21st April 1916

Former gamekeeper, George Liddamore, was killed in action in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) on 21st April 1916, serving as a Private with the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Born in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, he seems to have moved to Berkswell sometime between 1911 and 1915. As he was a gamekeeper, it seems possible that he worked on a local estate, maybe Berkswell Hall, although his name isn’t included on the local war memorial in Berkswell. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq and on the war memorial at St John the Baptist Church, North Luffenham.

George and his twin brother, Frank, were born on 17th September 1889 and were the youngest children of parents, George and Phoebe. George and Frank had an older brother, Robert James Liddamore (1884-1909) and two older sisters, Florence Phoebe (1885-1955) and Gertrude Anna (born 1887).

From at least 1882 until at least 1893, George (senior) was a gamekeeper to maltster and philanthropist, Sir William Gilstrap Bt, at Fornham St Genevieve, one-and-a-half miles north of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. As Sir William died in 1896, it may be that his death prompted the move of the Liddamore family from the area. By 1901, the family had moved to North Luffenham, Rutland, where George (senior) was gamekeeper to Guy Fenwick of North Luffenham Hall.

The hall was built c. 1555 and owned by members of the Digby family 1599-1771, being known as the Digby Manor House until after the demolition of nearby Luffenham Hall in 1806. Guy Fenwick and his bride, Elsie, moved into the hall in 1894 and the family lived there until Elsie’s death in 1948 (Guy had died in 1937). During the First World War, Guy served as a Major with the British Remount Commission, and Elsie went to a Belgian hospital  in 1915, totally untrained, becoming a probationer nurse and ending as head sister in 1918.

By 1911, George Liddamore and his wife Phoebe, had seen all their children leave home and they were living alone at North Luffenham. Their eldest son, Robert, had died, aged 25, in Ontario in 1909, and their four other children were working away from home in 1911: 25-year-old Florence was a housemaid in Loughborough; 23-year-old Gertrude Anna (known by her middle name) was a housemaid at 5, Sloane Avenue, Chelsea; 21-year-old Frank was a footman at Little Ponton Hall, Grantham; and his twin brother George was a gamekeeper at Irnham Hall, South Keveston, Lincolnshire.

Frank and George both became soldiers after the outbreak of war. George enlisted in Coventry and first entered a Theatre of War in the Balkans on 13th July 1915. Frank served as a Lance Corporal with the Royal West Kent Regiment, and first entered a Theatre of War in France on 21st April 1915. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in May 1916.

The Grantham Journal, 13th May 1916, reported the circumstances surrounding the award:
HOW A LANCE-CORPL. GAINED THE DCM
A PERILOUS ADVENTURE
A Rutland soldier, Lance-Corpl. Frank Liddamore, of the West Kent Regiment, in a letter to his parents, says: – “On Sunday, April 16th, the captain, some men, and myself, were wiring in the front of the trench. The Huns spotted us, opened fire, and four were killed and the captain and one man wounded. The rest of us rushed back into the trench. After a few minutes one of the sergeants and I crept out to get the captain and wounded man in. A German fired at me; the bullet went through my overcoat sleeve, then my tunic and waistcoat, and out at the bottom of my coat! The letters &c., in my left-hand pocket saved my life… The boys call me ‘Lucky Jim'”. Lance-Corpl. Liddamore is one of the soldier sons of Mr Liddamore, gamekeeper, North Luffenham, and last week news came to hand that the breave sergeant and lance-corporal were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The General pinned on the decoration.

Frank survived the war and died in 1972, aged 86.

Retired gamekeeper George (senior) died at “Lincot”, North Luffenham, in January 1934, aged 76. An inquest into his death reported how his daughter, Florence, who had travelled from her home in Birmingham to stay with him, found him early in the morning with his head underwater in a rain-water tub. The coroner’s inquest returned a verdict of “suicide while of unsound mind” after hearing statements from his daughter and other witnesses. It seems that he had been depressed since the death of his wife six months’ previously, and had complained of headaches and that “devils and poachers” had been in his room taunting him.

If you have any more information about the Liddamore family, or know more about George (junior’s) link with Berkswell, please let us know.

Tracey
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977

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