Category Archives: Dorset

CWG: Private Albert Stockley

Private Albert Stockley

Albert William Stockley was born in the spring of 1897, the youngest of twelve children to Frank and Mary Ann Stockley. Frank was a clay cutter from Dorset, and he and his wife raised their family in the picturesque village of Corfe Castle.

Sadly, much of Albert’s life is lost to time. He would have been 17 years old when war broke out, so it seems likely that he would not have been in the first wave of men to enlist.

Albert joined the Dorsetshire Regiment and, as a Private, was assigned to the 1st/4th Battalion. His troop was based in India for the first part of the war, before moving to Mesopotamia in 1916. There is nothing to confirm, however, whether Private Stockley served abroad, or if he remained as part of a territorial force.

Private Stockley was demobbed on 22nd May 1919, and awarded the Victory and British Medals for his service. He returned to Dorset, but is it at this point that his trail goes cold.

All that is evident is that Albert William Stockley passed away on 1st April 1920, ages just 23 years old. was laid to rest in the Old Church Cemetery in his home town of Corfe Castle.


Albert shares his grave with his older sibling, George Stockley, who died in June 1916. The brothers are commemorated on the same headstone.


CWG: Driver George Stockley

Driver George Stockley

George Stockley was born in December 1888, one of twelve children to Frank and Mary Ann Stockley. Frank was a clay cutter from Dorset, and he and his wife raised their family in the picturesque village of Corfe Castle.

When he left school, George found work as a house painter but it seemed this was not to be a career. In March 1913, he married Lillian May Stockley, who had been born in Frome, Somerset, but who was working as a barmaid in nearby Weymouth. Later that year, the couple had a daughter, Georgina, and, by the time he enlisted two years later, George was working as a barman, and the young family were living in Bournemouth.

George had joined up on 10th February 1915, and was assigned to the 3rd/6th Hampshire Battery of the Royal Field Artillery. His service records show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, but they also confirm that, when he had his medical examination on 30th May, he was deemed as medically unfit for military service.

Sadly, there is no further information to confirm why Driver Stockley’s military career was cut so short. His trail goes for a year, until, on 20th June 1916, he passed away, aged just 27 years old. The cause of his passing is also lost to time

George Stockley was laid to rest in the Old Church Cemetery in his home town of Corfe Castle.


George shares his grave with his youngest sibling, Albert William Stockley, who died in April 1920. The brothers are commemorated on the same headstone.


CWG: Private Alfred Northway

Private Alfred Northway

Alfred William Winsor Northway was born on 3rd December 1870 in Barnstaple, Devon. He was the only child to farm labourer John Northway and his wife Susan. By the time Alfred was a few months old, John had moved the young family to Ashburton.

On 2nd March 1890, Alfred married Susanna Raddon in Newton Abbot. The couple went on to have eleven children – Susanna already had two children when they married; there is no indication as to whether they were also Alfred’s.

By the time they married, Alfred was working as a farm labourer. This was a job he continued to do to support his rapidly growing family. War was coming to Europe, however, and the stability of life in Ashburton was soon to change. During this time, he volunteered for the 3rd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment and this stood him in good stead moving forward.

At least two of Alfred and Susanna’s sons enlisted when the First World War broke out; not to be outdone, Alfred also joined up on 11th September 1914. Assigned to the 11th (Reserve) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment as a Private, there is no indication that he saw any time abroad. Instead it seems that he served at the regiment’s depot in Wareham, Dorset, supporting the Training Reserve.

By the end of 1916, Private Northway had fallen ill. Admitted to the Sidney Hall Hospital in Weymouth with pneumonia, sadly the condition got the better of him. He passed away on 3rd February 1917, at the age of 46 years old.

Alfred William Winsor Northway was brought back to Ashburton for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in the town.


CWG: Ordinary Seaman Sidney Towills

Ordinary Seaman Sidney Towills

Sidney George Towills was born in Soho, London, on 14th May 1900. He was the youngest of two children to Henry and Maria Towills. Both had been born in Dorset, but Henry had found work as a constable for the Metropolitan Police and they had moved to London by the early 1890s.

The 1901 census recorded the family as living in Plaistow, but ten years later the family had moved back to Dorset, and were ensconced back in Maria’s home village of Abbotsbury.

When war broke out, Sidney was only 14 years old. He wanted to play his part, however, and as soon as he was able to enlist, he did so. He joined the Royal Navy on 9th April 1918 and, because of his age, was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class.

Sidney’s service records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a health complexion. He was assigned to the cruiser HMS Powerful and, on his eighteenth birthday, just over a month after enlisting, he was awarded the rank of Ordinary Seaman.

Tragically, Ordinary Seaman Towills’ service was not destined to be a long one. In June, he was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Plymouth with empyema, a lung disease; he passed away from the condition on 2nd July 1918. He was barely 18 years of age and had served in the Royal Navy for 96 days.

Sidney George Towills was brought back to Abbotsbury for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in the heart of the village.


CWG: Private William Moore

Private William Moore

William John Moore was born in October 1893 in the Dorset village of Puncknowle. He was the second of four children to Richard and Elizabeth Moore. Richard was a farm labourer and Elizabeth’s family were all fishermen, but is was agricultural work that William sought out when he left school.

There is little direct information available about William’s life. When war came to Europe, he joined up, enlisting as a Private in the Dorsetshire Regiment at some point before April 1918. He served on home soil, and was based at one of the regiment’s depots on Salisbury Plain.

At some point late in 1918, Private Moore was admitted to the Military Hospital in Tidworth, although the cause for his admission is not known. Tragically, William died in the hospital on 13th October 1918. He was just 25 years of age.

William John Moore was laid to rest in the cemetery in his home village of Puncknole.


CWG: Private Arthur Foote

Private Arthur Foote

Arthur Thomas Foote was born on 18th June 1880 in the Dorset town of Sherborne. One of three children to Jane Foot, his mother married widower James Rose in 1887, giving Arthur a half-sibling. James passed away in 1889, and Jane married another widower – Albin Pitman – and Arthur had a further six siblings and half-siblings.

By this point, the family had moved to Somerset, settling in Compton Pauncefoot. The 1901 census recorded Arthur as having left the family home and he was boarding in nearby Holton. He had, by this time, found work as a carter.

Arthur had met Agnes Wetherall, a tailor’s daughter from the village of Baltonsborough. The couple married in Wells in April 1902, and set up home in nearby Glastonbury. They went on to have two children – Robert, who had been born in 1898, and Lillian, who was born in 1902 – and Arthur continued working as a carter for a miller.

When was broke out, both Arthur enlisted. While full details of his service are not available he joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment as a Private, and was assigned to their Labour Corps.

Robert had also enlisted early on in the war. He joined the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and was killed in fighting in Norther France in September 1916. He was awarded the Mons Star, and is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval.

Arthur survived the war, and returned home in early 1919. He quickly came down with pneumonia, and passed away within a week of his return, on 11th February 1919. He was 38 years old.

Arthur Thomas Foote was laid to rest at the top of Glastonbury Cemetery, walking distance from the family home.


CWG: Serjeant Charles Flower

Serjeant Charles Flower

Charles Franklin Flower was born in Walcot, Bath, at the end of 1879. The middle of five children, his parents were stonemason John Flower and his dressmaker wife, Elizabeth.

John died when his son was only eleven years old, and Elizabeth passed away just two years later, leaving Charles an orphan at just 13 years of age.

He disappears off the radar for a time, only reappearing again when, in the summer of 1895, he enlisted in the 13th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Charles’ service records show that he stood 5ft 7ins (1.69m) tall, weighed 121lbs (55kg) and had grey eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. He was also noted as having a tattooed ring on his left ring finger.

After eighteen months on home soil, Private Flower was sent out to the East Indies, where, apart from a short stint back in England, he spent the next twelve years. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in May 1898, but though his own volition, reverted to the rank of Private seven months later. Charles was destined for bigger things, though, and was again promoted to Lance Corporal in September 1900. Over the next few years, he received further promotions – to Corporal in September 1905 and Lance Serjeant eighteen months later.

In the autumn of 1908, Charles returned to home soil, but his military service continued. On 12th April 1909, he married Elizabeth Ann Wills, a gamekeeper’s daughter from Cannington, Somerset. They set up home in Portland, Dorset, where Charles was based, and went on to have a son, Herbert, a year after they married.

By 1910, Charles had again been promoted, and was now a Serjeant. In the next couple of years, the family moved from the Dorset coast to the Somerset town of Frome. Serjeant Flower’s service continued, but he remained on home soil, even when war broke out.

All was not well with Charles’ health, however, and by the summer of 1915, he was admitted to hospital. He was thin and anaemic, with an enlarged liver and an ‘enormously swollen’ spleen. This was discovered to be a malignant growth, and Serjeant Flower was discharged from military service on medical grounds on 20th December 1915. He had been in the Somerset Light Infantry for more than two decades.

Charles Franklin Flower was not to recover from his illness. He passed away at home on 27th February 1916, at the age of just 37 years old. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in Frome.


Serjeant Charles Flower
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Private Edward Rendell

Private Edward Rendell

Edward Rendell was born in the Dorset town of Corfe Castle in 1894. His parents were Edward and Sophie Rendell, and he had two siblings, William and Agnes.

Sadly, little information on Edward Jr’s early life is available. His father was a farmer – or at least an agricultural labourer – and this is the line of work his son went into.

When war broke out, Edward Jr was quick to play a part, enlisting within a fortnight of hostilities being declared. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment as a Private and, after initial training, was sent out to the Western Front by March 1915.

Private Rendell’s battalion was involved in the fighting at Ypres and, on 19th April 1915, he was injured, receiving a gun shot wound to his left arm. Initially treated in the field, he was later transferred to a hospital in Boulogne, before being evacuated back to England to recover.

Reunited with his regiment, Edward was then shopped out to Gallipoli, arriving there in September 1915. While he is likely to have been involved in the fighting in Turkey, he did end up in hospital, but was suffering from influenza.

A couple of weeks later, he is recorded as being admitted to a hospital in Malta, although whether this was also because of the lung condition is not clear. Either way, Private Rendell was back in England by mid-December 1915, remaining in the country for six months.

In March 1916, he again returned to the fray and was posted back to the Western Front. Private Rendell spent a couple of months in battle until, on 21st June 1916, he received a gun shot and shrapnel wound to his thigh. The injury was serious enough for him to be medically evacuated back to England, and he was admitted to the Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital at Norton-sub-Hamdon in Somerset.

Sadly, while his treatment may have bought Private Rendell some time, it seems that his wounds were too severe; he passed away on 30th July 1916 at the age of just 22 years old.

By this time both of Edward’s parents were dead; his next of kin was his sister, Agnes. While she was still living in Dorset, Edward was laid to rest in St Mary’s Churchyard in Norton-sub-Hamdon.


CWG: Private Edgar Rattle

Private Edgar Rattle

Edgar Albert Rattle was born in Yeovil, Somerset, in 1895, the youngest of three children to Alfred and Charlotte Rattle. Alfred was a railway porter from Yatton, who raised his family in a cottage near the centre of the town.

When he left school, Edgar found employment as an accounts clerk; by the time of the 1911 census, Alfred has moved from being a porter to collecting passengers’ tickets; the family lived in a terraced house next to the station where he worked.

War was on the horizon by now and, although Edgar’s full service records are no longer available, the documents that do remain give an indication as to his time in the army.

Private Rattle enlisted in the early stages of the war; he joined the Somerset Light Infantry in October 1914, although it is not clear which battalion he was assigned to. Later in the conflict, he had been attached to the Labour Corps, and spent some time working on a farm in Ilchester.

It was while in Ilchester in October 1918, that Edgar had some leave, and travelled to Dorset. He was taken down with pneumonia and admitted to the Bournemouth Military Hospital, but subsequently died, breathing his last on 24th October 1918. He was just 23 years of age.

Edgar Albert Rattle’s body was brought back to Yeovil for burial. He lies at rest in the town’s cemetery.


CWG: Private Frederick Major

Private Frederick Major

Frederick John Major was born in the spring of 1882, the oldest of seven children to John and Eliza Major. John was a farm labourer and he and Eliza – who was 20 years his junior – raised their family in the Dorset village of Batcombe.

John passed away in 1900, when Frederick was just 18 years old. He was already working as a carter, and continued to live with his mother, helping support her financially, along with his brother and sister.

With war on the horizon, Frederick was keen to do his part. He enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry, and was assigned to the 9th Battalion as a Private. This was a service battalion based in Plymouth, and it is unlikely, therefore, that Private Major saw any active service overseas.

Sadly, Fredrick’s time in the army was to be short. He passed away in Somerset on 11th January 1915, aged just 33 years old. No evidence of the cause of his death is documented.

Frederick John Major was laid to rest in Yeovil Cemetery, in the town in which he died.