Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry

serving the parishes of Tiptree with Tolleshunt Knights and Great Braxted, Copford, Easthorpe, Messing, Inworth,
Layer de la Haye, Layer Breton with Birch, and Layer Marney

The 'Layer' Parishes: Layer de la Haye • Layer Breton with Birch • Layer Marney

The Fallen of the Layer Parishes in Two World Wars

poppy Layer Marney


(ALBERT) ARTHUR POWELL - Service No. 18384. Private in the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He was killed in action on 18th April 1915 at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in West Flanders aged 19. His name is on the Menin Gate Memorial. Born in Little Bromley, Arthur was the eldest son of the seven children of Arthur and Mary Ann Powell of Brick Kiln Farm, Ipswich Road, Colchester, who had formerly lived in Blind Lane, Birch where his father was a horseman. He lived in Layer Marney at the time of his death.

ARTHUR WADE - Service No. 19576. Private in the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He was killed in action at the Battle of the Ancre on the Somme on 9th July 1916 aged 20 and is buried in the Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-la-Boisselle. Arthur was the son of Arthur ("a County Council Boardman") and Elizabeth, one of seven children and the only surviving son. He was born in Birch and lived in The Row, Layer Breton. He is described in the Parish Magazine as "one of the first nine boys who started the stream of volunteers for Kitchener's army in the parishes".

HORACE BURMBY - Service No. 226684. Pioneer in the road construction unit of the Royal Engineers, died on 1st March 1917 of "broncho-pneumonia" in Aldershot less than a month after joining up aged 41 so he never reached the Front. Born and brought up in neighbouring Birch, Horace was married to Kate Burmby of "the Council Houses", Layer Marney (now Woodview Cottages) at the time. He was a gardener by profession (probably at the Tower as the owners of the Tower had given land for the building of council houses with the proviso that their workers had first refusal of the tenancies - now Woodview Cottages). Horace and Kate had three children, Ivy (born 1902), Stacey William (born 1907) and Leonard (born 1911). Horace was buried in the churchyard at Layer Marney on 8th March 1917. Conscription was introduced in 1916 and as Horace describes himself in his medical reports as "For years troubled with winter colds and shortness of breath" it is probable that he did not volunteer before because he was not very strong. Stacey William was "Bill" Burmby who lived all his life in the village and is fondly remembered by many in Layer Marney.

ERNEST CHARLES MANSFIELD - Service No. 47612. Lance Corporal in the Suffolk Regiment (formerly Bedfordshire Regiment, No 25623). He was killed in action in French Flanders and Artois on 24th June, 1917 aged 20 and is buried at Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay. He was born and lived at Smythes Green, Layer Marney, the third son of David and Esther Mansfield. Lance Corporal Alfred, the eldest of their three sons at the Front, sent a postcard from Dulmen prison in Germany on 28th April 1917 - much to his parents' relief, as he had been officially reported "missing". He returned home in February 1919 suffering from "semi starvation". Corporal Arthur Mansfield survived, having been wounded three times and was awarded the Military Medal in August 1917. In the Birch School inspection report of 1919, Hilda Mansfield is mentioned, born in 1907, she was Ernest's youngest sister, the 8th surviving child. She married John Boreham and they lived in Layer Marney where they were both very active in the church throughout their lives.

WILLIAM FRENCH - Service No. A/200875, formerly 4753. Initially a Private in the Essex Regiment, he transferred to become a Rifleman in the 21st Battalion, the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was killed in action on 11th August 1917 at the age of 28. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. The eldest of eight children, his parents were William Smith and Jane Smith (nee French) from Smythes Green, Layer Marney where William was born. Jane's father, William French, was living with the family before and during the war. William was a farm labourer when he joined up and lived in Messing to which the family moved during the war. His name is on the Messing war memorial. The parish magazine of November 1917 reported, "The war has fallen very hard on Mrs. G. Smith, one of our oldest inhabitants. One of her sons and three of her grandsons have been killed, another grandson three times wounded is now a prisoner of war and two others have been wounded. It is a sad but proud record". This was almost certainly William's grandmother, Mary Ann Smith, who would have been aged 78 in 1917.

HENRY KIRKHAM - Service No. 30825. Private in the 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment. He died of wounds on 27th July 1917 aged 32 following the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery near Poperinge in western Flanders, near the casualty clearing station where he would have been treated. Born in Lytham, Lancashire and married to Catherine, he was a farm worker at Rockinghams Farm, Layer Marney - probably his father either owned it or was the tenant farmer. He had several brothers, at least two of whom, Robert born 1895 and Joseph born 1887 would have been of conscription age in 1916, but there is no record that they served. All were workers on the farm at Rockinghams. His parents, Richard and Catherine Kirkham, had moved to Saxmundham in Suffolk just before or during the war.

GEORGE SACH - Service No. 41807. Private in the Cambridgeshire Regiment. He served in France where he was killed in action on the Somme in the German Spring Offensive on 25th March 1918, aged 19, and is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial. He was the youngest son of Arthur and Caroline Sach of Newbridge Road, Tiptree where he was born.

ALFRED SACH - Service No. 204964. Private in the Northants Regiment. He was killed in action 27th May 1918, aged 27, and is remembered on the Soissens Memorial. He served, like his brother George (above), in French Flanders and had returned home on leave shortly before he died, as reported in the Parish magazine - "All was well". Their other brother, Charles, a Private in the Army Service Corps survived (Service No. R354975).

SIDNEY SILAS HARRINGTON - Service No. 34143. Private in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was killed in action in France on 29th May 1918, aged 22, and is buried at St Venant Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq. His parents were Silas (a seed grower) and Charity Emily Harrington of Stock House, Layer Marney and he had three brothers and a sister. On Sunday 23rd June the evening service in the church was made, to some extent, "a memorial service for Sidney and others who had fallen in the war - suitable hymns being sung and the Rector preaching a suitable sermon as many of the deceased's friends and relations were present".

HARRY C PETTICAN MM - Service No. 26268. Private 9th Battalion Essex Regiment. The officers' cook, "model of the British fighting man and very popular while in the line with a very cheery face". He died from a bullet to the forehead on 18th September 1918 at the battle of Epehy on the Hindenberg Line, where he is buried in the cemetery just west of the village (Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery). He was awarded the Military Medal in June 1916 - this was the level 3 Gallantry Medal, awarded to personnel below commissioned rank (other ranks equivalent to Military Cross), for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire. Son of George and Lucy Pettican and the youngest of four children, Harry was born in 1889 in Layer Marney and in 1911 he was living in Smythes Green with Ernest and Alice Pettican - Ernest must have been either his uncle or his cousin and Harry was described as a general labourer. There was a huge family of Petticans living in the area. At the Celebration of Peace in Layer Marney on 19th July 1919, "G. Pettican helped with the arrangements for the party". This was probably Harry's father. Mr and Mrs Alfred Pettican are reported to have "returned to Layer Marney on the retirement of the Rev. Boys" so must have moved away after the war. Alfred was Ernest Pettican's younger brother.

ERNEST W PLAYLE - Service No. TR13/63611. Ernest joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on reaching military age. Under training in Northampton, he contracted influenza followed by pneumonia and died on 21st October 1918 aged 18. He was buried in Layer Marney churchyard on 25th October. He was the son of William (a horseman) and Alice Playle of Council Houses, Layer Marney and was the eldest of eight children.

GEORGE W BELL - Service No. 56506. Corporal in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He died on 20th October 1918 from wounds received in action, aged 19, and is buried at Bissegem Communal Cemetery. He lived at Leys Cottage, Layer Marney, one of five children, with his parents Charles and Martha Bell, who later lived at Bush Cottage, Layer Marney.

ALFRED HARVEY - Service No. G/27788. Private in the 2/4th Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment. He served in Egypt where he was killed in action on 12th March 1918, aged 19, at the Battle of Tel 'Azur and is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial. He was born in Layer Marney and lived with his parents Henry and Martha Harvey at Orchard Villa, Endway, Newbridge Road, Tiptree. He was the fifth of nine children.

HAROLD KNIGHT - Service No. 7294. Rifleman in the 7th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He died of wounds on 24th March 1918, aged 30, and is buried in Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension. He was killed three days after the start of the German Spring Offensive known as "Operation Michael", in northern France. He was the youngest son of Charles and Elizabeth Knight who had nine children and lived in Keeper's Cottage, Layer Marney where Charles was a gamekeeper. Harold had moved away to Hunsden, Herts., but was a professional soldier who was stationed near Aldershot in 1911, so had presumably seen active service with his regiment throughout the war including the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.


Many made the supreme sacrifice, but it is also proper to remember those who returned - many crippled, gassed or wounded and for them and their families, life would never be the same again. However, many families suffered in silence. One hears again and again "My grandmother never spoke of it" or "He was never mentioned" or "We were not allowed to ask questions about him".

Captain C F Round (the local landowner) suggested that as well as a memorial to the fallen, the greatest need was for a parish hall "especially in view of the large number of men who have come back to the Parish and who will feel the desire for social intercourse which was such a feature of army life". The Parish Hall was opened on 19th October 1921 in Birch.

The memorial tablet in Layer Marney Church was unveiled by Mrs Round and dedicated by the Bishop of Colchester on 13th June 1920.



poppy Birch and Layer Breton



Biographical Notes:

MAJOR CHARLES ERNEST HIGGINBOTHAM - 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Born in July, 1866, he was killed at Neuve Chapelle on Thursday, 11th March 1915, aged 48. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in France. A keen cricketer he was a member of the M.C.C. from 1896. He married a daughter of the Rt Hon James Round, and served in the South African war. He was the son of Mr and Mrs C T Higginbotham, of Craigmaddie, Milngavie, Glasgow.

ARTHUR PROCTOR - No details are available.

THOMAS HENRY FINNEY - Service No. 6709. Corporal in the 2nd Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). Died on Saturday, 8th May 1915, aged 33. Buried at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Belgium. Wife of the late Elizabeth Patten Finney of Hardy's Green, Birch.

FRANK BATTERHAM - Service No. 24818. Private in the 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Died on Thursday, 15th March 1917, aged 39. Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension in France. Husband of Fanny Louisa Batterham of Birch Green.

ROBERT ERNEST BAKER - Service No. 34115. Private in the 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died on Wednesday, 16th May 1917, aged 20. Buried in Feuchy British Cemetery, France. Son of the late Ernest and Emily Baker, of Layer de la Haye, Essex; husband of Kate Ellen Baker, of Layer Breton.

JOHN GOOCH - Service No. 14699. Private in the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died on Friday, 15th September 1916. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

LEWIS POTTER - Service No. 24825. Private in the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Died on Wednesday, 16th August 1916, aged 20. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Brother of Miss M Potter, Shatters Road, Layer Breton.

HENRY W WARNER - Service No. 156624. Gunner in "D" Battery, 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Dies on Monday, 6th August 1917. Buried in Godewaersvelde British Cemetery, France. Son of Mr J M Warner, 2 Meadow Side, Layer Breton.

ARTHUR THOMAS GOODY - Service No. 48153. Private in the 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. Died on Friday, 10th August 1917, aged 27. Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium. Brother of Mr S E Goody, of 119, Gurney Road., Stratford, London.

CHARLES JAMES PARTNER - Service No. 43191. Private in the 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. Dies Tuesday, 26th September 1916, aged 23. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Son of Mr and Mrs William Partner, of White House Cottage, Layer Breton, Colchester.

ERNEST TAYLOR - Service No. 45616. Private in the 5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Died on Friday, 2nd November 1917. Commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial.

HARRY PEPPER - Service No. 40345. Private in the 12th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Died on Thursday, 6th December 1917. Buried in the Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery, France. Son of John and Indianna Pepper; husband of M A Pepper, of Rectory Road, Copford, Colchester.

JOHN WILLIAM SPARLING - Service No. 20134. Private in the 13th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Died on Saturday, 23rd March 1918, aged 29. Buried in the Bac-du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleulval, France. Husband of Lily Sparling, of Birch Street, Birch, Colchester.

ALFRED MEAD - Service No. A/204997. Rifleman in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, attd. 1st/15th Battalion. London Regiment (Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles). Died on Friday, 5th April 1918. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France.

SYDNEY GOWER - Service No. K/16375 (CH). Stoker 1st Class on HMS Pembroke. Died on Wednesday, 15th May 1918, aged 30. Buried at Caister-on-Sea Cemetery, Great Yarmouth. The June 1918 issue of the Birch, Layer Breton, and Layer Marney Parish Magazine announced his death "after a long and distressing illness, contracted during active service. He was married in Birch Church two years ago to Miss Agnes Fletcher, and leaves one child."

BASIL STOW - 2nd Lieutenant, 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Died on Tuesday 22nd October 1918, aged 28. Buried at Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Walter J and E Stow, of Heckfordbridge, Birch, Colchester.

ARTHUR SMITH - Service No. 7875. Private in the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. Died Wednesday 26th August 1914, aged 27? Buried at Troisvilles Communal Cemetery, France.

CHARLES SMITH - Service No. 838. Rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, Rifle Brigade. Died Sunday 18th October 1914. Commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium.

ARTHUR WADE - Service No. 19576. Private in the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He was killed in action at the Battle of the Ancre on the Somme on Sunday 9th July 1916 aged 20 and is buried in the Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-la-Boisselle, France. Arthur was the son of Arthur ("a County Council Boardman") and Elizabeth, one of seven children and the only surviving son. The son of William and Elizabeth Ann Wade, he was born in Birch and lived in The Row, Layer Breton. He is described in the Parish Magazine as "one of the first nine boys who started the stream of volunteers for Kitchener's army in the parishes". His name appears on the War Memorial tablet in Layer Marney church (see above) as well as on the Birch War Memorial.

VICTOR A G MAWBERRY - Service No. 15905. Private in "B" Company, 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died on Saturday 17th October 1914, aged 19. Buried in Brighton City (Bear Road) Cemetery, Sussex. The son of George and Tryphena Mawberry of Birch, Colchester.

COLONEL FRANK WILLIAM LUARD - Royal Marines Light Infantry, Portsmouth Battalion, Royal Navy Division, died on July 13th 1915, aged 50, and rests in Grave II B 3 at the Skew Bridge Cemetery in Gallipoli. Frank earned the 1914 Star and bar with the War and Victory medals. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the RMLI in 1884; He took part in the defence of Antwerp during 1914, and was wounded at Anzac on May 3rd 1915. Frank was Officer Commanding, Portsmouth Battalion from August 27th 1914 until his death, and was twice Mentioned in Despatches - London Gazette Aug 5th 1915 and Jan 28th 1916; He was born in January 1865, at Hatfield Peverel, the fourth son of the Rev. Bixby Garnham Luard, Rector of Birch, and Clara Isabella Sandford, nee Bramston, Luard, and was the husband of Eloise Beatrice (nee Perkins) Luard, whom he had married on July 14th 1896, of Nashenden, Rochester, and was the father of two daughters. His 1914 Star was issued to his widow on June 24th 1919.

CLAUDE PARTNER - Service No. 83301. Gunner with the 66th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Died Monday 1st October 1917, aged 21. Buried in the White House Cemetery, St Jean-les-Ypres, Belgium. Son of Mr and Mrs W Partner of White House Cottage, Layer Breton.

ARTHUR CANSDALE - Service No. 24994. Private in the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died of pneumonia on 26th February 1916. Buried in All Saints' Churchyard, Dovercourt, Essex.

CLAUDE V HELLEN - Service No. 14695. Private in the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died on Sunday 15th October 1916. Buried in Bancourt British Cemetery, in France. Son of Mr A Hellen, 1, Newbridge Rd., Tiptree, Essex.

HORACE BURMBY - Service No. 226684. Pioneer in the Royal Engineers. Died on Thursday, 1st March 1917, aged 41. Buried in St Mary's Churchyard, Layer Marney. Husband of Kate Burmby, Council Houses, Layer Marney.

BERTIE CURTIS - Service No. G/50139. Private in the 16th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. Died on Friday, 25th May 1917, aged 29. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France. Son of Henry and M J Curtis, of New Cut, Layer de la Haye; husband of Elizabeth Curtis, of Heath Cottage, Layer de la Haye.

HENRY GEORGE SMITH - Service No. 14141. Private in the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment. Died on Sunday 26th September 1915, aged 38. Commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France. Husband of Caroline Smith of Birch Street, Birch.



The War Memorial commemorating The Fallen of Birch and Layer Breton stands on a small green in front of St Peter's Church, Birch, opposite Birch School. The original memorial, in the form of a cross, was constructed from roof timbers taken from the former Layer Breton Church. By spring 2002, after nearly 85 years, the old cross was suffering badly from the effects of the weather, some rot and death watch beetle, and had to be removed. A fine replacement was made and this was erected in August 2002. The considerable task of carving the inscription and all the names of the fallen on the new memorial was undertaken by Mr Tony Blyth of Layer Breton, and the joinery by Mr Tommy Wayman of Birch.

Biographical Note:

SERGEANT GORDON FREDERICK STUDLEY - RAF Volunteer Reserve - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. Died on 22nd July 1942, aged 25. Buried in the Tel El Kebir War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. The husband of Lena Florence Studley, he was the son of Albert and Alice Studley who for many years owned and ran the village shop in Birch. The grave of Albert and Alice is in Birch churchyard.

poppy Layer de la Haye





Footnote: The names of Robert Baker, Arthur Cansdale and Bertie Curtis also appear on the Birch and Layer Breton memorial.

There are two War Memorials commemorating The Fallen of Layer de la Haye. One is the Cross, originally erected in 1921 and replaced in 1997, which stands on the small green opposite the end of Malting Green Road. The other is in the South aisle of the church. They both bear the same names, but in slightly different orders.

Biographical Notes:

During 2014, the centenary of the start of The Great War, Anne and Barrie Hughes and several others put much effort into researching the lives of those whose names are on the Layer de la Haye War Memorial. Some of the information they found was published in instalments in the Layer de la Haye Parish Gazette and is reproduced here. The research is on-going and Anne and Barrie would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has any more details about these people (Tel 734168). Their information was mainly sourced from and census information.

ROBERT ERNEST BAKER - was born on 6th June 1896 in Layer de la Haye. His parents were Ernest and Emily Baker. Robert started at Layer de la Haye School on 6th September 1909 and left exactly one year later on 6th September 1910 (aged 14). His Great Grandparents lived and worked at Needles Eye Farm which was situated off New Cut in the area where Heatherfields is today. In 1911 Robert (aged 14) was living and helping with the work at Needles Eye Farm. He married Kate Ellen Howard of Layer Breton in 1916 and they had a son, also called Robert, born in 1916.

Robert (senior) enlisted in the 9th Battalion of the Essex Regiment as a Private, Service No 34115. He died of his wounds at the age of 20 on 16th May 1917 and is buried in Feuchy British Cemetery in Arras, France.

ERNEST ROBERT BALDWIN - was born in Peldon in 1889. His mother and father, Robert and Emily, lived at 39 Colchester Road, Peldon. Robert was a Cattle Yardman and worked on Moor Farm, Colchester Road, Peldon. By 1891 Ernest had three brothers and two sisters. In 1901 the family were living at 41 Colchester Road, Peldon and it would appear that one of his sisters had died. In 1911, Ernest, aged 22, was still working as a Cattle Yardman. He had married Olive Ruth Radford in 1910, aged 21, and at that time they were living in a four-roomed house in West Mersea and had a 9 month old baby son named George who was born in Layer de la Haye. Olive's brother was also living with them and worked as a farm labourer.

Ernest enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment as a Private in Colchester, Service No 26912. He died of his wounds on 18th August 1917 at the age of 28 years. He is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 in Belgium.

GEORGE BARTON - was born in 1893 in Stanway. In 1901 he was living with his grandparents, Henry and Hannah Parmenter, in The Copse, near Birch Hall.

By 1911 George, aged 18, was living with his uncle and aunt, Frederick and Sarah Gentry, at Malting Green. George and Frederick were both Farm Labourers.

George enlisted in the Army in Leyton as a Private, Service No 300961, joining the 7th Battalion of The Essex Regiment. Records show that at the time of his enlistment George was living with Annie Barton in South Woodford. He was 19 and a bricklayer.

He served in Palestine and was killed in action on 19th September 1918. He is buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, Palestine. He is commemorated in Holy Trinity Church, South Woodford and is also on the Roll of Honour at our church.

FRANK F BLAND - was born in Hinxsworth, Bedfordshire in 1883. His father, William, was a cowman and horse keeper. At the age of 18 Frank was living in Hertfordshire with his family and was a bricklayer's labourer.

In 1906, at the age of 23, he married Charlotte Curtis, a tailoress, who was born and raised in Layer de la Haye. She was the daughter of James Curtis, an engine driver from Church Road.

By 1911, Frank, now 28, and Charlotte, 30, were living in Church Road and had three children; Winifred aged 5, Hilda aged 3 and Dorothy, born in 1911.

Frank enlisted in the army in Welwyn as a Private, Service No 7458, and joined the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. He died on 25th October 1914 in Pas de Calais. No other details are known.

After the war Charlotte and the children moved to Armistice Cottages, New Cut. The eldest daughter, Winifred, had a daughter Vera who was born in 1923 and brought up by Charlotte.

Charlotte subsequently had a son, Sidney. Sidney married Anna and they are both buried in our churchyard. Charlotte, who died in 1955, is also buried there.

Vera had a daughter, Janet, who lives in Colchester.

ERNEST BURLEIGH - was born in 1887 in Manor Park, Essex. His father was the manager of a coal merchant's. He had four brothers and three sisters. The family moved to Seven Kings and by 1908 Ernest was working as a draper's assistant in Holborn.

He joined the Territorial Force of the City of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) as a Private, Service No 3381. He had previously tried to join the Navy but was rejected because of poor eye-sight.

By 1911 the family had moved to 10 The Avenue, Colchester and Ernest was working with his father as a clerk in a coal and general builders' merchants. In 1911 Ernest married Minnie Brunwin who had been born in Wix. They ran a butcher's shop which was at the rear of the Fox Public House in Layer and they lived on the premises.

In August 1914, at the age of 27, Ernest enlisted as a Lance Corporal (Service No 622681) and transferred to the Labour Corps.

He died in Purfleet Military Hospital of influenza which he contracted on his way home from Egypt. He is buried in Colchester Cemetery.

He is commemorated on three Rolls of Honour — The Memorial at Colchester Town Hall, at Lion Walk Church and at Layer de la Haye.

ARTHUR CANSDALE - was born in Layer in 1876. His father was an agricultural labourer and he had one younger brother, Robert.

By 1891 Arthur, aged 15, had followed in his father's footsteps and become an agricultural labourer, whilst his brother was a baker's assistant.

It seems he married in 1907 but there are no details of who his wife was. But they had moved to Birch.

Arthur enlisted in the 3rd Battalion, Essex Regiment, as a Private, Service No 24994. He died in England on 26th February 1916 at a Military Hospital but it is not known which one.

He is buried in the churchyard at All Saints' Church, Dovercourt.

GEORGE HENRY WILLIAM CLARKE AND HORACE CLARKE - Two brothers who were both born in Layer de la Haye, George in 1887 and Horace in 1889. Their father, also George, was born in Bruisyard, Suffolk and was an agricultural labourer. Their mother, Ellen, was born in Layer and was a tailoress.

The boys lived at 4 Church Road, Layer to start with, but eventually they acquired four sisters, Cicely, Caroline, Alice and Edith, and the family moved to a larger, 5-bedroomed cottage in Rye Lane. Their father became a horseman on Rye Farm and the boys were farm labourers.

George (junior) enlisted in the army at Colchester as a Rifleman (Service No A200943) in the 13th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was killed in action on 4th November 1918 aged 31. He is buried in Beaurain British Cemetery in France.

Horace enlisted in the army in Colchester as a Bombardier (Service No 622031) in the Royal Field Artillery (Transport) and was posted to the Egyptian Theatre. He died of fever in Palestine on 23rd October 1918, aged 28.

CYRIL GORDON CREES - was born in Tiptree in 1897. His father, Richard Peplow Crees was born in 1864 and was from Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire. His mother, Janet, was born in 1863 in Ufton, Berkshire.

In 1901 the family consisted of six children (4 boys and 2 girls) who were living at 10 High Road, Layer de la Haye. Richard was a self-employed house decorator. By 1911 they had moved to Layer Road. Cyril was 14 by now and was assisting his father in his business as was his older brother, George.

Cyril enlisted in the army as a Private, Service No 32897, in Colchester on 24th April 1916 when he was 19. His address then was Berechurch Lodge, Layer Road. He joined up with the 8th (Cyclist) Battalion, Essex Regiment.

Cyril was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on the 27th April 1916 and sailed for Salonica on the 5th July that year. He was wounded in action on the 17th March 1917 and died at the 28th Casualty Clearing Station the following day. He is buried in Karasouli Military Cemetery in Greece.

FRANK CURRY - was born in Bury St Edmunds in 1878. His father, William, was a blacksmith who was born in Brettenham in Suffolk. His mother, Georgina, came from Whepstead, also in Suffolk.

By 1891 William was a widower and Frank had a brother, William, who was aged 6.

By 1901 the family had moved to Layer and were living at The Cross and were the blacksmiths at "The Forge". William (senior) had remarried.

In the census of 1911 Frank was shown as a patient in Essex County Hospital and his home address was New Cut, Layer.

Frank married Beatrice Lily Bewers and they had a daughter, Rosia Lilian Bewers

In 1915 Frank (aged 37) enrolled in the army at Warley, Suffolk. He joined the 10th Battalion, Royal North Lancashire Regiment as a Private, Service No 35884.

He was awarded the Victory medal but was killed in action on 14th April 1917 aged 39. He is buried in Duisans British Cemetery in France.

BERTIE CURTIS - was born in 1888 in Layer de la Haye. His father, Henry, was an agricultural labourer and his mother, Mary Jane, was a tailoress.

By the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 13 The Heath, New Cut. Bertie was three years old and had two younger sisters.

By 1901 Henry had changed occupations and become a road labourer. Bertie was 13 and working as an assistant gardener. The family was rapidly expanding and in total there were 11 children born to Henry and Mary Jane, one of whom died young.

By 1911 they were living at 97 New Cut and Bertie was a gardener on the Round Estate.

In 1914 Bertie married Elizabeth Butcher and they lived in The Heath.

Bertie enlisted in the army in Colchester as a Private (Service No 41517) in the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) but subsequently transferred to the Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment, 16th Battalion (No. G/5039).

He was killed in action on 25th May 1917 in France and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.

FRANK FENNING - was born in 1885 in Layer de la Haye. By the time of the census of 1891 Frank's father had died and his mother Elizabeth, aged 32, was described as a tailoress. The head of the household was a Frederick Fenning, described as an uncle, and they were living "near" Malting Green.

By 1901 Elizabeth had remarried to a Martin Clarke and they had a child, Colin. They were living at 19 High Road and Frank was an agricultural labourer. Ten years later the family were living in Heath Cottages.

Frank enlisted in the army at Warley as a Private, Service No 36716, with the 10th Battalion, The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

He died at home on 21st January 1918. The circumstances of his death are unknown. He is buried in Layer de la Haye churchyard.

LEONARD JOHN GARDINER - was born on 29th June 1887 in the City of London. His parents were John and Sarah Gardiner and in 1891 were living in St Brides.

Leonard was recorded as being admitted to Laystall Street School, Camden in 1893.

In 1901 census information recorded the family living in Beckenham. By 1911 the family were living in Lambeth. John was a steel pen maker, Leonard was a law clerk and he had three sisters who were all chorus singers.

In August 1916 he enlisted as an Aircraftsman in the Royal Naval Air Service / Royal Flying Corps (Service No 334315) Battalion Aircraft Park.

He died on 13th June 1920 in Iraq. He is commemorated in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

It is not known what his connection is to Layer de la Haye.

RONALD BENTALL HORWOOD - was born in 1884 in Stebbing, Essex. By 1901 he was living in Wisbech in Suffolk. It is believed that his father, Henry Samuel Horwood, originated from Long Morston in Hertfordshire. His mother was Caroline Sarah Horwood who came from Greenstead Green, near Halstead in Essex. They had four children - Ronald, Reginald, Ernest and Julia.

By 1911 the family had moved to Leighton House, 7 Victoria Road, Colchester. The father, Henry, was a draper and Ronald was a pupil on Layer Hall Farm which was owned by Joseph Royce Norfolk. He was now 16 and living on the farm. It appears that Ronald had more brothers and sisters by now — namely Irene, John and Frank.

Ronald joined the 3rd Battalion (attached to the 1st Battalion) of the Essex Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant.

He was wounded in Gallipoli, but the nature and seriousness of his injuries are not known.

He was killed on the Somme on 1st July 1916 at the age of 22 years. He is buried at the Ancre British Cemetery, Somme in France.

CECIL HERBERT GEORGE HOWARD - was born in Layer de la Haye on 24th April 1898. His father, Herbert was a wheelwright. His mother was Florence. They were both born in 1877.

Cecil started at Layer School on 7th January 1903 and he was pupil No 86 on the register. He left school on 12th May 1911.

In 1911 the family were living at Jubilee Cottages, High Road. The children consisted of Cecil aged 12, Edna aged 6, Lily aged 2 and Gerald - 9 months. All were born in the village.

Cecil enlisted in the army in Colchester as a Private - Service No. 28794, joining the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment.

He died of his wounds on 30th October 1918 at the age of 20. He is buried in Premont British Cemetery, Aisne, France.

BERTIE FREDERICK KETTLE - was born on 27th May 1897 in Layer. His father was Robert, a horseman, and his mother was Zipporah, a tailoress.

In 1901 the family were believed to be living in Church Road and Bertie had a younger sister, Cissy, 8 months old.

Bertie started at Layer School on 27th May 1902 He had several lengthy periods of absence, possible due to ill-health or he may have been sent out to work. He left Layer school on 5th May 1911.

By 1911 the family consisted of two boys (Bertie and Wilfred) and three girls (Cissy, Dorothy and Gladys) and had moved to Providence Cottages, High Road. Zipporah's brother, Jonathan Wright, was also living with them. Zipporah died in 1911.

Bertie enlisted in the army in Colchester on 22nd March 1915 at the age of 18. He gave his occupation as Farm Servant. He joined the Machine Gun Corps (formerly 10879 Essex Regiment) as a Private, Service No 45419.

He was killed in action on 10th July 1917 and is buried at Menin Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, plot 1.R.11

FREDERICK CHARLES KING - was born in 1889 in East Mersea. His father, Frederick Adolphus King was born in 1850 in Peldon and was an agricultural labourer. His mother, Mira, was born in 1849 and had been previously married to a Mr Lee. She and Mr Lee had five sons - Joseph, Ernest, Abraham, John and Ward.

In 1891 Frederick was living with his parents in The Old Rectory, East Mersea together with all five of Mira's children.

By 1901 the family were living at 54 Main Road, East Mersea. Frederick's father was a stockman on a farm as were his step-brothers Ernest and Abraham. Mira died in 1903 at the age of 54.

Frederick's father remarried in 1907. His new wife was Emma and she had been born in Wigborough in 1839.

By 1911 Frederick's father was a stockman at Blind Knights, Fields Farm Road, Layer, as was Frederick himself.

Frederick enlisted in the army in Colchester in 1914 and on his call-up papers he gives his next of kin as Frederick Adolphus and Emma King of Malting Green, Layer. He joined the 6th Battalion, The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) regiment as a private, Service No G/17837.

He was killed in action on 19th October 1917 aged 30 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the missing in France.

FREDERICK SAMUEL PALMER - was born on 28th October 1899 in Layer de la Haye. Full details of his parents are not known but his war records show Mr and Mrs S Palmer of 38 Friday Wood Cottages, Berechurch as his next of kin.

Frederick attended Layer de la Haye school, enrolling on 31st October 1904 at the age of 5. He was pupil number 131 on the register. He left school on 14th March 1913 (aged 13). At this time it is believed the family home was at Lower Cottages, Lower End, Layer.

He enlisted in the army in Colchester as a Lance Corporal, Service No G/69135 in the 1st Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) regiment.

He was killed in action on 21st September 1918 at the age of 18 years. He is buried at the Villers Hill British Cemetery, Villers-Guislan, France.

GEORGE FREDERICK PAMPLIN - was born in 1891 in Feering. His parents were Willie and Carrie Pamplin. Willie was a bricklayer. George had two older brothers, Robert and William.

In 1911 George was living in Farnborough, Hampshire and he was a "domestic chauffeur".

In 1915 George enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps as a private, Service No M2/077446 and was sent to western France on 1st May 1915.

In 1917 George married Caroline E Baker in Lexden. In 1911 she had been living at The Cross in Layer de la Haye with her father and grandparents. Her father, Arthur, was a carpenter.

George died of influenza on 16th February 1919. He is buried at Douai British cemetery in Cuincy. His estate was valued at £269, 18 shillings and 4 pence.

After George's death, Caroline married a Mr Bewers and lived at Waldegraves Cottage, East Mersea.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN RADFORD - was born in Camberwell, London in 1893. His father, George Radford, was born in 1864 in Abberton / Langenhoe. His mother, Anna, was born in St Osyth in 1859.

In 1901 the family were living in Camberwell. George was a tram driver for London County Council. By now George and Anna had four children, Percy aged 18, George aged 14, Olive aged 11 and Christopher aged 7.

In the 1911 census Christopher, now aged 18, was working on a farm together with Percy and his father. All three were cowmen. The family lived in a five-roomed house near the church in Layer de la Haye.

Christopher enlisted in the army at Colchester as a private, Service No. G/21502, with the 11th battalion, Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

He was killed in action on 1st August 1917. He is commemorated at the Menin Gate, Ypres.

DONOVAN EDWARD STANFORD - was born in June 1889 in Colchester. His father, Charles, was born in 1846 and his mother, Louisa, in 1862.

In 1891 the family were living in Braiswick House, Bergholt Road, Colchester. Charles was recorded as an estate agent, bank agent and farmer. They had six children - Eva 8, Gerald 7, Ida 6, Ivan 4, Donovan 2 and Alan, 11 months. They also had a governess and three servants living with them.

By 1901 Donovan, aged 13, was at boarding school at Eversley House, The Common, Southwold.

In 1910 Donovan married Susannah Dancey Brunwin, who had been born in Tendring. In the 1911 census, they were living in 18 Rupert Road, Guildford and Donovan is described as a Fitter and Turner.

Donovan enlisted in the army as a 2nd Lieutenant, Service No 18546. He joined the 6th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers (attached to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment).

He was killed in action on 21st March 1918. He is commemorated on the Pozieres memorial to the missing in France. He is also commemorated in Ireland.

WILLIAM HENRY STORK - was born in Layer de la Haye on 9th January 1880 and baptised in Layer Church. His mother, Mary Fisher, was born in Birch in 1841 and his father, Allen Stork, was born in the West Riding in 1843. He was a soldier.

Allen and Mary had married in Layer de la Haye on 26th December 1876.

In 1881 William was living with his mother Mary and older sister Clara in Canaley Barracks, Hulme, Lancashire. Alan was presumably away on military service.

William joined the army; he was an Acting Regimental Sergeant Major, Service No 4796, in the 18th Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Prince of Wales Dragoon Guards.

On his military records it states he is the husband of Annie Stork (née Sowersby) of Bournemouth.

He died of his wounds on 11th January 1918 at the age of 37. He is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery in France.

JOHN THOMPSON - Unfortunately not much is known about John Thompson.

He was born in Watersfield in Suffolk and then lived in Great Wigborough.

He enlisted in the army in Colchester as a Private, Service No. 16411 and joined the 11th Battalion of the Essex Regiment.

He was killed in action on 26th September 1915.

He is commemorated on the Loos memorial to the missing in France.

HARRY WILLIAM VINSON and WALTER ARTHUR VINSON - Walter was born in Layer de la Haye in December 1886 and Harry ten years later in December 1897. Their father was Samuel Vinson (a farm labourer) and their mother Mary Ann Vinson (née Gentry). In total there were three daughters and four sons in the family and they lived in the High Road. Sadly Mary Ann died at the age of 32 in 1897 when Harry was a few months old.

Walter was first registered at Layer de la Haye School on 22nd April 1901 (registration no 52). He then left school on 21st February 1902. We can only presume that he was ill as some time later he was re-registered in school (registration no 73). He finally left the school on 1st July 1910. He enlisted in the Army as a Private (Service No. 10880) and joined the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment.

He was killed in action on July 1st 1916 at the age of 19. This was the first day on the Somme and the day when the British Army lost more men in a single day than ever before or since.

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing at the Somme in France.

Meanwhile, in 1891 Harry was resident with his maternal grandparents, Joseph and Eliza Gentry, at Garlands Farm Cottage, Birch. By 1901 he was working as an agricultural labourer. He was still living with his grandparents but they had moved to Layer Hall Cottages, Layer.

By 1911 Harry had joined the Army. He was a gunner in India with the Royal Artillery (Service No. 26349). He served with the Heavy Royal Garrison Artillery.

He was killed in action on 31st December 1916 (just six months after his brother) in the Persian Gulf at the age of 29.

He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq.

WILLIAM WILSMORE - was born on 2nd September 1891 in Layer de la Haye. His father (also William Wilsmore) was a horseman. His mother was Charlotte Wilsmore (née Bewers).

The family lived in Fields Farm Road, Layer. Altogether William had two brothers and three sisters. There was a younger brother John, who was born in 1896 and a sister, Emma Amelia, born in 1899. She eventually became a maid working at Blind Knights in Fields Farm Road.

William started school in Layer in 1895.

The census of 1911 shows William (aged 19) working as a roadman and his brother, John, as a farm labourer.

William enlisted in the Army as a Private; Service No 28651, joining the 11th Battalion of the Essex Regiment.

He was killed in action on the Somme on 15th October 1916 at the age of 25.

He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

CLIFFORD WOODS - was born in Layer de la Haye on 4th October 1897. His father, Herbert Woods, was a horseman. His mother, Matilda Woods, (née Clark) was originally from Little Bromley and was a tailoress.

The family lived in New Cut, Layer.

Clifford started at Layer School on 21st May 1900, registration number 45. There is a second school registration number (50) and this sometimes occurred when a pupil had a lengthy period of sickness and had to be re-registered on their return. Clifford left school on 1st October 1909.

Census records of 1911 show Clifford aged 14, as an agricultural labourer. The records also show that there were five brothers and five sisters in the family and that they were still living in New Cut.

Clifford enlisted in the army as a Private; Service No 40202, joining the 4th Bedfordshire Regiment (formerly 28650 Essex Regiment).

He died of his wounds on 16th January 1917 at the age of 20 at the Lord Derby War Hospital in Winwick. He was buried on 20th January 1917 in Warrington Cemetery, Lancashire.

Parishioners' Service in the Great War

The January 1919 issue of the Birch, Layer Breton, and Layer Marney Parish Magazine, carried the following article about parishioners who served in the Great War. It gives a picture of just how many members of a small rural community were caught up in this devastating conflict which changed for ever the course of history and the life of our villages.

Birch and Layer Breton
The Parish and the Great War

Served in Army, Navy, Air Force, Nursing Service - 160
Killed in Action or died on Service - 27
Wounded or Gassed - 37
Prisoners of War - 3
Invalided or Discharged - 14
Awarded Military Honours - 12
Received Commissions - 3

Killed in Action or Died on Service
Arthur Smith
Charles Smith
Victor Mawbery
Frank Luard
Harry Smith
Arthur Wade
Charles Partner
Claude Partner
Arthur Cansdale
Claude Hellen
Horace Burmby
Bertie Curtis
John Gooch
Lewis Potter
Henry Warner
Arthur Goody
Ernest Taylor
Harry Pepper
Alfred Mead
Basil Stowe
John Sparling
Sydney Gower
Charles Higginbotham
Arthur Procter
Thomas Finney
Frank Batterham
Robert Baker
(The last 7 were the husbands of Parishioners living in the Parish.)

Wounded or Gassed
Charles Pooley (4 times)
Leonard Polley (4 times)
Arthur Pepper (3 times)
William Fisher (3 times)
Harry Taylor (twice)
Ernest Taylor (twice)
Charles Humphrey (twice)
Walter Andrews (twice)
William Martin (wounded and blinded)
James Rogers
Arthur Taylor
Samuel Bullock
Reginald Smith
Arthur Fletcher
Ernest Everitt
Percy Moss
Bertie Taylor
Arthur Pitt
Arthur Clark
Samuel Sheppard
William King
John Smith
Frank Luard
Charles Taylor
John Gill
Fred Warren
Fred Fisher
Ernest Cansdale
William Everitt
Ernest Auger
Alfred Manning
Walter Pepper
Percy Smith
Gardner Church
William Taylor
Albert Chaplin

Prisoners of War
William Martin Charles Pooley Samuel Sheppard

Invalided or Discharged
William Duke
Percy Hawes
Charles Taylor (Birch St.)
Charles Taylor (Layer Breton)
Bertie Taylor
Herbert Potter
Samuel Bullock
John Smith
William Fisher
Charles King
Arthur Pitt
Alfred Clark
James Nice
Herbert Holden

Military Honours

Distinguished Conduct Medal - Sergt-Major A Worsley.

Distinguished Service Medal - Basil Hutton, RN.

Military Cross - Sergt-Major J Williams.

Military Medal
Sergt A Manning, Pte Walter Partner, Pte Alfred Mead (Birch Green),
Sapper Albert Chaplin, Pte Arthur Taylor.

Royal Red Cross, 1st Class - Miss Mary Bishop, Miss Kathleen Smith.

Royal Red Cross, 1st Class with Bar - Miss K E Luard.

Order of the Nile - Lt-Col Trant B Luard.

Mentioned in Despatches
Colonel Frank Luard (twice), Miss K E Luard (twice), Miss Kathleen Smith.

John Gill, Basil Stowe, Sydney Sheldrick.

As will be seen above we have two more Military Medals to record:
Sapper A Chaplin, RE, for gallant conduct in bridge making during the final advance; and Pte Arthur Taylor, 9th Essex, for bravery in the Field, of which details are not yet known. We offer our warm congratulations to them both. Arthur Taylor has probably been in France longer than anyone in this Parish, except Miss K E Luard. Birch Green has now three Military Medals.

Footnote: The Luards mentioned above were relatives of Rectors of Birch, The Revd Bixby Garnham Luard, MA, who was Rector from 1908 to 1919, and and Edwin Percy Luard, MA, who was Rector from 1919 to 1947. Luard Way, off Mill Lane (Birch Green), is named after Edwin Luard.

Page updated: 07 Feb 2024 at 20:23