Varnish, Arthur Thomas. Died 4th Nov 1918

Arthur Thomas VARNISH was born in Aston, Birmingham, in 1896 and his birth was registered in Q3, 1896 in Aston.  He was the eldest and only son, of Arthur James Varnish (b.c.1870 in Malvern, Worcestershire) and Emma, née Warden, Varnish, (b.c.1874 in Coventry), who were married on 21 August 1895 at St. Thomas’s church, Coventry,

In 1881 Arthur’s grandfather was a joiner and lived at the ‘British Workman’ – possibly a Temperance Inn in Malvern.  However, before 1882 they had moved to Leamington, and then before 1886 to Rugby, and in 1891 and 1901 the family were living at 49 James Street, Rugby.

Arthur’s parents were married in Coventry in 1895 and their first two children, Arthur and Nellie were born in Birmingham in 1896 and about 1900.  By 1901, now with the two young children, they had moved to live at 20 Ashley Terrace, Potter Newton, Yorkshire and Arthur’s father, was a ‘Cycle enameller and liner’.  They soon moved back south and Winifred was born in Coventry in about 1903, and Beatrice in Rugby in 1905.

By 1911, when Arthur was 14, and still at school, the family seem to have become more established in Rugby and they were living at the Peacock Inn, 33 Newbold Road, Rugby, and his father was now a ‘Licensed Victualler and Innkeeper’.  Arthur’s uncle, his father’s younger brother, Oscar William Varnish, a ‘toolmaker’, who had been born in Rugby in about 1884, was also there, at least on census night, confirming the earlier family connection with the town.  

Before the war Arthur became an apprentice at BTH, and worked in the BTH Pattern Shop.  He enlisted early from BTH, in late August 1914, when he was still under his apprenticeship, which was not due to expire until 23 September 1917, but he had a ‘permit to go’.  His name is among the many who enlisted from the BTH,

Rugby’s Magnificent Response ‘FROM THE WORKS.  This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd :- … Varnish, …’.[1]

Arthur’s Service Record survives in the Pension Records.  Arthur had a dark complexion, dark hair and blue eyes.  He was 5ft 6¼ inches tall and weighed 150 lbs.  His religion was Church of England.

He enlisted in Rugby[2] on 31 August 1914, when he was 18 years and 78 days old, as Rifleman No:A/3655, in the 7th Battalion, the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC).

7th (Service) Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps was formed at Winchester on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division.  It moved to Aldershot, going on to Grayshott in November and in February 1915 went to Bordon.  It then returned to Aldershot in March 1915 and then on 19 May 1915 the battalion landed at Boulogne.

Arthur thus first entered service at Winchester, being posted on 3 August 1914, to ‘D’ Company of the 7th Battalion (Bn.) of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps which was then being formed.  Initially without equipment or arms of any kind, the recruits were judged to be ready by May 1915, although their move to the fighting front was delayed by lack of rifle and artillery ammunition.  Arthur had served 261 days on Home Service up to 18 May 1915 before going to France.

Arthur’s Medal Card, and his Service Record, shows that he went to France with his Battalion on 19 May 1915, and he thus earned the 1914-15 Star.  He would be on the Western Front for 255 days.

Soon after arrival the 14th (Light) Division, which included the 7th KRRC had the misfortune to be in action at Hooge[3] on 30 July 1915, where they were the first troops to be attacked by German flamethrowers.  During that action, at least four members of the 7th KRRC from Rugby were killed,[4] as well as several Rugby men who were serving in other Battalions.  It was one of the worst day’s loss of Rugby’s men in WWI.

Later in 1915, the Battalion was in action in the Second Attack on Bellewaarde Farm[5] on 25 September 1915, ‘Rugby’s Worst Day’,[6] when eight Rugby men, from the 5th Battalion, the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were killed, and later during 1916, the 7th Battalion would be in action at the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

However, Arthur was not in France for much of 1916, and the Battalion War Diary[7] can be consulted for the conditions experienced by him in late 1915 and early 1916 before he was hospitalised.

1st to 4.12.15 – A HUTS, Vlanertingh – Battalion resting.  A great deal of rain …

5th – Trenches shelled intermittently from 8am to 4pm. … part of trench being completely blown in … owing to the continual wet the trenches are in a worse state than ever … 2 OR Killed, 5 wounded.

8th – Very heavy bombardment on sector … relieved in evening by 8th RB … 10 OR Killed & 23 Wounded.

9th to 12th – A. Camp, W of Poperinge – Bn. in huts at A Camp – Very wet and muddy.

14th – Heavy shelling … 8 OR killed, 14 OR wounded.

15th – … our heavy batteries bombarded enemy … heavy retaliation … 2 OR killed, 11 OR wounded.

16th – Continuous bombardment by enemy … 2 OR killed, 11 OR wounded.  On night of 16th relieved by Bedford Rgt … moved by train from Asylum to B huts, W of Poperinge.’

The month continued in a similar manner with ORs killed and wounded on most days.

‘December 1915 – Average weekly strength was 867 Other Ranks [OR].  During the month there were admitted to Hospital – 1 Officer and 124 OR.   Discharged from Hospital – 38 ORs.  Sick evacuated from Divisional Area – 1 Officer and 67 ORs.  The majority of cases evacuated were men suffering from “Trench Feet”.’

In January a similar pattern followed with a few days in the trenches, and then a few days back in huts or tents at camp.

‘Jan 8th – Glympse Cottage Trenches – … taking over … from 7th RB and … 8th RB. … 3 OR wounded.

9th   – 1 OR killed, 1 OR wounded.

10th – 8 OR wounded.

11th – 1 OR wounded, 1 OR killed.

12th – 1 OR wounded.

13th – Relieved by 8 RB … into huts and tents in No 1 Camp 3 miles NE of Poperinge – on the whole a good camp …

16th – Bn. relieved 8th RB in trenches … 1 OR killed, 5 OR wounded.

17th – 10 OR killed, 2 OR wounded.

26th – … 1 OR wounded.

27th – 10 OR killed, 2 OR wounded.

28th – 1 OR wounded’

‘January 1916 – Average weekly strength was Officers – 25, Other Ranks – 939.  During the month there were admitted to Hospital – 59 ORs.  Discharged from Hospital – 16 ORs.  Evacuated from Divisional Area – 25 ORs.’

Arthur Varnish would have been among those evacuated from the Divisional Area, probably in about mid-January.  He was seemingly suffering from the combined effects of a shell explosion, possibly a gas shell; burial by the explosion; bronchitis from being stood up to his waist in water in a trench; and the cold wet conditions.  He would probably have been passed to a Regimental Aid Post or Dressing Station, and was then was in a Base Hospital at Etaples.  He was sent back to UK on 28 January 1916.

The seriousness of his condition can be judged by his length of stay in the Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield.  He was there from 29 January until 9 March 1916 with ‘Neurothoxia.[8]   It was reported that the –
‘Condition followed effects of burial due to shell explosion – is improved and would be fit for light duties at Command Depot.’

Then three weeks later he was readmitted to the Winchester Hospital for seven days from 29 March with ‘Bronchitis – mild’.  He was discharged on 3 April 1916 and then posted to the 5th Bn.[9] – a depot and training unit – on 26 May.

After some three months, on 25 July 1916, he was discharged as unfit for service under ‘Clause 392, XVI[10] – No longer physically fit for war service’, with a ‘very good’ character, and received a pension of 6/3d per week from 21 July 1916.  He had served for ‘1 year and 330 days’.  After his discharge he was awarded a Silver War Badge, No: 96716, to show that he had served and was not avoiding war service.

Arthur still had to appear at Medical Boards to determine his degree of disability and pension status.  His medical records in September 1916 stated,
Cause of Discharge: Med unfit, Chronic Bronchitis.  Origin – Dec 1915 – La Bride – States he was up to his waist in the water of trench & then he reported sick.  Sent to hospital at Etaples.  Has rales[11] all over chest & tubulus breathing.[12]  Chronic cough & short of breath on (slight) exertion.  Partly due to Active Service (Exposure).  Permanently prevents ¼.  20.9.16.  Re-examine in 4 months.’

He was subject to further medical boards on 21 March 1917 and 19 September 1917 and it appears that his condition continued – ‘Prevents 25% at present.’  At that date he was no longer at a Rugby address but was living ‘c/o Mrs Austin, 101 Pevensey Road, Eastbourne’.  Perhaps it was considered that the sea air would be advantageous to his condition.

There is a further note ‘For Interim Award pending receipt of Medical Report applied for 28.8.18, A47 sent 26.10.18’ and two days later ‘Sending receipt of Medical Report 28.10.18.  Expires 10.12.18.’  A ‘Report of Med. Bd. 31.10.18. Prevents 30%.’.

However, soon after that last medical assessment, he died, on 4 November 1918, at Eastbourne, Sussex, presumably from further complications – although he could also have been a victim of the ‘Flu’ that swept the world at the end of  and after WWI.  His death certificate would no doubt clarify this.  His body was returned to his family in Rugby and buried in the Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery in Plot: J180.  As he had served in the War and died as a result of War Service, he has a CWGC memorial headstone, however no additional family inscription was engraved on it.

The Rugby Advertiser reported his death,
VARNISH – On November 4th, at Eastbourne, ARTHUR THOMAS, beloved son of Mr. & Mrs. Varnish, aged 22 years.[13]

Arthur James Varnish’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and that he also won the 1914-1915 Star.

He is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the CWGC headstone on his grave in the Rugby (Clifton Road) Cemetery; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[14]

On 17 August 1920, his father was sent his £8-10s War Gratuity.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Arthur James VARNISH was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914, and https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[3]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/30th-jul-1915-battle-of-hooge-crater/.

[4]      Riflemen, John Henry PRESTON, R/78; William TOMLINSON, R/79; and Herbert SMITH, R/1621; and Lance-corporal, Albert Edward WATTS, R/160.  See ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 30 July 1915 for their biographies.

[5]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/second-battle-of-bellewaarde-farm-25th-sep-1915/.

[6]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/rugbys-worst-day-preview/.

[7]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 14th Division, Piece 1896/3: 7 Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps (1915 May – 1918 Jan).

[8]      Assuming this is the correct interpretation of the doctor’s writing – this can be an effect from military gasses, and it seems quite likely that the shell that buried Arthur was a gas shell.

[9]      A depot/training unit, which moved on mobilisation to Sheerness and remained in that area throughout the war.  It was part of the Thames & Medway Garrison.

[10]     Paragraph 392 of King’s Regulations 1912 – In WW1, King’s Regulations for the Army set out the official causes of discharge, in sub-paragraphs from (i) to (xxvii), omitting (xvii).  In 1919 a new cause was introduced – (xxviii) – ‘On demobilization’.

[11]     Rales are abnormal lung sounds characterized by discontinuous clicking or rattling sounds.

[12]     Tubular Breathing is a symptomatic sound, when listening to the chest, of ‘bronchial breathing’ and is abnormal.

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

[14]     This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

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Wilson, Horace Victor. Died 19th Sep 1918

Horace Victor WILSON was born at New Bilton, and his birth was registered in Q3, 1887 in Rugby.  He was the sixth child of Ellis Wilson [b.c.1851 in Hillmorton – an upholsterer] and Sarah Jane, née Rotton, Wilson, [b.c.1860 in Birmingham], whose marriage was registered in Birmingham in Q4, 1876.

Their three eldest children had been born in West Bromwich in about 1877, 1879 and 1883, and then the next two in Tipton in 1884 and 1886.  Before 1887 when their next child, Horace Victor Wilson was born, they had moved to Rugby, and for the 1891 census they were living at 11 Bridget Street, Rugby.

By 1901 the family had moved to live at 103 Victoria Street, Rugby, where Edwin’s father, Ellis was an ‘upholsterer and general dealer’.  His father’s death was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1909 – he was 58.  Horace had attended the St. Matthew’s School.

By 1911, the family had moved again and was living at 65 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby.  Before the war Horace worked at BTH as a Carpenter and his younger brother, Edwin, who was a ‘Winder (Apprentice)’ in 1911, was also employed by BTH before the war in the Winding Department.

It seems that he enlisted early from BTH, and he and his younger brother were probably two of the three ‘Wilsons’ who are listed in the Rugby Advertiser on 5 and 26 September 1914.

‘B.T.H. Company to the Rescue. – From the Works.  This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd:  … Wilson … Wilson …[1]

Recruiting at Rugby slows – Latest B.T.H. Recruits. – Since our last list of recruits from the B.T.H Works was compiled the following have enlisted: Works: …, Wilson, …[2]

Horace enlisted in Rugby[3] as a Private No: R/76 in the 7th Battalion (Bn.) the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and was later posted as No: GS/84012 to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers).

7th (Service) Battalion was formed at Winchester on 19 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under orders of 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division.  It moved to Aldershot, going on to Grayshott in November and in February 1915 went to Bordon.  It returned to Aldershot in March 1915.  Then on 19 May 1915 it went to France and landed at Boulogne and saw action the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915, the Battle of Delville Wood in July 1916 and the Battle of Flers–Courcelette in September 1916 as well as the advance to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Arras in April 1917, the Battle of Langemark in August 1917, the First Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 and the Second Battle of Passchendaele in November 1917 before taking part in the Battle of St Quentin in March 1918 and the Battle of the Avre in April 1918.[24]

On 2 February 1918 it transferred to 43rd Brigade in same [14th] Division and on 25 April 1918 was reduced to cadre strength and on 16 June 1918, it transferred to 49th Brigade in 16th (Irish) Division and returned to England to be absorbed by 34th Bn, the London Regiment at Clacton.[4]

Horace’s Medal Card did not have any date for when he went to France, and he did not gain the 1914-15 Star, which together suggest that he was in UK until after the end of 1915.  A later report stated that he had been in France for three years, which would suggest from say September 1915, and another stating ‘3½ years’.  It seems likely that these were approximations and that he went to France at a date after the medal qualification date of 31 December 1915 seems likely.

With no surviving Service Record there is also no record of when he transferred to the 2nd/4th Bn., the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), or indeed when he was promoted to Lance-Corporal.  It could have been in UK or in France.  The 2nd/4th Bn. had a complicated history as the …
… The 3rd/1st London Brigade moved to Bury St Edmunds, and … absorbed large drafts of recruits under the Derby scheme in February 1916, and in June it moved into camp outside Ipswich.  That month the battalion was renumbered to replace the disbanded 2nd/4th Bn.’

Some accounts state that the renumbered 2nd/4th went to France in early 1917, others state that,
A new 2nd/4th Londons went to France in July 1916 with the 58th Division.  On 15 June 1917, as part of the 173rd Brigade, they were involved in an attack against the Hindenburg line near Bullecourt.’

After the severe losses in the action at Bullecourt, the Battalion was involved in the Battle of Ypres, also known as ‘Passchendaele’ [31 July – 10 November 1917]; then the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael [from 21 March 1918]; at Villers Bretonneux [‎24 – 25 April 1918]; Chipilly [‎8 – 12 August 1918] and the Second Battle of Bapaume [21 August – 3 September 1918]

The attack was renewed on 27 August [1918], with 2nd/4th Bn. in support of 3rd Londons towards Maricourt.  The defence was sporadic, and the two battalions passed through and mopped up the village in the morning.  The following day’s attack consisted of patrol actions against rearguards.  The battalion was then rested until 1 September, when at short notice a dawn attack was made towards Bouchavesnes.  The battalion followed the creeping barrage, overcame some resistance at the edge of the village, and was on its final objective by 10.45 – an advance of 3000 yards representing the most successful action fought by the 2nd/4th Bn.’[5]

The commune of Bouchavesnes is situated some 22 miles (35 km) northwest of Saint-Quentin, and extracts from the Battalion War Diary[6] entry for that day gives slightly more detail,

‘BOUCHAVESNES – Sept 1st 1918 – The Bde. Attacked BOUCHAVESNES at 5.30am.  … The … 2/4 Bn. on the right, … The morning although cold was fine and visibility good.  Enemy opposition was strong on the western edge of the village but as this was over come the enemy showed signs of giving ground without fighting.  By 10.45 am the Bn. had reached the final objective and C.O. … established a definite line … 

‘During the attack, casualties were as follows:- [4 officers killed – 5 wounded]; O[ther] Ranks.  Killed 11.  Wounded 49.  Missing 30.

‘The number of prisoners captured approx 230.  Machine Guns 40.  Field Guns 8.

‘Message of congratulations on success of Bde attached … Weather was fine throughout the day.  Bn. was relieved same night by the 14th Black Watch (74th Div) and rested in valley … The Bn. arrived there at 4am on 2nd inst.’

Horace was severely wounded, one of the 49 wounded, during the successful action against Bouchavesnes on 1 September 1918.  He would have been passed down the chain of medical evacuation to the coast, then evacuated from France and taken to a hospital in UK, in his case in Birmingham.

A report in the Rugby Advertiser noted,
Rifleman Horace Wilson, London Regiment, late of the KRR, son of Mrs Wilson, Bridget Street, has been seriously wounded in France.  He has lost his right leg and his left arm has been badly fractured.  He joined the Army in September 1914, has served three years in France.  He was formerly employed by the B.T.H.[7]

He died in hospital in Birmingham on 19 September 1918 and his body was returned to his home to be buried in Plot G. 24. in the Rugby (Croop Hill) Cemetery.  The ‘Rugby’ Advertiser noted,
‘Pte Horace Victor Wilson, London Regiment (late KRR) died in hospital in Birmingham on September 19th from wounds received on September 1st.   He was the youngest surviving son of Mrs Ellis Wilson, 41 Bridget Street, and is the second of her sons to fall in the War.  He was 31 years of age, an old St. Matthew’s boy and prior to joining the army in September 1914, was employed as a Carpenter at the B.T.H.  He had been in France for 3½ years.’[8]

A ‘Deaths’ notice was published by the family on 28 September.
‘WILSON. – H. V. WILSON, late K.R.R., died September 19th, 1918, of wounds received in France on September 1, 1918: aged 31.[9]

When his temporary cross was replaced with a memorial headstone, no additional family inscription was engraved on it.  There are six other WWI casualties buried at Croop Hill Cemetery.

Horace Victor WILSON’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also commemorated on a pillar of the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914 – 1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[10]

His younger brother, Edwin, also fought in WWI.  He gained a commission and was a 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Bn. the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed in action 23 March 1918, some six months before his older brother

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

This article on Horace Victor WILSON was initially researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Pauline Masterman, and updated with military material by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, September 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

[2]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/27/26th-sep-1914-recruiting-at-rugby-slows/.

[3]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/kings-royal-rifle-corps/; also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King%27s_Royal_Rifle_Corps.

[5]      Grimwade, Capt F. Clive, The War History of the 4th Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1914–1919, London: Regimental Headquarters, 1922, Uckfield, Naval & Military press, 2002, pp. 449–55.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 58th Division, Piece 3001: 173 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[7]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 14 September 1918.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[10]     This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

 

 

Jones, Frederick James. Died 25th Apr 1918

Frederick James Jones was born in Rugby in late 1877. His father, Frederick Jones, was a journeyman printer, who had been born in Maidstone, Kent. His mother Louisa Maria Cleaver was born in Ealing, London according to some census entries. But in 1911 it states that she was born in Bilton, Rugby. Frederick and Louisa were married in Norwich in 1876.

In 1881 they were living at 27 Arnold Street, Rugby. By 1891 they had moved to 13 Russell Street and Frederick (senr) was working as a printer’s machinist. They now had a second child, Herbert John born in 1881. Frederick James, aged 15 was an apprentice compositor, working with his father for the Rugby Advertiser. He was to work there for over 26 years.

On 22nd May 1899, Frederick James Jones married Emily Jane Houghton at St Andrews Parish Church and in 1901 they were living at 26 Dale Street, with daughter Emily Ivy. They had two more children, Leslie Frederick in 1909 and Muriel in 1913.

Frederick enlisted under Lord Derby’s scheme on 10th Dec 1915 and was called up a year later in December 1916. He was aged 38 and was a compositor and machineman. He had been vice-president of the Rugby branch of the Typographical Society for two years.

He joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps as Rifleman no. 49966. The 9th Battalion, K.R.R.C. took part in the Battles of the Scarpe the Battle of Langemark and the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele in 1917.

On the 2nd Feb 1918 they were transferred to the 43rd Brigade. They returned to the Somme and were in action during the Battle of St Quentin and the Battle of the Avre, suffering very heavy casualties with almost 6,000 men of the Division killed or injured. The Division was withdrawn from the front line and were engaged building a new defence line to the rear. On the 27th of April, the 9th K.R.R.C was reduced to a cadre and on the 16th of June they transferred to the 34th Division. They were disbanded on the 3rd of August 1918.

Frederick James Jones must have died in this confused period when the German advance was halted and Operation Michael came to an end.

His death is given as 25th April 1918 and his name is listed on the Pozieres Memorial.

Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert and the Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918. The Corps and Regiments most largely represented are The Rifle Brigade with over 600 names… Frederick J Jones is listed on panels 61-64.

Frederick’s wife died on 16th Nov 1918, aged 41.

An announcement in the Rugby Advertiser in November 1921 reads:
In ever-loving memory of our dear Father and Mother, Frederick Jones, who was killed in action April 25th, 1918 and Emily Jane, died November 16th, 1918.
In Life were parted,
In Death united.
– With fond remembrance from Ivy, Leslie and Muriel.
 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

Smith, Joseph Charles. Died 20th Sep 1917

Joseph Charles SMITH was born in Crewe in 1897, his birth being registered at Nantwich in the 2nd Quarter of 1897.

He was the eldest son of Joseph Charles Smith [b.c.1876, Crewe] and his wife, Isobel [b.c.1873, Crewe]. They had married in 1896, and Joseph, their first child, was born in Crewe the next year.   By 1899 they had moved to Rugby and two more boys and two girls were born there.

In 1901, Joseph was three and his father was a ‘steam engine maker – fitter’; they were living at 73 York Street, Rugby. By 1911, when Joseph was 13, he was already working as a ‘Tailor’s Errand Boy’ and by then the family had moved 6 King Edward Road, Rugby, probably a larger property to house an expanded family. His father was now described as an ‘engineering worker’.

Joseph’s Service Records survives among the ‘burnt records’, which are not all readily legible, but provide considerable details of his military service.

Joseph joined up at Rugby on 1 September 1914, as a Rifleman, No.Y/532 in the 5th Battalion [Bn.] of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps [KRRC].   He declared that he was aged 18 years 4 months. It appears that he was then working as a ‘Tinsmith’s Assistant’. He was 5ft 5⅛ inches tall, and weighed 128 lbs.

His service reckoned from 1 September 1914, and he ‘joined’ at Winchester on 2 September 1914, and was then posted to the 5th Bn. KRRC on 3 September and to the 14th Bn. on the 30 October and then to the 13th Bn. KRRC on 13 July 1915. It seems he was attended a Grenade course achieving a Class II on 1 September 1916, and then was posted to the ‘D’ [?Depot] 20 April 1917.

His service dates confirm that he was – ‘Home – 1 September 1914 to 29 July 1915 [282 days]’, and then, that he went to France, ‘BEF (France) – 30 July 1915 to 19 April 1917 [264 days]’.

It seems he was posted to ‘C’ Company 13th Bn. KRRC as there is a casualty form for him when he was serving with them.

The 13th (Service) Battalion KRRC was formed at Winchester on 7 October 1914 as part of K3 and attached as Army Troops to 21st Division. They moved to Halton Park, going on in November 1914 to billets in Amersham and Great Missenden, then moved to Windmill Hill (Salisbury Plain) in April 1915 and transferred to 111th Brigade in 37th Division.[1] On 31 July 1915 they landed at Boulogne, which would agree with the date in Joseph’s Service Record.

He presumably served with them when they were in the reserve at the Battle of Loos on 26 September 1916, suffering heavy casualties, and later in the Battle of Somme in July 1916 and particularly in the Battle of Morval when the Battalion captured Geudecourt. In 1917 the Battalion was involved in the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg line and the Battalion Diary for 13th Bn. KRRC[2] noted that in March 1917 the Division had spent ‘… nearly a month in training.’ The Battalion then moved towards Arras for the forthcoming actions.

On 9 April they moved to the German Front Line trenches which had been captured a few hours before. They later advanced further and came under fire – and snow fell that night. ‘A long and tiring day was succeeded by a cold wet night, with snow and frost and no shelter for officers or men.’ On 10 April they advanced on Monchy le Preux which as they expected was defended. After much fighting, the next day, with the help of some tanks, the village was taken, but then came under enemy bombardment. The Battalion was relieved on 11 April 1917, and returned to billets at Arras. It was probably during this action in the Arras area from 9 to 11 April 1917 that Joseph was wounded.

A 13th Bn. KRRC report dated 15 April 1917 recorded that he had been wounded, and an earlier report dated 14 April from 49 FA [Field Ambulance] noted that he had a ‘GSW’ [gun shot wound] to the right shoulder. The date of the occurrence is either missing or now illegible.   However, an entry on 20 April, from 4 GH [General Hospital] appears to read ‘To England for …..’. Another entry suggests ‘Military Hospital’ ‘1/5/17’.

His Service Record confirmed his return to England for treatment: ‘Home – 20 April 1917 to 23 August 1917 [126 days].’ A later entry indicated that on 26 August 1917, he had ‘Arrived and Posted to 11th Bn.’, that is the 11th Bn. KRRC.

His new posting, the 11th Battalion KRRC, was in the 59th Brigade in the 20th Division. The Battalion Diary[3] provides considerable detail as to the activities of the 11th Battalion during this later period in the Battle of 3rd Ypres.

On 14/15 August the Battalion had left the Canal Bank, and moved to bivouac camp at Wagram Farm, and then up to near Langemark where they were relieved on 17 August.   From 18 to 27 August the Battalion was drawn back, received some replacement officers and six Military Medals were awarded to other ranks.

On 24 August, Joseph returned to France, but probably avoided the incident on the 27 August when, ‘A grenade accident caused us casualties of twenty other ranks wounded.’ On 3 September, the Battalion Diary noted ‘Reinforcements 23 O.R. received’ and this was possibly when Joseph actually reached his Battalion. In the next few days more reinforcements arrived, and training and various moves continued until the Battalion went back to the front line on 18 September, when ‘… ‘D’ Coy. came under heavy shell fire sustaining large losses’.

The action on the 19/20 September occupies several pages in the Battalion Diary, with action taking place around the Langenarck-Coedtervesten Road. The 20th Division was forming the northern defensive flank of the offensive, on a front of 1,400 yd (1,300 m) from the Poelcappelle spur to the Ypres–Staden railway flank for the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.

‘… At 5.40 A.M the barrage opened & the front advanced to within 50 yards of the final objective and laid down until the barrage lifted when they advanced again … coming under heavy machine gun fire. … The advance was severely bombed under cover of machine & sniping fire thus holding up the line on the right … Our losses were heavy … The remnants of the Coy then got into shell holes & hung on till night fall when they withdrew … On the left the first wave reached its objective without opposition …’.

At 11p.m. after many separate smaller actions, the Battalion was withdrawn to the west of Steenbeek. The Diary entry concludes by noting that six officers were killed, with three wounded; 36 Other Ranks were killed; 43 were missing; and 127 were wounded.

Joseph was still serving with the 11th Bn. KRRC when he was posted ‘Missing’ on 20 September 1917, and later documents record, ‘Accepted for Official Purposes as having Died’ on that date. A later note on 9 July 1918, also stated ‘Regarded for Official Purposes as having Died on or since the date reported Missing’.

His record confirms his final service in Belgium: ‘ “France” – 24 August 1917 to 20 September 1917 [28 days] … [total service] … 3 years 20 days’.

Sometime, it is assumed during the assault on 20 September 1917, Joseph Charles Smith was deemed to have been ‘Killed in Action’.

His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels Panel 115 to 119 and 162A and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.   Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Joseph Charles Smith is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

Joseph was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. His Medals were sent to his father at 6 King Edward Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Joseph Charles SMITH was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.

[1]       Information from: http://www.1914-1918.net/krrc.htm.

[2]       The National Archives, UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 37th Division, Piece 2533/1-4: 111 Infantry Brigade: 13 Battalion King´s Royal Rifle Corps (1914 Oct – 1919 Feb).

[3]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, 11th Bn. King´s Royal Rifle Corps, 20th Division; also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.

Ensor, John Leslie. Died 12th Jul 1917

John was the son of John Charles and Florence (nee Smith) Ensor, born in Rugby in 1896, and baptised at St Andrews Church on 28 August. The family were living at 29 Charlotte Street, his father was a joiner.   His parents were both born in Rugby and married in Rugby district in 1893, but not in the parish church.

The family continued to live at 29 Charlotte Street in 1901 and 1911. They had four children, Claude Moore born 1894, John Leslie (named as Leslie in 1901), Doris Eileen b 1900 and Horace William b 1902. By 1911 Claude was a builder’s clerk and Leslie an errand boy, the other two children were at school.

The grave register of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes that he enlisted at Nottingham in September 1914 and was twice wounded, and that his parents were of St Ann’s Street, Nottingham.   It seems as if the family moved to Nottingham before the outbreak of war. Leslie was wounded twice during his service.

Leslie enlisted at Nottingham in September 1914 and joined the 11th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) as Rifleman number R/3748, later being moved to the 2nd Battalion, probably on being sent to the war zone. He embarked to France on 21 July 1915, and the War Diary on Ancestry.com records that the new draft of 58 men and a corporal arrived on 2 August to join the 2nd Battalion at Vermelles near Loos. There was a strong assault on the German lines on 25 September which included the use of gas, but the wind changed direction and blew the gas back into the soldiers badly affecting them. However they reached their objective and the Germans there surrendered at a cost to the KRRC of 81 killed, 193 wounded, 149 missing and 75 gassed.

The war diary also reports that upon inspection of the German defences after the surrender, they were found to be mostly bluff, although the trenches were clean and in good order. “The wire along the communications trenches was made of thistles planted in two rows which at a short distance looked like strong wire”.

During 1916 the KRRC was involved on the Somme in the Battles of Albert, Bazentin, Pozieres,Fleur Courcelette and Morval.

British units returned to the Nieuport sector of the Western Front in June 1917, when the 32nd Division relieved French troops stationed there in preparation for planned Allied landings on German-held territory along the Belgian coast. German marines launched a pre-emptive attack against the British forces on the river Yser in July and the landings, codenamed ‘Operation Hush’, never took place. Over 260 men commemorated on the Nieuport Memorial, which include Leslie Ensor, were killed or mortally wounded during heavy fighting with units of the German Marine-Korps Flandern on 10 July 1917.

Nieuport Memorial

Leslie was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Sinclair, Alfred. Died 9th Apr 1917

Alfred SINCLAIR was born in Crewe in late 1885. His parents were very much older, in 1901 they were living in Prince Arthur Street, Monk’s Coppenhall, Crewe. His father, Robert was 72 and still a working blacksmith; his mother, Harriet née Kettle, his father’s second wife whom he married in 1883, was 61, and Alfred was 15 and an ‘Apprentice Cabinet Maker’.   In 1919 when both his father and mother were dead, there were five step-brothers and two step-sisters still living, both Sinclairs and Kettles, with ages which ranged from 20 to 50.

In 1911 Alfred was in lodgings, a ‘visitor’, at the home of the Broadhurst confectioner family at 69 Bradwall Road, Sandbach. He was then a ‘Fitter’s Assistant [deleted], Fitter at Railway Works’. It seems likely that as Crewe was a ‘Railway Town’ he might well have worked for the L&NWR in Crewe and later transferred to Rugby. Prior to the war it seems that he had lived with one of his step-sisters, Mrs Francis Ann, née Kettle, Morgan of 62 Windsor Street, Rugby, whilst he was working at the London and North Western Railway Locomotive Sheds.[1]

Alfred’s Military Service Records survive, and include his Attestation Papers which show that he joined up early in the war on 1 September 1914, as a Rifleman, No.Y/535, in the 5th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He was aged 29 years and 11 days; 5ft 3½in tall, weighed 142lbs, with fair complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was at Winchester Depot on 2 September 1914 and posted formally to the 5th (Reserve) Battalion, which had been in Winchester since August, on 3 September 1914. As a Depot and Training unit, they moved on mobilisation to Sheerness and remained in that area throughout the war.

However, Alfred was reposted on 30 October to the 14th (Reserve) Battalion. The 14th Bn. was formed at Sheerness in October 1914 for K4 and came under orders of 92nd Brigade of 31st Division then moved to Westcliff-on-Sea and on 10 April 1915 converted into a reserve battalion.   In May 1915 it moved to Belhus Park and in October to Seaford. Before then, on 3 September 1915, Alfred was posted from the Reserve to the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) and went to France to join the 10th Bn..   This is confirmed by his Medal Card.

The 10th (Service) Battalion had been formed at Winchester on 14 September 1914 as part of K2 and came under orders of 59th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division.   They had moved to Blackdown, and then in February 1915 to Witley and in April to Hamilton Camp (Stonehenge). On 21 July 1915 the 10th Battalion landed at Boulogne and the Division concentrated in the Saint-Omer area. They moved to the Fleurbaix area for trench familiarisation. Alfred would have joined them some six weeks after they had arrived in France, probably in time for some of that familiarisation.

During June 1916 the 10th Bn. were involved in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, in the Ypres area responding to a German attack which attempted to take pressure off the British Somme offensive, which in turn was taking pressure off the German offensive against the French at Verdun. The 10th Bn. would later be posted to the Somme and were involved in the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of Guillemont; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette; the Battle of Morval; and the Battle of Le Transloy.

From 1 to 4 July the 10th Bn. were in billets in Poperinge, and later were working near the Prison in Ypres. Whilst there four mules were hit by shelling, but there is no record of casualties among the men. However, whilst with the 10th Bn. at about this date Alfred was wounded[2] and posted to the ‘Depot’ on 5 July 1916. His Military Record shows that he was wounded with a ‘SWLLeg’ – that is a Shell Wound to the Left Leg. He returned to UK for treatment and after his recovery he returned via Southampton to Le Havre, France on 8 December, and was posted to the 2nd Bn. on 9 December and re-posted ‘in the field’ to the 9th Bn. on 9 December 1916.

The French had handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917.

During April 1917, the 9th Bn. was in the Arras area and preparing for the offensive.   They were held in the caves in the old stone quarries under Arras, which had been much enlarged and provided cover.   The extract from the Ox. and Bucks. Diary[3] – they were in the same Brigade – provided information.

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.    Attack on the ‘Harp’.

The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

… The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day: … 9th K.R.R.C.: In Minnow Trench (250 yards). In Perch Trench (300 yards). In Bream Trench (200 yards). In Rudd Trench (150 yards). Total: 900 yards. … 9th K.R.R.C [leaving] … from Christchurch Cave by Exit No.14.E. (G.34.c.90.63). Battalion to be clear of the Cave by 9p.m. on the 8th inst. Route to Assembly Trenches: Rue de Temple – Arras Way and Hunter Street to Old German Front Line – Telegraph Lane and Fish Lane to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight 8th/9th inst.

The 9th K.R.R.C. Diary[4] relates that the 9th Bn. were to attack the ‘String’ of the ‘Harp’. Zero hour was 5.30a.m. and their wave set off at about 7.00a.m. under a ‘creeping barrage’. The objectives were successfully gained by about 9.15a.m. However, 6 Officers and 69 men were killed; 17 men were missing; and 4 officers and 118 men were wounded.

Alfred was one of those ‘Killed in Action’ on that Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. His body was not recovered or later identified and he is remembered on a Panel in Bay 7 of the Arras Memorial, located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, to the west of Arras, near the Citadel.

The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Alfred Sinclair’s Military Records show that his Next of Kin was originally his aunt, Maggie Sinclair, 29 John Street, Crewe, but it seems that his step-sister ‘Francis Ann, née Kettle, Morgan’ at 62 Windsor Street, Rugby, took over the role as she received some unknown ‘effects’ on 7 September 1917 – the record is illegible.   She later received his 1915 Star on 4 March 1919; the British War Medal on 24 January 1921 and his Victory Medal on 9 April 1921.

As well as on the Arras Memorial, Alfred is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on Rugby Loco Steam Shed Memorial, which is ‘A bronze tablet bearing the names of the dead, mounted on white marble, superimposed on black slate. On either side of the tablet is hung a framed illuminated roll of honour, containing the names of members of the department who served in the forces during the war.’[5]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Alfred Sinclair 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, December 2016.

[1]       Information from Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Information also from Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917;   He ‘… was wounded in July 1916 and returned to France in the following December.’

[3]    Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[4]       Available to view at www.ancestry.co.uk [subscription site].

[5]       From a report of the unveiling, Rugby Advertiser, 11 March 1921; see also the Rugby Family History Group website at http://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-loco-steam-shed-memorial .

Read, Charles George. Died 15th Dec 1916

Charles George Read “joined up” in 1914 aged 19, giving his birth as 1895. His service number was 11383 in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

Charles George Read

Charles George Read

The 2nd battalion King’s Royal Rifles took part in most of the Battle of the Somme. The last action was the Battle of Morval which ended on 28th September 1916. Charles George must have died in later shelling, as he has no marked grave.

Charles George Read died on 15th December 1916 and is remembered on the Thiepval Monument.

Charles George Read was born Q2 1894 in Great Bowden, Market Harborough Leicestershire. His parents were Charles John and Minnie Read nee Howarth.

His parents marriage was registered 1893 Q4 Billesdon Leicestershire.

His father Charles John Read and his mother Minnie nee Howarth had 7 children between 1893 and 1911, their first child was Charles George born 1894 Great Bowden Market Harborough, James William born 1895 Great Bowden Market Harborough, Colin Edmund born 1897 Great Bowden Market Harborough, Gladys Maud born 1898 Great Bowden Market Harborough, Herbert born 1901 Great Bowden Market Harborough, Ivy Marion born 1904 Rugby, and Reginald Stanley born 1907 Rugby.

In 1901 UK census Charles J Read age 30 is living 5 Station Road Great Bowden Leicestershire and was a railway engine stoker with his wife Minnie age 31 and 4 children:- Charles G age 6, James W age 5, Colin E aged 3 and Gladys M aged 2.

By 1911 Charles and his family had moved to live at 46 Rokeby Street Rugby, father Charles was still a railway locomotive stoker living with his wife Minnie age 41 and 7 children, Charles George was age 16 and a railway engine cleaner his brother James William aged 15 was a winder in electrical works, his other brother Colin Edmund aged 13 was at school and also a newsboy the 3 additional children all born after 1901 are Herbert born 1901 Great Bowden, Ivy Marion born 1904 Rugby and Reginald Stanley born 1907 Rugby.

Taking a step backwards to 1891 UK census we find his father Charles J Read age 20 single and a lodger who is a Railway Engine Cleaner born North Crawley Buckinghamshire lodging at Station Road Great Bowden the home of Elizabeth Sharpe aged 30 a widow and her family + 3 lodgers a railway carman, a railway shunter and railway engine cleaner.

Going back even further to 1881 UK census we find Charles age 10 living in a shepherds lodge in Castle Ashby Northamptonshire with parents James age 35 and who is a shepherd and his mother Ann Read age 32 and 4 siblings, William age 8, Emma age 6, Herbert aged 4 and George aged 1 + visitor Mary A Smith aged 22 born North Crawley Buckinghamshire. In 1871 UK census Charles John Read aged 3 months living High Street North Crawley Buckinghamshire with parents James age 25 a bricklayers labourer and Ann Read age 22 a lace maker.

And in 1891 UK census Minnie Howarth aged 21 single and a servant born Brighton Sussex living Northampton Road Little Bowden Leicestershire working for William Symington age 81 a widow and coffee merchant and his family.

Going back even further to 1881 UK census we find his mother Minnie Howarth aged 11 living with parents James and Eliza Howarth and sister Maud Eliza Howarth aged10 living Alma Road Reigate Foreign Surrey together with 2 lodgers William Adey age 23 under gardener domestic born Reading Berkshire and Jesse Hawkins aged 24 groom domestic born Nutfield Surrey and a gardener servant Walter Cainfield age 27 born Brighton.

In 1871 UK census Minnie Howarth age 17 months is living North Bruton Mews St. George parish of Hanover Square London with parents James and Eliza Howarth plus her sister Maud E Howarth aged 5 months, her father James is a coachman, we find James Read born abt 1867 Cranfield Bedfordshire his parents are Joel and Ann Read.

The 1939 register tells us that his father Charles J Read was age 69 giving his date of birth as 19th July 1870 and a retired railway engine driver and his wife Minnie aged 70 giving her date of birth as 23rd December 1869 and unpaid household duties and living 46 Rokeby Street Rugby.

His father died in 1946 in Rugby, his mother Minnie in 1954 in Rugby.

Charles George Read’s parents published an announcement in the Rugby Advertiser in 1921. on the anniversary of his death.

In loving memory of Charles George Read, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Read of 46 Rokeby Street, 2nd K.R.R., who was killed in action in France, Dec. 15th 1916, aged 22 years. “Until the day dawn, and the shadows flee away.” – From his loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM