Gnosall Parish Council
Our Mission is to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the Parish of Gnosall and those who visit it.
Few events resound through history quite like the Battle of the Somme, which lasted from July 1st 1916 until November 18th that year. It has come to stand as a symbol of the futility of trench warfare and the casualty figures still make staggering reading. By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties, including almost 60,000 on the first day alone; the French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000. Many of those who lost their lives were inexperienced young men in “Pals” Battalions – troops who joined battalions made up of local men. This was initiated to instil a sense of comradeship and build courage – but it devastated many towns and villages by wiping out all their menfolk at one fell swoop. No trip to the First World War battlefield cemeteries will ever be forgotten, especially when you see the graves of soldiers aged just 16 – boys indeed.
The Thiepval Memorial, in Authuille, commemorates the missing of the Somme and bears the names of 72,246 British Empire servicemen with no known grave. Even on the sunniest of days, there is a brooding force about this place which can almost be felt.
Gnosall played its part in this battle and several men with Gnosall connections lost their lives in it:
Ronald Henry Baugust, Private 1389 - 15th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, killed in action on Sunday 3rd September 1916, aged 25. He was the son of Henry, former Head of Gnosall Parochial School.
Herbert Broome, Private 18828 - 1st Bn. King's Shropshire Light Infantry, killed in action on Monday 25th September 1916, aged 18. His father’s family was from Blymhill and Gnosall.
Thomas Cartwright, Private 11518 - 1st Bn. Coldstream Guards, died of wounds Friday 24th November 1916 aged 27. His family lived at the Hollies in Gnosall Parish.
Harold John Fellows, Private 1117 - 14th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment, killed in action on Saturday 22nd July 1916, age 29. He was married to Annie Greening, whose mother had run the Horns Hotel, where Annie lived as a child.
Joseph William Johnson, Private 4530 - 1st/6th North Stafford Regiment, killed in action on Saturday 1st July 1916 age 27. His parents were both Gnosall born and Joseph had been baptised at St. Lawrence, where his parents had married.
Fred Jones, Private 20248 -1st Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment, killed in action on Thursday 12th October 1916, age 21. Fred was born and baptised in Gnosall and his mother was from Cowley.
Arthur Richards, Private 18556 - 1st Bn. Grenadier Guards, killed in action on Monday 25th September 1916, aged 25. He was baptised at St. Lawrence and his mother came from Gnosall Heath.
George Turner, Private 16887 - 2nd Bn. Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action on Sunday 4th March 191 7, age 36. His parents were from Outwoods (where George was born) and Haughton.
Out of this list, only Thomas Cartwright has a known burial place at Grove Town Cemetery, Somme, France. All the others are listed at Thiepval. It would be interesting to know whether any of their relations still have connections with the village or parish. If you know of any of them, or of other names associated with the battle, please do let us know.
Gnosall paid its own small tribute when a group of people met on the Stafford to Newport Greenway on Friday 1st July to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. The event was organised by Paul Boston, Sustrans volunteer ranger for this part of the National Cycle Network route.
A two-minute silence was observed in the open air near Coley Bridge on the disused railway line near Outwoods. The site was chosen because service men set off on this railway to serve in the Great War, and this countryside may have been among the last they saw in England.
It was a moving ceremony, with the sounds of birdsong and sheep in the background. The birds in particular brought memories of stories from the Battle of the Somme, when soldiers listened to their song in the woods of northern France.
It is hoped that a bench commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme may be placed along this stretch of the Greenway, in association with Gnosall Parish Council (and Staffordshire County Council). Some parts of the Greenway were named after battles in the Great War. The cycle route here was very muddy prior to re-surfacing of this last section of the Greenway by the landowners, Staffordshire County Council, and is known as