The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) established that the last recognised First World War casualties would be those people who died on the 31st August 1921, almost three years after the guns fell silent. It is the recurring tragedy of war that the pain, suffering and death does not end with the last bullet fired. The Commission had to draw a line in the sand, and chose this date.
As the ride takes place on this sad 100th Anniversary, we decided that we should try to visit and pay our respects to at least one of these, the last of The Fallen of the First World War. Research at the CWGC discovers there are twenty-five casualties listed on the 31st August 1921 – of whom 12 are in the UK. The closest is S/13280 Rifleman William Walker Thwaites, of the 6th Reserve Bn. Rifle Brigade, and we will visit his grave in exactly 15 weeks’ time. That will be the 4th September, so regrettably we shall be a few days late.
We don’t know much about him, the information below is taken from the CWGC website. On this day we will remember William at his grave, along with the 24 others whose deaths on that day represent one version of the last day of the war. Also remembered will be the 1,075,508 British and Empire casualties of the First World War, and all others who died for their country before and since.
We will remember too, the people for whom we are riding and fundraising – the Wounded, Injured and Sick and their families. The money raised by this event will go to Help for Heroes to improve their lives.
We will remember them.
The 12 who died on 31/08/1921 and are buried in the UK are listed below. If you are interested further then this blog by one of our admins has been running since August 2014, listing the casualties of every single day of the First World War: https://firstworldwaronthisday.blogspot.com/. The links at the end of listing will take you to the CWGC’s online record for the man.
S/13280 Rifleman William Walker Thwaites, 6th Reserve Bn. Rifle Brigade Aged 26
Buried at SUNDERLAND (BISHOPWEARMOUTH) CEMETERY
Husband of Elizabeth Thwaites, of 9, John St., Southwick, Sunderland. William Walker Thwaites
53049 Private Charles John Bond, 8th Bn. Essex Regiment Aged 21
Buried at SWINDON (RADNOR STREET) CEMETERY Son of Sarah E. Wild (formerly Bond), of 401, Ferndale Rd., Swindon, and the late William Bond. Charles John Bond
25154 Private Allan Desborough, 3rd Bn. Border Regiment, Labour Corps Age unknown
Buried at CARLISLE (DALSTON ROAD) CEMETERY Son of Jane Desborough, of 80, South St., Carlisle, and the late John Desborough. Allan Desborough
302179 Private Alfred Albert Hammond, Labour Corps Aged 51
Buried at NORTHFLEET CEMETERY Son of William and Sarah Hammond; husband of Emily Emma Hammond, of 74, Station St., Northfleet. Alfred Albert Hammond
4905070 Private John Robert Hayward, 2nd Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment Aged 20
Buried at SHEFFIELD (BURNGREAVE) CEMETERY Son of Mr. and Mrs. S. Hayward, of Walkley, Sheffield. John Robert Hayward
42511 Private William Henry Jones, 2nd Bn. The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) Aged 35
Buried at ASHTON-IN-MAKERFIELD (ST. THOMAS) CHURCHYARD Son of Ellis Hugh and Margaret Jones, of 12, Flora St., Ashton-in-Makerfield. William Henry Jones
19550 Private Charles Frederick Knaggs, 3rd Bn. Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment) Aged 39
Buried at MIDDLESBROUGH (LINTHORPE) CEMETERY Husband of Alice M. W. Knaggs, of 5, Lamport St., Newport Rd., Middlesbrough. Charles Frederick Knaggs
27748 Private Albert Search, 3rd Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment Aged 29
Buried at BURFORD (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST) CHURCHYARD Son of William and Fanny Search, of Lawrence Lane, Burford. Albert Search
124510 Private 2nd Class Thomas Shepherd, Royal Air Force Age unknown
Buried at BACUP (FAIRWELL) CEMETERY. Thomas Shepherd
1418783 Gunner M Tierney, 34th Bty. 9th Bde. Royal Garrison Artillery Aged 34
Buried at BORDON MILITARY CEMETERY Husband of Maria Tierney, of 114, St. Martin’s Cottages, Silvester St., Liverpool. M Tierney
557467 Rifleman John Welsh, 16th Bn. London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) Aged 21
Buried at EAST FINCHLEY CEMETERY AND ST. MARYLEBONE CREMATORIUM Son of Mrs. Eliza Welsh, of 4, Ranston St., Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London. John Welsh
204531 Private W White, 12th Bn. The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) Age unknown
Buried at SUNNINGDALE (HOLY TRINITY) CHURCHYARD. W White