Home    Topics    Memorials    Miscellany    Transcripts    References    Family History    Glossary    Latest    Beeston Blog    About us          Site Search   

Crimean WarBoer WarWorld WarsRoll of HonourBoys Brigade in WW1
War Memorials

In Memory of
General List - British Military Mission, Russia
Who died on Friday, 11th Febuary 1916
Aged 47

Buried in Petrograd, Russia
Stone 11 - Archangel Memorial, Russian Federation

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Archangel Memorial

Archangel Memorial, Russian Federation1

Maurice Charles Mansfield was born in Spondon, Derbyshire in 18682, the eldest of six children of Joseph and Eliza Ann (née Antill) Mansfield. Joseph, who was born in Derby in 1843, had joined the Midland Railway as a clerk after leaving school and was to rise to a senior level in its goods department. Eliza Antill, whom he had married at Ockbrook Church, Derbyshire in July 1867, was the sister of Frank Dalby Antill (1862-1926) who was also employed in a managerial position with the Midland Railway. It was a background that was to shape the future of their eldest son, Maurice Charles Mansfield.

In 1871 the family, now including two children was living in Ockbrook with Joseph still working locally as a railway clerk3. Also with the family was Eliza's 11-year-old sister Elizabeth Sarah Antill, who was to stay with the generations of the family for the rest of her life. Around the middle of the next decade the family moved to live near Bradford, Yorkshire where Joseph had been appointed Agent for the railway. By then the family had extended to four children with Maurice as a 12-year-old schoolboy4. By 1888, Joseph had been appointed railway goods manager in the Manchester area and the family had moved to live in Stretford. By then, the family was complete with five of their six children still alive. Significantly. Maurice, now aged 22, was working as a civil engineer, probably with the railway.5. Sadly, in 1899, Eliza Ann died there, aged only 54.

During the next decade and into the early years of the next, Maurice traveled widely as a railway civil engineer, often in remote parts of the world, notably in West Africa and the interior of China6. During that time, his father, Joseph, retired and, by 1911, he was living at Trent House, 1 Meadow Road, next to the station in Beeston7. Also living there were his already widowed daughter, Marion Maud Hollins and her daughter Mary Evelyn8 as well as Joseph's sister-in-law Elizabeth Sarah. Joseph died in July 1911, age 679.

In the years leading up to the outbreak of war in August 1914, Maurice's railway work had taken him to Siberia and the Caucasus and he undoubtedly gained experience of these areas which would have been valuable to the Allies. Although his age - about 46 - would have been beyond the upper limit for volunteers, it seems that he was accepted into the General List because of his specialist experience and knowledge. In December 1914, he was posted to Russia, attached to the British Military Mission there. Russia, of course, had entered the war on the side of the Allies in accordance with the terms of the Triple Entente between Great Britain, France and Russia, that had been agreed in 1907. This British Military Mission appears to have provided an coordinating and support role with the Russians, alongside similar French and Italian Military Missions. Maurice's specialist knowledge of railway in the area would have provided vital input with the maintenance of supply lines. In May 1915, he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant10.

Lieutenant Mansfield died on 11 February 1916, in Petrograd11, of causes and in circumstances that not currently known. However, the attendees at his funeral, held on the 14th at the local Anglican Church, are a clear indication of the respect and standing in which he was held. They including the Assistant Minister of War, in the unavoidable absence of the Minister of War himself, and a number of high-ranking Army officers as well as the Chiefs of the British, French and Italian Military Missions12. Again, although we have no record, it is likely that he was buried in the Anglican Cemetery there. He is also remembered on the Archangel Memorial, Russian Federation which commemorates 219 British officers and men who died in Russia, mainly but not exclusively during the north Russian campaign in the final years of the 1st World War and beyond, and whose graves are not known13.

Lieutenant Mansfield was posthumously awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1914-15 Star14. His estate, initially valued at 516 10s 11d was proved at Nottingham on 29 December 1918 by his sister, Marion Maud Hollins. Remarkably and inexplicably, the value of his estate was resworn in July 1928 at 10,516 10s 11d15.

Maurice's sister, Marion Hollins, and his aunt, Elizabeth Antill, continued to live at Trent House up to Marion's death in July 1938, after which Elizabeth moved to Belper to keep house for Wilfred Mansfield who was working there as the manager of a pickle factory, She died in 1943 in Nottingham, aged 84. Mary Evelyn Hollins, Marion's daughter, married the Reverend Christopher James Gurnhill at Beeston Parish Church on 16 October 1923. He was the son of Rev James Gurnhill, Vicar of East Stockwith, Lincolnshire and later Clerk and Canon of Lincoln Cathedral. Reverend Christopher Gurnhill later became Vicar of a parish just south of Peterborough and, finally, of Clevedon in Avon. Mary Evelyn died there in 1976, followed by her husband in 198116.

1The photograph of the Archangel memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org.
2His birth was registered in Spondon Registration District in Q2/1868 (Ref 7b 365). He was baptised at Ockbrook Parish Church, Derbyshire on 12 July 1868.
31871 Census - Ockbrook, Derbyshire: Piece 3778 Folio 7-8.
41881 Census - Manningham, Bradford, Yorkshire: Piece 4464 Folio 110 - 26 Fairfield Road.
51991 Census - Stretford, Lancashire: Piece 3159 Folio 206 - 589 Chester Road.
Maurice's living siblings were then Edith Mary (1870-1901), Marion Maud (1871-1938), Wilfred Antill (1881-1943) and Arthur Norman (1887-1966). A brother, Percy Frank, born in 1876, had died in 1890.
6This outline of his career is derived from a brief obituary published in the Derbyshire Advertiser on 16 February 1916.
71911 Census - Beeston, Notts: Piece 20429 RD429 SD3 ED4 Sched 265.
8Marion Maud Mansfield had married William Henry Hollins, a cotton spinner, on 31 December 1895 at Stretford Parish Church, Lancashire. Their daughter, Mary Evelyn Sadly, was born on 6 November 1896. Sadly, William Henry died on 22 May 1897.
9Joseph died on 9 July 1911. Administration of his estate, valued at 1,841 18s 7d, was granted to Maurice Charles Mansfield, at Nottingham Probate Registry on 8 January 1912.
10London Gazette - 25 May 1915
11Petrograd had been 'Saint Petersburg' up to 1 September 1914. It was then renamed because of German elements in its name. It has now reverted to its original name.
12The date of his death and details of his funeral are from an account in the Derbyshire Advertiser of 16 February 1916.
13More details of the memorial may be seen on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
14Details from his Medal Card, available on ancestry.com. His original entry date into Russia (Dec 1914) is also from this source.
15Details of the Administration of his estate are from the Probate Calendar, available at ancestry.com and elsewhere.
16These family details are derived from standard genealogical sources.

Return to Top of Page