Christopher Loomes was born on 10th February 1892. His mother was Mary Eccles and his father Thomas Loomes. Christopher had two older sisters, Elizabeth and Annie and three older brothers Robert, Thomas and Joseph. Later there was another son in the Loomes family, Arthur.
Sadly, Christopher’s father died whilst he was still quite young, and his mother married Thomas Leggitt on 23rd September 1895 at Old Whittington Church.
Christopher started school on 25th September 1895 at the same time as his older brother Joseph.
The boys attended Websters Endowed School on Church Street.
By 1901 the family were living at Church Street Old Whittington and there were now two further children, Charles and Rhuben Leggitt.
Not long after the 1901 census was taken Mary Leggitt died and husband Thomas was left to bring up the boys alone.
By the time of the 1911 census Christopher had left home and was living at Dronfield. He was a boarder in the house of William Goodlad at 3 Mill Lane Dronfield and his occupation was given as a builders labourer.
In January 1912 Christopher made a big change to his life and enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters. His Short Service Attestation form shows he was 19 years and 11 months when he enlisted. Luckily, in the case of Christopher, there is nearly a complete set of legible Service records.
From his description form below it is easy to get a picture of how Christopher would have looked on enlistment. For some reason this particular form is dated 1911, however all other documents imply he enlisted in 1912. Perhaps it was just human error!
As far as I can check from the records Christopher was first attached to 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Service number 11747. For the first year he was on Home service, however as soon as war was declared the 2nd Battalion was mobilised and Christopher embarked for France on the 8th September 1914.
The 2nd Battalion was part of 6th division:
This peacetime Division of the pre-war army was quartered in Ireland and England at the outbreak of war, and was ordered on mobilisation to concentrate near Cambridge. By early September it was fully equipped and trained. On the 10 September 1914 it landed at St Nazaire and proceeded to the Western Front, where it remained throughout the war. The Division arrived in time to reinforce the hard-pressed BEF on the Aisne, before the whole army was moved north into Flanders: (Excerpt taken from www.longlongtrail.co.uk)
The Battle of the Aisne was fought between 10th – 13th September 1914 and saw the beginning of four years of trench warfare on the Western Front.
Christopher was certainly involved in many actions. He was seriously injured in October 1914 and had to be transferred to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow. According to the reports he had shrapnel wounds to his head and shoulder. However, he was sent back to the front until 30.12.14 when he was sent home from 31 December 1914 until 8 February 1915.
Christopher returned to the front on 9th February 1915 and again was wounded on 17th March 1915, the report states slightly but enough for him to be admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital, Rusholme, Manchester.
More information on 2nd Western General Hospital here
Christopher was home based until 19th June 1916. During this period he was promoted to Lance Corporal, and by the time he returned to France he had been appointed as an Acting Sergeant. On the 9th September 1916 he was confirmed in the rank of Sergeant. Christopher was in France on this occasion from 20th June 1916 until 17th July 1917.
Again he was hospitalised between 4th October until 24th October 1917. He contracted Scabies and spent 21 days in the Scabies Depot at Louth.
Christopher’s personal life was about to change in 1917. Christopher was good friends with Albert Hewitt, Albert lived on High Street Old Whittington and Christopher lived on Church Street. Albert was recruited in 1914 and when both men were home on leave they continued to meet up and enjoy a pint in the Cock and Magpie. Albert was a family man (his story can be read at https://oldwhittingtonops.com/hewitt-albert/ ) and was sadly killed on 9th August 1916.
When Christopher was home on leave his first port of call was to visit Alberts widow.
“Family tradition has it that Albert and Christopher always drank in the Cock and Magpie whenever they were home on leave together, so my mother took my fathers place and went with his friend to the pub. They found consolation in each other initially, I suppose, said Nellie, but it turned to romance”
The story above was related by Nellie Hewitt, Alberts daughter, to her grandson Neil Atkin aka Tom Bates in his book ‘A History of Old Whittington’.
Christopher Loomes and Minnie Hewitt married on 3rd November 1917 at Old Whittington Church.
One of the witnesses to the happy event was Christopher’s half-brother Reuben Leggitt. The family received sad news however on the 5th November, when Christopher’s other half brother Charles Leggitt was killed in action in France. (Charles Leggitts story can be read at https://oldwhittingtonops.com/leggitt-charles/ ).
The couple only had a few days together, Christopher had to go back to France on 8th November 1917. His Service number was changed to 203482. He was now attached to 1/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters which in turn became part of 46th (North Midland) Division.
In July 1918 Christopher was promoted again to Acting Company Quarter Master Sergeant. This rank is the highest rank of a non commissioned Officer in the Army, whilst still a combat soldier Christopher would also be in charge of distribution of supplies.
In September 1918 Christopher Loomes was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
The citation reads:
Christopher was wounded in action on 24th September 1918 and died on 25th September 1918, he was 26 years old. The DCM was not awarded posthumously at this time, therefore hopefully he would have known that he had been given the award. The medal was not presented until September 1919.
According to the WW1 war diaries Christopher’s Battalion was fighting in the area of Hancourt around the date that he died. The Diary reports that they were under heavy hostile attack and the enemy attacked the Battalions trenches and effected an entry. The men counter attacked the same day and recaptured the trench together with a quantity of ‘war material’. However, the resulting casualties were 8 killed and 20 wounded. I cannot be sure this is where Christopher was badly wounded, but I would imagine he would have taken part in this action.
Christopher is buried in the British Cemetery at Brie, 15 miles away from Hancourt. There were 2 Casualty Clearing Stations in the Brie area No 47 and No 48. There is a good chance that Christopher would have been taken to one of these stations and would consequently be then buried in Brie British Cemetery. Cemetery information can be found at
Picture courtesy of WW1cemeteries.com
Christopher’s grave registration report does not show he was Acting Quarter Master Sergeant or that he had been awarded the DCM.
Picture courtesy TWGPP
Altogether Christopher served 6 years 266 days, he was injured several times, a very brave man and sad to think he nearly managed to get to the end of the war, which was over just 6 weeks later!
Mrs Loomes was living at Newbridge Street Old Whittington and Christopher’s personal effects were sent back to her in February 1919.
Minnie would already have gone through this with her first husband Albert, it is hard to imagine just how terrible it must have been for her.
By now she had lost two husbands, Christopher’s half-brother and her own half-brother Arthur *who died in 1915. All of them now listed together on Old Whittington and the Brushes war memorials.
Christopher’s medal card shows that he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 14/15 Star.
The Medal Roll shows the different Battalions and Service Numbers that Christopher had during his army career.
Christopher is remembered on the Old Whittington and the Brushes War Memorials, and also mentioned in The Gazette as a recipient of the DCM.
*Arthur Booths story can be read at https://oldwhittingtonops.com/booth-arthur/