PETTITT, Stephen

No.15756, Private, Stephen PETTITT
Aged 19
11th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Died of Illness on Monday, 7th June 1915

Stephen Pettitt was born in Woodditton (Newmarket Q2-1896 3B:334), son of David Nelson and Sarah Ann PETTITT (née SWANN).

1901 census...Aged 5, he was at 97 Church Cottages, Woodditton with his father David Nelson PETTITT [40] an agricultural labourer; his mother Sarah Ann [41]; brothers Richard, David, Luke [7], Claude [2] all born in Woodditton. It seems a baby Stephen has died and the next son was also named Stephen. It is possible brother Charles was at Bury St Edmunds with the Suffolk Regiment.

1911 census... Aged 15 he was at 97 Church Cottages, Woodditton with his parents, brothers Charles, (now recorded as Samuel, a farm labourer), David Nelson (shepherd), Claude and sister Daisy [7] born in Woodditton.

He was one of three brothers to die during the Great War.
Charles was killed in Belgium in 1917. see here

and Claude was killed in France in 1918. see here

He enlisted in Cambridge.
No service records have been found, no medal roll index card, no silver war badge. He would have been a volunteer, probably never finished his training and served abroad, which would explain no medal index card. Also he died before the Silver War Badge was instituted on 12 September 1916.
His death was registered in Cambridge Q2-1915 3B:592, his niece relates that he died in a sanitorium in Cambridge and received a military funeral.

From an entry on Ancestry:- "Stephen had joined the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment and on the 19th May 1915 had been mobilised to the "Ripon" Yorkshire Moors to undergo training. They joined the 101st Brigade commanded by Brigadier-General H.G. Fitton. This was part of the 34th Division. As this was to be a whole new army the training was supposed to be an introduction to manoeuvres in hilly conditions. In fact whenever the 11th Battalion had to transverse a steep terrain it was received by a mocking jeer of "Ripon", as this is where the training had taken place in Yorkshire. The battalion was then moved to Whitburn for firing on a musketry course. This is where Stephen must have been injured and died of his wounds, because the battalion was moved in August to Salisbury Plain, and Stephen never made it there as he died in June. He is buried in St Mary's church in Wood Ditton in a plot set aside for enlisted soldiers".

The Newmarket Journal of 19th June 1915 reported:-

"The funeral took place on Thursday of last week of Pte. Stephen Pettit, of "A" Co. Cambs Batt. 11th Suffolk Regt., fifth son of Mr.and Mrs David Pettit, of this parish. The deceased was the youngest of four brothers who had enlisted since the war began. He contracted diphtheria some six weeks ago and was taken to the Cambridge Borough Sanitorium but eventually succumbed. The body was conveyed by road from Cambridge and was met at his parent's house by a party of N.C.O's and me, numbering 33, under Sergt.Lack. The body was enclosed in a polished elm coffin, with black fittings, the breast plate being inscribed "Stephen Petitt, died June 7th 1915, aged 19 years".
It was taken to the grave on a bier covered with the Union Jack, six soldiers acting as bearers. At the conclusion of the service 3 volleys were fired over the grave by a firing party of 12, who, with two exceptions, were comrades who had enlisted since the war began. Afterwards the buglers sounded Last Post. There were a number of handsome wreaths....At the conclusion of morning service at the parish church the Dead March in Saul was played.....

Family memorial to the three brothers in Woodditton churchyard

Stephen Pettitt is buried in Woodditton (St Mary's) Churchyard - grave in NW part

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