21st Sep 1918. Suggested Memorial to Rugby Men


Several matters of more than ordinary intent, including a suggestion for Rugby a memorial to local soldiers killed and maimed in the War, was discussed at the monthly meeting of the Urban Council on Tuesday, when there were present : Messrs J J McKinnell (chairman), W Flint (vice-chairman), T A Wise, W H Linnell, R Walker, W A Stevenson, R S Hudson, T Ringrose, C J Newman, F E Hands, S Robbins, and H Yates.


Before proceeding to the formal business, the Chairman, on behalf of the Council, welcomed Lieut C J Newman on his return from active service, and also conveyed to him the sympathy of the Council in the death of his wife. The circumstances were peculiarly sad, and he wished Lieut Newman to realise how deeply his colleagues felt for him in his deep sorrow.—Mr Newman said he was pleased to be back again to do his duty for the public of Rugby, and especially the electors of the Central Ward.


An interesting discussion took place on the consideration of a letter from the Rugby Branch of the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, asking the Council to assist them in providing an institute (where they could hold their meetings), a library, &c, for men discharged from the various forces.—The Chairman suggested that the letter be referred to the Estates Committee.—Mr Newman said he desired to raise the question of a war memorial to their local men. So far nothing had been done, except to arrange for a collection of photographs to be placed in the Library.—The Clerk (Mr A Morson, M.B.E) explained that other steps had been taken. Some time ago, at the suggestion of the Council, he invited the relatives of soldiers killed in the War to forward the names to him, and he now had a very long list.—Mr Newman contended that this was not going far enough. They should now consider the question of providing a fitting memorial to those who had been killed or maimed in the War, and a list of their names should be suitably preserved. Rugby did not lend itself to statuary ; and, after all, a statue was only a nine days’ wonder after it was unveiled. He therefore suggested that they should go further than this, and erect some houses, with all the modem conveniences and improvements for discharged soldiers who had been maimed in the War. In connection with this it might also be possible to erect an institute for the discharged soldiers.—The Chairman : It is a huge job.—Mr Robbins supported Mr Newman’s suggestion, and said if they did not aim at something big they would not get anything. Houses for discharged soldiers would be much more useful than a monument.—The Chairman suggested that they should deal with the subject matter of the letter first. If these discharged men had to wait until the Council had raised the money for providing an institute they would have to wait a long time. He proposed that the letter be referred to the Estates committee to see if that body could find suitable premises for them.—Mr Yates said he would like to have more information from the association as to what they had in mind. He had considered the question very carefully, and he was not in favour of providing any institute for setting these men apart from the rest of the civilian population. They wanted these men, when they returned to civil life, to take their part in the reconstruction of society with the rest of the community as far as possible, and they did not wish to set up any class feeling between those men who had been away and those who had not. If they only wanted a place to hold their meetings in it was the duty of the Council to find them one ; but he believed they were well provided for in that respect at present.—Mr Newman said he did not agree with these remarks. A discharged soldier had the right to ask for anything he liked, and why should he not be allowed to do as he liked ? When the War was over the discharged sailors and soldiers would be a force to be reckoned with, and they must do all they could to entertain them and provide them with decent surroundings, and not leave them in the streets to die like dogs, as they had done in the past. This was his sole idea in suggesting the provision of houses and an institute for these men.—The letter was referred to the Estates Committee.

The question of a war memorial was then considered, and the Chairman said he took it that they would desire it to be a Memorial to all who went out to fight for them, whether they came back from the War or not. He thought they would have to set up a special committee to deal with the matter, The first thing, however, was to get the money, and then they could decide what to do with it. He agreed with Mr Newman that Rugby did not lend itself to statuary, and he thought the suggestion that an institute should be provided was a very good one. However, if they had the money now they would not be able to spend it.—Mr Newman : There are ways and means for everything in this world.—The question was referred to the General Purposes Committee.


The Chairman said it would be within the knowledge of the members that since their last meeting a committee of local ladies had been very energetic in making jam for the military and the civil population. They had made 7,350lbs. and he believed that, with one exception, the whole of the work had been done voluntarily. He especially mentioned Mr W Barnett (chairman of the committee), Lady Rowena Patterson, and Mrs Nickalls in connection with this work, and a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the committee ; also to the gas Company for lending the premises for making the jam, and Mr Alfred Over for providing storage facilities.


The following message was read from the President of the French Republic in reply to the congratulatory telegram sent to him on the occasion of the celebration of France’s Day, July 14th :—

“ The President of the French Republic is very much affected by the congratulations and good wishes which you have sent on the occasion of France’s Day, and thanks you warmly in the name of the French people, who are closely united to the British people in the defence of right and liberty.—R POINCARE.”

It was decided to have this letter, together with several others, including one from Admiral Beatty, framed and hung in the Council Chamber.


A letter was read from the Rugby Food Control Committee, asking the Council to take immediate steps to provide a cold storage for Rugby District—Mr Robbins : Who has got to pay for it ?—Mr Wise pointed out that at present they had nothing of this kind in the town. He thought such a building would be very useful, and it might even be a paying investment. It was a question as to whether they would get permission to erect such a building, even if they decided to do so ; but he thought at present it was important that perishable foods should be stored in the localities where they were needed, and it would be a great boon to the community at large if such a building could be erected.—Mr Yates moved that the letter be referred to the Markets Committee. He believed it was necessary that they should have a cold storage in the town, because one thing they had learned from the shortage of commodities was the sinfulness of waste : and even when they did get more food it would be necessary to have somewhere to store that portion which was not required for immediate consumption.—Mr Wise promised that the Food Committee would assist the Council with any figures they could obtain from traders likely to use the storage.—The Chairman : If the town grows, as it will do sooner or later, we are bound to have a cold storage.—Mr Stevenson suggested that the letter should be referred to a Joint Markets and Plans Committee, and this was agreed to.


The Baths Committee reported that in view of the great need for economy in coal and light during the winter, the committee propose to further consider the re-opening of the slipper baths at their next meeting, but their present proposal is to open the baths on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only, instead of the whole week.


Sergt T C Vickers, Yeomanry, Rugby, has been officially reported drowned ; and Pte W Everton, Tank Corps, Rugby, has died of wounds.

Rifleman A V Pitham, Rifle Brigade, Rugby has been wounded and captured by the Germans ; and Pte H Lawley, RW.R, has also been reported a prisoner of war.

Capt J Oscar Muntz, youngest son of Mr F E Muntz, of Umberslade, died of wounds on September 4th at the age of 42.

W F W Satchell, son of Mr & Mrs W F J Satchell, 94 Park Road, Rugby, has been granted a commission as Second-Lieutenant in the Royal Warwickshire Regt.

Pte Lewis Lewis, City of London Regiment, son of ex-P.C Lewis, 35 King Edward Road, was killed in France on August 8th. He was nearly 19 years of age, an old St Matthew’s boy, and an employee at Rugby Post Office. He joined the Army in October, 1917, and was drafted to France in April.

Mrs Hutt, 15 Bridget Street, New Bilton, has received news that her son, Pte J H Lines, Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed in action on August 27th. He of was 19 years of age, and before joining the Army in July 1917, he was employed at the L & N-W Railway Loco Sheds. Another son of Mrs Hutt was killed in France last year.

Mr & Mrs N Austin, 3 Oliver Street, Rugby, have received official notice that their youngest son, Pte Cecil Austin, 1st R.W.R, was killed in action in France on August 30th. Pte Austin was only 19 years of age. He joined up on February 14, 1916, and went to France the following year. When he had only been there a few weeks he was invalided back with dysentery, and was in hospital five months. He only re-joined his regiment in July, and was sent to France for the second time the following week. His eldest brother, Wilfred Austin, has been serving in Egypt since January, 1915.

Intimation has been received by Mr H C Samson, Hillmorton Road, Rugby, that his son, Second Lieut O M Samson, died of wounds on the 17th inst. Lieut Samson was an assistant master at Rugby School (Army Class). He was an 0 for Blue at cricket, and also played for Somersetshire. At Rugby he was of great assistance to the Rugby Club, with which he frequently played. He also made one of a very successful Rugby hockey team captained by Mr F J Kittermaster for several years.

Corpl H Rogers, M.M, 1st Royal Warwickshire Regt., has recently been awarded the bar to the Military Medal for gallantry. The Major-General of his Division has also written congratulating him on his fine behaviour. Corpl Rogers, who is a native of Flore, Northants, and nephew of Mrs H Miller, 10 Alfred St, Rugby, has been twice wounded, and before the War was employed at Rugby L & N-W Railway Station.

Driver Jack Hillyard, A.S.C, son of Mr Charles Hillyard, 20 Frederick Street, Rugby, was killed on August 22nd. He was 24 years of age, and before joining up in October, 1914, he was employed as a vanman by Mr J J McKinnell. He served three years and three months in France, and only returned to the front a few weeks prior to his death. He was educated at New Bilton Council School. At one time Mr Hillyard had six sons in the Army ; two have been discharged, and three are still serving.

Mr and Mrs Southern, of 77 Windsor Street, have received a letter from the Commanding Officer of the Regiment notifying the death of their youngest son, Pte S Southern, in action on September 4th. His platoon went forward in the attack over a difficult piece of ground, and when it became inevitable that a message must be sent back he volunteered to carry it. He had very nearly got into safety when a bullet hit him in the head, causing instantaneous death. His loss to the Company (the officer adds) is a very real one. He was doing excellent work, was very popular, and they could ill spare him. Pte Southern was awarded the Military Medal on May 30, 1917. He joined up at the commencement of the War, previously being employed at the B.T.H Works. This is the second son of Mr & Mrs Southern who has fallen in the War.

Pte John James Brookes, R.W.R, eldest son of Mr John Brookes, 41 Lawford Road, New Bilton, was killed in action on August 30th. He was 22 years of age, and was a member of “ E ” Company when war broke out, and was mobilised with them. He had seen a good deal of heavy fighting, and had been wounded three times. Before the War he was a cleaner in the L & N-W Railway Loco Sheds.

Mr William Fleet, 98 Lawford Road, Rugby, has received news that has youngest son, Pte Cyril William Fleet, 6th Dorsets, died of wounds on September 10th. He was 32 years of age, and before joining the Army at the commencement of the War he worked at the Cement Works. He was gassed a short time ago, and only returned to France a fortnight before his death.

Pte Albert Thomas Gibbs, London-Irish Rifles, eldest son of Mr & Mrs A B Gibbs, 14 Kimberley Road, Rugby, has died while a prisoner of war in Germany. Pte Gibbs was employed on the L & N-W Railway. He enlisted about twelve months ago, and had only been in France a short time when he was taken prisoner. He was 35 years of age, and leaves a widow and two children. His younger brother, Flight Cadet David Gibbs, was recently killed in an aeroplane accident.

News has been received at Coombe Abbey that Lord Uffington, the Earl of Craven’s heir, is lying seriously wounded in France, and has had a leg amputated above the knee.

NEWS has been received that Corpl J Seymour, who in last week’s issue was reported wounded and suffering from enteric, has since died. He belonged to the Rugby Howitzer Battery at the outbreak of war, and has served with them since in France and Italy. He leaves a widow and two children, for whom much sympathy is felt.


LIEUT WILFRED COLEMAN WINS THE MILITARY CROSS.—News has just reached Wolston that Lieut Wilfred Coleman has been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry on the banks of the Marne, He is the only son of Mr & Mrs T P Coleman, of Marston Hall. When war was declared he was a member of the 1st, Troop of the Warwickshire Yeomanry. In April, 1916, he went out to Egypt, and from there to Gallipoli where he was wounded. He was afterwards among the Yeomanry in Egypt when so many of them were killed or taken prisoners. He was subsequently sent into training at Cairo for a commission, and was then attached to the 5th Devons with whom he has gamed his present honour. He has now been transferred to the Royal Air Force.

DEATH OF TWO SONS.—Deep sympathy is felt for Mr & Mrs Robert Clarke, who heard in two days of the death of two of their sons. Pte William Clarke, of the Oxon and Bucks L.I, had been missing since March 21st ; but a friend—Pte Harrison—has written to say that he saw him killed. On the next day a notification was received from the War Office that their youngest son—Pte Joseph Clarke, of the Coldstream Guards—was killed on August 22nd. Both sons were respected employees of Messrs Bluemel, and were well known in the district They had been in France for a long time.

KILLED.—Sergt J Major, son of Mr H Major, of Station Cottages, has been killed in action. He joined up at the outbreak of war, being the first recruit from the parish. A memorial service was held in the church on Sunday evening.

MR & MRS H PEARCE, Coventry Road, learn that their son, Pte W Pearce, K.R.R, who was badly wounded and was a prisoner of war, has been repatriated, and is in London, where he has undergone an operation to his head.


HARRY COCKERELL KILLED.—On Saturday official intimation was received by Mr & Mrs H W Cockerell that their only son, Pte Harry Richard Cockerell, R.W.R, was killed in action on the 1st inst.  A sympathetic letter from the chaplain attached to the regiment states that Pte Cockerell fell fighting gallantly in one of the most important engagements of the War, and was killed instantaneously by a shell. The rev gentleman adds: “ He will be much mused.” Before he was called up Pte Cockerell had joined his father in his business as plumber and decorator. He had gained the respect of all, and was greatly beloved by many friends. Sincere sympathy is accorded to Mr & Mrs Cockerell and family in their sad loss.

HARRY COOKE GASSED.—Mr & Mrs John Cooke have been informed that their eldest son, Rifleman Harry Cooke, Rifle Brigade, is in hospital in France suffering, from gas poisoning. He was quite blind for three days after the occurrence, but is progressing favourably. His younger brother, Rifleman Reg Cooke, K.R.R, reported missing last May, has not since been heard of.

DR CLAGUE TO REMAIN.—When Dr Clague was medically examined at Coventry in June last he was passed for service in Grade 1. At the end of August he received his orders to join the Army in October. On the 3rd inst. Long Itchington people solemnly protested against being left without a resident doctor. On the 11th inst. Dr Clague underwent a second medical examination at Birmingham, and has now been totally rejected as unfit for military service. His services as a medical man will, therefore, be retained in the village.

OUR MEN.—Cecil Wall has been wounded in the thigh, and is making satisfactory progress ; and Ernest Hall has been gassed, fortunately without very serious effects.

ON TUESDAY morning, Mr & Mrs W Hirons, Coventry Road, were notified that their fourth son, Pte G Hirons, R.W.R, had been killed. He was formerly in the employ of Mr J Johnson, J.P, Thurlaston, and was the finest young man in the village. He was 6ft in height and well-built, although only 19 years of age, and he was much respected by everybody in the parish. Mr & Mrs Hirons have another son—J Hirons—badly wounded in France. They had four sons in the Army till two of them were killed. The two remaining in the Army are members of the Warwickshire Police Force, one having been stationed at Sutton Coldfield, and the other at Shipston-on-Stour.


A letter was read from a milk retailer complaining that she was unable to get a proper supply of milk, and pointing out that unless the committee could help her she would be unable to allow her customers the quantity to which they were entitled.—Mrs Shelley said this was a very hard case. The woman was a widow and an invalid, and was dependent upon her business for a livelihood ; whereas some of the other retailers were employed at the works, and were still keeping their businesses going.—Mr Cooke moved that the whole milk question be re-considered by the Rationing Committee. He believed that the town was threatened with a milk Monopoly, and that the situation was very serious.—Mr Humphrey drew attention to the fact that large quantities of milk were used daily in the canteens at the B.T.H and Willans & Robinson’s, and he suggested that they should use instead either dry milk or condensed milk in barrels. The fresh milk could then be distributed amongst the public.—In reply to Mr Gay, the Executive Officer said the committee had no power to commandeer milk ; but. if necessary, they could take over the whole milk supply of the town.—Mr Gay supported Mr Humphrey’s suggestion, and proposed that the two firms be approached on the matter. The Chairman : We do not want to be trouble with the workmen if we do this ?—Messrs Gay and Cooke replied in the negative.—The Chairman : We do not want it to be said that we wish to rob the workman of his milk.—Mr Gay : With the average workman his wife and children come first. They will be quite willing to forego fresh milk in the canteen in order that the children may have it.—It was decided that the executive Officer should approach the two firms on this question. and that the Rationing Committee should meet to consider the whole question of milk supply.—Mr Stevenson : Will they consider the retail price ?—The Executive Officer : The price will have to be revised at the end of September.

A quantity of second grade bacon has now been received, and it was pointed out that the price of this was 1s 8d per lb straight from the case, and 1s 10d per lb washed and dried.—Both the Executive Officer and Mr Humphrey remarked that this bacon is very nice, almost as good, in fact, as the better quality bacon.—Mr Cripps : Do not praise it too much, or it will be 2s per lb next week.


AUSTIN.—In loving memory of our darling boy, Pte. CECIL AUSTIN, 1st R.W.R., youngest son of Mr. & Mrs. Austin, 3 Oliver Street, Rugby, who was killed “ somewhere in France ” on August 30, 1918 ; aged 19 years. One of the very best.—From Dad and Mother.

FLEET.—Officially reported having died from gunshot wounds in France on September 10th, Pte. CYRIL WILLIAM FLEET, aged 32, youngest son of William Fleet, 98 Lawford Road, Rugby.

LINES.—In ever-loving, memory of my dearest and youngest son, Pte. J. H. LINES, of the Royal Berks., who was killed in action on August 27th “ somewhere in France ” ; aged 19 years.
“ We do not forget him, nor do we intend ;
We think of him daily, and will to the end.
We miss him and mourn him in silence unseen,
And dwell on the memory of days that have been.”
“ In the midst of life we are in death.”
—Not forgotten by his sorrowing Mother, Father, Brothers and Sisters.

WHITE.—Killed in action in France on July 29th, Pte CHARLES WHITE, 1st Batt. Royal Warwickshire Regt., second son of the late William White, formerly of Willoughby, and Ann White, Carterton, Clansfield, Oxon ; aged 33.


CASHMORE.—In loving memory of our dear brother, Pte. CHARLES CASHMORE, 5th Oxon 7 Bucks L.I.
“ Three years have passed,
No one knows
What was this gallant hero’s end
No wooden cross or mound to show
Where he fell fighting against the foe.”
—From his ever-loving Sister, Nell, Violet, and brother George.

CUFAUDE.—In loving memory of No. 40549 EDWARD HENRY CUFAUDE (Yelvertoft) who fell in action on Hill 70 on September 22. 1917.
“ May we in Thy sorrows share,
For Thy sake all peril dare,
Ever know Thy tender care.

GREEN.— In ever loving memory of EDWARD (BERT) GREEN, who fell at the Battle of Loos, September 23-27, 1915.
—Sadly missed by his wife and children.

GRIFFITH.—In loving memory of LLEWELLYN GRIFFITH, who died of wounds on September 18, 1916.—“ Gone from sight, but to memory ever dear.”—From loving Brothers and Sisters—74 South Street.

HOPKINS.—In loving memory of FRANK, the youngest son of Henry Hopkins, late of Long Lawford, killed in action in France on September 18, 1915.
“ He bravely answered duty’s call ;
He gave his life for one and all ;
But thee unknown grave is the bitterest blow,
None but our aching hearts can know.”
—Never forgotten by his loving Father, Sisters, and Brothers.

NEAL.—In loving memory of Bombardier FRANK NEAL, R.F.A., who died of wounds on September 19, 1916.—Never forgotten by his loving sister Carrie.

THOMPSON.—In loving memory of our dear brother LEVI, who was killed in action in France on September 23, 1917.—Not forgotten by his Brothers and Sisters, Will, Tom, Emma, Fanny.


Southern, Sidney. Died 4th Sep 1918

Sidney Southern was the youngest of the eight children of William and Caroline nee Rainbow who were married at St Andrews Church on 17 January 1876.   William was then a stoker, born in Rugeley in Staffordshire, his mother came from Pailton.  Sidney was baptised at the same church on 9 March 1894, when his father was an engine driver living at 1009 Old Station.  By 1901 the family still at home were living at No 3 Windsor Street, but had moved to No 77 by 1911.  By this time Sidney was aged seventeen and working as an armature winder at BTH.  His parents were at the same address when his gravestone was erected in the early 1920s.

Sidney joined the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as Private 11049, serving with the 5th Battalion.  He must have enlisted near the outbreak of war as he was sent to France on 21 May 1915 according to his medal card.  At the time of his death he was Private No 28905 with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry attached to the 1st/1st Bn Herefordshire Regiment.  While with the Ox & Bucks he was awarded the Military Medal, the award appearing in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 17 July 1917.  This decoration was established in March 1916 by King George V to recognise outstanding bravery of soldiers in the field.

There is no mention of this in the Rugby Advertiser, but the war diary of the 5th Battalion for the period March to July 1917 records only one major engagement, on 3 May, when there was heavy fighting and shelling by both sides.  Of the total strength of 550, 19 men of the Regiment were killed, 115 missing and 153 wounded, so it seems likely that Sidney was decorated for his actions on that day.

War Diary of 5th Bn Ox & Bucks L I for 3 May 1917

It is probable that he was transferred to the KSLI after that regiment was decimated on 21 March 1918 at Lagnicourt during the German Spring Offensive.  It was completely reformed under Lt Col Meynell, formerly of the Ox & Bucks, and ready to serve within ten days in the Ypres Salient, where it remained until the autumn.

Sidney was killed in action in Belgium on 4 September 1918, and is buried at Wytschaete Military Cemetery, 7km south of Ypres.  His mother Caroline received his back pay and a war gratuity of £18.10s.  He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star as well as the Military Medal.




Southern, Albert Edward Rainbow. Died 1st Jul 1916

Albert Edward Rainbow Southern was born in early 1883 in Rugby, the fourth of ten children and baptised on 13 May 1883 at Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, when his family had recently moved from one of the Tank Cottages in New Bilton, to 1009 Old Station, Rugby.

Albert’s father, William, was born in about 1852 in Rugeley, Staffordshire, and in 1881 was a [railway] fireman. Before 1891, he had been promoted to become an engine driver. Albert’s mother, Caroline ‘Carry’ née Rainbow Southern was born in about 1853, more locally in Pailton, Warwickshire, and her marriage with William was registered in Rugby in early 1876. In 1901, William Southern was no longer an engine driver, but now a labourer, although probably still with the L&NW Railway as he was working for the company as a ‘tube cleaner’ in 1911.

Albert Southern became a soldier and enlisted into the Northampton Regiment, and is understood to have served for some time in South Africa. The 2nd Battalion sailed for South Africa in October 1899, and formed part of 9th Brigade. The Battalion was involved in actions at Belmont, and Enslin in November and in early December near Graspan, all with comparatively low losses. In the autumn of 1900, the Battalion was in the south-west of the Transvaal, moving to the Central Transvaal in early 1901.

However, by April 1901, now aged 19, Albert Southern, assuming that he had indeed been in South Africa, had returned to England, and was enumerated as a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment, stationed at the Verne Citadel, in Portland, Dorset. This is today a high security prison, but Verne Citadel was then a heavily defended artillery fortress overlooking Portland harbour. Another source suggests that from 1900-1901, it was the 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment that was at Verne, however, the 1901 census returns confirm the presence of the 2nd Battalion and it was in the process of being replaced by the 4th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, which had already arrived.

By 1911 Albert had had left the army and was enumerated back in Rugby as an ‘Ex Soldier’, and was lodging at the White Lion, at 20 York Place, Dunchurch Road, Rugby. This was behind Frosts, the printers at the top of Dunchurch Road.

When the First War broke out, and with recruiting stepped up, Albert Southern rejoined the Northamptonshire Regiment, as Private No.17672, on 24 March 1915. He had been working as a weaver, and was living at 77 Windsor Street, Rugby. When he rejoined, he was aged 31 years 11 months and was 5ft 4in tall. His military career is recorded in detail in his Service Record which is one of the few that have survived. This has details of his postings, at home, in France, back home and then back in France. Despite, or perhaps because he was an ‘old sweat’, his discipline was perhaps far from ideal, with many minor offences, but the record also shows evidence of ill health, mainly resulting from his asthma, which possibly resulted from the poor living conditions at the Front. At various dates his Service Record showed him with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the Regiment.

In the first three days after his enlistment, Albert was posted first to the Depot, presumably still in Northampton, and then on 27 March 1915 to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was then at Portland, which Albert would have known from his earlier military service, and then moved to Gillingham, Kent in May 1915, where on 24 July 1915, Albert was ‘absent from 8.45am parade’ and the next day ‘was absent from answering his name when a defaulter at 8.15am’. He received two days Confined to Barracks (CB). He was absent again on 27 July receiving three days CB. Then on 9 August he was absent for three days, forfeiting seven days pay (possibly later reduced to two or three days) and receiving two days CB. Then on the 13 August he was both ‘I. Absent from bathing parade at 5.15pm’ and ‘II. Stating a falsehood to be an NCO’, and received another seven days CB. The latter offences were dealt with by the 3rd Battalion officers.

Perhaps they had enough of him! – or reinforcements were needed – but after 153 days ‘Home Service’ on 25 August 1915, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion in France, and joined them on 2 September. He was then in France for 205 days, but not without incident.

The 2nd Battalion had been in Alexandria, Egypt on the outbreak of war and returned to England, landing in October 1914. It moved to Hursley Park near Winchester and initially came under command of 24th Brigade in 8th Division which had been formed by bringing together regular army units which had been stationed at various points around the British Empire. The 8th Division moved to France in November 1914, as a badly-needed reinforcement to the BEF and the 2nd Battalion landed in France at Le Havre on 5 November 1914.

Having been posted to France on 25 August 1915, Albert Southern would have missed the Battle of Auber’s Ridge in May 1915 when the 2nd Northamptonshire Battalion was in the northern pincer attack with 24th Brigade and took heavy casualties in the catastrophic attacks and where a number of Rugby men died.

On 18 October 1915, the 24th Infantry Brigade was transferred to the 23rd Division in exchange for 70th Brigade. From about 14 September, the 23rd Division took responsibility for a front line sector between Ferme Grande Flamengrie to the Armentieres-Wez Macquart road, this was just south of the Belgian border and some 10km. north-west of Lille and included the front at Bois Grenier. They remained in this area for a considerable time until end January 1916.

On 9 October 1915 when ‘in the field’ Albert was charged with, ‘1. Reporting sick without a cause when wanted for digging. 2. Smoking whilst on sentry’ – he received ‘10 days field imprisonment No. 1’. He also suffered from asthma, this being noted on his record on 31 October; 6 November, and a decision was presumably made to treat him in England as he was first transferred to Etaples; then on 15 November ‘Class A, joined Havre’.

A few days later, on 19 November 1915, he was at ‘home’ but was charged with ‘Having ball ammo in his trousers when parading …’ and he lost three days’ pay. Then an entry dated 28 November noted ‘To Front’. In December ‘in billets’ his offences continued … 5 days CB on 7 December for a now illegible offence; on 8 December ‘absent off guard mounting’ – 5 days CB; on 14 December ‘Losing by neglect his haversack’ – 3 days CB and an illegible note, possibly relating to its replacement. Then on 30 December he was ‘Unshaven on parade’ – 2 days CB. In his favour, at least it was recorded that there had been no cases of drunkenness! These offenses were during the ‘… dreadful winter in the trenches’, and on 6 January 1916, Albert was again ‘unshaven on parade’ and given seven days CB.

On 12 February he was admitted to ‘70 FA’ [?Field Ambulance] with ‘brownish catarrh’, and on 9 March he was classed as ‘sick’ and admitted to hospital with asthma and bronchial catarrh. He was transferred to Rouen on 12 March and then again back to England on 16 March, being posted to the Depot on 17 March 1916, on which date he was admitted to the ‘War Hospital, Clopton, Stratford-on-Avon’ with ‘Bronchitis’. Eleven days later, on 28 April, he was passed ‘fit for duty’ by the ‘Officer in Charge’. After his discharge, he was granted ‘furlough’ [leave] from 29 April to 8 May 1916 and on that date he was posted back to the 3rd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, until 30 May. He had spent a no doubt welcome period of 44 days in UK.

Albert would thus have missed the actions from 21 May 1916, when the Division was defending against the German attack on Vimy Ridge, although the action was more intense to its right. The 23rd Division was relieved by the 47th (London) Division on 11 June.

When Albert Southern was posted back to France on 31 May 1916, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, which was in the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. The Battalion had been in France since landing at Le Havre on 13 August 1914. Albert was now some 100kms or more further south than on his earlier French posting.

One service record entry suggests that Albert was then transferred in the field to the Essex Regiment on 26 June 1916. However, his formal records still recorded him with the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. This was in the lead up to the Battle of Albert, which comprised the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Anglo-French infantry attacked on the south bank from Foucaucourt to the Somme and from the Somme north to Gommecourt, 2 miles (3.2 km) beyond Serre. Whilst there were some successes on that first day, in the area from the Albert-Bapaume road to Gommecourt, the British attack was a disaster, and this was where most of the approximate 60,000 British casualties of the day were incurred.

Albert Southern was posted as ‘Missing’ on 1 July 1916, during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He had been back in France only 32 days. His father was ‘notified’ on 11 July 1916. His body was never found and it was presumed that he had ‘Died on or since’ 1 July and that he had been ‘Killed in Action’.

It was nearly a year later, on 30 April 1917, that his ‘next of kin (father) [was] notified’ formally of his death. An official letter dated 3 September 1917 instructed that any effects and his medals should be sent to ‘Mrs Carry Southern, 77 Windsor Street, Rugby’, and a letter dated 19 November 1921 noted that she was ‘his mother and sole legatee’. For some reason his mother had taken over these formal duties from his father. Albert was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which were sent to his mother.

Albert Southern is remembered on Panel Reference: Bay 7, of the Arras Memorial, which commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and had no known grave. Generally the missing from the Somme were remembered on the Thiepval Monument, but the Northamptons were fighting toward the north of the Somme action, so this may have been an administrative matter.

Albert’s youngest brother Sidney Harold Rainbow Southern, M.M., was with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and later with the Shropshire Light Infantry, attached to the 1st /1st Battalion, Herefordshire Regiment. Sidney was also killed in action, on 4 September 1918.


– – – – – –


This article on Albert Southern 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, May 2015.

[1]       Edited from: http://www.angloboerwar.com/.

[2]       Verne Citadel on the Isle of Portland was started in 1847 as a camp for prisoners building the Portland harbour breakwaters, and was extended during the 1860s, to house 8 RML guns with calibres up to 12″. For further information and photographs visit: http://www.subterraneanhistory.co.uk/2011/02/verne-citadel-portland.html.

[3]       See: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pbtyc/Misc/Verne_Reg.htm.

[4]       See report on ‘Rugby Remembers’ for the Battle of Auber’s Ridge and the Rugby casualties on 9 May 1915.

[5]       It returned to 8th Division on 15 July 1916 after the battle of the Somme.

[6]       Field Punishment was introduced in 1881 following the abolition of flogging, and was common during WWI. It consisted of the convicted man being placed in fetters and handcuffs and attached to a gun wheel or fence post, for up to two hours per day. During the early part of WWI it was often applied with the arms stretched out and the legs tied together, giving rise to the nickname ‘crucifixion’.

[7]       The 1st Battalion of the Essex regiment were also in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.