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Guardsman Benjamin Armstrong
20940 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards (8th Platoon of No. 2 Company)
Born 2nd November 1890, Keswick. Died June 1982 Aged 91 Whitehaven
Son of Benjamin and Sarah (nee Munro) Armstrong, Deer How Patterdale and Beauthorn Watermillock
Husband of Ann Jane Coates
Benjamin Armstrong was born in November 1890 in Keswick, the eldest son of Benjamin Armstrong from Crossthwaite Borrowdale, and his wife Sarah Munro from Workington. At the time Benjamin junior was born his father was working as a groom and the family were living at 4 Cross Street in Keswick. By 1901 the family had moved to Patterdale and were living at Deer How. It is likely that Benjamin senior was emplyed by the Patterdale Hotel at that time, who we believe owned Deer How. He was listed on the 1901 census as being a “Hackney Carriage Driver and Groom”. Benjamin junior would have attended Patterdale School, literally just over the road from his house, alongside his elder sister Mary E (born 1890), younger sister Eleanor (born in 1895) and Sarah J (born 1897). The family probably moved to Patterdale around 1898 as it was in that year at Benjamin’s younger brother John Andrew was born, and baptised at Patterdale Church. Another younger sister, Annie, was born in Patterdale in 1905 and baptised at St Patricks on 10th April that year.
By 1911 Benjamin senior and the younger of Benjamin’s siblings had moved to Beauthron in Watermillock, where Benjamin senior was employed as a coachman. We’re not sure exactly where Benjamin was working at the time although we think he was probably working as a farm labourer for the Bell family at Whitrigg House, Kirkbride, Bowness on Solway.
Benjamin attested on the 5th February 1916 and was mobilised into the Coldstream Guards on the 16th December 1916. At that time his occupation was listed as a farmer and his next of kin was given as his mother, who by now was living at the Wool Pack Inn in Boot. Following his mobilisation Benjamin was sent to the Guards training depot at Caterham (the 5th Battalion), arriving in December 1916.
He transferred to France on the 16th October 1917, serving with the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. On the 2nd March 1918, whilst serving with 5 Platoon, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards -
"On the morning of March 2nd, a Corporal & the sentry relief were going out of a dug-
After an official investigation the injury was "Deemed Accidental" -
On the 17th August 1918 he sailed once again from Folkestone to Boulogne to join the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. On the 4th November 1918, just a week before the Armistice was signed, Benjamin was wounded in action, a gun shot wound to the left eye -
We are very grateful to Benjamin’s niece Sara (daughter of his youngest sister Annie) for providing us with information on what Benjamin did after the war, and for the wonderful photo shown above.
“After his demob he would have returned home to the Woolpack in Eskdale. His father was still alive and didn’t die until 1945. Benjamin farmed at home and due to the gunshot wound of the eye he developed cancer in his mouth. He underwent horrific treatment with radium needles which unfortunately burnt away too much of his palate which left him with a speech impediment. However he did survive.
He married Ann Jane Coates at Gosforth in 1923 and went to farm at High Lodore Farm, Borrowdale where four children were born, He then moved to The Crag, Birkby Bootle where two more children were born, 5 of whom are still living. He died in June 1982 aged 91. His family live in West Cumberland with two sons still living at The Crag”
If you can add anything to the story of Benjamin or his family please contact us.
Benjamin’s Medal Card
A handwritten account of the incident in which Benjamin was injured in 1918