September 18, 1917 – Grieving families remember three children who have died, the youngest only three months old

It is not only young men in uniform who are being grieved for by families according to the September 18, 1917, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

This week’s paper carries news of three young children who have also passed away – perhaps not surprising in a time when the mortality rate for children is so high

The most fully reported death is of six-year-old Margaret Ruth Stamford of East Farndon who had appendicitis.

The report says: “The deceased, who was a general favourite with all, underwent an operation at Market Harborough Nursing Home on Sunday. The operation was successfully performed but she gradually sank and died on Monday.”

The funeral took place at East Farndon Church and there were many wreaths including one from ‘mummy, daddy and children’.

There is also news among the Births, Marriages and Deaths announcements column that three-year-old Alfred Reginald Bolton of Kibworth Beauchamp has died and also George Albert Garlick of Market Harborough. George was just three months old.

infant death rates v1The Advertiser carried a prominent story just over a year ago on April 25, 1916, which showed the infant mortality rate was 45 in 1000. This was well down on figures for the previous four years but it is still remarkably high when measured against the infant mortality rate today which is just under four in 1000 –more than ten times lower (2016: Office of National Statistics).


Corporal Arthur Tomlinson


Sadly there are reports of more Market Harborough men making the ‘great sacrifice’. Private Geo Harold Walker of Church Square, described by the paper as ‘a fine specimen of English manhood and very popular’, has died after being shot in the leg and the foot.

His parents were at first given some hope when they received a letter from one of his colleagues, although it would have left them with mixed feelings. The writer says: “He was one of the best and we hope he will have a safe recovery. He took it very bravely, though part of the time he suffered considerable pain.”

However, the Walkers received a later letter from a nurse caring for the 20-year-old soldier with the news that they dreaded. “His injuries were very serious. Everything was done to try and save his life and ease his pain. He was conscious for a short time before he passed away.”

There is some brief information about Corporal Arthur Tomlinson of Coventry Road who died while in charge of an advanced supply depot. His photograph is also published in the paper.

There are also brief listings of three other local men who have been killed in action: Lance Corporal R Butteriss of Kibworth Beauchamp, Private J Dutson of Lubenham, and Private F Roberts of Market Harborough.

The Advertiser will have sourced this news from the Army’s official gazetteer – perhaps next week their families will come forward with photographs and further information to remember their loved ones with the whole community via the pages of their local newspaper.

  • This column is published every Monday by John Dilley on the Newspapers and the Great War website and will continue until the 100th anniversary of the final armistice in November 2018.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University lecturer David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.
  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.