Tag Archives: Ypres

CWG: Private Wilfred Follett

Private Wilfred Follett

Wilfred Alson Follett was born in the spring of 1898, and was the second of eight children to Robert and Ellen (known as Nellie) Follett. Robert was a scavenger (or street cleaner) for Chard council, and it was in this Somerset town where his and Nellie’s young family were raised.

Lace making was the predominant industry in the area, and it was for local employer Boden & Co.’s Old Town Mills that Wilfred worked when he finished school. The 1911 census recorded him as being a threading boy in the factory.

War was coming to Europe, however, and Wilfred was keen to play a part. Sadly, full details of his military service are lost to time, but he had enlisted by the spring of 1917, initially joining the Somerset Light Infantry. He soon transferred across to the Welch Regiment, however, and was assigned to the 10th (Service) Battalion.

Private Follett was sent to the Western Front at the start of July 1917, and was soon caught up in the thick of the action at Ypres. He came through the Battle of Pilkem, but was injured at the fighting in Langemark. His wounds were severe enough for him to be evacuated to England for treatment, and he was admitted to a hospital in Bradford, Yorkshire.

Robert was sent for, but sadly did not arrive in time to see Wilfred before he passed away from his injuries. He died on 20th August 1917, at the tender age of just 19 years old.

Wilfred Alson Follett was brought back to his home town for burial. He was laid to rest in Chard Cemetery.


CWG: Private Herbert Matthews

Private Herbert Matthews

Herbert George Matthews was born in the autumn of 1886 in the Somerset village of Chillington. He was the oldest of two children to George and Elizabeth (known a Rosa) Matthews, and was baptised in the village church on Christmas Day that year.

George was a farm labourer, and this is work into which Herbert also followed. Rosa passed away in December 1910, leaving George a widow after 26 years of marriage.

War came to Europe in 1914, and Herbert signed up to play his part for King and Country. Full details of his service are not available, but he initially enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry. He soon transferred across to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (although the date of this is unclear) and was assigned to the 2nd/6th Battalion.

Private Matthews’ troop spent the war on the Western Front, and was involved at Fromelles, Ancre, Ypres and Cambrai. In the spring of 1918, he was caught up in the Battle of St Quentin – part of that year’s battles on the Somme. He was wounded, and medically evacuated to England, where he was admitted to the University War Hospital in Southampton.

Sadly, Private Matthews’ wounds proved too severe; he passed away from his injuries on 5th April 1918, at the age of 31 years old.

Herbert George Matthews was laid to rest in Chillington Cemetery, not far from where his mother was buried, and within walking distance of where his father still lived.


CWG: Serjeant John Ive

Serjeant John Ive

John Tucker Ive was born on 30th January 1882, one of eleven children to George and Emily Ive. George was a stone dresser from Harefield, Middlesex, and this is where the family were born and raised.

John was evidently after a life of adventure and, on leaving school, he enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. There is little documented about his military career, but he was based in Devonport and spent a couple of years in South Africa during the Second Boer War.

When he returned to England, John met Amy Ethel Staunton, from Stonehouse in Devon. The couple married in 1905 and went on to have a son, also called John, the following year.

When his military service came to an end, John found work as a butler, and he and Amy were employed by the same household. John Jr, meanwhile, was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Plymouth.

Global conflict was on the horizon, by now, and John soon felt the need to play his part once again. He rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and was given the rank of Serjeant. He was shipped to France in August 1914, where his battalion fought at Ypres and at Mons, and he was injured during both battles.

By the time the conflict ended, Serjeant Ive had transferred to the regiment’s Labour Corps; at the start of 1919, he was preparing to be discharged from the army, but contracted pneumonia. Admitted to the Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, Hampshire, the lung condition sadly got the better of him: he passed away on 24th February 1919, at the age of 37 years old.

John Tucker Ive was brought back to Devon for burial; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough, Newton Abbot.


Two of John’s brothers also died in the conflict.

Private George Robert Ive served with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He died at Gallipoli on 28th June 1915, at the age of 34 years old.

Gunner Edward Ive served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. He died in the Persian Gulf on 1st May 1916, aged just 30 years old.


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: 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: Private Wilfred Francis

Private Wilfred Francis

Wilfred Harry Francis was born in October 1890 in Castle Cary. He was the oldest of eight children to Edward and Rosina Francis, both of whom had also been born in the Somerset Town. Edward was a baker in his younger days, but, by the 1911 census he was employed as a builder’s labourer. Wilfred was recorded in the same document as a tailor.

War was coming to Europe, and Wilfred enlisted. He has been a volunteer in the Somerset Light Infantry, but on 6th April 1915, he made this a formal role. His service records show that he stood 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall had light blue eyes and light brown hair.

Private Francis was assigned to the 6th Battalion and sent to France in the summer of 1915. His battalion was immediately thrown into the thick of the the fighting at Ypres. The intensity of the battles of Hooge and Bellewaarde seemed to impact Wilfred as, on 7th October, he was admitted to the 4th London General Hospital, suffering from shell shock.

Wilfred was discharged after two weeks, and signed off as fit for light duties. It seems that he didn’t return to the Western Front, but instead was transferred to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the regiment, based in Devonport.

The memories still seemed to haunt Private Francis, however. He was admitted to hospital again – this time the County of Middlesex Hospital in Napsbury, near St Albans – with mania. This time his ‘mental deficiency’ proved to much for the army, and he was discharged from military service on 18th July 1916. His discharge papers show gave the hospital as his address and recommended that he be admitted to a civil asylum.

Wilfred’s trail goes cold for the next few years. He seems to have been brought back to Somerset for ongoing treatment, but passed away in Wells on 27th March 1919; the cause of his passing is not known. He was 28 years of age.

Wilfred Harry Francis was laid to rest in the Castle Cary Cemetery, hopefully finding peace at last.


CWG: Private Roderick Smith

Private Roderick Smith

Roderick Morgan Smith was born on 14th April 1896 in Upton Park, Essex. One of twin sons to Francis and Frances Smith, he had three siblings altogether. Francis is absent from the two census returns on which Roderick features, but the documents confirm that Frances – who was a certified teacher – was married, so he may have been elsewhere at the time.

By the time of the 1901 census, the family had moved from East London to Monmouthshire, where Roderick’s mother was teaching at the school in the village of Wonastow. Ten years later, they had moved across the River Severn to Withycombe in Somerset, not far from where Frances had been born. Other records show that they subsequently moved to Bath, then to Weston-super-Mare.

When war broke out, Roderick was keen to join up. He enlisted in the as a Private in the Durham Light Infantry, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion. He was sent to France in the spring of 1915, and would have been involved with his regiment at Ypres and the Somme.

It was at the Somme that Private Smith was gassed and wounded. Full details are not recorded, but they were enough for him to be medically evacuated to England. He was admitted to the military hospital in Taunton, but passed away on 7th May 1916. He was just 20 years of age.

Roderick Morgan Smith was brought to Weston-super-Mare and laid to rest in the town’s Milton Road Cemetery.


Roderick’s twin, Frank Morgan Smith, also played his part in the First World War. He enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment as a Private, and was assigned to the 7th Battalion. He also found himself embroiled at the Somme, and he too was wounded.

Sadly, Frank’s wounds were too severe for him to be repatriated to England; he died in a French hospital on 3rd December 1916, also aged 20 years old. He was laid to rest at the Wimeraux Cemetery.


CWG: Private Bert Mayled

Private Bert Mayled

Bert Mayled was born in the autumn of 1889, the fourth of four children – all boys – to Benjamin and Anna Mayled. Benjamin was a butcher from Somerset, who raised his young family in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare.

The whole family followed in Benjamin’s trade, with all four siblings supporting in one way or another, either through farm work or, in Bert’s case, becoming a butcher as well.

On 6th July 1914, Bert married Catherine Swearse, a builder’s daughter from nearby Axbridge. They married in Catherine’s local church, but settled – albeit briefly – back on the coast.

Bert may even had enlisted by the time of the wedding. While he is noted as a butcher on the marriage banns, within weeks war had broken out across Europe, and he found himself in the North Somerset Yeomanry.

Private Mayled’s regiment was one of the first into the fray – he was soon on the Front Line at Ypres. He was wounded early on, and medically evacuated to England for treatment. Admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester, he succumbed to tetanus, contracted from his wounds. He died on 25th November 1914, at just 25 years of age.

Bert Mayled was brought back to Somerset for burial He lies at rest int he Milton Road Cemetery there.


CWG: Private Harry Maidment

Private Harry Maidment

Henry James Maidment – known as Harry – was born in Penarth, South Wales, in the autumn of 1890. He was one of seven children to Somerset-born Henry and Minnie Maidment. Henry Sr was a general labourer, and, when he died in 1899, Minnie remained in Penarth, earning money to support the family as a hawker of fruit.

By the time of the 1911 census, most of Minnie’s children were still living at home, with all but one of them working. Harry was employed as a van driver for a laundry, while his siblings were working variously as labourers, sailors and a housekeeper.

In the autumn of 1911, Harry married Annie Hillier, a servant who had been born in Yeovil, but who had also moved to South Wales. The couple went on to have a son, Henry, in October 1912, but he tragically passed away when he was just a couple of months old. They were not to have any other children.

War was coming to Europe by this point, and Harry was keen to play his part. He enlisted towards the end of 1914, joining the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. He arrived in France at the beginning of May 1915, and would have seen fighting at Ypres that spring.

It seems that Private Maidment was wounded at Ypres; he was medically evacuated home and was admitted to the Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex. Details of his injuries are not available, but they must have been severe; he passed away from them on 23rd July 1915, aged just 25 years old.

Harry James Maidment’s body was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church, Frome, his parents’ home town, and where his widow, Annie was living.


CWG: Private Percy Coward

Private Percy Coward

Percy Herbert Coward was born in the Wiltshire town of Westbury in the autumn of 1896. He was one of seven children – all boys – to Lily Coward and her weaver husband Charles. Not long after Percy was born, the family moved across the county border to Frome, Somerset, presumably for Charles’ work.

By the time of the 1911 census, the Coward family were living in a five-room end-of-terrace cottage on the outskirts of the town. Charles and Percy were both working as warpers – threading looms – in the cloth industry; two of his brothers were working for a printer in the town. Percy was proving himself an integral part of the community.

[Percy] was very highly esteemed by a large circle of acquaintances… He was a worker with the YMCA and Frome Brotherhood, a member of the band and in other directions showed himself a young man of much promise. He was employed successively at Messrs Houston’s [Woollen Mill] and at the Silk Factory.

Somerset Standard: Friday 26th April 1918

An active member of the town’s territorial force, when the Great War broke out he was mobilised. Initially attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps, he subsequently served with the Royal Army Service Corps and the North Staffordshire Regiment, before obtaining his final transfer to the 42nd Company of the Machine Gun Corps.

During his time in the army, Private Coward would have seen action in some of the fiercest battles of the war – at the Somme, Arras and Ypres. In the spring of 1918, his battalion was involved in the Battles of St Quentin and the Avre, and it was during this last skirmish that he was wounded.

Percy’s injuries were severe enough for him to be medically evacuated back to England and, once there, he was admitted to the Royal Woolwich Hospital in South London. His wounds were to prove too much for him, however, and he passed away at the hospital on 12th April 1918. He was just 21 years of age.

Percy Herbert Coward was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the Dissenters’ Cemetery, Vallis Road, within walking distance of his family home.