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DVD for Sale

RSM 8220 George Beeton, 1st/8th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment.

"This project started out as the result of an offer I made to my brother-in-law to copy and computer enhance an old photograph he had of his late father. The result was so successful that we started to dig out other family photographs and, in so doing, came across several personal papers relating to his father's service life. The story they told just cried out for further research and this, two years later, is the result so far. Like all good adventure stories, the hero is larger than life. Well they don't come much larger than 'Pop'; Beeton. According to his service records, he was only five foot six when he joined up but when I met him, some forty years later, he towered over my meagre six foot one. He was always an imposing figure who retained his military bearing right up until the end. Although, in later life, he had to have an extra piece put into the leather army belt that he always wore, he stayed fit and trim and certainly was not the sort of man that one would try to take advantage of. I was lucky enough to know 'Pop', but this story is for the benefit of his descendants who did not have that privilege. I hope it will be a source of interest and pride to them and give them as much pleasure in reading it as I have had in researching and producing it. If the theory regarding the War Memorials is proven, I hope it will also bring life to those marble soldiers and give them a new meaning to every one who passes by."


David R Hooper, August 1997.


[Copies of this booklet (Complete with additional photographs and historical data) are held in Lincoln Central Library, Welton Library, The Imperial War Museum and several Regimental Museums.]


[Please click any picture to enlarge]


A Soldier's Story

The story of George Beeton, one time acting R.S.M. of the 1st/8th Lincolnshire Regiment, including a short account, in his own words, of his experiences and wounding during the Great War 1914 - 1918.


George William Beeton was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, on the 29th. of September 1890. Seventeen years later, on the 4th of November 1907, by adding a year to his age, he managed to join the 10th Regiment of Foot, also known as the Lincolnshire Regiment. Although not definite, it is most likely that he joined the 2nd Battalion at Portsmouth, as the 1st Battalion was in India at the time. On the 25th of February 1911, he was posted to Aden with the 1st Battalion, having quite possibly served in Poona with them earlier. He obviously behaved himself as he was awarded his first Good Conduct Badge on the 4th of April 1911.


On the 31st of October 1912, he returned to the UK again possibly with the 1st Battalion, to Portsmouth, which is where they were at the beginning of the First World War. (The 2nd Battalion having moved to warmer climes in Bermuda.) In the intervening years, George had completed a four month course to qualify as 'Mounted Infantry' and was also entered as '1st Class in Musketry'. The speed and accuracy of the British Army's rifle fire would lead the Germans to believe that we had many more machines guns than was the truth. He had also gained an education and was at least a Lance Corporal, if not higher in the Regimental Police when he left for France as a member of the B.E.F.


The 1st Battalion was part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, which in turn formed part of the 3rd Division of the 2nd Corps, and was destined to bear the brunt of the German attack at Mons. George would have been due for discharge to the reserve in the November, but the declaration of war on the 4th of August 1914 would keep him in uniform for another five years. Like many an old soldier of the Great War, George was reluctant to talk about it in later life. It is only now (1997) that his son has found an incomplete account of his experiences during the first actions of the B.E.F. in France and the circumstance in which he was wounded.


The following is as accurate a transcript as can be ascertained and the editing is my own as a result of later research:-

  • "Sailed from Southampton on the 13th August (1914) on the (S.S.) Norman, Union Castle Line, arrived at ( Le) Harve on the 14th. Then we proceeded to camp about six miles (having marched in gruelling heat over rough roads) we stopped there for the day and night. (The tents did not arrive until late in the evening and there was a violent thunder storm which continued throughout the following day) We entrained on the 15th and went to Laundicies about 20 hours run and stopped in some French barracks (Dupleix Barracks) on the 16th, then on the 17th we went to Avesness, and stayed there until the 20th. We then went to Leval. (All these moves were made using the basic method of transport, army boots!) On the 21st we went to Longueville, from there we kept going to unknown little farms until the 22nd when we put up in a ballroom just this side of Mons for the night. Next day, which was a Sunday, we were having a walk around the square of the town of which name I cannot remember (The town was Cuesmes, just three miles from Mons, and is noted as the spot where Capt. Ellison of the Lincolns fired the first shot by the Regiment at a German aeroplane which flew over) when suddenly we had the order to send all the men in and get dressed, I myself was on the Regt. Police and had to hurry up after seeing them in. We went to Mons about 30 minutes from our billet this side of the town and took up position at the end of the main road. When we had barricaded the roads (four barricades were erected, using paving stones, sawn down trees and iron piping from the road side, the Lincolnshires were helped by local civilians, one of whom was a girl who "Worked like a Trojan"). The transport of the Middlesex came (this was the 4th Middlesex, retreating from the canal salient) so we had to see them over their difficulty and get them on the the main road, no sooner had we done that when up came the sausage, (this was the nickname for a German trench mortar bomb, shaped like a sausage and so slow in flight that it could be easily observed) and we were vexed as we could not get our fling very early as we had to get them in their trenches, but (this time referring to the Germans) when they got to the end of the street, they got it, and I should say they were very sorry for it as we left the street like sheep in a slaughter house and our casualty was only one wounded and we left him in one of the houses as he could not keep on the Colonel's horse. We then had to nip to get away from them (the Lincolns and the South Lancs were providing the rearguard for 2nd Corps) but we stuck it for the rest of the day and night and took up a position in an orchard at a place called Eugies. We were entrenched (just a shallow scrape, not like the earthworks of later years) behind a hedge for the daybreak attack. When it came, there was an aeroplane circled over us and dropped something that looked like sand or silver paper (this would be indication to the guns as radio was not used until December 1914). Then we got it, the shells came from every direction and we could do nothing but face them all. One of them hit the trench about eight yards from me and it killed about four of them (Lincolns) and the concussion from it nearly sent me unconscious, it blew about six yards of the hedge and trench clear out of it and we had to have a gate put in its place to hide a bit (to give them cover). Then I got behind a tree a few yards to the rear and was having a snipe at them when a shell burst about five yards to the right of me and a piece of shell hit me across the thigh and made a wound about 5 to 6 inches long, 1 ½inches wide and nearly an inch deep, but I did not feel it for some time as it made my leg numb, only when the old powder began to get in the blood, that's when it told on me. I then went to the Sgt of the R.A.M.C. who was about twenty five yards away behind a house. He dressed me up with a first field dressing. Then about sixty of us wended our way down to the hospital amid shot and shell. The hospital was a Nunnery with a French Doctor and Nuns for Sisters. While in there I saw some awful sights which I never wish to see again. I had to wait some time before I got dressed but when they did they put me through it I can tell you as they stitched me up and did not forget to put a good wadding on the stitches which of course broke again when I put my boots on later in the week. No sooner than I was dressed a shell knocked the end of the hospital off and the next......."

The narrative ends there and we can only guess that he went on to describe his adventures up until his arrival back in Britain. The official history describes the rearguard action and speaks of the terrible execution inflicted on the enemy by the sustained and accurate fire of the Lincolns. The Lincolnshire casualties on the 23rd and 24th totalled one hundred and thirty four. The severely wounded, and practically all the stretcher bearers, were captured when the convent fell into enemy hands. Only the walking cases escaped and, as George says he did not get his boot on again until later in the week, we can only assume that he managed to cadge a lift on one of the gun limbers. His son vaguely remembers a reference to the discomfort of such a ride but, unfortunately, this part of the story is missing. It is worth noting that this attack on the Lincolnshire and South Lancashire Battalions was made by a whole German Division, roughly six times their number.



It is fairly certain that George returned to Britain for hospital treatment and recuperation, but the next news we have of him is not until the 27th of November 1915 when he marries Sarah Ann Robinson of Scartho, Grimsby. At that time he is recorded as Sergeant Beeton of the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, residing at the Gaiety Theatre, Grimsby. This building was destroyed by fire sometime around 1987. The 3rd Battalion (now called the 'Special Reserve') was originally the Militia Battalion which moved to Grimsby from Lincoln at the start of the war. It was used as a training unit, supplying much needed replacements for the flood of casualties from France, as well as providing a defence against possible invasion. In November 1917, it took over duties in Cork, Ireland where the long running civil unrest was causing problems. How long George stayed with the 3rd Battalion is not known, but a photograph shows him, as a Company Sergeant Major, with five other S.N.C.O.s who are wearing unidentified shoulder flashes. In May 1918 he is recorded as being the acting Regimental Sergeant Major in the 1/8th Battalion (a Service Battalion of Kitchener's Army, raised just for the duration of the war) which had been in France since early in 1915. It was on November 22nd, 1918 that his wife, Sarah Ann, died, aged just twenty three years of age, during an influenza epidemic. A photograph taken of George at that time shows him wearing a black button in mourning for her. This photograph also shows a solitary medal ribbon which must have been the 1914 star. [This was popularly known as "The Mons Star", struck in 1917 and awarded only to those who served in France or Belgium between the 5th of August and 30th November 1914. For those who had been under fire during this period, an additional bar, showing the dates, was also awarded. When only the ribbon was worn, the possession of the bar was indicated by a silver rosette on the ribbon. It is the badge of "The Old Contemptibles" who were justly proud of the bar or rosette that distinguished it from the plain 1914 star or the 1914/1915 star awarded to later arrivals. Fewer than 230,000 of these bars were awarded.] George is also wearing two 'Wound stripes', although there is no record of when the second wound occurred, so it is possible that he returned to France as one of the replacements provided by the 3rd Battalion sometime earlier. Of particular interest, is the Corporal in the photograph. It is believed that he was a member of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps, a unit that returned to Britain with the 2nd Battalion in October 1914 and, in recognition of their service during the war, they now appear in the Army Lists as an 'Allied Regiment' (their Role of Honour, in Lincoln Cathedral, shows that their casualty list amounted to seventy five per cent of their strength.) The War Diaries of the 8th Battalion record on the 31st May 1918 state,

  • "Battalion in billets. Cleaning up and kit inspections. Reinforcements - 7 OR's. Battalion parade at 2pm. A/RSM Beeton joined Battalion and took over duties as RSM."

This entry was signed by A T Hitch, Major (Later Lt Col) Commanding the 8th Lincolnshire Regiment. It is worth noting that in the whole of the War diaries, this is the only entry in which a non-commissioned rank is recorded by name, an honour normally reserved for Officers. George completed his twelve years service, and was discharged on the 3rd of November 1919.


Just seven days of Civvy Street was enough for him and he was back at the Lincoln Depot as a private soldier again. This time he served for four years and was employed on Depot and Gate duties at Sobraon Barracks, Burton Road. Around 1920, he posed for a series of photographs taken by J. Spencer Baldry of Lincoln. These photographs are believed to have been used as models for the making of several War Memorials, including those at Welton, Haxey and Metheringham. The sculptures were produced by M.Tuttell and son, Monumental Sculptors of Corporation Street, Lincoln (now in Tentercroft Street). Mr. Tuttell's adverts proudly claimed to be 'Masons to Churches throughout England and Wales', so it is quite possible that George is standing in memory in many more unknown locations. The new memorial that replaced the one destroyed by the I.R.A. in Enniskillen looked like an exact copy of the one at Welton and could well have been based on the same photographs.


It was during this period of enlistment that he met his second wife, Delia Ross. Her father was the head gardener for Burton Cliffe House and lived at Burton Cliffe Lodge. George married Delia on the 7th of December 1921 and when she presented him with a son on the 25th of April 1923, he walked all the way to East Barkwith to see the baby and, so the story goes, rushed into the bedroom in such a hurry that he kicked and broke the handle off the chamber pot that was stored under the bed!


After his second discharge from the army on the 9th of November 1923, George returned to Bury St. Edmunds and found work building, and later working in, the sugar-beet factory there. It is rather ironic that most of the fighting around Mons was amongst the sugar-beet fields and sugar factories. Maybe it made him feel at home.


During the Second World War, George was back in uniform again, this time as a Corporal in the Home Guard. A photograph, taken around the end of 1940, shows him with his son and nephew, still every inch a soldier, still a qualified marksman and no doubt, still "Vexed at not getting his fling."


His son left to become a Royal Marine Commando the following year.


The last photograph of George was taken by David Hooper in the garden of his son's house at Stradishall in 1958. It shows him with his wife Delia, his son and daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and David's parents. He was a big man in every sense of the word.


George William Beeton died on July 26th 1966 in his home town of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. After giving so much for his Country, all he had to show for it was 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred' (the name given by servicemen to the three medals that they received for service in the First World War - after three cartoon characters in The Daily Mail), but I think he just considered himself lucky in that he was one of the those who returned.


He was a true son of Suffolk and, as an adopted 'Yellow Belly', it is only right that both counties should be proud to call him their own.



The first four pictures below are four views of George Beeton from the original set of sixteen photographs taken by J Spencer Baldry of Lincoln for use in the construction of Welton Memorial


Views of The War Memorials at Welton, Haxey, Metheringham and Enniskillen


The Lincolnshire Regiment - Some Historical Facts

The 1st (North) Lincolnshire Regiment, also known as 10th Regiment of foot. Nicknames, Poachers or Springers. At one time the yellow uniform facings were thought to be responsible for the Lincoln nickname of 'Yellow bellies'.


The 2nd (South) Lincolnshire Regiment, also known as 69th Regiment of foot which gave them the nickname of the Ups and Downs. Other nicknames were the Poachers, Old Agamenions and Wardour's Horse. Regiment ceased to exist after amalgamation with 41st Welsh in 1881 to form the Welsh Regiment (Listed as 'The Royal Invalids') Title changed to 'Welch' in 1920. Motto 'Gwell angan na chywilydd' translates as 'Death rather than dishonour'. Lee's History of the 10th Foot (Vol. 2), puts the 2nd Battalion at Portsmouth in 1908. The 1st Battalion was in India (Poona) at the time and was posted to Aden in 1911. The London Illustrated News reports that the Lincolnshire Regiment provided the guard of honour for the King and Queen when they called in at Aden, on November 27th 1911, on their way to the Delhi Durba in India.


Confusion over identification of units caused by habit of referring to battalion numbers without the prefix 1/ (i.e. 8th Lincolnshire Regiment instead of 1/8th Lincolnshire Regiment.) 10th Lincolnshires could refer to 10th Regt.of foot (1st Lincolns) or 1/10th Lincolns (10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment). This was further complicated by the creation of Second line and Third line battalions from volunteer units of the Territorial Army during the Great War (2/4, 2/5 from Luton, 3/4 from Lincoln and 3/5 from Grimsby). At the start of the Great War, there were five Battalions. 1st and 2nd Regular, 3rd Special Reserve (Formerly Militia, later U.K. based training Battalion and, from November 1917, on police duties in Cork, Northern Ireland) and the 4th and 5th T.A. Battalions.


  • 1st Battalion station at Portsmouth as part of 9th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Corps
  • 2nd Battalion, stationed in Bermuda, returned to U.K. in October 1914
  • 3rd Battalion, stationed at Lincoln Depot but moved immediately to Grimsby for port defence
  • 4th Battalion Stationed at Lincoln Drill Hall
  • 5th Battalion Stationed at Grimsby Drill Hall

During the war, an additional fourteen Battalions were raised comprised of six service Battalions (Kitchener's Army), two Garrison Battalions, one Labour Battalion, one 28th Provisional (Listed as 13th T.A.) and four 2nd and 3rd line Battalions. These units served as follows;-

  • 6th. France,Flanders,Gallipoli and Egypt
  • 7th. France and Flanders
  • 8th.France and Flanders
  • 9th. U.K.
  • 10th. France and Flanders
  • 11th. U.K.
  • 1st. Garrison Battalion. India
  • 2nd.Garrison Battalion. UK
  • Labour Battalion. France
  • 28th Provisional (13th T.A.) Formed at Southend June 1915, Most likely U.K. training

II CORPS

Smith-Dorian

3rd Division (Hubert Hamilton)

5th Division (Ferguson)

7th Infantry Brigade

3 / Worcesters

2 / South Lancs

1 / Wiltshires

2 / Irish Rifles

 

13th Infantry Brigade

2 / KOSB

2 / Duke of Wellington's

1 / Royal West Kents

2 / KOYLI

 

8th Infantry Brigade

2 / Royal Scots

2 / Royal Irish Regt

4 / Middlesex

1 / Gordons

 

14th Infantry Brigade

2 / Suffolks

1 / East Surreys

1 / DCLI

2 / Mancesters

 

9th Infantry Brigade

1 / Northumberland Fusiliers

4 / Royal Fusiliers

1 / Lincolns

1 / Royal Scots Fusiliers

 

15th Infantry Brigade

1 / Norfolks

1 / Bedfordshires

1 / Cheshires

1 / Dorsets

 

Cavalry: "A" Sqdn. 15th Hussars

RFA: XXIII Bde (107, 108 109 Btys)

XL Bde (6, 23, 49 Btys)

XLII Bde (21, 29, 45 Btys)

XXX(How) Bde (128, 129, 130 Btys)

RGA: 48 Heavy Bty

RE: 56th and 57th Field Coys.

 

Cavalry: "A" Sqdn, 19th Hussars

RFA: XV Bde (11, 52, 80 Btys)

XXVII Bde (119, 120, 121 Btys)

XXVIII Bde (122, 123, 124 Btys)

VII (How) Bde (37, 61, 65 Btys)

RGA: 108 Heavy Bty

RE: 17th and 59th Field Coys.

 

19th Infantry Brigade (Formed at Valenciennes, 22nd August)

2 / Royal Welsh Fusiliers

1 / Cameronions

1 / Midlesex

2 / Argylls

 

Left of Centre Battalion

1 / Devons

GHQ Troops

North Irish Horse, South Irish Horse

 

Royal Flying Corps

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, & 6th Aeroplane squadrons

 


Lincolnshire Ex-Services Association (LEXSA)

Anyone who has served in HM Armed Forces will have experienced the sense of camaraderie and kinship that starts at basic training, accompanies one throughout a career and spans across Unit and Service divisions. In short, irrespective of the colour of our tunics or berets, we all have something very special in common. It is therefore only natural that on leaving the Services many people seek to continue that kinship through joining one of the many veterans associations. Unfortunately, time has taken its toll of many of the ex-Services associations, and some are in serious decline owing to their diminishing membership because of their ageing populations. This, sadly, is especially true of some of the World War 2 veterans organisations, but it is a phenomenon that stretches more widely too. The War Widows Association, which does tremendous work for the bereaved families of Service personnel is, very sadly, the only connected organisation that is currently growing. Back in 1999, a campaign was started by a larg number of local ex-Services personnel to restore the Lincoln High Street War Memorial. The campaign to persuade the City Council resulted in a £30,000 grant to restore the memorial. Encouraged by the success of this project and the enthusiasm of the original members of the team, the Lincolnshire Ex-Services Association (LEXSA) was formed to represent all ex-Services personnel, although membership has now been extended to include serving personnel and cadets too. Indeed, LEXSA welcomes serving members in joining them at their events, just as they too appreciate being invited to get involved in current Service events and activities. The organisation is supported by all the established ex-Services Organisations in Lincolnshire and meets once every 3 months at Sabraon Barracks in Lincoln, providing a forum to discuss many of the issues affecting serving and retired Service personnel and an opportunity to exchange thoughts and simply chat with fellow ex-Services personnel. LEXSA's main aim, in fact, is to offer mutual support for all its members and connected organisations, one of the principal benefits being that at each associated organisation's major event of the year, there is full representation from across the spectrum of ex-Services organisations in the local community, with the standards of each Association on parade. Such an approach is especially appreciated when a comrade is laid to rest. LEXSA has a lively social programme, such as the Queen's Birthday celebration, dances and the Christmas party, with costs subsidised through the Association's fund-raising activities conducted throughout the year. Another of LEXSA's activities is educating the public about the importance of remembrance and respect for the fallen, and it is always ready to provide displays or talks to interested groups, museums or schools. LEXSA's Public Relations Officer is David Hooper (former RAF Flight Sergeant photographer) - 01522 871797.


  • We are always pleased to hear from anyone who has information or photographs that we could publish on our website (must have strong connections to the Lincolnshire Regiment or the Royal Anglian Regiment please). You can contact us via our Contacts page.