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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 18745
11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment)
Who died on Saturday, 9th October 1915
Aged 33

Plot I, Row E, Grave 14
Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension, France

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

Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension, France1

Samuel Freeman, was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire in 18822, the second son of Elijah & Mary Ann (née Summers) Freeman. By 1891, the family was living at 54 Union Street, Long Eaton with Elija, a native of Keysoe, Bedfordshire, working as a labourer, probably with the railway. Samuel and his elder brother George (b c1881) were at school3. By 1901, Elijah, Mary Ann and Arthur were living in Beeston, where Elijah was working as a foreman platelayer on the railway4. Samuel had remained in Long Eaton, where he too was working as a railway platelayer, and was boarding with a family at 131 Nottingham Road5.

On 21 May 1904, Samuel married Mary Barker Butcher (b. 1883) at Beeston Parish Church6 and, it appears, set up house in Derby, where three children were born - Samuel Arthur (1905), George William (b. 1906) and Elsie May (b. 1908). The family then moved to Beeston, where he had found work as a labourer at an iron foundry (probably Beeston Foundry) and where at least two more children were born - Millicent (b. c1909 and Beatrice Mary (b. c1910). The family were then living at 36 Lower Regent Street, Beeston7. At least one further child, John (b. 1913) was born to the couple.

Samuel probably enlisted with 11th (Service) Battalion Sherwood Foresters early in 1915. The Battalion was formed at Derby on 17th September 1914, part of Kitchener's New Army, made up of men who had voluntered in the early days of the war. It became part of the 70th Infantry Brigade in 23rd Division. Stationed originally at Aldershot, it moved to various places in the south of England before leaving originally from Folkestone, arriving at Boulogne on 27 August 1915. Although Private Freeman was not part of that original contingent, he followed shortly after, on 23 September 1915. After moving to the Flanders area, the battalion had an early taste of shelling and trench warfare and took part in diversionary actions on the periphery of the Battle of Loos. It appears that it was during this time, on 9 October 1915, Private Freeman was amongst the first of the battalion's casualties. He had been in France and Flanders less than two weeks.8.

Private Freeman is buried in Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension, in the village of Erquinghem-Lys, near Armentieres, France

His widow, Mary, would have now been in difficult circumstances, with six children, all between 10 and 2 years of age. Nevertheless, she managed to keep the family together, with help from the extended family. Payment of Samuel's backpay of 1 7s 4d in March 1916 and a war gratuity of 3 in August 1919, would have helped only marginally. But, after the family moved to Elijah & Mary Ann's small home at 23 Hawthorne Grove, Beeston, the children were able to attend Nether Street School and Queens Road Methodist Sunday School. The boys joined the Boys Brigade and, after leaving school, were able to find work at Beeston Boiler Company. Sadly, Mary died in 1926, aged only 429.

Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension is situated in the village of Erquinghem-Lys, France, approximately 1.5 kilometres west of Armentieres. The extension was begun in April 1915 and used by units and field ambulances until April 1918. It was continued down to the stream by the Germans (who also used the churchyard) in the summer of 1918, and in September and October 1918, it was used again for some Commonwealth burials. The extension now contains 558 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (eight of them unidentified) and 130 German burials. One unidentified Russian servicemen is also buried in the extension10.

1The photograph of Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Shardlow Registration District in Q1/1882 - Ref 7b 517
31891 Census - Piece 2724 Folio 24
41901 Census - Piece 3153 Folio 160 - 23 Hawthorne Grove, Beeston
51901 Census - Piece 3223 Folio 8
6The marriage was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q2 1904 - Ref 7b 277
Mary Barker Butcher was birth was registered in Derby Registration District in Q4/1883 -ref 7b 550
71911 Census - Piece 20432 RD 429 SD 3 ED 7 Schedule 145
8The Army Service Record for Samuel Freeman does not appear to have survived, however, his Medal Card does record the date that he was posted to France as 23rd September 1915.
A war history of 11th Battalion, 'The Men of the Greenwood' by Percy Fryer, is at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~davidlitchfield/Sherwood%20Foresters/
9Her death was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q1/1918 - ref 7b 326
10This description of Erquinghem-Lys Churchyard Extension is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)

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