Monday, 25 August 2014

The Retreat from Mons and the Death of a Henlow Soldier

Henlow High Street [Z50/58/3]

Tuesday 25th August 1914: By the early hours of this morning the battalion, now reunited, found itself two miles west of the town of Bavay with the rest of 15th Brigade. During the day the battalion fell back on the town of le Cateau-Cambrésis where, very tired, they dug in, fortunately the trenches had been begun well by French civilians. There may be more fighting here tomorrow.

It is with profound regret that the village of Henlow learned of the death of Private Edwin James Bywaters, 10333 of A Company, 1st Bedfordshire Regiment. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Bywaters of High Street. The bereaved parents received a letter from the war Office informing them of his death, and that he was killed in action but the date of death was not given [it was, in fact 23rd August]. It is believed he fell during the retreat of the British from Mons and efforts are being made to obtain further details. “Eddie” as he was always called by his friends, was 22 years of age, and joined the 1st Bedfords nine months ago. Before the declaration of war he had been stationed in Ireland in view of the serious situation there and previous to leaving Ireland, “Eddie” wrote home to his parents referring to his departure for the front. His letters showed the fine sense of duty which inspired him. He was a tall, handsome lad and, from what is known of him, it is certain that had he been spared he would soon have risen in the profession of arms. He was one of the most promising young players in the Henlow Cricket team and had rendered good service to the Football Club. He was the eldest of a family of ten children.[1]

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/2/7; Bedfordshire Times 25th September 1914

[1] The Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for him calls him Edward John Bywaters. He was indeed killed on 23rd August and is commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial, having no known grave - see the entry for 23rd August

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