Garrett, Frank John. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Frank John GARRETT was born in Harborough Magna, Warwickshire, and his birth was registered in Rugby in Q3 1881.  He was baptised on 2 April 1882 at Harborough Magna.  He was the son of William Garrett, b.c.1844, in Napton, a labourer and later a Grocer’s Porter, and Sarah Green, née Mitchell, Garrett, b.c.1845, also in Napton, latterly a laundress.  They were married in Napton on 26 November 1867.

By 1891 when Frank was 10, the family had moved to 3 East Union Street, Rugby.  Frank had two elder brothers, Leonard, 15, and Thomas, 12; and a younger brother and sister, Ernest, 7, and Mary Ann, 2, who died aged 10 in 1899.  An elder sister, Louisa, b.c.1873, had married John Thomas Wolfe, a fireman from the Newbold Road, at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 25 December 1897.  Her brother, Leonard was a witness.

By 1901, when Frank was 19, he was working as a ‘Cowman on farm’ for farmer, Thomas Wainwright, and living in the farmhouse, Limestone Hall Farm House, near Church Lawford.

In 1911, when Frank was 28, he was still single and living with Leonard, his married elder brother, at 11 Russell Street, Rugby.  He was a carter as was his brother who was a carter for the Urban District Council.

A later notice stated that before the war he worked at B.T.H. in Rugby.[1]

Fortunately 22 pages of Frank’s army Service Record have survived, as well as his Medal Card and his listing in various other sources.  However, these are in places somewhat confused, and show that although these can show amazing information, in the confusion of war, records may not always be correct in every detail.

Frank joined up in Rugby,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 268342.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 1st/8th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up.  However, some of this information is provided on his Service Record.

His WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[3] show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in two separate Battalions: the 16th Bn. R.War.R., and then the 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions was unknown until his Service Record was examined.  Indeed, he served briefly in several other Battalions.

The Service Records are somewhat confused and on one page note that he ‘rejoined the colours on 19.10.16’, which suggests earlier service, although there is no evidence for this.  It may just indicate that he had already ‘signed up’ on 1 October 1916, but was not ‘called up for service’ in Rugby until 19 October 1916.  He was then a single labourer, aged 35 years and 2 months, 5ft 2¼in tall, and lived at 97 Bridge Street, Rugby.  He gave as his next of kin his elder married sister, ‘Louisa Wolfe c/o Newbold Road, Rugby.’

His preference was to join the ‘Horse Transport A.S.C.’, but he was initially posted as a private with the Number: 22026, in the 3rd Bn. R.War.R., a reserve Battalion based on the Isle of Wight.

There are various lists of his movements and postings.  He was in UK from 19 October 1916 to 10 January 1917 (84 days), latterly at ‘Parkhurst’ – the Barracks on the Isle of Wight where the 3rd Bn. were then based – where he probably underwent basic training, from 20 October 1916 until 8 January 1917.

He was then posted to ‘B E F France’ on 9 January 1917, although another record states that he sailed from Southampton on 11 January 1917 to arrive in Havre on 12 January 1917 to join, briefly, the 16th Bn. R.War.R.,[4] in the Expeditionary Force in France on 15 January 1917.

Frank was with the 16th Bn. for only a very short time and ten days later, on 26 January 1917, he was posted to the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. with the Number: 20599,[5] but he would again be re-numbered as 268342 on 1 March 1917.  He was recorded as being in France with the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. until 18 February 1918.

The 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. was formed at Coventry, in October 1914, it was a second line unit, initially for home service only, and then in February 1915 in the 2/1st Warwickshire Brigade, 2/1st South Midland Division in Northampton area.  They went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916, and were trained near Bethune. They took part in the attack at Fromelles in July 1916, supplementing the Somme Offensive.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.

The 2nd/7th Bn. War Diary[6] relates that on 26 January 1917, the day when Frank arrived in France, the Battalion was in training, so Frank probably reached them with the draft of 96 men from base depot that arrived on 28 January 1917.

Thereafter, the battalion was probably involved in operations with their Brigade, including the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai and the German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.

They were ‘At rest’ on Christmas Day 1917, but soon after on 30 December moved to Caix and then to Hangest en Santerre, about 50 miles south of Arras.

There is then some further confusion in the Service Record as he was apparently granted leave in UK from 17 January to 31 January 1918, either this was so he could be married, or he took the opportunity to do so, during ‘Q1, 1918’.  He married with Alice Selina Timms at St Matthew’s church, Rugby, and according to the army records this was on ‘12-1-1918’ [a date when he was still in France!!].  Alice had been born in 1889 in New Bilton, Rugby – and their address was given as 97 Bridget Street, Rugby.

Although he is not recorded as returning to France, it may have been that his leave was brought forward a week or so.  However, he obviously did return to France, but a few days later on 4 February 1918, he fractured a rib, ‘Fractured Ribs R’, in the ‘Field’ and was sent to 61th CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] and then to 10th GH [General Hospital][7] for ‘Fractured Ribs R Severe, cont[usion] chest’[8] on 18 February 1918.  This injury was possibly due to an accident, as was mentioned on one form, as on 4 February 1918 the War Diary stated ‘Day quiet.  Visibility good.  Aerial activity only.  Night quiet.  Good patrolling – no results.’

Frank was sent back to UK on 18 February 1918, arriving 19 February 1918, and was listed at 158 Depot on 19 February 1918, and whilst there he was classified as ‘Dentally Fit’.  This was noted as being a ‘Home’ posting, with no mention of the earlier UK leave when he was married!  He was admitted to the War Hospital at Clopton,[9] Stratford on Avon on 17 February 1918 [this again suggests some slight errors with dates, as he was then still in France!!] with his ‘fractured 11th rib R [accident]’ and was not discharged until 2 April 1918.  During this period he was apparently again [re]issued with his final Number: 268342.

On 13 April 1918, Frank was posted to Perham Down Depot, Andover,[10] possibly for further convalescence, and was discharged and posted to the 7th Bn. R.War.R. on 21 June 1918.  He was Classed ‘AIII’, being thus ‘Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions, … Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition.’  He joined the 7th Reserve Bn. at Gosforth on 22 June 1918 and whilst there had a ‘TAB/1’ inoculation on 18 July and then ‘Proceeded Overseas to France’ from North Elswick Hall and embarked at Southampton for Havre on 30 September 1918, under the orders of the 7th Bn., and proceeded to Rouen where he was posted to the 2nd/6th Bn. on the 3 October and then to the 1st/8th Bn. on the 6 October 1918.  He ‘joined his unit in the field’ on the 8 October 1918.

The 1st/8th Bn. had mobilised for war and landed at Havre on 22 March 1915 and became part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.  In later 1917 they had moved to Italy, and remained there in 1918, until they left the Division on 11 September 1918 and moved to back to France, to join the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division shortly before Frank was posted to them.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R. War Diary[11] for their time with 25th Division gives an outline of their actions during the last few days of Frank’s life during the Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle (17–25 October 1918), which was part of the final ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ of World War I.

8 Oct – The success of the operations of this day brought the battalion into action at SONIA farm, where it held a gap between the 30th American Div. and out 7th Brigade. … moved up to the forming up positions between SERAIN and PREMONT.

9 Oct – Zero was at 5.20 … the battalion advanced and took its objectives beyond MARETZ …

10 Oct – Starting from a point N of HONNECHY …the battalion advanced after heavy fighting to the outskirts of LE CATEAU. … The Americans … had been held up … the positions taken were consolidated and held.

11 Oct – … the battalion marched out to HONNECHY … this was … the heaviest and most continuous fighting which the battalion had met and the battalion came out with fresh laurels added to its reputation. …

12 Oct – the battalion marched to SERAIN to rest.

13-15 Oct – Sunday … services … reorganisation and re-equipment … and training …

16 Oct – … in reserve …for attack … on R. SELLE … moved to HONNECHY.

17-18 Oct – HONNECHY – supporting Gloucesters and Worcesters …

19 Oct – … C&D Coys moved with Worcesters to attack BAZUEL which was taken and held. …

20 Oct – … battalion relieved and marched out to ST BEN[I]N . …

21 Oct – Here the unit rested and reorganised.

22 Oct – … the battalion … moved up to its forming up position along the railway …

23 Oct – POMMEREUIL – The attack commenced at 01.20 hours. … to be used to help mop up POMMEREUIL … owing to heavy fog the attacking units of the first wave became rather mixed up … but on Capt W Mortemons M.C. who was commanding the battalion … going out and taking command … and organising attacks on enemy M.G. nests which had been missed …the situation rapidly cleared and all objectives were gained.

However, in period of rapid advance to the south-east of Cambrai, and during the actions around Pommereuil on the 23 and 24 October, the Battalion suffered 13 O.R.s killed and 5 O.R.s missing, and 3 officers and 4 O.R.s wounded.

Frank had been with the Battalion for only 15 days when he became one of those 13 O.R.s, and was ‘Killed in Action’ on 23 October 1918.

His body was recovered and he was buried in the nearby Pommereuil British Cemetery, in Nord, France, in grave reference: D. 47.

Pommereuil is a village 3 kilometres east of Le Cateau.  It was the scene of severe fighting on 23-24 October 1918 and the cemetery was made by the 25th Division after the capture of the village. Pommereuil British Cemetery contains 173 First World War burials.  It originally contained a wooden memorial to the 20th Manchesters, who erected it to their officers and men who fell on the 23rd October. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.[12]

The earlier burial information listed his death, and that of some others in the cemetery, as 25 October 1918, however, the later documentation corrects this and gives 23 October, and suggests the earlier date was a transcription/typing error.  Whilst there was no family inscription added to his memorial by the family, his widow’s name was given ‘Mrs A Garrett, 97 Bridget Street, Rugby’.

On 6  November, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
Pte. F Garrett (36), R.W.R., 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, has been killed in action.  Previous to joining the army he was employed at the B.T.H.’[13]

Frank John Garrett’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These were issued to his widow in July 1921.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby.  Although reported to have worked at B.T.H., he does not appear on their memorial, perhaps he was there for too short a time.

His widow received a separation allowance of 12/6d until ‘11/5/19’; she then received a pension of 13/9d per week from 12 May 1919.  Any effects were to be sent to her at 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, and a note later stated ‘Effects sent 27.3.19’; these comprised, ‘Letters, Photos, Disc, Wallet, & Post Cards’.

His widow also received his monies owing in two tranches: £2-2-6d on 11 March 1919 and 11/6d on 23 April 1919.  She later received his War Gratuity of £8-16s on 4 December 1919.  She died in later 1920.

Three days after Frank’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ‘100 Days’ Advance to Victory’ continued and only two weeks after Frank’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frank John GARRETT 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, August 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

[2]      Also shown in: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[3]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Medal Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Piece 0743.

[4]      The 16th Battalion had been formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee.  They had landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 26 December 1915 they transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

[5]      At some period he seems also to have had the Number 22026.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/3: 2/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Aug).

[7]      The 10th General Hospital was in Rouen from October 1914 to May 1919.  He was sent on to UK.

[8]      Such an injury can take from a few days to a few weeks to heal, hence the time in hospital and in UK.

[9]      Images of Clopton House Hospital in 1917 can be seen at:-  https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital; also https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-2; and https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-3.

[10]     Perham Down is a village near Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain.  In 1915 a hutted army camp was built on Perham Down.  It seems to have served as a convalescence centre.

[11]     TNA, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 25th Division, Piece 2251/4: 8 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1918 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[12]     Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/58903/pommereuil-british-cemetery/.

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

Advertisements

Ward, Alfred Charles. Died 27th Sep 1918

Alfred Charles WARD was born in Rugby and christened on 11 March 1900 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby.  He was the fourth of six sons – there were also two daughters – of Charles Ward, who was born in Storrington, Buckinghamshire, in about 1863 – his father was a ‘labourer’, – and Rose Ellen, née Jackson, Ward, who was born in Stanford Baron, Northamptonshire, in about 1867 – her father was a ‘carpenter’.  They had married on 20 September 1886, at St. Martin, Stamford Baron, when Charles was working as a ‘railway fireman’.

The family moved several times, as Charles had pursued his railway career: their first three children were born in Stanford Baron; then from 1897 to 1900 they were in Rugby where before early 1900, Charles had been promoted to be a ‘engine driver’. In 1902 a child was born in Swinton, Yorkshire; and between 1906 and 1910 their children were born in Netherfield, Nottinghamshire.  By 1911 they were back in Rugby.

In 1900, the family were living at 13 Oxford Street, Rugby, and then by 1901 the family had moved to the New Building, Queen Street, Rugby, and Alfred’s father was a ‘railway engine driver; there were now five children between 14 and one.

By 1911, Alfred was 11 and a ‘schoolboy’ and the family had moved back to live in Rugby again, in a six room house at 121 Grosvenor Road.  Alfred’s father was a ‘Locomotive Engine Driver’ for the London & North Western Railway.  By 1911 Alfred’s parents had been married 24 years, they had had nine children, one of whom had died; six were still living at home and their ages ranged from 18 to one year old.

With only the minimum details on his Medal Card and no surviving Service Record, it is difficult to reconstruct Alfred’s service history.  At some date he enlisted as a Private, No.41088, in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R.).  When he died in 1918, he was with ‘C’ Company in the 15th Battalion, R. War. R..

His five figure service number is likely to have been issued earlier in the war, but he would not have been 18 and eligible for overseas service until 1917.  He did not win the 1914-1915 Star which again indicates that he did not go to France until after late 1915.

The 15th Battalion (2nd Birmingham) Royal Warwickshire Regiment had been formed in Birmingham by the Lord Mayor and a local Committee in September 1914.  The Battalion moved to Sutton Coalfield and then in June 1915 to Wensleydale to join the 95th Brigade of the 32nd Division and later moved to Salisbury Plain.

The 15th Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 14 January 1916 transferred to the 13th Brigade in the 5th Division.  In March 1916, and probably still well before Alfred joined up, the Division took over a section of front line near Arras, between St Laurent Blangy and the southern edge of Vimy Ridge.  When the Somme offensive opened on 1 July 1916, the 5th Division was enjoying a period of rest and re-fit and was in GHQ Reserve.  However, this restful time was not destined to last and later in July 1916 they moved some 50 miles south to reinforce the Somme.

In early April 1917 the Battalion moved to Arras for the various phases of the Battles of Arras, starting with the attack on Vimy Ridge from 9-12 April 1917; and then the three Battles of the Scarpe, 9-14 April; 23-24 April 1917; and 3-4 May 1917; and the subsidiary attack on La Coulotte on 23 April 1917, and then, on 8 May 1917, the 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment was ordered to attack the German-held village of Fresnoy [Fresnoy-en-Gohelle], about 8 miles north-east of Arras and west of Vimy.

The Battalion also took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917; the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October); the Battle of Poelcappelle (9 October 1917); and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (July to November 1917).

In late November to early December 1917, the Battalion moved from France to Italy to strengthen the Italian Resistance.

Some four months later, by which date it is likely that Alfred was with the Battalion, they returned to France by train in early April 1918.

The Battalion War Diary[1] refers to the attack on Merville on 12 April and subsequent heavy shelling, it also notes that in May the Battalion was alternating between ‘the Front’ and periods ‘In Reserve’.  These were quieter times until the end of the month when a larger raid was carried out on the night 28/29 May, when two Machine Gun posts were attacked, the garrisons killed, the machine guns put out of action, and some prisoners taken.  The raid took only 20 minutes – with ‘eight slight casualties’.

After the German Offensive had been halted and the situation stabilised, preparations were made for what became the ‘100 Days Offensive’.  The 15th R.War.R. were involved with the Battle of Albert (21–23 August 1918); the Battle of Bapaume (21 August 1918 to 3 September 1918); the Battle of Drocourt-Queant (2-3 September 1918); the Battle of the Epehy (18 September 1918) and the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 September – 1 October 1918).

The Battalion War Diary[2] relates the actions in the days leading up to this latter battle.

At the start of September 1918 the Battalion was in Reserve some 8 miles south-west of CAMBRAI.  The Battalion stayed in place [SW corner H.14.C. – Map 57c N.W. 1:20,000] when the 13th Infantry Brigade was relieved by the 63rd Inf. Brigade on 4 September.  They moved to the Quarry, where they rested and cleaned up, and then had various training until 12 September when the 13th Brigade was to relieve a support Brigade of the New Zealand Division in YTRES.  On 14 September, the 15th RWR were to relieve the 1st New Zealand Wellington Battalion at midnight.  So far that month they had had no casualties.

However, after readjusting in the Front Line, on 15 September they were in the front line in an area about a mile or so north-west of Gouzeaucourt, and had four men wounded, three by gas.  Various patrols went out on 16 – 20 September, with some men wounded, and on 20 September the Battalion was relieved and went to HAPLINCOURT, where they were ‘in huts’ on 21 September and there was a ‘voluntary church service’ on the Sunday.  There were then a few days of training, practice attacks and firing on ranges, before relieving the 1st Devon Regiment in the front line on 25 September with an hour’s halt for tea at the BRICKYARD, YTRES.  They took over the area Q 16, 17, 22, 23 [see Map 57c S.E. – see part map below]

There was however an attack planned for 26 and 27 September 1918.

26 September – 13th Infantry Brigade will take and capture RED OBJECTIVE.  Battalion H.Q. at DEAD MAN’S CORNER. …

27 September – The attack is carried out on a three Coy. Front … 5.30am Zero hour … 15th R. War. R. attack at zero plus 152.   Battalion attack & gain objective, but is obliged to retire. 

Casualties: Officers: Killed 3 (inc. MO), Wounded 5, one Wounded since died.  Other Ranks: Killed, 36. Wounded, 90. Missing, 29.  2 Wounded at duty.    

The next day patrols resumed, and the enemy was withdrawing.  There was an ‘Officer Patrol’ to GOUZEAUCOURT, which is on the plan, just to the south of where Alfred was first buried.  As others advanced through their positions, the 15th Battalion remained in place as a reserve – some of the men received ‘wounds by gas’ after being shelled, apparently by their own HQ.

Alfred died, aged only 19, on Friday, 27 September 1918, and was one of the 36 men killed that day.  He was originally buried at map reference: 57.c.Q.30.b.7.6., with at least five other members of the 15th Battalion, one of whom also died on 27 September and four who died on 29 September 1918.  This location appears to be in or adjacent to ‘Pope Trench’ which had been an enemy trench before the attacks, and confirmed that the Battalion had made good progress in their advance, before being forced to retire.

After the war, these six graves were ‘concentrated’ – soldiers who were originally buried in smaller or isolated cemeteries, were, at a later date, exhumed and reburied in larger war cemeteries.  The ‘concentration’ of cemeteries allowed otherwise unmaintainable graves to be moved into established war grave cemeteries where the Commission could ensure proper commemoration.

Alfred and his fellow soldiers were reburied in the Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery.  Alfred was reburied in Grave Reference: VIII. B. 16.  His family had requested the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name’, to be added to his gravestone.

Gouzeaucourt is a large village 15 kilometres south west of Cambrai and 15 kilometres north-east of Peronne.  Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery is opposite the civil cemetery.  Gouzeaucourt village was captured by the 8th Division on the night of 12-13 April 1917.  It was lost on 30 November 1917 in the German counterattack at the end of the Battle of Cambrai, and recaptured the same day by the 1st Irish Guards.  It was lost again on 22 March 1918, attacked by the 38th (Welsh) Division on the following 18 September, and finally retaken by the 21st Division on 8 October.  The cemetery was begun in November 1917, taken over by the Germans in 1918, and used again by Commonwealth forces in September and October 1918, but the original burials (now in Plot III) are only 55 in number.  It was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other cemeteries and from the battlefield of Cambrai.

Alfred was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, and he is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate, and on a family grave, No: M118 in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

His family continued to live at 121 Grosvenor Road, Rugby after the war.  Alfred had three brothers who also served during the First World War.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Alfred Charles WARD was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2018.

[1]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 5th Division, The National Archives Ref: Piece 1557: 13 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

[2]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 5th Division, The National Archives, Ref: Piece 1557: 13 Infantry Brigade (1915 – 1919).

Russell, Harold John. Died 19th Sep 1918

Harold John Russell was born in 1898 in Rugby, the only son of Walter and Florence (nee Franklin). On their marriage, at Brownsover Church on 7th August 1894, Walter is described as a caretaker, but by 1901 he had taken up his father’s occupation of fishseller and fruiterer. Harold was three years old and his sister Ethel F was four. The family were living at 26 Bridget Street.

By 1911 both Walter and little Ethel had died, but another daughter had arrived. Ivy May was nine and Harold, thirteen, was working as an office boy. The family were now at 61 Abbey Street and widowed Florence was an electric lamp solderer at B.T.H.

Walter Russell had died in late 1901. He was aged 37 and the death registered in Wellingborough RD. Florence re-married in mid 1918 to John Burbidge. By this time Harold John would have already joined the army.

It is not known when he joined up, but it was probably the same time as Lander John Mann. Their service numbers are close and their short military career followed the same course.

Harold enlisted at Rugby into the Royal Warwick Regiment as a private, no: 41740. He served abroad with the Royal Warwicks from 4th to 12th August 1918, then the 2/4th London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers, service number 85166 until 11th September, before moving to the 2/2nd battalion.

By early September 1918 the British advance had reached The Hindenburg Line. After the losses of the previous few months, 180,000 in the last six weeks, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was reluctant to order any offensives, but allow the men to rest. When he received news of the British Third Army’s success at the Battle of Havrincourt on 12th Sept, he changed his mind and approved the plan to clear German outpost positions on the high ground before the Hindenburg Line.

In order not to give warning of the attack, there was no preliminary bombardment and the guns would fire concentration shots at zero hour and then provide a creeping barrage to support the infantry. The attack started at 5.20 am on 18th September and comprised all three corps of the fourth army, with V Corps of the Third flank and the French First Army on the right.

The promised French assistance did not arrive, resulting in limited success for IX Corps on that flank. On the left flank, III Corps also found difficulty when attacking the fortifications erected at “the Knoll”, Quennemont and Guillemont farms, which were held determinedly by German troops, the village was however captured by the British 12th Eastern Division [7th Norfolk, 9th Essex and 1st Cambridge]. In the centre, General John Monash’s two Australian divisions achieved complete and dramatic success. The 1st Australian Division and the 4th Australian Division, had a strength of some 6,800 men and in the course of the day captured 4,243 prisoners, 76 guns, 300 machine-guns and thirty trench mortars. They took all their objectives and advanced to a distance of about 3 miles (4.8 km) on a 4 mile (6.4 km) front. The Australian casualties were 1,260 officers and men (265 killed, 1,057 wounded, 2 captured.)

The Battle of Epehy closed as an Allied victory, with 11,750 prisoners and 100 guns captured. Although not a total success, it signalled an unmistakable message that the Germans were weakening and it encouraged the Allies to take further action with haste (with the offensive continuing in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal), before the Germans could consolidate their positions.

It is not clear what part the 2nd battalion of the Royal Fusiliers took in the Battle of Epehy, but Harold John Russell died the following day, the 19th September and was buried in Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery at 1.F.17, a row from Lander John Mann at 1.G.19.

He was awarded The Victory and British War Medals, although there is a note on his medal roll card:
O i/c Recs (Officer in charge of Records) requests auth. to dispose of medals 10/2/22.

Did his mother not want to be reminded of her only son, or did her new husband object? They don’t appear to have had their own children. Someone must have put forward his name to be included on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Mann, Lander George. Died 19th Sep 1918

Lander George Mann was the 2nd of eight children born to George Mann, a blacksmith, and Elizabeth Ann (nee Raven) who married in 1897, in Southam. He was born in 1899 in Long Itchington, Warwickshire and was baptised at the local church on 10th Sep 1899.  In the 1911 census the Mann family lived in Elm Row, Stockton, Warwickshire.

Lander enlisted at Rugby into the 3rd Royal Warwick Regiment as a private, no: 41717. It is not known when he joined up but according to the Medal Rolls he served abroad with the Royal Warwicks from 4th to 18th August 1918, then the 2/4th London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers, service number 85158 until 11th September, before moving to the 2/2nd battalion.

By early September 1918 the British advance had reached The Hindenburg Line. After the losses of the previous few months, 180,000 in the last six weeks, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was reluctant to order any offensives, but allow the men to rest. When he received news of the British Third Army’s success at the Battle of Havrincourt on 12th Sept, he changed his mind and approved the plan to clear German outpost positions on the high ground before the Hindenburg Line.

In order not to give warning of the attack, there was no preliminary bombardment and the guns would fire concentration shots at zero hour and then provide a creeping barrage to support the infantry. The attack started at 5.20 am on 18th September and comprised all three corps of the fourth army, with V Corps of the Third flank and the French First Army on the right.

The promised French assistance did not arrive, resulting in limited success for IX Corps on that flank. On the left flank, III Corps also found difficulty when attacking the fortifications erected at “the Knoll”, Quennemont and Guillemont farms, which were held determinedly by German troops, the village was however captured by the British 12th Eastern Division [7th Norfolk, 9th Essex and 1st Cambridge]. In the centre, General John Monash’s two Australian divisions achieved complete and dramatic success. The 1st Australian Division and the 4th Australian Division, had a strength of some 6,800 men and in the course of the day captured 4,243 prisoners, 76 guns, 300 machine-guns and thirty trench mortars. They took all their objectives and advanced to a distance of about 3 miles (4.8 km) on a 4 mile (6.4 km) front. The Australian casualties were 1,260 officers and men (265 killed, 1,057 wounded, 2 captured.)

The Battle of Epehy closed as an Allied victory, with 11,750 prisoners and 100 guns captured. Although not a total success, it signalled an unmistakable message that the Germans were weakening and it encouraged the Allies to take further action with haste (with the offensive continuing in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal), before the Germans could consolidate their positions.

It is not clear what part the 2nd battalion of the Royal Fusiliers took in the Battle of Epehy, but Lander George Mann died of wounds the following day, the 19th September and was buried in Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery, in plot number 1.G.19 a row away from Harold John Russell at 1.F.17 who had probably enrolled in Rugby on the same day

It was reported in an October 1918 edition of the Rugby Advertiser:
Stockton: Our Men – The sad news has reached the village that Lander Mann, formerly a choir boy in Stockton Church, has made the great sacrifice on the Western Front.  The family, who now live at Rugby, have many friends in the parish, the great sympathy is felt for Mr & Mrs Mann in their sorrow.  The lad was 19 years old.

Lander was awarded The Victory and British War Medals (ref: T P/104 B34 Page 4162)

The family were living at 22 Rowland Street, Rugby when the following words were engraved on his gravestone:
In the Midst of Life,
We are in Death

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Maycock, John Arthur. Died 9th Sep 1918

Although listed on the Memorial Gates as L A MAYCOCK, it seems likely that this was J A Maycock.

John Arthur Maycock was born in Little Bowden, Market Harborough in about 1885.  He was the son of John Maycock, who was born in Little Bowden, in about 1844 and worked as a ‘Brewers Labourer’ and in 1891 and 1911 was a ‘Brewer’s Assistant’, and Harriet, née Hodges, Maycock, who was born in 1850 in Hazelbeech, Northamptonshire (probably the present Haselbech, which has been spelled in many ways!).  They were married on 16 November 1870 at Hazelbeech, when John senior was a ‘Porter’.

In 1891, John Arthur Maycock was at school, and his eldest brother was a ‘Spirit Merchant’s Assistant’.  In 1901 the family were living at 48 Patrick Street, Little Bowden, and John Arthur had become a ‘Cabinet Maker’s Apprentice’.

By 1909, John Maycock had presumably completed his Apprenticeship as on 30 September 1909, he married Amy Blackwell, at Silverstone where they were then both living.  Amy had been born in the village in early 1886 and had also been baptised there on 2 May 1886.

By 1911, John and Amy Maycock had moved and were living at 51 Rowland Street, Rugby.  John was now enumerated as a ‘cabinet maker’.  They had been married for one year.  It seems that they later had two daughters: Kathleen G Maycock’s birth was registered in Rugby in Q3, 1914, and Evelyn Maycock’s birth, in Rugby in Q2, 1916.  This would suggest that John was still in Rugby until at least, say, August 1915.

Before the war John was a member of Rugby Congregational Church, was in the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and was working for Messrs. Fawkner, 8 Matthew Street.[1]

There are no extant military Service Records for John Arthur Maycock, except for his Medal Card and his listing in ‘Soldiers that Died in the War’,[2] but it seems that he joined up in Rugby,[3] and a later obituary implies this was in 1915.[4]  The Medal Card does not give any date of embarkation, nor was he awarded the 1914-1915 Star, so he did not go to France until after later 1915 – which would agree with his presence in UK at about that date, and with the subsequent date of birth of his younger daughter.

He was initially in the 11th Battalion (Bn.), Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.W.R.) and then transferred to the 10th Bn. R.W.R..  His Medal Card shows that he served throughout as a Private, No:19568 and was latterly in the 1st/5th Battalion – Territorial.  The 10th and 11th Battalions had gone to France on 7 and 30 July 1915 respectively, and it would seem that he would have still been in UK at those dates.

The dates when he moved between the Battalions is also unknown, but both the 11th Battalion – as part of 112th Brigade of the 37th Division – and the 10th Battalion – as part of 57th Brigade of the 19th Division – took part in many of the major actions of WWI.  The 11th Battalion was disbanded at Wardrecques in France, on 7 February 1918, after the carnage of the First Battle of Passchendaele, the men being transferred to reinforce other Battalions.  In John’s case this was presumably to the 10th Battalion, although he may have been transferred earlier, possibly after winning the M.M. and possibly then being promoted.

By November 1917, a news article noted that he had already been ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ twice, and had won the Military Medal, and had been promoted.

Lance-Corpl J A Maycock, Royal Warwicks, of Rokeby Cottage, Bennett Street, Rugby, son of Mr & Mrs J Maycock, of Market Harborough, who has been twice mentioned in despatches for good work and bringing in wounded under heavy shell fire, has now been awarded the Military Medal.  His brother, Quarter-Master-Sergt C Maycock,[5] has also received the Military Medal.[6]

The award of the Military Medal (M.M.), was noted in the London Gazette and the Edinburgh Gazette,[7] and also subsequently in the Coventry Standard in January 1918,[8]

‘19568 Pte. J. A. Maycock, R. War. R. (Rugby).’ 

It seems likely that he was still officially a Private, but had been promoted to Lance-Corporal in the field.

At some date, after the Battle of Poelcapelle and before November 1917, he must have been posted to the 1st/5th Bn. R. War. R. – as part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division – which was then moved to Italy in order to strengthen the Italian Resistance.

The Italians had entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.  Then in the spring of 1918, Germany pulled out troops for use in its upcoming Spring Offensive on the Western Front – see Operation Michael.

In March 1918, XIV Corps (the 7th, 23rd and 48th Divisions) relieved Italian troops on the front line between Asiago and Canove, the front being held by two divisions with one division in reserve on the plain.  The front was comparatively quiet until the Austrians attacked in force from Grappa to Canove in the Battle of Asiago (15-16 June 1918).  The Allied line was penetrated to a depth of about 1,000 metres on 15 June but the lost ground was retaken the next day and the line re-established.  It seems that John Arthur Maycock survived this battle.

Between June and September 1918, frequent successful raids were made on the Austrian trenches, and Austria was already making first appeals for an armistice in September 1918.

The 48th Division was involved in these various actions during 1918, including the various fighting on the Asiago Plateau.  In the absence of any readily accessible War Diaries for the Italian campaigns, the assumption must be made that one of these ‘successful raids’ on the Austrian positions was made on 9 September 1918, as on that day, a significant number of men from the 1st/5th Battalion were killed, and some of their bodies were never found or recovered.

At some time on 9 September 1918, John Arthur Maycock was ‘Killed in Action’.  He was originally buried, or possibly was found later where he had been killed, at ref: H 5256 near Asiago.  He was either found and recovered, or exhumed, by a ‘search party’.  His body was reburied in Plot 3. C. 13, in the Barenthal Military Cemetery.  When a permanent gravestone was installed, his family had the words ‘Loved too Dearly to be Forgotten by his Loving Wife & Children’ inscribed on it.

The Barenthal Military Cemetery is one of five cemeteries situated on the Asiago plateau in the province of Vicenza, in the Veneto region, containing burials relating to this period.  The cemetery is some 5 kilometres south of the town of Asiago, Italy.

Later, in October, the 7th and 23rd Divisions were sent to the Treviso area of the River Piave front.  However, the 48th Division, remained in the mountains as part of the Italian Sixth Army, and played an important part in the Battle of Vittorio Veneto (24 October – 4 November 1918) in which the Austrians were finally defeated.

In early October 1918, the ‘Local War Notes’ reported,

Lance-Cpl J A Maycock M.M., Royal Warwicks, of Rokeby Cottage, Bennett Street, Rugby, was recently killed in a trench raid in Italy.  He joined the Army three years ago and was awarded the Military Medal for bringing in wounded men under heavy shell fire in November 1917.  He has also been twice mentioned in dispatches.  He was a member of Rugby Congregational Church and also of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade.  Prior to the war he was employed by Messrs. Fawkner, 8 Matthew Street.  He leaves a widow and two little children.[9]

John Arthur MAYCOCK was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, as well as winning the Military Medal for gallantry.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

On 30 January 1919, his outstanding monies, £15-14s, were paid to his ‘widow and sole legatee, Amy’.  His War Gratuity of £10 was paid to her on the 9 December 1919.

After the war, his widow, Amy, was living at Rokeby Cottage, Bennett Street, Rugby.  Their daughters both married in 1941.  It seems that Kathleen G Maycock married Denys E Jacob in Q2, 1941, and her younger sister, Evelyn M Maycock married Emrys R Jones in Q3 1941.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on John Arthur MAYCOCK 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, May and July 2018.

[1]      Information from: Rugby Advertiser, 5 October 1918.

[2]      British and Irish Military Databases, The Naval and Military Press Ltd.  This database contains information extracted from 81 volumes of ‘Soldiers Died in World War I’.

[3]      Information from: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[4]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 October 1918.

[5]      It seems that his brother, C W Maycock, joined up in November 1915, see, Rugby Advertiser, 13 November 1915.

[6]      Rugby Advertiser, 17 November 1917, also https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/17th-nov-1917-the-payment-of-wroth-silver/.

[7]      The London Gazette, Supplement 30476, Page 839, 11 January 1918; also, The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13195, Page 367, 16 January 1918.

[8]      Coventry Standard, Friday, 18 January 1918.

[9]      Rugby Advertiser, 5 October 1918.

Brooks, John James. Died 30 Aug 1918

Whilst listed on the Rugby Memorial Gates as J. J. Brooke, it should be noted that the family surname is spelt variously in official documents as either Brooks or Brookes.  Where it can be established that it was written by a family member, e.g. in the 1911 census return, ‘Brooks’ was generally used.

John James Brooks was born on 22 April 1896 in New Bilton, Rugby, the eldest of seven children of John Brooks (b.1868 in Swinford, Leicestershire), labourer, and Sarah Ann, née Webb, Brooks (b.1872 in Long Lawford, Warwickshire).  He was baptised at St Oswald’s Church and the 1901 and 1911 census returns show John James living with his parents at 41 Lawford Road, New Bilton.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for John James, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby,[1] and his Medal Card shows only that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with the Regimental Number: 28542.  There is no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-15 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, but this may have been some time after he had joined up.

However, the WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[2] do show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in three separate Battalions (Bns.): the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R.; the 11th Bn. R.War.R.; and finally the 1st Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions is unknown, however inspection of the three Battalions’ War Diaries can be of some assistance.

He was certainly in action on 1 August 1916.  The Rugby Advertiser reported,
Mr J Brooks, 41 Lawford Road, New Bilton, has received an intimation that his son, Pte J Brooks, of the Royal Warwicks, was wounded on the 1st of August.  He was hit in the leg by shrapnel, and sustained a fractured bone.   He is at present in hospital at Nottingham, where he is progressing favourably.[3]

His first Battalion, the 2nd/7th R.War.R. was probably where he received his training.  Whilst formed at Coventry, in October 1914, they went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916.  By examining the Regimental Diary it seems that on 1 August 1916, when John James was wounded, the 2nd/7th R.War.R. were at La Gorgue, some 20 miles south of Poperinge, and well away from the Somme which was then the focus of action.  It was reported to be ‘very quiet’, and this suggests that he was not in this Battalion on that date.

It seems likely that by 1916, he had already joined the 11th Battalion which was formed at Warwick in October 1914, and was attached to 24th Division on the South Downs.  They then joined 112th Brigade, 37th Division in April 1915 on Salisbury Plain and went to France on 30 July 1915.  The Battalion War Diary entry for 1 August 1916, stated that they were taking part in the Battle of the Somme, and had been training, near Becourt Wood, when between 10 and 11am …

Hostile H.E. shells from a heavy gun dropped & exploded in quick succession among the Companies in close bivouacs, involving many casualties before the Batt. Could take cover in the adjoining trenches allotted to the Companies.  3 Officers … were wounded, O.R.s Killed 10, Wounded 37, Missing 2, Total 52.  Previous to this date no serious shelling of the wood had taken place.  The Batt was at once moved about 300yds outside the eastern edge of the wood, where a line of good deep trenches exist.’

This would seem to be a stronger possibility for his Battalion.

The other alternative, the 1st Battalion was quiet on 1 August 1916, ‘… Yser Canal Bank … Beautiful day … Dark night, very quiet’.  This would therefore also support John James being with the 11th Bn. on 1 August 1916 when he was wounded by the shelling which was recorded in the 11th Bn. War Diary.

After being wounded, John James Brooks was evacuated to UK, and hospital at Nottingham.  It seems that when he recovered he returned to France and probably then, or perhaps later, was posted to the 1st Battalion.

On 4 August 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment had been stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division, and on 22 August 1914 they mobilised for war and landed in France.  The Division took place in many actions on the Western Front from 1914 to 1916, when they fought in the Battle of Albert, and the Battle of Le Transloy.  If John James had recovered from his wounds and joined the 1st Bn. during 1917, he would have taken part in the First and Third Battles of the Scarpe, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde, the Battle of Poelcapelle, and the First Battle of Passchendaele.

During 1918, when John James Brooks was almost certainly with the 1st Battalion, they were involved in the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune on 18 April 1918, the Advance in Flanders, and the further Battle of the Scarpe from 26 to 30 August 1918.  This later period was part of what developed into an advance, and became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[4] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

The 1st Battalion War Diaries are to be found with the within the records of the 4th Division at The National Archives[5]  and on-line.  The events recorded in the Diary, for the last few days before John James Brookes was killed are summarised below.  Another Rugby soldier, Cecil Austin,[6] who was also in the 1st R.War.R. was killed on the same day as John James Brooks.

26 August – Very wet day … Battalion is to carry out training for the attack … At about 2.30pm a ‘Warning Order’ … to be prepared to move that same night … to proceed by march route at 7pm to MONT ST ELOI area, a distance of about 16 miles …

27 August – Fine day. Battalion rests after the march. …

28 August – Wet day.  Orders … to relieve the 5th Bn Canadian Mounted Rifles at night in front of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.  Battalion embus at MONT ST ELOI at noon & procede to ARRAS, [about 6 miles] … then marches to assembly area at FEUCHY CHAPEL [about 5 miles from Arras, and the same to Vis-en-Artois] … at 6.30pm Coys. move forward … keeping MOINCHY LE PREUX on the north … and relief is gradually carried out.  Hostile artillery is very severe … & we suffer casualties. Relief complete about 2.30am.

29 August – Fine day.  Enemy artillery continues very active … Battalion is ordered to clear REMY village with artillery cooperation.  … At 8pm a ‘Warning Order’ for the attack is issued. …

30 August – … Battalion is to move forward into assembly positions S.E. of REMY WOOD & VILLAGE.  Coys dribble forward, but the movement is observed & a heavy Machine Gun & Artillery barrage is put down.  B & C Coys are much disorganised & suffer severe casualties. … Our artillery is asked to shell opposite ridge & hostile fire is considerably reduced. … D Coy … get into position with only a few casualties.  At noon the C.O. … receives instructions to attack at 4pm, … Orders are issued, but it is impossible to promulgate these effectively.  Capt Mauncell M.C. takes his Coy & elements of A B & C. forward … They have to cross a stream & swamp, some of the men wading through waist deep in mud & water.  Line of 2nd objective is reached without much opposition on the part of the enemy, a number of whom were shot down as they attempted to run away. … Owing to delay in crossing river & swamp, the artillery barrage gets too far ahead.  This … prevents 3 objectives being taken.  Capt. WGB Edmonds MC collects about 60 stragglers & takes them up to reinforce … At midnight orders are received that the Battalion is to be relieved … before dawn. …. Relief is completed about 4.30am, the Battalion comes back into support …

31 August – Coys are reorganised … Owing to reduced strength of the Battn. …

During the three days, 29-31 August, the Battalion lost 2 officers and 21 O.R.s killed and 5 officers and 157 O.R.s wounded, with 24 O.R.s missing.

Among those O.R.s ‘Killed in Action’ during the attack on Rémy on 30 August 1918, was John James Brooks.  He was 22 years old.  John James Brooks’s body was not found or not identified, and he is now remembered, as ‘Brookes’ on Panel 3 of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Cemetery and Memorial are west of the village of Haucourt.  Vis-En-Artois and Haucourt were taken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918.  The cemetery was begun immediately afterwards and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the middle of October.  It was increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of April-June 1917, August and September 1918, and from the smaller cemeteries in the neighbourhood. … The cemetery was designed by J R Truelove.[7]  At the far end of the Cemetery, the Vis-en-Artois Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing.

The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts. The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved.  It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high. The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon.  The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names.  Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building.  The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick.  It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.[8]

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

Some of his colleagues whose bodies were recovered, including Cecil Austin,[9] were buried in the adjacent Vis-en-Artois Cemetery.

In addition to appearing on the Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby, where his name is given as ‘J J Brooke’, he is also listed on the New Bilton WW1 Memorial as ‘J J Brooks’.  The New Bilton war memorial is by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road, and reads ‘In the Great War these died for England 1914-1919’.

A single man, he was survived by his Mother and Father, and his six siblings.  In 1921 his family placed the following message in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Rugby Advertiser:-
 Brooks: – In sacred memory of our dear son and brother, Pte. J J Brooks, 1st RWR, killed in action somewhere in France, August 30th 1918.
“Sleep on, dear boy, and take thy rest,
We loved you well, but God loved you best;
No morning dawns, no night returns,
But what we think of thee.”
Ever remembered by his Mother and Father, Brothers and Sisters.[10]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on John James BROOKS was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Mike Beare, with additional military research by John P H Frearson and is © Mike Beare, John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

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

[2]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329; Piece Number: 738

[3]      Rugby Advertiser, 26 August 1916.

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

[5]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th Division, Piece 1484/1-7: 10 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1914 Aug – 1919 Jun)

[6]      See Rugby Remembers, for Cecil AUSTIN, on 30 August 1918, which also includes a map of the battlefield.

[7]      Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/2000088/vis-en-artois-british-cemetery.

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

[9]      See Rugby Remembers, 30 August 2018.

[10]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 26 August 1921.

Austin, Cecil. Died 30th Aug 1918

Cecil AUSTIN was born in Spratton, Northamptonshire in 1898 and registered in Q4 1898 in Brixworth.  He was the younger son of Ned Austin, who was born in about 1874 in Bradford, Yorkshire, and Nellie Benson, née Eagles, Austin, who was born in about 1876, in Spratton, Northamptonshire.  They were married in Spratton on 3 August 1896.

When Cecil was baptised at Holy Trinity church, Northampton on 17 October 1904, his father was working as a ‘boot maker’ and the family lived at 1 Cranbrook Road, Northampton.

In 1901, the family were living at 49 Balmoral Road, Kingsthorpe, Northampton, and Cecil’s father, Ned Austin, was a ‘shoemaker – boot m[aker] worker’.

In 1911, his father was enumerated as a ‘boot repairer’, and the family had moved to Rugby and were now living at 3 Oliver Street.  Cecil was twelve years old.  His parents had been married for 14 years.  Cyril’s elder brother, Wilfred Austin, who was thirteen, was also a ‘boot repairer’.  The boys’ 80 year old maternal grandfather was living with them.

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Cecil, but it seems that he joined up in Rugby,[1] and his Medal Card shows that he served as Private, No: 34801, and was latterly in ‘B’ Company, of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Cecil went to France, suggesting this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until sometime in late 1916.

On 4 August 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment was stationed at Shorncliffe as part of the 10th Brigade of the 4th Division, and on 22 August 1914 they mobilised for war and landed in France.  The Division engaged in various actions on the Western Front including during 1914: the Battle of Le Cateau, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, and the Battle of Messines 1914.  In December 1914, the Battalion took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914.  During 1915 they were engaged in the Second Battle of Ypres.  During 1916, they fought in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Le Transloy.  During 1917, they took part in the First Battle of the Scarpe, the Third Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Broodseinde, the Battle of Poelcapelle, and the First Battle of Passchendaele.

During 1918, when Cecil was almost certainly with the Battalion, they were involved in the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune on 18 April 1918, the Advance in Flanders, and the Battle of the Scarpe – 26 to 30 August 1918.   This would have been part of what developed into the advance, which became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’,[2] and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

The 1st Battalion War Diaries are to be found with the within the records of the 4th Division at The National Archives and on-line.[3]  The events recorded in the Diary, for the last few days before Cecil was killed are summarised below.

26 August – Very wet day … Battalion is to carry out training for the attack … At about 2.30pm a ‘Warning Order’ … to be prepared to move that same night … to proceed by march route at 7pm to MONT ST ELOI area, a distance of about 16 miles …

27 August – Fine day. Battalion rests after the march. …

28 August – Wet day.  Orders … to relieve the 5th Bn Canadian Mounted Rifles at night in front of VIS-EN-ARTOIS.  Battalion embus at MONT ST ELOI at noon & procede to ARRAS, [about 6 miles] … then marches to assembly area at FEUCHY CHAPEL [about 5 miles from Arras, and the same to Vis-en-Artois] … at 6.30pm Coys. move forward … keeping MOINCHY LE PREUX on the north … and relief is gradually carried out.  Hostile artillery is very severe … & we suffer casualties. Relief complete about 2.30am. 

29 August – Fine day.  Enemy artillery continues very active … Battalion is ordered to clear REMY village with artillery cooperation.  … At 8pm a ‘Warning Order’ for the attack is issued. …

30 August – … Battalion is to move forward into assembly positions S.E. of REMY WOOD & VILLAGE.  Coys dribble forward, but the movement is observed & a heavy Machine Gun & Artillery barrage is put down.  B & C Coys are much disorganised & suffer severe casualties. … Our artillery is asked to shell opposite ridge & hostile fire is considerably reduced. … D Coy … get into position with only a few casualties.  At noon the C.O. … receives instructions to attack at 4pm, … Orders are issued, but it is impossible to promulgate these effectively.  Capt Mauncell M.C. takes his Coy & elements of A B & C. forward … They have to cross a steam & swamp, some of the men wading through waist deep in mud & water.  Line of 2nd objective is reached without much opposition on the part of the enemy, a number of whom were shot down as they attempted to run away. … Owing to delay in crossing river & swamp, the artillery barrage gets too far ahead.  This … prevents 3 objectives being taken.  Capt. WGB Edmonds MC collects about 60 stragglers & takes them up to reinforce … At midnight orders are received that the Battalion is to be relieved … before dawn. …. Relief is completed about 4.30am, the Battalion comes back into support …

31 August – Coys are reorganised … Owing to reduced strength of the Battn. …

During the three days, 29-31 August, the Battalion lost 2 officers and 21 O.R.s killed and 5 officers and 157 O.R.s wounded, with 24 O.R.s missing. 

Among those O.R.s ‘Killed in Action’ during the attack on Rémy on 30 August, was Cecil Austin.  He was 19 years old.

Cecil was originally buried, together with another unknown soldier from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, probably near to where they fell when attacking the village of Rémy.  The concentration record showed that they were both named on a single cross on a joint grave located at map reference: ‘O 18 C. 4. 7.’  This earlier record also suggested that he was killed two days later on 2 September 1918 – this may have been the burial date after the two bodies were found as the advance continued.  The map reference showed that the location of the original grave was at the south-west corner of Rémy Wood, which confirms Cecil’s presence in the attack on the Rémy Wood area on 30 August, when both his ‘B’, and also ‘C’ Company were ‘… much disorganised & suffer severe casualties.’

When smaller burial grounds and battlefield graves were later ‘concentrated’ – the bodies exhumed, moved and reburied in larger cemeteries, which could be better maintained – the two soldiers were buried in separate graves.

Cecil is now buried in Plot V. F. 25. in the Vis-en-Artois Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.  His former ‘grave-mate’ is buried next to him in Plot V. F. 26.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.  The Vis-en-Artois Cemetery is west of the village of Haucourt.  Vis-En-Artois and Haucourt were taken by the Canadian Corps on 27 August 1918.  The cemetery was begun immediately afterwards and was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the middle of October.  It consisted originally of 430 graves (in Plots I and II) of which 297 were Canadian and 55 belonged to the 2nd Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.  It was increased after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields of April-June 1917, August and September 1918, and from the smaller cemeteries in the neighbourhood. … The cemetery was designed by J R Truelove.[4]

His parents had the inscription ‘A Loving Son Tender and Kind, A Beautiful Memory Left Behind’, engraved on his gravestone.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on 4 October 1918,

… THE ROLL HONOUR.  Coventry and District Casualties.  The following are included the latest casualty lists: Killed.  Austin, 34801, C. (Rugby), R.W.R.[5]

His Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on the Rugby Baptist Church Memorial Tablet above the Minister’s vestry – although the latter with his name spelt – or transcribed – incorrectly,

This tablet and the organ in the Church are erected to the memory of those members of this Church who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914-1918, whose names are given herewith also as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the many others from this Church who served in the war.

– AUSTEN Cecil.

On waters deep in the treacherous mud.
On rock bound heights and burning sand.
They poured the offering of their blood.
They kept the honour of the land.[6]

After the war, Ned and Nellie Austin had moved to live at 11 Bridget Street, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Cecil AUSTIN was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, April 2018.

[1]      Info from: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

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

[3]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 4th Division, Piece 1484/1-7: 10 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1914 Aug – 1919 Jun)

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

[5]      Coventry Evening Telegraph, Friday, 4 October 1918.

[6]      https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/rugby-baptist-church-plaque.