William Gibbons killed on 1 September 1918


From the Andover Advertiser, 25 October 1918

Much sympathy is extended to Mr and Mrs Henry Gibbons on the loss through being killed in action of their youngest son, William, at the age of 24 years.  On 12th January 1915, he joined the A.S.C. but was later transferred to the Somerset Light Infantry, in whose ranks he fell.

He had been in France for more than 3 years, and had not had leave for 12 months, so that his relatives were eagerly looking forward to seeing him. Their hopes, however, were blighted about a fortnight ago when the War Office wrote to say that he was killed on 1st September.

Mr and Mrs Gibbons have three other sons serving: all are in France, and it is our sincere wish that they will be spared to return.

At the parish church on Sunday, a memorial service was held for the deceased, also for Hector Hibberd, whose death in France we reported recently.

Bertie George King Is Killed At Neuve Chapelle: by Win Bourne

bertie 001

Killed in Action  aged 27 at Neuve Chapelle.
Listed on Panel 44 at La Touret Memorial, France

Bertie was born in 1890, the only son of Alfred G King and his wife Elizabeth (known as Kate) nee Aslett. They had a daughter Dorothy who was just a year old when Bertie made his appearance. The family lived in Newbury Street, Whitchurch and his Dad was a bricklayer. Kate gave birth to two more   daughters, Ethel in 1892 and Alice Daisy in 1893.

Sadly, within the following few years, baby Ethel perished and then both parents passed away, so the three children were separated and raised by various family members in Whitchurch.

Eleven-year-old Bertie lived with his paternal grandmother of 72, Emma King (who was a laundress), and his Uncle John, a bricklayer’s labourer, in Newbury Street. Both 13-year-old Dorothy (known as Dolly) and sister Alice Daisy (aged 7) were looked after by their maternal grandparents, George and Mary Aslett in London Street, along with their cousin Albert Edward Aslett, who was also 7 years old. So the siblings at least remained within easy walking distance of each other.

Ern + Emily King (RHS) at cress beds

Ernest and Emily King at watercress beds in 1920s, from SMB history CD

Granddad George worked on the watercress beds in what came to be a family tradition.As they grew up, the girls continued to live and work in Whitchurch, while Bertie began working at the watercress beds in Hurstbourne Priors, lodging with the Redman family in rooms, part of the house called Crystal Abbey, on the opposite side of the road in the 1911 census. (Was the name a joking reference to the Crystal Palace?)

Crystal Abbey

Extract from 1936 sale map of part of the Portsmouth Estate. Courtesy Hampshire Record Office 15M84/3/1/4/6

At the onset of war Bertie went to Winchester where he enlisted as a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion. Rifle Brigade. His regiment took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle which began on the 10th March 1915 when he sustained fatal injuries.

His sisters looked in disbelief at the cold facts of his listed possessions, the last bit of paper summoning up the way officialdom looked at him:

Personal effects Bertie George King

Sydney Gunnell Killed in Action 23 November 1914



Andover Advertiser 11 December 1914 courtesy of http://julz-ancestralresearch.me.uk/?p=801


Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium
Identified Casualties:

Historical Information

Lancashire Cottage Cemetery was begun by the 1st East Lancashire (who have 84 graves in it) and the 1st Hampshire (who have 56) in November 1914. It was used as a front line cemetery until March 1916 and occasionally later. The cemetery was in German hands from 10 April to 29 September 1918 and they made a few burials in it during that spring and summer. The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.

sidney gunnell birth cert 001

Original Birth certificate scanned and reproduced by permission of JN

sidney gunnell in memoriam poster 2 001

Scanned and reproduced by kind permission of J N


Further background on Sydney Gunnell can be found on this blog’s previous post here, and the detailed post by Julie Muirhead here.

Frederick George Day Killed in Action 2 November 1914

001 (5) - Copy

leanne bell war memorial pto in booklet

Village War Memorial courtesy of Leanne Bell

DAY_FREDERICKFrederick George Day is officially recorded as having been killed on this date, but his family (and the village) were not informed until December. Details will be covered in a later post.

‘No Objection To Few Cows’

The Inter-War Years

A Creighton reservist seeks position as groom with few cowsA Creighton reservist seeks position as groom with few cows - CopyA. Creighton prided himself on always being ready, willing and able. And he needed the money. But what a come down! To think that he, a Lance Sergeant of the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers should have had to turn his hand after the Boer War to odd jobs around the village – from cavalry to cows….

The Boer War


Arthur Creighton Boer War service - Copy

source: Find My Past

Arthur Creighton Boer War service

And who was ‘A. Creighton’? Well, it was a bit of a tease as there were two ‘A. Creighton’ brothers in their family, both of whom signed themselves thus, and both of whom were in the army – the deliberate blurring of the edges would continue on the roll of honour with both being listed as A. Creighton. They were the sons of David (from Hungerford) and Martha (from Norfolk) and the eight children had been born in assorted places between here and London until the family had more or less settled at St Mary Bourne at the turn of the century. David moved from farm to farm, following the work.

The 6th Dragoon Guards

But this one was Arthur, born in 1876 in Medstead. He was one of those who was relieved to be back serving King and Country and had been among the first to rejoin. He was now with the 6th Dragoon Guards and they had got in right at the start, with the British Expeditionary Force at Mons.

Harry Payne posstcard of 6th a

Harry Payne postcard of 6th Dragoons WW1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Payne_%28artist%29

At 37, he was getting a little long in the tooth for soldiering, admittedly, but was glad to feel he was doing something important and useful again, though tramping round northern France had none of the exhilaration of life in South Africa. He had been so in love with the country that he had married the girl – Christiana M Kuhn – in 1910, and they had had a daughter, Mabel very shortly afterwards. Both were in married quarters in Canterbury, waiting for him. But, when the war was over, they would all go back to God’s own country and farm, at least that was the hope that would sustain him throughout the war, however long it lasted.

Medal card for Arthur Creighton


We know about his marriage to Christiana through the army index of overseas marriages. Whether she had temporarily slipped his mind (or the ‘single’ was an army clerical error), while Arthur had rejoined the army in 1911 she was living in army married quarters in Canterbury with their daughter Mabel, aged three months!

‘The Commonweal’ by T. Campbell Hardy

thhe commonweal

CaptureBill Smith, he sat at his garden door, and puffed at the old black clay [pipe]; his neat little missus was there at his side, and the kiddies, too, at play. ‘So help me! It’s good, old gal’, sighed Bill, ‘this hour at the end of the day.’

Hans Schulz stood under the linden tree, and told in the old, old way a tale of love to the trembling lips of a fraulein. And poets say ’tis a tale that is told the whole world o’er in that hour at the end of the day.

And a message came from the Lord Knows Who, and summoned them both away to take their guns the Lord Knows Where, and to hell with the dire dismay of Bill’s little missus and Hans’ pretty Schatz, in that hour at the end of the day.

You’d think homely fellows like Bill and Hans would chum if they met. Strange to say, they lay on their bellies like crawling things and blazed and blazed away. Though they hadn’t set eyes on each other before, they blazed and blazed away.

And Billy sent Hans to Kingdom Come, and Hans sent Bill and his band. And Bill’s little missus and Hans’ pretty schatz, they never could understand. But Lord, what do womenfolk comprehend of the way to govern a land.

Note: Yes, this is doggerel, but I find it none the less effective for that, and I hope you do too.

The Dog Days Of August


Aztec effigy of a dog made available under Creative Commons Licence

It had been the strangest August any of them could remember.

William Penny looked reflectively out of the window that morning at Egbury Castle Farm, which he had put his back into since marrying Harriet Mundy and coming here in the late 1860s. He was now seventy-five years old, and had passed most of the farming work on to his two surviving sons, Reginald and Ernest. But you could be sure he kept a pretty close eye on what they were up to, and there was little that escaped his gaze.

Egbury ‘Castle’ was so called after the prehistoric camp (Castrum) which had been discovered nearby, where Roman coins had been found. It pleased William to ponder that this land had been farmed, probably continuously, for thousands of years.

The month had begun unusually enough with the declaration of war, no one was quite sure why. Well, yes, someone had to stick up for the Belgians and the French weren’t much good at defending themselves against the Germans, so it was inevitable really. But since then, nothing. Well, almost nothing. It was always a quiet time of year when time seemed to stand still, the ‘Dog Days‘ from 16th July to 24th August. Some mammals hibernated, but personally he was all for aestivating.

The newspapers were still delivered, and he was well aware that the war was indeed up and running – the British Expeditionary Force had been defeated at Mons and had had to retreat. Not a glorious start. But so far the effect on the day to day life of the village was nil, it seemed to him.

Five of the village lads had set off to re-join their regiment but, until last week, they had been marching up to the top of a Winchester hill and down again to a Harrow plain, so far as he could make out. They had finally arrived at the front in time for the fighting at Le Cateau, so from now on it would begin to have real resonance for St Mary Bourne.

Mind you, they had got some City clerks in to help with the harvest, that was a significant result of the war – pasty-faced and puny to a man, it took about three of them to do what a Hampshire man could do in a trice, and they kept complaining they were tired and needed a rest. If Britain ended up having to rely on physical specimens like that, heaven help us all!

Egbury Castle Farm2William Penny did not know it, but there was to be a similar atmosphere twenty five years later, in 1939, when this period was described as ‘the phoney war‘.

Mobilising a whole country, not just the armed services, for war is rather like asking a tanker to do a 180° turn – it takes a while to put into effect.

Although, as we shall see, St Mary Bourne was indeed insulated from some of the effects of the war, it would come to seem very real as time went on.