BITTEN, Arthur Edward Harry (also WARD)

No.242053, Private, Harry BITTEN
Aged 28

10th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
formerly 3/7203, Suffolk Regiment
Died of his Wounds on Saturday, 10th November 1917

Arthur Edward Harry Bitten was born in Cowlinge in 1889 (Risbridge Q2-1889 4A:663), baptised in Cowlinge on 30th June 1889, son of Charles Arthur and Agnes Elizabeth Bitten (née RANSOME).

1891 census...Aged 2, (Arthur)he was at Lambfair Green with his father Charles BITTEN [29] farm labourer; his mother Agnes [28] born Stradishall; and an un-named brother [3 days]. All were born in Cowlinge except his mother.

1901 census...Aged 11, (Harry) was at Lambfair Green with his parents; brothers George [9],Walter [7], Lawrence [6] and twins Jack and Fred [11 months] and sister Ellen [3]. All are now recorded as born in Cowlinge.

1911 census...He is not found in this census, but given that to have been in France by September 1914, he must have been at least a Reservist. His Suffolk Regiment number with the 3 prefix indicates a Special Reservist. Gwyn Thomas, the one time custodian at the Suffolk Regiment Museum in Bury St Edmunds, informs me that Harry Bitten was not on the Suffolk Regiment census for 1911 in either the 1st or 2nd battalion, therefore he must have been somewhere in UK. It might help if we knew names he was using at the time !
His parents were at Lambfair Green with his brothers George, Walter, Lawrence Daniel (all labourers), twins Fred and Jack; sisters Ellen, Edith[7] and Hilda [5] born in Cowlinge. His mother had borne 10 children but one had died.
Brother Daniel's CWGC entry has the address as Rose Cottage, Lambfair Green, Cowlinge.

His mother died later in 1911 and father married Maud Rachel Eley in 1918

Some records indicated he was married, but no marriage has been found. One pension card has his widow as Ada Florence WARD, and there is another card with him as Harry Arthur WARD, but there is a note "awaiting widows correct name" and another that "widow not eligible. It could have been that there was no marriage. Ada WARD was at 13 Benjamin Street, Middlesborough with their daughter Agnes Ellen Davison (Q3-1914 Middlesborough 9D:1268) and son Harry Arthur Charles (23-2-1917) also an adopted daughter Lily HUGLIFF (28-9-1913)
Then the Great War forum came to the rescue by way of submission by RaySearching. The circumstance seem to be that for some reason "Harry" Bitten married Ada Florence SCOTT (b.23-12-1887) in 1913 using the name of Harry A.WARD (Q3 Middlesborough 9D:1100). Ray goes on to point out that another pension document shows that Harry Bitten was an alias his true name being Harry A Ward. "widow" is struck through on one of the pension records and replaced with (guardian Ada F Fitzstephens) (guardian) this indicating that his remarried widow Ada was the guardian of their children
There is a record of Ada F Ward's marriage to Martin Fitzstephens in the July Qtr of 1920 in Middlesbrough.
To keep the confusion ongoing,the headstone at Cowlinge has Harry as in the Suffolk Regiment so no-one had told the rest of the family that he had been transferred to the Scottish Rifles. Even his cause of death on one card as accidental drowning seems to have crossed over from his brother Walter.

Four brothers died in the Great War, but the given names are sometime changed :-
Arthur Edward Harry , known as Harry, served as Harry and also has a pension card as WARD (his wife's surname)
Lawrence Daniel (known as Daniel) the pension card has him as David.
Walter Charles (known as Walter)
George William, (sometimes George, sometimes William)
all are commemorated on this memorial. most of them have their given name order changed throughout their lives in civilian and Army records.

He enlisted in Bury St. Edmunds in 1915 and served less than one year.
As he died of wounds at 19 Casualty Clearing Station (Agnez-les-Duisans) and his service records have not been found, it is not possible to say exactly where or when he was wounded. The battalion were at Monchy 'enjoying' a quiet spell, but had four men gassed on the 4th.
That said, an entry on the Great War forum ( thanks Smithy) has "Wounded in action (GSW to Thigh) by Trench Mortar Bomb, Arras Sector 09/11/1917 & DOW at 19th Casualty Clearing Station, Duisans 10/11/1917". No explanation has been found for his not having the clasp for his 1914 Star. Unlikely that he failed to reach the front in time , so it is more likely that it was not claimed after the war. After all, losing four brothers, the family had enough to worry about, if they even knew what had happened to him.

photo courtesy his grandson Bernard.


The CWGC headstone in Cowlinge commemorating all four brothers

The plaque on Middlesborough war memorial

photo: Rodney Gibson

photo: Rodney Gibson

Harry Bitten is buried in Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, grave 6:D:20
also on the Middlesborough War Memorial as Harry WARD
All four brothers are commemorated on a special memorial in Cowlinge (St Margaret) Churchyard, south of church

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details