William Charles Layton, Redhill boy given military funeral

Written by Moira Nairn

William Charles Layton was born on 28th May 1898, the first son and third child of Charles Robert Layton and Clara Layton née Clarke. Both parents had been born in South London but, by 1901, had settled with their family in 24 Fengates Road, Redhill where Charles worked as an upholsterer and picture framer. Sadly, in the same year of William’s birth, his sister, Mary Elizabeth, died. A fourth child, Frederick Charles Layton, was born in 1907.

William Charles joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at the age of 16, joining up on 18th May 1915. After training, he was quartered in the borough where he was working as an orderly.

Newspaper report on William Charles Layton's funeral

Newspaper report on William Charles Layton’s funeral

He took ill suddenly and died of peritonitis on 3rd March 1916. A gun carriage carried his coffin to Reigate cemetery where the Last Post was played and a firing party was deployed. His burial on 8th March was reported in a local paper.


‘The 2/5th Battalion on the Queen’s West Surrey Regiment, who are quartered in the Borough, have lost a very promising and popular soldier in the person of Pte W.C. Layton, who died after a very short illness on the Reigate and Redhill Hospital on Friday morning and was buried on Wednesday at the Reigate Cemetery with military honours. Pte Layton, the son of Mr C. R. Layton, 24 Fengates-rd., was a keen soldier. He enlisted in the 2/5th Queen’s on the 18th of May 1915, at the age of sixteen, and, with the military training he received at Windsor and other places developed and looked older than he really was. Since the battalion had been in the Borough he has been engaged as a clerk in the orderly room. He was suddenly taken ill last week and removed to the hospital, where he died in the early hours of Friday morning in the presence of his father and mother.

A large number of people witnessed the funeral, which was of an impressive character. The coffin, draped with the Union Jack, was taken on a gun carriage drawn by six horses to Shrewsbury Hall, the Plymouth Brethern Mission, where deceased attended regularly prior to joining the Army. Mr Joseph Burt and Mr F. Kent conducted a service, and kindly and sympathetic reference was made to the dead solider.

After the service the cortege proceeded to Reigate Cemetery, headed by a firing party under Sergt. Tovey. The band of the Battalion attended, and played suitable music en route. The mourning coaches were followed by the “B” Company of the Battalion, to which Pte Layton was attached. Lte.-Col. St. B. Sladen, the Acting Adjutant, Lieut. Chase, and Regtl.-Sergt.-Major Childs were also present.

The mourners included Mr and Mrs C.R. Layton (father and mother), Miss Cissie Layton and Master Fred Layton (sister and brother) and his aunts and cousins. The Battalion Chaplain conducted the service at the graveside. Three volleys were fired and the Last Post being sounded on the bugles, the company dispersed. A number of floral tributes marked the love and affection and esteem in which Pte Layton was held. They were sent by the mother and father, sister and brother, grandma, “Horace.” Aunt Sophie, Aunt Fanny and cousins Flo and Nellie, Mrs Haylar, Mr and Mrs Manning, Mr and Mrs Gandy, the Misses Woodman and Crawley, Mrs. Canter, and Mr and Mrs Bacon. Lt-Col. St. B Sladen, officers and men of the Battalion sent a wreath, Lieut. Sparks a floral tribute, and the men of “B” company also subscribed for a permanent token of respect. The funeral arrangements were placed in the hands of Messrs Geo.Comber and Sons.’

Keith Field, William’s great nephew recalls his grandfather, Frederick Charles Layton, speaking of his childhood memory of the guns being sounded over the coffin. Nine years of age at the time of his brother’s death, the brothers had been close.

Photograph of William Charles Layton with surround

Photograph of William Charles Layton with surround.

The newspaper report concluded by mentioning a ‘permanent token of respect’ given by his regiment to the family. It does not specify what that might be. However, Keith Field has in his possession a framed tribute containing a photo of his great-uncle. The rear of the frame has two metal stamps, one with his great-uncle’s name and service number, and the other with the name of his battalion.

Might this be the ‘token of respect’ referred to in the article?

My thanks to Keith Field for sharing this information about his maternal great-uncle. Keith and his father, Charles Field have also been interviewed as part of the Oral History project where they talk about Charles Field’s Uncle Charles’ WW1 service.

Surrey Submariners who lost their lives in the Great War

In 1911 the British Admiralty was of the view that submarines were an ungentlemanly form of warfare, as they relied on stealth, and should not be used for military purposes. During the Great War submarines were used increasingly by both the British and German navies.

Submarines can be traced back to drawing made by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th Century. The first, reliably documented, submersible vessel was built in 1620 by Cornelis Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England.

In 1864, late in the American Civil War, the Confederate navy’s H. L. Hunley became the first military submarine to sink an enemy vessel, the Union sloop-of-war USS Housatonic. In the aftermath of its successful attack against the ship, the Hunley also sank, possibly because it was too close to its own exploding torpedo.

In 1881 the Fenian Ram, designed by John Philip Holland, was launched by the Delamater Iron Company in New York. Built with funding from the Fenians’ Skirmishing Fund. The Fenian was an Irish republican organization founded in the United States in 1858 and the submarine was intended to be used against the British. It was never actually put into service.

Submarines were used increasingly during the First World War. They were still relatively fragile craft and were forced to spend much of the time on the surface as their batteries to power the electric motors used underwater had limited capacity. On the surface they generally used diesel engines which produced toxic fumes and therefore could not be used when submerged.

Many men lost their lives in submarines during the First World War, of these the following came from or had links to Surrey.

HM Submarine D2

HM Submarine D2 was one of eight D-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during the first decade of the 20th century. Built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness and commissioned on 29th March 1911. On 28 August 1914, D2 fought in the Battle of Heligoland Bight. Lieutenant Commander Jameson was washed overboard off Harwich on 23rd November and as a result Lieutenant Commander Head took over command. D2 was rammed and sunk by a German patrol boat off Borkum, off the coast of Germany, on 25 November 1914, leaving no survivors.

ROLFE, Charles Burt: Leading Seaman

HM Submarine D6

HM Submarine D6 was one of eight D-class submarine built for the Royal Navy during the first decade of the 20th century. Built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness and commissioned on 19th April 1912. D6 was sunk by UB-73 73 miles north of Inishtrahull Island off the west coast of Ireland on 24th or 28th June 1918.

EVERSFIELD, Frederick: Able Seaman

HM Submarine E3

HM Submarine E3 was the third E-class submarines to be constructed, built at Barrow by Vickers in 1911-1912. Built with compartmentalisation and endurance not previously achievable, these were the best submarines in the Royal Navy at the start of the First World War. She was sunk in the first ever successful attack on one submarine by another, when she was torpedoed on 18th October 1914 by U-27.

BARROW, John Gerald: Sub-Lieutenant

HM Submarine E4

HM Submarine E4 was a British E class submarine built by Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness, costing £101,900. E4 was laid down on 16th May 1911, launched on 5th February 1912 and commissioned on 28th January 1913. On 24th September 1915 E4 was attacked by the German airship SL3. On 15th August 1916, she collided with sister ship E41 during exercises off Harwich. Both ships sank and there were only 14 survivors, all from E41. Both boats were raised, repaired and recommissioned. She was sold on 21st February 1922 to the Upnor Ship Breaking Company.

PRESKETT, Harry: Leading Seaman

HM Submarine E5

HM Submarine E5 was a British E-class submarine built by Vickers Barrow-in-Furness. She was laid down on 9th June 1911 and commissioned on 28th June 1913. She cost £106,700. The E5 was lost on 7th March 1916 while rescuing the survivors of the trawler Resono, just north of Juist (Germany) in the North Sea. In 2016 divers found the wreck of E5 off the island of Schiermonnikoog, (Holland). Her hatches were open, which suggests that the crew had tried to escape. There was no sign of damage to her hull, indicating that she had not sunk as a result of enemy action.

ALDRED, Albert: Stoker (1st Class)

HM Submarine E11

HM Submarine E11 was an E-class submarine of the Royal Navy launched on 23rd April 1914. E11 was one of the most successful submarines in action during the 1915 naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign, sinking over 80 vessels of all sizes in three tours of the Sea of Marmara. 19 ratings on Submarine E11, received the Distinguished Service Medal in connection with the sorties by Submarine E11 into the Dardanelles to attack Turkish Warships and transports supporting or resupplying the Turkish defence of Gallipoli. The E11 was sold for scrap in March 1921.

LAKE, William Theophilus: Engine Room Artificer 4th Class
NASMITH, Martin Eric: Commander
SHARPE, J, Able Seaman

HM Submarine E14

HM Submarine E14 was a British E class submarine built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness and commissioned on 18th November 1914. Her hull cost £105,700. During the First World War, two of her captains were awarded the Victoria Cross, and a large number of her officers and men also decorated. She was sunk by shellfire from coastal batteries in the Dardanelles on 28 January 1918.

PITHER, Henry: Leading Seaman
RANDALL, John Benjamin Baldwin: Chief Engineroom Artificer
WHITE, Geoffrey Saxton: Lieutenant Commander

HM Submarine E15

HM Submarine E15 was launched on 23rd April 1914. During the First world War, E15 served in the Mediterranean, participating in the Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire. On 16th April 1915, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Theodore S. Brodie, E15 sailed from her base at Mudros (Greece) and attempted to break through the Dardanelles to the Sea of Marmara. Early in the morning of 17th April, the submarine, having dived too deep, become caught in the vicious current and ran near Kepez Point, directly under the guns of Fort Dardanos. E15 was soon hit and disabled; Brodie was killed in the conning tower by shrapnel and six of the crew were killed by chlorine gas released when the submarine’s batteries were exposed to seawater after a second shell strike. Forced to evacuate the vessel, the remaining crew surrendered, to be incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp near Istanbul where six later died. Lieutenant Price was one of the prisoners of war and died of pneumonia.

PRICE, Edward John: Lieutenant

HM Submarine E16

HM Submarine E16 was built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furnes. She was laid down on 15th May 1913 and was commissioned on 27th February 1915. Her hull cost £105,700. E16 was the first E-class to sink a U-boat. U-6 was sunk off Karmøy island near Stavanger, Norway on 15th September 1915. E16 was sunk by a mine in Heligoland Bight on 22nd August 1916. There were no survivors.

BULBECK, William Henry: Able Seaman

HM Submarine E.18

HM Submarine E18 was an E-class submarin, launched in 1915 and lost in the Baltic Sea in May 1916 while operating out of Reval (Estonia). The exact circumstances surrounding the sinking remain a mystery. In October 2009, the wreck of HM Submarine E18 was discovered by a Remote Operated Vehicle deployed by the Swedish survey vessel MV Triad. The position of the wreck lies off the coast of Hiiumaa, Estonia. Photographs taken of the wreck show the submarine with its hatch open, suggesting that it struck a mine while sailing on the surface

BAGG, Edwin Albert: Chief Petty Officer
EDWARDS, Clement Harry: Leading Telegraphist

HM Submarine E 20

HM Submarine E 20 , built by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness, was laid down on 25th November 1914 and commissioned on 30th August 1915. She was sunk, torpedoed by UB-14, on 6th November 1915. Operating in the eastern Mediterranean, E20 was scheduled to rendez-vous with the French submarine Turquoise on 6th November 1915. However, on 30th October, Turkish forces sank the Turquoise off Nagara Point in the Dardanelles, refloating her shortly afterwards and retrieving intact her confidential papers. Unaware of her plight, E20 attempted to keep the rendez-vous. The Imperial German Navy submarine UB-14, which was at Constantinople, was sent to intercept E20, reportedly going so far as to radio messages in the latest British code. Upon arriving at the designated location, UB-14 surfaced and fired a torpedo at E20 from a distance of 550 yards. E20’s crew saw the torpedo, but it was too late to avoid the weapon. The torpedo hit E20’s conning tower and sank her with the loss of 21 men. UB-14 rescued nine, including E20’s captain, Clyfford Harris Warren, who was detained as a prisoner of war until 21st November 1918.

WARREN, Clyfford Harris: Lieutenant-Commander

HM Submarine E24

HM Submarine E24 was launched on 9th December 1915 and was commissioned on 9th January 1916. She left Harwich on the morning of 21st March 1916 to lay mines in the Heligoland Bight, off the coast of Germany. She did not return from the mission, and was logged as missing on 24th March 1916. Human remains found in the wreck during a salvage operation in 1973 were buried in Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg.

TRENDELL, Frederick Arthur: Able Seaman

HM Submarine E26

HM Submarine E26 was built by William Beardmore and Company, Dalmuir. She was one of a pair of submarines ordered by the Ottoman Navy on 29th April 1914, but taken over by the Royal Navy and assigned the E26 name. She was laid down in November 1914, launched on 11th November 1915, and commissioned on 3rd October 1915.

HMS E26 was lost with all hands in the North Sea, probably in the vicinity of the eastern River Ems (North Western Germany), on or about 3rd July 1916. Her wreck has been found by a group of Dutch divers in 2006.

ATKIN-BERRY, Harold Harding: Lieutenant

HM Submarine E36

HM Submarine E36 was built by John Brown, Clydebank, for the Royal Navy. She was laid down on 7th January 1915 and commissioned on 16th November 1916. E36 was sunk in a collision with E43 off Harwich in the North Sea on 19th January 1917. There were no survivors.

CONEY, Herbert Henry: Petty Officer Stoker

HM Submarine E37

HM Submarine E37 was built by Fairfield, Govan, Clyde. She was laid down on 25th September 1915 and was commissioned on 17th March 1916. E37 was lost in the North Sea on 1st December 1916. There were no survivors.

HARLOCK, Philip: Lieutenant

HM Submarine E50

HM Submarine E 50 was built by John Brown, Clydebank. She was laid down on 14th November 1916 and commissioned on 23rd January 1917. E50 was damaged in a collision with the Imperial German Navy submarine UC-62 while submerged in the North Sea off the North Hinder Light Vessel on 19th March 1917. She was lost on 1st February 1918. It was believed that she struck a mine in the North Sea off the South Dogger Light Vessel. In 2011 the wreck was found by a Danish Expedition much closer to the Danish coast, 65 Nautical Miles west of Nymindegab.

HARDS, William Walter Jordan: Leading Stoker

HM Submarine G8

The G-class submarines were designed by the Admiralty in response to a rumour that the Germans were building double-hulled submarines. She was commissioned on 30th June 1916. Her last patrol began from Tees on 27th December 1917, leaving with the submarine HMS G12 and the destroyer HMS Medea for the Kattegat. She was ordered to start her voyage back on or shortly after 3rd January 1918. She never arrived at Tees and was not heard from again. She was officially declared missing on 14 January 1918. The cause remains unknown

ARMSTRONG, Philip Furlong: Sub-Lieutenant. Served on HMS Warspite during the Battle of Jutland.

HM Submarine H3

HM Submarine H3 was built by Canadian Vickers Co, Montreal. She was laid down on 11th January 1915 and commissioned on 3rd June 1915. After commissioning she crossed the Atlantic from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Gibraltar escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Calgarian. H3 was mined in the Gulf of Cattaro, Adriatic on 15 July 1916.

SANFORD, John: Able Seaman

HM Submarine H5

HM Submarine H5 was built by Canadian Vickers Co, Montreal. Launched June 1915. She sank the U-boat U 51 in July 1916. H5 sunk after being rammed by the British merchantman Rutherglen, mistaken for a German U-boat, on 2 March 1918. All on board perished.

COLBRAN, Charles John: Petty Officer

HM Submarine H10

HM Submarine H10 was by the Canadian Vickers Co., Montreal. She was commissioned in June 1915. H10 was lost in the North Sea, reasons unknown, on 19th January 1918.

BRANCH, Robert Douglas: Petty Officer

HM Submarine K4

HM Submarine K4 was built by Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness. She was laid down on 28th June 1915 and commissioned on 1st January 1917. She was lost on 31st January 1918 during the night time fleet exercises later known as the Battle of May Island. She was lost with all hands. The Battle of May Island is the name given to the series of accidents that occurred during Operation E.C.1 in 1918. Named after the Isle of May, an island in the Firth of Forth. On the misty night of 31st January to 1st February 1918, five collisions occurred between eight vessels. Two submarines were lost and three other submarines and a light cruiser were damaged. 104 men died, all of them Royal Navy.

CORFIELD, Alfred Abe Benjamin: Petty Officer

HM Submarine K5

HM Submarine K5 was commissioned in 1917. She was lost with all hands when she sank en route to a mock battle in the Bay of Biscay. George Booker was swept overboard on 31st July 1918, his body was never recovered

BOOKER, George Lewis: Chief Stoker

HM Submarine L11

HM Submarine L11 was built by Vickers Limited, Barrow-in-Furness, She was laid down on 17th January 1917 and commissioned on 27th June 1918. She was one of five boats in the class to be fitted as a minelayer. The L11 survived the war and was sold for scrap in 1932. Leonard Gale was assigned to HMS Lucia, a submarine Depot Ship supporting the 10th flotilla which included submarines E27, E33, E39, E40, E42, E44, L11, L16, L20 and L55. His death is recorded as accidental.

GALE, Leonard Frank: Able Seaman

HM Submarine L.55

HM Submarine L.55 was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan, Clyde. She was laid down on 21st September 1917 and was commissioned on 19th December 1918. On 4th June 1919 (some sources say it was 9th June), while serving as part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, the submarine unsuccessfully attacked two Bolshevik destroyers that were laying mines to protect Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and in so doing suffered damage and was sunk. L55 was raised in 1928 and refitted for the Russian Navy, she finally was scrapped in the 1953.

CRYSELL, Albert William: Able Seaman

Private Albert Edward Tickner

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte A E Tickner
12th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Killed in action, 4.6.1918
Age, 23

E A Tickner, a former pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), Weybridge is commemorated on the school’s Memorial Board to the Fallen of the Great War, but no such person appears in the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). However, Albert Edward Tickner who was born in Addlestone (c.1895) and by 1911 lived with his family in Pelican Lane, Hamm Moor, Weybridge is listed among the dead on the CWGC’s site. He is known as Edward on Census returns but as Albert Edward in his military records which also confirm his biographical details.

He was the third child of William and Elizabeth (nee Wilson) Tickner who were married at Holy Trinity Church, Aldershot on 10 June 1889. William John was a soldier who had been born in Walton-on-Thames in about 1864 and Lizzie had been born in Ireland in about 1865. In 1901 they lived in Simplemarsh Road in Addlestone and William earned his living as a machine minder in a flour mill. They had five children by 1911: William, Mary, Edward, Kathleen and Arthur. Edward was a shop assistant with the grocery business, International Stores.

Two years later, on 25 November 1913, Edward or as he now becomes known, Albert, joined the East Surrey Regiment’s Territorial Force for a period of four years and was allocated to the 1/6th Battalion (2060). He stood five feet and four inches tall and was 17 years and 6 months of age. For the first three years of the First World War he was home based but from 22 September 1917 he was part of the British Expeditionary Force, embarking from Folkestone the next day. From 2 October he served with the 12th Battalion of the East Surreys. Albert spent two weeks at La Danne in training before being involved in coastal defence near Nieuport Bains, here he had his first experience of enemy artillery and aeroplane action. By the end of November Albert’s battalion was on the Italian Front to reinforce the Italians following their retreat after the Central Powers attacked at Caporetto on 24 October. They remained in Italy until the end of February 1918. The battalion was mostly based in the Montello Range sector where they became used to active artillery and aerial action; on 8 December the Italians brought down a German plane and the injured pilot was very surprised to find himself among British troops! After some respite in billets Albert and his comrades returned to the line on Christmas Eve, they spent the following day in working parties and repairing wire. They had had their Christmas dinner on the 21st.

The 12th East Surreys returned to France on 3 March and after two weeks training were in the line in front of Sapignes. They were caught up in the onslaught of the German Spring Offensive and retreated to a line south of Gommecourt. At the beginning of April, they transferred to the Ypres Salient taking up a position on Passchendaele Ridge where they had a relatively quiet time. Albert’s final location from 2 May was in the Ypres Sector itself where the city was under constant artillery attack. He was in the line from the 25 May until 3 June when there was heavy artillery action from both sides. Albert’s military records say that he was killed on 3/4 June although there is no mention of a fatality at that time in the war diary. However, the diary gives the total number of casualties for June as 3 other ranks killed and 19 wounded. Albert was one of the three fatalities, probably killed in the course of his battalion being relieved on 3/4 June, always a vulnerable time.

Albert is buried in Hagle Dump Cemetery (1.B.5) at West Vlaenderen 75 km west of Ypres (Ieper). His brothers both served in the war and survived; William in the Royal Garrison Artillery and Arthur in the 52nd Bedfords. William died in 1969 and Arthur in 1981. After their mother’s death in 1909 their father remained at his home in Hamm Moor Lane until his death in 1935. He remarried twice, first to Annie Elizabeth Sheldon in August 1913 at St Paul’s Church, Addlestone and after Annie’s death, in 1922, to May Agnes Jackson in 1924. A son, Anthony Charles, was born from this last marriage.


British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk
Tickner & Hyttenrauch Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk

After the Armistice – a Soldier’s View

At 11am on November 11 1918 the Armistice between France, Britain, and Germany came into effect.

After four years of fighting the war on the Western Front was brought to a halt. Away from the Western Front fighting continued while peace negotiations got under way and it took many more years to finally end the Great War. The Armistice was prolonged three times between 1918 and 1920 although the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was the most important of the peace treaties that finally brought the Great War to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923; this Treaty officially settled the conflict that had originally existed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied French Republic, British Empire, Kingdom of Italy, Empire of Japan, Kingdom of Greece, and the Kingdom of Romania since the onset of the Great War.

The signing of the 1918 Armistice was greeted with varied responses. In many Allied towns and cities – especially those freed from enemy occupation – there were scenes of happiness. Big Ben rang out in London for the first time since 1914. However, the celebratory mood was tempered by the grief of the many thousands who mourned for the war dead.

For the troops remaining on the Western Front the situation had suddenly changed, from living in daily fear of death to peace and potential boredom following the Armistice. British officers struggled to maintain a sense of order and discipline amongst the men in their command, many of whom wanted to get home as quickly as possible.

One officer wrote home to a relative a few weeks after the Armistice and described the situation:

“I am afraid there is not much to tell you about Peace celebrations out here. We had a most mouldy time. In fact I’ve seldom spent a more depressing day than November 11th, and everybody I’ve met from other units says the same.”

“I don’t think the people at home realise that this period between peace and demobilisation is going to be much the most trying one for the soldier, more trying than any battle.”

Click on the images below to see and read Franklin Lushington’s original letter (SHC ref: 7854/4/7/4/26)

Click here to read a transcript of the letter(pdf PDF).

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens at 36 Kensington Square (SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens at 36 Kensington Square (SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

The author of the letter was Franklin Lushington (1892-1964), son of Sydney George Lushington. He was educated at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, England and served as a Second Lieutenant and later Captain with the Royal Garrison Artillery and served with the poet Edward Thomas. He was a novelist and wrote The Gambardier: giving some account of the heavy and siege artillery in France, 1914-1918 (written under the pen name Mark Severn, 1930) and Portrait of a Young Man (1940), both of which include descriptions of his service in World War I, and Cottage in Kyrenia (1952). He fought in the Second World War, where he was mentioned in despatches. He held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel between 1939 and 1943 in the Royal Artillery. He died on 2 September 1964 at age 72, following a car crash.

Franklin was writing to Susan Lushington. During World War I and World War II Susan corresponded with a large number of servicemen who were based at the army camp at Bordon near her Kingsley home. They were invited into her home to share her musical interests, and later wrote back to her from the front line. Read more about Susan and her correspondence with soldiers. An archive of Susan’s correspondence is now held at Surrey History Centre, along with many other papers relating to the Lushington family. There is more about the Lushingtons on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website where it is possible to browse the collection of family papers.

Private Harold Alfred Pook

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte H A Pook
1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, attd. 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Killed in action, 3.5.1917
Age, 20

On 8 June 1917 the Surrey Herald carried a plea from a desperate father, Mr J D Pook, seeking information about his son Harold Alfred who had been reported missing after ‘an engagement in France’ on 3 May. Mr Pook hoped to hear news of his son as the Herald was ‘…..so widely read both at home and at the Front.’ Harold was killed in the brutal Arras Offensive but his story had begun twenty years earlier; his birth was registered in the Chertsey District in the first quarter of 1897. He was the eldest child of James Doddridge, a bricklayer, who went on to become a builder’s foreman, and Florence (nee Humphreys) who had married the year before. Three more children followed – George, Phoebe and Freda. In 1901 their home was at Gladstone Villa in Oakdale Road, Weybridge and by 1911 they had moved to Sunnymead in New Haw. Harold was educated at St James’ School (Baker Street) before becoming a plumber’s mate.

He enlisted in Addlestone, when is not known, and was initially posted to the Royal Sussex Regiment (4/5324) before his connection to the 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers and eventually being attached to the 4th Battalion in early April 1917. In the two months before he joined them Harold’s final unit were based in and around Arras, either in the trenches or occupied in working parties. They received 87 reinforcements to the ranks on 4 April; it is likely that Harold was one of them. He was just in time to be engulfed in the Arras Offensive which began five days later. This was a major operation intended to break through the German lines and end the stalemate on the Western Front.

The 4th Royal Fusiliers left their assembly trenches at 7 am on 9 April. They reached the last trench of the old German front line but then came under heavy shell and shrapnel fire which increased as they descended a slope. They were then forced to stop for a few minutes to allow the creeping barrage to move on, however, the right flank had been caught by the barrage and had ‘suffered considerably’. The enemy trenches were captured as the wire had been well cut by the artillery. The day had cost the battalion 2 officers killed, 4 wounded, 37 other ranks killed, 126 wounded and 30 reported missing. Harold’s unit held their position during the next day and moved to an assembly position on 11 April to continue the advance.

At 6.45 pm on 13 April they moved forward once again. They had to endure three enemy barrages and came under heavy machine gun fire on both flanks. The unit made it to a sunken road where they were held up by severe rifle fire; only three officers remained with the companies. The battalion had left their assembly point just one and a quarter hours earlier; 3 officers were dead, 2 wounded, 12 other ranks were dead, 40 wounded and 34 missing. They were ordered to withdraw. Harold and his comrades spent the rest of the month in billets in Arras or Duisans carrying out training, parades and inducting reinforcements. Their respite was brief.

On 1 May the 4th Royal Fusiliers went into trenches east of Monchy-le-Preux. Two days later they attacked once again. At 3.45 am on the 3rd their supporting barrage lifted and advanced in waves of 100 yards with the battalion following at a distance of 75 yards. Not long after starting they were hit by heavy machine gun fire from the right flank and there were heavy casualties as the German front line had been left untouched by the advancing barrage. Upcoming support had been decimated crossing no man’s land and the unit did not have enough strength to complete their mission despite repeated attempts to hold on as their right flank was rolled up by the enemy. The leading companies reached the line 100 yards east of the Bois des Aubepives and dug in. They faced two counter attacks the second of which came from three directions. The two leading waves of the unit were feared to have been cut off, yet the remainder of the battalion held its ground until nightfall with just one officer left. They then retired to their original position.

The 3 May 1917 cost the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers the following casualties: 4 officers killed, 4 wounded, 3 reported missing, 30 other ranks killed, 156 wounded, 99 missing and three suffering with shell shock. Harold was reported missing, presumed dead. It is not surprising that the army could give little information to Harold’s anxious parents considering the events of that day. The 4ths had been attacking a major defensive part of the Hindenburg Line which resulted in fierce, bloody, attritional combat. The Arras Offensive came to an end three days later; no breakthrough had been made.

Harold’s body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial (Bay 9) with almost 35,000 other casualties. He is also remembered at St Paul’s Church and Victory Park in Addlestone and on the Memorial to the Fallen of St James’ School in Weybridge. Harold’s father died in 1935 and his mother in 1952.


England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1856-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
War Memorials, www.thegenealogist.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Elizabeth Spencer Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk

Surrey Casualties at the Battle of Coronel, 1 November 1914

The Battle of Coronel was a First World War Imperial German Naval victory over the Royal Navy on 1st November 1914, off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel.

On 4 October 1914, the British learned from an intercepted radio message that German Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee planned to attack shipping on the trade routes along the west coast of South America. British Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock cabled the Admiralty, on October 22nd, that he was going to round Cape Horn. Cradock’s Squadron consisted of the armoured cruisers HMS Good Hope (flagship) and HMS Monmouth, the modern light cruiser HMS Glasgow, the armed merchantman HMS Otranto. Spee had a superior force of five modern vessels, the armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the light cruisers SMS Dresden, Leipzig and Nürnberg.

Whilst in Coronel harbour HMS Glasgow intercepted radio messages between the German supply ship Göttingen and Vice-Admiral Spee which suggested that German warships were close. Spee decided to move his ships to Coronel, to trap HMS Glasgow, while Admiral Cradock hurried north to catch SMS Leipzig.

At 09:15 on 1 November, HMS Glasgow left port to meet Cradock at noon, west of Coronel. At 16:17 SMS Leipzig, accompanied by the other German ships, spotted smoke from the line of British ships. Spee ordered SMS Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Leipzig to full speed to intercept. At 16:20, HMS Glasgow and Otranto saw smoke to the north and then three ships, the British reversed direction, so that both fleets were moving south and a chase began. Cradock was faced with a choice; the three faster cruisers could outrun the Germans but this meant abandoning HMS Otranto, or all the vessels stayed and fought. At 17:10, Cradock decided he must fight.

At around 19.30 HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth were hit and caught fire, making them easier targets for the German gunners. HMS Good Hope was hit repeatedly and around 19.50 her forward section exploded, she broke apart and sank. HMS Monmouth attempted to reach the Chilean coast but was hit and sunk by shells from SMS Nürnberg. There were no survivors from either Good Hope or Monmouth, 1,600 British officers and men were dead, including Admiral Cradock. HMS Glasgow and HMS Otranto both escaped.

A memorial to Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, K.C.V.O.C.B. and the officers and men under his command was placed in Saint John’s Church in Concepción, Chile.

Of the men lost during the Battle of Coronel the following had Surrey connections.

HMS Good Hope

Bashford, Alfred, Able Seaman
BROWN, George Shipton, Lance Corporal
CHEESMAR, Stanley William, Able Seaman
COTTER, Francis John Anson, Sub-Lieutenant
DAVID, Charlie, Stoker 1st Class
ELSON, George Edward, Stoker 1st Class
FISHER, John Maurice Haig, Lieutenant
FLOWERS, George, Joiner
GASKELL, Gerald Bruce, Lt-Commander
GOSLING, John, Able Seaman
HOPTON, Thomas Francis, Mechanician
LARBY, Walter, Stoker 1st Class
ROYAL, Arthur Charles, Able Seaman
SMITH, William Wilton, Able Seaman
TAPLIN, Percy Charles, Stoker 1st Class
TRUSSLER, Frederick James, Private

TUDOR, Douglas Courtenay, Lieutenant
WHICHER, Frederick, Able Boy

HMS Monmouth

BAGOT, Maurice John Hervey, Lieutenant
BRYAN, Norman Ford, Ordinary Seaman
COOPER, John, Fleet Paymaster
COWIE, Charles Gordon, Able Seaman
PASCOE, John Mydhope, Midshipman
SINGLETON, Eli, Able Seaman

Corporal Harry Parsons

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Cpl H Parsons
1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade
Died of wounds, 14.5.1915
Age, 26/27

Harry Parsons, a professional soldier, does not have his name engraved next to that of his younger brother William on Weybridge’s War Memorial. An H Parsons was recorded on the wooden memorial, which became known as ‘the Shrine’ and was erected in the churchyard of St James’ Church, Weybridge in March 1917. However, the regiment to which H Parsons belonged was named as the R Irish Regt not the Rifle Brigade – very possibly a mistake, of which more later.

Harry was the oldest of seven surviving children born to John Crispin and Rose (nee Knight) who married on 25 October 1885 at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex; they were both natives of the county. Harry was born in Ditchling in 1888 where he was baptised on 9 September. John Parsons was a gardener and in 1901 held the position of head gardener at Ivy House in North Road in Ditchling. Ten years later the family were living at New Lodge in Old Avenue, Weybridge where John was employed. In 1911, Harry’s siblings were William, James, Joseph and the twins Frank and Nellie and Rose. Three years earlier Harry had joined the army.

His service dated from 30 June 1908; he stood almost five feet and six inches tall, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. Before joining the military he had been a vanman. Harry confirmed that he was an Anglican. He arrived at the Rifle Brigade depot in Winchester on 6 July 1908 and was posted to the 3rd Battalion on 5 August. Harry saw service in Ireland (Tipperary) in 1911 and 1912 being promoted to L/Cpl on 4 May 1911 before returning to the ranks, at his own request, on 2 July 1913. He went to France in September 1914 but was reported, as an Acting Corporal, to have been wounded in the casualty list submitted on 2 December. His recovery seems to have taken some time as he did not return to the fighting until 7 April 1915 with the 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade when they were billeted at Ploegsteert (Ypres Salient) and in the surrounding area. A location they had inhabited for much of the time since the previous November and where they had done great hard work to improve the conditions of the trenches and the drainage system. An attempt, in November, to capture enemy defences had failed at great cost.

Harry’s return to the trenches came on 12 April at St Yves; he and his comrades were relieved on 15 April and remained in billets until the 23rd during which time they were occupied with route marching, drilling and musket training. The following day they entrained en route to Poperinghe from where they moved on to St Jean marching via the stone bridge just north of Ypres on 25 April. The second Battle of Ypres had begun two days earlier with the Germans trying yet again to take the beleaguered city. Harry and his comrades were shelled pretty constantly for the next three days before moving forward to dig in on the side of Hill 37. They must have welcomed the two quiet days which followed. April had cost the battalion 49 deaths, 181 woundings and 23 reported missing. The early days of May were equally hard with Harry’s unit moving to dugouts on the eastern bank of the Canal de L’Yser on the 8th. The next day they took over trenches from the Royal Irish Regiment at Shell Trap Farm. These trenches had been much ‘knocked about’ but there was little opportunity to remedy the situation as they were shelled for the next two days. This was the overture to the German attack which came on 13 May. Shelling began at 4 am but the enemy was driven back at the cost of 130 casualties of whom Harry was one.

It was noted in his military records that he ‘died in the field’ the following day; his battalion was relieved on the 14th by the Royal Irish Regiment. The confusion of battle may have led to him being wrongly identified as a member of this regiment on ‘the Shrine’ in St James’ Church churchyard. Harry was buried in Hazebrouck Communal Cemetery (II.C.11) which is located on the south-western outskirts of the town, 56 km south-east of Calais. His cigar case, pouch, jack knife, pen knife, note book and Prayer Book were returned to his family who by 1915 has moved to 8, Ellesmere Cottages in Ellesmere Road. In 1918 his father no longer appears on Surrey’s Electoral Register having moved to Mount Pleasant, Tower Hill in Horsham.


British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
The Rifle Brigade 1914-1918, www.greenjackets-net.org.uk
Parsons & Edwards Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
Casualty Lists, The Times, 20 January 1915
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1908-1929, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1918, www.ancestry.co.uk

Second Lieutenant Haydn Eric William Rayner

Researched and written by Anne Wright

2/Lt H E W Rayner
3rd Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry; attd. 6th Battalion
Killed in Action, 17.3.1917
Age, 25

Junior British Officers survived, on average, six weeks in the bloodiest periods on the Western Front – Haydn Eric William Rayner joined his battalion at the front on 13 March 1917; four days later he was killed. He was born in Chelsea on 11 August 1891 to William Henry and Fanny Gertrude (nee Osborn) Rayner. Haydn’s father had drowned at sea off Bishopstone on 1 April 1891. The empty boat was discovered by the Coastguards containing just his coat and watch. Henry Rayner had been very ill and it was feared that an operation had not been successful. Besides his wife and baby son he left another son, Cecil John, aged one. The family lived at London House, 54 William Street in Herne Bay from where Henry ran a large drapery business employing six staff which he had bought in 1882 six years before his marriage to Fanny Osborn at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, Kensington and Chelsea on 26 April 1888. Haydn was baptized on 11 September 1891 in the same church. His widowed mother was only 23 years old.

In 1901 Haydn and his brother attended school in Bramshaw in Hampshire; ten years later they were both bank clerks living with their mother at 72, Albany Mansions, Albert Bridge Road, London SW. Shortly after the 1911 Census was taken Haydn left for India from Liverpool aboard the Elysia travelling via Gibraltar and Port Said to Bombay (Mumbai). He was 19 years old and journeying alone. Haydn’s occupation in India is not known neither is the date of his return to Britain but his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry records that ‘he returned to join the colours’. He married Phyllis Yolande Mack at St Paul’s Church, Princes Park, Liverpool on 23 August 1916 at which point he was already a 2/Lt in the 3rd Battalion of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry. Haydn entered the French theatre of war on 24 February 1917 but did not go into the front line until three weeks later.

He was now attached to his regiment’s 6th Battalion, his previous unit having been home based. His new battalion had been on the Western Front since 1915 and had experienced fighting in the Ypres Salient and on the Somme which is where Haydn joined them in the Morval Sector. In the early part of 1917 they had done several tours of duty being in and out of the line up to 15 March interspersed with time in camps at Carnoy and Guillemont. From then on they pursued the retreating Germans who were heading for their defensive positions at the Hindenburg Line. This took place in poor weather with zero temperatures over what has been described by the historian Mark Adkin as a ‘barren wasteland’ as the Germans perpetrated a ‘scorched earth’ policy supported by a strong rearguard action. Such was Haydn’s first and last experience of fighting on the Western Front. His final resting place is in the Guards’ Cemetery (I.D.17) at Combles, 16.5 km east of Albert.

His widow was desolate and for many years, certainly into the 1940s, remembered him in poignant ‘In Memoriam’ in the Portsmouth Evening News. This entry on 19 March 1920 illustrates how raw her grief still was:

In loving memory of my darling husband, Lt. Haydn Eric William Rayner, who was killed in action, March 17 1917, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. My hero, in death we are not divided, He has won immortal glory, he has won the King’s greatest Crown triumphant in the land of all glories, he stands at the King’s right hand waiting for me; and I until then will carry His glory through. – His sorrowing wife.

Phyllis Rayner was 27 years old at this point and after a marriage of seven months duration remained a widow for 51 years until her death on 13 October 1968. Haydn’s brother died in the same year, he appears not to have married. Their mother died in Battersea in 1949.

Haydn’s connection to Weybridge is not apparent in any of his biographical or military details. However, the sole Executor of his father’s will was Henry Fossick Wilson of Springfield Meadow, Weybridge. His wife, Jessie Dagmar Osborn, was Haydn’s aunt as she and his mother Fanny Gertrude Osborn were sisters. Jessie and Henry Wilson’s son and Haydn’s first cousin, Harold John Fossick Wilson, who died in February 1919, is also commemorated on the Weybridge Memorial.


Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times & Farmers’ Gazette, Sat. 24 June 1882
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
Lewis-Stemple, John Six Weeks The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War, London, 2010
Liverpool, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns,1754-1932, www.ancestry.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Births & Baptisms, 1813-1917. www.ancestry.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns, 1754-1932, www.ancestry.co.uk
Maude/Durham Lines, www.ancestry.co.uk
6th (Service) Battalion, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, www.lightbobs.com
6th (Service) Battalion, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry in the Great War, https://wartimememoriesproject.com
Overseas Passenger Lists, www.thegenealogist.co.uk
Walker Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
Sad Drowning Fatality, Whitstable & Herne Bay Herald, Sat. 4 April 1891

Private William James Carpenter

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte W J Carpenter
3/6th & 1/6th Battalions, East Surrey Regiment
3554 & T/241187
Died, 31.10.1918
Age, 24

William James Carpenter was born in Weybridge on 25 March 1894 but died far from home in India after 2 years and 358 days of military service. His parents, James William Hyam and Mary were not natives of Weybridge; he was born in Balingdon, Essex c. 1869 and she in Bamsbury, Berkshire c.1865. By 1901 they had settled in Weybridge at 5, Railway Terrace, Heath Road where they still lived ten years later. James Carpenter was a domestic coachman throughout this time. William was the eldest of three children and the only son. He was followed by Violet and Elizabeth. In 1911, William, a former pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), had started work as a printer’s apprentice, perhaps with Rawlings & Walsh Ltd. located in the High Street. There were also three printers in Chertsey at the time.

He attested at Kingston on 9 November 1915 when he was 21 years and 8 months old. He stood five feet eight and a half inches tall and had perfect vision. He was initially assigned to the 3/6th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment, a depot/training unit which moved to Cambridge in January 1916. William remained with them until he was posted to 1/6th Battalion on 26 March 1916 but as the 1/6th was in India he did not join them until 2 May. They had already been in India for nearly 18 months and since October 1915 had been part of the Jhelum Brigade in the 2nd Rawalapindi Division, a regular army division of the British Indian Army. They were ordered to Aden, arriving there on 7 February 1917.

Aden was not a desirable posting; garrison duty there was limited to one year because of the difficult environment. It was of vast strategic importance to British communications lying as it did on the route from Europe to India. William’s time there would have been largely taken up fighting Turkish guerrillas from Yemen. The 1/6th returned to Bombay on 15 January 1918. They then joined the Dehra Dun Brigade in the 7th (Meerut) Division and moved to the Punjab, close to the north-west frontier.

William was hospitalised between 24 April and 9 May 1918 at Chakrala (now in Pakistan). He was once again admitted to hospital in Agra on 22 October and died of influenza a week later. William’s Commanding Officer wrote that he was buried in the evening of 31 October, the day on which he died ‘…..with full military honours…..He was carried on a gun carriage covered with the Union Jack, and as he was laid to rest three shots were fired and the bugle sounded the Last Post over him…..’ He then went on to pay tribute to William: ‘I have lost a comrade, a good, honest, true Britisher from my company, a man who was popular with his fellows, true to his officers and faithful to Him Who has taken him to rest.’

He is commemorated on the Madras 1914-1918 War Memorial, (Face 15) at Chennai and is buried in Agra Cantonment Cemetery. The Memorial was created to remember nearly 1000 servicemen who are buried in many civil and cantonment cemeteries which it was once believed could not be preserved in perpetuity. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is now working to reinstate the graves of many of the men on the Memorial. When this is achieved their names will be removed. William’s parents still lived in Weybridge in 1939.


British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
Kelly’s Directory 1913, UK, City and County Directories, 1766-1946, www.ancestry.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge, Who Fell in the Great War of 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long Long Trail – East Surrey Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.findmypast.co.uk

Private W Dean

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte W Dean
Devonshire Regiment

The identity of Pte W Dean is a mystery; the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) show that two men of that name and of the Devonshire Regiment were killed in the First World War, but neither of them appears to have any connection to Weybridge. Pte William Dean (15427) of the 8th Battalion enlisted in Compton Dundon in Somerset and was killed on 4 September 1916. Unfortunately, there are no details about his parents or of a wife or of his home location with his CWGC entry. He is buried at Roclincourt Military Cemetery (III D 9) which is between Arras and Lens. The second fatality was Pte William Richard Dean (24106) of the 1st Battalion who was killed on 6 September 1917. He was born at Plymstock in Devon and enlisted in Plymouth. William became the parent of a daughter, Iris, on 5 March 1913. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier & Face I & C).

There is, however, evidence from the 1911 Census that there was a William Dean living and working in Weybridge in that year. He, his mother and his sister Lily ran The Anchor Coffee Tavern in Heath Road. William was born at Dawlish in Devon in about 1879 to Harvey and Eliza (nee Page). His father was a coachman and in 1881 the family was based at Bishopsteignton also in Devon. Ten years later they had moved to Walton-on-Thames, living in Sunbury Lane; William Senior continued to work as a coachman and the family was now complete as in addition to William Junior and his older sister Florence there were two younger sisters, Ellen and Lily. In 1901 the family home was in rooms above the coach house of Brackley Lodge, Oatlands but young William now aged 21 was working as a groom and was a lodger with a family in Paddington.

This William Dean obviously has a connection to Weybridge but establishing a military link is more problematic. He was 32 in 1911 and still single but as the war progressed his age would have become less of an issue so it is possible that he served. William also has a connection to Devon. His father died in 1925 and his Probate records make no mention of his only son; his married daughters Ellen Bates and Lily Norman are referred to. This could indicate that William was already dead – perhaps a casualty of the First World War? Mystery still surrounds Pte W Dean.


England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills & Administrations), 1858-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers Effects, 1901-1929, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk