yeovil at War

Abendago Richard Pike

Died in the Battle of Mons, France

 

Abendago Richard Pike, known as Ben, was born in 1886 in Yeovil. He was the son of general labourer Eli Pike (b 1854) and his glove maker wife Jennette née Baker (b 1855). In the 1891 census Eli and Jennette were living at 3 Edwards Buildings - a short terrace of some six or seven dwellings off the south side of Back Kingston, today's Higher Kingston, towards its junction with Fiveways, and at right angles to it. Listed with them were seven (of 11) children; Ethel aged 13, Frank aged 11, Florence aged 9, Ben aged 7, Bertie aged 5, Thomas aged 3 and one-year old Emily.

Ben joined the 3rd Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry but while still serving in the Somersets he enlisted at Sherborne in 1905, at the age of 19 years and 3 months, and became Private Abendago Pike (Service No 6925) of the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment on a 'Short Service' of three years with the Colours and nine years in the Reserve.

In 1908 at Yeovil, Ben married Bessie Dyke (1886-1954), the daughter of William John Dyke and Hannah Jane née Stuckey. They were to have three daughters; Bessie Jennett (1908-1962), Ellen Florence Jane (1912-1976) and Violet M (1915-1926). After their marriage Ben and Bessie set up home at 59 New Prospect Place. New Prospect Place, also known as 'The Colony', was a long terrace of small cottages, little better than slums and occupied by the very poorest families. The buildings were very tiny and were described as "simply huts with no foundations and originally having earth floors". In the 1911 census Ben, Bessie and their baby daughter Bessie were listed at 59 New Prospect Place and Ben gave his occupation as 'Labourer doing odd jobs'. By the time Ben went off to war the family were living at 35 Great Western Terrace.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 Ben, as a reservist, was called up immediately.

The 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment was in Britain on 28 July 1914 when war was declared and so deployed straight to the Western Front, where it stayed throughout the conflict. The 1st Battalion went immediately into conflict at the Battle of Mons.

The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the war. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders.  At Mons, the British Army attempted to hold the line of the Mons–Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st Army.  

Although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were eventually forced to retreat due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the sudden retreat of the French Fifth Army, which exposed the British right flank.

Initially reported wounded and missing, Ben Pike was among the casualties of the battle and died from his wounds on 24 August 1914. He was 28 years old.

On 25 September 1914 the Western Gazette reported "Private Richard Abendago (“Ben”) Pike, reservist of the Dorset Regiment, was on Wednesday officially stated by the War Office to have been killed. Deceased, who lived at 35 Great Western Terrace, Yeovil, leaves a widow and three young children, the eldest being only six. About a week ago his widow received notification that the deceased was wounded and missing, and on Wednesday morning came the fateful news that he had died from wounds sustained at Wurns, near Mons, France. A brother of the deceased, who was only 28 years of age, stated to a Western Gazette representative, that he came from a “fighting family” for his father served in all 29 years in the Somerset Light Infantry, and counted nearly a dozen relatives who were in the Army, including two brothers, Privates W and B Pike, who are in the Yeovil Company of the Territorials, and the former of whom has volunteered for active service."

Ben Pike is commemorated on La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

Ben Pike's Attestation in which he joined the Dorsetshire Regiment.

 

British infantry waiting to advance in the Mons area prior to the battle.

 

British soldiers going 'over the top' at Mons.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Ben Pike.

 

La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial, Seine-et-Marne, France.

La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is a small town 66 kilometres to the east of Paris. The La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial commemorates 3,740 officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) who fell at the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between the end of August and early October 1914 and have no known graves. The monument is constructed of white Massangis stone and surmounted by a sarcophagus onto which military trophies are laid. At the four corners of the pavement on which the monument stands are stone columns supporting urns which bear the coats of arms of the four constituent nations of the United Kingdom. The memorial was designed by George H. Goldsmith, a decorated veteran of the Western Front, and unveiled by Sir William Pulteney, who had commanded the III Corps of the BEF in 1914, on 4 November 1928.