A Forester at Passchendaele

We last encountered Jim Beard as one of five boys from Cinderford Bridge who had joined up in the Severn and Avon battalion of the Worcestershire regiment in the Autumn of 1915.  After seeing action in the Battle of The Ancre Jim was taken ill with fever.  Having spent time in hospital he was convalescing in Waterford, Ireland where Sinn Fein were active.  The experience was so frightening that Jim volunteered to go to France, so was transferred to the 1/8th (First Eighth) battalion of the Worcestershire regiment.  The battalion was sent to take part in the fighting at Passchendaele where towards the end of the campaign they were ordered to the front line to capture the German Pillboxes which were preventing British troops from advancing.  The plan was that the men were to go forward into shell holes from where they would join the attack. The following is Jim’s account of the ‘Battle’.

They was in these here pill boxes look and our lot would say that they was going to capture them.  Generals at Ypres, terrible that was, a terrible mistake our Generals made there I reckon.

While we was waiting there we had to lay in water up around our necks.

It wasn’t that deep but where we was laying down we was covered in these shell hole.  One got killed, him wanted to get out and get into another and got killed in my arms, fell back in my arms dead as a nit, shot right through. 

One or two more got wounded had to be took from there look.  It wasn’t safe for the stretcher bearer or anybody to go over the top look.

When we did go over the top ‘we failed’ Men was being hauled down because we had to get over the top look. Well they’d got these machine guns and these pill boxes and mowing them down like flies, well we failed of course.  Stopped there all night until these here balloons come up, we didn’t know where we was and we had to wait till the balloons come up look, just before daylight or just as it was getting daylight, to tell, because the German balloons were a different shape to ours.  So then we made a dash for it, several of us…

Oh my clothes was ripped to pieces when we got back to the battalion they’d had the roll call and there was about 17 left out of 220.

Only 17 left and we was reported missing like, or would’ve been reported missing, but any how like I said we got back and it wasn’t but two dozen, it was battalioners that was coming back all t’others got killed.

The battle took place on 8th/9th of October, the 1/8th were in support of the 1/7th.  The following is a summary of the account of the battle in “The Worcestershire Regiment in The Great War Vol1”

The heavy rain of Oct 7th led to a postponement of the move up to the line…had the move been made early, the attacking troops would have had 24 hours in the front line to rest and examine the ground.  (The advance on the 8th) was made in indescribable difficulty.  The heavily equipped troops sank to their waists and their armpits in the mud.

The attack was led by the 1/7th battalion with the 1/8th in support.  The 1/7th were unable to make any impression on the German pillboxes and machine guns, 212 men and 10 officers were killed or wounded.  The 1/8th were then sent forward.  They too failed to make an impression and the attack was called off with the loss of a further 109 men and 3 officers.

To actually hear Jim Beard speak, just click on the audio file below.




Sir John Wyntour



John Wyntour was born in the Forest of Dean in about 1602 of a well-to-do family that had settled there in the early 1540s. He was intelligent and ambitious, and was unfailing in his support of his religion – Roman Catholicism.

His father died when he was about 17, and left him his estate, which included some ironworks in the Forest. He soon began to build and lease more, and he ran them profitably. By 1628 he also owned a mill at Lydney, which made wire from iron.  Before long he was aiming at the domination of Dean’s iron industry.

When he was 24, or thereabouts, he went to London to the court of King James I. Here he was a Catholic in a Protestant court and an object of suspicion. This situation continued when James I was succeeded by his son, Charles I. Before long Charles was borrowing large sums of money from Wyntour – he borrowed large sums from anyone who would lend them to him. He was chronically short of cash with which to run the country and was constantly quarrelling with Parliament who were in a position to supply it.

He decided to raise money from the Forest of Dean by enclosing the woods and planting trees. The enclosures prevented the Foresters from taking timber for their own purposes and also from allowing their animals to common in the Forest. As a consequence they rioted, as they were to do in similar circumstances two centuries later, under Warren James. Wyntour helped to quell the riots, and by so doing endeared himself to the King. The King now sold him large quantities of Forest timber to feed his voracious furnaces. In the Forest alone Winter had six furnaces and eight forges. He prospered. He was now the second biggest ironmaster in England.

In 1638 Wyntour became private secretary to the catholic Queen, Henrietta Maria, King Charles’s consort. He was now well in with the royal family, and two years later the King leased practically all the Forest to him. It was virtually a sale of the Forest, and included all timber (except that reserved for the Royal Navy for ship-building) and all coal, iron-ore and stone deposits. Wyntour began to fell  trees ruthlessly (including some earmarked  for the Navy) and soon began to enclose 4,000 acres of land that had been reserved for the use of the Foresters. The Foresters were outraged and tore down the enclosure walls he had just had erected. Opposing him now were not only the Foresters, but also land owners and business rivals in the Forest and those who were  hostile to his religion. Parliament also, suspicious of his closeness to the King, were waiting to bring him down.

At this time the King had trouble finding money to wage a war against his Scottish subjects. Wyntour became involved in raising money for the war. But he and his associates could not raise enough, and the King was forced to summon parliament and ask them for money. They refused to give him any. They also questioned Wyntour about his activities, and as a result they  petitioned the King to remove him and other Catholics from Court. But he refused to do so.

In 1642 Parliament rescinded the sale of the Forest to Wyntour. The same year the Civil War broke out. Wyntour returned to Whitecliff House, his place in Lydney. He fortified it and garrisoned it and soon began to wage guerrilla war against Edward Massey, who was the Roundhead Governor of Gloucester and in charge of the parliamentary troops in the district. For many years he was a thorn in Massey’s side. 

In 1644 Wyntour accompanied the Queen to safety in France, but quickly returned to the Forest to continue his fight with Massey. At one time Wyntour’s army was in complete control of Dean. But Massey attacked him hard and eventually drove him out of the Forest. The King then made him Governor of Royalist Chepstow. He again went to France at the behest of the King with documents for the Queen. This time he did not return. The Civil War  soon ended. When it did, Parliament confiscated Wyntour’s estates and leased his ironworks to Edward Massey. Wyntour returned to England, and lived for a time in London. Though his estates had been confiscated, he was probably still a rich man.

The King was executed in 1649. In the following year Wyntour was accused of conspiring to help a catholic rebellion in Ireland, and was sentenced to perpetual exile. Because he refused to leave England he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. After four years in the Tower, he was allowed out. He now spent much of his time making experiments to change coal to coke and use it as an agent for smelting iron-ore. But he was not successful; it was not until 1709 that Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale succeeded in using coke instead of charcoal to fuel a blast furnace, and very soon he was producing iron in a new way that revolutionised industry. But that’s another

In 1660 the monarchy was restored and Charles II came to the throne. Wyntour had his manor at Lydney restored to him, and was granted a lease of the King’s furnaces at Lydbrook and Parkend. He was also leased areas in the Forest for timber. He now chopped down trees with abandon. Foresters and others were enraged and when knowledge of his actions reached Parliament they made investigations. Wyntour, it was alleged, had reduced the number of trees in the Forest from 30,000 to 200. He denied this, but in 1668 by an Act of Parliament his contract with the Crown was terminated.

Wyntour’s connection with the Forest had ended. His days of power and influence were over. In 1669 he tried unsuccessfully to run a colliery near Coventry. In the same year he relinquished his post of private secretary to the Queen. In 1676 he was said to be of ‘mean and low estate’ – though he still had some ironworks at Lydney.  He died in about 1685.


Military Gov of Gloucs.jpg

They forced Sir John Winter downe the clift into theriver, where a little boate lay to receive him, and convey him thence into the ships, riding within Musket shot of the shore, with many
Musqueteers and great shot. Many tooke the water, some whereof were drowned, and others saved themselves by recovering the boates. Prince Rupert the Patron of this designe, was expected there the next high water, being then upon the river, but extreamely prevented and crossed in the height of his desire and confidence.


World War One – The Cinderford Bridge Pals

Read below Ron Beard’s short article about his father Jim’s experiences in the First World War. If you want to actually hear Jim Beard speak about a couple of his experiences, just click on the links at the end of the article.


This is the story of five young men from Cinderford Bridge who enlisted in December 1915.
The account is based on the words of Jim Beard from a conversation in the 1970s.

The five were Jim Beard, Tom Beard, Arthur Beddis, Buller Turley and Joe Walkley. Tom and Arthur were cousins of Jim, and Buller was his best mate They were probably typical young Foresters; in the 1911 Census four of them were colliery workers and Joe worked for the Crown. Social life was largely based on gathering around the Bridge in their leisure time. Jim and Buller played rugby together – Jim at scrum half and Buller at fly half-and their ambition was to play for Cinderford. They were also ‘rough kids’ as Jim explained, who would fight anybody. In fact they were Christened Edwin and Frederick but their reputation led to their nicknames of Jim and Buller.  Jim after an Irish American boxer – JimTully, and Buller after General Buller of Boer War fame.

Their enlistment came about with the formation of a Pioneer Battalion for the Worcestershire Regiment in the Autumn of 1915.  The Forest of Dean MP, Colonel Sir Henry Webb had previously raised the Forest of Dean Pioneer Battalion for the Gloucestershire Regiment.  He was now called upon to raise, at his own expense a Severn Valley Pioneer Battalion for the Worcester’s.The Five young men decided to enlist for this battalion even though they were under the minimum age of nineteen at the time (each pretended to be one year older).  They first went to Malvern and Norton Barracks Worcestershire before being sent to Larkhill for their basic training.

Jim described the arrival at Larkhill:

Ah Salisbury Plain, … training was…terrible. We was all glad to get to France to get out of it. First
fella we met there the instructor said “Beard, Beard, bist thou any relation to Ned Beard”? I said “Oy”

“I hope thou’s a different soldier to him then… he wouldn’t do nothing at all”; he said him deserted and they never bothered about him… Come to live down at Awre, on the farm there and him stopped there until the War was over.

There were some good points however:

I was there for about six months and best about that was we used to go around Stonehenge which was about a mile…it was voluntary look… run round there and come back and have a cup a tea and a piece of cake. So I volunteered for that and I enjoyed it and all we did from around Cinderford but the townies they wouldn’t do it.

After completion of their training the Battalion was sent to Picardy where they first saw action on November 13th at the Battle of the Ancre (a tributary of the Somme). This was the final battle in the Somme Campaign and the Severn Valley.Pioneers were in support  The attack was led by a Naval Battalion which quickly overwhelmed the German front line but German snipers remained and harassed the British troops:

I was lay in a shell hole there and me mess tin showing at the back,I had two or three bullet holes pumped through that’un, we dursn’t shift,that was a sniper… Our lot had overrunned him and left him behind and him was still potting our fella’s off.

There was, however,  some good fortune for the Cinderford Bridge contingent:

We earned us 100 Francs for saving an Officer’s life, carrying him back from the front line and out of danger… Him had been shot in the lung and couldn’t shift… Him would a died him said, “if you don’t take me back”, him should have to perish, “because I can’t walk”, and our officer gave us permission so him gave us 100 Francs.

In the end all five survived their first action, however Arthur Beddis was shot in the elbow and was transferred to ‘Blighty’from where he was discharged from the army and granted a pension due to his injury.

Shortly afterwards Jim Beard was taken ill with suspected typhoid fever, this proved negative but he was sent back to England and after convalescence in Ireland volunteered to return to France where he was transferred to an infantry battalion. Buller Turley was awarded an MC the following February for participating in a rearguard action, holding off German attackers  to allow the remainder of his battalion to escape.  Unfortunately he was killed in June 1917. He was the only one of the five who lost his life during the hostilities.

Play the audio files below to hear Jim Beard talking to his son, Ron, about his WW1 experiences:


Littledean camp


Hello I'm David Savage a mature student studying at Bristol University. I am carrying out a study of the Littledean Camp.  I am trying to confirm the site landowner between 1066 and 1151; in other words who might have built this fine fortification ?  Any help or guidance would be appreciated.  At the moment I have three possibilities.

Many Thanks David
PS I cannot find any Domesday entry.

Contact through FODLHS Website

“Why is there a small military cemetery adjoining the churchyard at Beachley which is, with a few exceptions, full of the graves of Italian and German soldiers who died in the early years of the second world war. Most were in their early twenties. Were they killed in battle? If so why are their graves here?”


Ruth Richardson