Tag Archives: William Duffell

All Saints Kingston – the Aston Martin connection!

Four members from All Saints, Kingston-upon-Thames served, all survived. They include highest ranking of the men on the roll, Major John Harley Bridges Hesse, Army Service Corps. Born in Sialkot, British India (now Pakistan – and still a garrison town), the son of an Indian Army officer. He was educated at Sherborne, and became a mechanical engineer, undertaking articles at the famous Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast (home of the Titanic). He moved to London in the early years of the 20th century, possibly working for Thornycroft. There are records of him ringing at Fulham at this time. By 1911 he was living in Teddington and had married. He was a partner in the firm of Hesse and Savory, along with one Robert Bamford. The partnership was dissolved in November 1912, with Savory taking on the business on his own, and Hesse initially continuing as a manager. In addition to their premises in Teddington where they built both cars and motor boats (Hesse designed a patent reversing gear for small boats which was manufactured in Teddington) they had a small workshop at Henniker Mews in South Kensington. Following the breakup of the partnership, Bamford took on those premises, and with Lionel Martin built the first Aston-Martin[sic] there in 1913.

Hesse then moved to Thornycroft road vehicle repair shop in Vauxhall in 1913. In early 1915 he joined the Army Service Corps as a rather elderly lieutenant (he turned 40 in December 1914), and was eventually promoted to major, running the workshop of 3rd Heavy Repair Shop in Rouen. This was rather an interesting unit, with all the major work being carried out by skilled German POW labour! He was Mentioned in Despatches but suffered several bouts of ill-health. In 1918 he was released from the army, and returned to Thornycroft, working on the new Coastal Motor Boats for the Admiralty. After the war he continued with Thornycroft, moving to Haslemere, and became first Master of the Guildford Diocesan Guild.

George Edward Naish, a greengrocer, was a pre-war Territorial in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Mobilised on the outbreak of war, his first overseas service was in Gibraltar and on Malta. His 5 year engagement then expired, but conscription was about to come into effect, he opted to rejion the Territorials, which gained him a few weeks home leave. After that he was sent to Salonika, there, like so many men of the British forces who served there, he contracted malaria.

The other two men are slightly mysterious, for different reasons. John Henry Howes is easy enough to find in the census (and there is evidence that his father was tower captain at Kingston), but there are no military records which corroborate the details given in the roll, according to which he served with the Machine Gun Corps and was wounded in 1917.

With William Duffell, there is the opposite problem, a full service record survives, showing he served at home, initially in the National Reserve, then the supernumerary companies of the East Surrey Regiment, and finally the Royal Defence Corps (he was 52 when joined up on 10 November 1914). However, the biographical details are not sufficient to determine which William Duffell he is in the 1911 census – Duffell seems to have been a local surname, so there are a surprising number, and two who are the same age. In the service record, his next-of-kin is given as a brother, which suggests the most likely candidate is the single man, a house painter, living as a boarder in 1911, rather than the married coal merchant.