Tuesday, 30 September 2014

7273 Pte George Overhand, 1st Bn, Coldstream Guards

On the 30th September 1914, one hundred years ago today, 7273 Private George Overhand of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was killed in action.

George was a Yorkshireman, born at St Vincent's, Sheffield and certainly working there as a general labourer in a steel warehouse at the time the 1911 census was taken. He had enlisted with the Coldtsream Guards in May or June 1907 but as his terms of attestation would have been three years with the colours and nine years on the reserve, his period of colour service would have ended by the time the census was taken. In 1911 he was boarding at 7 Darnbourne Square and was a single man aged 23.

His medal index card (above, courtesy of Ancestry) indicates that he arrived in France on the 13th August 1914. No service record appears to survive in WO 363 although the Guards archive presumably has some service information. George has no known grave and is commemorated on the La-Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial in France.

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

Friday, 26 September 2014

S/1148 Cpl Percy Hulse, 12th Rifle Brigade

On this, the 99th anniversary of the second day of fighting at Loos on 26th September 1915, S/1148 Corporal Percy Hulse of the Rifle Brigade died of wounds. He was one of 2,471 British Army casualties on this day. At the time of his death he was just nineteen years old, the son of Joseph and Sophia Hulse of 19, Princess St., Crewe.

Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in Sydney, Cheshire and enlisted at Crewe, his place of residence. His medal index card (above, courtesy of Ancestry) notes that he arrived overseas in France on the 21st July 1915. Chris Baker's Long, Long Trail website notes that the 11th Rifle Brigade arrived in France on the 21st July 1915 whilst the 12th arrived on the 22nd. Perhaps, in that case, Percy originally went overseas with the 11th and was subsequently posted to the 12th. Either way, he was certainly an original member of one of those battalions. His number dates to September 1914.

Percy is buried in Merville Communal Cemetery in France.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

S/6429 Pte Leslie Buchan, 9th Gordon Highlanders

S/6429 Private Leslie Buchan of the 9th Battalion Gordon Highlanders was killed in action at the Battle of Loos on the 25th September 1915, ninety-nine years ago today. Over the years I have remembered a number of men killed at Loos and it is right to remember them. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that 9661 men died on this day in 1915 and the vast majority of these casualties were at Loos.

Leslie was born at Longside, Aberdeenshire and he enlisted at Aberdeen  on 7th October 1914 aged 27 years and 180 days. He was just over six feet tall, had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and black hair. He was given the number S/6429 and posted to the 9th Battalion on the 15th October. His medal index card (above, courtesy Ancestry) notes that he arrived in France on the 9th July 1915. The 9th Battalion arrived at Boulogne this month and so it would appear that Leslie was an original member of the battalion and landed with the battalion when it left England.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website, Leslie was one of 727 Gordon Highlanders who died on the 25th September 1915. Like many, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

His surviving service papers note that he had married Maggie Jane Andrews at Aberdeen on 13th October 1914 and that a son, Leslie, was born on 8th May 1915. That he at least saw his son before he was posted overseas must have been some small comfort to his widow in later years. Two addresses are given for his wife: 54 Erskine Street, Aberdeen (crossed out) and 34 Stafford Street, Aberdeen. His father was originally recorded as his next of kin and he was James Buchan of Woodside of Auchlee, Longside, Peterhead.

By 1919 when Maggie Buchan submitted Army Form W.5080 which listed a dead soldier's immediate family, she was living at 8 St John's Wood Road, London N8. No children are recorded which presumes that Leslie's infant son must have died. His father and mother (Margaret Buchan), three brothers and a sister are also recorded on this sad document.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
Leslie's service record survives as a burnt document in WO 363. His signature, taken from his attestation paper is from the original image which is Crown Copyright, The National Archives.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

All Saints Church, Springfield, Chelmsford

I popped into All Saints Church, Springfield today and only had my Blackberry with me which is why the photos on this post are not the best quality. The memorial above commemorates the dead of Springfield.

The two Ridley brothers have a separate plaque at the back of the church in what now appears to be a general dumping ground for nursery group toys; fairly common in churches these days. The Ridleys were a well-known brewing family

Lieutenant Paynter's plaque (below) is high up and difficult to capture.

A highly decorated airman (below) and still only 19 when he was accidentally killed.

Captain Cecil Frederick King MC, DFC, Croix de Guerre was a First World War flying ace who shot down 22 enemy planes, 19 of these confirmed. There is a detailed biography of him (and photo) on The Aerodrome. There is a lot more information on all of these men on the excellent Chelmsford War Memorial website.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rfm Jack Nixon remembered at The Tower of London


14th August 2014. The moment Jack Nixon's name was read out at The Tower of London. Click on the link to see that particular day's recording or visit the Roll of Honour archive.

S/18321 Rifleman John Frederick Nixon was my paternal grandfather's older brother. He was killed in action on 3rd October 1918 and, having no known grave, is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

P/1491 Alfred George Mellish and P/1609 Alfred Walker, 16th Middlesex Regiment

Alfred Mellish and Alfred Walker, both pals in the 16th (Public Schools') Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, were killed on 1st July 1916. I've just added an entry for another of their pals - Horace Ham - on my WW1 veterans' blog and it seemed an appropriate time and place to remember the two Alfreds here.

P/1491 Alfred George Mellish
Horace Ham remembered him as the elder of two brothers and a quick check of the medal index cards reveals that his brother was PS/1492 Frederick C Mellish. The 1911 census return (above)shows Alfred (16) and Frederick (13) living with their parents and five siblings at Homeland, Talbot Road, Wembley. Fortunately, Alfred's service record survives in WO 363 and the following information is taken from this.

Alfred enlisted in London on the 27th January 1915 giving his home address as Harrowdene Road, Wembley, his occupation as clerk and his age as 20. He was five feet, nine and a quarter inches tall.
Alfred arrived in France on the 17th November 1915 and was reported missing on 1st July 1916, presumed dead. His death was accepted for official purposes on 30th March 1917. At some point, his remains must have been discovered and identified because he lies in a named grave shared with another man: 16243 Private John Percival Turner of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers who was also killed in action on that terrible day. Alfred's grave reference is A.70; John Turner's A 69.
P/1609 Alfred Walker
Alfred Walker has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was also a Wembley man who enlisted at Camden Town. No next of kin details were submitted to the CWGC but fortunately he too has a surviving service record which enables me to give a little more information about him.
Alfred enlisted on the 22nd February 1916 giving his home address as Rosedale, Eagle Road, Wembley. He was 19 years old, five feet ten inches tall and working as a shop assistant. Like Alfred Mellish, Alfred Walker was initially posted as missing. presumed dead. His death was also accepted for official purposes on 30th March 1917. His next of kin is given as E J Walker of 43 Eagle Road and this is expanded on the helpful but poignant Army Form W.5080. Alfred was the son of Edward John Walker and Annie Walker and the brother of Alice Walker (born c1895), Sidney Walker (born c1897), Albert Edward Walker (born c1900) and May Walker (born c1902).
I am please to remember both men on this blog. May they rest in eternal peace.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Preston Remembers 1914-1918

I was in Preston yesterday and, having an hour to kill, popped into the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. I'd already stood in front of the war memorial and had asked at the information centre whether the names of Preston's fallen were recorded anywhere. They are, one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-six of them, on several brass panels as you walk up the stairs in the Harris Museum.

Preston Remembers is heavily involved in the town's commemorations of the First World War and I picked up two leaflets which I am reproducing here. The Harris Museum is also staging a small exhibition around the Memorial and Roll of Honour; an exhibition which is destined to expand in due course.

Of particular interest to me were the Roll of Honour cards which give information about the fallen and were to be completed by family members. I suspect that there is a lot of information contained on thee cards which is unique and the great news is that the Harris Museum is digitising these and should have them online by early 2015. You can see an example of one of these cards in the centre panel of the second image on this blog.

The war memorial and the roll of honour were paid for by voluntary subscriptions and the names of each collector and all the 14,344 subscribers are recorded in the Memorial Book which is in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. I am not sure whether there are also plans to publish these names online; I hope so.

Preston men who died are also to be found on other memorials in the town.

In the meantime, here are some useful related links:

Preston Remembers
Harris Museum & Art Gallery
Lancashire Infantry Museum
Lancashire Libraries and Archives

War Memorials online
Lives of The First World War

Naval & Military Press