Newman, William Henry. Died 28th Sep 1918

‘A H Newman’ appears on the Rugby Memorial Gates, however, there does not appear to be any relevant casualty with Rugby connections with that surname and initials.

Two possible ‘H’ Newmans were mentioned in September 1914: an ‘H H Newman’ was in a list of men from the Locomotive Department of the L & N-W Railway at Rugby;[1] and an ‘H Newman’ joined up from the Cambridge Street Wesleyan Bible Class.[2]   The death of the wife of a 2nd Lt C J Newman of Henley Street, was reported in July 1918.[3]  There was a ‘J E Newman, 220th Fortress Co, R.E.’ who joined up in 1916,[4] also, a Drummer W Newman, of the ‘Rugby Infantry Co, younger son of Mr C Newman, of Benn Street, Rugby,’ and who was also mentioned in the ‘7th Battery Royal Warwickshire Regiment, brother to Mr C J Newman, architect, of Rugby’ or in the ‘‘C’ Company, 1st/7th Warwicks’ and who appeared in several press reports – albeit the regiment and relationships may have been confused – indeed was it he reported as ‘R.W.R, … and C E Newman’?  It seems that a ‘C J Newman’ may himself have served later.  George William Newman, of 7 Houston Road, Brownsover, Rugby, who was also born about 1895, served as a Driver No. 840763 in the Royal Field Artillery, was discharged unfit with a head wound in November 1917.  However, there is no evidence that any of these died in the war.

The most likely candidate would seem to be a ‘W H Newman’ for whom a casualty report appeared in 1918.
… and Private W. H. Newman, Royal Berks Regt, has died of wounds.[5]

The CWGC site names him as the ‘Son of Mr. and Mrs. Newman, of 37, Campbell St., New Bilton, Rugby.’

William Henry NEWMAN was probably born in early 1895 in Long Ditton, Surrey, as he was baptised there on 14 July 1895 at St Mary’s church.  He was the eldest son of William Henry Spencer Newman, who was born in about 1866 in East Coker, Somerset, and Emily Ann, née Spooner, Newman, who was born in Surbiton Hill, Surrey in about 1867.  When Ernest was baptised, his father was working as a ‘labourer’.  His parents had been married on 26 December 1891 at St. Mary’s church, Long Ditton, Surrey

Soon after his birth, sometime between 1896 and 1899, the family moved from Long Ditton to Rugby, and in 1901, when William H junior was five years old, the family were living at 7 Windsor Street, Rugby.  His father was a ‘labourer in foundry’.

In 1911, William junior’s parents had been married for 19 years and had had five children, all of whom were still living.  They lived in a six room house at 29 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby.  With his father working as an ‘iron moulder’, 15 year old William junior, was an ‘Iron Moulders Apprentice’, probably working with his father.  A later report[6] noted that he was formerly employed at Willans & Robinson’s.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for William, but he joined up, and served, at least latterly, as a Private, No: 43077, in the 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:

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,[7] 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 William went to France, but it would probably have been some time after he joined up as he would have had to be trained.  However, he would have been old enough to serve overseas from the start of the war and he probably could have gone to France with his Battalion.  However, he was not awarded the 1914-1915 Star, and this suggests he did not go to France until after 1915.

Whilst he may have been involved in some of the actions outlined above, it is only the actions in 1918 and around the time of his death that are detailed here.

Whilst it was fairly quiet at the start of 1918, William 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;[8] 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,[9] and then from February onwards it is filed under 36th Brigade.[10]   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.

Their activities in the period March to June 1918 were described in Rugby Remembers under the biography of Ernest COLSTON who was also in the 5th Battalion and killed on 20 June 1918.

A summary of the Battalion’s movements and actions during William’s last few months, based on the 5th Battalion War Diary, is given below.

From 1 September the Battalion had been ‘resting and refitting after CARNOY operations, in valley, W. of MARICOURT.’  Over the next two days they moved to trenches around ST-PIERRE VAST WOOD.  On 5 September, they moved on through a gas shelled area to MUNASTIR, ready ‘… to attack village of NURLU at 8-0am … orders miscarried and rations lost the Battalion …’.  On 5 September at 4-0am ‘Battalion moved over Canal at MOISLAINS … and attacked village at 8-0am under cover of Creeping Barrage.  The next day they held the line and the following morning were ‘… withdrawn to NURLU … Cookers were waiting as arranged, with breakfasts’.

From 7 to 17 September they were training and refitting for future operations.  The rest of the month is reported in detail in a three page typed report.  A major attack on EPEHY took place on 18 September with follow up action the next day.  After a day’s relief, they formed up for a midnight attack on 21 September – ‘ … by 2-0am all Objectives were captured.  One officer and 18 Other Ranks and about 30 M.G’s captured.’  They were relieved on 23 September and dispersed in reserve.  An enemy attack and entry to DADOS LANE and LOOP the next day led to unsuccessful attempts to repulse them over the next four days.

27 September   – ‘Battalion held line on Left of Brigade Sector.’

28 September   – ‘5.20am – 6th Queens attacked DADOS LOOP and LANE without success.            

                          – ‘10.0pm – 6th Queens withdrawn and Battalion took over line …’.

After further fighting on 29 September, attacking ‘… across the Tunnel of the Canal …’, on 30 September, ‘It was found that enemy had withdrawn from area W of canal … Brigade pushed on.’

The casualties sustained during these operations from 18 to 30 September 1918 totalled, one Officer killed and five wounded, and 250 Other Ranks, Killed, Wounded & Missing.

W H Newman’s death is recorded by the CWGC on 28 September 1918, and he would have been one of those 250 men killed or wounded in the operations near Epehy between 18 and 30 September 1918.  He was 23.  Whilst the Battalion was in action near Epehy, several members of the 5th Battalion were buried in the nearby Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery.  William was buried some five miles behind the lines to the south-west, which suggested (this was later confirmed in the Rugby Advertiser) that he was wounded and was evacuated to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations that had been established that month at Doingt, and died, or was registered dead, there.

He was buried in the nearby Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension, in grave reference: I. E. 42.  Later when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, probably in the 1920s, it included his family’s message, ‘Gone but not Forgotten by his Loving Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters’.

Doingt is a small village on the eastern outskirts of Peronne.  Doingt was captured by the 5th Australian Division on 5 September 1918, and the village was completely destroyed in the fighting.  In the same month, the 20th, 41st and 55th Casualty Clearing Stations arrived, remaining until October, when the cemetery was closed.  It was made in three plots; Plot I contained only Commonwealth graves, Plot II only American, and Plot III the graves of both armies.  The American graves were later removed by the American Graves Registration Services.  Doingt Communal Cemetery Extension contains 417 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

In mid-October, the Rugby Advertiser announced,
The death from wounds is announced of Pte W H Newman (23), son of Mr & Mrs Newman, 37 Campell Street, New Bilton.  Pte Newman was formerly employed at Willans & Robinson’s.[11]

The same edition had the family’s notice in the Deaths section.
DEATHS.    NEWMAN. – In loving memory of Pte. W. H. NEWMAN, who died of wounds in France on September 28, 1918; eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Newman, 37 Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby.
“A loving son, a faithful brother,
One of the best towards his mother.
He bravely answered his country’s call;
He gave his life for one and all.
We pictured his safe returning,
We longed to clasp his hand;
But God has postponed our meeting
Till we meet in the Better Land.”
From his loving Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters, and his Young Lady.

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

William’s parents were later registered by the CWGC as living at 37, Campbell Street, New Bilton, Rugby, having either moved or been re-numbered.  William’s mother, Emily Ann, died in Rugby, aged 63 in 1928; his father, William H Newman senior, died there, aged 86 in late 1951.

 

 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on ‘A. H.’, or more likely, William Henry NEWMAN 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, June  2018.

 

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914, also, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

[2]      Rugby Advertiser, 19 September 1914, also, https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/19th-sep-1914-more-recruits/.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 20 July 1918.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, 25 September 1915, also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/25th-sep-1915-local-war-notes/.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 9 November 1918.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 19 October 1918.

[7]      This does mean the Battalion War Diary has to be found in two separate files under the two Brigades.

[8]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

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

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

[11]     Rugby Advertiser, 19 October 1918.

Slater, Cyril George. Died 27th Aug 1918

Cyril George SLATER was born in New Bilton, Rugby on 27 June 1899.  He was the eldest son of Charles Henry Slater, whose father was a paperhanger, and who was born in about 1878 in New Bilton, Rugby, and Bertha Martha, née Taylor, Slater, whose father was a ‘goods porter’ – she was also born in about 1878, in Rugby.  They were married in New Bilton on 7 March 1899, after Banns were called in February and March.  When Cyril was baptised at New Bilton on 6 August 1899, his father was working as a ‘decorator’ and the family lived in New Bilton.

In 1901, his father was enumerated as a ‘painter and house decorator’, and the family were now in St. Andrews Parish and living at 103 Cambridge Street, Rugby.  Cyril was one year old.  In 1911, when Cyril was 11, his parents had been married for 12 years, and had moved to live at 24 Lodge Road, Rugby.  Cyril now had a younger sister, Olga C Slater, who was seven.  Their father was now a ‘foreman painter’.  Cyril attended the Elborow School, and ‘previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.’[1]

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Cyril, but it seems that he joined up in Warwick, and his Medal Card shows that he served initially as Private, No: 43087, in the 4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment.  He later served as a Private, No: 44979, latterly in the 8th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, more usually known as the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Cyril went to France, suggesting this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until sometime in late 1917.

Both the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Battalions of the Hampshire Regiment served in India from October and December respectively in WWI.  Thus whilst one document suggests that Cyril was in the ‘4th Battalion’, he did not serve in India, and he may have been transferred to the Royal Berkshires soon after recruitment.

There is also some confusion over the service of the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment.  The 8th (Service) Battalion was formed in September 1914 as part of the Third New Army (K3) at Reading and was attached to the 26th Division and moved to Salisbury Plain.  In May 1915 they moved to Sutton Veny and on 8 August 1915 mobilised for war and landed at Havre and transferred to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division, a Regular Army formation, which engaged in various ‘slaughterhouse battles’ on the Western Front.

However, some accounts suggest they were in action in France in 1914 and early 1915 which conflicts with the above mobilisation to France date.  Assuming Cyril went to France in August 1917, having reached the age of 18, he may have been first involved in the Second Battle of Passchendaele from 26 October to 10 November 1917.

On 2 February 1918 the Battalion transferred to the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front in the Battle of St Quentin from 21 to 23 March 1918, this being the initial action against the German offensive Operation Michael[2]; the Battle of the Avre, 4-5 April; the actions of Villers-Brettoneux, 24-25 April 1918; and the Battle of Amiens, 8 August 1918, which was the first day of the Allied offensive, when Allied forces advanced over 7 miles on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, … Erich Ludendorff described that day as “the black day of the German Army”.[3]  The Battalion was then involved in the third Battle of Albert  (21-23 August 1918) which then continued as the extended two week Second Battle of Bapaume which then developed into the advance, which became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[4] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.[5]

Parts of the 8th Battalion War Diary are to be found at the end of the 53rd Brigade Diaries within the records of the 18th Division.[6]  This showed that after a final conference at MAMETZ WOOD, on 26 August 1918, there was a major action on 27 August 1918, which was described in four closely written pages of the War Diary.

‘27 August – 2.15am – Battalion moved out to the forming up line.

‘3.30am – Assembly of troops was completed.  The night was quiet and bright moonlight. … three of the enemy strayed into our lines and were taken prisoner of war by the Medical Officer.

‘4.30am – The leading lines moved forward … to catch the barrage which was timed to open at 4.55am … through western edge of BERNAFAY WOOD.  The enemy … outpost M.G. posts … retired hastily to the first main line of their resistance. … Our advance had already been detected … and a brisk M.G. fire opened.  This was ominously loud on the left … in enemy occupation instead of held by the adjoining Division. … the barrage crept forward and our men … cleared the right area without appreciable loss. 

‘On the left … progress … was considerably hampered.  The next line of enemy resistance coincided approximately with the BERNAFAY- LONGUEVAL Road.  … The right pushed on not far behind the barrage and took some more prisoners … between the LONGUEVAL road and TRONES WOOD. … the final objective … was attained on the right but our own troops at once came under accurate M.G. fire from the direction of WATERLOT farm.  … large numbers of enemy could be seen massing and advancing from WATERLOT farm.  At the same time LONGUEVAL and DELVILLE WOOD were full of enemy … contemplating withdrawl … the troops on the final objective … checked the advance from WATERLOT farm, though at the cost of a number of casualties … a number of the enemy surrendered or were killed, while the remainder withdrew in the direction of LONGUEVAL.

‘ … the Reserve Coy of the 7th R W Kents had also come up … ‘B’ Coy had started their southward advance through TRONES WOOD … but our heavies continued to shell it … they also fell back to the trench line immediately west of the wood … an enemy counter attack … menaced the security of the whole of this flank.  But Kents and Berkshires rallied in good style … and confined the enemy gains to the higher portion. 

‘6.30pm – The heavies opened an intense bombardment …

‘6.50pm – Two guns of the 53rd Trench Mortar Battery opened an intensive fire …

‘6.55pm – The attacking Companies … crept from their positions close up to the bombardment.

‘7.00pm – All the fire was turned to the left, but so eager were the men that they were in amongst it before the shells had stopped bursting taking the enemy completely by surprise.  Basically all of these on the edge of the wood were shot or bayoneted and our troops pushed into the undergrowth with great dash … The whole operation was complete within an hour.  3 officers and 70 OR were taken prisoner, about 50 of the enemy killed and some 20 M.G.s captured.  Enemy posts … were rendered largely innocuous by the command of the ground captured and the night passed quietly …

‘28 August – 12 midnight – Battalion was relieved by 2nd Batt. Bedford Regt., 54th Brigade, and moved to CATERPILLAR VALLEY.’

On 29 August at 7pm, the Battalion moved into Reserve about GUILLEMONT, which had been well behind the German lines when the action started on 27 August – such was the progress of the advance.  There had been casualties – on 27 August, three Officers had been killed, and also an RAMC officer, and three were wounded.  In total in August 79 Other Ranks had been killed, 225 wounded, nine died of wounds, and eight were missing.  Seven Military Medals were awarded.

At some time during the actions on 27 August, Cyril George Slater was one of the 79 Other Ranks who were ‘Killed in Action’ in August in the 8th Battalion.  He was 19 years old.  His body was either never found or not identified.

Cyril is commemorated on Panel 7, of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt.

The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave.  They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing.  The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts.  The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved.  It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high.  The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon.  The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names.  Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building.  The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick.  It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.[7]

An item in the Rugby Advertiser[8] in September noted,
Pte George Cyril Slater, son of Mr & Mrs H Slater, 24 Lodge Road, was killed in action in France on August 27th.  He was an old Elborow boy, and previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.

It seems that the family may have used the name George rather than Cyril.  His death was not officially reported in the Weekly Casualty List until mid-October,
‘PART VIII  – W.O.’s., N.C.O.’s and Men, Cont. – Killed … Royal Berkshire Regiment … Slater 44979 O. G. (Rugby).[9]

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on the same date,
‘THE ROLL OF HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included in the latest casualty lists: Killed. … Slater, 44979, O. G., Rugby, Royal Berkshire Regiment.’[10]

In both cases his first initial ‘C’ had been misprinted as ‘O’.

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

 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

This article on Cyril George SLATER 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, April 2018.

 

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[2]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[3]      Edited from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Amiens_(1918).

[4]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Bapaume.

[5]      Edited from various sources including: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/475/royal-berkshire-regiment/, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Royal_Berkshire_Regiment.

[6]      Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, 18th Division, TNA, Piece 2037: 53rd Infantry Brigade.

[7]      https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/79200/vis-en-artois-memorial/.

[8]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 28 September 1918.

[9]      Weekly Casualty List (War Office & Air Ministry), Tuesday, 15 October 1918.

[10]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 15 October 1918.

 

Lines, George Henry. Died 26th Aug 1918

George Henry was born in Daventry in 1899. son of Elizabeth Lines (formerly Maltby, nee Shaw). In the 1901 census, aged 2 and appearing as Henry Bennett, he lived with his mother, named as Elizabeth Bennett, at 8 Rose Court Daventry with two sisters, Daisy and Zillah. There were three older siblings, Herbert, Ernest and Evelyn Maltby. It stated that Elizabeth was married but no husband is listed.

In 1911 he was living as George Lines in Rugby at 15 Bridget street, with his step-father Richard Hutt, his mother Elizabeth, and siblings Hubert and Phoebe Maltby, his sister Zillah Lines and step brother Harry Hutt.
(Elizabeth Louisa Shaw married William Lines in 1881, William Maltby in 1888 and Richard Hutt in 1903. It is not known who Mr Bennett was.)

George Henry joined the army first in the Somerset Light Infantry service number 40590 then being transferred to Royal Berkshire (Princess Charlotte of Wales) Regiment with a service number 48573. He was in the 5th Battalion which was part of the 36th Brigade of the 12th Division. In the war diary’s we read that the battalion was cleaning up and refitting from the 17th August to the 20th August prior to moving north of Morlancourt on the 21st to take over from 6th Queens Regiment. They moved positions until on the 25th the battalion had orders to attack east of Carnoy at between 04:00-04:30 am.

Battalion formed up at 3:30am. The battalion marched by compass for three and a half miles and reached forming up place at 4:45.The barrage was then over. The battalion attacked right and left on village of Carnoy A & B Company’s leading followed by C& D in the rear. A & C on the left B & D on the right held up by heavy machine gun fire on final objective and heavy casualties ensued. Trench was made with London 10 on right but failed to gain trench with 7 R. Sussex on left. Heavy fighting on left flank and enemy after two attempts rushed over and captured a number of our men. 2/ Lt Stapleton killed trying to get away and many men. 2/Lt Tutton badly wounded and died.

From the battalion records they have daily casualty returns and on the 26th august the returns read as follows:
Trench strength 14 0fficers 310 men
Officers Killed 2 wounded 1
Other Ranks Killed 43 Wounded 97 Missing 31

At the start of August the number of men had stood at:
28 Officers and 718 men so this regiment had suffered heavy losses

Private Lines, George Henry, Service No 48573 died 26th August 1918

An announcement of his death was published in the Rugby Advertiser of 21st Sep 1918:
LINES – In ever-loving memory of my dearest and youngest son. Pte J. H. Lines, of the Royal Berks., who was killed in action on August 27th “somewhere in France”, aged 19 years.
“We do not forget him, nor do we intend;
We think of him daily, and will to the end.
We miss him and mourn him in silence unseen,
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.”
“In the midst of life we are in death.”
–Not forgotten by his sorrowing Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters.

He was buried in the Peronne Road Cemetery , Maricourt France. Memorial reference 1v.H.34.

The inscription on his gravestone reads:
REST IN PEACE

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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’.

Ernest had attended ‘… St Matthew’s School, where he was very popular, and was head boy when he left to enter the L & N-W Railway offices at Coventry.  He was a member of the St Matthew’s XV, which won the Schools’ Union Shield in 1913.  He had been in St Matthews’s Church Choir for eight years.[1]

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,[2] 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,[3] and then from February onwards it is filed under 36th Brigade.[4]  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’[5] 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

A notice of his death was published in the Rugby Advertiser.

Mr & Mrs H Colston, 82 York Street, Rugby, have been notified that their elder son. Pte Ernest H Colston, Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action on June 19th.  Pte Colston, who was only just 19 years of age, had been in France since last December. He was an “old boy” of St Matthew’s School, where he was very popular, and was head boy when he left to enter the L & N-W Railway offices at Coventry. He was a member of the St Matthew’s XV, which won the Schoolsa’ Union Shield in 1913. He had been in St Matthews’s Church Choir for eight years. In a letter of sympathy to his parents his officer speaks of him as a young soldier of the highest promise.[6]

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

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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]      Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918.

[2]      This does mean the Battalion War Diary has to be found in two separate files under the two Brigades.

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

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

[5]      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.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 6 July 1918.

 

Sear, Arthur Henry. Died 10th Mar 1917

Arthur Henry Sear was born in Frankton in 1880 and was baptised there on 15th February. His father Levi George (known as George) Sear was a coachman born in Berkshire or Buckinghamshire. His mother was Ellen Pacey born in Norton Lindsey, Warwickshire. They married in Leamington on 18th August 1873.

Arthur had an elder brother Ernest Frederick Walter (born 1875) and a sister Gertrude Ellen (born 1876)

By 1891 the family were living at 30 Union Street, Rugby. George, aged 40 was listed as Ret(ired) and, in the disabilities column “Invalid”. He died in early 1892. By 1901 Arthur was living with his widowed mother and sister at 24 Round Street. He was aged 21 and a domestic gardener. Gertrude married in 1906, and by 1911 George was living alone with his mother at the same address. He was a jobbing gardener. Ellen Sear died in 1913.

Arthur Henry Sear joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment in February 1915 as a private, number 16879. The Rugby Advertiser of 27th Feb, reported that he was one of only four recruited that week. The total number from Rugby had passed 2,200.

He arrived in France on 23rd Jun 1915, shortly after the regiment had fought in the Battle of Festubert, with many casualties. He would have taken part in the Battle of Loos in autumn 1915. In 1916 came the Delville Wood and the Battle of the Ancre.

At the start of March 1917 the Royal Berkshires were camped at Poziers, moving to the front line on the 4th. They were relieved and some men were on fatigue duties at night. It was quiet, there was snow on the 7th and on the 9th preparations were made for a forthcoming attack.

War Diary of 1/R Berks Regt:

10/3/17 Front Line Nr IRLES

At 5.15. am the Batln attacked GREVILLERS TRENCH in conjunction with the 1st K.R.R.C. on the left. The trench was captured at once and a line of posts established in front, to facilitate the digging of a new assembly trench for a future attack. A Company were on the right and established a defensive flank. 100 prisoners (including 1 Officer) 3 Machine Guns and 2 Light Trench Morters were captured.

Casualties Lt BRAZIES killed, 2/lt LAYERS and 2/lt DENHAM wounded.

Other Ranks 10 killed, 83 wounded and 1 missing.

The enemy commenced shelling the captured line at about 12 noon and continued throughout the day, but made no effort to recapture the position.

Shelling continued the next day and the battalion was relieved that night and returned to billet in Albert about 4am on 12th March

Arthur Henry Sear was “killed in action” on 10th March 1917. He must have been one of the 10 other ranks killed. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

His sole legatee was his sister Gertrude who had married Albert John Mann.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Reeve, Arthur Kimbell. Died 4th Mar 1917

Arthur Kimbell Reeve was probably born in June 1876, he was baptised at St. Matthew, Rugby, on 25th of June 1876. His parents were William Reeve and Caroline Sturmer, who were married in June 1870 in Risbridge, Suffolk. Arthur had 5 brothers and 3 sisters.
In the 1881 Census, the family were living at 4, Laurel Terrace, Rugby. Father William is a Baker. In 1891, they had moved to 33, Arnold Street, Rugby, William continues to bake. The eldest brother, Ralph Frederick, 18 is a Coach Painter, and Edward is a Salesman.
Arthur was married to Frances Amanda Bushill on the 8th of April 1901 at New Bilton Parish Church, Rugby. Frances parents were Thomas Bushill, a Bricklayer and Emily Elizabeth.
Emily was a Dressmaker before their marriage working from home with her younger sister Maude. Emily was baptised at Church Lawford on 30th July 1876.
Arthur and Frances had two daughters, Frances Maud born in June 1902 and Edith in December 1903, both in Rugby.
In the 1911 Census Arthur and Frances are living at 16, Cambridge Street, Rugby, Arthur is a House Painter. Next door at Number 14 are his parents. Frances’ father and elder brother are bricklayers in the 1911 Census. In The Rugby Almanac for 1912, 13 and 14, Arthur Reeve is a Painter and his father a baker, Thomas Bushill is a bricklayer at 36, New Street.
William Reeve died in 1914.
Arthur joined Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Regiment (The Royal Berkshires) as a Private, with the reference number 29932. His entry in The Commonwealth War Graves Remembrance states he was in the 13th Battalion. This was a Volunteer ‘Labour’ Battalion formed in July 1916 in Corsham, and they moved to France on 21 September, 1916. I have contacted the Regimental Museum about Arthur but there is a 3 month waiting list for responses.
Arthur died on the 4th of March, 1917, in The Queen Alexandra Hospital, Dunkirk of spotted fever after an illness lasting 2 days. Spotted fever is a tick-bourne disease. It was probably Helvetica Spotted fever, which is prevalent in Sweden, Switzerland and France. It causes small red spots, fever, muscle pain, headache and respiratory problems. Today it can be cured by antibiotics but these were not discovered until many years later. Arthur was awarded the British War and Victory Medals
Arthur is buried in the Dunkirk Town Cemetery Grave Reference I.F.3.
Two days after Arthur’s death the USA declared war on Germany.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Boyes, Frank Harold. Died 1st Jul 1916

Frank Harold Boyes was born in about mid 1898 [reg. Q3, 1898] in Rugby, the son of John Boyes, b.c.1858, in Willoughby or Rugby and Annie Marie, née Webb, Boyes, also b.c.1858, in Lawford or Rugby.

Frank was baptised on 11 September 1898 at Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby. On that same day Charles Henry Bland was baptised – they later lived only about three minutes walk apart and they would join up together and die together on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

When he was baptised, the family were living at 11 Worcester Street, Rugby, and his father was an ‘LNWR Driver’. In 1901, they were still living at 11 Worcester Street; Frank was about two and the youngest of six children then at home – his father was a ‘railway engine driver’.

By 1911, the family had moved to live at 84 Railway Terrace, Rugby.   Frank’s parents had been married 31 years and had had 9 children, of whom eight had survived. His father was still a ‘Railway engine driver’; three sons were still at home, with Frank, aged 12, still at school.

Frank Harold Boyes – photo by permission of Rugby Library.

 Frank Boyes first enlisted on 7 September 1914, at Rugby, claiming to be exactly 19 years old, and a machinist. He was attested as No.1276 into the 2nd Company, Kings Royal Rifle Brigade. His attestation papers shows that he was 5ft 43/8 inches tall.

However, with his birth registered in Q3, 1898, thus no earlier than mid-May 1898, he was only [just] 16 years old and two days later, on 9 September 1914, he was discharged under ‘Para 392 (ii)’ as ‘under standard’.   Paragraph 392 of the 1912 edition of King’s Regulations contained the official causes of discharge: ‘(ii) Having been irregularly enlisted’ – in his case, being under age. His army pension record, which survives, confirms his three days’ Home Service!

Frank seemed determined to serve his country, and before the end of June 1915 – probably well before – Frank Harold Boyes enlisted as Private, No.16937, in the 2nd Battalion of the Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment on the same occasion, and just after his friend, Charles Henry Bland, who was enlisted as No.16936.   The date of enlistment is unknown.[1]

The 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment was a Regular Army unit and was serving in India on the outbreak of war and was recalled to Britain, where, with other Regular units also stationed abroad, it helped form the 25th Brigade and was attached to the 8th Division.   They came to the Western Front in late 1914 and arrived at Le Havre on the 5 November with 30 officers and 978 other ranks. Their first job was to relieve the 1st East Surreys in trenches at Fauquissart and there they suffered terribly from trench foot and other illness’s caused by the abrupt change of climate. The next three months were spent in and out of trenches including Christmas day when they took part in the Christmas Truce.

The War diaries for the 2nd Berkshires are available, although they would not be expected to include individual soldier’s names.

Frank’s Medal Card does not have a date when he went to France, presumably it was after training in UK, and he probably arrived there on the same date as his friend, Charles Henry Bland, on 30 June 1915. The battalion diaries[2] can be sampled to find the activities of the battalion.

On 30 June 1915, ‘2 Companies in billets at FLEURBAIX. 2 Companies in close support billets’ and similarly on 1 July 1915, ‘2 Companies in billets at FLEURBAIX. 2 Companies in close support billets.’ 3 and 4 July, ‘In trenches near BOIS GRENIER.’

1 August 1915, the troops were in billets near FLEURBAIX; on 1 September, ‘3 Companies in billets near BAC ST MAUR. 1 Company in billets near FLEURBAIX. The Battalion proceeded to Brigade Reserve billets about 7pm. 3 Companies in billets at FLEURBAIX. 1 Company in close support of No 6 Section.’ On 1 October, ‘in billets near BAC ST MAUR’; on 1 December, ‘in camp near SERCUS, France. On 1 March 1916, ‘3 Companies in Brigade Reserve Billets near CROIX LESCORNEX. 1 Company in close support of 2nd Lincolnshire Regiment.’ On 1 April 1916, ‘In Billets at FLESSELLES.’ 1 May 1916, ‘In Divisional Reserve Camp at HENENCOURT WOODS.’ 1 June 1916, ‘In camp at HENENCOURT WOODS.’   15 June, ‘In trenches, right sub-section. Flank Battalions 2nd Rifle Brigade on left flank – 4th Tyneside Scottish on right flank. 55 other ranks joined Battalion. 4 men wounded, 1 man to Hospital, 2 men from Hospital.’ 25 June, ‘In camp in LONG VALLEY near ALBERT.’

30 June, ‘In camp in LONG VALLEY near ALBERT. The Battalion paraded about 9.15pm in readiness to proceeded to Assembly positions in right sub-section trenches. (Signed) Roland Haig Lieut Colonel Commanding 2nd Royal Berkshire Regt.’

The opening of the Battle of the Somme produced a more detailed diary entry.

1 July 1916, ‘Attack on OVILLERS. The Battalion took up its assembly position in accordance with Brigade Operation Order No. 100. The 2nd BN LINCOLNSHIRE REGT was on the left and the 2BN DEVONSHIRE REGT on right. Our own wire was not sufficiently cut and parties were immediately sent out by Companies to clear it. At 6.25am the intensive bombardment began as scheduled. At about 7.15am the enemy opened rifle and machine gun fire on our line; this fire was probably drawn by the 2nd DEVON REGT which at about this time attempted to line up in front of their parapet. At 7.20am Companies began filing down trenches and getting ready for the assault. At 7.30am the three assaulting Companies advanced to attack the GERMAN line. They were met by intense rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any of the waves reaching the enemy lines. A little group on the left of the Battalion succeeded in getting in, but were eventually bombed out. At about 7.45am the COMMANDING OFFICER (LT COL A.M. HOLDSWORTH) and SECOND IN COMMAND (MAJOR G.H. SAWYER DSO) were wounded in the sap on the left of our front, the COMMDG OFFICER handed over Command of the Battalion to 2nd LIEUT C. MOLLET (ACTG ADJT) by this time the parapet was swept by rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any exit from our trenches. The enemy replied to our intensive bombardment by barraging the front line from about 6.35am onwards. No message was received from other Battalions in immediate vicinity. At about 11am the order came from Bde Headquarters to “stand by” and await further orders. About 200 men of the Battalion were collected on the right of the front line and in the assembly trenches off ULVERSTON Street. At about 12.30pm news was received that the Brigade would be relieved. At about 3pm Major Hon R. BRAND, 2nd Rifle Brigade arranged to take over all the front line and with the sanction of the Brigade the Battalion was withdrawn to RIBBLE STREET. On relief by the 37th INFANTRY BDE, the Battalion marched back to bivouac in LONG VALLEY. TWO LEWIS GUNS were damaged, Steel Helmets proved invaluable and in numberless cases saved mens lives.

The following casualties occurred amongst Officers. KILLED IN ACTION.- LIEUT A.J.G. GOODALL. 2nd LIEUT S.S. SCHNEIDER. DIED OF WOUNDS.- LT COL A.M. HOLDSWORTH. WOUNDED.- MAJOR G.H. SAWYER DSO. CAPTAIN B. HAYE. CAPTAIN J.A. CAHILL. LIEUT W.C. ADAMS. 2nd LIEUT W.S. MACKAY. 2nd LIEUT J.V.R. OWEN. 2nd LIEUT R.G. GREEN. 2nd LIEUT W. GALE. MISSING. CAPTAIN H.T. ROWLEY. CAPTAIN R.C. LEWIS. LIEUTENANT B.S. ROBINSON. LIEUT O.G. PAYNE. 2nd LIEUT H. GODFREY. 2nd LIEUT B.H. BELCHER. 2nd LIEUT P.G. SHIRREFF. 2nd LIEUT M.I. HEMING. 2nd LIEUT S.H. BEDFORD.

OTHER RANKS:- 33 KILLED. 3 DIED of WOUNDS. 260 WOUNDED. 118 MISSING.

2 July 1916, ‘In Camp at LONG VALLEY near ALBERT. The Battalion proceeded by march route to DERNANCOURT arriving there about 7.30pm.’

Frank Harold Boyes was one of those killed or missing, and his body was not found or identified and he is remembered on Pier and Face 11 D. of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

Frank Harold Boyes was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and although it is not mentioned, probably the 1914-1915 Star.

Frank’s sole legatee was his mother, Annie M Boyes, who received £5-14-3d on 9 August 1917, and £5-10-0d on 10 October 1919.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

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This article on Frank Harold Boyes 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]       Their Service Records have not survived, and the Berkshire’s numbering is not readily usable to approximate attestation dates.

[2]       The Wardrobe, The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum, http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/home.