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Victor Kenneth Mallpress

Birth

Victor Kenneth Mallpress was born on March 7, 1890 to William Mallpress and Rosetta Climson. His birth was registered in Skipton. His father moved from Chatteris in Cambridgeshire to Yorkshire, some time between the 1871 and 1881 Censuses. During that time, he had a number of jobs. In the 1881 Census, he was a Gardener in domestic service. At this time Rosetta, who was to become his wife, was a Domestic Servant in Service in Dartford in Kent. On June 9, 1884, they were married at St. Peter’s Parish Church in Harrogate by Reverend Lundy Edward William Foote. At this time William’s occupation was given as a Hairdresser.

The 1891 Census states that both William and his wife Rosetta were 28 years old and lived in Bilton-with-Harrogate. They resided at 23 Regent Avenue, a stone-built terraced house. Victor had two elder brothers at the time, Hubert William (aged five), and Robert Francis (aged three). His father’s occupation was given as a Concert Manager and living at the same address was a lodger, Fred Mills (aged 26) who was a Vocalist.

Early Life

At the time of the 1901 Census, Victor’s mother Rosetta (aged 38) is still recorded as being married, but she is also recorded as being Head of the Household. On August 26, 1911 Victor’s father is described on his son’s marriage certificate as a Hairdresser, but there is no indication that he is deceased. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record states that Victor’s parents were Rosetta Mallpress and the late William Mallpress. Rosetta became a self-employed Laundress working from home whilst bringing up her young family. At this time, Victor’s eldest brother Hubert (aged 15) was a Pupil Teacher and Robert was an Engine Wright at the coal pit. The family were now living at 5 Station Lane, in Birkenshaw, Bradford.

On April 2, 1911, at the time of the 1911 Census, Victor had moved away and was lodging at 44 Oxford Road, in Guiseley with a Mr and Mrs Frankland and two other boarders. The Head of the Household, Arthur Frankland, was the Sub-Postmaster in the district and was also a confectioner. Mrs Frankland is recorded as being an Assistant in the business. It seems likely that they ran the general stores and post office in the area. Victor Kenneth was recorded as being an Elementary School Teacher. Since this was two years before he enrolled at Chester College, it is likely that he became an Elementary School teacher having been a Pupil Teacher.

Chester College

Later that year at the age of 21, Victor enrolled at Chester College. He qualified two years later in 1913 as an Elementary School Teacher and went on to teach in Settle Street School in Lambeth, London. As recorded in The Collegian magazine in 1915, his fellow students remembered him for his violin playing.

Military Service

Victor had already attempted to enter the Army and the Navy Air Services but like many others from the College, he was unsuccessful. Twelve months after leaving Chester College, Victor’s teaching career was cut short when on September 12, 1914, he enlisted for four years in the 23rd Battalion London Regiment of the Territorial Force, as 2876 Private Victor Kenneth Mallpress. At the time, he was living at 14 St. Lawrence Road, in Brixton, London.

For the next six months, Victor was in training with the London Regiment. On March 14, 1915, he embarked from Southampton for France on the ship Copenhagen. They landed at Le Havre the following day, and then marched for the next three days to their rest camp at Arques. They then continued marching to Lespesses, arriving on the March 19, and then on to St. Hilaire arriving on the March 20/21. There then followed an intensive week of training including drill, fire control, digging and filling in trenches and bayonet fighting - not forgetting the Divine Service, which all soldiers had to attend. At the end of the week the Battalion then marched again to Labeuvriere for more training in musketry and sniping.

On April 8, 1915, the Battalion was on the march again, this time to Oblinghem where they stayed for further training for three days before moving on to Les Glaugmes, entering the trenches with the 1st Guards Brigade (Black Watch, Coldstream Guards, Cameron Highlanders and London Scottish) on April 11. After just over a week, sustaining some casualties (two killed and 11 wounded) the Battalion left the trenches at 8.30pm and billeted at Mesplaux and Les Facons. After more weeks of marching to Allouagne the Battalion re-entered the trenches at Rue du Bois at 6.30pm on April 24. The Battalion war diaries then go into further details of life in the trenches over the next few days, including training in using telescopic sights with their rifles, breakfast, parades, drill and even leaving the trenches for a short time to bath in a nearby canal.

On May 11, the 23rd Battalion marched to Le Preol for four days, then on to Beuvry on May 22, and then back in the trenches at Givenchy. On May 25, 1915, the Battalion received orders to attack the German trenches at J.7 200 yards south of their position. Victor’s Battalion attacked just north of the Hamlet of Givenchy. Going over the top with bayonets they took and held the German front line capturing and occupying the German trench. However conditions were so bad that they were confined to a narrow section of the trench and when the German troops regrouped they attacked from either end of the trench using machine guns and inflicted very heavy casualties on the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment. The Battalion incurred 499 casualties, including three officers who were killed or wounded. Amongst the soldiers who were killed was Victor.

Lest We Forget

On June 10, 1915, Victor was declared as “Missing in Action - Presumed Dead”, aged just 25.

Post Mortem

Victor was awarded the British War and Victory Medals together with the Star Medal and his affects were delivered to his mother, Rosetta, on June 1, 1920 at 9 Southfield Terrace, in Birkenshaw, Bradford.

In 1915, it was reported in The Collegian magazine that Victor’s brother Robert, who was in Northern France, was able to make direct enquires. Victor was officially reported as unaccounted for, but further enquiry led him to two men who were with Victor when he died. Tragically, on June 15, 1915, less than a week after Robert found out about Victor, he was also killed in action. He was a Sergeant in the Yorkshire Regiment and was aged 28 when he died, leaving his widow, Alice.

Sadly, no graves exist for Victor or his brother Robert. There is a memorial to the fallen at Le Touret Military Cemetery, in Richebourg L’Avoue. Their names are inscribed on a panel in the archways at Le Touret. Also, Victor Kenneth and his brother Robert Francis are both remembered on the Memorial Rood Screen at St Paul’s Church, in Birkenshaw.