Tag Archives: illness

CWG: Guardsman Alfred Moist

Guardsman Alfred Moist

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.


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: Private Albert Gale

Private Albert Gale

Albert Gale was born in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton in October 1883, one of five children to John and Elizabeth Gale. It seems that Elizabeth may have died when Albert was young, as, by the time of the 1901 census, John was married to a Sarah Gale, and the family were living in the village of Hennock.

John was a clay cutter, and this was a trade into which Albert followed his father. Again, as time moves on, things change; the 1911 census found Albert boarding with his sister Sophy and her husband, fellow cutter Thomas Willcocks, back in Chudleigh Knighton.

War was coming to Europe and, in April 1916, Albert enlisted, joining the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. He would have cut a commanding figure; his enlistment papers show that he stood at 5ft 10ins (1.77m) tall.

Albert served on home soil. While attached to the Somerset Light Infantry, he was assigned to the 661st Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps, working in Kent and Sussex.

During this time, he received hospital treatment on four separate occasions: in August 1916, he was admitted with cellulitis of the arm; in December 1916 and January 1917, he was treated on two separate occasions for scabies. In November 1911, however, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex, as he was suffering from influenza. Sadly, this last condition was to worsen and, on 21st November 1918, Private Gale died, having subsequently contracted pneumonia. He was 35 years old.

Albert Gale’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. His brother-in-law Thomas had died the previous summer; his story can be found here. Albert was laid to rest in the grave next to his sister’s husband in the churchyard of St Paul’s in Chudleigh Knighton.


With Thomas dead, Sophy had been left a widow. Understandably bitter at what the war had taken from her, when she was asked if she wanted a memorial for her brother, she returned the form with the following statement: “I don’t require the plaque and scroll in memory of my dear brother; a piece of paper won’t keep me.”

CWG: Private John Clarke

Private John Clarke

John Clarke was born in Devon on 28th June 1881, the son of Edward and Mary Ann Clarke. Sadly, little documented information remains on his life, but from what does exist, a semblance of his life can be pieced together.

Edward and Mary Ann lived in the village of Ashcombe in their later years, although it seems that John had been born closer to Exeter. At some point before October 1915, he married local woman Rhoda; they did not go on to have any children.

When the First World War broke out, John was working as a farm labourer. He signed up, joining the 7th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. His enlistment papers confirm that he had already been volunteering for the 8th Battalion of the same regiment. They also note that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68cm) tall, weighed 140lbs (63.5kg) and, intriguingly, that he was of poor physical development.

Private Clarke’s time in the army was not destined to be a lengthy one. In January 1916, he was admitted to the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, suffering with neuralgia. A couple of months later, he was admitted again, this time with influenza.

Shortly afterwards John’s military service came to an end. He was dismissed as medically unfit due to a gastric ulcer; his final day in the army was 30th March 1916, and he had served for 175 days.

At this point, Private Clarke’s trail once again goes cold. He passed away on 3rd December 1918 – more than eighteen months after leaving the Devonshire Regiment – although there is no documentation to confirm the cause of his passing. He was 37 years of age.

John Clarke was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Nectan’s church in Ashcombe, Devon.


CWG: Able Seaman Hubert Banks

Able Seaman Hubert Banks

Hubert Philip Banks was born on 13th September 1896 in Tottenham, London and was one of eight children to Wilfrid and Mary Banks. Wilfrid was a gas engineer, but when he left school, Hubert found work as a clerk. By the time of the 1911 census, the family had moved to Edmonton.

Hubert had a sense of adventure, and wanted a career that reflected that. On 23rd September 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy; as he was underage at this point, he was given the role of Boy. Within a year he turned 18 and was formally given the rank of Ordinary Seaman.

After initial training at HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – he was assigned to HMS Cornwallis, a dreadnought class vessel that served in the Mediterranean. Hubert spent two years on Cornwallis, during which time he was promoted to Able Seaman.

Over the next few years, Hubert served on three more vessels – HMS Quernmore, HMS Agamemnon and HMS Europa. In between times, he was based back in Chatham before moving back to HMS Pembroke on a more permanent basis in July 1918.

It was while he was back in Kent that Hubert fell ill. He was admitted to the Naval Hospital in Chatham with pneumonia, and was to succumb to the lung condition on 30th October 1918. He was just 22 years of age.

Hubert Philip Banks was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the naval base he called home.


CWG: Greaser Humphrey Donoghue

Greaser Humphrey Donoghue

Humphrey Donoghue was born in Kerry, Southern Ireland, on 13th December 1859. He was the oldest of two siblings, boys to John and Mary Donoghue. John was a labourer who, by the time Humphrey’s younger brother was born, had moved the family to the village of Llantarnam in South Wales, presumably for work.

Humphrey seemed to be looking for adventure, and the trip across the Irish Sea may have been the spur for that. By the time of the 1891 census, he was recorded as being a Stoker on board HMS Tretis. This was a screw corvette ship which, on the day of the census, was plying the waters of the Pacific.

Sadly, full records of Humphrey’s life at sea are no longer available, so it’s not possible to track his progress over the following years. It would seem that he Stoker Donoghue persisted with his naval career, continuing through what would have been his initial twelve years’ service. Whether he had any breaks in that service is unknown, but he was certainly still serving – or had been called back into duty – by the time of the Great War. His gravestone confirms that was serving as a Greaser – maintaining the engines – on HMS Achtaeon.

The next available document for Humphrey is the record of his death. He passed away on 26th February 1917, at the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, Kent, having been admitted there with pneumonia. He was 57 years old.

Humphrey Donoghue was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, close to the Naval Dockyard where he may have been based.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Christopher Hickey

Stoker 1st Class Christopher Hickey

Christopher Hickey was born on Christmas Eve 1891, in Wicklow, Southern Ireland. Full details of his early life are not available, but his mother was called Mary and he had at least one sibling, a sister called Catherine.

When he left school, he worked as a gardener but, when the war broke out, he enlisted, joining the Royal Navy on 5th November 1915. His enlistment records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.67m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

Stoker 2nd Class Hickey received his initial training at HMS Pembroke, the shore establishment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. In February 1916, he was assigned to HMS Champion, a cruiser that, during his time on board, served as a flagship during the Battle of Jutland that summer.

Christopher returned to HMS Pembroke in November 1916, having been promoted to Stoker 1st Class. He served there until the following March, when he was admitted to the local Naval hospital with pyaemia (or sepsis). Sadly, this proved too much for his body to take and he died on 20th March 1917 at the age of 25 years old.

Christopher’s body was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the base at which he had served.


Interestingly, the Irish Memorial Records for the Great War confirm Christopher’s passing, but give the cause of death as ‘died of wounds’, although I have been unable to find anything else to corroborate this. It may be that sepsis set after he was wounded, but it is reasonable to assume that full details will remain lost to time.


CWG: Private John Lodge

Private John Lodge

John Thomas Inskip Lodge was born in Shefford, Bedfordshire, on 31st January 1899, one of seven children to John and Florence Lodge (née Inskip). When his son was young, John Sr worked as a bead lace manufacturer, but by the time of the 1911 census, he had become the manager of a steam laundry.

Florence, by this time, had passed away, and in November 1911, John Sr married again, to Florence Yarnell. The couple would go on to have four children, John Jr’s half-siblings.

By this time, war was on the horizon, and John was eager to leave his laundry job and volunteer. He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry on 4th September 1915, giving his date of birth as three years earlier in order to ensure he was accepted. His service record shows that he stood 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall, had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.

As a Private, John served with the Chatham Division of the regiment; he would have seen action in some of the key battles of the war, including at Gallipoli in 1915/16 and later on the Western Front. It was while he was fighting in France in September 1916 that he was injured, and he was medically evacuated back to England for treatment.

Private Lodge recovered, and served on in Chatham, Kent, where he was billeted at the naval barracks in the town. At the start of June 1917, he had some leave owing, and so visited his parents back in Bedfordshire. When he returned to Kent, he fell ill and was admitted to the Naval Hospital in the town. Sadly, John was not to recover; he passed away on 23rd June 1917, aged just 18 years old.

John Thomas Inskip Lodge was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, not far from the Chatham barracks at which he was based.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class James Duffy

Stoker 1st Class James Duffy

James Albert Duffy was born on 21st May 1888 in the town of Monaghan, Ireland. The son of Francis and Elizabeth Duffy, he was one of ten children. Francis was a policeman, but James took up plastering when he left school; by the time of the 1911 census, the family had left Monaghan and moved to Belfast.

War was coming, and James received his call up in March 1916. He joined the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class; his service record shows that he stood 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall and had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.

After two months’ training at HMS Pembroke in Chatham, Kent, Stoker Duffy was assigned to HMS Chatham, a cruiser that served in the Mediterranean. He spent eighteen months on board, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class for his service.

At the end of 1917, James returned to Chatham Dockyard. While there, he fell ill, and was admitted to the Naval Hospital in the town. Sadly, while in hospital he passed away, having suffered a cerebral abscess. He died on 29th January 1918, aged just 29 years old.

James Albert Duffy was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, not far from the dockyard at which he had been based.


CWG: Petty Officer 1st Class George Fawcett

Petty Officer 1st Class George Fawcett

George Fawcett was born on 3rd February 1873, one of ten children to John and Maria (or Mary). John was a stonemason who raised his family in Essex, and it was in Stratford that George and most of his siblings were born.

When George left school, he was drawn to a life of adventure. He joined the Royal Navy on 5th May 1888, and was first assigned the role of Boy, as he was under age. He was formally enlisted on 3rd February 1891 – his 18th birthday. He had, by this point, been serving on HMS Hotspur for nine months, and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman. His hard work must have held him in good stead, because he was promoted to Able Seamen just two months later.

Over the course of his initial twelve years’ service, Able Seaman Fawcett served on eight different ships, and continued to rise through the ranks. He mad made Leading Seaman by 1894 and Petty Officer 2nd Class five years later. By the time his first term of service had ended, he had been promoted again, this time to Petty Officer 1st Class.

George voluntarily renewed his service in 1903, and over the next few years, he served on a number of other vessels. His shore base was always HMS Pembroke, though, and his time at sea was interspersed with periods at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham.

Petty Officer Fawcett had been in the Royal Navy for 23 years by the time war was declared. He was still at sea in August 1914, but was transferred to a permanent shore role at the beginning of the following year. He spent three years fulfilling his duties at HMS Pembroke, but fell ill in the spring of 1918.

He was admitted to the Naval Hospital in Chatham with liver disease, and this was a condition he was not to recover from. Petty Officer Fawcett passed away on 12th April 1918, at the age of 45.

George Fawcett’s body was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, not far from the naval base at which he was based.