Just two ringers are recorded on the original roll, Cyril Frederick Johnston was a member of the local bellfounding firm of Gillet and Johnston and has a rather unusual war record as we shall see, serving with two rather socially elite units. After his father’s death he was released from army service to return to the family firm which (as it also made clocks in peacetime) was heavily involved in fuse manufacture at its Croydon base. The two men were:
- Corporal E Elliott — 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment [no information has been found to corroborate the original roll. There are too many E Elliott’s (70) living in Croydon in 1911 to choose a candidate].
- Lieutenant Cyril Frederick Johnston — Army Service Corps, Horse transport; 18th (Public Schools) Battalion and 28th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers; Special Reserve, Grenadier Guards.
Johnston’s service history is rather convoluted. He initially applied for a commission in the Army Service Corps, hoping to be appointed to the Motor Transport section. On being told he was to serve with Horse Transport, he seems to have had a bit of a huff, and enlisted in the newly raised Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (eventually four battalions were raised) as a private. He had been educated at Whitgift School in Croydon, and been Colour Serjeant in the Officer Training Corps there. He soon received a commission in that battalion, but then suffered health problems. These were eventually diagnosed as resulting from a hernia (which he blamed on over exertion while ringing a heavy tenor in a peal – the detail in his army record isn’t yet quite enough to find the record of the peal), and although he was operated on, he was required to resign his commission due to his health. Then he managed to wangle a Special Reserve commission in the Grenadier Guards (despite now being over age) and was posted to France. Following the death of his father, he was released from active duty to serve under the Ministry of Munitions to maintain the contracts Gillet & Johnston were working on.
Croydon also sees the first addition to the original roll. Recorded on the Central Council Roll of Honour is the Revd Cecil Herbert Schooling, listed as a member of the Cambridge University Guild of Change Ringers, on CWGC he is shown as a chaplain attached to 122 Infantry Brigade. Some additional research for a Ringing World article on the ringers buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery revealed that he was a curate at Croydon from 1910. However, there is no evidence he was a member of the Surrey Association — it is just possible that he only ever rang on handbells at Cambridge, but it seems difficult to believe that the ringers were not aware that he had some knowledge of ringing. So
- The Reverend Charles Herbert Schooling † Died of Wounds, 21 June 1917 — Chaplain to the Forces, Fourth Class, Army Chaplains’ Department, attached 122 Infantry Brigade.
Today’s ringers have their own website about the bells at Croydon Ringers.