A logo with the words "Ringing for Peace - Armistice 100" and a swinging church bell

Ringing for peace – Armistice 100

Today and tomorrow bells around the country will ring, as they have done for almost a century, to mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Ringing is usually (as in the name of this blog) halfmuffled, reflecting the mourning feel of the day. However, 99 years ago, on that first Armistice Day the ringing was (largely) joyful.

Just announced is the initial news of the request for ringing for Armistice100 next year, coincidentally 11 November 2018 will be a Sunday so Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday will actually be a single day. The request is that ringing in the morning should be as usual, but if that is halfmuffled the bells should be rung open later in the day, reflecting more of that original mood.

That mood was of course not universal, many accounts of Wilfred Owen’s life mention that the bells of Oswestry were ringing to mark the Armistice when his mother received the news of his death. I’ve recently tracked down the Ringing World report of the quarter peal of Grandsire Triples rung there that day:

Oswestry, Salop. At the Parish Church, on Monday, November 11th a Quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples (1260 changes): G. Thompson 1, R T Evans 2, J Hughes 3, R Martin 4, R Edwards 5, G Williams 6, E Jones (conductor) 7, G Beaton 8.

Presumed to be the ringing that was taking place in Oswestry when the news of Wilfred Owen’s death was received by his mother in 1918. From The Ringing World, 13 December 1918, page 397 (or page 189 of this online PDF containing the issues from the second half of 1918)

In addition, part of the plan is to recruit 1400 new ringers over the next year to symbolically “replace” the 1400 ringers killed in the First World War and as far as possible to have them ringing on the day. The official launch was in yesterday’s Ringing World and has now been announced on the website of the Central Council for Church Bell Ringing where details of the plans can be found.

Tomorrow should also see media coverage with Alan Regin, Steward of the Rolls of Honour, talking on BBC Breakfast about some of the individual ringers killed, and pieces in some of the newspapers. Again, details are on the CCCBR website.

1918’s Ringing World shows several other stories that could easily be taken up today, for example the youngest ringer in 1918 appears to have been F C Daniels of Immanuel, Streatham (younger brother of Henry Vernon Daniels), while the oldest was 95-year-old John Heathorn of Guildford.

Photograph of young man in early 20th century New Zealand army uniform. Below the photo are his details: E Hamblin 42323, 3rd Auckland Company, 3rd Battalion, Auckland Regiment.

Centenary of the death of Ernest James Hamblin

For various reasons I’ve not had chance to build the profile of Ernest Hamblin yet (either here or on Lives) but I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago which set out the basic details of his life, including his emigration to New Zealand. He was killed in the Battle of Broodseinde, one of the more successful actions of the the Third Battle of Ypres.

The current Hersham band rang a peal midway between the centenaries of the deaths of Ernest James Hamblin and George Basil Edser (whose profile I’ve also not yet finished), on 2 September 2017. 

Another old dark green lorry, this one bearing the number 5304. Rather than a solid cab it has a canvas shade over the driver's position. It has four church bells on the flat bed behind the cab. The straps holding down the bells are decorated with poppies, and the bells also have some poppies painted on them.

Bells on their way to St George’s, Ypres

I’ve written a couple of posts about the ring of bells destined for St George’s Memorial Church Ypres (see original post and update). The bells were cast a few weeks ago, and formed one of the main attractions at the open day held by the Loughborough Bell Foundry, as shown in this tweet:

Today the bells left the foundry on the first stages of their journey to Ypres. Initially they went only as far as Queen’s Park, where they were displayed in front of the Loughborough Carillon. The carillon forms a war memorial to the men of Loughborough killed in the First World War. This included three sons of the Taylor family who owned the bell foundry. From there the bells are heading to the Great Dorset Steam Fair held over the Bank Holiday weekend. After that they will make their way to Ypres for hanging, being welcomed into the church on 31 August. The official opening will be on 22 October 2017. Details on the church’s website. One of the nice things about last Wednsday’s peal for George Honeyball was finally meeting Alan Regin, one of the trustees of this ptoject.

Why travelling via the steam fair, well they’ll be travelling on two 1915 army lorries, one a Dennis, the other a Thornycroft. Admittedly some of the time the lorries themselves will be travelling on a modern low loader, but as these photos kindly provided by Simon Westman of the bell foundry, they made an impressive sight at the foundry and in Queen’s Park this morning:

Some more photos here on the Facebook page “Old Glory Magazine”. Also another Facebook post with more photos, and also some video of the lorries moving around Queen’s Park and More video from the Loughborough Echo.

Photos of the bells’ future home, St George’s Memorial Church, and the arrival of the bells in Ieper can be found on the Keltek Trust’s Flickr album Bells for Ypres. The album also includes photos of the bells while they were at the Great Dorset Steam Fair and at the Foundry.

Hopefully this Facebook post is public. It contains photos of the bells’ journey around the Ypres and also video of the set of handbells that are also part of the project being rung at various locations, including as part of the service for the dedication of the bells. Details of the ringing can be found on BellBoard

The arrival of the bells also made the local press in Belgium, Klokken van ‘t Engels kerkje gezegend and Klokken zijn thuis in ‘t Engels kerkje, as well as local television, Britse Kerkklokken in Ieper (this includes an interview with the chapalin of St George’s, in English).

George William Waylen Honeyball (23 July 1883 – 16 August 1917†)

When this post goes live, the regular Wednesday Eucharist at St Mary’s, Putney, will just be starting. On this occasion the service will include a commemoration of George Honeyball, and will be followed by a brief talk about the rolls of honour of the Central Council for Church Bell Ringers and a peal. There is also a display at the foot of the tower which will remain in place until the end of August. Work on all this has meant that the centenaries of two men on the Surrey roll of honour, George Basil Edser (9 August) and Charles Herbert Varo (13 August) have so far gone unmarked on this blog, this will be rectified as soon as possible

George William Waylen Honeyball (See also Lives profile) was the first child of William Honeyball and Emma Harriet (nee Waylen – her middle name sometimes appears as Harriett, and her maiden name in various forms such as Wayland and even Wallen). According to a marginal note in the baptism register of St Agnes Kennington Park he was born on 23 July 1883 and his birth was registered in the St Saviour Registration District (Southwark) in the July-September quarter 1883. He does not appear on the Surrey Association Roll of Honour, despite the Putney band having been “in Union” with the association for many years. However Putney is the home tower of the author.

His parents were from the neighbouring Essex villages of Aldham and Copford, not far from Colchester. Their families were already connected as Emma’s aunt, Sarah Springett (or Springate), had married William’s uncle, Barnabas Honeyball. By 1881 Emma’s parents had moved to Ilford and were living at Mount Pleasant, Barking Lane (now Ilford Lane). Emma herself was in service (along with her elder sister, Eliza) at 2 Harcourt Road, Penge, Croydon, Surrey, England, working for Mrs Sarah B Rainier. Similarly William had already made the move to London, in 1881 he is recorded as a lodger at 77 Farmers Road, Newington with William Courtneidge and his wife Eliza. Courtneidge was a park constable/keeper. William’s brother George would also work for the London County Council Parks’ Department.

William and Emma married at St Mary’s, Great Ilford on 12 September 1882. Both gave their residence as Great Ilford at the time. William was a gardener, son of William Honeyball, labourer. Emma gave no occupation, she was the daughter of George Waylen, labourer. William signed his name, but Emma only made her mark.  The witnesses were William James and Emma’s sister, Eliza. George was baptised on 30 December 1883 when the family’s address was given as 63 Farmers Road, presumably just a few doors from where William was living in 1881.

1891 census

By 1891 the family were living in Putney, at 10 Upper Park Fields (the road has since been renamed and renumbered leaving this as 24 Coalecroft Road). William (36) is described as a gardener/domestic servant; Emma (34) has no occupation listed, neither does George (7, presumably he was at school). The household also contains Edward T I Honeyball (21), described as lodger, born Cheltenham, but presumably some sort of relation (although possibly there was an error by the enumerator as he’s not been traced in other records); and Peter Thomson (19), born Duddingston, Midlothian, Scotland, also a lodger. Both the lodgers are described as being gardeners at a nursery. The house was one of a group of workers’ cottages dating from the mid-19th century. At this time only the houses on the west of the road had been built, and the road itself was still amid fields and orchards, with Howard’s Lane marking the main boundary of development as shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1893-1895 (digitised by the National Library of Scotland).  A general description of the properties on the road from the Valuation Office Survey field books from about 1911-1915 states: “old-fashioned stock brick cottage. Slated roof. 2 Storey, brickwork and pointing poor. Repair poor. Gd [floor]: 1 room, kitchen, scullery, WC, bathroom. 1st: 2 bedrooms”.

George may well have attended St Mary’s School, located in the nearby Charlwood Road. Unfortunately, the admission and discharge registers for the relevant period do not seem to have survived nor do the logbooks seem to mention him by name.

12 Coalecroft Road in 2017

12 Coalecroft Road, originally 4 Upper Park Fields, in 2017. The family home of the Honeyballs from about 1893 to 1914.

Electoral registers suggest that the family had moved just up the road to 4 Upper Park Fields by the time Ellen Elsie Waylen Honeyball was born on 3 August 1894.  The field books note that 4, 5 and 6 have no bathroom. It was owned by their neighbour at 3 Upper Park Fields (later 10 Upper Park Fields), J Dulley, a builder. The final page of the Valuation Office field book indicates that the house was sold on 4 July 1920 for £150. Land Registry data shows that the house last sold in late 2015 for just under £1.5 million (the estate agent’s details show it does now have a bathroom!).

1901 census

In 1901 the family were still at 4 Upper Park Fields (now 12 Coalecroft Road). William (46) is still a domestic gardener, Emma (44) has no occupation listed, George (17) is a coal order clerk and Ellen (6) is presumably at school. Also in the household is their lodger, Leon Jaquet (20) a market gardener from Switzerland.

The character of Putney was now rapidly changing. The fields around Upper Park Fields were now disappearing under houses. The houses on the eastern side of the street seem to have been completed by around 1904, at which point the numbering was changed to the usual odds and evens, with 4 becoming 12 (there were a couple of previously unnumbered houses toward the junction with Howard’s Lane).

1911 census, ringing, and marriage

In 1911, the family were still at what was now number 12 Upper Park Fields. William was still a gardener. George is described as a coal merchant’s clerk, and Ellen as a domestic nurse. It seems that with both children earning there was no longer any need to take in lodgers. It’s not clear who George was working for, but postal directories show two coal merchants based in small offices at Putney Station, Edwin A Cornwall, and Stratton, Gentry & Co Ltd.

It’s not clear exactly when George learnt to ring, the first report in the ringing newspapers that mentions him is of a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples rung on 24 September 1911 for Sunday service, and to mark the birthday of two of the band, T Bolton (the tower captain) and C F W Hunt (the conductor). Hunt and Skevington (also ringing) are more frequently associated with Hammersmith, and it seems they may have been teaching the band. This quarter peal is not marked as George’s first, so there is probably an earlier one that is proving elusive.

Next both George and his father William rang in another quarter peal of Grandsire Triples to mark the wedding of the Revd Laurence Rawdon Levett (the curate of Putney) to Mary E Patchett on 7 November 1911. This was the first quarter peal to be rung entirely by regular ringers at St Mary’s. Then, on Christmas Eve, George himself conducted a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples before a service, this was also the first quarter peal for S Jones.

1912 started in similar vein with quarter peals of Grandsire on Wednesday 7 February (only William was in this one rather than George) and Sunday 11 February (with both father and son). Then, on Monday 8 April, the band rang the first peal by Putney ringers (other peals had been rung at the church previously by visiting ringers). The method was again Grandsire Triples, this was the first peal for both George and William.

After that there was a bit of a lull until September when the local band rang another quarter peal of Grandsire for the wedding of the vicar’s (the Revd Canon Thurston Rivington) son, Reginald Thurston Rivington, to Nora Sedgwick. The wedding actually took place in Sherborn, Warwickshire, where Nora’s father was vicar. Canon Rivington had previously been vicar in two parishes in Warwick. Then for Harvest Festival on 22 September they branched out with a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major, a first for George and William and several others in the band. They finished 1912 with service touches of Stedman (with George ringing) and Bob Major (with William) on 22 December for evening service.

1913’s ringing really got going in March with another quarter of Bob Major on the evening of Easter Day (23 March), and again on 5 April (for a wedding). On 3 June George conducted another quarter peal of Grandsire, followed by another for service on 20 July which marked his birthday and that of his father. The dedication for this quarter also shows that William was secretary for the band. On Wednesday 30 July both were again in the band for a quarter of Bob Major for a wedding. On 12 October George again conducted Grandsire Triples with his father in the band. Then on 26 October both rang Bob Major again. On 9 November George rang the treble to a quarter peal of Stedman Triples, this is marked as the first in method for C Collis jun and H Whanslaw, but not for George, so again it seems at least one quarter peal is proving elusive.

Sadly Emma Harriett Honeyball died in early 1914, and was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery on 21 January 1914. Cemetery records show she was buried in Plot D2, Grave 215. It is listed as a “Class H” burial, not in “general ground” but a cemetery visit in 2017 showed no sign of headstone or other marker. She died (at home) at 12 Upper Parkfields.

Several rows of graves set among grass, with a variety of styles of headstones and other grave markers. In the background are a variety of trees.

Emma Harriett Honeyball (nee Waylen) was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery on 21 January 1914. There is no grave marker, the grave is in the second row of graves visible in the photo, to the right of the grave with a cross on three steps, directly in line with the granite topped grave in the foreground.

The first reported ringing in 1914 was a second peal on 13 April, this time conducted by Alfred Jones on his first attempt at conducting a peal. It was this peal that was marked by a peal board in the ringing room, sadly destroyed by the fire in the church in 1973. On 6 May both George and William rang in a quarter peal of Bob Major. This appears to be the last time father and son rang together. On 26 July George rang a quarter peal of Kent Treble Bob, his first in the method (and also that of 3 others in the band).

Black and white photo showing the interior of a church ringing room, two bell ropes are visible in the middle of the photo. The wall behind is part panelled, and above the panelling are two boards marking peals rung in the tower.

Photo of peal boards in the ringing chamber at St Mary’s Putney prior to the fire in 1973. The board on the left bears the names of George Honeyball and his father William and marks the 1914 peal rung by the local band.

The last known ringing by George was on 11 April 1915 when he rang two courses of Double Norwich Major for Sunday service. The influence of the war is perhaps visible in the very mixed group of ringers, F I Hairs usually associated with Clapham, though he was stationed at Roehampton with the Royal Naval Air Service, Elsie Bennett (who would later become Mrs Hairs – they would be the first couple to ring a peal on their wedding day), Sedley Collins of Fulham, and C J Matthews of St Martin in the Fields (though resident in Southfields and later reported as a Putney ringer when he joined up underage later in 1915).

On 5 July 1915 George married Bessie Julia Naylor in the magnificent parish church at Walpole St Peter (registered in the Wisbech Registration District). Parish records show that the banns were called at St Mary’s Putney on 13, 20 and 27 June, and show that the bride was from the parish of Walpole, Norfolk. The only Bessie Naylor recorded in the Wisbech district in the 1911 census was already 61. However, following the family back to the 1901 census shows a Julia Naylor in this household in Lynn Road, Walpole Highway, Norfolk, part of the parish of Walpole St Peter. In 1901 the family consisted of William (55), a carpenter, born Methwold, Norfolk; Bessie (50), born Exeter; and their daughters Julia (19); and Victoria (13), both born Walpole St Peter. Presumably Julia’s first name was also Bessie, but as her mother was called the same she used her middle name. By 1911, the younger daughter is recorded as Mildred, rather than Victoria, again presumably a case of using a middle name. Searching for Julia Naylor finds her working as a housemaid at 11 Briar Walk, Putney – just a few roads away from the Honeyballs in Upper Park Fields. Head of the household is Mary Blanche Alton (59), a widow with private means, born Norwich; also present are her daughter, Kathleen Mary Leonore Alton (30), single, born Putney; Mary’s half-sister Hannah Atkins (74), born Barnham Broom, Norwich; and Agnes Broomer (age unknown), cook, born Westcott, Surrey. The Valuation Office records show that the houses in Briar Walk were on a rather different scale to Upper Park Fields.
A substantial red brick house with carved stone around the windows

11 Briar Walk is the house in which Bessie Julia Naylor was working as a maid in 1911

War Service

Although George’s service record did not survive the Blitz in the Second World War (like so many), it turns out that in the case of the 31st Regimental District which included the East Surrey Regiment, and covered Putney, the recruitment registers still survive. Honeyball is listed, and the register shows that he attested on 7 December 1916 at Wandsworth. He was then 32 Years and 6 months old, weighed 120 lbs, was 5 foot 4 inches tall, with a 35 inch chest, which expanded by 3 inches. He was in call-up category 38 (this was determined by age and marital status), and medically he was rated A2 (fully fit, but untrained). The remarks column contains the address 148 Putney Bridge Road, presumably where he was living at the time he attested. He was initially posted to 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, this functioned as a training battalion and was based in Dover. The recruitment book does not show the regimental number, only a recruitment reference.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show that his number with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers was 41167 which allows us to identify his medal index card, which shows he was Private 31333, East Surrey Regiment, and Private 41167 Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers; and the associated medal rolls detailed by the index card as “B/102 B27 page 11462”, now in WO 329/1133. These show he served with 9th (Service) Battalion, East Surreys and 7 Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, unfortunately no further details are given on the index card or in the roll as to his dates of service or transfer between units. The war diaries of the 9th East Surreys are quite detailed, often giving complete summaries of men killed and wounded each month, but Honeyball does not seem to be mentioned by name. Nor is there any mention of men being transferred to the Inniskillings.

However, further examination of the medal roll shows a number of men with similar Inniskillings service numbers with prior service in the East Surreys, suggesting that a number of men were transferred at the same time. Service records of some of these men do survive, and suggest that Honeyball probably completed his training in mid-March and he was posted to 9th East Surreys, but after arrival at a Base Depot in France he was transferred to the Inniskilling, being posted to 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers around 26 March 1917, and probably actually joining the battalion on 9 April. Their war diary shows drafts joining on 11 and 16 April.

The first few weeks with the battalion were spent largely in training behind the lines. Then in early May George received his first taste of front line service. On 9 May the battalion was due to be relieved but the German’s opened a heavy bombardment at the time the relief was due to take place. They were eventually able to extricate themselves by 2 am.

At 2 am on 29 May there was a gas alarm, but fortunately it proved to be false.

From 6-14 June the battalion took part in the highly successful Battle of Messines, 16th (Irish) Division (of which the battalion was part) captured Wytschaete. The remainder of June, and most of July was spent refitting and training. They moved back towards the front at the start of August, taking up positions at Square Farm on 6 August. On 8 August they suffered a heavy German bombardment. They moved out of the line on the night of 10/11 August, before returning to Square Farm on 14 August, ready to attack as part of the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August.

It was during that attack that George Honeyball was killed, somewhere in the area between Square Farm where they started, and Hill 37, or a little further east, which was the furthest point reached. They were forced to retire as the divisions either side had not progressed as well, leaving their flanks exposed.

After the war George Honeyball was remembered on a variety of memorials. In Putney itself he is on the roll of honour in St Mary’s Church which accompanies the cross outside. A memorial was also erected on an extension to Wimbledon Common that was bought by public subscription after the war. It was presumably due to his wife, and perhaps the ringers, that he was included on these memorials.

His father and sister also ensured he was on the Aldham War Memorial. On that memorial there are also two of his cousins, a second cousin, and a son of Elsie Honeyball’s first husband (who was much older than her) by his first marriage.

The Central Council for Church Bell Ringers also set up its own roll of honour, now held in the bell tower at St Paul’s Cathedral, and in 1919 there was a series of services around the country on 22 February to commemorate the ringers killed. The service for London was held at St Clement Danes and George Honeyball was among the list of 80 ringers read during the service who had been killed in the war.

He was also included on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing opened in 1927. This lists those killed on or after 16 August 1917 in the Ypres area who have no known grave. He may also be commemorated in 1914-18 Book of Remembrance held in the East Surrey Regimental Chapel (Holy Trinity Chapel) in All Saints’ Kingston.


Bessie Honeyball continued to live in London, by 1939 she was living in Effie Place, Fulham, and her occupation is given as “Unpaid Domestic Duties” (she was presumably living on her widow’s pension). The 1939 Register (prepared as the Second World War started to assist in the distribution of ration cards etc) also shows her surname crossed through, and replaced with that of Rule. Marriage indices record the marriage of Alfred Stephen Rule and Bessie J Honeyball in the first quarter of 1945 in the Chelsea registration district. Stephen was a recent widow himself, in the 1939 Register he and his wife Laura were living on Trott Street, Battersea. Stephen (who was born in Australia) had served in the RFC and RAF during the First World War, his skills as a tailor and sailmaker probably having been put to use preparing the fabric used to cover the wings of early aircraft.

Elsie continued to run the Queen’s Head in Aldham for many years. She married twice and had two children.


The centenary was marked with a peal, and a display at the base of the tower. The display will remain in place until the end of August.
img_0507The display relating to George Honeyball and life in Putney before the war

Details of the peal of 5056 Yorkshire Surprise Major are on BellBoard.

A group of seven men and one woman standing in front of glass doors leading into St Mary's Putney Church. Some of the stained glass windows of the church are visible in the background.

The band who rang the commemorative peal at Putney on 16 August 2017.

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.

Mustachioed man in military uniform, a sash running right to left over a metal breastplate.

William Frank Smith (1889-6 May 1917†)

William Frank Smith (Lives profile) was born in 1889 in Reigate. He was the second child of Frank Smith and Clementina (nee Trumble). They had married at St George in the East on 20 November 1886, probably Clementina’s home parish as censuses describe her as being born in Wapping. Frank was Reigate born and bred (some censuses record his birthplace as Leigh, a small village south west of Reigate), so it’s not clear how they met, though perhaps Clementina had been working in Reigate. In 1881 she was a house maid in Kensington. The marriage record shows that Frank could only make his mark, not sign, in the register. The later correspondence with the army after William’s death also seems to have been carried out only by Clementina. Frank was the son of John Smith, they were both farm labourers, Frank’s address is given only as Reigate. Clementina was the daughter of John Thomas Trumble, Inspector of Nuisances (the final word is unclear), and living at 227 Cable Street.

Their first child, Dorothy Clementina, was born in in 1887, her birth was registered in the third quarter in the Reigate registration district, and she was baptised at St Mark’s, Reigate on 3 July 1887. The family were then living on Nutley Lane, Reigate. William followed in 1889, the brith was registered in the third quarter, again in Reigate registration district. He was baptised at St Mark’s on 1 September 1889, the family were still living on Nutley Lane. Frank’s occupation is now given as carter. The family were still in Nutley Lane, at No 44, at the 1891 census on 5 April. The family also had a lodger, William Comben (36, no occupation stated).

Arthur Christian Smith was born later in 1891, registered in the 4th quarter in the Reigate registration district. He was baptised at St Mark’s on 13 December, the family were still living at 44 Nutley Lane. Frank is now recorded as a labourer. Sadly Arthur died aged just 2, and was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard on 21 February 1894. The family’s address was still Nutley Lane. Later that year Charles Henry was born on 28 August 1894, registered in the 4th quarter 1894 in the Reigate registration district. He was baptised in the parish of “Nutley Lane, St Mark’s” on 18 November 1894. This indicates that Charles at least was baptised in what’s now called St Philip’s, Reigate, then a proprietary chapel within the parish of St Mark’s (it is still not a full parish in its own right). It’s possible that the other children were also actually baptised there as St Philip’s had opened in 1863. William’s obituary also tells us that sang in the choir there as boy. The family’s address was then given as 30 York Road (now Yorke Road).

By the 1901 census (31 March) the family were at 42 Yorke Road. Frank is now recorded as a bricklayer’s labourer. Dorothy (13) has been apprenticed to a tailor; William and Charles are presumably still at school. There are two visitors with the family: Ada Walker (17), a housemaid born in Headington, Oxfordshire, and Doris M Hind (6), born in Norwood.

Aged 13, so in late 1902 or early 1903, William went to work as gardener for Philip Woolley at Broke House in Reigate Hill. Over the next few years William also joined the local men’s British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment. William’s obituary tells us he passed the certificate of proficiency seven times. He also joined the local miniature rifle club, apparently becoming a crack shot, and of course he also became a bellringer at the old parish church of St Mary’s.

It perhaps came as a bit of a surprise to the family when in early 1907 Clementina found she was pregnant again, 13 years after Charles Henry was born. Arnold John Victor was born on 26 September 1907, and baptised at St Mary’s on 10 November. The family were now living back on Nutley Lane, Frank is now recorded as a bricklayer.

The first definite record of William as a ringer is his first peal on 21 March 1908, when he rang the seventh to a peal of Grandsire Caters at St Mary’s. It is probable that he’d been ringing for some time before that. The following day he also rang in touches of Grandsire Triples and Caters for Sunday service. He also rang a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples on 16 November 1911, and another peal of Caters on 27 November 1909. The last of those was rung for the Sussex Association, he being one of three of the band proposed as members beforehand. He also went on the ringing outing to Hughenden and High Wycombe in July 1911. His obituary indicates he rang a total of four peals, but the other two have not yet been traced.

By the 1911 census on 2 April 1911 the family were living at 77 Nutley Lane. Frank (48) was a bricklayer’s labourer, Clementina (47) has no occupation given, so was presumably a housewife looking after Harold (3), Dorothy (23) was a ladies’ tailor, William (21) a gardener, Charles (16) was an errand boy for an ironmonger. They also had Sarah Mocock (11), a niece of the head of the household staying with them. As she was born in Wapping it seems likely she was the daughter of one of Clementina’s sisters.

On 2 July 1912 Dorothy Clementina married local policeman William Robert Prangnell at St Mary’s. Both were 25-years-old. Dorothy’s address was recorded as Holly Cottage, Nutley Lane, William’s as 14 South Albert Road, Reigate. William was the son of William Henry Prangnell (deceased), a maltster and brewer. A month later the newly-weds boarded the SS Corinthic in London, bound for Tasmania. William is recorded as a constable, so presumably he was going to join the force in Tasmania.

Alongside his main Red Cross work William also served as ambulance instructor to the Reigate Borough Fire Brigade (his father had been a fireman for some years). Over Whitsun 1914 (Whit Sunday – Pentecost was 31 May 1914) he travelled with a detachment from the brigade to Ivry-sur-Seine in France, and with his ambulance section took first place among the various fire brigades represented there following a display by the brigade under the command of Captain Rouse and Superintendent F Legg.

Just under a month later, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and Europe spiralled into war. To start with William continued to work as a gardener, but later in 1914 The Ward Hospital opened as an auxiliary hospital on Reigate Hill and he took up a post as ward orderly. The hospital was named after Lt-Col John Ward, an MP and trade union leader (who had been a private soldier in his younger days), and run by his wife. Some sources suggest it had been a convalescent home for children before the war. Lt-Col Ward raised the 18th and 19th Battalions of the Middlesex Regiment (1st and 2nd Public Works Battalions) during the First World War.

Charles Henry, who was a motor driver, enlisted in the Army Service Corps in London on 10 February 1915, and arrived in France on 31 May 1915. The same day Charles enlisted William was presented with a clock by the members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment to mark his service with them. William carried on at the hospital, but the manpower situation was becoming acute and by the latter part of 1915 it was becoming increasingly clear that conscription would be introduced. William attested under the terms of the Derby Scheme in Reigate on 11 December 1915, and went onto Army Reserve B the following day, carrying on at the hospital for the time being. Meanwhile Charles was appointed acting lance corporal (unpaid) on 28 December 1915.

William was called up in February 1916 and reported to Regent’s Park Barracks on 9 February. After medicals and so on he was posted to the Royal Horse Guards on 11 February, becoming 2602 Trooper William Frank Smith. The ringers marked his departure (in absentia) by dedicating the service ringing on 17 February to himHe would then have trained at Windsor (where the depot of the Household Cavalry still is) and Knightsbridge Barracks. It was probably at some time during this phase of his training that the photo of him in uniform was taken.

Mustachioed man in military uniform, a sash running right to left over a metal breastplate.

Corpl W F Smith is pictured in the uniform of the Royal Horse Guards, complete with cuirass (breastplate), so this picture was probably taken on completion of his initial training, before he was transferred to the newly raised Household Battalion, an infantry unit formed from the reserves of the Household Cavalry not required for mounted duty in France

It was on 1 September 1916 that he was transferred to the newly raised Household Battalion, receiving the new regimental number 107. It was infantry that was needed on the Western Front, not heavy cavalry. The Household Cavalry had more than enough reserves, so some of the men were transferred to the infantry role, although by raising a new battalion, they maintained the traditions of the Household Cavalry (and the higher rate of pay that the cavalry received). This higher rate of pay seems to have been a bit of a bone of contention with the Foot Guards NCOs brought in to give them instruction in the finer points of infantry tactics, who gave the new battalion a bit of a rough time as they trained for their new role in Richmond Park.

The battalion was inspected by the King (who had had to approve all the details of the raising of the battalion) in Hyde Park on 2 November. This was preparation for their imminent departure for France. Members of the battalion attended a service at Brompton Parish Church on Sunday 5 November, then a route march in London on the Monday, photos in the barrack square on Tuesday, then to Southampton from Waterloo on 8 November, and thence overnight to Le Havre arriving early on 9 November. This first part of the battalion travelled on SS Mona’s Queen, while the remainder followed on SS Australind the following day. Once in France the battalion joined 10th Infantry Brigade in 4th Division. Initially they were some distance behind the lines in Abbeville, but in December they moved to the now quiet area of the Somme. Initially they were at the very southern end of the British Front, but in March moved a little further north. On 22 February 1917 Smith was promoted to Corporal. Given his leadership experience in the Red Cross, this is not surprising.

Although they had been in-and-out of the trenches throughout this time it was only in April 1917 when the battalion was committed to the Battle of Arras that received their real baptism of fire in large-scale actions. On 11 April 10th Brigade were tasked with taking Greenland Hill and Plouvain. Unfortunately they were spotted by German reconnaissance planes while forming up and heavily shelled. Nevertheless, the attack continued, but with little success, and heavy casualties. By the time they were pulled out of the line on 13 April the total casualties were 170. They had only a short respite before returning to the trenches on 16 April until relieved late on 20 April. For this period they were merely holding the line, rather than engaging in an attack, but still suffered further casualties. Then a slightly longer period out the line, but training for the next operation, before heading back to the trenches again on 30 April. The next attack came early on 3 May, with the German line between Roeux and the River Scarpe as their objective. Again there was little progress. A smaller scale operation was ordered for 6 May, which in the end was little more than a reconnaissance patrol, followed up by a grenade attack.

It was during this operation that Smith was killed in the early hours of 6 May 1917.

According to a letter written by a lieutenant of his company to Smith’s fiancée (who sadly is not named in the newspaper obituary which quotes the letter) he had been taking a message to the CO when he was shot by a sniper. The letter states:

He was a magnificent man, never flinching or wavering from any task, however difficult, and always performing it with willingness and patience.[…]He died as he would have wished, right up in the front line, and I can but offer my own sympathy and tell you how the regiment from the Colonel downwards feel his loss as a loss to the regiment and to himself. He was buried behind the lines and a cross put up over the grave, which is being tended with all possible care.

That grave is now II. C. 4. in Crump Trench British Cemetery, Fampoux. The battlefield cross has been replaced with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone, bearing the family inscription “Peace, Perfect Peace”.

Following Smith’s death the Town Council sent their sympathies to the family following a council meeting on 25 June 1917, this was due to his work with the Fire Brigade. His was also one of the first set of 56 names inscribed on the war memorial erected at St Mark’s Reigate in November 1917. Sadly there would be several more to add before the war was actually over. This was the first permanent memorial in Reigate, and one of the earliest in the country.

The war had not finished with the Smith family. William Prangnell enlisted in the Australian Field Artillery on 7 September 1916. He was killed in action in Belgium on 12 September 1917. By the time he joined up he and Dorothy and moved from Tasmania to Melbourne. He had left the police and was working for Victoria Railways. They do not seem to have had any children. After the war Dorothy took the offer of a free passage back to the UK from the Australian government and returned to Reigate. Charles Henry Smith developed valvular heart disease and a goitre during his service in the ASC, and was discharged as no longer fit for war service on 21 March 1918.