Just outside Gloucester in a quiet village called Tibberton on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I came across Holy Trinity Church. A pretty church seemingly next to a grand estate. Birdsong and lawnmowers were the only noises which distracted me. I strode on looking for more farewells to the fallen.
Inside the church in cool dim light, the font resonated. Established and commemorated to those who returned from the Great War 1914-1920. It sits aside the written and typed Roll of Honour and the Tibberton War Memorial plaque inscribed with the names of nine men who did not return. There are two brothers named Jennings – Albert and John.
Outside in the churchyard, on their sister Lucy’s grave, a memorial to a brother on each side. Each man who fell in the Great War. Each man memorialised with no known grave. One brother fighting with the Glosters and the other fighting with the Australians. Lucy had died in 1913. Her older brothers would die just a few year later.
Albert Lawrence Jennings
In June 1918, Mrs Isabella Jennings placed this memorial inside Tibberton church to remember her husband Albert Lawrence Jennings. They had been married less than two months when he was killed on the Western Front in August 1917.
In proud and loving memory
Of my dear husband
Albert Lawrence Jennings,
1st/5th Gloucestershire Regiment killed in action at Ypres
August 16th 1917, aged 33 years
“Greater love hath no man than this that
A man lay down his life for his friends”
St John 15:13
Isabella, Albert’s wife received a letter from Second Lieutenant Cruickshank which said of her husband:
He was well liked by everyone and was an excellent and stout-hearted fellow, and could always be relied upon to do his duty thoroughly and well…His loss is deeply felt by the men and myself.”
Gloucestershire Chronicle 1st September 1917 page 3
Albert’s parents lived at Morse’s Farm in Tibberton. He enlisted in September 1914 with a territorial regiment – the 1st/5th Gloucestershire Regiment, arriving in France in March 1915 and spent two and a half years in France. He was the younger brother to John. He was on leave before his death when he got married in Tibberton. He worked before the war at Healey’s Motor and Wagon Works.
The 1st/5th Gloucestershire Regiment were deployed on the 15th August 1917 for an advance around Ypres. They readied themselves overnight and then at 4:45 am near St Julien, Ypres, the battalion advanced. They gained some early successes but were held up by heavy machine gunfire. The barrage left them behind and they dug in. Casualties were heavy. Enemy snipers peppered their positions, killing many. Corporal Albert Jennings was one of those whose lives ended that day.
Albert’s body was never recovered. His name is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing on the Ypres Salient in Belgium.
His parents placed a memorial to Albert on the grave of his sister:
In loving memory
Corporal 1st/5th Gloucestershire Regiment
Born September 7th 1883
Killed in action at Ypres
August 16th 1917
John Edward Jennings
John was in Australia when the war broke out. Working as a labourer in Western Australia, he enlisted at Blackboy Hill, WA in early 1916 and finally got to France in December 1916. He had originally enlisted with a Cyclist Battalion with the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) but was transferred at Etaples training camp to the 16th Battalion AIF. He was promoted like his brother Albert to Corporal in the field.
The 16th Battalion had been at Gallipoli and then Egypt before it arrived on the Western Front in 1916. They were at Pozieres on the Somme, on the Hindenburg Line and at Bullecourt. They took part in the major offensive at Amiens on August 8th 1918. Known as a black day for the German army, it was also the blackest of days for the Jennings family – John died that day. The 16th Battalion were in the Morcourt Valley as the fog lifted on the 8th. Successes were gained. In miles and kilometres. But men too, lost on both sides. The 16th Battalion lost men as heavy German shellfire tumbled down on them from overhead.
No sign of John was found past that day. His name, just like his little brother lies on a memorial to the missing of the Great War – this time that of Villers-Bretonneux on the Somme in France. His brother had already been dead a year. The 16th were at Passchendaele in 1917; maybe the brothers met before Albert lost his life. Maybe.
John's name was added to his sister's grave, along side his younger brother Albert:
16th Battalion A.I.F.
Born April 30th 1878
Killed in action at Hamel
In France August 8th 1918
Thomas and Hannah Jennings lived long at Tibberton. Their gravestone marks their passing in the 1930s and 1940s in their 80s and 90s. Not far from the grave of their daughter and the memorials to their two sons who never returned from war. One a Gloster boy, one an Anzac.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Tibberton in Gloucestershire:
Corporal Albert Lawrence Jennings
DoB 7th September 1883 DoD 16th August 1917 age 33
2738TF and 240741 1st/5th Gloucestershire Regiment
Commemorated: Tyne Cot Memorial, Flanders, Belgium
Corporal John Edward Jennings
DoB 30th April 1878 DoD 8th August 1918 age 40
5123 16th Battalion Australian Imperial Force
Commemorated: Villers Bretonneux Memorial, Somme, France