World War 1, also known as the ‘First World War’ or the ‘Great War’, was a global war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It is said that it changed British society for ever; it certainly devastated whole communities across Nottinghamshire.
Records suggest that around 11,000 men and women from Nottinghamshire died during World War 1, 75% of casualties were under the age of 30 years and 70% of the soldiers who went there were killed on the Western Front.
There are few articles in the newspaper archive during this time relating to Tollerton or those who lived in the village. However, Nottingham newspapers posted regular updates on the number of men who had enlisted and displayed recruitment advertisements.
There are no records of how many men from Tollerton went to war but it is known that three were killed during WWI. They are listed on the war memorial on Tollerton Lane.
Those who were killed in action George Brain
George’s name is listed on the Tollerton Memorial and also appears on the Arras Memorial in the Fauborg d’Amiens cemetery. He was a corporal in the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby) regiment and took part in the Arras offensives when the Germans attacked in the spring of 1918. Both sides suffered great losses but the German offensive was halted. Keith Brain, George’s great nephew, has provided much detailed information about his relative and his assistance has been greatly appreciated.
George Brain was born in 1882 in Banbury, son of John and Sarah Brain. George and his three brothers all fought in WWI and one of those brothers, Albert, was also killed in action. Prior to the war around 1901 George moved to Derby and in 1905 he married Sarah Jane Bilton (born Kelham, Notts) in Southwell. By 1911 he was living in Tollerton and had three children, John Leslie (4years), Florence Elizabeth (2 years) and George William (1 year). The Census in 1911 lists him as ‘under gardener domestic’.
George enlisted at Newark and started his overseas service on 31 December, 1915 in the Balkans in Gallipoli (Dardanelles). He was promoted to corporal whilst serving with the 9th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. In February 1916 the battalion was in Egypt; leave was granted in Cairo and Alexandria and much time was spent in recuperating. It seems that during this time George met up with his brother Harry who was also serving in Egypt.
The photograph to the left was taken in January 1916 and shows George (right) with his brother, Harry, in Egypt.
On 12 March 1916, George’s brigade moved to Ballah East taking over the Suez Canal defences and remained there until June 1916. In July 1916 he went to France and was killed on 22 March 1918 whilst serving with the 10th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters. Unfortunately George Brain was one of many thousands of missing persons during this war who has no known grave.
Prior to joining up George lived at Forge Cottage, Tollerton with his wife and children. They must have been devastated when they learnt of George’s death. By 1918 Sarah had four children, the youngest, Albert Edward, was born two months after George’s death and a month after Sarah had been notified of her husband’s death. Records suggest that Sarah might have remarried in 1921 to a William Coles but this can not be confirmed.
George Henry Sweet
George was the only son and second child of Charles and Emma Sweet. He was born in Radcliffe on Trent in 1897, as were his two sisters. His father was coachman to the Burnside family who later came to live at Tollerton Hall. George looks so young and quite vulnerable in this photograph. He would have been about 18 years old when he signed up.
George Henry Sweet in uniform Courtesy of David Broughton (George’s nephew)
In the 1911 Census, George Sweet is listed as ‘gardens help’ and now at Tollerton, along with his parents and three sisters – Lilian, Gerty and Alice Mary. Lilian, the eldest child, was listed as a telegram messenger. Alice Mary, George’s youngest sister, was born in Tollerton in 1911 so the family might have moved from Radcliffe when the Burnsides took up residence at Tollerton Hall around 1909. The family lived to the south of Tollerton Hall.
This photograph, kindly provided by David Broughton, shows George’s youngest sister, Alice Mary, standing just outside the family home. One can just imagine her standing there, looking out from 166 Tollerton Lane known as West Lodge and wondering where her brother was and when he might be returning home.
David Broughton recalls that Alice Mary, George’s youngest sister who was David’s mother, also worked later in the Burnside household at Tollerton Hall as a maid. George enlisted in October, 1915 and joined the Royal Artillery. As the following document shows he was seriously wounded in August 1916 and came back to England where he died in hospital about two months later. He was later returned to Tollerton where he is buried in the village churchyard.
John Edward Lane
John enlisted at Derby in 1915 and joined the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment). He arrived in France late April 1916 and his regiment played a key part in the Somme Battle from August to the end of November 1916. Private John Lane was killed in September, 1917 whilst with the 16th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters.
John Edward Lane: Courtesy of John Lane, his grandson
John Edward Lane, born in 1886 in Normanton on Soar, was the son of Thomas and Sarah Lane who were both born in Rutland. He had a number of sisters and brothers. By the time John Lane enlisted, he was married and living at Glebe Farm, Tollerton with his wife Mary Jane (nee Hubbard) who was born in West Bridgford. When John was killed in action he left a wife and three children, Horace William born 1910, Charles Edward born 1914 and Gladys Myra born 1916. all under the age of seven, the youngest was only 16 or 17 months old.
In 1911 prior to signing up, John Edward Lane was an agricultural labourer like his father. John’s parents lived in Tollerton at one stage. In the 1901 Census they are listed at Tollerton with one of their children, Ethel May Lane, who was born here in 1903. Exactly how long John’s parents resided in Tollerton is unclear as in 1891 they were at East Leake and in 1911 were residing at Barton in Fabris.
John’s wife, Mary, never remarried; she died in 1971 at the age of 84 years and is buried in the churchyard at St Peter’s in Tollerton. John Lane, the soldier’s grandson, recalls that Horace started work very young – presumably to support the family financially.