Free Press story sparks repairs to Doncaster WW1 hero’s grave

Richard Bell from the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery with the grave of Corporal T. W. Booth at Hyde Park Cemetery in Doncaster.
Richard Bell from the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery with the grave of Corporal T. W. Booth at Hyde Park Cemetery in Doncaster.

The grave of a Doncaster World War One hero is to be restored - after his story of sacrifice was told in the Free Press.

Corporal Tommy Booth was one of hundreds of Doncaster soldiers killed in battle in the conflict 100 years ago and was buried in Hyde Park Cemetery.

We recently featured his story as part of a commemorative look back at the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war and discovered that his headstone had cracked in two and had fallen to the ground.

But now Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, which looks after the site, has moved to get Cpl Booth’s grave restored by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which cares for the headstones of thousands of fallen soldiers across the globe.

Spokesman Richard Bell said: “The article in the Free Press was accompanied by a photograph of Corporal Booth’s broken headstone, lying flat on the grass of Hyde Park Cemetery.

“As a result, the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and we are pleased to report that a replacement headstone has now been ordered by CWGC for Corporal Booth’s grave.”

Ahead of the new stone arriving, the broken headstone has been re-erected by CWGC, by sinking its base a few inches into the ground.

Cpl Booth, a former employee at the Plant Works, died in hospital on August 17, 1915, from injuries sustained when a shell exploded near him on the Western Front a few weeks earlier.

His moving story was told in detail by his nephew Harold Booth in the 1998 book From Messenger To Manager, a collection of family memories of the Doncaster-based Booth family down the decades.

Cpl Booth was among a group of Doncaster men - also including Ln Cpl Torr and Ptes Adam, Watson and Rouse who were taking supplies to the trenches of the Western battlefield in July 1915 when a shell exploded near them.

All of the men, apart from Cpl Booth, were killed instantly in the blast, the only surviving member of the platoon suffering terrible injuries in the carnage.

Cpl Booth’s body was returned to Doncaster for burial following his death in hospital in Chichester.

“Remarkable crowds,” according to the newspapers, attended the funeral for Cpl Booth, who lived in Penistone Street and left a widow and five children.

“An enormous crowd gathered in Penistone Street while large numbers of people assembled on the route to Hyde Park Cemetery. At and near the cemetery itself, the crowd must have numbered several thousands.”

The cemetery is the oldest municipal cemetery in Doncaster, opening in 1856 and still being in use to this day. 56,000 people have been laid to rest there.