Military Monday

Military Monday – Robert Titterington (1905-1945)

Robert Titterrington is the husband of Mary Ann Paley, my 1st cousin 2x removed. Mary Ann’s parents are William Thomas Paley and Lilian Holden Coates. Our common ancestors are my 2x great grandparents James Paley and Mary Ann Spink.

Robert was born on 27 August 1905 in Skipton, Yorkshire to parents Robert and Ada Titterington. He was baptised on 24 September 1905 at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton.

Sometime in the December quarter of 1931 Robert and Mary Ann were married. They had one son whose birth is registered in the March quarter of 1934.

When the 1939 Register was taken at the outbreak of WW2 Robert and Mary Ann were living at 37 Ash Grove, Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Robert was working as an Insurance Agent.

Sometime after that Robert joined the Royal Navy – his service number was C/MX824444. He served on board HMS Virago as a Sick Berth Attendant (SBA).

HMS Virago was a V-class destroyer built by Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom. The Virago was launched on 4 February 1943 and was in service in the Arctic convoys, the Normandy landings and in the Far East.

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HMS Virago

HMS Viargo patrolled the Malacca Strait and supported Operation Dracula off the coast of Burma in late April 1945. Subsequently she participated in the Battle of the Malacca Strait with Saumarez, Verulam,Venus and Vigilant which culminated in the sinking of the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro on 16 May 1945. This was a textbook destroyer night action, and was the last naval gun battle of the Second World War.

Sadly it was also in this battle that Robert Titterington died on 16 May 1945.

Virago participated in preparations for Operation Zipper (the invasion of Malaya) in July/August 1945, and its eventual execution as a reoccupation manoeuvre in September 1945 following the surrender of Japan. Based in Hong Kong with the British Pacific Fleet after VJ day, Virago returned to Chatham, Kent in December 1945.

I guess that Robert, along with others killed in action would have been buried at sea. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent, United Kingdom.

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Chatham Naval Memorial (from CWGC website)

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Military Monday – Richard James Taylor (1885-1918)

Richard James Taylor is the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed Mary Alice Dawson.

Richard was born on 4 March 1885 in Waddington, Lancashire to parents Henry Taylor and Mary Altham. My cousin Mary Alice was born on 6 February 1888 in Barrowford, Lancashire to parents Joseph Dawson and Alice Hartley. Or common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.

Richard and Mary married on 30 December 1909 at St. Thomas’, Barrowford. They had two children – Dennis born in 1910 and Kenneth born on 8 November 1917 (they are my 4th cousins 1x removed)

In World War 1 Richard served in the 2nd/5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. His service number was 241099 and he reached the rank of Sergeant.

During 1918 the 2nd/5th Battalion took part in The Battle of St. Quentin, The Actions at the Somme Crossings and The Battle of Rosieres.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website Richard died of wounds on 12 April 1918 at the age of 33.

Richard is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. His headstone number is 3394 with the following inscription:-

WE LOVED HIM, OH WE LOVED HIM

BUT THE ANGELS LOVED HIM MORE

ONE OF THE BEST                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Richard was awarded the Military Medal – see the extract from The London Gazette of 23 May 1918 below. The Military Medal (or MM) was a medal awarded for exceptional bravery. It was awarded to the Other Ranks (N.C.O.’s and Men) and was first instituted on 25 March 1916 during The First World War, to recognise bravery in battle.

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St. Sever Cemetery Extension (taken from CWGC website)

During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920. During the Second World War, Rouen was again a hospital centre and the extension was used once more for the burial of Commonwealth servicemen, many of whom died as prisoners of war during the German occupation. The cemetery extension contains 8,348 Commonwealth burials of the First World War (ten of them unidentified) and in Block “S” there are 328 from the Second World War (18 of them unidentified). There are also 8 Foreign National burials here. The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

On 23 April 1925 Mary Alice, Dennis and Kenneth emigrated to New Zealand. They sailed from Southampton heading for Wellington aboard SS Rotorua. I hope that they had a happy life in New Zealand.

A final note about the SS Rotorua – it seems that the ship was sunk on 11 December 1940 while sailing as part of Convoy HX92. She was struck by a torpedo from U-boat number U-96 about 110 miles northwest of St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides.

Those of you who read my blog regularly may recall that U-96 was also responsible for the sinking the Arthur F Corwin on 13 February 1941 – see post here.

So I was interested to find out what finally happened U-96

The boat’s final operational patrol commenced with her departure from St. Nazaire on 26 December 1942. Crossing the Atlantic for the last time, she then came back to the eastern side and after transferring a sick crew-member to U-163 on 3 January 1943, arrived at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) on 8 February.

She spent most of the rest of the war as a training vessel. She was decommissioned on 15 February 1945 in Wilhelmshaven. When US Eighth Air Force attacked Wilhelmshaven on 30 March 1945, U-96 was sunk in Hipper basin. The remains of the U-boat were broken up after the war

Military Monday – Jack Hurtley Thompson (1921-1941)

Jack Hurtley Thompson is my 1st cousin 1x removed. His parents are Alfred Clark Thompson and Rhoda Hurtley. Our common ancestors are James Hurtley and Ellen Paley – my great grandparents.

Jack was born in Cononley, West Yorkshire and his birth is registered in the June quarter of 1921.

Jack joined the Merchant Navy and was serving on the British motor tanker Arthur F Corwin as a 5th Engineer when it was sunk on 13 February 1941.

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Arthur F Corwin

The Arthur F Corwin was part of Convoy HX106 sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England. Forty one merchant ships departed Halifax on 30 January 1941 – they were escorted by a series of armed military vessels at various times during the journey.

According to reports on the Internet the Arthur F Corwin was a straggler from the convoy. It was attacked and damaged by two torpedoes from U-boat U-103 at 16.25 hours on 13 February 1941. The U-boat then left the burning tanker in a sinking condition southeast of Iceland.

At 19.50 hours the same day, U-96 came across the stricken wreck of Arthur F Corwin, which was still afloat, and sank her with two further torpedoes.

There were no survivors.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for Jack and all his crew mates.

Jack is commemorated on the Cononley War Memorial and also on the Tower Hill Memorial, near Tower Bridge in London.

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Cononley War Memorial

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Tower Hill Memorial

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

 

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.