9th Jun 1917. Local War Notes

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Second-Lieut L G Colbeck, R.F.A, the Medborough[?], Cambridge University, and Middlesex cricketer, has been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of his battery. Second-Lieut Colbeck was a master at Rugby School for several years, and his mother still resides in Rugby.

Mrs Cleaver, Drill Hall Cottage, Rugby, has received a letter from a friend of Sergt-Major T Cleaver, giving details of how her husband met his death. Three Officers and the Sergeant-Major were talking together while they were waiting to be relieved. A shell burst near them, the three officers being killed, and Sergt-Major Cleaver severely wounded in the back and legs. He succumbed to his injuries the following day.

The “ Leamington Courier ” is given to understand that the Military Authority propose to transfer the Leamington recruiting staff to Rugby. The ostensible reason is a desire to economise, but is very doubtful (our contemporary remarks) whether that object will be achieved, for many questions arise in regard to recruiting which necessitate consultation with the Recruiting Officer himself, and a railway journey to Rugby is not now the simple matter that it used to be. It is much to be hoped that the Military Authorities will see the wisdom of altering the decision in the matter.

Mrs Welch, 35 Union Street, Rugby, has received information from the War Office that her husband, Lance-Corpl Ernest Welch, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was killed in action on April 29th. A later message reports him as missing since April 28th, so naturally his friends are anxious as to his fate.

Mrs Ogburn, 40 Chapel Street, has now received official information that her husband, Pte H Ogburn, was killed on July 30, 1916, when reported missing.

MAJOR HARMAN, D.S.O.

The recent list of recipients of the D.S.O contained the name of Major H A A F Harman, South Staffs Regiment, who is well known to many of our readers as a member of the Murray School teaching staff. At the outbreak of the War Major Harman held the position head of the head of the Training Institution at Acera Gold Coast, and he served under General Smuts in his African campaign, and was wounded.

PTE A J PERRY.

Pte A J Perry, of the Royal Marines, who was killed in action about three weeks ago, was for some time employed in the Stationmaster’s office at Rugby L & N-W Railway Station. He was only 20 years of age, and joined the Army a week before Christmas. His home is at Kilsby.

SECOND-LIEUT N R DE POMEROY.

Definite news has now been received that Second-Lieut Norman R De Pomeroy, of the Royal Flying Corps, who has been missing since October 20, 1916, was killed in action on that date. Prior to the War Second-Lieut De Pomeroy was a member of the B.T.H Test Department.

A marriage is arranged between Capt Charles Moore, Irish Guards, son of the late Mr Arthur Moore, of Mooresfort, co. Tipperary, and Lady Dorothie Feilding, second daughter of the Earl and Countess of Denbigh. Lady Dorothie returned on Thursday for a short time to the Munro Ambulance Corps in Belgium, where she has been since September, 1914, and the wedding will take place very quietly at an early date at Newnham Paddox.

DEATHS.

INWOOD.—On Whit-Sunday, May 27th, 1917, from wounds received in action, CORPL STANLEY, the only dearly-beloved child of Mrs. Inwood, Lodge Road, Rugby, aged 20.
“ Lost awhile, our treasured love,
Gained for ever safe above.”

PERRY.—Died of wounds in France on May 22nd, Pte, ALFRED J. PERRY, dearly beloved son of Mrs. A Perry, of Kilsby, aged 20 years-“ Greater love hath no man than this.”

Welch, Ernest Edward. Died 28th Apr 1917

Ernest Edward Welch’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1880 in Rugby to Edward Welch (b.1852 in London) and Harriett Welch (née Lack b.1855 in Rugby). Ernest Edward’s parents had married in Rugby in 1878. Ernest’s father, Edward, was a traffic guard with the LNWR railway in 1891 when the family were living at 48 Union Street, Rugby. They were at the same address in 1901 and his father was still with the LNWR.  There were now five children Edith, Ernest, Florence, Ethel and Alice.

By 1901, Ernest Edward Welch was a bricklayer and his marriage with Bertha Elizabeth Lenton was registered in Rugby the next year, in the third quarter of 1902. In 1903 Ernest and Bertha had a daughter, Effie. Before 1911 they had moved to 54 Union Street, and later – and after the war – his widow and daughter were at 35 Union Street.

Ernest joined up as No.26321 in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox. & Bucks.]. His record in the ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ states that he enlisted at Rugby, and the ‘Medal Roll’ indicates that he was at first in the 6th Battalion,

6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Oxford in September 1914 as part of K2 and placed under orders of 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on 22 July 1915.

Whether Ernest was with them at that date is unknown but he may have still been in training. His Medal Card does not record the date he went to France, and there are no surviving Service Records, however, the absence of an award of a 1914 or 1914-1915 Star suggests it was some time in 1916 or later. At some date he was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion and possibly this was when he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 2nd Battalion had returned home from India in 1903 and was initially based in Chatham and in 1907 moved to Tidworth, Wiltshire. When World War I started the Battalion was stationed at Albuhera barracks, Aldershot, and was part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division.   On 14 August 1914 the Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1914: the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat; the Battle of the Marne; the Battle of the Aisne; and the First Battle of Ypres. Then in 1915: the Winter Operations 1914-15; the Battle of Festubert; and the Battle of Loos.

It seems likely that Ernest would have been involved in some of the actions in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of the Ancre; and other operations on the Ancre. A fuller summary of the campaigns can be found on Wikipedia,[1] which also summarises the actions in early 1917 …

‘The New Year of 1917 brought with it a period of severe weather conditions on the Somme plain which led to an unofficial truce between the two sides. In March 1917, the Germans began the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March – 5 April) and at the end of March the 2nd Ox and Bucks moved from the Somme to the back areas of Arras. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and other battalions of the regiment saw much involvement in the Arras Offensive (9 April – 16 May), including at the Battles of Scarpe and Arleux. The 2nd Ox and Bucks took part in the battle of Arras from 11 April and had a leading role in the battle of Arleux on 28-29 April: during the battle the battalion protected the right flank of the Canadian 1st Division which was critical to the capture of the village of Arleux and sustained more than 200 casualties.’

It seems likely that Ernest was one of those 200 casualties on 28 April 1917, during the attack on the Arleux-Oppy Line. Further details are provided in the Commanding Officer (Lieut.-Colonel Crosse’s) Diary.[2]

April 28th.- 4.25 a.m. was fixed for “zero hour,” when the Regiment attacked in four Waves, … The whole attack was more successful on the left than on the right, the Canadian Corps taking and holding, apparently without difficulty, all their objectives. …

The feature of the operations … was the initiative, resource, and good leading of the Company and Platoon Commanders, …   All their subordinate commanders seemed to realize the necessity for at once collecting together adjacent men – no matter to whom they belonged – and retelling-off and reorganizing them for immediate further action.

The casualties included … about 200 other ranks, of whom 130 were wounded, and the remainder either killed or missing.

The Regiment, in touch on either flank with the adjacent troops, continued to hold its front, approximately on the line of the “Blue Line” (2nd Objective), where extremely good work was done by the Lewis-gunners.

The trenches were very much shelled and badly provided with dugouts; a number of men were buried, and a certain number of casualties occurred, the exact figures it has not yet been possible to arrive at as regards separating them from those which occurred in the actual attack.

At some point during this action, on 28 April 1917, Ernest Welch was killed, either in the action or the subsequent shelling described above. Ernest’s body was not recovered or identified and he is now remembered on Panel: G. 11. of the Arras Memorial, located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, to the west of Arras, near the Citadel.

The Arras Memorial 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 have no known grave. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Ernest was awarded the Victory and British medals, and after his death, Ernest’s effects and money owing were paid to his widow, Bertha. She received £2-18-3d on 8 September 1917 and then a gratuity of £3 on 1 November 1919.

As well as the Arras Memorial, Ernest is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on a family headstone in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Ernest Edward Welch was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, December 2016.

 

[1]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry

[2]       Diary, 2nd Bn. Ox. and Bucks. L. I., http://www.lightbobs.com/1917-arras-april-june.html.

12th Feb 1916. Another Interesting Letter from the Front

ANOTHER INTERESTING LETTER FROM THE FRONT.

The Rev CT Bernard McNulty, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Leamington, contributes to his Parish Magazine for this month another interesting letter written from the Headquarters, Divisional Artillery, British Expeditionary Force, where he is attached as a chaplain.

“ I write again,” he says, “ from this little village in France, a village in which every little farmhouse, and every tumble-down barn, is crowded with British soldiers—troops to whom the inhabitants as a rule show much kindness and consideration, and yet think what such a state of affairs means to the people here ! The best rooms in their houses are given us, the very straw is turned out of their barns in order to make room for our men ; consider how very small is the payment which the French people receive from their Government for all this, when compared to the prices paid in England for the billeting of troops. In England the house-holder receives 3s a night for every officer who sleeps in his house, and in many cases there are several officers in the one house, and for every private soldier payment of 6d a night is made ; but here in this country the rate of payment is one franc (8d) a night per officer, and 1/2 d a night for each soldier ! When troops are stationed in any district in England, it means an enormously increased prosperity in that particular locality, or town, but here the inhabitants gain very little pecuniary benefit by our presence, for with the exception of eggs and vegetables bought from the small farms, any extras which the soldiers purchase are bought at our army canteens, a number of which are provided in every division. Yet the people, with but few exceptions, are as a rule kind and obliging, at any rate, such has been my experience, and why ? Because they fully realise that we are here to protect and safeguard their homes from a foe who is close to their very doors, and they know full well that the safety and welfare of their country is at stake, and on every French person’s lips to-day there is but one motto. It is this: ‘ Honneur et Patrie.’

“ A few days ago I passed through several French villages, and in each village, here and there, I noticed houses brightly decorated with evergreens and holly, whilst over the door in large letters the motto was printed. I asked the reason for this, and I was told that the recruits of the 1916 class were being called out, and soon I saw companies of lads marching away from their villages, as years ago their fathers marched, for there are practically no men to-day in France who do not know what it is to fight in the wars. How it thrilled my heart to see these lads ! Strong, healthy-looking youths, tramping along with their rifles on their shoulders, with heads held high, and a smile on their lips, leaving their homes, yet bravely hiding the aching hearts proud that at last the looked-for day had come for them, when they could don the uniform of their army. ‘ Honneur et Patrie.’ Such were the words over each home from which a son had gone forth, and the parents’ hands had put up those evergreens, had written the glorious motto. They, too, had hidden the aching heart. Is it not a matter of rejoicing, say they, for has not our boy gone forth to the war ? And in the silence of the night, as they whisper his name in their prayers, it will be as if they heard the voice of God answering ‘ Honneur et Patrie ‘ !

“ Ah, yes, this is the dominating thought throughout the length and breadth of France, the one thought influencing the actions of all its people. It is honour and country which makes one man eager to go forth to the battery or the trench. It is the self-same motto which makes his brother work earnestly and cheerfully in factory or workshops. In the workshops the same golden motive is inspiring labour. They know that they toil for something higher and nobler than wages. The other day I was speaking to a French interpreter, a member of one of France’s noblest families, like many another French nobleman serving to-day as a private in the army of France. He told me that his brother had large munition works near Paris, and that the workmen had petitioned that they might be allowed to work on Sundays. They stated, as their reason, that they felt they could not rest that day, whilst their brothers were fighting in the trenches ! Dare I say that the sanctity of the Sabbath is violated by labour undertaken from such a motive ?

“ Soon there is to be in Great Britain a very modified form of compulsory service. Whatever may have been our opinions on that subject in the past, to-day such a course is right because it is necessary. It is necessary for honour and country. Let that sublime thought silence the voice of opposition, and let those who are called upon to send forth their sons, remember the decorated homes of France !

“ ‘ Honneur et Patrie.’ May that, indeed, be the proud motto for all in our country during this year of 1916. I can wish no grander thing. May it be the sole motive underlying the sayings and actions of every politician who sits within the walls at Westminster. May that same motive lighten the labours of thorn who toil in our workshops, making both employers and men earnest and faithful. May it make the women of our country eager and proud to send forth their manhood, and may that same thought make our soldiers brave in the face of danger. May it also bring consolation to those who mourn ! ”

LETTERS FROM OLD MURRAYIAN8.

Mr W T Coles Hodges, headmaster of the Murray School, has received several letters from Old Boys with the Colours.

Ptes C E Williams and E A Welch, C Section, Machine Gun Company, 143rd Infantry Brigade, write:—

“ We chaps of the Machine Gun are now no longer attached to our old Battalion, for we have been formed into a Machine Gun Company; find so we are away from the rest of they old “ E ” Company. However, we are still able to see them occasionally, and we are pleased to say that they all seem to keep in fairly good health. Would you kindly thank the Rugby Territorial Comforts Committee from the Rugby boys of the Machine Gun Company for all the gifts they so kindly sent us, which were handed on to us by Q.M.Sergt Tomlinson. They were much appreciated by all. At present, there are only two Old Murrayians in our section. The trenches are a little better now than they have been for a month or two. We still have our share of mud, but it is drying up a treat.

“ Fritz is as amiable as ever, only just lately he has begun to talk too much with his artillery. He always get paid back with interest, though, by our artillery, which includes the Rugby Howitzer Battery. We are out of the trenches now, but go in again shortly. While out, we have to man a gun for anti-aircraft purposes, and we are anxiously waiting for a Taube to come over, so that we can warm our gun up a little.”

W Holmes, a sailor boy on one of H.M. warships, has also written to Mr Hodges, stating that he is having a good time and is now at sea.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

In response to the appeal of the Rugby Womens’ Volunteer Reserve for fresh fruit and vegetables for the sailors—who have to depend upon gifts from friends for such luxuries—a gift ? held at the Murray School on Friday in last week, when neatly 7cwt. of produce, consisting of artichokes, parsnips, oranges, apples, beet, cabbage, onions, carrots, turnips, etc, were received. The gifts were afterwards packed up under the supervision of Captain , Moss and Quartermaster Dickinson, of the W.V.R.

NEW BILTON SOLDIER WOUNDED.

Mr C Pegg, of 1 Addison Road, New Bilton, received an official intimation that his son, Pte George Pegg, of the Leicestershire Regiment, was wounded on January 6th. Particulars of nature of the wounds have not yet come to hand.

 

PTE FREDK BAXTER DIES OF WOUNDS.

Pte Fredk Baxter, youngest son of Mrs Baxter, New Street, New Bilton, who, as we recently reported, was seriously wounded in the knee in France on January 7th, died as the result of his injuries in Colchester Hospital on Saturday. Pte Baxter, who belonged to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was out with a scouting party when a bullet passed through his knee, killing the officer in charge who was behind him. Pte Baxter was brought to England about three weeks ago, and it was ascertained that his injury was so serious that it was found necessary to amputate the limb. At first he made good progress, and it was hoped that he would ultimately recover, but towards the end of last week he became worse, and his mother was summoned on Saturday, but he died before she reached the hospital. He was 26 years of age, and joined the army after the outbreak of war. The body was brought to Rugby, and the funeral took place in the Cemetery yesterday (Friday) afternoon.

[Private Baxter is remembered on the Croop Hill War Memorial]

SCHOOLBOYS WITH ARMLETS.

We understand that every master of military age at Rugby School has attested or been rejected, and a number of the senior boys of the school may be seen wearing armlets, showing they, too, have done their duty in this connection.

RECRUITING AT RUGBY.

There have been very few enlistments under the Group System during the past week, but the majority of those who have presented themselves were single men. We would remind single men who have not yet attested that the Group System so far as they are concerned comes to an end this month, after which time they will be automatically absorbed into the Army.

POST OFFICE NOTICE.

REDUCTION OF DELIVERIES IN RUGBY.

On and from Monday, the 21st inst, there will only be two deliveries on weekdays in Rugby, at 7 a.m and 12.30 p.m. Sunday deliveries will remain for the present.

In the rural districts the deliveries are being limited to one daily, and these changes are being carried out as circumstances permit.

PROTECTIVE MEASURES AGAINST ZEPPELINS.

CONFERENCE IN BIRMINGHAM.

A DEMAND FOR EARLY WARNING.

The conference of representatives of Midland authorities, convened by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (Alderman Neville Chamberlain), to consider the question of the better protection of the Midlands in the event of further aircraft raids, was-held on Wednesday afternoon at the Council House Birmingham. The Lord Mayor presided, and there was a large and representative attendance of nearly 100 public gentlemen from all parts of the counties of Warwick, Worcester, and Stafford.

A resolution was passed calling on the military authorities to organise a system for giving an early warning of the approach of hostile aircraft and information as to subsequent movements inland. A committee was appointed to lay before the authorities the methods which the meeting considered would best the situation.

The meeting then proceeded to discuss the various methods to be adopted in giving warning to the public, and while so engaged a telegram was received by the Lord Mayor from the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, stating that “ the matter of organisation for conveying to police, factories, etc, information of movements of hostile aircraft being actively pressed forward by Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief Home Forces in co-operation with Post Office.”

TEST MOBILISATION OF BOY SCOUTS.

On Wednesday, February 2nd, a surprise mobilisation, was held of the town, troops of the Boy Scouts, the idea being to ascertain how soon the boys could turn out in the event of their being required in case of an air raid, to assist the public organisations such as the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Red Cross Nurses, Fire Brigades, etc.

Although the Scouts were quite unaware when the mobilisation would take place, 50 responded to the call, and assembled on the B.T.H. Athlete Field. A number of the boys, of course, were prevented by overtime, and by evening classes, from taking part. After the mobilisation had taken place, the boys were practised in outpost and sentry duty under the following scheme :— Important military stores were supposed to be located in the field, the Scouts being deputed to defend same from hostile attack while some kind friends had previously undertaken to set as “ enemies ” and. endeavour to obtain access to these stores. Some of these spies were duly caught by the Scouts…

DEARTH OF PETROL

The supply of petrol available for the use of owners of private motor cars will in future be considerably restricted.

Nearly a month ago restrictions upon the supplies of petrol were foreshadowed by the British Petroleum. Company in a circular which they sent out. Now, by some companies at any rate a limit has been placed upon the number of gallons to be supplied to various districts. Hitherto the public have paid little attention to the warnings they have received that, in the national interests, private users should exercise the utmost economy. The restrictions upon the supply which have now been put into force do not affect the owners of vehicles used for commercial purposes.

THE MILK SUPPLY.

COTTAGERS & GOAT-KEEPING.

A very interesting circular has been issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, pointing out how in certain districts goat-keeping might be extended with advantage. It is well known (says the “ Lancet”) that many cottagers and others living outside the area of retail delivery find it difficult to obtain milk for their families. The large dairy farms are, as a rule, under contract to supply milk to distributing agencies in towns, or else they, turn their milk into cheese and butter. As the Board rightly says, all the objections which apply to the keeping of a cow by a cottager would be met in the case of a goat. The first; expenditure for its purchase is within his means, the housing accommodation is reduced to a minimum, the food costs little, and there is no great expense to be borne for the maintenance of the animal.

Even in the event of a cow’s milk supply being available, goats may profitably be kept to supply milk for domestic use. It is, as a rule, a most wholesome milk, and its flavour, if the food of the animal is regulated, is not any real drawback to its employment. Moreover, goat’s milk is easily digested by children, and especially infants, and, as is well known, it is fair lets likely than cow’s milk to contain tubercle bacilli of animal origin. The average goat will give at its flush three pints of milk a day, and, on the whole, calculations based on extreme cost of keep, outlay, and so forth, show that while a good supply of milk could be maintained, a very fair profit could be made. The suggestion is a valuable one, and the information contained in this circular as to how to start goat-keeping, as to the choice of breeds, as to breeding itself, housing, feeding, tethering, milking, and the care of the milk, and so forth, should be spread up and down the land.

The composition of cow’s milk and goat’s milk is much the same, although goat’s milk is superior as regards fat, which is an advantage. Human milk differs chiefly from goat’s and cow’s milk in that it contains a much smaller proportion of mineral salts and casein.

 

TO RELATIVES OF WOUNDED SOLDIERS.

AN OFFER FROM CHICHESTER.

Mr Robert Bottrill, of Rugby House. Chichester, wishes to be informed when Rugby soldiers are patients in the Graylingwell War Hospital. If relatives will communicate with him, he says he. will be very pleased to visit such soldiers and to take them motor rides ; also, if any friends of the wounded would like to visit them at Chichester, Mr Bottrill offers to provide them with a bed, etc. He adds : “ I believe we have had several Rugby boys here, and I have missed them.”

Mr. Bottrill is a native of Rugby, which explains his desire to show kindness to wounded soldiers from homes in the town who may be staying in the Graylingwell Hospital.