Arthur Haskins 1886 – 1918

This Biography was written by Stephen Roberts and appears by Permission of Julie Hazler for whom it was originally written.

Arthur Haskins belonged to a well-known Hoylake business family who originated in the south of England. He served in a London regiment and was killed at the relatively advanced age of 32 during the first day of the Battle of the Aisne on 27 May 1918. Arthur’s service records have not survived, so this biography has been constructed using a variety of other primary and secondary sources which will be explained as we come across them.


Continue reading “Arthur Haskins 1886 – 1918”


William Denys Samuelson



This post was written by Stephen Roberts

William Denys Samuelson was a middle-class young man residing in Hoylake at the time of the Great War, who, as the descendant of a prosperous Liverpool business family, is typical of many of the people recorded on the Grange Hill War Memorial. As far as I am aware, however, he is our first soldier with known Jewish heritage – a fact which is further evidence of the diversity of Merseyside’s population at that time. 

Continue reading “William Denys Samuelson”

Battle of Givenchy Centenary Tour: Saturday 7th to Wednesday 11th April 2018

‘… the atmosphere that was created was very moving’ – comment by a year 9 pupil after a trip to the Somme, July 2016

55 Rose


The Hundredth Anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Givenchy – when the 55th (West Lancashire) Division fought off a massive German attack – will occur on 9th April 2018. It will be a good moment to visit the ground upon which so many soldiers from the North-West of England fought and are commemorated.


We will explore the landscape by either minibus or small coach (depending upon numbers) and on foot, taking in remnants of the battlefield and the many associated memorials and cemeteries. Real soldiers’ stories will be woven into our visits, giving many opportunities for discussion, reflection and commemoration. Continue reading “Battle of Givenchy Centenary Tour: Saturday 7th to Wednesday 11th April 2018”

Robert Francis Loder-Symonds

I am re-posting this due to having added an extract from the West Kirby News which tells us why Captain Loder Symonds was so well remembered in West Kirby.

An Imperishable Record

Robert Francis Loder-Symonds

Gail Brumfitt wrote this biography over two years ago. At that time, Gail commented that a connection between Captain Loder-Symonds and the West Kirby area had not been found. Since then, Heather Chapman has kindly made digital copies of “The West Kirby News” available to the research team and the following article was discovered, dated 5th September 1914:

32-1914-sep-5-war1 West Kirby News 5th September 1914: Captain Loder Symonds leaves West Kirby

Captain Loder Symonds clearly made a very positive impression on the local populace. It is remarkable that, over eight years after his departure from the district, following a short stay, he was still remembered by people who had proposed putting his name on the war memorial. It says a lot about the man, but also reminds us of the vagaries of the decision making process about who would actually be commemorated in the post war years.


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Research and Guiding Services Offered By The Founder of the Website

Dear Reader,

Stephen Roberts
Stephen Roberts

I have been a history teacher for over 30 years, but beginning at the end of July this year, I will be starting a new phase in my career: I am investing the skills and knowledge I have acquired as the result of being a trained historian, teacher, researcher and author into a small business which provides a unique combination of services.

You might have enjoyed reading the biographies on this website which have been written either by myself or by one of my colleagues. I can write biographies of your ancestors using the same resources and more. I offer a professional and friendly service at prices which are affordable and graduated according to the size of the biography which the available sources make it possible to write. Have a look at my business website for more details or ask me about it directly via email (address at the bottom of the page).

I am also a battlefield guide: I plan and lead bespoke tours, for groups of any size, to any of the historic places in Northern France and Belgium, but especially to those associated with the Great War. It might be that you would like to retrace the steps of an ancestor or military unit or that you would like to learn about particular battles or see certain memorials. Simply discuss your ideas with me and I will arrange a suitable package for you.

Trenches at Auchonvillers, Somme
Trenches at Auchonvillers, Somme

I love the history and landscape of Britain and enjoy organising fascinating and personalised tours of British battlefields and historic sites. I have a special interest in the Romans in the North of England and can arrange tours of Hadrian’s Wall as well as of Roman towns such as Chester. Other areas of expertise include the English Civil War, The Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745 and the impact of the Slave Trade on the North West of England. If you live overseas and are hoping to visit the U.K and to take in some of our rich history and heritage, I will be delighted to create an itinerary for you and, if you wish, to act as a guide. Essentially, I am keen to discuss any needs you might have. Please feel free to get in touch.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall

In addition, I offer my services as a historical researcher capable of tackling any subject in which you might be interested. Simply email me with details of requirements at: or follow the link to my business website.

Thank you for reading this page. I hope to hear from you soon.

All the Best,

Stephen Roberts


Put these dates in your diary:

Saturday 19th March: meet at the Grange Hill War Memorial at 10.00 hours for a guided walk of the landscapes, memorials and buildings associated with local experiences of the Great War 0f 1914-18 in WEST KIRBYDSC01809DSC01849

Sunday 20th March: meet at Holy Trinity Church Yard on Trinity Road, Hoylake at 11.00 hours for a guided walk of the landscapes, memorials and buildings associated with local experiences of the Great War in HOYLAKE.

Both walks will be conducted by contributors to this blog: Stephen Roberts, Carol Hunter and Frank Sherratt whose knowledge is based on extensive primary research2014-04-16 21.22.34

Each walk will last no longer than two hours.  

Each participant will be asked to make a contribution of £5 towards the Army Benevolent Fund – Soldiers’ Charity.

There is no need to book, just turn up on the day.

Contact: for further information

Harold Reginald Crighton

This biography was written by Stephen Roberts.


Harold’s name appears on the Loos Memorial to the Missing – a site which is associated with the appalling battles which occurred in that area during 1915, when the British Army was in the early stages of mastering its craft on the Western Front. It is famous for bearing the name of Captain Fergus Bowes Lyon of the 8th Black Watch (1889-1915), brother of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and the grave of John Kipling (1897-1915), son of Rudyard Kipling, the Poet Laureate. However, Harold was killed in April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, which eventually exhausted the Kaiser’s Army and enabled the final Allied Victory in November. Harold has no known grave. Indeed, a note on his service papers, dated 6th July 1918, states, ‘We have no record of this officer’s body having been recovered.’ If he ever had been buried in one piece, his resting place had probably been destroyed by subsequent fighting and bombardments. Continue reading “Harold Reginald Crighton”

George Woods

The following biography was written by Stephen Roberts with help from Derek Longman and Carol Hunter, who are both related to him.

George belonged to a working class Hoylake family whose maternal roots can be traced back to the parish of Woodchurch during the 17th century. He was a Cheshire Bantam who died during the third week of the Battle of the Somme.


Cheshire Regiment Cap Badge
Cheshire Regiment Cap Badge

George’s birth was registered in the January quarter of 1896 in Wirral. His parents were Charles Philip Woods (1868-1943) and Harriet Jane Sherlock (1870-1947). As many readers will be aware, Sherlock is a quintessential Wirral surname. According to the Henrician Lay Subsidy Roll of 1545, it was actually the joint ninth most common name in Wirral along with Coke/Cook and Forshaw. Public members’ family trees on the website inform us that George’s earliest known Sherlock ancestor was Richard (1674-1737) who married a bearer of another well known Wirral surname, Jane Silcock (1675-1737) of Woodchurch. Other surnames appearing in George’s Sherlock lineage include Jones, Linekar and Jessett. Continue reading “George Woods”

Harry Davies and James Collingwood Evans

Today is the 100th anniversary of James’s Death at the Battle of Hooge.

An Imperishable Record

The following biographies were written by Victoria Doran, who is working her way through all the casualties from West Kirby. Harry and Jimmy are grouped together simply because of their proximity to each other on the Grange Hill Memorial. They were not related.


Harry Davies Harry Davies

Although having a surname that is common in the area, Harry Davies was not related to any of the other Davies families in Wirral. Very little is known with any accuracy about him;  even his name and birth year are not known for certain. He is likely to have been born between 1876 and 1879, making him amongst the oldest of the soldiers who died from the area. He was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire and seems to have been called Harry, though at the 1911 census and at his marriage he is recorded as Henry. He was a house painter by occupation, and…

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Bryden McKinnell

Today is the 100th anniversary of Bryden’s Death.

An Imperishable Record

Bryden McKinnell

Bryden McKinnell Bryden McKinnell

Bryden McKinnell was reperesentative of a very specific type of local Great War casualty – an Anglo-Scot from a privileged upper middle class family, who had acquired its wealth through business both in Scotland and on Merseyside, and a proud, brave and committed Territorial Soldier who died leading his men on the Western Front.

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