Tag Archives: Surrey

CWG: Private George Dove

Private George Dove

George Dove was born in Wincanton, Somerset, on 4th December 1883. One of five children, his parents were farm labourer George Dove and his wife, Jane.

George Jr did not follow his father into farm work: the 1901 census found him boarding with a family in Radstock, working in one of the coal mines in the area. Ten years later, he was living back with his family, employed as a groom.

His work with horses stood him in good stead when war was declared. George enlisted early on, and was assigned to the 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal) Hussars as a Private. By October 1914, he was in France, returning to England with his squadron the following spring.

At some point during the conflict, Private Dove transferred to the Reserve Regiment of Cavalry. He was posted to the 5th Regiment, which trained men for the Northumberland Hussars and Yorkshire Dragoons, amongst others.

Further details of George’s life are scarce; at some point, he married a woman called Emily, although records of the couple’s wedding no longer exist. The only thing that can be confirmed is that George was admitted to the Bermondsey Military Hospital in Surrey, where he passed away on 24th October 1918. He was 34 years old.

The body of George Dove was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the cemetery in his home town, Wincanton.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class John Green

Stoker 1st Class John Green

John Green was born in Putney, London, on 9th September 1895. He was one of eight children to cab driver Albert Green and his wife, Bridget. When he left school, John found work as an errand boy, but clearly wanted bigger and better things.

On 8th October 1913, he enlisted as a Stoker 2nd Class in the Royal Navy. His naval records confirm that he was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall, had brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. He was also noted as having a scar on the side of his right eye.

While John’s service records confirm his date of birth as that above, other documents suggest that his year of birth was 1897. This would have meant he would have been to young to enlist in the Royal Navy when he did, although it was not unusual for keen sailors to add a year or so to their age to ensure they were accepted.

Stoker 1st Class Green was initially sent to HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – for training. He spent six months there, before being assigned to the dreadnought battleship HMS Vanguard. He spent three-and-a-half years on board her, and gained a promotion to Stoker 1st Class in the process.

In August 1917, John returned to Chatham Dockyard. HMS Pembroke was a busy and cramped place that particular summer, and he was billeted to temporary accommodation set up in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the night of 3rd September, the town came under attack from a German air raid, and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Stoker Green was badly injured and admitted to the Chatham Naval Hospital; he succumbed to his injuries the following day, days short of (officially) his 22nd birthday.

John Green was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid.


CWG: Senior Reserve Attendant George Cain

Senior Reserve Attendant George Cain

George Cain was born on 27th December 1896, and was one of eleven children to Edward and Florence Cain. Edward was a house painter from Richmond in Surrey, who passed away when George was a child, leaving Florence to raise the family. She found work as a shopkeeper in the town, and, when he left school, George was apprenticed to a printer to help bring in some extra money.

He had moved on to compositing – setting type – when war broke out. With conflict raging in Europe, George felt the need to play his part and, on 31st July 1915, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. His records show that he was 5ft 7ins (1.7m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a pale complexion.

George was given the rank of Junior Reserve Attendant, supporting medical staff in the navy’s sick bays. After a couple of weeks at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, he was posted to the town’s main hospital, where he remained for just under two years, and where he received a promotion to Senior Reserve Attendant.

In July 1917, George was reassigned to HMS Pembroke. That summer was particularly busy for the base, and temporary accommodation was set up in the Drill Hall; this is where George found himself billeted.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line as a wave of German aircraft bombed the town. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and Senior Reserve Assistant Cain was injured. He was admitted to the hospital at which he had worked just weeks before, but died of his wounds the following day. He was just 20 years old.

George Cain was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham, along with the other servicemen who had perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night.


CWG: Painter 2nd Class Arthur Voice

Painter 2nd Class Arthur Voice

Arthur Edward Voice was born on 14th August 1895, the youngest of five children to Albert and Jane. Albert was a painter from Sussex, who had set up home in Horley, Surrey, and this is where Arthur and his siblings were born.

When he left school, Arthur followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a painter and decorator. This was something he continued doing through to the outbreak of war. He was called up to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in February 1916, but was initially excused from duty.

On 1st February 1916, he married Winifred Leppard, from Redhill in Surrey; the couple went on to have a son, Raymond, that September.

Arthur was called up again on 5th December, this time as a Painter 2nd Class in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he was 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, had fair hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.

Painter Voice was stationed at HMS Pembroke – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – and his services seem to have been put to use on shore, rather than at sea.

HMS Pembroke was a generally bustling place, but by the summer of 1917, it had exceeded capacity to the point where temporary accommodation was set up. Arthur found himself billeted at The Drill Hall, away from the main barracks.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line, as the German Air Force launched a bombing raid. One of the bombs landed squarely on the Drill Hall, and Painter Voice was killed instantly. He was just 22 years old.

Ninety-eight servicemen perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night. They were buried in a mass funeral at the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. This, too, is where Arthur Edward Voice was laid to rest.


Painter 2nd Class Arthur Voice
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Ordinary Seaman George Shuttle

Ordinary Seaman George Shuttle

George James Henry Shuttle was born in Brentford, Middlesex, on 12th July 1899. His mother was Helen (or Ellen or Nellie) Shuttle, but he does not seem to have had a close connection to her and, according to the records, there was no father on the scene. Initially fostered out to Noah and Carmina Scott as a nurse child, by the time of the 1911 census, the couple had adopted him.

When he left school, George worked as a milk boy, but he seemed to know that a life of adventure awaited him. In June 1915, he joined the Royal Navy; being only 15 at the time, he was given the rank of Boy 2nd Class.

His initial posting was on board the cruiser HMS Powerful, and his training there paid off, as he quickly rose to Boy 1st Class. After a couple of months’ at HMS Victory – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth – George was assigned to his second ship, HMS Malaya. Within weeks, the brand new battleship had cut her teeth in the Battle of Jutland, during which 65 of her crew were killed.

George spent more than eighteen months on Malaya; his time on board saw him turn eighteen, and gain the rank of Ordinary Seaman. His service records at the time show that he was 5ft 3.5ins (1.61m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion.

By August 1917 Ordinary Seaman Shuttle had returned to shore, and was assigned to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly busy when he arrived. Temporary accommodation at Chatham Drill Hall had been set up, and George found himself billeted there for the summer.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of the first night-time air raids on England: an unprepared Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Ordinary Seaman Shuttle was badly injured and died of his wounds in hospital the following day.

George James Henry Shuttle was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


George’s mother, Helen, had continued with her life. A year after George was born, she had another son, Cyril, but he also seems to have been fostered out to enable her to work.

In 1903, she married musician Harry Burgiss-Brown, and the couple set up home in Richmond, Surrey. They went on to have two children, and Helen seemed focused on her new life, rather than the one she had before marrying.

Helen died in 1949, just short of her 70th birthday.


CWG: Ordinary Seaman Victor Duckett

Ordinary Seaman Victor Duckett

Victor Rous Duckett was born in Margate, Kent, on 2nd September 1887, the youngest of seven children to publican and stonemason Charles Duckett and his wife, Emily. Tragically, both of Victor’s parents died when he was young: Charles passed away on 31st October 1891, while managing the Clifton Arms public house; Emily passed away just four months later.

Victor’s brothers Charles and William took over the running of the pub, and, understandably, took on the responsibility for the family. The 1901 census records that he was one of eight boys boarding at a ‘private school’ in a house in Stanley Road, within walking distance of the Clifton Arms. The school was managed by James and Mary Hawkins and had one master, Alexander Smith.

When he left school, Victor found work as a compositor, setting type for a local printer. In the meantime, while his brothers were still running the pub, his three sisters had set up a ladies’ outfitters in Broadstairs, where they employed an assistant, Amy Leggett. Victor and Amy became close and the couple married in Sussex – where Amy was from – in the spring of 1911. They set up home in Croydon, and went on to have twin daughters, Caroline and Dorothy, the following year.

War was on the horizon, and Victor was called up on 27th February 1917. He enlisted in the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman, and was sent to HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment in Chatham, Kent. His service records show that he stood at 5ft 10.5ins (1.79m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes, and a fresh complexion.

HMS Pembroke was extraordinarily busy when Ordinary Seaman Duckett arrived there. Temporary accommodation at Chatham Drill Hall had been set up, and Victor found himself billeted there for the summer.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of its first night-time air raids on England: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Ordinary Seaman Duckett was badly injured and died of his wounds in hospital the following day. He had celebrated his thirtieth birthday just two days before.

Victor Rous Duckett was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


Ordinary Seaman
Victor Duckett
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Stoker 1st Class William Shirley

Stoker 1st Class William Shirley

William Leonard Shirley was born in the spring of 1896, the second of six children to Edward and Helen Shirley. Edward was a brewer’s drayman who raised his family in South Croydon, Surrey.

When William left school, he found work as a baker’s delivery boy. War was on the horizon, however, and he was destined for the Royal Navy. His full service details are not available, although it is clear that he had enlisted as a Stoker by 1917.

William seems to have been based at HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. Again, details are sketchy, but he was definitely there in September 1917.

This was a busy time for HMS Pembroke, and the barracks were using the dockyard’s Drill Hall as temporary additional accommodation for the overflow of servicemen there at the time. Stoker 1st Class Shirley was based there on the night of the 3rd September, when the German Air Force performed their first night raid on England. The Drill Hall received a direct hit, and William, along with nearly 100 others, was killed. He was just 21 years of age.

William Leonard Shirley was laid to rest with the dozens of other victims of the Chatham Air Raid in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.


CWG: Stoker 1st Class Alfred Finlay

Stoker 1st Class Alfred Finlay

Alfred James Finlay was born in Croydon, Surrey on 7th September 1893. His mother was Emily Finlay, although there is little more information to confirm details of his early life.

He was working as a shop porter when he was drawn to a life at sea and, on 9th April 1912 he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class. Alfred’s enlistment papers confirm that he was 5ft 5ins (1.66m) tall, had brown hair and brown eyes. While he had a fair complexion, he was also noted to have a scar above his left eye, another on his left thigh, and had a tattoo of a pierced heart on his left arm.

After his initial six months’ training at HMS Pembroke – the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent – he was assigned to the cruiser HMS Lancaster, where he spent a couple of months. He had another few weeks at HMS Pembroke, before being sent to another cruiser, HMS Chatham.

Alfred spent more than three years on Chatham, and was promoted to Stoker 1st Class during his time aboard. Returning once again to Kent, his service from here on in seems to have been mainly shore-based: HMS Pembroke in Chatham; HMS Vivid in Devonport; HMS Victory in Portsmouth.

Stoker Finlay returned to HMS Pembroke in the summer of 1917. It was a busy period for the Naval Dockyard in Chatham, and a lot of the servicemen there – Alfred included – were billeted to temporary accommodation at the nearby Drill Hall. It was here that he was sleeping on the 3rd September, when the German Air Force undertook their first night raid over England. One of the bombers scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall, and Alfred was killed. He was just 24 years old.

Alfred James Finlay was laid to rest, along with the dozens of other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, at the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham.

CWG: Gunner George Hewlett

Gunner George Hewlett

George Henry Hewlett was born on 11th July 1892, the oldest of four children to Henry and Louisa Hewlett. Henry was a painter from Hampshire, who travelled for work. George and his youngest sibling were born in Romsey, while his two brothers were born in Swindon, Wiltshire. By the time of the 1901 census, when George was eight years old, the family had settled in Hammersmith, London.

The next census, in 1911, recorded the family as living in Caterham, Surrey. By this time, George and his father were working as gardeners, while his brothers were working as grocers. Louisa, meanwhile, was employed as a live-in housekeeper for a spinster and her mother just around the corner.

War was coming and George was determined to do his bit. Full details are not available, but he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, taking on the role of Gunner. In May 1918 he was on board HMS Iris, a Mersey ferry requisitioned by the Royal Navy for support in the planned raid on Zeebrugge.

On 23 April 1918, HMS Iris was towed across the English Channel to Zeebrugge by HMS Vindictive; she was carrying a couple of platoons of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Marines as a raiding party. When the Vindictive neared the Zeebrugge she cast the ferry aside. Iris tried to pull up to the breakwater under heavy fire in order to off-load the raiding parties which were on board. She sustained heavy fire and a shell burst through the deck into an area where the marines were preparing to land. Forty-nine men were killed, including Gunner Hewlett. George was 28 years of age.

George Henry Hewett’s body was brought back to England. He was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the dockyard at which he was based.


George’s two brothers also fought in the First World War.

John William Hewlett, who was two years younger than George, joined the 1st Royal Marine Battalion of the Royal Naval Division as a Private. He fought on the Western Front, and was killed in fighting on 22nd October 1916. He was 21 years of age. John was laid to rest at the Mesnil-Matinsart Cemetery near the town of Albert in Northern France.

Joseph Herbert Hewlett was born three years after George. When war was declared, he enlisted in the Buffs (East Kent Regiment), joining the 4th Battalion as a Private. Dispatched to India, he was initially based in Bombay, but was injured in fighting. He was sent back to England, and treated at the Military Hospital at Netley, near Southampton. Sadly, his wounds proved too severe – he passed away on 4th April 1915, aged just 20 years old.

In the space of three years, Henry and Louisa Hewlett had lost all three of their sons to the war. After George’s death, a local newspaper reported this was their “sad and proud record”. [Dover Express: Friday 31st May 1918]


CWG: Lieutenant Basil Scott-Holmes

Lieutenant Basil Scott-Holmes

Basil Scott-Holmes was born on 2nd February 1884 in the Somerset village of Wookey. The oldest of two children, his father was Liverpool-born Thomas Scott-Holmes and his wife, Katherine. When Basil was born, Thomas was the vicar of St Matthew’s Church, Wookey, but by 1901, he had risen to the role of clergyman – and subsequently Chancellor – at Wells Cathedral.

Basil’s pedigree stood him in good stead. Initially educated in Llandaff, South Wales, he subsequently attended Sherborne School in Dorset. Sent up to Cambridge, he studied history at Sidney Sussex College.

After leaving university, Basil spent time in Europe learning German and French. He was then assigned the role of Assistant Commissioner in North Nigeria but, after a year there he was invalided home taking up a teaching role at the Bristol Grammar School in 1912.

In July 1913, Basil married Barbara Willey, a surgeon’s daughter from Reigate, Surrey. The marriage record shows that Basil was registrar for an architectural association by this point; the couple went on to have two children, daughters Annette and Prudence.

When the war broke out, he was obviously keen to do his bit. In September 1914 he enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps, before gaining a commission in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps a couple of months later. In the spring of 1916, Lieutenant Scott-Holmes had been seconded to the Machine Gun Corps, although it is unclear whether he served abroad during any of his time in the army.

On the evening of 24th October 1916, Lieutenant Scott-Holmes was riding in a motorcycle sidecar through central London, on the way back to camp. A local newspaper picked up the story:

…they stopped when going through Wandsworth to re-light the near light, and in the dark a motor omnibus ran into them, and Lieutenant [Scott-Holmes], who was strapped in the side-car, was, with the car, flung across the road. He died as he was being taken to Wandsworth Hospital. At the subsequent inquest, a verdict of “accidental death” was returned.

Central Somerset Gazette: Friday 3rd November 1916

Basil Scott-Holmes was just 32 years old. His body was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the cemetery at Wells Cathedral.


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Basil Scott-Holmes
(from ancestry.co.uk)