The Lovell Brothers

 

Probably the most poignant aspect of the Thurleigh War Memorial is the fact that three brothers went to war and each was killed in action. They served with different regiments in different parts of the campaign, but none of them returned home. All three were the sons of Thomas Lovell, a shepherd, and Caroline, both originally from Bolnhurst but living in Cross End at the time of the 1901 census. Thomas and Caroline had been married in 1891 and, in common with many the couples, had a very large family. The 1911 census records that they had 11 children, 10 of whom were still alive: Lillian, Arthur, Reginald, Ernest, Florence, Leslie, Daisy, Roland, Victor and William. Their residence was 2 Manor Cottage, Thurleigh.

 

Private Arthur Edwin Lovell

Reg. No. 13263 (9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters - Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment)

Killed in Action: 21 August 1915, Gallipoli

Commemorated: Helles Memorial, Turkey. Panel 150 to 152.

Arthur was the village soldier who was killed in action the furthest from home. It is worth pointing out at this stage that there is a discrepancy between the Thurleigh Roll of Honour and other records. The Roll of Honour suggests that he was killed on 21 August 1918, but this is probably a typographical error because the records show he was killed 21 August 1915.

Arthur was the oldest son of Thomas and Caroline, born in 1893. He enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters in Derby and the 9th Battalion sailed from Liverpool in early July 1915, landing at Sulva Bay, Gallipoli, on 7 August 1915. It is almost certain that Arthur took part in the Battle of Scimitar Hill, which was the last offensive mounted by the British at Sulva during the Battle of Gallipoli. The attack, which was launched on 21 August, was the largest single day attack launched by the Allies at Gallipoli. The British force was eventually withdrawn from the peninsula in December 1915.

Arthur is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, which serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave.

The United Kingdom and Indian forces named on the memorial died in operations throughout the peninsula, the Australians at Helles. There are also panels for those who died or were buried at sea in Gallipoli waters. The memorial bears more than 21,000 names.

 

Private Ernest William Lovell

Reg. No. 40549 (2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment)

Killed in Action: Friday 22 March 1918

Buried: Savy British Cemetery, Aisne, France. Grave I. O. II.

The youngest of the Lovell sons to be killed was Ernest, born in 1897. As with his brothers, the only records we have about him are those contained in the 1901 and 1911 census data, which record him as being a Farm Labourer at the time that he enlisted with the Bedfordshire Regiment.

He was killed in action on 22 March 1918. The history of the 2nd Battalion contains the following listing for the day he was killed:

22 Mar 1918 - Verlaines Early in the morning a few Germans worked into "C" Coys position, from a Sunken Road just in front of our wire. "A" and "C" Coys were heavily shelled all day and at about 2 p.m. the enemy attacked in large numbers. "C" Coys position was taken and some of our men taken prisoner. The remnants of "A" and "B" Coy hung on till surrounded by large numbers of enemy. They fought very well and only a few got back. By 4 p.m. the enemy could be seen advancing on either side of STEVENS REDOUBT. At 5 p.m. Orders were received to withdraw. The withdrawal was carried out at once, but there were a number of casualties as the withdrawal had to be made across open country and the enemy machine gun and shrapnel fire was very heavy. The Battalion withdrew to VERLAINES via GERMAINE - FORESTE - VILLERS ST CHRISTOPHE and HAM. Billetted in VERLAINES for the night.

His remains were eventually interred in the Savy British Cemetery. The Cemetery was made in 1919, and the graves from the battlefields and from the following small cemeteries in the neighbourhood were concentrated into it:-

DALLON GERMAN CEMETERY, North-West of the village of Dallon, contained the graves of 21 British soldiers who fell in March 1918.

ST. QUENTIN-ROUPY ROAD GERMAN CEMETERY, at L'Epine-de-Dallon, which contained the graves of 232 British soldiers who fell in March 1918.

There are now over 850, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, more than half are unidentified. Given the date of Ernest's death, it is possible that his remains were originally buried at one of these two sites.

 

 

Private Reginald Percy Lovell

Reg. No. G.2821 (East Surrey Regiment)

Died: 30 Nov 1914

Buried: St Stephen's-by-Saltash Churchyard, Grave reference 1430.

Reginald was the second son of Thomas and Caroline, born in 1895. He is one of the more interesting people who is named on the War Memorial. The Roll of Honour for Thurleigh contains no details of his service, other than he was a Private in the East Surrey Regiment. Some sources suggest that he was 'killed in action' in Cornwall in Q4, 1914, and there is certainly a death recorded in the national register of deaths for St Germans for that time. There is a reference to Reginald in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1924, which contains the following entry:
'LOVELL, REGINALD , Private No. G.2821, East Surrey Regt. s. Thomas Lovell of Bedford; died (?) 30 Nov 1914.'

It seems possible that Reginald served with the British Expeditionary Force in the very early days of the war and might have been wounded, brought back to England and died or was brought back to be buried.

He is buried in the graveyard of St. Stephen's-by- Saltash in Cornwall, with 40 other servicemen.