Coombes, Arthur. Died 30th Jun 1915


Private 1788 Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Died 30 June 1915 from wounds, buried Croop Hill Cemetery, New Bilton, Rugby

Gravestone of Arthur Coombes at Croop Hill Cemetery, Rugby

Gravestone of Arthur Coombes at Croop Hill Cemetery, Rugby

Arthur was born in Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire in 1883, son of Walter Coombes, a carpenter, and his wife Ann nee Barnes. His mother died when he was very young, and in 1891 his father married Fanny Maria Kilby as his second wife. Arthur aged 7 was living at home with them in 1891 in Shipton under Wychwood, his father’s occupation then is given as painter.

By 1901 Arthur now aged 18 had joined the Army, and was a private in the Rifle Brigade stationed at New Barracks, Alverstoke, Gosport, Hampshire. He presumably served his years and was discharged, as in 1911 he was a farm labourer at Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire, at Hill Farm run by John Beaty. Soon after this he moved to Rugby where he worked for British Thompson Houston (BTH) in the winding department. He married Lucy Warburton in Rugby in 1914, they had a son Arthur born early the following year who sadly died soon afterwards, so poor Lucy lost son and husband within a few months of each other.

As a previously serving soldier, Arthur would have been called up at the outbreak of war into a territorial unit. His records have not survived, but Soldiers Died in the Great War tells us that he was born in Shipton under Wychwood, and lived at New Bilton, Rugby. He enlisted in Rugby and served in the 1st Bt Royal Warwickshire Regiment. According to his medal card (in the name of Coombs) he was posted to France on 21 April 1915; he was wounded and presumably sent back to England as he died in Rugby from his wounds on 30 Jun 1915. He is buried in Grave G138 in Croop Hill Cemetery, New Bilton, and is also commemorated on the BTH Memorial which was moved from its position outside the former works when the site was redeveloped, and is now situated in Technology Drive.   He does not appear on the Shipton under Wychwood memorial, which confirms that he had severed his links with his birthplace many years before.

Arthur was awarded the Victory, British War and 1915 Star medals.

BTH Memorial

BTH Memorial



Astill, Herbert William. Died 29th Jun 1915


Herbert was born in Hillmorton, Rugby in 1894.   He was the son of Richard Astill (born 1842, Wolvey, Warwickshire) and Jane Benn (born 1852 Higham on the Hill, Leicestershire) Richard and Jane were married 27th Sept 1870 at St Peters Church, Higham on the Hill, Leicestershire.

In the 1911 census Herbert lived with his parents in School Street, Hillmorton, Rugby and worked locally as a general labourer.

Herbert enlisted in Rugby in 1915 into the 5th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Herbert was a private and his number was 10744.

He died of wounds on 29th June 1915 (not 23rd as listed by the CWGC) and was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France. Grave I.D. 63

Herbert was awarded the Victory Medal L/106B

Astill RA 17 Jul 15

An officer of the regiment sent a letter to Herbert’s parents which was published in the Rugby Advertiser on 17th July 1915:

“As a stretcher-bearer he was excelled by no one in the regiment, and he earned high praise from his senior officers, for in the action of the 22nd of June he went out under heavy rifle fire over a barricade before the German lines, not once, but many times, and brought in wounded men on his shoulders. It was two days after this, on June 24th, that he was hit in several places by a high explosive shell, which burst near him as he was running out to search for wounded men who had been hit by another shell that fell just before. He had a wound in the stomach, which finally proved fatal after eight days in the hospital. We were all very sorry to lose this brave lad, who had distinguished himself by his very plucky work under fire, and who, I believe, is to be recommended for the D.C.M. His name was sent in to headquarters for gallantry in action.”

Lines inscribed on his gravestone by his family read: NOT LOST, BUT GONE BEFORE

He is also remembered on the Hillmorton War Memorial.



26th Jun 1915. Warwickshire Yeomanry in Egypt



A member of the Warwickshire Yeomanry in Egypt writes :-“ Since I last wrote to you the Wayfarer party has arrived. They got into dock on May 15th, and came up to our camp the next day. They all look very well and fit and their adventures don’t appear to have injured their health in any way. They must have had an exiting time ! They say the sea was terribly rough at the time, and they also had it very rough on the journey here. The day after they arrived they were inspected by the Brigadier, who complimented them on the way they had behaved and the manner in which they had looked after the horses. I believe there were very few horses died indeed in spite of the fact that many of them were up to their bellies in water for 24 hours. We are still encamped in the same place, down by the sea, and much enjoy our bathes every morning. We need to bathe frequently here for it is nothing but dust everywhere, and it gets in one’s hair and works through one’s clothes. The flies also are a great nuisance, but as we cannot get rid of them we have to put up with them. We have had Australian horses given us now, as those that were on the Wayfarer are not coming out ; many of them are rather green and in poor condition at present, but I think when they have picked up a bit we shall be quite as well mounted as we were before. As we have only just got our saddles we haven’t had much chance to ride them yet, except bareback, which we have been doing every morning. The Public Gardens here are very beautiful, and of course more interesting to us because the majority of the flowers and trees are strange. In one of them a little stream runs through with hundreds of gold fish in. I saw rather an amusing incident in one of the gardens last Sunday night. About a dozen soldiers were sitting on a bank singing hymns (this, I may say, is not altogether a frequent sight), and they were singing very well such hymns as “ Onward, Christian Soldiers ” and “ Rock of Ages.” They had an admiring circle of natives of all ages and both sexes. Presently along one of the paths appeared about a dozen natives of the class which in England we describe as “ Nuts,” marching in half sections and each one playing a guitar or similar musical instrument. When they reached the “ choir ” party they halted and turning to the soldiers solemnly played the chorus of “ Tipperary ” through twice, then with many bows and good nights passed on. By the way, we have heard “ Tipperary ” played and sung more times since we left England than we should have done in twelve months at home. Once we had it played for our benefit by the band on a French battleship and we responded by singing, or trying to, their National Anthem.

Another Yeoman says :—Our daily programme is something like this : Reveille 5 a.m, roll call 5.15 a.m, feed horses, get a cup of tea, and saddle up for exercise by 6 a.m. We go out for exercise every morning, riding one horse and leading two others, returns from exercise at 8 a.m, water and feed, and have our breakfast ; nine o’clock, stables, clean horses and saddlery until 12.30 ; dinner, or rather lunch, for we have a very light meal in the middle of the day, either bread and cheese or bread and butter, with tea to drink. At 1.30 p.m we water the horses again, and afterwards got our saddlery ready for inspection at 3 p.m. From 4 p.m to 5 p.m we have evening stables ; dinner—boiled beef, potatoes, and boiled rice—at 5 p.m. As a general rule, after this we are free until bedtime, 8.45 p.m-except, of course, those who are on guard.


News was received in Rugby on Thursday that Trooper Geoffery Hardwick Dodson, youngest son of Armourer Staff-Sergt F H Dodson, of St Matthew’s Street, has been wounded in the Dardanelles. Trooper Dodson went out to Australia four years ago, and obtained an appointment in the Civil Service. When war broke out he joined the 10th Light Horse, and went with the Australian Contingent to the Dardanelles. Armourer Staff-Sergeant Dodson is now serving with the forces in France.


The death has taken place in the Military Hospital at Tidworth of Private A Jones, of the 6th Leicester Regiment. The deceased was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs George Jones, of Lorne Villas, Knox Road, Wellingborough, and he joined the Army soon after the outbreak of war, and made himself useful and indispensable as hairdresser and chiropodist to the battalion. He was 29 years of age. and leaves one child. Death followed an operation for appendicitis. He left Wellingborough for New Bilton about six years ago, where he had a business of his own. The remains were taken to Wellingborough for the funeral.

Rifleman L J Newton, of C Company, 7th (Service) Battalion K.R.R. has been killed in action. He was at the time of enlistment in the employ of Messrs Frost & Sons, Printers, Warwick Street, and in the June number of the journal entitled “With the Colours,” which is being published the firm in the interests of, and for the encouragement of their employees who have joined the Colours, we find the following reference :-“We record with deep regret the death of L J Newton, who was killed in action by shrapnel on June 17, 1915. Newton came to us as a compositor in February, 1914, and joined the King’s Royal Rifles in the first month of the war. He was a careful and accurate workman, a fine specimen of manhood, and held in high esteem by all. He joined the Army at a time when recruits could not be accommodated nor fed properly, yet he never grumbled, being ever-ready to bear patiently and sacrifice self to the exigencies of State. His O.C writes to his father : ” I am very sorry to have to tell you that your son, Rifleman Newton was killed suddenly to-day by shrapnel. He was at work unloading a wagon when a shrapnel burst and hit him straight through the heart ; he died immediately – absolutely no pain. I can assure you he is a great loss to my platoon, and he was one of those of whom I was most fond, being an excellent soldier and an all-round good fellow. I’m sure it will be a consolation to you later on – if not now—to know that he was killed in action doing his bit for King and Country.’ Redfearn, who was conversing with him not more than an hour before he was struck down, writes : ‘ We buried him here near the trenches, and put a small cross and a few flowers on his grave.’”


In the lists published on Wednesday the following were returned as wounded :—

TH BATT ROYAL WARWICKHIRE REGIMENT (T.FF).-Allsopp, 1942,. Pte H ; Arnold, 2412, Pte G ;Clowes, 1402, Lce-Corpl R ; Eaton, 1933, Pte L G ; Gallemore, 1456, Pte W ; Goodhall, 3414, Pte A W ; Gorrell, 1703, Pte W H ; Hazlewood, 3355, Pte W ; Rogers, 2252, Pte H.

Lance-Corpl Clowes has since been reported as having died of his wounds. He was an apprentice in the L. & N.-W. Erecting Shops at Rugby, and went out with the “ E ” Company of the 7th Warwickshire Territorials.


MR G GRANT has received a communication from his son Ernest that he has been wounded slightly in the forearm, so that of his three sons serving at the front one (Harry) is missing, and the other two, Ernest and Alfred, are both wounded.


A member of the Rugby Howitzer Battery writes :-“ A team was chosen from our Battery to play the 5th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment during their rest from the trenches. The Battery won by one goal to nil. It was a very hard game, and you can imagine how every man in the Battery team must have played, as we have only so few men to choose from as compared with a battalion. Spicer at back and Goode in goal played especially well, whilst Major Nickalls was also very safe. The evening was very warm, and rain had been falling pretty heavily in the morning, so that the conditions were not the best : but the game was played at a good pace all through, and was thoroughly enjoyed by the good crowd of supporters from both the Battery and the Battalion. The Germans were dropping their ‘ Little Willies,’ &c, at a respectable but visible distance, but this certainly did not disturb anyone. Gunner Ashir scored the only goal of the match half-way through the first half. Battery Team : Gunner Goode, goal ; Gunner Spicer and Major Nickalls, backs ; Gunner Fanriston, Corpl Watson, and Gunner Redmayne, half-backs ; Sadd, Yarwood, Sergt Sadd, Dosher, Gunner Taylor, Gunner Ashir, and Gunner Cumbirland, forwards.


Sergt G Fiddler, of the K.R.R, 36 Winfield Street, Rugby, writes home to his wife :—We are having a rest for a few days about three miles from the firing line. We came out of the trenches on Saturday. We had only been out about twenty minutes when the trenches were bombarded and blown to smithereens, so we had a bit of luck that time. Last Thursday we took four trenches and found a young German, about 16 years, chained to a machine gun, so that he should not run away, and to make him keep on firing. We took about 142 prisoners, and in the attack, when they tried to recover their lost trenches they had terrible losses. The place where we are is just on the left of a town. There is not a civilian to be seen—only soldiers. It is a mass of ruin. I went to have a look while we were in reserve. It was awful-everywhere you looked, ruin. I had a few strawberries and new potatoes out of one of the gardens, and I cooked them in the trenches.


Recruiting has again been somewhat slack at Rugby during the past week, although, perhaps, this is only to be expected when it is remembered that no less than 2,450 have been enlisted since the outbreak of the war at the Park Road Drill Hall. Those attested this week were:—E E Bromwich and C Rabin, A.S.C (H Transport): F E E Clarke, Leicestershire Regiment ; R W Lucas, 220th Rugby Fortress Company, R.E ; E Dunkley, Gloucester Bantams ; H C Cummins, Royal Berks Regiment ; G Lines, R.W.R : W H Barber, Border Regiment ; W Edwards and W Smith, Rifle Brigade.


Seven members of the Rugby Police Force have availed themselves of the opportunity to enlist, which has been presented by the authorities. P.C Morrey has already joined the colours, and P.C’s Rose, Richards, J G Fairbrother, and Cresswell go to-day (Saturday). P.C’s F Townsend and Chipman are also leaving shortly to join.


DEAR SIR,—I received the following postcard from Pte Branagan this morning, and I should like all those who have so kindly and generously sent me gifts for our prisoners in Germany to know that the parcels are being received safely and in good condition.—Yours very faithfully,



DEAR MRS BLAGDEN, – Heartiest thanks for your valuable parcel, received June 5th in splendid condition. As our correspondence is limited, I cannot promise to write in answer to every parcel you send, but, T can assure you that they will arrive safely, and J might mention that you cannot send anything letter for myself and fellow prisoners. Dear Mrs Blagden, I am sure it is very kind and thoughtful of you to send the parcels. Again offering very best thanks to the I friends in Rugby,—I remain, yours obediently,!



DEAR SIR,—May I crave further space in your columns to thank the friends at Rugby who have so kindly sent cricket balls to this hospital ?

Several have been received during the past few days, and it would gladden the donors’ hearts if they could see the enjoyment derived from their gifts.—Yours sincerely,

A J G HANDS (Pte), H.A C.

Cedar Lawn Hospital, North End Road, Hampstead, June 18th.


Rugby, being one of the important Midland centres for engineering, the local Labour Exchange in Castle Street was opened on Thursday evening for the purpose of enrolling the names of munition workers. The number of applications, however, was comparatively small, but this was not unexpected, as both the large engineering works in the town are already fully occupied with Government work. Many of the men from among the staff and officers have volunteered to fill in the week-ends in this work, and others with mechanical knowledge are also being employed. The Bureau is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 6 p.m to 9 p.m ; Saturdays, 4 p.m to 6 p.m ; and Sundays, 3 p.m to 6 p.m ; and any men qualified to take up work in connection with the manufacture of munitions should immediately enrol themselves at the Bureau ; but it should be noted that men already engaged on Government work cannot be enrolled. Posters calling attention to the Bureau can be obtained from the Labour Exchange.


In our last issue we referred to an intimation given by the Rev Dr David (headmaster) that members of Rugby School would be willing to assist farmers in the hay-fields and in other farm work, such as cleaning and thinning crops. We understand that a number of applications have been received through Messrs Tait. Sons, & Pallant, and Messrs Howkins & Sons, and that squads of five and upwards, each in charge of a N.C.O, are being sent out. The boys are chiefly members of the O.T.C. They are suitably dressed for the duties undertaken, and take with them on their bicycles hoes, spuds, and other necessary tools. They are helping not merely in the hay-fields, but in spudding thistles and cleaning farm crops generally. Reports to hand indicate that they are doing the work satisfactorily, and comply readily with the instruction given, so that the experiments promises to prove successful from all points of view.



19th Jun 1915. Soldiers at the Dardanelles


Quite number of the soldiers who spent a memorable and happy two months in Rugby at the beginning of the year, have again written to those with whom they were billeted, letters having arrived at many homes this week. The feeling of gratitude for the treatment extended to the troops, and a desire to return to the town when opportunity occurs, appear to be pretty general, whilst, unfortunately, in too many cases soldiers known to Rugby people are reported to have been either wounded or killed.

For instance. Drummer Joe Devenny, of the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was billeted with Mr and Mrs Burn, of 16 Corbett Street, writing from a hospital in Malta, states that he has been wounded in the left hand, but expects soon to be back in the firing-line. He is one of those who speaks of his intention to pay a return visit to Rugby if he comes safely through the war.

Ptes Brown and McAneny were billeted with Mrs Rushton, of 15 Corbett Street. Both are wounded, and have written giving some of their experiences on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Pte McAneny says he was lying down firing when a bullet just missed his head by about three inches. It tore a hole in the arm of his coat, and went clean through his boot and toes. “ But I can say one thing,” he adds, “ the Turk who hit me, and a good many of his chums, are all in their graves now.”

Referring to the fighting in the Dardanelles, Pte Brown says: “ We are driving the Turks back, and have captured a lot of them and their forts. . . . When we got there we advanced about three miles. The battle lasted from early morning till late at night. It was a hot bit of work. The Turks were just retiring from one trench to another, and had to be dug out with the bayonet. Our navy was making mincemeat of them from the sea. That night the Turks kept on attacking the trench. They came up like droves of sheep, only to be cut down by rifle fire. In the morning there were only heaps of dead in front.”

Corpl Giblin, 1st Royal Inniskilling, writing to Mr and Mrs Spencer, 35 Winfield Street, says :—“ We landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th of April, and we weren’t half an hour on shore before, we had a go. We were just digging a bit of a trench when they started to fire at us, so we hopped into the trenches and let them have it. They tried to overpower us with their numbers, but it was ‘no hat,’ they had to retire, and I don’t believe we lost a single man, although the fight lasted nearly all night. So that wasn’t a bad baptismal fire was it ? The next day we started again and beat them back. The navy are doing splendid work with their guns. The only thing we miss here are cigarettes, but, of course, we are not always without them, because every time we capture some Turks we are almost sure to get some tobacco or cigarettes. We get plenty of food, and that’s the main thing.”

Sergt W E Emmett, of the same Regiment, in a letter to Mr C Mitchell, of Thurlaston Orange, states that he is in the best of health, and had just returned to the base after twelve days hard fighting. He expected to be in the firing-line again soon afterwards. He adds : “ I hope you are still carrying on with the drill. Have you formed a Company at your place yet ? If you have, I hope they are getting on well.”

Mr J Lord, Castle Street, has heard from two men of the Border Regiment, who were billeted with him. Sergt F C Ansell, who had been wounded in his right-hand, and had to write with his left, states that he had been in hospital a month and underwent an operation. He was going on well and looking forward to the day when he could pay Rugby another visit. He adds : “ We had a terribly rough time at first, and I would sooner do anything than that landing again. It was a proper death-trap. Never mind, roll on till I come back to old Rugby. I could do with one of your good meals now.”—Pte H Harrup expresses the wish that they could be back in Rugby again for a time, as it is a bit too hot for us. “ Very sorry to tell you some of the boys have gone who used to stop with you, and I got wounded in the knee. Better than having my head blown off. Towers got killed the 1st day of going into action. I think this place is worse than France. It is very hot in the day, but cold at night.”


We learn from a North Country contemporary that Sergt H Corbridge, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who during the visit of the troops to Rugby was billeted with Mr M Watkiss, 14 Cromwell Road, has been congratulated by the General Officer commanding the 29th Division for gallantry in the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Sergt H Corbridge, who previous to the war was an inspector of the Liverpool Corporation Health Department, has written an interesting letter to his friends, in which he says:—

“ The 29th Division, have had a warm time of it at Gallipoli. At the landing the water literally bubbled with bullets and shrapnel as we rowed ashore. Dead and wounded troops were lying in the water and on the beach, and we had to wade through 5ft. of water after getting out of the boat, while underneath the water were barbed wire entanglements. For two days the medical men were kept busy attending to the wounded. The Turks tried to rush them, but on seeing the British fix bayonets they turned and fled, their retirement being followed by the guns from the Queen Elizabeth, Triumph, and Goliath. Next day the ground was found covered with scores of dead and wounded Turks. The circumstances under which I received the acknowledgement card were that I and Capt Taylor were out collecting and dressing wounded, using a disused barn as a place of shelter. Word was brought that Lieut Sherbrooke, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was lying badly wounded in a ravine about a quarter of a mile away. We went and found him, although the shrapnel and rifle fire was severe, and bandaged him up, and then I carried him to safety. I then went up the ravine to a private, who was shot through both legs. As a flank fire was coming down the ravine all the time I carried him into a crevice, applied bandages, and made him comfortable, and left him for a stretcher squad when there was a lull in the firing. At the time the shooting was very severe, and, looking back upon the exploit, I wonder how it was I was not hit several times, bullets pinging past me and burying themselves in the clay bank just about breast high. I thought no more of the affair until the following Friday, when a parade was ordered, and I was handed the card after a nice flattering speech by the General.” The card referred to contains the following inscription:—“ The General Officer commanding the 29th Division congratulates No. 455, Sergt H Corbridge, Royal Army Medical Corps, on the gallant action performed by him.”


Sergt Kater, of the K.O.S.B, writing to a friend in Rugby, gives a graphic description of the landing of that regiment. He says:—We landed at 5.30 a.m from small boats, and proceeded to climb a cliff 200 feet high. Having met no opposition at the point of disembarkation, we commenced to dig trenches, but were attacked by the enemy before we could get properly started, and the majority had to lie in the open with no shelter ; but we hung on—some 2,000 of us against a hostile force of 13,000. At night a German officer came close to our trench and said : “ Scotch, are you ? We’ll give you Scotch.” Our fellows just answered and said: “ Come on and try it then.” They did try it, but to no avail, because what we have we generally hold ; so we just rattled into them, and gave them such a hammering that they withdrew the following morning, leaving piles of dead in front of us.

We were landed at this particular part to draw the enemy from another part, so that a large force could land some miles further round. So having performed what was wanted we went back into the boats, had a night’s rest after fighting for 36 hours, and then landed where the remainder of the force had landed, and advanced under shrapnel fire right up to the firing line. Everything was quiet until Sunday, the 2nd, when we had another burst up, and the enemy retired again, leaving hundreds of dead behind them. Since then they have left the Scotch severely alone.

After four days in trenches we were relieved by the Terriers, and immediately the enemy attacked them, and gave them an awful time, but the lads held on till we came up, when the enemy chucked firing. The Terriers went back for a rest, and we held the trenches for eight more days, when we were again relieved—this time by the Ghurkas. The same thing happened again, and the enemy gave them a rough time, until they learned what sort of metal Ghurkas were made of. It would seem the Turks have had about enough of us, because we haven’t fired a shot since Sunday, the 2nd, while they have attacked other regiments daily. You will be sorry to hear that Graham was killed Monday morning (26th April), the day after we landed. He died like every soldier should—at his post. It is three weeks to-day (May 16th) since we started, and we have pinched over seven miles of the enemy’s country—so we are not doing so badly.


To the Editor of the Advertiser.

SIR,—It is with regret that we men of the Border Regiment in hospital read of the “ E ” Company and the Howitzer Battery men feeling so downhearted about such a term as “ Our Soldiers,” which the people of Rugby so courteously conferred upon us, and we trust you will allow us as we greatly wish to give those brave Rugbeians an explanation on behalf of the Border Regiment and others stationed in Rugby.

In the first place Sergt-Major Hopewell ought to remember that the very fact of our coming from India caused great interest in the citizens’ minds—something like a mystery—and everywhere one went for the first week or so you could hear only the one cry, especially from the children, “ Have you got any buttons or Indian coins to give us, mister ?”

Then, again, our bands, although not too good in our opinion, gave the people a great pleasure to sit in the Park on Sundays and listen to them. Then there was the coming and going of our battalion, at all times things natural to a line battalion, but which had not been seen before by the Rugbeians.

Well, we feel it our duty to say that as we were treated as the people’s friends we could not help doing our level best to repay the many kindnesses bestowed on us, and did our best to create a good impression amongst the civil population. In my case, I and my three comrades were treated as sons of the house, and we got to call the landlady “ Mother,” and she called us “ her boys.”

What we do want is to ask the brave Rugbeians fighting for us in France, not to judge the people like this, for we are sure that they could not possibly be forgotten by so kindly a people. The thing is impossible.

Trusting you will think this worth inserting as a poor kind of explanation.—I am, Yours deeply indebted, LESLIE CAMPBELL (acting drummer), for men of 1st Border Regiment, Western General Hospital, Manchester.

19th Jun 1915. A Local Artilleryman’s Exeriences


Corpl F Prestidge, of the R.F.A, has written a very interesting letter to his sister at Thurlaston, in which he says:—“ I have a bit of interesting news for you this time, as three days before I received your parcel we were shelled out of our billet in — Only one was hit, and that was the sergeant-major, who is in England now ; but the poor horses caught it severely. We had half of them inside a yard and half at the back of some houses in the open ground. Strange to say, those in the semi-covered position caught it hot, and those outside were practically unhurt. We all slept in a factory about 200 yards away, and at about five o’clock in the morning we were roused by hearing shells bursting close to, and as they seemed to get nearer, of course, we rushed out and made for the horses. I made for the yard where my horses were picketted, and what a sight I saw. A shell had burst just behind my horses, which were tied to a picketing rope round the wall. Some of the poor things had broken loose, and lay about the yard with legs broken and all sorts of wounds. I went off and got my sub-section together, and in a very short time we had all that could walk away at a safe distance, but of the 27 in my sub-section five were dead and twelve were wounded. It will show how curious is the bursting of a shell when I tell you that my gun team were all standing together, and both the leaders were killed, while the ‘ centres’ were only slightly wounded, and the wheelers were scarcely touched, although the shell burst directly behind the team I suppose if it had happened half-an-hour later I should not be writing this now, as we should all have been with the horses, getting ready for exercise.”


A bombardier in the Rugby Howitzer Battery sends home an account of a day’s work in action :—“ Two mines under the German trenches were successfully exploded ; rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire was opened on the German trenches, immediately the explosion took place. The mountain guns swept the ground behind the crater at a range of 150 to 300 yards. For some time after the explosion nothing could be observed owing to the heavy cloud of dust and smoke. When the atmosphere had cleared it was seen that the north-west corner of the parapet for quite 30 yards was completely demolished. The firing of the Howitzers was particularly effective. They obtained six direct hits on the enemy’s near parapets, and placed the remaining rounds into the trenches. Almost immediately after the explosion the enemy replied with rifle grenades from their trenches, and at 10.26 a.m their guns opened upon — Our Howitzers fired 10 rounds on the enemy’s communication trenches, five of which dropped in the trenches. The enemy retaliated by shelling with ‘Black Marias’ and ‘White Hopes.’ Working parties of the enemy appeared, and were constantly driven to shelter by our machine guns and artillery fire, but the mounds of earth thrown up by the explosion afforded them a good deal of cover, and rendered observation and effective machine gun fire somewhat difficult. During the afternoon our artillery fired intermittently at enemy’s working parties. A forward observing officer reported that one large working party was completely exterminated by a shell from the Howitzer Battery.”


THURSDAY.—Before T Hunter, Esq.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.—Jack McCarthy was charged with being absent without leave from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, stationed at Colchester.-Detective Mighall said he received information that defendant came to Rugby in uniform, but was afterwards seen about in civilian clothes. Witness spoke to him on the previous day, and he admitted being absent from his regiment without leave, so he was taken into custody.-Superindent Clarke said he had received a wire stating that an escort would arrive that day.- Defendant was remanded in custody to await the escort, was given permission by the Magistrate to resume his regimentals.

ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE.—Pte J Batchelor, of the 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (T.F.), residing at 7 Union Street, Rugby, was charged at Rugby Police Court, on Friday, before T Hunter, Esq, with being absent without leave from the depot, Rugby Drill Hall.-Detective Mighall gave evidence of arrest and after Supt Clarke had read a letter from the Officer commanding ordering his arrest, defendant, who belongs to the Company acting bridge-guard in the town, was remanded to await an escort.


Recruiting at Rugby has been rather slacker this week. The following have been attested:- E R Earle, A.S.C(M.T) ; E H Paget. W Abbott, F Morrey, E J Robinson, G A Carse, W Green, and J E Wright, Rugby Forties Co (R.E) ; R Parker, F S Hooker, R.W.R ; J Allen, Army Veterinary Corps ; J L Jeffrey, R.A.M.C ; S Toon, Dorset Regiment ; W C F Alsop, Signal Co Royal Engineers ; and A L Lloyd, Army Pay Corps.


The Rev H E Stevens, formerly a curate at the Parish Church, Rugby, and afterwards vicar of St Oswald’s, New Bilton, is serving as a chaplain in the Navy.

The Rev A R Whatmore, formerly of Rugby, who has been engaged in the theatrical profession for some time, has offered his services and been accepted in the work of making shells and ammunition. Mr Whatmore could not join the army through his inability to pass the doctor.

Mr P J James, who, when in Rugby a few years ago was a prominent member of the Rugby Cricket Club, and since going out to Adelaide played regularly for South Australia as a fast bowler, has recently arrived in England to enlist in the army. He joined the 9th Service Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment as a second lieutenant, and is quartered at Grimsby. Previous to that he did some training at Sevenoaks, Kent.

Last week Mrs C Hyde, of 2 Rokeby Street, Rugby, received news that her son, Second-Lieut H W Hyde, of the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment, attached to the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who, as we reported recently, has been missing since May 15th, was prisoner of war in Germany. Unfortunately, however, later information was to the effect that an error had been made, and that no definite news of Lieut Hyde was forthcoming, although a brother officer has written stating that he believes he was killed during the heavy fighting about May 15th.

No less than seventy-seven men from the parish of Bulkington are serving with the colours, and almost every family in the village is represented.


REPORTED MISSING.—Mr G Grant, Newbold, has received a notification from the War Office that his son, Harry, has been reported missing from the 9th of May, He belonged to the Rifle Brigade, and joined at the commencement of the war. Mr Grant has two other sons who joined at the same time, one of them being wounded some time ago, and is still in hospital.


Job Greenwood, son of the late Mr W Greenwood, schoolmaster of Newbold-on-Avon, who was acting as Pay Sergeant to D Company of the 2/7 R.W.R, stationed at Colchester, has received a commission in the 8th Service Battalion of the Northampton Regiment, He leaves for Pembroke on Monday, in order to take a course of instruction for officers. It will be remembered that Joe Greenwood played football both for Rugby and Newbold.


Corpl Potterton, of the 2nd battalion Rifle Brigade, whose home is at 32 Regent Street, Rugby, was promoted on June 2nd to the rank of Sergeant, whilst serving at the front. Sergt Potterton was formerly employed at the B.T.H Works, where he was prominently associated with the Athletic Club, and the news of his promotion will be received with pleasure by all who knew him.


Mrs G Colledge, of Brinklow, received a letter from her son, Pte Phil Colledge, of the Royal Welsh Fusilers, who has been twice wounded, and is now in hospital at Liverpool. Mrs Colledge has three sons serving. Pte Colledge writes:-“ Dear Mother,—You will see by this letter that the Germans have been touching me up a bit. I had twelve wounds, but none were very bad, only my legs ache so much. I had five in my legs and thighs, three in my arms, one in my chest, one in my face, and two little ones in my back.


Amongst the survivors of H.M.S Majestic was Mr W H Cranch, a gun layer, whose home is at 37 New Street, New Bilton. Mr Cranch, who is in the Royal Fleet Reserve, is at present on a short visit his wife and family, who are naturally overjoyed at his providential escape. Seen by a representative of the Rugby Advertiser on Thursday, Mr Cranch stated that his ship was struck on the port side by a torpedo at ten minutes to seven on the morning of May 27th. A loud explosion immediately occurred, and the rush of water caused the old battleship to heel over at an angle of 45 degrees, and within two minutes she was completely bottom upwards. The sea was dotted with hundreds of sailors swimming for their lives. Fortunately a number of French trawlers, which had been engaged in transport work, were close to the scene, and the large majority of the men were quickly taken on board these ; while others were rescued from wreckage or swam ashore to the Seddul Bahr Beach. Mr Cranch was fortunately picked up by a French tug, and taken on board a French destroyer, which subsequently proceeded to Lemnos. The rescue work was carried out very expeditiously, and the longest period anyone was in the water was about 20 minutes. The Majestic had been engaged in the task of forcing the Dardanelles from the commencement, and Mr Cranch stated that she was struck by shells—which did little damage—on numerous occasions. She was one of the ships that covered the splendid landing of the Colonial troops at Gaba Tepe, and at the time that she was torpedoed she was flying the Admiral’s flag, which had been transferred from the Triumph, sunk two days earlier.


It is gratifying to learn that this Company is now almost at full strength, 88 having been enrolled to date. Several tradesmen, four blacksmiths, four masons, and one wheelwright, are still required, however ; and it is advisable that anyone wishing to join the Company should do so at once, because the men now enrolled are making excellent progress, and any not joining now may run the risk of being left behind when the Company leaves Rugby.


The Chairman of the Belgian Refugee Committee reported, amongst other things, as follows:

Acting on the recommendation of the War Relief Committee, we, the Central Refugee Committee for Warwickshire, have appointed the following representatives in the Petty Sessional Divisions of the county and co-opted them members of our committee : Father Ryan for Alcester, Mr Sale for Atherstone, Lady Catherine Berkeley for Brailes, the Rev J A Watson for Burton Dassett, Colonel Monckton for Coleshill, Mr Bolding for Henley-in-Arden, Mr van den Arend for Rugby, Mr Lattey for Southam, and Mr Ashfield for Stratford. Miss Leigh, one of the original members of our committee, acts for us in Kenilworth. We also engaged the services of a Belgian interpreter, Mons Laurent. This gentleman met by appointment our local representative, and with them visited the refugees in their homes, taking down on printed forms their occupations and wages in this country and their former employment in Belgium, and bringing reports to us of any cases where either the refugees or those looking after them wished for our assistance or advice. Upwards of 50 towns and villages were visited in this way, representing 648 Belgians, and we have been able in many cases to advise and make suggestions for the benefit of the parties concerned. As a case in point, we discovered a man in South Warwickshire who had been without work for six months. We removed him and his wife to Warwick and he is now employed at the Emscote Mills. The Government Belgian Commission with a view to ascertaining the feasibility of starting large workshops in each county for securing suitable employment for the Belgians, requested us to fill up a tabulated form, showing the occupations of the Belgians in their own country and also stating whether they were employed here. The result showed that except in the case of moulders and fitters, of whom we have 33 (all working in Rugby) there were not sufficient numbers engaged in any one trade to warrant the setting up of workshops in this area.

The Commission then asked us to let them have particulars of all the unemployed men in our district; these we returned as 45, mainly consisting of professional men or those incapacitated from work. Of those employed besides the moulders and fitters there are 28 engaged on farm work, 15 in gardens, 16 in motor works, 13 it the Ordnance works, 7 as domestic servants, and the rest as clerks, teachers, carpenters, tailors, and tanners. We have just received a list of fresh arrivals from the police, numbering 87, mainly fitters and moulders who are working at Rugby.

The actual number of Belgians now under our supervision—not including the 87 new arrivals just mentioned, is 801. There are also 27 nuns and 24 independent Belgians.

As regards the local work done by our committee, we have 21 refugees of the artisan class at the Myton Hostel, the men being employed at the Emscote Mills, where they get good wages, one-third of which they pay towards their maintenance. We have had the same family at the Nelson House for five months ; the man has been apprenticed at a motor works, and we hope soon to get him a job.

A very generous gift of frozen meats and dry goods has been received from Australia through the Sidney Consignments Committee for distribution among our local refugees.

On the whole I am able to report that the condition of the refugees in the committee’s area is satisfactory, no cases of neglect have come under our notice, and they are much more contented than they were at first owing to suitable employment having been found for so many.

Hughes, John William George. Died 18th Jun 1915

John (Jack) William George HUGHES

Lance Corporal 2006 1st/7th Btn Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Killed in action 18 Jun 1915, buried Rifle House Cemetery, Ploegsteert

Hughes, J W G

John was born in 1891, his birth being recorded in Rugby RD in the September quarter.   His parents were John and Betsy Maria nee Wills who were married September Qr 1890 in St Albans RD.

His baptism has not been found in the Rugby area, but brother Harry was baptised at Bilton in 1893, sister Edith Matilda at St Andrew Rugby in 1895, and brother Charles also at Rugby St Andrew in 1905 (parish registers).

In the 1911 census the family was at 13 Paradise Street, Rugby, which runs alongside the Clifton Road Cemetery; the three boys were with their parents, but not daughter Edith. George and Betsy had been married 21 years, and had four children all living. George was a grocer’s vanman, born in Buckinghamshire, John was an engine cleaner.   All except George were born in Warwickshire, no place named. No railway service records have been found for John.

In the 1901 census, also at 13 Paradise Street, George was a coal merchant’s drayman born at Hardwick Bucks.   He had a boarder, another coal merchant’s drayman, who was probably working with George for a local coal merchant.   Betsy was born in Dunchcurch, the three children (Charles was not yet born) all in Rugby. Betsey Maria Wills was baptised at Dunchurch 27 Oct 1872, daughter of John, labourer, and Eliza (parish register).

John and Betsy were living in Weedon near Aylesbury in 1891, aged 24 & 21, George an agricultural labourer.

John was sent to France with his regiment on 22 March 1915, and was killed in action on 18 June 1915.   He is buried in Rifle House Cemetery at Ploegsteert, twelve miles south of Ypres, together with 8 other members of the regiment who were killed 18-25 June 1915.



Brooke, William Alfred Cotterill. Died 14th June 1915

Brooke, W A C (1890 – 1915),

William Alfred Cotterill Brooke was born on 19th October 1890 at Hillmorton Road, Rugby, the third and youngest son of William Parker Brooke (1850-1910), a master at Rugby School, and his wife, Mary Ruth Brooke (1848–1930), daughter of the Reverend Charles Cotterill of Stoke-on-Trent.

William was educated at Rugby School, where his father had become housemaster of School Field in Barby Road, and at Kings College, Cambridge where he took his degree in 1912. He appeared to have a promising career before him in politics as he was a singularly forceful and brilliant speaker and prior to the war had already made his mark while speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party. On leaving the University he took up a business appointment in London.

At the outbreak of WW1, William Brooke obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th (City of London) Battalion (“Post Office Rifles”) of the London Regiment.In March 1915 he went to France where he died on 14th June. He was buried in the Fosse 7 Military Cemetery (Quality Street), Mazingarbe a village in the Department of the Pas-de-Calais, 10 kilometres south-east of Bethune. His grave is maintained by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. In addition to being named on the Memorial Gates at Whitehall Road, he is also remembered by an inscription on his parents’ grave in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Memorial to Alfred Brooke in Clifton Road Cemetery

Memorial to Alfred Brooke in Clifton Road Cemetery *

He was the only surviving son of Mrs Brooke, his brother Rupert having died a few weeks earlier.

*It has been noticed that the memorial in Clifton Road Cemetery is incorrect. It should read P O Rifles not Artists Rifles. The original memorial beneath is correct.