Category Archives: Lance Corporal

CWG: Lance Corporal Frederick Twist

Lance Corporal Frederick Twist

Frederick William Twist was born in around 1884, the older of two children to William and Clara Twist. William had been born in Faversham, Kent, and was a labourer in the cement works there.

Frederick did not follow his father’s trade, however, and, on leaving school, he found work in the printing office of the Faversham News, before moving on to Filmer Bros., a local nursery and bulb grower. He was a keen member of the Salvation Army, and played in the local Corps’ band. After more than a decade at Filmer Bros., Frederick took up new employment with Salvation Army Insurance, and worked out of the Whitstable office.

In the spring of 1909, Frederick married Helen Bedster, a bargeman’s daughter from Faversham. At the time of their wedding, she was working as a servant for a brewer manager in the town. The couple settled down in a terraced house in the centre of the town, and went on to have two children.

When war broke out, Frederick was called upon to play his part, but his time in military service was to be a troubled one. A contemporary newspaper expanded on this:

The toll of war continues through nearly a year has elapsed since the war practically ceased… [following] the death of Lance Corporal Frederick William Twist, 16th Lancers, a Faversham man, who passed away at the Military Hospital Woolwich, after a great deal of suffering.

Lance Corporal Twist enlisted under the Derby Scheme and being called up in May 1916, he joined the 16th Lancers and was sent to Ireland. At the end of that year he was drafted to France but in the following May he was invalided home with trench fever.

On his discharge from hospital in Devonshire he returned to Ireland. Then in March of last year there came the great offensive on the Western Front and for the second time deceased was drafted to France. He was not, however, at all fit, and the result was that he was obliged to fall out.

After a further spell in hospital and convalescent camp at the base he was employed on light duty – stores keeping and clerical work – to which he stuck with dogged spirit until in June last he again broke down and was once more in hospital.

Later he was transferred to the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich, where he died on October 7th – a fine example of a British soldier who had struggled, even against weakness and suffering, to do his duty to the very last.

Faversham News: Saturday 18th October 1919

Lance Corporal Frederick William Twist was 35 years of age when he passed. He was laid to rest in the Borough Cemetery of his home town, Faversham.

CWG: Lance Corporal Ernest Hills

Lance Corporal Ernest Hills

Ernest Albert Hills was born in December 1877, and was the fifth of ten children to Benjamin and Elizabeth Hills. Benjamin was a labourer for a brick maker from the Kent village of Upnor, but it was along the coast in Faversham that he and Elizabeth were to raise their young family.

When he left school, Ernest followed in his father’s footsteps, working in the local brick kiln. By the time of the 1911 census, however, he had moved to South East London and was boarding with his younger brother, William, working with him as a stoker for a Greenwich gas company.

War came to Europe, and Ernest wanted to play his part. On 20th April 1915, he enlisted, joining the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) as a Private. His service records give his height as 5ft 9.75ins (1.77m) and note that he had a scar on the right side of his abdomen.

Private Hills’ service was carried out on home soil: he was assigned to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, which was based in Maidstone and Chatham. Ernest was obviously well thought of: within six months of enlisting, he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

His good fortune was not to last for long, however, in the spring of 1916, he fell ill and, while at his family home in March, he passed away, having been suffering from Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the disorder of the adrenal glands. He was 39 years of age.

Lance Corporal Ernest Albert Hills was laid to rest in the Faversham Borough Cemetery, not far from his family home, and where his father – who had passed away in 1903 – had also been laid to rest.

CWG: Lance Corporal Edmund Durnford

Lance Corporal Edmund Durnford

Edmund George Durnford was born in the spring of 1881 in the Somerset village of Pitcombe. The second oldest of twelve children, he was the oldest son to Edmund and Eliza Durnford. Edmund Sr was an agricultural labourer who travelled with the work – the 1891 census recorded the family living in Mells, near Frome.

When Edmund Jr left school, he found work at an ironmonger’s. He moved to Midsomer Norton and, in 1907, he married local carter’s daughter Bessie Welch. The young couple set up home in a terraced house on the road to nearby Radstock, and went on to have two children: Ian, who was born in 1908, and Ronald, born the following year.

War came to Europe, and Edmund was keen to play his part. He enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps as a Driver, and was assigned to the 827th Company. Full details of his service are not available, but he remained part of the territorial force and was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The local newspaper of the time reported on what became of Edmund:

Lance Corporal Edward [sic] G Durnford, Army Service Corps… son of Mr and Mrs EG Durnford… died suddenly on April 18 at Duston Hospital, Northampton, from shell shock and hemorrhage [sic] of the brain, was 38 years of age. The body was brought back from Northampton, and the deceased accorded a military funeral at Midsomer Norton last week.

Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 3rd May 1918

There are a couple of inconsistencies with the report. The newspaper has Edmund’s name wrong, while his pension record does not mention shell shock as the cause of death (it confirms the cerebral haemorrhage, but also cites a granular kidney). Given that Lance Corporal Durnford did not serve abroad, it seems unlikely that shell shock was a contributing factor.

The same article also places three of Edmund’s brothers in the war, and gives an insight into what had become of them before the conflict. Gunner Percy Durnford was with the Canadian Field Artillery, training in the South of England; Sergeant Major Arthur Durnford, of the Australian Light Horse, was based in Sydney; Bombardier Horace Durnford, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, had served in France, where he had been gassed, but was, at the time of his oldest brother’s death, based in Egypt.

Edmund George Durnford died in Northampton on 18th April 1918. He was 38 years of age. His body was brought back to Somerset, and he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in Midsomer Norton.

Edmund’s younger son, Ronald, served in the Second World War. He joined the Royal Artillery, reaching the rank of Lance Bombardier. Ronald was serving in the Far East early in 1942, and for the next year, no news was heard of him.

However, contact was made in March 1943, confirming that Ronald had been captured by the Japanese, and was a prisoner of war in Borneo. Three months later, his wife, Kathleen, received a postcard from him, confirming he was a prisoner of war, well and unwounded.

Tragic news was quick to follow, however:

In last week’s issue it was stated that Mrs [Bessie] Durnford… had received through her daughter-in-law news that her son, Lance Bombardier Ronald Durnford, was a prisoner of war in Jap hands and was unwounded.

On Saturday she received the sorrowful news that he was dead in the following messages, which her daughter-in-law had sent on:

“I deeply regret to inform you a report has been received from the War Office, that [Ronald], who was reported a prisoner of war in Borneo Camp, had died from dysentery. The date of his death is not yet known, but you may rest assured as soon as any further information is received, I will immediately let you know.”

Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 30th July 1943

Lance Bombardier Durnford was laid to rest in the Labuan War Cemetery in Malaysia.

Further family tragedy, albeit with a life well-lived, was to follow as, on 6th September 1943, Bessie too died at the age of 86. She was laid to rest alongside Edmund in the family plot. Her obituary confirmed that “She leave a husband, seven daughters, and four sons to mourn her loss. One son and one daughter are in Canada, and one son in Australia, and one daughter and son in London.” [Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer, Friday 17th September 1943]

Bessie had not, in fact, remarried: the husband was, in fact, the one who had died some 25 years before.

CWG: Lance Corporal Thomas Taylor

Lance Corporal Thomas Taylor

Thomas George Taylor was born in the summer of 1886, and was the youngest of five children to George and Sarah Taylor. George was a gamekeeper in Clutton, Somerset, and he and Sarah raised their family in Rudges Cottage opposite the village church.

Thomas’ older brother John found a variety of jobs, from boot finisher to coal miner, but Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps, and, by the 1911 census, was recorded as a butcher’s apprentice.

Storm clouds were brewing across Europe by this point and, when war broke out, Thomas was one of the first to enlist. Sadly, there is little information on his military service, but it is clear that he joined the 7th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry and was quickly promoted from Private to Lance Corporal.

The only other documentary evidence for Thomas is his entry in the Army Register of Personal Effects. This confirms that he was admitted to the Isolation Hospital in Aldershot, suffering from meningitis. Lance Corporal Taylor passed away from the condition on 16th April 1915, aged just 29 years old.

Brought back to Somerset for burial, Thomas George Taylor was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Augustine’s Church, across the road from his family home in Clutton.

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 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: 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

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: 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.

CWG: Private James Flood

Private James Flood

James Allan Flood was born in Exeter, Devon, in 1879, and was the oldest of six children to James and Emily. James Sr was a bricklayer, and, according to the 1881 census, the family lived at 2 Stepcote Hill, sharing the house with two other families.

When he left school, James Jr also fell into labouring work. By this time he had met Amy Hobbs, a hotel worker’s daughter who had been born in London. Her father had moved from Devon to the city in the 1870s, but had brought his family back to his home county by 1885.

James and Amy married in the village of Wolborough in December 1899. They set up home in nearby Newton Abbot and went on to have five children.

The storm clouds of war were beginning to hover over Europe and, when the conflict broke out, James was keen to play his part. He enlisted within days of war being declared, joining the Devonshire Regiment as a Private. His service records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall, and weighed 112lbs (51kg). He had a tattoo of a crown and heart on his right forearm.

Private Flood found himself in France by Christmas 1914 and stayed there for more than a year. During this time, he was promoted to Lance Corporal, although, as a result of missing a role call, he reverted back to Private again a couple of months later.

After a brief two months spent back on home soil, James returned to France again, spending a further ten months on the Western Front. In March 1917, he was transferred across to the Labour Corps, and came back to home soil again.

This transfer appears to have been connected to James’ health; he continued to work as part of 621st Agricultural Company for the next eighteen months, before being discharged from the army on medical grounds in September 1918. Sadly, the cause of his discharge is lost to time.

At this point, James Allen Flood’s trail goes cold. The next time he appears in documentation is nearly a year later: he passed away on 17th August 1919, aged 40. He was laid to rest at the Newton Abbot Cemetery.