Gascoigne Family of Portobello House ii

Gascoigne Family of Portobello House ii

The other week I blogged about Archibald Gascoigne and mentioned that two of his brothers also lost their lives during The Grear War.  I also mentioned that a follow-up blog would come later.  It looks like ‘later’ has arrived a little later than expected!

Peter Herbert Gascoigne in 1917 and Edward Fairfax Gascoigne who accidentally drown while on war service, near Alert Bay, Canada.

Logic seems to take me to the first in the list – Peter Herbert Gascoigne.

Peter’s life in Wakefield very much mirrors that of his brothers until 1912 when he and his elder brother Frank travelled halfway around the world to start a new life in Adelaide, Australia. On the 11th of April 1912, the two brothers departed their home country bound for Adelaide onboard the P & O Steamship ‘Ballarat’ in 3rd class accommodation.  The brothers classed themselves as farm hands and travelled along with engine drivers, carpenters, dressmakers and maids.

Before his enlistment on the 28th of February 1916, Peter had been working as a labourer.  He joined the 50th Btn., Australian Infantry aged 23 years and 8 months. As he was in an Australian regiment, it could be classed as a boon for family historians as his service records were safe.  Australian, Canadian and American records – never having had to suffer damage caused by fire and water during the bombing of London during WW2,  In all there are 26 pages of Peter’s service records.  Each page is a moment in his service to King and Country and the Commonwealth.

Signature of Peter Herbert Gascoigne taken from his Attestation Papers

Page one of his Attestation Papers tells information we already know from the previous blog about his brother Archibald Gascoigne – his name, his birthplace, his next of kin (his mother in this case)  and something I find very personal and touching on all the records I look at  – his signature. Unique to him.

Although Peter’s service records are in no particular order I will try to put the events in the order that they occurred, well try!

Private 1682, Gascoigne Peter Herbert embarked from Adelaide, on board HMAT Aeneas on the 11th of April 1916 – practically four years to the day since he left his home country, he was returning but not to visit his family, he was going to war.  After training at Mitchem, England he was in Etaples, Northern France near the end of September 1916.

Before I tell you the reader a little more about Peter, let me describe him to you.  He was 5′ 6″ in

Peter Gascoigne

height.  He weighed 128lb.  His chest range was 33 – 36″.  His complexion was fresh, he had blue eyes and his hair was brown. He had two vaccination marks on his left arm.  His vision was R 6/6 and left 6/9. His dental examination – Peter had none of his own teeth, he had  ‘full sets’ of artificial. In the words of the Examining Officer, ‘This man should be referred to Special Board’.

The 50th Battalion was originally raised in 1916 following the Gallipoli Campaign, later men from Southern Australia raised their numbers.  Following the Battalion arriving in France, they took part in the battle at Mouquet Farm. They saw service on the Hindenberg Line and took part in battles at Messines and Polygon Wood in 1917. Later in the war, the Battalion served in Belgium and took part in the final Allied offensive of the war in the country around Amiens.

It was on the morning of the 2nd of April 1917, that the 50th Battalion of the AIF attacked the village of Noreuil. A small village in the centre of a triangle between Bapaume to the south, Proville to the east and Arras in the north. Noreuil was at the time an outpost village near the Hinenberg Line.  The battle was a success but the costs were heavy with some 239 casualties.  It was on this day, the 2nd of April 1917, that Peter was classed as  ‘Missing in Action’. A few days later his status had been changed to ‘Killed in Action’.

Ada Gascoigne had already lost one son in 1915, she had bow lost another.  The only thing Ada received from Peter’s effects was his ‘Disc’. Ada signed a postcard confirming receipt of Peter’s disc, dating it August 11th, 1917 and duly posted to the return address – The Officer in Charge, The A.I.F. Kit Store, 110, Greyhound Road, Fulham, London, S.W.6.  Peter was eligible for The British War Medal and the Victory Medal, both of which would have been sent to Ada.  She would also have received a Memorial Scroll.

Peter’s headstone

I think the most poignant thing sent to Ada, apart from Peter’s disc was a pamphlet entitled ‘Where the Australians Rest’.  Peter does rest, he is not remembered in name alone on a memorial wall, he rests in Noreuil Australian Cemetery, along with 218 other casualties, 83 being from the 50th Australian Infantry Battalion.

Peter’s brother Edward Fairfax Gascoigne seemed to be fairly invisible in his online presence for his time in Canada.  He was included with his family in a few online family trees where a few gave information about the place of his death.  But nothing about what he was doing in the war.  It is known that he was accidentally drowned near Alert Bay, Canada while doing some form of war work in lighthouses. It was while trying to elaborate on Canadian lighthouse keepers or workers in the Canadian Archives for the period around WW1 that a light flashed in the old brain cells! One website I had not searched was FamilySearch.  The site was able to point me toward original documents.

The first document was a marriage entry for him and Edith Marie Colwin, a widow aged 38.  Edith was the daughter of Charles and Susan Ward of Victoria, British Colombia.  The wedding took place by Licence on the 11th of October 1910 in St Barnabas Church.  Witnesses to the union were Walter B Colwn and Arthur W Plowman. Edward was 29 years old, having been born on the 15th of May 1881 and baptised in the All Saints Chuch, Wakefield on the 29th of June the same year.  His occupation was given as carpenter.

Edward had left England from Liverpool on the 7th of September 1907 onboard the Allan Line vessel ‘Corsican’ bound for Montreal, Quebec.  A manifest dated 27th of October 1914 for Victoria B.C. sees Edward now aged 33 working in advertising.  The date that he left Liverpool is confirmed, and his destination was now Seattle, Washington.  Edward had taken $125 with him on his trip to Seattle.  The document also gives a good description of Edward – 5′ 6″ in height.  Medium complexion.  Brown hair and blue eyes.  Does that remind you of anyone?

Edward and Edith had one daughter, Dora who had been born in 1917.  Edith had two children to her marriage to James Burgess Colvin, who she had married in 1890 – Walter and James.

With not a lot to say about Edward.  I had better let you know that Frank, who went to Australia with Peter, and lived until 1970.

One question remains to be answered!  Did the family resemblence of height, complexion, hair and eye colour along with build match that of Frank?  If you know, don’t forget to let me know.


Mill Hill Chapel War Memorial, Leeds

Mill Hill Chapel War Memorial, Leeds

Mill Hill Chapel sits quietly and unassuming on one side of the very busy City Square in Leeds its stonework darkened by decades of industrial smoke and grime. Set back from the main thoroughfare the chapel is fronted by its war memorial which stands to one side of the main entrance and remembers the fallen from both world wars.  For those who venture inside the chapel, either for or after a service or on a Heritage Open Day, standing proudly on the wall facing you is the chapel Roll of Honour and bears the names of all the chapel men who went to war for King and Country in the second decade of the twentieth century.

Which of the 28 or so men from the War Memorial shall I bring back to life, and who from the 100+ on the Roll of Honour shall I remember?

The congregation must have been proud of the soldiers from their community as on the Roll of Honour they included alongside names any medals that had been awarded.  This includes a Victoria Cross, Military Medals, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medals and Croix de Guerre’s.  The War Memorial also includes the rank and regiment of those who fell.  The congregation at the time would have made this information visible to all who passed, with no knowledge that 100 years on this information would give family and military historians a ‘leg up’ with their research.  I for one say thank you to them for their foresight!

Whose name on the War Memorial stands out?  Whose regiment differs from his comrades? Should I choose an officer or someone from the other ranks?……………….. L Fishburn.

Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel © C Sklinar 2017

All who passed by the War Memorial at Mill Hill Chapel would have known that L Fishburn died during the Great War, but who was L Fishburn?

According to the Commonwealth War Graves website, there is only one L Fishburn, which is a bonus!  All the information seems to match up with what is already known – Leonard Fishburn, the son of Mr E and Mrs E A Fishburn of Claypit Lane, Leeds. Leonard served in the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) as Rifleman 267077.  Leonard died on the 17th of February 1917 aged 21 and rests in Ten Tree Alley Cemetery, Puisieux, France along with over 40 other casualties of war.

Leonard enlisted in Leeds joining the 2/th battalion of the regiment.  The medal roll for Leonard clearly tells the reader that he was Killed in Action, while the record card gives the added information of another service number – 4900.  When looking for Leonard in the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, it seems there are two records for the same person – both with slightly different information but being cross-referenced by the army, both have the service number of 4900.  Leonard’s mother was to receive all monies owing to him from the Army, the final payment being made in 1919.

Going back to a more peaceful time in Leeds.  Leonard was born on the 20th of December 1893 and was taken to Leeds Parish Church on the 28th of January 1894 by his parents Edward and Elizabeth Ann.  The family at the time lived in Beverley’s (sic) Yard, Kirkgate, Leeds – Edward at the time was a brewer.  Could Beverley’s Yard have a link to Beverley’s Yorkshire Brewery?

No 11 Grove Place, Leeds was home for the family in 1901.  Edward was now aged 43 and still working as a brewer, while Elizabeth was a year younger, aged 42 and was the mother of four children aged between 21 and seven.  The census of 1911 gives more information of use to family historians, namely how long a couple had been married and how many children are alive at the time of the census being taken.  Elizabeth Ann had given birth to six children, with four being alive to be counted, not necessarily being counted in the home of their parents.  Edward, now a shopkeeper,  and Elizabeth Ann were living at 5 Hampshire Terrace, Leeds, with Leonard who was now 17 years old worked as a  tailor (wholesale).  Also in the house was John MacWaters, a 54-year-old widower, who had been married for 33 years,  employed as a bespoke tailor from Dundee, Scotland and Thomas Watson aged 60, who had been married for 35 years and worked as an advertising agent born in Durham.

image via Google

As we know Leonard rests in Ten Tree Alley Cemetery with the following quotation at the base of his headstone ‘Shall they join the host above wearing their wounds like stars‘.

Mill Hill Unitarian Chapel © C Sklinar 2017

I now must draw your attention to the Roll of Honour where two members of the Hirsch family are included.  Firstly, D P Hirsch who was awarded the Victoria Cross but I want to focus on his younger brother F B Hirsch.

The Hirsch family in 1901 lived at 4 Woodhouse Cliffe, Leeds.  Harry was the head of the household and was a Woollen Shoddy Manufacturer, being born in Dundee. His wife was Edith and mother of 3 children aged between 1 and 11 – David P was 11, Frank B was aged 3 and Marjorie aged 1. The family were looked after by two servants.  Harry and Edith Brindley had been married in the September quarter of Leeds in 1895.

Ten years the brothers were boarders at Woollaston School, Nantwich, Cheshire. Meanwhile, Harry and Edith were living at what could be Parkside, Harehills, Leeds.  Included in the household were Betsey Hirsch, Harry’s 74-year-old mother, Alice Brindley, probably Edith’s sister and three servants – a cook, sewing maid and housemaid.  Life carried on the for the Hirsch family, the boys were having a private education, Harry owned property in Leeds and Dacre. Harrogate.

Frank Brindley Hirsch served as a Major in the Green Howards, the same regiment as his brother – a regiment that is very close to my family. Later being part of the 5th Btn. Durham Light Infantry  Frank survived the war and went on to marry Amy Megson in 1921 in the Cambridge area.  The couple went on to have four children, three of which went on to serve in WW2.

The family lived in Low Hall, Dacre, Harrogate.  Harry was one of the Bradford wool merchants, Hirsch Son and Rhodes.  In Dacre, he was involved in the local community including the Royal British Legion and the local Nidderdale Show. The 1939 Register confirms the family lived at Low Hall, Dacre and also tells that as well as being a farmer, Harry was also a topmaker and Chairman of the West Riding Agricultural Society (?).

Frank Brindley Hirsch can also be found on numerous passenger lists departing and arriving from New York, Boston, Quebec, Montreal – could this be business or pleasure? The Leeds Mercury of 15 December 1933 has the company claiming damages for an alleged breach of contract – Harry was living at King Lane House, Adel, Leeds and Frank was residing at Kent Road, Harrogate. Again during WW2 the company run by the Hirsch family attended Bow Street Court involving the Treasury.

Frank Brindley Hirsch was born on the 1st of March 1898 and died in the Claro District in the September quarter of 1995.

Pte. Archibald Gasoigne of Wakefield

Pte. Archibald Gasoigne of Wakefield

This morning I started to look into the history of a local building – that was my intention!  The starting position.  But the name of one of the inhabitants seems to have come to the fore, so I veered off on another of my tangents.

Fairfax Gascoigne – a good sounding name to start me off on my tangent!

Fairfax was born in Leeds on 23rd of November 1850, the son of William Hector Gascoigne and Margaret nee Nicholson.  A few months after his birth, the 1851 census was taken and it was at this time that the family were living in Bell Street, Leeds (off Mabgate). By 1871, William, a painter and engraver had moved his family to Wakefield, and could now be found living in Rodney Yard, Kirkgate. Fairfax was 20 years old and employed as a Saywer’s Clerk, his 16 year old brother, Joseph was a Carriage Trimmer.  By looking at the census and seeing Joseph’s place of birth, it can be determined that William brought his family to Wakefield between 1851 and 1855.

Fairfax met a lady named Hannah Ward and on the 11th of September 1875, she was to walk down the aisle of St John’s Church, Wakefield on the arm of her father Samuel, a farmer of St John’s, Wakefield. The witnesses to this union were Edward Latham and William Dixon or Dyson. Two years later Hannah gave birth to a son, Samuel Hector Gascoigne.  Sadly, less than a year later, in July 1878, Hannah died.  Fairfax, now had a young child and a full time job, what was he to do?

On the 21st of August 1880 at Holy Trinity Church, George Street, Wakefield, Fairfax Gascoigne married for the second time.  His new wife was Ada Purchas a 21 year old spinster living in Kirkgate with her father William Henry Purchas, who was working as a tobacconist.  The witnesses were William Henry Purchas and Annie Purchas.

The following year the newlyweds were living on Bank Street.  Fairfax’s son Samuel Hector was now three years old.  Ada was not the only woman in the house, as Margaret, Fairfax’s mother, was now living with the family – aged 68, with no occupation.

The years are passing by now but Fairfax and his family are still not living in the house that started these ramblings of mine.

Ten years have passed since the last census was taken, the family are at 5 Bank Street, in the South Westgate Ward.  Fairfax and Ada now have 5 children between them and Samuel who is now 13 years old, who along with 2 younger half-siblings, is a scholar at St John’s National School.  Margaret, Ada’s mother in law is still living with the family along with 42-year-old Mary Fallen who was visiting the family.

In 1901 the growing family had moved to 16 York Street. Fairfax was a Solicitor’s Clerk, some of the children were no longer living at home.  There were, however, at least two children that had not been in the previous census.  The youngest of these children, Archibald Gascoigne, was mentioned in a newspaper, it was that newspaper article that led me to Fairfax.

Meat once again has been put on the bones of Fairfax, and he will be mentioned again, but for now, it’s Archibald’s turn. It is through Archibald’s life that the house, the building I earlier today set out to researching.

Archibald Gascoigne was born in 1894/5 and baptised at Christ Church, Thornes on the 21st of March 1895.  In the census of 1911, the house finally gets a mention!  Fairfax, is now 60 years old and been married to Ada, his second wife for 20 years.  Fairfax has fathered eight children, of which seven have been with Ada.  In the house are 10 people – eight are Gascoigne’s, then there is Mary Ann Burney a 90 year old boarder, followed by Alice Binks, a 51 year old widow, who classes herself as a farmer – she has been married for 23 years and given birth to eight children, seven of whom are surviving for the census to include them. Did Alice know the family well as she was a visitor. Fairfax, in this census, is a Law Clerk, while his other children are employed as ‘Teacher of Domestic Subjects (night classes’, ‘French Polisher (apprentice), ‘Dairy Farm Assistant ‘, and Archibald who is an Office Boy for a local engineering works.  Home for the family and visitors is ‘Porto Bello House’ (sic.), Wakefield.

Portobello House via Wakefield Libraries

Portobello House was owned by J H Holdsworth, who according to a Tax Valuation, had a connection to Sandal Hall. Portobello House, covering 2 acres, 1 rod and 10 perches, had a Gross Annual Value of £17 10s and a Rateable Value of £14 15s. Mr Holdsworth was the owner of seven further properties listed below Portobello House.

A short piece in the Leeds Mercury of 20 October 1915 was the instigator, with its mention of Portobello House and the name of Fairfax Gascoigne – look where this has got me!

Leeds Mercury 20 October 1915

Archibald enlisted in Wakefield on the 29th of August, soon after the outbreak of war, having left his employment at Messrs. E Green and Sons, where he worked as an Engineers Draughtsman.   He joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, the KOYLI, serving as Private 14995 in the 7th Battalion.  The 7th Battalion was part of the New Armies, having been formed in Pontefract.  By May of 1915, they were on Salisbury Plain before being mobilised and landing at Boulogne-sur-Mere in July 1915, before heading to various engagements in the area around Fleurbaix, some 5km southwest of Armentieres, including further training and familiarising themselves with trenches. Archibald arrived in France on the 16th of July and probably like his fellow soldiers undertook further training along with normal duties.  It was while on guard on the night of the 13th of October 1915 that he was killed.

Rue-du-Bois CWGC

Archibald Gascoigne rests in Rue-du-Bois Cemetery 5km south-west of Armentieres, along with over 800 casualties of which only 455 are identified.  The Headstone Report for Archibald’s headstone has his regiment encircled in red ink, along with three others whose ‘headstones are not to be executed until further notice’. While the other headstones put ‘on hold’ have a sentiment at the base, Archibald’s is blank.  The other information on his headstone is quite minimal – having no age of death only his regimental information i.e. service number, rank and regiment and finally his date of death.

Upon enlistment, Archibald gave details of whom he wished to be his next of kin – he chose his mother, Ada.  Archibald’s service would have provided this information, of which there are 21 entries for the service number 14495, sadly, this his has not survived the ravages of WW2. It wherefore, the Register of Soldier’s Effects came up with the information, also giving details of how much money was owed to him from his time in service.  Ada was to receive in 1916 £4 17s 1d followed by a further £4 in 1919, she would also have received his three medals, The 1915 Star, The British and Victory Medals –  ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ as they came to be known.

Pte. A Gascoigne has an entry in De Ruvignys Roll of Honour, I bought the set many years ago and find it a fantastic resource.  Not every soldier has an entry but if you are lucky enough to be looking for someone who is remembered within the pages you could find the cherry on the cake!  Anyway, although Archibald has no picture, there is an extract of a letter from his Captain and Adjutant ‘Your son was killed by a trench mortar on the night of the 13 Oct. 1915, whilst on sentry duty.  His death is a matter of personal regret to myself, as he had on several occasions done map work for me, and had also done work for the Brigade Headquarters, with much credit to himself.  Apart from his qualifications, he has proved himself a good soldier with an exemplary character, and his death is a loss to the regiment.

Going back to Fairfax Gascoigne, he died on the 28th of April 1923, leaving, according to probate the following month £498 12s 8d to his widow Ada.  Ada died in 1935 in Worthing, Sussex.  Not only had she lost her youngest son Archibald, she also lost two other boys in the Great War, Peter Herbert Gascoingne in 1917 and Edward Fairfax Gascoigne who accidentally drown while on war service, near Alert Bay, Canada.  Looks like there could be a follow-up blog about Archibald’s siblings.

Portobello House via Wakefield Libraries

Wakefield Libraries have in their collection another photograph labelled ‘Portobello House’, where the house is in the background and a young man is sitting on a cart, could this be Archibald or one of his elder brothers?  The house, built in 1825 and demolished in 1956 was situated on the edge of Portobello Estate.







Wakefield Soldier

Wakefield Soldier

I am sorry to say that I have not put fingers to keyboard for a while now, so having come back from a few days in Poland I thought it was time for me to get my act together!

Where to start?  So many things I have written down ready to research.  Who will be next? Who will have lead an interesting life or left a paper trail for me to follow?

While having another cuppa I mooched around the newspapers uploaded to The British Newspaper Archive site I came across the picture of a lady.  The title of the article was short and to the point – well, really you can’t even call the piece an article, it is more of a question. But, with all questions, there is an answer on most occasions.

Leeds Mercury 2 Oct 1916 via British Newspaper Archive

The Leeds Mercury’s heading on Monday the 2nd of October 1916 is simply ‘Found in the Trenches’, followed by this picture.

The Leeds Mercury continued ‘The photograph seen above was picked up in the Balkans, nearly a year ago, by a Wakefield soldier now serving there.  He believes it to be a Yorkshire girl.  Do you recognise her?’

I wonder, now over 100 years later, did anyone contact the Leeds Mercury informing them to the identity of this young lady.

Do you know who she is?

Another Walk around St Michael’s Churchyard, East Ardsley

Another Walk around St Michael’s Churchyard, East Ardsley

While looking through online newspapers I found the following article interesting.

Who was this man mentioned in this short article?

The Yorkshire Evening Post of Monday 20th of March, 1916 tells:- ‘Soldier’s Funeral at East Ardsley. The burial, with full military honours, of Sapper Harry Hick, took place at East Ardsley Churchyard, on Saturday afternoon. Deceased, who died on Tuesday last, at Farnborough Camp, leaves a widow and two children. A firing party, under Sergeant-Major Spink composed of comrades in deceased’s company of the Royal Engineers, came from Aldershot, and a beautiful wreath was sent by the officers of the regiment.’

Sometimes curiosity overtakes me and the smallest amount of information can get the research juices going. I recently found a great deal about someone from just his name on a broken kerbstone, and believe me he had a wonderful and fascinating story to tell.

Sapper Harry Hick CWGC headstone C Sklinar 2014

What do we know so far about Sapper Hick? Well, he was a soldier, a Sapper, which meant he was in the Royal Artillery. He was married, and a father of two. Lived in the East Ardsley area or his family lived there. And, it seems he was a well respected by all ranks.

My first internet stop was the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) website. I chose this step first as to lessen the as there would only be one man named Harry Hick in a CWGC grave in St Michael’s Churchyard. From here I obtained his service number, company, and the names of his parents and wife’s names, plus his wife’s address at the time information was given to the CWGC. Not bad for just one search. My next step was to search SDWTGW (Soldiers who died in the Great War), this would hopefully give information as to where Harry was born, lived and enlisted and the type of casualty i.e. killed in action, died of wounds etc.,

Sapper Hicks, according to the SWDTGW was born in Lofthouse and enlisted in Wakefield – joining the Royal Engineers as Sapper 107187, serving in 229th Field Coy., (Company). Harry’s type of casualty was simply ‘Died’ ‘At Home’. Harry died in the U.K., therefore his place death on some documents would say ‘At Home’.

Leaving behind military information for a time, let me take you on a journey through the census and Parish Registers.

In 1901 Harry is a 14 year old young man employed as a labourer being born in Robin Hood. His parents were John William Hick and his wife Harriett Annie.nee Jarratt, whom he had married in the summer of 1875 in the Wakefield Registration District. John William was at the time 47 years old, born in Cross Flatts, Leeds, being employed as a Journeyman Blacksmith. Harriett Annie was a few years younger, aged 43, born in Thornton. Harry was the fourth child of seven, aged from the eldest aged 21 to the youngest aged five. His brothers and sisters were all born in Robin Hood except the last two who were born in Lofthouse and Lingwell Gate, Stanley.

It seems that when it came for Harry to marry his wife Annie McAlister Kennedy there was just a little ‘hitch’. Both families turned up at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Wakefield on the 18th of June 1910. Harry aged 23, of 5 Wolsley Terrace, East Ardsley, turned up. Annie, also attended – aged 24 living at 114 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds. She was the daughter of the late John Kennedy, a carpet weaver. Witnesses John Marshall and Edith Hick were also there. The entry was signed off by D. D. Waters, Authorised Person for the said Chapel. BUT! There always seems to be one of those, doesn’t there?

Primitive Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Wakefield via

A handwritten note in the space at the side of their entry in the Parish Register tells ‘ Owing to a misunderstanding a ceremony of marriage was performed as this entry made without the presence of an Authorised Person. The Parties were legally married on June Twenty Firth 1910 and their Marriage was recorded as Entry No 44. George Edwards, Authorised Person of said Chapel’. It looks like D. D. Waters was not as authorised as he thought he was!.

So, on the 25th the couple take their place again at the front of the church, all seems the same, except – Frederick Laughton and Gertrude Harriet Edwards were the new witnesses and George Edwards was the officiator. Did the couple have their wedding breakfast on the 18th as the family were witnesses at the chapel, and the 25th was just a formality with the witnesses being needed just for legality.

By the census of 1911 24 year old Harry and 25 year old Annie had been married for under one year, with no children. Harry was a joiner working on his own account. His place of birth still being Robin Hood. Annie’s entry reads ‘NB, Ayrshire, Kilmarnock’. As she was not born in England or Wales, ‘(Resident)’ was entered in parenthesis. Home for the newlyweds at this time was Jeffrey View, East Ardsley, a 2 roomed terrace house.

From the newspaper entry, we already know that the young couple had two children. In the September ¼ of 1911, John Hick was registered, followed by Annie registered in the June ¼ of 1915. By the time of Annie’s birth the Great War had been going on for a while now, and it hadn’t been over by Christmas.

It’s now time to return to military records, some 30+ pages of them. Some are duplicate, some have been damaged by water and fire. Nevertheless, they are interesting and complete the life of Sapper Harry Hicks.

On the 8th of November 1915, Harry Attested. He gave his address as 27 Newton Hill, Wakefield, and his age as 29 years 3 months. The next page gives Harry’s height as 5′ 6”. He has a chest fully expanded of 35”, weighing 114lbs. His physical development is classed as good.. His date of marriage is confirmed as the 25th of June 1910, not the original date of the 18th when all the family turned up in Market Street. His two children’s date of birth is given – John’s being 7th of August 1911 in Wakefield and Annie being born on the 12th of March 1915 in East Ardsley.

Harry was posted to Aldershot. On the 10th of March 1916 he was admitted to hospital with Cerebrospurial fever (sic). A doctor’s note tells ‘An acute attack of cereb** spinal fever, with especially marked *** re-infection………’.Harry died on the 15th of March 1916 – just a few day after his daughter Annie’s first birthday. He was in the Isolation Hospital, Aldershot.

Letters and notes would now go too and fro from the MOD to Mrs. Hick. The first of which was to informer her of her husband’s untimely death, followed shortly a note asking if she wished to claim her husband’s body and where she wanted him to ‘be placed at rest’. Harry had died in 1 916 yet the paperwork his death generated was still continuing until 1919.

Annie M Hick of 27 Newton Hill, Leeds Road, Wakefield was in November 1916 receiving 17/6 Separation Allowance and 3/6 Allotment of pay. Annie also received a box of her husband’s belongings which were despatched in January 1917. One damaged document from 229th Field Company Commander informs that some of Harry’s personal effects had not been received by Annie, she had written to the Army asking if these items could be found.

1.2.17 6 Jeffrey View, East Ardsley, Wakefield. Captain Hopkins. Sir, I think you for sending watch etc., belonging to Sapper Hick, 107187, R.E. But was disappointed to find most of his things had not come but I suppose they will have been dispersed with his kit which would be at Blackdown, if any more comes to your office, I shall be willing to pay postage for same, I can mention most things he had. Vis, Steel shaving mirror, Black S. mounted Stick (silver mounted), Leather Belt, New Brush, Fountain Pen, about 6 Handkerchiefs, Waistcoat (dark blue), Letters and photos & etc., will be destroyed I expect, thanking you again for your kindness in attending to my letters to you. I Am Yours Truly, Mrs. A Hick.

Letter from Mrs Hick asking about her husband’s effects via

An official memo was generated but the answer was not positive. It was presumed that some of his effects, his letters and photo’s may have been destroyed by the Isolation Hospital staff, Aldershot.

Harry’s burial is entered in the registers for St Michaels, East Ardsley on the 18th of March 1916. The fourth entry above Harry’s is the entry for Harriet Annie Hick of Wolsley Terrace, who was buried dated 57 on the 1st of March. Not only had John William Hick lost his wife, the same month he lost one of his children.

Sapper Hick, seems to have served his war ‘at home’. And according to his recruiter, Harry seems to have been ‘A good all rounder’.

Individual documents give small insights into a life. However, when you put multiple documents together how much more can they tell you about one person’s life.


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.