Wilson, Robert Victor. Died 13th Apr 1918

Robert Victor WILSON was born in 1897, in Stockton on Tees. His birth was registered there in Q4, 1897.

He was the son of John George Wilson, born in about 1868 in Stockton on Tees, and Frances Mary, née Kenyon, Wilson who was born in about 1872 in Sunderland. Their marriage was registered in Stockton on Tees in Q3, 1896.

In 1901, the family were living at 74 ?Iilery Road, Stockton on Tees. Robert was aged three, and had a one year old sister, Doris Mary, who died aged four in mid 1904. Robert’s father was now an ‘… Engineering Draftsman’.

Before 1911, the family moved to Rugby and in 1911, they were living in a six roomed house at 52 York Street, Rugby. Robert’s father was still an ‘Engineering Draftsman’. There had been four children, but only two were still living – Robert who was now 13 years old and still at school and a sister, Elsie Marie, aged four. On census night Robert’s widowed maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Kenyon, was visiting them. Robert attended Lawrence Sheriff School and indeed was a scholar of the Lower School of Lawrence Sheriff, Rugby, and later became an Assistant Scoutmaster of the School Troop.[1]

The CWGC site[2] provides an unusual amount of detail on Robert’s military career, and states that Robert joined up with the HAC in May 1916, and his Medal Card confirms that he was initially a Private, Number: 7691, in the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), and the Rugby Advertiser reported this in June 1916, soon after he became 18.

R V Wilson (Old Laurentian), son of Mr J G Wilson, York Street, Rugby, has joined the H.A.C. Infantry Division. The Old Laurentians have supplied a great many members to this distinguished Company.[3]

Assuming this was the 2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry,) it was raised at Finsbury on 2 September 1914. It moved to Belhus Park, going on in November to Blackheath, in February 1915 to the Tower of London, in August to Richmond Park, in November to Wimbledon, in January 1916 to Orpington, in July to Tadworth (Surrey), and it returned to the Tower in September 1916. On 3 October 1916, the Battalion landed at Le Havre and was placed under command of 22nd Brigade in the 7th Division.   The CWGC site states that Robert went to France to join his Battalion in December 1916.

Later in December 1916, the Battalion was in trenches at Beaumont Hamel where some trenches were ‘obliterated’. During the earlier part of 1917 the Battalion was much involved with training – however, the CWGC advised that in February 1917, Robert returned to UK to train for his commission. He was later gazetted in June 1917, and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 26 June 1917, when they were on the Isle of Wight, as also noted on his Medal Card, and as later reported in the Rugby Advertiser in July 1917.

R V Wilson (Old Laurentian), late H.A.C, son of Mr J G Wilson, York Street, has been gazetted Second-Lieutenant, and has received a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Parkhurst, Isle of Wight.[4]

Although apparently then appointed to the ‘1st/2nd Battalion’, such a unit does not seem to exist, and this may have been an administrative device. It seems that Robert was initially with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion or the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, which were both stationed at Warwick at the outbreak of war and then were at Portsmouth in August 1914 and on the Isle of Wight until November 1917.[5] These Battalions probably served as training and reinforcement Battalions.

Robert was then attached to the 2nd/7th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR). Four RWR Battalions – the 2/5th, 2/6th, 2/7th and 2/8th Battalions – landed in France as part of the 182nd (2nd Warwickshire) Brigade in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in May 1916 for service on the Western Front, and their stories are broadly similar, and several other Rugby men served, and were killed in action in March/April 1918 with these Battalions.

Robert’s Officer’s Military Service Record file[6] is held at The National Archives, but has not been consulted at present, as a sufficient outline of his military career is available from the CWGC and the local paper. The CWGC notes that Robert returned to France in August 1917.

2nd/7th Battalion RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line Battalion. It became part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division and then in August 1915 it was re-designated as part of the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division.   The Battalion landed in France on 21 May 1916.[7].[8] Robert joined the Battalion later, going to France for a second time in August 1917.   He could have arrived in time to take part in the Battle of Langemarck (16-18 August 1917) toward the end of the Third Battles of the Ypres, and then after being in reserve for the Battle of Cambrai, the Battalion was used to reinforce the units under counter-attack in the area of La Vacquerie at the end of November 1917.

The Battalion War Diary[9] gives details of the Battalion’s activities throughout the war, but the following information has been abstracted for the period before Robert’s death.

In early December 1917, the Battalion was in the Welsh Ridge sector, near the Hindenburg line. To start the New Year, the Battalion was in training, but on 1 January, ‘2/Lt Wilson – to hospital – sick’.

The battalion moved to Savy, then toward the end of the month the Battalion was at Holnon Wood, and then at Berthavcourt. The Battalion strength was then 29 Officers and 388 Other Ranks.

During February 1918, the Battalion was in support and then relieved the 2nd/6th RWR on 3 February, who relieved them in turn on 6 February. On 14 March the 2nd/8th RWR were transferred to the Battalion, with 8 Officers and 256 Other Ranks. In March the Battalion continued turn and turn about in Holnon Wood, improving the line and with training in the days from 14 to 20 March.

The anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael,, was launched on 21 March 1918, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army. The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry. The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war.   Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress in other parts of the line.

On marching out on 21 March, the Battalion now comprised 21 Officers and 556 Other Ranks. Robert Wilson seems to have still been away – and would have missed the initial heavy fighting. In the period to the end of March, there were 30 Officer casualties (some additional officers had joined in the period) and 488 Other Ranks casualties.

The remnants of the exhausted Battalion – and the 61st Division – were transferred from the XVIII Corps on 10 April 1918. Lt. General Ivor Maxey wrote a message of congratulations to the 61st Division, which had ‘… established for itself a high reputation for its fighting qualities and its gallant spirit …’.

The Battalion were moved north to what had been a quieter part of the line near Bethune. On 10 March 1918 the Battalion went to St Roche via Amiens, and then entrained for Berguette which was further north and where they arrived at 10.30pm. On 11 March, they took up positions to the rear of the Robecq-Calonne Road.

On 12 March the enemy were active and by 10.30am all that remained of the 2nd/6th RWR were withdrawn though the line to a support line.   The ‘estimated casualties’ included ‘… 2/Lt R.V. Wilson wounded;…’. On 13 April, the British artillery was more effective and the line was being held, with troops back in the old line and reoccupying captured houses. That night they were relieved by the 2nd/6th RWR and returned to Hamet Billet for breakfast.

The Battalion Diary for 14 April recorded ‘…2/Lt R.V. Wilson died of wounds 13/4/18; …’.

Several other Rugby men in the 2nd/6th and 2nd/7th Battalion RWR were killed from 11 to 14 April, during this second major German attack, on this ‘quieter part of the line’, [see: Sidney George Hall and William Harry Packwood]

Robert was probably evacuated to the Battalion Aid Post or an Advanced Dressing Station and then to a Casualty Clearing Station, probably the 18th at Lapugnoy, or possibly the 23rd at Lozinghem, which were both some 20kms south-west of their front line positions. He died there – or en route – of his wounds and was buried in the nearby Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, in Grave Ref: VI. D. 10A.

Lapugnoy is a village 6 kilometres west of Bethune. The first burials were made in Plot I of the cemetery in September 1915, but it was most heavily used during the Battle of Arras, which began in April 1917. The dead were brought to the cemetery from casualty clearing stations, chiefly the 18th and the 23rd at Lapugnoy and Lozinghem, but between May and August 1918 the cemetery was used by fighting units.

When his temporary wooden cross was replaced by a gravestone, his family requested the inscription, ‘Late Member of H.A.C – He Died that We Might Live’.

Robert Victor WILSON is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[10] which reads,

In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Robert Victor WILSON was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, January 2018.

[1]       School information from CWGC, https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/54980/wilson,-robert-victor/.

[2]       Military career from CWGC, https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/54980/wilson,-robert-victor/.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 17 June 1916. William Harry PACKWOOD, later in the 2nd/6th RWR, who died the day before Robert Wilson on 12 April 1918, had also served in the HAC before he was commissioned.

[4]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/28th-jul-1917-rugby-school-farming-squads/; and see also, Rugby Advertiser, 28 July 1917.

[5]         https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/316/royal-warwickshire-regiment/.

[6]       Lieutenant Robert Victor WILSON, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, TNA file ref: WO 339/96716.

[7]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/.

[8]       Based on: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/316/royal-warwickshire-regiment/.

[9]       WWI War Diaries, 1914-1920, 2/7 Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division,

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

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Packwood, William Henry. Died 12th Apr 1918

William Harry PACKWOOD was born in 1897, in Rugby. His birth was registered in Q3, 1897, in Rugby and he was baptised, on 3 December 1897, at St Matthew’s, Rugby, when his father was a ‘Post Office Clerk’.

He was the son of Charles John Packwood, born in about 1859 [-1933] in Rugby, and Alice Ruth née Davies Packwood who was born in about 1862 [-34] in Shrewsbury. They were married on 17 January 1882 at St. Chad’s Church, Shrewsbury.

For the 1901 census, the family were living at 10 St. Matthew’s Street, Rugby. William Harry was aged three, then the second youngest child of nine siblings, all born in Rugby. His father was now a ‘Chief Clerk, Post Office’.

In 1911, the family were still in the same house, which had 12 rooms, which were probably needed as there were now two more children. William’s father was now a ‘Post Office Superintendant – Civil Service’. William was 13 years old and still at school. He would attend Lawrence Sheriff School.

It is uncertain exactly when William joined up, but a report in the Rugby Advertiser in December 1915, noted.

‘The third son (William Harry) of Mr Chas Packwood, of, Warwick Street, Rugby, has joined the 2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry). Mr Packwood now has three sons serving with the Colours.’[1]

This enabled the correct William Harry Packwood’s Medal Card to be located, which shows him initially as a Private in the Honourable Artillery Company (infantry), Number: 5777, and later commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorial Force).

His Medal Card also gave two dates when he went to France: 3 October 1916 and 6 December 1917. The former is probably when he went with his HAC Battalion.

2nd Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company (Infantry) was raised at Finsbury on 2 September 1914. It moved to Belhus Park, going on in November to Blackheath, in February 1915 to the Tower of London, in August to Richmond Park, in November to Wimbledon, in January 1916 to Orpington, in July to Tadworth (Surrey), and it returned to the Tower in September 1916. On 3 October 1916, the Battalion landed at Le Havre and was placed under command of 22nd Brigade in the 7th Division. After William had left it later went to Italy.

William thus went to France with his Battalion on 3 October 1916 and by 12 October they were in trenches and being ‘mortared’. Later in December they were in trenches at Beaumont Hamel where some trenches were ‘obliterated’. During the earlier part of 1917 the Battalion was much involved with training – however in April 1917 William was granted leave prior to training for a commission. A further news report in April 1917, gave information on his progress,

A SON OF MR C J PACKWOOD RECEIVES A COMMISSION.
W H Packwood, fourth son of Mr C J Packwood, of St Matthew’s Street, Rugby, has been granted a month’s leave. Since September he had been out in France with a trench mortar battery of the H.A.C, and has had varied experiences. On the recommendation of his Captain – although still under twenty years of age – he has been offered a Commission, and after his furlough will go into training for his new duties as an officer.[2]

In October 1917, a further report advised,
‘Cadet W H Packwood, H.A.C (Infantry), son of Mr J C Packwood, has been given a commission and posted to the 6th Royal Warwicks.’[3]

His Officer’s Military Service Record[4] is held at The National Archives, but has not been consulted at present, as a sufficient outline of his military career is available from the local paper.

There were two 6th Battalions – 1st/6th and 2nd/6th – however as the 1st/6th were in Italy, it seems he must have been commissioned into the ‘2nd/6th Battalion (Territorial)’ of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR).

2nd/6th Battalion RWR was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line Battalion. It became part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division and then in August 1915 it was re-designated as part of the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division. The Battalion had landed in France on 21 May 1916, but William would have joined the Battalion later, going to France for a second time on 6 December 1917, and missing the disastrous attack at Fromelles in 1916 and the various actions of 1917.[5].[6]

The Battalion War Diary[7] gives brief details of the Battalion’s activities throughout the war, but the following information has been abstracted for the period before William’s death.

During February 1918, the Battalion was much involved in improving defences and burying signal cables and the like. During the first week in March, the Battalion was in the front line near St. Quentin. They were then relieved and after a week’s training, returned to relieve the 2nd/8th Worcesters, west of Holnon in the Battle Zone. The Battalion then comprised 21 Officers and 700 Other Ranks.

On the night of 20/21 March, two companies raided the enemy trenches at Cepy Farm and took 12 [or 15] prisoners and a machine gun. The prisoners were from ‘… three different infantry divisions on a front usually held by one regiment, lending little doubt to the certainty that the offensive was imminent.’[8] They lost one killed and four wounded.

The anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael, was launched on 21 March 1918, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army. The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry. The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war. Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

William and the 2nd/6th Battalion were bombarded on 21 March from 4.45am to 11.30am, and then over the next two days were subject to various attacks, and because of the overwhelming strength of the attacks, were then ordered to retire to preserve the line and were almost surrounded.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings. The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress at other parts of the line.

From 21 to 26 March, even the ‘surplus’ 2nd/6th personnel were brought into action and a separate ‘diary’ was kept for them.   Meanwhile, from 22 to 23 March, the Battalion withdrew westward, through Fayett, Attilly, Matigney, Vyennes, to Breuil and Billancourt. By 24 March, the Battalion was only about 140 strong and at Buverchy, where it occupied the west bank of the Canal du Nord.

The Battalion, or what remained of it, continued a fighting withdrawal from 25 March to 3 April towards the outskirts of Amiens. By the time the Battalion was relieved, after fighting back to Amiens in the First Battles of the Somme 1918, the Division had been involved in continuous action since August 1917 and was exhausted.

The Battalion casualties from 21 March to 5 April 1918 were some 16 Officers and 450 Other Ranks. The remnants of the exhausted Battalion – and the 61st Division – were transferred from the XVIII Corps on 10 April 1918. Lt. General Ivor Maxey wrote a message of congratulations to the 61st Division, which had ‘… established for itself a high reputation for its fighting qualities and its gallant spirit …’.

The Battalion were moved north to what had been a quieter part of the line near Bethune. They were entrained at Rue St Roch, Amiens and taken north to Berguette, and then on to Le Cornet Malo to join 153rd Brigade. However, rather than having some rest, the Battalion had to prepare immediately for a counter attack, as the Germans had just launched the second phase of their offensive on 9 April 1918. The Division became involved and many more casualties were incurred.

The actions until 12 April were reported in a separate appendix of the Battalion War Diary, but only the reports for ?10 and 11 and 12 April survive. A trench map with the War Diary shows the 2nd/6th Battalion was in positions just south of Merville. It concludes by stating that ‘The casualties of the Battalion between 10th and 14th April inclusive were 9 Officers and 133 Other Ranks’.

Another Rugby man in the 2nd/6th Battalion was killed on the 11 April (see Sidney George HALL)  and at some stage on 12 April 1918, during this second major German attack, on this ‘quieter part of the line’, William Harry Packwood was ‘shot through the head’ and ‘killed in action’.

SECOND-LIEUT W H PACKWOOD. Second-Lieut W H Packwood, R.W.R, third son of Mr & Mrs C J Packwood, of St Matthew Street, Rugby, who, as we reported last week, was posted missing on April 14th, has been reported killed in action April 12th. A brother officer, writing to the bereaved parents, says: “He died with his face to the enemy, rallying the men during a counter-attack by the Germans. It may be a little comfort to you to know that he died instantly, shot through the head, and we managed to bury him and erect a little cross to his memory. His pleasant disposition and resolute courage will always in our minds and with you, whose loss must be so much keener, we grieve at his death.” The gallant young officer was 20 years of age, and was educated at the Lower School.[9]

Sadly, the ‘… little cross to his memory …’ was lost and his body was never found again or else not identified. He is remembered on Panel 2 or 3 [Stone 2K] of the Ploegsteert Memorial which stands in the Berks Cemetery Extension, which is located 12.5 kms south of Ieper [Ypres].

The Ploegsteert Memorial commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille. Most of those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere.

William Harry PACKWOOD is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[10] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

William’s parents appear to have left Rugby after the War. In the CWGC records, William is noted as the son of Charles John and Alice Ruth Packwood, of ‘Minsterley,’ 15, St. Ledgers Road., Bournemouth. By 1922, his father’s address on William’s Medal Card, was Cheapside, Langport, Somerset.

Four of the five Packwood sons were involved in the First World War and their progress was reported by the Rugby Advertiser,[11] as it reproduced information from their letters home.

Charles William Packwood, the eldest son, joined the Rugby Howitzer Battery in September 1914; he was wounded in August 1916 and again in August 1917 when he had ‘… been wounded in the chest in two places during the recent fighting’.   The second son, Walter Davies Packwood, volunteered for the Canadian contingent, and joined the Balcartier Camp at Quebec; in October 1914, he had arrived with the force at Plymouth, and was in training at Salisbury Plain. In March 1917, John Norman Packwood was joining up and entering the wireless department of the Royal Naval Reserve. Their cousin, Herbert M Packwood, who had worked at Willans and & Robinson, had also joined up in September 1914, probably also in the Rugby Howitzer Battery as he had a similar number and went to France on the same day as his cousin, Charles William Packwood.

These other three brothers and their cousin survived the war. The fifth brother, Noel, the youngest, was too young to enlist.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Harry PACKWOOD was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, January 2018.

[1]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/4th-dec-1915-interesting-letter-from-an-old-murrayian/; and see also, Rugby Advertiser, 4 December 1915.

[2]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/14th-apr-1917-baptist-local-preacher-killed/; and Rugby Advertiser, 14 April 1917.

[3]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/27th-oct-1917-ladies-war-services/; and Rugby Advertiser, 27 October 1917.

[4]       2/Lieutenant William Harry PACKWOOD, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, TNA file ref: WO 374/51812.

[5]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/61st-2nd-south-midland-division/

[6]       Based on: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/316/royal-warwickshire-regiment/.

[7]       WWI War Diaries, 1914-1920, 2/6 Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division,

[8]       Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918, the Fifth Army Retreat, 2014, ISBN: 978-1-78159-267-0.

[9]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 4 May 1918.

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

[11]     Details are available from the author, or search https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/ for ‘Packwood’.

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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.

Map

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

[1]       Courtesy http://ww1photos.com/.

[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.

Ref: http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/honourable-artillery-company.html.

[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

WITH THE H.A.C. AT THE FRONT.

MR McKINNELL’S SON RELATES HIS EXPERIENCES.

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.

REAL WARFARE.

“ 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.

SPADE WORK UNDER SHELL FIRE.

“ 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.

A RUGBEIAN IN THE BATTLE OF YPRES.

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.”