Search results for RIP.

27 March 1915 : Sgt John Robert Bannister

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The son of John Bannister, a nut and bolt maker and his wife Mary Ellen, a cotton weaver. At the 1891 there were somehow a family of six, parents and four children and four lodgers (a mother and her three children) in the same dwelling (11 Gresham Place, Burnley).  John had three younger brothers James, Harry, Gilbert and three younger sisters,…


26 March 1915: Pte Hugh Ching (Alias Hugh William Power)

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He was the only son of Richard Ching (a grocer’s assistant) of 180, Eswyn Road, Tooting and his wife Annie.  He was educated at Stockwell School In 1891, age 4, Hugh was at home with his family, older sisters Mabel (8) and Florence (6) and Aunt Elizabeth Ching (31) on Aytown Road, Brixton  In 1901, age 14, Hugh was living at home in Brixton,…


George Peachment: one of the youngest recipients of the Victoria Cross : 25 September 1915

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George Peachment was, when he enlisted, not much different from many other young volunteers in that he lied about his age to try to 'do his bit' for King and Country. His first attempt to enlist was unsuccessful (according to a family member, to try to make him look older, he borrowed his father's bowler hat when he tried to enlist aged 17 years an…


The Three Pannell Brothers - 'The Day Sussex Died'

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The Three Pannell Brothers - 'The Day Sussex Died' The story of the five Souls brothers, who were all killed during the First World War, is very well-known and, earlier this year, we published the similar story of the five Baldock-Apps brothers from Hurst Green. In looking through The Western Front Association pension records as part of Project Al…


The sinking of HMS Hawke : 15 October 1914

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Margaret Lyness died on 10 April 1987 and with her went one of the last connections with a major incident in the early weeks of the war. Margaret was born on 16 March 1915 and christened 'Margaret Hawke'. Her parents were Joyce (an unusual name for a man) and Maggie Power. What is striking is the middle name that was chosen for Margaret. She was na…


Died one day, buried two days later by his father

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On 8 November 1915 a young officer, 2/Lt Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox, was killed whilst serving in the 8th Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment).Two days later he was buried by his father the chaplain to the forces. Kenneth Wilcox was the only son of Rev. G.A. Wilcox and Mrs H.L. Wilcox. Rev. Wilcox was the vicar of St George’s Battersea Park an…


Two brothers, but in different armies

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It is not unusual to find brothers who were killed in the Great War. It is, however, unusual to find brothers who fought in different national contingents. One example of this is the case of Homer Emmett Smith who died on 10 November 1917 whilst serving in the 20th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force. His brother Leon also served and was killed…


Lieutenant-Commander Frederick 'Sep' Kelly - Olympic Gold 1908, Performer and Composer

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Frederick 'Sep' ‘Cleg’ Kelly, the Olympic gold medal rower, pianist and officer in the Royal Naval Division who was killed on 13 November 1916 on the opening day of the Battle of the Ancre. The seventh child (and this his name) of a wealthy wool magnate from Australia, 'Sep' along with five of his brothers was sent to England to be educated at E…


SS Laurentic: A story of Gold Bullion, Crime and Intrigue and loss of life that helped change the course of WW1.

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This story begins with an ordinary Pension Card that relates to a 20 year old Royal Marine named Frederick Went. Frederick Arthur Moat Went (CH/18255) served with the Royal Marine Light Infantry on H.M.S. 'Laurentic'. He lost his life on 25 January 1917 when his ship sank. He was the son of Frederick and Eliza Went and is commemorated on the Chath…


Death of a Spy: Charles Simon : 7 June 1915

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‘Project Hometown’ has brought to light many fascinating, tragic and sometimes uncomfortable stories. However, one of the most unusual cards is that of a civilian who received an award for gallantry and whose dependants were granted a military pension. Adam Charles Simon (who preferred to be known as Charles) was born in Bangkok on 4 June 1880…


From Schoolboy to Battalion Commander: Cecil Crichton-Browne : 13 December 1918

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Captain (Acting Major) Cecil Harold Crichton-Browne was aged just 22 when he died on 13 December 1918. At the outbreak of the war he had joined his father’s regiment, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. In just four years he was promoted from Second Lieutenant to acting Major and briefly commanded the 1st Battalion. This is his story.  Cecil Chri…


A Sobering Aspect of the Christmas Truce : 25 December 1915

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Many of the accounts of the Christmas ‘Truce’ in 1914 focus on the exchange of gifts and the supposed playing of football…but in at least one instance, there was a more serious and sobering aspect to the fraternisation that took place. Above: British and German officers meeting in No-Man's Land during the unofficial truce. (British troops from t…


The First Phosgene Attack on British Troops : 19 December 19015

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The first use of phosgene gas against British troops by the German army took place on 19 December 1915. The gas attack took place north of Ypres where the 49th (West Riding) Division was in the line. This attack had been ‘given away’ when a German prisoner had been interrogated. As a result an artillery barrage on the German trenches was ordered o…


The Loss of HM Yacht Iolaire 1st January 1919

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Hogmanay 1918 and many families in the Western Isles awaited with great anticipation the imminent return of husbands, fathers and sons after four long years of war. Such was the demand to get returning servicemen home, the mailboat ‘Sheila’ could not cope with the demand and therefore the Admiralty drafted in the Yacht Iolaire to assist. But when t…


From cruiseship to armed merchant cruiser and spy catcher….

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The ship that was HMS Viknor was built in 1888 as a passenger liner, the ‘Atrato’, for use on routes between Britain and the West Indies. In 1912, she would be renamed as the ‘Viking’ and was used for cruising. However, on the outbreak of war, she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty, renamed ‘HMS Viknor’ and armed as a merchant cruiser taske…


Eton Street 'Shrine' in Hull and the loss of the Earl

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At the corner of Eton Street and Hessle Road in Hull stood until recently a branch of the Yorkshire Bank. As with most cities, the closure of bank branches has accelerated in recent years leading to further declines in local services. This is nothing new - this area of Hull has been subject to changes and ‘slum clearances’. It was during these c…


The ‘Battle' of May Island January 1917 and K-Class Submarines of the First World War

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This was neither a ‘battle’ nor an engagement of any kind with the enemy, but nonetheless, it left over a hundred families grieving the loss of a loved one in a series of mishaps: yet another tragic chapter in the short history of the ill-fated K Class submarines. Above a Royal Mail commemorative cover (dated 31 January 1993 - being the 75th Ann…


Just because it’s official doesn’t mean it’s right

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'It’s an ill wind …  ' The pandemic has certainly limited options, but at the same time it has focused minds. In my case and that of my collaborator Mick Rowson it concentrated our minds on some of the ‘problem cases’ we had failed to resolve on our roll of honour of Burslem men who were killed in the Great War. Burslem, the Mother Town of the Sta…


Friendly Fire: The Life and Death of Frank Downes

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Paul Brant, who has done splendid work in recording and preserving memory of the Great War in North Staffordshire, recently sent me a photograph of the stained-glass windows war memorial of Longport Methodist Church in Stoke-on-Trent. While Paul was taking the photographs he spotted another memorial stone that had apparently been placed in the chur…


The tale of four lads from Buckie, Banffshire

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The fishing community of Buckie responded enthusiastically to the call for recruits on the outbreak of war in 1914. Although initially it was reported that fishermen were not sure what arm of the British forces in which to enlist, the creation of the Royal Naval Division resulted in more than 100 men enlisting in October 1914. Before leaving on a s…


HM Submarine H5: The Submarine Cover-Up in Caernarfon Bay 2 March 1918.

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HMS H5 was a Royal Navy H-class submarine built by Canadian Vickers, Montreal and launched in June 1915. She was soon in action sinking the German U-boat 51 in July 1916 but was herself sunk after being rammed by the by the British merchantman S.S. Rutherglen when mistaken for a German U-boat on 2 March 1918. Sadly, all on board perished but are co…


'Grandad’s War' by Prof. John Bourne

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Both my grandfathers were born in 1880, both were coal miners and both had large families. My paternal grandfather (and namesake) John Bourne was, according to my father, a very decent man, but I have rarely shown any curiosity about him. My maternal grandfather, Jesse Sheldon, has always been the most intriguing absence in my life. I think my inte…


The 2nd Northants at Neuve Chapelle

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The initial impetus behind this article was research on Lieutenant George Duff Gordon, who hailed from Elgin. During the course of this it became apparent that 2 Northamptonshire Regiment had suffered heavy losses over the period between 10 and 13 March 1915, with the war diary identifying that of 20 officers, 10 were killed, 7 wounded, with one mi…


Sergeant Alexander Edwards VC : 24 March 1918

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Alexander Edwards was born in Lossiemouth on 4 November 1885, the son of Alexander and Jessie Edwards. A cooper, he enlisted in the 6 Seaforth Highlanders in September 1914, going to France with the Battalion on 1 May 1915. Above (top image) Sgt Alexander Edwards, and immediately above: Alexander and his brothers The battalion was in action …


Brothers Buried Together during the First World War

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The Western Front Association’s Pension Record Cards have been very useful in numerous ways – one of these is in being able to identify brothers who were killed – this is because the pension claims by parents detail the two or more sons that they lost in the war. This line of research has led onto the situation of brothers who were killed in the w…


A Family at War

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One of the most persistent and annoying heresies about the past is that it was much simpler than the present. We, the people of now, live complex, challenging lives; they, the people of then, lived simple, uncomplicated lives. There is a word to describe this, but I do not wish to bring the WFA into disrepute by placing it in print.  Perhaps I may …


From ceremonial duties to First Ypres and beyond: The 1st Life Guards and their single worst day of the war

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This is a brief account of one cavalry regiment's war which reached its nadir in very unlikely circumstances whilst they were in a supposedly very safe location on the French coast re-training for a new role. The story starts and ends at Etaples Military Cemetery. The cemetery is – as those who have visited it – a vast and (for its size) relativel…


One Man’s Lifelong Link to Vimy - Donald Wood's Story

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In July 1936, the impressive Canadian National Vimy Memorial was unveiled by King Edward VIII in front of a gathering measured in the tens of thousands. More than 15,000 would then gather for its rededication in 2007 following extensive repairs - and the crowds would again return in numbers in 2017 for the centenary of the battle that resulted in t…


'Gilbert the Filbert' during the Great War RIP 20 August 1916

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Captain Basil Hallam Radford, No 1 Army Kite Ballon Section, Royal Flying Corps was born on 3 April 1888 and lived on Cromwell Road, South Kensington. He was at the public school Charterhouse from 1903 to 1907. Basil Radford became an actor and went on stage as 'Basil Hallam'. He became a star of the Music Halls and was known in particular for his …


A short and unequal engagement: HMS Strongbow and HMS Mary Rose

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HMS Mary Rose and HMS Strongbow (two M-class destroyers) were routinely deployed on convoy duties for merchant vessels carrying coal between Scotland and Norway in 1917. The job was usually fairly mundane – described as ‘mail runs’ by one of the survivors ... but the events of 17 October 1917 would change all that. HMS Mary Rose was the seventh su…


Max Immelmann – the ‘Eagle of Lille’

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The first German air ace of the war was Max Immelmann – known as ‘Der Adler von Lille’ – ‘the eagle of Lille’. Over a period of just over a year, he would claim 17 victories until his death on 18 June 1916. Above: a commemorative coin Born in Dresden on 21 September 1890, Max enrolled in Dresden Cadet School in 1905. By 1912, he had left the ar…


The story of Mike Mountain Horse of the Blood Reserve Canada

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Mike was born 1 November 1887, the son of Mountain Horse and Sikski. His mother Sikski belonged to the Holy Women’s Society (Motokix) and his father to the powerful Horn Society.  He went to school as a boarder at St Paul’s and then to a military academy.  By 1914 he was serving as a cadet instructor with the 23rd Alberta Rangers. On 23 S…


A Father’s Search

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For many families of ‘the missing’, the absence of a known grave in the immediate aftermath of the war was unbearable. It would, of course, be some years before the Memorials to the Missing were constructed after the war. Field Marshal Lord Plumer, when unveiling the Menin Gate in 1927, acknowledged the void that many families of ‘the missing’ woul…


Christmas Day 1914 – Goodwill to all men?

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Much has been written about the Christmas Day ‘Truce’ on 25 December 1914 – while the popular image of Christmas Day 1914 might be that ‘peace reigned’, this was not universal across the western front. Above: the Christmas Truce 1914 Indeed, the CWGC records the deaths of 78 men on the western front on 25 December 1914 – whilst just over 30 of…


The Even Shorter, Sadder Military Career of Thomas Beech

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Thomas Beech’s military service in the Great War lasted officially for thirty-five days. He attested on 5 January 1915 and killed himself on 1 February while home on leave.(1) He never served abroad. Thomas was born on 25 January 1885 at 16 High Street, Burslem, the so-called Mother Town of the Staffordshire Potteries.(2) His mother, Emily (née Fo…


HMS Zubian: A Tale of Two Halves

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On 15 February 1907 the first of the new Tribal Class destroyers, HMS Cossack, was launched and over the following two-and-a-half years she was followed by another eleven sister-ships.  The last of them, HMS Zulu, was launched on 16 September 1909 and commissioned in the following March.  At 285 feet long (86.9m), with a beam of 27 feet (8.2m) and …


Lt Col (Retd) Graham William Parker, OBE : Rest in Peace

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It is with deep regret we have learned that Lt Col (Retd) Graham Parker, OBE has passed away. Graham was one of The Western Front Association's vice-presidents until his recent retirement. During the 1970s Graham was on the staff of the NATO Headquarters, and while stationed at Mons he had opportunity to visit many of the Great War battlefields, i…