Harold William Cornall was born on 16th August 1890 in Kingsteignton, Devon. He was the oldest of six children to William and Elizabeth Cornall. William worked as a carter and labourer for a tannery in the town, and, when he left school, this was where Harold also went for work.
In the autumn of 1912, Harold married Hilda Potter, from nearby Newton Abbot. The couple set up home and went on to have one child, a daughter called Winifred.
War broke out and, on 29th August 1914, Harold enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. He was assigned to the A-Battery of the 90th (Howitzer) Brigade and was given the rank of Bombardier. He soon found himself in the thick of battle, as the brigade was sent to The Somme.
Bombardier Cornall was injured in the spine by some shrapnel, and medically evacuated to England in June 1916. Sadly, his injuries led to him becoming paralysed, and he passed away at the King George’s Hospital in London on 20th August 1916. He was just 26 years of age.
Harold William Cornall’s body was brought back to Devon; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church in his home town of Kingsteignton.
Thomas Greenslade was born in Alcombe, on the outskirts of Dunster in Somerset, in the spring of 1894 and was one of ten children. His parents were Devon-born cab proprietor Richard, and his wife Emma, who passed away in 1905, aged 38 years old.
When he left school, Thomas helped his father with his business; the 1911 census recorded him and his older brother Charles as drivers, his younger two sisters as housekeepers for their father, and his youngest two siblings as still being at school.
Storm clouds were approaching Europe and, in the summer of 1915, Thomas signed up to play his part for King and Country. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, and was assigned as a Bombardier to C Battery of the 74th Brigade. His troop was one of the Howitzer Brigades, and it seems likely that his knowledge of horses stood him in good stead.
Little information on Bombardier Greenslade’s military service survives. His regiment saw conflict at Loos, the 1916 Battles of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres, and it is likely that he was involved in these skirmishes.
What can be confirmed is that, by July 1917, Thomas was in the War Hospital in Bristol. The reason for his admission is unclear, but it led to his demise. Bombardier Greenslade passed away on 11th July 1917: he was just 23 years of age.
Thomas Greenslade’s body was brought back to Dunster. He was laid to rest in a quiet corner of the village’s cemetery.
Daniel Mcauley was born in Belfast in around 1883, one of six children to John and Margaret Mcauley. John was a farmer, and when Daniel – who was named after his uncle – left school, he found labouring work to help the family bring in an income.
In January 1909, Daniel married Annie Fittis, the daughter of a linen tenter (stretching cloth on a loom while it was drying and maintaining the machines). The couple had had a son, John, eighteen months before, and would have another child, Sarah, later that year.
The 1911 census for Northern Ireland found the young family living with Annie’s mother and two sisters in Dayton Street, near the middle of Belfast. Annie and her sisters were working as flax spinners, while Daniel was a labourer. Tellingly, the document lists inhabitants’ religion – Daniel is the sole Roman Catholic amongst a family of Presbyterians.
War was coming to Europe, and Daniel was called on to do his bit. Sadly, full details of his military service was not available, but what is clear is that he enlisted as a Bombardier in the Royal Field Artillery towards the end of 1914. He was shipped to England, and barracked in Somerset, near Frome.
Sadly, the next evidence of Daniel’s life comes in a wealth of newspaper articles that report on the accident that led to his death.
One soldier was killed and another seriously injured as the result of a horse attached to a Royal Field Artillery wagon bolting at Frome Saturday morning. The wagon was on its way to the stables when the horse got out of control and ran along Christ Church Street West.
One man, who was riding in the wagon, in jumping clear was seriously cut about the head and body, and was taken to the hospital. The other, Bombardier Daniel MacAulay, belonging to Glasgow [sic], remained in the wagon trying to pull up the horses, but the vehicle swerved across the road and he was thrown out, his head coming into contact with a street lamp.
He was taken to the hospital on the police ambulance, but died before admission. He was a married man, about 34 years of age, and was to have gone on leave Saturday in order to visit his sick child. In the morning he received a letter form his wife saying that the child had been seriously ill and had gone blind.
Mr Douglas Mackay, deputy coroner, held an inquest at Frome on Tuesday on the body of the deceased. The verdict was “Accidental death.”
Shepton Mallet Journal: Friday 19th March 1915
Other newspapers reported similarly, a couple staring that Daniel was father to three children. There is no evidence that this was the case and, given that all of the reports state that he came from Scotland, when he was Irish, it is likely that this too was an error. Each newspaper give variations of the spelling of his surname too, evidence that spelling was often at the mercy of the person documenting it, even in the media.
Daniel was buried in Somerset and Annie travelled to England to attend the funeral. Again, newspaper reports suggest that Daniel’s brothers also attended, although he had only one male sibling.
Bombardier Daniel Mcauley died on 13th March 1915, aged around 33 years old. He was laid to rest in the Vallis Road Burial Ground in Frome, also known as the Dissenters’ Cemetery (for those who did not follow the English Protestant faiths.
Albert Thomas Packham was born in the Kent village of Milton in 1874. The fourth of nine children to George and Mary, he quickly followed into his father footsteps, becoming a general labourer.
In September 1903, he married Ellen Amelia Manktelow; their first child – Ernest – was born in November of that year. By the time of the 1911 census, the couple had three further children – Albert, Ellen and Sydney – and the family had set up home in the village of Bobbing, near Sittingbourne.
Albert received his call up papers in late 1915, by which time sons Stanley and William had joined the family group. Enlisted to the Royal Field Artillery (Reserve), Bombardier Packham undertook his service on home soil. His records show that he was “not to be compulsorily posted for service under Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Oct 1917”.
Bombardier Packham was discharged as physically unfit for service on 15th June 1918; his pension records show that he was suffering from mitral aortic cardiac disease. His papers records that he was a “steady, sober and industrious” individual.
Ellen gave birth to their sixth son – and seventh child – in November 1918. Less than three months later, however, Albert had died. He was 44 years old.
Albert Thomas Packham lies at peace in the graveyard of St Bartholomew’s Church in the village of Bobbing.
Albert was not initially commemorated with a Commonwealth War Grave – presumably as he had been discharged from the RFA. This oversight was subsequently rectified, and a gravestone erected in his honour. However, this was only done many years after his passing, by which time his original burial place had been lost. His stone therefore bears the inscription “Buried elsewhere in this churchyard”.