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.

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