Saturday, 30 April 2011

Samuel Burt

Samuel Burt
Born in 1894 at Cubert, Cornwall  Died 17 April 1918 in or around the Lys Valley
Pte 240821 1/5 Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Samuel was the eighth of nine children born to his parents Samuel Burt and Ellen Jane Rippon.  He had three brothers, John, Edward and Frederick, but I can find no record of their having served in the war; this doesn't mean that they didn't - the majority of World War 1 records were burnt in the Blitz.  Had Samuel not been killed I would have no record of him either.  Samuel also had five sisters; Margaretta, Elizabeth Jane (who may have died before 1901), Ethel and Mabel.  The family were brought up in Cubert, in the hamlet of Tresean.

Samuel Burt Snr had a hard life.  By the age of twelve he was already labouring at a mine.  He also worked as an agricultural labourer, an iron miner and a quarryman.  He spent his early years living in his grandfather's house with his grandparents, their unmarried daughters and his sister.  It is possible that he and his sister were illegitimate.  In 1880 Samuel married Ellen Jane Rippon, a Perranzabuloe woman slightly his senior.  They made their home in the area Samuel grew up.

Samuel Burt Jnr joined the 1/5 Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, like many other young men from the area.  The Battalion was converted to a Pioneer Battalion in April 1916 and was attached to 61st (2nd Midland) Division.  They left England for Le Havre, landing on 22 May 1916.

Unfortunately Samuel's Division's first action, at Fromelles, was disastrous.  The attack at Fromelles was part of the larger offensive to the south on the Somme.  The Division did not succeed in making any impression on the enemy, gained no ground nor drew enemy reserves away from the fighting on the Somme.  They did however sustained heavy casualties. The Division, with its reputation severely tarnished, was used for the remainder of the year in holding trench lines. 

During 1917 Samuel might have been involved with his Division's operations at Ancre and Cambrai as well as the Battle of Langemarck, which was a part of the larger 3rd Battle of Ypres.  In March 1918 the Division was faced with a massive offensive from the German army.  The Division was in a forward position and faced three enemy Divisions.  Many men were lost during the fighting on 21/22 March, but Samuel lived to fight again, this time in the Battle of the Lys.

I believe that Samuel must have been killed either during the Battle of Estaires or Hazebrouck, both of which were phases of the larger Battle of Lys.  Samuel's body was not recovered but he is commemorated at the Loos Memorial on Panel 68.

There are still Burts in and around Newquay today although I don't know if they are directly related to Samuel.  I have established that his eldest sister, Margaretta, did not marry and died in 1944.

Monday, 25 April 2011

S Jacka - An Australian Cornishman on ANZAC Day

Sydney Jacka

Born in 1893 at Sydney, NSW, Australia.  Died 6 November 1914 in or near Bristol.
Pte 1969 2nd Wessex Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Sydney Jacka was born in Sydney, Australia in 1893 to John and Ellen Jacka.  The NSW register shows his middle initial as "E", however his is listed as Sydney James Jacka on the list of soldiers dying in WW1.  What is certain is that his father was Newquay born and bred.  John's mother, Elizabeth, appears to have been widowed early and brough John and his siblings up herself, working as a dressmaker into her seventies to support herself and her family.  John made a living as a carpenter and joiner and plied his trade in Australia for a while.  However, by the turn of the century he was back in Newquay living in Belmont Place, just up the road from his mother.  Sydney had three sisters and a younger brother, Ernest, born in Newquay in 1899. 

Sydney clearly answered his country's call promptly and became a driver for the 2nd Wessex Brigade Field Ambulance.  Field Ambulances were not vehicles (as I once thought!) but a mobile front line medical unit.  Sydney would have been driving the horses pulling the carts carrying equipment.  I have no information as to how Sydney met his death; perhaps it was simply an accident, perhaps he became ill.  He is buried in Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.  As an Australian Sydney is also listed on the Australian Commemorative Roll. 

With Sydney's death John and Ellen Jacka lost their only surviving son; young Ernest had died aged three.  They appear to have continued living in Belmont Place for many years. 

Writing about Sydney today is something of a coincidence.  On my family history blog today I have written about two of my great uncles.  They lived in Bristol, not far from Arnos Vale Cemetery, but emigrated to Sydney, NSW from where they embarked for Gallipoli and then the Western Front where they were killed in action.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

R C Ennor

Reginald Charles Ennor

Born 1891 in Newquay, Cornwall.  Died of wounds 10 October 1916, Leeds Hospital, Leeds.  
No. 6468 Pte 3/7th City of London Regiment (formerly No. 24601 9th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Reginald Ennor was a part of a well-known Newquay family.  I believe that his grandfather was John Ennor Snr who was responsible for the building of a great deal of Victorian Newquay.  His father was John Ennor Jnr (who I had problems finding on Census returns - a transcriber has mistaken "Jnr" for the surname "Jrit" and indexed it accordingly!) and his mother Maria.  On the 1881 Census John and Maria are intriguing living at "Fancy Shop" - Maria being the proprieter of the establishment. 

Reginald enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and was attached to the 9th Battalion.  This was a Reserve Battalion, raised at Falmouth in October 1914.  In September 1916 the Reserve Battalions were reorganised and as a result the 9th was absorbed into the Training Reserve of the 10th Reserve Brigade. Presumably at this point Reginald was attached to the 3/7th Battalion of the London Regiment.

The 7th Battalion was nicknamed the "Shiny Seventh" and arrived in France in March 1915 with 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division.  If Reginald joined them in September 1916 and died the following month it is likely he received his wounds at either the Battles of High Wood or Butte de Warlencourt - as he had time to be evacuated to the military hospital at Leeds, it seems likely to have been the former.

Reginald's family brought his body back to Newquay for burial; he lies in the town cemetery.  His mother died the following year, his father continued to live on Tower Road (this is misspelt on the Commonwealth War Graves site as "Lower Road") for a number of years. 

There are still a number of Ennors living in Newquay.

Update 18 July 2011

I have found some more information about Reginald from the Cornish Guardian dated 20 October 1916.  According to the article Reginald was "highly respected by all who knew him".  He apparently excelled as a high diver and football player.  His death at Leeds Military Hospital was due to wounds received in battle.  Reginald's brother Hubert was at the front serving as a QSM with the Durham Light Infantry.

There is a photograph of Reginald, which I will obtain when I visit the Cornish Studies Library.

Friday, 22 April 2011

"Hell could find no worse..."

On this day in 1915 the 2nd Battle of Ypres began.  It saw the Germans use gas for the first time.  One soldier recalling the gas attacks at Ypres described the horror of finding his gassed comrades - the words in the title are his. The Dorset Regiment reacted with a new motto "No Prisoners".

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

W H North

William Hubert North

Born 22 February 1872 in Walsall, Staffordshire.  Died 29 November 1915.
Enlisted in Canada
No 5722 Sapper in the Canadian Engineers Divisional Signals Company.

William North was the son of John and Mary North of Walsall.  William North Snr moved his family to Newquay at some time around 1880 and earned his living as a general merchant.  The family lived at Tolcarne Road.  In the next ten years William Snr moved into the China Clay business and the family relocated to Croydon and then Stoke Newington, but William Jnr is not with the rest of the family.  By 1901 William Snr was back in Newquay at Beachfield Crescent, but a William H North of the right age and birthplace is living in Cardiff where he is a Steamship Broker - maybe this is "our" William North.

At the outbreak of the war William had emigrated to Canada and enlisted there on 23 September 1914.  He gives his next of kin as his wife, Winifred, who is living in Newquay.  He gives his occupation as "merchant".  I do not have a photograph of William, but his service record tells us that he was 5'9 1/2" tall with black hair and blue eyes. 

William died in 1915 and is buried in Colchester Cemetery. Winifred was still living in Tower Road, Newquay at that time.  As far as I can tell, she did not remarry and lived on until 1960. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Albert Spencer Bolwell

Albert Spencer Bolwell

Born 1892 at Swainswick, Bath.  Died of wounds on 30th March 1918 on the Western Front.
Enlisted at Newquay
No. 240862 Lance Corporal in 1/5 Battalion of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

At first glance, Albert doesn't appear to be a Cornishman, having been born in Somerset.  However, his mother, Emma Jane Gerry, was born in Newquay in 1857 to Thomas and Catherine Gerry.  Thomas was a Crantock born quarry worker and he brought his family up at St Columb Minor.

Emma married Arthur Bolwell, a cabinet maker from Swainswick, and moved to Somerset.  By 1897 Emma was a widow and had lost two of her young children.  At some time before 1911 Albert moved to Newquay and it was here that he enlisted in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  His battalion were sent to the Western Front in 1916 and remained there for the duration of the war.  Sadly, Albert did not return, dying of wounds in 1918.  Albert is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

I believe that Albert's mother, Emma, lived until 1942.  Whether Albert has any living relatives, I do not know.