Jesse Charles Mardling was killed in action on Friday 28 May 1915 while serving with the 2nd Bn., Bedfordshire Regiment. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial in the Pas de Calais among the 13,479 men who were killed between October 1914 and September 1915 on the front to the east of Béthune between Estaires to the north and Grenay to the south and have no known grave. He will have been involved in the very heavy fighting of the Battles of Aubers Ridge and Festubert.
Jesse Mardling was born at Handside (nowadays part of the west side of Welwyn Garden City) in 1882 to George and Jane Mardling, who were married in 1869. At the time of the 1901 census Jesse was a single man of 19 living with his parents and an unmarried sister at Handside.
Following the publication of banns in July 1906 Jesse Mardling married Florence Adams at St. Mary’s, Welwyn. Florence was born in 1883 and was the daughter of Walter Adams, a whitesmith, and his wife Amy, who lived in Hobbs Hill. In 1911 Jesse (a cowman on a farm aged 29) and Florence (aged 27) were living at Handside with Jesse’s father George (by then a widower aged 63 employed as a horseman on a farm). Florence Mardling died in 1940 aged 59.
Although Handside was on the eastern boundary of Ayot St. Peter parish we have not found anything to suggest that Jesse or any member of his family ever lived or worked in this parish. There must have been some reason for Jesse’s name to be included on our War Memorial and perhaps the likeliest is that the family attended Sunday services in this church. It was probably closer to the family home than either St. Mary’s, Welwyn, or St. John’s, Lemsford.