Category Archives: 1st Battalion

William Maynard (3 July 1887-25 September 1915†)

William Maynard (or Lives of the First World War) was the son of William Maynard senior and Elizabeth, nee Whitmore who had married around 1884. William was born on 3 July 1887, and baptised at St John’s Redhill on 21 August. Possibly a sister Lilian was born 25 June 1890. At the 1891 census, and for several years after, the family lived at 8 Lower Road, Meadvale. The household at this time comprised William, his father and mother, and a boarder, William Whitmore – presumably in fact Elizabeth’s father. There is no sign of Lilian – the only Lilian Maynard in the area is the daughter of another William and Elizabeth Maynard at Pimlico Cottages, Nutfield, so possibly she was not a sister of William at all.

A brother James George was born 24 September 1891 and another sister, Elizabeth Kate “Kitty” was born 12 December 1894. By 1901 it seems that his mother was ill, while the 1901 census records the rest of the family (or at least the two Williams and James – it is not clear where Kitty was) at 8 Lower Road. Elizabeth appears to be at the Victorian and Surrey Homes, Bognor. Sadly she died later in the year, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary, Reigate on 18 September 1901. In 1901 William junior is recorded as working as a grocer’s errand boy.

William senior remarried quite soon afterwards (it was not easy being a single father with young children), to Annie Back (31) at St Matthew, Redhill, on 1 November 1902. More family tragedy was to follow, Annie had a son (a half-brother to William junior), Harold Herbert Back Maynard, on 3 December 1905, but sadly he was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Reigate, on 15 September 1906. Annie had another child, a daughter, Eveline in 1908. The family had now moved to 75 St John’s Redhill.

When William junior actually started ringing isn’t clear, but he is reported as ringing the treble to a Quarter Peal of Grandsire Triples at Redhill on Sunday 8 January 1911, along with W Streeter, E Harman, A Gear, A Bashford, G Croucher, H Card and H Edwards. Other reports suggest that Redhill were only just trying to build a band at this stage.

By the 1911 census in early April William junior had become a carpenter and joiner, and the family were now living at 1 Lavender Cottage, Masons Road, Redhill. William senior was a brick maker and James a bricklayer’s labourer. Kitty is shown as a worker, but with no specific occupation.

With the outbreak of war, William did not join up immediately, and it was only on 12 or 13 January that he travelled to Guildford to enlist with the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), becoming Private G/4189 (the G standing for General Service, indicating a wartime enlistment). His own service record does not survive, but those of 4187 Henry David Witham and 4196 John Allen did, and allow us to conclude when he enlisted. It is also based on those records that it seems that he trained with 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in Rochester until around April when he was posted to the 1st Battalion in France. Their war diary records the arrival of a draft of 1 serjeant and 59 privates on 25 April, when the battalion was at Bethune, and of 50 NCOs and men on 8 May when they were at Le Hamel. It is probable that William was in one of these two drafts (having spent some time at an Infantry Base Depot on arrival in France). He would probably have seen action at the Battle of Aubers in May when they were part of 3 Brigade in 1st Division. This battle was a disaster for the British, the Queen’s were not among the hardest hit battalions as they were largely in reserve, as Corps troops for 1 Corps, under the direct control of the Corps Commander. They were in a similar position during the Battle of Festubert in the second half of May. June was a quiet month, and for part of July they were involved in improving the trench system between Cuinchy and Givenchy. Then came the news that there were to be posted to 5 Brigade which they joined at Bethune on 21 July. They moved into the trenches at Cuinchy on 25 July, and although a quiet period soon began to suffer casualties. For the remainder of July and August they went through the usual routine of swapping in and out of the line. This continued for the first part of September, but on 25 September they went into action as the Battle of Loos began, this was then the largest scale action by the British Army in the war to this point, and the first large scale use by the British of gas in an attack (this did not go entirely to plan as in some areas gas was blown back into the British trenches). The battalion was not in the first wave, but was soon committed. By the end of the day the battalion had 9 officers and 266 other ranks as casualties (killed, wounded or missing). They were far from the worst hit battalion. Among their casualties was William Maynard. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial. His war gratuity, just £3 (as he had less than one year’s service), was paid to his stepmother.

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Walter Eric Markey (1895-31 October 1914†)

Walter Eric Markey was born in early 1895, or possible very late in 1894 at Bexhill-on-Sea. His birth was registered in the Battle registration district in the 1st quarter 1895. His parents, Alfred Eric Markey and Emma Elizabeth (nee Snook) were both originally from Somerset, Penselwood and Wincanton respectively. Their marriage was registered in the 4th quarter 1891 in the Wincanton registration district. Their first child, Cicely Emma, was born in Wincanton in 1893.

Walter followed in 1895, then Samuel Robert in Sidley, a small village on the outskirts of Bexhill. In 1900, Beatrice Mary was born back in Bexhill itself. By the time of the 1901 census the family were living at Keepers Corner, Burstow, Surrey. Alfred is listed as a coachman. In 1902 (Bessie) Minnie was born in Copthorne, and (Jessie) Margaret there in 1905. Elsie Gwendoline was born in Burstow on 20 November 1907, followed by Ethel Winifred in early 1911. By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at Shipley Bridge, Burstow, Surrey. Alfred was still working as a coachman, and Walter was now following in his footsteps, working as a groom.

Sometime, probably in the second half of 1913 (based on the number issued to him) Walter joined The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), enlisting at the regimental depot in Guildford. By the outbreak of war he would have been a fully trained soldier, and went with the 1st battalion to France on 12 August 1914. They were heavily involved in the retreat from Mons and subsequent fighting. By 31 October 1914 the First Battle of Ypres was underway and the battalion was involved in the defence of Gheluvelt. The battalion was all but destroyed, with little more than a handful of men coming out of the line in early November. Walter was among those killed, his body was never recovered, and so he is commemorated on the Menin Gate. He was the first member of the Surrey Association to die in service.

The extent of his ringing career remains unclear, no reports of any ringing have yet been found. He presumably began ringing at Burstow in the years immediately before he joined the army. His death was not reported in the ringing press at the time, and does not appear to have been marked by the Burstow ringers. The only time his name does appear is in a report of a memorial service held at St Clement Danes on the Strand in London on 22 February 1919 for all the ringers killed in the war. As part of the service a roll of honour of ringers from “London and District” was read and he is listed as W Markey. Other services were held around the country on the same day, at Great St Mary’s in Cambridge, Sheffield Cathedral, Chester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral and SS Philip and Jude in Bristol. Sadly, after this his name seems to have undergone a process of chinese whispers in drawing up the Surrey Association roll of honour, and this then fed into the Central Council roll of honour. Names were listed surname, followed by initial. Markey W seems to have been misheard at some point and transformed into Mark E W, which led to considerable problems in confirming his identity. Walter Markey seemed to be the only plausible candidate, but until the report of the memorial service was found this could not be shown beyond doubt, particularly as his unit is also incorrectly recorded as Royal Garrison Artillery on the Surrey Roll.

Destination unknown

At 2pm they received a partial answer as they arrived at Southampton Docks and embarked on SS Braemar Castle along with the Welsh Regiment. They left the wharf at 20:15, still unsure of their final destination. Among those wondering what was in store for them would have been Walter Markey of Burstow. They would arrive at Le Havre at 11:00 on 13 August, where unloading took until 17:30, followed by a march to camp.

Meanwhile, with 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, Walter Hodges did not board a train until 00:30 on 13 August. It took them until 15:00 to reach Southampton, where the battalion embarked on two ships, Martaban and Appam. They arrived at Le Havre on 14 August and similarly moved to a rest camp.

(See WO 95/1280/1 and WO 95/1432/1 for more details.)