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War Memorial Blidworth

Blidworth Parish War Memorial. Source: Paul Fillingham 2018.

Stage 8

War Memorial

The War Memorial at the junction of Beck Lane and Main Street recognises Blidworth villagers who were killed or missing in the First World War (1914-18< Second World War (1939-45), Northern Ireland (1969-98), and Afghanistan (2001-14).

There is also an interpretation lectern commemorating the life of Sergeant Major Matthew Clay, who fought at the Battle of Waterloo.

 

First World War Names

Ashley, William
Berridge, Robert
Bird, William E
Boness, Ralph
Brelsford, Harold
Brown, Albert
Bycroft, Walter H
Carlisle, Richard E
Chaplin, Arthur
Clarke, George
Clarke, James
Clarke, William
Clay, Ernest
Dove, George W
Dunn, William H
Godfrey, Cecil
Godfrey, Herbert E
Godfrey, Joseph C
Godfrey, Wilfred
Gunby, Edward A
Hadgkiss, Joseph
Holloway, Fred
Horibin, John B
Jones, Sidney
Kirk, George
Maxfield, Harry
Methringham, John R
Palmer, Sam
Penford, John V
Rose, William
Severn, Ernest W
Shipman, Charles W
Shoote, Joseph
Sills, Herbert
Smith, Henry
Smith, Richard
Swain, Arthur
Talbot, Harry
Timmons, Thomas W
Townroe, Arthur
Ulyett, Charles P
Walker, James
White, Thomas
Worsh, George

World War II Names

Allsebrook, Ralf A P
Allwood, Eric
Alton, James
Bailey, Eric L
Barsby, Jack
Binge, Joseph C
Crowder, George
Draycott, Arthur
Duffin, Albert
Edge, Clifford A
Guest, Stanley M
Hardwick, Kenneth H
Harrison, Eric
Harrison, William H
Hikin, William C
Holden, William
Kelly, Phillip
Kerslake, John
Kindred, Eric W
Kirk, Edwin
Lander, Frank
Lingard, Doris
Mason, Benjamin H
Moxon, William H W
Murfitt, Cyril
Pressley, Harvey
Ridley, James W
Roach, Francis G
Simpson, Charles C
Taylor, Peter J
Trickett, Geoffrey
Winfieldale, Jack

Northern Ireland

Willets, Michael

Afghanistan

Cutts, Andrew Barrie

Sergeant Major Matthew Clay

Sergeant Matthew Clay

Matthew Clay was born on 6 March 1796, he started work when he was 11 or 12 as an apprentice framework knitter, an important trade in Blidworth at the time. Matthew worked at this for seven years before joining the army at the age of 18.

He enlisted in the Third Scots Fusiliers Regiment, and served first with the 2nd Battalion in Holland and France from 1814 until 1816. He was captured and imprisoned but only for a couple of weeks, being set free when Paris was liberated.

In France, he started writing a diary. On 16th June 1815 at Quatre-Bras and he wrote about the battalion settling down for the night, and filling a kettle for his friends and the injured. As he drank from it, he thought it had a funny taste but it was still refreshing. Just as it was getting light he went for some more but when he looked down at the water it was red with blood, dead bodies were everywhere.

Matthew’s diaries form a detailed account of the war. Lance Sergeant Gorman of the Scots Guards Archives has said, ‘Of all the narratives that have been written concerning that most ‘memorable battle of waterloo’, Matthew Clay’s account is one of the most vividly described.

It provides the reader with a ‘soldier on the ground account’ of battle during the Napoleonic period. His account has been used worldwide by authors and is considered one of the rarest Private Soldiers account of not only Waterloo but of the battle for Hougomont Farm, which if it had not been defended so bravely and so well, Waterloo may have been a French Victory.

Matthew was promoted to Corporal on 21st march 1818 and became the 1st Pay and Drill Sergeant of the Scots Fusilier Guards on 14th February 1822. He served overseas again during the Carlist Wars in Portugal between 2nd January 1827 and 15th April 1828.

He served as a Drill Sergeant in the Guards for eleven years and taught drill to the Duke of Cambridge, the Marquess of Abercon and others.

Matthew was fortunate never to have been wounded and was eventually discharged from the service at his own request in 1833 when he became Sergeant Major of the Bedfordshire Militia, a rank he held until 1852.