Netley Military Cemetery Part Three: The Non-Conformist Plot

These three rows of headstones comprise the Non-Conformist plot.

Which is not strictly true, actually, because there is another row of Great War non-conformist burials elsewhere that we shall see at the end of the post, but these three rows are all men who died while the fighting was still ongoing.

The earliest grave in this section is that of Private William McLeod Innes, Royal Scots Greys, who died on 27th August 1914, aged 25.  The Scots Greys lost their first casualties in action over the weekend of 22nd/23rd August during the retreat from Mons, but I really don’t know, during those days of chaos, if it would have been possible to get wounded men home that quickly.  There is little doubt, however, that as the war progressed, the chain of evacuation for wounded soldiers was quite capable of getting casualties home in double quick time.

On the right, Driver William Mailer, Royal Field Artillery, who died on 3rd September 1914, and on the left, Guardsman James Jarvis, Scots Guards, who died at sea on his way back to Blighty on 12th September 1914.

The grave of Guardsman Henry Howe, Coldstream Guards, who was wounded at the Battle of the Marne in early September, and who would die of his wounds on 15th October 1914.  The inset picture shows his grave with its original white cross still in place.  The darker cross in the foreground is now the CWGC headstone behind Guardsman Howe in the main picture; Private Donald McRae, Auckland Regiment, N.Z.E.F., also died of wounds, on 20th October 1915, aged 35.

Two Royal Scots Fusiliers who both died in early November 1914, on the right, Private John Hildersley, who died on 4th November 1914 aged 28, and on the left, Private John White, who died of wounds on 8th November 1914.

The Royal Scots Fusiliers were heavily involved in the fighting around Ypres in October 1914, as these war diary extracts illustrate,…

…both the privates whose graves we have just seen most likely among the wounded mentioned here.

Private Mungo Dymock, Cameron Highlanders, who died on 20th November 1914 aged 34, and a report in a Scottish newspaper of his funeral, along with some interesting observations of Netley in 1914 – there are, for your information, no Indian graves in this cemetery, and no suggestion, that I can find, that there ever were.

This cross actually marks the grave of 82-year old Violet Adams, who died in December 1914, and quite why she is buried here I know not.  On the right, Private William McPherson Sinclair, Gordon Highlanders, a piper who died of his wounds aboard ship returning to Blighty on 25th November 1914 aged 27, and on the left, Private Sidney Percy Hartley, Dorsetshire Regiment, who died of meningitis on 19th December 1914, also aged 27.

Private James Scott (left), The Black Watch, aged 20, who was wounded in the head on 9th May 1915 and who died of his injuries on 18th May 1915, and, on the right, Private John Munro Ross, 16th Bn. Canadian Infantry, wounded in France on 22nd April, who died on 16th May 1915.

The CWGC headstone is that of Private William Barton Harvey, Hampshire Regiment, who died of sickness on 21st June 1915 aged 49.  5th Bn. Hampshire Regiment embarked for India in mid-October 1914, replacing troops stationed there who were required on the Western Front, and in India they stayed, for the rest of the war.  Whether this man was among them, bearing in mind his age, who knows?  Equally, I have no idea about the cross.

The front row ends with the graves of Sapper Jack Brett Horne, New Zealand Engineers, who died of sickness on 19th July 1915 aged 26, and, nearest the camera, Lance Corporal F. Childs, Gordon Highlanders, who died on 1st August 1915.

Canadian burials at the end of row two, Private Charles McKenzie Stewart (closest to camera), 42nd Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died on 19th November 1916, and next to him Private John James Edwards, 13th Bn. Canadian Infantry, wounded in the left thigh in France and admitted to Netley on 20th October, who died of acute pneumonia and cardiac failure on 13th November 1916.

Private Peter Cameron, Cameron Highlanders, who died of wounds on 5th November 1916 aged 30.

Continuing along the second row…

…on the left, Private James Alfred Maclean, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, who died of wounds on 1st October 1916 aged 18, and on the right, Private Antonia Robert Francis M.M., Australian Army Medical Corps, awarded a Military Medal for ‘coolness and perseverance under fire in collecting and evacuating wounded’ at Pozières in late July 1916.  He was severely wounded with gunshot wounds to the spine, and would die on 6th September 1916, aged 31.

Private Albert George Spice, 1st Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died on 6th June 1916 aged 21.

The headstone closest to the camera…

…marks the grave of Private James Wilkie, Scottish Horse, who was wounded in the Dardanelles and evacuated home, only to die on 10th April 1916 aged 22.  Probably many months after receiving his injury.

The row continues with, on the left, Private Robert Thomas Pask, South Wales Borderers, who died of dysentery on 4th April 1916 aged 21, and next to him, Private Frank J. Oldfield, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, who died of gunshot wounds to the thigh on 13th March 1916 aged 32,…

…and ends with men who died in the latter half of 1915.  Except the man buried at the end, closest to the camera.  Private Charles McBeath, The Black Watch, went missing* on 1st December 1914, although his drowned body was not discovered, and buried, until 16th September 1915.

*I presume from Netley, where, once again, I presume he was recovering from injuries of some sort.

The final row includes a number of Australian & Canadian casualties.  On the right, Private John Forrest, 10th Bn. Australian Infantry, who died from a gunshot wound to the head on 22nd November 1916, nearly two months after he was injured, aged 20.  On the left, Private Clarke Burns Locker, 43rd Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died of cardiac asthma on the 28th November 1916 on board H.M.H.S. Gloucester Castle.  He was 29.

Closest to the camera, Private Harold Brown, Royal Lancaster Regiment, is, unfortunately, an example of the reason why army discipline was so strict on men who contracted trench foot, because that was the reason he would be hospitalized in France in late 1916, later to be evacuated to Blighty where he would die of trench foot and tetanus on 25th December 1916, aged 21.  Private Charles Armstrong (centre), 10th Bn. Canadian Infantry, died on 15th March 1917 from acute mania and exhaustion, and Private William McKelvy Johnston (left), 52nd Bn. Canadian Infantry, was admitted to Netley in September 1916 with paralysis caused by a gunshot wound to the shoulder from which he would die on 10th March 1917, aged 26.

Closest to the camera, Swedish-born Private Theodore Monson, 8th Bn. Canadian Infantry, died on 10th June 1917 of confusional insanity.  Apparently.  The text is just the start of a 1905 study on the subject.  Click to enlarge, as always.

The Australian buried nearest the camera is Private Lindsay Robert Lansdowne, 30th Bn. Australian Infantry, wounded in the abdomen during the Battle of Messines in the second week of June 1917, from which he caught septicemia and died on 21st June.  The number of deaths during the Great War, in the days before antibiotics, from injuries infected by fragments of filthy uniform (or gas-soaked soil) forced into deep wounds by bullets or pieces of shrapnel must have been astronomical.  Next to him, Lance Corporal Murdock Godfrey Evans, 45th Bn. Australian Infantry, who died from wounds to his wrist and groin on 24th June 1917 aged 20, probably another Messines casualty.

Private Frank Andrews, Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, who died,…

…according to what must have been his original headstone, today resting against the reverse of his CWGC one, in Southampton Isolation Hospital (below) on 9th August 1917 aged 25.

On the right, one of only six South African Great War casualties buried in this cemetery.  Private E. Mbenyesi, South African Native Labour Corps, died on board H.M.H.S. Carisbrooke Castle while being evacuated to Blighty on 25th August 1917.  On the left, Staff Serjeant John Hunter, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, who died on 30th August 1917.

More Canadian & Australian burials in the final row (above & below).  From left, Private Samuel John Tulloch, 47th Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 9th May 1918 aged 24, Gunner Henry Thomas Matheson, Australian Field Artillery, who died of wounds on board H.M.H.S. Carisbrook Castle on 17th April 1918, aged 35, Private John Stewart, an American in the 47th Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died on 1st March 1918, and Private Edison Torry Handspiker, 25th Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died on 5th February 1918, having been wounded on 7th July 1917, from trench foot, gangrene, nephritis & heart problems, aged just 18.

On the left, another American, Private Theodore Tyler, 2nd Bn. Canadian Infantry, who died of wounds on 4th October 1918 aged 18, in the centre, Private Archibald Kerr, 57th Bn. Australian Infantry, who died from a gunshot wound to his arm and severe gas burns on 5th October 1918, aged 34, and on the right, Gunner Robert Leslie Gibson Urquhart, Australian Field Artillery, who died of wounds on 3rd October 1918, aged 33.

The two hospital ships mentioned in this post.  The inset shows H.M.H.S. Carisbrook Castle, whilst the main picture shows H.M.H.S. Gloucester Castle after her encounter with UB-32 on 31st March 1917 off the Isle of Wight.  She would be refloated but eventually sunk once again, although in civilian service, during the Second World War, with the loss of almost a hundred of her crew and passengers.

Looking back across the Non-Conformist plot, but before we leave, as I mentioned at the start, there is another row of non-conformist Great War burials beyond the Cross,…

……that we saw briefly during the introduction when we were looking at the individual graves seen here on the left.  The row of eleven graves on the right,…

…are all men who died between October 1918 & 1921, with the man buried nearest the camera,…

…Rifleman J. Fairgrieve, Royal Irish Rifles, who died on 1st June 1921, being the final Great War non-conformist burial in the cemetery.

Next to him, Lance Serjeant R. H. Duncanson, Royal Field Artillery, who died on 9th June 1920, the dates on the following headstones also men who died in the months after the end of the war,…

…until, at the other end,…

…the earliest burials in the row are two privates who died in the final weeks of the war, the only men in the row to die before the cessation of hostilities.  Nearest the camera, Private George McNaughton, 17th Bn. Australian Infantry, died of wounds aboard H.M.H.S. Carisbrook Castle whilst returning to England on 9th October 1918, aged 30, and next to him, Private J. Findlay, Royal Scots Fusiliers, died on 12th October 1918.  In the background, you can see the main Non-Conformist plot across the cemetery,…

…which we’ll return to for a final look back down its three rows before we exit down the path stage left, and head in the direction of the Officers’ plot.  With a short stop on the way, as you will see next post.

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4 Responses to Netley Military Cemetery Part Three: The Non-Conformist Plot

  1. Graham Martin says:

    These insights, that you bring to us, continue to enhance our understanding of the sheer scale of the horrors awaiting the enlisted serviceman. I wonder how many died, from infections that modern medicine could have fixed. My grandfather (Royal Warks 10 btn) survived the war, but later died of TB ; my Father had the same disease, twenty years later… and was cured. Thank you.

  2. Alan Bond says:

    I visited this cemetery several times many years ago and never realised that it was divide into plots along rank à d religions lines. Does this not destroy the principle that all casualties are treat equally in death. I’m guessing the reason behind this division that is due to the cemetery being laid out when the hospital was first in use in the 1800s when ordinary soldiers were valued less especially the dead ones. What determines if a soldier is non conformist. Thanks for making this visit and writing it up in your usual great style. On my list for a visit next time I am in England. Did you visit any of the other cemeteries in Southampton.

    • Magicfingers says:

      I think your theory is 100% correct. A non-conformist is ‘a member of a Protestant Church which dissents from the established Church of England’, and no, I didn’t know that before writing this post either. I would most certainly visit again – fascinating place. And I did visit a couple of the nearby churchyards (coming soon), but didn’t have time to go into Southampton itself (even though I intended to).

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