yeovil at War

Edward Pinney

Died in Germany as a Prisoner of War


Edward Pinney was born in Yeovil in 1878, the son of tailor Richard Diment Pinney (1841-1909) and his wife Jane (b 1845). In the 1881 census Richard and Jane were listed in South Street with their children; Catherine aged 9, Robert aged 6 and 3-year old Edward. By the time of the 1891 census Richard and Jane had moved to 33 Park Street and were living there with just Edward - who was now aged 14 and working as a baker. He was also, at one time, employed at the offices of the Western Gazette. In the 1901 census Edward was listed as a boarder living at 1 Queen Square, Chippenham, Wiltshire. He gave his occupation as a carpenter's labourer.

I couldn't find him in the 1911 census but he presumably remained at Chippenham since he enlisted at Chippenham and became Private Pinney (Service No 8189) of 2nd Battalion, the Duke of Edinburgh's Wiltshire Regiment.

The 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment had been stationed at Gibraltar before the war but returned to England in September 1914 where it came under command of 21st Brigade in 7th Division. The following month landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium. Henry, as a regular soldier, is likely to have joined his new Regiment straight away.

The 2nd Battalion started 1915 in the Fleurbaix area remaining in the waterlogged trenches when they were relieved by the Canadians in March. They were removed from the line to prepare for a major assault at Neuve Chapelle which started on 9 March. By 14 March the battalion had suffered nearly 400 casualties. After a few days rest they returned to the line at Laventie where they resumed trench warfare. In May the battalion took part in the battle of Festubert where they suffered 158 casualties for one mile of ground taken. This was followed by a rest period in the Bethune area where they were reinforced. In June they were one of the leading battalions in the attack at Givenchy where after taking significant casualties the operation was cancelled. This was followed by many months of trench warfare in different sectors leading up to the Battle of Loos in September where their casualty figure was 400. Rest and reorganisation followed and in early December they were again redeployed to another Division, the 30th ending the year at Autheux.

The beginning of 1916 saw the 2nd Battalion in the area of Amiens. They remained in this general area, relieving units in trenches and training for an offensive that was going to take place in July.  However Edward Pinney was captured by the Germans and was sent to a prisoner's internment camp in Kessel, Germany. He died there on 16 June 1916, aged 38, and was buried in the nearby Niederzwehren Cemetery.

On 4 August 1916 the Western Gazette reported "Mrs Bradford, of Hendford Cottage, has been informed that Private E Pinney (2nd Wilts Regiment) died at a prisoner’s internment camp in Germany during the month of June. The information was forwarded by his corporal, who, however, could give no details as he himself was away at a working camp. Parcels were sent to the deceased right up to the time of his death by Mrs Bradford (including some of his friends at the Western Gazette where he had previously been employed), and letters and postcards received from him showed his evident appreciation of the gifts."

Edward Pinney was interred in Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kessel, Germany, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.



Men of the Wiltshire Regiment waving their helmets as they march along the Acheux road to the trenches during the 1916 Battle of the Somme.


Men of the Wiltshire Regiment after the Battle of Thiepval, c1916.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Edward Pinney.


Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kessel, Germany

The Niederzwehren Cemetery at Kessel, Germany, was begun by the Germans in 1915 for the burial of prisoners of war who died at the local camp. During the war almost 3,000 Allied soldiers and civilians, including French, Russian and Commonwealth, were buried there. In 1922-23 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries. Niederzwehren was one of those chosen and in the following four years, more than 1,500 graves were brought into the cemetery from 190 burial grounds in Baden, Bavaria, Hanover, Hesse and Saxony. There are now 1,796 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the Commonwealth plot at Niederzwehren. This total includes special memorials to 13 casualties buried in other cemeteries in Germany whose graves could not be found.