalion headquarters."

Prior to the war, James had worked for hat manufacturer Mr A. Impey, of 50 Reginald Street.


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