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."