Stay, Arthur George. Died 21st Sep 1917

Arthur George STAY was born in Rugby in late 1883 or early 1884, his birth being registered there in the 4th Quarter of 1883.

He was the eldest of three sons of Stephen Stay [born in Longham; whose birth was registered in Q1, 1853 at Wimborne 5a, 284], and his wife, Mary Ann, née Hartnell [b.c.1854, Trull, Taunton]. They had married at Trull, Taunton on 27 December 1882. His father was a ‘plasterer’ and before 1883 they had moved to, and were living in Queen Street, Rugby.

Arthur was baptised on 20 April 1884 in Bilton, Rugby. His two younger brothers, Walter Edward [b. 10 June 1885], and Alfred William were both baptised later on 31 October 1886 at St Matthew’s church, Rugby.

In 1871, Arthur’s father, Stephen Stay, was a plasterer’s apprentice, aged 17, and lodging and working with another plasterer in Ringwood. He was later known for a period as Frederick.   This caused considerable confusion when researching the family, however, he when he later remarried – once again as Stephen Stay – he stated that his father had also been Stephen Stay, a joiner, which probably explains why he was known as Frederick in his younger days.

In 1891, Arthur George was 7 and his father was now enumerated as ‘Frederick’ Stay. His two younger brothers, Walter E, and Alfred W, were aged 5 and 4 respectively.   They were living at 25 Queen Street, Rugby.

In 1901, both Arthur and his brother Alfred were at home with their mother. Their father was presumably away working, and seems to have missed being enumerated. Arthur was now 17 and an ‘Apprentice Plasterer’ and the family were living at 61 Claremont Road, Rugby. His brother Walter was following the family trade as a 15 year old plaster’s apprentice, and was boarding in Newmarket.

Sadly, in later 1904, Arthur’s mother, Mary Annie Stay, died in Rugby aged 51. Some three years later, on 28 September 1907, his widower father remarried, now again as Stephen Stay, a ‘Master Plasterer’, with a widow, Kate, née Taylor, Mills at the Parish Chapel, in St Pancras, London.

Arthur married on 6 June 1906 at Tempsford in Bedfordshire with Emily Scrivener; who had been born in Felmersham, Bedfordshire in about 1884.   They had three children, a son, Harold George Stay in late 1907 who was registered in Rugby; then a daughter, Bessie Eileen Stay who was born in 1909, and registered in Lutterworth; and then another son, Frederick John Stay, born on 21 September 1910 in Rugby. It seems that his wife later had returned to her home area and was living at Roxton, and that village is given as Arthur widow’s address on some documents.

For the 1911 census, Arthur’s father Stephan Stay, now 58, was with his second wife, Kate who was 41. They were living at 99 Grosvenor Road, Rugby; he was still a plasterer. His wife filled out the census return, which probably explains why she has entered his place of birth as ‘Old Eastbourne’ rather than the similarly sounding ‘[Old] Wimborne’.   Nellie Taylor who was a visitor, was possibly his wife’s, sister.

In 1911, Arthur was away from home, still working as a ‘Plasterer’ and in lodging with another plasterer at 37 Claremont Road, Romford, Essex. He was no doubt working on a contract in that area. His wife, Emily, and their three children, were at their home at 45 Lodge Road, Rugby. His brother, Walter, now 25, was working in Camberwell.

Arthur’s youngest brother Alfred also became a Plasterer and by 1911 had just married Nellie Ruth née Mill from Epsom and was living at The Firs, Welton.   They married on 1 August 1910, at West Fordington, Dorset, so maybe there was still a family connection to his father’s birth county.

With the outbreak of World War I, Arthur first joined up in Lambeth, London, originally as a Private, No.6341, in the ‘London Regiment’, although in which of its many Battalions is unknown.

He would later transfer, or be posted, to the 122nd Machine Gun Company as No.65340, and would later be promoted to Lance Corporal. He does not appear to have been awarded the 1915 Star, so it seems that he did not go to France until 1916, which would suggest he was with the 122nd MG Company when they first went to France.

The 122nd MG Company became part of the 122nd Brigade, 41st Division in May 1916. The Company War Diary[1] noted that the 122nd arrived at Le Havre at 5a.m. on 17 May 1916. They left for Rouen and arrived at Steenweerk by rail on 21 May. They undertook familiarisation training over the next few days. On 27 May they moved to Le Romarin, and then on 28 May to Ploegsteert.

July started quietly except for two NCOs being sent for Court Marshal for being drunk on duty!! The Acting Battery Sergeant Major was paraded and publicly reduced to the ranks – the other NCO was found not guilty.

They were later in action at the Battle of Flers-Coucelette [15-22 September 1916] and the Battle of Transloy Ridge [October 1916], these being the last two actions on the Somme. In 1917 they fought during the Battle of Messines; the Battle of Pilkem Ridge; the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge.[2]

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, was part of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, and the 122nd Machine Gun Company’s War Diary gave some information on the actions in the month of September, before and after Arthur’s death.   It shows something of the training, constant movement and the fierce battle actions that the men endured:

1 to 6 September – the Company was training at Barringhem. Then until 13 September, one Section went to help make ready barrage preparations and various C.O.’s conferences were held whilst various further training took place.

14 September – ‘Company moved into billets at Le Nieppe.’

15 September – ‘Company moved into billets at La Rounlushille.’

16 September – ‘Company moved into camp at Shippewa Camp.   2 Section relieved 2 guns 194 Coy and 2 guns 116 Coy in the Line.’

17 September – ‘No 3 Section rejoined the Company …’.

18 September – ‘Nos 3 & 4 Sections reported at 4pm to the 11th R W Kents at Ridge Wood and Larch Wood. Company Headquarters moved into Hedge St. Tunnels. …’.

19 September – ‘… Sections … moved up to assembly positions in Bodmin Copse. Assembly complete by 12 mid-night.’

20 September – ‘3.40am, attack delivered on Tower Hamlets Ridge. All sections arrived at final positions with only 4 casualties. 12 noon R W Ks unable to hold on in Green Line owing to their right flank being exposed, withdrew and Srg O’Connor, commanding No 4 Section (2/Lt Wearne having been wounded) brought forward the two rear guns to cover the gap.   He remained in this exposed position till 6.0pm when he withdrew to the same line as the R.W.Ks.

21 September – ‘4.15 am – German counter attack delivered on right and left of Menin Road. The sub-section No.3 was wiped out & both guns destroyed and all of No.4 Section with the exception of 6 men became casualties through the heavy bombardment which preceded this counter-attack. Counter-attack was beaten off. 2/Lt Hale inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. 2/Lt Cantnell wounded. Reinforcements from reserve sub-section sent up to No.4. 7.0pm – Second counter-attack attempted, which never materialised.’

22 September – ‘Situation normal. 122 Inf. Bde. relieved out of the line by 116 Bde.’

23 September – ‘Situation normal. Relief expected but did not turn up.’

24 September – ‘Relieving Company arrived but owing to heavy shelling, no relief was possible till 6.30 am. Relief complete by 9.0am Company proceeded to Jackson’s Dump where limbers were waiting for the guns & then to Ridge Wood. Casualties in the line, 3 Officers + 52 ORs. 2.0pm Left Ridge Wood by bus for Eecre.   Transport followed from Millekreose and arrived in camp 8.30pm.’

It is not known exactly where and when on 21 September 1917 that Arthur was ‘Killed in Action’, but it must be assumed that he was probably in either in No.3 sub-section that was ‘wiped out’ or in No.4 Section, where all but six men were casualties.

His body was either never found, or was not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 154 to 159 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.

Arthur George Stay was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby, and remembered on a family grave in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

Probate was granted to his widow, Emily Stay, at London, Arthur was then recorded as ‘of Roxton, Bedfordshire’, his wife’s home village. His effects totalled £579-0-1d.

The Register of Effects[3] confirms his rank, number and date of death. His back pay owing of £2-5-1d was paid to his widow on 30 January 1918, and his War Gratuity of £4-10-0d was paid to her on 3 December 1919.

Both of Arthur’s brothers joined up, and both survived the War.

Arthur’s younger brother, Walter Edward Stay, joined up on 19 November 1914 at Gosport Regimental as No.53445 in the Royal Garrison Artillery [RGA] and had served in the 19th Siege Battery, RGA, and became an Acting Corporal.   He went to France on 25 June 1915 and served with some distinction and was awarded both the DCM [Distinguished Service Medal] on 1 January 1918 and the Belgian ‘Croix de Guerre’. His DCM was presented by Major General Franks on 6 October 1918.   He survived the war and his marriage to Elsie Agnes Francis (b.22 July 1892 in Shaftesbury St James, Dorset, but who had been resident in Bilton, Rugby in 1901 and 1911) was registered in Q3 1919 in West Ham, Essex. He died aged 84 in 1969 in the Salisbury area; his wife died at about the same date.

Arthur’s youngest brother, Alfred, joined up on 10 December 1915 into the Gloucester Regiment, and was later in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private, No.39776 and was discharged on 27 November 1918.

Arthur’s father, ‘Stephen, otherwise Fred’ Stay of 18 Murray Road, Rugby, died on 19 May 1933, with probate, giving both first names as alternates, in London to the value of £932-19-1d, granted to his two surviving sons: Walter Edward Stay, still a plasterer, and Alfred William Stay, now an Inspector.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Arthur George STAY 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, July 2017.

[1]       The National Archives, UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 41st Division, Piece 2635: 122 Infantry Brigade – 122 Machine Gun Company (1916 – 1919).

[2]       Information from: http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/mgcompany.php?pid=10712.

[3]       UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929.

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Bennett, George Edward. Died 14th Jul 1917

George Edward Bennett was born in December quarter of 1896 and baptised on 12th December at St Andrews Parish Church. His parents were William  Bennett and Elizabeth (nee Birks) who had been married at St Matthews Church in March 1884. William came from Brixton, London and Elizabeth had been born in Stoke on Trent

George was their second son and at the time of his birth they were living at 41 Sun Street and William was a painter.

By 1891 another son had been born and they lived at 3 Warwick St. William was a painter and paper hanger. In 1901 William and Elizabeth Bennett and their eight children, including 14 year old George, were living at 16 Union Street. They were still at that address in 1911, but two of the children had died. George, now aged 24, was a house decorator and paper hanger.

George Edward enlisted under Lord Derby’s scheme in December 1915. He was originally in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (private, 4824) but later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps Infantry (no. 72147)

He was killed in action on the 14th July 1915 and was buried at Sunken Road Cemetery, at Fampoux, a few miles east of Arras. He was probably killed during the stalemate after the 3rd Battle of the Scarpe.

The Rugby Advertiser of 28th July 1917 has the following announcement
Mr and Mrs Bennett of 16 Union Street, have received intimation of the death of their son Pte George E Bennett, Royal Warwickshire Regt, on the Western Front. Pte Bennett was 30 years of age and an old boy of St Matthew’s School.

An inscription “PEACE PERFECT PEACE” was added to his gravestone by his sister Miss Mary Ruth Bennett.

 

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Wood, Arthur William. Died 10th Jun 1917

Arthur was the son of Joseph Wood and Annie Hill who were married in Rugby in 1889. Joseph came from Ashton in Makerfield, Lancashire, and Annie from Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Joseph was an engine driver and had been in Rugby since at least 1869, at Union Street in 1871 and 1881 and 31 Charlotte Street in 1891.

Arthur was born at 31 Charlotte Street in 1896 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 19 March.   Annie was Joseph’s second wife; his first wife Jemima Shaw born Braunston Northants, whom he married at Rugby in 1869, died aged 42 in 1887 in Rugby. They had a number of children. In 1901 Joseph was still living in Charlotte Street with his second wife and their three young children Adelina, Dora and Arthur as well as son Ernest from his first marriage. By 1911 Joseph had moved to 153 Grosvenor Road, Annie had died (in 1903), Dora was no longer at home, and there was another child Marjorie born in 1901 as well as Ernest, now a labourer aged 23.

Arthur enlisted in 1915 as Private 11083 in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was sent to France in May of that year. He was transferred to the 33rd Company Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) as Private 19891.

He was invalided home in December, 1916, suffering from septic poisoning, caused by a shrapnel wound, and he returned to France in April. He was killed in action in France in 1917. He has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

He was awarded the Victory and British War medals and the 1915 Star. His effects, £20 plus a war gratuity of £13 were sent to his sole legatee his half brother George Wood, an engine fitter, who took out letters of Administration in Birmingham in October 1917.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Wallace, Herbert. Died 8th Jun 1917

Herbert Wallace’s was born in Blakesley, Northamptonshire in late 1891 and baptised there on 27 December 1891.

Earlier in 1891, the family in Blakesley comprised: his father, William, a ‘Stud Groom’; mother Elizabeth; older siblings: Joseph aged 8; sister, Ethel aged 7; and brothers John, Walter and Edward, aged 5, 3, and 1.

By 1901 the family had moved to 83 Sholebrook, Wittlebury Park, near Towcester. Herbert’s father was still a stud groom. Herbert was now aged 9 and there were more children and six siblings at home, Edward, Flora, Frank, Fred, Rose and Nelly. Then in 1903, his father died, the death being registered in Towcester.   Herbert’s widowed mother remained with the younger children at 52 Whittlebury, Towcester.   At some later date his widowed mother moved to Rugby, probably to join her children.

In 1911, Herbert was 19 and a grocer’s assistant, lodging with the Hussey family at 2 Devon Cottage, Watford Road, Radlett, Hertfordshire.

He may well have moved to the Rugby area before the war to join his two brothers who were already working in Rugby in 1911, as he enlisted in nearby Coventry into the Machine Gun Corps [MGC] as Gunner, No.38424.   The MGC had been formed in October 1915.

It is not known when Herbert joined up, but he probably didn’t go to France until 1916, as he didn’t receive the 1914-1915 Star, and he would have to be trained.

He later transferred to the ‘Heavy Section’ as Private/Gunner, No.206183. The Heavy Section was formed in March 1916, becoming the ‘Heavy Branch’ in November 1916. Men of this branch crewed the first tanks in action at Flers, during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916.[1]

He was still in the ‘Heavy Branch’ in June 1917, as it was not until July 1917, that the ‘Heavy Branch’ separated from the MGC to become the Tank Corps, later to be called the Royal Tank Regiment. The later ‘Soldiers that died in the Great War’ record states ‘Royal Tank Corps’ and his Medal Card stated ‘Tank Corps’.

The Tank Corps was formed from the Heavy Branch MGC on 27 July 1917 and the Battalions adopted numbering rather than letter designations (although tank names followed the same lettering: for example, 7th Battalion tanks were all named with a letter G, like Grouse, Grumble, etc.) Each Tank Battalion had a complement of 32 officers and 374 men. Originally formed as Companies of the Heavy Section MGC, designated A, B, C and D, each Company consisted of 4 Sections of 3 tanks of each type (male and female Mk.1s). Companies also had another machine in reserve. In November 1916 the Companies were expanded to Battalions, carrying the same letter designations. A Battalion consisted of 3 Companies. Three mobile workshops provided the engineering back-up to service the tanks. An expansion programme was ordered by GHQ, to build a force of 14 additional Battalions.

As Herbert was in “A” Battalion, this would have become the 1st Battalion – possibly after his death.

… some [tanks] played a part at the Battle of Arras in April and May 1917. … The next step saw an upgrade in the production of the Mark IV. It carried more armour and had an external fuel tank. Mechanically, it was similar to the Mark II. These tanks weighed 28 tons. The Mark IV first saw service at The Battle of Messines in June 1917.[2]

The Battle of Messines took place from 7 to 14 June 1917, just south of Ypres. Seventy-two of the new Mark IV tanks had arrived in May and were hidden south-west of Ypres, and took part in various parts of the battle.

Sadly, the tanks deployment in the Third Battle of Ypres (July-November 1917) proved to be another slog through deep mud. The area became a tank graveyard as machine after machine ditched in deep trenches and shell holes, sank, stuck and was shelled. Morale in the Tank Corps was low and confidence of the rest of the army destroyed.[3]

Herbert was recorded by the CWGC as a ‘Gunner, “A” Bn Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch)’, but there seem to be two possible dates of death. The grave registration form gave his earlier MGC number and 7 June 1917 as his date of death, rather than his later Heavy Branch number and the later 8 June 1917 date of death given in the later CWGC record and on his headstone.   Herbert was Killed in Action on either 7 or 8 June 1917, it is assumed during one of the number of separate actions tank actions in the Battle of Messines.

His body was recovered and he was buried in Grave Reference: III. C. I5. in the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension. The New Military Cemetery was begun in February 1915 and was used until May 1917 by fighting units and field ambulances, with a few further burials taking place in March and April 1918. The Extension was used from May 1917 to January 1918. The cemetery is a few miles south-west of Ypres, and a similar distance north-west of Messines.

At the date that the CWGC listed the memorial details, Herbert was described as ‘Son of Elizabeth Wallace, of 21, St. John St., Rugby and the late William Wallace’. At some date before 1911, Edward’s brothers, John, b.c.1886; and Frank, b.c.1896, had moved to Rugby to work as a ‘grocer’s assistant, and a ‘gas engineer apprentice’ respectively, and in 1911 were in lodgings at 74 Railway Terrace. It seems likely that their widowed mother, later also moved to Rugby to join them, and submitted Herbert’s name to be remembered on the Memorial Gate. Whether Herbert ever lived in Rugby is uncertain, but he joined up in nearby Coventry, and so he probably visited or even lived for a while, with his brothers, and later his mother. As he is also on the St. Philip’s memorial, perhaps he joined the family in Rugby for a time.

His mother was his sole legatee, and received £5-9-11d on 1 October 1917 and £3-10-0d on 16 October 1919.

Herbert Wallace was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

As well as being remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate, Herbert is commemorated at St. Philip’s Church, Wood Street, Rugby.

Herbert’s brother, Edward, also died in WWI, on 15 July 1916, whilst serving with the 1st Welsh Fusiliers during the Battle of the Somme.   He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and his biography is here.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Herbert Wallace was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

 

[1]       In July 1917, the Heavy Branch separated from the MGC to become the Tank Corps, later the Royal Tank Regiment.

[2]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/tank-corps-in-the-first-world-war/

[3]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines_(1917); from: Edmonds, J. E., 1991, [1948], Military Operations France and Belgium, 1917: 7 June – 10 November: Messines and Third Ypres (Passchendaele). History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, p.33, London, HMSO, ISBN: 0-89839-166-0.

24th Feb 1917. Parcels for Prisoners

PARCELS FOR PRISONERS.

The following are the contents of thè two recent parcels sent on behalf of the Rugby Prisoners of War Help Committee to local men in German prison camps : (1) 1lb beef, ½ lb vegetables, 1 tin rations, ½lb tin cheese, ¼lb tea, ½lb Nestle’s milk, ¾lb sugar, 1/ lb margarine, 1lb jam, 1lb biscuits, 50 cigarettes, 1 tin sardines. (2) 1 tin sausages, 1 tin herrings, 1 tin oxo cubes, 1lb biscuits, ¾lb tin cocoa, ½lb cooked ham (in tin), ½lb dripping, 1 packet oatmeal, 2oz tobacco, ½lb Nestle’s milk, ½lb sugar, pepper, salt, mustard.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Second-Lieut H N Salter, 4th Leicestershire Regiment, has been gazetted first-lieutenant, dating from October 4, 1916.

Mr E P Lennon, son of Mr J P Lennon, has joined the same regiment.

P.C Bending, who has been stationed for seven years at Rugby-the last two of which have been spent as assistant clerk at the Police Station—has this week joined the Military Police Force. Before joining the Police Force, P.C Bending was a sergeant-instructor in the 21st Lancers.

Pte Harold Hopkins, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, previously notified as missing, is now reported as killed in action on July 14, 1916. Pte Hopkins, whose home was at 99 Victoria Street, New Bilton, was an “ old boy ” of St Matthew’s School, and was only 19 years of age. He had only been at the front a short time before the Somme offensive began, and he lost his life early in the struggle.

Second Lieut James Colin MacLehose, Rifle Brigade, who fell on February 14, aged 19, was the elder son of Mr James MacLehose, publisher to the University, Glasgow. He was educated at Cargilfield Preparatory School, of which he was head, and at Rugby, where he became head of the School House. At Rugby he was keenly interested in the life of the School, and in 1916 won the Crick run, the 12 mile race across country.

RUGBY SOLDIER’S DEAÌH FROM WOUNDS.

Pte J Dunn, Machine Gun Corps, who, as we reported last week, had been seriously wounded-and whose leg was amputated after a transfusion of blood—died on February 13th. Mrs Dunn, his wife, who lives at 2 Round Street, Rugby, has received letter from the Sister and Chaplain at the Hospital, both of whom state that everything possible was done for the unfortunate man, who himself made ever effort to recover, but he was too weak to resist the constant severe attacks. Pte Dunn was 27 years of age, and joined the colours eight months ago. For the last five years he had been employed at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s and for several years he played for Long Lawford Football Club.

Dunn, James. Died 13th Feb 1917

James was born in the Registration District of West Bromwich, Staffordshire, to Silas and Maria Dunn, born Ward. They married in Dudley, Staffordshire in the last quarter of 1884. James had an elder brother, Joseph born in 1886.

In the 1891 Census the family are living at 9, Tunnel Road in the Hill Top Ward of West Bromwich, Silas is a General Labourer. Silas died in June 1894 aged 30, in West Bromwich.

In the 1901 Census, Maria is a Boarder, and Charwoman, at 51, Old Meeting Street, West Bromwich, with Rose Harriet Silk as Head of the Household. Joseph, 15 is a General Labourer, James is 12, and a new brother, George is 8.

By 1911 James had moved to Rugby and was working for Willans and Robinson Engineering Works, in Leicester Road, Rugby. He played football for Long Lawford.

He married Clara Sutton in Rugby in December 1914. Clara was the daughter of Amos and Maria Sutton. Her mother was born Maria Burbury. Clara was born in Frankton, Warwickshire in 1889, and baptised at Frankton Parish Church on 13th of October, 1889. . The 1891 Census records Clara living in Frankton with her parents and 4 older siblings. In the 1901 Census, the family are living in Chapel Street, Long Lawford, Amos is a Quarryman at the Rugby Cement Works.

Clara gave birth to a son, Joseph S, his birth is recorded   in the September quarter of 1915, in Rugby.

James’ Service Records have not survived, but information shows that he joined up as a Private in The Royal Warwickshire Regiment service number 20446. The report of his death in The Rugby Advertiser in March 1917 says he signed up for the colours 6 months before his death.

He then transferred to The 196th Company of The Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Why was this?

At the start of World War 1 each Battalion had 2 machine guns, some were old and unreliable Maxim guns. The Army brought in a programme to change to the Vickers design. And in February 1915 they increased the number to 4 per Battalion. Vickers struggled to meet not only this increase, but the ever-growing number of Territorial Battalions. They agreed to place contracts with American Companies for production under licence.

Following a review of the problems encountered at the First Battle of Ypres, a decision was made to form specialist Machine Gun Battalions. Heavy Machine guns and their crews, four per gun were transferred to the new specialist Battalions, Infantry, Cavalry and Motor. A Vickers Gun could fire 500 rounds per minute, which is the equivalent of 40 trained Riflemen. Concentrating the fire over wide range was copying the technique which had been so devastating to the British Army in the early battles.

To train the Battalion gunners to be part of a much larger Corps of Machine Gunners, a training camp was set up in northern France at Wisques, near to the port of Dunkirk. (In the Second World War a V2 rocket launch platform was sited close to Wisques.)

A team of four were allocated to each gun. It took two men to carry each gun, the gun barrel weighed 28.5 lbs, the water cooled jacket 10lbs and the tripod 20lbs.

A total of 170,500 officers and Men served in the Machine Gun Corps, during the war. 62,049 were killed or wounded. There is a Memorial to the Corps in Hyde Park, London.

The 196th Machine Gun Corps joined the 55th Division on 22nd December 1916.. The Division had relieved the 29th Division in October 1916. For the first half of 1917 the front near Ypres was officially considered to be relatively quiet, if being surrounded on three sides by the enemy can be considered relatively quiet!

In early February 1917 James was wounded and transferred to a French Hospital west of Ypres. He had suffered severe wounds in the leg and was suffering from shock and loss of blood. The surgeon was initially inclined to amputate the leg, but was concerned that the shock of an operation might kill James. He asked for volunteers to donate blood to help James to recover strength. Private T Carter of The Royal Sussex Regiment donated blood. James recovered sufficiently to stand up, but his body had become infected and without modern drugs he died on the 13th of February 1917.

He was buried in The Liyssenthoek Military Cemetery, which is 12 kilometres west of Ypres between Ypres and Poperinge. It is situated between the Allied military base camps and the town of Ypres. The Cemetery has 9,801 graves of men killed in World War 1.

James’ widow, named as Mrs J Dunn was awarded 1s 1d as the value of James’ effects in 1920. She also received his Victory and British War Medals, these were actioned on 25th February 1920.

James’ son, Joseph S Dunn died aged 8 in 1923.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Pebody, Robert Baden. Died 16th Sep 1916

Sergt. Robert Baden Pebody
Service No. 206118
Regiment Machine Gun Corps (Heavy Branch) 4th “D” coy
Cemetery/Memorial Name A.I.F. Burial Ground, Flers
Grave/Reference III. J. 12

Robert Baden Pebody was born about 1896. In the census returns for both 1901 and 1911 Robert is living with his aunt and uncle John Thomas and Margaret Ann Pebody and he is 5 and then 15 years of age, giving his place of birth as Rugby Warwickshire, but no birth or baptism record can be traced and if Robert is adopted no evidence has been found, so we do not know his parents names. He, his aunt and uncle are at 58 Oxford Street Rugby in 1901 and at 50 Hillmorton Road Rugby in 1911 and John Thomas Pebody is an Overseer at the Post Office. Robert attended Lawrence Sheriff School from 1907 – 1912, unfortunately in 1914 Robert’s Aunt Margaret died.   I have not found when Robert enlisted, but he enlisted at Coventry, according to Daventry District Remembers, and Daventry Remembers give John Thomas and Margaret as his parents living at 58 Oxford Street Daventry, (same names as his aunt and uncle and similar address on the 1911 census only at Rugby). Also Daventry Remembers states that John Thomas is living at 24 Stephen Street Rugby at the time of Robert’s death.

Robert belongs to those who crewed the first tanks in September 1916.   On the Somme Roll of Honour it reads Robert Baden Pebody, Tank D14 Company, Died of Wounds the 16th September 1916, age 21. Rest in Peace. A.I.F Burial Ground Flers.   From the Military History Forum is the following:-

In memory of Sergeant Pebody. Sergeant Pebody was 2 i/c of tank D14 commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Gordon Court which had not been in action on the 15th September but was attached to 41st division for the second day of the attack on Flers. The objective was mainly the German held Gird Trench and Gird Support in front of Guedecourt. D14 was heading down what is now Grass Lane towards Guedecourt branching off and heading over a piece of higher ground when the tank was observed to come to a halt and then suddenly explode with a shattering roar. The tank was subsequently found to have been blown to bits and Lieutenant Court and 5 of the crew were killed in the fire, Sgt. Pebody and Lance corporal Upton Army Service Corps died of wounds. It seems likely that Sgt. Pebody and Lance Corporal Upton got out of the tank perhaps to examine what had halted the tank when a German Shell hit the tank itself. Lance Corporal Upton is also buried with Robert Pebody at A.I.F. Burial Ground whilst the other members of the crew of D14 have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thievpal Memorial.

Robert Baden Pebody is remembered on the Memorial Gates Rugby and on the War Memorial at Holy Cross Churchyard, Daventry on Abbey Street. I could not find any memoriam to him in any local newspapers, only that his uncle was informed of his death.

Robert is an enigma. His service number does not lead to any other records. The original grave registration entry was for Paberny Sergt. R. 16721 Machine Gun Corps altered in red ink to read “Pebody, 206118, 4T/C” printed cemetery registers volume state “4Bn Tank Corps” CWGC.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM