This cemetery contains 3004 Commonwealth burials (2923 from the UK, 55 from Canada and 26 from India) +87 German and 122 French. In addition there are 19 burials from the 2nd World War.

The Cemetery contains 5 named soldiers of the Cheshire Regiment who all died of wounds received in action near the village of Voilaines, in the battle between 18th and 22nd October 1914. The town of Bethune was the site for a Field Ambulance Hospital.

"The little village of Voilaines occupies an important place in the history of the 1st Battalion ('Ever Glorious' - Bernard Rigby)

1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment
Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Bethune Town Cemetery

©: G E Conway, 2009
Their name liveth for evermore
Private E J Conway (circa. 1905)
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All of the men named below were awarded the 1914 Star (with "clasps and roses"), the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
... about how to get to Bethune Town Cemetery and other information
Captain Frederick Henry MAHONY

Date of Death:
22 October 1914 (Died of wounds)
Grave No:
1.A.3.
Unit:
1st Battalion
Age:
40
Awards:
Mentioned in Despatches
Service:
South Africa Campaign                                             (QSA & KSA Medals)

Aro Expedition, Northern Nigeria                            (African General Service Medal).
Personal History:
Frederick was born at Lucknow, Bengal, India on 24th August 1874, the son of Major Frederick Henry Mahony late of York and Lancaster Regiment, for some years Adjutant of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, Hounslow, and Mrs Elizabeth Mary Mahony (née Cahill). He had 3 younger siblings, William Albert Francis (b. 1876), Charlotte Emma (b. Lucknow, February 1877) and Charles Albert Francis (b. Gwalior, November 1881). 

He married Ethel Cicely Paterson at St. Mary Abbots, Kensington, 12 July, 1905, and they lived at Holland Park, London W1. They had two children, Cynthia Patricia, born 14 March 1909, and Frederick Henry Patrick, born 11 February 1911, who applied for the '1914 Star' in respect of their late father, on 18th January 1919. In June quarter 1918 Ethel remarried Francis E. Bliss, in London, and moved to Montecito, Santa Barbara, California, U S A.

By the 1911 Census Frederick (now a Captain) was back in India stationed in the Regimental Barracks of 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, The Ridge, Jubbulpore, India. (RG 14/34980) His wife and two children had remained in England, living with Ethel's father, John, at 42 Holland Park Kensington.
Military History:
Currently his Army records are unavailable, and do not appear to have survived the Second World War bombing. However, his obituary in "De Ruvigny's Roll Of Honour 1914-1924" states that enlisted in 1892 in the York and Lancaster Regiment and served for five years in the ranks. He was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant to the 1st Cheshires, 24 August 1898, and promoted Lieutenant on 2 June 1900, and Captain on 10 February 1906.

He served in the South African War (Boer War) and took part in the operations in the Orange Free State, February to May 1900, attached to the A.S.C., including actions at Dreifontein, Vet River, (5-6 May), and Zand River. He was in the Transvaal, May to June, including actions near Johannesburg, Pretoria and Diamond Hill (11-12 June), and in the Transvaal, East of Pretoria, July to Nov., including action at Belfast (26-27 August). For this he received the Queen's South Africa Medal with five clasps.

He was employed with the West African Frontier Force, 28 November 1900 to 9 July 1904, first in Northern Nigeria, during operations against the Emir of Yola. He gained the 1901 King's South Africa Medal with clasp), and subsequently in Southern Nigeria with the Aro Expedition 1901-2 (clasp). From 8 January 1906 to 31 March, 1908, he was Adjutant of the Durham L.I. Volunteers and of the Territorial Battalion, I April 1908, to January 1909. 
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Private 9744 Thomas BROWN

Date of Death:
20 October 1914 (Died of wounds)
Grave No:
I.C.17.
Unit:
'D' Company
Age:
22


Personal History:
Thomas was probably the eldest son of Samuel (Colliery worker) and Mary Brown of Chester-le-Street, Durham. In which case he had a younger brother Ralph. (1901 Census RG 13/4699) However, with such a common name this is not a certainty.

Military History:
Thomas enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Chester. Currently his Army records are unavailable, probably destroyed in Second World War bombing. 

He was a Regular Soldier serving with the 1st Battalion and at the outbreak of War was stationed in Londonderry. He sailed on the SS Massilia on 14th August and his Medal Card confirms that he entered France on 16 August. He fought under Captain Jones or Captain Rich on the right flank of the Battalion's action at Audregnies on 24th August.

During the action at Voilaines to take La Bassée on the 18th, 19th and 20th October 13 men were killed and 61 wounded. Thomas was one who died of wounds received during this action.



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Private 9545 Joseph Henry PARK

Date of Death:
16 October 1914 (Died of wounds)
Grave No:
I.D.20.
Unit:
n/k
Age:
19
Personal History:
Joseph was born in St John's parish, Barrow-in-Furness in the March quarter 1896, the eldest son of James E. (Shipyard worker) and Margaret A. Park. He had a younger brother, William, and two older sisters, Hannah and Ellen. In 1901 the family were living in Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire. (1901 Census RG 13/4007) In 1911 (Census RG 14/25660) widowed James was lodging with his younger son, William, in Barrow-in-Furness.

Military History:
Joseph enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Chester. Currently his Army records are unavailable, possibly destroyed in Second World War bombing.  His age and Service Number would indicate he had only recently joined the Regiment, maybe he was in the 3rd (Service) Battalion.

His Medal Card confirms that he entered France on 31st August as one of the reinforcements to replace those lost at Audregnies The War Diary stated that on 5th September: "Reinforced by Lt Hartford, 1 Cheshire Regt and 90 other ranks at 4 p.m."

During the action at Festubert and Voilaines on the 12th to 15th October 27 men were reported wounded. Joseph was undoubtedly one who died of wounds received during this action.


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Private 7911 Ephraim SWIFT (A.R.)

Date of Death:
19 October 1914 (Died of wounds)
Grave No:
I.E.20
Unit:
'D' Company
Age:
27
Personal History:
Ephraim was born in the March quarter 1887, at Stalybridge, Cheshire, son of John J. (Painter) and Eliza Anne Swift. He had two older sisters, Mary Adelaide and Martha Anne, and a younger sister, Emily. (1891 Census RG 12/3290) Ephraim was named after his grandfather, a grocer, who lived nearby.

By the 1911 Census Ephraim was stationed in India in the Regimental Barracks of 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, The Ridge, Jubbulpore, India. (RG 14/34980)

He married Alberta Cockayne in December quarter 1912, at Walsall, Staffordshire. There is no record of them having any children.

Military History:
Ephraim enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Chester. Currently his Army records are unavailable, probably destroyed in Second World War bombing.  However, his Service Number indicates that he enlisted into the 2nd Battalion in March 1905, aged 18, on a 7 + 5 (7 years active service plus 3 years reserve). If so he would have been transferred to the Reserve List in March 1912.

As a reservist he was recalled to the 1st Battalion at the outbreak of War and his Medal Card confirms that he entered France on 16th August. He fought under Captain Jones or Captain Rich on the right flank of the Battalion's action at Audregnies on 24th August.

During the action at Voilaines to take La Bassée on the 17th, 18th and 19th October 40 men were wounded. Ephraim was one who died of wounds received during this action.

 
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Private 6848 Harry BEDDA

Date of Death:
23 October 1914 (Died of wounds)
Grave No:
I.C.5.
Unit:
n/k
Age:
31
Personal History:
Harry Bedda was born in Audley, Staffordshire in December quarter1883, the oldest child of Frederick (Coal miner) and Hannah Bedda of Old Road, Audley. His younger siblings were Frederick (see below), Ernest, Albert, Florence, Francis and George. (1901 Census: RG 13/2582)

The 1911 Census (RG 14/16432) shows the family living at 87 Chapel Street, Bignall End, Newcastle, Staffordshire. (Name spelled: BEDDER) Harry is working as a 'Coal miner hewer', as are his brothers, except George (see below).

In June quarter 1913 Harry married Florence Bevington and there is no record of them having any children.

Military History:
Harry enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Congleton, Cheshire. Currently his Army records are unavailable, probably destroyed in Second World War bombing.  His Service Number suggest that he enlisted in June 1902 on a 3 + 9 period of service (3 years active service followed by 9 years on Reserve)

His Medal Card shows he entered France on 12th September and may have been one of the reinforcements joining the Battalion on the 24th, when the Battalion was in trenches in the Mesnil Valley.

Harry died of wounds received during the action at Voilaines and La Bassée between 18th and 22nd October 1914. During those 5 days 83 NCOs and men were killed or died of wounds received attempting to take La Bassée.

"The little village of Voilaines occupies an important place in the history of the 1st Battalion"   ('Ever Glorious' - Bernard Rigby)
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Footnote:

Harry's younger brother Fred (born April1889) enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, Cheshire Regiment on 19th July 1909 (Private 9259). His period of service was 7 + 5, so was in India at the outbreak of the War in Jubbulpore. The Battalion returned to England, landing at Devonport on 24 December 1914. The Battalion  was attached to 84th Brigade, 28th Division, at Winchester. It was posted to France and landed at Le Havre 17 January 1915.

Fred served as a First Aid Stretcher Bearer and his Service Record shows the following citation from the OC 1st Wiltshire Regiment, relating to the gallant conduct of Sgt. Wynne and Pt. Bedda:

"Thank you very much for sending the effects of the late Lieut. Hooper. Will you please convey to Sgt. Wynne and Pt. Bedda my deep appreciation of, and high admiration for, their very gallant conduct in bringing in this Officer's body. My Battalion fully understands the great personal risk this NCO and man ran for which they cannot too highly thanks them and desire to place on record their sense of their great obligation to them for their heroism."

Fred was killed in action at Ypres on 8 May 1915 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.
(Click CWGC logo on the right for his details.)

                                                               
Link to Cemetery name list
.... use this link to get a full list of all Soldiers buried in this Cemetery
Bethune Town Cemetery
Also buried in this Cemetery is Private 20101 Ernest Bryant (10th Battalion) who was one of the 6 men of the Cheshire Regiment "Shot at Dawn" during the War.
Link to
Pt Bedda's gravestone
Pt Bedda's Medal Index Card
Link to CWGC details
Capt Mahony's gravestone
Capt Mahony's Medal Index Card
Capt Mahony's Medal Index Card (back)
African General Service Medal
South Africa War Medals
Pt Brown's gravestone
Pt Brown's Medal Index Card
Pt Park's gravestone
Pt Park's Medl Index Card
Pt Swift's gravestone
Pt Swift's Medal Index Card
Capt. F H Mahoney
 

Frederick was not part of the original contingent of the 1st Battalion that left for France in August 1914 and in view of his age, 40, it is likely he was a reservist at the outbreak of War, as the 2nd Battalion did not arrive back in England until December.  His Medal Index Card shows he entered France on 25th September and the War Diary show that on 16th October he "took over command of Battalion and brought up 2/Lieuts Napier, May, Woodhead, Carr, Anderson and 248 reinforcements".

During this time he led a successful bayonet charge under very heavy artillery fire, and showed excellent coolness and courage, and was complimented by General Count Gleichen on the excellent work of his Battalion.

Captain Mahony was listed as a 'wounded' in the War Diary on 21st October following the action at Voilaines near La Bassée and he died of his wounds in Hospital the following day. (Crookenden, p.28, states he was "mortally wounded" on the 21st.) 

It was reported that while on his way to give orders to some men in the trenches, he was mortally wounded by a bullet from a German sniper, who fired at him from a cottage window, over 1,000 yards distant, the bullet striking him in the shoulder and penetrating to the lungs. He was removed to the Clearing (114) Hospital at Bethune, where he died a couple of hours after his arrival. Before starting on his fatal journey to the trenches he had been asked, "Why not send a man with the message?" to which he replied, "I won't ask a man to do what I won't do myself."

He was Mentioned in Field Marshall French's despatch of 14th January 1915 (Source: London Gazette Issue 29072 published on the 16 February 1915. Page 16) He had been strongly recommended for the D.S.O. by General Count Gleichen and according to information received by his relatives from the War Office this honour would have been duly awarded him had he lived.