31st Aug 1918. The Dunchurch Avenue: Proposed Memorial to the 29th Division.

THE DUNCHURCH AVENUE : PROPOSED MEMORIAL TO THE 29th DIVISION.
To the Editor of the Advertiser.

SIR,—It needs, I am sure, no apology on my part for a small intrusion on your space on behalf of the Warwickshire County Memorial to the 29th Division. Indeed, if I am not misinformed, the idea of such a memorial originated with you—hence, you will, I think, readily allow me to remind your numerous readers that that idea has taken shape, and that a large and representative County Committee has the matter in hand. Rugby will never forget the early months of 1915, when so many soldiers of regiments belonging to that Division were billeted here, nor will anyone who had the good fortune to be there ever forget the marvellously inspiring sight of the Division as it marched past the King along the famous Dunchurch—Coventry Avenue. That was on March 12th, and the Division embarked for the Dardanelles not many days after. What happened there we know, alas ! too well ; but what we also know and recall with the greatest pride is the magnificent heroism there displayed by the various regiments of the Division, to whose immortal memory the county hopes to raise a worthy memorial.

It is to consist, firstly, of the re-planting of some three miles of the Avenue, necessitated by the removal of old and dangerous trees ; and, secondly, of a granite monolith placed, where the Fosse Way crosses the Avenue, on the exact spot where the King stood when reviewing the Division. The Chairman of the Committee, Captain Oliver Bellasis, authorises me to receive and forward any donations that may be sent me towards the cost of the memorial, and I trust that Rugby will take a part, commensurate with its standing in the county and with its remembrance of the Division, in the raising of the £5,000 required.—I am, yours, &c,

A E DONKIN.

P.S.—May I add that next Wednesday, at 8 p.m, a concert will be given in the Speech Room—admission free—when Mr Basil Johnson’s many Rugby friends will have an opportunity of hearing and seeing him again. I hope that many friends of the men of the 29th Division will come, and will contribute to the collection that will be made in the room in aid of the memorial.

The first public intimation that the Duke of Buccleuch contemplated the removal of the trees was given in an article in the Rugby Advertiser of October 20, 1917, and we then suggested that the Avenue should be acquired by the county as a memorial to the 29th Division, and also the Warwickshire men from this side of the county who have fallen in the War. The following is an extract from that article :—

“ A rumour has been current that the Duke of Buccleuch proposes to convert the trees into timber, which is much in demand just now ; but we understand the proposal has been submitted to the Warwickshire County Council, who have, therefore, been afforded an opportunity of doing something, if they think well, to acquire the trees and maintain the Avenue in future.

“ If the question whether the sentimental aspect should prevail over the utilitarian were referred to public opinion, the answer would, we feel sure, undoubtedly be ‘ Woodman, spare the tree ’; and we quite believe the County Council would be influentially backed up—and helped financially if necessary—in any negotiations they might enter into to give effect to that wish.

“ Since the outbreak of the present War the historic fame of the Avenue has been accentuated by an event to which publicity was forbidden at the time, but which may now be safely recorded. We refer to the review by the King of the splendid troops, comprising the ‘ Immortal 29th Division,’ on the eve of their departure for Gallipoli, after being quartered in Rugby and other Warwickshire towns for two months. These brave men were formed up along the road, and after his arrival at Dunchurch Station his Majesty rode down the Avenue, inspecting them as he went along. At the point where the road is crossed by the Old Roman Fosse Road, and on the three-cornered piece of turf formed by the intersection of the roads, the King paused and reviewed with the deepest interest and pride as they marched past, the troops who were destined to win, by their extraordinary valour, the appellation ‘ Immortal,’ which the country unanimously attached to the Division.

“ After the War the desire to establish memorials will be prevalent, and the maintenance of the Avenue on the London Road would, we think, constitute an appropriate tribute not only to the 29th Division, but also to the Warwickshire men from this side of the county who have given their lives for their country.

“ It the County Council cannot legally expend money in acquiring and maintaining the Avenue, we have no doubt a sufficient fund could be raised in the county for the purpose.”

The Duke’s proposal came before the Warwickshire County Council in the following week on a very brief report by the Roads and Bridges Committee, Councillor F R Davenport (by letter), and Councillors J Johnson (Thurlaston), J J McKinnell, and Alderman Hunter personally, urged the Council to take up the matter, and these gentlemen, with Alderman Oliver Bellasis, were appointed a committee to approach the Duke. The negotiations have been successful, and we understand measurements have already been made on the site whereon it is proposed to erect the monolith mentioned in Mr Donkin’s letter.

Perhaps the most practical way in which the Rugby Advertiser can commend the project to the public is to start the subscription list on this side of the county with a donation of five guineas.—ED. R.A.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Lance-Corpl H Tranter, 9th R.W.R, son of Mrs H Tranter, 11 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, has been awarded the Military Medal. He is at present serving in Mesopotamia.

Gunner H J Allen, M.G.C, 57 Oxford Street, a member of the Rugby School and Steam Shed Bands, writes that he has had a breakdown in health, and is in hospital in France, where, by a strange coincidence, one of the physicians is Dr Beddow, of Rugby.

Corpl G B Stevenson, of the Tank Corps, eldest son of Mr & Mrs A Stevenson, “ Ivanhoe,” Manor Rood, Rugby, has been wounded in France, and brought over to St Leonard’s-on-Sea Hospital.

Pte A B Ingram, R.W.R, son of Mrs J E Ingram, 4 Bridle Road, New Bilton, is in a hospital at Calais suffering from the effects of mustard gas.

Sergt Farrier Bush, son of Mrs Bush, of Lower Street, Hillmorton, has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry in the field.

MAJOR CLAUDE SEABROKES DISTINCTION.

The “ London Gazette ” announces that the King has conferred the Territorial decoration upon Lieut Col F M Chatterley and Major Claude Seabroke, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, for long, service with the Volunteer and Territorial Forces.

EASENHALL.
HOME FROM GERMANY.—Mr & Mrs F Varney, of Easenhall, received a pleasant surprise last week in the form of a message to the effect that their son Frank, of the Coldstream Guards, who was severely wounded and captured by the Germans on April 12th, had been repatriated, and this was quickly followed by the gallant fellow himself. Like many of the returned prisoners, Pte Varney is very reticent concerning his experiences in Germany, but there was a wealth of meaning in the hearty manner in which, addressing a representative of the Rugby Advertiser, he said: “It seems like being in heaven to be back home again, but I can hardly realise that it is home yet. ‘ Germany,’ he added, ‘ is in a terrible state, and the hardships experienced by the people are much greater than I had credited before I arrived there. The common people are unable to obtain leather shoes; and in place of tea, coffee, and cocoa they drink a substitute made of ground acorns. Their love for their country is intense, however, and were it not for this fact they would never hold out. The starved condition of the people,’ he concluded, ‘may be gauged from the fact that they will gladly pay 10s for a small tin of bully beef if any of the prisoners has one to spare.’” Shortly before he was captured Pte Varney was shot through the thigh, and this has caused partial paralysis of the foot. After a couple of months’ holiday at home he will be admitted to hospital for treatment.

BUBBENHALL
MR & MRS ELLIOTT received notice last week that their youngest son, Percy George Elliott, was killed in France about July 9th. This is the second son that Mr & Mrs Elliott have lost in the War, and a third son is still in France. Percy joined up less than a year ago, and would have been 19 one day last week. Much sympathy is felt for the parents in this second bereavement. At the time of his death Elliott was in the London Regiment.

LONG ITCHINGTON.
ON FURLOUGH.—The latest soldier visitants are Sapper Geo Gregson (R.E.) and Pte Alex Askew (N.Z. Medical Corps). The latter is the youngest of five brothers, the stalwart sons of Mrs Mark Askew, sen. He emigrated to New Zealand some years ago, and volunteered for service on the outbreak of the War. The five brothers have recently met for the first time for some twelve years beneath their widowed mother’s roof. The four elder brothers are Messrs Mark and Alfred Askew, both engaged on Government work ; Lance-Corpl John Askew (Grenadier Guards) and Pte Frank Askew (Welsh Regiment). The two latter are twins, and last November John was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, and Frank was severely wounded, and has since received his discharge.

THE SABIN BROTHERS.—Mr & Mrs Fred Sabin have just received news of their two soldier sons. Pte Edward Sabin (R.W.R) is suffering from gas poisoning, and is in hospital in France. Corpl H J Sabin (R.W.R) is with the Expeditionary Force in Mesopotamia.

WOLSTON.
In the report of the meeting on the Rugby Food Control Committee, which appeared in our last issue, it was stated that Mr Appleby reported that a Wolston dairyman, who is relinquishing business owing to a portion of his land being required by the landlord, supplied 17 houses in Wolston with milk. The figures as given by Mr Appleby however, should have been 77.

DEATH OF CAPT D W ANDERSON, M.M.—The sad news has just arrived at Wolston that Capt D W Anderson was killed in action in France on August 8th. Before war broke out he practised as a dentist at Coventry. The call of his country was too strong for him, and he enlisted as a private in the Hussara in September, 1914, but was soon transferred to the Black Watch. Here his energy and pluck were soon rewarded, and he was made a lieutenant. After a short period he resigned his commission, and joined the London Artists Rifles. His sterling worth was soon again acknowledged, and he received a commission in the 6th London Brigade. He then went out to France, and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field, and at the same time promoted to a captaincy. Soon after this he obtained a bar to his Military Medal for conspicuous bravery. He was then given six months leave, but after spending four months was recalled just before the present great battle. Capt Anderson, before entering the Army, resided at Wolston for a number of years with the late Capt T Powell. He was well known and respected, and was always ready to assist in any good cause. He was an ardent supporter of the Wolston Horticultural Society, to which he gave a number of prizes for competition ; a vice-president of the Cricket Club, and a member of the Unionist Association ; and those institutions will miss his valuable help. Much sympathy is felt for Miss Eva Poxon, daughter of Mr John Poxon, to whom deceased was engaged.

MAGISTERIAL.—At the Police Court on Friday in last week—before Mr A E Donkin—Thomas James Gandy, collier, no fixed abode, was charged with failing to report under the Military Service Act.—He pleaded not guilty.—P.C Bryan deposed that on the previous evening he met defendant in Warwick Street, and asked him to produce his registration card and Army discharge papers. Defendant replied that he had never been registered, nor had he been in the Army. He further stated that he would not have to go unto the Army because he had only recently come from Ireland. Witness took him into custody, and on the way to the Police Station he produced a registration card, which had been altered in several places. Defendant informed him that at the time that he was registered he was a miner, but the card produced was issued to a stable worker.—Defendant stated that he was willing to enlist, and that he tried to do so at Northampton Barracks on Wednesday, but owing to his age—he was 46—they would not accept him, but told him to wait until the first week in September.—Remanded to await an escort.

ABSENTEE.—At Rugby Police Court, on Thursday, Sapper Ernest Collins pleaded guilty to being an absentee from the Royal Engineers since August 8th. The magistrate, Mr A E Donkin, remanded him to await an escort.

NEW BILTON.
MUNITION WORKER SUMMONED.— At Matlock Police Court, on Wednesday, William H Tattersall, munition worker, 21 Bull Street, New Bilton, was fined 10s for motor cycling beyond the area of his munition holiday permit, which allows motoring to holiday resorts and back, but not during a stay.

A DISCLAIMER,
We are asked to state that Mrs. E D Miller, of Spring Hill, Rugby, has no connection with Mrs Miller, of the Warwickshire Fruit and Vegetable Collecting Society who was fined last week at Coventry for selling jam at more than the controlled price.

THE HORTICULTURAL SHOW & SPORTS AT CLIFTON MANOR.
The programme for this fete, which takes place at Clifton Manor to-day (Saturday), contains no less than 18 athletic and competitive events, including fire brigade contests and a horse race under conditions that cannot fail to cause a good deal of fun. The entries are numerous for all of them. The fruit and vegetable show, maypole dancing on the lawn, a drawing room concert, auction sale of gifts (including pigs and sheep), and an association football match and exposition of batting in the nets by J Arnold, the Worcestershire cricketer, and a number of the usual competitions make up an array of attractions rarely seen at a local fete.

DUNCHURCH.
BLACKBERRY PICKING.—Nearly 100 people booked from Rugby to Dunchurch Station for blackberry picking in the vicinity. A considerable number also cycled or walked out to the London Road.

AVON MILL PIG KEEPERS’ ASSOCIATION.

This association—the membership of which is confined to tenants of the Avon Mill allotments—was formed last spring ; and although at one time the prospects were far from being rosy, it has now turned the tide, and is apparently on a sound footing. The number of members is limited to 40, and the original subscription was £2, in addition to which a further call for £1 has been met. Some sheds on the allotment were converted into styes, and these served their purpose admirably, the only disadvantage being the lack of open-air runs. As a consequence, the pigs—24 in number—did not make as much progress as was hoped for and expected. This was particularly true of a batch of Tamworth pigs, which were bought at rather a high price soon after the association was formed. For a time the “ doing ” of these pigs was very unsatisfactory, and it was feared that they would result in a heavy financial loss to the association. However, expert advice was taken in time, and among other things an open-air run was recommended. This was at once provided, and as a result the condition of the pigs, which are insured, is steadily improving.

So far the all-important food question—which is a great handicap to the private pig-keeper—has not caused the association much anxiety. The committee employs a man to feed and tend the pigs, and they have been able to obtain a fair quantity of meal, and many of the members have assisted by contributions of garden and household refuse.

It is intended to fatten up the pigs for bacon, and to divide the meat among the members.

BACON.—The distribution of bacon for sale at 1s 8d per lb is proceeding. A considerable proportion of the bacon held by the Government is of this character, and it is being distributed to the wholesalers and retailers proportionately with bacon selling for more money. It is hoped that the public will assist by consuming this bacon, and will understand that every retailer must take his proportion, and cannot give his customers more than their share of the best cuts. The reduction in price due to the large stock held by the Government, and not to the quality of the bacon.

SAVE ALL FRUIT STONES AND NUT SHELLS.

It is not generally known that there is much virtue in fruit stones and nut shells, which are usually thrown away. The necessities of the present War have led to the discovery that charcoal made from these materials is of great value for use in the anti-gas masks now being worn by our soldiers, and that it affords greater protection against poison gas than any other known substance.

Therefore, when you consume stone fruit, whether cooked, preserved, or raw, carefully preserve every stone, and also nut shells of all kinds, no matter how small the quantity may be. There is urgent need of them, and the National Salvage Council want all they can get.

Mrs J F Dukes, 14 Sheep Street, Rugby, has kindly undertaken to receive them from people in this locality in large or small quantities, and send them on to headquarters. It will facilitate the handling if the stones are kept as dry and clean as possibly.

Anyone collecting in the villages around may also send their parcels to Mrs. Dukes, who will be pleased to include them with her own consignments.

MINISTRY OF FOOD.
THE SMALL APPLE (TEMPORARY PRICES) ORDER, 1918.

ON and AFTER the 19th August, 1918, no Apples capable of passing through a 2-inch ring other than the varieties included in the attached Schedule may be sold by a grower or other person, except to—
(a) A Licensed Jam Manufacturer, or
(b) A recognised Fruit Salesman who has given to the Grower a dated and written undertaking, signed by the salesman, that he will re-sell such fruit only to a Licensed Jam Manufacturer.

Particulars as to prices chargeable and all other information may be obtained at any Local Food Office.

Schedule referred to—
Beauty of Bath, Benoni, Nen’s Red, Cox’s Orange Pippins, Devonshire Quarrendon, Duchess’s Favourite, Duchess of Odenburgh, Feltham Beauty, Gladstone, Hunt’s Early, Irish Peach, James Grieve, Junesting (Red and White), King of the Pippins, Lady Sudeley, Langley Pippin, Miller’s Seedling, Worcester Pearmain, and Yellow Ingestree.

Infringements of this Order are summary offences against the Defence of the Realm Regulations.
J. MARSDEN SMEDLEY,
Divisional Commissioner for Food (North Midland Division).
22nd August, 1918.

IN MEMORIAM.

BADGER.—In ever-loving memory of our dear son, ARTHUR FRANCIS BADGER, Machine Gun Company, who died of wounds received in action in France on August 27, 1917.
“ Sleep on, dear son, in a foreign grave ;
Your life for your country you nobly gave,
No friends stood near to say ‘ Good-bye,’
Safe in God’s Keeping now you lie,”
—Never forgotten by his Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

FLETCHER.—In loving memory of our dear son, Pte. G. FLETCHER, Napton, who was killed in France on August 27, 1917 ; aged 19 years.
“ A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother.
He bravely answered duty’s call,
Gave his young life for one and all. ”
—Sadly missed by his loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

FLETCHER.—In loving memory of our dear nephew, Pte. G. FLETCHER, who was killed in France on August 27, 1917.
“ Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Tears in silence often flow,
Thinking of the day we lost you
Just a year ago.
Too far away thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee,”
—From his loving Aunt and Uncle and dear Cousin Will in Italy.

LINNETT.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. FREDERICK LINNETT, who was killed in France on September 3, 1916 ; aged 26 years.
“ Two years have gone, and still we miss him ;
From our memory he’ll never fade,
His life he gave for King and country ;
In heaven we hope to meet again.
We often sit and think of him, and tenderly breathe his name ;
Nothing have we left of him
But his photo in a frame,”
—Never forgotten by his loving Mother and Father, Sister and Brothers.

MASON.—In dearest, proudest memory of my husband, Sergt. ARTHUR MASON, Oxford and Bucks L.I., killed in action on August 31, 1916. Buried at Carnoy, France.— “ The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

MURDEN.—In proud and loving memory of Pte. ROBERT EDWARD HENRY MURDEN, D.S.O., killed in action on September 3rd, 1916.—Not forgotten by his loving Wife.

WARD.—In loving memory of our dear son, THOMAS WARD, who was killed in action on August 6, 1915, at the Dardanelles—of 170 Lawford Road, New Bilton.
“ Sweet is the memory he left behind
Of a life that was manly, clean and kind.
His fight is fought, ho has gained his rest ;
We remember dear Tom as one of the best.”
Also WILLIAM WARD, who died on August 19th, 1917.
“ Not dead to us who love him still,
Not lost, but gone before.
He lives with us in memory still,
And will for evermore.”
—Ever remembered by their Mother, Father, Brother and Sisters.

WHITTAKER.—In loving memory of Lance-Corpl. J. T. WHITTAKER (TOM), who died of wounds on August 23rd, 1916:
“ in a far and distant churchyard,
Where the trees their branches wave.
Lies a loving soldier brother
In a British soldier’s grave.”
—From his Sisters and Brothers, Kitty, Annie, Aggie, Will, Frank, Charlie, Jim, and Stanley.

 

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Brooks, John James. Died 30 Aug 1918

Whilst listed on the Rugby Memorial Gates as J. J. Brooke, it should be noted that the family surname is spelt variously in official documents as either Brooks or Brookes.  Where it can be established that it was written by a family member, e.g. in the 1911 census return, ‘Brooks’ was generally used.

John James Brooks was born on 22 April 1896 in New Bilton, Rugby, the eldest of seven children of John Brooks (b.1868 in Swinford, Leicestershire), labourer, and Sarah Ann, née Webb, Brooks (b.1872 in Long Lawford, Warwickshire).  He was baptised at St Oswald’s Church and the 1901 and 1911 census returns show John James living with his parents at 41 Lawford Road, New Bilton.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for John James, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby,[1] and his Medal Card shows only that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with the Regimental Number: 28542.  There is no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-15 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, but this may have been some time after he had joined up.

However, the WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[2] do show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in three separate Battalions (Bns.): the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R.; the 11th Bn. R.War.R.; and finally the 1st Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions is unknown, however inspection of the three Battalions’ War Diaries can be of some assistance.

He was certainly in action on 1 August 1916.  The Rugby Advertiser reported,
Mr J Brooks, 41 Lawford Road, New Bilton, has received an intimation that his son, Pte J Brooks, of the Royal Warwicks, was wounded on the 1st of August.  He was hit in the leg by shrapnel, and sustained a fractured bone.   He is at present in hospital at Nottingham, where he is progressing favourably.[3]

His first Battalion, the 2nd/7th R.War.R. was probably where he received his training.  Whilst formed at Coventry, in October 1914, they went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916.  By examining the Regimental Diary it seems that on 1 August 1916, when John James was wounded, the 2nd/7th R.War.R. were at La Gorgue, some 20 miles south of Poperinge, and well away from the Somme which was then the focus of action.  It was reported to be ‘very quiet’, and this suggests that he was not in this Battalion on that date.

It seems likely that by 1916, he had already joined the 11th Battalion which was formed at Warwick in October 1914, and was attached to 24th Division on the South Downs.  They then joined 112th Brigade, 37th Division in April 1915 on Salisbury Plain and went to France on 30 July 1915.  The Battalion War Diary entry for 1 August 1916, stated that they were taking part in the Battle of the Somme, and had been training, near Becourt Wood, when between 10 and 11am …

Hostile H.E. shells from a heavy gun dropped & exploded in quick succession among the Companies in close bivouacs, involving many casualties before the Batt. Could take cover in the adjoining trenches allotted to the Companies.  3 Officers … were wounded, O.R.s Killed 10, Wounded 37, Missing 2, Total 52.  Previous to this date no serious shelling of the wood had taken place.  The Batt was at once moved about 300yds outside the eastern edge of the wood, where a line of good deep trenches exist.’

This would seem to be a stronger possibility for his Battalion.

The other alternative, the 1st Battalion was quiet on 1 August 1916, ‘… Yser Canal Bank … Beautiful day … Dark night, very quiet’.  This would therefore also support John James being with the 11th Bn. on 1 August 1916 when he was wounded by the shelling which was recorded in the 11th Bn. War Diary.

After being wounded, John James Brooks was evacuated to UK, and hospital at Nottingham.  It seems that when he recovered he returned to France and probably then, or perhaps later, was posted to the 1st Battalion.

On 4 August 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment had been stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division, and on 22 August 1914 they mobilised for war and landed in France.  The Division took place in many actions on the Western Front from 1914 to 1916, when they fought in the Battle of Albert, and the Battle of Le Transloy.  If John James had recovered from his wounds and joined the 1st Bn. during 1917, he would have taken part in the First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde, the Battle of Poelcapelle, and the First Battle of Passchendaele.

During 1918, when John James Brooks was almost certainly with the 1st Battalion, they were involved in the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune on 18 April 1918, the Advance in Flanders, and the further Battle of the Scarpe from 26 to 30 August 1918.  This later period was part of what developed into an advance, and became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[4] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

The 1st Battalion War Diaries are to be found with the within the records of the 4th Division at The National Archives[5]  and on-line.  The events recorded in the Diary, for the last few days before John James Brookes was killed are summarised below.  Another Rugby soldier, Cecil Austin,[6] who was also in the 1st R.War.R. was killed on the same day as John James Brooks.

26 August – Very wet day … Battalion is to carry out training for the attack … At about 2.30pm a ‘Warning Order’ … to be prepared to move that same night … to proceed by march route at 7pm to MONT ST ELOI area, a distance of about 16 miles …

27 August – Fine day. Battalion rests after the march. …

28 August – Wet day.  Orders … to relieve the 5th Bn Canadian Mounted Rifles at night in front of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.  Battalion embus at MONT ST ELOI at noon & procede to ARRAS, [about 6 miles] … then marches to assembly area at FEUCHY CHAPEL [about 5 miles from Arras, and the same to Vis-en-Artois] … at 6.30pm Coys. move forward … keeping MOINCHY LE PREUX on the north … and relief is gradually carried out.  Hostile artillery is very severe … & we suffer casualties. Relief complete about 2.30am.

29 August – Fine day.  Enemy artillery continues very active … Battalion is ordered to clear REMY village with artillery cooperation.  … At 8pm a ‘Warning Order’ for the attack is issued. …

30 August – … Battalion is to move forward into assembly positions S.E. of REMY WOOD & VILLAGE.  Coys dribble forward, but the movement is observed & a heavy Machine Gun & Artillery barrage is put down.  B & C Coys are much disorganised & suffer severe casualties. … Our artillery is asked to shell opposite ridge & hostile fire is considerably reduced. … D Coy … get into position with only a few casualties.  At noon the C.O. … receives instructions to attack at 4pm, … Orders are issued, but it is impossible to promulgate these effectively.  Capt Mauncell M.C. takes his Coy & elements of A B & C. forward … They have to cross a stream & swamp, some of the men wading through waist deep in mud & water.  Line of 2nd objective is reached without much opposition on the part of the enemy, a number of whom were shot down as they attempted to run away. … Owing to delay in crossing river & swamp, the artillery barrage gets too far ahead.  This … prevents 3 objectives being taken.  Capt. WGB Edmonds MC collects about 60 stragglers & takes them up to reinforce … At midnight orders are received that the Battalion is to be relieved … before dawn. …. Relief is completed about 4.30am, the Battalion comes back into support …

31 August – Coys are reorganised … Owing to reduced strength of the Battn. …

During the three days, 29-31 August, the Battalion lost 2 officers and 21 O.R.s killed and 5 officers and 157 O.R.s wounded, with 24 O.R.s missing.

Among those O.R.s ‘Killed in Action’ during the attack on Rémy on 30 August 1918, was John James Brooks.  He was 22 years old.  John James Brooks’s body was not found or not identified, and he is now remembered, as ‘Brookes’ on Panel 3 of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Cemetery and Memorial are west of the village of Haucourt.  Vis-En-Artois and Haucourt were taken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918.  The cemetery was begun immediately afterwards and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the middle of October.  It was increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of April-June 1917, August and September 1918, and from the smaller cemeteries in the neighbourhood. … The cemetery was designed by J R Truelove.[7]  At the far end of the Cemetery, the Vis-en-Artois Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing.

The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts. The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved.  It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high. The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon.  The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names.  Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building.  The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick.  It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.[8]

John James Brooks’ Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

Some of his colleagues whose bodies were recovered, including Cecil Austin,[9] were buried in the adjacent Vis-en-Artois Cemetery.

In addition to appearing on the Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby, where his name is given as ‘J J Brooke’, he is also listed on the New Bilton WW1 Memorial as ‘J J Brooks’.  The New Bilton war memorial is by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road, and reads ‘In the Great War these died for England 1914-1919’.

A single man, he was survived by his Mother and Father, and his six siblings.  In 1921 his family placed the following message in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Rugby Advertiser:-
 Brooks: – In sacred memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. J J Brooks, 1st RWR, killed in action somewhere in France, August 30th 1918.
“Sleep on, dear boy, and take thy rest,
We loved you well, but God loved you best;
No morning dawns, no night returns,
But what we think of thee.”
Ever remembered by his Mother and Father, Brothers and Sisters.[10]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on John James BROOKS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Mike Beare, with additional military research by John P H Frearson and is © Mike Beare, John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

[1]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[2]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329; Piece Number: 738

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, 26 August 1916.

[4]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Bapaume.

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th Division, Piece 1484/1-7: 10 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1914 Aug – 1919 Jun)

[6]      See Rugby Remembers, for Cecil AUSTIN, on 30 August 1918, which also includes a map of the battlefield.

[7]      Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/2000088/vis-en-artois-british-cemetery.

[8]      Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/79200/vis-en-artois-memorial/.

[9]      See Rugby Remembers, 30 August 2018.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 26 August 1921.

Austin, Cecil. Died 30th Aug 1918

Cecil AUSTIN was born in Spratton, Northamptonshire in 1898 and registered in Q4 1898 in Brixworth.  He was the younger son of Ned Austin, who was born in about 1874 in Bradford, Yorkshire, and Nellie Benson, née Eagles, Austin, who was born in about 1876, in Spratton, Northamptonshire.  They were married in Spratton on 3 August 1896.

When Cecil was baptised at Holy Trinity church, Northampton on 17 October 1904, his father was working as a ‘boot maker’ and the family lived at 1 Cranbrook Road, Northampton.

In 1901, the family were living at 49 Balmoral Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton, and Cecil’s father, Ned Austin, was a ‘shoemaker – boot m[aker] worker’.

In 1911, his father was enumerated as a ‘boot repairer’, and the family had moved to Rugby and were now living at 3 Oliver Street.  Cecil was twelve years old.  His parents had been married for 14 years.  Cyril’s elder brother, Wilfred Austin, who was thirteen, was also a ‘boot repairer’.  The boys’ 80 year old maternal grandfather was living with them.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Cecil, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby,[1] and his Medal Card shows that he served as Private, No: 34801, and was latterly in ‘B’ Company, of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Cecil went to France, suggesting this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until sometime in late 1916.

On 4 August 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division, and on 22 August 1914 they mobilised for war and landed in France.  The Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including during 1914: the Battle of Le Cateau, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, and the Battle of Messines 1914.  In December 1914, the Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.  During 1915 they were engaged in the Second Battle of Ypres.  During 1916, they fought in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Le Transloy.  During 1917, they took part in the First Battle of the Scarpe, the Third Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde, the Battle of Poelcapelle, and the First Battle of Passchendaele.

During 1918, when Cecil was almost certainly with the Battalion, they were involved in the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune on 18 April 1918, the Advance in Flanders, and the Battle of the Scarpe – 26 to 30 August 1918.   This would have been part of what developed into the advance, which became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[2] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

The 1st Battalion War Diaries are to be found with the within the records of the 4th Division at The National Archives and on-line.[3]  The events recorded in the Diary, for the last few days before Cecil was killed are summarised below.

26 August – Very wet day … Battalion is to carry out training for the attack … At about 2.30pm a ‘Warning Order’ … to be prepared to move that same night … to proceed by march route at 7pm to MONT ST ELOI area, a distance of about 16 miles …

27 August – Fine day. Battalion rests after the march. …

28 August – Wet day.  Orders … to relieve the 5th Bn Canadian Mounted Rifles at night in front of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.  Battalion embus at MONT ST ELOI at noon & procede to ARRAS, [about 6 miles] … then marches to assembly area at FEUCHY CHAPEL [about 5 miles from Arras, and the same to Vis-en-Artois] … at 6.30pm Coys. move forward … keeping MOINCHY LE PREUX on the north … and relief is gradually carried out.  Hostile artillery is very severe … & we suffer casualties. Relief complete about 2.30am. 

29 August – Fine day.  Enemy artillery continues very active … Battalion is ordered to clear REMY village with artillery cooperation.  … At 8pm a ‘Warning Order’ for the attack is issued. …

30 August – … Battalion is to move forward into assembly positions S.E. of REMY WOOD & VILLAGE.  Coys dribble forward, but the movement is observed & a heavy Machine Gun & Artillery barrage is put down.  B & C Coys are much disorganised & suffer severe casualties. … Our artillery is asked to shell opposite ridge & hostile fire is considerably reduced. … D Coy … get into position with only a few casualties.  At noon the C.O. … receives instructions to attack at 4pm, … Orders are issued, but it is impossible to promulgate these effectively.  Capt Mauncell M.C. takes his Coy & elements of A B & C. forward … They have to cross a steam & swamp, some of the men wading through waist deep in mud & water.  Line of 2nd objective is reached without much opposition on the part of the enemy, a number of whom were shot down as they attempted to run away. … Owing to delay in crossing river & swamp, the artillery barrage gets too far ahead.  This … prevents 3 objectives being taken.  Capt. WGB Edmonds MC collects about 60 stragglers & takes them up to reinforce … At midnight orders are received that the Battalion is to be relieved … before dawn. …. Relief is completed about 4.30am, the Battalion comes back into support …

31 August – Coys are reorganised … Owing to reduced strength of the Battn. …

During the three days, 29-31 August, the Battalion lost 2 officers and 21 O.R.s killed and 5 officers and 157 O.R.s wounded, with 24 O.R.s missing. 

Among those O.R.s ‘Killed in Action’ during the attack on Rémy on 30 August, was Cecil Austin.  He was 19 years old.

Cecil was originally buried, together with another unknown soldier from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, probably near to where they fell when attacking the village of Rémy.  The concentration record showed that they were both named on a single cross on a joint grave located at map reference: ‘O 18 C. 4. 7.’  This earlier record also suggested that he was killed two days later on 2 September 1918 – this may have been the burial date after the two bodies were found as the advance continued.  The map reference showed that the location of the original grave was at the south-west corner of Rémy Wood, which confirms Cecil’s presence in the attack on the Rémy Wood area on 30 August, when both his ‘B’, and also ‘C’ Company were ‘… much disorganised & suffer severe casualties.’

When smaller burial grounds and battlefield graves were later ‘concentrated’ – the bodies exhumed, moved and reburied in larger cemeteries, which could be better maintained – the two soldiers were buried in separate graves.

Cecil is now buried in Plot V. F. 25. in the Vis-en-Artois Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.  His former ‘grave-mate’ is buried next to him in Plot V. F. 26.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Cemetery is west of the village of Haucourt.  Vis-En-Artois and Haucourt were taken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918.  The cemetery was begun immediately afterwards and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the middle of October.  It consisted originally of 430 graves (in Plots I and II) of which 297 were Canadian and 55 belonged to the 2nd Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.  It was increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of April-June 1917, August and September 1918, and from the smaller cemeteries in the neighbourhood. … The cemetery was designed by J R Truelove.[4]

His parents had the inscription ‘A Loving Son Tender and Kind, A Beautiful Memory Left Behind’, engraved on his gravestone.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on 4 October 1918,

… THE ROLL HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included the latest casualty lists: Killed.  Austin, 34801, C. (Rugby), R.W.R.[5]

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on the Rugby Baptist Church Memorial Tablet above the Minister’s vestry – although the latter with his name spelt – or transcribed – incorrectly,

This tablet and the organ in the Church are erected to the memory of those members of this Church who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914-1918, whose names are given herewith also as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the many others from this Church who served in the war.

– AUSTEN Cecil.

On waters deep in the treacherous mud.
On rock bound heights and burning sand.
They poured the offering of their blood.
They kept the honour of the land.[6]

After the war, Ned and Nellie Austin had moved to live at 11 Bridget Street, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Cecil AUSTIN 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, April 2018.

[1]      Info from: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[2]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Bapaume.

[3]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th Division, Piece 1484/1-7: 10 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1914 Aug – 1919 Jun)

[4]      https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/79200/vis-en-artois-memorial/.

[5]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 4 October 1918.

[6]      https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-baptist-church-plaque.

 

Souster, Albert George. Died 29th Aug 1918

Albert George SOUSTER, generally known as Bert Souster, was born on 24 May 1898 in Rugby.   He was the eldest son of George Thomas Souster, b.c.1875, in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire and Florence Jessie, née Adie, Souster, b.c. 1874, in Tamworth, Staffordshire.  They married in 1898 in Tamworth.

In 1901 the family were living at 71 Cambridge Street, Rugby; Albert’s father was 26 and a Railway Parcel Porter; his mother was 27.  Albert was 2 years old.

By 1911 the family had moved next door to 73 Cambridge Street, Rugby.[1]  George was 12 and now had two brothers: Allan Thomas who was 9 and Stanley who was 6.  Their father was now a Ticket Collector.

Albert attended Murray School and later became a Railway Clerk, latterly L& N.-W Railway Goods office at Coventry Station.  He was also a teacher in the Primitive Methodist Sunday School.[2]

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Albert, but it seems that he enlisted in Rugby, in March 1917, initially as a Private, No: 212797, in the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery.  There is no date on Albert’s Medal Card for when he went to France, but as noted in a later obituary, it was at the start of 1918.

At some date he transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, and then, or later, into the ‘Heavy Branch’, the ‘disguised’ name for the new Tank Corps.  His Medal Card has him latterly as a Private, No: 109743 in the 12th Battalion, the Tank Corps.

It appears that men with Tank Corps numbers in the range ‘109000 to 109999’ were mostly transfers in from Royal Field Artillery.[3]  That would have been the case for Albert.

The Tank Corps were at first considered artillery, and crews received artillery pay.  At that time the six tank companies were grouped as the Heavy Section of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC).  In November 1916 the eight companies then in existence were each expanded to form battalions (still identified by the letters A to H) and designated the Heavy Branch MGC; another seven battalions, I to O, were formed by January 1918, when all the battalion were changed to numbered units.  On 28 July 1917, the Heavy Branch was separated from the rest of the Corps by Royal Warrant and given official status as the Tank Corps.  The formation of new battalions continued and, by December 1918, 26 had been created though only 25 battalions were equipped with tanks, as the 17th had converted to armoured cars in April 1918.[4]

There does not appear to be a readily accessible War Diary for the ‘L’ or 12th Battalion of the Tank Corps, but some information on organisation in early 1918 has been found.[5]

‘Early in January 1918 orders were, however, received that in place of remaining assembled at one spot the Tank Corps was to form a defensive cordon stretching from about Roisle to a little south of Bethune – a frontage of some sixty miles.  In February this line was taken up, tank units being distributed as follows: … 1st Tank Brigade, which latterly had its H.Q in Bois d’Olhain.  The Brigade included: 7th Bn. at Boyelles ; 11th Bn. at Bois des Alleux; and 12th Bn. at Bois de Verdrel.

The 1st Brigade were thus in position on a line between Bethune and south of Saint Quentin, some 10 miles to the west of Cambrai, with Albert, assuming that he arrived with the 12th Bn. soon after the date he went to France, near the 1st Brigade H.Q. about five miles south of Bethune.

He may well have been involved in some of the initial holding actions after the German offensive ‘Operation Michael’,[6] in later March 1918; and certainly later, in the actions following the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918, which was the first day of the Allied offensive, which led to the successful ‘100 Days Offensive to Victory’.

Tanks were used to assist many of the offensive actions, and there were daily losses in the various Battalions of the Tank Corps – some no doubt due to the shelling of the rear lines, as well as when tanks were in action.  Indeed on the very day that Albert was killed, one of the Tank Corps’ Victoria Crosses was won, at Fremicourt, about six kms. south, on 29 August 1918, when serving in a ‘Whippet’ light tank, in 3rd (Light) Tank Bn. Tank Corps,

‘ … Lieutenant Cecil Sewell dismounted to save the crew of another tank, was killed in the process and awarded the Victoria Cross.’

Albert George Souster was in the 12th not the 3rd, but was also ‘Killed in Action’ on 29 August, ‘by a shell’.  Another soldier in his 12th Bn. also died that day and can probably help locate the battalion.  Although later re-buried in the Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, Mory, Private William Gordon was originally buried at Map Reference: 57c B 8a 8.5.[7]  This is about 1500yards to the north-east of Ervillers, which is about 25 miles west of Cambrai, and is likely to be where the 15th Bn. was in action or more probably leaguered and waiting to go into action.  Also originally found buried a few hundred yards to the east of William Gordon, at M.Ref: 57c B 8b 5.2., were two members of the Grenadier Guards, a member of the 1st Bn. Kings Royal Rifles and Captain L A Wilkins of the 2nd/4th Yorks and Lancs.  They were also recovered from the battlefield to be buried in the Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, and their Battalions were in action in the few days before Albert’s death during the attacks around Ervillers.

Soon the advance moved forward, the 12th Bn Tank Corps came into action on 2 September 1918 and incurred the loss of 13 men killed near Mory.  Most were recovered to be buried in the nearby Mory Abbey Military Cemetery.  However, three were later recovered from the battlefield, and provide an indication of where the 12th Bn. were then in action – they were recovered at Map References that can also be found a little to the south on the Trench Map:[8] – Knowles at M.Ref: 57c H 3a 4.8; Sliddard at M.Ref: 57c B 28c 2.1.; and Mitchell at M.Ref: 57c B 26 c 1.5.

Albert was ‘killed instantaneously by a shell’ in action on 29 August 1918 – he was only 20.  Until a War Diary can be consulted, it seems likely that his was a random death during counter-shelling.  His body was either not found, or no longer able to be found, or not identified and he is commemorated on Panel 11, of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt.

The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave.  They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing.  The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts.  The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved.  It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high.  The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon.  The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names.  Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building.  The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick.  It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.[9]

Albert’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

The Rugby Advertiser posted a notice of Albert’s death on 7 September 1918
On Tuesday Mr George Souster, ticket collector, 73 Cambridge Street, received the news that his son, Gunner Albert George Souster, of the Tanks Battalion, had been killed by a shell on August 29th. Gunner Souster, who was 20 years of age, enlisted in the R.F.A in March, 1917, and was subsequently transferred to the Tank Battalion and drafted to France in January last.  Before joining up he was a clerk in the L& N.-W Railway Goods office at Coventry.  He was a teacher in the Primitive Methodist Sunday School.[10]

The same edition included a family Death notice – with a slightly earlier date of death.
SOUSTER. – Killed in action on August 28th, Gunner ALBERT GEORGE SPOUSTER, Tank Battalion, son of Mr. George Souster, 73 Cambridge Street, Rugby, aged 20 years.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph also published a brief obituary on 7 September 1918.
Albert George Souster, Tank Corps, who before joining was employed as a clerk at Coventry railway station, has fallen in action, having been killed instantaneously by a shell.  Son of Ticket-examiner George Souster of Rugby, he joined up in March last year in the R.F.A., and proceeded France at the beginning this year.  He was aged 20.[11]

His death was not officially reported in the Weekly Casualty List until early-October,
‘PART VII  – W.O.’s., N.C.O.’s and Men, (Cont.) – Killed (Cont). … Tank Corps … Souster, 109743, A.G. (Rugby).[12]

This was followed by publication in ‘The Roll of Honour’ in the Coventry Evening Telegraph on 7 October 1918,
‘THE ROLL OF HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  Today’s list of casualties include the following: Killed. … Tank Corps, Souster, 109743, A.G. Rugby.’[13]

Between 21 August 1918 and the Armistice on 11 November 1918, some 2,400 men and officers of the Tank Corps became casualties.

A later family remembrance in the Rugby Advertiser stated,
SOUSTER – In ever loving memory of our dear son, Gunner A G Souster (Bert), killed in France, Aug. 29th. 1918.  “Ever in our thoughts”.  From his sorrowing Mother, Father, and Brothers.’

When the Rugby Memorial Gates were dedicated in 1922, ‘Souster A G’ was among those listed in the Rugby Advertiser as being included on the Memorial Gates.[14]

Soon afterwards, on Empire Day in May 1922, Albert Souster was remembered at Murray School,

‘EMPIRE DAY.  CELEBRATIONS AT RUGBY SCHOOLS. MURRAY SCHOOL
The celebrations were commenced with a service, at which “The Supreme Sacrifice.” “O God, our Help in Ages Past,” and other national songs were sung to the accompaniment of the school orchestra.  After the play interval the hoys formed up in the ground and, headed by the school troop of Boy Scouts under the command of Scoutmaster Rowbottom, marched past the flag at the salute.  Earlier in the morning a beautiful wreath was placed under the Old Boys’ Memorial in memory of A. G. Souster, whose birthday coincided with Empire Day.  A holiday was given in the afternoon.[15]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Albert George SOUSTER 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, April and August 2018.

[1]      The street had not been renumbered, as the Bayfords at 69, and the Clarks at 79, were still at the same addresses.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 7 September 1918.

[3]      Howard Williamson’s notes, taken from http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-tank-corps-enlistments-1916-1919.html.

[4]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Tank_Regiment.

[5]      Fuller, J.F.C., Tanks in the Great War, 1920.

[6]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[7]      See trench map at https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=50.1725&lon=2.8365&layers=101465149&b=1

[8]      See trench map at https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=50.1453&lon=2.8452&layers=101465149&b=1

[9]      https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/79200/vis-en-artois-memorial/.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, 7 September 1918 also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/7th-sep-1918-grand-fete-at-clifton-manor/.

[11]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Saturday, 7 September 1918, and Coventry Herald, Saturday, 14 September 1918.

[12]     Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry ), Tuesday, 8 October 1918.

[13]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Monday, 7 October 1918.

[14]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 10 March 1922.

[15]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 26 May 1922.

Slater, Cyril George. Died 27th Aug 1918

Cyril George SLATER was born in New Bilton, Rugby on 27 June 1899. He was the eldest son of Charles Henry Slater, whose father was a paperhanger, and who was born in about 1878 in New Bilton, Rugby, and Bertha Martha, née Taylor, Slater, whose father was a ‘goods porter’ – she was also born in about 1878, in Rugby. They were married in New Bilton on 7 March 1899, after Banns were called in February and March. When Cyril was baptised at New Bilton on 6 August 1899, his father was working as a ‘decorator’ and the family lived in New Bilton.

In 1901, his father was enumerated as a ‘painter and house decorator’, and the family were now in St. Andrews Parish and living at 103 Cambridge Street, Rugby. Cyril was one year old. In 1911, when Cyril was 11, his parents had been married for 12 years, and had moved to live at 24 Lodge Road, Rugby. Cyril now had a younger sister, Olga C Slater, who was seven. Their father was now a ‘foreman painter’. Cyril attended the Elborow School, and ‘previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.’

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Cyril, but it seems that he joined up in Warwick, and his Medal Card shows that he served initially as Private, No: 43087, in the 4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. He later served as a Private, No: 44979, latterly in the 8th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, more usually known as the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Cyril went to France, suggesting this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until sometime in late 1917.

Both the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Battalions of the Hampshire Regiment served in India from October and December respectively in WWI. Thus whilst one document suggests that Cyril was in the ‘4th Battalion’, he did not serve in India, and he may have been transferred to the Royal Berkshires soon after recruitment.

There is also some confusion over the service of the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. The 8th (Service) Battalion was formed in September 1914 as part of the Third New Army (K3) at Reading and was attached to the 26th Division and moved to Salisbury Plain. In May 1915 they moved to Sutton Veny and on 8 August 1915 mobilised for war and landed at Havre and transferred to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division, a Regular Army formation, which engaged in various ‘slaughterhouse battles’ on the Western Front.

However, some accounts suggest they were in action in France in 1914 and early 1915 which conflicts with the above mobilisation to France date. Assuming Cyril went to France in August 1917, having reached the age of 18, he may have been first involved in the Second Battle of Passchendaele from 26 October to 10 November 1917.

On 2 February 1918 the Battalion transferred to the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front in the Battle of St Quentin from 21 to 23 March 1918, this being the initial action against the German offensive ‘Operation Michael’ ; the Battle of the Avre, 4-5 April; the actions of Villers-Brettoneux, 24-25 April 1918; and the Battle of Amiens, 8 August 1918, which was the first day of the Allied offensive, when Allied forces advanced over 7 miles on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, … Erich Ludendorff described that day as “the black day of the German Army”. The Battalion was then involved in the third Battle of Albert (21-23 August 1918) which then continued as the extended two week Second Battle of Bapaume which then developed into the advance, which became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

Parts of the 8th Battalion War Diary are to be found at the end of the 53rd Brigade Diaries within the records of the 18th Division. This showed that after a final conference at MAMETZ WOOD, on 26 August 1918, there was a major action on 27 August 1918, which was described in four closely written pages of the War Diary.

‘27 August – 2.15am – Battalion moved out to the forming up line.

‘3.30am – Assembly of troops was completed. The night was quiet and bright moonlight. … three of the enemy strayed into our lines and were taken prisoner of war by the Medical Officer.

‘4.30am – The leading lines moved forward … to catch the barrage which was timed to open at 4.55am … through western edge of BERNAFAY WOOD. The enemy … outpost M.G. posts … retired hastily to the first main line of their resistance. … Our advance had already been detected … and a brisk M.G. fire opened. This was ominously loud on the left … in enemy occupation instead of held by the adjoining Division. … the barrage crept forward and our men … cleared the right area without appreciable loss.

‘On the left … progress … was considerably hampered. The next line of enemy resistance coincided approximately with the BERNAFAY- LONGUEVAL Road. … The right pushed on not far behind the barrage and took some more prisoners … between the LONGUEVAL road and TRONES WOOD. … the final objective … was attained on the right but our own troops at once came under accurate M.G. fire from the direction of WATERLOT farm. … large numbers of enemy could be seen massing and advancing from WATERLOT farm. At the same time LONGUEVAL and DELVILLE WOOD were full of enemy … contemplating withdrawl … the troops on the final objective … checked the advance from WATERLOT farm, though at the cost of a number of casualties … a number of the enemy surrendered or were killed, while the remainder withdrew in the direction of LONGUEVAL.

‘ … the Reserve Coy of the 7th R W Kents had also come up … ‘B’ Coy had started their southward advance through TRONES WOOD … but our heavies continued to shell it … they also fell back to the trench line immediately west of the wood … an enemy counter attack … menaced the security of the whole of this flank. But Kents and Berkshires rallied in good style … and confined the enemy gains to the higher portion.

‘6.30pm – The heavies opened an intense bombardment …

‘6.50pm – Two guns of the 53rd Trench Mortar Battery opened an intensive fire …

‘6.55pm – The attacking Companies … crept from their positions close up to the bombardment.

‘7.00pm – All the fire was turned to the left, but so eager were the men that they were in amongst it before the shells had stopped bursting taking the enemy completely by surprise. Basically all of these on the edge of the wood were shot or bayoneted and our troops pushed into the undergrowth with great dash … The whole operation was complete within an hour. 3 officers and 70 OR were taken prisoner, about 50 of the enemy killed and some 20 M.G.s captured. Enemy posts … were rendered largely innocuous by the command of the ground captured and the night passed quietly …

‘28 August – 12 midnight – Battalion was relieved by 2nd Batt. Bedford Regt., 54th Brigade, and moved to CATERPILLAR VALLEY.’

On 29 August at 7pm, the Battalion moved into Reserve about GUILLEMONT, which had been well behind the German lines when the action started on 27 August – such was the progress of the advance. There had been casualties – on 27 August, three Officers had been killed, and also an RAMC officer, and three were wounded. In total in August 79 Other Ranks had been killed, 225 wounded, nine died of wounds, and eight were missing. Seven Military Medals were awarded.

At some time during the actions on 27 August, Cyril George Slater was one of the 79 Other Ranks who were ‘Killed in Action’ in August in the 8th Battalion. He was 19 years old. His body was either never found or not identified.

Cyril is commemorated on Panel 7, of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras. The Vis-en-Artois Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt.
The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing. The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts. The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved. It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high. The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon. The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names. Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building. The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick. It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.

An item in the Rugby Advertiser in September noted,
Pte George Cyril Slater, son of Mr & Mrs H Slater, 24 Lodge Road, was killed in action in France on August 27th. He was an old Elborow boy, and previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.

It seems that the family may have used the name George rather than Cyril. His death was not officially reported in the Weekly Casualty List until mid-October,

‘PART VIII – W.O.’s., N.C.O.’s and Men, Cont. – Killed … Royal Berkshire Regiment … Slater 44979 O. G. (Rugby).

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on the same date,
‘THE ROLL OF HONOUR. Coventry and District Casualties. The following are included in the latest casualty lists: Killed. … Slater, 44979, O. G., Rugby, Royal Berkshire Regiment.’

In both cases his first initial ‘C’ had been misprinted as ‘O’.

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Cyril George SLATER 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, April 2018.

Clark, George. Died 27th Aug 1918

George Clark was born in 1888 Birmingham and married Olive Seward in the Dec Quarter of 1916 in Rugby. They had a child born 16th November 1917, George Kenneth Clark.

Before serving, George worked in the Accounting Department of B.T. H.  He enlisted at Rugley Staffordshire

He was in the Machine Gun Corps service number 32347,before transferring to the Tank Corps 205006 he was promoted to Corporal and from the Register of Soldiers Effects we find he was in the 12 Battalion Tank Corp,and died of his wounds on 27th August 1918. He had a credit of £9 3s 11p and on the 14-4-19 his widow Olive received £3 1s 4p then on the 17-5-19 Olive received the sun of £6 2s 7p for the child George, Olive received a final payment on 11-12-19 of £10 10s.

The 12th Battalion Tank Corp were involved with the third battle of the Somme, being attached to the 3rd Division, VI Corp, 3rd Army. From the account of the battle some of the other ranks were wounded and I believe one of these was George Clark but in the report no other ranks are named (this information from Landships google home page)

In the 1911 census Olive Seward was living at 17 Windsor Street with her widowed father John Joseph she is recorded as 20 years old, also living there were her sisters May 18 and Marjorie 14.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has the following Information

Clark Pte. George 205006 12th Battalion Tank Corp died of wounds 27th August 1918 Aged 30, Husband of Olive Clark of 17 Windsor Street Rugby, he is buried in Plot 1 Row N Grave 25 in the St Hilaire Cemetery Extension in Fervent France

He is also remembered on the B.T.H. memorial as well as the Rugby Gates.

(Some information from ancestry .com)

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Lines, George Henry. Died 26th Aug 1918

George Henry was born in Daventry in 1899. son of Elizabeth Lines (formerly Maltby, nee Shaw). In the 1901 census, aged 2 and appearing as Henry Bennett, he lived with his mother, named as Elizabeth Bennett, at 8 Rose Court Daventry with two sisters, Daisy and Zillah. There were three older siblings, Herbert, Ernest and Evelyn Maltby. It stated that Elizabeth was married but no husband is listed.

In 1911 he was living as George Lines in Rugby at 15 Bridget street, with his step-father Richard Hutt, his mother Elizabeth, and siblings Hubert and Phoebe Maltby, his sister Zillah Lines and step brother Harry Hutt.
(Elizabeth Louisa Shaw married William Lines in 1881, William Maltby in 1888 and Richard Hutt in 1903. It is not known who Mr Bennett was.)

George Henry joined the army first in the Somerset Light Infantry service number 40590 then being transferred to Royal Berkshire (Princess Charlotte of Wales) Regiment with a service number 48573. He was in the 5th Battalion which was part of the 36th Brigade of the 12th Division. In the war diary’s we read that the battalion was cleaning up and refitting from the 17th August to the 20th August prior to moving north of Morlancourt on the 21st to take over from 6th Queens Regiment. They moved positions until on the 25th the battalion had orders to attack east of Carnoy at between 04:00-04:30 am.

Battalion formed up at 3:30am. The battalion marched by compass for three and a half miles and reached forming up place at 4:45.The barrage was then over. The battalion attacked right and left on village of Carnoy A & B Company’s leading followed by C& D in the rear. A & C on the left B & D on the right held up by heavy machine gun fire on final objective and heavy casualties ensued. Trench was made with London 10 on right but failed to gain trench with 7 R. Sussex on left. Heavy fighting on left flank and enemy after two attempts rushed over and captured a number of our men. 2/ Lt Stapleton killed trying to get away and many men. 2/Lt Tutton badly wounded and died.

From the battalion records they have daily casualty returns and on the 26th august the returns read as follows:
Trench strength 14 0fficers 310 men
Officers Killed 2 wounded 1
Other Ranks Killed 43 Wounded 97 Missing 31

At the start of August the number of men had stood at:
28 Officers and 718 men so this regiment had suffered heavy losses

Private Lines, George Henry, Service No 48573 died 26th August 1918

An announcement of his death was published in the Rugby Advertiser of 21st Sep 1918:
LINES – In ever-loving memory of my dearest and youngest son. Pte J. H. Lines, of the Royal Berks., who was killed in action on August 27th “somewhere in France”, aged 19 years.
“We do not forget him, nor do we intend;
We think of him daily, and will to the end.
We miss him and mourn him in silence unseen,
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.”
“In the midst of life we are in death.”
–Not forgotten by his sorrowing Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters.

He was buried in the Peronne Road Cemetery , Maricourt France. Memorial reference 1v.H.34.

The inscription on his gravestone reads:
REST IN PEACE

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM