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  • Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery.  Photograph Rachel Farrand
Person Details
13 Sep 1889
Nottingham
He was the son of Henry Thomas and Phoebe Ann (Annie) Prosser (née Gregory). Henry Thomas was born in Derby on 30 November 1856, the son of Thomas and Selina Prosser. He was baptised at Derby St Alkemund on 37 October 1859. Phoebe Ann Gregory was born in Nottingham on 9 May 1857, the daughter of John Gregory. Henry and Phoebe were married on 25 March 1879 in the parish church, Bedford (J/F/M Bedford). They had seven children of whom only six survived childhood: Violet Lydia b. 12 February 1882 (A/M/J Basford) bap. 2 July 1882 St Wilfrid Wilford, Mabel Helena b. 6 May 1884 (A/M/J Nottingham) bap. 2 November 1884 St Wilfrid, Percival Machin b. 12 April 1888 (A/M/J Nottingham), Clifford Gregory b. 13 September 1889 (O/N/D Nottingham), Hylda/Hilda Annie b. 28 November 1891 (O/N/D Basford) and Ruby Victoria b. 9 March 1897 (A/M/J Basford). All the children were born in Nottingham. In 1891 Henry (34) a hairdresser's manager, and Annie (33) were living on Colwick Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, with their four children, Violet (9), Mabel (6), Percival (2) and Clifford (1). Henry employed a general domestic servant. By 1901 the family was living at 20 George Road, West Bridgford: Henry was still working as a hairdresser's manager, Violet (19) was a stationer's clerk, Mabel (16), Percival (12), Clifford (11) and Hylda (9) were at school while Ruby (4) was under school age. Henry and Phoebe had moved to 16 George Road, West Bridgford, by 1911. Henry was now employed as a colliery agent. Five of their six children were in the home on the night of the census: Violet (29) and Mabel (26) of no given occupation, Clifford (21) a colliery clerk, Hylda (19) a clerk, and Ruby (14). Their eldest son, Percival, who would have been about 22 in 1911, has not yet been traced on the census but other records show that he was in Canada and America during the war and he may have already emigrated. At the time of Clifford's death on 15 July 1916 the family home was at 15 Selby Road, West Bridgford. His mother died less than three weeks later on 3 August 1916 aged 59. His widowed father was still living at 15 Selby Road in 1939; he was employed as a hosiery sales agent. Henry Thomas died on 20 August 1949 at 5a Patrick Road, West Bridgford, at the age of 92. Of Clifford's siblings: Violet Lydia did not marry and was living with her widowed father at 15 Selby Road, West Bridgford, in 1939; her occupation was given as housekeeper. They later moved to 5a Patrick Road, West Bridgford, and this was still Violet's address when she died on 24 March 1953. Mabel Helena married Charles Edwin Chapman (b. 29 October 1884) in 1914 (A/M/J Basford) and they had at least one child, Clifford Charles b. 1916 (O/N/D Depwade Norfolk). In 1939 Charles, who was a bespoke retail cutter in the tailoring trade, and Mabel were living at 8 St Peter's Avenue, Rushden, Northamptonshire. Mabel was living in Battle, East Sussex when she died in 1977 (J/A/S Hastings & Rother Sussex). Percival Machin probably emigrated before the war as there are records of his attestation with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and also a US WW1 Draft Registration in Boise City (documents not sighted). There is a record that he sailed from Liverpool to Boston Mass, in August 1930; the details on the passenger list included his occupation (salesman) and his last permanent residence which was Chicago, suggesting that he had made a short visit to England. There are also records showing that he married in Utah County and applied for naturalization in California (documents not sighted). He died in California on 1 March 1946 and was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles county. Hylda Annie married Penry Frederick Hautes (Percy Frederick Hanks) at St Giles, West Bridgford, on 24 January 1914 (J/F/M Basford). They had at least one child, Peter Prosser Hanks (b. York 29 July 1917) who served with distinction in the RAF from 1935-1964 (see 'Extra informtion'). In 1939 Hylda, now widowed, was living at 11 Kibworth Close, Nottingham; her occupation was given as retired shopkeeper. Hylda died on 23 February 1983; she was then living at 15 St Luke's Close, Alford Road, West Bridgford. Ruby Victoria married Albert N Ley (b. 9 February 1896) in 1920 (A/M/J Basford). They had at least one child, Ruby HP Ley (b. 1923 A/M/J Nottingham). In 1939 Albert, a manager and director of a textile manufacturers, and Ruby were living at 27 Beston Fields Drive, Beeston, Nottingham. Ruby died on 4 January 1972 (J/F/M Stratford on Avon); she was then living at 32 Portarlington Road, Westbourne, Bournemouth.
He was educated at Nottingham High School. In 1911 he was a colliery clerk.
15 Jul 1916
27
1549588 - CWGC Website
12704
Lance Corporal
8th Bn Leicestershire Regiment
Clifford enlisted on 1st September 1914. He was promoted lance corporal on 5th November 1914, corporal on 23rd January 1915 and lance sergeant on 18th March 1915. He went to France on 29th July 1915 and was promoted sergeant on 4th October 1915. However, he reverted to the rank of private at his own request on 15th May 1916. He was again promoted lance corporal on 5th July 1916. Clifford was killed in the area of Bazentin-le-Petit. He has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The battle of the Bazentin Ridge, which took place between 14 and 16 July 1916 during the Somme offensive, is arguably the biggest battle ever fought by the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Four battalions, making up the 110th (Leicestershire) Brigade went into action over three thousand strong. They were the pride of Kitchener's New Army and the flower of the young men of Leicestershire. Their objective was to clear the Germans from their positions in front of Bazentin le Petit Wood, and to capture the village of the same name behind it. The 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th battalions had been raised in Leicestershire in 1914. Arriving in France in 1915, their first major offensive action was to come on the Somme the following year. The peaceful rolling Picardie countryside had been turned by the Germans into a network of defensive lines and fortresses. Crucial to this were the woods, which offered cover from air observation and which they had strongly fortified. Jack Horner was a young soldier of the 8th battalion from Leicester. As he advanced across the open ground between Mametz Wood and Bazentin le Petit Wood, his battalion came under murderous flanking fire from Contalmaison Villa. He remembered: "I got a bullet through my right forearm. If you are hit by a high velocity bullet, its like a red hot poker going through your flesh, and the force with which it travelled knocked me back, and flung my rifle yards away. There wasn't a great deal of blood, but my right hand went dead and immoveable." By late morning all but the northernmost corner of the wood had been taken, with over 300 prisoners taken by the 9th battalion alone. By late afternoon resistance here too was finally broken, and as night fell the exhausted survivors took what sleep they could. Captain C.A.B.Elliott (right) of the 8th battalion recording "spent the night 14/15th in a shallow communication trench running E & W across Bazentin-le-Petit wood ... at about 3.30am our CQMS arrived with his ration party and plenty of water, which was much wanted, though tasting strongly of petrol." At the end of that day, Dick Read of the 8th battalion and his pal Jackie Johnson sat in a shellhole on the battlefield, dirty and tired, and ran through the names of those they already knew to have been killed. Read remembered: "Eventually Jackie broke the silence ... "Christ, there'll be hell to pay in Leicester and Loughborough... and Coalville...and Melton...and Uppingham...when they know about this. The Leicester Brigade, eh? Bloody well wiped out!" and he trailed off into silence again, immersed in his thoughts." The 21st Division contained the Leicestershire Brigade, the 110th, which included both the 7th and 8th Leicesters, the battalions of Captain C J S Wright and Lance-Corporal Prosser. They attacked from Mametz Wood towards Bazentin Le Petit Wood. On the night of 13/14 July the four Leicestershire Battalions moved into position through Mametz Wood onto the eastern edge which was to be the start line. At 3.25am the British artillery barrage opened up on the German positions in Villa Trench, simultaneously subalterns' whistles blew and the the first wave of Leicesters headed over the top. The barrage was supposed to send the Germans into cover and it was then a race against time across no mans land to arrive at the German defences before they were remanned. However, as soon as the Leicesters began advancing they were met with the rattle of machine gun fire. Despite this by late afternoon the Brigade were in control of Forest Trench which was the second objective of the attack and by 7pm the last Germans had been driven out of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood. As calm was beginning to fall across the battlefield the Leicesters had successfully taken all of their objectives, but for the battalions the Battle of Bazentin Ridge was a disaster. The casualty lists were appalling with all four battalions suffering in the region of one hundred men killed in action and around two hundred more wounded. The 8th Battalion also lost its Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Jepson George Mignon. The Battle of Bazentin starkly demonstrated the downside of what became effectively Pals Battalions in Kitchener's New Army, the numbing weight of casualties that affected individual communities.
Inscription on family headstone, Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery: 'Also of Clifford Gregory, dearly loved son of the above [Phoebe Ann] killed in action in France July 14th 1916 aged 27 years. Thy Will Not Mine O Lord' Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Acknowledgements’, 5 August 1916: ‘Prosser. Mr and Mrs HT Prosser desire to thank all kind friends for their sympathy in the loss of their dear son Clifford.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 5 August 1916: ‘Prosser. On the 3rd inst., at 15, Selby-road, West Bridgford, Annie, the dearly-beloved and devoted wife of HT Prosser, aged 59 years. They will be done. Service, St Giles’s Church, Tuesday 2.15; interment Church Cemetery, 3.30.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Marriages’ 24 January 1914: ‘Hautes (sic)-Prosser. On the 24th inst., at St Giles’s West Bridgford, by the Rev. Richard Hargreaves, Hylda Ann, third daughter of Mr and Mrs HT Prosser, to Penry (sic) Frederick, eldest son of Mr and Mrs F Hautes, of Northallerton Yorks.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 22 August 1949: ‘Prosser. On August 20th, at 5a Patrick-road, West Bridgford, peacefully, Henry Thomas in his 93rd year, loving and very dearly loved father of Vi, Maisie [Mabel], Hylda and Ruby. Service St Giles’ Church, 11.30 Tuesday. Interment Church Cemetery. No flowers, letters or mourning please.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Probate: Prosser Henry Thomas of 5a Patrick-road West Bridgford Nottinghamshire died 20 August 1949 Probate Nottingham 22 November to Albert Noel Jackson Ley [son-in-law] company director and John Robert Gillespie solicitor. Effects £1854 1s. 3d. Peter Prosser Hanks, son of Hylda Annie Hanks nee Prosser, and Percy Frederick Hanks: Nottingham Journal, 15 July 1940: ‘DFC for Bridgford Airman. Among recent awards for gallantry and devotion to duty in air operations approved by the King appears the name of Acting Flight-Lieutenant Peter Prosser Hanks, of West Bridford, who has been awarded the Distinquished Flying Cross. Flight-Lieutenant Hanks was born at York in 1917 and was educated at Worksop College, Notts. He entered the RAF as a short-service commission pilot-officer in 1935. Became a flying-officer in 1938 and an acting flight-lieutenant last year.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Journal, 4 September 1940 article about an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 3 September. Among the recipients was Flight-Lieut. Peter Prosser Hanks … ‘He brought down eight enemy machines in France and another in this country, a splendid achievement for a young officer of 23 … He was accompanied to London by his wife.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Journal, 27 October 1942: ‘Nottm. Officer wins DSO. A hero of Malta’s air battles, Wing-Commander Peter Prosser Hanks, DFC, of 21 Newcastle-drive, The park, Nottingham, has been awarded the DSO according to a telegram received (from her on) by his mother. The son of Mrs Hanks and the late Mr PF Hanks and grandson of Mr HT Prosser, of West Bridgford … He was promoted to his present rank last year at the age of 24 ...He married in 1939, a Midhurst (Sussex) girl.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk Peter Prosser Hanks retired from the RAF in 1964 in the rank of Group Captain and died in South Africa in 1986.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery.  Photograph Rachel Farrand
    Clifford Gregory Prosser - Family headstone Nottingham Church (Rock) Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand