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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 17371
10th (Service) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby)
Who died on Monday 14th February 1916
Age 22

No Known Grave - Panel 39 & 41
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium

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

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium1

Bernard Greig Stark was born in 1893, near Macclesfield, Cheshire2, the only son of John & Jessie (née Porritt) Stark. By 1911, the family had come to live at 10 North Street, Beeston3, following a remarkable period, during which they had lost an inherited fortune. Both John and Jessie were the children of wealthy industrialists. John's father, Thomas Greig Stark (c1831-1891) was a calico printer and bleacher. In April 1891 the 20 year old John, was living with his father, a widower, in Tottington Higher End, Lancashire with the help of four servants4. In December of that year, Thomas died leaving at estate valued at over 94,0005; John inherited 80,000 of this. In 1892, John married Jessie Porritt6, the daughter of John Austin Porritt, a Lancashire woollen manufacturer who was then married to his second wife. John & Jessie bought Croxton Towers, Alderley Edge, Cheshire which they improved considerably, living there in style with as many as ten servants7. By 1905, their life of horse breeding and showing dogs - and gambling - had collapsed, they had sold Croxton Towers at a massive loss and they had been declared bankrupt8.

Nevertheless, by the time the family were living in Beeston, they are recorded as living on their own means with a domestic servant and Bernard was an articled clerk with a Chartered Accountant. Although no record has been found as to the specific date, it is likely that he enlisted early in the war with the 10th (Service) Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. After initial training, he arrived in France, probably when the Battalion first arrived there on 14th July 1915, taking up positions in the Ypres Salient where the Battalion was to see action over the next seven months.

On the 10th February 1916, the Battalion relieved the 7th Lincolnshire Regiment in four front-line trenches in a position known as The Bluff, three miles south-east of Ypres and immediately north of the canal. The first night passed quietly but, in the next morning (14th) an intermittent enemy bombardment of the trenches began, continuing until 3.30pm when their position came under extremely heavy bombardment which they found impossible to match. Then at 5.40 pm the first of several mines was exploded under the Battalion, destroying the trenches virtually completely. Shortly afterwards, German infantry attacked and despite efforts of retaliation by the British over the next two days, the prized position of The Bluff was lost and only regained a month later after heavy investment of men and strategy9.

The toll of the enemy attack of the operations of the 14th - 17th February exacted 1294 British casualties, including at least 26 from 10th Battalion. These lives were lost defending the muddy trenches that ran through and around what was effectively no more than a spoil-heap situated on the north bank of the Ypres-Comines Canal - although its forty-foot elevation served as a unique observation point in an otherwise flat landscape.

Private Bernard Greig Stark was among those killed in the action on the 14th February 1916. With no known grave, his name is listed on Panel 39 & 41 at Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory medals10.

The photograph of Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Altrincham Registration District in Q3 1893 (Ref 8a 166). He was baptised at Chorley, Cheshire on 8th October 1893 (Family History Library Films 1655855 and 1647369).
31911 Census for Beeston, Notts - Piece 20427 RD 429 SD3 ED2 Schedule 325.
41891 Census for Tottingham Higher End, Lancashire - Piece 3352 Folio 59.
5He died in Cairo, Eqypt on 12 December 1891. His will was proved at London Probate Registry on 2 February 1892 by James Parr (calico printer's salesman) and Peregrne Watson (Gentleman), valued at 94,310 3s 2d (Probate Calaendar)
6Their marriage was registered in Q3 1892 in Haslingden Registration District (Ref 8e 252)
71901 Census for Alderley Edge, Cheshire - Piece 3319 Folio 160. Also present was Edith Fenner, age 6, recorded as an adopted daughter.
8Details of the bankrupcy examination, heard at the Macclesfield Bankruptcy Court appeared in the Manchester Courier & Lancashire General Advertiser on 4th November 1905. He declared liabilities of 3,900 and assets of about 270.
9Description of the actions are based on the account in the Battalion War Diaries.
10WW1 Medal Rolls. His effects (5 11s 8d) and gratuity (5 10s) were paid to his father on 10 March 1919 (Army Register of Soldier's Effects)

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