Sinking of HMS Lynx – St Mary Bourne Casualty

Andover Advertiser September 1915

CASUALTY AT SEA – One would hardly believe that a brief Admiralty announcement like the following would carry any significance to little village like St Mary Bourne – “H.M.S. Lynx (destroyer) struck a mine in the North Sea and sank on August 9th  (Monday). Four officers and 22 men were saved.” But this vague statement brought suspense to at least one home here, and the following letter which reached Mrs Turnell of 4 Neasden Cottages, on August 12th, brought much sorrow, telling as it did of the death of a loving, kind and considerate husband, father and son :- “I regret to have to inform you that H.M.S. Lynx was sunk on the 9th inst, and that the name of George Turnell, rating A.B, official No. 206844, who is believed to have been on board, does not appear on the list of survivors received in this department. In these circumstances it is feared that in the absence of any evidence to the contrary he must be regarded as having lost his life.” Mr Turnell, who was 31 years of age, had put in 16 years service in the Navy and had never had a bad mark against him, so that it can be said in truth he bore an excellent character. Ever since the fateful August 4th  1914, his thoughts were always for those he had to leave behind as evidenced by the regularity of his letters to his wife, who had never to wait more than 11 days for news, and even this short stretch was a forced one owing to the letters being kept back. The King and Queen have expressed their sympathy with the relatives. We understand that the deceased always prophesied his death at sea. On Sunday evening a memorial service was conducted at St Peter’s Church by the Rev. P. E. Binns, when there was a large congregation. A similar recognition service took place at the Wesleyan Chapel, where Mr Gilbert Culley made sympathetic reference to the sad loss. Mr Leonard Gibbons sang the solo “Not now, some day we’ll understand.”

 

Roll of Honour Tally 100, 6 Killed

Andover Advertiser 21st May 1915

WITH THE SERVICES – Mr and Mrs Sellwood, of this village, have five sons serving their country.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR – The local roll of honour now contains 100 signatures. The tragic toned echoes of the great European war were wafted to this village for the sixth time on Monday, bringing with them the sad news of the death in action of James Pike, whose widowed mother resides at Lower Rank. This makes the sixth brave son who has laid down his life for those at home, the five preceding names being as below : Frederick Day, Sidney Gunnell, Harold Moorse, Edwin Pike, Walter Sims, from which one is reminded of the saying “It never rains but it pours,” for this casualty is the second one in the same home. The little village had previous to the war seven men on the reserve of the 1st Hampshire Regiment, and up to the time of writing only one remains unbeaten in the game of war. Private James Pike was killed on April 26th. A letter received by his bereaved mother dated April 19th said he was quite well, but was afraid that he would not be able to write so often owing to being shifted. On the 25th ult., or one day before his death, the usual official postcard also stated he was quite well. Like his other village comrades who have passed beyond the veil, Jim had seen service in South Africa, where he spent six years. On returning home he went to a Darlington factory to work, and had been there over two years. Here a good job was being kept open for him if he could have returned. He leaves a widow and a baby boy.


 

Note – by Mike Willoughby? – James Pike born March 1884 Whitchurch H 2c 207 son of Albert and Ann Pike nee Gibbons. (they married December 1872 Whitchurch H.2c 426) Brother Herbert five years his senior and Edwin two years his senior. James married Hilda Harrison March 1913 Darlington 10a 24, they had a son Herbert born March 1914 Darlington 10a 65. According to his medal card James arrived in France on 23rd August 1914.

Gerald Holbrooke Killed In Flanders May 19

ANOTHER CASUALTY – The deepest sympathy will be felt with Mrs Holbrooke, of Stoke, whose youngest surviving son, Gerald, was killed in action in Flanders on May 19th. Gerald Howard Holbrooke had led a most adventurous life. He was born in 1879 and educated at the Rev. J. G. Gresson’s Preparatory School, Worthing, and at the Queen’s Service House, Portsmouth. Failing to pass into Sandhurst, he went to South Africa and was farming there when the war broke out. He at once enlisted in the Natal Mounted Police and was present at all the engagements leading up to the Relief of Ladysmith. At Colenso, where he was galloper to General Clery, he had his horse shot under him, and he was wounded at Pieter’s Hill. After the war he went to Madagascar, East Africa and India, wherever adventure was to be found. Later on he went to Canada and after serving in the North West Frontier Police, he bought land and settled down. On the outbreak of the present war he was one of the first to offer his services. He was offered a commission in the 2nd Canadian Contingent, but wanting to get to the front as soon as possible he enlisted as a private in the 18th Canadian Scottish and was present at all the severe fighting around Ypres, when the Canadians so distinguished themselves. He came of a military family which has been connected with the British Army for more  than 150 years. His great grandfather Captain Bernard Holbrooke helped raise the old 97th Foot in 1759 (now the 2nd Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment) and with them served on the Continent in the Seven Years War, and was present at, and wrote an account of the Siege of Velle Isle in 1761. His grandfather Captain Frederick Holbrooke, served with the 13th Foot (now the Somerset Light Infantry) in Sir Ralph Abercrombie’s campaign in Egypt in 1801, and was present at the battles. He afterwards exchanged into the 14th Light Dragoons, now the 14th King’s Hussars. His father the late Rev. F.G. Holbrooke of Kimpton, served for some years in the old Gloucester Militia, and was just starting for the Crimea when peace was declared. Both Mrs Holbrooke’s other sons are now at the front, Major Bernard Holbrooke, 129th  Baluchis, who was recently wounded at Ypres, and Major P. L. Holbrooke, D.S.C. R.G.A. who won his decoration a few weeks ago in France. Her youngest son Captain Cecil Holbrooke, R. A. M. C. died in India in 1900. Both Mrs Holbrooke’s grandsons are also at the front. Lieut. Austin Williams, 38th  Lancers, Indian Army, and 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Williams, Army Service Corps.

 

 

The Village Celebrates the Grand National

GN1915What a day it had been! Eleanor Black-Hawkins allowed herself a fortifying whisky and soda as she recalled her the Ladies Committee’s success…

It had been a miserable winter, which seemed to go on and on. The war, which was supposed to have been over by Christmas, seemed stuck in the trenches of France and Flanders but showed no signs of ending any time soon. Casualties from the village were beginning to mount up. Money seemed short, and every family missed the strong arms and backs of their young men now at the front.

The Committee had wondered from the beginning whether there was some way they could lighten the load of their fellow villagers, without being patronising Lady Bountifuls. It had been her idea to organise a sweepstake for the Grand National on Friday 26 March, with prizes for everyone who had a horse.

The details had been discussed endlessly as various possibilities were considered at length before being dismissed as impracticable. Finally, it had been agreed that the prizes would be in the form of hampers.

Lady Portsmouth was the obvious first person to approach. She had been very generous, as always, but was a little uneasy about the link to gambling. She therefore decided not to grace us with her presence on the day, but had written the committee a very large cheque. This had enabled us to buy the contents from the village shops, and the big farms had given chits to be exchanged for a pig in due course.

The idea was that the tickets were to be given away – obviously the last thing we wanted was for people to spend money that was scarce and then not get anything in return. Charitable giving is certainly a complicated business! They had roped in Albert White of Barford, who loved to get his teeth into this sort of problem, the job of giving everyone in the village one ticket and no more.  It had been slightly trickier to persuade the Ladies Committee that they themselves should not have tickets (think how embarrassing it would have been if one of us had won a hamper!) . FHB was the rule of the day.

A radio with loudspeaker had been rigged up at the ‘refreshment rooms’ at Fourways and on the morning of the race everyone gathered in the Summerhaugh. All the tickets, with names written on the back, were put into a large copper and drawn out one by one, using the starting prices from the newspaper as a guide to the likely outcome:

6/1 Irish Mail
7/1 Lord Marcus
9/1 Silver Top
10/1 Balscadden
10/1 Father Confessor
100/9 Bachelor’s Flight
100/8 Ally Sloper
100/7 Bullawarra
25/1 Distaff
25/1 Alfred Noble
25/1 Jacobus
33/1 Denis Auburn
33/1 Ilston
33/1 Thowl Pin
40/1 Hackler’s Bey

There was great excitement as the race got under way:

Ally Sloper took off too early at the second fence, landed on top of the obstacle and all but unseated Anthony who, amazingly, was hauled back into the saddle by his brother Ivor, riding alongside him. The horse made another serious blunder at the first Canal Turn , but regained his feet and continued progressing steadily until the last fence where Anthony pulled him out for an effort that saw him fight past the leader Jacobus and score a two-length victory, with Father Confessor a further eight lengths back in third. Appropriately, in the era of the suffragette movement, Lady Nelson became the first female to lead in the winner.

Pos. Horse Jockey Owner
1 ALLY SLOPER Mr J R Anthony Lady Nelson
2 JACOBUS A Newey Mr C Bower Ismay
3 FATHER CONFESSOR A Aylin Lord Suffolk
4 ALFRED NOBLE T Hulme Mr T H Barnard
also BALSCADDEN F Lyall Mr C Bower Ismay
also THOWL PIN W J Smith Mr F Bibby
also BLOW PIPE W Smith Mr A Shepherd
also HACKER’S BEY Mr H S Harrison Sir T R Dewar
also SILVER TOP S Walkington Mr A Browne
also IRISH MAIL Mr L Brabazon Mr Eric Platt
also BULLAWARRA C Hawkins Mr J M Niall
also BALLYHACKLE S Avila Mr K F Malcolmson
also ILSTON I Anthony Sir G Bullough
also DISTAFF E Piggot Sir G Bullough
also LORD MARCUS G Parfrement Lord Lonsdale
also THE BABE R Chadwick Mr F Bibby
also St MATHURIN II T Dunn Mr Adam Scott
also DENIS AUBURN J Reardon Sir G Bullough
also BACHELOR’S FLIGHT H Harty Mr F Barbour
also BAHADUR Mr P Roberts Mr W Gore Lambarde

It had all worked out better than she dared hope. Of course, there were some disappointed faces, but the tea and buns which had been laid on meant that everyone (even the Ladies Committee!) got something out of the day.

Next year, Eleanor thought she might find herself in London…


Note on sources:

I do not know whether there was any attempt to celebrate the Grand National as a village.

se non è vero, è ben trovato?

Harold Moorse and Walter Allen

St Mary Bourne men killed - Moorse

Andover Advertiser 26th March 1915

News has been received that Private Walter Allen, of this village, is at present in hospital at Chelsea suffering from wounds received near the Aisne. We are pleased to note that the wounds are not dangerous.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR – The village has now to lament the loss of the fifth of its brave sons who has sacrificed his life for his country. Mr W. C. Moorse received the saddest news of his life, that his son Harold, 2nd Lieutenant of the York and Lancaster Regiment, was killed in action on the 18th inst. The deceased was originally a schoolmaster with the rank of sergeant in the Hampshire Regiment in India. A short time ago it was reported that he had received a commission and was transferred to the regiment in which he met his death. He had been with the colours just over seven years, and was 25 years of age, so that it can be said that his tasks on earth had been rewarded according to the merits of a real soldier and man. Mr Moorse has three other sons in the Army. Two of these left for the Dardanelles (perhaps we had better not say when) while the other is at Netley Hospital. A telegram couched in the following terms has been received by the father of these military sons from Buckingham Palace :- “The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the Army have sustained by the death of your son in the service of his country. Their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow. -Private Secretary.” – On behalf of the large number of readers who hold the bereaved family in such esteem, we also feel it a privilege to offer our deepest sympathies. – On Sunday evening after evensong at the parish church, a short memorial service was held. The Rev. P. E. Binns spoke from the text 1 Thess. Iv. 13

 

 

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

THE FORGOTTEN YEAR: 1915

Defence-In-Depth

by DR NICK LLOYD

2015 is the hundredth anniversary of one of the most important, yet little remembered, years in the history of Britain and her armed forces. Often overshadowed by the rush to war in 1914 and the momentous offensive on the Somme in 1916, the battles that the British Expeditionary Force fought on the Western Front in 1915 (as well as the tragic Gallipoli campaign in the Mediterranean), were a key stage in the development of modern warfare.

In France and Belgium, the British fought in a variety of offensive and defensive actions throughout the year, most notably at Neuve Chapelle (10-12 March), Aubers Ridge (9 May), Second Ypres (22 April – 25 May), Festubert (15-27 May) and Loos (25 September – 13 October). Of these, the battle of Loos was the biggest. When it was fought it was the largest land battle in British military history, witnessing…

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St Mary Bourne School – A new term in 1915: Win Bourne

1882 school

Headmaster Evans looked out of the classroom window pensively. He wondered just how many children would arrive at the school gate this miserable, cold January morning. He wouldn’t blame the young ones if they stayed at home in the warm. But then he knew that, in some cases, they would be warmer in school than they would in their homes, so he had ignited the fires in the classrooms very early that day in an effort to remove the chill.

He knew from previous years that the numbers would be lower than they should be as some children may have no coats, some no boots- some lacking in both, poor little souls. Even in the finer weather the older children were often missing from class, the girls being kept at home to look after their younger siblings while their parents were both working in the fields or farms, and the boys working alongside their parents – all to earn a few more shillings.

According to the law, if children did not attend school for any reason bar illness, he was supposed to inform the attendance officer, Mr John Page. But he knew in his heart that he wouldn’t do that – times were so difficult for families in the valley at the moment he had no intention of causing them more problems.

John Henry Evans had been teaching at the St Mary Bourne elementary school since 1896 when, at the tender age of 33, he arrived with his widowed mother Anne. He had been born in Bridgend, Glamorgan to Anne and her husband David, a blacksmith in the town.

In October 1905 he had married his wife Victoria in Pontypridd, Glamorgan, and brought her to live at the school house. She was a Somerset lass 7 years younger than him and in 1910 they had a lovely son called Owen.

As he stood at the classroom window, John reflected on his past years at the school, remembering some of the pupil’s faces as they had first appeared. The Sellwoods, the Randalls, the Bunces, the Allens and many many more – all had sat cross-legged in rows on the classroom floor- some in the old school across the road – singing their alphabets and chanting their times tables.

As the terms progressed the children had grown in stature, as well as in their knowledge. Some had thrilled him with their academic capabilities, or their musicality, while others were totally non-academic and couldn’t wait to attain the age that they could leave school and start earning a living.

Years later – he remembered with a smile – he had been walking along the street towards St Peter’s Church with his wife and son, when a confident young man, driving a horse and cart, greeted him with a huge smile and said “Morning Sir, Ma’am” as he tipped his cap to them and he had recognised the lad as being one of his old pupils.

He remembered standing at Summerhaugh and listening to the Salvation Army band playing. The young girls among the crowd were singing along with the band, while the lads stayed self-consciously yet nonchalantly at the back by the George Inn. As the boys tapped their toes to the songs, he recognised that they were similar to the tunes that he had taught most of them himself at the Sunday school when they were small.

Still in a reflective mood, he reminisced another, more recent occasion, when, once again at Summerhaugh, he had observed Lt Col Cooper speechifying to the lads, encouraging them to “Take the King’s shilling and answer the call to arms”.

Suddenly, coming to his senses and the reality of this cold January morning, he realised that the classroom was filling up with steaming, thawing, small children. He looked at his watch and said to himself “Oh well, I’d better get outside and ring the school bell or some of the stragglers will be late for assembly”

“No Mr Page,” he thought to himself ” you can stay in the warm behind your shop counter – you’ll get no call from me this morning.”

Kate And Her Able Seaman (Part Two): by Win Bourne

St Mary Bourne centre 1930 via English Heritage

 

Christmas 1914 was over and Kate Turnell (née Loader) was very worried because she had not received any news from her beloved George in weeks. They had married in the summer of 1910 in the village church, St Peter’s, and she was used to his absences when he was at sea. She knew that, though he loved being in the Navy, his heart was with her and that he would be at her side as soon as possible.

 

Kate used to set aside a couple of hours twice a week to write to him and had regularly received loving replies which she looked forward to enormously. Now the war had been going on for months, and although the gossip in the village had once been that it would be all over before the festivities began, there was still no sign of a cessation.

 

Until recently George had been relatively safe and sound as he had been based in HMS Vernon – onshore in Portsmouth – had been able to get home to her quite often. Since he had embarked on the ship HMS Lynx in June this year, however, she had no idea where he was or when she would next see him. On his last weekend leave he had seemed subdued and not quite his cheerful self, though he gave no explanation for this. In the latest letter she had received from him when the ship had gone to sea, all he could tell her was that it was heading ‘somewhere in the North Sea’.

 

Both of Kate’s brothers, Freddie and Bert, had recently joined the Army and were now in training and would probably be serving somewhere in Europe very soon. They had both looked forward to ‘doing their bit’ for King and Country along with their pals, much to their Mum’s and Dad’s mixed feelings.

 

Kate had gone back to live with her parents at the cottage in New Barn Farm: staying and helping them seemed to be the most sensible thing to do while George and her brothers were away, though she still rented a small cottage nearby for when her husband came home.

 

On Sundays, when Kate attended services at St Peter’s with her Mum and Dad, it had become noticeable that there were fewer young men in the congregations and that the parents and sweethearts of the lads were subdued. After church some folk were discussing letters that they had received from their older sons in which they had described the dreadful conditions in which they were fighting.

 

Even though these were professional soldiers, many having fought previously in the Boer War, they had never experienced the long, cold nights with continuous driving rain, the muddy trenches in which they huddled being permanently pumped out. They wrote of the horrors of seeing their comrades injured or even dying alongside them.

 

The villagers had heard of the death of Sidney Gunnell in Flanders,  and were sympathetic to the worried parents and family of Fred Day, also serving in Flanders, who had just been notified by the authorities that he had been ‘missing’ since October and had now been pronounced dead.

 

The parents and wives of the younger men, who had been so keen to enlist and were now in training, were dreading the thought that their loved ones might soon be living under similar horrid circumstances.

 

Mothers and wives were busy at home knitting warm balaclavas, scarves and gloves to send to the front in an effort to give the boys some comfort. Fathers and brothers were working the extra hours to compensate for their absent sons and siblings. After all, animals still needed feeding, milking and shoeing and fields still needed to be worked on. No matter what was going on in the rest of the world, life in St Mary Bourne and the rest of the valley had to continue as well it could until their men returned.

 

Kate prayed that 1915 would bring peace once more.