Stuntney Heroes

World War One

"Stuntney Heroes" was the title of a book of photographs, from World War 1, kept in Holy Cross Church, Stuntney. The original can be viewed in the Cambridgeshire Archives at Shire Hall, Cambridge.

Stuntney's Memorial to the fallen in both world wars is situated inside Holy Cross Church, Stuntney.

The written reports are transcripts of reports taken from various local newspapers between 1914 and 1918. The newspapers can be read on microfiche machines in either Ely Library or Cambridge Library (in Lion Yard).

Please note, there are variations in the spelling of some names (e.g. Osborn and Osborne) and also in the forenames of some people (e.g. Harry or Henry).
James William FITCH
Herbert James HOLLIDAY
Thomas Francis LEMON
William John MAYLE
Harry Arthur NORDEN
John Charles OSBORNE
Henry William SABERTON
John Ellis TAYLOR
John William WEST
Useful web links
Stuntney Men who Fought in the Great War
Newspaper articles - for men killed
More Generalised Newspaper Reports


(Where a name is marked with asterisk (eg. *Bert Parker McGee*), this means that
further information is availble by clicking on the name.)


*James William Fitch*                            Herbert James Holliday


Thomas Francis Lemon                            *Thomas Parker McGee*


*Bert Parker McGee*                            *James Parker McGee*


*Edward Parker McGee*                            William James Mayle


Henry Arthur Norden                            *John Charles Osborne*


*Henry William Saberton*                            Edward Wilkin


*John Ellis Taylor*                            *John William West*

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Newspaper Reports

John Charles Osborne


We regret to record the death of Pte. J.C. Osborne, son of Mr. and Mrs. Osborne of Stuntney, who was killed in action on May 4th. The first intimation his parents had of his death was on Friday last, when they received official notification from the war office. A month therefore elapsed before the sad tidings reached the hamlet. The deceased private enlisted in the 1st Suffolks after the outbreak of war and went to the front in March. He was born in Stuntney, and was in the employ of Cole Ambrose for some years. His father is a blacksmith, and much sympathy is felt for the family in their sad loss.

Pte. Osborne, we believe, is the first Stuntney man to lay down his life for his King and country. A photograph will appear in our next issue.

Cambridgeshire Times 11th June 1915

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James William Fitch

No.326418, Private, James William FITCH 1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment formerly 3724, Cambridgeshire Regiment Killed in Action on 26th September 1917 Aged 27
116 Brigade attacked with 13th Royal Sussex and 14th Hampshire Regt. In support were 11th and 12th Royal Sussex. The troops advanced easily through Tower Hamlets and linked with the Cambridgeshires of 118 Bde, consolidating the line behind Tower Trench. A post was established in the North west corner of Gheluvelt Wood. 118 Brigade attacked with 4/5th Black Watch and 1/1st Cambridgeshire. 1/6th Cheshire was in support. The assaulting battalions were held up by boggy ground and only A Coy of the Cambridgeshires was able to keep up with the barrage. As a result C and D Coys only reached the western side of Joist Redoubt when A Coy was fighting on the eastern side of it. Contact was also lost with 116 Bde on the left. In spite of these difficulties the brigade took all its objectives apart from a blockhouse on the left flank.

CWGC record 62 of the Cambridgeshires killed on 26th, only 7 with known graves.

James Fitch is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial, Belgium panel 148 also commemorated on the Ely and Littleport war memorials

Many thanks to Tony Pringle (Newmarket) for this information

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John William West


The casualties announced in the official lists issued on Friday night included the name of Lance-Corporal J. W. West (Stuntney), 1st Cambs. Regiment, among the wounded. Upon enquiry, we were informed that his injury was only a slight one, and that he had since rejoined his platoon.

Ely Standard 26 - 5 - 1916


Lance-Corpl. John William West, 1st Cambs. Regt., of Stuntney, was killed in action on June 30th. The first telegram his parents received reported him "dangerously wounded", he having been struck in the head by a bullet. Pte. William J. Norden, who saw him borne on a stretcher, wrote that he seemed to suffer little, and was "quite cheerful," but within an hour he lost consciousness and passed away. The Field Hospital Sister wrote a touching letter to his parents. Everything possible was done for him, without avail. He was buried, along with six others, on July 3rd. He had been a member of the Stuntney choir, and was held in high esteem.

Ely Standard 14 - 7 - 1916


Lance-Corpl. J. W. West, 1st Cambs. Regt., whose death in action was recorded in our last issue - he was shot through the head - enlisted on the outbreak of war, and went out to the front with his regiment on Feb. 16th 1915. He was the son of Mr and Mrs. W. West of Stuntney, who have received two letters. One was from Sister Leger, of a Clearing Station, stating that the Corporal was admitted into her ward on July 1st, was quite unconscious, and only lived a few hours. He was buried, along with six other brave men, in the cemetery near the hospital on July 3rd.-The other letter was from Second-Lieut. J. M. Wrixeh, 1/1 Cambs. Regt. "at present in charge of the Battalion Snipers" who said that he knew the deceased well. He was in his platoon for nearly a year, and was promoted, on the officer's recommendation, to be Lance-Corporal. "He was a good soldier" added the Lieutenant, "and a thoroughly good fellow, and I am deeply grieved to hear of his death."

Ely Standard 21 - 7 - 1916

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Henry William Saberton


As briefly announced in our last issue, Pte Henry William Saberton, 7th Suffolks, of Stuntney, has been killed in action,but beyond the bare official announcement, the widow has received no news of how he came by his death, which occurred a few weeks ago. Letters written home by Soham and Stuntney men leave no doubt that he was killed by a shell.

The reason the deceased man gave for joining the Forces was that he would not wait until he was fetched, and he deemed it his duty as a man to help his King and country. He enlisted on Feb. 1st, 1915, and went out to France in August.

Besides the widow, he leaves eight children under 13 years of age to mourn their loss.

Ely Standard 14 - 1 - 1916

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Bert, Edward, James and Thomas Parker McGee

THREE SONS IN ONE DAY. - On Oct. 12th, 1916, Thomas Parker McGee died in France of wounds received three days before. On the same day his two brothers, James and Bert were missing. Through the Red Cross Enquiry it has now transpired that on that day Pte. H. Jackson, Suffolk Regt., lately in hospital in France, thus reports: "We made our advance towards evening, and I saw Pte. Bert Parker McGee killed by a high explosive shell on No Man's Land.". There is as yet no news of James,


TWO WOUNDED. - We recently recorded "Three in one day," alluding to the Parker McGee family; two brothers killed at the front and a third missing. A wire has now come that the fourth brother, Edward, has been "dangerously wounded in France," is in hospital, but cannot be visited. - Thomas Payton, of Thorney has been slightly wounded, but was able to write home. - Other "Stuntney boys" write of severe fighting, take matters cheerily.


Edward Parker McGee, who last week was reported dangerously wounded, was taken to a hospital in Belgium on Aug. 8, but succumbed to his wounds soon after the following midnight. .The sister writes that he had every possible attention.


Information has reached us this week of the death, from wounds received in action, of Pte. Edward Parker McGee, Northumberland Fusilers, son of Mr. and Mrs. Parker McGee of Stuntney. The gallant private, who was 25 years of age, leaves a wife and one child, who reside at Witchford. Much sympathy is felt for them and also the parents, who have now lost four sons in the war, the names of Pte. Thos. Parker McGee, Cambs. Regt., Pte. James Parker McGee, Suffolk, and Pte. Bert Parker Mcgee, Suffolk.


On Monday Mr. Parker McGee heard officially from the War Office that his son James had been "missing" since Oct.12th, the very day his other son, Thomas had died of wounds. A third son, Bert, has since been reported missing. Thus great anxiety is added to their recent bereavement.

The death occurred recently at a casualty clearing station in France of Pte. Harry Arthur Norden, Cambs. Regt., who was admitted suffering from cerebro spinal meningitis. The deceased, whose parents reside at Stuntney, was only 23years of age.

Ely Standard 3rd Nov.1916

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John Ellis TAYLOR



Much regret has been occasioned by the news that has been received by Mr and Mrs Ellis Taylor of Eye Hill Farm Soham, concerning their eldest son Corpl. John E. Taylor, who is officially reported missing. Corpl. Taylor, who belonged to the Royal Bucks. Hussars, enlisted almost at the outbreak of war, and having been through a considerable amount of training, he left this country about six months ago for Egypt. In a letter home to his parents he commented on the rough passage and the exciting encounter the transport had with an enemy vessel during the voyage. He subsequently contracted blood poisoning in the hand and was granted a short leave , during which time he visited an uncle at Cairo.

He eventually landed with others of his regiment in the Dardanelles, and from the news obtained from various sources it does not appear that he had been in action many days before he was cut off from his company and reported missing. The news concerning the young soldier, who was only 20 years of age, has been received with mingled feelings of regret and sympathy for his family. Corpl. Taylor, whose photograph we publish herewith, has a brother, Lieut. Owen Taylor, who, it is pleasing to record, has obtained a commission out of the ranks, and is now, after successfully passing an examination, assisting in the work of instruction and drilling.

Cambridgeshire Times 12th Sept 1915


In our issue of Sept. 17th we announced the sad news which had been received by Mr and Mrs Ellis S. Taylor, of Eye Hill House Soham, that their eldest son , was officially reported as missing. The parents naturally continued to hope that the worst had not befallen him, but that hope has now been dispelled by information of his death which has now been received from a comrade of deceased who personally saw him fall in the fight on Hill 70 in Gallipoli. In an interview with this soldier, who has been home in Balham on sick furlough, the parents of Corpl. Taylor learned that death occurred during the memorable attack on Hill 70 in Gallipoli . The charge, he says, was made at dusk, ..... the regiment leaping to their feet, charging right up the hill. They were met by terrible fire, but nothing seemed to stop them in their dash for the summit. During the attack many of their leaders were lost, and many brave soldiers fell.

The late Corpl. Taylor who belonged to the Royal Bucks. Hussars , landed in Gallipoli on Aug 19th and from the accounts recently received he was killed two days later. The sad news has occasioned great regret in the locality, where the deceased was extremely well known and held in high regard. His death is regarded as that of a true patriot. His letters home have always been full of expressions of loyalty to his King and country, and the following extract in particular taken from a letter written from Egypt, just prior to his leaving for the front may be quoted: "Whatever happens, you may be sure that I shall do my duty".

In a communication received by the bereaved parents from Major St John, reference is made to the deceased soldier. The writer says: " It is hopeless my attemping to make your loss any easier. He was just one of the best. I knew him too well to doubt that he died any way but as a gentleman and in just the way that he would like to die. The spot where he died was a very inferno - a sort of no man's land , shelled by friend and enemy alike"

Corpl. Taylor was in his 21st year. He was the grandson of Mr Cole Ambrose, of Stuntney Hall. His brother, Second - Lieutenant, Owen Taylor, left Soham on Sunday under orders to proceed to Egypt.

Cambridgeshire Times 17th Nov 1915

Below is the Memorial window to John Ellis Taylor, which is in Stuntney Holy Cross Church.

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More General Newspaper Reports


We are glad to be able to contradict the rumour which was in circulation in Ely during the week-end that Pte. Harold Burns, 1st Cambs. Regiment, has been seriously wounded. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Burns, of Stuntney, and Mr. Burns informed our representative on Wednesday morning that the statement was utterly devoid of foundation.

This is not the first time that false reports have been spread broadcast concerning Ely soldiers, and the least people can do is to verify their information before passing it on to others. It was even said that Mr. Bums, who is schoolmaster at Stuntney, and has another son in the same regiment, had received letters acquainting him of the facts.


Pte. Charles Crick, of C Company, 1st Suffolks and Pte. J.R. Payton, 2nd Suffolks, who belong to Stuntney, have both been wounded.

Pte. H. A. Norden, of D Company, 1st Cambs. Regiment, who was recently wounded, is now at New Brighton.

Yet another Stuntney soldier, Gunner J. H. Venney, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, has been incapacitated. He was "gassed" and is now recovering at Gosport.

Corpl. John Taylor, of Eye Hill, a member of the Royal Bucks. Hussars, has been officially reported "missing" since the terrific action in Gallipoli on Aug. 21st. But there is reason to hope that he is alive, though wounded. Ely Standard 8 - 10 - 1915.


(Corpl. H. Burns had been listed as wounded in a previous report 14th May1915)

Corpl. Harold Burns has almost recovered from the wound in his left arm, but the arm is almost practically useless. It is hoped that under the special electrical treatment and massage which he is now receiving, he may make a speedy recovery.


Mr Herbert Rumsey, Parish Clerk of Stuntney Church, who enlisted in the 1st Suffolks early in January, has left for the front.

Cambridgeshire Times 11th June 1915


To the list of names at the Church door of those serving their King and country have been added Walter Edwards, (son of the Vicar's gardener who has been with him for 24 years): Archibald Creake, Cambs. Yeomanry; and Harry Saberton, 1st Suffolks. Herbert Rumsey and Charles Crick have both been in the trenches.

Cambridgeshire Times 9th July 1915


Pte. Herbert Rumsey, of Stuntney has been wounded in the head by a piece of shrapnel. We are glad to hear that he is doing well in a base hospital in France.


The following news of Stuntney men at the front, culled from the Ely Rural Deanery Magazine, will be read with interest: Herbert and Harold Burns have been in the firing line. They have lately had special lessons in bomb throwing. It was Harold who picked up Capt. Keenlyside, mortally wounded by stray shrapnel. They are now having a fortnight's rest. Arthur and Walter Fretwell have both been recently in the trenches.

Ely Standard 3rd Sept.1915

The following names have been added to the Roll of Honour: Ernest Henry King, Cyril Handley, Bert and Parker Mcgee and Charles Seymour. The inhabitants may well be proud of the long list which is now to be seen in the Church.

Cambridgeshire Times 10th December 1915


The scholars attending school have again shown their sympathy for wounded soldiers in a very practical manner. Taking advantage of the visit of Mr and Mrs Burns to their wounded son at Nottingham Hospital, a large collection of cigarettes was made, and these were distributed on Saturday to the soldier inmates of the "Cedars" V. A. D. Convalescent Hospital at Nottingham. Some parents kindly sent flowers and fruit. These were greatly appreciated.

Ely Standard 10th Nov. 1916

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Men from the Village who Fought in the Great War 1914-18

(Key: * = photo available, I = Commonwealth War Graves Commission Information Sheet Available)

       BurnsHerbert William Private 1156. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company Grenade Section. Wounded in 1916. 'Recovered'.
       BurnsThomas HaroldPrivate 1388. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company Grenade Section. - Corporal.
       CreekArchibaldPrivate. Suffolk Yeomanry. Epsom.
       CrickCharliePrivate 18745. 1st Suffolk Regiment C Company. 84 Brigade. Wounded.
       EdwardsWalterPrivate 1911. 2/6th Suffolk Regiment. Cycle Battalion.
       FretwellArthurPrivate 1444. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. C Company. 10 Platoon.
       FretwellErnestPrivate 1445. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. H Company. Transport Section.
       FretwellErnestPrivate 325182. Transport Section. France.
       FretwellSamuelPrivate 3743. 3/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. School Cookery. 4 Section. Colchester.
       FretwellHarold39992. Northamptonshire Regiment. J Company.
       FretwellThomasMachine Gun Corps. 5 Company. B Section.
       FretwellWalterPrivate 14113. 8th Suffolk Regiment. C Company. 10 Platoon.
       FitchArthur(From Prickwillow, Drove)
       FitchErnest(From Nornea)
*I     FitchJames WilliamPrivate 326418. 1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment. Died 26th September 1917. "Remembered with Honour" Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
*      HollidayHerbert JamesPrivate 100371. Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry), died 31st December 1917, aged 19. Remembered with honour, Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetry, Egypt. Lived in Stuntney. Son of Herbert Gibson Holiday and Annie Elizabeth Holliday of Gravel Farm, Stretham, Ely, Cambs.
       KingA.L.Corporal 9205. 2nd Suffolk Regiment.
       KingErnest Henry2nd Lieutenant. Indian Scottish Volunteers.
       KingWilliam A.Lance Corporal 9205. 3rd Suffolk Regiment.
       KingAlfredCapt. Canadian Infantry 221 Battalion.
*      LemonThomas Francis1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. (1st Battalion Norfolk Regiment?) Died 5-5-1915. Special Memorial, Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Zillebeke, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
*      MayleWilliam Arthur (James)1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. (7th Battalion Suffolk Regiment?) Died 9-8-1916 aged 38. Buried at Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme, France. Born in Stuntney.
       MayleCharliePrivate 2649. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company. 16 Section.
*I     McGeeBert Parker23227. 7th Suffolk. Reported missing killed in action 12th October 1916 aged 19. "Remembered with Honour" Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Son of Thomas and Sarah McGee of Stuntney.
*I     McGeeEdward ParkerPrivate 37064. 16th Bat. Northumberland Fusiliers died on 9th August 1917 aged 25. "Remembered with Honour" Adinkerke Military Cemetery, Furnes, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Husband of Sarah Jane Parker McGee of Alderforth Farm, Witchford, Ely, Cambridgeshire.
*I     McGeeJames Parker23158. 7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Reported missing - killed in action 12th October 1916, aged 21. "Remembered with Honour" Bancourt British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Son of Thomas and Sarah McGee of Stuntney.
*      McGeeThomas ParkerPrivate 2645. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company. Wounded 9th October 1916. Died 12th October, aged 23. Buried at Contay British Cemetery, Contay, Somme, France. Son of Thomas and Sarah McGee of Stuntney. Three of the four McGee brother, above, died on the same day.
       Mowbray-SmithRev: C.F.Was wounded in the head in 1916 while administering Morphia to a wounded man, who was killed by his side.
       MurfittFred17543. 3rd Suffolk Regiment.
       NordenWilliam JamesPrivate 2647. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company. 14 Section. Wounded.
*I     NordenHenry (Harry) ArthurPrivate 2648, 1st Battalion. Cambridgeshire Regiment who died in hospital in France on 17th September 1916, aged 23, of cerbro-spinal meningitis. "Remembered with Honour" Hem Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. Son of William James and Susan Norden of Stuntney, Ely.
*I     OsborneJohn CharlesPrivate 16887. 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment who died on 4th May 1915, aged 27. "Remembered with Honour" Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Son of Charles and Charlotte Osborne of 14 West Fen Road, Ely.
       PaytonJohn RobertPrivate 8817. 2nd Suffolk Regiment.
       PaytonThomasPrivate 3648. 3rd Cambridgeshire Regiment. B Company.
       RumseyHerbertPrivate 18194. (Parish Clerk.) 14th Platoon. D Company - Entrenching Battalion. 1st Suffolk Regiment. . Wounded.
*I     SabertonHenry W.Private 18257. 7th Battalion Suffolk Regiment who died on 8th November 1915 aged 35. "Remembered with Honour" Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. Son of Henry William and Sally Saberton of Witcham, Ely; husband of Ada Saberton, 65 Newnham Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire.
       SeymourCharles14665. Driver S. Anti-Aircraft Battalion.
       SeymourJosephPrivate 1554. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company. Provisional Battery, Sheringham.
       SeymourJosephRifleman 200651. 20th Division, 2nd Company.
       SmithWilliam CharlesPrivate 2634. 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment. D Company. 13 Section. At Front.
       SmithWilliam Charley21956. Machine Gun Section. 21st Company. B.E.F. (Finches Farm) who died aged 23.
*I     TaylorJohn EllisLance Corporal 1111. Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars who died on 21st August 1915 aged 21 at Gallipoli. "Remembered with Honour" on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. Son of Mrs. Ellis Taylor of Eye Hill, Soham, Cambridgeshire. Grandson to Cole Ambrose. There is a window in his memory in Stuntney Church.
       TaylorOwen S.2nd Lieutenant. 10th Suffolk Regiment. Grandson to Cole Ambrose.
       VennyJohn HaroldGunner 19896. R.G.A. He was gassed and discharged.
       WestHerbert17462. 1st Company. 3rd Battalion.
I      WestJohn WilliamLance Corporal 2631. 1st Battalion. Cambridgeshire Regiment who died on 1st July 1916 of a bullet wound, aged 22. "Remembered with Honour" at the Merville Communal Cemetery, Nord, France. Son of William and Mary West of Stuntney, Ely.
I      WilkinEdwardSergeant 8820. 2nd Bat. Suffolk Regiment who was wounded on 9th May 1916 and died on 11th May 1916, aged 22. "Remembered with Honour" at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France. Son of Mr & Mrs Wilkin of "Railway Carriage", Quanea Drove, off Stuntney Road, Ely.
       WilkinTomBombr. 47046. R.F.A. 135 Battalion.

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Some useful web site links

The following web sites may be of some use or interest.

FreeBMD - a free web site for searching for Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is not wholly up-to-date, but is good AND free!

Commonwealth War Graves Commision - lists all the known war graves and quite often more information on the soldiers.

Roll of Honour website, specifically for Cambridgeshire

There are, of course, many other websites that may be of use - these are just a few.

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