PRIVATE FRANCIS JOHN TIDMARSH

Died 30th October 1917
No. 37590 of the Bedfordshire Regiment, 4th Battalion.
Born: Tetsworth, Oxfordshire
Resided: Woburn Sands
Enlisted: 10th - 15th February, 1917 at Luton

Francis was the son of George and Mary, of Sutton Lodge, Cookham, Bucks. He was married to Gladys Winifred Phipps, and they had a son, Francis Jerrold, born on 18th April 1917. They lived on Aspley Hill, but the army also had an address in Studhampton, Wallingford, Berkshire.

The 4th Battalion was rebuilt over the summer of 1917, after casualties taken during the Battle of Arras in April 1917, which is when Francis would have arrived with them. He fell during the Third Battle of Ypres.

Bucks Standard, 24th November, 1917 "Mrs Tidmarsh of Aspley Hill, Woburn Sands has received from the War Office news that her husband Pte. Francis Tidmarsh was wounded in action in France on 30th ultimo."

The 4th Bedfords had gone to France in July 1916. They were involved in the 2nd Battle of Passchendale at this time. They were attacking along a 600 yard front at Paddybeck, to the west of Westroosebeck, with the Artists Rifles and the 7th Fusileers. It began at 5.50am, but the Germans dropped a counter barrage, 100 yards behind where the Allies barrage was falling, and caught all the advancing troops out in "No Mans Land". There were severe casualties due to the bombardment, knee-deep mud and sniper fire. Headquarters lost all contact with the front lines for 8 hours. In all, 54 men were killed, 155 wounded and 23 were left missing. Only 7 Officers returned to camp on 31st. Edgar Massey was lost in the same action.

The Battalion publication, ‘The Wasp’ records: "On the 27th the Battalion marched to an old trench near Cheddar Villa in support of the 188th Brigade, but the next day the Brigade moved up and took over the front line in front of Westroosebeek; the 1st Artists on the right, 7th Royal Fusiliers on the left, and the 4th Bedfordshire’s in support at Cheddar Villa and Irish Farm. The next day preparations for the attack were made which was fixed for the 30th, the Battalion moving to its assembly position, between the 1st Artists and the 7th Royal Fusiliers, on a front of 600 yards behind the front line. The day was fine and the troops in excellent spirits, so the prospects appeared good. The Brigade attacked, at 5.50 am on the 30th, the position about Paddybeek to the west of Westroosebeck. The going was very bad; men were up to their knees in mud in many cases.

The enemy barrage came right down on the troops before they could move, and casualties were very heavy, even the men who were not caught in the barrage could not move, and were sniped while sticking in the mud. Little headway was made. The Brigade on the right, a Canadian Brigade, made slightly more progress, but their casualties were so heavy that they had to be reinforced by companies from the reserve of the 63rd Division, or they could not have held on.”

He is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. Listed on the Woburn Sands Memorial. His army service papers have not survived.


Some details kindly provided by Steve Fuller, "The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War", at www.bedfordregiment.org.uk