The Williams Brothers

In 1890 a domestic Coachman, Jesse Williams who had been born in 1865 near Weston-Super-Mare, married Annie New, a girl born in Southall, Middlesex, but her Mother Esther Millard was a Woking Girl.

3 sons were born between 1892 and 1897 in the West Country, before Jesse died in 1898, Annie moved to Woking and was claiming Parish Relief whilst living in Board School Road at the time of the 1901 Census.

Annie married Samuel Robert Tutt in 1903, he was born 1871 in India and had just been pensioned off from the Royal Berkshire Regimnt at the Inkerman Barracks after an 18 year Globe trotting Army Career, and was using his Army Training as a Tailor in Civvy street. A son was born in Woking in 1906 to this marriage and by the 1911 Census the family are living on Anchor Hill in Knaphill.

The eldest Williams Boy was Arthur born 1892 in Bristol, in 1911 he was employed as a waiter, by 1915 he was a Private in 1st/5th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, and he died in Amara, Mesopotamia 21 June 1918 and lies in the Cemetery there.

The second son was Ernest was born 1895 in Mells, Somerset, in 1911 he was a Labourer and he enlisted on the 14 Sep 1914 and became a Lance Corporal in the 1st/6th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. he was posted missing presumed Dead on 9th April 1917 when the battalion attacked “Glasgow Trench” in the opening phase of the Battle of Arras. His body has not (yet) been recovered so he is remembered on Bay 2 of the Arras Memorial to the Missing.

The youngest Williams boy was Leonard and was the first to die as he was serving with the Coldstream Guards when he fell on 22 September 1916 at the Battle of Ginchy (A phase of the Battle of the Somme). His body was recovered in 1919 and he now lies in the Guards Cemetery at Lesbouefs, Somme France.

The boys’ Mother and Step Father moved had moved to Connaught Road, Brookwood and both died in 1923, whilst their Step-brother lived until 1965

Regimental-Sergeant-Major James Allford – a lifetime of Army service

James Allford was born in 1871 in Woolwich and enlisted in the Army in 1891 with 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

James Allford was a career soldier and his 28 years in the Army included imperial service in Malta and on the North-West Frontier, India. In India, the 1st Battalion formed part of a field force sent to deal with a local uprising and saw action in the Nawagai Valley in 1897. Further campaigns included the Mohmand and Tirah campaigns before the Battalion was posted to Rawalpindi and Sialkot in 1905.

In 1906 James Allford was posted to Permanent Staff Authority and transferred from the 1st Battalion to the 3rd Battalion, which was a Depot training battalion. He remained with 3rd Battalion for the rest of his Army career. He was promoted to Colour-Sergeant in 1907 and eventually Regimental-Sergeant-Major in May 1917.

The 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion remained a training battalion during the 1914-18 conflict, providing drafts to the active service battalions of the Queen’s.

At the outbreak of World War I, the Battalion proceeded to its mobilisation station in the Medway area (with its HQ at Chattenden).  Initially, the Battalion fitted out and drafted over 1,000 reservists for the frontline 1st & 2nd Battalions of the Queen’s. In November 1914, the Battalion was posted to Rochester and was at that time composed of regular and special reservists plus a sprinkling of British Expeditionary Force NCOs and private soldiers. Recruits from civilian life carried out their basic training at Chatham Lines  before being sent to service companies located at the various Medway forts, where they received further training. From 1915 onwards, reinforcement drafts were constantly being trained by the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion and then sent out to theatre in France and Belgium. In 1916, the Battalion moved to Sittingbourne and remained there until the end of the war, when in March 1919 its manpower was absorbed into the 1st Battalion.

James Allford retired from the Army in 1919 after 27 years’ service and settled in Stoughton, Guildford, with his wife Florence and their three children.

During his military service James Allford was awarded the India Medal in 1898, Good Conduct Medal in 1915 and the Meritorious Medal in 1919.

Archive records at Surrey History Centre (QRWS/30/ALLF) preserve, amongst other service records, Allford’s Army account book, pocket ledger, certificates of education and certificates of military proficiency (e.g. marksmanship).

James Allford's certificate of good character

James Allford’s certificate of good character.
SHC ref QRWS/30/ALLF/15.

 

SHC archives also hold a letter written by Allford from India to a relation soon after the birth of his first daughter, which can be viewed here (click on each image to see a larger version):

The records also include correspondence with the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, regarding the commutation of James Allford’s pension to assist in the purchase of a house in Guildford and related correspondence with the town clerk and solicitors.

Other sources: Ancestry (including 1911 census), the Long Long Trail website records (https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/) and a History of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment by Colonel H.C. Wylly (London & Aldershot, 1887).

 

 

Frank Molyneux Eastwood, professional soldier killed at Ypres

Frank was born in 1893, the fourth of five sons of John Edmund (a stockbroker’s agent) and Ethel of Enton Lodge, Witley. Frank went to Eton College and joined the army, not surprisingly the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.  He was commissioned in September 1912 and promoted to Lieutenant in September 1914.

The 1st Battalion was in England at the outbreak of the war and went to France on 13 August 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. The battalion took part in the battle of Mons, the first battle of the war, the retreat from Mons and subsequent counter attacks by the Allies. In late October 1914 the battalion was joined by the 2nd Battalion at Ypres when the Allies attacked the German positions in the first battle of Ypres and forced them back to Passchendaele Ridge. During a German counter-attack on the 29 October which penetrated the British line, the 1st Battalion was sent to Gheluvelt to support the 2nd Battalion.  1st Battalion and the Scots Guards tried to take a German trench at 3pm on 29 October 1914 but failed, losing 161 dead. Frank is mentioned in the battalion war diary as having been killed in this attack and in the Witley parish magazine as having died of wounds. He has no known grave, so it can be surmised he was buried but the site damaged in subsequent actions and his body could not be identified after the war.

Frank’s brothers also served in the war: John in the Grenadier Guards, Harold (who won the Military Cross) in the Royal Field Artillery and Tank Corps, Noel (wounded in action) in the King’s Own Hussars and Geoffrey in the Royal Flying Corps.

Frank was awarded the 1914 Star (The Mons Star), the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Second Lieutenant Gilbert (Jack) Whittet

Researched and written by Anne Wright

2/Lt G Whittet
7th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
Killed in action, 13.7.1916
Age, 20

Gilbert (Jack) Whittet went straight from school to war. He had intended to go to university but instead sought a commission as soon as possible and joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. Gilbert was born in Weybridge on 4 October 1895, the youngest child of Alexander and Lizzie Bertha (nee Willis) who had married on 12 September 1883 at Christ Church, Streatham Hill. Both parents were born in London, but Weybridge was already Alexander’s home at the time of his marriage; he was the proprietor of A. Whittet & Co., Seed Crushers, of Weybridge Oil Mills (probably Ham Haw Mill). The oil was used for making paint, linoleum and foodstuffs. Gilbert’s siblings, Alexander Willis, Charles Gordon and Winifred Muriel were all born in Weybridge and baptised at St James’ Church; as was Gilbert on 2 January 1896. The family home was at West Oaks, Portmore Park Road.

Radley College First Eight (rowing) 1914. G Whittet, second from left. Image courtesy of Radley College.

Radley College First Eight (rowing) 1914. G Whittet, second from left. Image courtesy of Radley College.

Gilbert was educated at Radley College from 1910 to 1914. He was a keen rower and rowed for his college at Henley in his last year. Soon he was commissioned to the Royal West Surreys and crossed to France over 26/27 July 1915 with the 7th Battalion. They had their first experience of the trenches at Dernancourt on 9 August; they returned to the line on 22 August and suffered their earliest multiple casualties with 4 men killed and 17 wounded. So began a pattern of rotating in and out of the trenches over a period of months; they were often in the line at Becourt and in billets at Mericourt, Ville-sur-Ancre and Dernancourt. The routine was broken on 25 October when Gilbert and his comrades paraded before the King and the Prince of Wales. His last Christmas Day was spent in very wet trenches.

Life resumed in the same fashion in the New Year and well into the spring of 1916. They were sometimes in billets at La Nueville-de-Corbie and Suzanne. Gilbert spent five days in hospital in May and missed the battalion’s opening assault on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July as he was at Divisional School from which he returned two days later. The impact had already been devastating: 174 men had been killed, 284 wounded and 56 reported missing in 12 hours of fighting near Montauban. On 4 July the battalion was reorganised and by the morning of the 13th they held the southern edge of Trones Wood and Trones Alley (north-east of Montauban).

They were continually under shell fire and with others tasked to clear the Germans from the Wood. When Gilbert’s battalion advanced they were met with heavy rifle, machine gun and shell fire. The enemy had been told to resist at all costs. The attack ground to a halt; the British bombardment seemed to have done little damage, there had not been time to reconnoitre the ground in advance and support troops were not available when needed. Between noon and the end of the action at about 9pm on the 13 July 4 officers were killed, 7 wounded, 2 reported missing, 22 other ranks were killed, 150 wounded and 44 reported missing. Gilbert was one of the dead; he was 20 years old. Major C M W Price reported that he had been shot, ‘.…. whilst leading his men in a gallant attack in Trones Wood……He was a splendid officer and a great favourite with us all.’ Gilbert has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier & Face, 5D & 6D) next to Thiepval village on the main Baupaume to Albert road.

Gilbert’s obituary in The Radleian of 28 October 1915 paints a picture of a quiet, dedicated and unassuming young man:

There is a place in the hearts of many of us for the quiet, courteous unselfish boy who was killed in action…he had risen to a position of authority [prefect] in the school and had gained the affection of many and the respect of all.

His parents donated a stained-glass window to the Chapel at Radley College dedicated to the memory of their son and his friend James Edward Hutton Freeman, Royal Flying Corps, whose home was in Walton-on-Thames; he was killed three months before Gilbert. It was unveiled on 28 July 1917. They also honoured the life of their young son in his home town with gifts to All Souls Chapel in St James’ Church of a silken flag of St George and the figure of St John in the Triptych. A beautiful Altar Service Book was also dedicated to his memory as well as a stone statue of St George on the south wall.

Their eldest son, Alexander, also served in the war as a Captain in the Royal Field Artillery; he survived to take over the family business. Winifred Muriel served with the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment. Both parents remained in Weybridge until their deaths; Alexander in 1930 and Lizzie Bertha in 1935. Their name continues to resonate in Weybridge not only in the parish church, but in Whittets Ait, now a private island on the River Wey, close to Weybridge Lock.

Sources:

Archives of Radley College, Oxfordshire
Oarsman Killed in Action, Globe, Friday, 21 July 1916
1913 Kelly’s Directory, UK, City and County Directories, 1766-1946, www.ancestry.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns, 1754-1932, www.ancestry.co.uk
Gifts to All Souls Chapel, St James and St Michael and All Angels Parish Records, Surrey History Centre, 3204/10/8
Lt Jack Whittet, Surrey Advertiser, Saturday, 22 July 1916
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
University of London, OTC Roll of War Service, UK, Memorial Books WW1 & WW2, 1914-1945, https://archive.org/details/rollofwarservice00grea

Sergeant Walter John Stedman

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Sgt W J Stedman
8th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
G/5737
Died of wounds, 22.4.1918
Age, 33

Walter John Stedman served for two years and five months on the Western Front, longer than many of his comrades from 1914. This period must have been a great contrast to his life as a domestic gardener before the war. John was one of thirteen children born to his parents George and Bertha (nee Nunns), two had died by 1911. Just like his father, Walter was a native of Weybridge; his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1885. The family home in 1891 was Gardener’s Cottage, Waverley House, reflecting George’s occupation. Ten years later Walter was already at work as an under-gardener and had left home to lodge with a widow, Elizabeth Hall, at 7 Heath Road, Weybridge. In 1907 he married Emily Louisa Neal of Sutton and they had two children: Edna Ellen, born in 1908 and Albert Walter, born in 1911.

Walter enlisted in Guildford and arrived in France on 23 September 1915. His battalion had arrived three weeks earlier; he joined them on 28 September as part of a draft of 82 men. Two days before, participating in the Battle of Loos, they had attacked from trenches east of Vermelles (10 km from Lens) only to find the enemy wire uncut. They had advanced and retired under heavy machine gun fire. By 6 October they had moved to Reninghelst (9.5 km south-west of Ypres). The battalion remained in Belgium until July 1916. Walter and his comrades fell into the pattern of trench warfare: in and out of the trenches, training and filling the ever needed working parties. New trenches were dug and existing ones repaired, this was heavy and often dangerous work; in the line near Dranoutre (11.5 km south of Ypres) from 3 – 8 April 1916 they worked under constant sniper fire.

The Battle of the Somme had been underway for a month when the 8th Battalion went into the front line near Longueval (13 km east of Albert) on 10 August; they suffered 86 casualties. This was just the beginning. On 21 August they attacked with the 17th Irish Brigade, only to be held up by finding the enemy to be very close. Severe bomb fighting ensued and in due course they were withdrawn to their original position. Their casualties amounted to 7 officers and 89 other ranks. Walter would have experienced the terror of a gas attack when they were bombarded with gas shells on 31 August while in reserve positions; there were 118 casualties. The following day they went into the front line in Delville Wood (east of Longueville); by the time they were relieved on 5 September their trench casualties since 30 August amounted to 1 officer killed, 25 other ranks killed, 104 other ranks wounded and 13 other ranks missing. Since coming to the Somme battlefields Walter’s battalion had endured savage costly warfare.

By Christmas Day Walter’s battalion had moved north and were located at Philosophe (between Bethune and Lens) and were in the line close by. It was a miserable day with no halt to hostilities and spent in terrible conditions because of the rain. They remained in this area until May 1917 when they moved to Brandhoek (6.5 km west of Ypres). On 31 July Walter and his comrades took part in the attack which launched the Third Battle of Ypres (‘Passchendaele’) the Allies long awaited attempt to break out of the Ypres Salient. They advanced under their own barrage from 3.50 am and when that barrage lifted they charged. The battalion took their objectives but the units on their flanks were unable to move forward so they did their best to consolidate their positions. During the attack and the next day they came under constant and accurate shell fire from the Germans and conditions worsened under heavy rainfall. They were relieved by 11.45 pm on 1 August. Between 30 July and 1 August their casualties amounted to 3 officers killed, 9 wounded, 32 other ranks killed, 156 wounded and 105 posted missing. They went into Brigade Reserve and could only deploy three companies because of their recent losses.

In September they returned to France, to Beaulencourt (4 km south east of Baupaume). They fell into the routine of trench warfare once more and this continued until the German Spring Offensive launched on 21 March 1918. The 8th Royal West Surreys were in the front line at Le Verguier (12 km south of St Quentin) when an enemy bombardment began at 4.30 am and continued for 8 hours. Under cover of fog they had cut the British wire on both flanks where all support had given way so the front companies were completely cut off. Only Lewis Gun and rifle fire kept them at bay. They failed to enter the village of Le Verguier. At 7 am the next day all available men including cooks and orderlies were called to defend Battalion HQ and in a spirited fight drove off the enemy. What remained of the battalion was virtually surrounded so they were ordered to retire towards Vendelles: there were just 11 officers and 150 other ranks. So began a desperate retreat which saw them have to put up stubborn resistance such as east of Omiecourt (close to Peronne) on 25 March and at Vrely (32 km east of Amiens) on 27 March. By 28 March the battalion consisted of just 200 men of various units, however on this day they fought a rear-guard action at Caix (28 km south-east of Amiens) and held back the enemy. The Germans did not take Amiens.

Between 21 and 31 March the 8th Royal West Surreys’ casualties amounted to 20 officers and 380 other ranks. It is very likely that Walter was wounded during this period and possibly taken prisoner by the enemy. He died of wounds on 22 April and was laid to rest in Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension (III.A.7/19). Roisel is a small town 11 km east of Peronne which was taken by the Germans on 22 March 1918 and held by them until September. They started the Cemetery Extension immediately. British casualties were also brought in from other burial sites later. The 8th Royal Surreys’ losses throughout the period Walter was with them are testimony to his brutal experience of the First World War. On the day of his death the battalion received a message of appreciation from Guildford Town Council for their defence of Le Verguier.

His widow lived in Weybridge until at least 1935. She and Walter had at least three grandchildren through their son Albert’s marriage to Emily Louisa Blake in 1937. He died in Glamorgan in 1993.

Postscript

The following additions were shared with us by Mollie Gair, Walter’s granddaughter.

Our grandmother – Emily Louisa Stedman moved away from Weybridge in late 1939 to live with her son Albert Walter Stedman and his wife, also named Emily Louisa (nee BLAKE). All through the Second World War we lived on a Market Garden in Harwich Road, Ardleigh, near Colchester, Essex and she looked after my sister and me. In addition she was a very good cook and did almost all of the cooking and housework during that time. Our father was not allowed to join the Forces during the Second World War because he was food producer and our mother also worked with him on our Market Garden. He was however, in the Home Guards throughout the war. Our grandmother lived with us for next 20 years before going to a retirement home in Bedford. In 1946 we all moved away from Ardleigh to Worplesdon, Surrey when my father got the job of Head Gardener at Goose Rye, a well known estate then owned by a Mr Dangerfield. We all lived in ‘The Goslings’, Goose Rye Road in the Head Gardeners’ house for a year or so then moved away from Surrey altogether when the estate was sold to Colonel Aldington, to Bedfordshire in 1948.

Our grandmother often spoke about her husband (Wal pronounced “Wol”) and how she first saw him diving into the river (Wey) near Weybridge and decided there and then that he was the ONE for her. It wasn’t until some time later she found out he was only 15 years old at that time (and she was 21!)! They were ‘courting’ for 7 years before they married November 1907. We all loved her dearly and she was very sadly missed when she died at almost 88 in 1967.

Walter John Stedman was captured by the Germans in March 1918 and (for confirmation) I have in my possession two Red Cross cards dated 23 March and 17 April 1918. They were sent to my grandmother at 6 Barnes Cottages, Waverley Road, Weybridge, Surrey from the Prison Camp at Limburg. They say he was ‘Sound – Yes Wounded – No’. The address was written by him on one side and his Name, Rank & Number on the other in his own writing. Yet records say that on the 22 of April he died of War Wounds! After that my grandmother heard nothing and she always said she had no OFFICIAL notification of his death, just that he was ‘missing presumed dead’. She said that about 6 months after the war ended, a former prisoner of the camp went to see her and told her that my grandfather had tried to escape and was bayoneted in the back. She certainly knew nothing during her life about his grave in Roisel Cemetery – I found out about that during the 1990’s when the War Graves Commission published details on line.

My grandmother also said that my grandfather always intended to escape if captured – apparently he was connected to, or belonged to, the Weybridge Harriers in his earlier days and was good at running. When he went home on leave in 1917 he had told her that in the event of being captured that he would ‘make a run for it’. That was the last time she saw him. Unfortunately, my father did not see him on that last visit (he would have been about six years old) because he was in an isolation hospital with scarlet fever. She also said that she spent a long time ironing the seams of his uniform to kill all the lice which he had picked up!

After the war ended my grandmother received a widow’s pension for that of a Lance Corporal – not Lance Sergeant – and always felt she had been cheated. Those extra shillings would have made all the difference to her when the children were young. Between the two wars she worked in domestic service to support them. My father, at eight years old,  did a paper round and the money he earned went towards paying for his boots to be repaired. The reason given by the authorities was that the promotion (awarded in the field) hadn’t been confirmed. She never remarried as she said ‘she could never be sure her husband was dead – perhaps he had been shell shocked and lost his memory and/or gone to Australia’. She also kept the rented cottage at Barnes Road for over 20 years after his death to quote ‘just in case he had lost his memory, and gone to Australia” (I wonder if she heard of the ‘Arbroath’ and Lance Corporal W Stedman repatriated from Prison camp in December 1918 – I found that in records but his name turned out to be William. Just speculation!)

Sources:

Bailey Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
British Army WW1Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration of Birth Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriages Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk

Arthur Luff, Witley’s last casualty of the war

Arthur was born in Witley, the son of George (a walking stick dresser at Cooper Brothers, Witley) and Eleanor Luff. Arthur also became a stick dresser at Cooper Brothers and lived with his parents near Witley Station.  Arthur’s brother Ernest served in the Machine Gun Corps and his brother William in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

Arthur joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was at 14 Stationary Hospital located at Boulogne and accidentally shot; the circumstances are unknown.  He died in hospital several days later, minutes after his mother came to see him.  Arthur was Witley’s last casualty of the war and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Ernest Smith, killed at Loos

Ernest was born in Witley in 1881, the fifth of John and Rosina Smith’s ten children. In 1899, Ernest joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, signing up for 12 years after which he became a labourer/nurseryman, living in Chobham.  With the outbreak of war, Ernest joined the 1st Battalion Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (sometime between August and November 1914 as he qualified for The Mons Star).  It is surmised Ernest was transferred to the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) at a later date.

The 2nd Battalion East Kent Regiment took part in the Battle of Loos (25th September – 28th September 1915). After an artillery bombardment, the men advanced to find the German wire had not been cut. Although Loos was captured 8,500 men were killed and many more wounded by German machine guns on the first day. The Germans reinforced their positions overnight and the next day a further 8,000 men were lost. On the 28th, the British retreated to their original positions, having lost 20,000 men in the battle. It is surmised Ernest was killed during the battle and his body was not retrieved or not identified.  Ernest is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and was awarded the 1914 Star (The Mons Star), British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Ernest’s younger brothers also served in the war: John in the 4th Hussars and Alfred in the Royal Navy.

Arthur Newman, died as a prisoner of war

Arthur was born in 1891 the son of George and Charlotte Eliza Newman (nee Antlett) of Rose Cottages, Culmer, Witley. Arthur volunteered early in the war and went to France in 1915.

On 22 April 1917 Arthur and his battalion took part in an attack on the Hindenburg Line. Support was to be provided by two tanks and reinforcements were expected from 98th Brigade 90 minutes after the attack began. After an artillery barrage the men advanced but the tanks did not arrive. The men reached the first line but could not advance further due to German counter-attacks and the wire not being cut by the barrage. There were so many wounded men in the trenches supplies could not be delivered to the men in the front line. The reinforcements did not arrive until the next day and German counter-attacks continued. At 8pm the attack was deemed to have failed so the order was given to withdraw.   Two officers were killed, three wounded and eight missing with 26 other ranks killed, 101 wounded and 308 missing. Arthur was reported missing but another soldier who was taken prisoner wrote home from Germany that Arthur was wounded, taken prisoner and died in Germany in May 1917. Perhaps the identity of Arthur’s grave was lost later and that is why he is on the Arras Memorial. Arthur was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

James Jones, the bricklayer who died at Passchendaele

James was born in 1879, the son of George and Alice Jones. James became a bricklayer and married Rosina Bicknell in 1903.  At the time of the 1911 census James and Rosina were living at Maythorne Cottage, The Street, Witley with their children James Charles (born 1903), Alice Dorothy (born 1907), Ruth Elizabeth (born 1909) and William George (born 1911).

James joined The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on 29th December, 1914.   He was wounded at Festubert on 16th May, 1915 and when fit returned to the front.  He was wounded in the shoulder at Delville Wood during the battle of the Somme, hospitalized in Wales and returned to the front on 16th November 1916. On 7th September 1917, during the battle of Passchendaele, James and his battalion relieved the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment in trenches at Bodmin Copse, Clonmel Copse and Hedge Street. On the 9th September during shelling by the Germans, James was severely wounded. His platoon commander wrote to Rosina that James lived for only a short time.  Sadly, Rosina received the letter on her birthday. James was buried where he fell and the spot marked with a cross but it was lost during subsequent actions and he has no known grave. James was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

James and Rosina’s son, William died on 12th June 1925 aged 14 and is buried in All Saints churchyard with Rosina who died on 1st June 1939 aged 56.

Private H Mills

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Pte H Mills
Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

These brief details are the only information that the Weybridge War Memorial state about Pte H Mills. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records the deaths of two Pte Mills of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment neither of whom have any discernible connection to Weybridge: Pte Horace Frederick Mills (G/21184; formerly 27592 of the Middlesex Regiment) of the 7th Battalion and Pte Henry Alfred Mills (G/67808; formerly 50964 of the Worcestershire Regiment)) of the 6th Battalion. Horace Mills was born in about 1894 at Potter Heigham, Norfolk and died on 30 September 1916. Henry Mills was born in 1899 at Islington and died on 18 August 1918. The 1901 and 1911 Census results show that neither of them was located in or close to Weybridge.

However, there is a Pte Mills of Weybridge who should to be honoured on the War Memorial; Pte H T Mills, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, service number 8060, killed in action, 22 October 1914.