|In Memory of|
EDWARD MARSHALL SINGLETON
1st Field Squadron Royal Engineers
Who died on Monday 4th November 1918 Age 34
Buried Grave 5289
Nottingham General Cemetery, Canning Circus, Nottingham
Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Memorial in Nottingham General Cemetery
Owing to the terrible loss of lives in the battles of 1914-1915 and the drying up of voluntary enlistment, conscription of men for military service finally
became a necessity in 1916.
The "Derby Scheme" was named after Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, in 1915 as Director-General of recruiting, who organised
this method of obtaining recruits for the Army on a voluntary basis. Men were invited to attest with an obligation to come if called up but only when the
supply of volunteers became insufficient and then according to age and marital status.
The failure of the "Derby Scheme" to recruit sufficient numbers of volunteers prompted the introduction of the Government's Compulsory
Service Act, which came into force on March 2nd 1916. This measure was first applied to single men between the ages of 18 to 41. The act was finally extended
to married men of the same age groups. Edward Marshall Singleton, aged 34, a married man, was therefore called to the 'Colours' in October 1916.
Driver Singleton, who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1884, lived with his wife Mabel (née Neal) and two children, Vincent (b. 1909, known as "Vinnie") and Margaret (b. 1917),
at 65 (now 69) Victory Road, Beeston, Notts. He was one of three sons of Herbert and Jane (née Marshall) Singleton of, 63 Holgate Road, Nottingham1; the
three brothers all served in the Great War2. Prior to enlisting in the army, he held the position of Manager for W.H. Smith & Sons, working at the
Beeston & Midland Station Nottingham bookstalls, having joined the company as a school-leaver and gaining steady promotion.3 The photograph, right,
shows the bookstall on Beeston Station, probably taken in Edward's time there.
After joining the Royal Engineers he was posted to Aldershot barracks on 1st November where he remained until being sent to France on 16th August 1917.
After serving just over two years, most of which was spent on the Western Front, he was allocated his first leave on 18th October 1918. He was spending this
well-earned rest with his wife and two young children when he was struck down with a mysterious illness, which resulted in his early death on 4th November. His
death, at Berridge Road, Hospital, was almost certainly due to the 'flu epidemic that had come to Britain in May 1918 and was to cause over 228,000 deaths
there over the next months.4. Amongst the troops on the Western Front, there had been an early fast-spreading outbreak in the Spring of 1918 (commonly known as "Spanish
Flu" - although there was no evidence that it originated in Spain). At first the condition was mild but it became increasingly fatal as the year progressed; inevitably
the crowded conditions associated with troop movements added to the dangers of contagion and it may well be that Edward caught the disease as he travelled home.
It was a particularly cruel blow to the family.
Driver Singleton is buried in Nottingham General Cemetery, Canning Circus, Nottingham. Margaret Singleton visited her father's grave before she died herself,
being taken there by the priest of the Catholic church on Foster Avenue, Beeston.
Driver Singleton kept a daily diary. Extracts, highlighting his various travels in France and Belgium, from his arrival at the Port of Havre in France,
until his untimely death in November 1918 are given here. As the original was written in pencil, the entries have been transcribed so that they can be read clearly.
The last two diary entries were made by nine year old Vinnie.
|August 17th||Arrived Havre en-route Rouen|
|October 16th||Sprained ankle excused duties|
|November 15th||Arrived Perrone|
|January 15th||Left Perrone with Sappers to Mons, in saddle 8hrs|
| ||Received parcel from Mabs|
|January 16th||Very cold|
|January 19th||Lost pipe|
|January 22nd||Went to pictures in Mons|
|January 23rd||Neddy Cast found pipe|
|January 31st||Bert's little daughter died|
|February 5th||Letter from Bert announcing Hilda's death|
|(Herbert Francis Singleton, elder brother of Edward, who was serving on the Western front at the time of this tragedy)|
|February 17th/19th||Air Raids|
|March 7th||Left Athies for Perrone|
|March 10th||Poisoned hand, saw doctor|
|March 16th||Parade in Marching Order|
|March 20th||German offensive severe bombardment commencing 8.53 "Standing To"|
|(This was the start of the German Spring Offensive, resulting in the withdrawal of the British 3rd & 5th Armies|
|March 23rd||Left Brie for Marchaiux, severe shrapnel shelling. Lt. Bayley killed. Left Marchaiux for Churchy|
|April 5th||Left Davins for Amiens. Basil killed by shell|
|(Mark Basil Singleton, younger brother of Edward, killed on the Somme)|
|May 3rd||To Estree, on experimental bridging|
|May 5th||Rogation Sunday went to communion|
|June 12th||Sports day|
|June 14th||C.R.E. Inspection (Colonel Evans). Sports continued|
|June 19th||Left for Villory|
|July 16th||Air Raid aircraft brought down by Machine Gun fire|
|July 17th||Remarkable storm hailstones as big as walnuts|
|July 18th/19th||Air Raid|
|July 30th||Left Gezaincourt for Beaurevoir Reviere|
|August 9th||Left for Cayeux 11am. Arrived 6pm. Bombed and shelled|
|August 10th||Air Raid|
|August 11th||Left for Rivery. Air Raid|
|September 1st||Mabs Birthday|
|October 3rd||Left Harnelet for Naury arrived 4pm. (Standing To). Air Raid and Shelling|
|October 4th||Air raid and Shelling|
|October 5th||Left Naury arrived Harnelet|
|October 6th||Left Harnelet for Naury and returned 7pm. Air Raid|
|October 8th||Shelled all day, lost several horses. Collins wounded. Air raid. Arrived Beauvrevoir|
|October 9th||Left Beauvrevoir with Echelon B on motor lorry for Moislains|
|October 10th||Left Moislains with Echelon B for Hamelet|
|October 13th||Left Harnelet for Tertry. Pay Up|
|October 26th||Left Tertry joined "Leave Train" at Brie 8am, arrived Boulogne 7pm. Stayed at Rest Camp|
|October 27th||Left Boulogne at 10am. Arrived at Folkestone 12.30pm, left at 12.45pm, arrived Victoria 4.30pm, left Kings Cross 5pm. Arrived home 9pm.|
|October 31st||MY FATHER TAKEN TO HOSPITAL|
|November 4th||MY FATHER DIED R.I.P.|
1Edward's father, Herbert Singleton was born in Chesterfield about 1852; his wife, Edward's mother, was born Jane Marshall in Gilderton, Yorkshire in about 1857. Herbert and Jane
had nine children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. Herbert worked for the Midland Railway, apparently moving with the job from time to time. Early in their marriage in 1882, Herbert and Jane
lived in Chesterfield before moving to Beeston in about 1890. At the time of the 1891 Census, Herbert was decribed as a Railway Inspector and they were living at 29 Mona St
Beeston, Notts (Census Piece 2671 Folio 63)but moved, soon afterwards, to Nottingham. At the time of the 1901 census, Herbert was decribed as a Railway Engineer and the family
was living at 15 Pinder House Road, Nottingham (Census Piece 3171 Folio 89). By the time of the 1911 census, Herbert and Jane were living with six of their family at 63 Holgate Road, Nottingham. Herbert
was then described as a bridge painter and Jane was self employed as a general dealer (Census Piece 20537 RD 430 SD2 ED24 Schedule 366)
2Edward's brothers were Herbert Francis (b. about 1887) and Mark Basil (b. 1894); each of their Service Records survive, although Edward's does not. Herbert worked as a wholesale druggist's
packer before enlisting in June 1916. He served in France as a Sapper with the Royal Engineers (10th Light Railway Operating Company) and was demobilised in January 1919. He was married to Mabel
(née Smith); at the time of Herbert's enlistment, they had two children, Hilda Mary (who died in January 1918) and Frederick Arthur and it appears that further children were born after the war.
Mark Basil was born in 1894 and worked as a warp hand; he enlisted in September 1914 and went to France in July 1915 with the 13th Battalian, Kings Royal Rifle Corps and became a Lance Corporal. He was killed
in action on 5 April 1918 and is buried in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery.
3In 1911 he was described as a Bookstall Clerk. He was then living with his wife and son at 12 Phyllis Grove, Long Eaton.(Census Piece 20827 RD 434 SD4 ED6 Schedule 197)
4The pandemic lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, killed over 50 million people worldwide (3% of the then population).
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