One day in May 1915, twenty or so young women from Clevedon took an excursion to Tidworth in Wiltshire. Their trip was not without purpose, for it is no coincidence that men from the 56th Infantry Brigade had moved to Tidworth to complete their military training having spent three months in Clevedon from January of that year. It is very likely that one of the day-trippers was Rhoda Cooper of Old Street. After a whirlwind romance, Rhoda had married Private John Stainton of the 7th King's Own, Royal Lancaster Regiment just a few weeks before. Sadly, as will be come apparent as this story unfolds, Rhoda's new found happiness was to be short lived.
|7th L.N. Lancs, Clevedon - (Phil Curme Collection)|
|Photo from 'Clevedon's Own' by Rob Campbell|
|Kings Own Regiment Museum Archive, Lancaster|
|The Triangle - Clevedon - Imperial War Museum Archive|
When the Brigade departed Clevedon by train for Tidworth Camp and then onwards to the Western Front in May 1915, the town must have seemed very quiet. Happily, the Brigade's departure was captured on a Pathe News film which has been digitised by the Archive team at the Imperial War Museum and is available online here. One of the Lancashire lads remains in Clevedon though; that is Rhoda Cooper's husband John Stainton who is buried in the consecrated ground at St Andrews Church in the shadow of a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone - albeit mysteriously showing the initial 'T' instead of 'J'.
|Private John Stainton (CWGC) - Phil Curme Collection|
|La Boisselle - German Defences|
|Lochnager Crater, La Boisselle|