Category Archives: Corporal

CWG: Corporal Herbert Lyon

Corporal Herbert Lyon

Herbert Woodley Lyon was born in Lincoln early in 1897, one of five children to Walter and Emma Lyon. Walter was a cashier for an engineering company, and the family grew up in some comfort, employing a housekeeper, sick nurse and servant by the time of the 1911 census.

When he finished school, Herbert found work as a draper’s assistant, but with war closing in things were to change. Initially joining the Lincolnshire Regiment, by February 1918, he had transferred across to the Royal Flying Corps, moving to the Royal Air Force when it was founded that April.

Corporal Lyon was based with 112 Squadron at RAF Throwley, just to the south of Faversham, Kent. Details of his service are scarce, but it seems that he trained and qualified as a fitter, helping with the maintenance of the aircraft. His service records show that he stood 5ft (1.52m) tall.

Herbert’s time in the Royal Air Force was limited. His records show that he died of natural causes on 1st November 1918. He was just 21 years of age.

Corporal Herbert Woodley Lyon’s family had relocated to Wells in Somerset by this point. He was laid to rest in Faversham Borough Cemetery, not far from the airfield at which he had been based.

CWG: Quartermaster Serjeant George Bunting

Quartermaster Serjeant George Bunting

George William Willis Bunting was born in Faversham, Kent, in the spring of 1889. The middle of eleven children to George and Mary Ann Bunting, he was also the oldest boy. George Sr was a labourer in the town’s munitions works, and his son followed suit, and was recorded as a cordite labourer there in the 1911 census.

When war came to Europe, George Jr was keen to play his part. He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and was assigned to the 343rd Siege Battery. While full details of his service are not available, George’s life was laid out in a newspaper report following his death:

The death has occurred in quite pathetic circumstances of Battery Quartermaster Sergeant George William Bunting, 1st Kent Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery… who, after serving throughout the war, and coming unscathed through more than three years service in France, though he had several narrow escapes, had died of pneumonia at his home, just as he was anticipating return to civil life.

BQMS Bunting joined the Faversham Volunteer Corps (in which his father also formerly served) some seven years before the war, and when was broke out he was at the annual training with the Battery. War service immediately followed and in 1915 he went to France and, except for leave, had been out there ever since until a few weeks back when he returned for demobilisation. He was not feeling at all well when he arrived home, indeed he seems to have been so unwell that when he got indoors he remarked “I’m done.”

His words, unhappily, were only too prophetic, for he never left the house again, pneumonia developing and culminating in his death on February 27th, only nice days after his arrival.

Prior to the war the deceased, who was in his 30th year and unmarried, had been employed at the Cotton Powder Works ever since he left school. At the commencement of his war service, he was a Corporal, but his keenness at his work steadily gained him promotion and eventually he reached the rank of Battery Quarter Master Sergeant. Keen and conscientious himself, he expected the same in others, and it says much for his example and influence that he was held in the very highest regard by the men of his Battery, while to his officers he was a greatly valued NCO.

Faversham News: Saturday 15th March 1919

Quartermaster Serjeant George William Willis Bunting died at his Faversham home on 27th February 1919. He was just 29 years of age. He was laid to rest in the town’s Borough Cemetery.

CWG: Serjeant Tom Harris

Serjeant Tom Harris

Thomas Harris – known as Tom – was born on 13th October 1876, the only son of Edmund and Mary Harris. Edmund was an agricultural labourer from the Somerset village of Seavington St Mary, and this is where Tom was born and raised.

Mary had married Edmund in the spring of 1876, but had been married before; she was widowed when her previous husband, Alfred Vickery, died ten years before. They had had seven children of their own, half-siblings to Tom.

Edmund died in the Wells Lunatic Asylum when Tom was only six years old. When he left school, he found work as a farm labourer, but sought bigger and better things, even though he was now the only one of Mary’s children still living at home.

Tom enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in January 1893, and soon found himself overseas. During his sixteen years’ service, he spent seven years in India and six months fighting in the Second Boer War. Corporal Harris seems to have had a sickly time of it, and while in India, was admitted to hospital a number of times for fever, ague and diarrhoea, as well as a bout of conjunctivitis.

When Tom’s contract came to an end in 1909, he returned to Britain, setting up home in Newport, South Wales, where he found work as a sheet weigher at the local steel works.

Mary died of senile decay and cardiac failure in May 1910. She was 74 years old, and sadly passed away in the Chard Workhouse, in similar circumstances to her late husband.

In October 1913, Tom married Ada Long in Chard. She was the daughter of a shopkeeper, and the couple set up home in South Wales, where Tom was still working.

War, by now, was closing in on Europe, and Tom wanted to use his previous experience to serve his country once again. He enlisted on 20th August 1914 in Newport, joining the Devonshire Regiment as a Private, although he was quickly promoted first to Corporal and then to Serjeant. His service records show that he was 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, had blue eyes, brown hair and a tattoo of a Spanish girl on his right forearm.

After a year on the Home Front, Serjeant Harris was sent to Egypt in September 1915. On the way out, he contracted a severe cold, which left him deaf in his left ear. He was also suffering from varicose veins, which left him in pain in his right leg. He was treated for both conditions, and put on light duties for three months.

In November 1916, Serjeant Harris was supporting a food convoy when it came under attack. Buried in sand and wounded, he was laid up in a hole for two days and nights before help came. He was initially treated for shell shock in the camp hospital, but was eventually evacuated to Britain for treatment.

The incident had put too much of a strain on Tom, and he was medically discharged from the army in April 1917. While his medical report confirmed that the general paralysis he was suffering from was a result of the attack, it also noted on six separate occasions that he had previously suffered from syphilis, suggesting this may also have been a contributing factor to his mental state.

Tom was discharged initially to an asylum in South Wales, before returning home to Ada. The couple were soon expecting a child, and a boy, Sidney, was born in February 1918. By that summer, however, Tom’s condition had worsened enough for him to be admitted back to the Whitchurch Military Hospital in Cardiff.

It was here that Tom passed away, dying from a combination of chronic phlebitis – an extension of the varicose veins he had previously complained of – and general paralysis on 8th August 1918. He was, by this point, 41 years of age.

Tom Harris was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest – finally at peace – in Chard Cemetery.

Serjeant Tom Harris

CWG: Sergeant James Owen

Sergeant James Owen

James Alfred Owen was born on 4th August 1877 and was the middle of three children to James and Sarah Owen. James Sr was a woodman from Herefordshire, who had moved the family to Radnor in mid-Wales.

James Jr’s early life has been lost to time, but by the time he turned 30, he had emigrated to Canada. He settled in the west coast town of Prince Rupert and found work as a salesman. On 28th January 1910 he married Hattie Whidden: the couple went on to have three children – Annie, Louisa and Dorothy.

War was coming to Europe, and James wanted to play his part for King and Country. He enlisted on 4th December 1915, joining the 103rd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. His service records show that he stood 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall and weighed 156lbs (70.8kg). His physical development was recorded as ‘average’, he had a ruddy complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. It was also noted that he had a birthmark in his left groin and his teeth were poor and required attention.

Private Owen departed for England in July 1916 and was assigned to the Oxney Camp in Hampshire. He was promoted to Corporal and then to Sergeant and, over the next few years, he remained in England. He was primarily based in barracks at Bramshott – also in Hampshire – though did spend time in Seaford in Sussex.

Sergeant Owen survived the war, but was admitted to the Ripon Military Hospital on 8th February 1919, having contracted bronchitis and malaria. The hospital didn’t have any specific expertise in contagious diseases, so it is likely that his move to Ripon was one stage of his move back to Canada.

Sadly, the conditions proved too much for James. He passed away on 17th February 1919, at the age of 41 years of age.

James Alfred Owen’s body was brought to Castle Cary in Somerset, where his sister Eleanor lived with her family. He was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery.

CWG: Colour Serjeant Major Frederick Davis

Colour Serjeant Major Frederick Davis

Frederick Davis was born in Street, near Glastonbury, in February 1876. One of four children, his parents were Frank and Ann. Frank was an agricultural labourer, while Ann worked as a shoe binder in the local Clark’s Factory.

By the 1891 census, Frederick had left school, and had also left home, boarding with a farmer in nearby Walton, where he also worked as a labourer on the farm. Ten years later, he was living with his paternal grandmother and his older brother in the village, with both brothers working as labourers.

During this time, it seems that Frederick had his sights on bigger and better things. Full details are not available, although it appears that he enlisted in the Army and served in India and South Africa between at least 1897 and 1902. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1902 for his actions, although again little information around this survives.

Confirmation of his service overseas at this time appears on Frederick’s later military service records as, in January 1909, he again enlisted in the army. Frederick’s 1909 records show that his next of kin was his wife, Mrs AL Davis, although no marriage documents are apparent. He is also recorded as living in Castle Cary, just to the south of Glastonbury.

This time he was assigned to the 4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, serving for five years on home soil. During this time, he rose through the ranks from Private to Lance Corporal to Corporal to Sergeant.

When war was declared, the 4th Battalion was sent out to India. Sergeant Davis spent the next eighteen months there, before being moved to the Persian Gulf. He was obviously well thought of as, with the move came a further promotion, this time to Company Sergeant Major.

In June 1917, Frederick returned to England from overseas, and, at the end of his term of service two months later, he was demobbed. He returned home to Somerset, but, within a couple of months, on 2nd October 1917, he passed away. The cause of his death is not recorded, but he was 42 years of age.

Frederick Davis was laid to rest in the peaceful surrounds of the Castle Cary Cemetery.

CWG: Corporal Norman Allard

Corporal Norman Allard

Norman Stanley Allard was born on 3rd December 1892 in the village of Corsley, Wiltshire, halfway between Frome and Warminster. The younger of two children, his parents were Benjamin and Mercy Allard. Benjamin was a farmer who passed away when his son was only 14 years old. Mercy, who was born in Frome, moved the family back to her home town and Norman found work as a clerk at a printing firm in the area.

War came to Europe and, in December 1915, Norman was called up. There is little specific information about his military service, although his records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall and had varicocele – enlarged veins in his scrotum – listed as Distinctive Marks.

Initially assigned to the King’s Royal Rifles, Private Allard spent the first year of his service on home soil. He was eventually dispatched to France in March 1917, serving there for a year. On 22nd March 1918, he was wounded in a gas attack, and medically evacuated back to England.

He was called back into service, and assigned to the 9th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. He remained on home soil, working as part of the Labour Corps in Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. Sadly, however, it seems that his injuries were to prove too much, and the now Corporal Allard was discharged from military service after just three months.

At this point, Norman’s trail goes cold. He returned home, and passed away there on 13th March 1919. He was just 26 years of age.

Norman Stanley Allard was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church. This became a family grave, and his mother and sister were also buried there when they passed in 1924 and 1940.

CWG: Corporal George Budgett

Corporal George Budgett

George Edgar Budgett was born in Frome, Somerset in the autumn of 1894, and was one of ten children to Joseph and Annie Budgett. Joseph was a labourer on the roads, but Annie and their eight daughters all went into the town’s silk weaving industry. When they left school, George and his older brother Frederick both found labouring work – Frederick at a bell foundry, George in the silkworks.

Conflict was coming to Europe and, within weeks of the war being declared, George enlisted. He was assigned to the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private and his service records show that he stood 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, weighed 114lbs (51.7kg), had dark brown hair and brown eyes.

Private Budgett initially served on home soil, but by May 1915 he was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force, receiving a promotion to Corporal in the process. He had been on the front line for a little over a month when he was wounded at Ypres. He received a shrapnel wound to his left hand and had to have his little finger amputated in the camp hospital. He was then medically evacuated back to England for further treatment and recovery.

George was admitted to the City of London War Hospital in Epsom, and needed a further operation, this time the amputation of the third finger. His health recovered, but the injury to his hand resulted in him being medically discharged from the army on 25th August 1916.

Sadly, at this point Corporal Budgett’s trail goes cold. He passed away at home, through causes unrecorded, on 1st May 1919. He was just 24 years of age.

George Edgar Budgett was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in his home town of Frome, Somerset.

George’s brother Frederick – Joseph and Annie’s only other son – also fought in the First World War. He was assigned to the 14th Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment, and was missing in action, presumed dead on 4th April 1918 – possibly during the Battle of the Avre. He was commemorated at the Pozières Memorial in northern France.

CWG: Sergeant Archibald Mills

Sergeant Archibald Mills

Archibald Henry Mills was born in the summer of 1895, the oldest of six children to John and Edith. John was a commercial traveller, selling veterinary wares around the country; he was born in Derby, Edith was from Leicester and, for the for the first seven years of their married life they lived in Edith’s home town – this is where Archibald was born. By the turn of the century, however, they had relocated to Somerset, and set up home in Weston-super-Mare.

When he left school, Archibald found work as an errand boy for a local tailor, but change was on the horizon. By the summer of 1914, he had based himself in Nottingham – the reason is lost to time – and this is where he was when he volunteered for military service.

Archibald enlisted as a Private in the Notts and Derby Regiment – the Sherwood Foresters – and was assigned to the 7th Battalion. He was sent to France as part of the 46th Division and, over the next couple of years, he evidently served his regiment well.

In August 1915, Private Mills was promoted to Lance Corporal; three months later he was again promoted, to Corporal. By May the following year, he received another rise, this time to Serjeant. These promotions were against the backdrop of some fierce fighting – the Sherwood Foresters were involved at Hooge, Hohenzollern and Gommecourt, and were briefly sent to Egypt.

At some point during the summer of 1916 – possible at Gommecourt – Archibald was injured, and medically evacuated to the No.2 Western General Hospital in Manchester. Sadly, however, his wounds were to prove too much: Serjeant Mills passed away on the night of 30th September 1916. He was just 21 years old.

The body of Archibald Henry Mills was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery of his adopted home town of Weston-super-Mare.

CWG: Sergeant John Foxworthy

Sergeant Joh Foxworthy

John James Foxworthy was born in the South Devon village of East Allington in 1867. He was the middle of five children to carpenter Roger Foxworthy and his wife Ann.

When he left school, John found work on a local farm, but he had bigger plans and, in July 1887, he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry. His service records show that he stood 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

John had a varied military career that lasted for more than two decades. During this time, he served on nine ships, and was based at HMS Vivid – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Plymouth – for significant periods of time. He began as a Private, but rose through the ranks to Corporal (in 1894) and Sergeant (in 1900). He was wounded in April 1899, when he was shot in the leg, but recovered from this and continued his career.

In 1895, John married Maria Woodley, the daughter of a railway labourer from Totnes. The couple went on to have four children, Minnie, Gladys, Alice and William.

In 1908, Sergeant Foxworthy left the Royal Marine Light Infantry after 21 years’ service. By now the family home was in Prospect Terrace, Newton Abbot, just a short walk from the town centre. The 1911 census records him as being a Royal Marine pensioner and caretaker of the Miniature Rifle Club.

When war broke out, John was called back into duty and, by September 1914, he found himself in a Royal Marine Depot in Belgium. His service overseas was fairly short, and he had returned to England by the spring. He was working as a recruiting sergeant in Northampton on 30th March 1915, when he suddenly collapsed and died. He was 47 years of age.

John James Foxworthy’s body was brought back to Devon; he lies at rest in the family grave in Newton Abbot Cemetery.

CWG: Corporal Bruce Chapple

Corporal Bruce Chapple

Bruce Chapple was born in the autumn of 1893, the youngest of four children to Frederick and Elizabeth Chapple. Frederick was born in Newton Abbot and ran the managed a public house in the town (now the Locomotive Inn), although the 1901 census also listed him as a tobacco pipe manufacturer.

According to the next census – in 1911 – Bruce had taken over the pipe making, which meant that Frederick was devoting his time to being a publican. By this time, Bruce had another interest; military service. He had volunteered for the Devonshire Regiment in October 1909 and, over the next few years, the 5ft 3.5ins (1.61m) tall teenager received training in and around the county.

When war broke out in 1914, Private Chapple was formally enrolled and, as part of the 1st/5th Battalion, he set out for India that October. Initially based in Multan – in what is now Pakistan – he subsequently moved on to Lahore.

Bruce spent a total of two-and-a-half years in India, receiving a promotion to Lance Corporal in the process. In March 1917, his battalion transferred to Egypt, and the now Corporal Chapple went with them.

On 23rd November, Bruce was wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to his left thigh; he was not medically repatriated for treatment, but appears to have recovered from his injury and remained in Egypt until July 1918.

Back home in England, Corporal Chapple remained in the army for a further couple of months, before he was discharged as being no longer medically fit for service in September. Sadly, the cause for his discharge is lost to time.

It is at this point that Bruce’s trail goes cold. The next available record is of his death, on 16th November 1919; he was 26 years old.

Bruce Chapple was laid to rest in the family plot in Newton Abbot Cemetery.