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.

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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 

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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.

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Varnish, Arthur Thomas. Died 4th Nov 1918

Arthur Thomas VARNISH was born in Aston, Birmingham, in 1896 and his birth was registered in Q3, 1896 in Aston.  He was the eldest and only son, of Arthur James Varnish (b.c.1870 in Malvern, Worcestershire) and Emma, née Warden, Varnish, (b.c.1874 in Coventry), who were married on 21 August 1895 at St. Thomas’s church, Coventry,

In 1881 Arthur’s grandfather was a joiner and lived at the ‘British Workman’ – possibly a Temperance Inn in Malvern.  However, before 1882 they had moved to Leamington, and then before 1886 to Rugby, and in 1891 and 1901 the family were living at 49 James Street, Rugby.

Arthur’s parents were married in Coventry in 1895 and their first two children, Arthur and Nellie were born in Birmingham in 1896 and about 1900.  By 1901, now with the two young children, they had moved to live at 20 Ashley Terrace, Potter Newton, Yorkshire and Arthur’s father, was a ‘Cycle enameller and liner’.  They soon moved back south and Winifred was born in Coventry in about 1903, and Beatrice in Rugby in 1905.

By 1911, when Arthur was 14, and still at school, the family seem to have become more established in Rugby and they were living at the Peacock Inn, 33 Newbold Road, Rugby, and his father was now a ‘Licensed Victualler and Innkeeper’.  Arthur’s uncle, his father’s younger brother, Oscar William Varnish, a ‘toolmaker’, who had been born in Rugby in about 1884, was also there, at least on census night, confirming the earlier family connection with the town.  

Before the war Arthur became an apprentice at BTH, and worked in the BTH Pattern Shop.  He enlisted early from BTH, in late August 1914, when he was still under his apprenticeship, which was not due to expire until 23 September 1917, but he had a ‘permit to go’.  His name is among the many who enlisted from the BTH,

Rugby’s Magnificent Response ‘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 :- … Varnish, …’.[1]

Arthur’s Service Record survives in the Pension Records.  Arthur had a dark complexion, dark hair and blue eyes.  He was 5ft 6¼ inches tall and weighed 150 lbs.  His religion was Church of England.

He enlisted in Rugby[2] on 31 August 1914, when he was 18 years and 78 days old, as Rifleman No:A/3655, in the 7th Battalion, the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC).

7th (Service) Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps was formed at Winchester on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division.  It moved to Aldershot, going on to Grayshott in November and in February 1915 went to Bordon.  It then returned to Aldershot in March 1915 and then on 19 May 1915 the battalion landed at Boulogne.

Arthur thus first entered service at Winchester, being posted on 3 August 1914, to ‘D’ Company of the 7th Battalion (Bn.) of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps which was then being formed.  Initially without equipment or arms of any kind, the recruits were judged to be ready by May 1915, although their move to the fighting front was delayed by lack of rifle and artillery ammunition.  Arthur had served 261 days on Home Service up to 18 May 1915 before going to France.

Arthur’s Medal Card, and his Service Record, shows that he went to France with his Battalion on 19 May 1915, and he thus earned the 1914-15 Star.  He would be on the Western Front for 255 days.

Soon after arrival the 14th (Light) Division, which included the 7th KRRC had the misfortune to be in action at Hooge[3] on 30 July 1915, where they were the first troops to be attacked by German flamethrowers.  During that action, at least four members of the 7th KRRC from Rugby were killed,[4] as well as several Rugby men who were serving in other Battalions.  It was one of the worst day’s loss of Rugby’s men in WWI.

Later in 1915, the Battalion was in action in the Second Attack on Bellewaarde Farm[5] on 25 September 1915, ‘Rugby’s Worst Day’,[6] when eight Rugby men, from the 5th Battalion, the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were killed, and later during 1916, the 7th Battalion would be in action at the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

However, Arthur was not in France for much of 1916, and the Battalion War Diary[7] can be consulted for the conditions experienced by him in late 1915 and early 1916 before he was hospitalised.

1st to 4.12.15 – A HUTS, Vlanertingh – Battalion resting.  A great deal of rain …

5th – Trenches shelled intermittently from 8am to 4pm. … part of trench being completely blown in … owing to the continual wet the trenches are in a worse state than ever … 2 OR Killed, 5 wounded.

8th – Very heavy bombardment on sector … relieved in evening by 8th RB … 10 OR Killed & 23 Wounded.

9th to 12th – A. Camp, W of Poperinge – Bn. in huts at A Camp – Very wet and muddy.

14th – Heavy shelling … 8 OR killed, 14 OR wounded.

15th – … our heavy batteries bombarded enemy … heavy retaliation … 2 OR killed, 11 OR wounded.

16th – Continuous bombardment by enemy … 2 OR killed, 11 OR wounded.  On night of 16th relieved by Bedford Rgt … moved by train from Asylum to B huts, W of Poperinge.’

The month continued in a similar manner with ORs killed and wounded on most days.

‘December 1915 – Average weekly strength was 867 Other Ranks [OR].  During the month there were admitted to Hospital – 1 Officer and 124 OR.   Discharged from Hospital – 38 ORs.  Sick evacuated from Divisional Area – 1 Officer and 67 ORs.  The majority of cases evacuated were men suffering from “Trench Feet”.’

In January a similar pattern followed with a few days in the trenches, and then a few days back in huts or tents at camp.

‘Jan 8th – Glympse Cottage Trenches – … taking over … from 7th RB and … 8th RB. … 3 OR wounded.

9th   – 1 OR killed, 1 OR wounded.

10th – 8 OR wounded.

11th – 1 OR wounded, 1 OR killed.

12th – 1 OR wounded.

13th – Relieved by 8 RB … into huts and tents in No 1 Camp 3 miles NE of Poperinge – on the whole a good camp …

16th – Bn. relieved 8th RB in trenches … 1 OR killed, 5 OR wounded.

17th – 10 OR killed, 2 OR wounded.

26th – … 1 OR wounded.

27th – 10 OR killed, 2 OR wounded.

28th – 1 OR wounded’

‘January 1916 – Average weekly strength was Officers – 25, Other Ranks – 939.  During the month there were admitted to Hospital – 59 ORs.  Discharged from Hospital – 16 ORs.  Evacuated from Divisional Area – 25 ORs.’

Arthur Varnish would have been among those evacuated from the Divisional Area, probably in about mid-January.  He was seemingly suffering from the combined effects of a shell explosion, possibly a gas shell; burial by the explosion; bronchitis from being stood up to his waist in water in a trench; and the cold wet conditions.  He would probably have been passed to a Regimental Aid Post or Dressing Station, and was then was in a Base Hospital at Etaples.  He was sent back to UK on 28 January 1916.

The seriousness of his condition can be judged by his length of stay in the Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield.  He was there from 29 January until 9 March 1916 with ‘Neurothoxia.[8]   It was reported that the –
‘Condition followed effects of burial due to shell explosion – is improved and would be fit for light duties at Command Depot.’

Then three weeks later he was readmitted to the Winchester Hospital for seven days from 29 March with ‘Bronchitis – mild’.  He was discharged on 3 April 1916 and then posted to the 5th Bn.[9] – a depot and training unit – on 26 May.

After some three months, on 25 July 1916, he was discharged as unfit for service under ‘Clause 392, XVI[10] – No longer physically fit for war service’, with a ‘very good’ character, and received a pension of 6/3d per week from 21 July 1916.  He had served for ‘1 year and 330 days’.  After his discharge he was awarded a Silver War Badge, No: 96716, to show that he had served and was not avoiding war service.

Arthur still had to appear at Medical Boards to determine his degree of disability and pension status.  His medical records in September 1916 stated,
Cause of Discharge: Med unfit, Chronic Bronchitis.  Origin – Dec 1915 – La Bride – States he was up to his waist in the water of trench & then he reported sick.  Sent to hospital at Etaples.  Has rales[11] all over chest & tubulus breathing.[12]  Chronic cough & short of breath on (slight) exertion.  Partly due to Active Service (Exposure).  Permanently prevents ¼.  20.9.16.  Re-examine in 4 months.’

He was subject to further medical boards on 21 March 1917 and 19 September 1917 and it appears that his condition continued – ‘Prevents 25% at present.’  At that date he was no longer at a Rugby address but was living ‘c/o Mrs Austin, 101 Pevensey Road, Eastbourne’.  Perhaps it was considered that the sea air would be advantageous to his condition.

There is a further note ‘For Interim Award pending receipt of Medical Report applied for 28.8.18, A47 sent 26.10.18’ and two days later ‘Sending receipt of Medical Report 28.10.18.  Expires 10.12.18.’  A ‘Report of Med. Bd. 31.10.18. Prevents 30%.’.

However, soon after that last medical assessment, he died, on 4 November 1918, at Eastbourne, Sussex, presumably from further complications – although he could also have been a victim of the ‘Flu’ that swept the world at the end of  and after WWI.  His death certificate would no doubt clarify this.  His body was returned to his family in Rugby and buried in the Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery in Plot: J180.  As he had served in the War and died as a result of War Service, he has a CWGC memorial headstone, however no additional family inscription was engraved on it.

The Rugby Advertiser reported his death,
VARNISH – On November 4th, at Eastbourne, ARTHUR THOMAS, beloved son of Mr. & Mrs. Varnish, aged 22 years.[13]

Arthur James Varnish’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and that he also won the 1914-1915 Star.

He is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the CWGC headstone on his grave in the Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[14]

On 17 August 1920, his father was sent his £8-10s War Gratuity.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Arthur James VARNISH 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]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914, and https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

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

[3]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/30th-jul-1915-battle-of-hooge-crater/.

[4]      Riflemen, John Henry PRESTON, R/78; William TOMLINSON, R/79; and Herbert SMITH, R/1621; and Lance-corporal, Albert Edward WATTS, R/160.  See ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 30 July 1915 for their biographies.

[5]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/second-battle-of-bellewaarde-farm-25th-sep-1915/.

[6]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/rugbys-worst-day-preview/.

[7]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 14th Division, Piece 1896/3: 7 Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps (1915 May – 1918 Jan).

[8]      Assuming this is the correct interpretation of the doctor’s writing – this can be an effect from military gasses, and it seems quite likely that the shell that buried Arthur was a gas shell.

[9]      A depot/training unit, which moved on mobilisation to Sheerness and remained in that area throughout the war.  It was part of the Thames & Medway Garrison.

[10]     Paragraph 392 of King’s Regulations 1912 – In WW1, King’s Regulations for the Army set out the official causes of discharge, in sub-paragraphs from (i) to (xxvii), omitting (xvii).  In 1919 a new cause was introduced – (xxviii) – ‘On demobilization’.

[11]     Rales are abnormal lung sounds characterized by discontinuous clicking or rattling sounds.

[12]     Tubular Breathing is a symptomatic sound, when listening to the chest, of ‘bronchial breathing’ and is abnormal.

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

[14]     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.

10th Feb 1917. Vicar of St Matthews not going to France

VICAR OF ST. MATTHEW’S NOT GOING TO FRANCE.

The Rev C T Aston, vicar of St Matthew’s, who had made full arrangements to work in France for four months under the auspices of the Soldiers’ Christian Association, was notified by the society last week that the Government had withdrawn all permits to civilian passengers to France, so that he will be unable to go, as anticipated. Mr Aston is naturally much disappointed, as he was looking forward to doing useful service at the Front. We understand that the Rev P E Warrington (curate at St Matthew’s), who will be leaving Rugby in a few weeks, had arranged with the Vicar and the Bishop of Worcester to stay in charge of the parish during Mr Aston’s absence.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Major J L Baird, M.P, C.M.G, D.G.O, is announced as Parliamentary Secretary of the Air Board.

Mr F J Paxton, formerly on the office staff of the Co-operative Society, has now been accepted in the Army Pay Corps, and is at present stationed at Warwick. He was organist at Lilbourne and Brownsover, and deputy choirmaster at Crick.

Mr Walter Howkins has received a letter from Sergt H K Marriott, of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, who was formerly a pupil in his office. Writing from Palestine, he gives some interesting particulars of their mode of life, and, referring to some of his comrades, he says young Briscoe from Dunchurch has been badly wounded. Squadron Sergt-Major J Tait is very well, and an excellent soldier. Capt E G Pemberton, of Claybrooke, had been slightly wounded. He adds : “ I am trying to got a commission in the Northampton Yeomanry, and hoped to hear something about it before long.

ANOTHER ST MATTHEW’S OLD BOY KILLED.

Information has come to hand that Pte T Chater, 9th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on January 24th. Pte Chater, whose home was at 7 Plowman Street, was an old scholar of St Matthew’s School, and enlisted early in the war.

VOLUNTEER FORCE.

The first medical inspection for the Rugby Volunteer Corps under the new regulations was held on Sunday afternoon last, when 92 members presented themselves with satisfactory results. Nearly the whole of the men signed on for service for the period of the War, and the recent letter of the King calling on men to join the Force who are over military ago or prevented from joining the Army should have the effect of considerable swelling the ranks of the Corps.

THE VICTORY WAR LOAN.

The indicator on the Clock Tower has commenced its second round, and yesterday (Friday) morning it showed that during the week a further sum of £6,500 had been subscribed to the new 5 per cent Loan or War Savings Certificates. The total, £14,600, represents small amounts from £50 down to 3d paid in either : through the Post Office, the Bureau at the Benn Buildings, or the War Savings Certificates Clubs.

Considerable further amounts have been invested through the local Banks.

Among the amounts published are : Bluemel Bros, Wolston, £40,000 ; Lodge Sparking Plug Co, Rugby, £25,000.

MUNITIONS TRIBUNAL.—At the Coventry Tribunal on Monday, J T Lamb, employed at a Rugby factory, applied for a leaving certificate, which was refused. Lamb had refused to work on until his case was heard, and a month had already elapsed, so that only two weeks remained to complete his six weeks’ waiting time.

TANKS FILM AT THE EMPIRE.—Next week, thanks the enterprise of Mr B Morris, of the Empire, Rugby people will have the opportunity of seeing the Tanks as our brave soldiers saw them going into action against the enemy. The Tank film, which is even more enthralling in its illuminating detail than the Great Somme Film, shows every phase of the great Battle of the Ancre, including the thrilling moment of attack. The Tanks are shown from their start to their triumphant return, and the spectators are able to watch them creeping from their hiding-places and follow them till they cross the trenches and wonder over “ No Man’s Land,” and crush down the German wire entanglements. Everywhere the film has attracted large crowds, and there is no doubt that Rugby people will avail themselves of the privilege of gaining an impression of war conditions in France.

 

30th Dec 1916. Military Cross for Old St Matthew’s Boy

MILITARY CROSS FOR OLD ST. MATTHEW’S BOY.

The Military Cross has been awarded to Capt Tom Marriott, son of the late Mr J Marriott, who resided at Stratford-on-Avon for nearly 40 years.

Capt Marriott was in charge of a small post at Malingali, East Africa, and being attacked by superior German forces under General Wahle, put up an unexpected resistance. He held the post for four days, until the arrival of a relief force, which drove General Wahle’s forces back. Capt Marriott was promptly awarded the Military Cross.

Capt Marriott was a scholar at St Matthew’s School, under the late Mr Phillips. He was a Lieutenant in the United States Army at that time of the Spanish-American War, subsequently volunteering in the British army for the Boer War. He was one of the first to ride into Ladysmith at the relief of that town, and rose to the rank of Captain in the South African Light Horse. Since the Boer War he has been engaged in farming in South Africa, and on the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, again volunteered for active service, and was engaged with General Botha in German West Africa. On the subjugation of that colony his regiment was transferred to German East Africa. He was wounded in the arm at Malingali in July, the same place where in December he has gained the distinction of the award of the Military Cross.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Mr PC Longney, deputy-organist at Catthorpe Parish Church, and a member of the choir of St Andrew’s Church, Rugby, has joined the A.S.C, and is proceeding to France this week.

LOCAL CASUALTIES.

HOWITZER BATTERY MAN KILLED.

Mrs Ingram, of 68 Victoria Street, New Bilton, has just received official information from the War Office that her son, Driver E (Ben) Ingram, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, was killed by a shell on December 8th. He was an old New Bilton Council School boy and a former member of the Boys’ Brigade, in which he was a stretcher bearer. He had been a member of the Howitzer Battery for six years, and prior to the outbreak of the war was an assistant in Mr J J McKinnell’s shop. He was 22 years of age, and was held in high esteem by all who knew him. In a letter to his parents, Capt Lister says : “ I can assure you that his death came as a great blow to the Battery. He was a great favourite, and always willing to do any work that was to be done. Personally, I feel the blow very much. He had been my servant ever since the Battery left England, and I know full well what a very good fellow he was.” Mrs Ingram has three other sons serving, or who have served. Corpl B Ingram, Coldstream Guards, who has gone all through the present War, is well known in local football circles ; Corpl T Ingram, R.W.R, has served since the commencement of the War ; and Corpl R Ingram, of the same regiment, has been discharged through injuries received on active service.

VICAR OF ST. MATTHEW’S GOING TO THE FRONT.

Arrangements have been made for the Rev C T Aston, vicar of St Matthew’s, to take charge of a hut in France, under the auspices of the Soldiers’ Christian Association. He expects to leave Rugby in the second or third week of January, and will probably be away for five or six months. The hut to be placed under Mr Aston’s charge is a new one, now approaching completion, and is nearer the trenches than any others provided by this association. Mr Aston will take with him the good wishes of his many friends in Rugby. During his absence the work at St Matthew’s will be under the care of the Rev P E Warrington (curate). The Rev Dr David and some of the masters at Rugby School have promised to help and other clergymen from a distance are giving assistance for week-ends.

THE WEATHER.

The weather during the Christmas season has been of a wintry character, but not exactly the kind that people usually like to see at this time of the years. Following a spell of frosty weather, there was a considerable fall of snow on Friday last week. On Saturday morning rain came down for a time, and this gradually changed to snow, and when this began to accumulate in a partly melted condition, roads and footpaths were before nightfall inches deep in slush, making it most uncomfortable for people to get about to do their shopping. During the night the remaining snow became frozen, and the surface was covered with ice. This state of affairs continued till Thursday, when a thaw set in. Vehicular traffic on the ice-bound roads was carried on with difficulty, and pedestrians found it necessary to walk with the greatest care. The temperature was not particularly low, but the air was at times very raw, and only for a few moments occasionally was a glimpse of the sum obtainable. On Wednesday there was a dense fog.

A FOOD INVENTORY.

The Food Control Department is engaged on an inventory of the national stocks, resources, and expected supplies of each of the principal articles of food. This is a necessary preliminary to the devising of plans for the equitable distribution of food, and when the stock-taking is completed, as it will be shortly, the exact form of these plans in the way of preventing wasteful and extravagant misuse of food will be devised. Meatless days and sugar rationing will be first taken into consideration.

SEED POTATOES.—Arrangements have been made by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries with the Treasury to finance a scheme for the distribution of seed potatoes. The President has invited the County War Agricultural Committees to request Borough and Urban Councils and Parish Councils to ascertain what quantity of seed potatoes is required in each village ; to collect cash with orders and to distribute seed. It is proposed that arrangements should be made to deliver the potatoes at convenient distributing centres in 1-cwt bags. Not more than 5-cwt may be supplied to each grower and the range of varieties will necessarily be limited

24 Oct 1914. News from the Front

HAVE GOT THE GERMANS “ SNOOKERED ”

Corpl A J Harris, son of Mr and Mrs A Harris, Dunchurch Road, has sent another letter home, stating that he is still fit and well. The situation in France is summed up in a phrase that billiard players will-readily understand : “ We have got the Germans ‘snookered’ and they know it.”

HORSE SHOT UNDER HIM.

Sergt W Judge, of the 20th Hussars, paid a surprise visit to his wife at 23 Jubilee Street, New Bilton, on Tuesday in last week, and remained until Saturday morning, when he returned to France. Sergt Judge, who as a reservist was called up on the outbreak of hostilities, was one of the first to be ordered to France, and was recently sent home with one of Field-Marshal Sir John French’s chargers. He took part in the Battle of Mons and the fighting round Arras, and in one engagement he had a very narrow escape, his horse being shot under him. Sergt Judge has only a very poor opinion of the much-vaunted German cavalry, and states that they will not face steady fire unless forced to do so. Their uniform in some cases is very much like that of the British Cavalry, the only distinguishing feature being the brass helmets, of the Prussians. Then, too, the British horses are far superior to any possessed by the enemy. The general contempt of Thomas Atkins for the German riflemen is shared by Sergt Judge, who states that they fire very rapidly, but register many more misses than hits. “ It is most amusing,” he adds, “ to see the British soldiers waiting in the trenches with folded arms in some instances for the Germans 300 yards away to shoot at them. Even under these circumstances it is very rarely that the Germans hit their man. During some of the engagements the Germans have outnumbered the British by 15 to 1 ; and Sergt Judge mentioned an incident which came under his notice, where 50 British completely annihilated 200 Germans. French tobacco does not meet with the sergeant’s approval, and he states that owing to the scarcity of matches the rays of the sun passed through a magnifying lens have had to be utilised for lighting pipes and cigarettes.

LOOTING AND ABUSE OF WHITE FLAG.

Gunner A G Turner, of the Royal Field Artillery, brother of Mr A Turner, newsagent, of Bridget Street, New Bilton, has recently written home ; and in an interesting account of his experiences at the front states that he has been in the thick of the fighting. “ We did our best,” the writer adds, “ and have been congratulated for our coolness, and every time we meet the Lincolns, the Scots, and others of our Brigade, they all say : “ Good old gunners ; let ’em have it.” Our section got into a tight corner, but we managed to get out unhurt. No infantry were near at the time, so we got a good gallop, and then we came into action and checked their advance again and again.” After asking to be supplied with tobacco and cigarettes, and also notepaper and envelopes, Gunner Turner continued : “ I shall never forget what I have seen and done. I have been gun-layer, and if I have seen one German drop from our shrapnel I have seen hundred. We caught them napping in one place, and as they could not get away they put up the white flag, but when our infantry advanced on them they started to open fire, and then we put the shell into them. That day we captured about 500 altogether. My word ! they have been looting the country—smashing doors and windows and taking everything they thought was any good ; but they soon move when we get into them.”

TERRIFYING “ BLACK MARIAS.”

Captain Clifford Aston, of the Royal Engineers, nephew to the Rev C T Aston, vicar of St Matthew’s, Rugby, has been under shell fire several times, and has given a vivid account of his experiences in a letter. He says : “ It is curious how terrifying the ‘Black Marias’ are. After we got out of their zone and into the shrapnel zone one felt comparatively safe, and did not mind much about them. The real reason for this is, I think, because the wounds caused by ‘Black Marias’ are so awful, and those of shrapnel comparatively slight. ‘Black Maria’ is a high explosive shell, made of thick steel from half to one inch thick. It is 8½ins in diameter and 2ft 6ins high. When it lands it bursts with terrific force, and smashes the case into hundreds of jagged splinters. If these hit one they tear great holes and pieces out of one. Pieces as big as the handle of a table knife will go right through a man, and other pieces 12ins by 4ins get thrown about with great force. It is the fear of those wounds that makes the effect, of the ‘Black Maria,’ as she does infinitely less actual damage than shrapnel shell, which only contains bullets that make clean holes.” Capt Aston has visited Rheims since the bombardment, and says that, although the cathedral is badly damaged, it is not the blackened ruin, with no roof and the walls half knocked down, one would expect to find, the structure being entirely undamaged, and stands there a beautiful building.