Military Monday

WW1 – 100 Years

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As the world commemorates 100 years since the end of the First World War here is a list of brave men from my family and my wife’s family who fought in either WW1 or WW2. Some made the ultimate sacrifice and some survived and returned home but I’m sure their lives were forever haunted by what they experienced.

WW1

Prince Dawson (1893-1915) John Robert Arthur Steel (1886-1916)
Henry John Grainger Musgrove (1892-1917) Howard Westwood (1896-1916)
Richard James Taylor (1885-1918) Clement May (1895-1916)
David Musgrove Bratherton (1894-1916) Thomas Baldwin (1888-1917)
Fred Paley (1893-1918) Albert Espley (1896-1916)
Robert Alexander Carradice (1890-1919) John Bentley Hurtley (1885-1917)
Cyril Gostelow (1897-1916) Richard Espley (1875-1915)
Jack Gawthrop (1899-1918) Herbert Bolton (1889-1917)
John Ainsworth (1892-1916) Arthur Lockington (1892-1915)
Ernest Aldersley (1899-1918) George Hurtley (1891-1918)
Frederick Espley (1881-1916) Thomas Musgrove (1894-1918)
Ernest Bartholomew (1899-1975) Flather Heap (1897-1962)
Dent Stowell 1882-1948) Ernest J Jackson
Amos William Espley (1893-1969) John Espley (1883-1938)
Thomas Darby (1879-1945) Samuel Buckley (1886-1966)
Hedley Duckworth (1885-1955) Walter Dawson (1883-1942)
Thomas William Paley (1892-1943) Tom Musgrove (1898-1969)
James Musgrove (1894-1925) Harry Musgrove (1889-1974)
William Dawson (1880-1939) Watson Emmott Dawson (1887-1944)
Harry Dawson (1895-1954) Clifford Dawson (1900-1953)
Arthur Dawson (1879-1944) Tom Hurtley (1897-1977)
Jim Hurtley (1887-1947) John Dawson (1890-1961)
Herbert Carradice (1896-1935) Hugh Buckley

WW2

Allen Simpson (1923-1943) Curtis Walker (1918-1942)
John Edward Lord (1917-1944) Robert Scott (1908-1941)
Robert Titterington (1905-1945) Jack Hurtley Thompson (1921-1941)
Philip Melville Cardell (1917-1940) Frederick Ellis Spink DFC (1921-1944)
Richard Henry Espley (1906-2006)

In Flanders’ Fields
by John McCrae (1915)

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Shot days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ fields.

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Allen Simpson (1923-1943) – Update

Allen Simpson is my 1st cousin 1x removed – in other words my dad’s cousin. Our common ancestors are James Dawson and Emma Buckley, my great grandparents.

Allen was killed in action during WW2 and in May 2012 I wrote about him here.

Allen was involved in Operation Slapstick in Italy and was a casualty in the sinking of  HMS Abdiel on 10 September 1943.

Earlier this year I was contacted by Philip after he read my post about Allen.

Philip’s father served in the same regiment as Allen and he survived the sinking of the Abdiel.  Philip was taking a trip to Italy to do some research and very kindly offered to photograph Allens grave in Bari War Cemetery and to place a poppy for me.

I received some fantastic photographs from Philip – see below.

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I am extremely grateful to Philip – I know he had a wonderful time in Italy and that it was a very moving experience.

I have visited a number of Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries in Northern France and it is just so emotional – the grounds are always immaculate and the atmosphere so peaceful.

Military Monday – Flather Heap (1897-1962)

Flather Heap is my 3rd cousin 2x removed. His parents are John Starkie Heap and Martha Elizabeth Forrest. Our common ancestors are Anthony Mason and Mary Brayshaw, my 4x great grandparents.

Flather was born on 1 May 1897 in Keighley, West Yorkshire. He was the youngest of four children.

When the First World War came Flather enlisted for service on 13 November 1915 – he was immediately assigned to the army reserve with a service number of 141238.

He waited a further six moths before being mobilised on 11 May 1916 as a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery. He was posted to No.1 Depot in Newcastle upon Tyne for training and as part of a home based defence unit.

Eventually on 3 January 1917 Flather was posted to France as part of the Expeditionary Force.

On 31 July 1917 Flather was appointed as Acting Bombadier (equivalent to the rank of Corporal) with the 177th Brigade. The promotion was made substantive on 11 November 1917.

On the 8 August 1917 he was wounded in action but I have no other information as to the extent of his injuries. I can also see from his record that he was hospitalised in May 1918 after being “gassed”.

Flather survived the war and was finally demobilised on 8 February 1919.

He returned home to Keighley where he married Clara Bancroft on 28 May 1922.

In the 1939 Register Flather and Clara are living at 2 Morning Street, Keighley. He is working as a “weaving overlooker”.

Clara passed away in 1958 and Flather lived for a further four years before passing toward the end of 1962.

Military Monday – John Robert Arthur Steel (1886-1916)

John Robert Arthur Steel is the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed, Elsie Dodgson.

Elsie was born in 1888 to parents Charles Henry Dodgson and Charlotte Mary Stark. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

Elsie married John Robert Arthur Steel sometime in the September quarter of 1914 in Leeds, West Yorkshire. They had one child – Constance, born on 1 February 1916.

John Robert Arthur Steel had been born towards the end of 1886 in Hunslet, Leeds.

When war broke out he enlisted for service with the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment and was assigned to the 15th Battalion with a service number of 15/1181.

John was killed in action on 1 July 1916 – only five months after the birth of his daughter. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France – the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world.

The following information is taken from the Commonwealth war Graves Commission (CWGC) website.

The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916.

On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 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.

Following lengthy negotiations about the site, construction at Thiepval began in 1928 and was finished in 1932. Foundations were dug to a depth of 30 feet, uncovering wartime tunnels and unexploded ordnance.

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.
Notable commemorations include cricketer Kenneth Hutchings, writer Hector Hugh Munro, also known as Saki and Cedric Dickens, grandson of novelist Charles Dickens. There are also seven holders of the Victoria Cross.

On 1 August 1932, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales unveiled the memorial. Albert Lebrun, President of France and Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial’s architect, attended the ceremony which was in English and French.

Each year on 1 July a ceremony is held at the memorial to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On 1 July 2016, to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, thousands of people attended a special ceremony including members of the British Royal family, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President François Hollande.

Behind the memorial is the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of 300 Commonwealth servicemen and 300 French servicemen. The majority of these men died during the Battle of the Somme, but some also fell in the battles near Loos and Le Quesnel.

Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval Memorial

Military Monday – Ernest Bartholomew (1899-1975)

Ernest Bartholomew is my wife’s 2nd cousin 1x removed. Their common ancestors are Samuel Gostelow and Emma Padley – my wife’s 2x great grandparents.

Ernest was born on 20 March 1899 in Grimsby, Lincolnshire to parents George Bartholomew and Fanny E Rhodes. He was baptised on 12 April 1899 at St. James church in Grimsby.

Living in a major fishing port perhaps it was inevitable that Ernest would join the Royal Navy – and his service was from 23 January 1918 until the end of hostilities.

You can see from his service record below that Ernest served on various ships.

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After the war Ernest returned home to Grimsby where he married Grace Alice Russell – their marriage is registered in the September quarter of 1926. Sometime after their marriage Ernest and Grace moved south to Essex.

In the 1939 Register the couple are living at Stanway Terrace, Tendring, Essex and Ernest is working as a Railway Police Sergeant.

Ernest died on 1 May 1975 and Grace passed away on 14 February 1983.

Military Monday – Henry John Grainger Musgrove (1892-1917)

Henry John Grainger Musgrove is my 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Joseph Musgrove and Bridget Maria Grainger. Our common ancestors are John Musgrove and Catherine Ainsworth, my 2x great grandparents.

Henry was the first of ten children by Joseph and Bridget. He was born on 9 April 1892 and baptised at St. James church, Clitheroe, Lancashire on 29 May 1892.

In the 1911 census Henry’s occupation was given as “baker”.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any remaining records of Henry’s military service. However I know from the newspaper article below that he enlisted with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 11 December 1915. His service number was 21851 and at the time of his death on 24 June 1917 he was serving with the 7th Battalion.

The following article appeared in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 29 June 1917.

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HOW PRIVATE H. MUSGROVE MET HIS DEATH

“It is my sad duty to write and inform you that I buried your son, yesterday (the 24th inst.). He was killed whilst with a working party, the previous night, and as our battalion is close at hand, Captain Kendall asked me to take charge of the burial. I expect the Authorities will inform you in due course, of the place of burial, and that they will erect a cross over his grave. Captain Kendall spoke in the very highest terms of your son’s bravery and usefulness as a soldier, and his death is much lamented by all his comrades. He has given his life for the greatest of all causes, and he now sleeps in an honoured grave, fondly remembered by all who knew him. May God bless and comfort you and all sorrowing relatives.”

The above letter, signed by the Rev. R. Kelso, Chaplain to the Royal Irish Rifles, has been received by Mr. Musgrove, Wilkin Street, and refers to his son, Private Hy. Musgrove, King’s Royal Lancaster Regt., who was 25 years of age, and enlisted on the 11th December, 1915. Deceased was well known throughout the district, being formerly in the employ of Mr. Dawson, Shaw Bridge. At the time he joined the Army, however, he was engaged as a baker for the Billington and Whalley Co-operative Society. He had been in France 13 months.

A couple of weeks later the following article was published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 13 July 1917

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PRIVATE HENRY J. G. MUSGROVE

Official confirmation of the death in action of Private Henry J. G. Musgrove, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regt., was received on Friday last. He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Musgrove, 66, Wilkin Street, a single man aged 25, and was, formerly employed by the Billington and Whalley Co-operative Society. He joined the forces in December, 1915, and went to France the following April. The circumstances under which he met death are given by his C.O. in a letter which is appended. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, who are to be commiserated with in their great loss, have two other sons in France, and one in training.

The first intimation of Private Musgrove’s untimely end came from Captain Pobert Kelso, Chaplain to the 13th Royal Irish Rifles: “It is my sad duty to wrote and inform you that I buried your son, yesterday (the 24th inst.). He was killed whilst with a working party, the previous night, ands our battalion is close at hand, Captain Kendall asked me to take charge of the burial. I expect the Authorities will inform you in due course, of the place of burial, and that they will erect a cross over his grave. Captain Kendall spoke in the very highest terms of your son’s bravery and usefulness as a soldier, and his death is much lamented by all his comrades. He has given his life for the greatest of all causes, and he now sleeps in an honoured grave, fondly remembered by all who knew him. May God bless and comfort you and all sorrowing relatives.”

Captain Kendall, writing on the 2nd inst., said: “It is with the deepest regret that I write to tell you, in case you have not already heard from other sources, of the death in action of your son, No. 21,851 Private Musgrove, of this regiment. He was killed while working in a trench at night, which work was part of the general operations in the Messines ridge. A shell landed in the midst of his party, causing immediate death to him and one of his comrades. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to lose him from my company, as he had many times proved himself a brave and valuable man. On one occasion, a few days before his death, he had volunteered to carry ammunition through heavy fire, and, altogether, was one of the men whom we could least afford to lose. I can only hope that the fact that he died a noble death, and also the fact that we miss him very much out here, may help to lighten your great sorrow.”

Private Musgrove had been connected with St. Mary’s Sunday School from childhood, and a hymn was sung to his memory and reference made to his death, on Sunday last. A memorial service, conducted by the Vicar, was held in the Church on Wednesday night.

Henry is buried at Wytschaete Military Cemetery in Belgium.

The following information is taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website.

Wytschaete (now Wijtschate) was taken by the Germans early in November 1914. It was recovered by Commonwealth forces during the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917, but fell into German hands once more on 16 April 1918. The village was recovered for the last time on 28 September. The cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated positions surrounding Wytschaete and the following small battlefield cemeteries:- REST AND BE THANKFUL FARM, KEMMEL: 23 UK burials (13 of them 2nd Suffolks), mostly of 1915. R.E. (BEAVER) FARM, KEMMEL: 18 Royal Engineer and four Canadian Engineer burials of 1915-1917. The CEMETERY NEAR ROSSIGNOL ESTAMINET, KEMMEL: 18 UK burials (11 of the 1st Wiltshire Regiment), of January-April 1915. SOMER FARM CEMETERY No.2, WYTSCHAETE: 13 UK burials made by IXth Corps in June 1917. GORDON CEMETERY, KEMMEL: 19 UK burials (14 of them 1st Gordon Highlanders) of January-May 1915. There are now 1,002 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 673 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 16 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate casualties known to have been buried at the Cemetery near Rossignol Estaminet, RE (Beaver) Farm and Rest and be Thankful Farm, whose graves could not be found on concentration. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

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Wytschaete Military Cemetery

The article published in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on 19 July 1917 refers to three other brothers of Henry – at that time two were already in France and the other was in training.

These brothers were James, Albert and Tom. I am very happy to say that all three survived the war.

The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times published another article about the family on 19 October 1917.

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There are some pleasant incidents even in France, amid all the horrors and suffering entailed by the carnage of war. One such happened last Friday, when brothers Tom and Jim Musgrove (sons of Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, Wilkin Street), met for the first time in two years. Each has since written to his parents saying how well the other looked, and what a pleasure it was to meet after such a long interval. Jim, who is attached to the Lancs. Fusiliers, has been at the front two years, and Tom, who was on his way to the Blue Cross hospital with a horse when the unexpected meeting took place, has been out with the East Lancs. nine months. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove lost a son, henry, in action, and a fourth son, Albert, is a driver in the R.F.A., and is also across the Channel.

Military Monday – Curtis Walker (1918-1942)

Curtis Walker was born about 1918 – his birth is registered in Skipton, Yorkshire, in the first quarter of 1919. His parents are Curtis Walker and Annie Paley. Our common ancestor is Ellen Paley, my great grandmother.

Curtis doesn’t appear in the 1939 Register, I guess this may be because he was already away serving in the military,

So the next record I have for Curtis is a marriage to Florence Mabel Newhouse sometime in the December quarter of 1940, registered in Skipton.

Curtis served in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) as a driver in WW2 – his service number was T/113820.

According to the records on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website Curtis died on 14 November 1942 while attached to the HQ 50th (Northumbrian) Division.

Curtis is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

The following information is taken from the CWGC website.

The Alamein Memorial forms the entrance to the El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt. The memorial commemorates nearly 12,000 servicemen of the British Empire who died in the Western Desert campaigns of the Second World War including the Battle of El Alamein.

The Battle of El Alamein marked the culmination of the North African campaign between Commonwealth forces and the Axis forces (German and Italian). The Allies, led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, pinned their hopes on their new defensive position near the coastal railway station of El Alamein.

The campaign in the Western Desert was fought between the Commonwealth forces (with, later, the addition of two brigades of Free French and one each of Polish and Greek troops) all based in Egypt, and the Axis forces (German and Italian) based in Libya. The battlefield, across which the fighting surged back and forth between 1940 and 1942, was the 1,000 kilometres of desert between Alexandria in Egypt and Benghazi in Libya.

For both sides the objective was the control of the Mediterranean, the link with the East through the Suez Canal, the Middle East oil supplies and the supply route to Russia through Persia.

Panels of the memorial commemorate different areas of service and the location. The Land Forces panels commemorate more than 8,500 soldiers of the Commonwealth who died in the campaigns in Egypt and Libya, and in the operations of the Eighth Army in Tunisia up to 19 February 1943, who have no known grave. It also commemorates those who served and died in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Persia.

The Air Forces panels commemorate more than 3,000 airmen of the Commonwealth who died in the campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Greece, Crete and the Aegean, Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Somalilands, the Sudan, East Africa, Aden and Madagascar, who have no known grave. Those who served with the Rhodesian and South African Air Training Scheme and have no known grave are also commemorated here.

The memorial was designed by Sir Hubert Worthington. Sir Hubert was Principal Architect for North Africa for the Commission. His work required accepting the special demands of the terrain and climate of the regions. For example, a desert site such as El Alamein needed high walls to keep out drifting sand and water was needed for plants.

Alamein Memorial takes the form of a cloister which forms the northern boundary of the cemetery and the principal entrance to it. The name panels are of Portland stone and the cloisters are of limestone. At each side of the forecourt broad flights of steps lead to the flat roof of the memorial, from which there is a view of the cemetery, the surrounding desert and to the north, the sea.

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El-Alamein War Cemetery