Tag Archives: bronchitis

CWG: Private Joseph Vickery

Private Joseph Vickery

Joseph William Vickery was born in the spring of 1865 in the Somerset village of Isle Abbots. He was the older of two children to farm carter James Vickery and his wife Sarah. James died when Joseph war around six years old, and Sarah remarried, going on to have five children with her new husband, John Kitch.

The new family moved to North Curry, where Joseph found work as a farm labourer when he finished school. The years passed and, on 15th September 1894, Joseph married Elizabeth Ann Saturday, a labourer’s daughter from Chard. The couple settled in the town, and went on to have five children.

By the time war broke out in 1914, Joseph was approaching 50 years old. He still felt a duty to play his part, however, and enlisted towards the end of the following year. Little information survives of Joseph’s military career, but he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry and was assigned to the 1/5th Battalion.

Sent to Salisbury Plain for training, Private Vickery was billeted at Tidworth, Wiltshire. While there, he contracted bronchitis and was admitted to hospital. Sadly, the lung condition was to prove too much for his body to bear, and he passed away on 12th December 1915, at the age of 50 years old.

Joseph William Vickery was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in Chard Cemetery.


Joseph and Elizabeth’s son Victor also played his part in the conflict.

Born in 1900, he was too young to enlist at the start of the war, but, by April 1918, he had joined the Scots Guards as a Private. There is no evidence of him serving overseas, and his service seems to have passed uneventfully. He was demobbed in February 1919, and returned to Somerset to continue his work as a furnaceman.


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: Able Seaman Michael Goulding

Able Seaman Michael Goulding

Michael Joseph O’Neill Goulding was born on 5th May 1884, the oldest of six children to Michael and Ellen Goulding (née O’Neill). Michael Sr worked for the inland revenue and his job took him around most parts of the British Isles.

Michael Jr had been born in Limerick – both of his parents came from Ireland – but his subsequent three siblings (Patrick, Margaret and William) had all been born in Scotland. His second youngest sibling, Lily, was born in County Durham, the youngest back in Scotland, while, by the time of the 1901 census, the whole family were living in Forest Gate, East London.

The census also shows that Michael Jr, having left school, was working at Customs House (presumably where his father was employed), as a boy copyist on tea accounts. The inland revenue at that time was a career for life; by the next census in 1911, the family had moved to Hertford, where Michael Sr was a customs and excise supervisor, and Michael Jr was an assistant clerk at the same place of employment.

War was on its way, but Michael seems not to have enlisted immediately. While specific dates for his joining up are not available, it appears that he was still working for the Inland Revenue when he got married in Shoreditch, in April 1917. His wife was called Bridget Mary Gough (known as Bryde), and she had also been born in Ireland. The couple went on to have a daughter, Ellen (or Eileen), the following year.

By this time, Michael had definitely enlisted. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and was based at HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment in Chatham, Kent. This was the location for the Navy’s main accounting base, so it is likely that he was employed for financial, rather than his military, skills.

Able Seaman Goulding served through to the end of the war and beyond, and it was while he was based in Kent that he became unwell. Admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, he succumbed to a combination of bronchitis and pneumonia on 22nd February 1919. He was 34 years of age.

Michael Joseph O’Neill Goulding was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. His family were still in Hertford, while his widow and daughter moved back to Ireland.


Michael Joseph O’Neill Goulding
(courtesy of ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Trooper William Rhodes

Trooper William Rhodes

William Henry Rhodes was born in the summer of 1886 and was the youngest of six children. His father Reuben was a gardener who, with his wife Ellen, raised their family in a small cottage near the central station in Worthing, West Sussex.

When he left school, William found work as an assistant in a bookshop. This was just a stepping stone, however, and his mind was on a life of adventures. In March 1908, he enlisted in the army, joining the Household Cavalry, and was assigned to the 1st Life Guards. William’s medical report showed that he stood at just under 6ft (1.83m) tall, and weighed 141lbs (64kg). He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.

Trooper Rhodes was initially based on home soil; his barracks were in London and he served in Hyde Park, Regents Park and at Windsor, where he would have been called upon to be involved in royal duties that would have taken place. This changed when the Great War broke out, however, and his division was sent out to northern France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

The 1st Life Guards were involved in the First Battle of Ypres, and went on to fight in many of the fiercest battles of the conflict. His service record identifies that he was wounded in February 1915, when he received a gunshot wound to the head, although, surprisingly, there is nothing in his medical record that suggests any subsequent hospital admission.

In fact, Trooper Rhodes did receive hospital treatment during his military service; he was admitted for bronchial catarrh in April 1908 and May 1909 and headaches in June 1911. Four years later, he contracted tuberculosis while in action in France, and moved back to London for treatment.

William’s condition was serious enough for him to be medically discharged form the army; having spent more than a month in hospital, he was released from duty on 31st August 1915.

There is little further information about William’s life back home. The next document on him confirms that he died on 19th November 1917. While the cause is not noted, it seems likely to have been connected to the lung conditions he suffered during the war. William was 31 years of age.

William Henry Rhodes was laid to rest in Broadwater Cemetery in the town of his birth, Worthing, West Sussex.


CWG: Private Raymond Champ

Private Raymond Champ

Raymond Champ was born on 30th March 1880, one of eight children to coachman William Champ and his wife Eliza. While Raymond was born in the West Sussex village of Cowfold, within a year, the family had moved to Worthing, settling in the Broadwater area of the town.

The 1901 census gives more of an insight into Champ family life. William by now is listed as unable to work and gives his infirmity as paralysed. There are no newspaper records evident to highlight an accident of any sort, so the cause of his paralysis, and his inability to work, are destined to remain a mystery. The document does show, however, that the other members of the family stepped up to fill in the shortfall of money; Eliza was working as a laundress, Raymond was a bricklayer’s labourer, and his younger brother Francis (or Frank) was employed as a milk boy.

Fast forward ten years, and the next census give further information. It confirms that William was paralysed when he was 45 years old (in around 1894/1895). Raymond, now aged 30, was still working as a bricklayer, Frank was an iron founder, and the youngest brother, George, was a baker.

Raymond was a keen footballer, and went on to captain the Silverdale Football Club. By the time war broke out, he had found work at Wenban Smith, a renowned timber supplier in the town. The call to arms came, however, and, in September 1914, he enlisted.

Private Champ joined the Royal Sussex Regiment, and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion. Shipped overseas in February 1915, he served on the Western Front, but his time there was not to be a lengthy one. A local newspaper report picked up Raymond’s story:

The wretched conditions which our Troops had to contend with during February and March proved too much for his constitution, and having the misfortune to contract bronchitis, he was invalided home in April, being taken to one of the Military Hospitals in Manchester.

His recovery was regarded as hopeless from the first, but the careful nursing and attention which he received there brought about a temporary improvement, and he was eventually discharged in order that he might return to his home, where his death occurred on Sunday week.

The funeral on Thursday afternoon was of a very impressive character, and despite a heavy deluge of rain, there was a large number of sympathising friends at the Cemetery to pay the last tribute of respect.

Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 14th July 1915

Private Raymond Champ passed away on 4th July 1915 and just 35 years old. His body was laid to rest in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing, not far from where his family were living.


CWG: Rifleman Ernest Parsons

Rifleman Ernest Parsons

Ernest Charles Parsons was born in 1881, and was one of six children to bricklayer Robert Parsons and his wife Mary Ann. Robert was a labourer and bricklayer from Watford, while Mary Ann was born in Arundel, West Sussex. The couple moved to where his work was, having their first children in Hertfordshire and Sussex They finally settled in London, which was where Ernest was born.

Where he first left school, Ernest worked as a painter, but soon found a career as a postman., something he would continue to do through to the outbreak of war.

Ernest married Frances Olive Eynott on 28th February 1904; they went on to have a daughter, Doris, the following year. It seems, however, that their marriage was destined to be a short one; Frances passed away within a couple of years.

With a daughter to raise and a living to earn, Ernest married again. Elizabeth Kate Dew was born in Fulham in 1883, and the couple married in the spring of 1907. Again, however, their happiness was to be short; Elizabeth died eighteen months later.

Widowed twice, and with Doris now a toddler, Ernest moved back in with his parents in Chiswick. He continued his work as a postman, but alongside this had been an active volunteer in the London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) since early 1908.

Rifleman Parsons’ initial year’s service was extended and extended and, by the time of the outbreak of the First World War, had been serving for some six years.

By 1914, Ernest had found love for a third time, and married Lilian Frances Cromie on 25th March that year. With war imminent, his time was take up more with military duties; while part of the territorial force, Rifleman Parsons had been officially mobilised.

The sudden intermingling of men from different parts of the country in small, packed training camps made the perfect environment for illness and disease to circulate. Ernest had initially contracted bronchitis while on service in 1912; this had dogged him intermittently oved the next few years until, in March 1915, it was serious enough for the Medical Examination Board to declare him unfit for military service.

Ernest moved his family to Worthing, in West Sussex, presumably as the air was fresher there than in the bustling capital. He may also had had family in the area, as his mother had been born just up the road in Arundel. Sadly, though, it seems that his health was not to recover sufficiently, and he passed away on 4th October 1918, at the age of 37.

Ernest Charles Parsons was buried in the Broadwater Cemetery in the town, not far from where his widow and daughter were then living.


Coincidentally, when researching another soldier, Lance Corporal Edgar Godden, this turns out to be the address where he also died, just ten months earlier on 22nd December 1917. There is no apparent other link between the two men.

CWG: Private Henry Oaten

Private Henry Oaten

Henry Oaten was born in 1876, the second youngest of seven children to Henry and Mary Ann Oaten. Henry Sr was an agricultural labourer, who raised his family in his home village of Pitminster, to the south of Taunton in Somerset.

When he left school, Henry Jr followed in his father’s footsteps as a farm worker. Sadly, however, there is very little further documentation to expand on his life.

Henry married a woman called Emily; this is likely to have been at some point around 1900, although there is nothing to confirm an exact date. The couple went on to have four children – John, Albert, William and Howard.

When war broke out, Henry joined up. Again, dates for his military service are not available, but he enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment as a Private. He was assigned to the 13th (Works) Battalion, which was a territorial force, based in Plymouth.

Little further documentation exists in relation to Private Oaten. The next time he appears is on his pension record, which confirms that he passed away on 20th February 1917, having been suffering from bronchitis. He was just 40 years old.

Henry Oaten was brought back to Taunton and laid to rest in the St James’ Cemetery in the town.


As an aside to this story, while researching Private Oaten, an additional piece of information about his father came to light. A record confirms that, on the 1st October 1851, at the age of just 16, Henry Oaten was admitted to gaol. Sadly further details – including that of his crime and his sentence – are lost to time, but it adds an interesting footnote to his son’s background.


CWG: Private John Thick

Private John Thick

John Valentine Thick was born in 1883, the youngest of two children to John Thick and his wife Anna. John Sr was a plumber, and evidently moved around with his work. He was born in Surrey, Anna came from Berkshire; their older child, Grace was born in Hampshire, while John Jr was also born in Berkshire.

By the time of the 1891 census, John Sr had moved the family down to Blandford Forum in Dorset. Little more is known about his son’s early life, but by 1907, he was back in Berkshire, and married Henrietta Entwistle, who had grown up in Chelsea.

The young couple went on to have three children – John, Muriel and Margaret – and settled down in Reading, Berkshire. John, by this time, was working as a domestic gardener.

Little documentation exists relating to John’s military service. He enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment, and was assigned to the 1st Labour Company. Private Thick would have been part of the regiment’s territorial force, presumably using his gardening skills to help with the war effort.

While it is difficult to confirm the dates of his service, it seems that John had enlisted towards the end of 1916. It was early the following year that he fell ill, and was soon admitted to hospital with bronchitis. Sadly, this condition was to get the better of him, and Private Thick passed away on 8th March 1917. He was just 34 years old.

John Valentine Thick lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset.


CWG: Private Ernest Baker

Private Ernest Baker

Ernest Baker’s early life is a bit of a muddle; Born in 1878 in Somerset, it’s a challenge to unpick specific details, as there are two Ernest Bakers, both of whom have parents of the same name – Henry and Sarah – and have siblings with similar names too. Was Ernest’s father, therefore, a thatcher from Meare near Glastonbury or a travelling draper from Taunton.

In fact, it was a newspaper article from April 1915 that helped unlock the confusion.

The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser confirmed that Ernest’s full name was Ernest Bond Baker, and that his father – who had passed away by the time of Ernest’s death – was from Bishop’s Hull, a village near Taunton.

This would seem to confirm, therefore, that his father was a travelling draper.


Ernest was one of ten children. His father died when he was only fifteen years old, by which time Ernest had left school and found employment as a basket weaver, a trade which was prevalent on the Somerset Moors.

Sarah, a widow at only forty, took in laundry to make ends meet. Of Ernest’s two older brother, one had passed away as a teenager, while the other had gone on to have a wife and family of his own. It was left to Ernest, therefore, to remain at home and support his mother and younger siblings.

Ernest met and married local butcher’s daughter Bessie Glover in 1900, and the couple went on to have seven children. After a spell living in Wiltshire, the young family moved back to Somerset, settling in Bridgwater, where Ernest continued to ply his trade.

Ernest’s military service records are lost to time; he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry, joining the 5th Battalion at some point early in the war (certainly before October 1914). Private Baker’s battalion seems to have been part of a territorial/reserve force, and he was based in his home town of Taunton.

In early April 1915, Ernest fell ill, and was admitted to the Voluntary Aid Detachment Red Cross Hospital in Yeovil, suffering from bronchitis and pneumonia. Sadly, the lung conditions were such that he was succumb to them, and he passed away on 16th April 1915. He was just 36 years old.

Ernest Bond Baker lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in his home town of Taunton, Somerset, the same cemetery where his father and brother were buried.


Private Ernest Baker

CWG: Chief Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class Charles Miller

Artificer Charles Miller

Charles Frederick Caleb Miller was born on 12th December 1887 in Gillingham, Kent. His parents were Charles and Harriet Miller, and he had two younger siblings, Mabel and Harriet.

Tragically, Charles Jr’s mother died when he was only three years old; his father went on to marry again – to his widow’s younger sister, Jane – and the couple had two further children – Jane and Beatrice – who were Charles Jr’s half-sisters.

Charles Sr worked as a ship’s rigger in the Military Dockyard in Chatham, and naval life obviously caught his son’s eye. In 1903, having left school, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, started as a ‘boy artificer’, working in the engine and boiler rooms of ships.

His initial service was for twelve years, and he worked on a number of vessels, as well as being assigned to HMS Pembroke, the shore base in Chatham. He worked his way through the ranks to Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class by 1915.

In June of that year, Charles married Ellen Holden. the daughter of a dairyman from Chelsea. The couple went on to have a daughter, Joan, who was born in 1918. At the time of their wedding, Charles was based on HMS Lance, and his military service was to continue.

His period of service extended until the end of the war, Charles served on a number of other vessels, including HMS Surprise, Blenheim and Prince George and rose to Chief Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class.

It was while he was assigned to HMS Ganges in January 1920 that he became unwell, however. He had contracted bronchial pneumonia, and died of a combination of that and heart failure on 9th February 1920. He was 32 years old.

Charles Frederick Caleb Miller lies at rest in Woodlands Cemetery in his home town of Gillingham, Kent.


Charles Miller (from ancestry.co.uk)