Category Archives: Wiltshire

CWG: Serjeant Albert Woolcott

Serjeant Albert Woolcott

Albert John Woolcott was born in the spring of 1877 and was one of three children to Thomas and Mary. Thomas was a labourer for a spirit company, and both he and huis wife came from Chard in Somerset, which is where Albert and his siblings were born.

When he finished school, Albert was apprenticed to a local iron foundry and, by the time of the 1901 census, he was recorded as being a blacksmith in his own right.

By this point, Albert had met local woman Mary Pattimore: the couple married in the local church on Boxing Day 1901, and went on to have four children, all of them boys. Albert continued with his ironwork: the 1911 census records him as being the blacksmith at Chard’s Gifford Fox & Co.’s lace factory.

Albert played a keen role in the local volunteer movement for the Somerset Light Infantry. Through the town’s Constitutional Club he took an active role in its rifle range and was known to be a particularly skilled marksman. He also played in both the Volunteer Band and Chard’s Municipal Band.

When war came to Europe in August 1914, Albert was already billeted on Salisbury Plain as part of the volunteers, and was promoted to the rank of Serjeant. He was sent to India with his troop – the 5th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry – and remained there until April 1916.

By this point, Serjeant Woolcott was suffering from dorsal abscesses on his hands, and was evacuated back to England for treatment. Over the next nine months he was in and out of Netley Hospital on the outskirts of Southampton, where he had a number of operations to try and fix the problem.

Sadly, his treatment proved unsuccessful: Serjeant Woolcott passed away in the hospital on 19th January 1917, at the age of 39 years old.

Albert John Woolcott’s body was taken back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in his home town’s cemetery.

CWG: Private Joseph Vickery

Private Joseph Vickery

Joseph William Vickery was born in the spring of 1865 in the Somerset village of Isle Abbots. He was the older of two children to farm carter James Vickery and his wife Sarah. James died when Joseph war around six years old, and Sarah remarried, going on to have five children with her new husband, John Kitch.

The new family moved to North Curry, where Joseph found work as a farm labourer when he finished school. The years passed and, on 15th September 1894, Joseph married Elizabeth Ann Saturday, a labourer’s daughter from Chard. The couple settled in the town, and went on to have five children.

By the time war broke out in 1914, Joseph was approaching 50 years old. He still felt a duty to play his part, however, and enlisted towards the end of the following year. Little information survives of Joseph’s military career, but he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry and was assigned to the 1/5th Battalion.

Sent to Salisbury Plain for training, Private Vickery was billeted at Tidworth, Wiltshire. While there, he contracted bronchitis and was admitted to hospital. Sadly, the lung condition was to prove too much for his body to bear, and he passed away on 12th December 1915, at the age of 50 years old.

Joseph William Vickery was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in Chard Cemetery.

Joseph and Elizabeth’s son Victor also played his part in the conflict.

Born in 1900, he was too young to enlist at the start of the war, but, by April 1918, he had joined the Scots Guards as a Private. There is no evidence of him serving overseas, and his service seems to have passed uneventfully. He was demobbed in February 1919, and returned to Somerset to continue his work as a furnaceman.

CWG: Gunner Charles Hooper

Gunner Charles Hooper

Charles – known as Charlie – Hooper was born on 22nd August 1898, the second youngest of nine children to Sidney and Sarah Hooper. Sidney was a carter from the village of Chillington in Somerset, but it was in nearby Cudworth that the family were born and raised.

Charlie, attended the local school like his older siblings, joining on 2nd June 1902, and remaining there until 28th August 1911. The following month his older sister died, and the next year his mother also passed away.

War was coming to Europe, and, while Charlie was too young to enlist when it first broke out, he seemed keen to play his part as early on as he could. He enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery at the start of 1917, and was assigned to the 23rd Reserve Battery.

Gunner Hooper was sent to Wiltshire for training. The next record for him is that of his passing. He died in Salisbury on 29th April 1917, the cause unrecorded. He was just 18 years of age.

Charlie Hooper’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church in his home village, Cudworth.

CWG: Private Albert Cornock

Private Albert Cornock

Albert Edward Cornock was born in 1878, and was one of eight children. His parents, John and Hannah Cornock, were both born in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, ant this is where the family were brought up.

John was a labourer, and this was the trade than Albert also fell into. On 2nd August 1903, he married local woman Bessie Carter. The couple settled in their home town and went on to have eight children.

War came to Europe in 1914, and Albert was amongst those to enlist early on. He joined the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in Bristol on 13th November. Albert’s service records show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall and weighed 119lbs (54kg). He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

Private Cornock’s initial training was split between Cheltenham and Salisbury Plain, but he was eventually sent out to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1915. He spent nearly eighteen months overseas, but, towards the end of the following year, he contracted tuberculosis, and was sent back to England for treatment.

Albert’s lung condition was to ultimately lead to his discharge from the army on medical grounds. His last day of service was 8th February 1917.

At this point, Albert’s trail goes cold. He returned home to Gloucestershire, and lived on another couple of years. He passed away at home on 9th April 1919, aged 40 years old: while the cause of his passing is not clear, it seems likely to have been as a result of the illness that saw him discharged from the army.

Albert Edward Cornock was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in his home town of Wotton-under-Edge. He lies not far from his cousin, Ernest Cornock, another victim of the First World War, who was buried just a week later.

CWG: Private Wilfred Vines

Private Wilfred Vines

Wilfred Vines was born on 19th March 1897 and was one of seventeen children to John and Emma Vines. John was an elastic web maker or braider from Stroud, Gloucestershire, and it was in nearby Wotton-under-Edge that he and Emma raised their growing family.

Braiding and weaving ran in the family: the 1911 census recorded six of the Vines’ children who were over school age were employed in the local mill. This included Wilfred, who was working as a bobbin collector.

War came to Europe, and Wilfred was keen to play his part. He enlisted on 25th May 1915, joining the 15th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment as a Private. His records show that he stood just 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall.

Private Vines was sent for training to the camp at Chiseldon, Wiltshire. It seems that, while he was there, he was injured and, although full details are not available, his wounds were serious enough for him to be discharged from the army because of them. He was formally released on 30th May 1916, and returned home to recover and recuperate.

At this point, Wilfred’s trail goes cold. All that is recorded is that, on 5th November 1917, he passed away at home from his injuries. He was just 20 years of age.

Wilfred was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in his home town. He shares his grave with his younger brother, Leslie, who died the following year.

CWG: Private William Fuller

Private William Fuller

William Charles Fuller was born on 31st January 1876 in Newton Abbot, Devon. He was the older of two children to Francis and Mary Fuller. Francis was a nurseryman, and gardening was a trade that both William and his brother followed him in.

Mary died in 1895 and Francis married a second time the following year, to a Mary Rogers. In July 1905, William married Ellen Bland, the daughter of the landlord of the Swan Inn in nearby Highweek. The couple went on to have a son, William, who was born the following year. William Sr continued his nursery trade through until the outbreak of war, while volunteering for the local defence corps.

When war came to Europe, William stood up to play his part. Full details of his service are not readily available, but it is clear that he had enlisted in the 13th (Works) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment by the summer of 1916.

Private Fuller was based on home soil, serving in both Devon and Cornwall. However, he was billeted on Salisbury Plain by the start of 1917, and it was here that he fell ill. Having contracted influenza, William was admitted to the Fargo Hospital in Larkhill, Wiltshire; this was where he passed away on 25th January 1917. He was days short of his 42nd birthday.

William Charles Fuller’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in the family plot in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, near Newton Abbot.

CWG: Serjeant Bertie Moody

Serjeant Bertie Moody

Bertie Richard Moody was born in Warminster, Wiltshire in April 1885, one of ten children to Joshua and Mary Moody. Joshua was an navy pensioner, who was twenty years older than his wife, and they raised their family in a small house to the west of the town centre.

When he left school, Bertie found work labouring for a man with a traction engine, but, after his parents died – Mary in 1901 and Joshua two years later – he had more need of a trade. The army offered him a life of adventure, and so he enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. Full details of his military career are lost to time, but by the 1911 census, Private Moody was based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

War in Europe was looming, and Bertie’s regiment was called back home. By December 1914, however, he was on the front line in France, and, over the next couple of years, earned the Victory and British Medals, the 1915 Star and a promotion to Serjeant for his service.

As time wore on, it was evident that illness was playing a bigger part in Serjeant Moody’s life. He was suffering from diabetes, and the condition led to him being medically discharged from the army in October 1916. Bertie moved to Frome, Somerset, and found work as a labourer.

He still wanted to play his part, and after making something of a recovery, he tried to enlist again, this time in the Royal Air Force. They rejected Bertie because of his condition too, however, so his time in active service came to an end.

At this point, Bertie’s trail goes cold. He died in Frome on 13th December 1918, at the age of 33, and was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in the town.

CWG: Gunner George Hewlett

Gunner George Hewlett

George Henry Hewlett was born on 11th July 1892, the oldest of four children to Henry and Louisa Hewlett. Henry was a painter from Hampshire, who travelled for work. George and his youngest sibling were born in Romsey, while his two brothers were born in Swindon, Wiltshire. By the time of the 1901 census, when George was eight years old, the family had settled in Hammersmith, London.

The next census, in 1911, recorded the family as living in Caterham, Surrey. By this time, George and his father were working as gardeners, while his brothers were working as grocers. Louisa, meanwhile, was employed as a live-in housekeeper for a spinster and her mother just around the corner.

War was coming and George was determined to do his bit. Full details are not available, but he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, taking on the role of Gunner. In May 1918 he was on board HMS Iris, a Mersey ferry requisitioned by the Royal Navy for support in the planned raid on Zeebrugge.

On 23 April 1918, HMS Iris was towed across the English Channel to Zeebrugge by HMS Vindictive; she was carrying a couple of platoons of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Marines as a raiding party. When the Vindictive neared the Zeebrugge she cast the ferry aside. Iris tried to pull up to the breakwater under heavy fire in order to off-load the raiding parties which were on board. She sustained heavy fire and a shell burst through the deck into an area where the marines were preparing to land. Forty-nine men were killed, including Gunner Hewlett. George was 28 years of age.

George Henry Hewett’s body was brought back to England. He was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the dockyard at which he was based.

George’s two brothers also fought in the First World War.

John William Hewlett, who was two years younger than George, joined the 1st Royal Marine Battalion of the Royal Naval Division as a Private. He fought on the Western Front, and was killed in fighting on 22nd October 1916. He was 21 years of age. John was laid to rest at the Mesnil-Matinsart Cemetery near the town of Albert in Northern France.

Joseph Herbert Hewlett was born three years after George. When war was declared, he enlisted in the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), joining the 4th Battalion as a Private. Dispatched to India, he was initially based in Bombay, but was injured in fighting. He was sent back to England, and treated at the Military Hospital at Netley, near Southampton. Sadly, his wounds proved too severe – he passed away on 4th April 1915, aged just 20 years old.

In the space of three years, Henry and Louisa Hewlett had lost all three of their sons to the war. After George’s death, a local newspaper reported this was their “sad and proud record”. [Dover Express: Friday 31st May 1918]

CWG: Private Percy Coward

Private Percy Coward

Percy Herbert Coward was born in the Wiltshire town of Westbury in the autumn of 1896. He was one of seven children – all boys – to Lily Coward and her weaver husband Charles. Not long after Percy was born, the family moved across the county border to Frome, Somerset, presumably for Charles’ work.

By the time of the 1911 census, the Coward family were living in a five-room end-of-terrace cottage on the outskirts of the town. Charles and Percy were both working as warpers – threading looms – in the cloth industry; two of his brothers were working for a printer in the town. Percy was proving himself an integral part of the community.

[Percy] was very highly esteemed by a large circle of acquaintances… He was a worker with the YMCA and Frome Brotherhood, a member of the band and in other directions showed himself a young man of much promise. He was employed successively at Messrs Houston’s [Woollen Mill] and at the Silk Factory.

Somerset Standard: Friday 26th April 1918

An active member of the town’s territorial force, when the Great War broke out he was mobilised. Initially attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps, he subsequently served with the Royal Army Service Corps and the North Staffordshire Regiment, before obtaining his final transfer to the 42nd Company of the Machine Gun Corps.

During his time in the army, Private Coward would have seen action in some of the fiercest battles of the war – at the Somme, Arras and Ypres. In the spring of 1918, his battalion was involved in the Battles of St Quentin and the Avre, and it was during this last skirmish that he was wounded.

Percy’s injuries were severe enough for him to be medically evacuated back to England and, once there, he was admitted to the Royal Woolwich Hospital in South London. His wounds were to prove too much for him, however, and he passed away at the hospital on 12th April 1918. He was just 21 years of age.

Percy Herbert Coward was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the Dissenters’ Cemetery, Vallis Road, within walking distance of his family home.

CWG: Private Everett Ferriday

Private Everett Ferriday

Everett Ferriday was born in February 1899 in the Cornish town of Camborne. The second of four children, his parents were Methodist minister Jonah Ferriday and his wife, Elizabeth. Jonah’s calling took the family around the country, and, by the time of the 1911 census, they had settled in Frome, Somerset.

When Everett left school, he found employment at a motorcycle works in Bristol, and left home to move to the city. War was coming to Europe, however, and things were soon to change.

Everett got the call to join up in January 1917, just shy of his eighteenth birthday. His enlistment papers give his height as 5ft 11ins (1.8m) tall, and confirm that he weighed in at 126lbs (57.2kg). They also confirmed that he had found new employment as an insurance agent.

Private Ferriday was assigned to the 94th Training Reserve Battalion and send to the army camp at Chiseldon, near Swindon at the beginning of March. Tragically, within a matter of weeks, he was admitted to the camp hospital with bronchial pneumonia. Sadly, this was too much for his body to take; he died at the hospital on 3rd April 1917, at just eighteen years old.

Everett Ferriday’s body was brought back to Frome; he was laid to rest in the Vallis Road Cemetery in the town.