Sharman, Percy John. Died 1st Apr 1918

Percy John SHARMAN was born in Rugby in about 1892. He was the son of Sherwin Sharman, who was born in Kings Cross, London in about 1870 and worked as a joiner, and Florence Annie Landon née Branston, Sharman, who was born in Napton on the Hill, Warwickshire, in late 1869 and later lived at Marton. They were married at some date after their last banns were called on 14 June 1891 at Frankton, Warwickshire.

In 1901 the family were living at 25 Queen Street Rugby, and they were still living there in 1911. Percy was then 19 and an ‘Iron Moulder (learner)’  living with his family.   His younger brother, Albert Sidney Sharman, who was 18, was a ‘machine hand’ and would later join up as No.19849 in the Gloucestershire Regiment. There are surviving Pension Records for Sidney, who joined up aged 22 years and six months on 12 May 1915, joined the BEF, wounded in the hand, and survived the war, serving until 1919.

There are no surviving military Service Records for Percy. He joined up as No.S/1289, Rifleman P. J. Sharman in the 11th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. He would later be promoted to Lance-Corporal. His Medal Card shows that he went to France on 21 July 1915

The 11th (Service) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was formed at Winchester in September 1914 as part of K2 and came under command of the 59th Brigade in the 20th (Light) Division. They moved to Blackdown, going on in February 1915 to Witley and then in April to Hamilton Camp (Stonehenge). On 21 July 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne which is also the date given on Percy’s Medal Card for his arrival in France – so he landed in France with his battalion.

In 1916 he is recorded as a rifleman in the 11th Battalion Roll Book of NCOs and Men, and the Battalion was engaged in various actions on the Western front: the Battle of Guillemont in 1916 and the attacks on Steenbeek, and on Rue Des Vignes in 1917.

On 20 November 1917, after the actions earlier in the Battle of 3rd Ypres, the 11th Battalion were part of the British Third Army which launched an attack towards Cambrai. The method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment.   Instead, a large number of tanks were used in significant force. However, having started well, with large gains of ground being made, the German reserves brought the advance to a halt. Ten days later, a German counter-attack regained much of the ground.

On 5 February 1918, the 11th were reinforced by some of the men from the 10th Battalion which had been disbanded near La Clytte. The 11th Battalion was then heavily involved with various actions, in particular, the various defences against Operation Michael.

In the spring of 1918, a German attack had long been predicted and it was finally delivered in the early hours of 21 March 1918. It came after an intense artillery bombardment and the strength of the infantry attack was overwhelming. Within hours, the British Army was undertaking a desperate fighting retreat along a wide front. .[1]

The 20th (Light) Division, which included the 11th Battalion was heavily engaged in the Battle of St Quentin, which was the start of the German assault, Operation Michael. The Germans launched a major offensive against the British Fifth Army, and the right wing of the British Third Army. 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 actions of Operation Michael have already been described in some detail.

There is a slight uncertainty as to the actual date of Percy’s death, so it may be that in addition to the Battle of St Quentin, he may have been involved in the subsequent actions at the Somme crossings and the Battle of Rosieres.   Possibly he was wounded and captured and died in German hands.

His exact date of death may have been ‘presumed’. His Medal Card notes ‘Acc as Dead’ i.e. Accepted as Dead. An earlier record on one of the CWGC documents suggests that his date of death was 20 March 1918. It was later recorded by the CWGC as being 1 April 1918. Percy was 26 years old.

By 1 April 1918, the 11th Battalion was pulling out of the front line having suffered very heavy casualties in the various rearguard actions. Percy was not listed as killed or wounded on the extensive lists enclosed with the Battalion War Diary, although the lists may not be complete. He may have been missing or wounded and buried by the Germans. The date of death may signify the date that the 11th pulled back.

Percy was originally buried with [at least] seven others at Map Reference (M.R.): 66D C23c 9-2. These soldiers were later ‘concentrated’ [disinterred, moved and reburied] in September 1919 from that smaller ‘cemetery’ to the Pargny British Cemetery, Somme, France, at M.R. 66D C16c 2-2. Percy’s body was identified by his identity disc/s and he was reburied at Pargny in grave ref: II. E. 17. No additional inscription was added to his memorial by the family.

Pargny is a village about 15 kilometres south of Peronne, which is between Amiens and Saint-Quentin. The British Cemetery is one kilometre south of the village.   The Cemetery was made after the Armistice, by concentrations from the surrounding battlefields and from the Pargny German Cemetery, which was a little way North-East of Pargny Church, and contained the graves of 32 soldiers from the United Kingdom. The majority of the burials in this cemetery are those of officers and men of the 61st (South Midland) and 8th Divisions [and in Percy’s case, the 20th Division], whose resistance at the Somme crossings on 24 March 1918, materially helped to delay the German advance.

Percy John SHARMAN was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby and on his family’s grave at Plot H171, at the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Percy John SHARMAN 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, January 2018.

[1]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/topic/76794-27th-batt-manchester-regiment/, by ‘John_Hartley’.

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Morris, Richard. Died 30th Nov 1917

Richard W MORRIS was born at Newbold in 1894, the son of Richard W Morris (b.c.1862 at Harborough Magna, Warwickshire,) and his wife, Fanny, née Walker, Morris, who had married at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 7 October 1886, when he was living at 780 Old Station, Rugby, and she was also living in ‘Old Station’.

By 1901, when Richard was 7 years old, the family had moved to live at Newbold and his father was a labourer at a ‘cement works’. By 1911 the family was living at 86 Abbey Street, Rugby.   Richard’s father was now a ‘Blacksmith’s Striker’ at the ‘BTH Works’ and Richard was the fourth of six children aged between 13 and 24, who were all living at home – three of his siblings had died before 1911. Richard was a ‘labourer’ and like his father was also at the ‘BTH Works’.

There are no extant military Service Records, only Richard’s Medal Card which shows that he went into the French ‘theatre of war’ on 16 June 1915. He had joined up as No.Z/258, Rifleman R. Morris in the 11th Battalion [Bn.] of the Rifle Brigade.   However he doesn’t appear to be under that name or number in the December 1915 to January 1916 Roll Book.

The 11th (Service) Battalion of the Rifle Brigade was formed at Winchester in September 1914 as part of K2 and came under command of the 59th Brigade in the 20th (Light) Division. They moved to Blackdown, going on in February 1915 to Witley and then in April to Hamilton Camp (Stonehenge). On 21 July 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne which appears to be a month or so after Richard is recorded as having arrived in France – maybe he was initially in another unit.

On 20 November 1917, after having taken part in various actions earlier in the Battle of 3rd Ypres, the 11th Battalion were part of the British Third Army which launched an attack towards Cambrai. The method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, a large number of tanks were used in significant force. However, having started well, with large gains of ground being made, the German reserves brought the advance to a halt. Ten days later, a counter-attack regained much of the ground.

It was probably during this German counter-attack that Richard Morris was killed in action on 30 November 1917. His Medal Card declares that he was ‘Acc[epted] as Dead’ as his body was either never found or never identified. He is remembered with his fellow Riflemen on Panels 10 and 11 of the Cambrai Memorial which is located an elevated terrace in the Louverval Military Cemetery, Louveral, France, 11 kms north of Arras. The monument commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen from Britain and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai and whose graves are not known.

Richard MORRIS was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’; and on the BTH War Memorial.[1]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

[1]       The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.

Lane, Bertram Charles. Died 13th Oct 1917

An Apology – this article was originally scheduled to be posted on 9 November 2017, but the subsequent discovery of an article in the Rugby Advertiser published today, showed that Bertram Lane died somewhat earlier than originally believed. That article also provided some further information which allowed the biography to be updated before its tardy publication.

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Bertram Charles LANE was born in Watford in 1892/3, near Rugby, but in Northamptonshire. His birth was registered in Q1, 1893 in Daventry [3b, 113].   He was baptised on 26 February 1893 in Watford. His father was a ‘wagoner’.

He was the third of three sons of William and Fanny, née Collett, Lane, and he also had two younger sisters. His parents were both from Kingham in Oxfordshire and had married in mid 1888, and had moved to Watford before 1889 when their first son was born.   In 1901 they were living in Home Lane, Watford and William was a ‘Timber wagoner’

Bertram’s father died before 1911, when Bertram was with his widowed mother and the family and they were living at 76 Bath Street, Rugby. He was then working as a ‘clerk’ for an ‘electrical engineering company’, probably BTH, as just before the war he was working in the BTH Drawing Office.

A later memorial notice suggested that he joined up ‘… at the beginning of the War, …’[1] This was not clear in the Service Records that survive for Bertram. He enlisted as a Rifleman, No.Z2331 in the Rifle Brigade.

It is not known into which Battalion he was initially posted.   However, the date of 30 April 1915 on one Medal Card, for his Silver War Badge, was probably his last date on ‘Home Service’, as he went to France on 1 May 1915. Three Battalions of the Rifle Brigade all went to France in May, and it seems likely that Bertram was in either the 7th, 8th or 9th Service Battalion which were in the 41st, 41st and 42nd Brigades respectively and all in the 14th (Light) Division.

The 7th, 8th and 9th Service Battalions were all formed in Winchester on 21 August 1914, went to Aldershot, moved elsewhere for training and then back to Winchester. In May 1915 they moved to France and landed at Boulogne. At some date Bertram was promoted to Lance-Corporal.   In 1915 the three Battalions were all involved when the Germans made their gas attack at Hooge, and the 9th Bn. also took part in the Battle of Loos. In 1916, the 7th and 9th Bns., took part in the Battle of Delville Wood (15 July – 3 September 1916), and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 – 22 September 1916), both during the Battle of the Somme – the 8th Bn. was also involved at Flers-Courcelette.

A later article records ‘…On September 11, 1916, he was severely wounded in the head by shrapnel, and after spending a considerable time in a base hospital in France and King George’s Hospital, London, …’.[2]   This suggests that he was wounded during the constant ongoing actions and shelling on the Somme, between the dates of the above two main battles.

He survived, and as confirmed above, would have been evacuated through the casualty clearing system, to a French Base Hospital and then to UK. On 25 April 1917 he was discharged under ‘King’s Regulations Para 392 (xvi) – No longer physically fit for service – Wounds’.   A note on his Medal Card refers to ‘see B E Lane for SWB’ – that was the Silver War Badge which was awarded to injured soldiers who could no longer serve and this avoided the harassment that was received by those men out of uniform that the public thought should be joining up and serving their country.

Bertram Charles Lane was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. His War Medal had to be returned for correction as it had been incorrectly stamped. As mentioned, he also held the Silver War Badge as he had been wounded.

Bertram had ‘… enjoyed fairly good health until a fortnight before his death, …’ which occurred on Saturday, 13 October 1917, at St Cross Hospital, Rugby,[3] his death being registered in Q4 1917 [Rugby, 6d, 681]. He was 24, ‘the son of Mrs. Lane, Eardaley House, Bath Street’. He was buried in grave ref: J552 at Clifton Road Cemetery.[4] As he had died later and in UK, it seems that his grave was not marked nor his death listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, although he probably should have been on the CWGC lists as he was reported to have ‘died as a result of wounds received in action’ and he should perhaps still be included.[5]

Bertram Charles Lane was also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby; on the BTH List of ‘Employees Who Served’; and on the BTH War Memorial.[6]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Bertram Charles Lane 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]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 20 October 1917.

[4]       From a list of names on the RFHG CD of Monumental Inscriptions and the RFHG website.

[5]         http://www.infromthecold.org/war_grave_criteria.asp

[6]       The List is that published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921.

Reynolds, George Ellis. Died 31st Jul 1917

George Ellis Reynolds –
By kind permission of Claire Heckley

George Ellis Reynolds was born in Pinders Lane, Rugby on 20 July 1894, and baptised at St Andrews Church on 22 September. In 1901 he was the youngest child aged seven living at 61 James Street, Rugby with his parents Thomas and Mary Ann Reynolds (nee Wells) and siblings Thomas (22), Alice (17), Kate (16), Rose (14), Georgina (13), Louisa (9) and Annie (10). His father Thomas was an engine driver (stationery).

In 1911 George was 17, an upholsterer, living at 100 Oxford Street with his parents and sisters Kate, Annie and Louisa.

The Rugby Advertiser of 18 August 1917 notes that he enlisted in September 1914 and that previously he worked as an upholsterer for Sam Robbins Ltd. He was an Old Murrayan and a keen footballer, playing for both Rugby and Northampton.

George joined the 2nd Rifle Brigade as no Z/2327, and had risen to the rank of Sergeant by the time of his death on 31 July 1917 during the third battle of Ypres. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres and recorded by the Army and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission simply as George.

He is mentioned on his parent’s grave in Clifton Road Cemetery as well as on the Rugby Memorial Gates. He was killed twelve days before his elder brother Thomas Henry Reynolds (qv).

He was awarded the British Empire and Victory medals and the 1915 Star – he had been posted to France on 16 March 1915 where his Battalion was heavily involved in the attack on Fromelles in May during the Battle of Aubers Ridge.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Thompson, Leonard. Died 3rd May 1917

Leonard Thompson was born in Rugby around 1898. We have been unable to find a birth registration although six of his seven siblings were registered in Rugby. The eldest, Daisy was born in Penge, Surrey around 1891.

Leonard’s father was Charles Thompson born around 1870 in Maids Moreton, near Buckingham. His mother was Lily (nee Hughes) from Ely in Cambridgeshire. It is not known when and where they married – the 1911 census stated they had been married for 22 years. At that time the family was living at 12 Union Street, Rugby. Charles was a groom with polo ponies and Lily a shopkeeper. Three daughters worked at the Electric Lamp factory and 17 year old Charles jnr. was a groom, perhaps with his father. Leonard (13) and the rest of the children were at school; a later report said that he had attended St Matthews School.

Leonard joined up in June 1915. He was one of 25 men listed in the Rugby Advertiser of 5th of that month as having been recruited. Leonard joined the 9th Bn Rifle Brigade (No. S/12635). It is not known when he arrived in France (his medal roll index card has not been found) but would have fought in many of the battles on the western front in 1916.

At the beginning of May 1917 the Rifle Brigade was preparing to take part in the Battle of Bullecourt, the final phase of the Battle of Arras. A report found in the War Diaries gives the details:

By midnight 2/3.5.17, the Battalion were all formed up in the Assembly Trenches where tea and rum were issued.

At Zero – 10 the first wave left the front Assembly Trenches, and lined up on the tape 250 yards towards and parallel to the objective.

At Zero + 42 minutes the second wave left the front Assembly Trenches.

No report was ever received from the Coys in the first wave, communication to these Coys after daylight being impossible. Eight of these Coy runners became casualties.

The first wave evidently bore too much to the Right, and struck the new Boche trench. This was wired and held by the enemy…

The first wave, with the exception of some moppers up who found an abandoned Boche Machine Gun which they stripped, had passed on in advance of this trench by Zero + 40.

From accounts from survivors the line carried on in spite of heavy casualties from enfilade Machine Gun fire, but few, if any, ever reached the rear of HILL SIDE WORK.

All the Officers of the first wave – total 8 – appear to have become casualties very early in the day, some being wounded several times…

The second wave went over the line and kept their direction, leaving the Wiggle just to their left, then bringing up their right shoulder, thus avoiding the valley which was prohibited as a line of advance.

Owing to it then being lighter, this wave came under Machine Gun fire sooner than the first wave and also came up against Machine Gun positions which had been established after or missed in the dark by the first wave, in addition to enfilade fire from across the valley.

The second wave was finally held up just in front of SPOTTED DOG Trench which was held by the enemy, and dug in in a line of shell holes about 600 to 700 yards in front of APE Trench.

No one, with exception possibly of individuals, actually got into SPOTTED DOG…

Those (in the shell holes) were subjected to a succession of vane bombs and egg bombs, while Machine Guns prevented any movement.

Later orders were received to withdraw but contact was made with only two platoons.

On the night of 4/5.5.17 2/Lt Round who had organised and held a strong point with 12 men, sent back for more bombs. The party was recalled.

During the night of 5/6.5.17, Rf, Atkins got back from a shell-hole where he had been guarding 2 wounded men, one of whom he brought back.

The report continues with a list of “reasons for failure”. There is a carefully typed list of “Casualties by Companies” with percentages. In the first wave, “A” Coy suffered 75%, “B” 53%, “C” 73% and “D” 70%. Of the second wave, the rest of  “D” Coy 48% and “B” 54%

Leonard Thompson would have been amongst these casualties. A short paragraph in the Rugby Advertiser of 16th June 1917 states that he had been missing since May 4th.

His body was never found and his name is listed on the Arras Memorial. He was aged 20.

It appears that Charles Thompson died in late 1915, aged 50. Leonard’s gratuity was paid to his mother Lily.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Note: The man on the Rugby Memorial Gates is listed as L Thompson. There is another man, Levy Thompson, who died on 23rd September 1917. It is not known which of them the inscription is intended to represent. We will be remembering both.

 

 

 

Bradby, Daniel Edward. Died 9th Apr 1917

Daniel Edward Bradby was born in the summer of 1896 in Rugby. The first son of Rugby schoolmaster Henry Christopher Bradby and Violet Alice Bradby (nee Milford). He was baptised at Rugby parish church – St. Andrew’s – on 5 September 1896. Their address being 11 Hillmorton Road.

He had three siblings. Matthew Seymour Bradby, Royal Naval officer (1899 – 11 June 1963), Robert Christopher Bradby, publisher (18 January 1905 – 16 December 1982), Edward Lawrence Bradby, schoolmaster (15 March 1907 – 20 August 1996) and Anne Barbara Bradby (30 July 1912 – 15 October 2001). By April 1899 the family were living at 46 Church Street, Rugby. Before 1911 to after 1918 Henry C Bradby and family lived at ‘School Field’, near the head of Barby Road – a Rugby School property. Edward Henry Bradby – grand-father of Daniel – had been a schoolmaster at the (then) recently formed Haileybury College, Hertfordshire.

Daniel was educated at Rugby Public School. He was in School House, an able cricketer and footballer, he was a member of the Rugby School cricket XX. Also a member of the school’s Officers’ Training Corps. He left a the end of the autumn term, 1914, with a commission in the Army. Rank made up to temporary Lieutenant (from 2nd Lieut.), effective 16 Sept. 1916. Then temporary Captain (from Lieut.), effective 16 Oct. 1916.

As a 20 year old at the date of his death he was a Captain and Battalion Acting Adjutant, leading ‘B’ Company, 9th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade – part of the 42nd Infantry Brigade.

On the 24 March (1917) the Battalion was relieved from the trenches by the 8th Rifle Brigade and moved to Arras for rest. The next move was on 29 March to billets at Fosseux until 4 April when they moved in ‘full marching order’ to the caves at Ronville. Operations against the Germans were then made between the 5th and 11th April. Bradby was killed on the 9th leading part of ‘B’ Company in an attack on position where two machine guns were set. A further attack led by Captain J M Buckley and eight other ranks was successful. Sixty Germans and the two machine guns were captured. Lieut H M Smith and 15 other ranks were wounded. Capt Buckley was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts.

The London Gazette cites
“Temp. Capt. Joseph Michael Buckley, Rif.Bde.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led two companies in the most gallant manner, and was largely responsible for the success of the operations. He gained his objective, capturing sixty prisoners and two machine-guns.”

Bradby was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and 1915 Star. He is buried at the Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines.

You, whose forebodings have been all fulfilled,
You who have heard the bell, seen the boy stand
Holding the flimsy message in his hand
While through your heart the fiery question thrilled
‘Wounded or killed, which, which?’-and it was ‘Killed-‘
And in a kind of trance have read it, numb
But conscious that the dreaded hour was come,
No dream this dream wherewith your blood was chilled-
Oh brothers in calamity, unknown
Companions in the order of black loss,
Lift up your hearts, for your are not alone,
And let our sombre hosts together bring
Their sorrows to the shadow of the Cross
And learn the fellowship of suffering.

Henry Christopher Bradby – April 1918

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

Wilkins, Albert E. Died 4th Apr 1917

Albert Edward Wilkins was born 11th May 1898 and baptised 27th July 1898 at The Holy Trinity Church, Oxford, the fifth son to John Henry and Sarah Ann Wilkins. They were living at 50 Friars Street, Oxford at the time of Albert’s baptism, and Albert’s father was working as a labourer. Albert’s parents had married 5th August 1890, at Holy Trinity. His mother’s maiden name was Kempton, and John and Sarah were both living at 1 Dale Street Oxford.   John and Sarah had other sons before Albert: -: –
John born 2nd December 1890, Buried 14th January 1, 2 years old
William born 1st May 1892, Buried 21 January 1893 10 months
Ernest Vincent private baptism 11th September 1894, Buried 29 September 1894, 29 days old
Frederick Baptised 22nd July 1896 Buried 17th December 1896, 6 months old
John and William were being buried 7 days apart.

29th August 1893 daughter Lizzie was born and was baptised 8th October 1893.   Lizzie and Albert and Lizzie both survived infancy and appear on the 1901 census with their mother and father and are living at 26 Bridport Street, St Ebbs, Oxford and their father is working as a general Labourer.

Unfortunately Albert’s mother, Sarah, died March 1903, aged 33 years, and was buried 13th March at Holy Trinity Oxford. Albert would have been 4 years old, and his sister Lizzie 9 years old. Albert then went to live with his grandmother, Fanny Kempton, who had been living nearby the family on the 1891 census. By 1911 Albert is with his grandmother in Rugby.   According to the 1911 census Albert is living at 19 King Edward Road, Rugby, with his grandmother, an uncle, Albert Kempton and a cousin Beatrice Evelyn Tedder. Albert is at school and Beatrice is at a Hosiery Factory.   Albert later worked for the B. T. H. was in the Generator Department. He enlisted in 1914 as reported in the Rugby Advertiser 28th April 1917. Albert was killed in action 4th April 1917.

“BUGLER A E WILKINS”
“News has been received that Bugler A. E. Wilkins, of the Rifle Brigade, was killed on April 4th. Bugler Wilkins at the age of 20 enlisted on September 4th 1914. Prior to the war he was employed in the Generator Department at the B. T. H., and resided with his grandmother, Mrs Kempton, of 19 King Edward Road, Rugby.”

Albert’s Brigade was, probably, at the fighting on the Hindenburg Line in France at the time of his death. There is an error in the Rugby Advertiser notice, it states that he enlisted aged 20 years but that was his age at the time of his death, he would have been 16 years old when he enlisted. When he was killed his father was still living in Oxford at 11 Friars Wharf St Ebbs Oxford. Albert would have been entitled to receive the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. He is buried in France in the Fins New British Cemetery, Sol-Le-Grande , Grave Reference I. AA. 17.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM