Corporal Henry Edward Beckingham 1884-1917

Nine days from now will see the Centenary of the Battle of Cambrai, one of the first battles to use tanks. It started with a bombardment and an assault on Bovis Trench at 6AM. Unfortunately leaked intelligence meant that the Germans were ready for them.
Among the British soldiers killed was Corporal Henry Beckingham of the West Yorkshire Regiment. He left behind a widow and four children, two of whom died shortly afterwards. A daughter, Frances, in a cor death, and a son, also called Henry Edward, who died in the Great Flu Epidemic. In a letter home to his eldest child, ten year old Kathleen, written shortly before his death, he asked her to look after her mother. In the years afterwards, Kathleen Beckingham would write over those words, originally written on pencil, so they would not fade.
Times were tough for the family afterwards and they barely survived on the war widows pension, Corporal Beckingham was mentioned but rarely. Decades later, one of his granddaughters, Alison, found out about the circumstances around his death, and some of the family were able to visit his grave, which is in a small churchyard not far from the site of the battle.
Why am I mentioning this particular casualty? Well put simply Corporal Beckingham was my Great Grandfather. Kathleen Beckingham was my materanl grandmother, and it seems apt in the days before the centenary of his death, to publicly refer to him this Remembrance Sunday. The sad thing was, given his body was swiftly found and identified, that he was among the lucky ones out of those killed. Many families suffered the agony of having their loved ones listed as Missing. Believed Killed, and there may well be a tiny handful alive who knew of some of those people and ones hearts also go out to them


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