Cowley, Henry Moses. Died 19th Oct 1917

Henry Moses COWLEY was born in about 1883 in Rugby. He was the son of Henry Walter [b.c.1863, Clifton] and Anne/ie [b.c.1859, Swinford], née Turland, Cowley.

Their marriage, in late 1882 or early 1883, was registered in Q1, 1883 in Lutterworth [7a, 17] and their first child, Annie E Cowley, was born at Swinford in 1883 – Annie had probably returned home for the first birth. Henry Moses was born in Rugby, two years later, and was baptised on 12 October 1883 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby; his father was a joiner and they were living in South Street, Rugby.

In 1891 the family were living at 3 Alfred Street, Tamworth, probably Henry’s work as a carpenter had taken him there. In 1901, when Henry was about 17 or 18, his father was still a ‘carpenter’; and they were back in Rugby, living at 48 Claremont Road.   Henry was a clerk for the railway, and his elder sister Annie was a clerk for the Cooperative Society. By 1911, when Henry was 28, he was still single and an Engineering Clerk for an Electrical Manufacturer. The family were now living at 46 Claremont Rd Rugby. His father was listed as a ‘carpenter and joiner’. His sister was not at home.

Henry’s Service Records survive among the ‘Burnt Records’, however, there are not all legible, but provide some details of the complexity of his military service.

He enlisted at Rugby, and took the oath of attestation at Rugby on 19 November 1915 and this was approved on 23 March 1916. He was then 32 years and three months old, a clerk, and enlisted for ‘Garrison Duty’.   He was 5ft 5½ inches tall – and his service reckoned from 22 March 1916 when he now seemed to be 33 years and 90 days old! He had shrunk somewhat and was now only 5ft 4½ inches tall and weighed 122 lbs.

His father, Henry Walter Cowley, is mentioned on Henry’s Service Record, and in 1915, he was nominated as Henry’s next of kin and was then living at 111a Clifton Road, Rugby. However his father’s death, aged 53, was registered in Rugby [6d, 812] in Q4, 1916.

Henry seems to have had various numbers including No.5932 [or indeed No.5931] on forms from 5th Bn., the Royal Warwickshire Regiment [RWarR] and there is also an Army Ordinance Corps document and a Royal Engineers form with Henry’s number as 503775, where he was recorded with ‘trade and special qualifications’ as ‘Proficient’ and a ‘Clerk’. This posting to the Royal Engineers as 503775 is confirmed on his Medal Card.

He did not receive the 1915 Star, which also confirms that he did not go to France until 1916. His Service Record shows that he went to France/Belgium with one of the RWarR Battalions, but the actual date of his embarkation at Southampton and of his subsequent disembarkation cannot be read, but he transferred to the 1st/8th Bn., RWarR on either 14 July 1916 or 31 July 1916.

He suffered some illness and on 25 November 1916 he was at 1/1 SMFA [probably South Midlands Field Ambulance] suffering from Diarrhoea having been admitted to 3CRS[1] on 22 November 1916. He rejoined his unit on 1 December 1916.

He seems to have had a further medical problem and was at ‘CRS IFA’[2] on 6 April 1917 but was back ‘to Duty’ on 20 April 1917.

On 7 June 1917 he was transferred to the 1st/8th Bn. RWarR, which had, on 13 May 1915, become part of the 143rd Brigade in the 48th (South Midland) Division and then on 7 September 1917 he was transferred again to 10th Bn., RWarR, which was in the 57th Brigade in the 19th Division, and was his final Battalion, where he served as No.307605, and this number was used for issuing his medals.

The 10th Bn. RWarR were involved in many of the actions in the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917: the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20 – 25 September 1917); the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September – 3 October 1917); the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October 1917); the Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October 1917) and the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. Presumably Henry took part in and obviously survived all these. There was then a period of comparative calm before the Second Battle of Passchendaele which started on 26 October 1917.

From 14 October 1917 over the last few days before he was killed, the Battalion had been in the trenches, but had had a quiet relief. For the next few days they were in reserve and the days were ‘quiet’ – although ‘quiet’ typically meant that one or two men were wounded each day.

The 10th Battalion War Diary[3] noted:

Thursday 18 October – the Battalion were again ‘in trenches’ and were ‘lightly shelled’ throughout the day and night. ‘Posts & ground were generally in a very bad state.’

Friday 19 October – ‘At night the Battalion was relieved … Quiet but very slow. Relief reported complete at 4.50am on 20th. On relief Coys. proceeded to camp … (Beggers Rest).

Casualties: 3 killed.

Saturday 20 October – ‘Boys had baths. … Working parties in afternoon & evening.’

It seems that Henry Cowley was one of the ‘3 killed’ from the 10th Battalion on Friday 19 October. He was 34. The other two men were Private Carl Rudolf Wedekind, No.2536, aged 19, from Birmingham; and Private Arthur Morton, No.41676.

Their bodies were either never found or not identified. Henry and his two comrades are remembered on Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Henry is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road,

Henry Moses Cowley was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

After his death the Army was instructed that his effects were to be passed to his mother care of H. L. Reddish (Solicitors), 6 Market Place, Rugby, and these were sent on to her on 17 April 1918.

Henry’s Administration was in London on 21 February 1918 to his mother, Anne Cowley, widow, now of Rockingham House, 111a, Clifton Road, Rugby in the amount of £137-0-7d. Various payments were made to his mother by the army: £3-10-10d and 12/2d owing in back pay was paid as £4-3-1d on 6 April 1918 and a further War Gratuity of £6-10s was paid on 15 November 1919.



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

[1]       CRS – Camp Reception Station – When away from the Front Line, the doctor’s post was known as the Camp Reception Station [CRS] or Medical Inspection Room [MI Room] and contained 2 – 6 beds for short term holding for those needing rest but not sick enough to be evacuated, see:

[2]       Probably – ‘Camp Reception Station – 1st Field Ambulance’.

[3]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Piece 2085/3, 10 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, July 1915-March 1919.


Hayes, George Hinde. Died 10th Oct 1917

George Hinde was born in Brinklow in 1884 and baptised there on 3rd August 1884. He was the second son of Charles and Elizabeth (nee Hinde) Hayes who married in 1881. Charles was an Agricultural labourer and in 1891 the family was living with Elizabeth’s father John W Hinde, a carpenter in Brinklow.

In 1901, the family was living at 51 Pinfold Street, New Bilton and George, his age wrongly given as 18, was a labourer at the cement works. By 1911 Charles was a gardener, living at 80 York Street Rugby and George (26) was still living at home. He worked as a railway carter.

By 1914 George Hinde Hayes was a shunter and driver at B.T.H. and joined the Territorials on 27th April. He arrived in France in April 1917 as Company Sergeant Major in the 7th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was wounded on 4th October 1917 at Paaschendaele and died on 10th of that month at no 11 General Hospital, Wimereux.

His Captain wrote:
“I am grieved to think that George has lost his life doing his duty to his country. As an officer of E Coy, I knew him well, and what an excellent N.C.O. he was, as well as a popular and cheerful comrade to all the other boys. I was not at all surprised to hear of his promotion to Coy. Sergt.-Major, as I know of his excellent qualifications for the appointment, and he is just the stamp of man I would have chosen for such a responsible duty myself.”

and his Coy. Quartermaster-Sergt.:
“We are sorry to lose your son, for he was always ready for duty, and the officers all join me in sympathy; we have lost both a good soldier and an ever-cheerful comrade.”

Coy.Sergt.-Major Hayes was awarded the military Cross, because when the advance was held up by a strong enemy machine-gun position, and all the officers became casualties, he took command, and crawled to a flank under direct fire from the post to a position from which he killed several of the enemy. He then led his men in an attack on the post, which he captured with ten prisoners and a machine gun; he showed splendid courage and initiative.

He was buried at Wimereux communal Cemetery. The inscription on his grave reads:

R. I. P.

He is also listed on the BTH War Memorial, together with his brother Frank Hinde Hayes, who died on 19th July 1916.



Lindley, Joseph. Died 5th Oct 1917

Joseph Lindley was born in Hampstead, London in 1875. His father, Henry Lindley, who was born in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, was a miner/subcontractor on the railway. In 1863 he had married Sarah Hibbert in Heaton Norris, near Stockport. Sarah was born in Chapel-en-le-Frith, as were their two older children, George (1865) and John (1867). Mary Ann (1869) and Arthur (1870) were born Marsden, Yorks and William (1872) in Watford, Herts.

Henry Lindley died in 1879 near Northampton and buried at Hardingstone. He was aged 42. It is not known what happened to Sarah, but in 1881 five year old Joseph was in the Wootton Union Workhouse, in Northampton, together with his sister Mary Ann (12) and William (9). Mary Ann died there a year later.

By 1891, William was a shop boy in West Ham, London and Joseph (16) was boarding at 94 Dunston Street, Northampton. He was a shoe finisher.

On 21st June 1897, Joseph Lindley, now working as a labourer, married Elizabeth Walton in Roade, Northants. By 1901 they were settled at 13 Little Pennington Street, Rugby, with two year old Joseph Thomas.

They were still at the same address in 1911, with Thomas and Mary Ann (8) who had been born in Roade. Joseph was working as a general labourer for Co-op Stores.

Joseph was 40 years of age and a van driver for Rugby Co-operative Society, when he signed up in June 1916. He joined the 1st Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment (private 20368) and proceeded shortly afterwards to the front. In Spring 1917 he was invalided home through illness and later returned to France. He moved via the 11th Bn., to the 16th and at the time of his death, 15th Bn. RWR.

This battalion took part in Battle of Polygon Wood (26 Sep – 3 Oct 1917). Perhaps this was where he was injured.

Joseph Lindley died of wounds on 5th October 1917, and was buried at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, Nord, France.

Outtersteene is a village about 5 kilometres south-west of Bailleul. In August 1917, during the Third Battle of Ypres, the 2nd, 53rd and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations came to Outtersteene.

Joseph was aged 42, the same age his father had died.

Elizabeth Lindley died in Rugby in 1958. In 1939 she was living at 88 Rowland Street, Rugby with her unmarried son Joseph Thomas and her daughter Mary Ann Mace, who was also a widow.



Bradshaw, Ernest George. Died 24th Sep 1917

Ernest George Bradshaw was born in 1880 in Rugby. The family was living at 18 Round Street at the time and his father John was a carpenter. John Bradshaw had married Mary Ann E Farden in 1875. The wedding was registered in the Daventry RD. John came from Napton on the Hill , Warwickshire and Mary Ann from Byfield in Northants.

By 1891 the family had moved to 8 Newbold Road. Aged ten, Ernest was the middle of five children: John (15), Mary (12), Ada (8) and Frank (1). By 1901 Ernest was following in his father’s trade as a carpenter’s apprentice. He worked for Rugby builders, Foster and Dicksee.

On 20th May 1907 married Eliza Ellen Jones at Church Lawford Parish Church. He was aged 27 and Eliza was a 30 year old domestic servant. Their only child George Edward was born in late 1910. The family lived at 39 Wood Street.

Ernest George Bradshaw was working in Brownsover when he joined the army in June 1916. He enlisted in 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Private, no. 242340) and arrived in France around October 1916. The RWR was in the final stages of the Battle of the Somme.

In 1917 the regiment was part of the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in operations on the Ancre in March and The Battle of Langemarck in August 1917.

On 23rd September 1917, after several weeks of training, the Battalion relieved the 10th Bn Sherwood Foresters as right Battalion in the Chemical Works Sector (Ref. map Flouvain).

The following day (24th Sep):

At 4.30 a.m. the enemy attempted a raid on the trenches of our centre Company. An intense barrage composed of T. M. Shells of various calibres 77mm. 4.5 cm and 5.9 cm was put down on line CORFU AVENUE and thence along COLUMBO SWITCH.

An S.O.S. signal, which appeared to have been fired from our extreme right flank, was observed. The Artillery were informed and promptly fired on their S.O.S. lines. At the same time, movement was observed in front of our own wire at I.14.c.6.9., and rifle and Lewis Gun fire was opened. One of the enemy who succeeded in crawling through a recognised gap in our wire was hit by Lewis Gun fire and taken prisoner.

Nothing more was seen of the enemy and no attack developed.

The Barrage continued with intensity till 5.15 a.m., at which time it commenced to diminish slightly. At 7 a.m. all was reported quiet.

A patrol was sent out at dusk the same day, to the supposed place of assembly of the enemy raiding party, but no wounded or further identifications could be found.

Our casualties 8 other ranks killed, Capt. B. R. Saunders and 3 other ranks wounded.

Ernest George Bradshaw must have been one of the “other ranks killed)”. He was buried at Brown’s Copse Cemetery Roeux, a village about 8 kilometres east of Arras, plot number IV.B.50

Plots I to IV are composed almost entirely of graves cleared from the battlefield in the summer of 1917. The Germans re-entered the village at the end of March 1918, and it was finally retaken by the 51st Division on the following 26 August.

Eliza never remarried, dying in 1950. Their son George Edward Bradshaw was living with her at 76 Oxford Street, Rugby, in 1939.



Ruddle, George Henry. Died 3rd Sep 1917

George Henry RUDDLE was born in Rugby in mid 1887.

He was the son of Edwin William Warden [b.c.1857, Burford] and Annie E, née Betteridge, Warden [b.c.1857, Churchill]. They seem to have moved to the Chipping Norton area, as their marriage was registered there in 1881, and their first child was born there in 1883. By 1885 they had moved to Rugby and George’s birth was registered there in Q2, 1887 and he was baptised at St Andrew’s church on 29 July 1887, when the family were living at 26 Gas Street, Rugby, and Edwin was a ‘painter’.

In 1891, the family were still at 26 Gas Street; George was now three years old, with three elder siblings and one younger. In 1892 the Rugby Almanack[1] showed that Edwin’s occupation was still ‘Painter’. George’s mother died, aged 40, in later 1897, so in 1901, when George was thirteen, his father was a widower, still a ‘house painter’, and Louisa, the eldest daughter was still living at home and working as a ‘corset maker – stay’. George now had four younger sisters and the family were living at 20 Pindars Lane, Rugby. George was educated at the Murray School, Rugby.[2]

By 1911, George’s father had remarried with Kate Higgins and they had moved to live at 30 Rokeby Street, Rugby. Only one of George’s sisters was still at home, together with seven Higgins step-siblings. George was in lodgings with the Sedgley family in New Street, New Bilton and working as a ‘Bill Poster’.   He was entered on their census return as 26 years old.

In late 1915, George Ruddle, listing his home with the family at 30 Rokeby Street, Rugby, enlisted at Rugby, under the Group System in connection with Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme, Part 2,[3] initially in the 1st Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR), as a Private, No.242389.

The 1st Battalion had been in Shorncliffe in August 1914 as part of 10th Brigade, 4th Division and landed in France on 22 August 1914. This would have been well before George enlisted and the 1st Bn. in UK would possibly have been a nominal recruiting battalion.

George subsequently served with 2nd/6th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment which was formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion.   It became part of the 2nd/1st Warwickshire Brigade, in the 2nd/1st South Midland Division and then moved to Salisbury Plain. In August 1915 it was re-designated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and mobilised for war, landing in France on 21 May 1916 for service on the Western Front, where the formation became the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division.[4]

The date when George went to France is not given on his Medal Card, but it would have been after the end of 1915, as he did not receive the 1915 Star.   He probably went to France with his new Battalion in May 1916, or soon afterwards.

During 1916 the 2nd/6th Bn. RWR was involved in the attack at Fromelles, and then during 1917, in the Operations on the Ancre, the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The Battle of Langemarck started shortly before George’s death. 

The Battalion Diary[5] for the 2nd/6th Battalion showed that in August the Battalion had been generally involved in training in Roubrouck, France and then moved to Brandhoek, Belgium and was then ‘in support’ north of Ypres. The Battalion strength was 39 officers and 953 other ranks. Then in September …

1 September – ‘Right Support Battalion of 182 Infantry Brigade … work was done in improving accommodation in the old British front lines. … Area slightly shelled at times …’

2 September – ‘… the relief of 2/5 R.War.R in right sub-sector of front line … completed by 12.15am 3.9.17 … except for intermittent shelling … the night 2nd/3rd Sept. was uneventful.’

3 September – ‘Orders had been received … to capture the hostile position on HILL 35 on night 3rd/4th September.   This hostile position was a strong one consisting of 4 gun pits connected by a Trench with concrete and steel M.G. emplacements immediately in rear … connected with IBERIAN … from which strong cross fire could be brought to bear. … Zero was to be 10.0.p.m. … The operation commenced punctually, but the assault was a failure, owing to the intense machine gun fire bought to bear on the Assaulting Troops from 3 sides.   At midnight we re-occupied our original line.’

Our casualties were: Officers Killed one, wounded four, ‘… O.R. Killed 3. Wounded. 37. Missing. 10.’

4 September – ‘A quiet day except for occasional heavy shelling …’.

It would seem to have been an almost suicidal attack, even though there had been a covering ‘protective barrage’. Sometime during the assault on 3 September 1917, George was ‘Killed in Action’.

His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. George Ruddle is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

The Evening Despatch noted under the heading ‘Rugby’, ‘Private George Ruddle, killed in action, was educated at Murray School’.[6]

On 23 April 1918, George’s father, Edwin received £9-10-2d that was owed to George, and later, on 17 November 1919, his War Gratuity of £6-10-0d. George was also awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

George’s father Edwin died in Rugby in later 1927, aged 70.



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

[1]       Kenning, Rugby Almanack, 1892.

[2]       The Evening Despatch, Saturday, 20 October 1917.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 4 December 1915.

[4]       Whilst now in the 48th Division, the War Diary continued to be kept, and later filed, under the 61st Division.

[5]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 61st Division, Piece 3056/2: 2/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Sep – 1919 Feb); also available on

[6]       The Evening Despatch, Saturday, 20 October 1917.

Warden, Frederick Harold Bert. Died 27th Aug 1917

Frederick Harold Bert WARDEN was born in Rugby, probably in early 1897 or very late 1896. His birth was registered in Q1, 1897 in Rugby, when he was named as Frederick Bertie H Warden. He was the son of Edward [b.c.1863, Warwick] and Kate née Morris [b.c.1864, Rugby] Warden. Their marriage was registered in Q3, 1883.

Frederick was baptised on 5 February 1897 at St. Andrew’s, Rugby, when the family were living at 18 Spring Street, Rugby.   In 1901, when he was four, his father was a newspaper reporter, and his much older sister was a dressmaker and his much older brother was a carpenter’s apprentice. The family was now living at 78 Bath Street, Rugby.

By 1911, when Frederick was 14, he was in lodgings with Mr and Mrs Gill in Cromwell Road, Rugby and working as a ‘Clerk’ in the ‘Poor Law Office’.

It is uncertain when or where he enlisted, but he was enlisted first as a Private, No.2188, in a Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR) possibly in a Reserve Battalion. Unusually the same number was also allocated to two other soldiers in the RWR. He was subsequently promoted to Lance Corporal, No.265369 and later served with ‘C’ Company, 1st/7th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

The 1st/7th Battalion was raised in August 1914 in Coventry as part of the Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division. They landed at Le Havre on 22 March 1915, and then on 13 May 1915 were renamed the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division, which also included the 1st/5th and the 1st/6th RWR.

Frederick went to France on 25 June 1915, presumably joining his Battalion which was already in France. Their Division took part in various actions on the Western Front including during 1916: The Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, the Battle of Pozieres Ridge, and later the Battle of the Ancre Heights, and the Battle of the Ancre, all being parts of the Battle of the Somme.

Frederick was reported[1] as a casualty in July 1916, presumably he was wounded during the battle of the Somme. Whilst there is no Service Record for him, he obviously recovered to be in action again, possibly at Arras in 1917 and then probably in the actions of the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line in 1917 and then in the Battle of Langemarck, one of the earlier actions of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

The Battalion Diary[2] records that in June the 1st/7th Battalion was at Louverval, France, to the south-east of Arras.   In early July they had marched to Gomiecourt to the west, and were training at Bienvillers. By 20 July they were at Halloy and then on 22 July marched to Authieule where they entrained for St Jan-ter-Biezen, in Belgium.

Having now had about a month’s training, on the night of 30/31 July the Battalion followed the 1st/6th Bn. RWR and marched via Poperinghe, Poperinghe-Elverdinghe Road, and the Chemin Militaire, into the Corps Reserve at Camp ‘C’ in Belgium.   On 31 July they were in support of 39th Division which attacked north-east of Ypres, and from 1 to 7 August they were having easy training, mainly short route marches.

On 8 August the Battalion left ‘C’ Camp and moved to ‘Canal Bank’. By 11 August they were in the St Julien sector and subject to heavy shelling and sniping. The enemy also used quantities of ‘mustard oil gas shells’.

The Battalion then moved several times over the next few days from St Julien, to the Yser Canal Bank, back to Dambre Camp on 15 August and then back again to the Canal Bank on 16 August as reserves. On 22 August the attack on Spot Farm and Springfield started, however, the tanks which were to take on the blockhouses all became ditched. On 26 August preparations were made for C and D Companies to attack Springfield Farm. On 27 August, D Company was successful in capturing Springfield Farm and then handed over to the 8th Bn. Worcestershires. A & B Companies went by train to Poperinge and C & D Companies rejoined the Battalion at Poperinghe on 28 August.

Sometime during the various actions on 27 August 1917, Frederick was ‘Killed in Action’.

His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Frederick Warden is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

On 31 August 1918, his brother and sister each received a £4-9-7d share of the money that was owed to Frederick, and they then shared his War Gratuity receiving £6-15-0d each on 1 December 1919. On 8 August 1921, his brother P E Warden applied for Frederick’s medals – the British War and Victory Medals, and in view of his early service, the 1915 Star.




[1]       Rugby Remembers, 22 July 2017: – with transcription from: Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.

[2]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 48th Division, Piece 2756: 143 Infantry Brigade, 1/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment; also available on

Summerfield, Walter Ernest. Died 20th Aug 1917

Walter Ernest SUMMERFIELD was born in Clifton, in 1892. The birth was registered in Q2 1892 in Rugby, where they lived at 3 Winfield Street, Rugby. Walter was the son of Frederick Charles and Clara Ellen, née Edwards, Summerfield whose marriage was registered in Lutterworth in Q4 1877. His parents had been born Watford, Northamptonshire and Easenhall, Warwickshire respectively.

In 1901, they were still living at 3 Winfield Street, Rugby; Walter was nine years old, and his father was a ‘railway brakesman’. Walter had four elder and one younger brother, and two elder sisters who were all living at home. The two eldest children had been born at Easenhall, their mother’s home village in Warwickshire, the family had then moved to Clifton, in about 1882.

By 1911, Walter was 19 and a ‘Painters Labourer’, possibly working with two of his elder brothers.  The family was still living in the same house and his parents had now been married 33 years and had had nine children of whom eight had survived. His father was still a ‘Railway Brakesman’.

He seems to have had an army medical inspection on 13 September 1916, when it was noted that he required dental treatment. He was 5ft 8¾ inches tall. He enlisted at Rugby on 19 October 1916, [although a Casualty Form stated that he ‘rejoined the colours’] with his attestation dated 20 October 1916, initially as Private, No.22028, with the 3rd Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment [RWR or RWarR] and stationed at Parkhurst from 20 October 1916 to 8 January 1917.

The 3rd (Reserve) Battalion had been raised in August 1914 in Warwick. As a training unit, it remained in UK throughout the war, but moved to Portsmouth in August 1914, and then to the Isle of Wight, where Walter was based at Parkhurst. Walter was thus on ‘home’ service from 19 October to 7 January 1917, a period of 81 days.

He was posted to join the Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium on 8 January – and was there until 13 March 1917 [65 days]. He was posted to the 16th Bn. RWR on 11 January 1917 when he embarked at Southampton, landing at Le Havre on 12 January. The 16th (Service) Battalion (3rd Birmingham) was formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee and by 26 December 1915 it had transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

However, on 26 January 1917, a few days after this posting he was again posted, to 2nd/7th Bn. RWR and allocated a new number, No.20600.

The 2/7th Bn. RWR were formed in Coventry in October 1914 as a second line battalion. They became a part of the 2nd Warwickshire Brigade, 2nd South Midland Division. In August 1915 they were redesignated as the 182nd Brigade, 61st (2nd South Midland) Division and had landed in France on 21 May 1916.

A week or so later, on about 5 February 1917, Walter was charged with ‘Falling out on the march without permission’ and given 14 days of Field Punishment No.2. On 1 March 1917 he was given yet another new number, No.268343.

On 5 March he contracted Diarrhoea in ‘the Field’, and there were complications and by 13 March he was at Rouen, presumably at one of the many hospitals there, suffering from ‘Ent. Bac. Dysentery, Flex’. It seems that he was evacuated back to UK for further treatment, as he was on ‘home service’ from 14 March to 10 June 1917 [89 days].

By 20 May 1917 he was back with the 7th Reserve Bn. RWarR, at Hipswell Camp, Catterick, no doubt awaiting a further posting to France.

He returned to France on 11 June 1917, and next day lost one day’s pay for being ‘deficient of kit’, and was posted to the 1st/8th Bn. Later on 28/29 June he was re-posted to 1st/6th Bn. RWarR.

The Battalion Diary[1] records that in late June the 1/8th Battalion was ‘Training’ at Fremicourt, which is in the Somme area.   It received 17 Other Rank reinforcements on 27 or 28 June – one of these was probably Walter. On 30 June, they were relieved by the 7th Shropshire Light Infantry and marched to Gomiecourt. They then marched to Pommier for further training, and on 20 July marched to Halloy, and then on 22 July to Authieule where they entrained – ‘Accomodation will be approximately one Platoon per truck’ – for St Jan-ter-Biezen, in Belgium. Having now had a month’s training, on the night of 30/31 July they marched via Poperinghe, Poperinghe-Elverdinghe Road, and Chemin Militaire, into the Corps Reserve at Camp ‘C’ in Belgium.

In August, a further fortnight’s training followed, with a move of camp on 15 August. The Battalion then moved to Dambre Camp in the St Julian area, and on 16 August ‘Crossed the Iser Canal & moved forward in support to 145 Brigade who attacked East of the Steenbeeke’.   This would have been part of the Battle of Langemarck (16 – 18 August 1917).

From 17 to 20 August the Battalion was ‘in support’, and ‘A & B Coys relieved 1/8 RWarW’. On 20 August they were ‘… relieved by the 1/5 & 1/7 RWarR.’ During the four days the Battalion suffered one officer killed and two wounded, with ‘OR Killed 17, Wounded 65, Missing 1’.

Walter was one of those ‘OR Killed’ in that summary, and died on 20 August 1917 [when his overseas service totalled 71 days]. His body was either never found or not later identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Walter is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

On 22 December 1917, Walter’s father, as sole legatee, received £5-1-10d owing to his son, and then a War Gratuity of £3-0-0d on 7 November 1919. On 7 January 1918, his father acknowledged receipt of ‘letters, postcards, cards, & leather pocket book’. On 14 July 1920, Walter’s father was asked if he was still at his address, in order that he could receive Walter’s ‘Plaque and Scroll’. Frederick’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll entry showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and that his father received Walter’s medals on 28 January 1922.



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This article on Walter Ernest SUMMERFIELD was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.

[1]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 48th Division, Piece 2755/2: 1/6 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1915 Mar – 1917 Oct); also available on