Swingler, William James. Died 30th Apr 1917

William James SWINGLER, was born in Welford, Northants on 5 November 1885, the son of James Samuel Swingler of Welford, Rugby, where he was born in about early 1852

In 1881, James Samuel seems to be either a ‘widower’ or ‘single’ (the record is confused!), when he was enumerated as an ‘innkeeper and carrier’, with his widowed sister as his housekeeper. In 1891, he was enumerated more specifically at the Crown Inn, High Street, Welford as a ‘publican and farmer’ with his ‘wife’, Sarah, who was born in about 1849 in Rothersthorpe, Northants, and their six year old son, William James Swingler.

There is no ‘obvious’ record of James Samuel Swingler’s marriage with Sarah, before 1891, nor is there any record of her death between 1881 and 1900, however James Samuel later [?re]-married on 12 June 1900, with his ‘second’ wife, Mary Ellen née Simons, who was born in Denbigh, North Wales.

In 1901 the family were still in Welford living at West End and James Samuel was now a ‘farmer’, with William as a ‘farmer’s son’. By 1911 William was 25 and recorded as a ‘farmer’s son labourer’, and there were three younger half-siblings.

William was attested at Welford on 19 November 1915 when he was 31, 5ft 8in tall, and now working as a postman. He had been medically examined on 17 November 1915 when he was aged ‘31 years and 14 days’. He seems to have been re-measured as 5ft 9¼ inches tall! He weighed 128lbs.   ‘Slight defects’ included ‘subject to dental treatment’ and ‘slight eczema feet’.

He then ‘enlisted’ in Northampton – when he was 32 – and was ‘mobilised’ on 18 March 1916, and posted on 19 March as Private, No.6653 in the 8th Battalion of the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment. Many of the detailed dates for his life and military career are found in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and particularly in his Service Record which survives.[1]

Assuming the 8th Battalion was the 1/8th Battalion, then from March 1916 to March 1917, the 1/8th Battalion was in 70th Brigade in the 8th Division in France, and then on 9 February 1916 it was transferred to 167th Brigade in 56th (London) Division.   If it were the 2/8th Battalion, its record was the same as 1/7th Battalion which was combined with the 1/8th by February 1916.[2]

William presumably had leave, and married Charlotte Maria Howe in Rugby on 11 November 1916 and their home was at 101 Grosvenor Road, Rugby. She then replaced his father as his next of kin.

William had his TAB[3] vaccinations on 23 March and 11 April 1916, and in ?January 1917 received ‘part upper and part lower dentures’ fitted at Tunbridge Wells.

He remained on Home Service until 7 March 1917 when he was posted to the British Expeditionary Force in France, embarking at Folkestone and disembarking at Boulogne on 8 March 1917.   He was transferred to the 16th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment on 26 March 1917, as No.205192.

The 16th (Service) Battalion (Public Schools) had been formed in London on 1 September 1914 by Lt-Col. J.J.Mackay. It moved to Kempton Park racecourse, going on in December to Warlingham. In July 1915 it moved to Clipstone Camp and came under command of 100th Brigade in 33rd Division and moved in August to Perham Down. On 17 November 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne and on 25 February 1916 left the Division and transferred to GHQ Troops. On 25 April 1916 the Battalion transferred to 86th Brigade in 29th Division.

So when William arrived the 16th Battalion would have been in the 86th Brigade in the 29th Division. Between 1 to 12 April, the Regimental Diary noted that the Battalion marched from Halloy-l-Pernois to Gezancourt; then back to Halloy, then to Sus St. Leger, then Bavincourt; Simencourt and arrived in Arras on 12 April, three days after the start of the Battle of Arras.

13 April    – 6am          – Battalion to original German first line trenches near Tilloy-lez-Mofflaines.

                – 8pm         – Battalion to original German third line trenches.

14 April   – 1pm         – Battalion to Orange Hill. Casualties, Other Ranks K.7. W.10.

                – 8pm         – Battalion moved to take over front line from 2nd Hants. Regt. in Monchy

15-18 April                – Battalion engaged in making new defences of Monchy.

     Casualties. Officers, K.1. W.1. others, K.7. W.59. M.3.

18-19 April                – Battalion is relieved …

Just five or so weeks after he had arrived in France, William’s Service Record showed that he was wounded on 16 April 1917. He was probably one of those 59 men who were wounded whilst engaged in ‘making new defences of Monchy’.

He was moved to the 87th Field Ambulance[4] and then to No.8 Casualty Clearing Station, which was based at Agnez-les-Duisans about 10 miles west of Arras, where he died of his wounds, aged 32, on 30 April 1917.[5]

William was buried in Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, in Grave Ref: II. O. 23. His headstone confirms the ‘official’ date of death of 30 April 1917, however the schedules for any inscription appear to be missing.

Duisans is a village in the Department of the Pas-de-Calais, about 9 kilometres west of Arras. The Cemetery takes its name from the village although it technically lies in the Commune of Etrun.

The area around Duisans was occupied by Commonwealth forces from March 1916, but it was not until February 1917 that the site of this cemetery was selected for the 8th Casualty Clearing Station. The first burials took place in March and from the beginning of April the cemetery grew very quickly, with most of the graves relating to the Battles of Arras in 1917, and the trench warfare that followed.[6]

William had served for 1 year and 44 days and on 22 May 1917 he was formally ‘Discharged in consequence of death from wounds received in action. The discharge of the above named man is hereby approved.’[7]

William was awarded the Victory and British medals. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and a memorial notice was published in the Rugby Advertiser.[8]

After the war, his widow, Charlotte Maria Swingler, was recorded as living at 101 Grosvenor Road, Rugby.   It seems his medals had been ‘returned’ and his Medal Card indicates that they were re-issued in August 1922.

Charlotte received William’s outstanding pay of £3-0-1d on 22 September 1917, and his War Gratuity of £4-0-0d on 11 December 1919. She was also awarded a pension of 13 shillings and 9 pence per week from 12 November 1917.



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This article on William James SWINGLER 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, April 2017.

[1]       De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919, Volume 4, and British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920, from The National Archives (TNA), Kew, both available at www.ancestry.co.uk.

[2]       Based on data from: http://www.1914-1918.net/msex.htm.

[3]       A combined vaccine used to produce immunity against the diseases typhoid, paratyphoid A, and paratyphoid B; the “paratyphoid” components would later prove ineffective

[4]       87th (1st West Lancashire) Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps served with 29th Division.

[5]       One earlier grave registration report gives the date of his death as the next day, 1 May 1917.

[6]       From; http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/4300/DUISANS%20BRITISH%20CEMETERY,%20ETRUN

[7]       From William’s Service Record, British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920, from The National Archives (TNA), Kew, available at www.ancestry.co.uk.


[8]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

Wilkins, Ebenezer Joseph. Died 29th Apr 1917

Ebenezer Joseph Wilkins (usually known as Joseph) was born in Rugby in 1877 and baptised on 30th September at New Bilton Church. His brother Edwin Ernest, less than two years older was baptised at the same time. Their father was William Wilkins, a carpenter born in Lighthorne, Warwickshire and their mother was Sarah (nee Collins). They had married on 11th June 1867 in Rugby Parish Church. The family lived at 51 Union Street.

In the 1911 census Joseph, at the age of 34, seems to have been listed by his brother’s name, Ernest. He was a painter. Ernest, age 35 was a butler, living in Grantham. Since he was listed as a page boy in 1891 and footman in 1901, while Joseph remained at home, this seems the most logical conclusion.

Sarah Wilkins died on 16th September, 1915, aged 76, her husband William (74), died three weeks later on 6th October. In the probate index for William, Ebenezer Wilkins is described as a paperhanger.

It must have been a few months after this that Ebenezer Joseph joined the 11th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment as private no.17598. His medal roll index card, in the name of Edward Wilkins, gives no indication he served before 1916.

For more information about the movements of the 11th Bn, see the biography of Wallace Liddington, who died a few days earlier on 25th April 1917.

On the 29th April, R.W.R was involved in the second action (23rd-29th Apr) of the Battle of Arras. Early on the morning of 28th April they were in position to attack Greenland Hill

War Diary, 11th Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment

4.25am After going about 100 yds the right front Coy (D. Coy – Lieut M Shaw) commenced to make a left incline with the object of filling a gap which had occurred between us and the 63rd Bde on our left. B. Coy conformed(?) to this movement. As both the officers with the leading Coys became casualties immediately after, a few men lost direction & became mixed up with the 111th Bde. The remainder advanced but owing to the fact that all the officers and senior N.C.O.s with the exception of two Sergeants were either killed or wounded the battalion became very scattered. Detached parties with Lewis Guns occupied a general line 300 – 400 yds East of CUBA TR overlapping 63rd Bde on the left & remainder of this Bde (112th) on the right.
Battn remained in this position until the Brigade was relieved by 10th Agyll & Sutherland Highlanders just before daybreak on the 29th

Marched back to transport west of ST NICHOLAS
At 2p.m. Battn embussed & proceeded to DENIER & went into billets.

30.4.17 Battn rested.

Ebenezer Joseph Wilkins must have been one of the 59 other ranks listed as missing of the action from 23rd-29th April 1917. He is listed on the Arras Memorial, Bay 3.

His next of kin was his younger sister, Sarah. She put a notice in the Rugby Advertiser in 1921, on the anniversary of his death.
WILKINS – In ever loving memory of my dear brother, Pte. J. Wilkins, R.W.R. who was reported missing (presumed killed) April 29th, 1917
-Ever in the thoughts of his loving sister.



28th Apr 1917. Eat Less Bread and Avoid Waste


The wheat crop of 1916 was a failure the world over. How intimately that shortage affects this country is obvious when we remember that before the War we imported four-fifths of our wheat supplies. Indeed of all the food we ate we brought three-fifths across the   seas. To-day we are short of food ships to bring our[?] wheat ; hundreds of the vessels which formerly carried food are plying purely in the interests of our Army, and those of our Allies. The keynote of the campaign must, therefore, be ; CONCENTRATE ON THE SAVING OF BREAD. That, first and foremost, is the necessity of the moment.

The mass of the population must have bread. To the poor it is the chief necessity of life, for it to cheap and needs no cooking. Not only people of means, but those who at present are earning high wages, can afford to buy and cook other foods. Let the cheaper foods—cheap rabbits, the cheaper cuts of meat, the more popular kinds of fish—be left for those who cannot afford to buy anything else. The rich can endure breadless days, but the poor cannot.

Another aspect of the campaign is TO CHECK WASTE. Waste of any kind of food is, under the present stress of war, not only selfish and disloyal, but criminal. Before the War, it has been said, the nation could have lived on the food it wasted, and the waste is still very great. Waste of meat, of vegetables, waste in over-cooking or in over-eating-the campaign aims at checking all the forms of helping Germany.

To bring home to the people the enormous losses in the food supply by the apparently trivial waste of food which goes on daily, the Food Controller has issued a series of leaflets, of which the following is an example :

“ I am a slice of Bread.
I measure three inches by two-and-half, and my thickness is half-an-inch.
My weight to exactly an ounce.
I am wasted once a day by 48,000,000 people in Britain.
I am the “ bit left over;” the slice eaten absent mindedly when really I wasn’t needed ; I am the waste crust.
If you collected me and my companions for a whole week you would find that we amounted to 9,380 tons of good bread—WASTED !
Two Shiploads of Good Bread !
Almost as much—striking an average—as two German submarines could sink—even if they had p[?] luck.
When you throw me away or waste me you are adding twenty submarines to the German Navy.”


Probably no result of the War has been brought home to the public generally more emphatically than shortage of paper, due to the great reduction in the quantity of pulp and other materials for making it being imported from abroad. There are, however, in the country vast accumulations of paper which might be used up and re-manufactured if it could only find its way to the mills. Any white paper, whether printed or written upon or not, such as newspapers, letters, old receipts, and other documents too numerous to describe, old account books, magazines, novels, &c, can be utilised ; and in order to facilitate the collection of these materials and have them forwarded to the proper quarters for re-manufacture, an organisation has been formed in Rugby, which, if adequately supported, cannot fail to have gratifying results. In conjunction with Mrs Blagden, of The Rectory, Mr J Reginald Barker has undertaken to receive all waste paper of the kind mentioned, and see that it is properly baled and sent off to certain mills, the owners of which will pay good price per ton for it—much higher than the rates which have usually been paid on waste paper.

All the proceeds will be devoted to Rugby charities, so that no one will make a personal profit, and all who help will know they are gaining a twofold advantage by helping to maintain the paper supply and assisting charity.

Mr W T C Hodges, headmaster of Murray School, and Mr W T Simmonds, headmaster of Elborow Schools, have made arrangements to collect the waste from people’s houses, and a postcard addressed to either of these gentlemen will receive prompt attention.

Those who turn out old letters, documents, account books, &c, are assured that they will be carefully baled, despatched, and destroyed without being subjected to the scrutiny of prying eyes.

All stiff covers should be removed from books before being handed over to the collectors. It is estimated that several tons per month can be collected in Rugby, and a very handsome sum may in due course be available for disposal in charitable objects.


Frank Leslie Hogg, second son of Mr and Mrs George Hogg, of the Eagle Hotel, has passed as a Second Air Mechanic into the Royal Flying Corps, and is now stationed at Farnham.

A PURE BRED BELGIAN HARE rabbit, belonging to Harry Redgrave Lovell, the infant son of P C Lovell, was sold by Mr W Wiggins in Rugby Cattle Market on Monday for the Red Cross Funds, £5 being realised.

Mr T Johnson, High Street, has received information that his son, 2nd-Lieut H T Johnson, of the 129th Field Company, Royal Engineers, was wounded in the shoulder last week in France. He has now been removed to a London hospital.

A letter has been received from Pte Huckle, R.A.M.C — a member of the Rugby St John Ambulance Brigade — whose home is at 14 Spring Street, Rugby, stating that he was on a hospital ship that was recently torpedoed.

Pte T Lane, Durham Light Infantry, of Bridget Street, formerly employed at the Newbold Road Co-operative Stores, has sustained a badly shattered arm and other wounds ; Corpl L G Archer, Bennett Street, has been severely wounded, and his right arm has been amputated ; and Lance-Corpl W Labraham, Little Pennington Street, has been wounded in Palestine. All three are Old St Matthew’s boys.

Lieut R C Herron, of the Second Anzacs Supply Column (whose marriage with Miss Thompson, of Paradise Street, Rugby, we recently announced), has been promoted to the rank of captain and adjutant.

Corpl Bert Wilkins (bandsman), of the Rifle Brigade, was killed on the 4th inst. He was brought up from childhood by Mrs Kempton, 67 King Edward Road, and before joining Kitchener’s Army at the age of 16 was employed at the B.T.H Works, and was a drummer in the 1st Rugby Company Boys’ Brigade. Mrs Kempton’s eldest son has been a prisoner of war in Germany since the Battle of Mons. Her youngest son had been twice wounded, and went back to the front as recently as a month ago.


Corpl Ernest W Hallam of the Railway Section of the Royal Engineers, whose wife lives at the New Station, has won the D C M. Before joining the army he was a platelayer in Rugby Coal Yard.


Mr J J McKinnell has received news that his son, Lieut J J McKinnell, of the R.W.R, has been seriously wounded in the ankle. Some time ago Lieut McKinnell was wounded, and he had only returned to the front a fortnight when he received his present injury.


PRIVATE J WARD WOUNDED.—Mr and Mrs T Ward have received news that their son, Pte J Ward, of the Warwicks, has been wounded in the left shoulder and face. ‘Mr and Mrs Ward’s four sons joined up—one, Charlie, has been killed ; Jack has lost the sight of one of his eyes from wounds, and the other son was invalided home. Much sympathy is felt for them in their trouble. Mr Ward himself has been ill for some length of time.



It is very necessary that Generous Support be given to ensure that the Men from Rugby and District who have fallen into the hands of the enemy shall not lack the Food necessary to keep them in Health and Strength.


Colonel and Mrs Mulliner recently offered to lend and to entirely equip Clifton Court as a hospital, and this generous offer has now been accepted by the Military Authorities, who will devote it to wounded officers of the Royal Flying Corps.

Mrs Mulliner will act as commandant, and the voluntary aid detachment will consist entirely of local ladies.

The charming situation and beautiful gardens of Clifton Court make it an ideal place for convalescent patients.


Dear Mr Editor,-—A conference comprising committees appointed by the Urban and Rural District Councils of Rugby, and the Rugby Chamber of Trade, has been formed with a view to framing a scheme for assisting owners of one man businesses in Rugby, in the event of their being called up for military or national service. Will anyone interested in the scheme kindly communicate with the secretary, at the address given below, by Wednesday, the 2nd May ? Yours faithfully, T Wise, Chairman, H LUPTON REDDISH, Secretary, Market Place, Rugby.


PYWELL.—Killed in action, on Easter Monday, Sergt. F. W. Pywell, of London (Middlesex) Regiment, youngest son of E. Pywell, 23 Sandown Road, Rugby ; aged 30.

THORNEY.—Died in France on April 10th of wounds received in action, ALFRED, the second and dearly beloved son of Mrs. Thorney, Rose and Crown, Basingstoke.


DAVIS.—In ever-loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private ROLAND DAVIS, of New Bilton, who was killed in action in France on April 27, 1916.-Not forgotten by his loving FATHER, MOTHER, BROTHER and SISTERS.

GREEN.—In loving memory of Private JOHN GREEN, of Catthorpe, who died in Tidworth Military Hospital on April 16, 1914 ; aged 35 years.—“ His memory is as fresh to-day as the hour in which he passed away.” — Never forgotten by his loving FATHER and MOTHER, BROTHERS and SISTER.

GRIFFITH.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, HERBERT, who was killed in action at Ypres on April 27, 1915.
“ Two years have passed since Jesus called him ;
As time goes on we miss him more.
His loving smile, his kindly face,
No one can fill his vacant place.
Not dead to those who love him ;
Not lost, but gone before.
He lives with us in memory,
And will for ever more.”

OGBURN.—In loving memory of my dear husband. Pte. CHARLES ROBERT OGBURN, who died April 26, 1916.—“ He is gone but not forgotten.”

OWEN.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother. GEO. ERNEST OWEN (TAS), Royal Warwicks., who fell in action at Ypres on April 25, 1915. — “ He nobly answered duty’s call, and gave his life for one and all.”—Never forgotten by DAD, MOTHER, BROTHERS and SISTERS.

ROBBINS.—In affectionate remembrance of Lance-Corpl. F. ROBBINS, Royal Warwicks., who was killed in action in France on April 30, 1916.
“ Sleep on, beloved, in a far-off grave :
A grave I may never see ;
But as long as life and memory last
I will remember thee.”
—From EM.

Welch, Ernest Edward. Died 28th Apr 1917

Ernest Edward Welch’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1880 in Rugby to Edward Welch (b.1852 in London) and Harriett Welch (née Lack b.1855 in Rugby). Ernest Edward’s parents had married in Rugby in 1878. Ernest’s father, Edward, was a traffic guard with the LNWR railway in 1891 when the family were living at 48 Union Street, Rugby. They were at the same address in 1901 and his father was still with the LNWR.  There were now five children Edith, Ernest, Florence, Ethel and Alice.

By 1901, Ernest Edward Welch was a bricklayer and his marriage with Bertha Elizabeth Lenton was registered in Rugby the next year, in the third quarter of 1902. In 1903 Ernest and Bertha had a daughter, Effie. Before 1911 they had moved to 54 Union Street, and later – and after the war – his widow and daughter were at 35 Union Street.

Ernest joined up as No.26321 in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox. & Bucks.]. His record in the ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ states that he enlisted at Rugby, and the ‘Medal Roll’ indicates that he was at first in the 6th Battalion,

6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Oxford in September 1914 as part of K2 and placed under orders of 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on 22 July 1915.

Whether Ernest was with them at that date is unknown but he may have still been in training. His Medal Card does not record the date he went to France, and there are no surviving Service Records, however, the absence of an award of a 1914 or 1914-1915 Star suggests it was some time in 1916 or later. At some date he was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion and possibly this was when he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 2nd Battalion had returned home from India in 1903 and was initially based in Chatham and in 1907 moved to Tidworth, Wiltshire. When World War I started the Battalion was stationed at Albuhera barracks, Aldershot, and was part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division.   On 14 August 1914 the Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1914: the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat; the Battle of the Marne; the Battle of the Aisne; and the First Battle of Ypres. Then in 1915: the Winter Operations 1914-15; the Battle of Festubert; and the Battle of Loos.

It seems likely that Ernest would have been involved in some of the actions in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of the Ancre; and other operations on the Ancre. A fuller summary of the campaigns can be found on Wikipedia,[1] which also summarises the actions in early 1917 …

‘The New Year of 1917 brought with it a period of severe weather conditions on the Somme plain which led to an unofficial truce between the two sides. In March 1917, the Germans began the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March – 5 April) and at the end of March the 2nd Ox and Bucks moved from the Somme to the back areas of Arras. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and other battalions of the regiment saw much involvement in the Arras Offensive (9 April – 16 May), including at the Battles of Scarpe and Arleux. The 2nd Ox and Bucks took part in the battle of Arras from 11 April and had a leading role in the battle of Arleux on 28-29 April: during the battle the battalion protected the right flank of the Canadian 1st Division which was critical to the capture of the village of Arleux and sustained more than 200 casualties.’

It seems likely that Ernest was one of those 200 casualties on 28 April 1917, during the attack on the Arleux-Oppy Line. Further details are provided in the Commanding Officer (Lieut.-Colonel Crosse’s) Diary.[2]

April 28th.- 4.25 a.m. was fixed for “zero hour,” when the Regiment attacked in four Waves, … The whole attack was more successful on the left than on the right, the Canadian Corps taking and holding, apparently without difficulty, all their objectives. …

The feature of the operations … was the initiative, resource, and good leading of the Company and Platoon Commanders, …   All their subordinate commanders seemed to realize the necessity for at once collecting together adjacent men – no matter to whom they belonged – and retelling-off and reorganizing them for immediate further action.

The casualties included … about 200 other ranks, of whom 130 were wounded, and the remainder either killed or missing.

The Regiment, in touch on either flank with the adjacent troops, continued to hold its front, approximately on the line of the “Blue Line” (2nd Objective), where extremely good work was done by the Lewis-gunners.

The trenches were very much shelled and badly provided with dugouts; a number of men were buried, and a certain number of casualties occurred, the exact figures it has not yet been possible to arrive at as regards separating them from those which occurred in the actual attack.

At some point during this action, on 28 April 1917, Ernest Welch was killed, either in the action or the subsequent shelling described above. Ernest’s body was not recovered or identified and he is now remembered on Panel: G. 11. of the Arras Memorial, located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, to the west of Arras, near the Citadel.

The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Ernest was awarded the Victory and British medals, and after his death, Ernest’s effects and money owing were paid to his widow, Bertha. She received £2-18-3d on 8 September 1917 and then a gratuity of £3 on 1 November 1919.

As well as the Arras Memorial, Ernest is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on a family headstone in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.



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This article on Ernest Edward Welch was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, December 2016.


[1]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry

[2]       Diary, 2nd Bn. Ox. and Bucks. L. I., http://www.lightbobs.com/1917-arras-april-june.html.

Young, William Cotterill. Died 25th Apr 1917

William Cotterill Young was born in New Bilton, Rugby and baptised at New Bilton Church on 16 Oct 1892. His parents were John and Elizabeth Louisa (nee Cotterill). Both were from Whitnash in Leamington, where they were married on 6th April 1885. John was a platelayer. Their first child, Martha Ellen was born in Long Lawford two years later. A further two daughters were born after the family moved to Pinfold Street, New Bilton. William, named after his maternal grandfather was their final child and only son. By 1911 John was working as a labourer at the cement works, William was aged 18 and a painter.

By the time he enlisted, in March 1916, he was working at the B.T.H Lamp Factory. He joined the 11th Bn, Worcestershire Regiment as a Private (no. 34050).

The 11th Battalion had been in Macedonia since December 1915 and much of the time was spent training in the hills of Salonika. For most of September they were in reserve, returning to the front line on Oct 8th. There were several raids against the enemy resulting in the capture of some Bulgarian trenches. After a week they were in reserve, returning to the front line from 8th-15th November. Bad weather closed down hostilities for the winter and the battalion spent a cheerless Christmas in the trenches and shelters near the Selimli Dere.

“The severity of the Balkan winter kept both sides immobile during the months of January and February. During those months the 11th Worcestershire alternated between the forward trenches near Horseshoe Hill and the reserve trenches near Chuguntsi. There was very little to choose between the two sets of trenches as regards discomfort and but little to choose between them as regards danger. Shell fire was only spasmodic, and patrolling brought little loss.” 

In April “..a general Allied offensive astride the River Vardar was planned. Pending the battle, the normal routine of the Division was continued. On April 8th the 11th Worcestershire relieved the 9th Gloucestershire in the front-line trenches and held them till April 13th. As if sensing the coming attack, the enemy’s artillery was now more active, fortunately without serious results (Casualties from 9th to 13th April, 1 man killed). After relief on April 13th the Worcestershire marched back to camp at Pivoines. There six days were spent in strenuous training. Then on April 21st the Battalion moved forward to the line, and was accommodated in shelters prepared in the Senelle and Elbow Ravines, close behind the front trenches. Already the British artillery had begun (April 21st) a systematic bombardment of the enemy’s wire and trenches.

During those days before the battle, “…much good work was done by the Battalion Intelligence Officer, 2/Lt.T. Featherstone; who carried out a daring reconnaissance of the enemy’s position, going out alone by night and remaining all the next day under cover close to the enemy’s line, thereby gaining most valuable information. He was awarded the M.C. for his actions.

On April 23rd came word that the attack would take place on the next night.

The plan of the attack, so far as the 26th Division was concerned, was a direct frontal attack across the Jumeaux Ravine. Further to the left the 22nd Division would advance from” Horseshoe Hill” along the ‘P” Ridge (so called because various tactical points along it had been designated” P.3,” “P.4,” “ P.5,” etc.), of which that height is the southern end.

From Lake Doiran to the Petit Couronné the attack of the 26th Division would be made by three battalions of the 79th Brigade; from the Petit Couronné to the junction with the 22nd Division two battalions of the 78th Brigade would make the attack, these being, from right to lift, the 7th Royal Berkshire and the 11th Worcestershire.

The objective of the 11th Worcestershire was a spur named on the maps “O 6.” On that spur the enemy were strongly entrenched. To reach those trenches the attacking companies would have to rush down the steep slope to the bottom of the ravine and then scale the equally steep slope on the other side. It was not expected that success would easily be won; for the Bulgarian infantry had proved themselves to be good fighters. As to the strength of the enemy’s artillery there was but little information.

The attack was timed for 9.45 p.m. The British heavy artillery, which had kept up a steady fire during the previous three days, continued firing without intermission through the twilight and throughout the first hours of darkness. The boom of the guns and the crash of the bursting shells echoed and re-echoed among the deep ravines.”

After confused and bloody fighting the Worcestershire men took most of the enemy’s front line along the ridge. While attempting to consolidate the captured trench, the enemy counter-attacked but were driven back. A communication trench was taken and the retaken by the enemy. Battle continued under a continual barrage of bombs.

“The defence of the captured trench had been maintained for four hours, under constant fire and against repeated counter-attacks. More than half of the Worcestershire had fallen. Ammunition was almost exhausted. A message was sent for assistance. In response to that call a company of the 7th Oxford & Bucks L.I. were sent forward. Dashing through the barrage, some forty brave men of that regiment reached the position of the Worcestershire and bore a share in the last desperate struggle on the ridge”.

“About 3.0 a.m. came yet another attack. Three successive waves of the enemy came surging over the crest of the spur. In front the attack was stopped dead by the British musketry; but from both flanks the enemy’s bombers came pushing inwards, and no bombs remained with which they could be opposed. Gradually the length of trench held by the Worcestershire grew shorter, as from both flanks the enemy bombers pressed in. Unless help should come the end was only a question of time; but the remnant of the brave Battalion held on, until, about 4.0 a.m., there came a definite order to retire.”

“The order to retire was passed down the line, and, squad after squad, the remnant of the 11th Worcestershire fell back down the slope. Among the last to leave was Corporal A. Radcliffe who, on his own initiative, mounted a Lewis-gun on the parapet of the trench and covered the retreat of his comrades by bursts of rapid fire. Corpl. Radcliffe was awarded the M.M.

Those of the Worcestershire who still could move staggered back down the slope, turning and firing as they retreated. In the hollow below they found the remnant of two companies of the 9th Gloucestershire, who had advanced to their assistance but had been unable to pass the barrage. Still under fire, they hauled themselves up the further slope, through the scrub and rocks, back to their own lines, and reached at last the comparative safety of the British trenches just as dawn began to light up the scene.

The cause of the repulse was undoubtedly the terrific strength of the enemy’s artillery; greater by far than that of our own guns (Vide Divisional Diary—” A marked feature of these operations was the preponderance of the enemy’s heavy artillery over ours, which enabled him to place such a barrage on the Jumeaux Ravine as to upset our plans.”). The result was a mournful tale of casualties in all the attacking battalions. Out of a battle-strength of perhaps 500, the 11th Worcestershire had lost over 350 of all ranks. The losses of the other attacking battalions of the 26th Division were in much the same proportion.”

On 26th April, what remained of the 11th Bn, Worcestershire Regt marched back into reserve. They took part in another unsuccessful attack on 8th May and on the 7th June they were relieved and left the area. The heat of the Macedonian summer caused military activity to die down. The Battle of Doiran was over.

(More about the Worcestershire Regiment’s part in this battle, together with a map, can be found at the excellent Regimental website from which this account has been taken)

Private William Cotterill Young died on 25th April 1917 and is listed on the Doiran Memorial which stands roughly in the centre of the line occupied for two years by the Allies in Macedonia, but close to the western end, which was held by Commonwealth forces. It marks the scene of the fierce fighting of 1917-1918, which caused the majority of the Commonwealth battle casualties.

He is also listed on the Croop Hill and B.T.H. Memorials.



Research for this article was conducted by Graham Gare who died in October 2015. Graham was a member of RGHG for many years, and as our “Military Expert” he took a large part in researching and writing articles for this site.

Liddington, Wallace. Died 25th Apr 1917

Wallace LIDDINGTON was born in Rugby in about 1886, the second son of Frederick William Liddington, a cattle salesman, who was born in 1852 in Tring, Hertfordshire and Kate née Hirons. Their marriage was registered in Bromsgrove in 1879.

Before 1881 his parents had moved to Rugby and initially Frederick had been a ‘grocer’s assistant’ and they lived at 7 Bath Street. All their children were born in Rugby. Wallace was christened at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby on 7 January 1886, by which date the family had moved to live at 26 Arnold Street and Wallace’s father, Frederick, had become a ‘cattle dealer’.

Aged 5 in 1891, Wallace was with the family at 26 Arnold Street, Rugby, where his father was still a ‘cattle dealer’. In 1901 he seems to have been entered on the census as William! In 1911, Wallace was still living with his family, and they had now moved to live at 88 Railway Terrace, Rugby. Wallace had started work and was an ‘assistant butcher’ and a later report[1] noted that he had been employed as a butcher by Mr. Whittaker.

Wallace enlisted in Rugby and joined up as Private, No. 21021, in the 11th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in September 1916.[2] His medal record suggests that he may have been initially in the 14th Battalion of the Warwicks before being transferred to the 11th Battalion

The 11th (Service) Battalion was formed at Warwick in September 1914 as part of K3 and attached as Army Troops to 24th Division. In April 1915 it joined 112th Brigade, 37th Division concentrated at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain and on 25 June the units were inspected by King George V at Sidbury Hill.[3] On 22 July 1915 the Division began to cross the English Channel and by 2 August all units were concentrated near Tilques. The 11th Warwicks landed in France on 30 July 1915

There is no date of entry to ‘Overseas Theatre’ on his Medal Card, as this was after 1915, and hence the 1915 Star would not be awarded. It seems likely that Wallace was transferred from the 14th to the 11th after training as part of the reinforcement for the Arras offensive, when the 14th Battalion was in reserve and relatively quiet

The 11th Battalion was, as mentioned, in the 37th Division and their War Diary[4] survives, and in 1917 the 11th Battalion was involved two stages of the Battle of Arras which had started on 9 April 1917. The first stage was from 9 to 13 April 1917

The second action was from 23 to 29 April 1917, and known as the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23 to 24 April 1917).

… on 23 April, following two days of poor visibility and freezing weather, British troops … attacked to the east along an approximate 9 mile front from Croisilles to Gavrelle on both sides of the Scarpe. The 51st Division attacked on the northern side in heavy fighting on the western outskirts of Roeux Wood and the chemical works. On their left, the 37th Division [including the 11th Warwicks], attacked the buildings west of Roeux Station and gained the line of their objectives on the western slopes of Greenland Hill, north of the railway. … Several determined German counter-attacks were made and by the morning of 24 April, the British held Guémappe, Gavrelle and the high ground overlooking Fontaine-lez-Croisilles and Cherisy; the fighting around Roeux was indecisive.

Wallace met his death when involved in this second action. The four companies of 11th Battalion were located to the north-east of Fampoux, some five miles east of Arras. On 23 April the Battalion advanced at 6pm from Chili Trench to near Cuba Trench at 10pm and then by 6pm on 24 April were 100 yards east of the line of the Gavrelle to Roeux road and then they ‘dug-in’. They could not advance further due to heavy fire from a chemical works to their right.

In this second action, 37 men of the 11th Warwicks were killed or died of wounds and a further 192 men were wounded. A number of officers were specifically recorded as killed or wounded in the actions on 24 April – and it seems likely that it was on that date – a TUESDAY – that Wallace was also wounded – and was one of those 37 ‘killed or died of wounds’. He was probably admitted to ‘hospital’ on Tuesday 24 April 1917, ‘… suffering severe wounds to his chest, arm and head …’.

He was evacuated, presumably to Aubigny, some ten miles north-west of Arras, where there were a number of Casualty Clearing Stations. Wallace ‘… died of his wounds on the following day.’ This would have been Wednesday, 25 April 1917, which was the officially recorded date of his death. Indeed, the Diary records that they were relieved by the 5th Bedfords at 3am on the night of 24th/25th, when it was recorded that nothing else of importance occurred during this period – it would at least have allowed the wounded to be recovered and transported to ‘hospital’.

Wallace was buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in grave ref: II. G. 6. There was no additional family inscription on the headstone. Aubigny-en-Artois is a village about 15kms north-west of Arras. From March 1916 to the Armistice, Aubigny was held by Commonwealth troops and burials were made in the Extension until September 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station buried in it during the whole period, the 30th in 1916 and 1917, the 24th and 1st Canadian in 1917 (during the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps) and the 57th in 1918. The Cemetery Extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

The register of effects showed a payment of £6-13-0 to Wallace’s father on 9 August 1917 and then a War Gratuity of £3-0-0 on 11 November 1919. By the end of the war the family had moved again to 44 Murray Road, Rugby.

Wallace was awarded the Victory and British medals. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.



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This article on Wallace LIDDINGTON 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, April 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[3]       Sidbury Hill is just north-west of Tidworth Camp, and should not be confused with the better known Silbury Hill.

[4]       The National Archives, Piece 2538/2: 11 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Aug – 1918 Feb).

Poole, Frank. Died 24th Apr 1917

Frank Poole was born in Rugby and baptised on 22nd Aug 1897 at St Matthews Church. He was the only son of Samuel Johnson and Emma Poole who lived at 178 Cambridge Street Rugby. Samuel was a boot maker.

Frank Poole attended Murray School from where he had gained a scholarship to the Lower School, which was on the site of the present day Lawrence Sheriff School. He was first employed in the B.T.H. offices and then as a junior clerk in The Rugby Gas Co’s Office.

He attested for the war under the Derby Group Scheme and joined up July 1916 after reaching his 19th Birthday. He served with the 14th Battalion, Royal Warwick Regiment.   Frank Poole was killed in action 24th April 1917, aged 19 years.

According to his obituary, published in the Rugby Advertiser on 5th May 1917, he was a good singer and as a boy was a member of the Holy Trinity Church Choir, also being a teacher at the Murray Sunday School. He had a quiet unassuming nature and was generally loved and respected by those who knew him.

He is buried at La Chauderiere Military Cemetery Vimy France, and on his parents grave in Clifton Road Cemetery Rugby, there is a memorial to him “In loving memory of Frank Poole Roy. Wark. Reg. Killed in action in France 24th April 1917 aged 19 years. He gave his life for his God and Country. His father Samuel died July 1924 aged 63 years and his mother Emma passed away 28th December 1932 aged 72 years.