The centenary of the outbreak of the Great War was marked throughout 2014 both by the media and in a multitude of local, national and international events. Graphic film footage from the period showed the reality of this conflict. Newspapers carried articles and photographs first published during the war. Every town and village sought to show the respect and thanks felt for the sacrifices made by the troops and their families. The enormity of this sacrifice was graphically shown by the installation at the Tower of London called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ where 888,246 ceramic poppies, equivalent to the number of lives lost, were planted around the moat.

Here in Cockfield the men who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered each year by the schoolchildren at their special Service of Remembrance and by the community on Remembrance Sunday. The question asked in 2014 was how could we show our gratitude more emphatically? The following narrative shows the importance of The National Lottery Funding in supporting our endeavours and enabling the whole community to be involved.

Onset of the Great War

August 4th 1914, the day of the Royal Proclamation of war, would have found Cockfield to be a very quiet country village. Highly dependent on the land, employment was predominantly found in farming, although some men did find work on the railway and various other labouring works such as road maintenance. Even the schoolchildren had their part to play, either stone picking on the fields or helping bring in the harvest. All was dependent on the time of year.

This was a time before the National Health Service and school records show that children were checked regularly for sore throats and other ailments, diphtheria being a real fear at this time. Diets were often poor and the Rector, Canon E. Hill, was noted to have taken regular treats such as fruit and nuts into the school, particularly in the colder months. Such was the hardship that the possibility of needing help from the Sudbury Workhouse was ever present for some families.

With the outbreak of war, the village became involved in supporting the war effort. It was noted in the press that the ladies of Cockfield had undertaken to knit socks, hats and mittens for the troops. To this end the ladies of the Parish set up a committee and were very well organised. The women and girls who volunteered to knit also donated funds for the wool. This money was taken into Bury St Edmunds from where the wool was distributed. Once the items were made they were taken back to the wool distribution point. The Church was at the heart of the support system in the village and the listing showing all the men for whom prayers were offered each week is a tangible reminder of the enormity of the sacrifice that was made at this time. After the war the village community was determined to have some form of memorial to remind future generations of the enormous debt we owe to those who perished.

Post war discussions and decisions

A meeting was held on Tuesday February 18th 1919 to consider a Memorial for the Cockfield men in the Nation’s service, who died during the War. Opinions seemed to gather themselves together on an erection of some sort, whether in granite or some other stone. Then came the discussions around the siting, and again opinions differed at first, but it was finally agreed that the grass- covered triangle where Church Lane opens into Howe Lane should be the position for the memorial. This was undoubtedly purchased from the Lord of the Manor by a previous Rector (it is said as a spot for a public well)

The funding of the agreed memorial was by public subscription. The lists of all subscribers were then posted on both the church and chapel doors.

By June 1919 the council had decided upon a Scottish (Creetown) pale grey granite Cross, ten feet high, surrounded by stone posts and low rails. The cost of the one chosen was to be about £130 10s (130 pounds and 10 shillings). The sum then in hand was £113 4s 9d (113 pounds 4 shillings and 9 pence). Canon Hill promised one third of the remaining sum required with the final deficit being met by a call for further subscriptions.

The long awaited Memorial Cross was set up by the stone masons, F J Lindley of Sudbury, in the week of 8th – 13th March 1920. A service was held on Saturday 3rd April 1920 when it is reported that more attended than could be given seats in the Church. As it was raining heavily the Address by General Massey-Lloyd, late Colonel of the Suffolk, was given in the Church instead of at the Cross. After the service the Rector, Archdeacon and the General, together with the returned soldiers present proceeded to the Cross where Dedication words and a Funeral Collect were read, Buglers sounded the Last Post and the General removed a flag which had veiled the names.

(Detail taken from Parish Council Journal)                                                     

This memorial and the method of funding reflect the heavy losses suffered by the village. From a population of 700 it was recorded that 78 men enlisted and the final death toll was 28. This was a very high percentage of loss from a small rural community. The list of subscriptions shows a high number to be in the sum of just one old penny. This would have been a generous sum from the many impoverished villagers but reflects the strength of feeling within the village. It is possible that everyone would have had a relative, friend or acquaintance that had lost their lives in the conflict.

2014 Commemoration

The Memorial Cross has continued to be a reminder to us all of the sacrifice that servicemen and women make for our peace and security. However, as with all monuments, the elements had a detrimental effect on the granite. It was both covered in lichen and showing the effects of the exhaust fumes of the numerous cars that pass by in present day Cockfield. In effect, it was very dirty.

Following on from early research by Mrs Gillian Hodge (past Church Warden), the late Mrs Betty Barrett and Ms Katie Vaughan who worked at the record office, a project team came together in autumn 2013. The team members were Mrs Gillian Hodge; Mrs Barbara Ruffell (representing Cockfield Parish Council); Mrs Gill Portwood (Poppy Day Appeal co-ordinator); Mrs Leslie Warren  (past school mistress of Cockfield CEVCP primary school) and Mrs Barbara Macdonald, (administrator/ liaison for HLF bid and project). It was proposed that an application be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for financial aid. The bid was to cover three distinct areas. These were:-

  1. Physical works i.e. to clean and refurbish the Memorial Cross and the installation of a stone tablet in St Peter’s Church to replace the hand written one. The latter had been written by Mrs Hodge using her beautiful calligraphic skill. This listing had been renewed three times due to deterioration to which all paper documents are subject.
  2. Research into the backgrounds of all those named on the Memorial Cross. The aim was to give insight to their background, family and working life.
  3. The funding of school projects. It was proposed that in supporting the curriculum of the school in relation to the First World War we would strengthen the children’s understanding of the conflict and the debt owed to those who gave their lives. In essence this would be a major part of the heritage we envisaged for the project. With the enthusiastic support of Mrs Trudi Harkin and her staff all children were to be actively included in the project according to their ability to understand and participate.

The Project Begins

In May 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund gave approval for our project and the sum of £5000 was awarded. The Parish Council agreed to hold the money in the Parish Council account and Mrs Barbara Macdonald overseeing all expenditure in relation to the bid.

Saxon Stonemasons of Bury St Edmunds were instructed to produce designs for the tablet and these were submitted to the Parochial Church Council and the project team for approval. The tablet was affixed to the church wall replacing the framed paper version. The dedication of the tablet was held during the Service of Remembrance on the 9th November 2014 when the Col. James Aldous OBE performed the official unveiling.

The Memorial Cross was refurbished in early November. This involved steam cleaning of the memorial as power washing would have caused damage to the granite. The painting of the lettering and the cleaning of the surround were completed in time for Remembrance Day. It was, once again, a fitting tribute to the fallen from the people of Cockfield.

Throughout the project, the village community was kept appraised of the ongoing work and achievements. An illustrated talk was given in October at a meeting of Cockfield Women’s’ Institute to which all village residents were invited. The aims of the project together with findings and an historical overview of the village were given. An invitation to bring family memorabilia had been issued prior to the meeting via the village magazine and the response was both enthusiastic and impressive.

The School undertook a very comprehensive programme of events enabling children of all ages to participate. They were immersed in the literature of the period with study of the book ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpugo being followed by a visit to London to see the stage production for some of the children. Whilst in London, for some a first time, they visited the Imperial War Museum.

Locally there were visits to Moyse’s Hall and the Suffolk Regiment museums. In school they were encouraged to think of life in all its’ forms during this period. They were encouraged to write letters home as if they were soldiers and also as a family member to the men on the front line. They were visited by ‘a soldier home from France’ who taught them to march and sing songs from the period. At an open coffee morning for family and the wider village they displayed their work and gave wonderful performances, singing marching songs and reading prepared script. The highlight of the morning was a film showing them experiencing ‘life in the trenches’. There was both an exhibition of WW1 artefacts in addition to a comprehensive display of all the work undertaken by the pupils. This comprehensive curriculum was made possible by the Heritage Lottery Funding.

These children, by so actively participating in their education of the period will take strong memories forward in their lives and always understand the meaning of the Remembrance Service held each year throughout the country. The children held their own memorial service in St Peter’s church on Tuesday 11th November giving readings which they had themselves prepared. The church was full of parents and members of the wider community who, once again, had the opportunity to see exhibits of the work undertaken during the term..

As they do each year, the children held a memorial service on 11th November. Their work was exhibited in the church and the children actively participated in the service by giving very confident readings.

Particular note should be made of Mr Mark Williams who instructed two of the older children in research technique to enable them source detail of George Everitt with very comprehensive results.

The Research Findings

ARBON, George (Henry)

Born c.1894 in Little Livermere to Henry and Eliza Arbon. By 1901, the family (Henry, a horseman, Eliza his wife and children Eliza, Lillie, Maud, George Henry and Emma) were living at Greyhound Cottages Cockfield. On the 1891 census two other children, Mary and William were also listed.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission site (CWGC) shows G H Arbon was a Stoker 1st class in the Royal Navy(No K/14744) and died on 8th January 1915. He is buried in Rosskeen in Scotland. A record of his service was found on the National Archives website. He had served on many ships including the Victory, Renown, Sappho and Dreadnought. He enlisted before the war in 1912 and his occupation was given as labourer. A note at the bottom of the record states that he died of “natural causes” (whilst on leave)

A report in the Bury Free Press of 22nd January 1915 confirms this, stating that his shipmates subscribed to a headstone for him.

BARTLETT, Cedric (Drummond)

He was born in in Manchester the son of John Drummond (& Ivy Mary) Bartlett, a former merchant of the East India Company. He became an officer in the 3rd battalion (Reserve), The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and was stationed at Dumfries when war broke out. After various moves the Battalion was sent to Edinburgh in April 1915. He must have been ill, or encountered some sort of accident whilst there, because he died on 1st December that year, not having seen active service.

As far as it is known he was cousin to the two Miss McKies who moved to Church Farm, Cockfield in the early 1900s. There was a Miss Bartlett living with them in Cockfield by 1911. She was actively involved in setting up the Cockfield War Memorial in 1920 and spent the rest of her life in Cockfield.

BOULDEN, Frank

He was born in 1898 at Market Harborough, although his parents came from Felthorpe, Norfolk and were later found to be living in Long Melford. (It is assumed that Frank worked in Cockfield, from where he joined up).He served in the 7th Bn. Suffolk Regiment and was a Sergeant by the time he was killed. The 7th Bn. Was formed at Bury St Edmunds in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (KI) – after training the Battalion was mobilised and joined the 12th (East Anglian) Bn. He was sent to France in 1915 where his battalion remained for the rest of the war and was involved in all the major battles in Flanders and France. Frank was killed in action on 18th October 1918 aged 20.

CARTER, Charles (Rowland Ruffel)

He was born in Little Waldingfield In 1898, son of Charles and Elizabeth. They subsequently moved to Cockfield, living first at Smithwood Green and later in a cottage at Stows Hill. He was a L/Cpl serving in the 2nd Bn. Of the Suffolk Regiment and died on 18th April 1915 at the Battle of Hill 60. He is buried near Ypres.

COCKSEDGE, Harry (Edward)

He was born in late 1880s, son of William James and Clara, brother to Sidney, see below, and lived with his extended family at Great Green.

He married Daisy Harper in 1914 and had one daughter, Daisy Muriel and was then living in Thorpe Morieux.

He was a Corporal in the 121st Bn. Royal Field Artillery and died September 1918. He is buried at Rocquigny Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France.

Detail on the CWGC states that he received the Military Medal.

COCKSEDGE, Sidney

He was born in the late 1880s, son of William James and Clara and by 1901 was living at Great Green, Cockfield with his mother and step father, Robert Lockwood and five siblings, his father having died.

He joined up before the war and was a gunner with the Royal Field Artillery, stationed in India, according to the 1911 census. At his death in May 1915 he was a Bombardier in the 62nd Battery of the Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in the Ypres Town Cemetery Extension, Belgium.

COUSENS, Reginald

He was born at Peppers Hall, Cockfield in 1894. He lived with his widowed mother, younger brother and two sisters.

He was running the family farm when the war started. He applied for exemption at a tribunal, together with his brother, the tribunal Chairman decided that both could not be exempted and found in favour of the younger man. Reginald requested time to sell livestock or assist his brother in taking over the farm. The Chairman responded that he could not.

He joined the Suffolk Yeomanry on 20th April 1916 and was sent to France after a few days at home. He arrived in France on 27th April, when he was drafted into the Royal West Kent C. Company. He is reported in family documents as going into action about the 30th September where he sustained injuries to both legs and back. He died in hospital, in France on 5th October, 1916 at 10pm. He was buried the following day, 6th October, in Puchevillers British Cemetery, A photograph of the grave taken in 1916 is held in the family records.

CRICK, Albert (Edwin)

He was born 25th October 1893 in Cockfield , the son of Ephraim & Susannah Crick and lived with one brother, William John at the Bridewell Yard, Cockfield. He was baptised, together with his brother William Joseph, on 25th October 1896.

He was a Private in the 8th Bn. Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). He died of wounds 25th May 1918. He is buried at St Sever Cemetery extension, Rouen.

Bridewell Yard was a triangular area alongside the footpath between Clovelly and Chiltern House, Howe lane, before either house was built. Originally there were three cottages.

CRICK, (Herbert) John

He was born in Cockfield on 30th October 1891 and baptised 31st July 1892. The 1911 census shows Albert and Herbert Crick as farm labourers living with their family in Chapel Road.

John joined the 2nd Bn. Suffolk Regiment as a Private and is reported to have died on 12th December 1917. He is buried at the Achiet – Le – Grand Communal Cemetery extension.

DORLING, George

He was born c. 1886, the eldest of four brothers living at Oak Farm. He worked at Thorne Court before the war. It is thought that he served in the Bedfordshire Regiment. He was fatally wounded in France but brought home to a hospital in Cheltenham where he died in May 1917. His body was returned to Cockfield and interred in the churchyard. He was married and his wife, who worked in the village Post Office, lived on in Howe lane until her death in 1961.

EVERETT, George

Son of William and Clara Everitt, was born at Tunstall and later lived at Snape. His father worked for the railway and later became the station master at Cockfield.There were at least six siblings. He was a carpenter’s apprentice by 1901. A newspaper article notes that he was in business with cousins and a brother in Vancouver at the outbreak of the war. He enlisted in the 29th Bn. of the British Columbia Regiment, Canadian Infantry. He rose through the ranks and had been appointed Lieutenant one month before his death. He was killed in action 25th September1916 aged 29yrs.

FAYERS, Walter A

He was born in Bury St Edmunds around 1981, son of Samuel and Jane Fayers. Walter and his family were living with his grandfather, Samuel Fayers, at Old Hall Green at the time of the 1901 census. Walter’s siblings on the 1891/1901 census were listed as Spencer, Emma, Harry, Kate, Ethel and Albert. His father Samuel was a bricklayer. At the time of his enlistment he is recorded as a labourer with his father living at Cross Green.

Walter enlisted in 1909 and was a private in the 2nd Bn., Norfolk Regiment and is commemorated at the Basra memorial. His date of death on the CWGC is given as 30th June 1916, but his service records differ slightly. He was made a prisoner of war after the siege of Krut and subsequent surrender on 29th April 1916. According to the diary entry of the late Capt. Arthur “Walter died of Dysentry on 22nd June 1916. His family were notified that he was a prisoner of war in June 1916. It was not until 1919 that they received the full detail relating to their son’s death. Walter’s medal card gives yet a third date of death – 15th June 1916

FORD, George

He was born around 1891 in Lavenham, son of Harry and Barbara. By 1901 the family including George’s siblings Elizabeth, Katie and Bertha had moved to Cockfield and lived in Station Cottages, Cockfield. Harry Ford’s occupation is given as platelayer with the Great Eastern Railway.

George enlisted in Bury St Edmunds and, by the time of his death was a Lance Corporal in the 11th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment having served on the Western Front. He died on the 24th October 1918 and is buried in the Vendegies Crossroads Cemetery in Bemerain.

GAME, Ernest Edward

He was born in 1889 in Cockfield, son of John and Rose Game. He was baptised 24th May 1896 at Cockfield Church. On the 1901 Census he is living at ‘The Abbey’ with his parents and brother Raymond. His father was an agricultural labourer. On the 1911 census he is shown still living at ‘The Abbey’. His occupation is given as ‘Corn Miller’s Assistant’. The family members also living at ‘The Abbey’ were his parents and three siblings namely George; Mary Rose and Leslie John.

He enlisted as a Private in the 8th Bn. Suffolk Regiment and died 23rd January 1917 aged 27yrs. He is buried at the Contay British Cemetery, Contay.

What is now known as the Abbey Farmhouse used to be called Game Farm.

HAYWARD, George

He was born c1893 and, by the 1901 census, was living with his grandparents Robert and Abigail Hayward and his three siblings, namely Robert Reuben and Emma at Windsor Green. His father, Abraham, is widowed and working in Essex.

George was a private in the 1st Bn. Suffolk Regiment and, having first served in France, died of wounds on 30th May 1915 in Salonika. He is buried in the Struma Military Cemetary, Greece.

LISTER, Fred

He was born in Cockfield, son of George and (Sarah) Jane Lister, and baptised 25th April 1886 at Cockfield Church. On the 1901 census he is living at Buttons Green with his at Buttons Green with his parents and siblings, Arthur and Kate.

On the 1911 census he is still living at Buttons Green with his parents and brother Arthur. Both Fred and Arthur’s occupation are given as ‘labourer on farm’.

He was a private in the 1st Bn, Royal Scots Fusiliers at the time of his death on 22nd August 1918 aged 32yrs. He is buried in the Warry Copse Cemetery, Courcelles-le-Comte, France. He was previously in the Suffolk Yeomanry and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers being moved to different regiments as the war progressed.

LONG, Oscar (Willie)

Born in Cockfield in 1893 to John and Anna Long and had four brothers. The 1901 census shows him living at Stows hill with his parents and brothers Arthur, Bertie, William and Albert. Having been called up for military service he was serving as a private with the Agricultural Labour Corps at the time of his death. He died of influenza in Hurley, near Kingsbury, Warwickshire in December 1918. He was buried in Cockfield 20th December 1918 aged 25yrs.

The Agricultural Labour Corps employed those who had been wounded or otherwise found unfit for active service abroad.

LONG, Tom (James)

He was the son of Robert and Sarah Long and was baptised in Cockfield church 27th July 1884.On the 1891 and 1901 censuses Thomas and his family are living at the Stone, Cockfield. Father, Robert, and Thomas are listed as ordinary agricultural workers. Thomas’ siblings were listed as William, Lucy and Kate.

Thomas married Florence Howe in Thorpe Morieux on 5th July 1913. They had one child, a daughter, who was born in 1914.

He was a private in the Middlesex Regiment, then transferred to the 2nd/7th Bn. of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He died on 21st March 1918 and was buried in the Unicorn Cemetery, Vend D’Huile, France.

NOBBS, George (William Arthur)

He was the son of Samuel and Mary Nobbs, born in Rattlesden on 5th July 1885.

On the 1891 census, George, his parents and siblings Alice, Rose and Kate are living at No. 26 Stowmarket Rd, Brettenham. By 1901 the family were living at Village Cottages, Brettenham. Samuel’s occupation was a groom and gardener and George is listed as a stable boy.

He enlisted in the 8th Bn. Suffolk Regiment at Bury St Edmunds. He died on 28th September 1916 and was buried in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, France.

POULSON, Arthur

He was born c1885, son of Robert and Sarah (? Cross Green), Cockfield. He served in France and Flanders as a Private in the Suffolk Regiment and died of wounds on 24th October 1918 aged 33yrs. He is buried at Awoignt Cemetery near Cambrai, France.

RANSON, Henry Joseph

He was born in 1863 in Rotherhithe, London, son of Stephen and Elizabeth Ransom. The family later moved to Brettenham. He married Matilda Scarff at the Cockfield Congregational Church in 1884 and continued to live in Brettenham, with his wife, as an innkeeper and butcher. They had 11children and later moved to Bullswood, Cockfield where he farmed.

He enlisted in the Army Service Corps in 1915 giving his age as 46yrs (he was in fact 52yrs according to birth records and census documents). His address on service records is given as Windsor Green, Cockfield and his occupation given as labourer. He died 12th March 1917 in Malta, having contracted malaria/pneumonia. He is buried at the Pieta Military Cemetery Malta.

Note: the upper recruitment age for enlistment was set at 50yrs.

SMITH, Harry

He was baptised on 30th July 1876, son of James and Susan Smith. On the 1901 census he is living with his parents and brother, Arthur, at Windsor Green. He was a bricklayer’s labourer. By the 1911 census his occupation was ‘roadman’ and he was living with his wife, Harriet Jane (Albon) whom he married in 1901, together with their children William, Harry and Elsie May at Windsor Green.

He joined the 2nd Bn. Suffolk Regiment and was sent to France.He was invalided home within weeks with rheumatism and was invalided home. He returned to France and was transferred to 9th Bn. Suffolk Regiment as a private. He died on 1st February 1916 in France and is buried in the Whitehouse Cemetery near St Jean-Les-Ypres.

His obituary in the Bury Post of February 1916 notes that he was ‘the first Cockfield married man who has died for his King and country’ and that he had worked for the Cosford District Council for twelve years.

SPARKE(S), Henry

He was born in 1893 in Shimpling, son of Alfred and Ellen Sparke. On the1901 census, the family were living in Brands Lane in Lawshall. Henry is shown as an agricultural labourer. There were seven siblings; Elsie/Elise, John, Alice, William, Beatrice, Fred and Vera. On the 1911census the family were living at New Barn Cockfield. A report of Corporal Sparkes’ death in the Bury Free Post of 3rd April 1915 notes that he worked for Mr FH Jennings at Cockfield.

He was a Corporal in the 2nd Bn. Suffolk Regiment. Henry was killed by a sniper whilst at the front in France on 25th March 1915. He is buried in the Suffolk Cemetery in Vierstraat.

The Suffolk Cemetery was begun in March 1915 by the 2nd Suffolks. In the war diary of the Suffolk Regiment where the reports of the deaths on 25th March are written it states ‘in trenches, usual routine’

STONE, (Christopher) James

He was born Christopher James Stone in Norfolk in 1896, son of Robert and Agnes Stone. On the 1901 census, Christopher is aged 4yrs and living in Necton, Norfolk with his parents and siblings; William, Agnes, Lilian, Rhoda and Louise.

He was a private in the 2nd Bn. of the Suffolk Regiment and died on 28th March 1916. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

On researching the ‘Pension Record’ James occupation is shown as a farm labourer and his link with Cockfield being that his next of kin, his father, is shown as living at Hall Cottages Cockfield.

He had been discharged from the army in 1914 as ‘unfit for service because of ‘middle ear disease’. He was obviously fit enough to re-join at a later date.

STURGEON, George (Robert)

He was born 24th September 1893 and baptised 31st December 1893. He was the son of Robert and Mary Sturgeon of Bird Lane, Cockfield.

On the 1901 census, George is living at Workhouse Yard, Parsonage Green, Cockfield together with his father Robert, a stockman, his mother Mary and siblings Robert, Arthur and Charles.

He enlisted in Ipswich as a private in the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment and was killed in action on 18th February 1915 in Belgium. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate. It is noted in the Suffolk Regimental History that from 15th February ‘C’ Company of the 1st Battalion suffered heavy casualties when attempting to recapture a trench from the Germans.

His brother, Arthur, was in the 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment for a while and survived the war.

TATUM, Bertie

He was born 27th January 1893, baptised 30th April 1893 in Cockfield Church. He was the son of Henry and Charlotte Tatum of Willowbridge, Cockfield. Henry’s occupation is given as labourer.

The 1901 census shows Bertie, aged 8yrs, living on Lavenham Rd, Cockfield together with his mother Charlotte, a widow, and siblings Walter, Charles and Constance.

He was a private in the 1st/24th Battalion of the London Regiment. He died on 4th November 1917. He is commemorated in Bay 9 or 10 of the Arras Memorial in the Fauborug-d’ Amien Cemetery.

Their Lives Remembered –‘Lest We Forget’