The below is the report of Cpl. Stephen Annable’s death.
Brave Belper soldier killed
Corporal Stephen Annable
As fine a specimen of the true British soldier as one could wish to meet died of wounds received in action in the western campaign in the person of Corpl. Stephen Annable,5th Batt. Sherwood Foresters and of Field Head Terrace, Belper
Deceased had been in the territorials about Eight years, and was mobilized with the Belper company at the beginning of the war. After a period of training in England he crossed the channel with the troops of the North midland division and at the time he was wounded he was superintending trench construction work in which he is said to have excelled, Corpl Annable who was 27 years of age leaves a wife and three little children. Before the war he was employed at the Hartshay Colliery.
The heroic fight which Corpl Annable made against a insidious bullet wound is set out in letters from Lieut G.T.Aldous, the officer commanding his company and the Wesleyan Chaplin the Rev.E.Stanley Bishop. On June 4th the former wrote to Mrs Annable:-
“I am extremely sorry to tell you that your husband was wounded in the trenches yesterday rather seriously,but at present we have every reason to hope he will get over it allright.He was hit at dawn just has he had come of a piece of trench work he was superintending, work at which he is particularly clever. Unfortunately he could not be moved out of the trench until night, but everything possible was done to make him comfortable, he was very quite and patient. I told him I would write and tell you ,as he will not be able to write for a time but as I said we have every reason to hope that he will recover, though it is a serious wound, I will write again when I hear our he is getting on, but of course, they move the wounded right back from the firing line and I dare say he will be taken to England. I hope he will soon come back to us as I shall miss him very much from my platoon. He is one of my best men.”
On June 8th Lieu Aldous penned the following lines to Mrs Annable:-
“You will have heard by this time that your husband died this morning. Mr Bishop the Chaplin will have written to you about it better than I can, but I would just like to write you a line to say how much we of his company feel his loss. I quite hoped when I wrote to you before that he would get over it .He made a splendid fight for it, but the wound was to serious. I went to see him in hospital twice, he was brave and patient all though, I know you will be feeling just now as if nothing could make up for this terrible loss, but it will console you some day knowing he lost his life fighting for his country and that he did his duty so bravely. He was buried this afternoon in a little country church yard. The captain, myself, and many of his comrades following him to his grave.”
Two letters were also received from the Rev.E.Stanley Bishop Wesleyan Chaplin. The first stated that Corpl Annable bore his wound like a “brave and true soldier” and we give the following extracts from the second, written after his death.
“Stephen died at one o’clock this morning (8th inst) he sank rapidly last night and we could see that the end was not far off. We gave him a soldiers funeral with all the honours we could pay to a brave comrade. We send our deepest sympathy in losing this man of whom we were so proud, and who was such an example in his patient suffering.”
Lieut Hunter in whose company, Corpl Annable served before being transferred to that of Lieut Albous wrote to the deceased’s mother, on June 8th as follows;-
“I am writing to tell you how sorry I am to hear that your son died in hospital yesterday from a wound he received a few days back, when in the trenches. As you probably know he was moved from the Belper company some time ago. So I only heard of his wound this morning. We all offices and his men of his old company, feel his loss very much indeed and wish to covey to you our most sincere sympathy, Capt Naylor attended his funeral this afternoon. He was buried in the battalion cemetery and his grave will be marked with a cross on which will be printed his name, regiment, and date with the words “DIED OF WOUNDS”