Friday, 8 August 2014

B A Pollard

Bertram Alfred Pollard
Born circa 1874, in London?   Killed in Action 13 October 1915 
Buried at Spoilbank Cemetery, Nr Ypres
Company Sergeant Major 3/6084 6th Btn Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

The earliest census return for Bertie is 1881.  Aged 6, he is living in Penzance with 64 year old Elizabeth Wallis, a retired general servant.  She is the head of the household, his relationship to her is "boarder.  His birthplace is stated as Banbury, Oxfordshire.  Ten years later, he is still a boarder with Ms Wallis, though he is now said to have been born in London.  On his army records he said he had been born in Penzance and at one time he lists an "E Wallis" in Penzance as his next of kin, stating that she is his aunt.  There is a Bertram Alfred Pollard recorded as born in Kensington, London in the last quarter of 1874, so perhaps this is Bertie.

His parents are conspicuous by their absence.  On his CWGC records it states that his parents are Mr and Mrs Alfred Pollard of Penzance, though I've not found any other record of them.

Bertie, a harness maker, enlisted with the regular army on 5 June 1893, having already joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry militia .  On 2 June 1873 he had been examined at Bodmin.  He was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, weighed 116 pounds and had a chest measurement of 32 inches - 34 1/2 inches when expanded.  His complexion was sallow, his hair dark brown and his eyes blue.  The examining doctor was unimpressed and considered him unfit due to his chest measurement.  Three days later, a captain declared him fit and Bertie embarked on a long career with the Army with the 2nd Battlion DCLI.  His records show his service at home and abroad as follows:

5 June 1893 - 9 Dec 1894         UK
10 Dec 1894 - 20 Feb 1900      India
21 Feb 1900 - 17 Aug 1901      Ceylon
18 Aug 1901 - 7 June 1905      Home
8 June 1905 - 2 Sept 1907        Gibraltar
3 Sept 1907 - 19 Jan 1910      Bermuda
20 Jan 1910 - 10 Mar 1913    South Africa
11 Mar 1913 - 4 June 1914   Home

On 28 April 1905, Bertie married Alice Ann Jones in Penzance.  

 His discharge came on 4 June 1914, just two months before the outbreak of the Great War.  He and Alice must have found a home in Newquay, as the town is given as his place of residence on the casualty records.  He re-enlisted at Bodmin and was posted not to his previous Battalion, but to the 6th Battalion.

Bertie's medal card shows that he was in France by 21 May 1915.  

The history of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry gives no details of the incident in which Bertie was killed; in fact, it simply states that for the final three months of 1915 in Ypres, nothing of great note happened to the 6th DCLI. 

British wounded being evacuated from Ypres
By Rogers, Gilbert (MBE) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Bertie is buried with three other men of his battalion who fell on 8, 9 and 11 October.

Alice had his gravestone inscribed with the words  "In fondest remembrance RIP".  She appears to have moved back to her native Wales, dying in Cardiff in 1949.  She and Bertie do not appear to have had any children.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

F H Passmore

Frederick Herbert Passmore
Born 1888 in Plaistow, London  Killed in Action 1 May 1918
Buried Nine Elms British Cemetery, Belgium
Lance Corporal 80803 Royal Army Medical Corps  Enlisted Newquay 30 October 1915

Frederick was the son of Frederick Thomas Passmore and Florence Louisa Parr.  The couple married in 1882 in Bristol.  Frederick Snr was a pastor, working as a city missionary in London during his son's childhood.

The couple had four children, one of whom died in infancy.  The three surviving children were:

Edith Miriam b. 1884
Frederick Herbert
Dorothy Winifred b. 1900

By 1911, Mrs Passmore and Dorothy were living in Golf Terrace, Newquay.  Frederick Senior was visiting in Devon at the time of the census.  Frederick Herbert had found work in Bristol as an assistant chemist.  He must have moved back to Newquay by 1915 since that was the year he made two important decisions and both record him as living in Newquay.

Frederick had met Helena Maud Irons, a young woman born, like him, in 1888.  Helena was the daughter of George and Eliza Irons, her father making his living as a master mariner.  Helena worked as a shop assistant and lived with her parents at Alma Place.  On 30 October 1915 Frederick and Helena married in the town and, on the same day, Frederick enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Very little of Frederick's service records survive.  They do tell us that he was a small man, just 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall, with a 33 1/2 inch chest.  The RAMC was probably delighted to have him; he was a registered dispenser and his records show that he passed his first aid course earning him an increment on the pay scale.  He was posted abroad on 31 July 1916.  No doubt he was needed, that being the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Frederick's record shows that he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 27 December 1917.  This is confirmed by the Commonwealth Graves Commission Registration Reports, but he is shown as a Private on both the Roll of Honour and his gravestone.

The CWGC Registration Report shows that four other men of the 75th Field Ambulance died alongside Frederick on 1st May 1918.

His widow asked that his gravestone be inscribed with the words "The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us of all sin".

Helena appears not to have remarried and lived until 1968.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Lamps Went Out

Yesterday marked the centenary of Britain's entry into the Great War.  Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, famously remarked on the eve of war that "The lamps are going out all over Europe and we shall not see them lit again in our life-time".  The British Legion adopted the quote to inspire their Lights Out campaign which called on the British public to turn off their lights, bar one, between 10 and 11 pm to remember the outbreak of war.

I decided that there was only one place for me during Lights Out:  the war memorial.  I set off with a candle, a makeshift lantern and a lighter and was at the war memorial just before 10 pm.  My first problem was the wind.  My plan was to set a candle above the plaque, making it visible from town.  Unfortunately, the wind was blowing too hard to allow the candle to stay alight, so I had to move it around to the other side of the memorial, facing out to sea.  Hopefully, some fishermen spotted it

For the first half-hour or so, I was on my own.  Then I heard the crunching of gravel and two other women arrived.  They set up candles too and we stood and swapped stories.  A rain shower passed over, but we kept vigil.  Just before 11 pm we were joined by a gentleman who had been watching the centenary events on television and had felt moved to get in his car and drive up to the war memorial.

At just about 11 pm it started to pour with rain, which seemed appropriate.  We stayed for a few minutes more and then packed up our candles and left. 89 men of Newquay, and family members, remembered on the centenary and always.