Gauld, Douglas. Died 3rd Jul 1916

Omitted from publication on 3rd Jul 2016

Douglas Gauld was born in 1890 in Aigburth in Lancashire and baptised on 6th July at St Anne’s Church there. His parents were John and Margaret (nee Valentine) who married in the same church on 22nd June 1887. John was a gardener at Bromborough Hall, across the Mersey on the Wirrel. In 1891 the family were living in Chester Road, Bromborough. Douglas was then the youngest of three children. Lizzie was three and Gordon 2. Father, John had been born in Scotland.

By 1901 the family had moved to Lutterworth Road, North Kilworth. John was still a domestic gardener and there were four more children, Wallace, John Valentine, Lottie and Joseph. Ten years later they were still living in North Kilworth and Douglas, aged 20 was working as a grocer’s assistant, his brother Wallace was a grocer’s clerk.

By the start of the war, Douglas was employed by the Rugby Co-operative Society in their Cambridge Street stores. His home was in Lutterworth. His father John had died in 1913, at the age of 53.

He must have enlisted early in the war, with the 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, (No. 15525) as his Medal Index card shows he arrived in France on the 19th July 1915. At some point he was promoted from private to Lance Corporal.

The 10th (Service) Battalion, Worcestershire was formed in Sept 1914 at Worcester as part of the Second New Army (K2), then moved to Salisbury Plain and joined the 57th Brigade of the 19th Division. In March 1915 they moved to Tidworth and on 19th July 1915 mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne.

The Division was engaged in various action on the Western Front including;
In 1915, The Action of Pietre, (a diversionary action during the Battle of Loos).
During 1916, The Battle of Albert, The attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Pozieres Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights, The Battle of the Ancre.

The capture of La Boisselle was a British local operation during the Battle of Albert, during the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme.

According to the War Diaries, the 10th Bn., Worcesteshire Regiment, on 1st July:
…moved into the Assembly Trenches to the North of ALBERT where the day was spent. As the attack had started at 7.30 am Rumours and alarms were frequent.
At 9.15 pm the Battalion was ordered to proceed to our original front line to support an attack. In the communication trenches confusion reigned – Wounded were being brought out – we were trying to get in – carrying parties were trying to go both ways – it was raining & the trench was knee-deep in mud. By about 1 am A, B & C Coy found themselves in the Front Line opposite LA BOISELLE – D Coy was ordered to remain in reserve at USNA REDOUBT. The attack which was due to begin at midnight had to be put off. Leaving the WARWICKSHIRE REGT. To hold the line A, B, & C. Coy made their way back to the USNA – TARA line. Everyone being thoroughly exhausted! The remainder of the day was spent in sleep which was greatly interrupted by the bombardment of LA BOISELLE.

There were various conferences that afternoon and after midnight:
3rd July 1916… the Battalion moved in lines of platoons in fours across country & lay down behind our old Front Line facing LA BOISELLE. The Battalion was seen & a heavy shrapnel fire was opened causing considerable Casualties.
2 am The advance was made in three lines one platoon of each Company being in front. The Battalion want forward with great dash & after a hard fight captured three lines of trenches. Small parties penetrated right through to the village of LA BOISELLE but running short of bombs were forced to retire. Intense fighting with various success continued till about 12 midday when a line was consolidated behind the Church. Coming to our support two companies of the WARWICKSHIRE REGT held the front line while we consolidated a line about 30 yards behind. Casualties were heavy – An appendix is attached.
4 pm Reserve Officers from Transport arrived and took over the Battalion.
Things quietened down considerably & the line was firmly consolidated.
During the night 3 weak bombing attacks by the enemy were easily stopped by Machine Gun fire.

The appendix, dated July 3rd 1916, lists five officers killed, four missing presumed dead, one died of wounds and five wounded. For Other Ranks 44 were killed, 197 wounded and 106 missing.

Douglas Gauld must have been among the 106 missing as he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C.

The Thiepval memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.

On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world

His death was reported in the Rugby Advertiser of 15th July 1916:
News was received on Thursday that Douglas Gould (Worcester Regiment), formerly employed at the Cambridge Street Stores of the Rugby Co-operative Society, has died of wounds received in the advance on July 3rd. His home is at Lutterworth.

Douglas Gould, as he was known to the army, received the Victory and British medals as well as the 15 star.

It was this mistake in spelling his name that delayed our identification until after the centenary of his death.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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Bentley, Thomas. Died 14th Oct 1918

Thomas (Tom) BENTLEY was born at 24 Cambridge Street, Rugby on 16 June 1887, into a railway family.  He was the son of Thomas Bentley, who was born in about 1861 in Stoke on Trent and Mary Jane, née Startin, Bentley, whose birth was registered in Market Bosworth in Q2 1861.  They were married on 27 November 1882 at Saint Andrew’s church, Rugby.

His father’s family came originally from Weston On Trent, Staffordshire, and whilst Thomas’s grandfather, also Thomas, had been a ‘boatman’ in 1851, it seems that he joined the railway soon afterwards and his changes of address and the birthplaces of his children show the progress of his career.  In about 1861 the family were in Stafford and by about 1862 they had moved to Rugby.  In 1871, Thomas’s grandfather was living with his family in King Street, Rugby, and he had been promoted to become a ‘Railway Engine Driver’.  In 1881 the family lived at the, now numbered, 13 King Street, Rugby – possibly the same house – and grandfather Thomas was still an ‘engine driver’, and Thomas’s father, also Thomas and still living with his parents, was a ‘Rly Engine Fitter’, and his younger brother, John, was a ‘Rly Engine Cleaner’.  In 1891 grandfather Thomas was still an ‘engine driver’ and still living at 13 King Street.  His second son, John, had risen to be a ‘locomotive foreman’, and was now married and living next door to his parents at 12 King Street and he already had three young children.

Meanwhile, towards the end of 1882, the eldest son, Thomas’s father, Thomas, had married with Mary Jane Startin, in Rugby.  The family seem to have been moved to Birmingham from at least 1884 to 1886 as their two eldest daughters were born there.  However, by 1887 they had moved back to Rugby and by 1891, Thomas junior, now three years old, and his family had moved to 26 Cambridge Street, Rugby.  Thomas’s father was still a ‘fitter’, presumably still with the railway.

In 1901, Thomas was 13, with five younger siblings, one a baby of two months.  They were now living at 22 Worcester Street, Rugby, and Thomas’s father was an ‘engine fitter’.  His two elder sisters, Annie and Mary, who would now have been 17 and 15, were no longer at home.  They both married in the 1900s.

By 1911 Thomas’s father had made a change of career and moved to run a ten room pub, ‘The Mug House Inn’,[1] at 12 Severn Side North, in Bewdley, Worcestershire.  Thomas and Mary Jane were now both 52 years old, and had been married 30 years; they had had eleven children, with ten of them still living.  Five of Thomas’s siblings were also at home, and also in the house on census night were his father’s ‘granddaughter’ and a ‘sister-in-law’.

Thomas was now 24 and had become a hairdresser.  He had ‘… an established trade as a hairdresser at 47 Load Street.’[2]

Thomas married Frances Annie née Tolley, Bentley, who was born on 6 May 1890, in Bewdley.  Her father was a ‘corn haulier’ and latterly a coal merchant of Ribbesford.  In 1911 she was a cook for a widow, Elizabeth Kitching, who died in later 1912.  Maybe she then moved to cook at the Inn or perhaps she had met Thomas earlier.  They were married on 23 June 1913 in Kidderminster.

The photograph of Thomas Bentley[3] may have been taken on the occasion of his marriage.

Thomas and Frances had a son, a fourth generation Thomas Bentley, who was born on 25 September 1915 in Kidderminster.

Thomas Bentley was still working in Bewdley in 1916 and was probably ‘called up’ when conscription was extended to married men in May 1916.  He enlisted in Worcester[4] as a Private, No. 46066, in the Worcestershire Regiment, initially in the 1st Battalion.[5]  He was latterly in the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment but as there is no date when Thomas went to France, he may have been sent to reinforce the 4th Bn. either before or after going to France when he was with the 1st Battalion.  There would have been a period training before he went abroad, so it was probably in late 1916 or early 1917.

In 1913, the 1st Battalion had been in Egypt, and on 16 October 1914 they arrived back in England – at Liverpool – and joined the 24th Brigade in the 8th Division.  On 18 October, the 24th Brigade transferred from the 8th Division to the 23rd Division, and in November 1914 went to France and Flanders.  In October 1915 they fought at Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge and on 15 July 1916 the 24th Brigade transferred back to the 8th Division.  In 1917 they fought at Bouchavesnes and Ypres, and in 1918 at Pargny, Rosieres and the Aisne.

As noted, the date when Thomas transferred to the 4th Battalion is unknown, but it was probably after later 1916 when the Battalion had returned from Burma, spent time in Warwickshire and had then taken part in the landings and action at Gallipoli.  They were then withdrawn via Egypt to France, landing at Marseilles on 20 March 1916.[6]

After the Gallipoli campaign the 4th Battalion were ordered to proceed to France.  They disembarked at Marseilles on the morning of 20 March 1916.  During July 1916 the 4th Battalion were involved in the attack on Beaumont Hamel.  On the night of July 29/30 1916, the 4th Battalion moved forward by train to Ypres and were to remain in action for some 2 months before leaving again for the Somme (8 October 1916).  By the spring of 1917 the 4th Battalion were involved in the battle of Arras.  In July 1917 they were back in the Ypres Salient where they remained until mid October 1917.[7]

After the German Advance in their Spring Offensive, ‘Operation Michael’,[8] in March 1918, the Allies continued to withdraw, until they were able to hold the advance which finally weakened the Germans and overextended their supply lines.  Then in August 1918 the Allies fought back.

During the early months of 1918, the 4th Battalion were active in the Lys and remained in that area until September.  Their next main action was to be at Ypres were they were involved in the retaking of Gheluvelt.  In October 1918 they saw action at the Battle of Courtrai and by November were marching to the Rhine.[9]

The War Diary[10] for the 4th Bn. Worcestershire Regiment in France and Belgium is available on-line and runs from March 1916.  It seems likely that Thomas Bentley was among the many drafts of reinforcements posted from UK – and probably from 1st Bn. reserves, to bring numbers up to strength.  Some extracts from the Diary for October and the last two weeks of his life are given below.

Oct. 1. – The Battalion remained in position … on the Kielenburg Ridge … a finer day … Enemy heavily shelled our positions during the afternoon and night, we suffered a few casualties. … 

Oct. 2. – … the 2nd Hampshires succeeded in taking the village of Gheluwe, capturing a number of prisoners. … This Brigade was relieved … the relief was considerably delayed owing to the enemy counter-attacking … No ground was, however, lost.

Oct. 3. – The Battalion moved back to Dirty Bucket Camp … it entrained on a light railway at 18.30 for Brake Camp, arriving there about 23.50.

Oct. 4. – … Baths allotted to Companies.  Men issued with winter underclothing.  Jerkins and blankets were also received.

Oct. 5. – The battalion was conveyed by lorries from Dirty Bucket Camp to Ypres. … Draft of 44 O.R. [Other Ranks] joined Battalion’. 

Oct. 6. –  … moved … billets from the Infantry Barracks to shelters and cellars near the [Ypres] station. 

Oct. 7. – … moved by march route from Ypres to Westhoek … accommodated in dug-outs and shelters … Respirators inspected …

Oct. 8. – … 1 hour’s gas drill …

Oct. 9. – … making preparations for relief … proceeded by march route to concentration area behind Keiberg Ridge … Here two day’s rations were issued and Battalion had tea. … proceeded to relieve 1st Dublin Fusiliers …

Oct. 10. – A quiet day.  Artillery activity on both sides normal.  … Capt. E C Bennet V.C., M.C.,[11] joined the Bn. for one month’s attachment.

Oct. 11. – Our artillery put down a barrage … just before dawn.  The enemy retaliated very heavily … Enemy artillery very active most of the day … the Battalion was relieved … a very wet night.

Oct. 12. – … Drill and Feet Rubbing … a very wet day …

Oct. 13. – The Battalion moved into assembly position with the remainder of the 29th Division, south-west of Ledeghem.

Oct. 14. – At 05.55 the 29th Division … attacked the enemy, the final objective being the railway line running from Courtrai to Ghent … [a detailed half page description of a somewhat confused day of fighting followed] … Casualties from Zero hour … [One officer was killed, three wounded and one gassed] – 11 O.R. killed.  82 O.R. wounded.  28 O.R. missing.  5 O.R. Sick.  1 O.R. N.Y.D.[12] (Gas).

Thomas Bentley would have been one of those eleven men ‘Killed in Action’ on 14 October 1918, he was 31.  He was buried in Plot: A.19., in the Ledeghem Military Cemetery which is located some 10 miles east of Ypres and which was captured by Thomas’s Division in the attack in which he was killed.

When a gravestone replaced the temporary marker in about 1920, his widow added the inscription ‘Death divides but memory ever clings’.  Less usually, he was buried together with another ‘unknown’ soldier.  Thomas’s stone is thus additionally inscribed at the base, ‘Also an unknown Private of the Great War, Worcestershire Regiment, 16th October 1918, known unto God.’  There are two other graves of known 4th Bn. soldiers who were also killed on 14 October 1918, which are shared with an ‘unknown’ soldier killed on 16 October 1918.

Ledeghem was almost captured on 19 October 1914 by the 10th Hussars, who were forced to retire the same day.  It then remained in German hands for four years.  On 1 October 1918, the 9th (Scottish) Division captured the village, but could not hold the whole of it; it was finally cleared by the 29th Division on 14 October.  The church, the school and the civil hospital of Ledeghem were used by the Germans as hospitals, and in October 1914 to September 1918, they buried German and Commonwealth casualties in three cemeteries in the commune.  Ledeghem Military Cemetery was made by the 29th Division (as ‘Ledeghem New Cemetery’) in October 1918. … The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.

A more detailed description of the Battle on 14 October 1918 is given by Dr. Simon Fielding on the Great War Forum site,
The action they were preparing to fight would be known as the Battle of Courtrai.  The assault opened at first light on the 14 October with an intense British barrage.  Unfortunately with the smoke shells combining with autumn mist formed an intense fog.  The troops began to lose their sense of direction, and units of the 88th Brigade began to become confusingly mixed.  They did, however, move effectively through the ruins of Ledeghem and surprised the German troops, capturing many machine guns and field guns.  The advanced platoons reached the road from Barakken to Overheule.  Here, the two battalions reorganized and consolidated, and the 2nd Hampshires moved through them to continue the advance, but were held up in the afternoon near Gulleghem.  The 4th Worcesters spent the night in a support position north of the village of Moorseele.  The next day saw the British armies advance to the outskirts of the major town of Courtrai, and the German armies fall back to the line of the river Lys.  The action was typical of the period, with the British armies incurring heavy casualties, but liberating occupied Belgium and pushing the exhausted German army to the point of collapse.  The fighting of 14 October cost the 4th Worcestershires 120 casualties: 2 officers killed, 3 wounded; 83 other ranks wounded and 11 killed: one of the dead was Private Thomas Bentley.[13]

Seven of Thomas Bentley’s colleagues from the 4th Bn., were also killed that day and are buried in the same row of graves, set against the boundary wall of the Ledeghem Military Cemetery.

Thomas’s outstanding pay of £10-6-9d was paid to his widow, ‘Francis A’ in two instalments of £3-8-11d on 4 March 1919, and £6-17-10d on 11 April 1919, and his War Gratuity of £7 on 15 December 1919.

Thomas was awarded the Victory and British medals – he is spelled incorrectly ‘Bently’ on his Medal Card – and he is remembered correctly as ‘Bentley T’ on the Rugby Memorial Gate.  He is also remembered on the Bewdley War Memorial, which is part of the external east wall of St. Anne’s Church, and also on the war memorial at the Bewdley Institute, where Thomas was a member.[14]

After Thomas’s death, and probably before 1920, his widow, Frances, moved to 71, St. John’s, Worcester, where she ran a sweet-shop.  She is listed there in 1924, 1928, and 1932, as a ‘Confectioner, Retail’.[15]  She died aged 44, in Worcester in 1933.  Thomas and Frances’s son, Thomas had moved by 1939 to Oldbury, Worcestershire, where he had become a hairdresser like his father.  He married Miriam F Potter in Horsham in Q4, 1941, and was still living there when he died aged 82 in 1997.[16]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Thomas BENTLEY 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, August 2018.

[1]      The ‘Mug House’ still exists, it provides food and accommodation and is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.  For a brief history see: http://www.mughousebewdley.co.uk/bar/a-brief-history-of-the-mug-house/.

[2]      From research into Bewdley’s WWI casualties, undertaken by Simon Fielding – see also his posts at: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/231174-worcestershire-regiment-14-1018/.

[3]      From the ‘potter Family Tree’, shared by ‘keithpotter70’ on 15 July 2016 on www.ancestry.co.uk.

[4]      UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[5]      UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 and information in answer to a query on the Great War Forum, see: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/231174-worcestershire-regiment-14-1018/.

[6]      A fuller description of the Brigade’s time in Warwickshire, its parade near Dunchurch and review by the King and its campaign in Gallipoli is on line at http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/bat_4.

[7]      http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/bat_4.

[8]      See: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-1918-spring-offensive-operation-michael/.

[9]      http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/bat_4.

[10]     UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Worcestershire Regiment, 29th Division, Piece 2309/2: 4 Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, (1916 Mar – 1919 Apr).

[11]     He was one of the officers wounded on 14 October 1918.in the attack when Thomas Bentley was killed.

[12]     NYD : Not Yet Diagnosed.

[13]     https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/231174-worcestershire-regiment-14-1018/, Dr. Fielding was preparing biographies of the Bewdley casualties.  His biography for Thomas Bentley was not found until this article was almost finished, but provided some useful additional details.

[14]     The Bewdley Institute memorial plaque lists eight members of the Institute who died in the Great War – see: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/231174-worcestershire-regiment-14-1018/.

[15]     Kelly, Directory of Worcestershire, 1924, 1928, 1932.

[16]     Much information has been edited from a family tree, posted by ‘keithpotter70’ at Ancestry.co.uk.

Haggar, William Muston. Died 21st Mar 1918

William Muston HAGGAR, was born in Rugby in about June 1890, the sixth child of James Haggar (b.c.1860 – 1928) a railway fireman born in Stafford and Hannah Maria, née Leeson, Haggar (b.c.1860 Rugby – 1949). James Haggar had presumably moved to Rugby at some date before their marriage was registered in Rugby towards the end of 1879, and the birth of their first child in Rugby in later 1880.   They were boarding in Rugby at 58 Union Street for the 1881 census.

For the 1891 census on 5 April 1891, William was 10 months old. The family were living at 10 Wood Street, Rugby.   William’s father was an Engine Fireman, and he had five elder siblings.

In 1901, William had, additionally, two younger siblings, a sister and a brother. His father had been promoted to be a ‘railway engine driver’, and three of his elder brothers were working as ‘railway engine cleaners’, and one as a ‘refreshment room attendant’. They had now moved to 17 Wood Street, Rugby.

By 1911 the family had moved again to 10 Alexandra Road, Rugby, and only William, now 20 and a baker, and his younger brother, Percy, 18 and a clerk, were still living at home.

He enlisted in Rugby as a Private No. 23224, in the Worcestershire Regiment and is variously listed in the 2nd/8th Battalion; the 2nd/6th Battalion where he was a Lance Corporal when he was awarded the Military Medal, although this Battalion does not seem to have existed; and the 3rd Battalion, presumably later, as he was listed there as a Corporal. He is assumed to have served again in the 2nd/8th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment as this is the Battalion where he is listed in the casualty records. In the absence of a detailed Service Record, it is not possible to be more exact.

William’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll for the 1914-1915 Star shows that he went to France on 12 July 1915, which suggests he was at that date in another Battalion than the 2nd/8th.

He was in action at some date before July 1917, when he was awarded the Military Medal (M.M.) which was awarded for ‘bravery in battle’ – ‘23224 Pte. (L./C.) W. M. Haggar, Worc. R.’.[1]

He is seen as a Corporal (left[2]); and a summary of his military service, is given in the Regimental History, which also lists him serving [latterly] in the 2nd/8th Battalion.

‘2/8th, Haggar, William Muston, 23224, Cpl., F[rance] & F[landers], 21/3/1918, M.M.’.[3]

The 2nd/8th Battalion Territorial Force of the Worcestershire Regiment was formed at Worcester in September 1914, and in January 1915 transferred to the 2nd/1st Gloucester & Worcester Brigade of the 2nd/1st South Midlands Division at Northampton. They moved to Chelmsford in March/April 1915 and in August 1915 the formation became part of the 183rd Brigade of the 61st Division and was on Salisbury Plain in February/March 1916. The Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Le Havre, France on 24/25 May 1916. The Division was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1916: the Attack at Fromelles; and during 1917: the Operations on the Ancre, the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Langemarck, and the Cambrai Operations.

On 11 February 1918 the Battalion absorbed personnel from the 2nd/7th Battalion and transferred to the 182nd Brigade of the 61st Division and that Division was engaged in actions on the Western Front including, from 21 March 1918, the Battle of St Quentin, which was the start of the German assault, Operation Michael, when the Germans launched a major offensive against the British Fifth Army, and the right wing of the British Third Army. The artillery bombardment began at 4.40am on 21 March 1918, and hit targets over an area of 150 square miles, the biggest barrage of the entire war. Over 1,100,000 shells were fired in five hours.

The actions of Operation Michael have already been described in some detail . However, the 2nd/8th Worcesters were in the thick of the first day’s action:

‘The fourteen German divisions … had little difficulty in capturing the forward defences of the 30th and 61st Divisions. But … the line of redoubts put up a much more prolonged resistance …’.[4]

‘A mile north of Manchester Hill in the 182nd Brigade sector was the Ellis Redoubt. The brigade was responsible for an area which ran from the southern edge of Fayet to the old Roman road running out of St Quentin towards Selency. On 21 March the 2/8th Worcestershire Regiment was in the Forward Zone with its two forward companies manning a series of posts between Roses Wood in the south and the edge of Fayet to the north, each of which was linked by a shallow communication trench. Battalion headquarters was in the Ellis Redoubt which drew its name from the officer commanding 201/Field Company, and it was the sappers of 201/Field Company that constructed the redoubt and sited it on the banks either side of the Vallee du Chemin 1’Abbaye about half-a-mile east of Selency. … In addition to the fire power of B Company the redoubt also housed two trench mortars and two Vickers machine guns. Very little exists today as to what happened here but we are told the Worcesters held on until 5.30pm when their ammunition ran out and the fall of the Enghien Redoubt on their left flank had left the German infantry from IR 109 and GR 110 free to deal with them. The Official British History records that only one officer and six men made it back to brigade headquarters that evening.’[5]

The 2nd/8th Battalion Diary[6] provides a more detailed summary of the actions on 21 March 1918.

20 March 1918: – Enemy quiet. Our patrols active keeping gaps in enemy wire open. Evacuated part of our outpost line during 2/6th Warwick’s raid from 9-11pm.

21 March – 4.40am: – Enemy started intense bombardment of our line with 5.9s and trench mortars. Gas shells used in Selency Valley against Ellis Redoubt. Morning very thick mist mild & still.

2.30pm: – Report received at Brigade HQ from time to time of fighting in the whole forward zone, at 2.30pm the last messenger that got away from Ellis Redoubt reports garrison completely surrounded.

5pm: – One officer & 10 OR returned from line of resistance and report enemy in large numbers in all forward zones. Ellis Redoubt surrounded but still fighting. No one relieved from forward zone after this time. Major Davis now commanding Bn. Lt Col Bilton being in command of Brigade.

7.30pm: – Sent patrol to endeavor to get to Ellis Redoubt they failed to do so as the enemy were assembling in large numbers along the whole Savy-Hulnon Road. There was no sign of any fighting in the forward zone. Missing [20 officers listed]. Wounded [1 officer listed].   Missing 566 O.R.. 1 O.R. to C.C.S. sick. Wounded 18 O.R.

Transport moved from Germaine to Matigny arrived at midnight. Details left Germaine at 2pm and marched to Ligny-l’Equipée and formed with other details with an entrenching Battalion – Dug posts on the line Ugny – Douilly Road.

22 March: – Posts completed & manned. Ordered to withdraw to Offoy where posts were manned. Transport moved to Billancourt arrived at 11pm.

William Haggar, aged 28, would have been one of those 566 Other Ranks Missing from the Battalion, and whilst many were probably surrounded and captured, he was one of about 22 men from the Battalion, who were ‘Killed in Action’ on 21 March and whose bodies were never found. Because of the intensity of the battle, and as the Germans were moving forward, many of those killed were never found or formally identified.

William Muston Haggar is remembered on Panel 41 of the Pozieres Memorial. Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert. The Memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery.

The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918. The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.[7]

William was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in battle’; the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

After William’s death, the allies continued to withdraw, until they were able to hold the advance which had badly weakened the Germans and overextended their supply lines. Then in August 1918 the allies fought back. During this period William’s Battalion would have been involved in the Actions at the Somme Crossings, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune, the Battle of the Selle, and the Battle of Valenciennes.   The 2nd/8th Battalion ended the war in France, south of Valenciennes on 11 November 1918.[8]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on William Muston Haggar 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, December 2017.

[1]       The London Gazette, 27 July 1917, Supplement:30209, Page:7768; also The Edinburgh Gazette, 30 July 1917, Issue:13121, Page:1562.

[2]       From: http://www.inmemories.com/Cemeteries/pozieresmem.htm#up.

[3]       Stacke, Capt. H. FitzM., Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War, Vol. 2.

[4]       Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918 – the Fifth Army Retreat, Pen and Sword Books Ltd, 2014, ISBN: 978 1 78159 2670, p.59.

[5]       Murland, Jerry, Retreat and Rearguard Somme 1918 – the Fifth Army Retreat, Pen and Sword Books Ltd, 2014, ISBN: 978 1 78159 2670, p.66-67.

[6]       From War Diary: 2/8 Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, TNA Ref: WO 95/3057/2, 1918 Feb.-1919 Apr..

[7]       Information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site at https://www.cwgc.org/ .

[8]       https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/327/worcestershire-regiment/

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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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.

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.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HM