Friends of Hastings Cemetery
Eliza Stevens was born in Robertsbridge, her husband, William Thomas Stevens in Hastings. In 1901 they were living at 7 Cornfield Terrace Hastings with their four children. William was a journeyman.
George Frederick Stevens was a Rifleman with the 9th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial. After his death his father received the following letter from Second Lieutenant C. R. Hollway, who had been involved in the battle. It sounds as though William was in the Army as well, although at his age he would have been in the reserve. The Hastings Observer reported as follows:
Sergeant W. Stevens, 141 Emmanuel Rd, Hastings has received the sad news of the death of his son. The intelligence is conveyed in a letter from his platoon commander Second Lieutenant C. R. Hollway.
The officer says ‘‘I am afraid I have some very bad news indeed to write to you. Your relative, No. 9891 Rifleman Stevens, was killed in action on the morning of 25th. He died a soldier’s death in the execution of his duty. On the morning of the 25th our battalion took part in an attack on the German trenches. Another regiment had already succeeded in capturing two lines of German trenches when we received orders to advance and support them. We did so, and my platoon in which Rifleman Stevens was, was one of the first two to advance when we received orders to prepare the position for defence. This we did under very heavy shellfire. The Platoon Sergeant organised a small party, of which Rifleman Stevens was one to dig a trench back to our own lines in order to afford cover for reinforcements. Whilst they were at work a shell burst in the middle of the party, killing Rifleman Stevens and the Platoon Sergeant and wounding the rest. Death was instantaneous and must therefore have been painless. I am very sorry indeed to lose Rifleman Stevens. He was on police duty whilst he was in the Rest Camps so I did not see as much of him as I would have liked but whenever he was under my orders he was a cheerful and willing worker, and he was much like by his comrades. He was a great loss to the Company. Still he died the finest death there is today: a soldier’s death in action in a captured enemy position, at work to provide cover for his comrades.’’
The CWGC records that George Frederick Stevens was the son of William Thomas and Eliza Stevens of John’s Cross, Robertsbridge.
‘In loving memory of
the beloved wife of W T Stevens
who died 15/6/1906 age 43
Also of George
second son of the above
who fell in action near Loos France 25/9/1915
Gone but not forgotten.’