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Barracks at Shorncliffe Camp
Barracks at Shorncliffe Camp
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Bevis, Herbert Edward

Herbert Edward Bevis
1914-1915 Star
1914/15 Star
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Corporal Herbert Edward Bevis (15283)
Killed in Action on Friday 21st June 1918, aged 21
Son of Walter & Matilda Bevis
Father's occupation: Railway Labourer / Platelayer
Born 20th July 1896 at Hurst
2 sisters, 2 brothers, position in family: 2
Infant School:Hurst Infants
Senior School:Hurst Boys
Admitted:Monday 11th April 1904
Age on admission:7
Left school:Monday 8th April 1907
Age at leaving:10
Local address: Rhodesia Villa, Lodge Road, Hurst
Pre-war occupation: Shop assistant, Ironmongery
Enlisted:Reading, Monday 26th October 1914
Regiment:Royal Berkshire
Battalion:2nd/4th Bn.
Went overseas:Sunday 30th May 1915
Died:Friday 21st June 1918
Cause:Killed in Action
Battalion at:Robecq
Commemorated:Grave at St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq

Herbert Bevis was born in Hurst on 20th July 1896 to Walter and Matilda Bevis. By the age of four Herbert was living in Broad Water, Hurst with his parents and two sisters. They shared his grandparents' house along with three of Herbert's cousins.

Robert Roberts lived just down the road and Herbert's neighbour, George Miles, also lost his life during the First World War but is not commemorated on the war memorial. Herbert attended Hurst Infants School and his father was a platelayer on the railway. At the age of seven Herbert became a pupil at Hurst Boys School and left when he was ten.

By 1911 Herbert had two younger brothers and the family were living in Rhodesia Villa, Lodge Road, next door to Robert Roberts. Two of his cousins and his grandfather shared the house with them. Herbert's parents stayed in Rhodesia Villa until they passed away in the mid 1950s, having been married for 60 years.

Herbert enlisted into the army in Reading on 26th October 1914 and was assigned to 5th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. By this time the volunteers of the newly formed 5th Battalion, including Arthur Hale, George Hayward and Ernest Lloyd, were training at Folkestone on the south coast. Initially they were stationed at Shorncliffe Barracks, but soon had to move out to make way for new arrivals. They then slept under canvas on St. Martin's Plain until a combination of bad weather, leaking tents and deep mud made soldiering impossible. The men were then billeted in various hotels around Folkestone and training continued to improve the men's fitness and discipline with square bashing, full-pack marching and shooting practice at Hythe Ranges.

Towards the end of February 1915 the Battalion transferred to Aldershot to join up with the rest of 12th (Eastern) Division, becoming part of 35th Brigade. After further training 5th Battalion was ready for action and Herbert sailed for France on 30th May 1915, arriving in Boulogne the next day. The Battalion moved on to Armentieres and then to Ploegsteert, just across the border in Belgium. Ploegsteert was a comparatively quiet part of the front line where new troops were acclimatised to the rigours of trench warfare and Herbert spent three months in this sector. At first 5th Battalion were fortunate to find themselves under instruction from 1st/4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Herbert learnt the daily routines of life at the front and there was time to meet up with friends in the ten days before 1st/4th Battalion was moved to another sector.

As the war progressed, 5th Battalion fought with distinction at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 and the Battle of Arras in April 1917. In between these actions the Battalion spent many months rotating between front line, support and reserve. In September 1917 the Battalion was on the front line at Monchy when Herbert was wounded. After recovering he joined 6th Battalion, perhaps after their final action during the Battle of Poelcappelle in early October 1917.

6th Battalion was disbanded in February 1918, with most of the men going to other Battalions within the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Herbert joined 2nd/4th Battalion which was in the front line on the Somme, opposite Saint Quentin. They were part of the resistance to the German Spring Offensive of 21st March 1918, losing their CO, Lt Col Dimmer VC MC on the 22nd March. For the next few days they fought a valiant retreat until they were relieved on 31st March by the Australian Infantry.

2nd/4th Battalion withdrew to billets at Gentelles and then transferred to Méricourt two days later. They spent the next week training before moving up to the front at St. Venant. They were then ordered to take up a defensive line at Robecq and marched there across open country to avoid a burning ammunition dump. The Battalion spent ten weeks at Robecq and although it was a relatively quiet period, they still suffered sporadic shelling and exchanged raids with the enemy.

On 14th June they had a four days relief in billets at La Pierriere before returning to their defensive positions at Robecq. Three days later Herbert Bevis was killed in action. The Battalion War Diary does not record the event and describes the 19th and 20th June as quiet days. Its entry for the day of Herbert's death reads:

Friday 21st June 1918France, Robecq

Inter Coy relief. Our artillery and aircraft very active. Enemy artillery again much below normal.

Herbert was 21 years old and had been in France for just over two years. He now rests in the St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, near to where he fell.


Herbert Bevis at St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq
St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq
Absent from the body
present with the Lord

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon