Military Monday

Military Monday – Richard Henry Espley (1906-2006)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Richard Henry Espley is my wife’s 1st cousin 1x removed. In other words he is a nephew of her grandfather.

Richard was born on 27 December 1906 to parents Frank Espley and Florence May Phillips.

In the 1911 census Richard was living with his parents and sister, Margaret, at 25 Duke Street, Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Up until recently I didn’t have any information about Richard between 1911 and the date of his marriage to Isabella Keddie Cuthbert on 7 November 1934 at St Andrews & St Leonards, Fife, Scotland.

I now know that he joined the RAF at the age of about 18. He met Isabella while stationed at St Andrews and they went on to have three children.

In the 1939 Register the family are living at 73 Oakenhall Avenue, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

Richard was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his valour in connection with Coastal Command during WW2.

Below is an article from the St Andrews Citizen of 30 January 1943.

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AWARDED BEM – Pilot Officer Richard Henry Espley, whose wife is a St Andrean, has received the BEM from the hands of the King at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his valour in connection with the Coastal Command. Pilot Officer Espley is a native of Pontefract and has served 18 years in the RAF. He is 36 years of age and his wife and three children have resided in Hucknall for the past four years. Before her marriage Mrs Espley was Isabella Keddie Cuthbert daughter of Mr Alexander Cuthbert of 2 St Nicholas Street, who was in three wars, the Zulu and the Boer Wars and the Great War. Mr Cuthbert is at present undergoing treatment in DRI for internal trouble. He is 75 years of age. Mrs Espley was married eight years ago, and met her husband when he was stationed in the neighbourhood of St Andrews.

Richard died at the age of 99 in May 2006. Isabella had died 22 years earlier about May 1984.

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British Empire Medal

 

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Military Monday – Clement May (1895-1916)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Clement May is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. His parents are John May and Mary Ellen Buckley. Our common ancestors are Thomas Buckley and Henrietta Mason, my 3x great grandparents.

Clement was born sometime in Q2 of 1895 and was the fourth of at least ten children to John and Mary Ellen May.

There doesn’t appear to be any surviving military service records for Clement. However I have been able to establish that he was a Private in the West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales Own) Regiment. He was in the 16th Battalion and his regimental service number was 32857.

His entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website shows that Clement died of wounds on 13 November 1916.

I have tried to find out which battle he might have been in at the time of his death. The Battle of the Ancre seems to be the most likely.

At the time of his death Clement had £2 12s 3d credit in his military account – authority was given on 3 March 1917 for this to be paid to his father. The in August 1919 a War Gratuity payment of £3 was also paid to the family. The image below is from the Army Register of Soldiers Effects from www.ancestry.co.uk

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Clement is buried at the Couin British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais region of France.

The following information is from the CWGC.

Couin Chateau was used as a divisional headquarters from 1915 to 1918.

The British Cemetery was begun in May 1916 by the field ambulances of the 48th (South Midland) Division, and was used by units and field ambulances during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It was closed at the end of January 1917 because further extension was not possible, and now contains 401 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and three German graves.

The new British Cemetery was opened across the road and was used by field ambulances from January 1917 (with a long interval in 1917-18) to the end of the war. One grave was moved there after the Armistice from a cemetery at Coigneux. It now contains 360 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and two German graves.

Both cemeteries were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

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Military Monday – David Musgrove Bratherton (1894-1916)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

David Musgrove Bratherton is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are William Robert Bratherton and Rachel Musgrove. Our common ancestors are William Musgrove and Harriot Francis, my 3x great grandparents.

David was born in Lancaster, Lancashire in 1894 – his birth is registered in the September quarter. He was the only son of William and Rachel.

In the 1901 and 1911 census returns the family are living at Park Road, Lancaster. In 1911 David’s occupation is given as “cotton weaver”.

Unfortunately I can’t find any remaining service records for David either on Ancestry or Find My Past.

I do know that David was a Private in the Royal Fusiliers, 8th Battalion. His service number was 1917.

Looking at the information available at http://www.1914-1918.net it seems as though the 8th Battalion were under the command of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. They landed in France in May 1915 and disbanded in France on 6 February 1918.

I know that David was killed in action on 7 July 1916. It is possible that David was killed during The Battle of Albert – one of the many Battles of the Somme in 1916. Below is an extract from http://www.1914-1918.net about the 12th (Eastern) Division battles during WW1.

The Battles of the Somme 1916

The Battle of Albert

By 18 June 1916 the Division was based at Flesselles. It immediately carried out a training exercise to practice a planned attack to capture Martinpuich. This action never materialised. The Division moved up to Baizieux on 30 June and reached Hencourt and Millencourt by 10am on 1 July, in reserve to the British infantry attack that had begun earlier that morning. It moved to relieve 8th Division, which had suffered a severe repulse at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, during the night of 1-2 July.

Ordered to continue the attack on Ovillers, 35th and 37th Brigades went in at 3.15am on 2 July (just before this, Divisional HQ received information that a British attack on their left, by X Corps against Thiepval, was cancelled). Unlike the troops of 8th Division who had to cross a wide no man’s land in the bright morning sun, the 12th Division attack, at night, adopted sensible tactics of advancing across no man’s land while the artillery bombarded the enemy and rushed the last few yards when it lifted. The first wave of the attack met with mixed success: for example the 9th Essex came under heavy shellfire before it had reached even the British front line; it was difficult to keep direction in the deep shell holes; yet the 5th Berkshire and 7th Suffolk crossed, finding the enemy wire was well cut, and took at least two lines of German trenches before becoming bogged in intense bombing fights in the trenches. 6th Queen’s were held up by wire and machine gun fire from Mash Valley. Heavy fire from the Leipzig salient – where X Corps would have been attacking – halted supporting units in no man’s land, and the attack failed to achieve its objective.

On 7 July 36th Brigade, with 74th Brigade attached to the Division for the purpose, attacked again and in spite of heavy casualties from German artillery and machine guns in Mash Valley, succeeded in holding the first and second lines that they captured on the spur on which Ovillers stands. By the time the Division was withdrawn to the area on Contay on 9 July, 189 officers and 4576 men had become casualties.

David is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. The following information is taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

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).


Thiepval Memorial

Military Monday – Dent Stowell (1882-1948) – part 1

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Dent StowellThis is the first of a three part series about Dent Stowell, my 2nd cousin 3x removed. He was born on 14 July 1882 in Burnley, Lancashire to parents Thomas Stowell and Ann Wroe. Our common ancestors are John Stowell and Ann Riddeoff (my 4x great grandparents).

As far as I can tell Dent was the last of nine children to be born to Thomas and Ann Stowell. He was baptised on 20 August 1882 at St John the Baptist church in Burnley.

On 30 March 1900 Dent took himself to the army recruiting office in Burnley and signed up for “short service” of three years in the military. The next day he passed his medical examination and was signed fit for the army. He was appointed to the 2nd Royal Highlanders Regiment with a service number of 7778.

He joined his regiment in Perth, Scotland on 4 April 1900.

I can see from his service records available online that Dent was promoted to the rank of Corporal on 28 February 1902. Then two months later on 24 April 1902 he was posted to South Africa.

He completed his three years “short service” on 30 March 1903 and was transferred to the Army Reserve for nine years.

Back in civilian life Dent married Rose Ann Cairns on 5 January 1907 at St Matthew the Apostle, Habergham Eaves, Lancashire. Dent was 24 years old and Rose Ann was 19.

Over the next five years Dent and Rose Ann had four children:-

Mary Ann Stowell – born 16 December 1907
Dent Stowell – born 1 March 1909
Clifford Stowell – born 25 June 1910 (died December 1913)
Albert Stowell – born 20 May 1912

In the 1911 census the family are living at 2 Zion Street, Burnley. Dent is working as a “plate moulder” and Rose Ann as a “weaver”.

At the outbreak of WW1 Dent rejoined the army and was mobilised at Perth on 5 August 1914. He had several postings to France over the next three years. He was wounded in action in November 1917 and then posted home from 27 November 1917 until he was demobbed on 24 March 1919.

Here is an account of Dent’s experiences in the Burnley News of 3 October 1914.

Burnley News 3 Oct 1914 - 1WOUNDED BURNLEY SOLDIER

IN THE FIRING LINE AT THE AISNE

A thrilling narrative of incidents which have taken place at the Battle of the Aisne has been told to a Burnley News reporter by Private Dent Stowell, of 2 Zion Street, who has returned home to recuperate after having been wounded. Private Stowell is a Reservist in the Black Watch.

“I reported myself at Perth Depot, Nig Camp, Cromarty,” he said, “and from there I went to Southampton, where we embarked for France. After a short time in camp at St Lazaire, we had a four days’ journey on the railway, and then we marched for four days, at about thirty miles a day, up to the firing line, about forty miles from operations at the Aisne, where there is a firing line of 150 miles.

“We thought then that there were no Germans about, but we could see dead horses, pieces of legs, heads, and other gruesome objects. On Sunday night, September 13th, the German bullets and shells began flying over our heads. At five o’clock on the following morning, we marched out on to a hill, and laid in a trench from about 6 o’clock to 3 in the afternoon. The Germans were shelling the position all the time, Burnley News 3 Oct 1914 -2and it was not safe for anyone to lift up his head. My mate did so, and he was shot through the brain.

“At 3 o’clock, someone said ‘Retire,’ and we had almost forty yards to run to the edge of the hill. During the run a German shell burst, sending me down the side of the hill. I remained unconscious until between 2 and 3 o’clock on the following morning, I was wounded by a bullet which went into my left knee, and when I recovered consciousness my shoe was full of blood.”

STRETCHER BEARER SHOT

“While they were carrying me, one of the stretcher bearers was shot; consequently another fellow carried me down to the hospital. When we got there the bullet was extracted.”

After describing his further passage from the scene of conflict by Army Service Corps and motor wagons, and how he was conveyed via temporary bridges of boats and planks, Private Stowell retuned to his experiences in the operations against the enemy. “I eked out existence on one biscuit on the previous Saturday night,” he remarked. “In the fighting a bullet went in my bully-beef tin on my back. Much havoc was caused to my equipment. I could not get a chance to fire back. It was an artillery battle, not an infantry one. Men were mowed down like grass under the terrific fire of the Maxims.

“I was conveyed to Le Mons, where the wound was dressed. Then we went along to Nancy, where I was again attended to. Subsequently I was taken to St Lazaire. I left there last Wednesday, and landed at Southampton on Friday morning. I was treated at the Southern Hospital, Birmingham, which I left yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

“It is indeed a sight for anyone to see which confronts you where fighting operations are going on,” Private Stowell continued. “The Germans had no ‘grub’ for four days. On Monday morning, the 14th, they were reinforced with 40,000 troops, and provisions to last them six months. Every place we got into we found they had looted. We could get nothing.”

Speaking about the French people, Private Stowell remarked enthusiastically that they were very good. “They will give anything to the English troops. We lived on nothing but fruit. The Germans took all the bread obtainable. Tobacco and cigarettes were sent out, but we never got it.

“Oh, yes, we wanted it,” he continued, smilingly. “If you saw one of your men with a cigarette, you would have ‘killed’ him for it.

The massacre is awful. There are thousands of Germans now in the trenches who cannot be buried. Our men cannot go up the hill to bury our dead. Many a hundred bled to death on that hill where I was. The men are healthy enough, but they cannot get any ‘grub.’ Marching to the firing line, we average between 20 and 30 miles a day. At night we try to get into a village. We find the villages have been looted, but there are barns and haylofts we can sleep in. It is not very comfortable to be sleeping 200 in a hayloft that really only accommodates about 10. After about three hours there, we are called to march again.”

Asked as to whether he had met any other Burnley men during his experience at the front he said, “I bade good-bye to my pal, J W Hurst, of Padiham, on Monday. He belonged to the C Company. We went out together. Then his Company went one way and mine another. On Monday night 200 came in out of 1260 at roll call. There were about 30 left out of the 200 on Tuesday. As I said before, they mowed us down like grass, chiefly with Maxim guns.

“I can tell you that I did say my prayers when I got up in the morning with bullets flying round. You think any morning that before long you may be a ‘gone-er’.”

“One of the 16th Lancers was on horseback when a shell burst close to him, and left only his legs in the stirrup, carrying his body away! It is nothing to see a horse getting blown in two.”

“You get used to it,” summed up the soldier laconically. “I shot one German that I know of. I was two years and eight months in South Africa, but that was a picnic to this.”

Look out for the second instalment of the trilogy next Sunday.

Military Monday – Thomas Baldwin (1888-1917)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Thomas Baldwin is my 1st cousin 2x removed. He was born sometime in the September quarter of 1888 in Eastburn, near Keighley to parents Francis Baldwin and Ellen Dawson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ellen Gawthrop, my 2x great grandparents.

Thomas is a cousin of my grandfather, Joseph Dawson and also of Prince Dawson who died in WW1 on 21 December 1915.

In the 1901 census at the age of 12 Thomas was working as a spinner at a local worsted mill. Ten years later the 1911 census describes his occupation as a warp dresser.

Unfortunately there are no surviving military records for Thomas on either Ancestry or Find My Past so I can’t find out very much information about his service.

I know that he served in the 2nd Battalion / 4th Division of Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding Regiment) holding the rank of Private and his service number was 267218.

Thomas died of wounds on 4 May 1917 while serving in France & Flanders. It is highly likely that he was wounded during the Battle of Arras.  According to information on the excellent website Craven’s Part in The Great War news of his death wasn’t given to his mother until August 1917.

From the same source it seems that Thomas was a prominent player in the Eastburn Cricket Club’s first eleven.

Thomas is buried in Douai Communal Cemetery in France.

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The following information is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Douai was occupied by French troops and the Royal Naval Air Service on the 22nd September, 1914, and captured by the Germans on the 1st October; it remained in enemy hands until the 17th October, 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station was posted in the town from the 28th October, 1918, to the 25th November, 1919.

Douai Communal Cemetery was used during the occupation years of 1914-18 by the Germans for prisoners of war and British, French, Russian, Rumanian and Italian soldiers, as well as German soldiers were buried in it.

During the 1939-45 War Douai was in British hands until the German break through in May, 1940. The 1st Corps Headquarters were at Cuincy, on the western edge of the town, from October, 1939 onwards and Douai was one of the towns from which the Allied advance into Belgium was launched early in May, 1940, only to be followed by the collapse of the French and Belgian units and the consequent withdrawal of the British element towards Dunkirk.

There are now 222 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war commemorated in this site, 19 being unidentified. There are a further 46 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-1945 war here. There are also 247 French, 113 Russsian and 13 Romanian burials of the 1914-1918 war here.

Military Monday – Ernest J Jackson

Ernest J Jackson is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. He is the son of George Ernest Jackson and Elizabeth Ann Gawthrop. Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley – my 3x great grandparents.

Ernest was born about 1897. He had and older brother and sister – Harry Jackson and Florence May Jackson. The family lived in the Padiham area of Lancashire.

Below is a newspaper cutting from the Burnley Express of 11 September 1915.

Ernest Jackson

YOUNG PADIHAM HERO

Mr and Mrs Jackson, of The Anchorage, East Beach, Lytham, had a postcard from their son, Sapper E Jackson, of the Royal Engineers, recently, to say hat he had been wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel, Sapper Jackson took part in the fighting around Hooge, and there it was that he was wounded. The same night that he was wounded he was taken to a dressing station away from the firing line, and subsequently reached the Canadian Hospital at Le Treporte. He is progressing favourably, though the wound is painful. Sapper Jackson pays a tribute to the nurses, who, he says, are kindness itself.

Sapper Jackson has been recommended for the D.C.M. for bravery in carrying his officer, who was wounded, out of danger, under a heavy fire. He is only 18 years of age. He was educated at Sedbergh School, and was a member of the Officers Training Corps there, but preferred going in the ranks to obtaining a commission. He is a son of Mr Jackson, who until two and a half years ago lived in Padiham as a cotton manufacturer, being also interested in the Sadden Printing Co. Sapper E Jackson is a nephew of the late Mr Charles Laycock, of Sabden, and grandson of the late Mr Israel Gawthrop, of Sabden.

His brother, Corpl. H Jackson, is serving in the County Palatine R.F.A., and Miss Jackson has gone for training as a nurse.