Tag Archives: Mons

CWG: Serjeant John Ive

Serjeant John Ive

John Tucker Ive was born on 30th January 1882, one of eleven children to George and Emily Ive. George was a stone dresser from Harefield, Middlesex, and this is where the family were born and raised.

John was evidently after a life of adventure and, on leaving school, he enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. There is little documented about his military career, but he was based in Devonport and spent a couple of years in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

When he returned to England, John met Amy Ethel Staunton, from Stonehouse in Devon. The couple married in 1905 and went on to have a son, also called John, the following year.

When his military service came to an end, John found work as a butler, and he and Amy were employed by the same household. John Jr, meanwhile, was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Plymouth.

Global conflict was on the horizon, by now, and John soon felt the need to play his part once again. He rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and was given the rank of Serjeant. He was shipped to France in August 1914, where his battalion fought at Ypres and at Mons, and he was injured during both battles.

By the time the conflict ended, Serjeant Ive had transferred to the regiment’s Labour Corps; at the start of 1919, he was preparing to be discharged from the army, but contracted pneumonia. Admitted to the Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Hampshire, the lung condition sadly got the better of him: he passed away on 24th February 1919, at the age of 37 years old.

John Tucker Ive was brought back to Devon for burial; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, Newton Abbot.


Two of John’s brothers also died in the conflict.

Private George Robert Ive served with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He died at Gallipoli on 28th June 1915, at the age of 34 years old.

Gunner Edward Ive served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He died in the Persian Gulf on 1st May 1916, aged just 30 years old.


CWG: Private Roland Roberts

Private Roland Roberts

Roland Roberts was born in September 1896, one of three children – all boys – to Albert and Minnie Roberts.

Minnie, who was originally from Yeovil, had married Walter Shury, a Londoner, in 1874, and the couple had six children together. Walter then went on to have four children with Alice Norwood, and the couple married in 1898. Minnie, meanwhile, had met Albert Roberts, who was from Dundalk in Ireland, and, while no marriage seems to be confirmed, the couple had three boys, including Roland. (It is pure speculation, but as Minnie’s maiden was also Roberts, this might have provided a good enough cover for any divorce or re-marriage.)

Albert had been a Band Sergeant in the 4th Hussars, and continued that passion by becoming a music teacher Travel was also definitely in his blood: the couple’s first child, Willie, was born in South London, Roland was born in Somerset, and his younger sibling, Glencoe, was born in Penzance, Cornwall. Albert’s musical success led him to become bandmaster for the Penzance Town Band. Sadly, it was not all positive for him; in 1901, Minnie passed away, and in the same year, Willie also died, at the tender age of six.

It was the military that drew Roland in, and, in 1910, aged just 14 years old, he enlisted in the Coldstream Guards. According to the following year’s census, he was stationed at the Ramillies Barracks in Aldershot, and held the rank of Boy.

Differing from the naval rank of the same name, lads of 14 or over could serve in any regiment as musicians, drummers, tailors, shoemakers, artificers or clerks, and all were ranked as boys. It seems likely, therefore, that his father’s enthusiasm for music served him well.

When war broke out, he was of fighting age, and, as part of the “Old Contemptibles”, he was involved in the Battle of Mons, the first major confrontation for the British Expeditionary Force.

During the war, Private Roberts took part in some of the most severe fighting on the Western Front, was wounded three times, as well as being gassed. He was also recommended for the DCM for gallantry in action.

He transferred to the Labour Corps, and spent time doing land work in Somerset. It was here that Roland met and married Gladys Pyne, whose family was from Bridgwater, and the couple tied the knot in March 1918.

Sadly, it was during this war service that Private Roberts contracted influenza and pneumonia and he passed away as his in-laws’ home on 10th November 1918, the day before the Armistice was signed. He was just 22 years old.

The local newspaper reported on Roland’s continued gallantry in its article on his funeral:

[Roland] held the medal of the Royal Humane Society for saving a woman’s life.

He was also the hero of an incident that occurred in Bridgwater a few weeks ago, when he succeeded in checking the career of an infuriated bull through pluckily catching the animal by its horns.

His disposition was always most cheerful, and although suffering from his [war] wounds a good deal, he never complained.

The Cornishman: Wednesday 27th November 1918

Roland Roberts lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his adopted home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.


CWG: Lance Corporal Stephen Reed

Lance Corporal Stephen Reed

Stephen Reed was born in August 1887, one of seven children to Stephen and Eliza Reed from Bridgwater, Somerset. Stephen Sr was a labourer, eventually working as a carter for the local council.

Stephen Jr sought bigger and better things, however. After initially working as a butcher, he enlisted in the army in January 1907. He served a term of three years in the Coldstream Guards, before being stood down to reserve status in 1910.

Stephen had by then, found his calling in life and joined the police force. Standing at 6ft 1in (1.84m) tall, he would have cut an imposing figure. By the time of the 1911 census, he was boarding at the barracks in Dorchester, where he was listed as a police constable.

In May 1913, Stephen, by now aged 25, married Emily Maud Bower, in their home town. By March of the following year, the young couple had settled back in Swanage, Dorset, and had had a child, Stephen George.

War was on the horizon, however, and Private Reed was re-mobilised in August 1914, finding himself overseas within weeks. He was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal, and, after a couple of years – including fighting at Mons and receiving a subsequent gunshot wound to his hand – was transferred to the Military Police Force.

In April 1918, Lance Corporal Reed contracted tuberculosis, and was ill enough to be evacuated back to England for treatment. He was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire, but passed away within a day of arriving. Sadly, his records show that a telegram was sent to Emily summoning her to the hospital, but, as this was dated the same day he passed away, it seems unlikely that she would have arrived in time.

Lance Corporal Reed died on 27th April 1918. He was 31 years old.

Stephen Reed lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater.


A sad addition to Stephen’s military records is a latter to his widow in September 1918, asking for acknowledgement of receipt of his belongings. The items in question boiled down to: pair of braces; button stick; shaving brush; 2 boot brushes; comb; pipe lighter; handkerchief; pocket knife; safety razor; towel; flannel vest; waistcoat; identity disc; wrist strap; pair of scissors; tie clip; mirror; pipe; cigarette holder; 4 cap badges; card case; wallet and photos; wallet and correspondence; cigarette care; cigarettes; tobacco.

We can assume that these items – especially the photographs and correspondence – gave some level of comfort to Emily, but seeing her late husband’s life summed up in a bagful of belongings must also have been heart-breaking.