Category Archives: Wiltshire Regiment

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: Corporal Cyril Allen

Corporal Cyril Allen

Cyril Starr Allen was born on 15th June 1891 in the village of Baughurst, near Tadley in Hampshire. He was the second youngest of five children to Charles and Martha Allen. Charles was a rate collector, and the family moved around the county during Cyril’s early years.

By the time Cyril left school, Charles had become an assistant bursar in Wootton, near Basingstoke. Cyril, meanwhile, had found similar administrative employment and was working as a clerk for a local land agent.

At the start of 1911, Cyril enlisted in the British Army. He joined the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as a Private and was soon based on Salisbury Plain. His service records confirm that he was 19 years and 7 months old, and stood at 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall. Private Allen served for his initial term of four years, before being remobilised.

In November 1915, Cyril married Mabel Young. She was a printer’s daughter from Wiltshire, and the couple married in Salisbury, before settling down in Frome, Somerset. They went on to have a child, a daughter they called Kathleen.

Remobilised in the autumn of 1915 Private Allen received a series of promotions – to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Lance Sergeant and Sergeant, and, by June 1917, he found himself at the Front.

On 22nd April 1918, Cyril was injured, sustaining gunshot wounds to his shoulder and left arm. He was invalided back to England for treatment, and was hospitalised in the north of the country. He was then transferred to the Royal Welch Fusiliers with the rank of Corporal and sent to Ireland to continue his recovery and work light duties.

While in Ireland, Corporal Allen contracted influenza and was admitted to the Buttevant Hospital in County Cork. Sadly, in his weakened state, it was something he was to succumb to, and he passed away, with Mabel at his bedside, on 15th November 1918. He was just 27 years of age.

Cyril Starr Allen’s body was brought back to England; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in Frome, Somerset.

Corporal Cyril Allen (from

After the loss of her husband, Mabel went on to live her life. In 1923, she married James Burr, a draughtsman from Frome; they went on to have a child – a brother for Kathleen – called James.

Cyril’s two brothers, Winthrop and Charles, also fought in the First World War.


Winthrop had emigrated to North America in 1911, but returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when war broke out.

Lance Corporal Charles Allen served with the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He fought on the Western Front and was killed near Kemmel Hill in Belgium on 4th September 1918. He was just 21 years old. Charles is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Zonnebeke, Belgium.

CWG: Private Donald Mees

Private Donald Mees

Donald Mather Mees was born on 14th July 1900, the only child of Arthur and Mary from Mells, Somerset. Arthur was a grocer and wine merchant, who, by the time of the 1911 census, had set the family up in Warminster.

Given his young age, there is little documented about Donald’s early life; most of the information available comes from the newspaper reports of his passing:

The military funeral which passed through Frome on Wednesday afternoon was a very sad one. It was that of Private Donald Mather Mees, only son of Mr AH Mees, grocer… formerly of Mells…

The deceased was a somewhat delicate lad, and had only joined up a few weeks – less, we believe, that a month – when he was taken ill and succumbed to pneumonia at King George V Hospital at Dublin on 15th inst.

His parents had been notified of his illness and were preparing to visit him when their journey was interrupted by the news of his death.

Somerset Standard: Friday 23rd August 1918

Private Donald Mather Mees, of the Wiltshire Regiment, had died on 15th August 1918, at the age of 18. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in the village of his birth, Mells.

Donald’s grave is not marked by a headstone: the image shows that of the Mees family grave in the same churchyard.

CWG: Private Joseph Dodge

Private Joseph Dodge

Joseph Dodge was born in the summer of 1883, and was one of twelve children, including eleven boys. His parents were David and Eliza Dodge, who raised their growing family in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, a few miles to the eats of Yeovil, Somerset.

David was a mason and stone sawyer, but his children went into other roles when they left school; Joseph found work as an agricultural labourer.

In October 1903, Joseph married Elizabeth Ann Case – better known as Annie – who came from just over the Dorset border in the village of Corscombe. Setting up home in Yeovil itself, the couple went on to have two children – both boys – Walter and Norman.

War was coming to Europe, and Joseph was intent on doing his bit. Full service details are not available, but the documents that exist confirm that he enlisted as a Private in the Wiltshire Regiment. Initially assigned to the 1/4th Battalion (which served in Egypt), he transferred to the 2/4th Battalion (which served in India).

Sadly, there is no documentation to give service dates, it is impossible to establish when or if Joseph actually serve in these locations. India seems likely, however, as he later transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment, which was based in Lucknow.

Private Dodge survived the war and came back to England, but seems to have contracted pneumonia on the journey home. Admitted to hospital in Liverpool, the condition sadly got the better of him. He passed away on 16th February 1919, at the age of 35 years old.

Joseph’s body was brought back to the county of his birth; he was laid to rest in Yeovil Cemetery.

Joseph came from a very patriotic family, and local newspapers early in the war highlighted that many of the Stoke-dub-Hamdon brothers had enlisted to serve King and Country.

At the time of the article, six had enlisted – Thomas, Arthur and Percy (all in the Somerset Light Infantry), Albert (West Somerset Yeomanry), Evan (Royal Navy) and David (Canadian Infantry).

Corporal David Dodge seems definitely to have distinguished himself. Having emigrated to Canada before the war, he returned to Europe when conflict broke out. An article in the Western Chronicle reported that he had “been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery on the field under heavy fire.[Western Chronicle: Friday 15th November 1918]

Amazingly, of the seven brothers who fought in the conflict, only Joseph perished.

An earlier series of articles tells the tragic story of another of Joseph’s siblings. Henry Dodge (known as William) had moved to Senghenydd, to the north of Cardiff, in 1910; mining work was plentiful there and he and a number of his fellow villagers had sought money from the black gold.

On the 14th October 1913, and explosion happened in the mine and that and the resulting fire and subsequent poisonous gas outpouring killed more than 430 miners. Initially reported missing, William was later confirmed dead; he was just twenty years old and left a widow and child.

CWG: Private Walter Selman

Private Walter Selman

Walter Charles Selman was born on 7th June 1899, the youngest of four children to Walter and Annie Selman. Walter Sr was a gardener and, by the time of the 1911 census he had moved the family to the sleepy Somerset village of Burrington.

Sadly, there is little documentation surrounding Walter’s young life. His gravestone confirms that he enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment; although there is no date to confirm when he enrolled, it is likely to have been in the second half of the conflict, given his age.

Private Selman was assigned to the 4th Battalion, but there is no clear confirmation of where he served. The 1/4th Battalion fought in India and Egypt; the 2/4th was also based in India but remained there for the duration. The 3/4th Battalion – the most likely to be Walter’s troop – was a reserve troop, based on home soil.

Where little is known about Private Selman’s military service, there is similarly little information about his passing. His pension records bluntly put his cause of death as ‘disease’; as with many other recruits towards the end of the war, it is likely that this was, in fact, either influenza or pneumonia.

Sadly, the mustering of the Allied armies – and the associated mixing of young men from across the country in crowded barracks – brought a real danger of disease, and lung complaints were commonplace. While there is no definite proof, it appears that Private Selman may have succumbed to one of these conditions; he passed away in a military hospital on Salisbury Plain on 7th April 1918, two months short of his 19th birthday.

Walter Charles Selman lies at rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in his home village of Burrington, Somerset.

CWG: Private Clarence Fry

Private Clarence Fry

Clarence Vivian Clements Fry was born in November 1898 to William and Rosa Fry. William was a ‘provisions merchant clerk’, who went on to become a ‘cheese and provision dealer’, or grocer. Sadly, Rosa passed away in 1904, at the tender age of 31, leaving Clarence without a mother at just six years old.

William remarried in 1908, and he and new wife Amy had a daughter, also called Amy, a year later. By the 1911 census, the family of four were living in a three storey Victorian Terraced house to the south of Bridgwater town centre.

Sadly, little of Clarence’s military career remains documented. Initially joining the Royal Army Service Corps, Private Fry soon transferred over to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire Regiment.

The 1st Battalion found in some of the key battles on the Western Front, including Mons, Ypres, Messines and Vimy Ridge. As his enlistment date isn’t known, it’s impossible to say whether Private Fry was involved in these conflicts or not.

What is likely is that Private Fry was involved in the Battle of the Selle, which took place near the towns of Cambrai and Valenciennes in northern France in October 1918. Clarence was certainly injured at this point, and was evacuated to England for treatment.

Admitted to the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot, it seems that his injuries were too severe and he succumbed to them on 5th November 1918, just a week before the Armistice was signed. Private Fry was just 19 years old.

Clarence Vivian Clements Fry lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater in Somerset.

CWG: Private Edward Gane

Private Edward Gane

Edward Lionel Gane was born in 1899 and was one of eight children. Known as Lionel, he was the son of Edwin and Joanna Gane, and lived in the quiet Somerset village of Ditcheat. Edwin began life as a pig dealer, but by the time of the 1911 census, had changed direction and become an insurance agent.

Joanna passed away in 1915, and this may have been the impetus Lionel needed to find his way in the world. He enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment, joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s brigade.

The battalion – a depot and training unit – were initially based in Devizes, before moving to Dorset and then Kent. While there is no confirmation of when Private Gane enlisted, it would have been by September 1917, which is when the battalion became part of the Thames & Medway Garrison.

The end of the war marked another ending for the Gane family. Edwin passed away on Armistice Day – 11th November – and further tragedy was to follow, as Private Gane contracted influenza and died less than two weeks later.

Edward Lionel Gane died in a military hospital in Malling, Kent, on 24th November 1918. He was just 19 years old. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in his home village of Ditcheat.

CWG: Private Frank Richards

Private Frank Richards

Francis George Richards (or Frank) was born in 1889, the oldest of five children to William and Rhoda Richards. William was an agricultural labourer and the family lived in his home village of Long Sutton in Somerset.

Frank followed his father into agriculture, and, by the 1911 census, was working as a carter.

And that is where the trail of Private Richards goes cold.

What records do exist confirm that he enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment, serving at its depot in Devizes. This suggests he was part of the 7th (Service) Battalion, raised through the Kitchener Scheme.

The battalion were shipped to France in September 1915, before being moved on to the Balkans, where they fought in the Battle of Horseshoe Hill and the Battles of Dorian. As there are no records of Private Richards’ service, it is not possible to confirm how involved in the fighting in Europe he was, or whether he remained on the Home Front.

Frank’s death also remains a mystery. All that can be said for sure is that he died in hospital on 11th April 1917, in a hospital in England. He was 27 years old. He does not appear to have married, and his pension was assigned to his father.

Frank George Richards lies at rest in the quiet graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in his home village of Long Sutton.

CWG: Private Percy Norris

Private Percy Norris

Percy Norris was born in 1894, the youngest of eleven children to William and Julia Norris. William was the caretaker for the water works in Somerton, Somerset, and this is where the family of eleven lived.

By the time of the 1911 census, Percy’s older brother Henry had joined his father at the water works. Julia had passed away five years before, and Percy and three of his siblings continued to live with William. At this point Percy was working as a gardener.

Private Norris’ full military records are not readily available, but it is evident that he enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. This was a service troop, formed in 1914, who saw service in France and the Balkans.

It seems that it was during one of the skirmishes that Private Norris was injured. While there is no confirmation of exactly when or where this happened, it is likely to have been at some point in the spring of 1918. Percy was shipped back the England for treatment, and admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Bridgwater, Somerset.

Sadly, Private Norris did not recover from his injuries. He passed away on 5th April 1918, aged 24 years old.

Percy lies at rest in the cemetery of Somerton, his home town.

Percy’s older brother Henry Norris also died in the Great War. Joining the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves, Able Seaman Norris was also wounded on active duty, dying of his injuries in January 1918, aged 32. He is buried at the St Sever Cemetery in Rouen, France.

CWG: Lance Corporal Harold Russell

Lance Corporal Harold Russell

Harold Stanley Russell was born in 1895, the third of six children to carpenter Henry Russell and his wife Mary. The family lived in Sherborne, Dorset, and this is where Harold grew up; by the time of the 1911 census, he was working as a hairdresser in the town.

While Harold’s military records are not readily available online, his last few weeks can be determined through the local press of the day.

He enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment in the summer of 1915, but was attached to the Wiltshire Regiment when battalions went to France in May 1916.

Lance Corporal Russell’s Lieutenant wrote to his parents to report on Harold’s injury:

[He] was wounded by a bomb on the morning of July 28th while on duty in the trenches. “At the moment of writing I do not know if it is a very serious case, but I do know he will lose the use of his left hand. He was a most popular fellow, and always willing to do his part nobly with a brave heart, and nothing grieved me more than to see him in pain. His wants were immediately attended to, and I suppose by now he is under treatment in the hospital. He is being well cared for, and the authorities will let you know how he is progressing.

Western Gazette, Friday 4th August 1916

A week later, the newspaper reported an update:

Lance-Corporal Harold Russell… is now at the Leicester Military Hospital in a critical condition. His parents were telegraphed for on Friday last, and visited him. They found he had been very seriously wounded by a bomb whilst on duty in the trenches in France. His injuries are in the chest and right arm, while his left hand has been amputated. [He] was acting platoon-sergeant at the time he was wounded, and had taken part in three battles. After being wounded he walked one and a-half miles to the dressing-station, but afterwards collapsed. His parents returned to Sherborne on Tuesday as he was slightly better, but were telegraphed for again on Wednesday.

Western Gazette, Friday 11th August 1916

The day of the second article, Lance Corporal Harold Russell lost his fight for life, dying in a Military Hospital in Leicester. He was just 21 years old.

The next week, the young soldier featured in the newspaper again, with an 80-line report on his funeral being featured on the Roll of Honour page.

Harold Stanley Russell lies at rest in the cemetery of his home town, Sherborne.