Barnwell, George Woodruffe. Died 13th Apr 1918

George Woodruffe Barnwell was born on 14 May 1884 at Rugby. He was the son of Thomas Barnwell, a Railway Traffic Foreman and his second wife Sarah (née Woodruffe). They lived at a new house at 47 Grosvenor Road, Rugby which his father had bought in May 1899 for £300. Before that they lived in Wood Street, Rugby.

Educated at the Wesleyan School, George entered the Estate Office of the L & N-W Railway as a boy, and later became a collector at Rugby Railway Station.

George married Alice Mary Bullard on 3 June 1914 and they had Joyce Mary on 2 May 1915 at Rugby. They lived at 97 Grosvenor Road, Rugby.

George Barnwell on leave 1917

When he joined the Army on 28 December 1916, he was 5’10” tall, weighed 157 lbs, with a 38″ chest and had a history of Rheumatic Fever. He joined the Inns of Court O.T.C number 10404. in January, 1917, and was afterwards posted to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as Second Lieutenant attd 1/4 Bn., going to France in October 1917.

George died on 13 April 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, possibly lost in the Battle of Hazebrouck, as he has no known grave. He is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.



Bending, Stanley Emberson. Died 18th Nov 1916

Stanley Emberson Bending was born in Chelmsford, Essex. His father, Frank Bending, was born in Somerset. His mother Annie Bansor came from Chelmsford and they must have met in Hastings, where, in 1881, Frank was working as a tailor and Annie was an assistant in a draper’s shop. They married in Chelmsford the following year and Stanley was born there in 1889, the youngest of five children. In 1891 they were living at 5 Critchell Terrace, Rainsford Road in Chelmsford. Frank was a tailor’s cutter. A few years later the family moved to Tunbridge Wells in Kent and two more children had joined the family.

Frank Bending died in 1908 at the age of 54 and in 1911 Annie was still living in Tunbridge Wells, with her daughter and four younger sons. Stanley was aged 21 and a salesman in the boot trade. The oldest son was married and lived nearby; the other, Percy Greenway Bending was also married and living at 16 Plowman Street, Rugby. He was a police constable.

This must have been what brought Stanley Bending to Rugby. When the war started he was a workman at Willans and Robinson and he enlisted at the start of September 1914. He joined the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry No. 23406 and at the time of his death his rank was lance corporal. He arrived in France on 3rd August 1915.

In 1916 the K.O.Y.L.I. took part in the Battle of the Somme and in November, the final stage, the Battle of Ancre.

KOYLI Way Diary.Pagefrom 18th Nov 1916

KOYLI Way Diary. Page from 18th Nov 1916




At 5.15 am on the 18th inst the battalion was drawn up on an advanced line which had been marked out by the R. E’s. running due North and South and we dug in.

The order was A. B. C. D. from right to left, our right was in touch with the 11th Borders and our left ran towards LARGER TRENCH occupied by the Manchester Regt.

The companies were drawn up in company column. All four battalions of the brigade were in the line, our front originally allotted was 300 yds but it was afterwards reduced to 225 yds. The conditions were bad, it started snowing just before the attack and therefore observation was very difficult, but at zero which was at 6.10am our barrage was intense and apparently very effective, consequently the enemy sent up numbers of very lights this with the white ground lit up all the surroundings. The line advanced with MUNICH TRENCH as their first objective, the left half of the battalion was able to push forward and reach their first objective. but the right half was held up by intense machine gun and rifle fire so they took up a position in a line of shell holes in front of the German wire. Meanwhile our left went on and gained their final objective after heavy fighting and mopping up as they advanced. At this period Capt H. Whitworth O. C. the left company who was wounded and forced to retire / confirmed the report that his company had gained their first objective and were about to advance on to their second. After this we got no definite news of the two left companies, but believing that they must have advanced with their right flan unprotected, all reinforcements that could be found, including a platoon which was extricated after being involved with the 11th Border Regt; were sent to support them and to take up bombs. At about 5-30 pm 2 Lieut H. R. Forde who was O. C. the right company came back to report the situation. Still there was no news of the two left companies so with no line to hold and with their left flank unprotected, and on the right the 11th Borders had retired, the Commanding Officer decided to withdraw to the original line. At about 6-30pm the battalion took up the old line; at that time it consist of the Colonel, Adjutant, Intelligence Officer, 2 Lieut H. R. Forde and about 170 O. R’s

At zero the following were the officers in action. [10 missing, 2 shell shock, 2 wounded]


In the evening at about 10-0 pm the 16th Lancashire Fuss: relieved the battalion in the line, when it retired to billets in MAILLEY-MAILLET


The battalion rested.

This is probably the action in which Stanley Emberson Bending was killed.
He is buried in the Ten Tree Alley Cemetery, Puisieux.



Jeeves, Claude Alfred. Died 1st Jul 1916

C Jeeves on the Memorial Gates appeared to have had no connection with Rugby, although one record, ‘UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919’ suggested, incorrectly that a had been born there, possibly because he had been recruited there.

Claude appears to be the Claud Alfred Jeeves who was born in about mid-1894 in Northill, Bedfordshire. His parents were Harry, b.1872 in Sandy, and Rose née Murden Jeeves who had married in late 1890 or early 1891 in the St. Ives registration district. In 1911 the family were living at 2 Ewelme Terrace, Moggerhanger, Sandy. Claude was a 16 year old ‘farm labourer’, and his father was a ‘Chemical Manure Labourer’, probably in the local ‘coprolite’ industry.   His siblings were then: George William Jeeves, 19; Francis Arthur Jeeves, 12; Albert Leslie Jeeves, 10; and Ada Maria Jeeves, 7.

Claud later moved to Rugby and worked at the Rugby Engine Shed. He would become the sixth man connected with the Rugby Engine Shed to be killed, in addition to the nineteen wounded.   Flags were flown at half-mast.[1]

 It is not known when Claude enlisted. The UK, ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919’ suggests that he was initially recruited as No.2263, in the Rifle Brigade. At some unknown later date,[2] probably from comparison with other numbers, between May and June 1915, Claude enlisted as No.23278 in the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Claude’s Medal Card shows that he went to France, presumably after training in UK, arriving there on 20 July 1915. Later he was promoted to Lance-corporal.

The 2nd Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry ‘… was in Britain [in Ireland], on the outbreak of the First World War. It deployed to France and landed at Le Havre in August 1914, remaining on the Western Front for the duration of the conflict.’[3]

The 2nd Battalion was among the first troops into France from 14 August 1914. It was part of 13th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division, 2nd Corps and took part in the retreat from Mons and Le Cateau. Whilst acting as rearguard at Le Cateau on 26 August 1914 they won two V.C.s and lost 600 officers and men.   For the rest of 1914 it was desperately involved in the battles of the Marne, Aisne, La Bassee, Messines and the first Battle of Ypres. …

When Claude joined the battalion in late July 1915, the Battalion was in the Ypres area, but he would have missed the fierce battle of Hill 60 (17 April – 7 May 1915).

In theory the 5th Division was resting at the time of the Somme but some battalions had been switched to mix experienced and newer troops. In December 1915, the 2nd Battalion had joined 32nd Division, 97th Brigade, and was thus with them for the opening of the Battle of the Somme.

32nd Division, was given the formidable task of capturing the Thiepval Spur, one of the toughest positions on the Somme front. German engineers had methodically converted a village of about 100 houses into strongpoints. Close by was the Leipzig Redoubt, a defensive work from which machine guns could fire into No Man’s Land, and there were further redoubts to the flanks and the rear of the German positions. Both armies recognised the Thiepval Plateau for what it was – dominating ground that had to be taken if the British attack was to make progress.

At 7.30am the attack began. The men of 32nd Division’s 96th Brigade clambered out of their trenches and were raked by perhaps 30 machine guns from Thiepval village. It was a massacre. Three battalions of volunteers from the North of England, 1st and 2nd Salford Pals, and the Tyneside Commercials, could make little headway, although isolated parties got into Thiepval village. Worse was to come: reports that the village had actually fallen to 32nd Division led to the Royal Artillery ceasing to fire on this target.

The attack by the 97th Brigade on the Leipzig Redoubt fared rather better. … The Glasgow Commercials crept to within 30 or 40 yards of the German front line. When the barrage lifted, the infantry were able to race forward and get into the German trench before the defenders could properly respond. Leipzig Redoubt was taken and held, but the weight of fire was such that 32nd Division could not get any further forward.[4]

Claude Alfred Jeeves was probably killed during that attack on the Leipzig Redoubt. His body was not found or identified, and he is remembered on Pier and Face 11C., and 12A., of the Thiepval Memorial, which tops the spur that he was attacking.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

The Register of Soldiers’ Effects shows that his gratuity of £15-15-8d was paid to his [?father’s] ‘sister-in-law’, Mrs Rose Jeeves on 9 December 1916, ‘at brother, Harry’s request’. This would seem in fact to have been Claude’s mother. There was a later payment of £8-0-0d on 17 October 1919.

Claude Alfred Jeeves was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, having come to work in Rugby between 1911 and 1914, and the station staff had remembered him and registered his name.




– – – – – –


This article on Claud Alfred Jeeves 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, June 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 29 July 1916.

[2]       His Service Record has not survived, but the KOYLI numbering can be used to approximate attestation dates.


[4]       Gary  Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Birmingham, The Somme: a terrible learning curve, article in History Extra,


Cockerill, William Thomas. Died 25th Aug 1915

William Thomas COCKERILL (1879-1915)

William Thomas Cockerill was born in 1879 in Hanley Staffordshire. It is not known what the family were doing in Staffordshire as the rest of the children were born in Hillmorton. Thomas’s father Walter, a plasterer, married Martha Brown at Hillmorton Parish Church on 28th June 1875. Martha died the following year and Walter married Elizabeth Goode in 1877. By 1881 the family lived in Upper Street, Hillmorton. Walter died in 1884 at the age of 35 and in 1890 Elizabeth had married Edward King. By 1891 the family were living at 19 Plowman Street, Rugby and by 1901 they had moved to Gas Street, Rugby.


Thomas was educated at St Matthews School and worked as a bricklayer’s labourer in Rugby. By 1901 he had left home and joined the 1st Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He served in the Boer War, receiving two medals. After leaving the army, he remained in the reserves. He settled in Sheffield, where he married Nellie Pearson in 1906 and by 1911 was working as a labourer for an armour plate manufacturer (Vickers Ltd). He and Nellie had two children, Walter and Lewis. A third child was born later.

When WW1 started Thomas was called up (private, no. 6039, 1st Bn, KOYNI) and in November 1914 he was wounded. He came home, but on recovery returned to the front. On 25th August 1915 he died from wounds caused by the bursting of a shell.

He was buried at Etaples Military Cemetery.

An inscription on his gravestone reads: “He died that we might live, From Wife and Children”