Tag Archives: Gunner

CWG: Gunner William Reeves

Gunner William Reeves

William Reeves was born in the summer of 1896, one of eleven children to James and Ruth Reeves. James was a house painter from Henfield in West Sussex, and it was there that he and Ruth raised their growing family.

When war came to Europe, William was keen to play his part. He enlisted as a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and, by October 1915, was in France.

Little information survives about Gunner Reeves’ military service, but by the time he was demobbed, he had earned the Victory and British Medals, the 1915 Star and the Silver War Badge. The latter award was given to those servicemen who had been honourably discharged from service due to wounds or sickness.

William returned to Sussex, but to a quieter home, James having passed away in the spring of 1916. William was also suffering with his health. He had contracted tuberculosis while in the army, and this is the condition to which he finally succumbed. He passed away on 16th December 1919, aged just 23 years old.

William Reeves was laid to rest in Henfield Cemetery, within walking distance of his family home.


CWG: Gunner James Wing

Gunner James Wing

James Joseph Wing was born in Tonbridge, Kent, in the summer of 1876 and was the oldest of six children to Henry and Frances Wing. Henry was a labourer, but when he finished school, James found work as an errand boy for the post office.

This was not a long-term career, however, and by the time of the 1901 census, when James was 25, he was labouring for the railway. His mother had died in 1897, and Henry remarried, to a woman called Frances Stapley.

In the spring of 1902, James also married, to Sussex-born Mary Ann Goacher. The couple wed in Steyning, near Worthing, but settled in Henfield. James seemed to be picking up work where he could – the census of 1911 recorded him as a coal porter, but by the time he enlisted, in June 1916, he gave his trade as a gardener.

James joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner, and was initially assigned to the No. 1 Depot in Newhaven. Full details of his service are unclear, but he transferred to No. 2 Depot in Gosport, Hampshire, in the summer of 1918.

Gunner Wing had only been in Gosport for a couple of months, when he was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital in nearby Fratton. At 12:15pm on 4th December 1918, he passed away, a post mortem revealing he had succumbed to a cerebral tumour. He was 42 years of age.

James Joseph Wing was brought back to Sussex for burial. He was buried in the cemetery in his adopted home town of Henfield.


CWG: Gunner William Wellman

Gunner William Wellman

William Wellman was born in March 1890 and was one of nine children. His parents, road builder Thomas and collar machinist Eliza were both born in Somerset, and it was in Chard that they married and raised their family.

William and his siblings found work in the local lace industry – the 1911 census recorded most of the family in Chard, but William was boarding in Stapleford, Derbyshire, with his older brother Fred; both were working as lace hands.

War was coming to Europe, and, as a previous member of the territorial force of the Somerset Light Infantry, William was keen to play his part. In February 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery: his records show that he was 5ft 7ins (1.69m) tall, had light brown hair, grey eyes and a slender build, weighing 129lbs (58.5kgs).

Gunner Wellman was sent to Wiltshire for training but, while in barracks, he fell ill. Having contracted tuberculosis of the kidney, he was admitted to a hospital in Sutton Veny. After two months’ treatment, his health did not improve sufficiently enough, and he was discharged from the army on medical grounds in February 1916.

William returned to Chard, but was not to get any better. He passed away at home on 1st April 1916; he was just 26 years old.

William Wellman was laid to rest in the cemetery of his home town, not far from his brother, Private Arthur Wellman.


William and Arthur were not the only two of the siblings to fight in the Great War.

Their youngest brother, Private Bert Wellman fought with the Somerset Light Infantry, and died in fighting in Mesopotamia on 22nd November 1915. He was just 20 years of age.


CWG: Gunner Charles Hooper

Gunner Charles Hooper

Charles – known as Charlie – Hooper was born on 22nd August 1898, the second youngest of nine children to Sidney and Sarah Hooper. Sidney was a carter from the village of Chillington in Somerset, but it was in nearby Cudworth that the family were born and raised.

Charlie, attended the local school like his older siblings, joining on 2nd June 1902, and remaining there until 28th August 1911. The following month his older sister died, and the next year his mother also passed away.

War was coming to Europe, and, while Charlie was too young to enlist when it first broke out, he seemed keen to play his part as early on as he could. He enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery at the start of 1917, and was assigned to the 23rd Reserve Battery.

Gunner Hooper was sent to Wiltshire for training. The next record for him is that of his passing. He died in Salisbury on 29th April 1917, the cause unrecorded. He was just 18 years of age.

Charlie Hooper’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church in his home village, Cudworth.


CWG: Gunner Arthur Young

Gunner Arthur Young

Arthur William Young was born on 11th July 1900, in the Gloucestershire village of Charfield. His parents, James and Eliza, were both born in the area, and this is where they raised their nine children.

James worked as a bone turner and sawyer, working the material for things like buttons. This was a family trade, and something that Arthur followed his father and older siblings into when he finished school.

By this point, storm clouds were brewing over Europe. Arthur was too young to enlist when war first broke out, but when his older brother Francis died in Northern France in December 1917, this seemed to have driven him to play his part as well.

Arthur enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery on 1st July 1918, a couple of weeks before his eighteenth birthday. Assigned the rank of Private, his records show that he was 5ft 9ins (1.65m) tall, had blue eyes, brown hair and a fresh complexion. It was also noted that he had a scar on his right wrist and another on his forehead.

After nine months’ service, Arthur was promoted to Gunner and, by the autumn of 1919, he was assigned to the dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth.

On 1st December 1920, while moored in Portland Harbour, Dorset, a concert was held on HMS Warspite. Gunner Young attended, but on the trip back to his own ship, the boat he was on collided with another, and he and three others were knocked overboard and drowned. He was just 20 years of age.

Arthur William Young was brought back to Gloucestershire for burial. He was laid to rest in the family plot in the Congregational Chapelyard in his home village of Charfield.


CWG: Gunner Frederick Webber

Gunner Frederick Webber

Frederick James Webber was born on 6th July 1889, and was one of nine children to Charles and Mary Webber. Charles was a machinist and wheel turner from Wolborough, near Newton Abbot in Devon, and it was in the village that Frederick and his siblings were born and raised.

The year 1902 was to prove tragic for the Webber family as Mary and two of Frederick’s siblings – Charles, who was 16, and Olive, who was 11 – all died. While there is nothing to confirm causes of death, or whether the three were related, there was a smallpox outbreak in Devon at the time, so it seems likely that the family were drawn into the tragedy.

Charles remarried three years later, to local widow Mary Harper; the couple would go on to have two children of their own. Frederick, by this point, seemed keen to make his own way in the world, and found work on the railways. The 1911 census records him as lodging with the Batten family in Penzance, Cornwall, where he was earning a living as a carriage cleaner.

On 4th September 1915, Frederick married Hannah Mary Annear (née Williams). She was nine years older than him, and was a widow with three children. The couple set up home in Redruth, Cornwall, and may have married as, with war raging across Europe, Frederick was on the verge of being called up.

Full details of Frederick’s military service are not available, but it is clear that he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery at some point in early 1916. Assigned to his adopted home county of Cornwall, he nevertheless needed training, and, for this, he was sent to the B Battery of the 1st Anti-Aircraft Brigade in the North East.

It was while here, that Gunner Webber contracted endocarditis. He was admitted to the Jeffery Hall Hospital in Sunderland, but the condition got the better of him, and he passed away on 2nd October 1916, aged just 26 years old.

Frederick James Webber was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, where his father and family still lived.


CWG: Gunner William Withers

Gunner William Withers

William John Withers was born in the spring of 1883, in the Somerset town of Midsomer Norton. He was one of six children to William and Rose Withers. William Sr was a coal miner who went on to become a night bailiff, or caretaker, for the colliery. His son, however, sought different things, and, when he left school, he found work as a grocer’s assistant.

In the summer of 1909, William Jr married Florence Robbins, a miner’s daughter from Radstock. The couple went on to have son, Allan, in June 1913 but tragically it appears than Florence either died in childbirth, or shortly afterwards.

In the summer of 1914, war came to Europe; by the end of the following year, William enlisted, joining the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. His service records show that he stood 5ft 8.5ins (1.74m) tall, and weighted 147lbs (66.7kg). By this time he was working as a shop manager and, as a widower with a young son, it seems that, while he volunteered for service, he wasn’t formally mobilised for another year.

Gunner Withers was initially posted at the Citadel Fortress in Plymouth, but soon moved to Halton Park in Buckinghamshire. He spent time there training to be a Signaller, and in April 1918, he succeeded. That summer, he was posted overseas, serving as part of the 461st Siege Battery in France.

In March 1919, Signaller Withers returned to England. Details are a bit sketchy, but it seems that he was posted to Lincolnshire, and while there he fell ill. He was admitted to the Northern General Hospital in Lincoln with peritoneal adhesions; sadly these proved too much for his body to take; he passed away on 9th April 1919, at the age of 36 years old.

William John Withers’ body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in Radstock.


The exact spot of William’s burial is unknown. The grave in the image is of his father, who passed away in 1921. It is likely that William Sr was buried with his son.


CWG: Gunner Sidney Carey

Gunner Sidney Carey

Banfield Sidney Carey – who was also known by his middle name – was born in 1868 in Farmborough, Somerset. His father, Abel, was a wheelwright, and both he and Sidney’s mother, Hannah, came from the village.

Sadly, little of Sidney’s life remains documented. He married Janet Morgan in Blackburn, Lancashire, in the autumn of 1912; they had had a daughter, Dorcas, five years before, and Janet had another daughter, Viola, from a previous relationship.

War came to Europe and Sidney enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery as a Gunner (Wheeler), at some point before February 1918. By that year he was based at the regiment’s cadet school in St John’s Wood, London.

On 30th August Gunner Carey suffered a ruptured aneurysm and, despite being rushed to the nearby Hampstead Military Hospital, he died. He was 49 years old.

Sidney Carey was brought back to Somerset for burial in the family plot. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints’ Church in his home village of Farmborough.


CWG: Sapper William Merrifield

Sapper William Merrifield

William Henry Merrifield was born on 29th December 1893, in Newton Abbot, Devon. One of six children to Henry and Kezia Merrifield, his father was an agent for the removal company Pickford’s.

When William left school, he found work as a labourer for a local tannery. War was, by this time, on the horizon, and William soon found himself caught up in it. Full details of his military service are not available, but it is clear that he had a varied career.

William initially worked for the British Red Cross as a cook, and was sent to France in October 1914. He Subsequently joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner, before transferring across to the Royal Garrison Artillery. By June 1915, he had made the move again, and was recorded as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. During this time, he had been awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1914 and 1915 Stars for his war efforts.

By this point, William had seen a fair amount of tragedy in his life. Kezia had died in 1905, at the age of 44, and his sister Evelyn had passed away in 1914, aged just 25 years old. The following year, Henry also died, aged 52 years of age.

Sapper Merrifield survived the war and was demobbed in February 1919. At this point, his trail goes cold. He returned to Newton Abbot, and passed away just over a year later, on 22nd April 1920. He was 26 years old.

William Henry Merrifield was laid to rest in Newton Abbot Cemetery; his gravestone marked with the message ‘SO LONG MATEY “AU REVOIR”.


CWG: Gunner William Avenell

Gunner William Avenell

William Percy Avenell seems destined to remain lost to time, and there is little documentation about his life.

He was born in around 1891, and enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner in the summer of 1915, serving in France and earning the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star in the process. Gunner Avenell subsequently transferred to the 861st Employment Company of the Labour Corps.

William survived the war and returned to England. He had settled in the Somerset town of Frome (he may have been from the town, but there is nothing to evidence this) with his wife, Lily Beatrice.

Gunner Avenell’s passing is as lost in time as the rest of his life. He died on 22nd February 1920, at the age of just 29 years old.

William Percy Avenell lies at rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in Frome.