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 John Henry Ford

Pte John Henry Ford, 242622, 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, died in Wardown Hospital on November 24th, 1918. He had been discharged from service the previous July with diabetes mellitus and muscle wastage that he first began to suffer while serving in Egypt and Palestine.

The 23-year-old was buried with full military honours at Biscot Church Cemetery on November 29th, 1918.

Private George William Bone

Pte George William Bone MM, 90015, 137th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed in action in France on April 9th, 1918, along with fellow stretcher-bearer and Lutonian Pte Thomas Ralph Corney. They were carrying a wounded officer from the trenches when all three were killed by a shell. Pte Bone had earned the Military Medal in September 1917 after being wounded while carrying an injured man a distance of 350 yards under shell fire.

Private Thomas Ralph Corney

Pte Thomas Ralph Corney, 71953, 137th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed in action in France on April 9th, 1918. He was on stretcher-bearer duty with fellow Lutonian Pte George William Bone MM when a shell claimed them both and the wounded officer they were carrying.

Private Ernest William Bruton

Pte Ernest William Bruton, 202636, 9th Battalion Essex Regiment, died in the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital, Doullens, France, on April 8th, 1918, following gunshot wounds in the back of the neck sustained on the battlefield. He was aged 22 and single.

An old boy of Queen Square School and a former member of the Excelsior football team, Luton, he was a son of Hannah Mary and the late Walter Bruton. At the time of Ernest's death his widowed mother was living at 55 Ash Road, Luton.

Private Frank West

Pte Frank West, 49094, 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in the trenches in France by a shell on April 6th, 1918. He was aged 19, single and the son of George and Annie West, of 111 Guildford Street, Luton.

It was comrade Pte J. W. Harrison (Beds Regiment) who broke the news to the parents in an emotional letter from the Front. He wrote: "He was a lad who was esteemed by us all, and his jovial manner and personality made him popular with all who came into contact with him, from the NCOs to his comrades in the line.

Private William Thomas Clark

Pte William Thomas Clark, 20882, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action near Gentelles on the Somme in France on April 5th, 1918.

He had joined the Army on June 7th, 1915, and went out to France for the first time in the following February. He was wounded in April 1917 but recovered in England and returned to the Front. Prior to enlistment he was employed as a plait dyer by E. W. Hart & Co, Windmill Road.

Private William James Hinds

Pte William James Hinds, 23459, 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action in France on April 3rd, 1918.

William was a son of George and Elizabeth Sarah Hinds, of Rose View, Cumberland Road [now Compton Avenue], Leagrave. He had been wounded in May 1917.

In the 1911 Census William was described as a 19-year-old nurseryman's assistant.

Private Joseph Walter Shackleton

Pte Joseph Walter Shackleton, 307487, 2/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), was reported missing, later presumed killed, in one of the first engagement of the German spring offensive begun on March 21st, 1918.

The only son of Joseph Walter and Cecilia Shackleton, of 189 High Town Road, Luton, he had joined the Army a little over two years earlier and had served in France for 13 months. At the time of enlistment he was engaged on building a breakwater at Dover. His death came at the time he was expecting leave to return home.

Private George William Draper

Pte George William Draper, 82855, 3rd Battalion Machine Gun Corps, was killed in action in France on March 28th, 1918. He was aged 35 and married with one child.

He had joined the Bedfordshire Regiment (8373) on October 27th, 1916, and was trained at Halton. He first got to France on March 1st, 1917, and after a period of service there was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, undergoing further training at Mansfield.

Before joining up, George was employed as a straw plait buncher at the bleaching and dyeing works of Rogers & Ashby in Dunstable Road.

Private Percy Young

Pte Percy Young, 33150, 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, was reported missing, presumed killed, on May 3rd, 1917. It was nearly a year later that parents William and Louisa Young, of Breachwood Green, received confirmation of his death on that date.

Percy was the youngest of the couple's four serving sons. He initially joined the Bedfordshire Regiment (5513) in October 1915 and was trained at Halton Park. He went to France and was transferred to the 8th Leicesters in January 1917.

Private Thomas Carruthers

Pte Thomas Carruthers, 30635, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, died of wounds in France on March 29th, 1918. It was not until the following December that news reached his widowed mother Julia that her son had died of wounds two days after being captured as a prisoner of war.

His Red Cross report said his death followed the shattering of his left upper arm. He was buried in the cemetery at Damery in France.

Private Walter George Dillingham

Pte Walter George Dillingham, 26572, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was presumed killed in action in France on March 28th, 1918.

Although born in Luton, a son of Daniel and Sarah Dillingham, of 4a Essex Street, Luton, he had spent most of his adult life living in Bedford. In the 1901 Census he was working as a fishmonger living in Tavistock Place, Bedford, with two visitors - sisters Fanny and Eliza Stokes. On August 12th, 1906, he married Fanny and they were to have three children. In the 1911 Census he was described as a flower hawker.

Private Frederick George Fleckney

Pte Frederick George Fleckney, 14538, 9th Royal West Surrey Regiment, was killed in action in France on March 21st, 1918, at the opening of the German spring offensive.

Born on August 11th, 1895, he was the son of the late George (died 1915) and Hannah (died 1906) Fleckney, of Mangrove Green, and he had been living with his married sister Elizabeth Henman at Mangrove, near Luton.

Private William Arthur Smith

Pte William Arthur Smith, 13302, 6th Battalion East Kent Regiment (The Buffs), was killed in action on March 28th, 1918. At the time his widow Nellie was making desperate attempts to contact her husband in the hope he could get leave, as his father was dangerously ill. But it was a year later before her husband's death was confirmed.


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