Reginald was born in Swavesey Cambridgeshire in 1885. His father was William Ransom Benton, a Harness Maker, his mother was Elizabeth.
According to the 1891 census all had been born in Swavesey including by this time a daughter called May**. In 1885 Reginald was six years old and his sister May was 2 years old.
Swavesey is a village in Cambridgeshire. The village is situated 9 miles to the north west of Cambridge and 3 miles south east of St Ives
The family must have left Swavesey sometime between 1889 and 1891 by the time of the census they were living in Woodburn Road Sheffield.
Woodburn Road is on the edge of Attercliffe and Darnall in Sheffield. It must have been a big change for the family coming from a small village to a bustling industrial city.
Sheffield has long been famous for its cutlery. It has also manufactures of almost every description, of iron, steel, and brass; and in connection with these it has numerous extensive iron and brass foundries, grinding, tilting, rolling, and slitting mills, &c. The branches of manufacture include steel, mostly made from Swedish iron; armour-plates for ships of war; rails, wheels, and all other castings for fixed or rolling stock; stoves, grates, fenders; plated goods; Britannia-metal goods; and optical instruments, including spectacles. Description of Sheffield taken from here
As you can see from the census the enumerator has put the family name down as Barton. I am positive it is the correct family as William is still Harness Maker and the family are listed as coming from Cambridgeshire.
In 1891 Reginald is 6 and his sister May is 2. I would imagine Reginald was at school in Sheffield, but I have not been able to trace any records to confirm this.
By 1901 the family are living at Industry Road Attercliffe cum Bramall. In 2018 Industry Road is listed in Darnall.
Reginald’s father is still a harness maker but Reginald who is now 16 is working as a gardener. The family has grown and Reginald now has four younger sisters.
**William Benton – Reginald’s father – had indeed come up to Sheffield from Cambridgeshire as a leather worker and harness maker. I understand he worked making leather straps and other items that drove large machinery in a range of works in Sheffield. They moved out to Dronfield for the clean air as his wife suffered from the dirty air in and around Industry Rd Attercliffe/Darnall.
When they were in the countryside outside Sheffield it was much better, though William had to find other work to do – he became a cobbler of sorts and even made leather sandals for the eccentric Edward Carpenter who lived in the Derbyshire countryside at Millthorpe. See the following link – which shows the sandals! http://www.totleyhistorygroup.org.uk/people-of-interest/edward-carpenter **
(Excerpt from Sophie Burrows information)
On December 25th 1908 Reginald marries Sarah Ward at Dronfield Parish Church. His occupation is given as labourer and his father is now classed as a Saddler.
Their first child Wilfred is born in 1909 and baptised at Dronfield Church their address is given as Coal Aston.
Sadly, Wilfred died in 1910.
The 1911 census shows that the couple are living at Eckington Road Coal Aston and Reginald is a general labourer. As you can see the couple have now had a second child Thomas William who was born 8th October 1910.
He was baptised at Dronfield December 31st 1910.
On 10th November 1912 the couple had another son Harold Randall and he too was baptised at Dronfield on December 21st 1912, Reginald is still working as a labourer.
I was kindly sent a photograph of Harold Randall Benton by his granddaughter Anita Cox (nee Benton).
Reginald enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers his service number was 17243.
Unfortunately, Reginald’s Service records haven’t survived but according to his medal card he arrived in France on 8th September 1915.
Between November 1915 and February 1916 the 2nd Battalion were attached to the 36th Ulster division and they spent most of this period near Abbeville, where they continued with their training.
There is a newspaper report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 8th January 1916, which states ‘Private Reginald Benton Lancashire Fusiliers, formerly employed at Sheepbridge Ironworks is in hospital. He was wounded while filling sandbags’ It highlights just how dangerous even everyday tasks were for the men.
In February 1916 they returned to the 4th Division and took part in the Battle for Albert 1st -13th July 1916 (more information can be read about this at) and the Battle of the Transloy Ridges 1st – 20th October 1916. This was the last offensive mounted by the 4tDivision during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Further information can be found here#
Reginald died of his wounds on 18th October 1916, quite possibly in the Battle of Le Transloy, he was 34 years old. Reginald was actually 31 years old when he died although many records state he was 34 **
There is a very descriptive report of the problems that the Division faced during this Battle and the full report can be seen below.
Reginald is buried at Grove town Cemetery Meaulte.
Reginalds Grave Stone at Meaulte Cemetery picture courtesy Sophie Burrows
Pictures courtesy of Sophie Burrows
Cemetery details can be seen at according to the Grave Registration report at the time of his death his wife was living at 3a Queens Terrace Johnson Street Sheepbridge. Unfortunately, there are no records to check when the family actually moved there.
It states Reginald was a native of Dronfield Woodhouse but as previously mentioned he was born in Cambridgeshire, although he did live in the Dronfield area for quite a while.
As you can see from the medal card Reginald was awarded the Victory and British War Medal together with the 14/15 Star. However, it does state that the medals were returned. Below is an explanation of the reference numbers on the medal card.
Para 1743 Kings Regulations 1912
Disposal of unclaimed medals
Medals which, at the end of 10 years, still remain unclaimed, will be sent to the India Office (if granted for Indian service), or to the deputy director of ordnance stores, Royal Dockyard (Medal Branch), Woolwich (if granted for other service) to be broken up.
8029/Adt is an internal reference for a document that probably was sent with his and other medals.
It is possible that Mrs Benton could have moved to a different address and not let the Regiment know, it is very sad though if the medals were just broken up!
Reginald is remembered on Old Whittington, the Brushes and Coal Aston War Memorials and also remembered on Dronfield Roll of Honour at Dronfield Parish Church.
His wife remarried in 1917 to a George Gill (as the WW1 medals were not issued until the end of the War then it is more likely that the Regiment didn’t have Mrs Bentons address)and in 1939 they were living at Fraser Road Sheffield with Sarah’s youngest son Harold and his wife Freda. Sarah had two further children with George, Hilda and Donald.
As for Thomas, Reginald’s eldest son, he married Doris E Maris in Sheffield in 1937. (Confirmed by Reginalds great grand daughter).
**Updated 5th November 2018. Sophie Burrows great niece of Reginald, who lives in Australia, kindly supplied the information and the photos of Reginald’s final resting place.