Tag Archives: North Somerset Yeomanry

CWG: Private William Small

Private William Small

William Charles Small was born towards the end of 1896 in the Somerset town of Midsomer Norton. He was one of six children to coal hewer William George Small and his wife Margaret.

When he left school, William worked for the Co-op store in nearby Radstock, but when war came, he was keen to play his part. His service records are lost to time, but the local newspaper’s report on his funeral in 1919 sheds light on Private Small’s army career:

…he joined the army in May 1915, then being only 18 years of age. He joined the North Somerset Yeomanry and went to France on active service in September the same year, being sent straight to Belgium. There being a shortage of machine gunners, he was transferred to the [Machine Gun Corps], in the 3rd Cavalry Division.

He fought at Peronne, at Cambrai, Arras and Verdun, and other places. His regiment were commended by its General for their bravery in holding back the Germans. He first had leave after one year and eight months’ service in France, and another in August 1918.

He was in the Third Army which stemmed the German attack when they attempted to break through, and fought night and day till they succeeded in holding the enemy back. He had many narrow escapes while in battle, but came through without a scratch.

He was demobilised in January 1919, and was discharged A1, but the strain of 3 years and 6 months of active service proved too much and his health entirely broke down, and he was not able to follow his employment at all. His case was taken up by the military two months ago, and he was sent to Bath War Hospital, where he never recovered from the sever strain…

Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 7th November 1919

Private William Small died in the hospital on 25th October 1919, at the age of just 22 years of age. His body was brought back to Midsomer Norton for burial and he was laid to rest in the family plot there.

Private William Small
(from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

CWG: Captain John Jackson-Barstow

Captain John Jackson-Barstow

John Eric Jackson-Barstow was born on 10th August 1895, and was one of seven children – and the only boy – to John and Mary Jackson-Barstow. John Sr was a Justice of the Peace from Yorkshire, who had moved his family to Somerset in the early 1890s; this is where John Jr and his sisters were born.

When war broke out, John Jr enlisted as a Trooper in the North Somerset Yeomanry and, by the autumn of 1914, he was moved to France.

On the outskirts of Ypres, his regiment were involved in a prolonged attack by German forces and Trooper Jackson-Barstow was injured. Medically evacuated to England, he received a commission and was given the role of aide-de-camp to a general based on the East Coast.

In 1917, Captain Jackson-Barstow transferred to the Royal Flying Corps – later moving to the newly-formed Royal Air Force. Over the following months, he regularly flew sorties across France and did extensive piloting in English skies.

Captain Jackson-Barstow continued in his role when the Armistice was signed. On 27th January 1919, he was flying in Surrey; it was snowing heavily, which limited what he could see. Flying low, he crashed into a hill near Oxted, and was killed instantly. He was just 23 years of age.

John Eric Jackson-Barstow’s body was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the family grave in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare.

Captain John Jackson-Barstow
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Private Bert Mayled

Private Bert Mayled

Bert Mayled was born in the autumn of 1889, the fourth of four children – all boys – to Benjamin and Anna Mayled. Benjamin was a butcher from Somerset, who raised his young family in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare.

The whole family followed in Benjamin’s trade, with all four siblings supporting in one way or another, either through farm work or, in Bert’s case, becoming a butcher as well.

On 6th July 1914, Bert married Catherine Swearse, a builder’s daughter from nearby Axbridge. They married in Catherine’s local church, but settled – albeit briefly – back on the coast.

Bert may even had enlisted by the time of the wedding. While he is noted as a butcher on the marriage banns, within weeks war had broken out across Europe, and he found himself in the North Somerset Yeomanry.

Private Mayled’s regiment was one of the first into the fray – he was soon on the Front Line at Ypres. He was wounded early on, and medically evacuated to England for treatment. Admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester, he succumbed to tetanus, contracted from his wounds. He died on 25th November 1914, at just 25 years of age.

Bert Mayled was brought back to Somerset for burial He lies at rest int he Milton Road Cemetery there.

CWG: Captain Hugh Brooking

Captain Hugh Brooking

Hugh Cyril Arthur Brooking was born on 15th September 1870 and was one of six children (although he also had three further half-siblings through his father’s first marriage). His father, Arthur Brooking, was the vicar of the Hertfordshire village of Bovingdon, and it was in the vicarage that he and his wife Marian raised their family (with the help of seven servants).

Hugh led a life befitting of a reverend’s son; he was educated at St Mark’s School in Windsor, Lancing College and Down College, both in Sussex. He continued his studies at the Mining College in London (now part of Imperial College London), and went out to South Africa to further that work.

The local newspaper reporting on his funeral takes up the story:

When the Boer War broke out he joined the Imperial Light Horse, and was engaged in the battles of Elandslaagte, Wagon Hill and others, was in Ladysmith during the siege, and the relief of Mafeking. He was several times mentioned in despatches, and obtained the Queen’s medal and six clasps, and the King’s medal with two clasps. He then joined the South African Constabulary, under General Baden Powell.

He had previously held a commission in the North Somerset Yeomanry, and after leaving it for a short time he re-joined a soon as the [First World War] was declared, and was in France with his regiment when it made its famous stand against the Prussian Guards. All his superior officers were killed or wounded, and he was temporarily in command of the regiment.

He received the ribbon of the 1914 Star of Mons, but did not live to get the star. He served with the regiment 20 years. He was latterly attached to the Labour Corps at West Ham.

Captain Brooking came to Frome with his parents as a boy. In his youth he was a thorough sportsman, well known in the hunting field, genial and kindly, ready with a pleasant word, and courteous to all, he won friendly appreciation from all classes of townsfolk.

He had seen a great deal of fighting, though from exposure and other causes his health suffered, and he was employed on home service.

He was in command of the 371st Labour Company, and second in command of his battalion, when he met with the slight accident which led to his death. He grazed his knuckles, causing bleeding, but of so slight a character that no notice was taken of it. A few hours later he again struck his hand ,and fresh paint appears to have affected the wound, and blood poisoning supervened.

Somerset Standard: Friday 7th June 1918.

In his personal life, Hugh had met and married Florence Day, a farmer’s daughter seventeen years his junior from Somerset. The wedding was in the autumn of 1912, and they would go on to have two children, Granville and Hugh Jr. The boys would both go on to lead distinguished lives, Granville in the armed forces and Hugh as a ‘King’s Messenger’ in South America.

Following Captain Brooking’s injury, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Purfleet but the treatment he received there was to do no good. Three months after the accident, on 31st May 1918, he passed away; he was 47 years of age.

Hugh Cyril Arthur Brooking’s body was taken back to Frome; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church in the town.

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Captain Hugh Brooking
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Lieutenant Stanley Russ

Lieutenant Stanley Russ

Stanley Hugh Russ was born in 1888, the youngest of five children to Alfred and Elizabeth. The family lived in Wells, Somerset, where Alfred worked as Clerk to the Guardians of the local workhouse. They were doing well for themselves, as they had two domestic servants at the time of the 1891 census.

Stanley seems to have been a studious young man, and by 1911 was boarding in London, where he was a dental student.

Details of Stanley’s military service are scant, but he obviously did well at his job, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. The local newspaper gave a good overview of his life when reporting on his funeral:

The deceased gentleman was a dentist by profession, and served his apprenticeship with Mr Goddard of Wells. He afterwards went to London, where for some years he had been following his profession at Guy’s Hospital.

At the outbreak of was he joined the Middlesex Yeomanry as a trooper. He was later given a commission in the same regiment… After much service in France, he was, by reason of a physical disability incurred whilst on service, transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport).

He again went to France and was attached to the North Somerset Yeomanry. He was invalided home, but went out a third time, being attached to a Canadian Siege Battery. He took part in the great push around Arras and Vimy Ridge.

He returned to England in October 1918, suffering from heart trouble, severe shell shock, and slight gassing. He was discharged from hospital in January 1919 and demobilised in the following March.

His health gave way, and he was subsequently operated on by a Harley Street specialist. He derived little benefit, and was afterwards removed to a nursing home, where he died.

The deceased gentleman, who was unmarried, was of a very bright and happy disposition, and enjoyed a wide circle of friends.

Wells Journal: Friday 5th November 1920

Stanley Hugh Russ died on 28th October 1920. He was 32 years old. He lies at rest in the cemetery of his home city of Wells.

CWG: Private Thomas Moody

Private Moody

Thomas Edward Moody was born in 1890, the second of five children for Thomas and Emily.

By the start of the war, “Little Tommy Moody” was working with his father in the quarries around Shepton Mallet and was the eldest son living at home.

He joined the North Somerset Yeomanry and was shipped out to France, where he was badly injured. An article in the Shepton Mallet Journal, included after his funeral, says as much about the life of this young man as it does about the Edwardian approach to military matters.

DEATH AND FUNERAL OF A SOLDIER – The death has taken place of Thomas Edward Moody, son of Thomas Moody, of Stoney Stratton, Evercreech, at the age of 18, and who as a 1914 man, joined the North Somerset Yeomanry and went out to France. He was badly wounded, resulting in the loss of an eye, and after some time in hospital and a short leave at home, he was sent back to rejoin his regiment, the 3rd Reserve Cavalry, in France. This was about two years ago. He spent his last leave home at Christmas. After a time in hospital at Devonport, he was removed to Bath early last month, discharged from the army as incurable, and there he died on May 5th, the cause of death being consumption of the brain. The funeral, on Saturday afternoon last, was of military character. The corpse, brought from Bath the day before, was borne from the deceased’s home at Stratton on a hand bier, attended by a bearer party of eight men from Taunton Military Barracks, to the Parish Church, where the first portion of the service was taken. The Union Jack enshrouded the coffin, on and around which a number of floral tributes rested. Sixty members of the Evercreech Branch of the Comrades of the Great War, and a couple of marines, joined the funeral cortege at the home, and on leaving the Church lines up on either side, as the body of their dead comrade was borne hence on the shoulders of four of their number to the cemetery. The vicar, Rev. RY Bonsey, officiated. The Last Post was sounded by Bugler Tucker, of Shepton Mallet, and another bugler from Tauton Barracks. “Little Tommy Moody”, as he was familiarly called amongst his chums, was a conspicuous member of the Evercreech Football Club previous to the War.

Shepton Mallet Journal – 9th May 1919.

(It is interesting to know that the date of death in the article does not match that on the gravestone. I would be inclined to believe the latter.)

Private Moody was obviously a fighter and a strong character – returning to the front after losing an eye, some time in hospital and a short leave – and you can guarantee he was missed in the village.

Thomas Edward Moody lies at rest in the cemetery of his home Evercreech Cemetery.