BRINGING THEM HOME
GEORGE, A TARNAGULLA LAD
CELEBRATED HIS 16TH BIRTHDAY
AT ANZAC IN 1915
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to certify that I the undersigned, father of George Duncan Radnell of Tarnagulla whose age is eighteen years and five months, hereby grant my consent to his enlistment as a unit of the Expeditionary Forces now being trained at Broadmeadows, Victoria.
Wm J Randall
Dated at Tarnagulla this 19th day of Jan. 1915
At the beginning of March 1915, Radnell embarked from Australia with the 14th Australian Infantry for Egypt. A month later, on 14 April, the battalion set sail from Alexandria and on 26 April went ashore at 'Kaba Tepe', Anzac Cove. On 21 August Randell went sick with enteritis - dysentery - and was hospitalized in England, only returning to his unit at the end of November, just in time for the evacuation from the peninsula.
The battalion transferred to France and on 28 August 1916 Radnell was wounded in the left arm, 'shell wound'. Hospitalized again in England, he returned to the front at the beginning of January 1917. Wounded and hospitalized in England again in September, he returned to France in January 1918.
In September 1917, Radnell was awarded a Military Medal:
"During the operations near Zonnebeke on 26 September 1917, Pte Radnell displayed great courage and initiative by getting together a party of 7 men and rushing an enemy post in which were 10 Germans, killing four and taking the remainder prisoners."
On 31 May Radnell was wounded for a third time, this time in the shoulder, face and legs. He died in a Casualty Clearing Station the next day.
Now look at his inscription: "George, a Tarnagulla lad, celebrated his 16th birthday at Anzac in 1915". George was not 18 and five months when he enlisted, as his father must have known only too well. He was 15. But he wanted to be with his elder brother and cousins who had all gone to fight. His brother, Charles Victor Radnell, was killed on 27 February 1917, and one of his cousins, Joseph Charles Radnell, on 4 August 1916.
JAMES HARGREAVES MORTON
James Hargreaves Morton lived with his four older sisters: Rachel, Sarah, Fanny and Alice, all unmarried, who worked in the cotton and linen mills of Darwen Lancashire and supported him in his career as an artist. They were proud of him, as the inscription Rachel chose makes clear. They had every reason to be.
Morton received his first training as an artist in Darwen School of Art before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. After this he took a job teaching art at Darlington Technical School but decided before long that he couldn't concentrate on his painting whilst teaching. It was at this point that his mother and sisters decided he should come home and they would support him whilst he dedicate himself to his painting.
It seems he wasn't totally supported by his sisters. In the 1911 census Morton described himself as a decorative designer in wall paper, working on his own account. There were several wallpaper manufacturers in Darwen who would have bought his designs. But in the following years he became increasingly well known as an artist, exhibiting at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool and at the Royal Academy. One of his best-known paintings, Johanna, which shows a young Belgian refugee, was painted during the first years of the war, as was a rather haunting self portrait in which Morton seems to stare stoically but apprehensively into the future.
Morton was thirty-three when the war broke out. He did not enlist but in 1916 was conscripted. He served with the 5th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment and must have been a capable soldier since within two years he was a serjeant. He was killed in action on 6 November when the battalion launched an attack in the Forest of Mormal, which had to be withdrawn in the face of fierce machine gun fire and a threatened counter attack. The attack succeeded the next day.
After his death, the sisters kept all Morton's paintings, honouring his wish that they should be kept together. But after Alice's death in 1967 they were sold uncatalogued and with no record of the buyers. Recently there has been a revival of interest in his work and in 2013 James Hargreaves Morton A Short Colourful Life was published by the Friends of Darwen Library.
OF KILLARA, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Corporal Alan Maschwitz was a long way from home when he died of 'penetrating' shrapnel wounds to his left thigh on 11 August 1917. He came from Killara, a leafy suburb of Sydney, where his parents had recently built themselves a house, Lyttleton, close to the golf course. I suspect that golf was an important part of the family's life; Alan is listed on the Killara Golf Club Roll of Honour, which at one time awarded a Maschwitz Cup - and perhaps still does - and Mr William Percy Maschwitz, Alan's father, served as both president and vice-president of the club.
Maschwitz left school in 1913 and went to work on a sheep station as a jackaroo, someone who was learning the business in order to become an owner, overseer or manager. He joined up in 1915 and sailed for Suez on 18 December 1915. In March 1916 he became a member of the newly-formed 104th Howitzer Battery, Australian Field Artillery and served with them from May 1916 until his death in August 1917.
Alan Maschwitz was his parents only child. Born on 24 November 1896, he was still only 20 when he died.
OF 52, POLLOK ST
There's something about this inscription: Mr James Freer, who chose it for his son, didn't give his son's Christian name (I got that from his medal card), didn't give his age (I worked that out from the census), didn't provide any of the usual family information for the War Graves Commission's records, but did give the family's address as his son's personal inscription. A precise inscription, but quite anonymous too as I can't be the only person not to know where Pollokshaws is. And why didn't Mr Freer provide any other information about his son? Pollokshaws, by the way, was once a separate community but is now a suburb of Glasgow.
Yesterday's casualty lived at 51 Evelyn Gardens, South Kensington, today's at 52 Pollok Street, Pollokshaws, two very different residencies although unfortunately I can't tell you exactly what Pollock Street was like since the whole area was redeveloped in the 1950s and very little of it remains. I know enough to be able to say that it was a tenement, a flat, probably built in the early 20th century. It won't have been grand since James Freer senior obviously made money where he could: in the 1881 census he was an umbrella maker, in 1891 a coal salesman and 1901 a wood merchant who sold firewood, whereas the owner of 51 Evelyn Gardens was the Senior General Manager of the National Provincial Bank. But the two fathers had the same instinct - in using the family address for their son's personal inscription they were bringing him back home where he belonged.
Freer served with the 1/6th Black Watch and was most likely wounded on 31 July / 1 August when the battalion took part in the opening attack of the Third Ypres campaign at Pilckem Ridge. I say most likely because the battalion had spent most of July in training for the attack and, having been relieved on 1 August, it spent the rest of August resting, cleaning kit and training again.
The 1901 census shows there to have been three Freer brothers: Hugh, Andrew and James. Andrew Freer, serving with Drake Battalion Royal Naval Division, was killed in action on 23 March 1918 in the German Spring Offensive. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
OF 51, EVELYN GARDENS
I find it strange when families choose to use their home address as a personal inscription. The casualty's address was automatically recorded by the War Graves Commission, there was no need to make it the inscription. But perhaps it was a way to bring the dead man home, to reclaim him from the battlefield. The repatriation of bodies having been forbidden, this was a way to tell the world, or at least any one who walked past his grave, where he belonged, where he'd come from.
Number 51 Evelyn Gardens was quite a grand address; a large, eleven-roomed house in a very smart part of London where in 1911 Mr and Mrs Thomas Estall lived with their 20 year-old son, Arthur Cecil, and three members of staff - a cook and two parlour maids. Mr Thomas Estall was Senior General Manager of the National Provincial Bank, Arthur Cecil was a clerk at the Bank of England. Yet I don't think it was the status of the address that made his father chose it as the inscription, plenty of other relations chose very humble addresses as inscriptions, I do think it was a matter of bringing the dead man home to where he belonged.
Cecil, as he was known, had been a member of the Honourable Artillery Company since 1909. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for foreign service and went with the 1st Battalion to France in October 1914. He was invalided home on 29 December 1914. There is no information as to what happened to him but page 25 of 'The Honourable Artillery Company in the Great War' relates how appalling their conditions had been:
"Our trenches had been made by the French, and were nothing but ditches full of liquid mud; there was no wire in front, and no material of any kind, nor were there any communication trenches. The only way the front line could be approached was over the open through a sea of mud, and across a bullet-swept area. Bullets came though the parapets as though they had been butter. In some of the trenches, the parapet was only breast high, and in order to get cover the men had to sit in the mud on the floor of the trench, and very often a man would find himself sitting on the chest of a mutely protesting Frenchman who had been lying there for a month or six weeks."
By the end of December, "a great number of men were suffering from exhaustion, exposure and frostbite. It turned out afterwards that this turn in the trenches cost the Battalion 12 officers and 250 men".
In March 1915, Estall received a commission in the Army Service Corps and in August joined the newly formed HQ Company Guards Division Train, a unit of the Army Service Corps. On 15 February 1917, The Times announced the news of his engagement to Miss Brenda Perronet Sells and then on 11 August, almost exactly six months later, the news of his death:
ESTALL - On the 8th Aug. of wounds received in action on the 6th Aug. Captain Arthur Cecil Estall, 51 Evelyn Gardens, SW, aged 26.
Every 8 August for the next twenty-six years, Cecil's mother remembered his death in The Times:
ESTALL - In memory of my only son A.C. Estall, "Cecil", who was wounded at Ypres 6th August 1917, died on the 8th, 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, and was buried at the Eastern Cemetery, Boulogne.
MALCOLM & MARION GIFFORD
OF HUDSON, NEW YORK, USA
There's a very strange story behind this most inoffensive of inscriptions. Just look at this report from the front page of a New York newspaper on 18 April 1914:
RICH BOY HELD AS MURDERER
Malcolm Gifford Jr. seventeen-year-old son of a wealthy manufacturer of Hudson is under arrest here charged with being the 'slayer of mystery' in the tragic murder of Frank J. Chute, chauffeur, April 1, a year ago.
The circumstantial evidence was extremely damning, but, despite the fact that Gifford was tried twice, neither jury could agree on a verdict. There was, however, a lingering suspicion that the fact that Gifford's parents were extremely wealthy might have had something to do with the outcome.
After the second trial in 1915, Gifford went to College and it was from here, Williams College, that he enlisted in February 1917, just two months before the United States entered the war. After training, Gifford, who served as a gunner in the Canadian Field Artillery, arrived at the front in late September 1917. He was killed by a shell, along with another member of the gun crew, on 8 November 1917. The New York Times reported his death on its front page with the headline:
MALCOLM GIFFORD KILLED. Youth twice tried on murder charge dies in France.
Perhaps Gifford would never have escaped his past. But at least his parents didn't attempt to dissociate themselves from him, in fact far from it, they have put both their names and their address on his headstone.
DOLGELLY, N. WALES
"A DDUG ANGAU NI DDWG ANGOF"
'A ddug angau ni ddwg angof', the words on the Dolgelly (Dolgellau) war memorial are repeated on Griffith Christmas Owen's headstone. Translated from the Welsh they mean, 'when death comes it does not mean we forget'.
Owen was killed on 31 July 1917 leading his men in an assault on Pilkhem Ridge on the opening day of the Third Ypres Campaign. Between 31 July and 2 August the 11th Battalion South Wales Borderers lost 320 men killed, wounded and missing. Owen was among the missing, his body not discovered until 24 April 1928 when it was identified by his badges of rank and his general service uniform. By this time his name had been carved on the Menin Gate, dedicated by Lord Plumer in July 1927 to the "officers & men who fell in the Ypres Salient, but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death".
Owen is now buried in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery where his inscription, chosen by his brother, John Llewelyn Owen, links him back to the town of his birth and shares with it the same dedication.
ONLY CHILD OF
ABRAHAM AND ADA HARRISON
OF 52 DAIRY HOUSE ROAD
Our image of an officer during the First World War can be so wrong. Percy Harrison was obviously an exceptionally able young man: he joined the army as a private in July 1915, was gazetted second lieutenant in the Sherwood Foresters in October 1915 and promoted captain in July 1917. But he did not come from the usual privileged background we associate with officers: his father was a stereotyper at a printing works in Derby and number 52 Dairy House Street was a red-brick terraced house in the Rose Hill district.
Harrison served with the 2nd/5th Battalion the Sherwood Foresters. In April 1916 it was sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and then in February 1917 to France. He was severely wounded, the report says "received multiple wounds", on 26 September 1917 in the Sherwood Forester's attack on Otto Farm during the early stages of the Battle of Polygon Wood. Harrison died three weeks later in No. 2 Red Cross Hospital, Rouen.
Percy Harrison's inscription is nothing more than factual but it speaks of a world of total loss for his parents.
OF THE DEARLY LOVED SON
OF J.H. PHILLIPS OF BRISBANE
Soren Hawkes drew my attention to Private Phillips on her Twitter account, @sorenstudio. She published this document from Phillips' Australian Red Cross and Wounded Enquiry Bureau file:
Phillips R.S. 3098
Killed Sep. 25th 1917
Was in C. Coy., Lewis Machine Gunner. He was badly wounded in the legs and body during the hop over at Ypres. I saw him immediately after he was hit, his right leg was practically off. He later drew his revolver and blew his brains out. I did not see this happen. I don't know where he was buried.
Witness: - Sgt. W.S. Ward 1884, 49th Battn
Yet again I wonder how much information discovered by the Red Cross was passed on to the next-of-kin. Six months later another witness reported that he too had been told that Phillips had shot himself and the following month, April 1918 another witness gave a more graphic description:
I saw him after he was killed on September 25th at Passchendaele; he had been blown out of a shell hole and twisted like a cork screw. He crawled back into a shell hole and blew his head off with a rifle.
Rifle is probably more likely than revolver as only officers carried revolvers but whatever the weapon it appears that Phillips did kill himself. I wonder if his father knew. I rather hope not as Robert Phillips was a Roman Catholic, he said so on his attestation form, and to a Roman Catholic suicide is a mortal sin.
DEARLY LOVED YOUNGEST SON OF
WILLIAM JOHN & MARY AINSLEY
OF 1, ST JOHN'S GROVE, LEEDS
Donald Ainsley, was a clothiers assistant in Leeds, as was his father, although at the time of the 1911 census the father is recorded as 'not working'. Donald was killed on 25 September 1916 in the Battle of Morval, the attempt to secure the ruined villages of Morval and Lesboeufs.
William Applegarth served in the Machine Gun section of the Coldstream Guards and was killed in action at Combles on 17 January 1917. Born in Casterton, Westmoreland, a fact recorded by his mother in the War Grave Commission's records, where their father was a farmer, the family had moved to Scorton in Lancashire by the time the war broke out.
His younger brother, John Oliver Drouet Applegarth, was killed in action on 9 October 1918 and is buried in Forenville Military Cemetery. His inscription reads:
SON OF W. AND M. HALL
George Hall worked at Pleasley Colliery before he enlisted in September 1914. The family wrshipped at St Barnabas Church where George sang in the choir. The Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser reported that a few days before going into battle he sent his mother a beautiful card with the words 'God be with you 'til we meet again'. He was killed on the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1916, in the Sherwood Foresters attack on the Leipig Salient.
His elder brother James Northage Hall died on the Greek Island of Lemnos of dysentry on 9 December 1915. His wife assures him in the inscription she chose that he was "Gone but not forgotten", even though she was now married to someone else.
3RD SON OF RICHARD ROSS
RUTHERFORD, ROXBURGH, SCOTLAND
Dickon Ross was the third of Richard and Emily Ross's five sons. James, the eldest, a Scottish rugby international who played for the London Scottish and the Barbarians, was killed on 1 November 1914. Dickon was killed on 25 September 1916 and Thomas, fatally wounded on 4 November 1918, died on the 13th, two days after the Armistice.
Their father, Richard Ross, farmed over 1,000 acres around Maxton in Roxburghshire. However, father had died in 1908 and Emily Ross moved from Rutherford Farmhouse, Maxton to Sherborne in Dorset. Nevertheless, she thought of Maxton as her sons' home and although James had no grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate, both Dickon and his brother Thomas's inscriptions reference Rutherford, the place where they were born.
FLINTSHIRE, N. WALES
Ffinnon Groew, now more usually spelt Ffynnongroyw, is a small village on the Flintshire side of the Dee Estuary. Albert Trevor Jones was born here in 1897, as were his brother and sister after him. His mother was born in the nearby village of Mostyn. Their father, head teacher at the local elementary school, came from Camarthenshire, the village of Ponteyberem in the Gwendraeth Valley. Father confirmed the inscription, the family's address, where the name of their house in Ffinnon Groew is the name of the valley in Camarthenshire where he was born.
Private Gott's surname is so very place specific that it was hardly necessary to record his address on his headstone. To this day the greatest number of Gotts are still to be found in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the Bradford (BD) postal code area. Gill Top is no more than a hamlet, a small cluster of cottages just ouside Cowling.
Gott's father, who confirmed the inscription, must have considered Gill Top as his son's true home even though the Craven Herald, in a report on his death, says that George William Gott had "resided for some time with his aunt, Mrs Wormwell, at Aireview, Cononley". Before joining the army Gott had worked as a traveller for Messrs Lowcock and Sons, clothiers in Skipton.
William Gott joined up in January 1916 under the Derby Scheme. In the summer of 1917 he was invalided home with dysentery and spent six months in hospital in Bournemouth and then several months convalescing in North Shields. He returned to France in March 1918 and was killed on 13 April when he was hit in the stomach by a piece of shrapnel.
SON OF F.G. DAVIDSON
OF SUEZ, EGYPT
"For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led an attack across the open in daylight to take a strongly fortified 'stop'. His attack was successful and enabled the whole trench to be seized and consolidated. He was twice wounded."
Award of Military Cross to Lieutenant GL Davidson
London Gazette 25 August 1916
The above action took place on 9 July 1916 during an attack on the Quadrangle Support between Mametz Wood and Contalmaison. The British held the trenches but Lieutenant Davidson's wounds were serious and he died two days later at the Casualty Clearing Station in Heilly, Mericourt-L'Abbe.
Gerald's sister, Helen, signed the form confirming his inscription. It's not clear whether their parents were still alive or were still living out of the country. FG Davison, the father, was an agent for P & O and before working in Suez he had been in Singaore where it appears that all the children were born. Before the war Gerald and another brother, Francis, worked in Manila for Messrs Smith, Bell & Co, shipping agents. Their eldest brother, Robert, worked for Messrs Boustead & Co in Singapore. Robert served with the Devonshire Regiment and was killed in action on the first day of the battle of the Somme, just ten days before Gerald succumbed to his wounds. Sister Helen chose Robert's inscription too:
Late of the Malay States
Of Gerald Davidson
NB The spelling of Phillipine in the inscription is as it was signed for on the form.
MICHAEL & MARIA O'DONNELL
BANIXTOWN, CLONMEL. BORN 1884
The O'Donnells were a prosperous Roman Catholic farming family from Fethard, County Tipperary, Ireland. Their eldest son, Percy, who gave his profession as 'bank official', enlisted on 17 August 1915. He was comissioned into the Royal Field Artillery on 1 September 1915 and left for France on 18 November, arriving in the fighting lines on the 24th. He was wounded six months later at 'Clapham Junction' in the Stirling Castle Sector of the Ypres Salient, and died of his wounds, "compact skull injury" in No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station, Lijssenthoek at 9.45 pm on 6 May 1916.
The O'Donnells lived at Bannixtown House, mispelt in the inscription as Banixtown, where in addition to farming they bred horses.
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, where O'Donnell is buried, is one of the great witnesses to the tragedy of the Great War. The town, a few miles behind the front line and close to the Poperinghe-Hazebrouck railway, was the site of four big Field Hospitals and four Casualty Clearing Stations with a total of almost 4,000 beds bewtween them. Nearly 10,000 patients, soldiers wounded in the fighting, are buried in the cemetery. The town has developed a Visitor Centre and website for which they have collected, and are collecting, personal information about those who died. Much of my information on Percy O'Donnell comes from this site. Particularly poignant is a a list of personal effects returned to his family, amongst which is a protractor - he was an artillery officer - a chapelet, identified further as a rosary, and some flowers "1 of wax, smashed."
ONLY BELOVED SON OF
OF GEORGE AND LOUISE ALMAS
HAMILTON, ONT. CANADA
Ernest Almas enlisted in Toronto on 17 December 1915, served in Flanders with the 38th Battalion Eastern Ontario (Ottowa) Regiment and "Died of wounds (shrapnel wounds, face, right arm, shattered shoulder) at No. 11 CCS" on 31 October 1917.
HUSBAND OF HELEN N. BARCLAY
COBDEN ST., LOCHEE
John Easton's next-of-kin was his wife Helen N Easton of 55 Cobden St, Lochee, Dundee. I am assuming that the Helen N Barclay mentioned in this inscription is the former Mrs Easton now remarried, or perhaps Barclay was her maiden name and she reverted to it. Either way, is it slightly odd that Driver Easton's widow should draw attention to this fact on her husband's gravestone?
THE DEAR HUSBAND OF
PEACE PERFECT PEACE
Alfred Davison was a 'mine putter' who worked in Ryhope Colliery, Sunderland, the mining town where he was born and where his mother and father had been born before him. A mine putter was the person who pushed the wagons from the coal face to a horse or mechanical haulage road. In the 1911 Census Davison gave his occupation as 'water leader', someone who clears water from the mines. On 29 January 1916 he married Ethel Trusty and their son Robert Trusty Davison, was born on 9 January 1917. Alfred Davison died on gunshot wounds to his face and hands in No. 8 Stationary Hospital, Wimereux, France on 10 October 1918, just one month before the end of the war. I am grateful to Trevor Davison's Family History File on Ancestry for much of this information.
"Peace, perfect peace", a very popular inscription, is a quote from a hymn, which I have written about here
OUR DEAR SON
OF ST. JOSEPH'S RECTORY
FELL NEAR BAPAUME
LOVE NEVER FAILETH
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:8
American Standard Version 1901
William Lawrence Hutchinson was born on Barbados in 1899 where his father, the Reverend William Gordon Hutchinson, was the Anglican priest-in-charge at St Philip-the-Less. In 1910 father moved to St Joseph's on the east of the island. Both parents remained on Barbados until they died, father in 1942 and mother, Priscilla, in 1947. The surviving children inscribed their parents' memorial in St Michael's Cathedral, Barbados with the same quotation that the parents had chosen for their son, William Lawrence: "Love never faileth".
IN MEMORY OF THE DEAR SON
OF MR. AND MRS. HILLS
OF ALBANY, AUSTRALIA
Charles Hills was born in England, in Norwood, Surrey where his father was a carrier on a farm. The family emigrated to Australia in 1911 and settled in Albany. Charles enlisted on 4 March 1916 and sailed for England on 11 August that year. He took part in the battles of Pozieres and Bullecourt, where he was wounded on 11 April 1917 and spent three months in hospital in England. Returning he fought in the battle of Bapaume and was killed in action on 29 March 1918.
SIR HENRY & LADY HEPBURN
OF BRADNINCH, DEVON
Educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College, Cambridge, Roger Hepburn had just graduated with a 1st Class degree in Natural Sciences when war was declared. He and three friends, who were all still up in Cambridge during the Long Vacation, immediately left with their motorbikes to join the BEF as despatch riders. Two of them survived the war but Hepburn, who was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in May 1915, survived the Somme but was hit by a shell on 1 August 1917 and died of wounds in Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinghe two days later.
Paul Hepburn was the youngest son of the late Sir Henry Hepburn, formerly Chairman of Devon County Council. The family, who owned Hele Paper Mill, which produced high quality paper used for bank notes throughout Britain and the Empire, lived at Dunmore House, Bradninch, Devon.
BELOVED SON OF
C. AND E. GREEN
BURRA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
"Green was badly wounded - shot through the head and fell beside me. After being bandaged he was carried to the Dressing Station and on their return the bearers told me he was dead."
Private J. Davy to the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau 14.10.1918
"I saw above named on a stretcher just after he had been wounded (about 9 pm) at Merris. I spoke to him, S/B Wright (No 452) of same Battalion) bandaged him up. The face (mouth portion) had been blown in."
L/Cpl J McFarlane to the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau 21.10.1918
"I saw Pte. (sic) J Green fatally wounded by shell while holding the lines in front of Merris on the 30th July 1918 ... The ground was held."
L/Cpl W Bartch 14.10.1918
"3333 Pte. (sic) Green H.T. 10th Bn. died of wounds at our Dressing Station Borre at 5.45.a.m. on 30/7/18. Wound received was S.W.skull compound fracture. He was unconcious on admission and died soon after. Burial took place at Military Cemetery Borre same day."/ Signed by Major, Acting CO 1st Australian Field Ambulance, [signature unreadable]
Harold Green's elder brother Edward Owen Green "died of accidental injuries" near Tripoli in Syria, according to his father when he filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia. Edward Green is buried in Bierut War Cemetery in the Lebanese Republic. His inscription, which was signed for by his father rather than by his mother as Harold's was, reads:
Beloved son of
C. and E. Green
Of World's End
DEARLY BELOVED SON OF
MR AND MRS ROBERT ANDERSON
James Anderson was a farmer from the small community of Coominya in Queensland, which even today has scarcely more than 1,000 residents. He enlisted on 9 September 1915 and embarked for Europe on 11 May 1916. He died of shrapnel wounds to his left leg in No 10 Casualty Clearing Station, Lijssenthoek, Belgium.
BELOVED SON OF
H.C. AND I. RAWLINS
13 GROVE PARK, LIVERPOOL
"In the early morning of 15 March Lance-Corporal B.L. Rawlins, this very capable N.C.O. in charge of the Battalion Engineering Section, was out in front of the trenches on the right of the sector putting out barbed wire. At this point the enemy's trenches were only about 80 yards away and he was seen and mortally wounded by a sniper. Captain Ronald Dickinson, O.C."X" Company, in front of whose trench Rawlins was lying, wished to go out himself to bring him in but was forcibly held back by his men, who would not allow him to take the risk. Four men, Lance-Corporal A.G. Davidson, Privates W.W. Howarth and J.L. Wallace of "X" Company and Private S.G. Gibson of the Engineering Section, at once went out and under heavy fire brought Rawlins in."
The Liverpool Scottish
SON OF A.B. AND MARY PAIRMAN
OF THE OLD MANSE, BUSBY
This is another biographical inscription. James Pairman's mother was a widow. Was she simply stating the facts when she recorded that he was a Chartered Accountant or was this a matter of some pride for her? James Pairman is commemorated on the Glasgow University Roll of Honour as well as that of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He was killed on the third day of the Battle of the Somme during fighting round the Leipzig Salient.
ARTIST, OLDHAM, LANCASHIRE
Joseph Franklin Kershaw studied at the Royal College of Art and is commemorated on their war memorial. He was born in Oldham, where his father was a prosperous ironmonger, and educated at Oldham Hulme Grammar School. Oldham Library and Art Gallery have three of his paintings, and there is one in the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport's Collections. These paintings can be seen on the BBC's Your Paintings site.
Kershaw married in 1908 and it was his widow, Effie, who confirmed his inscription, even though the War Graves Commission doesn't mention her in its register, simply saying that Joseph Franklin was the son of Joseph and Hannah Kershaw of Oldham. I wondered whether there was some antipathy between Joseph Franklin and his parents over his marriage because the 1911 census gives Effie's age as 42, which would have made her 16 years older than her husband. However, the cemetery register for Backup, where Effie was buried on 31 March 1966, gives her age as 85. This means that although she was a couple of years older than her husband she certainly wasn't 16 years older than him. In 1911 the couple were living in Fulham but when Effie Kershaw filled in the War Grave Commission's form she was living in St John's Cross, Storth, a remote house on the shores of Morecombe Bay. Private Joseph Kershaw is commemorated on the Storth war memorial too.
IN MEMORY OF
MY DEARLY LOVED ONLY CHILD
MARYBOROUGH, VIC. A.
"My dearly loved only child." Note that Lance Corporal Cross's father uses the word 'my' not 'our'. This is because Frederick Harley Cross was a widower and now his only child was dead.
IN BRIGHT SOUTH AUSTRALIA
DIED DOING HIS DUTY
I completely misread this inscription thinking that bright was an adjective describing South Australia. I rather liked the idea that William Meyer's parents wanted to contrast the sunny land of his birth with the rain and muddy fields of Flanders where he died. But I was completely wrong because Bright is a proper noun, the name of the town where he was born.
William Meyer's great-great niece has uploaded photographs and information about him to the RSL Virtual War Memorial, which tells us more about this farmer from the township of Hilltown, near Clare, who died in Belgium "doing his duty". However, it doesn't mention the fact that whilst he gave his religion on his enlistment papers as Methodist, his father, Johann Heinrich Friedrich Meyer, had him buried under one of the War Graves Commissions' Jewish headstones, which are clearly marked with the star of David. One has to assume from his names that Johann Meyer was of German or Austrian extraction. Is this why he emphasised his son's Australian birth and commitment to duty on his headstone?
FOND SON OF
REVD. ALFRED G AND MRS ROGERS
OF GATTON RECTORY, SURREY
Educated at Charterhouse and Merton College, Oxford, Wilfrid Rogers was already serving in the Royal Field Artillery at the outbreak of war. He went to France with the Expeditionary Force in August 1914 and was severely wounded in May 1915. Two years later he was killed in action whilst in command of the 45th Battery, 42nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. After hearing the news of his death, the padre, the Revd Oswin Creighton, wrote, "The Major was one of our very best, Rogers - a young fellow of twenty-seven. I had unbounded admiration for him, and his death is a bitter blow".
OF BREAMORE HOUSE, HANTS
KILLED AT NEUVE CHAPELLE
12TH MARCH 1915. AGE 25
Sir Edward Hulse, his parents' only son, inherited the baronetcy in 1903 at the age of 13, after his father killed himself. Educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, he was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards in 1912 and went with them to France in August 1914, transferring to the Scots Guards in November. He was killed during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.
In a letter of condolence to Sir Edward's mother, Lieutenant Archibald Jarvis, as the senior surviving officer in the company, described what happened.
'We were attacking a position held by the enemy and had to cross some open plough to get into some support trenches, and while doing so the Commanding Officer, Major Paynter, who was directing the operations, was badly wounded and lay in the open. Slightly before he was struck, your son had gained cover behind a shallow trench, and upon learning that the Commanding Officer was hit, without hesitation went to see if he could render him any assistance, and in so doing was killed. He died instantly and suffered no pain whatever.'
In 1916, Sir Edward's mother privately printed a collection of her son's letters, 'Letters written from the English front in France between September 1914 and March 1915' . These include one written on 28 December (28/11/14) describing in detail Sir Edward's experience of the Christmas truce.
BELOVED ONLY CHILD OF
RN AND MRS WEEKES
OF MODBURY DEVON
Nineteen-year-old Reginald Weekes, 10th Squadron RFC, was 'killed in aerial action returning from a bombing expedition'. His father, Captain Reginald Newton Weekes RAMC, was also serving in the war, as a surgeon at the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham. I find it interesting when families feel the need to record who the casualty was in terms of their relationship with him, and to say where he lived. All this is recorded in the cemetery register; but not, I suppose, the fact that he was 'beloved' and not that he was his parents' 'only' child. For Captain and Mrs Weekes these were important details.