Bosworth, Frederick Albert. Died 30th Jun 1919

Frederick Albert BOSWORTH deserves our admiration as one of the longest serving and most decorated soldiers commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  He was already a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ before the war; and went to war with them and won the Military Medal and Bar, the French Medaille Militaire, and was Mentioned in Dispatches; he was wounded and gassed, and then volunteered for further service in Russia where he was killed in action in June 1919.  He became Rugby’s last ‘official’ Casualty on the War Memorial Gates.

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Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was born in about mid-1895 in Bitteswell.  He was the son of Frederick Bosworth [b.c.1866 in Lutterworth] and Mary Anne ‘Annie’, née Wright, Bosworth [b.c.1863 in Bitteswell], whose marriage was registered in Q4, 1894 in Leicester.  It was her second marriage.

In 1901, Frederick’s father, Frederick senior, was a ‘house painter.  The family were all living at Bitteswell.  As well as his and Annie’s three young children, there were the three older Wright step-sons aged 14, 11 and 9 from Annie’s previous marriage.

Before 1911, the family had moved to Rugby and Frederick Albert had attended the Murray School.  In 1911 they were living in a seven room house at 86 Bath Street, Rugby.  Frederick snr. was a ‘house painter’ for the builders – Messrs Linnell & Son.[1]  He had been married 17 years and they had four children.  Frederick Albert was now an ‘apprentice turner’ for a ‘mechanical engineers’, Willans and Robinson.  The other three younger children would have been at school.  Two of his wife’s Wright boys were also at home and working as a ‘fitter’ and an ‘apprentice fitter’ respectively also at a ‘mechanical engineers’ – probably also at Willans and Robinson.

Before the War, Frederick had been a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ – this was more properly named the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery, 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade.  From 1908 the Rugby Battery had been in temporary headquarters at the Willans and Robinson’s Engineering Works in Newbold Road, Rugby, so perhaps Frederick had seen them when he was an apprentice, and it may not be a surprise that he joined them.  In 1910, they moved to a new headquarters at 72 Victoria Avenue, Rugby, known locally as the Rowland Street Drill Hall.[2]

Whilst no Service Record survived, some details of Frederick’s service can be gleaned from his Medal Card and his CWGC entry.  Frederick was a gunner with the early number ‘233’, in the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery.  His name and number are confirmed in the listings in the papers and diaries of its commanding officer, Col. Frank West.[3]

The Battery was the first territorial artillery unit to go to France, and they went from Southampton to Le Havre, France, on 30 March 1915.  The locations where the Battery served can be found on-line, in extracts from the Brigade Diaries.[4]  They served together until the artillery reorganisation in May 1916.

In May 1916 Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered.  The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade.  But its men were scattered.  The Howitzer Brigades in the British Field Artillery were split up, and their guns, officers, men and support staff redistributed to Brigades previously armed with 18 pounder guns.  … The 5th Howitzer Battery from the 4th South Midland Brigade was allocated to 241 Brigade (previously 2nd South Midland, Worcester) …[5]

During the re-organisation, Frederick was one of the men on the 5th Battery transfer list.  This listed the men of 243rd Brigade who were transferred to form the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of the 241st Brigade in May 1916.  The list included ‘No.233 Gnr. Bosworth, F.A.’[6]

During 1916, in a letter published, no doubt coincidentally, in the Rugby Advertiser on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Frederick described some of his duties, and that he had been ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’.

Gunner F Bosworth, D Battery, 241st (S.M Brigade) R.F.A, an Old Murrayian, was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s last despatch.  In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, he says:- “I am a telephonist in our Battery, and in this work we have many opportunities of taking part in some of the exciting incidents of this War, and it is in these little stunts that they have evidently thought me worth mentioning.”[7]

From the date of the article, his gallant actions must have been undertaken before 1 July 1916, although a later article mentioned the date as 21 July!  However, before August 1916, Frederick had been awarded a Military Medal for his actions, as reported in a long article in the Rugby Advertiser.  It was reported that he went ‘… out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery’.  A later report stated that he had been ‘Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.’ 

MILITARY MEDAL FOR A RUGBY HOWITZER MAN.
Battery Sergt-Major George Hopewell, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing to Mr A Adnitt, as Hon. Secretary of the Rugby Territorials Comforts Association to thank him for parcels of comforts received, adds:-
“ You will be pleased to know that one of our boys, Gunner Bosworth, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field on July 21st, going out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery. He was also mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch for distinguished conduct in the field.
“ We have been in the thick of the fighting since July 1st, but have been very fortunate as regards casualties, as we have had only five wounded – Corpl Hipwell, Bombardiers Smith and Rixom, and Gunners Seaton and Packwood.
“ I dare say you read in the papers about our Division, together with the Anzacs, taking one of the most important points along the front on July 23rd. They were congratulated by the Commander-in-Chief and the Corps Commander on their performance.”
Gunner Bosworth is the son of Mr G Bosworth, who formerly worked as a painter for Messrs Linnell & Son, but has now removed to Essex.  His grandfather resides at Lutterworth.
In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Gunner Bosworth, an Old Murrayian, says:- “On the morning of the ‘big push’ I was on duty at our observation station, and had occasion to go out on the line and repair breakages caused by the shelling.  The O.C. was good enough to bring the incident to the notice of the General, and I have since heard the good news of being granted the above medal.”

HIGH PRAISE FOR THE HOWITZER BRIGADE.
The following letter from the Brigadier Commanding the Artillery Division to the O.C’s of the Batteries and Ammunition Columns, will be of much local interest :—
“ Will you please convey to all ranks my appreciation of the excellent work performed by the batteries and D.A.C during the last five weeks.  The preparation of gun positions for the July offensive entailed continuous and very hard work on the batteries, but this labour was well repaid in the fewness of the casualties suffered at the guns.  The Division subsequently taking over reported that they were the best positions they had yet seen.
“ The continual night firing has been particularly trying, but the shooting was consistently good, which reflects great credit on all ranks, and the successes gained by the Infantry were, in the words of the Divisional Commander, largely due to the effective support rendered by the Artillery.  I hope during this week all ranks will be able to get the rest which they all deserve.[8]

Frederick’s Military Medal was ‘gazetted’ in August 1916,
War Office, 23rd August, 1916. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: – 233 Gunner F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.[9]

In the reorganisation of the artillery, Frederick received a new number 840058, and at some date, probably after his actions in 1916, been promoted to Bombardier.  On 16 April 1917, Frederick had been in action which resulted in him being awarded a Bar to his Military Medal, and he had written of his experiences to his old schoolmaster.  It was later reported that he had been ‘Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire’.

HOWITZER BATTERY MAN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, the R.F.A, has written to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, informing him that he has been awarded a bar to his Military Medal for bravery on the night of April 16th.  Another bombardier was awarded the Military Medal for the same deed.  He adds that, having been mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Medal and a bar to same, he so far carries the honours of the Battery.[10]

The second award was gazetted in July 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Military Medal to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: –
840058 Bombr. F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.  … (M.M.s gazetted 23rd August, 1916.)[11]

The same action also led to the award of the equivalent French decoration, the Medaille Militaire, which was reported in the Rugby Advertiser in June 1917, and was formally ‘gazetted’ in July 1917.

BOMBARDIER BOSWORTH AGAIN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, has been awarded the Medaille Militaire for the same action that gained for him the bar to his Military Medal.[12]

Medaille Militaire … 840058 Bombardier Frederick Bosworth, Royal Field Artillery.[13]

In August 1917 Frederick was severely wounded, and probably gassed, and it seems he was evacuated back to England for hospital treatment.  It seems that on 25 November 1917, the opportunity was taken to present him with his medals at Chatham.  The Rugby Advertiser reported in detail.

PRESENTATION TO A HOWITZER MAN.
On the occasion of the presentation of medals at Chatham on the 25th inst, Bombardier F A Bosworth R.F.A, was the recipient of medals.  The presentation was made by Colonel H R Adair, Commander Royal Artillery, Thames and Medway Garrison, who said: “The Royal Artillery has no colours.  Our colours are the proud traditions of our Regiment, to which we cling, and around which we rally, just as other Corps have rallied round their Banners.  It is men like Bombardier Bosworth who not only preserve these traditions, but, who, by their deeds, actually add to and ennoble them.  I am proud to stand here to-day representing His Majesty the King, who, you will remember is our Colonel-in-Chief, to present to Bombardier Bosworth, on his behalf, two medals, which he has gained by his own brave hands.  They are the Military Medal of England and the Military Medal of France.”
“ The records of the deeds for which he has won these read as follows:- Military Medal of England: “Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.”  Bar to Military Medal of England and Military Medal of France: “Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire.”
“ These medals are a proud possession for himself and splendid heirlooms for his kindred to possess.  On behalf of our Country, our allies in France, our Regiment and its Colonel-In-Chief our King.  I shake hands with Bombardier Bosworth and wish him health and happiness and long life to wear his noble distinctions.”[14]

There do not appear to be any further details of his actions in the war, however, after the Armistice, hostilities continued in Russia until 1920, where there was still fighting in support of the ‘White Russians’ against the ‘Bolsheviks’. It seems that although he was still weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, it seems that Frederick ‘… was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.’  He joined the 420th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, which served in Russia with the North Russian Expeditionary Force from September 1918 to July 1919.[15]

Frederick Bosworth was ‘killed in action’ on 30 June 1919.  He was buried in a local churchyard at Lumbushi Chyd, Russia.  His grave was marked by a wooden cross with his particulars, and also ‘RIP’ and ‘Killed in Action’.  ‘The grave was enclosed by a wooden fence about one foot high.’

It was intended that these isolated graves should be ‘concentrated’ and it was intended that his body would be exhumed and moved to the Murmansk New British Cemetery, where the graves could be more properly attended.  This was not permitted by the Russians.

His gravestone had already been prepared, and included the family inscription, ‘He Loved Honour More Than He Feared Death’.  It was placed instead as ‘Special Memorial ref: B. 4.’ on the wall of the Murmansk Cemetery.

Murmansk New British Cemetery was made in 1930.  The 40 burials were moved in from the Old British Cemetery that had been used by No 86 General Hospital in 1918-1919.  The special memorials commemorate officers and men known to have been buried in cemeteries elsewhere in the Murman area.  The cemetery now contains 83 burials and commemorations of the First World War.

In August 1919, the Rugby Advertiser wrote,
POPULAR RUGBY N.C.O.’s DEATH.
CORPORAL BOSWORTH KILLED IN RUSSIA.

Further details are to hand in regard to Corpl. Frederick Albert Bosworth, who, as announced in our last issue, was recently killed in action while serving with the R.F.A. with the North Russian Expeditionary Force.  Cpl. Bosworth was member the Rugby Howitzer Battery the time the war broke out, his home address being 86 Bath Street.  He remained with the local battery during its service in France until he was severely wounded in August, 1917.  For his services over there he was awarded the Military Medal, and later a bar, and the Medaille Militaire.  Although weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, Cpl. Bosworth was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.  It was quite evident from letters received from his officers that Cpl. Bosworth did justice to his own reputation and to the good name of the battery.  The deceased corporal was at one time employed as an apprentice at Messrs. Willans and Robinson’s works, and was familiarly known to his many friends as ‘Sammy’.[16]

As well as his awards for gallantry, the Military Medal and Bar and the French, Medaille Militaire, Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

His father and mother moved to ‘Essex’ before 1916, and after the war their contact address for the CWGC was ‘Medveza-Gora’, Hemitage Road, Higham, Rochester.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick Albert BOSWORTH 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, October 2018.

[1]      The manager of the business, the son of its owner, William Henry LINNELL, died of wounds received in the German ‘Operation Mchael’ Offensive in 1918.  He died in hospital in Rouen on 8 April 1918 – see ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 8 April 2018, at https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/linnell-william-henry-died-8th-apr-1918/.

[2]      See https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1, for the details of the Battery’s locations and postings.

[3]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[4]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1.

[5]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home.

[6]      The list is in an Appendix to TNA ref: WO 95/2749, War Diary, 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, May 1916.

[7]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/1st-jul-1916-charge-against-an-enemy-alien-dismissed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 July 1916.

[8]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/12th-aug-1916-down-with-diphtheria-but-not-depressed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 12 August 1916.

[9]      The London Gazette, Supplement:29719, Page:8360, 22 August 1916, also, The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue:12976, Page:1490, 24 August 1916.

[10]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/2nd-jun-1917-cooking-demonstration-at-rugby/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 6 June 1917.

[11]     The London Gazette, Supplement 30172, Page 6824, 6 July 1917.

[12]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/16th-jun-1917-doctors-and-the-war-appeal-to-the-public/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 16 June 1917.

[13]     The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13114, Page 1369, 17 July 1917.

[14]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/1st-dec-1917-presentation-to-a-howitzer-man/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 December 1917.

[15]     TNA ref: WO 95/5426, 420 Battery Royal Field Artillery, Russia, September 1918 – July 1919.

[16]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 8 August 1919.

 

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Abbott, Walter John. Died 1st Jan 1919

Walter John Abbott, the son of Caroline and William Abbott was born in 1880 in Rugby.  He was baptised at Newbold on Avon on 14 March 1880.  His 4 older brothers were born in Rhyl, North Wales.  By the time Walter was one year old his mother (born Newbold on Avon) was a widow and the Inn Keeper of the Globe Inn, 53 Railway Terrace, Rugby. She married Thomas Middleton in 1883 who became the Hotel Keeper and they had several more children.

In 1901 Walter John Abbott was a servant Grocer’s Assistant in Pershore, Worcestershire. In 1911 Walter Middleton was living in Louth, Lincolnshire with his wife Kate Isabel, born in Burton on Trent and two children Cynthia and Edward. He was a grocer’s traveller.

Walter John Abbott served as a gunner (No. 152488) in “D” Battery, 199th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, under the name of Middleton and was buried at Tournai Communal Cemetery Allied Extension.

Rugby Advertiser of 10 January 1919 states:
ABBOTT in loving memory of Gunner Walter John Abbott, fifth son of Mr and Mrs Middleton of Watford (late of Rugby) who died in France on 5 January 1919 from injuries received in a train accident while coming home on leave after four years service aged 38 years.  “Thy will be done”.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Clements, Eustace Edwin. Died 12th Nov 1918

Eustace Edward CLEMENTS was the son of Charles Edwin, [b.c. 19 April 1866 in Wing, Buckinghamshire] and Mary Ellen, née Lee, Clements [b.c. 1865 in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire], who were married on 28 December 1891 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

Mary Ellen and her parents – Frederick, who was born in Hillmorton, and Jane Lee – had lived in Rugby at least from 1864 when Mary’s sister, Minnie, was born there and in 1871 and 1881, when they were living at 768 Old Station, Rugby.  In 1881, Mary Ellen was 21.

Mary Ellen returned to Rugby to have her first child, Eustace, whose birth was registered, as Eustace Edwin Clements, in Q1, 1893 in Rugby [Rugby, 6d, 577].  Eustace was baptised in Rugby at St Andrew’s church on 12 March 1893.  His military Service Record though, would later give his birth place as Northampton – his early home – and his second name as Edward – and indeed on one record his religion as Roman Catholic!

In 1901, the family were still living in Roade St. Mary, Buckinghamshire, with their children: Eustace E Clements, 8; Dorothy Clements, 6; Freddy Clements, 3; and Oscar Clements, 2.   In 1919 Sidney and Edwin Clements would be given as the names of his surviving brothers.

Before 1911, the family had moved back to Rugby and in 1911 were living at 33 Winfield Street, Clifton Road, Rugby.  Charles was working as a Railway Signal Fitter for the LNWR.  Eustace, now aged 18 was working, as an ‘engine fitter apprentice’, also with the LNWR.  His younger brother, Frederick, was 13 and still at school,

Eustace Clements. photo by permission of David Boult

There are two sets of surviving Service Records for Eustace – or Eustace Edward or Edward as he was known to the military.  One set of records of five pages, and one set of 23 pages, with some duplications.  There is also a Medal Card and his CWGC entry.  Unfortunately the Service Records are of very poor legibility in many cases, and parts are missing as they were probably recovered from the ‘burnt records’.

Eustace volunteered early for war service and was attested in Rugby on 31 August 1914.  When he enlisted he was 21 years and 232 days old.  He was 5 foot 11½ inches tall; weighed 160 lbs; had grey eyes and light brown hair, and his religion was Church of England.  He was certified ‘Fit for service in the Royal Garrison Artillery, RFA’.  He became a Gunner, No.1679, in the Royal Field Artillery.  His previous trade was listed as ‘fitter’.

From 31 August 1914 to 12 September 1917 one set of records suggest he was on a ‘Home’ posting – which would seem to be in conflict with other records, and omits one of his postings in France!

He was initially in 51st (R) Battery, R. F. A. and had various postings before the end of December 1914 and would later be promoted to Corporal.  On 1 September 1914 he was at Hilsea,[1] then on 9 September 1914 he was posted to ?13 Reserve Brigade, and on 15 December he was at Frome and on 17 December 1914 with ?/111 Battery.

His military career was not faultless.  On 29 March 1915 he was ‘absent without leave from 10pm 29/3/15 until 2pm 30/3/15, 16 hours’ and was admonished and forfeited one day’s pay.  Then at Winchester on 20 May 1915 he was ‘Absent from town piquet’ and was confined to barracks for two days.  On 10 September 1915 at Lille Barracks,[2] he was ‘Absent from base [or ‘leave’?] 12 noon to 4.30 pm, 4½ hrs.’ for which he received 7 days field punishment No 2.

On 28 May 1915 it seems he was posted to the B/113th Brigade, and was vaccinated in July 1915.  Although an alternative record stated that he went to France on 25 September 1915 after ‘home service’ of 1 year and 25 days, however, there is again confusion as Eustace’s Medal Card stated that he went to France on 20 September 1915.  He would, in either case, have been entitled to the 1914-1915 Star.

He served in France until 10 June 1917 [one record stated 1916!] as on 7 June 1917 he was wounded and was evacuated first to 20th General Hospital, Dannes Camiers, and then ‘Home’ by ship on 11 June 1917 and admitted to the Horton War Hospital with ‘Gun S W right forefinger crushed, contusions of leg’.  He was discharged on 17 July 1917, however another report notes ‘Finger healed but distal joint stiff.  Has [morn]ing massage.  Sent to Command Depot’.

Indeed, he was posted to the Command Depot at Rippon on 28 July 1917 and then posted to 56th Reserve Brigade on 31 August 1917 until 12 September 1917.   He was then posted back to France on 13 September 1917 and seems to have been moved to A/307 Brigade from Base on 26 September 1917, and then to A/306 Brigade F. A. on 8 November 1917.

On 12 December 1917 he was wounded again, presumably comparatively slightly as he was discharged on 17 December 1917.

On 9 May 1918 he was wounded yet again and apparently suffered a ‘… Shell wound severe …’ and was evacuated back to England on 10 May 1918.  On arrival ‘Home’ on 11 May 1918, he was initially admitted to Southwark Military Hospital, London S.E.[3] being treated for ‘… ? gas shell poisoning?’ until 16 July 1918, when he was sent to the Convalescence Hospital,  Eastbourne, until 10 August 1918.

On 19 August 1918 he was posted to 60th Reserve Battery, R.F.A. and granted ‘Leave with free warrant’.  Presumably he was now no longer fit for front line service as on 17 October 1918 he had a ‘compulsory transfer into the Labour Corps as Private, No.669461 at Sutton’.  This suggests that he had been medically rated below the ‘A1’ condition needed for front line service.

Being less than fully fit for service, it was perhaps not surprising that he was taken ill again, struck down by the flu epidemic was sweeping the world.  He died, aged 25, in the Horton War Hospital, Epsom, on 12 November 1918, from ‘Acute Bronchio-Pneumonia & Influenza’.

The second page of a telegram on 13 November 1918 confirms ‘F C Labour Corps 1 acute Lobar pneumonia 2 influenza Warspital Epsom’.  Only the name ‘Clements’ can be read on the first page.

After a funeral in Rugby, he was buried in Rugby’s Clifton cemetery in plot, J192, with a CWGC headstone as Gunner Eustace Edwin Clements, Royal Field Artillery,[4] Service Number, 1679.  The CWGC has him as aged 24.

His headstone also remembers his brother Frederick Clements who most probably died in a Prisoner of War camp near to Berlin.  His family’s chosen inscription on Eustace’s headstone reads: ‘Also in Memory of 307487 Corporal F. Clements Royal Warwickshire Regt. 24.10.18.’

Three items were published in the Rugby Advertiser on 23 November,[5] a report on his death and funeral; the family’s announcement of his death; and their ‘Acknowledgement’ and thanks to friends.

Mr C E and Mrs Clements, 33 Winfield Street, have lost their son, Gunner E E Clements, R.F.A. from pneumonia, under sad circumstances, after seeing a lot of service in France.  He worked as a fitter in the L & N-W Railway Sheds, and when war broke out he answered the first call, and joined Kichener’s Army  in August, 1914.  He served three years in France, and was twice badly wounded.  During the big German offensive in May this year he was gassed.  On recovering he returned to his regiment, when he was called out of the ranks and told that he would have his discharge in two days’ time after good service.  On the following day he was struck down with influenza, which developed into pneumonia, to which he succumbed on the 14th inst.  The funeral took place at rugby Cemetery on Saturday last.  He was borne to the grave by six of his former workmates, and a large number of flowers testified to the esteem in which he was held

CLEMENTS. – On the 12th inst., at Horton War Hospital, Epsom, Eustace Edwin, the dearly beloved eldest son of C. E. & M. E. Clements, Gunner, R.F.A., of “flu” and pneumonia; aged 25 years. – Deeply mourned.’

MR & MRS CLEMENTS & FAMILY wish to thank all kind Friends and Neighbours for sympathy shown to them in their bereavement; also for all floral tributes sent.

Eustace is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also on the Rugby Loco Steam Shed Memorial,[6]

In July 1919 his father filled in the declaration of next of kin, and on 19 September 1919 Eustace’s effects were sent from Nottingham to his father’s solicitors in Rugby.  They included,
‘Correspondence, Wallet, Photos, Badge, Holdall, 3 Razors In Cases, 2 Toothbrushes, 2 Shaving Brushes, Button Stick, Housewife, Meal Cards, Letters, Shaving Soap, Pencil, Disc, Bag, ?Piece Bread Pouch, Cig Papers, Watch Strap, Tin Tablets, 2 Button Brushes, 3 Handkerchiefs, Metal Pins, Hairbrush, Mirror, Wound Stripe, 4 Blue Chevrons, 2 Pocket Books.’

The family were then living at 33 Winfield Street, Rugby.  It seems that his mother received a separation allowance of 5 shillings per week.

Eustace was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star which were sent to his father in 1922.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Eustace Edwin Clements 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, November 2017.

[1]      Hilsea Lines includes 18th- and 19th-century fortifications built to protect the northern approach to Portsea.

[2]      The Lille Barracks were one of the six barracks in the Aldershot Marlborough Lines which were built in about 1890; the Lille barracks were demolished in 1958.

[3]      St Saviour’s Infirmary in East Dulwich Grove … was built in 1887 by the Guardians of the Poor of the parish of St Saviour’s, Southwark.  The Royal Army Medical Corps took over control of the infirmary in East Dulwich Grove on 11 November 1915, which at the insistence of the guardians was named Southwark Military Hospital.  The hospital was fully equipped for 800 patients … the existing Medical Superintendent Dr A  Bruce was appointed the rank of Major and served as its Officer in charge for most of the three and half years the hospital was used by the military. … Altogether 12,522 wounded and sick servicemen were cared for at Southwark Military Hospital of whom [only] 119 died; a very small percentage of those admitted and a tribute to the skill of the doctors, surgeons and nurses.  See http://www.dulwichsociety.com/2010-summer/532-southwark-military-hospital.

[4]      Whilst Eustace had later been in the Labour Corps, this Corps always suffered from its treatment as something of a second class organization, and the men who died are typically commemorated under their original Regiment, with the Labour Corps being secondary.

[5]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 23 November 1918.

[6]      From a report of the unveiling, Rugby Advertiser, 11 March 1921; see also https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-loco-steam-shed-memorial.

Collins, Samuel Charles. Died 24th Oct 1918

Samuel Charles COLLINS was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire in about 1895 and his birth was registered there with those names in Q4, 1895.  He was the eldest son of George Thomas Collins (b.c.1874 in Stapleford, Nottingham) and Louisa Annie, née Annis, Collins (b.c.1875 in Titchmarsh, Northampton).  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1895, in Basford, Nottinghamshire.

From the birth records of their other children it seems that the family moved to Long Eaton, Derbyshire before 1898; then to Radford, Nottingham by 1900; and before 1904 to Rugby.  Indeed, Charles, as he was more commonly known, would have six younger brothers by 1911, and two siblings had died before that date.

In 1901, the family was still living in Nottingham at 49 Salisbury Street.  Charles’s father was a ‘cycle fitter’.  It is likely that his father was one of many workers who came to work in Rugby at the expanding British Thompson Houston works in the years immediately before the war.  By 1911, the family was living at 26 Abbey Street, Rugby and Charles was 16 and an ‘Apprentice Engineering’, probably at the B.T.H. works as he was working for them before the war.  His father had moved from the mechanisms of bicycles to become a ‘Fitter Electrical Engineering’, most likely also for B.T.H..

It is not known exactly when Charles joined up, however it must have been fairly early in the war, as his Medal Card states that he went to France on 31 March 1915, and thus qualified for the 1914-15 Star.  He was known to the army as Charles Collins.  The card shows that he was in a Territorial battery of the Royal Field Artillery and he initially had the number 99.  His entry on the Medal Roll states ‘RFA.T.99.Gnr.’.

This early form of number, suggested that he was already a member of the local 1st/1st Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery (Territorial Forces).    Another Rugby casualty, Thomas J Smith,[1] who also worked at B.T.H. was in this unit and also joined up early.  He was a Corporal, No.187 – also a very early number.  Thomas Smith was wounded and died of his wounds on 21 March 1918.

Charles Collins was confirmed as a member of the 4th South Midland (Howitzer), 243 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 5th Rugby Battery, by a list in the papers of Frank West,[2] which included,

Collins, S. C., 99, Gnr, “K” [killed]’ and also included his details from the CWGC site

From the same papers, the 5th Battery, 243, Transfer List, May 1916’ listed: ‘99  Gnr Collins, C.’, as one of the men and officers from the 5th Rugby Battery of the South Midland 243 Brigade who were transferred to become the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of 241 Brigade in May 1916.[3]

It seems that in the 1916 reorganisations of the Royal Field Artillery, Charles Collins was transferred, at least latterly, into the ‘D’ Battery, 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 840100.[4]  As this Brigade’s Division did not go to France until early 1916, Charles who was already in France, probably joined them to provide more experienced men, and it was perhaps in the 1916 reorganisations, that he was promoted to Lance Bombardier.

A note on the renumbering gives some confirmatory information.

These “long” [six figure] numbers came into use on 1 January 1917, even though the men on active service to whom they were allocated were by that time in other Brigades. … Sampling the medal cards shows that some of the men with lower service numbers on this list who usually have short service numbers too, went out to France when the 4th South Midland Brigade was first sent overseas, arriving in France, 31 March 1915.  … All men who served overseas before the end of 1915 received the 1915 Star and the qualifying date is often marked on their medal cards.

This date 31 March 1915, agrees with the date of entry to France on Charles’s Medal Card – and confirms that he was originally with the 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

In May 1916, before the Battle of the Somme, the Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered. The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade, but its men were scattered, and that is presumably when Charles was posted to the 161st (Yorkshire) Brigade in the 32nd Division.

The ‘CLXI’ or 161st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, was initially in the 31st Division from its formation in April-May 1915 and designated the ‘Yorkshire’.  It was not until August that the Division moved for final training and firing practice at Codford on Salisbury Plain.  They left this Division on 2 December 1915, and joined 32nd Division in the New Year 1916.[5]

In November 1915, the 32nd Division had received a warning order to prepare to sail for France.  However, unless Charles had leave or returned to UK for any reason, he would have joined them at some later date in France.

The 32nd Division remained on the Western Front for the rest of the war and took part in the following engagements:[6]

1916 – Battles of the Somme 1916: the Battle of Albert (1-13 July 1916); the Battle of Bazentin; the Battle of the Ancre.  In 1917 – Operations on the Ancre; the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.  1918 – The First Battle of Arras, a phase of the First Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of Amiens; the Battle of Albert and the Battle of Bapaume, both were phases of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918; the Battle of the St Quentin Canal and the Battle of Beaurevoir, both being phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line; and after Charles’s death, the Battle of the Sambre, including the passage of the Oise-Sambre Canal, a phase of the Final Advance in Picardy.

These many battles would have involved considerable movement of the artillery brigades, and many of the places where the 161st Brigade was in action can be found listed in the Brigade War Diary.[7]  They have also been abstracted and can be found in a posting on the Great War Forum.[8]

The activities of the 161st Brigade in the last month of Charles’s life have been examined, and it is uncertain when he may have been wounded.  During October they were some 10 km. north-east of Saint Quentin and some 20 km. south-east of Cambrai, providing artillery support for ongoing attacks eastwards towards Joncourt, Ramicourt, Brancourt-le-Grand, and Beauregard.

The Diary does not provide daily casualty numbers, but summarises them for the month.  In October 1918, 52 men were wounded, eight being from Charles’s ‘D’ Howitzer Battery.

It is not known whether Charles was one of the eight wounded that month, or whether he had been wounded earlier.  He was certainly evacuated a considerable distance, some 200 kms, presumably to one of the military hospitals at Le Treport on the coast just north of Dieppe as he died from his wounds, on the 24 October 1918, either at Le Treport, or on his way to a hospital there.

He was buried in Plot ref: VII. J. 3A. at the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, and was identified in the CWGC records as ‘Samuel Charles Collins’.  The family message on the gravestone reads ‘A NOBLE SON’.

Le Treport is a small seaport 25 kilometres north-east of Dieppe, France.  During the First World War, it  was an important hospital centre and by July 1916, the town contained three general hospitals (the 3rd, 16th and 2nd Canadian), No.3 Convalescent Depot and Lady Murray’s B.R.C.S. Hospital.  The 7th Canadian, 47th and 16th USA General Hospitals arrived later, but all of the hospitals had closed by March 1919.  As the original military cemetery at Le Treport filled, it became necessary to use the new site at Mont Huon.  There are now 2,128 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and also more than 200 German war graves.  The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

There were no obvious death notices or obituaries in the Rugby Advertiser, however, his death was noted in the Birmingham Daily Post.

R.F.A. – Collins, 840100, Lce.-bdr. C. (Rugby).[9]

As Charles Collins, he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and also the 1914-15 Star.   He is also remembered as C S COLLINS on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also as C S Collins on both the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; and also on the BTH War Memorial.[10] 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Samuel Charles COLLINS 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, May 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/smith-thomas-j-l-died-21st-mar-1918/.

[2]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[3]      From an Appendix to the War Diary of 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery for May 1916, WO 95/2749.

[4]      His number, starting 840***, is compatible with the renumbering of members of the 4th South Midland Brigade. … In 1917 service numbers beginning 840*** were allocated to men who trained in it, just as they were to those already serving at the front.  When posted to the front most of the later recruits with 840*** numbers served with other artillery units.

[5]      Mostly from: https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/royal-field-artillery-brigades/.

[6]      Information from: http://glesgakeelie.proboards.com/thread/2215/32nd-division.

[7]      The War Diary is at TNA ref: WO95/2380 and runs from January 1916 to October 1919.  Ref: UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, 32nd Division, Piece 2380/4: 161 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, (1916 Jan – 1919 Oct).

[8]      A note by ‘Scott’ at https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/131297-32nd-division-161st-yorkshire-brigade-a-battery/, 23 October 2009.

[9]      Birmingham Daily Post, Saturday, 7 December 1918.

[10]     This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

Lines, Frederick John. Died 6th Oct 1918

Frederick John LINES was born in Rugby in 1897 and his birth was registered there in Q4, 1897He was the second son and third child of Henry Lines, b.c.1860, in Rugby, and Sarah, née Moreley, Lines, b.c.1857 in Draycott, Warwickshire.  They were married on 6 August 1877 in the parish church, Bishop Ryder, Birmingham.

In 1901, the family was living at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick was three year old and had two elder siblings: a sister, Edith aged 8; and a brother, William, aged 7.  Frederick’s father was a baker.  In the 1911 census, the family were still in the same five-roomed house at 17 Spring Street, Rugby.  Frederick’s father was still a baker, and another baker was lodging at the house.  Frederick went to Murray School, and before the war, he was working for Mr C B Jones, a hairdresser in Murray Road, who also served in the war and was killed in action on 9 October 1917.[1]

Frederick joined up in Birmingham,[2] in August, 1916, and served as a Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery.  He was, at least latterly, Gunner, No. 159945, in the 124th Brigade H.Q.  This Brigade was in the 37th Division.

The 124th Brigade RFA was a War Raised Unit of the K4 formed in 1914/15.  It originally consisted of ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ Batteries, each with 4 x 18 Pounders.  It joined the 37th Division in April 1915 and went to France with the 37th at the end of July of that year.  Over the course of the war there were some major changes in the organization of artillery units within the Divisions, Corps and Armies.  On 4 August 1916, ‘A’ battery of the 126th [4.5 inch Howitzer] Bde. was transferred to become the ‘D’ howitzer battery of the 124th Bde.  Then on 31 August 1916, ‘C’ Battery of the 124th Bde. was broken up to give ‘A’ and ‘B’ batteries six guns each and a further 2-gun section from ‘C’ Battery of the 126th Bde. was transferred to bring ‘D’ Howitzer Battery of 124th Bde. up to 6 guns.  After 31 August 1916 the 124th Bde. consisted of three 6-gun batteries of 18-pounders (‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’) and a battery of 4.5 in Howitzers (‘D’ battery).[3]

The 37th Division took little part in the fighting begun by the German Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’,[4] in March 1918, but did take part in the first counter-offensive, the April 1918 Battle of the Ancre, which included the world’s first tank versus tank combat at Villers-Bretonneux.  At this time the division was under the command of Third Army’s IV Corps, and remained part of this formation for the rest of the war.  The division took part in the Hundred Days Offensive, fighting in the Battle of Amiens, the 1918 Second Battle of the Somme, the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, and after Frederick’s death, the Battle of the Selle and the Battle of the Sambre.

On 6 October 1918, the War Diary of the 13th Fusiliers,[5] a component of the 37th Division related that the Battalion was at Banteux about 7 miles south-west of Cambrai, and advancing eastwards.  They would have been taking part in the Battle of the Hindenburg Line, which was fought between 2 September and 12 October 1918.  The Divisional Artillery would have been following up and be some way behind the line of advance, but it seems likely that Frederick was wounded in or around the Gouzeaucourt area, south-west of Cambrai.

By using the 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery’s War Diary,[6] for the period before Frederick’s death, it is possible to speculate as to when he was wounded.

Whilst generally only monthly casualty figures are given, during September 1918, 124th Brigade Royal Field Artillery lost three Officers wounded, and seven Other Ranks killed and 32 wounded.  Most of these were incurred when the infantry had entered Marcoing, some four miles south-west of Cambrai, on 28 September when,

… the enemy having evidently decided to withdraw and hold the line of the St. Quentin canal.  The 124th Bde. RFA moved up … but the enemy had already withdrawn out of range of the batteries. … the batteries moved forward again … From dusk onwards, the enemy artillery and bombing aeroplanes were extremely active, Battery and Wagon Lines were subjected to heavy fire.  ‘C’ Battery suffered heavily from bombing, losing one Officer … wounded, 3 Other Ranks killed and 23 wounded, and 50 horses killed and wounded.

By the end of the month, the infantry were attempting to cross the St. Quentin Canal.  During October 1918, the Brigade lost eight Officers wounded, and ten Other Ranks killed and 42 wounded.  On the night of 1-2 October and 3 October, the War Diary related,

‘Hostile fire continued to be heavy throughout the day and the night. … Enemy artillery continued very active on both Battery and Wagon Line areas.’

There are no entries between 3 and 8 October, suggesting a pause in activity, with presumably lesser casualties.

Frederick Lines was probably among those wounded in late September or early October.  The wounded would have been evacuated, first to an Aid Post or a Field Ambulance, and then to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), which would treat a man sufficiently for his return to duty or to enable him to be evacuated to a Base Hospital.

When considering when Frederick was wounded, one must consider that it would have taken some time to reach the CCS, so he was probably wounded a few, or several, days before he died.  He was most likely wounded either in the bombing on 28 September, or by the hostile artillery on night 1-2 to 3 October 1918.

Frederick died of his wounds, aged 20, probably at a CCS at Grevillers – or on his way there.  He was therefore buried in the nearby Grevillers British Cemetery, in Plot ref: XVI. C. 11.

Grevillers is a village in the Department of the Pas de Calais, 3 kilometres west of Bapaume.  The village of Grevillers was occupied by Commonwealth troops on 14 March 1917 and in April and May, the 3rd, 29th and 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations were posted nearby.  They began the cemetery and continued to use it until March 1918, when Grevillers was lost to the German during their great advance.  On the following 24 August, the New Zealand Division recaptured Grevillers and in September, the 34th, 49th and 56th [Known as South Midland CCS] Casualty Clearing Stations came to the village and used the cemetery again.  After the Armistice, 200 graves were brought in from the battlefields to the south of the village, … The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.[7]

When a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, a personal family message was added which read ‘The Lord Gave & The Lord Taketh Away’.

Frederick’s death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser in November 1918.
 Gunner F J Lines, youngest son of Mrs Lines and the late Mr Lines, 17 Spring Street, died of wounds on October 6th.  He was an old Murrayian, 20 years of age, and before joining the army in August, 1916, was employed the late Mr C B Jones,[8] hairdresser, Murray Road, who has also been killed in action.[9]

Frederick John LINES is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and his Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick John LINES 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, August 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/jones-charles-bradlaugh-died-9th-oct-1917/.

[2]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[3]      The source is not entirely clear, but it is assumed that ‘D’ battery became the new ‘C’ battery and gained two more 18 pounders from another elsewhere.

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

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), 37th Division, Piece 2538/3: 13 Battalion Royal Fusiliers (1918 Feb – 1919 Feb).

[6]      The National Archives, WO 95 – War Office: First World War and Army of Occupation War Diaries, WO 95 – 37 Division, WO 95/2521 – Divisional Troops. Ref: WO 95/2521/4, 124 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 1915 July – 1919 Mar.  See also: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354060.

[7]      Extracted from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/29602/grevillers-british-cemetery/.

[8]      C B Jones subsequently worked for BTH, see: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/jones-charles-bradlaugh-died-9th-oct-1917/.

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

Tilley, Horace Alfred. Died 27th Sep 1918

Horace Alfred TILLEY was born in Beckenham in 1898.  He was the elder son and second child of Alfred ?Horatio Tilley, b.c.1870, in Greenwich, and Mary, née Rickards, Tilley, also born in Greenwich in about 1876.  Their marriage was registered in Lewisham in Q4, 1895.  Horace’s birth was registered in Q2, 1898, in Bromley, Kent.

The family had moved to Beckenham, Kent, where their four eldest children were born and then to Weybridge, Surrey, where three younger children were born.

In 1901, the family was sharing a house at 28 Cherry Lane, Beckenham.  Alfred was a domestic gardener.

Before 1911, the family had moved near to Rugby.  In 1911, Alfred, was a ‘head gardener’ and he and Mary had been married 15 years – and all six of their children were still living.  The family were living in Newton Road, Clifton upon Dunsmore, near Rugby.  Horace was 13, so he would be only 16 when war broke out and whenever he ‘joined-up’, it would another two years before he was old enough to serve abroad.

Before the war, Horace worked in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.

In November 1915, Horace was mentioned as a ‘Single Man’, who had signed up under Lord Derby’s Scheme.

The Recruiting Position.  Clear Definition by Lord Derby.  Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme.  Local Enlistments under the Group System.  … The following have enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group System. … Tilley, Horace, Church Street, Clifton.’[1]

The CWGC site gives the Service Number: 212890 for an H. Tilley who was killed on 27 September 1918.  However, the Medal Card relating to this number is for a ‘George H. Tilley’ of the Royal Field Artillery.  There are no death records from the RFA relating to a George Tilley, and it must be assumed that this was a clerical error.

He was, at least latterly, in the “D” Battery, 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, as a Gunner, No: 212890, Royal Field Artillery.

The four – L to LIII (Howitzer) Brigades of the Royal Field Artillery (9th Divisional Artillery) – were formed as part of the raising of the First New Army, K1.  They are also sometimes shown as 50 to 53 (Howitzer) Brigades RFA.

LII [or 52nd Brigade] was originally comprised of numbers 166, 167 and 168 Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column.  It was placed under command of the 9th (Scottish) Division and went to France with it in May 1915.  In February 1915 the three six-gun batteries were reorganised to become four four-gun batteries and were titled as A, B, C and D.

On 21 February 1916 D Battery left to join 53 Brigade of the same Division, … The Brigade left 9th (Scottish) Division on 8 January 1917 to become an Army Field Artillery Brigade.

Various other re-organisations occurred, and it has not been possible to find all the areas where this Artillery Brigade was in action in late September 1918 – although a War Diary for a transport section is available from the TNA.[2]

Thus the details of Horace’s death are unknown.  He was buried in Plot ref: II. C. 16 in the Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-Les-Cagnicourt.  There was no age or personal family message on the gravestone.

Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt is 16 kilometres south-east of Arras … The Cemetery is 2.5 kilometres north-east of Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, in fields reached by a track signposted off the road between Hendecourt and the Arras to Cambrai road.  Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt was captured by the 57th (West Lancashire) and 52nd (Lowland) Division on the night of the 1-2 September 1918. Dominion Cemetery was made by Canadian units in September 1918, after the storming by the Canadian Corps of the Drocourt-Queant Line; … There are now over 200, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site.

Driver A Hodgeson from the same company, who was originally listed as killed on the same day, was later recorded as killed in action two days earlier on 25 September, and was buried next to Horace Tilley.

His death was recorded in the Rugby Advertiser and also in the Birmingham Daily Post.

TILLEY – Killed-in-action in France on September 27th, 1918, Gunner HORACE A. TILLEY, R.F.A., aged 20, elder son of Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Tilley, 46 Railway Terrace, Rugby.[3]

Gunner Horace Tilley, Royal Artillery, son of Mr. A. H. Tilley, 46, Railway Terrace, Rugby, was formerly employed in the Controller’s Department at the B.T.H.[4]

Horace Tilley is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the list of BTH Employees who served in the War 1914-1918; although for some reason he does not appear on the BTH War Memorial.[5]  He is also listed on the memorial at St Mary the Virgin Church, Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, where a commemorative window has a plaque which reads

‘To the Glory of God and in honoured memory of Clifton Men who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918 … This window was given by the Parishioners.’

His Medal Card [under the incorrect name George] showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. 

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Horace TILLEY 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, May 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.

[2]      Army Troops, 52 Army Field Artillery Brigade, 1917 Jan – 1919 Jan, Catalogue reference: WO 95/203/4.  With thanks for location information provided by: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/261539-army-field-artillery-brigade-52-brigade-rfa/.

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 12 October 1918.

[4]      Birmingham Daily Post, Monday, 14 October 1918.

[5]      This is from a list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled.  It is taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921 and given at https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial.

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.