Hoare, James. Died 27th May 1918

James Hoare was born in the first quarter of 1887 in the civil parish of Monks Coppenhall, Crewe, Cheshire (Registration district Nantwich).

The 1891 census RG12/2851 page 25 records his father as George age 36, a Coach Man Domestic, born in Newport Pagnall, Bucks and his mother as Caroline age 42 from Wharton, Cheshire.  His uncle Joseph Hoare age 24, a Crane Driver, was living with them.

He had siblings Bertha age 11, Alfred age 9 and Louisa age 7.  He may also have had another brother Walter born 1885 who died age 3 in 1889.

At the 1901 census RG13/3358 page 37 he is 14 and still living in Monks Coppenhall. His father had become a Barman.

By 1911 he had moved to Rugby and was boarding in the home of John and Alice Law at 10, Grosvenor Road. He was age 24 and employed as a Shop Assistant with the Co-operative Society.

He initially appears to have enlisted in Coventry with R. Warwicks Regt with number 4478 but is later listed as Private James Hoare with the 271st infantry battalion of the Machine Gun Corps with number 43375.

He drowned at sea on Monday 27th May 1918 when the troop ship H.T. “Leasowe Castle” was torpedoed on the starboard side by German submarine UB51 with the loss of 83 or 93 lives.

HMS Leasowe Castle Troop Transport Ship

Some 2800 men survived the sinking by taking to the liferafts/boats.  The ship was hit at 0130 when she was travelling in a convoy 104 miles north-west of Alexandria and sank suddenly within 90 minutes when a bulkhead collapsed in the aft part of the ship gave way. Most of the men still on board were carried down with ship and not a single body was picked up. The dead included the ship’s captain and the officers organising the evacuation.

His death, along with eight other privates in the MGC who died on the “Leasowe Castle,” is recorded on stone No.14.A of the CWGC Chatby memorial at Alexandria, Eygpt. He is also recorded on Rugby’s War Memorial

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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Covington, Reginald Frederick. Died 22nd May 1918

Reginald Frederick COVINGTON was born in Northampton in about 1894, and his birth was registered in Q1, 1894He was the son of George Frederick Covington, born in about 1861 in Northampton, and Kate, née Westley, Covington, who was born in about 1867 in Sherrington, Buckinghamshire.  They had married on 25 December 1890 at St Michael and All Angels church, Northampton.

It seems that the family moved from Northampton to Wellingborough between 1897 and 1901, when the family was living at 9 Oxford Street, Wellingborough.  Reginald’s father was a ‘fruitier’.  The family then moved to Rugby

Before 1911 they moved again, to Rugby, and Reginald attended school at St. Matthew’s. He had been a holder of the Robertson Cup for the best all-round athlete in the school.[1] When Reginald was 17, the family were living in a six room house at 28 North Street, Rugby.  He had two younger sisters.  His father was a ‘Fruitierer & Confectioner’, and he was working as a ‘Compositor’ – later he would work for the family business and managed his father’s branch shop in Lawford Road.

It is uncertain when he joined up, although an obituary stated that he ‘… joined the army … in the early days of the War.’[2]  He joined up as a Gunner, No.1160, in the Royal Field Artillery – Territorial Force, and at a later date, but prior to September/October 1917, he was renumbered as No:840787.

It seems that he did not go to France until at least late 1915, as he did not receive the 1914-1915 Star, but he was certainly in France prior to September/October 1917, as he was wounded and/or gassed as mentioned in two local papers.

In September 1917, the ‘Local War Notes’ reported
Bombardier Reg Covington, R.F.A, son of Mr Richard[3] Covington, has been gassed during the recent fighting.[4]

It was probably the same occurrence that was reported in October 1917, in the Coventry Evening Telegraph,
Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties.
Wounded … Covington, 840787, Gnr. R., Rugby, R.F.A.[5]

An official Casualty List in October also listed him a ‘Wounded’ under the Royal Field Artillery listing.[6]

It seems that he was sent back to England for treatment, but returned to France in about early 1918.  The CWGC record states that he was latterly in the ‘D’ Battery of the 275th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

The 275th (1/1st West Lancashire) Brigade RFA Territorial Force was based at Windsor Barracks, Spekeland Street, Liverpool.  The Brigade came under the orders of the West Lancashire Division.  The divisional artillery crossed to France, landing at Le Havre on 1 October 1915.

The West Lancashire Division, now titled the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, was ordered to re-form in France and the artillery rejoined it at Hallencourt between 2 and 4 January 1916.  A new “D” Battery was formed for the Brigade on 7 May 1916.  There were later various reorganisations as the batteries were switched around.

In 1918, the 55th Division relieved the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February.  Here, it faced numerous strong enemy attacks in March 1918.

Whilst the front had been comparatively quiet, an attack was anticipated and on 21 March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive, Operation Michael, 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.

Early April was comparatively quieter, but it was a lull before a storm, with the Division involved in the Battle of Estaires (9-11 April) including the Defence of Givenchy (9-17 April) and the Battle of Hazebrouck (12-15 April), the latter two being phases of the Battles of the Lys.

The Defence of Givenchy was to become the single most famous action fought by the Division.  ‘It was afterwards publicly stated by an officer of the German General Staff that the stand made by the Division on April 9th and the days which followed marked the final ruination of the supreme German effort of 1918’, says the Divisional history.

The 275th RFA Brigade Diary gives information on their various actions in April and May, but there do not seem to be any specific large scale actions at and just before Reginald died of his wounds.

The 275th Artillery Group was in the line in early April and on 9 April, the ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Batteries of the 275th were moved back section by section.  On 10 April there was considerable hostile bombardment which included about 10% of gas shells of various types.  In spite of attacks, it seems the German advances on Givenchy and Festubert were driven back and indeed some 700 prisoners were taken.  On 25/26 April, the 164th Infantry Brigade attacked Givenchy to re-establish the old line.  The 275th put down smoke and shrapnel to cover one of the flanks.  The 55th Division were congratulated on their fine work during this battle.

There is less information recorded for May, and Reg was probably wounded, possibly by German counter-battery shelling, sometime in April or May.  If earlier, he might have been expected to have been evacuated further to a base hospital, so it was probably about mid-May.

Reginald’s Medal Card states that he ‘Died of Wounds’ on 22 May 1918 and the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects stated that he died at the ‘2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance’,[7] France.  Their movements may provide some further information on Reginald’s location.

The 2/1st Wessex Field Ambulance, was largely a Devonshire unit but was attached to the 55th West Lancashire Division from January 1916 to November 1918.  In April 1918 they were in the area La Basse/Givenchy and near Bethune on 9 April 1918, and had an Advanced Dressing Station just behind Givenchy during the German attacks of April 1918.

The RAMC War Diary for the 55th Division provides details of the movement orders for the 2/1st Wessex Field ambulance, and during the month they were moved to some ten different locations in response to the German assaults.

During May the 2/1st Wessex Field Ambulance quartered around Drouvin, and it seems likely that Reginald died of his wounds at the Field Ambulance there on 22 May 1918 and was buried in the nearby Houchin British CemeteryHis body was buried in grave ref: I. B. 18.   Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, his family’s message, ‘Though Far Away to Memory Ever Dear’ would be inscribed upon it.

Houchin is a village situated between Barlin and Bethune, about 5 kilometres south of Bethune. Houchin British Cemetery was opened in March 1918 when the 6th Casualty Clearing Station came to Houchin.  From April to September the German advance made Houchin unsafe for hospitals, and the cemetery was used by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

In June 1918, the Rugby Advertiser reported,
Gunner Reginald Covington.  Mr G F Covington, of North Street, has received news that his only son, Gunner Reg Covington, R.F.A. died of wounds received in action on May 22nd.  He was 23 years of age, and joined the army – prior to which he managed his father’s branch shop in Lawford Road – in the early days of the War.  Towards the end of last year he was badly gassed, but he returned to France a few months ago.  An old St. Matthew’s boy, he was at one time the holder of the Robertson Cup for the best all-round athlete in the school.[8]

The Coventry Evening Telegraph also reported his death in June 1918,
Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties Died of Wounds
… Covington, 840787, Gnr. R., Rugby, R.F.A [9]

An official Casualty List in July also confirmed that he ‘Died of Wounds’ under the Royal Field Artillery listing.[10]

Reginald Frederick COVINGTON is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His mother, Kate, as sole Legatee, received his back-pay of £6-7-1d on 28 August 1918, and his War Gratuity of £13-10s on 9 December 1919.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Reginald Frederick COVINGTON 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, February 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[3]      This would seem to be in error, there are no other Reg Covingtons with a father Richard.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/29th-sep-1917-blackberry-picking/, and Rugby Advertiser, 29 September 1917.

[5]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 19 October 1917.

[6]      Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry), Tuesday, 23 October 1917.

[7]      2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance, a file is available at TNA ref: WO 95/2919/1, 1916 Jan. – 1919 Apr., and various information can be found on Google.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[9]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Thursday, 27 June 1918.

[10]     Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry), Tuesday, 2 July 1918.

Eyden, Clarence Alfred. Died 18th May 1918

Alfred Eyden and Sarah Eleanor Mewis, the parents of Clarence were married on New Year’s Eve 1889. The Reverend John Murray Rector of St Andrews parish church Rugby, conducted the ceremony, and unusually eight witnesses appear to have witnessed and signed the Register.

Clarence was born on the 4th November 1890. He was baptized at St Andrews parish church Rugby on the 31st December 1890. December was an unusually warm month that year, with the average temperature being four and a half degrees Celsius or forty degrees Fahrenheit. If the day was indeed fairly mild the whole family must have been in good spirits as they walked to church from their home in Clifton Road.

Having qualified for the Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School for boys Clarence was obviously a boy of above average intelligence. The Census for 1911, on which he can be found, reveals that he was twenty years of age and lived at 165, Clifton Road, Rugby. This was most likely a house provided by the London North Western Railway. The other people also in residence were his Grandfather Richard Mewis aged sixty eight, who worked as a Railway engine driver and his wife Sarah, aged seventy, his father Alfred Eyden aged forty nine, Chief Rates Clerk LNWR Rugby, and his wife Sarah, aged forty four. Clarence was next, and worked as an apprentice for the LNWR at Leamington Spa. Maurice, the younger brother of Clarence was aged fourteen and a scholar at Lawrence Sheriff School. Edith Hughes, age eighteen, a general domestic servant, was also living in the house.

Clarence commenced his apprenticeship on May 29th 1905 at Rugby his salary being £20 per annum. From Rugby he moved on to Brandon, Long Buckby and Leamington Spa. His salary in March 1911 was £50 per annum. His employment at Leamington Spa ceased at the end of March, and on April 3rd 1911 he was transferred to the General Manager’s office Euston where he was employed as the private Clerk to the LNWR General Manager.

The family appears to have been musical: on 23 January 1915, at a ‘Concert for soldiers in the Church House’, arranged by the Entertainment Committee of the Conservative Club, songs were given by Mr. Clarence Eyden.  On the next Sunday, 31 January 1915, his mother sang, and was the soloist at a meeting of the Rugby Brotherhood at the Cooperative Hall with the notice, ‘Soldiers heartily welcomed’.[3]

His parents would later move to Northampton, meanwhile, presumably after his concert appearance in early 1915, Clarence joined up in London, as a Sapper, No.88204 in the Royal Engineers.  It was not long before he was sent to France and his Medal Card gives that date as 8 June 1915.  He was later promoted to be an Acting 2nd Corporal, and it was possibly then that he was renumbered, WR/252025 [possibly standing for War Reserve], and with his ten year’s railway experience, it is perhaps not surprising that he became a member of the ‘Railway Traffic [or Transportation] Establishment RE’.

The Establishment for the Railway Traffic Section, R.E. was 25 Officers and 174 Other Ranks.  3 Officers were Deputy Assistant Directors of Railway Traffic and the other 22 Railway Traffic Officers.  The Other Ranks were made up of 1 CSM, 30 Clerks & 56 Checkers (1 Staff Sgt, 4 Sgts & 81 Rank and File), 74 to act as Porters, Goods Guards, Loaders and Train Conductors (1 Sgt with 73 Rank and File).  The remainder of the unit comprised 13 batmen, 4 cooks and 4 men for general duties.[4]

So crucial was transportation that in the last months of the war, despite a shortage of front line soldiers, men with railway experience were being transferred from infantry units to railway operating companies.

Clarence died of wounds, but it is not known when or where he was working when he was wounded.  Because of his burial in St. Omer, he was possibly working in the St. Omer area, dealing with some aspect of railway organisation.

St. Omer had suffered a severe air raid on the night of 18/19 May 1918 when among other damage, a German air raid caused an explosion at an ammunition dump at Arque – some five miles south-east of St. Omer.  Indeed, recovering the wounded took five hours and 18 Military Medals were subsequently awarded to the female medical and transport staff.  On that occasion a number of men from the Chinese Labour Corps were also killed.  ‘A certain number of houses had been hit and some ammunition dumps and petrol stores and part of the railway line, so it was considered the Germans would think they had had a good night.’[5]

Various records state that Clarence both ‘Died in Action’ and ‘Died of Wounds’, however, his Medal Card notes that he ‘Died’ rather than stating ‘KinA’ or ‘DofW’.  This may imply that …

… some time had passed between … being wounded and dying – the next-of-kin were informed that he had ‘died’, rather than ‘died of wounds’.  Exactly how much time had to pass before this distinction was made is not clear.’[6]

From the dates, it is possible that Clarence was one of the casualties of the bombing of St. Omer, possibly when the ‘part of the railway line’ was hit and had reached hospital in St. Omer where he died that night, 18 May 1918, or possibly the following day.[7]  He was 27 year old.

He was buried in Plot: V. B. 9., at the Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.  On his gravestone his family had arranged to be inscribed: ‘In Proudest Memory of One “Who Greatly Loved, Who Greatly Lived and Died Right Mightily”

St. Omer is 45 kilometres south-east of Calais and the cemetery at Longuenesse is on the southern outskirts of St. Omer.  St. Omer was the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force from October 1914 to March 1916.  The town was a considerable hospital centre with the 4th, 10th, 7th Canadian, 9th Canadian and New Zealand Stationary Hospitals, the 7th, 58th (Scottish) and 59th (Northern) General Hospitals, and the 17th, 18th and 1st and 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations all stationed there at some time during the war.  St. Omer suffered air raids in November 1917 and May 1918, with serious loss of life.  The cemetery takes its names from the triangular cemetery of the St. Omer garrison, properly called the Souvenir Cemetery (Cimetiere du Souvenir Francais) which is located next to the War Cemetery.

Clarence Alfred EYDEN is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[8] which reads,

‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and also the 1914-1915 Star.

His father received his back-pay of £5-11-2d on 16 October 1918 and later his War Gratuity of £15 on 2 December 1919.  Clarences’s parents appear to have left Rugby before 1918, and later in the CWGC record, Clarence is noted as the son of Mr A. Eyden, of 1 St. Pauls Terrace Northampton.

In the year 1921 the following memorial notice appeared in the Rugby Advertiser:
EYDEN. —- To the ever precious memory of Clarence, the dearly beloved and elder son of Alfred and Eleanor Eyden, who fell in the Great War on Whit Sunday, May 18th 1918. —- And the World passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.                                                                                                                                            

Clarence’s younger brother Maurice Eyden also joined up.  Reports in the Rugby Advertiser noted.

October 1916 – Maurice Victor Eyden (O.R), younger son of Mr Alfred Eyden, of Northampton, formerly residing in the Clifton Road, Rugby, has been gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment (Steelbacks), after a course of training in the Inns of Court O.T.C.[9]

July 1917 – Second Lieutenant Maurice V Eyden (son of Mr Alfred Eyden), 2nd Northants Regiment, has been promoted to the rank of First-Lieutenant.[10]

July 1918 – Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Eyden, ‘Denaby’, St. Matthew’s Parade, Northampton, have been advised that their younger son, Lieut Maurice V Eyden, 2nd Northants Regiment, reported missing on May 27th, is a prisoner of war in Germany and quite well.  His only brother (Royal Engineers) was killed in France on May 19, 1918’.[11]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Clarence Alfred EYDEN 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, February 2018. Other information by Charles Partington-Tierney

[1]      London and North Western Railway, Salaried staff register [No 2, pages 1613-2092] – Goods Department.

[2]      London and North Western Railway, Salaried staff register [No 2, pages 1613-2092] – Goods Department.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 30 January 1915.

[4]      Ivor Lee, 8 August 2003, http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/4011-railway-transport-establishment/.

[5]      Diary of the Matron in Chief in France and Flanders, TNA, WO95/3990, http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/91.html.

[6]      http://www.epitaphsofthegreatwar.com/killed-in-action/.

[7]      The item on his brother in the Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918, gave the date of Clarence’s death as 19 May 1918 – the day following the bombing of St. Omer.

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

[9]      Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/28th-oct-1916-the-boy-scouts-a-record-of-useful-work/, and Rugby Advertiser, 28 October 1916.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, 14 July 1917, and Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/14th-jul-1917-the-rugby-baking-trade-no-more-men-can-be-spared/.

[11]     Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918.

Reynolds, John Henry. Died 8th May 1918

John Henry Reynolds was born in Rugby in 1882 and baptised at St Matthews Church on 1st August the same year. His parents were William Albion Reynolds and Sarah Jane (nee French).

In 1891 John Henry was age 8 and living with parents and 3 siblings, at 3 Orton Court off Dunchurch Road Rugby. His father William age 35 was a labourer with the Board of Health. By 1901 the family was living at 26 West Leys, but John Henry was not with them. We have not been able to find his location.

On 8th February 1903 John Henry Reynolds, labourer, age 20 married Ann Norman, age 22 at St. Matthews Church, Rugby, and in 1911 he was a labourer with a coal merchants, living at 9 Little Elborow Street, Rugby with his wife Ann and son John, aged 3. A second son was born in 1912 but died the following year.

On 8th December 1915 enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment Reserve (number 19747). He was mobilised on 10th June 1916 and landed in France on 10th Oct 1916 with the 1st Bn R.W.R. A week later he joined the 2nd/7th Bn and was given the number 20309. He was 5ft 5½in tall, and aged 33yrs 4mths.

On 1st Mar 1917 he was allocated a new (and final) number 268059.

During 1917 he would have taken part in the Operations on the Ancre, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck and The German counter attacks.

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.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings.  The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress in other parts of the line.

On marching out on 21 March, the Battalion had comprised 21 Officers and 556 Other Ranks.  In the period to the end of March, there were 30 Officer casualties (some additional officers had joined in the period) and 488 Other Ranks casualties.

The remnants of the exhausted Battalion – and the 61st Division – were transferred from the XVIII Corps on 10 April 1918.  Lt. General Ivor Maxey wrote a message of congratulations to the 61st Division, which had ‘… established for itself a high reputation for its fighting qualities and its gallant spirit …’.

The Battalion was moved north to a quieter part of the line near Bethune.  On 10 March 1918 the Battalion went to St Roche via Amiens, and then entrained for Berguette which was further north and where they arrived at 10.30pm.  They became involved in the Battle of Estaires, and then on 11 March, they took up positions to the rear of the Robecq-Calonne Road, and were involved in the Battle of Hazebrouck (12–15 April), when their positions south of Merville were captured.

On 12 March the enemy were active and by 10.30am all that remained of the 2nd/6th RWR were withdrawn though the line to a support line.  On 13 April, the British artillery was more effective and the line was being held, with troops back in the old line and reoccupying houses.  That night they were relieved by the 2nd/6th RWR and returned to Hamet Billet for breakfast.

Several other Rugby men in the 2nd/6th and 2nd/7th Battalion RWR were killed in the period from 11 to 14 April, during this second major German attack, on this ‘quieter part of the line’

On 14 April 1918, during this second major German attack, on the ‘quieter part of the line’, John Henry Reynolds was ‘wounded in action’ with GSW (gunshot wound) to Knee.  [For more information see the biography of George Edgar White who died on the same day]

He was evacuated from the front line and by 30th April he had returned to England. He was sent to Mill Road Hospital, Liverpool, by which time he was also suffering from Gastritis. He died there at 12.45 am on 8th May 1918.

He is buried in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby. The inscription provided by his family reads
“JESU LOVER OF MY SOUL, LET ME TO THY BOSOM FLY”

John Henry Reynolds was awarded the British Way and Victory medals and his widow was awarded a pension of 20/5 per week.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Dodson, Geoffrey Hardwick. Died 2nd May 1918

Geoffrey Hardwick Dodson was born in Rugby in 1892 and christened at St Andrew’s Church on 14 October 1892. He lived with his father Frederick Hardwick Dodson, a sewing machine mechanic, mother Kate, elder brother Albert Frederick, elder sister Dorothy Grace and younger sister Marjorie at 2 Rowland Street, Rugby in 1901 and by the 1911 census the family lived at 4 St Matthew’s Street in Rugby.

He spent 5 years in the Volunteers and 3 years in the Territorials in England before emigrating to Australia when he was about 19 years old.

He left from London on 3 March 1911, described as a Plasterer on the OMRAH Orient Line to Freemantle, Western Australia.

He enlisted for WW1 at Perth on 4 January 1915.  He was described as a clerk, 5’6″ tall, weighed 120 lbs with 34″ chest. He had brown eyes and dark brown hair.

On 6 January he went to Blackboy Hill Military Training Camp which housed large numbers of Australian Imperial Force before going to battle in a front location in the Middle East.

He was a Trooper in the 3rd Reinforcement of the 10th Battalion Australian Light Horse Regiment Reg No 793 and embarked for Gallipoli on 16 May 1915. Sent to No 1 Stationary Hospital Mudros Gallipoli with G.S.W (gun shot wound) Forearm.

He was sent to No 1 Hospital Gallipoli on 31.5.15.  He had Diphtheria on 22.9.15 and was transferred to Mudros Anzac on 26.10.15.  He had Asthma and was admitted at Ghezirah on 27.12.15 and debility on 7 January 1916 at Alexandria.  In February 1916 he was in isolation with Diphtheria again at Heliopolis for 8 weeks. He embarked on the Argyllshire and returned to Australia for 4 months change and convalescence.   On 7 March 1916 he had developed Thrombosis.  He returned on 15 May 1916 as fit for duty from Freemantle on the Clan McCorquodale.

On 12 January 1918 he was sent to ‘Rest’ at Camp Port Said and returned on 26.1.18.  There was heavy fighting at the ES Salt Raid, Palestine.  Geoffrey was killed in action on 2 May 1918.

Dates vary on his 82 page soldier’s record.  It stated “body unburied every effort made to recover but impossible owing to heavy enemy fire at short range”.  237 soldiers in the 10th Light Horse Regiment were killed.

His Victory Medal, British War Medal, and Memorial Scroll and Plaque were sent to his mother with his effects at 4 St Matthew Street Rugby on 14 March 1919.

Commemorated on the Jerusalem War Memorial Cemetery Stone panel inscription Vide BRM 54/921

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Blundy, Albert Neate. Died 28th Apr 1918

Albert Neate BLUNDY was born on 29 June 1893 in Burbage, Wiltshire. He was baptised on 6 August 1893 at Burbage, Wiltshire. He was the son of William Blundy (1856-1936) and Martha née Neate, Blundy (1858-1913) who married in Marlborough in 1882.

In 1891, Albert’s father, Edward, was a ‘general haulier’ and the family were living at 23 Stables, Burbage. They then had four children. By 1901, when Albert was eight, the family had moved to live at the White Hart Inn, Stoke at St Mary Bourne, Hampshire, where Albert’s father was the publican.

Before 1911, the family moved to Rugby. In 1911, Albert’s parents had been married 28 years, and had had eight children, of whom seven were still living. Albert was 17 and a ‘machinist’ at BTH; his eldest brother was a ‘fitter’ there, and a younger brother of 14, was already working there as a ‘clerk’. They were living in a six room house at 172 Oxford Street, Rugby.

Just before the war Albert was working in the BTH Generator Department, and in an item ‘Rugby’s Magnificent Response’, in the Rugby Advertiser on 5 September 1914,[1] ‘Blundy’ is listed as joining ‘From the Works’ at BTH.

Albert joined up as No. 10852 in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox. & Bucks.). His record in the ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ states that he enlisted at Rugby, and his ‘Medal Roll’ indicates that he was initially in the 5th Battalion, and that he was later in the 2nd Battalion.

He went to France on 20 May 1915, and so became eligible for the 1914-1915 Star. This was the date that the 5th Battalion went to France, so Albert would have gone to France with his Battalion. In the absence of any Service Record for Albert, the date that he transferred to the 2nd Battalion is unknown, so the actions in which he was involved must be assumed. However, like all infantry soldiers, Albert would have experienced alternate service in and out of the front line, and occasions of desperate fighting.

5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford & Bucks. Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 42nd Brigade of the 14th Division and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford. In February 1915, it moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot.   On 21 May 1915 it mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front.   In 1915 it fought in the Action at Hooge, and experienced the first flamethrower attack by the Germans, and then the Second Attack on Bellewaarde.

In August 1915 the Rugby Advertiser advised that Albert had been wounded.
The old scholars of St Matthew’s, Boys’ School have suffered badly in recent engagements. Corporal G S Rowbottom, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, who, as recorded on page 2 of this issue, succumbed to wounds last week, making the sixth old St Matthew’s boy to give his life in his country’s service. Lce-Corpl A Ashworth, Pte A Blundy, and Pte R J Skinner, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and Sapper E R Ladbrooke, of the Royal Engineers, have been wounded.[2]

In 1916, the 5th Battalion – and indeed also the 2nd Battalion – fought in the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. At some date Albert was transferred to the 2nd Battalion and possibly this was when he was promoted to Lance Corporal.  However both the 5th and the 2nd Battalions were involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and the Battles of the Scarpe in 1917.

The 2nd Oxford & Bucks L.I. had returned home from India in 1903. When World War I started the Battalion was stationed at Albuhera barracks, Aldershot, and was part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division. As a regular Battalion it mobilised for war early, on 14 August 1914, and landed at Boulogne and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.

If Albert had been transferred to the 2nd Bn. in say 1917, a summary of the campaigns in which he may have been involved is described below.

‘The New Year of 1917 brought with it a period of severe weather conditions on the Somme plain which led to an unofficial truce between the two sides. In March 1917, the Germans began the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March – 5 April) and at the end of March the 2nd Ox and Bucks moved from the Somme to the back areas of Arras. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and other battalions of the regiment saw much involvement in the Arras Offensive … The 2nd Ox and Bucks took part in the battle of Arras from 11 April and had a leading role in the battle of Arleux on 28-29 April: during the battle the battalion protected the right flank of the Canadian 1st Division which was critical to the capture of the village of Arleux and sustained more than 200 casualties.’[3]

1918 started fairly quietly.

In January 1918, the 2nd Ox and Bucks marched to Beaulencourt, later that month they moved to Havrincourt Wood and then on 9 February to Metz-en-Couture. The 2nd Ox and Bucks were at Vallulart Camp, Ytres, when on 21 March 1918 the Germans launched the last-gasp Spring Offensive (Operation Michael).[4]

This 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.

The 2nd Ox and Bucks were due to go into the corps reserve when the enemy began the Spring offensive with a colossal bombardment of Allied positions. The Spring offensive led to the furthest advance by either side since 1914. On 22 March 1918 the 2nd Ox and Bucks were in position around the village of Bertincourt. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and other battalions of the regiment sustained heavy casualties as part of the defence of the Somme during the Battle of St. Quentin (21–23 March), the First Battle of Bapaume (24–25 March) and in subsequent battles that saw the Germans achieve significant gains. The 2nd Ox and Bucks were forced back across the old Somme battlefield to the 1916 line on the Ancre. The battalion remained in the Ancre area from 29 March 1918 to 3 April 1918. After the enemy Spring offensive … lost its momentum, the Germans launched Operation Georgette in April which the Ox and Bucks defended against in the Battle of the Lys and subsequent actions.[5]

There was a general fighting withdrawal following the German attacks. The Diary of the 5th Brigade ‘… is necessarily incomplete owing to the documents required for it being lost or destroyed during the retirement between 21st and 28th.’[6]

The Chronicles of the 2nd Ox & Bucks noted some of the events in the following period.[7]

16 April – the Regiment relieved the 2nd H.L.I, in the right sub-section of the Brigade front; H.Q. at Boiry St. Martin.   Two men wounded.

17 April – A Company was on the right front; D on the left front (railway inclusive); C in support; B in reserve. Casualties :- 1 man killed, 1 died of wounds, 2 men wounded, and 2 missing.

19 April – Inter-company reliefs carried out.

20 April – 1 man wounded.

22 April – After a quiet 6 days’ tour the Regiment was relieved …

25 April – the Regiment relieved the 2nd H.L.I. in the left sub-section of the Brigade front, without incident; H.Q. at Boisleux-au-Mont; … A continuous front line, and fairly good trenches.

28 April – Inter-company reliefs carried out.

As can be seen, in the period prior to 28 April, the Battalion section was relatively quiet, and there are no more obvious actions when Albert may have been wounded. It is not entirely clear whether Albert was killed or wounded. His Medal Card notes that he ‘Died’ rather than ‘KinA’ or ‘DofW’. This implies that

‘… some time had passed between … being wounded and dying – the next-of-kin were informed that he had ‘died’, rather than ‘died of wounds’.   Exactly how much time had to pass before this distinction was made is not clear.’[8]

It is thus possible that Albert was wounded at an earlier date, and had reached a medical aid post before he died on 28 April 1918. The battalion was in action near Boisleux-au-Mont which is some eight kilometres south of Arras. It seems likely that he was wounded and that he was evacuated to an Advanced Dressing Station, possibly the one at Blairville.

On the 27th March a corps main dressing station was formed at Bac du Sud on the site of No. 43 C.C.S., with advanced dressing stations at Wailly, Blairville, and Monchy-au-Bois.[9]

Blairville is some six kilometres to the west, and this is probably where Albert died and was first buried, in Plot 1, Row B, in the nearby Blairville Orchard British Cemetery.

This small cemetery was not preserved and in 1923, the soldiers buried there were ‘concentrated’ [exhumed, identified, moved and reburied] some 25 km north at the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery. His body was identified by a ‘cross, numerals, Lance Corporal’s stripes’. Effects, forwarded to base were ‘9 coins and Disc’. The ‘removals were undertaken by local labour …’.

He is now buried in Plot: VIII. R. 38. in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, which is just south of the town of Souchez, some four kilometres south west of Lens.

‘Caberet Rouge’ was a small, red-bricked, red-tiled café that stood close to this site in the early days of the First World War. The café was destroyed by shellfire in March 1915, but it gave its unusual name to this sector and to a communication trench that led troops up the front-line. Commonwealth soldiers began burying their fallen comrades here in March 1916. The cemetery was used mostly by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Corps until August 1917 and by different fighting units until September 1918. It was greatly enlarged in the years after the war when as many as 7,000 graves were concentrated here from more than 100 other cemeteries in the area.

Albert was awarded the Victory and British medals, and also the 1914-1915 Star. It seems that nobody had applied for his medals as the ‘O i/c records, Warwick, requests auth. re disposal of medals of dec’d men of Ox & B L I – 13.9.20.’.

Ernest is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also on the list of BTH Employees Who Served in the War 1914 – 1918,[10] and on the BTH War Memorial.[11]

Albert died one year to the day, after a fellow Rugby member of his Battalion died – Ernest Edward Welch is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.[12]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Albert Blundy 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]       Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/, and Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914

[2]       Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/21st-aug-1915-gas-boiling-oil-tar/, and Rugby Advertiser, 21 August 1915.

[3]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry

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

[5]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry.

[6]   WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920,Various Infantry Brigades, 2nd Division.

[7]     Based on Extracts from the Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, see: http://www.lightbobs.com/1918-april—august.html.

[8]         http://www.epitaphsofthegreatwar.com/killed-in-action/.

[9]         https://archive.org/stream/medicalservicesg03macp/medicalservicesg03macp_djvu.txt.

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

[11]     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.

[12]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/welch-ernest-edward-died-28th-apr-1917/.

Donnovan, Joseph. Died 26th Apr 1918

Joseph Donnovan was born in 1887 at Hillmorton. He was one of 8 children of Thomas (a Bricklayer Labourer) and Hariet Donnovan who lived in Lower Street Hillmorton.

At age 13 he was a Yardman on a Farm in Hillmorton.

He then worked in the Carpenter’s Shop at the BTH Rugby. He married Nellie Bignell in Rugby in 1913 and their daughter Eva M Donnovan was born at the end of the year and they lived at 19 Bath Street, Rugby.

He was a Private – number 204087 in the Gloucester Regiment and served in France and Flanders 12th (Service) (Bristol) Battalion.

He was killed on 26 April 1918. His grave is at Comines-Waneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

In the 1921 Rugby Advertiser:
In Loving Memory of Pte J Donovan who was killed in France on 26 April 1918. Gone but not forgotten From his loving wife and daughter.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM