This month we look at the last of the three Paskey brothers who died as a result of their service during World War One. Leonard had been officially reported as missing at the time that his brother Reginald died in hospital.
Those who have seen Saving Private Ryan might wonder if a similar effort to that depicted in the film, or at least an excusal from service, might have been made as regards the fourth, and older, brother, Frederick. I cannot find any evidence that he served at all during WW1, perhaps he was in a restricted occupation, but I have found that by the time war had broken out he was married with a young family in Croydon.
We conclude by looking at a little more about the Paskey family and the fate of Frederick’s own son in the Second World War, which had brought the younger man back to North Devon.
LEONARD MONTAGUE PASKEY
Private 345888 16th Battalion Devonshire Regiment (Royal Devon and North Devon Yeomanry) Royal North Devon Hussars
1894 – 2nd September 1918
Leonard Montague Paskey was born in Barnstaple and his birth was registered during the period April to June 1894, his birth was announced in the North Devon Journal dated the 8th March 1894.
On the 1911 census Leonard was apprenticed to a Draper’s and living with his parents in Summerland Street.
The 16th (Royal 1st Devon & Royal North Devon Yeomanry) Battalion was formed at Moascar in Egypt in 1917 from two dismounted Yeomanry units. In late 1917 they took part in the capture and defence of Jerusalem and in March 1918 they were in the Battle of Tell’ Asur. On the 1st May 1918 they embarked at Alexandria for Marseilles where they landed on the 7th May. They served in France and Flanders with the 74th (Yeomanry) division for the rest of the war where they engaged in various battles of the Western Front including the Second battles of the Somme. The Second Battles of the Somme in 1918 were fought in the summer of that year, following the German spring offensive of Operation Michael.
An article in the North Devon Journal on the 31st October 1918 reads as follows:(Note- this edition is missing from the British Newspaper Archive online)
‘Mr. and Mrs. F Paskey, of Summerland Street, Barnstaple, were on Friday officially notified that their son Pte. Leonard Paskey (Devons) previously reported missing, was killed in action or died of wounds in France about September 2nd. The deceased who was 24 years of age, served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Shellard and Co., of High Street Barnstaple. Joining the Royal North Devon Hussars, he saw service first in Egypt and Palestine, and latterly in France, where he had been since May last. He was a young man of noble and kindly attributes, being beloved by all who knew him. This is the third soldier Mr. Paskey (formerly for many years an esteemed overseer at Barnstaple Post Office) has lost in the Great War, and to him and his family in their latest sorrow the sympathy of the residents of a wide district will be extended in the fullest measure.’
Leonard Paskey is buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, in the Somme region of France. The cemetery extension was begun by the 48th(South Midland) Division in March 1917, used by the Germans in 1918, and resumed by Australian units in September 1918. At the Armistice it contained 177 graves, now in Plots I and II. It was then enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields north and east of Peronne and from the other small cemeteries in the area. There are now 1,579 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the extension. 220 of the burials are unidentified.
THE FAMILY OF REGINALD, FRANCIS AND LEONARD PASKEY
The father of Reginald, Francis and Leonard was Frederick Paskey who was born in Merthyr Tydfill in Wales; he was the son of a Frederick Paskey a shoemaker who originally came from Barnstaple; Frederick Paskey senior had returned to the area with his family (including Frederick) and by the time the 1871 census was taken they were living in Bishops Tawton.
Frederick Paskey married Emma Summerhays in 1880 in Barnstaple; Emma was the daughter of George and Mary Summerhays of Barnstaple. The 1871 census shows that Emma is living in Bishops Tawton where she was working as a domestic servant.
Frederick and Emma had five children these were Frederick G., Reginald, Francis, Leonard and Dorothy who were all born in the Barnstaple area.
The 1881 census shows Frederick employed as a Postal Clerk and he and Emma were then living at Clarence Cottage in Bishops Tawton; Frederick continued his employment with the Post office throughout his working life and the 1911 census shows him employed as a Postal Overseer. Reginald, Francis and Leonard’s older brother Frederick G Paskey also worked for the Post Office in this area for a period of time.
By the time of the 1891 census the family had moved to Salem Street in Barnstaple and by the 1901 census they were living in Summerland Street in Barnstaple and were still there in 1911.
The funeral service for Frederick Paskey was held in 1931 at the Grosvenor Street Meeting House; this was a place of worship for the Brethren. According to Kelly’s Directory the meeting house was built in 1840 and at that time could hold up to 400 people. The family were living at Nethercleave, Umberleigh at the time of his death.
Emma Paskey died in 1938, she had been living at Taw View Terrace in Bishops Tawton at the time; she was buried in Barnstaple Cemetery.
Frederick George Paskey first worked for the Post Office; he married in 1907 in the Barnstaple area. At the time of his death in 1947 he was living in the Croydon area in Surrey.
Dorothy Paskey was born at the turn of the 20th century in Barnstaple; she had visited her brother Reginald at Reading Hospital in 1918 and was with him at the time of his death. She was living in the Barnstaple area when she died in 1990.
As a postscript, Frederick Paskey’s own son Horace attended Archbishop Whitgift’s School in Croydon and whilst there developed a love of rugby. He then went on to become a journalist, specialising in reporting on that sport, for the Croydon Times prior to joining the RAF to serve in World War Two. Horace was stationed at Chivenor and lost his life in a training sortie in 1943 when his Wellington failed to return from a flight over the Atlantic. The North Devon Journal reports that in 1946 his parents gave a silver trophy in his name to be awarded each year to”the best and most sportmanlike rugby team in the Croydon area” who would receive a replica to keep. The following year the death of Frederick Paskey is recorded in the March quarter of 1947 in the Croydon area. The 1939 Register records him as having been a “telegraphist – news”, whilst his daughter Doris is recorded as a “Sub Post Office clerk-in-charge”. It would seem that family connections had some influence in their occupations across the generations.
Ancestry – 1871 Census, 1881 Census, 1891 Census, 1901 Census, 1911 Census; birth, marriage, death records (available free online in any Devon Library)
findmypast – 1939 Register (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)
British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal; Western Times; Surrey Mirror (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)
Peronne Cemetery photograph – http://www.cwgc.org/
http://barnstaple.grosvenorchurch.org.uk/about-us/church-history – Image of Grosvenor Street Chapel