ID: IYS_099 / Edwin Sparrow

TitleAlexander Charles Ponder of Great Wigborough died 13 October 1915

Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment: South Staffordshire Regiment, 1/6th Battalion, TF 137th Brigade, 46th Division.
Age 36
Date of death 13 October 1915
Service No. 3728

Alexander Charles Ponder was the son of Charles Ponder and Elizabeth Lender Osborne. They had married at Great Wigborough 16 October 1875. Charles was born in Little Wigborough and Elizabeth in Salcott. They were living in Little Wigborough in 1881, but both Alexander born in 1879 and his sister Lilian born in 1880 were born in North Woolwich. Alexander had 3 sisters and 5 brothers - the others were all born Great Wigborough.
1891 Census shows the family at Hill Farm, Great Wigborough. Alexander, age 13, is an agricultural labourer.
In the 1901 Census, Alexander is living at 200 Boundary Road, Barking, with Thomas and Emily Osborne and their family. Alexander and Thomas are both recorded a 'Gas Stoker'. Thomas is the brother of Alexander's mother Elizabeth.
By the 1911 Census, Thomas and Emily with their family, and also Alexander, are living at 11 Charles Street, Short Heath, Willenhall, Staffordshire. Thomas is 'Gas Works Foreman' and Alexander is 'Gas works stoker'.
The address recorded by Commonwealth War Graves Commision for Alexander's parents Charles and Elizabeth is Gar House, Great Wigborough.

Alexander was working at Willenhall Gasworks at the time he joined the 6th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, at Wolverhampton in October 1914.

"1/6th Battalion had been formed in August 1914 in Wolverhampton and was part of the Staffordshire Brigade, North Midland Division. 12 May 1915 the formation became the 137th Brigade, 46th Division. The Division was a formation created by the establishment of the Territorial Force in 1908. It moved to France 23rd-28th February 1915.

13 October 1915: The renewal of the British attack A bright, sunny day with an ideal wind for moving gas towards the enemy. XI Corps orders were to recover the Quarries and Fosse 8; IV Corps were to consolidate the line of the Lens-La Bassée road between Chalk Pit Wood and the Vermelles-Hulluch road.

46th Division only completed its relief of the Guards Division in Big Willie at 6.00am due to congestion of the trenches and the confusion resulting from the enemy's counter- attack. This Division, freshly arrived from Ypres, had no prior knowledge of the ground to be attacked. On first examination CO Major-General Stuart-Wortley wished to attack using bombers, gradually taking the position trench by trench. He was overruled by XI Corps HQ, and told to attack in the same way that 9th Division had on 25th September (which had largely succeeded but at a cost of more than 6,000 men).

Noon. Heavy British bombardment opens up. 54 heavy and 86 field howitzers, with 286 field guns, fire for two hours on enemy trenches in or approaching the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Fosse 8, the Quarries, Gun Trench and the positions south to Chalk Pit Wood. It was to prove too light to do sufficient damage to the enemy positions.

The casualties sustained by his battalion were: - 6th South Staffordshire 407, of which 18 officers"

Lance-Corporal Ponder was mortally wounded during the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt on 13 October 1915. He was evacuated from the front line but died of his wounds later the same day at the Advanced Dressing Station at Vermelles Chateau

Alexander was awarded the 1914-1915 Star for France, The British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Alexander is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery, France, Reference I.F.12.
and is commemorated on the War Memorial in Great Wigborough Parish Church

Read More:
Great Wigborough War Memorial

From "If You Shed a Tear" by Ted Sparrow, Part 2.
2020 formatted for web by Tony Millatt
16 July 2020 added more information on Alexander younger days.

Edwin Sparrow obtained special dispensation from a number of agencies including the CWGC and The War Graves photographic project regarding copyright on their material used in "If YOu Shed a Tear". The IWM granted a non commercial licence for their material used in the book, in view of the nature of the book being commemorative rather than published for commercial reasons.

AuthorEdwin Sparrow
SourceMersea Museum