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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 22916
9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who died on Tuesday, 7th September 1916
Age 23

Buried. Grave I E 32
Ovillers Military Cemetery, Somme, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Ovillers Cemetery

Ovillers Military Cemetery, Somme, France1

Walter Russell Frank Adcock (generally known as 'Russell') was born in Chilwell, Notts in 1893 2, the third child, eldest son of Walter (b. c1866, Chilwell) and Jane Adcock (b. c1867, Harby, Leicestershire née Norris). In 1901 the family, then including five children and Jane's widowed mother, was living on Main Road, Chilwell with Walter working as a labourer in an iron foundry3. By about 1905, the family had moved from Chilwell to neighbouring Beeston. By 1911, the family, now including two further daughters, was living at 41 Stoney Street. By that time, Russell had joined his father, working as a foundry labourer4.

In February 1913, Russell married Annie Nellie Hofton, daughter of William & Jane Sophie Hofton who lived with her grandparents, nearby at 14 Stoney Street. Their son, Russell, was born towards the end of that year, followed by another son, Arthur, in 19145.

As Russell's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters, but it is believed to have been sometime in February 19156. He become part of 9th (Service) Battalion which was formed at Derby in August 1914. After initial training close to home, the battalion moved to Belton Park, near Grantham and, in April 1915, on to Witley and Frensham for final training. At the end of June 1915, the battalion sailed from Liverpool for Gallipoli as part of 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division.

They landed near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay on the 6th and 7th of August, where progress against the enemy was found to be largely impossible and there were heavy losses. On the 19th and 20th of December 1915, badly hit by combat losses, disease and severe weather, the Division was withdrawn from Gallipoli, moving to the Greek island of Imbros and then to Egypt at the end of January. They concentrated at Sidi Bishr and took over a section of the Suez canal defences on the 19th of February 1916. On the 17th of June the Division was ordered to France to reinforce Third Army on The Somme.6.

The battalion, then consisting of 20 officers and 526 men, departed from Alexandria on the Oriana on the 1st July 1916, arrived at Marseilles on the 3rd of July and moved to the Somme. By the 22nd of July the battalion's strength had grown to 28 officers and 736 men and, after arriving at Arras on the 28th, they moved into the trenches. During a generally quite period they underwent training before relieving the 13th Cheshire Regiment in trenches at Ovillers on the 6th September where they faced very active artillery. On the 7th September, one officer and two other ranks were wounded and one man - possibly Private Adcock - was killed. One officer and 4 other ranks were killed on the 8th and 5 men were killed, with others wounded, on the 9th7. Because of the differences in the recorded date of his death, it is possible that Private Adcock may have been amongst any of these casualties8.

Private Adcock is buried in Ovillers Military Cemetery which is 500 metres west of the village of Ovillers which, in turn, lies 5 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert off the D929 road to Bapaume. It began as a battle cemetery, behind a dressing station and used until March 1917, when it contained 143 graves, about half of the present plot I. After the Armistice, Commonwealth and French graves were brought in from the battlefields and the nearby Mash Valley and Red Dragon cemeteries. There are now 3,440 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery of which 2,480 of the burials are unidentified9.

Private Adcock was posthumously awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10. In his 'Soldiers Will' he left his belongings to his wife and, consequently, she was paid his financial effects of 3 16s 4d on 14 December 1916 and his War Gratuity of 7 on 1 September 1919. By then, she had moved to 29 Nelson Street, Tantany Estate, West Bromwich and had married Wilfred Evans. She died in 197411.

1The photograph of Ovillers Military Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Shardlow Registration District (of which Chilwell was part) in Q3/1893 (Ref 7b 498)
3Chilwell, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3208 Folio 30
4Beeston, 1911 Census, Piece 20426 RD429 SD3 ED1 Schedule 180
Russell's siblings were Ethel May (b. 1889), Grace (b. c1891), Harold Arthur (b. 1896), Frederick (b. c1899), Gertrude Lizzie (b. c1901), Doris Eliza (b. 1907) and Edna Ivy (b. c1909)
5Their marriage was at Beeston Parish Church on 15 February 1914 and was registered in Basford Registration District in Q1/1913 (Ref 7b 272)
Their son Russell's birth was registered in Basford Registration District in Q3/1913 (Ref 7b 539). Arthur' birth was registered in Basford Registration in Q3/1914 (Ref 7b 534).
6This date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity.
6Details of the battalion formation, training, involvement at Gallipoli and transfer to the Somme is based on the account in The Wartime Memories Project (www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=7068)
7This account of the battalion's involvement in the Somme is based on the Battalion's war diary.
8His date of death is recorded as 7 September 1916 on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site and on his memorial stone in Ovillers Military Cemetery but appears as 9th September on the Graves Registration Report Form linked to his entry on the CWGC site.
9This description of Ovillers Military Cemetery is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
10Details from Russell's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com. This also confirms his embarkation date of 6 September 1915.
11Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. For some reason, the Army appears to have reclaimed 1 0s 6d on 8 August 1917. The amount of the gratuity tends to indicate that Russell enlisted in February 1915.
Annie is recorded at this new address in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial records. Her marriage to Wilfred Evans was on 21 June 1919 at St Clements, Nechells Warwickshire. She died on 13 March 2974 at Moxley, Wednesbury.

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