Military Monday

Military Monday – Richard Espley (1875-1915)

Richard is my wife’s 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Joseph Booth Espley and Christina Boyle. The common ancestor of my wife and Richard is Martha Espley, my wife’s 2x great grandmother.

Richard was born on 13 June 1875 in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He married Edith Elizabeth Wardle sometime in the December quarter of 1895.

Between getting married and the 1911 census Richard and Edith had nine children. Sadly three of their children died young and there were six living and shown on the census:-

Winifred May – born 3 April 1897
Annie – born c June 1900
Edith – born c September 1901
Frederick – born c September 1905
Horace – born c March 1909
Gertrude – born 15 October 1910

I haven’t been able to find any remaining military records on http://www.ancestry.co.uk or Find My Past. However I can piece together information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website – http://www.cwgc.org and from http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk

Richard was a Private in the Cheshire Regiment and served in the 2nd Battalion. His service number was 11961.

I know that Richard was killed in action on 15 August 1915 and died from wounds.

Richard is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in Nord, France. He is also commemorated on the Congleton War Memorial in Cheshire.

Congleton War Memorial

Congleton War Memorial

The information below is taken from the CWGC website.

Bailleul is a large town in France, near the Belgian border, 14.5 Kms south-west of Ieper and on the main road from St. Omer to Lille.



Bailleul was occupied on 14 October 1914 by the 19th Brigade and the 4th Division. It became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre, with the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations quartered in it for considerable periods. It was a Corps headquarters until July 1917, when it was severely bombed and shelled, and after the Battle of Bailleul (13-15 April 1918), it fell into German hands and was not retaken until 30 August 1918.



The earliest Commonwealth burials at Bailleul were made at the east end of the communal cemetery and in April 1915, when the space available had been filled, the extension was opened on the east side of the cemetery. The extension was used until April 1918, and again in September, and after the Armistice graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and the following burial grounds:-



PONT-DE-NIEPPE GERMAN CEMETERY, on the South side of the hamlet of Pont-de-Nieppe, made in the summer of 1918. It contained German graves (now removed) and those of a soldier and an airman from the United Kingdom.



RENINGHELST CHINESE CEMETERY, in a field a little South of the Poperinghe-Brandhoek road, where 30 men of the Chinese Labour Corps were buried in November 1917-March 1918.



BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY contains 610 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 17 of the graves were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials.



BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION contains 4,403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 11 of the graves made in April 1918 were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials. There are also 17 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 154 German burials from both wars.



In the centre of the town is a stone obelisk erected by the 25th Division as their Memorial on the Western front, recalling particularly the beginning of their war service at Bailleul and their part in the Battle of Messines. The town War Memorial, a copy of the ruined tower and belfry of the Church of St. Vaast, was unveiled in 1925 by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, the City which had “adopted” Bailleul.

Bailleul Communal Cemetery

Bailleul Communal Cemetery

Military Monday – Jack Gawthrop (1899-1918)

Jack Gawthrop is my 3rd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Benjamin Gawthrop and Emily Ann Thurlow. Our common ancestors are John Gawthrop and Sarah Brown, my 4x great grandparents.

Jack was born about 1899 – his birth is registered at Hendon, Middlesex in the March quarter of that year.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any remaining records of Jack’s military service either on http://www.ancestry.co.uk or http://www.findmypast.co.uk. I did find some details on http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, http://www.cwgc.org.

I know that Jack served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Prince of Wales’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment. His service number was 52976.

Jack died of wounds on 2 April 1918 serving in France and Flanders and he is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension.

The following information is from the CWGC website.

For much of the First World War, Abbeville was headquarters of the Commonwealth lines of communication and No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals were stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. The communal cemetery was used for burials from November 1914 to September 1916, the earliest being made among the French military graves. The extension was begun in September 1916.



During the early part of the Second World War, Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.



Abbeville Communal Cemetery contains 774 Commonwealth burials of First World War and 30 from the Second. The Extension contains 1,754 First World War burials and 348 from the Second.



The Commonwealth sections of both cemetery and extension were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension

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.

Military Monday – Thomas Darby (1879-1945)

Thomas Darby is my wife’s 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are David Darby and Charlotte Farmer. Thomas and my wife’s common ancestors are Thomas Darby and Sarah Miles – my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Thomas enlisted at the age of 35 years 11 months on 20 May 1915 in Worcester and his military service number was 30389. His occupation at the time was blacksmith.

Thomas listed his next of kin as his daughter Evelyn. His wife Polly (Chance) had died in 1914 at the age of 35.

Thomas embarked from Southampton on 3 October 1915 and disembarked the next day. He was posted to his battalion in the 6th Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 6 October 1915.

It seems that Thomas managed to remain unscathed until the following summer. He was then injured in action on 19 July 1916 when he received gun shot wounds to his head and arm. He was admitted to the field hospital for treatment.

The next day he was injured again with gun shot wounds to his shoulder and thigh.

Three days later on 23 July 1916 Thomas was discharged to the Base Depot.

After a couple of weeks it appears he was well enough to be attached to the 14th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was back in action on 7 August 1916.

Over the next two years Thomas spent his time either on leave or in the battle field and does not seem to have suffered any further physical injuries.

He was demobilised on 6 February 1919.

Thomas was transferred to the Class Z Reserve on 7 Mar 1919.

Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918.  There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities.  Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z.  They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon.  The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Military Monday – Samuel Buckley (1886-1966)

Samuel Buckley is my 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Prince Buckley and Ada Smith. Our common ancestors are James Buckley and Sarah Tattersall, my 2x great grandparents.

Samuel was born on 28 September 1886 in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

He attended a medical in Halifax, West Yorkshire on 5 July 1916 and enlisted on 9 July 1916. His military service number was 346859.

I can see from his military records on Ancestry that he was “at home: until 1 May 1918 and then he was on board ship from 2 May to 10 May.

Samuel was abroad with the British Expeditionary Force from 11 May 1918 to 24 July 1918. He returned to the UK on 25 July 1918 and spent the rest of his military career at various locations around the country as a fitter.

His military service wasn’t without incident however and there are two misconduct charges in his records.

The first one took place in Edinburgh on 18 January 1917 when he failed to salute an officer in Princes Street. He was confined to barracks for 5 days.

The second incident happened in June 1917 when he was late returning to barracks from a period of leave – he was late by 22 hours 10 minutes and lost 1 days pay.

Samuel was demobilized on 25 February 1919 and transferred to the Class Z Reserve.

Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Class Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Military Monday – Herbert Bolton (1889-1917)

Herbert Bolton is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Nicholas Bolton and Elizabeth Ann Ainsworth. Our common ancestors are John Carradice and Ann Ridley, my 3x great grandparents.

Herbert was born in 1889 in Kendal, Westmorland and his birth is registered in Q1.

On the 19 February 1910 Herbert married Priscilla Harrington at St. James Church in Halifax, West Yorkshire. They set up home back in Kendal and the 1911 census shows them living at Yard No 5, 51 Stricklandgate, Kendal.

Herbert Bolton - Marriage 1910Herbert and Priscilla had two sons – John William born on 9 September 1911 and Sydney born on 1 September 1913.

Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Ten days later on 14 August Herbert enlisted at Kendal. He was assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) 60th Field Ambulance. His military service number was 30398.

Herbert was initially assembled with the rest of the division in Aldershot. I found a medical record showing that he was hospitalised from 20 October 1914 to 20 November 1914 with gonorrhoea.

They spent several months undergoing training and getting their equipment in place. The Division was inspected by King George V at Knighton Down on 24 June 1915, by which time all equipment had arrived and the Division was judged ready for war.

Herbert embarked from Southampton on 20 July 1915 and arrived at Le Harve the next day. On 26 July 1915 the Division completed concentration in the Saint-Omer area, all units having crossed to France during the preceding few days. Early trench familiarisation and training took place in the Fleurbaix area.

The Division served on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, taking part in many of the significant actions.

Herbert’s military career was apparently going well and he was appointed to corporal on 29 September 1916 and then promoted to lance sergeant on 29 January 1917.

Things went badly wrong for Herbert when he received gunshot wounds to his back on 1 December 1917. I can’t be sure which battle this was in but I suspect it was as part of The Cambrai Operations – http://www.1914-1918.net/bat21.htm

Sadly Herbert died as a result of his wounds on 7 December 1917 in No. 16 General Hospital at Le Treport.

He is buried at the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport. There are now 2128 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and seven from the Second World War. The cemetery also contains more than 200 German war graves.

Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport

Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport

Priscilla was awarded a pension of 26s 8d from 10 June 1918 for herself and two children. Later that year she remarried in Newark, Nottinghamshire to James Hall.