Hanwell, George Charles. Died 12th Aug 1917

George Charles HANWELL’s birth was registered in Q2 1881 in Rugby.   He was the son of William Hanwell, a railway fireman, and Sarah Maria née Wills. In 1882 they were living in Rugby where George had been born.

George was baptised at Crick on 3 September 1882, when his father was also recorded as a ‘fireman’. By 1891 the family were living at 15 Cambridge Street, Rugby.

In 1901, George was enumerated back in Crick, living with his grandfather, a retired plumber. His uncle was a ‘plumber and painter’ and George was listed similarly.   It seems he was learning the trade, and by 1911 he was enumerated as a house painter.

His marriage with Georgina Worthington, was registered in Rugby in Q3 1906, and by census night 1911 they were living at 1 Caldecott Street, Rugby with their son Henry W who was 7 months old – his birth was registered in Q3 1910. They later had a son, Jesse, whose birth was registered in Q1 1915, but who died very soon afterwards and whose death was registered in Q2 1915.

George enlisted at Rugby and joined up initially as Private No.267297 in the 1/5th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Rifles (RWR) and later at an unknown date was transferred as Private, No.235001 to the 1st Bn. Worcestershire Regiment.

The 1/5th Battalion of the RWR were formed in August 1914 in Thorp Street, Birmingham as part of Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division.   They landed at Le Havre on 22 March 1915 and on 13 May 1915 joined the 143rd Brigade, of the 48th (South Midland) Division and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1916: The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Battle of the Ancre; and in 1917, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, and The Battle of Poelcapelle.

The 1st Battalion had been stationed in Cairo, Egypt at the outbreak of war, but by 16 October 1914 had returned to England from Alexandria and arrived at Liverpool to join the 24th Brigade of the 8th Division and moved to Hursley Park, Winchester. They landed at Le Havre in November 1914 for service on the Western Front. The 1st Battalion placed an important role at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 but by December it had lost half its strength due to frostbite as much as combat casualties as well as the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel E. C. F. Wodehouse, who was killed-in-action.

It is unknown when George joined up or transferred to the 1st Bn., which having fought in the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1916, transferred with the 24th Brigade to the 23rd Division on 18 October 1915. During 1916 the Brigade helped to relieve the French 17th Division in the Carency sector and the attack on Contalmaison, and on 15 July 1916 transferred back to the 8th Division, with the Battalion taking over trenches at Cuinchy and then moving back to the front at Somme. During 1917 they were involved with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Pilkem, The Battle of Langemarck, and the Third Battle of Ypres.

It was presumably during the first action of the Third Battle of Ypres that George was wounded.

The War Diary of the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment provides information on their positions and actions in July and August 1917. Prior to George’s death on 12 August, the Battalion was in reserve and under training so it seems likely that he was wounded before August.

This would have been during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, 31 July – 2 August 1917, which was the opening attack of the Third Battle of Ypres. On 31 July, the Anglo-French armies captured Pilckem Ridge and areas either side, the French attack being a great success. However, heavy rain fell during the afternoon of 31 July, just as German regiments from specialist counter-attack Eingreif divisions intervened. The reserve brigades were forced back and the German counter-attack was stopped by massed artillery and small-arms fire.

The Diary noted that they had made an extensive advance on 31 July near Hooge and onto the Bellewarde Ridge, toward Westhoek, in which action tanks were also used. However, in the later part of the action on 31 July, they experienced heavy shell fire and also machine gun and sniper fire. The description of the day in the War Diary runs to some four pages and although the Battalion captured 70 Germans, as well as inflicting losses on the enemy, they had three officers and 22 other ranks killed and five officers and 157 other ranks wounded, and one officer and 49 other ranks missing.

It is assumed that George Hanwell was among the 157 wounded and he was presumably taken back to an advanced dressing station or a casualty clearing station before being evacuated to one of the hospitals well behind the lines at Rouen, where he later died of his wounds on 12 August 1917.

George was buried in Plot P. II. D. 14B, in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. His headstone reads ‘God grant him eternal life’.

The St. Sever Cemetery Extension is located within a large communal cemetery situated on the eastern edge of the southern Rouen suburbs. During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. Most of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No.2 Convalescent Depot. The great majority of the dead were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920.

The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, recorded a payment on 22 November 1917, to his widow, Georgina, of £3-1-5d and then a payment of a war gratuity of £4-0-0d on 10 November 1919.

George’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll entry showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. There was no 1914-1915 Star, which suggests that he did not go to France until at least 1916.

George Hanwell is commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

George’s son Henry Hanwell’s marriage with Phyllis A Mansfield was registered in Rugby in Q2 1936. They had a son, John H Hanwell whose birth was registered in Q2 1936.

 

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This article on George Charles HANWELL 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, June 2017.

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Inwood, Cecil Stanley. Died 27th May 1917

Cecil Stanley Inwood was born in Rugby in 1897. His father was Thomas James Inwood from Weston Turville in Buckinghamshire. His mother was Hettie Melinda (nee Noon), of Whilton, Northants. They married in Whilton on 25th May 1896. Thomas living in Rugby at the time, his father was running the Queen’s Head pub in Little Elborowe Street. Thomas worked for the Post Office, as a Stamper and later Mail Porter.

Cecil was their only child, a daughter was born and died in 1900. The family lived at 12 Lodge Road, Rugby. Cecil attended Elborowe School and on leaving, became an Electrical Apprentice with Mr S P Martin in Regent Street.

Cecil Stanley Inwood joined the Worcester Regiment under the group system, in late 1915. He was a private, no. 29753. The 14th Battalion, Worcester Regt. was formed in autumn 1915, one of the new “Pioneer” Regiments. They were first quartered in Norton Barracks in Worcester, moving to Salisbury Plain in Spring 1916. Training on Salisbury Plain was hard, since technical knowledge was added to battle training. They left on 19th June 1916 and arrived in France on the morning of 21st June. By 23rd June they reached billets on the front at Chamblain Chatelain, where they became part of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.

They moved position frequently, working on defences and other technical work, perhaps Cecil’s electrical apprenticeship helped. Working parties were continually under fire, but losses were not heavy. (Casualties of the 14th Battalion from July 1st to Sept 17th were 4 killed, 8 wounded.)

In October they moved to the Somme front. A stay in Englebelmer was long remembered in the Battalion, due to the large number of rats in the deserted village. It was a relief to leave and live under canvas, even though it was November. They took part in the Battle of the Ancre, consolidating captured defences and building new communication trenches. On 14th November, a party from 14th Worcester helped to dig out two tanks, stuck in mud.

Operations began again in mid January 1917, constructing trenches and wire entanglements. By the end of February, there was news that the enemy had evacuated all their front-line defences, east of Miraumont, and all companies of the 14th Worcestershire were recalled from other work and set to the construction of roads across the evacuated land. They returned to Flanders at the start of March and remained in the area until the 7th April 1917, working and training.

The 14th Worcestershire were employed near Gavrelle at the start of the Battle of Arras, fully occupied in work on roads in the battle-area just north of Arras, but when the enemy counter attacked on 29th April, they took part in fighting. The advance was checked and the next three weeks many working parties were sent out. On 20th May they returned to their former camp on the Arras-Lens road.

War Diaries 14th Bn Worcestershire Regt.
27-31 May 1917

During these five days the Battalion working at night have continued work on the Divisional Front making Front & support trenches and communication trenches between them and have sustained the following casualties.
Killed 4 other ranks Wounded 17 other ranks
The total casualties for the month are killed 6 other ranks, wounded 23 other ranks.

It is not known if Cecil was included among the killed or wounded, but the report in the Rugby Advertiser of 9th June 1917 states that:
The death took place in a hospital in France on Whit Sunday of Pte Cecil Stanley Inwood… who was wounded by a sniper a few hours earlier.

 

He died on 27th May 1917 and was buried at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun. The site of a Casualty Clearing Station 9 kilometres west of Arras.

 

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Source: Worcestershire Regiment website http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/bat_14

 

Young, William Cotterill. Died 25th Apr 1917

William Cotterill Young was born in New Bilton, Rugby and baptised at New Bilton Church on 16 Oct 1892. His parents were John and Elizabeth Louisa (nee Cotterill). Both were from Whitnash in Leamington, where they were married on 6th April 1885. John was a platelayer. Their first child, Martha Ellen was born in Long Lawford two years later. A further two daughters were born after the family moved to Pinfold Street, New Bilton. William, named after his maternal grandfather was their final child and only son. By 1911 John was working as a labourer at the cement works, William was aged 18 and a painter.

By the time he enlisted, in March 1916, he was working at the B.T.H Lamp Factory. He joined the 11th Bn, Worcestershire Regiment as a Private (no. 34050).

The 11th Battalion had been in Macedonia since December 1915 and much of the time was spent training in the hills of Salonika. For most of September they were in reserve, returning to the front line on Oct 8th. There were several raids against the enemy resulting in the capture of some Bulgarian trenches. After a week they were in reserve, returning to the front line from 8th-15th November. Bad weather closed down hostilities for the winter and the battalion spent a cheerless Christmas in the trenches and shelters near the Selimli Dere.

“The severity of the Balkan winter kept both sides immobile during the months of January and February. During those months the 11th Worcestershire alternated between the forward trenches near Horseshoe Hill and the reserve trenches near Chuguntsi. There was very little to choose between the two sets of trenches as regards discomfort and but little to choose between them as regards danger. Shell fire was only spasmodic, and patrolling brought little loss.” 

In April “..a general Allied offensive astride the River Vardar was planned. Pending the battle, the normal routine of the Division was continued. On April 8th the 11th Worcestershire relieved the 9th Gloucestershire in the front-line trenches and held them till April 13th. As if sensing the coming attack, the enemy’s artillery was now more active, fortunately without serious results (Casualties from 9th to 13th April, 1 man killed). After relief on April 13th the Worcestershire marched back to camp at Pivoines. There six days were spent in strenuous training. Then on April 21st the Battalion moved forward to the line, and was accommodated in shelters prepared in the Senelle and Elbow Ravines, close behind the front trenches. Already the British artillery had begun (April 21st) a systematic bombardment of the enemy’s wire and trenches.

During those days before the battle, “…much good work was done by the Battalion Intelligence Officer, 2/Lt.T. Featherstone; who carried out a daring reconnaissance of the enemy’s position, going out alone by night and remaining all the next day under cover close to the enemy’s line, thereby gaining most valuable information. He was awarded the M.C. for his actions.

On April 23rd came word that the attack would take place on the next night.

The plan of the attack, so far as the 26th Division was concerned, was a direct frontal attack across the Jumeaux Ravine. Further to the left the 22nd Division would advance from” Horseshoe Hill” along the ‘P” Ridge (so called because various tactical points along it had been designated” P.3,” “P.4,” “ P.5,” etc.), of which that height is the southern end.

From Lake Doiran to the Petit Couronné the attack of the 26th Division would be made by three battalions of the 79th Brigade; from the Petit Couronné to the junction with the 22nd Division two battalions of the 78th Brigade would make the attack, these being, from right to lift, the 7th Royal Berkshire and the 11th Worcestershire.

The objective of the 11th Worcestershire was a spur named on the maps “O 6.” On that spur the enemy were strongly entrenched. To reach those trenches the attacking companies would have to rush down the steep slope to the bottom of the ravine and then scale the equally steep slope on the other side. It was not expected that success would easily be won; for the Bulgarian infantry had proved themselves to be good fighters. As to the strength of the enemy’s artillery there was but little information.

The attack was timed for 9.45 p.m. The British heavy artillery, which had kept up a steady fire during the previous three days, continued firing without intermission through the twilight and throughout the first hours of darkness. The boom of the guns and the crash of the bursting shells echoed and re-echoed among the deep ravines.”

After confused and bloody fighting the Worcestershire men took most of the enemy’s front line along the ridge. While attempting to consolidate the captured trench, the enemy counter-attacked but were driven back. A communication trench was taken and the retaken by the enemy. Battle continued under a continual barrage of bombs.

“The defence of the captured trench had been maintained for four hours, under constant fire and against repeated counter-attacks. More than half of the Worcestershire had fallen. Ammunition was almost exhausted. A message was sent for assistance. In response to that call a company of the 7th Oxford & Bucks L.I. were sent forward. Dashing through the barrage, some forty brave men of that regiment reached the position of the Worcestershire and bore a share in the last desperate struggle on the ridge”.

“About 3.0 a.m. came yet another attack. Three successive waves of the enemy came surging over the crest of the spur. In front the attack was stopped dead by the British musketry; but from both flanks the enemy’s bombers came pushing inwards, and no bombs remained with which they could be opposed. Gradually the length of trench held by the Worcestershire grew shorter, as from both flanks the enemy bombers pressed in. Unless help should come the end was only a question of time; but the remnant of the brave Battalion held on, until, about 4.0 a.m., there came a definite order to retire.”

“The order to retire was passed down the line, and, squad after squad, the remnant of the 11th Worcestershire fell back down the slope. Among the last to leave was Corporal A. Radcliffe who, on his own initiative, mounted a Lewis-gun on the parapet of the trench and covered the retreat of his comrades by bursts of rapid fire. Corpl. Radcliffe was awarded the M.M.

Those of the Worcestershire who still could move staggered back down the slope, turning and firing as they retreated. In the hollow below they found the remnant of two companies of the 9th Gloucestershire, who had advanced to their assistance but had been unable to pass the barrage. Still under fire, they hauled themselves up the further slope, through the scrub and rocks, back to their own lines, and reached at last the comparative safety of the British trenches just as dawn began to light up the scene.

The cause of the repulse was undoubtedly the terrific strength of the enemy’s artillery; greater by far than that of our own guns (Vide Divisional Diary—” A marked feature of these operations was the preponderance of the enemy’s heavy artillery over ours, which enabled him to place such a barrage on the Jumeaux Ravine as to upset our plans.”). The result was a mournful tale of casualties in all the attacking battalions. Out of a battle-strength of perhaps 500, the 11th Worcestershire had lost over 350 of all ranks. The losses of the other attacking battalions of the 26th Division were in much the same proportion.”

On 26th April, what remained of the 11th Bn, Worcestershire Regt marched back into reserve. They took part in another unsuccessful attack on 8th May and on the 7th June they were relieved and left the area. The heat of the Macedonian summer caused military activity to die down. The Battle of Doiran was over.

(More about the Worcestershire Regiment’s part in this battle, together with a map, can be found at the excellent Regimental website from which this account has been taken)

Private William Cotterill Young died on 25th April 1917 and is listed on the Doiran Memorial which stands roughly in the centre of the line occupied for two years by the Allies in Macedonia, but close to the western end, which was held by Commonwealth forces. It marks the scene of the fierce fighting of 1917-1918, which caused the majority of the Commonwealth battle casualties.

He is also listed on the Croop Hill and B.T.H. Memorials.

 

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NOTE.
Research for this article was conducted by Graham Gare who died in October 2015. Graham was a member of RGHG for many years, and as our “Military Expert” he took a large part in researching and writing articles for this site.

Batchelor, Ernest Andrew. Died 24th Oct 1916

Ernest Andrew Batchelor was born in 1887 and baptised in October 1887 at St Andrews Church in Rugby.

At the time he lived at 13 Chapel Street Rugby. He was the son of Andrew Batchelor who was born in 1855 in Rugby and died in 1931 in Rugby, and Elizabeth Batchelor (nee Quinney) born 1856 and died 1938 in Rugby. Andrew Batchelor was a labourer.

In 1891 the family still lived at 13 Chapel Street, and Ernest lived there with his parents and his sisters Lucy and Frances and brothers William, Albert and Arthur.

In 1901 the family had moved to 2 Little Elborow Street and he now had two more brothers Walter and Frank and two more sisters Ethel and Fanny. Later his parents moved to 35 Worcester Street. He attended St Matthews School in Rugby and later worked at a firm in Birmingham.

Ernest enlisted in the First World War at Birmingham and served as Private No 18519 in the 10th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. The 10th Battalion was formed in Worcester in September 1914 as K2 and came under the orders of the 57th Brigade in the 19th `Western Division. They landed in France on 18th July 1915

He enlisted originally on 26th August 1907 but discharged due to sickness on 30th December 1914. He later rejoined the Regiment and served in France & Flanders. During 1916 the Regiment fought in various battles, the Battle of Albert, the attacks of High Wood, the Battle of Pozieres Ridge and the Battle of Ancre Heights. Ernest died on 24tlr October 1916 in the Battle of Morval during the Battle of the Somme, and his body was not recovered. He is commemorated on Pier & Face 5A and 6C of Thiepval Memorial.

An officer of the Regiment wrote to Ernest’s parents that – “He was one of our best bombers, and always cheerful and good-hearted”.

At least three of his brothers enlisted to fight in the First World War. Frank Batchelor, born 1893, enlisted in 1911 in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served in the war from 4th October 1914 and discharged 6th February 1920. During 1911 two other brothers, Arthur Batchelor and Walter Batchelor enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment

 

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Pedley, Bernard. Died 4th Jun 1916

Bernard Pedley was born in Crick, Northants and baptised there on 26th August 1894. His father was Alfred Pedley the village schoolmaster. He and his wife Harriet (nee Smith) had married in Birmingham in 1873 shortly before moving to Crick. Bernard was the youngest of their eleven children. In May 1899 Bernard Pedley died, at the age of 50. The family continued living in Crick for a few years, Bernard attended Lawrence Sheriff School in 1905 -1906, before they moved to Leicester. By 1911 Bernard was a sixteen year old bank clerk, living with his widowed mother at 45 Glenfield Road.

It is not known when Bernard enlisted, but comparison with similar numbers in the Worcestershire Regiment suggest it was in December 1915. He would have joined the 4th Battalion in France in March 1916 after their return from Gallipoli. The battalion moved into an area of trenches called “White City” near Auchonvilliers in the Somme. They spent time in the firing line, working on constructing covers for the trenches and placing gas alarms. Artillery was active on both sides.

The war diary for 1916 reads:

Firing line (White City) June 3rd

Erection of overhead cover carried on in all trenches. A raid was carried out by the 86th Brigade on that part of German trenches called “The Hawthorne Redoubt”. Artillery bombarded enemy’s trenches from 12 Midnight to 12.30 A.M., then lifted to 2nd line. Raiding party discharged Bangalore Torpedoes thus cutting the wire. At 12.45 A.M. the party entered the German trenches & found them empty, they did not penetrate into the 2nd line. A few boards were brought back which gave the information that the 119th Reserve Regt were holding the trenches in front of us. At 12.15 A.M. the German artillery replied to our bombardment; & very heavily shelled the White City. Two huts were hit. Casualties 11 killed, 2nd Lt New & 27 other Ranks wounded. Raiding party returned at 1 A.M. Artillery ceased firing 1.30 A.M. Quite an exciting night.

June 4th

At 6 A.M. the eleven bodies were got out from beneath the debris, and taken down for burial to Auchon-Villiers cemetery. 1 Officer and 9 men returned from leave.

Bernard Pedley would have been one of those eleven bodies.

Lance Corporal Bernard Pedley, 25296, 4th Bn, Worcestershire Regiment is remembered at Auchonvilliers Military Cemetery and also on the Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque.

 

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Stone, Sidney George. Died 1st Oct 1915

Sidney George Stone was born in Margate, Kent in 1892. His parents were William Stone and Frances Louisa (nee Cork) who were married at St John’s Church, Margate on 14th October 1879. William was a labourer, in 1881 agricultural, by 1911 working for the council.

In 1909 Sidney George had moved to Newbold upon Avon. He lived with his brother William Henry Stone and his family at Canal House, Newbold. William was a quarry foreman at the Cement Works and Sidney worked for him as a signal man for quarry engine. While living in Newbold and Rugby he made many friends and played football with the Harborough and Easenhall team.

Sidney George Stone

By the time Sidney enlisted in the Worcestershire Regiment in September 1914, he was working in the BTH foundry. Early in 1914 he had married Amy Lee and they lived at 34 Sandown Road, Rugby. A son Sidney H. was born in April 1915 and his father saw him for only a few days before he was ordered to the front.

Sidney George Stone arrived in France on 1st June 1915 and died from wounds exactly four months later on 1st October 1915. His wife had not heard from him for five weeks and it was feared that something serious had happened to him. He was aged 23. He had two brothers also serving and his wife had four brother who had joined the army.

Private Sidney George Stone, 15063, 2nd Bn. Worcestershire Regiment was buried in the Bethune Town Cemetery. Bethune was an important hospital centre. It is not known how he received his injuries., but the 2nd Worcesters took many casualties in an action at Cité St Elie on 26th September 1915, part of the Battle of Loos.

He is remembered on the BTH War Memorial and the Newbold upon Avon War Memorial, as well as the Rugby Memorial Gates.

 

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