Half length photo of a young man in army uniform (no hat)

Henry John Dewey (29 December 1896 – 10 February 1917†)

Henry John Dewey (Lives profile) was the second son of Edward Dewey, himself a ringer at Reigate (and also steeplekeeper at Redhill), and Sarah Ann Sully. In some ringing reports Henry is recorded as Harry, so that may have been how he was generally known.

Edward and Sarah Ann had married at Reigate parish church on 15 October 1892. The Reigate ringers made an attempt to ring a peal to mark the occasion, but it failed, so they had to content themselves with a quarter peal instead. Edward is shown on the wedding certificate as a 35-year-old labourer, residing New Park, Reigate, the son of John Dewey, also a labourer. Sarah Ann was 34 (born Taunton, Somerset), no rank or profession is shown, residing Nutfield. Her father was Henry Sully, who is recorded as having been a gentleman. In 1891 Edward was living with his parents, John and Harriett, and brother James. All the men were brickmaker’s labourers, and the family were living in Brickyard Cottage, Earlswood, all had been born in Reigate. Sarah Ann, despite the claim of her father’s gentility, is recorded as a domestic servant living above stables in Meadvale, Reigate. Reviewing censuses suggests he may have been the Henry Sully born abt 1818 in Taunton who by 1891 was giving his occupation as “retired deputy governor, Taunton Gaol”, in 1861 he is listed as “Chief Turnkey, Taunton Gaol”.

Their first child Edward Frechville Dewey (the middle name appears a few different ways, Frechville, Frecheville, Freschville) was born on 28 September 1893 and baptised at Reigate parish church on 3 November 1893 (there doesn’t seem to have been any particular ringing on that occasion). Henry John was born on 29 December 1896 and baptised at St John’s Redhill on 7 February 1897. It was later that year that, sadly, Edward Frechville Dewey died. He was buried in Reigate churchyard on 3 June, I’ve not established the exact date of death, probably in late May. The burial record seems to be the first time the family were recorded living on Earlswood Road.
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Head and shoulders photo of a young man in naval uniform.

For those in peril on the sea – Lt-Cmdr Ralph Ireland (8 February 1884 – 19 January 1917)

Another digression into family history

At about 6:30 am on 19 January 1917 water was reported in the capstan flat of HMS Southampton flagship of 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, on patrol in the North Sea approximately 100 miles due east of the Isle of May (in the mouth of the Firth of Forth). At 7:05 am it was realised that this was due to the metal cover for the navel pipe (through which the anchor chain passed) had washed loose. The ship’s navigating officer (and acting executive officer/1st Lieutenant), Lieutenant Commander Ralph Ireland, gathered a party of three able seamen, Tom Ralph Knight, Roland Ernest Starkey and William Meaghan, and set off for the forecastle to try and secure the cover. They were also joined by the ship’s gunnery officer, Burroughs, and mate, Davis.

At about 7:15 am another wave broke over the bow of the ship. Once it had passed, Burroughs and Davis were lying winded in the breakwater, but of the other four there was no sign. “Man overboard” was signalled to HMAS Sydney at 7:21 am, lifeboats manned, life buoys thrown and men sent aloft. No sightings were made and the search was abandoned at 7:50 am at 56° 13.5′ N, 1° 0′ E. The ship’s log records the air temperature as 39 Fahrenheit, and the North Sea is rarely warm. In the days before modern survival suits and locator beacons they had had little chance, and of course it would still have been pretty dark (sunrise today was 8:28 am in Edinburgh, though it would have been a little earlier 100 miles east). Ireland’s fellow officer, Stephen King-Hall, recorded in his diary:

we turned for home, and read the burial service in the waist. Driving snowstorm added to the melancholy nature of the ceremony. Rarely, if ever, have I felt so depressed and knocked over. When I looked at the cold grey rough sea, and thought of No. 1, one of my best friends, with whom only a few hours before I had been yarning on the bridge, and with whom only 12 hours before I had been rehearsing my part in a Revue which I had written, and in which we both took leading roles, I went to my cabin and cried like a child.

Handwritten extract from ship's logbook (content described in article text)

Extract from the log of HMS Southampton for 19 January 1917. The National Archives: ADM 53/60695. Crown Copyright.

Ralph Ireland was the eldest child of Adam Liddell Ireland and Isabella, née McHinch.  Isabella was the sister of my great-great-grandmother, Matilda Antoinette “Nettie” McHinch (their father was the Revd William McHinch, a Presbyterian minister).  Ralph was born on 8 February 1888 in Belfast, and was followed by Norah Isabel Ireland in 1891 and Denis Liddell Ireland in 1894.  The family were fairly prosperous linen merchants. In 1901 they were living in Eglantine Avenue, Belfast, and had two servants (Alice McCamley and Mary McGinley) Both boys were educated at Belfast’s Royal Acadmeical Institution (often known simply as Inst). Ralph then went on to Eastman’s Naval Academy in Winchester.

On 19 November 1902 Ralph took the competitive examination for a Naval Cadetship, placing 8th out of over 150 entrants. He took up his place on the training ship Britannia on 15 January 1903. On passing out 15 months later he was second in his intake and received the King’s Gold Medal.

Then followed a succession of postings as a midshipman to ships stationed around the world, initially joining HMS Terrible on the China Station on 28 June 1904. He was appointed Acting Sub Lieutenant while aboard HMS Hindustan on 15 July 1907, and his commission was confirmed on 24 September 1907, by which time he was at the Royal Naval College (Greenwich?). After a short spell on HMS Prince of Wales he headed for HMS Dryad on 2 August 1909 to qualify as a navigator, having just been promoted lieutenant. After the course he returned to Prince of Wales to gain the required practical experience. He then spent some time on various smaller vessels on the Africa Station, and returned to Dryad for a short course on 9 August 1913. Soon after the completion of that course he was appointed to the light cruiser HMS Birmingham. He was still with her on the outbreak of war. Birmingham became the first Royal Navy vessel to sink a German submarine, ramming U-15 while she was surfaced (and attempting to dive) on 9 August 1914 (just 4 days after the declaration of war). With her he also saw action in the Battle of Heligoland (28 August 1914) and the Battle of Dogger Bank (January 1915). He transferred to HMS Southampton on 17 February 1916. Southampton received heavy damage and casualties at the Battle of Jutland, but it was apparently due to Ralph’s course calculations and orders for zig-zags that worse was avoided. King-Hall records that the ship’s company were surprised he did not receive the DSO following the battle. He was promoted to lieutenant commander shortly afterwards though, on 15 July 1916, and was recommended for further promotion in December 1916 by both Goodenough who had led 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron at Jutland and Captain Craufurd.

The reports of his death must have been some what overshadowed as the Silvertown Explosion in East London occurred the same day, several tons of TNT exploded at a munitions works, killing 73, severely wounding 98, and wounding hundreds more, as well as leaving many homeless.

Ralph is remembered on the war memorials at Inst, Elmwood Presbyterian Church and Malone Park Golf Club (his naval record mentions his skill at both golf and football), and on the family grave in one of Belfast’s main cemeteries (recently tidied up by local volunteers).

His death reminds us that even in time of war, mariners’ greatest opponent can still be the sea itself, rather than the human enemy.

36 Casualty Clearing Station located

Back in February I asked the question Where was 36 Casualty Clearing Station in July 1916? I thought I’d pretty well exhausted all avenues, particularly as I’d gone through the unit’s war diary up to the time they left the area. However, the most recent commenter (Tim) on that original post also contacted me shortly after via the Great War Forum to say he’d found a plan of the CCS at Heilly. At the very end of the 1917 war diary (WO 95/344/9), which I hadn’t looked at as it was long after they moved on, is a plan dated May 1916 showing the CCS at Heilly in relation to the station. This was just what I had been hoping for originally!

A plan drawn in pen on heavy paper, showing the layout of the casualty clearing station with pairs of tents in four lines at right angles to a railway

Plan of 36 Casualty Clearing Station dated May 1916. The plan is not conventionally oriented with north at the top, there is a compass marker at the top of the plan, a little to the right of centre, indicating north. The railway station is at the bottom of the plan, the level crossing, and the Mericourt-Corbie road are all indicated. At the bottom left is the name of the surveyor, “E Spencer Bourne Capt RTO Heilly”, probably Captain Ernest Spencer Bourne of the Railway Transport Executive, posted as the Rail Transport Officer at Heilly at the time. Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence.

In addition to the orientation on the plan, the scale is marked at the bottom of the map, 1″ to 66′ (1 inch to 66 feet). This seemed a slightly odd scale until I realised that this was the same as 1 inch to 22 yards. That 22 yards is the length of a cricket pitch is no coincidence, this is the length of a surveryor’s chain, and a therefore a standard unit of measure in surveying.

I’ve also made an attempt at overlaying the map on Google Earth, it matches pretty closely to the roads and railways, but possibly the level crossing has been moved slightly. Either that, or the plan just needs a little more rectification due to the slope of the ground.

Satellite view of the area round Heilly Station with the clearing station plan overlaid

Plan overlaid on Google Earth imagery, also showing my original guesses at location. Though at the wrong end of the field, my yellow marker seems to match quite closely in size to the three rows of tents closest to the road leading to the station

Harold Dennis (1894-7 November 1916†)

Harold Dennis (Lives profile) was another son of a ringer at Redhill, like the Streeter brothers. Harold was born in Farningham, Swanley, Kent in mid-1894, the second child of Edward Dennis and Susan Martha (neé Cousal). They had married at All Saints, Wandsworth on 24 January 1891 when both were living at 57 Cambourn (or Camborne) Road. He was 30 and a gardener and she was 26. They were still living at the same address when the census was taken at the end of March. The census shows that Edward was originally from Leigh in Surrey, while Susan was from Reading, Berkshire.

By the time that their first child was born in the first half of 1892 they had moved to Farningham, Swanley, Kent. The birth of Mabel Emily Dennis was registered in the Dartford registration district in the second quarter of 1892. Harold’s birth was also registered in that district in the third quarter of 1894.

The family then moved to Redhill before the birth (or at least the baptism) of Edith Dennis. She was baptised at St John’s Redhill on 6 December 1896, with the baptismal record noting that she was born on 17 September 1896. Edward is still recorded as a gardener. She was followed by Charles Edward Dennis on 4 February 1900 (baptised 15 April 1900). At the 1901 census the family were living at 11 Carter’s Row Cottages. The family was completed with the arrival of Herbert Dennis on 21 January 1903 (baptised 5 April 1903).

The family were still at 11 Carter’s Row Cottages at the 1911 census. Harold had now followed his father into work as a gardener. Mabel Emily had left the family home and was boarding at 10 Elm Road, East Sheen, and working as a teacher at a church elementary school. The rest of the children were still at school.

Edward features quite frequently in ringing reports from Redhill. Harold was elected to the Surrey Association on 24 July 1914, so had probably been ringing for a little while before that. In 1915 he rang the treble to two quarter peals of Grandsire Triples at Redhill. In the first the band was joined by Pte C A Hughes, a London ringing serving with 17th Battalion (County of London), London Regiment, then stationed nearby, but about to leave the district. In the second they were bolstered by F W Bailey, one of the Bailey brothers of Leiston, Suffolk, very well-known ringers, who was serving with 9th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment.

The amount of war gratuity paid out after Harold’s death indicates that he joined up around June 1915. The Ringing World of 9 July 1915 reports that he was with 3rd Battalion, The Queen’s. Army records show that he enlisted at Guildford. The battalion was then at Rochester, serving as both training unit and on home defence duties. Harold completed his training in October, and was posted to 8th Battalion in France on 13 October 1915. 8th Queen’s, along with the rest of 24th Infantry Division had suffered a real baptism of fire at Loos, with the battalion losing 439 men killed, including 12 officers, and similar (and even worse) losses in other battalions of the division. The battalion was in desperate need of reinforcements.

Harold would have been with the battalion when they suffered a German gas attack at Wulverghem in 1916, and then during the Battle of the Somme in the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Guillemont. By November 1916 they had been moved back up to the old Loos battlefield, then relatively quiet. Rotating in and out of the trenches. On 7 November 1916 the war diary records “One casualty – killed – aerial dart”. These were very simple weapons, little more than steel rods, often dropped from aircraft. He was taken to the cemetery at Philosophe, Mazingarbe, for burial.

His death was recorded at the next AGM of the Surrey Association, and of course he is on the roll of honour of the Association, and the Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. The current band marked the centenary of his death with a quarter peal (appropriately of Grandsire Triples) at Redhill on Sunday 6 November 1916. They had also previously marked Albert Streeter’s death.

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William Charles Lee (21 December 1893–10 October 1916†)

This post has been slightly delayed by the patchy wifi in northern Queensland!

William Charles Lee (Lives profile) was born into a ringing family, his father William, uncle John, and grandfather Charles had all been ringers at Foxearth, Essex. He was probably known as Charles as ringing reports often list him only as C Lee. 

Grandfather Charles died in 1889 At which point William moved the short distance to Sudbury in Suffolk with his now widowed mother. Uncle John however took off for London—this was possibly as a result of his ringing connections. He had been the most prolific of the family as a ringer, elected to the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths by 1888, and ringing several peals in Essex and Suffolk, including a long length of 10160 changes of major before making his move to London. 

The 1891 census shows William as a baker in Sudbury, living with his mother. John became a brewer in London. Both married within the next couple of years. John to Frances Nellie (or Nelly) Carter from Bulmer, another Essex village close to both Foxearth and Sudbury. Censuses show she had a brother called Charles Carter who might be the C Carter who rang with both John and William on several occasions. They married at Old St Pancras on 26 December 1891.

William meanwhile married Ellen Anne Making in Sudbury in early 1893 (or the last few weeks of 1892). Charles was born on or about 21 December 1893 (the birth wasn’t registered until the 1st quarter of the following year, but a later quarter peal report for 21 December 1913 indicates that it was rung as birthday compliment to him).

A sister, Daisy Ellen Lee, was born in early 1896 (or the last few weeks of 1895). 

By 1901 the family were living at 1 Croft Road in Sudbury. William’s career in baking doesn’t seem to have worked out as he now recorded as a horseman on a farm, while Ellen is a silk winder and weaver. In 1911 they were at 6 Church Riw, Sudbury.  Charles was now working at a coconut matting factory. His sister as a silk weaver, William still horseman and farm labourer. 

The first report of ringing involving Charles is a touch of Grandsire Triples rung for Pentecost 1912 (26 May). He rang his first peal on 19 January 1913. 

Charles seems to have moved to London later in 1913 and worked for Warner’s Spitalfields Bell Foundry. This was probably through his Uncle John’s connections. John rang at Streatham and Charles seems to have joined him there (possibly living with him and his family too). John and Nellie, their daughter Maude (18) and two boarders, the Mayhew brothers (Suffolk lads too), were living at 132 Elmshurst Mansions, Edgely Road, Clapham. Like William, John’s original career doesn’t seem to have worked out, and he’s now a jobbing gardener. Maude was a shorthand typist (you might wonder what this city office girl made of her country cousin?). The first report of Charles ringing in London is actually at Southgate on 22 June 1913, although the band included his uncle and several other Streatham ringers. 

As well as several quarter peals and peals at Streatham, Lee became involved in the Spitalfields Foundry Guild too—all members were also in the Cumberlands. The first of those was on 23 December 1913, followed by two more on 29 June and 11 July 1914 (all at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch). This also led to Lee attending the cricket match between the Cumberlands and the College Youths on 18 July 1914. He didn’t play in the match, but did sing as part of the entertainment that followed in the evening. Lee’s entry in the Cumberlands’ name book shows that in 1914 he was living in 7 Millbrook Road, Brixton. 

He also rang one peal for the London County Association, at Christ Church, Blackfriars on 19 February 1914.

Lee was not one of those who rushed to join up immediately on the outbreak of war. We can see he went home in late 1914 as he is listed as ringing as part of a memorial to another Sudbury ringer, H Griggs, on 22 November 1914. The war gratuity paid out following his death shows that he had been serving less than a year. The fact that he returned to Sudbury to enlist, and was able to choose to serve in the Suffolk Regiment suggests he joined before conscription came into force, probably as part of the Derby Scheme. Checking the service of those with similar regimental numbers suggests that Lee would have enlisted around 12 December 1915. He may have spent some time on the reserve before being called up, but on the other hand he was young and unmarried, so he may well have been posted immediately.  He would have joined 9th Battalion in France sometime in 1916. 

The battalion were not engaged in any major action on 10 October 1916. The war diary simply records “7 other ranks killed”. Whether he was buried by the explosion of a shell, or initially buried a little way behind the lines, in a grave subsequently lost in later fighting, he is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. I forgot to take a photo of the relevant panel of the memorial when I visited earlier this year, but I later discovered that the Friends of the Suffolk Regiment were doing a tour in September, and they were able to take a couple of photos. 

Once news of his death reached Sudbury, the ringers arranged commemorative ringing. Unfortunately 2 members of the band were injured by a car as they made their way home. Lee’s father was also involved in an accident on the railway line around the same time. It’s not clear exactly how this happened and if it was directly related to his son’s death. 

Lee is listed as a Sudbury ringer on the Central Council roll of honour, a Streatham ringer on the Surrey roll, and is also on the roll recorded in Volume 4 of the Cumberlands’ peal book, and their memorial in St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. He was also among those remembered at the Ringers’ National Memorial Service at St Clement Danes in February 1919.

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Streeter brothers: Albert (1896-8 October 1916) and William (1893-?)

William (Lives profile) and Albert (Lives profile) were the first and third sons respectively of William and Eliza (née Bradford). They married at Horne on 29 October 1892. William followed shortly afterwards—his birth was registered in the first quarter of 1893 in Reigate. Later census returns indicate that he was born in Outwood, near Burstow. 

William was followed by Ellen Jane in 1894, Robert in 1896, Albert in 1897 (also at Outwood), Rhoda Emma in 1899 and George on 4 September 1900. George is the first child for whom a baptismal record has been found, at Redhill on 18 November 1900. The family were then living at Earlswood Common.  However, by the 1901 census on 31 March, the family’s address is given as Dove Cottage, Lonesome Lane, Redhill. The older William is recorded as a sewerage farm worker. 

Over the next few years the family grew with the addition of Sydney on 28 April 1904 (baptised 3 July 1904), and Percy on 12 July 1908 (baptised 4 October 1908).

In 1911 the family were living at 2 Sewerage Cottages, Redhill. The older William seems to have now become the foreman of the sewage farm. The younger William had moved out, and was living and working at a Temperance Hostel at 106 Brighton Road, Redhill.

It seems the older William began ringing when bells were hung at Redhill in the later 1890s. Other Streeters were ringing at Worth and other nearby Sussex villages, but I’ve not managed to connect them definitely. 

Albert began ringing around 1913, ringing his first quarter peal on 27 March 1913 at Redhill. He rang the treble to Grandsire Triples, his father was ringing the second, and his uncle (William’s younger brother), Amos Thomas Streeter (also his first quarter peal). This was the first quarter peal by a band entirely from Redhill. Ringing the Tenor was E Dennis, father of Harold Dennis who would die just a few weeks after Albert. They repeated the quarter peal a month later, with much the same band. 

On 26 December 1913, Albert rang his first peal, trebling to plain bob major. This was with a mixed band at St Michael’s, Betchworth. It was conducted by George F Hoad, his brother Henry A Hoad also rang, as did Henry F Ewins, all of whom also appear on the roll of honour. 

He rang another peal, this time at Reigate, on 4 May 1914, trebling to grandsire triples. 

Albert doesn’t seem to have managed any further peals or quarter peals before the outbreak of war. He and the younger William seem to have joined up quickly, along with a third brother, with The Ringing World of 11 September 1914 reporting:

Three sons for the country

The members of the St John’s Society, Redhill, met at St. John’s Church on Sunday week for a quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples, and for the purpose of congratulating one of its members, Mr W Streeter, whose three sons had during the previous week, responded to their country’s call, and had signed on for either home or foreign service. One of the sons was also a member of the St John’s Society; and was a very promising ringer. The following ringers constituted the band: H. Dennis 1, W Streeter 2, E Harman 3, A Gear 4, T Streeter 5, H Edwards 6, H Card (conductor) 7, E Dennis 8

Albert is presumably the one referred to as a promising ringer, with the other two probably being William and Robert. While a W Streeter is listed on the roll of honour and I think it’s the younger William (though there are no definite reports of him ringing), Robert never seems to have become a ringer. 

By 4 October 1914 Albert was stationed at Gravesend with 9th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). He joined the local band there to ring a quarter peal for their harvest festival, ringing the second to grandsire triples. Also joining the locals was W Denyer of Ewhurst (not listed on the roll of honour) who was also with The Queen’s. 

By July 1915 the battalion had moved to Colchester and Albert had been promoted to Corporal. Meanwhile William had gone to France with the 6th Battalion on 1 June 1915. At some point he would be transferred to 7th Battalion. 

Albert was presumably training as a machine gunner as by the time he went overseas he was with 53 Machine Gun Company. This was part of 53 Infantry Brigade in 18 (Eastern) Division. The division went to France in 1915, but Albert did not receive the 1915 Star, so presumably joined later.

Albert died of wounds in one of the British hospitals based in Boulogne on 8 October 1916. It seems most likely that he was wounded in the period 26-30 September 1916 when the division was taking part in the attacks on Thiepval ridge and the Schwaben Redoubt. 

The Ringers at Redhill attempted a muffled peal in his memory, but unfortunately without success. However it was reported in both The Ringing World and the local press. The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser report is shown as the featured image for this post, and also includes a photo of Albert (thanks to Andy Arnold for spotting this and sending the image to me). It also mentions an earlier report of his death, which might give more details as to the circumstances, but I’ve not yet obtained a copy. 

William’s 1915 Star medal roll entry indicates that he re-enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers on 18 January 1919. This may explain why it’s been difficult to find him in later records—I’ve not found any definite record of his death, or a marriage record, nor an obvious entry in the 1939 Register. 

A final note on the family, the youngest brother Percy had a son Alan who also became a ringer at Redhill. He married a fellow ringer, Freda M Stanley, and they moved to Nutfield where Alan was tower captain for many years. He died in early 2015. 

Bells for St George’s, Ieper

Update 8/11/2016: the project website is now rather more informative, and this article appeared in The Telegraph today 100 years on, the bells ring out for the war dead of Ypres (you may need to register to read it in full)

For some time I’ve been aware that there’s a project getting underway to install a light ring of eight (tenor 6 cwt) in the tower at St George’s Memorial Church, Ieper (or Ypres as it’s more often spelled in a First World War context). The tower currently holds a chime donated by shipping magnate Sir James Knott, in part a memorial for two of his sons killed in the war. I believe the intention is that the new bells will be in addition to this existing chime.

The Bells4StGeorge website has now launched, and the project is open for donations. The website itself is still rather barebones, but some more information was released in today’s issue of The Ringing World (subscription only). The total sought is £195,000, all donations over £100 will be recorded in a memorial book to be kept in the tower. The names of 54 ringers are inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial, with several more in nearby cemeteries. Those on the Menin Gate include the Surrey Association’s first casualty, Walter Eric Markey. In total at least 1361 ringers died during the First World War.

Until more information is on the project website a few snippets can be found on the church’s own website. The project is being run by Alan Regin (Steward of the Central Council’s Rolls of Honour), Ian G Campbell (a regular visitor to our practices at Putney), and David R Smith.