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The Nessworthys at war

by Anne Brooks and Alan D Craxford


It would appear that the NESSWORTHY family placed high value on service to their county. In our researches we have come across several sources of information that document the sacrifice, acts of gallantry and military awards of individuals who enrolled in the Armed Forces and the allied services. This article is restricted to the Great War (1914 - 1918)

Their names liveth for evermore

There are four Nessworthys listed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database who died during the first world war. Each entry gives personal details and an In Memoriam certificate.

Private A Nessworthy

Varennes Military Cemetery, France

Varennes Military Cemetery, France

Private Ambrose Nessworthy (63720) served with the 9th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in France. He died aged 18 years on September 10th 1918. He was the son of Robert and Jane Nessworthy, of South Shields. He is buried at the Varennes Military Cemetery, France

"Varennes is a village 11 kilometres from Albert and 18 kilometres from Amiens, France. The cemetery was laid out by the 39th Casualty Clearing Station in August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, but the first burials were made during August and September by more mobile divisional field ambulances. The 4th and 11th Casualty Clearing Stations then used the cemetery from October 1916, joined by the 47th from December 1916, but by May 1917 Varennes was deserted and remained so until the Germans launched their offensive in this quarter in April 1918. The cemetery was then extended by the 17th and 38th (Welsh) Divisions by the addition of plots II and III, and at the beginning of September 1918, the 3rd Canadian and 59th Casualty Clearing Stations arrived at Varennes. The cemetery contains 1,219 burials of the First World War"

George Matthews Nessworthy

The Tower Hill Memorial, London

Tower Hill Memorial, London

George Nessworthy was a member of the Mercantile Marine and was serving as Third Engineer on board the S.S. "Lonada" (London). He died at the age of 29 years on December 29th 1916. He was the son of Matthew and Elizabeth Nessworthy. He was married to Margaret Langley and lived at 401, South Palmerston St., South Shields. He is commemorated at the Tower Hill Memorial, in Trinity Square, London

"The Tower Hill Memorial commemorates men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars and who have no known grave. It stands on the south side of the garden of Trinity Square, London, close to The Tower of London. In the First World War, the civilian navy's duty was to be the supply service of the Royal Navy, to transport troops and supplies to the armies, to transport raw materials to overseas munitions factories and munitions from those factories, to maintain, on a reduced scale, the ordinary import and export trade, to supply food to the home country and - in spite of greatly enlarged risks and responsibilities - to provide both personnel and ships to supplement the existing resources of the Royal Navy. Losses of vessels were high from the outset, but had peaked in 1917 when in January the German government announced the adoption of "unrestricted submarine warfare". The First World War section of the Tower Hill Memorial commemorates almost 12,000 Mercantile Marine casualties who have no grave but the sea."

Private M. Nessworthy

TyneCot Cemetery, Zonnebeekseweg, Belgium

TyneCot Cemetery, Zonnebeekseweg, Belgium

Matthew Nessworthy (10134) served in the 1st Battalion of East Lancashire Regiment. He is buried at the 'Tyne Cot' Cemetery in Belgium.

A cutting from a local newspaper at the time recorded: "NESWORTHY Matthew (Lance corporal) Died of wounds received in action on May 17th 1915 aged 24 years 1st East Lancashire Regiment. Son of Mr & Mrs Robert Nessworthy 42 Wellington Street Mourned by his parents, sister, brothers, grandmother, aunts and uncles and Gertie and little Ethel."

"Tyne Cot Cemetery is located 9 kilometres north east of Ieper town centre, on the Tynecotstraat, a road leading from the Zonnebeekseweg (N332). 'Tyne Cot' or 'Tyne Cottage' was the name given by the Northumberland Fusiliers to a barn which stood near the level crossing on the Passchendaele-Broodseinde road. The barn, which had become the centre of five or six German blockhouses, or pill-boxes, was captured by the 2nd Australian Division on 4 October 1917, in the advance on Passchendaele. One of these pill-boxes was unusually large and was used as an advanced dressing station after its capture. From 6 October to the end of March 1918, 343 graves were made, on two sides of it, by the 50th (Northumbrian) and 33rd Divisions, and by two Canadian units. The cemetery was in German hands again from 13 April to 28 September, when it was finally recaptured, with Passchendaele, by the Belgian Army. TYNE COT CEMETERY was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck, and from a few small burial grounds. It is now the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials. At the suggestion of King George V, who visited the cemetery in 1922, the Cross of Sacrifice was placed on the original large pill-box. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker."

Continued in column 2...

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Private Robert R. Nessworthy

The Ploegsteert Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

The Ploegsteert Memorial, Ieper

Robert Nessworthy (9785) served with the first 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. He died on October 20th 1914. He is commemorated at Ploegsteert Memorial.

"The Ploegsteert Memorial stands in Berks Cemetery Extension, which is located 12.5 kilometres south of Ieper town centre. It commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille. Those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere. The cemetery, cemetery extension and memorial were designed by H Chalton Bradshaw, with sculpture by Gilbert Ledward."

Images and italicised text in this section (c) The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (1)

A medal for gallantry

W.R. Nessworthy

Daily Telegraph photograph: Private W.R. Nessworthy

Pte WR Nessworthy

"Among the local honours list is Private W. R. Nessworthy, D.L.I., 30 Wellington Street, South Shields, who has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near Le Sars. According to the official statement, Private Nessworthy is coupled with another comrade in the performance of a great act of bravery which has won this distinction. The other recipient is Lance-Corporal T. Brown, also of the D.L.I. This N.C.O. is a Lewis gunner. During the attack on the sunken road on the 8th of October, 1916, all his gun teams were either killed or wounded. With the assistance of Private Nessworthy he went forward and swept the road, thereby covering the advance of his company. All the while they were exposed to the enemy’s fire. Private Nessworthy was a cartman at Messrs. Brigham and Cowan’s before he joined the army. About a year ago he was gassed and was in hospital for some time."

The Daily Telegraph. November 1917

The Military Medal was instituted in March 1916 as an award for non-officer rank of the Army for acts of bravery. All medals are issued named with the recipient's details impressed around the rim. (2)

A medal listing

The following is a list of those who received medals for their contributions during World War 1.

The Military Medal

The Military Medal

  • Nessworthy, John, Army Service Corps, Regiment No. T4/041076, Driver.
  • Nessworthy, James, Durham Light Infantry, Regiment No. 7/3765, Private
  • Nessworthy, Frederick, Highland Light Infantry, Regiment No. 22811, Lance Corporal
  • Nessworthy, Charles H., Lincolnshire Regiment, Regiment No. 33585, Private
  • Nessworthy, Ambrose, Northumberland Fusiliers, Regiment No. 78210, Private
  • Nessworthy, William R., Durham Light Infantry, Regiment No. 14246, Private
  • Nessworthy, William, Durham Light Infantry, Regiment No. 38928, Private
  • Nessworthy, Thomas M., Royal Garrison Artillery, Regiment No. 138813, Gunner
  • Nessworthy, Thomas, East Yorkshire Regiment, Regiment No. 9785, Private
  • Nessworthy, Robert, Durham Light Infantry, Regiment No. 39700, Private
  • Nessworthy, Matthew, East Lancashire Regiment, Regiment No. 10134, Private
  • Nessworthy, Matthew, Royal Engineers Transport, Regiment No. 745, Sapper
  • Nessworthy, James H., King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, Regiment No. 36320, Private

Source: The National Archives: Documents Online. (3)


1. Notes on cemeteries and commemorations The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2. Steven's Study Room. Medals for Gallantry: British Military & Criminal History in the period 1900 to 1999
3. The National Archive. Documents on line

Added October 10th 2005
Last updated: March 20th 2012

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