Tag Archives: Lincolnshire

CWG: Trimmer Gilbert McLoughlin

Trimmer Gilbert McLoughlin

Gilbert McLoughlin was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 19th August 1896, one of eight children to Charles and Isabella McLoughlin. Being a fishing port, it is likely that Charles was involved in the industry, and it is no surprise that Gilbert and his siblings followed suit.

When war came to Europe, his skills at sea led to him being brought into the Royal Naval Reserve, and indeed Gilbert joined up on 20th March 1916. His service records show that he stood 5ft 2.5ins (1.59m) tall, had brown eyes and a sallow complexion, and had tattoos on his left arm.

Trimmer McLoughlin was based at HMS Pekin, a shore establishment in Grimsby, from which he would have served on ships patrolling the Lincolnshire coast. He remained posted in his home town until the end of 1916, at which point he moved down the coast to HMS Ganges, the naval base in Ipswich.

Gilbert made a further move in July 1917, when he was posted to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly crowded that summer, and he was billeted in temporary accommodation set up in the barracks’ Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September, Chatham came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Trimmer McLoughlin was among those to be killed that night. He was just 20 years of age.

Gilbert McLoughlin was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.

Gilbert’s older brother Joseph McLoughlin was also a victim of the First World War. As the conflict began, he continued his work as a trawlerman, although the role of his ship – the Kilmarnock – now also included elements of mine location.

On the afternoon of the 22nd September 1914, the Kilmarnock left Grimsby on a routine trip. She was around thirty miles offshore when the captain spotted floating mines ahead.

The skipper put out a buoy to mark the position, and intended returning to port to report the matter to the Admiralty authorities, but seeing some naval vessels in the distance he made towards them instead with the object of reporting.

Whilst doing so an explosion occurred amidships, and the vessel was blown into two parts, which sank immediately.

The skipper was blown to pieces on the bridge and the chief engineer badly injured.

The naval vessels, attracted by the explosion, hurried to the spot, picked up the wounded engineer, mate, and one member of the crew.

Boston Guardian: Saturday 26th September 1914

Joseph was one of the six crewmen to be killed in the incident. He was just 19 years of age.

CWG: Stoker 1st Class Michael Brown

Stoker 1st Class Michael Brown

Michael Brown was born on 25th October 1891 in Kirkdale, Lancashire, one of four children to James and Julia Brown. James was a sailor who died when Michael was just a boy. While Julia tried to make ends meet by taking in washing, it must have worried her when her son then fell into a sea-going life when he left school.

Michael enlisted in the Royal Navy on 19th February 1910, by which time he was already a seaman in the merchant fleet. His service records show that he was 5ft 4.5ins (1.64m) tall, had bark brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. He also had a number of tattoos on his forearms, including a shamrock and a cross.

Recruited as a Stoker 2nd Class, Michael served on a number of vessels in the lead up to the outbreak of war, including the scout ship HMS Patrol, which served from Harwich Harbour, Essex. It was here that he gained promotion to Stoker 1st Class in February 1911.

When not at sea, Stoker Brown was based at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. When war broke out in 1914, however, he was in the middle of a three-year stint on board HMS St George, a cruiser that went on to guard the Humber Estuary on the east coast of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

By the spring of 1916, he was back in Chatham and from this point on, remained firmly on dry land, with assignments in Kent and at HMS Victory, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth, Hampshire. By the summer of 1917, though, Stoker Brown returned to HMS Pembroke once again.

The naval base was particularly busy and cramped at that point in the war, and temporary overflow accommodation was set up in the barracks’ Drill Hall. This is where Michael came to be billeted.

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. Stoker 1st Class Brown was among those to be killed. He was just 24 years of age.

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

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: Private Arthur Taylor

Private Arthur Taylor

Arthur Ernest Taylor was born at the end of 1892, the middle of three children to James and Sarah. James was a baker, and the family lived in Bruton, a small town in the west of Somerset.

Only one of James’ three sons followed him into the baking business; this was his youngest, Reginald. The oldest of the three brothers, Oatley, found employment in Wales as a miner. Arthur, on the other hand, stayed in Bruton, but found work as a cycle repairer when he left school.

In December 1913, Arthur married Gertrude James, the daughter of a local carpenter; the young couple went on to have a son, Gerald, the following year.

Sadly, little information about of Arthur’s military career survives. He enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps, although there is nothing to confirm exactly when he enrolled.

The next time Private Taylor appears in the records is a notice in the Western Gazette on 28th March 1919. The newspaper reports that he passed away in the Military Hospital in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Further documentation shows that he passed away on 13th March 1919, at the age of 27 years old. Sadly, there is no confirmation of the cause of his passing.

Arthur Ernest Taylor was brought back to Somerset, and his body lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in his home town of Bruton.

CWG: Private David Charles

Private David Charles

David Charles was born towards the end of 1893 and was one of eight children. His parents – David Sr and Elizabeth Charles – both came from Wales, and moved their young family to Kent in 1891. David Sr worked at a torpedo factory, and the move may have been determined by employment at the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent.

When he left school, David Jr found work at an ironmonger’s, but storm clouds were forming over Europe, and he was soon called up on to do his duty for King and country.

David Jr enlisted in July 1915, joining the 23rd Reserve Battalion. He transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in February 1917 and was posted to the Western Front a month later.

Private Charles was wounded in action on 7th October 1917, although the injury did not prevent him from returning to duty after three weeks’ rest. He was readmitted to hospital on 23rd November, eventually being transferred home on a hospital ship before Christmas.

On 11th January 1918, Private Charles was transferred to No. 5 Battalion in Grantham, where he was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal within a couple of months. Sickness dogged him, however, and he was eventually discharged from military service for medical reasons on 7th August 1920.

By this time, David had been admitted to Fort Pitt Hospital in Chatham with endocarditis – enlarged heart – and this is where he sadly passed away from the condition just a week after being discharged from the army. He died on 14th August 1920, at the age of 27 years old.

David Charles lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kant.

David seems not to have been originally commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I can find no record of why this might have been the case, but this was eventually rectified 10th February 2016, and his name was immediately added to the United Kingdom Book of Remembrance.

The United Kingdom Book of Remembrance commemorates United Kingdom casualties of the two World Wars who were not formerly recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The men and women remembered on it are recent additions to the list of war dead and are presently commemorated solely by their database record and register entry.

The register is maintained at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Head Office, Maidenhead, and the names remain recorded there until such time as The Commission has investigated the grave location details.

David’s grave was identified and a headstone now placed in its rightful position.

Private David Charles

CWG: Private Herbert Stevens

Private Herbert Stevens

Herbert Stevens was born in Lincolnshire in 1873. Little record of his early life remains, but his mother, Rachel, was born in Cambridgeshire.

Herbert had at least two siblings; Arthur was ten years older than him, and had been born in Liverpool. Alice, who was six years Herbert’s junior, was also born in Lincolnshire.

By the time of the 1891 census, Rachel had been widowed. She was living with her three children in Chatham, Kent, and working as a laundress. Arthur was a labourer in the Naval Dockyard, which may be what brought the family so far south. Herbert, aged 18 by this point, was a stable hand, while Alice was still at school. To help make ends meet, the family had also taken in two lodgers, Joan Kitteridge, who was a tailoress, and her daughter, two-year-old Florence.

On Christmas Day 1898, Herbert married Sarah Beed. Her father was a ship’s carpenter, based in the Dockyard, and the couple set up home in neighbouring Gillingham. The young couple went on to have seven children.

Herbert went on to become a labourer in the Dockyard, but then found employment for the local council, working as a carman, or carter (presumably his work in the stables and his affinity with horses stood him in good stead).

War was on the horizon, however. He enlisted in May 1915, enrolling in the Royal Army Service Corps, and gave his trade as a groom. Private Stevens was assigned to the Remount Depot in Romsey, Hampshire, where he would have been partly responsible for the provisioning of horses and mules to army units both in England and abroad.

Split across ten squadrons, at times there were as many as 4,000 horses and mules stables at the Romsey Remount Depot, so Herbert’s life would have been a busy one. It seems, however, to have been a strenuous life too an, on 23rd March 1918, after nearly three years’ service, Private Stevens died of heart failure. He was 45 years old.

Herbert Stevens lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in his adopted home of Gillingham, Kent.