Private Keith Garraway Chatfield, 1st Battalion Australian Infantry, Australian Imperial Force, died on 3rd October 1917. We’re not absolutely sure that this is the same Keith Chatfield who is commemorated at Bickenhill, as there seems no obvious link. However, this is the only Keith Chatfield listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and there doesn’t seem to be another Keith Chatfield mentioned in the local area.
At the time of the 1891 census, there was a Chatfield family living in Bickenhill – beer retailer Isaac Chatfield and his wife, Eliza (née Slatcher). However, we can’t find any trace that they had a son, Keith. Their sons were Rowland George (1879-1965), Albert Bailey (1885-1926), Alfred Leonard (1887-1962) and Isaac John (1889-1929). The family had moved away from Bickenhill by 1901.
Keith Garraway Chatfield was born in Ryde, Sydney, Australia in 1895. It looks as if it was his grandfather, Charles Stephen Ferguson Chatfield, who emigrated from Kent to Australia c. 1850. Keith enlisted in the 3rd Divisional Cyclist Company in April 1916, He embarked for England on HMAT Demosthenes at Sydney and suffered with measles between 27th June and 4th July 1916 whilst on board ship. Whilst in England, he was posted to Chisledon and Perham Down, Wiltshire and to Durrington, West Sussex, where he qualified as a signaller. He went to France as a signaller with “C” Company, 1st Battalion, Australian Infantry.
He was hit by a shell whilst carrying rations on 3rd October. His commanding officer, who witnessed the burial, wrote a report for the Australian Red Cross, stating that Private Chatfield was buried about 100 yards west of the Broodesinde – Nordingham Road. Another soldier wrote that
He should not have been on fatigues at the time but we were short handed. He was buried near where hit. I saw his grave, no cross up at the time. He was just put in a shell hole and covered over.
Keith Garraway Chatfield has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
If you have any further information, or can shed any light on the Bickenhill connection, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977