Neville, George Henry. Died 2nd Jul 1916

George Henry Neville’s birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1880 in Rugby. He was baptised on 28 November 1880 in Dunchurch. His parents were Thomas Johnson Neville, b.c.1840 in Dunchurch, and Lillian née Lord, b.c.1851 in London. Their marriage was registered in Q1, 1873 in Brentford, Middlesex.

In 1891 the family were living in the village of Dunchurch. George now had three older brothers and three younger siblings. His father was a ‘Butcher (Master) & Farmer’. George received his early education at Dunchurch School, and then at the ‘Lower School, Rugby’ now the Lawrence Sheriff School, between 1893 and 1895. When he left school …

… He came on the staff of the Rugby Advertiser for a time, and then went into the employ of Mr G E Over till he was 18, when he joined the army. He served through the Boer War, and afterwards in India. On the outbreak of the present war he came home and took service in the 9th Lancers, but, promotion being slow, he transferred to the Oxford and Bucks. [This appears to be incorrect, but occurs twice in the newspaper report.][1]

For the 1901 census, when George would have been 20, he was not at home, although the family were still living in Dunchurch. He was serving overseas in the Boer War (1899-1902). After the end of the Boer War, he served in India and then returned home and ‘took service in the 9th Lancers’.

Before 1911, when George was 30, he was a Corporal, No.7532 in the Somerset Light Infantry and for the 1911 census he was with about 50 other soldiers at the Clydach Vale Hotel in Rhonda, Wales. There were also three police constables at the hotel. This was probably in connection with the Tonypandy riots of 1910 and 1911 (also known as the Rhondda riots) …
… a series of violent confrontations between coal miners and police that took place at various locations in and around the Rhondda mines of the Cambrian Combine. … Home Secretary Winston Churchill’s decision to allow the British Army to be sent to the area to reinforce the police shortly after the 8 November riot caused ill feeling towards him in South Wales throughout his life.[2]

Soon afterwards, in mid 1912, George Neville married Alice E Culverwell at Weymouth.

In August 1914, the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry was in Colchester, as part of 11th Brigade, 4th Division. On 22 August 1914 the Battalion landed at Le Havre as part of the British Expeditionary Force. The 11th Brigade fought at Mons, Le Cateau, Nery, Marne, Aisne, Meteran and Messines in 1914; Ypres, St Julien, Frezenberg Ridge, and Bellewaarde Ridge in 1915; Albert and Transloy Ridges at the Somme in 1916.

George was with the Battalion when it went to France, arriving on 21 August 1914, and it was later recorded that he had served at the Battle of Mons. Before mid-1915 he had been promoted to Company Sergeant-Major, and on 30 July 1915 he received a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry. As a 2nd Lieutenant, on 1 January 1916, he was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’,
SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY. Neville, Second Lieutenant G. H.[3]

On 14 January 1916, his award of the Military Cross for valour in the field was gazetted …

The Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 January 1916:
Awarded the Military Cross
No. 7532 Company Serjeant-Major (now Second Lieutenant) George Henry Neville,
Somerset Light Infantry.

Also in 1916 he was promoted to Captain, and would again, but posthumously, be ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ as ‘2nd Lt (temp. Capt.)’ on 4 January 1917.[4]

The 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry was in the 11th Brigade of the 4th Division of the Infantry and on 1 July 1916, George Henry Neville M.C. would have taken part in the attack on Redan Ridge which is between Serre Road and Beaumont Hamel, France.   In June 1916, the road out of Mailly-Maillet to Serre and Puisieux entered No Man’s Land about 1,300 metres south-west of Serre. On 1 July 1916, the 31st and 4th Divisions attacked north and south of this road and although parties of the 31st Division reached Serre, the attack failed and George was killed during the next day.

A report on the attack from a Sergeant who had returned, wounded, to Bilton, was also reported in the Rugby Advertiser.
This sergeant was behind Captain Neville, who was leading his company in a charge, and saw him receive a shot in the arm. But, undaunted, he went on, and presently was struck again in the chest, and fell. The company continued the advance, and nothing more was seen of the wounded officer – the search parties failing to find him.[5]

The Battalion Diary for 1 July 1916 relates that ‘Battn casualties were 26 Officers and 438 O.R.’   Among those listed as ‘Missing believed killed’ was ‘Capt. G. H. Neville.’

Whilst the records of the CWGC state that Captain George Henry NEVILLE, MC, MiD, of 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, was killed the next day on 2 July 1916, age, 35, this is in conflict with the Battalion Diary.

George is now buried in Plot: XIV, Row: G, Grave 12, in Serre Road Cemetery No.2. His gravestone is inscribed, ‘Beloved Husband’ ‘Love conquers all things even death’. His body was moved into the Serre cemetery from a location about 100 metres to the south-east, and although his original burial was not marked, his body was identified from the ‘uniform & buttons’. A ‘sleeve, cuff, 2 buttons Prince Albert’ identifying him as from ‘Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s)’ were forwarded to base. He was reburied in a coffin.

He was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal; he was also listed for the 1914 Star, but it seems that on 28 August 1919, his widow, Mrs A E Neville, had to apply for its issue. It seems that the clasp for having been ‘under fire’ may already have been issued.   He had qualified for the 1914 Star when he was a Sergeant.

It seems that by mid-1919, his widow had returned to her home area and was then living at 107 Chiswell, Portland, Dorset. She later remarried in late 1920 with Victor J Pearl, the marriage being registered in Weymouth, and she is listed by the CWGC as Alice Ethel Pearl.

George Henry Neville is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates and on the Old Laurentians’ Memorial Plaque. His death is also recorded on the website of Somerset Light Infantry.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

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This article on George Henry Neville was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © Anne Rogers, John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 15 July 1916.

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

[3]       Medal Card, and ref: London Gazette, 1 January 1916, p.36.

[4]       Medal Card, and ref: London Gazette, 4 January 1917, v.29890, p.224.

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 15 July 1916.

 

17th Jul 1915. More Reports from the Front

INTERESTING LETTER FROM A RUGBY TERRITORIAL.

Mr W F Wood, Market Place, last week received a very interesting letter from Pte W H Evans, “C” Company (formerly “E” Company), 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (son of Mr W Evans, tailor), from which we make the following extracts :—

I must write in sympathy with you in the loss of your stepson. But it must be a consolation to you knowing that he died doing his duty, the death of a true Englishman. He has set an example for all Rugby fellows to follow, more so the fellows out here who belonged to the Brigade and knew him so well. . . . We are now out of the trenches and have marched for four nights, so, of course, are a good way back from the firing line, and it is a real treat to be out of the sound of gun and rifle fire. We are now billeted in a village where the Germans have not been ; so everything is standing and the natives are living their simple life. So you see we are faring well. I often think of the times I had while in your Brigade, and one thing often comes across my mind. That is, while at Conway one year we had to sleep eight in a tent, and we grumbled. You had us in front of you, and talked to us, and said that perhaps some day we should be glad to sleep twelve in a tent. Your words have come true, for we have slept in some “rum places” since we have been out here—cow sheds where the cows have been a few hours before, loft with rats for company, and lots of funny places, but we must not grumble, for it has got to be done, and the sooner this lot is over the better.-The writer then refers in sympathetic terms to the death of Corpl Johnson, which we recorded at the time, and says that he often used to talk with him at the front of the old days with the Brigade. He adds : “ It was a blow to me, for he was my best chum.”—In conclusion, he expresses the hope that the Brigade is up to strength, and wishes it the best of success.

Both Pte Evans and Corpl Johnson were old members together of the Boys’ Brigade, the former being the bass drummer and the latter a side drummer. They both won the Recruits’ Cup for shooting the first year they were in the Territorials.

AN “OPEN LETTER” TO THE CITIZENS OF RUGBY.

FROM MEMBERS OF THE 1ST BORDER REGIMENT.

SIR,-We have read with interest the “ open letter ” published in the Advertiser of last month, and we are sure that the feelings expressed therein are reciprocated by the whole of the 87th Brigade, especially the Border Regiment. It will interest the good people of Rugby to know that those of their late guests who remain of the 87th Brigade are faring pretty well, under the circumstances, thanks to the rotten marksmanship of the Turkish artillery, the shells of which the boys have christened “ Wandering Willies ” and “ Algys.” With regards to the “ Wandering Willies,” they got their name on account of the wandering habits of the gun they are fired from, which after every shot wanders across the peninsula to another position. As regards the “ Algys,” their christening is due to the fact that they are too gentle to hurt. We are of opinion that the gun which fires the “ Algys” is manned by a blind gun crew !

The boys would like to know if there are any vacancies in the B.T.H harriers, as we can recommend the Turks as very good runners—when they see us fixing our bayonets.

The majority of our Brigade have been wounded, but have left the various hospitals and gone back to the peninsula. You will have learnt that our list of killed is rather heavy, but we have the consolation of knowing that the Turkish list is far heavier than ours.

Wishing every prosperity to the citizens of the town that so hospitably entertained us, we conclude with best wishes to all our late landladies from the boys of the 1st Border Regiment.—Sir, believe us to be, Yours, etc,

9973 Pte William E Groom,
8213 Pte W A Little.
9794 Pte S George.
8387 Pte G Weller.
5701 Pte T Grunder.

“DEAR OLD RUGBY.”

APPRECIATION FROM SERGT MILLS, OF INNISKILLING FUSILIERS.

Sergt E A Mills, 1st Batt Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, writing from Graylingwell War Hospital, Chichester, Sussex, states :—“ After the delightful time we spent in dear old Rugby, we have undergone some trying experiences, which you have read about in Sir Ian Hamilton’s dispatch, and I am sure the people of Rugby feel proud to know of the splendid exploits of the soldiers of the 87th Brigade, who formed a part of the renowned 29th Division. During all those trying experiences all you could hear was ” Roll on, Rugby,” but alas ! many of those splendid fellows will never see that picturesque town again, but those of us who are left will have the consolation of knowing that the people of Rugby will always have our fallen comrades in their minds. I consider myself very fortunate in arriving back in dear old England again, although a Turkish sniper only missed my “Cupid’s dartboard” by half-an-inch, and I am hoping to pay a visit to your town before I go out again to do a little more for King and country and the world’s peace. I must take this opportunity of thanking those ladies who inserted that splendid letter to the soldiers, which I happened to read in your paper, which I receive from my respected friends in Oxford Street. I must conclude now, by wishing every success to all the residents of “Dear old Rugby.”—I remain, respectfully yours, SERGT. MILLS, of the “ Skins.”

 

HILLMORTON SOLDIER’S NARROW ESCAPE.

VALISE BLOWN AWAY.

Machine-Gunner R S Bartlett, of the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, son of Mrs T Smith, of School Street, Hillmorton, has sent home a souvenir of the war, his valise, or what remains of it, for whilst entering the trenches, it was blown off his back by the explosion of a shell, which killed four comrades and wounded two others badly. Gunner Bartlett must have had a very narrow escape, judging by the torn and threadbare appearance of the remnants of the “ rucksack,” as he calls it, which we have had an opportunity of inspecting. It seems almost incredible, from the appearance of the valise, that the wearer should have escaped, yet in letter to his mother, he is able to record that he got off “ without a scratch.” It is not surprising that he adds, “It gave me a ‘oncer’ at the time, and I thought my back had gone.” Home cured ham was in the valise, “ but better that than me,” observes the soldier, “ and I am still in the pink.”

In a letter to a brother, Pte Bartlett gives additional particulars. He says:-“ When we were coming to the trenches on Saturday night they sent a tidy lot of ‘souvenirs,’ I can tell you, and blew my large coat, canteen of sugar and tea, some home-cured ham, cake, and all the sweets ; two bars of carbolic soap and writing-case, water-proof sheet and two sandbags, also a loaf ; and it left just the back of the rucksack on. I went to look for some of it after, but all I could find was an envelope on the parapet. I wondered what hit me for a minute, and I thought my back had gone. Toby Bates got his rucksack cut a bit in front of me. I asked him how he was and he said “ all right.” We started to laugh till we turned to look at the back of us and that did it. We had to pull Ayres out. . . . Billy Chamberlain got wounded coming up, and he was reported missing. . . . It’s the worse “ do ” we have had, but most of us are none the worse for it, and the other poor chaps have done their duty.”

LOCAL CASUALTIES OF THE WAR.

WELL-KNOWN RUGBY ATHLETE KILLED.

Members of the Rugby Hockey and Cricket Clubs in particular, and the residents of the town in general, will hear with regret that Second Lieut H G Rogers, of the 9th Somerset Light Infantry, has been killed at the Dardanelles. Second-Lieut Rogers, who received his commission in September last, had resided at Rugby for four or five years before the outbreak of the war, and was formerly employed on the staff of the B.T.H and latterly with Mr Ivan B Hart-Davies. He was a fine all-round athlete and especially excelled in hockey. He was a prominent member of the Rugby Club, and had also played for Warwickshire and the Midland Counties, and narrowly missed securing his inter-national cap. Second-Lieut Rogers was also an excellent cricketer, and did useful service for the premier local eleven. Of a most genial disposition, he was very popular with all with whom he came in contact, and his early death will be mourned by a large circle of friends. He was about 24 years of age.

Writing to a friend in Rugby from the Dardanelles, under date of June 21st, the late Second-Lieut Rogers said :—“ I landed a month ago and was attached to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers—a topping crowd, who did awfully well in the landing. Well, from the first we have not been out of shell-fire ; even landing they shell the beach, and it is perfectly beastly. Leman von Sanders must be told to stop it. Three other Somerset men came out with me, and, thank God, we are all here still, although we have lost since we landed about eight officers and 300 men—quite enough ! Still things are very merry and bright. We have only had two real scraps—one on the 4th, when we had to attack up a nullah, which was not pleasant, and then on top a couple of days in some perfectly rotten trenches, which held all right. Then lately we had five days in the trenches. I had a perfectly lovely bit, jetting out at right angles to our main line and with the Turks only about forty yards away on two flanks. The trench had only just been taken from the Turks, and was in an awful state, dead all along the bottom less than an inch down, and built into the sides all over the place. Well, we had a beastly time for three days and nights. I averaged three hours’ sleep per 24 hours, and then not consecutive hour’s all five days. Then, on the night of the third day, at 8.30 p.m, they attacked us in force on both sides, throwing any number of hand-bombs (awful things), and eventually, about 5.30 a.m, they got half the sap, but we drove them out again by 6.30, and still hold the trench. A wounded man, who gave himself up, said that 500 men had come up specially for the attack, and only three got back. I was ‘severely’ wounded. I was sitting on the parapet firing my revolver at the brutes ten yards away, when one of their bullets just took the skin off my first finger. I tell you I did not stay sitting there long ; it was lucky. We are just at the end of our rest and expect to go up to-night, so will have an exciting time again.”

SERGT. MARTIN, OF BILTON, REPORTED KILLED.

Sad news has been received by Mr and Mrs Martin, of 4 Addison Terrace, Bilton, concerning their son, Sergt D C Martin, of the 7th King’s Royal Rifles. The official communication is to the effect that he has been wounded in action, but the officers’ letters carry the tidings beyond this, and there seems no doubt from what is learnt from this and other sources, that the unfortunate soldier has been killed. Sergt Martin joined the forces on the outbreak of the war, and received quick promotion. At the time he enlisted he was employed at Messrs Willans & Robinson’s, and previously he worked for a number of years at the Rugby engine-sheds; first as a cleaner and subsequently as a fireman. He was popular and much liked amongst his associates, and being fond of football he assisted both the Village Club and the Elborow Old Boys. Amongst the latter he had several intimate friends, and joined the army with them. For a number of years Sergt Martin belonged to the Rugby Infantry Co, so he was not unfamiliar with military matters when he enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifles.

Major Geoffrey St Aubyn, in a letter to the parents, says: “I regret to inform you that Sergt Martin was killed in action on 1st of July, 1915. Please accept my sincerest sympathy in your great loss. Your son promised to be a really good soldier. He had been in my Company since he joined the army, and his promotion was very quick because I thought so well of him. Please allow me to convey to you the sympathy of his comrades in the Company, both officers and men.”

Another letter which was much appreciated by the parents, has been received from Lieut G H Gibson. It is dated July 10th, and it as follows : “ Dear Mr Martin,—Just a line to tell you as best I can, how sad and sorry I am to lose your son. He died a soldier’s death, and I should like you to know how highly we all thought of him. I knew him very well, and I feel a sense of great personal loss. You have my very deep sympathy. May God give you strength to help you through. We have one consolation, that he died doing his duty. Would that he could have been spared, but God willed otherwise.—With my sincere sympathy, Believe me, Yours sincerely, G H Gibson, Lieut.”

BILTON MAN KILLED IN ACTION.

Mr and Mrs Maddocks, of Bilton, have received news that their son, Pte Cyrus Underwood (aged 22), who enlisted in the 1st Royal Warwicks on December 4th, was killed in action on July 9th.

In a letter conveying the sad news to Mrs Maddocks, a chum of the late Pte Underwood says:—“ I can assure you he died without any pain, as he was shot through the forehead by a sniper. He lived about half-an-hour after, but never regained consciousness. You have my deepest sympathy. I have already missed him very much, not only me but a good many more in our company, as I don’t think he was disliked by anyone. He was killed in the early hours of Friday morning, July 9th, I was with him in a dug-out all day on Thursday, and we had some fun together. I can hardly realize his old cheery face has left us for ever.”

Lce-Corpl J Dark confirms the regrettable news, and says deceased was a bomb thrower, and it was while throwing bombs at the Germans that he was killed. He adds: “ Your son was respected by all his comrades and we deeply mourn the loss of him.”

For several years Pte Underwood was employed at Bilton Grange as a footman.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

J H Watts and Arthur Massey, both of Long Lawford, and Bertie Howard, of Dunsmore Stud Farm, have enlisted in the 3/7th Batt Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which is in training at Wedgnock, near Warwick.

F C E Rendall, B.A. has been appointed to a second-lieutenant in the 13th Service Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He has been selected to attend a class of instruction at Fort Purbrook, Portsmouth, and Saturday, July 17th.

Leslie K Phillips, second son of Mr J Phillips, of St Aubyn, Hillmorton Road, Rugby, has received a commission as second-lieutenant in the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Portsmouth Division), stationed at Gosport. He was a pupil at “Oakfield” School, and is also an Old Rugbian. His elder brother, Eric S Phillips, is a second-lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the Border Regiment.

Second-Lieutenant A K Bennett, son of Mr A Bennett, of Elmdon House, Rugby, who some months ago was detailed from the 9th Battalion Warwicks to the Divisional Cyclists Corps, sailed with his Division a fortnight ago to join the Mediterranean Force. In his letters home he refers to the splendid accommodation on the troopship, and the excellent health and spirits of all on board, notwithstanding the great heat they were experiencing during the voyage.

RUGBY SOLDIERS WOUNDED.

News has been received by Mrs C Batchelor, of 16 Pinder’s Lane, that her son, Pte A J Batchelor, who enlisted in the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry at the commencement of the war, was wounded in the hand on June 24th, and is now in the Cumberland Hospital at Carlisle, where he is doing well.

News has been received by Mrs W Sansome, of 5 Gas Street, that her son, Lance-Corpl Samuel George Barnett, of the 5th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, was wounded in the back in France on June 16th. He has now been discharged from hospital and admitted to a convalescent home.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

The following have been accepted at the Rugby Drill Hall during the past week :—E Hartopp and F Coleman, Leicester Regiment ; A W Ades and J Harvey, Royal Sussex Regiment ; G Holloway and F S C Pickering, R.W.R ; F Rogers, Army Service Corps ; F Bull, Worcester Regiment ; E F Mack, East Kents.

It has been decided to accept for enlistment in the Infantry not only men who are fit for service in the Field, but also those who are fit for garrison service abroad, or for home service only.

In future no man will be rejected provided he is free from organic disease and is fit for duty in garrisons at home or abroad.

Men enlisted “ Fit for home service only,” although enlisted for general service, who are at the moment only fit for garrison service, will not be taken for service in the Field unless they become fit.

In future men will be enlisted as follows :-

(a) Service in the Field at home or abroad.

(b) Garrison service at home or abroad.

(c) Home service only.

F F JOHNSTONE, Lieut-Col,

July 14, 1915.             Recruiting Officer.