Greatrex, Arthur. Died 10th Nov 1918

Arthur GREATREX was born in Coventry in 1893 and his birth was registered in Q1, 1893 in Coventry.  He was the second son of John Greatrex (b.c.1850 in Coventry) and Harriett Hannah, née Mayo, Greatrex, (b.c.1845 in Coventry), who were married on 25 December 1875 at St. Michael’s church, Coventry when both were living in Smithford Street.  They were both able to sign their names.

In 1881 Arthur’s father was a ‘cabman’ and the family lived at 8 Garden Row, Coventry.  There were then two young daughters, Amy, 5, and Maggie, 2.  In 1891 the family was still at 8 Garden Row, and Arthur’s father was still a ‘cabman’, his wife was a ‘waitress’ and Amy, now 15, was a ‘general domestic servant’ but still living at home, where there was now also an eight year old son, John Greatrex.

In 1901, they were still in Coventry, but now living in both 7 & 8 Garden Row. John Greatrex [sen] was now a ‘stableman and groom’; John [jun] was now 19 and a ‘postman’, having been made an ‘Assistant R. Postman – Coventry to Little Heath’ in 1899, and then been appointed ‘Postman’ in March 1901 in Coventry.[1]  There was also now another son, Arthur Greatrex, the main subject of this biography, who was eight years old.

The next year, in 1902, Arthur’s mother, Harriet, died aged 56.  Arthur’s father died in 1909, before the next census.

By 1911, John Greatrex had moved to 44 Victoria Avenue, New Bilton, Rugby, and had been married for eight years to Minnie Lona and they already had four children, all born in New Bilton.  He was now a ‘wireman’.

It is not known whether Arthur might have moved to Rugby at a similar date to his brother, but he could not be found in the 1911 census.  He had travelled to North America.  He arrived back in Liverpool on the Empress of Britain, Canadian Pacific Line, from St John, New Brunswick, Canada, on 18 January 1913.  He was then 20 and described as a ‘constructor’.

For some time, possibly both before and certainly after his visit to North America and before the war, Arthur worked in the Wiring Department at BTH.  Whilst his name does not appear among the early lists of men who enlisted from the BTH, the records show that he enlisted in Rugby,[2]  initially as a Private, No: 10578, into the 7th Battalion, the South Staffordshire Regiment.

7th (Service) Battalion, the South Staffordshire Regiment, was formed at Lichfield in August 1914 as part of K1 and became part of 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division.  It moved to camp at Grantham in mid-September 1914, and then moved to Frensham in April 1915.  They sailed from Liverpool in early July 1915 for Gallipoli, landing at Cape Helles and remaining there 23-28 July 1915.  First were casualties sustained in the “Horseshoe” facing Achi Baba.  They were withdrawn to Imbros and rejoined rest of division for landing at Suvla Bay on 7 August 1915.  They were evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915, and moved to Egypt via Imbros.  They were then moved to France in July 1916.

The War Diary of the 7th South Staffs in France from July 1916 to 1919 can be consulted,[3] but whilst the history of the Battalion is known, it is not known exactly when Arthur joined them.  It was probably in 1914 which would have allowed time for a period of training, as his Medal Card showed that he went to Gallipoli with the Battalion, departing to that ‘Theatre of War first served in – 2(B) Balkans’ on 2 July 1915.  As noted they were then moved to France in July 1916.

However, it seems that Arthur returned to UK at some date in 1917, and took the opportunity to marry with Alice Parnham in Grantham, their marriage being registered during Q3, 1917 (Grantham 7a, 947), when he was about 24.  As noted, the 7th South Staffordshires had been stationed in Grantham between September 1914 and April 1915, and that is probably when Arthur and Alice met – she was some 10 years older than him.

His address was later recorded as Grantham,[4] and indeed he had ‘moved in’ with his wife at her family home, although it is unlikely that he was there for long.  She was an only child, born on 1 June 1883 in Grantham, and in 1891 she was living with her parents – her father was a joiner – at 32 Sydney Street, Grantham.  Her father died before 1901, when her mother was in receipt of Parish Relief, and she and her mother were still at the same address in 1911, indeed she lived with her until her mother’s death aged 73, in June 1928.

Arthur must have been in UK in mid to later 1917, for his marriage, and then also around March 1918, when his wife became pregnant.  It seems to have been a long home posting, but two leaves in short succession seems unlikely, perhaps he was wounded and returned to UK to recover and convalesce and they took the opportunity to get married.

Arthur later served abroad again as a Private, No: 47679, with the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Essex Regiment.  Again, the date of this transfer in not known, but if he had been recovering in UK, that might have been the opportunity to post an experienced soldier.  He would thus have only experienced the actions from later 1917 that are outlined below.

The 10th Battalion of the Essex Regiment were formed at Warley in September 1914 as part of K2 and came under orders of 53rd Brigade in 18th (Eastern) Division.  They moved to Shorncliffe and then to Colchester, going on to Codford St Mary in March or May 1915.  On 26 July 1915, they mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including:-

1916 – The Battle of Albert; the Battle of Bazentin Ridge; the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of Thiepval Ridge; the Battle of the Ancre Heights; and the Battle of the Ancre.

1917 – The Operations on the Ancre; the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line; the Third Battle of the Scarpe; the Battle of Pilkem Ridge; the Battle of Langemarck; the First Battle of Passchendaele; and the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

1918 – The Battle of St Quentin; the Battle of the Avre; the actions of Villers-Brettoneux; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert; the Second Battle of Bapaume; the Battle of Epehy; the Battle of the St Quentin Canal; the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre.  They ended the war at Le Cateau, France.

The detail of all these actions would be far too extensive for this summary, indeed the Narrative on the near final attack near LE CATEAU on 23 October, which were appended to the Battalion War Diary,[5] took up two typed pages alone.

It was assumed that in this major attack on LE CATEAU or some similar action, Arthur was wounded, as recorded by the CWGC.  His chain of evacuation might have included a Regimental Aid Post, in or close behind the front line, and then a Field Ambulance, a mobile medical unit, and then a Dressing Station, where a casualty would receive further treatment and be prepared to be evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station, and then on to a Base Hospital, which in Arthur’s case, was the No.1 English General Hospital on the French coast at Etretat, a small seaside town about 26 kilometres north of Le Havre.

However, a note on his entry on the Medal Roll of the Essex Regiment of those to be awarded the 1914-1915 Star, had an added note ‘Died Lobar Pneumonia[6] 10.11.18’.

Whether he ‘Died of Wounds’ or of ‘Lobar Pneumonia’, or possibly a combination of both, he died at 8.45 pm on 10 November 1918, the day before the end of the War, in the No.1 English General Hospital, as shown on an official copy extract – in French – of the entry in the Register of Deaths of the ‘Commune d’Etretat’.[7]

He was buried in the neighbouring Etretat Churchyard Extension in grave ref: III. E. 3.

In December 1914, No.1 General Hospital was established in Etretat and it remained there until December 1918.  In July 1917, it was taken over by No.2 (Presbyterian USA) Base Hospital Unit, but it continued to operate as a British hospital.  The first seven burials took place among the French civil graves but in February 1915, two plots were set aside for Commonwealth burials in the churchyard.  These were filled by December 1916 and from then until December 1918, the extension was used.  Etretat Churchyard contains 264 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and one German grave.  Etretat Churchyard Extension contains 282 First World War burials and four from the Second World War.  There are also 12 German graves in the extension.  The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

His CWGC memorial headstone has the additional family inscription from his wife, ‘Until the Day Breaks and the Shadows Flee Away’.

Arthur Greatrex’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 list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[8]  He does not appear to be commemorated in Grantham.

His back pay of £14-16-10d was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Alice, on 14 February 1919, and a further 2/3d on 19 May 1919.  His War Gratuity of £19-10s was paid to her on 6 December 1919.

His residence at his time of death was recorded as Grantham; and that of his widow was noted as 32, Sydney Street, Grantham, and it seems that they had briefly set up home in her family home, where she continued to live.  In 1939 she was recorded as a widow, undertaking ‘Unpaid domestic duties’.  Also in the house in 1939 was Martha Alice Greatrex, born on 3 December 1918, who had worked as a ‘Cashier, Book-keeper, Grocery, retail trade, telephonist Grantham …’.  She would later marry Leonard Chambers on 18 October 1944.  It would seem that Arthur and Alice had a daughter.  She was born less than a month after her father died – a father that she never met.   Arthur’s widow, Alice’s death, aged 94, was registered in Grantham in Q1, 1978.  Their daughter, Martha, died in August 2001 in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Arthur GREATREX 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]      British Postal Museum and Archive; Series: POST 58; Reference Number: 95, and Reference Number: 97.

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

[3]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, South Staffordshire Regiment, 11th Division,  Piece 1816/1-4: 7 Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment (1916 Jul – 1919 May).

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

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Essex Regiment, 18th Division, Piece 2038/1-5: 53 Infantry Brigade: 10 Battalion Essex Regiment (1915 Jul – 1919 Apr).

[6]      Lobar pneumonia is a form of pneumonia that affects a large and continuous area of the lobe of a lung.  It is one of the two anatomic classifications of pneumonia (the other being bronchopneumonia).  Lobar pneumonia usually has an acute progression.  It seems this was often the main cause of death in case of deaths in young men in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

[7]      The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; General Register Office: Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns; Class: RG 35; Piece: 45.

[8]      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.

Pridmore, Reginald George. Died 13th Mar 1918

Reginald George Pridmore was born on the 29th April 1886 in Edgbaston Birmingham, the eldest of three children to George William and Sarah Louisa nee Bailey. They were married on the 6th July 1885 in St Matthew’s church, Rugby. In the 1891 census he was living with his parents and two year old sister at 86 Railway Terrace, Rugby. By 1901 his parents were living in Watford with two daughters, Madge, 12 and Constance, 8. Reginald was a pupil at Bedford County School. He was then educated at Bedford Grammar, which later changed its name to Elstow school, where he was a very keen sportsman. he played Hockey for England, winning a gold medal at the 1908 Olympics, and in the final scored four goals which stood as a record for forty four years. He also played cricket for Warwickshire County Cricket club on fourteen occasions As a middle order batsman. In the 1911 census it states he was an Artistic Metal Worker; the business his father ran in Coventry.

(picture from Great War Forum)

From his officer records in Kew he applied for a commission in the Warwickshire Territorial Force Association on 14th September 1914, in the 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade. He was residing at 1 Lansdown Place in Coventry, and his occupation was given as stockbroker. On the form it states he had applied for a temporary commission in the regular army but had not been gazetted to date (this was dated 14th August 1914),and he had been for three years in Elstow School Bedford O.T.C.(officer training corps ). Also in the papers it states that Elstow school was previously known as Bedford County School. The papers stated that he was attached to the 5th Rugby Battery off the 243 brigade which became D Howitzer Battery of 241 brigade on the 18th May 1916.

Reginald George Pridmore became Second Lieutenant on 17th September 1914 and from the records of the R.F.A. that he disembarked from England on the 30th March 1915.

He was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry during operations as a Forward Observations officer having displayed great coolness under fire. On one occasion he and his lookout man were partly buried during heavy shelling but carried on sending reports. This is believed to be on the 20th October 1916.

Whilst in France, orders were given and the brigade moved to Italy to carry on fitting there. In the supplements to the London Gazette from the 19th March we learn that on 20th Jan 1917, 2nd Lt (Temp Lt) R.G.Pridmore M.C. be acting Capt. From the same publication dated 29th June 1917, 2nd Lt (actg. Capt.) R.G. Pridmore M.C. was to retain the acting rank of Capt. On the 23rd April 1918 Lt. (actg. Capt) R.G.Pridmore M.C. (since killed in action) wa to be acting Major whilst commanding Batts  (5th March 1918.)

From the war diaries, we learn that the brigade were at Arcade and on the 5th March Major R.G.Pridmore took command of C battery 240. Nothing else was reported until the 10th when half yearly recommendations for the King Birthday Honours were submitted. Then on the 13th, batteries did a little firing in the morning. C battery was heavily shelled in the afternoon with 5 or 4 2s and an occasional 11 inch.

His late Battery Commander writes (in the Rugby Advertiser 30th Mar 1918):

He was killed by a direct hit on his position, where he had remained to telephone after sending all his men into safety. As his Commanding Officer for 3 1/2 years, I have never met a more gallant officer or a more cheery companion. In times of stress his unfailing good spirits and total disregard of danger inspired me to carry on and set us all a grand example. He was buried 10 miles from here with full military honours, and there were present the general of the Division, the C.R.A. and every senior officer in the Division who could possibly attend; also 100 N.C.O’s and men of the Rugby Howitzer Battery.

Major R.G.Pridmore was killed & 1 or S Chapman was badly wounded, all batteries of 240 withdrawn from action and went to 5 D.A.W.

In the National Probate Calendar for 1918 reads Pridmore Reginald George of 18 Regent Street Coventry died 13th March 1918 in Italy. Probate London 15th August to George William Art Metal Manufacturer Effects £156 10s 4d,

When he died his comrades added an inscription on the wooden cross which read

“A Most Gallant Sportsman and Comrade“. His name also appears on the Elstow Bedford County School Memorial, and City of Coventry Roll of the fallen. From the Commonwealth War Graves Register I have copied the following

He was buried at Giavera Cemetery Italy Plot 1, Row D, Grave 5

Information from two books by Nigel Mc Creay, The Extinguished Flame, and Final Wicket, and from the National Archives.

 

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Spencer, James Bartlett. Died 22nd Jul 1917

James was born at 80 King William Street, Coventry in 1895 and christened at St Peter Coventry on 1 September. His father John Bartlett Spencer was an iron moulder, and married his mother Mary Elizabeth Green in Coventry in 1894.

In 1901 James was aged 5, living with his parents and younger brother William John (born 1897) at 43 Station Street East in Coventry. The family had moved to Rugby by 1907 where their youngest son Harold was born. In 1911 they were living at 104 Wood Street, but by the time James enlisted on 15 November 1915 they were a few doors away at No 92 as his army record shows.

James was initially conscripted into the Royal Field Artillery with number 5757, when he was aged 20 years 6 months, and 5ft 5ins tall. He was transferred to the 7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment with number 267322 on 6 June 1916, and sailed from Southampton on 16 March 1917, arriving in Rouen on 17 May. On 25 May he was posted to the 11th Battalion in the 37th Division, and joined them in the field on 3 June.   According to the Regiment’s War Diary the next few weeks were spent marching to the front and taking part in battle training.

On 11 July the Battalion relieved the 10th Yorks & Lancs Regiment in the Kemmel area of the line, and was formed into three working parties of 300 men all told for salvage and construction work. On 20 July enemy aircraft became very active, and the following day there was considerable enemy artillery activity both day and night together with low flying aircraft, and again on 22 July. During the night 22/23 a direct hit on the Battalion transport killed Col Sgt Taylor of C Company and the Company Clerk of A Company, and wounded three others. There was also a direct hit on C Company’s dugout in the support line, and this is probably when James was killed. This was the start of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

During the Battalion’s tour in the trenches which lasted until they were relieved on 25 July, 16 men were killed or died of wounds, and 28 were wounded.

James is buried in Derry House Cemetery No 2, about 8km south of Ypres, he was aged 22. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission citation names his parents who were by then living at 94 Wood Street in Rugby. His few effects including a ring were forwarded to his mother together with his back pay of £1.16s.8d and a war gratuity of £3. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.

 

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Dexter, Percy John. Died 10th Jul 1917

Percy John Dexter was born in Birmingham in 1889. Son of William Herbert Dexter (b.1862 – d.1919) and Betsy Chinn (b.c1858 – d. 1890). Both of whom were of Coventry. Two older brothers, also born in Birmingham, were Herbert (b.1885 – d.1954) and Frederick William (b.1887 – d.1967). After the death of Percy’s mother Betsy, his father moved to Rugby in 1892 and married Sarah Ann Franklin of Dunchurch. There were at least a further seven siblings, all born in Rugby. Evelyn (b.c1894, Ethel Lilian (b.1896 – d.1962), Violet (b.1897), Grace Ellen (b.1898), Winifred (b.1901), Gladys (b.1902) and Edith Emily (b.1908). The first two brothers both returned to Coventry to live, work and die. His father – William H. – was joiner and carpenter throughout his life and freeman of the City of Coventry. He had worked for both the major building firms in Rugby, Parnell and Linnell, and was an active trades unionist and co-operator.

Percy’s trade was a painter and house decorator and before the start of the War he had joined with his father in a business partnership. He was secretary of the New Bilton Cricket Club and was also a well-known footballer. In 1911 Percy married in Rugby, Beatrice Louisa Ward, from Norfolk (b.1887 – d.1981). A son, Maurice William, was born 14 October, 1912, in Rugby, he died in 1993. At the time Percy died his wife lived at Lawford Road, New Bilton.

Percy attested under the ‘Derby’ scheme, and joined the Army in August 1916. He became a Gunner in the 219th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The 219th S.B. arrived in France on 2 December, 1916. During the spring of 1917 it had moved from active duty in the Arras area (Bouvigny Wood, Noulette), then North to Bethune for rest (mid.May). By 12 June they arrived at St. Sylvestre Cappelle, moving to the Belgian coast at St. Idesbald three days later. On 21 June two of their four howizters were installed in the sand dunes at Nieuport, close to the front-line. Other Siege Batteries were in the area, including at Nieuport dunes, the 227th, 268th 2000m away at Ramscappelle and 330th at Dominion Farm (Naval Seige Gun H.Q.), and nearby during July included 325th, 133rd, 94th and several others.

There was a frequent bombardment of the enemy, besides the test firings to calibrate for range. Enemy targets include hostile batteries, machine gun emplacements, trench and wire entanglements disruption, road, houses, etc. Aeroplane registration of targets (by wireless) was a regular feature. All direction of fire was by reference to a standard grid system on local maps.

Percy J Dexter was killed in action on the 10 July, 1917. Two comrades died the same day, Gnr. Frederick William Mason Baker and Gnr. Wilfred James Slade. All were buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery. 117 men of the R.G.A. are buried in this cemetery. The majority died in July, August and September of 1917.

On 10 July, 1917, there were 867 Commonwealth deaths world-wide, 121 buried in France, 611 buried in Flanders.

On 31 July, 1917, began the third battle of Ypres. Total Commonwealth deaths in one day – over 6,000.

Coxyde is located adjacent to St. Idesbald, and is within 8000m of the areas mentioned. The cemetery was begun by French troops, but the area was defended by the British from June to December 1917, and now contains 1,507 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Percy John Dexter is remembered on the Rugby Town Memorial and New Bilton (Croop Hill Cemetery) Memorial.

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Horswill, Algernon Sidney. Died 26th Mar 1917

Algernon Sidney Horswill was born 2nd March 1892 to Charles and Fanny Horswill at Coventry, Warwickshire and was baptised 26th December 1892 at Holy Trinity Church Coventry. The family were living at 4 Irby Terrace, Foleshill Road, Coventry and his father occupation is given as clerk.   Algernon’s parents were married 18th September 1890 at the Parish Church of St Thomas Coventry.   Algernon’s mother‘s maiden name was Burton. On the census of 1901 Algernon is the only child and his father, Charles is working as a clerk in the cycle trade and they are all living at Palmerston Road Coventry in the Parish of St. Thomas Coventry.

By the time of the next census, 1911, Algernon and his parents are living in Rugby at 48 Craven Road. Algernon is a teacher for the Warwickshire County Council and his father is a bookkeeper at engineering works.

Algernon went as a student to St Marks College Chelsea and where on the 21st October 1912 he signed an Attestation form to serve in the Territorial Force, he was then aged 20 years 7 months and his number on the form was 1319.

His Battalion was formed at Stamford Brook September 1914

Moved to Staines November 1914 and joined the 201st Brigade 0f the Welsh Division

Moved to Cambridge and Transferred to Welsh Border Brigade, of the Welsh Division

Moved to Bedford May 1915

Unit renamed 160th Brigade and the 53rd Division 13th May 1915

Mobilised for war 18th July 1915

Landed at Sulva Bay, Gallipoli 9th August 1915 and was engaged in the action and were also at the Battle of Scimitar Hill. Due to heavy losses from the fighting and the severe weather conditions they were evacuated to Egypt December 1915

In November 1915 the Rugby Advertiser reported a letter Private A. S. Horswill, a former member of Murray School Staff wrote to Mr. W. T. Coles Hodges from a “dug out” in the Mediterranean theatre says:-

“We landed on August 9th three weeks after leaving England, and proceeded straight to the firing line under shrapnel fire.   We saw life for four days. Talk about snipers! They were up in the trees, absolutely surrounding us; they were the chief cause of the casualties. Fortunately they were more or less indifferent shots; otherwise we should have come off worse off than we did. Since then we have had various trips to firing line, interspersed with spasms of “fatigue” work, unloading lighters, filling water-cans for the firing line, and digging. We see some glorious sunsets out here at times; also some very fine play of light on various islands. I myself never believed the deep blue sea theory till we came out here. In the Mediterranean you get a lovely ultra-marine in the day, which gradually darkens to deep indigo in the evening.”

He saw action at the Battle of Romani 4th – 5th August 1916 and was involved in the Second Battle of Gaza 17 – 19 April 1917, by this date he had been reported missing and was listed as having been killed in action 26th March 1917.

 

Algernon’s service number was changed from 1319 to 290110, and in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records he is also under service number TF/290110 2nd/10th Bn. Middlesex Regiment and with that last service number CWGC gives the place of his memorial. In the Forces War Record Algernon is under 290110 (late 1319) and he is given as being in the E. E. F. Signal Section and is given as missing 26th March 1917 but with no place of a memorial in their records, under TF/290110 he is given as being killed in action 26th March 1917 and the record names his parents and their address 48 Craven Road Rugby.

Algernon’s name is on the Jerusalem Memorial, panels 41 and 42, for those who have no known grave and also on the Rugby Memorial Gates. He was 25 years of age at the time of his death and had never married and was the only child of Charles and Fanny Horswill.

Algernon was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Stebbing, Sydney Reginald. Died 4th May 1915

Sydney Reginald Stebbing was born in Springfield Terrace Coventry[1] and his birth was registered on 3 October 1893. He was baptised on 24 Oct 1893 in Coventry, St Mark.

In 1901, aged 7, Sydney lived at 16 Newbold Road Rugby with his father Edwin Robert Stebbing, aged 54 (born 1847), a retired Army Bandmaster (1st Warwickshire Regiment and in 1911 Bandmaster at Rugby School ) and mother, Annabella Rebecca Armstrong, aged 46, along with his sibling Percy K Stebbing aged 11.   Also in the house were visitors Elizabeth E Stebbing , sister, who was single and aged 27, Benjamin C Stebbing, brother, aged 20, who was a Bandsman in the 2nd Devon Regiment and born in Aden in 1881 , and Marion L Poole, his married sister, who was 25, along with her husband William Poole aged 29, a Bank Clerk, and Horace Pears aged 23 who was a Solicitors Cashier.

In 1911, aged 17, Sydney was a boarder living at 96 Broomfield Road, Earlsdon, Coventry working as a Milling Machine Minder in the Motor Cycle trade (likely to have been Rudge Works[2]), with George Stebbing aged 29 also an engineer in the same trade, Nellie his wife aged 25, and Percival Stebbing aged 2 months. Benjamin C Stebbing, Sydney’s brother, was at this time married and living in Nottingham and was a policeman.

Sydney Stebbing enlisted in November 1914 in the 3rd Battery of the Motor Machine Gun Service as a Gunner and his regimental number was 181.   The MMGS consisted of motor cycle mounted machine gun batteries and was administered by the Royal Field Artillery. It was later called the Machine Gun Corps (Motors).

Sydney Reginald Stebbing died in action at Zonnebeke and was buried in Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery south east of Dunkirk.

The CCWG citation states

In Memory of Gunner S R Stebbing 181, 3rd Bty., Machine Gun Corps (Motors) who died on 04 May 1915 Age 21 Remembered with Honour. Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery
Grave Reference: Plot II. Row D. Grave 9.

A gravestone to Sydney and his parents can be found in Clifton Road Cemetery.   Plot number J457:

In loving memory of Gunner SYDNEY REGINALD MMGS RFA youngest son of EDWIN ROBERT and ANABELLA REBECCA STEBBING who died in France of wounds received in action at Zonnebeke on 4th May 1915 aged 21 years & 7 months. “”Nobly he answered his country’s call.”” also of EDWIN ROBERT STEBBING his beloved father who died 28th July 1933 aged 86 years. “”At rest.”” Also ANABELLA REBECCA beloved wife of EDWIN ROBERT STEBBING died May 21st 1938 aged 84. “”Re-united.””

After Sydney’s death probate was granted to his father on 21 October 1915, in the amount of £103 11s 7d.

[1] City of Coventry Roll of the Fallen: The Great War 1914-1918 written by Charles Nowell

[2] Taken from http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=129178&page=2

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM