Stay, Arthur George. Died 21st Sep 1917

Arthur George STAY was born in Rugby in late 1883 or early 1884, his birth being registered there in the 4th Quarter of 1883.

He was the eldest of three sons of Stephen Stay [born in Longham; whose birth was registered in Q1, 1853 at Wimborne 5a, 284], and his wife, Mary Ann, née Hartnell [b.c.1854, Trull, Taunton]. They had married at Trull, Taunton on 27 December 1882. His father was a ‘plasterer’ and before 1883 they had moved to, and were living in Queen Street, Rugby.

Arthur was baptised on 20 April 1884 in Bilton, Rugby. His two younger brothers, Walter Edward [b. 10 June 1885], and Alfred William were both baptised later on 31 October 1886 at St Matthew’s church, Rugby.

In 1871, Arthur’s father, Stephen Stay, was a plasterer’s apprentice, aged 17, and lodging and working with another plasterer in Ringwood. He was later known for a period as Frederick.   This caused considerable confusion when researching the family, however, he when he later remarried – once again as Stephen Stay – he stated that his father had also been Stephen Stay, a joiner, which probably explains why he was known as Frederick in his younger days.

In 1891, Arthur George was 7 and his father was now enumerated as ‘Frederick’ Stay. His two younger brothers, Walter E, and Alfred W, were aged 5 and 4 respectively.   They were living at 25 Queen Street, Rugby.

In 1901, both Arthur and his brother Alfred were at home with their mother. Their father was presumably away working, and seems to have missed being enumerated. Arthur was now 17 and an ‘Apprentice Plasterer’ and the family were living at 61 Claremont Road, Rugby. His brother Walter was following the family trade as a 15 year old plaster’s apprentice, and was boarding in Newmarket.

Sadly, in later 1904, Arthur’s mother, Mary Annie Stay, died in Rugby aged 51. Some three years later, on 28 September 1907, his widower father remarried, now again as Stephen Stay, a ‘Master Plasterer’, with a widow, Kate, née Taylor, Mills at the Parish Chapel, in St Pancras, London.

Arthur married on 6 June 1906 at Tempsford in Bedfordshire with Emily Scrivener; who had been born in Felmersham, Bedfordshire in about 1884.   They had three children, a son, Harold George Stay in late 1907 who was registered in Rugby; then a daughter, Bessie Eileen Stay who was born in 1909, and registered in Lutterworth; and then another son, Frederick John Stay, born on 21 September 1910 in Rugby. It seems that his wife later had returned to her home area and was living at Roxton, and that village is given as Arthur widow’s address on some documents.

For the 1911 census, Arthur’s father Stephan Stay, now 58, was with his second wife, Kate who was 41. They were living at 99 Grosvenor Road, Rugby; he was still a plasterer. His wife filled out the census return, which probably explains why she has entered his place of birth as ‘Old Eastbourne’ rather than the similarly sounding ‘[Old] Wimborne’.   Nellie Taylor who was a visitor, was possibly his wife’s, sister.

In 1911, Arthur was away from home, still working as a ‘Plasterer’ and in lodging with another plasterer at 37 Claremont Road, Romford, Essex. He was no doubt working on a contract in that area. His wife, Emily, and their three children, were at their home at 45 Lodge Road, Rugby. His brother, Walter, now 25, was working in Camberwell.

Arthur’s youngest brother Alfred also became a Plasterer and by 1911 had just married Nellie Ruth née Mill from Epsom and was living at The Firs, Welton.   They married on 1 August 1910, at West Fordington, Dorset, so maybe there was still a family connection to his father’s birth county.

With the outbreak of World War I, Arthur first joined up in Lambeth, London, originally as a Private, No.6341, in the ‘London Regiment’, although in which of its many Battalions is unknown.

He would later transfer, or be posted, to the 122nd Machine Gun Company as No.65340, and would later be promoted to Lance Corporal. He does not appear to have been awarded the 1915 Star, so it seems that he did not go to France until 1916, which would suggest he was with the 122nd MG Company when they first went to France.

The 122nd MG Company became part of the 122nd Brigade, 41st Division in May 1916. The Company War Diary[1] noted that the 122nd arrived at Le Havre at 5a.m. on 17 May 1916. They left for Rouen and arrived at Steenweerk by rail on 21 May. They undertook familiarisation training over the next few days. On 27 May they moved to Le Romarin, and then on 28 May to Ploegsteert.

July started quietly except for two NCOs being sent for Court Marshal for being drunk on duty!! The Acting Battery Sergeant Major was paraded and publicly reduced to the ranks – the other NCO was found not guilty.

They were later in action at the Battle of Flers-Coucelette [15-22 September 1916] and the Battle of Transloy Ridge [October 1916], these being the last two actions on the Somme. In 1917 they fought during the Battle of Messines; the Battle of Pilkem Ridge; the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.[2]

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, was part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, and the 122nd Machine Gun Company’s War Diary gave some information on the actions in the month of September, before and after Arthur’s death.   It shows something of the training, constant movement and the fierce battle actions that the men endured:

1 to 6 September – the Company was training at Barringhem. Then until 13 September, one Section went to help make ready barrage preparations and various C.O.’s conferences were held whilst various further training took place.

14 September – ‘Company moved into billets at Le Nieppe.’

15 September – ‘Company moved into billets at La Rounlushille.’

16 September – ‘Company moved into camp at Shippewa Camp.   2 Section relieved 2 guns 194 Coy and 2 guns 116 Coy in the Line.’

17 September – ‘No 3 Section rejoined the Company …’.

18 September – ‘Nos 3 & 4 Sections reported at 4pm to the 11th R W Kents at Ridge Wood and Larch Wood. Company Headquarters moved into Hedge St. Tunnels. …’.

19 September – ‘… Sections … moved up to assembly positions in Bodmin Copse. Assembly complete by 12 mid-night.’

20 September – ‘3.40am, attack delivered on Tower Hamlets Ridge. All sections arrived at final positions with only 4 casualties. 12 noon R W Ks unable to hold on in Green Line owing to their right flank being exposed, withdrew and Srg O’Connor, commanding No 4 Section (2/Lt Wearne having been wounded) brought forward the two rear guns to cover the gap.   He remained in this exposed position till 6.0pm when he withdrew to the same line as the R.W.Ks.

21 September – ‘4.15 am – German counter attack delivered on right and left of Menin Road. The sub-section No.3 was wiped out & both guns destroyed and all of No.4 Section with the exception of 6 men became casualties through the heavy bombardment which preceded this counter-attack. Counter-attack was beaten off. 2/Lt Hale inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. 2/Lt Cantnell wounded. Reinforcements from reserve sub-section sent up to No.4. 7.0pm – Second counter-attack attempted, which never materialised.’

22 September – ‘Situation normal. 122 Inf. Bde. relieved out of the line by 116 Bde.’

23 September – ‘Situation normal. Relief expected but did not turn up.’

24 September – ‘Relieving Company arrived but owing to heavy shelling, no relief was possible till 6.30 am. Relief complete by 9.0am Company proceeded to Jackson’s Dump where limbers were waiting for the guns & then to Ridge Wood. Casualties in the line, 3 Officers + 52 ORs. 2.0pm Left Ridge Wood by bus for Eecre.   Transport followed from Millekreose and arrived in camp 8.30pm.’

It is not known exactly where and when on 21 September 1917 that Arthur was ‘Killed in Action’, but it must be assumed that he was probably in either in No.3 sub-section that was ‘wiped out’ or in No.4 Section, where all but six men were casualties.

His body was either never found, or was not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 154 to 159 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot.

Arthur George Stay was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby, and remembered on a family grave in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Probate was granted to his widow, Emily Stay, at London, Arthur was then recorded as ‘of Roxton, Bedfordshire’, his wife’s home village. His effects totalled £579-0-1d.

The Register of Effects[3] confirms his rank, number and date of death. His back pay owing of £2-5-1d was paid to his widow on 30 January 1918, and his War Gratuity of £4-10-0d was paid to her on 3 December 1919.

Both of Arthur’s brothers joined up, and both survived the War.

Arthur’s younger brother, Walter Edward Stay, joined up on 19 November 1914 at Gosport Regimental as No.53445 in the Royal Garrison Artillery [RGA] and had served in the 19th Siege Battery, RGA, and became an Acting Corporal.   He went to France on 25 June 1915 and served with some distinction and was awarded both the DCM [Distinguished Service Medal] on 1 January 1918 and the Belgian ‘Croix de Guerre’. His DCM was presented by Major General Franks on 6 October 1918.   He survived the war and his marriage to Elsie Agnes Francis (b.22 July 1892 in Shaftesbury St James, Dorset, but who had been resident in Bilton, Rugby in 1901 and 1911) was registered in Q3 1919 in West Ham, Essex. He died aged 84 in 1969 in the Salisbury area; his wife died at about the same date.

Arthur’s youngest brother, Alfred, joined up on 10 December 1915 into the Gloucester Regiment, and was later in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private, No.39776 and was discharged on 27 November 1918.

Arthur’s father, ‘Stephen, otherwise Fred’ Stay of 18 Murray Road, Rugby, died on 19 May 1933, with probate, giving both first names as alternates, in London to the value of £932-19-1d, granted to his two surviving sons: Walter Edward Stay, still a plasterer, and Alfred William Stay, now an Inspector.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Arthur George STAY 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, July 2017.

[1]       The National Archives, UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 41st Division, Piece 2635: 122 Infantry Brigade – 122 Machine Gun Company (1916 – 1919).

[2]       Information from: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/mgcompany.php?pid=10712.

[3]       UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929.

Smith, Joseph Charles. Died 20th Sep 1917

Joseph Charles SMITH was born in Crewe in 1897, his birth being registered at Nantwich in the 2nd Quarter of 1897.

He was the eldest son of Joseph Charles Smith [b.c.1876, Crewe] and his wife, Isobel [b.c.1873, Crewe]. They had married in 1896, and Joseph, their first child, was born in Crewe the next year.   By 1899 they had moved to Rugby and two more boys and two girls were born there.

In 1901, Joseph was three and his father was a ‘steam engine maker – fitter’; they were living at 73 York Street, Rugby. By 1911, when Joseph was 13, he was already working as a ‘Tailor’s Errand Boy’ and by then the family had moved 6 King Edward Road, Rugby, probably a larger property to house an expanded family. His father was now described as an ‘engineering worker’.

Joseph’s Service Records survives among the ‘burnt records’, which are not all readily legible, but provide considerable details of his military service.

Joseph joined up at Rugby on 1 September 1914, as a Rifleman, No.Y/532 in the 5th Battalion [Bn.] of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps [KRRC].   He declared that he was aged 18 years 4 months. It appears that he was then working as a ‘Tinsmith’s Assistant’. He was 5ft 5⅛ inches tall, and weighed 128 lbs.

His service reckoned from 1 September 1914, and he ‘joined’ at Winchester on 2 September 1914, and was then posted to the 5th Bn. KRRC on 3 September and to the 14th Bn. on the 30 October and then to the 13th Bn. KRRC on 13 July 1915. It seems he was attended a Grenade course achieving a Class II on 1 September 1916, and then was posted to the ‘D’ [?Depot] 20 April 1917.

His service dates confirm that he was – ‘Home – 1 September 1914 to 29 July 1915 [282 days]’, and then, that he went to France, ‘BEF (France) – 30 July 1915 to 19 April 1917 [264 days]’.

It seems he was posted to ‘C’ Company 13th Bn. KRRC as there is a casualty form for him when he was serving with them.

The 13th (Service) Battalion KRRC was formed at Winchester on 7 October 1914 as part of K3 and attached as Army Troops to 21st Division. They moved to Halton Park, going on in November 1914 to billets in Amersham and Great Missenden, then moved to Windmill Hill (Salisbury Plain) in April 1915 and transferred to 111th Brigade in 37th Division.[1] On 31 July 1915 they landed at Boulogne, which would agree with the date in Joseph’s Service Record.

He presumably served with them when they were in the reserve at the Battle of Loos on 26 September 1916, suffering heavy casualties, and later in the Battle of Somme in July 1916 and particularly in the Battle of Morval when the Battalion captured Geudecourt. In 1917 the Battalion was involved in the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg line and the Battalion Diary for 13th Bn. KRRC[2] noted that in March 1917 the Division had spent ‘… nearly a month in training.’ The Battalion then moved towards Arras for the forthcoming actions.

On 9 April they moved to the German Front Line trenches which had been captured a few hours before. They later advanced further and came under fire – and snow fell that night. ‘A long and tiring day was succeeded by a cold wet night, with snow and frost and no shelter for officers or men.’ On 10 April they advanced on Monchy le Preux which as they expected was defended. After much fighting, the next day, with the help of some tanks, the village was taken, but then came under enemy bombardment. The Battalion was relieved on 11 April 1917, and returned to billets at Arras. It was probably during this action in the Arras area from 9 to 11 April 1917 that Joseph was wounded.

A 13th Bn. KRRC report dated 15 April 1917 recorded that he had been wounded, and an earlier report dated 14 April from 49 FA [Field Ambulance] noted that he had a ‘GSW’ [gun shot wound] to the right shoulder. The date of the occurrence is either missing or now illegible.   However, an entry on 20 April, from 4 GH [General Hospital] appears to read ‘To England for …..’. Another entry suggests ‘Military Hospital’ ‘1/5/17’.

His Service Record confirmed his return to England for treatment: ‘Home – 20 April 1917 to 23 August 1917 [126 days].’ A later entry indicated that on 26 August 1917, he had ‘Arrived and Posted to 11th Bn.’, that is the 11th Bn. KRRC.

His new posting, the 11th Battalion KRRC, was in the 59th Brigade in the 20th Division. The Battalion Diary[3] provides considerable detail as to the activities of the 11th Battalion during this later period in the Battle of 3rd Ypres.

On 14/15 August the Battalion had left the Canal Bank, and moved to bivouac camp at Wagram Farm, and then up to near Langemark where they were relieved on 17 August.   From 18 to 27 August the Battalion was drawn back, received some replacement officers and six Military Medals were awarded to other ranks.

On 24 August, Joseph returned to France, but probably avoided the incident on the 27 August when, ‘A grenade accident caused us casualties of twenty other ranks wounded.’ On 3 September, the Battalion Diary noted ‘Reinforcements 23 O.R. received’ and this was possibly when Joseph actually reached his Battalion. In the next few days more reinforcements arrived, and training and various moves continued until the Battalion went back to the front line on 18 September, when ‘… ‘D’ Coy. came under heavy shell fire sustaining large losses’.

The action on the 19/20 September occupies several pages in the Battalion Diary, with action taking place around the Langenarck-Coedtervesten Road. The 20th Division was forming the northern defensive flank of the offensive, on a front of 1,400 yd (1,300 m) from the Poelcappelle spur to the Ypres–Staden railway flank for the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.

‘… At 5.40 A.M the barrage opened & the front advanced to within 50 yards of the final objective and laid down until the barrage lifted when they advanced again … coming under heavy machine gun fire. … The advance was severely bombed under cover of machine & sniping fire thus holding up the line on the right … Our losses were heavy … The remnants of the Coy then got into shell holes & hung on till night fall when they withdrew … On the left the first wave reached its objective without opposition …’.

At 11p.m. after many separate smaller actions, the Battalion was withdrawn to the west of Steenbeek. The Diary entry concludes by noting that six officers were killed, with three wounded; 36 Other Ranks were killed; 43 were missing; and 127 were wounded.

Joseph was still serving with the 11th Bn. KRRC when he was posted ‘Missing’ on 20 September 1917, and later documents record, ‘Accepted for Official Purposes as having Died’ on that date. A later note on 9 July 1918, also stated ‘Regarded for Official Purposes as having Died on or since the date reported Missing’.

His record confirms his final service in Belgium: ‘ “France” – 24 August 1917 to 20 September 1917 [28 days] … [total service] … 3 years 20 days’.

Sometime, it is assumed during the assault on 20 September 1917, Joseph Charles Smith was deemed to have been ‘Killed in Action’.

His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels Panel 115 to 119 and 162A and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.   Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Joseph Charles Smith is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

Joseph was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. His Medals were sent to his father at 6 King Edward Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Joseph Charles SMITH was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.

[1]       Information from: http://www.1914-1918.net/krrc.htm.

[2]       The National Archives, UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 37th Division, Piece 2533/1-4: 111 Infantry Brigade: 13 Battalion King´s Royal Rifle Corps (1914 Oct – 1919 Feb).

[3]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, 11th Bn. King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 20th Division; also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.