14th Apr 1917. Baptist Local Preacher Killed

BAPTIST LOCAL PREACHER KILLED.

News has been received this week of the death in action of Sergt Albert Leeson, of the Bedford Regiment. Sergt Albert Leeson, who was 22 years of age, was before the war employed as a printer by Mr G E Over. His parents reside at Leicester, but he had lived with his grand-parents at Newbold practically all his life. It appears from a letter which has been received, that he was killed by a shell while his unit was following up the German retreat. His death has caused widespread sorrow in local Baptist circles, where he was greatly beloved as a local preacher, and as late secretary to the Christian Endeavour Society. He was a very earnest worker, and, starting to preach at the early age of fifteen, he was a great favourite in the village churches. A young man of considerable intellectual power, he contributed letters and poems to “ The Pioneer,” the Baptist Magazine.

A SON OF MR C J PACKWOOD RECEIVES A COMMISSION.

W H Packwood, fourth son of Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, Rugby, has been granted a month’s leave. Since September he had been out in France with a trench mortar battery of the H.A.C, and has had varied experiences. On the recommendation of his Captain-although still under twenty years of age-he has been offered a Commission, and after his furlough will go into training for his new duties as an officer.

SECOND-LIEUT VICTOR RALLISON KILLED.

General regret will be felt at the news, which was received early this week, that Second-Lieut Victor Rallison, of Manchester Regiment, was killed in action on Saturday. Second-Lieut Rallison, who was 30 years of age, was called to the colours on August 4, 1914, as a reservist, and was granted a commission on October 23rd last. Prior to the War he was for 2 ½ years a member of the Rugby Police Force, and by his unfailing courtesy and tact he made himself very popular not only with his colleagues but with the public generally. He had been married about six months, and his wife resides at her home at Churchover.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Pte W F W Satchell (Royal Warwicks), son of Mr W Satchell, 94 Park Road, Rugby, has again been wounded, this time by shrapnel, in the right knee.

Major Leonard Parker, cousin of the Earl of Macclesfield, and nephew of the Hon A E Parker (late master of the North Warwickshire Hounds),has been killed in an air duel at the front.

The parents of Trooper P W Labraham, Warwickshire Yeomanry, 23 Little Pennington Street, have received intimation that he was wounded on March 27th in Egypt.

The death took place from measles, in a military hospital on April 8th, of 3rd Air Mechanic M Bruce Andrews, who joined the Royal Flying Corps about three weeks ago. Prior to joining the army A.M Andrews was employed in the Cashiers Dept at the B.T.H.

Mr and Mrs Kirby of Birmingham, late of Winfield Street, Rugby, have received this week official news of the death of their eldest son, W Kirby. He was reported missing from July 1, 1916. He belonged to the Territorial Battalion R.W.R some time before the war broke out, and was drafted to France soon afterwards. Pte Kirby was 19 years of age, and when living in Rugby was employed at the B.T.H.

MARRIAGES.

BRASSINGTON.-Chown.-On April 10th, at the Parish Church, Daventry, by the Rev. A.S. Lindsay (Rector), ALEXANDER FRANK (Fitter, R.F.A.), son of Mr. and Mrs. John Brassington, Murray Road, Rugby, to DORA AUGUSTA, eldest daughter of C.S.M. H. Chown (Northants. Regt.) and Mrs. Chown, “Express” Office, Sheaf Street, Daventry.

DEATHS.

ANDREWS.-On Easter Sunday, at Aldershot Isolation Hospital, of bronchial pneumonia, following measles, 3rd A.M. MELVIN BRUCE ANDREWS, Royal Flying Corps, dearly beloved son of S. M. Andrews and the late Thomas Andrews ; aged 22 years.

KIRBY.-On July 1st, 1916, W. J. KIRBY (BILLY), eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, late of Winfield Street, Rugby, now of Witton, Birmingham, aged 19 years. Killed in action in France.

MANSFIELD.-In loving memory of 2nd Lieutenant H. E. MANSFIELD, of the 1st Cheshire Regiment, late of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, who died in France, April 12th, 1916.-Gone, but not forgotten.-M. G. W.

Read, Charles Henry. Died 11th Apr 1917

Charles Henry Read was born in Norwich in Norfolk in around 1885. He was the son of Charles and Alice Read. Charles and Alice Green did not marry until 1902, so Charles Henry may have been registered as Green. In 1901 Charles Henry was aged 16, a shoe cutter. His father is listed as a retired Baker living in Barn Road, Norwich. In 1906 Charles Henry married Edith Spooner and in 1911 they were living at 35 Goldsmith St, Dereham Road, Norwich. He was a boot maker and they had a son Charles William, aged 4.

Some time after this, Charles Henry moved to Rugby, to work at B.T.H. in the Controller Dept. He must have signed up towards the start of the way in the 1st Bn, Warwickshire Regiment (Private no. 3382) and landed in France on 4th May 1915.

From 1st April the Royal Warwicks was at Camblain-Chatelaine involved in training. On the 7th, there was a route march to Bethon-sart, continuing to “X” camp the next day. By 11th April they were in Dug-outs S of Athies

War Diaries of 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
11 April 1917

2-3 a.m. Conference at Brigade Head Quarters and orders issued that 10th Brigade will attack at 12 noon Operation Order attached.

8.30 a.m. Battalion moved  off to W. of Fampoux and arrived 10.00 a.m.

11.20 a.m. Battalion moved up to Assembly position on Sunken Road on E. edge of Fampoux and arrived 12 noon.

A & C Coys attack on 2 Coy frontage of 500x per Coy and B Coy follow in near as carriers.

12 noon Attack commences and 1st R. Irish Fus. and 2nd Seaforth Highlanders start going forward

12.10 p.m. A & C Coys followed by B Coy follow these Battalions, our Battalion supporting 1st R. Irish Fus. The enemy shelled our Assembly positions heavily and we had many casualties before starting.

The enemy’s M. Gun fire held up our attack almost from the start and the Brigade consolidated a line about 400x in front of the Assembly position.

Both Brigades on our right and left were held up also by M. Gun fire.

Enemy put up a heavy barrage on Assembly positions and vicinity.

Battalion dug in and held a line from Huddue Trench at H.18.a.0.9 to H.18.b,1,3 with Seaforth Highlanders on left and 1st R Irish Fus on right.

Enemy fairly quiet at night. Very cold and snow.

Officer casualties are given 2nd Lieuts 2 killed, 1 wounded and missing, 5 wounded.

Heavy shelling of Fampoux continued for several days and on the 20th Apr, the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Lincolnshire Regt.

Total casualties for the period 9th to 21st Incl.
Killed                             2 Officers            43 Other Ranks (includes 10 died of wds since)
Wounded and missing 1 Officer             – Other Ranks
Wounded                     5 Officers            173 Other Ranks
Missing                      – Officers              33 Other Ranks
Missing believed wounded -Officers       1 Other Ranks.

Both Joseph Vincent Cleaver and Charles Henry Read died on 11th April, probably in this action.

Charles Henry Read was buried at Fampoux British Cemetery.

He is also listed on the B.T.H. War Memorial.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Cleaver, Joseph Vincent. Died 11th April 1917

Joseph Vincent Cleaver was born in Oxford in 1878. His father was Thomas Howlett Cleaver who was born in Rugby and Jemima Mary (nee Vickers). Thomas met his wife in Alton, Staffordshire where her father worked at the stone quarry there. Thomas was a clerk and they married in 1870. By 1881, when Joseph was three, the family was living in Caldecote, near Nuneaton and Thomas was a builder’s agent. The family had returned to Rugby by 1891, living at Clifton Cottage in Bilton. Thomas was now a builder’s manager and thirteen year old Joseph was still at school. He was the third of nine children. In 1901 they were living at 51 Victoria Street and Thomas was a builder’s surveyor. Joseph was the eldest son still living at home. At 23 he was a brewer’s clerk.

By 1911 Thomas was a widower. He was a publican, living at the Horse and Jockey Inn in Lawford Road. Joseph was still living with him, a 33-year-old brewer’s clerk war (He was employed by the Leamington Brewery Company) together with his sister Zita, who was acting as housekeeper.

Joseph signed up in December 1915, one of the first to join up under Lord Derby’s Group System. He joined the 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Private no. 17860). He would have fought in the Battle of the Somme and other actions on the western front.

From 1st April the Royal Warwicks was at Camblain-Chatelaine involved in training. On the 7th, there was a route march to Bethon-sart, continuing to “X” camp the next day. By 11th April they were in Dug-outs S of Athies

War Diaries of 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
11 April 1917

2-3 a.m. Conference at Brigade Head Quarters and orders issued that 10th Brigade will attack at 12 noon Operation Order attached.

8.30 a.m. Battalion moved  off to W. of Fampoux and arrived 10.00 a.m.

11.20 a.m. Battalion moved up to Assembly position on Sunken Road on E. edge of Fampoux and arrived 12 noon.

A & C Coys attack on 2 Coy frontage of 500x per Coy and B Coy follow in near as carriers.

12 noon Attack commences and 1st R. Irish Fus. and 2nd Seaforth Highlanders start going forward

12.10 p.m. A & C Coys followed by B Coy follow these Battalions, our Battalion supporting 1st R. Irish Fus. The enemy shelled our Assembly positions heavily and we had many casualties before starting.

The enemy’s M. Gun fire held up our attack almost from the start and the Brigade consolidated a line about 400x in front of the Assembly position.

Both Brigades on our right and left were held up also by M. Gun fire.

Enemy put up a heavy barrage on Assembly positions and vicinity.

Battalion dug in and held a line from Huddue Trench at H.18.a.0.9 to H.18.b,1,3 with Seaforth Highlanders on left and 1st R Irish Fus on right.

Enemy fairly quiet at night. Very cold and snow.

Officer casualties are given 2nd Lieuts 2 killed, 1 wounded and missing, 5 wounded.

Heavy shelling of Fampoux continued for several days and on the 20th Apr, the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Lincolnshire Regt.

Total casualties for the period 9th to 21st Incl.
Killed                             2 Officers            43 Other Ranks (includes 10 died of wds since)
Wounded and missing 1 Officer             – Other Ranks
Wounded                     5 Officers            173 Other Ranks
Missing                      – Officers              33 Other Ranks
Missing believed wounded -Officers       1 Other Ranks.

Both Joseph Vincent Cleaver and Charles Henry Read died on 11th April, probably in this action

Joseph Vincent Cleaver was buried at Point-Du-Jour Military Cemetery, Athies

Rugby Advertiser, 12th May 1917 states
… This is the second son Mr Cleaver (Gregory) has lost in action and two more, George and Austin were wounded earlier in the war.”

Thomas Howlett Cleaver died in 1919. Joseph’s next of kin was named, in the soldiers effects, as his sister Zita.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Pywell, Frederick William. Died 10th Apr 1917

Frederick William Pywell was born in Rugby in 1885 and was baptised in St Matthews Church on 31 May. His parents were Edmund and Sarah (nee Gamble) and Edmund’s occupation was farmer. When they married, in Coventry, on 19th Feb 1881, Edmund was a cab driver from Saddington, Leics and Sarah was a carrier’s daughter from Harborough Magna.

The family soon settled in James Street, Rugby where Edmund was a domestic groom. In 1901, at the age of 16 Frederick was working as a domestic page. Sarah died in 1902 and sometime after that Edmund joined the London and North Western Railway. In 1911 his occupation was Dining Car Attendant and he was lodging in Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town. Two years later he married Ellen Lavinia Flewitt (or Flawith) and they had a son Frederick Richard Pywell in 1914.

Frederick William Pywell joined the 21st Bn, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment. (Serjeant, No. G/15761). This regiment was formed in July 1915 and landed in France in June 1916. They were involved in action on the Western Front including The Battle of the Ancre in 1916. And in 1917, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March) and the capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich, Beaucamp and La Vacquerie (April and early May)

At the start of April 1917 the 21st Regt was employed in mending the Moislains – Nurlu Road. After a day’s rest on the 3rd spent in inspections, bathing and foot treatment, the 4th was spent on the Bouchauednes- Clery road.

On the 5th the whole Battalion was moved to Etricourt and orders were received to take over the front line (Gouzeaucourt Wood). This was done on the 6th and the 7th was quiet with intermittent hostile shelling. They worked on the trenches.

At 6.30 the following morning the enemy opened a “Heavy and accurate barrage on the trenches occupied by B Coy. This continued throughout the day at intervals causing heavy casualties.” At dusk the company dug in new position 100 yards in rear. “Orders received for operation to take place on 9th.” The front line was readjusted.

War Diaries 21st Middlesex Rgt
April 9: At 3.00 pm 2 platoons of C Coy with 1 platoon of D as carrying party went over under moderate barrage. Objective 1 Cross Roads Q.23.c Objective II Cross Roads Q.23.a First Objective was reached with slight opposition at 3.21 pm. Consolidation commenced and one platoon under F S BRYAN proceeded towards second objective soon after coming under fire from three M.G.s causing several casualties. Our artillery failed to locate the guns. The platoon dug in and several attempts were made to reach the cross roads by patrolling round.

4.30 pm Our party of 8 under 2/lieut BRYAN actually reached the road but were wiped out except Lieut BRYAN.

Enemy shelling considerably increased causing many casualties

B Coy on left and A Coy on right had by this time covered the flanks by patrols.

5.10 Patrol of A Coy with Lewis Gun sent to assistance of a patrol of 13th B Yorks which had been heavily engaged by enemy.

5.30 Situation quiet

6.45 New position counter attacked on both flanks. Both L.G.s were out of action and casualties amounted to about 40. Another platoon on D sent up and a local counter attack under Capt Laidlaw which threatened to outflank the enemy caused them to retire.

7.00 Night quiet except for intermittent artillery & M.G. fire.

Line eventually established approximately Q.29b.1.2, Q29.a.8.6. Cross Road Q.23.c, Q.22.b 65-10. Q.22.a.5.1, Q.22.a.2.9. this giving a commanding position on high ground commanding Cross Road Q.23.a.

Communication with Artillery, Right Left Battalions and Battn HQ good.

Communication with Brigade only moderate owing to breaks in the wire. Touch kept through the Artillery.

Casualties
26 other ranks killed,
38 other ranks wounded,
1 wounded and missing *

April 10 Quiet day, Battalion relieved by 20th Bn Middlesex Rgt commencing at 8.30 pm The Corps Division and Brigade Commander send their congratulations on result of the operation of 9th.

* One body since discovered and buried unidentified assumed to be that of missing man 30.4.17

Frederick William Pywell is recorded as dying on 10th April 1917. It is not known if he is the unidentified body, but since his grave is not known, this may be him.

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Chaplin, Aubrey Fletcher. Died 10th Apr 1917

Aubrey Fletcher Chaplin was born on 1st July 1881 at Brooksby Hall, situated between Leicester and Melton Mowbray. His father was London born barrister Ernest Chaplin, son of William Jones Chaplin M.P. His mother was Sophy Jane, daughter of the Rev. Edward Elmhurst, rector of Shawell. They married on 12th May 1864 and moved to Brooksby Hall shortly afterwards.

In 1890 the family sold the Hall and in 1891 were lodging in Hastings. Aubrey was not with the family, perhaps at school.

In July 1895 he became a cadet at HMS Conway in Liverpool. After two years he joined a merchant ship the Hawksdale. Six months later in January 1898 the ship ran aground on the sands between Margate and Clacton. Seventeen year old Aubrey later received a medal for rescuing the ship’s cat. The cat was later cared for by Aubrey’s parents, now living at “The Firs” in Bilton Road, Rugby.

Aubrey served as an apprentice on two more ships and on 6th December 1900 received his certificate to serve as 2nd mate on foreign-going ships. His address was given as 107 Penny Lane, Liverpool. His height was 5ft 6in, and he had a dark complexion and dark hair and eyes.

It is not known if he went sea after this, but in 1901 he was at home with his parents, occupation merchant marine. Ernest Chaplin died in 1902, leaving nearly £20,000. In 1911 Aubrey was living with his widowed mother. The address was “The Beeches” in Clifton upon Dunsmore (although the families address was always given as “The Firs” in Bilton Road. He was engaged in poultry farming.

Aubrey must have been called up at the start of the war. He joined the Northamptonshire Yeomanry as lance corpl. (No. 955) His entry to theatre of war was 6th November 1914. He would have been involved in a lot of the action in France, finally dying on 10th April 1917 at the Battle of Arras.

The Northamptonshire Yeomanry was in action on the opening day of the Battle of Arras and passed trough the infantry at around 5.00 pm. On reaching the crossroads at Fampoux it encountered some opposition, but acquitted itself well by driving off several snipers and capturing six field guns. More importantly though, it secured the road and railway bridges across the Scarpe. This was crucial as it provided a link between the 15th (Scottish) Division south of the river and the 4th Division north of it.
(Visiting the Fallen-Arras South, Peter Hughes, Pen and Sword, 2015)

Lieutenant Aubrey Fletcher Chaplin was the first of four officers from the regiment to be killed in action that month.

He was buried at Beaurains Road Cemetery, Beaurains. Plot A.1

The Rugby Advertiser first reported his death, on 21st Apr, as occurring on 8th April but all other sources give it as 10th.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

Elson, Ernest Thomas. Died 9th Apr 1917

E Elson – or indeed the various possible E Elsons – have provided a considerable problem for this study. There are several possible candidates born in the Rugby area.

Henry Ernest Elson’s birth was registered in Rugby in Q1 1888 – but has no record of service.

Edward John Elson’s birth was registered in Rugby in Q3 1881 – but has no record of service.

Ernest Percy Elson’s birth was registered in Rugby in Q1 1897 – and served in WWI.

Ellson E C is on the BTH war memorial with Elson A W, but E C Ellson[1] can perhaps be discounted as not only does he have a different spelling, but was from Lutterworth and is included on the war memorial there. Elson A W is also on the Rugby Gate – he was Ernest Percy Elson’s brother.

Ernest Thomas ELSON was born in Birmingham in 1885, and served in WWI.

The CWGC site shows four E Elsons and two E Ellsons – none show any sensible connection to Rugby.

Of the Rugby men, only Ernest Percy Elson appears to have served in WWI. He has a surviving Service Record, was wounded, but survived the war. It is suggested that if it is him on the Memorial, then he was added in error.

Another possible candidate may be Ernest Thomas Elson whose family lived in Birmingham, he was killed on 9 April 1917, but has no apparent connection with Rugby.   However, many people came to work in Rugby in the years leading up to the war but did not appear in Directories or impact on any records. He is perhaps the more likely candidate.

To provide due respect to both, their respective service stories are given below.

= = = =

 

Ernest Percy ELSON was born on 24 January 1897, and his birth was registered in Q1 1897 in Rugby.   He was baptised at St Andrew’s church on 14 March 1897 and his parents were John and Elizabeth Elson of 56 Cambridge Street, Rugby.

In 1911 he was 14 years old and he was living at 39 Pinfold Street, Rugby, with his widowed mother who was now 50 and had been married for 30 years and had seven children, with six still living. He was an ‘Errand Boy’ for an ‘engineer’s firm’. He later worked in the cycle trade, for Sam Robbins also at 39 Pinfold Street, New Bilton.

His Service Record survives and shows that he was enlisted aged 17yrs 8 months on 7 August 1914, although an on-line transcription gave 1904, the 190­­.. being amended by writing a 1 over the 0 and adding the 4!! He was found fit on 5 August 1914, as was then 5ft 6ins tall. He had several numbers: 235, 922, and 840609 as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery 4th South Midlands Heavy Brigade RFA.

He was posted as a Gunner on Home Service from 7 August 1914 until 27 March 1915. He then elected to serve outside the United Kingdom on 11 January 1916 and seems to have become a Driver and posted variously (the locations are lost) in UK, until he went to France on 9 June 1916.

From 9 June 1916 until 31 May 1917 he was in France, with various postings on 27 July 1916, and also on 8 and 13 November 1916, 9 and 19 April 1917.

He appears to have been wounded, possibly more than once as he was discharged to base on 9 April 1917, and it seems he later suffered a Gun Shot Wound to his left thigh on 27 May 1917, and was ‘invalided to England’ on 31 May 1917.   He was thus back ‘Home’ on 1 June 1917 and was not discharged until 28 December 1917, and remained on Home Service until 13 April 1918. His various postings or attachments to other units – possibly whilst still hospitalised – were on 10 August 1917, and then later on 1 June 1917.

He seems to have been transferred to the 4th Reserve Brigade on 10 August 1917, still enumerated as a Driver and then mustered as a Gunner on 24 February 1918.   There are various other postings and transfers as a Gunner on 14 April, when he returned to France, and on 20 May 1918. He was in France until 9 April 1919 and was apparently finally discharged on 8 May 1919.

He was awarded the Victory and British medals – but as noted above, survived the war and lived until 19??.   If he was included on the Memorial Gate, it was in error, probably because his family thought the memorial was to all who had served in WWI.

Ernest’s married older brother, Alfred William Elson (1890–1918), who joined the 1st Bn. the Hampshire Regiment is assumed to have died of wounds on 6 April 1918 in France or Flanders and is buried at Etaples. He is also on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

= = = =

Ernest Thomas ELSON was born in Birmingham in 1885. He was the son of Thomas Joseph Elson, an Accountant’s Clerk, and his first wife, Helen. In 1901 aged 16 Ernest had been a Solicitor’s Clerk, but by 1911 aged 26, he had become a ‘French Polisher’, perhaps a more practical skill suited him. He was still living at home at 79 Beach Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham with two of his elder sisters, one who had been blind since the age of 12, and his two much younger half-brothers from his father’s second marriage with Minnie in about 1901.

He had apparently spent six years in Australia, and had tried to join up there, but been rejected twice, so returned to his parents home in Sparkhill, Birmingham. Thus he did not join-up in the first ‘rush to arms’ – although some of his records give an apparently earlier number 4857, which appears to be for a soldier whose records show to have been attested in 1913!   Ernest Thomas Elson’s Service Record also survives and shows that he was attested at Warwick on 8 March 1916 and enlisted on 9 March for the ‘Period of War’. He was 30 years and 11 months old, 5ft 4½in tall and an upholsterer.

He joined up as Private, No.266804 in the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

The 2/7th Battalion of the ‘Warwicks’ had been formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion, and with the 2/6th Battalion became part of 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division. In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and landed in France on 21 May 1916.

Ernest was on home service from 10 February 1916 and on 7 March 1916 was posted to his battalion on ‘home service’ until 12 August 1916. He then went to France to join the rest of the Battalion, no doubt as part of the reinforcements on 13 August 1916 and was ‘in action’ for just under a year until 9 April 1917.

He must have been a ‘good soldier’ as he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The Battalion Diary showed that there was an attack on Fresnoy-le-Petit on the night of 8/9 April 1917, … and after strong opposition reached their objective taking one Prisoner.   Total casualties – 14 killed, 2 missing, 2 died of wounds, 37 wounded’.

The next day the Diary noted, ‘Troops consolidating as far as possible during the day the captured position … 11 bodies were buried under cover of the afternoon before the Battn withdrew’.

The report of the attack written later than the war diary daily entry gave the casualties as 11 other ranks killed, one officer and 41 other ranks wounded. The report noted that “All ranks behaved with great gallantry and determination, holding on to positions under extremely adverse conditions and, by their tenacity and pluck, eventually forced the enemy to withdraw”. CWGC, however, records 21 deaths in the attack on Fresnoy and wrongly attributes all deaths to 9 April, Easter Sunday, although the attack was on the evening of 8 April.[2]

Ernest Elson is recorded as ‘dying from wounds’ and it seems he was first evacuated to an aid post, but did not survive, dying on 9 April 1917. He was then buried at Map Ref: 62C. X. 6. a. 3.4., which was probably adjacent to the aid post and was located about a mile behind the lines on the edge of the St. Quentin wood.

No men from the Royal Warwicks are recorded as dying in France on 8 April, so it seems that all the casualties from the night attack were recorded as dying on 9 April. The CWGC records suggest that 17 soldiers from the 2/7th Warwicks died on the 9 April 1917, which would more that account for the ‘14 killed. 2 missing and 2 died of wounds’. All but five are now remembered on the Theipval Memorial, which suggests that their bodies were either not recovered or not identified – and that at least seven of those buried on 9 April were not found or identified when the others were ‘concentrated’.

The bodies of three of the others were found at Map Ref: 62B M.27. b.8.4. which was in a field on the north-west edge of the ruined village of Fresnoy-le-Petit; the other one at Map Ref: 62B M.27. b.2.5. near the road through the village. These four were, like Ernest, concentrated, i.e. their bodies were found and recovered and removed to their present burial place.

The five soldiers whose bodies were recovered could be identified, because of the named crosses erected when they were first buried by the 2/7th Warwicks after they handed over to the 2/5th Warwicks, and before they went back into dug outs at Marteville that evening.

L/Cpl Elson and his four colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Chapelle British Cemetery, Holnon.

Holnon is a village west of St Quentin and south of the main road to Vermand and Amiens.   The British Cemetery is 5 miles W.N.W. of St. Quentin and is named from a wayside shrine. It was made after the Armistice, by the concentration of graves of 1917-18 from the battlefields West of St. Quentin and from Honlon Communal and French Military Cemeteries. There are now over 600, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 250 are unidentified and special memorials are erected to 17 soldiers, known or believed to be buried here. Other special memorials record the names of four United Kingdom soldiers, buried in Holnon Communal Cemetery, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

Ernest was awarded the Victory and British medals.

 

= = = =

 

Whoever is the ‘correct’ E Elson, he is now remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

 

– – – – – –

 

This article on the two E Elsons 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, January 2017.

[1]     Sergeant Ernest Charles Ellison, Service No:   1659, 12th Bn. Middlesex Regiment, Died: 30 November 1916, aged 24 . Remembered at Wandsworth (Earlsfield) Cemetery on Screen Wall. F.B.18. 9. He was the son of John Ellson, of 6 Baker Street, Lutterworth, Rugby.

 

[2]     http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/183602-royal-warwickshire-regiment-kia/; see also, Birmingham Weekly Post, 5 May 1917.

 

Bradby, Daniel Edward. Died 9th Apr 1917

Daniel Edward Bradby was born in the summer of 1896 in Rugby. The first son of Rugby schoolmaster Henry Christopher Bradby and Violet Alice Bradby (nee Milford). He was baptised at Rugby parish church – St. Andrew’s – on 5 September 1896. Their address being 11 Hillmorton Road.

He had three siblings. Matthew Seymour Bradby, Royal Naval officer (1899 – 11 June 1963), Robert Christopher Bradby, publisher (18 January 1905 – 16 December 1982), Edward Lawrence Bradby, schoolmaster (15 March 1907 – 20 August 1996) and Anne Barbara Bradby (30 July 1912 – 15 October 2001). By April 1899 the family were living at 46 Church Street, Rugby. Before 1911 to after 1918 Henry C Bradby and family lived at ‘School Field’, near the head of Barby Road – a Rugby School property. Edward Henry Bradby – grand-father of Daniel – had been a schoolmaster at the (then) recently formed Haileybury College, Hertfordshire.

Daniel was educated at Rugby Public School. He was in School House, an able cricketer and footballer, he was a member of the Rugby School cricket XX. Also a member of the school’s Officers’ Training Corps. He left a the end of the autumn term, 1914, with a commission in the Army. Rank made up to temporary Lieutenant (from 2nd Lieut.), effective 16 Sept. 1916. Then temporary Captain (from Lieut.), effective 16 Oct. 1916.

As a 20 year old at the date of his death he was a Captain and Battalion Acting Adjutant, leading ‘B’ Company, 9th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade – part of the 42nd Infantry Brigade.

On the 24 March (1917) the Battalion was relieved from the trenches by the 8th Rifle Brigade and moved to Arras for rest. The next move was on 29 March to billets at Fosseux until 4 April when they moved in ‘full marching order’ to the caves at Ronville. Operations against the Germans were then made between the 5th and 11th April. Bradby was killed on the 9th leading part of ‘B’ Company in an attack on position where two machine guns were set. A further attack led by Captain J M Buckley and eight other ranks was successful. Sixty Germans and the two machine guns were captured. Lieut H M Smith and 15 other ranks were wounded. Capt Buckley was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts.

The London Gazette cites
“Temp. Capt. Joseph Michael Buckley, Rif.Bde.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led two companies in the most gallant manner, and was largely responsible for the success of the operations. He gained his objective, capturing sixty prisoners and two machine-guns.”

Bradby was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and 1915 Star. He is buried at the Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines.

You, whose forebodings have been all fulfilled,
You who have heard the bell, seen the boy stand
Holding the flimsy message in his hand
While through your heart the fiery question thrilled
‘Wounded or killed, which, which?’-and it was ‘Killed-‘
And in a kind of trance have read it, numb
But conscious that the dreaded hour was come,
No dream this dream wherewith your blood was chilled-
Oh brothers in calamity, unknown
Companions in the order of black loss,
Lift up your hearts, for your are not alone,
And let our sombre hosts together bring
Their sorrows to the shadow of the Cross
And learn the fellowship of suffering.

Henry Christopher Bradby – April 1918

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

Sinclair, Alfred. Died 9th Apr 1917

Alfred SINCLAIR was born in Crewe in late 1885. His parents were very much older, in 1901 they were living in Prince Arthur Street, Monk’s Coppenhall, Crewe. His father, Robert was 72 and still a working blacksmith; his mother, Harriet née Kettle, his father’s second wife whom he married in 1883, was 61, and Alfred was 15 and an ‘Apprentice Cabinet Maker’.   In 1919 when both his father and mother were dead, there were five step-brothers and two step-sisters still living, both Sinclairs and Kettles, with ages which ranged from 20 to 50.

In 1911 Alfred was in lodgings, a ‘visitor’, at the home of the Broadhurst confectioner family at 69 Bradwall Road, Sandbach. He was then a ‘Fitter’s Assistant [deleted], Fitter at Railway Works’. It seems likely that as Crewe was a ‘Railway Town’ he might well have worked for the L&NWR in Crewe and later transferred to Rugby. Prior to the war it seems that he had lived with one of his step-sisters, Mrs Francis Ann, née Kettle, Morgan of 62 Windsor Street, Rugby, whilst he was working at the London and North Western Railway Locomotive Sheds.[1]

Alfred’s Military Service Records survive, and include his Attestation Papers which show that he joined up early in the war on 1 September 1914, as a Rifleman, No.Y/535, in the 5th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He was aged 29 years and 11 days; 5ft 3½in tall, weighed 142lbs, with fair complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was at Winchester Depot on 2 September 1914 and posted formally to the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, which had been in Winchester since August, on 3 September 1914. As a Depot and Training unit, they moved on mobilisation to Sheerness and remained in that area throughout the war.

However, Alfred was reposted on 30 October to the 14th (Reserve) Battalion. The 14th Bn. was formed at Sheerness in October 1914 for K4 and came under orders of 92nd Brigade of 31st Division then moved to Westcliff-on-Sea and on 10 April 1915 converted into a reserve battalion.   In May 1915 it moved to Belhus Park and in October to Seaford. Before then, on 3 September 1915, Alfred was posted from the Reserve to the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) and went to France to join the 10th Bn..   This is confirmed by his Medal Card.

The 10th (Service) Battalion had been formed at Winchester on 14 September 1914 as part of K2 and came under orders of 59th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division.   They had moved to Blackdown, and then in February 1915 to Witley and in April to Hamilton Camp (Stonehenge). On 21 July 1915 the 10th Battalion landed at Boulogne and the Division concentrated in the Saint-Omer area. They moved to the Fleurbaix area for trench familiarisation. Alfred would have joined them some six weeks after they had arrived in France, probably in time for some of that familiarisation.

During June 1916 the 10th Bn. were involved in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, in the Ypres area responding to a German attack which attempted to take pressure off the British Somme offensive, which in turn was taking pressure off the German offensive against the French at Verdun. The 10th Bn. would later be posted to the Somme and were involved in the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of Guillemont; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette; the Battle of Morval; and the Battle of Le Transloy.

From 1 to 4 July the 10th Bn. were in billets in Poperinge, and later were working near the Prison in Ypres. Whilst there four mules were hit by shelling, but there is no record of casualties among the men. However, whilst with the 10th Bn. at about this date Alfred was wounded[2] and posted to the ‘Depot’ on 5 July 1916. His Military Record shows that he was wounded with a ‘SWLLeg’ – that is a Shell Wound to the Left Leg. He returned to UK for treatment and after his recovery he returned via Southampton to Le Havre, France on 8 December, and was posted to the 2nd Bn. on 9 December and re-posted ‘in the field’ to the 9th Bn. on 9 December 1916.

The French had handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917.

During April 1917, the 9th Bn. was in the Arras area and preparing for the offensive.   They were held in the caves in the old stone quarries under Arras, which had been much enlarged and provided cover.   The extract from the Ox. and Bucks. Diary[3] – they were in the same Brigade – provided information.

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.    Attack on the ‘Harp’.

The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

… The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day: … 9th K.R.R.C.: In Minnow Trench (250 yards). In Perch Trench (300 yards). In Bream Trench (200 yards). In Rudd Trench (150 yards). Total: 900 yards. … 9th K.R.R.C [leaving] … from Christchurch Cave by Exit No.14.E. (G.34.c.90.63). Battalion to be clear of the Cave by 9p.m. on the 8th inst. Route to Assembly Trenches: Rue de Temple – Arras Way and Hunter Street to Old German Front Line – Telegraph Lane and Fish Lane to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight 8th/9th inst.

The 9th K.R.R.C. Diary[4] relates that the 9th Bn. were to attack the ‘String’ of the ‘Harp’. Zero hour was 5.30a.m. and their wave set off at about 7.00a.m. under a ‘creeping barrage’. The objectives were successfully gained by about 9.15a.m. However, 6 Officers and 69 men were killed; 17 men were missing; and 4 officers and 118 men were wounded.

Alfred was one of those ‘Killed in Action’ on that Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. His body was not recovered or later identified and he is remembered on a Panel in Bay 7 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.

Alfred Sinclair’s Military Records show that his Next of Kin was originally his aunt, Maggie Sinclair, 29 John Street, Crewe, but it seems that his step-sister ‘Francis Ann, née Kettle, Morgan’ at 62 Windsor Street, Rugby, took over the role as she received some unknown ‘effects’ on 7 September 1917 – the record is illegible.   She later received his 1915 Star on 4 March 1919; the British War Medal on 24 January 1921 and his Victory Medal on 9 April 1921.

As well as on the Arras Memorial, Alfred is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on Rugby Loco Steam Shed Memorial, which is ‘A bronze tablet bearing the names of the dead, mounted on white marble, superimposed on black slate. On either side of the tablet is hung a framed illuminated roll of honour, containing the names of members of the department who served in the forces during the war.’[5]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Alfred Sinclair 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, December 2016.

[1]       Information from Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Information also from Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917;   He ‘… was wounded in July 1916 and returned to France in the following December.’

[3]    Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[4]       Available to view at www.ancestry.co.uk [subscription site].

[5]       From a report of the unveiling, Rugby Advertiser, 11 March 1921; see also the Rugby Family History Group website at http://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-loco-steam-shed-memorial .

Scotton, Frank. Died 9th Apr 1917

Frank [originally Francis] Scotton, was born in Rugby in about 1891, the eldest son of Theophilus and Matilda Scotton. He had five brothers and sisters. He attended Murray Road School.[1]

In 1911 Frank was 20, unemployed and was still living with his family at 8 Argyle Street, Rugby.   However, the records show that later, until just before the war, Frank was working at British Thompson Houston in Rugby.

At the outbeak of war, he enlisted in Rugby as a Private No.11892, in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks].

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

Frank’s Medal Card shows he went to France a few days later on 26 May 1915 and he would have been engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1915: the Action of Hooge, and probably experienced part of the first flamethrower attack by the Germans; the Second Attack on Bellewaarde and in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

At some stage Frank had been wounded,[2] but was returned to action.

Then in 1917 with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the so called Battle of Arras and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy Ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The 14th Light) Division were part of the VII Corps (under Snow) within the Third Army (under Allenby). The Battalion diary[3] summarised the events in Early 1917 …

The Battalion had its full share in the fighting of the first half of this year, suffering the inevitable heavy casualties, but adding still further to its splendid reputation. It took part in the great British offensive which opened on the 9th April, on a ten-mile front, from the south of Arras to the south of Lens; and it was engaged again in the next great offensive on the 3rd May in the same area, losing no fewer than 185 of all ranks in the former and 300 in the latter.

March 1st-15thThe Battalion had one tour of the trenches, losing 1 man killed and 5 men wounded. On the 15th marched to Sombrin, and went into training for the coming offensive.

March 11th – 31stThis period was devoted to strenuous training, including a rehearsal of an attack on the Harp, the German trench system east of Arras at the junction of the front-line system and the Cojeul Switch.

April 4th – The Battalion moved to Dunedin Caves (Made by quarrying chalk for the building of Arras. For our purposes they were now connected by tunnels and lighted by electricity.) One of the six large caves accommodating some 5,000 men. Three officers’ patrols were sent out at night …

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.

Attack on the Harp. – The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7 a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

  1. The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day:
    5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:
    In Sardine Trench (300 yards). In Roach Trench (260 yards). In Trout Trench (250 yards).
    In Salmon Trench (150 yards) from its right flank (western end) to M.6.C.61.51, where old German cable trench cuts it at right angles. Total: 960 yards.
  1. Units will reach their assembly positions as follows … 5th Oxford and Bucks L.I – from Christchurch Cave by Exit No. 14.F. (G.34.d.02.60). Leading troops to start from Cave at 9p.m., and be clear of the Cave by 10p.m. Route to Assembly Trenches – Rue de Temple – Hatter’s Lane and Halifax to Old German Front Line – Halifax and Arras Way to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by a.m. on 9th inst.

As detailed by O.C. Battalion, 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 2 a.m. on 9th inst.

REPORT OF ATTACK ON THE HARP ON 9th APRIL 1917.

The Battalion left the caves at 9 p.m., and was in position in the Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight. No casualties occurred on the way up. There was practically no shelling of the Assembly Trenches till 5.30 a.m. Between 5.30 and 7.30 a.m. the Assembly Trenches were slightly shelled with whizz-bangs and an occasional 4.2-in. chiefly from direction of Tilloy.   During this time one officer and one man were hit. At 7.34 a.m. the advance began. There was a good deal of crowding on the right owing to the Battalion on our right losing direction. This was rectified as much as possible by the company officers on the spot. During the initial stages of the advance there was practically no enemy artillery fire, but there was a certain amount of machine-gun fire from Tilloy; this, however, was mostly high and caused very few casualties. As soon as the leading line came in view of the Harp three machine-guns opened fire from behind Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp. Lewis-guns and rifle-grenades were immediately turned on to them, and their fire slackened sufficiently to enable the infantry to go forward. On reaching the front line about 50 of the enemy gave themselves up without fighting, and were passed back to the rear. There was a certain amount of resistance from the back of Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp, but the Germans gave themselves up as soon as our men reached them. About 50 Germans were captured here. As soon as both objectives had been reached consolidation was at once commenced as follows :

C Company and a part of D Company from N.7.a.6.6 to N.7.a.5.3.
A Company thence along back line of Telegraph Work to N.7.a.4.1.
Remainder of D Company from N.7.a.2.8 to about N.7.a.2.6.
B Company thence to N.7.a.2.0.

During the consolidation a machine-gun opened fire from about N.7.a.6.9, which caused a certain number of casualties. This gun was knocked out by a rifle-grenade, and was captured in conjunction with a bombing-party of the 9th K.R.R.C. About 20 minutes after reaching the objective the captured position was heavily shelled with 77-mm. and 4.2-in. for about half an hour, and a strong barrage of 5.9 in. put along the bank in M.12.b.l.9 for about one and a half hours. There were no troops advancing over this ground at that time. It only caused a certain amount of inconvenience to communications and very few casualties. About 10 a.m. all hostile artillery fire ceased, and consolidation was completed without further molestation. About this time another machine-gun and its crew were found in a dug-out. They gave themselves up without any trouble. It is impossible to state accurately the number of prisoners taken by us, but it is estimated there were about 100. Three machine-guns were also captured.

Our casualties were roughly 5 officers killed, 7 wounded, and about 180 other ranks. The battlefield was cleared of all casualties by 5 p.m., with the assistance of the prisoners.
H. L. Wood, Lieut.-Colonel, Comdg. 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

April 10th

The following was issued today: “complimentary order.”

“The Commander-in-Chief has personally requested me to convey to all ranks of the 14th (Light) Division his high opinion of the excellent fighting qualities shown by the Division. The commencement of the great offensive of 1917 has been marked by an initial success in which more than 11,000 prisoners and 100 guns have been taken on the first day alone. The Division has taken a prominent part in achieving this success and maintained the reputation gained last year on the Somme, and added to the laurels of the gallant regiments of which it is composed.

  1. Couper, Major-General, Comdg. 14th (Light) Division.  10th April 1917.

Frank Scotton was originally buried in ‘Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, on the South-Western slopes of the hill between Tilloy and Neuville-Vitasse, captured by the 14th Division on the 9 April 1917. The cemetery contained the graves of 147 soldiers from the United Kingdom, almost all of whom belonged to the 14th Division and fell in April 1917.’[4]

The bodies in that cemetery were later moved as part of the ‘concentration’ of smaller cemeteries and the Report notes that a new road was being built through the cemetery. Frank Scotton and many of his colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Tilloy British Cemetery. Frank Scotton was buried in Plot: I. BB. 17.

Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras, on the south side of the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918.

The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and many smaller burial grounds including the Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them.   The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Frank was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

One of Frank’s younger brothers, Ernest, had been killed earlier in the war on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. He was a rifleman in the 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, and is also on the Rugby Memorial Gate [see also Rugby remembers for 1 July 1916[5]].

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frank Scotton 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, December 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[3]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[4]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/566279/SCOTTON,%20F

[5]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/scotton-ernest-died-1st-jul-1916/

Jones, Hubert Joseph. Died 9th Apr 1917

Hubert Joseph Jones was born in Rugby in 1888, and his birth was registered in Q3, 1888 in Rugby. He was the son of Albert (b.c.1849) and Elizabeth Jones (b.c.1854). Albert was an ‘Engineman Ry Driver’ and did not know where he was born! Elizabeth was born in Marton. In 1901 the family lived at 190 Oxford Street, Rugby with three children: Hubert Jones was then 12; Maud Jones was 16; and Beatrice [Elizabeth] Jones was 9.

The family hasn’t been found in the 1911 census. However, the records show that later, until just before the war, Hubert was working in the British Thompson Houston Machine Shop in Rugby.[1]

He enlisted ‘at the commencement of the war’[2] in Rugby[3] as a Private No.13581, in the 7th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks or Oxf & B.L.I.] early in the war. He was then promoted to Corporal in the 3rd Reserve Bn. and was later moved to the 6th Bn. Oxf & B.L.I. and was finally in the 5th Battalion.

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

Huberts’s Medal Card shows he went to France some months later on 21 September 1915 and he would have missed the actions on the Western Front in 1915. However he would have been involved in the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in 1916. Then in 1917 with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the so called Battle of Arras and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The 14th Light) Division were part of the VII Corps (under Snow) within the Third Army (under Allenby). The Battalion diary[4] summarised the events in Early 1917 …

The Battalion had its full share in the fighting of the first half of this year, suffering the inevitable heavy casualties, but adding still further to its splendid reputation. It took part in the great British offensive which opened on the 9th April, on a ten-mile front, from the south of Arras to the south of Lens; and it was engaged again in the next great offensive on the 3rd May in the same area, losing no fewer than 185 of all ranks in the former and 300 in the latter.

March 1st-15thThe Battalion had one tour of the trenches, losing 1 man killed and 5 men wounded. On the 15th marched to Sombrin, and went into training for the coming offensive.

March 11th – 31stThis period was devoted to strenuous training, including a rehearsal of an attack on the Harp, the German trench system east of Arras at the junction of the front-line system and the Cojeul Switch.

April 4th – The Battalion moved to Dunedin Caves (Made by quarrying chalk for the building of Arras. For our purposes they were now connected by tunnels and lighted by electricity.) One of the six large caves accommodating some 5,000 men. Three officers’ patrols were sent out at night …

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.

Attack on the Harp. – The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7 a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

  1. The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day:

5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:
In Sardine Trench (300 yards). In Roach Trench (260 yards). In Trout Trench (250 yards).
In Salmon Trench (150 yards) from its right flank (western end) to M.6.C.61.51, where old
German cable trench cuts it at right angles. Total: 960 yards.

  1. Units will reach their assembly positions as follows … 5th Oxford and Bucks L.I – from Christchurch Cave by Exit No. 14.F. (G.34.d.02.60).

Leading troops to start from Cave at 9p.m., and be clear of the Cave by 10p.m.
Route to Assembly Trenches – Rue de Temple – Hatter’s Lane and Halifax to Old German
Front Line – Halifax and Arras Way to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be
maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by a.m. on 9th inst.

As detailed by O.C. Battalion, 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 2 a.m. on 9th inst.

REPORT OF ATTACK ON THE HARP ON 9th APRIL 1917.

The Battalion left the caves at 9 p.m., and was in position in the Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight. No casualties occurred on the way up. There was practically no shelling of the Assembly Trenches till 5.30 a.m. Between 5.30 and 7.30 a.m. the Assembly Trenches were slightly shelled with whizz-bangs and an occasional 4.2-in. chiefly from direction of Tilloy. During this time one officer and one man were hit. At 7.34 a.m. the advance began. There was a good deal of crowding on the right owing to the Battalion on our right losing direction. This was rectified as much as possible by the company officers on the spot. During the initial stages of the advance there was practically no enemy artillery fire, but there was a certain amount of machine-gun fire from Tilloy; this, however, was mostly high and caused very few casualties. As soon as the leading line came in view of the Harp three machine-guns opened fire from behind Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp. Lewis-guns and rifle-grenades were immediately turned on to them, and their fire slackened sufficiently to enable the infantry to go forward. On reaching the front line about 50 of the enemy gave themselves up without fighting, and were passed back to the rear. There was a certain amount of resistance from the back of Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp, but the Germans gave themselves up as soon as our men reached them. About 50 Germans were captured here. As soon as both objectives had been reached consolidation was at once commenced as follows:

C Company and a part of D Company from N.7.a.6.6 to N.7.a.5.3.
A Company thence along back line of Telegraph Work to N.7.a.4.1.
Remainder of D Company from N.7.a.2.8 to about N.7.a.2.6.
B Company thence to N.7.a.2.0.

During the consolidation a machine-gun opened fire from about N.7.a.6.9, which caused a certain number of casualties. This gun was knocked out by a rifle-grenade, and was captured in conjunction with a bombing-party of the 9th K.R.R.C. About 20 minutes after reaching the objective the captured position was heavily shelled with 77-mm. and 4.2-in. for about half an hour, and a strong barrage of 5.9 in. put along the bank in M.12.b.l.9 for about one and a half hours. There were no troops advancing over this ground at that time. It only caused a certain amount of inconvenience to communications and very few casualties. About 10 a.m. all hostile artillery fire ceased, and consolidation was completed without further molestation. About this time another machine-gun and its crew were found in a dug-out. They gave themselves up without any trouble. It is impossible to state accurately the number of prisoners taken by us, but it is estimated there were about 100. Three machine-guns were also captured. Our casualties were roughly 5 officers killed, 7 wounded, and about 180 other ranks. The battlefield was cleared of all casualties by 5 p.m., with the assistance of the prisoners.
H. L. Wood, Lieut.-Colonel, Comdg. 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

April 10th

The following was issued today: “complimentary order.”

“The Commander-in-Chief has personally requested me to convey to all ranks of the 14th (Light) Division his high opinion of the excellent fighting qualities shown by the Division. The commencement of the great offensive of 1917 has been marked by an initial success in which more than 11,000 prisoners and 100 guns have been taken on the first day alone. The Division has taken a prominent part in achieving this success and maintained the reputation gained last year on the Somme, and added to the laurels of the gallant regiments of which it is composed.

  1. Couper, Major-General, Comdg. 14th (Light) Division.  10th April 1917.

Hubert Jones on was originally buried in the ‘Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, on the South-Western slopes of the hill between Tilloy and Neuville-Vitasse, captured by the 14th Division on the 9 April 1917. The cemetery contained the graves of 147 soldiers from the United Kingdom, almost all of whom belonged to the 14th Division and fell in April 1917.’[5]

The bodies in that cemetery were later moved as part of the ‘concentration’ of smaller cemeteries and one Report noted that a new road was being built through part of the cemetery. Hubert Jones and many of his colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Tilloy British Cemetery, with Hubert being reburied in Plot III. J. 16.

Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras, on the south side of the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918.

The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and many smaller burial grounds including the Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

His ‘widow and sole executer’ Ellen, received £1-19-7d owing to him on 15 June 1917 and she received a further £6-0-0 gratuity on 29 October 1919.[6]

Hubert J Jones was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star.   He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on the BTH War Memorial[7] and the listing of ‘BTH Employees Who Served in the War 1914 – 1918’.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Hubert Joseph Jones 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, December 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[3]       Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[4]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[5]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/566279/SCOTTON,%20F

[6]       Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

[7]       From the list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled, taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921. See: Rugby Family History Group website, http://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial .