Meddows, Harold Thomas, Died 26th Mar 1919

Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was born in 1898 in Newbold-on-Avon, Rugby; registered in Q2, 1898; and baptised in Newbold, on 22 May 1898.  He was the fourth of five sons of William Henry Meddows (b.c.1863 in Newbold) and Mary Ann, née Sharp, Meddows (b.c.1861 in Copston, Leicesteshire).  They had married on 21 August 1888 at St Oswald’s church, New Bilton.

In 1891, William Henry Meddows was a ‘Carrier and Post Office keeper’ at the Old Woodyard in Newbold on Avon, and by 1901, his son Harold was three years old.  The family was living in Newbold at the Grocers shop, where his father, William Henry, was both the ‘Postmaster and Grocer’.  Harold’s mother, Mary Ann, was the Post Mistress.

In 1903 Harold’s mother died, and she was buried on 12 March 1903 in St. Botolph’s churchyard, Newbold on Avon, leaving children aged from 2 to 13 years of age.  In 1911 the family were still living in Newbold and Harold’s father was enumerated as a ‘Carrier and Sub-postmaster’.

Harold’s Service Record has not survived but his Medal Card shows that he joined up initially as a Private, No.21114, in the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  His later Silver War Badge record stated that he had joined up on 10 August 1916.

It would have been some time before he was trained and sent to France, probably not before the end of 1916.  The 3rd Battalion had fought …
… During later 1916 in the Battle of Delville Wood, (15 July – 3 September 1916); the Battle of Guillemont, (3-6 September 1916); and in the Operations on the Ancre.  Then during 1917 they were in action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line; the Arras offensive; the Battle of Polygon Wood; the Battle of Broodseinde; the Battle of Poelcapelle and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October and 10 November 1917).

At some date probably in, say, mid 1917, it appears that he was wounded, and later transferred to the Labour Corps as No.353050.  It seems that he was also gassed – which may have provided the classification ‘wounded’.  He had been transferred to the 364th Reserve Company Royal Warwickshires when he was discharged because of sickness under Clause xvi (a) (i)[1]No longer physically fit for war service’ on 4 December 1917, when he was aged 19.  He may have still been in hospital at that date, after being gassed.

He was awarded a Silver War Badge, on 22 January 1918.  The Silver War Badge was given to men discharged from active service, due to wounds or illness, and was in part provided so that they were not accused of avoiding service, as it showed they had served and been wounded.

It is assumed that he was home in Rugby, and possibly in hospital there, when he died, aged 20, on 26 March 1919.  His death was registered in Rugby in Q1, 1919.  The CWGC record states that he ‘Died of phthisis[2] following wounds (gas)’.

He was buried in Plot: G. 286. at the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.  The CWGC contact when he was buried was ‘Mrs G. Creed, 27 Graham Road, Rugby’.  Mrs. G Creed, was his sister, Elsie, whose marriage with George Creed had been registered in Q3, 1915, soon after Harold and Elsie’s father’s death on 2 February 1915, when he was 52 years old.  Elsie Creed was later buried with her brother in Clifton Road Cemetery.

The family added the inscription ‘Greater Love Hath No Man Than This Who Giveth His Life For His Friends’.

Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on his CWGC gravestone at Clifton Road Cemetery, and also on the Newbold War Memorial at St. Botolph’s Church.

His brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows, also served in WWI with the Army Service Corps, the Royal Engineers and latterly with the 5th HQ Signal Company, attached to the 34th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.  He was killed in action on the third day of the First Battle of Passchendaele on 14 October 1917, together with three other Rugby men.  He is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Ypres.  He left a wife and two children.

His brother Horace also served, with the Worcestershire Regiment, from March 1916 to January 1919, when he received a Silver War Badge.  He married in 1922 and lived until 1950 and died in Rugby, aged 56 years.

Fuller family details are given in the biography of Harold’s brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Harold Thomas MEDDOWS was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson.  Thanks are given to Marian Evans, the author of the biography of Harold’s brother, Albert Edward Sharp Meddows, who died on 14 October 1917[3] for the use of some of her information and confirmatory material.  This biography is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2018.

[1]      At a slightly later date, possibly when his records were being updated: (a) would refer to ‘during a period of war or demobilisation’, (i) would refer to ‘If the soldier is a patient in hospital’.

[2]      Whilst the term ‘phthisis’ is no longer in scientific use, it described tuberculosis, involving the lungs, and a progressive wasting of the body.  It could be brought on by the gasses used in the war.

[3]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/14/meaddows-albert-edward-sharp-died-14th-oct-1917/.

 

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Barrows, Henry Dester. Died 24th Feb 1919

Henry Dester BARROWS was born in early 1881 in Rugby, and registered there – possibly slightly late – as Harry Dester Barrows, in Q2, 1881.  He was the third son of Edmund Barrows (a tailor and son of a tailor, b.c.1848 in Lutterworth) and Emma, née Emily Warner, Barrows (the daughter of a shoemaker, also b.c.1848 in Lutterworth).   They had married on 13 March 1872 at St Philip’s church, Birmingham.

In the 1874, 1876 and 1880 Rugby Directories,[1] Edmund Barrows was listed as a Tailor, living at 3 Round Street, and this is confirmed by the 1881 census.

On 3 April 1881, Henry was just three months old, suggesting that he was born in late December 1880 or January 1881.  The family were living at 3 Round Street, Rugby.  Henry’s father Edmund was still a Tailor.  In 1881 Edmund’s schoolmistress sister was with them at the house.  In 1884, the family was at an unnumbered property in Bridgett Street.[2]  By 1891, they had moved to live at nearby 2 Oliver Street, Rugby.  Henry’s father Edmund was still a Tailor.  Henry was just 10 and at school – he may have gone to St. Matthew’s School like his elder brother.

By 1901 Henry’s mother was widowed and living with her sister at 7 George Street, Rugby.  Henry was aged 19, single and boarding at 24 Allestree Road, Fulham – where he was a ‘builder’s plasterer’.  In 1911 Harry was enumerated as aged 28, still single, still working as a Plasterer, and boarding at Providence Villa, Fairfield, Leatherhead, Surrey.

His Service Record survives, within the ‘burnt records’, as do his Medal Card and Award Roll, all in the name ‘Harry Barrows’ which show him as a Sapper, in the Royal Engineers, initially as No:(T)3028 and latterly as Sapper No.546617 in J Depot Company, Royal Engineers.

He was attested on 2 October 1915 at 10 Victoria Park Square, London into the 3rd/1st London Field Company, Royal Engineers.  He was 34, 5ft 6½ inches tall and of good physical development.

He gave his address as 16 Bennett Street, Rugby, presumed to now be the home of his widowed mother – but later also noted as the address of his aunt Charlotte, his father’s sister, who was the CWGC contact after Henry’s death.

To summarise his service: he was in UK from 2 October 1915 to 8 April 1916; then in France from 9 April 1916 to 8 July 1916, and then back in UK from 9 July 1916 until his death.

Later in October 1915 he received two anti-typhoid inoculations.  On 9 April 1916 he arrived at No.2 Terr: Base from Eng – on service.  On 13 April 1916, he joined ‘Field Unit from Base’.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he was wounded, and was admitted to the 2/1st Field Ambulance on 2 July 1916.  His Service Record confirms that he was wounded in action on 1 July 1916, and the CWGC site notes that he was ‘Wounded at Gommecourt, 1 July 1916’.  He was also listed as a casualty in the Rugby Advertiser later that month,
Other Rugby casualties reported recently are: Diver W Elkington (11137) killed ; and F H Warden (2168), F Burberry (275),[3] and Sapper H Barrows, R.E.; Ptes J Varney (Rugby), A Welsby (New Bilton), and T Lee (Swinford), wounded.[4] 

On 8 July the No 16 General Hospital embarked him at Havre for England per H.S. ?Bella, with ‘G.S.W. Back and Buttock’, and the next day, 9 July 1916 he was admitted to a Red Cross hospital, where he remained until ?27 July 1916 with ‘GSW [gunshot wounds] back & chest, Severe lacerated flesh wounds’.

He did not return to France, but was on ‘Home’ duty and posted to Ireland, where on 20 April 1917, now aged 37, it seems he was again hospitalised at Curragh, with a ‘weakness left knee’ and awaiting a ‘surgeons report please’.  The doctor’s Report is not legible but appears to mention his ‘GSW’.

On 27 August 1917 he was posted to 415th Lowland Field Company, Royal Engineers at Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland.   A further posting from the 415th Field Company to ‘J Dep: Coy: 94 (2)’ as Sapper No.546617 was noted on 21/22 October 1918 possibly to ?Ballinsaby.

He remained in Ireland, but on 19 February 1919, he was again admitted to hospital … with ‘influenza pneumonia’.  His medical notes – partly burnt – are on his file:

Onset: shivering ….

19/2/19 – On admission T.100 P.88 … Lungs: a few scattered … a few creps at base, no dullness B.B. or sign of ?consclids …

20/2/19 – T.102 R.98 P.100. cough slight, sputum very little. No change … lungs. He has a number of old scars on back the result …

21/2/19 – T.99 R.30. states he feels much better and more comfortable.

22/2/19 – Temp rose 102 this morning. P.120 R.40. it fell slightly in the afternoon. Patient does not complain of feeling ill.

23/2/19 – T.99. P.96 R.28. patient is comfortable and feels better.

24/2/19 – Patient had a bad night in the early part, became worse near morning, he died at 8.20 a.m.  He was not placed on the seriously ill list as he had not any signs of being very ill. 

I think a P.M. should be made as some of the old wounds may have had something to do with his sudden collapse.

(Sd.) M Henry O.S.

He ‘died suddenly’ on 24 February 1919 at the ‘Military Hospital, Belfast from Influenza’.  The CWGC site also confirmed that he ‘Died of Pneumonia, 24 February 1919’.

His body was returned to Rugby, and he was buried in Plot: G. 364. at Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery.  The CWGC contact when he was buried was ‘Miss G. Burrows, 16 Bennett Street, Rugby’.

A few days later the Rugby Advertiser reported,
 ‘Deaths – BARROWS. – On Monday, Feb. 24th, at the Military Hospital, Belfast, Sapper HARRY DESTER, R.E., the youngest and dearly beloved son of Mrs. Barrows, 16 Bennett Street, aged 37, Interred at Rugby Cemetery, Saturday, March 1st.’[5]

Henry Dester BARROWS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

On 18 July 1919 his mother was sent his effects which she duly acknowledged:
‘Purse, badges, pouch, wallet, photos, tin of tobacco, lanyards, pair of braces, letters and religious books, clasp knife, pair of braces, pocket knife, leather belt, pair of gloves, shaving brush, handkerchiefs, razors, button stick, 2 pipes, pair of slippers, pocket knife, tooth brush.’

His mother, Emma Barrows, received 5/11d per week from 25 August 1919.  Only just over a year later she died; her death was registered in late 1920 in Rugby, she was 73.

Henry’s elder brother, Alfred, also served in WWI as a Private, No:12049 in the 1st and later the 6th Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment.  He went to France on the 13 July 1915 and survived the war, being placed in ‘Class Z’, in case of any need for recall, when he was discharged on 30 April 1919.  He had been wounded during the battle of the Somme and in September 1916, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
ST MATTHEW’S OLD BOYS WOUNDED.
Amongst the casualties in the great advance are … and Pte A Barrows, Dorset Regt, all wounded.[6] 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Henry Dester BARROWS 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, October 2018.

[1]      Kenning, Rugby Almanack, 1874, 1876 and 1880.

[2]      Kenning, Rugby Almanack, 1884.

[3]      Frank Burbury was born in Rugby, joined the 10th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was taken prisoner in 1918, but survived the war.  His life has been researched and some of his documents and correspondence from WWI are now in Rugby Museum.  His photographs have also been preserved.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/22nd-jul-1916-helping-the-prisoners-of-war/; and also see:  Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 7 March 1919.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 16 September 1916.

Norton, Bernard George. Died 11th Feb 1919

Bernard George NORTON was born on 29 May 1888 in St. Johns, Deptford, Kent, and baptised on 16 September 1888 at the Greenwich Road Congregational Church in Greenwich, Kent.  He was the eldest of two sons of Rev. George Norton (b.c.1853 in Wandsworth – d.1920) and Clara Ellen, née Dewey, Norton (b.c.1855 in Cheshunt – d.1930).   

In 1891, the family was living at 14 Cliff Terrace, St Paul, Deptford, London.  Bernard was 2 years old and his father was a Congregational Minister. 

By 1901 they had moved to 38 Albert Street, Rugby.  Bernard’s father was still a Congregational Minister and the census return suggests that they were living next to the Congregational Church and the School Room.  Bernard attended Lawrence Sheriff School.

In 1911 the family had moved to Haywards Heath, where Bernard’s father George was still a Congregational Minister, now aged 59 and having been married 25 years.  Bernard’s brother, Clifford John Norton, who was some three years younger than Bernard, had attended Rugby School, and was then studying at Queen’s College, Oxford.  Clifford also joined up, into the 1st/5th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, and served at Gallipoli and in Palestine, being promoted captain in 1917.[1]  By 1920, their father, George Norton had moved to High Wycombe, where he died.

By 1911, Bernard was 22 and still single.  He was boarding at 57 Grove Street, Leamington where he was working as an Architect.  He was still at the same address, Cumberland House, 57 Grove Street, in 1913.[2]

No Service Record survives, but at some date he signed up as a Sapper, No.91714 in the 213 Army Troops Company, Royal Engineers, which seems to have functioned from March 1916 until December 1919.

The War Diary of the 213 Army Troop[3] begins on 8 March 1916 in Buxton, Derbyshire, when they entrained for Southampton and early the next morning most embarked on SS Princess Victoria, with a fewer number and the Motor transport on SS Inventor, to cross to Havre, disembarking the next morning, marching to the Docks Rest Camp, ready to entrain to Poperinge and then to march six miles to billets near Proven on 12 March.  It is assumed that Bernard was already with them.

Companies took over various tasks from running a sawmill; to revetting trenches; and building a concrete emplacement for a 4.7inch gun.  They were based in the Poperinge area until mid-August with a brief visit to Ypres.

On 18 August 1916, an Officer and six NCOs, who are, unusually, individually named, were sent on a ‘10 day course on Heavy Bridging’ at ‘No.3 Base Park’ – the most junior of the party was ‘91714  L/Cpl Norton B G’.  They returned on 1 September 1916.  The following notes have been abstracted and edited from the War Diary.

September saw the ‘Company employed in Hutting, Water Supply, Sanitation works’ and with ‘general construction’, which continued through to the end of 1916.

In January 1917, one section continued at the sawmill making various structures – huts, sheds, latrine and ablution huts etc; whilst the rest of the company was involved in erecting these.  More men had been sent on the Heavy Bridging course.  Similar activities continued, with a Section dealing with water supply in Ypres in March 1917.  In April the company was again employed on bridging, water supply – along the Yperlee at Ypres, and hutments in connection with the 8th Corps laundry at Blondeques etc. etc..  These activities continued in May with the addition of trench construction in 8th Corps area.

In June 1917, they were attached to 5th Army headquarters for duty and similar work continued with the addition of work at Casualty Clearing Stations [CCSs], aerodromes and general construction work.  In July further areas of work included prisoners’ compounds, ammunition dumps and Army Headquarters.

From 16 to 29 July they were temporarily encamped at Chateau Lovie grounds ‘owing to being shelled out at ‘U’ Camp at L.6.a 8.8.’  They returned to camp on 8 August – a number of huts had been damaged, but there were no casualties.  The saw mill was damaged and the main engine had to be replaced with four petrol engines.  Work continued and included preparing material for CCSs; preparing and extending aerodromes, with Chinese labour; water supplies; tree felling and making furniture for 5th Army HQ.

By the end of October 1917, the 213 Company RE had a total strength of 652 men from various parts of the services – including 72 Belgians and 147 Chinese.

On 15 November they were attached to the 2nd Army ‘viz 5th Army left’.

The December diary section is missing, which is frustrating as on 11 December 1917, Bernard was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’.  ‘FRIDAY, 14 DECEMBER, 1917.   War Office, 11 December, 1917.  The following is a continuation of Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatch[4] of 7th November, submitting names deserving special mention, published in a Supplement to the London Gazette of Tuesday, 11th December, 1917: … ROYAL ENGINEERS. … Norton, No. 91714 Spr. B. G. …’.[5]

On 1 February 1918, the Company left Poperinge and entrained for Peronne then to Omiecourt by road.  Similar construction activity continued – and in March the Company was engaged in building PoW cages; staging camps; YMCA huts; an ammunition dump; an aerodrome, three Casualty Clearing Stations; dumps; water supply and headquarters buildings.

With the onset of ‘Operation Michael’ on 26 March, the Company was moving to Villers Brettoneurx.  88 men and eight officers moved to trenches east of Hamel, and the Germans were sighted at 4pm on 28 March.  They were under fire until the end of the month, but succeeded in holding up the German advance but with casualties.

By May, having moved to Flixecourt, after the German advance had been halted, ‘routine’ work on building Staging Posts, Hospitals and PoW cages had resumed.  The reports are barely legible for a while!

In September, they were still based at Flixecourt, constructing a rifle range and a sniping school; targets for aircraft bombing practice; a rest camp at Amiens, and infantry and artillery training schools, and further hospital construction.  Meanwhile the HQ had moved to Bartangles and in October after a further move, the Company were building ‘hutting for Tank Corps HQ’; adapting railway carriages to form a train for the army commander and staff; heating was installed at 41 Stationary Hospital at Amiens and various water supply projects completed.

Similar work continued in November – the Armistice did not get a mention!!

In December they moved east to Namur and were again building various facilities including ‘Latrines & ablutions accommodation … at 4th Army released PoW Camp’; also alterations at the Army Cinema.  In January they were in the Cavalry Barracks and undertaking a wide range of remedial work, particularly with water supply.  They also painted the town name on the Namur station roof, so that it could be identified for delivery of ‘aerial post’.

During January a total of 55 ORs were sent to England for demobilisation or for leave during which some others were also able to demobilise.  It seems likely that among them, in about mid January 1919, was Lance Corporal Bernard George Norton.  Whilst he was ‘on demobilisation leave’, he contracted bronchitis and pneumonia, probably the result of the ‘Flu’ and he died at Strathlea, Waltham Cross, on 11 February 1919; he was aged 30.

His death was confirmed by the Register of Soldiers’ Effects which noted that he ‘died of illness whilst on demobilisation leave, Waltham Cross’.

A few days later the Rugby Advertiser reported,
‘Death – Mr Bernard Norton. – The death has occurred at Waltham Cross of Bernard Norton, eldest son of the Rev George Norton, formerly Congregational minister at Rugby.  About three weeks ago Mr Norton returned from France, and contracted bronchitis and pneumonia, from which he died.’[6]

He was buried in Plot: 0.4. BM. in the nearby Cheshunt Burial Ground, Hertfordshire at Bury Green, a little way south-west of the church.  He has a CWGC gravestone but no family inscription was added.

Bernard George Norton was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ and was awarded the British War and Victory Medals although it seems that these were returned in 1923.

He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on his CWGC gravestone at the Cheshunt Burial Ground; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[7] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’   

Probate was awarded on 24 April 1919 in Hertfordshire, to his Executors, his father, George Norton, Dissenting Minister and John Lawrence, Estate Agent.  His Estate was valued at £12,820-9-1d.

His outstanding pay of £10-8-3d was paid to his Executors and his War Gratuity of £18-10-0 appears to have been placed in a ‘P.O.S.B.’ [Post Office Savings Bank].

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM 

– – – – – –

 

This article on Bernard George NORTON 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, October 2018.

 

[1]      Norton, Sir Clifford John, KCMG, CVO, (1891–1990) had a career as a diplomatist – for a fuller biography see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which is available on-line.  Some of his papers are in the Imperial War Museum.

[2]      Spennell, Directory of Leamington, 1913.

[3]      The National Archives, Fourth Army, 213 Army Troop Company Royal Engineers, Ref: WO 95/484.

[4]      The list of names was published in six separate supplements at intervals of a few days.

[5]      13082, Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1917.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 21 February 1919.

[7]      Information from https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/lawrence-sheriff-school-plaques.

Abbott, Walter John. Died 1st Jan 1919

Walter John Abbott, the son of Caroline and William Abbott was born in 1880 in Rugby.  He was baptised at Newbold on Avon on 14 March 1880.  His 4 older brothers were born in Rhyl, North Wales.  By the time Walter was one year old his mother (born Newbold on Avon) was a widow and the Inn Keeper of the Globe Inn, 53 Railway Terrace, Rugby. She married Thomas Middleton in 1883 who became the Hotel Keeper and they had several more children.

In 1901 Walter John Abbott was a servant Grocer’s Assistant in Pershore, Worcestershire. In 1911 Walter Middleton was living in Louth, Lincolnshire with his wife Kate Isabel, born in Burton on Trent and two children Cynthia and Edward. He was a grocer’s traveller.

Walter John Abbott served as a gunner (No. 152488) in “D” Battery, 199th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, under the name of Middleton and was buried at Tournai Communal Cemetery Allied Extension.

Rugby Advertiser of 10 January 1919 states:
ABBOTT in loving memory of Gunner Walter John Abbott, fifth son of Mr and Mrs Middleton of Watford (late of Rugby) who died in France on 5 January 1919 from injuries received in a train accident while coming home on leave after four years service aged 38 years.  “Thy will be done”.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Wright, Frederick. Died 25th Dec 1918

Frederick ‘Fred’ Wright was born on 17 April 1998 in Rugby[1] and his birth was registered in Q2, 1898.  He was the son of John William Wright (b.c.1861, in Ossett, Yorkshire) and Harriett, née Smith, Wright, (b.c.1859 in Northampton). 

In 1901, Fred’s father, John William Wright, was 40 and a ‘steam engine maker’, his wife Harriett was 42, and the family were living at 42 Worcester Street, Rugby.  There were four children at home – Fannie Wright, 17; Sidney Wright, 11; Ethel Wright, 8; and the youngest boy, Frederick Wright, who was two years old.

Before 1911, the family moved to a nine room house at 32 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby.  John William Wright was now an ‘electrical engineer’.  In 1911, Fred’s parents had been married for 28 years, and had had five children of whom four were still living.

For some reason, perhaps because he was a ‘stenographer’ in the BTH Contracts Department, their 21 year old lodger, Arol Deakin, filled in and signed their 1911 census return.  Later that year he married Fred’s sister, Dinah Ethel Wright [Rugby, Q3, 1911, 6d, 1078].  They had a daughter, Eileen in 1913, and a son, John Arol in about early 1916.  Arol Deakin joined up in the Royal Field Artillery and became a Sergeant but died of wounds on 16 August 1917.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate -.[2]

According to a later report in the Rugby Advertiser, Fred Wright …
… was formerly a sailor, and visited the Dardanelles a number of times.  He was afterwards employed at the B.T.H., subsequently joining the army.’[3] 

His service with BTH is confirmed in their memorial publications and also, assuming this is the correct Wright, in a list published in September 1914 in the Rugby Advertiser,
FROM THE WORKS – This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd: – … Wright, …’.[4]

This suggests that he must have gone to sea in the period between early 1911 and later 1914, when he was between 13 and 16 years old, which would be very young even for a boy sailor, although ‘one in three Royal Navy heroes of World War One were underage, …’.  He still had some time working at BTH, before joining up, and it may be that confusion with another older Fred Wright who was in the Navy on HMS Fox in 1911 may have occurred.

Albert joined up as a Private No.115498 in the Machine Gun Corps (MGC).  As the MGC was not formed until October 1915, and in the absence of any Service Record, it is not known if he joined an Infantry Regiment earlier for his initial training.  His Medal Card has no mention of an earlier unit and it is quite possible that he did not join up and did not go to France until at least the end of 1915 or during 1916, as he was not eligible for the 1914-1915 Star – and indeed he had not reached the necessary age of 18 years until April 1916.

The CWGC record suggests that he was a member of 50th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), however, when he was taken prisoner, his PoW record stated he was in the 206th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).[5]

In the absence of any Service Record for Fred, the date of any transfer from the 50th to the 206th Bn. of the Machine Gun corps is unknown.  However, the information on these Battalions is as follows:

50th MG Company: Moved to France and joined 17th Division, 17 February 1916 at Reninghelst. Moved into No 17 Bn, MGC, on 24 February 1918.

206th MG Company: Formed at Grantham, 24 October 1916.  Joined 58th Division in France on 24 March 1917.  Moved into No 58 Bn, MGC on 2 March 1918.

The Battalion Diaries are available, and it seems possible that Fred moved during the reorganisation of the MGC in early 1918.  Hence his main records have him still in 50th MG Company, whilst he knew he was in 206th Company – which had become the ‘A’ Company of the 58th Bn. which was in the line at Quessy, some 14 kms south of St. Quentin.

1918 had started fairly quietly, however, the anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael, was launched on 21 March 1918, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army.  The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry.  The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war.  Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

Prior to March 1918, the history of 206th Co is described in the Summary War Diary.[6]

20/21 March 1918, 58th Divisional Sector astride the River Oise, [adjacent to the French 6th Army to the south].  22 and 23 March – ‘A’ & ‘D’ companies in action with 173rd Infantry Brigade. 

After March 1918, the War Diary, of the 58th Bn.[7] includes some six pages covering the period from 20 – 24 March 1918, from which the activities of ‘A’ Company have been abstracted.

21st – Enemy attacked on a wide front … owing to the existing dispositions … ‘A’ M.G. Coy … became heavily engaged … 10am – O.C. ‘A’ Company sent 3 reserve guns … to a position E of Quessy … with object of preventing the enemy from advancing on to Fargniers. (3000 rounds were fired on this task).  11.0am – O.C. ‘A’ Company received information … that 2nd Lieut T Owen … had been taken prisoner, the enemy enveloping these two guns in the mist – but that one of the guns had been got away … heavy fire was opened which held the enemy off for two hours, inflicting very heavy casualties.  12 noon – two machine guns on the canal bank S.E. of Fargniers and others E. of Fargniers and Quessy were engaging hostile infantry at close range.  1pm – a Corporal in charge of one of the foremost guns arrived at ‘A’ Co H.Q. and reported his gun had held out until 12.15pm, when it was eventually put out of action by hostile M.G. fire.  The enemy are stated to have suffered very heavy casualties from this gun, which was eventually surrounded.  7.30pm – O.C. ‘A’ Company ordered … to withdraw all guns from the battle zone and to hold the W. bank of the Crozart Canal at all costs throughout the night of 21st/22nd

This was done with 8 guns that remained of the 19 guns originally under ‘A’ Coy.  Night 21/22 – ‘A’ Coy with 8 guns holding Canal as above.

The dispositions remained as above through the morning of 22nd inst.  About 2.30 pm the enemy renewed his attack and succeeded in crossing the Crozart Canal. … Here 6 of the 8 guns of ‘A’ Company holding the Canal came into action – the teams firing their guns until the ammunition was exhausted or the guns were put out of action by the hostile shelling – this about 3.30pm  (one of these 6 guns was got away after using all the ammunition).

After all the guns of ‘A’ company … were out of action (3.30pm) … about 30 Machine Gunners held out in Tergnier, preventing the enemy getting into the southern part of the town, until 7.0pm when O.C. ‘A’ Company was ordered to withdraw all remaining guns and men of his Company to the Green Line and finally about 10pm to withdraw to Ognes … three guns of the original 19 still remained.

Meanwhile, four guns of ‘D’ Company were holding out in Viry-Noureuil to the south-west of the ‘A’ Company positions.

The summary of casualties, for the period 21 – 24 March 1918, stated that on 21 March, 26 Other Ranks were missing; on 22 March, 17 Other Ranks were missing; and on 24 March, 44 Other Ranks were missing.

It seems that Fred was one of those 17 ‘missing’ Other Ranks on 22 March, as according to Red Cross Prisoner of War (PoW) records, Fred was taken prisoner at Quessy on 22 March 1918.  This was the second day of Operation Michael, and he was ‘Unverwundat’, that is ‘unwounded’.

Fred was taken to a PoW camp, probably in Germany – and probably had to work and would have received a very poor diet – the blockade on Germany meant even German civilians were on a meagre diet.  Many prisoners died, many later from the Spanish Flu, and Fred was no exception.  He survived the war, but is recorded as dying on Christmas Day 1918.  He is likely to have been buried initially in a camp cemetery adjacent to the German PoW camp where he had been confined, and he had probably remained at the camp being treated after the Armistice.

Later, after the war these many smaller cemeteries in Germany were ‘concentrated’, and Fred’s body was moved to the newly created Berlin South-Western Cemetery, at Stahnsdorf, where he was reburied in grave ref: VII. G. 1.

The village of Stahnsdorf is some 22kms south west of Berlin and about 14kms east of Potsdam.  In 1922-1923 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries.  Berlin South-Western was one of those chosen and in 1924-1925, graves were brought into the cemetery from 146 burial grounds in eastern Germany.  Many, if not most of these, were from Prisoners of War Cemeteries.

Fred was awarded the Victory and British medals.  Fred is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate; the New Bilton War Memorial by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918;[8] and on the BTH War Memorial.[9]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick Wright 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, February 2017.

 

[1]      Information from: International Committee of the Red Cross (CH), https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/.

[2]      Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/deakin-arol-died-16th-aug-1917/.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 11 May 1918.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/, and also the Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 September 1914.  But at least four Wrights from BTH served in WWI.

[5]      Information from: International Committee of the Red Cross (CH), https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Machine Gun Corps, 58th Division, Piece 2996/10: 206 Machine Gun Company (1917 Mar – 1918 Feb).

[7]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Machine Gun Corps, 58th Division Piece 2996/11: 58 Battalion Machine Gun Corps (1918 Mar – 1919 Apr).

[8]      https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-employees-who-served-war-1914-1918-d.

[9]      This is 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.  See: https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

Manning, Criss. Died 21st Dec 1914

Omitted from publication on 21st Dec 2014. Published today 104 years after his death

Francis Cris Manning was born in Brington, Northamptonshire in 1883 and baptised there on the 6th May. His parents were George and Selina (nee Tarrey) who had married at Selina’s home parish church of nearby Harlestone on 11th November 1875. George was a labourer in Great Brington – agricultural in 1881, general in 1891 when Francis was aged eight. He then had two brothers Edward aged twelve and Lewis four.

George Manning died later that year at the age of 41 and Selina two years later in 1893 at 48. We have been unable to find Francis Criss in 1901 but information from a family tree on Ancestry shows that he enlisted in the Northamptonshire Regiment in 1899 and served in South Africa. He left in 1908, signing up with the reserves. This is confirmed by his army number of 5992 which was issued in 1899. It also explains the early date of his death in December 1914. Only regular troops and reserves would be fighting at this point.

By 1911 he was lodging with the Cross family at 38 Lower Harlestone. He was working as a wood man on estate and entered under the full name of Francis Christopher Manning.

At the time the war started, he was working for the L & N-W Railway in the Rugby Carriage works. this seems to be his only connection with Rugby.

The 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was stationed at Blackdown, Aldershot on 4th Aug 1914 as part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. They were mobilised on the 13th and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1914;
The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, First Battle of Ypres.

The first few months of the Northants Reg. War Diaries were lost on 17th November during the First Battle of Ypres. The Diary starts again on the 21st December.

Nov 26th 1914 to Dec 20th 1914: The Battalion was resting at Hazebrouck.

Dec 21st 1914: The Battalion left Hazebrouck at 7 AM in motors. Arrived at Zellobes close to Vielle Chapelle at 12 Noon. After refilling with rations & Ammunition, the Battalion was ordered to move to Le Touret. Arrived here sometime about 4 PM. Orders were received that the Battalion in Conjunction with 1st Loyal North Lancashire Regt. Was to make a night attack to recover trenches about ½ mile East of Rue de L’Epinelte & ½ mile South of Rue de Bois. Which had been lost the previous night. The Two Battalions moved to the attack about 7 PM. The Battalion had Two Companies in the front line & Two in support.
1st Northamptonshire R. was on the North 1st L. N. L. on South by 10 PM. The position in front of us had been retaken with slight loss. Most of our Casualties Coming from Artillery fire. Total Casualties killed & wounded. Three Officers – about 60 men.
According to previous orders when the position had been retaken the Battalion was to withdraw & the line to be held by the 1st L. N. L. Regt. We had however to leave One Company D in the line. The rest of the Battalion withdrew back about ½ mile to billets reaching them about 7 AM on Dec 22nd.

It would have been in this “slight loss” that Criss Manning died. His body was not recovered or identified and he is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial.

The Le Touret Memorial commemorates over 13,400 British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. The Memorial takes the form of a loggia surrounding an open rectangular court. The names of those commemorated are listed on panels set into the walls of the court and the gallery, arranged by regiment, rank and alphabetically by surname within the rank. The memorial was designed by John Reginald Truelove, who had served as an officer with the London Regiment during the war, and unveiled by the British ambassador to France, Lord Tyrrell, on 22 March 1930. Almost all of the men commemorated on the Memorial served with regular or territorial regiments from across the United Kingdom and were killed in actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched from Estaires in the north to Grenay in the south. This part of the Western Front was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the first year of the war.

The only mention of his death in the Rugby press was as one of the railway men who had died.

On the 17th April 1915, the Rugby Advertiser reported:
CASUALTIES AMONG L & N-W RAILWAYMEN.—According to the April number of the “ L & N-W Railway Gazette,” there were 1,058 casualties reported among L & N-W Railway men with the Forces between February 19th and March 15th. The list includes the following :—Killed: H R Barwick, East Anglian Engineers (Wolverton). Died from wounds: T C Tooth, Bucks Territorials (Wolverton); C Manning, Northamptonshire Regiment (Rugby).

And on the 25th September, 1915:
TO COMMEMORATE FALLEN HEROES.
During the service the daily portion from “ The Happy Warrior ” was read by Mr Frank Ward, and the following names of men on the Rugby Railway Mission Roll of Honour, and of local railway men who have fallen in the war were read out:—…C Manning, carriage department

On the L & N-W Roll of Honour, Criss is remembered as C. Manning, Carriage cleaner, Rugby.

He is listed on the Great Brington War Memorial (as Francis C Manning) and the Harlestone War Memorial (as Christopher Manning) On the Rugby Memorial Gates he is C Manning.

He was awarded, under the name of Cross Manning, the British and Victory medals as well as the 1914 star.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Brown, Frank Lincoln. Died 3rd May 1917

We recently published the biography of Frederick Louis Brown as the most likely candidate for the F L Brown on the Rugby Memorial Gates. We have now discovered that the man listed should be Frank Lincoln Brown, who was born and lived in Rugby.

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Frank Lincoln Brown was born in Rugby in 1894, the youngest son of Edward, and Sarah Emily (nee Barge). Edward was an assurance agent born in Priors Marston and Sarah was from Wales. They married in Rugby in 1889.

In 1891 they lived at 2 Princess Street and in 1901, when Frank was aged 6, at 3 Newbold Road.

By 1911 Frank was aged 16 he was working as a machinist in a meter factory. The family lived at 33 Stephen Street, Rugby.

Towards the start of the war, Frank Lincoln Brown enlisted at Rugby and joined the 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry (No. 10444)

He served in France and Flanders from the 20th May 1915. On the 3rd May 1917 the 14th Division, which contained the 5th Ox & Bucks, formed the left flank of the great British offensive at Vis-En-Artois. The attack took place over a twelve-mile front east of Arras with the Ox & Bucks attacking the enemy position at Hillside Work.

The attack commenced at 3.45am in the face of very heavy machine gun and rifle fire. The 5th Ox & Bucks were temporarily held up by an undiscovered enemy trench, which although they were eventually able to capture, they did so with heavy casualties. This obliged them to cease any further advance. At 11am the Germans launched determined counter attack ultimately driving the British back to their original positions.

The action cost the Ox & Bucks 19 men killed, 113 missing and 153 wounded.

Frank was killed in this action, almost two years after arriving in the trenches, on the 3rd May 1917, aged 23, he has no known grave and is today remembered on the Arras Memorial.

There was an announcement in the June 1917 issue of The Pioneer, the Baptist Church magazine that he had been missing for nearly a month. Frank Brown is listed on the Memorial Plaque in Rugby Baptist Church, which reads:

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.

On waters deep in the treacherous
On rock bound heights and burning
They poured the offering of their blood
They kept the honour of the land.
A.W. Leeson      

Corporal Frank Lincoln Brown was entitled to the 1914/15 Star, BWM and the Victory Medal.

Sarah Emily Brown died in 1921, she was joined by her husband Edward in 1935.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

With thanks to Kevin Pargeter, who brought this man to our notice and provided the information.