Driver, Charles John. Died 31st Dec 1917

Charles John DRIVER, as in the military records – or John Charles DRIVER in civilian life – was born in late 1897, with his birth registered at Rugby in Q1, 1898. He was baptised as John Charles Driver, on 13 February 1898, at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby. He was the first and only child of Reuben Edward Driver [jnr.], b.c.1869 in Market Harborough, a plate layer of 811 Old Station, and Elizabeth Ann née Beers, Driver who had married on 19 April 1897 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby.

It seems that his mother must have died, when she was aged 27, in childbirth, towards the end of December 1897, as her death was registered in Q4 1897.   Indeed, because of the time allowed for registration, her death would have had to be registered within five days, but the birth did not have to be registered for 42 days – hence the birth being registered in Q1, 1898 – the following year.

It seems that John Charles’s paternal grandmother took on the task of rearing her grandson. His father Reuben Edward Driver [jnr] remarried with Georgina née Hinks, in about 1900, and in 1901 they were living elsewhere although near his parents and enumerated at 855 Old Station, together with Georgina’s widowed mother. By 1911, they had been married 11 years, and had moved to live at 811 Newbold Road, Rugby, but had had no children. He had remained a plate layer over this time, latterly at least for the L&NW Railway.

In 1901, the 3 year old John Charles Driver was enumerated with his grandparents, Reuben E. Driver [sen.] and Caroline Driver at 1002 Old Station, Rugby.   Reuben sen. was a ‘Loco Railway Labourer’. In 1911, John Charles was again at that address, with his widowed 71 year old grandmother and a younger cousin, his grandfather having died in early 1909.

John Charles followed in the family ‘tradition’ and went to work for the railway, and when war broke out, he enlisted in September 1914 and was included on … ‘The following … list of men from the Locomotive Department of the L & N-W Railway at Rugby …, J C Driver, …’.[1]

There are no Service Records to indicate where John Charles may have served, but his final posting was in the Royal Flying Corps, where he became No.92241, and promoted to be a 2nd Class Air Mechanic in the 56th Kite Balloon Section.

At the end of 1917, John Charles, and other members of his Kite Balloon Section were posted to the Middle East, and due to arrive at Alexandria.

In March 1915, the base of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was transferred to Alexandria from Mudros and the city became a camp and hospital centre for Commonwealth and French troops. Among the medical units established there were the 17th, 19th, 21st, 78th and 87th General Hospitals and No 5 Indian Hospital. After the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, Alexandria remained an important hospital centre during later operations in Egypt and Palestine and the port was much used by hospital ships and troop transports bringing reinforcements and carrying the sick and wounded out of the theatres of war.

John Charles was travelling on the Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary HT Osmanieh when it was struck by a mine on 31 December 1917, when entering the port of Alexandria. 76 officers and men of the Commonwealth forces were lost.

The ship’s loss was not reported until February 1918,
‘… The Mercantile fleet auxiliary Osmanieh, whose loss, with a large number of lives, in the Eastern Mediterranean on 31 December was officially announced the Admiralty on Wednesday, was the vessel commanded by Lieut-com. D. R. Mason, of Tenby, who lost his life on that occasion.’ [2]

John Charles Driver’s death was also reported in a Coventry newspaper; although it is not yet established what his Coventry connection may have been.
‘Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties, … Missing believed Drowned, … Driver, 92241, 2nd Class Air Mechanic J. C., Coventry, R.F.C. …’ [3]

He is remembered with fellow members of his Kite Balloon Section on the Chatby Memorial, which notes that they were ‘… Drowned at Sea [from H T Osmanieh] …’.

Chatby is a district on the eastern side of the city of Alexandria, Egypt.   The Chatby Memorial stands at the eastern end of the Alexandria (Chatby) War Memorial Cemetery and commemorates almost 1,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War and have no other grave but the sea. Many of them were lost when hospital ships or transports were sunk in the Mediterranean, sailing to or from Alexandria. Others died of wounds or sickness while aboard such vessels and were buried at sea. More than 700 of those commemorated on the memorial died when the vessels were torpedoed or mined.

John Charles DRIVER was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and is commemorated – as ‘C J Driver’ – on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.



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This article on Charles John DRIVER 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, October 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914.

[2]       Western Mail, Friday, 1 February 1918.

[3]       Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 12 February 1918.


Everett, Frederick Stanley. Died 16th Dec 1917

Frederick Stanley EVERETT was born in 1897 in Daventry, the son of Charles Frederick (born 1869, Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire) and his wife, Edith Annie, née Wall, Everett who were married on 18 July 1895 in Daventry, Northamptonshire. They moved to Narborough in Leicestershire in about 1899 for two or so years, before moving to Rugby at some date before 1901.

In 1901, the family were living at 118 Abbey Street, Rugby, and in 1911 the family were at 42 Claremont Road Rugby, a six room house. Frederick now had six younger siblings and was working as a ‘junior railway clerk’. His father was also a ‘railway clerk’.

Frederick attended the Murray School and in 1909 was highly commended in a competition to make a model dog kennel,[1] and in 1910 when in Form ‘St. VII’ received an Attendance Prize.[2] ‘He was at one time a teacher in the Murray Sunday School and secretary of St Andrew’s Guild Cricket Club. He was also a member of St Peter’s Church Choir, …’[3]

Frederick had been employed as a Goods Clerk by the L & N-W Railway Company at Berkswell and Hampton.[4]

He joined up when he was aged 18 in January 1916,[5] into the Army Service Corps as No.DN2/155017. When he went abroad is unknown, but it was probably after training, later in 1916. He went to Mesopotania and was part of the 971st MT [Motor Transport] Company.   At some date he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

In 1914, Baghdad had been the headquarters of the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. It was the ultimate objective of the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D’ and the goal of the force besieged and captured at Kut in 1916. On 11 March 1917, the British entered Baghdad … The British Indian Army played a significant role … but the position was not fully consolidated until the end of April.

Amidst the confusion of the retreat a large part of the Ottoman army (some 15,000 soldiers) was captured.[6] Given the continually depressing news in France and elsewhere, this was a significant and newsworthy achievement. British forces (and Russians, advancing from the north and east) closed in on the Turks throughout the autumn of 1917.[7]  Baghdad became the Expeditionary Force’s advanced base, with two stationary hospitals and three casualty clearing stations.

By 18 November 1917, the distribution of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Corps,[8] suggested that the No.971 Mechanical Transport Company was equipped with Ford vans and was on the Tigris Front and they were in the Basra or Baghdad Garrison as Army Troops in the 18th Division which had just begun to be formed, although the bulk of the units (most of which were to come from India) had not yet arrived in Mesopotamia on that date.

The supply lines had become overlong and General Maude had died of cholera on 18 November 1917. He was replaced by General William Marshall who halted operations for the winter.

‘… conditions in Mesopotamia defy description.   Extremes of temperature (120 degrees F was common); arid desert and regular flooding; flies, mosquitoes and other vermin: all led to appalling levels of sickness and death through disease.   Under these incredible conditions, units fell short of officers and men, and all too often the reinforcements were half-trained and ill-equipped. Medical arrangements were quite shocking, with wounded men spending up to two weeks on boats before reaching any kind of hospital. These factors, plus of course the unexpectedly determined Turkish resistance, contributed to high casualty rates. …’[9]

11012 killed,
3985 died of wounds,
12678 died of sickness,
13492 missing and prisoners (9000 at Kut),
51836 wounded.’[10]

Frederick Everett died on 16 December 1917, aged 21. He was one of the very many who ‘Died of Sickness’ in the base hospital at Basra. He was buried in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery in Plot III. G. 11. His gravestone bears the wording, ‘Father in Thy Gracious Keeping, Leave we now our Dear One Sleeping’. 

Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery is today located in a very sensitive area in the Waziriah Area of the Al-Russafa district of Baghdad. … The North Gate Cemetery was begun in April 1917 and has been greatly enlarged since the end of the First World War by graves brought in from other burial grounds in Baghdad and northern Iraq, and from battlefields and cemeteries in Anatolia where Commonwealth prisoners of war were buried by the Turks.[11]

When news of his death reached Rugby in December 1917, after the service at St Peter’s church on Sunday evening ‘… the ‘Dead March’ in Saul was played to honour his memory.’[12]

Frederick Stanley EVERETT was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.



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This article on Frederick Stanley Everett 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, October

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 6 November 1909.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 November 1910.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917.

[4]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917; also info. given in Birmingham Daily Post, Friday, 28 December 1917.

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917; also info. given in Birmingham Daily Post, Friday, 28 December 1917.





[10]     Data from ‘Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire’, London: HMSO, 1920.


[12]     Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917.

Morris, Richard. Died 30th Nov 1917

Richard W MORRIS was born at Newbold in 1894, the son of Richard W Morris (b.c.1862 at Harborough Magna, Warwickshire,) and his wife, Fanny, née Walker, Morris, who had married at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 7 October 1886, when he was living at 780 Old Station, Rugby, and she was also living in ‘Old Station’.

By 1901, when Richard was 7 years old, the family had moved to live at Newbold and his father was a labourer at a ‘cement works’. By 1911 the family was living at 86 Abbey Street, Rugby.   Richard’s father was now a ‘Blacksmith’s Striker’ at the ‘BTH Works’ and Richard was the fourth of six children aged between 13 and 24, who were all living at home – three of his siblings had died before 1911. Richard was a ‘labourer’ and like his father was also at the ‘BTH Works’.

There are no extant military Service Records, only Richard’s Medal Card which shows that he went into the French ‘theatre of war’ on 16 June 1915. He had joined up as No.Z/258, Rifleman R. Morris in the 11th Battalion [Bn.] of the Rifle Brigade.   However he doesn’t appear to be under that name or number in the December 1915 to January 1916 Roll Book.

The 11th (Service) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was formed at Winchester in September 1914 as part of K2 and came under command of the 59th Brigade in the 20th (Light) Division. They moved to Blackdown, going on in February 1915 to Witley and then in April to Hamilton Camp (Stonehenge). On 21 July 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne which appears to be a month or so after Richard is recorded as having arrived in France – maybe he was initially in another unit.

On 20 November 1917, after having taken part in various actions earlier in the Battle of 3rd Ypres, the 11th Battalion were part of the British Third Army which launched an attack towards Cambrai. The method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, a large number of tanks were used in significant force. However, having started well, with large gains of ground being made, the German reserves brought the advance to a halt. Ten days later, a counter-attack regained much of the ground.

It was probably during this German counter-attack that Richard Morris was killed in action on 30 November 1917. His Medal Card declares that he was ‘Acc[epted] as Dead’ as his body was either never found or never identified. He is remembered with his fellow Riflemen on Panels 10 and 11 of the Cambrai Memorial which is located an elevated terrace in the Louverval Military Cemetery, Louveral, France, 11 kms north of Arras. The monument commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen from Britain and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai and whose graves are not known.

Richard MORRIS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’; and on the BTH War Memorial.[1]



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This article on Richard MORRIS 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, October 2017.

[1]       The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.

Green, George Bernard. Died 30th Nov 1917

George Bernard Green was born on the 24th April and baptised on 12th June 1898 at St Barnabas Church in Oxford. His father Frederick was an iron moulder and lived at 11 St Barnabas Street. He and George’s mother Louisa Greenfield (nee Palmer) had married in Stockbridge RD (Hampshire). Louisa was from nearby Bowerchalke, in Wiltshire and Frederick from Oxford.

The family moved several times, with children born in Oxford, Stoke on Trent and the two youngest, Margaret Ann and John Palmer, five and two in the 1911 census, in New Bilton. George Bernard, aged 12, was still at school at this point and the family was living at 4 Gladstone Street. Frederick was still working as an iron moulder.

George’s older brother, Frederick John, signed up at the start of the war and was wounded in the Battle of the Somme and died in September 1916.

George Bernard would have enlisted later – he was only 16 in 1914 and he received only the British and Victory Medals. He joined the Montgomery and Welsh Yeomanry, part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. In January 1917, reorganisation caused am amalgamation of regiments and on 4th March 1917 it became 25th (Montgomery and Welsh Horse Yeomanry) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers and joined the 231st Brigade of the 74th (Yeomanry) Division which took part in the Second Battle of Gaza (17-19 April 1917). Tis was an unsuccessful attempt to capture the town of Gaza. After a summer of stalemate they took part in the Third Battle of Gaza (27 Oct – 7 Nov) which resulted in the Turks abandoning the town and a rapid British advance to capture Jerusalem (8-9 December).

It must have been during this advance that Private George Bernard Green (no 60104) was killed. His body was not identified and he is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial, which stands in Jerusalem War Cemetery, 4.5 kilometres north of the walled city and is situated on the neck of land at the north end of the Mount of Olives, to the west of Mount Scopus.

He is also remembered, with his brother on the Croop Hill Memorial



Lissimore, Hugh Harold. Died 28th Nov 1917

Hugh was the youngest of the four sons of Thomas Lissimore and Hannah Mary nee Roberts who were married in Wellingborough Registration District, Northamptonshire, in April Quarter 1891.   His brothers were Ernest John b 1893, Cecil Joseph b 1895, both at Wellingborough, and Arthur Thomas b 1897 at Stanwick Northants; Hugh was born in 1899 at Higham Ferrers, Northants.

In 1901 the family was living in Irthlingborough, Northants, Thomas was a cement works manager born in Tividale near Dudley Staffordshire, his wife Hannah came from Chesterfield.   Perhaps his occupation was the reason for coming to Rugby to work at the cement works here, but in 1906 Thomas died at Dudley aged only 38. Was he on a family visit or did Hannah have ties with the town? Certainly Hannah was at 45 Jubilee Street in New Bilton in 1907 when all four of her sons were baptised at Bilton Church on 17 February, their father is noted in the register as “deceased”. It has not been established whether she came to Rugby before or after her husband’s death.

Hannah was still at Jubilee Street in 1911, with just the two youngest boys Arthur and Hugh – she says she is “on an allowance”.

According to Soldiers Died in the Great War Hugh enlisted at Warwick and joined the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards as Private 19339.   He was killed in action on 28 November 1917, his death was reported in the Birmingham Daily Post on 21 December when his mother was living at 23 Lodge Road. Hugh is described as a former scholar of St Matthew’s School in Rugby who had only been at the front for a few months.

Hugh is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louvreval, France. His mother and sole legatee received his back pay of £5.14s.8d and a War Gratuity of £4. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission citation, she was living in Coventry Road, Dunchurch when the memorial was set up. She died in 1962, her Executor was her son Cecil, a retired Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy.

Hugh was awarded the Victory and British War Medals. As well as being commemorated on the Memorial Gates, his name appears on the memorial at St Philip’s Church, Wood Street, although as this church is now closed, it is not known if the memorial is still there. The names were recorded by The Rugby Advertiser on 12 November 1920 when it was unveiled.




Neville, Frank Septimus. Died 24th Nov 1917

Frank was the youngest of the nine children of Thomas Johnson Neville and his wife Lilian nee Lord who were married at St Paul’s Chiswick, Middlesex on 18 March 1872.   Thomas and Lilian returned to Thomas’s birthplace of Dunchurch after their marriage where he was a butcher and farmer.   Although Lilian was born in Hoxton Middlesex, her father Richard was also born in Dunchurch.

Frank was baptised in Dunchurch on 25 October 1891, his birth being registered in December Quarter of that year.

In 1901 Frank was aged 9, living with his parents and five older siblings in Dunchurch, but by 1911 he was 19 and had become a teacher in Stamford. This is confirmed by his detailed obituary in the Rugby Advertiser of 1 December 1917. This records that he was educated at Dunchurch School, then at the Lower School in Rugby (now Lawrence Sheriff). He was a member of the Howitzer Battery in Rugby, and “being a well-set up young fellow, was selected as one of the Guard of Honour when King Edward visited the town” in 1909.   He left Stamford for a post as assistant master at St Matthews School in Rugby where he took a great interest in the new Scout movement.

Just before war broke out he passed high in a Civil Service examination which enabled him to become a member of the Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) as Private 1013.   He was transferred to the Northampton Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant in 1914, posted to France on 26 July 1915 and was gazetted as Temporary Captain on 4 January 1917. He was involved in heavy fighting at the Somme in July 1916 in which his brother Captain George H Neville  was killed and Frank severely wounded. He was invalided home for nine months and had command of a cadet corps during his recovery.

He returned to France about August 1917 and went through a lot of heavy fighting. He died from a bullet wound in the abdomen on 24 November 1917 and is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery near Poperinghe to the west of Ypres. Although this area was outside the front held by the Commonwealth forces in Belgium during the war, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions in July 1917. These were called by the troops with typical dry humour Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandagem.   3309 casualties are buried at Dozinghem, Frank’s grave is no XIII.E9 in the section to the extreme left in front of the Stone of Remembrance.

He received the Victory and British War medals and the 1915 Star. He is commemorated on the Old Laurentian Roll of Honour and Dunchurch War memorial as well as Rugby’s Memorial Gates.



Holmes, Bertie. Died 20th Nov 1917

Bertie Holmes was born in Leicester in 1894 and baptised on 3rd June at St Lukes, Leicester, to William and Sarah Ann (nee Facer).

In 1901 he was living at 18 Union St., Rugby with his parents and 2 siblings. William was a bricklayer’s labourer.

By 1911 Bertie was with his with his mother at 26 New St., New Bilton. His profession was given as “Bore-maker Cylinder” and he was aged 16. Sarah Ann, a char woman, is listed as married, although William is not with the family. Perhaps he had died, as in early 1912 she married George Etherington.

Bert must have signed up at the start of the war, joining the 1st battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (service no. 1664) a letter written to the Rugby Advertiser on 24 July 1915 states that he had been in France from November 1914:

Pte H Holmes, 1664 B Company, 1st Royal Warwicks, serving with the British Expeditionary Force, whose home is at 47 Wood Street, Rugby, has written us stating that there are twelve or more men in the regiment to his knowledge without razors, and if any of our readers have old razors that will shave the men referred to would be glad of them. We understand that all men have razors served out to them as part of their equipment, but apparently the men Pte Holmes refers to have lost theirs. Our correspondent informs us that he went out to France on November 11th last year, and has been in hospital twice. He adds:” We are out of the trenches now for a longer rest. Our regiment took part in that affair on July 6th. We were called up on the night we were going to be relieved, but had to stop owing to the Germans keeping on counter-attacking. The Old Warwicks helped to hold them back well.”


Another report on 18th September 1915 records a letter sent to his old schoolmaster at Murray School:
“I have been in hospital myself with gas poison, but it was not very serious. The first time they gassed us was about the 27th of April, and we lost a terrible number of men. The time I got the gas was last Whit-Monday morning (it was not so bad that time). The gas seems to take all the use out of your body, make your eyes smart and run, and your throat sore. It is rotten stuff. We had only got respirators then, but now we have got gas helmets, which are very good, as no gas can get through for two hours. So now we are prepared for it, but on the first occasion we had nothing at all for it. The next time we stepped into the mud again was on the 8th of July, when the Rifle Brigade took the trenches alongside of the Yser Canal. The order came up for us to reinforce the Lancashires because the Germans continued to make counter-attacks. On the 10th they made seven attacks, but they were no good, because a German officer and 26 men were made prisoners, and he said they were all that were left of 600. I have met both lots of Rugby Territorials. We have had the Infantry on the left of us in the trenches, where we are now, and we have had the Battery firing on the trenches in front of us.”

He would have fought in most of the battles on the western front and was awarded the DCM with the following citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Acting as a company runner for two years, he has been in the majority of the actions in which the battalion has taken part. He has always proved himself most reliable, and on many occasions has taken messages through very heavy fire, displaying singular devotion to duty.

He died in the aftermath of Passchendaele. His death is “officially accepted to be” on 20th November 1917.

His name is listed on the Arras Memorial.