At St Peter’s Church in Frampton Cotterell in South Gloucestershire, there are the two war graves of brothers who died during the First World War. And one from the Second World War – Ronald George Richardson, a Driver in the Royal Army Service Corps who died on the 28th August 1944 age 32.
Of the brothers - Cecil Garnet Stiff served in the 44th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He died on May 6th 1917 age 31. His brother Horace Roy Stiff died on December 18th 1917 age 23 serving with the Royal Field Artillery. There were the sons of William Edmund and Cecilia Rebecca Stiff, of Frampton Cotterell.
Cecil died from wounds received at Vimy Ridge a month before – on April 13th 1917. He died at the 3rd Western General Hospital in Cardiff from gunshot wounds to his back and abdomen. A hero of Canada.
His younger brother Horace died from rheumatic fever at Brighton hospital just a few short months later.
Cecil’s CWGC memorial reads:
He loved Canada his adopted home and died for his native land
Garnet and Roy Stiff are named upon the substantial war memorial and on the Zion Chapel memorial tablet. Their graves in Frampton Cotterell churchyard mean they share a resting place in perpetuity near each other’s sides.
Ronald James Eacott
There is also a family memorial to another man who died during the Great War. And whose name appears on the war memorial – Ronald Eacott.
On the gravestone of his grandmother Elizabeth Foote who died aged 88 in 1920 and her daughter Georgina Eacott age 27 in 1896.
Also of Ronald James Eacott
Grandson of the above
Who made the great sacrifice October 1st 1917
Aged 22 years
Ronald was working as a railway porter when he enlisted in September 1914. He was almost immediately posted before being sent onto the Western Front with the Leicestershire Regiment as a Private in July 1915. He was made unpaid Lance Corporal in June 1917 and then paid in September 1917. He was granted leave in August/September 1917.
He was a Lance Corporal in the 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He was killed in action on the 1st October 1917 age 22. The 9th Leicesters had just been moved into the frontline on the edge of Polygon Wood. A hotbed of action and death. Within hours of them arriving, the German army attacked in the depth of night. Repeated heavy shelling, relentless and violent pounded them. Then wave upon wave of men attacked them. At first the Leicesters repelled them – the 8th and 9th. But soon, help was needed and called for. Officers started to be killed and wounded. Defensive arrangements had to be made as the action moved into the early morning.
It would be perhaps famous for the actions of those men but symbolised by the actions of one – his name Lieutenant Colonel Philip Eric Bent DSO. Seeing the line being breached, he picked up a reserve group and led them forward, counter-attacking to fight and push back. Shouting as he led them on:
Come on the Tigers
The Leicestershire Regiment famed for their tiger cap badges with a Bengal tiger upon it.
Lieutenant Colonel Philip Bent was shot as he led them into the fire of battle. His body like so many others that day were never recovered. His name like so many others appears on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
For his actions that day, the Canadian-born Tiger was awarded the Victoria Cross. A posthumous award. But much about the man and much about the men he led that day.
Our Ronald was killed that day, either in the defensive attacks or by the heavy, heavy shelling. Men were brought up in support that day and barrages were laid down at anticipated further attacks by the German army. Within 72 hours of arriving, the 9th Leicesters were pulled out of the frontline. They had lost many. 40 men died serving with the 9th Leicesters that day – including Lieutenant Colonel Bent VC DSO and Lance-Corporal Ronald James Eacott too. Tigers both.
The 8th and 9th were amalgamated that month as their companies were reduced in size due to casualties.
So who knew? That in a corner of a South Gloucestershire churchyard, a memorial to a man born of Gloucestershire but who died a hero of Leicestershire.
Ronald had no parents. They had both died. His family were his grandmother and his aunt. Mrs Emma Eleanor Roach lived at East View, Bagstone in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire. A teacher.
It was noted by his aunt Emma Eleanor Roach on his next of kin form that he had several half-siblings but that Emma had
Brought up deceased soldier from infancy and
who was to her as a son till his death
He was 5 feet 5 inches, he had dark brown hair and blue eyes. He was 22 years of age when he led his men into the fight and his last breath was taken there. Just over 100 years ago. His grandmother and aunt left a lasting legacy to their boy, here at Frampton Cotterell. Where 100 years later, people are asking the question – who was Ronald James Eacott? And what did he do? And his family must have missed him something special to place his name here.
His aunt lived until she was 88 – she died in 1954, a world away from the Great War. I bet she never forgot him.
Ronald has no known grave. He is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing on the Ypres Salient in Belgium. He shares the walls of this memorial with over 35,000 other men from Britain and New Zealand who died between August 1917 and November 1918.
His name lies on the war memorial at Frampton Cotterell. His name also appears on the rather wonderful memorial stained-glass window at Rangeworthy. Where the light shines through, and continues since 1920.
There is one more grave of note at Frampton Cotterell. That of John Morgan Codrington.
Sacred to the memory of John Morgan Codrington of this parish
Late of her majesty’s XIth Huzzars
Who fought in the Battles of Salamanca, Waterloo and Bhurtpoor
He died October 16th 1873
Aged 86 years
It seems that fighting folk have called home of this place for many years and probably for many years to come.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Frampton Cotterell in South Gloucestershire:
Lance Corporal Ronald Eacott
DoB 1895 Earthcott Green, South Gloucestershire DoD 1st Octber 1917 age 22 Belgium
15059 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment
Commemorated: Tyne Cot Memorial, Ypres, Belgium