Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sentimental Sunday: Gig Racing

A great many things have changed in Newquay, as elsewhere, in the years since the Great War.  One thing that would be familiar to our 89 Heroes are the local gigs in the bay.  Gigs are rowing boats that were originally used to ferry pilots out to ships.  Rival crews would compete to be the first to reach a ship.  Nowadays gig racing is sport, carried out almost exclusively within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  Newquay has its own very successful rowing club.

Today as the dog and I made our weekly trip up to the War Memorial I realised that the harbour was thronged with people and remembered that today was the annual gig racing championship.  Several of the men I have researched were seafarers and I bet they would have appreciated today's action.

I snapped a few photos - here they are:

Saturday, 24 September 2011

T Penhorwood

Thomas Penhorwood
Born 1888 at Egloskerry  Killed in Action 10 May 1915 at Aubers Ridge
Pte 1970 25th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
Enlisted at Newquay

Thomas Penhorwood was the eldest son of  Lewis Penhorwood and Marthwas a Lundrey/Laundry.  He was born in 1888 at Reddown, Egloskerry which is near Launceston.  The Penhorwoods had two more sons; James Henry born in 1892 and Samuel born around 1902.  

Lewis Penhorwood was born on 22 May 1858 near Saltash, the son of Lewis and Jane Penhorwood. Lewis Junior moved to the Launceston area around 1880, working as an indoor servant on a farm at Egloskerry.  For a number of years he was an agricultural labourer, both before and after his marriage to Martha.  By 1911 Lewis had moved up in the world and was farming on his own account.

Martha was from North Hill near Redruth.  Her father Thomas was a gamekeeper.  By the 1880s Martha was working as a servant for a draper in Launceston and marrying Lewis on 7 April 1887.  Martha died in October 1907, Lewis remarrying three years later.

Thomas must have moved to the Newquay area sometime before 1911, (only the youngest son, Samuel, was living at home with Lewis and stepmother Jane and James was an apprentice carpenter in Broadwoodwidger). Thomas by this time was a police constable, living at the County Police Station in Newquay. .  He joined up fairly swiftly; his medal index card showkng that he arrived in France on 5 November 1914.

Thomas joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to the 25th Field Ambulance, designated 2nd Wessex and attached to 8th Division.  In May 1915 8th Division were part of the Battle of Aubers Ridge and it would appear that this is where Thomas met his death.  I can't better this summary of the Battle by J Rickard, so here is it:

The battle of Aubers Ridge was a British contribution to the Allied spring offensive of 1915. It was fought over the same ground as the battle of Neuve Chapelle, 10-13 March 1915, but failed to achieve even the temporary successes of that battle.

The British attack was to be launched by General Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army. It was intended to send in two attacks, to the north and south of Neuve Chapelle, with the hope that the two attacking forces could meet up behind the German front lines. Haig had requested extra artillery to increase the strength of the 40 minute bombardment planned for the morning of 9 May, but all available artillery reserves had been sucked into the fighting at the second battle of Ypres, still raging just to the north.

The British attack on 9 May was a total failure. The Germans had greatly strengthened their lines around Neuve Chapelle after they had been overrun during Neuve Chapelle, and the British artillery bombardment was simply not heavy enough to destroy the new German lines. 

The battle of Aubers Ridge fits the popular image of a First World War battle better than most. The British troops went over the top early on the morning of 9 May and were cut down by German machine gun fire. The survivors were pinned down in no mans land. No significant progress was made, and early on 10 May Haig ended the offensive. The British suffered 11,000 casualties in one day of fighting on a narrow front.

Rickard, J (26 August 2007), Battle of Aubers Ridge, 9-10 May 1915 ,

I have also read elsewhere that casualties were moving through the field ambulances up the chain of evacuation for three days.  Perhaps we can speculate that Thomas was killed whilst trying to help comrades stuck out in no man's land and fell under the machine gun fire himself.  His medal index card shows that he was awarded a clasp to one of his medals.

Thomas is buried in the Canadian Cemetery at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys.

Both Thomas' brothers survived the war and married.  James (known as Henry) died in 1967 whilst Samuel died in 1955.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Updated Post - T T Rodda

I was extremely pleased last week to be contacted by the grandson of Thomas Tregilgus Rodda.  I had been rather frustrated by my post about Thomas; the question of his death was not satisfactorily answered.  His grandson has cleared the mystery up and it's quite remarkable.  Click on the link to find the updated T T Rodda post.

Friday, 19 August 2011

War Memorial Article

Yes, I have been bad.  I haven't done nearly enough work on the Newquay War Memorial names as I should have - I had fondly imagined that I would get tonnes more work done in the holidays, in fact the reverse is true.  However, I did write a quick article about War Memorials and the Commonwealth Graves Commission.  It is on  HubPages - click on this link Remembering the Fallen.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

C Bullock

Christopher Bullock
Born 1888 Nr Fraddon, Cornwall  kia 4 October 1917 Nr Ypres
Private 32375 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment (formerly Middlesex Regiment, DCLI and Somerset LI)

Christopher was the fourth son of William Jeffery and Mary Jane Blake.  William worked as a tin miner and china clay worker.  His father had been a tin mine agent.  The family lived in a cottage near Blue Anchor at Fraddon.  Christopher had three older brothers, Arthur, Alfred and John and three sisters, Mabel, Alberta and Evelina.  

Christopher's records do not indicate when or where he enlisted or when he first went to France.  His medal index card does show that he was in several regiments.  His move from the Somersets to the East Lancashire Regiment is not too surprising; the 1st Somersets and 1st East Lancs were both part of 11th Brigade, 4th Division.  In addition, the Middlesex Regiment's 3/10th Battalion was in 10th Brigade, 4th Division.  

During 1917 4th Division were involved at the Battles of Arras and Third Ypres.  It seems likely that Christopher fell during the Battle of Broodseinde, a phase of Third Ypres.  General Haig intended that this action should capture the Gheluvelt Plateau, a natural barrier, in enemy hands, along the south eastern edge of the Ypres Salient which was thwarting his plans to break out of the Salient.  Haig had wrongly deduced that German morale was collapsing and planned to take advantage.  The attack was also rushed; it was originally planned for 6 October, but brought forward to 4 October.  

The attack was led by the I and II Anzac Corps and XVIII Corps.  4th Division (part of XIV Corps) were part of the supporting attack on the flank and were held up by a bog during their advance.  Heavy machine gun fire from the cover of Houlthulst Forest resulted in 1,700 casualties for XIV Corps, of which it seems likely that Christopher was one.

Christopher has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

J S House

James Strout House
Born 9 March 1885 in Newquay  Died 20 February 1917 Off coast of Algeria
First Mate, SS Rosalie, Mercantile Marine

James was the eldest son of Nicholas House and Agnes Strout.  Nicholas was a master mariner and Agnes was the daughter of a seafaring family from Port Isaac.  The couple lived in East End, Newquay, for some years, being next door neighbours to the Kernick family, also mariners, who lost their son Frederick in WW1.

The House family was quite large.  Nicholas and Agnes' children were Cilicia Mary (b 1881), Agnes Jenefer (b c 1882), James, Kathleen Adele (31 October 1886), Archibald Noel (16 October 1889) and Agnes Lenore (c 1900).  It seems unusual to have to daughters named Agnes; both were alive in 1901, so it wasn't as if the younger one "replaced" the elder one.  In 1891 Nicholas' mother, Jane House, lived a few doors away with her adult children.  Her two daughters worked as a milliner and dressmaker.  Some of James' sisters would, in time, follow their aunts' occupation.

James married Harriet Wilmot Kneebone in 1916.  Harriet's father farmed at Manuel's Farm, which still exists today, on the outskirts of Newquay.  When Joseph Kneebone died, his widow moved her family into Newquay and set up a boarding house, although the 1901 Census return shows the house full of Mrs Kneebone's unmarried siblings and aged father, as well as 15 year old Wilmot and her brother.

James was first mate aboard the SS Rosalie, when she was torpedoed 8 miles east of Jidjelli, Algeria, without warning by U31.  Although the  ship was defensively armed she had no chance and 21 lives, including James', were lost.  U31 was at that time commanded by Walter Forstmann, who ended the war with the dubious honour of being the second highest scoring submarine commander of the war, having sunk almost 400,000 tonnes of shipping.

In his will James left around £200, probate being granted to Joseph Kneebone, Harriet's brother.  I can't find any record of Harriet and James having had any children.  Harriet did not remarry and died in 1947 at the age of 59.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

T T Rodda

Thomas Tregilgus Rodda
Born 1872 in Newquay  Killed in Action 26 March 1917 Dunkirk?
Pte SS14208 Royal Army Service Corps

Thomas was born in Newquay around 1872.  His father was Nicholas John Rodda, a stone mason, and his mother was Jane Tregildous.  Nicholas was a brother of Richard Thomas Rodda, father of William Rodda.  Hence, Thomas and William were first cousins, despite a great disparity in age.  Nicholas and Richard were the sons of stone mason Henry Rodda and his wife Betsy, and both were born in St Blazey.  

Thomas, like his father and grandfather, became a stone mason later in life.  However, in 1891 at age 19 he was living at the Cornwood Inn in Devon, working as a carter.  Thomas married Ellen Mewton, a domestic servant, in 1895.  Ellen's parents, George and Elizabeth, were both Cornish, but several of their children, including Ellen, were born in Yorkshire.

Thomas and Ellen were living in Woodman's Tenement in Ladock, where Thomas made a living as a mason, when their first child Florence was born in 1896.  Thomas Charles was born in 1897, Claude Glencoe was born in 1901 but died the following year.  Other children were Clarence Wilfred (1902), Ernest George (1905), Ellen Iris Elizabeth (1912), Catherine Phylis Joan (1914) and Robert Frederick (1916).  Ernest was born in Newquay, so presumably the family moved into the town between 1902 and 1905.

When war broke out both Thomas and his son Thomas Charles, joined up.  Thomas Charles Rodda enlisted with the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  Thomas Senior joined the Army Service Corps.  Once would have thought that Thomas Senior had the safer option; the 1st Cornwalls were in the thick of many battles of the war, but in fact it was the son who survived the war.  I cannot find out how Thomas died, although it was "in action".  He is buried at Dunkirk Town Cemetery.

Although Thomas Charles Rodda survived the war he died at a relatively young age in 1936.  His mother, Ellen, died in 1944.

UPDATE (23 August 2011):

I have been contacted by Thomas Rodda's grandson, Alan, who has solved the mystery of how Thomas died - it seemed very strange to me that Thomas was "killed in action" when he was away from the front line in Dunkirk.  The solution to the mystery is itself strange.  Thomas was asleep in a tent when an enemy aircraft dropped a bomb which fell through the tent and landed on Thomas.  Although the impact of the bomb killed Thomas, it did not explode and the two men on either side of Thomas were unharmed.

Mrs Rodda was left with seven children, three under the age of five.  Alan makes the point that she was herself a hero for bringing them up single-handed.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Plan of Action for this week

Hurrah!  School has finished for the summer.  In theory, more time - in practice, daughter to amuse.  We will see how much gets done.

This week:

T T Rodda
J S House
C Bullock

Sunday, 24 July 2011

W Rodda

William Rodda
Baptised 10 June 1891, Born at Newquay  Died 20 April 1917
Pte 24515 1st Battalion Duke of Conrwall's Light Infantry

William was the only son of Richard Thomas Rodda (sometimes spelt Rhodda) and Mary Ann Eliza Whitford.  Richard and Mary Ann married in Newquay on 12 May 1883.  Richard, a tailor from St Blazey, was the son a mason, William Rodda.  Mary Ann's father was John Whitford, a coastguard from Devon.  

The couple had a daughter, Theresa Ann, in 1885, followed by another daughter, Mattie Eliza in 1889.  William was born in 1891 and another daughter, Mary Elizabeth (known as Polly) was born in 1894.  Shortly after Polly's birth Mary Ann died and Richard remarried the following year.  His new wife was a widow, Margaret Mitchell (she died in 1905).  By 1901 only William and Polly were at home with their father and in 1911 both of them were working as servants for the Bennetts family at Trewerry Mill near St Newlyn East; William was labouring on the farm, Polly was a general domestic servant.  

At the moment I have no information as to when William enlisted.  His Medal Index Card gives no clues either, being blank on the section giving date on which the soldier first entered the Theatre of War.  What is certain is that William died on 20 April 1917 of wounds.  The 1st Cornwalls (95th Brigade, 5th Division) had moved to Villers au Bois on the morning of 8 April.  On the following day the weather was atrocious, with heavy rain and winds and a snow storm.  The battalion was held on two hours' notice to move forward, though no specific objective was specified.  By 10 pm further orders were received putting them on one hour's notice to move off and support the 4th Canadian Division at Vimy Ridge.  The order to move did not arrive until 13 April.  In the meantime the Cornwalls attempted to train whilst they waited and endured what must have been a miserable time as they had been moved from their billets into tents and it was by this time snowing heavily.

The Cornwalls finally relieved the 46th and 50th Canadian Regiments on the afternoon of 13 April at which point they took over the front line, during the Battle of Vimy.  1st Battlion had to move in darkness and many became lost.  Once in position the Cornwalls were shelled by the Germans (casualties were apparently light though - perhaps William was one of them?).  The DCLI managed to capture a couple of German guns on 14 April, although they still had to endure machine gun fire from other positions.  The diary does not mention casualties.

If William was not wounded during the Battle of Vimy, he may have received his wounds a few days later.  The Cornwalls remained in the front line from 14 to 19 April and during this period the Germans were particularly active, shelling, sniping and machine gunning the DCLI positions.  Any patrols sent out to scout enemy positions were met with fierce opposition.  Only one casualty of these forays is mentioned; Second Lieutenant the Hon. Charles Willoughby Murray Molesworth, who died of wounds on 15 April, but there were no doubt other ranks who died too - again, perhaps William.  William was buried at the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension.  

William's sister, Polly Rodda, married a Burt in 1921 and lived until 1971.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Some updates

I managed to visit the local library yesterday (daughter off at a Surf Lifesaving competition for the day - my turn to take her today - an extremely blustery and wet experience) and searched the archived newspapers for 1914-1916 (on microfilm).  As a result I have updated the posts on William Currah, Percival Collins, Reginald Nankervis and Reginald Ennor.  During the school holidays I hope to be able to obtain photographs from the Cornish Studies Library.  Thanks to the wonder of Ebay I also obtained a postcard showing the building that used to stand on the site of the war memorial - will try to scan and post soon.

Monday, 11 July 2011

T E Grindon

Thomas Edward Grindon
Born c 1889 Penzance  Killed in Action 26 October 1917
Pte 30893 8th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment

Thomas was the eldest son of William and Mary Grindon.  William was born in Bristol around 1831.  He travelled a great deal, at one time describing himself as a "Clerk to a West India Merchant".  Generally he gave his occupation as a variant of "living on own means".  He remained single until quite late in life, taking a wife 30 years his junior and settling with her in Newquay.  Thomas was born around 8 years into his parents marriage, his brother William following a year later.  A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, had been born in 1885 but died a year later. William Senior died in 1893 at the age of 63, leaving is wife £3,896.  

Thomas enlisted in the Army on 15 September 1914 at Westminster, joining the Royal Fusiliers as Private 417.  His attestation appears to give his occupation as a Rubber and Sulphur Dealer.  Thomas was 5' 6 1/2" tall and weighed 140 lb.  His complexion was considered medium, his eyes brown and his hair dark.  Thomas' career with the Royal Fusiliers lasted 147 days, at which point he was discharged under King's Regulation Paragraph 392 (iii) cc.  This regulation applied to recruits with between three and six months' service who were considered unfit for further military service.

Following his stint with the Royal Fusiliers Thomas returned to Newquay.  He married Dora Eastlake in 1916 and around this time bought a house, Corisande, overlooking the River Gannel.  (He would have been a neighbour to Duncan O'Callaghan at Minto House).  Corisande is a unique house, being inspired by a Gothic castle.  It had been built by an Austrian who allegedly quit the house in 1914 due to anti-German feeling.  Unfortunately, buying Corisande proved disastrous for Thomas.  He paid £1,000 for the property with the intention of converting in to a hotel.  He spent a further £900 refurbishing the property but was apparently overcharged by a builder for the construction of the tennis courts.  Shortly afterwards Thomas joined the Devonshires, either through choice or conscription, his previous discharge seemingly overlooked.

The 8th Devonshires were attached to 20th Brigade in 7th Division.  On 26 October 1917 the Battalion was part of the final phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele.  I have been unable to find an account of the 8th Devonshires' role in the battle.  It would appear that the Devonshires lost a great many men that day.  Thomas is buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery.

Just weeks before Thomas' death Dora had given birth to a son, John Evelyn Grindon. Dora was now a penniless widow, forced to sell Corisande at a loss.  (The new owner achieved Thomas' plan of turning it into a hotel.)  Dora did not remarry and lived until 1954.

John Grindon, Dora and Thomas' son, became a pilot in the RAF.  He had a distinguished career, earning the DSO and went on to command the King's, and later Queen's, flight.  He died in 2002 - his obituary can be found here.

The Corisande Manor hit the local headlines in the last few years due to a redevelopment scheme; many local residents were vehemently opposed to the scheme, which appears to gone away for the moment.  There is more information about the Corisande here, which is where I found the information about Thomas' ownership of the property.


Friday, 8 July 2011

P W Pascoe

Philip William Pascoe
Born 5 June 1879 at Plymouth  Died 1 November 1914  Coronel, South Atlantic
Leading Seaman (Boatman CG) 192247 Royal Navy

Philip was the son of John and Harriet Pascoe.  John was fish hawker, originally from Fowey.  Harriet was born in Devonport. The Pascoes also had a daughter, Bertha.

In 1902 Philip married Emily Hetty Pearce in Plymouth.  They had at least one child, Emily, born in Plymouth in 1910.  By 1914 the family were living in Newquay where Philip was a coastguard.  He clearly answered his country's call quickly on the outbreak of war, joining the Royal Navy as a Leading Seaman aboard HMS Monmouth.

HMS Monmouth was the first of the Navy's Monmouth class cruisers, built between 1899 and 1904.  This class of cruiser was a lighter, faster design than the previous Drake class.  This was achieved by making them shorter, thinner skinned and losing two guns.  Monmouth spent time in the Mediterranean and the South China Sea, but was back in home waters at the outbreak of war.  She was sent to join Admiral Cradock's South American squadron.

In October 1914 Cradock's ships were ambushed by Admiral Von Spee's squadron.  The modern German cruisers easily out gunned the British and the Monmouth was lost with all hands.  Philip's body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.  You can read more about the Battle of Coronel here.

Emily Pascoe continued living at her home in Ennor's Road, Newquay until her death in 1934.  Her daughter had died the previous year, aged only 23.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Plan of Action for this week

The Plan of Action is to get back on track after last week's illness.  Should be posting about

  • P W Pascoe
  • T E Grindon
Have a great week!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Before Action by Lt William Noel Hodgson MC

Today is the 95th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme and 95 years since 20 year old Awbery Trebilcock lost his life.  Whilst I was researching his story I found a  poem written by one of his comrades,  Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson, the evening before the battle.  Lt. Hodgson was 23 years old.

By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills when day was done,
By beauty lavishly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all man's hopes and fears
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavour that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say good-bye to all of this; -
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.

A Trebilcock

Awbery Trebilcock
Born 1896 St Columb Minor, Newquay , Cornwall  Killed in Action 1 July 1916
Pte 12500 9th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
Enlisted Bodmin

Awbery was the eldest child of Kate Trebilcock and the brother of Edna Grace Trebilcock.  His father was quite probably Richard Trebilcock, a mariner, but I have not been able to prove this definitively.  I believe that Kate's maiden name was Manley, but again, am unable to positively prove this.  

Kate and Awbery were on their own at the time of the 1901 Census. I have found a Richard Trebilcock of Newquay aboard a vessel in Bristol; this may be Awbery's father.  Neither parent appears on the 1911 Census, although Kate certainly did not die until 1929.  Perhaps they were both on board a ship at the time.  

Awbery enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment in Bodmin.  The 9th Battalion were formed in 1914 and attached to 20th (Light) Division.  Awbery was with the Battalion when they first landed in France on 27 July 1915.  Shortly thereafter they were attached to 20th Brigade with 7th Division.  Awbery and his comrades would have seen action at the Battle of Loos in 1915.  Their next major offensive would have been at the Battle of Albert, the first phase of the Battle of the Somme.

On 1 July 1916 20th Brigade's objective was to form a defensive flank to cover the advance of 91st Brigade around Fricourt and Mametz.  The 9th Devons were at the centre of 20th Brigade, and their objective was to move across the south slope of Rose Valley, south west of Mametz, on to Orchard Trench.  The British believed that any German dugouts which survived the preliminary artillery barrage would be neutralised between the advancing 9th Devons and 2nd Gordon Highlanders. However, on the 9th Devon's right flank a machine gun, located near the Shrine, had survived and its crew were waiting for the British.  As thousands of troops advanced towards them the enemy crew waited until the British were 800 yards away and opened up, mowing down the first wave.  Only a handful survived to reach the German front line, just a 100 yards in front of them. The left flank of the Devons were more fortunate, being concealed from the machine gun at the Shrine.  They were able to take Danube Trench with few casualties.  By 6 pm the Brigade had reached its objective.

Several days after the battle the British sent out a party to recover the fallen of both the 9th and 8th Devons.  160 bodies were taken to their old front line and buried together.  It is likely that Awbery Trebilcock was one of them.  Above their grave a wooden cross was erected with the following words:

"The Devonshires held this trench
The Devonshires hold it still."

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Plan of Action for this week - there is no plan!

The school stomach bug caught up with me, so I have been out of action.  And the dog has been a worry - X-ray, minor op, bandage, stupid collar, disrupted nights.  Hope to be back on track soon!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

J N Rickeard

John Noel Rickeard
Born 1882 St Newlyn East  Killed in Action 28 June 1918
Pte G/30980 1st Battalion Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

John was one of the sons of a successful farmer and auctioneer, Silas Rickeard, and his wife Isabella.  The Rickeards farmed at St Newlyn East and later moved into Newquay where Silas had his auctioneering business.  

John apparently didn't enjoy rural life; he moved to London and became a civil servant. In September 1911 he married the beautifully named Lilian Cynara Lucie Marshall, the daughter of a hairdresser, at Emmanuel Church in Camberwell.  The couple may have had a son, Aubrey,  the following year.  

John joined the Middlesex Regiment initially, transferring to the Royal West Kent Regiment.  1st Battalion was part of 13th Brigade in 5th Divison.  (1st Battalion DCLI were also part of this Division).  Depending on when he joined the Battalion, John may have seen action at Mons and the First Battle of Ypres in 1914, the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915.  In 1916 the Division joined the Battles of the Somme, fighting at High Wood, Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy before leaving the Somme on 5 October 1916.  !917 saw them fight in the Battle of Arras and the Third Battle of Ypres.  The Division was briefly moved to Italy at the end of 1917, but returned to the Western Front in March 1918.

In late June the British were planning local attacks on the enemy, one of which would be carried out by 5th and 31st Divisions.  I have been unable to find any reference to the part John's Battalion played on 28 June 1918, but as the 1st Battalion DCLI were in the same Division, I can give an overview of the attack, which was known as the Action of La Becque.  The objective was to be a line just west of the Plate Becque, which would involve moving beyond the German front line and capturing  the villages of  L'Epinette (1st DCLI) and Le Cornet Perdu (12th Gloucesters).  The 13th Brigade were to the right of the 1st DCLI.

At on 28 June 1918 the British artillery opened its barrage, starting at the German front line and slowly moving forward to the Plate Becque.  At 6.40am the troops started their advance and according to the DCLI diary met with little resistance.  The front line companies reached their objectives by 7.20am and were digging in by 7.30am.  500 Germans were captured along with a good number of enemy guns.  The 1st DCLI suffered a loss of around 40 per cent.  

13th Brigade also reached its objective and the whole operation was a success, drawing congratulations from the Commander-in-Chief and his staff.  Sadly, John was unable to take part in the celebrations.  He is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Lilian Rickeard did not remarry and died in Camberwell in 1964.  John had left her just over £400 in his will.
Back in Newquay, Silas Rickeard was involved in some good works for the town.  He was one of the landowners who donated land to make the Trenance Gardens for the town - during the Depression local unemployed men laboured to dig out the land to make ornamental gardens and lakes.  The Gardens and Boating Lake are still a beautiful and peaceful  part of Newquay - a great shame that John could not see his father's legacy.  

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

Plan of Action for this week

A very productive weekend for me - working on my own family history I found a great-aunt we never knew existed, an emigration (and return) we knew nothing about and a new cousin added a few names to faces in photographs.  On the war memorial project I photographed a couple of graves to add to the blog (I know it's sad, but it makes me happy - bear with me) and even better, I contacted the wonderful Jimmy from and he was able to give me some more information and a photograph of Duncan M M O'Callaghan.

So, great start to the week, here is the plan:

  • Finish researching J N Rickeard
  • P W Pascoe
  • A Trebilcock
  • Various updates
Have a good week!

Friday, 17 June 2011

J V Teague

John Vivian Godden Teague
24 July 1896 at Perranporth, Cornwall  Killed in Action  3 September 1916
2nd Lt Army Service Corps, attd 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

John Teague was the middle son of Joseph Teague and Edith Monica Godden.  His brothers were Douglas Godden Teague (b 1891) and Penn Vivian Godden Teague (b 1900). Both of John's grandfathers, William Teague and William Godden, were mine agents.  Whether this was a coincidence or whether it contributed to his parents' marriage, I do not know.  

Joseph and Edith married in Hanover Square, London, on 8 February 1888.  Joseph was already a prosperous young man.  On the 1881 Census he is living as head of his own household with several servants. His occupation was given as bank clerk.  By 1891 the couple were living at Pentrig, a substantial property in its own grounds at Perranporth.  As well as being a bank clerk Joseph was a volunteer in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  He was appointed a captain in 1900 and an honorary major in 1903.  In 1909 he received a long service medal and the following year he resigned his commission but was granted permission to retain his rank and to wear his uniform.

The Teagues moved to Newquay sometime after 1901.  At the time of the 1911 Census John and Penn were in Newquay, whilst their parents were in Bedford with Douglas.  The Census shows that Joseph had retired by this time.  

On the outbreak of war Joseph rejoined his regiment.  He was made a temporary captain in the 4th Battalion on 12 September 1914, being made up to major on 18 March 1915.  I have not found any mention of Major Teague during the war in the regiment's records.

I am unable to find any record of when John joined the army (although he began his war in the Devonshire Yeomanry), or when he transferred to the DCLI from the ASC.  What is certain is that John had been attached to 1st Battalion (part of 95th Brigade in 5th Division) by the end of August 1916, in time for the Battle of Guillemont, during the Battle of the Somme.  The village of Guillemont was by now a pile of rubble on which a board had been placed helpfully stating "This is Guillemont". 

The 1st DCLI moved to march up to the front line trenches during the night of 2 September.  By around 4am the following morning they were in position in Bodmin (front assemby trench) and Cornwall (rear assembly trench) Trenches.  The operation was due to begin at noon with the battalion going over the top in four waves.  All ranks were apparently "full of confidence and in high spirits" according to the battalion diary.

At noon the artillery opened up with an intense barrage along the German front line.  Due to the effectiveness of the artillery the first and second waves of DCLI were able to rapidly take their first objective, the enemy trenches facing the Brigade.  The third wave were able to reach their objective and the fourth wave moved into position.  

During the advance the Cornwalls were met with heavy resistance but moved forward steadily.  However, many men fell, including four young platoon commanders, one of whom was 20 year old John Teague, falling at the head of his men.  

Major Teague returned from the war and died in 1923.  Sadly, after such an affluent life, he left his widow less than £50.  The Teague's eldest son, Douglas, an electrical engineer, had died aged 28 in 1920.  Edith died in the 1940s, survived by her son Penn, who lived until 1973.

John is buried in Newquay Cemetery and commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

E M Neilson

Elmer Montgomerie Neilson?

As you can immediately see, E M Neilson does not fit the usual pattern.  I cannot find any record of an E M Neilson dying in WW1.  There is only one E M Neilson in Newquay in 1911 - Elmer Montgomerie Neilson - and he definitely did not die during the war.  Here is his story - see what you think.

Elmer was born in 1875 in Scotland.  His father was Mathew Montgomerie Neilson, a son of James Beaumont Neilson, the inventor of the hot blast furnace.  The family business was highly successful, exporting ship and locomotive engines worldwide, which may explain why Mathew was able to spend his life travelling.  He does not appear on a single census with his wife (Mary Isobel Katherine Brody) and family.  

By 1901 Elmer was living in Devon with his mother and listed his occupation as a watercolour painter.  A few years later, in 1907, he married an older woman, Edith Emily Lord, whose family were from Chudleigh.  Edith ran a lace school in the town.   The couple moved to East Street in Newquay where Edith once again ran the "Chudleigh Lace School".  Elmer was apparently an art expert and dealer.

There is no record of Elmer's war service, although the medal rolls show that he applied for a medal of some sort - the outcome of his request is not clear.  He and Edith moved back to Chudleigh, certainly by the early 1920s.  Elmer was involved in an archaeological expedition to Egypt and later donated one of his finds, a mask, to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.  A footnote states that his wife died in 1938 and that his only son, Somerville, was killed in action in 1917.

Elmer died in 1958 in Devon.

So how is his name on the Newquay War Memorial?  I wondered if it might be a confusion with his son - until I found that he did not have a son.  Somerville Montgomerie Neilson was his youngest brother - he is commemorated in the parish church at Chudleigh and on the Arras Memorial (he was a Second Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment).  Perhaps Elmer was for some reason embarrassed by his war record and chose to disappear from Newquay, leaving behind the impression that he had died whilst abroad.  I doubt that we shall ever really know.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Plan of Action for this week

Fairly unsuccessful week last week - suffering with what I assumed to be hayfever, but seems may be a bug.  Ache from the eyeballs downwards.  Consequently rather behind, so now playing catch-up.  But here goes, this week I will be doing this:
  • J N Ennor
  • H A B Dealtry update
  • Page about war memorial
  • J V Teague
  • E M Neilson
In between times I hope to find time to go to work and feed my family!

Have a good week.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

J Brancker

James Donaldson Dulaney Brancker
Born c Jan 1878 in Baltimore, USA  Killed in Action 1 May 1917 at Tilloy, Pas De Calais
Major 116th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery

James was the third son of John Sefton Brancker and Anne Caroline (Carrie) Dulaney.  J Sefton Brancker was born a British subject in Hamburg.  He spent some years in England and then moved to the USA where he carried on a business as a merchant.  He later became a British Vice-Consul in Baltimore.  He and his wife are listed in society visiting books of the 1889/1890 season as living at Mount Washington, Baltimore.  The couple's eldest sons were Sefton Dulaney Brancker and Grafton Lloyd Brancker (Grafton Lloyd Dulaney was the father of Mrs Brancker).

J Sefton Brancker died in Baltimore in 1891.  The two eldest brothers definitely spent some time travelling following their father's death.  They tried gold prospecting in Bendigo, Australia at the turn of the century and then went to South Africa.  Their stay in Australia was reported in the Adelaide Advertiser in 1930 when that paper reported on the death of Sir William Sefton Brancker, who had been killed in an aircrash.  The paper confused Sir W Sefton Brancker with (I think) his first cousin, Sefton Dulaney Brancker.  A Baltimore newspaper's society column mentioned the Brancker brothers visit to South Africa in 1901 and speculated that they would "see something of the (Boer) war".  Sadly, Grafton did; he joined the British Army (South Staffordshire Regiment) and was killed at Ficksburg on 25 June 1900.  Sefton moved to England where James had already joined the Royal Artillery.

In 1901 James was serving as a Lieutenant in the RA and was based in Kent.  A 1910 report in The Times mentions a Captain Brancker, RA, in connection with No. 2 Mountain Battery stationed at Dera Dun (this could well be his cousin, W Sefton Brancker though).  In September 1912 James is recorded landing at Ellis Island,  giving his home address as "Dilkhusha", Newquay.    He had travelled First Class aboard the St Louis. James' next appearance is three years later in an announcement in The Times of his impending marriage to Bryda Millicent Pennycuick, the wedding to be "quiet".  The low-key event took place in Frimley (near Camberley) on 26 June 1915, Mrs Brancker's address being given as "Dilkhusha", Newquay.  The bride's came from a military family, her father and grandfathers being mentioned as army officers.

Sadly, I cannot find out much information about Major Brancker's 116th Siege Battery.  I have found that several other men from this battery were killed on the same day.  James was buried in the British cemetery at Tilloy.  On 4 June 1917 The London Gazette listed his award of the Distinguished Service Order.

James' wife, Bryda, did not remarry.  She died in Kent in 1970 aged 86.  His mother lived in Newquay for several years at "Dilkhusha", a property that no longer exists, but as far as I can tell was on the Headland Road, and the rear of which would have looked up toward the site of the war memorial.  James' brother Sefton went on to become a Lieutenant Colonel.  The Brancker's cousin, Sir William Sefton Brancker, was Air Vice-Marshal and is acknowledged as being a pioneer in British civil and military aviation.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Plan of Action for this week

This week I am planning to

  • post about J Brancker, who has a rather slight connection with Newquay and a well-known relative and J N Rickeard whose family are rather well-known, but only in Newquay.
  • update the post about the SS War Grange - the Newquay Old Cornwall Society were able to give me some additional information.
  • update the post about Berkeley Dealtry.  I am not a lover of celebrity gossip, but for some reason Captain Dealtry's scandalous liaison with Kathleen Klein has captured my imagination.  In pursuit of the full story I have been trawling the newspaper archives and come across the divorce proceedings.  Prepare for a dashing officer, an outraged husband and an absconding wife, the drama unfolding in Weymouth!
  • start a page about the war memorial itself - again, thanks to Newquay Old Cornwall Society I have been able to find out about the controversy surrounding the building of the memorial.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

P G F Collins

Percival George Fenwick Collins
Born 1892 at St Columb  Killed in Action 18 August 1916 Flers-Courcelette
Lieutenant (Temp) 6th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Percival was the younger son of Thurstan Collins and Ellen Fenwick - see the post about his older brother Gerald.

Percival was at Rugby School in 1911.  Meanwhile, his parents and sisters were living at their new house "Gluvian" in Newquay's Edgcumbe Gardens.  The Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail is credited with designing the house for Mr Collins, but more recent research suggests that it was in fact one of his partners who was responsible.

Sadly Percival's military records do not survive, but his medal index card indicates that he was in the Coldstream Guards before joining the DCLI.  6th Battalion moved to France on 22nd May 1915 with 43rd Brigade, part of 14th (Light) Division.  The Division were at the Action of Hooge, near Ypres, when the Germans used a flamethrower for the first time during the early hours of 30 July 1915.  The British were forced to fall back from the front line, but regrouped and started to rush men up to hold the ground.  The 6th Battalion DCLI were one such battalion, ordered to secure one section of the front near Zouave Wood.  According to the account of Lieutenant Blagrave,

"They lined Zouave Wood and held it.  They were grand, and nothing could move them."

Although Percival survived this battle more than 50 of his comrades did not.  In all, 14th Division lost 2,500 men.  Lieutenant Blagrave fell on 12 August 1915 trying to rescue men trapped by enemy shelling in the cathedral at Ypres.  After the war around 40 bodies were found in a cellar under the Cloth Hall at Ypres, members of B Company, 6th Battalion DCLI.

The 14th Division was to play a part in one of the early battles of the Somme, that of Delville Wood in July 1916.  General Haig ordered that Trones Wood be cleared of Germans so as to protect the British forces' right flank.  The battle for Trones Wood began on 14 July and by the following afternoon the 14th (Light) Division and 18th (Eastern) Division had taken the Wood.

On 15 September 14th Division were again in action at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the third main phase of the Battle of the Somme .  This battle is notable as the first in which tanks were used (49 were deployed, although not all made it into action).  14th Division were still holding part of Delville Wood and their objective was to clear out the last pocket of German resistance, which they achieved.  The following day the Division was unable to make further progress, let down by inadequate artillery support. The offensive began again on 17 September and continued until 23 September, during which time Percival lost his life, in an offensive which failed to gain its chief aim of pushing a hole through the German lines.

Percival is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial as well as Newquay War Memorial and a plaque in St Michael's Church (with his brother, Gerald).

Update 18 July 2011

In an edition of the Cornish Guardian on 1 September 1916 there is an article about the Collins brothers.  This mentions that Percival attended St John's College, Oxford after leaving Rugby School.  When war broke out he was intending to join the Indian Civil Service, but joined up instead.  He was a good lawn tennis player,  
being a member of his College team.

Friday, 3 June 2011

G T C Collins

Gerald Thurstan Cole Collins
Born 1890 in St Columb  Died 31 May 1916 off Jutland
Lieutenant Royal Navy

Gerald was the son of a prominent Newquay solicitor, Thurstan Collins and his wife Ellen Fenwick.  Thurstan and Ellen had married in 1888 and settled in Newquay.  They had another son, Percival, and two daughters, Violet and Evelyn. 

Gerald was sent away to school in Wraxall, Somerset by 1901.  Also at the school was Horace Hawkey, the son of Thurstan Collins' fellow solicitor.  After a career in the Army Horace returned to Cornwall and became a member of the County Council. Gerald chose a career in the Navy and at the end of 1910 Gerald's name appears in the London Gazette, being confirmed as a sub-lieutenant.  

By 1916 Gerald was a Lieutenant aboard HMS Tipperary.  On 31st May the Tipperary was leading the 1st Division of the 4th Flotilla into action against the German Grand Fleet.  According to the only surviving officer,   Gerald, the Flotilla Lieutenant, was on the lower bridge.  Enemy ships were sighted at around 11.30pm, although initially there was some doubt about their identity; even after the first shot, it was felt that it was "friendly fire".  Any remaining doubts vanished by 11.50pm when the Tipperary was hit by a salvo and returned fire.  The exchange was over in a matter of a few minutes, the enemy slipping away, leaving Tipperary badly damaged forward.  Anyone amidships was killed or wounded.  The decision was taken to abandon ship and although the boats were destroyed the wounded were put into Carley floats or pieces of wood.  The battle for the Tipperary was clearly over; an German ship came close by and enquired which ship she was but did not open fire and may have picked up some survivors.  The remaining officers (of which Gerald does not appear to have been one) disposed of the signal books and confidential papers, fired the remaining torpedoes (to prevent explosion) and left the ship.  Tipperary sank at around 2.00 am.  185 of the crew were lost, leaving 12 survivors.

Gerald is commemorated on the town memorial and on a brass plaque in St Michael's church - his brother Percival's name is there too.

Thurstan Collins moved to Newton Ferrers were he held several manors.  His daughter Violet married a Naval Commander and had two sons, both of whom served in World War Two.  The youngest, Henry Howard, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, was lost at sea in 1942 at the age of 20.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A L Quintrell

Alfred Leslie Quintrell
Born 5 July 1893 in Kensington, London   Died 31 May 1916 at Jutland
Wireman 2nd Class M/13988 Royal Navy

Alfred was the eldest son of Alfred Skinner Quintrell and Annie Beswetherick.  Both Alfred and Annie were born near Newquay; the Quintrells were farm labourers living between St Mawgan and St Columb Major, whilst the Beswethericks were blacksmiths in St Mawgan.  For some reason Alfred and Annie were married in Dartford, Kent and they spent the early years of their marriage in London, Alfred working as a wheelwright.  The couple had another son, Frederick Skinner Quintrell, born on Christmas Day, 1895 and a daughter, Edith Dorothy born on 4 March 1901.

I do not know when the Quintrells moved back to Cornwall.  However, at some point they moved into Newquay and took up residence in St Cuthbert's Road.  Alfred joined the Navy and was aboard HMS Black Prince when she set sail on 31 May 1916 to meet the German Grand Fleet off the coast of Denmark.

Black Prince was part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron.  At 5.45pm the squadron was ordered to take up approach stations.  Somehow the ship became detached from the rest of the squadron when the Grand Fleet were deploying.  As night fell Black Prince continued to try to find the rest of her fleet.  Perhaps mistaking them for the British Fleet, she approached a flotilla of ships.  It was a deadly mistake - she headed straight for a squadron of German ships.  From distance of only 500 yards the engagement was swift.  Nassau, Thuringen, Ostfriesland and Friederick Der Grosse all fired on the Black Prince which was unable to mount a challenge.  She was quickly overtaken by fire and sank with an huge explosion in less than five minutes according to German eyewitnesses.  857 men were lost.

HMS Black Prince 

Alfred's grave is in Newquay, along with his parents.  His "Dead Man's Penny" is set into the gravestone.  His brother Frederick died in 1980, whilst Edith married and lived until 1976.   I left some flowers at Alfred's grave today to mark the 95th anniversary of his death.

The Battle of Jutland

The only major sea battle of World War 1 took place on 31st May - 1st June 1916 in the North Sea, off Denmark.  It remains one of the largest naval battles in history due to the size of the opposing fleets.  Around 100,000 men were involved, two of whom were from Newquay - Alfred Quintrell aboard Black Prince and Gerald Collins on Tipperary.

I shall be posting about each of the Newquay men later today and outlining the part their ships had in the battle - I don't have the knowledge or the time to write about the entire engagement.  If you are interested in the battle, and haven't already done so, you might like to click here  to go to the Battle of Jutland website.  This site has information about the commanders, the ships, maps and animated battle scenes.  For a more dry approach, the official British version of events can be found here .  (Click on the "See other formats" button on the left of the screen and choose "Read Online" to make it easier to read).

Monday, 30 May 2011

Plan of Action for this week

As tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland I shall be posting about two men who lost their lives in the only major sea battle of WW1 - Alfred Quintrell and Gerald Collins.  As it is half term I have some extra time so I shall try to post about Gerald's brother, Percival, too.

I am also trying to persuade my daughter that the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum would make a splendid day out - I get the feeling I may well be visiting on my own while she goes to her grandmother for the day.  Another outing will be to the Newquay Old Cornwall Society's archives - another solo pursuit, I expect.  If I get time I hope to be able to photograph a couple of local war memorials for the 4thefallen blog - I know I should because I was dreaming about it last night - now that is sad!

Have a great week!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

T R Kernick

Thomas Reginald Kernick
Born 1891 in Newquay  Killed in Action 8 March 1916 near Basra
Pte 2372 5th (Prince of Wales') Battalion (Territorials)

Thomas was the son of Frederick Kernick and Constance Hocking.  Frederick was originally a seaman, being master of his own vessel by the age of 22.  By his forties he and his family lived in Berry Road, Newquay and he gave his occupation as "Ship Owner".  By 1911 he was a "Collector of Taxes".  Frederick and Constance had four sons, Frederick (known as John), Richard (known as Arthur), Thomas (known as Reginald) and Alfred.  There were also two daughters, Grace and Mary, although Mary may have died at a young age.  

None of the Kernick boys followed their father to sea.  Three of them, John, Reginald and Alfred, became bank clerks.  John worked at Lloyds Bank in Truro and Alfred was working in Dorset.  It is possible that Reginald was working in Devon - he was not recorded at home in 1911 and he joined the Devonshire Regiment, based in Exeter.

According to the records, Reginald's battalion wasn't posted to Mesopotamia, which is where he died.  The second line 5th Battalion did land in Egypt in September 1915, and disbanded there in July 1916.  However, 1/4 and 1/6 Battalions were certainly in Mesopotamia, so perhaps Reginald was attached to one of these.  

The war in Mesopotamia was ostensibly about securing oil supplies for the Royal Navy and British operations in the region were originally small scale.  However, emboldened by early success the British pushed forward toward Basra and then Baghdad, but soon became overstretched as they needed to protect increasingly long lines of communication.  By the end of 1915 the British had been forced to retreat to Kut-al-Amara where they were besieged until surrendering in April 1916.

Between January and April 1916 there were a series of attempts to relieve the siege of Kut.  The Battle of Dujaila Redoubt was fought from 7-9 March 1916, and it is possible that this is where Reginald fell on 8 March.  I have found two other members of 6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment who fell that day; Captain Dunn-Pattison and Pte Thomas Knight.  Like Reginald they are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Incidentally, a VC was awarded that day to Pte George Stringer of the Manchester Regiment who single-handedly kept the enemy at bay until his Battalion were able to withdraw in good order. 

Reginald's brothers John and Alfred joined up in 1915, John being attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery whilst Alfred served with the Royal Field Artillery.  Both were posted to Salonika and survived the war.  I cannot find any record of Richard Arthur Kernick's war record, though he lived on until 1974.  Alfred died in 1978.

The Kernick's old home on Berry Road is no longer there; it was redeveloped and is now operated by a Housing Association 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

W F Currah

William Francis Currah
Born at 10 April 1888 Yardley, Worcestershire  Killed in Action 11 April 1916 near Ypres
Cpl 10516 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Enlisted at Bodmin

William was the son of John Currah and Sarah King.  In 1881 John and Sarah were living near Yardley where John worked as a farm bailiff.

(Update:  the couple lived on the "Bickenhill Road to Gilbertstone".  It may be coincidence, but Gilbertstone House was at that time owned by Cornishman Richard Tangye (later Sir Richard).  Tangye was the son of a farmer from Illogan, but later became the owner of an engineering company and a philanthropist - he also introduced the Saturday half-day holiday, soon adopted by all engineering works.)

The couple had one child at the time, Emily.  John gave his birthplace as St Austell, whilst Sarah was born in Stratford on Avon.  It seems likely that Sarah's age was given inaccurately - she claimed to be 30 years old, against her husband's 43 years.  From later Census returns it seems that 10 years was added to her age.  

By 1891 John would appear to have died (although I cannot find a record) and Sarah had remarried Alfred Causer, a house painter.  He had not only taken Sarah on, but her children - Emily, Maud, Alice and 2 year old William. For some reason her eldest son, 9 year old John Henry Currah, is recorded at the Temperance Orphanage in Sunbury, Middlesex.  Ten years later, William was working for his step-father as a brush boy.  He also had three half-brothers, Clarence, Bromley and Roy.  William stayed with his family in Yardley certainly until 1911, when he is recorded on the Census.  

Why William came to Newquay is a mystery; there were certainly Currahs in Newquay (and still are).  It may be that he came to work with a cousin.  Although John Currah gave his birthplace as St Austell, there was a Thomas Currah living in Newquay, a couple of years younger than John, who was born in St Eval - perhaps his brother.   It may be that "St Eval" was mistaken for "St Austell" by the Census Enumerator.

What is certain is that William joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1915.  He was a part of the 7th Battalion, later joined by the celebrated Harry Patch.  William's Battalion were under the command of 61st Brigade, part of 20th (Light) Division.  This Division were bedevilled in their early training by a lack of officers, NCOs, and equipment.  However, by the summer of 1915 they were fully equipped and landed at Bolougne in July.  By the spring of 1916 the Battalion were in the Ypres Salient, and it was here, probably during the Action of the St Eloi Craters, that William was killed.  

St Eloi was to the south of Ypres and had been heavily mined by both sides since 1915.  The Germans had a slightly advantageous position, holding the higher ground from which they could observe British positions.  In late March 1916 it was decided to launch an offensive against the Germans.  I have not been able to find an account of the DCLI's part in the action, but I know that William was not the only one of his battalion to be killed that day - Pte John Lawrence of Tintagel was killed and like William he too is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. (A list of Tintagel men killed in WW1 can be found here.)

William's mother, Sarah, had an anxious war.  Her eldest son, John Currah, had joined the army in 1903.  His career in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers had not been overly glorious - he had been on charges for being drunk, returning to barracks late without his uniform and had been treated for venereal disease.  However, on the outbreak of war he returned to his regiment, only to be wounded and taken prisoner in late 1914.  He spent time in Switzerland, being repatriated in September 1917.  He was suffering from paralysis and died at his mother's home, aged 37, on 6 November 1917 following a haemorrhage.  Two of Sarah's younger sons, Clarence and Bromley, also served in the war, and one of them (possibly Clarence) was also taken prisoner.  

I haven't been able to find a photograph of William, but have found a post on the Great War Forum mentioning John and including his photograph.  Many thanks to Kevan Darby.  You can find the original thread here.

Posted 09 January 2010 - 04:03 PM
Another from a Birmingham newspaper

The interment with Military Honours has taken place at Yardley Cemetery of Pte John Henry Currall, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a repatriated prisoner of war. Pte Currah who was an old soldier, was wounded and captured at the begining of the war, and was afterwards sent to Switzerland, and came back to England later.
He was thirty six years of age and the stepson of Mr Causser of 36 Church Road, South Yardley. A brother is a Prisoner of war in Germany, another Cprl W F Currah was killed at Ypres in April 1916.

Attached image(s)

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Update 16 July 2011

I have found some further information from the Cornish Guardian dated 25 May 1915

Cpl  W F Currah joined up at Newquay (conflicting information!) in August 1914, one of the first men to do so.  He had worked for three years as a painter (which ties in with his step-father's job) for Mr W Trebilcock.  He was killed the day after he celebrated his 28th birthday.  There is a photograph of William, I hope to be able to take a copy when I visit the Cornish Studies Library.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Plan of Action for this week

Odd start to the week, hence a day late with my POA.  Yesterday evening we were evacuated from our house (as was everyone within a 200m radius) as a nearby garage was on fire and there were gas cylinders on the property.  Normally this would have been a pain, but as we had to get up at 4.30am to get my 11 year old to a coach for a school trip to London, it became a positive pain.  Luckily, we were able to decamp to mother-in-laws for the night (the alternative was the sports centre) and once the dog had calmed down went to sleep around midnight.  I am now slightly sideways!

Anyway, enough of my woes.  This week I am hoping to post about W F Currah and T R Kernick.

On Thursday I have been invited along to a meeting about Trenance Cottages in Newquay.  The Cottages are in the Trenance Leisure Gardens and were inhabited until the 1960s, after which they were used as a museum.  Over the last few years they have fallen into disrepair and a committee was formed to apply for a Lottery grant to redevelop them.  The grant has come through and now work is beginning on how to interpret the grant conditions and implement them.  I am looking forward to seeing how we can preserve this very attractive part of Newquay's heritage.

Have a good week.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A Staffieri

Augustine Staffieri
Born c 1878 in Italy  Killed in Action 13 September 1918
Pte 54636 2/4th Battallion Hampshire Regiment
Enlisted in Truro

Augustine Staffieri should have a unique place in Newquay's history.  Newquay is the capital of British surfing and it could be argued that Augustine was the father of the sport in Britain.  Sadly, he was never to know the part he played in the history of his adopted town's most popular industry.

Augustine and his wife Teresa moved to Newquay around the turn of the century and set up an ice cream business.  Augustine's father was called Joseph and it is possible that he is the Joseph Staffieri who moved to St Austell and set up another ice cream business there.  Joseph's daughter and son-in-law took over the business and changed the name to Kelly's Ice Cream - the company are today one of Cornwall's most recognisable brands.

I can't find Augustine's service record, so do not know on what date he joined up in Truro.  He was posted to the 2/4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, which was originally a home service unit.  However, the Battalion, together with 2/4th Duke of Cornwell's Light Infantry, part of 2nd Wessex Division, shipped out to India at the end of 1914, remaining there until 1917 when they landed in Egypt.  In May of the following year the Battalion were sent to France and were attached to 186th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division on 2nd June 1918.

Augustine may well have seen action in the Battle of Tardenois in July, and phases of the Second Battle of the Marne 1918 in August and early September.  On 12 September the Battle of Havrincourt, a phase of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, began.  The 62nd Division had fought at Havrincourt the previous year during the Battle of Cambrai and for their part in that action they were to join the 2nd Division and the New Zealand Division in attacking the village which was now held by four German divisions.  

The Battle of Havrincourt was a considered a minor offensive, but it was successful despite the German's having superior numbers.  Some commentators consider that this small victory illustrated the marked decline in  German moral; together with an American victory at St Mihiel it also convinced Sir Douglas Haig to bring forward operations against the Germans on the Hindenburg Line.  

Whatever the significance for the war effort, the Battle of Havincourt was of course horribly significant for the Staffieri family.  Back in Newquay Teresa had given birth to a son, Papino, the previous month. Presumably father and son never met but hopefully Augustine knew of his son's birth before he died.  Augustine is buried at the Hermies Hill British Cemetery.

Pip Staffieri continued the family ice cream business, selling ice creams around Newquay from a van.  He is also known for being the first recorded person in Britain to surf.  He made his own board, a 13 foot hollow wooden monster, too heavy to carry when wet.  Nowadays, Newquay is thronged with surfers, but back in the late 1930s the pint-sized Pip and his giant board must have been a novel sight.  Pip died in his 80s in 2005.  

Pip Staffieri and his board - Newquay, late 1930s?  
Photograph from the Roger Mansfield Collection

Friday, 20 May 2011

H A B Dealtry

Herbert Arthur Berkeley Dealtry
Born 11 April 1878 in Clevedon, Somerset  Killed in Action 26 September 1915 at Loos
Captain 9th Battalion East Surrey Regiment

Herbert Dealtry, known as Berkeley, was the son of Everard Dealtry and Guilia Williams Wynne.  Although he was born in Clevedon, Berkeley was christened at All Saints, Notting Hill on 20 July 1878.  Everard described himself as a gentleman on the parish register - I am not too sure!  I haven't time to research him properly and, after all, he is not the subject of this post, but I believe that he was certainly married several times, possibly committing bigamy.  What is certain is that he and Guilia had four sons, Everard Archer, Herbert (Berkeley), Adrian Rose and Cosmo.

(Update - just found out that Guilia and Everard divorced in 1885, so Everard's later marriage in 1886 was legal - he then divorced again in 1902 and remarried a final time.  Guilia also remarried in 1886 - her new husband, Manfred Brotherton was also divorced. I notice that Cosmo Dealtry was born in 1886 and his second name was Manfred, like Guilia's new husband.  Guilia died in 1902, Manfred remarried a third time, but died at his home in France in 1904.)

Berkeley attended school in Bristol for a time and later joined the Worcestershire Regiment.  On the 1901 Census he was recorded as a Lieutenant at the Ramillies Barracks near Farnborough.  It was around this time that Berkeley met a young married woman, Kathleen Klein (nee Cornwell).  Kathleen was an Australian heiress whose father, a former railway guard, had made a vast fortune as a gold prospector. Alice Cornwell,  her eldest sister, inherited the gold mine and was able to buy the Sunday Times newspaper.

Kathleen, who was born in 1872, had married Herman Klein a noted musical critic, author and singing teacher, when she was 17; Klein was nearly twice Kathleen's age and divorced from his first wife.  The couple had three children together.  Klein divorced Kathleen on discovering her affair with Berkeley and she and Berkeley married in 1902.  Unfortunately, the Dealtrys soon got into financial difficulties, due to their involvement with the organisation of dog shows and missing prize money(!)  This episode ended with Berkeley being declared bankrupt and the couple decamping to the United States for a while.  Their financial woes may have been the impetus for Kathleen to start writing; she became a prolific author of romantic novels, under a number of pen names, including Kit Dealtry.

The Dealtrys returned from the United States and set up home in Newquay.  The 1911 Census records them at Narrowcliff, in a house which would have looked out over Newquay Bay.  Most of the houses on this stretch of road were converted to hotels, and a number have recently been demolished.

Berkeley returned to the Army fairly promptly after the outbreak of war.  He is listed in the London Gazette on 22 September 1914 having been granted the temporary rank of Captain. He was sent to the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. The 9th Battalion was part of Kitchener's K3 Group, and attached to the 73rd Brigade of 24th Division.  After training in Aldershot the Battalion landed at Boulogne at the beginning of September 1915.

The Battalion were ordered to move on the evening of  21 September 1915 in readiness for the major offensive at Loos. They moved out to Dennebroucq, marching 15 miles.  From here they made for Isburges, arriving on 23rd, having travelled 19 miles.  They then marched to Burgette, through Vermelles and toward Annay and Pont a Vedin.  They halted due to a lack of orders.  However, by the following day, 26 September, orders were received to attack the enemy's position at 11 am.  Considering the lengthy marches they had endured on the preceding days, they must have been exhausted.

Together with the 8th Royal West Kent Brigade, the 9th East Surreys, formed the firing line for 72nd Brigade.   Support was provided by the 8th Buffs and 8th Queens.  The attack carried through to the enemy trenches but the wire could not be breached and the men were caught in heavy machine gun cross fire.  The order was given to retire which, according to the Battalion war diary, was carried out in good order.  The 24th Division remained in the trenches under heavy shelling until relieved by the Guards Division. The loss to the Battalion was heavy:  14 officers, including Berkeley Dealtry, and 438 other ranks.

Berkeley is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.  His brother Adrian served with the Suffolk Regiment and survived the war, dying in 1959.  Cosmo Dealtry lived until 1965.  Kathleen Clarice Cornwell Dealtry remarried, continued writing and died in Hove in 1954.

Monday, 16 May 2011

This week's plan of action

After a dull weekend with a poorly daughter  I am looking forward to a more exciting week!

I am planning to post about the faintly scandalous H A B Dealtry and, having finally tracked him down, A Staffieri.

I also want to revisit the cemetery.  I found myself there early yesterday morning while walking the dog and found several of the graves of men listed on the war memorial.  In addition, I noticed that it was the anniversary of the attack on the SS War Grange (I posted about it yesterday) - the five crew members who were killed are buried in the cemetery.  I managed to take photos of a couple of gravestones on my 'phone, but the dog really didn't like being there - she started barking (very unusual) and headed for the exit.  So, I shall be going back, photographing and also tidying up the graves a bit - they aren't a mess, just neglected.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

15 May 1918 - Torpedoing of SS War Grange

On this day in 1918 the SS War Grange was torpedoed by an enemy U-Boat in the Bristol Channel some 7 miles off Newquay's Towan Head.  The town's lifeboat was launched to help the stricken vessel, but five of the steamer's crew were lost.  They are commemorated on a plaque in St Michael's Church and are buried in the town cemetery.

The SS War Grange was a new 3,100 tonne steamer, built the previous year.  She worked the Bordeaux to Cardiff route.  On 15 May she was attacked when approximately 7 miles north of Towan Head by U 55 under the command of Wilhelm Werner.  The Newquay lifeboat was launched to aid the stricken steamer; this was the first launch for a new boat, the John Stevens 5 having been lost the previous year.

The steamer was brought up onto Towan Beach where it remained until salvaged.  The photograph shows the ship lying just outside Newquay Harbour at Towan Beach.

Although the men are not commemorated on the war memorial, there is a plaque in St Michael's Church, which reads:

In Memory of
Frank Henry Selby 1st Engineer
Walter Klotz 2nd Engineer
John Appleby 3rd Engineer
James Cunningham Mann Cabin Boy
Abdul Mahjed Donkeyman
Of SS War Grange
15th May 1918
Who Passed On In The Service Of This Country

Frank Selby (born c 1873) of Westcliff, Essex left over £3,000 to his brother, Thomas Selby.  Walter Klotz (born c 1876) was from Durham and left a widow, Mary Park Klotz.  John Appleby was 21 years old when he died whilst James Mann was only 17.  According to the death index Abdul was born around 1880.  

Abdul Mahjed's Grave Marker in Newquay Cemetery

I have not been able to access much information about the SS War Grange this week - I know that Newquay Old Cornwall Society have information in their archives, but can't visit until half term.  I would like to acknowledge the Newquay RNLI website where I found the photograph (visit them here for more photographs of Newquay's past lifeboats) and UBoat Net for the information on U 55.  

I had also hoped to visit the cemetery this afternoon and lay some flowers, but my daughter is ill today, so it may have to wait.  

This post will be updated when I find more information - I just thought it fitting to post something on the anniversary of the crew's loss.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

D H O'Flaherty

Douglas Hill O'Flaherty
Born 9 May 1880, Belfast    Killed in Action 1 July 1916 at Thiepval
Captain, 15 Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

Douglas was the eldest child of Francis Hale O'Flaherty, a linen merchant, and his wife Harriet Isabella Felton.  Francis and Harriet had married in Belfast the year before Douglas' birth.  They had two more children, Wilfred in 1882 and Norah in 1884.  

Douglas was sent to an English public school, Bedford County School, in Ampthill Road, Kempston.  Apparently the School had a fine sporting reputation, being especially proud of its cricket team.  Perhaps this rubbed off on Douglas because as an adult he remained a keen cricketer, playing for the North of  Ireland Cricket Club.  

Although the School closed in 1916 it had a war memorial tablet on which Douglas' name appears.  When the building was demolished in 1964 the memorial was transferred to Elstow Abbey, where it remains today.

The 1901 Census shows Douglas back in Belfast with his parents and siblings.  He and his brother are apprenticed, whilst younger sister Norah is still at school.  As far as I can tell, Francis O'Flaherty died later that year.  By 1911, the only member of the family left in Belfast is Douglas; he is living as a boarder in University Street and working as a Stocks Cashier.  The following year, on 4 June 1912,  he married Beatrice Ewing (shown as "Erving" in some records).  This was possibly Beatrice's second marriage and she may have had a daughter from her first marriage, also named Beatrice.

Prior to the outbreak of war, Douglas had joined the Ulster Volunteer Force and became a company commander. When war broke out the Ulster Division was formed and it would seem that Douglas applied for a commission at this time.  By February he was promoted to Captain.  His brother Wilfred was in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  

In July 1915 the Division moved to Seaford, in Sussex where they were inspected first by Lord Kitchener and later by the King.  In October they moved to France, where Douglas' 107th Brigade where attached to 4th Division and engaged in further training.  The Brigade returned to 36th (Ulster) Division in February 1916 and took over a section of the front line, extending south from the River Ancre.  

On 1st July 1916 Douglas was to see action in the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme, at the Battle of Albert. At 8.15am the action began for Douglas.  His battalion reported heavy casualties but were able to capture a section of the German line.  They were desperate for reinforcements, but none were available.  One desperate company sent 14 runners back, only one of whom got through.  The German barrage lasted for five hours and gradually chipped away at the Battalion.  Several officers were wounded or killed, including Douglas.  According to a witness he was hit by a shell fragment and was killed instantly.  318 of his comrades in the battalion died on that day.

Douglas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as well as the Belfast War Memorial, the Belfast Institute Memorial (from whose website I found Douglas' photograph and the war diary extracts) and the Bedford County School memorial.  But why the Newquay War Memorial?

Douglas' connection to Newquay perplexed me for some time.  At first I imagined that his wife or mother must have been born in the town, but I quickly ruled that out.  Eventually I found a 1940 probate record for his sister, Norah O'Flaherty.  Although she died in the Wirral, it mentioned that she had recently lived in Tintagel, so I guessed that she was the connection.  However, I couldn't find any record of her, despite searching the 1911 Census and some street directories.  Eventually, I found both Norah and her mother in Newquay in 1911.  Their entry had been mistranscribed as "O'Flakerty".  So, Harriet and Norah were living at Trenninick, Newquay, in 1911 and possibly for some time afterwards, hence Douglas' name on the memorial.  Harriet died in the Wirral in 1943.