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MEMORIES OF THE GREAT WAR: More local men killed in action back in 1917

More casualties of World War One
More casualties of World War One

The Free Press of one hundred years ago made bleak reading, with yet more local casualties remembered in its pages.

Butcher’s assistant George Gregory – just 19-years-old – was one of those killed. Pte Gregory, of Horbling, who worked Fr JE Holland in Billingborough prior to the war, was killed in action.

A Bourne woman received the news every wife dreaded through the post – her husband Arthur Watson was another fatality. Pte Watson, of the Lincolnshire Regiment, and of Eastgate, Bourne, had been killed in action on September 26 – the letter referred to his gallantry.

Three Long Sutton men had also fallen in France. Pte J Griffiths, of Little London, had died after illness.

Pte George Lenty, a former Metropolitan policeman who stood 6ft 6ins and had fought in the Boer War, “fell in action”.

And Sergt Stanley Gordon Howell, formerly sexton at Long Sutton Parish Church, was another casualty. Sergt Howell, a former employee in the printing office of the Free Press.

There was bad news in Holbeach too, wher Pte David Stearn had also made the “supreme sacrifice”. Pte Stearn, of the Royal Lancaster regiment, was the fourth son of Mr and Mrs J Stearn, of Church Street, and had fallen in action on September 20.

The 35-year-old had only come out of hospital on August 31 after previously being wounded in the side and the left shoulder. It was reported that his brother Fred Stearn was also in the trenches with the Suffolk regiment.

There was relief, however, for a family from Little London in Spalding, who received a letter from their son Pte Tom Gooderson. He had been missing in action but wrote to say he had been injured and was being treated well “so far” in a prisoners’ camp in Germany, where he had been since August 21.

Three more local men who were casualties of the war were pictured in the Lincolnshire, Boston and Spalding Free Press of October 16, 1917.

It was reported that Corpl W Clifton, of Spalding, and Gunr SW Jackson, of Haconby Fen, had died of wounds, while Gunr Harold Dean, of Weston, had been killed in action.

In a letter sent to his mother, it was said that the “well liked, cheerful and respected” Gunr Dean’s death was caused by a German shell which pitched close to him, killing him instantly.


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