Tag Archives: influenza

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 Percy White

Private Percy White

Percy White was born in the spring of 1890, the youngest of four children to Frank and Fanny White. Frank was a tailor from Frome, Somerset, and this is where the family were raised and settled for most of Percy’s life.

By the time of the 1911 census, Frank and Fanny had been married for 30 years. Frank was still working as a tailor, while Percy’s three older siblings – all girls – were working as silk weavers and packers. Percy had moved away from the family’s clothing heritage, and had found work as a hairdresser.

War was on the horizon, however, and Percy was called upon to do his duty for King and Country. He was initially assigned as a Private to the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) when he joined up in the autumn of 1914. Full details of his military service are not readily available, but it seems that he served on the Front Line in France, but was invalided out late in 1917.

By that point, he had met Bessie Cundick, who had been born in Wiltshire. They married in Andover in the spring of 1916, when they were both 26 years old.

Back in England, and discharged from the King’s (Liverpool Regiment), Percy was transferred to the Labour Corps and, for the last year of the war had done agricultural work in Cambridgeshire. After the armistice was signed, Frank fell ill and died on 4th February 1919.

Private White attended the funeral at the Vallis Road Cemetery in Frome with his family, before returning to his unit. By this point, however, he had himself fallen ill with influenza, and was admitted to the East General Hospital in Cambridge. The condition was to prove too much, however, and he passed away on 16th March, less than six weeks after his father’s death. He was just 29 years of age.

Percy’s body was brought back to Frome; he too was laid to rest in the Dissenters’ Cemetery in Vallis Road, Frome.

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: Gunner Percy Gast


Percy Cyril Edward Gast was born in the West Sussex village of Nutbourne in 1889. His parents were William and Eliza Gast and he was one of sixteen children, seven of whom survived.

William was an agricultural labourer, and farming was the line of work the whole family went into; by the time of the 1911 census, they had moved to Rustington, near Worthing, where Percy was working as a cowman.

When war broke out, Percy enlisted, joining the Royal Garrison Artillery. His skillset soon identified, he was transferred over to the 696th Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps.

While full details of his time in the army are not readily available, Private Gast served his time on home soil. Towards the end of the war he contracted influenza and pneumonia and was admitted to the Mile End Military Hospital in Newham, East London.

Sadly, the lung conditions were to prove his undoing; Private Gast passed away on 20th November 1918, at the age of just 29 years old.

Percy Cyril Edward Gast’s body was brought back to Rustington for burial. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in the Sussex village.

CWG: Stoker Cornelius O’Brien

Stoker Cornelius O’Brien

Documentation on the early life of Cornelius Edward O’Brien is pretty scarce, so it is impossible to build a picture of him before the First World War. He was born in the late 1890s in Whitechapel, East London and was working as a carman when he received his enlistment papers.

Cornelius joined the Royal Navy as a stoker on 27th November 1915 and was sent to HMS Vivid II, the shore-based establishment in Devonport that served as the Stokers and Engine Room Artificers School. He trained there for a couple of months before being assigned to HMS Drake, where he spent most of 1916.

Returning to Devonport, Stoker O’Brien spent a further year on board HMS Vivid II, gaining the rank of Stoker 1st Class. By the end of 1917, however, he was back at sea, having been sent to HMS Vixen, a naval destroyer that served in the Thames Estuary, performing anti-submarine patrols and counter mining operations there.

In mid-November 1918, with the war officially over, Cornelius was admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, suffering from influenza, pneumonia and pleurisy. Sadly these were to prove too much of a challenge for him and he passed away on 21st November 1918.

Cornelius Edward O’Brien was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, not far from the Naval Dockyard in Chatham.

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: Serjeant George Carpenter

Serjeant George Carpenter

George Palmer Carpenter was born in Worthing, West Sussex, in 1881, one of fourteen children to James and Elizabeth Carpenter. James ran the Steyne Hotel on the seafront, and sent his boys off to the Lucton Boarding School in Henfield for their education.

A regimented life seems to have suited George. When he left school, he enlisted in army, joining the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. The 1901 census found him billeted at the Elphinstone Barracks in Portsmouth.

Sadly, there is little further documentation on the life of Sapper Carpenter. He served through to and during the Great War, attaining the rank of Serjeant. He was sent to France in May 1915, though there is little to confirm his role there, or how long he stayed.

Serjeant Carpenter was subsequently attached to G Depot Company of the Royal Engineers, which received men returned from Expeditionary Force and also men enlisted for Tunnelling Companies, Special Companies and other specialist units. By this time – presumably later on in the conflict – he was based back in England, at the regiment’s barracks in Chatham, Kent.

When the war came to a close, George continued with his army career. With conflict in Europe coming end, he was shipped to Singapore in 1917, where he served through to 1920. A Sussex newspaper picked up his story from there:

Much sympathy will be extended to Mrs Carpenter and her family, of the Steyne Hotel, consequent upon the death of Sergeant George Carpenter, of the Royal Engineers, another of our Worthing boys whose life has been laid down in his country’s service. He arrived home in a bad state of health on the 25th of February last from Singapore, where he had been on duty for three years. Suffering from gastric influenza, it was found necessary that he should undergo an operation, which was carried out at midnight on Saturday. But he sank from weakness, and died at half-past eight on Sunday morning. This is the second son of whom Mrs Carpenter has been bereaved within a year, and there is pathos in the words addressed to us by her: “I have again the sorrowful task of sending the news of the death of one of my sons this morning.

Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 24th March 1920

George Palmer Carpenter was 39 years old. He was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery of his home town, Worthing, in West Sussex.

The other brother referred to in the report was George’s younger brother Norman.

He had emigrated to Canada in 1906, but returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when war broke out. Wounded in battle in May 1917, he returned to the UK for treatment and recuperation, and remained on home soil for the rest of the war.

In the spring of 1919, he was admitted to hospital with pleurisy and anaemia, and seems that he never fully recovered, succumbing to the conditions in August of that year. He was just 32 years old.

CWG: Private Bertie Bridger

Private Bertie Bridger

Bertie Charles Bridger was born in the summer of 1876, one of nine children to William and Anne. William was a carman for the railway, and the family lived close to the central station in Worthing.

When Bertie left school, he followed in his father’s trade and, by the time of the 1901 census, was working as a groom and carman alongside his father and older brother, Arthur.

Bertie came to the notice of the local court when, in February 1900 he was called up to the Petty Sessions. He was fined for ‘cruelly ill-treating a horse by working it into an unfit state’ [Sussex Agricultural Express: Friday 9th February 1900], and ordered to pay a total of 18 shillings.

In the spring of 1904, Bertie married Ethel Gray, a carpenter’s daughter from Essex, who had found employment as a parlour maid for a Worthing solicitor. The couple would go on to have two children, Bertie Jr, who as born in 1905, and Leonard, born seven years later.

By the time of the 1911 census, the young Bridger family were living near the main railway station in a two-up, two-down property, where Bertie Sr was still plying his trade as a carman at the station.

War was coming, however, and in the summer of 1915, Bertie enlisted in the Royal Defence Corps. He was assigned as a Private to the 452nd Protection Company and, while his exact duties remain unclear, it is likely that he would have been involved with horses at some level, given his experience.

Private Bridger’s service appears to have mainly been spent on home soil, although, towards the end of the conflict he was sent to Ireland. It was while he was there, that he came down with influenza, which then turned into pneumonia. He was admitted to the Military Hospital in Curragh, but he died of the conditions on 14th November 1918, three days after the Armistice was signed. He was 42 years old.

The body of Bertie Charles Bridger was brought back to Sussex, and he was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery to the north of Worthing. The local newspaper commented that:

Previous to his enlistment the deceased soldier was an outside porter at the Railway Station for nearly thirty years, and the sympathy of a wide circle of friends will be extended to his widow and two children.

Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 27th November 1918

Private Bertie Bridger (from Ancestry.com)

CWG: Corporal Henry Forrest

Corporal Henry Forrest

Henry Charles Forrest was born in Bromley, Kent, in the summer of 1893. The youngest of eight children to William and Wilhelmina Forrest, Henry’s father was a police sergeant, who retired not long after his youngest son’s birth, moving his family to Worthing in West Sussex.

Henry was obviously a bright lad; the 1911 census records him as a student teacher. The only one of William and Wilhelmina’s children still living at home, he was, by this point, still just 17 years old. His career continued over the next few years, and he taught at the Ham Road Schools in Worthing.

In the spring of 1916, Henry married Constance Robertson. The young couple had a lot in common and seemed like a perfect match. Constance was the daughter of a retired police constable, and was also a student teacher.

War, by this time, had come to Europe. Full details of Henry’s military service are not available, but it seems that he initially joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Private Forrest was promoted to the rank of Corporal, and subsequently transferred to the Army Cycling Corps, serving in France.

As the war moved on, Corporal Forrest was released to resume his teaching back in Worthing but, in the autumn of 1918, he contracted influenza and pneumonia. The conditions got the better of him, and he passed away on 5th December 1918, at the age of just 25 years old.

Henry Charles Forrest was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing; sadly, it seems that Constance was unable to attend – she was represented at the ceremony by her mother.

CWG: Gunner Fred Ford

Gunner Fred Ford

Fred Ford was born in the Wiltshire town of Mere in 1877. One of eight children to John and Charlotte, his father was an agricultural labourer from the village.

When he left school, Fred initially found work as an errand boy; he soon moved into labouring and, by the time of the 1901 census, was employed as a bricklayer.

In 1904, Fred married Florence Phillips; she was the daughter of an agricultural labour from Somerset. Fred, by this time, had found work as a coal miner in the county, and the young couple set up home in the village of Babington, near Frome. They went on to have four children.

Conflict was on the horizon and, while full details of his military service are not available, it’s clear that he enlisted as soon as he was able to, almost as was was declared. Gunner Ford joined the Royal Field Artillery, and was assigned to the 108th Brigade of the regiment’s Ammunition Corps.

Initially based in Taunton, Fred was soon moved to Portsmouth and then Worthing, and it was here, in the first winter of the war, that he contracted influenza and pneumonia. Admitted to St Cecil’s Red Cross Military Hospital in the Sussex town, sadly the condition proved too much for him. He passed away on 8th February 1915, tragically hours before Florence arrived from Somerset. Gunner Ford was just 37 years old.

Finances not enabling her to transport his remains back home, Florence Ford laid Fred’s body to rest in Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing, the town where he died.