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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 23126
9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who was killed in action on Sunday, 26th September 1916
Age 33

No Known Grave. Pier & Face 10C, 11D & 11A
Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", Somme, France

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

Thiepval "Memorial to the Missing", France1

Garnet Stenson was born in Sneinton, Nottingham 18842, second son, fourth of eleven children of Henry (1856-1914 b. Nottingham) and Jane Stenson (1857-1931, b. Nottingham, née Straw ). The family, then including four children, moved from Sneinton to Beeston in about 1885 and, in 1901, they was living at 104 Queens Street, Beeston. The family now included all eleven children and Garnet had started work in the lace trade as a threader3. At that time, Henry was working and boarding in Sheffield. Towards the end of 1910, Garnet married Martha Kent (b. c1887 Meadows, Nottingham) and, by 1911, they had set up home at 242 Wellington Street Long Eaton, Derbyshire, with Garnet was working as a lace maker5. Their son, Horace, was born in October 19116. Garnet's parents continued to live in Beeston, at 63 Windsor Street. with Henry working as an iron turner and the four youngest children still at home. Henry died in 1914, aged 577.

As Garnet'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 1915 at Derby8. He become part of 9th (Service) Battalion which had been 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 On the 19th and 20th of December 1915, badly hit by combat losses, disease and severe weather, the Division was withdrawn from Gallipoli, moving to the Greek island of Imbros and then to Egypt at the end of January.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 Somme9.

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 which became the pattern for the rest of September. On the 26th the battalion took an active part in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, a major operation on a wide front, involving British and Canadian units, designed to clear the Ridge in preparation of a attempt to pinch out the German salient. On the first day the battalion fought bravely and effectively, largely achieving their objectives but very heavy casualties meant that it became increasingly difficult to hold on to the gains.10.

It was during this first day that Private Stenson was reported as missing and his devastated wife and family were informed accordingly. Though they must have clung to the faint hope that he would be found alive, all such hope came to an end in August 1917 when they were informed that he was presumed dead. Announcements in the Nottingham Evening Post of 7 August 1917 showed the anguish :

stenson death

As Private Stenson's body was never identified he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing which now stands adjacent to the Leipzig Redoubt. The memorial was unveiled on the 1st August 1932 by the then Prince of Wales and is the largest British War Memorial in the world. Standing 150 feet high, it dominates the surrounding area. The memorial stands on a concrete raft 10ft thick, built 19ft below the ground, the solution to the problems of building over the warren of tunnels that formed the German second line. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens the memorial has sixteen masonry piers, where can be found, on the panel faces, the names of some 72,000 British and 830 South African soldiers who died and have no known grave, during the period starting in July 1915, when the British Third Army took over from the French, through the Somme battles of 1916, until 20th March 1918, the eve of the last great German offensive on the Somme. The focal point of the memorial is the Stone of Remembrance, which lies under the great arch and centrally between the piers, for which Rudyard Kipling chose a quotation from Ecclesiasticus, "There name liveth forevermore".

Private Stenson is known to have been posthumously awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star11. His wife Lily received payment of his financial effects of 1 6s 8d on 5 December 1918 and his War Gratuity of 7 on 2 August 191912. By this time, Lily had moved to back to live in the Meadows area of Nottingham, at least initially at 9 Curtis Grove, Wilford Road. She died in Nottingham in 1954. aged 6813.

1The photograph of the Thiepval Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q2/1884 (Ref 7b 325).
3Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 134.
Garnet's siblings were Elizabeth (b. c1879), Kate (b. c1882), Henry (b. c1883), Mary Ellen (b. c1886), Jane (b. c1887), Gertrude (b. c1890), Joseph (b. c1893), Percy (b. 1898) and Ivy (b. c1900)
4Their marriage is recorded in Basford Registration District in Q4/1910 (Ref 7b 422).
5Long Eaton, Derbyshire, 1911 Census, Piece 20828 RD434 SD4 ED7 Schedule 96.
6Horace's birth was recorded in Shardlow Registration District (of which Long Eaton was part) in Q4/1911 and was stated as born on 6 October 1911 when his death was recorded in Nottingham in August 1991.
7Beeston, Notts, 1911 Census, Piece 20430 RD429 SD3 ED5 Schedule 8. Henry's death was registered in Basford Registration District in Q2/1914 (Ref 7b 233), aged 57.
8This date is estimated, based on the amount of his War Gratuity. His place of enlistment is recorded as part of his entry in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'
9Details 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)
10This account of the battalion's involvement in the Somme is based on the Battalion's war diary.
11Details from Garnet's Medal Card - available on ancestry.com. His embarkation date is not recorded on the card.
12Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. The amount of the gratuity indicates that Garnet enlisted in February 1915.
13Lily is also known to have lived at 57 Granville Street, Long Eaton (Mentioned in an In Memoriam Notice in the Nottingham Evening Post of 7 August 1917). The Meadows address is given in Garnet's Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry. Lily's death was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1954 (Ref 3c 218), aged 68.

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