Hopkins, Leonard John. Died 30th Oct 1918

It is unusual for soldiers from Dunchurch to be included on the Rugby War Memorial Gate, so it was uncertain if the correct L. Hopkins had been identified.  However, no other more suitable candidate has been found.  If any information for any other L Hopkins is available, please advise this site, and he can be included.  Meanwhile, a young man, who died aged only 18, is certainly deserving of being Remembered.


Leonard John HOPKINS was born on 16 July 1900 in Dunchurch and registered there in Q3, 1900.  He was baptised St Peter’s Church, Dunchurch on 26 August 1900.  He was the first child of Elphinstone Henry Edward Hopkins, (b.c.1872 in Kilsby, Northamptonshire – d.c.1953 in Rugby), and his wife, Annie Maria, née Norman, Hopkins (b.c.1875, in Dunchurch – d.c.1955, Birmingham).  Their Banns were called on Sundays, 17 and 24 September and 1 October 1899, at Dunchurch, where they married on 11 October 1899, when she was 25 and he was 27.  He was then a ‘hedge carpenter’,[1] and the son of a ‘miller’ and her father was a ‘thatcher’.

In 1901, Leonard was 8 months old, and the family were living in Dunchurch.  Leonard’s father was now a ‘carter for a corn dealer’.

In 1911, when Leonard, was 10, the family was living in a three room house on The Green, at Dunchurch.  The head of the household was Leonard’s 78 year old maternal grandfather, John Norman.  His father was working as a ‘horse driver, waggoner’ for a ‘corn & coal carter’.  Leonard now had a four year old younger brother, Archibald.  It seems that Leonard attended the Dunchurch Boys’ School.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Leonard, and the only information is from a listing in ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’,[2] and information on the CWGC site.

Leonard joined up in Coventry,[3] and he served as a private, No: 81288, in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion (Territorials) of the Devonshire Regiment.

3/4th, 3/5th and 3/6th Battalions of the Devonshire Regiment formed at Exeter, Plymouth and Barnstaple respectively on 25 March 1915.  They moved to Bournemouth in August 1915, and then on 8 April 1916  became Reserve Battalions and the 4th then absorbed the 5th and 6th on 1 September 1916 at Hursley Park near Winchester.  The Battalion remained in England (moving to Bournemouth in October 1916, Sutton Veny in March 1917 and Larkhill in early 1918), until going to Ireland in April 1918.  Thereafter it was stationed at various times at Belfast, Londonderry and Clonmany.[4]

This confirms why Leonard was in Ireland in later 1918.  When he joined up he was probably still too young to go abroad, and the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Devonshires were already in India, or by 1918, in Egypt or Mesopotamia respectively.  Whilst he was in Ireland, he became ill and died of pneumonia in the Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.

Leonard’s body was returned to his home village of Dunchurch, for burial.  The family included an expression of gratitude to their friends in the Rugby Advertiser, 9 November 1918,[5]

MR & MRS. HOPKINS would like express their gratitude to all their kind friends who have shown such kindness and sympathy to them in their great sorrow; also for the beautiful Floral Tributes and all those who contributed towards them.

Also in that edition of the Rugby Advertiser was a report on the funeral.

DUNCHURCH – the funeral of Leonard J Hopkins, aged 18 years, son of Mr and Mrs Hopkins of Dunchurch, took place at Dunchurch on Tuesday last.  Deceased, who was a private in the Devon Reserves, died after a short illness in Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, Ireland.  Before joining the army he was employed as gardener at Thurlaston Grange, and a bunch of mauve chrysanthemums (his favourite flower) was sent by Mr Appleby, bearing the words, ‘These flowers he tended so carefully during his life are sent as a token of deep sympathy from all at Thurlaston Grange’.  The funeral service was conducted by the Vicar, the Rev E P Rowland, and the coffin was borne by four soldiers staying in the village.  Among the flowers were tributes from Mrs Mallam, Mr and Mrs Appleby, Mr and Mrs Dew, Mrs Borsley, Mr and Mrs Tomlin, and Mrs Busby.  The deceased was very popular with the boys of the village, and in addition to the above were wreaths from ‘His chums’, Pte R Jennings (serving in France), and the Scholars and Staff of Dunchurch Boys’ School.  The people of the village feel the greatest sympathy with Mr and Mrs Hopkins in their bereavement.’[6]

Leonard was buried in Dunchurch churchyard, and has a CWGC gravestone.  The inscription added to his gravestone by his family was, ‘HIS SUN WENT DOWN WHILE IT WAS YET DAY’.  His father’s name, Mr E Hopkins,  is given as the next of kin in the CWGC records.

As Leonard did not serve abroad – Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and counted as a ‘Home’ posting – he was not entitled to any medals and thus there is no Medal Card.

As well as his CWGC gravestone in St Peter’s church churchyard in Dunchurch, where he is remembered as ‘Hopkins L J’, Leonard is also remembered the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby as ‘Hopkins L’ and as ‘Leonard J Hopkins’, on the Dunchurch War Memorial, on the Green opposite Guy Fawkes House, Dunchurch.



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This article on Leonard John HOPKINS 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]      He may have just been a ‘hedger’, although http://www.grown-furniture.co.uk/history.html notes that ‘the Irish ‘hedge carpenter’ was a recognised craftsman, able to create a variety of useful wooden items.  He was so called for his ability to find many of the shapes he needed for his products – be they tools, farm implements, or furniture – growing naturally.’

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[3]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, from www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/devonshire-regiment/.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

Woodward, Arthur. Died 27th Oct 1918

Arthur WOODWARD was born on 13 December 1899 in Rugby.  He was the son of Thomas Woodward, who was a ‘carpenter and joiner’ born at Stretton-under Fosse on 4 February 1869, and Agnes Lillian, née Roden, born in Rugby on 12 December 1869.  They were married on 5 September 1893 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby.

By 1891 the family had moved to Rugby, and living at 25 Stephen Street.  Arthur’s father was then a ‘carpenter and joiner’, and he married two years later.    By 1901, their first son, Arthur Woodward, was two years old, and his brother, Bernard, was one.  Their father was still a ‘joiner – carp’ and the family was now living at 39 Stephen Street, Rugby.

In 1911, they were still at the same address, a five roomed house.  The brothers were at school; Arthur was 12 and Bernard, now more fully named Alfred Bernard, was 11.  Arthur’s parents had been married 16 years, and it seems that they had had three children, one of whom had died.  Arthur’s father was still a ‘joiner’ and was a ‘worker’ for a ‘builder’, quite possibly he was already working for J Parnell and Son of Rugby.

A later report[1] stated that Arthur Woodward attended St. Matthews School and after leaving school and before the war and joining up, it seems that he also worked for J Parnell and Son of Rugby.

Because of his age, Arthur should probably not joined up until about 1917 and he probably should not have gone abroad until at least the end on 1918.  However, his family relate that ‘he served in action in France and Flanders’ which suggests he went abroad before his Battalion went to Italy in later 1917 – so it seems almost certain that he lied about his age!

For some reason, possibly so he would not be recognised to be under age, he joined up in Taunton, and thus, perhaps unsurprisingly, he joined the Devonshire Regiment.  Arthur served, at least latterly, as a Private, No: 31616 in the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment

The 8th (Service) Battalion was formed at Exeter on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and from a nucleus of officers and NCOs from the 1st Battalion, and were attached as Divisional Troops to 14th (Light) Division.  In May 1915 they left the Division and landed at Le Havre on 26 July 1915.  On 4 August 1915 they came under orders of the 20th Brigade, 7th Division.

If Arthur did serve in France and Flanders, in early 1917, then he may have been with the 8th Bn. in April 1917 during the Battle of Arras, when the Battalion attacked Ecoust with great success and light casualties, or a month later, when they captured part of Bullecourt at a very much higher cost.    In early October 1917 the 8th Battalion was near Passchendaele in the worst of the Third Battle of Ypres and on 26 October, an unsuccessful attack on Gheluvelt again led to heavy casualties.  Arthur could perhaps have been in a draft of reinforcements after any of these actions.

In May 1915, the Italians had entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria.  Commonwealth forces were later transferred to the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.   In March 1918, XIV Corps (the 7th, 23rd and 48th Divisions) relieved Italian troops on the front line between Asiago and Canove, the front being held by two Divisions, with one Division in reserve on the plain.[2]

It is quite possible that Arthur only joined the 8th Battalion in France, just in time for them to be transferred to Legnano, Italy, as part of the 7th Division in November 1917.  They were to strengthen the Italian resistance against the Austria/Hungary forces.  By the end of January 1918 the 8th Battalion was in Northern Italy on the Piave front.  Later, on 21 October 1918, the 7th and 23rd Divisions were sent to the Treviso area of the River Piave front, taking over the section of the front from Salletuol to Palazzon, and serving as part of the Italian Tenth Army.

On the night of 23 October, the 8th Bn. captured Papadopoli Island.  The main channel of the river Piave was crossed using small boats and the northern half of the island was occupied, this being completed two nights later by a combined Commonwealth and Italian force.  This was the start of the decisive Battle of Vittoria Veneto ‎[24 October – 4 November 1918] which resulted in the Austrians being forced back and an Armistice coming into effect on 4 November 1918.

After the capture of the island, the Allied attack east of the Piave began early in the morning of 27 October 1918.  The bridging of the river Piave proceeded rapidly, however the strength of the current meant that the two bridges built for the crossing were frequently broken and many men were drowned.  It seems most likely that Arthur Woodward was one of those men tragically drowned when a bridge broke – his family related that he drowned when in Italy.[3]

Arthur died, ‘aged 20’, on Sunday, 27 October 1918.  He was then in fact only some 18 years and 10 months old – and was still under the official age of 19 for service ‘abroad’.[4]  He was buried at the Tezze British Cemetery in Plot 6. Row B. Grave 4. Tezze Provincia di Treviso – Veneto Italy.

Tezze is a village in the Province of Treviso, a large town north of Venice.  The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915.  Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.  The village of Tezze was captured by the Austrians in the advance in the autumn of 1917 and remained in their hands until the Allied forces crossed the River Piave at the end of October 1918.  Many of those who died on the north-east side of the river during the Passage of the Piave are buried in Tezze British Cemetery.  It now contains 356 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

Arthur’s grave stone had the following inscription added by his family, ‘Until the Day Breaks & the Shadows Flee Away from Father, Mother & Bernard, Rugby’.  The contact for the next of kin was his mother, Mrs L Woodward, 39 Stephen Street, Rugby.

The Rugby Advertiser reported,
‘Pte A Woodward, Devonshire Regiment, son of Mr T Woodward, 39 Stephen Street, was killed in action on October 28th.  He was an old St Matthew’s boy, and before enlisting he was employed by Messrs Parnell & Son,[5]

His death was also announced in the following January in the Coventry Evening Telegraph,
‘The Roll of Honour – Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included in the latest casualty lists:- Killed – Woodward, 31616. A. (Rugby) Devon Regt. …’.[6]

The Register of Effects suggests that his father received Arthur’s back pay of £4.16.11d on 29 March 1918, and his War Gratuity of £7 on 27 January 1920.  The official had given his date of death as 87.10.18, whilst the transcription read 8 October 1918!

Arthur WOODWARD was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

His mother, Agnes Lillian, died in 1946.  His father, Thomas Woodward, was one of the joiners who worked for J Parnell and Son of Rugby and who, in the early 1920s, helped to build Queen Mary’s Doll’s House at Windsor Castle.[7]  He died two years after his wife on 25 March 1948.

Arthur’s brother, Bernard Alfred Woodward, also served in WWI, joining up as a ‘young soldier’ at Budbrook on 17 January 1918.  His somewhat confused Service Record, which may include references to another soldier, has him posted as No:57031 to the 3rd Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment and then as No:45669 in the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment and latterly as No:44808 in the 2nd/7th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment and attached to the 9th Worcesters.  It seems that he did go to France, and then from April to June 1918, he had 50 days in hospital with an injured left index finger at ‘Fargo SP’[8] at Larkhill, Wiltshire and this may have been the occasion when the Rugby Advertiser later in November 1918, advised that he had been wounded.[9]  He was not discharged until later in 1919.




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This article on Arthur WOODWARD was initiated by Janet Potter, a relative by marriage, and was further researched, with military additions, by John P H Frearson for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project.  It is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.


[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 21 December 1918.

[2]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[3]      Information from Janet Potter, a member of the Rugby Family History Group, who relates that her husband, Tony Potter, also a member, was told that the Battalion were crossing a bridge which collapsed and Arthur was drowned.  Arthur’s younger brother Bernard was married to Maida, the sister of Lily Sarah (née Lowe), Tony Potter’s mother.  [ref: Emails: Janet Potter, 11 & 12 September 2018].

[4]      Official government policy was that you had to be 18 to sign up and 19 to fight overseas. In the early twentieth century most people didn’t have birth certificates, so it was easy to lie about your age.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 21 December 1918.

[6]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday, 8 January 1919.

[7]      Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House was built in the early 1920s, completed in 1924, for Queen Mary, the wife of King George V.

[8]      Fargo Camp (Larkhill) was a hospital established at the army base in Wiltshire.  It had 1037 beds.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

23rd Jun 1917. Heavy Thunderstorm, Soldier killed at Ryton-on-Dunsmore


The brilliant and summer-like weather which prevailed last week culminated on Saturday in a shade temperature of 87 degrees. In the evening a thunderstorm passed over the district, accompanied by a moderate but welcome rainfall. On Sunday the temperature was 2 or 3 degrees lower, but the atmosphere was still more oppressive. During the morning heavy peals of thunder were heard at a distance, and a little after three o’clock in the afternoon there was a recurrence of these, and the discharges continued without intermission till about eight o’clock. The thunder clouds seemed to be circling round the country north and west of Rugby, and the storm was raging with great violence in the direction of Coventry. At length between five and six o’clock—it took a course over Rugby and the immediate neighbourhood, and rain fell more or less heavily till shortly before eight o’clock, when the climax came in a remarkable bombardment from above. People were startled by a sudden rattling on roofs, windows, and glass-houses-the noise amounting almost to a roar—and hailstones of abnormal size were seen to be crashing down from the clouds. This lasted about five minutes, is which time the ground was well covered with the icy missiles.

The full force of the storm was experienced at Bourton. Some of the hailstones that fell there weighed between 2 and 3ozs, and considerable damage was done to property and growing crops. At Bourton Hall, the residence of Mr F J Shaw, several hundred panes of glass were smashed, and the windows of numerous other houses were broken. The large hailstones tore off the young shoots of fruit trees, strawberries, cucumbers, and kidney beans, and flattened out a large quantity of mowing grass. A great many hailstones were as large as walnuts, and some measured more than 2ins. across. For a short time the wind blew with great force, and an umbrella in the hands of a pedestrian was quickly torn to ribbons. Windows at Draycote Chapel were broken.

At Dunchurch considerable damage was done to crops and glass. No less than 120 panes of glass in windows and greenhouses were broken on Mr Mallam’s School premises. At Dunchurch Lodge and Bilton Grange the glass also suffered badly, some 400 broken panes being counted at the latter place. Windows at the church were broken, and a large piece of lead was torn from the roof. Some of the masses of hail that fell here measured from 2 to 2¼ inches in diameter, and weighed nearly 3ozs.

At Bilton measurements of hailstones taken about ten minutes after the cessation of the storm were from three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a quarter diameter. A fine oak tree on the main road between Bilton and Cawston was struck by lightning and badly seamed.

At Newbold-on-Avon a chimney stack at the Vicarage was split by the lightning, but, unfortunately, the debris instead of penetrating the roof, lodged against another chimney. The electricity passing along the bell-wires fused some of them, and also caused damage to the wall paper in several rooms. Several trees in the neighbourhood were struck.

At Marton a lot of damage was done by the enormous hailstones to windows and greenhouses, and potato tops on many plots were badly cut about. Some hailstones measured six inches in circumference. A thunderbolt was seen to fall in a field belonging to Mr Steane near the church.

The gable end of the Chequers Inn at Lilbourne, occupied by Mrs Rouse, was struck and a number of slates were displaced.


A sad fatality occurred at Ryton-on-Dunsmore during the storm on Sunday evening to Pte J Stephens, of the Devonshire Regiment, a farm hand who had been working for Mr T Pearman as a substitute. At the inquest on Tuesday Mr E Bagshaw was foreman of the jury.—Pte J James, also of the Devonshire Regiment who had been working with deceased for a fortnight, said he went to evening service at Wolston Church, and on returning to meet Stephens as arranged, found him lying dead under a tree by the roadside.—Laura Mead, of Ryton, who was cycling with a friend, said she went under an elm tree for shelter. Stephens was also there and he advised them to “ hop to Ryton Vicarage, or they would get very wet.” They acted upon his advise, but did not know why he stayed himself. Witness heard afterwards that he had been killed.—Amy Redhouse, also of Ryton, stated that she was cycling home from Wolston with a friend after the storm, and just before reaching the London Road, about 8.15 p.m, saw deceased lying under a tree. By the appearances, she concluded that he had been struck by lightning, and at once rode to inform P.C Jenson at Stretton. This officer described exactly the position in which he found the body feet towards the road and body and head towards the elm tree-and said deceased had evidently fallen exactly where he stood. His hat was split right round the brim and the stiffening wire was torn out. The hair at the back of the head was singed, but there were no other traces of burning. Several nails had been driven out of his boots. About 4½ft. from the tree the road was torn up in the shape of a V to a depth of 1½Ft to 2½ ft, and there were also marks on the tree. Witness was complimented by the Coroner for the excellent description he had given, and also thanked Miss Mead for the trouble she took. He remarked that it was curious that deceased warned the ladies, but did not move away himself. He was evidently willing to take a risk. A verdict of “ Death through being struck by lightning ” was returned.-The jury expressed their sympathy with the widow, and returned their fees for her. A Ryton resident added 5s, and the Coroner said he was also pleased to subscribe.

Deceased was a strong, healthy man, and Mr Pearman found him quite satisfactory as a substitute in all respects. His home was at 28 Gloucester Street, Cirencester. He had served 12 years in the Army before war broke out, and being then nearly 45 years of age, was kept on home service. He was a married man with three children at the time of his death, but since the sad occurrence his wife has given birth to a fourth child.


Mrs Welch, of 35 Union Street, has received official intimation that her husband, Pte Ernest Edward Welch, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on April 28th.

The death took place in Rugby Infirmary, on the 10th Inst, of Pioneer Wm Barrows, late 11th Hants Regiment, youngest son of David Barrows, 51 James Street. Before the War he was driver of a Diesel engine at the local Waterworks. He joined up in September, 1914, and saw much service in France at Loos, Ginchy, &c. He was discharged on May 23, 1917, medically unfit, suffering from cancer of the tongue.

Pte Harry Rogers, of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and the eldest son of Mr & Mrs H Rogers, of Flore, Northants, and nephew of Mr & Mrs H Miller, 10 Alfred Street, Lawford Road, Rugby, has recently been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry and skill on patrol work. Crawling near to the enemy lines under a heavy shell fire, and after being buried three times under debris, he succeeded in obtaining valuable information. Pte Rogers has been twice wounded, and before the War was employed at Rugby Station (L & N-W Railway).

Captain Edward Ernest Wynne, Leicestershire Regiment, who was killed on June 8th, the day following his 22nd birthday, was the eldest son of the Rev E H & Mrs Wynne, of Guestling Rectory, Sussex, formerly curate of St Matthew’s, Rugby. Educated at Uppingham, he became captain of cricket and fives, and was also a member of the football XV and the hockey XI. After war broke out he quickly obtained a commission in the Leicestershire Regiment, having previously joined the Public Schools Brigade. He had seen close on two years’ service at the front, and fell leading his company in the face of a very heavy fire with the object of taking an enemy machine gun by which they were being delayed.

Mr & Mrs Parkinson, of the Old Bank House, Southam, and formerly of Rugby, has been informed that their son, Second-Lieut Horace J A Parkinson, of the 4th Leicestershire Regiment, was seriously wounded in France on the 8th inst. He was educated at the Lower School, Rugby, and before joining the Army was in Parrs Bank, Leicester, and formerly at the Lutterworth Branch. He is making satisfactory progress.

Lieut H L Satchell, R.W.R, attached to the R.F.C, son of Mr J G Satchell, Dunchurch Road, has been promoted flight commander and temporary captain.

Between £9 and £10, realised by some sports at Tyntesfield School will be divided between the Red Cross Hospitals and the Hospital of St Cross.


The funeral of the late Lieut Fitzroy Porter, R.F.C, whose death from a machine gunshot accident was reported in our last issue, took place on Monday, the 11th inst., at Sefton, Liverpool, near the residence of his father, Blundelsands, amid manifestations of great sorrow and sympathy for the young officer’s tragic death. Several of the officers of the R.F.C Squadron at Lilbourne attended the funeral of their lamented comrade.

In our report of the accident it should have been stated that the deceased officer was detained at the R.F.C Camp Hospital for some time after the accident under the care of Surgeon-Major Charles Collins, M.D, R.F.C, before being removed in the squadron ambulance to the Brookfield Nursing Home of Rugby Hospital for further treatment, where he subsequently died.

MORE LOCAL PRISONERS OF WAR.—There have been three additions to the Rugby list of prisoners of war this week vis :— Pte P Gamble Davis, Lincolnshire Regiment (interned at Doeberitz), and whose home is at Dunchurch, formerly Church Lawford ; Sergt H Beers, King’s Liverpool Regiment (interned at Minden), formerly New Bilton ; and Pte Peddlesdon, East Surrey Regiment (interned at Dulmen), of Rugby. With regard to the last-named man considerable enquiries had to be made before he could be traced to his prison camp. Arrangements have been made for the standard food parcels and bread to be sent to these men on behalf of the Rugby Prisoners of War Help Committee.


MR J LINE has received information that his son Walter Lines, of the Buffs, was wounded on May 3rd, and is a prisoner in Germany.


MR A TURNER has received official news that his son, Lance-Corpl Horace W Turner, Royal West Surrey Regiment, was wounded on May 16th. He enlisted in Kitchener’s Army about a month after the outbreak of war.


MILITARY FUNERAL.-The late Col-Sergt-Major Mulcaster was buried with military honours at Dunchurch on Saturday, last. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack, on which were placed the cap and belt of the deceased, was borne shoulder high to the church by six sergeants of the Manchester Regiment. The path from the churchyard gates to the church door was lined on each side by the boys of Dunchurch Hall School (at which the deceased was gymnastics instructor for twelve years) and the firing party sent down by the Regiment. The Burial Service was read by the Rev B B Carter, military chaplain of the Indian Government and priest-in-charge at Dunchurch. Mrs E R Gilling presided at the organ, and the psalms and hymns were nicely sung by the boys of the choir. The funeral procession left the church to the strains of the Dead March in Saul. Among the mourners were the wife and children of the deceased, Mr Wm Mulcaster (brother), Lieut & Mrs Bullivant (brother-in-law and sister-in-law), Mrs Long (sister-in-law), Mr & Mrs Wolley, Nurse Butcher, Col-Sergt Sutton, Col-Sergt-Major Grognett, Col-Sergt-Major Wilcox, Com-Sergt-Major Pomfret, Com-Sergt-Major Casey, Com-Sergt-Major Smith, Reg-Sergt-Major Prosser (all of the Manchester Regiment), M C G Mallam, Mr More, Mr Oakley, Dr Powell, Mr J H Dew, Mr J H Abbott, M E Iliff, Mr G White, Mr J Loydall, Mr T Haynes, Mr P Heap, Mr T Whiteman, Mr J Nias, and Mr S Whiteman. A number of ladies were present in church, including three of the Dunchurch nurses of the Bilton V.A.D. Hospital. A very large number of people assembled in the churchyard, and quietly and reverently watched the funeral. At the close of the service three volleys were fired over the grave by sixteen men of the Manchester Regiment, and the “ Last Post ” was then blown by two of the same regiment. Floral tributes were laid on the grave from : Wife and Children ; Mr & Mrs Bullivant ; Mr & Mrs Long ; Mr & Mrs Mallam, Joyce, Brenda, John, Monica, and Stephen Mallam ; “ His Boys at Dunchurch Hall ” ; Miss Hume ; Mr Oakley and Mr Mort ; the indoor and outdoor servants at Dunchurch Hall ; Major & Mrs Neilson and Lieut H Holdsworth ; Rev B B & Mrs Carter, Mr P P Rodocanachi ; Mr & Mrs Dew ; Mr & Mrs Wolley ; Mr & Mrs H V Tait ; Mr & Mrs Taylor ; Mrs Weston and family ; “ His Brothers-in-Arms ” ; Teddie Dowling ; the members of the Dunchurch Social Club ; the boys of Dunchurch ; Boughton Endowed School ; and the children of the Dunchurch Girls’ and Infants’ Schools.


WOUNDED SOLDIERS’ ENTERTAINED.—On Saturday afternoon the soldiers from Pailton House Hospital were entertained to tea at Harborough Magna School. After tea, which was provided with the money left over from the May festival, and with the help of a few friends, each soldier was presented with a packet of cigarettes by Mrs Bird. During the evening the May-day ceremony was repeated.


An impression has got abroad that war bread is not nourishing. This is erroneous. War bread is made of the most nourishing portions of wheat, barley, maise and rice, and should be found quite as sustaining and nourishing as white bread. A good deal of the imaginary difficulties with war bread would entirely disappear were everyone to make it a practice to thoroughly masticate the bread before swallowing, along the lines of the article which appeared in our columns last week.

There appears to be some confusion on the question of substitutes, and there is no doubt that the question of substitutes has troubled many people. In the early days of the Food Campaign a great deal too much was made of the importance of using substitutes. At the present time rice, barley, maize, oats, rye, &c, cannot be regarded as substitutes, as they form part of the whole bulk of cereals from which flour is obtained for incorporation in our bread. The Food Controller has stated that oatmeal may be used for porridge and rice for puddings outside the limits of the voluntary ration, but the use of other cereals should be kept within limits of the ration. It is also, of course, desirable that oatmeal and rice for porridge and puddings should be used sparingly, as pressure of demand upon these must inevitably tend to produce scarcity in these articles also.

It is clear that those engaged in heavy, manual labour, who have not the money to buy articles of food to take the place of bread, cannot get down to the 4-lb limit ; but they can, to some extent, reduce their consumption of cereals, provided they make a genuine, honest endeavour to do this. It should be borne in mind by everyone, however, that in order to prevent the necessity for compulsory rationing, each one must eat something less of the cereals, so that voluntary rationing can be allowed to continue.


BARROWS.—On the 10th inst., at the Rugby Infirmary, the beloved son of David and Mrs. Barrows (late 12271, 11th Hants. Regiment) ; aged 45 years.—“ He answered his country’s call.”

TERRY.—On June 7th (died of wounds received in action in Mesopotamia), AMBROSE JOSEPH TERRY, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the dearly beloved only son of A. & M. A. Terry, of Crick ; aged 24 years.

WELCH.—April 28th, in France, ERNEST EDWARD WELCH, beloved husband of Bertha Welch, 35 Union Street.—“ Gone, but not forgotten.”

WELCH.—Killed in action on April 29th, ERNEST EDWARD WELCH, only son of the late Edward and Mrs. Welch, Union Street, Rugby.
“ Nobly he answered duty’s call,
And for his country gave his all.
Until the day breaks, dear Ern—good-bye.”
-Sadly missed and in silence mourned by his loving MOTHER and SISTERS.


GREER.—In loving memory of Private R. GREER, 1st Royal Inniskillings, who was killed in action at the Dardaneles on June 18, 1915.—Never forgotten by his friends at 12 Argyle Street.

HUGHES.—In ever-loving memory of JACK, who was killed in France on June 18, 1915.—“ Though lost to sight, to memory ever dear.”—From MAUD.

HUGHES.—In loving memory of our dear son and brother, JACK, who was killed in action in France on June 18, 1915.
“ Not dead to those who loved him,
Not lost, hut gone before ;
He lives with us in memory,
And will for evermore.”
—Never forgotten by his loving PARENTS, SISTER EDIE, BROTHERS, and KITTY and DICK.

Vesey-Fitzgerald, William Herbert Leslie. Died 14th Aug 1916

William Herbert Leslie Vesey-Fitzgerald, or more fully, William Herbert Leslie Foster-Vesey-Fitzgerald was born on 23 October 1889, in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada, the second son of Gerald William Vesey Foster-Vesey-Fitzgerald, b.c.1850, and his Australian born wife, Emma Amelia Vickers, the daughter of Robert Leslie Vickers J.P. of Manitoba.

The family were of Irish descent. William’s grandfather, William Foster Vesey-Fitzgerald, was born in Dublin on 12 July 1815, and died in Rugby on 7 April 1895. The family moved to Rugby before 1881, when William’s grandfather was a ‘landowner and magistrate’, living at 5 Arnold Villas. William’s father, William Herbert Vesey-Fitzgerald attended Rugby School and then moved before 1881 to Manitoba, Canada, as a farmer, and married there in 1885. In 1886 they were in Franklin, Manitoba, and then moved to Emerson, Manitoba where William was born in 1889, and the family were in Provencher, Manitoba for the census in 1891.

Before 1899, the family had returned to Rugby and in 1901, when William was 11, they were living at 24 Murray Road. His elder brother, Gerald Arthur Verey Fitzgerald, was 14, and his Rugby born younger sister, Norah Gladys Joyce Verey Fitzgerald, was two.

Like his father he went to Rugby School from 1902 to 1907 and was a member of the ‘Town’ [House] until his last year, when, presumably having become a border, he was in ‘Stallard’ House. He was in the XI in 1907.

In 1911 he was living with his widowed father (his mother had died aged only 44 at Bideford in late 1909) at 1 St. Dunstan’s Grove Road, Sutton, Surrey, still single and described as a ‘Clerk in an Insurance Office’. This may have been part of his ‘… training in an office in London’, and in 1912 he went to the Malay States to grow rubber.[1]

On the outbreak of War he returned to England and joined the Inns of Court O.T.C where he obtained his Commission in June 1915, as a 2nd Lieutenant, initially in the 3rd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.

The undermentioned members of the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps to be Second Lieutenants (on probation). Dated 2nd June, 1915, unless otherwise stated:- William Herbert Leslie Vesey-Fitzgerald, 3rd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.[2]

Vesey Fitzgerald in Rugb Mem vol III crop

The 3rd Battalion had moved to Devonport in May 1915 and was a training unit which was also used as the garrison for the defences of Plymouth; it remained in UK throughout the war. It is assumed that he was under training with the 3rd Battalion for an initial period whilst a Second Lieutenant ‘on probation’. Indeed, it seems that he may have been stationed in the north of the county, as he is also remembered on the memorial in the churchyard at Abbotsham, so must have become a member of that parish. He probably transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment when he was confirmed in his rank on 10 June 1916,[3] and would have soon after this – as noted in the Rugby Memorial Album, ‘in July 1916’ – that he left for the Front in France, doubtless as part of the Battalion’s reinforcement after its losses on the Somme.

The Somme Offensive had started on 1 July 1916, and would last until November that year. On the first day, officially the Battle of Albert, the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment was involved in the advance on Pozieres and was destroyed by machine gun fire and barrage. There were 16 officer and 400 other rank casualties.[4] The Battalion was pulled out of the line later that day and on 5 July they left the Somme and were attached to the First Army.

His Medal Card does not provide any additional information.   However, he is mentioned in the Diary of the 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment,[5] and his very short active service period in France can be identified. By mid-July the 2nd Battalion had been moved, travelling in a loop via Mericourt, Ailly, Soues, Dieval and Barlin to Cuinchy, just north of Lens, where they relieved the 14th Hampshire regiment on 14 July. During this period on 18 July, the Germans exploded a mine, which misfired destroying their own trench and the Battalion took advantage of this to attack; several awards for Gallantry resulted from this action. On 21 July, a British mine was exploded. The Battalion was relieved by the 2nd W. Yorkshires on 22 July 1916 and went into ‘support’.

On 24 July, whilst still in support, the Battalion …

‘… Received draft of 26 Other Ranks. 2/Lieut. C Law, 2/Lieut. W. H. L. Vesey-Fitzgerald and 2/Lieut. A. W. Harrison joined the Battn.’

On 26 July they relieved the 2nd Scottish Rifles in the trenches and were there, subjected to shelling and involved in various small scale raids and counter-raids, until the afternoon of 30 July when they were relieved by the 1st Northampton Regiment and moved to billets in Annequin (see map below[6]), a short distance behind the front line.   They remained there until 4 August, providing R.E. working parties, being inspected and those who had shown gallantry at Cuinchy on 18 July, just before William’s arrival were presented with their medal ribbons.

Map of Cuinchy

Map of Cuinchy

They received a draft of 158 other ranks, and more officers and then moved to billets at Fouquieres on 5 August and on 7 August relieved the 1st Royal Irish Rifles in the Right Sub-Section and organised a raiding party. On 8 August they were relieved and moved to Brigade Reserve and furnished working parties until 11 August when they ‘… relieved the 2/Sco. Rifs. in the trenches from Boyau 109 (exclusive) to Mud Alley (inclusive) …’. There was considerable activity with patrols, trench mortar activity, bombardments and heavy rifle fire.

On 14 August, after the previous quieter day …

Both sides were active with artillery and Trench Mortars, the latter especially. Our snipers were active and met with considerable success, accounting for several of the enemy. …   Casualties. 2/Lieut. W.H.L. Vesey Fitzgerald killed (rifle fire) …

He was killed in action on 14 August 1916, by a sniper only three weeks after joining the Battalion on 24 July. He was 26. His Colonel wrote of him as a most capable Officer, with great influence among his men, and most popular with all ranks.[7] His death was also announced in a Devon paper.[8]

The next day (15 August) the Battalion was again relieved by the 2nd Scottish Rifles and moved into reserve providing working parties – with 2 officers and 125 Other Ranks proceeding to Sailly Labourse to be attached to 180th Tunneling Coy R.E. for Spoils Party.

William was buried in Plot III. N. 9. in the Vermelles British Cemetery, Vermelles, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France (for location, see map above).

Vermelles is a village 10 kilometres north-west of Lens.   The cemetery was begun in August 1915 and during the Battle of Loos, when the Chateau was used as a dressing station and Plot I was completed. The remaining Plots were made by the Divisions holding the line 1.6 kilometres east of the cemetery until April 1917.

His parents, Gerald and Emma Vesey Fitzgerald, were now living at 15 Nevern Place, London, S. W. 5

William Herbert Leslie Vesey-Fitzgerald is remembered on several memorials:

– Rugby Memorial Gates, Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

– Rugby School Memorial Book and the Rugby School Memorial Chapel.

– Abbotsham Churchyard 1914-1918 Memorial (above) – ‘Lieut William Herbert Leslie Vesey Fitzgerald of the 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of Gerald and Amelia Emma Fitzgerald. Born in 1890. Died 14 August 1916 aged 26.’

– The London WWI memorial, as he had also lived in Earl’s Court, London.



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This article on William Herbert Leslie Vesey-Fitzgerald 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, August 2014.

[1]       Edited from: Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War, Volume III, p.256.

[2]       The London Gazette, 1 June, 1915, p.5217.

[3]       Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Tuesday, 11 April 1916.

[4]       http://www.winkleighheroes.co.uk/level3/devonshires.htm

[5]       War Diary, 23rd Infantry Brigade: 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, 1 November 1914 – 31 December 1916, The National Archives, Kew, Ref: WO 95/1712/1.

[6]       http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/others/cuinchy.html.

[7]       Edited from: Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War, Volume III, p.256.

[8]       Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Thursday, 24 August 1916.