Streeter family update

After I published the original post on the Streeter brothers I was contacted by their relative Christine Johnson, and she supplied photos from the family album, with permission to use them. It’s taken a while for me to have chance to research further around them, but here they are.

Firstly, the original of the image that appeared in The Ringing World and local newspapers after Albert’s death, and the memorial card created by the fmaily:

Then an image of William jr:

A man shown full length, wearing army uniform, he has his right hand on a prop garden wall. A background behind him (probably a painted cloth) shows a formal garden scene

William Streeter jr in the uniform of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), recognisable by the Lamb and Flag cap badge, standing in front of a studio background. He’s carrying a walking out cane, and has some sort of braid over his left shoulder, these may also be studio props. Probably taken shortly after joining up in about September 1914, or just before he was posted to France, he arrived there on 1 June 1915

There’s a later image of William jr with his wife:

A man stands on the left of the photo, wearing army uniform. On his right sleeve, at the bottom are four overseas stripes, showing service outside the UK during the First World War, half way up the upper-arm is some sort of badge (not easily made out) an inch or two square. His shoulder titles are also not easy to make out, but do not appear to be very long. On the right is a seated woman, wearing a wedding dress, and a ring on the ring finger of each hand. On his left breast he has a single medal ribbon, probably that of the 1914-15 Star

William Streeter jr pictured with his wife, Susannah “Nessie” Leaven, presumably on their wedding day, 26 April 1919.


With confirmation that he married, I was able to track down the marriage certificate. William Streeter (26, a soldier) and Susannah Leaven (22) on 26 Apr 1919 at Holy Trinity, Finchley. Fathers’ names William Streeter (recorded as a farmer, whether this was a misunderstanding by the vicar, or a deliberate attempt to “sanitise” the fact it was a sewage farm isn’t clear) and Abdy Leaven. The address for both is given as 9 Prospect Place. The second marriage recorded on the same page of Arthur Edgar Hill (20, a soldier) and Ellen Louisa Connor (20) who also both give their residence as 9 Prospect Place, one of their witnesses is Rhoda Streeter, sister of William, while one of William and Susannah’s witnesses is Dorothy Grace Hill, presumably a sister of Arthur. They had a son, Kenneth W, on 15 February 1927 in the Barnet registration district, and a daughter Binnie J, in Halstead, Essex, in 1933. By 1939 the family were living at Mount Pleasant, Stoke Goldington, Newport Pagnell. William’s death was registered in Northampton in the first quarter of 1967.

Perhaps most interesting were the photos of William sr, showing that he also served during the war:

I’ve not been able to find a matching profile on Lives of the First World War: given his age it seems likely that he would only have served in the UK, so he would not have been eligible for campaign medals, and so would not have profile. This does though raise the possibility that it was actually William sr who is listed on the roll of honour, not William jr, although the unit is stated as Queen’s, not Royal Engineers. I never could find any evidence of William jr ringing in Surrey, and we can now see that he had moved away from the area straight after the war.

There was also a photo of him with the Redhill ringers in 1902 (I made use of this in the post on Henry John Dewey):

Five men standing and three seated, all wearing suits, and several with flowers in their lapels. They are arranged in front of a church doorway.

The ringers at St John’s, Redhill, when they rang to mark the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 9 August 1902. Edward Dewey is named as steeplekeeper, and is probably the man seated in the middle of the front row. The man at the right of the back row marked “My grandad” is William Streeter (father of the Streeter brothers).

Finally, some photos more closely related to other members of the family, a wedding photo of Ellen Jane Streeter and Augustine Chandler:

A group of people around a wedding couple, pictured in front of a large wooden door or gate in an ivy-clad brick wall. In the front are some children sitting or standing on the ground, then a row of seated adults, and a row of standing adults at the rear, just in front of the wall

The full wedding party for the wedding of Augustine “Austin” Chandler and Ellen Jane Chandler at Redhill on 17 June 1919

In the bottom right is a man in army uniform, cropping this section out for a closer view, it seems evident that this is William jr, with his father (William sr) to his immediate right, and then his wife Nessie. William jr’s shoulder titles now seem to be the later form of fusilier shoulder titles, with the flaming grenade now separated from the letters representing the regimental title.

Three adults in what are probably their best clothes, seated on wooden chairs, the man on the right is in army uniform, with the flaming grenade of a fusilier regiment just about visible on his collar strap. A young child is seated on the ground in front of them, and four other adults standing behind are partly visible

Crop from photo of the wedding of Augustine “Austin” Chandler to Ellen J Streeter: the seated adults are believed to be (from left to right) Susannah “Nessie” Leaven, William Streeter sr and William Streeter jr (compare with other named photos)

In addition to the photos I also tracked down a local newspaper account of the funeral of William sr in 1942, Surrey Mirror, 9 January 1942, p7:

THE LATE MR W STREETER.-The funeral took place on Wednesday of Mr William Streeter, who passed away, following upon a fall, at 9 Park-lane, Coulsdon, the home of his son, on December 31st, at the age of 71. Mr Streeter was for many years in the employ of the Reigate Town Council at the Corporation Farm. He was conscientious in the discharge of his duties, and was much respected. He was also a member of St John’s Church bellringers for many years. His wife predeceased him in 1935. The funeral service was held at Reigate Parish Church, the Vicar (the Rev R Talbot) officiating, and the internment was in the family grave in Reigate Cemetery. The mourners were: – Mr W Streeter (son), Mr and Mrs R T Streeter (son and daughter-in-law), Mr and Mrs G Chandler [sic] (son-in-law and daughter), Messrs G and S Streeter (sons), and Mr and Mrs R L Taylor (son-in-law and daughter). There were a number of beautiful flowers.

The 1939 Register shows that William sr was living with the Chandlers at 1 Holmside Cottage, Dorking Urban District, Surrey, England when the register was compiled on 29 September.

To bring the First World War service of the family together, I’ve created an additional community in Lives of the First World War for the member’s of the family who served. Hopefully I’ll be able to create a profile for William sr at some point.

Advertisements
An off-white headstone with a slightly curved top, a regimental badge above the details of Sydney Smith, with a cross below, and the inscription chosen by his family

Stanley Smith (14 January 1896 – 18 March 1917†), Mitcham

Stanley Smith (Lives profile) was the youngest child of William Shipp Smith and Ellen, nee Dench. His father was also a ringer, and quite a prolific conductor for the Surrey Association in its relatively early days, and was also a composer.

William and Ellen married at Stephen’s, Twickenham, on 15 September 1889. William was then 22 and a carpenter, Ellen was the same age. They were both living at 6 Sandycoombe Road, just a short distance from the church. Ellen must already have been heavily pregnant as their first child, William Thomas Smith, was born less than a month later, on 8 October 1889. By the time he was baptised at St Mary’s Twickenham (the original parish church) on the family were living at the Mission House. The 1891 census tells us that this was on Church Lane, right next to St Mary’s. As the next property listed on the census returns was the Queen’s Head (now the Barmy Arms), this suggests the Mission House was perhaps on the site now occupied by the Mary Wallace Theatre. Shortly before the census Ellen Ethel Smith had arrived on 1 February 1891, she was baptised on census day, 5 April 1891, both the baptismal record and census entry agreeing on the Mission House as the family’s residence. The census lists Ellen’s mother, Mary A Dench as head of the household. She was a 65-year-old widow and a laundress. Her son (Ellen’s brother), Henry, a 40-year-old painter was also living in the household, along with William (still a carpenter), Ellen, and the two children. Based on later censuses, the birthplaces of Henry and William appear to have been accidentally switched, this census indicates that Henry was born in Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, and William in Twickenham, it seems far more likely that William was born in Paulerspury and Henry in Twickenham like his mother and sister and the two children. There’s at least one report of William ringing while in Twickenham (Bell News, 9 August 1890, p241 reports W Smith of Twickenham joining various visiting Surrey ringers on 19 July). The very common surname makes an exhaustive search extremely time consuming. There were also bells in Paulerspury, so he could have learnt to ring there.

Some time in the next five years the family moved to Wimbledon. Stanley was born there on 14 January 1896, and baptised at Holy Trinity, South Wimbledon, on 22 February, the family’s address is recorded in the register as 121 Russell Road. Bell News suggests the move could have been as early as 1893 with reports then and in 1894 of W S Smith ringing at Wimbledon (18 July 1893, p201 reports ringing on 28 April 1893 and 14 May 1894, p113 reports ringing on various dates in April). Despite these early connections with the tower at Wimbledon, William seems to have been mostly associated with Mitcham, which had a strong band at this time, eventually becoming steeplekeeper. Since he was a carpenter he may also have been working for the ringing master there, J D Drewett, who ran a local building firm (he was also a local councillor and Master of the Surrey Association).

By 1901 the family seem to have moved just next door, to 123 Russell Road (or there may have been some renumbering). William was still a carpenter, no occupation is given for any of the other family members, they still have Ellen’s mother living with them too. There also seems to be a second family (the Robins) living in the same house (and the same can be seen for all the nearby houses), so 9 people in total in the property.

Sadly William Thomas Smith died in the first half of 1909, aged 19. I’ve not managed to find any details beyond the index entry for the death registration in the 2nd quarter of 1909 in the Kingston registration district. The 1911 census indicates that William and Ellen had had 3 children, one of whom had died, which was the first indication I found of the death of William Thomas. The family were then still at 123 Russell Road, now just the four of them (though there was still another household recorded at the same address too). William was still a carpenter, Ethel Ellen had become a female sorter in the Civil Service, possibly in the Saving Bank Department (“S Bank Dept” appears to be what’s recorded against her entry), Stanley was an assistant in a warehouse.

Stanley did not rush to the colours at the outbreak of war. He enlisted, or rather was conscripted, on 30 August 1916. He made his attestation at Wimbledon, he was now a timekeeper, 5’6″ tall, weighed 122 pounds, and had a 36″ chest (with 3″ of expansion). He joined 4th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. It seems likely that he had some time on Army Reserve B awaiting his call-up proper. He managed to ring his first (and only) quarter peal at Mitcham on 17 September 1917. After his training with 4th Battalion, he joined 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment in France, probably in early 1917. This was the battalion in which the playwright, R C Sherriff, was an officer. Transcripts of his letters home, which provide some insight into what the battalion faced can be found on Roland Wales’ website under R C Sherriff’s Letters from France. It was a cold winter, with a lot of snow. By March though the battalion were based in Cité Colonne, near Loos, where the front line went through small villages, so the men could find shelter in what was left of the houses.

An off-white headstone with a slightly curved top, a regimental badge above the details of Sydney Smith, with a cross below, and the inscription chosen by his family

Stanley Smith’s grave in Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery British Extension, courtesy of Alan Regin ©

Early 1917 is also described in the book The Journey’s End battalion, the 9th East Surrey in the Great War. Stanley seems to have been rather unlucky, the battalion suffered only 5 deaths in March 1917, 3 of them were on 18 March, Herbert Lewis Reynolds and William John Woodall being killed with him on that day and Fred Cyril Benham died of wounds the following day. No particular mention is made in the war diary, except that the four men are listed as casualties of the 18 March in the appendix for the month. The brief obituary published in The Ringing World on 13 April 1917 states that he was killed instantly by a shell (though such reports have to be taken with a pinch of salt, those writing home often wishing to spare the families full details). Stanley was buried in Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, British Extension with Reynolds and Woodall either side of him. After the war the family had the inscription “Thou gav’st thyself for me, give myself to thee” added to his headstone, the last two lines of the hymn “Thy Life was giv’n for me”, words by Frances Ridley Havergal.

The Mitcham ringers rang a half-muffled quarter peal of Stedman Triples in his memory on 1 April 1917, the band was A J Lambert 1, J D Drewett 2, C Dean 3, C W R Grimwood 4, A Calver 5, T Steers 6, W H Joiner (conductor) 7, J Currell 8. Calver and Joiner would also serve.

In 1919 Stanley was among the ringers commemorated at the National Ringers’ Memorial Service at St Clement Danes on 22 February. Then on Easter Day (20 April) the Mitcham ringers unveiled a memorial to the three Mitcham ringers killed in the ringing chamber at Mitcham. This was reported in The Ringing World:

WAR MEMORIAL AT MITCHAM.
TABLET UNVEILED IN THE BELFRY.
On Easter Day, before the evening service at the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Mitcham, the Rev C Aubrey Finch (Vicar), Alderman R M Chart, Dr T Cato Worsfold (churchwardens), Mr J D Drewett, Master, Surrey Association and Mitcham Society, and members of the Mitcham Society, together with relatiyes and friends, assembled in the church tower for the purpose of unveiliug and dedicating a marble tablet erected in the belfry to the sacred memory of those members of the society who fell in action during the war. The tablet which is the gift of Mr J D Drewett, whose son is among the fallen, is of an appropriate design and noble character, inscribed as follows –

“Sacred to the memory of members of the Mitcham Society and Surrey
Association of Change Ringers who fell in action in the Great War,
1914-1918
Douglas Walter Drewett, 1st Cameron Highlanders, killed in action, October 31st, 1918
Benjamin Arthur Morris, 4th Coldstream Guards, killed in action, November 28th, 1917
Stanley Smith, 9th East Surreys, killed in action, March 18th 1917
They died that we might live.
Rest in Peace.”

It is proposed to establish a fund in connection with the memorial, the money to be invested, and any interest that may accrue therefrom is to be used for the purpose of assisting any member of the Mitcham Society who may be in need of help.

Unfortunately this does not seem to have survived, on a visit a few years ago I noticed that there are still large brackets on the wall that could have supported a marble tablet. On 6 September Ethel Ellen married Richard Pethybridge, a widower with children and 13 years her senior. He is probably the same as the R Pethybridge ringing with her father in the earliest reports of William ringing at Wimbledon. Ethel does not seem to have had any children of her own.

The centenary of Stanley’s death was marked with a quarter peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major at Mitcham on 17 March 2017.

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.
Continue reading

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.

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.