Monday, 30 November 2009

Major Bernard George Dawson Biggs, 5th Bn, Durham Light Infantry

Major Bernard George Dawson Biggs of the 5th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, died in England on the 1st December 1916. He was the husband of Anne Isabella Biggs of 1 Flora Avenue, Darlington, and he is buried in Darlington West Cemetery.

Bernard had served overseas, arriving in France with the 5th DLI on 18th April 1915. He possibly died of wounds in the UK, or of sickness. His service record probably survives in one of the series for WW1 officers but until I see these, the circumstances of his death will be a mystery to me.

George was probably about 48 years old when he died. He was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire and appears on the 1901 census at 2 Cleveland Terrace, Darlington as (what looks like) a 32 year old bookseller and printer. He was also probably quite well off as he is noted as an employer. His wife Anne, was 44 years old in 1901 and the only other person noted for their household is Annie Brown, a 24 year old domestic servant. Ten years earlier, still living in Darlington, George appears as a 22 year old bookseller's assistant.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1891 and 1901 Census)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in The Great War

SS/4480 Pte Thomas Russell Maddams, ASC

SS/4480 Private Thomas Russell Maddams of the 1st Labour Company, Army Service Corps, died on the 30th November 1914 in France. He had arrived there on 26th August 1914 and is buried at St Marie Cemetery, Le Havre.

Thomas was born at Thornton Heath in Surrey and enlisted at Croydon. There is scant military information about him - only his medal index card appears to survive - but both this source, and Soldiers Died in The Great War state that he died on 30th November (as opposed to being killed in action or dying of wounds). It seems likely therefore that he died as a result of either sickness or an accident.

Thomas's birth was registered in the June quarter of 1879 and he married Maud Violet George in the December quarter of 1908. The couple appear to have had at least one child - Francis L Maddams - whose birth would be registered in the first quarter of 1915

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, Free BMD)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Sunday, 29 November 2009

7535 Pte Horace Alexander Mansell, 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers

7535 Private Horace Alexander Mansell of A Squadron, the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers, died of wounds on the 29th November 1917. He was a Londoner, born in Islington, and was 25 years old when he died. Horace had been in France since the 17th May 1915 and his number indicates that he had probably been in khaki with the 5th Lancers since September 1914.

Horace was the son of Mrs Rose M Mansell of 18, Yonge Park, Finsbury Park in London. His birth was registered in the December quarter of 1892 and he appears on the 1901 census as an eight year old boy living at 15 Clayton Street, Islington with his parents, six sisters and two brothers. The family appears to have originally settled in Walworth and then moved further north to Islington, probably in the mid 1880s. Horace's father was a carpenter by trade and appears on the 1901 census as an engineer joiner fitter.

Horace's medal index card omits his middle name but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) records him as H A Mansell. He was one of 514 British servicemen to die on this date and he is buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery in Manancourt, France.

CWGC states that, "The cemetery was begun in 1917 and used until March 1918, mainly by the 21st and 48th Casualty Clearing Stations posted at Ytres."

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, 1901 census, Free BMD)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Saturday, 28 November 2009

126 Rfm Derrick Allan Kirkpatrick Pile, 5th London Regt

126 Rifleman Derrick Allan Kirkpatrick Pile of the 5th London Regiment was killed in action on the 28th November 1914. He had joined the 5th London Regiment just a few months earlier, enlisting at Bunhill Row in the City of London on the 10th August 1914. Papers from Derrick's service record survive - unusually - in the WO 364 pension series at the National Archives.

Derrick gave his age as 18 years, eleven months and three quarters. There is no "trade or calling" noted and his address is given as 56 Wickham Road, Brockley, south east London. He was also born in Brockley. Derrick was nearly five feet nine inches tall and had a good physical development.

After less than three months in khaki, Derrick sailed for France, arriving there on the 4th November 1914. He was killed less than a month later and is buried at Lancashire Cottage Cemetery in Belgium.

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

Sources:

Ancestry.co.uk (MIC, WO 364)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Friday, 27 November 2009

11869 Pte William Sass, 6th Bn, Loyal North Lancashire Regt

11869 Private William Sass of the 6th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regt, was killed in action on Gallipoli on the 27th November 1915. He was born in Kirkdale, Lancashire and enlisted in Liverpool towards the end of August 1914. His number indicates that he was an original member of the 6th Battalion, the first service battalion to be formed by the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

William arrived in the Balkans on the 15th June 1915 and therefore endured the privations of that desperate front for five months before he was killed; one of 14 Loyal North Lancs men to die on this date. He is buried in Green Hill Cemetery in Turkey.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Thursday, 26 November 2009

27947 Pte George Henry Tombs, 3rd Bn, Worcestershire Regt

452 British officers and other ranks died on the 26th November 1917. 27947 Private George Henry Tombs of the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment died of wounds on this day. He was the son of Walter and Harriett Tombs, of Bishampton, Worcestershire and the husband of Annie Tombs, of Inkberrow, Worcs.

George's number suggests that he joined the Worcestershire Regiment in January 1916. He is buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

3/7710 Pte Alfred Samuel Hordle, 1st Bn, Dorsetshire Regt

I was travelling yesterday and therefore had no opportunity to update this blog.

3/7710 Private Alfred Samuel Hordle of the 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, was killed in action on the 25th November 1914. His number indicates that he joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battlion of the Dorsetshire Regiment and this is confirmed by his partial service record which survives in the WO 363 series at the National Archives.

Alfred joined the 3rd Battalion on the 21st August 1914. He was 36 years old, was a serving member of the National Reserve and already had prior service with the 3rd Battalion. He was a married man and was living in Poole, Dorset. Alfred was five feet five inches tall, had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.

Alfred's wife is recorded as Ellen Isabella Hordle although by the time Alfred's British War and Victory medals were sent to her in 1921, she had re-married and her surname was Foot. This information is also included on Alfred's entry in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's register. Ellen had previously received his 1914 Star (in 1919 when she was still Ellen Hordle) and also, in April 1915, Princess Mary's gift to the troops. Read about the history of the Princess Mary tin here.

Alfred was posted to the 1st Battalion on the 23rd October 1914 sailed for France the same day. He was killed just over a month later. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

When Ellen Hordle lost her husband she also lost her income and Alfred's surviving papers bear testimony to the obvious hardships that she suffered. There is a note in his files dated June 1915 which states that she was in distressed circumstances, and a later appeal, undated and subsequently fire-damaged which gives a little more detail. It states that Ellen (aged 39) was receiving a pension of ten shillings a week, that she was crippled and also extremely deaf and therefore unable to earn a living for herself. The recommendation, signed by the recruiting officer at Poole, was that she should be receiving a pension of at least one pound per week and that her lameness was likely to get worse rather than better. There is no record on file as to whether Ellen Hordle's appeal was successful.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

18380 Pte Thomas Straughan, 11th Bn, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

18380 Private Thomas Straughan of the 11th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action on the 24th November 1916. He was the son of Mrs M H Straughan of 3, The Leazes, Throckley, Newburn in Northumberland.

Thomas was born in Tynedock, County Durham, and he enlisted at Newcastle. His number indicates that he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in December 1914 but he certainly didn't go overseas until 1916. He is buried in Pond Farm Cemetery, south west of 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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Monday, 23 November 2009

152633 Gnr Arthur James Arnold, Royal Garrison Artillery

152633 Gunner Arthur James Arnold of the 393rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, died of wounds in England on the 23rd November 1918, one of 91 men to die on this date. He was 21 years old, the son of Mrs Eliza Frances Topp of Barford St. Martin in Salisbury.

Arthur had been born in Parkstone, Dorset but enlisted at Devizes in Wiltshire. He is buried in the cemetery of the pretty St John The Baptist church at Burcombe in Wiltshire. Click here for views of the cemetery. The War Graves Photographic Project has a photograph of his grave.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War
The War Graves Photographic Project

Sunday, 22 November 2009

27136 Pte Granville Schofield, 11th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers

27136 Private Granville Schofield of the 11th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, died of wounds on the 22nd October 1916. He was 36 years old and the husband of Mary Ann Schofield of 45 Rutland Street, Werneth, Oldham.

Soldiers Died in The Great War records that Granville was born in Oldham and enlisted at Hollinwood in Lancashire. He is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), one of 4343 identified casualties. Bailleul was, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, home to the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations and it seems likely that Granville died of his wounds whilst at one of these clearing stations.

The war memorial at Hollinwood, lists 141 men who died during the First World War and Granville Schofield is probably one of those remembered on it. His army number indicates that he must have joined the Lancashire Fusiliers around May 1916 and therefore he probably hadn't been overseas very long before he was fatally wounded. His joining date indicates that he was either conscripted or had previously attested under the Derby Scheme and was then called up.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Saturday, 21 November 2009

23142 Pte Edwin Hayward, 4th Bn, Worcestershire Regt

23142 Private Edwin Hayward of the 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, died of wounds on the 21st November 1915.

He had arrived in the Balkans on the 29th October that year and died in a hospital in Malta, presumably after being wounded at, and evacuated from, Gallipoli. Edwin was born in Arlingham, Gloucestershire and was still living there when he enlisted. His army service number indicates that he joined the Worcesters in June 1915, and Soldiers Died in The Great War tells us that he enlisted at Gloucester.

Private Hayward is buried in Pieta Military Cemetery on Malta. This from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

"From the spring of 1915, the hospitals and convalescent depots established on the islands of Malta and Gozo dealt with over 135,000 sick and wounded, chiefly from the campaigns in Gallipoli and Salonika, although increased submarine activity in the Mediterranean meant that fewer hospital ships were sent to the island from May 1917. During the Second World War, Malta's position in the Mediterranean was of enormous Allied strategic importance. Heavily fortified, the island was never invaded, but was subjected to continual bombardment and blockade between Italy's entry into the war in June 1940 and the Axis defeat at El Alamein in November 1942. At the height of Axis attempts to break Malta's resistance in April 1942, the island and her people were awarded the George Cross by King George VI. Malta's defence relied upon a combined operation in which the contributions made by the three branches of the armed forces and Merchant Navy were equally crucial. Although heavily pressed in defence, offensive raids launched from the island by air and sea had a crippling effect on the Axis lines of communication with North Africa, and played a vital part in the eventual Allied success there. There are 1,303 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated at Pieta Military Cemetery, including 20 Indian servicemen who were cremated at Lazaretto Cemetery. Second World War burials number 166. The Commission also cares for 772 non-war graves in the cemetery and 15 war graves of other nationalities."

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Friday, 20 November 2009

9288 Pte William Arthur Gardiner, 2nd Bn, Leics Regt

9288 Private William Arthur Gardiner of the 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, died of wounds on the 20th November 1914. William was a Londoner who had been born in Walworth and was living in Peckham when he enlisted. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that he was 20 years old, the son of William A and Elizabeth Gardiner of 2 Downe's Place, Peckham, London. His army number tells me that he joined the Leicestershire Regiment around early August 1911.

Arthur arrived in France on the 12th October 1914. He is buried in Le Touret Military Cemetery.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Thursday, 19 November 2009

1601 Tpr George Neville Forde Hawkes, Royal Horse Guards

1601 Trooper George Neville Forde Hawkes of Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), was killed in action on the 19th November 1914. Judging by his army number, George probably joined The Blues in January or February 1914, and he was on French soil by 15th August that year. He is buried in Sanctuary Wood cemetery, five 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)
Army Ancestry
Army Service Numbers 1881-1918
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

9934 Pte George Snowling, 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regt

263 British soldiers lost their lives on the 18th November 1917 and 9934 Private George Snowling was one of these men. He was serving with the 1/4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was killed in action on this day.

Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he had previously served with the Royal Lancaster Regiment (number 1492) and his medal index card notes that he first arrived overseas in Africa on the 16th October 1914.

George Snowling has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial 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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

31354 John Smith, 7th Bn, South Staffordshire Regt

330 British Army officers and British Army other ranks died on this day - 17th November - in 1916.

31354 John Smith of the South Lancashire Regiment was killed in action whilst serving with the 7th Battalion. He had previously served with the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 25661) and was born in Wolverhampton, enlisting there (assuming the South Staffs Regt was the first regiment he joined) in March 1916.

John Smith has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial 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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Monday, 16 November 2009

94283 L/Cpl Arthur Cupis, Royal Engineers

94283 L/Cpl Arthur Cupis of the 175th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers was killed in action on the 16th November 1915.

Arthur was 46 years old when he died and may have had prior military service with the Royal Engineers. He arrived overseas in France on 27th April 1915. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tells us that he was the husband of Emily Cupis of 11 Manor Park Road, East Finchley, London, whilst Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in Holloway.

Arthur is commemorated on a special memorial situated in Maple Copse Cemetery near Ypres. The memorial commemorates 230 casualties whose graves were destroyed.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Sunday, 15 November 2009

200076 Pte William Higgins, 1/4th Bn, Somerset Light Infantry

738 British soldiers died on this day in 1916 and 200076 William Higgins of the 1/4th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was one of these men. He died in operations in Mesopotamia and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq.

On the day that he died - 15th November 1916 - it would appear that he was reported as missing. The six digit number that is associated with him was not actually issued until 1917 when the Territorial Force was re-numbered. Men who were, at that point in time, still officially listed as missing and not confirmed as killed, were allocated a six digit number in case they were subsequently found to have been taken prisoner. William though, according to his medal index card, had died of disease and his grave presumably subsequently lost.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he was 28 years old, the son of the late John and Elizabeth Higgins. He was born in Shepton Mallett. William Higgins's original four digit number - 1358 - indicates that he originally joined the 4th (Territorial Force Battalion) of the Somerset Light Infantry in late September or early October 1910.

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
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Saturday, 14 November 2009

L/7627 Pte Alfred Edmund Pilbeam, 2nd Bn, Royal Sussex Regt

As of today, 232 British military personnel have died in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001. On this one day - 14th November - during the First World War, the number of British army deaths was as follows:

1914 - 220 deaths
1915 - 133 deaths
1916 - 989 deaths
1917 - 281 deaths
1918 - 167 deaths

Staggering. Truly staggering. One day out of 365.

L/7627 Private Alfred Edmund Pilbeam of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment was mourned by his family when he was killed in action at Ypres on the 14th November 1914. His entry in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour notes that he was married, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission adds that he was 29 years old, the son of Alfred Edmund and Lydia Pilbeam, of 32 Newhaven Street, Brighton, and the husband of Christina Pilbeam of 8 Eastport Lane, Southover, Lewes. He had married Christina in 1907 and it would seem reasonable that the couple had children, although I don't know this for sure.

Alfred arrived overseas on the 7th October 1914. Judging by his army number he had joined the Royal Sussex Regiment around October 1903 and was therefore almost certainly a recalled reservist. The address on his medal index card gives 25 Franklin Street, Lewes Road, Brighton and was presumably where his widow was living when the clasp to his 1914 Star was dispatched in 1920.

Soldiers Died in The Great War states that Alfred was born in St Peter's, Sussex and enlisted in Brighton. His name does not appear on the Lewes War Memorial but may appear elsewhere.

Like so many WW1 soldiers, Alfred 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
De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour
Soldiers Died in The Great War

Friday, 13 November 2009

1840 Pte James Starkie, 1/6th Bn, Seaforth Highlanders

1840 Pte James Starkie of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action on the 13th November 1916. Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW) records that he died on this day in 1917. This cannot be correct however, because if this had been the case, he would have had a six digit number beginning 265***. As it is, his four digit number indicates that he joined the 6th Seaforths on about the 2nd September 1914. He possibly joined the 2/6th Battalion but if he didn't was certainly posted either to the 2/6th or to the 3/6th Battalion (or both) and did not go overseas until January 1916 at the earliest.

SDGW records that James was born in Glenlivet, Banffshire and enlisted at Elgin in Morayshire. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirms his date of death as 13th November 1916 and adds the additional information that he was the son of Mr W Starkie of Erroll, Llanbryde, Morayshire. He is buried in Mailly Wood Cemetery in Mailly-Maillet 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

Thursday, 12 November 2009

38652 Pte Robert Frederick Drennan, 7th Bn, Leicestershire Regt

I was gratified to receive two comments yesterday, both from relatives of men that I have commemorated on this blog. Those men are Private James Lavin (killed in action 11/11/1918) and Pte Selim Bernstein (died of wounds 08/09/1915). As a result of those comments I now know a little more about both men. Thank you Phil and Rebecca.

Today, I pay tribute to Robert Frederick Drennan who died on this day, the day after the Armistice had been declared, in 1918. Robert's partial service record survives at the National Archives and the following information is taken from this.

Robert Drennan attested for service at West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire on 11th December 1915 and he was called up on 2nd June 1917. He gave his age as 36 years and six months, his address as 60 Gordon Road, West Bridgford, and his trade as a tailor's cutter. He had married Dorothy Gertrude Seddon at Trinity Church, Chesterfield in June 1908 and the couple had two daughters: Dorothy Marjorie Drennan (born July 18th 1912) and Jean Mary Drennan (born September 8th 1914).

At some point during his service, his wife appears to have moved house as her address (as the next of kin) is given as 11 West Street, Chesterfield. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes the same street for her but gives the number 9.

Effects Form 118A records that any "articles of personal property" should be sent to Mr James Drennan of Beauchief near Sheffield, whilst medals were to be sent to Mr D G Drennan of 60 Gordon Road, West Bridgford. Robert's father was James and I presume that D G Drennan was a brother.

I am not clear on the exact sequence of Robert's army service but he had two numbers: 87531 and 38652 and it is the latter number (with the Leicestershire Regiment) that appears on his medals. At one stage he was with the 1/5th Leicestershire Regiment but he was serving with the 7th Battalion when he died. He arrived in France on 2nd October 1917 and was posted to the 7th Battalion five days later.

At the time of his death, Robert was Prisoner of War, No: 1152. He died in the Prisoner of War hospital at Gottingen in Germany at 7am on the 12th November 1918. His religion is recorded as Anglican but there is no cause of death noted. He is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery in Hessen, Germany.

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, 11 November 2009

52489 Pte James Lavin, 2/10th Bn, Royal Scots Regt

On this day, 91 years ago, the guns on the Western Front fell silent. But on this day, as on every day since the war had begun back in August 1914, British soldiers continued to die. Soldiers Died in The Great War records that 513 officers and men died on the 11th November 1918. Of these, just 20 were killed in action, the remainder dying of sickness or wounds.

52489 Pte James Lavin of the 2/10th Battalion, Royal Scots Regiment was one of the twenty men to be killed in action. He died not on the Western Front, but in Russia, and he is commemorated on the Archangel Memorial. His partial service record survives in the WO 363 series at the National Archives, and now on-line via Ancestry.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he was the son of Mr and Mrs Michael Lavin of 102 Beechgrove Terrace, New Stevenston Road, Carfin, Motherwell in Lanarkshire. CWGC also includes extensive information about the memorial and hostilities in Russia.

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, 10 November 2009

S/14482 Pte James Prentice Gow, 5th Bn, Cameron Highlanders

497 men died on the 10th November 1918, one day before the end of the war to end all wars. S/14482 Pte James Prentice Gow of the 5th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders was one of those 497 men. He died of wounds.

James was born in Glasgow, was living there when war was declared, and enlisted there. His number indicates that he enlisted in November 1914 and that he'd therefore survived unscathed for nearly four years by the time he was killed. Pages from James's service record survive at the National Archives in London and the following information is taken from these.

He enlisted at a Glasgow recruiting office on the 9th November 1914, giving his age as 22 years and 62 days and his occupation as clerk. His next of kin is recorded as his mother, Mrs Jemima Gow of 14 Parkhouse Lane, Duke Street, [Dennistoun] Glasgow.

James joined the Cameron Highlanders at Inverness on the same day and was posted to the 3rd Battalion the following day. He remained with the reserve battalion until the 22nd February 1915 when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion on arrival in France. He remained overseas until 10th December 1916 and then returned to England with cellulitis in his arm, remaining there until 7th May 1917. He returned to France for a second time on 8th May 1917 and joined the 7th Battalion in France the following day. Later that month he was posted to the 5th Battalion. He wasn't there long however, before he was returned to England again on 17th August that year. He returned to France for the third and final time on 21st June 1918.

James's service record states that he died of gunshot wounds to the groin and abdomen at the 11th General Hospital at Wimereux. He'd sustained the wounds on the 1st November and therefore must have been in a great deal of pain when he died. He is buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery 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, 9 November 2009

2512 Sgt Emil Agerskow, 1/4th Bn, East Yorkshire Regt

2512 Sergeant Emil Agerskow of the 1/4th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regt, was killed in action on the 9th November 1916. He had been in France since 17th April 1915 and in khaki with the 4th East Yorks since mid September 1914. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in South Newington, Yorkshire and enlisted at Hull. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he was 24 years old and the son of Emil and Lilian Agerskow of 153 Norwood, Beverley, Yorkshire. He is buried in Warlencourt British 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, 8 November 2009

G/2377 Pte Herbert Coast Bellamy, 6th Bn, Buffs (East Kent Regt)

G/2377 Private Herbert Coast Bellamy of the 6th Battalion, Buffs (East Kent Regiment), died of wounds on the 8th November 1915. His real name was Herbert Coast and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes this in its additional information section but neglects to state his regiment or battalion. Soldiers Died in The Great War records that he was born in Rochester, Kent and still living there when he enlisted. He joined up in London, his Buffs number dating to September 1914, and was in France by 1st June 1915.

Herbert Coast is buried in Vermelles British Cemetery. The chateau there was used as a dressing station during the Battle of Loos and its possible that Herbert was a casualty from this time. In the absence of a service record, it is difficult to say.

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, 7 November 2009

1232 Pte George Alfred Moreton, 2nd Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regt

1232 Private George Alfred Moreton of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment lost his life on this day, 95 years ago. He was killed in action on the 7th November 1914. His medal index card - held in the name of George A Morton - notes that he arrived overseas on 4th October 1914, and his army number indicates that he joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment around September 1908.

George Moreton has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. Soldiers Died in The Great War records that he was born in Birmingham and enlisted in Warwick.

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, 6 November 2009

295307 Pte Harold Andrew Savidge, 12th Bn, Somerset Light Infantry

Minehad born Harold Andrew Savidge of the 12th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was killed in action on the 6th November 1917 in the fighting around Beersheba. His army number was 295307 and he had previously served with the West Somerset Yeomanry. His yeomanry number was 1427 which suggests that he joined around February or March 1915.

Harold arrived overseas, in the Balkans, on the 23rd September 1915. He is buried in Beersheba War Cemetery. This from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

"By October 1917, General Allenby's force had been entrenched in front of a strong Turkish position along the Gaza-Beersheba road for some months, but they were now ready to launch an attack with Beersheba as its first objective. On 31 October, the attack was carried out by the XXth Corps (10th, 53rd, 60th and 74th Divisions) on the west, and the Desert Mounted Corps on the east. That evening the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade charged over the Turkish trenches into the town. The cemetery was made immediately on the fall of the town, remaining in use until July 1918, by which time 139 burials had been made It was greatly increased after the Armistice when burials were brought in from a number of scattered sites and small burial grounds. The cemetery now contains 1,241 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 67 of them unidentified."

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

Sources:


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

Thursday, 5 November 2009

433 CQMS William Abell Frettingham, 6th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers

433 Company Quartermaster Serjeant William Abell Frettingham of the 6th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers died in a German POW camp on the 5th November 1918. His medal index card indicates that he arrived overseas on or after 1st January 1916 but I am at total loss trying to work out, from his army number, when he joined up.

It's possible that he joined in late November or early December 1914, and his rank suggests that he may have had prior military experience. However, this is pure supposition on my part. Soldiers Died in The Great War gives his rank as Colour Sergeant and notes that he was born in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and enlisted at Lichfield.

William Frettingham is buried in Niederzwehren Cemetery at Kassel and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has this to say about it:

"The cemetery was begun by the Germans in 1915 for the burial of prisoners of war who died at the local camp. During the war almost 3,000 Allied soldiers and civilians, including French, Russian and Commonwealth, were buried there In 1922-23 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries. Niederzwehren was one of those chosen and in the following four years, more than 1,500 graves were brought into the cemetery from 190 burial grounds in Baden, Bavaria, Hanover, Hesse and Saxony. There are now 1,796 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the Commonwealth plot at Niederzwehren. This total includes special memorials to 13 casualties buried in other cemeteries in Germany whose graves could not be found. The following cemeteries are among those from which graves were brought to Niederzwehren: BAYREUTH TOWN CEMETERY, Bavaria. 24 burials of 1918. DARMSTADT FOREST CEMETERY, Hesse. In use from 1915. 102 burials. DIETKIRCHEN PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, Hesse-Nassau. 45 burials (28 of Irish regiments) of 1914-18. FREIBURG IN BREISGAU MAIN CEMETERY, Baden, 43 burials of 1918. GERMERSHEIM CEMETERY, Palatinate. 26 burials of 1915-1918. GIESSEN MILITARY CEMETERY, Hesse. 99 burials of 1914-1919. GOTTINGEN MILITARY CEMETERY, Hanover. 88 burials of 1914-1919. HAMELN PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, Hanover. 70 burials of 1915-1918. INGOLSTADT CEMETERY, Bavaria. 23 burials of 1917-1918. LANGENSALZA PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERIES No. 1 and No. 2, Prussian Saxony. 225 burials of 1915-1918. MAINZ MILITARY CEMETERY, Rhein-Hessen. 23 burials of 1915-1919. MANNHEIM MAIN CEMETERY, Baden. 21 burials of 1916-1918. MESCHEDE PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, Westphalia. 49 burials of 1917-1918. OHRDRUF PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, Thuringia. 107 burials of 1915-1918. PADERBORN CEMETERY, Westphalia. 29 soldiers burials of 1914-18. QUEDLINBURG CENTRAL CEMETERY, Prussian Saxony. 102 burials of 1914-1918. SENNELAGER PRISONERS OF WAR CEMETERY, Westphalia. 32 burials of 1914-1918."

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, 4 November 2009

Wilfred Owen 18 March 1893 - 4 November 1918


Also remembering today, WW1 poet Wilfred Owen, killed in action on the 4th November 1918.

The Sentry is one of my favourite poems by Owen and I reproduce it below. The photo of Owen is copyright of the English Faculty Library, University of Oxford / Wilfred Owen Literary Estate.

The Sentry

We'd found an old Boche dug-out, and he knew,
And gave us hell, for shell on frantic shell
Hammered on top, but never quite burst through.
Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime,
Kept slush waist-high and rising hour by hour,
And choked the steps too thick with clay to climb.
What murk of air remained stank old, and sour
With fumes of whizz-bangs, and the smell of men
Who'd lived there years, and left their curse in the den,
If not their corpses...

There we herded from the blast
Of whizz-bangs, but one found our door at last,
Buffeting eyes and breath, snuffing the candles,
And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came thumping
And sploshing in the flood, deluging muck -
The sentry's body; then his rifle, handles
Of old Boche bombs, and mud in ruck on ruck.
We dredged him up, for killed, until he whined
'O sir, my eyes - I'm blind, - I'm blind, I'm blind!'
Coaxing, I held a flame against his lids
And said if he could see the least blurred light
He was not blind; in time he'd get all right.
'I can't' he sobbed. Eyeballs, huge-bulged like squids',
Watch my dreams still; but I forgot him there
In posting Next for duty, and sending a scout
To beg a stretcher somewhere, and flound'ring about
To other posts under the shrieking air.

Those other wretches, how they bled and spewed,
And one who would have drowned himself for good, -
I try not to remember these things now.
Let dread hark back for one word only: how
Half-listening to that sentry's moans and jumps,
And the wild chattering of his broken teeth,
Renewed most horribly whenever crumps
Pummelled the roof and slogged the air beneath, -
Through the dense din, I say, we heard him shout
'I see your lights!' But ours had long died out.

Wilfred Owen is buried at Ors Communal cemetery in France.

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

2469 Pte Henry Exley, 1/8th Bn, West Yorks Regt

2469 Private Henry Exley of the 1/8th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own) died on the 4th November 1915. He was just 18 years old.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he was the son of A. J. Harvey Exley and Ada Exley of 69 Hyde Park Road Leeds and that he "enlisted soon after war was declared." My database of army service number suggests that he joined the West Yorks around the 20th September 1914 and that therefore he would have been no older than 17 at the time of joining. On the 1901 census he is recorded as a four year old boy living with his family at 3 Ashfield Grove, Hunslet in Leeds. The household in 1901 comprised Alex J H Exley (head, aged 30, a glass warehouseman by trade), his wife Ada (aged 27), their children: Henry (aged four), Hubert (aged two) and Alice (aged under one month) and Alex Exley's 65 year old father (a widower), George. A 55 year old visitor - Elizabeth Broydon - is also recorded.

Henry's medal index card records that he arrived in France on 26th April 1915. The stark word "Dead" is the only comment in the Remarks' section.

Henry was serving with A Company at the time of his death and he is buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery; one of 947 men buried there.

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

Sources:

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

G/8113 Pte William Brunning, 1st Bn, Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regt

G/8113 Private William Brunning of the 1st Battalion, Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment was killed in action on the 3rd November 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme.

William, who was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (and was living there and enlisted there), probably joined the Queen's in early 1916.

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, 2 November 2009

1596 Pte John Beirne, 2nd Bn, Irish Guards

1596 Private John Beirne of the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards died on the 2nd November 1914 in England. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) notes that he was the son of Patrick and Catherine Beirne, of Kilmore, Co. Roscommon and that he "served with Grenadier Guards in the South African War." He was 41 years old when he died.

Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in Kilmore, County Roscommon and enlisted in Dublin. His number with the Irish Guards dates to between January and April 1903. and so by the time Britain went to war with Germany in 1914, unless he'd extended his terms of service, John Beirne may well have been coming to the end of his period of service on the Reserve. Nevertheless, his medal index card reveals that by the 13th August 1914 he had disembarked in France.

John Beirne is buried in Great Warley (Christ Church) Cemetery in Essex. The CWGC states that "the cemetery was opened in 1860, and belongs to the Christ Church Great Warley Joint Burial Committee (representing three Parish Councils. There is also a cemetery in Woodman Road, opened in 1927.) It contains over 40 scattered War Graves; the graves of men of the Irish Guards recall the time spent by their Reserve Battalion at Warley Barracks. A War Cross is erected at the entrance."

Unusually, John's cause of death, tuberculosis of the lungs, is noted on his medal index card and so presumably he fell sick in France or Belgium, was returned to the 3rd Battalion in Essex and subsequently died.

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, 1 November 2009

57941 Pte John Rodgie, MGC

57941 Private John Rodgie of the Machine Gun Corps died of wounds on the 1st November 1917. He was born in Walton, Lancashire and enlisted at Liverpool, originally joining the King's (Liverpool) Regiment. He was given the number 42621 which suggest that he joined the King's in late June 1916. His MGC number dates to between June and September 1916.

John Rodgie is buried in Solferino Farm Cemetery in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has this to say about the cemetery:

"Solferino Farm was given its name by French troops who held this part of the line early in 1915. The cemetery, which is opposite the site of the farm, was begun by Commonwealth forces in October 1917 and was used by the units fighting in this sector until August 1918. The cemetery now contains 296 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and a small plot of three German war graves from this period. There are also five burials from the Second World War, dating from the Allied retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield."

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

Naval & Military Press