Pte. Samuel Herbert Armstrong: 22310, 20th Battalion King's Liverpool Regiment (4th City Battalion)
Born on 3rd January 1895 at 14 Parkers Road, Crewe,
Samuel Herbert Armstrong was the first born child of Ada Armstrong. His birth certificate states that his mother was a parlour maid and that his father was unknown.
On 17th December 1896 Ada Armstrong married Charles Walter Boden at the Wedgewood Methodist Chapel, Heath Street, Crewe and together they would have a further six children, three girls and three boys.
The 1901 census shows the growing family as living in Great Budworth, Northwich, Cheshire, but by 1911 Ada and Charles were living in Bunbury and running the Nags Head Public House. At no time is Samuel Herbert recorded as living with the family. He would remain in Crewe and was raised by his grandparents.
Having left school, Samuel Herbert was employed in Mr Rutland’s grocery shop on Nantwich Road, Crewe running errands and making deliveries, but with the outbreak of war Samuel Herbert was off.
He enlisted on 5th November 1914, using his middle name Herbertand would spend three Christmases at the front. He was a member of the 20th (Service) Battalion (4th City) King’s Liverpool Regiment. They were formed in Liverpool on 16 October 1914 by Lord Derby, in the old watch factory at Prescot, Merseyside. On the 30 April 1915 they came under orders of 89th Brigade, 30th Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne in November 1915.
Between April and June 1917 the British are called upon once again to launch an attack in support to a larger French offensive: the battles of the Chemin des Dames and the hills of Champagne. The opening Battle of Vimy and the First Battle f the Scarpe are very encouraging, but once again the offensive – often known as the Battle of Arras – bogs down into an attritional slog. Final attempts to outflank the German lines at Bullecourt prove terribly costly.
On the 9th April the 30th Division was engaged in the opening assaults to the south of Arras. They were to the right of the 56th Division, south of Neuville Vitasse. The 20th Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment began their advance in the afternoon but were caught in no man’s land and the casualties began to mount. The following day more soldiers were to die whilst moving forward to consolidate positions they were erroneously informed were now in British hands. By the afternoon of 12th April the Battalion had lost 31 other ranks, killed or died of wounds. Modest figures for the Great War, but one of the fatalities was Samuel Herbert Armstrong.
He was buried in Warlencourt Halte British Cemetery, near Arras.
Plot 8, Row B, Grave 5
His head stone carries the cap badge of the King’s Liverpool Regiment but as a member of the 4th City Battalion he was a Liverpool Pal and as such was entitled to the cap badge of Lord Stanley’s Pals.
He is listed on the memorial at St Michael’s Church in Coppenhall, Crewe, Minshull Vernon War Memorial and the memorial plaque inside St Peters Church, Minshull Vernon, on both he is named as Samuel Herbert Armstrong. In Bunbury however, he is commemorated on the war memorial as S Herbert Boden and is also commemorated on his mother’s headstone in the graveyard at St Boniface Church.
“ In loving memory of Ada Boden who died February 15th 1936, aged 61 years.
John Boden, died 30th November 1986 aged 80 years.
Samuel Herbert, oldest son of Charles Walter and Ada Boden
Who was killed in France on 12th April 1917 and buried in Warlencourt Halte British Cemetery aged 22 years.
Also Gordon Charles, their second son, born October 1st 1897, died May 29th 1915
“Till morning joy shall end the night of weeping”
Also Frank their youngest son, who died August 8th 1933, aged 22 years.
Of her four sons only one, John would see his 23rd Birthday and despite the claim that Samuel Herbert was the biological son of Charles Walter Boden, one has to question if that was the case, why did the boy live all his life away from the family?
Charles Walter Boden died in 1942 and is buried in Warwickshire.