Bland, Reginald George. Died 4th Jun 1918

Reginald George Bland’s birth was registered in Q4, 1899, in Rugby (6d, 592).  He was the son of William Bland, b.1864 in Knighton, and Ellen, née Cross, Bland, b.1871, in Southam, who were married in Stockton on 7 September 1893.

The family lived at 1 Pinders Lane, Rugby, where William senior was a Cab Driver.  For the 1901 census, still at the same address in Pinders Lane, Reginald was the youngest of four children: Rosetta J Bland, 5; William A Bland, 4; Charles H Bland, 2; and Reginald Bland, 1, and his father was a ‘cabman and groom’.  By 1911, with his father still a cab driver, there were now four more children.  Charles was 12 and still at school, and then or later attended the Elborow school,[1] as did his elder brother Charles H Bland.[2]

It seems that Reginald later worked at B.T.H., as he appears on their War Memorial.  At some date, probably in later 1917, Reginald George Bland enlisted in Rugby[3] as Private, No. 62584, and was at least latterly in the 16th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers.

The 16th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers (the 2nd Salford Pals Battalion) was raised on 5 (or 15) November 1914 in Salford, by Mr Montague Barlow MP and the Salford Brigade Committee.  They began training near home and on the 28 December 1914 they moved to Conway for training. They became part of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division and moved in May 1915 to concentrate in Shropshire at Prees Heath.  The camp was found to be too wet for training and the Division moved on 21 June 1915 to Catterick in North Yorkshire, using the firing ranges at Strenshall.  In August 1915 they moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.  The Battalion went to France, landing at Boulogne on 22 November 1915.  Their first taste of action was at Thiepval Ridge on the Somme on the 1 July 1916, the battle resulted in the Salford Pals being almost wiped out.  The battalion was reinforced and saw action throughout the war.

Reginald’s Medal Card gives no date when he either joined up or when he went to France – it was presumably after training in UK, and when he was 18 years old in later 1917 – unless he had given a false age!  He was probably part of one of the reinforcements and but was probably not involved in 1917 when the Battalion was involved in Operations on the Ancre and later in the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917.  In 1918, by which date Reginald may have been in France, the Battalion was in action on the Somme and later in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line and the Final Advance in Picardy

The Battalion War Diary is located within the 96th Infantry Brigade Documents.[4]

In April 1918, the Battalion was located about 5 miles south of Arras.  After training in early May, on 11 May, ‘The Battalion relieved the 17th R.F.s. and proceeded into the line at BOIXLEUX AU MONT, one wounded.’  They were there until 20 May when they were relieved by the 2nd Manchesters and went into reserve at BLAIREVILLE, with one wounded.

Whilst in Reserve they had one killed and 17 wounded and they then went back into the trenches on 25 May, after relieving the 15th Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, when three more men were killed and 19 wounded.  They were relieved in turn by the 2nd Manchesters on 31 May, by which date, another man had been killed and 11 more wounded.

At the start of June 1918, the Battalion were back at Blaireville in reserve, and suffered no casualties for three days.  However, on 4 June 1918, ‘The Battalion relieves the 15th LANS. FUS. ‘C’ & ‘D’ Coys. in Line.’.  Whilst taking over in the trenches that day they suffered ‘4 killed and 7 wounded’.

Reginald was one of those who were ‘Killed in Action’ on 4 June 1918, presumably when in, or taking over, the front line trenches at BOIXLEUX AU MONT.  He was only 19 years old.

He was originally buried in a small cemetery, the Blairville Orchard Cemetery [Map Ref: 51c.X.4.d.2.9.] in Plot 2, Row B, Grave 9., presumably just behind the lines and indeed where they had been when in reserve.

In 1923, this small cemetery was ‘cleared’ and the bodies were ‘concentrated’, i.e. exhumed and moved to a larger cemetery where the graves could be properly tended.  He was recovered and  reburied by ‘Local Labour under the supervision of Mr. R. Stiles, ARO’.  His identification was confirmed by the original Cross at the smaller cemetery and by his clothing.  He was reburied in Plot: VIII. M. 22., in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez.  His family did not request any personal inscription on his gravestone.

The Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery is situated between two war cemeteries, one French and the other German, south of the town of Souchez in France.  Cabaret Rouge was a small café, its brick building with red tiles was distinctive in the village where most of the houses were thatched.  It stood less than a mile south of Souchez and was destroyed by heavy shelling in May 1915.

Commonwealth soldiers began burying their fallen comrades there in March 1916.  The cemetery was used mostly by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Corps until August 1917 and by different fighting units until September 1918.  It was greatly enlarged in the years after the war when as many as 7,000 graves were concentrated here [including as noted above, that of Reginald George Bland in 1923] from more than 100 other cemeteries in the area.  For much of the twentieth century, Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery served as one of a small number of ‘open cemeteries’ at which the remains of fallen servicemen newly discovered in the region were buried.  The Canadian ‘unknown soldier’ was selected from those in this cemetery, and many Canadians from the Battles at Vimy Ridge were buried here.

Later in June, the Rugby Advertiser recorded,
‘Mr and Mrs Bland have received news from the War Office that their son private R G Bland of the Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action on June 4th.  Also a letter from the Chaplain to say he had buried him in one of the Military cemeteries and the Battalion had erected a cross to his memory.  He was 18 years of age and an Elborow old boy.’[5]

Rugby Directories for 1919 list William Bland a labourer of 1 Pinders Lane.  In the 1922 directory Mrs Bland is listed at the same address, William having died about March 1920 aged 56.

Reginald George Bland was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the BTH War Memorial.[6]

Two of Reginald’s brothers also served

His eldest brother, William Arthur Bland was recorded as working at BTH, and then serving.  He enlisted under Lord Derby’s scheme, ‘Enlistments at Rugby under Lord Derby’s Scheme in December 1915.  ‘The following additional men have enlisted at Rugby under the Group System in connection with Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme.  Single Men.  Bland, Wm Arthur, 1 Pinders Lane, Rugby.’[7]  He survived the War and later married and was working as a Crane Driver in 1939.

His elder brother Charles H Bland served and was ‘Killed in Action’ on 1 July 1916, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme,[8] – see here.  His death was later recorded in the Rugby Advertiser in September.[9]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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Some information for this article on Reginald George Bland was initially provided for this Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Peter Davies, and further details were added as they became ‘findable’ by searching on-line by John P H Frearson.  The article is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, May 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 22 June 1918.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 23 September 1916, and see also .

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

[4]      The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 32nd Division, Piece 2397: 96 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919) – also available on www.Ancestry.co.uk.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, 22 June 1918.

[6]      The list of names on the BTH War Memorial is taken from the list in the Rugby Advertiser dated 4 November 1921.

[7]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/4th-dec1915-lord-derbys-scheme-part-2/.; also in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 December 1915.

[8]      Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/bland-charles-henry-died-1st-jul-1916/ .

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, 23 September 1916.

Wolfe, Sidney George. Died 22nd Oct 1917

Sidney George WOLFE was born in Rugby on 14 February 1890.  He was the son of George James Wolfe, an Engine Fireman, who was born in Shakerstone, Staffordshire, in about 1869, and Julie Mary (née Wing) Wolfe, who was born in Stretton-on-Dunsmore in the same year and whose marriage was registered in Rugby in 1889.

Sidney’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1890 and he was baptised on 28 March 1890 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby.

In 1891 the family was living at 854 Old Station Square,[1] Rugby and they had a lodger, Walter Wing, an engine cleaner, who was Julie’s younger brother.

In 1901 the family had moved, or had possibly been renumbered, and was living at 809 Old Station Square, Rugby.  George J Wolfe was still a Loco Fireman, and that night they were putting up a two year old nephew, Raymond Wing.

In September 1902 at a Church Army tea and presentation, the young Sidney Wolfe gave a recitation which was encored,[2] then in July 1903 at the Cycling Club fete and sports, Sidney appeared in fancy dress as a footman.[3]  At the Elborow School concert and prize-giving in November 1903, Sidney obtained a ‘Drawing Certificate’ and also gave a recitation ‘The Amateur Photographer’ with E White.[4]

Sidney was ‘… successively a pupil, student teacher, and assistant master at Elborow School’, Rugby and was a ‘well-known Rugby, Coventry, and Midland Counties footballer … and was selected to play for the Midland Counties against the South Africans’.[5]

One source mentioned that he attended Saltley College – this was St Peter’s College, a teacher training establishment located in Saltley, Birmingham.  His name does indeed appear on their War Memorial.[6]

Between 1901 and 1911, Sidney’s parents moved to Coventry, and then in the third quarter of 1914, Sidney married Nellie May Smith, a blacksmith’s daughter, at Warwick.  She had been born on 12 May 1889 and baptised at St Paul’s Warwick on 2 March 1890.

It may be that Sidney and his wife also moved to Coventry before the war, as their two children were both born in Coventry: Roland Vernon, on 1 May 1916, and registered in Q2 1916 [6d, 1445], and Iris Madge, on 1 November 1917, and registered in Q4 1917 [6d, 1111].

It seems that he had moved on from Rugby to teach at Bablake School, Coventry as there is a large wooden memorial board in the school hall, dedicated to the 700 former pupils who served, and the 96 who died in the war.  The latter list of names includes Lieutenant Sidney George Wolfe.[7]

It is uncertain exactly when Sidney ‘joined up’, but he was initially in the South Midlands Divisional Cycling Company (Army Cyclist Corps).  All of the ‘new army’ divisions raised under Lord Kitchener’s instructions in 1914 included a cyclist company.  The primary roles of the cyclists were in reconnaissance and communications.  They were armed as infantry and could provide mobile firepower.  The units which went overseas during WW1 continued in these roles, but also carried out trench-holding duties and manual work.[8]

2nd Lt. S G Wolfe, Apr 1916

Sidney is pictured (left) in his uniform with the cap badge featuring the sphinx and ‘Egypt’ on the livesofthefirstworldwar.org website.[9]

Sidney’s Medal Roll Card shows that he went to France on 31 March 1915 and it was probably in France that he was promoted to Sergeant.  He seems to have proved to be a capable leader and ‘… after eighteen months service in the trenches …’,[10] he was commissioned on 30 April 1916 and transferred to the 18th Battalion of the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers as a Lieutenant.

The 18th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers (2nd South-East Lancashire) was originally a ‘Bantam’ Battalion, with men who did not reach the normal height requirements.  The Battalion joined the 104th Brigade of the 35th Division and went to France, landing at Le Havre on 29 January 1916.

Sidney would have joined the Battalion at some date after the end of April, when the 18th Battalion was at Croix Barbee, relieving the 17th Battalion.

In May 1916 when he had ‘… only been with his new unit a week when he was caught by a German machine gun while he was helping to repair barbed wire entanglements in front of the firing line.  … He received two wounds in the neck and one in the face.’[11]

The Rugby Advertiser reported that he had been wounded,

WELL-KNOWN FOOTBALLER WOUNDED
Lieut S G Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, the well-known Rugby, Coventry, and Midland Counties footballer, has been wounded at the front.  Lieut Wolfe gained a commission after eighteen months’ service in the trenches, and he had only been with his new unit a week when he was caught by a German machine gun while he was helping to repair barbed wire entanglements in front of the firing line.  The nature of his injuries are not known locally except that he received two wounds in the neck and one in the face.  Lieut Wolfe was successively a pupil, student teacher, and assistant master at Elborow School, and was selected to play for the Midland Counties against the South Africans.[12]

However, no mention has been found in the Battalion War Diary either of him joining the Battalion or being wounded.

The Battalion does not seem to have been involved with the initial actions on the Somme, but in mid-July they were in Trones Wood and Maltz Horn Farm trench in the Somme area.  By September 1916 they had moved to the Arras area and were there or in nearby trenches until the end of 1916.  In June 1917 the Battalion was at Villers-Guislain near Cambrai.  At the beginning of October 1917 the Battalion were training at Avesnes-le-Compte, and in the middle of the month moved to Proven and then Boisinghe.  On 20 October the Battalion prepared for an attack and bivouacked between Broombeek and Steenbeek, and on 21 October they prepared for the attack and moved off at 10.20pm.

The attack on 22 October 1917 is described in four pages of the Battalion Diary.  The Battalion formed up at 2.30am, and zero hour was at 5.35am and they moved forward close to the barrage, which was ragged and too slow and caused several casualties.  They encountered heavy machine gun fire, and later in the afternoon had to repulse a German counter attack which was done successfully.

That day, three officers were killed, including Lt. S G Wolfe, and 27 Other Ranks (ORs); one officer and 42 ORs were wounded and missing; and seven officers and 174 ORs were wounded.

‘He was leading a company into action and was unfortunately killed during the advance.  He had scarcely advanced more than 75 yards when an enemy shell fell close and he was killed instantaneously.’[13]

Lieutenant Sidney George WOLFE, 18th Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in action on 22 October 1917.[14]

His body was either not recovered or not identified.  Sidney is remembered on one of the Panels 54 to 60 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.

The birth of his daughter was recorded in the same column of the newspaper[15] as notice of his death.

BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, AND DEATHS. 

BIRTH.  Wolfe. – On November 1st, at Earlsdon to the wife of the late Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, a daughter.

DEATHS. Wolfe. – Killed in Action. Oct. 22nd, Lieut. S. G. Wolfe, of the Lancashire Fusiliers, aged 27 years.  Leaves a wife and two children.

The dates of his two children’s births would suggest, naturally, that he must have been in UK in Coventry some nine months earlier than both occasions – in say August 1915 which was after he had gone to France and in February 1917 by which date he should have recovered from his wounds and have been back in France.  It would seem that as an officer he was able to get UK leave.

As well as at Tyne Cot, Sidney is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby, and he is also remembered on the St Peter’s College, Coventry Memorial Tablet,[16]  and also on the Bablake School Memorial in Coundon Road, Coventry.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and also the 1915 Star.  His Medal Card and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, confirm that he was ‘Killed in Action’ on 22 October 1917.  His widow is recorded as Mrs S G Wolfe, who at that later date, lived at 55 Berkeley Road Earlsdon, Coventry.  In the local newspaper on 1 November 1917 she and his parents placed an advertisement.[17]

THANKS – Mr and Mrs Wolfe and daughter, 45, Berkeley Road, Earlsdon, wish to thank all friends for their kind expressions of sympathy in their sad loss.

An ‘In Memoriam’ was published on the anniversary of his death.

WOLFE. – Killed in action in France on October 22, 1917, S. G. WOLFE (Lieut.), dearly beloved eldest grandson of Mr. & Mrs. W. Wolfe, 127 Newbold Road.
“Not dead to us, we love him still ;
Not lost, but gone before.
He lives with us in memory still,
And will for evermore.”
– From Grandma, Grandpap, Aunts and Uncles.[18]

His formal address when probate was awarded on 15 January 1918 at Birmingham was 157 Westwood Road, Coventry and probate awarded to his widow, Nellie Maud Wolfe, was in the sum of £101-10-6d.

 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Sidney George WOLFE was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © Anne Rogers, John P H Frearson and the RFHG, October 2017.

Information about Elborow School Career is © Howard Trillo

 

[1]      Industrial Housing in Rugby – L.N.W.R. Railways – To operate and maintain a railway requires people to work at places spread all along the line, often far from existing settlements. At places where stations are built accommodation for many staff are needed from opening day.  People had to live within walking distance of work, and it was useful to the railway to be able to get hold of staff if something unexpected happened.  By providing houses for their staff, the railway solved all these problems and the London and Birmingham Railway built several hundred houses along the line for the opening.  The houses were each given a number and the earliest in Rugby were in the 700’s.  They were all near the new station in Newbold Road, on the west side both north and south of the railway.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 13 September 1902.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 4 July 1903.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 November 1903.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, 27 May 1916.

[6]      http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/names/listing/52012?page=7, St Peters College Memorial Tablet No 2, War Memorials reference: 52012, http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/names/listing/52012?page=7.

[7]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/54635-2000-files-in-passchendaele-archives/, from ‘tharkin56’, 22 August 2007.

[8]      Chris Baker, at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/100720.

[9]      https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/4842770 – connected by George Coppock.

[10]     In fact he had only been in France for eleven months, so this may be his length of service, suggesting that he joined up in September 1914.

[11]     Rugby Advertiser, 27 May 1916.

[12]     Rugby Advertiser, 27 May 1916.

[13]     https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/4842770.

[14]     Global, Find A Grave Index for Non-Burials, Burials at Sea, and other Select Burial Locations.

[15]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 2 November 1917.

[16]     Following the closure of the college, the two WWI memorial tablets have been moved from St Peter’s College to St Saviour’s Church, St Saviour’s Road, Saltley, Birmingham  B8 1HW.

[17]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Thursday, 1 November 1917.

[18]     Rugby Advertiser, 19 October 1918.

Dunkley, Percy John. Died 25th Jul 1916

Percy John Dunkley was born in Newbold upon Avon in 1889. His parents were William and (Mary Elizabeth nee Neale) Dunkley. In the 1911 census they had been married for 35 years with 12 children born alive one subsequently died.

Percy was the 5th child aged 22 born in Newbold and was a general labourer. Harry’s father William, a bricklayer, was born in Thurlaston They were living at 167 Abbey Street, but later that year they moved to 15 Chester Street.

On 9 Sept 1916, the Rugby Advertiser published the following article:

“A Fighting Family” Fewer families have a better war record than that of Mr and Mrs Dunkley of 15 Chester Street, Rugby. There are five sons in the army including two have been reported missing for sometime past. William Albert, the eldest is in the Kings Royal Rifles, and he has a son serving with him in Salonica. Walter Ernest has served his time with the Royal Warwicks and has just rejoined the army from regiment. Harry, who joined the Royal Warwicks has been missing since July 30th and Percy John of the Lancashire Fusiliers has been missing since July 25th. The fifth son Arthur Rowland is serving with the Labour Battallion. A sixth member of the same family (Alfred Thos Dunkley) has been discharged from the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry on medical grounds and is now employed in a Controlled factory. Mrs Dunkley has two brothers serving in France and two of her nephews are in the army.”

We can assume that the P J Dunkley on the Rugby memorial gates is the missing Percy John of the Lancashire Fusiliers. However there is no mention of Percy John Dunkley on the CWGC site. There is a private Alfred Dunkley, 16330, 20th Bn, Lancashire Fusiliers who died on 25 Jul 1916.

The medal Roll index has private Percy John Dunkley, 16530 of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

The medal roll for the Lancashire Fusiliers lists Percy John Dunkley, 16530 as eligible for the Victory and British War medals.

The Army Registers of Soldiers Effects lists Percy John Dunkley, 16530, death presumed on 25 Jul 1916. His next of Kin is his mother, Elizabeth.

In the database “Soldiers who died in the Great War” Alfred Dunkley enlisted, in Rugby, as a private in the Lancashire Fusiliers. With a regimental number of 16530 he died on 25 Jul 1916.

Presumably Percy John enlisted as Alfred and died under that name on 25th Jul 1916.

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial as A Dunckley and Rugby Memorial Gates as P J Dunkley.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM