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Brentford Families - Beckingham & Collier

Young soldier carrying rifle and bayonet, standing outside Warlingham Village Club

Information from John James

John James is the son-in-law of Mrs Laura James whose Uncle was Harry Beckingham.

He writes 'This photo I believe was taken when he was about 19 (1914). I assume this is when he joined up. He lived at 94 The High Street New Brentford: it used to be The Catherine Wheel Public House but was coverted into Offices.'

'The Catherine Wheel belonged to George Collier. My Mother-in-law said she was born there but shortly after they moved to Hamilton Road in Brentford. Harry Beckingham's father, Harry Beckingham, used to be a Thames Lighterman who carried Timber. His nickname was Tesso for some reason we don't know why but he was well known in Brentford. His Barge was called The Trial.'

Information from Lauren Gates, March 2016

Lauren Gates is part of the Warlingham WW1 Centenary committee and we have been paying tribute to those on our Warlingham, Chelsham and Farleigh War Memorials by holding presentations and exhibitions on our men since 2014 and will carry on doing so till 2018. We have also been looking at the 17th Royal Fusiliers who were stationed at Warlingham in 1914-15. I saw this photo and instantly knew he was a 17th Royal Fusilier by his cap badge. Also when the Fusiliers arrived at Warlingham in the winter of 1914 their camp at Warlingham Court Farm was not finished, it was bitterly cold and it had been snowing. The villagers of Warlingham took pity on the men and gave them blankets and tents etc and also allowed them to stay the night in their homes as it had been a particularly bad winter. During the day the soldiers would return to camp. The Village club was used for meals and recreation by the soldiers billeted in the village. On 30th December 1914 the military authorities at Court Farm took over the village club for good and it wasn't available to the villagers. The photo says it is dated 1914 but I would date it January, February 1915 because there are no leaves on the tree and bush but also because when the Fusiliers first arrived they had no uniforms. They were initially in 1914 given a blue uniform that they hated. By the time they had left in 1915 they had proper uniforms.

Later on the Fusiliers took over our newly built Church hall this was completed in January 1915.

The 17th Fusiliers had a great relationship, with the villagers and held concerts in our newly built church hall to help raise funds for the cost of it. The fusiliers left in June 1915 for Nottingham and then to France by the autumn.

Neither the villagers or the Fusiliers forgot each other. The villagers had a 'comfort fund' where money was raised to send parcels to the 17th fusiliers and the Warlingham boys. Also the fusiliers named a crater 'warlingham' in France and when the war was over they presented their colours to Warlingham All Saints church that still hangs their today. They also presented a field gun which was on our village green until the 2nd world war, where it unfortunately had to be scrapped for metal.

I had a brief look on ancestry to double check that Harry Beckingham was a 17th Royal Fusilier and I found his full attestation papers although damaged, they say:
'Charles Harry Beckingham' signed up aged 20 and 4 months on the 9th September 1914 to the 17th Royal Fusiliers, service no. E/295.
I was sad to see that he is on the Brentford war memorial as he was killed in action on the 27th July 1916, aged 22.

We will be showing again the exhibition on the 17th Royal Fusiliers at Warlingham library on Sunday 13th March 2016, 11am till 4pm alongside the 16 men who lost their lives in 1914-15 from our village.

Published 2009; last updated March 2016