Four Carrod brothers from Datchet fought in WWI but only two returned. Albert Edward Carrod and his brother Henry Ralph (‘Harry’) Carrod are remembered on Datchet’s war memorial.

Their father, John, born in 1868, was a twin and one of about ten children born to George Carrod (1828-1900) an agricultural labourer and his wife Hannah, nee Mitchell (1837-1887), who lived at 8 Blacksmith Row, Horsemoor Green, Langley.

Their mother, Elizabeth, was born in Iver, c1868, the daughter of Edward Elliott, a labourer, and Joyce, a dressmaker. Elizabeth had a sister and two brothers and in the 1881 census they were living in Colnbrook High Street.

John and Elizabeth married in 1889 and moved in with Elizabeth’s family. They wasted no time starting a family of their own. By 1891 they had two daughters Edith and Elizabeth Jane. A son, John, was born in 1891, followed by Albert Edward, on 13 January 1895.

After Elizabeth’s father died, the young couple moved with their growing family back to Blacksmith Row in Langley. (John’s twin brother William lived in the same street as did other members of the Carrod family.) By the time of the 1901 census, they had had two more boys, James and Harry. Elizabeth’s brother, Genty Elliott, a brickmaker, was also living with them.

The move to Datchet

By 1911, the family had moved to Datchet and had another son, William. On the night of the census, it was just the five boys who were at home with their parents. They all shared five rooms at 3 Rose Cottage on New Road, Datchet Common. (This cottage no longer exists.)

Outbreak of war

When war broke out, Albert and his brothers, John, James and Harry all signed up, as did several of their cousins and one of their father’s brothers. Albert enlisted in Aylesbury and the former farm labourer became Private Albert Carrod, 266610, 2/1st Bucks Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (OBLI).

The 2/1st Bucks Battalion was formed in Aylesbury in September 1914 as a second-line unit. In January 1915 it moved to Northampton and was attached to the 184th Brigade of the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The 61st was a second-line Territorial Force division raised as a reserve for the first-line battalions of the 48th (South Midland) Division. It moved to Essex in Spring 1915 then to Salisbury Plain in early 1916 before being mobilised for war, landing in France at Le Havre in May 1916.

Albert wasn’t the only man from Datchet to join the 2/1st Bucks Battalion of the OBLI. Francis William Higgs and William Johnson also joined. All three men were killed in action. Francis on 19 July 1916, and William and Albert on the same day, 22 August 1917.

The 61st engaged in various actions on the Western Front including The Attack at Fromelles, an unsuccessful diversionary tactic during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916; and in 1917, The Operations on the Ancre, and The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. That was followed by The Battle of Langemarck on 16-18 August 1917, part of the Third Battle of Ypres. In late August and early September the Division was involved in the efforts to push the line forward at positions around Schuler Farm and Aisne Farm near Kerselaar. On 22 August 1917, Albert was presumed killed in action.

Albert’s last days

In an online memorial to Walter John Read, of the 2/1st Bucks Battalion of the OBLI who also died on 22 August 1917, there is an excerpt from The story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by Captain G K Rose KC (Oxford: B H Blackwell, 1920). The 2/1st was with the 2/4th in the 184th Brigade of 61st Division so this gives an idea of what Albert might have experienced during the days before his death. The edited extract below covers 18-22 August and the battalion’s attack near Pond Farm during the Third Battle of Ypres.

“On August 18, starting at 4am, the Battalion marched to Goldfish Chateau, close to Ypres. We lived in bivouacs and tents and were much vexed by German aeroplanes, and to a less degree by German shells.

“On August 20, an air fight happened just above our camp. A German aeroplane fell worsted in the fight, and dived to ground, a roaring mass of fire, not forty yards from our nearest tents. By a freak of chance the machine fell in a hole made by a German shell. The usual rush was made towards the scene – by those, that is, not already sufficiently close for their curiosity. A crowd, which to some extent disorganised our preparations for the line, collected round the spot and watched the RFC extract the pilot and parts of the machine, which was deeply embedded in the hole. For hours the wreckage remained the centre of attraction to many visitors. The General hailed the burnt relics, not inappropriately, as a lucky omen.

“During the night of August 20/21, a serious misfortune befell B Company. Three 5.9s [5.9″ field howitzers] fell actually in their trench and caused 35 casualties, including all the sergeants of the company.

“On the following night Companies assembled for the attack. Shortly before 5am the bombardment started. In the advance behind the creeping barrage put down by our guns, C, D and A Companies provided the first waves, while B supported the flanks. Half-an-hour after the advance started D, B and A Companies were digging-in 150 yards west of the Winnipeg-Kansas Cross Road. C Company, on the right, had made little progress. Pond Farm, a concrete stronghold, had proved too serious an obstacle. Not till the following night was it reduced, and during the whole of August 22 it remained a troublesome feature in the situation.

“Before the line reached could be consolidated or they could act to defeat the enemy’s tactics, our men found themselves the victims of sniping and machine-gun fire from Schuler Farm, which was not taken and to which enemy reinforcements now came. More dangerous still was an old gun-pit which lay behind the left flank. The capture of this had been assigned to the 48th Division, but as a measure of abundant caution Colonel Wetherall had detailed a special Berks platoon to tackle it. This platoon, assisted by some Oxfords on the scene, captured the gun-pit and nearly 70 prisoners, but failed to garrison it. A party of the enemy found their way back and were soon firing into our men from behind.

“Throughout the 22nd no actual counter-attack nor organised bombardment by the enemy took place, but much sniping and machine-gun fire continued, making it almost impossible to move about. Our loss in Lewis-gunners was particularly heavy.

“Upon the left the 48th Division had failed to reach Winnipeg, with the result that this flank of A and B Companies was quite in the air. On the Battalion’s right, the failure of C Company to pass Pond Farm left the flank of D Company exposed and unsupported. But the position won was kept. Ground to which the advance had been carried with cost would not be lightly given up.Some of our men had to remain in shell-holes unsupported and shot at from several directions for over 50 hours.”

Albert died during the fighting of 22 August 1917. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Family at war

In Albert’s family alone, four sons went to war. Albert and his brother Henry Ralph ‘Harry’ Carrod were both killed in action, Harry in June 1918, but their brothers John and James survived. Although full military records don’t appear to exist for Albert or Harry, there is more detailed information available on their brother John. When he enlisted in September 1914 at the age of 22, he asked to join the Household Cavalry. He was posted initially to the 2nd Life Guards and later transferred to the Guards Machine Gun Regiment, serving initially in Britain and then in France from May 1915. His records describe him as nearly 6’ tall with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He was given 14 days leave in the UK, from 17 to 31 October 1918 so was perhaps able to visit his bereaved parents. Their brother James was in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, as was Henry Pickton who is also remembered on Datchet’s memorial.

At least eight of Albert’s cousins also fought as well as an Uncle. All are remembered on Datchet’s War Roll, as is Albert’s brother-in-law, William Frederick Rawlings, the husband of Elizabeth Jane, who was also a brother-in-law of Henry Pickton.

New Irish Farm Cemetery

Albert was buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. The headstones around Albert’s in plot 8, row D, are all of unknown soldiers. Francis William Higgs from Datchet, who was also in the 2/1st Bucks Battalion of the OBLI and died on the same day, is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, 35kms away.

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