Wednesday, 4 May 2011

R A Nankervis

Reginald Arthur Nankervis
Born 1899 at Newquay.  Died 3 March 1915 at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Bugler 1575 1/5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Reginald was brought up in Newquay by his father Thomas, a mason, and Mary Ellen.  The couple had several other children - Elizabeth, Thomas J and Phyllis were all Reginald's senior - there may have been more after him. 

Thomas was a Penzance man, the son of a mariner.  He moved to Newquay to follow his town trade in the 1880s and by 1901 was working for himself with "serpentine and marble" according to the Census.  He had married Mary Ellen Hockin in 1892.  The couple lived in Tower Road. 

Young Reginald became a bugler in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  It is possible that his brother Thomas joined him in the regiment; there are medal cards for two Thomas Nankervis' - one listed in just the DCLI, the other, Thomas J, as a Sergeant first with the 2/4th DCLI and then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian Army.  In either case it looks likely that Mr and Mrs Nankervis got back one son at least.

Reginald died on 3 March 1915 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission simply lists him as "died", so whether it was an accident or illness is unclear.  He must have been a popular lad because he is commemorated not only on the war memorial but also in St Michael's Church in Newquay, where there is a plaque to Reginald.  It reads:

In memory of Bugler Reginald Arthur Nankervis
Who died at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
On the 3rd March 1915 Aged 16 years
This tablet is erected by his comrades
The officers, NCO's and Men of the "D" Co. 5th DCLI

Update 18 July 2011

I found some further information about Reginald in the 12 March 1915 edition of the Newquay Express.  The article mentions that Reginald was only 15 and had joined the regiment 13 months before his death.  He died of meningitis following a short illness at Walker's Gate Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  At his funeral his fellow buglers acted as coffin bearers.

Reginald's elder brother is stated to be Sergeant James Nankervis, bandmaster of the 4th DCLI.

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