Gillingham Soldiers of WW1 - PART 1 (Bailey - Kinnaird)
Updated: Jul 25
Soldiers of World War One
David Lloyd, Alan Whiffen and Lynda Grange are researching the lives of soldiers with Gillingham connections. Some moved away from home and signed up elsewhere; others had subsequent links to Gillingham or the Dorset regiments. Some returned home and many didn't.
If you can add any information or provide photographs of the following soldiers then please email David, Alan or Lynda at email@example.com
If you have any WW1 memorabilia for possible display in the Museum please email Penny Peat at firstname.lastname@example.org
The alphabetical list below is of those soldiers with Gillingham connections who gave their lives in WW1. The Gillingham War Memorial is engraved 'In memory of 85 officers, non-commissioned officers and men from this parish who made the supreme sacrifice'.
There are 82 names on the 'Unveiling List', 89 names on the memorial plaques and 93 names in the Memorial Book held in St. Mary's Church.
The list below is not complete - entries will be added or updated when research has been completed.
New entries March 2021 - Jesse Biss (amendment), E Cabell, C E Coombs, J C Cowell, W B Davis, H A Doddington, C Down, W.O Down, P N Flower, T Flower, B Hiscock, AH Hooper, M N Kennard, A S King, FJ Kinnaird
New entries April 2021 - W M Crocker, Sylvester H Dukes, L V Dunning, G H Edwards, E A Gower, A P Gray, Henwood,
BAILEY Wilfred Victor
Z/265 Able Seaman Wilfred Victor Bailey of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve died of enteric fever on 30th June 1915 aboard the Hospital ship 'Dunluce Castle' at Mudros in Greece.
Wilfred was born on 9th September 1890 at Leamington, Warwickshire to parents Arthur and Minnie Bailey. In 1901 Wilfred was living in Newbury Street, Gillingham with his parents and brother Bertram (born 1894) and sister Florence (born 1898). Wilfred became a journalist based in London and on 22 May 1913 aged 22 he departed London aboard the 'Ionian' for Montreal, Canada.
By 1914 he was back in London at 22 Anholt Road, Battersea and on his 23rd birthday he enlisted in Nelson Battalion 'B' Company of the Royal Navy Volunteer
At the time of his loss his family were living at 5 Octave Terrace, Queen Street, Gillingham (later at 5 Alcester Villas, Shaftesbury).
Because of its position, the island of Lemnos played an important part in the campaigns against Turkey during the First World War. It was occupied by a force of marines on 23 February 1915 in preparation for the military attack on Gallipoli, and Mudros became a considerable Allied camp.
Wilfred is buried in the East Mudros Cemetery on the Greek island of Lemnos - his Commonwealth War Graves memorial reference is I.F.105 but his grave is not recorded. He is also remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial.
AW & DJL
Entry posted 17 June 2020
10726 Corporal Alfred Bealing of the 6th (Service) Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment died from his wounds in Awoingt, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France on 22 October 1918. He was 28 years old.
Alfred was born in early 1890 at Gillingham, Dorset to parents Thomas and Eliza Bealing (née Ridout). In 1911 he was living in Lydfords Lane, Wyke (two doors away from The Buffalo Inn) with his parents and siblings George (born 1864) and Elsie(born 1898).
Alfred enlisted at Gillingham on 8 September 1914. His occupation was gardener. He was 116 lbs, 5 feet 5 inches tall with black hair and grey eyes. He joined the 6th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment. On 13 July 1915 he embarked with the Regiment to Boulogne, France. In the spring of 1916 the 6th Dorsets saw action at the Bluff, south east of Ypres on the Comines Canal, before moving south to the Somme. Here they fought in the Battle of Albert, in which the Division captured Fricourt, and in the battle at Delville Wood. In 1917 the 6th Dorsets moved to Arras and saw action in the First and second Battles of the Scarpe and the capture of Rouen. In late summer they returned to Flanders and fought in The First and Second Battles of Passchendaele. In 1918 the 6th Dorsets fought in the Battle of St Quentin, Bapaume, Amiens, Albert, Havrincourt, Epehy and Cambrai. It was in the action to take the village of Awoingt that Alfred was shot in the thigh. He was taken to a Clearing Station and died there from his wounds on 22 October 1918. THe war cost 1000 lives of the 6th Dorsets, half of those in 1918.
He is remembered at the Awoingt British Cemetery - grave Ref: 1.B.7 and at the Gillingham War Memorial.
Entry posted 17 June 2020
M/334290 Private James Bealing of 976th M.T. Coy Army Service Corps died 19 July 1918 aged 33 (some records show 36) in Mesopotamia.
James was born at Milton-on-Stour in 1885 to parents John and Lydia (née Golding). The census of both 1891 and 1901 confirm him living at Milton-on-Stour. In 1892 his brother William was born. James married Ethel May Gregory on 1 August 1914 at Street, Somerset. They lived at 9 Wilfred Terrace, Street.
He enlisted at Weston-Super-Mare and served with the Army Service Corps.
He is remembered on both the Gillingham and Milton-on-Stour War Memorials and at the Tehran War Cemetery, Iran Ref. V.D.5
Entry posted 17 June 2020
7559 Private Saba Bealing of the 1st Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry was killed in action on 9 September 1914 aged 29.
Saba was baptised at Gillingham's St Mary's Church on 17 January 1886 and confirmed there on 1st September 1901. His parents were Tom and Margaret Bealing (née Mangan) who lived at Rose Cottage, Wavering Lane, Gillingham. Saba was probably named after his grandfather Seba Bealing a shepherd on Bleet Farm. (Seba was a biblical name). Saba, also known as Saba Tom had 5 siblings Elizabeth Kate b.1884, George b.1888, Gertrude Ellen b.1891, Elsie b.1893 and Frederick John b.1896.
Saba had enlisted at Stock Hill, Gillingham, probably in 1903. He disembarked in France on 20 August 1914 serving with the Expeditionary Force. He was killed in action on 9th September 1914. A report that was featured in the Western Daily Press of 19 October and some national papers mentioned that on the day following the official notice that Private S T Bealing, a reservist of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, had been killed, the following letter was received at his home -"Dear Mother, and all -Just a line to say that I died like a soldier. Love to all. Hope to meet you in Heaven".
He is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at La Ferte-sous-Jourre, Dept. de Seine et Marne where he is buried.
Entry posted 18 June 2020
766213 Private Jack Beck of the 28th Battalion, London Regiment (Artists' Rifles) died on 9 January 1918 aged 18.
Jack was born 15 April 1899 in Muttra, India to parents Alfred Dawson (an army officer) and Elizabeth Sarah Beck.
When they moved to Gillingham Jack attended Miss Leatherdale's private prep school (just a few doors away from where they were living at 3 Harwood Cottages, Newbury). In September 1911 Jack attended the Grammar School until July 1916.
Jack's Attestation to join military service was dated 10 February 1917 and he was assigned to the London Regiment in the Reserve. Jack was employed on 'home service' but he became unwell and was sent to Weymouth Military Hospital. He died on 9 January 1918 from cerebro-spinal fever, an acute infectious disease.
He is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at the Weymouth Cemetery - grave ref. B. "C" 2160.
Entry posted 19 June 2020
15507 Lance Corporal Jesse Biss of the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action in Mesopotamia on 25 March 1917.
Jesse was born at Henstridge, Somerset in 1878 to parents William and Ellen Biss.
In February 1901 Jesse enlisted at Weymouth for a year with the Dorset Imperial Yeomanry. His attestation form reveals that he had served previously with the 3rd Dorset Militia. He was 5ft 3ins, 136 lbs, brown eyes and had a bust of a woman tattooed on his right forearm. He was discharged on 9 August 1902 having served in the South Africa Campaign 1901-1902. He was a trooper with 39th Company, 10th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. He received the South African war medal for Transvaal and Cape Colony with clasps. His conduct was "very good." In late 1902 he married Dora Finn and together they had seven children two of whom died at birth. They were living in Peacemarsh in 1905. Turners Lane in 1911 and Peacemarsh Terrace in 1914.
The surviving children were Gwendoline Mira (b1905), Ivy Cicely Dora (b1907), Jesse (b1910), Ronald James (b1913) and Rose Lillian (b1915).
Jesse enlisted in WW1 but details are not known. Whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment he was killed in action at Jebel Hamrin in Mesopotamia on 25 March 1917. He was awarded the Victory and British medals.
He is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial, Sherborne Abbey QODY Memorial and at the Basra Memorial, Iraq.
DJL & LG
Posted 21 June 2020 updated 7 March 2021 ...............................................
BRACHER Frederick William
14713 Lance Corporal Frederick William Bracher of the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action on 19 September 1915.
Frederick was born in Gillingham in 1886 to Frederick John and Sarah Stockdill Bracher (nee Ridout). The 1891 Census records the family living at Newbury, Gillingham with his father described as a cabinet maker. Next door lived Edward Bracher, builder, and his family. Frederick’s family are living at Wincanton at the time of the 1901 census and father is recorded as a manager of a furnishing business. In the 1911 Census, Frederick is a patient at the Royal Navy Hospital. Haslar, Alverstoke. He is single and a police constable with the Met.
His military service included serving with The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry with service no.19955. He went to France on 6 May 1915 and died on 19 September at the Somme. He was awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and 1915 Star.
He is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial and is buried at the Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt, Picardie, France.
Entry posted 14 February 2015
BRACHER William George
30792 Private William George Bracher of the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment died 3 September 1917 aged 29.
William was the son of John and Sarah Bracher. William was born at Henstridge in 1888. By the 1901 Census William was living at Forest Deer, Gillingham with his parents and siblings Harold Percy (b1889), Wesley (b1891), and Annie Elizabeth (b1895). William married Alice Mary Tucker in 1909 . The 1911 Census shows William, an auxiliary rural postman, and Alice living at East Stour with their newly born son William John Wesley.
He enlisted at Dorchester and served as Private 27584 in the 1st Dorsets before being transferred to 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment with service number 30792. He died on 3 September and is remembered at the Gillingham War Memorial and the Lancashire Cottage Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium where he is buried - memorial ref. II.E.10.
Entry posted 19 June 2020
BURNELL Robert Leslie
230171 Sergeant Robert Leslie Burnell, DCM, of 1st/1st Dorset Yeomanry (Queen’s Own) died on Sunday 9 June 1918.
Robert Leslie Grove Burnell was born in 1889 at Cannington, Somerset to Jesse Robert and Alice Burnell. Jesse was a farmer at Cannington but later became the landlord of The Phoenix Hotel, Gillingham until has death in September 1906, aged 42. Robert was confirmed in St.Mary’s Parish church in November 1904. After Jesse’s death, Alice continued at The Phoenix with Robert or Leslie, as he was better known. Leslie lived at The Phoenix in a one roomed, first floor furnished flat at a weekly rent of 7/6d (according to the 1911 Electoral register). His siblings were Raymond William (b1890),chauffeur at the Hotel in 1911, Sidney (b1892), Jeffery (b1906) and Marjorie Mary (b1894). In 1913 Leslie married Louisa Hanly at Paddington. Louisa was the daughter of Gillingham doctor Thomas Hanly. Twin sons were born in 1916, Robert Leslie and Thomas Leslie.
In 1915 the 3/1st Dorset Yeomanry was formed and Burnell probably joined them and later went to Ireland. He left Ireland in 1917with other Dorset Yeomanry bound for Alexandria, Egypt aboard HMT Willochra and joined the 1/1st QODY, commencing his active service. In the action of El Mughar, Palestine the QODY together with other infantry units successfully drove off Turkish forces from high ground.
Records of the Dorset Yeomanry show the following entry:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when acting as Brigade galloper. He [Burnell] carried messages on several occasions under heavy fire, and twice established communications with his Regiment, over very difficult ground, when all other means failed. On one occasion he passed through a party of the enemy while carrying an urgent message. He set a magnificent example of courage and initiative.” He received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Burnell was killed on 9 June 1918 together with Pte Darter, Trumpeter Routledge and Lt Mason when Mason led a mounted charge. Burnell's medals are on display at The Keep Museum, Dorchester.
He is commemorated at the Gillingham War Memorial and also at grave N.90 at the CWGC Jerusalem War cemetery, Israel.
Left: Burnell is thought to be on the left.
Right: Burnell's twin boys born 1916
Photos courtesy of Jane Clements whose grandfather was a friend of Burnell.
Posted 21 June 2020
17864 Private Edwin Cabell of 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action in Belgium on 15 August 1917.
Edwin Cabell was born at Holwell, Dorset in 1880. He was the son of George Babell a foreman at the brick works and Annie Cabell and the family lived at Packers Hill, Holwell. In 1901 Edwin was also employed at the brick and tile works.
Edwin married Alice Susan Pound at Weymouth in 1902. Alice was the daughter of a prison warder and in 1891 was living on Portland but by 1901 was living in Holwell and was a school mistress.
Edwin and Alice’s son Reginald was born on 14 March 1902 at Portland and their son Cyril was born on 12 September 1910 at Holwell.
In 1911 the family were living at Holwell and Edwin was employed as a brick and tile maker.
Edwin enlisted in the army at Gillingham but neither the date of the family’s move to Gillingham nor the date of his enlistment is known. It is likely that he was working at Gillingham Brickworks. His son Reginald was confirmed at St Mary’s Church, Gillingham in June 1917.
Edwin served as a Private in 5th Dorsetshire Battalion and was killed in an attack on German lines at Langemark, north of Ypres in Belgium on 15 August 1917. His death was reported in the Western Gazette of 7 September 1917.
He is buried at plot 4 row D in Artillery Wood cemetery in the West Vlaanderen area of Belgium and is remembered on Gillingham War Memorial.
Army pension records show that Alice and her two sons were living at New Road, Gillingham and she received a pension of £1 2s 11d but part of that pension was withheld because in October 1917 her elder son Reginald aged 15 joined the Royal Navy as a Boy II. Reginald served in the Royal Navy until October 1945 reaching the rank of Petty Officer.
Alice returned to Portland and died there on 6 March 1940.
Entry posted 24 March 2021
CARTER Edwin James Gordon
24047 Private Edwin James Gordon Carter of the 1st Battalion the Devonshire Regiment died 9 May 1917.
He was born in Brighton Sussex in 1883 to parents John and Elizabeth Carter.
ln the 1891 census he was living with his grandparents at Berwick St.James, Wiltshire. ln the 1901 Census, he was a boarder in Milford, Salisbury, Wiltshire living with William and Elizabeth Hallett, working as a draper's porter aged 16 years. On the 1911 census he is in Court Street, Tisbury, Wiltshire a boarder with Thomas and Arundell Hull working as a domestic chauffeur.
He later obtained a job as chauffeur for the Anstruther family of Knapp House, Wyke, Gillingham. (see left)
Edwin married Alice May Hull (daughter of Thomas and Arundell) in October 1915 and lived in Knapp Cottage where Winifred Joyce was born in 1916.
Edwin enlisted at Gillingham, Dorset on the 31 May 1916 with the Devonshire Regiment. He was killed in action at the battle of Fresnoy-en- Gohelle in north eastern France. ln records of the battle it states: ‘The 1st Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment on the 8/9 May 1917 fought on when battalions to their left and right were late in the attack.’
Starting on 28 April 1917 the village Fresnoy was virtually destroyed. A quote from Ernst Junger, who wrote Storm of Steel, recalled the barrage on the village, "Fresnoy was one towering fountain of earth after another. Each second seemed to want to outdo the last. As if by some magical power, one house after another subsided into the earth, walls broke, gables fell, and bare sets of beams and joists were sent flying through the air, cutting down the roofs of other houses. Clouds of splinters danced over whitish wraiths of steam. Eyes and ears utterly compelled by this devastation."
A few weeks later on the 5 May the Canadians captured the village. It was lost however when ferocious German attacks were launched on 7 May and pushed the Canadians and British back.
Edwin died on 9 May 1917 and is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial and at the Arras War Memorial at Faubourg-D'Amiens, Arras, France.
AW & DJL with thanks to Penny Carey (Winifred's granddaughter) for the photographs
Entry posted 15 February 2015 amended 22 June 2020
CHURCHILL Lionel George
2215 Cpl. Lionel George Churchill served with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Battalion of the Household Cavalry & Cavalry of the Line Regiment. He died on 24 August 1915 from wounds received at Gallipoli.
Lionel was born in Gillingham in 1882, son of Mark and Elizabeth (nee Lush. He had a sister Ethel born 1882. His father is recorded in the 1881 census as a Foreman dairyman (Salisbury, Semley and Gillingham Dairy) and in 1891, 1901 & 1911 as the Manager of Gillingham Dairy in Station Road. When Lionel died in 1915 his parents were living at Kirby House, Station Road, Semley, Wiltshire.
According to the 1901 census, Lionel was an outfitters assistant. Sometime after this Lionel enlisted to join in the South African 2nd Boer War. He served with the Cape Mounted Riflemen and received a South Africa Medal with clasp.
In the 1911 census, Lionel is a shop assistant (hosier) living in Eastgate Street, Gloucester.
Lionel enlisted at Gloucester on 20 August 1914 and joined the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars. In April 1915 the Hussars were ordered to overseas service but instead of France, they were sent to Gallipoli, reaching Alexandria, Egypt on 21 April. On 11 August 1915 orders came to proceed to Gallipoli but without their horses. Landing at Suvla Bay a week later they were concentrated on Chocolate Hill and the Yeomanry acted as infantry. Lionel was wounded, probably on 21 August and he was transferred to the hospital ship 'HMT Alaunia' where he died from his wounds - it is likely that he was buried at sea.
The Three Shires Advertiser for 18 September 1915 contained the following report:
TWO GILLINGHAM HEROES KILLED “There was general grief in the town when it became known that as a result of the terrible battle for Hill 70 in the Gallipoli Peninsula two highly respected Gillingham young men had lost their lives, viz Mr Lionel Churchill, only son of Mr and Mrs Mark Churchill, who was attached to the Gloucester Hussars and who died of wounds received in that engagement; and Mr Bertie Hiscock of Bay, Gillingham, who was attached to the Queen’s Own Dorset regiment and who died of wounds in the same engagement. Mr Churchill had been for some time in a situation at Lincoln. Both young men volunteered at the outbreak of the war and the news of their death cast quite a gloom over the town.”
He is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey (panel XIII) He is also remembered on the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry War Memorial, College Green Gloucester, Semley War Memorial, Roll of Honour in St Leonard's Church, Semley, Baptist Chapel Plaque, Semley, Salisbury Cathedral Book of Remembrance and the Gillingham War Memorial.
DJL (with thanks to Jan Oliver, Online Parish Clerk for Semley, Sedgehill and Tisbury who supplied additional information)
Entry posted 11 January 2015 and updated 23 June 2020
COOMBS, Charles Edwin
26727 Private Charles Edwin Coombs of 2nd Battalion Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire) Regiment was killed in Belgium on 28 April 1918.
Charles was born at Buckland Newton, Dorset in 1897 the son of Henry John and Frances Louisa Coombs. Charles’ mother died in 1902 at North Wooton and his father married widow Ellen Augusta Miller in 1904 at Henstridge.
On 17 October 1907 Charles and his younger brother Arthur were enrolled at Yarlington School, Somerset.
In 1911 Charles was living at Shotwell, Yarlington, Somerset with his father, step-mother and three brothers – William G 20, Edgar H 14 and Arthur S 11 and he was employed as an agricultural labourer.
Charles originally joined the Dorset Regiment and at that time was living in Gillingham.
In April 1918 the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment was re-formed after losing over 600 men the previous month and was fighting near Ypres. Charles died on 28th April 1918.
In 1920 his father Henry and step-mother Ellen were living at Redmoor Cottages, Gillingham and in 1922 moved to 19 Addison Terrace, Gillingham. His father Henry died in 1924 at Gillingham.
Charles is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial panel 119 – 120 at Zonnebeke, Belgium and on Gillingham War Memorial.
Entry posted 24 March 2021
COWARD Robert Sgt
3/7375 Sergeant Robert Coward of the 1st Battalion the Dorsetshire Regiment died 24th April 1915.
Robert was born in Gillingham, Dorset and baptised on 1st April 1883, the son of Henry and Anna Sarah Coward. He was the eleventh child of thirteen.
ln the 1891 Census Robert aged 8 is living at 3, Peacemarsh Terrace, Gillingham with the family consisting of his mother, five brothers and a sister.
Robert joined the Dorsetshire Regiment at Gillingham in December 1899 serving for 8 years (it is likely that he saw service in India) and then 4 years as a reservist.
The 1911 Census shows Robert at 52 Queen's Gardens, West Paddington where he was employed as a 'man servant'. He is recorded however as Howard. In May, Robert Howard married Nellie Cunnington. Whether Nellie knew of his change of name, we shall never know. Perhaps he hoped to keep it a secret from her, but it all changed because of the Great War.
He then attested for the Dorsetshire Regiment in Marylebone, Middlesex on the 10th August 1914 with his trade listed as a Butler. The Attestation form is completed in the name of Coward but the signature looks as though it is Howard changed to Coward. Also page 2 is headed Howard.His personal details were given as height 5 feet 6.5 inches, weight 140 pounds, hazel eyes and brown hair with a tattoo on his left forearm.
He was posted to Wyke Regis, Dorset 19th August 1914, made up to a Lance Corporal 30th August 1914, Corporal 12th September 1914 and a Sergeant 13th October 1914. He was posted on Active Service on 25th March 1915 joining the Battalion on 29th March 1915. Robert was killed in action with the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) in Flanders.
The Second Battle of Ypres 1915 comprised of four battles in the northern sector of the Ypres salient. The first of these began on the 22nd April 1915 as a surprise attack by the German Army on the French sector of the allied front. This attack witnessed the first use of a new German weapon on the Western Front: a cloud of poisonous gas, its deadly effect was carried on a gentle breeze towards French troops and as a result its devastating effect on the Front Line.
His widow Nellie Howard of 2, Herbert View, Belmont Road, Westgate on Sea, Kent, having one child (Robert Stanley Howard born November 1914), received his medals, 1914-15 Star, on 22nd May 1920 and the British War and Victory Medals on 1st June 1921. She continued to live at Belmont Road until the 1920s but what happened to her and her son afterwards is not known.
Robert's grave is at Woods Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. Plot I.B.18
Robert is remembered at Westgate-on-Sea, as R Howard, on the Memorial tablet in St.Saviour's Church and the British Legion Memorial in Sea Road. At the Gillingham War Memorial he is R Coward.
AW and DJL. With thanks to Dr Dawn Crouch of Westgate-on-Sea for additional information.
Entry posted 15 February 2015 and amended 23 June 2020
COWELL, Jocelyn Gore
2nd Lieutenant Jocelyn Gore Cowell of London Regiment Royal Fusiliers, and attached to Royal Flying Corps, killed whilst flying on 28 January 1918 at Nether Wallop, Hampshire
Jocelyn Cowell was born 18 March 1899 at Exmouth, Devon. His parents were Edward JE Cowell an army officer and Eliza Nita Cowell.
In 1901 Jocelyn was living at The Moorings, Littleham, Exmouth along with his mother, baby sister Betty Vera born 1900 and four female servants. His father was at that time serving in the army in South Africa. By 1911 he was a boarder at Doon House a prep school at Westgate on Sea, Kent whilst his parents were living at Pierston, Milton on Stour.
At the age of 17 he obtained his Aviator’s Certificate No. 3706 from Royal Aero Club having taken his test on a Hall Biplane at Hall Flying School, Hendon on 18 October 1916. His address was shown as The Kendalls, Gillingham.
In 1917 he enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers, his father’s regiment, and graduated from the Royal Military College on 13 September 1917 as a 2nd Lieutenant. Probably because he already held an Aviator’s Certificate he was attached to the Royal Flying Corps which at that time was the air arm of the army. His war medal record states that he didn’t serve outside the UK and at the time of his death was based at Training Depot 3 at Lopcombe Corner Aerodrome near Nether Wallop, Hampshire. Jocelyn Cowell died aged 18 on 28 January 1918 as the result of a flying accident, the cause of the accident isn’t known.
Jocelyn Cowell was buried on 1 February 1918 at St Simon & St Jude Church, Milton on Stour.
He is remembered on War Memorials at Milton and Gillingham and also on a tablet inside Milton Church (as above).
Entry posted 24 March 2021
CROCKER William Mark
24511 Private William Mark Crocker 5th Dorsetshire Battalion was killed in action in Belgium on 4 October 1917.
William was born in 1897 at Bowerchalke, Wiltshire, the eldest son of Walter and Kate Crocker.
In 1901 the family were living at Farmhouse, Milton and Walter was a horse dealer with a stable. William had a younger brother Walter Charles.
By 1911 William’s parents and younger brothers Walter Charles, Albert and Emmanuel were living at his grandfather’s farm at Eccliffe, Gillingham. However, William age 14 was living with his uncle and aunt at Pope’s House, Milborne Wick, Sherborne. His uncle was a dairyman and William was employed as a dairy assistant.
In January 1916 William aged 19 enlisted at Sherborne in the Dorsetshire Regiment. He served in D Company of 5th Battalion. In July 1916 the battalion went to France and moved to the Somme in September 1916 where two thirds of the battalion were killed or wounded. More men were lost at Beaucourt during the freezing winter of 1916/17. They saw action in May and June 1917 at Messines and lost only a small number of men in an attack near Ypres in August. William was one of over 60 men killed in the attack on Poelcapelle in the closing stages of the Third Battle of Ypres known as Passchendaele.
William is remembered on Gillingham War Memorial and at West Vlaanderen, Belgium on Panel 92A of Tyne Cot Memorial which commemorates almost 35,000 men.
William’s brother Walter Charles Crocker also served with 5th Dorsetshire Battalion and survived the war.
Entry posted 9 April 2021
CROSS Reginald Cross
Lieutenant Reginald Carlton Cross, Queen's Own Dorset Yeomanry, attached to the South Lancashire Regiment, died on 7th June aged 26.
He was the second son of Carlton and Emily Cross. Carlton Cross was born (1860) into a dynasty of cotton manufacturers in Bolton Lancashire and moved to Wyke Hall, Gillingham in 1905. The 1911 census for Gillingham records Reginald as an ‘army student’. He was educated at Malvern College and Clare College, Cambridge. He went to British Columbia in 1912 and settled at Vaseau Lake, Okanagan Falls to become a fruit farmer.
In October 1914 Reginald returned to England and enlisted in the recently mobilised Lord Strathcona’s Horse as a trooper at Salisbury Plain on October 28 and went to France with the regiment on May 4, 1915. This was a Canadian mounted unit which had been formed at the time of the Boer War. Reginald was with the BEF in France and Flanders between May and November 1915, sometimes serving dismounted as infantry, when he returned to England and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 2/1st Queen’s Own Dorset Yeomanry. The Yeomanry went to France in July 1916 and spent five months as a cyclist unit. In November they acquired horses and were mounted again. In 1917 they reverted to the use of cycles and Reginald became a brigade scouting officer.
On June 1 1917 Reginald was promoted to full Lieutenant and in October was attached to the 2/4th South Lancashire Regiment (172 Brigade in 57th Division) returning to France on November 2 and went to join them at the front. Reginald was killed in action near Arras on June 7, 1918.
"An officer wrote to his family – Your son was one of the best sportsman I have met and we all miss his cheery personality sadly. You will be proud to know that he met his fate in a most gallant manner and he died in the act of saving his wounded men. His death was instantaneous, a bullet through the temple in the very act of dragging a badly wounded man into safety. He knew the risk he was running, and he died a very gallant gentleman. He actually performed one of the bravest acts in this battalion’s history and only cruel bad luck spoilt a glorious enterprise. His men are quite heartbroken and one badly wounded man, whom your son carried into safety, said, while being dressed in the First Aid Post, “I know I’m going to die. I am glad I went with him and now I shall go with him.” He died soon after.” Another Officer wrote – It is satisfactory to know that he lost his life so gallantly, but he is one who cannot easily be replaced as he was a really brave man, always keen and happy to take on a dangerous enterprise. It is a regret to me that he should have lost his life before gaining his Military Cross, which he would have been certain to get shortly."
Reginald was laid to rest in the British Cemetery at Couin, near Arras, France. He is remembered on the Gillingham War Memorial.
However, his parents decided that their son should be commemorated in Gillingham’s Parish Church. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd was given in memory of Lieut. Reginald Carlton Cross and was dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury on January 23, 1922. Let into the South wall under a sculptured panel is the actual wooden cross which was originally placed on Lieut.Cross’s grave in France.
Ethel Freame recorded in her diary for February 1, 1922 – “We lunched at Wyke and met Mrs Lindon Bell who was very pleasant – so were ‘Carly’ and Mrs Cross, who seemed pleased at our admiration. of the chapel they have built on to the church in honour of their son Reggie. It really is quite nice we went to inspect it one day last week. The carving is quite good.”
Below: The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, St.Mary's Church, Gillingham.
Entry posted 27 March 2021
DAVIS, William Bert
165598 Corporal William Bert Davis of 101st (Buckingham & Berkshire) Battalion Machine Gun Corps died in action on 29 August 1918 in France.
William Bert Davis was born in 1885 in Gillingham. He was the son of John Henry and Mary Ann Davis.
In 1891 William age 6 was living in Gas House Lane, Gillingham along with his parents and older siblings Katherine, Lillian, Lionel and Isabel. His father was an assistant at the bacon factory. By 1901 William’s parents had moved to Cemetery Road, Gilllingham and his father John had a grocery business there. John H Davis died on 12 July 1907 but Mary Ann still lived in Cemetery Road in 1911.
In 1901 William Bert Davis was living at Mere and he was a draper’s apprentice to John Walton who was a grocer and draper in The Square at Mere. By 1911 William had moved to London and was working at Harvey Nichols department store in Knightsbridge as a shop assistant. He was living along with 133 other staff who all worked at the store.
William married May Ella Walls in 1913 at Brentford, Middlesex. They didn’t have any children.
William enlisted in the army at Maida Vale initially joining the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars and serving with them in Egypt in 1915. In 1918 the Hussars merged with the Berkshire Yeomanry to form C Battalion the Machine Gun Corps and in June 1918 the Battalion moved to France. Their transport SS Leasowe Castle was torpedoed on 26/27 May off Alexandria, Egypt as it headed for Marseilles. Around 100 men were lost.
In August 1918 the battalion was re-numbered 101st Battalion Machine Gun Corps and moved to the front line. William Bert Davis was killed on 29 August 1918.
William is remembered on panel 10 of the Vis- en- Artois memorial south east of Arras and on Gillingham War Memorial.
William’s widow May Ella was living in Knightsbridge, London at the time of his death. She re-married to widower James Hales Mitchiner in Kensington in 1923 and they lived in Paddington and Cookham, Berkshire. In 1939 May and James were living in Aberarth, Cardigan. James was a civil servant and May Ella was a police constable serving with Cardigan constabulary. May died in 1971.
Entry posted 24 March 2021
DODDINGTON, Henry Arthur
16062 Sergeant Henry Arthur Doddington 6th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment was killed in action in France 27 August 1918.
Henry Arthur Doddington was born in Mere, Wiltshire on 8 October 1892. His parents were Hugh Edward Doddington, a mason, and Elizabeth Doddington.
On 4 January 1902 Henry was baptised at St Michael’s Church, Mere along with his older siblings Martin John born 18 November 1888 and Lyndia Jane born 10 November 1890.
Henry Arthur had two more older brothers, Hugh Edward born in 1885 and William born in 1887. He also had a younger brother Reginald born in 1900 and a younger sister Fanny born in 1902.
In 1901 the family lived at North Road, Mere and Henry Arthur’s grandmother Maria Doddington lived in the next house but one. The family were still living at North Road, Mere in 1911 and by that time Henry Arthur was employed as a general labourer.
Henry enlisted in Dorsetshire Regiment at Gillingham. After the war he was awarded the British and Victory medals but not the 1914-15 Star so probably enlisted after 1915.
On 4 February 1918 Henry Arthur married Sarah Tucker at St Mary’s Church, Gillingham. Sarah was the daughter of Phillip and Sarah Tucker and was baptised at St Mary the Virgin, Gillingham on 6 December 1891. In 1911 Sarah was living at Elm View Terrace, Bay, Gillingham with her widowed grandmother Martha, her aunt Maria and her brother Arthur. Sarah worked at home and was employed as a machinist making leather gloves.
In 1918 the 6th Battalion Dorsetshire regiment fought battles at St Quentin, Bapaume, Amiens, Albert, Havrincourt, Epehy and Cambrai before pursuing the German army to the Selle. The Battalion lost around 1000 men, more than the strength of the battalion. Nearly half of these losses occurred in 1918 with exceptionally high losses in the last three months of the war.
Henry Arthur was killed in action on 27 August 1918 when 6th Battalion Dorsetshires were re-taking the village of Flers during the battle of Albert. He is buried at Bulls Road Cemetery, Flers, Somme but is one of 296 men whose graves are unidentified.
Henry is remembered on Gillingham War Memorial.
At the time of Henry Arthur’s death his wife Sarah was living still living at Elm View Terrace, Gillingham. In December 1918 Sarah received Henry’s army pay of £3 5s and 3d. and a grant of £5. In March 1919 she received a war gratuity of £16 and a weekly pension of 16s 3d. Sarah later moved to 4 Balmoral Road, Victoria Park, Andover and was still living there in 1939. She never married again and died at Andover in 1979.
Entry posted 24 March 2021
9532 Cpl. Charles Down of the 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment died on 26 September 1916 aged 21.
Charles was born in 1895 and baptised at St. Mary’s Church on 17 January 1896. His parents were William and Ellen Down.
The 1901 Census shows the family living at Ham, Gillingham. By 1911 they were living at Crown Yard, Peacemarch Place. Charles’ siblings were Harry (1898), Arthur (1900), (William) Frank (1902), Harold (1904), (Gladys) Edith (1907, Lilly (Ethel Lillian) (1909).
In 1911 Charles was an errand boy for a butcher.
Charles’ army details are in the ‘burnt’ records so many details are lost. However, it appears he joined 3rd Batt, Dorset Regiment in 1912 but there are enlistment documents dated 18 February 1913 when he signed up for 7 years in the Colours and 5 with the Reserve.
He was in France during 1914, in Gallipoli September 1915 to July 1916 and finally France again July to September 1916. In July 1916 he was at Arras, in the frontline with the 5th Battalion. The Battalion moved to just south of Thiepval to a German strongpoint at Mouquet Farm. The farm was partly held by the Germans, huge numbers of whom occupied a vast dugout below it. In this and in the attack the battalion sustained huge casualties.
Charles was killed in action on 26 September 1916 in Somme, France. There is no known grave, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and the Gillingham Memorial.
Entry posted 12 March 2021
DOWN William Oliphant
Captain William Oliphant Down M.C. 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment died of wounds 23 May 1917. He was 31.
William was born in Bridgwater, Somerset on 22 July 1885 the fourth child of Evan Roberts Down and Sarah Alice Down (née Boswall). His siblings were Edwin Boswall Down (1880), Elizabeth Lockyer Down (1881) and Ethel Margaret Down (1883).
The family moved to Gillingham in the late 1880s and occupied a large property called Knapp House, off Wyke Street. Evan was a Provision Merchant and Bacon Curer with Oake Woods in Station Road. By 1901 William, Elizabeth and parents were living in a new property, ‘Elmcroft’, on the Wyke Road.
William boarded at Warminster Grammar School, Wiltshire.
On leaving school William moved to London and trained as an accountant (According to a later Attestation document he was articled to Messrs McAuliffe, Davis and Hope of Threadneedle Street from 1907-1912. The 1911 census recorded him at two separate addresses. In the Chelsea home of Mr and Mrs Shiel-Barry, both actors, William is described as a ‘dramatist and actor’ and he was a visitor with Eliot Makeham (who went on to become a well-known film and TV actor). In the home of Mr and Mrs Veasey, at Ealing Common, William, a visitor, was described as a ‘dramatist’. It is thought that he might have been in lodgings in the same area.
William enlisted in the 15th Royal Hussars at the outbreak of the war. He was commissioned in the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment in January 1916 and joined the Battalion in the front line near Hébuterne the same month. On 8th April he led a patrol on a raid against the German trenches. The following day he wrote ‘F.T.Blank Blank’ which begins:
A whisper wandered around
Of a plan of the G.O.C.’s
And figures surveyed the ground