Tag Archives: tuberculosis

CWG: Gunner William Reeves

Gunner William Reeves

William Reeves was born in the summer of 1896, one of eleven children to James and Ruth Reeves. James was a house painter from Henfield in West Sussex, and it was there that he and Ruth raised their growing family.

When war came to Europe, William was keen to play his part. He enlisted as a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and, by October 1915, was in France.

Little information survives about Gunner Reeves’ military service, but by the time he was demobbed, he had earned the Victory and British Medals, the 1915 Star and the Silver War Badge. The latter award was given to those servicemen who had been honourably discharged from service due to wounds or sickness.

William returned to Sussex, but to a quieter home, James having passed away in the spring of 1916. William was also suffering with his health. He had contracted tuberculosis while in the army, and this is the condition to which he finally succumbed. He passed away on 16th December 1919, aged just 23 years old.

William Reeves was laid to rest in Henfield Cemetery, within walking distance of his family home.


CWG: Private Sidney Budd

Private Sidney Budd

Sidney John Budd was born in the spring of 1888, the middle of three children to Abel and Mary Budd. Abel was a gardener from Tiverton, Devon, and this is where the family were born and raised. In the late 1890s, the family moved to West Monkton, near Taunton in Somerset.

When he finished school, Sidney found work as a house painter, and, by the time of the 1911 census, was boarding in a house near Minehead. Within a few years, he had moved again, this time to Chard, and had met Florence Moulding, the daughter of a shepherd from the town. The couple married on 1st August 1914, just days before the outbreak of war.

There is little information available relating to Sidney’s military service. He enlisted before the end of 1917, joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. This was a wholly territorial troop, and Private Budd would have served in Somerset and Devon.

One of the downsides to being in close proximity to servicemen from other parts of the country in tightly-packed barracks was the ease with which disease could spread. Sadly, Private Budd was not immune from this and, in the spring of 1917, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. He was admitted to the Ford House Hospital in Plymouth, but his condition deteriorated and he passed away on 31st May 1917. He was just 29 years of age.

Sidney John Budd’s body was brought back to Chard for burial: he lies at rest in the town’s cemetery.


Florence went on to marry again, wedding Harry Golesworthy in the spring of 1918. Sadly, her happiness was to be short-lived: she passed away just two years later, at the age of 28 years old.


Sidney’s older brother, named Abel after his father, was an interesting character. When he left school, he found work as an apprentice to a photographer.

In July 1909, though, he was brought to court for stealing a bicycle. It seems that he had rented one from a dealer in West Monkton in order to visit friends in Cullompton, but not return it at the end of the day, as expected.

The dealer contacted Abel’s parents, and he was found to have stayed over in Cullompton. It seems that while there, he had run low on funds, and had sold the bicycle to a dealer in the town. A week later, he returned to the Cullompton dealer, asking to buy the bike back, but hadn’t brought any money with him.

Eventually, Abel’s father went to Cullompton, bought the bicycle, then took it to the dealer in original dealer in West Monkton. By this point, however, Abel had been charged with theft, and pled guilty. His father stood witness, and, according to the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser [Wednesday 14th July 1909], admitted that Abel “was rather weak of mind” and had not intended to steal the bicycle.

Abel was bound over for twelve months, with his father standing surety of five pounds.

The later parts of Abel’s life seem a mystery. There is a record of him travelling to Brisbane, Australia, in the spring of 1914, where he was to work as a farm labourer. He must have returned home, possibly as part of the war effort, and five years later he married Annie Talbot in Taunton, Somerset.

At this point, however, he falls off the radar, and there is no further information about him.


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: Able Seaman Ernest Cornock

Able Seaman Ernest Cornock

Ernest Charles Cornock was born on 16th June 1896, in the Gloucestershire town of Wotton-under-Edge. His parents were carter Charles Cornock and his wife, Millicent, both born and bred in the town, and he was one of eight children.

When he left school, Ernest found work as a rubber winder in the local mill. However, he wanted bigger and better things and so, on 8th April 1913, he enlisted in the Royal Navy. His service records show that he stood just 5ft 3ins (1.60m) tall, had brown hair grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He was also noted as having a scar on his right cheek.

As Ernest was under age when he joined up, he was initially given the rank of Boy 2nd Class. He was sent to HMS Vivid, the Naval Dockyard in Devonport and, after four months’ training, during which he was promoted to Boy 1st Class, he was given his first posting on board the battleship HMS Queen.

After five months on board, Boy Cornock was given another assignment, and was transferred to HMS Lion. While on board, a number of things happened: the First World War broke out, and the battle cruiser fought at Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank; Ernest came of age, and was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman on his 18th birthday; with ongoing good conduct, in September 1915, he was then given a promotion to Able Seaman.

After a short spell back in Devonport, Ernest served on a further five ships, taking him through to the end of the war. By the start of 1919, however, Able Seaman Cornock’s health was beginning to suffer. Having contracted tuberculosis, he was medically discharged from service on 19th February, and was admitted to a sanatorium back in Gloucestershire. Sadly the condition was to get the better of him, and he passed away on 14th April 1919, at the age of just 22 years old.

Ernest Charles Cornock was brought back to Wotton-under-Edge for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in the town, not far from his second cousin, Albert Cornock, who had been buried just the week before.


As an aside to Ernest’s tale, the newspaper that reported on his funeral also noted that his grandmother, Ruth Cornock, had not long received a message from the King, congratulating her on the fact that nine of her sons had served in the conflict


CWG: Private Albert Cornock

Private Albert Cornock

Albert Edward Cornock was born in 1878, and was one of eight children. His parents, John and Hannah Cornock, were both born in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, ant this is where the family were brought up.

John was a labourer, and this was the trade than Albert also fell into. On 2nd August 1903, he married local woman Bessie Carter. The couple settled in their home town and went on to have eight children.

War came to Europe in 1914, and Albert was amongst those to enlist early on. He joined the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in Bristol on 13th November. Albert’s service records show that he was 5ft 4ins (1.62m) tall and weighed 119lbs (54kg). He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

Private Cornock’s initial training was split between Cheltenham and Salisbury Plain, but he was eventually sent out to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1915. He spent nearly eighteen months overseas, but, towards the end of the following year, he contracted tuberculosis, and was sent back to England for treatment.

Albert’s lung condition was to ultimately lead to his discharge from the army on medical grounds. His last day of service was 8th February 1917.

At this point, Albert’s trail goes cold. He returned home to Gloucestershire, and lived on another couple of years. He passed away at home on 9th April 1919, aged 40 years old: while the cause of his passing is not clear, it seems likely to have been as a result of the illness that saw him discharged from the army.

Albert Edward Cornock was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in his home town of Wotton-under-Edge. He lies not far from his cousin, Ernest Cornock, another victim of the First World War, who was buried just a week later.


CWG: Leading Telegraphist Ernest Webber

Leading Telegraphist Ernest Webber

Ernest Webber was born on 19th April 1897 in Newton Abbot, Devon, although there is little further documented about his early life

The 1911 census records Ernest as being at the Scattered Home in Newton Abbot. This was, in fact, the Greenaway Home for Boys, part of the town’s Union Workhouse. It was run by a Mrs Louise Foote, had 22 ‘inmates’ and was located on the Highweek Road.

The following year, however, Ernest found a way to better himself, enlisting in the Royal Navy. His service records confirm that he joined up on 9th October 1912 and gave a physical description of him: he was 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, had fair hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. He was also noted as having a scar on his left index finger.

As he was below the age for full service, he was given the rank of Boy, and was sent to HMS Ganges, the naval base in Ipswich, Suffolk, and HMS Impregnable, a training ship, for his initial instruction. Some talent seems to have been unearthed as he was soon promoted to Boy Telegraphist.

In August 1913, Ernest was assigned to the battleship HMS Conqueror. He spent nearly two years on board and, during that time, came of age. Now formally inducted into the service, he was given the rank of Ordinary Telegraphist, before being promoted again – to the full role of Telegraphist – in April 1915.

Two months later Telegraphist Webber was transferred to HMS Phaeton; over the next year, he spent time on two further vessels, before being assigned to HMS Victorious in April 1916. With this assignment came a further promotion: Ernest was now a Leading Telegraphist.

In the summer of 1917, Ernest moved again, this time to HMS Vivid, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Devonport. At this point, however, he had fallen ill, and was medically discharged from duty on 5th September 1917, having contracted tuberculosis.

At this point, Ernest’s trail goes cold. He returned to Newton Abbot, but the events of the next year are lost to time. All that can be confirmed is that he passed away, presumably of his lung condition, on 11th December 1918. He was just 21 years of age.

Ernest Webber was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in Highweek, near Newton Abbot.


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: Private Hubert Hext

Private Hubert Hext

Hubert Hext was born in Ashburton, Devon, in September 1898. He was the youngest of three children to painter and decorator William Hext and his wife, Susan.

Little information is available on Hubert’s early life, and there is also scant detail about his military career. All that can be confirmed is that he enlisted on 6th May 1914, and joined the Devonshire Regiment as a Private.

He was initially assigned to the 5th Battalion – they ailed to India in October 1914 – but at some point transferred to the 14th (Labour) Battalion – which was in France by October 1916. Sadly, it’s not possible to identify exactly where Private Hext served.

The military documents available confirm that Hubert contracted tuberculosis and was discharged from the army on medical grounds. However, one records suggests this was on 25th October 1916, while another gives the date of 25th October 1917. Either way, Private Hext’s army career was over by the middle of the conflict.

Hubert returned home, and, for a while, his trail goes cold. Sadly, the next record for him is the confirmation of his passing. He died on 11th November 1918 – Armistice Day – at the tender age of just 20 years old.

Hubert Hext was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in Ashburton, Devon.


CWG: Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was born in London in February 1890, one of eight children to Frederick and Elizabeth Blackwell. Frederick was a tailor from Devon, while Elizabeth had been born in Somerset. By the time of the 1911 census, they had moved back to Somerset, settling in the village of Dunster.

Ronald followed in his father’s footsteps and, by the time war broke out, was living and working in Taunton. It’s clear that he wanted to play his part in the growing conflict, enlisting in the Royal Engineers in January 1915.

Sapper Blackwell’s service records confirm that he stood 5ft 6.5ins (1.69m) tall; they also note that he had the tattoo of a heart on his left forearm. His skill as a tailor is mentioned numerous times, and it appears that this talent was how his time was put to use. He was shipped to France on 25th January 1915, and, by the end of the conflict, he was in Italy. It was from here that he returned to England on 26th January 1919.

It seems that Ronald’s return to the UK was as a result of him becoming ill, as, within a month of coming home, he was medically discharged form the army, having been suffering from tuberculosis.

Ronald returned to Somerset, but was to be dogged by the lung disease for a further year more. He passed away at home on 25th June 1920, aged just 30 years old.

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was laid to rest in Dunster Cemetery, not far from his parents’ then home.


Ronald’s older brother, Harold Frederick Blackwell, also fought in the First World War. He was a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He was killed during the Allied advance into Flanders in August 1918, and was laid to rest in the Terlincthun British Cemetery in Northern France.


CWG: Private Cuthbert Collard

Private Cuthbert Collard

Cuthbert William George Collard was born in the spring of 1899, one of nine children to William and Eliza Collard. William was an agricultural labourer from North Newton in Somerset, and this is where he and Eliza raised their family. While probably helping his father out as a child, Cuthbert found work at the local blacksmith’s when he left school.

Cuthbert was barely fifteen when war broke out in Europe, and so had to wait until April 1917 before he was of age to enlist. He joined the Devonshire Regiment, and his service records show that he was 5ft 2ins (1.57m) tall, had black hair, brown eyes and a pale complexion.

Assigned to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Private Collard served his time on home soil. While full details are not available, it appears that he contracted tuberculosis during his training. This was serious enough for treatment in a sanatorium to be recommended, and he was medically discharged from military service because of the lung condition on 9th January 1918. He had been in the army for just 280 days.

At this point, Cuthbert’s trail goes cold. Whether he was admitted for medical treatment is unclear, but it appears that he returned to North Newton. He passed away on 19th June 1919 at the family home, aged just 20 years old.

Cuthbert William George Collard was laid to rest in the graveyard of the village church, St Peter’s.