Walton St Mary Clevedon North Somerset

In a suburb of Clevedon on the coast of Somerset lies the parish church of St Mary’s in Walton-in-Gordano. Inside the church lies a splendid bronze war memorial plaque. Eight men who died in the Great War. Eight regimental insignia.

In and around the church at Walton lies memorials to those who fell in the war.

Lewis Hopkins

Lewis was a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry when he was killed on September 26th 1915. He was killed instantaneously when he was shot in frontline trenches at the Battle of Loos. He was acting Lieutenant. He had been working in Malay on the rubber plantations before the war. He enlisted in September 1914.

His father was a retired army major who had been a surgeon in the British Army. He attended the Royal Naval School in Mottingham, Kent.

The 8th Somerset Light Infantry only arrived in Le Havre, France on the 9th September 1915 when they were thrust into the attack at Hill 70 just a couple of weeks later. In that attack on the 25th/26th September 1915, the battalion lost heavy casualties – the war diary records 15 officers, 271 other ranks, 13 mules and 1 horse. It was also noted that the behaviour of Lieutenant Hopkins in terms of coolness and bravery was an example to his men. They had been under heavy fire by shell, snipers and counter attacks from the nearby wood. Officers and men struggled under great pressure to keep to their line near the Lens-Hulloch road.

To the glory of God
Of your charity pray for the soul of
Lewis Hopkins
Lieut. 8th Batt. Somerset Light Infantry
Killed in action in France
September 26th 1915, aged 29

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Loos Memorial along with over 200,000 others who were killed in this area from the Battle of Loos in 1915 until the end of the war.

His sister was executor of his will and his last address was given in Malaysia or the Malay States – Teluk Anson, Perak, F.M.S.. It seems likely that either his older brother Rees or his sister Katherine placed the memorial plaque inside the church at Clevedon, both had been living there. His sister became a nun and she was listed as his next of kin at the House of Prayer in Burnham, Buckinghamshire.

Robert William Laurence Edginton

Not far from the memorial for Lewis Hopkins is that of Robert Walter Laurence Edginton. Another Lieutenant, but this one younger still. He died three months before the other. He was the son of Robert William and Elizabeth Baker Edginton of "Bayfield," Walton St. Mary at Clevedon. He was baptised in Edgbaston, Birmingham. His father was a doctor.

He was educated at St Andrew’s College, Bradfield, Reading. He was a medical student before the war at Birmingham University. He got to France in March 1915. He was reported for a brave deed in May 1915 when under heavy fire he left the trenches with a sandbag to help a wounded member of his company.

He was killed on the same day as his Captain – J. Francis who was shot dead by a German sniper. A popular commander of D Company of the 1st/5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He worked with the family firm of electroplaters called Deakin and Francis. The two men were Birmingham Territorial officers from the Thorp Street Drill Hall. Captain Francis was a member of Moseley Rugby Club.

Robert lived on Portland Road in Edgbaston, Birmingham. When Captain Francis was killed, he succeeded command of the Scouts of the 5th Battalion. Robert was then killed within hours of his Captain probably by the very same sniper. They were in trenches near Cassel, not far from Plogsteert.

He was originally buried at Rosenberg Chateau Cemetery and then he was moved to Berks Extension Cemetery in 1930 when the land could not be guaranteed as being given in perpetuity.

His parents retired to Clevedon where this memorial to their only son was placed in this church. It reads:

In loving memory of
Lieut. Robert Walter Laurence Edginton
5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regt
Only of Robert and Elizabeth Edginton
Who fell in the service of his country
In Flanders on June 3rd 1915
Aged 19 years
“Blessed are the pure in heart
For they shall see God”

Robert is remembered on the Roll of Honour at St Augustine’s Church in Edgbaston in Birmingham.

Francis William John Smith

And in affectionate memory of
Sapper Francis William John Smith
2nd Wessex Royal Engineers, and of this parish, who died
In hospital in Boulogne, France on May 14th A.D. 1915
From wounds received whilst carrying a message under
Heavy fire during the Great War. - Aged 20 years
This tablet is erected by the parishioners
Who greatly valued the services he rendered to this
Church for ten years, both as a member of the choir
And server at the altar.
Gloria Tibi Domine

Francis was embodied at Bath on the 22nd September 1914 and got to the Western Front on the 22nd December 1914. He was a territorial in the Royal Engineers. He was a mechanic before enlisting.

He was wounded in action on the 4th May 1915 with the C.R.E. 27th Division. He was admitted into the 11th General Hospital in Boulogne in France with a gunshot wound to the hip. He became seriously ill on the 11th May before he then succumbed to his injuries on the 14th May 1915 and died at the same hospital.

He was a member of the 503rd Field Company (2nd Wessex) Royal Engineers and he was buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

His parents wrote on his gravestone in France:

Never forgotten by father and mother
Walton-By-Cleveland, Somerset

There are war graves here at Walton St Mary at Clevedon:

Private Horace Sydney Broderick

He lies here with a personal war grave which states:

In loving memory of Horace Sydney Broderick
Private R.A.S.C. and for many years a member of the choir of St Mary’s Walton
Son of Edward and Sarah Ann Broderick
Who died March 13th 1917
Ages 36 years

Horace died at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich. He had been serving with the Royal Army Service Corps.

Private Bertram Noel Coates

In loving memory of
Private Bertram Noel Coates
Artists Rifles O.T.C.
31st March 1917

Buried and remembered with his parents Florence and Herbert Coates – his father was a Lieutenant Colonel VD who died in 1950. Bertram was married and working in London for the National Provincial Bank of England when he was called up to the 28th Battalion London Regiment (Artists Rifles) as a Private. Whilst training, he caught measles – he died a few weeks later from complications as a result of measles. He left a daughter Eileen Noel Coates and his young wife Mary Isabel.

Private Wilfred Hinton Butler

Buried with his father, his memorial reads:

Also of his son Wilfred Hinton Butler
Who fell wounded in the Battle of the Somme
Who gave his life for his King and Country
October 2nd 1916 Aged 21 years

Wilfred was injured in September 1916 around Delville Wood on the Somme serving as a Private with the 13th Battalion London Regiment. He died a few weeks later at home from his injuries.

The only World War Two casualty is Boatswain Edward James Neville Sawkins who was in the Merchant Navy. He died on the 28th May 1943) in Clevedon and is buried here.

These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Walton St Mary, Clevedon in Somerset:

Second Lieutenant Lewis Hopkins

DoB 1886 Worthing, Sussex DoD 26th September 1915 age 29 Loos

8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry

Also served: 1445 Honourable Artillery Company

Commemorated: Loos Memorial, France

Sapper Francis William John Smith

DoB 1895 Swindon, Wiltshire DoD 14th May 1915 age 20 Boulogne, France

892 503rd Field Company, Royal Engineers

Buried: Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France

Lieutenant Robert William Laurence Edginton

DoB 1896 Birmingham, Warwickshire DoD 3rd June 1915 age 19 Belgium

1st/5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Buried: Berks Cemetery Extension, Belgium