Tag Archives: brother

CWG: Able Seaman John Clements

Able Seaman John Clements

John Clements was born on 22nd March 1891 in the Lanarkshire town of Airdrie. He was one of seven children to John and Catherine Clements.

There is little concrete information about John Jr’s life. When he left school, he followed his father and two brothers, David and George into the mining industry, working at the New Orbiston Colliery, walking distance from home.

When war broke out, however, John Jr wanted to play a bigger part and – probably to Catherine’s horror – he enlisted in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve at the same time as two of his three brothers also joined up.

Information about Able Seaman Clements’ service is scarce. All that can be confirmed is that, in the autumn of 1917, he was based at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

The base was particularly busy at that point in the war, and John found himself billeted in overflow accommodation in the barracks’ Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham was bombarded by a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Able Seamen Clements was among those killed. He was just 26 years old.

John Clements’s body, along the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.


Able Seaman John Clements
(from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

John and Catherine’s second son had been killed, but, as the local newspaper reported, there seemed to be more trauma ahead:

Private George Clements, Cameron Highlanders, aged 23… is officially posted missing in recent operations in France. He has seen a long period of active service, and previous to enlisting, was employed in the… Hattonrigg Colliery.

Private David Clements, Royal Irish, the eldest son [of John and Catherine] is in hospital in Yorkshire suffering from ‘gassing injuries’. This is the third occasion upon which he has been wounded; fortunately, he is making a satisfactory recovery. He is 28 years of age and was employed in the… New Orbiston Colliery.

Bellshill Speaker: Friday 14th September 1917

Thankfully, George was found and David recovered and John was to be the only casualty of the conflict for the Clements family.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Albert Cairns

Stoker 1st Class Albert Cairns

Albert Cairns was born on 22nd October 1894, one of ten children to Wilson and Maria Cairns. Both of his parents were born in Northern Ireland, and flax dresser Wilson raised his family in the capital, Belfast.

When he left school, Albert began shop work, but he wanted bigger and better things. On 2nd March 1912, having already been a volunteer in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, he enlisted in the regiment full time. His service records show that he was 5ft 4.5ins (1.64m) tall, weighed 125lbs (56.7kg) and had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion.

Private Cairns’ army service was brief, however, as, on 23rd March he was discharged for “having made a mis-statement as to [his] age on enlistment.”

Undeterred, six months later, Albert tried again, this time enlisting in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class. His determination was clear, as he lied about his age again, giving his year of birth as 1893. This was overlooked (or at the very least not checked), and he was sent to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, for his training.

In February 1913, Stoker Cairns was assigned to the cruiser HMS Blonde. He spent the next two years on board, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

For all his desire to serve, Albert’s military career was a chequered one. Over the period of five years, he served on four ships, returning to Chatham after each voyage. His character began as Very Good, but as time went on this slipped to Good and then to Indifferent. On four separate occasions he was detained for going AWOL, and he spent a total of 159 days in the brig.

In May 1917 he was returned to HMS Pembroke; that summer was a busy time for the base, and Stoker 1st Class Cairns found himself billeted in overflow accommodation set up in the barracks’ Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September, Chatham came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Stoker Cairns was among those to be killed that night. He was 22 years of age.

Albert Cairns was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.


Tragically, Albert was not the first boy of that name to be born to the family. Albert Wilson Cairns was born in 1888, but died when only a toddler.

Wilson and Maria also had three sons called Wilson: the first, born in 1889, died at the age of two. The second was born in 1892, but passed away at the age of seven months.

The third Wilson Cairns was born in 1896. He went on to become a mill labourer, before joining the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in February 1913. Just like his older brother had done before him, however, he had lied about his age, and was soon discharged. Two years later he tried again, and this time succeeded in joining up.

Private Cairns was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, and soon found himself in France and in the thick of it. Fighting in the Battle of Ancre, he was killed on 23rd November 1916. He was just 20 years of age, and was laid to rest in the Waggon Road Cemetery near Beaumont-Hamel.

Private Wilson Cairns
(from findagrave.com)

The Belfast Telegraph reported on Albert’s death, and noted Wilson’s death ten months previously. It also confirmed that Wilson and Maria’s oldest son, George, had also been wounded, and was recovering in a convalescent camp.

The same newspaper ran a number of messages of condolence for Albert, including one from his loving sweetheart, Katie Rollins.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Horace Sharp

Stoker 1st Class Horace Sharp

Horace Stanley Sharp was born on 13th April 1894, the oldest of eight children to Harry and Edith. Harry was a labourer from Luton in Bedfordshire, and this is where he and Edith raised their family.

When he left school, Horace found work at a local iron foundry, but he wanted more of a career and, on 25th February 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class. His service records confirm that he was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and that he had a fair complexion.

Stoker Sharp was first posted to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. Here he would have received his training, but, during this time, he went absent without authorisation, and, as a result, spent 24 days in the cells. It seems that his training was extended as a result of this, as he was not given his first posting – on board the cruiser HMS Sirius – until January 1914.

Over the next couple of years, Horace served on two further vessels – HMS Alert, where he gained a promotion to Stoker 1st Class, and HMS Swiftsure, where he was detained for a further five days. The reason for this second time in the brig is not recorded, but, as it coincided with the death of Horace’s mother, the cause seems likely to have been connected.

In 1916 he returned to HMS Pembroke, before being assigned to the brand new battlecruiser HMS Repulse, where he served for a year, taking part in operations in the Persian Gulf and the Dardanelles.

At the end of July 1917, Stoker 1st Class Sharp returned to Chatham once more. The base was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Horace was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker 1st Class Sharp was among those killed that night. He was just 23 years of age.

Horace Stanley Sharp was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


Stoker 1st Class Horace Sharp
(from findagrave.com)

Horace’s younger brother Harry also fought in the First World War, serving a a Private in the 1st Battalion of the London Regiment. He was assigned to the 13th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and fought at the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917.

He was wounded on 5th September 1917, receiving a gun shot wound in the back. Private Sharp was admitted to hospital, and died from his injuries later that day. He was just 20 years of age and passed away just two days after his older brother. He was laid to rest in the Reninghelst Military Cemetery in Belgium.


CWG: Private Bertie Ball

Private Bertie Ball

Bertie Ball was born in Westcott, Berkshire, in the spring of 1890, the oldest of ten children to John and Matilda Ball. John was from Berkshire, who raised his family in Wantage. He began life as a farm labourer, but, by the time of the 1901 census, he had found other employment, as a groom at a racing stable.

Details of Bertie’s life are scarce. When he left school, he found work as a garden labourer and, when war broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps. Private Ball was assigned to the Mechanical Transport Company, but whether he served overseas on on home soil is unknown.

Bertie died on 4th March 1915 from cerebrospinal meningitis. He was just 24 years old. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in Midsomer Norton – I can find no Somerset connection, so can only imagine that he passed away in or near the town.


Bertie’s younger brother Percival Ball also served in the First World War. He served with the 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment and fought in Mesopotamia. Sadly he was killed there, dying on 5th April 1916. He was just 17 years of age. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Leonard Fish

Stoker 1st Class Leonard Fish

Leonard Fish was born on 24th November 1893, one of eleven children to Arthur and Elizabeth. Arthur was a maltser (brewer) from Hertfordshire and is was in Ware that Leonard was born.

While Leonard’s older brothers followed in their father’s brewing footsteps, he worked as a farm labourer after leaving school. He wanted bigger things, however, and, on 25th February 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Leonard’s service records show that he stood 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class, and was sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training.

Over the next four years, Stoker Fish travelled far and wide. His initial sea posting was on board the battleship HMS King Edward VII; he served on board for nearly two-and-a-half years, gaining a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.

After a brief spell back in Chatham, Leonard was sent to HMS Vivid – a similar shore-based establishment in Devonport – and from there he was assigned to the newly fitted out battleship HMS Royal Oak. Within the month she was at the heart of the Battle of Jutland, and continued to protect the North Sea convoys.

Stoker Fish returned to HMS Pembroke in August 1917. The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and the large number of extra servicemen meant that Leonard was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker Fish was among those killed. He was just 23 years of age.

Leonard Fish was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


Stoker Leonard Fish
(from ancestry.co.uk)

Leonard’s older brother Frederick Fish also fought in the First World War.

Frederick was born three years before Leonard, and enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment in 1915. He was sent to France at the end of July, and gained the rank of Corporal.

He was killed in the fighting at the Somme on 13th July 1916. He was just 26 years of age, and left a widow, Ellen.

Corporal Frederick Fish was laid to rest in the Serre Road Cemetery No 2 in Beaumont-Hamel.

Corporal Frederick Fish
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Stoker 1st Class Frederick Cable

Stoker 1st Class Frederick Cable

Frederick Charles Cable was born on 22nd November 1890 in Eastbourne, West Sussex. He was the younger of three children to John and Louisa Cable, and the family lived on one floor of a three-storey house in the middle of the town.

When Frederick was born, John was working as a billiard marker, but it seems that this was a poor way to scratch together a living for a young father. The 1901 census found the family in London, where John had been born, and where he was not employed as a hotel waiter.

Sadly, the new set-up was not to last long: John died in 1905, leaving Louisa to raise her boys on her own. The next census record, in 1911, records the two of them living a five-room terraced house in East Finchley. They were not alone, however, as they were sharing it with a widow – Elizbeth Hickinbottom – and her 34-year old son, George.

A year later, George and Louisa married, and went on to have a daughter, also called Louisa. Frederick, meanwhile, was to find love of his own, and, in the spring of 1914, while working as a milkman, he married Dorothy Ada Laurence. They would go on to have a son, who they named after his father, a year later.

By this point, war was raging in Europe, and Frederick was called to do his duty in May 1915. His records show that he was 5ft 7ins (1.70m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion and was given the rank of Stoker 2nd Class.

Over the next couple of years, Frederick served on two ships – HMS Actaeon and HMS Weymouth – and it was on board the latter that he was promoted to Stoker 1st Class in April 1916. The majority of his time, however, was spent on shore-based establishments: HMS Victory in Hampshire and HMS Pembroke in Kent.

The Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham (HMS Pembroke) was where he spent most of his time, and was where he returned to in the summer of 1917. It was a particularly busy place at that point in the war and temporary accommodation was set up. Frederick found himself billeted at The Drill Hall, away from the main barracks.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line, as the German Air Force launched a bombing raid. One of the bombs landed squarely on the Drill Hall, and Stoker Cable was killed instantly. He was just 26 years old.

Ninety-eight servicemen perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night. They were buried in a mass funeral at the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. This, too, is where Frederick Charles Cable was laid to rest.


Frederick’s brother John Cable also fought in the First World War. He served as a Sergeant in the 21st Battalion Middlesex Regiment and was killed at the Battle of St Quentin on 25th March 1918. He was 28 years old and left a widow and three children. #

Serjeant John Cable is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in Northern France.


CWG: Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was born in London in February 1890, one of eight children to Frederick and Elizabeth Blackwell. Frederick was a tailor from Devon, while Elizabeth had been born in Somerset. By the time of the 1911 census, they had moved back to Somerset, settling in the village of Dunster.

Ronald followed in his father’s footsteps and, by the time war broke out, was living and working in Taunton. It’s clear that he wanted to play his part in the growing conflict, enlisting in the Royal Engineers in January 1915.

Sapper Blackwell’s service records confirm that he stood 5ft 6.5ins (1.69m) tall; they also note that he had the tattoo of a heart on his left forearm. His skill as a tailor is mentioned numerous times, and it appears that this talent was how his time was put to use. He was shipped to France on 25th January 1915, and, by the end of the conflict, he was in Italy. It was from here that he returned to England on 26th January 1919.

It seems that Ronald’s return to the UK was as a result of him becoming ill, as, within a month of coming home, he was medically discharged form the army, having been suffering from tuberculosis.

Ronald returned to Somerset, but was to be dogged by the lung disease for a further year more. He passed away at home on 25th June 1920, aged just 30 years old.

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was laid to rest in Dunster Cemetery, not far from his parents’ then home.


Ronald’s older brother, Harold Frederick Blackwell, also fought in the First World War. He was a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He was killed during the Allied advance into Flanders in August 1918, and was laid to rest in the Terlincthun British Cemetery in Northern France.


CWG: Private Roderick Smith

Private Roderick Smith

Roderick Morgan Smith was born on 14th April 1896 in Upton Park, Essex. One of twin sons to Francis and Frances Smith, he had three siblings altogether. Francis is absent from the two census returns on which Roderick features, but the documents confirm that Frances – who was a certified teacher – was married, so he may have been elsewhere at the time.

By the time of the 1901 census, the family had moved from East London to Monmouthshire, where Roderick’s mother was teaching at the school in the village of Wonastow. Ten years later, they had moved across the River Severn to Withycombe in Somerset, not far from where Frances had been born. Other records show that they subsequently moved to Bath, then to Weston-super-Mare.

When war broke out, Roderick was keen to join up. He enlisted in the as a Private in the Durham Light Infantry, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion. He was sent to France in the spring of 1915, and would have been involved with his regiment at Ypres and the Somme.

It was at the Somme that Private Smith was gassed and wounded. Full details are not recorded, but they were enough for him to be medically evacuated to England. He was admitted to the military hospital in Taunton, but passed away on 7th May 1916. He was just 20 years of age.

Roderick Morgan Smith was brought to Weston-super-Mare and laid to rest in the town’s Milton Road Cemetery.


Roderick’s twin, Frank Morgan Smith, also played his part in the First World War. He enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment as a Private, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion. He also found himself embroiled at the Somme, and he too was wounded.

Sadly, Frank’s wounds were too severe for him to be repatriated to England; he died in a French hospital on 3rd December 1916, also aged 20 years old. He was laid to rest at the Wimeraux 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: Private Graham Grant

Private Graham Grant

Graham Grant was born in early 1891, one of ten children to Charles and Emma Grant. Charles was a sign painter and both he and his wife were from Wiltshire, but it was in Frome, Somerset, that they chose to settle and raise their family.

When he left school Graham found work as an assistant in a jeweller’s shop, but when war came to England’s shores, he was keen to do all that he could for King and Country.

While full details of his military service are not available, it is noticeable that the local newspaper – the Somerset Standard – dedicated a full column to news of his death in 1916, and then a further full column to his funeral a week later. The newspaper reported that:

Private Graham Grant, who was just 25 years of age, was living in Bristol when the war broke out, and in September 1914, he joined the 4th Gloucesters along with his eldest brother, Private Charles Grant, and being in the same platoon they were inseparable companions both in training and in the trenches… They went out to the Front just over 12 months ago – January 1915 – and for practically a year they escaped injury…

Private Grant had not been home since he landed in France, but he and his brother were expecting to have leave at Christmas to visit their family and friends at Frome. On the 23rd December… [he] was with his platoon in a trench, the top of which was some three feet above the heads of the men. At 8:30 in the evening they were about to be relieved… when a German machine-gun opened fire on the trench.

Somerset Standard: Friday 11th February 1916

A bullet hit Graham in the back and he was taken first to a hospital in Rouen, then medically evacuated back to England. Admitted to the Racecourse Hospital in Cheltenham, x-rays showed that his spine had been shattered by the bullet, and he was paralysed from the waist down. “[His] case was regarded as hopeless from the first” and as many friends and family went to see him as possible. Private Grant passed away on 6th February 1916, Emma and his three sisters at his bedside. He was just 25 years of age.

Graham Grant’s body was brought back to Frome, and laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in the town. The funeral, at the family’s request, was devoid of any military fanfare or involvement.


While there was a lot of reporting on both the death and funeral, the vicar of St John’s Church in the town noted in his sermon that Graham had been a member of the choir there, both as a boy and a man. He was also the first chorister of the church to give his life for his country. Reverend Randolph went on to say that:

…there were things connected with Graham Grant’s death for which [he was] thankful… he did not die on the battlefield, maybe after hours of suffering unattended and without succour… he did not die in the hands of the enemy or in the enemy’ country… he died surrounded by his relatives and friends, those who were near and dear to him, and that he had the most skilful medical treatment and tender nursing.

Somerset Standard: Friday 11th February 1916