Ernest Francis Hodge

Family story contributed by Brian Gudgeon

Ernest Francis Hodge was born on 24 November 1880, to Ernest Francis Hodge and Louisa Sophia Hodge (nee Pike), in Croydon.   Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Ernest worked as a Signal Lad for the London, Brighton & South Coast railway company, starting on 18 April 1905 at Anerley station (now in the London Borough of Bromley).  Over the next three years, he was transferred to Norwood Junction and Crystal Palace (where he worked as a Telegraph Clerk).  According to the UK Railway Employment Records 1833-1956, Ernest was dismissed on 11 February 1909 for cloak room ticket irregularities.

In the 1908-1933 Surrey Recruitment Registers, Ernest had moved on to be a Milk Carrier (living with his parents at 15 Ingatestone Road, South Norwood) before enlisting with the 4th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, at Kingston on Thames.  He was described as being 5ft 4inches, weighing 115lb, with grey eyes and light brown hair.

Ernest’s First World War Service record states that he served as a Driver for the Royal Army Service Corps (service number T/289678).  He was then promoted to T/Sergeant.  [Soldiers with a ‘T’ prefixed to their number usually served in Horse Transport].  In 1915, Ernest married Florence White; the witnesses were Alfred Charles Hodge (brother), Charles Robert Hodge (father) and Mary Amelia Hodge (sister).  The couple lived at 57 Elmers Road, Woodside, Croydon.

At the time of the 1939 Register, Ernest was working as a Milk Salesman and living at 12 Hawthorne Avenue, Croydon.
He died in 1977.

Read the story of his brother, Alfred Charles Hodge: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/alfred-charles-hodge/

Read the story of his brother-in-law, Alfred Day (husband of Mary Amelia Hodge): https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/alfred-wilton-day/

Norman Frank Andrews

Family story contributed by Brian Gudgeon

Norman Frank Andrews was born in June 1898, to Leonard Frank Andrews and Annie Andrews (nee Chitty), on the Isle of Wight.  The family had moved to Russ Hill Road Cottage Charlwood, Surrey, by the time of the 1901 Census, later moving to Russ Hill Farm.

He enlisted at Horsham in February 1917, aged 18, with ‘D’ Battery, 52nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, serving as a Gunner.  After a few months of training, he was sent to France, where he was killed in action a year later in September 1918.  An obituary appeared in the Surrey Mirror & County Post on 27 September 1918:

Report on Norman Andrews’ death, as reported in the Surrey Mirror, 27 September 1918

News has reached Mr and Mrs L F Andrews, of Russ Hill Farm, Charlwood, that their only son, Gunner Norman Frank Andrews, of the Royal Field Artillery, has fallen in action during the recent advance on the Western front.  It appears that he was standing with his section officer and several of his comrades when a shell burst right by them, a fragment striking Norman Andrews on the head, killing him instantaneously.  His section officer and the others were all wounded.  Deceased, who was 20 years of age last June, joined up for military service in February 1917; was drafted out to France in September of last year; was killed on [3 September*] 1918.  The burial took place in the little cemetery behind the lines.  An officer, writing to his sorrowing parents, says: “I have known your son ever since he joined the battery and can truthfully say that he was one of the most efficient gunners we had.  He always did his duty well and faithfully, and as a man was popular both with officers and men,  His loss will be felt by all who knew him.

*Actually 5 September 1918

Norman’s friends also wrote  to express their sorrow at his death; the refer to his buoyancy of spirit, his friendliness, and willingness to help at all times.  He had many friends in Charlwood, his bright, cheery disposition making him a general favourite in all circles.  He is buried in Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt, France, and is commemorated on the war memorial at St Nicholas Church, Charlwood, and on the Roll of Honour in the church.

Norman Andrews’ Grave Report on the Graves Registration Report Form

Herbert Day

Family story contributed by Brian Day

Herbert Day was born on 11 June 1887, to Alfred John Day and Alice Louisa Day (nee Gaunt), in Nunhead (now in the London Borough of Southwark).

Herbert Day’s Medal Roll Index Card. Courtesy of Brian Gudgeon.

In 1911, aged 23 and single, his was a Private in 1st Battalion, the Welch Regiment, based at the Main Barracks, Allessia, Cairo, Egypt. The Regiment were in Alexandria, Egypt, between December 1909 and February 1912. His First World War Medal Roll Index Card states he was a Private in 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment, with the service number 9561; then, with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (number 34212), before going back to the Welsh Regiment (number 68919). His entry into war was 13 Aug 1914, indicating he was a regular. He was transferred 11 Aug 1915, but it does not state where. He received the 1914 Star, Victory and British medals.

He married Beatrice Hayes on 5 Jun 1920, in Croydon, and was listed as working as a Labourer. They lived at 123 Burlington Road, Thornton Heath, the same given for his wife.  By 1939, the couple were living at 123 Burlington Road, Croydon, with Herbert working as a carpenter.

He died in 1954, aged 67.

Alfred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/alfred-wilton-day/

Arthur Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/arthur-day/

Fred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/fred-day/

Sydney Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/sydney-frederick-day/

Walter Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/walter-daniel-day/

William Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/william-day/

Walter Daniel Day

Family story contributed by Brian Gudgeon

Walter Daniel Day was born in the spring of 1890, to Alfred John Day and Alice Louisa Day (nee Gaunt), in Nunhead (now in the London Borough of Southwark).  The family had moved to Croydon by the time of the 1901 Census.

Walter Day’s 1902 Attestation Papers. Courtesy of Brian Gudgeon

He enlisted in the colours on 8 March 1909, at Croydon, aged 19, joining the 4th Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment for a 4 year engagement (no. 1760).  In the 1911 Census, he is shown working as a General Clerk (Fish Merchant), living at parents home, 116 Birchanger Road, South Norwood. The family is not sure as to how he was in the army and registered in the Census as at home, [but, one explanation could be that he was home on leave at the time, and simply recorded as being at that address on the day the Census was taken]. He re-engaged on 8 March 1914 and 8 March 1915. He transferred to 1st London Division, Signal Company, Royal Engineers, as a Lance Corporal, on 28 August 1914. On 15 April 1916, after serving 7 years and 39 days, he was discharged upon ‘Termination of Engagement’. He was 26.

He married Nellie Maille on 17 May 1916; they lived at 147 Portland Road, South Norwood. On 10 June 1916 he re-enlisted as a Rifleman in the Royal Irish Rifles (no. 44720) and went to France on 31 January 1917. He was reported missing on 26 March 1918, presumed killed.

His son, Ronald Walter, was born early in 1917. Whether Walter saw his son before he embarked for France, is unknown. No further details have been found about Ronald. His mother didn’t remarry and one wonders if he was ‘adopted’ elsewhere in the family or with family friends. Walter’s death obviously had a devastating effect on his family. His sister, Alice Florence (Brian’s maternal grandmother), told her daughter Iris (Brian’s mother), he was a most handsome man and his loss was deeply felt by the family and his brothers, William, Arthur, Alfred, Herbert, Sydney and Fred, who all served in and survived the Great War.

Walter Day’s wartime medals and army stripe. Courtesy of Brian Gudgeon.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry states: ‘44720 Rifleman Walter Daniel Day, Royal Irish Rifles, 11th/13th Batallion, attached to 22nd Entrenching Battalion* died 27 March 1918. He is commemorated on Pozieres Memorial, France, panel 74 to 76’ (actually panel 75). The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties who have no known grave and died on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.

*22nd Entrenching Battalion was formed in early February 1918. Officers and men arrived from the 11/13th Royal Irish Rifles, making an ‘extremely strong and well-equipped unit’, according to one of its officers. Another officer reports the battalion never actually used the title 22nd Entrenching Battalion. The battalion was at first positioned at Essigny and Grugiers, both in the area of the 36th (Ulster) Division south of Saint Quentin but moved to Douchy on 11th February. There it worked on cable trenches. The battalion then moved on 17th February to Misery, an aptly named village between Chaulnes and Peronne. Working parties were sent to Marchelepot, Brie and Villers-Carbonell, where the battalion was put to work under Canadian Railway Engineers. Unfortunately during this period the battalion had its Lewis guns taken away. It was involved in the fighting against the German spring offensive, being ordered early on 24th March to move to Guillancourt and dig a defensive line from Rainecout to Rosieres (Wally died on 27th). The left hand company then took part in a counter attack at Framerville. The battalion CO, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Blair-Oliphant, died of wounds on 8th April, a result of injuries he sustained in this action. In the withdrawal that followed, the battalion ended up near Hangard with its right flank next to a French unit. – this information courtesy www.1914-1918.net

Read the stories of his brothers here:

Alfred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/alfred-wilton-day/

Arthur Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/arthur-day/

Fred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/fred-day/

Herbert Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/herbert-day/

Sydney Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/sydney-frederick-day/

William Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/william-day/

Sydney Frederick Day

Family story contributed by Brian Gudgeon

Sydney Frederick Day was born on 2 August 1892, to Alfred John Day and Alice Louisa Day (nee Gaunt), in Nunhead (now in the London Borough of Southwark).  By the time of the 1901 Census, the Day family was living in Thornton Heath, Croydon.  Before the outbreak of war in 1914, Sydney had been working as a Bar Assistant, living at 65 Clapham Park Road.

Sydney Day’s Medal Roll Index Card. Courtesy of Brian Gudgeon.

In 1914, Sydney enlisted with the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (QRWS), serving as a Private, with the service number 200583.  He seems to have done well in the Army, as his Character Certificate describes him as ‘very good’.  The family recall Sydney telling them that he received shrapnel wounds to his upper body, during his service; many years after the war, a small piece came out of his big toe!  He continued to serve with the QRWS until the end of the war, when he was finally discharged at Hounslow on 31 March 1920.

Shortly after the end of the war, Sydney married Edith Collier in Croydon, on 4 January 1922.  The marriage was not a success, and the couple divorced.  Sydney remarried in the spring on 1935, this time to Dorothy Cox; they spent most of their married life at 121 Frant Road, Thornton Heath, with Sydney working as a jobbing gardener (as recorded in the 1939 Register).

Sydney died in 1969, aged 77.  The family remember him as a nice, quiet, gentle man, who kept two highly polished brass shell cases on his mantelpiece, mementoes of the war.

Read the stories of his brothers during the war:

Alfred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/alfred-wilton-day/

Arthur Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/arthur-day/

Fred Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/fred-day/

Herbert Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/herbert-day/

Walter Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/walter-daniel-day/

William Day: https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/william-day/

Lieutenant Reginald Courtenay Hulton Woodhouse

A career soldier, Reginald was the only son of R.I. Woodhouse (rector of Merstham) and Mrs Woodhouse.  Born in 1890, he was a career soldier and was 25 at the time of his death in action on 13-14 January, 1916.

Born at St Luke’s Vicarage, Bromley Compton in Kent in 1890, Reginald attended Eton between 1904-1909, where he achieved recognition for his academic ability. Following on from school, he was an undergraduate at University College, Oxford. Whilst at university, Reginald joined the Officer Training Corps. There, his potential was realised and he secured the highest marks in his year for entry into the army as an officer.  As a result, he was allowed free choice of the unit to which he wished to be attached and straight after graduation, he obtained a commission, opting to join the Indian Army.  Following the outbreak of World War I, he was transferred from the 83rd Battalion Wallja-ahbad Light Infantry to the 56th Battalion Punjabi Rifles. During 1914-16, Reginald was serving with the 1st Battalion of the 56th Punjabi Rifles. His regiment was attached to the 28th Indian Brigade. This was part of one of seven Indian expeditionary forces despatched overseas (Indian Expeditionary Force F), and had been assigned the defence of the vital imperial artery, the Suez Canal. In December 1915,  Reginald’s unit was transferred to Mesopotamia and was involved in the unsuccessful attempts to relieve the British and Indian garrison at Kut, which was besieged by the Turks from 7 December 1915 through to 29 April 1916.  The Indian Army, which was the largest of the British Imperial and Commonwealth forces was, throughout the conflict, made up entirely of volunteers. Of the  one million Indian servicemen who served overseas during that conflict, 700 000 were sent to Mesopotamia.

In what has been described as ‘the worst defeat of the allies in World War One’, among the captured at Kut were six generals. Reginald was killed in the early stages of the campaign at Kut-Al-Amara (Iraq). His body was not in a named grave; as a result he appears on the CWGC memorial at Basra (panel 56) in Iraq.

 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser  22/01/1916, p. 5; ‘KILLED IN ACTION’.

The Siege of Kut

Officer Training Corps     The origins of the OTC were in the pre-war army reforms introduced by the Secretary of War, Lord Haldane in 1906. It was designed to solve a recruitment shortage of trained officers for the  reserves.  Courtenay served first with the Shropshire Light Infantry based at Secunderabad before taking up a commission with the 83rd Wallaj-ahbad Light Infantry.

 

Captain Billie Percy Nevill – a short history of military service

Wilfred Percy Nevill (often referred to by his family as ‘Billie’) was born on 14 July 1894, one of seven children, in Highbury, North London.

Educated at Dover College (where he was recorded on 1911 census), he started at Jesus College, Cambridge, reading a Classical Tripos, with the original intention of following a teaching career. Wilfred gained a temporary commission on 27 November 1914 following the outbreak of war in August 1914.

Although gazetted into the East Yorkshire Regiment, Wilfred was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, which was part of 55 Brigade, 18th Division (a ‘New Army’ Division commanded by General Sir Ivor Maxse).

The 8th East Surreys were posted to France in May 1915 and held part of the line near Albert. Wilfred’s correspondence home described life on or near the front line and included some humour despite the front line conditions.

On 1 July 1916, at the start of the Battle of the Somme, the Battalion took part in the 18th Division’s attack at Montauban. The objective of the Battalion was to secure part of a ridge-line near Mametz.

Wilfred commanded B Company, 8th East Surreys, and is remembered for commencing the attack by encouraging his soldiers to kick footballs before them as they advanced towards the enemy lines. Wilfred was killed during the early phase of this assault.

Compared to fortunes further north on the assault front, 18th Division achieved more of its objectives, although at a high cost, the East Surreys suffering over over 400 casualties.

Shown here are some images of ‘Billie’ and fellow officers in France in 1915 and 1916 (from a photograph album described below). Several of these images include two 8th East Surrey officers who were awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry on 1 July 1916. Captain C. Janion (then a Second Lieutenant) rallied surviving soldiers from the Battalion and led bombing raids down the enemy trenches and organised a further assault against the Battalion’s final objective. Captain E. C. Gimson was the Battalion Medical Officer who spent many hours on the front line dressing the wounds of injured soldiers whilst under constant shellfire.

Wilfred is buried at Carnoy Soldiers’ Cemetery and commemorated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and on St Mary The Virgin War Memorial in Twickenham.

 

Billie Nevill’s Photograph Album

The photograph album was donated to the East Surrey Regiment by Reverend T. S. Nevill, the brother of Wilfred Nevill. The album contains views of trenches at Tambour & the remains of Bercordel (including one of the church bell which apparently was used to warn of gas attacks). The images also show views from Flixecourt, the Somme Valley, Vaux Wood, groups of soldiers (mainly Battalion officers, including ‘Billie’ Nevill), a nurse and occasional civilians, taken 1915-1916. Also an unclear photograph of senior Allied Commanders (Haig, Foch, & Allenby).

 

Sources

  • Surrey History Centre Archives reference ESR/25/NEVI (include a photograph album capturing trench and rear area life prior to the Somme battle).
  • Ancestry Institution records, Long Long Trail and Surrey Infantry Museum records.

Pioneer Walter Norman Welton

This story is the result of an investigation of documents held by Surrey History Centre. The file (SHC ref. CC7/4/4, nos. 1-50) contains correspondence and insurance claims on behalf of Surrey County Council Education Department employees who had been killed in action during the Great War. The cases date from 1915 to 1918.

Name:                                       Walter Norman Welton

Occupation:                             Woodwork Instructor

Birth Place:                              Attleborough, Norfolk

Residence:                                Wallington, Surrey

Date of Death:                         Died 26th June 1916

Age:                                           31 years

Location:                                   No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station, Beauval, France

Rank:                                         Pioneer

Regiment:                                 1st Battalion, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers

Regimental Number:              128805

Walter Welton was born in 1885 and was originally from Attleborough, Norfolk, and the son of George, a former school master, and Elizabeth Welton, of Norwich. He married Alice, a farmer’s daughter from Norfolk, that same year, and in 1915 he became the father of a son. They were living at 8, Demesne Road, Wallington, Surrey when he enlisted.

During the early 1900s, he specialised in woodwork and learnt his trade by attending the Norwich Technical Institute.  He became a certified teacher of practical skills at Bandon Hill Manual Training Centre, South Beddington, from 1913 onwards. His will suggests that he also worked at the Coulsdon Roke (Surrey) Handicraft Centre.

In a letter after Welton’s death, dated 12th July 1916, the Surrey Education Committee described Walter as ‘…one of the Committee’s Instructors of Woodwork’. 

Walter was living and working in Wallington when he volunteered for the 4th Battalion Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment at the start of the war.  His technical skills were probably soon recognised and likely led to his transfer to the Royal Engineers.

There is no evidence of when Walter went to France with the Royal Engineers. On his death he was a pioneer, the equivalent of a Private, with the 1st Battalion, Special Brigade, Royal Engineers. The Special Brigade was responsible for one of the most controversial elements of the Great War, poison gas.

Poison gas was first used on the Western Front by the Germans against allied units in the Ypres Salient in 1915.  The British developed their own response and, according to the official history of the war, its use at the Battle of Loos had warranted ‘further development’.  In January 1916, Kitchener agreed to expand the original four gas companies of the Royal Engineers.  By May 1916, five ‘Special Brigades’, containing four battalions, each of four companies, were ready; initially manned by volunteers and then ‘drafts of suitable men’.   Each ‘Special Brigade’ was attached to an army group in France, and Walter’s 1st Special Brigade went to the 4th Army, which was preparing to fight the Battle of the Somme.

There is evidence from war diaries and histories that Walter and his comrades were part of the preparations for the Somme offensive. A 4th Division report states that the Special Brigade had taken casualties on the night of 25/26th June. Shrapnel hit one of the phosgene gas cylinders the men were handling causing a leak. Walter and several of his comrades were evacuated to No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) located at Beauval. 

A letter from H.B.W. Denison, Chaplain, No. 4 CCS letter dated 27th June 1916 completes the story:

‘It is with deep regret that I write to tell you of the death of your husband, Pioneer Welton, in this hospital. He was admitted yesterday suffering severely from gas poisoning and he died during the evening. Everything possible was one for him and for his comrades suffering from the same horrible gas, but it was of no avail. I am burying him with four of his comrades this afternoon in Beauval cemetery.’

The R.E Record Office confirmation of his death, dated 4th July 1916, states that Walter ‘died from Drift Gas’.

After his death, Walter’s wife, Alice, pursued an insurance claim with Surrey County Council, who had taken out an insurance policy on behalf of Walter. In correspondence with the Council Alice makes the point that she has a son to look after. A letter from the Surrey Education Committee to the Clerk to the County Council states that Alice is ‘badly off and is (going back) to live (in Norfolk to) get work of some kind’. She is described as ‘a capital young woman and deserving of all help’. Alice would have eventually received approximately £100.

Walter is buried at the Beauval Communal Cemetery, Somme, France where his inscription reads “In Ever Loving Memory of My Dear Norman Rest in Peace”.

His name also appears on two memorials in Norfolk and a school memorial in Wallington. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56145028

In addition, his name appears on the “Beddington & Wallington” War memorial, which is close to where his widow lived for at least two decades after the war.  An image can be seen online here:

https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/111198?search=search_map%253Fsearch_value%253Dwallington%2526memorial_name%253D

Walter was entitled to the War Medal and Victory Medal

Sources

Surrey History Centre Files CC/7/4/4

J. E. Edmonds, Military Operations France and Belgium, 1916: 2nd July to the End of the Battle of the Somme, (MacMillan & Co., London, 1932).

War Diary – 4th Division

The Special Companies of the Royal Engineers (poison gas), (‘The Long, Long Trail’, 30th July 2015), https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-corps-of-royal-engineers-in-the-first-world-war/the-special-companies-of-the-royal-engineers-poison-gas/

England Census

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – https://www.cwgc.org/

Ancestry website – https://www.ancestry.co.uk/

 

 

Vice-Admiral Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter VC, Royal Navy

Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter was born in Barnes in the London Borough of Richmond, Surrey, on 17th September 1881. His parents were Captain Alfred Carpenter and Henrietta Maud Shedwell. The Carpenters had a history of service with the Royal Navy dating back to Napoleonic times.

After attending Bedales School Arthur joined the Royal Navy in 1896 to commence his officer training.

Prior to the First World War, Alfred’s service experience included the British naval task force intervention in Crete in 1898, the Boxer Rebellion in 1900-01 and witnessing the fleet royal review in 1902. Alfred was awarded the Royal Humane Society award for saving the life of a sailor who fell overboard in the Falkland Islands.

Over this period, Alfred developed an interest in navigation and came up with some new ideas and inventions.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Alfred was posted to Admiral Jellicoe’s  staff until he was promoted to Commander in 1915 and served as a navigation officer aboard HMS Empress of India between 1915-1917.

As an Acting-Captain, Alfred commanded HMS Vindictive which took part in the Zeebrugge raid on 22/23 April 1918. HMS Vindictive‘s role was to land 200 Royal Marines to destroy shore batteries as part of the plan to close the port to access from German craft, including submarines.

Alfred was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). Due to poor weather conditions, darkness and heavy enemy fire, Alfred’s ship moored at the wrong place; however his outstanding leadership contributed to the overall success of the Zeebrugge mission. The VC citation set out in the London Gazette dated 23 July 1918 read as follows:-

‘Honour for  services in the operations against Zeebrugge and Ostend on the night of the 22nd-23rd April 1918.

The KING has graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned:-

Commander (Acting Captain) Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter, Royal Navy, for most conspicuous gallantry this officer was in command of ‘Vindictive’. He set a magnificent example to all those under his command by his calm composure when navigating mined water bringing his ship alongside the mole in darkness. When ‘Vindictive’ was within a few yards of the mole the enemy started and maintained a heavy fire from batteries, machine guns and rifles onto the bridge. He showed most conspicuous bravery, and did much to encourage similar behaviour on the part of the crew, supervising the landing from the ‘Vindictive’ on to the mole, and walking around the decks directing operations and encouraging the men in the most dangerous and exposed postions.

By his encouragement to those under him, his power of command and personal bearing, he undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of the operation. Captain Carpenter was selected by the officers of the ‘Vindictive’, ‘ Iris II’, and ‘Daffodil’, and of the naval assaulting force to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29th January 1856.’

Alfred was also awarded the Croix de Guerre and also made an officer of the Legion of Honour.

Alfred remained in the Royal Navy post WWI and held several commands, including the role of Aide-de-Camp to the King. He eventually achieved the rank of Vice-Admiral and retired from the Royal Navy  in 1934.

During the Second World War Alfred, commanded the Wye Valley section of the Home Guard.

Alfred married twice during his life. His first wife, Maude Tordiffe, died in 1923. They had one child, a daughter. Alfred married again in 1927, Hilda Margaret Allison Johnson (nee Smith).

Alfred died on 27 December 1951 at St Briavel’s, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, where he is commemorated at St Mary’s Church. He is also commemorated by a stone slab, unveiled to mark the centenary of the award of his VC, in Barnes.

Alfred’s medals, including the Victoria Cross, are on loan to the Imperial War Museum, London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mount family of Hatchford

Cobham Remembers

The first name recorded in the St Andrew’s Church Book of Remembrance is that of “Francis Mount, Captain, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Fell in action at the battle of Hulluch, 13th October 1915”. As with many of the names on our memorial there is a story to be discovered behind this brief entry.

The 1913 Kelly’s Directory entry for Cobham & Hatchford lists Poynters as the residence of Mrs Mount, with Francis Mount esq. recorded as lord of the manor. Originally owned by Thomas Page, a local landowner and partner in the 18th century firm of printers of maps and bibles, Page & Mount, Poynters passed into the Mount Family of Wasing Place, Aldermaston following the marriage in 1781 of Jenny Page, Thomas’ daughter, to William Mount.

Francis born in London in 1872 was the seventh of ten children of William and Marianne Mount and the house was given to him, the second eldest surviving son, following his marriage in 1910 to Gladys Mary Dillwyn-Llewelyn the daughter of Sir John Talbot Dillwyn-Llewelyn of Penllergaer, Swansea, Glamorgan.

Gladys’ father’s London house was in Cornwall Gardens, South Kensington and Francis had a house in Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge. He was a Church Warden at St Matthew’s Church, Hatchford and despite his privileged background had worked for years among the lads in the slums of Bethnal Green. Francis and Gladys quickly made their mark on the village with Downside Common being drained “by the generosity of Mr F Mount who married at Eastertide and received over 400 presents” (Cobham Parish Magazine (CPM) May 1910).

Gladys soon became involved in the life of the village as would have been expected of a lady of her class. As reported in the CPM of August 1910 “Mrs Mount invited local members of the Mother’s Union to Poynters to be addressed by the secretary of the London Diocesan branch. After tea the more adventurous ladies went out on a punt on the river. The vicar who got out to pull the craft across the shallows, fell backwards into the water, thus adding considerably to the enjoyment of the ladies”. By 1914 Gladys was President of the Mother’s Union and she hosted many meetings of that group at Poynters throughout the war years..

Their world was soon to change and the Hatchford & Downside Notes in the CPM (December 1914) printed a list of names of “Those who have responded to the call of their King and Country since the beginning of the War” including “F Mount (Lieut)”. He was then aged 42 and had at first been turned down for active service on medical grounds. But he persisted and joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and by June 1915 “nearly all our Hatchford and Downside soldiers of the new army, including Captain F Mount have now gone to the front” (CPM).

In October 1915 Francis Mount was reported “missing”. Lieutenant-Colonel F W Foley, Captain Mount’s Commanding Officer, wrote to Mrs Mount “It is with the greatest regret I write to tell you that poor Frank is missing and I fear there is little hope of his being alive …

Major Bayley and your husband led the attack in the most gallant manner. Unfortunately before they reached the trench, the Germans had retaken it and brought a very severe machine gun fire to bear on them.”

Captain Mount’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Loos Memorial in France as well as the memorial in St Andrew’s Church.

But life had to go on and both Mrs Mount and Elizabeth, Francis’ eldest sister who took up residence at Poynters, played an active role in the village. Mrs Mount’s support was mainly financial, her name appearing in almost all lists of donors to good causes. Elizabeth sat on many committees relating to Downside School, the District Nurse Fund, Hatchford & Downside Bed Fund, Cobham War Relief Fund and the Coal & Clothing Club. As a member of the Soldiers & Sailors Families Association she was supportive of the wives of those serving overseas and a number of her letters to help obtain medals for widows survive in the national archives. She was also active in helping provide parcels for the troops. In the CPM May 1915, Hatchford & Downside notes it was reported that “small acts of sympathy are appreciated while more solid gifts such as water boots and other clothing sent by Miss Mount as her own personal gifts have been acknowledged in letters of most touching gratitude”, and in August 1915 “From the offerings given on Easter Day we have sent out some 35 parcels, most of them costing 2/6d each, from the Church to our soldiers and sailors at the front. Miss Mount selected the gifts and together with Miss Chubb packed and despatched them. The children of the school and our energetic work party under Miss Mount’s supervision have made and despatched about 200 sandbags for which Capt. Mount appealed from the trenches and of which our soldiers are badly in need”.

Elizabeth died in 1953 and was buried at St Matthews Church, Hatchford. Gladys died in Reading in 1968.