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.

St Mary Bourne Men Proceed On Active Service

 

Andover Advertiser 1915

ON ACTIVE SERVICE – The list of non-commissioned officers and men from St Mary Bourne who are proceeding on active service in 246 Company Army Service Corps, serving under Lieut. Col. H. L. Cooper, commanding 29th  Divisional Train, reads ;- Sergeant Henry Charles Woolford Hibberd, Sergeant William Moorse, Corporal William John Penny, Driver Alfred William Randall, Driver Alfred Cook, Driver Ewart Culley, Trumpeter Ernest Charles Randall.

 

[Margaret] Angela Boys

margaret boys 001 - Copy

from Mrs Spankie’s Scrapbook taken at the time of her engagement

[Margaret] Angela Boys surveyed the kitchen table, which was now covered in the débris from her efforts to ice the christmas cake. This was the first time she had attempted such a thing, and she had been anxious to finish the job before the cook returned to work the next morning.

This would also be their first Christmas at Bourneside*, and she was determined to make it as normal as possible for her father, whom she felt responsible for, now that her mother was not with them,** and her brother Geoffrey was a prisoner of war, having been captured at the Battle of Mons. Of course, one of the reasons they had come to St Mary Bourne was that her Aunt Lucy (Boys Miley) was living at Haven Hill, which was in easy walking distance, and they would probably be having lunch with the Mileys on Christmas Day.

boys family2But she really ought to begin at the beginning, as Miss Jarvis, the headmistress of Conamur had always reminded them. Born in Kensington in 1897 to [later Sir] Charles Vernon and Marion (nee Pollock) Boys, Angela had been sent like other girls of her class to boarding school, latterly in Sandgate, Folkestone. The writer Jocelyn Brooke described Conamur as:

The building at the end of the Riviera later became the Marine Hotel… the school inculcated a breezy and strenuous optimism…Corot and Greuze hung on the walls, while the singular flora of Art Nouveau, sprawling water lilies and fleur-de-lis, burgeoned unexpectedly in corners. Little girls in sage green djibbahs were perpetually tearing breathlessly to and fro as though the school were run on the lines of a military detention barracks.

SandgateConamurSchoolAdAngela was now seventeen and had returned to look after her father and run the household in the absence of her mother and older brother. Some days like today she felt very grown-up and responsible, but at other times – as she would admit only to herself – she felt rather alone and in need of mothering herself. Hill House formerly Bourneside

Bourneside was a large house for the two of them and her father spent much of his time in his study;  it was going to be up to her, she could see, to make some sort of life for them in the village, particularly as he very often returned to London mid-week. She missed her brother very much, even if he did tease her as all boys teased their little sisters, she supposed.

The Bourne Valley was pretty, and seemed rather quaint after London and even the relative sophistication of Folkestone. The house had been built some time between the 1882 Ordnance Survey map, which simply shows fields, and 1907, when it is recorded in property sales. At the time of the Tithe Award in 1841, the land was owned by the Herbert family, owners of Stoke Farm.

Angela gave a final, satisfied look at her cake – well, the cook had made the cake, beginning of course on Stir-Up Sunday, but she had made it beautiful. Even if she did say so herself.


 

Notes

* Bourneside is NOT to be confused with the house in the village street of that name. At this period, what is now Hill House was called Bourneside. The following is the extract from references to Bourneside in the Hampshire Record Office’s online catalogue.

Bourneside 1914

** Charles and Marion Boys had been divorced in 1910

Led Up The Garden Path By Laurus Nobilis

‘The Laurels’ – Doctor’s House (now demolished)

This post is an anecdotal aside about the peripheral perils of local history investigation, meandering along roads not adopted, climbing up eucalyptus trees, and finding oneself up creeks without a paddle.

On this occasion, your correspondent was lured into a lengthy, if arcadian, detour by no less an adversary than the doughty Laurus Nobilis, in search of the residence of the village doctor, known from the 1901 census to be residing at ‘The Laurels’. Following, no doubt unconsciously, in the footsteps of Charles Pooter, there were apparently other villagers who also thus named their residences.

At any rate, one such was Dr William Alexander Slater Royds. Misled by the ambiguous steer of his daughter, Kathleen Innes, we had taken her comments to mean that the doctors lived in the same house as did she, after her marriage to George Innes. We thus in turn unfortunately misled our readers

InnesFinally, serendipity took pity on us and led us to browse, once again, our collection of old post cards – Eureka! Realising it might be a mistake to emulate Archimedes in running through the streets of the village naked from our morning bath, we share our rapture with you instead through the written word, deeming it less likely to end in arrest and incarceration.

Doctors house

Ordnance Survey 1875

The doctor’s house is on the right hand side of the map, parallel to the road, to the left of ‘676’. It has since been demolished and replaced with two modern houses. We are told there was a small doctor’s surgery in the grounds – this seems likely to be the pink rectangle next to the winterbourne stream.

 Farewell To Dr Royds and welcome to Dr Cardwell

Dr Thomas Cardwell moved into the house some time in 1914, according to Kathleen Innes, so we shall assume that this was before Christmas. According to the directory of the General Medical Council, he qualified in 1882, and obtained the MRCS and LRCP (Edinburgh 1885).

Fred and Frank Day

Andover Advertiser

4th December 1914

FROM BELGIUM – We regret to announce that Mr and Mrs George Day
of Lower Rank, has this week received official information that their
eldest son Fred, of the 1st Hampshire Regiment has been missing since
3rd October. The information bears the usual formal notice that this
does not mean that he is killed or wounded, but might have been taken
prisoner or cut off from his regiment. Mr and Mrs Day have another son
on duty with the forces, but this one, Frank, of the Wessex A.S.C. is at
present in the home camp.

Kate And Her Able Seaman – Part One – by Win Bourne

New Barn Cottages

New Barn Cottages – it would probably have been one like this

1911 census Loader

Kate Loader Turnell remembered clearly the first time she saw George Turnell. It was 1906 and she had been shopping in St Mary Bourne for her mother when she saw her older brother Freddie chatting to a strange young man. As she approached, her brother smiled and said:

‘Here’s my sister, I’m sure she will agree that we can make another place at the table tonight’.

George turned around smiling, and Kate was instantly struck by the colour of his eyes – they were almost cornflower blue. He wasn’t a tall lad, well only a couple of inches taller than her, but he gave the impression of being strong and confident. He explained that he was on leave from the Royal Navy and had heard that his father was living somewhere in the village so had travelled, unsuccessfully, to find him.Twenty year old Freddie had taken such a liking to him that he had invited him to eat that evening and probably stay overnight until he could journey back to his base, which was in Portsmouth. He felt sorry that the lad had had a wasted journey and felt sure that their parents wouldn’t mind.

The Loader family lived in New Barn Farm cottages, just out of the village, and beyond the viaduct, on the Harrow Way. Dad was a carter on the farm, as were his sons, Freddie and 14 year old Bert. Kate, who was 17 years old, helped her mother in the house and garden and did seasonal work on the farm.

loader map

Fred was correct in assuming that his parents would be happy to include the wandering matelot into their home and later, after they had enjoyed their evening meal, George was encouraged to recount stories of his experiences in the navy.

He told them he had dreamed of being a sailor since childhood and had enlisted at fifteen years of age, his first opportunity, as a boy cadet. He had spent his first year in training in a place called Portland – an island attached to Weymouth on the Dorset coast.

At first he was on a ship docked in the harbour, called the HMS Boscawen – an elderly three decked sailing ship – where he had been taught the rudiments of seamanship. Following that he had progressed, still in Portland Harbour, to the HMS Minotaur and then finally to HMS Agincourt.

HMS EclipseOn completing his training he had been allotted his first seagoing draft on the ship the HMS Eclipse. After numerous trials, where they seemed to sail around in circles in and out of Portsmouth harbour, the commission really started. He told of his first scary voyage across the Bay of Biscay where the ship was tossed like a cork in the tumultuous seas and the crew had to hang on to ropes and rails down below and were not allowed above decks for fear of being swept overboard, many of them being violently sick. George described the change of the waters when the ship left the ocean and sailed into the warmer, calmer climes of the Mediterranean. He spoke of lying on the top deck of the ship, with a warm breeze, no land to be seen – just a myriad of stars in a midnight sky.

He told them of his first sight of the Rock of Gibraltar and how, along with some of his crew mates, he had climbed the huge rock and seen the apes up there and been surprised as they swung out over the precipice to retrieve a bun or some such. The crew members had all been warned before going ashore, to hold on to their hats and leave nothing loose for the mischievous apes to grab. This had been his first port of call on foreign soil, to eat foreign food and hear foreign language being spoken – and he had loved every minute. The HMS Eclipse had called at many ports along the Mediterranean; he remembered hearing the clanging of church bells across the water before docking in Malta. The ship travelled through the Suez Canal and beyond – all the way to China.

He talked long into the evening of other voyages and Kate and her brothers were enthralled and even more amazed when he took off his jacket, rolled up his right sleeve to reveal a picture – a tattoo of a Geisha girl. The family had seen people with tattoos before but never in such vibrant colours. The youngsters begged him for more tales, but as he had to leave early the next day to get back to his ship in Portsmouth it was time to sleep, though he promised to visit them again when he had leave.

The next time George came to the village there was no pretence about looking for his father. The Loader family welcomed him and treated him as member of their family, and he was so grateful, having known none before.

His visits were irregular, according to whether he was based on shore or was at sea. Whenever he did come back, he regaled them with more tales of his excursions across the world, occasionally bringing them small gifts that he had bought in foreign ports.

He started writing to Kate and she readily replied. On his following few stays it became apparent that, though the sea was his first love, he was becoming smitten with her – and she with him. Sometimes Kate did not see him for months and gradually their romance had blossomed, mostly by post. When he did come home they walked out regularly and became a familiar sight arm in arm in the village, attending church and visiting friends.

They had written frequently, their letters becoming more affectionate as the months went by, and when George arrived in St Mary Bourne for a short weekend, after a very long absence, Kate was overjoyed to see him. When the family had greeted him and then returned to their daily chores he suggested they went for a walk together, and as they walked George asked her to be his bride. Kate had been so happy to accept his proposal. The following day they had arranged to be married in St Peters Church on his next leave.

Before he went back to his ship after his proposal, George told her he had a surprise for her, he rolled up his left sleeve to reveal- yet another tattoo of a geisha! This time the girl had – not the coal dark almond eyes of Japanese – but round green eyes similar to Kate’s own.

When he had gone back to Portsmouth she discovered a beautiful card on the mantelpiece- once again with a picture of a geisha.

Inside it read “My darling, I may have the geishas on my arms but I will always have you in my heart, George xx”

In the following few weeks Kate had busied herself with preparing to become Mrs Turnell soon, with her family’s blessing. She remembered thinking -here she was at 21 years of age in 1910 – about to become married to her handsome blue-eyed seaman – life had looked so exciting!

1911 census turnell

 


Note

There is some mystery about the identity of George Turnell. Although it says on his naval papers, and is repeated on the 1911 census, that he was born in Kew and his father’s name was also George, no trace of the birth of such a person can be found in the usual genealogical sources. There is a George Turnell son of George born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire at about the right time which could conceivably be him but this is of course speculation. One possible explanation might be that he was illegitimate, or an orphan, which might explain why he had gone to sea at such an early age. (Also speculation!).

The tattoos, however, are absolutely real and form part of his naval record ‘Japanese girl on right arm’ and then a couple of years later ‘Japanese girl on left arm’.

Most of the cottages for New Barn Farm have been rebuilt; this is one which would have been there in the Loaders’ time, but we do not know whether this was the exact one they occupied.

Ed.


 

Win

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Capture

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

Freddie The Errand Boy: by Win Bourne

bike 001

Kindly illustrated by Jeanette Davies of St Mary Bourne

 

Although thirteen year old Freddie (Frederick John Randall) didn’t spend a lot of time with his older brothers, he was very proud to boast that Alfred, the eldest, had already enlisted in the Territorials and was in training to go to war, and that Albert and Ernest, who were a couple of years younger, were keen to sign up too.

Freddie knew that his Mum and Dad were worrying about Alfred joining the army and even more so if his younger brothers did too. They sincerely hoped that this war would not last long and that the boys would come home safely so that they could get back to their normal lives.

The farm labourers – including his Dad – were working extra hours in Alfred’s absence, for though the harvest might be finished, there was always plenty of work to be done on the farm. Each day more young men left the village to answer the call, so the workload for all those remaining became heavier.

Freddie – along with most boys of his age – had not attended school during the harvest. Because this was one of the busiest times in the farming calendar, everybody – women and able-bodied children – were expected to help.

Now back at school, he still had his chores to do. He worked as an errand boy at the grocer’s shop, in place of Ernest, who now worked on the farm with Dad and his brothers. Freddie delivered provisions all through the valley on the grocer’s bicycle with the huge basket at the front – to the big houses, to the vicarage, and to those customers who were unable to carry bulky items. Having been in St Mary Bourne all of his young life, he knew everybody – where they lived and now – what they ate.

Some of his school friends must have been envious of him with his lovely job and of the few coppers he earned.

As he cycled passed Mrs Medhurst’s bakery, he would take a long sniff to inhale the lovely smells emanating from the shop.

At this time of the year (early autumn) Freddie and his pals would pull their home-made trolleys up to Wakeswood and into the woods, or Baptist Hill to collect any burnable fallen branches and fir cones found in the hedgerows, to store for the winter for the fires at home.

Sometimes he would sit his sister Florrie on the trolley on the way there, and when they reached the top of the hill by the Spring Hill turning, she would get off and pick blackberries to take home for Mum to make jam, or maybe a pie for Sunday tea along with the apples from the tree in the garden. There were also hazel nuts to be collected before the squirrels found them all.

Coming back down the hill was quite a task, every branch had been carefully loaded and the bundles tied down, however the weight of it and the steepness of the road threatened to hurtle the trolley downhill without him. The boys would take it in turns to help one another to the bottom

With this task completed he and Florrie would return home to their daily jobs. They would collect the eggs from the chicken run, wash them and take them indoors and put them in the larder. Sometimes if there were plenty, Mum would put the eggs in a basket outside the back door for sale.

Freddie would chop up kindling wood, fill the log basket with dry logs and take it into the kitchen ready for the next day, while Florrie helped Mum in the kitchen.

Often as he returned to the shop, having completed his deliveries, there would be a huddle of wives and mothers outside discussing the latest news of the village – which son, brother or husband had enlisted – and wondering how the families would manage without them, not just the labour but the money they earned too.

 


Notes

Although we have no independent corroboration of Frederick doing his brother’s grocery run, it seems highly likely that this is in fact what happened. Their father worked on a farm according to the 1911 census and the harvest meant extra money for all who could help. With so many having left for the front, extra hands would have welcome, and (relatively) well paid. But Ernest would have been older and stronger than Frederick, hence their all moving up a step. Ed.

Win