The Fighting Atkinsons - A Sheffield Family

In October 2010  I was contacted by someone who had come across this web-site. She stated

" I've attached a copy of the postcard I have but I'm afraid I have no further information or reason why we should have this.

We have started to sort through my late mothers personal documents and in doing so started to build up a bit of the family history and tree.  My second cousin forwarded the other attachment to me.  It was her grandmothers side of the family and we guess would have been in The Star in the late forties perhaps.  We have a little info on some but not all, of the people in the photo.  My grandfather was Colin Colgrave."

The postcard related to the Moscar Tragedy of 1907 in which three people were killed when a charabanc crashed during an outing in Derbyshire. It was Sheffield's first major motor accident. But the second attachment was altogether different. It had no connection with the postcard but instead was a cutting from a local newspaper that was from the 1940's. It is reproduced below

The last sentence immediately grabbed my attention. The late Sgt Loosemore, is also the subject of an article on this website - Arnold is probably one of Sheffield's most decorated soldiers in that he was awarded both the Victoria Cross (VC) and the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his actions in the First World War. I am unsure of the Berkshire link at the moment, but given the information on the cutting I thought it may be of benefit to someone if I could add some more information about the "Fighting Atkinson's" 

COLIN COLGRAVE (1892-1916)

Colin and Mary Colgrave (nee Willoughby)

Acting. Corporal. Colin COLGRAVE
Service Number: 16818
Birthplace: Sharrow Yorkshire
Enlisted: Sheffield
Battalion: 6th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment
Service Notes: Attested 25 January 1915 - Posted to 9th Battalion from Depot 05 February 1915 - 9th Battalion Appointed paid Lance Corporal 15 June 1915 - 6th Battalion. CWGC - 6th Battalion El Ferdan 07 June 1916 Rejoined Gun Shot Wound Fractured Femur 27 September 1916 Died of Wounds 29 September 1916 Documents (Available)
Died: Died of Wounds 29 September 1916
Memorial: Buried Boulogne Eastern Cemetery grave VIIC159.
Next of Kin: Son of Thomas & Mary Ann Colgrave. Husband of Mary Colgrave of Sandwath Cottage Town End Eyam Sheffield.

16818 Cpl Colin Colgrave East Yorks. The brother of Joseph Colgrave DCM served in 6th (Service) Bn East Yorkshire Regt. The Regt formed up on 21 August 1914 at Beverley, Yorkshire in response to Lord Kitchener's appeal for volunteers. The Battalion became part of 32nd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division, a New Army formation. In common with all the Kitchener "Pals" Battalions raised in Aug-Sep 1914 they had no structure, uniforms or weapons at the outset -just an overwhelming desire to do the right thing. In Dec 1914 the Battalion became the Pioneer Battalion of the Division.

By the spring of 1915 11th Division was judged fit to enter the ORBAT (Order of Battle) and sailed for Gallipoli on 1 July 1915 to reinforce the beleaguered beachhead on the Dardanelles. 6 East Yorks landed at Suvla Bay on 7 Aug 1915 under fire coinciding with the ANZAC assault on Chunuk Bair. The Battalion took part in the vicious fighting on the peninsular for the following 5 months. Over 200,000 British and Empire casualties were suffered at Gallipoli and on 11 Dec 1915 11th (Northern) Division withdrew from the Helles Bridgehead to Egypt. In July 1916 the Division was sent to France and landed in Marseilles.

On 26 Sep 1916 6th East Yorks were in action on Thiepval Ridge during the Third phase of the Battle of the Somme. The Battalion  was tasked with taking Mouquet Farm. Colin Colgrave was a Section Commander in 16 Platoon, D Coy under command of Lt M Coultas.

The Platoon was tasked with digging a communication trench from Mouquet Road along Midway towards Hessian Trench. However they could not start work as they were under fire from enemy still in Mouquet Farm. Lt Coultas decided to attack the farm and the Platoon was involved in four hours fierce fighting before one German officer and 35 of his men surrendered. Lt Coultas, aged 22 and from Grantham, was KIA and among the wounded was Cororal Colgrave. He sustained a Gun Shot Wound to the thigh which fractured his femur. He was evacuated to No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Boulogne but his wound was infected with gas-gangrene and he died at 03.00 hrs on 29 Sep 1916 aged 24 yrs. He is buried in the Boulogne East Military Cemetery.

Awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.


There's a famous depiction of the actions of Cpl. Joseph Colgrave, DCM that appeared in a contemporary publication. It reads

 Lance-Corporal Colgrave Rallying Indian Troops And Leading Them Into Action At Hollebeke.

On October 30th 1914, Colgrave's regiment, the 5th Lancers, was extremely hard pressed near Hollebeke and a battalion of Indian infantry was sent up to support them. Their battalion came under an extremely heavy fire and soon lost all its officers, while the men, leaderless and shaken, became demoralised. Colgrave, retiring with a scattered body of Indians, rallied them and led them back in time to shatter the German infantry attack. He then rallied other bodies and also carried a wounded officer into safety, services for which he received the D.C.M.


Portrait of Joe Colgrave DCM

7335 Lance Sgt Joseph Colgrave DCM 5th Lancers.
He joined the Army at the age of 18yrs in Beverley, Yorkshire and enlisted into the East Yorkshire Regt on 6 Aug 1898. Pte Colgrave was posted to the 2nd Battalion which was stationed at Templemore in Ireland. On 17 Nov 1900 he transferred to the Cavalry and joined the 12th Lancers stationed in Hounslow and Aldershot. On 13 Mar 1901 he sailed with the Regiment to South Africa. The 12th Lancers saw action during the Boer War in the Cape and the Transvaal. On 21 Sep 1902 the Regiment was posted to India. Trooper Colgrave was promoted to Lance Corporal on 27
Dec 1902. He remained in India until 25 Jan 1906. On his return to UK he was posted to the 5th Lancers before he transferred to the Army Reserve relinquishing his stripe, effective from 6 August 1906. On 4 August 1914 he was recalled to the colours. He rejoined 5th Lancers and proceeded with the Regt to France from Dublin with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in August 1914 as part of third Cavalry Brigade (5th Royal Irish Lancers, 4th Hussars and 16th Lancers), Brigadier Gough commanding. The 5th Lancers were in action at Mons, where they were the last Regiment to withdraw. During the Retreat 5th Lancers took part in the Battles of Le Cateau and the Marne, where the Germans were halted before Paris. They then took part in the advance to the Aisne.

Sheffield Daily Independent dated 13th January 1915

Tpr Colgrave was awarded a Mention in Despatches and Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry and leadership in the face of the enemy during the First Battle of Ypres at Hollebeke on Messines Ridge on 30th October 1914, Gazetted on 16th Jan 1915: "On 30th October 1914 near Hollebeke, showed great presence of mind and coolness during an emergency in rallying several bodies of Indian troops who had lost their officers".
He was promoted again to LCpl on 12 Nov 1914. The 5th Lancers fought dismounted at the Battle of Loos and in the trenches throughout the war
mainly in the Ypres Salient but were also held in readiness for the breakthrough which did not come until 1918. On 3 Mar 1916 he was promoted to Cpl. On 25 Mar 1917 he was posted back to UK into the 1st Reserve Regt Lancers where he remained as an instructor and on 19 November
1917 was promoted to LSgt. He was a qualified bombing instructor. LSgt Colgrave DCM was transferred to the Reserve on 22 May 1919. He joined
the Home Guard on the outbreak of the Second World War. LSgt Colgrave DCM had 20 yrs Regular and Reserve service.

Awarded DCM, MiD, Queens South Africa Medal clasps Cape Colony and Transvaal, King's South Africa Medal clasps 1901 and 1902, 1914 Star
clasp 5Aug-29Nov, British War Medal, Victory Medal, and Defence Medal 1945.

Joseph died whilst attending attending an ex-service-mens and womens review in Hyde Park London in July 1953. This report is from the Evening News and Express dated 6th July 1953  




Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Unit Text: 5th Bn.
Age: 24
Date of Death: 11/11/1918
Service No: 12222
Additional information: Husband of Annie Maria Atkinson, of 51, Plum Lane, Sheffield.

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. A. 14. Cemetery: SOLESMES BRITISH CEMETERY


Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 04/07/1916
Service No: 5/4139
Additional information: Son of Mrs. A. Hurt, of 22, Fleet St., Alfred Rd., Brightside Lane, Sheffield.
Grave/Memorial Reference: VI. A. 1. Cemetery: CONNAUGHT CEMETERY, THIEPVAL


Surname First name(s) Age District Vol Page
Births Jun 1892 Colgrave Colin Ecclesall Bierlow. 9c 403

Surname First name(s) Mother/Spouse/Age District Vol Page
Marriages Jun 1912 Colgrave Colin Willoughby Mary Ecclesall Bierlow. 9c 616

Surname First name(s) Mother/Spouse/Age District Vol Page
Births Dec 1914 Colgrave Colin Willoughby Ecclesall B. 9c 878

Location Information: Solesmes is a town some 18 kilometres east of Cambrai, or 9 kilometres north-west of Le Cateau. Solesmes British Cemetery is on the south-west outskirts of the town, beside the road (D113) to Quievy, behind the old railway station.
Historical Information: The 2nd South Lancashires and the 1st Wiltshires (rearguard units of the 7th Brigade, 3rd Division) were attacked at Solesmes on the evening of 25 August 1914, as the British Expeditionary Force retreated from Mons. On 19-21 October 1918, the 62nd (West Riding) Division, followed by the 61st (South Midland) Division, captured and cleared the town after severe fighting in the streets. Solesmes British Cemetery was begun by the 4th and 34th Casualty Clearing Stations in November 1918 and used by them until March 1919. The cemetery contains 138 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, and two war graves of other nationalties. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.

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This page was last updated on 11/10/16 17:49