10th Jan 1919. Rugby’s War Memorial – Ambitious Scheme of Town Improvement Suggested


A special meeting of the Urban District Council was held at Benn Buildings on Tuesday evening to consider suggestions as to what form the proposed local war memorial should take, and after a very interesting discussion the matter was referred to a further meeting of the Council. Mr J J McKinnell (chairman) presided, and there were also present Messrs W H Linnell, R S Hudson, T Ringrose, L Loverock, C J Newman, F E Hands, S B Robbins, and H Yates.

The question was introduced by the Chairman, who said, while he did not think they should be in a hurry in making up their minds, at the same time they did not want to leave the matter too long, because people were apt to have short memories. He hoped they would be able to raise sufficient money with which to erect a proper and adequate memorial to their brave men. Anything decided upon that evening would have to be confirmed by a public meeting of citizens, but the people of the town desired the Council to take the lead in this matter, and he would like some suggestion to go forth from that meeting. If possible he would like any such suggestion to be unanimous. For his own part he thought they might like to erect some permanent memorial, in the form of an obelisk, which it was suggested should stand on the site of the old Whitehall. This should be a simple and inexpensive monument, and upon it should be inscribed the names of all men who had been killed. However, he did not think they should stop there, and in this connection he agreed with the suggestion to provide an institute or club for discharged and demobilised sailors, soldiers, and airmen, because he believed that the men who had laid down their lives would wish the country to honour their living comrades.

The Clerk (Mr A Morson, M.B.E) read several letters containing suggestions as to the form the proposed War Memorial should take. The first, from Lieut Peddell, suggested that houses should be built for disabled soldiers, away from the centre of the town, together with a small factory, which could be linked up with a larger or national scheme. By this means the men would also be able to earn their own living amid pleasant surroundings. Probably, too, some of the villages would desire to co-operate in such a scheme to assist their own wounded men. He suggested that the members of the Council should commence collecting in the various wards.

An anonymous writer made three suggestions : (1) The provision of an institute for demobilised sailors and soldiers. (2) That the Council should purchase Mr Pepperday’s property at the comer of High Street to enable them to round off this very dangerous corner. (3) The erection of a monument in a central position, in conjunction with other councils and corporations, so that a uniform idea could be carried out throughout the country after the fashion of the Martello Towers. It might be possible to combine the third suggestion with either the other two.

Mrs Arthur James, of Coton House, suggested the provision of a suitable building for the local branch of the Discharged Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Association. At present, she said, the branch consisted of 350 members; but after the War there would probably be 6,000 men eligible for membership. A provisional committee, of which she was chairman, had secured rooms for the members at the Eagle Hotel for the next few months, but she thought the most suitable War Memorial would be to provide the branch with a permanent home.

Mr W F Hardiman, Murray Road, suggested the erection of a monument on the Whitehall site. This should consist of a granite pedestal with bronze plates on either side, with raised lettering, commemorating the Volunteers, Conscripts, and members of the 29th Division. This should be surmounted by a bronze statue of Liberty.

Mr. J W Kenning wrote commending the formation of a fund to be called “ The Common Good ” which has already been fully explained in the Advertiser.

Mr T A Wise, who is away from the town and was unable to attend the meeting, wrote enclosing some sketches by Mr C H Samson for a suitable memorial. He mentioned, however, that he thought the idea was a bad one. Who, he asked, in 10 or 15 years’ time would want to turn up a book to see what John Jones or Tom Smith did in the war, or to look at a brass plate of names? He agreed with Mr Yates that they wanted a simple, inexpensive memorial with a simple inscription and no names.

A telegram was read from Major J L Baird, M.P, as under : “ Strongly urge that War Memorial should take form of Institute for Discharged Sailors and Soldiers.”

Mr Ringrose expressed approval of the Chairman’s suggestion, and Mr Robbins favoured Mrs Arthur James’s scheme.


As an old Rugbeian, Mr Linnell said he hoped whatever was done would be done well. He reminded the Council that about fifteen years ago he brought forward a proposal for abolishing the Gas Street slums, but it was not possible to do this then. This was a real slum district, and his idea was to do away with them and form a large square, to be called “ Victory Square.” This would be three times as big as the Market Place, and citizens could assemble there without interfering with the traffic. It could also be used in the future as the market. They could also build a memorial hall facing the square and Clifton Road. Independent of the war memorial, he thought the Town should carry out this improvement as soon as possible. They would be able to acquire the property at a low figure, and would be able to recoup themselves for some of the expenses by the sale of frontages, which would be very valuable owing to the improvements.

WAR MEMORIAL.—Capt M E T Wratislaw presided at a recent special meeting of Bilton Parish Council to consider the question of the parish war memorial.—After discussion, it was decided that the Parish Council resolve itself into a committee (with power to co-opt other members) to collect subscriptions and to consider suggestions which will be invited from a parish meeting to be held on January 24th.

WHIST DRIVE AND DANCE.—A whist drive and dance were held in the Council School, promoted by a committee of villagers and the proceeds are to be given to Mrs A Allen, whom Husband, Pte A Allen, was killed in the last stage of the war. Upwards of 120 persons were present, 26 tables being used in play. Prizes were presented by Mrs J Clarke, the successful players being : Ladies, 1 Miss Battson, 2 Miss Shone, 3 Mrs Over ; Gentlemen, 1 Mr T Gibson, 2 Mr F Round, 3 Mr T Archer ; consolation, Miss Cave and Mr J Hayward. Mr P West was the successful competitor in a guessing competition. After an interval for refreshments dancing was indulged in. Miss Dadley presided at the piano.

The proposal to use the balance of the Prisoners of War Fund to endow a bed at the Hospital of St Cross in memory of prisoners of war who have died in captivity has met with general approval. A sum of £1,000 is required to endow a bed, and towards this there was a balance of £800. A further £135 has been received during the past two or three weeks, leaving only £65 to be raised. Among the latest donations is a cheque for ten guineas from Major Claude Seabroke, who in an accompanying letter says : “ I have read with admiration the ceaseless work accomplished by the Rugby Prisoners of War Fund, and of your scheme for the application of the balance, which is sure to meet with unanimous approval.” Further donations will be gladly acknowledged by Mr J Reginald Barker, Hon Organising Secretary, Rugby Prisoners of War Help Committee, and should be addressed to him at 9 Regent Street, Rugby.
It is hoped that the small amount still required will be quickly raised.


SIR,—The Army Council have asked this association to assist in bringing to the notice of the relatives of those Warwickshire officers and men who have fallen in the present War the work that has been done by the Imperial War Graves Commission. For this purpose a report in considerable detail has been prepared, giving the policy which has now been adopted by the Commission for the permanent marking of war graves abroad and the work of reconstruction in the cemeteries. A limited number of copies of the report referred to have been obtained by this association, and if those interested will apply to the undersigned a copy will be sent to them.—Yours faithfully,

Secretary, Territorial Force Association, Warwickshire.
46 High St., Warwick,. Jan 7, 1919.

[A few notes under this heading will appear weekly in our columns.]

We wonder if ALL the people of Rugby know there is an Association for Discharged Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen ? There is one, and their institute is at the Eagle Hotel, Market Place, Rugby. We wonder if there are any discharged men who are not already members. If not, why not, as their interests will be studied very minutely in the future, and that is what we must look forward to. Join, and assure that you do not have a repetition of the after-effects of the last war.

The annual general meeting of the association will be held on Sunday next. The general meetings are held on alternate Sundays.

The Public Library Committee held a War Trophies Exhibition this week in their Museum, when a collection of interesting relics were exhibited by the association. The proceedings of the exhibition, it is understood are to be handed over to the association.

Can anyone help in a similar way, as funds are required to carry on the various schemes and good work of the association ? We understood on good authority that they will take a permanent position in the local social circle. Can they be repaid for what they have borne for us ?

Is it generally known that the D.S.S.A Association have a first-class football team, and have qualified for the final for the Rugby and District Challenge Cup, which takes place on the Eastlands Ground, Clifton Road, on Saturday, January 18th, at 2.30 p.m. Mrs Arthur James has kindly consented to present the cup to the winners. Tickets are being bought quickly, and you should get yours at once, price 6d. Roll up and see them play as well as they have fought.

Will discharged men living in the villages please get amongst their friends to interest themselves in the formation of branches of the D.S.S.A Association, and communicate with the Secretary, Eagle Hotel, Rugby, as a Propaganda Committee has now been formed, and commences this week to make a tour of the villages ?

We are pleased to note that wounded soldiers from the various hospitals are making use of the Institute, which has supplied a long-felt want.

We understand the Information Bureau is in being, and the two representatives of the association who are on the Local Pensions Committee will be pleased to meet members at the Institute between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. every Monday in the committee room, and give advice relative to any questions respecting their pensions &c. The committee have been able to get into direct touch with the Pensions Authorities, and many grievances coming to members, widows, and dependents are at present under consideration by the Ministry. A list of employers is in course of preparation for obtaining posts for discharged men. Their names are required to make the list a substantial one. Already quite a number of men have been placed, and in good positions too, which is as it should be.

Intending members should note this important point : “ Unity is strength ” ; and who can look after your own interest better than your own comrades ?

One good feature of the Association is its aloofness from politics or party.


On Saturday afternoon about 200 repatriated entertained by the employees of the B.T.H Company. The arrangements were made by a representative committee drawn from the offices and shops, and the entertainment was one which will long be remembered by all who were privileged to be present, especially in view of the fact that, as one of the guests remarked, this was the first public greeting which had been extended to repatriated prisoners in Rugby.

The gathering was held in the new canteen off the Brownsover footpath—a building which, by reason of its spaciousness and facilities for cooking, is admirably adapted for such a purpose. The walls and rafters of the canteen were decorated with flags, bunting and evergreens, and as one entered by the main door one’s eye was at once attracted to a large streamer, bearing the one word, “ Welcome.”

The guests were welcomed on behalf of the hosts by Messrs H H Sporborg and R Dumas.

The former explained that that gathering had been arranged because the employees of the company, appreciating to the full what the soldiers’ share had been in carrying through the great war to victory, desired to entertain them and to express the great admiration they felt for them and the way in which they had done their duty. They all realised the important part electricity had played in the War, and he referred with pride to the part the employees of the company had taken in providing the necessary munitions of war, but even so they all realised that the part of the soldiers was a far more arduous one, and it was on this account that that entertainment had been arranged.

Mr R Dumas said that all connected with the works realised that while they had been carrying out a necessary and essential part in the War by providing the soldiers with munitions and apparatus, still of necessity their part had been a less arduous one, a less risky one, and a less meritorious one than the part which they, as soldiers, had fulfilled. They, therefore, thought it was up to them to show their appreciation of the soldiers by trying to give them a good time in every respect, and it was for this reason that this entertainment had been arranged.

During the earlier part of the afternoon selections were played by Mr J T E Brown’s orchestra, after which the following programme was given :—Duet, “ life’s dream is o’er,” Mrs L Turnbull and Mr G Maley ; song, “ A chip of the old block,” Mr H Birkett ; musical sketch, “ My marriage,” Mr C T Mewis ; song, “ Plum stones,” Mrs J Hutton ; song, “ Mountain lovers,” Mr T C Thompson ; humorous song, “ The rest of the day’s your own,” Mr C T Mewis ; duets, “ The battle eve ” and “ Watchman ! what of the night ? ” Mr T C Thompson and Mr H Birkett ; song, “ Angus Macdonald,” Mrs Turnbull ; song, “ The floral dance,” Mr H Birkett.

An excellent tea followed, after which a cinema film, arranged in the form of a brief tour through the B.T.H Works, was shown. Scenes in the various shops and bays were thrown on the screen, and the film, besides proving very interesting and entertaining, gave the guests a very clear conception of the great and manifold activities of the company. A laughable Charlie Chaplin film, entitled “ At 1.0 a.m.” kindly lent by Mr. R Morris, of the Empire, was also shown.

Then came the event of the day—the Christmas dinner. The menu was an excellent one, including. as it did, roast turkey, gosling, chicken, vegetables, Christmas pudding, mince pies and sauces, and sweets of all descriptions, admirably served up by Mr Brownsward and his assistants. The guests were waited upon by lady friends of the organisers, &c, and the plentiful repast was thoroughly enjoyed.

After dinner Lieut Basil Parker, on behalf of the repatriated prisoners of war, expressed gratitude to the promoters and workers who had given them such a splendid entertainment. President Wilson himself could not have had a more hearty welcome than that which had been accorded to them. The prisoners came back, not knowing what was going to happen to them, and, so far as he knew, this was their first public greeting in Rugby, but it would be impossible for any other to surpass it.

Sergt-Major Harris and Sergt Cox supported on behalf of the wounded soldiers.

Mr Dumas, in response, said if the guests were pleased that was the best thanks the committee could have.


The next item on the programme was the stripping of the huge Christmas tree, which had been prettily decorated with a multitude of many-coloured electric bulbs, and from which each guest received a handsome and useful present.

In the evening a number of the female employees of the company attended by invitation, and dancing to music supplied by the B.T.H Band was kept up until about 10 o’clock.


During the afternoon Major J L Baird, M.P, paid a brief visit to the party, and a telegram wishing the guests an enjoyable time was received from Lance-Corpl Vickers, V.C, and Sergt-Major Blythe.

The committee consisted of Messrs G Ralph (chairman), A S Kettle (treasurer) J E Smith (secretary), G Allford, J Atkinson, H Birkett, A Cannon, G Cooke, J Disney, W I Fells, M Henson, J S Heap, A Lord, G Maley, J T Porter, J Sharples, F Starmore, and H Yates.


ABBOTT.—In loving memory of Gunner WALTER JOHN ABBOTT, fifth son of Mr. A Mrs. Middleton, of Watford (late of Rugby), who died in France on January 5, 1919, from injuries received in a train accident while coming home on leave, after four years’ service ; aged 38 years.—“ Thy will be done.”

CHATER.—On October 8, 1918, Pte. ARTHUR E. E. CHATER, dearly beloved son of Mr. & Mrs Chater, 7 Plowman Street, who was killed in action in France.

GAMMAGE.—On November 18th, Pte. JOSEPH GAMMAGE, the dearly beloved son of Mrs. Gammage, Kilsby, of dysentery, in Belgium aged 28 years.—From his sorrowing Mother, Brother and Sisters.


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]



– – – – – –


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.

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.



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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.

Collins, Samuel Charles. Died 24th Oct 1918

Samuel Charles COLLINS was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in about 1895 and his birth was registered there with those names in Q4, 1895.  He was the eldest son of George Thomas Collins (b.c.1874 in Stapleford, Nottingham) and Louisa Annie, née Annis, Collins (b.c.1875 in Titchmarsh, Northampton).  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1895, in Basford, Nottinghamshire.

From the birth records of their other children it seems that the family moved to Long Eaton, Derbyshire before 1898; then to Radford, Nottingham by 1900; and before 1904 to Rugby.  Indeed, Charles, as he was more commonly known, would have six younger brothers by 1911, and two siblings had died before that date.

In 1901, the family was still living in Nottingham at 49 Salisbury Street.  Charles’s father was a ‘cycle fitter’.  It is likely that his father was one of many workers who came to work in Rugby at the expanding British Thompson Houston works in the years immediately before the war.  By 1911, the family was living at 26 Abbey Street, Rugby and Charles was 16 and an ‘Apprentice Engineering’, probably at the B.T.H. works as he was working for them before the war.  His father had moved from the mechanisms of bicycles to become a ‘Fitter Electrical Engineering’, most likely also for B.T.H..

It is not known exactly when Charles joined up, however it must have been fairly early in the war, as his Medal Card states that he went to France on 31 March 1915, and thus qualified for the 1914-15 Star.  He was known to the army as Charles Collins.  The card shows that he was in a Territorial battery of the Royal Field Artillery and he initially had the number 99.  His entry on the Medal Roll states ‘RFA.T.99.Gnr.’.

This early form of number, suggested that he was already a member of the local 1st/1st Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery (Territorial Forces).    Another Rugby casualty, Thomas J Smith,[1] who also worked at B.T.H. was in this unit and also joined up early.  He was a Corporal, No.187 – also a very early number.  Thomas Smith was wounded and died of his wounds on 21 March 1918.

Charles Collins was confirmed as a member of the 4th South Midland (Howitzer), 243 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 5th Rugby Battery, by a list in the papers of Frank West,[2] which included,

Collins, S. C., 99, Gnr, “K” [killed]’ and also included his details from the CWGC site

From the same papers, the 5th Battery, 243, Transfer List, May 1916’ listed: ‘99  Gnr Collins, C.’, as one of the men and officers from the 5th Rugby Battery of the South Midland 243 Brigade who were transferred to become the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of 241 Brigade in May 1916.[3]

It seems that in the 1916 reorganisations of the Royal Field Artillery, Charles Collins was transferred, at least latterly, into the ‘D’ Battery, 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 840100.[4]  As this Brigade’s Division did not go to France until early 1916, Charles who was already in France, probably joined them to provide more experienced men, and it was perhaps in the 1916 reorganisations, that he was promoted to Lance Bombardier.

A note on the renumbering gives some confirmatory information.

These “long” [six figure] numbers came into use on 1 January 1917, even though the men on active service to whom they were allocated were by that time in other Brigades. … Sampling the medal cards shows that some of the men with lower service numbers on this list who usually have short service numbers too, went out to France when the 4th South Midland Brigade was first sent overseas, arriving in France, 31 March 1915.  … All men who served overseas before the end of 1915 received the 1915 Star and the qualifying date is often marked on their medal cards.

This date 31 March 1915, agrees with the date of entry to France on Charles’s Medal Card – and confirms that he was originally with the 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

In May 1916, before the Battle of the Somme, the Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered. The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade, but its men were scattered, and that is presumably when Charles was posted to the 161st (Yorkshire) Brigade in the 32nd Division.

The ‘CLXI’ or 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, was initially in the 31st Division from its formation in April-May 1915 and designated the ‘Yorkshire’.  It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.  They left this Division on 2 December 1915, and joined 32nd Division in the New Year 1916.[5]

In November 1915, the 32nd Division had received a warning order to prepare to sail for France.  However, unless Charles had leave or returned to UK for any reason, he would have joined them at some later date in France.

The 32nd Division remained on the Western Front for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:[6]

1916 – Battles of the Somme 1916: the Battle of Albert (1-13 July 1916); the Battle of Bazentin; the Battle of the Ancre.  In 1917 – Operations on the Ancre; the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.  1918 – The First Battle of Arras, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert and the Battle of Bapaume, both were phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of the St Quentin Canal and the Battle of Beaurevoir, both being phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line; and after Charles’s death, the Battle of the Sambre, including the passage of the Oise-Sambre Canal, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.

These many battles would have involved considerable movement of the artillery brigades, and many of the places where the 161st Brigade was in action can be found listed in the Brigade War Diary.[7]  They have also been abstracted and can be found in a posting on the Great War Forum.[8]

The activities of the 161st Brigade in the last month of Charles’s life have been examined, and it is uncertain when he may have been wounded.  During October they were some 10 km. north-east of Saint Quentin and some 20 km. south-east of Cambrai, providing artillery support for ongoing attacks eastwards towards Joncourt, Ramicourt, Brancourt-le-Grand, and Beauregard.

The Diary does not provide daily casualty numbers, but summarises them for the month.  In October 1918, 52 men were wounded, eight being from Charles’s ‘D’ Howitzer Battery.

It is not known whether Charles was one of the eight wounded that month, or whether he had been wounded earlier.  He was certainly evacuated a considerable distance, some 200 kms, presumably to one of the military hospitals at Le Treport on the coast just north of Dieppe as he died from his wounds, on the 24 October 1918, either at Le Treport, or on his way to a hospital there.

He was buried in Plot ref: VII. J. 3A. at the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, and was identified in the CWGC records as ‘Samuel Charles Collins’.  The family message on the gravestone reads ‘A NOBLE SON’.

Le Treport is a small seaport 25 kilometres north-east of Dieppe, France.  During the First World War, it  was an important hospital centre and by July 1916, the town contained three general hospitals (the 3rd, 16th and 2nd Canadian), No.3 Convalescent Depot and Lady Murray’s B.R.C.S. Hospital.  The 7th Canadian, 47th and 16th USA General Hospitals arrived later, but all of the hospitals had closed by March 1919.  As the original military cemetery at Le Treport filled, it became necessary to use the new site at Mont Huon.  There are now 2,128 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and also more than 200 German war graves.  The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

There were no obvious death notices or obituaries in the Rugby Advertiser, however, his death was noted in the Birmingham Daily Post.

R.F.A. – Collins, 840100, Lce.-bdr. C. (Rugby).[9]

As Charles Collins, he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and also the 1914-15 Star.   He is also remembered as C S COLLINS on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also as C S Collins on both the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[10] 



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This article on Samuel Charles COLLINS 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, May 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/smith-thomas-j-l-died-21st-mar-1918/.

[2]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[3]      From an Appendix to the War Diary of 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery for May 1916, WO 95/2749.

[4]      His number, starting 840***, is compatible with the renumbering of members of the 4th South Midland Brigade. … In 1917 service numbers beginning 840*** were allocated to men who trained in it, just as they were to those already serving at the front.  When posted to the front most of the later recruits with 840*** numbers served with other artillery units.

[5]      Mostly from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/royal-field-artillery-brigades/.

[6]      Information from: http://glesgakeelie.proboards.com/thread/2215/32nd-division.

[7]      The War Diary is at TNA ref: WO95/2380 and runs from January 1916 to October 1919.  Ref: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, 32nd Division, Piece 2380/4: 161 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, (1916 Jan – 1919 Oct).

[8]      A note by ‘Scott’ at https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/131297-32nd-division-161st-yorkshire-brigade-a-battery/, 23 October 2009.

[9]      Birmingham Daily Post, Saturday, 7 December 1918.

[10]     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.

Garrett, Frank John. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Frank John GARRETT was born in Harborough Magna, Warwickshire, and his birth was registered in Rugby in Q3 1881.  He was baptised on 2 April 1882 at Harborough Magna.  He was the son of William Garrett, b.c.1844, in Napton, a labourer and later a Grocer’s Porter, and Sarah Green, née Mitchell, Garrett, b.c.1845, also in Napton, latterly a laundress.  They were married in Napton on 26 November 1867.

By 1891 when Frank was 10, the family had moved to 3 East Union Street, Rugby.  Frank had two elder brothers, Leonard, 15, and Thomas, 12; and a younger brother and sister, Ernest, 7, and Mary Ann, 2, who died aged 10 in 1899.  An elder sister, Louisa, b.c.1873, had married John Thomas Wolfe, a fireman from the Newbold Road, at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 25 December 1897.  Her brother, Leonard was a witness.

By 1901, when Frank was 19, he was working as a ‘Cowman on farm’ for farmer, Thomas Wainwright, and living in the farmhouse, Limestone Hall Farm House, near Church Lawford.

In 1911, when Frank was 28, he was still single and living with Leonard, his married elder brother, at 11 Russell Street, Rugby.  He was a carter as was his brother who was a carter for the Urban District Council.

A later notice stated that before the war he worked at B.T.H. in Rugby.[1]

Fortunately 22 pages of Frank’s army Service Record have survived, as well as his Medal Card and his listing in various other sources.  However, these are in places somewhat confused, and show that although these can show amazing information, in the confusion of war, records may not always be correct in every detail.

Frank joined up in Rugby,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 268342.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 1st/8th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up.  However, some of this information is provided on his Service Record.

His WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[3] show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in two separate Battalions: the 16th Bn. R.War.R., and then the 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions was unknown until his Service Record was examined.  Indeed, he served briefly in several other Battalions.

The Service Records are somewhat confused and on one page note that he ‘rejoined the colours on 19.10.16’, which suggests earlier service, although there is no evidence for this.  It may just indicate that he had already ‘signed up’ on 1 October 1916, but was not ‘called up for service’ in Rugby until 19 October 1916.  He was then a single labourer, aged 35 years and 2 months, 5ft 2¼in tall, and lived at 97 Bridge Street, Rugby.  He gave as his next of kin his elder married sister, ‘Louisa Wolfe c/o Newbold Road, Rugby.’

His preference was to join the ‘Horse Transport A.S.C.’, but he was initially posted as a private with the Number: 22026, in the 3rd Bn. R.War.R., a reserve Battalion based on the Isle of Wight.

There are various lists of his movements and postings.  He was in UK from 19 October 1916 to 10 January 1917 (84 days), latterly at ‘Parkhurst’ – the Barracks on the Isle of Wight where the 3rd Bn. were then based – where he probably underwent basic training, from 20 October 1916 until 8 January 1917.

He was then posted to ‘B E F France’ on 9 January 1917, although another record states that he sailed from Southampton on 11 January 1917 to arrive in Havre on 12 January 1917 to join, briefly, the 16th Bn. R.War.R.,[4] in the Expeditionary Force in France on 15 January 1917.

Frank was with the 16th Bn. for only a very short time and ten days later, on 26 January 1917, he was posted to the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. with the Number: 20599,[5] but he would again be re-numbered as 268342 on 1 March 1917.  He was recorded as being in France with the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. until 18 February 1918.

The 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. was formed at Coventry, in October 1914, it was a second line unit, initially for home service only, and then in February 1915 in the 2/1st Warwickshire Brigade, 2/1st South Midland Division in Northampton area.  They went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916, and were trained near Bethune. They took part in the attack at Fromelles in July 1916, supplementing the Somme Offensive.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.

The 2nd/7th Bn. War Diary[6] relates that on 26 January 1917, the day when Frank arrived in France, the Battalion was in training, so Frank probably reached them with the draft of 96 men from base depot that arrived on 28 January 1917.

Thereafter, the battalion was probably involved in operations with their Brigade, including 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 and the German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.

They were ‘At rest’ on Christmas Day 1917, but soon after on 30 December moved to Caix and then to Hangest en Santerre, about 50 miles south of Arras.

There is then some further confusion in the Service Record as he was apparently granted leave in UK from 17 January to 31 January 1918, either this was so he could be married, or he took the opportunity to do so, during ‘Q1, 1918’.  He married with Alice Selina Timms at St Matthew’s church, Rugby, and according to the army records this was on ‘12-1-1918’ [a date when he was still in France!!].  Alice had been born in 1889 in New Bilton, Rugby – and their address was given as 97 Bridget Street, Rugby.

Although he is not recorded as returning to France, it may have been that his leave was brought forward a week or so.  However, he obviously did return to France, but a few days later on 4 February 1918, he fractured a rib, ‘Fractured Ribs R’, in the ‘Field’ and was sent to 61th CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] and then to 10th GH [General Hospital][7] for ‘Fractured Ribs R Severe, cont[usion] chest’[8] on 18 February 1918.  This injury was possibly due to an accident, as was mentioned on one form, as on 4 February 1918 the War Diary stated ‘Day quiet.  Visibility good.  Aerial activity only.  Night quiet.  Good patrolling – no results.’

Frank was sent back to UK on 18 February 1918, arriving 19 February 1918, and was listed at 158 Depot on 19 February 1918, and whilst there he was classified as ‘Dentally Fit’.  This was noted as being a ‘Home’ posting, with no mention of the earlier UK leave when he was married!  He was admitted to the War Hospital at Clopton,[9] Stratford on Avon on 17 February 1918 [this again suggests some slight errors with dates, as he was then still in France!!] with his ‘fractured 11th rib R [accident]’ and was not discharged until 2 April 1918.  During this period he was apparently again [re]issued with his final Number: 268342.

On 13 April 1918, Frank was posted to Perham Down Depot, Andover,[10] possibly for further convalescence, and was discharged and posted to the 7th Bn. R.War.R. on 21 June 1918.  He was Classed ‘AIII’, being thus ‘Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions, … Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition.’  He joined the 7th Reserve Bn. at Gosforth on 22 June 1918 and whilst there had a ‘TAB/1’ inoculation on 18 July and then ‘Proceeded Overseas to France’ from North Elswick Hall and embarked at Southampton for Havre on 30 September 1918, under the orders of the 7th Bn., and proceeded to Rouen where he was posted to the 2nd/6th Bn. on the 3 October and then to the 1st/8th Bn. on the 6 October 1918.  He ‘joined his unit in the field’ on the 8 October 1918.

The 1st/8th Bn. had mobilised for war and landed at Havre on 22 March 1915 and became part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.  In later 1917 they had moved to Italy, and remained there in 1918, until they left the Division on 11 September 1918 and moved to back to France, to join the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division shortly before Frank was posted to them.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R. War Diary[11] for their time with 25th Division gives an outline of their actions during the last few days of Frank’s life during the Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle (17–25 October 1918), which was part of the final ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ of World War I.

8 Oct – The success of the operations of this day brought the battalion into action at SONIA farm, where it held a gap between the 30th American Div. and out 7th Brigade. … moved up to the forming up positions between SERAIN and PREMONT.

9 Oct – Zero was at 5.20 … the battalion advanced and took its objectives beyond MARETZ …

10 Oct – Starting from a point N of HONNECHY …the battalion advanced after heavy fighting to the outskirts of LE CATEAU. … The Americans … had been held up … the positions taken were consolidated and held.

11 Oct – … the battalion marched out to HONNECHY … this was … the heaviest and most continuous fighting which the battalion had met and the battalion came out with fresh laurels added to its reputation. …

12 Oct – the battalion marched to SERAIN to rest.

13-15 Oct – Sunday … services … reorganisation and re-equipment … and training …

16 Oct – … in reserve …for attack … on R. SELLE … moved to HONNECHY.

17-18 Oct – HONNECHY – supporting Gloucesters and Worcesters …

19 Oct – … C&D Coys moved with Worcesters to attack BAZUEL which was taken and held. …

20 Oct – … battalion relieved and marched out to ST BEN[I]N . …

21 Oct – Here the unit rested and reorganised.

22 Oct – … the battalion … moved up to its forming up position along the railway …

23 Oct – POMMEREUIL – The attack commenced at 01.20 hours. … to be used to help mop up POMMEREUIL … owing to heavy fog the attacking units of the first wave became rather mixed up … but on Capt W Mortemons M.C. who was commanding the battalion … going out and taking command … and organising attacks on enemy M.G. nests which had been missed …the situation rapidly cleared and all objectives were gained.

However, in period of rapid advance to the south-east of Cambrai, and during the actions around Pommereuil on the 23 and 24 October, the Battalion suffered 13 O.R.s killed and 5 O.R.s missing, and 3 officers and 4 O.R.s wounded.

Frank had been with the Battalion for only 15 days when he became one of those 13 O.R.s, and was ‘Killed in Action’ on 23 October 1918.

His body was recovered and he was buried in the nearby Pommereuil British Cemetery, in Nord, France, in grave reference: D. 47.

Pommereuil is a village 3 kilometres east of Le Cateau.  It was the scene of severe fighting on 23-24 October 1918 and the cemetery was made by the 25th Division after the capture of the village. Pommereuil British Cemetery contains 173 First World War burials.  It originally contained a wooden memorial to the 20th Manchesters, who erected it to their officers and men who fell on the 23rd October. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.[12]

The earlier burial information listed his death, and that of some others in the cemetery, as 25 October 1918, however, the later documentation corrects this and gives 23 October, and suggests the earlier date was a transcription/typing error.  Whilst there was no family inscription added to his memorial by the family, his widow’s name was given ‘Mrs A Garrett, 97 Bridget Street, Rugby’.

On 6  November, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
Pte. F Garrett (36), R.W.R., 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, has been killed in action.  Previous to joining the army he was employed at the B.T.H.’[13]

Frank John Garrett’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These were issued to his widow in July 1921.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby.  Although reported to have worked at B.T.H., he does not appear on their memorial, perhaps he was there for too short a time.

His widow received a separation allowance of 12/6d until ‘11/5/19’; she then received a pension of 13/9d per week from 12 May 1919.  Any effects were to be sent to her at 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, and a note later stated ‘Effects sent 27.3.19’; these comprised, ‘Letters, Photos, Disc, Wallet, & Post Cards’.

His widow also received his monies owing in two tranches: £2-2-6d on 11 March 1919 and 11/6d on 23 April 1919.  She later received his War Gratuity of £8-16s on 4 December 1919.  She died in later 1920.

Three days after Frank’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ‘100 Days’ Advance to Victory’ continued and only two weeks after Frank’s death, the War came to an end.

On 16 November the Rugby Advertiser published a message from his wife Alice,

GARRETT. – On October 23, 1918, Pte. F. GARRETT, R.W.R., killed in action in France.
“I pictured your safe returning,
And longed to clasp your hand;
But God postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
– From his loving wife Alice.




– – – – – –


This article on Frank John GARRETT 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, August 2018.

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

[2]      Also shown in: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[3]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Medal Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Piece 0743.

[4]      The 16th Battalion had been formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee.  They had landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 26 December 1915 they transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

[5]      At some period he seems also to have had the Number 22026.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/3: 2/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Aug).

[7]      The 10th General Hospital was in Rouen from October 1914 to May 1919.  He was sent on to UK.

[8]      Such an injury can take from a few days to a few weeks to heal, hence the time in hospital and in UK.

[9]      Images of Clopton House Hospital in 1917 can be seen at:-  https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital; also https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-2; and https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-3.

[10]     Perham Down is a village near Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain.  In 1915 a hutted army camp was built on Perham Down.  It seems to have served as a convalescence centre.

[11]     TNA, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 25th Division, Piece 2251/4: 8 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1918 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[12]     Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/58903/pommereuil-british-cemetery/.

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

Tilley, Horace Alfred. Died 27th Sep 1918

Horace Alfred TILLEY was born in Beckenham in 1898.  He was the elder son and second child of Alfred ?Horatio Tilley, b.c.1870, in Greenwich, and Mary, née Rickards, Tilley, also born in Greenwich in about 1876.  Their marriage was registered in Lewisham in Q4, 1895.  Horace’s birth was registered in Q2, 1898, in Bromley, Kent.

The family had moved to Beckenham, Kent, where their four eldest children were born and then to Weybridge, Surrey, where three younger children were born.

In 1901, the family was sharing a house at 28 Cherry Lane, Beckenham.  Alfred was a domestic gardener.

Before 1911, the family had moved near to Rugby.  In 1911, Alfred, was a ‘head gardener’ and  he and Mary had been married 15 years – and all six of their children were still living.  The family were living in Newton Road, Clifton upon Dunsmore, near Rugby.  Horace was 13, so he would be only 16 when war broke out and whenever he ‘joined-up’, it would another two years before he was old enough to serve abroad.

Before the war, Horace worked in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.

In November 1915, Horace was mentioned as a ‘Single Man’, who had signed up under Lord Derby’s Scheme.

‘The Recruiting Position.  Clear Definition by Lord Derby.  Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme.  Local Enlistments under the Group System.  … The following have enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group System. … Tilley, Horace, Church Street, Clifton.’[1]

However, a later notice stated that he enlisted in March 1917.[2]  The CWGC site gives the Service Number: 212890 for an H. Tilley who was killed on 27 September 1918.  However, the Medal Card relating to this number is for a ‘George H. Tilley’ of the Royal Field Artillery.  There are no death records from the RFA relating to a George Tilley, and it must be assumed that this was a clerical error.

He was, at least latterly, in the “D” Battery, 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 212890, Royal Field Artillery.

The four – L to LIII (Howitzer) Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery (9th Divisional Artillery) – were formed as part of the raising of the First New Army, K1.  They are also sometimes shown as 50 to 53 (Howitzer) Brigades RFA.

LII [or 52nd Brigade] was originally comprised of numbers 166, 167 and 168 Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column.  It was placed under command of the 9th (Scottish) Division and went to France with it in May 1915.  In February 1915 the three six-gun batteries were reorganised to become four four-gun batteries and were titled as A, B, C and D.

On 21 February 1916 D Battery left to join 53 Brigade of the same Division, … The Brigade left 9th (Scottish) Division on 8 January 1917 to become an Army Field Artillery Brigade.

Various other re-organisations occurred, and it has not been possible to find all the areas where this Artillery Brigade was in action in late September 1918 – although a War Diary for a transport section is available from the TNA.[3]

The only details of Horace’s death are that he was killed while gun laying on 27 September.  He was buried in Plot ref: II. C. 16 in the Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-Les-Cagnicourt.  There was no age or personal family message on the gravestone.

Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt is 16 kilometres south-east of Arras … The Cemetery is 2.5 kilometres north-east of Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, in fields reached by a track signposted off the road between Hendecourt and the Arras to Cambrai road.  Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt was captured by the 57th (West Lancashire) and 52nd (Lowland) Division on the night of the 1-2 September 1918. Dominion Cemetery was made by Canadian units in September 1918, after the storming by the Canadian Corps of the Drocourt-Queant Line; … There are now over 200, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site.

Driver A Hodgeson from the same company, who was originally listed as killed on the same day, was later recorded as killed in action two days earlier on 25 September, and was buried next to Horace Tilley.

His death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser and also in the Birmingham Daily Post.

TILLEY – Killed-in-action in France on September 27th, 1918, Gunner HORACE A. TILLEY, R.F.A., aged 20, elder son of Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, Rugby.[4]

Gunner Horace Tilley, Royal Artillery, son of Mr. A. H. Tilley, 46, Railway Terrace, Rugby, was formerly employed in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.[5]

A fuller notice was also published in the Rugby Advertiser,
Mr A H Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, has received news that his son, Horace, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, was killed while gun laying on September 27th.  He was 20 years of age, and before enlisting in March, 1917, was employed in the Controller Department at the B.T.H.  In a letter to the parents his sergeant says:- “ I lost in your son a very useful lad, an intelligent gunner, conscientious and thoroughly reliable taking, as he did, a great interest in his work.[6]

Horace Tilley is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; although for some reason he does not appear on the BTH War Memorial.[7]  He is also listed on the memorial at St Mary the Virgin Church, Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, where a commemorative window has a plaque which reads
‘To the Glory of God and in honoured memory of Clifton Men who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918 … This window was given by the Parishioners.’

His Medal Card [under the incorrect name George] showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 




– – – – – –


This article on Horace TILLEY 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, May 2018.


[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918, also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/12th-oct-1918-lord-denbigh-suspects-cunning-scheme/.

[3]      Army Troops, 52 Army Field Artillery Brigade, 1917 Jan – 1919 Jan, Catalogue reference: WO 95/203/4.  With thanks for location information provided by: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/261539-army-field-artillery-brigade-52-brigade-rfa/.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 12 October 1918.

[5]      Birmingham Daily Post, Monday, 14 October 1918.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 12 October 1918, also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/12th-oct-1918-lord-denbigh-suspects-cunning-scheme/.

[7]      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.

Wilson, Horace Victor. Died 19th Sep 1918

Horace Victor WILSON was born at New Bilton, and his birth was registered in Q3, 1887 in Rugby.  He was the sixth child of Ellis Wilson [b.c.1851 in Hillmorton – an upholsterer] and Sarah Jane, née Rotton, Wilson, [b.c.1860 in Birmingham], whose marriage was registered in Birmingham in Q4, 1876.

Their three eldest children had been born in West Bromwich in about 1877, 1879 and 1883, and then the next two in Tipton in 1884 and 1886.  Before 1887 when their next child, Horace Victor Wilson was born, they had moved to Rugby, and for the 1891 census they were living at 11 Bridget Street, Rugby.

By 1901 the family had moved to live at 103 Victoria Street, Rugby, where Edwin’s father, Ellis was an ‘upholsterer and general dealer’.  His father’s death was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1909 – he was 58.  Horace had attended the St. Matthew’s School.

By 1911, the family had moved again and was living at 65 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby.   Before the war Horace worked at BTH as a Carpenter and his younger brother, Edwin, who was a ‘Winder (Apprentice)’ in 1911, was also employed by BTH before the war in the Winding Department.

It seems that he enlisted early from BTH, and he and his younger brother were probably two of the three ‘Wilsons’ who are listed in the Rugby Advertiser on 5 and 26 September 1914.

‘B.T.H. Company to the Rescue. – 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:  … Wilson … Wilson …’[1]

‘Recruiting at Rugby slows – Latest B.T.H. Recruits. – Since our last list of recruits from the B.T.H Works was compiled the following have enlisted: Works: …, Wilson, …’[2]

Horace enlisted in Rugby[3] as a Private No: R/76 in the 7th Battalion (Bn.) the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was later posted as No: GS/84012 to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers).

7th (Service) Battalion 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 returned to Aldershot in March 1915.  Then on 19 May 1915 it went to France and landed at Boulogne and saw action the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915, the Battle of Delville Wood in July 1916 and the Battle of Flers–Courcelette in September 1916 as well as the advance to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Arras in April 1917, the Battle of Langemark in August 1917, the First Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 and the Second Battle of Passchendaele in November 1917 before taking part in the Battle of St Quentin in March 1918 and the Battle of the Avre in April 1918.[24]

On 2 February 1918 it transferred to 43rd Brigade in same [14th] Division and on 25 April 1918 was reduced to cadre strength and on 16 June 1918, it transferred to 49th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division and returned to England to be absorbed by 34th Bn, the London Regiment at Clacton.[4]

Horace’s Medal Card did not have any date for when he went to France, and he did not gain the 1914-15 Star, which together suggest that he was in UK until after the end of 1915.  A later report stated that he had been in France for three years, which would suggest from say September 1915, and another stating ‘3½ years’.  It seems likely that these were approximations and that he went to France at a date after the medal qualification date of 31 December 1915 seems likely.

With no surviving Service Record there is also no record of when he transferred to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), or indeed when he was promoted to Lance-Corporal.  It could have been in UK or in France.  The 2nd/4th Bn. had a complicated history as the …

‘… The 3rd/1st London Brigade moved to Bury St Edmunds, and … absorbed large drafts of recruits under the Derby scheme in February 1916, and in June it moved into camp outside Ipswich.  That month the battalion was renumbered to replace the disbanded 2nd/4th Bn.’  

Some accounts state that the renumbered 2nd/4th went to France in early 1917, others state that,

A new 2nd/4th Londons went to France in July 1916 with the 58th Division.  On 15 June 1917, as part of the 173rd Brigade, they were involved in an attack against the Hindenburg line near Bullecourt.’

After the severe losses in the action at Bullecourt, the Battalion was involved in the Battle of Ypres, also known as ‘Passchendaele’ [31 July – 10 November 1917]; then the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael [from 21 March 1918]; at Villers Bretonneux [‎24 – 25 April 1918]; Chipilly [‎8 – 12 August 1918] and the Second Battle of Bapaume [21 August – 3 September 1918]

The attack was renewed on 27 August [1918], with 2nd/4th Bn. in support of 3rd Londons towards Maricourt.  The defence was sporadic, and the two battalions passed through and mopped up the village in the morning.  The following day’s attack consisted of patrol actions against rearguards.  The battalion was then rested until 1 September, when at short notice a dawn attack was made towards Bouchavesnes.  The battalion followed the creeping barrage, overcame some resistance at the edge of the village, and was on its final objective by 10.45 – an advance of 3000 yards representing the most successful action fought by the 2nd/4th Bn.’[5]

The commune of Bouchavesnes is situated some 22 miles (35 km) northwest of Saint-Quentin, and extracts from the Battalion War Diary[6] entry for that day gaves slightly more detail,

‘BOUCHAVESNES – Sept 1st 1918 – The Bde. Attacked BOUCHAVESNES at 5.30am.  … The … 2/4 Bn. on the right, … The morning although cold was fine and visibility good.  Enemy opposition was strong on the western edge of the village but as this was over come the enemy showed signs of giving ground without fighting.  By 10.45 am the Bn. had reached the final objective and C.O. … established a definite line … 

‘During the attack, casualties were as follows:- [4 officers killed – 5 wounded]; O[ther] Ranks.  Killed 11.  Wounded 49.  Missing 30.

‘The number of prisoners captured approx 230.  Machine Guns 40.  Field Guns 8.

‘Message of congratulations on success of Bde attached … Weather was fine throughout the day.  Bn. was relieved same night by the 14th Black Watch (74th Div) and rested in valley … The Bn. arrived there at 4am on 2nd inst.’

Horace was severely wounded, one of the 49 wounded, during the successful action against Bouchavesnes on 1 September 1918.  He would have been passed down the chain of medical evacuation to the coast, then evacuated from France and taken to a hospital in UK, in his case in Birmingham.

A report in the Rugby Advertiser noted,

‘Rifleman Horace Wilson, London Regiment, late of the KRR, son of Mrs Wilson, Bridget Street, has been seriously wounded in France.  He has lost his right leg and his left arm has been badly fractured.  He joined the Army in September 1914, has served three years in France.  He was formerly employed by the B.T.H.’[7]

He died in hospital in Birmingham on 19 September 1918 and his body was returned to his home to be buried in Plot G. 24. in the Rugby (Croop Hill) Cemetery.  The ‘Rugby’ Advertiser noted,

‘Pte Horace Victor Wilson, London Regiment (late KRR) died in hospital in Birmingham on September 19th from wounds received on September 1st.   He was the youngest surviving son of Mrs Ellis Wilson, 41 Bridget Street, and is the second of her sons to fall in the War.  He was 31 years of age, an old St. Matthew’s boy and prior to joining the army in September 1914, was employed as a Carpenter at the B.T.H.  He had been in France for 3½ years.’[8]

A ‘Deaths’ notice was published by the family on 28 September.

WILSON. – H. V. WILSON, late K.R.R., died September 19th, 1918, of wounds received in France on September 1, 1918: aged 31.’[9]

When his temporary cross was replaced with a memorial headstone, no additional family inscription was engraved on it.  There are six other WWI casualties buried at Croop Hill Cemetery.

Horace Victor WILSON’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also commemorated on a pillar of the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[10]

His younger brother, Edwin, also fought in WWI.  He gained a commission and was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Bn. the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed in action 23 March 1918, some six months before his older brother [see Rugby Remembers, 23 March 2018].[11]




This article on Horace Victor WILSON was initially researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Pauline Masterman, and updated with military material by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.

1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

[2]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/26th-sep-1914-recruiting-at-rugby-slows/.

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

[4]      Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/kings-royal-rifle-corps/; also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Royal_Rifle_Corps.

[5]      Grimwade, Capt F. Clive, The War History of the 4th Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1914–1919, London: Regimental Headquarters, 1922, Uckfield, Naval & Military press, 2002, pp. 449–55.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 58th Division, Piece 3001: 173 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[7]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 14 September 1918.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[10]     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.

[11]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/wilson-edwin-thomas-died-23rd-mar-1918/.



Hunt, George William Henry. Died 3rd Sep 1918

George Henry William [or William Henry] HUNT was born in Colombo, Ceylon, on 31 October 1898He was the elder son of George Hunt, who was born in about 1870 in Long Lawford and whose father, William, had been a ‘Foreman Platelayer’.

George Hunt was stated to be in the ‘6th Foot’ and from the birth dates of his children was in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from at least 1898 to 1905.  There is no record of a marriage in UK, and as a soldier it seems more likely that he married when he was on this posting.  It also seems likely that his wife died in Ceylon, – unless it was an ‘unofficial’ marriage, however this is less likely as he returned to UK with his four children and later remarried in UK in 1910.

In 1881 the 6th Regiment of Foot had become the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR) – and it seems that at the date of birth of his elder son in 1898, he  was still using the old nomenclature, which may suggest that he had been in Ceylon for some time.  Only the 2nd Battalion of the RWR had been stationed in Ceylon, from 1891 to 1896, which suggests that George may have joined up before he was 21 and remained in Ceylon after the Battalion left – he might have transferred to another next regiment who were posted to Ceylon.

As he was abroad there is no census return for him in 1901.  By 1911, George senior had been remarried for about a year with Eliza, née Thompson, Hunt, who he had probably known when he was young as she was also born in Long Lawford in about 1872; her father had been a general labourer, and in 1901 she had been working as a cook for a clergyman in New Milverton.  George and Eliza were married on 23 January 1910 at Lillington, Warwickshire [Reg: Rugby, Q1, 1910, 6d, 842].

In 1911, George junior had two younger sisters and one younger brother, the latter born in 1905 – all four children were born in Ceylon.  They were then all living at 122 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby, a six room houseGeorge senior wrote that he was a ‘Storekeeper (Iron & Steel Stores), ‘Willans & Robinson’ Steel Works & Army Pensioner’.  George junior had attended St Oswald’s School, and before he joined up he was employed in the Punch Shop at the B.T.H..[1]

When war broke out George would have been about 16 years old.  As no full Service Record has survived, his full career cannot be established.  However, it seems that he joined the Royal Marines in November 1915, at the age of 17,[2] as a Private, No: PO/19175 – the ‘PO’ indicated that he was in the Portsmouth Division.  With an excess of men over those needed to man the fleet, the Royal Naval Division was formed at the outbreak of the war from Royal Navy and Royal Marine reservists and volunteers who were not needed for service at sea.

The Royal Naval Division fought at Antwerp in 1914 and then at Gallipoli in 1915.  It seems that some records survived,[3] and that George was earlier in the 3rd Royal Marine Battalion.  From November 1916 to 1919, this Battalion was formed as the garrison for various Greek Islands after the withdrawal from Gallipoli, when the 1st Royal Marines had transferred via Marseilles to fight in France.

These Greek islands included: Mudros, Imbros, and Tenedos.  George was on Mudros from 1 November 1916 – having joined up in later 1916 when he was 17.  He was, fortunately, too late to be sent to Gallipoli.  On 16 April 1918 he was drafted from the 3rd Battalion on Mudros to join the 1st Royal Marine Battalion, British Expeditionary Force, in France.  He thus became part of the reinforcements for the Royal Marine Light Infantry.

Earlier in 1916, following many losses among the original naval volunteers, the Royal Naval Division had transferred to the British Army as the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.  As noted above, in May 1916, it arrived in Marseilles, and from there was brought north to Abbeville, and fought on the Western Front as an Army formation for the remainder of the war.

George was still in the Mediterranean during this period, but the Royal Marine Division was in action in France in late 1916 until early 1918 and took part …

In 1916: the Battle of the Ancre, a phase of the Battles of the Somme 1916 (13-18 November 1916).  In 1917: the Operations on the Ancre (January-March 1917); the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23-24 April 1917), a phase of the Arras Offensive, in which the Division captured Gavrelle; the Battle of Arleux (28-29 April 1917), a phase of the Arras Offensive; the Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917), a phase of the Third Battles of Ypres 1917; the action of Welsh Ridge (30 December 1917), subsequent to the Cambrai operations.  Then in 1918 the Battalion was involved in the Battle of St Quentin (21-23 March 1918); which was the initial action against the German offensive ‘Operation Michael,[4] and the Battle of Bapaume (24-25 March 1918), phases of the First Battles of the Somme 1918.[5]

Very soon after the date of George’s posting to the 1st Battalion on 16 April 1918, the 1st and 2nd RM Battalions, which were both in the 188th (RN) Brigade, amalgamated on 29 April 1918, as the Royal Marine Battalion.  As George ‘returned to France’ in about mid-August, a fortnight before his death, this may imply that these later reinforcements returned from Mudros, via UK, and had leave, rather than travelling north through France.

After the holding of the German advance, the RM Battalion was engaged in the Battle of Albert (21-23 August 1918), a phase of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918, when it was located at Achiet-le-Grand, north-west of Bapaume and south of Arras.  This became a decisive Allied victory, and in holding the German Spring Offensive, the Allies, and particularly the B.E.F., took increased confidence in their ability to turn the tide of war in their favour.  The Battalion was then involved in another Allied victory, the Battle of Drocourt-Queant[6] (2-3 September 1918), a phase of the Second Battles of Arras 1918, when located at Inchy-en-Artois.[7]

The War Diary for the 1st RM Battalion[8] gives some detail on the actions leading up to and during that battle.  On 25 August 1918, ‘The Bn. attacked enemy positions at LOUPART WOOD.’  Then on 28 August they were relieved and went into bivouacs at MINUMENT.  During August, 46 O.R.s [Other Ranks] were killed, 7 died of wounds, 260 were wounded and 31 missing.

After two days on 31 August, they were moved again ready for another attack.

1 September 1918 – BOIRY ST RICTRUDE – ‘Battalion bivouacked in the open arriving at 5.30 A.M.  During the day Bn received instructions to move up to an assembly position near FONTAINE. … Battalion left at about 5.45 P.M. arriving about 9. P.M. resting for the night in trench to N.W. of CROISILLES-FONTAINE Rd..  Verbal instructions received for attack on following day.

‘2 September 1918 – In action from U10a to QUEANT – Battalion moved to assembly in U10a with the 2nd Bn R. IRISH Regt on left and ANSON in support.  At ZERO (5AM) plus 2 hrs. 45 mins Advance was made in Artillery formation through RIENCOURT passing through 57th DIV. and attacking 2nd objective line running from V25 c. 0.1. to V19 d. 3. 7.  Fighting continued through the day until final objective was taken and the Bn. Held a line before QUEANT running from Y26 d. 7. 9. to Y27 d. 5. 0.  Casualties.  Killed 1 Officer, 15 O.R.s, Wounded 1 Officer, 61 O.R.s (estimated).’

‘3 September – In action – At about 9.30 A.M. Bn received instructions to proceed to an assembly position in V28 a & b with orders to stand by to move at short notice.  At 7.0 PM instructions received to proceed to BUISSY SWITCH and HINDENBURG SUPPORT line from junction of switch & support line to D 6 c. 8. 7. and Bn was placed at the disposal of G.O.C. 189th Inf. Bde.  killed 13 O.R.s, wounded 14 O.R.s.’

George William Henry HUNT was one of those ‘13 O. R.s’ who were ‘Killed in Action’ on 3 September 1918.  He was 19 years old.  His body was either never found or not identified and he is commemorated on Panel 1, Stone No. 1.B., of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt.

The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave.  They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa – the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing.  The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts.  The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved … The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names.[9]

His father was still living at 122 Lawford Road when he was informed of the death of his son, and the Rugby Advertiser[10] noted,
Mr. E. Hunt, 122 Lawford Road, New Bilton, has received news that his son, Pte G H W Hunt, Royal Marine Light Infantry, was killed in action on September 3rd.  He was an old St Oswald’s boy, and joined the Marines in November, 1915, at the age of 17.  Previous to this he was employed in the Punch Shop at the B.T.H.  He only returned to France a fortnight before his death.

The Naval Medal Roll[11] showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and as ‘HUNT G H W’ on the BTH list of ‘Employees Who Served in the War 1914 – 1918’ and also on the BTH War Memorial.[12]



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This article on George William Henry HUNT was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, May 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[3]      Royal Naval Division, Casualties of the Great War, 1914-1924.

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

[5]      http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/division.php?pid=11595.

[6]      The Drocourt-Quéant Line was an extension of the Hindenburg Line and ran between the two French towns from which it gained its name.

[7]      http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/division.php?pid=11595.

[8] UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Marines, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division Piece 3110/1: 1 Royal Marine Battalion (1916 May – 1919 Apr).

[9]      https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/79200/vis-en-artois-memorial/.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[11]     The National Archives, Roll of Royal Naval War Medals, 1914-1920, NCOs & Men, Royal Marines, Han-Mam, Catalogue reference: ADM 171/169.

[12]     Taken from the list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled, as published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.  See also https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.


Clark, George. Died 27th Aug 1918

George Clark was born in 1888 Birmingham and married Olive Seward in the Dec Quarter of 1916 in Rugby. They had a child born 16th November 1917, George Kenneth Clark.

Before serving, George worked in the Accounting Department of B.T. H.  He enlisted at Rugley Staffordshire

He was in the Machine Gun Corps service number 32347,before transferring to the Tank Corps 205006 he was promoted to Corporal and from the Register of Soldiers Effects we find he was in the 12 Battalion Tank Corp,and died of his wounds on 27th August 1918. He had a credit of £9 3s 11p and on the 14-4-19 his widow Olive received £3 1s 4p then on the 17-5-19 Olive received the sun of £6 2s 7p for the child George, Olive received a final payment on 11-12-19 of £10 10s.

The 12th Battalion Tank Corp were involved with the third battle of the Somme, being attached to the 3rd Division, VI Corp, 3rd Army. From the account of the battle some of the other ranks were wounded and I believe one of these was George Clark but in the report no other ranks are named (this information from Landships google home page)

In the 1911 census Olive Seward was living at 17 Windsor Street with her widowed father John Joseph she is recorded as 20 years old, also living there were her sisters May 18 and Marjorie 14.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has the following Information

Clark Pte. George 205006 12th Battalion Tank Corp died of wounds 27th August 1918 Aged 30, Husband of Olive Clark of 17 Windsor Street Rugby, he is buried in Plot 1 Row N Grave 25 in the St Hilaire Cemetery Extension in Fervent France

He is also remembered on the B.T.H. memorial as well as the Rugby Gates.

(Some information from ancestry .com)



Little, Douglas Lavington. Died 21st Jun 1918

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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This article on Douglas Lavington LITTLE was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, February 2018.

[1]      From a reference in the later inquest report, and listed on Rugby School Memorial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9]      This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

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

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