Tag Archives: Streatham

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.

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Ernest Attwater joins up

On 10 September 1914 Ernest Attwater’s attestation papers were formally approved by a major in the Royal Sussex Regiment. He had been medically examined at Haywards Heath (where he had been a member of the local Territorial Force company for three years prior to his move to London from Cuckfield) as early as 5 September, and had then completed the attestation papers at Chichester on 9 September. He was posted to 9th Battalion, one of the newly raised battalions of Kitchener’s New Army. He became Private 3305, but with his prior TF experience it’s no great surprise that he was promoted lance corporal as early as 12 October (NCOs were in short supply). He stated his age as 25 years, 220 days, and gave his occupation as carpenter and pro cricketer (he was on Surrey’s ground staff at the Oval).

It’s possible his brother Frank Norman joined up at the same time, but as he ended up in 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, it’s not absolutely clear (and his papers do not survive). Certainly both brothers were serving by 30 October when The Ringing World reported that Frank Norman was at Dover with 3rd Battalion, and Ernest was at Shoreham with 9th Battalion.

This would have been a blow for both Streatham towers, Immanuel an St Leonard, as with their other brothers, Louis and Isaac James, the Attwaters had become leading ringers in the area.

Streatham update: H F Daniels identified as H V Daniels

Until recently I had been unable to identify the man listed as H F Daniels under Immanuel, Streatham. I had found various references in ringing reports to a J S Daniels ringing at both Immanuel and St Leonard’s, but had been unable to find him in the censuses to see if he had relatives who might be H F Daniels. However, while researching the Rayner brothers of Benhilton in order to write their pages, I found a peal report from 1912 for Immanuel rung by John Stenton Daniels and seven of his employees in his building and decorating firm. Interestingly, these employees included William Mardell, George Liddiard and Ernest Attwater, all also listed as Immanuel ringers, along with Ernest’s brother Frank, listed as a St Leonard’ ringer. Another member of the band was Henry Rumble, who we briefly met in connection with Thomas Arthur Talbot

With the additional information as too his occupation, I finally managed to track down the Daniels family in the 1911 census. John Stenton Daniels had been mistranscribed as John Hinton Daniels. He had a son called Henry Vernon Daniels, which seemed promising, despite the discrepancy in middle initial. Accroding to the roll “H F Daniels” served with the RAF, a quick search of Discovery for Henry Vernon Daniels found an RAF record in AIR 79/1943/215989 who also had earlier service in the Royal Naval Air Service under ADM 188/591/15989. Examination of the records show that they are one and the same person as the Henry Vernon Daniels in the census.

Googling also found a catalogue entry for some planning records held by Essex County Archives as D/RR/5/3/27 for a house built in Rochford after the war, owned by John Stenton Daniels, and the archtiects given as J S Daniels and Son, the RAF record described Henry Vernon Daniels as a draughtsman, and the Streatham addresses given on the planning record also match those in the RAF record. This web search also found

Streatham, St Leonard – a family tower

Six of the ringers from St Leonard’s, Streatham went to war. The relatioships between them, and others of the tower at the time show particularly strong family links. The Attwater family has already been mentioned in connection with Ernest, who is listed on the roll as a ringer at Immanuel Streatham. At St Leonard’s we see two of his older brothers listed, Frank Norman and Isaac James, a fourth brother, Louis, also rang there but did not serve in the war. The reports of ringing in The Ringing World show all four brothers ringing in both towers, and since many of St Leonard’s records were destroyed in a major fire in the chuch in 1975, and Immanuel’s bell swere removed in the 1970s, it is not clear why they were divided up on the roll between the two towers.

William Charles Lee was killed in the later stages of the Battle of the Somme. Originally from Sudbury in Suffolk he was living in London with his uncle John who also rang at Leonard’s (with father William was also a ringer in Sudbury). The war also seems to have ended the ringing career of Francis John Lindley Mitchell. His father, John Christopher Mitchell, was also a Streatham ringer: he was also very senior in London Transport. Francis was one of the handful of ringers on the roll to have attended a public school (Dulwich College), and the only one to go to university: though in fact he only went up to Clare College, Cambridge in 1914 to read mathematics. He had been a member of the Officers’ Training Corps detachments at Dulwich and the University of Cambridge. In early 1915 he opted to leave his degree course and take a commission. With his obviously strong mathematical background, it is no great surprise to see that he joind the Royal Garrison Artillery. In May 1918, while serving with an anti-aircraft battery he was badly wounded in the left arm. After spending some time in hospital he returned to Cambridge in 1919 to continue his studies while he convalesced. In 1920 he took articles with Price Waterhouse and took his accountancy exams, gaining his ACA in 1924, and remaining with the firm as an audit clerk. He worked for them for many years, later becoming Bursar of St Paul’s School. I have found no record of him ringing after the war, presumably the damage to his left arm was such that he could no longer do so.

James William Chapman would later be the tower captain at St Leonard’s, serving until 1963. He worked for the department store Barker’s of Kensington for many years. The final man listed on the roll, A Bradley, has so far eluded identification. He may have had the middle initial B, and one Ringing World entry states that an A Bradley of St Leonard’s, Streatham, ahd joined the Butchery Section of the Army Service Corps. However, the roll states he served with the Machine Gun Corps.

Streatham, Immanuel – the saddest epitaph, and most commemorated man

Five men are listed on the roll as having been ringers at Streatham, Immanuel. The most complete information so far researched relates to the man who did not return, Ernest Attwater. He was the youngest of six brothers, all ringers, originally from the town of Cuckfield in Sussex. Two of his brother, Isaac James and Frank Norman, also served in the war and are listed on the roll as ringers at Streatham’s original parish church, St Leonard’s – it is not clear why they were divided in this way as records show they all divided their ringing between the two churches. A fourth brother, Louis, had also moved to London and rang at both churches too – he later became tower captain at St Leonard’s.

Louis and Isaac James had moved to London in the 1890s, Frank Norman and Ernest around 1912. Ernest was a carpenter, but also a keen cricketer. After moving to London he joined the ground staff at Surrey County Cricket Club, playing first as an amateur and then for the young professionals’ side. Just before war broke out he played in a ringers’ cricket match at Mitcham, he was on the team of the Ancient Society of College Youths, their opponents (the winners) the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths. A photo of the two teams was published in The Ringing World, Ernest appears the most relaxed in his whites, he took two wicket for 19 runs.

Ernest joined up on 9 September 1914, he opted to enlist in a New Army Battalion, 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. He stated that he had previously served in a Territorial Force battalion of the regiment until leaving the county. He gave his occupation as foreman carpenter and pro cricketer. With his previous military experience, and work experience supervising others, it is no surprise that he received rapid promotion to serjeant. It probably also helped that the battalion CO was also a sportsman, albeit of the big game hunting type, in India.

In February 1916 he became a qualified machine gunner, and serjeant of the machine gun section. In March 1916 he spent just over a fortnight in hospital, although the reason is not given. Then, exactly two years after joining up, he was posted to an officer cadet course. On 25 January 1917 he was commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps. His marriage to Alice Ethel Hulls was registered in the first quarter of 1917. He was posted to France with the newly formed 245 Machine Gun Company in July 1917. He was granted two weeks’ home leave in November 1917 – by this time Alice was several months pregnant. Their son, Mervyn Richard Attwater was born early in 1918. Sadly, in March 1918 the German’s launched their great Spring Offensive, and soon the British Army was falling back in some disarray. 245 Machine Gun Company was part of 50th Division. On 23 March 1918 the company was defending the crossings over the Somme at Brie, at around 7pmthe Officer Commanding was informed that Attwater had been killed during heavy shelling. He was subsequently buried in the town cemetery of Foucaucourt-en-Santerre by the Germans who held the town from 26 March. It is not clear how his body came to be laid there, a few kilometres to the west of where he was killed. His company was based here for a short time just before the town fell to the Germans, but whether they had taken his body that far, and had to leave it, or whether it was recovered by the Germans from where he had fallen is unclear.

After the war, his widow took up the option to add a personal inscription to the standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. It reads, “Until we meet, your little son Mervyn”. That meeting would not take place until 1996 when Wing Commander Mervyn Richard Attwater DSO DFC died in Arundel – he had a distinguished record as an RAF Bomber Command pilot during and after the Second World War. Like so many of the young widows made by the war, Alice soon remarried, and had six more children with her new husband.

In addition to the Surrey Association roll of honour, Ernest is commemorated on the Surrey CCC memorial at the Oval, three memorials in his home town of Cuckfield and the main memorial in his wife’s home town of Arundel – her father was a local butcher and town councillor, some old photos of the memorial suggest it was located outside his shop.