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Bells for St George’s, Ypres — an update

A follow up to my original post about the installation of a ring in Ypres.

The bells have now been cast, as described in a local newspaper report. They will be on display, in their frame as part of a foundry open day at John Taylor & Co, Loughborough on Saturday 29 July 2017 10.30 – 17.00. After that the frame will be disassembled and everything will be transported to Ieper. My understanding is that the bells are expected to be ringing in time for Remembrance Sunday this year. 

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.

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.

The Somme begins

07:30 (on the new “summer time”) approaches. There’s a subtle shift in the sound of the gunfire and shell explosions as the guns shift their targets along the 14 mile British section of the trench. The ground shakes, and an immense roar goes up as huge mines are exploded under sections of the German lines: some of the largest man made (non-nuclear) explosions ever.
Then officers blow their whistles, men clamber up ladders onto the parapet of their trenches, and begin to move into no man’s land. 
Soon almost 20,000 will be dead, and adding the wounded, prisoners and missing, the casualty list reaches towards 60,0000.
Men of the Surrey Association must have been among those taking part in the advance, though I’ve not attempted to draw up a list (and none of those on the roll of honour died that day). Certainly (as we shall see in a few days) they have been involved in the preliminary bombardment and other supporting roles. 

Of the wider set of Surrey ringers only Sidney Bowler Weatherston of Southwark will fall this day. But after today there will still be 140 more days of fighting before the generals call time on the Battle of the Somme. 

A blog post elsewhere and new sources for Sutton

Earlier this week, with my work hat on, I published a post on The National Archives’ blog, looking at the centenary of the institution of the Military Medal. It gives background info on the medal, and how it came into being.

Also this week has seen the release of various digitised records from Sutton Archives, including parish records, electoral registers, and water rates. More details are given in the archives’ press release (as ever subscription, or access via a subscribing institution, are required). These are obviously potentially very useful for this project. I’ve not had time for in depth investigations yet, but even a quick look shows the marriage certificate for Walter Hodges. This confirms he married Henrietta Russell, and gives the exact date, 26 December 1913, location, St Barnabas’ Church, Sutton, and the fact he was a postman at the time of his marriage (which opens up further research in the postal appointment books). Another example is the burial record for John Webb, which adds the detail that he died at a VAD hospital in Ashford. At some point I will have to revisit the profiles of the men from Beddington and Benhilton in detail in view of these new sources, and of course there is still the men of Carshalton to be researched.

Joseph Abbott (25 July 1874–27 September 1915†)

Joseph Abbott (see also his page on Lives of the First World War) was the son of Alfred Abbott and Amy nee Gibbs – their marriage was registered in the East Grinstead registration district in the second quarter 1874, and Joseph was born in Merstham on 25 July 1874, and baptised at St Katharine’s on 4 October 1874. By the 1881 census the family were living at 6 Orchard Road, Merstham, Alfred (28, from High Wycombe) was a general labourer, Amy, now 29, was originally from Worth in Sussex. By 1891 Joseph was a 16-year-old shop porter, and the family were now living at Monson Road, Redhill. By 1896 he may have returned to Merstham as there is a Joseph Abbott listed in the 1896 electoral rolls for the Reigate constituency living in Merstham.

Joseph married Lizzie Peers on Christmas Day 1899, and a son Alfred Joseph was born just four months later, on 26 April 1900 (it seems they had rather anticipated their marriage!). He was baptised on 27 May at which time the family were living at Bourne Road, South Merstham. By 1901 the couple and their son were living at Park Stile, Merstham. Joseph was now a labourer in the lime works. A daughter, Clara, was born on 5 November 1902 and baptised on 24 November 1902, their address was recorded as 6 Park Stile Cottages. Sadly Clara Abbott was just 8 months old when she died and was buried on 13 July 1903 in the churchyard of Merstham, St Katharine. Her address is given as 4 Quarry Cottages, Limeworks, Merstham. Another son, Jack, followed on 18 June 1904 (baptised 26 June 1904). He was followed by a daughter, Ivy May, on 29 April 1906 (baptised 24 June 1906), then two more sons, Albert Edward and James on 5 May 1908 (baptised 28 June 1908) and 21 February 1910 (baptised 24 April 1910) respectively. By 1911 Joseph was a lime burner, and the family were still living at 4 Quarry Cottages, Merstham (the same address is given for all the later children’s baptisms too, and in electoral register entries from 1905 to 915). The census details also tell us that the couple had had two other children who had died before the census was taken, one of these was Clara, the second still ahs not been identified, possibly she died before she could be baptised, and so was not buried in consecrated ground either (or the transcription of the records is such I have not tracked it down).

Joseph did not immediately rush to the colours immediately on the outbreak of war. It was around November 1914 that he enlisted in Redhill. 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards had been formed at Marlow around September, it’s not clear whether he was posted to that battalion immediately, or trained at a depot first. The battalion was posted to France on 15 August 1915, joining Third Guards Brigade, Guards Division on 19 August. Joseph’s medal card indicates he was with the battalion on arrival. Just over a month later they were in action. Joseph was killed on 27 September one of 342 casualties in the battalion’s attack on Hill 70 during the Battle of Loos. He made a soldier’s will, leaving everything to Lizzie. His Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry shows that she remarried quite quickly, and registration data shows that this was on 4 February 1918. She married a man named Arthur Wood, quite possibly the man who was living with his parents, 3 brothers and a nephew at 1 Quarry Cottages in 1911: his age and occupation in 1911 are consistent with the details in the marriage register.

While a small pension would have been paid to her while she remained a widow, such remarriages were not uncommon when women still had young children to provide for. There is no mention of Abbott’s ringing activities in the ringing newspapers before the war.

A year after his father had gone to France, Alfred Joseph Abbott entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class (he would have needed Lizzie’s permission to join up). He continued serving into the 1930s, and returned to service in the Second World War.

The present Merstham ringers rang a quarter peal on 25 September 2015 to commemorate the centenary of Joseph Abbott’s death.

First World War commemoration concert, Teddington 13/12/2014

Concert poster. All details are in the post belo

Concert poster. Thanks to Andrew Holmes for the photo of Ovillers Military Cemetery

On 13 December 2014 Twickenham Choral Society are giving a First World War centenary commemoration concert at the Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, starting at 19:30. The programme comprises Domenico Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater, Iain Farrington’s The Burning Heavens (which sets several of Siegfried Sassoon’s war poems) and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem.

As a 2nd tenor in the choir, I’ve written the programme notes for the concert. These look at the music in the concert, Vaughan Williams’ war service, and some of the effects of the war on the local area. In that context I’ve taken a brief look at the service of a few local men, and so I’ve smuggled in one of the men named on the Surrey Association roll of honour, John Harley Bridges Hesse (Kingston) as before he was commissioned in to the Army Service Corps he was a Teddington resident.

I’ve also created a community on Lives of the First World War to group together all the men whose service gets a mention in the programme. This also includes the choir’s second conductor, Charles Thornton Lofthouse who served as an officer in the Manchester Regiment.

Tickets are available via the Landmark Arts Centre website.