Tag Archives: Egypt

CWG: Private Arthur King

Private Arthur King

Arthur Thomas Rendell King was born early in 1896, the oldest of six children to Thomas and Bessie King. Engine driver Thomas had been born in London, but, after marrying his wife the year before Arthur was born, he settled in Highweek near Newton Abbot, Devon.

When he left school, Arthur followed his father in working for Great Western Railways, working as a carriage cleaner at the town’s depot. War was on the horizon, however, and he enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment shortly after conflict was declared.

Private King was assigned to the 1st/5th Battalion and sailed for India in October 1914, arriving in Karachi a month later. After nearly three years, his regiment moved again, this time to Egypt, in advance of action in the Middle East.

Involved in the Battle of Nebi Samwil in November 1917, Arthur was badly wounded – and initially recorded as missing, presumed dead. However, he was found, and evacuated to England. Tragically, within hours of being admitted to a hospital on home soil on 31st January 1918, Private King died of his injuries. He had just turned 22 years of age.

Arthur Thomas Rendell King’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in the family grave in the graveyard of All Saints Church, Highweek.

Private Arthur King
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Seaman Alexander Kennedy

Seaman Alexander Kennedy

Alexander Kennedy was born in Cromore on the Isle of Lewis on 15th June 1895. He was one of five children – four of them boys – to John and Isabella Kennedy.

Living in the remote coastal township, he would have grown up knowing the sea and, when the opportunity arose, he volunteered for the Royal Naval Reserve. His service records show that he enlisted on 12th December 1913; they also note that he was 5ft 6.5ins (1.69m) tall, had blue eyes, a fresh complexion and a scar under his chin.

Seaman Kennedy was kept on a retainer until war broke out the following summer, at which point he was sent to the other end of the country – HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for formal training. His time in the navy was then split between the dockyard and the battleship HMS Implacable.

Over the next couple of years, Seaman Kennedy toured the Mediterranean, berthing in Egypt, Malta and Gibraltar between stops back in the ports on the English coasts. By the summer of 1917, he had returned to HMS Pembroke for good.

At that point in the war, Chatham Dockyard was a particularly busy place, and Alexander was billeted in overflow accommodation set up in the naval barracks’ Drill Hall.

On the night of the 3rd September, the German Air Force conducted the first night time raid on England. Chatham came in the firing line, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Seaman Kennedy was among those killed. He was just 21 years of age.

Alexander Kennedy was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.

Seaman Alexander Kennedy
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Rifleman Edward Drewett

Rifleman Edward Drewett

Edward Phillips Drewett was born on 22nd September 1893 in the Somerset town of Castle Cary. He was one of four children to Richard and Martha Drewett; his mother had been widowed before marrying Richard, and had a child from that marriage, Edward’s half-sister.

Richard was a solicitor’s clerk, but when he left school Edward found employment as a grocer’s assistant. It was this that he was doing when war broke out in 1914 and, in November 1915, he joined up to do his bit for King and Country.

Edward joined the 17th Battalion of the London Regiment as a Rifleman: his service records show that he stood 5ft 7.5ins (1.71m) tall, weighed in at 9st (57.2kg) and was of good physical development.

Rifleman Drewett ended up spending three-and-a-half years in the army, and travelled a lot. After nine months on home soil, he was sent to France, Salonika, Malta and Egypt, spending between four and nine months in each place. By July 1918, he was back in France, and by Christmas that year was on home soil again.

By this point, Rifleman Drewett was unwell, and suffering from nephritis – inflamed kidneys. The condition was severe enough for him to be stood down from the army, and he was formally discharged from military service on 31st March 1919, while admitted to the Bath War Hospital.

At this point, Edward’s trail goes cold. He passed away on 28th August 1919 and, while the cause is unclear, it seems likely to have been kidney-related. He was just 25 years of age.

Edward Phillips Drewett was laid to rest in the cemetery of his home town, Castle Cary.

CWG: Private Albert Withey

Private Albert Withey

Albert Withey was born in Frome, Somerset in November 1882. One of ten children, his parents were John Withey, a coal dealer, and his wife Elizabeth. John passed away in 1891, Elizabeth eight years later, which led to Albert becoming an orphan while still in his teens.

Information on Albert’s early life is scarce and, indeed, his trail goes cold until 26th September 1915, when he enlisted in the Army Service Corps, as part of the war effort.

Private Withey’s service records give more insight into his life: he was 5ft 7ins (1.70m) tall, and had varicose veins on both legs. The document also confirms that he had married local woman Annie Louisa Stent on 2nd January 1912. Both attended Holy Trinity Church, and it is likely that this is where they met. Annie was the daughter of a local house painter, while Albert had become a baker; it is probable that it was this work that led him to be assigned to the ASC.

Within weeks of joining up, Private Withey was in Egypt, and it was here that he worked as part of the Supply Corps for the next four years. Albert remained in North Africa long after the Armistice was signed and, in fact, did not return to England until the August after the war had ended. He was officially demobbed on 30th September 1919.

At this point, Albert’s trail once again goes cold, and the next document relating to him is a short notice in the Somerset Standard, two years later, when, “at Pensions Hospital, Bath, Albert Withey, aged 38 years, [died] after a long and painful illness, patiently borne.[Somerset Standard: Friday 27th May 1921]

Albert Withey was laid to rest in the graveyard of the church in which he was baptised and married, Holy Trinity Church, Frome.

Albert’s widow, Annie, was the sister of Bertie Stent, who had also died after coming home from war. Read his story here.

CWG: Corporal Bruce Chapple

Corporal Bruce Chapple

Bruce Chapple was born in the autumn of 1893, the youngest of four children to Frederick and Elizabeth Chapple. Frederick was born in Newton Abbot and ran the managed a public house in the town (now the Locomotive Inn), although the 1901 census also listed him as a tobacco pipe manufacturer.

According to the next census – in 1911 – Bruce had taken over the pipe making, which meant that Frederick was devoting his time to being a publican. By this time, Bruce had another interest; military service. He had volunteered for the Devonshire Regiment in October 1909 and, over the next few years, the 5ft 3.5ins (1.61m) tall teenager received training in and around the county.

When war broke out in 1914, Private Chapple was formally enrolled and, as part of the 1st/5th Battalion, he set out for India that October. Initially based in Multan – in what is now Pakistan – he subsequently moved on to Lahore.

Bruce spent a total of two-and-a-half years in India, receiving a promotion to Lance Corporal in the process. In March 1917, his battalion transferred to Egypt, and the now Corporal Chapple went with them.

On 23rd November, Bruce was wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to his left thigh; he was not medically repatriated for treatment, but appears to have recovered from his injury and remained in Egypt until July 1918.

Back home in England, Corporal Chapple remained in the army for a further couple of months, before he was discharged as being no longer medically fit for service in September. Sadly, the cause for his discharge is lost to time.

It is at this point that Bruce’s trail goes cold. The next available record is of his death, on 16th November 1919; he was 26 years old.

Bruce Chapple was laid to rest in the family plot in Newton Abbot Cemetery.

CWG: Private Arthur Srodzinski

Private Arthur Srodzinski

Arthur Reginald Srodzinski was born in Paignton, Devon, in October 1890. His great grandfather Stanislaus was born in Poland and emigrated to Devon in the early 1840s. He was an upholsterer, and this is a trade that his son Samuel, and his grandson – Arthur’s father – Henry also followed. Henry and his wife, Sarah, had five children, of which Arthur was the middle one; by the time of the 1901 census, Henry has moved the family to Newton Abbot.

Arthur wanted bigger and better things than upholstering, and sought out a career in the army. In March 1909, he enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment as a Private. His service records show that he was 5ft 5ins (1.69m) tall, and weighed in at 131lbs (59kg). He has hazel eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion.

Private Srodzinski enlisted for a period of twelve years (seven on active duty), and after his initial training, he was sent overseas. Over the next few years, he was posted to Malta, Cyprus and Egypt but, when was came to Europe, he returned to England, before heading to the Western Front.

Arthur’s time in France was not to be a long one – at the end of December 1914, he was medically evacuated to England, suffering from a heart condition. This was to turn out to be a serious issue, and he was formally discharged from the army on medical grounds just four months later.

Back in Devon, Arthur found work as a butcher and, in the autumn of 1917, he married local carpenter’s daughter Carrie Larkworthy; the couple set up home in Newton Abbot.

In March 1918, Arthur was attending a meeting of discharged soldiers at the Commercial Hotel in Newton Abbot, when he collapsed. Medical treatment was sought, but it proved too late; he had died of a heart attack. Arthur was just 28 years of age.

Arthur Reginald Srodzinski was laid to rest in Newton Abbot Cemetery. Three months later, Carrie gave birth to their one and only child, who she named Reginald.

CWG: Serjeant Edwin Lloyd

Serjeant Edwin Lloyd

Edwin Lloyd was born at the start of 1885 and was the youngest of ten children. His father, Henry, was from Bristol; while his mother, Mary, had been born in Ireland.

Henry had been a Serjeant in the armed forces, and his postings are reflected in the places where Edwin and his siblings were born. Henry and Mary’s oldest to children were born in Aden, Arabia (now Yemen), but by 1875, the family were back in England and their next oldest child was born in Dover, Kent. Sarah, the youngest of Edwin’s sisters, was born in Colchester, Essex the following year, but by 1879, Henry had left the army, and had moved the family to Frome, Somerset.

In his retirement, Henry took a job as a grocer, the family living above the shop on the main thoroughfare into the town. Edwin did not follow his father’s trade when he left school; instead the 1901 census lists him as a metal engineer, one of only two of the siblings still living above Henry’s shop.

Henry died in 1907 – a lot of the documentation about his life suggests he was a bit free about his age. The notice in the Somerset Standard announcing his passing gives his age as 69, although it is likely that he was closer to 80.

The following year, Edwin married Florence Emily Letchford in St Matthew’s Church, Bristol. Florence was the daughter of a travelling salesman, but their marriage record sheds more light onto Edwin’s life by this stage and he was recorded as a police constable.

Edwin’s time in the police seems to have been short-lived, however, as, by the census three years later, his role had reverted to memorial brass engraver.

War was coming to Europe, and, while Edwin’s full service records are not available, it’s possible to piece together some of his life in the army. He enlisted in 1915, joining the Dorsetshire Regiment, and was assigned to the 5th (Service) Battalion.

Edwin’s battalion fought at Gallipoli and served in Egypt, moving finally to France in the summer of 1916. He was obviously a diligent soldier, as, by the end of the conflict, he had made the rank of Serjeant.

A local newspaper reported on the end of his army life:

He had served with the forces for about four years, and on his way home from France he was taken ill, and was, when he arrived at home, in a somewhat critical condition. The fatigue of the journey told still further upon him, and he passed away three days after his arrival.

Somerset Standard: Friday 7th March 1919

Serjeant Lloyd’s pension record gives the cause his passing as influenza, pneumonia and syncope, sadly none of which were uncommon for soldiers returning from the front. He was just 34 years old when he died on 25th February 1919.

Edwin Lloyd was laid to rest in the Vallis Road Cemetery (also known as the Dissenters’ Cemetery) in Frome.

CWG: Private Joseph Dodge

Private Joseph Dodge

Joseph Dodge was born in the summer of 1883, and was one of twelve children, including eleven boys. His parents were David and Eliza Dodge, who raised their growing family in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, a few miles to the eats of Yeovil, Somerset.

David was a mason and stone sawyer, but his children went into other roles when they left school; Joseph found work as an agricultural labourer.

In October 1903, Joseph married Elizabeth Ann Case – better known as Annie – who came from just over the Dorset border in the village of Corscombe. Setting up home in Yeovil itself, the couple went on to have two children – both boys – Walter and Norman.

War was coming to Europe, and Joseph was intent on doing his bit. Full service details are not available, but the documents that exist confirm that he enlisted as a Private in the Wiltshire Regiment. Initially assigned to the 1/4th Battalion (which served in Egypt), he transferred to the 2/4th Battalion (which served in India).

Sadly, there is no documentation to give service dates, it is impossible to establish when or if Joseph actually serve in these locations. India seems likely, however, as he later transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment, which was based in Lucknow.

Private Dodge survived the war and came back to England, but seems to have contracted pneumonia on the journey home. Admitted to hospital in Liverpool, the condition sadly got the better of him. He passed away on 16th February 1919, at the age of 35 years old.

Joseph’s body was brought back to the county of his birth; he was laid to rest in Yeovil Cemetery.

Joseph came from a very patriotic family, and local newspapers early in the war highlighted that many of the Stoke-dub-Hamdon brothers had enlisted to serve King and Country.

At the time of the article, six had enlisted – Thomas, Arthur and Percy (all in the Somerset Light Infantry), Albert (West Somerset Yeomanry), Evan (Royal Navy) and David (Canadian Infantry).

Corporal David Dodge seems definitely to have distinguished himself. Having emigrated to Canada before the war, he returned to Europe when conflict broke out. An article in the Western Chronicle reported that he had “been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery on the field under heavy fire.[Western Chronicle: Friday 15th November 1918]

Amazingly, of the seven brothers who fought in the conflict, only Joseph perished.

An earlier series of articles tells the tragic story of another of Joseph’s siblings. Henry Dodge (known as William) had moved to Senghenydd, to the north of Cardiff, in 1910; mining work was plentiful there and he and a number of his fellow villagers had sought money from the black gold.

On the 14th October 1913, and explosion happened in the mine and that and the resulting fire and subsequent poisonous gas outpouring killed more than 430 miners. Initially reported missing, William was later confirmed dead; he was just twenty years old and left a widow and child.

CWG: Gunner William Morgan

Gunner William Morgan

William Francis Morgan was born on 22nd January 1884 in Bengal, India. The youngest of three children, he was the son of James Morgan and his wife Mary. Both came from Ireland, marrying in 1876. They moved to London, before James was posted to India as part of his role in the Royal Horse Artillery.

Sadly James died when William was just a toddler; this prompted Mary to move the family back to England. She married again in 1887, to Edward Curling, who was a carpenter in the Royal Artillery, and the family settled on the Isle of Grain in Kent, living in the fort where Edward worked.

Surrounded by those in military service and with an army heritage himself, is it no surprise that William felt drawn to the life. In September 1898 he enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery. Though not yet fifteen years old, he stood 5ft 11ins (1.69m) tall and weighed in at 101lbs (46kg). He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair and four distinctive marks were noted – three scars on his head and one on his right knee.

Trumpeter Morgan certainly got to see a lot of the world during his time in the army. After a period on home soil, he was sent to Egypt on Christmas Eve 1901, staying there for just over a year. He moved on to India, returning to England five years later, by which time he had achieved the rank of Gunner.

War was imminent, and in September 1914 he was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Barring a short period at home, Gunner Morgan remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, finally returning to the UK in January 1919.

William’s time in the army was one of two halves. He had several bouts of illness during his service, coming down with phimosis in 1901, scarlet fever and gonorrhoea in 1902, a fractured clavicle in 1903, pneumonia in 1904, rheumatism in 1906, ague in 1908, pleurisy in 1909, and had to return from France to England for an operation to remove a carbuncle between his shoulder blades in the summer of 1915.

Gunner Morgan was also pulled up for his conduct a few times too. He was punished for neglect of duty in August 1908, disobeyed orders in May 1909, was pulled up for being improperly dressed while in Portsmouth’s Highbury Arms Pub in November 1909 and went AWOL for ten hours on 31st July 1913.

There were positives to William’s service too, however. He was awarded the British and Victory Medals as well as the 1914 Star during the First World War. He was mentioned in dispatches and received the Military Medal in 1917 an the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal two years later.

Sadly, though, after Gunner Morgan’s positive and lengthy military service, his time out of the army was to be brief. Returning to England on 13th January 1919, he contracted influenza and pneumonia and succumbed to the lung conditions within weeks. He passed away on 27th February 1919, at the age of just 35 years of age.

William Francis Morgan was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, Kent, just minutes’ walk from where his mother now lived.

CWG: Colonel Henry Walsh

Colonel Henry Walsh

Henry Alfred Walsh was born near Taunton, Somerset, in September 1853, the eldest of five children to Theobald and Isabel Walsh. Theobald was a magistrate with some military connections, and it was military service that Henry went into.

While full details aren’t readily available, the 1881 census finds him living in Devon, with his employment simply as “military”. Presumably, he had enrolled in the Somerset Light Infantry, the regiment he had a lifelong commitment to.

By the early 1880s, Henry had married Ann Sparrow. The couple went on to have three children – Theobald, Gwladys and Archibald.

The 1891 finds Henry and his family in the Somerset Light Infantry Barracks at Farnborough. Henry was a Sergeant Major by this time, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion. Also living in the same accommodation – and presumably helping Ann with the running of the household – were a governess and cook.

The census also highlights the transient nature of army life. Henry, as mentioned before, was born in Taunton, while Ann came from Plymouth in Devon. Theobald was born in Taunton, while Gwladys and her younger brother were both born in Devon. Military service brought a sense of stability, but not necessarily geographically.

Henry eventually took a step back from the army; by the time of the 1911 census, he was living back in Bishop’s Hull, the village of his birth in Somerset, and listed as a retired colonel. When war broke out, however, he volunteered his services again, and was appointed the officer commanding the No. 8 District in Exeter.

While Henry came out of retirement to serve his country again, his two sons had also forged their own military careers. Theobald also joined the Somerset Light Infantry, also achieving the rank of Colonel. Archibald joined the Royal Horse Artillery; his story can be found by clicking here.

When Henry passed away in 1918, local newspapers were unanimous in their praise of the long-serving officer, outlining both his military service and his charitable work.

Colonel Walsh had had a distinguished military career, dating from 1870, when he joined the old Somerset Militia at Taunton. [He] was created a CB in 1905, and held the medal and clasp for Zululand, and the medal and two clasps and the Khedive’s Bronze Star for his services in Egypt.

He was a JP for Somerset and a member of the Army and Navy Club. [He] threw himself wholeheartedly into the work of the Boy Scout organisation.

The greatest work in which Colonel Walsh had been identified during the war, however, was undoubtedly that of feeding the Somerset prisoners of war in Germany, and his name will ever be linked in grateful memory with that of his honoured wife for having raised and maintained a fund capable of bearing the strain of over £3,000 expenditure per month to save the Somerset men in Germany from starvation.

Well Journal: Friday 29th November 1918

Ironically, for all this exultation, there is no immediate record of the cause of Henry’s death; given his age – he was 65 when he passed – it seems likely that he died following an illness.

Colonel Henry Alfred Walsh lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset. He is buried next to his son, Archibald.

Colonel Henry Walsh