Roland Ingram

Name Roland Ingram
Corps 9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, formerly Royal Engineers (2914)
Rank Private
Service No. 57973
Date/Place of entry 14 August 1915 at Northampton
Date of death 28 March1918
Memorial/Grave  I. A. 7. St. Pol British Cemetery, St. Pol-sur-Ternoise

Roland Ingram was born in 1897 and raised by his grandparents, Jesse Ingram and his second wife Mary Ann Ingram nee Cook, who was from Wiltshire. The extended  Ingram family was one of the oldest in Cottingham; the name appears in the parish registers from the 1590s onwards. Over the generations many of the Ingram men were tailors by trade, and Jesse was among them as a tailor and draper. He was declared bankrupt in 1866, less than two years after the death of his first wife, but this would seem to have been a temporary embarrassment as he was trading again in 1871. He got married for the second time in February of that year. There were ten children born from the two marriages between 1857 and 1879. Two of them, Francis (born 1860) and Kate (born 1875) were living with their parents and young Roland in 1901.

Jesse was also, during Roland’s youth, the appointed assistant overseer for poor relief. The 1911 census shows he was living in the High Street in a house of seven rooms, which was more substantial than many of his neighbours.
Roland became a carpenter, according to his military record. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers on 14 August 1915 at Northampton when he was eighteen with the rank of sapper, but seemingly did not arrive in France until disembarking at Rouen on 31st December 1916. The previous month he had married Grace Smith in Manchester. He was then posted to the 9th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment and was wounded in action in mid April 1917.
The 9th Battalion was one of Lord Kitchener’s New Army battalions. It was placed in the 58th Brigade, 19th (Western) Division until February1918 when it transferred to the 56th Brigade in the same Division.

The Division took part in the 1918 Battle of the Somme whose several actions included the First Battle of Bapaume. Germany had launched its Spring Offensive and retaken the town of Bapaume on 24 March.  The ensuing fighting was chaotic, the conditions atrocious. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 had reduced the whole area to a battered wilderness, and the boggy ground made troop and artillery movements very difficult. There was a severe shortage of food rations, and many men had little or no food. There were heavy Allied losses. Harry Fisher and John Wilden of Cottingham died here this week, as did Francis Muggleton of Wilbarston.

Roland Ingram was admitted to hospital with diphtheria on 27 March, two days after the Battle of Bapaume, and died the following day. It was a common and often fatal illness in the trenches, and acknowledged as the result of combat.  His record states that he died from ‘Illness contracted while on military duty and is considered to have been caused by active Service conditions.’ The hospital was probably the St Pol No. 12 Stationery Hospital on the town race course which operated between June 1916 and June 1919. He was buried in the St. Pol British Cemetery at St. Pol-sur-Ternois, about half way between Bethune and Arras. It is a small cemetery holding 258 Commonwealth burials from World War One.

Roland’s wife Grace had given birth to a daughter, Vera Grace, in Cottingham on 25 October 1917. At the time of his death she was back in Manchester though subsequent military pension records list her in Cottingham High Street, probably in Jesse’s house; he died in 1925. She got married again in April 1919 to a man named Ernest Jinks and emigrated to Vancouver. Roland’s military documents include a letter she wrote in 1925 to the army asking for help to bring her daughter, who was being cared for by her grandmother in England, to live in Canada. Unsurprisingly the answer was no. Vera Grace Ingram (born in 1917) married in 1951 and died in 199, both in Kettering district, so it does not look as if her mother got her wish.