In 1879 James Crofts Barnwell married Ann Elizabeth Elliott. Ann was a widow with a young son and she and James went on to have several other children. Their youngest child was George Thomas Barnwell, born in 1892 in Hillmorton, where James was a house painter. By 1901 the family had moved to 35 Claremont Road, Rugby and James was now a painter of railway signals. In 1911 George Thomas was aged 18 and living with his parents. He was working for B.T.H. as a switch board wire man.
He enlisted as a lance corporal in the South Staffordshire Regiment (1st 6th (T.F.) Battalion), The regiment was formed in August 1914 and on 5th March 1915 arrived in France. George Thomas Barnwell died on 15th July 1915 and was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
His death was reported in the Rugby Observer on 30th July 1915:
Tributes to a Rugby man’s pluck.
Mr. and Mrs J. C. Barnwell of 35, Claremont Road, Rugby, on Wednesday morning received official intimation of the of the death in action of their son, Lance Corporal George Barnwell of the 1st 6th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. As reported in last week’s issue of the “Observer” Mr and Mrs Barnwell had previously received the sad intelligence through a number of letters sent by comrades of the deceased but until Wednesday morning they clung to the hope that a mistake might have been made.
The late Lance Corporal was prominently identified with the Rugby Baptist Church and at a memorial service on Sunday, the Pastor (the Rev. J. H. Lees) made touching reference to his Christian character and to the loss the church had sustained in his death. The deceased, who was 21 years of age, was engaged to Miss Elsie Flowers, of Dunchurch.
Acting adjutant Langley, writing to Mr. Barnwell says “I very much regret to tell you that your son died of his wounds in hospital at 9.30 p.m. on July 15th. My colonel instructs me to convey to you his extreme sympathy at your loss. It may seem to you in a regiment of about 1,900 men, it is not possible for the Commanding Officer to know and recollect every man by name. But that is not exactly the true view. Through his Officers he gets to know the men, and I can say with truth that the death of your son is a personal loss to him. He was engaged in a gallant enterprise, he died bravely, and it is upon such men that my Colonel relies for the strength of his regiment, as does England for her security. My Colonel’s sympathy for yourself is as generous as his gratitude for your son’s good service and brave sacrifice.
The Company Commander has written “The injury, consisting of bullet wounds to the head, was sustained whilst he was carrying out his duties in the firing line and, although the wound was a very severe one, we hoped that there would have been a chance of recovery. Corporal Barnwell will be much missed by his comrades and by the Officers of “A” company, for he was always cheerful and energetic in his duties, and I should like to extend the sympathy of all of us to you in your bereavement.”
George Thomas Barnwell is also remembered on the Rugby Baptist Church plaque and on the family grave in Clifton Road Cemetery.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM