Caleb Halfpenny of the Grenadier Guards
Guardsman Caleb Halfpenny of All Stretton died 26 October 1914 in Belgium, aged 25.
Caleb Halfpenny was born in April 1889 in All Stretton. His family lived at The Overs in Batch valley. His mother was Mary Ann Halfpenny nee Huson, a member of the large Huson family living in the village. There is no father included on the birth certificate.
Mary Ann had married Caleb Joseph Halfpenny variously described as a miller, a joiner and a railway porter in 1879, but he had died in 1884. Mary Ann and Caleb Joseph had 2 children together, and after his death Mary Ann had 2 further children including Caleb whose fathers are unknown, though it is interesting to note that Caleb was named after Mary Ann’s dead husband.
The 1891 census shows Caleb aged 2 living with his grandmother Martha Huson, a widow and washerwoman, at the Overs in All Stretton. At that time his mother Mary Ann appears to have been working as a housemaid and living in Liverpool.
In 1892 Mary Ann married again. Her husband was Matthew Henry Millichope, a labourer who was born in Shrewsbury and was then living in All Stretton. They had 3 children but sadly Mary Ann died in childbirth in December 1897 at the age of 36.
On the 1901 census Caleb was again living with his grandmother in the Batch valley. The household also included his stepfather Matthew Millichope, 3 half siblings and a cousin.
Caleb’s grandmother died in 1908, and in this year he joined the Grenadier Guards (no 13708) in Manchester. The 1911 census shows he was then based at Wellington Barracks, St James Park in London. On the outbreak of war the regiment formed part of the 20th Brigade which landed in Zeebrugger in Belgium on 7 October 2014. The brigade was almost immediately caught up in the First Battle of Ypres. Caleb was killed on or about 26 October 1914 a period of intense fighting during which almost all the officers of the brigade were killed or wounded.
The October 1914 War Diary of the First Battalion Grenadier Guards War records, “The period from 20 October to 6 November 1914 was occupied in continuous fighting during which the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was very heavily engaged. It was not possible at that time to keep a Diary.”
The cemetery was created after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields and nearby German cemeteries. Many were those of soldiers who died in the desperate fighting round Zantvoorde, Zillebeke and Gheluvelt in the latter part of October 1914.
Caleb does not appear to have left a will, but a record of his effects after his death survives. This records a payment of £16 12s 10d to Annie E Roberts in February 1916, and a further £5 of the War Gratuity paid to all soldiers (but varied according to rank) in 1919.
In the column for date of death it records ‘On or since 28.10.14 death presumed’ – a reflection of the confusion of that period of 2014.
Although some research has been carried out into the Halfpenny/Huson family tree, Annie E Roberts has not yet been identified.
By Mary McKenzie