MY FAMILY AT WAR
BROTHERS AND COUSINS IN ARMS
“ Through these fields of destruction,
Baptisms of fire,
I’ve witnessed your suffering,
As the battle raged higher,
And though they did hurt me so bad,
In the fear and alarm,
You did not desert me,
My brothers and cousins in arms. “
Adapted from “Brothers in Arms“ Dire Straights
My mother aged 90 still lives in the village where she was born, Great Baddow near to Chelmsford the county town of Essex. Her parents were George and Winifred Maltby nee Jarvis who married in Chelmsford in 1924. George was born in Cambridge in 1899 and served in the Army during the latter part of WW1 as did three of his brothers Sidney , Samuel and Frank. He also had other relatives William , Samuel R D , Arthur and Frederick Maltby who served in WW1. My grand mother Winifred came from an extended family of agricultural workers in and around the village of Felsted near to Chelmsford. Her brothers Albert and Ernest Jarvis and their cousins Frank and another Albert Jarvis together with other cousins Wilfred and Percy Livermore and other related members of the Livermore families Leonard and Albert all served in the Army during the period 1915 to 1919.These are the stories of these men related by marriage and by the experiences of that war to end all wars.
I have been fascinated by WW1 from a young age when, in the 1960s, I spent many wet school holidays at my grandparents looking at their copies of the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS History of the Great War. My interest developed through watching the BBC TV series THE GREAT WAR and from the 1980s through frequent visits to the Battlefields with my late father. However, it was not until I retired in 2007 that I had the time and energy to begin the researches properly. Unlike some people, I did not have boxes full of letters, diaries and other memorabilia. All that I had was a few sepia photographs of people in uniforms, my grandfather’s Royal West Surrey’s WW1 cap badge and an In Memoriam card that my mother had from her father commemorating the death of his brother Frank.
Figure 1. In Memoriam Card for Frank H Maltby ( Maltby family archive )
Thus my research into these distant and mainly unknown relatives has been based upon documents which are in the public domain and relatively easily available online: MEDAL INDEX CARDS, REGIMENTAL MEDAL ROLLS, BATTALION WAR DIARIES, REGIMENTAL and DIVISIONAL HISTORIES, mostly written in the 1920s by men who had fought in WW1 whilst events were still fresh in the memory. In addition, Regimental Museums, websites like the LONG LONG TRAIL, the WFA and knowledgeable individuals have all made their contributions to the detective work undertaken by me over the past years. What follows are the varied stories of these distant relatives . Hopefully this may stimulate others to do the same type of research as part of the centenary of the Great War and the national commemoration and celebration of that generation who fought in WW1 and who, in many instances, sacrificed all.
This is the story of three families linked by marriage and by the experiences of fighting and in some cases dying in the Great War , one hundred years ago.
THE MALTBY FAMILY OF CAMBRIDGE IN WW1
My maternal grandfather, George Maltby born in 1899, into the extended Maltby family living in Cambridge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His father Samuel, like other members of the family, was a robe maker and tailor; family anecdotes even suggest that he was involved in the preparation of the coronation robes of Edward V11 in 1901! According to the 1891 census, Samuel and his wife Sarah aka Annie, lived with their five children in the Dog and Pheasant Public house in South Street, Cambridge. By the census of 1901, they had moved to 24, Norfolk Street and had nine children living at home. In 1911, they had moved again to 41, Norfolk Street and now many of the older children had moved out leaving only five living with their parents.
At the outbreak of the Great War, four of the sons were of an age making them eligible for military service, whilst my grandfather George became of such an age in 1917. The four sons were Sidney- born in 1880, Charles- born in 1882 [although he had gone to Canada before 1914] Samuel - born in 1890 and Frank- born in 1896. My great-grand father Samuel also had many close relatives, all of whom had sons eligible for war service in 1914/15. These included: Arthur W Maltby - born in 1889, his brother Samuel R D Maltby – born in 1894, and cousins Frederick E Maltby- born in 1894 and William R Maltby - born in 1896. However, there must have been many other Cambridge Maltbys who fought in WW1 but as a start I decided to limit my researches to these men.
Figure 2. Maltby Family Tree ( C R Weekes )
So let me begin with the Maltbys of Norfolk Street. The oldest was Sidney who was a boot maker before enlisting on 15th December 1915 at the age of 35 - quite old. He was married and living in Dillon Lane, Cambridge and according to his attestation papers was tall at 6 feet.
Figure 3. Attestation Sidney Maltby ( Ancestry.com )
He joined up at a time when the initial surge of patriotic enlistment was beginning to wane.. In late 1915 the government introduced the ‘Derby’ or group scheme. Under this scheme, men went through the normal process of enlistment and then had the choice of either going straight into the Army or returning to civvy street to await their call up. Those men who deferred their service lived a normal life, wearing an arm band to denote that they were members of Section B Army Reserve, thereby avoiding the dreaded white feather.
Sidney was in Group 15 of the scheme and was mobilised on 12th October 1915 when he was posted to the RGA as gunner 124979 going to a training camp at Clipstone a colliery village in Nottinghamshire. Clipstone was one of the specialist large scale training camps, built of wooden huts to accommodate the growing ranks of the New Army. After this initial training Sidney, on 16 November 1916, was sent to the RGA depot at Southampton. His army service papers are available online though they are water damaged and difficult to read in places. They show that he appeared to be in the UK at various depots for most of the war. However his Medal Index shows that he was eligible for the British War and Victory medals so he did serve in an overseas theatre of war. In fact, on 23 October 1918, he was posted to France to serve in 244 AA which was the Anti Aircraft section of the RGA, using 3 inch 20 cwt AA guns. The 244th was part of the Northern Battery protecting the BEF lines of communication during the later part of the war. There are no 244 AA Battery diaries available in the National Archives so Sidney’s story is a brief one although his service record shows some odd details at the end of his army career. On 16/2/19 he was granted leave to the UK until 24/2/19 that was then extended to 5/3/19. On the 16/3/19 he appears to have been posted to another AA battery. Then on 21/5/19 he was sent to 30 General Hospital, Calais with unspecified medical problems. This might have been related to the flu pandemic that ravaged the BEF during late 1918 and early 1919 and which was especially virulent amongst the 20 to 40 year olds. Altogether he appears to have then spent 46 days in hospital ending on 15/7/1919. In his file is a letter from his wife Ethel asking where Sidney was, because she had not heard from him since 14th March after he had returned from his leave. Finally Sidney Maltby was transferred to class Z army reserve on 14/8/1919 and returned home to the UK probably to Wisbech, where his wife was living.
Figure 4. Letter from Ethel Maltby Sid’s Wife ( Ancestry.com )
Samuel J Maltby was born in 1890 and by the census of 1911 was no longer living with his parents at 41, Norfolk Street, Cambridge. He was employed as a Bill Poster with the New Theatre Company. His medal index card shows that he served with the Suffolk and Norfolk regiments and was sent abroad on 23/2/1915 thereby being entitled to the 1914/15 Star and the British War and Victory medals. These three medals became known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred - named after cartoon characters popular in the 1920s when the medals were first issued.
Figure 5. Medal Index Card Samuel J Maltby ( N A Kew )
Samuel J‘s card also shows that he had the Silver War Badge – SWB, that was first issued in September 1916 to those who were discharged or retired from the services as a result of sickness or injury caused by their war service. It is sometimes said that the SWB was introduced to avoid people thinking that that the man wearing it was avoiding his patriotic duty to fight for King and Country. The Medal roll of the Norfolk regiment shows that Samuel J. had served as Private 3/8912 with the 1st battalion the Suffolk regiment and later as Pte 20002 with the Norfolks. His entry for the SWB register shows that he enlisted on 19/2/1914 and was discharged on 14/11/1916 with Cardiac Dilataiois.
Figure 6. 1914/15 Star Medal Roll Sam J Maltby ( N A Kew )
Fortunately his Army service record has survived intact and thus provides a detailed picture of his career. He joined up in the Army reserve as a Special Reservist with the 3rd Bn Suffolk regiment on 19/2/1914 and was passed medically fit for duty. He was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 8 st 5 lbs. As a reservist, he would have trained at the depot in Bury St Edmunds. He was called up on 8/8/1914 and on 18/12/14 was posted to 1st Bn Suffolks; but then on 23/12 /14 he was reposted to 5th Bn Suffolks before on 22/2/15 he went back to the 1st Bn - going to France sailing from Southampton with them on 23/2 /15, joining the Bn on 4/3/15. At the time the 1st Bn Suffolks were in the Ypres sector at Ploegsteert and then in trenches in Kemmel. At this time, Samuel was in hospital for two days although his medical record does not say why. On April 12th the Battalion moved to Poperinghe and then onwards to the front line at Zonnebeke. This was an area where the opposing trenches were very close - less than 10 yards from each other. Thus there was a constant exchange of fire with bombs grenades and trench mortars. On 24th April the Bn went back to brigade reserve. It was at this point that Samuel Maltby’s war came to a temporary end. According to his medical record sheet, he sprained his ankle and was sent to a hospital in Boulogne base camp followed by No 2 general hospital in Rouen. Then on 29/4/1915 he was sent to the UK. It then appears that after recovering sufficiently to be pronounced fit for active service he was transferred to the 3rd Bn Norfolk regiment - a home based battalion in Felixstowe. As Pte 20002 he did not have to wait long to be posted to the 2nd Battalion Norfolk Regiment that was part of the 18th Bde 6th (Poona) division of the Indian army. Thus Samuel on 19/1/1916 was sent out to Mesopotamia where he remained until 10/5/1916. Samuel must have been in that part of the 2nd Battalion Norfolks that was not trapped in Kut and forced to surrender to the Turks on 29th April 1916 one of the great disasters of the WW1. The war diary WO95/5138 reveals some details of the activities during the period February to May 1916 when a force was gathered together in a failed attempt to relieve Kut.
4/2/16 Composite English Battn formed with detachments of 2nd Norfolks and 2nd Dorset Regt. The battn. Being detailed to the 21st Bde. Strength of the Battn on this date 45 officers 850 ORs.
8/2/16 Battn left camp for trenches and took over that part of the line adjoining the left bank of TIGRIS (see map trenches in front of Hanna Figure 7)
29/2/16 The men were tired the Bn having had little rest since 6th of month. It started to rain at 12 noon and conditions could hardly be worse. It was found impossible to get any food or tools into the trenches that night.
31st March Between 21st and 31st March the extra vigilance necessitated by our close proximity to the enemy ( 150 yds ) rapid construction of new trenches and the large amount of digging which had fallen upon the men have undoubtedly told upon the men who are at the present moment much fatigued.
12Th April At 4pm strong northerly winds arose which brought up the marsh and flooded the trenches. At approach of darkness enemy left his trench in our front offering a fine target which was taken advantage of.
22nd April At 6 15am 19th Bde attacked and 21st Bde stood fast to await orders.
At 7 30 am 21st Bde moved in support of 19th it became evident that 19th Bde had been obliged to give way before the enemy’s counter attack. We were practically powerless to assist in beating back this counter attack.
The enemy advanced and appeared to be gathering for a further counter attack this was dispersed by our artillery who inflicted heavy losses on the Turks who withdrew. About 10 30 am the enemy showed a white flag and an informal armistice took place lasting until sundown. During the armistice all our wounded were collected up to the enemy’s front line. Turks would not allow our parties to cross their front line trench.
Our casualties were;
13 officers wounded
22 ORs killed
146 ORs wounded
Figure 7. Mesopotamia Map ( Unknown )
From the above account it seems as if the Mesopotamian campaign had similarities with the Western Front in the trenches with flooding and the dominance of artillery fire power.
Contact with the Norfolk regiment museum in Norwich produced Samuel’s medical record showing that he developed signs of an illness during the voyage to Mesopotamia in January 1916 and that, in late April, he had a fever and developed colitis so badly that he was sent off to Bombay to the Gerard Freeman hospital on 11/5/1916. The next entry shows that on 4/6/1916 he was in the 15th General Hospital Alexandria Egypt with Enteric Fever namely Typhoid after which he was sent home to the UK on 12/7/1916 in the Hospital Ship, Gloucester Castle. Arriving on 23/7/1916, he was transferred to West General Hospital in Manchester where he remained until the end of October 1916. The Gloucester Castle had been a hospital ship since September 1914 and had been used in the Dardenelles. She was torpedoed in March 1917 in the English Channel, but did not sink and was repaired as a merchant vessel - eventually being sunk in WW2. On 24/10/1916 the medical board report showed that Samuel had Cardiac Dilataiois meaning he had a weakened heart caused by the active service and climatic conditions as described in the war diary above. Thus on 14/11/1916 he was discharged as medically unfit for any further service in the Army and on 16/12/1916 he received the SWB no 104979. He also received a war pension which according to his Army service record was annually reviewed with the last entry dated 10 April 1918 - although he probably continued to receive his war pension long after this. His experience of WW1 was almost totally confined to the inside of numerous military hospitals across the Western Front, Mesopotamia, India, Egypt and finally Manchester !!!
Figure 8. Bombay Hospital ( Unknown )
Let us now turn to Frank Herbert Maltby, born in 1896. By the outbreak of war in 1914, Frank was living with his married sister and working at the Central Meat Co. Burleigh Street Cambridge.
Figure 9. Frank, Sidney and parents ( Maltby family archives )
Frank was the only one of the Maltbys on my list who was killed in WW1. I know this because my mother has an IN MEMORIAM CARD (Figure 1) which says that he was killed on July 19th 1917 whilst serving in 5th Bn Yorkshire regiment - having been transferred from the Cambridgeshire regiment. He was buried in Heninel Military Cemetary. Researching someone who was killed in WW1 is an easier proposition because you can consult the CWGC and UK Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 online data bases. These confirmed the details on the card, plus his regimental number 242470 in the 5th Bn Yorkshires. However, he is now buried in the Heninel Communal Cemetery Extension. His Medal Index Card and the Yorkshire regiment Medal Roll both show him as being a private in the 5th Bn Yorkshires with two numbers 5211 and 242470 but no reference to the Cambridgeshires. The same Yorkshire regiment Medal Roll shows another Maltby as being in the 5th Yorkshires with numbers 5212 and 242471. Further research showed this to be Samuel Richard David Maltby son of William and Susan Maltby of 4, Cheddars Lane Cambridge, born in 1894 and in 1914 employed as a labourer with the Cambridge Brick Company. Online research by my wife established that these two Maltbys were cousins and served together in A company no 2 platoon 5th Bn Yorkshires until Frank was killed in 1917. Fortunately Samuel RD’s army service record survives giving much useful detail.
Figure 10. Medal Roll Yorkshire Regiment ( N A Kew )
Samuel RD was a volunteer, joining the territorials on 7th January 1914 and called up on 5th August 1914 into the 2/1 Bn. Cambridgeshires as Pte 1694 having elected not to go overseas immediately. So it was fair to assume that Frank was also in the 2/1 Bn Cambridgeshires. I confirmed this to be so through correspondence with Cliff Brown the WFA Cambridgeshire Chairman who showed that Frank joined up in November 1914 going into the 2/1 Bn Cambridgeshires with his cousin Samuel. There are two numbers on his Medal Index Card because, in the spring of 1917, the territorial Battalions were renumbered to a 6 figure system. Cliff Brown has compiled a significant database which shows that 161 men from various Cambridgeshire training Bns were transferred to 5th Reserve Bn Yorkshire regiment, probably at Catterick on 23th August 1916. Such was the bureaucratic structure of the British army that someone in a UK based territorial unit of one regiment could only be transferred to a territorial unit of another regiment. These men were then transferred to the 1/5th Bn Yorkshires before sailing from Folkstone to Boulogne on 30th August 1916. On 19th September 1916 some of these Cambridge men were transferred from 1/5th to the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshires - both were in the 150th Bde of the 50th Northumbrian Division.
So where did the Maltby cousins Frank and Samuel serve with the 50th Division ?
Here we are not short of information for there are the Divisional Histories: - ‘The Fiftieth Division 1914-1919’ by Everard Wyrall, the Regimental History ‘The Green Howards in the Great War’ by H C Wylly, the 5th Bn War Diary WO95/2836 and two excellent websites 4th Battalion Yorkshire regiment and Yorkshire Regiment WW1. From all of these I have pieced together this summary of the Maltby’s experiences with the 5th Yorkshires. A more comprehensive account can be found on the Yorkshire Regiment WW1 website.
Their introduction to battle occurred during the latter part of the Somme. On 15th September 1916 the 50th Division attacked as part of the battle of Flers-Courcelette, which was the first time that a creeping barrage had been used and the first time that tanks were seen in action - though only two of them supported this attack. The objectives were achieved and on 25th September the advance north continued in the Battle of Morval. On 28th the 5th Yorkshires were relieved and so ended their contribution to the Somme. The 150th Bde was indeed lucky not to be used in the final futile attack on the Butte de Warlencourt in November 1916, which cost the lives of so many men from the Durham Light Infantry in the 151st Bde.
Christmas Day 1916 was fittingly celebrated according to the war diary:
Christmas Day was kept up in style pigs replacing turkeys and the Battalion band played carols. From home the kind folk of the north sent the men many extras and altogether the festivities were a great success.
On April 1st 1917 the Bn began a route march that ended on 12th April with their arrival in Arras and life in the caves under this ruined city. The Battle of Arras is not as well known as the Somme or Third Ypres, yet it involved a large part of the BEF and became the most costly battle of them all, with daily casualty rates twice those of the Somme. It lasted from 9th April to 16th May 1917. The first phase up to April 14th went very well and at this point Haig would have liked to have ended it. The French insisted that it be continued in order to take the German’s attention away from the planned French attack on the Chemin Des Dames. During the first phase 5th Yorkshires were in Divisional reserve in the RONVILLE caves, which had been carved out by the RE tunnellers under the city The second phase commenced on St. George’s Day, 23rd April and included the 150th Bde attack on the village of Wancourt, south of Arras. The attack held its ground but not without casualties of 18 killed, 123 wounded and 57 missing. Samuel RD Maltby was one of the wounded, being sent to no.12 General Hospital, Rouen. He remained there until 12th December 1917, when he was discharged and sent to base depot at Etaples. Frank and the rest of 5th Bn returned to the caves in Arras and by May they found themselves back in the front line around Fontaine les Croiselles and Cherisy, both small villages south of Arras. The Battle of Arras proper had finished, but the shelling continued on the front line with the Germans not being prepared to give ground. One such incident occurred on 19th July 1917 when at 4.15am the Germans laid down a very heavy barrage along the whole sector occupied by the 150th Bde, which preceded an attack. This was driven off, but the shelling had killed 15 men of 5th Bn including my great uncle Frank Maltby aged 21. His mother Sarah was overcome with grief according to my grandfather George who was in a training Battalion at the time.
Figure 11. Remains of German defences Fontaine les Croisilles Arras ( C R Weekes )
On 1st August the Cambridge Chronicle did a piece on Frank including a quote from his commanding officer:
I have not been with the company long ; I had already noticed the quiet demeanour and intelligence displayed by your son and we will miss him very much. He died the death of a British soldier with his face to the enemy. Arrangements have been made for his body to be interred in an English cemetery and a cross erected over his grave.
Figure 12. Frank H Maltby (Cambridge Chronicle August 1917)
Today Frank’s grave and those of the others killed on 19th July 1917, including men from Cambridgeshire can be seen in the Heninel Communal Cemetery Extension. Frank Maltby is also commemorated on the panels in the Guild Hall Cambridge and on those inside Ely Cathedral that commemorate all the Cambridgeshire men who died in WW1.
Figure 13. Heninel Communal Cemetery Extension CWGC ( C R Weekes )
One can only imagine Samuel RD’s thoughts on hearing of Frank’s death as he recovered from his wounds in a Rouen hospital. As well as being shocked and upset at the loss of his cousin he must also have been relieved, for had he not been wounded, he would have been in that same trench and have met the same fate. WW1 was full of good and bad luck!!! It is probable that Samuel RD Maltby returned to the 5th Bn Yorkshire regiment in early1918, having been discharged to base camp in December 1917. The Long Long Trail says that 64% of the wounded returned to duty although it was usual for them to be drafted to another unit. In Samuel RD’s case, it was unusual for he returned to his old unit, which had now returned to the trenches of the Ypres sector. In March 1918 they were south east of Amiens in a training camp, when, on 21st the Germans launched their offensive to push the BEF back to the channel ports and to split them from the French. The 50th Division was ordered to meet this attack east of Amiens and became involved in a bloody rearguard action and retreat, trying to hold the line and prevent the enemy from crossing the river Somme. The 150th Brigade finished this withdrawal on 1st April with only 849 men from its 3 battalions. The 50th Divisional history pays this tribute;
To the undying glory of the British soldier, let it be remembered of him that in the greatest battle the world has ever known, he carried himself with great honour and courage fighting the harder as the situation grew more desperate, often preferring death to surrender.
On 9th April the 50th Division was moved north to the area around Bethune and the River Lys just as the Germans began the second phase of their attempt to drive the BEF into the sea. The 50th Division had to try to fill the gap in the line caused by the collapse of the Portuguese troops. The 50th Division took another pounding, so that when it was relieved on 16th April the 5th Yorkshires had sustained 698 casualties between 21st March and 12th April. At least, this time, their efforts and sacrifice were recognized by General Horne of the 1st Army:
I appreciate the magnificent way in which the 50th Division have fought since 9th not only against overwhelming superiority of numbers but under particularly difficult circumstances.
The Division and its regiments had experienced big losses. New recruits, including 18 year olds released from UK based training camps, joined the old timers like 24 year old Samuel RD Maltby who must have thought that he had led a charmed life. If he thought he had already seen the worst, then he was to be mistaken.
Certain Divisions of the BEF had suffered more than others during the March and April German offensives.
Figure 14. German Offensives 1918 ( 1/4th Bn Yorkshire website Bill Danby )
These were the 8th, 21st, 25th and 50th Divisions and they were sent to a quiet sector of the French controlled front line in the Chemin des Dames area. The 5th Yorkshires occupied a part of the ridge known as the Plateau de Californie and trained its new recruits, fresh from England.
Figure 15. Plateau de Californie Aisne ( C R Weekes )
Then on 27th May 1918, the peaceful zone was shattered by an almighty barrage followed at 4.30 am by another German attack. The Battle of the Aisne had begun. The 5th Bn Yorkshires was soon overwhelmed and its O C Lt Col Thomson was shot dead and the 150th Bde commander Brig General Rees was taken prisoner. It was indeed a black day, especially for the 50th division and its old battalions which effectively ceased to exist. The Divisional History sums it up:
The terrible disaster which befell the infantry of 50th division on 27th May saw the end of all those gallant battalions which, whenever possible had put up a stout resistance. But the majority were surrounded and forced to surrender before they could come into action.
The 27th May 1918 marked the end of Pte 242471 Samuel RD Maltby’s war. Like so many others, he became a P O W with the mixed feelings of relief that he was alive, together with those of guilt and the nagging question as to whether he could have done more. His army service record shows that he was listed as missing on 27th May 1918. It contains a letter from his wife asking his regiment where he was, as she had not heard from him for over a month.
Figure 16. Letter from Samuel R D Maltby’s wife ( Ancestry.com )
The record tells us that he was repatriated to the UK on 19th December having spent 7 months of hardship in one of the 167 POW camps in Germany along with the other 175000 imprisoned other ranks, 50% of whom had been captured between 21st March and 11th November 1918. The records also contain correspondence between his old employer and the Army, resulting in Samuel being released from Army service on 19th January 1919 and returning to his old job at the Cambridge Brick Company. He had indeed been one of the lucky ones, not only in that he had survived the Great War, but also because he had civilian employment at a time when the employment market was swamped by returning soldiers. For many it was not the land fit for heroes that they returned to.
The last of the Maltby boys living at 41 Norfolk Street to be called up was my grandfather George Mason Maltby. He was born on 14/1/1899 and according to the 1911 census was a schoolboy living at home with his parents Samuel and Sarah. At the time of his brother Frank’s death in August 1917 George was in the 18th Training Reserve.
Figure 17. George Mason Maltby 1917 ( Maltby family archives )
From September 1916 the structure of the training changed to cope with the massive increase in the numbers being trained for the new citizen army. Links with local regiments were broken. The 18th TR was based at Seaford in Sussex and from May 1917 it became known as the 18th Young Soldier Battalion. Unfortunately George Maltby’s WW1 service record is not available online, although I did obtain his WW2 record from the Army records office Glasgow after an 18 month wait which told me that he had joined the army on 7/3/1917 and was de-mobbed on 30/12/1918. His Medal Index card shows that he was in the Queens Regiment, The Royal West Surreys as Pte G/63380 and that he was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory medals. The Medal Roll of the RWS shows that George was in the 1st Battalion of the Queens, whose cap badge is the distinctive Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God. Like many WW1 veterans, my grand dad George did not say much about his experiences although he did tell my father once that he had spent some time at Passchendaele. I can only guess that after the requisite period of training with the 18th TR, in the autumn of 1917 he was transferred to whichever unit required new drafts, in his case - the 1st Battalion RWS.
In October 1917 the 1st Bn was in the 100th Bde of the 33rd Division south of Hazebrouck when it was inspected by Sir Douglas Haig C in C BEF. Its war diary WO95/2430 describes the scene:
October 3rd Battalion paraded at 10 am and marched to SERQUES and was drawn up on three sides of a square. The C in C arrived at about 11 40 am and was received with a general salute. Units were then ordered to march past in fours. After passing the saluting base battalion returned to billets. The C in C expressed at the close of the parade his great satisfaction with the turn out and general appearance of all units and in particular on the excellent handling of arms.
During the latter part of 1917, the 1st Bn RWS was in the southern part of the Ypres sector around the village of Neuve Eglise. Then in January 1918, they moved north to Zonnebeke, east of Ypres where they were transferred to the 19th Infantry Brigade which was still part of 33rd Division, then into trenches south of Passchendaele. This was a period of trench raids as demonstrated by the war diary entry of 11.1.1918.
At about 1.30 am a German fighting patrol numbering from 12 to 15 men which had secreted itself near men of the advanced posts rushed the listening post consisting of two men overpowering and gagging them but not before they had given the alarm to the post. The latter immediately opened Lewis gun and rifle fire on the Germans who were dragging away the two men of the listening post. One man by dealing a blow with his fist knocked out the German and escaped. The other was reported missing.
At the time of the German offensive on 21st March 1918, the RWS were still in the Ypres sector and were therefore not affected by it. Their time came when the Germans launched the second of their offensives on 9th April, the Battle of the Lys. On 11th April 1918, 1st RWS were at METEREN east of Hazebrouk which was the target of the German attack - it being a major railway hub. On 12th they took up positions south of the village and were ordered to defend it from the enemy attack.
Their War Diary appendix for the operation 12 to 14 April 1918 provides great details of the action around Meteren. The enemy attacked in waves but the defenders were able to inflict heavy casualties upon them. One diary entry conveys the seriousness of the situation:
13th APRIL 1918
12. 35 am. The holding of the front is made more precarious owing to the enemy being in occupation of OUTTERSTEENE from which most of the line is infiladed I suggest that , as soon as troops become available, every effort should be made to secure this place and MERRIS.
Although the Battalion and other units holding this position had to make several withdrawals under heavy attacks and artillery bombardments, they held the line. On 15th April 1918 at 3 45 am, they were relieved, having suffered 357 casualties killed, wounded or missing. George Maltby had survived.
In May, the battalion again found themselves in the thick of it around STEENVORDE, before having some R and R. On 20th May the 19th Brigade was inspected by the Army Commander General Sir Herbert PLUMER .
The brigade was formed up in a hollow square at 11 30 am each of the three sides being a battalion in mass formation.. After distributing ribbons, Gen Plumer delivered a speech in which he congratulated the 33rd Division and the 19th Brigade upon the excellent work done at the critical time on 12/16th April in the operation around Bailleul and Miteren. The Battalion marched past Gen Plumer at the conclusion of his speech.
The Summer of 1918 was spent in and out of the trenches in the sector SW of Ypres with Brandhoek as the billeting area. In July, the 1st RWS like many other BEF units was involved in helping the newly arrived Americans to adjust to trench warfare. A company of the 1/119th USA infantry company was attached to the Battalion. By mid September the Battalion had been moved further south and was to be involved in the 100 Days Advance to Victory. Everything was very fluid and rapid - moving into October with a major action NE of the Selle river between 22/26 October. Here, the main objective was to get the enemy out of the village of Englefontaine. The attack by 1st Bn the Queens took place between 0100 and 0500 on 26th October and was totally successful as explained in the war diary:
The attack was entirely successful and our casualties only 17. The enemy seemed demoralized and surprised by the suddenness of the attack which was vigorously pressed home. They speedily gave themselves up in large numbers all of whom it was impossible to collect.
On 6th November the 1st Bn Queens became the advance unit of 33rd Division and crossed the River Sambre taking all objectives until on 11/11/1918 the guns fell silent. There are no celebratory references in the war diary.
11th News of Germany’s acceptance of the Allied Armistice Terms received at 0835 hrs. With the exception of necessary routine no work was done on this day. 173 ORS joined Bn from Base.
The great war had ended and the 1st Queens retired from the old front line to find decent billets and hot baths. Army routine continued as the men prepared themselves for life out of the army as the war diary describes:
26th The route march detailed for 25th took place. There were no men falling out.
A lecture was given at the Div. Recreation Room by the Rev. S Kennedy on ‘Demobilisation'
On December 4th the monotony of the general routine was broken by a special event.
Training & general routine carried out until 11.00 hrs. At 11.25 Bn paraded and marched to where they were formed up in mass with the officers grouped just clear of the road.
At about 12.25 hrs H M the King drove past in his car on his way from ELINCOURT to LIGNY and was heartily cheered.
In late December the Battalion moved to Amiens where it celebrated Christmas 1918 the first without war since 1913.
Dec. 25th Corps commanders Xmas Greetings received. The G O C s 33rd Divn and 19th Bde visited the Bn in person to convey their Good Wishes.
The Xmas dinners of B, D, Bn HQ and the Drums were held today.
26th Special Orders of the day by the C in C received publishing the Xmas Greetings of H.M The King, H M The Queen and those of Field Marshall Sir D. Haig.
The Xmas dinners of A & D Coys were held today.
On 30/12/1918 Pte George Maltby was officially de-mobbed and returned to England to go through the demobilisation process. He returned to Cambridge and in the early 1920s moved to Chelmsford where he met and married my grandmother Winifred Jarvis.
So to the other Maltbys who were the various cousins of those living at 41 Norfolk Street. Earlier I talked about the cousin Samuel Richard David Maltby who was with my great uncle Frank in the 5th Bn Yorkshires. He had an older brother Arthur William Maltby, born in 1889, and at the time of 1911 census was residing at 4 Cheddars Lane, Cambridge. He worked at the Cambridge Brick Company as a carter with his father and his brother Samuel RD. At the outbreak of the war in August 1914, he did not volunteer, probably because he had only just got married to Mary Lucas in 1913. Yet, he has a Medal Index Card showing that he was in three different regiments and was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals so he must have served in a theatre of operation.
Figure 18. Medal Index Card Arthur W Maltby ( N A Kew )
Regrettably, his Army service records have not survived. To find out more I engaged the services of fourteeneighteen research services, one of the many organisations that can do the detective work for you. They found out that Arthur was one of the Derby or Group scheme recruits, in Group 41 which was called up on 29th May 1916. He did his basic training at Felixstowe with 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Essex Regiment and was sent to France in September 1916, going to No 15 Infantry Base depot at Etaples. It appears that he and a lot of others were all lined up to join the 10th Essex, but just as this was about to happen, the orders were changed and they were sent to the 12th Suffolks on 30th September1916.
This had been one of the Bantam battalions which took men under 5 ft 3 ins - the minimum height for the army at the outbreak of the war. The 12th Suffolks were part of the121st Brigade – originally made up of Bantam Battalions and was in the 40th Division. The more I find out about WW1 the more I am convinced that luck was a main factor deciding death or survival. Part of this luck was in which army unit you found yourself. There were those like 8th, 18th, 47th, 51st and 56th Divisions, who were frequently chosen by the high command to do the difficult jobs The 40th was not one of these and so Arthur had a relatively easy war. The 40th took no part in either the Somme or the Battle of Arras and in 1917 it was located in the area NE of Peronne where the war diary tells us of their life in the trenches:
The weather was perfect and the sector quiet, the village providing fruit and vegetables for those who sought. Amid surroundings where the rigour of war could sometimes be forgotten it was perhaps only fitting that the battalion should receive a rude reminder of the enemy’s presence when one day in the early morning mist a section of the front line was gas shelled causing a score of casualties mostly fatal before the presence of gas was detected.
In November 1917 the 12th Suffolks were involved in the Battle of Cambrai, made famous because of the use of massed tanks for the first time. On 23rd November, 121st brigade attacked in the mist over 1000 yards of heavily shelled land and through heavy machine gun fire. Whilst a few reached the objective of Bourlon Village, they were forced to retire with 12th Suffolks suffering 150 casualties. Cambrai was another battle that started well and ended with little territorial gains.
After this, 12th Suffolks spent the early part of 1918 in and around Bullecourt south of Arras. On 21st March 1918, the expected German offensive began and the 40th division found themselves right in the path of the storm troopers at St Leger south of Arras. Almost surrounded, with their C O killed, it was a miracle that the survivors were able to withdraw under cover of darkness with 367 casualties in just a few days. The 12th Suffolks were withdrawn and sent north to the area around Armentieres, just as the Germans launched their second attack at the point to which the 12th Bn had been sent. The Bn put up stout resistance holding up the enemy attack and making a strategic withdrawal to the major railway terminal of Hazebrouk. Their defence around the village of Fleurbaix prompted the C in C Sir Douglas Haig to say :
In this fighting very gallant service was rendered by the 12th Battalion Suffolk Regiment 40th Division who held out in Fleurbaix until the evening though heavily attacked on three sides.
This was the end of 12th Bn involvement. Having lost 423 men, it was reduced to a training unit and sent back to the UK. Arthur Maltby and others were sent to Infantry Base depot at Rouen and then in June 1918 he was sent to 2nd Battalion Northants Regiment part of 24th Brigade of 8th Division. The 8th division was one of the main fighting units of the BEF and had been severely battered by the German March, April and May offensives. Again Arthur was lucky for the 8th Division was not used in the Advance to Victory until late October 1918. At the time of the Armistice the battalion was in the village of Bernissart, NE of Valenciennes on the Franco- Belgian border.
The war diary relates the news of the end of the war with amazing understatement.
11.11.18 Battalion remained in billets at BERNISSART. Armistice with Germany commenced at 11.00 when all fighting ceased.
12.11.18 Received news that 8th Division was to be one of those forming the Army of Occupation of Germany.
In early 1919 Arthur and his comrades were chosen to represent the 3rd Corps in a march past of the King of the Belgians in Brussels. Their war diary recounts this memorable occasion in much greater detail than it had announced the end of the war!
BRUSSELS Jan 26th The regiment marched past in eights with bayonets fixed. On reaching the King of the Belgians who was accompanied by the Prince of Wales and Prince Albert at the Palace the Regimental Band wheeled to the left countermarched and halted playing the regiment past to the Regimental march (Lincolnshire Poacher)
Jan 31st Regimental Order “ the King of the Belgians has asked me to convey to all ranks of 3rd Corps and especially to those who took part in the march past in Brussels on January 26th not only his pleasure the opportunity it afforded him and the population of Brussels of seeing British troops march through Brussels for the first time since Waterloo but also his personal appreciation of the soldierly bearing and turnout of the troops.
According to the Northants Medal Roll, Arthur Maltby was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve on 13th February1919. He went to England to a Dispersal Camp and went through the necessary army bureaucracy before returning to Cambridge, his wife Mary and possibly his old job at the Cambridge Brick Company .
Another cousin was William Robert Maltby born in1896. At the time of the 1911 census, he was living at 49, Beche Road, Cambridge with his widowed mother Sarah Maltby. Aged 14, he had left school and was an errand boy with Freeman Hardy and Willis. Fortunately his Service record is available telling us that he joined the territorials on 7th January 1914 - the very same day as his cousin Samuel RD Maltby. William was mobilized on 5.8.14 when he was still 17 years old. His Medal Index card says that he was sent overseas on 14.2.15 as Pte 1835 in A Company 1st Bn Cambridgshire Regiment, part of the 27th Infantry Division. He was the only one of all these Maltbys to serve in his county regiment. The Casualty Form ‘Active service’ confirms that he embarked from Southampton on 14.2.15 and that on 9.5.15 he was wounded in action near to Ypres. He was initially treated by the 81st Field Ambulance attached to the 27th Division. Each Division had 3 such Field Ambulances which was a front line medical unit providing a Walking Wounded Collecting station. On 10.5.15 he was sent to the No 1 Canadian Stationary Hospital which had been located at Wimereux, N of Boulogne between March and July 1915 before it was transferred to the Dardennelles. His wound was a ‘Blighty One’ for, on 11.5.15, he was transferred to 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton, which operated from a number of school buildings, including the local Grammar school. From the report of the Medical Board dated 24.6.16 it appears that on 8.5.15 at Ypres he was struck by a piece of shrapnel on the inner side of the left forearm. After an operation, his wrist could be flexed but not extended and fingers could be extended but could not be voluntarily flexed. As a consequence of this, he was passed unfit for any kind of Army service and was discharged from the army on 20.7.16 at the Shoreham Depot with a pension and the SWB no 33746 at the age of only 19.
Figure 19. William R Maltby SWB roll ( N A Kew )
The 1st Bn Cambridgeshire war diary WO95/2266 tells us some details of their time in and around Ypres during March to May 1915.
1.3.15 The question of defective rifles in the Bn. Several of those fired at TERDEGHEM failed to fire.
2.4.15 Bn paraded and marched to Ypres. HQ in Sanctuary Wood.
19.4.15 Hill 60 captured by 5th Division. This caused tremendous bombardment with shells going over us all night.
25.4.15 HQ and C Coy less one platoon proceeded to Sanctuary Wood shortly followed by A Company.
7.5.15 HQ and A coy to Brigade HQ at Ypres. Shelling around a school several hit. Rations taken to Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. D coy to No 2 and 3 trenches .B coy to No 11 and 12 trenches. Relieving Royal Irish Fusilers.
8.5.15 A coy and C coy on standby to meet an attack. A coy fall in at noon to take rations to Sanctuary Wood.
9.5.15 A coy. Germans fired trench mortars into trenches 11 and 12.
The last entry is the action during which William Maltby became a casualty and brought his war to an end only three months after he had landed in France. In the Cambridge Chronicle of 4.6.16 and 14.8.16 William Maltby appears in the list of 1st Cambridge casualties together with a photograph of a fresh faced young man who had now become disabled as the result of the war. He had a pension, which was reviewed annually and in 1920, he too received the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred medals to commemorate his very brief time in the battle lines.
Figure 20. William R Maltby ( Cambridge Chronicle 1916 )
And so we come to the last of the Maltbys in my current researches. Frederick Ernest Maltby - another cousin of the Norfolk Street and Cheddars Lane families. Frederick was born in 1894 and at the time of the 1911 census he was living with his father Ernest who was a robe maker and his mother Jane at 21, Broad Street, Cambridge. He was17 and employed as a Museum assistant in a Botany Department. (Fitzwilliam ?) His service record exists, telling us that he joined the Territorial Force on 19th April 1915 in the RAMC, possibly because he had a scientific bent from his job. He was mobilized on 19.4.15 as Pte 1816 (later 481126) R A M C and posted to 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge. The Long Long Trail website explains that, as the war progressed and especially after the high casualty rates of the Somme, the medical facilities both at home and overseas were stretched to the limit. A number of hospitals had been identified before the war for use by the territorial forces. They were used for training purposes and at the outbreak of war were staffed by a mixture of TF nursing personnel and volunteers from other organisations. One such hospital was the 1st Eastern General in Cambridge which had 1191 other ranks beds. 1st Eastern had its HQ in Trinity College, with beds in the Leys school, in the grounds of Trinity College and in temporary buildings on the cricket grounds of Clare and Kings. Later, part of Addenbrookes was commandeered and in effect became an extension of the 1st Eastern.
Figure 21. 1st Eastern General Hospital Clare College Cambridge ( Unknown )
Figure 22. Ward of 1st Eastern General Hospital ( Unknown )
According to his Army service record, Frederick spent the whole of his service from 19/4/15 to 8/3/19 on the Home Front and therefore was not entitled to any War medals and has no Medal Index card. On 27.11.15 he passed an examination to become an operating theatre attendant and on 28.3.16 he was promoted to Corporal. He appears to have been stationed in Cambridge for most of his service, although on 28.3.18, his record shows that he returned to the rank of Pte on a change of station to Blackpool, which was a major training camp for the RAMC. I do not know how long he remained in Blackpool, but his demob papers of 8.2.1919 were signed from Thetford which suggests that he had returned to the Eastern region at some point. The hospitals at home functioned well after the war had ended and Frederick was not actually demobbed until 8.3.19, by which time he was living in Bristol, although his records show that he remained in the Territorials until 21.3.1920.
This has been the story of men related by the name Maltby, all of a similar age, living in and around the city of Cambridge. None of them was remarkable, just ordinary working class men required to do their duty. None were officers, and most remained as private soldiers during their Army experiences. All but one received the War medals given to those who served overseas and none had any recognition of conspicuous bravery in battle. All but one returned to the land fit for heroes and resumed their lives although no doubt impacted by what they had experienced and witnessed in a war that had changed the world and Great Britain forever.
Figure 23. Cambridge City WW1 War Memorial ( C R Weekes )
THE JARVIS AND LIVERMORE FAMILIES OF FELSTED ESSEX IN WW1
Figure 24. My Grandmother seated in a white dress about 1915 (Jarvis family archives)
THE JARVIS FAMILY
My great-grandfather Arthur Jarvis, a farm bailiff at Woods Farm, Bannister Green was married to Lucy, nee Livermore, and by 1901 they had six children, including two sons Albert and Ernest. Arthur’s cousin, Robert Jarvis lived at number 1 Pond Park Gate and was a horseman with two sons, Albert and Frank.
Figure 25. The Family Tree ( C R Weekes )
Let us begin with the story of Ernest Jarvis my grand mother’s favourite brother whom she called Bunny. Ernest was born in 1890 the second oldest in the Jarvis family of Wood Farm .By 1914 he had moved away from Felsted and the agricultural life and went to live in Chelmsford where he worked in a local store Luckin Smiths.
Figure 26. Ernest Jarvis before he joined the Army ( Jarvis family archives )
Unlike his cousins in the Jarvis and Livermore families, Ernest had not reacted to his country’s call to arms in 1914 and in fact he told his sister Winifred that he did not want to go into the army. In January 1916 the Military Services Act brought in conscription as the numbers of volunteers began to dry up and thus it was that Ernest the reluctant soldier found himself in the Training Reserve. Regrettably his army service records do not exist, but the database of Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 /1919 shows that he enlisted at Chelmsford and went into the Training reserve as number 9342 and he may have been in the 10th ( Reserve battalion ) based in Harwich. The same data base shows that he died on 24/4/1917 whilst serving in the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers (RDF) private 40413. However, his Medal index card FIG 4 shows that whilst he died serving with the RDF, he had also been in the Suffolk regiment number 50473. Thus it appeared Ernest had initially joined a local regiment and at some point had been transferred to an Irish regiment in the 29th Infantry Division, famous for its involvement in the Gallipoli campaign.
Figure 27. Ernerst’s Medal Index Card ( Ancestry.com )
A visit to the National Archives at Kew enabled me to examine the Medal Roll for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers FIG 5 which confirmed that Ernest Jarvis was private 40413 and had previously been private 50473 in the 8th Battalion of the Suffolks. So exactly when did Ernest Jarvis, the reluctant soldier, go to France? The Suffolk regiment records are held at the Public Records Office in Bury St Edmunds. Whilst there are no lists of servicemen and no sequencing of service numbers, information from a regimental expert suggests that Ernest joined the 8th battalion Suffolks in May 1916 after his period in the Training Reserve and probably training in France possibly at the notorious Etaples Bull Ring. In fact, in the Battalion War Diary WO95/2039, an entry for May 28th 1916 refers to 48 other ranks ( ORs ) joining the battalion.
Figure 28. RDF Medal Roll ( N A Kew )
The 8th Suffolks were in the 53rd brigade of the 18th ( Eastern ) Division under Ivor Maxse who proved himself to be one of the very best divisional and later corps commanders of WW1. The 18th Division was based around Carnoy and Bray in the southern part of the Somme sector leading up to the battle of the Somme. On the fateful day of July 1st 1916 the 53rd brigade was in reserve to the 55th and helped in the capture of Montauban Alley by carrying up water and supplies. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 18th Division lost 3300 casualties. Ernest and the 8th Suffolks had been lucky not to have been in the forefront of the attack.
The Somme continued with attacks and counter attacks. On 18th July Ernest and his fellow Suffolks were given the objective of trying to take Delville Wood. That day the 53rd Infantry Brigade was given the task of extricating the South Africans from their precarious position in the wood . The 8th Suffolks were set the objective of clearing the Germans out of Longueval village. They were involved in two days of intense fighting as their War Diary tells us ;
“A company of 8th Suffolks did manage to relieve a detachment of South Africans on the edge of Delville Wood but by 4 30 pm on July 19th owing to severe losses from both shell and machine gun fire the attack failed in its entirety and the men were not in a position to make a further assault.”
For Ernest and the others August brought a respite from the horrors of the Somme as they rested and trained in the Armentieres area waiting for their next task. This turned out to be the attack on Thiepval, the fortified village that had withstood numerous efforts to take it from the early part of the war. As the 18th Divisional history tells us, the preparation for the battle was extremely thorough. Officers were carried by a fleet of buses to the area to familiarize themselves with the terrain. The trench systems were completely renovated by the Engineers and the Royal Sussex Pioneers who dug new assembly trenches for the 53rd and 54th attacking brigades. All this work was done on four nights before the attack scheduled for 26th September. General Maxse was a perfectionist and his doctrine was “Without proper preparation the bravest troops fail and their heroism is wasted.”
Figure 29. Map of the Thiepval area ( Unknown )
The 8th battalion Suffolk War Diary provides a very detailed account of the Thiepval battle and its preparations:
“The 18th division attack to be carried out by the 53rd brigade with the 8th Suffolks on the right and the 10th Essex on the left. Every rifleman to carry 170 rounds into battle with haversack, tools, water bottle and two days’ rations.”
Zero hour was scheduled for 12. 35 pm on 26th September 1916 and not the usual dawn attack. The attack was preceded by three days of artillery barrage using 105,000 rounds including gas. The Suffolks were given the objective of taking the Schwaben Redoubt which was heavily fortified and had with stood the July 1st bombardment.
The 8th Suffolks were involved in eight days of intense hand to hand fighting described by some military historians as being like a medieval siege with weapons of mass destruction so that by 5th October they had to be relieved having suffered 1990 casualties. The 18th Division had performed heroically and Maxse paid particular tribute to the discipline ,steadiness and fighting qualities of the 8th Suffolks whose Regimental history says;
“It was perhaps its finest achievement of the war.”
Haig visited Maxse and expressed his appreciation:
“ Thiepval has withstood all attacks on it for exactly two years and it is a great honour to your division to have captured the whole of this strongly fortified village at the first attempt. Hearty congratulations to you all . “
Ernest Jarvis the reluctant soldier had survived some of the most intense fighting and after 7 months in France he went home on leave to marry Edith May Halls in Chelmsford. This is confirmed in the marriage records on the Ancestry data base and the fact that my grandmother, Ernest’s sister had memories of the wedding which she told my mother. It was during this time that he told his family just how much he hated being a soldier, reflecting the horrific things that he had been involved in and witnessed. Given that the normal period of leave was a week though there may have been extensions for marriages, we can assume that he had to return to the front sometime in January 1917. However, like so many others in the later stages of the war, returning from leave meant a transfer to another unit. In Ernest’s case he joined a very famous regiment of the British army, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Being an Irish regiment, the RDF had relied upon volunteers from the South of Ireland but after the initial burst of enthusiasm the number of volunteers failed to keep pace with the casualty rates. The South of Ireland with its domestic troubles, after the Easter rising of 1916, did not have conscription so that by 1917 many non-Irish soldiers had to be drafted into the Irish regiments. Thus Ernest Jarvis formerly Private 50473, 8th Battalion, Suffolks became Private 40413, 1st Battalion, RDF and went into W or X company. My researches into the war diary of the 1st RDF WO95/2301 shows that between 1st January and 5th April 1917, the battalion received 397 ORs and looking at the Medal Rolls shows that at least 36 men from the Suffolk regiment were transferred to the RDF.
The RDF and 29th Division were now to be involved in the Battle of Arras which, though less well known than the Somme or Ypres, proved to be the shortest but most bloody of them all measured in terms of the daily rate of attrition.
By 12th April the Battalion had reached Arras and was billeted in the Citadel just outside the city centre. The battalion was not used in the early days of the battle but on 18th April it moved up to the front relieving the Lancashire Fusiliers in the village of Monchy le Preux. This fortified village, like Thiepval before, dominated the rolling Artois countryside and had proved a difficult nut to crack.
When the RDF occupied Monchy it was under constant heavy shellfire and it was extremely dangerous to move about. Casualties were frequent and the village was still full of the bodies of men and horses from the Essex Yeomanry, who had been trapped and caught by the German artillery on 11th April
On 23rd April the battalion took over the eastern defences of Monchy le Preux and were ordered to attack Infantry Hill at 4. 30 pm on 24th April.
However, a communications breakdown resulted in the attack going ahead without any artillery barrage. Companies W and X of the 1st Bn RDF went bravely forward, but as the war diary describes, they came under very heavy rifle and machine gun fire resulting in 80 killed or wounded and 37 missing.
The attack was a total failure and the battalion was withdrawn from the area to recover. Amongst the missing was private 40413 Ernest Jarvis, the reluctant soldier.
Figure 30. Trench Map of the RDF attack area April 1917 ( Paul Reed )
Figure 31. RDF attack area today ( C R Weekes )
I do not know when my great grandmother Lucy Jarvis was informed that her son was missing but the Essex Chronicle newspaper of 6th July 1917 included his name in the wounded and missing column. However, it was not until April 26th 1918 that the Essex Chronicle confirmed that Ernest had been recorded as having been killed on 24th April 1917.
“Pte Ernest Jarvis Royal Dublin Fusiliers formerly of Chelmsford reported wounded and missing on April 24th 1917 is now reported killed on or about that date.
He leaves a widow and one child who reside at 52 Primrose Hill Chelmsford.”
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing which includes 35000 names of men who died during April/May 1917 and March 1918 but have no known resting place.
This beautiful memorial was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and is located on the Arras ring road close by the Citadel in which Ernest and the Dubliners had first billeted on their arrival in Arras.
Whilst Ernest has no CWGC headstone, his name is remembered on the Arras memorial and on the list of 1914 to 1919 dead in Chelmsford Cathedral.
Figure 32. Panel 9 Arras memorial ( C R Weekes )
Amazingly, his name and those of the others who were killed whilst serving with Irish Regiments appears in Ireland’s Memorial Records (IMR). This was completed in 1922 and contains the names of 49000 men who fell in the Great War. They are listed in eight beautifully illustrated, printed volumes which can be found in the main libraries in Ireland.
Figure 33. Ireland’s Memorial Record ( Dublin Library )
Ernest’s death brought devastation to the Jarvis family who by this time had moved to Boreham, Essex. My grandmother and her many sisters always remembered their brother whom they called Bunny. His wife May never remarried having been widowed only three months after their marriage. She like so many received a war widows pension of 18 shillings and nine pence per week from January 1918 which was reduced in 1933 when their daughter became 16. Their daughter Beryl, who was born in 1917 and died in 2009, never ever saw her father. She like thousands of others lived in a one parent family the awful legacy of the war.
My grandmother had an older brother called Albert Jarvis who had emigrated to Canada before she was born in 1902 . He had been born in 1888 so he was 26 years old at the outbreak of war in 1914.
Because of his age , I naturally assumed that Albert had fought with the CEF and could even have been in one of the crack battalions used so frequently by Haig when the going got tough in places like the Somme, Vimy, Passchendaele and Amiens in 1918. As the Canadian Army service records were not destroyed by fire and have been digitalized I put his name into the Ottawa data base and sure enough he was there. (Figure 11)
He was called up under the Military Services Act 1917 which introduced conscription in Canada. At the age of 29, he had not previously volunteered as had some of his cousins in the UK. According to the papers he passed a medical examination on 26 November 1917 as A2 meaning that he was fit enough for Army training. A further document dated 5th January 1918 shows that he had been posted to the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment A Company as Private 2379053. This was a training battalion which sent men to the 16th 27th and 43rd active battalions of the CEF in France. It is probable that Albert Jarvis would have been sent to the 27th Battalion Canadian Infantry ( City of Winnepeg ) in the 2nd Division of the CEF which had very impressive WW1 battle honours culminating in the storming of the Hindenburg line in 1918 but he was not. In fact he was not sent anywhere near to the fighting front. He NEVER left Canada.
Figure 34. Albert Jarvis’ Canadian attestation document ( Ottawa archives )
His army service record contains pages on his medical condition which developed in the summer of 1918. On 17th August 1918 he was admitted to the Manitoba military hospital at Tuxedo Park with complications caused by syphilis and he remained there until 14th December 1918 by which time the war had ended . He was discharged from the Army on 4th January 1919 and the reason given was ;
“ Demobilisation, being in a lower category than B “
This meant that in the space of a year he had fallen from an A2 fit man capable of going into the infantry to a man only able to undertake sedentary service in a Home Camp. Presumably by January 1919 there was not much work of this type hence the Army dispatched Albert back to civvy street and his meat packing job.
There is much evidence that sexually transmitted diseases were rife during the war and especially amongst Dominion troops in France who were far from home and unable to see loved ones on leave. It is estimated that 416 000 men from the BEF and Dominion forces were admitted to hospitals for sexually transmitted diseases and that across the UK there were specialist hospitals to treat them. One source estimates that in 1915 alone 22% of the Canadian troops on the western front had a STD. Mademoiselle from Armentieres was not the kind of girl to take home to see your mother.
Some have even suggested that such diseases were intentionally contracted to avoid active service. Perhaps, Albert Jarvis the reluctant soldier used his sexual activity as a means of avoiding his duty to fight for King and Country. Whatever the reason Albert did not follow in the footsteps of other Winnipeg enlistees and was not amongst those crack battalions of Canadians who left their indelible mark on the history of WW1.
My great grandfather Arthur Jarvis had a cousin Robert who had two sons the oldest of whom was also called Albert Jarvis. At the out break of the war Albert was 22 and working as a stable lad in a restaurant in Chelmsford. Together with his friend Wilfred Livermore, he reacted very quickly to the patriotic call to arms and enlisted on 31st August 1914 at Chelmsford and was then sent to the regimental depot at Warley near to Brentwood. The two friends were posted to the newly formed 9th (Service) Battalion the Essex Regiment, with regimental numbers 12291 for Albert and 12200 for Wilfred. This was one of the earliest battalions of Kitchener’s New Armies known as K1. According to the Long Long Trail website, after initial training Albert and his fellow recruits were sent to Blenheim barracks at Aldershot in March 1915. There are no surviving army service records for Pt Albert Jarvis though his Medal Index Card (Figure 12) and the Medal Rolls for the Essex regiment show that his army service lasted until 15th February 1919 and that, as well as being in the 9th Essex, he was also in the Labour Corps as Pt 482687. The Medal index also shows that he was posted to France on 30th May 1915 and was therefore entitled to the 1914/15 Star – a member of the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred club the affectionate names given to the three army service medals of WW1.
Figure 35. Albert Jarvis’ Medal Index Card ( Ancestry.com )
Without the army service records, it is extremely difficult to piece together a picture of an individual soldier’s war experiences, so I decided to enlist the services of Chris Baker’s fourteen-eighteen research. This confirmed that Albert was an early enlistee and that he was in the 9th (Service Battalion) Essex regiment which was attached to the 35th Infantry Brigade in the 12th (Eastern) Division - affectionately known as the Ace of Spades Division because that was its Divisional symbol. By February 1915, the four battalions of 35th Brigade had moved to Aldershot where final training for active service was carried out. Orders were received on 24th May 1915 for the 12th Division to move to France. This happened on 30th May, departing from Folkstone to Boulogne on board the ‘Queen’.
The war diary for 9th Essex WO95/1851 records the events of May 1915.
“30th May 1st train arrived at Folkestone at 9 45 pm the 2nd arriving 20 minutes later. The whole Battalion embarked on the ‘Queen’ and arrived at Boulogne about 12 midnight where the Bn went to a rest camp for the night about 2 miles outside the town at ORTHERS.“
After an easy introduction to trench warfare around Ploegsteert Wood the 12th Division was moved to reinforce the regular troops engaged in the Battle of Loos in September 1915. The 9th Essex relieved the Guards Brigades in an area of the Chalk Pit East of Loos-en-Gohelle. Their job was to repair new trenches, roads and positions ready for a renewal of the battle. In October the 9th Essex carried out a frontal attack involving intense close combat with the enemy in the trench systems and were relieved on 21st October. On October 22nd the 9th Bn Essex was inspected by the O.C. 12th Division Major General Scott who said:
“ Men of 9th Essex Regiment it gives me great pleasure to see you here after your recent action. A counter attack by the enemy was successfully repulsed.
I thank you for your good work and hope that you will continue to maintain the tradition of your line battalions which has always been a high one. “
1916 was spent in preparation for the battle of the Somme in which the 12th Eastern Division was to play a significant role .
“ Lillers June 16th Train No 12 with Bn complete left the station going via St POL -DOLLENS – AMIENS to LONGUEAU where it arrived at 5 45 am 17th. It was timed to arrive about 2 am but owing to heavy battery train and French troop train being unexpectedly parked in the siding in front of us we had to wait outside the station for over 3 hours.
Longueau 17th The Bn marched from the station to billets in VIGNACOURT via AMIENS ---FLESSELLES. The march was a trying one after the long time in the train being 14 ½ miles.
On arrival in this area the 12th Div joined the 3rd Corps in the 4th Army and is held in GHQ reserves. Strength of the Bn on arrival was 27 officers 918 ORs 37 horses 24 mules 19 vehicles 10 bicycles. “
Albert Jarvis and his fellow Essex men were spared the disaster of July 1st because they were in the Divisional reserve.
“ July 1 7:15 am The Bn march to HENINCOURT wood where it remained in reserve until 6 30 pm.
6 30 pm The Bn moved forward into the village of HENINCOURT where a long halt occurred owing to blocking of the road to ALBERT by the other brigades of the 12th Division which were also moving up to relieve the 8th Div which had been severely mauled during the attack in the morning and failed to take OVILLERS. “
The men of the reserve battalions must have seen what had happened to the attacking battalions on 1st July. They must have known what awaited them as they too were given the task of attacking the heavily fortified Ovillers Redoubt on July 3rd.
“ July 3 12 30 am the Bn moved forward into their positions of assembly
3.20 The 1st lines of the Bn followed in pursuit.
The Bn suffered severely during the advance across the open from M G fire from either flank and from the village.
The attack on OVILLERS came to a stand still about 4 30 pm. and the remainder of the 3 Bns withdrew inside our lines.
12 officers 386 ORs wounded missing or killed. “
Figure 36. Mash Valley as it is today ( C R Weekes )
Private Albert Jarvis 12291 was one of the wounded as documented in the Times of Saturday 5th August, which contained a Roll Of Honour listing 5,180 men killed wounded or missing. Furthermore the local newspaper the Essex Chronicle of August 11th 1916 under the title ESSEX CASUALTIES wounded included Jarvis, 12291, A Felsted.
I do not know the nature of his wounds or to which hospital he was sent but can assume that he went back to the UK with a “Blighty One" He must have recovered at some point in 1917 because a Medal Roll shows him to have been in the LABOUR CORPS which was formed in January 1917.
Figure 37. Labour Corps Medal Roll ( N A Kew )
Chris Baker’s research shows that Albert and 100 other men deemed fit for home service were transferred in November 1917 to 660 Agricultural Company with HQ in Norwich. Thus , Albert from an Essex farming family spent the remainder of the war helping out on farms in Norfolk before on 15th February 1919 he was transferred to Class Z Army reserve and a return to civilian life. He appears to have been in receipt of a war pension of 12 shillings per week with effect from January 1920 .He did return to Felsted as he died there in 1929 aged 38 and possibly his war wound was a contributory factor. There is now a Felsted and Little Dunmow Roll of Honour Project which lists all those local people who fought and in many cases died during the Great War amongst whom is listed Albert Jarvis of Pond Gate Farm.
Frank Jarvis was born in 1897 and when war broke out he was in domestic service. Unlike his brother Albert he did not join up early Unfortunately, Frank’s army service records have not survived so that I have had to rely on other sources of information to construct a picture of his WW1 experiences. His name appears on the Felsted War Memorial so I know that he died in the war.
Figure 38. Felsted Village War Memorial ( C R Weekes )
My starting point was to look at the Soldiers Died in the Great War database. This told me that he enlisted at Braintree, Essex and at the time of his death in October 1918 he was serving with the Border Regiment. His Medal Index card shows that he was in the Essex regiment before transferring to the Borders. According to Ian Hook of the Essex Regiment Museum, Frank was put into the 3/6 Battalion, Essex Regiment, a training unit, and was sent overseas to a depot in France before being transferred to the 3/5 Border Regiment no 5598. This was confirmed from the Medal Roll of the Border Regiment at Kew and by Stuart Eastwood the curator of the Border Regiment museum in Carlisle. His database showed that 175 men were transferred from the Essex to the Border Regiment in the late summer of 1916.
To find out more about this I sought the assistance of Chris Baker’s Fourteen-eighteen research. This confirmed the above but also added that Frank Jarvis might have volunteered under the Derby Scheme between January and March 1916 or have been conscripted on 2 March 1916 and mobilized on 27th March 1916. Being in the 3/6 Essex Training Battalion he would have done his basic training at Halton Park in Buckinghamshire before being posted with a draft of other Essex men to France on 29 August 1916. However, before embarking for France they appear to have been transferred to the 3/5 Battalion Borders another home based training unit. Frank and the 175 other Essex men moved from the base depot to the 7th Battalion Borders on 25 September 1916 and he became Private 27587. According to the Border Regimental History of the Great War by H C Wylly, when Frank joined the 7th Battalion it was behind the Somme’s front lines at Ville-sur-Ancre. In November the Battalion was moved back into the front line at Trones Wood.
Figure 39. Map of the Southern Somme area ( Unknown )
On 2 November, the Battalion attacked the German Zenith trench which was a complete success in the moon light with few casualties. The Battalion was relieved and went back to Montauban village, where it received the commendation of the Commander in Chief, Field Marshall Haig.
‘C in C desires that his congratulations on the well won success may be conveyed to the G O C Division and to the officers and men of the battalions who carried out the operation.’
This was Frank’s introduction to the trench warfare and his only involvement in the Battle of the Somme as the 17th ( Northern ) Division was not chosen by the High Command for many front line operational duties. Their next involvement was in the Battle of Arras. The 7th Battalion war diary tells us that they arrived in Arras on 10th April and went into the cellars of the Library Museum. The City was full of B E F troops, many of whom were living in the tunnels under the city that had been dug by the tunneling companies. The War Diary entry for 10/4/1917 says:
‘Battalion at 50 minutes notice to move. Weather still severe. Snow blizzard. The inveterate propensity of the British soldier to light fires and make tea at the slightest opportunity was again emphasised.’
But the 7th Borders were not used in the very successful first phase of the battle up to 14th April 1917. Their turn came on 23rd April St George’s day when Haig reluctantly commenced the second and much less successful phase.
On St George’s Day 23rd April, 1917 the 7th Borders found themselves attacking to the east of the Village of Pelves, north of Monchy-le-Preux. 7th Borders were attacking Bayonet trench but did not get far as they came under intense machine gun fire from River Trench and from across the other side of the river Scarpe.
The survivors had to withdraw back to the assembly trenches from where they had attacked. An eye-witness in the 7th Battalion recounts the 23rd April 1917, St George’s Day.
‘It was my first and last action. I was totally terrified. I kept well back from the creeping barrage. You could see shells bursting only 50 Yards in front. The barbed wire was not properly cut. There were paths through the wire and like animals we crowded into the paths. Machine guns were trained on the gaps, blokes fell in heaps. I never saw a single German that day yet the whole battalion was wiped out.’
Figure 40. Map of the Border attack area April 1917 ( Chris Baker )
None of Frank Jarvis’s Service records have survived so we do not know officially whether he was one of the many wounded on 23rd April. However his Medal Roll entry shows that at some point he was in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Border Regiment that was a UK based training unit. This suggests that he had been wounded and been sent back to a UK hospital and then onto a Border regiment training unit that in 1917 was based at Great Crosby near Liverpool.
At some point Frank returned to the front line and into the 6th Bn Border Regiment, 11th ( Northern ) Division. According to the War Diary WO95/1817 in August 1917 the 6th Battalion was at St. Julien, Ypres sector when it received 153 Other Ranks as reinforcements prior to its involvement in the Battle of Langemarck. Frank was likely to have been one of them. On 22nd August at 4.45 am the barrage commenced and after 42 minutes it moved forward followed by C and D companies of 6th Borderers. In spite of intense enemy machine gun and artillery fire they achieved their objective and consolidated it so that on the night of 24/25th August they were relieved by the South Staffords. The remainder of 1917 was spent in and out of the front line in the Ypres sector though fortunately for them not at Passchendaele
Figure 41. Border Regiment Medal Roll ( N A Kew )
In 1918 faced with having to defend a bigger part of the Western Front and with Lloyd George’s refusal to provide all the reserves that Haig had asked for, the BEF was reorganized with each Brigade being reduced from four to three battalions. As a consequence Frank Jarvis and 149 ORs left the 6th and joined 11th Bn of the Border Regiment THE LONSDALES part of 32nd Division located in the Ypres sector.
On 21st March it was despatched rapidly south to meet the German attacks. However it took no part in this the first battle of the Somme 1918. On May 10th the 11th and 5th Battalions were amalgamated and Frank was sent to help train the incoming Americans 328 AEF Infantry division. On 31st July the 11th Bn was officially disbanded and its men including Frank transferred to 1/5th Bn still in the 32nd Division. Frank had been fortunate in that he and his Border comrades had managed to avoid the battles of the Lys and the Aisne. On 6th August the 1/5th Battalion and its new recruits were inspected by George V and then immediately moved to the front by train and foot ready for an attack on the railway line between Hallencourt and Fresnoy. This was the beginning of the Battle of Amiens, the last great battle and the beginning of the 100 Days to Victory.
In the book ‘Amiens 1918’ reference is made to the 1/5th Battalion involvement:
‘10th August ------ 5th Bn Border regiment on the left the advance at first went smoothly. Against stiffening opposition the Borderers reached the 1916 British Front line at 10am. Ahead lay the ominous 1916 No Man’s land the site of one of history’s greatest slaughters”
On 5th September the forward momentum continued as the Borders crossed the River Somme at Brie. Nothing seemed able to stop the allies as they swept on. On 29th September the IX Corps was to attack the Hindenburg Line with the 46th (North Midlands) Division in the front supported by the 32nd. They crossed the St Quentin canal and on October 1st 1918 they attacked Joncourt at 8am, successfully taking the village and moving on at 4pm to attack Sequehert which was taken by the Royal Scots. The 5th Borders entered the village of Preselles but heavy machine gun fire forced them out and they had to withdraw to a Railway Embankment overlooked by enemy artillery from higher ground to the east. On October 2nd the Battalion’s position in this railway embankment was heavily shelled by the enemy, resulting in 1 killed and 17 wounded. Sadly the one killed was Private 27587, Frank Jarvis who is buried in Bellicourt British Cemetery .
Figure 42. Map of the area of Frank Jarvis’ death ( Chris Baker )
His death was reported on November 8th in the Essex Chronicle and on November 15th in the Essex Weekly News Roll of Honour.
‘Pte Frank Jarvis Border Regiment killed on October 2nd. Son of Mr Robert Jarvis, Pond Park Gate Felstead and was 23 years of age.’
In March 1919 , his parents were awarded a five shillings per week pension although I have no idea as to how long this lasted.
As is always the case, those who died in WW1 are well commemorated and Frank Jarvis is no exception. His name appears in the data base Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919, in the Bellicourt British Cemetery, on the Felsted village war memorial and Rolls of Honour in its two churches and notably in the Border Regiment’s Roll of Honour in Carlisle Cathedral which has the inscription:
Figure 43. Carlisle Cathedral ‘s Roll of Honour ( Carlisle Cathedral )
‘LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT THEIR NAMES BE NOT FORGOTTEN.’
THE LIVERMORE FAMILY
Figure 44. The Family Tree ( C R Weekes )
My great grandmother who was born Lucy Livermore had a brother William, who lived at Hartford End as a horseman with six children by 1901 including sons Wilfred and Harry She had another brother Philamon who although born in Felsted had moved away to South London with his son Percy. She had an uncle, Daniel Livermore, who lived at Thistley Green and was a stockman with a son, Leonard living at home and an older daughter Esther, married with children including a son - another Albert.
Wilfred was born on 18th December 1897 into an extended family of agricultural workers in Felsted. He and the Jarvis family must have been school friends and so when the call to arms came in 1914 it is not surprising that he and his friend Albert Jarvis joined up together. As we now know Albert and Wilfred went into the 9th Essex and were posted to France in May 1915. Wilfred was under age not being 18 at the time of his posting. He and Albert were involved in the later part of the Battle of Loos in October 1915. After this their paths diverged as in late October 1915 Wilfred was transferred to the newly created Machine Gun Corps . He probably spent time at the special Machine Gun training school at Wisques in Northern France before being posted to the 35th MGC company to use the newly introduced Vickers Machine Gun capable of firing 500 rounds per minute. Wilfred became part of a gun team of 6 men . The war diary of the MGC 35th Company WO95/1853 shows that it was in the 35th brigade of the 12th Eastern Division which also included the 9th Essex from which Wilfred had been transferred.
Figure 45. MGC training School Wisques ( C R Weekes )
In 1916 the MGC 35th Company supported the infantry attacks on Ovillers on July 3rd, day three of the Battle of the Somme.
WO95/1853 War Diary 35th MGC.
2.7.16 11am Brigade was ordered to attack the following morning the village of Ovillers. The trenches & ground in front of Ovillers was thoroughly reconnoitered and the guns disposed for the attack. 4 guns took up positions to support the infantry attack with direct overhead fire on Ovillers and the ground between La Boisselle & Ovillers.
Wilfred and his comrades in the 35th MGC continued to fire on the enemy whenever they appeared around the village of Ovillers until on 6th July they were relieved and went behind the lines.
6.7.16 4pm The company was relieved by 36th MGC and went into billets in Albert.
7.7.16 Guns & equipment were thoroughly cleaned and the men rested in billets ready to move at half an hours notice. All ranks were in the best of spirits and a piano having been found a concert was organised from 6pm to 8pm.
In October 1916 Wilfred’s association with the 12th Division ended when he was transferred to the 112th company MGC which was in the 112th brigade of the 37th Division. In their war diary WO95/2538 it shows that he with the 37th Division moved into Arras on 9/4/1917 ready to mount an attack on the fortified village of Monchy Le Preux on the road from Arras to Cambrai. This attack took place on 10th April with 112th MGC supporting the infantry of 8th Bn East Lancs.
The German artillery pounded the 112th Machine gun positions so that they were withdrawn on 12th April.
Figure 46. Map of 37th Division attack area Arras April 1917 ( Paul Reed )
In the second phase of the Battle of Arras between 23rd and 29th April 1917 the 112th MGC supported the infantry in its attack on Greenland Hill N E of the village of Roeux . It was during this action that L Cpl Livermore was used as a runner carrying messages under fire for which he was promoted to Cpl and awarded the M M .
This award was announced in the War Diary and the London Gazette of 9 July 1917 and reported in the Essex Weekly News of 13 July 1917;
L/Cpl W Livermore M G C of Felsted was promoted Corporal in the field for good work and has now been awarded the Military Medal for carrying messages under fire.
Figure 47. 112th MGC War Diary entry ( N A Kew )
Though the battle of Arras continued into the summer of 1917 the 112th MGC company took no further part after their withdrawal on 29th/ 30th April 1917. In July according to their war diary, they moved to the Ypres sector around Kemmel and became involved in a number of skirmishes. On 31 July 1917 the company was involved in covering the advance of the infantry on the opening of what became known as the Third battle of Ypres and this continued throughout August 1917.
In early 1918 the MGC was reorganized into Battalions and in February Wilfred Livermore was promoted to Sergeant and transferred to the 40th Bn MGC company D which was in the 40th Division. At the time of the German attack on March 21st 1918 the 40th Division was right in their path .
The war diary of the 40th battalion MGC WO95/2601 provides stark details of the battle in which they were engaged between 21st and 26th March 1918 around the village of Ervillers south of Arras.
WO95/2601 War Diary 40th Bn M G C
March 21st 5am Very heavy bombardment on whole front opened at 5 am.
11 30 pm “B’ and “ D “ companies ordered to take up positions in the 3rd system to support the 120th and 121st brigades.
March 24th Enemy attack continued all along 40th Division front. Orders received for relief of 40th Division . Battalion to be relieved on 25/26 March . Issued orders to B,C, and D companies for relief.
March 25th Battalion Headquarters and “A “ company moved to MONCHY AU BOIS. “B”, “C” and “D” companies joined from the line during the night.
March 26th Battalion paraded to move to BIENVILLERS AU BOIS. Stopped en route and ordered to send guns for the defence of ADINFER WOOD.
As the Battalion made an orderly withdrawal, some of the gunners remained to hold back the rapidly advancing enemy. The diary lists 9 killed, 65 wounded and 61 missing. Included in the missing was Sergeant W W Livermore M M
Figure 48. 40th MGC War Diary entry ( N A Kew )
He is now buried in the CWGC cemetery outside the village of Favreuil a few miles north of Bapaume and some miles south of the action in which he went missing. The date on his headstone is 24th May 1918.
There are few details in the War diary so I can only imagine that he was involved in the defence of Adinfer Wood remaining behind to provide covering fire to the withdrawing troops of 40th Division . The 40th Bn MGC War Diary lists him as missing but not as a possible prisoner of war. Yet he is buried in Favreuil British Cemetery some distance south east of the action on 26th March having died on 24th May 1918 two months after the action. This suggests that he was taken prisoner and died in captivity. Assuming this to be the case, the only way to confirm it is to get evidence from the International Red Cross – ICRC - in Geneva who hold index cards on all the prisoners of war from WW1. The ICRC in Geneva is currently engaged in putting all of their WW1 prisoner of war records on line - an enormous project which is due to be completed in 2014. I contacted them and was very lucky to get a response given that they are no longer responding to individual WW1 enquiries.
Figure 49. ICRC Attestation document ( International Red Cross Geneva )
The ICRC attestation document shows that Sergeant Wilfred W Livermore was captured at Gommecourt N .W .of Albert and a short distance from Adinfer Wood. He was detained in a German army field hospital in the village of Beugny north of Bapaume. The ICRC attestation document also says that he was buried in plot 194 of the German cemetery in Beugny and his death certificate is dated 2/8/1918. So that at some point after the armistice his body was transferred to Favreuil British cemetery along with the 7 other British soldiers buried in the Beugny German no 3 Cemetery.
Wilfred’s name is on the war memorial in Felsted together with Frank Jarvis above him. (See Figure 38)
He is also remembered on the Rolls of Honour in Felsted ‘s two churches and on the MGC Roll of Honour in St Wulframs’s Church, Grantham. ( the MGC church )
At the time of his death his dependent relative was his mother Matilda Livermore of Hartford End and it was she who received five shillings per week from November 1918 . A small sum in compensation for the loss of her son .
Although born in Felsted in 1894 Percy Livermore was living in New Cross South London at the outbreak of the war. He like a great many men from Camberwell and Dulwich enlisted into the RFA as gunner 20271 on 26/4/1915. Initially on going to France in December 1915 he was in the 167th Brigade RFA but by May 1916 he had been transferred to the 162nd Brigade RFA of the 33rd Division
Figure 50. RFA Medal Roll ( N A Kew )
As their War Diary WO95/2413 records, the 162nd Brigade was moved down from the north of the Western Front to south of Albert at Becordel Becourt by 15th July 1916. From their gun pits in this village at 8 30 am on 15th July they took part in the bombardment as part of the successful Battle of Bazentin Ridge.
By August 1916 the 162nd Brigade RFA had positioned its guns near to Montauban ready again to support various attacks by the 33rd Division and others which took place from 16th August 1916.
A section from the 162nd Brigade RFA War diary gives a flavor of what the artillery was told to do in these battles and of some of the difficulties experienced. In many instances artillery commanders were in the best possible positions to see what the infantry were being expected to do and in many instances the reason why they could not achieve their objectives.
September 2nd XV Corps attacked Village of GINCHY and trenches around it.
Special instructions were issued by commander –in- chief stating that these operations were of the utmost importance and desiring it to be impressed on all officers to satisfy themselves thoroughly that all under their command fully understood what was required of them.
September 3rd Thus on this front the whole attack was rendered utterly fruitless by the troops apparently being ignorant of the nature and locality of their objectives and consequently finding little resistance overran the points to be taken and were cut up in retiring. The final result was that our line at 7pm between HIGH and DELVILLE WOODS was the same as before the attack and the sacrifice had been appalling. The attack itself in its initial stages was as fine as there has ever been and had the promises of a great victory.
By the end of September 1916 Percy Livermore and the 162nd RFA were west of Arras ready to play an important role in that battle.
Their War Diary WO95/2413 documents their involvement in the opening of the battle;
On 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th April 33rd and 15th Division artilleries bombarded the enemy front opposite that held by 15th Division infantry in preparation for a general aggressive operation.
At 5 30 am in a drizzling rain the infantry assault was launched by VIth corps on this front.
Stiff opposition was met at the Railway Triangle 1000 yards E of Blangy where the enemy were bringing strong machine gun fire to bear. Our barrage fire had passed over the embankment without harming the machine gunners. The barrage was brought back towards our troops until it rested exactly over the embankment when every living thing was wiped out.
10/4 At 2 30pm orders were received to advance to positions 1000 yards south of Feuchy. Owing to very heavy going of the roads and congestion of traffic, batteries did not get into position until 9am 11th.
The 162nd RFA was then involved in the second phase of this battle of attrition kept going reluctantly by the British to take attention away from a pending French attack on the Chemin des Dames.
May 3rd 3 45 am 36th and 37th Bdes attacked front between Arleux en Gohelle and Bullecourt supported by 33rd and 12th Divisional artillery.
The advance was met by very heavy machine gun fire and an artillery barrage
May 11/12th our artillery assisted in an attack made by 4th Division on our left North of the River with the object of taking and holding the Chemical Works and Rouex cemetery.
May 12/13th At zero artillery put up a barrage
The attack was held up by heavy machine gun and rifle fire from both flanks..
May 19th An attack was carried out to capture Devil’s trench.
As soon as our artillery barrage opened the enemy opened very concentrated M G fire. He also put down an effective barrage 30 seconds after ours.
The enemy’s fire rendered an advance impossible
Result – line remains unchanged.
Battle casualties 16 ORs.
Gunner Percy Livermore was one of the wounded and was transferred to no 4 General Hospital in Rouen before, in June 1917, he was repatriated to the UK.
Percy Livermore recovered from his wounds and in August 1917 he returned to France but after less than a month he was invalided out of the army with tuberculosis. Awarded the Silver War Badge, he died in 1919.
Figure 51. Silver Badge RFA War Roll ( N A Kew )
Leonard Livermore was born in 1886 in Great Leighs. The Census of 1901 records him living in Felsted with his father Daniel and mother Charlotte. He was a stockman on a farm. He joined up at Southend on 12.10.15 at age of 30 and was posted to RE Signals Divisional depot, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, as Driver 73750. Fortunately, his Army service record has survived and there are documents in it which detail his rather bizarre WW1 army experiences. On 10.11.15 Leonard was considered unfit for active service because of an injury to his back in 1899 whilst working on a farm, however he was considered fit enough for garrison duty at home. Between 29.6 and 17.8.16 he was in Barnwell Military Hospital, Cambridge with a sexually-transmitted disease. On 01.09.16 he was driving a mule team in Church End, Haynes Park, Bedfordshire when the mules were frightened by gunfire. Leonard fell off the cart and a wheel then ran over his leg. At an army hearing it was decided not to dock his service pay as the accident was deemed not to have been his fault!!
On 28.04.17 his unit was posted to Mesopotamia ( Iraq ) and they embarked on 29th April. In Mesopotamia like so many others, he contracted malaria and on 29.06.17 he was sent to India, via Durban, arriving a month later at a hospital in Deolali - a hill station N E of Bombay, where he remained until 08.08.17. Between 02.04 and 11.04.18, he was back in hospital with Malaria and still in India. On 29.01.19 he was admitted to a hospital in Poona but on 01.02.19 he was transferred to 44 General Hospital, Deolali. On 24.02.19 a telegram was sent from the Central Casualty Bureau, Simla to the Casualty Branch War Office, London. It stated that RE Signal Depot 73750 Livermore L. was seriously ill with a sexually transmitted disease, complicated by cystitis. It seems that they did not expect him to survive.
Figure 52. Copy of Leonard Livermore telegram ( Ancestry.com )
He remained in hospital until May 1919.
Finally on 22.07.19, he was admitted to hospital in Poona - this time with influenza. The Spanish flu pandemic, which was sweeping the world, killed between 20 and 50 million people. Leonard survived, being discharged from hospital on 09.08.19 and then embarking for the UK on 11.11.19, exactly one whole year after WW1 had ended. On 05.12.19 he was de-mobbed and returned to civvy street, probably to a farm job. In 1921 he received the British War and Victory Medals for his rather unusual service to King and Country.
Figure 53. Picture of Albert Livermore in Norfolk uniform ( Livermore archive )
So to the final member of this family tree. Albert Livermore was born in 1886 his mother was Leonard Livermore’s sister . Albert Leonard’s nephew, was born in the same year as him. He enlisted in Chelmsford on 10th January 1917 later than others probably because he was married with two sons. Whilst his service records did not survive other sources of information have given me enough to piece together his story .
Soldiers Died in the Great War data base shows him to have been killed in action on 22/10/1917 as Pte 27301 with the 8th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment part of the 53rd Brigade of the 18th Eastern Division the very same unit as Ernest Jarvis had been in . I contacted the Norfolk regiment museum who confirmed this as did his Medal Index Card though this had his name incorrectly as Alfred.
Figure 54. Albert Livermore Medal Index Card ( N A Kew )
The Essex Weekly News of 28/12/ 17 had a piece telling readers that Albert Livermore was posted missing and how he had served for 7 months with a tunneling company prior to being transferred to the infantry three weeks before his death. As his Medal Index card has only the 8th Bn Norfolks on it we can assume that he was temporarily attached to a tunneling company probably the 181st RE tunneling company which had been in Arras since March 1917 doing various maintenance jobs on roads , building dugouts and other trench fortifications as well as salvaging building materials from those areas laid waste when the Germans withdrew behind the Hindenburg line.Thus at the end of September Albert Livermore transferred to the 8th Norfolks and became an infantry man.
Visitors to the new Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 may have read about the project to develop a complete list of all those who died in the Passchendaele area during the Third Battle of Ypres. If you provide them with the details of a person like Albert Livermore who died in the Passchendaele area during 1917 they will endeavor to tell you where he died and what were the circumstances of his death. This I did and was told that on;
22nd October 1917
The 53rd Brigade of 18th Division attacked Poelcappelle at 5 35
am with the 8th Norfolks in the lead followed by the 10th Essex. A chinese attack using dummy figures was launched at the same time to distract the Germans’ attention from the imminent attack on the brewery.
The Norfolks took the Brewery as planned and the Essex advancing at 7 30 am passed through the Norfolks and went onto take Noble’s farm . They pushed onto Meunier House which also fell.
The 53rd brigade’s victory at Poelcappelle on 22nd October 1917 was one of the few major gains won by the BEF in 1917. The 8th Norfolks War Diary WO95/2040 provides a very detailed account of the attack ending with the list of casualties of ORs 32 killed, 155 wounded and 30 missing.
Figure 55. Area of the Norfolk attack October 1917 as it is today ( C R Weekes )
Albert Livermore was reported missing in December 1917 but it took until September 1918 for the Essex Weekly News of 20/9/18 to report that Albert Livermore was now officially reported to have met his death on 22/10/17. He left a wife, Margaret and two young sons. According to his war pension record card she received a pension of 25 shillings and five pence with effect from June 1918 and the sum of a five pound grant on 14th September 1918. This pension also reflected the fact that Albert left two young sons Eric and Audley although when they became 16 years of age in 1923 and 1924 the pension was reduced.
Albert is buried in Cement House Cemetery Poelcappelle close by to the scene of the 1917 battle. Albert is commemorated on the Memorial brass plaque inside Little Leighs Church .
Figure 56. Essex Weekly News 20th September 1918 ( Essex Library )
Wilfred Livermore had a brother Harry whose name appears on the Felsted Roll of Honour showing that he enlisted in 1914. However at the time of writing I have been unable to trace anything of his WW1 story. No doubt there were other members of both the Jarvis and Livermore families in and around the Felsted area who were involved in WW1 but for the time being this is their story .
Figure 57. Arras Memorial to the Missing ( C R Weekes )
National Archives Kew, London: War Diaries WO95 Series, Medal Index Cards, Regimental Medal Rolls
Ancestry.Com: Census Data 1901 & 1911
Yorkshire Regiment WW1 Website, Edward Nichol
1/4TH BN Yorkshire Website, Bill Danby
Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford
Norfolk Regiment Museum, Norwich
Suffolk Public Records Office, Bury St Edmunds
RDF Regiment Old Comrades Association, Dublin
MGC Old Comrades Association
Cambridgeshire Library Service
WFA Cambridgeshire Branch, Cliff Brown
Essex County Library Records Office, Chelmsford
Cumbria’s Military Museum, Carlisle
Felsted And Dunmow Roll of Honour Website
Long Long Trail Website
Fourteeneighteen Research, Chris Baker
Canadian National Archives Ottawa
Soldiers Died in The Great War 1914/19
Ireland’s Memorial Record National Library, Dublin
Maltby Family Archives
Jarvis Family Archives
Livermore Family Archives
WFA DVD Mapping The Western Front
The Fiftieth Division 1914—19, Everard Wyrall
Battles On The Tigris, The Mesopotamian Campaign of The First World War, Ron Wilcox
Cheerful Sacrifice The Battle Of Arras 1917, Jonathan Nicholls
History of the Suffolk Regiment, CCR Murphy
18Th Division in The Great War, GHF Nichols
Neill’s Blue Caps Vol 3, HC Wylly
The Border Regiment in The Great War, HC Wylly
The Green Howards in The Great War, HC Wylly