Wright, Frederick. Died 25th Dec 1918

Frederick ‘Fred’ Wright was born on 17 April 1998 in Rugby[1] and his birth was registered in Q2, 1898.  He was the son of John William Wright (b.c.1861, in Ossett, Yorkshire) and Harriett, née Smith, Wright, (b.c.1859 in Northampton). 

In 1901, Fred’s father, John William Wright, was 40 and a ‘steam engine maker’, his wife Harriett was 42, and the family were living at 42 Worcester Street, Rugby.  There were four children at home – Fannie Wright, 17; Sidney Wright, 11; Ethel Wright, 8; and the youngest boy, Frederick Wright, who was two years old.

Before 1911, the family moved to a nine room house at 32 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby.  John William Wright was now an ‘electrical engineer’.  In 1911, Fred’s parents had been married for 28 years, and had had five children of whom four were still living.

For some reason, perhaps because he was a ‘stenographer’ in the BTH Contracts Department, their 21 year old lodger, Arol Deakin, filled in and signed their 1911 census return.  Later that year he married Fred’s sister, Dinah Ethel Wright [Rugby, Q3, 1911, 6d, 1078].  They had a daughter, Eileen in 1913, and a son, John Arol in about early 1916.  Arol Deakin joined up in the Royal Field Artillery and became a Sergeant but died of wounds on 16 August 1917.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate -.[2]

According to a later report in the Rugby Advertiser, Fred Wright …
… was formerly a sailor, and visited the Dardanelles a number of times.  He was afterwards employed at the B.T.H., subsequently joining the army.’[3] 

His service with BTH is confirmed in their memorial publications and also, assuming this is the correct Wright, in a list published in September 1914 in the Rugby Advertiser,
FROM THE WORKS – This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd: – … Wright, …’.[4]

This suggests that he must have gone to sea in the period between early 1911 and later 1914, when he was between 13 and 16 years old, which would be very young even for a boy sailor, although ‘one in three Royal Navy heroes of World War One were underage, …’.  He still had some time working at BTH, before joining up, and it may be that confusion with another older Fred Wright who was in the Navy on HMS Fox in 1911 may have occurred.

Albert joined up as a Private No.115498 in the Machine Gun Corps (MGC).  As the MGC was not formed until October 1915, and in the absence of any Service Record, it is not known if he joined an Infantry Regiment earlier for his initial training.  His Medal Card has no mention of an earlier unit and it is quite possible that he did not join up and did not go to France until at least the end of 1915 or during 1916, as he was not eligible for the 1914-1915 Star – and indeed he had not reached the necessary age of 18 years until April 1916.

The CWGC record suggests that he was a member of 50th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), however, when he was taken prisoner, his PoW record stated he was in the 206th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).[5]

In the absence of any Service Record for Fred, the date of any transfer from the 50th to the 206th Bn. of the Machine Gun corps is unknown.  However, the information on these Battalions is as follows:

50th MG Company: Moved to France and joined 17th Division, 17 February 1916 at Reninghelst. Moved into No 17 Bn, MGC, on 24 February 1918.

206th MG Company: Formed at Grantham, 24 October 1916.  Joined 58th Division in France on 24 March 1917.  Moved into No 58 Bn, MGC on 2 March 1918.

The Battalion Diaries are available, and it seems possible that Fred moved during the reorganisation of the MGC in early 1918.  Hence his main records have him still in 50th MG Company, whilst he knew he was in 206th Company – which had become the ‘A’ Company of the 58th Bn. which was in the line at Quessy, some 14 kms south of St. Quentin.

1918 had started fairly quietly, however, the anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael, was launched on 21 March 1918, 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.

Prior to March 1918, the history of 206th Co is described in the Summary War Diary.[6]

20/21 March 1918, 58th Divisional Sector astride the River Oise, [adjacent to the French 6th Army to the south].  22 and 23 March – ‘A’ & ‘D’ companies in action with 173rd Infantry Brigade. 

After March 1918, the War Diary, of the 58th Bn.[7] includes some six pages covering the period from 20 – 24 March 1918, from which the activities of ‘A’ Company have been abstracted.

21st – Enemy attacked on a wide front … owing to the existing dispositions … ‘A’ M.G. Coy … became heavily engaged … 10am – O.C. ‘A’ Company sent 3 reserve guns … to a position E of Quessy … with object of preventing the enemy from advancing on to Fargniers. (3000 rounds were fired on this task).  11.0am – O.C. ‘A’ Company received information … that 2nd Lieut T Owen … had been taken prisoner, the enemy enveloping these two guns in the mist – but that one of the guns had been got away … heavy fire was opened which held the enemy off for two hours, inflicting very heavy casualties.  12 noon – two machine guns on the canal bank S.E. of Fargniers and others E. of Fargniers and Quessy were engaging hostile infantry at close range.  1pm – a Corporal in charge of one of the foremost guns arrived at ‘A’ Co H.Q. and reported his gun had held out until 12.15pm, when it was eventually put out of action by hostile M.G. fire.  The enemy are stated to have suffered very heavy casualties from this gun, which was eventually surrounded.  7.30pm – O.C. ‘A’ Company ordered … to withdraw all guns from the battle zone and to hold the W. bank of the Crozart Canal at all costs throughout the night of 21st/22nd

This was done with 8 guns that remained of the 19 guns originally under ‘A’ Coy.  Night 21/22 – ‘A’ Coy with 8 guns holding Canal as above.

The dispositions remained as above through the morning of 22nd inst.  About 2.30 pm the enemy renewed his attack and succeeded in crossing the Crozart Canal. … Here 6 of the 8 guns of ‘A’ Company holding the Canal came into action – the teams firing their guns until the ammunition was exhausted or the guns were put out of action by the hostile shelling – this about 3.30pm  (one of these 6 guns was got away after using all the ammunition).

After all the guns of ‘A’ company … were out of action (3.30pm) … about 30 Machine Gunners held out in Tergnier, preventing the enemy getting into the southern part of the town, until 7.0pm when O.C. ‘A’ Company was ordered to withdraw all remaining guns and men of his Company to the Green Line and finally about 10pm to withdraw to Ognes … three guns of the original 19 still remained.

Meanwhile, four guns of ‘D’ Company were holding out in Viry-Noureuil to the south-west of the ‘A’ Company positions.

The summary of casualties, for the period 21 – 24 March 1918, stated that on 21 March, 26 Other Ranks were missing; on 22 March, 17 Other Ranks were missing; and on 24 March, 44 Other Ranks were missing.

It seems that Fred was one of those 17 ‘missing’ Other Ranks on 22 March, as according to Red Cross Prisoner of War (PoW) records, Fred was taken prisoner at Quessy on 22 March 1918.  This was the second day of Operation Michael, and he was ‘Unverwundat’, that is ‘unwounded’.

Fred was taken to a PoW camp, probably in Germany – and probably had to work and would have received a very poor diet – the blockade on Germany meant even German civilians were on a meagre diet.  Many prisoners died, many later from the Spanish Flu, and Fred was no exception.  He survived the war, but is recorded as dying on Christmas Day 1918.  He is likely to have been buried initially in a camp cemetery adjacent to the German PoW camp where he had been confined, and he had probably remained at the camp being treated after the Armistice.

Later, after the war these many smaller cemeteries in Germany were ‘concentrated’, and Fred’s body was moved to the newly created Berlin South-Western Cemetery, at Stahnsdorf, where he was reburied in grave ref: VII. G. 1.

The village of Stahnsdorf is some 22kms south west of Berlin and about 14kms east of Potsdam.  In 1922-1923 it was decided that the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died all over Germany should be brought together into four permanent cemeteries.  Berlin South-Western was one of those chosen and in 1924-1925, graves were brought into the cemetery from 146 burial grounds in eastern Germany.  Many, if not most of these, were from Prisoners of War Cemeteries.

Fred was awarded the Victory and British medals.  Fred is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate; the New Bilton War Memorial by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918;[8] and on the BTH War Memorial.[9]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick Wright 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, February 2017.

 

[1]      Information from: International Committee of the Red Cross (CH), https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/.

[2]      Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/deakin-arol-died-16th-aug-1917/.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 11 May 1918.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/, and also the Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 5 September 1914.  But at least four Wrights from BTH served in WWI.

[5]      Information from: International Committee of the Red Cross (CH), https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Machine Gun Corps, 58th Division, Piece 2996/10: 206 Machine Gun Company (1917 Mar – 1918 Feb).

[7]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Machine Gun Corps, 58th Division Piece 2996/11: 58 Battalion Machine Gun Corps (1918 Mar – 1919 Apr).

[8]      https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-employees-who-served-war-1914-1918-d.

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

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Minchin, George Victor. Died 4th Sep 1918

This biography of George Victor Michin should have been published in September 2018.  However, some confusion with an older George Minchin, also in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was killed on 3 September 1916, meant that the main CWGC search listing gave George Victor Minchin the same date of death in 1916, when he would have been only 16!  However, the background documents on the CWGC site, and later announcements in the local press, confirmed George Victor’s date of death as 3 or more probably 4 September 1918.

– – – – –

George Victor MINCHIN was born in Aston, Birmingham in about 1900.  His birth was registered in Q1, 1900 in Aston.  

He was the youngest son of Henry John Minchin [b.c.1862 in Bristol] and Mary Ann, née Allen, Minchin [b.c.1861, also in Bristol].  They had married on 10 September 1883, at St Paul’s church, Portland Square, Bristol.

In 1891, the family were still in Bristol, living at 3 Campbell Street, Bristol.  They now had three sons of 6, 4 and 2 years old.  Henry Minchin was a ‘tailor’.

In 1901, the family had moved to 5 Beatrice Terrace in Bristol.  Henry Minchin was now a ‘tailor journeyman’, and there were three more children: two girls and, the youngest by some years, a boy, George Victor Minchin, who was one year old.  However, it seems that the family may have been in the process of moving, following Henry’s period as a ‘Journeyman’, as George, who was born a year or so earlier, was registered not in Bristol but in Aston, Birmingham.

However, by 1911, the family was living in Birmingham, at 186 Nechells Park Road.  George was at school.  When he left school, and before the war and being old enough to join up, George worked for a period as a waiter in a Harrogate Hotel.[1]

At some date after 1911, the family had moved to Rugby – indeed George joined up there[2] in early 1917 – and in 1918, the family were at 10 Market Street, Rugby.  They were still there in 1939.

A later report[3] stated that George joined the army in January 1917, and his CWGC record and Medal Card shows that he served, at least latterly, as a Private, No.36285 with the 2nd/6th Battalion (Bn.) of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.W.R.).  The date when George went to France is not given on his Medal Card, but his date of birth and the fact that he did not receive the 1915 Star, supports a date of enlistment in January 1917.

The 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion and later went to Chelmsford with a role in Home Defence.  It became part of the 2nd/1st Warwickshire Brigade, in the 2nd/1st South Midland Division and in February/March 1916 moved to Salisbury Plain for final training.  In August 1915 they joined the 182nd Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.[4]  The division moved to France, arriving from 21 to 28 May 1916 for service on the Western Front.  There are some references to them becoming part of the 143rd Brigade in the 48th Division,[5] but this doesn’t appear to be supported by the Brigade numbering in the War Diary.

During 1916 the 2nd/6th Bn. R.W.R.’s first action was the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, a diversionary attack in support of the Somme Offensive.  The attack was badly handled and casualties were heavy.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.  George would not have arrived in France until a year or so later, and probably not before mid 1917.

The following précis of actions based on the War Diary[6] of the 2nd/6th Battalion showed that later in 1917 …
… the 2nd/6th Battalion, was involved in the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai: German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.  Due to the manpower shortage being suffered by the BEF, on 20 February 1918, the 2nd/6th Bn. received men from the disbanded 2nd/5th Royal Warwicks.

On the day before the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael[7] on 21 March 1918, the 61st Division was just north of St Quentin when 2nd/6th Royal Warwicks was ordered to raid the enemy line at Cepy Farm and they obtained prisoners from three regiments and two separate divisions, indicating that the German lines were packed ready for an attack early the following morning.  Unfortunately, this information was not widely disseminated before the Battle of St Quentin began.

The front held by 61st Division opposite St Quentin was one of the few sectors where the attackers were delayed.  Strongpoints held out for most of the day and the Battle Zone was successfully held by 2nd/6th R.W.R.s and four other battalions.  Unfortunately, the neighbouring battalions were driven back and the 2nd/6th Bn. was ordered to retire.  It was then involved in the defence of the Somme Crossings on 24-25 March.  The Division was relieved on 27 March and taken north to make a counter-attack the following day at Lamotte near Villers-Bretonneux.  This attack was shot down yards from the objective and the exhausted remnants were finally pulled out of the line on 30 March.

During the rest of Spring 1918 the battalion was involved in the Battle of the Lys; the Battle of Estaires on 11 April, when the 61st Division arrived just in time to prevent the destruction of the 51st (Highland) Division; the Battle of Hazebrouck, 12-15 April; and the Battle of Béthune, 18 April.

The 2nd/6th Bn. R.W.R. War Diary[8] for this period can be found with the War Diaries of the 61st Division.  In August 1918, the Allies began the ‘Hundred Days’ Offensive’, which led to the Germans retreating or being driven back from all of the ground taken in the ‘Spring Offensive’; the collapse of the Hindenburg Line; and led to the Armistice in November 1918.

Whilst this was a successful offensive, much fighting was involved and many casualties occurred.   The 61st Division was committed to ‘minor’ operations during the pursuit to the Haute Deule Canal.  The activities of the Battalion in this offensive in late August and early September 1918 are recorded in the War Diary and can provide information as to George’s likely whereabouts and the occasion when he was killed.

There were indications of an enemy withdrawal in late August and orders were drawn up for an attack under cover of a ‘rolling barrage’.  On 1 September the Battalion were holding an ‘outpost line’ with the enemy on the east bank of the canalised river La Lys, known to the allies as ‘Canal River’.  In addition to the Daily Reports, there is a lengthy Appendix recording in detail an attack in the period 3-6 September 1918.

On the night of 2/3 September the Battalion relieved the 2nd/5th Gloucesters, taking up a position on left bank of the River Lys and River Still Becque.  The enemy held the east bank and all the main bridges had been destroyed.  A footbridge was found to the right and crossed in early afternoon on the 3 September, but casualties were taken.  On 4 September Companies advanced on the road west of Fleurbaix.  ‘Considerable opposition was met from M.G.s and snipers, and in addition, the road was shelled and the party came under T.M. fire.’  Elsewhere Companies worked around the village of Bac St Maur – they also were later held up by enemy fire.  At 7pm an explosion set off by a time fuse, indicated that the enemy was withdrawing – and a very heavy enemy barrage onto the position followed.  However, by the next day the Battalion held the village of Bac St Maur.

Sometime on 3 or 4 September, and maybe overnight – as records give both dates, George Victor Minchin was ‘Killed in Action’, aged 18.  The earlier ‘Grave Registration Report’ gave 4 September, and the later printed summary, 3 September – although the other three members of the Warwickshires who were also killed on the same day and buried adjacent to George remained listed as killed on the 4 September.  The record of UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, also stated 4 September 1918, however, the Rugby Advertiser notices gave 3 September 1918 – such is the confusion of war in an ongoing battle.

Despite the undoubted confusion, George’s body was recovered and he was buried some five miles west of Fleurbaix where they had been in action, in plot: 3. G. 8. in the Anzac Cemetery, Sailly-Sur-La-Lys.  Later when his CWGC gravestone was placed, his parents had the inscription added, ‘He Died that we might Live’.

Anzac Cemetery, Sailly-Sur-La-Lys is on the north-west side of the road between Armentieres and Bethune.  Sailly Church was burnt during the fighting in October 1914, when French cavalry and British and German infantry fought on the Lys, but from the winter of 1914-1915 to the spring of 1918, the village was comparatively untouched.  It was captured by the Germans on 9 April 1918, and it remained in their hands until the beginning of September.

Anzac Cemetery was begun by Australian units in July 1916, immediately before the Attack at Fromelles, and it contains the graves of many Australian soldiers who died in that engagement.  It continued in use as a front-line cemetery until April 1918 and was used by German troops for the burial of Commonwealth soldiers during the following summer.  Anzac Cemetery contains 320 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. … The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

The Rugby Advertiser reported his death on 12 October,
Mr H Minchin, 10 Market Street, has received news that his son, George Victor, a private in the R.W.R, was killed in action on September 3rd.   Pte Minchin, who was nearly 19 years of age, joined the Army in January last, previous to which he was employed as a waiter at a Harrogate Hotel.[9]

There was an ‘In Memoriam’ published in the same issue,
MINCHIN. – GEORGE VICTOR, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Minchin, 10 Market Street, Rugby. Killed in action September 3, 1918, somewhere in France; aged 18 years and 9 months.

He was also included in the casualty list in the Coventry Evening Telegraph a few days later,
THE ROLL OF HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included in the latest casualty lists: Killed. … R.W.R. Minchin, 36285, G., Rugby, R.W.R.; …[10]

 

George 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 George Victor MINCHIN was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October  2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

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

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

[4]      Greater detail can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6th_Battalion,_Royal_Warwickshire_Regiment, from which this summary was prepared.

[5]      As noted above, whilst reported to be in the 48th Division, the War Diary continued to be kept, and later filed, under the 61st Division.

[6]      The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb); also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.

[7]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[8]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918.

[10]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 15 October 1918.

Walker, Joseph Evan. Died 30th Mar 1918

Omitted from publication on 30th Mar 2018.

Joseph Evan Walker was born in 1888 in Burton on Trent, Staffs. His parents were Thomas and Emily Augusta (nee Poynton). They had been married in Emily’s home town of Ashby de la Zouch on 12th March 1872.

In 1891 the family were living at 169 Shebnall Street, Horninglow, Burton. Thomas was a painter and two year old Joseph was the youngest of four children. They were still there in 1901 and Joseph remained the youngest in the family.

In 1909 Joseph married Lillie Redfern and in 1911 was head of the household at 237 Goodman Street, Burton on Trent. They had a son Joseph Reginald aged 1y 7m. Joseph’s mother had died and Thomas was living with his son. At the age of 64, he was a fishmonger, while Joseph had taken on the job of painter.

Thomas died the following year and Joseph and his family must have moved shortly afterwards, as a daughter Margery was born in Rugby in early 1913. Beatrice arrived in 1915 and Clifford registered in the first quarter of 1917. Joseph was now living at 41 Pinfold Street and was a fruiterer and fishmonger.

As a married man with young children Joseph might have expected to avoid service during the war, however in January 1916 the Military Service Act was passed. At first only single men were liable to be called up, but in June that year it was extended to married men as well. Joseph appealed against the decision and in July the following was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 29th July 1916:

FRUITERER’S APPEAL UPHELD.
Joseph Evan Walker, fruiterer and fishmonger, 41 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, who was represented by Mr Eaden, appealed against the decision of the Rural District Council Tribunal, who had dismissed
his appeal.—After the facts had been stated, it was decided to give exemption till December 1st.

Presumably this was to allow the safe birth of Clifford who arrived on the 30th November 1916. Sometime after this Walter Evan Walker joined the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as private 23770.

Four RWR Battalions – the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th Battalions – landed in France as part of the 182nd (2nd Warwickshire) Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in May 1916 for service on the Western Front, and their stories are broadly similar, and several other Rugby men served and were killed in action with these Battalions.

2nd/7th Battalion RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line Battalion. It became part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division, and then in August 1915 it was re-designated as part of the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.   The Battalion landed in France on 21 May 1916.[2].[3] Whether George was with them is unknown. If he was with them, he could have been engaged in various actions on the Western Front including: the Attack at Fromelles in 1916; and during 1917, the Operations on the Ancre; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line; the Battle of Langemarck toward the end of the Third Battle the Ypres, and then after being in reserve for the Battle of Cambrai, the Battalion was used to reinforce the units under counter-attack in the area of La Vacquerie at the end of November 1917.

The Battalion War Diary[4] gives details of the Battalion’s activities throughout the war, but the following information has been abstracted for the period before Joseph’s death.

In early December 1917, the Battalion was in the Welsh Ridge sector, near the Hindenburg line. To start the New Year, the Battalion was in training. The Battalion moved to Savy, then toward the end of the month it was at Holnon Wood, and then moved back to Berthecourt. The Battalion strength was 29 Officers and 388 Other Ranks.

During February 1918, the Battalion was in support and then relieved the 2nd/6th RWR on 3 February, who relieved them in turn on 6 February. On 14 March the 2nd/8th RWR were transferred to the Battalion, with 8 Officers and 256 Other Ranks. In March the Battalion continued turn and turn about in Holnon Wood, improving the line and with training in the days between 14 and 20 March.

The anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael,, was launched on 21 March 1918, 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.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress in other parts of the line.

On marching out on 21 March, the Battalion had comprised 21 Officers and 556 Other Ranks. In the period to the end of March, there were 30 Officer casualties (some additional officers had joined in the period) and 488 Other Ranks casualties.

On the 28th March 1918 the Battalion moved into billets at MARCELCAVE to prepare for an attack on LAMOTTE. During the day ground was gained and held but due to both flanks being unprotected they “withdrew to a position more in line with other Units” Casualities 2 officers, 80 other ranks.

After a cold wet night:

29th March 18
Disposition of Battalions slightly improved. Enemy activity slight, little sign of his moving forward to MARCELCAVE
A light Tank gun used from village and a few M.G.
A wet night.

30th March 1918
6 a.m.   Heavy artillery fire along the — valley and our trenches rather knocked about.
Capt. Manuel and Lieut. Forrer – wounded.

7 a.m.   Apparent complete retirement of Division on our right.

7.45 a.m. Units on our right retiring and Battalion commencing to withdraw without any apparent orders. The retirement was checked at about 500 yards in rear and almost the whole of the Battalion re-assembled and a temporary line established at V.1.C.4.2 – V.1.b.2.2 which brought the Battalion in alignment with 183rd Infantry Brigade.

11 a.m.   It was found possible to re-establish the Battalion in their old position. The casualties during the withdrawal had been slight.
Lieut. Strawson – wounded slightly

12 noon.   An advance by the enemy on our right and withdrawal by units on our right, which again, without reason, brought the Battalion out of their trenches. This was immediately checked and they returned to their position.
A squadron of Yeomanry put into the line on right of Battalion during the night.
Lieuts Lunt and Grieve, wounded during the night.
A cold wet cheerless night, relief expected, No rations
Approximate Casualties Officers. 4  O.R. 56

31st March 1918
2 a.m.   Orders for relief by 135th Battn. A.I.F received.
No relief took place, the arrangements having been bungled somewhere.
At dawn the O.C. 135th. Bn. A.I.F. reported regarding relief, but owing to the exposed positions the Battn. Held, it was impossible to effect this during daylight.

8 p.m. Battalion relieved by 135th Bn. A.I.F and marched to GENTELLES to billets.
A cheerless day, Battalion tired out.
30 stragglers rejoined.

It was somewhere in this muddle that Joseph Evan Walker died. Probably one of the 56 casualties on 30th March 1918.

His body was never found or identified and he is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial.

Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert. The Memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery which is a little south-west of the village on the north side of the main road, D929, from Albert to Pozieres. The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.

The announcement of his death was made in the Rugby Advertiser of 4th May 1918:

News been received by Mrs Joseph E Walker, 41 Pinfold Street, New Bilton, that her husband, a lance corporal in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed action on March 30th. Lance-Corpl Walker, who was 29 years of age and joined the Army in January, 1916, formerly carried on business as a greengrocer in Bridget Street.

Joseph was awarded the British and Victory medals.

In mid 1919 Millie Walker remarried, to Joseph H Daniels. Mr Daniels can be found in the 1911 census at 35 Caldecott Street with his wife Elizabeth and 7 children. Elizabeth had died in 1914.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Russell, Frederick Arthur. Died 26th Nov 1918

Frederick Arthur RUSSELL was born in Rugby on 28 January 1889 and his birth was registered there with those names in Q1, 1889.  He was the eldest son of William Knibb Russell (b.c.1863 in Rugby) and Charlotte Hannah, née Leeson, Russell (b.c.1862 in Braunston).

The Russell name goes back to Scotland.  William Knibb Russell’s father, Matthew, came south from Darvel, Ayr.  In 1861, Matthew, now aged 27, was a grocer and living at 60 Warwick Street, Rugby with his wife, Elizabeth Jane, née Ensor, and his brother in-law Robert J. Ensor.  The Ensor family were from Newbold on Avon.

In 1891 the Russell family were living at 18 Stephen Street, Rugby.  Frederick was 2 years old and his father, William, was a ‘general labourer’.  His mother, Charlotte’s father, Frederick’s grandfather, was also living with them.

By 1901 they had moved to 25 Rowland Street and Frederick’s father was now a ‘plasterer’.  There was another son, Frederick’s brother, Ernest Henry who was four.  Elsie E Morris, a nine year old ‘niece’ from Long Buckby was in the house, and Charlotte’s father, now 84, was still with them.

In late 1909, Frederick married, as Arthur Frederick, in Rugby with Esther Mary Watkins, who was from Flecknoe – she was three years older than Frederick.  They married at the Baptist Chapel, on 4 December 1909, and by 1911, had moved to live at 11 Dale Street, Rugby.  Frederick was now a ‘postman’ and they had a three month old daughter, Esther Jessie Russell, who had been born on 1 January 1911.

By 1911, the rest of the family had moved to 29 Benn Street, Rugby, and Frederick’s father had become a ‘laundryman’ – indeed he was the owner of a laundry.  His wife was a ‘laundress’, and three of the four girls lodging with them were each described as a ‘laundress’.  Frederick’s brother, Ernest Henry, was a ‘grocer’s apprentice’.  The family would still be living in the same house after the war.

With War declared, and as a married man, Frederick would not have been expected to join up with the first volunteers.  He continued working as a postman until late 1915, and then probably into mid-1916 until he had to report to Plymouth for duty.

Frederick Arthur Russell’s army Service Record survives – it is somewhat complicated with many medical entries, as Frederick seems to have been wounded several times.

He was ‘attested’ at Rugby into the Royal Garrison Artillery on 9 December 1915 for the ‘Duration of the War’, whilst still a postman, aged 26 years and 11 months, 5ft 9ins tall, 168 lbs, of very good physical development and now living at 6 Benn Street, Rugby, nearer the rest of his family.  He was of ‘C of E’ religion.  Whilst ‘attested’ he was not required for a while, but he ‘rejoined the colours’ on 28 August 1916, from which date his service was reckoned and he was posted to ‘3 Depot’ as a ‘Gunner’ No: 116560 and then ‘Approved’ on 30 August 1916 at Plymouth.

His gave his wife’s name, Esther Mary née Watkins, as his next of kin – she was at home at 6 Benn Street, Rugby.  The Baptist Minister signed the various documents for the family.

His service dates and service periods were summarised as follows:

Yrs : Days
Home         9.12.15 to 23.1.17             1 :  46
BEF           24.1.17 to 19.4.17                   86
Home         20.4.17 to 21.6.17                   63
BEF           22.6.17 to 30.8.18              1 : 70
Home         31.8.18 to 26.11.18                 88

Total                             2 : 353

When he arrived at the Citadel, Plymouth, on ‘29.8.16’, he was revaccinated, he then had a TAB inoculation on ‘11.9.16’, and he left the Citadel and was posted again on 18 September.  He passed his ‘Signalling 2nd Class’ on 13 December 1916.  He was posted to ‘2 Depot’ on 17 January 1917 and a week later on 24 January 1917, he was posted to the B.E.F. in France, and was then posted to 146 Heavy Battery from Base on 10 February 1917.

Just over two months after his arrival in France, he was wounded on 11 April 1917, ‘WO Cas List – Wd 11-4-17 [Action] N of Kin … WO Cas List – GSW Lt. Thigh Sev.’ [Gunshot wound left thigh, severe] and he was ‘Adm ? Cas/n? Gen Ho Etaples 13-4-17’ [Admission to Canadian General Hospital, Etaples].

He was ‘invalided to England’ on 17 April 1917, and again posted to ‘2 Depot’ – presumably as an administrative device – and then ‘Wd adm to Eastern Gen Hos Cambs’ [Wounded admission to Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge].  It seems that he recovered fairly quickly as he was posted to the ‘Res Bde’ and ‘4 Res Bgd’, both on 14 May and then promoted Bombardier on 28 May 1917 – however, this seems to have been an error and was corrected to Lance Bombardier on 30 May 1917!  He was sent back to ‘Base’ in France on 22 June 1917 to the ‘4 Res Bty’, and then from ‘Base’ to ‘135 Heavy [Battery] … in the field’ on 30 June 1917.

He became due for leave in UK (via Boulogne) from 1 to 15 March 1918, but a few months after his return to France, he became a casualty again apparently on 10 August 1918 – it seems due to an accident – possibly when dealing with a heavy artillery piece, ‘WO Cas List – NYD – Fract Tibia & Fibular R, Severe adm 1. (Presby USA), Gen H Etretat 22/8/18’ [Fractured Tibia and Fibula right, severe, admitted to No 1 (Presbreterian USA), General Hospital Etretat,[1]  22 August 1918].

There were various administrative notes, but after a few days at Etretat, on 30/31 August 1918, Frederick was evacuated back to UK for treatment on the ‘Ambulance Ship St Patrick’ – and posted away from the battery – ‘WO Cas List – Sick Adm – Lord Derby W Hos Warrington 31-8-18 to 9.11.18 simple fracture – accidental’ [This was for treatment at the Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington] – it seems the break was the a result of an accident – accidents still happened in war!

He was then posted back to the Depot at Catterick Camp, presumably to recuperate and then to await re-posting, but on about 20 November 1918, whilst at this posting at the ‘RA & Tank Corps, Catterick’, he was admitted to Catterick Military Hospital.

His Medical Case Sheet gives typed up notes on his condition, which give an indication of the severity of the ‘Spanish Flu’, which before the advent of antibiotics, killed many more people, both civilian and military, all around the world, than did the battles of WWI.

‘21 Nov – Admitted, complained of general pains, headache and malaise two days ago.  Cough.  On admission Temp. 102.  Sod. Sal. Gr.x 4 hourly.  Pulse 100.

22 Nov – Headache.  No marked change.

23 Nov – Condition worse.  Temp.102.

24 Nov – Temp. risen. Resp. more rapid.  Abdominal pain and distension.  Inhalation of Benzine.  Cough severe.

25 Nov – Temp. 103.4. Pulse 80.  Condition serious.

26 Nov – Very cyancsel.[2]  Pulse strong until the last.  Resps. Laboured.  Stimulants given.

Died from Broncho Pneumonia.  The result of Influenza contracted during ordinary Military Service.

No P.M.  Nothing of special Medical Interest to investigate.’

Another handwritten note states that ‘The above person died whilst serving’.  He died just six days after being admitted from ‘Influenza and Bronchitis’ at 7.00pm on 26 November 1911.   

An entry also states ‘Hippowell Camp, Catterick – Docs reporting death 26-11-18 – Influenza & Bronchial Pneumonia.  Office – Note of Sympathy to next of kin.’

His body was returned to his family and he was buried in a family plot No: B.298 in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.  This is a family plot without a CWGC Headstone.  He is interred with ‘Bdr F.A. Russell, RGA’ on one headstone and with his parents alongside, together with William Watkins, his father-in-law, who died on 8 November 1924.

It was said by his family that Frederick died as a result of being gassed at the front, but that is not discernible from available records.  Whether or not this was the case, he should have been entitled to a CWGC gravestone.[3]  He is in any case recorded as a war death by the CWGC – perhaps the family had the option of a gravestone and declined.

Frederick Arthur Russell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and his widow acknowledged their receipt on 1 November 1921

He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; on a headstone around the family plot at the Clifton Road Rugby Cemetery, Rugby (right);[4] and at the Baptist Church, where he is remembered as F Arthur Russell – the Memorial Tablet is above the Minister’s vestry in the Church, and inscribed
This tablet and the organ in the Church are erected to the memory of those members of this Church who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1918, whose names are given herewith also as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the many others from this Church who served in the war.’
‘On waters deep in the treacherous mud.
On rock bound heights and burning sand.
They poured the offering of their blood.
They kept the honour of the land.’

Frederick’s ‘Will Form’ dated 19 January 1917, gave his wife’s name and their address.  Final ‘disposal’ was dealt with by the army on 3 February 1921.

It seems his effects were sent to ‘Mrs A Watkins, 6 Benn Street’ – the army initially used his widow’s maiden name in error.  The effects were listed as,
‘Watch, ring, wrist strap, cigarette case & lighter, scissors, purse, pipe, cigarettes, razor (in case), belt, pocket wallet, letters, photos, 3 treasure bags, parcel (unopened), writing pad, field message, wool helmet, mirror, disc.’

On receipt of these, his widow wrote to the War Office,
‘Dear Sir, I am writing to ask why the money order for £1-8-1 ½ d, 1 Franc piece, 1 5 Frank note was not forwarded to me with the other effects of my late husband.  I know they were sent to the Records in D???? from Military Hospital Catterick Camp, Yorks, Dec 5th 1918.  I have a list of all the effects so shall be very much obliged if you will kindly see to this for me, hoping I shall hear soon, Yours truly, E M Russell.’

His widow, Esther Mary Russell, was authorised to receive a pension.  She later re-married with James Albert Tame on 18 September 1923 at the Baptist Church, Rugby.   Esther was then 38, a widow, and had moved to 37 Benn Street, Rugby.

James was 50, a widower and estimating engineer (of 40 York Street, Rugby).  He was born 4 April 1873, son of James Ottoway Tame and Rosetta, née James, Tame.  He had married Kate Cook on 31 July 1897 and they were both living in Kingston on Thames in 1901, but had moved to ‘Strathmore’, Temple Street, Rugby before 1911.

Frederick and Esther’s daughter, Jessie Ester Russell, never married, but served in the WRNS during WW2.

Frederick’s younger brother, Ernest Henry Russell, who was born in 1896, also served in WW1.  He was probably a grocer’s assistant with the Co-Op at the time of his enlistment and later had his own shop, E. H. Russell, the Family Grocer, at 10 Henry Street, Rugby, opposite the Rugby Theatre.  He was a Private, No:266698, and was a signaller (or involved with communications) with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He was gassed, but survived, and sent to Somerset for treatment and recuperation.  There he met Dorothy May Hollyman from Clevedon and they were married in 1923.  Their grandson remembers him telling of repairing broken field telephone lines with paperclips.  Ernest died aged 77 in 1974.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick Arthur RUSSELL was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson.  Further information was provided by Martin Taylor,  Frederick Taylor would have been his Great Uncle had he survived the War.  The article is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2018.

 

[1]      It was at this hospital that Arthur GREATREX, from Rugby, was treated, prior to his death on 10 November 1918 – see ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 10 November 1918.

[2]      Implies a blue colour, particularly of the lips, a symptom when insufficient oxygen was reaching the body.

[3]      Qualifications for inclusion.  The Commission only commemorates those who have died during the designated war years, while in Commonwealth military service or of causes attributable to service.  Death in service included not only those killed in combat but other causes such as those that died in training accidents, air raids and due to disease such as the 1918 flu pandemic.  The applicable periods of consideration are 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921 for the First World War … The end date for the First World War period is the official end of the war, … Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth_War_Graves_Commission#Qualifications_for_inclusion.

[4]      Photograph provided by Frederick’s great-nephew, Martin Taylor.

Clements, Eustace Edwin. Died 12th Nov 1918

Eustace Edward CLEMENTS was the son of Charles Edwin, [b.c. 19 April 1866 in Wing, Buckinghamshire] and Mary Ellen, née Lee, Clements [b.c. 1865 in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire], who were married on 28 December 1891 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

Mary Ellen and her parents – Frederick, who was born in Hillmorton, and Jane Lee – had lived in Rugby at least from 1864 when Mary’s sister, Minnie, was born there and in 1871 and 1881, when they were living at 768 Old Station, Rugby.  In 1881, Mary Ellen was 21.

Mary Ellen returned to Rugby to have her first child, Eustace, whose birth was registered, as Eustace Edwin Clements, in Q1, 1893 in Rugby [Rugby, 6d, 577].  Eustace was baptised in Rugby at St Andrew’s church on 12 March 1893.  His military Service Record though, would later give his birth place as Northampton – his early home – and his second name as Edward – and indeed on one record his religion as Roman Catholic!

In 1901, the family were still living in Roade St. Mary, Buckinghamshire, with their children: Eustace E Clements, 8; Dorothy Clements, 6; Freddy Clements, 3; and Oscar Clements, 2.   In 1919 Sidney and Edwin Clements would be given as the names of his surviving brothers.

Before 1911, the family had moved back to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 33 Winfield Street, Clifton Road, Rugby.  Charles was working as a Railway Signal Fitter for the LNWR.  Eustace, now aged 18 was working, as an ‘engine fitter apprentice’, also with the LNWR.  His younger brother, Frederick, was 13 and still at school,

Eustace Clements. photo by permission of David Boult

There are two sets of surviving Service Records for Eustace – or Eustace Edward or Edward as he was known to the military.  One set of records of five pages, and one set of 23 pages, with some duplications.  There is also a Medal Card and his CWGC entry.  Unfortunately the Service Records are of very poor legibility in many cases, and parts are missing as they were probably recovered from the ‘burnt records’.

Eustace volunteered early for war service and was attested in Rugby on 31 August 1914.  When he enlisted he was 21 years and 232 days old.  He was 5 foot 11½ inches tall; weighed 160 lbs; had grey eyes and light brown hair, and his religion was Church of England.  He was certified ‘Fit for service in the Royal Garrison Artillery, RFA’.  He became a Gunner, No.1679, in the Royal Field Artillery.  His previous trade was listed as ‘fitter’.

From 31 August 1914 to 12 September 1917 one set of records suggest he was on a ‘Home’ posting – which would seem to be in conflict with other records, and omits one of his postings in France!

He was initially in 51st (R) Battery, R. F. A. and had various postings before the end of December 1914 and would later be promoted to Corporal.  On 1 September 1914 he was at Hilsea,[1] then on 9 September 1914 he was posted to ?13 Reserve Brigade, and on 15 December he was at Frome and on 17 December 1914 with ?/111 Battery.

His military career was not faultless.  On 29 March 1915 he was ‘absent without leave from 10pm 29/3/15 until 2pm 30/3/15, 16 hours’ and was admonished and forfeited one day’s pay.  Then at Winchester on 20 May 1915 he was ‘Absent from town piquet’ and was confined to barracks for two days.  On 10 September 1915 at Lille Barracks,[2] he was ‘Absent from base [or ‘leave’?] 12 noon to 4.30 pm, 4½ hrs.’ for which he received 7 days field punishment No 2.

On 28 May 1915 it seems he was posted to the B/113th Brigade, and was vaccinated in July 1915.  Although an alternative record stated that he went to France on 25 September 1915 after ‘home service’ of 1 year and 25 days, however, there is again confusion as Eustace’s Medal Card stated that he went to France on 20 September 1915.  He would, in either case, have been entitled to the 1914-1915 Star.

He served in France until 10 June 1917 [one record stated 1916!] as on 7 June 1917 he was wounded and was evacuated first to 20th General Hospital, Dannes Camiers, and then ‘Home’ by ship on 11 June 1917 and admitted to the Horton War Hospital with ‘Gun S W right forefinger crushed, contusions of leg’.  He was discharged on 17 July 1917, however another report notes ‘Finger healed but distal joint stiff.  Has [morn]ing massage.  Sent to Command Depot’.

Indeed, he was posted to the Command Depot at Rippon on 28 July 1917 and then posted to 56th Reserve Brigade on 31 August 1917 until 12 September 1917.   He was then posted back to France on 13 September 1917 and seems to have been moved to A/307 Brigade from Base on 26 September 1917, and then to A/306 Brigade F. A. on 8 November 1917.

On 12 December 1917 he was wounded again, presumably comparatively slightly as he was discharged on 17 December 1917.

On 9 May 1918 he was wounded yet again and apparently suffered a ‘… Shell wound severe …’ and was evacuated back to England on 10 May 1918.  On arrival ‘Home’ on 11 May 1918, he was initially admitted to Southwark Military Hospital, London S.E.[3] being treated for ‘… ? gas shell poisoning?’ until 16 July 1918, when he was sent to the Convalescence Hospital,  Eastbourne, until 10 August 1918.

On 19 August 1918 he was posted to 60th Reserve Battery, R.F.A. and granted ‘Leave with free warrant’.  Presumably he was now no longer fit for front line service as on 17 October 1918 he had a ‘compulsory transfer into the Labour Corps as Private, No.669461 at Sutton’.  This suggests that he had been medically rated below the ‘A1’ condition needed for front line service.

Being less than fully fit for service, it was perhaps not surprising that he was taken ill again, struck down by the flu epidemic was sweeping the world.  He died, aged 25, in the Horton War Hospital, Epsom, on 12 November 1918, from ‘Acute Bronchio-Pneumonia & Influenza’.

The second page of a telegram on 13 November 1918 confirms ‘F C Labour Corps 1 acute Lobar pneumonia 2 influenza Warspital Epsom’.  Only the name ‘Clements’ can be read on the first page.

After a funeral in Rugby, he was buried in Rugby’s Clifton cemetery in plot, J192, with a CWGC headstone as Gunner Eustace Edwin Clements, Royal Field Artillery,[4] Service Number, 1679.  The CWGC has him as aged 24.

His headstone also remembers his brother Frederick Clements who most probably died in a Prisoner of War camp near to Berlin.  His family’s chosen inscription on Eustace’s headstone reads: ‘Also in Memory of 307487 Corporal F. Clements Royal Warwickshire Regt. 24.10.18.’

Three items were published in the Rugby Advertiser on 23 November,[5] a report on his death and funeral; the family’s announcement of his death; and their ‘Acknowledgement’ and thanks to friends.

Mr C E and Mrs Clements, 33 Winfield Street, have lost their son, Gunner E E Clements, R.F.A. from pneumonia, under sad circumstances, after seeing a lot of service in France.  He worked as a fitter in the L & N-W Railway Sheds, and when war broke out he answered the first call, and joined Kichener’s Army  in August, 1914.  He served three years in France, and was twice badly wounded.  During the big German offensive in May this year he was gassed.  On recovering he returned to his regiment, when he was called out of the ranks and told that he would have his discharge in two days’ time after good service.  On the following day he was struck down with influenza, which developed into pneumonia, to which he succumbed on the 14th inst.  The funeral took place at rugby Cemetery on Saturday last.  He was borne to the grave by six of his former workmates, and a large number of flowers testified to the esteem in which he was held

CLEMENTS. – On the 12th inst., at Horton War Hospital, Epsom, Eustace Edwin, the dearly beloved eldest son of C. E. & M. E. Clements, Gunner, R.F.A., of “flu” and pneumonia; aged 25 years. – Deeply mourned.’

MR & MRS CLEMENTS & FAMILY wish to thank all kind Friends and Neighbours for sympathy shown to them in their bereavement; also for all floral tributes sent.

Eustace is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also on the Rugby Loco Steam Shed Memorial,[6]

In July 1919 his father filled in the declaration of next of kin, and on 19 September 1919 Eustace’s effects were sent from Nottingham to his father’s solicitors in Rugby.  They included,
‘Correspondence, Wallet, Photos, Badge, Holdall, 3 Razors In Cases, 2 Toothbrushes, 2 Shaving Brushes, Button Stick, Housewife, Meal Cards, Letters, Shaving Soap, Pencil, Disc, Bag, ?Piece Bread Pouch, Cig Papers, Watch Strap, Tin Tablets, 2 Button Brushes, 3 Handkerchiefs, Metal Pins, Hairbrush, Mirror, Wound Stripe, 4 Blue Chevrons, 2 Pocket Books.’

The family were then living at 33 Winfield Street, Rugby.  It seems that his mother received a separation allowance of 5 shillings per week.

Eustace was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star which were sent to his father in 1922.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Eustace Edwin Clements 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, November 2017.

[1]      Hilsea Lines includes 18th- and 19th-century fortifications built to protect the northern approach to Portsea.

[2]      The Lille Barracks were one of the six barracks in the Aldershot Marlborough Lines which were built in about 1890; the Lille barracks were demolished in 1958.

[3]      St Saviour’s Infirmary in East Dulwich Grove … was built in 1887 by the Guardians of the Poor of the parish of St Saviour’s, Southwark.  The Royal Army Medical Corps took over control of the infirmary in East Dulwich Grove on 11 November 1915, which at the insistence of the guardians was named Southwark Military Hospital.  The hospital was fully equipped for 800 patients … the existing Medical Superintendent Dr A  Bruce was appointed the rank of Major and served as its Officer in charge for most of the three and half years the hospital was used by the military. … Altogether 12,522 wounded and sick servicemen were cared for at Southwark Military Hospital of whom [only] 119 died; a very small percentage of those admitted and a tribute to the skill of the doctors, surgeons and nurses.  See http://www.dulwichsociety.com/2010-summer/532-southwark-military-hospital.

[4]      Whilst Eustace had later been in the Labour Corps, this Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organization, and the men who died are typically commemorated under their original Regiment, with the Labour Corps being secondary.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 23 November 1918.

[6]      From a report of the unveiling, Rugby Advertiser, 11 March 1921; see also https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-loco-steam-shed-memorial.

Coleman, Duncan Reginald. Died 11th Nov 1918

Duncan Reginald COLEMAN was born in Wardington, Oxfordshire on 27 August 1894, and baptised there on 2 December 1894.  He was the second son of George Henry Coleman [a plasterer, b.c.1856 in Warmington, Warwickshire] and Emily, née Treadwell, Coleman [b.c.1864 in Wardington, Oxfordshire].

In 1901 the family were living at the ‘Red Lion Beer House’, in Wardington, probably following in part the family trade – as George Henry’s father had been an innkeeper in Milcomb.  George Henry was however still working as a ‘plasterer’.

At some date before 1911, the family moved to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 102 Lawford Road, which seems to have been later defined as 102 Dunsmore Terrace, Lawford Road, Rugby.  George Henry was now 55 and his wife Emily was 45.  They had had nine children, but one had died and it seems that one had already left home.  However, seven children were still living at home: Muriel Blanche Coleman was 24; Mary Olive Coleman, 21; Albert Victor Coleman, 18; Duncan Reginald Coleman, was now 16 and already working as a moulder in an Iron Foundry; Ida Cerise Coleman was 12; Stanley Winston Coleman, 11; and Lena Emily Coleman, was 8.

A somewhat complicated set of Service Records survives for Reginald, as it seems he had a number of postings and was also wounded.  Together with various other surviving documents it is possible to provide an outline of his military career.

In summary he was:                                                                                        Days
Home              17 – 4 – 16 to 15 – 7 – 16                         90
BEF France     16 – 7 – 16 to 10 – 5 – 17                      299
Home              11 – 5 – 17 to 22 – 12 – 17                    226
BEF France     23 – 12 – 17 to 11 – 11 – 18                  324
Total    2 years 209 days

He was living at 102 Lawford Road, Rugby, when he first signed up at Warwick[1] for General Service, posted to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and then posted on 18 April 1916 as a Private, No.18102 in the 11th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR).  He was 21 years and 7 months (or 210 days!) old, 5ft 6¼ inches tall, single and working as a ‘moulder’.

He was transferred as a Private to the ‘Expeditionary Force France’ on 16 July 1916 and embarked for France on 19 July 1916.  On 24 July 1916 he was posted to 11th Bn. RWR, ‘In the Field’.

He was wounded in action with a ‘GSW chest sev’ [Gun Shot Wound to the Chest Severe] on 23 April 1917, and on 3 May 1917 he was ‘adm 4 Gen H’ [Admitted to 4th General Hospital] at ‘Dannes Camier’.[2]  He was then transferred to England on the ‘HS [Hospital Ship] Cambria’ two days later on 11 May 1917, being transferred to the Home Depot that day.

He was admitted to the Eastern General Hospital, Edmonton for 21 days from 11 May to 1 June 1917 and this was extended for a further 10 days from 1 June to 11 June 1917 for the same ‘GSW Chest’ at the Edmonton Military Hospital – probably the same hospital, but with different stamps!!  After these periods, he was pronounced ‘Cured – No FB prelit? or disability – furlough thence CD’ [probably ‘Command Depot’].

On 22 October 1917, he was posted to the Essex Regiment, and on 28 October 1917, he was re-posted as a Private, No.45263 to the 17th Battalion, Essex Regiment at Dover.  On 22 December 1917 he went overseas again from Weybourne, by way of Folkestone on 23 December, arriving in Boulogne to join the BEF on the 24 December 1917.  On the same day he was transferred ‘in the field’ to the Royal Engineers, as a Pioneer, No.358639 and on 27 February 1918 to the Royal Engineers, No.4 Foreway Company, ‘at RE Rates’ from 28 February 1918.

Later that year, on 19 September 1918, he was ‘temporarily and compulsorily’ transferred to the Railways sub-unit in the Transportation Branch RE and from 20 September became a Pioneer with the 234th Light Railway Field Company and allotted a new regimental number: WR/358639.  The letters ‘WR’ stood for ‘Waterway and Railways’.  The 234th (Forward) Company was formed in France and operated there.

The formation of the RE Light Railway Companies in early 1917 was an innovation that was one of the factors that transformed the operational abilities of the army.  Goods and men could now make the last leg of the journey to the front by light rail.  Until that time, ammunition supply in particular had been subject to delays and required vast numbers of men and horses, and the light railways helped overcome both problems.  Traffic and wear on the roads and tracks leading up to the front was eased, and fewer men were required to repair them. … The Company consisted of approximately 200 men, … Drivers, Brakesmen, Guards, Wagon Repairers, Repair Shop Engineers, Traffic Controllers and Storesmen.   There were few officers among this number … The job … was to run the trains, with the tracks being laid by RE Railway Construction Companies – often with the assistance of whatever Labour Corps Company or ‘resting’ infantry were at hand.[3]

At some stage, presumably in early November, he became unwell and was transferred to No. 29 Casualty Clearing Station, which was then stationed at Delsaux Farm.  It was from there that his death was reported, ‘Died – Influenza – 11.11.1918’.  He died of Pneumonia on ‘Armistice Day’, 11 November 1918, aged 25, at ‘29 CCS’.  A confirmatory report in his Service Record, from the Captain RAMC, Medical Specialist, 29 CC Station, read,
358639 Pnr Colemen DR, 234 Light Forward Railway Co. RE
The a/m man died from Influenza followed by Broncho-Pneumonia & heart failure.
The disease was brought about by exposure whilst on military service in France.

Duncan was first buried in the Beugny Military Cemetery No.18, which had been made by the Germans after their Operation Michael[4] advances in March 1918 near the village crossroads.

Later, the German graves were removed, and in 1920, the British burials were exhumed and reburied at the Delsaux Farm Cemetery, adjacent to the Casualty Clearing Station.  Duncan was reburied  in grave reference: III. A. 17.  His gravestone bears the family message ‘Greater Love Hath No Man’.

A draft and copy of a letter sent to Duncan’s father is with his Service Record.

Royal Engineers, Record Office, Chatham  –  16 June 1920

Sir, 

I beg to inform you that in accordance with the agreement with the French and Belgian Governments to remove all scattered graves, small cemeteries containing less than 40 graves and certain other cemeteries which were situated in places unsuitable for permanent retention, it has been found necessary to exhume bodies buried in certain areas and re-inter them, therefore the body of your late son, No. WR/284262, Pioneer, D. R. Colemen, R. E., has been removed and re-buried in DELSAUX FARM BRITIH CEMETERY, 3 ¾ miles E. of BAPAUME.

The necessity for removal is much regretted but was unavoidable for reasons stated above.

The removal has been undertaken with every measure of care and reverence and special arrangements have been made for the appropriate religious services to be held.

I am, Yours faithfully,          for Colonel i/c R. E. Records.

The cemetery is near the village of Beugny, in Pas de Calais, France, some 19 kilometres south-west of Cambrai.

Delsaux Farm was a point on the German defensive system known as the Beugny-Ytres line, which was reached by Commonwealth troops on 18 March 1917, and passed on the following day. The farm was lost on 23 March 1918 after the gallant defence of Beugny by the 9th Welsh Regiment and their withdrawal, but it was retaken by the 5th Division on 2 September 1918, and on the next day the same division occupied Beugny village.  After their advance in March 1918, the Germans made a cemetery (Beugny Military Cemetery No.18) at the cross-roads, and in it buried 103 Commonwealth and 82 German dead.  The site was extended in October-November 1918 by the 29th and 46th Casualty Clearing Stations, which came to Delsaux Farm and made the present cemetery.  A little later, the German graves of March 1918 were removed and the 103 Commonwealth dead reburied in Plot I, Row J, Plot II, Row A, and Plot III, Rows B, C and D.  The rest of the cemetery was made when graves were later brought in from the battlefield. … The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[5]

Duncan Reginald COLEMAN was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on his CWGC gravestone at Delsaux Farm Cemetery, Beugby. 

Duncan’s outstanding pay of £24-3-8d was paid to his ‘Fa[ther] & Sole Leg[atee] George H’ on 12 April 1919, and note stated that this was ‘Including War Grant £14-10-0’.  On 17 April 1919 his property was returned to the family: ‘Letters; Shaving brush; Badge; Photos; Wallet’.

His elder brother Albert Victor Coleman, signed up on 12 December 1915, and also served initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, as No.3098, and later in the Royal Berkshire Regiment as No.44920.  He survived the war.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Duncan Reginald COLEMAN 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, October 2018.

 

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

[2]      The No 4 General Hospital was at St Nazaire in September 1914; at Versailles from September 1914 to January 1916; at Camiers, when Duncan Coleman was admitted, from January 1916 to April 1919; and at Dunkerque from April 1919 to November 1919.

[3]      https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-corps-of-royal-engineers-in-the-first-world-war/light-railway-operating-companies-of-the-royal-engineers/.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[5]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/23600/delsaux-farm-cemetery,-beugny/.

Laughton, David. Died 10th Nov 1918

David LAUGHTON was born in Rugby on 10 – or possibly 11 – October 1890He was the third child and second son of George Varnsvay Laughton (b.c. Q3, 1859 in Lutterworth) and Eliza Ellen, née Allen, Laughton (b.c.1863 in Attleborough, near Minestay, Warwickshire), who were married on 25 December 1885 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby when George was living at 25 Cambridge Street, Rugby.

In 1887 when their daughter Emily was baptised the Laughton family had moved to 130 Cambridge Street, Rugby.  George was a ‘painter’.  For the 1891 census, David had ‘arrived’ and was 5 months old, the youngest of three children all born in Rugby, and the family was now living at 2 James Street.  His father was a ‘Painter L&NW Wagon Depot’.

It seems that the family then moved for some six years to Earlestown, Lancashire, where a son, Joseph Edward was born in about 1892, and a daughter Lilian May in 1896.  They moved back to Rugby before the birth of their son, George in about 1900.  In 1901, they were living at 25 Abbey Street, Rugby, and David’s father was still a ‘Railway Wagon Painter’.

By 1911, the growing family had moved to a six room house at 147 Oxford Street, Rugby.  David’s parents had been married for 25 years and they had had eight children, of whom seven were still living.  They had entered Evelyn, b.c.1898, with status ‘dead’ on the census and then realised their error and deleted her – they would not realise how useful such ‘errors’ would be to future research.

Also entered at the end of the list of children was a William Allen Laughton, born in Attleborough in about 1882, it would seem that this was Eliza’s son, from before her marriage, who had probably been adopted into the family, although no definite trace of him has yet been found, in earlier censuses, either as an Allen or a Laughton.

In 1911, David Laughton was now 21, single and working as a ‘Clerk (Engineer’s)’ at Willans and Robinson.  He may have been involved in ‘War Work’ and thus did not join up early in the war.

He married Barbara S Mochril in Rugby in Q3, 1918, and her later address was also given as 147 Oxford Street, Rugby, the Laughton family home.

It would appear from his Royal Navy Record card that soon after his marriage, he joined the Navy as No: M/34139 in the Portsmouth Division on 15 October 1918, for the ‘period of hostilities’.

When he joined he was 5ft 5inches tall, with a 32 inch chest, dark blond hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.  His Record for his very short period of service stated that he had a ‘VG’ [very good] character and a ‘Sat’ [Satisfactory] ability.

He served on Victory I, as a ‘Writer 3rd Class’.[1]  He was probably still working as a Clerk in a ‘Pay Office’ in Portsmouth,

It seems likely that ‘Victory I’ was a base depot at Portsmouth, probably used as an accounts office dealing with pay.  It does not seem to be listed in WWI, but was at Goodings near Newbury as an Accounting Base from September 1940 in WWII.  The 1866 Naval Discipline Act stated ‘Ships of War’ in its text, and to ensure that that Act could be applied to Shore Bases, they had to have a named parent ship.  Hence Victory for the shore base at Portsmouth.[2]

Sadly, only some three weeks after he had enlisted and the day before the war ended, he died of Pneumonia in Haslar Naval Hospital.

His ‘Cause of Death’ was given as code ‘3’, and elsewhere as ‘Died from Disease’.[3]  Another record is more specific, and states that he died from ‘Bronchial phneumonia’ – quite possibly as a result of the ‘Flu’ that was sweeping the world.

He was buried in the Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport, Hampshire, in grave ref: 37 11.  The cemetery is also known as Clayhall Royal Naval Cemetery.

‘During both wars, Gosport was a significant sea port and Naval depot, with many government factories and installations based there, as well as the Haslar Naval Hospital.  …  Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, which was attached to the Naval Hospital of 2,000 beds, contains 772 First World War graves, 2 of which are unidentified.  Most are scattered throughout the cemetery, …’[4]

David Laughton’s CWGC memorial headstone has no additional family inscription.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

His widow, Barbara, married again.  Her marriage with William C Keep was registered in Edmonton,  Middlesex  in Q1, 1923.  David’s mother died in Rugby aged 69 in 1934; his father, also in Rugby, in 1952

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on David LAUGHTON 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, September 2018.

[1]      In WWI, a 1st Class Writer was classed Petty Officer, 2nd Class Writer a Leading Rate and 3rd Class an Able Rate.

[2]      Edited from: http://www.gwpda.org/naval/rnshore.htm.

[3]      UK, Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/2044620/haslar-royal-naval-cemetery/.