Cope, Percy Leslie. Died 21st Jun 1917

Percy Leslie COPE, was born in Molesey, Surrey in 1894. He was baptised on 2 December 1894 at St. Mary’s church, East Molesey, Surrey.   His father, John Cope, was an ‘Iron Moulder’ who had been born in Basingstoke, as had Percy’s mother, Harriet Elizabeth, née Fisher, Cope, and Percy’s two oldest brothers.

The family later moved to East Molesey where Percy and his two other brothers were born. However, by 1901, when his youngest brother was two years old, the family had moved to New Bilton, Rugby, living at 14 Victoria Avenue. John Cope and his eldest son were both working as foundry ‘moulders’.

By 1911, the family were at 8 Victoria Avenue, New Bilton, Rugby. The eldest son was no longer at home, but Percy was now a ‘trimmer’ and his father and his two other elder brothers were ‘moulders’, and all four were employed in an iron foundry.

Percy enlisted in Rugby, as a Gunner, No.125, later renumbered as No.840038, in ‘D’ Battery of the 63rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (RFA). His exact enlistment date is unknown, but it was probably in 1914, as he went to France on 31 March 1915, thus becoming entitled to the 1915 Star.

In general the Territorial Force (TF) artillery units were under command of the TF Divisions. The 63rd Brigade was formed as part of the First New Army, K1. It originally comprised Nos. 199, 200 and 201 Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column and was under the command of the 12th (Eastern) Division. There were various reorganisations[1] which typically affected D Battery.

One reorganisation was on 25 May 1916, when D Battery left to join 65 Brigade which was also under command of 12th (Eastern) Division, and was replaced by B (Howitzer) Battery from 65 Brigade RFA.   It was then renamed as the new D (Howitzer) Battery.

It may have been that this provided the opportunity for Percy to take leave as in Q2, 1916 he must have been in Rugby, when his marriage to Violet Beatrice Edmans was registered. She had been born in about 1896 in Hackney, London. Percy’s military records note that their son, Leslie F Cope, was born on 24 September 1916. This would suggest that he was also in Rugby in about December 1915.   With no surviving Service Records it is not possible to establish if and why this was the case, two leaves in a short period seem unlikely, but perhaps he had been wounded.

There were further reorganisations on 30 August 1916 and 7 January 1917, although the Brigade remained with 12th (Eastern) Division throughout the war. In 1917, the Division took part in the offensive at Arras, and moved to the front in that sector on 14 January. It did not leave other than for periods of rest until towards the end of 1917. Thus Percy would have spent his final months in the Arras area. When the Division was relieved on 16 May and moved to the area of Le Cauroy, it had suffered a total of 141 officers and 3380 other ranks casualties since 25 April 1917. Between 17 May and 19 October 1917, the Division held positions east of Monchy le Preux, mounting several raids and small scale attacks and beating off some made against them, notably in the area of Hook Trench – Pick Avenue – Tites Copse.[2]

Whilst his Medal Card noted that Percy was ‘K in A’ – ‘Killed in Action’ – on 21 June 1917, he may have died of wounds. His place of death is recorded[3] as ‘37th Field Ambulance’, which suggests that he may have been wounded at an earlier date and have been evacuated to the nearby 37th Field Ambulance.

The 37th Field Ambulance was attached to the 12th (Eastern) Division from February 1917, and was based approximately 8 miles from Arras.

The Battalion diary does not record men killed, merely their main duties and targets, and 21 June 1917 does not include any unusual activity. However, a few days before at 12.30pm on 17 June 1917 there was a ‘Very heavy hostile barrage on our trenches’.[4] He may have been wounded in that incident – although analysis of the fatalities from the Brigade in June, when their Field Ambulance was using the Bunyans Cemetery at Tilloy-les Mofflaines suggests that there were casualties from various batteries of the 63rd Brigade buried there on 14 June, 18 June [3No], and Percy on 21 June 1917.

He was buried in Grave Reference: E. 3. in Bunyans Cemetery, Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines. This is a very small cemetery in the Pas de Calais area with only 54 identified casualties. It is 4 kilometres south-east of Arras on the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-les-Mofflaines was captured on 9 April 1917 by the 3rd Division, which was followed up by the 37th. Bunyans Cemetery (the origin of the name is not known) was begun by infantry units (Row A) after the advance in April 1917 and Rows B to E were made between April and 4 July 1917 by the 62nd and 63rd Brigades, Royal Field Artillery.

A death announcement appeared in the Rugby Advertiser.[5]

COPE. – In loving memory of Gunner Percy Leslie Cope, who was killed in action in France on June 21st, 1917, aged, 22. Not dead but sleepeth.
Somewhere there is a nameless grave,
Where sleeps our loved one among the brave;
One of the rank and file – he heard the call,
And for the land he loved he gave his all.
– From his Wife and Son, 82 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby.

Percy was awarded the Victory and British medals and also received the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also on the New Bilton War Memorial which is by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road, Rugby.

Percy’s widow, Violet, was later recorded by the CWGC as living at 82 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby. The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects recorded that she was paid various sums outstanding: £10-14-5d on 28 January 1918 and £21-8-8d on 18 April 1918.   After Violet remarried with Henry Belcher, in Rugby – this marriage being registered in Q2 1919 – it was thus as Violet Belcher that she was paid Percy’s War Gratuity of £13-12-0d on 19 December 1919.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

This article on Percy Leslie COPE was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2017.

 

[1]       The Long Long Trail, http://www.1914-1918.net/rfa_units_63.html.

[2]       Information from: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/12th-eastern-division/.

[3]       The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects

[4]       War Diary, The National Archives, Ref: WO 95/1838, 63 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 1915 Jan. – 1919 Apr.

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 28 July 1917.

Sands, Henry. Died 17th Jun 1917

Henry Sands was born in Atherstone in late 1882. His parents were Joseph Sands and Jane (nee Alcott) who had married at Atherstone parish church on 19th January 1881. Henry was the second of three sons. The family lived in Long Street, Atherstone where Joseph was a joiner.

On 28 March 1910, Henry Sands married Jennie May Knight at Welford. He was aged 28 and a groom/gardener. Jennie was a domestic servant. By the 1911 census they were living at 8 Orton’s Court in Rugby, together with their 10 month old son William Charles. Henry was a van driver/porter at a furniture store. Three more children were born: Edith in 1913, Lucy in 1915 and (posthumously) Winifred in 1917.

It is not known when Henry enlisted, but probably towards the end of 1916, judging by the birth of his last child in the third quarter of 1917. He joined the 1st/4th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment as a private (no 203316).

The Battalion took part in the Second Battle of Gaza, 17-19 April 1917, when the 1/4th and 1/5th battalions between them suffered 75% casualties, about 1,100 men.

Private Henry Sands died in Egypt on 17th June 1917, of diphtheria. He was buried at the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, situated at Kantara East on the eastern side of the Suez Canal, 160 kilometres north-east of Cairo and 50 kilometres south of Port Said.

In the early part of the First World War, Kantara was an important point in the defence of Suez against Turkish attacks and marked the starting point of the new railway east towards Sinai and Palestine, begun in January 1916. Kantara developed into a major base and hospital centre and the cemetery was begun in February 1916 for burials from the various hospitals, continuing in use until late 1920.

Wording on his gravestone added by his wife was:
FATHER IN THY GRACIOUS
KEEPING
LEAVE WE NOW OUR LOVED ONE
SLEEPING

There was an announcement published in the Rugby Advertiser, 22 June, 1918

SANDS – In ever-loving memory of my dear husband, Pte H. SANDS (HARRY), who died on June 17th, 1917, at El-Arish, Egypt.
” One year has passed since that sad day,
When our dear one was called away;
Bravely he went to duty’s call,
And gave his life for one and all.”
– From his loving wife and children

His wife, Jennie May died in 1958 in Coventry RD aged 68.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

16th Jun 1917. Doctors and the War – Appeal to the Public

Doctors and The War.

APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC.

THE ARMY needs all the Doctors of military age who can be spared and this district has answered the appeal to best of its ability.

This means that the Doctors who are left must work much harder than usual, and they can only give the medical service that is really necessary if the Public help them.

YOU can help in following ways :-

If your Doctor has regular consulting hours never send for him to come to your house if the patient can go to the Doctor. This saves much time in visiting.

Never go to the Doctor’s house except during his proper surgery hours, except in great urgency.

Always send your messages for visits before he leaves home in the morning, except in urgent and sudden cases of illness.

Never send through the night except in urgent or sudden cases.

SPECIAL REQUEST.

Be loyal to your own Doctor if he is on Service. Tell any Doctor you may go to while he is away that your own Doctor is away on Service. You will then be attended FOR HIM, and when he comes back both you and the Doctor who has been acting for him will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your duty by him while he was doing his duty by the Country.

Issued by the Central Medical War Committee, 429, Strand, London.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Rifleman Leonard Thompson, Rifle Brigade, whose parents live at 12 Union Street, has been reported missing since May 4th. He was 20 years of age, and was an old St Matthew’s boy. He joined the army two years ago.

Mr and Mrs Boyes, of Railway Terrace, Rugby, have received information that nothing further has been heard of their son, Pte F H Boyes, Royal Berkshire Regt, who was reported missing on July 1st, 1916, and it must be presumed he has been killed. Pte Boyes was a drummer in the 1st Rugby Boys’ Brigade before enlisting in March, 1915, when only 16 years of age. He was in France before attaining his 17th birthday. Another son, Pte F E Boyes, Oxon & Bucks L.I., has been twice wounded ; whilst a third son, Pte W J Boyes, 7th Warwicks, has also served.

The Misses Kathleen and Erica Cooke, daughters of Mr C J B Cooke, of Crewe, and formerly of Rugby, are doing war work in Paris—driving ambulances for the Red Cross.

The following have been reported wounded :- Pte Spooner (O & B), Rugby ; Pte F Burton (R.G.A), Dunchurch ; and Pte F Knight (Oxford & Bucks), Dunchurch, second time.

Mr Bernard Ellis, chairman of the well-known firm of Joseph Ellis & Sons, Ltd, has now received information which leaves little doubt that his second son, who as reported missing on May 20th, was killed in an encounter with German aeroplanes over the German lines He was not yet 19. Mr Bernard Ellis’s eldest son is recovering from very serious wounds received at the front during an attack last April.

BOMBARDIER BOSWORTH AGAIN HONOURED.

Bombardier F Bosworth, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, has been awarded the Medialle Militaire for the same action that gained for him the bar to his Military Medal.

A NEW BILTON MAN ESCAPES from GERMANY

On Saturday morning Mr & Mrs W J Wiltshire, of 18 Victoria Avenue, New Bilton, received the welcome intelligence that their son, Pte W J Wiltshire, of the 1st Wilts Regiment, who was captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Marne, had escaped from Germany, and this was followed up by a telegram on Sunday to the effect that Pte Wiltshire had arrived in England, and was quite well. During the greater part of his imprisonment Pte Wiltshire, who was an old soldier and was called up as a reservist at the beginning the War, was interned in Hanover.

LONG ITCHINGTON.

PRIVATE THOMAS SPRAGGETT, Royal Warwicks, returned from the front for a short furlough. He has been in France since 22nd October, 1915, and has seen much fighting. On Saturday last he was married at Leamington to Miss F M Smith, of Emscote. The happy couple are spending their short honeymoon among their friends. Pte Spraggett is the son of Mr and Mrs Thos Spraggett of this village.

RUGBY PRISONERS OF WAR FUND.
FLAG DAY RESULT.

The total sum raised as a result of the special effort for local prisoners of war on Saturday, June 2nd, was £752 9s 3d, and a number of donations have been promised, but have not yet been received. This sum does not include the proceeds of the prize competition which has been organised on behalf of the fund by the Rugby Trades and Labour Council, and which is expected to produce a very handsome addition. The donations amounted to £512 5s 2d, and the sale of flags to £138 9s 2d in Rugby and £101 11s 11d the country.

SALVATION ARMY WAR FLAG DAY.—A Tommy has said : “ You cannot get away from the Salvation Army in France,” and such was the case last Saturday in Rugby, when helpers of the Salvation Army were very energetic in collecting for the war work of that denomination, which includes refreshment and recreation huts, hostels, and naval and military homes[?], motor ambulance, food parcels and clothing for prisoners of war, etc. Nearly 10,000 flags were sold, and the proceeds amounted to £51. The work was organised by Commandant J Walker. During the afternoon the Senior and Junior Bands paraded the town and collected £8. Those who collected were : Mr and Mrs Burton, Messrs Robert Neale, Arthur Reade, and =Robbins ; Misses Phyllis Dodd, Edith Giddens, Kate Mays, Ada Wild, Rosina Allen, Doris Fiddler, Mary Linley, Elsie Clifton, Esther Keen, F and M Robotham, and L Kirtland. Mrs Handford and family collected in Lutterworth, and Mrs Paget in Bourton.

A BEER FAMINE exists in many parts of Warwickshire, especially the country districts. Some houses have been temporarily closed because of the uncertainty of obtaining supplies, and it a common thing to see in the window of a public-house “ No draught beer on sale.”

THE WEATHER & THE CROPS.

The present spell of dry weather has given ample opportunity for the destruction of the heavy crop of weeds, both on the farm and in the gardens. Quite a number of women have been employed in terminating the unusual growth of thistles, &c, among the corn. A few copious showers would now be very acceptable. The rain is especially needful for the planting in the garden and as a refresher for early peas. The growth of the potatoes exhibits, as a rule, great irregularity, but in a few cases may be seen of exceptional promise. Wheat has decidedly improved lately and oats and barley look well. Beans too, will probably turn out better than was at one time expected. There is a good-show of grass, and hay-making will, doubtless, soon be in full swing.

RUGBY MEAT TRADE.

The London Central Meat Company asked for a renewal of exemption for their local manager, George Robinson, 40, married, B1, 142 Murray Road. Lieut Wratislaw explained that in view of the Tribunal’s contention that there should be no preferential treatment in the foreign meat trade the representatives of the three foreign meat companies held a conference with the Advisory Committee, and one of the firms offered to send a man to this shop, which could be managed by a female, to cut up the meat, but this offer was refused by the company. The firm’s representative explained that prior to the War there were 13 foreign meat shops in the town, but now there were only four, and three of these were selling English meat. The Central Meat Company was the only shop selling solely foreign meat. At the meeting with the Advisory Committee they pointed out that the scheme suggested was unworkable because all the meal arrived at the same time, and when the man was required by the Central Meat Company he would be busy at his own shop. The firm who made the offer had since agreed that the scheme could not be worked.—In reply to the Chairman, Lieut Wratislaw said he did not think any English butchers in the town had had to close down. The Chairman expressed the opinion that some re-adjustment was necessary in the meat trade. The present plan was absolutely restricting competition and in view of the facts elucidated, the Tribunal did not think it was the public interest that the man should taken into the Army. Three months’ conditional exemption.

AIR RAID ON LONDON.

A raid made by 15 aeroplanes on London on Wednesday resulted in 104 persons being killed and upwards of 400 injured. Ten children were killed and 50 injured in a school in the East-end, upon which a bomb fell. As far as is known only one enemy aeroplane brought down.

DEATHS.

CANHAM.—On May 28th, while on duty as a signaller, after only one week in France, ARCHIBALD, the second son of Mrs. Canham, Hillmorton, and dearly-beloved husband of Laura Canham, late of 19 Benn Street, Rugby, aged 36 years.

HIPWELL.-Died from wounds June 7th, “somewhere in France,” Gunner EDWARD WALLACE HIPWELL, second son of George Hipwell, Clifton-on-Dunsmore (late of Brinklow Station), aged 25 years.

IN MEMORIAM.

HANCOX.-In affectionate remembrance of our dear and only son and brother, CHARLES HANCOX, who died of wounds at Stationary Hospital, St. Omar, France, June 20th, 1915.
“ Somewhere in France ” there is a nameless grave,
Where sleeps our loved one among the brave,
One of the rank and file-he heard the call,
And for the land he loved he gave his all.
—From his sorrowing Mother, Father, and Sisters.

Wood, Arthur William. Died 10th Jun 1917

Arthur was the son of Joseph Wood and Annie Hill who were married in Rugby in 1889. Joseph came from Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire, and Annie from Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Joseph was an engine driver and had been in Rugby since at least 1869, at Union Street in 1871 and 1881 and 31 Charlotte Street in 1891.

Arthur was born at 31 Charlotte Street in 1896 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 19 March.   Annie was Joseph’s second wife; his first wife Jemima Shaw born Braunston Northants, whom he married at Rugby in 1869, died aged 42 in 1887 in Rugby. They had a number of children. In 1901 Joseph was still living in Charlotte Street with his second wife and their three young children Adelina, Dora and Arthur as well as son Ernest from his first marriage. By 1911 Joseph had moved to 153 Grosvenor Road, Annie had died (in 1903), Dora was no longer at home, and there was another child Marjorie born in 1901 as well as Ernest, now a labourer aged 23.

Arthur enlisted in 1915 as Private 11083 in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was sent to France in May of that year. He was transferred to the 33rd Company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) as Private 19891, and was killed in action in France in 1917. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

He was awarded the Victory and British War medals and the 1915 Star. His effects, £20 plus a war gratuity of £13 were sent to his sole legatee his half brother George Wood, an engine fitter, who took out letters of Administration in Birmingham in October 1917.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

9th Jun 1917. Local War Notes

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Second-Lieut L G Colbeck, R.F.A, the Medborough[?], Cambridge University, and Middlesex cricketer, has been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of his battery. Second-Lieut Colbeck was a master at Rugby School for several years, and his mother still resides in Rugby.

Mrs Cleaver, Drill Hall Cottage, Rugby, has received a letter from a friend of Sergt-Major T Cleaver, giving details of how her husband met his death. Three Officers and the Sergeant-Major were talking together while they were waiting to be relieved. A shell burst near them, the three officers being killed, and Sergt-Major Cleaver severely wounded in the back and legs. He succumbed to his injuries the following day.

The “ Leamington Courier ” is given to understand that the Military Authority propose to transfer the Leamington recruiting staff to Rugby. The ostensible reason is a desire to economise, but is very doubtful (our contemporary remarks) whether that object will be achieved, for many questions arise in regard to recruiting which necessitate consultation with the Recruiting Officer himself, and a railway journey to Rugby is not now the simple matter that it used to be. It is much to be hoped that the Military Authorities will see the wisdom of altering the decision in the matter.

Mrs Welch, 35 Union Street, Rugby, has received information from the War Office that her husband, Lance-Corpl Ernest Welch, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on April 29th. A later message reports him as missing since April 28th, so naturally his friends are anxious as to his fate.

Mrs Ogburn, 40 Chapel Street, has now received official information that her husband, Pte H Ogburn, was killed on July 30, 1916, when reported missing.

MAJOR HARMAN, D.S.O.

The recent list of recipients of the D.S.O contained the name of Major H A A F Harman, South Staffs Regiment, who is well known to many of our readers as a member of the Murray School teaching staff. At the outbreak of the War Major Harman held the position head of the head of the Training Institution at Acera Gold Coast, and he served under General Smuts in his African campaign, and was wounded.

PTE A J PERRY.

Pte A J Perry, of the Royal Marines, who was killed in action about three weeks ago, was for some time employed in the Stationmaster’s office at Rugby L & N-W Railway Station. He was only 20 years of age, and joined the Army a week before Christmas. His home is at Kilsby.

SECOND-LIEUT N R DE POMEROY.

Definite news has now been received that Second-Lieut Norman R De Pomeroy, of the Royal Flying Corps, who has been missing since October 20, 1916, was killed in action on that date. Prior to the War Second-Lieut De Pomeroy was a member of the B.T.H Test Department.

A marriage is arranged between Capt Charles Moore, Irish Guards, son of the late Mr Arthur Moore, of Mooresfort, co. Tipperary, and Lady Dorothie Feilding, second daughter of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. Lady Dorothie returned on Thursday for a short time to the Munro Ambulance Corps in Belgium, where she has been since September, 1914, and the wedding will take place very quietly at an early date at Newnham Paddox.

DEATHS.

INWOOD.—On Whit-Sunday, May 27th, 1917, from wounds received in action, CORPL STANLEY, the only dearly-beloved child of Mrs. Inwood, Lodge Road, Rugby, aged 20.
“ Lost awhile, our treasured love,
Gained for ever safe above.”

PERRY.—Died of wounds in France on May 22nd, Pte, ALFRED J. PERRY, dearly beloved son of Mrs. A Perry, of Kilsby, aged 20 years-“ Greater love hath no man than this.”

Wallace, Herbert. Died 8th Jun 1917

Herbert Wallace’s was born in Blakesley, Northamptonshire in late 1891 and baptised there on 27 December 1891.

Earlier in 1891, the family in Blakesley comprised: his father, William, a ‘Stud Groom’; mother Elizabeth; older siblings: Joseph aged 8; sister, Ethel aged 7; and brothers John, Walter and Edward, aged 5, 3, and 1.

By 1901 the family had moved to 83 Sholebrook, Wittlebury Park, near Towcester. Herbert’s father was still a stud groom. Herbert was now aged 9 and there were more children and six siblings at home, Edward, Flora, Frank, Fred, Rose and Nelly. Then in 1903, his father died, the death being registered in Towcester.   Herbert’s widowed mother remained with the younger children at 52 Whittlebury, Towcester.   At some later date his widowed mother moved to Rugby, probably to join her children.

In 1911, Herbert was 19 and a grocer’s assistant, lodging with the Hussey family at 2 Devon Cottage, Watford Road, Radlett, Hertfordshire.

He may well have moved to the Rugby area before the war to join his two brothers who were already working in Rugby in 1911, as he enlisted in nearby Coventry into the Machine Gun Corps [MGC] as Gunner, No.38424.   The MGC had been formed in October 1915.

It is not known when Herbert joined up, but he probably didn’t go to France until 1916, as he didn’t receive the 1914-1915 Star, and he would have to be trained.

He later transferred to the ‘Heavy Section’ as Private/Gunner, No.206183. The Heavy Section was formed in March 1916, becoming the ‘Heavy Branch’ in November 1916. Men of this branch crewed the first tanks in action at Flers, during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916.[1]

He was still in the ‘Heavy Branch’ in June 1917, as it was not until July 1917, that the ‘Heavy Branch’ separated from the MGC to become the Tank Corps, later to be called the Royal Tank Regiment. The later ‘Soldiers that died in the Great War’ record states ‘Royal Tank Corps’ and his Medal Card stated ‘Tank Corps’.

The Tank Corps was formed from the Heavy Branch MGC on 27 July 1917 and the Battalions adopted numbering rather than letter designations (although tank names followed the same lettering: for example, 7th Battalion tanks were all named with a letter G, like Grouse, Grumble, etc.) Each Tank Battalion had a complement of 32 officers and 374 men. Originally formed as Companies of the Heavy Section MGC, designated A, B, C and D, each Company consisted of 4 Sections of 3 tanks of each type (male and female Mk.1s). Companies also had another machine in reserve. In November 1916 the Companies were expanded to Battalions, carrying the same letter designations. A Battalion consisted of 3 Companies. Three mobile workshops provided the engineering back-up to service the tanks. An expansion programme was ordered by GHQ, to build a force of 14 additional Battalions.

As Herbert was in “A” Battalion, this would have become the 1st Battalion – possibly after his death.

… some [tanks] played a part at the Battle of Arras in April and May 1917. … The next step saw an upgrade in the production of the Mark IV. It carried more armour and had an external fuel tank. Mechanically, it was similar to the Mark II. These tanks weighed 28 tons. The Mark IV first saw service at The Battle of Messines in June 1917.[2]

The Battle of Messines took place from 7 to 14 June 1917, just south of Ypres. Seventy-two of the new Mark IV tanks had arrived in May and were hidden south-west of Ypres, and took part in various parts of the battle.

Sadly, the tanks deployment in the Third Battle of Ypres (July-November 1917) proved to be another slog through deep mud. The area became a tank graveyard as machine after machine ditched in deep trenches and shell holes, sank, stuck and was shelled. Morale in the Tank Corps was low and confidence of the rest of the army destroyed.[3]

Herbert was recorded by the CWGC as a ‘Gunner, “A” Bn Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch)’, but there seem to be two possible dates of death. The grave registration form gave his earlier MGC number and 7 June 1917 as his date of death, rather than his later Heavy Branch number and the later 8 June 1917 date of death given in the later CWGC record and on his headstone.   Herbert was Killed in Action on either 7 or 8 June 1917, it is assumed during one of the number of separate actions tank actions in the Battle of Messines.

His body was recovered and he was buried in Grave Reference: III. C. I5. in the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension. The New Military Cemetery was begun in February 1915 and was used until May 1917 by fighting units and field ambulances, with a few further burials taking place in March and April 1918. The Extension was used from May 1917 to January 1918. The cemetery is a few miles south-west of Ypres, and a similar distance north-west of Messines.

At the date that the CWGC listed the memorial details, Herbert was described as ‘Son of Elizabeth Wallace, of 21, St. John St., Rugby and the late William Wallace’. At some date before 1911, Edward’s brothers, John, b.c.1886; and Frank, b.c.1896, had moved to Rugby to work as a ‘grocer’s assistant, and a ‘gas engineer apprentice’ respectively, and in 1911 were in lodgings at 74 Railway Terrace. It seems likely that their widowed mother, later also moved to Rugby to join them, and submitted Herbert’s name to be remembered on the Memorial Gate. Whether Herbert ever lived in Rugby is uncertain, but he joined up in nearby Coventry, and so he probably visited or even lived for a while, with his brothers, and later his mother. As he is also on the St. Philip’s memorial, perhaps he joined the family in Rugby for a time.

His mother was his sole legatee, and received £5-9-11d on 1 October 1917 and £3-10-0d on 16 October 1919.

Herbert Wallace was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

As well as being remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate, Herbert is commemorated at St. Philip’s Church, Wood Street, Rugby.

Herbert’s brother, Edward, also died in WWI, on 15 July 1916, whilst serving with the 1st Welsh Fusiliers during the Battle of the Somme.   He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and his biography is here.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Herbert Wallace was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

 

[1]       In July 1917, the Heavy Branch separated from the MGC to become the Tank Corps, later the Royal Tank Regiment.

[2]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/tank-corps-in-the-first-world-war/

[3]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines_(1917); from: Edmonds, J. E., 1991, [1948], Military Operations France and Belgium, 1917: 7 June – 10 November: Messines and Third Ypres (Passchendaele). History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, p.33, London, HMSO, ISBN: 0-89839-166-0.

Shirley, Archibald Vincent. Died 8th Jun 1917

Archibald Vincent (Archie to his family) was born at Penarth on 17 May 1887. His father was Walter Rayner Shirley, a solicitor, his mother Eliza Agnes Walker Hood. He was their eldest child, he had sisters Phyllis and Beryl, and brother Rayner.

In 1891 the family, with his sister Phyllis, were lodging in Great Malvern. By 1901 Archie aged 13 was a pupil at Stancliffe Hall Preparatory School in Darley, Derbyshire, after which he attended Rugby School. He read for his degree at Exeter College Oxford, and enlisted in the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, a Territorial unit, at the outbreak of war, first as a despatch rider, then serving in the ranks. He gained his commission in spring 1915, served in Gallipoli, then was sent to Egypt until October 1916 when he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a Second Lieutenant.

picture from de Ruvignys Roll of Honour

His biography in de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour gives this information together with a photograph, and adds he died at Roulers in Flanders, and that “he was killed in aerial battle where he encountered an overwhelming number of enemy machines, and, colliding with one, came crashing to the ground.”

As well as his name appearing on the Rugby Memorial Gates, he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, in Rugby School Memorial Chapel, and on the War Memorial of Llandough and Leckwith, near Cardiff where his father was living.

Llandough & Leckwith Institue War Memorial (with thanks to John Stansfield)

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM