June 1917

One hundred years ago, in June 1917, the Messines offensive was launched, the battle running from the 7th to the 14th of that month. Messines is a village in Flanders, Belgium and the aim was to capture a German-held ridge and thence go forward to Passchendaele and the coast.

London victims of the raid NDJ 21 6 2917 2f

At home, on the 13th of June, London suffered an air raid. After successes using Zeppelin airships to launch attacks on Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn, and London, the Germans switched their attention to the use of Gotha aeroplanes.

Little victims of the raid NDJ 21 6 1917 2dThis next attack on the capital resulted in the deaths of 162 civilians, the highest death toll from a single air raid on Britain during WW1, and inspired the verse reproduced here in the North Devon Journal – the sentiment that bombing the innocent will not win wars resounds down the years but the lesson remains unlearned. A further attack, on 7th July, killed a further 57.

Royal name change NDJ 21 6 1917 8cMeanwhile, the Royal Family had come to the decision to adopt more British sounding surnames, and at the same time, to restrict the titles of Prince and Princess to those in direct line to the throne. Existing princes and princesses were to be ennobled and so Prince Louis of Battenberg was to become a marquis, having been forced to resign as First Sea Lord, and being the father of Louis, later Earl Mountbatten.

Back at home in North Devon the casualties from the War continued to rise, due to battle, injury or sickness, with casualties from the various fronts. The North Devon Journal of Thursday 7th June 1917 carried 26 death notices, half of which were directly related to the War.

 

WRF Miller obit WT 9 5 17 3bAmong the death announcements in this week were those of George Henry Tucker of Northam, in Mesopotamia, and of Lieut William Reginald Francis Miller. Lieut Miller was the only son of William Miller, then living in Exmouth, who had followed his own father William Walter Miller as a director of the Derby Lace Factory. Lieut Miller had in fact died in action on the 25th of April that year and the Western Times reported that he was “believed killed” in May, noting that many employees of the lace factory had written to the parents to express their “deep sympathy … in their anxiety“.

Goldsworthy and Millman Ilf WT 30 6 17 2eThe deaths of Stanley Millman and Linden Goldsworthy of Ilfracombe were recorded in the Western Times. Both had been killed in action in France.

 

John Walter Harris NDJ 28 3 17 5eThe death of John Walter Harris, who had been reported missing from the 7th of June, was not confirmed officially until the end of March 1918. What agonies his family must have gone through in the meantime can only be imagined. The memorial notice below was placed in the paper by his sisters in 1930.

John Walter Harris NDJ 29 5 1930 8e

Chas Pidgeon NDJ 12 7 17 5c

The only direct reference to a death due to the conflict at Messines comes in a report lifted from a Stroud newspaper concerning that of the son of a former Barnstaple resident, Charles Pidgeon, who had worked at Raleigh Cabinet Works (Shapland and Petter) as a French polisher, a profession into which his son had followed.

The names of Friend and Reed are still associated today with their respective villages of Shirwell and Braunton. Both families were to lose a son in the summer of 1917 and the accounts of the well attended memorial services reflect their standing in the community.

According to the 1901 Census, this particular Friend family had in fact only moved to Shirwell after the births of Thomas and Ernest, both mentioned in the article below published on Thomas’ death.

TW Friend NDJ 14 6 17 5c   TW Friend memorial service NDJ 21 6 17 5b

Thos Friend memorial notice NDJ 6 6 18 8e

John Friend tribunal NDJ 25 1 17 5e

Earlier in the year their father William had attended a tribunal to oppose the conscription of his youngest son, John Marshall, who was a horseman on the family farm. His case was upheld.

Ernest is described as wounded and missing from April 23rd. He was later “presumed dead” and the entry below shows the allowances then paid to his father.

Ernest Friend Soldiers Effects Ancestry

Ernest Reed of Braunton is shown here, in the 1922 Census, living at home in Church Street with his parents and younger sister. He was then working as a postman, as, according to his obituary notice six years later, he continued to do until enlisting two years previously.

Ernest Reed 1911 Census cropped

 

 

Later in the month the deaths of William A Jewell of Appledore and Walter Lewis of Barnstaple were confirmed, both from fever – the former in Basra from cerebro spinal fever, the latter from malarial fever in India.

 

Joseph Heggadon NDJ 21 6 17 2d

Sadly it was not just battle and illness which claimed the lives of the young enlisted men. This sad account describes how Joseph Heggadon of Petrockstowe drowned whilst bathing off the Isle of Wight with other members of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Perhaps he was not used to the effects of tidal currents, living further inland at some distance from the sea.

 

Sources –

Ancestry Library Edition – 1911 Census, UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929, Soldiers Who Died in the Great War – (free access available in the Local Studies Centre and any Devon library, subject to conditions)

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal, Western Times – (online – available free in the Local Studies Centre, charge for printouts)

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/spotlights/airraids.htm

 

The Battle of Arras, April – May 1917

This month sees the centenary of the Battle of Arras which took place from the 9th of April to the 16th of May 1917. This was a major offensive involving troops from the four corners of the British Empire who attacked trenches held by the army of Imperial Germany to the east of the city of Arras, France.

It was planned in co-operation with the French and to coincide with their forthcoming offensive on the German positions topping the Chemin-des-Dames ridge, an area of high ground north west of Rheims.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website states that in 38 days of fighting around Arras, some 300,000 servicemen on both sides were wounded, missing or dead. The British Army suffered an average of 4,000 wounded and killed every day: the highest average daily casualty rate of any British offensive on the Western Front. For many, the combat they experienced at Arras would be the most brutal of the war.

Not only ground troops were involved – the CWGC website continues – in April 1917, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) fought for control of the skies above Arras. The losses they suffered were so heavy that the period became known to British aircrews as ‘Bloody April’. After the war, this location was chosen for the memorial to all those flyers of the British Empire who died on the Western Front but whose final resting place is unknown. The RFC had the vital role of scouting enemy positions, directing the fire of British artillery, and attacking enemy positions and troops. They outnumbered the Germans but their aircraft were old and almost obsolete. Using superior technology and tactics the Germans inflicted terrible losses on their RFC counterparts. Manfred Von Richthofen – better known as the ‘Red Baron’ claimed over 20 ‘kills’ during April alone.

Battle for Arras summary NDJ 17 Jan 1918The article alongside is part of a summary of the progress of the War printed in the North Devon Journal in the January of 1918. Throughout the War there appear weekly updates on the campaigns in the various theatres of war as well as news of North Devon soldiers, both on the front and at home. One such weekly update, published on Thursday 10th May and written on the Friday of the previous week, is reproduced below.

Arras NDJ 10.5 1917

One casualty of the battle, Herbert Eller, has already featured in one of our earlier blogs. The letters that he wrote to his mother from the Front, including many first hand experiences, were published in the North Devon Journal. His story is particularly poignant as he had a German father, and you can read it by clicking here Herbert Eller 1891-1917 Private 13180 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment Arras

E Bale casualty report NDJ 3.5 1917

More fortunate, and now safely returned to Blighty, was Bideford soldier Private E Bale who had been wounded at the Somme and again during the battle for Arras. As he is not mentioned on the town memorial, he appears to have survived the war.

Spencer Bassett 1

Local football fans and, in particular, supporters of Exeter City FC would have been saddened to read of the death of Spencer Bassett, a half back who had played for Arsenal.

Spencer Bassett 2

 

 

 

 

 

These reports appeared in the Western Times, where he was described as “a real good fellow and a right cheery pal”.

 

Ernest J Townsend MM award NDJ 30.8.17

In August 1917 it was announced in the North Devon Journal that young Ernest Townsend of Combe Martin had been awarded the Military Medal for his conspicuous gallantry and bravery during the battle.

Aged only 20 he had already served three years on the front line.

Again, as he does not appear on the village memorial, he appears to have survived the war.

 

Farley, coal business, Lynton 22.11.17This article, from November 1917, almost asks for acceptance of an “incomer” to Lynton taking over a local coal business, on the grounds that he has served his country at Arras and Popperinghe.

Gratitude of Arras Western Times 19.5.1917

 

The Western Times published the thanks of the people of Arras to the British Army on the 19th of May 1917. Arras is a major place of commemoration of the war and, although I have not been able to find whether the guns mentioned still exist, is where a huge memorial and cemetery designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens can be found. More about WW1 memorials in and around Arras

Download Commonwealth War Graves Commission Arras Guide

Arras Memorial CWGC

Despite the up to date reports appearing in the local press there were times where, due to the nature of the ongoing campaign, news of specific casualties was delayed substantially, which must have caused their loved ones much anxiety and distress.

It was not until nearly a year after the event that the death of Private Lawrence Couch of St Giles in the Wood could be confirmed to his wife and parents.

Death notification Pte Lawrence Couch NDJ 11.4.1918

Also a year later the North Devon Journal could report the award of a crucifix in memory of those of the parish who had died in the War to Horwood Church. This was made from a shell, machine gun bullets and shrapnel.

Crucifix from Arras Horwood and NT 6.6.1918

Crucifix, Horwood Church c John Riddington Young

The crucifix may still be found in the church, recorded here by John Riddington Young in his 2001 booklet St Michael’s, Horwood.

Sources

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Click here for website

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal, Western Times (online – available free in the Local Studies Centre, charge for printouts)

St Michael’s, Horwood – John Riddington Young (2001) Reference copy available in the Local Studies Centre, Barnstaple

DG

Saki special edition

Hector_Hugh_Munro_aka_Saki,_by_E_O_Hoppe,_1913
Hector Hugh Munro by EO Hoppe (1913)

 

One of those killed in the Battle of the Somme was the novelist Hector Hugh Munro, who grew up in North Devon, and is more usually known by his pen name of Saki.

Saki’s history is well documented elsewhere so I will just include those aspects of his life more particular to North Devon and/or which can be evidenced using resources that we can access either online or in hard copy in our Local Studies Centre. This includes the Local Studies Library, North Devon Record Office, and North Devon Athenaeum and is open Wednesday – Friday 10am-5pm.

 

Hector Hugh Munro was born into a military family – his father, himself a Lieutenant, came from an army family and his mother from a naval one. The couple were married in Bengal in 1866 and their marriage was recorded in the Pall Mall Gazette as well as the local Western Times and Exeter and Plymouth Gazette.

Munro Mercer marriage Jan 1867 EPG

Charles’ father, also Charles, and his mother Lucy had both been born in Calcutta, according to the 1851 Census, which finds them in Tawton Road, Newport, Barnstaple – then in the parish of Bishops Tawton. Tawton Road would seem by its place in the census records to be what is now South Street.

Lucy & Charles Munro Tawton Rd 1851 Census

The family’s moves can be seen in the birthplaces of the six children – from Barnstaple to Bunalopole (sic), Chittagong and Chunai (sic), in the East Indies, back to Bedford, England, then to Barnstaple.  I have not found the family in the 1861 Census, just Charlotte as a visitor at a vicarage in Strenshall, North Riding , Yorkshire. Her birthplace is then more accurately recorded as Barrackpore and her Rank, Profession or Occupation as “daughter of Colnl Munro”. By 1871 Lucy has been widowed and is living further along South Street in Clarence Place with her two daughters and a servant.

Mary’s father Captain Mercer’s benevolence is recorded in the North Devon Journal as having given food and sustenance to the poor of the parish of Heanton, in which  Chiv(e)nor (their home as recorded above) lies, over Christmas and New year 1869.

Captain Mercer's benevolence NDJ 1869In May of that year he had moved and the house at Chiv(e)nor was up for rent. However by 1870 he was selling furniture from his subsequent home at King’s Close, Newport – changes of address perhaps related to his Naval service.Heanton for rent May 1869 NDJ

King's Close furniture for sale

Meanwhile Charles and Mary’s married life continued overseas. I cannot locate a birth announcement for Ethel but those of Charles, in 1869, and, in 1871, that of the future Saki, followed from British Burmah, as recorded in the North Devon Journal.

Saki birth reported in NDJ Feb 1871

Mary death report NDJ March 1872

It was thought wise that his mother should return to the safety of  England to be with the family to have her fourth baby. However, whilst walking the country lanes in early 1872, she was involved in an accident, being charged by a stray cow, both mother and unborn child dying as a result. (AJ Langguth, below)

Mary Frances Munro burial at BT 1872Mary is recorded in the Bishops Tawton burial register as having been resident at Newport Terrace, a group of Georgian houses near the bottom of Newport Road. Basil Northover, one of our local researchers, compiled a study of the residents of Newport Terrace from its being built up to the 2000s and we keep a manuscript copy in our Local Studies Centre. However this does not mention either the Munro or Mercer family in its index. It is not clear from the burial register at which number she was staying and there are some periods for which Basil Northover was unable to confirm the owner or tenant of a particular house, which may be the case here. It is possible that Lucy had moved here from her earlier address at Clarence Place.

According to Saki’s biographer AJ Langguth, the bereaved Captain Munro then took a large villa for his mother, sisters and children. Consequently the remaining children stayed with their paternal grandmother and aunts in England whilst their father returned to his Army career in Burma.

Broadgate Villa 1858 Desborough Family thepiltonstory.org
Broadgate Villa in 1858    thepiltonstory.org

Broadgate Villa, in Pilton, was part of a small estate then owned by Colonel Hugh R Hibbert, retired, of Her Majesty’s 7th Regiment of Royal Fusiliers. His widow Sarah is named in a mortgage of 1916 for “Broadgate, Broadgate Villa, and a field called Mill Park and the river running through it” which is held by North Devon Record Office (Document reference – B464/22). The Broadgate Estate was eventually sold off in 1918 and a copy of the particulars, plans and conditions of sale are held by the North Devon Athenaeum (Document reference – B81-13).

North Devon Record Office hold a series of leases, mortgages etc relating to the various properties belonging to the estate. Broadgate Villa is nowadays divided into two houses, Fairfield and Fairmead, but the extent of its grounds can be seen in the 1:500 Ordnance Survey map of 1889.

Broadgate Villa OS 1500 1889

The 1881 Census finds the young Hector living there with his sister Ethel, elder brother Charles having been sent away to school. Charles is recorded, in the same census, as one of 42 boy boarders attending Pencarwick School, run by Charles R Carr, schoolmaster in holy orders, at 10 and 11 Louisa Terrace, Exmouth, with three assistant schoolmasters, a matron, cook, waiting maid, kitchen maid, two housemaids, and two washerwomen. Pencarwick SchoolBy 1893 Pencarwick was advertising its special class for preparation for the Royal Navy, based on “authoritative assurances that “uncrammed” boys are preferred on board the Britannia”.

hhmunro-1881-for-blog The head of the household at Broadgate Villa is Hector’s grandmother, Lucy Munro, and other occupants are a servant and the aunts, Charlotte ( known as Tom) and Augusta. These were the aunts who would find future fame, or infamy, in Saki’s short stories. Lucy died in 1882 and was also buried at Bishops Tawton, despite then living in Pilton. After this the house would be run by the aunts…

Lucy Munro burial BT 1881

The Lumber Room, one of Saki’s short stories, concerns a boy who is punished for a misdemeanour at the table by being left at home whilst the rest of the family go out for an impromptu outing to the beach, and is likely to have developed from a real incident at the house. I won’t spoil the story by saying how the authoritative aunt receives her comeuppance but let’s just say that her fate is less gruesome than the revenge exacted upon the female guardian in another short story, Sredni Vashtar. Both can be well imagined as taking place in the setting of Broadgate Villa.

Hector was to join his brother at Pencarwick School, going on to school at Bedford, and then to Burma himself, in the police, but returned to England after suffering ill health and took up a career in journalism.

AE Barnes bookseller advert 1903He then paired up with another who had grown up in Barnstaple, the caricaturist Francis Carruthers Gould, who illustrated his The Westminster Alice, a parody of political figures as characters from Lewis Carroll’s book. Gould presented a copy of their work to the North Devon Athenaeum in 1903, as reported in the North Devon Journal, and where reference is made to the pen name of Saki.

FCG donates WA to NDA 1903

Saki was in his forties at the time of the First World War and so officially too old to enlist. He refused a commission and joined as an ordinary soldier, rising to the rank of Lance Sergeant.

His army service record is luckily one of the “unburnt” survivors of the WW2 blitz and so we can glean a few pieces of personal information at this time.

Physical description for blog HHM8

This details his physical description on enlistment, together with his occupation…

 

HHMunro1x signature cropped for blog

…and records his signature to his attestation.

Casualty form for blog HHM7

Saki was sheltering in a shell crater near Beaumont-Hamel when he was shot by a sniper, his last words are reported variously along the lines of “Put that bloody cigarette out!”

 

 

 

Next of kin for blog HHM3

His army record shows that Charles and Ethel are listed as his next of kin. Their father had died in 1907 having retired to Westward Ho!

Charles has countersigned this declaration as being correct at the time of Saki’s death.

After this, his sister Ethel destroyed most of his papers but wrote her own account of their early life.

The North Devon Journal report of his death (below) refers to his career in journalism and experiences as a foreign correspondent.

Saki death report NDJ

 

I can find no report of any memorial service for Saki.

With no known final resting place he is one of the 72,240 soldiers who are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Theipval Memorial

Sources –

Saki : a life of Hector Hugh Munro AJ Langguth (1981) Hamish Hamilton – available in the Local Studies Centre

North Devon Record Office – Pilton Deeds – Collection B464 re Broadgate Estate

North Devon Athenaeum –  Document B 81-13 Particulars, Plans and Conditions of Sale of The Broadgate Estate, Pilton, near Barnstaple. May 1918.

1:500 Ordnance Survey (1889) Devonshire sheet XIII 2.9 – available in microfiche form in the Local Studies Centre

British Newspaper Archive – (free access available in the Local Studies Centre, subject to conditions) – North Devon Journal; Pall Mall Gazette; Western Times; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette

Ancestry Library Edition – (free access available in the Local Studies Centre and any Devon library, subject to conditions) – Census records; WW1 service records

findmypast – (free access available in the Local Studies Centre, subject to conditions) – Bishops Tawton burial register

Commonwealth War Grave Commission website http://www.cwgc.org – Thiepval Memorial image

William George Carpenter Conibear 1894-1916 and Edgar Stanley John Conibear 1896-1916

This month we look at two brothers from Ilfracombe who were both lost, one in the Somme, the other at sea, within the month of August 1916.

William George Carpenter Conibear, who served in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, was born in Ilfracombe in 1894.
The family is local to Ilfracombe for at least 2 generations, and have quite a
large extended family in the area.

William was the eldest son of George Edward and Marian Conibear, his mother’s
maiden name was Knight , they married in November 1893, both his parents
were born in Ilfracombe.

pic-1-headline

pic-2-marriage
William has a younger sister and brother; Hilda born 1895 and Edgar born 1896.

In this announcement of Hilda’s birth the family are living at 2 Trafalgar Cottages.

pic-3-birth-announcement
A search for this address brings no results so the cottages may no longer exist.
The harbour area was extensively remodelled at one point and these cottages
might have been there.

The 1901 census, when William was 7, shows the family living in Regent Place,
Ilfracombe, George Conibear’s occupation is given as Postman.

In 1911 the family have moved to St Brannocks Road, George still working as a
Postman.

1911 Census

At this date, when he is 17, William’s occupation is given as Joiner, his sister Hilda
is a Dressmaker and young Edgar, aged 14, is an Errand Boy.
The family has increased by two; Lillian, born 1903 and Horace, born 1904.
Edgar joined the Merchant Navy in 1915.
pic-4-post-office-event

 

This is a report of a Post Office Dinner which William’s father George attended and
at which he sang, from the
North Devon Journal of Nov 16th 1911
Evidently Mr Conibear senior was rather given to public performance as an earlier report, from the North Devon Journal of August 15th 1901, shows.

 

Pic 5 Evidently Mr Conibear

This gives us a little insight into the Conibears’ family life.

 

 

Wm wounded seriously ill

 

William enlisted on the 29th January 1916 in the 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment.
He was wounded on the Somme, 6 weeks after first going out to the front, on 3rd August.

Wm progressing no amputation

At first he was reported to be progressing satisfactorily, in a hospital in France, but died of his wounds on 27th August 1916.

He was 23.

Wm death notice

Picture9 Bois de guillame

William is buried in the Bois-Guillaume Cemetery, in a north-eastern suburb of Rouen
Bois-Guillaume Cemetery. (Courtesy of http://www.findagrave.com)

He was awarded the Victory and British medals.

There is some confusion in the newspaper reports, they give his occupation as apprenticed to Messrs Thomas and Sons, Jewellers in Ilfracombe High Street. The 1911 Census clearly shows his occupation as joiner. It’s possible he was apprenticed to Alfred James Thomas, Cabinet Maker, of Oxford Grove, Ilfracombe, perhaps the two businesses have been confused as they have the same last name. This is only a guess.

 

Edgar Stanley John Conibear, William’s younger brother was born in 1896.
The 1911 census shows his occupation, aged 14, as Errand Boy.
He served in the war in the Merchant Navy.

SS PersicPicture21 Persic pass list

Edgar first went to sea on a passenger ship, the Persic, as a steward, in early 1914, sailing to Sydney, Australia, arriving in May of that year.

We next hear of him as an apprentice on the Merchant Navy Ship Honiton, he was indentured at Glasgow in 1915.  The Honiton was mined 2 nautical miles East of Longsand Light Vessel and beached at Shoeburyness, on the 30th August 1915. The ship was a total loss, it was on passage from Buenos Aires for Hull with maize and linseed. The crew seem to all have been rescued safely.

Edgar Conibear Deaths at Sea findmypast

picture20-medals

Edgar’s next ship was the Bideford from which he was reported as lost on the 1st
August 1916.

Edgar was awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal and the British Medal.

 

 

The surviving family continued to live in Ilfracombe, George and Marian were still
living at 81 St Brannocks Road in 1939 and Hilda, still single, is living with them,
George is retired from the post office.

Conibear 1939 Reg

Lillian Sandra German Conibear married William E Richards towards the end of
1930. In 1939 they were living in Slade Road, Ilfracombe. By a remarkable coincidence they were living in my house.

W Richards 1939 Reg

L Richards 1939 Reg
William is working as Head Gardener and Cow Man. It appears that they have two
children as there are two other people living at the address whose records are
closed, this indicates someone either still living or who died after 1991.

Horace married Emily Tucker at the beginning of 1929, in 1939 they were living at
Number 12 St Brannocks Road, there are also 2 closed records on their entry so
presumably these were also children. Horace was working as a Drapery & Furniture Salesman.

Picture25 Grave Ilf also George and EdgarGeorge died in 1951 and his wife Marian in 1954

Hilda died, still unmarried, in 1981, Lillian in 1968 and Horace in 1971. Fortunately
Lillian’s husband survived the Second World War, it may be, as he was working with
livestock, that he was in a reserved occupation.

The family grave commemorates both William (as George) and Edgar as well as their parents and sister.

LH

 

Sources

Census records  – Ancestry Library Edition (Available to use free of charge in any Devon library, charges for printouts apply)

1939 Register – findmypast (Available to use free of charge in the Local Studies Centre, subject to demand on the day as a limited subscription, charges for printouts apply.)

Page from the crew list on the Passenger Ship Persic, Edgar underlined – Copyright http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/britishguide/

Deaths at Sea – findmypast (as above)

Conibear Family Memorial Marlborough Road Cemetery Ilfracombe – http://www.findagrave.com

Photographs courtesy of http://www.roll-of-honour.com copyright © Paula & Dave Kennington 2006

Leonard Montague Paskey and a little more about the Paskey family

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.

royal-1st-north-devon-yeomanry-badgeLEONARD 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.

ndj-8-3-1894-birth

On the 1911 census Leonard was apprenticed to a Draper’s and living with his parents in Summerland Street.

Frederick Paskey 1911 Census at Summerland St

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.

ndj-31-10-1918-3b-death

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)

ndj-12-10-1911-4e-shellard-advert‘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.

peronne-communal-cemetery-extension

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.Paskey family 1871 Census at BT

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.

1901-census
Dorothy, aged 1, appears on the next page of this 1901 Census entry

 

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.

 

 

grosvenor-street-chapel

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.

SP

paskey-cup-ndj-3-10-1946As 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.

surrey-sevens-surrey-mirror-31-3-1950-9b

Sources

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

Reginald James PASKEY

This month we return to the Paskey family of Summerland Street, Barnstaple and look at the second of three brothers to die while serving in the First World War.

REGINALD JAMES PASKEY

Gunner 106798 Royal Garrison Artillery

1886 – 5th October 1918

Reginald James Paskey was born in Barnstaple and his birth was registered during the period July to September 1886, according to his Service record he was 29 years and 8 months old on the 17th July 1916.

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Prior to his enlistment he had been working as a jeweller’s assistant to a Mr. Turner in Ilfracombe, his service record gives his address as 3 Montpelier Terrace, Ilfracombe.

r-paskey-attestation-record-ancestry

 

 

 

The first news of Reginald is in an article in the North Devon Journal on the 15th November 1917 that reads as follows:

‘Gunner Reginald Paskey, R.G.A., son of Mr F Paskey of Barnstaple, is in hospital in Mesopotamia suffering from sand-fly fever. He is progressing favourably.’

r-paskey-ndj-15-11-17

Mesopotamia at the time of the First World War is what is known today as Iraq.

The British Campaign in Mesopotamia (an online source) describes the conditions in Mesopotamia as follows:

‘Conditions in Mesopotamia were appalling for soldiers who served there; extremes of temperature up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit were common.  Arid desert, flooding, mosquitoes, flies and other vermin led to high levels of sickness and death through various diseases.  Under these conditions units fell short of men and many of the reinforcements were half-trained and ill-equipped.  Medical arrangements were shocking with wounded men spending up to two weeks on boats before reaching a hospital. ‘

A year later Reginald is reported as having been posted to Bombay, again being taken ill there.r-paskey-ndj-11-7-18-3f

r-paskey-medical-certificate-ancestry

r-paskey-western-times-9-10-18-3bThe next news on Reginald is then an article in Western Times reporting his death, dated the 9th October 1918 which reads: ’….Gunner Paskey joined the Army early in 1917 and a little later went to Mesopotamia. Unfortunately however he had been ill practically ever since, and brought to England recently, he passed away in Reading Hospital on Saturday.

r-paskey-ndj-10-10-18-8f

r-paskey-ndj-10-10-18-5fA further article in the North Devon Journal dated the 10th October 1918 reads as follows:

DEATH OF A BARNSTAPLE SOLDIER

‘Mr. and Mrs. F Paskey of Summerland Street, Barnstaple, are mourning the loss of their second son Gunner Reginald James Paskey, R.G.A.   The deceased aged 32 served his apprenticeship as a watchmaker and jeweller with Mr. A E Dart of Barnstaple, and he was an assistant to Mr. Turner of Ilfracombe when about a year and a half since, he joined the Army.  He arrived back in England about a fortnight ago, the mother and sister (Miss Paskey) being with him when he passed away in Reading Hospital on Saturday morning.  The third son Pte. Bertie Paskey (Royal Fusiliers) was killed in action on August 6th 1916, and the bereaved parents are undergoing additional anxiety in regard to their fourth son Pte. Leonard Paskey (Devons), who on Saturday was officially, reported missing as from September 2nd.  Pte. Leonard Paskey had seen two years service in Egypt and Palestine, and had been in France for some months.  The fullest measure of public sympathy will be extended to Mr. Paskey (who for many years was an experienced overseer at Barnstaple Post Office) and Mrs. Paskey and family in their great sorrow, and a large circle of friends will join in their earnest hope that they will soon receive re-assuring news with regard to their son Leonard.

r-paskey-findagrave-imageThe mortal remains of Gunner Reginald Paskey were brought to Barnstaple, the interment being made in the cemetery yesterday (Wednesday)). Mr. E Pearse conducted the impressive service, the first part of which was held in the Grosvenor Street Meeting House.  The mourners were Mr. F Paskey (father), Miss Paskey (sister), Mrs. Irwin, Mrs. Jordan and Mr. and Mrs. F Richards (cousins).  The bearers were Messrs. A. Frayne, Turner (2), Philips, H Jones and Dodd, and the numerous friends present evidenced the high esteem entertained, and sympathy felt for the bereaved family.  Beautiful floral tributes were laid on the grave.’

SP

The North Devon Journal of 11th November 1920 records the unveiling and dedication of the new war memorial tablet in the Parish Church at Ilfracombe. The name of Reginald J Paskey is included in the list of names inscribed upon it.

Many WW1 service records were destroyed during a bombing raid in WW2 but those for Reginald Paskey have survived and, as he spent time in various countries and hospitals, contain a variety of different types, giving much detail of his time in the army. These are available on the Ancestry family history website.

r-paskey-casualty-form-ancestry

r-paskey-report-of-death-ancestry

r-paskey-message-from-mother-re-effects-ancestry

The records also include this postcard from his mother requesting the release of his personal effects and, below, the accompanying documentation for their return.

How upsetting it must have been for his mother to write and ask for, and have to sign for her son’s belongings –

reg-paskey-personal-items-returned-ancestry-service-record

– and to finish the story, the receipt, again signed by his mother, for his war medals.

r-paskey-receipt-for-medals-ancestry

Sources

Ilfracombe view – Local Studies Library postcard collection

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal, Western Times (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)

Ancestry Library Edition – British Army WW1 Service Records (available free online in the Local Studies Centre and in any Devon library)

http://www.findagrave.com – image of gravestone

Christmas and New Year 1916/17

christmas-postcard

This month we take a look at a selection of the stories and adverts that appeared in the local newspapers over Christmas and New Year 1916/17.

darts-eggmore

William Dart of the Devon Seed Stores, 73 High Street, was advocating the use of his “Eggmore laying meal” to encourage hens to lay during the cold damp months of winter when eggs were scarce.

chas-lockYour Christmas fare could be obtained at a number of local businesses. Plum puddings and mincemeat, a large assortment of chocolates and crystallized fruit, prize cheddars, stiltons and swiss gruyere, ox tongues in tins and glass, could all be found at Chas Lock of 28 Boutport Street. “Home-made sausages, brawn and lard of the highest quality” could be found at A Frayne and Son, 34 Bear Street, pork purveyors, ham and bacon curers.

dornatsCC Dornat, North Devon Mineral Works, Tuly Street, Barnstaple offered “non-alcoholic high class cordials… a delicious substitute for ordinary intoxicating wines &c… possessing warming and invigorating qualities”. However, if you had “that creepy chilly feeling” or were feeling “stuffy in the head” you could obtain the Barum Cure from Frank Dyson, chemist of 26 Joy Street, Barnstaple.

barum-cure

dunns-stores

Dunn’s Stores, at 22 and 23 High Street, offered “a huge stock of Xmas cheer”- the supply of Valencia and Jamaica oranges, Egyptian dates and Californian plums seemingly unaffected by the continuing hostilities although it was said that “owing to the War, Turkey figs (were) unprocurable”.

Difficulties of supply were also mentioned by W Dalling, tobacconist, of 11 High Street, who acknowledged that “in spite of present difficulties and shortage of supplies” that he could offer a selection PRACTICALLY EQUAL to his pre-war standard” of “the most acceptable and useful Xmas presents”.

W Manaton of Braunton also sought to reassure customers that he could “still supply pre-war indigo suitings” which when “made up with linings of a quality not now obtainable, enable us to keep up our old quality”.

helliers

Frank Rowe of Barnstaple and Braunton announced that “Father Christmas has arrived” with sacks and sacks of dolls and toys” on offer. Hellier’s Novelty Stores of 88 High Street suggested that we “throw off dull care and let us have a pleasant Xmas with our little ones” – by way of a trip to see all the “pretty and interesting things”at their shop. In the small ads Hellier’s also advised that you “always take an electric pocket lamp with you these dark nights- to be had… all prices” at their stores, of course.

samuel-dawSamuel Daw of 12 and 13 High Street suggested a Khaki Xmas, and the purchase of “military woollen half hose” or “warm pants or vests” among the ideas for “the man in khaki”. Walter J Thomas of 48 Boutport Street commended “something useful in these times”for men in the Services and a similar choice, including “sleeping helmets, mufflers, (and) spencers”, and sustenance in the form of Genoa Cake from Barnstaple Bakeries was mooted as”an ideal present for our boys at the Front”

The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway announced a change in its timetable to accommodate the Christmas Market being held on the Thursday 21st December rather than the usual Friday, and a Sunday service for Christmas Day itself.

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cinema-advertEntertainment on offer at the Theatre Royal consisted of the “special War Office picture – The King visits his armies in the Great Advance” four showings on Boxing Day and Wednesday.

Those injured in the War were not forgotten, as a collection on behalf of Barnstaple War Supply Depot was to be made on Christmas Market Thursday, the depot having “established a fine record in making requisites for the wounded in the hospitals and in other directions”.

war-supply-depotThe daily cost of the War was now a staggering “£ 5,710,000 including £400,000 daily in advances to Allies”. The total expenditure of the War for the year was said to have been £1,950,000,000, £350,000,000 more than had been the Budget estimate. Mr Bonar Law pointed out that the armies could not be kept at their present strength indefinitely and that all that could be hoped for was that they would be “kept on a strong figure long enough to beat our enemies” – an estimated figure of an extra 1,000,000 men for 1916/17 bringing the total to 5,000,000 is quoted.

filleigh-soldierThe effects of this mass mobilisation on families are illustrated by two brief articles. One records the death of 19 year old John Yeo, of Raleigh Park, at Aldershot, so probably in the Army, the fifth son of a family who had four sons in the Services. The other, a poignant note of sincere thanks by the three sons of the recently deceased FJ Tancock, neither of whom could attend their father’s funeral due to being on active service abroad.

The sad news reached Filleigh of the death of Private Arthur Pugsley who had been hit by a piece of shell and died on the way to the dressing station. The platoon commander, writing to his widow, also enclosed a letter written to her on the day of his death.

woolaway-deathAnother sad loss, to Chittlehampton, was of Harold Woolaway of Coombe farm, who had been home in uniform only a fortnight previously but contracted measles and died in the Naval Hospital at Plymouth.

 

dennis-brothers

Mr and Mrs Charles Dennis of Bedford Street, who had heard nothing for over a year of their two sons, who had survived the siege of Kut and since been prisoners of war in Turkey, had heard in the last weeks that both had died from dysentery or sickness. They had two other sons in the Army, one of those in Mesopotamia.

Mr and Mrs E Berry of Carrington Terrace, already looking after their three grandchildren after their daughter’s death. had heard that their son-in-law was now suffering from malaria and heart disease in Alexandria. They too had three sons of their own in the Army.

The suicide of Mabel Vavasour Peek, 32 year old companion help from Ilfracombe, was put down to her “temporary insanity” having asphyxiated herself in the gas oven, her employer having found her lying on the scullery floor one morning after her breakfast in bed had not arrived, nor had any answer to her summoning bell. Miss Peek’s brother had just gone to the Front and she was said to have been worried that he would never come back.

darch-deathMrs Darch of Pilton Street, heard of the death of her husband William from malarial disease and yellow jaundice in Basra. He had had the disease three times already and she had also received on the same morning, a letter from him saying that he was improving and to be transferred to a convalescent home. Aged 29 he had been married a few years but no children are mentioned. He did, however, have four other brothers serving.

nd-war-items

 

 

Deaths from dysentery at Alexandria and Basra were also recorded in the North Devon War Items column of the newspaper as well as other soldiers being home on sick or Christmas leave. The receipt of woollen goods from two women, and also eleven shirts and thirteen pairs of socks made by a Swymbridge (sic) working party, by the aforementioned Barnstaple War Supply Depot are also noted.

lynton-and-lynmouth

 

The War Supply Depot at Lynton and Lynmouth had contributed 294 pairs of crutches – made. varnished, and padded locally – and 3,740 bandages and swabs. The Lynton Patriotic Working Society and the Lynmouth Working Party were also making items to be sent overseas.

 

 

 

buckleyWJ Buckley, serving with the Australian contingent, had just spent ten days leave from the French front with an uncle in Braunton. Only 19 years of age, he stood at 6ft 8 in and was also “splendidly developed”, his “extreme height attracting general attention” when he had been in Barnstaple on the Friday.

 

near-shave-at-smAt home, a veteran of the Dardanelles,  James Nunn of South Molton, who had been invalided out of service, had a narrow escape from drowning when he fell through the ice on a flooded lime pit at South Aller Farm after missing his footing while laying rabbit traps. “Suffering with cold and shock, he reached home in an exhausted condition, and has since been confined to his room”.

plough-codden-hill-editorial

 

 

 

In contrast to the enticing Christmas food stuffs on offer, debate in the local press concerned the need for more potatoes to be grown with the suggestion that 50 acres of Codden Hill should be ploughed for this purpose. The Sports Ground and Pilton Park were also considered as locations by Barnstaple Town Council as well as the gardens of Ashleigh Road School. The suggestion of the Sports Ground was apparently “subject to a good deal of ridicule in the Market on Friday among farmers acquainted with the locality” with one expert saying that to break up the grassland was a waste of time and money and better suited to hay or grazing.  The Council also suggested asking the Taw and Torridge Conservators to relax the restrictions on catching coarse fish in the river.

The employment of German prisoners was discussed at a meeting of the Barnstaple War Agricultural Committee and there were suggestions, by Barnstaple Farmers Union and Barnstaple Rural District Council respectively, that German prisoners of war be employed in planting the potatoes and also in quarrying.

Barnstaple Education Committee voted to pay bonuses to teachers for the duration of the War, the amount varying according to their present salary, marital status and number of children. These were to remain in place “for the duration of the War and for six months afterwards” but the article does not make clear the reasoning for this seemingly generous provision.

The tenants of properties in Corser Street, Barnstaple, formerly known as Boden’s Row, were to benefit from an improvement scheme by their new landlord, William Hutchings, whereupon the forty cottages were to be “converted into model dwellings. As the result a very striking and welcome transformation is being effected; and the enterprise of the public-spirited owner is eliciting general commendation.”

letter-re-bakers-wagesThe Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers had written to the Mayor to offer their “very sincere thanks” for his efforts “to avert a strike in the Baking Trade of Barnstaple”. These had been successful and it was hoped that any “outstanding points of difference may be settled in an amicable way.” This pre-General Strike nod to deference and paternalism can also be seen in Earl Fortescue’s speech to the South Molton branch of the Devon Farmers Union, that they had not asked him there to sing Christmas carols, “rather that he should give them such counsel as he could as to the way to which they could best play their part in these anxious days.”

 

letter-re-alcohol

HH Taplin of Woody Bay wrote to the Journal concerned about “the unspeakable influence… that the traffic of alcohol has upon every sphere of our lives.” Arguing for the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic drinks, he continues -“the dread of the slavery to alcohol is even stronger that the German peril” and finishes – “let the New Year bring with it the death of the two greatest curses on earth – the Huns and Alcohol.”

licensed-premises

He would have been pleased to read that, as from January 8th, all the licensed premises in Barnstaple were to close one hour earlier, at 10pm rather than 11pm, to bring them into line with other premises which had had to adopt earlier closing times due to restricted lighting. This, presumably, was the cause of the “dark nights” mentioned in Hellier’s advertisement earlier.

The recently built Barnstaple Grammar School advertised a rather surprising curriculum for boys in that it included a shorthand class besides “classical and modern education, manual instruction” for boys. For younger readers, shorthand is a way of taking notes quickly in a form of hieroglyph, a dying art these days, but one which young women of the post ww2 decades were taught, alongside typing, as a popular career option. But perhaps office work was not seen as appropriate for girls in these earlier times, who were offered their own “specially suited for girls”curriculum of languages, literature, mathematics, botany, cookery and needlework.

bracher-weddingTo finish on a celebratory note, Boxing Day weddings were not uncommon, even up until the 1950s, and in 1916 Walter Bracher and Lily Trollope had been married at Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple. The bride “neatly attired in a tailor made blue costume with a pale blue hat to match” received a set of fox furs from the groom, to whom she gave, in return, a gold signet ring. The Journal comments that “the happy couple were the recipients of numerous and costly presents” – coming from Belle Meadow and Diamond Street respectively, not wealthy areas of the town, perhaps this was seen to be worthy of note.

We hope that you have enjoyed this look at the past and that, despite imminent staffing changes, we will be able to continue our monthly blog postings throughout the next years to reflect the progress of the Great War.

At this time of year, of “peace and goodwill to all men”, it is particularly poignant to remember that this was supposed to be “the war to end all wars” – can we not learn the lessons from the past and stop repeating the same mistakes?

DG

Sources –

North Devon Journal – 20th December 1916 and 4th January 1917 – available to view in our Local Studies Centre at Barnstaple either on microfilm or via the British Newspaper Archive online which is free to use and download, (access may be unavailable at times due to subscription restrictions), your only cost being to pay for printouts.

1916 postcard image – https://www.worldwar1postcards.com/christmas-postcards.php

 

Captain Geoffrey Philip Tregelles

It is now the time of the centenary of the end of the Battle of the Somme. It seems a long time since we published our first blogpost on this subject in July so can only begin to imagine how long those months felt to those in the field of war.

Now, in Armistice Week, we publish the last of our featured Somme casualities, who actually died on the first day of the battle. Next month we will look at news in North Devon around Christmas and New Year one hundred years ago.

treglelles-photo-findagraveCaptain Geoffrey Philip Tregelles

“A” Company, 8th Devonshire Regiment

On Saturday 1st July 1916 Acting Captain Tregelles was killed in action at Mansell Copse due south of Mametz village on the Somme.

The action took place on the first day of the battle of the Somme with the Eighth Battalion Devonshire Regiment fighting as a part of the 7th Division.

Captain Tregelles was 24 years old.

fell-leading-their-men

Prior to this battle, an intense week long artillery bombardment of the German positions took place.

Many of the British shells fired during this bombardment turned out to be “duds” and it is thought that the German army were well informed about British tactics. The German trenches were extremely well constructed and many soldiers simply moved behind their trenches until the bombardment had ended.

The British were ordered to walk steadily towards the German lines and not to run, it seems that even under heavy machine gun fire they obeyed orders.

Many of the German officers in the trenches believed that had the British soldiers charged at a run then they would have overrun the German trenches with far fewer British losses.

tregellas-medal-card2

Captain Geoffrey Tregelles was the only son of Mr George Tregelles and Mrs Marion Tregelles of Clarence Place, Barnstaple, Devon.

The deceased officer had attended Cambridge University and was reading for Holy Orders. He was a member of the Cambridge University Officers Training Corps and so when war broke out he joined up, in company with most university students.

Captain Tregelles was granted a commission on 26th August 1914 and joined his battalion in October 1915.

Within a year he was dead.

tregellas-medal-card1

On the 1st August 1916 George Tregelles wrote a letter to the librarian of the Shakespeare Memorial Library stating that Geoffrey had studied at Cambridge and  “was enthusiastic for Shakespearian study “having been shown some of the library’s treasures by the librarian a few years previously. He had been so impressed that he wished for his copy of the book “In praise of Shakespeare”, to be sent to the Library.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

George Tregelles wrote in this letter “My boy had an active original mind and took a keen interest in literature among other things. Had he lived he might have done some good work in that line.”

It is particularly poignant to read this in the 400th anniversary year of William Shakespeare’s death.

PP

devonshires-gravestone

altar-frontalCaptain Tregelles was also commemorated in his local church at Newport where his parents commissioned an altar frontal and a super frontal in his memory. At the dedication ceremony in January 1917 it was said that he had been preparing to become a priest…when the war broke out and he volunteered for service… His chief concern was to do his duty well, even at the supreme cost of self-sacrifice. He was “faithful unto death”.

Sources

http://www.findagrave.com – photographs of gravestones and memorials

Ancestry Library Edition – BritishArmy WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920 (available free online in the Local Studies Centre and in any Devon library)

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal; Western Times (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)

http://findingshakespeare.co.uk/geoffrey-phillip-tregelles-shakespearian-and-soldier

Albert Richard Peterson

This month our featured casualty of the Somme is Albert Richard Peterson, an “old soldier”, as he described himself, who nevertheless left a widow and three young daughters living in Barnstaple. He would have been proud to know that his daughter Florence grew up to marry and become matriarch of one of North Devon’s most successful business families, their professional ethos echoing his own acknowledged qualities of hard work and attentive service.

Albert Richard Peterson

Sergeant 18960 “D” Battery. 103rd Brigade., Royal Field Artillery

 1874 – 23rd  July 1916

1868-map-of-london-edward-weller-mapco-croppedAlbert Richard Peterson’s birth was registered in the Whitechapel District of London in 1876; he was the son of Henry Peterson and Hannah Dempsey who were married in the Tower Hamlets District of London in 1868.

The 1891 census shows Albert was living with his parents and four sisters  Sarah, Hannah, Mary and Rosina who were all listed as being born in Middlesex.  The family were living in Well Street, Wapping and Albert’s occupation at the age of 15 was shown as a blacksmith, whilst his father Henry was a shoemaker.

1891-census

albert-richard-peterson-service-recordThe next information found about Albert is an Attestation Order for enlisting in the Royal Artillery which he signed on 14th July 1897 where he stated he was 22 years and 5 months old and that he had served previously in the Royal Artillery but had purchased his discharge.   The Anglo-Boer War records show his service number at that time to be 95037 and his rank as a Gunner in U Battery and also gives the information that on the 31st March 1900 he was listed as a prisoner of war at Koornspruit.

There was no record of him in the 1901 census so at this point I have assumed that he was still serving abroad with the Royal Artillery.  The next information found is of his marriage to Emily Sloley at Fremington Church, this states that Albert was employed as a Butler residing in Bickington at the time of his marriage to Emily whose family lived in Fremington.

NDJ marriage announcement

Albert and Emily then had two children whose were born at Exford in Somerset; these were Emily registered in 1907 and Jane registered in 1908. By the time of the 1911 census the family were back living in Barnstaple in Grosvenor Street; Albert’s occupation at this time was a Fruit Salesman. Their third daughter Florence’s birth was registered in late 1912 in Barnstaple.

1911-census

It then appears from this North Devon Journal on the 10th September 1914 that Albert re-enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery at the outbreak of the First World War.

Rejoining the RFA

This later article in the North Devon Journal of the 21st October 1915 (Page 5) refers to his previous service in the Boer War, his pride about his service in the ongoing conflict and the conditions on the Front at that time.

Art re previous service

Albert then appeared to return to Barnstaple in early May 1916 as was stated in the North Devon Journal of the 4th May 1916 (Page 5). The following week 11th May 1916 (Page 5) his promotion to Sergeant was reported.

short leave of absence

promoted to sergeant

The North Devon Journal on the 3rd August 1916 (Page 5) then reports that Mrs Peterson had been advised of the death of her husband as follows.

reads as follows

The North Devon Journal on the 24th August 1916 (Page 5) reads as follows.

reported kia

The above article gives more details of his service prior to the First World War and the regard in which he was held by his company.  A memorial service was then held for Sergeant Peterson, Private R J Eddy and Private W Dibble in St. Mary Magdalene Church in September 1916 with members of all the families attending (North Devon Journal 14th September 1916).

Albert Peterson is buried in Plot B19 in the Peake Wood Cemetery, Fricourt, France. Peake Wood Cemetery is a small cemetery with four rows of graves and six memorials and was first used on the evening of 14thJuly 1916 until March 1917..

Peake Wood Cemetery

Albert’s family remained in Barnstaple and his daughters married locally; Emily married Edward Sampson in 1932, Jane married John Edmonds in 1932 and Florence married Percival Brend in 1931.

The 1939 Register shows that Albert’s widow Emily Peterson was still living at 13 Grosvenor Street in Barnstaple.  She died on the 27th November 1955 aged 73 and is buried in Barnstaple Cemetery; the memorial stone reads as follows:-

“In loving memory of Emily Mary Peterson who fell asleep Nov. 27th 1955 aged 73 years

Also Albert Richard Peterson Sergt. R.F.A. Husband of the above who was killed in action July 23rd 1916. (Buried in France)

Reunited”

SP

Sources

Ancestry Library Edition – Census records; Birth, Marriage and Death Registration records; British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920;  (available free online in the Local Studies Centre and in any Devon library)

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)

findmypast – 1939 register; Devon marriages (parish records); Soldiers Who Died in the Great War (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)

Commonwealth War Grave Commission website http://www.cwgc.org/ – photo of Peake Wood Cemetery, Fricourt

Mapco mapco.net/london.htm – 1868 map of London Edward Weller

 

William James Percy Avery and George Henry Avery

This month we look at another set of brothers, William and Percy Avery, who grew up in Pengelly’s Court. This, one of the many courts which could be found tucked behind the main streets of the town in bygone days, was situated at the south end of the High Street. Both fought and died on the Western Front. George died on the first day of the Somme and is commemorated on a particularly poignant memorial.

William James Percy Avery

Private, Service Number 17321

1st Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry

1880 – 4th March 1915

 and

 George Henry Avery

Private, Service Number 11301

2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment

late 1882/early 1883 – 1st July 1916

Pengelly's CourtThe sons of John George and Mary Ann (or Anne) Avery, who were married in the third quarter of 1873, William and George were both born in Barnstaple, and spent the early part of their lives living in what used to be known as Pengelly’s Court – both the 1881 and the 1891 census’ list the family as living in the area. William and George were part of quite a large family, having at least six other siblings in addition to each other.  Their eldest brother, Charles, was born in 1877, whilst their youngest sister, Charity, was born in 1888. Their other siblings were Annie, born in 1878; Cordelia and Frances, presumably twins, born in 1882; and Thomas, born in 1885. They also had a step-brother, Richard J. Stenteford, who was born in 1871.  Mary’s surname at the time of her marriage was listed as Stentford, and she does not appear to have been previously married; therefore it is highly probably that Richard was born out of wedlock.

Raleigh Cabinet WorksAs a young man, William learnt to be a French Polisher at the Raleigh Cabinet Works, which belonged to Shapland and Petter of Barnstaple. According to a War Item in the North Devon Journal dated 18th March 1915, he also served in the Militia around 1897, and later on in the Volunteers. In the fourth quarter of 1901 he married Nelly Ellen Harris, who was born in 1882. By the time of the 1911 census they were living at 4 Fry’s Court, Silver Street with three living children; Florence Beatrice Avery, born in 1903; William James Percy Avery, born in 1908; and Frederick John George Avery, born in 1910. The census record also lists a fourth, unnamed child who had been born alive but who had subsequently passed away. It would also appear that the couple had another child sometime subsequent to the 1911 census, as upon his death it was noted in the North Devon Journal that he left behind a widow and four living children.

Fort Regent BarracksIn the 1901 census, at the age of 18, George is listed as being stationed at the Fort Regent Barracks on Jersey Island, as part of the Royal Garrison Artillery. In early 1903, he married Hannah Chapple, who was born in 1884. By the time of the 1911 census they were living at 25 Azes Lane with four children; George, born in 1904; Ivey, born in 1906; Jhon (presumably a misspelling of John), born in 1908; and Lilie, born in 1910. George’s occupation at the time is listed as Basket Maker: Wicker.

In the fourth quarter of 1903, William and George’s eldest brother, Charles Thomas Frederick (or possibly Frederick Thomas) W. Avery, appears on the death register, aged 26. It is unclear how he died.

At an unspecified point in time, William took employment at Newquay, Cornwall, where he enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on 23rd December 1914. Earlier in the same year George had enlisted with the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. The exact date that he joined the army is unclear; however, in November George and the rest of the 2nd Battalion, which had until recently been stationed in Egypt, boarded the SS Bellerophon and arrived in France on 19th November 1914.

SS Bellerophon

William was brought up to the Western Front on 14th February 1915, joining his regiment where they were stationed at Hainaut, Belgium. Shortly after his arrival, he wrote a letter to his wife, an extract of which has been recorded;

“Dear Nell,

I received the paper and tobacco all right but you need not send any more tobacco, for we get a lot of it out here. I wish the weather was better; it is frost and snow one day and sunshine the next, but the time is coming when it will be better. Give my best to all at home and to the children, and tell them we shall meet again some day. Kisses for the baby.”

On 11th March 1915 Nelly Avery received another letter, this time from William’s Lieutenant, which read as follows:

“Dear Madam,

I regret to inform you of the death of your husband, Pte W.J.P Avery, which occurred on the 4th of March. He was killed in action. You will receive more details in the course of a few days.”

To this day, William James Percy Avery’s name is recorded on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing at Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

Meanwhile, George and the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment were involved in heavy fighting, having taken part in all of the major battles on the Western Front after the first battle of Ypres. In December 1915, the British and the French had agreed to a joint assault on the Somme, as a part of a combined Allied venture against Germany and her allies. An (arguably unsuccessful) attempt to conceal the Allies intentions from the Central Powers was made on 30th June 1916, when three battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment staged an attack on German forces in the Boar’s Head region of Artois, France. This date has subsequently become known as “The Day Sussex Died,” due to the severe losses inflicted by the German army.

On the following day, 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme began. By the end of the day, approximately 19,240 British soldiers had lost their lives, amongst them George Henry Avery. Today, the site of the trench occupied by the Devonshire Regiment is marked by a memorial bearing the following inscription;

The Devonshires Held This Trench...RP

Sources

Ancestry Library Edition – Census records; WW1 Service Medal and Award Rolls; British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920;  (available free online in the Local Studies Centre and in any Devon library)

British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)

findmypast – Soldiers Who Died in the Great War (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)