Tuesday, 29 September 2009

22897 Pte Robert Hewson, 6th Bn, Border Regiment

22897 Pte Robert Hewson of the 6th Battalion, Border Regiment, died of wounds on 30th September 1916.

I have been unable to locate this man on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Roll of Honour database, althuogh Soldiers Died in The Great War indicates that he was born in Bishopsgate, London and enlisted in London. His medal index card indicates that he formerly served with the East Surrey Regiment and his army service number with the East Surreys indicates a joining date of around June 1915.

Robert Hewson arrived overseas (Gallipoli) on 24th November 1915 and thus qualified for the 1915 Star along with the British War and Victory medals.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918

15990 Pte Albert Edward Hann, 3rd Bn, Royal Fusiliers

15990 Pte Albert Edward Hann of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers was killed in action during the fighting around Loos on 29th September 1915. Like so many, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Albert was a regular soldier who enlisted in late 1913 or early 1914. He was born in Yeovil and living in Taunton at the time of his enlistment. He enlisted in Hounslow. He is possibly the same Albert Hann who appears on the 1901 census as a four year old boy living with his six siblings and parents at 38 South Street, Yeovil. If it his him, his father was a mason and two of his older sisters are listed as glove stitchers.

Albert arrived in France on 9th June 1915 and was thus entiteld to the 1914-15 Star and British War and Victory medals.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Monday, 28 September 2009

L/8015 Pte Arthur Edward Leopold Drury, 2nd Bn, The Buffs

L/8015 Pte Arthur Edward Leopold Drury of the 2nd Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), was killed in action on the 28th September 1915. He was a regular soldier who had joined The Buffs in October 1904 and therefore was probably on the reserve when war was decalred.

Arthur's service record does not survive and therefore the information recorded on his medal index card is all that remains of his service during WW1. It indicates that he arrived in France on 7th September 1914 and therefore was entitled to the clasp for his 1914 Star. A note on the reverse of his card reads, "...Accts 41 fwds app for 1914 Star from National Fed[eration] of Disc[harged] and Dem[obilised] Sail[ers] & Sold[iers] on behalf of Mrs Drury in respect of the services of her husband, the late Pte A E L Drury."

Arthur, who was born in Turnham Green, Middlesex, is another Loos casualty who has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Loos memorial.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sunday, 27 September 2009

6948 Pte Lawrence Connell, Irish Guards

6948 Private Lawrence Connell of the Irish Guards was killed in action on 27th September 1915 in fighting at Loos. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos memorial.

Lawrence was 29 years old, the son of Patrick Connell of The Rock of Dunamaise, Stradbally, Queen's County and the late Mary Ann Connell (according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). Lawrence's army number indicates that he joined the Irish Guards in late February or early March 1915 and his medal index card shows that he arrived in France on 12th August 1915. Written in the remarks' section of the card are the words "ass'd dead 27-9-15".

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Saturday, 26 September 2009

13789 Pte Alfred James Blythe, 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment

13789 Private Alfred James Blythe of the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment, was killed in action on the 26th September 1915, the second day of the Battle of Loos. He was one of 2,471 British soldiers to die on this day.

Alfred has connections with a village in England that I am very familiar with: Chailey, in what is now East Sussex. I have researched the parishioners of Chailey during WW1 and also some of the soldiers who spent time recuperating at two auxiliary hospitals there. Those stories are told on a separate site: Chailey 1914-1918. Alfred though, is not one of the men mentioned on that site. He spent time at Chailey Heritage but by the time the First World War began he'd been away from the village for five years. This is his story.

A brief - and sometimes difficult to read - entry in the Chailey Heritage ledger records that Alfred was born on 21 April 1891 and lived at 88 Faraday Street in Walworth. His father had died in late 1902 or early 1903 and by the time Alfred entered Chailey Heritage on 2nd September 1905, his mother had remarried and become Mrs Rosina Cole. She was employed in 'laundry work'.

Alfred was a pupil at the Greencoat School in Camberwell Green and was "afflicted with tubercular disease of the foot and a hernia." Alfred's fees at Chailey Heritage were paid for in part by the London County Council and in part from the Crippled Children's Training Society. After nearly four years at Chailey Alfred left the Heritage on 24th May 1909, a post having been found for him at Messrs. Angus (which is possibly a mis-spelling), Roller Top Desk Makers in Finsbury. He was certainly still there in 1913, by which time his wages had risen to 13 shillings a week.

A later entry in the Heritage ledger states that Alfred 'joined Kitchener's Army'. There are only two subsequent entries. The first: 'reported missing' and the second, in blue crayon, 'killed at Loos'.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that Alfred was a private in the 11th Battalion of the Essex Regiment and died on 26th Sept 1915. It adds the additional information that he was 24 years old and the son of Mrs Rosina Cole of 66, Liverpool Street, Walworth Road, London. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Alfred's army number indicates that he joined the Essex Regiment in September 1914, probably around the 13th or 14th of that month. He enlisted at Camberwell. His arrival date in France - 30th August 1915 - ties in nicely with the arrival date of the 11th Essex and so we can pretty safely assume that he was an original member of that battalion and sailed to France with the battalion and not as part of a draft.

The 11th Essex was a K3 battalion formed at Warley in September 1914. It initially moved to Shoreham as part of the 71st Bde in the 24th Division, then to Brighton in Jan 1915. It moved back to Shoreham in March 1915 before heading for Blackdown in June 1915. The next significant date on the battalion's calendar is its move overseas on 30th August. The 71st Bde later transferred to the (regular) 6th Division but this was in October 1915 and Alfred had already been killed by this time.

The 24th Division was rushed hurriedly into the Battle of Loos and sustained heavy casualties. Both it and the 21st Division which suffered a similar fate, were later severely and unjustifiably criticised for their performance at Loos.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

My grateful thanks to Ian Seccombe of Chailey for alerting me to Alfred Blythe and for providing the details recorded in the Chailey Heritage archives.

Friday, 25 September 2009

15229 Pte Tague Dolan, 8th Bn, King's Own Scottish Borderers


Over the next few days I'm going to commemorate men killed during the Battle of Loos in 1915. Today, 25th September 2009, is the 94th anniversary of that battle; a battle which would see regular soldiers, Territorial Force soldiers and Kitchener volunteers fighting - with mixed fortunes - side by side.

15229 Pte Tague Dolan of the 8th Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers was one of 139 8th KOSB men to die on 25th September 1915; a day which - according to Soldiers Died in the Great War - claimed the lives of 9,661 British soldiers, or the equivalent of nearly ten infantry battalions.

Tague Dolan was a Kitchener volunteer who was born in Glasgow, was living there when war was declared and who enlisted there too. His army number indicates that he joined the 8th KOSB in September 1914 and as such, he would have been one of the original 8th Battalion members.

Tague's medal index card indicates that he arrived in France on 10th July 1915 and he was missing, presumed dead on the 25th September 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

I interviewed a number of Loos veterans in the 1980s and you can read the interviews, or extracts of interviews with Corporal Bill Howell (8th London Regiment) and Bombardier Len Gifford (Royal Horse Artillery) on my World War 1 Veterans blog.

Arthur Reeve was an old soldier who'd originally enlisted with the Royal Lancaster Regiment at Manchester in 1894. By the time the First World War was declared he had served his seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve, but this did not stop him from enlisting with the KOSB Special Reserve in September 1914. Pretty soon, he found himself posted to the 8th Battalion where, as an old hand, his experience must have been invaluable. Arthur was wounded on the 25th September 1915 and you can read more about him and the 8th KOSB on my Chailey 1914-1918 website. Arthur Reeve's story is HERE, Loos Preliminaries are HERE, and the Battle of Loos is HERE. The 8th KOSB sustained nearly 400 casualties - killed, wounded and missing - on the first day alone.

The illustration on this post - a million miles from the battlefields of the Western Front - was executed by Sergeant Reeve whilst he was recuperating from his Loos wounds at Chailey. It depicts nearby Newick church.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thursday, 24 September 2009

L/6415 Pte Michael Henry Kiley, 4th Bn, Middlesex Regiment

L/6415 Private Michael Henry Kiley of the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment died of wounds on the 24th September 1915. Michael was a Londoner, born in Hoxton, and his number indicates that he joined the Middlesex Regiment around July or August 1900. This being the case, he probably saw service during the Boer War.

Pte Kiley's medal index card at the National Archives makes no mention of him dying of wounds but instead states "demob" which is strange as both the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in The Great War agree that the man with these names and this number died on 24th September 1915. Michael's card shows that he arrived in France on 7th April 1915.

Michael Kiley is buried in Divisional Cemetery near Ypres in Belgium; grave reference E.10.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

31274 Pte Percy Hoodless, 7th Bn,

31274 Private Percy Hoodless of the 7th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action on the 23rd September 1917. He was the son of Mrs Eliza Hoodless of Chapel Street Alford in Lincolnshire and, according to Soldiers Died in The Great War, had previously served with the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 25784).

Percy's medal index card at the National Archives makes no mention of his South Staffs service and so he must have transferred from this regiment to the South Lancs Regiment whilst still in England. The South Staffs number dates to June 1916 and the South Lancs number probably to October or November the same year.

Percy was living in Alford at the time of his enlistment, and he enlisted at Lincoln. There is no age given by the Commonwealth war Graves Commission, and no service record appears to survive for Percy. However, a quick search of the 1901 census returns for England and Wales reveals that he was a 19 year old "shoemaker" when that census was taken and therefore must have been around 35 when he was killed.

Percy Hoodless is buried in Woods Cemetery, 4 kms south east of Ypres town centre. His grave reference is II.CC.2

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

8601 L/Cpl George Thomas Looker, 1st Royal Berkshire Regt

8601 Lance-Corporal George Thomas Looker of the 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment was killed in action on the 22nd September 1914. He was 23 years old and according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was the son of Albert and Lucy Looker of 41 Bostock Avenue, Abingdon, Berkshire.

George Looker's army number indicates that he must have joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment in late October or early November 1907 and he arrived in France on the 13th August 1914. He has no known grave and is one of nearly 4000 British soldiers commemorated on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial in France.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Monday, 21 September 2009

23483 Sgt Stanley Francis Elsegood, 15th West Yorkshire Regt

23483 Sergeant Stanley Francis Elsegood of the 15th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regt, died of wounds on 21st September 1916. He was 38 years old and the son of James Elsegood of Camberwell, London.

Stanley was born in Camberwell, and living in Teddington when he enlisted at Shepherd's Bush with the Royal Fusiliers. His RF number - 7185 - dates to 1914 although it's difficult to be precise as to which month in 1914 that was as the number could belong to the series issued to 5th (Reserve) Battalion men or to Kitchener recruits. If Stanley enlisted with the 5th Battalion, his number suggests a joining date of September or October 1914. If he was a Kitchener volunteer, the number pins him down to October.

Stanley Elsegood's medal index card reveals that he arrived in France as a private with the Royal Fusiliers on 6th March 1915. By the time of his transfer however, he'd been promoted, and his British War and Victory Medals are impressed with the rank of sergeant.

Sergeant Elsegood is buried in Calais Southern Cemetery; grave reference E.5.12. The 30th, 35th and 38th General Hospitals as well as No 9 British Red Cross Hospital and No 10 Canadian Stationary Hospital were stationed in Calais and it seems likely that Stanley Elsegood was a patient at one of these establishments when he died of his wounds.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sunday, 20 September 2009

22517 Pte Ernest Freer Jelley, 1st Bn, Leicestershire Regiment

22517 Pte Ernest Jelley of the 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment was killed in action on the 20th September 1918. He was born in Walcote and living there when he enlisted on 1st November 1915.

Ernest's surviving papers in the WO 363 series at the National Archives reveal that he was aged 19 years and nine months and working as a plumber. He attested with the 11th (Pioneer) Battalion at Leicester.

Typically for the WO 363 series, Ernest's service record is quite badly damaged and it is possible to only make out partial information from it. He served with A Company of the 11th Battalion and embarked for France on the 26th March 1916. He was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion on 26th October 1917 and then to the 3rd Battalion on 21st May 1918. After that it looks as though he was posted to the 14th Battalion and then to the 1st, although I can't be sure.

In February 1918 he was docked two days' pay for being unshaven on parade and on 24th April 1918 he was admitted to hospital in Camiers, France with boils on his back and arm. These were severe enough for him to be returned to England. By 22nd June however, he was back in France at K Infantry Base Depot and the following day he was posted to the (regular) 1st Battalion.

Ernest Jelley has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was the son of Elisha and Margaret Jelley, of Baker Street, Lutterworth, Rugby and that he was 22 years old when he died. Ernest's wallet, letters and cards were amongst the few personal effects returned to hi mother after he had been killed.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Saturday, 19 September 2009

77491 Gunner Joseph Myton, Royal Garrison Artillery

77491 Gunner Joseph Myton of the Royal Garrison Artillery died of wounds on 19th September 1917. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his name as Joe Myton and notes that he was 37 years old and serving with the 262nd Siege Battery when he died. He was the brother of Charles Myton of Marshall Street, Stanley in Wakefield.

Joseph, a colliery labourer, was conscripted on 2nd May 1916 and joined the RGA at Great Yarmouth. His partial service records survives in WO 363 at the National Archives.

Joe Myton is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery at Poepringhe in Belgium; grave reference V.D.2.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Friday, 18 September 2009

1445 Pte Samuel Ernest Buckel, Hertfordshire Yeomanry

1445 Pte Samuel Ernest Buckel of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry is commemorated on a special memorial plaque in Green Hill Cemetery on the Gallipoli peninsular. The cemetery was made after the Armistice when isolated graves were brought in from the battlefields of August 1915 and from small burial grounds in the surrounding area.

Samuel Buckel was a pre-war Territorial, his number dating to 1912/1913 and he arrived overseas quite early on. His medal index card indicates he landed in Egypt on 3rd November 1914. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was the son of George and Eliza Buckel of Clapton, London, whilst Soldiers Died in The Great War confirms that he was born in Hackney and enlisted there.

The War Graves Photographic Project holds a photo of Samuel's memorial.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thursday, 17 September 2009

8467 Pte James Hiram Bentham, 1st Bn, Somerset Light Infantry

8467 Private James Hiram Bentham of the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was killed in action on this day - 17th September - in 1914.

James Bentham was a career soldier who had joined the Somerset Light Infantry in 1907. He was probably just approaching the end of his seven years with the Colours when Britain went to war, and by the 21st August he was in France. His medal index card indicates that a clasp was sent for his 1914 Star at some point after 20th October 1921.

James Bentham is buried in Vauxbuin French National Cemetery (grave ref: III.F.9). This from the Commonwealth war Grave Commission:

"The village was passed by British troops on the 31st August, 1914, in the Retreat from Mons; and British troops fought in the neighbourhood in 1918. The French National Cemetery was made by the French Graves Service in 1920-1924. The British plot, made after the Armistice, contains the graves of soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in 1914 and 1918 and belonged to the 4th, 5th, 15th (Scottish) and 34th Divisions."

James was not a native of Somerset. Soldiers Died in The Great War indicates that he was born in Wood Green, Middlesex and enlisted there [in 1907].

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

2878 Pte William Paterson, 5th Bn, Royal Scots Regt

2485 British soldiers died on 16th September 1916 and William Paterson, the son of Mr and Mrs James Paterson of Whiteside, Bourtie, Inverurie, Aberdeenshire was one of these men. He was 22 years old and judging by his army number had joined the battalion in late November or early December 1914. His medal index card shows entitlement to the British War and Victory medals which means that he did not arrive overseas until 1st January 1916 at the earliest.

William Paterson, who was born in Edinburgh and enlisted there, died of wounds on this day. He is buried in Cambrin Churchyard Extension; one of 1304 First World War Commonwealth soldiers buried there.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

206167 Pte Edgar Robert Barnsby, Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps

A staggering, 4,971 British soldiers died on this day - 15th September - in 1916. That's the equivalent of nearly five British infantry battalions destroyed in one day. Looking at it another way, it would take me over thirteen and a half years to commemorate - on a daily basis - the British war dead of 15th September 1916.

15th September 1916 marks, of course, the third phase of the Battle of the Somme; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. This battle lasted until 22nd September 1916 and was the first time that tanks were used in battle. Today then, also marks the 93rd anniversary of the first tank battle and I have chosen to commemorate here today, a soldier who died whilst serving with the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps; later to be re-designated Heavy Branch (November 1916) and later still, The Tank Corps (29th July 1917).

206167 Pte Edgar Robert Barnsby had previously served with the Machine Gun Corps (army number 32489) before transferring to the Heavy Section MGC. This transfer took place in England. His original MGC number indicates that he joined the corps between the 12th and the 26th of April 1916.

Like Rifleman Alfred Charles Wilkins whom I commemorated two days ago, Edgar Barnsby was also a native of Chelmsford in Essex but enlisted (and was presumably living) in Birmingham. He was killed in action.

Edgar appears on the 1901 census living with his parents and siblings at No. 7 Lockshill Terrace, Rochford Road in Old Moulsham, Chelmsford. The household comprised William James Barnsby (head, aged 39; a Brighton-born electrical instrument maker), his wife Emma Elizabeth Barnsby (aged 37, born in Cherlmsford), and their children. In age order they are: William John Barnsby (aged 16, also an electrical worker), Kate Elizabeth Barnsby (aged 13 but working as a draper's assistant), Laura Theresa Barnsby (aged 12), Edgar (aged 10), Alice Dorothy Barnsby (aged five) and Florence Emily Barnsby (aged one).

Edgar does not appear on the 1891 census but there is another child noted - James A Barnsby - aged less than one month. When this census was taken, the family was living at No 2. Rainsford Terrace, Primrose Hill, Chelmsford which, purely coincidentally, is located around fifty yards from the site of my first house in the town. In 1891 William Barnsby was working as a watch maker and jeweller.

Interestingly, William John Barnsby was born in Birmingham and so there is a family connection with the city, although I have not explored that further. Presumably though, the family was living there in 1884, settling in Chelmsford later on.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Edgar was serving with D Company in the Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) although technically this is incorrect because, as mentioned above, the Heavy Branch would not come into being until November 1916. It seems likely that Edgar was posted as missing in action on 15th September. Soldiers Died in The Great War gives his regiment (incorrectly again) as Tank Corps and he has no known grave but is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1891 and 1901 census returns)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Long, Long Trail for information relating to the Tank Corps

Monday, 14 September 2009

203199 Pte David Edmund Elijah Benifer, 1st Bn, London Regiment

203199 Pte David Edmund Elija Benifer of the 1st Battalion, The London Regiment was killed in action on 14th September 1917. He was one of 241 soldiers to die on this day in 1917 and one of 24 men from the 1st (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers).

According to Soldiers Died in The Great War, David's residence was in Chelsea and he enlisted in West London (probably also Chelsea). No service record survives for him but his medal card indicates that he was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals and therefore arrived overseas no earlier than 1st January 1916. His number indicates that he probably joined up around April 1916. There is a note on the reverse of his medal card that "O[fficer] i[n] c[harge of] London rec[ords] requests instruction re disposal of medals."

David Benifer was born in London in 1898, his birth registered in the September quarter of that year. He was the son of Elijah and Mary Benifer and appears on the 1901 census living at No. 60 Sheepcote Lane in Battersea with his parents and one year old sister Gwendoline. Elijah Benifer, born in King's Lynn, Norfolk and aged 32, is recorded as an assistant horse keeper. His wife, aged 40, was born in Dowlais, South Wales. Both the children were born in Battersea.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds no additional information about this man but he does at least have a last resting place. He was killed in the desperate fighting around Ypres in what would later be known as the Third Battle of Ypres, or simply "Passchendaele" and is one of 3588 men buried in the cemetery at Tyne Cot. David would have been 18 or 19 years old when he was killed.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, Free BMD Birth Index, 1901 Census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sunday, 13 September 2009

46898 Rfm Alfred Charles Wilkins, 13th Bn, King's Royal Rifle Corps


46898 Rifleman Alfred Charles Wilkins of the 13th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action on 13th September 1914. Alfred was born in my home town of Chelmsford in Essex but he was living in Hornsey Middlesex at the time of his enlistment. He enlisted at Harringay.

Alfred has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France. Chelmsford is one of those UK towns which, for some unaccountable reason, did not see fit to publicly commemorate its war dead by name. The war memorial at the Civic Centre in the west of the town does not list any of the fallen from either war.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Saturday, 12 September 2009

L/2563 Pte Ephraim Thomas Deadman, 16th Lancers

L/2563 Pte Ephraim Thomas Deadman of the 16th Lancers was killed in action on the 12th September 1914. His army number indicates that he joined the Lancers at the beginning of February 1910. His medal index card records the information that he arrived in France on the 17th August 1914.

Ephraim, who was from Sheerness in Kent, is buried in Vailly British Cemetery; grave reference IV.A.34. It was at Vailly-Sur-Aisne that the 3rd Division crossed the river Aisne on 12th September 1914 in the advance from the Marne. The war diary of the 16th Lancers may well give further information on how Pte Deadman was killed.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Friday, 11 September 2009

14617 L/Cpl Samuel Berrisford, 8th Bn, North Staffordshire Regt


14617 L/Cpl Samuel Berrisford of the 8th North Staffordshire Regiment was killed in action on 11th September 1915.

Samuel has surviving service papers in WO 363 at the National Archives, and the following information is largely taken from this source. These records can be accessed for free at The National Archives or by going to Ancestry or Findmypast. Click on the links to get to the relevant pages. I have published some on this post.




Samuel enlisted at Lichfield on 29th August 1914 giving his place of birth as Ipstones near Cheadle in Staffordshire. His age is noted as 20 years and four months which suggests that he had been born in April 1894. At the time of his enlistment he was working as a labourer.

Samuel stood five feet six and a half inches tall, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. His religion is noted as Wesleyan. In the "distinctive marks" section of his attestation form is recorded, "oblique scar across knuckle of left thumb" which, if nothing else, suggests that new recruits in Leek, where he was examined, were pretty thoroughly checked over. A small mole on his left shoulder blade is also deemed worthy of note.

Samuel remained at the regimental depot until 28th November 1914 when he was posted to the 11th (Service) Battalion. He was appointed lance-corporal on 22nd January 1915 and would remain in England until 24th August that year. The following day, on arrival in France, he was immediately posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion.

Effects Form 118A dated 18th November 1915 from the War Office in London directs the Officer in Charge of Infantry Records at Lichfield to despatch any article of property belonging to the late L/Cpl Berrisford to Mr John Berrisford of Colestone Common, Ipstones. The following items were duly sent:

photos and letters
1 notebook
2 prayer books, 1 hymn book
1 disc, 2 pencils
1 cap badge, 1 comb
1 whistle, 1 lock of hair
1 handkerchief

Samuel is buried in Le Touret Military Cemetery; grave reference II.A.31. He had been in France for just 18 days.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The images on this page are Crown Copyright, The National Archives, Kew.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

1963 Sgt William Eccles Holt, 1/5th King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment

As the Somme battles raged in 1916, British soldiers continued to fall in their hundreds. Seven hundred and eighty-three British soldiers died on this day alone in 1916. Just pause to think of that number again: 783 men on one day - 10th September 1916.

1963 Sgt William Eccles Holt of the 1/5th King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment was one of those 783 men to die on this day. He was 39 years old, the husband of Jessie Holt of 50 Belmont Road, Fleetwood in Lancashire.

William possibly had prior military experience. His number with the 1/5th King's Own appears to date to around August 1914. However, there is a surviving record in WO 363 for an 18 year old William Eccles Holt who joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 25th January 1897 (number 5443) and went on to serve during the Boer War before being discharged as a time-expired soldier in January 1909. This man, however, has his place of birth recorded as Blackburn, whereas Soldiers Died in The Great War notes the place of birth (and place of enlistment) as Fleetwood.

William's medal index card records his army service number as T5/1963 and notes that he arrived overseas on 14th February 1915.

William Eccles Holt is buried in Delville Wood Cemetery in Longueval; grave reference IV.G.3.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:


Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

2nd Lt Arthur Grant Bourne Chittenden, 2nd Bn, Manchester Regiment

Second Lieutenant Arthur Grant Bourne Chittenden of the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment, died of wounds on this day - 9th September - in 1914. He was born in 1894, his birth registered in Epsom, Surrey and, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was the 20 year old son of Mr and Mrs C. G. T. F. Chittenden of High Croft, Steyning, Sussex.

The Bond of Sacrifice, published in 1915, carries a small entry on - and a portrait photo of - Arthur. It reads:

"[Arthur Grant Bourne Chittenden] who was reported as having died of wounds received in action, in France, the actual date of his death not being known, was the youngest son of the late Charles Grant Thomas Faithfull Chittenden and Mrs Chittenden, Steyning, Sussex. Second Lieutenant Chittenden, who was only twenty years old when he died, was gazetted to the Manchester Regiment on the 24th January 1914."

Arthur's heavily annotated medal index card indicates that he arrived overseas with the 2nd Manchester Regiment on 14th August 1914. In 1917, his mother applied for the 1914 Star and in 1921 the clasp for this medal was also sent. The "roses" were not sent as these were to be affixed to the 1914 Star medal ribbon when worn on a jacket. As Arthur was dead, the roses would therfore not have been required. Mrs Chittenden's address is shown as High Croft, Steyning.

Arthur is buried in Montreuil-aux-Lions British Cemetery which was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of the Aisne. The cemetery contains 16 special memorials and Arthur has one of these.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

3088 Pte Selim Bernstein, 1st County of London Yeomanry

3088 Pte Selim Bernstein of the 1st County of London Yeomanry, died of wounds on the 8th September 1915; 94 years ago today. There are no service records surviving for this man but his medal index card (MIC) gives us a little information about him.

The number 3088 dates to before the First World War. My data is a little thin for pre-1914 County of London Yeomanry but I can say with certainty that he enlisted between January 1912 and March 1913, and probably mid to late 1912. His MIC states that he arrived in Egypt on the 28th April 1915 and also indicates that he died of wounds. This information is also carried on the Soldiers Died in The Great War database which notes that Selim was born in London, living in Bow, east London, and enlisted at Chelsea.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission database notes that he was the son of the late Alexander and Jane Bernstein and that he is buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Turkey. Selim is commemorated on a special memorial (reference A.24) and The War Graves Photographic Project holds a photograph of this.

Selim was Jewish and his memorial has the Star of David engraved upon it. There is a birth record for a Selim Solomon Bernstein in London for the September quarter of 1894 and this is possibly him. His medal index card notes that his 1914-15 Star is to be stamped "S Bernstein" whilst his British War and Victory Medals are to be stamped (actually, "impressed" is the correct term) simply "Bernstein".

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 Census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918\
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Monday, 7 September 2009

G/87275 Pte Leonard Stephen Sadgrove, 23rd Bn Royal Fusiliers

G/87275 Pte Leonard Stephen Sadgrove of the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers was one of 471 soldiers to die on the 7th September 1918.

Leonard was a south Londoner: born in Greenwich, living in Lee and enlisted at Camberwell. According to Soldiers Died in The Great War he had formerly served with a Training Reserve Battalion (number Tr/Lon/63997) and with the 52nd (Young Soldiers' Battalion) of the Royal Fusiliers.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Leonard was 18 years old when he died and that he was the "son of James Henry and Louisa Blanche Sadgrove of 24 Brandram Road, Lewisham, London. His brother James Thomas Sadgrove also fell."

The 1901 census shows Leonard as a one year old infant living with his parents and siblings in Greenwich. James is noted as being seven years old on the 1901 census. He was killed in action on 6th September 1916 and thus the boys' parents had the unhappy duty of commemorating their sons' deaths on consecutive days in September.

Leonard is buried in Sanders Keep Military Cemetery in Graincourt Les Havrincourt whilst his brother James has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme. His number with the 5th London Regiment is recorded as 300080; a number which was not actually issued until 1917 when the Territorial Force was re-numbered. At this point then, James was not officially recorded as having been killed, simply missing in action. His death in action would have been "presumed" later in 1917. The number also tells us that James was a pre-war Territroial and enlisted with the 5th Londons in early 1912.

Remembering today, Leonard and James Sadgrove.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 Census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sunday, 6 September 2009

3258 Sgt Evelyn Guy Whiteman, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards


3258 Sgt Evelyn Guy Whiteman of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards was killed in action 95 years ago today: 6th September 1914. He was 24 years old and the son of Nelson and Eliza Hannah Whiteman of Dover.

Sergeant Whiteman's number indicates that he must have joined the 4th Dragoon Guards - the regiment credited with being the first British unit to fire a shot in the Great War - in late April or early May 1909. According to Soldiers Died in The Great War he was born in Sandhurst, Kent, was living in Dover and enlisted at Canterbury.

Evelyn Whiteman arrived in France on 16th August 1914 and had therefore been overseas for under three weeks before he was killed. He was serving with B Squadron at the time of his death, and is buried in Perreuse Chateau Franco British National Cemetery in France. The cemetery, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, "contains 150 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 of them unidentified, and all brought in from the surrounding battlefields." Evelyn Whiteman's grave reference is 1.D.34.

In October 1920, Nelson Whiteman applied for the clasp and roses for his late son's 1914 Star, and these were duly issued on 13th November that year and sent to Mr Whiteman at 18 Buckland Avenue, Dover.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
WW1 Cemeteries for the photo of Perreuse Chateau cemetery

Saturday, 5 September 2009

548804 Sapper Gerhard Engelbert Kaemena, 212th Field Company, Royal Engineers


548804 Sapper Gerhard Engelbert Kaemena of the 212th Field Company, Royal Engineers was killed in action on this day, 5th September, 1917. He enlisted under the Derby Scheme on 11th December 1915 and was called up four months later on the 17th April 1916.

Thirty one pages of Gerhard's service record survive in the WO 363 series at the National Archives and from these we can see that he was 37 years and 10 months old when he attested, and he was a carpenter and joiner by trade. He indicated at the time of attestation that he would prefer to join the Corps of Engineers.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commision notes that he was the son of Gerhard and Amelia Kaemena of London, and his attestation papers give his address as 33 Thornhill Road in Leyton. Gerhard senior had certainly died some years before as the 1901 census records 50 year old Amelia as a widow and the head of the household (at 33 Thornhill Road). She is recorded as having been born in Whitechapel - as are the three sons and two daughters living with her. Her husband though, a licensed victualler at the time the 1881 census was taken, was German and had been born in Bremen. Although he could quite possibly lay claim to being a cockney, one wonders how many eyebrows were raised when Gerhard, clad in khaki, mentioned his name.

Gerhard is buried in Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, three miles east of Ypres town centre.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363 Service Record, 1881 and 1901 census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Birr Cross Roads Cemetery photo from WW1 Battlefields

Friday, 4 September 2009

S/16609 Pte John Sheddens, 1st Bn, Cameron Highlanders


765 men died on this day, 4th September, 1916. Such casualty figures seem incomprehensible today, but as the 1916 Somme battles dragged on, and with the nearly 20,000 casualties on 1st July 1916 alone, long lists of names in newspapers were a daily fixture throughout the British Empire.

S/16609 Pte John Sheddens of the 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders was one of those 765 casualties on September 4th 1916. He died of wounds and is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt L'Abbe. Soldiers Died in The Great War records that he was born in the pretty Scottish village of Dalserf in Lanarkshire and was living at Larkhall when he enlisted there. His number indicates an enlistment date of early January 1915 and he arrived in France on 11th May 1915.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission records his surname SHEDDANS.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Photograph of the rear of Dalserf Parish Church (with what looks to be the village war memorial to the left) from Geograph.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

7990 Pte William Himmons, 1st Bn, Dorsetshire Regiment


7990 Pte William Himmons of the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment died of wounds on 3rd September 1914. William was a career soldier who had enlisted on 18th July 1906 at Winchester for nine years with the colours and three on the reserve. He was born at Thatcham, near Newbury in Berkshire and was living at Newbury at the time of his enlistment. He was 19 years and six months old and had been working as a labourer.

William's service record survives as a burnt document at the National Archives and from it we can see that at the time of his enlistment he was nearly five feet ten and a half inches tall, had a dark complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. "Church of England" was the religion noted for him.

William's record is quite badly damaged and a lot of papers appear to have been lost. However, we can see that he remained at the regimental depot until 8th December 1906 and was then posted to the 1st Battalion. There are a few entries on his regimental defaulter sheet, which though minor, at least place him in definite locations at various times during his early military career. On 26th August 1908 he was absent from the tattoo at Bulford Camp and didn't show up again until the 31st of August. On 29th June 1910 whilst the battalion was at Portsmouth, he overstayed his leave by 23 hours and also missed the parade as a result. He was awarded ten days confined to barracks as a punishment, a sentence that today seems extremely harsh. On 22nd November the same year, William was awarded a further ten days confined to barracks for "improper conduct in town". That was at Blackdown.

William was transferred to the army reserve on 30th June 1911 having served just under five years with the colours. It is not clear from his record why he was transferred on this date as by rights he should have remained with the colours until 1915. Nevertheless, he was recalled when war was declared and by 16th August 1914 he was in France with his regiment.

William's papers note on 28th August 1914 that he was "missing from battalion since 24/8/14" that he was a prisoner of war and that he had been admitted to a hospital in Mons. The hospital's name is incomplete (due to water damage to his papers) but appears to start with the words Comite de. There is a further note that he died in the same hospital on 3rd September 1914. This goes against information elsewhere on his papers that state he was killed in action at Warnes near Mons.

The image at the top of this post shows just how badly damaged William's papers are and it appears from it that there was a degree of uncertainty about his fate. Nevertheless, by 31st July 1915 the War Office was sufficiently confident to write that, "the unofficial report of the death of this soldier on 3rd September 1914 has been accepted as sufficient evidence for official purposes. Will you please notify the next of kin accordingly and prepare the usual papers."

William's next of kin was his widow, Florence Himmons (nee Gore) whom he had married at Newbury on the 5th October 1912. The couple had one child, a boy (name unclear from the service papers) who had been born on 1st April 1914 and who therefore never really knew his father. At the time of his enlistment, William had recorded his next of kin as his father (William), mother (Ellen) and brother (Harry), all living at 11 Adeys Building, York Road, Newbury.

Later, Florence would marry a Mr F Champ and there is a letter from him in William's file which he wrote to the military record office in Exeter in November 1921 enquiring whether Florence was entitled to the "death plate". There is no evident reply, but she would of course have been entitled to receive the memorial plaque, and there are signed acknowledgements from her for William's medals and the clasp for his 1914 Star.

William is buried in Hautrage Military Cemetery; grave reference I.A.10. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that, "the village of Hautrage was in German hands during almost the whole of the First World War. The military cemetery was begun by the Germans in August and September 1914, and in the summer of 1918 they brought into it a large number of British graves of 1914, mostly of the 2nd Cavalry and 5th Infantry Divisions, from the surrounding battlefields and local cemeteries."

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363 Service Record)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

G/12744 Pte John Huxstep, 1st Bn, Royal West Kent Regiment


G/12744 Pte John Huxstep of the 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, was killed in action on the 2nd September 1916. Nineteen pages of his service record survive as a burnt document in the WO 363 series at the National Archives, and the following information comes from this.

John attested under the Derby Scheme on the 11th December 1915. He was 33 years and 10 months old and was living at 2 Perrius Cottages, Wouldham, Kent. He gave his trade as "Labourer". He was unmarried and his mother, Sarah Huxstep, is recorded on his papers as his next of kin and living at the same address. In time she would acknowledge receipt of her son's medals and memorial plaque at Perrins Cottages.

John was called up at Maidstone on 23rd April 1916 and issued with the number G/12744. He was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion the following day and on 22nd June 1916, less than two months after he had been called up, he was shouldering a pack in France. He was immediately posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment and two days later sent to the No 5 Infantry Base Depot in France. On the 9th July 1916 was posted to the 22nd Manchester Regiment and it was whilst he was with this battalion that he was killed in action.

It is interesting that his service records indicates that John Huxstep was "posted" to the Manchester Regiment and yet his medal index card and the information on Soldiers Died in The Great War and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission indicate his regiment as the Royal West Kent, and his number as a Royal West Kent Regiment number. This being the case, and despite what the service record says, it seems more likely that he had been attached to the RWK Regiment rather than actually being transferred.

John Huxstep has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. His brother George Arthur Huxstep was also killed in action during the First World War. He died on 7th January 1917 and is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery. Both men are commemorated on memorial plaques located in the Lych Gate of the parish church of All Saints in Wouldham, near Rochester in Kent. Two other brothers and a sister were certainly still living in 1919.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 363 Service Record)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Photographs of the Lych Gate at All Saints Church, and details of Wouldham's fallen appear on the Kent Fallen website. I've taken the image on this post from that site.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

202545 L/Cpl Peter Penman, 2/5th Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment


202545 Lance-Corporal Peter Penman of the 2/5th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on this day, 1st September, in 1917. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he had previously served with the Royal Scots Regiment (number 882) but does not mention which battalion.

Peter was born in Bathgate, Linlithgow, and enlisted there. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) tells us that he was 23 years old when he was killed, which places his year birth as 1893 or 1894. His Royal Scots number cannot belong to a service battalion or a regular battalion, and whilst Linlithgow was the HQ for the 10th (Cyclist) Battalion, it was numbering in a higher sequence. So by a process of elimination, 882 must belong to another Territorial Force battalion and dates to 1909. This is confirmed by Peter's medal index card which notes that he was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals and the Territorial Force War Medal. (You can read more about the TF War Medal by clicking the link to my British Army Medals blog).

In the absence of a surviving service record, it would appear that Peter remained in the UK with the Royal Scots and transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in late 1916 (possibly whilst overseas). CWGC adds that Peter was the brother of David Penman, of Smith's Buildings, Bridgend, Bathgate, East Lothian; that he has no known grave and is commemorated on the memorial at Tyne Cot.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Tyne Cot image from Trip Advisor.

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