Eyden, Clarence Alfred. Died 18th May 1918

Alfred Eyden and Sarah Eleanor Mewis, the parents of Clarence were married on New Year’s Eve 1889. The Reverend John Murray Rector of St Andrews parish church Rugby, conducted the ceremony, and unusually eight witnesses appear to have witnessed and signed the Register.

Clarence was born on the 4th November 1890. He was baptized at St Andrews parish church Rugby on the 31st December 1890. December was an unusually warm month that year, with the average temperature being four and a half degrees Celsius or forty degrees Fahrenheit. If the day was indeed fairly mild the whole family must have been in good spirits as they walked to church from their home in Clifton Road.

Having qualified for the Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School for boys Clarence was obviously a boy of above average intelligence. The Census for 1911, on which he can be found, reveals that he was twenty years of age and lived at 165, Clifton Road, Rugby. This was most likely a house provided by the London North Western Railway. The other people also in residence were his Grandfather Richard Mewis aged sixty eight, who worked as a Railway engine driver and his wife Sarah, aged seventy, his father Alfred Eyden aged forty nine, Chief Rates Clerk LNWR Rugby, and his wife Sarah, aged forty four. Clarence was next, and worked as an apprentice for the LNWR at Leamington Spa. Maurice, the younger brother of Clarence was aged fourteen and a scholar at Lawrence Sheriff School. Edith Hughes, age eighteen, a general domestic servant, was also living in the house.

Clarence commenced his apprenticeship on May 29th 1905 at Rugby his salary being £20 per annum. From Rugby he moved on to Brandon, Long Buckby and Leamington Spa. His salary in March 1911 was £50 per annum. His employment at Leamington Spa ceased at the end of March, and on April 3rd 1911 he was transferred to the General Manager’s office Euston where he was employed as the private Clerk to the LNWR General Manager.

The family appears to have been musical: on 23 January 1915, at a ‘Concert for soldiers in the Church House’, arranged by the Entertainment Committee of the Conservative Club, songs were given by Mr. Clarence Eyden.  On the next Sunday, 31 January 1915, his mother sang, and was the soloist at a meeting of the Rugby Brotherhood at the Cooperative Hall with the notice, ‘Soldiers heartily welcomed’.[3]

His parents would later move to Northampton, meanwhile, presumably after his concert appearance in early 1915, Clarence joined up in London, as a Sapper, No.88204 in the Royal Engineers.  It was not long before he was sent to France and his Medal Card gives that date as 8 June 1915.  He was later promoted to be an Acting 2nd Corporal, and it was possibly then that he was renumbered, WR/252025 [possibly standing for War Reserve], and with his ten year’s railway experience, it is perhaps not surprising that he became a member of the ‘Railway Traffic [or Transportation] Establishment RE’.

The Establishment for the Railway Traffic Section, R.E. was 25 Officers and 174 Other Ranks.  3 Officers were Deputy Assistant Directors of Railway Traffic and the other 22 Railway Traffic Officers.  The Other Ranks were made up of 1 CSM, 30 Clerks & 56 Checkers (1 Staff Sgt, 4 Sgts & 81 Rank and File), 74 to act as Porters, Goods Guards, Loaders and Train Conductors (1 Sgt with 73 Rank and File).  The remainder of the unit comprised 13 batmen, 4 cooks and 4 men for general duties.[4]

So crucial was transportation that in the last months of the war, despite a shortage of front line soldiers, men with railway experience were being transferred from infantry units to railway operating companies.

Clarence died of wounds, but it is not known when or where he was working when he was wounded.  Because of his burial in St. Omer, he was possibly working in the St. Omer area, dealing with some aspect of railway organisation.

St. Omer had suffered a severe air raid on the night of 18/19 May 1918 when among other damage, a German air raid caused an explosion at an ammunition dump at Arque – some five miles south-east of St. Omer.  Indeed, recovering the wounded took five hours and 18 Military Medals were subsequently awarded to the female medical and transport staff.  On that occasion a number of men from the Chinese Labour Corps were also killed.  ‘A certain number of houses had been hit and some ammunition dumps and petrol stores and part of the railway line, so it was considered the Germans would think they had had a good night.’[5]

Various records state that Clarence both ‘Died in Action’ and ‘Died of Wounds’, however, his Medal Card notes that he ‘Died’ rather than stating ‘KinA’ or ‘DofW’.  This may imply that …

… some time had passed between … being wounded and dying – the next-of-kin were informed that he had ‘died’, rather than ‘died of wounds’.  Exactly how much time had to pass before this distinction was made is not clear.’[6]

From the dates, it is possible that Clarence was one of the casualties of the bombing of St. Omer, possibly when the ‘part of the railway line’ was hit and had reached hospital in St. Omer where he died that night, 18 May 1918, or possibly the following day.[7]  He was 27 year old.

He was buried in Plot: V. B. 9., at the Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery.  On his gravestone his family had arranged to be inscribed: ‘In Proudest Memory of One “Who Greatly Loved, Who Greatly Lived and Died Right Mightily”

St. Omer is 45 kilometres south-east of Calais and the cemetery at Longuenesse is on the southern outskirts of St. Omer.  St. Omer was the General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force from October 1914 to March 1916.  The town was a considerable hospital centre with the 4th, 10th, 7th Canadian, 9th Canadian and New Zealand Stationary Hospitals, the 7th, 58th (Scottish) and 59th (Northern) General Hospitals, and the 17th, 18th and 1st and 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations all stationed there at some time during the war.  St. Omer suffered air raids in November 1917 and May 1918, with serious loss of life.  The cemetery takes its names from the triangular cemetery of the St. Omer garrison, properly called the Souvenir Cemetery (Cimetiere du Souvenir Francais) which is located next to the War Cemetery.

Clarence Alfred EYDEN is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[8] 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, and also the 1914-1915 Star.

His father received his back-pay of £5-11-2d on 16 October 1918 and later his War Gratuity of £15 on 2 December 1919.  Clarences’s parents appear to have left Rugby before 1918, and later in the CWGC record, Clarence is noted as the son of Mr A. Eyden, of 1 St. Pauls Terrace Northampton.

In the year 1921 the following memorial notice appeared in the Rugby Advertiser:
EYDEN. —- To the ever precious memory of Clarence, the dearly beloved and elder son of Alfred and Eleanor Eyden, who fell in the Great War on Whit Sunday, May 18th 1918. —- And the World passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.                                                                                                                                            

Clarence’s younger brother Maurice Eyden also joined up.  Reports in the Rugby Advertiser noted.

October 1916 – Maurice Victor Eyden (O.R), younger son of Mr Alfred Eyden, of Northampton, formerly residing in the Clifton Road, Rugby, has been gazetted 2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment (Steelbacks), after a course of training in the Inns of Court O.T.C.[9]

July 1917 – Second Lieutenant Maurice V Eyden (son of Mr Alfred Eyden), 2nd Northants Regiment, has been promoted to the rank of First-Lieutenant.[10]

July 1918 – Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Eyden, ‘Denaby’, St. Matthew’s Parade, Northampton, have been advised that their younger son, Lieut Maurice V Eyden, 2nd Northants Regiment, reported missing on May 27th, is a prisoner of war in Germany and quite well.  His only brother (Royal Engineers) was killed in France on May 19, 1918’.[11]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Clarence Alfred EYDEN 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, February 2018. Other information by Charles Partington-Tierney

[1]      London and North Western Railway, Salaried staff register [No 2, pages 1613-2092] – Goods Department.

[2]      London and North Western Railway, Salaried staff register [No 2, pages 1613-2092] – Goods Department.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 30 January 1915.

[4]      Ivor Lee, 8 August 2003, http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/4011-railway-transport-establishment/.

[5]      Diary of the Matron in Chief in France and Flanders, TNA, WO95/3990, http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/91.html.

[6]      http://www.epitaphsofthegreatwar.com/killed-in-action/.

[7]      The item on his brother in the Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918, gave the date of Clarence’s death as 19 May 1918 – the day following the bombing of St. Omer.

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

[9]      Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/28th-oct-1916-the-boy-scouts-a-record-of-useful-work/, and Rugby Advertiser, 28 October 1916.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, 14 July 1917, and Rugby Remembers, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/07/14/14th-jul-1917-the-rugby-baking-trade-no-more-men-can-be-spared/.

[11]     Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918.

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Driver, Charles John. Died 31st Dec 1917

Charles John DRIVER, as in the military records – or John Charles DRIVER in civilian life – was born in late 1897, with his birth registered at Rugby in Q1, 1898. He was baptised as John Charles Driver, on 13 February 1898, at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby. He was the first and only child of Reuben Edward Driver [jnr.], b.c.1869 in Market Harborough, a plate layer of 811 Old Station, and Elizabeth Ann née Beers, Driver who had married on 19 April 1897 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby.

It seems that his mother must have died, when she was aged 27, in childbirth, towards the end of December 1897, as her death was registered in Q4 1897.   Indeed, because of the time allowed for registration, her death would have had to be registered within five days, but the birth did not have to be registered for 42 days – hence the birth being registered in Q1, 1898 – the following year.

It seems that John Charles’s paternal grandmother took on the task of rearing her grandson. His father Reuben Edward Driver [jnr] remarried with Georgina née Hinks, in about 1900, and in 1901 they were living elsewhere although near his parents and enumerated at 855 Old Station, together with Georgina’s widowed mother. By 1911, they had been married 11 years, and had moved to live at 811 Newbold Road, Rugby, but had had no children. He had remained a plate layer over this time, latterly at least for the L&NW Railway.

In 1901, the 3 year old John Charles Driver was enumerated with his grandparents, Reuben E. Driver [sen.] and Caroline Driver at 1002 Old Station, Rugby.   Reuben sen. was a ‘Loco Railway Labourer’. In 1911, John Charles was again at that address, with his widowed 71 year old grandmother and a younger cousin, his grandfather having died in early 1909.

John Charles followed in the family ‘tradition’ and went to work for the railway, and when war broke out, he enlisted in September 1914 and was included on … ‘The following … list of men from the Locomotive Department of the L & N-W Railway at Rugby …, J C Driver, …’.[1]

There are no Service Records to indicate where John Charles may have served, but his final posting was in the Royal Flying Corps, where he became No.92241, and promoted to be a 2nd Class Air Mechanic in the 56th Kite Balloon Section.

At the end of 1917, John Charles, and other members of his Kite Balloon Section were posted to the Middle East, and due to arrive at Alexandria.

In March 1915, the base of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was transferred to Alexandria from Mudros and the city became a camp and hospital centre for Commonwealth and French troops. Among the medical units established there were the 17th, 19th, 21st, 78th and 87th General Hospitals and No 5 Indian Hospital. After the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, Alexandria remained an important hospital centre during later operations in Egypt and Palestine and the port was much used by hospital ships and troop transports bringing reinforcements and carrying the sick and wounded out of the theatres of war.

John Charles was travelling on the Mercantile Fleet Auxiliary HT Osmanieh when it was struck by a mine on 31 December 1917, when entering the port of Alexandria. 76 officers and men of the Commonwealth forces were lost.

The ship’s loss was not reported until February 1918,
‘… The Mercantile fleet auxiliary Osmanieh, whose loss, with a large number of lives, in the Eastern Mediterranean on 31 December was officially announced the Admiralty on Wednesday, was the vessel commanded by Lieut-com. D. R. Mason, of Tenby, who lost his life on that occasion.’ [2]

John Charles Driver’s death was also reported in a Coventry newspaper; although it is not yet established what his Coventry connection may have been.
‘Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties, … Missing believed Drowned, … Driver, 92241, 2nd Class Air Mechanic J. C., Coventry, R.F.C. …’ [3]

He is remembered with fellow members of his Kite Balloon Section on the Chatby Memorial, which notes that they were ‘… Drowned at Sea [from H T Osmanieh] …’.

Chatby is a district on the eastern side of the city of Alexandria, Egypt.   The Chatby Memorial stands at the eastern end of the Alexandria (Chatby) War Memorial Cemetery and commemorates almost 1,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First World War and have no other grave but the sea. Many of them were lost when hospital ships or transports were sunk in the Mediterranean, sailing to or from Alexandria. Others died of wounds or sickness while aboard such vessels and were buried at sea. More than 700 of those commemorated on the memorial died when the vessels were torpedoed or mined.

John Charles DRIVER was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and is commemorated – as ‘C J Driver’ – on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM 

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This article on Charles John DRIVER 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, October 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914.

[2]       Western Mail, Friday, 1 February 1918.

[3]       Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 12 February 1918.

Everett, Frederick Stanley. Died 16th Dec 1917

Frederick Stanley EVERETT was born in 1897 in Daventry, the son of Charles Frederick (born 1869, Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire) and his wife, Edith Annie, née Wall, Everett who were married on 18 July 1895 in Daventry, Northamptonshire. They moved to Narborough in Leicestershire in about 1899 for two or so years, before moving to Rugby at some date before 1901.

In 1901, the family were living at 118 Abbey Street, Rugby, and in 1911 the family were at 42 Claremont Road Rugby, a six room house. Frederick now had six younger siblings and was working as a ‘junior railway clerk’. His father was also a ‘railway clerk’.

Frederick attended the Murray School and in 1909 was highly commended in a competition to make a model dog kennel,[1] and in 1910 when in Form ‘St. VII’ received an Attendance Prize.[2] ‘He was at one time a teacher in the Murray Sunday School and secretary of St Andrew’s Guild Cricket Club. He was also a member of St Peter’s Church Choir, …’[3]

Frederick had been employed as a Goods Clerk by the L & N-W Railway Company at Berkswell and Hampton.[4]

He joined up when he was aged 18 in January 1916,[5] into the Army Service Corps as No.DN2/155017. When he went abroad is unknown, but it was probably after training, later in 1916. He went to Mesopotania and was part of the 971st MT [Motor Transport] Company.   At some date he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

In 1914, Baghdad had been the headquarters of the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. It was the ultimate objective of the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D’ and the goal of the force besieged and captured at Kut in 1916. On 11 March 1917, the British entered Baghdad … The British Indian Army played a significant role … but the position was not fully consolidated until the end of April.

Amidst the confusion of the retreat a large part of the Ottoman army (some 15,000 soldiers) was captured.[6] Given the continually depressing news in France and elsewhere, this was a significant and newsworthy achievement. British forces (and Russians, advancing from the north and east) closed in on the Turks throughout the autumn of 1917.[7]  Baghdad became the Expeditionary Force’s advanced base, with two stationary hospitals and three casualty clearing stations.

By 18 November 1917, the distribution of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Corps,[8] suggested that the No.971 Mechanical Transport Company was equipped with Ford vans and was on the Tigris Front and they were in the Basra or Baghdad Garrison as Army Troops in the 18th Division which had just begun to be formed, although the bulk of the units (most of which were to come from India) had not yet arrived in Mesopotamia on that date.

The supply lines had become overlong and General Maude had died of cholera on 18 November 1917. He was replaced by General William Marshall who halted operations for the winter.

‘… conditions in Mesopotamia defy description.   Extremes of temperature (120 degrees F was common); arid desert and regular flooding; flies, mosquitoes and other vermin: all led to appalling levels of sickness and death through disease.   Under these incredible conditions, units fell short of officers and men, and all too often the reinforcements were half-trained and ill-equipped. Medical arrangements were quite shocking, with wounded men spending up to two weeks on boats before reaching any kind of hospital. These factors, plus of course the unexpectedly determined Turkish resistance, contributed to high casualty rates. …’[9]

11012 killed,
3985 died of wounds,
12678 died of sickness,
13492 missing and prisoners (9000 at Kut),
51836 wounded.’[10]

Frederick Everett died on 16 December 1917, aged 21. He was one of the very many who ‘Died of Sickness’ in the base hospital at Basra. He was buried in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery in Plot III. G. 11. His gravestone bears the wording, ‘Father in Thy Gracious Keeping, Leave we now our Dear One Sleeping’. 

Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery is today located in a very sensitive area in the Waziriah Area of the Al-Russafa district of Baghdad. … The North Gate Cemetery was begun in April 1917 and has been greatly enlarged since the end of the First World War by graves brought in from other burial grounds in Baghdad and northern Iraq, and from battlefields and cemeteries in Anatolia where Commonwealth prisoners of war were buried by the Turks.[11]

When news of his death reached Rugby in December 1917, after the service at St Peter’s church on Sunday evening ‘… the ‘Dead March’ in Saul was played to honour his memory.’[12]

Frederick Stanley EVERETT was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick Stanley Everett 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, October

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 6 November 1909.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 November 1910.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917.

[4]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917; also info. given in Birmingham Daily Post, Friday, 28 December 1917.

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917; also info. given in Birmingham Daily Post, Friday, 28 December 1917.

[6]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesopotamian_campaign.

[7]         http://www.1914-1918.net/mespot.htm.

[8]         http://www.314th.org/Nafziger-Collection-of-Orders-of-Battle/917BKMA.pdf.

[9]         http://www.1914-1918.net/mespot.htm.

[10]     Data from ‘Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire’, London: HMSO, 1920.

[11]         https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/57303/baghdad-(north-gate)-war-cemetery/.

[12]     Rugby Advertiser, 29 December 1917.

Meadows, Charles Herbert. Died 4th Sep 1917

Charles Herbert Meadows was born in Bilton and baptised in the parish church on 9th August 1891. His parents were Henry and Emma (nee Quincey) Meadows, who had moved to Inwood Cottage a couple of years before. Henry Meadows was born in Brigstock, Northants and married Emma there in 1888. Emma was born in Fotheringay, Northants.

Henry was a Waggoner/Horse keeper on a farm and in the 1911 census Charles was working as a Cowman on farm. His two elder brothers, Henry George and John Thomas were farm labourers.

John signed up at the start of the war and in October 1914 a letter from him was published in the Rugby Advertiser:

MAINTAINING BRITISH TRADITIONS.
Private J T Meadows, of the 1st Northampton Regiment , now serving in France (whose home is at Inwood’s Cottages, near Bilton Grange), has written stating that he is in the pink of condition. He adds : “ Times are getting better now, as you know that we are progressing favourably. The travels of the troops have been great, but the duty has been well done. The high traditions of the British Army are still maintained by the sons of many an anxious mother. Time will prove this. I suppose George and Herbert are still hard at work. Never mind ; one wing of the family is flying along. The weather is terribly hot in the day-time, but at night it is the extreme reverse ; but all these little hardships we look upon as nothing when such a prize is at stake. Four of us from Rugby are still all together.”

By November, news was received that he had been injured. He was discharged on 2nd April 1916.

Charles Herbert signed up on 1st November 1915. At the time he was employed in the Telegraph Department at Rugby Station for the L & N-W railway.

He joined the Royal Field Artillery as a gunner. He would have taken part in various actions during 1916, including the Battle of the Somme. By the middle of 1917, he would have been involved in the preparations for the Battle of Pilckem Ridge – the start of the third Battle of Ypres.

On the 20th July 1917 he was seriously wounded by a gunshot wound in the back and his parents were informed that he was lying at a casualty clearing station in France.

He died on 4th September, in a hospital near Rouen and buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen., where the dead from the many hospitals in the area were buried.

As well as the Rugby Memorial Gates, he is listed on the Bilton War Memorial, as H Meadows.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Watts, John Sidney George. Died 30th Jul 1917

John Sidney George WATTS was born in 1896 in Rugby and registered in the last quarter of that year as Sidney George Watts. He was the middle of the five sons of Albert Edward Watts and his wife Annie Elizabeth (née Bailey). His father, Albert, was born in Newbold and worked as a railway engine stoker on the L & N W railway.

In 1901, he was four years old and enumerated as John S G Watts. His family was living in Old Station Square, Rugby. By 1911 they had moved to 38 Dale Street, Rugby. He was now 14 and enumerated as ‘Sidney George Watts’ and was working as a grocer’s errand boy.

Henry’s Service Records do not survive so little is known of his Service Career. It is not known when he joined up, although he enlisted at Rugby,[1] probably later in 1915, as he did not receive the 1915 Star, and thus there was no embarkation date on his Medal Card. He would not have been 18 years old until just before 1915.

He joined up as a Private, No.28015 in the 10th (Service) Battalion (Bn.) of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWarR). 

The 10th (Service) Battalion was formed in Warwick in August 1914 as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Salisbury Plain and joined the 57th Brigade of the 19th Division. In March 1915 they moved to Tidworth.

On 17 July 1915 they mobilised for war and landed in France and the Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front. In 1915: the Action of Pietre; in 1916: the Battle of Albert; the attacks on High Wood; the Battle of Pozieres Ridge; the Battle of the Ancre Heights and the Battle of the Ancre. John would have joined with a draft of reinforcements and was possibly involved in some of these but more probably was in action in 1917 in the Battle of Messines. The Battalion would be later involved in the various actions of the Third Battle of Ypres which started on 31 July 1917.

John was probably wounded during the various aftermaths of the Battle of Messines (7-14 June 1917) and during the preparations for the Third Battle of Ypres, probably during the few days before that battle.

The reports in the 10th Battalion War Diary,[2] for the weeks before John’s death, provides the following summary of information:

On 10 July 1917 the Battalion which had been in reserve, was relieved and for a period in mid-July formed working parties until 17 July when further training started. On 19 July there was an inspection by the GOC of 57th Brigade. On 20 July one OR [Other Rank] was wounded during training. At night on 22 July, the Battalion relieved the 7th Bn., Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in the trenches at Roozebeek, Delbske Farm and Denys Wood. They remained in the trenches until relieved on 29 July 1917 when they returned to hutments at Butterfly Farm – the Butterfly was the symbol of the 57th Brigade. During this period of seven days in the trenches, the Battalion was subjected to intermittent shelling, a fairly ineffective gas attacks and particularly heavy shelling on 28 July. There were continuing casualties with ORs killed and/or wounded each day: 23 July – 4 wounded; 24 July – 2 killed, 3 wounded; 25 July – 3 killed, 4 wounded; 26 July – 1 killed, 10 wounded; 27 July – 1 killed, 6 wounded; 28 July – 1 killed, 4 wounded; 29 July – 3 wounded.

During that week of comparative ‘routine’ in the trenches, 34 men were wounded – one of these was probably John Watts – unless he had been wounded some time before, but in that case he would probably have already been evacuated to a hospital further west or even back to England.

He was probably evacuated to an aid post and then through the field ambulance system back to the Convent of St. Antoine in Locre, some 10kms west of the Oosttaverne area, where he had been in action, and some 10kms south-west of Ieper [Ypres]. He was probably at the Convent when he died of his wounds on 30 July 1917.

He was buried in Grave Ref: I. B. 9. in the adjacent Locre (now Loker) Hospice Cemetery. This was in Allied hands during the greater part of the war, and field ambulances were stationed in the Convent of St. Antoine. The Hospice Cemetery was begun in June 1917 by field ambulances and fighting units and was used until April 1918.

John Sidney Watts was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road.

Two payments were made to his mother, Annie Elizabeth, as sole legatee: £15-12-2d owing in back pay on 22 October 1917 and a War Gratuity of £14-0-0d on 4 November 1919.

John Sidney Watts’ brother, Albert Edward Joseph Watts (below left), was also killed in the War. His biography was published in Rugby Remembers on 26 August 1914.[3] He had joined up very early in the war and went to France on 22 August with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and was killed four days later on 26 August in the Battle of Le Cateau and buried in Fontaine-Au-Pire Communal Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave No. 3.

There is a story in the family that Albert and John’s mother wore a Royal Warwickshire tie brooch for the rest of her life.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on John Sidney WATTS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson with additional material, particularly on his brother, Albert Watts, from Catherine Corley and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       As detailed in Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[2]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Piece 2085/3, 10 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, July 1915-March 1919.

[3]       https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/watts-albert-edward-joseph-died-26-aug-1914/

Cleaver, William Thomas. Died 24th Apr 1917

William Thomas Cleaver was born in late 1885 and baptised at St Andrews Church Rugby on 9th May 1886. His parents were Joseph and Fanny (nee Wright) who had married there on 4th Mar 1884. Joseph was a fireman/driver on the railway and the family lived at 23 East Street, Rugby.

In 1901 William was aged 15 and a billiard marker, but by 1911 he had joined his father working for L & NW railway as a railway servant.

He joined the 2nd/6th Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (Private no. 242260) in June 1916.

In April 1917 the Battalion was involved in the Second Battle of the Aisne, a Franco-British attempt to inflict a decisive defeat on the German armies in France. The objective of the attack was to capture the prominent 80-kilometre-long (50 mi), east–west ridge of the Chemin des Dames, 110 kilometres (68 mi) north-east of Paris, and then attack northwards to capture the city of Laon. When the French armies met the British advancing from the Arras front, the Germans would be pursued towards Belgium and the German frontier. The offensive met massed German machine-gun and artillery fire, which inflicted many casualties and repulsed the French infantry at many points. The French still achieved some substantial tactical successes and took c. 29,000 prisoners in their attacks on the Chemin des Dames and in Champagne but failed to achieve their strategic objective of a decisive defeat over the Germans.

On the 20th April, the 2nd/6th Bn RWR marched from Ugny to Savy.

War Diary of 2nd/6th RWR

SAVY  20.4.17             Battn marched to Savy and became reserve battn to 14th Inf Bde. 10. R. sent to Cooking(?) Class. CO & Company commanders reconnorted line.

21.4.17            Battn rested and CO and Company commanders visited line again.

22.4.17            Battn relieved 2nd Battn Manchester Regt taking over the line from S27 central to S15. d.1.5 (62 B SW) – 184th Inf Bde on our left.

BROWN Line S2 Section
23.4.17            Everything normal during the day – enemy shelled back areas. Battn relieved of part of the line – now holding line from S.21.b.5.0 to S.15.d.1.5 – 2/7th R WAR R relieved battn

Outpost Line
24.4.17            Battn relieved 2/8th Bn R.WAR.R in outpost  line taking over from S6 central to S23. b 9.5 French Army on our right and 184 Inf Bde on our left

The Battalion continued like this until the middle of May when they moved on to Beauvois. No mention is made of casualties, but a report in The Rugby Advertiser on 5th May 1917 states:
Mr Joseph Cleaver, of 17 East Street, Rugby, has received a letter from a chaplain informing him of the death of his eldest so, Pte William Thomas Cleaver, of the Royal Warwicks, which took place in a field ambulance in France on April 24th as the result of severe wounds caused by a shell the previous day. Pte Cleaver, who was 31 years of age, joined up in June last. He was employed on the L. & N-W Railway at Rugby for several years.

William Thomas Cleaver was buried at Foreste Communal Cemetery, situated approximately 14 kilometres west of St. Quentin and approximately 9 kilometres north of Ham. This cemetery was used by the 92nd Field Ambulance in April 1917. The village fell into German hands in the summer of 1918.

The cemetery contains 117 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 22 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials are erected to 23 casualties buried by the Germans whose grave cannot be traced.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Pywell, Frederick William. Died 10th Apr 1917

Frederick William Pywell was born in Rugby in 1885 and was baptised in St Matthews Church on 31 May. His parents were Edmund and Sarah (nee Gamble) and Edmund’s occupation was farmer. When they married, in Coventry, on 19th Feb 1881, Edmund was a cab driver from Saddington, Leics and Sarah was a carrier’s daughter from Harborough Magna.

The family soon settled in James Street, Rugby where Edmund was a domestic groom. In 1901, at the age of 16 Frederick was working as a domestic page. Sarah died in 1902 and sometime after that Edmund joined the London and North Western Railway. In 1911 his occupation was Dining Car Attendant and he was lodging in Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town. Two years later he married Ellen Lavinia Flewitt (or Flawith) and they had a son Frederick Richard Pywell in 1914.

Frederick William Pywell joined the 21st Bn, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment. (Serjeant, No. G/15761). This regiment was formed in July 1915 and landed in France in June 1916. They were involved in action on the Western Front including The Battle of the Ancre in 1916. And in 1917, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March) and the capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich, Beaucamp and La Vacquerie (April and early May)

At the start of April 1917 the 21st Regt was employed in mending the Moislains – Nurlu Road. After a day’s rest on the 3rd spent in inspections, bathing and foot treatment, the 4th was spent on the Bouchauednes- Clery road.

On the 5th the whole Battalion was moved to Etricourt and orders were received to take over the front line (Gouzeaucourt Wood). This was done on the 6th and the 7th was quiet with intermittent hostile shelling. They worked on the trenches.

At 6.30 the following morning the enemy opened a “Heavy and accurate barrage on the trenches occupied by B Coy. This continued throughout the day at intervals causing heavy casualties.” At dusk the company dug in new position 100 yards in rear. “Orders received for operation to take place on 9th.” The front line was readjusted.

War Diaries 21st Middlesex Rgt
April 9: At 3.00 pm 2 platoons of C Coy with 1 platoon of D as carrying party went over under moderate barrage. Objective 1 Cross Roads Q.23.c Objective II Cross Roads Q.23.a First Objective was reached with slight opposition at 3.21 pm. Consolidation commenced and one platoon under F S BRYAN proceeded towards second objective soon after coming under fire from three M.G.s causing several casualties. Our artillery failed to locate the guns. The platoon dug in and several attempts were made to reach the cross roads by patrolling round.

4.30 pm Our party of 8 under 2/lieut BRYAN actually reached the road but were wiped out except Lieut BRYAN.

Enemy shelling considerably increased causing many casualties

B Coy on left and A Coy on right had by this time covered the flanks by patrols.

5.10 Patrol of A Coy with Lewis Gun sent to assistance of a patrol of 13th B Yorks which had been heavily engaged by enemy.

5.30 Situation quiet

6.45 New position counter attacked on both flanks. Both L.G.s were out of action and casualties amounted to about 40. Another platoon on D sent up and a local counter attack under Capt Laidlaw which threatened to outflank the enemy caused them to retire.

7.00 Night quiet except for intermittent artillery & M.G. fire.

Line eventually established approximately Q.29b.1.2, Q29.a.8.6. Cross Road Q.23.c, Q.22.b 65-10. Q.22.a.5.1, Q.22.a.2.9. this giving a commanding position on high ground commanding Cross Road Q.23.a.

Communication with Artillery, Right Left Battalions and Battn HQ good.

Communication with Brigade only moderate owing to breaks in the wire. Touch kept through the Artillery.

Casualties
26 other ranks killed,
38 other ranks wounded,
1 wounded and missing *

April 10 Quiet day, Battalion relieved by 20th Bn Middlesex Rgt commencing at 8.30 pm The Corps Division and Brigade Commander send their congratulations on result of the operation of 9th.

* One body since discovered and buried unidentified assumed to be that of missing man 30.4.17

Frederick William Pywell is recorded as dying on 10th April 1917. It is not known if he is the unidentified body, but since his grave is not known, this may be him.

He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM