Tag Archives: Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry

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 Thomas Willcocks

Private Thomas Willcocks

Thomas George Willcocks was born on 18th April 1882, in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton. The oldest of five children, his parents were William Willcocks and his wife Emma. William worked as a clay cutter, and this was a trade Thomas followed when he left school.

By 1899, Thomas had met Sophy Gale, a clay cutter’s daughter from nearby Hennock; the couple married and had a daughter, Violet. Thomas was also working as a cutter, and moved into his in-laws house to start raising his young family.

Life can be cruel: the 1911 census shows that Thomas and Sophy had moved to Chudleigh Knighton – where Sophy was originally from. Violet had, by this point, sadly passed away; Thomas’ brother-in-law, Albert, had moved in with the couple to help pay their way.

War was coming to Europe and, although full details of Thomas’ service no longer remain, it is possible to piece together some of his time in the army.

Private Willcocks enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at some point before January 1917, although he soon transferred across to the Hampshire Regiment. His battalion – the 15th – were moved to France in the summer of 1916, and it seems that Thomas served at least some of his time in the trenches of the Western Front.

While abroad, Private Willcocks fell ill with trench fever and rheumatism, and was medically evacuated back to the UK for treatment. He was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Glasgow, but passed away on 23rd July 1917. He was 35 years old.

The body of Thomas George Willcocks was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Paul’s Church in Chudleigh Knighton.

Thomas’ brother in law, Albert, also died as a result of the First World War; he lies in the grave next to Thomas. His story can be found here.

Thomas’ neighbour was Alfred Moist. He also lies in the same churchyard and his story can be found here.

Thomas George Willcocks
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Serjeant William Wilcox

Serjeant William Wilcox

Soloman William Wilcox – known by just his middle name – was born in 1894 and was one of seven children. His father, James, was a carter from Keinton Mandeville in Somerset, and he and William’s mother, Eliza, brought the family up in neighbouring Charlton Mackrell.

By the time of the 1911 census, William had left school, and was working as a farm labourer, with his older brother Sidney. James, meanwhile, had found further employment working in a local bluestone quarry.

War was on the horizon and, while it is evident that he enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, there is little further documentation to track his service. Both of the regiment’s main battalions fought on the Western Front, though where and when William was involved is lost to time.

He seems to have been an ambitious young man; he rose through the ranks and, at the point he was discharged, he had risen to the role of Serjeant. He was also in receipt of the Military Medal, though there is no further information about the events that led to this.

William may well have been spurred on by family losses he suffered during the conflict. His mother Eliza died in April 1915, his brother Sidney was killed in action on 10th September 1916, and his father James passed away in August 1918.

Serjeant Wilcox survived the war, and was eventually discharged from military service in August 1919. Whether he was simply demobbed, or he was medically discharged is unclear, but, given that he died only a few months later, it seems likely that the latter was the case.

Soloman William Wilcox died in Taunton, Somerset, on 10th November 1919, at the age of 25 years old. His body was brought to St Peter & St Paul’s Church in Charlton Adam, Somerset, potentially close to where some of his remaining family lived.

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Serjeant William Wilcox
(courtesy of findagrave.com)

CWG: Private Ernest Sedgbeer

Private Ernest Sedgbeer

Ernest John Sedgbeer was born in Taunton in the summer of 1891, the second of seven children to Henry and Alice Sedgbeer. Henry worked in a foundry, and his son joined him as a labourer.

By the time of the 1911 census, most of the nine members of the family disappear from the records – it is likely that these were lost – but both father and son are to be found living in South Wales – Henry working as a furnace stoker in the Rhondda, Ernest as a labourer below ground in Llanwonno, near Pontypridd.

Ernest seems to have had an opportunity to find other employment, and started work for Great Western Railways in February 1914. War was imminent, however, and a little over a year later, he had enlisted.

Ernest first joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as a Private, but transferred over to the Dorsetshire Regiment. He was certainly involved in fighting on the Western Front, although full details of his military service are not documented.

His records show that he was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star. Private Sedgbeer was wounded in July 1916 and medically evacuated back to England, where he was admitted to King’s Hospital in Lambeth. Sadly, he was to die of his injuries on 7th July 1916, aged just 25 years old.

Ernest John Sedgbeer lies at rest in the St James’ Cemetery in his home town of Taunton, Somerset.

The local newspaper reported on Private Sedgbeer’s funeral, although it seems to have attributed it to the wrong brother.

The death took place… on Friday last, of Private Charles Sedgebeer of the Dorset Regiment, who was severely wounded in the recent heavy fighting on the Western Front. Deceased was the second son of Mr and Mrs Henry Sedgebeer… and was employed on the railway before the war. His father and three brothers are on active service in France, and one brother in the Navy. The eldest brother has won the DCM.

Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser: Wednesday 19th July 1916

Ernest was indeed the second son of the family, but Charles was the oldest, and survived the war.

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Ernest John Sedgbeer
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Private Edward Lewsley

Private Edward Lewsley

Edward (Teddy) Lewsley was born in 1894, the ninth of twelve children to James and Charlotte Lewsley from London.

James had worked with horses, and become a cab driver at the turn of the century; Edward started as a general labourer on finishing school.

Edward’s military history is a little vague. From his gravestone, we know that he joined the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was in the 1st Battalion. The battalion fought at the Battles of Mons, Marne and Messines.

In the spring of 1915, Edward’s battalion fought in the Second Battle of Ypres and, given the timing, it seems likely that he was involved.

Whether he was on the Western Front or stationed in the UK, Private Lewsley was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Sherborne, where he passed away on 30th May 1915. He was buried in the town’s cemetery.

One of Edward’s brothers also enlisted in the Light Infantry.

Daniel Lewsley first joined the East Surrey Regiment in 1909 and continued through to 1928. This included a stint as part of the British Expeditionary Force in France.