1st Jan 1916. Rugby’s Record in the Great War




Once more the New Year has been ushered with the accompaniment of a great and terrible war, and a brief review of the way in which Rugby has endeavoured to do its share in bringing the contest to a successful issue may not be out of place. As is already well known, in the early days of the war Rugby gained a fine reputation in the matter of recruiting, and up to the institution of the Group System, about 3,200 recruits passed through the Rugby Drill Hall to the various depots—an excellent record considering the embargo that was placed on the enlistment of railwayman and munition workers. As will be seen from the accompanying list, a considerable number of the gallant fellows who trooped into the Drill Hall so enthusiastically and light-heartedly in August and September, 1914, to obey the call to arms, have made the great sacrifice ; and, on the other hand, several have gained either decoration or honourable mention.

In addition to the number of recruits who have joined Lord Kitchener’s Army, the majority of the members of the two principal Rugby Territorial units, “ E ” Company, R.W.R., and the Howitzer Battery, volunteered for foreign service, and have been engaged on the Western front for nearly twelve months. The Warwickshire Yeomanry, which includes a troop of Rugbeians, has also been in action in the Dardanelles, and has covered itself with glory. Then, too, in the early months of 1915, at the request of the War Office, Mr J J McKinnell, who as chairman of the Urban District Council, in two unprecedented years, has rendered yeoman service to the town and nation, raised a local company of Fortress Engineers. Mr E W E Kempson was appointed to the command of the company, which was very quickly raised and equipped. The preliminary training was carried out at Rugby, with the Howitzer Battery Drill Hall as headquarters, and the company is now somewhere in England, expecting to be ordered abroad at any time.

The number of employees of the B.T.H Company who have enlisted with the colours is 1,126, and practically the whole of the men of military age at present in the works have attested under the Group System.

The employees from Messrs Willans and Robinson’s with the colours consist of 15 officers (including one staff-captain) and 233 men, 248 in all. Of these, two officers and ten men have already been killed, and one man, Bomb. Handyside, has been awarded the D.C.M. and Medaille Militaire. Nine hundred W. and R. employees have attested under Lord Derby’s Group System.

During the early months of 1915 the splendid 89th Brigade of the 29th Division, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Border Regiment, and the South Wales Borderers, were billeted in the town. During their brief stay the gallant fellows, by their courteous and gentlemanly bearing, made countless friends, and the glorious deeds they have since accomplished, which have thrilled the whole world, are naturally discussed with pride by Rugbeians, while their terrible losses, especially in the early days of the Gallipoli landing, cast quite a gloom over the town. Many of the brave fellows have gained coveted rewards, notably Captain Sullivan and Sergt James Somers, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who have been awarded the Victoria Cross, and the great reception which was accorded to Sergt Somers on his return to Rugby after receiving the decoration from the King will long remain a pleasant memory with Rugbeians.

The occasion of the soldiers’ departure from Rugby was marked by the most noteworthy local event in the war—the inspection of the Division by King George on the London Road between Dunchurch Station and Stretton-on-Dunsmore, witnessed by some thousands of Rugbeians.

As usual, the residents of the town and district have responded loyally to the many calls which have been made upon them, and the sum of £3,518 15s 11d was raised in the town for the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund. Large sums have also been provided for the relief of the Belgian Refugees, the British Red Cross Society, local V.A.D. Hospitals, French Flag Day, Lifeboat Institution, the Russian wounded, and the various comforts funds. There are now three V.A.D. Hospitals in the Rugby district : Te Hira, Rugby, Ashlawn, and Pailton House, and these are all supported by subscriptions obtained in the town and villages adjacent, and are run by voluntary workers.

In the early stages of the war Dr David kindly placed the School Sanatorium at the disposal of the authorities for use as a temporary Red Cross Hospital, but early in 1915 it was found necessary for the School to take over the building again.

Mr C E Blyth, of Cawston House, some 14 months ago placed a portion of his residence at the disposal of the authorities for a Red Cross Hospital, and the earliest patients were a number of Belgian soldiers who fought bravely in the attempt to keep the Huns from ravaging their native land.

At the outbreak of war a Patriotic Association, for the purpose of drilling men past the age for military service, was formed, but this, failing to find support from the War Office, was disbanded, and in December, 1914, the Rugby Volunteer Training Corps was founded. This body, which has the approval, more or less, of the Government, has been well taken up by the ineligible men and munition workers, and under the able command of Mr C H Fuller, the corps has made good progress.

A branch of the Women’s Volunteer Reserve has also been successfully started, and already these ladies have made themselves useful in several ways.

Various funds for helping the soldiers have been started locally, and of these two of the most successful and deserving are the Territorial Comforts Committee, of which Mr Adnitt, Regent Street, is the secretary, and the Prisoners of War Relief Committee, with Mr J R Barker secretary. The first-named has sent hundreds of parcels of comforts, etc, to the local Territorials, and the Prisoners of War Committee send parcels of comforts to each local prisoner of war, who is otherwise unprovided for, each week. Both funds have so far been well supported, but as the expense is continuous more funds are urgently required.

Another noteworthy effect of the war has been the influx of Belgian refugees, and a colony of considerable dimensions has been established in the town. The first contingent of Belgians to arrive were housed, at Te Hira for a time, and others have been provided for at No 17 Hillmorton Road, two houses in Albert Street, two at Bilton, and large residences at Newton and Clifton—the two latter places being under the charge of the Newton House Refugees’ Committee. In addition to these, a considerable number of Belgian workmen are employed in the Engineering Works in the town.


On several occasions Rugby and district men have figured in the lists of those awarded special honours, and Major J L Baird, the popular Member for the Division, who proceeded to the front in August, 1914, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Cross of the Order of Leopold. Viscount Feilding, of the Coldstream Guards, has also received the D.S.O. for great gallantry and distinguished service in the field. The gallant officers have also been mentioned in despatches. The Medaille Militaire, the French V.C. has been won by Lance-Corpl W Barnes, of Long Itchington, and the following local men have received the D.C.M. : Sergeant Loveridge, R.W.R. ; Corpl Keeley (B.T.H.) 4th K.R.R. ; Pte A Hotz (B.T.H.), 1st East Surrey Regiment ; Sergt Vernon S Robinson, 2nd Wiltshire Regiment ; and Bomb J R H Handyside, D Batt, 71st Brigade, R.F.A. Bomb Handyside has also been awarded the Medaille Militaire.

Capt J W Goddard, R.F.A., and Sergt-Major F A Nason, Army Veterinary Corps, two old St Matthew’s boys, have won the Military Cross and been mentioned in despatches. Lieut A J Harris, the late Lieut R A J Beech, Sec-Corpl E L Damant, Royal Naval Division, and Sergt-Major (now Sec-Lieut) Hart have also been mentioned in despatches ; and Corpl Stent, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was commended for great gallantry in the trenches. Sergt F Knight, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoons, of Long Lawford, has been awarded the (1st Class) Russian medal of St George.


Rugby and district has, in common with the whole country, suffered severely in the matter of casualties, and over 200 young fellows from the district have sacrificed their lives in the great cause, and many more have been wounded. Below we give what is, as far as possible, a complete list of those who have been killed, of who have been reported missing so long that there is, unfortunately, little doubt as to their fate :—

Wise, Engineer St S, son of Mr E T Wise, H.M.S. Cressy, Sept 22nd.
Goodman, Pte Walter George, R.W.R., 170 Oxford Street, August 26th.
Busson, Pte William, R.W.R., 30 Sun Street, August 26th.
Oldershaw, Pte H, 2nd Grenadier Guards, Bilton, September 20th.
Morris, Lieut A G A, Royal Lancashire Regt., son of Mr and Mrs F A Morris, Pailton House, October 13th.
Woods, Gunner William, R.F.A., late 35 Bath Street.
Hales, Pte Harry, R.W.R., Pinfold Street, New Bilton, October 13th.
Morgan, Pte S, Welsh Regiment, Crick.
Parker, Lance-Corpl E J, Coldstream Guards, 19 Corbett Street, died of wounds, Nov 3rd.
Thrasher, Gunner, 19th Battery R.F.A., 6 Charlotte Street.
Dale, Able Seaman H, H.M.S. Good Hope, 88 Abbey Street.
Ransome, Steward Walter, H.M.S. Good Hope, Rugby.
Thorneycroft, Pte G, 1st R.W.R., Hillmorton, October 23rd.
Richardson, Dr Martin, Medical Service Corps, late of Wolston.
Over, Pte Charles Herbert, 2nd R.W.R., Brinklow, Ypres, October 20th.
Pearce, Gunner W H, Dunchurch, H.M.S. Bulwark.
Edmans, Stoker F S, 82 Lawford Road, New Bilton, H.M.S. Bulwark.
Dagley, Pte Charles, 2nd Dragoon Guards, 11 Bridget Street, New Bilton.
Kind, Marine Walter John, late B.T.H., killed in Battle of Falkland Isles.
Bathe, Pte Wm John, 1st South Staffs, 93 Lawford Road, New Bilton, October 29th.
Lawlor, Midshipman Martin (died of fever).
Hutt, Pte W J, Northants Regiment, Clifton, November 5th.
White, Pte J E, Grenadier Guards, Dunchurch (died of wounds).
Goodwin, Pte —, R.W.R., son of P.S. Goodwin, King Edward Rd., missing (believed dead).
Reynolds, Pte A Bayliss, 2nd Leicesters, Gas Street, died from wounds December 10th.
Wells. Corpl Walter, 1st R.W.R, Marton, died from wounds.
Parker, Lieut, Westfield House, Rugby.
Shaw. Pte J P, 2nd Northants, Hillmorton, December, 1914.
Goodman, Sergt Henry, Coldstream Guards, Lutterworth, January 15th.
Milne, Bandsman, 2nd Scottish Rifles, died of wounds received while attending to a wounded comrade, February 2nd.
Justice, Pte Hy, Coldstream Guards, Napton, January 24th.
Norman, Pte R, Dunchurch.
Richardson, Pte John, Coldstream Guards, Dunchurch, February 11th.
Beech, Lieut R A J, Queen’s Lancers, Brandon, February 21st.
Dipper, Pte A, Coldstream Guards, Stretton-on-Dunsmore, March 5th.
Sheppard, Rfn Wm, 3rd K.R.R., Corbett Street, died from wounds February 28th.
Manton, Sapper E L, R.E., formerly B.T.H.
Judd, Rfn George, K.R.R., Winfield Street, Rugby, March 19th (first Kitchener recruit from Rugby to be killed).
Dale, Rfn F, Rifle Brigade, Easenhall, March 22nd.
Underwood. Pte I, R.W.R., Long Lawford.
Congreve, L-Corpl F, 2nd Leicesters, Churchover, Neuve Chappell, March 11th.
Adkins, Pte J, K.R.R., Stretton-on-Dunsmore, March 16th.
Douglas, Pte R L, Liverpool Scottish, B.T.H. Main Test. March 19th.
Dodson, Rfn W, 4th Rifle Brigade, Newbold, March 24th.
Rice. Pte George, Royal Welsh Fusiliers (Rugby Town A.F. Club).
Fox, Pte Norman, 1st R.W.R., Rugby, March 21st.
Howard, Pte F, Worcester Regiment, Rugby, April 10th.
Powell, Corpl E R T, Warwickshire Yeomanry, Swinford Rectory, drowned on Wayfarer.
Steel Rfn E, K.R.R.. Cosford, March 16th.
Prestidge. Rfn J, Rifle Brigade, Barby, April.
Brooke, Sub-Lieut Rupert, R N. Division, died of sunstroke at Lemnos on April 23rd.
Webb, Lance-Corpl G, 1st Leicester Regiment, Adam Street, New Bilton, April 28th.
Green, Pte J, Leicester Regiment, Catthorpe.
Stebbing, Pte Sydney Reginald, Motor Machine Gun Section, Craven Road, May 4th.
Hefford, Second Officer Percy, son of Mrs W F Wood, Market Place, drowned on Lusitania, May 5th.
Johnson, Corpl T F, E Company, R.W.R. (Maxim Gun Section), May 9th.
Gartenfeld, 1st Res R.W.R., Lagoe Place, April 25th.
Davis, Second Lieut Claud, R.G.A., Manor Road, Rugby, died of wounds.
Beard, Pte Cecil, 13th Battery Canadians, Murray Road, killed in May.
Jackson, Second Lieut E P, Pailton, 3rd R.W.R., att. 1st South Wales Borderers, May.
Hancocks, Sergt H H, K.R.R., Hillmorton Locks, April 25th.
Hancox, Pte Charles, 1st R.W.R., Kings Newnham, April 25th.
Keen, Rfn R B, Winfield Street (missing since May 9th).
Porter. Rfn J R, K R.R, Avenue Road, New Bilton, May 8th.
Griffiths, Rfn Herbert R B, Kilsby, April 27th.
Dawson, Corpl Tom, K.R.R., Braunston. May.
Pateman, Sergt W, 1st Coldstream Guards, Braunston, May.
Payne, Lce-Corpl H, 1st R.W.R., Long Lawford, April 25th.
Piper, Pte E A, Rugby (missing since April).
Nicholls, Pte —, Gloucester Regiment, police constable at Rugby, May 15th.
Hyde, Second Lieut, Rokeby Street, Rugby, Royal Sussex Regiment, att. 2nd Royal Iniskilling Fusliers, missing since May 17.
Mordaunt-Smith, Second Lieut Lionel St George, 2nd R.I.F., May 15th.
Upperton, Rfn Joseph, Oxford Street.*
Hardman, Rfn Walter, James Street.*
Humphreys, Rfn Fred, Lagoe Place.*
* Rifle Brigade, missing since May 9th.
Leake, Lieut, 9th R.W.R., Leamington Hastings, died of spotted fever, May 29th.
Dunbar, Gunner J L. Rugby Howitzer Battery, Bilton Grange, May 27th.
Altree, Rfn H, K.R.R., Rugby, May 9th.
Berridge. Rfn G, Rifle Brigade, Barby, May 13th.
Mason, Eng. Room Artificer, A. A., Rugby and Long Buckby, H.M.S. Goliath.
Hammond, Pte C D, Rugby, May.
Hill, Pte Lewis, E Company, 7th R.W.R., Newbold, May 29th.
Clifton, Pte Thomas, Worcester Regiment, Brinklow, May 9th.
Hence, Corpl Wm, 2nd Border Regiment, Newbold, May 16th.
Freeman, Gunner Harold, R.F.A., Bilton (died of pneumonia), June 7th.
Waterhouse, Capt Rennie, B.T.H., 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, Dardanelles, May 10th.
Brooke, Lieut Alfred, Bilton Road, 2nd Post Office Rifles, June 14th.
Reynolds, Pte Frank, 2nd Northants Regiment, Dunchurch Road (missing since May 7th).
Grant, Pte H, Newbold (missing since May 9th).
Hunt, Regt-Sergt-Major A J, R.H.A., Rugby, May 28th, Dardanelles.
Clowes, Lance-Corpl R, E Company, 7th R.W.R., Rugby, died of wounds.
Hughes, Lance-Corpl J, E Company, R.W.R., Rugby, June 18th.
Jones, Pte A, 6th Leicesters, New Bilton, died from appendicitis.
Newton, Rfn L J, 7th K.R.R., Rugby, June 17th.
Williams, Pte J, Newbold, Rifle Brigade (missing since May 10th).
Hands, Pte J, Scots Guards, Napton, shot by sniper.
Coleman, Pte G W, 5th Oxon and Bucks L.I., of New Bilton (missing).
Foster, Rfn Jesse, Barby.
Hancox, Pte Charles, Stretton, died of wounds.
Coombes, Pte Arthur, New Bilton, 1st R.W.R., died of wounds in July, buried at New Bilton.
Sutton, Drvr William, Rugby Howitzer Battery, Newton, accidentally shot at rest camp, July 4th.
Astill, Pte Herbert, 5th Oxon and Bucks L.I., Hillmorton, died of wounds received while bringing in wounded, June 29th.
Pegg, Pte Harold, Bedford Regiment, New Bilton, died from septic poisoning.
Benford, Rfn A T, K.R.R., Rugby, July 6th.
Underwood, Pte Cyrus, 1st R.W.R., Bilton, July 9th.
Rogers, Second Lieut H G, 9th Somerset L.I., Rugby, in July at Dardenelles.
Martin, Sergt, 7th K.R.R., Bilton, July 1st.
Docker, Pte Leonard, Coldstream Guards, Rugby, July 8th.
Davenport, Pte Hy Herbert Davenport, formerly of Churchover, June 22nd.
Smith, Pte Wm, Lutterworth (missing since June 6th).
Barnwell, Lance-Corpl George Thomas, 1/6th S. Staffs (T.F.), Rugby, died from wounds in July.
Fiddler, Rfn H, 7th K.R.R., Plowman Street, July 20th.
Redfearn, Rfn J, 7th K,R.R., Victoria Street, New Bilton, died from wounds July 23rd.
Roberts, Sergt C H, K.R.R., Rugby, July 30th.
Tomlinson, Rfn Wm, K.R.R., Rugby, July 30th.
Preston, Rfn John Henry, 7th K.R.R,, Rugby, July 30th.
Smith, Rfn Herbert, K.R.R., Rugby, July 30th.
Marriott, Sec-Lieut F E, Rifle Brigade, Cotesbach, July 30th.
Watts, Lance-Corpl A E. K.R.R., Rugby, August.
Coley, Rfn G, K.R.R., Rugby, July 31st.
Goadby, Rfn George, K.R.R., Bilton, August 7.
Wormleighton, Sapper F, Royal Engineers, Rugby, August 10th.
Rowbottom, Corpl S, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, August 12th.
Pepperday, Pte Leslie, H.A.C., Rugby, August 13th.
Walker, Pte J E, R.W.R., Brinklow, October 14th, 1914.
Aris, Lance-Corpl M, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, August 6th.
Sims, Rfn J H, 8th K.R.R., Rugby, July 30th.
Lee, Rfn F, Rifle Brigade, New Bilton, July 30th.
Wright, Lance-Corpl T, Monks Kirby
Norman, Pte Bert, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby August 25th.
Justice, Pte A, 5th Oxon and Bucks L.I., Newton.
Wadsworth, Rfn W, K.R.R., Hillmorton (missing since July 30th).
Hitchcock, Pte Clifford, 7th Batt, 2nd Canadian Contingent, Rugby, August 27th.
Cockerill, Pte T, K.O.Y.L.I., Hillmorton, August 25th.
Leach, Pte Percy John, 2nd Hants, Rugby (missing since August 7th, Dardanelles).
Evans, Rfn Harold, K.R R., Rugby, August 7th.
Ward, Pte T L Walter, 2nd Hants, New Bilton, missing since August 7th, Dardanelles).
Forehead, Lance-Corpl W T, 7th South Staffs, Rugby, died from wounds August 24th.
Jiggle, Pte Edgar, 9th R.W.R., Rugby (missing since August 10th.)
Ward, Lance-Corpl A Wood, 7th South Staffs, Rugby, August.
Joyce, Lance-Corpl P, 9th R.W.R., Rugby (missing since August 10th).
Chater, Pte W, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, died from wounds, September 15th.
Peel, Corpl R R, 66th Field Coy., R.E., Rugby, Sept. 1st, Dardanelles.
Osborne, Gunner Geo, 92nd Batt. R.F.A., died from dysentery at Dardanelles on August 21st.
Wilson, Lieut Hugh Stanley, 8th Worcesters, Rugby School, Sept. 15th.
Hopkins, Pte Frank, 6th Dorsets, Long Lawford, September.
Bluemel, L-Sergt N E, H.A.C., Rugby, died of wounds Sept. 23rd.
Hollis, Pte H T, 9th R.W.R., Frankton, August 10th.
Negus, Rfn E, 12th Rifle Brigade, Rugby, September 21st.
Shone, Pte Tom, Rugby, September 25th
Towers, Pte Martin Victor, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Harborough Fields Farm, Harborough Magna, September 26th.
Hinks, Pte John, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, September.
Barber, Corpl F, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, September 25th.
Bates, Pte A, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, September.
Snutch, Pte B, Rugby (missing since Battle of Loos).
Cashmore, Pte C, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Hillmorton (missing since Battle of Loos).
Stent, Corpl Percy, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, September 25th.
Glover, Sergt, Royal West Kents, Newton, September 14th.
Russell. Gunner P E, R.F.A, Rugby, October 3.
Sleath, Rfn F W, 12th R.B., Clifton, Sept. 25th.
Marriott, Sec-Lieut Digby, R.B., Cotesbach, October 9th.
Lintern, Bugler W, 12th R.B., Clifton, Sept. 25th.
Dunn. Sec-Lieut R I, Royal Engineers, Kings Newnham (missing since Sept. 25th).
Attenburgh, Pte W G, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby. Sept. 25th.
Freeman. Rfn George, 5th R.B., Kineton, October.
Busson, Pte, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, October 17th.
Kirby, Pte C, 2nd Worcesters, Hillmorton, September 26th.
Green, Pte Bert, 7th Northants, Kilsby, Sept.
Goffin, Pte Wm, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby (missing since Sept. 25th).
Chambers, Pte E, R.F.A., Wolston.
Reader, Pte, 9th R.W.R , Wolston.
Elliott, Pte F. R.W.R., Wolston.
Morris, Pte H W. Oxon and Bucks L.I., Wolston.
Page. Bugler Wilfred, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, Sept. 25th.
Izzard, Pte, Rugby.
Garratt, Pte Frank, 2nd Coldstream Guards, Braunston, October.
Munnings, Pte W, R.A.M.C., Rugby.
Robinson, Pte Kenneth, R.F.A., Rugby, Sept. 29th.
Stone, Pte S G, 2nd Worcesters, Rugby. Oct. 9th.
Langham, Pte W, Oxon and Bucks L.I., New Bilton, October.
Davis, Pte Walter, Oxon and Bucks L.I., New Bilton (reported missing in October).
Louch, Pte T, 3rd Coldstream Guards, Newbold-on-Avon, October 8th.
Summers, Pte Fred, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby (missing since Sept. 25th).
Harris, Pte W B, Bilton, Territorial Force.
Bacon, Sec-Lieut Dudley F C, 4th Durham L.I., att. 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, late of Wolston, died from wounds, November 1st.
Morton, Bomb T, R.G.A, Pailton, died of pneumonia.
Sheasby, Sapper Francis L, R.E., Napton, October 15th.
Dodd, Corpl E, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby, October 16th.
Woodhouse, Pte Percy, 2nd Oxon and Bucks L.I., Rugby (missing since Sept. 25th).
Bellingham, Gunner W, R.F.A., Rugby, died of wounds, October 27th.
Wise, Lance-Corpl. H,, 7th Staffs, Kilsby, Aug. 9th.
Attenborough, Pte W, Oxon and Bucks L.I., Wolston.
Dyer, Pte H, 10th R.W.R., Dunsmore, died from wounds, Sept. 18th.
Collins, Rfn John, K.R.R., Kineton, died from wounds, November 25th.
Goldfinch, Gunner A, R.F.A., Willoughby, died from enteric, October 19th.
House, Rfn John Alfred, K.R.R., Rugby, November 10th.
Dodd, Com-Sergt-Major A J,. 1st R.W.R., shot by mistake by sentry in France.
Dorman, Sergt J T, A.S.C., Rugby, died of appendicitis in France.
Lieut James Forbes, RE., Rugby, December.
Keane, Lieut F J P, Rugby, November 25th, near Baghdad.
Clarke, Pte W, 6th Dorsets, Rugby, Nov. 15th.
Abbott, Rfn Ernest, 12th R.B., Rugby, Dec. 10.
Poulton-Palmer, Lieut R. W. (O.R.), Royal Berks ; international Rugby football player.
Powell, Lieut. Kenneth (O.R.), famous lawn tennis player.
The following men are known to be prisoners :-
Phelps, Pte A, New Bilton, Rifle Brigade.
Hancox, Lance-Corpl, Rugby, R.W.R.
Hirons, Pte A, Coldstream Guards, Churchover.
Beard, Pte Sidney, Rugby, 2nd R.W.R.
Adams, Pte W, Dunchurch.
Collins, Corpl H, New Bilton, Coldstream Guards.
Wood, Rfn C, Rugby, Rifle Brigade.
Smith, Pte L, Rugby, K.R.R.
Mace, Pte J, Hillmorton, Oxon and Bucks L.I.


THE ISSUE OF ARMLETS was resumed at the Drill Hall on Tuesday afternoon.


Contrary to expectations in some quarters, there has been a lull in recruiting locally during the past week, and only a few men have enlisted ; but it is expected, now that compulsion appears to be a certainty, matters may look up somewhat.

A large supply of armlets has been received, and grouped men may obtain one by producing their white cards.

We are asked to point out that attested men who write to the recruiting authorities, and desire an answer, will save the officials a good deal of unnecessary work if they mention, when writing, their group number, and whether married or single.


The King has written to Lord Derby expressing the hope that every man who is entitled to wear the Armlet will do so, “ as a proof to his fellow-countrymen ” of his response to the King’s call for recruits.

Hunter, Wilfred Cleaver. Died 29th Dec 1915

Wilfred Cleaver Hunter was born in Rugby in 1891. He was the third son of Thomas Hunter and his wife Emily Cleaver, who married in 1886. At the time of his birth the family were living at 94 Railway Terrace, Rugby and his father is listed as a Railway Wagon Builder (employer). His grandfather had founded the Thomas Hunter Wagon Works in Mill Road twenty years earlier.

In the 1911 census the family was living at Elmhurst, in Hillmorton Road. Wilfred was aged 20 and described as a Filament Maker, Electric lamp maker.

Wilfred Cleaver Hunter

A report in the  Rugby Advertiser of 8th Jan 1916 gives an account of his life and death:

Second Lieut Wilfred Hunter was 25 years of age, and was the third son of Alderman Hunter. He and three of his brothers enlisted on the outbreak of war, and all four obtained commissions. He was a very bright and promising young man, and many outside the family circle will be grieved to know of his death.

Second Lieut. Wilfred Hunter was educated at Rugby School, and afterwards entered commercial life as secretary to the Rugby Lamp Company, Ltd.

He first enlisted as a gunner in the 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade, and after seven months’ service entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

On October 27th last year he was gazetted to the Royal Garrison Artillery, and left for France on December 10th, being killed in action 20 days later.

Lieut. Hunter spent some days at Havre before going to the front, so must have met with his death very soon after his arrival at the actual scene of the war.

Alderman and Mrs Hunter, of Elmhurst, Hillmorton Road, Rugby received the news of his death on New Year’s Day.

He was killed by a shell which burst in the courtyard of the farm where he was billeted. A fragment struck him in the throat and he died almost at once. He was buried at the Divisional Cemetery at West-Vlaanderen, near Ypres

He is also remembered at his parents grave in Clifton Road Cemetery:
Also of WILFRED the dearly loved son of THOMAS & EMILY HUNTER who was killed at Ypres Dec 29th 1915 aged 24 years.
“Come to me saith one and coming, be at rest.”



Rugby Advertiser
Lawrence Sheriff School and Two World Wars (Editor Davis Howe, published by Lawrence Sheriff School)


Abbott, Thomas Ernest. Died 11th Dec 1915

Thomas Ernest Abbott was born September Qtr 1889 in Rugby. The only surviving son of Elizabeth Ann Boor & Thomas Chapman Abbott. Married 9th June 1888 in St Matthews Church Rugby. Although originally from Woodford Northamptonshire.

In 1891 they were living at 86 Lawford Street, he was a Joiner Carpenter, Thomas Ernest was 1 year old. By 1901 they had moved to 37 Stephen Street, still a Joiner Carpenter, and Thomas Ernest was now 11 years old, and at school. 1911 shows them living at 43 Oliver Street, Thomas Ernest aged 21 years of age was working as Piuse Clerk in the engineering trade.

Thomas Ernest enlisted in the Army in Rugby on 3rd September 1914 age 25 years and 2 months, as a Rifleman in the 12th Bn Rifle Brigade. No S/1854. After training he was sent to France and sadly he died of his wounds, as stated on his service record by “61st Field Ambulance”, on 11th December 1915 aged 26 years and 5 months. He was most likely involved in The Battle of Loos which started on 25th September 1915 which is where the 61st Field Ambulance Corps were situated. His service life was short at just 1 year and 3 months.

Thomas was awarded 3 medals;- Victory Medal, British Medal and 15 Star. Qualifying date 21st July ’15. His medals have remained in the family after being handed to his father Thomas Chapman Abbot.

As reported on Ancestry on the name of Thomas Chapman Abbott;
His only son Thomas Ernest Abbott died 1915. His posthumous award from King George V was given to his only surviving brother, William C. Abbott, to pass on to his only son, Arthur Abbott as there were no other males left in the Abbott line. Arthur passed it on to his son Frederick C. Abbott who passed it on to his son Nicholas C. Abbott.

He is remembered with Honour on Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois Grenier, In the North of France also on the Rugby Memorial Gates.



Dorman, John Thomas. Died 2nd Dec 1915

John Thomas[1] DORMAN’s birth was registered in early 1885 and he was a native of North Kilworth, Rugby.

His father was William Thomas Dorman, possibly more commonly known as Thomas,[2] who was born in about 1857 in North Kilworth; his mother was Sarah Jane née Robinson, who was born in Newark in 1856.

In 1891, John Dorman was 6 and had two brothers: William Dorman, aged 3, who would become a farm boy in the village before 1901; and Joseph Henry Dorman, aged 1. Their father was an Agricultural Labourer and they lived at 6 Rugby Road, North Kilworth, just down the road from the ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ pub.

In 1901, John Dorman was 16 and a farm labourer, still living in Rugby Road, North Kilworth, with his parents and siblings: Joseph Dorman, now 11; Adlaide Dorman, 8; Mary Dorman, 5; and David Dorman, 1.

In 1911, now calling himself ‘Jack’ Dorman, he was 26, and living in one room at the ‘Stables, 107 Albert Street’, where he was working as a Groom, presumably for John Liddington, the baker and corn dealer at 109 Albert Street next door.

John’s marriage with Mary Violet Hinks was registered in Q3, 1912, in Rugby, and they later lived at 12, King Edward Road, Rugby. She had been born in Rugby, and her father was then a ‘paver’ and they lived in Pinder’s Lane. She was baptised on 19 August 1887 at St Andrew’s, Rugby.   Just over two weeks later, on 11 September, the poet, Rupert Brooke would be baptised there.

It seems that John and Mary had a son, also John Dorman, whose birth was registered in Rugby in Q3, 1913. It may have been John junior whose marriage to Iris S Brooks was registered in Rugby in mid-1939.

It is uncertain when John joined up but he became No.M2/099389, a ‘Driver, Mechanical Transport’ in the Army Service Corps, and he was attached to the 26th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

He went to France on 2 June 1915. The 26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance was attached to the 25th Brigade,[3] in the 8th Division. In 1915, the 8th Division had already been in action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and the Battle of Aubers.   John would have arrived in France well before the next major action at Bois Grenier (a diversionary attack on 25 September 1915 coinciding with the Battle of Loos – see Rugby Remembers for that date).   As a driver, John would probably have been transporting injured soldiers, typically back from the various Advanced Dressing Stations, to the General Hospitals further behind the lines.

The 8th Division did not seem to have been in any major actions in later 1915, indeed activity would have probably slowed for the winter. However, routine trench duties as well as hazardous resupply work and training behind the front lines would have carried on, and even during such ‘routine duties’ many soldiers were being killed and injured.

It may have been whilst collecting wounded, or on routine duties, that John was wounded and transported back to base hospital. However, there was also an outbreak of a ‘mysterious respiratory infection at Etaples during the winter of 1915-16’,[4] possibly a pre-curser of the later ‘Spanish Flu’, and he may have been a victim of such an outbreak.

Whatever the circumstances, an entry in the ‘Register of Effects’ shows that John died in Etaples in the ‘No. 7, Canadian General Hospital’[5] on 2 December 1915, aged 32. He was buried in Grave Reference: III. G. 20A., in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery, which served the many transit camps and hospitals in around Etaples. The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town, on the west side of the road to Boulogne. The cemetery contains 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, the earliest dating from May 1915.

Etaples is a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne. During the First World War, it became the principal depôt and transit camp for the British Expeditionary Force in France and also the point to which the wounded were transported.   The area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft, and accessible by railway from both the northern and the southern battlefields. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes. The hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick.

After John’s death, in March and April 1916, sums of £7-8-8d and £9-1-4d were paid to John’s widow and sole legatee, ‘Mary V’, and then in August 1919, a ‘War Gratuity’ of £3-0-0d.

John Dorman was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

It would appear that John’s widow, Mary, remarried with an Arthur Hinks in Lutterworth in mid-1920.   No other record of him has been found on-line and certificates would have to be purchased to advance any knowledge of him. It will be recalled that Hinks was also Mary’s maiden name, although they do not appear to be obviously related. They had three children, half-siblings for John junior, all registered in Rugby: Joyce D M Hinks in Q2 1923; Matthew A T in Q4, 1925; and Rosemary J in Q4, 1930.



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This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in November 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper.




[1]       T for Thomas, not V, as recorded on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

[2]       John’s father was recorded as Thomas rather than William by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

[3]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=61854

[4]       Connor, Steve, Flu epidemic traced to Great War transit camp, The Guardian, Saturday, 8 January 2000.

[5]       The handwritten entry is unclear and was transcribed as ‘No 1 Candie Genl Hospl’.   This was probably the No.1 Canadian General Hospital which is listed at Etaples, at http://www.anzacday.org.au/digging/hospitals.html; and which apparently later moved to Trouville.   See also: List of Canadian Hospitals Overseas – War of 1914-1918, in “Three Centuries of Canadian Nursing“, 1947, p.311.

Dodd, Arthur James. Died 1st Dec 1915

Arthur James DODD was born in about 1885 and was baptised at St. Andrew’s, Rugby, on 2 October 1885.

His father was William Dodd, born about 1851 in Rugby, who had married Selina Reeve, at St. Andrew’s, Rugby on 7 November 1881. She was born at Hinton, Gloucestershire in about 1863. In 1891 William was auctioneer’s assistant living at 19 Pinders Lane, Rugby.

In 1901, Arthur was the oldest child, aged 15, and working as ‘Lamp Lighter Gas’. His two younger sisters, [Alice] Elsie and Mabel, were then aged 6 and 4. William Dodd died in 1902, and in about 1905, Selina apparently ‘married’ a mechanic, George Bradley, who came from Leicestershire, although no record has been found,[1] and they lived then at 19 Alexandra Terrace, Pinders Lane, Rugby. By 1911, they had had two children: one, probably George whose birth and death were registered in Q4, 1905; and a daughter, Norah Georgina, born 1907, who was now 3 years old.

Well before the war, and apparently very soon after that 1901 census,[2] Arthur became a soldier and joined the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The two ‘peace-time’ Warwickshire Battalions would alternate between the UK and an overseas posting, and in 1911 Arthur was enumerated with the 1st Battalion in ‘Ceylon and India’. He was 26 and had been promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 1st Battalion sailed from India in December 1912, and arrived back to the UK in early January 1913. They were initially based at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, with 10th Brigade, 4th Division. On 8 August 1914, amid fears of a German invasion of the East coast, the 4th Division was held back from the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and sent by train to Yorkshire in a last minute decision to defend England against a possible German landing. Almost immediately this fear was seen to be unfounded: the fate of the BEF in France and the lack of any move by the enemy to cross the Channel, reversed this decision and they were sent back to join the other units of the 10th Brigade, 4th Division of the BEF at Southampton. There they boarded the SS Caledonian on 22 August 1914 and landed at Boulogne in France the following day, arriving in time to provide infantry reinforcements at the Battle of Le Cateau.[3]

They were subsequently in action at the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and at the Battle of Messines in 1914. In 1915 they fought in the Second Battle of Ypres and later in 1916 they would move south to the Somme.[4]

Arthur did not accompany the Battalion to France in 1914, possibly being held back, as an experienced NCO, to assist with the training of the large numbers of new recruits.   Certainly his Medal Card shows that before later 1915, he had been promoted: first to Sergeant and then to Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 2, No. 9393, in the 1st Battalion.

His Medal Card shows that he finally went to France on 2 May 1915. This would have been during the Second Battle of Ypres which was being fought from 22 April to 25 May 1915.

In August 1915, the 1st Warwicks were sent to the Redan Ridge/Mailly Maillet sector, where they took over the French trenches.[5]

On 1 December 1915, Arthur Dodd was shot by mistake by a sentry. The Rugby Advertiser reported:

‘Sergeant Major Dodd reported killed – Mistaken for a German Sniper.

News has just been received through a comrade, that Company Sergt-Major A J Dodd, of the 1st Royal Warwicks, whose home is at Rugby, has been killed at the front through a regrettable mistake. It appears he was leaving a trench, and the sentry, mistaking him for a German sniper, fired and shot him in the groin, with the result that he died from loss of blood before he could be carried to the dressing station.   Sergt-Major Dodd had put in 14 years of service.’

Another note on the 1914-1918.invisionzone forum stated:

On 1 December, CSM Arthur Dodd was killed coming from the trenches when a sentry mistook him for a German sniper. He came from Rugby and had been in the army for 14 years. It seems that the idea of holding the front line ‘by posts’ only because of the conditions was not just a 48th Division idea used by the Warwicks Territorials, as the 1st Battalion did the same from at least 8 December. …’.[6]

Arthur was buried in Grave Reference:III. E. 5. in the Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps – a village about 16 kilometres north of Albert.

Sucrerie was originally called the ‘10th Brigade Cemetery’ and was near the front line. Indeed, in the period when Warrant Officer Dodd was killed, the great majority of casualties buried there were from the 10th Brigade: from the 1st Bn. Warwickshires and the 2nd Bn. Seaforth Highlanders, as well as the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles. Between August 1915 and the end of the year, 22 men from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were buried at Sucrerie.

The cemetery was begun by French troops in the early summer of 1915, and extended to the west by British units from July in that year until December 1918.   Until the German retreat in March 1917, it was never more than a 1.6 kilometres from the front line. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.[7]

His family inserted an ‘In Memoriam’ notice in the Rugby Advertiser.

‘Dodd – In loving remembrance of my dear son, Company Sergt.-Major Dodd, who was killed in France, December 2, 1915.[8]

“In a soldier’s lonely grave,
Beneath France’s blood-stained sod,
There lies my dearest son, Resting in peace with God,
Though rolling seas divide us,
And he sleeps on a pitiless shore,
Remembrance is a relic
That shall live for evermore.”

‘- Never forgotten by his loving mother, sisters, and step-father.’


He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.




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This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in November 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper.




[1]       This may have been because any ‘pension’ may have been lost if she re-married; or merely that the record of the marriage has not been correctly recorded.

[2]       He was said to have served for 14 years when he was Killed in Action in December 1915.

[3]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=7339#sthash.t1U5l8Vp.dpuf

[4]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/warwickshirregiment

[5]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=145645

[6]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=145645

[7]         Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org/

[8]       It seems that there is a discrepancy between the date given to the family and that used by the CWGC.

Clarke, Walter. Died 15th Nov 1915

Walter Clarke was born in Barby in 1889. His father was Edward Thomas Clarke, a builder and grocer, and Martha (nee COLEMAN). Both parents were born in Barby but must have spent a brief time in Rugby, as their two elder children were born there. In 1905 Edward Clarke died at the age of 50 and the family moved to Rugby. In 1911 Martha was living at 19 Temple Street with Walter, aged 21 and his brother Edward Thomas, 23, a bricklayer. Walter was employed as a factory hand.

When the war started, Walter was one of the first to enlist on 7th September 1914, at the age of 23 years and 3 months. He was 5ft 5½in tall with brown eyes and dark brown hair. He joined the 6th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment. This battalion was a mixture of recruits from Dorset, 400 volunteers from London, 400 from Warwickshire and 70 Welsh miners. The battalion was part of the 17th Northern Division which was intended for Home Defence duties, so much time was spent training at Bovington Camp. However by 1915 they were needed in France and Walter arrived in Boulogne on 14th July 1915 and they were soon serving in the trenches near Ypres.

Water Clarke died on 15th November 1915, presumably as a result of sniper fire. His death was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 18th December 1915:

Pte R Compton, a life-long friend of deceased, in a letter to Mrs Clarke, states that they were talking together in the trench a few minutes before the occurrence. He adds that Pte Carke died almost instantly; he passed away quite peacefully, and never spoke or moved. He was buried right away from the firing line, and the Sergts and men of the platoon sent their sympathy to his friends.

The Captain of his company, in a letter of sympathy to Mrs Clarke, says: “He was a good soldier, and I was sorry to lose him. In your great loss you have one consolation – he died fighting for his country against a cruel, treacherous, and barbarous race, the greatest honour a man can have in this life.”

Pte Clarke, who was only 26 years of age, was very popular with his companions.

Walter Clarke is buried at Birr Cross Roads Cemetery. He was transferred from his original grave at Gordon House No 1 Cemetery on 3rd April 1919 together with three other men from the Dorsetshire Regiment. The inscription on his headstone reads “of Rugby, Warwickshire”

Note: The Commonwealth War Grave Commission gives his date of death as 5th November 1915 – the same date as the death of the other men in the original grave. His Service record and other documents record his death as 15th November 1915.



House, John Alfred. Died 10th Nov 1915

John Alfred HOUSE was born in late 1879 in Marton, Warwickshire, not far from Rugby.   His birth was registered in Q4, 1879 in Rugby. His father, William, was from Brownsover and was variously a house painter and glazier; his mother, Emma was from Marton.

On census night 1901, John was a 21 year old, ‘general labourer’, boarding at 25 Stanley Street, Garston, Lancashire, with the Fiddler family. Later that year he would marry the daughter of the house, Mary Ann Fiddler, in Rugby.

In 1911, he was 31 years old and living with his wife, Mary Ann and their family at 13 Plowman Street, Rugby. By then they had three children: Harry House, aged 8, who died aged 10, two years later in 1913; Frank House, aged 4 and John House, aged 2.

They would have three more children: a daughter, Gladys M, was registered in Q3, 1911; a boy in Q2, 1913 but he died, unnamed, at or soon after birth; and a daughter, Winifred M, who was registered in Q4, 1914.

In 1911 John had been working as a fishmonger, however, assuming this is the correct John House, by the start of the war he had moved to very different employment in the Machine Shop at BTH.

He probably joined up early in the war, despite being in his mid-30s. He became a Rifleman, No.R/209, in ‘A’ Company, 11th (Service) Battalion, of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. This was probably in early September 1914, as the service records of another Rifleman, James Stanley, with a similarly low service number, R/354, who also joined the 11th, was attested on 8 September 1914.

The 11th (Service) Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) was raised at Winchester in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army, and joined 59th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division.   After training close to home they moved to Blackdown, then in February 1915 to Witley and to Larkhill, near Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain in April for final training. At some date John was promoted to Lance-Corporal.

The Division was inspected by King George V at Knighton Down on 24 June 1915, by which time all their equipment had arrived and the Division was judged ready for war. They proceeded to France on 21 July 1915, landing at Boulogne, and by 26 July 1915 the Division completed concentration in the Saint-Omer area. Early trench familiarisation and training took place in the Fleurbaix area.[1]

John House’s Medal Card confirms that he was with his Battalion when they went to France on 21 July 1915. The Division did not seem to have been in any major actions in late 1915, indeed activity had probably slowed for the winter. However, routine trench duties as well as hazardous resupply work and training behind the front lines would have carried on.

It was probably during such fairly ‘routine duties’ that John House was ‘killed in action’ on 10 November 1915. He was buried in Grave Reference: A.10. in the Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard, Laventie, France.

Although some way behind the front line, it seems this graveyard was used by the 20th Division for casualties during October and November 1915. Of the 17 casualties buried at Laventie in the two months between 1 October and 30 November 1915, fifteen were from the 20th Division: four from the 11th KRRC in 59th Brigade, and five from the 7th Somersets and six from the 12th King’s Liverpools, both in 61st Brigade.

Laventie is some 6 kilometers south-west of Armentieres and 11 kilometers north of La Bassee. The ‘13th London’ Graveyard was begun by the 1st Royal Irish Rifles in November 1914, and during and after the following December graves of the 13th London Regiment (The Kensingtons) were added. The cemetery was closed in July 1916. It was known also as the Red House Cemetery from a ruined house, now rebuilt, on the South side of the road.[2]

There are 192 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war commemorated in this site, unusually only one is unidentified, which suggests that the graveyard was used in comparatively quieter periods, when casualties could be more readily identified.

John was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on the BTH list of Employees who served in the War, but was omitted from the BTH list of those who ‘Fell in the War’, although he is on the BTH War Memorial, and was included on the listing that was published in the Rugby Advertiser on 4 November 1921, when the memorial was unveiled.

It appears that his widow Mary Ann House died in Rugby, aged 50 in late 1929.

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This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in November 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper.







[1]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=6484#sthash.kufyfTjP.dpuf; also The Long Long Trail, at http://www.1914-1918.net/20div.htm.

[2]         Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org/.

Billingham, Walter Arthur. Died 21st Oct 1915

Walter Arthur Billingham birth was registered in 1895 at Towcester. His parents were Alfred Billingham (a flour miller) born in (Nether?) Heyford, Northamptonshire and Emma (nee Harrison) Billingham born in Northampton, Northamptonshire.

His parent’s marriage on 01 December 1889 was registered in Northampton, Northamptonshire. Walter was one of six children but only five survived according to the 1911 census. He was the eldest son living at home, 2 Pynus Cottages, Blisworth, aged 15, working as a gardener with his brother Frederick aged 12 and his sister Elsie aged 6 both at school and his sister Lily aged 3. His elder brother, Alfred J, aged 21, is not present but was recorded on the 1901 census when the family were living at 13 Chapel Lane, Blisworth in Northamptonshire.

(The name Pynus Cottages came from a nearby field named “Pyesnest”.)

Walter Arthur enlisted in Rugby in Warwickshire as a Gunner joining the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery.

The local newspaper recorded the following:-“BTH Employee Dies of Wounds

News has been received in Rugby of the death from wounds received in the Dardanelles, on October 27th, of Gunner W Bellingham, R.F.A. who at the time he enlisted was employed in the winding department at the B.T.H. Works.”

Walter Arthur Billingham’s British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Card states that the theatre of war (3) entered, was Egypt and the qualifying date was 14/07/1915. He joined the Royal Field Artillery as Gunner Billingham, and regimental number 10351. He was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 15 Star. On his death he was recorded as 10351, B Bty., 59th Bde., Royal Field Artillery.

He died at Suvla Bay, of his wounds.

Walter Arthur Billingham is remembered with honour at Hill 10 Cemetery, Suvla.


Country:-Turkey (including Gallipoli)

Identified Casualties:-549

Location Information

The Anzac and Suvla cemeteries are first signposted from the left hand junction of the Eceabat- Bigali Road. From this junction, travel into the main Anzac area.

Located South West of Azmak and North of the Salt Lake, the cemetery will be found on the left, 21.5 kms from the junction.

Historical Information

The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea.

The Allies landed on the peninsula on 25-26 April 1915; the 29th Division at Cape Helles in the south and the Australian and New Zealand Corps north of Gaba Tepe on the west coast, an area soon known as Anzac. On 6 August, further troops were put ashore at Suvla, just north of Anzac, and the climax of the campaign came in early August when simultaneous assaults were launched on all three fronts.

The aim of the Suvla force had been to quickly secure the sparsely held high ground surrounding the bay and salt lake, but confused landings and indecision caused fatal delays allowing the Turks to reinforce and only a few of the objectives were taken with difficulty.

Hill 10, a low isolated mound to the north of the salt lake, was taken by the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 11th Manchesters on the early morning of 7 August 1915. The cemetery was made after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from isolated sites and from the 88th Dressing Station, 89th Dressing Station, Kangaroo Beach, ‘B’ Beach, 26th Casualty Clearing Station and Park Lane

There are now 699 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 150 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them.

This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by Janine Fearn in October 2015. Many thanks are due to, Christine Hancock, for managing the project, and for producing the “Rugby Remembers” blog and also to those members of the group who provided data from the local papers.

Research achieved from using the Ancestry and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web sites.


Busson, Ernest Charles. Died 17th Oct 1915

Ernest Charles Busson was born in 1893, he was baptised on 14 January 1894. His parents were William Edward and Elizabeth Busson. Father’s birth registered in Stow in the Wold, Gloucestershire and his mother’s in Rugby, Warwickshire.

His mother and father married 27 September 1886 in St Matthew’s Church in Rugby. Ernest was one of four children, his eldest brother, William Alfred b. 1887, fought and died in The Great War, 26 August 2014, Mary Ann b 1888, and John Henry b. 1890 who also signed up to fight.

In the 1911 census William and Elizabeth are recorded as being married for 26 years, living at 30 Sun Street, Rugby, and William working as a house painter and John Henry (23) and Ernest Charles (18) as Labourers (brick-layers). Previous census records have transcription errors and record the surname as Burson instead of Busson.

Ernest Charles Busson – photo by permission of Rugby Library

The local newspaper reported that “A second son killed”. “Official news was received on Tuesday that Pte Ernest Chas Busson, of the 5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 17th. This confirms a report circulated in the town last week as to the fate of the young soldier. Pte Busson, whose home is at 30 Sun Street, Rugby, joined the Regiment when the war broke out, he was 23 years of age, and was employed at the L & N W Erecting Shop. He was brother to Pte Wm Busson, of the 1st Royal Warwicks, who was killed in the retreat from Mons.”

Ernest Charles’ British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Card states that the theatre of war entered in was France and date of entry 06/08/1915. He joined the 6th Bn., Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry as Private Busson, regimental number 11867. He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and the 1915 Star.

Edward Charles is remembered with Honour at Rue-Du-Bacquerot No. 1 Military Cemetry, Laventie, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France

Rue-de-Bacquerot No.1Military Cemetry, Laventie

Location Information

Laventie is a village in the Department of the Pas-de-Calais, 6 kilometres south-west of Armentieres and 11 kilometres north of La Bassee. Rue-du-Bacquerot No.1 Military Cemetery is 3 kilometres south of Laventie on the north side of the road to La Couture

Historical Information

The Rue-du-Bacquerot runs south-east of the village, from the Estaires-La Bassee road towards Fleurbaix, and the position of this road close behind the Allied front trenches during the greater part of the First World War made it the natural line of a number of small Commonwealth cemeteries. One of these, begun by the Indian Corps in November 1914, was the nearest to the Estaires-La Bassee road and became known as Rue-du-Bacquerot No.1.

The cemetery was used until May 1917, and for short periods in 1918, by the units holding the line. After the Armistice the small Indian plots were enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields and from smaller burials grounds.

Nineteen of the Indian graves were brought in from RUE-DES-CHAVATTES INDIAN CEMETERY, LACOUTURE.

The cemetery contains 637 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 61 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate 12 casualties. The cemetery also contains seven German graves.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by Janine Fearn in October 2015. Many thanks are due to, Christine Hancock, for managing the project, and for producing the “Rugby Remembers” blog and also to those members of the group who provided data from the local papers.

Research achieved from using Ancestry and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web sites.




Davis, Walter. Died 17th Oct 1915

 Walter Davis was born in mid 1872 in Rugby and registered as Walter Smith Davis in Q3 1872. His parents were Francis Smith Davis, b.c.1836 in Welford, Northamptonshire and Emma, née Masters, Davis, b.c.1842 in Walcote, Leicestershire. Their marriage was registered in Lutterworth in later 1863. There were four children: Albert, b.c.1867; Ada, b.c.1871; Walter S., b.1872; and Arthur Davis b.c.1876.

In 1861, Francis had been a groom, the son of an agricultural labourer; but before 1867, the family had moved to Rugby and by 1881, was living at 18 Lawford Road and Francis was working as a ‘horse clipper’. In 1891, his son, Walter, was a ‘cement labourer’ – they were living at 18 New Street – and Francis, had added a further trade and was now a ‘horse clipper and green grocer’, and it was as a greengrocer that Francis was enumerated in 1881. It seems that the greengrocery business was successful as Francis was still in the trade in 1901, but now the family was living at 36 New Street. Walter’s elder sister Ada was a corset maker, whilst Walter had become a ‘mechanic’s labourer’.

By 1911 the family had moved again to live at 61 Victoria Street, New Bilton, Rugby. On enumeration night, 2 April, Walter’s father was lodging in his birth village of Welford as an ‘old age pensioner’, and whilst not required and deleted by the administrator, he had noted that he had been married 46 years and had three of his children ‘still living’. Walter was now 38, still single and a ‘crane driver’, quite possibly at the nearby cement works – and it was thought that he might have been a mechanic there in 1901, however, he is not in the list of early recruits from the Rugby Portland Cement Works in September 1914.[1]

As was the case for a number of local men, Walter Davis joined up, as Private, No:11886, into the 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Ox. and Bucks.).

The surviving Service Records for the Ox. and Bucks. suggest that there was a rapid response to the recruitment drive and the service numbers can be used to make an estimate of the place and date of attestation for other soldiers. With the number 11886, it is likely that Walter joined up in Rugby around 2 September 1914, where No.11874 Smith, only 12 recruits ahead in any queue, is known to have joined up. Walter, who was now about 42, would have been much older than many who joined the Battalion.

A summary of the earlier movements and actions of the 5th Bn. Ox. and Bucks. can be found in the description of the attack on Bellewaarde Farm on 25 September 1915 (see: Rugby Remembers for that date). The 5th Ox. and Bucks. was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of Kitchener’s new army and was placed under the orders of the 42nd Brigade in the 14th (Light) Division. They landed in Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

However, whenever he actually ‘joined up’, Walter did not go to France until 1 October 1915, probably with reinforcements, after the heavy losses at Bellewaarde Farm, when the Battalion was withdrawn to regroup and retrain, and the Battalion Diary,[2] noted that the Battalion returned to a ‘Camp near Poperinge’ by 1 October, and that ‘… 46 other ranks were killed, six died of wounds, 249 were wounded and 136 were missing.’ Two days later a draft of 200 NCOs and men, a ‘… very good looking lot of men’ arrived from 9th Bn. to provide replacements.

9th (Reserve) Battalion was formed at Portsmouth in October 1914, as a Service battalion for K4 and placed under orders of 96th Brigade, originally in 32nd Division, but on 10 April 1915 it was converted into a reserve battalion.[3] It seems quite likely that Walter had been initially in this battalion for training and was then included in the reinforcements which joined the 5th Battalion.

However by 13 October 1915, the Battalion Diary[4] indicated that the Battalion was back in the trenches, and relieved the 8th K.R.R.C. in Railway Wood, (see location map on Rugby Remembers – 25 September 1915, and details of the Battalion in Rugby Remembers for 16 October 1915).

The CWGC lists 11 men from the 5th Ox. And Bucks. killed on 16 October (including William Langham – see Rugby Remembers for 16 October 1915) and who have no known grave. Then on the next day the Battalion Diary noted:

October 17th – At 5.15 a.m. the enemy ‘exploded’ a mine under the junction of H.20 and H.21, making a very large crater (about 40 yards in diameter and 30 feet deep), and filling a great part of H.20 and H.21 with earth.

Our mine shaft in H.20 was blown up. It appears to have been a defensive measure only, as no artillery fire was opened and no attack made. The fire-trench at the junction of H.20 and H.21 was destroyed for about 4 bays on either side. A huge amount of earth was thrown up, and forms a long ridge running towards the German crater of the 25th September. About 7 a.m. the enemy made two bomb attacks against the new crater and the Sunken Road. Both were easily repulsed by our bombers at the crater, and by rifle-fire from H.20.   The behaviour of the men was excellent.   As soon as the mine exploded A Company holding H.20 north and south of the Sunken Road, stood up on the fire-step and delivered a very rapid, steady fire against the enemy position, while 2 platoons started to dig out men buried by the explosion. Work commenced almost at once on constructing a trench round the crater. Enemy snipers were busy, and we had several casualties in parties carrying up knife-rests. The C.O. directed field guns to be laid on the enemy crater; large supplies of bombs were got up, and a reinforcement of 1 sergeant and 16 bombers of the 5th K.S.L.I. came to our assistance.   Captain R. O. Logan was killed by a bomb, the last of our Regular or even experienced Company Commanders, and a very great loss. At 12.40p.m. 1 company of the 5th K.S.L.I, was ordered up to reinforce.   During the morning we successfully wired between H.20 and S.20. The night passed quietly, but the Battalion stood-to throughout. 2nd Lieut. A. D. J. Mellis, one of the last of the newly joined officers, was killed in the afternoon by an aerial torpedo in H.22. Casualties during the day: 2 officers and 13 other ranks killed; 31 other ranks wounded; 23 other ranks missing and buried by the mine. Total 69.

36 men were killed or buried alive that day, but there seem to be only five of them with known graves, at various places, including behind lines at dressing stations or hospitals, and they include some who were wounded in earlier actions and died on that day.

Again, it seems that for any who had actual graves, these were probably lost in subsequent actions and shelling. There are some 29 men from the 5th Ox. And Bucks. recorded as dying on the 17 October 1915, and who have no known graves and who are now remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial.

It is likely that Walter Davis was one of those killed or buried alive, in the mine explosion in the early morning of 17 October 1915. He had only been in France for just over two weeks.

Walter’s father, Francis, died in mid 1915 in Rugby shortly before his son. His mother, Emma, died in mid 1921.

Walter was awarded the British and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star, and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial and on the Rugby Memorial Gates.




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This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in October 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 12 September 1914.

[2]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, 1 August 1915 to 30 June 1916, at: http://www.lightbobs.com/.

[3]         http://www.1914-1918.net/oxbucks.htm

[4]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, 1 August 1915 to 30 June 1916, at: http://www.lightbobs.com/.