Tag Archives: 1919

CWG: Serjeant John Ive

Serjeant John Ive

John Tucker Ive was born on 30th January 1882, one of eleven children to George and Emily Ive. George was a stone dresser from Harefield, Middlesex, and this is where the family were born and raised.

John was evidently after a life of adventure and, on leaving school, he enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. There is little documented about his military career, but he was based in Devonport and spent a couple of years in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

When he returned to England, John met Amy Ethel Staunton, from Stonehouse in Devon. The couple married in 1905 and went on to have a son, also called John, the following year.

When his military service came to an end, John found work as a butler, and he and Amy were employed by the same household. John Jr, meanwhile, was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Plymouth.

Global conflict was on the horizon, by now, and John soon felt the need to play his part once again. He rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and was given the rank of Serjeant. He was shipped to France in August 1914, where his battalion fought at Ypres and at Mons, and he was injured during both battles.

By the time the conflict ended, Serjeant Ive had transferred to the regiment’s Labour Corps; at the start of 1919, he was preparing to be discharged from the army, but contracted pneumonia. Admitted to the Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Hampshire, the lung condition sadly got the better of him: he passed away on 24th February 1919, at the age of 37 years old.

John Tucker Ive was brought back to Devon for burial; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, Newton Abbot.


Two of John’s brothers also died in the conflict.

Private George Robert Ive served with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He died at Gallipoli on 28th June 1915, at the age of 34 years old.

Gunner Edward Ive served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He died in the Persian Gulf on 1st May 1916, aged just 30 years old.


CWG: Private Edgar Yea

Private Edgar Yea

Edgar Thomas Yea was born on 23rd February 1898, the youngest of four children to Enoch and Sarah Yea. Enoch was road contractor from Devon, and it was in Highweek, near Newton Abbot, that he and Sarah raised their young family.

There is little documented on young Edgar’s life: he enlisted in the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry not long after was war declared in August 1914. He served on home soil, and was medically discharged from service after just 241 days. There is no confirmation on the cause of his removal from the army, but Private Yea’s last day of service was 11th June 1915.

At this point, Edgar’s trail goes cold again. All that can be confirmed is that he passed away at home on 6th February 1919, just a couple of weeks shy of his 21st birthday. The cause of his passing is lost to time.

Edgar Thomas Yea was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in his home town of Highweek, Devon.


CWG: Stoker Petty Officer Gilbert Clark

Stoker Petty Officer Gilbert Clark

Gilbert John Clark was born in Bedminster, Somerset – now a suburb of Bristol – on 6th January 1884. He was one of eleven children to Jonah and Elizabeth Clark. Jonah was a coal miner from Devon, who travelled to find work. He and Elizabeth left Devon for Somerset in the early 1880s, before moving to Glamorgan, South Wales in 1891. This seemed not to last long, however, and, by 1895, the family were living back in Bristol.

The 1901 census recorded Jonah and Gilbert’ older brother, William, working the mines. Gilbert, however, have found different employment, working instead as a labourer for a brick maker. This did not turn out to be a long term career for him, however, and, on 25th August 1904 he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class.

Gilbert’s service records show that he was 5ft 3ins (1.6m) tall, had black hair, dark brown eyes and a dark complexion. His was also noted to have a number of tattoos on his left arm, including a woman’s head, a figure of a woman and a cross with a man, crossed hands with a flower, a snake heart and an arrow.

Stoker 2nd Class Clark enlisted for a period of twelve years, and was initially based at HMS Vivid, the Naval Barracks in Devonport. After his training, he was given his first posting, on board HMS Barfleur. He quickly transferred, however, and in April 1905 was assigned to the battleship HMS Vengeance.

Gilbert’s three years on Vengeance were mixed. During that time, he spent two separate periods in the cells. The first, in February 1906, was for desertion, and resulted in ten days in the brig. The second, in August that year meant he was locked up for a further five days although the misdemeanour this time is not documented. This second period in the brig seemed to bring Gilbert to his senses, however, and the rest of his time on board Vengeance seems blemish-free, and even gave him a promotion to Stoker 1st Class.

The remainder of Gilbert’s twelve years’ service saw him assigned to a further eight vessels; between voyages he returned to the Devonport Naval Base. He also received a further two promotions: Leading Stoker in May 1912, and Stoker Petty Officer in February 1914.

War was imminent, by this point, and, at the end of his initial contract, he volunteered to remain in the Royal Navy for the period of the hostilities. After a six month posting in Devon, Stoker Petty Officer Clark served on three more vessels. It was while he was on board HMS Bacchante, however that he fell ill with influenza. The ship was moored at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, at the time and he was admitted to the RN Hospital in the town.

Sadly, Gilbert’s influenza turned to pneumonia and proved too much for his body to bear. He passed away from the lung conditions on 13th February 1919, at the age of 35 years old.

Gilbert John Clark’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in Peasedown St John, where his parents were then living.


CWG: Gunner William Withers

Gunner William Withers

William John Withers was born in the spring of 1883, in the Somerset town of Midsomer Norton. He was one of six children to William and Rose Withers. William Sr was a coal miner who went on to become a night bailiff, or caretaker, for the colliery. His son, however, sought different things, and, when he left school, he found work as a grocer’s assistant.

In the summer of 1909, William Jr married Florence Robbins, a miner’s daughter from Radstock. The couple went on to have son, Allan, in June 1913 but tragically it appears than Florence either died in childbirth, or shortly afterwards.

In the summer of 1914, war came to Europe; by the end of the following year, William enlisted, joining the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. His service records show that he stood 5ft 8.5ins (1.74m) tall, and weighted 147lbs (66.7kg). By this time he was working as a shop manager and, as a widower with a young son, it seems that, while he volunteered for service, he wasn’t formally mobilised for another year.

Gunner Withers was initially posted at the Citadel Fortress in Plymouth, but soon moved to Halton Park in Buckinghamshire. He spent time there training to be a Signaller, and in April 1918, he succeeded. That summer, he was posted overseas, serving as part of the 461st Siege Battery in France.

In March 1919, Signaller Withers returned to England. Details are a bit sketchy, but it seems that he was posted to Lincolnshire, and while there he fell ill. He was admitted to the Northern General Hospital in Lincoln with peritoneal adhesions; sadly these proved too much for his body to take; he passed away on 9th April 1919, at the age of 36 years old.

William John Withers’ body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in Radstock.


The exact spot of William’s burial is unknown. The grave in the image is of his father, who passed away in 1921. It is likely that William Sr was buried with his son.


CWG: Private William Small

Private William Small

William Charles Small was born towards the end of 1896 in the Somerset town of Midsomer Norton. He was one of six children to coal hewer William George Small and his wife Margaret.

When he left school, William worked for the Co-op store in nearby Radstock, but when war came, he was keen to play his part. His service records are lost to time, but the local newspaper’s report on his funeral in 1919 sheds light on Private Small’s army career:

…he joined the army in May 1915, then being only 18 years of age. He joined the North Somerset Yeomanry and went to France on active service in September the same year, being sent straight to Belgium. There being a shortage of machine gunners, he was transferred to the [Machine Gun Corps], in the 3rd Cavalry Division.

He fought at Peronne, at Cambrai, Arras and Verdun, and other places. His regiment were commended by its General for their bravery in holding back the Germans. He first had leave after one year and eight months’ service in France, and another in August 1918.

He was in the Third Army which stemmed the German attack when they attempted to break through, and fought night and day till they succeeded in holding the enemy back. He had many narrow escapes while in battle, but came through without a scratch.

He was demobilised in January 1919, and was discharged A1, but the strain of 3 years and 6 months of active service proved too much and his health entirely broke down, and he was not able to follow his employment at all. His case was taken up by the military two months ago, and he was sent to Bath War Hospital, where he never recovered from the sever strain…

Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 7th November 1919

Private William Small died in the hospital on 25th October 1919, at the age of just 22 years of age. His body was brought back to Midsomer Norton for burial and he was laid to rest in the family plot there.


Private William Small
(from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

CWG: Company Serjeant Major Walter Bailey

Company Serjeant Major Walter Bailey

Walter Bailey was born on 6th October 1882 in Midsomer Norton, Somerset. He was one of eight children to Wiltshire-born labourer John Bailey and his wife, Emma, who came from the town in which they settled.

When he left school, Walter followed his siblings into the local boot industry and, by the time of the 1901 census, was working as a shoemaker. He was a sporty young man, and played in the local Welton Rovers Football Club.

When war came to Europe, Walter was eager to play his part. He enlisted in the 1/4th Somerset Light Infantry and, on 9th October 1914, was shipped to India. His battalion later moved to Mesopotamia where, on 8th March 1916, he was wounded in the foot in fighting. (Walter’s nephew, Corporal Tom Bailey was in the same regiment and, in the same fighting, he was killed. He is commemorated on the memorial in Basra, Iraq.)

Walter was invalided to India, but returned to his regiment when he recovered. He continued fighting, and was eventually promoted to Company Sergeant Major, while being mentioned in dispatches in 1918.

While waiting to return to England when the war ended, Walter fell ill. He was transported back to Southampton on a hospital ship, and from there was taken to a hospital in Glasgow. Sadly, the dysentery and anaemia he was suffering from were to get the better of him: Company Sergeant Major Bailey passed away on 27th July 1919, at the age of just 36 years old.

Walter Bailey’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the family plot in the cemetery of St John the Baptist Church in his home town, Midsomer Norton.


Company Sergeant Major Walter Bailey
(from britishnewspaperarchive.com)

CWG: Private Lawrence Scott

Private Lawrence Scott

Lawrence Arthur Scott was born in the spring of 1889 in the Devon town of Kingsteignton. He was one of nine children to George and Louisa Scott. George was a lighterman – transporting clay and other goods on a barge. When his father passed away in 1905, Lawrence found work as a clay cutter, bringing in money to help support his mother. By the time of the 1911 census, he was on the only one of Louisa’s children to still be living at home, and was the main breadwinner.

In the spring of 1915, Lawrence married Elizabeth Webber in Newton Abbot. The young couple settled in Kingsteignton, and went on to have a son, Frederick, who was born the following year.

By now war had descended upon Europe. Lawrence enlisted, joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment in the summer of 1916. His service records confirm that he was 5ft 7in (1.7m) tall, had dark hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.

Private Scott arrived in France on 20th August 1916 and, over the next couple of years he served on the Western Front. In September 1917, he was transferred to the Labour Corps, but by now his health was suffering. On 22nd March 1918 he was admitted to a hospital in Rouen with bronchitis. He was transferred to a hospital back in England and, on 17th June 1918 he was formally discharged from the army, with arteriosclerosis.

Lawrence returned home, but his health was to get the better of him. He passed away from heart failure on 30th March 1919, aged just 30 years old.

Lawrence Arthur Scott was laid to rest in a family plot in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church, Kingsteignton. Elizabeth was finally reunited with her husband 67 years later and was buried with him.


CWG: Private William Tozer

Private William Tozer

William Henry Tozer was born in the spring of 1882, and was one of four children to Elias and Thirza Tozer. Elias was a clay worker from Dawlish in Devon, and but the family were raised in nearby Kingsteignton.

William made his own way early on in life. By the time of the 1901 census he was working as a farm labourer and boarding with the family. Ten years later, he was employed as a porter at the Royal Hotel in Dawlish, and was again living on site.

At this point, William’s trail goes cold. War was approaching Europe, and it is documented that he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry at some point before the summer of 1918. Private Tozer was assigned to one of the regiment’s depots, but whether that was as part of the British Expeditionary Force, or on home soil is unclear.

William did survive the war, however, but was admitted to a military hospital at the start of 1919. Again, his condition is unclear, but the record of his passing confirms that he died of ‘disease’. He passed away on 22nd February 1919, at the age of 36 years old.

William Henry Tozer was brought back to Kingsteignton for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church.


CWG: Pioneer James McDowell

Pioneer James McDowell

James Valentine McDowell was born in Ashburton, Devon, on 2nd January 1865. He was one of eight children to William and Louisa McDowell. William was a labourer, and this was a trade that James also took up when he left school.

In the summer of 1884, James was brought up to the Devon Assizes in Exeter, on the charge of attempted suicide. A local newspaper reported that:

It appeared that on June 13th the prisoner, fully dressed, was seen lying at full length in the Yeo, his head resting on a stone, but the remainder of his body was under water. The stream, however, was but three feet deep and six feet wide at this particular point, so the actual danger was not very great.

A witness seeing the position of the prisoner called upon him to come out of the water. He did so. He was very drunk. On leaving the Yeo, the prisoner proceeded towards the Dart, and on his way wished the witness to bid his father and mother good bye. Arrived at the Dart the prisoner attempted to throw himself into the water, but was prevented and handed over to the police.

When in custody the prisoner said this was the second time he had been in the water: next time should be more lucky. Subsequently, however, he stated that he only went to the Yeo for a wash, and this statement he now repeated.

The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and his Lordship, in discharging the prisoner, advised him next time he wanted a bath not to get drunk beforehand, or he might find himself in deeper water than that in which he was discovered on the present occasion.

Western Times: Saturday 26th July 1884

The same Assizes saw trials for embezzlement, horse stealing, larceny, stack-burning and endeavouring to conceal the birth of a child. The alleged perpetrator of a count of buggery was found not guilty (his alleged offence not named in the same newspaper), while a Henry Davy, 51, was sentenced to 18 months’ hard labour for indecently assaulting a 6 year old girl.

The following year found James back on track. He married local woman Mary Ellen Ellery; the couple set up home in Ashburton and went on to have seven children. The family settled into a routine – James worked as a mason’s labourer; in his spare time, he joined the 3rd Devon Militia. His and Mary’s daughters found work as wool spinners, while their sons also got into labouring work.

War came to Europe in 1914; despite his age, James wanted to play his part. He enlisted when the call came, joining the Royal Engineers as a Pioneer on 19th August 1915. Within a week he was sent to France, and this is where he stayed for the duration of the war.

Pioneer McDowell returned to England on furlough on 2nd February 1919, and was waiting to be demobbed. However, tragedy struck before that became a reality, the same newspaper picking up the story some thirty-five years later:

An Ashburton man named James McDowell, aged about 56 years, a private in the Royal Engineers Labour Battalion, who joined up in August 1915, and had been in France continuously since that time, was found drowned in the mill leat of the the River Yeo at the rear of the cottages in Kingsbridge-lane early on Saturday morning.

He left his home at Great Bridge about 8:30 on Friday night for a short time. To get to the town he had to pass along by the river, which was running very high through the recent heavy rain, and it is supposed that he must have fallen in and had been washed down to where he was found, which was a considerable distance.

He had been demobilised, and was on furlough, and every sympathy is expressed for the family on their sad loss. Dowell [sic] who was well known and was of a jovial disposition, leaves a widow and grown up family.

Western Times: Monday 24th February 1919

Later that week, a summary of the inquest was printed:

Dr EA Ellis said he found a ragged cut over deceased’s left eyebrow, but otherwise there was no sign of violence. The cut was inflicted before death. A post mortem revealed that the cause of death was drowning. His theory was that deceased fell into the river, his head coming into contact with a stone, which inflicted the wound and caused unconsciousness. The spot where the accident was supposed to have happened, he thought, was unsafe and dangerous.

…the jury returned a verdict that the deceased was found drowned, caused by accidentally falling over the wall at the top of North Street… and they wished… to call the attention of the responsible authorities to the danger at this spot, and to the unsatisfactory state of the lighting there.

Western Times: Friday 28th February 1919.

Pioneer James Valentine McDowell drowned on 21st February 1919: he was 56 years of age. His body was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in his home village.


CWG: Rifleman Edward Drewett

Rifleman Edward Drewett

Edward Phillips Drewett was born on 22nd September 1893 in the Somerset town of Castle Cary. He was one of four children to Richard and Martha Drewett; his mother had been widowed before marrying Richard, and had a child from that marriage, Edward’s half-sister.

Richard was a solicitor’s clerk, but when he left school Edward found employment as a grocer’s assistant. It was this that he was doing when war broke out in 1914 and, in November 1915, he joined up to do his bit for King and Country.

Edward joined the 17th Battalion of the London Regiment as a Rifleman: his service records show that he stood 5ft 7.5ins (1.71m) tall, weighed in at 9st (57.2kg) and was of good physical development.

Rifleman Drewett ended up spending three-and-a-half years in the army, and travelled a lot. After nine months on home soil, he was sent to France, Salonika, Malta and Egypt, spending between four and nine months in each place. By July 1918, he was back in France, and by Christmas that year was on home soil again.

By this point, Rifleman Drewett was unwell, and suffering from nephritis – inflamed kidneys. The condition was severe enough for him to be stood down from the army, and he was formally discharged from military service on 31st March 1919, while admitted to the Bath War Hospital.

At this point, Edward’s trail goes cold. He passed away on 28th August 1919 and, while the cause is unclear, it seems likely to have been kidney-related. He was just 25 years of age.

Edward Phillips Drewett was laid to rest in the cemetery of his home town, Castle Cary.