Today we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of one of our local Billingborough men.
Private Jim Rylott 242061 of the 2nd / 5th battalion Leicestershire regiment died of pneumonia on 30th March 1917 whilst on active service with his battalion in France, age 19.
Jim was born in Billingborough in 1897 to James Rylott Avison and his wife Catherine Gale both born in Boston.
From 1897 the family had been living in Billingborough where James was working as a poultry labourer.
Jim is listed on the 1911 census as the 3rd surviving son of the the 13 children born to James and Catherine. They had lost 7 children before 1911.
Jim later enlisted in the Leicestershire Regiment in Lincoln.
The 2/5th Battalion, Leicestershire embarked in Southampton and sailed on the SS Huntscraft arriving in Harve, France on the 21st February 1917.
After a night in rest camp no 1, the battalion entrained for Saleux where they were billeted for three nights before moving to Bayonvillers.
In the early part of March the Battalion was in line around Bayonvilles and on the 8th March went into trenches on the main Amiens to Estrees Road to relieve the 8th Durhams.
The brigade received word on the 17th that the enemy had retired from their positions. They advanced on the 17th and consolidated the new positions on the banks of the River Somme, sending patrols over the river the following day without seeing any enemy.
After a few days in divisional reserve in Foucaucourt the Battalion was moved to Le Mesnil and then Eterpigny. By the following day, 29th, the division was based at Catelet and the 2/5th Leicesters moved to Hancourt.
It is not known when Jim fell ill during this period and how long he was in the line during the early part of March 1917.
The Grantham journal reported
OUR HEROES. – Mr and Mrs J Rylott of High Street have received the sad news that their son Pte. Jim Rylott (Leicestershire Regiment) has died from pneumonia, while on active service abroad. He was in Ireland during the troubles last year. Much sympathy is expressed for the family in their bereavement.
In memory of Private Jim Rylott, 2nd/5th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment who died on 30 March 1917 Age 19
Son of James and Catherine Rylott of High Street, Billingborough, Lincs
Remembered with honour, Bray Military Cemetery.
On 21st March we remember Morton man, Harold Handford who was killed this day 100 years ago in 1918.
Harold Hanford was born in Morton, Lincolnshire in c 1899.
His birth was registered in Bourne in the March quarter of 1899 indicating a birth between January and March of that year.
Harold was the eighth child of James Hanford a Journeyman Butcher from Morton and his wife Elizabeth Ann Pikett (Also know as Elizabeth A Foster of Billingborough).
Harold’s father, James, was born in Morton c1866. He married Elizabeth Ann Pickett in 1889, she was born in Spilsby c1868. This marriage was registered in the Bourne District but it is likely that this could have taken place in Billingborough.
The children of James and Elizabeth Ann are:
Charlotte Elizabeth c1886
James Fisher c1893 (WW1; Lance-Corporal Lincolnshire Regiment)
Alfred Sydney c1894 (WW1; Leicestershire Regiment)
John Foster c1896 (WW1; Driver)
May c 1898
Harold 1899 (WW1; 2nd Bn Lincolnshire Regiment)
Gwendolen Pickett Hanford 1903
Violet Ann c 1905
Georgina Mary c 1907
Dora c 1908
Frank c 1911
Charles Ernie c1912
On the 1911 census Harold Hanford was a boarder in the Sandall Household in Morton. Herbert Sandall was a horseman on a farm along with Harold’s brother Fisher. Along with younger brother Eric the three boys were boarders with the Sandall family.
Harold is next mentioned in a clipping from the Grantham Journal from 21st July 1917 where his family is mentioned within the Morton correspondence because his parents had four sons all serving with the Army.
The Soldiers Died in the Great War records show Harold’s place of residence as Bourne Lincolnshire.
Other comments on the CWGC records show that Harold was the Son of James and Elizabeth Hanford, Morton, Bourne, Lincolnshire.
The final piece of information about Harold was found in the Grantham Journal of 5th July 1919. This mentioned that Harold’s parents had now received official confirmation that Harold was now officially presumed killed having been listed as missing on 22nd March 1918.
Harold’s war office records are yet to be uncovered and may be part of the records that were destroyed by fire in the Blitz.
The Medal Rolls do not show a Harold or H Hanford in the Lincolnshire Regiment and so more research will need to be done on this point.
From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission we know that Harold was serving in the 2nd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, when he was killed on 21st March 1918. This was the day of the Great German Offensive (First Battles of the Somme 1918) which saw the enemy attack across a 54 mile wide line using many more divisions than the allied army.
From the history of the Lincolnshire Regiment we can piece together the following information.
February 1918 saw a great change in the way Divisions and brigades were formed. This saw both the 1stand 2nd Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment both being attached to 62nd Brigade (21st Division) on February 3rd 1918. It was very unusual to see two Battalions of the same regiment fighting together.
On the night of the 20th March the 21st Division was holding part of the line east of Epehy and at the southern point of the Flesquieres Salient. The 1st and 2nd Lincolnshires were holding a section of this line near to the Canal Du Nord, just north of Peronne.
Shortly before 5am the enemy opened with an intense bombardment of gas, high explosive shells and trench mortars against the whole British line. Roads behind the line as well as the front line and support trenches were continually bombarded for four hours.
At 9:45am the German Army advanced through the thick fog which hung over the lines. The outpost line was overwhelmed by the enemy before it had chance to put up a fight. The main lines had expended their machine gun ammunition during the early morning fog and fought bravely against advancing enemy mounted units. Battalion headquarters was overrun during the day and fought its way up Chapel Hill. Parts of the 2nd Lincolnshire’s defended Chapel Hill, towards the rear of the front line along with 2 tanks.
The main line held during the day, although at times this was precarious and at some times critical.
The Lincolnshire Battalions were eventually relieved by the South African Scottish by 8am on the 22nd of March and moved safely back to the Pioneer Camp at Heudicourt.
From the battalion diaries of the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire regiment we find the following entry for 21st March 1918;
Batt received order MAN BATTLE POSITIONS ‘C’ Coy comes under the orders of O.C left sector front line (OC 1st Bn Lincolnshire Regiment). A B & D Coys marched independently to their allotted positions in YELLOW LINE. Bttn Head Qtrs marched to railway cutting at W23.a.8.1. This operation was rendered excessively difficult owing to a thick fog and heavy ENEMY gas shelling. Coys established themselves in their positions soon after 7am though stragglers continued to report until 10am.
Distribution C Coy with 1st Bn Lincolnshire Regiment. 3 Coys in YELLOW LINE with left Coy resting on railway at W23 central with the right Coy at approximately W18 central. Bttn Head Qtrs at railway cutting at W23.a.8.1, these positions were maintained all day against repeated attacks by the ENEMY.
About 12 noon a party of the ENEMY succeeded in getting round the left flank under cover of a sunken road at W18.c.9.3 This party was engaged by Bn Head Qtrs and a gun team of the Machine Gun Bn, a number were killed and the remainder (about 50) surrendered.
Harold Hanford was originally reported missing and later presumed as died during action on 21st March 1918.
Private Harold Hanford 49402, 2nd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, is remembered with honour at Le Cateau Military Cemetery in the village of Le Cateau-Cambresis, 17km south east of Cambrai.
Grave Ref: I. B. 7.
In our second remembrance of the day, we remember Baston man, George Thomas Wood, of the 1st Battalion King’s Own Lancaster Regiment, who died 101 years ago today, 11th March 1917.
George was born in the summer of 1895 in the small village of Tongue End, Lincolnshire. The second son of Thomas Wood a farmer from Deeping St Nicholas and his wife Georgina Simmons of Melton Mowbray.
After leaving school George started working on his father’s farm in Baston Fen.
It is not known when George joined the army as the original army records were destroyed in the London Blitz during World War Two.
During February the 1st Battalion King’s Own Regiment was removed from front line trenches around Bouchavesnes and moved firstly to huts at Camp 117 and then to Corbie.
For the rest of February the Battalion continued training before eventually being moved to Vitz-Villeroy, where along with Villeroy-Sur-Authie they were billeted on the 7th March.
The Battalion immediately went back onto training and was receiving replacements to bring it back to Battalion strength. The Battalion moved to Marquay by bus on 22nd February and continued training until it was moved on April 6th for final preparations for the battle of Arras.
It is now yet known how George Wood died, whether this was in training or as a result of earlier action this is yet to be discovered.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private G wood, 27170, 1st Bn, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) who died on 11 March 1917.
Remembered with honour, Rancourt Military Cemetery.
Also remembered on the memorial in St John the Baptist Baston Lincolnshire
Today we remember the 101st anniversary of the death of Bourne man, Sergeant George Alfred Brooks, “C” Battery, 165th Brigade Royal Field Artillery.
Killed in Action 11th March 1917.
George was born in Headington Oxfordshire on 6th March 1881, to James Brooks, a coachman, and his wife Elizabeth Patman.
James and Elizabeth were married in Chelsea in 1874, James being from Oxfordshire and Elizabeth being born in Quadring Lincolnshire.
Thier first daughter Edith was born in Folkingham and the other 4 were all born in Oxfordshire.
James passed away in 1884 leaving Elizabeth and her young family living in Oxfordshire for some time before moving back to Lincolnshire in the late 1890s., living in Terrace Yard, North Street Bourne by 1901.
George was a career soldier originally Joined the 4th Lincs ‘Militia’ in 1896, at the age of 15, leaving them in 1897. When he joined his mother was living in North Street Bourne although George was born in Oxfordshire.
There is a George Alfred Brooks, born Oxfordshire, serving with the Derby Regiment, lisited in the Police Gazette as an absentee from the militia. There is a gap in the research between 1897 when George left the Lincolnshire Militia and 1900 when he attested to the regular army with the Lincolnshire regiment.
George attested to the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment on 24th February 1900 this being a reserve battalion, George was then posted to the 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire regiment in May. George saw his first taste of overseas action being involved in the South Africa Campaign.
August 1901 saw George transferred to the 42nd Brigade Royal Field Artillery and the on to the 69th Brigade in October 1901.
On 1st April 1904 George extended his service to complete 8 years with the colours, still being with the 69th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and then attaining a promotion to acting Bombardier in July 1904.
In 1905 another promotion saw George attain the rank of Bombardier. Later that year saw him taking his equitation at Rawl Pindi on 26th April for promotion to Corporal on 29th January 1906, extending his service to complete 12 years with the colours.
Whilst serving in India George met Esther Jane Leeder, who was born in Bellary India in 1887.
They married in Campbelpore India on 1st January 1907.
In 1907 Esther gave birth to their twin boys, Frederick James and George Richard.
A reorganisation of the Army in may 1908 saw George become part of the 2nd Ammunition Column before another posting in February 1909 put him once again under the 69th Brigade.
Sadly for the young family the twins died in March 1908 whilst in India.
In 1909 the family was extended again with the birth of George and Esther’s son Cecil Alfred whilst on the posting in Rawl Pindi.
George was promoted to a sergeant in December 1909 and posted to the 67th brigade before his final posting to the 38th Brigade in October 1910.
George was discharged from the army on 11th March 1912, having completed his 1st Period of 12 years.
George’s postings were February 1900 to May 1900, Home Service.
May 1900 to October 1901 South Africa.
October 1901 to February 1912 India.
February 1912 to March 1912 India.
George’s original records ended in March 1912 after his discharge, his last posting being with the 38th Brigade Royal Field Artillery.
After leaving the Army the family moved to England where George’s Mother and Sister were still living in Bourne.
The family was now 5 children with the youngest two Harry and Esther, being born after 1913.
We can assume that when leaving the army George would have been put on the Army Reserve list and then recalled to the Army after the outbreak of war in 1914.
Currently there is little detail about George’s call-up after the outbreak of war and all we can say for certain is that at the time of his death in 1917 he was posted to the C Battery 165th Brigade Royal Field Artillery.
During the war the batteries were regularly moved between brigades making it difficult to follow a given person or battery throughout the war. The Royal Field Artillery was the largest of the artillery arms of the army and were responsible for horse drawn medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and reasonably mobile. The RFA was organised into brigades.
The 165th Brigade was originally part of the 31st division and received orders in November 1915 to move to France. This order was superseded in December and the Division was shipped to Egypt.
In March 1916 the divisional artillery was shipped to France and arrived via Marseille.
By early 1917 the 165th Brigade was in the field in The Somme around Bayencourt. The HQ was at Bayencourt and the batteries were in positions on the Herertune Plain. On the 6th March the batteries advanced to occupy positions behind Rossignol Wood, the HQ moving to Herbuterne.
During the 11th the HQ and batteries were shelled, the Casualties on this day were listed as 2nd Lt Lovett-Thomas of C Battery was killed and 1 other rank wounded.
Sergeant George Brooks was killed as a result of the enemy shelling on the 11th March 1917. He is buried in the Heberturne Military Cemetery.
The Grantham Journal on 31st March 1917 carried the following story,
THE LATE SERGT. BROOKS.-
During the past week, Mrs Brooks of Hereward Street, Bourne has received the following letter from Battery Sergt Major A Payne with reference to Sergt Brooks whose death in action we recorded last week. The letter was written on March 15th and says:- “It is with very deep regret and sympathy from myself and sergeants of the Battalion I inform you of your husband’s death which occurred on 11th March 1917. He was killed in action and I can assure you that he will be sadly missed by both officers and men of the Battalion. If there is anything I can do for you in the way of fixing up his affairs, I shall only be to pleased to have a line from you. Trusting you will try and bear up and be brave like a soldier’s wife should be.”
After George’s Death Esther left Bourne and returned to India, with three children Cecil, Esther and Harry.
George was awarded the following campaign medals;
The British Medal
The Victory Medal
The 15 Star
South Africa Medal 1899 with Clasps
“Orange Free State”
“S Africa 1901”
In memory of Lieutenant George Alfred Brooks, 68459, “C” Bty, Royal Field Artillery who died on 11 March 1917.
Remembered with honour, Hebuterne Military Cemetery.
Our second remembrance today is for Billingborough man, Walter Carrington of the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, who was officially reported killed on this day 101 years ago.
Walter is remembered on the Thiepval memorial and also on the Roll of Honour in St Andrew’s Church Billingborough.
Walter Carrington was born in 1883 and his baptism record in 1884 shows he is the son of William Carrington of Billingborough and his wife Jane Gibson. William had actually died in 1880 and Jane had remarried to John Johnson just before Walter’s baptism.
In 1891 Walter Carrington was listed on the census as the stepson of John Johnson but by 1901 he was using the name Walter Johnson for the census.
Walter Married in 1915 to Flora Stead, born in Wittering by then a resident in Castle Bytham.
They had a son John Frederick Carrington born April 30th 1916 in Billingborough.
In January 1916 conscription was introduced for every unmarried man between the age of 18 and 41. Within a few months this was rolled out to include married men although certain occupations were exempt and could appeal.
Walter joined the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire regiment on 14th July 1916 in Grantham.
Listed on the attestation paper fro Walter is Wife Flora, Son John plus Walter’s 2 step sisters and 3 step brothers, along with his mother Jane Johnson.
Walter was trained with the 9th Service Battalion at Brocton before being shipped to Calais on the 14th November with a posting to the 8th Service Battalion. Walter was eventually posted to the 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment on 28th November 1916 went on active duty for his new Battalion.
By March 1917 the Battalion were in action on the Somme section of the Western Front in the area between Bapaume and Peronne.
Taken from the 2nd Battalion Diary;
On the 1st March 1917 the battalion moved back to dugouts in Junction Wood and into Brigade Reserve. The 2nd saw them move up to dugouts and cellars in Lockbarracks and Bouchavesne again in brigade reserve where they remained on the 3rd March.
At 5:15am on the 4th the 8th Division carried out an attack east of Bouchavesnes to gain the high ground from which the enemy had observation of our positions.
The battalion was detailed for the following duties in support of the 2nd Royal Berkshire Regiment who were the assaulting battalion of the 25th infantry Brigade. “C” company and half of “D” company as moppers up “B” company and the other half of “D” company as carriers. “A” Company and the battalion lewis gunners hold the front line from which the attack was launched.
The attack was most successful and all objectives gained. 1 officer killed, 2 wounded and 1 missing. Other ranks, 18 Killed, 33 wounded and 13 missing. The Division listed 1137 casualties from the operation most from artillery fire in the initial attack.
Retaliatory artillery fire and counter attack continued for several days afterwards and the operation was seen as a complete success allowing the new position to menace the enemy defences to the south towards Peronne. It has been said that this operation played a small part in the German decision to retire to the Hindenburg line two weeks earlier than planned.
Walter was listed as missing on the 4th March 1917, less than 4 months after arriving in France. Official records on the 22nd December 1917 showed acceptance that he was killed either on or after the 4th March during the operation described.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Walter Carrington, 26870, 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 4 March 1917, Age 33.
Son of Mrs Johnson of Horbling, Billingborough, Lincs; husband of Flora Carrington of Castle Bytham, Grantham, Lincs
Remembered with honour, Thiepval Memorial.