A Sherwood Forester

Henry PERRYMAN was born in Filey in 1883 to William John, of Irish and Alice GIBSON, a Folkton girl. The couple brought 19 other children into the world but when William John filled out the 1911 Census form, as a 65-year-old widower, he indicated that only eight were still living. Four years later there would be seven..

At age 17 Henry was working as a house painter for his father but in 1911, still single, he was a “Police Fireman”, boarding at 1 Guild Hall Cottages in the city of Nottingham. A few days after the Census he married Mary Ellen PATTISON, 25, whose roots were in Swaledale, North Yorkshire. The couple had two children before the Great War started, Sydney in 1912 and Barbara the following year.

Henry had enlisted with the Territorials in Filey in 1908 so it is not surprising that he volunteered for the army within a month of the war beginning. He joined the 7th Sherwood Foresters and in February 1915 landed with his battalion in France. The following month an article in The Nottingham Evening Post, with the title Robin Hoods Under Fire – Will Make a Name for Themselves, prompted him to write a letter to the Editor.

Just a few lines to let the Nottingham people know how the Robin Hoods fared in their first experience of being in the trenches under fire. We left Bocking, Essex, on February 25th, and arrived France on the 28th. At some places we were only 80 yards from the German lines. It was quite exciting, the English, French, and German guns going all day and night long. It reminds one of a fireworks display, especially when the rockets go up every now and then to find out the different positions at night time; only you have to be very careful. I have heard it said the Germans can’t shoot, but you must not expose yourself in the daytime. We only lost one poor fellow by accident and two wounded by the enemy so didn’t do amiss. We are enjoying ourselves as well as we can, and our officers do everything in their power to make us as comfortable as possible. We don’t stay long in one place, always on I the move, not much time for letter writing. You can take it from a good source that the Robin Hoods will make a name for themselves before they come back to England.”

Source: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/People/Details/21806

In early October 1915, Henry and his fellow Robin Hoods were part of the 18th Brigade in the trenches at Potijze, near Ieper.

The battalion advance post known as Oder Houses was rushed by the enemy about 6.30 in the morning’ (on 5 October). The Germans at first opened a heavy artillery and trench motor fire on Oder Houses, and on the main fire-trenches occupied by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies in rear of the post. The front trench and two cottages in the rear were flattened out by the enemy’s artillery, and what remained of the garrison withdrew down the communication trenches towards the main line. Captain Robert, commanding ‘B’ Company, from which the garrison of the post was drawn, arranged for a counter-attack up the two communication trenches leading to the post, while the so-called ‘Toby’ Motors were laid on the front of the post. A patrol was first sent forward to ascertain the exact position of the enemy, but these, on seeing the advance of the patrol, at once retreated and the post was reoccupied. The casualties were rather severe, ‘B’ Company having 11 killed, 19 wounded -mostly by shell fire- 1 man missing, believed killed, and 1 wounded and missing, believed captured.

Source: The Sherwood Foresters in the Great War compiled by Colonel. H. C. Wylly, C.B. pages 114 & 115. Gale & Polden Aldershot 1924, extract found here.

This source shows that Henry was one of eighteen Foresters who died of their wounds on this day. He is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais.

If you followed the link to Henry’s letter you will have seen that he is remembered on the Nottingham Holy Trinity Church and Police Force War Memorials as well as on the CWGC website. In Filey, his name is on the Murray Street Memorial and in St Oswald’s Church (where he has been given a promotion to Corporal).

As I write this, he is not on FamilySearch Tree and his pedigree on Filey Genealogy and Connections appears limited at first glance. His older sister Carrie’s marriage connects him to the wider “Filey family”. I hope to link him on FST to those forebears already there (scattered) and perhaps add some more,  found while researching this post. I have created a LaF Wiki page for him.

His grandparents, Henry GIBSON and Alice née BAKER, though “incomers”, are buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. I photographed their headstone this morning – and William John’s former lodging house on The Crescent.

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