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The Great War in St John’s Parish: Cowper Road

World War One in Cowper Road

In 1913 there were about 55 house in Cowper Road. The highest number was 55 and all the house had been recently built. The road had the highest concentration of enlisted men and casualties in the parish. 18 served in front line units out of 25 men; seven died in service; five were discharge unfit before the end of the war.

Percy James Parr

No. 4 Horace Tabor lance corporal 2568 Cambridge Regiment. Served in France from February 1915. Awarded the Military Medal 14/10/16 for his actions at the Schwaben Redoubt. He baptised his daughter at St John’s 5/10/1919.

No. 14 Ernest Merry private 355524 7th/1st/19th Bttn London Regiment. Born 1899, in 1911 his mother is Eliza Merry widow laundress. He was killed 1/9/1918 probably during the attack on Maricourt. His mother was now Mrs Matthews.

No. 18 George Merry sapper / lance corporal Royal Engineers (Transport). Married Agnes in 1909 – 4 children. Qualified steam engine driver. Joined up March 1915 and went to France in January 1916.

Richard Pym sergeant major 11913 13th Hampshire Regiment. Baptised two children at St John’s 27/6/1915. In October 1919 broken marriage reported in paper and award of 35s per week to wife.

No. 20 In 1911 this was the home of Arthur Henry Merry. Born in 1897 he was then a draper’s errand boy. He joined up with the Cambridgeshire Regiment and became a sergeant. He was awarded the Military Medal while a corporal in B company for his actions on 26/9/1917.

No. 24 Ernest Frederick Oakman private 18473 Suffolk Regiment. 1911 boarding at this address – general labourer. Daughter baptised 3/10/1915 at St John’s. On discharge deemed 25% unfit because of heart problems.

No. 30 W. Vincent private 2568 No.2 Supernumeracy Coy 1st Bttn Cambridge Regiment. Supernumeracy Companies made up of local Territorial Force Battalions and consisted of men of an age which made them unsuitable for service abroad.

No. 32 Percy James Parr acting corporal 1st Bttn Royal Fusiliers. Born 1893, a bricklayer. Killed 7th June 1917.

His family have created a detailed testimony to him on the Cambridge News website. He had already served in the army for ten years and left in 1909 to return to work as a bricklayer. In the words of his tribute, the photo of the family together was taken in a studio in Cambridge when Percy James Parr was on leave before going back out to the Western Front, specifically Ypres. He died there on June 7, 1917 – the day after the huge mining attack on the Messines Ridge. He went over with the second wave on a sunny day before reaching the German line at the Rosebeke stream. He was killed along with 13 other ordinary rank and two young officers. He was 37.

William Northrop private 53362 1st Suffolk Regular Army. Married Bertha Ellis, domestic servant at this address 13/11/14 St John’s. Baptised daughter 25/11/14.

No. 40 Frank Cook

No. 50 Samuel Westley soldier, baptised son 1/11/18 St John’s.

No. 52 Ellis Robert Fincham, b. 1882, private 43643 9th Bttn Cameronian (Scottish Rifles). Baptised son ‘Verdun’ 21/6/1917 St John’s. Killed in action in Flanders 12/10/1917.

His widow, Ethel Constance, b. 1877, received a war gratuity of £8 1s 9d in 1919. She volunteered for the Red Cross and served for 6 months  in 1919 at the First Eastern General Hospital.

No. 54 Granville House: John William Collinwood sergeant major 1st/4th Yorks. Married Winifred Flack of this address on 19/4/1919 at St John’s.

Henry T Flack gunner 27533 Royal Garrison Artillery. Returned home from service in Asia 17/1/19.

No. 47 William James Bretherton sapper / private 2nd Suffolks. He had enlisted in 1895 and served in the Boer War. “At La Brasse November 1914 he was buried in soil by a bursting shell, had to be dug out, and while in hospital developed pneumonia of both lungs. He has since had constant cough and expectoration purulent. He has lost a stone in weight.” He was discharged 26/3/1915 with TB. He baptised his three children at St John’s 5/5/1915.

No. 41 Charles Wilson Carter private M/324335 3/1st Bttn Cambridgeshire Regiment; Army Service Corps (MT). He enlisted 11/9/1915 and was discharged sick 13/3/1918.

No. 35 George William Hatton private 4598 3rd/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. He baptised his daughter at St John’s 20/4/1916.

No. 31 Victor Russell John Nightingale born 1887, private 43323 7th Bttn Bedford Regiment. He was a stock exchange clerk. He was killed 15/8/1917 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

No. 27 Bennett Robert Lenney sapper 84462 Royal Engineers. He lived in Cowper Road until he joined up June 1915. On discharge he returned home to discover his wife hand run off with a man called Webb. He was awarded a decree nisi.

No. 25 Mrs Chapman volunteered for the Red Cross at the First Eastern General Hospital for 6 months.

No. 23 Ambrose Blackwell born 1894, private 43150 West Surrey Regiment. His father was a college servant. He was killed 23/3/1917.

Charles Clark born 1898, sergeant 481215 55th General Hospital Boulogne RAMC

No. 21 Harry Hayward, born 1882, 1st Bttn Northants Regiment. Died of wound 18/7/1917 while a prisoner in Germany.

Mrs Hayward volunteered for the Red Cross at the First Eastern Hospital for 6 months.

No. 19 Walter Thomas Brand Jarvis lance corporal. Married Mary Oakman of this address 9/9/1918.

No. 7 George Frederick Calton, born 1877, private 34384 3rd Bttn 15th Infantry Suffolk Regiment. He was a brewer’s carman who married Elizabeth in 1903. He was discharged unfit in 1917 with a history of influenza, drop foot and paresis.

No. 1 The Cabin: George Charles Oakman, born 1893, 7th Bttn Suffolk Regiment. Before the war he was a milk deliverer then a laundryman. In January 1918 he suffered a strangulated hernia.

Henry ‘Harry’ William Oakman, born 1884,  2nd Bttn Essex Regiment. He was killed 10/10/1917 during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, probably during an attack near Poelcapelle.


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