Tag Archives: Royal Field Artillery

CWG: Driver George Stockley

Driver George Stockley

George Stockley was born in December 1888, one of twelve children to Frank and Mary Ann Stockley. Frank was a clay cutter from Dorset, and he and his wife raised their family in the picturesque village of Corfe Castle.

When he left school, George found work as a house painter but it seemed this was not to be a career. In March 1913, he married Lillian May Stockley, who had been born in Frome, Somerset, but who was working as a barmaid in nearby Weymouth. Later that year, the couple had a daughter, Georgina, and, by the time he enlisted two years later, George was working as a barman, and the young family were living in Bournemouth.

George had joined up on 10th February 1915, and was assigned to the 3rd/6th Hampshire Battery of the Royal Field Artillery. His service records show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, but they also confirm that, when he had his medical examination on 30th May, he was deemed as medically unfit for military service.

Sadly, there is no further information to confirm why Driver Stockley’s military career was cut so short. His trail goes for a year, until, on 20th June 1916, he passed away, aged just 27 years old. The cause of his passing is also lost to time

George Stockley was laid to rest in the Old Church Cemetery in his home town of Corfe Castle.


George shares his grave with his youngest sibling, Albert William Stockley, who died in April 1920. The brothers are commemorated on the same headstone.


CWG: Gunner William Wellman

Gunner William Wellman

William Wellman was born in March 1890 and was one of nine children. His parents, road builder Thomas and collar machinist Eliza were both born in Somerset, and it was in Chard that they married and raised their family.

William and his siblings found work in the local lace industry – the 1911 census recorded most of the family in Chard, but William was boarding in Stapleford, Derbyshire, with his older brother Fred; both were working as lace hands.

War was coming to Europe, and, as a previous member of the territorial force of the Somerset Light Infantry, William was keen to play his part. In February 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery: his records show that he was 5ft 7ins (1.69m) tall, had light brown hair, grey eyes and a slender build, weighing 129lbs (58.5kgs).

Gunner Wellman was sent to Wiltshire for training but, while in barracks, he fell ill. Having contracted tuberculosis of the kidney, he was admitted to a hospital in Sutton Veny. After two months’ treatment, his health did not improve sufficiently enough, and he was discharged from the army on medical grounds in February 1916.

William returned to Chard, but was not to get any better. He passed away at home on 1st April 1916; he was just 26 years old.

William Wellman was laid to rest in the cemetery of his home town, not far from his brother, Private Arthur Wellman.


William and Arthur were not the only two of the siblings to fight in the Great War.

Their youngest brother, Private Bert Wellman fought with the Somerset Light Infantry, and died in fighting in Mesopotamia on 22nd November 1915. He was just 20 years of age.


CWG: Gunner Charles Hooper

Gunner Charles Hooper

Charles – known as Charlie – Hooper was born on 22nd August 1898, the second youngest of nine children to Sidney and Sarah Hooper. Sidney was a carter from the village of Chillington in Somerset, but it was in nearby Cudworth that the family were born and raised.

Charlie, attended the local school like his older siblings, joining on 2nd June 1902, and remaining there until 28th August 1911. The following month his older sister died, and the next year his mother also passed away.

War was coming to Europe, and, while Charlie was too young to enlist when it first broke out, he seemed keen to play his part as early on as he could. He enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery at the start of 1917, and was assigned to the 23rd Reserve Battery.

Gunner Hooper was sent to Wiltshire for training. The next record for him is that of his passing. He died in Salisbury on 29th April 1917, the cause unrecorded. He was just 18 years of age.

Charlie Hooper’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church in his home village, Cudworth.


CWG: Driver Lionel Shearn

Driver Lionel Shearn

Lionel Shearn was born in April 1895, one of twelve children to, and the youngest son of, Joseph and Emily Shearn. There were two main industries in Paulton, Somerset, where the Shearn family lived, and, over time, Joseph was employed in both. He began in the boot-making industry – this was his trade when Lionel was born – but, by the time of the 1911 census, he had found work as a coal miner. Lionel, who was sixteen by the time of that document, was also working at the colliery as a carter.

War came to Europe in the summer of 1914, and Lionel was one of the first in the town to enlist. Little documentation remains about his military service, but he joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Driver and, by October was in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Sadly, this is all the information that’s available, as Driver Shearn passed away in a hospital in Portsmouth on 27th October 1914. The cause of his passing is unknown, but there is nothing into the contemporary newspapers to suggest is was anything untoward. He was just 19 years of age.

Lionel Shearn was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the picturesque Paulton Cemetery.


Driver Lionel Shearn
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Gunner Sidney Carey

Gunner Sidney Carey

Banfield Sidney Carey – who was also known by his middle name – was born in 1868 in Farmborough, Somerset. His father, Abel, was a wheelwright, and both he and Sidney’s mother, Hannah, came from the village.

Sadly, little of Sidney’s life remains documented. He married Janet Morgan in Blackburn, Lancashire, in the autumn of 1912; they had had a daughter, Dorcas, five years before, and Janet had another daughter, Viola, from a previous relationship.

War came to Europe and Sidney enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery as a Gunner (Wheeler), at some point before February 1918. By that year he was based at the regiment’s cadet school in St John’s Wood, London.

On 30th August Gunner Carey suffered a ruptured aneurysm and, despite being rushed to the nearby Hampstead Military Hospital, he died. He was 49 years old.

Sidney Carey was brought back to Somerset for burial in the family plot. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints’ Church in his home village of Farmborough.


CWG: Bombardier Harold Cornall

Bombardier Harold Cornall

Harold William Cornall was born on 16th August 1890 in Kingsteignton, Devon. He was the oldest of six children to William and Elizabeth Cornall. William worked as a carter and labourer for a tannery in the town, and, when he left school, this was where Harold also went for work.

In the autumn of 1912, Harold married Hilda Potter, from nearby Newton Abbot. The couple set up home and went on to have one child, a daughter called Winifred.

War broke out and, on 29th August 1914, Harold enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. He was assigned to the A-Battery of the 90th (Howitzer) Brigade and was given the rank of Bombardier. He soon found himself in the thick of battle, as the brigade was sent to The Somme.

Bombardier Cornall was injured in the spine by some shrapnel, and medically evacuated to England in June 1916. Sadly, his injuries led to him becoming paralysed, and he passed away at the King George’s Hospital in London on 20th August 1916. He was just 26 years of age.

Harold William Cornall’s body was brought back to Devon; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Michael’s Church in his home town of Kingsteignton.


CWG: Bombardier Thomas Greenslade

Bombardier Thomas Greenslade

Thomas Greenslade was born in Alcombe, on the outskirts of Dunster in Somerset, in the spring of 1894 and was one of ten children. His parents were Devon-born cab proprietor Richard, and his wife Emma, who passed away in 1905, aged 38 years old.

When he left school, Thomas helped his father with his business; the 1911 census recorded him and his older brother Charles as drivers, his younger two sisters as housekeepers for their father, and his youngest two siblings as still being at school.

Storm clouds were approaching Europe and, in the summer of 1915, Thomas signed up to play his part for King and Country. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, and was assigned as a Bombardier to C Battery of the 74th Brigade. His troop was one of the Howitzer Brigades, and it seems likely that his knowledge of horses stood him in good stead.

Little information on Bombardier Greenslade’s military service survives. His regiment saw conflict at Loos, the 1916 Battles of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres, and it is likely that he was involved in these skirmishes.

What can be confirmed is that, by July 1917, Thomas was in the War Hospital in Bristol. The reason for his admission is unclear, but it led to his demise. Bombardier Greenslade passed away on 11th July 1917: he was just 23 years of age.

Thomas Greenslade’s body was brought back to Dunster. He was laid to rest in a quiet corner of the village’s cemetery.


CWG: Lieutenant Cecil Pearse

Lieutenant Cecil Pearse

Cecil George Lunell Pearse was born in the spring of 1883, one of seven children to George and Elizabeth Pearse. George was a schoolmaster from Devon, who moved the family to Weston-super-Mare in Somerset in the the 1870s to take up a post at the National School in the centre of the town.

Cecil and at least two of his siblings also went on to become teachers. By the time of the 1911 census, he was living in Plumstead, South East London, with his brother and sister-in-law, and teaching locally.

War was about to descend on Europe, and it is at this point that Cecil’s trail begins to go cold. He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery, serving as part of the 8th London Howitzer Brigade. During his time, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant, and it seems that he remained part of the Territorial Force, but there is little more information available about his time in the army.

Nor is there much detail around Lieutenant Pearse’s death. He passed away on 20th October 1918, at the age of 35 years old, through causes unrecorded.

Cecil George Lunell Pearse was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, the town of his birth.


CWG: Private Joseph Henry

Private Joseph Henry

A lot of Joseph Charles Henry’s life is lost to time, and the majority of the information available about him comes from the newspaper report of his funeral.

The funeral with military honours of Private Joseph Charles Henry, Military Medallist, took place at Holy Trinity Church on Saturday afternoon. The case was a very sad one.

Deceased was a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, and it was there that he won the Military Medal, in June of last year, but had been transferred to the Royal Fusiliers, and posted to the 30th London Regiment.

He was formerly employed as a miner in Lancashire, and married Lucy, daughter of Edward Reddick, of Coleford [Somerset]. In the clear out of the miners for the urgent needs at home he received his discharge on the 20th October, having ten days previously been handed the medal awarded him at the close of last year for bringing in wounded under heavy fire in June. He was very ill when he returned home on Sunday… and became rapidly worse, passing away on Wednesday. He was about 23 years of age.

His wife and two children were also lying seriously ill, and but for the kindness of friends and of the Salvation Army captain, it might have been even more distressing…

There is sad sequel to the death, Mrs Cullen, sister of Mrs Henry, having been bereaved in like manner by the death of her husband within the week.

Somerset Standard: Friday 1st November 1918

There are no documents to specifically connect Joseph to Lancashire, nor to give insight into his family. He died at home, from a combination of acute pneumonia, delirium and heart failure.

Joseph Charles Henry was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in Frome, Somerset.


Private Joseph Henry (from britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)

For Joseph’s widow, Lucy, this was further heartbreak to suffer. The two children mentioned in the article were, in fact, Joseph’s stepchildren; Lucy’s first husband, Charles Futcher, had died at Ypres in January 1916.


CWG: Sapper William Merrifield

Sapper William Merrifield

William Henry Merrifield was born on 29th December 1893, in Newton Abbot, Devon. One of six children to Henry and Kezia Merrifield, his father was an agent for the removal company Pickford’s.

When William left school, he found work as a labourer for a local tannery. War was, by this time, on the horizon, and William soon found himself caught up in it. Full details of his military service are not available, but it is clear that he had a varied career.

William initially worked for the British Red Cross as a cook, and was sent to France in October 1914. He Subsequently joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner, before transferring across to the Royal Garrison Artillery. By June 1915, he had made the move again, and was recorded as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. During this time, he had been awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1914 and 1915 Stars for his war efforts.

By this point, William had seen a fair amount of tragedy in his life. Kezia had died in 1905, at the age of 44, and his sister Evelyn had passed away in 1914, aged just 25 years old. The following year, Henry also died, aged 52 years of age.

Sapper Merrifield survived the war and was demobbed in February 1919. At this point, his trail goes cold. He returned to Newton Abbot, and passed away just over a year later, on 22nd April 1920. He was 26 years old.

William Henry Merrifield was laid to rest in Newton Abbot Cemetery; his gravestone marked with the message ‘SO LONG MATEY “AU REVOIR”.