Bosworth, Frederick Albert. Died 30th Jun 1919

Frederick Albert BOSWORTH deserves our admiration as one of the longest serving and most decorated soldiers commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  He was already a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ before the war; and went to war with them and won the Military Medal and Bar, the French Medaille Militaire, and was Mentioned in Dispatches; he was wounded and gassed, and then volunteered for further service in Russia where he was killed in action in June 1919.  He became Rugby’s last ‘official’ Casualty on the War Memorial Gates.

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Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was born in about mid-1895 in Bitteswell.  He was the son of Frederick Bosworth [b.c.1866 in Lutterworth] and Mary Anne ‘Annie’, née Wright, Bosworth [b.c.1863 in Bitteswell], whose marriage was registered in Q4, 1894 in Leicester.  It was her second marriage.

In 1901, Frederick’s father, Frederick senior, was a ‘house painter.  The family were all living at Bitteswell.  As well as his and Annie’s three young children, there were the three older Wright step-sons aged 14, 11 and 9 from Annie’s previous marriage.

Before 1911, the family had moved to Rugby and Frederick Albert had attended the Murray School.  In 1911 they were living in a seven room house at 86 Bath Street, Rugby.  Frederick snr. was a ‘house painter’ for the builders – Messrs Linnell & Son.[1]  He had been married 17 years and they had four children.  Frederick Albert was now an ‘apprentice turner’ for a ‘mechanical engineers’, Willans and Robinson.  The other three younger children would have been at school.  Two of his wife’s Wright boys were also at home and working as a ‘fitter’ and an ‘apprentice fitter’ respectively also at a ‘mechanical engineers’ – probably also at Willans and Robinson.

Before the War, Frederick had been a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ – this was more properly named the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery, 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade.  From 1908 the Rugby Battery had been in temporary headquarters at the Willans and Robinson’s Engineering Works in Newbold Road, Rugby, so perhaps Frederick had seen them when he was an apprentice, and it may not be a surprise that he joined them.  In 1910, they moved to a new headquarters at 72 Victoria Avenue, Rugby, known locally as the Rowland Street Drill Hall.[2]

Whilst no Service Record survived, some details of Frederick’s service can be gleaned from his Medal Card and his CWGC entry.  Frederick was a gunner with the early number ‘233’, in the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery.  His name and number are confirmed in the listings in the papers and diaries of its commanding officer, Col. Frank West.[3]

The Battery was the first territorial artillery unit to go to France, and they went from Southampton to Le Havre, France, on 30 March 1915.  The locations where the Battery served can be found on-line, in extracts from the Brigade Diaries.[4]  They served together until the artillery reorganisation in May 1916.

In May 1916 Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered.  The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade.  But its men were scattered.  The Howitzer Brigades in the British Field Artillery were split up, and their guns, officers, men and support staff redistributed to Brigades previously armed with 18 pounder guns.  … The 5th Howitzer Battery from the 4th South Midland Brigade was allocated to 241 Brigade (previously 2nd South Midland, Worcester) …[5]

During the re-organisation, Frederick was one of the men on the 5th Battery transfer list.  This listed the men of 243rd Brigade who were transferred to form the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of the 241st Brigade in May 1916.  The list included ‘No.233 Gnr. Bosworth, F.A.’[6]

During 1916, in a letter published, no doubt coincidentally, in the Rugby Advertiser on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Frederick described some of his duties, and that he had been ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’.

Gunner F Bosworth, D Battery, 241st (S.M Brigade) R.F.A, an Old Murrayian, was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s last despatch.  In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, he says:- “I am a telephonist in our Battery, and in this work we have many opportunities of taking part in some of the exciting incidents of this War, and it is in these little stunts that they have evidently thought me worth mentioning.”[7]

From the date of the article, his gallant actions must have been undertaken before 1 July 1916, although a later article mentioned the date as 21 July!  However, before August 1916, Frederick had been awarded a Military Medal for his actions, as reported in a long article in the Rugby Advertiser.  It was reported that he went ‘… out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery’.  A later report stated that he had been ‘Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.’ 

MILITARY MEDAL FOR A RUGBY HOWITZER MAN.
Battery Sergt-Major George Hopewell, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing to Mr A Adnitt, as Hon. Secretary of the Rugby Territorials Comforts Association to thank him for parcels of comforts received, adds:-
“ You will be pleased to know that one of our boys, Gunner Bosworth, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field on July 21st, going out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery. He was also mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch for distinguished conduct in the field.
“ We have been in the thick of the fighting since July 1st, but have been very fortunate as regards casualties, as we have had only five wounded – Corpl Hipwell, Bombardiers Smith and Rixom, and Gunners Seaton and Packwood.
“ I dare say you read in the papers about our Division, together with the Anzacs, taking one of the most important points along the front on July 23rd. They were congratulated by the Commander-in-Chief and the Corps Commander on their performance.”
Gunner Bosworth is the son of Mr G Bosworth, who formerly worked as a painter for Messrs Linnell & Son, but has now removed to Essex.  His grandfather resides at Lutterworth.
In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Gunner Bosworth, an Old Murrayian, says:- “On the morning of the ‘big push’ I was on duty at our observation station, and had occasion to go out on the line and repair breakages caused by the shelling.  The O.C. was good enough to bring the incident to the notice of the General, and I have since heard the good news of being granted the above medal.”

HIGH PRAISE FOR THE HOWITZER BRIGADE.
The following letter from the Brigadier Commanding the Artillery Division to the O.C’s of the Batteries and Ammunition Columns, will be of much local interest :—
“ Will you please convey to all ranks my appreciation of the excellent work performed by the batteries and D.A.C during the last five weeks.  The preparation of gun positions for the July offensive entailed continuous and very hard work on the batteries, but this labour was well repaid in the fewness of the casualties suffered at the guns.  The Division subsequently taking over reported that they were the best positions they had yet seen.
“ The continual night firing has been particularly trying, but the shooting was consistently good, which reflects great credit on all ranks, and the successes gained by the Infantry were, in the words of the Divisional Commander, largely due to the effective support rendered by the Artillery.  I hope during this week all ranks will be able to get the rest which they all deserve.[8]

Frederick’s Military Medal was ‘gazetted’ in August 1916,
War Office, 23rd August, 1916. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: – 233 Gunner F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.[9]

In the reorganisation of the artillery, Frederick received a new number 840058, and at some date, probably after his actions in 1916, been promoted to Bombardier.  On 16 April 1917, Frederick had been in action which resulted in him being awarded a Bar to his Military Medal, and he had written of his experiences to his old schoolmaster.  It was later reported that he had been ‘Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire’.

HOWITZER BATTERY MAN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, the R.F.A, has written to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, informing him that he has been awarded a bar to his Military Medal for bravery on the night of April 16th.  Another bombardier was awarded the Military Medal for the same deed.  He adds that, having been mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Medal and a bar to same, he so far carries the honours of the Battery.[10]

The second award was gazetted in July 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Military Medal to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: –
840058 Bombr. F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.  … (M.M.s gazetted 23rd August, 1916.)[11]

The same action also led to the award of the equivalent French decoration, the Medaille Militaire, which was reported in the Rugby Advertiser in June 1917, and was formally ‘gazetted’ in July 1917.

BOMBARDIER BOSWORTH AGAIN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, has been awarded the Medaille Militaire for the same action that gained for him the bar to his Military Medal.[12]

Medaille Militaire … 840058 Bombardier Frederick Bosworth, Royal Field Artillery.[13]

In August 1917 Frederick was severely wounded, and probably gassed, and it seems he was evacuated back to England for hospital treatment.  It seems that on 25 November 1917, the opportunity was taken to present him with his medals at Chatham.  The Rugby Advertiser reported in detail.

PRESENTATION TO A HOWITZER MAN.
On the occasion of the presentation of medals at Chatham on the 25th inst, Bombardier F A Bosworth R.F.A, was the recipient of medals.  The presentation was made by Colonel H R Adair, Commander Royal Artillery, Thames and Medway Garrison, who said: “The Royal Artillery has no colours.  Our colours are the proud traditions of our Regiment, to which we cling, and around which we rally, just as other Corps have rallied round their Banners.  It is men like Bombardier Bosworth who not only preserve these traditions, but, who, by their deeds, actually add to and ennoble them.  I am proud to stand here to-day representing His Majesty the King, who, you will remember is our Colonel-in-Chief, to present to Bombardier Bosworth, on his behalf, two medals, which he has gained by his own brave hands.  They are the Military Medal of England and the Military Medal of France.”
“ The records of the deeds for which he has won these read as follows:- Military Medal of England: “Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.”  Bar to Military Medal of England and Military Medal of France: “Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire.”
“ These medals are a proud possession for himself and splendid heirlooms for his kindred to possess.  On behalf of our Country, our allies in France, our Regiment and its Colonel-In-Chief our King.  I shake hands with Bombardier Bosworth and wish him health and happiness and long life to wear his noble distinctions.”[14]

There do not appear to be any further details of his actions in the war, however, after the Armistice, hostilities continued in Russia until 1920, where there was still fighting in support of the ‘White Russians’ against the ‘Bolsheviks’. It seems that although he was still weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, it seems that Frederick ‘… was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.’  He joined the 420th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, which served in Russia with the North Russian Expeditionary Force from September 1918 to July 1919.[15]

Frederick Bosworth was ‘killed in action’ on 30 June 1919.  He was buried in a local churchyard at Lumbushi Chyd, Russia.  His grave was marked by a wooden cross with his particulars, and also ‘RIP’ and ‘Killed in Action’.  ‘The grave was enclosed by a wooden fence about one foot high.’

It was intended that these isolated graves should be ‘concentrated’ and it was intended that his body would be exhumed and moved to the Murmansk New British Cemetery, where the graves could be more properly attended.  This was not permitted by the Russians.

His gravestone had already been prepared, and included the family inscription, ‘He Loved Honour More Than He Feared Death’.  It was placed instead as ‘Special Memorial ref: B. 4.’ on the wall of the Murmansk Cemetery.

Murmansk New British Cemetery was made in 1930.  The 40 burials were moved in from the Old British Cemetery that had been used by No 86 General Hospital in 1918-1919.  The special memorials commemorate officers and men known to have been buried in cemeteries elsewhere in the Murman area.  The cemetery now contains 83 burials and commemorations of the First World War.

In August 1919, the Rugby Advertiser wrote,
POPULAR RUGBY N.C.O.’s DEATH.
CORPORAL BOSWORTH KILLED IN RUSSIA.

Further details are to hand in regard to Corpl. Frederick Albert Bosworth, who, as announced in our last issue, was recently killed in action while serving with the R.F.A. with the North Russian Expeditionary Force.  Cpl. Bosworth was member the Rugby Howitzer Battery the time the war broke out, his home address being 86 Bath Street.  He remained with the local battery during its service in France until he was severely wounded in August, 1917.  For his services over there he was awarded the Military Medal, and later a bar, and the Medaille Militaire.  Although weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, Cpl. Bosworth was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.  It was quite evident from letters received from his officers that Cpl. Bosworth did justice to his own reputation and to the good name of the battery.  The deceased corporal was at one time employed as an apprentice at Messrs. Willans and Robinson’s works, and was familiarly known to his many friends as ‘Sammy’.[16]

As well as his awards for gallantry, the Military Medal and Bar and the French, Medaille Militaire, Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

His father and mother moved to ‘Essex’ before 1916, and after the war their contact address for the CWGC was ‘Medveza-Gora’, Hemitage Road, Higham, Rochester.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick Albert BOSWORTH 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, October 2018.

[1]      The manager of the business, the son of its owner, William Henry LINNELL, died of wounds received in the German ‘Operation Mchael’ Offensive in 1918.  He died in hospital in Rouen on 8 April 1918 – see ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 8 April 2018, at https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/linnell-william-henry-died-8th-apr-1918/.

[2]      See https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1, for the details of the Battery’s locations and postings.

[3]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[4]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1.

[5]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home.

[6]      The list is in an Appendix to TNA ref: WO 95/2749, War Diary, 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, May 1916.

[7]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/1st-jul-1916-charge-against-an-enemy-alien-dismissed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 July 1916.

[8]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/12th-aug-1916-down-with-diphtheria-but-not-depressed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 12 August 1916.

[9]      The London Gazette, Supplement:29719, Page:8360, 22 August 1916, also, The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue:12976, Page:1490, 24 August 1916.

[10]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/2nd-jun-1917-cooking-demonstration-at-rugby/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 6 June 1917.

[11]     The London Gazette, Supplement 30172, Page 6824, 6 July 1917.

[12]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/16th-jun-1917-doctors-and-the-war-appeal-to-the-public/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 16 June 1917.

[13]     The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13114, Page 1369, 17 July 1917.

[14]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/1st-dec-1917-presentation-to-a-howitzer-man/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 December 1917.

[15]     TNA ref: WO 95/5426, 420 Battery Royal Field Artillery, Russia, September 1918 – July 1919.

[16]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 8 August 1919.

 

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3rd Jan 1919. New Bilton Man Killed by Aeroplane

NEW BILTON MAN KILLED BY AEROPLANE.
A CHRISTMAS TRAGEDY.

On Christmas Eve Pte Richard Thomas Wilson, Royal Air Force, son of Mrs Wilson, 1 New Street, New Bilton, was accidentally killed at Ramsey Upward Aerodrome. Pte Wilson was in charge of the night flares, and while he was assisting to guide an aeroplane to its landing place he was caught by one of the wings and so badly injured that he died within a quarter of an hour. The funeral took place with military honours at New Bilton on Monday. Representatives from deceased’s unit attended, and the firing party was provided by a detachment from the Rugby Company of the Volunteers.

Pte Wilson was 46 years of age, and was previously employed by Mr Shears as a plasterer’s labourer. He joined the Army six months ago.

LOCAL WAR NOTES.

Bombardier John Hirons, R.F.A, formerly employed in the B.T.H Lamp Factory, died in Italy from bronchial pneumonia on December 22nd.

Corpl W Haggar, Worcester Regiment, was reported missing on March 21st, and until last week his parents, Mr and Mrs J Hangar, 10 Alexandra Rd, Rugby, had received no tidings. They have now obtained through the Red Cross the following report from a returned prisoner of war :—“ On March 21st, about 11 a.m, I saw W Haggar killed by a bullet. He was hit in the heart, death being instantaneous. I was five yards away. We were compelled to leave the body in a shallow trench, as the Germans were pressing forward. It occurred on the St Quentin front. Corpl Haggar had just returned for the second or third time after being wounded.” Previous to joining up at the outbreak of war Corpl Haggar was employed at the B.T.H. He was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct in June, 1917. Two brothers are still serving in France.

TO WOUNDED SOLDIERS AND RELEASED PRISONERS.— By an advertisement in another column it will be seen that any released prisoner of war in Rugby or district are invited to the B.T.H employees’ Christmas Party.

AT the Rugby Cattle Market on Monday a number of surplus Army horses were submitted by auction by Mr W Wiggins. Some useful animals were included, and good prices were realised, the highest price being 82 guineas. Mr Wiggins will offer a similar consignment next week.

VICTORY BALL IN HONOUR OF LANCE-CORPL VICKERS, V.C.
A WARWICKSHIRE HERO.

On Thursday next a grand Victory ball in aid of the testimonial fund to Lance-CorpI Arthur Vickers, the first member of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment to win the Victoria Cross, will take place in the Co-op. Hall, Rugby. Similar balls have been held or arranged in other large centres in the county, and the promoters have secured the patronage of many leading residents.

It is interesting to recall that Lance-Corpl Vickers was at one time employed by the B.T.H Company at Rugby as a brass caster, and at that time he resided at 80 Railway Terrace. He will be present at the ball, and it is expected that Mr F O Roberts, M.P, will also attend. The testimonial fund already stands at about £500.

A contemporary says : “ Lance-Corpl Vickers, V.C, may be permitted to believe that the figure five is his lucky number. He is one of a family of five, stands 5ft. high (or low), was rejected five times before his acceptance for the Army, won the coveted decoration in the fifth month he was in France on the 25th September, 1915. Out of 850 who went into the assault only 55 returned. Truly, the lance-corporal may with justice regard life as a game of fives.”

VISIT TO B.T.H WORKS.

On Thursday Lance-Corpl Vickers paid a visit to the B.T.H Works, where he was received, on behalf of the Company, by Mr G Ralph. Mr S London, and several other officials. Mr J J McKinnell, J.P. C.C, was also present. L-Corpl Vickers was entertained to lunch in the spacious Works Canteen, and during an interval was introduced to the workpeople by Mr G A Maley, chairman of the Canteen Committee, who explained that Vickers was the first ex-employee of the Company to win the V.C. The gallant fellow was loudly cheered by the diners, and the pianist played “ See the Conquering Hero Comes.” After briefly returning thanks, Vickers was kept busy for some time autographing photographs. He with Mr McKinnell and Sergt-Major Blythe were afterwards shown round the Works by Mr Ralph.

NEWBOLD PARISH COUNCIL.
VILLAGE HALL SUGGESTED AS WAR MEMORIAL.

This question was again considered, and Mr Cox suggested that a parish meeting should be called to make suggestions, unless the Council were prepared with any scheme to lay before the parishioners. They wished to carry the whole parish with them as far as possible.—The Chairman : May we obtain money out of the rates ?—Mr Cox : No ; it must be raised voluntarily.—The Chairman : The erection of a village hall has been suggested.—Mr Cox : Yes ; such a thing would be very useful; but it means spending a lot of money, and unless the inhabitants subscribe generously it cannot be obtained.—After further discussion it was decided to adjourn the further consideration of the matter until the annual parish meeting in March, when suggestions from the parishioners will be invited.

DUNCHURCH.
CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS.- On Boxing Day all the school children of Dunchurch and Thurlaston, to the number of 200, were entertained at the Village Hall to a capital tea, provided mainly by the members of Mrs Arkwright’s working party, aided by the gifts of many kind friends. Each child received from a beautifully decorated Christmas tree a toy or useful article at the hands of Father Christmas, ably personated by Mr E Amos. The entertainment was a pleasant surprise to the children, and all the more enjoyable as being a return to pre-war conditions ; indeed to some of the younger ones it was altogether a new experience. The presence of a large number of men home on leave, and the return of several prisoners of war, added much to the joy of the festive season. The services at the Parish Church and at Thurlaston were well attended on Christmas Day. At the Bishop’s request, last Sunday was observed as a “ Day of Remembrance,” recalling the lessons and experiences of the war.

When they were expecting his return home the parents of Pte Rupert Barratt, 2/6 Royal Warwicks, of Brickhill Cottages, Cawston, who was taken prisoner on April 22nd last, were notified of his death at Tournai on July 12th. A week or so later after receiving this sad news Pte Barratt’s father succumbed to pneumonia after a few days’ illness.

RYTON-ON-DUNSMORE.
Pte F Ward, of the Oxford & Bucks Infantry, who has been a prisoner of war since 1915, is home on leave. Pte J T Tompkins, of the 12th Norfolks, who was wounded the day Jerusalem fell, has been home on a 12 days’ leave.

“ OUR DAY ” IN WARWICKSHIRE.

Mr W I Shaw, the hon treasurer of the British Red Cross Society in Warwickshire, states that the collections for “ Our Day ” in the county realised £8,227 8s 8d, as against £5,288 13s 1d in 1917, and £2,237 4s 1d in 1916. The collection in the Coleshill Division (per Mr T Clayton) was £1,500, a magnificent total. In Coventry city it was £1,256 ; in Kenilworth (per Mrs Rotherham) £511 15s 3d ; in Leamington £402 13s 10d ; in Rugby district £400, and in the Southam division £4400 6s 1d. In many districts the was doubled this year, and altogether the result was remarkably good, and reflects great credit upon the ladies and gentlemen who organised and conducted the collection.

A special appeal was made this year for “ Our Day ” for funds so urgently required for the needs of the British Red Cross Society, and sincere thanks are tendered to all those who by their efforts have made Warwickshire contributions such a notable success.

DISPUTE OVER JAM COUPONS.
LADY’S LETTERS TO RUGBY FOOD CONTROL COMMITTEE.

There was little business of public interest at the meeting of the Food Control Committee on Thursday, when there were present : Mr H Tarbox (in the chair), Mrs Dewar, Mrs Shelley, Messrs A Appleby, W Brooke, J Cripps, R Griffin, A Humphrey, C Gay, G H Mellor, F S Hodgkins, and W A Stevenson.

THE IMPROVED MILK SUPPLY.

A milk retailer wrote explaining that she was now receiving more milk than she required, and unless she was allowed to supply the B.T.H canteen again she would have to discontinue taking milk from one farmer. The worry of having too much milk was worse than having not enough.—The Executive Officer (Mr Burton) agreed that there was now a surplus supply of milk locally, due to the working of the Registration Scheme, and it was decided to allow any surplus to be equally divided between the B.T.H and W & R canteens.

The Executive Officer explained that in conformity with the instructions of the Ministry of Food, he had applied to all persons who received more than the specified quantity of sugar for preserving for the surrender of jam coupons. He wrote to Mrs Nickalls, of the Ridgway, amongst others, asking for the surrender of jam coupons. To this Mrs Nichalls replied : “ I think your letter is very extraordinary. I received 20lbs extra sugar and put aside half the jam—14lbs—for the Government. I then went to the Food Control and was told that they did not require the jam after all. You now require coupons for 40lbs of jam. All I can say is I have naturally used the coupons and have none to send. If I had had proper notice, of course I should not have used them.” The Executive Officer replied : “ Coupons equivalent to the amount of sugar granted over and above 6lbs per head of the household must be surrendered. I note that you say you have none to send. Surely this would apply to the coupons up to this week, as it would be an offence to use coupons now which are not available till later. If I this is so, I must ask you to forward the number of coupons required at your earliest convenience.” Mrs Nickalls then sent a postcard, as follows :—“ If you can show me the official Gorvernment notice from headquarters, you can have the coupons.”—Mr Burton added that he then ascertained the name of the retailer with whom she was registered, and he wrote asking him not to supply her with any more jam until further notice.—Mr Stevenson : In view of the correspondence, I move that a letter be sent demanding that these coupons be sent, and. failing this, that action be taken at once. We can’t be insulted like this.—Mrs Dewar said she quite agreed with the action of the Committee, but the unfortunate thing was that some of the smaller committees were not doing this.—The Executive Officer pointed out that the instructions of the Ministry on the point were very definite.—The Chairman said they could not allow this case to pass, or the dignity of the Committee would be upset altogether.—The resolution was carried.

ITEMS.

It was reported that from January 26 the sugar ration would be ¾lb per head.

The Executive Officer reported that the Divisional Commissioner was holding 10cwt of cheese for distribution in the district each month, and the basis of allocation was approved.—It was noted that at present cheese supplies were very short.

WILLANS & ROBINSON LTD.
IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS IN LOCAL INDUSTRY.

A development of importance to local industry is foreshadowed in the recent registration of a new Company, termed the English Engineering Co. with a capitol of £5,000,000. This Company  is formed to co-ordinate the interests of the Coventry Ordnance Works, Phoenix Dynamo Co, and Dick Kerr & Co. The latter Company recently acquired by purchase of shares predominating interest in Willans & Robinson’s and some minor concerns. Since the Coventry Ordnance Company represent mainly the interests of Cammell, Laird & Co, the Fairfield Shipbuilding Co, and John Brown & Co, it will be seen that this group becomes of first importance in the engineering world.

The new English Engineering Company will, as the central or parent company, represent a very  important coalition of purely British engineering manufacturers, and it is to be expected that the co-operation thus assured will make for increased production and employing power.

We understand that this development will not entail any changes in the local management of Willans and Robinson, and that Mr Davenport will continue his direction thereof.

DEATHS.

BOSWORTH.—On Dec. 5th, 1918, at the American Base Hospital, Toul, France, Private THOMAS BOSWORTH, 2nd Linc’s Fusiliers, of  pneumonia ; released prisoner of war ; aged 35 ; youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bosworth, Lutterworth.—“ The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another.”

HAGGER.—In loving memory of Corpl. W. HAGGAR, 2/8 Worcester, fifth son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Haggar, Alexandra Road, Rugby, who was killed at St. Quentin, on March 21st, 1918 (previously reported missing). Aged 28.—“ Thy will be done.”—From Father, Mother, Brothers, sisters, and Ida.

HIRONS.—On December 22, 1918, at Facura 3rd Military Hospital, Italy, Bombr. JOHN, the dearly loved youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Hirons, Kilsby, in his 29th year.—“ Thy will be done.”
—From his sorrowing Father & Mother, Brothers and Sisters.

IN MEMORIAM.

JOHNSON.—In loving memory of our dear brother, L/Corpl. GEORGE JOHNSON, of the R.W. Regt., who died of wounds in France on January 4, 1918.
“ Sleep on, dear brother, in a far-off land,
In a grave we may never see ;
But as long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.”
—Ever remembered by his loving Mother & Sisters.

SHEASBY.—In proud and loving memory of PRIVATE HORACE SHEASBY (HOD), of Napton, who died of wounds Dec 30th, 1917. Ever in the thoughts of May, and sadly missed by his best chum W Webb. R.I.P.

 

Thompson, Arthur. Died 25th Feb 1917

The A Thompson on the Rugby Memorial Gates was originally identified as being Arthur Thompson listed on the Willans and Robinson Drawing Office Plaque, who enlisted at the start of the war. However without more information, we were unable to research him and record him on the centenary of his death. We have now been contacted by his grandson, who has provided us with enough information to publish this biography on the anniversary of his marriage in 1916.

Arthur Thompson was born on 25th May 1889 at Margetts Road, Kempston, Bedfordshire. His father was Charles Thompson, a maltster and his mother was Amy (nee Slater). Arthur was the sixth child. By 1901 three more children had arrived. (They had eleven children altogether but two had died by 1911) The family were now living at 24 Howard Avenue, Bedford. Charles was now listed as a grocer, but his eldest son, also Charles (25) was a maltster.

By 1911 several of the children had left home, including Arthur. Charles was still working as a grocer, at the same address, 24 Howard Avenue. (According to Google Street View, the property is still a grocer’s shop.) We have not been able to find Arthur in the 1911 census, but he was probably already living in Rugby.

On 5th September 1914, he was listed in the Rugby Advertiser as having signed up with other members of staff from Willans and Robinson.

WILLANS & ROBINSON, LIMITED.
SUPPLEMENTARY LIST, No. 3.
Staff :  A Thompson, W R Gamble, C Haines, T Campbell, G F Lewis, P W Clark, J Hughes, C H Waugh, H M Packwood, H R Ainsley, J R Hayward, L G Higgs, A Gibson, A L Jenkins, J Miller, and J Pethybridge.

Arthur joined the Royal Engineers, as corporal, number 42242, and arrived in France with 70th Field Coy. on 30th May 1915.

He would have taken part in the Battle of Loos in October 1915. With no surviving service record it is impossible to track his movements, but in June 1916 he was home on leave, or perhaps had been injured. It is not known if he had returned to France in time for the Battle of the Somme. The 70th Field Coy took part in the Battles of:
Albert 1 – 13 Jul 1916,
Poziers Ridge 23 Jul – 7 Aug 1916,
and The Transloy Ridges 1 Oct – 11 Nov 1916

It is known that on the 18 Dec 1916 he was back in Rugby to marry Lilian Walton at Rugby Congregational Church. It is said that Lilian was a tracer in a drawing office. Presumably Arthur had met her at Willans and Robinson. The Walton family came from Crick, but at the time of the marriage she was living at 24 Benn Street, Rugby.

Arthur Thompson at the front, dated 18 Feb 1917

Serjeant Arthur Thompson was Killed in Action on 25th February 1917, near Arras in France. There is no report of any deaths on that day in the war diaries, but the family was told that the artillery was firing over their heads during an advance and a shell fell short and killed him.

He is buried in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

He is remembered on the Willans and Robinson Drawing Office plaque, as well as the Rugby Memorial Gates. He is also remembered on the Bedford, All Saints memorial.

He was awarded the British and Victory medals as well as the 15 Star.

Arthur and Lilian’s son, Aubrey Arthur Thompson was born on 4th March 1917, one week after his father’s death. Lilian later remarried and moved away from the area.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Note: We wish to thank Clive Thompson, grandson of Arthur, for  the use of family photographs in this biography.

Webb, Arthur Edward. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Arthur Edward WEBB’s birth was registered in Q3, 1896 in Rugby.  He was the son of Frederick Webb, b.c.1861 in Rugby, (d. 4 January 1947), and Fanny, née Shaw, Webb, b.c.1862 in Dunchurch, (d. 25 October 1945).  They had married on 11 June 1885 in Dunchurch when Frederick was a printer and Fanny a servant.

In 1901 Arthur was four, and the family was living, as they had in 1891, at 81 James Street, Rugby.  Arthur’s father was not at home on census night 1901, as that night he and his brother were with their widowed mother in Yardley, Worcestershire.

Arthur attended the ‘Murray School’, Rugby.

By 1911, his father, now 50, had been married for 25 years.  He was a ‘Compositor’ in the ‘Advertiser office’ and the family had moved to 16 Alexandra Road, Rugby – a six room house.  Arthur Edward, now 14, was an ‘office boy’ at a steel works; his eldest sister, Hilda Annie was 25 and was working at ‘etching BTH Works’; the next eldest, Alice Jessie was 22 and was a ‘clerk at BTH Works’; and the youngest, Elsie Newman, was 18 and a ‘Clerk in Coop Society’.  Two of the original six siblings had died before 1911.

Arthur later served an apprenticeship at Messrs. Willans & Robinson’s as a turner and fitter.  Prior to joining up, he was employed at Leicester.

Arthur apparently enlisted in November 1915, under ‘Lord Derby’s Scheme’, as indicated by an item in the Rugby Advertiser.
Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme, Local Enlistments under the Group System.
The following have enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group system.  A considerable number of the men have enlisted under Reserve B for munition workers.
… Webb, Arthur Edward, 16 Alexandra Road, Rugby.[1]

Arthur would become a Private No:48241 in the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment.  Arthur’s Medal Card did not have any date for when he went to France, and he did not gain the 1914-15 Star, which both support the date he enlisted under Lord Derby’s Scheme, and confirm that this would have been after late 1915.  However, it seems likely that he was in the ‘Reserve B’ list as his work was probably involved with Munitions.  This is confirmed in a later item in the Rugby Advertiser (obituary below) which stated that he was ‘… joining up, early in May [1916] …’, and that when he was killed in October 1918, he ‘… had been in France just over a fortnight’.

1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment was in Fermoy, Ireland, when war broke out in August 1914.  They were mobilised with 16th Brigade and returned to England, where 6th Division concentrated near Cambridge for training.  They proceeded to France on 10 September 1914, landing at St. Nazaire.  They marched to the Aisne to reinforce the hard-pressed BEF before moving north to Flanders.  They were in action at Hooge in 1915.  On 17 November 1915 the battalion transferred to 71st Brigade, but were still in 6th Division.  In 1916 they were again in action at Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, and again in the Battle of Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy.  In 1917 they were in action at Hill 70 and Cambrai.  In 1918 they saw action in the Battle of St Quentin, the Battles of the Lys, the Advance in Flanders, the Battles of the Hindenburg Line [12 September – 12 October 1918] and the Pursuit to the Selle [prior to the Battle of the Selle (17-25 October 1918)].[2]

It seems that Arthur might only have joined the Battalion towards the middle of October 1918 and would probably have missed the actions at the end of the Hindenburg battles, namely:
The Battle of the St Quentin Canal, 29 September – 2 October 1918,
The Battle of Beaurevoir, 3 – 5 October 1918,
The Battle of Cambrai, 8 – 9 October 1918,
The Pursuit to the Selle, 9 – 12 October 1918.

The War Diary of the 1st Battalion[3] provides information on the Battalion’s positions and actions in October 1918.  There is very considerable detail of the movements in some 20 poorly legible handwritten pages, which include map references but a paucity of actual place names.  However, the general progress of the Battalion can be followed as they advanced in a north-easterly direction, some 20 miles south-east of Cambrai.

On 3 October the battalion was preparing to move to Magny-la-Fosse, where they were on 6-7 October.  By 12 October they had moved to Bohain-en-Vermandois, and were in billets there on 16 October until 19 October when they received 43 O.R.s as ‘new recruits’ – 20 were immediately sent for Lewis gun training.

Bearing in mind Arthur had only been in France for two weeks when killed, he may well have been one of those new recruits, as it would probably have taken some days to travel from the coast to join his Battalion.

The next day the Battalion seems to have moved back westward to Brancourt, and then very quickly up to St. Souplet and on to Le Quennelet, a distance of some ten miles.  The next day, 21 October, shelling was observed at Bazuel, about a mile ahead of them.  They were coming into the front line of the advance and on 22 October, four men were wounded, two by shellfire and two by rifle fire.  They prepared for an attack on Pommereuil on 23 October, and the Diary gives detailed dispositions.

By midday on 23 October, the Regimental Aid Post had already dealt with 3 Officer and 74 Other Rank casualties which, from later figures, suggests that the majority of the casualties were incurred in the initial part of the attack.

At 21.15 the Battalion was relieved.  Because of the muddy state of the road from Bazuel, the guides were delayed in reaching the Battalion at the front and the relief was not completed until the early hours.  The move back was competed at 4.15am, when tea and rations awaited the men.  At noon the Battalion moved to billets at St. Souplet.

By 25 October, the casualties suffered during operations from 20-24 October 1918 were listed.
Killed         Wounded         Missing
Officers               0                  5                     nil
O.R.s                 8                  85                    33

It seems that Arthur Webb would have been among those eight O.R.s ‘Killed in Action’ during the attack on Pommereuil.

A report in the Rugby Advertiser noted,
ANOTHER OLD MURRAYIAN KILLED IN ACTION
Much sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs F. Webb of 16 Alexandra Road, who received news on Sunday of the death of their only son, Pte. Edward Webb of the 1st Leicestershire Regt. The sad event has been conveyed to the lad’s parents by the Chaplain of his battalion in a sympathetic letter.  Pte. Webb who was 22 years of age, was educated at the Murray School, where he was most popular with his schoolmates.  He served an apprenticeship at Messrs. Willans & Robinson’s as a turner and fitter.  Prior to joining up, early in May, he was employed at Leicester.  He had been in France just over a fortnight.  His chum, Pte. Percy Tyers,[4] of Leicester (who was also apprenticed at Messrs. Willans & Robinson’s) was killed a week previously.[5]

In the same issue of the Rugby Advertiser, the family posted an ‘Acknowledgement’,
MR and MRS. F. WEBB and DAUGHTERS, of 16 Alexandra Road, wish to thank all Friends who have shown sympathy with them, and sent Letters of Condolence in their sad bereavement in the loss of their only son, killed in action.

Arthur was killed in action, aged 22, on 23 October 1918 and was buried in grave ref: I. B. 4., at St Souplet British Cemetery, very near to the Battalion Headquarters for the action on 23 October.  When his temporary cross was replaced with a memorial headstone, the family had the following inscription engraved on it – ‘REUNION OUR ABIDING HOPE’.

St. Souplet is a village about 6 kilometres south of Le Cateau, which is a small town approximately 20 kilometres south-east of Cambrai.  St. Souplet village was captured by the American 30th Division on the 10 October 1918.  The American troops made a cemetery of 371 American and seven British graves on the South-West side of the village, on the road to Vaux-Andigny.  A smaller British cemetery was made alongside.  The American graves were removed after the Armistice and the seven British graves were moved into the British cemetery.  Further British graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields.

Because of the Battalion’s location, it is likely that Arthur was buried in the cemetery soon after his death, and was not one of those moved to the cemetery later.  Certainly his position in the central ‘Plot I’ suggests that he was one of the first to be buried there.  There is also no record on the CWGC site of him being ‘concentrated’ from any of the other cemeteries, most of which contained burials from much earlier in the advance, and which are fully documented.

Arthur Edward WEBB’s Medal Card showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He is also commemorated on a pillar of the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Arthur Edward WEBB was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

[1]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/27th-nov-1915-lord-derbys-scheme/, and Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.

[2]      Edited from: https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=4905.

[3]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Leicestershire Regiment, 6th Division, Piece 1622/1-5: 71 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion Leicestershire Regiment (1918 Jan – 1919 Apr).

[4]      This was Private TYERS, H. P., No: 48242, who died on 10 October 1918; he was buried at Tincourt New British Cemetery, some 10 miles west of the 1st Leicester’s positions on 3 October.  It is likely that he had been wounded and evacuated to one of the Casualty Clearing Stations located at Tincourt.

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

Hemming, Charles Henry. Died 4th Sep 1918

Charles Henry Hemming was born in Rugby in 1879. His father was Charles Gibbs Hemming, a general labourer living at 20 North Street, Rugby. His mother was Bathsheba Matthews, of Long Lawford and they married at Newbold in December 1877. Charles Gibbs Hemming was born in Welford, Gloucestershire.

Charles Henry was the eldest child and by 1891, he had five younger siblings. Four more children had arrived by 1901 and the family was living at 36 Dale Street. Charles Henry was aged 21 and was a labourer in a foundry, as was his father.

The family was still there in 1911, but Charles Henry had moved out. In late 1901 he had married Annie Maria Wilson and they were living at 3 Hill Street, with one child, nine year old Louis Charles. Charles was now a core maker in iron foundry. A second child, Denis W was born in 1917.

He must have been working for Willans and Robinson, as in the Rugby Advertiser of 12th Sept 1914 he was mentioned in a list of workmen from there who had joined “since Thursday, September 3rd

He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, 46th Field Ambulance, No. 26010. By 1918 he had reached the rank of serjeant.

The Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit, manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Most Field Ambulances came under command of a Division, and each had special responsibility for the care of casualties of one of the Brigades of the Division.

46th Field Ambulance served with the 15th (Scottish) Division which was formed in September 1914. They left for France in July 1915 and were involved in most of the major actions of the war. In 1918 they fought in the First Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras, The Battle of the Soissonnais and of the Ourcq (18-22 July 1918) when most of the ground lost in the German Spring Offensive was regained. On 28th July an attack was made on Buzancy, before the Final Advance in Artois.

There is some confusion about Charles Henry Hemming’s death. The CWGC certificate gives the date as 4th September 1918 and it appears that is the date inscribed on his headstone, but the attached grave registration, at Vauxbuin French National Cemetery, says 25th July 1918. The body was concentrated (removed and reburied) from Dommiers British Cemetery, where his name is given as Sergt G H Hemmings. He was buried with three other men from the 46th Field Ambulance and a handful of Scottish soldiers who all died on 25/26th July.

Dommiers British Cemetery was located on the East side of that village, and contained the graves of 50 soldiers of the 15th Division who fell in July and August 1918.

The Soldiers Effects document, in which money is paid to his widow, Annie, gives his death “in action” as 24th July 1918. The same date is given on the list of soldiers Died in the Great War, where he was “killed in action (gas)”

Charles Henry Hemming is remembered on the St Phillip’s Church Memorial (as Charles Hemmings) as well as the Rugby Memorial Gates.

Annie Maria Hemming remarried, in 1923, to Thomas A Sprowson

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

Slater, Cyril George. Died 27th Aug 1918

Cyril George SLATER was born in New Bilton, Rugby on 27 June 1899. He was the eldest son of Charles Henry Slater, whose father was a paperhanger, and who was born in about 1878 in New Bilton, Rugby, and Bertha Martha, née Taylor, Slater, whose father was a ‘goods porter’ – she was also born in about 1878, in Rugby. They were married in New Bilton on 7 March 1899, after Banns were called in February and March. When Cyril was baptised at New Bilton on 6 August 1899, his father was working as a ‘decorator’ and the family lived in New Bilton.

In 1901, his father was enumerated as a ‘painter and house decorator’, and the family were now in St. Andrews Parish and living at 103 Cambridge Street, Rugby. Cyril was one year old. In 1911, when Cyril was 11, his parents had been married for 12 years, and had moved to live at 24 Lodge Road, Rugby. Cyril now had a younger sister, Olga C Slater, who was seven. Their father was now a ‘foreman painter’. Cyril attended the Elborow School, and ‘previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.’

Unfortunately no Service Record has survived for Cyril, but it seems that he joined up in Warwick, and his Medal Card shows that he served initially as Private, No: 43087, in the 4th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. He later served as a Private, No: 44979, latterly in the 8th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment, more usually known as the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

There is no date on his Medal Card for when Cyril went to France, suggesting this was after the end of 1915, but it would probably be some time after he joined up and he was unlikely to have been sufficiently trained – or indeed old enough assuming he had declared his correct age – to serve overseas until sometime in late 1917.

Both the 1st/4th and 2nd/4th Battalions of the Hampshire Regiment served in India from October and December respectively in WWI. Thus whilst one document suggests that Cyril was in the ‘4th Battalion’, he did not serve in India, and he may have been transferred to the Royal Berkshires soon after recruitment.

There is also some confusion over the service of the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. The 8th (Service) Battalion was formed in September 1914 as part of the Third New Army (K3) at Reading and was attached to the 26th Division and moved to Salisbury Plain. In May 1915 they moved to Sutton Veny and on 8 August 1915 mobilised for war and landed at Havre and transferred to the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division, a Regular Army formation, which engaged in various ‘slaughterhouse battles’ on the Western Front.

However, some accounts suggest they were in action in France in 1914 and early 1915 which conflicts with the above mobilisation to France date. Assuming Cyril went to France in August 1917, having reached the age of 18, he may have been first involved in the Second Battle of Passchendaele from 26 October to 10 November 1917.

On 2 February 1918 the Battalion transferred to the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Division and continued to fight on the Western Front in the Battle of St Quentin from 21 to 23 March 1918, this being the initial action against the German offensive ‘Operation Michael’ ; the Battle of the Avre, 4-5 April; the actions of Villers-Brettoneux, 24-25 April 1918; and the Battle of Amiens, 8 August 1918, which was the first day of the Allied offensive, when Allied forces advanced over 7 miles on the first day, one of the greatest advances of the war, … Erich Ludendorff described that day as “the black day of the German Army”. The Battalion was then involved in the third Battle of Albert (21-23 August 1918) which then continued as the extended two week Second Battle of Bapaume which then developed into the advance, which became known as the Allies’ ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, and pushed back the German Armies along an extended front until the Armistice was declared.

Parts of the 8th Battalion War Diary are to be found at the end of the 53rd Brigade Diaries within the records of the 18th Division. This showed that after a final conference at MAMETZ WOOD, on 26 August 1918, there was a major action on 27 August 1918, which was described in four closely written pages of the War Diary.

‘27 August – 2.15am – Battalion moved out to the forming up line.

‘3.30am – Assembly of troops was completed. The night was quiet and bright moonlight. … three of the enemy strayed into our lines and were taken prisoner of war by the Medical Officer.

‘4.30am – The leading lines moved forward … to catch the barrage which was timed to open at 4.55am … through western edge of BERNAFAY WOOD. The enemy … outpost M.G. posts … retired hastily to the first main line of their resistance. … Our advance had already been detected … and a brisk M.G. fire opened. This was ominously loud on the left … in enemy occupation instead of held by the adjoining Division. … the barrage crept forward and our men … cleared the right area without appreciable loss.

‘On the left … progress … was considerably hampered. The next line of enemy resistance coincided approximately with the BERNAFAY- LONGUEVAL Road. … The right pushed on not far behind the barrage and took some more prisoners … between the LONGUEVAL road and TRONES WOOD. … the final objective … was attained on the right but our own troops at once came under accurate M.G. fire from the direction of WATERLOT farm. … large numbers of enemy could be seen massing and advancing from WATERLOT farm. At the same time LONGUEVAL and DELVILLE WOOD were full of enemy … contemplating withdrawl … the troops on the final objective … checked the advance from WATERLOT farm, though at the cost of a number of casualties … a number of the enemy surrendered or were killed, while the remainder withdrew in the direction of LONGUEVAL.

‘ … the Reserve Coy of the 7th R W Kents had also come up … ‘B’ Coy had started their southward advance through TRONES WOOD … but our heavies continued to shell it … they also fell back to the trench line immediately west of the wood … an enemy counter attack … menaced the security of the whole of this flank. But Kents and Berkshires rallied in good style … and confined the enemy gains to the higher portion.

‘6.30pm – The heavies opened an intense bombardment …

‘6.50pm – Two guns of the 53rd Trench Mortar Battery opened an intensive fire …

‘6.55pm – The attacking Companies … crept from their positions close up to the bombardment.

‘7.00pm – All the fire was turned to the left, but so eager were the men that they were in amongst it before the shells had stopped bursting taking the enemy completely by surprise. Basically all of these on the edge of the wood were shot or bayoneted and our troops pushed into the undergrowth with great dash … The whole operation was complete within an hour. 3 officers and 70 OR were taken prisoner, about 50 of the enemy killed and some 20 M.G.s captured. Enemy posts … were rendered largely innocuous by the command of the ground captured and the night passed quietly …

‘28 August – 12 midnight – Battalion was relieved by 2nd Batt. Bedford Regt., 54th Brigade, and moved to CATERPILLAR VALLEY.’

On 29 August at 7pm, the Battalion moved into Reserve about GUILLEMONT, which had been well behind the German lines when the action started on 27 August – such was the progress of the advance. There had been casualties – on 27 August, three Officers had been killed, and also an RAMC officer, and three were wounded. In total in August 79 Other Ranks had been killed, 225 wounded, nine died of wounds, and eight were missing. Seven Military Medals were awarded.

At some time during the actions on 27 August, Cyril George Slater was one of the 79 Other Ranks who were ‘Killed in Action’ in August in the 8th Battalion. He was 19 years old. His body was either never found or not identified.

Cyril is commemorated on Panel 7, of the Vis-en-Artois Memorial, in Pas de Calais, France.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the road from Arras to Cambrai, about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras. The Vis-en-Artois Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt.
The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8 August 1918 to the date of the Armistice in the Advance to Victory in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos, and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain and Ireland and South Africa; the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand forces being commemorated on other memorials to the missing. The Memorial consists of a screen wall in three parts. The middle part of the screen wall is concave and carries stone panels on which names are carved. It is 26 feet high flanked by pylons 70 feet high. The Stone of Remembrance stands exactly between the pylons and behind it, in the middle of the screen, is a group in relief representing St George and the Dragon. The flanking parts of the screen wall are also curved and carry stone panels carved with names. Each of them forms the back of a roofed colonnade; and at the far end of each is a small building. The memorial was designed by J.R. Truelove, with sculpture by Ernest Gillick. It was unveiled by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw on 4 August 1930.

An item in the Rugby Advertiser in September noted,
Pte George Cyril Slater, son of Mr & Mrs H Slater, 24 Lodge Road, was killed in action in France on August 27th. He was an old Elborow boy, and previous to enlisting was employed as a clerk in Messrs Willans & Robinson’s offices.

It seems that the family may have used the name George rather than Cyril. His death was not officially reported in the Weekly Casualty List until mid-October,

‘PART VIII – W.O.’s., N.C.O.’s and Men, Cont. – Killed … Royal Berkshire Regiment … Slater 44979 O. G. (Rugby).

The Coventry Evening Telegraph published a note on the same date,
‘THE ROLL OF HONOUR. Coventry and District Casualties. The following are included in the latest casualty lists: Killed. … Slater, 44979, O. G., Rugby, Royal Berkshire Regiment.’

In both cases his first initial ‘C’ had been misprinted as ‘O’.

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

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

Angell, William Henry, Died 15th Jun 1918

William Henry Groves ANGELL was born in Deptford, Kent, in late 1889.  He was the second son of John Groves Beasley Angell, who was born in ‘Bow Road’, London City, in about 1862, and Mary, née Sullivan, Angell, who was born in Deptford, Kent and who was also born in about 1862.  

In 1891, the family had just moved to live in Clump Meadow, Queen’s Road, Thames Ditton, Kent.  William was one year old and had an elder brother, John, who was five,[1] and an elder sister.  He would later have another sister, Amy, and a much younger brother, Fred born in 1898.  William’s father was a ‘moulder’.  It seems that both William’s father, and his uncle, had moved to Queen’s Road, Thames Ditton, before the 1891 census, and both must have worked for the Willans Company, as both families moved to Rugby when the Willans Company expanded and moved there in 1897.

So before 1901 the family had moved to live at 43 Victoria Avenue, Bilton, Rugby, and then before 1911, William’s parents and the family had moved to 166 Lawford Road, New Bilton, Rugby.  His father was still an Iron Moulder.  His sister, Katherine, had married, Rugby born, Alfred Glenn, who was a Groom and they were also living with the family.  William was not at home on census night, and has not been found elsewhere at present, unless he was the ‘core maker’ – a somewhat similar trade to that of his father – who was a boarder at 425 Shields Road, East Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

There are no surviving military Service Records for William.  He joined up in Bristol, initially as a Sapper, No:2168, in the Royal Engineers.  His Medal Card states that he went ‘overseas’ to France/Belgium on 6 June 1915.  He was latterly a Sapper No: 494519 in the 477th South Midlands Field Company, Royal Engineers (R.E.s).

The 2/1st South Midland Field Company, R.E.s was formed in September 1914, and later moved independently to France as the renamed 477th Field Company, R.E.s, and joined 48th Division in June 1915.  William would have gone to France with his Field Company.

A War Diary exists for their period in France/Belgium.[2]  They had entrained for Portsmouth on 6 June and crossed to Le Havre arriving on 7 June and then spent several months with Sections working on different projects in different areas and also training – including the use of pontoons and bridging.

As an example of their work, on 18 May 1916, 9.30am, they started to supervise the digging of trenches,
‘… 915 yds of trench in all & including [two] traverses, 1220 yds of digging. Trench dug 5ft wide at top & 3 ft at bottom, 3ft 6in deep = 14 sq ft.  Strength of digging party 650 & 1 section of Sappers supervising approx 80 cu.ft per man.  19 May – 2pm – Digging complete.

In November 1916, their Field Company typically had a strength of 10 officers and about 220 other ranks.  They would have been working on a variety of construction projects, trenches and strong-points, supporting the 48th Division during the rest of 1916 and for most of 1917.

In May 1915, the Italians had entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria.  Commonwealth forces were later transferred to the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.   48th Division HQ received orders on 10 November 1917 for a move to Italy.  Entrainment began on 21 November and all units had detrained around Legnano (Adige) by 1 December.  The Division then moved north to the area allotted to XI Corps.

In March 1918, XIV Corps (the 7th, 23rd and 48th Divisions) relieved Italian troops on the front line between Asiago and Canove, the front being held by two Divisions, with one Division in reserve on the plain.[3]

The 48th Division relieved 7th Division to hold the front line sector at the Montello between 1 and 16 March.  It then moved west, to the Asiago sector.  The front had been comparatively quiet until the Austrians attacked in force from Grappa to Canove in the Battle of Asiago (15-16 June 1918).  The Division took part in the fighting on the Asiago Plateau.  The Allied line was penetrated to a depth of about 1,000 metres on 15 June, but the lost ground was retaken the next day and the line re-established.[4]

It is likely that William was wounded either just prior to, or during, the Battle of Asiago, and died of wounds during the day at one of the South Midlands Field Ambulances, which were attached to the 48th (South Midland) Division.  Mount Cavalletto was the site of an Advanced Operating Station where urgent cases from the front were treated, as the journey from the mountains to the main hospitals on the plain was long and difficult.

William Henry Angell ‘died of wounds’ on 15 June 1918, and was buried in the nearby Cavalletto British Cemetery, in grave reference: Plot 1. Row E. Grave 11.[5]  His family later had the inscription ‘A Noble Sacrifice for his Country’s Honour’ added to his memorial stone.  The contact for the inscription was ‘Mrs F R Angell, 714 Fishponds Road, Bristol’.  This would appear to be William’s cousin, Florence R Angell, who had married in 1913 and whose husband died in 1918.  She seems to have used her unmarried name for correspondence with the CWGC.  She later re-married.

Cavalletto British Cemetery is one of five Commonwealth cemeteries on the Asiago Plateau containing burials relating to this period.  It contains 100 First World War burials.  It is 12 kilometres south of Asiago (in the province of Vicenza, Veneto region), … and 45 kilometres from Vicenza in the commune of Calven.

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

William Henry Angell was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1914-1915 Star.  He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Henry ANGELL was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, March 2018.

[1]      His brother John was mentioned in the Rugby Advertiser, on 5 May 1917.  See Rugby Remembers.  ‘2nd Lieut. J P Angell, R.F.C, eldest son of Mr and Mrs J Angell, 166 Lawford Road, has been awarded the French Military Medal for Distinguished Service while he was Sergt. Major, and has received congratulations from His Majesty the King.  Mr Angell has two other sons serving with the Colours.’

[2]      WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Engineers, 48th Division, TNA Ref: Piece 2751/3: 477 South Midland Field Company Royal Engineers (1915 Jun – 1917 Oct).

[3]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[4]      Edited from: https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/69804/cavalletto-british-cemetery/.

[5]      Shared by ‘parkgrove1’ on www.ancestry.co.uk on 19 September 2015.