Boyce, Arthur Cecil. Died 10th Aug 1917

Arthur Cecil Boyce was not a Rugby lad, although he appears on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

He was born June 1889 in London (Wandsworth), to Arthur and Isabel Boyce. He appears on the census for 1891 and 1901 living with his parents Arthur and Isabel Boyce. On the 1891 Census the family is living in 70 Bellevue Battersea London and in 1901 at 2 Henderson Road Wandsworth London. Arthur’s father was working for the Railways in 1891 as a clerk, in 1901 as an Assistant Railway Superintendent and in 1911 he is a Railway Manager, living at 2 Fitzroy Gardens, Rugby.

Arthur Cecil is not with his parents on the 1911 Census but in at Birkenhead, Cheshire as an Engineering Student at University where he took a first class B.Eng. in 1912 and in the same year was awarded the Burroughs prize for drawing and design.

He went out to Canada as a civil engineer and returned at the outbreak of war as a sapper with the Canadian contingent. He served from February to September 1915 in France and Belgium – in April he was slightly gassed at Ypres, the first time gas was used by the Germans. He came home and was posted with the Royal Engineers at Netley

It was during this time, on 4th January 1916, that he married Kathleen Eve Limrick at St Margaret’s Church, Toxteth Park, in Liverpool. He gave his address as 283 Clifton Road, Rugby, his parents home.

2nd Lieutenant Boyce returned to France with the Royal Engineers and to the Front in July 1916.

He was invalided home from France suffering from an affliction of the throat, nose and teeth. He was on the hospital ship Gloucester Castle which was torpedoed on 31st March 1917 and spent three hours in an open boat.

He returned to Liverpool where he received treatment for his teeth and travelled to Maidenhead for the removal of two troublesome roots. The operation was successful but Arthur collapsed and the attending doctor could not revive him. A later post-mortem discovered his heart had been weakened by the gas and exposure on the open sea

Arthur Cecil Boyce, Lieutenant R.E. 397th Field Coy, died on August 10th 1917. His body was placed on a gun carriage and returned to his home.

The funeral, with full military honours took place at West Norwood Cemetery.

His parents Arthur and Isabel later lived at Malvern, and his wife in Camberwell London.

He left a will and probate was granted to Arthur Boyce, railway district manager at Oxford 29″` September 1917 leaving £47.

A daughter, Joan I K Boyce was born in Liverpool in the second quarter of 1917, She died in Croydon in 1924 at the age of seven. It is not known what happened to his wife.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

4th Aug 1917. A Trade Union Protest

THE TRIBUNALS AT WORK.
RUGBY URBAN TRIBUNAL.

Of the nineteen cases for decision on Thursday evening in last week fourteen concerned local butchers. Mr J J McKinnell presided, and there were also present Messrs W Flint, T A Wise, L Loverock, W H Linnell, and H Yates. Mr H P Highton was the Military representative.

A TRADE UNION PROTEST.

A letter was read from the Rugby Branch of the National Union of Clerks drawing attention to the fact that during the last few months several military units who had been given exemption to find work of national importance had been sent by the officials of the Labour Exchange to fill clerical positions at a local factory, and several were so employed at present. The Union considered this practice reprehensible, unfair, and against the national interest. The case cited a coachbuilder who had been sent by the Labour Exchange to fill a position as material list clerk in the main drawing office of a local factory. This man was of military age, and was thought to a B1 man. This being so, the Union considered it unfair to the other clerks employed in the office that, whereas fully trained clerks in the lowest all medical categories were called to the Colours, they should be asked to train a man from an outside trade as a technical clerk on material list work. The N.U.C failed understand how a coach-builder could become sufficiently proficient under at least twelve months’ training to be of national importance as a clerk, while men of far greater clerical experience were declared to be non-essential. Then, too, if a B1 man (with no experience) was national importance as a clerk, why were trained clerks of all categories being called the Colours ? The clerks doing this particular class of work claimed to be specially trained as the result of experience and hard work, and if they were to train unskilled men sent to them they asked that these men should be ineligible for the Army. In conclusion, the writer said, in justice to themselves and those dependent upon them it was necessary to safeguard the conditions under which and by which they earned their living.—Mr Highton said in the case in question the man was sent to the works as a labourer, but was subsequently transferred to the offices because the other workmen made it “ too hot ” for him.—Mr Wise expressed the opinion that there was a great deal of justice in the complaint, and the Chairman concurred ; but it was pointed out that this matter was not within the purview of the Tribunal, and the Clerk was instructed to reply accordingly.

The case of the Secretary to the Rugby Trades and labour Council was again up for decision.-It was stated that this man had received exemption for a month to enable him to obtain work of national importance, and the Superintendent of the Labour Exchange had suggested that he should undertake the supervision of the structural alterations at the Trades Hall. The Tribunal had Agreed to this ; but the Advisory Committee were of opinion that the work was not of sufficient importance to justify exemption.—Temporary exemption till September was given for work of national importance to obtained.

MUNITIONS TRIBUNAL AT RUGBY.

The first sitting of the Coventry Munitions Tribunal at Rugby was held at the Court House on Friday in last week. Mr E G M Carmichael presided, and the assessors present were : Mr T W Smith (employers), Mrs Griffiths (women), and Mr W H Dexter (men).

Ernest Albert Eyres Riley, Newbold Road, Rugby, applied for a leaving certificate. He stated that he was a night driver on the power and lighting plant. On one occasion he pointed out to a day charge-hand a fault on the engine, and this man accused him of neglecting his work. This was the only time that the charge-hand had complained to him, and he contended that he was not to blame, rather that the fault lay with the chargehand. Applicant had since left the firm, but they had refused to give him a leaving certificate.—The representative of the firm pointed out that the man worked nearly six weeks after the incident referred to ; but in reply to Mr Morris (General Workers’ Union), applicant stated that he only allowed one week to elapse before giving notice.—Refused.

Walter John Farn, borer, 19 Sun Street, also asked for a leaving certificate. He stated that was wounded at Mons, and had since been discharged from the Army as medically unfit. He had been taken from the machine he was accustomed to work and put on another one, which was obsolete and too hard for him.—The representative of the firm stated that the man’s average weekly earnings were £3 7a.-Farn asked that the machine should inspected by a member of the Tribunal.—Mr Carmichael said thought this was a case in which every consideration should be shown to the man.—The firm’s representative pointed out that the difficulty was that Farn refused to give the machine a trial. It was no harder to work than his present machine.—Sent to medical referee, and ordered to give the machine trial.

For failing to work on several dates, W J Price, 9 Holbrook Avenue, was fined £2.—It was slated that this was a case persistent bad time-keeping, but the respondent contended that on a number of occasions there was no work to in the shop.—Mr Carmichael pointed out that had he had no right to leave work without permission.—The representative of the firm stated that there was no shortage in the department where respondent was employed. If the men were temporarily out of a job they were paid day work rates.

H W Jarvis, 60 Victoria Street, who had been fined on three previous occasions for losing time, was fined for a similar offence.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

News has come to hand that Major Cecil Nickalls, Hillmorton, has been wounded in the face and arm. The injuries are, fortunately, not very serious.

Sergt E H Rixom, Suffolk Yeomanry, eldest son of Mrs Rixom, Claremont Road, Rugby, has been gazetted second-lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Bombardier C W Packwood. Rugby Howitzer Battery, son of Mr C J Packwood. of 10 St Matthew’s Street, has been wounded in the chest in two places during the recent fighting.

Second-Lieut R L Cowley, Northants Regiment, son of Mr John Cowley, of Brackley, and formerly of Kilsby, has been missing since the historic Battle of the Dunes, and great anxiety is felt his parents, who will be glad of any news respecting him.

Bombardier Albert Goode, Rugby Howitzer Battery, son of Mr A Goode, 78 Avenue Road, New Bilton, has been severely wounded, and is now in a base hospital in France. Bombardier Goods is an old St Matthew’s boy, and was a member of the Football XV, which first won the Schools Union Football Shield in 1905. He was employed as an engineer at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s.

The Rev R W Dugdale (curate-in-charge of Holy Trinity Church) has been appointed chaplain of the Royal Flying Corps in France, and he is at present the only R.F.C chaplain in the Army.

Mr & Mrs Meadows, Inwood Cottage, near Rugby, have received information that their son, Gunner C H Meadows, was seriously wounded with gun-shot in the back on July 20th, and is lying at a casualty clearing station in France. Before joined up on November 1st, 1915, he was employed in the Telegraph Department at Rugby Station (L & N-W).

CORPL J C CHIRGWIN KILLED.

Unofficial news has been received of the death in France of Corpl J C Chirgwin, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, an assistant master at St Matthew’s School. Corpl Chirgwin was 29 years of age and a native of Cornwall. He came to St.Matthew’s School about seven years ago, soon after leaving college. He attested in the early days of the Derby scheme, and was called up eighteen months ago, and proceeded to the front last Christmas. He had two hairbreadth escapes in the recent fighting, and was killed by a stray shell last week. Corpl Chirgwin, who was shortly taking up a commission, was very popular with the pupils and staff of the school, and the news of his death was received with deep regret.

BOURTON-ON-DUNSMORE.

On Sunday last a memorial service was held at St Peter’s Church, Bourton, for the late Gunner Thomas Wilson, third son of Mr. & Mrs. T. Wilson, Gate Farm, Bourton, and who was killed in action in France on July 10th. He was a splendid specimen of manhood, and was a general favourite amongst the young people in the neighbourhood. Letters of sympathy have been received by his parents from the officers of the regiment, in which he is highly spoken of as being always cheerful, strong, and ever ready to do his duty, and his death will be a great loss to his regiment. Deep sympathy is felt throughout the village for Mr. & Mrs. Wilson and family.

MARRIAGE OF SECOND-LIEUT. L. J. HUNTER.

The marriage of Second-Lieut L J Hunter, Yeomanry, fourth son of Mr & Mrs T Hunter, Elmhurst, Rugby, to Gwenn, only daughter of Mr & Mrs S H Fraser, Kensington at St Andrew’s, Well Street, London, W, on Tuesday, July 31st. The ceremony was performed by the Rev H H Kemble, the uncle of the bride, assisted by the Rev S K Knight, Vicar of St Andrew’s. The service was fully choral, and the hymns, “ O Father all creating ” and “ O Perfect Love,” were sung. The Rev H H Kemble gave a short address. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of white charmeuse and Georgette, with a ninon train embroidered in silver, and carried a sheaf of lilies. Lieut. J. Mitchell, R.F.C., acted as best man. As the bride and bridegroom left the church Mendelsohn’s “ Wedding March ” was played. few relations and friends returned afterwards to the Langham Hotel.

THE FOOD ECONOMY CAMPAIGN.

A communication has been received from Headquarters advising the local Food Economy Campaign Committee to suspend its active stimulation of propaganda for a period ; but in order to avoid misapprehension the urgent necessity which still exists for the strictest economy in food consumption is urgently emphasised. The situation in regard to food supplies is still extremely grave. Meanwhile local committees may vigorously address themselves to their normal function of war savings.

DEATHS.

CRAWFORD.-In loving memory of Pte ERIC CLEMENT CRAWFORD, 18th Canadians, who died of wounds in University College Hospital, London, on July 23rd.-“ Greater love hath no man than that he gave his life for his friends.”-From his loving Mother and Dad, Sisters and Brother.

HART-DAVIES.-On July 27, 1917 (aeroplane accident) at Northolt, Middlesex), Lieut IVAN BEAUCLERK DAVIES, R.F.C., Rugby ; son of the late Rev John Hart-Davies and Mrs. Hart-Davies, of Southam Rectory, Warwickshire ; aged 39 years.

SPENCER.-Killed in action in France on July 22nd, Pte JAMES BARTLETT SPENCER, 11th R.W.R., son of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer, 94 Wood Street, Rugby.
“ Somewhere in France there is a nameless grave,
Where sleeps our loved one among the brave.
One of the rank and file, he heard the call,
And for his country gave his all.”

IN MEMORIAM.

DUNCUFF.-In ever-loving memory of ARTHUR FRANCES DUNCUFF, dearly beloved husband of Mildred Grace Duncuff, who died of wounds on Aug. 8, 1916.

DUNCUFF.-In ever-loving memory of our son and brother, who died from wounds received in action in France on August 3, 1916 ; aged 22 years 11 months.
“ Death hides, but it cannot divide ;
Thou are but on Christs’s other side.
Thou with Christ and Christ with me,
And so together still are we.”

GOODMAN.-In loving memory of GUNNER FRED GOODMAN, R.F.A., who died from wounds received in action on August 3, 1916 ; aged 20 years. Also Pte W. G. GOODMAN, brother of the above, of the 1st Royal Warwicks, who was killed in action on August 27, 1914 ; aged 29 years.
“ Farewell, dear sons, in a soldiers grave ;
A grave we may never see ;
But as long as life and memory lasts
We will remember thee.”
-From his loving Mother and Father.

GURNEY.-In ever-loving memory of our dear son, Pte HARRY GURNEY, of Church Lawford, who was killed in action on July 30, 1916 ; aged 21 years.
“ Could I have raised his dying head,
Or heard his last farewell.
The grief would not have been so hard
For those who loved him well.
We often sit and think of him,
And think of how he died ;
To think we could not say ‘ Good-bye ‘
Before he closed his eyes.”
-From Mother and Father, Brothers and Sister.

HOWKINS.-In proud and loving memory of Lieut. MAURICE HOWKINS, W.R., R.H.A., elder son of William Howkins, Hillmorton Grounds, Rugby, who gave his life for his country at the Battle of Romani, Egypt, August 4, 1916 ; aged 22 years. Mentioned in despatches for valuable services in the field, F.C.C. “ A fine soldier. I never wish to see a better officer ” (his C.O.).-“ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life.”

NEAL.-In loving memory of our dear son and brother, WILLIAM NEAL, of the Berkshire Regt., who was killed in action on his 19th birthday, July 30, 1916.
“ One year has passed away
Since our great sorrow fell ;
Still in our hearts we mourn the loss
Of him we loved so well.”
-From Father and Mother, Sisters and Brother.

PURTON.-In loving memory of HARRY PURTON, be beloved husband of Sarah Purton, who fell asleep on December 3, 1912. Also Lance-Corpl G. H. PURTON, son of the above, who died of wounds in France on August 6, 1916 ; aged 24 years.
“ His country called, he answered with his life ;
Not gone from memory, not gone from love,
But gone to dwell with his dear father
In God’s bright home above.”
-From his loving Mother, Brother and Sisters.

 

Daniels, Leonard Gordon. Died 4th Aug 1917

Leonard Gordon Daniels was born in Rugby and baptised on 14th January 1898, together with his twin Joseph Henry. Their parents were Leonard Daniels and Annie Amelia (nee Bench) who had married on 28 March 1897 at St Marks Church, Coventry, although both came from Rugby. Annie gave her age as eighteen, but she had probably just turned sixteen. At the time of the twins’ baptism, their parents were living in Earl St, Rugby and Leonard was a bricklayer.

By 1901 they had moved to 57 Oxford Street and a third child, Robert Cecil, the survivor of another pair of twins born in mid 1900 in Birmingham. the other twin William Sidney died soon after birth. In 1911, when Leonard Gordon was 13, they lived at 9 New Street and his father was still working as a bricklayer.

After leaving Murray School, Leonard became a printing apprentice with Mr G E Over.

When the war started, Leonard Gordon Daniels enlisted immediately, on 19th August 1914. He was only 16, but gave his age as 21yr 1mth. He joined the Army Service Corps (driver T/2/14707). On 12 January 1915 he was discharged as unfit for further service; not because of his age, but on medical grounds – a hernia. His description on discharge was sallow complexion, grey eyes, brown hair. He was 5ft 11in tall.

After an operation he signed up again, this time with the 4th Bn, Grenadier Guards (no.23313) on 11th March 1915. This time he gave his age as 20 yr 1mth (he was actually 17)

For some reason (problems with his age?) the army was unable to find the documentation of his service with the A.S.C. His record contains a large collection of correspondence between different departments on the subject until, in January 1916, the Rugby recruiting office explained that “owing to the rush of recruits on outbreak of war, unable to state how documents were disposed of on enlistment”

It is not known if this delayed his deployment, but he arrived in France in February 1917. The Grenadier Guards had joined the 4th Guards Brigade of the 31st Division and at some point Leonard was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Leonard Gordon Daniels  was wounded on 31st July 1917, the first day of the Battle of Pilckem.

He died on the 4th August 1917 and was buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

Westvleteren was outside the front held by Commonwealth forces in Belgium during the First World War, but in July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions called by the troops Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem.

The 4th, 47th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Dozinghem and the military cemetery was used by them until early in 1918.

There are 3,174 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and 65 German war graves from this period.

In a letter to his parents, reported in The Rugby Advertiser of 11th August, an officer of the Battalion wrote that

“Corpl Daniels was gallantly leading his Lewis Gun Section into action… I was by his side when he was hit, and I can assure you that everything possible was immediately done for him. I do not think he suffered any pain. I have been his platoon commander ever since he came to France. It was chiefly by my recommendation that he won his stripes, and he has always done his work to my entire satisfaction. He was a great favourite with all the platoon, and he leaves a gap which will, indeed, be hard to fill.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Wingell, Archibald John. Died 31st Jul 1917

Archibald John WINGELL was born in about early 1879 in Leicester. He was the only son of Arthur Wingell, a book-keeper [born c.1855, in Guilsborough, Nothamptonshire], and his wife, Lucy Ann [Fanny], née Ireland, [b.c.1851, who was from Leicester]. Their marriage was registered in Leicester in Q2 1877.

In 1881, when Archibald was two, the family was living at 34 Chestnut Street, Leicester. By 1891 they had moved to Rugby and were living at 34 Bath Street.   Archibald was now 12 and he had a sister, Edith Minnie, who was eight and had been born in Aylestone, Leicestershire. Their father was now a Grocer.   On census night Archibald’s mother’s sister, Martha, a schoolmistress, and his grandmother, Hannah Ireland, were staying with them.

In 1901, the family were still in Rugby, but had moved to 11 Arnold Street. Archibald’s father, Arthur, was a ‘grocer’s clerk’ and Archibald was a ‘tailor’s cutter’.   His sister, Edith Minnie was working at home as a ‘milliner’.

It seems from papers in his effects, that Archibald had become – or perhaps was studying to become – a Mason, although nothing further is known.

It seems that Archibald moved to London and on 2 April 1911 the census noted that he was aged 30 and boarding at 37 Angles Road, Streatham, and still working as a ‘tailor’s cutter’.

Soon afterwards he married Agnes Anne Howse, then a ‘showroom assistant’ on 15 August 1911 at St James’ church, Ramsden, Oxfordshire. She was born in Ramsden in 1885 and her father was a blacksmith. In April 1911 she had been an assistant draper in the High Street, Banbury.

The Electoral Registers for 1914 and 1915 listed him in a ‘dwelling house’ at 78 Harborough Road, Streatham.

Archibald enlisted, aged 36 years and 11 months, on 9 December 1915. He was living at 78 ‘Harbour’ [Harborough] Road, Streatham, Surrey. He was 5ft 8inches tall and had a birth mark on the outside of his right thigh. He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner, No.101045. His Service Record survives, probably because his widow later received a pension and the Pension Records were not affected by the WWII fire.

He was on ‘Home Service’ from 21 June 1916 to 9 July 1917. He was promoted to ‘Lance Rank’ on 19 August 1916 and then to Acting Bombardier on 22 January 1917. He then went to join the British Expeditionary Force in France on 10 July, and on 17 July was posted from ‘base’ to the 23rd Heavy Battery, which had arrived in France, some two years earlier, on 15 September 1915.

Less than three weeks after going to France, he received gunshot wounds to his groin and back whilst he was ‘in action’ and was transferred to the 140th Field Ambulance, which was attached to the 41st Division in France where he died of his wounds on 31 July.

The 41st Division had been involved in the Battle of Messines in June 1917, before Archibald arrived in France. The Division was then involved in the initial action of the Battle of 3rd Ypres – the Battle of Pilckem Ridge which started on 31 July 1917, the day he died.

He was buried near the ‘Great Cross’ in Plot II. A. 3., in the La Clytte Military Cemetery. His gravestone includes the following words from his widow: ‘Adieu until we meet above’.

La Clytte Military Cemetery is located 8 kms west of Ieper [Ypres]. The hamlet of La Clytte was used as Brigade Headquarters, and burials were carried out by Infantry, Artillery and Engineer units (out of 600, 250 are those of Artillery personnel and 66 are those of Engineers).

After the war, his next of kin, his widow, Agnes Anne Wingell, was still living at their home, 78 Harborough Road, Streatham, S.W. 16. On 29 January 1918 she received Archibald’s effects, and it seems that there were a considerable number, probably reflecting that he was behind the lines with the artillery, where his effects could be recovered, rather than in the front line. His effects included:

‘Disc, Letters, (1 Registered open), Photos, small photo-case, Pocket book, Religious Book, 9ct Gold Ring, silver cigarette case, fountain pen & filler, Lodge rules, letter wallet, training card, Ribbon brooch, Cigarette holder, medal ribbons (3 pieces), sundry papers & cards, sundry Masonic papers, eyeglass, key, watch (broken), mirror, tobacco pouch, metal comb, penny stamp’.

The Register of Effects[1] confirms his rank, number and place and date of death. His back pay of £4-15-2d was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Agnes, on 12 January 1918, and his War Gratuity of £4-0-0d was paid to her on 3 December 1919.   Agnes was awarded a pension of 13/9d per week with effect from 18 February 1918.

Archibald John Wingell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals which were received by his widow on 6 October 1921. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

At the time of Archibald’s marriage in 1911, his father was a ‘Broker’s agent’, but he died in Rugby in 1913, aged 58. After the war, in 1919, his widowed mother, Lucy, was still living in Rugby, at 69 Manor Road. His sister had married in mid-1907 with Augustus Frank Lane, and was now Mrs Edith Lane and they were living at 6 Holbrook Avenue, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Archibald John WINGELLwas researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929.

Reynolds, George Ellis. Died 31st Jul 1917

George Ellis Reynolds –
By kind permission of Claire Heckley

George Ellis Reynolds was born in Pinders Lane, Rugby on 20 July 1894, and baptised at St Andrews Church on 22 September. In 1901 he was the youngest child aged seven living at 61 James Street, Rugby with his parents Thomas and Mary Ann Reynolds (nee Wells) and siblings Thomas (22), Alice (17), Kate (16), Rose (14), Georgina (13), Louisa (9) and Annie (10). His father Thomas was an engine driver (stationery).

In 1911 George was 17, an upholsterer, living at 100 Oxford Street with his parents and sisters Kate, Annie and Louisa.

The Rugby Advertiser of 18 August 1917 notes that he enlisted in September 1914 and that previously he worked as an upholsterer for Sam Robbins Ltd. He was an Old Murrayan and a keen footballer, playing for both Rugby and Northampton.

George joined the 2nd Rifle Brigade as no Z/2327, and had risen to the rank of Sergeant by the time of his death on 31 July 1917 during the third battle of Ypres. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres and recorded by the Army and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission simply as George.

He is mentioned on his parent’s grave in Clifton Road Cemetery as well as on the Rugby Memorial Gates. He was killed twelve days before his elder brother Thomas Henry Reynolds (qv).

He was awarded the British Empire and Victory medals and the 1915 Star – he had been posted to France on 16 March 1915 where his Battalion was heavily involved in the attack on Fromelles in May during the Battle of Aubers Ridge.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Rugby Men in the Third Battle of Ypres

The Ypres Salient – a bulge in the front line, in front of and to the east of the Belgian town of Ypres, was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge.

The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

There was then little significant activity on this front until 1917, when an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. This became known as the Third Battle of Ypres.

An initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge, on the right flank of the British forces, was a complete success. [The Battle of Messines, 7-14 June 1917]   The offensive at Messines forced the Germans to move reserves to Flanders from the Arras and Aisne fronts, which relieved pressure on the French, and deprived the German 4th Army of the high ground south of Ypres. This was a necessary precursor to a planned British advance to the Passchendaele Ridge which was intended to allow a ‘break-out’ and the capture the Belgian coast up to the Dutch frontier.

There was also a later successful French operation just north of Poelcapelle in the Houthulst Forest, on the left flank of the British forces.

The main assault north-eastward, the Third Battle of Ypres, was launched on 31 July 1917, and became a struggle against determined opposition, with progressively worsening weather.

The ground had been severely damaged by shelling and rapidly deteriorated in the rains, which began again on 3 October, turning some areas into a swamp. The campaign finally closed in November with the capture of Passchendaele on 6 November.[1]

Third Battle of Ypres was not a single action, but comprised 8 separate phases:

Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August 1917)

Battle of Langemarck, 1917 (16 – 18 August 1917)

Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20 – 25 September 1917)

Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September – 3 October 1917)

Battle of Broodseinde (4 October 1917)

Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917)

First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October 1917)

Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October – 10 November 1917)

The actions from September to the beginning of October were comparatively successful, but the later actions from Poelcapelle onwards were not. The final capture of Passchendaele, which was declared to have been the objective, provided a political justification to end this phase of the campaign.

In the period 30 July to 10 November 1917, some 22 Rugby infantrymen were killed in action; as well as a member of the infantry machine gun corps; six artillery men and two members of the Royal Engineers. A member of the Royal Flying Corps also lost his life on 12 October 1917. Elsewhere, Rugby lost three men killed in the Egypt/Palestine theatre.

J S Watts of the 10th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment was killed on 30 July just before the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August 1917), whilst Sergeant G E Reynolds of the 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade and Acting Bombardier A J Wingell of the 23rd Heavy Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, were killed on the opening day of that action.   Sergeant Reynolds’ brother was killed less than two weeks later.

Five men were killed in the run up to the next main action, which illustrates the fact that soldiers were being killed day by day, on patrols, and by ‘routine’ shelling of their positions and sniper fire, as well as in the major assaults of the named battles.   They were: Lance Corporal L G Daniels of the 4th Bn. Grenadier Guards on 4 August; and G Hanwell, 1st Bn. Worcestershires and T H Reynolds of the 15th Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 12 August. Reynold’s brother was killed just two weeks before. An Engineer Officer, Lieutenant A C Boyce of the 397th Field Company Royal Engineers was killed on 10 August and an artilleryman, Sergeant A Deakin, of the Royal Field Artillery, on 14 August.

Lance Corporal F E Boyes of the 6th Bn. Oxford and Bucks was killed on the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, (16 – 18 August 1917) and then a further four of Rugby’s men were killed in later August and early September: W E Summerfield of the 1st/6th Bn. Royal Warwicks on 20 August; Lance Corporal Warden F H B of ‘C’ Compay 1st/7th Bn. Royal Warwicks on 27 August; and G Ruddle of the 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwicks on 3 September.   These three were all serving in the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division. Gunner C H Meadows of ‘D’ Battery, Royal Field Artillery, was killed on 4 September.

Four men were killed during the period of the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20 – 25 September 1917): J C Smith of the 11th Bn. King’s Royal Rifle Corps, on the opening day; Lance Corporal A G Stay, of the 122nd Company Machine Gun Corps (infantry) on 21 September; a Sapper, G J Worster, of the 94th Field Company on 22 September; and E G Bradshaw of the 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwicks on 24 September.

The Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September – 3 October 1917) seems not to have claimed any of Rugby’s infantrymen, but two artillerymen, L S Lennon and W S Saville, who were both Gunners in the 2/A Battery of the Honourable Artillery Company were both killed on 29 September.

Then on 5 October, the day following the start of the action of the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October 1917), J Lindley of the 15th Bn. of the Royal Warwicks was killed.

The Battle of Poelcapelle on 9 October 1917, claimed three more Rugby men: I H Allen 16th Bn. Royal Warwicks; H T E Amos and C B Jones, both of the 1st/6th Bn. Gloucestershires. Company Sergeant Major G H Hayes of the 1st/7th Bn. Royal Warwicks was killed on the following day. These last three were all in the 144th Brigade of the 48th Division.

2nd Lieutenant K H Willard of the 45th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps was killed on the first day of The First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. There were no Rugby infantry losses on that first day, but four men were killed on the following days: a Sapper, A E S Meddows, of the 5th HQ Signal Company, attached to the 34th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, on 14 October, and infantrymen, H M Cowley, of the 10th Bn. Royal Warwickshires and Lance Corporal R W Dugdale of the 20th Bn. The Kings (Liverpool Regiment) on 19 October and Lieutenant S G Wolfe of the 18th Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers on 22 October.

The Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October – 10 November 1917) claimed two Rugby men on its opening day: A Collins of the 15th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment and H C Williams of the 1st Bn., Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).

B E[or C] Lane of the Rifle Brigade who had been wounded at the time of the Battle of Arras and discharged on 25 April, died in Rugby, just after this period on 9 November 1917.

Biographies of the soldiers listed above, giving fuller details of their families, and military service where known, will be published on this site on the centenaries of their deaths.

 

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This article on Rugby Men in the Third Battle of Ypres was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.

[1]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/85900/TYNE%20COT%20MEMORIAL

Watts, John Sidney George. Died 30th Jul 1917

John Sidney George WATTS was born in 1896 in Rugby and registered in the last quarter of that year as Sidney George Watts. He was the middle of the five sons of Albert Edward Watts and his wife Annie Elizabeth (née Bailey). His father, Albert, was born in Newbold and worked as a railway engine stoker on the L & N W railway.

In 1901, he was four years old and enumerated as John S G Watts. His family was living in Old Station Square, Rugby. By 1911 they had moved to 38 Dale Street, Rugby. He was now 14 and enumerated as ‘Sidney George Watts’ and was working as a grocer’s errand boy.

Henry’s Service Records do not survive so little is known of his Service Career. It is not known when he joined up, although he enlisted at Rugby,[1] probably later in 1915, as he did not receive the 1915 Star, and thus there was no embarkation date on his Medal Card. He would not have been 18 years old until just before 1915.

He joined up as a Private, No.28015 in the 10th (Service) Battalion (Bn.) of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWarR). 

The 10th (Service) Battalion was formed in Warwick in August 1914 as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Salisbury Plain and joined the 57th Brigade of the 19th Division. In March 1915 they moved to Tidworth.

On 17 July 1915 they mobilised for war and landed in France and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front. In 1915: the Action of Pietre; in 1916: the Battle of Albert; the attacks on High Wood; the Battle of Pozieres Ridge; the Battle of the Ancre Heights and the Battle of the Ancre. John would have joined with a draft of reinforcements and was possibly involved in some of these but more probably was in action in 1917 in the Battle of Messines. The Battalion would be later involved in the various actions of the Third Battle of Ypres which started on 31 July 1917.

John was probably wounded during the various aftermaths of the Battle of Messines (7-14 June 1917) and during the preparations for the Third Battle of Ypres, probably during the few days before that battle.

The reports in the 10th Battalion War Diary,[2] for the weeks before John’s death, provides the following summary of information:

On 10 July 1917 the Battalion which had been in reserve, was relieved and for a period in mid-July formed working parties until 17 July when further training started. On 19 July there was an inspection by the GOC of 57th Brigade. On 20 July one OR [Other Rank] was wounded during training. At night on 22 July, the Battalion relieved the 7th Bn., Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in the trenches at Roozebeek, Delbske Farm and Denys Wood. They remained in the trenches until relieved on 29 July 1917 when they returned to hutments at Butterfly Farm – the Butterfly was the symbol of the 57th Brigade. During this period of seven days in the trenches, the Battalion was subjected to intermittent shelling, a fairly ineffective gas attacks and particularly heavy shelling on 28 July. There were continuing casualties with ORs killed and/or wounded each day: 23 July – 4 wounded; 24 July – 2 killed, 3 wounded; 25 July – 3 killed, 4 wounded; 26 July – 1 killed, 10 wounded; 27 July – 1 killed, 6 wounded; 28 July – 1 killed, 4 wounded; 29 July – 3 wounded.

During that week of comparative ‘routine’ in the trenches, 34 men were wounded – one of these was probably John Watts – unless he had been wounded some time before, but in that case he would probably have already been evacuated to a hospital further west or even back to England.

He was probably evacuated to an aid post and then through the field ambulance system back to the Convent of St. Antoine in Locre, some 10kms west of the Oosttaverne area, where he had been in action, and some 10kms south-west of Ieper [Ypres]. He was probably at the Convent when he died of his wounds on 30 July 1917.

He was buried in Grave Ref: I. B. 9. in the adjacent Locre (now Loker) Hospice Cemetery. This was in Allied hands during the greater part of the war, and field ambulances were stationed in the Convent of St. Antoine. The Hospice Cemetery was begun in June 1917 by field ambulances and fighting units and was used until April 1918.

John Sidney Watts was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road.

Two payments were made to his mother, Annie Elizabeth, as sole legatee: £15-12-2d owing in back pay on 22 October 1917 and a War Gratuity of £14-0-0d on 4 November 1919.

John Sidney Watts’ brother, Albert Edward Joseph Watts (below left), was also killed in the War. His biography was published in Rugby Remembers on 26 August 1914.[3] He had joined up very early in the war and went to France on 22 August with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and was killed four days later on 26 August in the Battle of Le Cateau and buried in Fontaine-Au-Pire Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave No. 3.

There is a story in the family that Albert and John’s mother wore a Royal Warwickshire tie brooch for the rest of her life.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on John Sidney WATTS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson with additional material, particularly on his brother, Albert Watts, from Catherine Corley and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       As detailed in Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[2]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Piece 2085/3, 10 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, July 1915-March 1919.

[3]       https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/watts-albert-edward-joseph-died-26-aug-1914/