3rd Nov 1917. Value of the Acorn Crop


The President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries again urges upon stock-keepers the great importance of making full use of the present abundant crop of acorns. Acorns are specially adapted for pig-feeding, and can be used most effectively and economically when pigs are allowed to gather them where they fall. While it will still be necessary to prevent the indiscriminate straying of pigs, the Home Office concurs with the Board in thinking that, if in consequence of this notice the number of pigs found straying on highways by the police should increase, proceedings against their owners should not be instituted except when direct negligence on the part of the owners is shown.


The Potato Order, which prohibits any person, except the grower, to sell potatoes without a license, came into force on Thursday. It is also necessary for retailers to exhibit price lists in their places of business.


The monthly meeting of this committee was held on Monday, Mr W Flint, c.c. presiding. There were also present : Mrs Blagden, Mrs Anderson, Mrs Wilson,. Mr G W Walton, Mr A W Shirley, Mr Pepper, and the Hon Secretary (Mr J Reginald Barker). The latter reported that since the last meeting there had been five additions to the list of prisoners of war, and he regretted say that there were the prospects of further increases in the near future. The acknowledgements from the men had much improved, and letters he had received and reports from Regimental Care Committees showed that practically all the parcels now reached the men. Apart from the newly captured men, all the others were now in regular communication. The only one who had been giving any anxiety of late was Driver F Furniss (A.S.C), of Rugby, of whom nothing had been heard for several months. During the week-end, however, Mr Barker said he had heard from Furniss, who in his letter said that he had received all his parcels from Nos. 1 to 55 inclusive, which were quite satisfactory, and adding that he was in good health. A number of efforts were promised during the winter months, which would assist the funds of the committee. He regretted that it had been found necessary to increase the cost of the standard food parcels from 6s to 8s owing to the rise in the price of commodities and materials and the necessity for making the parcels a little larger. This meant that, instead of £2 3s 6d per month per man, the cost would be £2 15s 6d, or a total charge of £216 9s per month inclusive for the 78 men. Fortunately for the fund 27 of these men were now fully adopted, and with small sums guaranteed on behalf of other men, there remained a balance of about £130 per month still to be found, provided, of course, it was the committee’s wish that they bear the increased cost. The subscriptions continued to come in splendidly, and during the past two months they had received more than sufficient to cover the cost of the parcels, thus being able to add slightly to the bank balance.

Mr Barker said he thought the committee and the subscribers to the fund would feel proud of the fact that they had been able to “ carry on ” without asking for financial assistance from the British Red Cross Society, who, who as they knew, had guaranteed the parcels. The committee would appreciate this more fully when he reminded them that the Chairman of that Society recently stated that they had to find £1,500 per day to make good the lack of funds and support given to other Prisoners of War Committees throughout the country. Mr Barker said he could not too strongly emphasise the fact that every subscription to the Rugby Prisoners of War Fund was virtually a subscription to the British Red Cross Society.

Mr Flint said that, in view of this report, he felt that it would be everybody’s wish that the committee completed the cost of the food parcels and bread, and therefore moved this resolution.—In seconding, Mr G W Walton said that, notwithstanding the many other demands upon the public, the Prisoners of War Fund received the support of everyone. There were many persons contributing every week in a quiet way, and he felt sure they would be able to secure sufficient funds to enable the increased expenditure to be made.—The resolution was unanimously carried.


Mr & Mrs Brett have received official intimation that their son, Pte A J Brett, R.A.M.C, was wounded in October 7th, and is in hospital in France.

Mr W Cowley, of 34 Poplar Grove, has been notified by the War Office that his son, Pte G V Cowley, of the Dorset Regiment, was wounded by shrapnel in the thigh in an advance near Ypres on October 4th. He is an old St Matthew’s boy, He was previously wounded in September 1915.

Pte C E Freeman, Royal Warwicks, was wounded on October 17th, sustaining a severe gun-shot wound in the chest. His home is at 17 Charlotte Street.

In the list of casualties published last week-end appears the name of Lieut W E Littleboy, of the Warwickshire Regiment. He was educated at Rugby School, and was a prominent member of the Football XV of three years ago.

A letter has been received from Second-Lieut Basil Parker, Machine Gun Company, who was recently reported missing, stating that he is a prisoner of war in Germany. He is a son of Mr E Parker, of the Avenue Road, New Bilton, and was formerly a teacher at St Matthew’s School.

Mr and Mrs Whitbread have now received definite news from the War Office that the only son, Second-Lieut Basil Whitbread, was killed in action on the night of the 22nd July, 1916. His body was found outside the lines and was buried at High Wood.

The Rev R F Morson, M.A, elder son of Mr & Mrs Arthur Morson, who has for the past 4½ years been assistant priest at St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, has offered his services as a chaplain to H.M Forces, which have been accepted. He has been ordered to Salonica.

At the Rural District Tribunal on Thursday conscientious objection was pleaded by a Bilton youth, 18, single, who asked to be allowed either to undertake work with (1) the Friends’ War Relief Committee ; (2) Friends’ Ambulance Unit, general service section ; (3) full-time work on the land ; or (4) that the case should be referred to the Pelham Committee. He had previously been temporary exempted in order that he might complete his education. He was given conditional exemption on joining the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, general service section.


News has been received at the B.T.H that Corpl C H Tompkins, of the Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry, who prior to the War was employed by the Company, died on October 23rd from wounds received in action.


ROLL OF HONOUR.—Mr & Mrs Reuben Banbrook, of Brandon, have received the news that their son, Pte Banbrook, of the Royal Warwicks, is in hospital in Mesopotamia suffering from sand fly fever. Out of their five sons who enlisted two others are still suffering from wounds. Pte S Banbrook was for several years in the stables at Brandon Hall.—Pte G. Newman, Royal Warwicks, has been wounded in the right foot. He formerly worked at market gardening for Mr Gupwell.—Mr & Mrs Thomas Halford have been notified of the death of their second son, Pte S G Halford. He has been missing for more than 12 months. Much sympathy is felt for the parents, who some short time back lost another son. Deceased was formerly in the employ of Mr J Rankin, of Brandon Grounds Farm, where his father was employed for many years.


Mr & Mrs J L STEVENS have received news of the death of their elder son, Pte J A Stevens, of the Machine Gun Company. Before entering the Army he was employed at Binley Colliery, and his father was in the employ of the Earl of Craven as a keeper, and resided at Piles Coppice.


REPORTED MISSING.—Miss E Watts has received official notification that her nephew, Private C Eccles, Royal Warwicks, has been reported missing as from October 4th. He was in the great push on the Yser in which Lance-Corpl Houghton, also of Bilton, lost his life.


The King has been pleased to award the Royal Red Cross to Miss Kathleen Bolam, superintendent, Ashlawn and Bilton Hall Red Cross Hospital, for valuable services rendered. We believe this is the first V.A.D member in Warwickshire to receive this honour which Miss Bolam has thoroughly earned and deserves.


BYERS.—In loving memory of Corpl ANGUS BYERS, 1st K.O.S.B, who was killed in action on September 20, 1917, “ somewhere in France.”—Deeply mourned. From all at 82 Rowland Street.

GRENDON.—Killed in action on the Vimy Ridge on April’s 9th, Pte. WM. GRENDON, 2nd Canadian mounted Rifles, aged 31 ; dearly loved only son of J. & A. M. Grendon, late of Grandborough.

MILLS.—In ever-loving memory of JOSEPH MAWBY, eldest son of Mr. & Mrs. T. Mills, Marton ; killed in action on October 23rd ; aged 23.
“ Had we been asked, how will we know
We should say, ‘ Oh, spare this blow,’
Yes, with streaming tears, would say,
‘ Lord, we love him—let him stay,’
He bravely answered duty’s call,
He gave his life for one and all ;
But the unknown gravest is the bitterness blow,
None but his loved ones will ever know.”
—From his sorrowing Father, Mother, Sisters, Brothers, and Percy.


Whitbread, Basil. Died 22nd Jul 1916

Basil Whitbread was the son of Charles Walter (b.c.1860, in Willoughby), and Amy Elizabeth, née Dyson, Whitbread, (b.c.1862, in Rugby) who were latterly of Arnold Cottage, 3, Church Walk, Rugby. Basil’s birth was registered in Q4, 1896.

In 1901 the family was living at 15 Pennington Street, Rugby. Basil’s father was a solicitor’s Clerk. Basil was four and had an older and younger sister. In 1911, Basil was still at school, latterly at Lawrence Sheriff School, and they were now at 16 Pennington Street, although this may have been the same house re-numbered.

Prior to the war he was employed at British Thompson Houston (BTH),[1] and there were several mentions in the local paper after he had enlisted.

BTH – FROM THE WORKS. This is an additional list of men who have left to join the Colours from August 27th up to and including September 2nd:- … Whitbread,[2]

 Amongst those connected with the Rugby Congregational Church who have enlisted are: … Basil Whitbread,[3] 

He is reported to have enlisted ‘… in September 1914, in the Hussars, and was afterwards transferred to the East Surrey Regiment. He was given a commission last autumn’.[4] The commission was reported in the Local War Notes in the Rugby Advertiser.

LOCAL WAR NOTES. Mr B Whitbread, only son of Mr Charles Whitbread, and Mr Eddy Wilson, youngest son of Mrs E Wilson, have been gazetted to commissions in the 12th   Reserve R.W.R.[5]

As a 2nd Lieutenant he was later posted away from the Reserve Battalion to the 14th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

14th (Service) Battalion (1st Birmingham) was formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee.   On 26 June 1915 it came under command of 95th Brigade, 32nd Division. It landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915. On 28 December 1915, it transferred to 13th Brigade, 5th Division.[6]

The date when Basil transferred to the 14th Battalion is unknown at present, however, his Medal Card notes that he moved to France to join them on 4 March 1916.

The 95th Brigade in the 32nd Division included the 14th, 15th, and 16th Warwicks and the 12th Gloucesters. In 1916 it was involved in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, and the 14th Warwicks were involved in parts of the battle for the nearby Delville Wood, and then High Wood, in the period 15 July-3 September, all being phases of the Battle of the Somme.

Basil is reported to have been killed in ne of the attacks on High Wood.   Initial attacks took place on 14 and 15 July without success. A further attack took place on 20 July, which although it gained part of the wood, was not reinforced and the Germans reoccupied the wood. On 22 and 23 July …

After the 20 July attacks limped to their conclusions, the Germans reoccupied most of High Wood, until only the southern corner remained in British hands. They also dug a new defensive position, … This meant that taking the wood, already almost within British hands twice only to slip away, became an even tougher proposition.

Efforts however continued, and on the night of 22/23 July, the 4th Gordon Highlanders attacked the eastern corner of the wood, whilst the 1st Royal West Kents attacked the south-eastern part of the wood and Wood Lane, there with the 14th Royal Warwickshires at their side.

There had been a preliminary bombardment, but this had not inflicted sufficient loss on the defenders, and they were able to hold High Wood. No significant gains were made, although the Royal West Kents suffered 420 casualties. The other battalions also suffered losses.[7]

It would have been during these attacks on High Wood that Basil Whitbread was killed in action, aged 19, indeed nearly 20, on 22 July 1916. A letter from Lieut-Col Murray, O.C. the Battalion, stated:

It is with the greatest regret that I have to report that your son was ‘missing and believed killed’ on the nights of 22nd and 23rd July. He was at the head of his men, leading them straight and very gallantly during a night attack on the German trenches. He was last seen to fall hit in front of the German lines, and it appeared as though he was dead. … There is just the possibility that he was wounded, and afterwards taken prisoner. Your boy had during his four months’ service with the Battalion shown the greatest keenness and ability, and his loss is felt not only by the Company, but by all ranks in the Battalion. Capt Richmond wrote: ‘On the night of the 22nd July we went forward to attack the enemy’s lines, and we met with heavy shelling and machine gun fire, and suffered many casualties. Your son, with a few men of his platoon, had advanced close up to the enemy’s trenches, when a shell burst amongst them,, and he was seen to fall. Only one man of that party got back again, wounded, and I fear that the remainder were killed. Whitbread was always so cheerful and bright on all occasions, and he had become most popular with the officers and men.’[8]

Basil Whitbread was possibly originally buried very near to where he fell and his grave was marked with a [temporary wooden] cross. The similarity of the map references suggest that this location was later developed to form the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, and his body was exhumed during the post war ‘concentration’ process, and he was reburied in plot: IV. G. 9. in the reorganised Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. In due course some 5,500 officers and men were brought in from other small cemeteries, and other battlefields of the Somme.[9]

He is also remembered on the Old Laurentians memorial plaque.

Basil Whitbread was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His outstanding pay from the army amounting to £43-2-6d was paid on 3 August 1917.



– – – – – –


This article on Basil Whitbread 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, July 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 15 August 1916

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 September 1914.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 19 September 1914.

[4]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 15 August 1916

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, 23 October 1915.

[6]         http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/

[7]       Eddited from: http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/somme/high_wood.html

[8]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 15 August 1916

[9]       Information from: http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/