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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

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].

 

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Little, Douglas Lavington. Died 21st Jun 1918

Douglas Lavington LITTLE was born on 1 October 1898 in Finchley, Middlesex, and his birth was registered in Q4, 1898 in Barnet, Middlesex.   He was baptised on 25 December 1898 at All Saints, Headley, Surrey.  He was the eldest of two sons of William Gibson Little, who was born in about 1862 [-1931] in Islington, and Laura Lavington, née Oakley, Little, who was born in about 1876 [-1934] in Walthamstow.

They probably moved sometime after Douglas’s birth, as his younger brother was born three years later in Sanderstead, Surrey, where the family had moved before 1901, to live at Surprise View, Glossop Road, Sanderstead.  His father was then enumerated as an ‘Accountant’.

At some later date, probably some time before 1911, the family moved to Rugby – Douglas’s father had moved to take a job in Rugby and it may have been attractive because of the educational opportunities for the two boys.  Douglas attended Lawrence Sheriff School and then Rugby School.[1]

In 1911, Douglas was 12, and was living with his parents at 23 Paradise Street Rugby.  His father, now 49, was an accountant for an ‘electrical manufacturer’.  His parents had now been married for 13 years and had had two children both of whom were still living.

For a time after leaving school and before he was old enough to ‘join up’, Douglas worked in the BTH Electrical Laboratory.

There is a file for Douglas L Little at The National Archives.[2]  It has not been consulted at this time, so may include dates when he joined up and whether he had to serve – however briefly – in the army, before joining the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).  It does record that he was in the RFC before it became the RAF on 1 April 1918.  A later inquest report (see below) stated that ‘… he entered the R.A.F. as a cadet in September, 1917, and received his commission last February …’.  He would have been about 18 when he joined up.  He had ‘graduated’ – presumably he had gained his ‘flying licence’ – on 14 June 1918 – he died just a week later.

The RAF Museum holds an extensive set of record cards relating to deaths, injuries and illness suffered by Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force personnel.  Douglas’s Record Cards survive among this collection of Casualty Cards,[3] and also provide some details of his brief career.

Douglas ‘Lovington’ Little had attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force.  He had trained at the No.1 Training Depot Station (RAF) which was based at Wittering (also known as RFC Stamford) after the end July 1917.[4]

Douglas had ‘graduated’ on 14 June 1918 and was being ‘employed’ as a pilot delivering an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 aircraft,[5] serial no.C8617, with a Beardmore 160 hp aircraft engine, when at 5.30 pm on 21 June 1918, the machine spun into ground from 500 ft, and he was killed.

The Midland Aircraft Recovery Group reported that ‘FK8 C8617, of 1 Training Depot Station spun into the ground near South Kilworth.’[6]

His father was notified at his address at 30 Vicarage Road, Rugby.

An inquest was held and reported upon in several local newspapers.[7]

A verdict of “Accidental death” was returned at an inquest Tuesday on Second-Lieutenant Douglas Lavington Little, R.A.F., son of Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Little, 30, Vicarage Road, Rugby, who was killed in a flying accident near the town during the week-end.  It was stated that Lieut. Little and three other airmen were flying from one aerodrome to another in the Eastern Counties, and when near Rugby they lost their bearings.  Two of the officers came down to ascertain where they were, and Lieut. Little and the other one continued to circle round in the air.  Suddenly, for no accountable reason, Lieut. Little’s machine commenced to spin, and as there was not sufficient depth for the pilot to right it, it crashed to earth.  Lieut. Little was killed instantly.  He was 19 years of age, and was educated at Rugby School, he entered the R.A.F. as a cadet in September, 1917, and received his commission last February.

A notice was posted in the Rugby Advertiser on 29 June 1918.

‘In loving memory of Douglas Lavington Little, Second-Lieut., R.A.F.. killed in a flying accident, on June 21, 1918 : eldest son of William Gibson and Laura Lavington Little : aged 19 years.’[8]

Douglas Lavington Little died aged 19, on 21 June 1918 and his death was registered in Q2, 1918 at Lutterworth, this presumably being the nearest Register Office to South Kilworth, Leicestershire – the crash site was recorded as ‘near Rugby’.  He was buried in the Clifton Road Cemetery in Grave Ref:K472.

Douglas Lavington LITTLE is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; on the BTH War Memorial;[9] in the Rugby School Memorial Chapel;[10] and no doubt in one of the volumes of the Memorials of Rugbeians who Fell in the Great War; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[11] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’   

RAF accounts are less easily interpreted than Army accounts, but it seems that Douglas’s executors received his outstanding pay of £12-8s on 20 November 1919 and then a payment from his Cox & Co officer’s account of 18s in December 1919.

It seems that Douglas’s parents lived in Rugby for the rest of their lives.  His father died in Rugby aged 69, in 1931; his mother’s death was registered in Staines, aged 57, in 1934 – she was recorded as being 58 on her gravestone.  They are both buried with their son in Clifton Road Cemetery.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Douglas Lavington LITTLE 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]      From a reference in the later inquest report, and listed on Rugby School Memorial.

[2]      2/Lieutenant Douglas Lavington LITTLE, Royal Flying Corps, TNA Reference: WO 339/125676.

[3]      http://www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.uk/archive/little-d.l.-douglas-lovington.

[4]      ‘john-g’ suggests at http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/171495-rfc-abbreviations/, that ‘No 1 Training Depot Station, which formed nucleus flights on 20 July 1917 …’ – the flights went to Wittering on 30 and 31 July 1917.  See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Wittering, ‘The station’s training role expanded when it became the Royal Flying Corps’s No.1 Training Depot Station in 1917’.

[5]      The Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 was a British two-seat general-purpose biplane built by Armstrong Whitworth.

[6]      http://www.aviationarchaeology.org.uk/marg/crashes1918.htm.

[7]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 26 June 1918; also Birmingham Daily Post, Wednesday, 26 June 1918; also a slightly shorter version in the Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser, Saturday, 29 June 1918.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 29 June 1918.

[9]      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 https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

[10]     War Memorials on-line: https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/136533, reference WMO136533.

[11]     Information from https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/lawrence-sheriff-school-plaques.

Colston, Ernest Henry. Died 20th Jun 1918

Ernest Henry COLSTON’s birth was registered in Q3, 1899 in RugbyHe was baptised on 9 August 1899 at St. Matthew’s Church, Rugby.  He was the eldest son of Henry Colston, who was born in about 1867 in Rugby, and Emily Flora, née Wheeler, Colston, who was born in Yelvertoft in about 1874.  When Ernest was baptised, his father was working as a ‘builder’s machinist’.

In 1901, his father was still a ‘machinist (woodworker)’, and the family were living at 30 Stephen Street, Rugby.  Ernest had now ‘arrived’ and was one year old.  In 1911, when Ernest was 11, his parents had been married for 12 years, and were still living in Stephen Street, but now at number 27, which may have been a renumbering by the Post Office, rather than a change of home.  Ernest now had a younger brother, Dennis William Colston, who was born on 10 September 1903, and was now seven.  Their father was still in the same type of job and was a ‘wood work machinist’ for an ‘electrical engineer’.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for Ernest, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, initially as Private, No: 40386, in the Somerset Light Infantry.  He later served as a Private, No: 48555, latterly in ‘A’ Company, 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: During …

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,[1] 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 Ernest went to France, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough to serve overseas – until sometime in 1917.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, Ernest 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,  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,[2] and then from February onwards it is filed under 36th Brigade.[3]  A summary of the Battalion’s movements and actions during Ernest’s last few months is given below.

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.

In February they were variously at Rouge de Bout and Fleurbaix, where the trenches were ‘very quiet’.  On about 10 March they were relieved and were at Nouveau Mond and Rely from 22 to 25 March.  Then on 24 March they marched to Burbure and went into billets in Warloy.  On 24 March they marched overnight carrying Lewis guns and ammunition and on 26 March they were constructing defences east and south of Martinsaut.  On 27 March an attack was in progress – Germans were seen advancing and rapid fire was opened – several Germans were seen to drop.  There were later a number of casualties.  The enemy was now at Aveluy.  On 28 March an attack was repulsed and the Battalion was relieved on 30 March by the 23rd London Regiment.

On 1 April the Battalion was working at Worloy under the Royal Engineers at night.  Then from 2 to 7 April they relieved the 7th Border Regiment in front of Albert.  During the earlier period they sustained 12 officer and 243 Other Rank (OR) casualties – killed, wounded or missing.  8 April was a ‘quiet day’.  Then on 9/10 April they relieved the 9th Essex in the Corps Line and on 11 April were relieved by the 15th Welsh and went back to billets in Worloy – marching via Contay to Mirvaux – and were accommodated under canvas for training.

On 23 April they returned to the front line in the Beaumont Hamel sector until the end of the month when a strong enemy attack was repulsed.

In May they were in the front line until 13 May, then went to Acheux and provided working parties and practised for a raid.  This took place on 24 May and resulted in 4 officers wounded, 12 ORs killed, 2 died of wounds, 73 wounded, and 19 missing.  21 prisoners and six machine guns were taken.  On 25 May they proceeded by bus to Beauquesne – and further training.

In early June the Battalion was training and in reserve.  On 16 June they were again at Beauquesne, and had a Church Parade, and prepared for the line.  On 17 June the Battalion started to march to the front line at 9.30a.m.  They were east of Harponville until 10p.m. when they marched to take over Front Line System Left Sector in Bouzencourt Section.   ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were in the Front Line.  ‘All line in bad shape and very muddy and wet.  Trenches badly undercut.’

On 19 June a ‘Chinese Bombardment’[4] on the left led to ‘… heavy retaliation on our trenches … we suffered casualties’.  On that day 1 OR was killed and 7 wounded, and then on 20 June 5 ORs were killed and 7 wounded.

On 20 June, still in the Bouzincourt Sector, work continued on trenches and many trench shelters began.  It seems that ‘A’ Company had still been in the front line as on 21 June ‘Work continued. … ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies relieved by ‘C’ and ‘D’ Compaanies in front line.’

Ernest Henry Colston was killed in action on 20 June 1918, presumably in a continuation of the ‘retaliation on our trenches’ noted above.  He was 19, and killed with several other members of his Battalion who are now buried besides him.

He was buried in the Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension in grave reference: IV. B. 12. 

Bouzincourt is a village 3 kilometres north-west of Albert on the road to Doullens (D938).  The Communal Cemetery is on the northern side of the village.  It is some five kms. south-west of the Theipval Memorial.

Bouzincourt was used as a field ambulance station from 1916 to February 1917.  It was in German hands for a few days in the spring of 1918.  Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery was used for burials in 1916 and again from April to June 1918.  The adjoining Cemetery Extension was begun in May 1916 and used until February 1917.  The extension was reopened from the end of March 1918 until the following September and used largely by the 38th (Welsh) Division.

Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, “Greater Love hath no man that he gave his Life for his Friends”. 

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

His mother, as his sole legatee, received his monies owing of £3-17-1d on 21 October 1918, and his War Gratuity of £3 on 5 December 1919.  His parents lived latterly at 82 York Street, Rugby.  His father died in 1940 and his mother in 1947.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Ernest Henry COLSTON 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]      This does mean the Battalion War Diary has to be found in two separate files under the two Brigades.

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

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

[4]      A ‘Chinese Attack’ was the term given to a faked attack upon enemy trenches.  A preliminary artillery bombardment would be carried out.  This normally meant that an infantry assault was probable once the bombardment lifted.  However in a ‘Chinese Attack’ no infantry attack followed the lifting of the bombardment; and after allowing time for enemy to return to their trenches, the bombardment would recommence, the intention being to catch large numbers of men while they were in the open.  Chinese Attacks were also used to test reactions to a more seriously intended raid.  Ref: http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/chineseattack.htm.

George, Hubert Trehearne. Died 19th Jun 1918

Hubert Trehearne GEORGE’s birth was registered in Q2, 1898 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.  He was the son of Walter George, who was born in about 1853 in Worcester, and Harriett, née Blissett, George, who was also born in Worcester, in about 1855.  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1876, in Martley, Worcestershire.

In 1881, his father had been a ‘Schoolmaster, Wesleyan’ and the family were living in Moor Lane, Southwell.  In 1891, the family were still living in Moor Lane, and Herbert’s father was an ‘Elementary Schoolmaster’.  There were three children at that date: William B George, 14; Walter H George, 12; and Nellie E George, 6.

By 1901, his father had become the Headmaster of an Elementary School, and the family had moved to live in Park Street, Southwell.  Hubert had now ‘arrived’ and was three years old.  In 1911, Hubert was 13, and his parents were still living in Park Street.  Hubert, being much younger, was the only child still at home and his father, now 58, was still teaching as a ‘Head, Elementary School, County Council’.  His parents had now been married for 34 years and had four children who were all still living.

At some later date between 1911 and the war, it seems that the family moved to Rugby, possibly because of the educational opportunities for their son, and Hubert attended Lawrence Sheriff School.  They lived there for the rest of their lives.  His mother died in Rugby, aged 76, in about early 1930, his father died there aged 88, some ten years later in late 1940.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for Hubert, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, and he served – at least initially – as a Private, No:PS/11642, in the Royal Fusiliers, later he would be posted to become No:104281, in the 1st Section of the 8th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) (MGC).  At some date he was promoted Lance Corporal.

There is no date when Hubert went to France, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough to serve overseas – until sometime in 1917.

The 8th Battalion of the MGC was formed on 20 January 1918 from 23rd, 24th, 25th and 218th Machine Gun Companies and was part of the 8th Division.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, Hubert 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, 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.

This first action on 21 March 1918 was known by the Allies as the Battle of St Quentin, and the 8th Battalion was engaged in the Battle of St Quentin (XIX Corps/5 Army) from 23 March 1918; and then the actions on the Somme Crossings, 24-25 March 1918; the Battle of Rosières, 26-27 March 1918; the actions at Villers Bretonneux (III Corps/4th Army), 24/25 April 1918; and then later in Battle of the Aisne (IX Corps/6 French Army & 5 French Army), 27 May to 6 June 1918.[1]

In the absence of an immediately accessible War Diary, various memoranda have been found on-line relating to members of the 8th Battalion MGC, and these have been collated to establish the locations and activities of the Battalion.  There is some overlap and ‘conflict’, but these give an impression.  It is known that Herbert was captured, but it is not known where or when.

Although not subjected to the initial thrust of the offensive, the 8th Division fought a series of costly actions during the remainder of the month.  Between 24-25 April, the Division was involved in a desperate defence of the Villers-Bretonneux sector to the east of Amiens that would result in catastrophic casualties.  At the end of the month, orders were issued for the 8th Division to proceed to a training area near Abbeville.  This was cancelled, although some movement had already commenced.

30 April – the Transport Section of the 8th Battalion MGC mobilized.  Travelling eastwards, the night was spent at Soues to the west of Amiens.

1 May – the battalion transport set forth once again and proceeded to Pont-de-Metz to the south-west the town.  The Base Depot of the M.G.C. was located at Camiers.  At 9.30 a.m., the 8th Battalion, M.G.C. embussed at a road junction located at Les Croisettes, north of Huppy, and proceeded by lorry to the west of Amiens where they debussed at Ferrieres.  The battalion then proceeded by route march to Pont-de-Metz.

2 May, 8th Battalion, M.G.C. Headquarters with “A” and “B” Companies entrained at Saleux.  After a lengthy journey travelling south for much of the day, they then detrained at Fere (Fere-en-Tardenois) and marched to Mont-St.-Martin located to the south-west of Fismes on the banks of the River Vesle.

3 May – the 8th were located at Saleux to the south-west of Amiens.  The 25th Infantry Brigade were located at Huppy, to the south of Abbeville and further to the south, the 8th Battalion, MGC were in or near the village of Doudelainville.  “C” Company entrained at Saleux arriving in the late evening at Mont-St.-Martin followed by “D” Company who arrived at the latter place early on the morning of 4 May.  The division had by now received orders to move south to positions north of Reims and to occupy the front line near the River Aisne.

The 8th Division were now placed in Corps Reserve with Headquarters located at Chery-Chartreuve to the south of Mont-St.-Martin.  In the days that followed, the battalion spent their time in training and the cleaning of equipment

11 May – the infantry of the 8th Division to move into the line between the River Aisne at Berry-au-Bac and the Bois de la Casemate on relief of a French division.  The 8th Battalion M.G.C. followed suit at 7 a.m. in the morning marching via Fismes to Bourgogne Camp located to the west of Ventelay.

12 May – the front line was reconnoitred by the officers whilst the battalion spent the day preparing for occupation of positions in the front line.

13/14 May – night – the first units of the 8th Battalion M.G.C. began to move into the front line area when “B” Company moved into the right sub-sector of the divisional front with 16 guns, Company Headquarters being located at P.C. Dunkerque.  “C” Company also proceeded to occupy front line positions in the left sub-sector of the divisional front with 10 guns, Company Headquarters being located at Tuilerie on the southern outskirts of la Ville-aux-Bois.

14 May – night – “A” Company moved into the line with 16 guns and took over positions on the entire brigade front with Company Headquarters being located at P.C. Verdun.  The dispositions of the battalion are now described in the War Diary on this date as:  “The whole of “A” & “B” Coys together with 10 guns of “C” Coy are in the line.  “D” Coy together with 6 guns of “C” Coy in Divisnl. Res. at Bourgogne Camp.  The Bn. H.Q. & transport lines are also at Bourgogne Camp.”  It was declared that all three Infantry Brigades and the 8th Battalion M.G.C. of the 8th Division had completed the relief of outgoing French units in that salient, this relief having commenced on 12 May.

27 May 1918 – at the start of the Battle of the Aisne, the 8th Battalion MGC were at a place called Beri-au-Bac  which is right on the river.  Many were killed during the initial barrage.  It is known that some men were taken prisoner, including the CSM of A Company who was taken POW at Berry au Bac on 27 May and held at Langansalza POW camp until January 1919.

It seems quite likely that Herbert was perhaps wounded but also taken prisoner in that action, however, it could have been earlier.  The CWGC advised that he died whilst a Prisoner of War.  He may have been wounded.  The ICRC Historical Archives do not have a record card for him, however, these PoW records do have details of an enquiry from his father ‘Mr Walter George. (fath) 2 High. Str. Rugby.’[2]  The last news from his son had been dated 20 March 1918, and Herbert’s father’s enquiry was dated 24 May 1918.

It is thus possible that he was captured any time after later March 1918.  Prisoner of War camps provided a harsh environment, with fitter men being sent to work in local industry, or digging trenches, burying the dead and moving munitions.  Many of these were worked and starved to death, quite literally, as they received insufficient food – the German troops and civilians by this date were also receiving insufficient food because of the British blockade of German ports.  He may of course have been wounded and died whilst undergoing treatment, or become ill and died.

Herbert George died aged 20, on 19 June 1918.  He was originally buried in the Valenciennes Communal Cemetery German Extension in Grave Ref:1221 – this was some distance north-east of where he had been in action, and it seems likely that he was held in a PoW camp in this area or was being treated there, prior to being moved to Germany.  Valenciennes is some 25km north-east of Cambrai.

After the War the graves in the German Cemetery were ‘concentrated’ (exhumed, identified as necessary, and moved for reburial).  He was reburied in the Valenciennes (St. Roch) Communal Cemetery in grave reference: IV. F. 21.

Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery is situated on the north-east side of Valenciennes.  In November and December 1918, the 2nd, 57th, 4th Canadian and 32nd Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Valenciennes and the last of them did not leave until October 1919.  The Communal Cemetery of St. Roch was used by the Germans in August and September 1914 and an extension was then made on the south-east side.

The Commonwealth plots were made adjoining the German: I and II contain the graves of October 1918 to December 1919; III, IV, V and part of VI contain the graves of 348 soldiers buried originally in the German Extension and 226 whose bodies were brought from other cemeteries or from the battlefields.

The German Extension has since been removed and the Commonwealth plots are within the enlarged Communal Cemetery.

Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, “Happy with the Saviour”.  It seems that his parents had moved from 2 High Street, and were, by then, living at 9 Elborow Street, Rugby.

Hubert Treharne George is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[3] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’   

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

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Herbert Trehearne GEORGE 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]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/64070-8th-bn-machine-gun-corps-infantry/; note by ‘Koyli’, 24 November 2006, quoting information from: Sacker, Graham, The Suicide Club.

 

[2] https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search, 1914-1918, Prisoners Of The First World War, ICRC Historical Archives,

[3]      Information from https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/lawrence-sheriff-school-plaques.

Angell, William Henry, Died 15th Jun 1918

William Henry Groves ANGELL was born in Deptford, Kent, in late 1889.  He was the second son of John Groves Beasley Angell, who was born in ‘Bow Road’, London City, in about 1862, and Mary, née Sullivan, Angell, who was born in Deptford, Kent and who was also born in about 1862.  

In 1891, the family had just moved to live in Clump Meadow, Queen’s Road, Thames Ditton, Kent.  William was one year old and had an elder brother, John, who was five,[1] and an elder sister.  He would later have another sister, Amy, and a much younger brother, Fred born in 1898.  William’s father was a ‘moulder’.  It seems that both William’s father, and his uncle, had moved to Queen’s Road, Thames Ditton, before the 1891 census, and both must have worked for the Willans Company, as both families moved to Rugby when the Willans Company expanded and moved there in 1897.

So before 1901 the family had moved to live at 43 Victoria Avenue, Bilton, Rugby, and then before 1911, William’s parents and the family had moved to 166 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby.  His father was still an Iron Moulder.  His sister, Katherine, had married, Rugby born, Alfred Glenn, who was a Groom and they were also living with the family.  William was not at home on census night, and has not been found elsewhere at present, unless he was the ‘core maker’ – a somewhat similar trade to that of his father – who was a boarder at 425 Shields Road, East Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

There are no surviving military Service Records for William.  He joined up in Bristol, initially as a Sapper, No:2168, in the Royal Engineers.  His Medal Card states that he went ‘overseas’ to France/Belgium on 6 June 1915.  He was latterly a Sapper No: 494519 in the 477th South Midlands Field Company, Royal Engineers (R.E.s).

The 2/1st South Midland Field Company, R.E.s was formed in September 1914, and later moved independently to France as the renamed 477th Field Company, R.E.s, and joined 48th Division in June 1915.  William would have gone to France with his Field Company.

A War Diary exists for their period in France/Belgium.[2]  They had entrained for Portsmouth on 6 June and crossed to Le Havre arriving on 7 June and then spent several months with Sections working on different projects in different areas and also training – including the use of pontoons and bridging.

As an example of their work, on 18 May 1916, 9.30am, they started to supervise the digging of trenches,
‘… 915 yds of trench in all & including [two] traverses, 1220 yds of digging. Trench dug 5ft wide at top & 3 ft at bottom, 3ft 6in deep = 14 sq ft.  Strength of digging party 650 & 1 section of Sappers supervising approx 80 cu.ft per man.  19 May – 2pm – Digging complete.

In November 1916, their Field Company typically had a strength of 10 officers and about 220 other ranks.  They would have been working on a variety of construction projects, trenches and strong-points, supporting the 48th Division during the rest of 1916 and for most of 1917.

In May 1915, the Italians had entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria.  Commonwealth forces were later transferred to the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.   48th Division HQ received orders on 10 November 1917 for a move to Italy.  Entrainment began on 21 November and all units had detrained around Legnano (Adige) by 1 December.  The Division then moved north to the area allotted to XI Corps.

In March 1918, XIV Corps (the 7th, 23rd and 48th Divisions) relieved Italian troops on the front line between Asiago and Canove, the front being held by two Divisions, with one Division in reserve on the plain.[3]

The 48th Division relieved 7th Division to hold the front line sector at the Montello between 1 and 16 March.  It then moved west, to the Asiago sector.  The front had been comparatively quiet until the Austrians attacked in force from Grappa to Canove in the Battle of Asiago (15-16 June 1918).  The Division took part in the fighting on the Asiago Plateau.  The Allied line was penetrated to a depth of about 1,000 metres on 15 June, but the lost ground was retaken the next day and the line re-established.[4]

It is likely that William was wounded either just prior to, or during, the Battle of Asiago, and died of wounds during the day at one of the South Midlands Field Ambulances, which were attached to the 48th (South Midland) Division.  Mount Cavalletto was the site of an Advanced Operating Station where urgent cases from the front were treated, as the journey from the mountains to the main hospitals on the plain was long and difficult.

William Henry Angell ‘died of wounds’ on 15 June 1918, and was buried in the nearby Cavalletto British Cemetery, in grave reference: Plot 1. Row E. Grave 11.[5]  His family later had the inscription ‘A Noble Sacrifice for his Country’s Honour’ added to his memorial stone.  The contact for the inscription was ‘Mrs F R Angell, 714 Fishponds Road, Bristol’.  This would appear to be William’s cousin, Florence R Angell, who had married in 1913 and whose husband died in 1918.  She seems to have used her unmarried name for correspondence with the CWGC.  She later re-married.

Cavalletto British Cemetery is one of five Commonwealth cemeteries on the Asiago Plateau containing burials relating to this period.  It contains 100 First World War burials.  It is 12 kilometres south of Asiago (in the province of Vicenza, Veneto region), … and 45 kilometres from Vicenza in the commune of Calven.

In October, the 7th and 23rd Divisions were sent to the Treviso area of the River Piave front. The 48th Division, which remained in the mountains as part of the Italian Sixth Army, later played an important part in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto (24 October-4 November 1918) in which the Austrians were finally defeated.

William Henry Angell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1914-1915 Star.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Henry ANGELL 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, March 2018.

[1]      His brother John was mentioned in the Rugby Advertiser, on 5 May 1917.  See Rugby Remembers.  ‘2nd Lieut. J P Angell, R.F.C, eldest son of Mr and Mrs J Angell, 166 Lawford Road, has been awarded the French Military Medal for Distinguished Service while he was Sergt. Major, and has received congratulations from His Majesty the King.  Mr Angell has two other sons serving with the Colours.’

[2]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Engineers, 48th Division, TNA Ref: Piece 2751/3: 477 South Midland Field Company Royal Engineers (1915 Jun – 1917 Oct).

[3]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[5]      Shared by ‘parkgrove1’ on www.ancestry.co.uk on 19 September 2015.

Hickingbotham, William. Died 10th Jun 1918

William jnr (Billy) was born on 18 November 1893[1] in Rugby, but was baptised on 21 January 1894 at Bulkington, Warwickshire.  He was the son of William Hickingbotham who had also been born in Bulkington in about 1868.  In 1894, William senior was a brakesman; in 1901, a Railway Foreman Shunter, and by 1911 was working in the L&NW rail traffic department.  His marriage with Hannah Jane Elizabeth, née Pegg, was registered in Nuneaton Q3, 1891.  She was also born in Bulkington, in about 1872.

The family had presumably moved to Rugby before the end of 1893, and in 1901 and 1911 the family lived at 33 Cambridge Street Rugby.  In 1911, William junior was 17, single and a boot making apprentice.  By then he had three younger sisters and two younger brothers.

William’s Medal Card shows that he was initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private, No.4584, but later transferred to the Royal Engineers as Pioneer, No.130551.  Thirteen pages of William’s Pension Records have survived.

William initially joined the 3/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He was first attested on 16 November 1915 and ‘posted’ the same day.  He was discharged on 17 March 1916 and he re-enlisted that day in the Royal Engineers and was re-attested on 19 March 1916, at Clevedon, when he was 22 years and 4 months old.  He was 5 foot 8½ inches tall, a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair.  His father William was listed at his next of kin.

His Service Record shows that he was on Home Service from 18 to 29 March 1916.  He was posted as a Pioneer on 30 March 1916, and then posted to the British Expeditionary Force from 30 March 1916 to 8 April 1918.

During this period of service, he was ‘Wounded’, this being listed in the Weekly Casualty List in August 1917.[2]  He recovered locally without being sent back to UK, and he was in action again some time in late March or early April 1918, probably during the German assault of Operation Michael, when he was gassed by Mustard Gas.

He was evacuated back to UK on 9 April 1918 and listed as back on Home Service from that date, and posted to the ‘Royal Engineers Spec. Bde. Dept.’.  He had medical examinations regarding his condition and future pension at St Luke’s War Hospital, Halifax, on 13 and 18 April 1918.  He had been ‘Gassed sev …’, and was ‘Permanently excluded from liability for medical re-examination under the Military Service (review of exemptions) Act 1917’.  He was suffering from ‘phthisis’ [pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease] and his medical record suggests that ‘Gassed by Mustard Gas, wd. probably be the cause’.  It was suggested that this was ‘70% due to service during the war with Germany’.  Sanatorium treatment was recommended.  At Chatham on 9 May 1918, he was formally ‘Discharged, no longer physically fit for war service’.  He had ‘v.good’ military character and was awarded a ‘v.satisfactory’ character.  He received the Silver War Badge No.361456, when he was invalided out, to show he was not avoiding war service. 

It is not known to which, if any, sanatorium he was sent, however, he died just a month after his discharge, aged 24, on 10 June 1918.  He was buried at Rugby in the Clifton Road Cemetery in plot: J479.  On his CWGC headstone his parents chose to have inscribed ‘In Loving Memory of Billy Eldest Son of Wm. & H.J.E. Hickingbotham – Till We Meet Again’.  The CWGC website confirms that he ‘Died of Wounds [Gas]’.       

    

William is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and was awarded the Victory and British medals.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Hickingbotham 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, December 2017.

[1]      Information from Military Service Record.

[2]      Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry ), Tuesday, 21 August 1917.

Lee, William Thomas. Died 5th Jun 1918

William was baptised on 15th Feb 1878 at St. Andrews Parish Church Rugby and was the 3rd child of John and Elizabeth Ann Lee nee Cooke. His father was a labourer in Drury Lane.

In 1881 William was age 3, living with parents John and Eliza Ann at 16 Cambridge Street Rugby and 3 siblings, Louisa (7),  Mary Jane (5) and Emma (1). The two lodgers these were his grandparents, Thomas Cooke (56) silk weaver born Coventry & Eliza Cooke (54) also born in Coventry.

By 1888 his parents had 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls. and in 1891 William was aged 13, an errand boy living with parents at 14 Pennington Street Rugby. Three siblings, Emma (11), Richard (8) and Henry G (2)  were still at home plus lodger Elizabeth Edward (58), a widow and a tailoress, born Wolverton Bucks.

William’s father John Lee died at the end of 1892 in Rugby. He was aged 65.

Williams Short Service Attestation form tells us he joined up on 8th November 1899 and his regimental number was 7097 Royal Warwickshire Regiment 6th foot His age was given as was 19 years and 10 months although he was actually age 21. Why did he say he was younger? His occupation was a labourer. He was 5ft 4in tall, 115 lbs. His complexion was sallow and he had grey eyes and dark brown hair.

In 1901 his mother Elizabeth was living at 29 Gas Street Rugby and was a charwomen, living with her was her son Henry Lee aged 12 and 2 boarders George Lines (49) a groom domestic, born Lutterworth and Emvi Skeley (24), born Withybrook.

William served in South Africa from 28th Feb 1901 to 13th Oct 1902. He was awarded the South African Queen’s Medal with a clasp for the Transvaal. He then travelled to India with the RWR and was discharged as medically unfit on 6th Jun 1905.

His brother Henry Lee joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and in 1911 was age 22 and stationed at No.6 Regimental District of Whittington Barracks at Lichfield. We have been unable to find William in the 1911 census.

William must have been recalled to the RWR (Private, number 2386) soon after the war started as he arrived in France on 4th Jan 1915.This is confirmed by the fact that he received the 15 Star as well as the Victory and British Medals.

The 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment fought in most of the major battles of WW1 and William was probably injured during the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael.

William Thomas Lee died on 5th Jun 1918 and his age is given as 41, his death was at 21st Southern General Hospital Dudley Road in the All Saints District of Birmingham. He died of a Gun shot wound right ear and meningitis  the informant was M. Thomas, Matron of 21st Southern General Hospital Dudley Road and his death certificate gives his occupation as Number 2836 Private 1st Royal Warwick Regiment.

He is buried in Rugby Clifton Road Cemetery. The Graves Registration Report Form tells us he is buried in grave E47a.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM