Lester, Arthur. Died 17th Aug 1918

Arthur Lester was born in 1878 at Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire to George Henry Lester, born about 1845 at Uppingham, Northamptonshire, a farm labourer and Eliza Lester, née Turland (b1853 – 97). The 1911 census returns show that Arthur was living in Bugbrooke with his father and was single. His father had re-married in 1904 to Georgiana Jane Lester, née Chapman. (b 1845).

In 1915 Arthur Lester married Maude Elizabeth Adcock (b 1892, Stoke Golding, Leicestershire) at Nuneaton. They moved to Rugby where in 1917 they were blessed with a daughter, Edith M.

During WW1 he enlisted in the Royal Engineers, 263rd Railway Coy, service number WR/318002. In February 1918 he was sent to France. On 17 August 1918, with the rank of Lance Corporal, he was killed in action and buried in the Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, where his grave is maintained by the CWGC. Ribemont was on the railway line from Amiens to Albert, and Mericourt-Ribemont Station had been a railhead for the Commonwealth forces from the early summer of 1915.

In the editorial section of the Rugby Advertiser of 5th October 1918, under the heading ‘Local War Notes’, there appears the following:-
“Lance Corpl A Lester, Royal Engineers, 92 South Street, Rugby, killed in action on August 17th. For upwards of 18 years he was employed as a platelayer in Rugby. He had served in France since February last.”

His wife also placed the following notice of his death in the same edition:-
LESTER. — In loving memory of Lance Corpl ARTHUR (DICK), dearly beloved husband of Mrs. Lester, 92 South Street, killed in France on August 17, 1918.
God takes our loved ones from our home,
But never from our heart.
From his sorrowing wife and little daughter.”




Watson, Percy Frederick. Died 12th Aug 1918

Percy Frederick Watson was baptised at St Andrew’s, Rugby, on 14 January 1900. His birth address was 9 Charlotte Street, Rugby. His parents were Frederick Watson (b 1870 in Rugby), a Post Office overseer, and Eleanor Jane Watson, née Elkins (b 1873 in Rugby). Percy was educated at the Lower School and was then employed as a clerk by Messrs. Styles & Whitlock, auctioneers, Bank Street, Rugby.

He joined the RAF in October 1917 where he was given flying training as a Flight Cadet. On 12th August 1918, whilst on a practice night flight near the North-East Coast with 2nd Lieut Francis W P Reynolds of Merton Park, Surrey, his aircraft failed at a height of 500 feet and fell to the ground. Due to the severity of his injuries, Percy lived for only 15 minutes.

It was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 17th Aug 1918 (the same edition that recorded the death of Flight Cadet Gibbs in a similar accident):


 While flying on the North-East Coast late on Monday night Cadet Percy Fredk Watson (18), son of Mr F Watson, Post Office overseer, Ormdale, Murray Road and Lieut Reynolds, Merton Park, Surrey, met with an accident, and received injuries which shortly afterwards proved fatal. Cadet Watson was educated at the Lower School, and until he joined the R.A.F in October last he was employed as a clerk by Messrs Styles & Whitlock. He was a bright lad with a genial disposition, and he was very popular with all with whom he came in contact. A fortnight before the accident he visited his home on leave.

 At the inquest on Wednesday it was stated that the two men were engaged in a practice flight at night. Half-an-hour after they ascended the aeroplane was seen to tale a sharp vertical turn at a height of 500ft, and was nest observed in flames on the ground. Both men were shockingly injured, and Watson only lived a quarter-of-an-hour, and his companion five hours.—Verdict : “ Accidental death.”

He was buried in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby in a grave which is the responsibility of the CWGC. He is also remembered on the Lawrence Sheriff Memorial Plaque

At the time of his death, Percy’s parents were living at 111, Murray Road, Rugby.




Lewis, Lewis. Died 8th Aug 1918

Lewis Lewis was born in Rugby in 1899, and his birth was registered in Q3 1899.  He was the third son and fourth child of Frederick Lewis, who was born in about 1868 in Leamington, Warwickshire, and his wife Maggie, née Clarke, Lewis, who was born in about 1870, in Walsall, Staffordshire.    

Lewis Lewis was baptised on 26 November 1899 at St. Matthew’s Church, Rugby.  His father was a Police Constable and the family were then living at 14 Plowman Street, Rugby.

In both 1901 and 1911, the family were still living at 14 Plowman Street, and Lewis’s father, Frederick, was still a Police Constable.  By 1911, Lewis was eleven years old, and there were now seven children in the family.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Lewis, but he joined up in Rugby,[1] and his Medal Card shows that he served initially as a Private, No:376041, in the 8th Battalion of the London Regiment, and then as a Private, No:368091, in the 7th (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment.

The 7th Battalion was a conjunction in early 1918 of the 1/7th and 2/7th Battalions of the London Regiment.  After early training the 1/7th had joined the 4th London Brigade in the 2nd London Division.  After the 2nd London Division was brought up to strength, it entrained for Southampton, disembarking at Le Havre on 18 March 1915.  The Battalion fought in many of the major actions of WWI, well before Lewis would have been involved.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Lewis went to France, indicating that this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably have been well after this date and some time after he joined up.  He was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until at least mid 1917.

During 1918, by which date Lewis was probably with the Battalion in France, they fought at Villers Bretonneux (24 to 25 April 1918).  This was during the period of consolidation after the turning point of the German advance of ‘Operation Michael’.  August saw the start of what developed into an Allied offensive and advance, which became known as the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[2] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

The combined 7th Battalion seems to have moved from the 2nd Division and its War Diary is within the records of the 174th Brigade in the 58th Division at The National Archives[3] – and on-line.  The events recorded in the Diary for August and for the last few days before Lewis was killed are summarised below.

1 August – ROUND WOOD – Kit & clothing inspection.

2 August – Move by bus to HALLOY-LES-PERNOIS.  Battn. in billets 2.30pm.

3 August – HALLOY – Squad and Company drill, Lewis gun, signalling and stretcher team class.

4 August – Battn. standing by, 1½ hours notice to move – moved by bus and march route to BONNAY – in position 4.30am, 5-8-18.

5 August – BONNAY – Proceeded to relieve the 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, 18th Division in reserve.

6 August – In Line – In reserve.

7 – 10 August – see Narrative attached.

11 August – BRAY-CORBIE ROAD – Battalion in reserve near CEMETERY COPSE.

12 August – Battalion moved back to ROUND WOOD.

The ‘Narrative’ for the period 7-10 August comprised four typed pages detailing the action and the advance of nearly two miles in two days.  Extracts (below) provide details of the action on 8 August when Lewis was killed, and some of the locations given are shown on the map[4] below.

‘At 10.20 p.m. on the 7th. The Bn. moved forward from Valley in J.22.c. … along COOTAMUNDRA street and CRUMP lane to their assembly position in K.25.a. … Bn. H.Q. was at LONE TREE CEMETERY J.24.6.2. … There was little counter preparation by the enemy … Shortly before 4 a.m. on the 8th. A heavy mist fell and by zero hour (4.20 a.m.) it was impossible to see more than 20 to 25 yards.

The ultimate objective of the Bn, was the line K.27.d.9.4. – K27.b.9.7.  ‘A’ and ‘B’ Coys, passing round to the N side of MALARD Wood supported by ‘C’ Coy, and ‘D’ Coy, containing the N.W. side of the Wood … 173rd Inf. Bde. were to pass through one hour later and take a further line beyond of the SOMME RIVER. …

The barrage opened punctually at 4.20 a.m. and was very good, … owing to the mist it was impossible to observe the progress of the operation but batches of wounded and prisoners soon began to arrive and … progress was satisfactory, at any rate as far as MALARD Wood.

I found two Coy. of the 2/2nd London Regt … arranged … to … advance through MALARD Wood.  I got them the assistance of a Tank … and they advanced to the East side of the wood.’

It was at some time during this advance that Lewis Lewis was ‘Killed in Action’.

‘On the afternoon of the 9th. the troops of the 8th London Regt. with me were withdrawn as further operations were contemplated. … I had no precise instructions as to the operation but I understood the American Troops were to attack GRESSAIRE WOOD from my left flank at 5.30 p.m. … At 6.30 p.m., I and my Adjt. with H.Q. Lewis Guns moved forward and from K.27.b.9.6. I was able to observe British and American troops establishing posts on the ridge S.E. but fighting still appeared to be going on to my right in the lower ground and also in GRESSAIRE Wood.

On the night of the 10th … the Bn. Was relieved by American Troops and moved back to MALARD WOOD.’

Various general points and recommendations were made in the report, which are of interest.

(a) In both assaults numerous T.M.s, Heavy and light machine guns were captured and many prisoners.  In each case the severest fighting and the most prisoners were in the enemy’s front line. In the second assault 4 field guns and 3 5.9 howitzers were captured the latter in GRESSAIRE WOOD, … A wagon of signaling stores was also captured … The heavy mist undoubtedly helped in assaulting the enemy forward defense on the 8th. inst, that was largely responsible for the failure of the second phase.

(b) Communication was lacking to start with … By 4 p.m. the line was run out … and was maintained throughout.  Two lines were laid into the ravine …  but it was found impossible to maintain them owing to shell fire.  The wire for these lines was collected by my signalers on the ground as their own supply was inadequate.

(c) Medical Arrangements.  On the 9th. inst. the supply of stretchers was wholly inadequate and supplies demanded were very slow in arriving.  Many wounded lying out in front at no great distance from the R.A.P. [Regimental Aid Post] could have been collected much earlier, were it possible to supply R.A.M.C. Bearers on this work.  At present M.O.s are forbidden to use them forward of the R.A.P, even when things are quiet.

(d) H.Q. Lewis Guns proved extremely useful in furnishing an intact and fresh reserve to be brought forward after the objective had been taken.  I recommend that each Bn. be supplied with a light German machine gun for instructional purposes as a knowledge of their use would be very useful to assaulting troops.

(e) Supply Tanks fulfilled their role well.  I recommend that a Q.M.Sgt. travel with them to remain in charge of the dump when formed, and to ensure the supplies reaching the troops for whom they are intended.  The Bn. received some S.A.A. [Small Arms Ammunition] from ‘plane.

(f) Casualties were unfortunately heavy on both days amounting to 12 officers and about 300 other Ranks.’

Lewis Lewis was only one of that great number (300 ‘O.R.s’) killed or injured during the two days of this advance.  He was among those ‘Killed in Action’ on 8 August 1918 and was 18 years old.

Lewis Lewis was originally buried, together with another soldier, W.C. Newton, also from the London Regiment, in a single grave, with their two names on the cross, in a small cemetery nearer to where they fell.  The ‘Concentration Record’[5] showed that they were both named on a single cross on a joint grave located at map reference: ‘62d.NE.K.25.b.1.4.’  This is just south of the trench, which was the route to the concentration point for the attack by the 7th Bn. London Regiment on 8 August 1918.  It is about a mile north of the village of Sailly-Laurette – in Map Square 25 and is shown on the map above.

The list of smaller cemeteries and burial grounds that were concentrated to Heath Cemetery, Harbonniers after the war, included the …

‘… Sailly-Laurette Military Cemetery, 800 metres due North of Sailly-Laurette village – in Map Square 31.  Here were buried 38 soldiers from the United Kingdom mainly of the 58th (London) Division and two from Australia, who fell in August 1918’. 

However, the map reference given in the ‘Concentration Report’ would seem to refer to a location another 1000 yards or so north of this cemetery location, so it seems that it was a smaller cemetery which is not listed in the CWGC list.

When smaller burial grounds and battlefield graves were later ‘concentrated’ – bodies were exhumed, moved and reburied in larger cemeteries, which could be better maintained.  The two soldiers from the London Regiment were both reburied in separate graves – Lewis Lewis was reburied in grave reference: VIII. G. 17.,[6] – and W. C. Newton in grave ref: 8. J. 11., at the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, Somme [Map ref: ‘62d.SE.Q.29.d.5.4.’], some 5 miles south-east of  Sailly-Laurette.

Heath Cemetery is situated on the south side of road from Amiens to St Quentin.  Harbonnieres was … regained by the Australian Corps on 8 August 1918.  Heath Cemetery, so called from the wide expanse of open country on which it stands, was made after the Armistice.  Graves were brought into it from the battlefields between Bray and Harbonnieres and from many other burial grounds in the area.[7] … the list includes: ‘… Sailly-Laurette Military Cemetery, 800 metres due north of Sailly-Laurette village.  Here were buried 38 soldiers from the United Kingdom mainly of the 58th (London) Division and two from Australia, who fell in August 1918, …’.

His family had the inscription ‘All that he Hoped for, All he had he Gave’, added to his gravestone.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on 9 October 1918,
THE ROLL OF HONOUR. Coventry and District Casualties. To-day’s list of casualties includes the following : Killed.  London Regiment. – Lewis, 368091, L., Rugby; .[8]

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

The Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects shows that Lewis’s outstanding pay of £6-16-11d, was paid to his father on 20 November 1918, and his War Gratuity of £3 on 28 November 1919.

The address for his parents given on the CWGC site suggests that by the early 1920s, Frederick and Maggie Lewis had moved to 35, King Edward Road, Rugby.



– – – – – –


This article on Lewis Lewis 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, May 2018.

[1]      Info from: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[2]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Bapaume.

[3]      The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, London Regiment, 58th Division, Piece 3005/6, 1/7 Battalion London Regiment (1918 Feb – Nov).  See also on www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[4]      Adapted from https://maps.nls.uk/view/101465314.

[5]      Smaller burial grounds and battlefield graves were later ‘concentrated’ – the bodies were  exhumed, moved and reburied in larger cemeteries, which could be better maintained.

[6]      One of the Concentration Record Sheets states grave 18 not 17.

[7]      See list at https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/62000/heath-cemetery,-harbonnieres/.

[8]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 9 October 1918.

Gibbs, David. Died 8th Aug 1918

David Gibbs was born in Sparkbrook, Birmingham in 1898. He was the youngest of 8 children born to Albert Pettman Gibbs (b 1856 in Woolwich, Kent), a pastrycook employed by the LNWR, and Emma Gibbs, née Malone (b 1856 in the City of London). David was educated at Newbold School and the Lower School, Rugby.

David was employed at the United Counties Bank in Coventry when he decided to enlist in the 5th Buffs in 1916. About December 1917 he was transferred as a cadet with service number 242005, to the 38th Squadron of the Royal Air Force where he received instruction as a pilot. Whilst completing a solo flight on 5th August 1918 in Yorkshire he crash landed and died of his injuries on 8th August.

The accident was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 17th August 1918:


 While flying from a Yorkshire aerodrome on August Bank Holiday, Flight Cadet David Gibbs, youngest son of Mr & Mrs A B Gibbs, of 14 Kimberley Road, Rugby, lost his bearings, and attempted to land at Whitley Bridge. An eye-witness states that Cadet Gibbs, who was a competent pilot, planed down from a considerable height, but when near the ground he apparently decided to change his landing place, and the attempt to alter the direction caused the machine to nose dive and crash to earth. The unfortunate young man received terrible injuries, from which he died on Thursday last week without recovering consciousness.

 At the inquest at Doncaster on Friday a verdict of “Accidental death” was returned.

 Cadet Gibbs, who was only 20 years of age, was educated at Newbold School, and the Lower School, Rugby. When he enlisted as a private in the 5th Buffs a little over two years ago he was employed in the United Counties Bank at Coventry. About eight months ago he was transferred as a cadet to the Royal Air Force, and he had practically finished his course of instruction when the accident happened, and his parents were looking forward to welcoming him home this week. He was a talented violinist, and he frequently played at concerts given in the town.

He was buried in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby, in a grave which is the responsibility of the CWGC. He is also remembered on the Lawrence Sheriff School Memorial Plaque.

He was survived by his parents, who were then residing at 14 Kimberley Road, Rugby, and six of his siblings.



Martin, John Joseph. Died 25th Jun 1918

John Joseph MARTIN’s birth was registered in Q3, 1890 in RugbyHe was the son of John Joseph Martin, who was born in about 1851 in Ireland, and Ellen, née Oldham, Martin, who was born in Long Lawford, in about 1860.  Their marriage was registered in Q4, 1888, in Rugby.

In 1891, the family was living at 18 Chapel Street, Rugby.  John’s father was a ‘groom, domestic servant’.  There were two children at that date – John, who was ‘10 months’ old, and had an elder brother George who was ‘23 months’ old.  The apparent reason for this ‘precision’ can be found in the biography of their younger brother, Lawrence Alfred Martin, who died on 12 September 1916.

It seems they returned to Ireland between about 1896 and 1899, as three of the children were born there in that period, however, by 1901, the family had moved back to Rugby to live at 39 School Street, Hillmorton.  John’s father was a ‘groom at a livery stable’.

By 1911, John, the eldest son, was 20, and already ‘In the army’ – his name had been crossed out by the enumerator as he wasn’t with the family that night!  He was enumerated at the Aliwal Military Barracks, South Tidworth, Hampshire, and was in the 18th Queen Mary’s Own (QMO) Hussars.

Meanwhile in 1911, the rest of the family were now living at 12, Jubilee Street, New Bilton, Rugby.  Also at home that night were John’s younger siblings: Lawrence Martin, 16, who was working in the lamp department at BTH, but who would later join up; Mary Ellen Martin, 14, a tailoress; and Christina A Martin, 12; and Wilfred E V Martin, 8, who were both still at school.  Their father, now 60, was a ‘Groom’, and he and his wife had been married for 23 years and had had seven children of whom five were still living.  They would live in Rugby for the rest of their lives.  John’s father died there aged 78, in about mid 1932; and his mother died there, aged 79, in about early 1939.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for John, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, prior to 1911, and he served as either No: 5275, (on later CWGC records), or more probably as No: 5276 (as recorded on most earlier CWGC records; soldiers who died in the War; and his Medal Card) in the 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars in the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line.  At some date he was promoted Sergeant.

The Regiment was based at Potchefstroom in South Africa at the start of the war, so John may have gone out to serve with them after being enumerated at Tidworth in 1911.  They returned to the UK and joined up with the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division at Ludgershall, then on 8 October 1914 landed at Ostende as part of the British Expeditionary Force for service on the Western Front.  Soon afterwards, on 20 November 1914, in Belgium, they transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade in same Division, in order to bring that Brigade up to strength.

John’s Medal Card states that he went to France, on 6 October 1914, which fits with him serving in the 10th Hussars and going to France with them in 1914 – and he thus became eligible for the 1914 Star – and he would have then been involved in the various actions of the 8th Cavalry Brigade.

The 8th Cavalry Brigade served with the 3rd Cavalry Division on the Western Front until March 1918.  It joined the division too late to take part in any of the 1914 actions, but in 1915 the Division saw action in the Second Battle of Ypres (Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 11-13 May) and the Battle of Loos (26-28 September).  1916 saw no notable actions, but in 1917 the Division took part in the Battle of Arras (First Battle of the Scarpe, 9-12 April).  At other times, the brigade formed a dismounted unit and served in the trenches (as a regiment under the command of the brigadier).

In March 1918, the Indian Cavalry elements were sent to Egypt.  The British and Canadian units remained in France and most were transferred to the 3rd Cavalry Division causing it to be extensively reorganized.  The yeomanry regiments were concentrated in the 8th Cavalry Brigade which left the 3rd Cavalry Division on the 12/14 March 1918 and transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade in same Division.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, John would have continued to be involved in the daily routine of a Cavalry Regiment.  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, 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 War Diary of the 10th Hussars whilst serving with the 6th Cavalry Brigade is available and a summary of activities in the four months before John’s death is summarised below.[1]

At start of March 1918, they were at Tertry where on 9 March one of the huts was bombed, six were killed, 35 wounded, six of whom died in hospital.  On 13 March they moved to the Devise area, and from 18-20 March they found working parties and then on 21 March ‘Heavy enemy bombardment of the whole front line opposite started about 4.30am.  The Regiment was ordered to stand to, and moved out at 5pm and marched to Beaumont near Ham, where the Brigade bivouacked in a field.  The dismounted Brigade was ordered to be formed next morning.’  On 22 March ‘The dismounted Brigade left by bus early in the morning …’.

They moved to Pontoise and then Carlepont and later to Choisy where a bomb injured an officer on 28 March.  On 30 March they were at Airion and moved to Sains-en-Amienois and the next day – 31 March – to bivouacs at Racineuse Farm.  Another group had gone to Lagny and then on to Elincourt and Chevincourt in period 26 to 29 March, sustaining one killed, 15 wounded and four missing.  A third group was in Naureuil on 23 March, and then dug in at Abbecourt and later went to Les Bruyers.

On 1 April the Brigade moved to Gentelles Wood.  On 2 April they moved on to Fouilloy.  Then on 4 April they came under heavy fire at Bois de Hamel and lost about 50 horses.  They were shelled again on 5 April at Blagney-Tronville.  On 6 April they moved to Camon where they ‘reorganised’ on 7 April.   On 11 April they marched to Buire-au-Bois and then on 12 April to Hestrus and later to billets at Aumerval.  From 14-30 April, they stood to and saddled up each day and were ready at short notice.

May started in the same way until on 5 May they moved to Rougefay and the next day to Villers l’ Hopital and then to Contay where they stood to until 16 May.  On 17 May they moved to camp at Belloy-sur-Somme.  They were then cleaning and training until the end of the month when they moved to Behencourt, and bivouacked half a mile south west of the chateau.

The Brigade stood to each day until 14 June when they were relieved by the 7th Cavalry Brigade and moved back to Belloy-sur-Somme.  From 15 to 24 June there was training and a ‘scheme’ was carried out on 22 June, however, ‘owing to the large numbers of cases of influenza in the Brigade, it was decided to move the Brigade to another area.’  On 25 June the Brigade moved to the Soues area, and then billeted at Reincourt until the end of July.

It seems there was constant movement in response to the German advances, the Cavalry effectively being in place as a readily moved ‘backstop’.  They moved, sometimes on a daily basis, from some 30kms south of Arras, to an area, similarly distant, to the west and south-west of the town.  There was no obvious major enemy action in the period prior to John’s death, when he might have been wounded, however, the mention of the ‘large number of cases of influenza’ may suggest that John was affected badly and for that reason was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station.

Whether wounded in routine sniping or shelling, or suffering from influenza, John was evacuated for some considerable distance behind the lines, assuming that he was taken to the 21st Casualty Clearing Station at Wavens – some 50kms west of Arras – next to where he was later buried.

John Martin died, aged 28, on 25 June 1918.  He was buried in the Wavans British Cemetery in Grave Ref: B. 3.  This is a very small cemetery with only 44 graves and was made by the nearby 21st Casualty Clearing Station in May-September 1918.  The cemetery contains 43 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and one German war grave.  The flying ace Major J T B McCudden, VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar, MM, who died of wounds on 9 July 1918, some two weeks after John Martin, is buried in the same row as John Martin in Grave 10.

Later, when a gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, no additional family message was engraved upon it.  His parents were still at 12, Jubilee Street, New Bilton, Rugby.

John Joseph Martin is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also on the New Bilton War Memorial, by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road, which states ‘In the Great War these died for England 1914-1919’.  The family were Roman Catholic and John – and his brother, Lawrence – are remembered at St. Marie’s Church, Rugby, ‘To the Memory of the Men of this Congregation who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918 …’.

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

His mother received his outstanding pay of £13-15-2d on 13 March 1919 and his War Gratuity of £25-10s on 2 January 1920.

John Martin’s younger brother, Lawrence [or Lawrence] Alfred Martin, also served and was killed in action with the 6th Battalion, the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.  He died on 12 September 1916.



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This article on John Joseph MARTIN 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, February 2018.

[1]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-20, Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line, 3rd Cavalry Div., 6th Cavalry Brig., 10th Prince of Wales Hussars, March 1918 – March 1919, TNA ref: WO 95/1153.

[2]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/martin-lawrence-alfred-died-12th-sep-1916/.


Gardner, Arthur. Died 23rd Jun 1918

Arthur GARDNER was born in late 1878 in Brackley, Northamptonshire.  He was the son of Richard Gardner, who was born in about 1855 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and Elizabeth, née Stevens, Gardner, who was born in about 1858 in Clifton, Warwickshire. They married in early 1878.

The family had moved to Brailes and then to Banbury, and sometime before 1901, moved again to live at 61 York Street, Rugby.  Arthur was now 22 and a ‘carpenter and joiner’, as was his father, and he was the eldest of five children.

His marriage with Agnes Jones, was registered in Q3, 1906.  She had been born in Rugby on 10 March 1876.  They lived later at 76, King Edward Road, Rugby.

In 1911, Arthur was 32, and was living with his wife at 30 King Edward Road, Rugby – he was a ‘carpenter & joiner’ for a builder.  His wife was now 35 and they had been married for four years but had no children.  It is possible that they later had two daughters: Marion E in Q4 1913, and Phyllis A in Q3 1916, however, with two fairly common surnames, the children could have related to another couple, although there are no obvious local marriages, and an on-line anonymous tree also shows two daughters.

In 1911, Arthur’s parents, and two of Arthur’s sisters were still living in Rugby at 27 Dale Street.

At some date Arthur joined up, and whilst there are no Service Records or Medal Card, it is known that he later became an Air Mechanic 2nd Class, No.126856, in the Royal Air Force, at the 1st Aeroplane Supply Depot.
In December 1915 it was decided to convert St Omer … into fixed supply and repair depots and to create three new air parks in the army rear areas to provide mobile support to the flying squadrons. St Omer was re-titled No 1 Aircraft Depot (AD)’. … In March 1918 [with the German advance of operation Michael] … 1AD was moved towards the coast.[1]

It is likely that Arthur was posted to No.1 AD and then stationed at St. Omer, because of his carpentry skills – aircraft were made largely of wood and there was a considerable amount of repair work to be carried out to help maintain supplies of aircraft.

With crowded conditions, any disease could spread rapidly.  In mid-1918, the influenza epidemic was a growing problem.  It is suggested that the ‘disease’ that Arthur caught may well have been the ‘flu’ and that he was evacuated to a hospital – in his case probably to a base hospital near Boulogne.

Arthur Gardner is recorded as having ‘Died of Disease’,[2] on 23 June 1918, aged 40.  He was buried at the Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, in Grave Ref: I. B. 16.

The Terlincthun British Cemetery is situated at Wimille, which is located on the northern outskirts of Boulogne.  The first rest camps for Commonwealth forces were established near Terlincthun in August 1914 and during the First World War, Boulogne and Wimereux housed numerous hospitals and other medical establishments.  The cemetery at Terlincthun was begun in June 1918 when the space available for service burials in the civil cemeteries of Boulogne and Wimereux was exhausted.  It was used chiefly for burials from the base hospitals, … for many years Terlincthun remained an ‘open’ cemetery and graves continued to be brought into it from isolated sites and other burials grounds throughout France where maintenance could not be assured.

Arthur Gardner is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

His wife, Agnes, lived until she was 100, and her death was registered in Rugby in Q3, 1976.



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This article on Arthur GARDNER 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, March 2018.


[1]      https://www.crossandcockade.com/StOmer/TheAircraftDepot.asp.

[2]      See: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/4025402/gardner,-arthur/#&gid=null&pid=2.

Garner, Henry. Died 22nd May 1918

Being listed on the Memorial Gates as ‘H GARNER’, and with no obvious Rugby connections, it seemed that this soldier would remain unidentified, until a report in the Rugby Advertiser[1] was found showing that whilst he was from a Northampton family, before the war he was working as a driver for the Co-op in Rugby.

For this reason this biography could not be posted on the 100th Anniversary of his death, but is posted now, a month later, and will be placed in order in the record in due course, so that he can be remembered.

Henry Garner was born in Harlestone, near Daventry, Northamptonshire in about 1889.  He was the son of John Garner, a ‘horse waggoner’ born in about 1853 in Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, and his first wife, Elizabeth, who was also born there in about 1857.

They had seven children, born between 1879 and 1891: their approximate dates of birth being: Mary Anne Garner, 1879; Thomas Garner, 1880; John E Garner, 1882; Amy Garner, 1884; Nellie Garner, 1886; Henry/Harry Garner, 1889  and Herbert ‘Bertie’ Garner, 1891.

Over this period the family moved to Bolnhurst in about 1880 and then to Harlestone about two years later.  They were in the Brixworth registration district and an eighth child, a girl, Elizabeth Agnes Garner, was registered in early 1894, and it seems that her mother, aged 37, died during, or as a result of childbirth; and baby Elizabeth Agnes also died a short while later, her death being registered before the end of 1894.

The widower father, Henry Garner, married again with another Elizabeth – Elizabeth Butler – in later 1896.  She was born in Haresfield, Gloucestershire in about 1869, and was thus some twelve years younger than the first Elizabeth Garner.  By 1901 there were three more younger children in the house from this second marriage, although the two eldest children were no longer at home.  In 1901, Henry – known as Harry – was 12 and working as a ‘stable boy – groom’.  His father was a ‘farm carter’.

At some date between 1901 and 1911, although no record has been found, it seems that Henry’s father died, leaving his second wife a widow.

By 1911, Henry’s widowed [step] mother was working as a ‘laundress’.  She was still living at ‘Harleston’, at 85 Upper Harlestone, Harlestone, with four children.  However, with his father now dead, Henry was correctly listed as a ‘step-son’, which was the initial confirmation that his father had married twice; that there were two separate ‘Elizabeths’; and that Henry was a son from his father’s first marriage.  Henry was now 22, the oldest sibling still at home and listed as an ‘Estate labourer’.

Although the information was not needed of a widow, and had been deleted by ‘officials’, his step-mother stated that she had been married 14 years and three of her four children were still living.  This also confirmed the second marriage date in about 1896 or 1897.  When the child who died had been born is unknown at present.

As noted, just before the war, Henry ‘… was employed by the Rugby Co-operative Society as a motor lorry driver’.[2]  It also appears that between 1911 and his death, he had married, as his gratuities after the war were paid to his widow, Emma.  That marriage has not yet been found nor any trace of Emma.

With the outbreak of war, Henry Garner enlisted in Rugby,[3]

Employees of the Rugby Co-operative Society who have enlisted are: … H Garner, …’.[4]

He enlisted initially as a Private, No: 40945, in the Worcestershire Regiment, ‘early in the war’,[5] indeed in September 1914.  With no surviving military Service Record, it is impossible to outline his early service, but at some later date he was transferred or posted as No: 18071, or 4/18071, in the Corps of Hussars and was, at the time of his death, in the 8th Hussars (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment.[6]

The 8th Hussars entered the trenches on the Western Front for the first time on 9 December 1914, not having arrived in time to take any part in the Retreat from Mons.  The first action that the 8th encountered was in December 1914 at the Battle of Givenchy.  The majority of their time was spent sending large parties forward to dig trenches and this continued for the whole of the war.  In May 1915, they took part in the Second battle of Ypres where the Germans first used chlorine gas.  In September 1915 the 8th Hussars transferred to the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division.  The majority of the casualties occurred from the unsanitary conditions of the trenches, the cavalry being held almost exclusively in reserve, waiting for ‘the gap’ constantly warned off, but never used.  In July 1916, the King’s Royal Irish Hussars fought at Bazentin, then Flers-Courcelette the following month, both battles being in the Somme area.  They returned to the Somme area in March 1917 to clear the small pockets of machine guns left by the retreating Germans.  They took part in what would be the Regiment’s last mounted charge at Villers-Faucon when B and D Squadrons, supported by a howitzer battery and two armoured cars, attacked a heavily defended German position.  B Squadron charged, then attacked on foot (the armoured cars were quickly put out of action) and drew the enemy’s fire.  D Squadron charged and captured the village with few casualties.  The Squadron Commander, Major Van der Byl was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for the action.  Two Maxim machine guns were captured in this action and have been used as guardroom adornments by the 8th Hussars and successor regiments since 1918.  During the German spring offensive of 1918, C Squadron under Captain Adlercron, defended the village of Hervilly until being forced to retreat, only to recapture it later that day at the loss of sixty-six casualties.

In March 1918, the 8th (Kings Royal Irish) Hussars were transferred to the 9th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.  … The Germans began to collapse soon after the allies began their final offensive in August, the 8th fighting at St Quentin, Beaurevoir and Cambrai and the Pursuit to Mons.  On 11 November 1918 whilst camped at Maffles, the regiment heard that the Armistice had been signed.  The 8th Hussars had 105 soldiers killed and countless wounded throughout the four years of the war.

It is not known when Henry joined the 8th Hussars, but their War Diary is in the records of the 1st Cavalry Division.[7]  It seems that as cavalry, they were mainly ‘in reserve’ waiting to exploit a ‘breakthrough’.  They were much used in labouring, and digging trenches, and thus suffered far fewer casualties than the front line infantry.

From 16 May, they had been at FEBVIN PALFART and the weather had been fine and hot and the Squadrons exercised, and took part in a Regimental scheme in BOMY and received orders to move on 21 May.  This move from Bomy to Boufflers was of some 60kms – about 35 miles – just over an hour today by car, but some four days’ march in 1918.  They were well behind the front-lines, as they moved south-west, approximately midway between the main Allied headquarters at Montreuil, south of Boulogne-sur-Mer, and Arras and the front line.

21/5/18 – Marched at 9.0am [from FEBVIN PAFART] via ANVIN to WAVRANS.  Arrived 1.0pm.  Very hot.

22/5/18 – Marched at 9.0am via PIERREMONT-FILLIEVRES to BOUFFLERS.  Very hot march.  Arrived 3.0pm.  Accomodation not very good.

Having suffered the ‘very hot march’, it appears that the opportunity was taken to bathe in the river.  The incident was described in the Rugby Advertiser,
‘Pte H Garner was accidentally drowned on May 22nd whilst bathing in a river in France.  He was the first of the company to dive into the river, and was at once seized with cramp.  His officer and comrades dived in to save him, but he was carried away by a strong current, and was drowned.  Pte Garner was employed by the Rugby Co-operative Society as a motor lorry driver till he enlisted at the outbreak of the War.’[8]

There was no record of this incident in the War Diary, but as noted, Henry died on Wednesday, 22 May 1918, aged 29, drowned in the river L’Authie, at Boufflers.  He was buried in the nearby Boufflers Churchyard, near the north wall of the church.  Boufflers is a village some 17 miles from Abbeville.

When the temporary marker was replaced after the war by a CWGC gravestone, the inscription ‘Fond Memories Cling’ was added at his family’s request.  The CWGC record reads,

Boufflers Churchyard.  GARNER, Pte. Henry, 10871. 8th K.R.I. Hussars.  Drowned 22nd May 1918.  Age 29.  Husband of Emma Garner, of 15, St. James Square, St. James St., Northampton.  Near North wall of Church.

Henry’s grave is the only Commonwealth burial of the First World War in Boufflers churchyard.[9]

The Army ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects’ suggests that a third payment of £17-10s, being his War Gratuity, was made to his Widow, Emma, on 5 June 1919, although any earlier ‘back pay’ payments are not specifically noted, although an item ‘A/C £2-2-11’ was included although not in the payments column.

Henry Garner 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 Henry GARNER was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 15 June 1918, also, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/15th-jun-1918-selling-ham-without-taking-coupons/.  Thanks to Christine Hancock for noticing that he was one of the ‘missing’ soldiers.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 15 June 1918, – and see above.

[3]      Ireland, Casualties of World War I, 1914-1922, The Committee of the Irish National War Memorial, Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914-1918, 8 volumes, Dublin, Maunsel and Roberts, 1923.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 September 1914, and https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/12th-sep-1914-rugby-residents-sons/.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, 15 June 1918, – and see above.

[6]      Ireland, Casualties of World War I, 1914-1922, The Committee of the Irish National War Memorial, Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914-1918, 8 volumes, Dublin, Maunsel and Roberts, 1923.

[7]      The National Archives, UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line, 1st Cavalry Division, Piece 1115: 9 Cavalry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, 15 June 1918, also, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/15th-jun-1918-selling-ham-without-taking-coupons/.

[9]      Image from: https://www.ww1cemeteries.com/boufflers-churchyard.html. [Picture © Barry Cuttell].