Saville, Walter Stanley. Died 29th Sep 1917

Walter was born in Rugby in 1895 and christened at St Andrews Church on 13 July, the son of Walter John Saville and his wife Florence nee Cornah. His parents were married at the same church on 19 Aug 1890, he was 29, a builder’s clerk, son of Thomas Saville, also a builder’s clerk.   Florence was 24, living in Cambridge Terrace (now Cambridge Street) off Clifton Road, and daughter of William Cornah, a coachbuilder.

In 1901 Walter John born in London and Florence born in Rugby were living at “Mayfield” in Clifton Road with two children, Walter junior and Sidney Foster, born the previous year, and a servant. By 1911 they were at 93 Clifton Road (which may be the same as “Mayfield”), a large house with eight rooms. They had been married for 22 years, and had four children, all living.   By this time Walter senior was a builder and contractor and an employer. The Rugby Advertiser tells us that he was “of Foster & Dicksee”. Two daughters had been added to the family, Florence Eugenie aged 8 and Lilian Hall aged 5, there was also a servant.

Soldiers of the Great War tells us that Walter enlisted in London and joined the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) as Gunner no 624146.

The account of his death in the Rugby Advertiser on 13 October 1917 gives a brief obituary of Walter. He was a very tall man, he attended Murray School and Lower School (Lawrence Sheriff), and was a keen golfer and cricketer. He joined the HAC in October 1914 at which time he was employed by Foster & Dicksee. He was stationed chiefly on the east coast for home defence, but went to France about four months before his death on 29 September 1917 when he was serving with the 2nd Artillery Battery. He died of wounds in the same dugout as Leo Lennon (qv) when it was hit by a German shell.

Walter is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery near Ypres. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals, his mother received his back pay and a war gratuity of £13. His father had died in 1915.

He is remembered on his parents’ gravestone in Clifton Road Cemetery and on the Old Laurentians memorial plaque as well as on the Rugby Memorial Gates.




Lennon, Lionel Stewart. Died 29th Sep 1917

Lionel (Leo) Lennon was the youngest of the five sons of John Patrick and Mary Charlotte (nee Cornish) who were married in Chelmsford Registration District December Quarter 1887.   Their four eldest children were born there too, John William (1888), Ernest Patrick (1889), Edward James (1891), and William Thomas (1893). In 1891 John was a baker living with his wife and three oldest children at “The Bird in Hand” in Baker Street, Chelmsford. He was born in Hertfordshire and his wife in Sussex.

The Lennons moved shortly after this to the “Six Bells Inn” in Cockfield Sussex where Lionel was born in 1894. His father was now termed a licensed victualler, and at last the couple produced a daughter, Mary Ann, born in 1897.

By 1904 the family was in Rugby where sadly their eldest son John William died at the age of 15. In 1911 they were living at “The Globe Hotel” in Railway Terrace with two servants. Ernest, Edward and William were employed as barmen by their father, Lionel at 17 was still at school at Lawrence Sheriff.

Lionel was one of the partners in the well-known local firm of Lennon Bros, tobacconists, which operated from adjacent premises and other sites in the town, and which many Rugby people will remember.

Lionel joined the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in January 1916 as Gunner 624555. The Rugby Advertiser of 13 October gives an account of his death on 29 September.   He was killed together with his fellow townsman Walter Stanley Saville (qv) while they were resting in a dugout after a heavy artillery engagement. A German shell landed on the dugout killing him instantly, Gunner Saville was seriously wounded and died half an hour later. Lionel’s brother William, who had also joined the HAC (no 624559), had shared the dugout with the two men, but shortly before had been sent up to the waggon lines, thus escaping their fate.

Lionel’s eldest brother Ernest also belonged to the HAC (no 625659) but was later transferred to the Royal Field Artillery. Brother Edward may be the Edward J Lennon who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (no 42466) and was sent to France on 19 July 1915 (medal cards). All four brothers received the Victory and British War medals, Edward also had the 1915 Star. He died in 1922.

John Patrick died in 1927 and Mary Charlotte in 1944, both of Moultrie Road.

Lionel is buried in the Divisional Collecting Post Cemetery to the north east of Ypres, which was begun by field ambulances of the 48th and 58th Divisions in August 1917 and used until January 1918. The cemetery was extended in the early 1920s for burials brought from surrounding battlefields and small burial grounds in the area. On the grave register, his parents were of 15 Moultrie Road, Rugby.

He is also remembered on the Old Laurentians plaque at Lawrence Sheriff School, and on the Roll of Honour at St Marie’s Church.



Bluemel, Neville Ernest. Died 23rd Sep 1915

Neville Ernest Bluemel was born in 1891, in Romford, Essex. His parents were Ernest Adolphus Bluemel and Harriet Amy (nee Neville).

Ernest and his two brothers founded the Bluemel Cycle Accessory business in Stepney and moved to Wolston to take advantage of the booming cycle industry in Coventry. By 1911 the family were living at Melbourne House, in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

Neville attended Lawrence Sheriff School and in 1911 his occupation was a worker in Celluloid Accessories, presumably his father’s business. He was aged 19.

Both Neville and his brother Roland Edward joined the 1st Bn, Honourable Artillery Company on 9th November 1914 (They had successive numbers Neville 2533 and Roland 2534). By the time they arrived in France on 1st July 1915, Neville had been promoted to Lance Sergeant.

The Rugby Advertiser of 2nd October 1915 reports what happened:

Mr E Bluemel’s Two Brave Sons

One killed, the other wounded

News has this week been received that Lce-Sergt Neville Ernest Bluemel. elder son of Mr & Mrs E Bluemel, of Penrhos House, Clifton Road, Rugby, died of wounds on September 23rd, and that the younger son, Corpl Roland Edward Bluemel. has also been wounded. Both the brave young fellows were in the Honourable Artillery Company, and were wounded by bursting shells on the day when several other casualties occurred in the same Company.

Mr Bluemel first received a short note from his elder son, obviously written under difficulties, stating that both were wounded in arms and legs, but added that there was “nothing to worry about.” They were then in a field hospital and hoped soon to be removed to the base, and probably to be sent on to England.

The train journey from the front was actually commenced, the brothers being removed together, but on the way down Lce-Sergt N E Bluemel complained of internal pain. His brother enquired of the doctor if all was well, and received a re-assuring reply, but evidently Lce-Sergt Bluemel became worse, and he was taken from the train and placed in hospital at Abbeville, where he lingered a day or two, and then passed away, the official report stating that he died of wounds received in action.

A London gentleman, who also has a son in the H.A.C, writing to express his sympathy, as so many others have done, says :-
“It is sad news indeed to hear that the elder brother had died. He was a brave man, and it may be a little consolation for you to know what his comrade says in his letter to us :-
“N E was awfully plucky, and was the best man in our section.” He goes on to say: “R E was not hit so badly. He was wounded in the arm and shoulder and was quite cheerful about it.”

Corpl R E Bluemel is now at a base hospital. He states in the recent letter that he was separated from his brother in the train, and he had not heard of his fate.
Before enlisting, both sons were engaged at the Wolston Works. Lce-Sergt Bluemel was in his 23rd year.

Neville Ernest Bluemel was buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery.

His brother survived the war, being discharged on 19th May 1919. He died in 1950 at the age of 56.



Pepperday, Leslie John Deacon. Died 13th Aug 1915

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday

The Pepperday Family

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday [1] was born in Rugby in late 1893 and his younger brother, Gerald Alfred George Pepperday, in 1896.

Pepperday L J D Pte 2931_Honourable_Artillery_Company_Rugby_Roll_Of_Honour_Vol_2

Their father was John Hinds Pepperday, born in Rugby in 1849 and a well established bookseller in the High Street.   Their mother was Eliza [Elizabeth] Mary née Deacon Pepperday who was some 13 years younger than her husband and born in Surrey. Their marriage was registered in Camberwell in the third quarter of 1889, and before 1891 they were living at 24 High Street, Rugby, where he was listed as a ‘Bookseller, Stationer, Printer and Bookbinder’. Their eldest child was a daughter, Elsie May Pepperday who was born in 1892 and by 1911 was helping her father in the business. The baby of the family was Lennard Williams Pepperday, who was born in 1904.

24 High Street, Rugby was both the family home and their shop, ‘Pepperday – Bookseller, Stationer and Printer’.   ‘This family firm appears in trade directories from 1850 (William Pepperday) through to 1928 (John Pepperday).’[2]

Among the books that he published was material for Rugby School: for example, the 14 page book of poetry, Book of Words by ‘J. H. E.’ [Juliana Horatia née Gatty Ewing], in 1893 and issued with a programme for an ‘Entertainment to be given in New Big School’ at Rugby. Also   The Phœnix, June 1904, and The Vulture, July 1904 and January and June 1905, which were papers edited by members of Rugby School – and which included some of the first early work by Rupert Brooke. He also published items as diverse as the Polo Players Guide and Almanack, 1905 [… 1910 etc.] by Captain E.D. Miller; and the Amateur’s Guide to Gardening in Cairo, by K. and M. Marsham, 1912. He also produced postcards of Rugby scenes.

John Hinds Pepperday, and his two sisters Emma and Lucy, who lived at 69 Murray Road, Rugby, were Wesleyan Methodists and had each donated a guinea to the Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund between January 1st 1899 and September 1909.[3]

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday, the eldest son, was born in Rugby in late 1893. He attended Lawrence Sheriff School[4] and then moved on to Rugby School in 1907, which was where his father had been in Town House from 1 December 1861, when he was ten, until 1864.[5]

Whilst at Rugby School, he was in Town House and served three years in the Rugby Contingent OTC [Officer Training Corps] and thus already had some basic military training. He left school in 1911, well before WWI, to assist his father in business.

He enlisted in London, as a Private No.2931, in the First ‘Reserve’ Battalion[6] of the Honourable Artillery Company [HAC] at Armoury House on 11 January 1915. He was 21 years and 2 months old, and 5ft 5inches tall, and of fair physical development. Whilst he was sufficiently fit, he was ‘to see a dentist’.[7] His number 2931 fits with other known joining dates,[8] but whilst his Attestation was signed and dated 11 January 1915, his record was later amended to 15 January, and his HAC record card shows that he was on ‘Home Service’ in the 2nd (2/1) Battalion from 13 January 1915. In June 1915 he volunteered for a Draft to the 1st Battalion in Flanders.

The 1st (1/1) Battalion had been formed in August 1914 in Finsbury, London and attached as Army Troops to 1st London Division.   The 1st Battalion had moved to Belhus Park on 12 September 1914 and then on 20 September 1914, had landed at St. Nazaire becoming part of the British Expeditionary Force and fighting in the 1st Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914. On 9 December 1914, they transferred to 7th Brigade of 3rd Division. The 1st Battalion took part in the Winter Operations of 1914-1915 and in late February 1915 they were at Lindenhoek;[9] they were also in the first attack on Bellewaarde [16 June 1915].

He ‘left on July 1st,’ and his Medal Card (below) confirmed that he served in ‘France’ and that his ‘Date of entry therein’ was on 2 July 1915.   The HAC records stated that he was part of the 6th Draft of Reinforcements and joined ‘A’ Company HAC on 1 July 1915, just after Battle of Bellewaarde, but possibly in time for the actions at Hooge [the allies detonated a mine and captured Hooge on about 19 July, but it was lost in counter-attacks when the Germans used flame-throwers for the first time on 30 July 1915]. This was the day before the opening of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

He was in, ‘… the district to the North-East of Ypres. For five days the trenches, in which he was, were under heavy fire, and he was killed by shell on the morning of August 13th, 1915. Age 21. His Captain testified that during the short time he had been at the Front he ‘had earned the affection and respect of all ranks by his soldierly bearing.’[10]

His HAC Record Card (below) noted ‘Pte. 1st Bn. Killed St. Jean August 13th 1915 BEF’. He had served for less than a year, indeed for only 213 days.

Pepperday L J D - HAC 3

St. Jean is now called Sint-Jan, and is a small village on the outskirts of Ypres, lying to the north-east of the city on the N313. There is also a cemetery at St. Jean and the fact that he was buried further behind the lines could suggest that he was wounded and moved to an aid post or hospital further behind the lines. However, having been killed in St. Jean, it may have been in an active zone preventing use of the cemetery, and necessitating a safer burial ground behind the lines.


He was buried in Grave Reference: E.1. at La Brique No.1 Military Cemetery, Ypres (Ieper), West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.

La Brique is a small hamlet named for an old brick works that used to stand nearby before the First World War. This small cemetery is located to the North-East of the town of Ieper. It was begun in May 1915 and used until the following December. It contains 91 First World War burials, four of them unidentified.

La Brique Cemetery No.2, across the road was used until March 1918 and further graves were brought into this cemetery after the Armistice and extended the original plot. The cemeteries were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

A note regarding Lesley’s effects was dated 8 October 1915, and the receipt from his father was dated 13 November 1915. The effects included his hat badge and a pince-nez in case, no doubt to correct his eyesight, which had been considered adequate for service. A pipe, tobacco pouch and a cigarette case suggested that as with many men at that date, he smoked. His father later signed the form regarding relatives and next of kin on 31 March 1919.

possessions Pepperday

Lesley received the Victory Medal; the British War Medal, and the 1914-1915 Star. His father signed receipts for these medals on 6 November 1920 and 10 January 1922, and at the latter date also requested the medals for his second son.

Leslie John Deacon Pepperday is commemorated on a pillar of the War Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby and also on the ‘Old Laurentians’ Memorial and in the Rugby School Remembrance Chapel.


His younger brother, Lance-Corporal Gerald A. G. Pepperday, was in the 19th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers and was also killed in action in WWI on 28 January 1916.




[1]       Courtesy

[2]       From research by Anne Langley, volunteer at Warwick County Record Office and reported in the Rugby Advertiser, ‘Looking Back’, 19 January 2014 on-line edition.

[3]       Wesleyan Methodist Twentieth Century Fund, Wesleyan Methodist Historic Roll, vol.22. p.330, 1899-1909.

[4]       Lawrence Sheriff School was a lower school for local boys, with Foundation Scholarships to Rugby School. It opened in 1878 on the present site with a curriculum to meet the needs of a commercial education and preparation for Rugby School.

[5]       Rugby School Register: August 1842 to January 1874; also Memorial notes on L J DPepperday.

[6]       There is some confusion in numbering. Whilst the 3rd Battalion was the Reserve Battalion, the Honourable Artillery Company was a reserve [later Territorial] Regiment, so the 1st and 2nd Battalions were also ‘Reserve’. The various documents and his OTC experience would support Leslie having been in the 1st Battalion.

[7]       Twenty-one sheets of Leslie’s Territorial Force Attestation Papers are available, as well as his Medal Card.

[8]       No.2781 joined on 9 December 1914 and No.3016 joined on 25 January 1915.   Leslie Pepperday joined up between these dates as noted on various documents and this agrees with his number.


[9]       As evidenced by a photograph in the IWM collection ‘Men of the 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company in F2 trench at Lindenhoek, 22-26 February 1915’.

[10]     Rugby School Memorial Book.

19th Dec 1914. News From The Front



J J McKinnell, the only son of Mr McKinnell (chairman of the Rugby Urban District Council), who is with the Honourable Artillery Company at the Front, has sent home a number of interesting letters, giving accounts of his experiences. Writing on November 18th he says :—

“ We have stayed for a week at the place from which I last wrote. My section had a comfortable billet in the front room of a cottage. We had straw down on the floor, and so got pretty warm at night ; whereas some other unfortunate people were up in a barn without a door, and places nearly as bad.


“ It has been a week of real war for us. One night we made a night march of three hours to reserve trenches a thousand yards behind the firing line, which we had to occupy in case we were wanted. There were one or two anxious moments on the march, owing to the “ range finders ” shot into the air by the enemy—that is, brilliant lights which enable a man with glasses , to pick out, and get the range of, objects in the distance. However, we had no shells our way.

“Just after we settled down in the trenches our artillery behind opened a tremendous cannonade on the Germans, firing from three batteries, at a rate which, I am sure, was four shots a minute. At the same time the British Infantry made an attack. This cannonade was continued for two hours or so, and then slackened off.

“ I was told afterwards, that the object of the attack was to drive some German sharp-shooters from dead ground between the English and German trenches, and that this end was achieved.

“ Our part of the battle was simply to sit still and keep our heads well down to avoid any chance bullets, which, as a matter of fact, never came. Our company had to be without overcoats, as we had not got our new ones, and it really was awfully cold. However, we must be thankful that there was no rain. very few people felt any ill-effects from the nocturnal excursion, so yon see we are pretty fit.


“ On three other days we have been digging reserve trenches at another point about 400 yards behind the firing line. The first day we had several shells explode round us, but none nearer than 200 yards, and a few stray rifle bullets. The second day, on which I was absent on officers’ mess, they were treated to some shrapnel quite close to the trenches, and had to keep down in them for a quarter of an hour or so, as well as to rifle bullets which were obviously aimed.

“ Next day two companies went out. One company had got into position, and were digging. The other company were going along a ditch by a certain road in single file, when the Germans began to sweep the road with shrapnel fire. We all lay down in the ditch, with our faces as near the ground as they would go, for two hours, while the shells kept bursting near us. Fortunately nobody was hit. Some of the shells were only 30 yards away from us. The other company fared worse than we did, and six men were wounded, but only one at all seriously.

“ About one o’clock an Indian doctor came along the road and told us to move on and get into a safety trench, running at right angles to the road, to avoid their shelling. We did so, and sure enough before long they started shelling the road again. There were some trenches behind the road with Indian troops in them, and I think they must have got it badly this time. We remained in our trenches until dusk, and then got out and marched back.

“ By the way, shrapnel is the most deadly kind of shell there is, as it bursts in the air and shoots out bullets towards the ground. Other shells don’t burst till they bit the earth, and generally do nothing more than make a big hole. As you can imagine, there are many shell holes near the firing line.

“ Other evidences of war are villages half-destroyed and churches with only the walls standing. One church we saw was destroyed by our own shells, as the Germans had placed two quick-firing guns in it.

“A staff officer told us that a trick of the German artillery is to pick up a mark, such as a cottage, and simply shell it to pieces, the only possible object being to prevent troops billeting close up to the firing line ; otherwise it is sheer wantonness.” — P.S. We have our overcoats now.

In a letter dated November 28th the writer says :—

“ The only incident of note that I have to record is the fact that the four companies of a H.A.C have each spent 24 hours in the FIRING LINE TRENCHES, and of these two companies have had another 24 hours. “ Our own company’s little experience was to parade at 3.15 a.m, after six hours sleep, march for two miles or so along a road up to the trenches, and then walk in single file avoid attracting attention if searchlights were turned on the country for a mile along a field path to the front trenches themselves. These were much more comfortable than the reserve trenches I told you of, being wide and deep with straw at the bottom.

“ We got in about an hour before dawn. There was nothing much to do on this particular day. The German trenches were 450 yards away from us, and gave us no trouble, hardly a shot being fired from them all day. We were troubled all day with snipers, who come out beyond the trenches and direct cross-fire on the trenches when they can, even getting behind them by some means or other. Only a few of our men saw anything to fire at that day. I did not fire my rifle. . . . I expect you don’t take much notice of the things you see in the papers about the H.A.C in action. I even heard, that it is said that our drum and fife band played us to and from the trenches!! Of course, this is absolute nonsense.”

Writing still later, Mr McKinnell, jun, said the company had moved again, and were supposed to be having a rest, which probably meant that they had to work harder than before. Our section is unfortunate in its billet this time, having the top storey of a barn, which is not quite so comfortable.


Pte J T Meadows, of the 1st Northants Regiment, who is in hospital in London with a smashed arm, has sent his parents an account of his experience prior to and in the Battle of Ypres.

“ About October 22nd we had to take up a position on the edge of a very thick wood. It was in the middle of the day—a very bad time for us-because the Germans could see us advancing, and they let us have it for all they were worth. Battery after battery let go at us, but without effect, for the 1st Division has got used to such encounters. At 3.30 p.m we reached the desired spot, and immediately we started to entrench under the buzz and bang of shot and shell. At 5.30 p.m, the trenches finished, sentries were posted, and the vigil went on through the night till the order came along at 4.30 a.m to stand to. That meant everybody at his post, for an attack at dawn was expected—and it came, too, in full force. It was lovely popping them over in hundreds, until they got too numerous for us, and we had to retire into another wood, where we had some old trenches. We dived into them like rabbits, and waited ; but not long, for we could see them coming through the trees. Then again the banging started, but still they came on in ever-increasing numbers, until they got a bit too cheeky, so we started a bayonet charge, and we cleared the wood of them. They made awful noises, just like pigs being killed. This engagement finished at 12.30 p.m on October 23rd.

“ Nothing more occurred until October 24th at 6.15 p.m. It was very dark, and I was taking first turn on sentry. I had been on duty about 40 minutes when I discovered something creeping along turnip field in front of our trench. To make sure my eyes were not deceiving me, I ran along to the next sentry. He also had seen the night bird, so I passed word down to the officer. The order, ‘ Stand to,’ was passed back, and all were on the alert. The order not to fire was given, two men crept out of the British lines, and in two minutes that night bird, was plucked of his rifle and ammunition, and marched off a prisoner. Nothing more happened till the night of the 25th, when we received the old torments, an audience of only 6,000 waiting for us. This lasted until the 28th ; then, to our surprise, we were removed to another position. This was 10.30 p.m on the 28th. We started digging a new trench, and stuck to it all night till 4.30 a.m, when the order ‘Cease digging’ passed along. The engineers had been at work all night as well putting barbed wire about 100 yards in front of our trench. We all knew too well what that meant: the position had got to be held. From 8.30 that morning until 5 p.m shells had been bursting, and so it continued, the big battle having begun at last, and it went on night and day from the morning of the 29th until November 4th. At 11.30 a.m a bursting shrapnel shell smashed my left arm. My officer was killed by the same shell that hit me. My comrade on the left of me had a shrapnel bullet right through the neck. He went, down like a log. I bound him up and laid him along the trench. It was hard working with one hand, but I forgot my own troubles. I walked along the trench to another comrade ; I asked him to load my rifle for me, and so we went on side by side, banging away round after round of ammunition, the fusilade telling its terrible tale for seven hours. I stuck this with my one good arm till the order to charge was given, for the Germans had broken through the wire entanglements. I saw my mate, who assisted me through those terrible hours, answer the Commander’s call ; but he only went about a dozen yards, poor fellow. His turn had came. I made a hurried retreat into the wood, as I was no good for a bayonet charge. I walked three and a-half miles to a hospital, and had my arm placed at an angle of 45 degrees, and it is likely to remain so for a long, long time. I am quite happy, though wounded. It was for dear old England that I fought. We won the battle at the rate of 12 to 1.”

In an accompanying letter Meadows says if he has the fortune to get better before the war is over he shall go back and finish his duty.

In a letter written on board the hospital ship he says: “ I never thought I should get back again after days and nights, weeks and months of that terrible slaughter of human beings. I have had the gruesome work of placing some of my brave comrades in their last resting-places with only a prayer to the One above. This task is very trying to a man with the strongest nerves. It was pitch dark when I had to work with pick and hovel ; but now I am wounded I can do no more. My heart is good, but my arm won’t let me.”