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Herbert Edward "Ted" Booth (1895-1980)

Plawsworth man escaped from a prisoner of war camp

Born in Bolton in 1895, Herbert was the son of John and Emily Booth. By 1911 Herbert was living in Plawsworth with his father, boarding in the household of Thomas Morris. Both Herbert and his father were working as miners. It is not clear where his mother and younger sister Annie were living at this time.

Herbert enlisted into the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry on 9 November 1914, at which time he was living at 5 Fowler’s Terrace in Plawsworth. He became a private with the service number 8/3428 and later, 300758. When Herbert’s battalion was disbanded on 6 November 1918, he seems to have been transferred to the 5th Reserve Batalion. He began his service in France on 7 July 1916.

Herbert was awarded the Military Medal in 1917, announced in the London Gazette on 18 July 1917. He received this award for accompanying an officer on a daylight patrol whilst being under enemy fire. He was presented with this medal and a gold watch in a ceremony in Kimblesworth in October 1917. Just under a year later, in July 1918, the Chester-le-street Chronicle reported Herbert as missing, although this was unconfirmed at this time. A month later it was reported that in fact he had been captured and had spent a month as a prisoner of war before managing to escape.

Following his return to England, further details of his escape emerged and the Chester-le-street Chronicle in October 1918 reported this ‘daring escape’ in great detail. Herbert had been taken prisoner on 27 May 1918. He escaped with three other men in late June by creating a hole under the barbed wire encircling the camp. Having made it to a French trench the four men were mistaken for Germans and attacked, leaving Herbert injured with shrapnel wounds to his head and right thigh. Having first received treatment in a French hospital, he was evacuated to England on 11 August and treated at military hospitals in both Devonport and Plymouth. Following his discharge from hospital Herbert was granted two weeks furlough before having to report back to his battalion.

Herbert was demobilised on 15 February 1919. The following year he received a Bar to his Military Medal, announced in the London Gazette on 30 January 1920. Many prisoners of war who escaped were awarded the Military Medal, or a Bar if they had previously been awarded the Military Medal. The general citation for this award in the Gazette was given as “In recognition of gallant conduct and determination displayed in escaping or attempting to escape”.

From Herbert’s (Ted’s) granddaughter:

Some further details below to fill in the gaps:

Born in Bolton in 1895, Herbert was the son of John and Emily Booth. Around 1906, his mother had deserted the family and bigamously remarried, leaving Herbert and his sister, Annie, to be looked after by their father. By 1911, Herbert and his father moved to Plawsworth to find work. There they boarded in the household of Thomas Morris. Both Herbert and his father were working as miners. It is not clear where his younger sister Annie was living at this time, but it wasn’t with her mother. Annie was later reunited with her brother and father and they remained close all their lives.

Herbert’s middle name was Edward and he was known to family and friends as Ted. He was born on 29 August 1895 and baptised on 23 October at St Peter’s Church, Bolton le Moors, Lancashire.

He married Annie Burnett (nee Lawson May) in 1920, the marriage was registered in Easington. Annie (who was born in Seaham Habour in 1896) was a widow who had previously been married to George Burnett (born Sunderland 1895). George joined the 6th Battalion, 11th (Northern), Division, Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment) (The Green Howards). Private No.16911. Three days after marrying Annie, George shipped off to war and was killed on 21 August 1915 at Gallipoli. His body was never recovered and he is remembered on panel 55-58 on the Helles Memorial in Gallipoli.

Herbert and Annie had four children, George Henry, John C, Christina (born 1923, died 1926) and our mother, also called Christina, born 1929. During the Second World War, George served with the Royal Air Force and John with the Royal Navy (artic convoys).

On his return from war, Herbert returned down the mines.

In 1929, he left the mines and secured employment at Elder and Dempster Shipping Ltd in Hartlepool. The company also owned several banana plantations in the West Indies and Herbert was later appointed the manager of their Banana Warehouse Depot in Hartlepool. At this point he lived with his family at 5 The Avenue, Seaham Harbour.

Throughout the entire Depression-era Herbert was always in work.

In 1939 he and his family moved to 43 Queen’s Street, Seaham Harbour, and he was an Inventory Clerk for the Ministry of Labour. With the advent of the Second Word War Herbert was conscripted for essential war work and was employed as a Machinist Engineer. He spent some time in and around the Midlands and Manchester areas working in factories there to help the war effort.

In 1946, he moved to Hartlepool and was working as a Clerk in the Labour Exchange. He and his wife and daughter, Christina lived at 117, Milton Road, Hartlepool.

During the 1950s, he went back to the shipyards in West Hartlepool as a Machinist Engineer until he retired in 1960.

After a number of years in Milton Road, he and Annie moved round the corner to 8 Bengal Street, and then in April 1967 moved to 12 Conrad Walk. Annie died on 24 January 1977 and Herbert died a few years later in 26 April 1980. His ashes are in Stranton Grange Cemetary, Hartlepool alongside Annie’s.

Fiona Carr

Military Medal (London Gazette, 17 July 1917)

Whilst engaged in forward observation of enemy position, Captain Pelling and Private Booth were subject to intense enemy fire during which whilst both were wounded they continued to report until under cover of darkness they returned to their unit. Captain Pelling reported that his wounds to chest and legs rendered him immobile and that Private Booth had assisted him despite intermittent blindness due to a serious head wound.

Bar to Military Medal (London Gazette 27 January 1920)

Position held by Private Booth and his companions was subject to a surprise attack Lieutenant Carew was killed and the unit taken as captives for interrogation. Private Booth organised and led a successful escape during which he mortally wounded an armed guard with an entrenchment tool.

Civil Parish: Kimblesworth

Birth date: 29-Aug-1895

Death date: 26-Apr-1980

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 10 Saturn Street, Bolton, Lancashire (1901 census)
21 Front Street, Nettlesworth, Chester-le-street (1911 census)
5 Fowler’s Terrace, Plawsworth (Service Records, Electoral Rolls 1920, 1921)

Employment: Miner (1911 census)
Kimblesworth Colliery

Family: Parents: John Booth, Emily Booth
Siblings: Annie Booth
Wife: Annie Burnett (nee Lawson May) married 1920
Children: George Henry Booth, John C Booth, Christina Booth (1923-1926), Christina Booth (born 1929)

Military service:

8th Battalion DLI
Service numbers 3428, 300758

Medal(s): Victory Medal
British War Medal
Military Medal with bar

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham | Dom Carr, grandson | Fiona Carr, granddaughter