yeovil at War

edwin percival aldworth

Died at Arras, in the German Spring Offensive of 1918

 

Edwin Percival Aldworth, known as Percy, was born in 1896 in Paddington, London, the son of railway Engineer George Aldworth (b 1869), originally from Abingdon, Berkshire, and his wife Rosa née Rapson (b 1860) who hailed from Crewkerne. In the 1901 census George and Emily were listed living in Paddington with their young family; 6-year old Yeovil-born Florence, 4-year old Percy (listed as Edwin) and 2-year old Dorothy. By 1911 the family were living in Sunny Dene, 21 Lyde Lane (today's Lyde Road), Yeovil. George gave his occupation as Railway Engine Driver and 14-year old Percy (listed as Percival) gave his as Printer's Apprentice. He was employed at the Western Chronicle Office in Middle Street.

Percy enlisted in the army at Yeovil in October 1916 and became Private Edwin Percival Aldworth (Service No 19501) of 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards.

In the summer of 1915 the Guards Division was formed and the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards moved to 1st Guards Brigade. In July 1916 the Division left the Salient to take part in the great Allied offensive of the Somme. It was at this time that Percy Aldworth joined his regiment at the front.

On the 15th September all three Coldstream Battalions were in the front line of assault, the first and only time the Regiment has gone into action as a whole. The losses in the three Coldstream Battalions amounted to 40 Officers and 1326 other ranks.

The winter of 1916-17 was spent in trench warfare on the Somme and in the summer and autumn of 1917 the Regiment played a prominent part in the Battle of Passchendaele.

In October 1917 Percy was wounded at Passchendaele and on 26 October 1917 the Western Gazette reported "Private P Aldworth, of the Coldstream Guards, only son of Mr and Mrs Aldworth, of Lyde Road, has been wounded whilst serving in France. Private Aldworth, who has served with the forces for about 12 months, proceeded to France about four or five months ago. Before enlisting he was employed in the printing department of the Chronicle Printing Works."

In November 1917 the Guards Division moved south from Flanders in readiness for the next Allied offensive. During the Battle of Cambrai the 2nd Battalion took part in the confused fighting around Gouzeaucourt which defeated a major German counter attack. The great German offensive of March 1918 saw the Guards Division engaged in the area south-west of Arras. On 8 April 1918 21-year old Percy Aldworth was killed in action during this prolonged battle (at about the same time another Yeovil lad in his Battalion, John Bailey, was mortally wounded).

On 3 May 1918 the Western Gazette reported "Private Percy Aldworth, of the Coldstream Guards, son of Mr and Mrs Aldworth of Lyde Road has been killed in action in the recent heavy fighting on the Western Front. He joined the Coldstream Guards in October 1916, has been through the thick of the fighting in France, and was slightly wounded once previously. He only returned from 14 days furlough on March 23rd, having thus only been in France about a fortnight after that date when he was killed. He was only 21 years of age, and was previously employed at the Western Chronicle Office."

Edwin Percy Aldworth was interred in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France, Grave V.D.4, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough - albeit as Aldworth, P rather than the correct Aldworth, EP.

 

gallery

Two men of the Coldstream Guards having a drink from a forward water supply. There is a large camouflaged metal water tank next to the men, with a sign reading 'DRINKING WATER ONLY.' A pile of sandbags has been carefully stacked beside the tank. There is a pipe coming out of the tank, with a number of taps running along its length.

 

Men of the Coldstream Guards and a newly captured German 5.9" gun.

 

Troops carry a wounded man to an aid post at Passchendaele - showing the conditions that Percy Aldworth fought and died in.

 

The ruins of Passchendaele village. The church stood on the mound in the background.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Percy Aldworth.

 

Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

In November 1916, the village of Ficheux was behind the German front line, but by April 1917, the German withdrawal had taken the line considerably east of the village and in April and May, the VII Corps Main Dressing Station was posted near for the Battles of Arras. It was followed by the 20th and 43rd Casualty Clearing Stations, which remained at Boisleux-au-Mont until March 1918, and continued to use the Bucquoy Road Cemetery begun by the field ambulances. From early April to early August 1918 the cemetery was not used but in September and October, the 22nd, 30th and 33rd Casualty Clearing Stations came to Boisleux-au-Mont and extended it. By the date of the Armistice, it contained 1,166 burials but was greatly increased when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and from small cemeteries in the neighbourhood. The cemetery now contains 1,901 burials and commemorations of the First World War. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.