Golby, George Arthur. Died 22nd Mar 1917

George Arthur GOLBY, was born in Paddington, London, in about early 1895, the son of Arthur John Golby, a painter, and his wife, Emma née Hamer, who was born in Marylebone, London. Arthur and Emma’s marriage had been registered in Greenwich in Q2 1894. Whilst George was born in Paddington, it seems likely his mother had been visiting her parents.

The family seems to have been established in Rugby, where Arthur John Golby had been born in about 1868 in Hillmorton, his father in turn having come to Hillmorton from Oxfordshire, before the 1880s, to work as a bricklayer.

George was christened at Hillmorton on 14 April 1895 and his sister was born in Rugby in about 1897.   By 1911 the family were living at 5 Paradise Street, Rugby.

George attended Murray School, where he was the ‘… winner of the Over Prize – which is offered annually to the boy who, in the opinion of his fellows, shows the best example of true manliness – in 1907.’[1] By 1911, when George was 16, he was a Clerk for an Electrical Engineers, and living with his parents and younger sister. He is not mentioned on the British Thompson Houston memorial, so must have worked for another firm in Rugby.

There is some confusion over George’s military service. His death notice suggested that he was a ‘…L-Corpl … of one of the Rifle Corps …’, however, his Medal Card and the CWGC describe him as Sapper No.95858 in the 89th Field Company Royal Engineers [RE]. His Medal Card also stated that he went to France on 30 October 1915, although there is no specific mention of reinforcements arriving with the 89th around that date in the War Diary.

The 89th Field Company were attached to the 14th Division which had been in action in August and September 1916 at Hooge, Delville Wood and Flers-Courccelette. It seems likely that George was part of the general reinforcement during the ‘quieter’ winter period as between 30 October and George’s death on 22 March 1917, the 14th Division and hence the 89th were not in any major actions, although they would later be actively involved in the battles at Scarpe in April 1917.

George wrote a letter to W T Coles Hodges which was published in the Rugby Advertiser in January 1916.[2]

OLD MURRAYIAN’S LETTER

Sapper Geo A Golby, a former scholar at the Murray School, and an “Over” Prize man, in a letter to Mr W T Coles Hodges[3] from the front says: “I have been out here since early in October, and have got quite used to the shells, etc, screaming over my head … I look forward to receiving the Rugby Advertiser every week, and am always pleased when I see the name of one of my old school chums in the list of recruits. I think by the number of names I have seen that our school is doing its share to free the world of these barbarians, and I am sure that if those who have not enlisted could just have a glimpse of this country, they would not hesitate for a minute. Only this morning we passed about a dozen old people (all between 60 and 70 years of age, I should think) whom the Germans had shelled out of their homes. It is a sight such as these that make us so anxious to get at the Huns. … I am pleased to say we are having a spell of fine weather just now, and goodness only knows we want it, as we are nearly up to our knees in mud in some places. This is the only thing to complain of out here; the food is extra.”

However, George was killed ‘… by a stray shell …’ on 22 March 1917 which was a month before the battle of Arras, when he was involved in work just to the south of Arras making the preparations for that battle.

The 89th Field Company’s War Diary[4] relates that in later February 1917 the Company had been strengthening defences in Arras, working to prepare Advanced Dressing Stations, strengthening cellars, preparing Trench Mortar positions and signal stations. From 18-20 March 1917 they were working on bridging trenches and were subjected to heavy shelling by the Germans. Then on 21 and 22 March …

21 March – … Nos. 3 and 4 Sections with two parties of 80 men each from 41st Bde, clearing main road through Beaurains.

22 March … Work the same as 21st. … No.4 Section caught by shellfire in Ronville … casualties, Lce Cpl Mitchell, Lce Cpl Golby, Saprs Anderson, E Durston, J Jones, Little, killed, …

Three more of the Engineers in that working group were wounded and two concussed.

George was buried at Beaurains Road Cemetery, Beaurains in grave ref: 1 C 21. His mother chose the inscription, ‘Lord we asked of thee life. But thou hast given him life everlasting’. The cemetery was near where he had been working on the southern outskirts of Arras. The five other men from his Field Company who were killed by the same shell were buried beside him in graves C18 to C23.

The cemetery was only begun a few days before Beaurains was captured by Commonwealth forces on 18 March 1917 [just four days before George’s death]. It was a month before the Battle of Arras began, and the Germans were still in nearby Tilloy-les-Mofflaines. The cemetery was used (sometimes under the name of Ronville Forward Cemetery) until the beginning of June by the 14th (Light) Division Burial Officer and by fighting units.[5]

George was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate. The Rugby Advertiser noted that ‘… all the Over prizemen, who are of military age are actually in the firing line, and that two have made the great sacrifice, the other being Corpl Barnwell.’[6]

After the war, his mother was writing to the CWGC from 202 Ducane Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London, and it seems that Emma and George had moved to London – George’s death was registered in Hammersmith in 1927.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on George Arthur GOLBY 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]       From a notice of death in the Rugby Advertiser.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 8 January 1916.

[3]       Wm Thos Coles Hodges of 17 Gainsborough Street, Rugby, was headmaster of Murray School from at least 1906.

[4]       Royal Engineers, 14th Division: Piece 1889/3: 89 Field Company Royal Engineers (1915 May – 1919 Jun). Also available at www.ancestry.co.uk.

[5]       CWGC, http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/…

[6]       Lance Corporal George Thomas BARNWELL, No.3026, 1st/6th Bn South Staffs, was killed on 15 July 1915. He was the son of J and E Barnwell of 35 Claremont Road, Rugby and buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. See https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/barnwell-george-thomas-died-15th-jul-1915/.

8th Jan 1916. Pigeons on War Service

PIGEONS ON WAR SERVICE

WARNING AGAINST SHOOTING

Attention is called by the War Office to the fact that a large number of carrier or homing pigeons are being utilised for naval and military purposes, and that recently many of these birds have been shot at and killed or wounded when homing to their lofts.

The public are earnestly requested to exercise the greatest care to avoid repetition of such unfortunate incidents, and are warned that persons convicted of wilfully shooting such birds are liable to prosecution.

Persons who are unable to distinguish with certainty carrier or homing pigeons on the wing from wood pigeons, doves, and the like, should refrain from firing at any birds of these species.

Any person who finds any carrier or homing pigeon dead or incapable of flying from wounds, injuries, or exhaustion is earnestly requested immediately to take the bird to the nearest military authorities or to the police, or if unable to secure the bird he should immediately give information to one or other of those authorities.

Information regarding the shooting of such birds should be given to the same authorities.

LOCAL WAR NOTES

Lieut C T Morris Davies, of Rugby – the Welsh international hockey player, and Captain of the Rugby Hockey Club – who has been in France for about ten months, is now on a week’s leave from his regiment, the 6th Warwickshire. He visited Rugby on Saturday last on his way to his home near Aberystwyth. The hardships of trench life do not seem to have affected his health, as he was looking exceedingly well.

L-CORPL W H ADAMS, OF DUNCHURCH, PRESUMED TO BE DEAD.

This week Mr and Mrs H Adams, of Dunchurch, received a communication from the Government to the effect that as no further news had been received concerning Lance-Corpl William Henry Adams, of the 2nd R.W.R, who has been missing since about October 20th, 1914, it was presumed that he was killed at about that date. The usual letter of condolence was enclosed. Lance-Corpl Adams, who was 24 years of age, had served nearly seven years in the Army, and had secured a first-class certificate for signalling. At the front he acted as a bicycle despatch rider, but had only been in France a week or two before he met his death. Some time ago the parents received news that their son was a prisoner at Gottingen, Germany, but inquiry being made it was ascertained that this was not so.

WELL-KNOWN JOCKEY INTERNED IN GERMANY

Mr and Mrs Davies, of Lower Street, Hillmorton, have since the outbreak of the war been anxiously waiting for news of their son, Fred Davies, who was in Germany in the summer of last year and was interned there. At last a letter has been received from him by his sister, living in Surrey. He is interned at Ruhleben, and writes to acknowledge the safe arrival of a top coat, which he says “fits a treat and is very warm.” At night the coat is used as a blanket for his bed. He adds that he is now all right for clothes, but would much appreciate condensed milk, butter, sugar, a bit of cheese, or a little tin of salmon. As a jockey Fred Davies has done well, having finished second on the list in that country. He was riding for Mr Beit, a Hamburg owner of race horses, when diplomatic relations were broken off between this country and Germany, with the result that, with many others in Germany at the time, he was detained.

OLD MURRAYIAN’S LETTER

Sapper Geo A Golby, a former scholar at the Murray School, and an “Over” Prize man, in a letter to Mr W T Coles Hodges from the front says: “I have been out here since early in October, and have got quite used to the shells, etc, screaming over my head… I look forward to receiving the Rugby Advertiser every week, and am always pleased when I see the name of one of my old school chums in the list of recruits. I think by the number of names I have seen that our school is doing its share to free the world of these barbarians, and I am sure that if those who have not enlisted could just have a glimpse of this country, they would not hesitate for a minute. Only this morning we passed about a dozen old people (all between 60 and 70 years of age, I should think) whom the Germans had shelled out of their homes. It is a sight such as these that make us so anxious to get at the Huns. .. I am pleased to say we are having a spell of fine weather just now, and goodness only knows we want it, as we are nearly up to our knees in mud in some places. This is the only thing to complain of out here; the food is extra.”

Pte George Leach (“Bogie”), another Old Murrayian, who is at present in the Near East, in a letter to his old headmaster, says: It is most interesting to see some of the natives with their garbs and costumes, and their methods of transport with market wares, which vividly remind me of the Biblical times we read about.

FROM AN OLD ST MATTHEW’S BOY

The following extract from letters of an “old boy” of St Matthew’s School to Mr R H Myers, headmaster, will be read with interest:-

Sergt Frank Chater, serving with the Nigerian Forces, writes: ” I have now been in the Cameroons some time. When I reached Africa I disembarked at Lagos, caught a train for there the same night, and after two nights and one day on the train, reached Minna. I rested there for a day, then did another day’s train journey to Baro, where I got on a steam boat and went up the River Niger to Lokaja. I stayed a coupe of days at Lokaja, then got on the River Benue and had a fourteen days’ run to Yola. The river journey is the reverse of pleasant, owing to the close proximity of the natives in a small boat. The smell from them and the engines combine to make a most uncomfortable time to be a white man. I remained three days in Yola, and then started on a fifteen days’ trek through the bush, to join the column at a place called Mora in the Cameroons. I rather fancy this is a record journey for a newcomer to the country. I turned out for action the same day that I reached the column, but nothing happened. On the following night we stormed the German position, which is on the top of a mountain. It was a terrible job, but after climbing all night up and over rocks, some of which seemed like the side of a house, we nearly reached the top by daybreak. The Germans gave us a warm reception, and we charged to try and take the fort. We were repulsed, though, and had to retire and take cover behind rocks, where we managed to hold on till dark, being neither able to advance or retire. However, under cover of darkness we managed to get away. I was fortunate to get off safely. One officer was killed and another wounded, and native soldiers were hit all round. We have now given up the idea of taking the place by assault, and are trying to starve them out. .. This scrapping in the Cameroons is not all honey by a long way. Here is a sample of my job. outpost duty in the bush, with 30 native soldiers, no one to talk to, and never knowing when you may run into German sniping parties, and the only water to be had from a filthy old well, which anyone at home would shudder to look at. Just now I am better off, being in charge of a small fort on a hill. We are, however, uncomfortably near to the German position, and they keep potting away if you try to move, so that the only chance of exercise is in the dark.

We are at the end of a range of mountains running down to the coast, and beyond the mountains is Lake Chad, only about three weeks’ trek from here. The people are all pagans, and the hill tribes are rather a poor type of native. All they wear is a goatskin round their loins. They will do anything for the white man, and appear to like the English, but we know that they supply the Germans with food and water so it is no good trusting them.

 

RUGBY FOOTBALL MATCH NEAR THE TRENCHES.

A Rugby football match between “ A ” and “ C ” Companies of the 1st/7th Warwicks was played near the trenches in France recently, which ” C ” Company won by a try. The teams were :—

“ C ” Company : R Edwards ; L Dewis, A Bale, P Hammond, Lance-corpl E Iliffe ; A Loave, Drummer W Newman ; W Arnold, S Cross, G Clarke, A Rose, W Salmons, W Gibbs, F Lombard, I Walden.

“ A ” Company : Lieut Field ; Faulkes, Sergt Atkinson, Redfern, S O Else ; West, Ralph ; Eyden, Corpl Caldicott, Corpl Goode, Prentice, Wykes, Adams, Dunn, A N Other.

MORE DAMAGE BY THE WIND.-On Saturday evening, during a recurrence of the gale, several trees on the Coventry Road between Dunchurch and the Station were blown down, and a great deal of damage was done to the telephone wires. In several places all of them were broken down. At Bilton Grange all the fancy work on the top of the vinery and glass houses for a length of between forty and fifty yards was torn away, doing great damage to the glass. Several trees also came down, and the household were very much alarmed. At Mr. Loverock’s Farm, between Dunchurch and Rugby, a wheat rick was blown over, and several sheaves of corn were carried the length of three fields away. The gale also did great damage to the roof of the wagon hovel.