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War Memorials

In Memory of
Lance Corporal 15655
2 Coy 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards
Who Died of Wounds on Thursday, 28th March 1918
Age 21

Plot V Row D Grave 5
St Hilaire Cemetery, Frevent, Pas de Calais, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
St Hilaire Cemetery

St Hilaire Cemetery, Frevent, Pas de Calais, France1

Evalyn (sometimes Evelyn) Arthur Jackson was born in Cropwell Butler, Notts in 1896 2, the fourth child, third son of Thomas (b. c1860, Blidworth, Notts) and Jane Anderson Jackson (b. c1863, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts, née Shore). As a policeman, Thomas moved around Nottinghamshire, with his family, from time to time. In 1901 the family, then including four children, was living at 2 Windsor Street, Beeston3. By 1911, the family had moved to Ruddington, Nottinghamshire4. By this time, Thomas had been promoted to police sergeant and the 14-year-old Evelyn had begun work as a clerk with the Great Central Railway.

As Evalyn's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted with the Coldstream Guards, but it is believed to have been sometime in March 19155. He become part of 1st Battalion which had been stationed at Aldershot when war broke out on 4 August, part of 1st (Guards) Brigade of 1st Division and had left for France on 13 August as part of the British Expeditionary Force, taking part in many of the early actions alongside two other Coldstream battalions, including Mons, the Marne, and the Aisne before being committed to the defence of Ypres where, on 31st October 1914, 1st Battalion took such heavy casualties at the Battle of Gheluvelt that it almost ceased to exist. In the autumn of 1915, the battalion took part in the Battle of Loos, a major attack by British and French units which sought to restore movement in a war that had become bogged down. The attacks were a failure and British losses were extremely high. Having completed his training, Evalyn joined the depleted battalion in France on 5th October 1915. By this date the battalion had been transferred to 2nd (Guards) Brigade in the same Division.6.

In the summer of 1916, the battalion, including both Jackson brothers, took part in the Battle of the Somme which commenced disastrously on July 1st with great loss of life. The first phase, which continued for almost two weeks, was followed by its involvement in the equally disastrous Battle of Bazentin Ridge and Battle of Pozieres. It was on the first day of the subsequent Battle of Flers–Courcelette, alongside tanks which were being used for the first time. As it advanced, behind a creeping barrage, the battalion, as part of 2nd Guards Division, faced heavy machine-gun fire but managed to reach and destroy the enemy positions. Evalyn's brother Cecil was amongst the many killed in this battle7.

The battalion, still including Evalyn, continued to fight through the continuing Somme battles throughout most of 1916 and, in 1917, it saw action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and experienced the horrors of the various phases of the Second Battle of Passchendaele. At some point, Private Jackson was promoted to Lance Corporal.

At the beginning of March 1918, enemy positions had been strangely quite and there was a general belief that a major German attack was to be expected at any time Then, on 21st March, the German Army launched its Spring Offensive from the Hindenburg Line with the objective of ending the war before American troops and resources could tilt the balance towards the Allies. The objective was to smash through the Allied lines, push the British forces into the sea and to cut off their supply lines by seizing the ports. When that attack began, 1st Battalion was in reserve, billeted in Arras and was ordered to move to Mercatel to defend the line there. The next day, it was moved to Boiry-Becquerelle, directly opposite the enemy, facing much shelling. Over the next three days the battalion was joined by various units and they continuously adjusted their positions to defend the front. On the 25th, enemy shelling increased and there were several casualties. Finding themselves exposed, they were ordered to retreat overnight to a line about 1000 yards back. Within two hours, the enemy had moved up the new line and exchanges continued with 2 men killed and 8 wounded before the battalion was relieved on the 26th8. It seems likely that one of those wounded on that day was Lance Corporal Jackson.

Wounded men would have made their way or been taken, first to an aid post close behind the line and then taken by field ambulance to a Casualty Clearing Centre. Once identified as seriously wounded and needing advanced treatment, they would have been evacuated to a Hospital, often by rail on an ambulance train. In this case, as Lance Corporal Jackson is known to have been taken to No 6 Stationary Hospital at Frevent, a journey of about 50 kilometers, the journey may have been by road.10. Sadly, despite every effort, he died on 28 March.

Lance Corporal Jackson is buried in St Hilaire Cemetery at Frevent in the Pas de Calais Region of France. From its position, Frevent was a place of some importance on the lines of communication during the First World War. The 43rd Casualty Clearing Station was posted there from April to June 1916, part of the Lucknow Casualty Clearing Station in June, the 6th Stationary Hospital from June 1916 to the end of August 1918, and the 3rd Canadian, 19th and 43rd Casualty Clearing Stations in the summer of 1918. The great majority of the burials in the cemetery were carried out from these hospitals. St. Hilaire Cemetery Extension was used from March to August 1918 and after the Armistice, one grave of 1915 was brought in from Dennebroeucq. During the Second World War, the greater part of Frevent was destroyed by bombing. An aerial torpedo fell in the cemetery, which is near the railway line, damaging some of the graves, but the Commonwealth plot was not affected. The cemetery now contains 210 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. There are also 12 Second World War burials, all dating from late May - early June 1940 and the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force ahead of the German advance. The cemetery extension contains 304 First World War burials9.

Lance Corporal Jackson was posthumously awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10. In his 'Soldiers Will' he left his belongings to his father and, consequently, he was paid his financial effects of £12 2s 3d on 8 June 1918 and his War Gratuity of £13 10s on 18 December 191911. By this time, Thomas had retired from the police service and had settled in Beeston with his wife and daughter, first at 5 Collin Street then 45 Denison Street and, finally, 'Homeland', 91 Imperial Road12. Thomas died in 1929, his wife in 1942 and his daughter in 1962. All three are buried together in Beeston Cemetery, where their memorial also remembers Evalyn Arthur and his brother Cecil, who died in action in France in 1916.

1The photograph of the St Hilaire Cemetery and the gravestone kindly provided by Simon of the Webmatters website. (www.webmatters.net). The CQGC site does not have an image of this cemetery. Most images on the web which purport to be of the cemetery are in fact of the extension.
2His birth was registered (as 'Evalyn Arthur Jackson') in Bingham Registration District (of which Cropwell Butler was part) in Q3/1896 (Ref 7b 461)
3Beeston, Notts, 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 143
4Ruddington, Notts, 1911 Census, 7 Station Road, Ruddington - Piece 20482 RD429 SD7 ED2 Schedule 27
Evalyn's siblings were Alica (or Celia) Shore Jackson (b. c1884), Thomas (b. c1887), Cecil Samuel (1890-1916) and Douglas Reginald (1905-1971).
5This date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity, and is supported by his service number. It follows his older brother Cecil's enlistment in the previous month. It is possible that records for Evalyn survive in the Coldstream Guards Archives, which have not been accessed.
6Details of the battalion deployment up to the end of 1917 is based on its history on the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/242/coldstream-guards/)
7Cecil Samuel Jackson was amongst the missing on 15th September 1916 and later assumed to have died. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
8This account of the battalion's deployment during March 1918 is based on its war diary (available at ancestry.com).
9This description of the St Hilaire Cemetery is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
10Details from Evalyn's Medal Card and Medal Rolls - available on ancestry.com. The card also confirms his embarkation date of 5 October 1915.
11Details of the payments are from the "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
12His parents are recorded at the Denison Street address in Evalyn's Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial records and the Imperial Road address in his brothers CWGC record. The Collin Street address was given when Thomas applied for Administration of Evelyn's estate in 1918. His widowed mother and sister Celia were still living at 91 Imperial Road at the time of the Registration in September 1939 and Celia continued to live there up to her death in 1962.

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