Tag Archives: Royal Berkshire Regiment

CWG: Private Edward Welch

Private Edward Welch

Edward Welch was born in Chard, Somerset, at the start of 1899. His parents were Edward and Sarah and he was one of five children, although he also had three half-siblings from Sarah’s previous marriage.

Edward Sr was a gardener who passed away in 1910, leaving Sarah a widow for a second time. She was already working as a lace maker, and this was a trade that Edward Jr’s older siblings also followed.

War was coming to Europe and, while he was too young to enlist when it was first declared, Edward was keen to play his part when he could. He enlisted in the Royal Berkshire Regiment at some point after October 1916, and was assigned to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion. Private Welch was part of the territorial force, and so did not see any action overseas.

There is little additional information about Private Welch’s life: all that can be confirmed is that he passed away “of disease” in hospital on 10th April 1917. He was just 18 years of age.

Edward Welch’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in Chard Cemetery, not far from his family home.


CWG: Private Mark Ford

Private Mark Ford

Mark Ford was born early in 1881 in Wellow, near Peasedown St John in Somerset. He was the youngest of eleven children, and the son of Thomas and Ellen Ford. Thomas was a coal miner, and this was a trade that his seven sons, including Mark, went into.

The 1901 census recorded Mark as boarding in a house in Abertillery, Monmouthshire, learning his trade. Within a few years, however, he was back in Peasedown St John. In the summer of 1910, he married local woman Emily Tucker and the couple set up home in Wellow, where then went on to have four children: George, Phyllis, Hubert and Ethel.

War was coming to Europe and, while records are scarce, it’s possible to build up a picture of the service Mark undertook. He initially enlisted as a Private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and was assigned to the 10th (Labour) Battalion. They were sent to France in June 1916, although it is not possible to confirm if Mark went at the same time.

His battalion became the 158th and 159th Labour Companies in April 1917, and it seems that Private Ford transferred to the former and, at this point, was definitely serving in France. That summer, he was wounded in the hip and head by an exploding shell and was medically evacuated to England for treatment.

Private Ford was admitted to the Military Hospital in York, where he lay injured for some time; long enough, thankfully, for Emily to make the journey to be with him. Sadly, his wounds were to prove too much: he passed away at the hospital on 28th October 1917, at the age of 36 years old.

Mark Ford’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial He was laid to rest in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, in Peasedown St John.


CWG: Private Lawrence Scott

Private Lawrence Scott

Lawrence Arthur Scott was born in the spring of 1889 in the Devon town of Kingsteignton. He was one of nine children to George and Louisa Scott. George was a lighterman – transporting clay and other goods on a barge. When his father passed away in 1905, Lawrence found work as a clay cutter, bringing in money to help support his mother. By the time of the 1911 census, he was on the only one of Louisa’s children to still be living at home, and was the main breadwinner.

In the spring of 1915, Lawrence married Elizabeth Webber in Newton Abbot. The young couple settled in Kingsteignton, and went on to have a son, Frederick, who was born the following year.

By now war had descended upon Europe. Lawrence enlisted, joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment in the summer of 1916. His service records confirm that he was 5ft 7in (1.7m) tall, had dark hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.

Private Scott arrived in France on 20th August 1916 and, over the next couple of years he served on the Western Front. In September 1917, he was transferred to the Labour Corps, but by now his health was suffering. On 22nd March 1918 he was admitted to a hospital in Rouen with bronchitis. He was transferred to a hospital back in England and, on 17th June 1918 he was formally discharged from the army, with arteriosclerosis.

Lawrence returned home, but his health was to get the better of him. He passed away from heart failure on 30th March 1919, aged just 30 years old.

Lawrence Arthur Scott was laid to rest in a family plot in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church, Kingsteignton. Elizabeth was finally reunited with her husband 67 years later and was buried with him.


CWG: Private Arthur Foote

Private Arthur Foote

Arthur Thomas Foote was born on 18th June 1880 in the Dorset town of Sherborne. One of three children to Jane Foot, his mother married widower James Rose in 1887, giving Arthur a half-sibling. James passed away in 1889, and Jane married another widower – Albin Pitman – and Arthur had a further six siblings and half-siblings.

By this point, the family had moved to Somerset, settling in Compton Pauncefoot. The 1901 census recorded Arthur as having left the family home and he was boarding in nearby Holton. He had, by this time, found work as a carter.

Arthur had met Agnes Wetherall, a tailor’s daughter from the village of Baltonsborough. The couple married in Wells in April 1902, and set up home in nearby Glastonbury. They went on to have two children – Robert, who had been born in 1898, and Lillian, who was born in 1902 – and Arthur continued working as a carter for a miller.

When was broke out, both Arthur enlisted. While full details of his service are not available he joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment as a Private, and was assigned to their Labour Corps.

Robert had also enlisted early on in the war. He joined the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and was killed in fighting in Norther France in September 1916. He was awarded the Mons Star, and is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval.

Arthur survived the war, and returned home in early 1919. He quickly came down with pneumonia, and passed away within a week of his return, on 11th February 1919. He was 38 years old.

Arthur Thomas Foote was laid to rest at the top of Glastonbury Cemetery, walking distance from the family home.


CWG: Pioneer Charles Churchill

Pioneer Charles Churchill

Charles Churchill was born towards the end of 1883, in the Somerset village of West Chinnock. One of six children, his parents were Isaac Churchill and his wife Elizabeth. Isaac was an agricultural labourer, and the family lived in a cottage on Eastfield Farm, where he worked.

When he left school, Charles also found work on the farm. He knew the owners well and, in 1909, married their servant, Ellen Mary Young, in the parish church. The couple moved in with Ellen’s widowed mother, Harriet, and went on to have two children, Florence, born in 1909, and George, who was born three years later.

By this time war was on the horizon. Full details of his military service are not available, but it appears that Charles initially enlisted in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He subsequently transferred to the Labour Corps, before being reassigned again to the Royal Engineers.

There are no dates available for the transfers, so it’s impossible to know how quickly they took place. Charles’ record shows that he was awarded the Victory and British Medals while in the Royal Engineers, however, so it is likely that he spent most of his time in this regiment.

The medal record also confirms that Pioneer Churchill did not serve in a theatre of war, so would have spent his time on home soil.

Sadly, this is where information on Charles seems to dry up. He survived the war, but contracted pneumonia late in 1919 and passed away on Christmas Day that year. He was just 36 years of age.

Charles Churchill was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in his home village of West Chinnock, the place where he and Ellen had been married ten years earlier.


CWG: Private Frederick Ashton

Private Frederick Ashton

Frederick John Ashton was born in Taunton, Somerset, in 1892. He was one of eight children to scavenger and labourer Thomas Ashton and his wife Susanna.

When he left school, Frederick found work as a carter, and this is the job he was doing in 1913, when he married local woman Ethel May Lock. The young couple went on to have two children, Olive and Phyllis.

War was on the horizon, and Frederick enlisted in June 1916. Initially assigned to the Royal Berkshire Regiment, Private Ashton was shipped off to France within a couple of months.

During his time there, he was promoted to Lance Corporal, but requested being reverted back to his previous rank a few months later. By this point, he had been transferred to the Labour Corps, the regiment in which he served for the rest of his time.

In March 1918, Frederick was badly wounded, and found himself invalided back to England. He was admitted to the Northumberland War Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where his right leg was amputated. Sadly, it appears that the treatment came too late, and Private Ashton passed away on 27th August 1918. He was just 26 years old.

Frederick John Ashton lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in his home town of Taunton.


CWG: Serjeant Ernest Stelling

Serjeant Ernest Stelling

Ernest Leonard Stelling was born in the summer of 1881, the oldest of six children to Charles and Bertha Stelling. Charles was a tailor from London, and while Ernest was born in Suffolk, by the time of the 1891 census, the family had settled in Reading, Berkshire.

Ernest followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a tailor and cutter in his own right. He met a woman from Reading called Lettie Eliza Mazey, and the couple married in 1904. The couple set up home with Lettie’s brother and his family in Tilehurst, but didn’t go on to have any children themselves.

Details of Ernest’s military service are a bit scarce. He initially enlisted in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, but quickly moved to the Somerset Light Infantry in the early stages of the First World War.

Sadly, no formal documents of Ernest’s time in the army are available, but a local newspaper gave a good insight into his Somerset service.

Death of a Master Tailor

After an illness of only seven days, the death took place at the military hospital on Monday afternoon of Sergeant EL Stelling, who has been master tailor of the Depot for the past two years. The cause of death was pneumonia, and the loss of so popular a member of the Depot staff is deeply regretted by all ranks.

Sergeant Stelling, who was 37 years of age, came to the Somersets from the Royal Berkshire Regiment, and succeeded the late Sergeant-Master-Tailor Chambers. He was a native of Reading, and one of four brothers serving their King and country. His father, Mr Charles Stelling, for many years carried on business as a master tailor in Reading.

Since he had been at Taunton barracks, Sergeant Stelling had made many friends, and actively identified himself with the social life of the sergeants’ mess, taking a prominent part in the arrangement of concerts, etc.

He was of a bright, generous disposition, and before his illness he was making a collection at the Depot on behalf of the Buffaloes’ Christmas treat to poor children of the town. He was a valued member of the local Lodge of the Royal Order of Buffaloes, and his death is greatly regretted by all the brethren.

He leaves a widow but no family. Much sympathy is felt for Mrs Stelling, who has for some years been a confirmed invalid.

The funeral took place with full military honours at St Mary’s Cemetery on Friday afternoon.

Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser: Wednesday 27th December 1916

This gives a real insight into Ernest’s personal life. He was obviously very active socially, and committed to the community. Whether Lettie’s infirmity contributed to the couple’s lack of family will never be known, but, from his support of the poor children of Taunton, it seems evident that he would have been a good family man.

The next document relating to Serjeant Stelling is his pension record; this confirms the news article’s report that he contracted pneumonia and influenza, and he succumbed to the conditions on 18th December 1916. He had, in fact, just turned 38 years old.

Ernest Leonard Stelling lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in his wartime adopted home town of Taunton, Somerset.


Serjeant Ernest Stelling (from Ancestry.co.uk)