Monthly Archives: July 2017


NIMZ, Arthur William

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery entrance © Carol Sklinar

Gunner Arthur William Nimz, service number 32847 served in the Royal Field Artillery, C Battery, 177th Brigade, after enlisting in Lodon. He rests in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery after dying of wounds on 29th July 1917.

Arthur was the son of Frederick and Mary Nimz who when giving information to the newly formed Commonwealth War Graves Commission told they were living at 123 Harslesden Road, Wilsden Green, London.  Arthur was awarded the British and Victory Medals.

Arthur had bee born in 1896, being at the time one of four children.  Frederick his father had been born in Germany but was now a British Subject, who was ‘living on own means’. Home for the family was Selina House, Southal Beach(?).


A W Nimz headstone

A W Nimz headstone

Ten years later in 1911, Mary and five children were living in a flat with three rooms in Albert House, Harlesden Road, Willesden Green, NW.  Mary was a widow working as a tailoress in a gentleman’s tailoring business.  Fifteen year old Arthur was working as an assistant book seller.

Frederick William Nimz had died in the late summer of 1908.  Probate for Frederick William Charles of Albert House, was proven in 1912 – monies totalling £1587 10s were left to Mary, his widow.  Mary Harriet Nimz of 123 Harlesden Road, died on 14th of June 1926 with her monies totalling £2128 16s 14d being left to Alfred Frederick Nimz, tailor and Edward William Charles Nimz, metal worker.

During the Great War Arthur’s brother Frederick William also served.  He served in the Middlesex Regiment as a Private.  His serial numbers being 4706 and 291756.

Frederick like his brother was granted the British and Victory Medals, but unlike his brother he would have been able to claim them himself.



Calais Berry, WW1 Soldier and WW2 Special Constable

Calais Berry, WW1 Soldier and WW2 Special Constable

Following on from my previous blog, I thought I would highlight one of the battle names and find a young man who fought during the Great War.

I found a young man named Calais Berry who was born in the late 1890’s in one of the London boroughs. What made this young man interesting was that his WW1 service record has survived the bombings in London during WW2.

Calais birth was registered in the Wandsworth District in 1897.

1901 Calais and his family are living at Fords(?) Place, Battersea. He was the son of Abraham Berry, a 51 year old carpenter and joiner who was born in Shropshire. His mother Martha A was aged 41 and born in Cape Town, Cape Colony. Of their eight children, the 6 eldest were born in Chatham, with the two younger ones being born in Battersea.

Ten years later Martha A Berry, had included in the second column that she was Mrs Berry, aged 51 she was a widow. Mrs Berry had included that she had been married 33 years and born 10 children – all of which had survived. Four of her children were still at home, ranging in ages from 21 down to Calais’ (now 13) younger sister who was 11. Home for the family was a 3 roomed house – 7 Fords Place – could this be the same house she shared with her husband and her other children? Martha signed the census form Martha Agens Berry.

Signature of Calais Berry on his Attestation Papers via Ancestry

Signature of Calais Berry on his Attestation Papers via Ancestry

Calais Hugh Berry attested before Capt., H R Hadow in Battersea on the 18th of August 1915. He was a mill assistant living at 8 Alfred Place, Battersea, London. His age was listed at 9 years and 271 days. His height was given as 5′ 6” tall and he weighed 115lbs. Distinctive marks – he had a raised mole on the back of his neck. Calais served as Gunner 166591 in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

On the 18th of August 1915, he was attached to the Howitzer Bde. By July of the following year he had been posted to Ripon, while another document has him being ‘Home’ from August 18th, 1915 – 5th March 1916. In France from 6th March 1916 – 8th June 1916 and ‘Home’ from the 19th of June. A rubber stamp across his records tells he was part of the British Expeditionary Force in France 1916.

On 23rd June 1916, Calais’ time in the military takes a little bit of a turn! One record tells on 23trd June 1916 he is in No 6 Canadian General Hospital, Rouen. He is sent back to England onboard HS Aberdonian. A letter from the Metropolitan Hospital, Military section, Endfield Road request Calais medical records. He is suffering from vertigo, the records are requested for his discharge when fit. Calais is now serving as Gnr 41261, RFA, HQ Bgde, A Bty.

On 19th of July 1916, the War Office received a letter from Mrs A Berry, Calais mother.

“ Dear Sir, Having already written to you on behalf of my son, Gunner C Berry No 41261, A Sub, 51st reserve Bty, ****brige Camp, Hemel Hempstead, Herts. I am writing to you once again as I want to prevent him returning on Active Service until he is of age. He has only returned to England a month ago, suffering from Shell shock, and Vertigo, He is my only support. I am very anxious about him for I know he is not fit for returning yet. I have no ********* for him being in the army, but, I think it only just that he should not go back to France until he is 19 which is at the end of November, especially has he has only just returned. I do trust you will kindly see into the matter for me and oblige, Believe me, Yours Obediently, Mrs A Berry, Trusting you will reply and let me know.

One of Calais’ records which detail his postings and movement, tells that on the 30th September 1917 he had been at 62 CCS, classified as ‘Wounded Shell Concussion in the field’ The date of him becoming a casualty was 18th September 1917. Had he been wounded before as by the following day the above letter tells that Mrs Berry had already written to the War Office. Had she received the news very quickly and written two letters on the same day?

On the 24th July 1916 another letter from Mrs A Berry was date stamped by the War Record Office and the War Office Accounts, went on to say “Dear Sir, I am writing to you on behalf of my son, Gunner C Berry No. 41261, 186 Brigade, RFA Headquarters Staff. He has been on Active Service, and returned to England a fortnight ago suffering from Trench Fever and Vertigo. He is still very queer, he has suffered when a child with fits and general bad health and I his mother wish to prevent him returning on Active Service until he is 19, which will be at the end of November. I may tell you the Doctor who attended him in France told him not to return until he was nineteen. I am very anxious about him, so I trust you will kindly see into the case for me and let me know, for I sincerely do not want him to return until he of age. Trusting you will do your best, Believe me, Yours Obediently Mrs A Berry.

Gunner Berry, RFA was discharged from QAM HP Millbank on 4th July 1916 – could he have been sent to Ripon?

In 1917 Calais must have been back in Ripon as in April he was given 3 days CB for ‘having dirty butter on shelf in hut 26’. The following month he was absent without leave from 7th May 1917 to 9 am 9th May 1917 (9 hours). A soldier named O’Keefe was the witness, his charge could have been a repeat of 3 days CB.

Calais reported sick on 17th September 1917. On admission at 3 am ‘Unconcious; pulse 66, Temp. normal, Pupils equal, normal- except for slight sluggish reaction to light. Reflex normal, no injury of head detected. Signed off by W J Johnson, Capt RAMC 62 CCS Section 4 ‘I certify that the above named was subjected in the course of his duty to exceptional exposure of the following nature ………….On my way to the Battery position, a shell dropped very close to him. Again on reaching the Battery another Shell dropped quite close. This seemed to him a bit strange in his matter and he rapidly got worse and he was sent to the Field Ambulance. Dated 21/9/1 Signed off by J Harcourt Jeffers Lieut Major 220 Seige Battery RGA., classing Calais as ‘wounded Shell Shock Concussion’.

According to his Medal Card somewhere in his service history, his service number changed from 41261 RFA, 5C Res. Bge to 166391, RGA (?)

By the 11th of March 1919, Calais was giving his address as 81 Blondel Street, Calvert Road, Battersea. He had joined the army his medical grade was A1. According to his mother’s letters during 1916 she feels is no longer fitting that status.

A sheet of his service record informs of his hospital admittances/sick list – On the 23rd of June 1916 to 4th July 1916 Calais was in the Metropolitan Hospital suffering from Vertigo (12 days). The remarks section says ‘No Vertigo observed, Constipated’. On the 5th of March 1918 to 1st April 1918, he was admitted to the Red Cross, Wallasey , again for Vertigo (27 days). The following line tells that he was in The Western General, Fazakerley, Liverpool. The dates don’t appear to be in order as he was admitted on 20th February 1918 and discharged on 5th March 1918 – the same day he was at the Red cross? He was suffering from Heute Nephritis – did he go straight from one to the other?

Gnr Berry's Medal Card via Ancestry

Gnr Berry’s Medal Card via Ancestry

Did Calais go back to France? Did he survive the war?

Yes, he did return to France and survive the war. Initially going to France in March 1916, returning by mid-June of the same year. By the 31st May 1917, he was back in France, returning home on 20th February 1918. Serving once again ‘at home’ until 16th April 1919. He was demobilised on that day, being transferred to Class ‘2’ Army Reserve having served 3 years 242 days – most of which had been in England.

In the first few months of 1925, Calais married Grace Hobin in the Wandsworth Registration District. In 1927 there is a birth for a child born to Berry/Hobin – Olive A born in Lambeth. Before the war Calais had been working as a mill worker, by the time of the 1939 Register, now supporting his wife, he is District Manager, Scottish Legal Life Assurance Society. He is also a Special Constable Wartime with the Portsmouth City Police. Grace, like many other women, did Household Duties, was part of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Home for the couple was 8 Wallisdean Avenue, Portsmouth.

In a 1954 Telephone Directory, Calais H Berry was living at 9 Auburn Road, Redland, Bristol. You could contact Calais by ringing Bristol 3-5426.

Born on 20th November 1897, Calais died aged 92 and is registered in the Dec Qtr of 1989 in Bristol.

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Babies names of the Great War

Babies names of the Great War

Poster 'War Babies of the Great War' via the National Archives

Poster ‘War Babies of the Great War’ via the National Archives

Whilst browsing through a batch of photographs I came across a poster I had saved from the National Archives. The poster was entitled ‘Babies of the First World War’. I would have collected with the thought of using it as a base for a blog…….later. Well, the poster has now found its time to be of us.

I blogged about place names and titles being used as first names a while ago, but not until rediscovering the poster had I ever thought of battle names being used as first names. Why not? It is only like the Beckhams of today using Brooklyn as one of their children’s names.

The poster informed that over 1,200 babies were named after battles. Over 200 babies were named after heroes and 203 babies were named after the end of the war.

The name Verdun was used 901 times and was most popular in South Wales. The battles of Ypres, Mons, Arras, Dardanelles, Loos and Somme were responsible for some children’s names. Why? Was the father involved in the battle? Did he lose his life during a battle, or did a relative or close friend lose his life?

My great uncle was in the battle of Passchendaele which has its centenary coming up shortly. It appears that in the September quarter of 1918 a baby was born and given the name Paschendale, his family name being Holman.

Cambrai also seemed to be used as a first name, this time as early as 1874. Also being used from 1915 to 1933. Dunkirk also seems to have a couple of entries in the first two years of the war.

Calais, another French town is not forgotten, with two births in the late 1890’s, eight births in the Great War period and two during the Second World War. Ostend also seems to have had its fair share of naming. In 1920 the Belgian town of Poperinghe is remembered by the Jones family. Vimy Ridge is not forgotten in the naming stakes and is popular, having its first mention in 1916. With the Moore, Chapman, Banister and Isaac families using this first name.

During WW2 Arnhem is remembered with three births.

Using names of battles or heroes is not a 20th or 21st century idea, as early as 1848 Waterloo was used by the Hatton, Waters and Durrant families to name their children – all boys I presume!

Trying earlier battles and wars, and using ‘Civil’ as a search criterion I came up with it as a  name being used quite a number of times. The earliest entry in civil registration is Civil Reed born in 1837 with the latest entry being 1930. The name has been feminised in some instances to Civilia.

The end of the war was remembered with the use of the name Peace. The name has been used for many years but civil registration has seen one or two children born each year with that name. There are 16 births recorded in the June Qtr of 1856, this coincides with the end of the Crimean War. The numbers fall back to one or two each quarter until the first quarter of 1902 with nine children being given the name, followed by 27 children having Peace as a first or second name – being either male or female. December of 1918 had 28 namings. A steady stream of namings follows in each quarter until the September entries of 1919 when over 45 children have Peace or Peacefull as a first name. The same trend doesn’t follow after the Second World War.

Victory has been used as a first name for many years with at least one or two being recorded in Civil Registration since 1937, with a growing number being registered from 1914 to December of 1918 with over 35 instances.

Lord Kitchener via Daily Mail

Lord Kitchener via Daily Mail

Kitchener is first used according to Civil Registration in the winter of 1898, having a spike in September of 1902, and a spike in the 1914, 1915 and 1916 quarters. There was a small spike in the September quarter of 1917 – December 1917 sees the last three entries until June quarter of 1921, then being back to one each quarter until its last entry in 1963

The National Archive poster tells that between 1914 – 1919 the first name Cavell is used 25 times. But omits, as I have found with other names, that the first entry in Civil Registration was Cavel Dickinson in 1844. The next entry in 1854 followed by 1901. The name not being registered again until the December quarter of 1915. During in the war years it was used over 25 times. From 1920 being used at least once or twice each year.

I know the poster is informative but when looking at the poster I was lead to believe that these names were only used from that time, but with a little bit of time spent on FreeBMD I know know that these names have been used from Civil Registration and if I looked at Parish Registers would find that many of the names would go back further.

Visit to Germany and Tyne Cot by Guest Blogger Debbie Staynes

Extracts from father’s diary of his visit to Germany with Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield in the summer of 1931.

Friday August 7th.

Said Auf-Wiedersehen to Father Rhine and boarded the Ostend train. We had a pleasant journey through Aachen and Bruges, with its belfry, to Ostend. Arrived at Ostend, we had a ham-sandwich and arranged a trip to the battlefields for those who wished. Two taxis were chartered. We careered down the straight road flanked by poplars, with cobbles down each side and potholes down the middle; it was late afternoon and everything was beginning to revive after the noon-day heat. Hedges there were none, only ditches and pollard willows. We came to Thourout, the German Headquarters, and now a change began. The trees were young, the farms new built; the mellow red brick gave way to brighter reds, the little old churches to new ones. Then we came to the crest of a ridge with a fine view and a straggling village on the skyline with a church that reminded me of

Photographs courtesy of Guest Blogger, D Staynes

Shelly Church. About 7.0 o’clock we reached the Tyne Cot Cemetery on Passchendale Ridge. The sun had lost its fierceness and a few small white clouds were high, very high up in the heavens. Nearby a lark deadened the sound of our feet as we walked up the avenues between long white rows of gravestones, prim and even, save where the plain wood cross of a fallen foe broke the white line. At the head of the cemetery on a semi-circular wall are the names of the fallen, 3500. Many of the gravestones bear names; many have but the inscription “Known unto God”. It was very peaceful amongst the lavender and rambler roses, so peaceful that war seemed very far away indeed; and above us sang the skylark.

The signs of war have rapidly effaced. New buildings have sprung up. The fields are now corn, the pastures level but for the occasional hollows which are not quite filled in yet. We were at Ypres before we knew it, and entered by the Menin Gate. Here over 50,000 names are recorded of those who fell before the city. The Cloth Hall is still a blackened ruin; it is to remain a perpetual memorial of war. By it are stall with curios to sell and little children asking for centimes. We bought some curious stone covered apparently with clay and gunpowder, with a very effective crack when dropped. Child also bought a very large cigar; he wondered whether customs would pass it, but they never bothered him. From Ypres we bumped along, passing a curious steam-tram (these run on railway lines where the foot-path should be and are uniquely wonderful) until we came to the trenches near Nieuport. The very extreme north section of the trenches is preserved with blasted trees and stagnant pools complete, the guns still jutting from their emplacements. It was eerie and rather awful in the dusk. That was our last stop……..

Le Chemin de Arts – Gravelines

Le Chemin de Arts – Gravelines

Recently I was given a leaflet letting me know of an art exhibition in Gravelines, Northern France.

Why was I given this leaflet? Well, it so happens that one of my friends has been asked to exhibit some of his oil paintings…………how good is that?

Who is my friend and the artist?

David Segrave is his name and he has a background in graphic art. He has family origins in Jersey and lives in the South of England but spends some of his time on the Chateau du Gandspette, where he has a small exhibition in the restaurant. His work is admired by those who either eat in the restaurant or step inside to visit the bar for a coffee or a cooling drink on a hot day.

Le Chemin de Arts – Gravelines

David Segrave art photographed by C Sklinar July 2017

David Segrave art photographed by C Sklinar July 2017

David Segrave art photographed by C Sklinar July 2017

The exhibition opened in June and closes Sunday 27th of August with many local artists, including – Christian Beni, Grande-Synthe; Francois Wetterwald, Dunkirk, exhibiting in one of the 8 display areas. David will be displaying his art in the Corps de Garde Varennes, Place de l’Esplanade on the 26th and 27th of August 2017. The exhibition areas are open from 10:30 to 12:30 and 14:20 – 18:30.

If you are visiting Northern France during this time, you could do worse than spend a few hours visiting Gravelines and its eight pop-up galleries.

Pvte Frank Rothery

Pvte Frank Rothery

Bagshaw Museum Collection

Last year I visited Bagshaw Museum to see History Wardrobe give one of their fantastic talk –  talk is not really the correct word, words like performance and event come to mind but then you have to be part of the audience to understand.

I arrived early, too early for my complimentary drink to be ready, so I had a quick walk around the museum’s ground floor before partaking of my glass of Prosecco. I focused on a cabinet containing photographs and military memorabilia. Photographs are always moving and thought provoking and bring to mind a ‘what if’ or ‘if only’, especially military photographs as you don’t know initially if the young man ‘came home’.

Two photographs caught my attention, one of an officer in a quite elaborate guilt frame and the other, a soldier, unframed and simply mounted on card. What made this special to me was the fact that there was a smaller photograph propped up against one corner and original documents scattered alongside. Without this smattering of documents, the photograph would be just a photograph from someone’s donated collection.

The document that brought this soldier to life was the scroll that accompanied each ‘Death Penny’.

He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among
those who at the call of King and Country,
left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger,

and finally passed out of sight of men by the path of duty
and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives
that others might live in freedom.
Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten.
Pte. Frank Rothery
Royal Lancaster Regt.

I now knew his name, Pte., Frank Rothery.

A ‘Death Penny’ also came with a smaller note, one of many identical notes, sent from the King to grieving families across the nation –   ‘I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War’.

Well, by the family receiving the Scroll and ‘Death Penny’, we know that his family’s life changed in one fleeting moment when Frank died. But who was Frank before he went to war and before that eventful day.

Frank was the son of John Rothery and his wife Martha Annie nee Wharton. Frank aged 22, married Annie Teale aged 19 on December 18th 1915. Frank worked as a spinner and Annie was a weaver.

Frank being enlisted in Gomersal in 1915. His regiment had been used for home defence before being sent to France. By January 1917 his regiment had become part of the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) landing at Etarples on the 9th inst. He served as Private 4489, in the 8th K.O.R.L. (King’s Own Royal Lancaster) but was transferred on the 10th of January to the 1/4th K.O.R.L.

Pvte. Rothery’s Service Records have survived as part of the ‘Burnt Records’, destroyed and damaged by fire and water during WW2.  Frank’s records have certainly been burnt and damaged by water.

One damaged form tells that while at Southampton, on the 25th of November 1916 Frank was AWOL, not returning until 12.30pm on the 27th. For this demeanour, he was deducted 6 days pay.

Frank was wounded and died shortly after, according to official documents, on 22nd November 1917. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has marked his headstone the 25th November 1917.

During the period following Frank’s death, Annie received numerous letters from the War Office, including a receipt for the ‘Death Penny’, and on the 22nd of April Annie signed for ‘his 3 Identity Discs, Letters, Cards, Note book’. Letters and memo’s between the War Office departments had Annie’s address as 65 Highfield House, Whitelea, Batley. Annie was awarded a pension of 20/- per week for her and one child with effect from 8th of July 1918. It makes you wonder how she coped from November 1917 to the mid summer of the following year.

Annie in December 1917 was sent a letter by R R Sayers C.F., I/4 K.O. R. Lancs Regt., B.E.F., which went on to say:

Dear Mrs Rothery, I should have written before this, but have had so many letters to write, that I am only slowly overtaking my correspondence. You have doubtless heard of your husband’s death in action on Nov. 20th (different date). I write to sympathise with you in your very great loss. He was a favourite with his company, both men and officers. He is missed especially by his intimate pals. A good soldier, he died bravely doing his duty, in the cause of righteousness and truth against evil and wrong.

It will be a comfort to you to know that his body was recovered and given Christian burial by a Church of England chaplain. His grave is in the military cemetery in Villiers-Faucon, and he is buried in nice dry soil. A cross will be, if it is not already, set up on his last resting place.

Bagshaw Museum Collection

I am a Non-Conformist chaplain, but I thought I should write a note of sympathy, as I am attached to your late husband’s battalion. If you write to the Registrar of Graves B.E.F., you can have a photograph of the grave. I would have written to you sooner but we have been on the move for almost a fortnight, Yours, with deep sympathy’.

It looks like Annie did request a photograph of Frank’s grave as it forms part of his display.

One last receipt received by Annie was for Frank’s Medals – the Victory and British Medals which she signed for on January 10th 1922. But, and there always has to be a ‘but’, Annie was now signing as ‘Annie Grayshon’, yes, she had remarried, marrying John W Grayshon in the September ¼ of 1919 in the Dewsbury Registration District. John had also been a soldier in the Great War.

image via Find a Grave

Frank and Annie’s daughter, Leah, married Arthur Heward in September 7th 1938. Leah ad Arthur lived at 105 Leeds Old Road, Heckmondwike in 1939. Arthur born on 30th October 1913 worked as a ‘raw hide classer’ and Leah born on the 18th of June 1916 was classified as ‘unpaid domestic duties.

With a photograph giving only one clue, it is amazing how much you learn about their lives.

The CWGC gradually replaced all the wooden crosses with the familiar headstones we now associated with those commemorating the dead