Saturday, 31 October 2009

1721 Pte John Middlemass, 7th Bn, Royal Scots

1721 Private John Middlemass of the 7th Battalion, Royal Scots died on the 31st October 1915. He was 23 years old and the son of Robert and Jane Middlemass, of 18, Parsons Green Terrace, Edinburgh.

John must have joined the 7th Royal Scots one or two days after Britain went to war with Germany and he arrived overseas (the Balkans) on the 3rd September 1915. He died at the military hospital in Netley, probably as a result of illness or sickness rather than wounds. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes "died" and also records that he was born in Leith and enlisted in Leith (home of the 7th Royal Scots) and living in Edinburgh.

John Middlemass is buried in Netley Military Cemetery which, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission states, "... is a permanent military cemetery, the property of the Ministry of Defence. The cemetery was at the back of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital and was used during both wars for burials from the hospital. The cemetery contains 636 First World War burials but only 35 from the Second World War. In addition to the Commonwealth graves, there are a number of war graves of other nationalities including 69 German graves dating from the First World 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

Friday, 30 October 2009

39780 L/Cpl Lewis Losh, 1st Bn, York and Lancaster Regt

39780 Lance-Corporal Lewis Losh of the 1st Battalion, York and Lancaster Regt, died of wounds on the 30th October 1916. He was 24 years old and the son of Lewis and Margaret Losh of 25, Athol Street, Earlestown, Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire.

Lewis was born at St. Helens, Lancashire and enlisted at Earlestown. Soldiers Died in The Great War indicates that he had formerly served with the Lancashire Hussars and had the number 732. Fortunately, papers from Lewis's service record survive at the National Archives, and the following information is taken from these.

Lewis joined the Lancashire Hussars Yeomanry on the 6th December 1911. He was 20 years and five months old, and working as a labourer. The address he gave is the one mentioned above. He was embodied on the 5th August 1914 and appointed paid lance-corporal on the 6th May 1916.

On the 3rd September 1916, Lewis was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Liverpool Regiment (and given the new number 55578) and then, 13 days later, posted to the base depot of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. On the 22nd October 1916 he was transferred to the 1st Battalion, York and Lancs Regiment. Eight days later he died of wounds.

Lewis's service record is quite badly water-damaged and difficult to read in places. His name is mis-recorded as Lawrence Losh in places and there is also a note from his commanding officer (dated 21st December 1916) that he was killed in action and buried in the cemetery at Haznatar in what was then Salonica, but is now Greece.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that Lewis is now buried in Struma Military Cemetery in Greece and that:

"In the autumn of 1916, the 40th Casualty Clearing Station was established not far from the road near the 71 Kilometre stone and the cemetery made for it was originally called Kilo 71 Military Cemetery. The original plot, Plot I, was set too close to a ravine and the graves in it were moved after the Armistice to the present plots VIII and IX. The remainder of the cemetery consists almost entirely of graves brought in from the battlefields, from the churchyards at Homondos, Haznatar and Kalendra, and from small front line cemeteries established by field ambulances or fighting units. The most significant of these were Ormanli, Dolab Wood and Big Tree Well. Struma Military Cemetery contains 947 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 51 of them unidentified. There are also 15 war graves of other nationalities."

My italics and bold.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thursday, 29 October 2009

68320 Gnr Arthur Gunton, RGA

68320 Gunner Arthur Gunton of the 162nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery died of pneumonia on the 29th October 1918. Parts of his service record survive in the WO 363 burnt documents series and the following information is largely taken from these.

Arthur attested at Chatteris in Cambridgeshire on the 18th November 1915. He gave his address as the parental home: 45 West Street, Chatteris, his age as 24 years, and his occupation as farm labourer. He was five feet eleven inches tall.

On 11th February 1916 he was mobilised with the Royal Garrison Artillery and after seven months in England (during which time he obtained a qualification in signalling and telephony) he sailed for France, arriving at Havre on the 5th September 1916.

His service record is difficult to read in places but it looks as though he was granted UK leave twice: once in October 1917 and then again in October 1918. This latter leave commenced on the 8th October and ended on the 22nd. Five days later Arthur was admitted to the 42nd Casualty Clearing Station in France, suffering from pneumonia and he died there two days later, his service record stating, "died from pneumonia due to illness attributed to active service operations."

Arthur is buried in Douai British Cemetery at Cuincy and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission provides useful information about the cemetery:

"Douai was occupied by French troops and the Royal Naval Air Service on the 22nd September, 1914, and captured by the Germans on the 1st October; it remained in enemy hands until the 17th October, 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station was posted in the town from the 28th October, 1918, to the 25th November, 1919. Douai British Cemetery was begun at the end of October, 1918, and closed in November, 1919; but graves were brought into it later from the neighbouring battlefields and from other burial grounds, including:- EMERCHICOURT CHURCHYARD, which contained 20 Commonwealth burials (mainly Canadians) of October and November, 1918. PETIT-CUINCY GERMAN CEMETERY, CUINCY, which contained 12 Commonwealth burials. There are over 200, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, a small number are unidentified and a special memorial is erected to a soldier from the United Kingdom, buried in RAIMBEAUCOURT GERMAN CEMETERY, whose grave could not be found. The British Cemetery covers an area of 718 square metres and is enclosed by a low stone rubble wall."

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

16871 Pte William Alfred Inchley, 2nd Bn, Northamptonshire Regt

16871 Private William Alfred Inchley of the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in action on the 28th October 1915.

William was born in Middleton, Northants and he enlisted at Kettering in the second half of December 1914. His medal index card notes that he arrived in France on the 25th August 1915 and so he'd barely been overseas for two months when he was killed. He is buried in X Farm Cemetery at La Chapelle D'Armentieres in France.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives the barest detail about this man and records him simply as W A Inchley. He is possibly the same Alfred William Inchley whose birth was registered in the Kettering district of Northamptonshire in the June quarter of 1891, but I have been unable to find convincing matches for both William Alfred and Alfred William on census returns.

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

Sources:

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

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

7174 Pte Alfred Ledgard, 1st Bn, Lincolnshire Regt

7174 Private Alfred Ledgard of the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, was killed in action on the 27th October 1914, aged 29. He was the husband of Emily Ledgard of 106 Chassum Street, Manningham, Bradford in Yorkshire and he had originally joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in November or December 1903.

According to his medal index card, Alfred arrived overseas on the 25th August 1914 and was killed in action on the 17th October 1914, although the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Soldiers Died in The Great war both give the 27th.

Alfred was born in Manningham, Bradford and enlisted in Bradford. He had married Emily Ryder in Bradford in the December quarter of 1909.

Alfred Ledgard has no known grave and is commemorated on the war memorial at Le Touret.

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

Sources:

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

Monday, 26 October 2009

242310 L/Cpl Reginald Revill, 1/4th Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers

242310 Lance-Corporal Reginald Revill of the 1/4th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action on the 26th October 1917. His medal index card states "presumed dead" while Soldiers Died in The Great War, (SDGW) states "died".

Reginald was one of over 2600 British soldiers to die on this date, the vast majority of these men - like Reginald - killed in the 3rd Battle of Ypres. His medal index card indicates that he initially joined the 4th Northumberland Fusiliers, probably in early 1916 and later transferred to the 5th Battalion. His six digit number belongs to the series allocated to the 5th Battalion although both SDGW and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission give his battalion as the 1/4th.

Reginald Revill has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Sunday, 25 October 2009

9742 Cpl Frederick George Cronan, Welsh Regiment

9742 Corporal Frederick George Cronan of the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment died of wounds on the 25th October 1915. He was presumably wounded overseas, was shipped back to England on a hospital ship and died in England. Born in London, the son of William Henry Cronan, Frederick is buried in Nunhead (All Saints) Cemetery and was 24 years old when he died.

Soldiers Died in The Great War records that he was serving with the 2nd Battalion, whilst the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives E Company, 1st Battalion. His service record no longer survives at the National Archives.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Saturday, 24 October 2009

9482 Pte Patrick Shegog, 2nd Bn, Cameronians

9482 Private Patrick Shegog of the 2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was killed in action on the 24th October 1916. He had been in France since 5th November 1914 and was probably a career soldier who had originally joined the battalion in 1907 or 1908.

Patrick Shegog was born in Govan and enlisted at Glasgow. He was 28 years old at the time of his death and is buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery at Colincamps on the Somme.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Friday, 23 October 2009

265522 Pte Thomas Edward Collinge, 1/4th Bn, King's Own

265522 Private Thomas Edward Collinge of the 1/4th Battalion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) was killed in action on the 23rd October 1918. He was born in Bentham, Yorkshire and enlisted at Lancaster.

Surviving papers in the WO 363 series at the National Archives reveal that Thomas originally joined the 5th King's Own on 16th March 1909. He was 25 years and five months old, stood five feet five and a half inches tall and was a brick setter by trade. He was given the army number 703.

On 19th October 1914 at Didcot, Thomas took the Imperial Service pledge to serve overseas. He appears to have remained in England until 4th April 1917 although there are also gaps in his service history. He certainly embarked - perhaps for a second time - at Folkestone and disembarked Boulogne on 5th July 1917. He was posted to the 2/5th King's Own the following day and then transferred to the 1/4th King's Own on 13th September 1917. This is when he would have been allocated the number 265522.

Between 13th and 27th February 1918 Thomas was on furlough in England and the following month, despite being a time-expired Territorial, he was re-engaged under the Military Service Act of 1916. On 19th April 1918 he was admitted to the 2/1st Wessex Field Ambulance with exhaustion but returned to his battalion the following day.

On 27th May 1918, Thomas's sister, Alice Collinge wrote to the military authorities:

Dear Sir

Would you please forward 265522 Pte F E Collinge's time expired papers to his commanding officer. His time was expired in March so would you be so kind as to forward his papers on. He asked me in his letter if I would write and ask you for him as [I] had a better chance [than he] had. I am his sister so I hope you will excuse me taking this liberty.

It was to no avail and Thomas was killed in action a few months later. In April 1919 his mother received a pathetic bundle of effects containing his two identity discs, letters, photographs, a metal mirror, two religious books, a broken rosary, a savings receipt and religious emblems. Three years later, she received his British War and Victory medals.

Thomas Collinge is buried in Froidmont Communal Cemetery, one of nine First Word War burials at this cemetery.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO363)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thursday, 22 October 2009

10029 Pte George Yates, 2nd Bn, Worcestershire Regiment

10029 Private George Yates of the 2nd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment was killed in action on the 22nd October 1914, one of 425 men to die on this date.

George's army number indicates that he joined uthe Worcestershire Regiment around July or August 1906 and he was probably therefore on the Reserve when war was declared. His medal index card indciates that he arrived overseas on 30th August 1914.

George was born in Stourbridge and living in Tipton when he enlisted at Worcester. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

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, 21 October 2009

6865 Pte Walter Thomas Kell, 2nd Bn, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry

790 British soldiers died on the 21st October 1914 and Walter Kell was one of these men. He was 6865 Pte Walter Thomas Kell of the 2nd Battalion, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry.

Walter certainly had been a regular soldier who had originally joined the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry in 1901. Unless he had extended his period of service with the army he would have completed his seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve by the time Britain went to war. Nevertheless, he must have been in khaki again pretty soon after 4th August 1914 because ten days later he was in France.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was 31 years old and the brother of Mrs. Rose Woollett of 14 Norcutt Road, Twickenham in Middlesex.

Walter Kell has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

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, 20 October 2009

1977 Pte Bernard Frank Flanders, 20th Bn, London Regiment

1977 Private Bernard Frank Flanders of the 20th Battalion, The London Regiment was killed in action on the 20th October 1915. He was born in Hitchin in Hertfordshire but was living in East Dulwich at the time of his enlistment. He joined up at Blackheath between the 10th and 18th August 1914.

Bernard arrived in France on 9th March 1915 and he was serving with C Company, 1/20th London Regiment at the time of his death. He was killed in the fighting around Loos and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Loos memorial. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website adds the additional information that he was 23 years old and the "son of Emma Flanders of 5 Oakfield Place, St. Paul's Road, Clifton, Bristol, and the late George Charles Flanders (A.M.I., R.F.C.)".

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, 19 October 2009

290511 Sgt William Ikin, 1/7th Bn, Cheshire Rgt

290511 Sergeant William Ikin of the 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment died on the 19th October 1917.

William's original number - 2324 - indicates that he first joined the 1/7th Cheshires in September 1914. His medal index card shows that he arrived overseas (in the Balkans) on 8th August 1915, and he died in Palestine. He is buried in Deir el Belah War Cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission reports as follows:

"On 28 February 1917, the cavalry of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered Khan Yunus, midway between the Egyptian border and Deir el Belah causing the Turks to withdraw to Gaza and Beersheba. The railway was pushed forward to Deir el Belah, which became the railhead in April 1917, and an aerodrome and camps were established there. The cemetery was begun towards the end of March and remained in use until March 1919. Most of the burials were made either from field ambulances from March to June 1917, or from the 53rd, 54th, 66th and 74th Casualty Clearing Stations, and the 69th General Hospital, from April 1917 until the Armistice with Turkey. A number of graves, the majority of which were originally at Khan Yunus, were brought into the cemetery after the Armistice. The cemetery contains 724 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. There are also ten war graves of other nationalities."

William was born at Over in Cheshire, was living at Winsford and enlisted at Macclesfield.

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, 18 October 2009

7782 Sgt William John Lissmore Kersey, 2nd Bn, Hampshire Regiment

7782 Sergeant William John Lissmore Kersey of the 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment was 26 years old when he was killed in action on 18th October 1916. He was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight and was the son of John Lissmore Kersey of East Cowes.

William Kersey's medal index card notes that he was a private when he first landed overseas in Gallipoli on the 15th June 1915 and that he was an acting sergeant at the time of his death. His number looks to date to 11907 and marks him as a regular soldier who, unless he had extended his service, had probably only been on the Reserve for two or three months before he was recalled to the Colours.

William Kersey was one of 792 British soldiers to die on this day in 1916 but unlike many, he has a known grave. He is one of 1773 men buried in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery at Longueval.

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, 17 October 2009

6723 Pte Robert Leppington, 2nd Bn, Scots Guards

319 British soldiers died on this day in 1915. On October 17th 1914, 83 men had died; on 17th October 1916 another 329 men, and 447 on the same day in 1917, the majority of these in the muck and filth around Passchendaele. In 1918, on the Advance to Victory, exactly 1000 officers and men gave up their lives for King and Country. That's 2178 men who died on 17th October, and those of course are just the British casualties. And behind every man a mother or father, a wife, children, brothers, sisters...

2178 men on one day, 17th October; one day of many and not the worst day in the war by a long shot - unless you happened to be a relative of one of those 2178 men.

Robert Leppington is the man I am commemorating on this blog today. His parents certainly mourned his loss. After the war, when contacted by the Imperial War Graves Commission, they asked that he should be remembered as the "son of Tom and Eliza Leppington, of 33, Beaconsfield St., Seamer Rd., Scarborough." They also added proudly, "served seven years in the 1st Battalion."

Robert's number dates to April 1907 and so by the time he was killed in the fighting around Loos, he had served for over eight years with Scots Guards. Given his joining date it seems likely that he served his seven years with the Colours and had only been on the Reserve for four months when war was declared. Recalled to the Colours, he almost certainly went straight into the 2nd Battalion and sailed with the battalion for France. His medal index card notes that he arrived overseas on the 7th October 1914, the date on which the 2nd Battalion - after a false start due to enemy submarines - arrived at Zeebrugge.

And so it seems likely that Robert fought with the battalion for a little over year before Loos finally claimed him. Like so many soldiers of the First World War he has no known grave and is remembered instead on the Loos Memorial. And now here too.

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, 16 October 2009

202923 Pte Benjamin Daintry Hillsdon, 6th Bn, Royal West Kent Regt

202923 Benjamin Daintry Hillsden of the 6th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regt, died of wounds in England on the 16th October 1918.

Soldiers Died in The Great War spells his surname Hillsden but I think this is incorrect. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his medal index card and the register of births record the spelling as Hillsdon.

Benjamin's number belongs to the series issued to the 4th (Territorial Force) Battalion and whilst I can't exactly pin down the date that he joined the Royal West Kent Regiment, it looks as though this was the latter part of the war. He certainly wasn't overseas until 1916 at the earliest.

Benjamin was born in Whitmore, Staffordshire in late 1888 or early 1889 and was living in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, when he enlisted, He joined up at Bedford. He was the son of Ben and Eliza Hillsden and had at least six siblings. On the 1891 and 1901 census returns, Ben Hillsdon senior is recorded as a coachman and he was obviously earning well enough in 1891 to afford a 14 year old servant girl - Flora Nelson - who was also staying with the family.

Private Hillsdon is buried in King's Walden (St Mary) Churchyard in Hertfordshire and is almost certainly mentioned on the local war memorial, although I don't know this for sure.

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

Thursday, 15 October 2009

S/9579 Pte James Thomas Herrmann, 1st Bn, Rifle Brigade

Thirty-one year old S/9579 Private James Thomas Herrmann of the 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade died of wounds on the 15th October 1917. He was the husband of Jane Herrmann of 43 Moore Park Road, Fulham, London and is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

James Herrmann's number dates to mid April 1915 and his medal index card indicates that he was overseas by 20th July that year.

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, 14 October 2009

L/10042 Pte Pierce Dowling, 4th Bn, Middlesex Regiment

L/10042 Private Pierce Dowling of the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment was killed in action on the 14th October 1914.

Pierce had joined the Middlesex Regiment in early 1905 and thus was probably recalled to the Colours as a reservist when Britain went to war with Germany. His medal index card notes that he arrived overseas on 12th September 1914 and that an application for the claps for his 1914 Star was made on the 9th December 1920. This was duly sent to his next of kin at 53 Streatham Road, Acre Lane, Brixton.

Pierce Dowling was born in Kilkenny, Ireland and enlisted in Dublin. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret 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

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

7042 L/Cpl Charles Joseph Dolwin, HAC

7042 Lance-Corporal Charles Joseph Dolwin of the 2nd Battalion Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) died of wounds on the 13th October 1916. He was 24 years old and, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was "the son of William Walter Dolwin of Yaxley Cottage, Sharp's Lane, Ruislip, Middx. Native of Muswell Hill, London."

Charles Dowlwin's partial service record survives as a burnt document at the National Archives and so I am able to fill in a little more information about him.

Charles attested with the 12th London Regiment at its headquarters in Chenies Street on the 4th September 1914. He gave his address as 39 Rosebery Road, Muswell Hill which, at the time, was his father's address. Charles was tall - six feet, two and a half inches - and gave his trade or calling as "clerk". He stated that he had been born at St Pancras in London.

He was appointed lance-corporal on 25th January 1915 and on 5th July that year was attached to the 102nd Provisional Battalion (formerly the 2/12th Londons). In January 1916, whilst stationed at Wimbledon, Charles applied for a transfer to the 2nd Battalion, HAC. At the time, his character was described as "very good" and the transfer duly went ahead on the 11th February 1916. Transferred as a private, and with a new number - 7042 - he was later appointed lance-corporal (22nd July 1916).

Charles remained in England until the 2nd October 1916 and, having spent over two years in the army, applied for a transfer, and signed the Imperial Obligation form was presumably eager to see active service overseas. Little would he guess of course, that he would be in France for less than two weeks before making the supreme sacrifice.

A memo dated 5th November 1916 and sent to the Officer in Charge of records for the Territorial Force in London, notes that Charles was buried in "English Plot, Rue de Romarin Cemetery, Belgium" and that this was reported on the 24th October 1916 by the officer commanding the 21st Field Ambulance. No burial date is recorded, although it does state that Charles died of wounds.

In February 1917, the authorities returned Charles's personal possessions to his father. The long inventory reads as follows: Disc [presumably one of his two identification discs, the other one being left on his body], letter, braces, knife, belt, 18ct ring, wrist watch, strap and cover, numerals, badge, pipe, note book, cigarette case, comb, handkerchief, photo, wallet, whistle and cord, two parcels, scissors and a pouch. To see such a long list is unusual; equally unusual - in my experience at least - is to see a list containing items of value like the gold ring and (presumably) wrist watch.

Charles is buried in Nieppe Communal Cemetery which contains 62 Commonwealth burials of the First World 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

Monday, 12 October 2009

3888 Trooper Ernest Chacksfield, Household Battalion

The equivalent strength of nearly two infantry battalions died on this day - 12th October - in 1917: 1819 officers and men. In one day. The vast majority lost their lives in the muck and mud around Ypres during what would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres or simply, Passchendaele. Ernest Chacksfield was one of these men.

388 Trooper Chacksfield of the Household Battalion had formerly served with the 1st Lifeguards (number 4157). This latter number suggests that he joined the Lifeguards in late November or early December 1915 and then transferred to the Household Battalion when it was formed in September 1916. He almost certainly joined that battalion on the 1st September, along with other Lifeguards and Horse Guards transferees. His medal index card only notes entitlement to the British War and Victory Medals and so we know that Ernest did not go overseas until 1916 at the earliest.

Soldiers died in the Great war notes that he was born in Tenterden (Kent) and enlisted there. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he was 20 years old at the time of his death and was the son of Walter Edgerton Chacksfield of Folly Hill, Cranbrook, Kent, and the late Mary Chacksfield.

Like so many killed during Third Ypres, Ernest Chacksfield has no known grave and is therefore commemorated by name on the vast Tyne Cot 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

Sunday, 11 October 2009

3/5840 Pte John Purcell, 1st Bn, Cameron Highlanders

3/5840 Private John Purcell of the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders was killed in action on the 11th October 1914. His number indicates that he joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion on about the 20th August 1914 and so he had not been overseas very long before he was killed.

Strangely, his medal index card makes no mention of his award of the 1914 Star (and clasp) to which he would have been entitled. There is a note next to the entries for the British War and Victory medals that these were returned (and would have been broken up after ten years).

I would suggest that John Purcell was probably an old soldier and was almost immediately posted to a regular battalion after he enlisted with the Special Reserve. It was then probably a matter of weeks or even days before he found himself overseas with the regular 1st Battalion.

John Purcell is buried in Vendresse British Cemetery on the Aisne. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission adds no additional detail about him, although Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in Camelon, Falkirk, was living in Glasgow and enlisted in Edinburgh.

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, 10 October 2009

15247 Pte John Musk, 2nd Bn, Yorkshire Regiment

15247 Pte John Musk of the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment died on the 10th October 1915. He was 28 years old, the son of Mrs and the late Mr S J Musk, and the husband of Mabel Musk of Elma Avenue, Edinburgh Street, Hessle Road, Hull.

John Musk's number indicates that he joined the Yorkshire Regiment around the 7th October 1914 and he arrived in France on the 2nd October 1915. He'd therefore been overseas for just over a week when he died. Soldiers Died in The Great War does not indicate whether he died of wounds of was killed in action, simply stating "died". His medal index card has the word "Dead" written in red pen. No service record for John Musk appears to survive.

Private Musk is buried in St Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, well away from any action and the scene of disembarkation for the majority of troops arriving in France. It also had a number of hospitals and it seems possible that John Musk died in one of those hospitals, perhaps succumbing to an accidental injury or dying of sickness before he ever got out of the town.

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, 9 October 2009

106170 Pte John George Granger, 1/5th Bn, Sherwood Foresters

712 British soldiers died on this day in 1918. Even so many years on, and with so much written about the Great War, such First World War casualty figures never cease to stagger me.

106170 Private John George Granger of the 1/5th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters was one of those men to lose his life on this day. Service papers survive in the WO 363 (Burnt Documents) series and the following information is taken from these and Soldier's Died in The Great War.

George Granger was born in March, Cambridgeshire and he was living at 8 George Street in March, when he was called up at Bury St Edmunds on 4th June 1917 aged 18 years and one month. He gave his trade as agricultural labourer and indicated that his preferred branch of the army was the Royal Field Artillery.

George was initially posted to the 3rd Training Reserve Battalion and remained there until the 8th August 1917 when he was posted 15th Training Reserve Battalion. He was given the number TR/5/10780. He was subsequently transferred to the 51st Sherwood Foresters and on the 22nd March 1918 he disembarked in France and was immediately posted to the 2/5th Battalion. On 18th April 1918 he received a shrapnel wound to his hand and left thigh and was admitted to the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne the following day. The wounds were obviously not serious enough to necessitate him being sent home and just over a week later he was at a Base Depot in Calais awaiting a further posting. This duly came on 25th May 1918 when he was posted to the 1/5th Sherwood Foresters. He joined the battalion in the Field on 1st June 1918.

George spent another spell in hospital in August 1918 due to sickness and was seriously wounded on the 29th September. Admitted first to a CCS on the 29th, he was transferred to the 2nd General Hospital at Havre on the 3rd October with, what looks like, "G[un] S[hot] R[ight] side, renal, abdomen". He died of his wounds at the same hospital six days later.

George is buried in St Marie Cemetery, Le Havre. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was 19 years old and the son of Son of George Granger of 8 George St, March, Cambs.

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

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lt Arthur Anson, 3rd Bn, Grenadier Guards

According to Officers Died in The Great War, Lt Arthur Anson of the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards was killed in action on the 8th October 1915. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, however, records his date of death as the 11th October 1915, whilst his medal index card held at the National Archives notes that he was killed in action on the 27th September 1915.

Of the three dates, the CWGC one is probably the most accurate and an examionation of his file at the NA, and the battalion war diary might categorically determine when Arthur was actually killed.

Arthur was the son of the Honourable F W Anson and is buried at Phalempin Communal Cemetery in France. He had arrived in France on 26th July 1915. The address on the reverse of his medal index card (that is, the address to which his medals would have been sent) is E F Cape Esq, c/o Hon Mr F Anson, Glemtards [probably an incorrect transcription on my part], Veredam Road, St Albans.

Arthur appears on the 1901 census as a five year old living at Cell Barnes in St Albans with his parents, his uncle (a 42 year old major with the Highland Light Infantry) and ten servants. His father is described on the census as a Justice of the Peace.

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

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

L/8446 Pte Benjamin Gammage, 1st Bn, The Queen's

L/8446 Private Benjamin Gammage of the 1st Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, died of wounds on 7th October 1914.

Benjamin Gammage certainly had been a career soldier. His number suggests that he joined the Queen's in July 1905 which means that unless he had extended his terms of service (assuming that he had enlisted for 7 years with the Colours and 5 on the Reserve) he was a reservist recalled to the Colours when Britain went to war with Germany. In any event, he was in France by the 12th August and, along with the original BEF, must have had a hard time of it in those initial desperate weeks.

I have been unable to find Benjamin Gammage on either the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website or the War Graves Photographic Project site and so I am unable to identify his last resting place - or a memorial in France or Belgium which carries his name. Soldiers Died in the Great War notes that he was born in Islington, living in Brentwood and enlisted at Guildford.

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

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

R/10582 Rfm Charles George Eaton, 8th Bn, King's Royal Rifle Corps

R/10582 Rifleman Charles George Eaton of the 8th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps was killed in action on the 6th October 1915. He was 37 years old and the son of Charles and Sarah Eaton of Ernest Villa, 20 Westcliff Park Drive, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex.

Charles's number indicates that he joined the KRRC around the 8th of February 1915. He possibly joined the 15th (Reserve) Battalion at Sheerness originally, later being posted to the 8th Battalion. His medal index card indicates that he arrived in France on 23rd August 1915.

Charles Eaton was born in Prittlewell, Essex and enlisted at Southend-on-Sea. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

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, 5 October 2009

43037 Sgt William Riordan DCM, Royal Field Artillery

43037 Sgt William Riordan DCM of the Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds on the 5th October 1916. He was either a regular soldier or a recalled reservist who was serving with the XXIVth Bde Royal Field Artillery and who had been in France since 11th September 1914. As such, he was entitled to the clasp for his 1914 Star.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission adds that William was 37 years old when he died and was serving with the 112th Battery. He was the son of Michael and Margaret O'Connor Riordan and the husband of Sarah Riordan of 27 Flora Street, Cathays, Cardiff.

William Riordan was born in Mitchelstown, County Cork and enlisted at Kilworth (Ireland). He is buried in Carnoy Military Cemetery on the Somme.

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, 4 October 2009

27523 Pte Albert Henry Brocklehurst, 9th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers

27523 Pte Albert Henry Brocklehurst of the 9th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action on 4th October 1917, one of 3111 British soldiers to die on this date. He was born in Chester and living in Pendleton, Lancashire when he enlisted.

Both Soldiers Died in The Great War and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission give his battalion as the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers. His medal index card though, notes the 15th Battalion and so it seems likely that he went overseas with the 15th and later transferred to the 9th. He originally arrived in France on the 23rd November 1915. His number, which looks to fall within a 'rogue' out-of-sequence batch, dates to around May 1915.

Albert Brocklehurst is buried in Cement House Cemetery at Langemarck; grave reference X.F.27. The War Graves Photographic Project has a photo of his last resting place.

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, 2 October 2009

S/18321 Pte John Frederick Nixon, Rifle Brigade


S/18321 Private John Frederick Nixon of the Rifle Brigade (but serving with the 8th London Regiment when he died), was killed in action on 3rd October 1918. He was the second eldest son of John and Elizabeth Nixon, and also my great uncle. His younger brother Walter Leonard Nixon was my grandfather.

Jack, as he was known to his friends and family, was born in Stratford (in what is now east London, but was then Essex), on 18th January 1891; one of five boys and seven girls born to John and Elizabeth. Photos of the family in the years leading up to the First World War suggest that they were a close-knit family; assembling together in various London back gardens, or larking about on Norfolk beaches during, presumably, their annual holidays. The First World War, as it did for so many families, put an end to that jollity.

Alf Nixon, youngest of the five brothers, and coincidentally also born on 18th January, but in 1897, was the first of the boys to wear khaki. He'd joined the Essex Territorials before the war, but a bicycle accident spared him from being sent overseas immediately. Brother Edgar, the oldest brother, joined the Royal Flying Corps, Walter joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, and Jack and Sid joined the Rifle Brigade.

Jack's service record survives as a burnt document in WO 363 and so we know that he attested on the 9th December 1915. Sid probably attested at the same time. He was mobilised in February 1916, but Jack wasn't called up until 2nd May 1916. Four days later he was posted to the 14th Battalion and he was with the 14th when he sailed for France on the 28th August 1916. He arrived at Havre the following day and went straight to the 47th Infantry Base Depot before being joining the 16th Rifle Brigade in the Field on the 7th September that year. The war diary for the 16th Rifle Brigade reads on this day, "Reinforcements of 419 Other Ranks received - all Derby recruits who had just arrived in this country from 14th Bn RB England."

My grandfather, as he would recall later, met Jack once - and that, by chance - at Poperinghe. My uncle, Peter Nixon, has surmised that this meeting possibly took place in the summer of 1917 but apart from this chance encounter, no evidence - anecdotal or otherwise - has come to light of any of the brothers meeting up overseas during the First World War.

Jack remained with the Rifle Brigade until the 15th August 1918 when he was posted to the 8th London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) and it was whilst he was with this battalion that he was killed in action. Jack has no known grave and his commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France.

Amongst his surviving papers is a small inventory which lists items returned to his mother. These were presumably found on his body and are recorded as follows:

12 Religious Cards
3 Photos
Religious Book
Letter 2 Cards
Rel Booklet
2 Divine Marks
2 Discs

The items were not dispatched until 28th February 1919 and I have wondered whether this gives some indication of a date when his body was found. The two discs are his identity discs, now amongst my most treasured possessions after they were sent to me by the daughter of one of Jack's sisters a few years ago. They'd been lying in a box of buttons for many years and both have had pink nail varnish applied to different areas of their surface; nail varnish applied, as I was told, to cover up the blood stains on them.

All of which seems to suggest that Jack probably wasn't blown to smithereens but was found on the battlefield afterwards, relieved of the possessions in his pockets - and possibly other possessions which didn't make it onto the inventory - and then presumably buried as a soldier known unto God. What should have happened was that one of his identity discs should have been removed and the other one left on the body so that it could be identified. Had that procedure been followed, Jack would have had an identifiable grave.

In any event, such detail, mused upon on a WW1 Remembrance blog 91 years to the day after he was killed, was probably of little concern to his family. His four brothers all survived the war but 1914-1918 effectively destroyed - as far as I can see - the close family unit that had existed up until then.

I have a lot of photos of the Nixon boys but until very recently, had not seen one of Jack in uniform. It was only with the death of another family member last year that a photograph of him in khaki emerged. I've posted this on my Rifle Brigade post on the Army Service Numbers blog.

The photograph on this page dates to around 1910 and shows four of the Nixon siblings in happier times. From the left, Jessie Nixon, Walter Nixon, Jack Nixon and Edgar Nixon.

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
Peter Nixon who has thoroughly researched Jack and his brothers during the First World War.

21197 Pte William Edward Maxey, 9th Bn, Sherwood Foresters

520 British soldiers died on this day - 2nd October - in 1916. William Edward Maxey of the 9th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters was one of these men. He died of wounds and is buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery in France.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that he was the 21 year old son of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Maxey of Selston, Nottinghamshire. Soldiers Died in The Great War gives the information that he died of wounds and also that he was born in Holbrook, Derbyshire, was living at Selston (presumably with his parents), and enlisted at Mansfield.

William initially served overseas in the Balkans. His medal index card states that he arrived there prior to 31st December 1915 and he therefore qualified for the 1914-15 Star as well as the British War and Victory medals. His army number - 21197 - suggests that he joined the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment in late December 1914 or early January 1915.

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, 1 October 2009

8082 Pte Alfred Gurden, 1st Bn, West Yorkshire Regiment

8082 Private Alfred Gurden of the 1st Bn, The Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), died of wounds on 1st October 1914.

Alfred was a regular soldier whose number suggests he joined the West Yorkshire Regiment in late 1905 or 1906. He was born in York and enlisted there. He arrived in France with his regiment on 8th September 1914.

Private Gurden is buried in Vailly British Cemetery; grave reference II.F.7. He is probably the same 12 year old who appears on the 1901 census living with his parents and five brothers in York. There is also a Walter Gurden who was killed in action on 10th July 1916 and this is possibly Alfred's older brother. He is commemorated on the Thiepval 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

Naval & Military Press