Martin, John Joseph. Died 25th Jun 1918

John Joseph MARTIN’s birth was registered in Q3, 1890 in RugbyHe was the son of John Joseph Martin, who was born in about 1851 in Ireland, and Ellen, née Oldham, Martin, who was born in Long Lawford, in about 1860.  Their marriage was registered in Q4, 1888, in Rugby.

In 1891, the family was living at 18 Chapel Street, Rugby.  John’s father was a ‘groom, domestic servant’.  There were two children at that date – John, who was ‘10 months’ old, and had an elder brother George who was ‘23 months’ old.  The apparent reason for this ‘precision’ can be found in the biography of their younger brother, Lawrence Alfred Martin, who died on 12 September 1916.

It seems they returned to Ireland between about 1896 and 1899, as three of the children were born there in that period, however, by 1901, the family had moved back to Rugby to live at 39 School Street, Hillmorton.  John’s father was a ‘groom at a livery stable’.

By 1911, John, the eldest son, was 20, and already ‘In the army’ – his name had been crossed out by the enumerator as he wasn’t with the family that night!  He was enumerated at the Aliwal Military Barracks, South Tidworth, Hampshire, and was in the 18th Queen Mary’s Own (QMO) Hussars.

Meanwhile in 1911, the rest of the family were now living at 12, Jubilee Street, New Bilton, Rugby.  Also at home that night were John’s younger siblings: Lawrence Martin, 16, who was working in the lamp department at BTH, but who would later join up; Mary Ellen Martin, 14, a tailoress; and Christina A Martin, 12; and Wilfred E V Martin, 8, who were both still at school.  Their father, now 60, was a ‘Groom’, and he and his wife had been married for 23 years and had had seven children of whom five were still living.  They would live in Rugby for the rest of their lives.  John’s father died there aged 78, in about mid 1932; and his mother died there, aged 79, in about early 1939.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for John, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, prior to 1911, and he served as either No: 5275, (on later CWGC records), or more probably as No: 5276 (as recorded on most earlier CWGC records; soldiers who died in the War; and his Medal Card) in the 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars in the Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line.  At some date he was promoted Sergeant.

The Regiment was based at Potchefstroom in South Africa at the start of the war, so John may have gone out to serve with them after being enumerated at Tidworth in 1911.  They returned to the UK and joined up with the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the 3rd Cavalry Division at Ludgershall, then on 8 October 1914 landed at Ostende as part of the British Expeditionary Force for service on the Western Front.  Soon afterwards, on 20 November 1914, in Belgium, they transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade in same Division, in order to bring that Brigade up to strength.

John’s Medal Card states that he went to France, on 6 October 1914, which fits with him serving in the 10th Hussars and going to France with them in 1914 – and he thus became eligible for the 1914 Star – and he would have then been involved in the various actions of the 8th Cavalry Brigade.

The 8th Cavalry Brigade served with the 3rd Cavalry Division on the Western Front until March 1918.  It joined the division too late to take part in any of the 1914 actions, but in 1915 the Division saw action in the Second Battle of Ypres (Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 11-13 May) and the Battle of Loos (26-28 September).  1916 saw no notable actions, but in 1917 the Division took part in the Battle of Arras (First Battle of the Scarpe, 9-12 April).  At other times, the brigade formed a dismounted unit and served in the trenches (as a regiment under the command of the brigadier).

In March 1918, the Indian Cavalry elements were sent to Egypt.  The British and Canadian units remained in France and most were transferred to the 3rd Cavalry Division causing it to be extensively reorganized.  The yeomanry regiments were concentrated in the 8th Cavalry Brigade which left the 3rd Cavalry Division on the 12/14 March 1918 and transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade in same Division.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, John would have continued to be involved in the daily routine of a Cavalry Regiment.  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.

The War Diary of the 10th Hussars whilst serving with the 6th Cavalry Brigade is available and a summary of activities in the four months before John’s death is summarised below.[1]

At start of March 1918, they were at Tertry where on 9 March one of the huts was bombed, six were killed, 35 wounded, six of whom died in hospital.  On 13 March they moved to the Devise area, and from 18-20 March they found working parties and then on 21 March ‘Heavy enemy bombardment of the whole front line opposite started about 4.30am.  The Regiment was ordered to stand to, and moved out at 5pm and marched to Beaumont near Ham, where the Brigade bivouacked in a field.  The dismounted Brigade was ordered to be formed next morning.’  On 22 March ‘The dismounted Brigade left by bus early in the morning …’.

They moved to Pontoise and then Carlepont and later to Choisy where a bomb injured an officer on 28 March.  On 30 March they were at Airion and moved to Sains-en-Amienois and the next day – 31 March – to bivouacs at Racineuse Farm.  Another group had gone to Lagny and then on to Elincourt and Chevincourt in period 26 to 29 March, sustaining one killed, 15 wounded and four missing.  A third group was in Naureuil on 23 March, and then dug in at Abbecourt and later went to Les Bruyers.

On 1 April the Brigade moved to Gentelles Wood.  On 2 April they moved on to Fouilloy.  Then on 4 April they came under heavy fire at Bois de Hamel and lost about 50 horses.  They were shelled again on 5 April at Blagney-Tronville.  On 6 April they moved to Camon where they ‘reorganised’ on 7 April.   On 11 April they marched to Buire-au-Bois and then on 12 April to Hestrus and later to billets at Aumerval.  From 14-30 April, they stood to and saddled up each day and were ready at short notice.

May started in the same way until on 5 May they moved to Rougefay and the next day to Villers l’ Hopital and then to Contay where they stood to until 16 May.  On 17 May they moved to camp at Belloy-sur-Somme.  They were then cleaning and training until the end of the month when they moved to Behencourt, and bivouacked half a mile south west of the chateau.

The Brigade stood to each day until 14 June when they were relieved by the 7th Cavalry Brigade and moved back to Belloy-sur-Somme.  From 15 to 24 June there was training and a ‘scheme’ was carried out on 22 June, however, ‘owing to the large numbers of cases of influenza in the Brigade, it was decided to move the Brigade to another area.’  On 25 June the Brigade moved to the Soues area, and then billeted at Reincourt until the end of July.

It seems there was constant movement in response to the German advances, the Cavalry effectively being in place as a readily moved ‘backstop’.  They moved, sometimes on a daily basis, from some 30kms south of Arras, to an area, similarly distant, to the west and south-west of the town.  There was no obvious major enemy action in the period prior to John’s death, when he might have been wounded, however, the mention of the ‘large number of cases of influenza’ may suggest that John was affected badly and for that reason was evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station.

Whether wounded in routine sniping or shelling, or suffering from influenza, John was evacuated for some considerable distance behind the lines, assuming that he was taken to the 21st Casualty Clearing Station at Wavens – some 50kms west of Arras – next to where he was later buried.

John Martin died, aged 28, on 25 June 1918.  He was buried in the Wavans British Cemetery in Grave Ref: B. 3.  This is a very small cemetery with only 44 graves and was made by the nearby 21st Casualty Clearing Station in May-September 1918.  The cemetery contains 43 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and one German war grave.  The flying ace Major J T B McCudden, VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar, MM, who died of wounds on 9 July 1918, some two weeks after John Martin, is buried in the same row as John Martin in Grave 10.

Later, when a gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, no additional family message was engraved upon it.  His parents were still at 12, Jubilee Street, New Bilton, Rugby.

John Joseph Martin is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also on the New Bilton War Memorial, by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road, which states ‘In the Great War these died for England 1914-1919’.  The family were Roman Catholic and John – and his brother, Lawrence – are remembered at St. Marie’s Church, Rugby, ‘To the Memory of the Men of this Congregation who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918 …’.

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914 Star.

His mother received his outstanding pay of £13-15-2d on 13 March 1919 and his War Gratuity of £25-10s on 2 January 1920.

John Martin’s younger brother, Lawrence [or Lawrence] Alfred Martin, also served and was killed in action with the 6th Battalion, the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.  He died on 12 September 1916.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on John Joseph MARTIN 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]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-20, Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line, 3rd Cavalry Div., 6th Cavalry Brig., 10th Prince of Wales Hussars, March 1918 – March 1919, TNA ref: WO 95/1153.

[2]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/martin-lawrence-alfred-died-12th-sep-1916/.

 

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Colston, Ernest Henry. Died 20th Jun 1918

Ernest Henry COLSTON’s birth was registered in Q3, 1899 in RugbyHe was baptised on 9 August 1899 at St. Matthew’s Church, Rugby.  He was the eldest son of Henry Colston, who was born in about 1867 in Rugby, and Emily Flora, née Wheeler, Colston, who was born in Yelvertoft in about 1874.  When Ernest was baptised, his father was working as a ‘builder’s machinist’.

In 1901, his father was still a ‘machinist (woodworker)’, and the family were living at 30 Stephen Street, Rugby.  Ernest had now ‘arrived’ and was one year old.  In 1911, when Ernest was 11, his parents had been married for 12 years, and were still living in Stephen Street, but now at number 27, which may have been a renumbering by the Post Office, rather than a change of home.  Ernest now had a younger brother, Dennis William Colston, who was born on 10 September 1903, and was now seven.  Their father was still in the same type of job and was a ‘wood work machinist’ for an ‘electrical engineer’.

Unfortunately no Service Records have survived for Ernest, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby, initially as Private, No: 40386, in the Somerset Light Infantry.  He later served as a Private, No: 48555, latterly in ‘A’ Company, 5th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, more usually known as the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment was formed as part of the First New Army (K1) in Reading on 25 August 1914 and joined the 35th Brigade of the 12th Division and then moved to Shorncliffe.  In January 1915 the Battalion moved to Folkestone and then, on 1 March 1915, to Malplaquet Barracks at Aldershot.  On 31 May 1915 they mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and then engaged in various actions on the Western Front including: During …

1915: the Battle of Loos.

1916: the Battle of Albert; the Battle of Pozieres; and the Battle of Le Transloy.

1917: the First Battle of the Scarpe; the Battle of Arleux; the Third Battle of the Scarpe; and the Cambrai operations.

1918: on 6 February 1918, they transferred to the 36th Brigade,[1] but were still in the 12th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front in the Battle of Bapaume; the First Battle of Arras; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert; the Battle of Epehy; and then took part in the Final Advance in Artois.

There is no date when Ernest 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.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, Ernest 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.

The Battalion War Diary until January 1918 is filed under the 35th Brigade,[2] and then from February onwards it is filed under 36th Brigade.[3]  A summary of the Battalion’s movements and actions during Ernest’s last few months is given below.

In late December 1917 the Battalion was training in the Merville area, and on 21 January 1918 relieved the 7th Bn. Royal Sussex Regiment and then on 29 January they were relieved by the 7th Norfolks, and soon after transferred to the 36th Brigade.

In February they were variously at Rouge de Bout and Fleurbaix, where the trenches were ‘very quiet’.  On about 10 March they were relieved and were at Nouveau Mond and Rely from 22 to 25 March.  Then on 24 March they marched to Burbure and went into billets in Warloy.  On 24 March they marched overnight carrying Lewis guns and ammunition and on 26 March they were constructing defences east and south of Martinsaut.  On 27 March an attack was in progress – Germans were seen advancing and rapid fire was opened – several Germans were seen to drop.  There were later a number of casualties.  The enemy was now at Aveluy.  On 28 March an attack was repulsed and the Battalion was relieved on 30 March by the 23rd London Regiment.

On 1 April the Battalion was working at Worloy under the Royal Engineers at night.  Then from 2 to 7 April they relieved the 7th Border Regiment in front of Albert.  During the earlier period they sustained 12 officer and 243 Other Rank (OR) casualties – killed, wounded or missing.  8 April was a ‘quiet day’.  Then on 9/10 April they relieved the 9th Essex in the Corps Line and on 11 April were relieved by the 15th Welsh and went back to billets in Worloy – marching via Contay to Mirvaux – and were accommodated under canvas for training.

On 23 April they returned to the front line in the Beaumont Hamel sector until the end of the month when a strong enemy attack was repulsed.

In May they were in the front line until 13 May, then went to Acheux and provided working parties and practised for a raid.  This took place on 24 May and resulted in 4 officers wounded, 12 ORs killed, 2 died of wounds, 73 wounded, and 19 missing.  21 prisoners and six machine guns were taken.  On 25 May they proceeded by bus to Beauquesne – and further training.

In early June the Battalion was training and in reserve.  On 16 June they were again at Beauquesne, and had a Church Parade, and prepared for the line.  On 17 June the Battalion started to march to the front line at 9.30a.m.  They were east of Harponville until 10p.m. when they marched to take over Front Line System Left Sector in Bouzencourt Section.   ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies were in the Front Line.  ‘All line in bad shape and very muddy and wet.  Trenches badly undercut.’

On 19 June a ‘Chinese Bombardment’[4] on the left led to ‘… heavy retaliation on our trenches … we suffered casualties’.  On that day 1 OR was killed and 7 wounded, and then on 20 June 5 ORs were killed and 7 wounded.

On 20 June, still in the Bouzincourt Sector, work continued on trenches and many trench shelters began.  It seems that ‘A’ Company had still been in the front line as on 21 June ‘Work continued. … ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies relieved by ‘C’ and ‘D’ Compaanies in front line.’

Ernest Henry Colston was killed in action on 20 June 1918, presumably in a continuation of the ‘retaliation on our trenches’ noted above.  He was 19, and killed with several other members of his Battalion who are now buried besides him.

He was buried in the Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery Extension in grave reference: IV. B. 12. 

Bouzincourt is a village 3 kilometres north-west of Albert on the road to Doullens (D938).  The Communal Cemetery is on the northern side of the village.  It is some five kms. south-west of the Theipval Memorial.

Bouzincourt was used as a field ambulance station from 1916 to February 1917.  It was in German hands for a few days in the spring of 1918.  Bouzincourt Communal Cemetery was used for burials in 1916 and again from April to June 1918.  The adjoining Cemetery Extension was begun in May 1916 and used until February 1917.  The extension was reopened from the end of March 1918 until the following September and used largely by the 38th (Welsh) Division.

Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, “Greater Love hath no man that he gave his Life for his Friends”. 

His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate

His mother, as his sole legatee, received his monies owing of £3-17-1d on 21 October 1918, and his War Gratuity of £3 on 5 December 1919.  His parents lived latterly at 82 York Street, Rugby.  His father died in 1940 and his mother in 1947.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Ernest Henry COLSTON 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]      This does mean the Battalion War Diary has to be found in two separate files under the two Brigades.

[2]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 12th Division, TNA ref: Piece 1850: 35 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[3]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Various Infantry Brigades, 12th Division, TNA ref: Piece 1856: 36 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[4]      A ‘Chinese Attack’ was the term given to a faked attack upon enemy trenches.  A preliminary artillery bombardment would be carried out.  This normally meant that an infantry assault was probable once the bombardment lifted.  However in a ‘Chinese Attack’ no infantry attack followed the lifting of the bombardment; and after allowing time for enemy to return to their trenches, the bombardment would recommence, the intention being to catch large numbers of men while they were in the open.  Chinese Attacks were also used to test reactions to a more seriously intended raid.  Ref: http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/chineseattack.htm.

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

– – – – – –

 

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.

Hickingbotham, William. Died 10th Jun 1918

William jnr (Billy) was born on 18 November 1893[1] in Rugby, but was baptised on 21 January 1894 at Bulkington, Warwickshire.  He was the son of William Hickingbotham who had also been born in Bulkington in about 1868.  In 1894, William senior was a brakesman; in 1901, a Railway Foreman Shunter, and by 1911 was working in the L&NW rail traffic department.  His marriage with Hannah Jane Elizabeth, née Pegg, was registered in Nuneaton Q3, 1891.  She was also born in Bulkington, in about 1872.

The family had presumably moved to Rugby before the end of 1893, and in 1901 and 1911 the family lived at 33 Cambridge Street Rugby.  In 1911, William junior was 17, single and a boot making apprentice.  By then he had three younger sisters and two younger brothers.

William’s Medal Card shows that he was initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private, No.4584, but later transferred to the Royal Engineers as Pioneer, No.130551.  Thirteen pages of William’s Pension Records have survived.

William initially joined the 3/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He was first attested on 16 November 1915 and ‘posted’ the same day.  He was discharged on 17 March 1916 and he re-enlisted that day in the Royal Engineers and was re-attested on 19 March 1916, at Clevedon, when he was 22 years and 4 months old.  He was 5 foot 8½ inches tall, a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair.  His father William was listed at his next of kin.

His Service Record shows that he was on Home Service from 18 to 29 March 1916.  He was posted as a Pioneer on 30 March 1916, and then posted to the British Expeditionary Force from 30 March 1916 to 8 April 1918.

During this period of service, he was ‘Wounded’, this being listed in the Weekly Casualty List in August 1917.[2]  He recovered locally without being sent back to UK, and he was in action again some time in late March or early April 1918, probably during the German assault of Operation Michael, when he was gassed by Mustard Gas.

He was evacuated back to UK on 9 April 1918 and listed as back on Home Service from that date, and posted to the ‘Royal Engineers Spec. Bde. Dept.’.  He had medical examinations regarding his condition and future pension at St Luke’s War Hospital, Halifax, on 13 and 18 April 1918.  He had been ‘Gassed sev …’, and was ‘Permanently excluded from liability for medical re-examination under the Military Service (review of exemptions) Act 1917’.  He was suffering from ‘phthisis’ [pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease] and his medical record suggests that ‘Gassed by Mustard Gas, wd. probably be the cause’.  It was suggested that this was ‘70% due to service during the war with Germany’.  Sanatorium treatment was recommended.  At Chatham on 9 May 1918, he was formally ‘Discharged, no longer physically fit for war service’.  He had ‘v.good’ military character and was awarded a ‘v.satisfactory’ character.  He received the Silver War Badge No.361456, when he was invalided out, to show he was not avoiding war service. 

It is not known to which, if any, sanatorium he was sent, however, he died just a month after his discharge, aged 24, on 10 June 1918.  He was buried at Rugby in the Clifton Road Cemetery in plot: J479.  On his CWGC headstone his parents chose to have inscribed ‘In Loving Memory of Billy Eldest Son of Wm. & H.J.E. Hickingbotham – Till We Meet Again’.  The CWGC website confirms that he ‘Died of Wounds [Gas]’.       

    

William is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and was awarded the Victory and British medals.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Hickingbotham was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, December 2017.

[1]      Information from Military Service Record.

[2]      Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry ), Tuesday, 21 August 1917.

Lee, William Thomas. Died 5th Jun 1918

William was baptised on 15th Feb 1878 at St. Andrews Parish Church Rugby and was the 3rd child of John and Elizabeth Ann Lee nee Cooke. His father was a labourer in Drury Lane.

In 1881 William was age 3, living with parents John and Eliza Ann at 16 Cambridge Street Rugby and 3 siblings, Louisa (7),  Mary Jane (5) and Emma (1). The two lodgers these were his grandparents, Thomas Cooke (56) silk weaver born Coventry & Eliza Cooke (54) also born in Coventry.

By 1888 his parents had 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls. and in 1891 William was aged 13, an errand boy living with parents at 14 Pennington Street Rugby. Three siblings, Emma (11), Richard (8) and Henry G (2)  were still at home plus lodger Elizabeth Edward (58), a widow and a tailoress, born Wolverton Bucks.

William’s father John Lee died at the end of 1892 in Rugby. He was aged 65.

Williams Short Service Attestation form tells us he joined up on 8th November 1899 and his regimental number was 7097 Royal Warwickshire Regiment 6th foot His age was given as was 19 years and 10 months although he was actually age 21. Why did he say he was younger? His occupation was a labourer. He was 5ft 4in tall, 115 lbs. His complexion was sallow and he had grey eyes and dark brown hair.

In 1901 his mother Elizabeth was living at 29 Gas Street Rugby and was a charwomen, living with her was her son Henry Lee aged 12 and 2 boarders George Lines (49) a groom domestic, born Lutterworth and Emvi Skeley (24), born Withybrook.

William served in South Africa from 28th Feb 1901 to 13th Oct 1902. He was awarded the South African Queen’s Medal with a clasp for the Transvaal. He then travelled to India with the RWR and was discharged as medically unfit on 6th Jun 1905.

His brother Henry Lee joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and in 1911 was age 22 and stationed at No.6 Regimental District of Whittington Barracks at Lichfield. We have been unable to find William in the 1911 census.

William must have been recalled to the RWR (Private, number 2386) soon after the war started as he arrived in France on 4th Jan 1915.This is confirmed by the fact that he received the 15 Star as well as the Victory and British Medals.

The 1st Bn, Royal Warwickshire Regiment fought in most of the major battles of WW1 and William was probably injured during the German Spring Offensive, Operation Michael.

William Thomas Lee died on 5th Jun 1918 and his age is given as 41, his death was at 21st Southern General Hospital Dudley Road in the All Saints District of Birmingham. He died of a Gun shot wound right ear and meningitis  the informant was M. Thomas, Matron of 21st Southern General Hospital Dudley Road and his death certificate gives his occupation as Number 2836 Private 1st Royal Warwick Regiment.

He is buried in Rugby Clifton Road Cemetery. The Graves Registration Report Form tells us he is buried in grave E47a.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Covington, Reginald Frederick. Died 22nd May 1918

Reginald Frederick COVINGTON was born in Northampton in about 1894, and his birth was registered in Q1, 1894He was the son of George Frederick Covington, born in about 1861 in Northampton, and Kate, née Westley, Covington, who was born in about 1867 in Sherrington, Buckinghamshire.  They had married on 25 December 1890 at St Michael and All Angels church, Northampton.

It seems that the family moved from Northampton to Wellingborough between 1897 and 1901, when the family was living at 9 Oxford Street, Wellingborough.  Reginald’s father was a ‘fruitier’.  The family then moved to Rugby

Before 1911 they moved again, to Rugby, and Reginald attended school at St. Matthew’s. He had been a holder of the Robertson Cup for the best all-round athlete in the school.[1] When Reginald was 17, the family were living in a six room house at 28 North Street, Rugby.  He had two younger sisters.  His father was a ‘Fruitierer & Confectioner’, and he was working as a ‘Compositor’ – later he would work for the family business and managed his father’s branch shop in Lawford Road.

It is uncertain when he joined up, although an obituary stated that he ‘… joined the army … in the early days of the War.’[2]  He joined up as a Gunner, No.1160, in the Royal Field Artillery – Territorial Force, and at a later date, but prior to September/October 1917, he was renumbered as No:840787.

It seems that he did not go to France until at least late 1915, as he did not receive the 1914-1915 Star, but he was certainly in France prior to September/October 1917, as he was wounded and/or gassed as mentioned in two local papers.

In September 1917, the ‘Local War Notes’ reported
Bombardier Reg Covington, R.F.A, son of Mr Richard[3] Covington, has been gassed during the recent fighting.[4]

It was probably the same occurrence that was reported in October 1917, in the Coventry Evening Telegraph,
Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties.
Wounded … Covington, 840787, Gnr. R., Rugby, R.F.A.[5]

An official Casualty List in October also listed him a ‘Wounded’ under the Royal Field Artillery listing.[6]

It seems that he was sent back to England for treatment, but returned to France in about early 1918.  The CWGC record states that he was latterly in the ‘D’ Battery of the 275th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

The 275th (1/1st West Lancashire) Brigade RFA Territorial Force was based at Windsor Barracks, Spekeland Street, Liverpool.  The Brigade came under the orders of the West Lancashire Division.  The divisional artillery crossed to France, landing at Le Havre on 1 October 1915.

The West Lancashire Division, now titled the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, was ordered to re-form in France and the artillery rejoined it at Hallencourt between 2 and 4 January 1916.  A new “D” Battery was formed for the Brigade on 7 May 1916.  There were later various reorganisations as the batteries were switched around.

In 1918, the 55th Division relieved the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February.  Here, it faced numerous strong enemy attacks in March 1918.

Whilst the front had been comparatively quiet, an attack was anticipated and on 21 March 1918, the Germans 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.

Early April was comparatively quieter, but it was a lull before a storm, with the Division involved in the Battle of Estaires (9-11 April) including the Defence of Givenchy (9-17 April) and the Battle of Hazebrouck (12-15 April), the latter two being phases of the Battles of the Lys.

The Defence of Givenchy was to become the single most famous action fought by the Division.  ‘It was afterwards publicly stated by an officer of the German General Staff that the stand made by the Division on April 9th and the days which followed marked the final ruination of the supreme German effort of 1918’, says the Divisional history.

The 275th RFA Brigade Diary gives information on their various actions in April and May, but there do not seem to be any specific large scale actions at and just before Reginald died of his wounds.

The 275th Artillery Group was in the line in early April and on 9 April, the ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Batteries of the 275th were moved back section by section.  On 10 April there was considerable hostile bombardment which included about 10% of gas shells of various types.  In spite of attacks, it seems the German advances on Givenchy and Festubert were driven back and indeed some 700 prisoners were taken.  On 25/26 April, the 164th Infantry Brigade attacked Givenchy to re-establish the old line.  The 275th put down smoke and shrapnel to cover one of the flanks.  The 55th Division were congratulated on their fine work during this battle.

There is less information recorded for May, and Reg was probably wounded, possibly by German counter-battery shelling, sometime in April or May.  If earlier, he might have been expected to have been evacuated further to a base hospital, so it was probably about mid-May.

Reginald’s Medal Card states that he ‘Died of Wounds’ on 22 May 1918 and the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects stated that he died at the ‘2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance’,[7] France.  Their movements may provide some further information on Reginald’s location.

The 2/1st Wessex Field Ambulance, was largely a Devonshire unit but was attached to the 55th West Lancashire Division from January 1916 to November 1918.  In April 1918 they were in the area La Basse/Givenchy and near Bethune on 9 April 1918, and had an Advanced Dressing Station just behind Givenchy during the German attacks of April 1918.

The RAMC War Diary for the 55th Division provides details of the movement orders for the 2/1st Wessex Field ambulance, and during the month they were moved to some ten different locations in response to the German assaults.

During May the 2/1st Wessex Field Ambulance quartered around Drouvin, and it seems likely that Reginald died of his wounds at the Field Ambulance there on 22 May 1918 and was buried in the nearby Houchin British CemeteryHis body was buried in grave ref: I. B. 18.   Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, his family’s message, ‘Though Far Away to Memory Ever Dear’ would be inscribed upon it.

Houchin is a village situated between Barlin and Bethune, about 5 kilometres south of Bethune. Houchin British Cemetery was opened in March 1918 when the 6th Casualty Clearing Station came to Houchin.  From April to September the German advance made Houchin unsafe for hospitals, and the cemetery was used by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division.

In June 1918, the Rugby Advertiser reported,
Gunner Reginald Covington.  Mr G F Covington, of North Street, has received news that his only son, Gunner Reg Covington, R.F.A. died of wounds received in action on May 22nd.  He was 23 years of age, and joined the army – prior to which he managed his father’s branch shop in Lawford Road – in the early days of the War.  Towards the end of last year he was badly gassed, but he returned to France a few months ago.  An old St. Matthew’s boy, he was at one time the holder of the Robertson Cup for the best all-round athlete in the school.[8]

The Coventry Evening Telegraph also reported his death in June 1918,
Roll of Honour, Coventry and District Casualties Died of Wounds
… Covington, 840787, Gnr. R., Rugby, R.F.A [9]

An official Casualty List in July also confirmed that he ‘Died of Wounds’ under the Royal Field Artillery listing.[10]

Reginald Frederick COVINGTON is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  His Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His mother, Kate, as sole Legatee, received his back-pay of £6-7-1d on 28 August 1918, and his War Gratuity of £13-10s on 9 December 1919.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Reginald Frederick COVINGTON 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]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[3]      This would seem to be in error, there are no other Reg Covingtons with a father Richard.

[4]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/29th-sep-1917-blackberry-picking/, and Rugby Advertiser, 29 September 1917.

[5]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 19 October 1917.

[6]      Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry), Tuesday, 23 October 1917.

[7]      2/1 Wessex Field Ambulance, a file is available at TNA ref: WO 95/2919/1, 1916 Jan. – 1919 Apr., and various information can be found on Google.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 1 June 1918.

[9]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Thursday, 27 June 1918.

[10]     Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry), Tuesday, 2 July 1918.

Reynolds, John Henry. Died 8th May 1918

John Henry Reynolds was born in Rugby in 1882 and baptised at St Matthews Church on 1st August the same year. His parents were William Albion Reynolds and Sarah Jane (nee French).

In 1891 John Henry was age 8 and living with parents and 3 siblings, at 3 Orton Court off Dunchurch Road Rugby. His father William age 35 was a labourer with the Board of Health. By 1901 the family was living at 26 West Leys, but John Henry was not with them. We have not been able to find his location.

On 8th February 1903 John Henry Reynolds, labourer, age 20 married Ann Norman, age 22 at St. Matthews Church, Rugby, and in 1911 he was a labourer with a coal merchants, living at 9 Little Elborow Street, Rugby with his wife Ann and son John, aged 3. A second son was born in 1912 but died the following year.

On 8th December 1915 enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment Reserve (number 19747). He was mobilised on 10th June 1916 and landed in France on 10th Oct 1916 with the 1st Bn R.W.R. A week later he joined the 2nd/7th Bn and was given the number 20309. He was 5ft 5½in tall, and aged 33yrs 4mths.

On 1st Mar 1917 he was allocated a new (and final) number 268059.

During 1917 he would have taken part in the Operations on the Ancre, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck and The German counter attacks.

The anticipated attack by the Germans, Operation Michael was launched on 21 March 1918, 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.

Thus commenced the Battle of St Quentin and the Actions at the Somme Crossings.  The 61st (2nd South Midland) Division was holding the forward zone of defences in the area northwest of Saint Quentin in the area of Ham and lost many men as it fought a chaotic, but ultimately successful, withdrawal back over the Somme crossings over the next ten days.

In the initial clash, the South Midland Division faced three enemy Divisions and only began to retire on the afternoon of 22 March, when ordered to do so, in consequence of the enemy’s progress in other parts of the line.

On marching out on 21 March, the Battalion had comprised 21 Officers and 556 Other Ranks.  In the period to the end of March, there were 30 Officer casualties (some additional officers had joined in the period) and 488 Other Ranks casualties.

The remnants of the exhausted Battalion – and the 61st Division – were transferred from the XVIII Corps on 10 April 1918.  Lt. General Ivor Maxey wrote a message of congratulations to the 61st Division, which had ‘… established for itself a high reputation for its fighting qualities and its gallant spirit …’.

The Battalion was moved north to a quieter part of the line near Bethune.  On 10 March 1918 the Battalion went to St Roche via Amiens, and then entrained for Berguette which was further north and where they arrived at 10.30pm.  They became involved in the Battle of Estaires, and then on 11 March, they took up positions to the rear of the Robecq-Calonne Road, and were involved in the Battle of Hazebrouck (12–15 April), when their positions south of Merville were captured.

On 12 March the enemy were active and by 10.30am all that remained of the 2nd/6th RWR were withdrawn though the line to a support line.  On 13 April, the British artillery was more effective and the line was being held, with troops back in the old line and reoccupying houses.  That night they were relieved by the 2nd/6th RWR and returned to Hamet Billet for breakfast.

Several other Rugby men in the 2nd/6th and 2nd/7th Battalion RWR were killed in the period from 11 to 14 April, during this second major German attack, on this ‘quieter part of the line’

On 14 April 1918, during this second major German attack, on the ‘quieter part of the line’, John Henry Reynolds was ‘wounded in action’ with GSW (gunshot wound) to Knee.  [For more information see the biography of George Edgar White who died on the same day]

He was evacuated from the front line and by 30th April he had returned to England. He was sent to Mill Road Hospital, Liverpool, by which time he was also suffering from Gastritis. He died there at 12.45 am on 8th May 1918.

He is buried in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby. The inscription provided by his family reads
“JESU LOVER OF MY SOUL, LET ME TO THY BOSOM FLY”

John Henry Reynolds was awarded the British Way and Victory medals and his widow was awarded a pension of 20/5 per week.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM