Private Albert Edward Tickner

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte A E Tickner
12th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
240429
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.

Sources:

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
228019
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.

Sources:

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

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
2919
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.

Sources:

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.

Sources:

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.

Sources:

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.

Sources:

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

Private Richard Pelham Collins

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte R P Collins
1/14th London Scottish Regiment
2207
Killed in action, 1.11.1914
Age, 24

Richard Pelham Collins was descended from a distinguished Jewish family whose London roots reach back to at least 1780. His grandfather, Hyman Henry Collins was a noted architect and surveyor and his father Arthur Pelham Collins (1864-1932) was associated with the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for 43 years. This connection began in 1881 when he became an apprentice scenic artist, followed by a period as stage manager, then producer and finally as managing director from 1896 until he retired in 1924. He saved the theatre from demolition when he raised the required £1000 for the lease in 1896.

Arthur Pelham Collins married Elizabeth Abels (b. Streatham, 1869) in London in 1888. Richard was born in 1890 in High Holborn where the family lived at College Chambers. A second son, Arthur Pelham Collins, was born in 1893. By 1901 Richard was at school at 59, London Road in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He also attended Bowden House School in Seaford, East Sussex where his death was commemorated on their memorial plaque. In 1911 the family lived at Fir Grange, Windsor Walk in Weybridge and Richard was an art student. His mother must have died as his father remarried in 1901 to Belle Bulford (Jette) Thom, an American citizen.

Richard was one of the earliest volunteers as he entered the theatre of war on the Continent on 15 September 1914. His brother, Arthur also saw military service as he was with the British Expeditionary Force, East Africa at the time of his marriage to Kathleen Lucy Ellen Gill at St. James’ Church, Weybridge on 18 June 1918. He survived. Richard was assigned to 1/14th (County of London) Battalion (London Scottish). They experienced a baptism of fire when they were thrust into the First Battle of Ypres (19 October-22 November 1914). On 29 October Richard and his comrades were transported by 34 London buses, through the night to Ypres. On 31 October they went into the line at Messines to counter-attack. The trenches formed a line a little in advance of the Messines-Wytschaete road. They were under the command of the Calvary Corps but when they reached the crowded Calvary trenches they had to find shelter where they could. They entrenched at dusk. The Germans broke through on their left at about 2 am, but were thrown back by the repeated bayonet charges of the battalion’s reserve company. By daylight when the Germans were about to encircle them Richard’s unit had no choice but to retreat, which they did under heavy rifle and machine gun fire. They had entered combat with 26 officers and 750 other ranks; in this relatively short period of time they sustained 278 casualties of which 11 were officers. Richard was one of the fatalities of I November 1914.

He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres (now Ieper). His father lived in Weybridge until his death in 1932, when his home was Tythe Barn, in St. George’s Avenue.

Sources:

Collins-Robertson Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Pantomines at Drury Lane, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, www.its-behind-you.com/drurylanepantos.html
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – London Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Mr Arthur Collins, The Times, 14 January 1932
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War of 1914-1918, www.ancestry.co.uk

Private Thomas Cutler

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte T Cutler
1st King Edward’s Horse, Household Cavalry & Cavalry of the Line
(inc. Yeomanry & Imperial Camel Corps)

1672
Killed in action, 9.4.1918
Age, 23

Thomas Cutler’s birth was registered in Guildford in 1896. His parents, Annie (nee Eagle) and Alfred had married at the Parish Church in Farncombe, near Godalming, on 28 February 1886. By 1901 the family lived in Farnham, Thomas had two older brothers and one older sister, a third brother was born in 1903. Alfred Cutler, the son of a shepherd, was a domestic gardener. In 1911, at just 14 years old Thomas was a lodger in the home of Frank and Emily Bishop at 21, Addison Road in Guildford. He was employed as an assistant in the grocery trade. At some point after this he moved to Weybridge (2, Yew Tree Cottages) which is recorded as his place of residence in the list of UK Soldiers Died in the Great War.

He enlisted at Whitehall joining ‘B’ Squadron of the 1st King Edward’s Horse (KEH) which moved to France in April 1915 and became part of the 48th (S. Midland) Division and then joined IV Corps in June 1916. All three squadrons of KEH transferred to XVIII Corps a year later and moved to Italy. They returned to France with XI Corps in March 1918 just in time to face Operation Georgette, the second phase of the German Spring Offensive. Phase One had been directed against the Somme but in April the Germans opened the next phase against French Flanders and the Ypres Salient, hoping to break through to the Channel ports. Thomas was caught up in the Battle of Estaires, the first of seven battles which made up the Battle of the Lys (also known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres).

The Germans preceded their attack on 9 April with a high explosives and gas barrage lasting 36 hours. Fourteen divisions then attacked along a ten mile front. Four of these divisions were sent against a single Portuguese unit which was sent reeling, opening a gap in the British line. The 1st KEH suffered 150 casualties in forming a new front where the Portuguese line had been broken. Thomas was one of those killed in the ferocious German onslaught of 9 April. He and his comrades were fighting on foot. Their resistance was valiant as was recognised by Lord Horne, Commander of the First Army:

I wish to offer Lt-Col James and all ranks of 1st King Edward’s Horse my very high appreciation of the skill, gallantry and determination with which the defence of Vieille Chapelle, Huit Maisons and Fosse Bridgeheads was conducted. …..the fact that the Regiment held on to these important positions for so long a period had a most important effect upon the result of the Battle…..

A Company and part of B Squadron of KEH had the unenviable task of holding the bridgehead at Vielle Chapelle which they did until they were surrounded and had no option but to surrender. The Battle of Estaires concluded on 11 April. Thomas was buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery (XVII.A.28) in Souchez, a small village 3.5 km north of Arras on the main road to Bethune. His mother moved to Dover and Thomas’ death is recorded by the Dover War Memorial Project, as is that of his older brother, Bryant Alfred, who was killed on 23 October 1918. This Project also preserves a poignant ‘In Memoriam’ from their mother, dated 1950:

In loving memory of my two sons, Thomas and Bryant who died through enemy action, 9 April – 23 October 1918.
Until we meet again – Mother.

Sources:

ed. Lieut-Colonel Lionel James, DSO, London, 1921, The History of King Edward’s Horse
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long Long Trail – The 1st and 2nd King Edward’s Horse, www.longlongtrail.www.co.uk
The Dover War Memorial Project, www.doverwarmemorialproject.org.uk
Thomas, Ronan, Endgame in Flanders 1918, www.militaryhistoryonline.com
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1918, www.ancestry.co.uk