Sydney Gunnell Killed in Action 23 November 1914

 

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

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Locality:
Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium
Identified Casualties:
253

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


Note

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

Some Mother’s Son: George Andrew Bacon Kent

Mother or grandmother urging son to enlist

To the army he was George A. Kent. Private George A. Kent of the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. To be blunt, to the army he was cannon fodder.

But to Emily Bacon Kent, he was her first-born, her beloved son Andrew. The ‘George’ had been to please her father, but he had never been called anything but Andrew by his family and friends. She looked at this latest effort to get young men to sign up, by recruiting their mothers and grandmothers to shame them into it, and she felt physically sick.

She would have done no such thing, but of course she hadn’t needed to – Andrew was recorded by the Andover Advertiser as having joined the war effort by mid-October with another 60 from the village.

Kent, AndrewKent George AndrewThe 2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment had only eight months in India when war broke out. On August 31st it was directed to leave Mhow at once for Bombay to take over from the Sherwood Foresters. The Battalion stayed at Colaba (where they removed ammunition from a ship on fire in the dockyard) until the middle of November, when the 1/7th Hampshire relieved them. In all 21 officers, 43 sergeants, 15 drummers, and 816 rank and file boarded the Gloucester Castle on November 16th and headed for England.

Emily was desperately worried about what would happen to her son, and whether he would survive the war. The village had just had news of the first casualty, Frederick Day, and no doubt others would soon follow. Winter was fast approaching, and she was worried about his keeping warm. She didn’t know where he was – his whereabouts were apparently a matter of national security.

She tried to concentrate on the difficulties of those at the front, and not dwell on her own pain. She tried to concentrate on her husband and other two children, and remain cheerful. But it was not easy – for one thing, those at the front had bursts of danger and fear in the middle of battle interspersed with quite long periods of waiting in relative safety for the next thing to happen. But for the families sitting at home, there was no such respite, the fear was constant. It was corrosive, and, if she let it, it would paralyse her completely so that she could not undertake even the simplest domestic task.

More than ever, she was grateful for The Hurdler’s Arms, the Binley pub which she ran. Grateful because she was never alone so long as it was open, and grateful that it forced on her a routine which absorbed much of her time. She would just have to keep her head on, and concentrate on doing that to the best of her ability so that she simply didn’t have time to think about anything else.

G A B Kent family tree

Frederick George Day Killed in Action 2 November 1914

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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.

Dr William Alexander Slater Royds: Community Pillar and Successor to Dr Stevens

Cricket team SMB 1906 main pic 001

Village Cricket Team 1906 courtesy HG

TitleNamesThe St Mary Bourne cricket team for 1906 look remarkably glum for a group of people who had just won the village league challenge cup. Perhaps the photographer was one of those annoying professionals who spend so long  perfecting their work that they have long since left their sitters behind in a slough of despond.

Dr Royds, as the president of the cricket team, sits in the centre of the group, looking as thoughtful as any. Perhaps he was thinking of his daughter Dorothy, who had died just the year before at the age of nineteen. Perhaps he was thinking of his son William, who had apparently taken to heart the injunction ‘Go West, Young Man’, and seemed destined for a life in the Americas. Royds family

 

Or perhaps he experienced one of those sudden presentiments – within ten years most of the young men surrounding him would be at the Front, fighting for their country and their young lives.

One of those who would go to war was his own son, George Freeman Royds, who  in due course would have a distinguished war in Mesopotamia, but as a professional soldier had been in at the start.

George Freeman Royds 2nd Lt

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abaHe considered himself lucky, in a way, to have the compensations of his profession to keep him from dwelling too long on the sadnesses of his life – there were too many things to be done and people to be attended to.

dOCTOR'[S HOUSE KATHLEEN INNES vILLAGE STORY

Extract from ‘A Village Story’ by Kathleen Royds Innes 1955

SMB doctors by KaTHLEENB INNES ST M B RECORDS

Extract from ‘St Mary Bourne Records’ by Kathleen Royds Innes 1947

Portway

Post script: WRONG HOUSE! This is where Dr Royds’ daughter lived on marriage to George Innes, not the Doctors’ house – see post of 7 December 2014 https://stmarybournegoestowar.net/2014/12/07/led-up-the-garden-path-by-laurus-nobilis/

 

At Her Wits’ End

CaptureCapture2Emily Collins Davis had had enough.

She knew you were supposed to count your blessings, but just for once, she was going to count all the things that were wrong with her life. In no particular order then:

New Housekeeper’s Duties

As if it weren’t enough being at war, the government had now apparently decided it needed us to write everything down in triplicate as well. Rations. Fuel orders. Shopping queues. The only thing that she wasn’t bothered about from this list was winter milk, as she assumed the village would manage that as it normally did.

Eldest Son Gone to War

This of course was uppermost in her mind that morning, but somehow all the other little worries made it even worse.

Capture DavisHis real name was Charles George, but of course as her husband’s name was Charles he was always called George. He had been got at by that Colonel Cooper and signed up for the reservists in the Army Service Corps like lots of his friends – with the result that of course he was among the first to be called up.

CaptureShe relied on George – the census form said he helped on the farm, but the truth is that he was the man of the house now that her husband was really getting too old to manage the farm and everything else.

George had told her that being a driver was one of the safer occupations as they were not directly  involved in the fighting. That sounded logical, but she didn’t really know whether to believe him, she knew he would have said anything to stop her worrying.

She did miss him already, not only as a shoulder to lean on but as a real companion.

A MOther’s Loss

CaptureThe census was so bald, so black and white, it reduced the whole of her life to statistics. ‘Married to the same man for 35 years, by whom she had borne 14 children, only 8 of whom had survived to adulthood’. Almost as many had died as had lived, there was nothing else to say and she had no tears left to weep.

The Forge and the Cottage

the forge

The Forge, courtesy of Basingstoke and Deane’s Conservation Appraisal

Emily and Charles had lived in the cottage next to the forge ever since their marriage – Charles had taken over from her father, William Collins, in about 1860 (making her subsequent marriage to Charles a foregone conclusion as far as her father was concerned). And William Collins had inherited the forge from his mother,  Sarah, who had subsequently married William Day, the owner shown on the Tithe Award in 1840. Charles had worked as everything from blacksmith and farrier, building contractor, farmer and agricultural equipment agent. But she had always been in charge of the paperwork, and quite a responsibility it was too, keeping track of that little lot.

Counting her blessings

Emily did feel better after that little rant, and supposed that she should now count her blessings. First, she was grateful that they had no real money worries thanks to her father’s and husband’s hard work over the years.

She did love all her surviving children. She knew she must devote most of her attention to those that were still with her, rather than the absent. She would think about George every day he was at the front, but it would not be fair to the others to mourn him in advance.

Also, although arthritis was a daily challenge, she remembered her neighbour’s comment: Do not regret growing older; it is a privilege denied to many.

‘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


Notes

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!

Private Frederick George Day of the 1st Hampshire Regiment

001 (5) - CopyElizabeth Day Purver‘s heart went out to her brother George, and his wife Sarah Ann (née Smith). His Frederick, the eldest of their three sons, had been summoned by the army and was now on his way to the front with his battalion of the Hampshire Regiment.

She was very fond of her nephew, although he was another one putting romantic notions of regimental life into her own little Frederick, whom she sincerely hoped would be too young to be embroiled in this war, at least.

She was also moderately fond of her sister-in-law, although she came from an old Hurstbourne Tarrant family, the neighbouring village. This was only three miles away, but the two villages had always regarded each other with some suspicion. It was rumoured that the vicar of the day in Hurstbourne Tarrant had once gone round the bend, and the villagers had had an earnest discussion about whether the situation was so bad that it merited walking to St Mary Bourne every Sunday –  which would perforce involve worshipping ‘amid the alien corn’. Though one or two had made the weekly pilgrimage, most seem to have decided that worship led by a mad vicar was preferable to being surrounded by the ‘queer folk’ of Stoke and Bourne.

In the case of the Smiths, it was a little more complicated as Sarah Ann’s grandfather, William Smith, had married a Sarah Holdway and his father, Thomas,  in turn had married another Sarah Holdway. And the Holdways were definitely a St Mary Bourne family. A few had strayed into Hurstbourne Tarrant, but none had achieved the worldly success of the Bourne Holdways – they had always remained the poor relations, even though there had been Holdways in Hurstbourne since James, born in 1582, so you would think they had plenty of time to establish themselves…of course it was always possible that it was the other way round, the Hurstbourne Holdways could have colonised St Mary Bourne. Hmmm, not sure what she thought of that idea. And she must stop day-dreaming and get on with the practicalities of her life…


A note on sources

These are sparse! We do not have access to Frederick George Day’s service records, unfortunately, other than his medal card, which gives his regimental service number (7422) and the date he arrived at the front, of which more later.

Edwin and James Pike of the 1st Hampshire Regiment

It was a rather sad household that sat down to tea that evening in Lower Rank. Ann Gibbons Pike had just seen her two middle sons off to war – again. Edwin and James were reservists thanks to their previous service, so of course they were the first to be called up as soon as this new war in Europe had started. They had both gone in Eli Goodyear’s cart to Andover station with the others, on their way to the depot in Winchester and then to the front. Edward had been in the 1st Battalion for ten years now, and James had joined him, having been in the 2nd Battalion and the Bedfordshires. What a handsome couple of lads they were, weren’t they, even allowing for a mother’s prejudice?

001 (6) - Copy001 (4) - Copy

 

She had given each boy a prayer book with some comforting hymns at the end of the book when they had signed up. It was a comfort to her at least to think this might be of help to them in all the dangers and troubles that they would see. Oh, drat! She had promised herself she would not cry.

James Pike's bible

Ann presumed that her eldest two children, now in London, would be exempt. Sydney was a signalman on the railway, and the Government could hardly send all of them off to war or they would have all the trains in England running into each other. And Mabel’s husband was already forty-six years old  – Ann had always tried to steer her away from ‘the older man’, but her daughter’s foibles had now turned into a blessing.

Twenty years ago, she and Albert had lived under one roof with their five children and now only she and young Herbert remained. How did the saying go? ‘My son is my son till he finds him a wife, but my daughter is my daughter for the rest of her life.’ Well, it hadn’t worked out like that exactly – she hardly ever saw Mabel, and had only seen her little grand-daughter Edith once, soon after she was born, when Mabel and Alfred came down by train to see her (and Mabel’s friends).

But Herbert had not yet found himself a wife, and might never do so. So they would just have to keep each other company in the days and nights to follow.


A note on sources:

1. The photograph of James Pike’s bible is shared with the History Group by his family who now live in the house in the Egbury Road that he did.

Walter Sims: Reporting For Duty on Wednesday 5 August

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courtesy of Andover Advertiser, via Mrs Spankie’s Scrapbook

What a day!

As a reservist, Walter Sims had been among the first to be recalled to the colours. That sounds rather noble, but in fact he and the four others from the village had piled into Eli Goodyear‘s waggon pretty unceremoniously, without time to say much of a proper goodbye, as he had volunteered to drive them to Andover railway station. But of course their friends had waved and cheered, and made a great fuss of them.

As it happens, he had managed to say goodbye to his father, also Walter but called ‘Wallie’ for short. He had been ill with bronchitis for months, and at the good age of 86, had gone to meet his Maker last Sunday. After yesterday’s news of war, Walter had been able to bring forward his burial to early this morning so as to be sure of being able to attend and pay his final respects.

And, scarcely having had time to gather his thoughts, this afternoon he was sitting in a waggon with four other chums from the village, on their way to the battalion depot in Winchester to be licked into shape for a couple of weeks: then they would be off to the front. Only yesterday, he had been expecting to spend this week out in the fields, helping with the last of the harvest. And he had been looking forward to supper at The Plough Inn afterwards, paid for by the farmer!

Walter was of course sad at his father’s death, but in truth he had seen little of him in recent years. When he had gone off to the Boer War 1 in his twenties, his parents had remained together with his younger brother Sidney. But by the time he returned, his father had moved out to live with Sidney at a farm in Andover Down, about six miles away, and his mother had decided to stay in the centre of St Mary Bourne. Walter had not yet married, and had naturally stayed with his mother, and now it was her that he was worried about. He could help her a bit financially now that he was back in the army, but he would never forget the look on her face as she hugged him farewell, and he knew she had been wondering if she would ever see him again. Perhaps she would take his father’s place in Sidney’s home in Andover Down, though he now had a wife, and he was not sure how wife and mother might get on under the same roof. But all her friends were in the village. Maybe she might persuade Sidney to come back to St Mary Bourne. But he had begun to carve out a future for himself there, and would not want to return. And so it went on, turbulent thought succeeding anxious worry. It was worse that there was nothing that he could do, not for the foreseeable future.

Walter shut his eyes, and tried to blank out, more or less successfully, all that was going on around him. That was one thing he had learnt from the last time, how to create a little world of your own into which you could retreat from time to time, during the long periods of waiting, waiting…


 A note on sources

1 No documentary evidence has yet been found of Walter’s service in the Boer War (partly, at least, because Walter Sims was a common name at the time). However, he is said by the Andover Advertiser to have served six years in South Africa,  there is no trace of him in the 1901 UK census, and he would not have been called up at this early stage if he had not already seen military service.

2 We know from the war diaries of the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment that they did not embark from Southampton for Le Havre until 22 August, two weeks three days later. Presumably the intervening time was necessary to assemble the reservists, re-train and re-equip them – it would have more than a decade since most of them had seen active service.

I am indebted to Twitter for this reference to James Daly’s blog, and this post:

The 1st Hampshires in the First World War: Le Cateau

When war was declared the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment was part of the 11th Brigade, in the British Army’s 4th Division. They were originally based in the garrison town of Colchester, but moved to Harrow. It was earmarked to embark for Europe as part of the British Expeditionary Force as soon as war broke out. Later in the war at Ypres and the Somme the Territorial and Kitchener Battalions bore the brunt of the fighting, but in 1914 the BEF comprised regular, pre-war Soldiers.

The 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment left Harrow at 12.20am on 22 August 1914, bound for Southampton. At 7am half of the Battalion and the Headquarters embarked on the Breamaer Castle, and the other half on the Castrian. At this point, most of the men were no doubt hoping that the war would be over by Christmas.

Elizabeth Day Purver

Google view Bourne Valley

Google view

Elizabeth Day Purver felt a sense of dread. She had just come home from a late summer’s walk on the hills above the village, and had enjoyed the glorious view. But the talk everywhere for the past several weeks had been of war.

Elizabeth had married a soldier: Joseph Purver had signed up in 1891 and served for twelve years in the Scots Guards. They had married at the Whitchurch register office on his return from the Boer War, in 1902.  Joseph resigned from the army in 1903, saying he was tired of battle – he called her ‘the warrior’s rest‘ – and, though the money wasn’t as good, he took real pleasure in returning to village life and working as a woodman.

h_boer1He was a good and kind man and had welcomed her ‘little mistake’, Frederick Day, born in 1900. In fact he treated him like his own son, and Frederick adored him. Not that it took much to set Joseph off – on winter evenings around the fire, he would launch into his reminiscences of the beauties of the South African veld, the comradeship of the men and the brotherhood of the regiment. Joseph had a real gift for story-telling and Frederick was entranced, as were the two children they had had together, Edwin (born in 1903) and Violet (born in 1909). If it should come to another war, Elizabeth hoped that her husband (born in 1870) would now be too old, and her son too young, to be drawn in.

Upper Wyke Farm (now Manor) SP11 6EA

courtesy Google View

Elizabeth’s great uncle, William Day, had been born in Itchen Abbas, but had come to live in St Mary Bourne when he married Sarah Piper, from an old Bourne Valley family. He had farmed at Upper Wyke (according to the 1881 census on 572 acres employing 13 men and 5 boys). His nephew, James (Elizabeth’s father) moved into a cottage on the farm and worked as a shepherd. He had never achieved his uncle’s prosperity, having been born after the collapse in farming income. Elizabeth kept house for her father and brother until becoming Mrs Purver.

Elizabeth felt very much part of the village, but her husband could trace his family tree on his father’s side back to the 1600s in these parts. His mother had been Elizabeth Fifield, the daughter of Joseph Fifield who ran The George Inn on behalf of Mrs Neale.

But the Purvers had originally been ‘purveyors‘ based in Andover, well-established merchants. And in 1702, Joseph’s great great great great grandfather, Anthony Purver, had been born in St Mary Bourne. Although born illegitimate, and beginning his life as a shepherd as had Joseph, Anthony had taught himself Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic and gone on to re-translate the bible from scratch. And in 1764 it had been published, and became known worldwide as ‘The Quaker Bible‘. When the Purvers set themselves a task, there was no holding them!

Elizabeth was not a great bible-reader herself, and they had chosen to get married in a registry office rather than have to put up with sermonising by the vicar about her own love-child. But she was crossing her fingers and asking whatever divinity existed, if it did, to spare her family from having to fight in another war.