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.