1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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Herbert Sharpes

11th October 1918

Aged 18

53rd Battalion
The Welsh Regiment

10 Ollershaw Lane

Herbert Sharpes was the son of George and Sarah Jane Sharpes, and the third born of six children.

Herbert was working as a Carter delivering coal when he was conscripted to the First World War. He attested at Warrington on the 12th September 1918 aged 18 years, and joined the 53rd Battalion of The Welsh Regiment.

Marston had already seen the deaths of 27 of its lads during the war, and with the talk the war would be over in a matter of weeks, the family must have been confident Herbert would return home, safe and well.
'Welcome to Kinmel'
 Kinmel Camp near Abergele, in the Conwy county borough of Wales.
Kinmel Camp was built in 1915, during the First World War, as a military training camp. The camp was built in a valley between two hills, Engine Hill and Primrose Hill south of the village of Bodelwyddan. The site was largely empty prior to the camp's construction with the only man-made structures in close proximity being abandoned mining buildings. At the time of its construction, it was the largest army camp in Wales. The size of the camp was around 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) by 0.75 kilometres (0.47 mi).

Local residents set up small shops nearby, known as Tintown, where troops could buy basic items. The troops were sometimes given permission to travel by rail to Rhyl for social activities.

The Kinmel Camp Railway served the camp from its construction in 1915 and was later used for a nearby quarry, finally closing in 1964.
'The strange Death of Herbert Sharpes'
Herbert Sharpes started training at Kinmel Camp on the 14th September 1918. On the 8th October Herbert was admitted to the Military Hospital with a severe headache and pains all over. His temperature was 108.
He was given Asprin and diagnosed with Influenza.

Over the next three days, his condition started to deteriorate. His temperature never falling below 105. On the third day, he became delirious and later died due to heart failure. The reason given for his death was: Bronchial Phenomena, complicating Influenza attributable to exposure to infection while training for normal military service, the Spanish Flu.

Herbert was just 18 years of age.

Herbert Sharpes medical report 1918

The conditions at Kinmel Camp were described as "basic" and the soldiers began to grow dissatisfied by their living conditions after several months.

Their chances to be repatriated home were also delayed on more than one occasion when troop carriers, initially designated to them, were used to transport other units home.

An outbreak of influenza, or what became known as the Spanish Flu, also claimed the lives of 80 soldiers at the barracks.

'Problems mount at Kinmel'

In early 1919, small instances of looting broke out in the camp and on the 4th and 5th March 1919, the Kinmel Park mutiny broke out, in which 20,000 war-weary soldiers expressed their anger at their treatment. The riot broke out in the Canadian section of the camp, and lasted for a night and a day. Five men were killed, and 23 were injured.
Four of the five Canadian troops killed during the riot were buried in the graveyard of Bodelwyddan church among other Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorials. Most of the war graves are casualties of the Spanish flu pandemic.
Herbert Sharpes became the 2nd to last Marston Lad to die in The First World War, and in many ways the strangest. On the day Herbert Sharpes died in October 1918, the war was near its end.

In total, 30 Marston Lads would die during the the First World War.

With help from the local community, Herbert Sharpe was brought home to Marston and buried at St Pauls Cemetery, Marston, Northwich, with another Marston Lad, Walter Poole.

St Paul's Cemetery Marston Cheshire England

Tony Hayes