Martha Silvester

Military Monday – Albert Espley (1896-1916)

Albert Espley is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Enoch Espley and Ann Lymer. My wife and Albert’s common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Albert was born in 1896 in Hanley, Staffordshire and his birth is registered in Q2.

I haven’t been able to find any service records for Albert on http://www.ancestry.co.uk or http://www.findmypast.co.uk. However there is some information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – http://www.cwgc.org and on http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk.

I know that Albert was a Private in the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. His service number was 19584.

The 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards was formed on 14 July 1915 and mobilised for war on 19 August 1915.

Albert was killed in action on 25 September 1916. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

The following information is taken from the CWGC website.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.



In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.



The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.



The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932 (originally scheduled for 16 May but due to the death of French President Doumer the ceremony was postponed until August).



The dead of other Commonwealth countries, who died on the Somme and have no known graves, are commemorated on national memorials elsewhere.

Thiepval Memorial

Military Monday – John Espley (1883-1938)

John Espley is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Daniel Tilstone Espley and Jane Roe. The common ancestors of my wife and John are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

John was born in 1883 in Stockport, Cheshire and his birth is registered in Q1.

John enlisted for service on 22 November 1915 at the age of 32 years and 10 months. His military service number was 550125 and he was assigned to the Army Reserve.

It appears from the records I have been able to find on http://www.ancestry.co.uk that John did not face active service in France.

John was eventually mobilised on 18 April 1917. There is a letter from the War Office dated 14 April 1917 posting him to the Inland Waterway & Docks Section of The Royal Engineers.

Although I can’t find details of the promotion in the records available on http://www.ancestry.co.uk it appears that John achieved the rank of sergeant major.

He was demobilised on 28 April 1919.

After the war John married Florence Stead in 1920 in Stockport. He died on 23 September 1938.

Military Monday – Amos William Espley (1893-1969)

Amos William Espley is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are James Espley and Sarah Wakefield. The common ancestors of my wife and Amos are James Espley and Martha Silvester, my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Amos was born in 1893 in Stockport, Cheshire and his birth is registered in Q4.

On 7 September 1912 Amos married Florence Poole and they lived at 24 Long Side Street, Heaton Moss, Stockport. He was employed as a “carter”.

Amos enlisted in the army very quickly after was declared. He joined up in Halifax on 20 August 1914 and was assigned to the 8th Battalion The Duke Of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. His military service number was 10920.

It appears from the records I have been able to find on http://www.ancestry.co.uk that Amos was stationed in Grantham in 1915. I haven’t been able to find any reference to service in France for example.

Amos “illegally absented himself without leave” from Grantham on 3 March 1915. There followed a Court of Inquiry on 1 April 1915 – see report below. The result was that Amos was “sent down”.

Amos William Espley - Court of Inquiry

Amos William Espley – Court of Inquiry

However I can’t find any record that he was physically found and incarcerated at all. There is reference in his military records that he was “struck off” as a deserter on 3 April 1915.

So I really have no idea what happened to Amos between 1915 and the end of the war, why he absented himself or what efforts the army made to find him.

On this day … 28th July

1700 … Henry Hurtley was born in Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire.  His parents were James Hurtley and Agnes Lawson.  He is my 5x great grandfather.

1806 … James Espley and Martha Silvester were married at Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire.  They are my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

1978 … Joseph Dawson died at Otley hospital in Yorkshire.  He is my grandfather.

On this day … 22nd July

1858 … Martha Espley (nee Silvester) died in Biddulph, Staffordshire.  She is my wife’s 3x great grandmother.

1877 … Arthur Edward Espley was born at Chell in Staffordshire.  His parents were Henry Espley and Ellen Hannah Clewley.  He is my wife’s 2nd cousin 2x removed.

1912 … William Dawson was buried at Holy Trinity church in Cowling, West Yorkshire.  He is my 2nd great grand uncle.