Category Archives: Corps

John Harley Bridges Hesse (5 December 1872 – 18 October 1946)

This is the seventh in the series on the men who rang in the officers’ peals of 1919, Hesse rang the tenor at Putney.  He is also listed on the Surrey Association roll of honour as a Kingston ringer.

A middle-aged man in the uniform of a major of the Army Service Corps. His right sleeve also carries three "wound stripes". Other men in uniform can be seen behind

Hesse from the photo of the band which rang at South Croydon on 3 May 1919 (he is front left in the full photo)


Hesse was born in Sealcote, Punjab, British India (now Sialkot, Pakistan) on 5 December 1872. His father, John Valentine Hesse was an officer in the 58th (Rutlandshire) Foot (which later became 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment). His mother, Ellen McGhie Bridges was originally from London, though her father subsequently had a substantial farm in Devon. They married in Jersey on 8 January 1863. Hesse had two older sisters, Rose Ethelind, born 6 April 1866, Azimgarh (Uttar Pradesh) and Ellen Margaret, born 13 July 1868, Benares (now Varanasi).
His father’s regiment returned to the UK in 1874, until it was posted to South Africa in 1879 due to the Zulu War. It seems that Ellen and the children at least settled in Teignmouth, or at least that’s where they were for the 1881 census. Hesse’s paternal grandfather was Vicar of Rowberrow, Somerset until his death in 1878 (while his great-uncle was Rector of Chiddingfold with Haslemere). After that his grandmother settled in Wrington, which began a long association between the Hesse family and the village.
Hesse followed his father and uncle to Sherborne School, and then after a period cramming with the Rector of Melbury Osmond (who seems to have had a sideline as a private tutor) in 1891, he went to University College Bristol to study engineering. By 1901 he was in Belfast under articles as a mechanical engineer at the famous Harland and Wolff shipbuilding yard: he was also introducing method ringing to Belfast and helping to raise standards within the Irish Association more generally.
Not long after he moved to London. He seems to have been based close to Fulham as he became a regular member of the band at All Saints. He may have been working at Thorneycroft’s yard in Chiswick as he certainly had close connections with Thorneycroft later. By 1905 he was in partnership with Gerald Savory at the Teddington Motor Car and Launch Works, Twickenham Road, Teddington. In addition to cars and boats (for which the Hesse Patent Reversing Gear was a key selling point) the firm also got involved in engines for aeroplanes. At this time Hesse was living in Kingston (5 Downhall Villas), and regular ringer there. On 24 February 1906 he married Phyllis Winifred Young at All Saints Kingston. He was now 33, she was just 19. She was living with her mother at The Lodge, Kingston Road, Teddington. By 1911 the couple were living at 15 Bolton Gardens, Teddington, along with their first child, John William Valentine Hesse, who had been born on 16 February 1908.
In January 1913 the partnership with Savory was broken, with Savory becoming the sole owner, although Hesse initially continued as a manager. The third partner, Robert Bamford, took over what had primarily been a showroom in Chelsea, and began a new firm, which would become known as Aston Martin. In May 1913 Hesse moved to become manager of Thorneycroft’s vehicle repair workshop on Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Given his father’s military service it’s no surprise that Hesse was fairly quick to offer his skills following the outbreak of war, though he was overage. In fact one of his earliest interventions related to the restrictions on ringing that were introduced under the Defence of the Realm Acts, the Ringing World of the 30 October 1914 carried a letter from him explaining that an aviator he knew had a few years earlier told Hesse that the bells of Weybridge were very clearly audible while flying at considerable height, Hesse had suggested that College Youths practices should finish before dark even before official restrictions on ringing after dark were introduced.
He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army Service Corps (ASC) on 25 January 1915, and initially worked as a vehicle inspector at Aldershot. At the start of May 1915 he was briefly posted to the ASC depot at Grove Park, London, before proceeding to France on 13 May 1915. Here he joined No 358 Motor Transport Repair Unit. He was promoted captain on 1 August 1915 and attached to No 2 Heavy Repair Shop (320 Motor Transport Company) at Rouen. Around this time he was also granted leave home to the UK as his mother was ill and subsequently died. He was Mentioned in Despatches in the 1916 New Year Honours (one of the first ringers to be so honoured). While engaged in censoring letters, he realised that one of the men in his unit was also a ringer, a rather alarmed Private H Harrington was summoned to see the captain, to discover that Hesse just wanted to talk about ringing. At the end of 1916 he had 6 weeks sick with trench fever and jaundice, including some time convalescing at Cape Mentone. He was promoted acting major on 20 January 1917 and posted as workshop manager to No 4 Heavy Repair Shop (899 Motor Transport Company) at St Omer. He was ill again in mid-1917 and was granted sick leave for three weeks to the UK, returning to duty on 1 July 1917. In October he left the repair shop, returning to the vehicle inspection branch. In March he returned to the UK, reverting to the rank of captain. It had been decided that he would be more valuable to the war effort returning to Thornycroft, working under the Ministry of Munitions on their military contracts, rather than in the army. He relinquished his commission on 14 April 1918, retaining the honorary rank of major. It’s not clear exactly what work he did, he may have contributed to work on their coastal motor boats given his patent on reversing gear. He also seems to have to some degree reverted to his pre-war work at Vauxhall Bridge Road. It seems to have been at this time that the family moved to Haslemere, where he would become tower captain for many years, and first Master of the Guildford Diocesan Guild following the creation of that diocese. Once the war ended he continued to work for Thornycroft until his eventual retirement. He remained closely associated with Wrington too, and died there on 18 October 1946. He had two further sons, Peter Harley Frederick Legrew Hesse in 1919 and Rodney Harley Legrew Hesse in 1925. All three sons followed their father to Sherborne.

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at the bottom of the headstone, the epitaph "Until we meet. Your little son Mervyn"

Ernest Attwater (14 January 1888 – 22/23 March 1918†) and his brothers, Isaac James and Frank Norman

The war diary of 245 Machine Gun Company, one of 50 Division’s divisional machine gun companies (just being merged into 50 Machine Gun Battalion) records:

Brie, 7pm, Heavily shelled – moved transport & personnel further south towards Berny – men in trench system.

Received note from Lt Rees at Brie Bridge that 2/Lt Attwater had been killed – they were being heavily shelled but expected relief at dawn.

Other sources, probably all drawing on the initial official report sent back actually give his date of death as 22 March (this date appears in his service file and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission details), but this report seems quite clear, and several sketch maps in the war diary are also consistent about the locations the company’s various sections were in at different times. However, such was the confusion of this period following the launch of the Kaiserschlacht</em? (Kaiser's Battle, or German Spring Offensive) early on 21 March, that many war dairies had to be reconstructed after the fact.

Ernest was the youngest of 8 siblings, and 1 half sibling. Alfred Attwater senior had married Frances Bowley (nee Smith) in the fourth quarter of 1870 in the Horsham registration district. Frances was a widow with a young child (Charles William Bowley). She had married her first husband, Charles Bowley, in 1862 in the Worthing registration district. Charles William was born in 1866. Charles senior died in 1868 aged just 36.

The 1871 census shows the family living in New Street, Horsham, having been joined just days before by the first child of Ernest and Frances, Alfred John, listed on the census return as 6 days old, indicating that he was born on 28 March. From the census we also learn that Alfred senior was born in Horsham around 1849 and was a smith, wile Frances was the same age (so apparently considerably younger than Bowley, although later censuses indicate she was 5 years older than Alfred so would have been 27 in 1871) and from Arundel. The family were still there in 1881, although Alfred John was actually staying with his grandparents, John and Rebecca Attwater at Holmbush Farm House, Lower Beeding, Horsham. With him there was brother George Frederick Attwater, born 1876. In New Street with Alfred senior and Frances were Ellen (born 1873), Isaac James (born 1878) and and Lewis (or Louis), 9 months old.

By 1885 the family had moved to Church Street, Cuckfield. They made their mark on the house: in 2002 a cache of shoes and other material from the era the family lived in Cuckfield was found under floorboards in the attic. The cache is now displayed in Cuckfield Museum. The 1891 census found the whole family in Church Street. Rebecca Catherine had been born in 1882 in Horsham, while Frank Norman was born in 1885 in Cuckfield, and Ernest followed on 14 January 1888.

Subsequent obituaries tell us that Louis began ringing in Cuckfield around 1895 and that all six brothers rang (presumably not including Charles William Bowley), although the two eldest eventually moved abroad. Alfred John would eventually move to Australia, George Frederick’s emigration has not been traced. The older brothers were by now beginning to go their own ways. Alfred John married Ellen Louisa Upton in 1894 in the Steyning registration district. He seems to have joined the army, specifically the 14th Hussars. He cannot be traced in the 1901 census, but Ellen and three children are living with her parents in Haywards Heath. It seems quite likely he was already serving at this point, during which the Boer War was under way, certainly the 1911 census shows that two of their younger children were born in South Africa. By 1911 they were back in Sussex, but by 1916 they were in Australia. Alfred John joined the Australian Imperial Force, stating on his enlistment form that he had 13 years service with 14th Hussars. He returned to Europe and saw service in France before being discharged with emphysema and bronchitis. Like Ernest he was a machine gunner.

Louis had followed their father as a smith, he briefly moved to Hastings, and then to London in about 1898. By the 1901 census, Isaac was also in London, living with his new wife, Edith Sarah (nee Pilgrim), at 23 Sandringham Road, East Ham (reference RG13 1595 46 30 242). His service record shows they had married S Paul’s, Canonbury on 20 January 1901 (consistent with registration in Islington RD in 1st quarter 1901) – this probably suggests he had actually been in London for some time before this. He was working as a pastry cook.

Louis was lodging at 53 Bramford Road, Wandsworth, with the Hayward family, Robert and Louise (both 34) and their son Stanley, 7. Robert was a carman. Also lodging there was Isaac Rose, 38, a house painter. Louis is described as a farrier. Frank and Ernest were still in Church Street, Cuckfield with their parents, Frank is now described as a plumber and decorator, Ernest simply as juvenile (he was still only 13). Ernest certainly attended Cuckfield National School, the headmaster (of 25 years standing), William Herrington certifying on Ernest’s application for commissioning that Ernest had achieved a good standard of education. Presumably some of the older brothers may also have attended the school, as well as being at school in Horsham. Unusually the National School had merged with the town’s ancient grammar school during the course of the nineteenth century. Ernest was also a member of the church choir, as well as being a ringer, and played for the football and cricket clubs, barely a week goes by without his or Frank’s names being mentioned in match reports in the local paper.

Isaac and Edith’s first child, Edith Louisa was born in Forest Gate on 1 December 1902 (registered West Ham, 1st quarter 1902); a second daughter, Nellie Hilda, in Victoria Park on 30 May 1905 (registered Hackney, 3rd quarter 1905); and their third, Elsie Gladys, in Norbiton on 13 November 1908 (registered Kingston, 4th quarter 1908). (Dates of birth from service record, places from 1911 census return). Meanwhile, Louis married Alice Edith Barrington in the Wandsworth registration district, the marriage was registered in the 2nd quarter 1904. By 1911, Isaac and Edith were living at 25 Rattray Road, Brixton. He was still working as a pastry cook . Louis and Alice were at 43 Elmsleigh Road, East Hill, Wandsworth (this road no longer exists, a 1908 London map shows it in the area now covered by the dual carriageway section of Trinity Road as it approaches the roundabout at the southern approach to Wandsworth Bridge). They hadn’t had any children, and had Percy Fletcher, 61, house painter, boarding with them. Louis’s occupation is still shown as farrier, and the original census return shows that he was employed by a candle manufacturer. The largest in the area was Price’s at the Belmont Works, Battersea, but there were also Tucker’s in Putney High Street (principally supplying Roman Catholic churches, though this was bought out by Price’s in 1908 – http://www.prices-candles.co.uk/history/historydetail.asp), there was also a night light manufacturers, Edwards C W & Co on York Road, Wandsworth, according to the 1908 Post Office directory.

Frank and Ernest were still in Cuckfield with their now widowed mother (the death of an Alfred Attwater aged 52, was registered in Cuckfield 3rd Quarter 1901 2b 95). Frank was a builders’ decorator and Ernest a builder’s carpenter.

Louis was by this time probably already ringing at Streatham, but he also seems to have been involved at ringing at All Saints, Fulham. One of the earliest issues of the Ringing World, for 19 May 1911 records his ringing in a peal of Stedman Cinques on handbells in the belfry there on 7 May, his first peal on 12, he was ringing 1-2. Several of the other ringers were well-known in the Surrey Association. The Fulham peal book shows earlier ringing there too, including a peal Kent Treble Bob Royal on 11 December 1909 to which Louis rang the 6th. He also rang the treble to Stedman Caters on 6 August 1910; the fourth to Double Norwich Court Major on 18 November 1911 and various others. Perhaps his most famous ringing at this time was a peal of Grandsire Caters on handbells at Crystal Palace on 16 August 1911 to which he rang 7-8. This was deemed significant enough to be explicitly mentioned in his obituary, and was the 100th peal by the All Saints’ band. Both Isaac and Louis were ringing in a quarter peal of Kent Treble Bob Major at Immanuel Streatham on 3 July 1911 to mark the coronation of George V. Louis also rang in a London County Association half-muffled peal of Stedman Triples at St George the Martyr, Southwark on 13 October 1911.

Frank and Ernest both still seem to have been in Cuckfield until at least 7 November when they rang in a peal of Grandsire Triples there to mark the 69th birthday of F Hounsell (who was also ringing), it is also described as being to mark Frank’s birthday, and he conducted it. Then, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1911 we see all four brothers ringing together, firstly for a quarter peal of Oxford Bob Triples at St Leonard’s, conducted by Louis, and then on Christmas Day at Immanuel at touch of 504 changes of Stedman Triples, the longest in the method for Frank and Ernest. Isaac and Louis also rang in a quarter peal of Stedman at St Leonard’s on 2 January 1912. Both Frank and Ernest maintained their Sussex connections as well, continuing to ring there from time to time.Frank returned to Cuckfield in November 1912 to mark F Hounsell’s 70th birthday (Frank conducted the peal). In January 1913 both Ernest and Frank rang in a peal at Bolney, Sussex, conducted by Ernest. They were also venturing around London with Ernest and Isaac ringing a peal at Southgate in June 1913. Another of the ringers in this peal was recorded as J Attwater, possibly a typo for L Attwater. On 27 October 1913 Ernest and Frank rang in a peal at Immanuel Streatham, in a band consisting entirely of employees of the tower captain and conductor, John Stenton Daniels, who ran a building and decorating firm.

Ernest’s cricket career was also developing, with matches for various Surrey sides in 1913 and 1914, one of these Surrey Young Amateurs v Surrey Young Professionals was reported in The Times Wednesday, 20 August 1913; pg. 11; Issue 40295; col A. The last two of these matches were in August 1914, after the outbreak of war.A few weeks earlier, on 25 July, he had also played in a ringing related cricket match at Mitcham, between sides representing the two premier ringing societies, the College Youths and Royal Cumberlands. He took 2-19 in a low scoring match, the College youths being all out for 31, and the Cumberlands winning with 33/9. The Ringing World of 31 July carries a report of the match, and the evening festivities which followed (during which Louis was one of the ringers in a touch of Stedman Triples on handbells, another Streatham ringer killed in the war, William Charles Lee qv also took part in the concert), the report also includes a photo of the two teams, with Ernest right in the middle, looking very relaxed in his whites. It is possible that the brothers feature in the other photo which shows spectators at the match, but no names are given. The report in The Times states “Streatham” by his name, it seems plausible that this was his club, but no confirmation has yet been found.

A young man in cricket whites

Ernest Attwater before playing for the College Youths team against the Cumberland Youths on 18 July 1914.

On 9 September 1914 Ernest attested at Haywards Heath, just a short distance from Cuckfield (though it appears he underwent a first medical examination on 5 September). On his attestation form he gives his permanent address as 41 Elmsleigh Road, Wandsworth (Louis’s address at the 1911 census); and his occupation as “Carpenter and Pro Cricketer” (on his later application for a commission he states “Foreman carpenter and pro cricketer”). He also reveals that he had previously served for three years in the Territorial Force with 4th Battalion Royal Sussex, leaving due to “leaving the county” (the clerk’s hand has added the more official “termination of engagement”).

According to the Kelly’s directory for 1911, A Company, 4th Bn, Royal Sussex was based in the drill hall on the Market Square in Haywards Heath. As his next of kin he lists his mother, then living at 5 Albany Villas, Cuckfield. He is described as being 5’10” tall, weighed 135lbs and had a 38” chest, brown eyes, auburn hair and a fresh complexion. Local newspaper reports show that Frank records have not survived it’s impossible to be sure, but as the brothers seem was also a Territorial prior to the move to London (in fact at this time he outranked his younger brother, with a report of a shooting match listing Frank as a lance corporal and Ernest as a private, though both were on the organising committee).

Ernest attested for General Service, rather than trying to rejoin his old territorial unit. By the end of the day he was in Chichester, and by the following day he was on the books of the Royal Sussex,
it was probably then he was given his number, 3305. By 12 September he was officially posted to the brand new 9th (Service) Battalion, one of the units of Kitchener’s Army. Shortly before he joined up, all four brothers rang a handbell quarter peal (conducted by Louis) at 240 Coldharbour Lane, Isaac’s home. This was reported in the 11 September issue of Ringing World, along with a quarter peal of Double Norwich Court Major at St Leonard’s with Frank and Louis (conducting again) among the band. With Ernest’s previous military experience (on the basis of most of the Kitchener units, this would have been quite rare), and his civilian experience as a foreman, it’s no great surprise that on 17 October he was promoted Lance Corporal (technically this was actually an appointment, rather than a rank, but his record does use the term promoted). On 25 March 1915 he received his second stripe with promotion to Corporal, and his third with promotion to Serjeant on 15 June. Frank must have joined up at similar time as the Ringing World of 30 October 1914 lists Ernest as being in 9thBn Royal Sussex at Shoreham, and Frank with 3rd (reserve) Bn at Dover. Ernest is also apparently mentioned as having joined up (with 7th Bn!) on 8 September 1914 (before his official attestation) in the Mid Sussex Times, with Frank mentioned on 20 October with 3rd Bn, and much later on 28 December 1915 with 10th (Reserve) Battalion. Isaac’s baking experience was put to use in the Army Service Corps.

9th Royal Sussex were given their baptism of fire at Loos in late 1915. Ernest qualified as a machine gunner in February 1916 and in May 1916 he applied for a commission. He served in the early part of the Battle of the Somme, but was then posted back to the UK for officer training in September 1916. He was commissioned in January 1917. Soon after he married Alice Ethel Hulls of Arundel. She was the daughter of Richard William Hulls a butcher and local councillor in Arundel. Ernest then seems to have been involved in training new machine gun companies in the UK before being posted back to France on 15 July 1917 with 245 Machine Gun Company, newly assigned as 50 (Northumbrian) Division’s divisional machine gun company. They were soon thrown into the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

Ernest was granted leave to the UK in November 1911, by which time Alice must already have been heavily pregnant. The birth of Mervyn Richard Attwater was registered in East Preston registration district (which covered Arundel) in the 1st quarter 1918.

On 21 March the German offensive began, 50 Division were soon falling back, despite putting up stiff resistance, and on 23 March were defending the river crossings at Brie. After the bridges were blown, it was found some of the rearguard were still on the wrong side of the river, but managed to cross back on the remains of the bridges. Several tanks had to be destroyed though, even with the bridges intact they were not wide enough for tanks. The war diary contains detailed maps of the company’s dispositions that day, and their subsequent movements. It was not until the night of 24/25 March that elements of the company reached the village of Foucaucourt a few miles west of where Ernest was killed, yet it is in the village cemetery there that he is buried. CWGC record indicate it was the Germans who buried him having capture the village on 26 March – did the company manage to carry his body that far on the their transport before having to leave him there?

Alice remarried after the war to Algernon Light and they had several children together. As a result Mervyn was brought up by his maternal grandparents and lost touch with the Attwater side of the family. She did arrange the family inscription on Ernest’s grave, the heart-wrenching “Your little son Mervyn, until we meet”. Mervyn would become a highly decorated RAF pilot during the Second World War, serving with Pathfinder Force in Bomber Command and receiving the DSO, DFC and a mention in despatches. He died in 2006. One of his sons had a long army career.

Of the other Attwater brothers, Louis also died relatively young, just short of 48, in 1928. However Isaac and Frank were longer lived. Frank returned to Cuckfield and married Mabel Chinnery whose brother was also a Cuckfield ringer killed in the war, sadly she died only a few years later. Isaac was still ringing into his 80s in north London. Between the wars he spent a few years as a bell ringing instructor at Kent School in the US (and also running the school bakery).

I’ve grouped together the Lives profiles of the brothers who served into a community.

Ernest is commemorated on several memorials in Cuckfield, the main Arundel war memorial (a photo of the unveiling shows this stood in sight of his father-in-laws shop), the Surrey Association roll of honour, the Sussex Association roll of honour, the Central Council roll of honour, and the Surrey County Cricket Club roll of honour at The Oval. A memorial peal was rung by the College Youths at Cuckfield on 17 March 2018, and another peal attempt will take place on 24 March.

At a meeting about restarting the Cuckfield cricket club after the war in Febraury 1919 mention was made of members killed in the war, particularly Attwater. The Revd RHC Mertens (from a prominent local family, often included in the same match reports as Ernest for both cricket and football before the war) stated, ‘his fine sporting character, “Junior” he proceeded, was in the truest sense of the word, a Christian, a gentleman and a sportsman.’

Enfield also has some interesting material relating to Isaac, a peal rung for his golden wedding in 1951 and one following his death which includes a photo from 1949.

Stone panel with many names ordered by year and then alphabetically

Cecil Herbert Schooling (18 October 1884 – 21 June 1917†)

The Revd Cecil Herbert Schooling (see also Lives profile) does not actually appear on the original Surrey Association roll, but he is listed on the Central Council roll as a member of the Cambridge University Guild, and from 1910 had been senior curate at Croydon Parish Church. He was the youngest of four children of Frederick Schooling and Lily Alphonsine Maria (nee Symondson).

Frederick and Lily married at St Stephen’s, Shepherd’s Bush, on 6 September 1879. Frederick was a 28-year-old clerk, the son of Charles Schooling a (commercial?) traveller, and living at 12 Eardley Crescent (close to West Brompton station). Lily was 23, the daughter of Francis Symondson (clerk), living at 33 Devonport Road, Shepherd’s Bush (very close to the church). From Frederick’s obituary we know he had been working for Prudential Insurance since 1867 (when he was 16).

Their first child, Margaret Lily, was born on 9 June 1880 and baptised at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, on 4 July. Frederick’s occupation is again recorded as clerk and the family were living at 15 Paris Villas, Wakehurst Road. The family of three were recorded at the same address in the 1881 census, Frederick now recorded as a Life Assurance Clerk. They also had one servant, Charlotte Langridge (14). Margaret was followed by Lionel Frederick Schooling, born 3 February 1882, baptised 5 March 1882 at St Mark’s. Frederick was now recorded as an assurance clerk and the family were living at 45 Wakehurst Road. Next was Eric Charles Schooling, born 27 June 1883, baptised 5 August 1883 at St Mark’s. Frederick was again recorded as a life assurance clerk and the family were still living at 45 Wakehurst Road.

Cecil Herbert born 18 October 1884 and baptised on 21 November 1884 at St Michael’s, Battersea. Frederick was now an actuary and the family were still living at 45 Wakehurst Road, so it’s not clear why they had changed church.

By the 1891 Census the family had moved to 257 Lavender Hill, Battersea. Frederick was now listed as an actuary, holding the Fellowship of the Society of Actuaries (he held this from 1886). Lionel and Eric were both at home, while Margaret was at a girl’s school in Shaftesbury Road, Hammersmith (the present Ravenscourt Park Station opened as Shaftesbury Road, so the school was presumably somewhere nearby). The family now employed two servants, Sarah Wyatt (29) a general servant, and Mary A T Fay (18) a nurse domestic.

In 1892 Frederick Schooling was appointed Prudential’s Company Actuary, a highly responsible post ensuring that premiums were set at the correct level to enable the company to meet all its likely liabilities.

Cecil made his way to Tonbridge School in September 1897, following Lionel who had gone there from 1895. Both were in Judde House. Cecil was still there by the time of the 1901 Census, by which time Eric was at Sandhurst where he was a Gentleman Cadet, training to be a regular army officer. The family home was now at Inversnaid, Bromley. The only family members there in 1901 were Fredrick and Lionel (now a stockbroker’s clerk), Lily and Margaret do not seem to appear at all so may have been out of the country. The family now had three servants: cook Annie McDonough (42, from Ireland), parlourmaid Ruth Nye (19, from Sussex) and house maid Ellen M Westley (26, from Chackmore, Berkshire).

Cecil left Tonbridge School aged 17 at Christmas 1901. He then spent almost two years in Germany, unfortunately it’s not clear what he did there, or exactly where he was. He went up to Pembroke College, Cambridge in October 1903 to read theology. In July 1904 he headed to Norway for Spitsbergen, the North Cape and the Fjords on the Ophir, travelling with his parents and sister. He graduated with his BA in 1906 and proceeded to Wells Theological College to study for ordination.  It was presumably while at Cambridge that he learned to ring and joined the University Guild. He was ordained deacon in Wakefield Cathedral by the Bishop of Wakefield on 21 December 1907 and became a curate at the cathedral, living at 16, St John’s Square. He was priested on 20 December 1908, again in Wakefield Cathedral.

Meanwhile Eric had been commissioned in to the Warwickshire Regiment, and in 1910 Eric married Edith McTaggart Gordon Paton at Radford Semele, Warwickshire. Cecil assisted the local vicar at the service on 7 April. On 27 November (Advent Sunday) Cecil took up a new role as senior curate in Croydon. He took charge of the mission church of St Edmund’s (originally known as Pitlake Mission) on Cornwall Road, though no doubt would also have taken services at the parish church (now Croydon Minster). At the 1911 census Cecil was living at 118 Waddon New Road, Croydon.

Eric was mobilised with his regiment on the outbreak of war in 1914, and was killed at Gheluvelt on 31 October 1914. Although clergy were exempt from conscription, many young clergy felt they had to serve in some way (and Cecil had been a member of the OTC at Tonbridge), and on 16 November 1916 Cecil was interviewed by the Chaplain General with a view to becoming an army chaplain. By this time he was living at 2 Courtney Road, Croydon. His interview was successful with the Chaplain General noting (among other things), that Cecil preached extempore (without notes). Cecil was commissioned on 5 December 1916. Lionel (who had previously served in a volunteer battalion) was also commissioned as a recruiting officer in Kent.

Initially he was attached to a casualty clearing station, I haven’t been able to establish which. In about April 1917 he was attached to 122 Infantry Brigade, this brigade included battalions of The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) and East Surrey Regiments, with several men from Bromley and Croydon. On 20 June he was with elements of the brigade in Dickesbusch (Dikkebus) when shells started to fall. He left his billet to warn the men to take cover, but was caught by shell fragments. Reportedly he gave no hint that he had been wounded, simply stopping a passing lorry, and being taken to a field ambulance a couple of miles away. He died of his wounds on 21 June, at 10 Casualty Clearing Station, Remy Siding, and was buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery, the second largest CWGC cemetery in Belgium, used by several medical units situated nearby. He was posthumously mentioned in despatched in December 1917. His death went unmentioned in the Brigade HQ war diary, and only one of the infantry battalions, 15 Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, mentions it in passing.

After the war his parents were instrumental in paying for a war memorial chapel in Bromley Parish Church. Sadly this was destroyed by German bombing in the Second World War. He is also commemorated on the main Bromely war memorial, a roll of honour at Croydon Minster, the war memorials at Pembroke College and Tonbridge School and the ringers’ roll of honour.

Schooling is a very hard name to search for, as you often find articles about schooling, rather than the particular individual. The only mentions of the surname in the Ringing World are Prudential adverts including the name of Frederick Schooling, and one mention when the roll of honour was being compiled trying to establish a particular tower for him. It appears no-one responded as, like most of the Cambridge University Guild men, no tower is listed on the roll as it exists today.

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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Diary entry written in pencil: "5/7/16 - 2 Lieut Saywood + 1 telephonist killed by a direct hit on a dug out at Infantry Brigade HQ in Sunken Road about 10 pm. A, B, C 95 cut wire on Quadrangle Trench.

Albert Arthur Stoner (1896-7 July 1916†)

Albert Arthur Stoner (see also his profile on Lives of the First World War) was born at Ifield in Sussex in early 1896 (or possibly late 1895), the birth was registered in the Steyning registration district in the first quarter 1896. His surname is occasionally given as Stonor.

He was the second child of Arthur Stoner and Emily Rosina (nee Lee), whose marriage was registered in the Horsham registration district in the third quarter 1893. His elder sister, Edith, was born in 1895 (or possibly 1894) in Horsham.

By 1901 the family had expanded further, with the addition of two more sisters, Emily Annie, born 3rd quarter 1897, and Alice, born about March 1901 (she is listed on the census taken on 31 March, but the birth wasn’t registered until the second quarter). On the census night the family were living at Jinnan’s Cottages, Ifield. Albert, Emily and Alice are all listed as being born in Ifield. Arthur is shown as being 36, born Worth, Sussex, and a carter on a farm, Emily was 32 and born in Horsham. A final sister, Lily, was born in early 1904 in Burstow.

By 1911 the family were living at Bridgecham Cottage, Burstow. Arthur was now a garden labourer. Albert had found work as an officer boy at a builder’s yard.

It’s not clear when Albert began ringing, no reports have been found until suddenly, in early 1914 he is shown ringing the treble to a peal of Grandsire Triples at Horley on 19 March 1914. The other ringers were J Kenward 2, A Streeter 3, H F Ewins 4, S Kenward 5, A Harman 6, O Gilbey 7, P Etheridge 8. Albert Streeter was a Redhill ringer, Henry Frederick Ewins (Reigate) and Harman another Burstow ringer. All three are listed on the roll of honour. And just two days later, a peal of Plain Bob Minor at St Bartholomew’s, Burstow on Saturday 21 March 1914. Albert A Stoner (treble), George Ellis (2), Alfred Wisden (3), Revd Edward J Teesdale (4), Charles Varo (5), Albert Harman (6). Teesdale was the Vicar of Burstow, Varo his gardener. As already mentioned Harman is also on the roll of honour, and so is Varo. It was the first peal of minor for Stoner and Wisden.

Stoner does not seem to have joined up immediately on the outbreak of war, the amount of war gratuity paid out to his estate suggests an enlistment date in December 1914, and The Ringing World has him in a roll of honour list published on 25 December 1914 has him (with fellow Burstow ringer Maurice Sherlock) training at High Wycombe. He entered France on 10 September 1915, which fits with him being with 21 Division’s artillery, the exact unit was not stated then, and there were some reorganisations of the various artillery brigades, so he may not have been with 95 Brigade RFA as he was at the time of his death. The High Wycombe location for his initial training also fits with 21 Division. He was already a bombardier (then a rank carrying a single stripe, artillery had corporals in addition during the First World War, now a bombardier in the artillery is equivalent to corporals in other arms, and wears two stripes). If he’d carried on working in the builder’s office after 1911 he would presumably have had a good degree of literacy and numeracy, and potentially have been used to calculating the quantities of materials that need to be ordered and so on, all things that would have been useful to an artillery NCO. He even have had some experience of using a telephone

21 Division had a baptism of fire during the Battle of Loos, with the infantry being hard hit. Command of the division was then taken by Major General David Campbell. A cavalryman, he had begun the war commanding the 9th Lancers. He was a renowned trainer of men, just the man to rebuild the division after their initial shock, and restore their reputation. They would not have to wait long to return to action. The Chantilly Conference in November 1915 had agreed a joint Allied offensive should take place in 1916. From the start of February 1916 this became more critical as the French came under increasing pressure at Verdun, leading to more of the combined British and French part of the offensive falling on British shoulders. The two armies joined where the front crossed a river in Picardy, the Somme, so it was around the Somme valley that the offensive was to take place.

For the artillery the battle started on 24 June when a bombardment on an unprecedented scale began. A series of posts on the Mitcham War Memorial blog put this into context well, from the point of view of an artilleryman in 96 Brigade, RFA, also part of 21 Division’s artillery complement. The series starts with a post called The Somme Centenary (follow the links at the bottom of each post, pointing right, the next is The “Big Push” is coming….

The infantry assault began on 1 July, and as has been well rehearsed over recent days the British Army suffered almost 60,000 casualties that first day, with close to 20,000 of those being killed. The battle did not stop there though, and the artillery had to continue supporting the ongoing offensive. On 5 July, 95 Brigade were assigned to cutting wire around the positions known to the British as The Quadrangle which guarded the approach to Mametz Wood (see trench map).

It seems that Stoner was accompanying Second Lieutenant Charles Saywood who was acting as a forward observation officer. The war diary says:

The Sunken Road was probably the one running north from Fricourt (there are several around the area). The description of the other rank as a telephonist is interesting, adding to our knowledge of Stoner’s role. The reason it seems reasonable to assume that the telephonist was Stoner is that Stoner and Saywood lie in adjacent graves in Norfolk Cemetery, Bécordel-Bécourt. Stoner is in I. C. 92. and Saywood in I. C. 93.

Both have beautiful headstone inscriptions. Stoner’s reads “In ever loving memory of our only son & brother”, while Saywood’s is “A brave and gallant soldier beloved by all”. While Stoner was just 20, had joined only for the war, Saywood was 37 and a veteran soldier. He joined the Royal Artillery in 1898 and served in the Second Boer War with A Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, receiving the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for the Battle of the Tugela Heights and the Relief of Ladysmith. In the interwar years he served with Y Battery, with service in South Africa and India, and was steadily promoted until he reached serjeant. He had married Norfolk girl Mabel Margaret Dawes in Potchefstroom, South Africa on 4 May 1909. At the 1911 census both were in barracks at Mhow, India.

Perhaps frustrated by his battery remaining in India at the outbreak of war it appears that Saywood volunteered to return to England to train newly raised artillery units. He was posted to the artillery of 24 Division on 18 November 1914. He was commissioned on 6 March 1915, and probably posted at that time to 97th Brigade, RFA (also part of 21 Division’s artillery). For a while he was a temporary captain while commanding a brigade ammunition column (which brigade is not clear). He reverted to second lieutenant on 21 May 1916 when the ammunition arrangements were altered and a single divisional ammunition column formed.

Perhaps there was a bit of fellow feeling between the two men, Saywood is shown as having been a clerk before his original enlistment.

Stoner does not seem to have left a will. The Soldier’s Effects register shows all monies owing (£5 19S 6d on his account, and £8 as a war gratuity) were paid to his father. It’s not clear if any of his sisters married, the surname Stoner is quite common in Sussex, and their forenames are also fairly common. His father seems to have died around 1923, his mother possibly about 1943.

Thomas James Coppard (1871 – September 1925)

Thomas James Coppard (see also his page on Lives of the First World War) was the second child of Edward Coppard and Est[h]er Elizabeth nee Botting (the spelling of her name varies between sources as to whether the h appeared in Esther).

His parents had married at St Mary’s, Bletchingley on 30 May 1868, both were Bletchingley born and bred. At the time of their marriage, Edward was a general labourer, he could only make his mark, rather than sign, in the register. His father, Thomas, was also a labourer. Ester was the daughter of James Botting, a blacksmith, she could sign her name, but the rather scratchy and blotted signature doesn’t suggest a great deal of comfort in using a pen. Their ages are not given in the register, just that they were of “full age” (ie over 21). Their first child, Alice Hannah, arrived in early 1869, she was baptised in St Mary’s on 25 April 1869. The 1871 census was taken on 2 April, it was some time after that that Thomas was born, he was baptised at St Mary’s on 27 August.

The family was enlarged over the next few years with the arrival of Albert Edward (baptised 31 May 1874), Ellen Elizabeth (baptised 26 November 1876) and Kate Isabel (baptised 27 April 1879). At the 1881 census the family were living at Tilgate Cottages, Bletchingley. Edward was 36 and a general labourer, Esther, 38. More children followed over the next ten years, Minnie Gertrude (baptised 26 February 1882), Edwin George (baptised March 1885) and finally Charles Botting Coppard, born 24 November 1888 and baptised on 30 December.

At the 1891 census the family were still at Tilgate Cottages, Barfields, Bletchingley. Thomas was now 19 and working as a domestic groom. Alice Hannah, Albert Edward and Ellen Elizabeth weren’t in the family home, the rest of the children were still too young to work.

Thomas James Coppard and Mary Ann Jones married at St Mary’s on 30 December 1894. He was 23, and now a labourer, she was 19. Her father, William Henry Jones had been a labourer, but was deceased. The witnesses were Charles Overy and Alice Hannah Overy – Thomas’s brother-in-law and sister who had married just over a year previously on 26 December 1893. Thomas and Mary’s first child arrived just four months later, on 28 April 1895. He was hastily baptised (privately) on 29 April, but died the following day. He was buried in the churchyard on 4 May.

The following year, Louisa Annie Coppard was born to the couple on 3 June 1896, and baptised on 28 June. From the following year, Thomas begins to appear in the electoral registers, showing that they were living in Tilgate Cottages still (probably a different cottage to his parents though). A third child, Albert Henry, arrived on 6 February 1898, and was baptised on 24 April, he was followed by Francis James on 2 September 1899 (baptised 26 November). It was just over a week before Francis’s baptism that we have the first evidence so far found of Thomas as a ringer, when he is listed as ringing the third to a peal of Grandsire Triples at Bletchingley on 18 November 1899. He had presumably started ringing a little while before this, but no earlier reports have yet been found.

1900 brought more sorrow, with the death of a second child in infancy, with Albert Henry dying early in the year, he was buried in the churchyard on 1 February 1900. Their second daughter, Elsie Elizabeth, arrived on 18 February 1901. The 1901 census was taken on 31 March, the family are shown at 3 Tilgate Cottages. Thomas (now 29) is shown as a bricklayer’s labourer. No occupation is given for Mary, unsurprisingly given the recent birth of Elsie. Florence Gertrude (or May – Gertrude in his army record, May in the baptismal record) was born on 3 October 1903, and baptised on 29 October. She was followed the next year by Edward George on 30 October (baptised 29 January 1905), then Arthur William on 23 February 1907 (baptised 31 March) and Leonard Charles on 1 September 1908 (baptised 25 October). On the occasion of this last baptism, Thomas’s occupation is for the first time given as painter.

At the 1911 census the family were still at Tilgate Cottages, Thomas is listed as a house painter, no occupation is given for Mary, and the children were all still of school age except Lousia Annie who was working as a general servant for the Legg family at Newlands, Bletchingley. Archie Legg (28) is described as a grocer and draper, with him are his wife Ethel Kate, their son William Gregory (1) and Ethel’s younger brother William Geoffrey (15). They’d been married for 2 years, and had had another child who had died before the census. Later that year Thomas and James had another son, Richard Frederick, on 11 October 1911. In 1913 the family moved to Bank Cottages, Bletchingley. On 5 July 1914, their last child, Jack Stanley, was born – just under a month before the outbreak of war.

Thomas joined up at Reigate on 7 November 1914. He joined the 7th Supernumerary Company of the 2/5th Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). Supernumerary companies were raised by several Territorial Force battalions, initially for those registered as part of the Territorial Force Reserve or National Reserve, little more than lists of men held by the county territorial associations of those who had previous military experience. Thomas states he had 8 years’ service with the Volunteers. No other evidence of this has yet been found, and the use of the term Volunteers implies it was prior to 1908 when the Territorial Force was created. The surviving portions of his record are rather sketchy, so it’s difficult to work out exactly what his service entailed especially for the first couple of years. The supernumerary companies were mostly employed on the defence of strategic points (such as railway bridges), and in guarding POWs. In late 1916 he was posted to 41 Protection Company as the supernumerary companies were brought together to form the Royal Defence Corps, his duties would have remained much the same. From a subsequent medical report it seems he has based at Barking around February 1917 and this was when he began to develop myalgia and rheumatism. A further reorganisation saw him posted to 6th Battalion RDC on 11 August 1917. On 24 August he was examined by No 4 Travelling Medical Board at Dovercourt (on the coast of north Essex) and placed in the medical category CIII (the lowest) – presumably he was based somewhere in that area at the time. On 27 February 1918 he again went before a medical board, this time an invaliding board at Felixstowe. This recommended his discharge on the basis of the rheumatism and myalgia he had developed back in February 1917. The board originally rated him at under 20% disabled, when his discharge was finalised this was set at 10%. As a result, rather than an ongoing pension, he was paid a lump sum of £37 15 shillings (this accounted for his disability and dependent children Florence, Edward, Arthur, Leonard, Richard and Jack). He left the army in London on 20 March 1918 after 3 years, 134 days service.

The marriage of his daughter Louisa Annie to another of the Bletchingley ringers, Horace Gordon Kirby, was registered in the 3rd quarter 1920.

Despite is discharge on the grounds of ill-health he seems to have subsequently become a more active ringer than he had been previously. He rang a quarter peal on 14 May 1921 for the wedding of another Bletchingley ringer, C V Risbridger, seven of the eight ringers are listed on the roll of honour: G Kirby treble, S J Coppard [sic – but no ringer known with those initials, so presumably Thomas J] on 3rd, L F Goodwin 2nd, A Wood 4th, A Cheesman 5th, W Cheesman 6th, W J Wilson. Over the next three years he rang three more recorded pieces of ringing (each of Grandsire Triples), a quarter peal on 20 November 1921 (with G Kirby Treble, L F Goodwin 2nd, W J Wilson 3rd, A Wood 4th, T J Coppard 5th, F Balcombe 6th from the roll of honour), another quarter peal for Easter Day 1922 (Treble G Kirby, 2 L F Goodwin, 3 A Wood, 4 W Mayne junr, 5 T J Coppard, 6 F Balcombe (conductor), 7 W J Wilson, 8 J Balcombe) a peal on 12 May 1922 (with Gordon H Kirby Treble (1st peal), George F Hoad 4th, Albert E Wood 5th, Thomas J Coppard 6th all on the roll of honour) and a quarter peal on 28 October 1923 (with L Goodwin 2nd, W T Beeson junr 3rd, W Wilson 5th, T Coppard 6th from the roll of honour).

Thomas died aged 54 in September 1925 at Redhill Hospital and was buried in “Centre Old Cemetery”, grave reference D3, on 22 September 1922. Mary survived him and continued living at Bank Cottages, she died on 22 January 1933 and was interred in the same plot on 26 January.

Frederick George Balcombe (1876-1958)

Born in 1876, Frederick George Balcombe, was the son of John and Jane Balcombe, both natives of Bletchingley whose marriage was registered in 1872. At times the surname is given as Balcomb, and it appears this was also Jane’s maiden name. It appears John was probably married before, the birth of a son John Christopher had been registered in the 3rd quarter 1870. At the 1881 census, John, Jane, John Christopher, Frederick and 8 month old Clara Florence were living at Dormers, Bletchingley. John was a labourer in the local quarry (described as stone pits).

By 1891, the family had moved to Stychens (still in Bletchingley). John Christopher had now moved out. John (39) was still a “quarryman stone”, Jane was now 37. Frederick, just 14, was general labourer. Clara was a 10-year-old scholar, two younger sisters had now joined the family, Alice Mary (birth registered 4th quarter 1884), and Lilian Jane (birth registered 3rd quarter 1889). It was probably also about this time that Frederick started ringing. He rang his first quarter peal (the third to Grandsire Triples) on Christmas Day 1894, “Jno Balcomb”, presumably his father John, was ringing the treble. He rang another on 13 February 1897, again the third to Grandsire Triples. On Easter Monday 1898 (16 April) Frederick was named among the newly elected members of the Surrey Association, at a quarterly meeting at Betchworth. He rang his first peal on 12 November 1898, once again ringing the third to Grandsire Triples, another Bletchingley ringer on the roll, William Mayne was also ringing. He rang another on 25 November 1899, again with William Mayne, and also George F Hoad (Reigate) and Thomas Coppard (Bletchingley).

Frederick George Balcombe married Kate House at St Mary’s Bletchingley on 11 December 1899. On 21 July 1900 a Surrey Association held a meeting at Bletchingley, the notices published beforehand indicate that those wanting tea at the meeting should send their names to “Mr Fred Balcombe”, Stychens Cottages, Bletchingley – suggesting he was acting as tower secretary at Bletchingley. At the 1901 census he and Kate were living at 9 Stychens, Bletchingley. He was now 24 and working as a house painter – 5 out of the 11 ringers who went to war from Bletchingley had this as their occupation. No other records have been found for him until the 1911 census, when he and Kate were still at Stychens, and he was still a house painter. Now living with them was Reginald Cooper (5), described as an adopted son, born in Fulham.

On 30 April Frederick rang the 6th to a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples at Godstone. J Balcombe (his father John, still ringing?) rang the treble, also ringing were L Goodwin, G Potter (both Bletchingley) and W T Beeson jr (Godstone), all listed on the roll of honour. There was also a visitor in the quarter, Corpl W Cockings. No details as to his unit are stated, but the most likely candidate appears to be William Cockings of the Bedfordshire Regiment, originally from Turvey.

The Surrey Recruitment Registers show that F G Balcombe, a painter aged 40 years and 3 months attested at Guildford on 31 July 1917. He was described as being 5’6″, weighed 210lbs and had a 42″ chest with 2″ expansion. On enlistment he joined the 26th Training Reserve Battalion. Given his age it is perhaps unsurprising that the next surviving record relates to his discharge. He was discharged on 14 December 1918 due to sickness – he had not served overseas. At the time of his discharge he was a sapper in the Inland Waterways and Docks section of the Royal Engineers. There is no further information as to his role, but given his civilian occupation, it seems reasonably likely he would have been painting the boats used by the Royal Engineers.

After the war he does not appear to have rung any further peals or quarter peals – in fact there is no definite proof of any further ringing. However, electoral rolls mean we can trace his movements in general. In autumn 1919 he and Kate were still at Stychens, and the same again up until at least 1923. In 1924 they were registered at Hill Top, Caterham. By 1934 they had moved to The Garage, Old Quarry Hall, Bletchingley (there were also a Leonard and Annie Elizabeth Balcombe at Old Quarry Hall Cottage, but it is not clear if they were related at all). They were still there at the outbreak of war in 1939. From 1938 Bletchingley’s bells were out of action until 1948 after death watch beetle was found in the oak beams of the bell frame (restoration was presumably slowed by the war). By 1945 Frederick and Kate were living at 236 Wapses Lodge, Caterham. Fred died on 12 October 1958, and was buried in the churchyard at Bletchingley on 16 October. The burial records show his address at death as 236 Croydon Road, Caterham (given the identical street number, possibly this is actually the same address as 1945).

Balcombe is the first man where the main details of his life can be found in Lives of the First World War rather than in this blog. His profile can be found here