Arthur George Baguley was born in the autumn of 1897 in Warwick, and was one of six children to George and Rosa Baguley. George was a journeyman butcher who had moved his family to Frome, Somerset, by the time Arthur was three years old. George died in 1908, leaving Rosa to raise the younger members of her family alone.
Little information about Arthur’s life remains, and the only other documents that can be directly connected to him relate to his passing towards the end of the war. These confirm that he enlisted as a Guardsman in the Coldstream Guards at some point after April 1918.
Based in barracks in Hampshire, Guardsman Baguley was admitted to the Connaught Hospital in Aldershot, suffering from infective endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart. Sadly, he succumbed to the illness, passing away on 13th September 1918, aged just 20 years old.
Arthur George Baguley’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church, Midsomer Norton, where his mother was living by that point.
Arthur Thomas Foote was born on 18th June 1880 in the Dorset town of Sherborne. One of three children to Jane Foot, his mother married widower James Rose in 1887, giving Arthur a half-sibling. James passed away in 1889, and Jane married another widower – Albin Pitman – and Arthur had a further six siblings and half-siblings.
By this point, the family had moved to Somerset, settling in Compton Pauncefoot. The 1901 census recorded Arthur as having left the family home and he was boarding in nearby Holton. He had, by this time, found work as a carter.
Arthur had met Agnes Wetherall, a tailor’s daughter from the village of Baltonsborough. The couple married in Wells in April 1902, and set up home in nearby Glastonbury. They went on to have two children – Robert, who had been born in 1898, and Lillian, who was born in 1902 – and Arthur continued working as a carter for a miller.
When was broke out, both Arthur enlisted. While full details of his service are not available he joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment as a Private, and was assigned to their Labour Corps.
Robert had also enlisted early on in the war. He joined the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and was killed in fighting in Norther France in September 1916. He was awarded the Mons Star, and is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval.
Arthur survived the war, and returned home in early 1919. He quickly came down with pneumonia, and passed away within a week of his return, on 11th February 1919. He was 38 years old.
Arthur Thomas Foote was laid to rest at the top of Glastonbury Cemetery, walking distance from the family home.
Alfred Charles Moist was born early in 1887 in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton. His parents were William and Mary Moist, and he was the youngest of eight children. William was a clay miner and his neighbours – who included the young Thomas Willcocks – all worked in the same trade.
William died in 1899, leaving Mary to raise the family alone. By the time of the 1901 census, her widowed daughter Emma had moved back in with her son, and was working from home as a dressmaker. Alfred, meanwhile, and his two older brothers Frank and Reginald were all employed as brick dressers and together they earned enough to keep the family going.
The next census – compiled in 1911 – found Alfred still living with Mary, but the household had a different set up. Emma had remarried and was living in nearby Ilsington with her publican husband. Another of Alfred’s sisters, Bessie, had moved in with her daughter, Florence, and was keeping house for her mother. Reginald was also still living at home and was still employed by the brickyard. Alfred, however, had found now work as a police constable.
Mary passed away in the spring of 1913, by which point, Alfred had met Edith Mary Sampson, a labourer’s daughter from North Devon. The couple married in Broadhempston, near Totnes, on 21st November 1913.
War came to Europe, and Alfred enlisted in December 1915. His job in the police force, however, meant that he was initially placed on reserve, and he was not formally mobilised until April 1918, when he joined the Coldstream Guards. His enlistment papers show that he stood 5ft 11ins (1.8m) tall and weighed in at 10st 4lbs (65kg).
Guardsman Moist was barracked in London, but fell ill in September 1918. He was admitted to the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital with a haematoma and renal calculus (kidney stones). He spent a total of four months in hospital before being discharged back to duty.
At this point, Alfred’s trail goes cold. The next record for him comes in the form of the record of his death, which was registered in Hampstead, London. This suggests that he was either still in the Coldstream Guards or that he had been hospitalised again because of his previous illness. Either way, he died on 28th August 1919, at the age of 32 years old.
Alfred Charles Moist’s body was brought back to Devon. He lies at rest in the Graveyard of St Paul’s Church in his home village of Chudleigh Knighton.
William Harry David Bellham was born in September 1888, the only child to William and Rosina Bellham. William Sr was a foreman for a collar manufacturer, and the young family lived in Taunton, Somerset, in a house they shared with Rosina’s mother, Mary Hale.
Life continued pretty much unchanged. When William Jr left school, he became a stenographer for a coal merchant, and, when war erupted in 1914, he didn’t sign up as soon as you would expect for someone of his age.
William enlisted in February 1916 and was assigned to the Coldstream Guards – given he stood 5ft 11ins (1.8m) tall, this probably went in his favour. Initially placed on reserve duty, Private Bellham was eventually mobilised in January 1917, and sent to Caterham for training.
Within a matter of weeks, William had an accident. Slipping on some ice, he suffered an inguinal hernia, which subsequently became strangulated, causing him severe pain. After initial treatment in hospital, he was discharged, but was then admitted again five months later when the hernia returned. A further operation was ruled out by the medical examiner, and he was discharged from the army on medical grounds at the end of June 1917.
Once back in Taunton, it did become necessary for William to undergo an additional operation. This was carried out in the local hospital and, according to the records, was a success. Sadly, however, William subsequently contracted pneumonia, and he died on 10th December 1917. He was just 29 years old.
William Harry David Bellham was buried in St Mary’s Cemetery in his home town of Taunton.
Cruelly, the contemporary local media had a less sympathetic take on the incident that caused William’s troubles. The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser [on Wednesday 26th December 1917] suggested that he “was not really strong enough to stand the strain and hardships of military training and was invalided out after some months’ service.” Not exactly the picture that his medical records had outlined.
James Budgett was born in October 1880 and was one of nine children to Henry and Eliza Budgett. Henry was a labourer, and the family lived in the small village of Stoke St Michael, near Shepton Mallett in Somerset.
While initially following his father in to labouring, James was drawn to the military as a career. He enlisted in the army in August 1899, and was assigned to the Coldstream Guards. James’ bearing would certainly have stood him in good stead for this wing of the army; his medical examination shows he was 6ft 1in (1.85m) tall.
Guardsman Budgett’s initial service was for twelve years; during this time, he spent six months in Australia, but his records show that most of his time was spent on home soil.
When his term ended in August 1911, he enrolled for a further four years. Initially assigned to the Reserve Battalion, he was formally mobilised when war broke out. Sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914, he was wounded in the foot two months later, and was sent home for treatment.
According to Guardsman Budgett’s medical records, the treatment unearthed a two other issues. One was that he was suffering from syphilis, which was treated. The other was that an x-ray identified an aneurysm in his aortic arch. This was considered harmful enough for him to be medically dismissed from the army, and he left active service on 25th March 1915.
After this, details of James’ life get a bit hazy. His pension records show that he married a woman called Bessie, but there is nothing to confirm when the marriage took place.
The next record for James Budgett is confirmation of his passing. He died from an aneurysm on 4th May 1917, at the age of 36. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s church in his home village of Stoke St Michael, Somerset.
Herbert Packer was born in December 1889, the youngest of nine children to Joseph and Ann Packer. Joseph was a railway carrier (or porter) and the family lived in Cheddar, Somerset.
The 1911 census found Herbert on his travels; he was working as a grocer’s assistant, and boarding with a family in Abergavenny, South Wales. He was obviously keen to develop his skills, and soon moved to Barnstaple in Devon to work for the Lipton’s grocery there.
In the autumn of 1914, Herbert married Lydia Snell, a dressmaker from Wales and the young couple lived together in the Devon town where he worked. He was very active in the community; he was a teacher at the local Wesleyan Sunday School, and active in the church choir having, according to a local newspaper, “a capital voice”.
Herbert enlisted in the spring of 1916, and had the honour of joining the Coldstream Guards. He did his training in London, and was due back to Barnstaple on leave before starting his active service when he was taken ill. Admitted to the London Hospital with pneumonia, within a couple of weeks he had succumbed to the condition. Guardsman Packer died on 3rd December 1916, aged just 26 years old.
Herbert Packer lies at rest in St Andrew’s Churchyard in his home town of Cheddar in Somerset.
Roland Roberts was born in September 1896, one of three children – all boys – to Albert and Minnie Roberts.
Minnie, who was originally from Yeovil, had married Walter Shury, a Londoner, in 1874, and the couple had six children together. Walter then went on to have four children with Alice Norwood, and the couple married in 1898. Minnie, meanwhile, had met Albert Roberts, who was from Dundalk in Ireland, and, while no marriage seems to be confirmed, the couple had three boys, including Roland. (It is pure speculation, but as Minnie’s maiden was also Roberts, this might have provided a good enough cover for any divorce or re-marriage.)
Albert had been a Band Sergeant in the 4th Hussars, and continued that passion by becoming a music teacher Travel was also definitely in his blood: the couple’s first child, Willie, was born in South London, Roland was born in Somerset, and his younger sibling, Glencoe, was born in Penzance, Cornwall. Albert’s musical success led him to become bandmaster for the Penzance Town Band. Sadly, it was not all positive for him; in 1901, Minnie passed away, and in the same year, Willie also died, at the tender age of six.
It was the military that drew Roland in, and, in 1910, aged just 14 years old, he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards. According to the following year’s census, he was stationed at the Ramillies Barracks in Aldershot, and held the rank of Boy.
Differing from the naval rank of the same name, lads of 14 or over could serve in any regiment as musicians, drummers, tailors, shoemakers, artificers or clerks, and all were ranked as boys. It seems likely, therefore, that his father’s enthusiasm for music served him well.
When war broke out, he was of fighting age, and, as part of the “Old Contemptibles”, he was involved in the Battle of Mons, the first major confrontation for the British Expeditionary Force.
During the war, Private Roberts took part in some of the most severe fighting on the Western Front, was wounded three times, as well as being gassed. He was also recommended for the DCM for gallantry in action.
He transferred to the Labour Corps, and spent time doing land work in Somerset. It was here that Roland met and married Gladys Pyne, whose family was from Bridgwater, and the couple tied the knot in March 1918.
Sadly, it was during this war service that Private Roberts contracted influenza and pneumonia and he passed away as his in-laws’ home on 10th November 1918, the day before the Armistice was signed. He was just 22 years old.
The local newspaper reported on Roland’s continued gallantry in its article on his funeral:
[Roland] held the medal of the Royal Humane Society for saving a woman’s life.
He was also the hero of an incident that occurred in Bridgwater a few weeks ago, when he succeeded in checking the career of an infuriated bull through pluckily catching the animal by its horns.
His disposition was always most cheerful, and although suffering from his [war] wounds a good deal, he never complained.
The Cornishman: Wednesday 27th November 1918
Roland Roberts lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his adopted home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.
Joseph Richard Steadman was born in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in 1892. One of seven children to William and Mary Ann Steadman, his father worked as a slab maker for the local council.
Sadly, Joseph’s mother died in 1899, at the age of just 40. William had moved the family to Birmingham by this point, and, on leaving school, Joseph found work at a jeweller’s as a scratch brusher.
Moving to London, Joseph met Ethel May Tambling, who was originally from Somerset, and the couple married at the beginning of 1914. Ethel already had a child – Frederick – and the young couple also had a son, Alfred, who was born in July 1914.
War was on the horizon, and Joseph was quick to enlist. He joined the Coldstream Guards, embarking for France a month after Alfred was born. An elite force, the Coldstream Guards were involved in some of the heaviest fighting of the war, including the Battles of Mons, Ypres, Loos, Somme, Passchendale and Cambrai. It is likely that Guardsman Steadman was caught up in many of these engagements.
His luck was to run out, however, and Joseph was injured towards the end of October 1917. Shipped back to England for treatment, he was admitted to the King George Hospital in London. Sadly, Guardsman Steadman did not recover from his wounds; he died on 1st November 1917, aged just 25 years old.
Joseph Richard Steadman lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in Bridgwater, Somerset.
As a sad aside to this story, two of Joseph’s brothers also died in the war. William Steadman was 29 when he was killed at Ypres in April 1915, while Charles Steadman was just 19 when he died at Armentieres.
Stephen Reed was born in August 1887, one of seven children to Stephen and Eliza Reed from Bridgwater, Somerset. Stephen Sr was a labourer, eventually working as a carter for the local council.
Stephen Jr sought bigger and better things, however. After initially working as a butcher, he enlisted in the army in January 1907. He served a term of three years in the Coldstream Guards, before being stood down to reserve status in 1910.
Stephen had by then, found his calling in life and joined the police force. Standing at 6ft 1in (1.84m) tall, he would have cut an imposing figure. By the time of the 1911 census, he was boarding at the barracks in Dorchester, where he was listed as a police constable.
In May 1913, Stephen, by now aged 25, married Emily Maud Bower, in their home town. By March of the following year, the young couple had settled back in Swanage, Dorset, and had had a child, Stephen George.
War was on the horizon, however, and Private Reed was re-mobilised in August 1914, finding himself overseas within weeks. He was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal, and, after a couple of years – including fighting at Mons and receiving a subsequent gunshot wound to his hand – was transferred to the Military Police Force.
In April 1918, Lance Corporal Reed contracted tuberculosis, and was ill enough to be evacuated back to England for treatment. He was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire, but passed away within a day of arriving. Sadly, his records show that a telegram was sent to Emily summoning her to the hospital, but, as this was dated the same day he passed away, it seems unlikely that she would have arrived in time.
Lance Corporal Reed died on 27th April 1918. He was 31 years old.
Stephen Reed lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater.
A sad addition to Stephen’s military records is a latter to his widow in September 1918, asking for acknowledgement of receipt of his belongings. The items in question boiled down to: pair of braces; button stick; shaving brush; 2 boot brushes; comb; pipe lighter; handkerchief; pocket knife; safety razor; towel; flannel vest; waistcoat; identity disc; wrist strap; pair of scissors; tie clip; mirror; pipe; cigarette holder; 4 cap badges; card case; wallet and photos; wallet and correspondence; cigarette care; cigarettes; tobacco.
We can assume that these items – especially the photographs and correspondence – gave some level of comfort to Emily, but seeing her late husband’s life summed up in a bagful of belongings must also have been heart-breaking.
Harold Joseph James Dummett was born in early 1900, one of ten children – and the eldest son – of Harry and Elizabeth of Kingsdon, Somerset.
Harold joined the Coldstream Guards, although there are no records to confirm the date of his enlistment. His battalion – the 5th – remained stationed in Windsor throughout the war; it is likely, therefore, that Guardsman Dummett never saw front line service.
His pension records give his mother as his next of kin, while the Register of Soldier’s Effects also name his father.
Guardsman Dummett passed away from pleurisy and pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Purfleet on 15th February 1919. He was 19 years of age.
Harold Joseph James Dummett lies at peace in the quiet All Saints’ Churchyard in his home village of Kingsdon.
While Harold does not appear in the newspaper records, his parents do. In April 1937, the Taunton Courier reports that
Mr and Mrs Harry Dummett celebrated their golden wedding… There was a happy family gathering of all their children and two grandsons.
Taunton Courier and Weston Advertiser – 24th April 1937