Tag Archives: Serjeant

CWG: Serjeant Albert Woolcott

Serjeant Albert Woolcott

Albert John Woolcott was born in the spring of 1877 and was one of three children to Thomas and Mary. Thomas was a labourer for a spirit company, and both he and huis wife came from Chard in Somerset, which is where Albert and his siblings were born.

When he finished school, Albert was apprenticed to a local iron foundry and, by the time of the 1901 census, he was recorded as being a blacksmith in his own right.

By this point, Albert had met local woman Mary Pattimore: the couple married in the local church on Boxing Day 1901, and went on to have four children, all of them boys. Albert continued with his ironwork: the 1911 census records him as being the blacksmith at Chard’s Gifford Fox & Co.’s lace factory.

Albert played a keen role in the local volunteer movement for the Somerset Light Infantry. Through the town’s Constitutional Club he took an active role in its rifle range and was known to be a particularly skilled marksman. He also played in both the Volunteer Band and Chard’s Municipal Band.

When war came to Europe in August 1914, Albert was already billeted on Salisbury Plain as part of the volunteers, and was promoted to the rank of Serjeant. He was sent to India with his troop – the 5th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry – and remained there until April 1916.

By this point, Serjeant Woolcott was suffering from dorsal abscesses on his hands, and was evacuated back to England for treatment. Over the next nine months he was in and out of Netley Hospital on the outskirts of Southampton, where he had a number of operations to try and fix the problem.

Sadly, his treatment proved unsuccessful: Serjeant Woolcott passed away in the hospital on 19th January 1917, at the age of 39 years old.

Albert John Woolcott’s body was taken back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in his home town’s cemetery.


CWG: Serjeant Tom Harris

Serjeant Tom Harris

Thomas Harris – known as Tom – was born on 13th October 1876, the only son of Edmund and Mary Harris. Edmund was an agricultural labourer from the Somerset village of Seavington St Mary, and this is where Tom was born and raised.

Mary had married Edmund in the spring of 1876, but had been married before; she was widowed when her previous husband, Alfred Vickery, died ten years before. They had had seven children of their own, half-siblings to Tom.

Edmund died in the Wells Lunatic Asylum when Tom was only six years old. When he left school, he found work as a farm labourer, but sought bigger and better things, even though he was now the only one of Mary’s children still living at home.

Tom enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in January 1893, and soon found himself overseas. During his sixteen years’ service, he spent seven years in India and six months fighting in the Second Boer War. Corporal Harris seems to have had a sickly time of it, and while in India, was admitted to hospital a number of times for fever, ague and diarrhoea, as well as a bout of conjunctivitis.

When Tom’s contract came to an end in 1909, he returned to Britain, setting up home in Newport, South Wales, where he found work as a sheet weigher at the local steel works.

Mary died of senile decay and cardiac failure in May 1910. She was 74 years old, and sadly passed away in the Chard Workhouse, in similar circumstances to her late husband.

In October 1913, Tom married Ada Long in Chard. She was the daughter of a shopkeeper, and the couple set up home in South Wales, where Tom was still working.

War, by now, was closing in on Europe, and Tom wanted to use his previous experience to serve his country once again. He enlisted on 20th August 1914 in Newport, joining the Devonshire Regiment as a Private, although he was quickly promoted first to Corporal and then to Serjeant. His service records show that he was 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, had blue eyes, brown hair and a tattoo of a Spanish girl on his right forearm.

After a year on the Home Front, Serjeant Harris was sent to Egypt in September 1915. On the way out, he contracted a severe cold, which left him deaf in his left ear. He was also suffering from varicose veins, which left him in pain in his right leg. He was treated for both conditions, and put on light duties for three months.

In November 1916, Serjeant Harris was supporting a food convoy when it came under attack. Buried in sand and wounded, he was laid up in a hole for two days and nights before help came. He was initially treated for shell shock in the camp hospital, but was eventually evacuated to Britain for treatment.

The incident had put too much of a strain on Tom, and he was medically discharged from the army in April 1917. While his medical report confirmed that the general paralysis he was suffering from was a result of the attack, it also noted on six separate occasions that he had previously suffered from syphilis, suggesting this may also have been a contributing factor to his mental state.

Tom was discharged initially to an asylum in South Wales, before returning home to Ada. The couple were soon expecting a child, and a boy, Sidney, was born in February 1918. By that summer, however, Tom’s condition had worsened enough for him to be admitted back to the Whitchurch Military Hospital in Cardiff.

It was here that Tom passed away, dying from a combination of chronic phlebitis – an extension of the varicose veins he had previously complained of – and general paralysis on 8th August 1918. He was, by this point, 41 years of age.

Tom Harris was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest – finally at peace – in Chard Cemetery.


Serjeant Tom Harris
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Serjeant William Syms

Serjeant William Syms

William George Syms was born in in the spring of 1889, the oldest of two children to George and Rose Symes (both spellings are recorded). George was a postman from Devon, and the family were born and raised in Highweek, Newton Abbot.

When William left school, he followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a postman in his home town. Life was not without its ups and downs, however, and the 1911 census record him as an inpatient, convalescing from an unknown illness in Exmouth.

In the summer of 1913, William married Amelia Oliver, a gardener’s daughter, who also from Highweek.

When war broke out William was eager to play his part, and enlisted in the early months of the conflict, alongside a number of his colleagues. He joined the Royal Engineers, and was assigned to the 1st (Wessex) Division Signal Company. He was sent to France on 22nd December 1914 and was involved on the Front Line from early on.

By the spring of 1915, he was fighting at Ypres, and was badly injured, fracturing both legs and suffering from the effects of being gassed. Serjeant Syms – as he was by then ranked – was medically evacuated to England for treatment. He was admitted to the Auxiliary Military Hospital in Manchester, but died of his injuries on 12th May 1915. He was just 26 years old.

William George Syms’ body was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in his home town of Highweek. Tragically, he was never to see his son, also called William, who had been born just two months before.


CWG: Serjeant Frederick Flint

Serjeant Frederick Flint

Frederick Charles Flint was born in the summer of 1872 in Bath, Somerset. He was the oldest of seven children to tailor Frederick Flint and his wife, Mary Ann.

Tailoring, however, was not a career that Frederick Jr wanted to follow and, in November 1890, he enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Over his twelve years’ service, he was posted to India and South Africa, gaining clasps for the Punjab Frontier 1897-1898, Relief of Ladysmith, Tugela Heights, Orange Free State, Cape Colony, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and 1902 and the King’s South Africa Medal.

He returned to England in 1902, when he found employment as a postman back in Bath. He met Florence Novena Fishlock and the couple married at St Michael’s Church in Bath on 5th February 1905, before moving to nearby Radstock.

Frederick remained with the Post Office until the outbreak of war, when he again listed for duty, re-joining the Somerset Light Infantry. While he did not serve overseas, Serjeant Flint took on a training a mentoring role on Salisbury Plain. Suffering from tuberculosis, he was formally discharged from the army on medical ground in August 1915, and returned home.

The next few years proved challenging for Frederick, as his illness left him incapacitated. He was nursed through by Florence, but eventually his body could take no more. He succumbed to the condition on 28th March 1918, at the age of 45 years old.

Frederick Charles Flint was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Nicholas’ Church in Radstock. Florence passed away ten years after her husband; she was laid to rest in the same plot in the summer of 1928.


Serjeant Frederick Flint (from findagrave.com)

CWG: Serjeant Howard Parker

Serjeant Howard Parker

Howard Edward Parker was born in the summer of 1895 and was one of six children to Edward and Anna Parker. Edward was a tailor from Castle Cary, Somerset, and is was in his home town that he raised his young family. When he left school, Edward worked as his father’s clerk.

War was on the way, however, and Edward was keen to play his part. Unfortunately, details of his military service are limited, but from what little remains, it’s possible to piece some bits together.

Edward joined the Army Ordnance Corps at some point before June 1918. During his time in the army, he rose to the rank of Serjeant, but it is unclear whether he served on home soil or abroad.

The only other certain information is Serjeant Parker died in Southampton on 21st December 1918; the cause of his passing is unclear, and there is nothing in contemporary newspapers to suggest anything out of the ordinary. He was just 23 years of age.

Howard Edward Parker’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the family grave in Castle Cary Cemetery.


Serjeant Howard Parker
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Serjeant Charles Flower

Serjeant Charles Flower

Charles Franklin Flower was born in Walcot, Bath, at the end of 1879. The middle of five children, his parents were stonemason John Flower and his dressmaker wife, Elizabeth.

John died when his son was only eleven years old, and Elizabeth passed away just two years later, leaving Charles an orphan at just 13 years of age.

He disappears off the radar for a time, only reappearing again when, in the summer of 1895, he enlisted in the 13th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Charles’ service records show that he stood 5ft 7ins (1.69m) tall, weighed 121lbs (55kg) and had grey eyes, light brown hair and a fair complexion. He was also noted as having a tattooed ring on his left ring finger.

After eighteen months on home soil, Private Flower was sent out to the East Indies, where, apart from a short stint back in England, he spent the next twelve years. He was promoted to Lance Corporal in May 1898, but though his own volition, reverted to the rank of Private seven months later. Charles was destined for bigger things, though, and was again promoted to Lance Corporal in September 1900. Over the next few years, he received further promotions – to Corporal in September 1905 and Lance Serjeant eighteen months later.

In the autumn of 1908, Charles returned to home soil, but his military service continued. On 12th April 1909, he married Elizabeth Ann Wills, a gamekeeper’s daughter from Cannington, Somerset. They set up home in Portland, Dorset, where Charles was based, and went on to have a son, Herbert, a year after they married.

By 1910, Charles had again been promoted, and was now a Serjeant. In the next couple of years, the family moved from the Dorset coast to the Somerset town of Frome. Serjeant Flower’s service continued, but he remained on home soil, even when war broke out.

All was not well with Charles’ health, however, and by the summer of 1915, he was admitted to hospital. He was thin and anaemic, with an enlarged liver and an ‘enormously swollen’ spleen. This was discovered to be a malignant growth, and Serjeant Flower was discharged from military service on medical grounds on 20th December 1915. He had been in the Somerset Light Infantry for more than two decades.

Charles Franklin Flower was not to recover from his illness. He passed away at home on 27th February 1916, at the age of just 37 years old. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in Frome.


Serjeant Charles Flower
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Serjeant Bertie Moody

Serjeant Bertie Moody

Bertie Richard Moody was born in Warminster, Wiltshire in April 1885, one of ten children to Joshua and Mary Moody. Joshua was an navy pensioner, who was twenty years older than his wife, and they raised their family in a small house to the west of the town centre.

When he left school, Bertie found work labouring for a man with a traction engine, but, after his parents died – Mary in 1901 and Joshua two years later – he had more need of a trade. The army offered him a life of adventure, and so he enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. Full details of his military career are lost to time, but by the 1911 census, Private Moody was based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

War in Europe was looming, and Bertie’s regiment was called back home. By December 1914, however, he was on the front line in France, and, over the next couple of years, earned the Victory and British Medals, the 1915 Star and a promotion to Serjeant for his service.

As time wore on, it was evident that illness was playing a bigger part in Serjeant Moody’s life. He was suffering from diabetes, and the condition led to him being medically discharged from the army in October 1916. Bertie moved to Frome, Somerset, and found work as a labourer.

He still wanted to play his part, and after making something of a recovery, he tried to enlist again, this time in the Royal Air Force. They rejected Bertie because of his condition too, however, so his time in active service came to an end.

At this point, Bertie’s trail goes cold. He died in Frome on 13th December 1918, at the age of 33, and was laid to rest in the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in the town.


CWG: Serjeant John Bunclark

Serjeant John Bunclark

John Bunclark was born in the village of Lustleigh, near Bovey Tracey in Devon in 1888. His father is lost to time, but his mother was farm labourer’s daughter, Elizabeth Bunclark. Elizabeth worked as a kitchen maid for a local solicitor, so John’s grandparents – John and Mary – raised him as their own.

In 1894, Elizabeth went on to marry William Wright – they went on to have four children of their own, while John remained with his grandparents. Tragically, in 1907, Elizabeth died in childbirth; the boy also died.

In 1906, John was longing for bigger and better things, and a military career appeared a good option. He joined the Devonshire Regiment as a Private and, while full details of his service are no available, it seems that John made a good impression.

In 1912, John married Emma Jane Horrell. She was the daughter of an agricultural labourer from Tavistock, who was working as a domestic servant when they met. The couple went on to have four children, between 1912 and 1918.

When war broke out, Private Bunclark was posted to France; his battalion – the 2nd – served in many of the key battles of the conflict, including Neuve Chapelle, The Somme, Ypres and Arras. At some point during the war, however, John transferred to the 641st Employment Company of the Labour Corps; this meant work on the Home Front, and a promotion to Serjeant came with it.

It was while John was on leave back in Newton Abbot that he fell ill. His specific ailment is lost to time, but he was admitted to the Temporary Hospital at the Institution in the town. He passed away on 7th November 1918, at the age of 30 years old.

John Clark was laid to rest in Newton Abbot Cemetery.


CWG: Corporal Cyril Allen

Corporal Cyril Allen

Cyril Starr Allen was born on 15th June 1891 in the village of Baughurst, near Tadley in Hampshire. He was the second youngest of five children to Charles and Martha Allen. Charles was a rate collector, and the family moved around the county during Cyril’s early years.

By the time Cyril left school, Charles had become an assistant bursar in Wootton, near Basingstoke. Cyril, meanwhile, had found similar administrative employment and was working as a clerk for a local land agent.

At the start of 1911, Cyril enlisted in the British Army. He joined the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment as a Private and was soon based on Salisbury Plain. His service records confirm that he was 19 years and 7 months old, and stood at 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall. Private Allen served for his initial term of four years, before being remobilised.

In November 1915, Cyril married Mabel Young. She was a printer’s daughter from Wiltshire, and the couple married in Salisbury, before settling down in Frome, Somerset. They went on to have a child, a daughter they called Kathleen.

Remobilised in the autumn of 1915 Private Allen received a series of promotions – to Lance Corporal, Corporal, Lance Sergeant and Sergeant, and, by June 1917, he found himself at the Front.

On 22nd April 1918, Cyril was injured, sustaining gunshot wounds to his shoulder and left arm. He was invalided back to England for treatment, and was hospitalised in the north of the country. He was then transferred to the Royal Welch Fusiliers with the rank of Corporal and sent to Ireland to continue his recovery and work light duties.

While in Ireland, Corporal Allen contracted influenza and was admitted to the Buttevant Hospital in County Cork. Sadly, in his weakened state, it was something he was to succumb to, and he passed away, with Mabel at his bedside, on 15th November 1918. He was just 27 years of age.

Cyril Starr Allen’s body was brought back to England; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church in Frome, Somerset.


Corporal Cyril Allen (from ancestry.co.uk)

After the loss of her husband, Mabel went on to live her life. In 1923, she married James Burr, a draughtsman from Frome; they went on to have a child – a brother for Kathleen – called James.


Cyril’s two brothers, Winthrop and Charles, also fought in the First World War.

(from ancestry.co.uk)

Winthrop had emigrated to North America in 1911, but returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when war broke out.

Lance Corporal Charles Allen served with the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He fought on the Western Front and was killed near Kemmel Hill in Belgium on 4th September 1918. He was just 21 years old. Charles is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Zonnebeke, Belgium.


CWG: Quartermaster Serjeant Percy Macey

Quartermaster Serjeant Percy Macey

Percy George Macey was born in Frome, Somerset, in the autumn of 1889. He was the oldest of six children and the only son to Arthur and Susan Macey. Arthur was a general labourer and domestic gardener from Wiltshire, whose family had moved to Somerset in the 1870s.

When he left school, Percy found work at a local foundry, and, by the time of the 1911 census, was listed as a brass fitter. By this point he had met Winifred Rowe, a labourer’s daughter from Wiltshire, who had found work as a servant to a Frome butcher. The couple married at the start of 1913, and went on to have a son – who they called Arthur, after Percy’s recently deceased father – later that year.

War was coming, and Percy joined the Somerset Light Infantry. Full details of his military service are not available, although at some point during the conflict he was promoted to Serjeant and transferred to the Labour Corps under the Devonshire Regiment. He was awarded the Victory and British Medals, but does not appear to have seen any service overseas.

By the end of the war, Percy had risen to the rank of Quartermaster Serjeant. The end of his life is, however, shrouded in a bit of mystery. He passed away on 15th March 1921 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; although no cause for his death is evident, it seems likely to have been from an illness of some sort, as there are no contemporary newspaper reports to suggest anything out of the ordinary. He was just 31 years old.

Percy George Macey was brought back to Frome; he was laid to rest in the Dissenters’ Cemetery in Vallis Road.