Hopkins, Leonard John. Died 30th Oct 1918

It is unusual for soldiers from Dunchurch to be included on the Rugby War Memorial Gate, so it was uncertain if the correct L. Hopkins had been identified.  However, no other more suitable candidate has been found.  If any information for any other L Hopkins is available, please advise this site, and he can be included.  Meanwhile, a young man, who died aged only 18, is certainly deserving of being Remembered.

 

Leonard John HOPKINS was born on 16 July 1900 in Dunchurch and registered there in Q3, 1900.  He was baptised St Peter’s Church, Dunchurch on 26 August 1900.  He was the first child of Elphinstone Henry Edward Hopkins, (b.c.1872 in Kilsby, Northamptonshire – d.c.1953 in Rugby), and his wife, Annie Maria, née Norman, Hopkins (b.c.1875, in Dunchurch – d.c.1955, Birmingham).  Their Banns were called on Sundays, 17 and 24 September and 1 October 1899, at Dunchurch, where they married on 11 October 1899, when she was 25 and he was 27.  He was then a ‘hedge carpenter’,[1] and the son of a ‘miller’ and her father was a ‘thatcher’.

In 1901, Leonard was 8 months old, and the family were living in Dunchurch.  Leonard’s father was now a ‘carter for a corn dealer’.

In 1911, when Leonard, was 10, the family was living in a three room house on The Green, at Dunchurch.  The head of the household was Leonard’s 78 year old maternal grandfather, John Norman.  His father was working as a ‘horse driver, waggoner’ for a ‘corn & coal carter’.  Leonard now had a four year old younger brother, Archibald.  It seems that Leonard attended the Dunchurch Boys’ School.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Leonard, and the only information is from a listing in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’,[2] and information on the CWGC site.

Leonard joined up in Coventry,[3] and he served as a private, No: 81288, in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion (Territorials) of the Devonshire Regiment.

3/4th, 3/5th and 3/6th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment formed at Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple respectively on 25 March 1915.  They moved to Bournemouth in August 1915, and then on 8 April 1916  became Reserve Battalions and the 4th then absorbed the 5th and 6th on 1 September 1916 at Hursley Park near Winchester.  The Battalion remained in England (moving to Bournemouth in October 1916, Sutton Veny in March 1917 and Larkhill in early 1918), until going to Ireland in April 1918.  Thereafter it was stationed at various times at Belfast, Londonderry and Clonmany.[4]

This confirms why Leonard was in Ireland in later 1918.  When he joined up he was probably still too young to go abroad, and the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Devonshires were already in India, or by 1918, in Egypt or Mesopotamia respectively.  Whilst he was in Ireland, he became ill and died of pneumonia in the Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.

Leonard’s body was returned to his home village of Dunchurch, for burial.  The family included an expression of gratitude to their friends in the Rugby Advertiser, 9 November 1918,[5]

MR & MRS. HOPKINS would like express their gratitude to all their kind friends who have shown such kindness and sympathy to them in their great sorrow; also for the beautiful Floral Tributes and all those who contributed towards them.

Also in that edition of the Rugby Advertiser was a report on the funeral.

DUNCHURCH – the funeral of Leonard J Hopkins, aged 18 years, son of Mr and Mrs Hopkins of Dunchurch, took place at Dunchurch on Tuesday last.  Deceased, who was a private in the Devon Reserves, died after a short illness in Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.  Before joining the army he was employed as gardener at Thurlaston Grange, and a bunch of mauve chrysanthemums (his favourite flower) was sent by Mr Appleby, bearing the words, ‘These flowers he tended so carefully during his life are sent as a token of deep sympathy from all at Thurlaston Grange’.  The funeral service was conducted by the Vicar, the Rev E P Rowland, and the coffin was borne by four soldiers staying in the village.  Among the flowers were tributes from Mrs Mallam, Mr and Mrs Appleby, Mr and Mrs Dew, Mrs Borsley, Mr and Mrs Tomlin, and Mrs Busby.  The deceased was very popular with the boys of the village, and in addition to the above were wreaths from ‘His chums’, Pte R Jennings (serving in France), and the Scholars and Staff of Dunchurch Boys’ School.  The people of the village feel the greatest sympathy with Mr and Mrs Hopkins in their bereavement.’[6]

Leonard was buried in Dunchurch churchyard, and has a CWGC gravestone.  The inscription added to his gravestone by his family was, ‘HIS SUN WENT DOWN WHILE IT WAS YET DAY’.  His father’s name, Mr E Hopkins,  is given as the next of kin in the CWGC records.

As Leonard did not serve abroad – Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and counted as a ‘Home’ posting – he was not entitled to any medals and thus there is no Medal Card.

As well as his CWGC gravestone in St Peter’s church churchyard in Dunchurch, where he is remembered as ‘Hopkins L J’, Leonard is also remembered the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby as ‘Hopkins L’ and as ‘Leonard J Hopkins’, on the Dunchurch War Memorial, on the Green opposite Guy Fawkes House, Dunchurch.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Leonard John HOPKINS 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, August 2018.

[1]      He may have just been a ‘hedger’, although http://www.grown-furniture.co.uk/history.html notes that ‘the Irish ‘hedge carpenter’ was a recognised craftsman, able to create a variety of useful wooden items.  He was so called for his ability to find many of the shapes he needed for his products – be they tools, farm implements, or furniture – growing naturally.’

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[3]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/devonshire-regiment/.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

Woodward, Arthur. Died 27th Oct 1918

Arthur WOODWARD was born on 13 December 1899 in Rugby.  He was the son of Thomas Woodward, who was a ‘carpenter and joiner’ born at Stretton-under Fosse on 4 February 1869, and Agnes Lillian, née Roden, born in Rugby on 12 December 1869.  They were married on 5 September 1893 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby.

By 1891 the family had moved to Rugby, and living at 25 Stephen Street. By 1901, their first son, Arthur Woodward, was two years old, and his brother, Bernard, was one.  Their father was still a ‘joiner – carp’ and the family was now living at 39 Stephen Street, Rugby.

In 1911, they were still at the same address, a five roomed house.  The brothers were at school; Arthur was 12 and Bernard, now more fully named Alfred Bernard, was 11.  Arthur’s parents had been married 16 years, and it seems that they had had three children, one of whom had died.  Arthur’s father was still a ‘joiner’ and was a ‘worker’ for a ‘builder’, quite possibly he was already working for J Parnell and Son of Rugby.

A later report[1] stated that Arthur Woodward attended St. Matthews School and after leaving school and before the war and joining up, it seems that he also worked for J Parnell and Son of Rugby.

Because of his age, Arthur should probably not joined up until about 1917 and he probably should not have gone abroad until at least the end of 1918.  However, his family relate that ‘he served in action in France and Flanders’ which suggests he went abroad before his Battalion went to Italy in later 1917 – so it seems almost certain that he lied about his age!

For some reason, possibly so he would not be recognised to be under age, he joined up in Taunton, and thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, he joined the Devonshire Regiment.  Arthur served, at least latterly, as a Private, No: 31616 in the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment

The 8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Exeter on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and from a nucleus of officers and NCOs from the 1st Battalion, and were attached as Divisional Troops to 14th (Light) Division.  In May 1915 they left the Division and landed at Le Havre on 26 July 1915.  On 4 August 1915 they came under orders of the 20th Brigade, 7th Division.

If Arthur did serve in France and Flanders, in early 1917, then he may have been with the 8th Bn. in April 1917 during the Battle of Arras, when the Battalion attacked Ecoust with great success and light casualties, or a month later, when they captured part of Bullecourt at a very much higher cost.    In early October 1917 the 8th Battalion was near Passchendaele in the worst of the Third Battle of Ypres and on 26 October, an unsuccessful attack on Gheluvelt again led to heavy casualties.  Arthur could perhaps have been in a draft of reinforcements after any of these actions.

In May 1915, the Italians had entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria.  Commonwealth forces were later transferred to the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.   In March 1918, XIV Corps (the 7th, 23rd and 48th Divisions) relieved Italian troops on the front line between Asiago and Canove, the front being held by two Divisions, with one Division in reserve on the plain.[2]

It is quite possible that Arthur only joined the 8th Battalion in France, just in time for them to be transferred to Legnano, Italy, as part of the 7th Division in November 1917.  They were to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria/Hungary forces.  By the end of January 1918 the 8th Battalion was in Northern Italy on the Piave front.  Later, on 21 October 1918, the 7th and 23rd Divisions were sent to the Treviso area of the River Piave front, taking over the section of the front from Salletuol to Palazzon, and serving as part of the Italian Tenth Army.

On the night of 23 October, the 8th Bn. captured Papadopoli Island.  The main channel of the river Piave was crossed using small boats and the northern half of the island was occupied, this being completed two nights later by a combined Commonwealth and Italian force.  This was the start of the decisive Battle of Vittoria Veneto ‎[24 October – 4 November 1918] which resulted in the Austrians being forced back and an Armistice coming into effect on 4 November 1918.

After the capture of the island, the Allied attack east of the Piave began early in the morning of 27 October 1918.  The bridging of the river Piave proceeded rapidly, however the strength of the current meant that the two bridges built for the crossing were frequently broken and many men were drowned.  It seems most likely that Arthur Woodward was one of those men tragically drowned when a bridge broke – his family related that he drowned when in Italy.[3]

Arthur died, ‘aged 20’, on Sunday, 27 October 1918.  He was then in fact only some 18 years and 10 months old – and was still under the official age of 19 for service ‘abroad’.[4]  He was buried at the Tezze British Cemetery in Plot 6. Row B. Grave 4. Tezze Provincia di Treviso – Veneto Italy.

Tezze is a village in the Province of Treviso, a large town north of Venice.  The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915.  Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.  The village of Tezze was captured by the Austrians in the advance in the autumn of 1917 and remained in their hands until the Allied forces crossed the River Piave at the end of October 1918.  Many of those who died on the north-east side of the river during the Passage of the Piave are buried in Tezze British Cemetery.  It now contains 356 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

Arthur’s grave stone had the following inscription added by his family, ‘Until the Day Breaks & the Shadows Flee Away from Father, Mother & Bernard, Rugby’.  The contact for the next of kin was his mother, Mrs L Woodward, 39 Stephen Street, Rugby.

The Rugby Advertiser reported,
‘Pte A Woodward, Devonshire Regiment, son of Mr T Woodward, 39 Stephen Street, was killed in action on October 28th.  He was an old St Matthew’s boy, and before enlisting he was employed by Messrs Parnell & Son,’[5]

His death was also announced in the following January in the Coventry Evening Telegraph,
‘The Roll of Honour – Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included in the latest casualty lists:- Killed – Woodward, 31616. A. (Rugby) Devon Regt. …’.[6]

The Register of Effects suggests that his father received Arthur’s back pay of £4.16.11d on 29 March 1918, and his War Gratuity of £7 on 27 January 1920.  The official had given his date of death as 87.10.18, whilst the transcription read 8 October 1918!

Arthur WOODWARD was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

His mother, Agnes Lillian, died in 1946.  His father, Thomas Woodward, was one of the joiners who worked for J Parnell and Son of Rugby and who, in the early 1920s, helped to build Queen Mary’s Doll’s House at Windsor Castle.[7]  He died two years after his wife on 25 March 1948.

Arthur’s brother, Bernard Alfred Woodward, also served in WWI, joining up as a ‘young soldier’ at Budbrook on 17 January 1918.  His somewhat confused Service Record, which may include references to another soldier, has him posted as No:57031 to the 3rd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment and then as No:45669 in the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment and latterly as No:44808 in the 2nd/7th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment and attached to the 9th Worcesters.  It seems that he did go to France, and then from April to June 1918, he had 50 days in hospital with an injured left index finger at ‘Fargo SP’[8] at Larkhill, Wiltshire and this may have been the occasion when the Rugby Advertiser later in November 1918, advised that he had been wounded.[9]  He was not discharged until later in 1919.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Arthur WOODWARD was initiated by Janet Potter, a relative by marriage, and was further researched, with military additions, by John P H Frearson for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project.  It is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 21 December 1918

[2]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[3]      Information from Janet Potter, a member of the Rugby Family History Group, who relates that her husband, Tony Potter, also a member, was told that the Battalion were crossing a bridge which collapsed and Arthur was drowned.  Arthur’s younger brother Bernard was married to Maida, the sister of Lily Sarah (née Lowe), Tony Potter’s mother.  [ref: Emails: Janet Potter, 11 & 12 September 2018].

[4]      Official government policy was that you had to be 18 to sign up and 19 to fight overseas. In the early twentieth century most people didn’t have birth certificates, so it was easy to lie about your age.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 21 December 1918.

[6]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 8 January 1919.

[7]      Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House was built in the early 1920s, completed in 1924, for Queen Mary, the wife of King George V.

[8]      Fargo Camp (Larkhill) was a hospital established at the army base in Wiltshire.  It had 1037 beds.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

26th Oct 1918. The Influenza Epidemic.

THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC.

The Medical Officer of the Local Government Board has drawn up a Memorandum on Influenza, which is being circulated to local authorities. Emphasis is laid on the fact that control over the disease is only practicable by the active co-operation of each member of the community. This co-operation involves considerable self-denial on the part of affected persons.

Even experts find difficulty in defining influenza, and the medical profession is ignorant as to the causes which lead to the occasional world-wide spread of the disease, such as is now being experienced. The only safe rule is to regard all catarrhal attacks and every illness associated with rise of temperature during the prevalence of influenza as infectious, and to adopt appropriate precautionary measures. In present circumstances, to quote official advice, “ every patient who has a severe cold or fever should go to bed and stay there for three or four days.”

Unfortunately one attack of influenza does not confer any considerable immunity against repeated attack. Frequently the patient does not realise the serious nature of his illness for several days, and it is probable during the earlier stages that infection is chiefly spread. Compulsory notification is not regarded as likely to be of practical use in present circumstances.

RULES FOR PATIENTS.

The following measures for patients are officially recommended :—

Isolation.—If every person suffering from a fever, with or without catarrh, were willing and able to stay at home for a few days the spread of disease in factories and workshops, offices and shops, schools and other institutions would be greatly reduced.

Personal Precautions.—Avoid scattering infection in sneezing and coughing. Use a handkerchief to intercept drops of mucus ; the handkerchief should be boiled, or burnt if of paper. Expectoration should be received in a special receptacle, its contents being subsequently disinfected or burnt. General disinfection of premises after influenza is not required, but a thorough washing and cleaning of rooms and their contents and washing of articles of bedding or apparel is desirable.

Relapses—Influenza is very liable to relapse ; and pneumonia may occur as a late as well an early complication. Relapse is less likely if the patient goes to bed at once, and remains there till all fever has gone ; avoidance of chill or over-exertion during convalescence is also of great importance. The use of boracic and weak saline solution for frequent irrigation of the nasopharynx is recommended.

Nursing.—Satisfactory nursing is important in the prevention of complications and in aiding recovery from a severe attack.

A HEAVY DEATH-RATE.

Rugby, in common with the rest of the country, is in the grip of the influenza germ, and many hundreds of persons of all ages have affected. The epidemic is of a very virulent character, and in many cases has been followed by pneumonia. School children apparently fall easy victims to the germ, and so many little ones have been attacked that most of the schools in both Rugby and New Bilton have been closed.

The majority of Rugby doctors are away on active service, and those remaining in the town are working at exceptionally  high pressure ; and in several cases queues of people have formed up outside the surgery door. The shortage of nurses has also added to the difficulties in dealing with the epidemic, and on Wednesday an appeal was issued by the Urban District Council for voluntary helpers to undertake the duties of visiting the sick.

Since the outbreak assumed serious proportions—i.e, about October 14th, the death-rate of Rugby and New Bilton has been exceptionally high, and already eighteen deaths due to influenza and pneumonia have been recorded.

FUTURE FOOD SUPPLIES.
GREATER SELF DENIAL NEEDED.

All the informed opinion that can be tested agrees that the housewife’s difficulties may be even greater this winter than they were a year ago. Supplies, with care will be sufficient, but there will be nothing to spare. Meat will certainly be much scarcer, and the bread position is again causing anxiety. Up to the present we have avoided the rationing of bread in this country, and it is hoped that this state of things may continue. But that is by no means certain. Owing to bad weather, the yield of the home market has not come up to the expectations formed before it was gathered, and the statistics of consumption show a disquieting increase.

It must not be supposed because the War news is so good that our food difficulties are disappearing. Quite the contrary. There could be no improvement during this winter if the War were to end to-morrow, and those whose business it is to watch the situation all agree that there will be a world shortage of foodstuffs for at least two or three years after the War. Our position this winter is certainly no better, and will probably be worse, than that of last winter, and it will be much aggravated by the shortage of coal. We must try to get through this winter without calling on shipping at all for the importation of food. That is vital to the presence of such an overwhelming number of men of the Allied forces on the Continent by spring as will ensure the victorious and early end of the War. The men have to be brought across the Atlantic in ships, which cannot be used for other work at the same time. The warnings that economy in foodstuffs is necessary are very seriously meant.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Sec Lieut Ernest Thompson, R.G.A, Siege Battery, eldest son of Mr Edward Thompson, Head Master of East Haddon School, died of wounds in France on October 16. He was educated at the Northampton County School, and won one of the first Northants County Council Scholarships at Cambridge, where he had a very successful career, and secured an Open Scholarship. Five years ago he was appointed to the Head Mastership of a Secondary School in Norfolk. He had only been in France a fortnight when news was received of his death.

We regret to announce the death in action on Oct 8th of 2nd Lieut T S Owen, son of Mr H Starr Owen, of Drayton, Wylde Green. Sec Lieut Owen come to Rugby as a member of the local staff of Lloyds Bank in 1905, and resided at “ Belgrave,” Clifton Road. He was an enthusiastic sportsman and a member of the Dunsmore Golf Club, St Andrew’s Tennis Club, and the Hockey Club. He joined the Rugby Howitzer Battery immediately on the outbreak of war, and proceeded with them to France. when he served for two years. He came home on sick leaves and on re-joining the forces he was given a commission and posted to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He had only been in France about three weeks before his death.

Driver Harold Fredk Flowers, Mechanical Transport eldest son of Mr E Flowers, Vicarage Hill, Clifton, died of sickness in hospital at Birmingham on October 18th. He was 25 years of age, and had been wounded twice. He formerly worked at the B.T.H.

Pte Charles Sanderson, of the K.O.S.B, son of Mrs Sanderson, of 50 Lawford Road, New Bilton, has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery in the field. Pte Sanderson, before joining up, was in the employ of Messrs Parnell & Son for many years. He is serving in the K.O.S.B’s as a stretcher bearer.

Gunner A J Renshaw, late of the Howitzer Battery, is lying in hospital at Rouen dangerously wounded in both arms, both legs, and head. The left leg has been amputated. He has served 3½ years in France, and was with a Lancashire Battery  at the time of receiving his wounds. His relatives reside at 149 Oxford Street, Rugby.

WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINED.—On Saturday last the members of the Co-operative Women’s Guild invited wounded soldiers to a tea and entertainment. About 100 were present, and spent a most enjoyable time. After tea the programme was sustained by local artistes, and also some of the guests. The whole concluded with a dance.—Wounded soldiers were also entertained at the Church House on Saturday by members of the Women Workers’ Federation.

RUGBY TOWN HOSPITAL.—The wounded soldiers greatly appreciate the kindness of the ladies and gentlemen who each week provide them with such excellent concerts. For the one on Saturday last they were indebted to Mr F Giggs, who is always a favourite with the boys ; the Misses Shillitoe, Mr A Woodhams, Pte Foster, and Pte Thornley. On Wednesday evening the programme was sustained by Mr J T Clarke and a party of friends from the Congregational Church.

ABSENTEES.—At the Police Court on Thursday (before Mr A E Donkin), George Henry Websdale was charged with being an absentee.—P.S Hawkes said defendant was employed by Broncho Bill’s Wild West Show, and when witness asked him if he had any papers to show why he was not in the Army, he produced a discharge certificate, which had been altered in several instances.—Remanded to Petty Sessions.—Robert Yelding, equestrian, employed by the same company, was also remanded after evidence had been given by P.C Bryan.—Archibald Somerville, Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, and Driver Leonard Lee, 34 Sandown Road, Rugby, were also remanded to await escorts.

President Wilson has answered Germany in terms which completely clear the air. In effect, he offers her the alternatives, Fight or Surrender.

From Sunday. December 1st, until Saturday midnight, January 11th, all meat coupons will be available for the purchase of poultry—turkey or otherwise. A temporary rate of 3lbs of poultry per coupon has been fixed for this period, irrespective of the size of the bird.

NATIONAL SERVICE.—The boys of Elborow School have collected over 6cwt of blackberries, and have decided to hand over their earnings, which amount to £12, to the Rugby Prisoners of War Fund.

SHAWELL.
A VERY successful whist drive was held in the School room on Friday, October 18th, to provide Christmas presents for the soldiers, when the sum of £22 was realised.

STOCKTON.
THREE TIMES TORPEDOED.—Capt Lloyd, of the Mercantile Marine, who now holds a commission in the Navy, son of a former churchwarden of Stockton, paid a visit to the village last week. Capt Lloyd has had his share of exciting experiences, having been torpedoed three times. On the last occasion was in the water nine hours before being picked up.—An interesting letter has been received from our schoolmaster, Mr E K Steventon, who is now in France with a heavy battery.—A card has been received from Ernest Bayliss, of whom nothing had been heard for some time, stating that he is a prisoner in Germany.

WOLSTON.
GERMAN TREATMENT OF WOUNDED.—An ex-prisoner of war, belonging to the Royal Warwicks, who is now in Switzerland, writes to a Wolston resident —“ I was operated on last Friday. They took four pieces of bone away from my arm. Of course, they have opened all my arm again now. It is a nice big hole, I can tell you, but it will soon get better here (Switzerland). The bone is all smashed, and is about 2ins out of place from the shoulder. I shall never believe that a bullet did it. I shall always think they (the Germans) did it to cripple me while I was in Germany. They are terribly cruel. You would not believe half what anybody could tell you. It is the dirtiest and most uncivilised country under the sun. They try to cripple as many Tommies as they can, but still we keep on smiling. They think nothing of cutting a fellow open at an operation, or even legs and arms off without giving anything. I have seen several fellows having their fingers off in this way. I have had several slashes with the knife, so I know what it feels like. The worst of it was they only used to dress us once every five or six days, and then only used paper bandages, which stuck to our wounds, and they never cleaned it off.”

BRANDON.
WOUNDED.—Mr & Mrs Edward Healey, of Brandon, have received news that their son, Pte Arthur L Healey, has been wounded by a bullet in the left knee. He is making a good recovery.

WILLOUGHBY.
ROLL OF HONOUR.—News has been received of the death in action on October 3rd of Rifleman W B Hakesley, of the 15th Royal Irish Rifles, son of Mr and Mrs G Hakesley. Deceased joined up in 1915, and this was  his third visit to the front, where he had been gassed once and wounded twice. He was killed instantaneously by a piece of shell. Deep sympathy is felt for his bereaved parents and friends. The Captain of his Company writes expressing their sorrow at losing so good a comrade.—Mr A Drinkwater has received also official news that his son, Corporal Howard Drinkwater, was killed in action on September 29th. He joined up in 1915, and did duty at the Dardanelles. From thence he went to Egypt, where he did duty until June of this year, and on coming across on his first leave the ship he was on, Leo Castle, was torpedoed. After having his leave he returned to France, and the first time he went into action he was killed instantaneously by an H.E shell. The Sergeant of his section writes: “ He was in command of a gun and team of five men: We had taken up our position during the night of the 28th and 29th, and dug ourselves in, a few shells falling around us at the time. This continued all the day (the 29th). The shell, an H.E, dropped right in his trench amongst six of them, killing three and wounding three, about 2.30 p.m. All the boys wish to express their deepest sympathy with you in your great loss. Your son was so bright and cheery. I was thinking myself lucky when he was posted to my section, and I feel his loss very much.”

BRETFORD.
ROLL OF HONOUR.—Mrs. W Clarke received news in March that her husband, Pte Wm Clarke, was missing. She has now received a letter from Pte A R Harrison, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, whose home is at Leamington, stating that he saw him killed at Fayet near St Quentin. He was badly gassed in the morning, and later in the day he saw him killed by a bullet. Pte Clarke, before joining the Army in June, 1916, was an employee at Messrs Bluemel’s Works, Wolston, for many years. He proceeded to the front in September, 1916, and saw much fighting until invalided home with dysentry in 1917. As soon as he was convalescent he returned to France. Deceased was very much respected by the inhabitants of Bretford. He leaves a widow and four children. His parents are well-known inhabitants of Wolston.—News has reached Bretford that Pte F Huby died in hospital at Newcastle-on-Tyne last week. Deceased was a cousin of the late Pte W Clarke, with whom he resided at Bretford before the War. As soon as hostilities broke out deceased volunteered for active service, but was rejected owing to chest measurement. He tried a second time, but with the same result, but was eventually accepted under the Derby Scheme. He enlisted in May, 1916, in the 7th Royal Warwicks, and went over to France in the following August. He soon met with disaster, being buried in a trench, from which he was rescued with difficulty. He was sent home with dysentry and shell shook at the end of the year. Deceased was about to embark again when illness supervened, and paralysis set in. His death was caused from shell shock and exposure. He was a liberal subscriber to several war charities before going out, and was well liked by all who knew him. In civil life he was a clerk at Coventry Ordnance. His funeral took place at Leicester, where he was buried with full military honours.

DEATHS.

ENSOR.— Killed in action on September 21st, ERNEST JAMES, third son of William and Emily Ensor and beloved husband of Agnes Ensor, of 41 Highbury Place, London, N. ; aged 27. Also in loving memory of WILLIAM ALFRED, second son of the above, killed in October, 1916. “ Farewell, loved ones, until the morning.”

FLOWER.—In loving memory of Pte. H. F. FLOWER, who died in Birmingham Military Hospital on October 18th, 1918, eldest son of Mr. E. Flower, 18 Vicarage Hill, Clifton, aged 25 years.

OWEN.—Killed in action, on 8th inst., 2nd Lieut. T. S. OWEN, Royal Welsh Fusiliers (formerly of Lloyd’s Bank, Rugby), son of H. Starr Owen, of Drayton, Wylde Green.

RIDOUT.—At Anstruther Farm, Anstruther, on October 12th, the residence of his sister, WILLIAM RIDOUT, aged 28, late Sergeant, 10th Batt., R.W.R., late of Dunchurch.

SARGENT.—In loving memory of Pte. A. H. SARGENT, Barby, of the D.C.L.I., killed in action on October 23rd in France.
“ We loved him in life, and we love him still ;
But in grief we must bend to God ? Holy Will.”
— From his Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

IN MEMORIAM.

BATCHELOR.—In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. ERNEST ANDREW BATCHELOR, of 10th Worcesters Regt., killed in action on October 24, 1916, aged 29 years.
“ God knows how much we miss him,
More than loving words can tell.
Not a day have we forgotten him
Since he bade us his last farewell.
Daily in our minds we miss him
As we did in days of yore,
But some day we hope to meet him
On that bright and golden shore.”
—Deeply mourned by his sorrowing Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.

BEASLEY.—In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. CLEMENT FELL BEASLEY, Rose Cottage, Napton, of the 14th R.W.R., who was killed in action east of Gheluvelt, near Ypres, October 26, 1917.
“ One year has passed since that sad day
When he we loved was called away.
A loving son and faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother.
He bravely answered Duty’s call,
And gave his young life for one and all.
Some may think that we forget him
When at times they see us smile,
But they little know the sorrow
Which is hid behind that smile.
He is gone but not forgotten—
Oh dear. no ! not one so dear.
He is gone safe home to Heaven,
And we hope to meet him there.”
—From his ever loving Mother, Father, Sisters, and Brothers.

BEASLEY.—In loving memory of our dear brother, Pte. C. BEASLEY, killed in action “ somewhere in France,” October 26, 1917.
“ When last they saw his smiling face
He looked so strong and brave ;
He little thought how soon he’d be
Laid in a soldier’s grave.”
—From Horace, Alice, and his niece Mary.

BEASLEY.—In fond and ever-loving memory of our dear brother, Pte. C. BEASLEY, killed in action on October 26, 1917 ; aged 27 years.
“ A day of remembrance sad to recall :
The loss of our dear one, loved by us all.
We think of him in silence, and his name we oft recall,
But there is nothing left but his photo on the wall.
Fondly we loved him, he is as dear to us still ;
But in grief we must bend to God’s Holy Will.
If we could have raised his dying head or heard his last farewell,
The grief would not have been so hard for us that loved him well.”
—From his sorrowing sister Nance, brother Albert in Germany, and his two little Nephews.

COLLINS.—In ever loving memory of our dear son, Pte. A. W. COLLINS, who was killed in action in France on October 26, 1917, aged 29 years.
“ We pictured his safe returning,
We longed to clasp his hand,
But God postponed it otherwise,
Till we meet in the promised land.”
—Never forgotten by his Father, Mother, Brother and Sisters, of 45 New St., New Bilton.

DUCKETT.—In loving memory of my dear son, Pte. TOM F. DUCKETT, who was killed in action somewhere in France on October 26, 1917.
“ One year has passed, but oh, I miss him ;
Some may think the wound has healed,
But they little know the sorrow
Deep within my heart concealed.”
A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of very last towards his mother.”
—Deeply mourned by his loving mother, and brother Charlie.

FRENCH.—In loving memory of my late husband, Pte. J. FRENCH, R.W.R., of Long Itchington, who was killed in action on October 26, 1917.
“ When last we saw his smiling face,
He looked so strong and brave ;
We little thought how soon he would be
Laid in a soldier’s grave.
He bravely answered duty’s call,
He bravely fought and fell ;
He did his best for one and all,
And those who loved him well.”
— From his loving Wife and Children and Mother and Father.

GOODWIN.—In loving memory of Pte. ALBERT GOODWIN, aged 21 years, of B Company, 2nd Royal Warwicks, who was killed somewhere in France on or about October 24, 1914, eldest son of Ex-P.S. Goodwin.
—Sadly missed by his loving Father, Mother, Sisters and Brothers.

HARDMAN.—In loving memory of Pte. W. HARDMAN, of the 15th R.W.R., of 9 James Street, who died of wounds received in action on October 28th, 1917. Interred in the Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, France.
“ Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Tears in silence often flow,
Thinking of the day we lost him,
Just a year ago.
Too far away thy grave to see.
But not too far to think of thee.”
—From his loving Mother, Father, Sisters and Brothers.

MILLS.—In loving memory of Bombardier J. M. MILLS, of the R.F.A (of Marton), killed in action on October 23, 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, dear Mawby, thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.”
—From his loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters, and godson, Little Bertie.

MILLS.—In memory of comrade and friend, No 11685 Bombardier J. M. MILLS, R.F.A., killed in action in Flanders on October 23, 1917.—11688 Corpl. A. E. Clarke, R.F.A., B.E.F.

Palmer, Henry Joseph. Died 24th Oct 1918

Henry Joseph PALMER was born on 22 December 1898 in Bicester, Oxfordshire and registered there in Q1, 1899.  He was baptised at Bicester parish church on 30 April 1899, when the family were living at St John Street, Bicester.  He was the son of James Arthur Palmer, (b.c.1866 in Hethe, near Bicester – d.c.1932 in Rugby), and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, née Edridge, Palmer (b.c.1867, in Bicester – d.c.1943 in Rugby).

By 1901, Henry was 2, and not long after he was born  the family had moved to Rugby and were now living at 35 Victoria Avenue, Bilton.  His father was a ‘moulder’s labourer’.

In 1911, when Henry, now known as ‘Harry’, was 12, the family was living at 32 Worcester Street, Rugby.  His father was now a ‘machine moulder’.  All six of the Palmer children were at home that night, as well as a four year old niece and a border.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Henry, and the only information is from his Medal Card and a listing in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’.[1]

Henry joined up in Leamington Spa,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 42159.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 2nd/6th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date when he went to France on his Medal Card, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up and when he had reached the required age at about the end on 1916.

The 2nd/6th Battalion of the R.War.R. had formed in Birmingham in October 1914,[3] and when the 1st South Midland Division went to France, the 2nd took its place at Chelmsford with role in Home Defence.  The strength of the unit fluctuated as they were drawn upon for drafts for the 1st-Line battalions.  In August 1915 the division was numbered as the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and the brigade became the 182nd (2nd Warwickshire) Brigade.  In February and March 1916 they moved to Salisbury Plain for final training.  The division moved to France, arriving by 28 May 1916.

The 2nd/6th Bn’s first action was the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, a diversionary attack in support of the Somme Offensive.  The attack was badly handled and casualties were heavy.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.  Thereafter, the battalion was involved in the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai: German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.  Due to the manpower shortage being suffered by the BEF, on 20 February 1918, the 2nd/6th Bn. received men from the disbanded 2nd/5th Royal Warwicks.

On the day before the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael[4], the 61st Division was just north of St Quentin when 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks was ordered to raid the enemy line Cepy Farm and obtained prisoners from three regiments and two separate divisions, indicating that the German lines were packed ready for an attack early the following morning, 21 March.  Unfortunately, this information was not widely disseminated before the Battle of St Quentin began.

The front held by 61st Division opposite St Quentin was one of the few sectors where the attackers were delayed.  Redoubts held out for most of the day and the Battle Zone was successfully held by 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks and four other battalions.  Unfortunately, the neighbouring battalions were driven back and the 2nd/6th Bn. was ordered to retire.  It was then involved in the Actions to defend the Somme Crossings on 24-25 March.  The Division was relieved on 27 March and taken north to make a counter-attack the following day at Lamotte near Villers-Bretonneux.  This attack was shot down yards from the objective and the exhausted remnants were finally pulled out of the line on 30 March.

During the rest of Spring 1918 the battalion was involved in the Battle of the Lys, the Battle of Estaires, 11 April, when the 61st Division arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the 51st (Highland) Division; Battle of Hazebrouck, 12-15 April; and the Battle of Béthune, 18 April.

In the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, the 61st Division was committed to minor operations during the pursuit to the Haute Deule Canal.  On 1 October, 182nd Bde, including the 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks and the 184th Bde attacked behind a deep barrage against little resistance and then followed the German rearguards over broken ground well beyond the original objectives.

The Battalion then went into reserve until the Battle of the Selle on 24 October, when it was ordered to cross the Ecaillon stream.  2nd/6th and 2nd/7th Royal Warwicks got into trouble here, because there was uncut barbed wire on both sides of the stream that had been missed by the barrage.  Only a few men were able to struggle across and maintain themselves against counter-attacks for the rest of the day.

In this period, the three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  During the night of 23/24 October, the 61st Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon the following day.

The Battalion War Diary[5] for this period can be found with the Diaries of the 61st Division.  The activities of the Battalion in October 1918 can perhaps best provide information as to Henry’s likely whereabouts and the occasion when he was wounded, leading to his death.

On 2 October the 182nd Infantry Brigade was relieved by the 178th Infantry Brigade, and went into billets at TREIZENNES, for re-equiping and training.  The Battalion moved by train to billets at GEZAINCOURT.  After two days rest and training the Battalion moved by rail and route march into reserve S.W. of MOEUVRES.  On 10 October they moved by route march to ANNEUX.  Apart from finding a working party, they were training until 18 October when they marched to billets S.W. of CAMBRAI, and the next day marched to RIEUX for further training until 22 October when they moved to MONTRECOURT WOOD prior to relieving the 9th Welch just west of VENGEGIES, on 23 October.

24 October – 04.00 – Under cover of artillery barrage, the village of VENDEGIES was attacked and the river ECAILLON crossed, but the Battalion had to withdraw West of the river, owing to strong enemy resistance.  Fighting continued through the day, and at about 18.00 hours the enemy withdrew.  The village was occupied immediately.  Casualties sustained 5 Officers, 182 O.R.

Henry was most likely one of those 182 O.R. casualties, assuming he was wounded in the attacks on 24 October 1918.  He was probably carried back about 10 miles to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations established in the rear, at Awoingt, near Cambrai, where he died of his wounds on the same day, Thursday, 24 October 1918.  He was 19 years old.

He was buried in the Awoingt British Cemetery, which was adjacent to the Casualty Clearing Stations, in grave reference: I. C. 18.

Awoingt is a village some 3 Kms east-south-east of Cambrai, in Nord, France.  Awoingt British Cemetery was begun in the latter half of October 1918 and used until the middle of December; the village had been captured on 9/10 October.  By 28 October, the 38th, 45th and 59th Casualty Clearing Stations were posted in the neighbourhood, and the great majority of the burials were made from those hospitals.[6]

An inscription was added to his memorial by the family, ‘We Miss Him Most Who Loved Him Best God Grant To Him Eternal Rest’, and his father’s name was given as ‘Mr J A Palmer, 32 Worcester Street, Rugby.’

Henry Joseph Palmer’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby and he is also remembered on a family grave ref: M101, in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Two days after Henry’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The 100 days’ advance continued and only two weeks after Henry’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Henry Joseph PALMER 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, August 2018.

[1]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[3]      Greater detail can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6th_Battalion,_Royal_Warwickshire_Regiment, from which this summary was prepared.

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

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[6]      Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/59900/awoingt-british-cemetery/.

Oldham, Henry John. Died 24th Oct 1918

Henry John (Harry) Oldham, was born in Long Lawford and his birth was registered in Rugby in late 1893.  He was the son of Stephen, b.c.1868, and Anne Maria, b.c.1858 née Marshall, Oldham.  Stephen was a ‘stationary engine driver at the cement works’ – presumably the nearby Rugby Portland Cement Company.

Harry was baptised at Newbold on Avon on 31 December 1893 and in 1901 the family was living in Main Street, Long Lawford.  There were then six children: Charles Victor Oldham, 13; Walter Fretter Oldham, 11; Stephen James Oldham, 8; Henry John Oldham, 7; William Edger Oldham, 4; and Arthur Lake Oldham, 4 months.

In 1911 Frank was 17 and single and still living with his family at 110 Main Street, Long Lawford, Rugby.  He was working as an Iron Moulder.  His home address would later be noted as 33 Stephen Street, Rugby.

He enlisted in Rugby as a Private No.42268, in the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Harry Oldham

The 2nd/7th Battalion of the RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion, and together with the Birmingham recruited 2/6 Bn. became part of 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division in the Northampton area.  They moved to Chelmsford area in March 1915.  In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, and went to train on Salisbury Plain in March 1916.  They landed in France on 21 May 1916.[1]

Harry’s Medal Card has no date when he went to France, suggesting that it was after 1915 as there was no necessity to prove the need to award a 1915 Star.  His army number suggests that he may have enlisted in about early to mid 1916.

Harry would probably have been involved in a number of actions in 1916 to 1918, and details of the 61st Division’s war can be found in the War Diaries and on the web.[2]  That said, from 1916 the 2/7th RWR were active in many campaigns and further details can be found on the interactive maps on the Web.[3]

Their actions included the attack at Fromelles, a diversionary attack during the Somme offensive (19 July 1916); Operations on the Ancre at Grandcourt following the halt to the Somme offensive (11 january 1917); the German retreat/strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March 1917); the Battles of Ypres –  Pond Farm (18 August 1917); the Battle of Langemarck (18 August 1917); the Battle of Cambrai, German Counter-Attacks (01 December 1917); the Battle of St. Quentin at the opening of the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’ (21 March 1918); the various Battles of the Lys – the Battles of Estaires (11 April 1918); Hazebrouck (12 April 1918) and Bethune (18 April 1918)

In October 1918 as part of the final advance in Picardy and the Battle of the Selle (24 October 1918) when a night attack by Third and First Armies took high ground to the east of the River Selle and having allowed time for the supporting heavy artillery to catch up, all three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  61st (2nd South Midland) Division transferred to XVII Corps, Third Army in mid-October, and during the night of 23/24 October, the Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon (L’Écaillon) the following day.

The 2/7th Warwicks had just come from a few days in billets at Rieux (south of Cambrai) and moved towards the village of Sommaing with the objective to take the village.[4]

The entry in the Battalion War Diary for 24 October 1918 recounts:

October 24th 1918  –  Assembly reported complete at 0315.  At 0400 Battalion advanced towards village of SOMMAING – Left Battalion boundary P18 a67 – Q7 a65 – Q2688; Right Battalion boundary Q13 c96 – Q13 b92; Inter Company boundary Q8 d32 – Q8 b72 – Q 9 a19 – Q4 a21.  10th Brigade (4th Div) on our left, 2/6 R WAR R on our right.

Attack was preceded by artillery barrage. Z Coy on left got across river ECALLION quite well but met with MG fire and also a good deal of wire defences but pushed forward and reached a further defence system in Q7b which was very strong with front and support trenches and communication trenches.

X Coy in support came up against much greater resistance; river being heavily wired on both banks. On the enemy side were a considerable number of MG posts.  They managed to cross river to the strength of a platoon but came under counter attack and withdrew to a line on Q13b on the rear slope of ridge with two forward posts at Q13 b92.  W Coy advanced in support of Z Coy on left and established three posts in front of village but owing to misunderstanding, Z Coy had withdrawn across river and of village. Information of these three posts did not come through in time to be of any use.  Y Coy had advanced in support of X Coy but without any success.

1000 hours – Z, W and Y now reorganised and pushed forward from P18 b94 towards the village. Position remained like this till 1645.

1645 hours – At this time, the 2/8 WORCESTERS passed through us and reached MUR COPSE Q7a which had been cleared earlier by the 4th Division.  From line they advanced from NW to SE direction. The 184 Brigade at the same time pushing up from SE of VENDEGIES.  All Coys now pushed forward in support of WORCESTERS.

October 25th 1918 – SOMMAING now clear of enemy and Brigade objective reached on a line running from NE corner of MUR COPSE to Q8 a92.  TRENCH STATE: 22 officer, 503 other ranks.

CASUALTIES – 2/LT R W LEEDAM (killed), LT E H HUMBY, 2/LT H S THOMAS, 2/LT W E SILVESTER all wounded; 2/LT F CASSELL gassed. Other ranks 198.

CAPTURES: about 150 prisoners, 1 77mm field gun, 9 M Guns, 1 anti tank rifle

Harry would have been one of the 198 casualties on 24 October 1918.

He was Killed in Action, but his body was recovered and buried in Plot A. 3. at the Canonne Farm British Cemetery, Sommaing.  Sommaing is a village a little north of the Chaussee Brune-haut road which runs from Cambrai to Villers Pol.  The graves in Canonne Farm British Cemetery all date from the period 22 October to 7 November 1918.  The cemetery contains 65 First World War burials, one of which is unidentified.

27 members of the R.W.R are buried in the cemetery, and as no other R.W.R. deaths are recorded on that date, it seems that the remainder of the 198 casualties from the attack on Sammaing were either wounded or missing, presumed killed.

Harry’s Executor was his eldest brother, Walter Fretter Oldham, who received payments as ‘Brother and sole executor, Walter,’ of £4-2-3d on 24 April 1919 and later a gratuity of £3-0-0d on 12 December 1919.  Probate was also granted to ‘Walter Fretter Oldham, Coremaker’ at Birmingham on 19 February 1919 for £164-17-6d.

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

In 1921, there was an ‘In Memoriam’ published in the Rugby Advertiser
‘Oldham – In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother, Harry Oldham, of 33 Stephen Street, killed in action October 24th, 1918. ‘He lives with us in memory still, and with us evermore.’ –  From his loving Mother and Brothers.’

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

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

[1]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk, supplemented by info from http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment012.htm.

[2]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[3]      https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/maps/units/4736/182nd-infantry-brigade/27th-battalion/

[4]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/ – together with quote from War Diary, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

Collins, Samuel Charles. Died 24th Oct 1918

Samuel Charles COLLINS was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in about 1895 and his birth was registered there with those names in Q4, 1895.  He was the eldest son of George Thomas Collins (b.c.1874 in Stapleford, Nottingham) and Louisa Annie, née Annis, Collins (b.c.1875 in Titchmarsh, Northampton).  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1895, in Basford, Nottinghamshire.

From the birth records of their other children it seems that the family moved to Long Eaton, Derbyshire before 1898; then to Radford, Nottingham by 1900; and before 1904 to Rugby.  Indeed, Charles, as he was more commonly known, would have six younger brothers by 1911, and two siblings had died before that date.

In 1901, the family was still living in Nottingham at 49 Salisbury Street.  Charles’s father was a ‘cycle fitter’.  It is likely that his father was one of many workers who came to work in Rugby at the expanding British Thompson Houston works in the years immediately before the war.  By 1911, the family was living at 26 Abbey Street, Rugby and Charles was 16 and an ‘Apprentice Engineering’, probably at the B.T.H. works as he was working for them before the war.  His father had moved from the mechanisms of bicycles to become a ‘Fitter Electrical Engineering’, most likely also for B.T.H..

It is not known exactly when Charles joined up, however it must have been fairly early in the war, as his Medal Card states that he went to France on 31 March 1915, and thus qualified for the 1914-15 Star.  He was known to the army as Charles Collins.  The card shows that he was in a Territorial battery of the Royal Field Artillery and he initially had the number 99.  His entry on the Medal Roll states ‘RFA.T.99.Gnr.’.

This early form of number, suggested that he was already a member of the local 1st/1st Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery (Territorial Forces).    Another Rugby casualty, Thomas J Smith,[1] who also worked at B.T.H. was in this unit and also joined up early.  He was a Corporal, No.187 – also a very early number.  Thomas Smith was wounded and died of his wounds on 21 March 1918.

Charles Collins was confirmed as a member of the 4th South Midland (Howitzer), 243 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 5th Rugby Battery, by a list in the papers of Frank West,[2] which included,

Collins, S. C., 99, Gnr, “K” [killed]’ and also included his details from the CWGC site

From the same papers, the 5th Battery, 243, Transfer List, May 1916’ listed: ‘99  Gnr Collins, C.’, as one of the men and officers from the 5th Rugby Battery of the South Midland 243 Brigade who were transferred to become the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of 241 Brigade in May 1916.[3]

It seems that in the 1916 reorganisations of the Royal Field Artillery, Charles Collins was transferred, at least latterly, into the ‘D’ Battery, 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 840100.[4]  As this Brigade’s Division did not go to France until early 1916, Charles who was already in France, probably joined them to provide more experienced men, and it was perhaps in the 1916 reorganisations, that he was promoted to Lance Bombardier.

A note on the renumbering gives some confirmatory information.

These “long” [six figure] numbers came into use on 1 January 1917, even though the men on active service to whom they were allocated were by that time in other Brigades. … Sampling the medal cards shows that some of the men with lower service numbers on this list who usually have short service numbers too, went out to France when the 4th South Midland Brigade was first sent overseas, arriving in France, 31 March 1915.  … All men who served overseas before the end of 1915 received the 1915 Star and the qualifying date is often marked on their medal cards.

This date 31 March 1915, agrees with the date of entry to France on Charles’s Medal Card – and confirms that he was originally with the 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

In May 1916, before the Battle of the Somme, the Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered. The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade, but its men were scattered, and that is presumably when Charles was posted to the 161st (Yorkshire) Brigade in the 32nd Division.

The ‘CLXI’ or 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, was initially in the 31st Division from its formation in April-May 1915 and designated the ‘Yorkshire’.  It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.  They left this Division on 2 December 1915, and joined 32nd Division in the New Year 1916.[5]

In November 1915, the 32nd Division had received a warning order to prepare to sail for France.  However, unless Charles had leave or returned to UK for any reason, he would have joined them at some later date in France.

The 32nd Division remained on the Western Front for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:[6]

1916 – Battles of the Somme 1916: the Battle of Albert (1-13 July 1916); the Battle of Bazentin; the Battle of the Ancre.  In 1917 – Operations on the Ancre; the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.  1918 – The First Battle of Arras, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert and the Battle of Bapaume, both were phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of the St Quentin Canal and the Battle of Beaurevoir, both being phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line; and after Charles’s death, the Battle of the Sambre, including the passage of the Oise-Sambre Canal, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.

These many battles would have involved considerable movement of the artillery brigades, and many of the places where the 161st Brigade was in action can be found listed in the Brigade War Diary.[7]  They have also been abstracted and can be found in a posting on the Great War Forum.[8]

The activities of the 161st Brigade in the last month of Charles’s life have been examined, and it is uncertain when he may have been wounded.  During October they were some 10 km. north-east of Saint Quentin and some 20 km. south-east of Cambrai, providing artillery support for ongoing attacks eastwards towards Joncourt, Ramicourt, Brancourt-le-Grand, and Beauregard.

The Diary does not provide daily casualty numbers, but summarises them for the month.  In October 1918, 52 men were wounded, eight being from Charles’s ‘D’ Howitzer Battery.

It is not known whether Charles was one of the eight wounded that month, or whether he had been wounded earlier.  He was certainly evacuated a considerable distance, some 200 kms, presumably to one of the military hospitals at Le Treport on the coast just north of Dieppe as he died from his wounds, on the 24 October 1918, either at Le Treport, or on his way to a hospital there.

He was buried in Plot ref: VII. J. 3A. at the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, and was identified in the CWGC records as ‘Samuel Charles Collins’.  The family message on the gravestone reads ‘A NOBLE SON’.

Le Treport is a small seaport 25 kilometres north-east of Dieppe, France.  During the First World War, it  was an important hospital centre and by July 1916, the town contained three general hospitals (the 3rd, 16th and 2nd Canadian), No.3 Convalescent Depot and Lady Murray’s B.R.C.S. Hospital.  The 7th Canadian, 47th and 16th USA General Hospitals arrived later, but all of the hospitals had closed by March 1919.  As the original military cemetery at Le Treport filled, it became necessary to use the new site at Mont Huon.  There are now 2,128 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and also more than 200 German war graves.  The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

There were no obvious death notices or obituaries in the Rugby Advertiser, however, his death was noted in the Birmingham Daily Post.

R.F.A. – Collins, 840100, Lce.-bdr. C. (Rugby).[9]

As Charles Collins, he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and also the 1914-15 Star.   He is also remembered as C S COLLINS on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also as C S Collins on both the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[10] 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Samuel Charles COLLINS was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, May 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/smith-thomas-j-l-died-21st-mar-1918/.

[2]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[3]      From an Appendix to the War Diary of 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery for May 1916, WO 95/2749.

[4]      His number, starting 840***, is compatible with the renumbering of members of the 4th South Midland Brigade. … In 1917 service numbers beginning 840*** were allocated to men who trained in it, just as they were to those already serving at the front.  When posted to the front most of the later recruits with 840*** numbers served with other artillery units.

[5]      Mostly from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/royal-field-artillery-brigades/.

[6]      Information from: http://glesgakeelie.proboards.com/thread/2215/32nd-division.

[7]      The War Diary is at TNA ref: WO95/2380 and runs from January 1916 to October 1919.  Ref: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, 32nd Division, Piece 2380/4: 161 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, (1916 Jan – 1919 Oct).

[8]      A note by ‘Scott’ at https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/131297-32nd-division-161st-yorkshire-brigade-a-battery/, 23 October 2009.

[9]      Birmingham Daily Post, Saturday, 7 December 1918.

[10]     This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

Clements, Frederick C. Died 24th Oct 1918

Very little was found initially to connect Frederick C CLEMENTS to Rugby – until he was found remembered on his brother’s CWGC headstone in the Clifton Road Cemetery.

He was the son of Charles Edwin, [b.c. 19 April 1866 in Wing, Buckinghamshire] and Mary Ellen, née Lee, Clements [b.c. 1865 in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire], who were married on 28 December 1891 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

It would seem that Mary Ellen and her parents, Frederick who was born in Hillmorton, and Jane Lee had lived in Rugby at least from 1864 when Mary’s sister, Minnie, was born there and in 1871 and 1881, when they were living at 768 Old Station, Rugby.  In 1881, Mary Ellen was 21.  Mary Ellen would return to Rugby in 1893 to have their first child, Eustace E Clements.

Frederick, also known as Freddy, was born in 1897 in Roade St Mary, Northamptonshire, and the family were still living there in 1901, with children: Eustace E Clements, 8; Dorothy Clements, 6; Freddy Clements, 3; and Oscar Clements, 2.

Before 1911, the family had moved to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 33 Winfield Street, Clifton Road, Rugby.  Charles was working as a Railway Signal Fitter for the LNWR.  Young Frederick was 13 and still at school, whilst his elder brother, Eustace, now aged 18 was at work, as a ‘fitter’s apprentice’, also with the LNWR.

It is possible that Frederick later worked at BTH as three F Clements are remembered as having served: –
Clements F. Commercial Stores Rugby
Clements F. Export Dept., Rugby Private Royal Warwick – [the correct Regiment].
Clements F.C. Drawing Office Rugby Sapper Royal Engineers

However there is only a ‘CLEMENTS, Frank’ recorded on the BTH memorial, who could have been any of these – and perhaps this was how Frederick or Freddy was known!

There is a Medal Card for a Frederick C Clements, in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and a CWGC entry and information that match – it may not be any of the F or F C Clements of BTH above.  However the listing found on his brother’s memorial confirms that he is the appropriate soldier to be remembered.

Frederick probably enlisted in Rugby, as Private No.307487, in the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He would later be promoted to Corporal.

The 2nd/7th Battalion of the RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion, and together with the Birmingham recruited 2/6 Battalion became part of 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division in the Northampton area.  They moved to Chelmsford area in March 1915.  In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division, and went to train on Salisbury Plain in March 1916.  They landed in France on 21 May 1916.[1]

Frederick’s Medal Card has no date when he went to France, suggesting that this was after 1915 as there was no necessity to prove the need to award a 1915 Star.  His six figure army number seems to be a later one, so that he may have gone to France anytime after early to mid 1916.  However, as he was not born until 1898, unless he lied about his age, he would not have reached the necessary age of 18 until sometime in 1916.

Frederick could have been involved in a number of actions in 1916 to 1918, and details of the 61st Division’s war can be found in the War Diaries and on the web.[2]  That said, from 1916 the 2/7th RWR were active in many campaigns and further details can also be found on the interactive maps on the Web.[3]

Actions included the attack at Fromelles, a diversionary attack during the Somme offensive (19 July 1916); operations on the Ancre at Grandcourt following the halt to the Somme offensive (11 January 1917); the German retreat / strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March 1917); the Battles of Ypres –  Pond Farm (18 August 1917); the Battle of Langemarck (18 August 1917); the Battle of Cambrai, German Counter-Attacks (1 December 1917); the Battle of St. Quentin at the opening of the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’ (21 March 1918); the various Battles of the Lys – the Battles of Estaires (11 April 1918); Hazebrouck (12 April 1918) and Bethune (18 April 1918)

In October 1918 as part of the final advance in Picardy and the Battle of the Selle (24 October 1918) when a night attack by Third and First Armies took high ground to the east of the River Selle and having allowed time for the supporting heavy artillery to catch up, all three British Armies were able to continue their advance, taking nearly 20,000 prisoners in one week.  61st (2nd South Midland) Division transferring to XVII Corps, Third Army in mid-October.

During the night of 23 / 24 October the Division relieved 19th Division east of Haussy to continue the advance across the River Écaillon (L’Écaillon) the following day.  The 2/7th Warwicks had just come from a few days in billets at Rieux (south of Cambrai) and moved towards the village of Sommaing with the objective to take the village.[4]

However, whilst his fellow 2/7th Battalion comrade, from Rugby, Harry Oldham, who was Killed in Action on 24 October 1918 was buried nearby in the Canonne Farm British Cemetery at Sommaing, Frederick Clements who died on the same day, was buried near to Berlin. That cemetery includes a great many casualties ‘concentrated’ from smaller cemeteries in Germany, many associated with prisoner of war camps or work camps. Towards the end of the war, the British blockade was leaving the Germans short of food, and in turn the prisoners were on starvation rations.[5]  Earlier wounds, poor food and the cold led to considerable numbers of deaths in these camps.

This would suggest that Frederick had been captured some time, perhaps a considerable time,  before 24 October 1918, during one of the Battalion’s earlier actions, and then been transported back to a German POW camp, where  he later died on 24 October 1918.  He was probably buried in the local POW camp cemetery.  It was these smaller cemeteries that were concentred to the Berlin South-Western Cemetery, at Stahnsdorf.

Frederick Clements is now buried in the Berlin South-Western Cemetery, Brandenburg, Germany, in grave reference: X. C. 3., being one of 1175 casualties.  The cemetery is in the village of Stahnsdorf which lies approx 22kms south west of Berlin and approx 14kms to the east of Potsdam.

Frederick was awarded the Victory and British medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also in Rugby’s Clifton cemetery in plot J192, on the CWGC headstone of his elder brother, Gunner Eustace Edwin/Edward Clements  Service Number, 1679, who died soon after his younger brother on 12 November 1918, aged 24, and was buried in Clifton Cemetery, Rugby.  The inscription included on that headstone reads: ‘Also in Memory of 307487 Corporal F. Clements Royal Warwickshire Regt. 24.10.18.’

It was that inscription that allowed Frederick Clements and his family to be identified.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick C Clements was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, November 2017.

[1]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk, supplemented by info from http://battlefields1418.50megs.com/regiment012.htm.

[2]      http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[3]      https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/maps/units/4736/182nd-infantry-brigade/27th-battalion/

[4]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/ – together with quote from War Diary, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

[5]      Van Emden, Richard, Prisoners of the Kaiser, the last POWs of the Great War, Pen & Sword, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-848840-78-2.