Renshaw, Alfred James. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Alfred James RENSHAW was born in Rugby in 1896 and his birth was registered in Q2, 1896.   He was baptised on 8 November 1896 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby; when his family lived at 63 Cambridge Street and his father was a ‘Fireman’.  He was the second son, and the third child of five, of William Renshaw (b.c.1867 in Rugby) and Elizabeth, née Clarke, Renshaw (b.c.1867 in Yelvertoft).  Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1892, in Rugby.

In 1901, when Alfred was four, the family was living at 121 Cambridge Street, Rugby.  Alfred’s father was a ‘railway engine stoker’.  It seems from a later letter (below) that he would become a pupil at Murray School.

In 1911, the family was living at 149 Oxford Street, Rugby; Alfred was 14 and an ‘Errand Boy’ at the B.T.H. works.  His elder brother and sister both worked for the ‘Co-op Society’, as a ‘baker’ and a ‘shop assistant’ respectively.  His father had been promoted and was now an ‘engine driver’.  His parents had been married for 19 years and had had five children, all of whom were living.

At some date before to the war, it seems that Alfred had followed in his father’s career footsteps, and had moved to work for the L & N-W Railway, as shown in an article in the Rugby Advertiser in September 1914, entitled ‘Rugby’s Magnificent Response’, which included Alfred’s name.
The following is a list of men from the Locomotive Department of the L & N-W Railway at Rugby …, A J Renshaw, … [1]

It is not known exactly when Alfred joined up, but it must have been early in the war, indeed he was probably already in the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’, as his Medal Card states that he went to France on 31 March 1915, and thus qualified for the 1914-15 Star.  The card shows that he was initially in a Territorial battery of the Royal Field Artillery [RFA] and he had the very early number 52.  This early form of number, would also tend to confirm that he was already a member of the ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ in the local 1st/1st Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery (Territorial Forces).  A number of other Rugby casualties served in this Battery, including: Corporal, No.187, Thomas J Smith,[2] from B.T.H. who was wounded and died of his wounds on 21 March 1918; and Lance Bombardier, No.99, C. S. Collins,[3] also from B.T.H., who died from his wounds, on the 24 October 1918, the day after Alfred.

Alfred Renshaw was confirmed as a member of the ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ – the 4th South Midland (Howitzer), 243 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 5th Rugby Battery, – in a list of the men in the papers of Frank West,[4] which included,
‘Renshaw, A. J., 52, Gnr’

A note on the later renumbering of RFA members also 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.

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

The Battery was recalled from summer camp for training in the Chelmsford area in August 1914, and sailed from Folkestone to Boulogne in ‘mid March 1915’ and concentrated near Cassel.  The Battery left the Division on 16 April 1915.  A summary of their activity from Wikipedia,[5] is given below – it can be seen that there was considerable movement of units, and it is likely that men were also cross-posted, leading to Alfred’s alternate numbers.

The South Midland Division was ordered to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France on 13 March 1915, and the artillery embarked at Southampton for Le Havre, the 1/1st Battery disembarking on 31 March.  By 4 April the division had taken over a section of the front line near Cassel.

However, artillery policy in the BEF was to withdraw heavy batteries from the divisions and group them into dedicated heavy artillery brigades, so on 16 April the battery left the South Midland Division to join Second Army Artillery in time for the Second Battle of Ypres.  At this time the practice was to move batteries between heavy brigades (later heavy artillery groups or HAGs) as required, so the 1/1st Warwickshire Bty moved to XVI Brigade RGA on 10 June, to VIII Brigade RGA on 3 July, to III Corps Artillery with First Army on 21 August, and IV Heavy Bde on 10 November.

In early 1916 the battery was moved again, to 12th HAG with Second Army (10 April), to ‘Loring’s Group’ with I ANZAC Corps (19 May), then to 44th (South African) HAG (5 August), and on to 34th HAG (27 August), which joined Fourth Army on the Somme in September. After the Somme fighting died down, the battery moved within Fourth Army to 7th HAG (30 November) and back to 44th (SA) HAG (23 December).

By the end of 1916 the obsolete 4.7-inch gun had been largely superseded on the Western Front by the modern 60-pounder.  On 28 February 1917 the battery was made up to a strength of six guns when it was joined by a section from the newly-arrived 199th Heavy Bty.  It then moved north on 13 March to join 15th HAG with First Army, arriving on 21 March. Soon afterwards (15 April) it was switched south again to Fifth Army where it joined 9th HAG on 20 April.  Through the early summer the battery continued to be switched rapidly from one HAG to another: 42nd (arriving 19 May), 16th with Third Army (5 July), 52nd with Second Army (9 July), 99th (12 July), then back to 52nd (6 August), and finally 11th (7 September).

By now, Second Army was involved in the Third Ypres Offensive, taking the lead at the Battles of the Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde, which were notable artillery victories. The 60-pounders were used for counter-battery fire before the attack, and then as part of the creeping barrage that led the infantry onto their objectives.  However, the subsequent attacks (the Battles of Poelcappelle, First Passchendaele and Second Passchendaele) were failures. The British batteries were clearly observable from the Passchendaele Ridge and suffered badly from counter-battery fire, while their own guns sank into the mud and became difficult to aim and fire.

While the Ypres offensive was still continuing, the German and Austrian victory at Caporetto on the Italian Front led to British forces being rushed from Flanders to shore up the Italian Army. Even before their defeat the Italians had asked for the loan of heavy artillery, and now a number of units were hurriedly sent by rail, including 1/1st Warwickshire Battery, which went on 14 November.

In February 1916 Alfred was still with the Rugby Howitzer Battery, although a comment ‘I arrived safely back …’, suggests he may have had some leave in late 1915 or early 1916.

OLD MURRAYIAN WITH THE HOWITZER BATTERY.
Gunner A J Renshaw, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, in a letter to his old schoolmaster, says :— “I arrived safely back to the land of mud and water, commonly known as ‘Sunny France.’ During my absence there was plenty of fun going on, and ‘Fritz’ and his ‘brudders’ gave our infantry a surprise visit the other night, but as they strongly objected to their presence in our lines they ‘struck oil’ somewhat and were soon out again on the hop.  Since then we have returned their visit with much more success.  Of late considerable activity has been shown, and by now they are aware of the fact that we are out for business, for we have given them ‘cold feet’ this last month or so, and soon you may here with confidence of our continued success.  Of that there is very little doubt.  We shall fight until we have avenged the dastardly atrocities they have committed in France and Belgian.”[6]

It seems that in the 1916 reorganisations of the Royal Field Artillery, Alfred Renshaw was renumbered and transferred, at least latterly, into the Royal Garrison Artillery, (TF), as a Gunner, No: 314639.  He was also – before or afterwards – in the Royal Field Artillery as Gnr. No: 832129, possibly as a temporary or earlier appointment, as the CWGC still had him listed in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

The UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 records that he was formerly No: 832129, 4th South Midland Howitzer Brigade, R.F.A.; and was then a Gunner, No: 314639, in South Midland (Warwickshire) Heavy Battery. [RGA – (TF)], Royal Garrison Artillery.

The Medal Role for the British War Medal and Victory Medal also states that he was ‘RFA. 832129 Gnr, RGA. (TF)’ and also ‘Gunner, 314639, Royal Garrison Artillery, South Midland (Warwickshire) Heavy Battery. [RGA – (TF)]’.

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 some of its men were scattered, and that may have been when Alfred was posted to the Royal Garrison Artillery.

It seems that later his first Battery was sent to Italy, but Alfred died in France, so he was not with them.  With no service records and the surviving information not giving any specific unit numbers, it seems almost impossible to be absolutely certain where he was when he was wounded.  It would probably have been by counter battery fire, as the Germans tried to halt the advancing allied forces.

However, as the CWGC has him with the 2nd/1st Lancashire Heavy Battery, RGA, it may be possible to hazard a guess.  The 2nd/1st LHB RGA was part of the 57th West Lancashire Division.  They joined the Division on 26 November 1915, received four 4.7-inch guns on 29 December 1915, and later moved independently to France, arriving on 1 July 1916 and coming initially under orders of II Anzac Corps.[7]

In 1918 the Division was engaged in:
The Battles of the Lys (9-29 April) (Divisional artillery only); the Battle of the Scarpe (26-30 August) and the Battle of the Drocourt-Queant Line (2-3 September) both being phases of the Second Battles of Arras 1918.  The Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September-1 October) and the Battle of the Cambrai (8-9 October), in which the Division assisted in the capture of Cambrai, and both of which were phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line.  The occupation of Lille (17 October), and the general final advance in Artois (15 October-1 November), both being phases of the Final Advance in Artois.

The War Diary, [8] provides some indication of the activities of the 57th Division artillery.

In September, the focus of the advance was in the Cambrai area with the Divisional artillery supporting the advance as the troops moved forward toward Cambrai from the west, advancing from Graincourt, to Anneux, Cantaig-sur-Escaut, then around the south of Cambrai, to Proville, Niergnies and on to Awoingt.  Cambrai was taken in this period.

Then in October the Division was moved north via Fromelles to assist the attacks in the Lille area.  During the month the troops advanced and took Lille and passed it by via Hellemmes and on towards Froyennes, near Tournai.  However, in this period the War Diary[9] noted –

20 October – ‘Enemy resistance began to stiffen. …’.

23 October – ‘Hostile artillery continued harassing fire, mainly with field guns and trench mortars.’

The best information at present was that the 2nd/1st Lancashire Heavy Battery, RGA, was with the 57th Division and that Alfred would have been in the Lille area when he was wounded – presumably during the hostile artillery harassment.  Although he may have been wounded in later October, it  may have been in some earlier incident, as he had been evacuated a very considerable distance of some 260 kms, to one of the military hospitals at Rouen.  He died from his wounds, on the 23 October 1918, either in Rouen, or possibly on his way to a hospital there.  He was 22 years old.

After Alfred died, like the great majority of those who died in the various Rouen Hospitals, he was buried in the Rouen city cemetery of St. Sever, in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, in grave reference: S. II. FF. 12.

St. Sever Cemetery and St. Sever Cemetery Extension are located within a large communal cemetery situated on the eastern edge of the southern Rouen suburbs of Le Grand Quevilly and Le Petit Quevilly.   The Extension had been started in September 1916.  During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen.  A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city.  Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war.  They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot.  A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever.  In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920.

Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced his temporary cross, it included his family’s message, ‘AT REST’.  The next of kin was recorded as ‘Mr. F. Keeley, 10 Lodge Road, Rugby’.  He was Alfred’s brother-in-law; Frank Keeley’s marriage to Alfred’s elder sister, Lilian, was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1917 [Rugby 6d,1369].

There were no obvious death notices or obituaries in the Rugby Advertiser, however, his death was noted in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.
‘The Roll of Honour – Coventry and District Casualties, Died of Wounds, Renshaw, 314639, Gunner, A. J. (Rugby), R.G.A.)’.[10]

Alfred James RENSHAW was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and also the 1914-15 Star.   He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and also on a family grave, No. K655, in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Alfred James RENSHAW 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]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914; also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/5th-sep-1914-rugbys-magnificent-response/.

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

[3]      Rugby Remembers, C. S. Collins, 24 October 1918.

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

[5]      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Midland_(Warwickshire)_Royal_Garrison_Artillery#cite_note-15.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 26 February 1916; see also: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/26th-feb-1916-restrictions-on-the-use-of-paper/.

[7]      https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/57th-2nd-west-lancashire-division/, The Long Long Trail, The history of 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division.

[8]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, 57th Division, Piece 2968/2: Commander Royal Artillery (1917 Feb – 1919 Mar).

[9]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery, 57th Division, Piece 2968/2: Commander Royal Artillery (1917 Feb – 1919 Mar).

[10]     Coventry Evening Telegraph, Tuesday, 26 November 1918.

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Samson, Oswald Massey. Died 17th Sep 1918

Oswald Samson was an assistant master at Rugby School, the youngest of the three sons of Charles H Samson FRIBA and his wife Wilhelmina (Mina).  Charles was born in Kent and his wife in Hertfordshire, they were married at Royston in 1872.

Oswald was born in Taunton in 1881 and baptised at Taunton St Mary on 8 August that year.  His father was an architect, the family home being The Laurels, Maplegrove Road.  His two older brothers were Harold Overell Samson and Charles Potter Samson.

In 1891 Oswald was a scholar aged 9 living with his parents still at The Laurels in Taunton.  He attended Cheltenham College 1895-8, and in 1899 entered Hertford College, Oxford, where he studied mathematics and graduated in 1902 with an Honours degree.  He was a keen cricketer and played for Somerset 1900-1913.  He joined the staff of Rugby School in September 1903.  By 1908 he was living at 41 Hillmorton Road.  His parents had come to Rugby to join him, maybe once he had been appointed to Rugby School, by which time his father would have been 65 and probably retired.  The family was certainly comfortably off, as the house in 1911 is listed as having 12 rooms, and there were two resident servants.

Oswald Massey Samson

Oswald joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as Gunner 194259, and according to his medal card was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in April 1917.  At the time of his death he was in 143rd Siege Battery.  He died of wounds on 17 September 1918 and is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension on the Somme.  This cemetery contains the reburied remains from 11 small cemeteries in the area, of soldiers who were mainly first interred in September 1918 including Oswald.

A brief obituary appeared in the Taunton Courier of 9 October 1918.  Probate was granted to his two brothers, his estate amounting to almost £6000.  His mother had predeceased him in 1917, his father died in 1925.

As well as being commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates, his name appears on memorials in Taunton St Mary, Hertford College and Rugby School Memorial Chapel.  He was awarded the Victory and British War medals.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Sources:

Taunton parish register on Ancestry

Censuses  1891 RG12/1877/106 p16;  1901 RG13/2276/118 p4;  1911 RG14/18600

Taunton Courier 9 Oct 1918 p4 Col 5 on Findmypast

CGWC

Probate register 1919

Medal card

General Register Office indexes

Wikipedia

www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org/life story/3889241

Mann, George Henry. Died 3rd Apr 1918

George Henry MANN was born in about 1879 in Rugby. He was the son of Edward Thomas Mann, born in about 1852 in Boston, Lincolnshire, and Emma, née Hitchcox, Mann who was from Milverton, Warwickshire. It seems that Emma’s family had moved to Rugby in the later 1850s, and that Edward – who is missing from the 1871 census – was also in Rugby before 1875, when their marriage was registered in Rugby in Q4 1875. Their second son, George Henry, was baptised on 23 February 1879 at St Matthew’s church, Rugby.

In 1881 the family, including two year old George, his elder brother William Edward and the baby, Albert John, were all living at 11 Oxford Street, Rugby. Edward Thomas Mann was a 27 year old Engine Driver with the L&NW railway.

By 1891 there were three more young daughters in the family, and the family had moved to 120 Oxford Street. By 1901 they were living at 98 Oxford Street [possibly a post office renumbering], and there was another baby boy in the family. George was still living at home and working as a ‘painter and decorator’. By 1911 the rest of the family, including one of the sons who was now married and his wife, had moved to 142 Bath Street, Rugby. Most of the now adult ‘children’ were working at BTH or at the ‘Lamp Factory’.

George married Ellen Rainbow, née Hammond, Mann [1879-1957] at Ryton on Dunsmore, on 21 December 1903, after banns had been called for the third time on 29 November 1903. Their daughter Ivy Annie Mann, was born in Rugby on 21 December 1904.

By 1911, George with his wife and daughter had moved to 102 Oxford Street, Rugby. George and Ellen had now been married eight years, and at this date still had just the one child. Frank was aged 32 and a ‘House Painter & Journeyman’. He later described himself as a ‘Decorator & Paper Hanger’.

However, after a ten year gap, they were to have two more children, Jack Thomas Mann, born on 23 September 1913 and Gladys Florence Mann, born on 20 December 1915.   All three children are recorded on his later Pension/Service Record which has survived.

Thomas was attested at Rugby on 10 December 1915, aged 37, – although the paperwork was not ‘approved’ until the 7 July 1916 the document being signed at the Citadel, Plymouth. He joined up as a Gunner, No.98658, in the 262nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.   His height was 5 foot 6¾ inches.   He remained on an ‘At home’ posting until 4 September 1916.

On 6 July 1916 he was revaccinated, at Plymouth where he was stationed from 6 July until 5 September 1916. Then on 5 September 1916, he was posted to Malta until 5 July 1917.

He was then posted back ‘Home British’ from 6 September 1917 until 8 January 1918, with a period at ?‘2 Dep’ from 14 July 1917 and ?’1 rev Sge’ from 24 July 1917. During this period he also spent time at the Instructional Battery at the Chapperton Down Artillery School at West Lavington. On 26 September 1917 he ‘overstayed his leave’ [probably after his Malta posting] from noon on 26 September until 7.45pm on 27 September. He was admonished and forfeited one day’s pay.

On 9 January 1918 he was posted to BEF France and then to the base depot, in the field, of the 262nd siege battery on 13 January 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.

It was thought that it would have been during this preliminary shelling of the British artillery positions early on 21 March 1918 – and thereafter – that George was wounded. However, it seems that George may have received the ‘gunshot wound to the right leg’, sufficiently before this date, so that on 20 March 1918 he had already been evacuated to the 4th General Hospital, at ‘Dannes-Camiers’, just north of Etaples.[1] He was listed as ‘serious’ and his leg was amputated. Unfortunately this did not save his life and he ‘died of wounds’ at the hospital on 3 April 1918.

He was buried in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery which was used by the hospitals in the area. His body was buried in grave ref: XXXIII, D, 31A. Later, when a permanent gravestone replaced the temporary cross, his family’s message, ‘Deeply Mourned by Sorrowing Wife & Children – Peace Perfect Peace’ would be engraved upon it.

The Etaples Military Cemetery is located on the former site of a large military hospital complex at Etaples, a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne.   The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town. The nearby hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick.

On about the day that he died, his wife received a telegram from the army stating that,
‘Regret to inform you Officer Commanding 4 General Hospital Camiers telegraphs 2 April your husband 98658 Gnr G H Mann 262 Siege Bty RGA dangerously ill. Regret permission to visit him cannot be given.’

George Henry MANN 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 wife applied for these in about August 1921, ‘… as my little son, as I think he is entitled to them.’ They were received on 15 September 1921.

George’s widow was awarded a pension for herself and their three children.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on George Henry MANN 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, January 2018.

[1]       No.4 General Hospital was at St. Nazaire in September 1914; Versailles, from September 1914 to January 1916; then at Camiers, just north of Etaples, from January 1916 to April 1919; and after the war at Dunkerque, from April to November 1919.

Wingell, Archibald John. Died 31st Jul 1917

Archibald John WINGELL was born in about early 1879 in Leicester. He was the only son of Arthur Wingell, a book-keeper [born c.1855, in Guilsborough, Nothamptonshire], and his wife, Lucy Ann [Fanny], née Ireland, [b.c.1851, who was from Leicester]. Their marriage was registered in Leicester in Q2 1877.

In 1881, when Archibald was two, the family was living at 34 Chestnut Street, Leicester. By 1891 they had moved to Rugby and were living at 34 Bath Street.   Archibald was now 12 and he had a sister, Edith Minnie, who was eight and had been born in Aylestone, Leicestershire. Their father was now a Grocer.   On census night Archibald’s mother’s sister, Martha, a schoolmistress, and his grandmother, Hannah Ireland, were staying with them.

In 1901, the family were still in Rugby, but had moved to 11 Arnold Street. Archibald’s father, Arthur, was a ‘grocer’s clerk’ and Archibald was a ‘tailor’s cutter’.   His sister, Edith Minnie was working at home as a ‘milliner’.

It seems from papers in his effects, that Archibald had become – or perhaps was studying to become – a Mason, although nothing further is known.

It seems that Archibald moved to London and on 2 April 1911 the census noted that he was aged 30 and boarding at 37 Angles Road, Streatham, and still working as a ‘tailor’s cutter’.

Soon afterwards he married Agnes Anne Howse, then a ‘showroom assistant’ on 15 August 1911 at St James’ church, Ramsden, Oxfordshire. She was born in Ramsden in 1885 and her father was a blacksmith. In April 1911 she had been an assistant draper in the High Street, Banbury.

The Electoral Registers for 1914 and 1915 listed him in a ‘dwelling house’ at 78 Harborough Road, Streatham.

Archibald enlisted, aged 36 years and 11 months, on 9 December 1915. He was living at 78 ‘Harbour’ [Harborough] Road, Streatham, Surrey. He was 5ft 8inches tall and had a birth mark on the outside of his right thigh. He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner, No.101045. His Service Record survives, probably because his widow later received a pension and the Pension Records were not affected by the WWII fire.

He was on ‘Home Service’ from 21 June 1916 to 9 July 1917. He was promoted to ‘Lance Rank’ on 19 August 1916 and then to Acting Bombardier on 22 January 1917. He then went to join the British Expeditionary Force in France on 10 July, and on 17 July was posted from ‘base’ to the 23rd Heavy Battery, which had arrived in France, some two years earlier, on 15 September 1915.

Less than three weeks after going to France, he received gunshot wounds to his groin and back whilst he was ‘in action’ and was transferred to the 140th Field Ambulance, which was attached to the 41st Division in France where he died of his wounds on 31 July.

The 41st Division had been involved in the Battle of Messines in June 1917, before Archibald arrived in France. The Division was then involved in the initial action of the Battle of 3rd Ypres – the Battle of Pilckem Ridge which started on 31 July 1917, the day he died.

He was buried near the ‘Great Cross’ in Plot II. A. 3., in the La Clytte Military Cemetery. His gravestone includes the following words from his widow: ‘Adieu until we meet above’.

La Clytte Military Cemetery is located 8 kms west of Ieper [Ypres]. The hamlet of La Clytte was used as Brigade Headquarters, and burials were carried out by Infantry, Artillery and Engineer units (out of 600, 250 are those of Artillery personnel and 66 are those of Engineers).

After the war, his next of kin, his widow, Agnes Anne Wingell, was still living at their home, 78 Harborough Road, Streatham, S.W. 16. On 29 January 1918 she received Archibald’s effects, and it seems that there were a considerable number, probably reflecting that he was behind the lines with the artillery, where his effects could be recovered, rather than in the front line. His effects included:

‘Disc, Letters, (1 Registered open), Photos, small photo-case, Pocket book, Religious Book, 9ct Gold Ring, silver cigarette case, fountain pen & filler, Lodge rules, letter wallet, training card, Ribbon brooch, Cigarette holder, medal ribbons (3 pieces), sundry papers & cards, sundry Masonic papers, eyeglass, key, watch (broken), mirror, tobacco pouch, metal comb, penny stamp’.

The Register of Effects[1] confirms his rank, number and place and date of death. His back pay of £4-15-2d was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Agnes, on 12 January 1918, and his War Gratuity of £4-0-0d was paid to her on 3 December 1919.   Agnes was awarded a pension of 13/9d per week with effect from 18 February 1918.

Archibald John Wingell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals which were received by his widow on 6 October 1921. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

At the time of Archibald’s marriage in 1911, his father was a ‘Broker’s agent’, but he died in Rugby in 1913, aged 58. After the war, in 1919, his widowed mother, Lucy, was still living in Rugby, at 69 Manor Road. His sister had married in mid-1907 with Augustus Frank Lane, and was now Mrs Edith Lane and they were living at 6 Holbrook Avenue, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Archibald John WINGELLwas researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, July 2017.

[1]       UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929.

Dexter, Percy John. Died 10th Jul 1917

Percy John Dexter was born in Birmingham in 1889. Son of William Herbert Dexter (b.1862 – d.1919) and Betsy Chinn (b.c1858 – d. 1890). Both of whom were of Coventry. Two older brothers, also born in Birmingham, were Herbert (b.1885 – d.1954) and Frederick William (b.1887 – d.1967). After the death of Percy’s mother Betsy, his father moved to Rugby in 1892 and married Sarah Ann Franklin of Dunchurch. There were at least a further seven siblings, all born in Rugby. Evelyn (b.c1894, Ethel Lilian (b.1896 – d.1962), Violet (b.1897), Grace Ellen (b.1898), Winifred (b.1901), Gladys (b.1902) and Edith Emily (b.1908). The first two brothers both returned to Coventry to live, work and die. His father – William H. – was joiner and carpenter throughout his life and freeman of the City of Coventry. He had worked for both the major building firms in Rugby, Parnell and Linnell, and was an active trades unionist and co-operator.

Percy’s trade was a painter and house decorator and before the start of the War he had joined with his father in a business partnership. He was secretary of the New Bilton Cricket Club and was also a well-known footballer. In 1911 Percy married in Rugby, Beatrice Louisa Ward, from Norfolk (b.1887 – d.1981). A son, Maurice William, was born 14 October, 1912, in Rugby, he died in 1993. At the time Percy died his wife lived at Lawford Road, New Bilton.

Percy attested under the ‘Derby’ scheme, and joined the Army in August 1916. He became a Gunner in the 219th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The 219th S.B. arrived in France on 2 December, 1916. During the spring of 1917 it had moved from active duty in the Arras area (Bouvigny Wood, Noulette), then North to Bethune for rest (mid.May). By 12 June they arrived at St. Sylvestre Cappelle, moving to the Belgian coast at St. Idesbald three days later. On 21 June two of their four howizters were installed in the sand dunes at Nieuport, close to the front-line. Other Siege Batteries were in the area, including at Nieuport dunes, the 227th, 268th 2000m away at Ramscappelle and 330th at Dominion Farm (Naval Seige Gun H.Q.), and nearby during July included 325th, 133rd, 94th and several others.

There was a frequent bombardment of the enemy, besides the test firings to calibrate for range. Enemy targets include hostile batteries, machine gun emplacements, trench and wire entanglements disruption, road, houses, etc. Aeroplane registration of targets (by wireless) was a regular feature. All direction of fire was by reference to a standard grid system on local maps.

Percy J Dexter was killed in action on the 10 July, 1917. Two comrades died the same day, Gnr. Frederick William Mason Baker and Gnr. Wilfred James Slade. All were buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery. 117 men of the R.G.A. are buried in this cemetery. The majority died in July, August and September of 1917.

On 10 July, 1917, there were 867 Commonwealth deaths world-wide, 121 buried in France, 611 buried in Flanders.

On 31 July, 1917, began the third battle of Ypres. Total Commonwealth deaths in one day – over 6,000.

Coxyde is located adjacent to St. Idesbald, and is within 8000m of the areas mentioned. The cemetery was begun by French troops, but the area was defended by the British from June to December 1917, and now contains 1,507 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Percy John Dexter is remembered on the Rugby Town Memorial and New Bilton (Croop Hill Cemetery) Memorial.

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Canham, Archibold. Died 27th May 1917

Archibald ‘Arch’ Canham’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1883 and he was baptised on 27 April 1883 at St. Andrew’s Church, Rugby. He was a son of John Canham, a groom from Hatfield, Hertfordshire and Alice née Kaye Canham who was born in Cobham, Surrey, and the couple married there on 20 September 1876. In 1883 the family lived at 5 James Street, Rugby.

Arch was one of six children. He had three sisters: two elder: Milly (1877-1926) who married Will Procter and lived in Grosvenor Road, Rugby; and Elizabeth (1879-1933) who never married; and one younger, Alice, who died aged eight, in 1892. He had an older brother John ‘Jack’ who was a storekeeper at BTH and a younger brother, Joe, who worked as an engineering machinist at Lodge Plugs. Joe married Mary Louisa Lloyd in 1925 and her brother Bert Lloyd opened and ran Clifton post office.

The photograph shows Arch and his wife, Laura, sitting on the fence. Milly is on the far right, and Elizabeth is pictured left. Joe is in the centre. The identity of the man next to Elizabeth is unknown.

In 1891, when Arch was eight, his family was living in London Road, Stretton upon Dunsmore. Arch and Jack went to school in Dunchurch. Jack’s daughter Betty later recalled: ‘Dad and uncle Arch were always the first to be allowed to go home if the weather got bad, or if it got very dark, because they had the furthest to go. They had to walk past a big avenue of firs, and it was quite scary, and they were always very glad that granny waited outside for them in a big white apron, so that they could see her.’

In 1901, aged 18, Arch was working as a house painter, and presumably working on a contract as he was living in Buxton, Derbyshire, and in lodgings together with several other painters.   Buxton was an expanding spa town (work was begun on Buxton Opera House in 1901, and it opened in 1903). It is just possible that Arch and the other painters also worked there.

His father, John Canham, died in October 1907 after he was kicked in the stomach by a horse. He was buried at St John’s, Hillmorton.

In 1911, Arch, aged 28, and still single, and living back at home with his widowed mother and his 16-year-old younger brother Joe in Hillmorton. At some time prior to WWI he must have started working for the local building firm J. Parnell and Son.

He married Laura Emily Knight on 25 March 1913 at the Church of the Holy Rood, Daglingworth, Gloucestershire.   Little is known of her, or how it was that they came to meet.

Their daughter Muriel Mary was born in Rugby on 30 December 1914, when the family was living at 19 Benn Street.

There was little information on his Medal Card, but fortunately his Service/Pension Record is one of the small number still available. He took the Attestation oath at Rugby on 10 December 1915 when he was a ‘painter and paper hanger’. He was then 33 years old; 5ft 6in in height; and had an ‘amputation terminal phalanx left index finger’, i.e. he had lost the top joint of that finger. He was still at 19 Benn Street. He was posted on 27 May 1916 and his papers noted he was ‘appointed’ to the Royal Garrison Artillery, the documents being stamped ‘Plymouth’ on 30 May 1916.

‘Arch’ joined up as No.86927 [on his Medal Card] and 86972 [on his initial CWGC grave registration record, but later corrected], in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was in the UK on ‘home service’ for nearly a year from 27 May 1916 until 17 May 1917. He was first posted to No.3 Depot RGA from 27 May 1916, then to 36 Company on 3 June 1916. On 13 January 1917 he was posted to the ‘Signalling School’ where he passed his ‘1st Class Signalling and Telephony’ course at Hepswell Camp – at Catterick, Yorkshire – on 24 January 1917, a mere ten days later! He was apparently posted near the end of this short course to the ‘A Depot Siege Artillery’ on 20 January 1917, and then to his unit, the 332nd Siege Battery on 15 February 1917.

His ‘overseas service’ in France commenced on 18 May 1917 when the Battery embarked at Southampton and disembarked the next day at Le Havre. They went out to the Western Front armed with four 6 inch howitzers. The unit first went into the line at Ploegstreet and Le Bizet [both in Belgium near the French border], before moving to Ypres.[1] However, a mere nine days after arriving in France, he was acting as a signaller and was involved fierce fighting at Pont-de-Nieppe. Nieppe is a French village four kilometres north-west of Armentieres on the road to Bailleul. The bridge at Pont-de-Nieppe had been seized by the 1st Hampshires on 16 October 1914 and the village then stayed in Allied hands until 11 April 1918.

Arch’s unit would probably have been mobilised and brought forward to assist in the preparations for the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917. This was an attack on the Wyschaete-Messines Ridge, south of Ypres in the Vimy to Arras sector. There was a seven day preliminary artillery bombardment before the infantry assault and many of the infantry battalions had been billeted in Pont-de-Nieppe before going forward to the farms around the south and west of Ploegsteert Wood.

The Germans were aware that an attack was imminent and would no doubt have been trying to disrupt the build up and emplacement of artillery, as described in the published diaries[2] of two Australian gunners, Harrold ‘Hal’ Stevens and William ‘Billy’ O’Neil who described their time in Nieppe during the period leading up to, and indeed after, 27 May 1917.

Hal’s Diary – 24th May.
All guns taken away and placed in a line ‘shoulder to shoulder’ for what appears a big offensive. Guns of all calibres. We are on the eve of great things and I pray I may be spared to see it through although it will be a fearful experience. Still I would not miss it for any money.

Hal’s Diary – 27th May.
Another of our guns smashed to be taken to ordinance depot as a shell struck it today. We have no cover now. When will the strafe occur? Our positions were not occupied as fresh orders were to hand and great ‘goings-on’ forecast – there was to be a big offensive on a grand scale. The eighteen pounders were to be shoulder to shoulder for miles and miles and guns of all calibres were to be in support! It was the eve of great and far-reaching events! So the rumours circulated. … The battery had orders Heavy batteries were drawing big guns by motors, the naval pieces with their extremely long barrels, and in contrast the ‘hows’ thick and short, all assembling steadily for the big ‘stunt’. … The guns were in their new positions with heavy English guns on their left. The latter had been having a hectic time and had lost several men and an officer. Nearly every day the enemy was doing some execution and the strange part was that very little counter battery work was being done by the British. It was thought that the idea was to keep the location of the batteries a secret until the day of revenge. Anyhow, it was galling to be doing so little and receiving so much from the opposition. Several men were killed near by, but none of Billy’s companions were hurt, and they were moved to a flank as the shelling was severe all around them.

Billy O’Neil’s Diary – Sunday 27th May
Shelling woke us up – they were after dump behind us. ‘F’. Sub. put out of action and some Tommies on left killed.

Maybe it was Arch who was one of those ‘Tommies’ or among those ‘several men’ who were lost. It was during this period he was wounded, and he died ‘in the field’ from his wounds on 27 May 1917. He had served for 1 year and 167 days. A confirmatory copy Death Certificate was later issued.

Arch was buried in Plot: II. D. 8. in the Pont de Nieppe cemetery, Nieppe, in the Departement du Nord, France. His memorial stone has the added words from his widow, ‘Thanks be to God that such have been’.

Nieppe is a village 4 kilometres north-west of Armentieres on the road to Bailleul.   The village was in the Allied hands from mid-October 1914 until 11 April 1918. Pont-De-Nieppe Communal Cemetery was used by Commonwealth field ambulances and fighting units from October 1914 to March 1918.

Administration was granted in London to his widow, Laura Canham, on 19 June 1918. His Estate was valued at £267-6-10d. His address was given as the family home at 19 Benn Street, Rugby. After Arch’s death, his wife’s mother became ill.   Laura sold the house in Benn Street and before 13 October 1917 she had returned home to Grove Hill, Daglingworth, near Cirencester. Correspondence exists regarding Arch’s plaque and scroll and giving this address on 15 April 1919 and also when she acknowledged receipt of his ‘British War and Victory Medals’ on 2 May 1922.

A letter dated 12 December 1917 advised that Laura was awarded ‘… a pension of 18/9 a week for herself and one child with effect from 17/12/1917 …’.

Arch’s service papers also include details of his family and next of kin which were provided by his widow on 30 April 1919. She was still living at 19 Benn Street, Rugby, as was their daughter Muriel Emily Canham.   His mother was widowed and living at ‘Hillmorton, nr. Rugby’. His elder brother, John Canham was now 38 years old and living at 36 Caldecott Street, Rugby and his younger brother, Joe was 23 and also living in Hillmorton. His elder sister, now Mrs. Emily [Milly] Proctor, was 42 and at 110, Grosvenor Road, Rugby; and his other sister, Miss Elizabeth Canham, was 40 and at Bell Field, Peter’s Green, Luton.

Arch’s sister, Milly’s husband, Will Procter, died in the flu epidemic on 16 March 1920. Milly apparently never got over it and she died in 1926.   Their mother, Alice, died in August 1929, and her funeral service was at the Mission Hall, Hillmorton. His sister, Elizabeth died in 1933. His elder brother, Jack lived on until 1941, dying at the age of 60, and his youngest brother, Joe, died in 1975.   Both brothers had married and had children.

Parnell list of men in WWI

Archibald Canham is commemorated on the War Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby and also on the Hillmorton War Memorial.

He is listed as being Killed in Action on the J. Parnell and Son, Roll of Honour,[3] but has been recorded incorrectly as being in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

The original Parnell ‘Roll of Honour’ was produced in late 1916 and contained ‘…. the names of 22 men who have enlisted from the yard and shops. The ‘roll’, which was tastefully designed and executed by Mr. F. J. R. Cole, Rugby, with appropriate and patriotic embellishments, was framed in oak, and the names enrolled thereon …’.[4]

Nine further names were added to the Roll of Honour later, and Archibald Canham, who was still ‘serving’ at the date the Roll was first made, would be later marked as having been killed.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Archibald Canham 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, July 2014, and updated May 2017.

Many thanks are due to Elaine Canham of Rugby, whose husband is Arch’s great nephew. Her report on Archibald Canham and her family photograph have been incorporated into this study with her permission.

 

[1]       Information from: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/114919-rga-332-siege-battery/.

[2]       Alison Miller (Editor), Death sat on a pale horse – The World War One diaries, letters & sketches of Harold Stephens and W. ‘Billy’ O’Neil, Midlands Heritage Press, Newstead, 2008. See: http://www.hudson-publishing.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/alisonpagesample.pdf.

[3]       The Roll of Honour is held at the Warwick Modern Records Centre and reproduced with their permission.

[4]       Rugby Advertiser, 2 December 1916. The report contains a number of discrepancies especially in the initials .

Donald, Charles. Died 31st Dec 1916

Charles Donald was born in Brighton, Sussex, England to Joseph Donald born 1841 and Frances Beeby born 1839. Frances had been married previously to John Whelan.

John and Frances married in India and had 4 children. Joseph was a regular soldier and the family moved around. Charles’ elder brother was born in Lucknow, India in 1876 followed by Bertha in Aldershot in 1879. The family then moved to Brighton, and then on to Wrexham, Wales where in 1881, Joseph was a Serjeant-Major of the Denbighshire Yeomanry. In 1891 the family had moved to Denbigh, Wales and Joseph is now Troop Superintendent. He died in 1892.

By 1901 Charles had moved to Rugby and in the Census taken that year was living as a Boarder at 30, Arnold Street, Rugby with William and Sarah Daynes. William was one of the earliest photographers of Rugby.

Charles married Alice Wilson on the 2nd of November, 1902 at St. Mary, Far Cotton, Northampton. Alice was the youngest child of Edward and Mary Ann Wilson, both born in Brixworth, Northamptonshire. In 1891 they were living at Kingsthorpe, Northampton, Edward was a Labourer.

They went on to have 3 children, all born in Rugby, Alice, born 1904, who sadly died in 1905, she was followed in 1907 by Charles and in 1909, by Frances Ruth.

In the 1911 census Charles and family are living at 16, Wood Street, Rugby. He is a Compositor working for Overs a letterpress printing company, and had worked for the firm started by G E Over for 16 years.

He became a member of the Rugby branch of the Typographical Society. He also joined the Oddfellows and served as Grand Officer of the Loyal Addison Branch in Rugby.

He joined the Army on 1st of August 1916 as Bombardier in the 262nd Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Siege Batteries were a relatively new method of land warfare. They were based on the Coastal Batteries and each platoon deployed 4 6” Howitzers, which could each fire a 100lb weight shell over a maximum distance of 6,000 yards.

Each platoon comprised 5 Officers and 177 Other Ranks. The guns were pulled by horses, 6 draught, and 80 heavy draught with 6 riding horses. The guns were set on wagons: 3 off 2-horse and 10 off 4-horse. 3 Platoons formed one Siege Battery.

Headquarters (HQ) was staffed as follows: 7 Officers, 137 Other Ranks 21 Riding Horses 5 Draught and 72 Heavy Draught Horses.

Charles died at Aldershot on the last day of 1916. He is buried at Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM