Remembrance – Ernest Wyles

Today we remember Bourne man Ernest Wyles who was killed in action on the 27th May 1918 serving with the 25th Machine Gun Corps.

Ernest was born in 1890 in Market Deeping to Edward Wyles a gamekeeper born in Market Deeping in 1848 and his wife Emily Bellairs born in Market Deeping in 1849.

The couple were married in Market Deeping on the 8th January 1866 and stayed in Market deeping all their lives having 15 children there. They declared that one child had died before 1911 when they filled out the census.

  • Arthur Wyles, 1866, Market Deeping
  • Edward Wyles, 1867, Market Deeping
  • John William Wyles, 1868, Market Deeping
  • Walter Wyles, 1870, Market Deeping
  • Annie Wyles, 1872, Market Deeping
  • Frederick Wyles, 1875, Market Deeping
  • Emily Wyles, 1878, Market Deeping
  • Albert Wyles, 1880, Market Deeping
  • Levinia Wyles, 1882, Market Deeping
  • George Wyles, 1884, Market Deeping
  • Walter Wyles, 1885, Market Deeping
  • Harvey Wyles, 1887, Market Deeping
  • Percy Charles Wyles, 1888, Market Deeping
  • Ernest Wyles, 1890, Market Deeping

In 1891 Ernest is living with his parents in Towngate, Market Deeping, Edward employed as a Gamekeeper.  Ten years later in 1901 nothing much had changed, they were still in Towngate, and Edward was employed as a gamekeeper although by now only Percy, an agricultural labourer and Ernest, a scholar, were still living at home.

By 1911 They had moved to Uffington with both Percy and Ernest still living at home. Now though Edward is working as a County Council Roadman, Percy is working as a Brewer’s Drayman and Ernest, now 21, worked as a carter in a brickyards.

Ernest was married in 1915 to Ivy Ophelia Parker, a dressmaker, who was living in Eastgate Bourne. She was born in Bourne on the 6th October 1894, the Daughter of George Henry Parker and Mary Jane Philips.

In 1919 Ivy was living at 10 Clarence Terrace, Austerby, Bourne according to Army Pension Records, other records show that she also lived at The Mason’s Arms on South Street in Bourne after this.

Around July 1916 Ernest enlisted in the army. Conscription had come in in January 1916 for all single men of age 18 to 40 to serve their country. This had changed in  May 1916 to include Married men thus making Ernest eligible for conscription.

Ernest’s service records, like 60% of all WW1 soldiers were subject to a fire in the storage warehouse in London during the Blitz. That leaves us trying to piece together his story of the war from various remaining records and therefore exact dates are largely not known.

Ernest on enlistment and training had been posted to the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment with a regimental number of 25075. After training he would have joined his Battalion in France. They had been out in Gallipoli in 1915 followed by Egypt defending the Suez Canal before being posted to France in July 1916.

We would expect Ernest to join his regiment around November of 1916. As we do not know the exact date we cannot really tell when and where he fought.

The Battalion had been involved in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge at the end of September and then had been moved into the Ancre sector of the Somme by January 1917.

1917 had the Battalion in the Somme initially and then moved out to Belgium in readiness for the battle of Messines Ridge.

On the war office daily list of the 27th August 1917 Private Ernest Wyles 25075 of the South Staffordshire Regiment was listed as wounded. These lists could be 4 to 6 weeks behind the actual dates and therefor there is no actual date or location that he was wounded in the records. At the end of July and the beginning of August the Battalion were in trenches around Hulluch, to the North of Loos.

After leaving the trenches around Merthyr Sap and Bacon Sap on 6th August the Battalion went into Divisional Reserve for one week of training. During August the Battalion lost few men as casualties and the Diary even lists any Privates that were wounded and so we have to assume that as Ernest was not mentioned he was wounded during their last tour in the trenches around Essex Trench at the end of July.

Ernest Wyles was posted to the Machine Gun Corps, the date cannot be seen from any records but in many cases once a wounded soldier had convalesced and then was posted medically fit for action they would be posted to a battalion that was in need of replacements.

We are not sure of the details of his wound, convalescent period, if he re-joined the South Staffs or when he was posted to the Machine Gun Corp, then we have to look at the Diaries for the Machine Gun Corps in Ernest’s last days in May 1918 and their action around the 27th Just south of The Aisne.

9th May 1918 – Herzeele
Battalion entrained at Heidebeke for move to IX Corps (6th French spring? Area), HQ and A+B Companies left at 7.45pm, C+D Companies at 10.45pm. At 10.40pm just prior to the departure o the train, enemy aeroplane dropped 6 small bombs on the metals close to the train. No damage was done. 

10th May 1918
On Train

11th May 1918 – Fismes
Arrived Fismes in the morning. Marched to Cohan to billets. 

12th May 1918 – Cohan
Cleaning up. Services held in the morning. Weather fine and hot. 

13th May 1918 to 22nd May 1918
Training – Training programme was attached to the diary (Appendix no 4). Hot and sunny weather.
52 other ranks reported for duty on 20th May.

23rd May 1918 – Hourges
Lt Col W.T.Raikes to Paris for 4 days leave. Battalion marched to billets at Hourges. 

24th to 26th May
Training – Training program was attached to the diary (Appendix no 5).

27th  to 31st May 1918
Operations, see attached story. 

“Story of operations from May 27th 1918 to June 1st 1918, 25th battalion Machine Gun Corps.

On the night of the 26th of May 1918 the battalion was ordered to proceed to the forward area from billets in Hourges. Companies as under were allotted to brigades and proceeded from camp independently to the following areas:-

A company under Major S.L.Courtauld M.C. to 7 Brigade Guyencourt (Right)
B Company under Major D Campbell to 74th Brigade, Muscourt (Left)
C Company under Capt T.C.B. Udall to 75th Brigade, Ventelay (Centre)
D Company under Major G McCree to reserve in Romain 

The companies arrived after the preliminary bombardment had commenced and the 3 first arrived reconnoitred positions in their respective areas, the 2nd positions (Line of the Maizy Cormicy Road).

The enemy was engaged at about 8.30am by Bouffinereux-Roucy-Concevreux + Maizy. 4 Guns of B company under 2nd Lieutenant W.L. Johnstone did great execution at the bridges at this later place, but were forced to give way and fall back on Muscourt about noon.

Two sections of the Reserve Company were ordered to reinforce 75 and 74 Brigades respectively, and later the remaining two sections were sent to the 74 Brigade where situation on the left flank appeared to be serious.

In the late afternoon of 27th a strong enemy attack was completely wiped out at point blank range on the Muscourt – Romain road by the concentrated fire of 7 machine guns. On the night however the enemy working well through the woods E & W of Guyencourt cut off or destroyed by close range sniping a number of A + C Companies guns. Good work appears to have been done in the attacks, but owing to the infantry retirement, the guns were left entirely isolated and unsupported and the enemy were thus enabled to attack from all sides. Capt T.C.B. Udall who had made his HQ in Roucy, was surrounded and possibly a prisoner.

About midnight 27th the enemy were reported in Courlandon and Ventelay and it was considered unpracticable to hold the salient north of Romain. A retirement was therefore ordered to the high ground N of Montigny. In all 11 Guns were still working under orders of the Battalion H.Q, though it is kown that several others had attached themselves to infantry units in the neighbourhood of Bouvancourt.

By the end of the report on the 31st May the line had been pushed back daily and the Battalion reported the following casualties.

Killed, 5 officers and 10 other ranks
Wounded, 10 officers  and 120 other ranks
Missing, 5 officers and 108 other ranks. 

Private Ernest Wyles was reported to have died and was most likely one of the missing men killed in the action of the 27th May 1918 described in the Battalion diary.

On the 19th December Ivy Wyles was awarded Ernest’s pension and war gratuity and one year later his War Gratuity payment. Ernest’s medal card suggests that as of the 6th March 1923 his British War Medal and Victory Medal were still “Undisposed of” which meant never sent or claimed up to this date.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Ernest Wyles, 136409, 25th Bn., Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) who died on 27 May 1918 Age 23. Husband of Ivy Opthelia Wyles, of 15, Mason Arms, South St., Bourne, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Soissons Memorial

Ernest is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in Bourn Abbey Church and listed on the Bourne War Memorial.

 We will remember them

Remembrance – Bertie Kettle

This week we remember Bourne man Private Bertie Kettle who died in Leicester Royal Infirmary on 26th May 1919 of Septic Pneumonia. He was a recently ex serviceman who had been serving with the 11th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment.

Bertie Kettle was born between January and March 1894 in Bourne to John Kettle a Fellmonger’s Labourer born in Morton Lincolnshire in 1855 and his wife Elizabeth Holmes, born in 1863 also in Morton.

John was first marred to Rachel Pocock in 1974 and they had lived in Eastgate Bourne but unfortunately Rachel died in 1883 leaving the widow John with four children to bring up.
John and Elizabeth were married in 1884 and this was registered in the Sleaford District. They lived in Bourne where all of their 9 children were born.

• John Robert Kettle, 1875, Bourne (Half brother)
• Emma Kettle, 1877, Gosberton (Half sister)
• Rose Alice Kettle, 1879, Bourne (Half sister)
• Jessie Kettle, 1881, Bourne (Half sister)
• Sarah Elizabeth Kettle, 1885, Bourne
• Mabel Kettle, 1887, Bourne
• John Kettle, 1888, Bourne
• Gertrude Kettle, 1890, Bourne
• Bertie Kettle, 1894, Bourne
• Florence Evelyn Kettle, 1896, Bourne
• Lily Kettle, 1897, Bourne
• Harry Sidney Kettle, 1900, Bourne
• Emily Kettle, 1902, Bourne

In 1901 Bertie was living with his parents in Victoria Place in Bourne. John was working as a fellmonger’s labourer (most likely working in the Tannery for T.W. Mays). Elizabeth and six of their children were in the four room house.
Moving on 10 years and the family are to be found on the 1911 census now in a five room house just around the corner in Eastgate. John is still working as a fellmonger and also now eldest son John and also Bertie are doing the same work., sister Gertie was working at a Pea factory. In 1911 the Eastgate area of Bourne was a hive of activity.

Bertie’s war records have not been found and you would have to assume, like 60% of the WW1 service records, were destroyed in a London warehouse fire in the Blitz.
Unfortunately this leaves us with trying to tell his story through other available records. The fact that he died in 1919 immediately means that records like Soldier’s Died in the Great War do not list Bertie.

On enlistment he was posted to the 11th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and given the regimental number of 22575. The exact date of enlistment is unknown and as his medal rolls show that he never served with any other battalion, we can say that he would not have most likely joined around the end of October or the beginning of November 1915. This conclusion is made by comparing the enlistment dates of men of the Leicestershire Regiment that had a similar regimental number.

The 11th Battalion were a service battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. The Battalion was Formed at Leicester in October 1915 by the Mayor and a local committee.
In March 1916 they landed in France and less than one month later, 1st April, came under orders of 6th Division as a Pioneer Battalion. A pioneer battalion could be involved in building or repairing bridges, roads and other similar projects but were a fighting infantry unit and although not normally in the first wave when the Army went over the top would sometimes be called upon to be in the following waves.

As Bertie was awarded the Victory Medal, this meant that he must have served in a theatre of war and so this would suggest that he was mobilised for war and served in France with the Battalion, again the exact dates are unknown. If Bertie had joined around November 1915, it would be most likely that he was one of the men that embarked for France with the 11th Battalion in March 1916. By March he would have a few months basic training before embarking.

The Battalion saw action in the war on the Somme at Fleurs-Courcelette at what was the first use of Tanks in action by the British Army.
In 1917 the 11th Leicesters were in action at Hill 70 in Lens during April and then in November at the Battle of Cambrai and Bourlon Wood.
1918 had them starting on the Somme during March at St Quentin and then in the Lys sector around Bailleul and Kemmel holding off the German Spring offensive. For the 100 days offensive they served in September in St Quentin followed by Cambrai and finally the Battle of the Selle on the 20th October.
They ended the war in divisional reserve at Bohain-en-Vermandois on the 11th November.

After the armistice the Battalion were involved in the march to the Rhine and the occupation of the Rhineland. They had Christmas dinner 1918 on the Rhine and shortly afterwards in 1919 they received orders that in March 1919 the 6th Division will cease to exist. Divisional units such as the Pioneers were posted into the new Midland Division.
Records of other 11th Battalion men would indicate that some of the men and quite possibly Bertie were demobilised in April 1918 at Catterick.

How much of this Battalion’s story is shared with Bertie is unknown. There are no wounded records, mentions in the Times’ Casualty Lists or Silver War Badge records to suggest that his war ended any earlier than March 1919.

Bertie was living with his sister, Rose Neale, at 9 Scott Street, Leicester and was unemployed in May 1919 when he was taken ill and admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary. He was diagnosed with Quinsy (abscess near the tonsils) which 5 days later developed into Septicaemia and then after another 2 days he died of Septic Pneumonia, aged 25 years.

Bertie’s death certificate states that he was unemployed and an ex soldier with the 11th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment.

Bertie Kettle is buried in Welford Road Cemetery in Leicester and is commemorated on the War Memorial in Bourne, Lincolnshire and also on he memorial in St Michael’s Church, Scott Street, Leicester.

Remembrance – Albert Codling

Today we remember Bourne and Lincoln man, Lance-Corporal Albert Codling, who was killed in action on 13th May 1915 serving with the 1/4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

Albert Codling was born on 15th December 1892 at 51 King Street Lincoln to John Codling, a railway porter from Lincoln and his wife Mary Elizabeth Cobb.

John and Mary were married in Lincoln in 1892 having 8 children born there:-
-Albert Codling, 1893, Lincoln
-Gertrude Mary Codling, 1894, Lincoln
-Ernest Codling, 1896, Lincoln
-Frank Codling, 1899, Lincoln (Died 1901)
-Elsie Codling, 1901, Lincoln (Died 1904)
-Edith Codling, 1904, Lincoln (Died 1905)
-John William Codling, 1906, Lincoln
-Doris May Codling, 1910, Lincoln

In 1901 John, Mary and their three children were living at 37 Queen Street Lincoln. 10 years later the family had moved and were now living at 1 Naam Cottages, Grey Street, Lincoln, as found on the 1911 census. John is still working as a railway porter and now the 18 year old Albert is working in a cake mill making cattle cake.

Albert had a change of career and started to work for the Midland Railway as a drayman.

In May 1912 Albert enlisted in Lincoln with the Lincolnshire Regiment, given the regimental number 1608 and posted to the 4th Battalion, a territorial battalion.

Unfortunately Albert’s full service records are not to be found, most likely destroyed during the warehouse fire in London in the Blitz that destroyed 60% of all WW1 service records. The following story tracks Albert’s life in the army from other available sources. We have also added some background information about the 4th Battalion that covers the period between his enlistment and the Battalion embarking for France.

The following information is taken from the History of The Lincolnshire Regiment by C R Simpson.

“At the outbreak of war the Lincolnshire Regiment was made up of 5 Battalions. The 1st and 2nd were the regular battalions, the 3rd Battalion was a militia battalion and the 4th and 5th Battalions were the territorial battalions.
The 4th Battalion was based at the Drill Hall in Lincoln whilst the 5th was based in the north of the county.
On the 25th of July, 1914, the 4th battalion (Lieut.-Colonel J.W. Jessop) and 5th Battalion (Lieut.-Colonel T.E. Sandall) were assembled at Bridlington for their usual annual
“Territorial Battalion” training, but on the 2nd of August, received orders to return to their Headquarters on the 3rd. By the afternoon of the 4th both battalions had returned to their respective Headquarters and been dismissed with orders to hold themselves in readiness to assemble at their Drill Halls on receipt of the hourly expected orders to mobilise. These came during the evening. The 5th, the first day of mobilisation, was one of great excitement and activity. At that early period only five Territorial battalions had signed the General Service obligation “ to serve overseas if required in time of national danger,” but on the declaration of war it was not long before the majority of Territorial units throughout the country volunteered for service overseas whenever they were required.

The first duties which fell to the lot of the Lincolnshire Territorials were to guard Grimsby Docks and Harbour, to protect the electric power station, wireless station at Weelsby and the construction of defences at the mouth of the Humber.

On the 10th of August, both battalions reported mobilisation complete and the following day they entrained for Belper, the War Station of the Lincolnshire and Leicestershire Brigade. For the next few days training consisted chiefly of route marching with full equipment. On the 15th, however, a move was made to Luton, which for several months was the home of the North Midland Division, the Lincolnshire being billeted in the town.

On the 15th of September, 1914, the Government called on the Territorials to volunteer for foreign service, and practically all battalions throughout the country answered the call, though for various reasons not all ranks could undertake overseas obligations: Units of which not less than sixty per cent. volunteered were designated “General Service”, and were ordered to recruit up to establishment and twenty-five per cent beyond it. As soon as units had obtained a sufficiently high percentage of volunteers for service overseas, a second unit of similar strength was formed : the latter were termed “ Second Line ” units; Later, “ Third Line ” units were formed. The original Territorial battalions then became known as the First Line units. Thus the original 4th and 5th Lincolnshire territorial Battalions became the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions.”

The 1/4th and 1/5th Lincolnshire were eventually posted to the 138th (Lincoln and Leicester) Brigade, 46th (North Midlands) Division, and went to France with that formation in February 1915.

Part of the Battalion arrived in Havre on the 1st March, the other half embarking embarked on the Duchess of Argyll on the 2nd March. By the 3rd March the 2nd half of Battalion had arrived and billeted at Shed No6 at Pondicherry.
The Battalion formed again and after entraining at Harve in the evening arrived at Arneke at 2.30pm on the 4th March and marched 4 miles into Zuytpeene, about 10 miles from the Belgian border. They stayed here until the 9th March when they moved to Strazeele and then on to Sailly-sur-la-Lys.

On the 12th and 13th the Battalion were ordered to Stand To both days for a 2 hour notice of movement due to operational orders but nothing prevailed and they stayed in Sailly until the 16th. Upon leaving Sailly they were moved to Le Kirlem where they were trained in the attack and defence of trenches until the 26th both as brigade and also divisional training.
Finally after 26 days abroad the Battalion were moved to billets at the Brewery in Ploegsteert on the 27th march.

They were now attached to the Somerset Light Infantry for instruction in trench duties and 280 men of all ranks were employed during the day working for the Royal Engineers and another 80 men of ll ranks at night. One company in turn was placed in the trenches for 24 hours. This routine went on until the last day of the month with similar number of men assigned to digging by day (220), other duties by night (80) and with anywhere between one platoon and one company spending a day in the trenches.

It was Back to Le Kirlam for their four days away from the trenches and then on to Bailleul where officers joined the 5th Leicesters in the trenches. It would be another three days, 9th April, before the full Battalion was once again required for front line duty. Now based in Dranoutre they Battalion experienced their first full tour in the trenches and after 3 quiet days were subject to enemy shelling on the 13th April. The enemy shelled Frenchmens and Pond Farms and the Battalion reported their first casualties, Lieut Staniland and 3 privates killed and 6 wounded at Pond Farm. Later that night they were relieved by the 5th Leicesters and went back to billets 3/4 mile north of Dranoutre.

Their next tour started on the 18th when after a delay of one day, when they were ordered to stand to because of operations against hill 60, it was back to the same trenches with companies taking over Cookers, Cobb and packhorse Farms. This tour ended on the night of the 22nd but this time instead of returning to billets they were stood to at Lindenhoek waiting until he next day as 14 officers and 400 men of the Royal Irish Rifles were in their Billets. This last tour was deemed by the Battalion Adjutant as fairly quiet with only the loss of Lt W.B. Hirst despite being shelled by H.E. on their last day in the trench. They moved onto their billets the next day (24th April) and immediately C Company were on fatigue laying cable between Regentst and Picadillly. After only one day in the Billets the Battalion was back in the trenches until the month end. The Battalion Diary once again notes it as a quiet time with one visit in their trenches by the Officer Commanding North Midlands Division (46th Div).

For May and Albert’s last days we refer to the Battalion Diaries to tell the story.

May 1st 1915
Battalion in Huts at Locre. Interior Economy.

May 2nd 1915
In huts at Locre. A+D Companies on digging fatigue all night

May 3rd 1915
In huts at Locre. Interior Economy

May 4th 1915
Battalion relieved 5th Leicesters in evening. Relief completed 11:30pm

May 5th 1915
In the trenches. Bn HQ Cob Farm. Quiet Day

May 6th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet Day. Weather Hot

May 7th 1915
In the trenches. All night whole of front was wired completed 2:45am

May 8th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day. Fire at R.E. Farm
Relieved by 5th Leicesters at midnight.

May 9th 1915
In huts at Locre. Lt Hall and Lt Fox reported from 2/4th Lincs Regt
Church Parade at 6pm

May 10th 1915
Left Locre at 7.45pm and relieved 5th Bn Sherwood Foresters at Lindenhoek at midnight. Bn HQ Lindenhoek Chalet.
Trenches occupied as follows F4 F6 – C Coy, F5-A Coy, G1,2+6 D Coy, S.P3-A Coy. In reserve-D Coy.

May 11th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day.

May 12th 1915
In the trenches. Quiet day.

May 13th 1915
In the trenches. Enemy shelled our front line during afternoon + early evening. At 7pm they fired trench mortars (7) against G1+2 salient. They then directed machine gun fire at the breach made in the trench + shelled remainder of line. Under cover of this they sent across a party estimated at 20 men with bombs + explosive cylinders, 4 of which were afterwards found at the bottom of mine. The Battalion stood to all night + 5th Leicesters reinforced us with 1 Coy. 1 German (9th Bavarian Regiment) was left dead in G1. Nothing further took place.

The Battalion stayed in the trenches until the 16th when they were relieved by the 5th Leicesters.
On the 17th the Battalion diary notes that whilst they were in huts at Locre they observed a Zeppelin heading S.E at 5am and commented that it was most likely the one that dropped bombs on Ramsgate.

Lance Corporal Albert Codling was killed in action on the 13th May 1915 as part of the action described in the Battalion Diary. He was buried in Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery.

During the war years the family moved to Bourne and settled there. Whilst living at 3 Woodview Bourne the family received the sad new that Albert had been killed in May 1915 in the area around Ypres.

The Soldier’s Died in the Great War shows that Albert Codling died on the 16th October 1915 but that this date was amended in pen over the typing in the original ledger.

The Imperial War Graves report into Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery shows that a cross was originally placed on the grave Plot 1 Row C Grave 14 (ledger ref:1037/2A) and they noted the name as Private A Cooling on the typed ledger and this was engraved on the original headstone. The original typed date of death was 13th May 1915, although this was later crossed out with 16th October written in, once again to be changed back to 13th May 1915 later.
A note on this ledger changes Albert’s entry to Lance Corporal A Codling. A footnote to the page reads “Amendment received from Records and transmitted to DDW with request to have the headstone amended. See A/11/60. -2.3.58”

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Lance Corporal A Codling, 1608, 1st/4th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 13 May 1915. Son of Mr. J. Codling, of 3, Wood View, Bourne, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Lindenhoek Chalet Military Cemetery.
Albert is also remembered on the Bourne War Memorial, the Lincoln War Memorial and also the Lincoln Railway war memorial.

Albert’s brother Ernest also enlisted on the 8th December 1914. Initially he served with the 4th and then 5th and 6th Lincolnshire Battalions. Ernest was posted abroad in 1916 and was killed in action serving with the 6th Battalion on 8th June 1917 on the Messines Ridge. He is buried at the Messines Ridge British Cemetery no more than 4 miles from his brother.

When the Lincoln war memorial questionnaire was sent out to ascertain the names of the fallen, this was filled in for both Albert and Ernest and returned by Gertrude Codling (their sister) of Turks Head Cottage, Cecil Street, Lincoln. The original returns are held at the Lincolnshire Archives.

Albert’s photograph © Jonathan Smith

Remembrance – Cecil Hornsey

Plymouth Naval Memorial

Today we remembered Bourne man, Cecil Armstrong Hornsey who accidently died on this day, 13th may 1915, serving on H. M. Destroyer Brisk with the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow.

Cecil was born on 6th February 1893 in Hastings, Sussex to John Hornsey, a druggist and chemist born in Portobello Scotland in 1866 and his wife Agnes Sophia Smith born in Bury St Edmunds Suffolk in 1872.

The couple were married on the 22nd August 1891 in Great Dunmow Essex, at the church of St Mary the Virgin. Afterwards they moved to Hastings where the first of their three children, Cecil was born 18 months later.
– Cecil Armstrong Hornsey, 1893, Hastings
– Winifred Mary Hornsey, 1895, Bourne
– Dorothy Lillian Hornsey, 1899, Bourne

By 1895 the family were living in Bourne and the 1901 census shows that they were living at 59 Woodview. John was working as a chemist (Drug) on his own account and Agnes as a school teacher.

10 years later in 1901, Agnes has yet be found on the census and the family are living in various places.
John Hornsey is living with his sisters at 47 St Mary’s Terrace in Hastings and working as a chemist. The two girls are living as boarders with William Dingley and his family in Meadowgate Bourne, Winifred working as a dressmaker’s apprentice and Dorothy is still at school. William Dingley was a postman and by 1918 Winifred is listed in appointments to the British Postal Service and working for the service in London.

At the age of 16 Cecil joined the Royal Navy on 24th September 1909. His occupation at the time was given as a Chemist’s apprentice. He Joined as a Boy 2nd Class – “a boy aged 15 to 17 rated as such on entry to a training ship of the Royal Navy. Such entry was conditional on a boy’s adequate physical height, weight and medical fitness and evidence of being of ‘good character'”.
His enlistment paper tells us that he was 5’6″ tall with auburn hair, blue eyes and fair complexion.

He was first posted to H.M.S. Ganges, a name given to one of the off-shore ships which was part of the Royal Naval Training Establishment, at Shotley near Ipswich, Suffolk. The ship now known as Ganges was originally designated as H.M.S. Caroline and moved to Shotley when no longer useful as a fighting vessel. Shotley at the time was going through expansion and they had just installed three radio masts as part of the newly formed Signal School.
On 5th May 1910 Cecil became a Boy 1st Class. To classify as a boy 1st Class Cecil would have needed to have served as 2nd Class for 9-18 months, shown sufficient proficiency in seamanship and accumulated at least one good conduct badge. The requirements varied between training ships and his rate of pay would have been increased. This was a rating for boys ages 16-18.
Cecil remained at HMS Ganges for only another 9 days before getting his first posting at Sea.

The first sea posting for Cecil Hornsey was on the 17th May 1910 to H.M.S. Levithan, a Drake Class armoured cruiser. H.M.S. Levithan had previously been placed on reserve but was recommissioned in 1909 for service with the 4th Cruiser Squadron which was in service with the British 1st Fleet. Cecil served for 4 months getting his first taste of the sea.
After his 4 months had elapsed he was next posted to HMS Vivid I, which was a designator of one of the buildings of the shore based training school at Devonport. Here young men were trained in Seamanship, Signalling and Telegraphy and Cecil spent 2 weeks here getting extra training before his next posting.

That next posting was H.M.S. Defence on the 1st October 1910.

H.M.S. Defence was a Minotaur-class armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy in 1907, the last armoured cruiser built for the Royal Navy. Following naval reorganisation in 1909 HMS Defence was reassigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron part of the 1st Division of the Home Fleet.
Cecil served on H.M.S. Defence as a Boy 1st Class until on his 18th Birthday, a Boy no longer, he was promoted to an Ordinary Seaman – “a seaman with between one and two years’ experience at sea, who showed enough seamanship to be so rated by their captain”.

Cecil Hornsey was officially engaged by the Navy on 6th February 1911, his 18th Birthday, for a period of 12 years. One week after gaining his promotion he was posted back to H.M.S. Vivid at Devonport for further training.

By the time of the 1911 Census, 2nd April, Cecil can be found as one of the 1265 men and petty officers living at the naval barracks in Devonport, Plymouth. At that time Devonport had 5 men’s blocks and was capable of accommodating 4465 men. The barracks was under the command of Commodore Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss.

After 11 weeks training at H.M.S. Vivid, Cecil was then ready for his next sea based posting, his next ship being H.M.S. Fox.

H.M.S Fox was a second class protected cruiser of the Astraea-class of the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1896, H.M.S. Fox represented an improvement on previous types in this class, 1,000 tons displacement larger with better seaworthiness due to improved hull design. It also had somewhat increased firepower and superior arrangement of guns. H.M.S. Fox had been assigned to the East India Fleet from 1908. Cecil was with the ship for 2 months before moving on to another East India based ship, H.M.S. Highflyer.

HMS Highflyer was the lead ship of the Highflyer-class protected cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1890s. She spent her early career as flagship for the East Indies and North America and West Indies Stations. She was reduced to reserve in 1908 before again becoming the flagship in the East Indies in 1911.

Cecil was posted to H.M.S Highflyer for 18 months starting on 20th July 1911 although during his time with the ship he spent 10 days in he cells between the 29th May and the 9th June 1912 which did not count as military service days.

The next posting Cecil Hornsey had was with H.M.S. Philomel again serving with the East India Station. This posting started on the 14th September 1912 and within 3 month Cecil received his next promotion to Able Seaman – “a seaman with more than two years’ experience at sea and considered “well acquainted with his duty”.
H.M.S. Philomel was a 1890s commissioned Pearl-class cruiser and Cecil’s time with her was her final time in the Royal Navy. Cecil’s posting ended on the 22nd October 1913 and he ended back on the records of H.M.S. Vivid. H.M.S. Philomel was taken to Singapore where she was recommissioned before being loaned to the Royal New Zealand Navy .

Cecil Hornsey was then listed as being posted to H.M.S. Vivid I between 23rd October 1913 and 4th May 1914 and then posted to H.M.S. Brisk on 5th May 1914 which was to be his last posting.

H.M.S. Brisk was a ‘H’ Class destroyer launched in 1910. She had two 4″ Guns, Two 12 pounders and two 21″ torpedo tubes and was attached to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla. In July 1914 the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla were part of the first fleet serving under H.M.S Active as the Flotilla Cruiser and H.M.S. Blake as the Depot ship.

The flotilla was variously attached to the 1st Fleet, Home and Atlantic Fleets, Home Fleet before finally in April 1915 becoming directly in command of the Grand Fleet.
The flotilla in May 1915 was:
Flotilla Cruiser: H.M.S. Active
Flotilla Leader: H.M.S Broke
Depot Ship: H.M.S Blake
Destroyers: H.M.S. Acorn, Alarm, Brisk, Cameleon, Comet, Fury, Hope, Larne, Lyra, Martin, Minstrel, Nemesis, Nereide, Nymphe, Redpole, Rifleman, Ruby, Sheldrake and Staunch.

On the 13th may 1915 Able Seaman Cecil Armstrong Hornsey died from accidental drowning.

The ledger from H.M.S. Blake reads for 1915:
6185, Hornsey, C A, Age 21, Able Seamen, “Brisk”, May 13th, Location Scapa Flow, Drowning – Knocked overboard by recoil of gun.

It would appear that during a firing of one of H.M.S Brisk’s 4″ guns Cecil Hornsey was knocked overboard and drowned. The body was never recovered.
The Royal Navy noted that they had notified Cecil’s Aunt Lily, St Margaret’s Terrace, West Hill, Hastings of his death.

• Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
• In memory of Able Seaman Cecil Armstrong Hornsey, J/6554, H.M.S “Brisk”, Royal Navy who died on 13 May 1915 Age 22
• Son of John and Agnes Sophia Hornsey, of 56, St. Mary’s Terrace, West Hill, Hastings. Awarded Naval General Service Medal (Persian Gulf)
• Remembered with honour, Plymouth Naval Memorial

John and Agnes were listed living at 56 St Mary’s Terrace, West Hill, Hastings by the CWGC, although on Cecil’s pension record his father John’s address is given as Carrington Military Hospital, Nottinghamshire.

Rest in Peace.

Pictures, Plymouth Naval Memorial, HMS Ganges (Shotley) c1910, HMS Leviathan, HMS Brisk…/cecil-h…/

HMS Brisk

Remembrance – Gunner Robert William Day

Today we remember Robert William Day of Thurlby who died of wounds on the 11th May 1918 whilst serving with the 149th Brigade Royal Field Artillery.

Robert was born late in 1884 in Bainton Lincolnshire to Robert William Day, a Farm Labourer born in Godmanchester and his wife Elizabeth Holiday born in 1861 in Thurlby near Bourne.

The couple were married in 1882 in the Peterborough District and only had the one child, Robert.
In 1891 the Couple were living in Uffington, Lincolnshire where Robert was working as a miller’s labourer.
We next find Robert with his parents on the 1901 census in Battersea, London. Father Robert is working as a general labourer and young Robert is now 15 and working as a Warehouse Porter.
Another 10 years on and Robert Snr and Elizabeth are living in her home village of Thurlby, Robert working as a Farm labourer. Robert Jnr is no longer at home.

Robert William Day Jnr., in the meantime is found getting Married in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1909. He married Elizabeth Mary Rochester in the summer and their Daughter Elizabeth Ann Rochester Day was born on 23rd November 1909.
The 1911 census is very interesting as we can find Elizabeth Day in Belford, Northumberland, working as a general domestic servant. She has entered herself on the census as single with no children and we know at the same time Daughter Elizabeth Ann is living with her Grandparents John and Elizabeth Rochester.
Robert Day cannot be found on any 1911 census return and we suspect has most likely joined the Army.

Robert first served abroad in September 1914, usually this means that he was either already serving at the outbreak of war or on Army reserve and immediately re-joined.

Unfortunately no records appear to still exist and like 60% of all WW1 full service records, probably destroyed in a warehouse fire in the Blitz. All we can say is that he initially served with the 12th Brigade RFA, possibly his old Brigade and first war posting. He also know that he was serving with the 149th Brigade when he was wounded in the field and later died of wounds.

The 12th Brigade formed part of Britain’s pre war regular army and comprised the 43rd, 86th and 87th Howitzer Batteries.

On august 5th the Brigade was mobilised and moved to Queenstown (Cork, Ireland). They embarked on the Cymric on the 15th August and proceeded to Liverpool. The 6th Division concentrated around Cambridge between the 19th and the 31st August. On the 7th September the 12th Brigade proceeded to Southampton and on the 8th embarked on ship with the rest of the division.

After arriving in St Nazaire on the 10th they disembarked and stayed in camp there until the 12th.
Over the next week they were moved around by train and eventually on the 16th arrived at Serches (S.E. of Soissons). Coming under orders of the 5th division , after dark they came into action near Le Pavillon Farm. The 43rd and 86th Batteries set up north of the farm and 87th in the rear of Les Carrierres. The guns were entrenched in the night.
On the 17th September they were ordered to shell Chivres village (N.E of Soissons) and the vicinity, setting the village on fire. On the 19th they registered the enemy’s trenches near Y of Vregny. At the time it would look they were using the names on the maps to pinpoint their position. The Brigade diary notes that this registering of trenches was done with the help of Aircraft.
The actions above would have been Robert’s first actions of the war.

After the 18th May 1915, the 86th Battery was transferred and a year later on the 12th May 1916 the Brigade was broken up.

The 149th was a new army Brigade and joined the 30th Division on the 13th August 1915 at Grantham. This was made up of 4 batteries and over time these Batteries moved around and so it is impossible with the information we have about Robert to even try and work out when and where he joined the 149th. If there is anyone who has researched batteries that could have moved from the 12th to the 149th please do get in touch.

We can say for certain that he was with the 149th when he was wounded and so we look to the Brigade Diary around that time to tell Robert’s story. By now a Brigade was made up of 4 batteries A,B,C,D. and at the end of April the 149th had been in the Ypres Salient.

28th April 1918- H21.b.2.3
Quieter day – enemy shelled A battery position, causing a few casualties, during the night 28/29 a prisoner captured near Voormezeele warned us that the Bosch intended to make further attack on Ypres on the following day – every precaution was taken but no attack developed.
Orders received to take over the line from 51st Brigade RFA on the night – but these were afterwards cancelled.

29th April 1918
Enemy further attempted to force positions on our right but were unsuccessful. A concentration of the enemy round Voormezeele was spotted by 1 F.O.O. and completely dispersed by our guns. Harassing fire carried out during the night.

30th Aril 1918
Quiet day – very little shelling by the enemy he was reported to be moving up his guns. Two or three very successful shots on enemy movement under direct observation were carried out. To trench mortar batteries were effectively silenced by our howitzer battery.

May 1918
In action south of Ypres Cover in front from south of the Zillebeke lake to Lock 8 on Canal.

5th may 1918
Moved to cover Ridge Wood to the Voormezeele front, changing positions with 245 brigade RFA (49 DA).

8th May 1918
French operation in neighbourhood of Locre 4am. Bangs put down to assist.
Enemy attack, bombardment beginning 3 am gas shell and all calibres. Battery positions heavily gas shelled 3 am to 2 pm afternoon. Enemy advance on La Clytte to Voormezeele front but situation ?? Late.
Brigade relieved by 156 Brigade RFA after delay through attack.
Marched to Staple area same evening (20 mile)

9th May 1918
In action again relieving 64th Brigade RFA on front Meteren and W adjoining French

10th May 1918
All Quiet

11th May 1918
Batteries shelled in the morning. Some casualties.

It was on the 11th May 1918 that Gunner Robert William Day died of wounds. He is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. At the time Boulogne would have been one of the ports used to evacuate the badly wounded back to England.
Normally after getting injured a man would be cleared through a casualty clearing station or field hospital and placed on an ambulance train taking them back to hospitals away from the line, such as Boulogne, Etaples, Le treport. Here they would continue to be treated until they could be evacuated back to England and further hospitalisation and hopefully convalescence.
The train would take several hours maybe even half a day and so it is unlikely that Robert was one of the casualties of the shelling on the 11th, but more likely was one of the casualties 8th from the bombardment and gas shelling, those wounds being fatal and then passing away at hospital or I transit through the Boulogne hospital system.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Gunner Robert William Day, 21714, 149th Bde., Royal Field Artillery who died on 11 May 1918 Age 32. Son of Robert William and Elizabeth Day, of Thurlby, Bourne, Lincs.
Remembered with honour, Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

Robert is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in St Firmin’s Church, Thurlby.

Robert’s effects were left jointly to his Mother and Father, Elizabeth and Robert W Day. This was the same with the War Gratuity. The Gratuity paid was £22/-/- which confirms that Robert most likely re-joined the Army on the outbreak of war but does not allow us to calculate an exact date.

Unusually his wife Elizabeth did not receive anything although she was the recipient of his pension. Robert’s pension card is very interesting as it tells us that Elizabeth Mary Day, his wife, was serving with the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, W.A.A.C., initially at the MTC Depot Army Service Corps in Plumstead, then 36 Camp, Ripon.
From other records we can see that she also served in Gateshead and finally at the Officers Command Depot in Scarborough, each time as a waitress. She served between September 1917 eventually leaving on compassionate grounds on 22nd November 1918.
On none of her records is Robert mentioned, although he would be away serving when the WAAC started and she can only be found on his pension records.
What the relationship was between Robert and Elizabeth was we will probably never know. On the day that he died she was in hospital and then spent the next 12 days on sick leave. The reason for the compassionate leave in November is also unknown.

The Commonwealth War Graves report into headstones for Boulogne Eastern Cemetery shows that his father, R.W.Day Esq., Thurlby, Lincolnshire, had the extra inscription added on the engraving of the stone, “Not dead but gone before”.

We will remember them.

The find about Robert’s wife is a piece of research carried out today and goes to prove that it dos not matter how much time you spend researching someone, something new will eventually come along and so our men’s stories will never be completely told.…/robert-…/

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