Chambers, Charles William. Died 21st Mar 1918

Charles William CHAMBERS, was born on 7 March 1888, in Braunston, Northamptonshire, and baptised on 13 May 1888 in Welton Northamptonshire, the eldest son of William Henry (b.c. 1859 Braunston – 1950) and Amy Alice, née Matthews, Chambers (b.c.1868 Weldon – 1927), of Braunston. They had married on 30 March 1887 in Braunston.

In 1901, William Henry Chambers was enumerated as a ‘farm labourer’ with eight children, in a house in High Street, Braunston. Then sometime between 1901 and 1903, the family moved to Hillmorton, Rugby and in 1911 William was a ‘working farm bailiff’ and living at Abbotts Farm, Hillmorton.

In 1911, Charles was 23, and a ‘farm labourer’. He then had ten younger siblings at the family home, six brothers and four sisters. However, the records show that later, until just before the war, Frank was working at British Thompson Houston in Rugby.

At some date, he enlisted in Rugby as a Private No.11054, in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks].

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

Charles’ Medal Card shows he went to France on 20 May 1915 and he would thus have been with his Battalion when they went to France, and would have been engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1915: the Action of Hooge, when he probably experienced part of the first flamethrower attack by the Germans; the Second Attack on Bellewaarde and in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

Then in 1917 with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the so called Battle of Arras and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9 – 14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy Ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The Battalion’s activities in the Arras offensive can be found in more detail in the account of the life of Charles’ colleague in the 5th Ox and Bucks, Frank Scotton who died on the first day of that action, 9 April 1917. In later 1917, the Battalion was involved in the Third Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Langemark, and the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele.

The following year, 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 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 formation for the British order of battle for that period, which was also known as the Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March 1918), included the 5th Ox and Bucks in the 14th (Light) Division in Gough’s Fifth Army.

The action on that first day, 21 March 1918 has already been described in some detail or consult other references.[2]. The 14th Division held a line from north of Moy to Witancourt. Whilst much of the Division ‘did not fight well’ and fell back, the forward Battalions, including the 5th Ox and Bucks, were in a salient and with five other depleted Battalions came under heavy attack from the far superior strength of five German Divisions.   The Battalion Diary[3] provides a summary of early 1918 and of the actions on 21 March 1918.

5th Service Battalion – Summary of Events, 1918.

On New Year’s Day the Battalion was on the move again back to the Somme country, where January was spent mostly in training. About the middle of the month the 42nd Brigade was ordered to shed a Battalion, and for a few days the fate of the 5th Battalion hung in the balance. Eventually, however, it was decided that the 6th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry should be broken up to furnish reinforcements, instead of the 5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, and during February the Battalion was in the trenches at Bois d’Urvilliers, with rest intervals at Montescourt. The first twenty days of March were similarly spent, and all was quiet. Then on 21 March descended the German avalanche, … On that day and on 23 March the Battalion put up a stout fight, but, being overwhelmed by numbers, was withdrawn only with difficulty. On the 4th April it again came in for further hot fighting, and was again forced back, its casualties in the fortnight having amounted to some twenty-six officers and upwards of five hundred men.

Misty morning. Action:

6.5 a.m. Battalion, under command of Major Labouchere, moves up to Battle zone. A and B Companies lose very heavily from shell-fire. Enemy reach Battle zone about 11.30 a.m. Front posts lost, having been obliterated (with their occupants) by shell-fire.   Second line held in front of Brigade H.Q. along Benay-Essigny road. Some hand-to-hand fighting; 8 prisoners taken. Enemy massing in Lambay Wood and Essigny all afternoon. Line abandoned at night; all British troops retire behind the canal at Flavy. Casualties: Lieut. B. A. Anderson, M.C., and 2nd Lieut. W. Fawcitt, killed; Major C. H. Williams, 2nd Lieut. J. F. Traynor, and 2nd Lieut. J. W. Baldwin, M.M., wounded; Missing: Lieut. W. A. Ramsay, Lieut. E. C. Cook, 2nd Lieut. F. J. Collinge, (all three afterwards reported prisoners of war,) and 2nd Lieut. R. J. McL. W. Theobald, (later reported killed).’

At some time on 21 March, Charles Chambers was one of those Killed in Action.

During this and subsequent battles the Division took very heavy casualties, losing some 6000 men, killed or injured.   The Division was withdrawn from the line and engaged in building defensive works in the rear. The 5th Battalion having taken heavy losses (see above), was withdrawn, and on 27 April 1918 was reduced to a cadre and on 16 June 1918 returned to England as part of the 16th (Irish) Division, and then on 20 June 1918, was absorbed by the 18th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

After Charles’ death, the allies held the advance which had badly weakened the Germans and overextended their supply lines, and then fought back.

Because of the intensity of the battle, and as the Germans were moving forward, many of those killed were never found or formally identified. In the confusion of the retreat and rearguard action, when Charles was ‘Killed in Action’, his body was never found or was not identified.   He was probably killed in the area that the Germans overran on 21 March 1918.

Charles is remembered on Panels 50/51 of the Pozieres Memorial.   Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert. The Memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery.

The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.[4]

Charles’ death was reported in the Coventry Evening Telegraph[5] together with that of one of his younger brothers Frederick,[6] who died some two weeks later. ‘… other additions to the Rugby roll of honour are … Sergt. S. Chambers and Pte. Charles Chambers, sons of Mr W. Chambers, farm bailiff, Hillmorton; …’.

Charles was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star.   He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate; on the BTH Memorial and, with his brother, on the south side of the Hillmorton Memorial – ‘CHAMBERS, Frederick, Gloucester Regt.; CHAMBERS, Charles, Oxon & Bucks L. I.’

Charles’ younger brother, Fredrick Louis Chambers (2 May 1893 – 4 April 1918), died of wounds some two weeks after Charles, also in Flanders. He originally enlisted at Rugby into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, No.11893, and then was transferred to the 12th Entrenching Battalion, and then to the 14th (Service) Battalion (West of England) Gloucestershire Regiment, No.37798, and attached to the 7th Battalion, the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). He is buried in Namps-au-Val British Cemetery, south-west of Amiens, with the inscription ‘Until the Day Dawns’. At the end of March 1918, when the German offensive in Picardy began, the 41st, 50th and 55th Casualty Clearing Stations came to Namps-au-Val and made this graveyard. Charles left a widow, Julia Amy, née Sainsbury, Chambers (b.c.1896) whom he had married on 22 April 1916, at St Peter, Dartmouth Park Hill, Islington, and who was latterly of Hillmorton Road, Paddox Estate, Rugby. For some reason, he is not listed on the Rugby Memorial Gate, but is remembered with his brother, Charles, on the Hillmorton War Memorial.



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This article on Charles William Chambers 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, December 2017.


Thanks to Christine Hancock of the RFHG for coordinating and providing data for the Project and to all those have transcribed and searched out and photo

[1] .

[2]       Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918 – the Fifth Army Retreat, Pen and Sword Books Ltd, 2014, ISBN: 978 1 78159 2670, p.49.

[3]       Abstracted by–bucks-li-1917-1918.html .

[4]       Information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site at .

[5]       Coventry Evening Telegraph, Saturday, 20 April 1918.

[6]       The initial ‘S’ seems incorrect and this was Fredrick Louis Chambers, Died of wounds, 4 April 1918.


Bicknell, Albert Victor. Died 21st Mar 1918

Albert Victor Bicknell was born in late 1887 to Arthur Bicknell and his wife Sarah Ann née Wright.

Arthur and Sarah were both born in about 1852 in Warwickshire in Bulkington and Barnacle respectively, and their marriage was registered at Foleshill in the last quarter of 1873. In 1881 Arthur was a coal miner and the family including Elizabeth Wright, Arthur’s mother-in-law, was living in Bulkington.

The family then, and certainly later, were much involved with brass bands, and indeed there was a Bicknell Brass Band,[1] founded by Albert’s grandfather, George Bicknell, which would by 1901 become the Bulkington Brass Band.[2]

There were four children: Thomas E was born about 1875 in Barnacle, Warwickshire; Amy was born in 1877; Clara A in 1878; and Albert Victor in 1887. Before early 1891, indeed probably before 1887, the family had moved to live at 60 Oxford Street, Rugby. Albert was baptised on 10 November 1887 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby; Arthur was now a labourer, and in 1891, Arthur’s mother-in-law who had been with them in Bulkington, was still living with them, as well as some lodgers. They were still in Oxford Street in 1901, when Albert was three years old and his grandmother was 90; the house was now numbered 123, which may represent the Post Office renumbering rather than any change of residence.

Albert’s marriage with Sarah Ellen Beer was registered in Rugby in the second quarter of 1907. She was about a year younger than Albert and had been born in about 1888/89 in New Bilton.

The family had moved to Coventry before 1911, and Albert was a ‘General Labourer, Engineer Machine Works’ and they were then living at 74 Thomas Street. Albert and Sarah already had two children: Elsie, 1908-1954; and [Kathleen] Olive, 1910-1972. George Thomas Arthur, 1912-1965, was born the next year. After a five year gap, some whilst Albert was in France, the youngest child, Frances Lillian, 1917-1991, was born. Her father probably never saw her.

Very soon after war was declared, Albert enlisted in Birmingham as No.8031 in the 10th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. A family photograph showed him looking very young and ‘pink cheeked’. His number suggests that he enlisted in early September 1914, when the 10th (Service) Battalion was raised at Warwick as part of the second of Kitchener’s new armies.

The battalion was assigned to the 57th Brigade in the 19th Division training on Salisbury Plain. In December 1914 the Battalion was in billets for the winter and in March 1915 concentrated with its division around Tidworth. Whilst some records suggest that the Battalion embarked for France and Flanders on 17 May 1915, other records have the division landed in France on 17 July 1915. Albert’s medal card recorded that he went to France on 18 July 1915, which would support the later date.

During the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the Battalion was in the operational area between 1 July and 7 August and between 7 October and until the end of that battle on 18 November 1916.

Family recollections are indeed that he served in the first battle of the Somme in 1916. It would also appear that he had leave in UK – or perhaps he had been wounded – sometime at the end of that year or early in 1917, after the Somme.

A portrait photograph (copyright restricted by owner) can be seen on the Ancestry website.[3] It was said to have been taken ‘after the battle’ in 1916, presumably in the UK.   This tends to be confirmed by the birth of his fourth child the next year on 26 September 1917.

He was promoted to Lance Corporal at some date, possibly after he returned to France.

The history of 19th (Western) Division[4] shows that it was involved in 1917 in the following actions:

The Battle of Messines
The Third Battles of Ypres
  – The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge
  – The Battle of Polygon Wood
– The Battle of Broodseinde
– The Battle of Poelcapelle
– First Battle of Passchendaele
– The Second Battle of Passchendaele

The following year, 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 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 formation for the British order of battle for that period which was also known as the Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March 1918), included 10th Warwickshires which were near St. Quentin with the 19th (Western) Division and the 57th Brigade in the Third Army (under Byng). The Battalion was in action east of Beaumetz facing Doignies.[5]

Because of the intensity of the battle, and as the Germans were moving forward, many of those killed could not be identified. Albert was killed on the first day of the action on 21 March 1918.

The Battalion War Diary for 21 March 1918 includes the following.

– 5am – The Battn. was in rest camp in BARASTRE when the alarm was given by intense artillery fire; orders were given to stand to arms and extra S.A.A., bombs, rifle grenades, rations etc were issued; the Battn was ready to move by Breakfasts were then served.

– 11.50am – Orders to move to assembly positions were received … The following officers were present … B Coy: A/Capt. H. A. Hewett, in Command. 2nd. Lt. E. T. Wilson[6]

– 3.20am – The Battn. was ordered to move into position for a Brigade counter-attack on DOIGNIES; for this Battn. was in Brigade Reserve …

– 6.40pm – The remainder of the Brigade … launched counter-attack.

– 7.45pm – The line dug roughly followed the 120 contour …

Some three days later the War Diary quoted,

‘Casualties were:- … Other Ranks: killed – 33; Wounded – 191; Missing – 83.’

Albert was one of those killed during the actions on that initial day of the German attack. His body was found and identified and was buried initially in Barastre Communal Cemetery (Extension), row G, E, 5. The cemetery was probably then behind German lines and contained 284 German graves, 46 French, and the graves of 39 from the United Kingdom, four from New Zealand and one from Australia.

Some time after Albert’s death, the allies held the advance which had badly weakened the Germans and their supply lines, and they fought back. The 10th Battalion ended the war in the same formations on 11 November 1918, well to the east, just west of Bavay, France.

The British graves at Barastre were later concentrated [moved] some 10km north to the H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St Mein. Ecoust-St.Mein is a village between Arras, Cambrai and Bapaume. H.A.C. Cemetery is about 800 metres south of the village on the west side of the D956 road to Beugenatre. Albert was reburied in Plot VIII. C. 26. On the Burial Return[7] his name was spelled ‘Bricknell’, (it was correct on the Barastre Cemetery list) and identification was confirmed by his ‘service dress, G S buttons, boots, cross’. The name was correct on the official memorial stone,5 however, there was no additional wording requested by the family, and no family details appear in the Graves Register.

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal, and the 1914-15 Star.

After the war, Sarah E Bicknell remarried with Robert W Knight; the marriage was registered at Rugby [6d, 1457] in the fourth quarter of 1921.



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This article 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, January 2015, and updated December 2017 and March 2018.


Thanks to Angela Pain who visited the RFHG stand on a Heritage Day, 2014, and provided background information and put the author in contact with her cousin Clive Rodgers who has provided information and images which were posted on the Ancestry website.   In due course, it is intended that an updated – and corrected – version of this biography will be provided by Clive Rodgers, which will hopefully include the presently withheld images.

[1]       The Bicknell Band was founded by George Bicknell and initially only included Bicknell family members from the Bulkington area, Warwickshire. In the 20th Century, the name changed to the Bulkington Silver Band. The last conductor who was a member of the Bicknell family was in charge in the 1970s.

[2]       A photograph can be seen at


[4]       Information from ‘The Long Long Trail’.

[5]       Copyright withheld for the present by the family.

[6]       See Rugby Remembers, 23 March 1918.

[7]       Burial Return, 10 February 1926, CWGC. The returns are lists of individuals who have been exhumed from their original burial location and reburied in a particular cemetery. They provide basic details of the individual, but may include information as to their original burial location and occasionally some details of how they were identified. These additional details would have been omitted if the individual was reburied in the same cemetery or identified using normal methods, for example, via a service tag.

The 1918 Spring Offensive – Operation Michael

The 1918 Spring Offensive was a series of German attacks on the Western Front beginning on 21 March 1918. It was a period when Rugby suffered some 40 men ‘killed in action’ or who ‘died of wounds’ in the France and Flanders sector.

Following the Russian Revolution and the Russian Capitulation, the Germans had nearly 50 Divisions of troops available from the fighting on the Russian Front. Although short of supplies, the Germans’ only chance of victory was to use these additional forces to defeat the Allies before the men and resources of the United States could be fully deployed, following the US entry into the war in April the previous year [1917].

There were four German offensives planned – Michael, Georgette, Gneisenau and Blücher-Yorck.   Operation Michael was the initial main attack on the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army. This started on 21 March 1918. It was intended to break through the Allied lines between the British and French armies and outflank the British forces before driving them to the Channel.   The Germans expected that the French would then seek an armistice. The other offensives were subsidiary and designed as diversions.

The Allies had concentrated their main forces to defend the approaches to the Channel Ports and the strategic city of Amiens. They had left the more ‘worthless’ and devastated ground in the Somme area more lightly defended.

The First Battles of the Somme in the defence against Operation Michael can be divided as below, however the nature of these many defensive actions in so many places makes it difficult to apportion Rugby’s many casualties to any particular Action without further detailed study:[1]

Battle of St. Quentin, 21–23 March

Actions at the Somme crossings, 24–25 March

First Battle of Bapaume, 24–25 March

Battle of Rosières, 26–27 March

First Battle of Arras, 28 March

Battle of the Avre, 4 April 1918

Battle of the Ancre, 5 April 1918

To enable their initial breakthrough, the German artillery developed an effective and economical phased creeping barrage scheme: first, a brief bombardment on command and communications; then, destruction of artillery; and lastly an attack on 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. It was claimed to be the biggest barrage of the entire war – over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.[2]

The German army had concentrated its best and most experienced troops into specially trained self-supporting ‘storm-trooper’ units, to infiltrate and bypass the Allied front line units, leaving any strong points to be ‘mopped-up’ later. Whilst this gave the German army an initial advantage in the attack, many of these specialist formations suffered very heavy casualties and the quality of the remaining units, without their more experienced men, proved to be less effective. The Germans failed exploit their gains and the following German infantry, attacking in large waves, also suffered heavy casualties.

During this period, the allies were moving back, fighting rearguard actions at a very heavy cost in casualties. There were very poor trench-lines in the areas recently handed over to the British by the French – indeed, in some cases, the expected trench lines were merely marked by the removal of the turf! Defence had depended on strong-points and when these were by-passed and later surrounded, the men fought to the last of their ammunition and were then killed or captured as they tried to fight back through the Germans to their own lines. A large number were forced to surrender and were taken prisoners.

In the critical period from 21 March to end April 1918, some 27 men from Rugby were killed in action or died from wounds in France and Belgium: 12 in March and 15 in April. They were from a wide range of units, as all available men were thrown into the many desperate defensive actions.

Because the Germans were moving forward, there were many casualties whose bodies were not recovered or identified and these men are now remembered on Memorials to the Missing. Large numbers were also taken prisoner and their fate was not always known until after the war.

However, the German army had also suffered heavy casualties, and these were of their specialist and experienced troops. Also, because of their rapid initial progress, the Germans were unable to move supplies and reinforcements forward fast enough to maintain their advance and the offensives petered out. By late April 1918, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed and they were left holding ground on the old Somme battlefields which was now of dubious value and which would prove impossible to hold with their depleted units.

After the situation stabilised somewhat in May 1918, five more men from Rugby were lost during the month, and another eight in June, two of them from the newly renamed Royal Air Force, as the German advance faltered and counter-attacks to stabilise the line were carried out. A number died of wounds which meant that they were at least recovered to a first aid process, rather than being completely lost.

In August 1918, the Allies began a counter-offensive with the support of great numbers of American troops and started using new artillery techniques and more effective operational methods. This ‘Hundred Days’ Offensive’ resulted in the Germans retreating or being driven from all of the ground taken in the Spring Offensive, the collapse of the Hindenburg Line and the capitulation of the German Empire in November.

[1]    Information edited from – For a more detailed description, see For further information see, Muirland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918 – the Fifth Army Retreat, Pen & Sword Books, ISBN: 978 1 78159 2670, 2014.

[2]       Other references say 3,500,000 shells.

Hay, Douglas. Died 18th Mar 1918

Douglas was born in the July qtr. 1892 in Cranleigh in Surrey, and was christened in St Nicolas church in Cranleigh on 10th August 1892. In the parish register we find his parents are Alexander and Elizabeth Francis. Alexander’s occupation was a Bailiff and they were married in July qrt.1887 in Newport Pagnell RG.

In the 1891 census we find the family on a farm in Cranleigh with their first child, Colin. Douglas, aged 8, appears in the 1901 census in Towcester, Northants, when his mother is recorded as a widow, employed as a principal of a school. His father died on the 26th October 1896, when Douglas was four years old, and from the calendar of wills and administrations we can see that his mother Elizabeth received £406 14s. In the 1911 census he was living in Rugby at 92 Murray Road, with his mother and brother Colin. With his brother he was working as a winder at the B.T.H.

From his attestation papers we find that he had gone to Canada and served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police from 11th September 1914 till 10th September 1915 before joining the army on the 21st October 1915. He was attached to the 2nd company London Yeomanry. He was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on 13th Aug 1917 then on the 19th Aug to the Tank Corps, He was posted to the training depot, and on the 26th Aug 1917 he was transferred to the 3rd battalion of the Yorkshire and Lancs regiment.

He was “Home” 21st October 1915 to the 9th May 1916 then B.E.F. 10 March 1916 till 18 August. Home 19th August till 30th October 1917. he was posted to the 2/5 Yorks & Lancs Regiment on the 1st November 1917. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 3rd January 1918, and he relinquished the promotion on the on the 4th February 1918 and was transferred to the 1/4 battalion Yorks & Lancs on 4th February 1918.

From his medical sheet we find he stood 5ft 9 inches tall he had a scar on his right thigh, blue eyes, fair hair, he weighed 12 stone and his chest was 39 inches with a 3 inch expansion.

The war diary states that the battalion was at the West hock Ridge. On the 12th the battalion carried out training in small parties, on the 13th the same as 12th, 1 ordinary rank wounded, on the 14th the same as 13th   but states the strength of the 49 officers and 1022 ordinary ranks on the 15th same as 14th. On the 17th it’s the same as 15th but 1 ordinary rank wounded. On the 18th they move to Judee sub section:

Battalion moved into the line relieving 1st/6th Duke of Wellingtons Regiment being relieved at West hock and Railway Dugouts by the 4th Battalion Duke of Wellingtons Regiment. Casualties Ordinary Ranks killed 2, 3 Wounded.

Reports for the next few days read:
Considerable number of enemy gas shells (BLUE) and the support line was frequently heavily shelled casualties thus:
19th    4 ordinary ranks killed
20th    2 ordinary ranks killed, 6 ordinary ranks wounded.                                                21st     8 ordinary ranks killed, 11 ordinary ranks wounded 

Private Douglas Hay 205383 1st/4th Bn. York’s and Lancaster Regt. was Killed in Action on 18th March 1918. Aged 26. Son of Mrs E. F. Hay and the late Alexander Hay.

He was buried at the Dunhallow A.D.S. cemetery in Ypres Belgium, V.A.8

Details on the headstone sheet indicate that Mrs Hay had moved to Awelfryn High St, Prestatyn.



Botterill, Albert William. Died 18th Mar 1918

Albert William Botterill was baptised February 6th 1889 in St Oswald’s Church New Bilton, his parents Henry and Mary Ann nee Chamberlain were married in the March qtr. of 1885 in Towcester, he was the second son in the family, the 1891 census has the family living at 1 Avon Cottage with his elder brother Frank who was five years old, by 1901 they had moved to 101 Victoria Street with the family with the addition of Ada 9,Wilfred 6,and Bertha 1,He marries Alice May Turton on the 3rd August 1914,having their first child Albert born in the June quarter 1915,

From reports in the Rugby Advertiser dated 14th November we read the following:
Pte A W Bottrill, 2nd Co. 1st Coldstream Guards, has written to his parents, residing at 94 Bridget Street, Rugby, stating that he is in hospital suffering from rheumatism and a shrapnel bullet wound in the shoulder. He was being transferred to Versailles, near Paris. Pte Bottrill, who is a reservist, was employed in the Turbine Department of the B.T.H, and was called up on August 5th—two days after his marriage. In one of the postcards he has sent home he states that he has heard from some of the Royal Warwicks that his brother Frank, who is a reservist in that regiment, was wounded, but so far the parents have received no confirmation of this.

From the 24th April 1915 issue it was reported that:
Pte Frank Henry Bottrill, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was admitted to Boulogne Hospital on Easter Sunday, suffering from a severe bullet wound in the head, and as the result of an operation he has lost the sight of the left eye. Pte Bottrill who was a reservist, and is married and lives at Wellingborough, is an old St Matthew’s boy. His brother-Pte A W Bottrill, of the Coldstream Guards—was badly wounded on November 2nd, and has never really recovered from the effects of the wound. He has, however, been back to the fighting line ; but the last news that was heard of him was that he was at Havre recuperating, although he expected to be soon drafted back to the trenches.

On the 23 September 1916 it was announced that Lance Corp. A. W. Botterill was wounded.

From the war diary we learn that on the 2nd March 1918, the 2nd battalion Coldstream Guards had been relieved by the 2nd battalion Grenadier Guards and had returned to Arras to billets in Arras prison. They had undertaken training for three days, before marching on the 6th March to the support line relieving the 1st battalion the Irish Guards. On this journey 1 other rank killed and 4 other rank wounded. They remained in support trenches till the 10th March, when the battalion paraded at 7:20pm and relieved the 1st battalion Irish Guards at the front trenches till the 14th March. They were relieved by the 2nd battalion Grenadier Guards and proceeded to Sterling camp arriving about 10:30 pm. From the 15th to the 17th March they were training in Stirling camp and on the 18th March the battalion paraded at 7 pm and marched to relieve the 1st battalion Irish Guards in the support trenches, casualties 1 other rank killed (this would have been A W Botterill) 5 other ranks wounded.

He is buried in Fampoux British Cemetery Pas de Calais it states on his head stone

Private Botterill A.W. service number 7956 aged 29 Husband of Alice May Botterill of Church Cottage, Clifton, Rugby with the following inscription




16th Mar 1918. The Advertiser Passing on Scheme Works Smoothly


We should like to take this opportunity of thanking our readers for the generous way in which they received the suggestion we made last week with regard to sharing copies of the Advertiser with their friends, and for the wholehearted co-operation of a very large number in giving effect to it ; and in this acknowledgment we desire to include our agents who are giving their loyal assistance in the practical working of the idea.

It may be useful to again remind all concerned that the object of the drastic reduction of paper supplies by the Government is to limit the importation of pulp and other materials from which news-paper is made in order to release shipping for the conveyance of food to our shores, and other purposes vital to the carrying on of the war. To make one copy of the paper serve as many readers as possible is, therefore, a distinctly patriotic action.

Our sincere apologies are due to our readers for so much space in our last issue being taken by advertisements and official notices. The change we had to make came upon us so suddenly that we had no time to re-arrange our advertising contracts, but we are now taking steps to ration the space allotted to this class of matter, as well as our output of papers.

It should not, however, be forgotten that a medium like the Advertiser for making public one’s announcements is of national importance to the commercial and social life of the community. This applies especially to auctioneers’ announcements of agricultural sales, which this time of the year are always very numerous.

Then, too, space must be found for official announcements, and we were further handicapped last week by a heavy demand upon our already crowded columns by a lengthy notice under “ The Representation of the People Act,” which it was necessary to insert on that date.

Advertisements are generally read with interest, but our readers may feel assured that we shall do our best to keep them within reasonable limits, and that all important happenings in the town and district will be duly recorded in the Advertiser as heretofore.


The first general meeting of shareholders of the Warwickshire Fruit and Vegetable Collecting Society Ltd (registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies’ Act), was held at the County Hall, Warwick, last week. The primary business was to amend and pass the rules of the society. The report of the Provisional Committee was then read and adopted. Great interest was shown in the progress made towards establishing branch depots in the rural districts for the collection and marketing of surplus produce from cottage gardeners and allotment holders. It is probable that the neighbourhoods of Warwick, Rugby, Solihull, and Brailes will be the first to benefit under the scheme, and that the method of working these depots will be the same as those already found successful at Stratford-on-Avon, where a pioneer collecting and marketing depot was established last summer. The report of the Provisional Committee showed that already 6,63l shares had been applied for. The Provisional Committee was elected en bloc, with power to add to their number, as the Committee of the Warwickshire Fruit ans Vegetable Collecting Society. They comprise : Lord Leigh, Lady Ilkeston, Sir Michael Lakin, Bart, Mrs Arkwright, Mrs Melville, Mr A Allsebrook, Mr F Quartley, Mr J James, Mr H C Smith, Mr A Trafford. and Miss C Margesson.


During the past few weeks the food problem has been much easier locally, and most people have been able to obtain provisions of one kind or another. The usual quantity of stock was sent to the Cattle Market on Monday ; and although the local butchers failed to secure their full quota of beef, mutton was fairly plentiful. Since Monday several beasts have been sent to the local butchers, so that there is every prospect of householders obtaining fair supplies this week-end.

The quantity of cheese has been very limited of late, but it is hoped that this state of affairs will now rapidly improve.


Held at Rugby on Friday test week, before Messrs E M G Carmichael (chairman), J Findlay (assessor for the employers), and E G Evans (workmen’s assessor).

R. J. Skinner, 83 Abbey Street, pleaded not guilty to refusing to leave the workshop while the worse for liquor and creating a disturbance by persisting in remaining until he was ultimately carried out.—The foreman stated that on February 15th defendant was ordered to come back at seven o’clock and work all night. He did not turn up at seven o’clock, and at 10.15, while witness was at supper, he was fetched to Skinner, whom he found lying in the balance pit. Witness roused him, and he then appeared to be dazed. Witness told him he had better go home and come in in the morning, but he was mad drunk and commenced to use filthy language. He picked a hammer up and said, “ I will smash your brains out if you give me the sack.” Defendant produced a bottle of beer, and after drinking the beer he smashed the bottle on the wall. As witness could not persuade him to go home, he sent for the watchman.—Defendant : Perhaps he is the bloke who knocked me about.—Witness added that the watchman tried to persuade defendant to leave but he took his coat off and threatened to fight. They had to send for another watchman, and in the end to carry him out.—Defendant stated that he had been on the premises a quarter of an hour before he was accused of being drunk, and he also contended that he was entitled to sleep from 10 till 11, and should not have been disturbed—The night watchman deposed that defendant was very drunk and kept the other men from working. After he was put out he tried to get back, and was swearing and raving near the gate till two o’clock in the morning.—This was corroborated by another witness.—Defendant said the reason he would not go away was that someone said, “ Put him out.” He replied, “ There is not one amongst you can put me out.” They then started upon him and knocked him about.—In reply to the Chairman, he said he had been in the Army, and had been wounded and blown up. He had not been discharged, but lent to the firm.—The representative of the firm stated that Skinner had asked to be returned to the Colours. They had done so, and at the same time they sent a copy of the report to the Ministry of Munitions. He was a skilled fitter, and served his apprenticeship with them. They were very sorry the affair had happened, but defendant held up the whole shop.—Fined 60s in one case, and the other adjourned.

G Bailey, Daventry Road, Dunchurch, was summoned for sleeping during working hours.—It was stated that defendant was found lying on a table in the winding department fast asleep. The man who worked with him had complained that he had to do most of the work, and the foreman had remonstrated with him on the matter.—Defendant said he had a pain in his stomach ; he laid down to ease it, and he dropped off to sleep. He contended that he had always done his fair share of work.—Adjourned till May 17th.


Mr D H Hefford, stepson of Mr W F Wood, has recently been gazetted Second-Lieutenant and attached to the 5th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Mr Arthur Morson (clerk to the Rugby Urban Council) and Mr A H Moseley (formerly of Rugby) attended an Investiture by the King of the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday last.


Pte P Mace, 2nd Oxford and Bucks L.I, of Hillmorton, who was recently transferred from his internment camp in Germany to Murren, Switzerland, writes : “ I can assure you it is quite a relief to be away from that wretched barbed wire. Everything here is so different to what it used to be in Germany. There you had a snarling Hun and a rifle following you everywhere.” After expressing his thanks for the splendid parcels sent to him, he adds : “ I suppose you know that all we have to live on was what you kind people sent from England. . . .”

Sergt Walter Kempton, Rifle Brigade, of Rugby, who has been a prisoner of war in Germany for exactly 3½ years, has been transferred to Holland. For 2½ years food parcels and bread have been regularly despatched to Sergt Kempton through the Rugby Committee, and grateful letters of thanks have been received from him.

A Dunchurch man, Rifleman W Pearce, K.R.R.C, who is a prisoner of war at Cassel, has this week been added to the Rugby list. Arrangements have been made for the regular despatch of his food parcels.

A PIONEER AVIATOR.—One of our village lads, Joseph Henry Dell, though barely 17 years old, joined the R.F.C. nine weeks ago as a fitter. On Saturday last he ess[?]yed his first aerial voyage, and writes in glowing terms of his experiences. With Dell on board as his passenger, the pilot flew some 70 miles at a height of 2,000ft. and while in the air looped the loop twice and performed other revolutions. The embryo airman [illegeable] writes :—“ It made me feel nervous for a while, being so young, but I enjoyed it afterwards.”


A EWE belonging to Mrs Cosby, the Lodge Farm, has given birth to three fine lambs ; and Mr W Harker, Bilton Grange Farm, has a ewe which has followed suit.

DURING the last few weeks collections of eggs for the use of hospitals and the wounded soldiers have been made by the scholars. The boys collected no fewer than 335, and the girls and infants about 100—a splendid result, of which Dunchurch Schools may be proud.

THE COMMITTEE OF THE NURSING ASSOCIATION are very glad to state that Nurse Ridout having completed her training and successfully passed her examination in London, has returned to take up her duties as district nurse. She is most highly recommended by the matron under whom she has trained.


SERIOUS DAMAGE BY A BOY.—At the Daventry Divisional Children’s Court on Tuesday, Walter Ernest West, aged 15, of Watford, was charged with maliciously maiming a bullock, the property of Wm Cullen, of Ashby St Ledgers. He inflicted such injuries with a stick that the bowels of the bullock were perforated, and it had to be slaughtered.—The father was ordered to whip the boy in the presence of the police, and also to pay a fine of £5 inflicted on the boy.


MR & MRS THOMAS BONEHAM, of Bretford, have been notified that their son, Francis Wm Boneham (Dorsets), has been wounded.

£45,000 AIMED AT—£85,000 RAISED.

As was anticipated, Rugby played up well towards the end of last week. The £45,000 aimed at was easily surpassed, and when the list was closed on Saturday evening the amount reached was £75,000. Two other sums of £5,000 each arrived on Monday, thus bringing the total up to £85,000, or nearly double the figure required for the purchase of a squadron of aeroplanes, which was the object in view.

Satisfactory as this result was, however, there is little doubt but that, had the committee had longer notice, a considerably higher figure could have been fixed up ; and, in view of Rugby’s past achievements, this would, doubtless, have been forthcoming.

The suits on the first three days were very meagre, but on Thursday things began to improve, and a total of £19,921 was realised on that day ; Friday’s total was £29,965, and Saturday’s £20,431. Of the £85,000 subscribed £73,800 was invested in War Bonds and £11,000 in War Savings Certificates.


SIR,—I am glad to see that attention has been drawn by a letter in your last issue to the growing nuisance in Rugby of scribbling with chalk upon wills and gates, and even on the doors of private houses. Quite apart from the more seriously objectionable nature of some of the writings and drawings, such disfigurement of our streets is a very great eyesore, and a source of annoyance to the more respectable inhabitants. Moreover, it is a step towards the hooliganism which is filling our principal streets any evening with yells and shrieks and forms of rowdiness on the part of youths and girls—suggesting pandemonium itself, and bringing discredit to our town in the eyes of visitors from elsewhere. Cannot the teachers in our elementary schools add their already valuable services by organising a crusade against this undesirable state of affairs, and so obviate the possible necessity of police action ?

I am, Sir, yours faithfully,


GIDDINGS.—In loving memory of Corpl. A. GIDDINGS, Hillmorton, who was killed in action on March 11, 1915.—Not forgotten by his loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

SKINNER.—In ever-loving memory of Pte. G. SKINNER, 19th Canadians, who was killed in Belgium on March 15, 1916.
“ I do not forget him, nor do I intend ;
I think of him daily and will till the end.
I miss him and mourn him in silence unseen,
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.”
—From his loving wife, Charlotte.

STEEL.—In loving memory of our dear son, EDWARD, who was killed in action “ somewhere in France ” on March 16, 1915.
“ It’s hard, dear son, to lose you,
Who have filled your place so well ;
May God above now repay you
For your acts which but Him can tell.”
—From his loving Father, Mother, Brothers & Sister.



Pridmore, Reginald George. Died 13th Mar 1918

Reginald George Pridmore was born on the 29th April 1886 in Edgbaston Birmingham, the eldest of three children to George William and Sarah Louisa nee Bailey. They were married on the 6th July 1885 in St Matthew’s church, Rugby. In the 1891 census he was living with his parents and two year old sister at 86 Railway Terrace, Rugby. By 1901 his parents were living in Watford with two daughters, Madge, 12 and Constance, 8. Reginald was a pupil at Bedford County School. He was then educated at Bedford Grammar, which later changed its name to Elstow school, where he was a very keen sportsman. he played Hockey for England, winning a gold medal at the 1908 Olympics, and in the final scored four goals which stood as a record for forty four years. He also played cricket for Warwickshire County Cricket club on fourteen occasions As a middle order batsman. In the 1911 census it states he was an Artistic Metal Worker; the business his father ran in Coventry.

(picture from Great War Forum)

From his officer records in Kew he applied for a commission in the Warwickshire Territorial Force Association on 14th September 1914, in the 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade. He was residing at 1 Lansdown Place in Coventry, and his occupation was given as stockbroker. On the form it states he had applied for a temporary commission in the regular army but had not been gazetted to date (this was dated 14th August 1914),and he had been for three years in Elstow School Bedford O.T.C.(officer training corps ). Also in the papers it states that Elstow school was previously known as Bedford County School. The papers stated that he was attached to the 5th Rugby Battery off the 243 brigade which became D Howitzer Battery of 241 brigade on the 18th May 1916.

Reginald George Pridmore became Second Lieutenant on 17th September 1914 and from the records of the R.F.A. that he disembarked from England on the 30th March 1915.

He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry during operations as a Forward Observations officer having displayed great coolness under fire. On one occasion he and his lookout man were partly buried during heavy shelling but carried on sending reports. This is believed to be on the 20th October 1916.

Whilst in France, orders were given and the brigade moved to Italy to carry on fitting there. In the supplements to the London Gazette from the 19th March we learn that on 20th Jan 1917, 2nd Lt (Temp Lt) R.G.Pridmore M.C. be acting Capt. From the same publication dated 29th June 1917, 2nd Lt (actg. Capt.) R.G. Pridmore M.C. was to retain the acting rank of Capt. On the 23rd April 1918 Lt. (actg. Capt) R.G.Pridmore M.C. (since killed in action) wa to be acting Major whilst commanding Batts  (5th March 1918.)

From the war diaries, we learn that the brigade were at Arcade and on the 5th March Major R.G.Pridmore took command of C battery 240. Nothing else was reported until the 10th when half yearly recommendations for the King Birthday Honours were submitted. Then on the 13th, batteries did a little firing in the morning. C battery was heavily shelled in the afternoon with 5 or 4 2s and an occasional 11 inch.

His late Battery Commander writes (in the Rugby Advertiser 30th Mar 1918):

He was killed by a direct hit on his position, where he had remained to telephone after sending all his men into safety. As his Commanding Officer for 3 1/2 years, I have never met a more gallant officer or a more cheery companion. In times of stress his unfailing good spirits and total disregard of danger inspired me to carry on and set us all a grand example. He was buried 10 miles from here with full military honours, and there were present the general of the Division, the C.R.A. and every senior officer in the Division who could possibly attend; also 100 N.C.O’s and men of the Rugby Howitzer Battery.

Major R.G.Pridmore was killed & 1 or S Chapman was badly wounded, all batteries of 240 withdrawn from action and went to 5 D.A.W.

In the National Probate Calendar for 1918 reads Pridmore Reginald George of 18 Regent Street Coventry died 13th March 1918 in Italy. Probate London 15th August to George William Art Metal Manufacturer Effects £156 10s 4d,

When he died his comrades added an inscription on the wooden cross which read

“A Most Gallant Sportsman and Comrade“. His name also appears on the Elstow Bedford County School Memorial, and City of Coventry Roll of the fallen. From the Commonwealth War Graves Register I have copied the following

He was buried at Giavera Cemetery Italy Plot 1, Row D, Grave 5

Information from two books by Nigel Mc Creay, The Extinguished Flame, and Final Wicket, and from the National Archives.