Bentley, Thomas. Died 14th Oct 1918

Thomas (Tom) BENTLEY was born at 24 Cambridge Street, Rugby on 16 June 1887, into a railway family.  He was the son of Thomas Bentley, who was born in about 1861 in Stoke on Trent and Mary Jane, née Startin, Bentley, whose birth was registered in Market Bosworth in Q2 1861.  They were married on 27 November 1882 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

His father’s family came originally from Weston On Trent, Staffordshire, and whilst Thomas’s grandfather, also Thomas, had been a ‘boatman’ in 1851, it seems that he joined the railway soon afterwards and his changes of address and the birthplaces of his children show the progress of his career.  In about 1861 the family were in Stafford and by about 1862 they had moved to Rugby.  In 1871, Thomas’s grandfather was living with his family in King Street, Rugby, and he had been promoted to become a ‘Railway Engine Driver’.  In 1881 the family lived at the, now numbered, 13 King Street, Rugby – possibly the same house – and grandfather Thomas was still an ‘engine driver’, and Thomas’s father, also Thomas and still living with his parents, was a ‘Rly Engine Fitter’, and his younger brother, John, was a ‘Rly Engine Cleaner’.  In 1891 grandfather Thomas was still an ‘engine driver’ and still living at 13 King Street.  His second son, John, had risen to be a ‘locomotive foreman’, and was now married and living next door to his parents at 12 King Street and he already had three young children.

Meanwhile, towards the end of 1882, the eldest son, Thomas’s father, Thomas, had married with Mary Jane Startin, in Rugby.  The family seem to have been moved to Birmingham from at least 1884 to 1886 as their two eldest daughters were born there.  However, by 1887 they had moved back to Rugby and by 1891, Thomas junior, now three years old, and his family had moved to 26 Cambridge Street, Rugby.  Thomas’s father was still a ‘fitter’, presumably still with the railway.

In 1901, Thomas was 13, with five younger siblings, one a baby of two months.  They were now living at 22 Worcester Street, Rugby, and Thomas’s father was an ‘engine fitter’.  His two elder sisters, Annie and Mary, who would now have been 17 and 15, were no longer at home.  They both married in the 1900s.

By 1911 Thomas’s father had made a change of career and moved to run a ten room pub, ‘The Mug House Inn’,[1] at 12 Severn Side North, in Bewdley, Worcestershire.  Thomas and Mary Jane were now both 52 years old, and had been married 30 years; they had had eleven children, with ten of them still living.  Five of Thomas’s siblings were also at home, and also in the house on census night were his father’s ‘granddaughter’ and a ‘sister-in-law’.

Thomas was now 24 and had become a hairdresser.  He had ‘… an established trade as a hairdresser at 47 Load Street.’[2]

Thomas married Frances Annie née Tolley, Bentley, who was born on 6 May 1890, in Bewdley.  Her father was a ‘corn haulier’ and latterly a coal merchant of Ribbesford.  In 1911 she was a cook for a widow, Elizabeth Kitching, who died in later 1912.  Maybe she then moved to cook at the Inn or perhaps she had met Thomas earlier.  They were married on 23 June 1913 in Kidderminster.

The photograph of Thomas Bentley[3] may have been taken on the occasion of his marriage.

Thomas and Frances had a son, a fourth generation Thomas Bentley, who was born on 25 September 1915 in Kidderminster.

Thomas Bentley was still working in Bewdley in 1916 and was probably ‘called up’ when conscription was extended to married men in May 1916.  He enlisted in Worcester[4] as a Private, No. 46066, in the Worcestershire Regiment, initially in the 1st Battalion.[5]  He was latterly in the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment but as there is no date when Thomas went to France, he may have been sent to reinforce the 4th Bn. either before or after going to France when he was with the 1st Battalion.  There would have been a period training before he went abroad, so it was probably in late 1916 or early 1917.

In 1913, the 1st Battalion had been in Egypt, and on 16 October 1914 they arrived back in England – at Liverpool – and joined the 24th Brigade in the 8th Division.  On 18 October, the 24th Brigade transferred from the 8th Division to the 23rd Division, and in November 1914 went to France and Flanders.  In October 1915 they fought at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge and on 15 July 1916 the 24th Brigade transferred back to the 8th Division.  In 1917 they fought at Bouchavesnes and Ypres, and in 1918 at Pargny, Rosieres and the Aisne.

As noted, the date when Thomas transferred to the 4th Battalion is unknown, but it was probably after later 1916 when the Battalion had returned from Burma, spent time in Warwickshire and had then taken part in the landings and action at Gallipoli.  They were then withdrawn via Egypt to France, landing at Marseilles on 20 March 1916.[6]

After the Gallipoli campaign the 4th Battalion were ordered to proceed to France.  They disembarked at Marseilles on the morning of 20 March 1916.  During July 1916 the 4th Battalion were involved in the attack on Beaumont Hamel.  On the night of July 29/30 1916, the 4th Battalion moved forward by train to Ypres and were to remain in action for some 2 months before leaving again for the Somme (8 October 1916).  By the spring of 1917 the 4th Battalion were involved in the battle of Arras.  In July 1917 they were back in the Ypres Salient where they remained until mid October 1917.[7]

After the German Advance in their Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’,[8] in March 1918, the Allies continued to withdraw, until they were able to hold the advance which finally weakened the Germans and overextended their supply lines.  Then in August 1918 the Allies fought back.

During the early months of 1918, the 4th Battalion were active in the Lys and remained in that area until September.  Their next main action was to be at Ypres were they were involved in the retaking of Gheluvelt.  In October 1918 they saw action at the Battle of Courtrai and by November were marching to the Rhine.[9]

The War Diary[10] for the 4th Bn. Worcestershire Regiment in France and Belgium is available on-line and runs from March 1916.  It seems likely that Thomas Bentley was among the many drafts of reinforcements posted from UK – and probably from 1st Bn. reserves, to bring numbers up to strength.  Some extracts from the Diary for October and the last two weeks of his life are given below.

Oct. 1. – The Battalion remained in position … on the Kielenburg Ridge … a finer day … Enemy heavily shelled our positions during the afternoon and night, we suffered a few casualties. … 

Oct. 2. – … the 2nd Hampshires succeeded in taking the village of Gheluwe, capturing a number of prisoners. … This Brigade was relieved … the relief was considerably delayed owing to the enemy counter-attacking … No ground was, however, lost.

Oct. 3. – The Battalion moved back to Dirty Bucket Camp … it entrained on a light railway at 18.30 for Brake Camp, arriving there about 23.50.

Oct. 4. – … Baths allotted to Companies.  Men issued with winter underclothing.  Jerkins and blankets were also received.

Oct. 5. – The battalion was conveyed by lorries from Dirty Bucket Camp to Ypres. … Draft of 44 O.R. [Other Ranks] joined Battalion’. 

Oct. 6. –  … moved … billets from the Infantry Barracks to shelters and cellars near the [Ypres] station. 

Oct. 7. – … moved by march route from Ypres to Westhoek … accommodated in dug-outs and shelters … Respirators inspected …

Oct. 8. – … 1 hour’s gas drill …

Oct. 9. – … making preparations for relief … proceeded by march route to concentration area behind Keiberg Ridge … Here two day’s rations were issued and Battalion had tea. … proceeded to relieve 1st Dublin Fusiliers …

Oct. 10. – A quiet day.  Artillery activity on both sides normal.  … Capt. E C Bennet V.C., M.C.,[11] joined the Bn. for one month’s attachment.

Oct. 11. – Our artillery put down a barrage … just before dawn.  The enemy retaliated very heavily … Enemy artillery very active most of the day … the Battalion was relieved … a very wet night.

Oct. 12. – … Drill and Feet Rubbing … a very wet day …

Oct. 13. – The Battalion moved into assembly position with the remainder of the 29th Division, south-west of Ledeghem.

Oct. 14. – At 05.55 the 29th Division … attacked the enemy, the final objective being the railway line running from Courtrai to Ghent … [a detailed half page description of a somewhat confused day of fighting followed] … Casualties from Zero hour … [One officer was killed, three wounded and one gassed] – 11 O.R. killed.  82 O.R. wounded.  28 O.R. missing.  5 O.R. Sick.  1 O.R. N.Y.D.[12] (Gas).

Thomas Bentley would have been one of those eleven men ‘Killed in Action’ on 14 October 1918, he was 31.  He was buried in Plot: A.19., in the Ledeghem Military Cemetery which is located some 10 miles east of Ypres and which was captured by Thomas’s Division in the attack in which he was killed.

When a gravestone replaced the temporary marker in about 1920, his widow added the inscription ‘Death divides but memory ever clings’.  Less usually, he was buried together with another ‘unknown’ soldier.  Thomas’s stone is thus additionally inscribed at the base, ‘Also an unknown Private of the Great War, Worcestershire Regiment, 16th October 1918, known unto God.’  There are two other graves of known 4th Bn. soldiers who were also killed on 14 October 1918, which are shared with an ‘unknown’ soldier killed on 16 October 1918.

Ledeghem was almost captured on 19 October 1914 by the 10th Hussars, who were forced to retire the same day.  It then remained in German hands for four years.  On 1 October 1918, the 9th (Scottish) Division captured the village, but could not hold the whole of it; it was finally cleared by the 29th Division on 14 October.  The church, the school and the civil hospital of Ledeghem were used by the Germans as hospitals, and in October 1914 to September 1918, they buried German and Commonwealth casualties in three cemeteries in the commune.  Ledeghem Military Cemetery was made by the 29th Division (as ‘Ledeghem New Cemetery’) in October 1918. … The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.

A more detailed description of the Battle on 14 October 1918 is given by Dr. Simon Fielding on the Great War Forum site,
The action they were preparing to fight would be known as the Battle of Courtrai.  The assault opened at first light on the 14 October with an intense British barrage.  Unfortunately with the smoke shells combining with autumn mist formed an intense fog.  The troops began to lose their sense of direction, and units of the 88th Brigade began to become confusingly mixed.  They did, however, move effectively through the ruins of Ledeghem and surprised the German troops, capturing many machine guns and field guns.  The advanced platoons reached the road from Barakken to Overheule.  Here, the two battalions reorganized and consolidated, and the 2nd Hampshires moved through them to continue the advance, but were held up in the afternoon near Gulleghem.  The 4th Worcesters spent the night in a support position north of the village of Moorseele.  The next day saw the British armies advance to the outskirts of the major town of Courtrai, and the German armies fall back to the line of the river Lys.  The action was typical of the period, with the British armies incurring heavy casualties, but liberating occupied Belgium and pushing the exhausted German army to the point of collapse.  The fighting of 14 October cost the 4th Worcestershires 120 casualties: 2 officers killed, 3 wounded; 83 other ranks wounded and 11 killed: one of the dead was Private Thomas Bentley.[13]

Seven of Thomas Bentley’s colleagues from the 4th Bn., were also killed that day and are buried in the same row of graves, set against the boundary wall of the Ledeghem Military Cemetery.

Thomas’s outstanding pay of £10-6-9d was paid to his widow, ‘Francis A’ in two instalments of £3-8-11d on 4 March 1919, and £6-17-10d on 11 April 1919, and his War Gratuity of £7 on 15 December 1919.

Thomas was awarded the Victory and British medals – he is spelled incorrectly ‘Bently’ on his Medal Card – and he is remembered correctly as ‘Bentley T’ on the Rugby Memorial Gate.  He is also remembered on the Bewdley War Memorial, which is part of the external east wall of St. Anne’s Church, and also on the war memorial at the Bewdley Institute, where Thomas was a member.[14]

After Thomas’s death, and probably before 1920, his widow, Frances, moved to 71, St. John’s, Worcester, where she ran a sweet-shop.  She is listed there in 1924, 1928, and 1932, as a ‘Confectioner, Retail’.[15]  She died aged 44, in Worcester in 1933.  Thomas and Frances’s son, Thomas had moved by 1939 to Oldbury, Worcestershire, where he had become a hairdresser like his father.  He married Miriam F Potter in Horsham in Q4, 1941, and was still living there when he died aged 82 in 1997.[16]



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This article on Thomas BENTLEY was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, August 2018.

[1]      The ‘Mug House’ still exists, it provides food and accommodation and is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.  For a brief history see:

[2]      From research into Bewdley’s WWI casualties, undertaken by Simon Fielding – see also his posts at:

[3]      From the ‘potter Family Tree’, shared by ‘keithpotter70’ on 15 July 2016 on

[4]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[5]      UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 and information in answer to a query on the Great War Forum, see:

[6]      A fuller description of the Brigade’s time in Warwickshire, its parade near Dunchurch and review by the King and its campaign in Gallipoli is on line at


[8]      See:


[10]     UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Worcestershire Regiment, 29th Division, Piece 2309/2: 4 Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, (1916 Mar – 1919 Apr).

[11]     He was one of the officers wounded on 14 October the attack when Thomas Bentley was killed.

[12]     NYD : Not Yet Diagnosed.

[13], Dr. Fielding was preparing biographies of the Bewdley casualties.  His biography for Thomas Bentley was not found until this article was almost finished, but provided some useful additional details.

[14]     The Bewdley Institute memorial plaque lists eight members of the Institute who died in the Great War – see:

[15]     Kelly, Directory of Worcestershire, 1924, 1928, 1932.

[16]     Much information has been edited from a family tree, posted by ‘keithpotter70’ at


Chater, Arthur Edward Ernest. Died 8th Oct 1918

Arthur was born on October 27th 1898 and baptised at St. Matthews Church Rugby, on November 22nd 1903.

His parents were Charles Chater and Sarah Jane (nee Batchelor) who were married 18th June 1893, at St. Matthews.

By 1901 the family had moved from Victoria Street, Bilton to 45 Pennington Street, Rugby and around 1913 the family moved to 7 Plowman Street Rugby . Charles Chater worked at the Gas Works.

Arthur was the third of six children and in 1911 was at school age 12

Unfortunately, no Service Records have survived for Arthur. He served with the Machine Gun Corps (private no. 160209) His Medal Card shows he was awarded the Victory and British Medals

He was buried at Anneux British Cemetery, Nord , France Memorial reference 111 C31

The words “BELOVED IN LIFE” were added to his gravestone by his family.

Anneux, Havrincourt and Graincourt were captured by the 62nd (West Riding) Division on 20 and 21 November 1917. Anneux remained in Allied hands until the following 6 December. It was recaptured on 27 September 1918, by the 57th (West Lancashire) and 63rd (Royal Naval) Divisions, acting with the 52nd (Lowland) and the 1st and 4th Canadian Divisions. These six divisions, with the New Zealand Division (which carried on the advance in October 1918), are most largely represented in the cemetery. The original cemetery was made by the 57th Division Burial Officer and by various units in October 1918. At the Armistice it contained 131 graves but was then greatly increased when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and small cemeteries in the area.

Arthur’s death was 2 weeks before his 20th birthday. He was the second son of Charles and Sarah to be killed after Thomas in Iraq in January 1917.



Lines, Frederick John. Died 6th Oct 1918

Frederick John LINES was born in Rugby in 1897 and his birth was registered there in Q4, 1897He was the second son and third child of Henry Lines, b.c.1860, in Rugby, and Sarah, née Moreley, Lines, b.c.1857 in Draycott, Warwickshire.  They were married on 6 August 1877 in the parish church, Bishop Ryder, Birmingham.

In 1901, the family was living at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick was three year old and had two elder siblings: a sister, Edith aged 8; and a brother, William, aged 7.  Frederick’s father was a baker.  In the 1911 census, the family were still in the same five-roomed house at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick’s father was still a baker, and another baker was lodging at the house.  Frederick went to Murray School, and before the war, he was working for Mr C B Jones, a hairdresser in Murray Road, who also served in the war and was killed in action on 9 October 1917.[1]

Frederick joined up in Birmingham,[2] in August, 1916, and served as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery.  He was, at least latterly, Gunner, No. 159945, in the 124th Brigade H.Q.  This Brigade was in the 37th Division.

The 124th Brigade RFA was a War Raised Unit of the K4 formed in 1914/15.  It originally consisted of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Batteries, each with 4 x 18 Pounders.  It joined the 37th Division in April 1915 and went to France with the 37th at the end of July of that year.  Over the course of the war there were some major changes in the organization of artillery units within the Divisions, Corps and Armies.  On 4 August 1916, ‘A’ battery of the 126th [4.5 inch Howitzer] Bde. was transferred to become the ‘D’ howitzer battery of the 124th Bde.  Then on 31 August 1916, ‘C’ Battery of the 124th Bde. was broken up to give ‘A’ and ‘B’ batteries six guns each and a further 2-gun section from ‘C’ Battery of the 126th Bde. was transferred to bring ‘D’ Howitzer Battery of 124th Bde. up to 6 guns.  After 31 August 1916 the 124th Bde. consisted of three 6-gun batteries of 18-pounders (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’) and a battery of 4.5 in Howitzers (‘D’ battery).[3]

The 37th Division took little part in the fighting begun by the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’,[4] in March 1918, but did take part in the first counter-offensive, the April 1918 Battle of the Ancre, which included the world’s first tank versus tank combat at Villers-Bretonneux.  At this time the division was under the command of Third Army’s IV Corps, and remained part of this formation for the rest of the war.  The division took part in the Hundred Days Offensive, fighting in the Battle of Amiens, the 1918 Second Battle of the Somme, the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, and after Frederick’s death, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre.

On 6 October 1918, the War Diary of the 13th Fusiliers,[5] a component of the 37th Division related that the Battalion was at Banteux about 7 miles south-west of Cambrai, and advancing eastwards.  They would have been taking part in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, which was fought between 2 September and 12 October 1918.  The Divisional Artillery would have been following up and be some way behind the line of advance, but it seems likely that Frederick was wounded in or around the Gouzeaucourt area, south-west of Cambrai.

By using the 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery’s War Diary,[6] for the period before Frederick’s death, it is possible to speculate as to when he was wounded.

Whilst generally only monthly casualty figures are given, during September 1918, 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery lost three Officers wounded, and seven Other Ranks killed and 32 wounded.  Most of these were incurred when the infantry had entered Marcoing, some four miles south-west of Cambrai, on 28 September when,

… the enemy having evidently decided to withdraw and hold the line of the St. Quentin canal.  The 124th Bde. RFA moved up … but the enemy had already withdrawn out of range of the batteries. … the batteries moved forward again … From dusk onwards, the enemy artillery and bombing aeroplanes were extremely active, Battery and Wagon Lines were subjected to heavy fire.  ‘C’ Battery suffered heavily from bombing, losing one Officer … wounded, 3 Other Ranks killed and 23 wounded, and 50 horses killed and wounded.

By the end of the month, the infantry were attempting to cross the St. Quentin Canal.  During October 1918, the Brigade lost eight Officers wounded, and ten Other Ranks killed and 42 wounded.  On the night of 1-2 October and 3 October, the War Diary related,

‘Hostile fire continued to be heavy throughout the day and the night. … Enemy artillery continued very active on both Battery and Wagon Line areas.’

There are no entries between 3 and 8 October, suggesting a pause in activity, with presumably lesser casualties.

Frederick Lines was probably among those wounded in late September or early October.  The wounded would have been evacuated, first to an Aid Post or a Field Ambulance, and then to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), which would treat a man sufficiently for his return to duty or to enable him to be evacuated to a Base Hospital.

When considering when Frederick was wounded, one must consider that it would have taken some time to reach the CCS, so he was probably wounded a few, or several, days before he died.  He was most likely wounded either in the bombing on 28 September, or by the hostile artillery on night 1-2 to 3 October 1918.

Frederick died of his wounds, aged 20, probably at a CCS at Grevillers – or on his way there.  He was therefore buried in the nearby Grevillers British Cemetery, in Plot ref: XVI. C. 11.

Grevillers is a village in the Department of the Pas de Calais, 3 kilometres west of Bapaume.  The village of Grevillers was occupied by Commonwealth troops on 14 March 1917 and in April and May, the 3rd, 29th and 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations were posted nearby.  They began the cemetery and continued to use it until March 1918, when Grevillers was lost to the German during their great advance.  On the following 24 August, the New Zealand Division recaptured Grevillers and in September, the 34th, 49th and 56th [Known as South Midland CCS] Casualty Clearing Stations came to the village and used the cemetery again.  After the Armistice, 200 graves were brought in from the battlefields to the south of the village, … The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[7]

When a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, a personal family message was added which read ‘The Lord Gave & The Lord Taketh Away’.

Frederick’s death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser in November 1918.
 Gunner F J Lines, youngest son of Mrs Lines and the late Mr Lines, 17 Spring Street, died of wounds on October 6th.  He was an old Murrayian, 20 years of age, and before joining the army in August, 1916, was employed the late Mr C B Jones,[8] hairdresser, Murray Road, who has also been killed in action.[9]

Frederick John LINES is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and his Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.



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This article on Frederick John LINES was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.


[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[3]      The source is not entirely clear, but it is assumed that ‘D’ battery became the new ‘C’ battery and gained two more 18 pounders from another elsewhere.

[4]      See:

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), 37th Division, Piece 2538/3: 13 Battalion Royal Fusiliers (1918 Feb – 1919 Feb).

[6]      The National Archives, WO 95 – War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries, WO 95 – 37 Division, WO 95/2521 – Divisional Troops. Ref: WO 95/2521/4, 124 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 1915 July – 1919 Mar.  See also:

[7]      Extracted from:

[8]      C B Jones subsequently worked for BTH, see:

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

Webster, Arthur James. Died 29th Sep 1918

Arthur James WEBSTER’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1899 in Rugby.  His mother was Amy Webster, who was born in Grandborough in about 1874.

In 1901, Arthur, aged two, was living at 67 Abbey Street, Rugby, with his mother, Amy Jane Webster, and his grandparents – Thomas Webster who was a ‘general labourer’ and born in Drayton, Northamptonshire in about 1840, and his wife Eliza, née Woodward, who was born in Flecknoe in about 1839.

In 1911, Arthur was 12, and he was still living with his grandparents in their six room house at 67 Abbey Street, Rugby.  His grandfather, now 71, was a ‘grave digger cemetery’.  His grandparents had been married for 41 years and had had three children, all still living.

Arthur’s mother, Amy had married in Rugby in later 1906 with William John Wilcox, who was born in Sambrook, Shropshire in 1876, and who had been a lodger in the Webster house in 1901 when working as an ‘Engine Cleaner’.  In 1911, they were living almost next door to her parents at 71 Abbey Street and her husband had been promoted to be a ‘Railway Engine Stoker’.  There was now also a young half-sister for Arthur, Eveline Mary Wilcox, aged one year.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Arthur, and unless he joined up ‘under age’, he would not have been old enough to go overseas until some time in 1917, although he could have been under training in UK before then.  He joined up, and served, at least latterly, as a Rifleman, No: 47534 in the Rifle Brigade, although the CWGC notes that before he died, he had been posted to the 2nd/17th Battalion, the London Regiment.

The 2nd/17th (County of London) Battalion (Poplar and Stepney Rifles) was formed in London in August 1914.  By January 1915, it was in the 2nd/5th London Brigade in the 2nd/2nd London Division at Reigate.  This formation was later re-titled as the 180th Brigade in the 60th (2nd/2nd London) Division.  They moved to St Albans in March 1915, and then went on to Bishops Stortford in May 1915 and to Sutton Verny in January 1916.

On 23 June 1916 they landed at Le Havre, and in November 1916 they moved to Salonika.  On 2 July 1917 they withdrew to Egypt, arriving Alexandria on 5 July 1917.  On 27 May 1918 they left the Division and moved to France, arriving at Audruicq by 30 June 1918, and transferred to the 89th Brigade in the 30th Division.

The War Diary for the 2nd/ 17th London Regiment is included in the 89th Brigade papers in the 30th Division.[1]  A summary of their movements from July to September shows that … Having arrived at OUEST MONT, the Battalion was involved in training in July, but in the later part of the month occasional casualties were suffered when working within range of shellfire.  In August they moved to LE CARREAUX, and by the middle of the month were at BOESCHERE, and then at LOCRE at the end of the month.  At the start of September, the Battalion was in support, then in reserve at WORMLOW CAMPS, and then again in support.

3/9/18 –   ‘… took up a defensive line from DONEGAL FARM … Bivouac area shelled with H.E. & Gas during night.  Casualties 10 O.R. killed 1 O.R. wounded. …’

4/9/18  – ‘Battn engaged on salvage work & interior economy.’

5/9/18 –   ‘As for 4/9/18.  Further reinforcements sent to line in front of WULVERGHEM.  Preparations for attack on MESSINES RIDGE at dawn.’

It seems these were preparations for others as their Battalion withdrew to a bivouac area and were training and undertaking salvage work until …

8/9/18  – ‘… moved forward to take over line …’

9/9/18  – ‘3am – relief complete … fighting patrols out on each Coy front …’

There was continuing patrol activity until they were relieved …

14/9/18  –    ‘… Support position at LOCRE CHATEAU, … [and then] into Divisional Reserve at BOEDSCHEPE.’

From 16 to 24 September they were involved mainly in ‘Reorganisation and interior economy’ and ‘training & salvage work’.

25/9/18 – ‘Battn moved up to relief 2nd Sth Lancs,…’

26/9/18 – ‘Patrol activity during night.  Bn H.Q. shelled during evening.  Casualties NIL.’

27/9/18 – ‘Preparations for advance to be carried out on 28th inst.’

28/9/18   – 5.30am – ‘… Coys advanced under cover of artillery, T.M. & M.G. barrage against enemy strongpoints … inflicting severe losses upon the enemy capturing 13 Germans, 2 M.G. & much materal.’

– 6.30pm – ‘Under cover of further bombardment advance was continued towards MESSINES WYTSCHAETE RIDGE … Despite strong resistance … & the difficulties of the country … & the darkness of the night, the attackers advanced steadily finally gaining their objective … taking 1 prisoner & capturing 1 field gun, 2 M.G’s, 4 T.M. & great quantities of war material, before dawn.  Casualties: 7 O.R. killed, 2 Offs 41 O.R. wounded.’

29/9/18   – 8.30am – ‘Consolidation of objective.  2nd S Lancs passed through & advanced on YARES COMMINES CANAL.’

                  – 7.00pm – ‘Concentration of Battn about O27.  Casualties 6 OR killed, 5OR Wounded.’

In this advance against the Messines Ridge, over the two days 28 and 29 September, 13 ‘Other Ranks’ were killed.  Arthur’s death was recorded by the CWGC on 29 September 1918, during the ‘Consolidation of objective’.  He was 19 years old.  He was buried in the Dranoutre Military Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, in grave reference: III. A. 2.  There was no family message added to the gravestone.

Eight other men from the 2nd/17th (County of London) Battalion, or who had been transferred to the Battalion from the Rifle Brigade, were amongst those killed in the advance and were buried alongside Arthur.  They are buried in graves III. A. 3 to 9 and 15.

Dranoutre Military Cemetery is located 11.5 kilometres south of Ieper [Ypres] town centre, on a road leading from the Dikkebusseweg.  Dranoutre (now Dranouter) was occupied by the 1st Cavalry Division on 14 October 1914.  It was captured by the Germans on 25 April 1918, in spite of the stubborn resistance of the 154th French Division, and it was recaptured by the 30th Division on 30 August 1918.  Dranoutre Churchyard was used for Commonwealth burials from October 1914 to July 1915 when the military cemetery was begun.  It was used by fighting units and field ambulances until March 1918 (Plots I and II), many of the burials being carried out by the 72nd Brigade (24th Division) in April-June 1916.  Plot III [with Arthur and his colleagues] was added in September and October 1918.[2]

In November 1918, the Rugby Advertiser reported, ‘The following Rugby men have been posted as missing:- … A. J. Webster, London Regiment, …’.[3]

Arthur is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  His medal card shows that he was awarded the Victory and British medals.



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This article on Arthur James WEBSTER was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2018.

[1]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 30th Division, Piece 2336: 89 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919). [p.142-166 in].

[2]      From:

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

Newman, William Henry. Died 28th Sep 1918

‘A H Newman’ appears on the Rugby Memorial Gates, however, there does not appear to be any relevant casualty with Rugby connections with that surname and initials.

Two possible ‘H’ Newmans were mentioned in September 1914: an ‘H H Newman’ was in a list of men from the Locomotive Department of the L & N-W Railway at Rugby;[1] and an ‘H Newman’ joined up from the Cambridge Street Wesleyan Bible Class.[2]   The death of the wife of a 2nd Lt C J Newman of Henley Street, was reported in July 1918.[3]  There was a ‘J E Newman, 220th Fortress Co, R.E.’ who joined up in 1916,[4] also, a Drummer W Newman, of the ‘Rugby Infantry Co, younger son of Mr C Newman, of Benn Street, Rugby,’ and who was also mentioned in the ‘7th Battery Royal Warwickshire Regiment, brother to Mr C J Newman, architect, of Rugby’ or in the ‘‘C’ Company, 1st/7th Warwicks’ and who appeared in several press reports – albeit the regiment and relationships may have been confused – indeed was it he reported as ‘R.W.R, … and C E Newman’?  It seems that a ‘C J Newman’ may himself have served later.  George William Newman, of 7 Houston Road, Brownsover, Rugby, who was also born about 1895, served as a Driver No. 840763 in the Royal Field Artillery, was discharged unfit with a head wound in November 1917.  However, there is no evidence that any of these died in the war.

The most likely candidate would seem to be a ‘W H Newman’ for whom a casualty report appeared in 1918
and Private W. H. Newman, Royal Berks Regt, has died of wounds.[5]

The CWGC site names him as the ‘Son of Mr. and Mrs. Newman, of 37, Campbell St., New Bilton, Rugby.’

William Henry NEWMAN was probably born in early 1895 in Long Ditton, Surrey, as he was baptised there on 14 July 1895 at St Mary’s church.  He was the eldest son of William Henry Spencer Newman, who was born in about 1866 in East Coker, Somerset, and Emily Ann, née Spooner, Newman, who was born in Surbiton Hill, Surrey in about 1867.  When Ernest was baptised, his father was working as a ‘labourer’.  His parents had been married on 26 December 1891 at St. Mary’s church, Long Ditton, Surrey

Soon after his birth, sometime between 1896 and 1899, the family moved from Long Ditton to Rugby, and in 1901, when William H junior was five years old, the family were living at 7 Windsor Street, Rugby.  His father was a ‘labourer in foundry’.

In 1911, William junior’s parents had been married for 19 years and had had five children, all of whom were still living.  They lived in a six room house at 29 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby.  With his father working as an ‘iron moulder’, 15 year old William junior, was an ‘Iron Moulders Apprentice’, probably working with his father.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for William, but he joined up, and served, at least latterly, as a Private, No: 43077, in the 5th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, more usually known as the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment was formed as part of the First New Army (K1) in Reading on 25 August 1914 and joined the 35th Brigade of the 12th Division and then moved to Shorncliffe.  In January 1915 the Battalion moved to Folkestone and then, on 1 March 1915, to Malplaquet Barracks at Aldershot.  On 31 May 1915 they mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then engaged in various actions on the Western Front including:

1915: the Battle of Loos.

1916: the Battle of Albert; the Battle of Pozieres; and the Battle of Le Transloy.

1917: the First Battle of the Scarpe; the Battle of Arleux; the Third Battle of the Scarpe; and the Cambrai operations.

1918: on 6 February 1918, they transferred to the 36th Brigade,[6] but were still in the 12th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front in the Battle of Bapaume; the First Battle of Arras; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert; the Battle of Epehy; and then took part in the Final Advance in Artois.

There is no date when William went to France, but it would probably have been some time after he joined up as he would have had to be trained.  However, he would have been old enough to serve overseas from the start of the war and he probably could have gone to France with his Battalion.  However, he was not awarded the 1914-1915 Star, and this suggests he did not go to France until after 1915.

Whilst he may have been involved in some of the actions outlined above, it is only the actions in 1918 and around the time of his death that are detailed here.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, William would have continued to be involved in the routine of trench warfare, and the front was comparatively quiet prior to 21 March.

However, an attack by the Germans had been anticipated, and on 21 March 1918 they launched a major offensive, ‘Operation Michael;[7] against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army.  The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry.  The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war.  Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

The Battalion War Diary until January 1918 is filed under the 35th Brigade,[8] and then from February onwards it is filed under 36th Brigade.[9]   In late December 1917 the Battalion was training in the Merville area, and on 21 January 1918 relieved the 7th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment and then on 29 January they were relieved by the 7th Norfolks, and soon after transferred to the 36th Brigade.

Their activities in the period March to June 1918 were described in  the biography of Ernest COLSTON who was also in the 5th Battalion and killed on 20 June 1918.

A summary of the Battalion’s movements and actions during William’s last few months, based on the 5th Battalion War Diary, is given below.

From 1 September the Battalion had been ‘resting and refitting after CARNOY operations, in valley, W. of MARICOURT.’  Over the next two days they moved to trenches around ST-PIERRE VAST WOOD.  On 5 September, they moved on through a gas shelled area to MUNASTIR, ready ‘… to attack village of NURLU at 8-0am … orders miscarried and rations lost the Battalion …’.  On 5 September at 4-0am ‘Battalion moved over Canal at MOISLAINS … and attacked village at 8-0am under cover of Creeping Barrage.  The next day they held the line and the following morning were ‘… withdrawn to NURLU … Cookers were waiting as arranged, with breakfasts’.

From 7 to 17 September they were training and refitting for future operations.  The rest of the month is reported in detail in a three page typed report.  A major attack on EPEHY took place on 18 September with follow up action the next day.  After a day’s relief, they formed up for a midnight attack on 21 September – ‘ … by 2-0am all Objectives were captured.  One officer and 18 Other Ranks and about 30 M.G’s captured.’  They were relieved on 23 September and dispersed in reserve.  An enemy attack and entry to DADOS LANE and LOOP the next day led to unsuccessful attempts to repulse them over the next four days.

27 September   – ‘Battalion held line on Left of Brigade Sector.’

28 September   – ‘5.20am – 6th Queens attacked DADOS LOOP and LANE without success.
                         – ‘10.0pm – 6th Queens withdrawn and Battalion took over line …’.

After further fighting on 29 September, attacking ‘… across the Tunnel of the Canal …’, on 30 September, ‘It was found that enemy had withdrawn from area W of canal … Brigade pushed on.’

The casualties sustained during these operations from 18 to 30 September 1918 totalled, one Officer killed and five wounded, and 250 Other Ranks, Killed, Wounded & Missing.

W H Newman’s death is recorded by the CWGC on 28 September 1918, and he would have been one of those 250 men killed or wounded in the operations near Epehy between 18 and 30 September 1918.  He was 23.  Whilst the Battalion was in action near Epehy, several members of the 5th Battalion were buried in the nearby Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery.  William was buried some five miles behind the lines to the south-west, which could suggest that he was wounded and was evacuated to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations that had been established that month at Doingt, and died, or was registered dead, there.

He was buried in the nearby Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension, in grave reference: I. E. 42.  Later when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, ‘Gone but not Forgotten by his Loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters’.

Doingt is a small village on the eastern outskirts of Peronne.  Doingt was captured by the 5th Australian Division on 5 September 1918, and the village was completely destroyed in the fighting.  In the same month, the 20th, 41st and 55th Casualty Clearing Stations arrived, remaining until October, when the cemetery was closed.  It was made in three plots; Plot I contained only Commonwealth graves, Plot II only American, and Plot III the graves of both armies.  The American graves were later removed by the American Graves Registration Services.  Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension contains 417 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

William’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

William’s parents were later registered by the CWGC as living at 37, Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby, having either moved or been re-numbered.  William’s mother, Emily Ann, died in Rugby, aged 63 in 1928; his father, William H Newman senior, died there, aged 86 in late 1951.



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This article on ‘A. H.’, or more likely, William Henry NEWMAN was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June  2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914, also,

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 19 September 1914, also,

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 20 July 1918.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, 25 September 1915, also

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

[6]      This does mean the Battalion War Diary has to be found in two separate files under the two Brigades.

[7]      See:

[8]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 12th Division, TNA ref: Piece 1850: 35 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[9]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 12th Division, TNA ref: Piece 1856: 36 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

Ward, Alfred Charles. Died 27th Sep 1918

Alfred Charles WARD was born in Rugby and christened on 11 March 1900 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby.  He was the fourth of six sons – there were also two daughters – of Charles Ward, who was born in Storrington, Buckinghamshire, in about 1863 – his father was a ‘labourer’, – and Rose Ellen, née Jackson, Ward, who was born in Stanford Baron, Northamptonshire, in about 1867 – her father was a ‘carpenter’.  They had married on 20 September 1886, at St. Martin, Stamford Baron, when Charles was working as a ‘railway fireman’.

The family moved several times, as Charles had pursued his railway career: their first three children were born in Stanford Baron; then from 1897 to 1900 they were in Rugby where before early 1900, Charles had been promoted to be a ‘engine driver’. In 1902 a child was born in Swinton, Yorkshire; and between 1906 and 1910 their children were born in Netherfield, Nottinghamshire.  By 1911 they were back in Rugby.

In 1900, the family were living at 13 Oxford Street, Rugby, and then by 1901 the family had moved to the New Building, Queen Street, Rugby, and Alfred’s father was a ‘railway engine driver; there were now five children between 14 and one.

By 1911, Alfred was 11 and a ‘schoolboy’ and the family had moved back to live in Rugby again, in a six room house at 121 Grosvenor Road.  Alfred’s father was a ‘Locomotive Engine Driver’ for the London & North Western Railway.  By 1911 Alfred’s parents had been married 24 years, they had had nine children, one of whom had died; six were still living at home and their ages ranged from 18 to one year old.

With only the minimum details on his Medal Card and no surviving Service Record, it is difficult to reconstruct Alfred’s service history.  At some date he enlisted as a Private, No.41088, in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R.).  When he died in 1918, he was with ‘C’ Company in the 15th Battalion, R. War. R..

His five figure service number is likely to have been issued earlier in the war, but he would not have been 18 and eligible for overseas service until 1917.  He did not win the 1914-1915 Star which again indicates that he did not go to France until after late 1915.

The 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham) Royal Warwickshire Regiment had been formed in Birmingham by the Lord Mayor and a local Committee in September 1914.  The Battalion moved to Sutton Coalfield and then in June 1915 to Wensleydale to join the 95th Brigade of the 32nd Division and later moved to Salisbury Plain.

The 15th Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 14 January 1916 transferred to the 13th Brigade in the 5th Division.  In March 1916, and probably still well before Alfred joined up, the Division took over a section of front line near Arras, between St Laurent Blangy and the southern edge of Vimy Ridge.  When the Somme offensive opened on 1 July 1916, the 5th Division was enjoying a period of rest and re-fit and was in GHQ Reserve.  However, this restful time was not destined to last and later in July 1916 they moved some 50 miles south to reinforce the Somme.

In early April 1917 the Battalion moved to Arras for the various phases of the Battles of Arras, starting with the attack on Vimy Ridge from 9-12 April 1917; and then the three Battles of the Scarpe, 9-14 April; 23-24 April 1917; and 3-4 May 1917; and the subsidiary attack on La Coulotte on 23 April 1917, and then, on 8 May 1917, the 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was ordered to attack the German-held village of Fresnoy [Fresnoy-en-Gohelle], about 8 miles north-east of Arras and west of Vimy.

The Battalion also took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917; the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October); the Battle of Poelcappelle (9 October 1917); and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (July to November 1917).

In late November to early December 1917, the Battalion moved from France to Italy to strengthen the Italian Resistance.

Some four months later, by which date it is likely that Alfred was with the Battalion, they returned to France by train in early April 1918.

The Battalion War Diary[1] refers to the attack on Merville on 12 April and subsequent heavy shelling, it also notes that in May the Battalion was alternating between ‘the Front’ and periods ‘In Reserve’.  These were quieter times until the end of the month when a larger raid was carried out on the night 28/29 May, when two Machine Gun posts were attacked, the garrisons killed, the machine guns put out of action, and some prisoners taken.  The raid took only 20 minutes – with ‘eight slight casualties’.

After the German Offensive had been halted and the situation stabilised, preparations were made for what became the ‘100 Days Offensive’.  The 15th R.War.R. were involved with the Battle of Albert (21–23 August 1918); the Battle of Bapaume (21 August 1918 to 3 September 1918); the Battle of Drocourt-Queant (2-3 September 1918); the Battle of the Epehy (18 September 1918) and the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September – 1 October 1918).

The Battalion War Diary[2] relates the actions in the days leading up to this latter battle.

At the start of September 1918 the Battalion was in Reserve some 8 miles south-west of CAMBRAI.  The Battalion stayed in place [SW corner H.14.C. – Map 57c N.W. 1:20,000] when the 13th Infantry Brigade was relieved by the 63rd Inf. Brigade on 4 September.  They moved to the Quarry, where they rested and cleaned up, and then had various training until 12 September when the 13th Brigade was to relieve a support Brigade of the New Zealand Division in YTRES.  On 14 September, the 15th RWR were to relieve the 1st New Zealand Wellington Battalion at midnight.  So far that month they had had no casualties.

However, after readjusting in the Front Line, on 15 September they were in the front line in an area about a mile or so north-west of Gouzeaucourt, and had four men wounded, three by gas.  Various patrols went out on 16 – 20 September, with some men wounded, and on 20 September the Battalion was relieved and went to HAPLINCOURT, where they were ‘in huts’ on 21 September and there was a ‘voluntary church service’ on the Sunday.  There were then a few days of training, practice attacks and firing on ranges, before relieving the 1st Devon Regiment in the front line on 25 September with an hour’s halt for tea at the BRICKYARD, YTRES.  They took over the area Q 16, 17, 22, 23 [see Map 57c S.E. – see part map below]

There was however an attack planned for 26 and 27 September 1918.

26 September – 13th Infantry Brigade will take and capture RED OBJECTIVE.  Battalion H.Q. at DEAD MAN’S CORNER. …

27 September – The attack is carried out on a three Coy. Front … 5.30am Zero hour … 15th R. War. R. attack at zero plus 152.   Battalion attack & gain objective, but is obliged to retire. 

Casualties: Officers: Killed 3 (inc. MO), Wounded 5, one Wounded since died.  Other Ranks: Killed, 36. Wounded, 90. Missing, 29.  2 Wounded at duty.    

The next day patrols resumed, and the enemy was withdrawing.  There was an ‘Officer Patrol’ to GOUZEAUCOURT, which is on the plan, just to the south of where Alfred was first buried.  As others advanced through their positions, the 15th Battalion remained in place as a reserve – some of the men received ‘wounds by gas’ after being shelled, apparently by their own HQ.

Alfred died, aged only 19, on Friday, 27 September 1918, and was one of the 36 men killed that day.  He was originally buried at map reference: 57.c.Q.30.b.7.6., with at least five other members of the 15th Battalion, one of whom also died on 27 September and four who died on 29 September 1918.  This location appears to be in or adjacent to ‘Pope Trench’ which had been an enemy trench before the attacks, and confirmed that the Battalion had made good progress in their advance, before being forced to retire.

After the war, these six graves were ‘concentrated’ – soldiers who were originally buried in smaller or isolated cemeteries, were, at a later date, exhumed and reburied in larger war cemeteries.  The ‘concentration’ of cemeteries allowed otherwise unmaintainable graves to be moved into established war grave cemeteries where the Commission could ensure proper commemoration.

Alfred and his fellow soldiers were reburied in the Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery.  Alfred was reburied in Grave Reference: VIII. B. 16.  His family had requested the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name’, to be added to his gravestone.

Gouzeaucourt is a large village 15 kilometres south west of Cambrai and 15 kilometres north-east of Peronne.  Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery is opposite the civil cemetery.  Gouzeaucourt village was captured by the 8th Division on the night of 12-13 April 1917.  It was lost on 30 November 1917 in the German counterattack at the end of the Battle of Cambrai, and recaptured the same day by the 1st Irish Guards.  It was lost again on 22 March 1918, attacked by the 38th (Welsh) Division on the following 18 September, and finally retaken by the 21st Division on 8 October.  The cemetery was begun in November 1917, taken over by the Germans in 1918, and used again by Commonwealth forces in September and October 1918, but the original burials (now in Plot III) are only 55 in number.  It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other cemeteries and from the battlefield of Cambrai.

Alfred was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and he is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate, and on a family grave, No: M118 in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

His family continued to live at 121 Grosvenor Road, Rugby after the war.  Alfred had three brothers who also served during the First World War.



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This article on Alfred Charles WARD was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2018.

[1]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 5th Division, The National Archives Ref: Piece 1557: 13 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[2]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 5th Division, The National Archives, Ref: Piece 1557: 13 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

Tilley, Horace Alfred. Died 27th Sep 1918

Horace Alfred TILLEY was born in Beckenham in 1898.  He was the elder son and second child of Alfred ?Horatio Tilley, b.c.1870, in Greenwich, and Mary, née Rickards, Tilley, also born in Greenwich in about 1876.  Their marriage was registered in Lewisham in Q4, 1895.  Horace’s birth was registered in Q2, 1898, in Bromley, Kent.

The family had moved to Beckenham, Kent, where their four eldest children were born and then to Weybridge, Surrey, where three younger children were born.

In 1901, the family was sharing a house at 28 Cherry Lane, Beckenham.  Alfred was a domestic gardener.

Before 1911, the family had moved near to Rugby.  In 1911, Alfred, was a ‘head gardener’ and he and Mary had been married 15 years – and all six of their children were still living.  The family were living in Newton Road, Clifton upon Dunsmore, near Rugby.  Horace was 13, so he would be only 16 when war broke out and whenever he ‘joined-up’, it would another two years before he was old enough to serve abroad.

Before the war, Horace worked in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.

In November 1915, Horace was mentioned as a ‘Single Man’, who had signed up under Lord Derby’s Scheme.

The Recruiting Position.  Clear Definition by Lord Derby.  Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme.  Local Enlistments under the Group System.  … The following have enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group System. … Tilley, Horace, Church Street, Clifton.’[1]

The CWGC site gives the Service Number: 212890 for an H. Tilley who was killed on 27 September 1918.  However, the Medal Card relating to this number is for a ‘George H. Tilley’ of the Royal Field Artillery.  There are no death records from the RFA relating to a George Tilley, and it must be assumed that this was a clerical error.

He was, at least latterly, in the “D” Battery, 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 212890, Royal Field Artillery.

The four – L to LIII (Howitzer) Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery (9th Divisional Artillery) – were formed as part of the raising of the First New Army, K1.  They are also sometimes shown as 50 to 53 (Howitzer) Brigades RFA.

LII [or 52nd Brigade] was originally comprised of numbers 166, 167 and 168 Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column.  It was placed under command of the 9th (Scottish) Division and went to France with it in May 1915.  In February 1915 the three six-gun batteries were reorganised to become four four-gun batteries and were titled as A, B, C and D.

On 21 February 1916 D Battery left to join 53 Brigade of the same Division, … The Brigade left 9th (Scottish) Division on 8 January 1917 to become an Army Field Artillery Brigade.

Various other re-organisations occurred, and it has not been possible to find all the areas where this Artillery Brigade was in action in late September 1918 – although a War Diary for a transport section is available from the TNA.[2]

Thus the details of Horace’s death are unknown.  He was buried in Plot ref: II. C. 16 in the Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-Les-Cagnicourt.  There was no age or personal family message on the gravestone.

Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt is 16 kilometres south-east of Arras … The Cemetery is 2.5 kilometres north-east of Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, in fields reached by a track signposted off the road between Hendecourt and the Arras to Cambrai road.  Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt was captured by the 57th (West Lancashire) and 52nd (Lowland) Division on the night of the 1-2 September 1918. Dominion Cemetery was made by Canadian units in September 1918, after the storming by the Canadian Corps of the Drocourt-Queant Line; … There are now over 200, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site.

Driver A Hodgeson from the same company, who was originally listed as killed on the same day, was later recorded as killed in action two days earlier on 25 September, and was buried next to Horace Tilley.

His death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser and also in the Birmingham Daily Post.

TILLEY – Killed-in-action in France on September 27th, 1918, Gunner HORACE A. TILLEY, R.F.A., aged 20, elder son of Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, Rugby.[3]

Gunner Horace Tilley, Royal Artillery, son of Mr. A. H. Tilley, 46, Railway Terrace, Rugby, was formerly employed in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.[4]

Horace Tilley is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; although for some reason he does not appear on the BTH War Memorial.[5]  He is also listed on the memorial at St Mary the Virgin Church, Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, where a commemorative window has a plaque which reads

‘To the Glory of God and in honoured memory of Clifton Men who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918 … This window was given by the Parishioners.’

His Medal Card [under the incorrect name George] showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 



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This article on Horace TILLEY was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, May 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.

[2]      Army Troops, 52 Army Field Artillery Brigade, 1917 Jan – 1919 Jan, Catalogue reference: WO 95/203/4.  With thanks for location information provided by:

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 12 October 1918.

[4]      Birmingham Daily Post, Monday, 14 October 1918.

[5]      This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at