Perry, Victor Charles. Died 31st Oct 1917

Victor Charles Perry was the sixth of the ten children of George and Sarah Perry, born in Aston, Birmingham in Sep Quarter 1897. His father was born in Dublin, his parents according to the 1911 census had been married for 27 years, probably in Ireland as their five eldest children were born in Co Waterford. The couple moved to Birmingham around 1893, between the births of their fifth and sixth children.

George seems to have been prosperous. In 1901 he was aged 41, living with his wife, nine children aged 9 months to 15 years, and three servants at Oakfield House, Yardley Road, Aston.   His occupation is given as the “director of a gin distillery and rectifier of British wines”.

In 1911 they are in Stechley, at “Home Lea”, Richmond, a very large house with 14 rooms. George was a self-employed wine merchant, assisted by his sons William and George. Victor was 14, but no occupation is given.

Victor’s connection with Rugby has not as yet been uncovered, but as he is remembered on the Old Laurentians Roll of Honour it seems he attended or had connections with the school after 1911. He did enlist at Warwick according to Soldiers Died in the Great War, and must have done so before September 1915 when his medal card records that he was sent to Egypt. He joined the 1st/1st Warwickshire Yeomanry as Private 2530, but later became Trooper 310565 in the Corps of Hussars.

The Yeomanry fought at Gallipoli as unmounted troops in August 1915, and suffered heavy losses.   Victor maybe joined these forces after this as he arrived in Egypt in September, and the regiment was withdrawn in October. Perhaps he never reached Gallipoli but remained in Egypt.   The Warwickshire Yeomanry was assigned to the Australian Mounted Division in February 1917 where it served as cavalry in Palestine. It was part of the XXI Division, 5th Mounted Brigade of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) led by General Allenby, to regain territory in Egypt (then a British Protectorate) and Palestine and drive back the Ottoman forces with the aim of capturing Jerusalem from the Turks. It saw action in the First and Second Battles of Gaza in the spring of 1917.

The EEF had already decided to invade Ottoman territory before the first battle of Gaza, on the basis of Britain’s three major war objectives: to maintain maritime supremacy in the Mediterranean, preserve the balance of power in Europe, and protect Egypt, India and the Persian Gulf. Despite the EEF’s defeats during the first two battles of Gaza (with about 10,000 casualties), Allenby planned an advance into Palestine and the capture of Jerusalem to secure the region and cut off the Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia from those in the Eastern Mediterranean and on the Arabian Peninsula. The capture of Gaza, which dominated the coastal route from Egypt to Jaffa, was a first step towards these aims.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Beersheba_(1917) – cite_note-27

The Battle of Beersheba, on the edge of the Negev Desert and some 75km from Jerusalem, took place on 31 October 1917, and it was here that Victor lost his life. It was a very intense attack, with much shelling and mortar fire, and close fighting to take the enemy trenches. The mounted divisions which included the Warwickshire Yeomanry suffered artillery and aeroplane attacks, causing a great deal of confusion among the men and horses.

The town was eventually taken by the Desert Mounted Corps.   There is a good account of the battle on wikipaedia.

Victor was buried in the Beersheba War Cemetery, established after the battle. His back pay of £8.10.5d and a War Gratuity of £13.10s were forwarded to his father George.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Advertisements

27th Oct 1917. Ladies’ War Services

LADIES’ WAR SERVICES.
LOCAL HONOURS.

A list has just been published by the War Office of ladies who have been mentioned for valuable services during the War, and following are among the local names :—

NEWNHAM PADDOX HOSPITAL.—Sister Corley (in charge), Lady Clare Feilding and Miss G K Little (nurses).

“ TE HIRA,” RUGBY.—Mrs D Wharton (quartermaster), Miss A W Sargant, Mrs M K Thomas (sister-in-charge).

PAILTON.—Mrs Morris (Commandant).

BILTON HALL.—Mrs E Conington, Miss B Hackforth.

CLARENDON HOSPITAL, KINETON.—Mrs Peirson-Webber (Quartermaster), the Hon Miss Verney (Quartermaster), Mrs A Woodfield (Acting Quatermaster).

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Second-Lieut Arthur J Dukes, of the Welsh Regiment, B.E.F, son of Mr A J Dukes of Rugby has been gazetted First-Lieutenant, dated July 1, 1917.

Lieut H D W Sitwell, R.F.A, son of Mr. Hervey Sitwell, of Leamington Hastings, has been awarded the Military Cross. Lieut Sitwell received his commission on leaving Woolwich Military Academy in September, 1914.

Corpl W R Clark, aged 20, son of Mr R Clark, 35 Manor Road, has been awarded the Military Medal. He was an old Elborow boy, has been in the R.F.A over three years. Previously he was in the Howitzer Battery when mobilised. He was employed in the L & N-W Loco Shop.

Capt P W Nichalls, the well-known polo player, has received his majority in the Yeomanry.

Capt H H Neeves, D.S.O, M.C, has been transferred to another battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers as second in command, with the acting rank of major.

Cadet W H Packwood, H.A.C (Infantry), son of Mr J C Packwood, has been given a commission and posted to the 6th Royal Warwicks.

Mrs Claridge, of 9 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, has received news that her husband, Pte A J Claridge, has been admitted into hospital in France suffering from wounds in the leg. Mrs W Claridge has also heard that her husband, Pte W S Claridge, is in hospital in France suffering from serious illness. They are the only sons of Mr John Claridge, of 53 New Street, New Bilton.

MILITARY MEDAL FOR LONG LAWFORD MAN.

Pte W J Boyce, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiments, who has been twice mentioned in dispatches, has been awarded the Military Medal for distinguished conduct in the field. He is a son of Mr J Boyce, a member of the Long Lawford Parish Council.

THE AVENUE ON THE LONDON ROAD.
PROMPT ACTION BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL.

The decision by the Duke of Buccleuch—announced in the Advertiser last week—to cut down all the elm trees forming Dunchurch Avenue was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Warwickshire County Council at Warwick, with the result that the Council appointed a committee to act with a view to securing the preservation of the trees.

The matter was raised by the County Roads and Bridges Committee, who expressed their regret to learn the Dukes decision ; and Councillor James Johnson, who represents the Dunchurch division, was the first contributor to the discussion upon it.

Mr Johnson said that the news that the avenue was to be destroyed came as quite a shock to the residents of the neighbourhood, who looked upon it as rather an historical feature of the countryside. It would be a great calamity if the trees were cut down, and he wondered if the Council could take some steps that would have the effect of preserving them.

Councillor J J McKinnell supported this on behalf of the town of Rugby. He remarked that Rugby people would be grievously distressed if the avenue were cut down. There would undoubtedly be a great deal of feeling in the town if such a disaster could not be averted.

The following letter written by Councillor F R Davenport, of Dunchurch, on October 23rd, was read :— “ Notice this week-end in the local paper as to the probable fate of the avenue on the London road between Dunchurch and Coventry was, it appears, the first intimation that this neighbourhood received. It has naturally created much concern, and methods of averting such a loss to the county are already being discussed. I learn to-day that the subject has recently been before the Roads Committee, and that the prospect of the owner changing his decision was not very promising. Notwithstanding this, I beg to submit that this matter should, if possible, be re-considered, and that the Council should appoint a small deputation to approach the Duke of Buccleuch with a view to avoiding what would be a serious loss to the district both from a sentimental and ornamental point of view. I venture to think that some compromise, such as the removal of alternate trees, or that, combined with the lopping of others, might meet the case. I cannot think that war necessities call for such wholesale action as is foreshadowed. I hesitate, as a new member, to engage the Council’s time unduly ; but am convinced from the feeling expressed these last few days that the matter is one of no little, importance, and I am told that the residents of that district will readily petition on the subject if of any service.”

Alderman Oliver Bellasis, Chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee, said that he did not think the council was in a position to do anything in the way of buying the trees, or anything of that kind. It was for the local authorities to get up a public subscription, or see what else they could do.

Alderman Hunter : What is everybody’s business is no one’s business, and I think that even if the Council has no legal position in the matter if it might give a lead, which would be of very great value, in the interests of the whole county. I came along that avenue this morning. The autumn tints are just turning the trees, and it was a delightful sight. The avenue is one of the amenities of the whole county, and indeed of the whole country ; and I would do anything myself—subscribe or sit on a committee, or approach to Duke, or anything else—rather than see that avenue lost to the county. I really think that if we can get a representative deputation to see the Duke’s agent, or the Duke himself if necessary, and ask on what conditions and terms—monetary or other—he would allow the avenue to remain, we might, perhaps, do something. In the first instance, I believe, the Duke said the trees were a danger. Well, they have been there over a hundred years, and I have never heard of anyone being killed or injured, so I do not think there is much risk. The trees are on the Highway, and are of great beauty ; and I think that, in the interests of the public, we ought not to sit still and do nothing simply because we may have no legal power to buy.

The Chairman (Mr J S Dugdale, K.C) : What is the reason for the decision ?

Alderman Hunter : I think one reason pleaded is that trees are now wanted as timber for the country. But there is any amount in the country without touching an avenue on a main road (hear, hear). Another reason is that the trees are of great value at the present moment, and I think that may be the real reason. I am not blaming the Duke or any other timber owner for cutting down timber now, because its value is three or four times the pre-war value ; but the question is whether it is really necessary or desirable that such an avenue as this should be cut.

The chairman : If what you say is the reason, if it is a very bad reason for a man like the Duke of Buccleuch.

Alderman Hunter : I feel that, too, although I thought I dared not say it (laughter),
and I am glad to hear you say it. I do not want to say anything that might be prejudicial to the object we have in view, and if we could get the Duke to surrender the trees for some nominal sum—and I believe he would if properly approached—it would be better in the interests of all parties. But the trees would have to be transferred to some authority. I do not know what the position would be if a subscription were raised and the trees were bought. They would still remain on the Duke’s land, and if we did buy them I am wondering who would claim them in 20 years’ time.

A member : You would have title.

Alderman Hunter : If we could secure a title to the trees it would be all right ; but the Duke is lord of the manor of several parishes, and some future duke might claim the trees as lord of the manor. There are difficulties of that sort, and I think we ought to have a good committee and try to prevent the disaster of such trees being cut down. I do hope the Council will try to help our district, if they can.

The Chairman said that he knew the road very well, and thought that nothing more dreadful to the neighbourhood than the materialisation of the Duke’s proposal could be scarcely conceived. He felt sure that if a proper representation were made to the Duke he would not think further carrying of carrying out his decision. It would not be a question of money with a man like the Duke. The council did not know what was the real reason, and who was really the promoter of the scheme ; but the Council ought certainly to take some action in the way that had been suggested.

Other members from widely distant parts of the county joined in the assertion that the cutting down of all these fine trees would be loss not only to the county but to the country.

Names were proposed of members who might form a deputation to the Duke or his representative, and Lord Algernon Percy was suggested. He remarked, however, that he would rather not serve. As a matter of fact, he explained, he had approached the Duke privately on the matter, and it did not appear that he had altered his opinion.

Eventually the Council passed a resolution expressing its regret that the Duke had decided to cut down the trees, and appointed a committee—consisting of the Chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee (alderman Oliver Bellasis), Alderman T Hunter, Councillors J Johnson, F R Davenport, and J J   McKinnell, with power to add to their number—to approach the Duke with a view to securing the preservation of the avenue.

Alderman Evans : I take it that this committee will create an atmosphere that will prevent what is proposed from being done.

Colonel Dibley : That’s right—public opinion.

Details of other business at the meeting are held over.

DEATHS.

 

GULLIVER.—In ever-loving memory of Arthur, youngest son of Mr. & Mrs. T. A. Gulliver, Broadwell, killed in action on October 6th ; aged 21.
“ We loved him—oh ! No tongue can tell
How much we loved him, and how well
His fresh young life could not be saved,
And now he sleeps in a soldier’s grave.”
—From his loving Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

HILL.—In loving memory of our dear son, Pte. ALFRED HILL, who fell in action on October 4, 1917. “ Some day we shall meet again in the Better Land.”—From his sorrowing Parents, Brothers and Sisters.

RUDDLE.—Killed in action in France on September 3rd, Pte. GEORGE RUDDLE, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
We loved you—oh ! So dearly George ;
But God’s ways are always best.
Beside your brother comrades
Sleep on and take your rest.”
—Brother, you are not forgotten, FLO and ARCH.

SEATON.—In loving memory of our dear son, Corpl. W. R. SEATON, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who was killed in action in Flanders on October 12, 1917.
“ Had we been asked, how well we know
We should say, ‘ Oh, spare this blow.’
Yes, with streaming tears, would say,
‘Lord, we love him—let him stay.’
He bravely answer duty’s call,
He gave his life for one and all ;
But the unknown grave is the bitterest blow,
None but his loved ones ever know.”
—From his sorrowing Mother, Father, Sisters, Brothers, and Walter.

SEATON.—In loving memory of my dear husband, Corpl. W. R. SEATON, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who was killed in action in Flanders on October 12, 1917.
“ He heard the call ; he came not back—
He came not back, but in our hearts he lives.
His name may fade ; his deeds will never die.
His bright, pure flame of sacrifice will give
Fresh inspiration as years go by.
While England stands his high renown shall last,
For he has joined the heroes of the past.”
—From his sorrowing Wife and Children.

TRACY.—In loving memory of Lance-Corpl. J. TRACY, 1st K.O.S.B., who was killed on October 4th “ somewhere in France.”—Deeply mourned. From Mabel.

Hardman, William John. Died 27 Oct 1917

William John Hardman was born in Rugby in 1897. He was baptised on 7th Feb 1899 at St Matthews Church, Rugby, together with his sister Nellie, born in late 1898. His parents were James Hardman and Elizabeth née Giles and they were married at St Matthews on 19th Oct 1890.

To start with the family lived at 3 Vine Place, but by 1901, when William was 3, they had moved to Overslade. Father James was a Domestic Groom.

By 1911 James and Elizabeth Hardman had 7 children, William was the fourth son. There was another younger so and two younger daughters. They lived at 36 Union Street Rugby and William was a shop assistant. Before he signed up he was employed by Mr W Elliott, of Dunchurch Road. (Probably at the Mineral Water Factory.)

He joined the 15th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment in May 1916. By this time the family were living at 9 James Street, Rugby.

William John Hardman died of wounds on 27th Oct 1917. The regiment had taken part in the Second Battle of Passchendaele, which started on the 26th.

He was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Lijssenthoek was the location for a number of casualty clearing stations during the First World War. The village was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations.

His elder brother Walter had died in 1915. Another brother, Charles Henry, James and Elizabeth’s oldest son, was to die in 1918.

Mr Hardman would assist in the opening of the Rugby Memorial Gates, in 1921.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Williams, Harry Cecil. Died 26th Oct 1917

Whilst an ‘H C Williams’ is on the Rugby Memorial Gates and it must be presumed that the H C Williams on the BTH Memorial is the same man – there was initially insufficient ‘checkable’ information as to exactly whom he might be.

However, among the many soldiers named H or H C Williams on the Commonwealth War Graves data-base is a Harry Cecil Williams who was born in about 1897 and was the son of Harry and Florence Williams of 1, Market Street, Rugby.   This provided a man with a connection to the town.

Census data seemed to have no obvious records of either of these two Harry Williams in Rugby, and there was no place of birth to make searching easier. However, searching the various pre- and post-war Rugby Directories suggested that a Henry Williams, an ‘Engraver’ came to Rugby in about 1908, and in the 1909 Directory was living at 9 Lawford Road, Rugby.   Before 1911 he had moved to 66 Pennington Street, Rugby, and by 1913 onwards he was listed at 1 Market Street, Rugby, the address that was given on the CWGC site.

However, with no obvious birthplace to search, neither he nor his son appeared to be listed by the 1911 census! Fortunately searching for Harry’s mother, Florence, produced better results!

In 1901, the family had been at 8 Houston Road, Whiston, Lancashire.   Harry senior was a ‘watch engraver’ which also provided a ‘match’ to his occupation in Rugby. The children, Florence E and Harry C were five and four respectively and were both born in Prescott, Lancashire. Harry senior was born in Coventry [b.c.1871] so there was a connection with the area and his wife was from Norwich [b.c.1877]. Harry junior was born on 29 April 1897 and his birth was registered in Q2 1897. He was baptised as Harry Cecil on 7 July 1897 in Prescot, Lancashire, and his father was then also a ‘Watch Engraver’.

A 1911 census entry could now be found. The family had indeed moved to Rugby and were now in a four room house at 66 Pennington Street, Rugby, which fits with one of the earlier Directory entries. Harry senior was now working as an ‘Electric Meter Repairer, Engineer Works’, although the Directories still listed him as an engraver throughout the war – there may not have been staff to check – but he was still living in Market Street until at least 1920. In 1911, Harry Cecil was 13 and still at school, and his elder sister, Florence Eva was 15 and worked in the ‘Electric Insulating Dept., Engineer Works’.

It seems that Harry Junior would go on to work at BTH – and that was probably the ‘engineer works’ where his father and sister were working in 1911.

There are no extant military Service Records for Harry Cecil Williams, except for Medal Cards – but once again there is some confusion.

The Harry Williams with parents in Rugby is listed by the Commonwealth War Graves data-base as being in the 1st Battalion, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) with a Number G/23882.

However, from the Medal Cards, the Harry Cecil Williams who was born in about 1897 with the number G/23882 would appear to be in the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, however there is no indication of his Battalion which makes tracing his movements during the war virtually impossible.

There is also a Harry Williams who was indeed in the 1st Battalion, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) in the CWGC database.   However, he had the number S/173, went to France on 27 December 1914 and died on 12 March 1915 and is buried in Enclosure No.2. IV. A. 46., in the Bedford House Cemetery having been concentrated [moved] from the Asylum Cemetery – both in the Ypres area.

Regimental numbers were not unique, indeed the CWGC database includes five soldiers who had the number 23882, from five different Regiments, as well as a Harry Williams. Soldiers could be renumbered when they were posted to a different Regiment as happened when losses in action had reduced a Battalion to insufficient fighting strength.

In tracing ‘our’ Rugby ‘Harry Williams’, one has to make a decision as to likelihoods. The Army was in contact with his parents, so his date of death was likely to have been correct, and probably also his Regiment. He may have had more than one number – and perhaps that is the least important fact, and is less crucial to finding his story, in the absence of any Service Records. So what is the story of the 1st Bn, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kents)?

The 1st Battalion was in Dublin in August 1914 as part of the 13th Brigade in the 5th Division and on

15 August 1914 they landed at Le Havre. During 1914 they took part in the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat; the Battle of Le Cateau; the Battle of the Marne; the Battle of the Aisne; the Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914 and the First Battle of Ypres. During 1915 they were engaged in the Second Battle of Ypres; and the Capture of Hill 60.

When Harry joined up is unknown, it was probably not until he was 18 in 1915.   When he went to France and joined his battalion is also unknown, but there is no record of him receiving the 1915 Star, so it was probably not until sometime in 1916, by which time he would have received some training in UK, and he would have reached the age of 18 or 19.   In 1916 the Battalion participated in the Attacks on High Wood; the Battle of Guillemont; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette; the Battle of Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy.

During 1917 the Battalion was in the Battle of Vimy; the Attack on La Coulotte; and the Third Battle of the Scarpe, which was part of the Battle of Arras.   They were then involved in several actions of the 3rd Battle of Ypres: the Battle of Polygon Wood; the Battle of Broodseinde; the Battle of Poelcapelle and the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

The 1st Bn. Royal West Kents were involved in an assault on 26 October 1917, on the first day of the Second Battle of Passchendale in the Gheluvelt area. In this southern area, X Corps supported the operation by attacking Gheluvelt which was almost due east of southern Ypres, to secure Tower Hamlets ridge, east of the Bassevillebeek as a diversion.

The Battalion War Diary[1] describes the attack on that first day: After withdrawing slightly to allow battery fire on the enemy positions, the enemy retaliated and shelled the areas behind the previous British positions causing heavy casualties. That day the War Diary noted that 2 officers were killed, 10 wounded and one was missing; and that 14 men were killed; 111 wounded and that 211 were missing. The writer of the reports stated: ‘The large number shown as “missing” are accounted for by the following facts: 1. Heavy shelling which must have buried many men. 2. Condition of ground which made it impossible to search ground properly for dead and wounded. 3. Complete lack of information from two assaulting Coys after zero hour.’ The report was on notebook pages, and written by the Lt. Col., whose papers and diaries had been sent back with a lance-corporal who was now missing presumed killed.

The CWGC records some 117 men of the Royal West Kents who died on that day, 26 October 1917. Some were buried in small burial grounds and later moved [concentrated] to the Hooge Crater Cemetery, but the majority have no known grave and are commemorated at Tyne Cot.

It is assumed that sometime during that costly assault on 26 October 1917, Harry C Williams was deemed to have been ‘Killed in Action’.

He was probably one of the many reported ‘missing’ and his body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 106 to 108 of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot.

Harry Cecil Williams is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’; and on the BTH War Memorial.[2]

Harry was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

His father’s death at 71 was registered in Rugby in Q1 1943.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Harry Cecil WILLIAMS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, 5th Division, Piece 1555/1-2: 1 Battalion, Queen´s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment, July 1917 – April 1919.

[2]       The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.

Collins, Arthur William. Died 26th Oct 1917

Arthur William Collins was born in 1888 in Bittesby, Leicestershire and baptised at Claybrooke on 22nd April, that year.

In 1891 the family was living in Willey where William, an agricultural labourer, had been born. Arthur’s mother, Jane (nee Loyde) came from Church Eaton in Shropshire. They were still there, at Cross in Hand Cottage, in 1901 where William was now a waggoner on a farm. No occupation was given for thirteen year old Arthur.

By 1911 they had moved to Rugby, Arthur William was 23, a cement loader. He lived with his parents at 128 New Street, New Bilton. William was also worked at the Cement Works, as a shunter.

Arthur William Collins enlisted with the 15th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment (private 17406), probably sometime in 1916. In October that year he had returned home as the Rugby Advertiser of 21 October, 1916 reports :

AN ABSENTEE.—At the Rugby Police Court, on Thursday (before T Hunter, Esq), Pte Arthur Collins, of the R.W.R, 45 New Street, New Bilton, pleaded guilty to being an absentee from his Battalion since October 14th, and was remanded to await an escort.

In the report of his death, it states that he was wounded in September 1916, probably during the Somme Offensive. A few months earlier, in early July his younger brother Harry had been killed and it was reported then that the family had three other sons serving.

Arthur William Collins died on 26th October 1917, the first day of the Second Battle of Passchendaele, the final phase of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. His body was never found or identified and his name is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was 29 years of age.

His parents address was given as 45 New Street, New Bilton. He is also listed on the Croop Hill Memorial, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

Wolfe, Sidney George. Died 22nd Oct 1917

Sidney George Wolfe was born in Sun Street on the 14th February, 1890, to George (Railway Engine Cleaner) and Julie Wolfe and was baptised at St. Andrew’s Church on the 28th March. George James Wolfe was born in Shakerstone, Staffordshire, in about 1869, and married Julie Mary (née Wing), who was born the same year, in Stretton-on-Dunsmore, in Rugby in 1889.

In 1891 the family was living at 854 Old Station Square,[1] Rugby and they had a lodger, Walter Wing, an engine cleaner, who was Julie’s younger brother.

In 1901 the family had moved, or had possibly been renumbered, and was living at 809 Old Station Square, Rugby. George J Wolfe was still a Loco Fireman, and that night they were putting up a two year old nephew, Raymond Wing.

Sidney would have entered Elborow School in 1897/98, under Mr Walker, but the first appearance in the records is in August, 1901, at the Sports Day, competing in the 440 yards flat race, the 100 yards flat, and also the fun-event ‘Coach & Horses’ where thrills and spills abounded. He commenced duties as a Pupil Teacher in September, 1906, transferring to the Lower School VI Form. He made his mark on the sports field, playing regularly for the school football team as well as the occasional cricket match, and was appointed ‘Monitor’ in Lent Term 1907; by July he had become Head of Town House. In December ’07, he gave a lecture on “The World on Wheels” to the Literary & Scientific Society, and in 1908 he was awarded the Old Laurentian English Prize. He returned to Elborow towards the end of the Summer Term to complete his Pupil-Teachership, having taken, and passed, his Oxford Senior Locals exams. He then went on to Saltley College, Birmingham, to gain full qualifications for a teaching career.

By 1911 he was in Sheffield, working as an Assistant Teacher in an (unknown) Elementary School, but returned to Elborow as an Assistant in June 1912, contributing to the School Magazine in July that year. He was, at this time, also appointed ‘Lieutenant’ in the new Elborow branch of the Rugby 1st Company Boys’ Brigade. At that year’s Annual Concert he played the double bass in the Orchestra, but also arranged the ‘Physical Culture’ display by the Junior boys. By November, he had been admitted into the Coventry Rugby Club’s team in September as “a forward with a good reputation”, and on 23rd October he was selected to represent the East Midlands against South Africa at Leicester on November 9th.

2nd Lt. S G Wolfe, Apr 1916

On the outbreak of war, Sidney enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He joined up on the 2nd September, and signed his Attestation papers on the 3rd. By 31st October had been promoted to Acting Sergeant, a rank that was confirmed ‘in full’ when he was transferred to the Divisional Cycle Company in January 1915 before embarking for France (Le Havre) in March. After serving in the 48th Divisional Cycle Company for almost a year, Sergeant Wolfe was temporarily attached to the 28th London Regiment in February, 1916, pending a course of instruction at Cadet School, and was then granted a Commission, with promotion to Temporary 2nd Lieutenant on 30th April. Transfer to the 10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers followed.

Unfortunately, Lieutenant Wolfe had only been ‘in post’ a couple of weeks when he was seriously wounded:

“Regret to inform you that 2nd Lieutenant S. G. Wolfe Lancashire Fusiliers admitted Red Cross Hospital Le Torquet May 13th suffering from gunshot wound face severe. Will wire any further news.”
(War Office Telegram)

The Rugby Advertiser for the 27th May 1916 reports:

“WELL-KNOWN FOOTBALLER WOUNDED
Lieut. S G Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, the well-known Rugby, Coventry and Midland Counties footballer, has been wounded at the front. Lieut. Wolfe gained a commission after eighteen months’ service in the trenches, and he had only been with his new unit a week when he was caught by a German machine gun while he was helping to repair barbed wire entanglements in front of the firing line. The nature of his injuries are not known locally, except that he received two wounds in the neck and one in the face. Lieut. Wolfe was successively a pupil, student teacher, and assistant master at Elborow School, and was selected to play for the Midland Counties against the South Africans.”

Back in the UK, he was very ill for many months, but recovered in hospital and convalesced at home under the care of his wife Nellie (nee Smith), whom he had married just after enlisting; he no doubt took great pleasure in watching the antics of his baby son, Roland, who was born in mid-1916. Nevertheless, he returned to France in May, 1917, receiving a promotion to 1st Lieutenant with the Fusiliers.

His unit was in the Ypres Salient, and was involved in the 1st Battle of Passchendaele which began on October 12th. The British had planned to capture the ridges south and east of the city of Ypres, but after a dry spell in September, rains began on 3rd October and conditions became very difficult. The evening of the 21st October was dry until after midnight, when it began to rain and a thick mist rose and it became impossible to see more than a few yards by the time the advance began on the 22nd. Despite a drying wind for several days, the ground in most places was a morass.    

The attack on 22 October 1917 is described in four pages of the Battalion Diary. The Battalion formed up at 2.30am, and zero hour was at 5.35am and they moved forward close to the barrage, which was ragged and too slow and caused several casualties. They encountered heavy machine gun fire, and later in the afternoon had to repulse a German counter attack which was done successfully.

That day, three officers were killed, including Lt. S G Wolfe, and 27 Other Ranks (ORs); one officer and 42 ORs were wounded and missing; and seven officers and 174 ORs were wounded.

‘He was leading a company into action and was unfortunately killed during the advance. He had scarcely advanced more than 75 yards when an enemy shell fell close and he was killed instantaneously.’[2]

The telegram below was sent to Mrs Wolfe on the 29th October:
“Deeply regret to inform you Lt. S. G. Wolfe, Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in Action October twenty second. The Army Council express their sympathy.”

The Rugby Advertiser reported his death in the 30th October issue:
“Followers of Rugby football will regret to learn that Lieut. S G Wolfe, Lancashire Fusiliers, the well-known Midland forward, was killed by a shell while leading his men into action on October 22nd. Lieut. Wolfe, who was about 26 years of age, was a native of Rugby, and when he enlisted in August 1914, was employed as senior assistant at the Elborow School, where he had formerly been a pupil. At first he devoted his attention to Association football, and played for Bablake School and afterwards Rugby Lower School. He subsequently became a convert to the handling code, and it is by his exploits in this game that he will be best remembered by many. Of fine physique, he was an excellent forward, and played for both the Rugby and Coventry XV’s. He also played for the Midlands on several occasions, notably against the South Africans at Leicester, and while he was living in Sheffield he was in the Yorkshire County Trial match. He was for a time a lieutenant in the 1st Rugby Co. Boys’ Brigade, and he joined the Army as a private, being subsequently granted a commission. He had been previously seriously wounded in France.”

Part of an article in The Midland Daily Telegraph, for Wednesday, 31st October 1917, states:
Deceased was an Old Bablake boy, and after staying at Saltley College for a period of scholastic training he became an assistant master at a school in Rugby. He was a well-known footballer in Coventry and district, having played for Coventry F.C. and regularly for the Midland Counties as a forward. A good all-round sportsman, he was universally popular.
In a letter addressed to Mrs. Wolfe, and just received from a comrade, it is stated that he deceased officer was leading a company into action, and was unfortunately killed during the advance. He had scarcely advanced more than 75 yards when an enemy shell fell just close, and deceased was killed instantaneously, whilst his servant was badly wounded. “it came as a terrible blow to me,” the writer of the letter states, “and I cannot realise that I shall not see him again. He will be a great loss to the battalion, and he will be missed by all who knew him. As a soldier I cannot speak too highly of him, and as a man I had the greatest affection for him. He was always cheery, whether in the line or out, a great sportsman, and always thoughtful for his men. I should like to offer you my deepest sympathy in the great loss you have sustained.”

His body was either not recovered or not identified. Sidney is remembered on one of the Panels 54 to 60 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot.

As well as at Tyne Cot, Sidney is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby. He is also remembered on the St Peter’s College, Coventry Memorial Tablet,[3] and also on the Bablake School Memorial in Coundon Road, Coventry.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and also the 1915 Star. His Medal Card and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, confirm that he was ‘Killed in Action’ on 22 October 1917. His widow is recorded as Mrs S G Wolfe, who at that later date, lived at 55 Berkeley Road Earlsdon, Coventry.

His formal address when probate was awarded on 15 January 1918 at Birmingham was 157 Westwood Road, Coventry and probate awarded to his widow, Nellie Maud Wolfe, was in the sum of £101-10-6d.

The birth of his daughter (Iris) was recorded in the same column of the newspaper[4] as notice of his death.

BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, AND DEATHS.
BIRTH. Wolfe. – On November 1st, at Earlsdon to the wife of the late Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, a daughter.
DEATHS. Wolfe. – Killed in Action. Oct. 22nd, Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, aged 27 years.   Leaves a wife and two children.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

——————————–

This article on Sidney George WOLFE was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © Anne Rogers, John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2017.

Information about Elborow School Career is © Howard Trillo

[1]       Industrial Housing in Rugby – L.N.W.R. Railways – To operate and maintain a railway requires people to work at places spread all along the line, often far from existing settlements. At places where stations are built accommodation for many staff are needed from opening day. People had to live within walking distance of work, and it was useful to the railway to be able to get hold of staff if something unexpected happened. By providing houses for their staff, the railway solved all these problems and the London and Birmingham Railway built several hundred houses along the line for the opening. The houses were each given a number and the earliest in Rugby were in the 700’s. They were all near the new station in Newbold Road, on the west side both north and south of the railway.

[2]         https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/4842770.

[3]       Following the closure of the college, the two WWI memorial tablets have been moved from St Peter’s College to St Saviour’s Church, St Saviour’s Road, Saltley, Birmingham B8 1HW.

[4]       Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 2 November 1917.

Lane, Bertram Charles. Died 13th Oct 1917

An Apology – this article was originally scheduled to be posted on 9 November 2017, but the subsequent discovery of an article in the Rugby Advertiser published today, showed that Bertram Lane died somewhat earlier than originally believed. That article also provided some further information which allowed the biography to be updated before its tardy publication.

= = = =

Bertram Charles LANE was born in Watford in 1892/3, near Rugby, but in Northamptonshire. His birth was registered in Q1, 1893 in Daventry [3b, 113].   He was baptised on 26 February 1893 in Watford. His father was a ‘wagoner’.

He was the third of three sons of William and Fanny, née Collett, Lane, and he also had two younger sisters. His parents were both from Kingham in Oxfordshire and had married in mid 1888, and had moved to Watford before 1889 when their first son was born.   In 1901 they were living in Home Lane, Watford and William was a ‘Timber wagoner’

Bertram’s father died before 1911, when Bertram was with his widowed mother and the family and they were living at 76 Bath Street, Rugby. He was then working as a ‘clerk’ for an ‘electrical engineering company’, probably BTH, as just before the war he was working in the BTH Drawing Office.

A later memorial notice suggested that he joined up ‘… at the beginning of the War, …’[1] This was not clear in the Service Records that survive for Bertram. He enlisted as a Rifleman, No.Z2331 in the Rifle Brigade.

It is not known into which Battalion he was initially posted.   However, the date of 30 April 1915 on one Medal Card, for his Silver War Badge, was probably his last date on ‘Home Service’, as he went to France on 1 May 1915. Three Battalions of the Rifle Brigade all went to France in May, and it seems likely that Bertram was in either the 7th, 8th or 9th Service Battalion which were in the 41st, 41st and 42nd Brigades respectively and all in the 14th (Light) Division.

The 7th, 8th and 9th Service Battalions were all formed in Winchester on 21 August 1914, went to Aldershot, moved elsewhere for training and then back to Winchester. In May 1915 they moved to France and landed at Boulogne. At some date Bertram was promoted to Lance-Corporal.   In 1915 the three Battalions were all involved when the Germans made their gas attack at Hooge, and the 9th Bn. also took part in the Battle of Loos. In 1916, the 7th and 9th Bns., took part in the Battle of Delville Wood (15 July – 3 September 1916), and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 – 22 September 1916), both during the Battle of the Somme – the 8th Bn. was also involved at Flers-Courcelette.

A later article records ‘…On September 11, 1916, he was severely wounded in the head by shrapnel, and after spending a considerable time in a base hospital in France and King George’s Hospital, London, …’.[2]   This suggests that he was wounded during the constant ongoing actions and shelling on the Somme, between the dates of the above two main battles.

He survived, and as confirmed above, would have been evacuated through the casualty clearing system, to a French Base Hospital and then to UK. On 25 April 1917 he was discharged under ‘King’s Regulations Para 392 (xvi) – No longer physically fit for service – Wounds’.   A note on his Medal Card refers to ‘see B E Lane for SWB’ – that was the Silver War Badge which was awarded to injured soldiers who could no longer serve and this avoided the harassment that was received by those men out of uniform that the public thought should be joining up and serving their country.

Bertram Charles Lane was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. His War Medal had to be returned for correction as it had been incorrectly stamped. As mentioned, he also held the Silver War Badge as he had been wounded.

Bertram had ‘… enjoyed fairly good health until a fortnight before his death, …’ which occurred on Saturday, 13 October 1917, at St Cross Hospital, Rugby,[3] his death being registered in Q4 1917 [Rugby, 6d, 681]. He was 24, ‘the son of Mrs. Lane, Eardaley House, Bath Street’. He was buried in grave ref: J552 at Clifton Road Cemetery.[4] As he had died later and in UK, it seems that his grave was not marked nor his death listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, although he probably should have been on the CWGC lists as he was reported to have ‘died as a result of wounds received in action’ and he should perhaps still be included.[5]

Bertram Charles Lane was also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’; and on the BTH War Memorial.[6]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Bertram Charles Lane was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[4]       From a list of names on the RFHG CD of Monumental Inscriptions and the RFHG website.

[5]         http://www.infromthecold.org/war_grave_criteria.asp

[6]       The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.