|Church at West Tisted, birth place of Walter|
Walter Titheridge’s Family
Walter James Titheridge was born in West Tisted in 1898. He was the five times Great Grandson of John Titheridge and Ann Quallat of Cheriton. Walter was the youngest of six children born on 19 November 1898 to George Titheridge and Fanny Cooper of West Tisted. George and Fanny's children were:-
Albert Titheridge born 1890 died 1972, married Agnes Legg
May Titheridge born 1893, married Albert Whatmore
Ada Pamphylla Titheridge born 1896, married Thomas Bone
Walter James Titheridge born 1898 died 1918
On the 1901 census Walter was living with his parents and siblings at Upper Cottages New Tisted, and on 1911 census he was living with his parents and siblings at East Tisted. School records show he attended the school in East Tisted, starting on 11 January 1904 and leaving on 20 December 1912, age 14 to “go to work”. We do not know what his employment was.
Somerset Light Infantry
At some time during World War 1 Walter enlisted in Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry, 6th Battalion. He enlisted at Alton, army number 29310, but I have been unable to find the date of his joining up.
The 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry went to France in May 1915 and served on the Western Front throughout the war. In 1916 they fought at Delville Wood and Flers-Courcelette in the Battle of the Somme. In 1917 they were involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg line, the Arras offensive and the Third Battles of Ypres. In 1918 the battalion suffered heavy casualties in The Battle of St Quentin and The Battle of the Avre.
21st March 1918
On 21 March 1918 the Germans began the Spring Offensive, a series of German attacks along the Western front in the Somme battlefield. The Battle of St Quentin took place from 21 March to 23 March with 72 German divisions in positions ready to attack in three waves. The British suffered a five hour artillery bombardment by over 6,600 artillery pieces with some 3.2 million shells landing on the British-held front during that first day of the attack. The German attack was assisted by the fog in the Somme battlefield with the British unable to see the movement of the Germans. Thousands of infantrymen left the German Front Line and appeared in the British forward positions without being seen. The 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry were part of the 14th Light division and were in the front line as the battle commenced. The explosives cut off telephone communication and the fog meant flares could not be used to communicate, hence the British troops in the front line were unable to communicate and call for artillery support. On 21st March 1918 the British suffered more than 38,000 casualties, the second worst day of losses in British military history.
6th Battalion SLI War diary for 21 March 1918
The last hours of the 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infrantry are recorded in the Battalion War Diary.
During March the Battalion were at Monteslourt, France
In the line - Quiet 24 hours. Patrols out all night. New fire bays constructed.
In the line Quiet 24 hours. Patrols winning. Casualties nil
At 4.30 am the enemy opened an intense bombardment with all calibre shells, using a new kind of gas shell, the smell of which was not unpleasant, but had the effect of sleeping gas.
At 8.30 he finished gas shelling but continued with other shells.
It was very foggy, extra sentries were posted at all points.
All signal communication was cut by 7.40am.
At 10.20 news was received by runner - the enemy was in the front line.
Support companies, Battalion HQ moved into strong points “Egypt” where fighting immediately commenced.
2 pigeons were despatched and papers all burnt.
The enemy at 10.30 were streaming down the St Quentin Road from both flanks and poured into La Fozie Quarry.
At 10.35am he was reported to be pushing towards Benay and Cerizy.
1 officer, 6 runners and 3 signallers commenced to fight their way to Brigade HQ with the news to warn strong points.
1 officer reached Brigade HQ at 11.10am 2 runners arriving 10 minutes after. 1 signaller also got out successfully. After which this party were attached to 9 Scottish Rifles in reserve trenches behind Brigade HQ.
Estimated casualties 20 officers, 540 other ranks actually in the front line at the time of attack.
It is probable that by 10.30 the 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry had almost ceased to exist.
Prisoner of War
Private Walter James Titheridge was one of the soldiers taken prisoner from the front lines on the 21 March 1918. Details of this were first received in England in early July and published in a Somerset paper.
10 July 1918
Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser
The Captive Somersets
The following names have been received this week of Somersets now prisoners of war in Germany
A list of 32 names appeared in the paper among them
More information about Prisoners of War can be viewed on the website of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) . During the First World War 8 million soldiers were taken prisoner and interned in camps. In 1914 the ICRC established the International Prisoners-of-War Agency in Geneva, to which the warring States submitted, lists of prisoners. The Agency received 400,000 pages of documents: lists of prisoners’ names and records of capture, of transfers between camps and of deaths in detention. For each name listed, the Agency made out an index card. These indexes also contain enquiry cards, drawn up from the written requests for information submitted daily by relatives of the missing.
I have found 5 mentions of Walter as Prisoner of War.
- There is a list of prisoners written in German. Entry Number 146 shows "Titheridge Walter gen. 6 Som.L.I. taken at Benay 21.3.18. Aus den felde. (translates to off the field). Place of birth Westtested 19.11.98."
- In a document dated 24 July 1918 it lists Walter is mentioned again "Titheridge W 29310 SLI Kriegslazarett" (this translates to military hospital)
- Another document written in German translates to "Titheridge W Private SLI without further information died 11.5.18 in field hospital in Foreste from dysentery buried at cemetery in Foreste."
- A similar document is found at this link
- The index card shows a request for information by Walter's mother, Fanny. The card has been updated as information is received from the Germans. It shows that the ICRC were notified of Walter being a prisoner on 3 July 1918, and notified of his death on 28 August 1918 with information communicated to the family on 1 October 1918
One cannot imagine the anguish of the family. Walter was reported as missing in March and it was July before the family heard he was a prisoner of war. Then in October they learnt that Walter had died 3 months earlier.
Commonwealth War Grave
The Commonwealth War Grave site shows the following information for Walter:
29310 Private Walter James Titheridge. 6th Btn. Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry). Age: 19. Born: West Tisted, Hants. Enlisted: Alton, Hants. Resided: East Tisted. Died. Son of George and Fanny Titheridge, of "Creeper Cottage," East Tisted, Alton, Hants. died on 11th May 1918. Buried at Foreste Communal Cemetery Plot I B 15.
The cemetery is in Foreste, a hamlet about 15 kilometres west of St. Quentin. Foreste Communal Cemetery was used by the 92nd Field Ambulance in April 1917 but the village fell into German hands in the summer of 1918. In the cemetery are 95 UK burials of the First World War.
Walter was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
East Tisted War Memorial
Walter is remembered on a memorial plaque that is in East Tisted church. Click here to see an image. It reads
In honoured memory of the men of East Tisted
who gave their lives for God, King and Country
in the Great War 1914 – 1919
There are 3 names, the last one reads
Walter James Titheridge Private in Somerset Light Infantry
Died while a prisoner of war in Germany 11th May 1918
"Be thou faithful unto Death and I will give thee a crown of life” Rev 2.10
|Church at East Tisted where the Memorial to Walter can be found|