George, Hubert Trehearne. Died 19th Jun 1918

Hubert Trehearne GEORGE’s birth was registered in Q2, 1898 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.  He was the son of Walter George, who was born in about 1853 in Worcester, and Harriett, née Blissett, George, who was also born in Worcester, in about 1855.  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1876, in Martley, Worcestershire.

In 1881, his father had been a ‘Schoolmaster, Wesleyan’ and the family were living in Moor Lane, Southwell.  In 1891, the family were still living in Moor Lane, and Herbert’s father was an ‘Elementary Schoolmaster’.  There were three children at that date: William B George, 14; Walter H George, 12; and Nellie E George, 6.

By 1901, his father had become the Headmaster of an Elementary School, and the family had moved to live in Park Street, Southwell.  Hubert had now ‘arrived’ and was three years old.  In 1911, Hubert was 13, and his parents were still living in Park Street.  Hubert, being much younger, was the only child still at home and his father, now 58, was still teaching as a ‘Head, Elementary School, County Council’.  His parents had now been married for 34 years and had four children who were all still living.

At some later date between 1911 and the war, it seems that the family moved to Rugby, possibly because of the educational opportunities for their son, and Hubert attended Lawrence Sheriff School.  They lived there for the rest of their lives.  His mother died in Rugby, aged 76, in about early 1930, his father died there aged 88, some ten years later in late 1940.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for Hubert, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, and he served – at least initially – as a Private, No:PS/11642, in the Royal Fusiliers, later he would be posted to become No:104281, in the 1st Section of the 8th Bn. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) (MGC).  At some date he was promoted Lance Corporal.

There is no date when Hubert went to France, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough to serve overseas – until sometime in 1917.

The 8th Battalion of the MGC was formed on 20 January 1918 from 23rd, 24th, 25th and 218th Machine Gun Companies and was part of the 8th Division.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, Hubert would have continued to be involved in the routine of trench warfare, and the front was comparatively quiet prior to 21 March.

However, an attack by the Germans had been anticipated and on 21 March 1918, they launched a major offensive, Operation Michael, against the British Fifth Army and the right wing of the British Third Army.  The German artillery targeted command and communications; then, the destruction of artillery; and then the front-line infantry.  The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war.  Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

This first action on 21 March 1918 was known by the Allies as the Battle of St Quentin, and the 8th Battalion was engaged in the Battle of St Quentin (XIX Corps/5 Army) from 23 March 1918; and then the actions on the Somme Crossings, 24-25 March 1918; the Battle of Rosières, 26-27 March 1918; the actions at Villers Bretonneux (III Corps/4th Army), 24/25 April 1918; and then later in Battle of the Aisne (IX Corps/6 French Army & 5 French Army), 27 May to 6 June 1918.[1]

In the absence of an immediately accessible War Diary, various memoranda have been found on-line relating to members of the 8th Battalion MGC, and these have been collated to establish the locations and activities of the Battalion.  There is some overlap and ‘conflict’, but these give an impression.  It is known that Herbert was captured, but it is not known where or when.

Although not subjected to the initial thrust of the offensive, the 8th Division fought a series of costly actions during the remainder of the month.  Between 24-25 April, the Division was involved in a desperate defence of the Villers-Bretonneux sector to the east of Amiens that would result in catastrophic casualties.  At the end of the month, orders were issued for the 8th Division to proceed to a training area near Abbeville.  This was cancelled, although some movement had already commenced.

30 April – the Transport Section of the 8th Battalion MGC mobilized.  Travelling eastwards, the night was spent at Soues to the west of Amiens.

1 May – the battalion transport set forth once again and proceeded to Pont-de-Metz to the south-west the town.  The Base Depot of the M.G.C. was located at Camiers.  At 9.30 a.m., the 8th Battalion, M.G.C. embussed at a road junction located at Les Croisettes, north of Huppy, and proceeded by lorry to the west of Amiens where they debussed at Ferrieres.  The battalion then proceeded by route march to Pont-de-Metz.

2 May, 8th Battalion, M.G.C. Headquarters with “A” and “B” Companies entrained at Saleux.  After a lengthy journey travelling south for much of the day, they then detrained at Fere (Fere-en-Tardenois) and marched to Mont-St.-Martin located to the south-west of Fismes on the banks of the River Vesle.

3 May – the 8th were located at Saleux to the south-west of Amiens.  The 25th Infantry Brigade were located at Huppy, to the south of Abbeville and further to the south, the 8th Battalion, MGC were in or near the village of Doudelainville.  “C” Company entrained at Saleux arriving in the late evening at Mont-St.-Martin followed by “D” Company who arrived at the latter place early on the morning of 4 May.  The division had by now received orders to move south to positions north of Reims and to occupy the front line near the River Aisne.

The 8th Division were now placed in Corps Reserve with Headquarters located at Chery-Chartreuve to the south of Mont-St.-Martin.  In the days that followed, the battalion spent their time in training and the cleaning of equipment

11 May – the infantry of the 8th Division to move into the line between the River Aisne at Berry-au-Bac and the Bois de la Casemate on relief of a French division.  The 8th Battalion M.G.C. followed suit at 7 a.m. in the morning marching via Fismes to Bourgogne Camp located to the west of Ventelay.

12 May – the front line was reconnoitred by the officers whilst the battalion spent the day preparing for occupation of positions in the front line.

13/14 May – night – the first units of the 8th Battalion M.G.C. began to move into the front line area when “B” Company moved into the right sub-sector of the divisional front with 16 guns, Company Headquarters being located at P.C. Dunkerque.  “C” Company also proceeded to occupy front line positions in the left sub-sector of the divisional front with 10 guns, Company Headquarters being located at Tuilerie on the southern outskirts of la Ville-aux-Bois.

14 May – night – “A” Company moved into the line with 16 guns and took over positions on the entire brigade front with Company Headquarters being located at P.C. Verdun.  The dispositions of the battalion are now described in the War Diary on this date as:  “The whole of “A” & “B” Coys together with 10 guns of “C” Coy are in the line.  “D” Coy together with 6 guns of “C” Coy in Divisnl. Res. at Bourgogne Camp.  The Bn. H.Q. & transport lines are also at Bourgogne Camp.”  It was declared that all three Infantry Brigades and the 8th Battalion M.G.C. of the 8th Division had completed the relief of outgoing French units in that salient, this relief having commenced on 12 May.

27 May 1918 – at the start of the Battle of the Aisne, the 8th Battalion MGC were at a place called Beri-au-Bac  which is right on the river.  Many were killed during the initial barrage.  It is known that some men were taken prisoner, including the CSM of A Company who was taken POW at Berry au Bac on 27 May and held at Langansalza POW camp until January 1919.

It seems quite likely that Herbert was perhaps wounded but also taken prisoner in that action, however, it could have been earlier.  The CWGC advised that he died whilst a Prisoner of War.  He may have been wounded.  The ICRC Historical Archives do not have a record card for him, however, these PoW records do have details of an enquiry from his father ‘Mr Walter George. (fath) 2 High. Str. Rugby.’[2]  The last news from his son had been dated 20 March 1918, and Herbert’s father’s enquiry was dated 24 May 1918.

It is thus possible that he was captured any time after later March 1918.  Prisoner of War camps provided a harsh environment, with fitter men being sent to work in local industry, or digging trenches, burying the dead and moving munitions.  Many of these were worked and starved to death, quite literally, as they received insufficient food – the German troops and civilians by this date were also receiving insufficient food because of the British blockade of German ports.  He may of course have been wounded and died whilst undergoing treatment, or become ill and died.

Herbert George died aged 20, on 19 June 1918.  He was originally buried in the Valenciennes Communal Cemetery German Extension in Grave Ref:1221 – this was some distance north-east of where he had been in action, and it seems likely that he was held in a PoW camp in this area or was being treated there, prior to being moved to Germany.  Valenciennes is some 25km north-east of Cambrai.

After the War the graves in the German Cemetery were ‘concentrated’ (exhumed, identified as necessary, and moved for reburial).  He was reburied in the Valenciennes (St. Roch) Communal Cemetery in grave reference: IV. F. 21.

Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery is situated on the north-east side of Valenciennes.  In November and December 1918, the 2nd, 57th, 4th Canadian and 32nd Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Valenciennes and the last of them did not leave until October 1919.  The Communal Cemetery of St. Roch was used by the Germans in August and September 1914 and an extension was then made on the south-east side.

The Commonwealth plots were made adjoining the German: I and II contain the graves of October 1918 to December 1919; III, IV, V and part of VI contain the graves of 348 soldiers buried originally in the German Extension and 226 whose bodies were brought from other cemeteries or from the battlefields.

The German Extension has since been removed and the Commonwealth plots are within the enlarged Communal Cemetery.

Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, “Happy with the Saviour”.  It seems that his parents had moved from 2 High Street, and were, by then, living at 9 Elborow Street, Rugby.

Hubert Treharne George is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque,[3] which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’   

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Herbert Trehearne GEORGE 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.

 

[1]      http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/64070-8th-bn-machine-gun-corps-infantry/; note by ‘Koyli’, 24 November 2006, quoting information from: Sacker, Graham, The Suicide Club.

 

[2] https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Search, 1914-1918, Prisoners Of The First World War, ICRC Historical Archives,

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

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Hoare, James. Died 27th May 1918

James Hoare was born in the first quarter of 1887 in the civil parish of Monks Coppenhall, Crewe, Cheshire (Registration district Nantwich).

The 1891 census RG12/2851 page 25 records his father as George age 36, a Coach Man Domestic, born in Newport Pagnall, Bucks and his mother as Caroline age 42 from Wharton, Cheshire.  His uncle Joseph Hoare age 24, a Crane Driver, was living with them.

He had siblings Bertha age 11, Alfred age 9 and Louisa age 7.  He may also have had another brother Walter born 1885 who died age 3 in 1889.

At the 1901 census RG13/3358 page 37 he is 14 and still living in Monks Coppenhall. His father had become a Barman.

By 1911 he had moved to Rugby and was boarding in the home of John and Alice Law at 10, Grosvenor Road. He was age 24 and employed as a Shop Assistant with the Co-operative Society.

He initially appears to have enlisted in Coventry with R. Warwicks Regt with number 4478 but is later listed as Private James Hoare with the 271st infantry battalion of the Machine Gun Corps with number 43375.

He drowned at sea on Monday 27th May 1918 when the troop ship H.T. “Leasowe Castle” was torpedoed on the starboard side by German submarine UB51 with the loss of 83 or 93 lives.

HMS Leasowe Castle Troop Transport Ship

Some 2800 men survived the sinking by taking to the liferafts/boats.  The ship was hit at 0130 when she was travelling in a convoy 104 miles north-west of Alexandria and sank suddenly within 90 minutes when a bulkhead collapsed in the aft part of the ship gave way. Most of the men still on board were carried down with ship and not a single body was picked up. The dead included the ship’s captain and the officers organising the evacuation.

His death, along with eight other privates in the MGC who died on the “Leasowe Castle,” is recorded on stone No.14.A of the CWGC Chatby memorial at Alexandria, Eygpt. He is also recorded on Rugby’s War Memorial

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

– – – – – –

 

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.

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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.