Four men from Hersham served, two did not live to tell the tale, one of the worst casualty rates in the Association. However, Ernest James Hamblin and his family had in fact left Hersham in 1909, they were in Woking for the 1911 census, and Ernest emigrated to New Zealand later that year. He was joined in Auckland by his parents and two sisters in 1913. His father was also a ringer and they both continued ringing at St Matthew’s-in-the-City in Auckland. Both Ernest and George Basil Edser jr were also members of the Winchester Diocesan Guild (Edser was a former honorary secretary of the Yorktown District), they are recorded under that Guild on the Central Council roll of honour, and also on the WDG memorial in the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Edser’s father (George Basil sr) was also a ringer at Hersham. Coincidentally neither man has a known grave, and they died within two months of each other. Both are commemorated by photographs in the ringing chamber.
In researching Hamblin I had to branch out into some new sources, these included the outgoing passenger lists on FindMyPast, but via a specualtive web search on his name, I also came across the Auckland City Council Bicycle Register Database 1910-1923. This showed that both Ernest and his father registered bicycles after moving to Auckland, and added some additional addresses. He is also recorded in the Cenotaph database created by the Auckland War Memorial Museum, and unlike in the UK army service records were not affected by enemy action in the Second World War, so his complete service record survives. I will draw more on these sources in subsequent posts.
John Loveridge could have been a very dfficult case as he had no overseas service, but fortunately both an entry in the Surrey recruitment registers, and a reasonable proportion of his service record survived. William Alfred Woodrow has proved unexpectedly diffcult to resolve all details about. His initials are actually given as W R in the original roll, but census records and obituaries in The Ringing World made basic identification reasonably straightforward. I have also been able to locate some of his personnel records for his career with the London and South West Railway (which even includes an annotation indicating the dates when he was on war service) – after grouping into the Big Four in the 1920s he presuambly continued working for Southern Railway, but those records are not yet available. There is also an entry for him in the Surrey recruitment registers. However, the original roll indicates that he held the rank of captain, and I cannot find any entries for his commissioning in The London Gazette or any sign of an officer’s service record at The National Archives, nor an entry in the Army List. However, I understand that some railway staff were given only honorary commissions, and it may be he falls into this category. If not, the roll could be further in error, there is a medal card for someone serving in Waterways and Railways in the Royal Engineers with the rank of Second Corporal.