Wednesday, 4 October 2017

E. Brown - The Queens

Ernest Brown (Private No. T/202287) 
3rd/4th Battalion The Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment – 62nd Brigade – 21st Division

Ernest (Ernie) Brown was born on December 17th 1894 and spent most of his early years in

the family home at 2, Curlew Cottages, Northfield Road, Boveney Newtown. He was not related to the other Boveney Newtown casualty of the Great War with the same surname. However he did have a brother William who served in the Dardanelles in 1915 and later on the Western Front. William survived the war. They had five sisters and all except the two eldest of the seven children were born in Northfield Road. The two eldest were born in London and came to Eton Wick on account of their father's work as a horse coachman. Unfortunately the father died of cancer in 1905 leaving a widow to bring up the large family.

Two houses comprised Curlew Cottages, and another of the village's Great War fatalities, George Bolton, had spent part of his early life in the other house. 

Ernie attended the Eton Wick Infant School from 1899 until at the age of six years and nine months he left the village school to attend Eton Porny. In 1908, when he attained his 14th birthday, he left school to start work. By this time the family had moved a few houses along the road and were in No. 2, Oak Villas

On at least two occasions Ernie was mentioned in the Parish Magazine for good school attendance and good work. It is believed he found employment with Tom Lovell the local baker, Postmaster and general stores who traded at Ada Cottage, next to the Three Horse Shoes public house. Tom was a much-esteemed village man, for apart from being the principal trader he was also a school governor and frequently sang in Eton Wick concert groups. His son, Frederick Lovell was the village draper and boot dealer. 

No reference has been found to the date Ernest enlisted into the army, although it was probably 1915, when he was 20 years old. Certainly the 3rd/4th Battalion The Queens was formed at Windsor in June 1915. The following month they went to Tunbridge Wells as a unit of the 200th Brigade, 67th Division. In October the Battalion moved to Reigate in July 1916 to Westbere and in November to Ramsgate. On June 1st 1917 they embarked for the continent and landed at Havre. In all probability Ernie last saw Eton Wick and home during May 1917, prior to sailing to France. 

When the time came for Ernie to return to his unit, he started to walk the village road to catch his Windsor train. A local trader gave him a lift on his horse and cart, and with a parting gesture said "Cheerio! Ern' all the best and I will see you next time you get home". Back came the reply "Thank you Bert, but you will not see me again". This chilling expression or premonition was quite common among men who knew so much about the battlefield carnage. As privates they could not expect to survive 18 months before their next home leave was posted. 

Ernie arrived in the war zone in time for the bitter fighting of the Third Battle of Ypres that commenced on July 31st and raged on through the treacherous and drowning mud of Passchendaele. Almost tantalisingly the tiny place of that name, standing on marginally higher ground, became the objective of thousands upon thousands of weary, struggling soldiers. By October the battle had raged for nearly three months and British and Empire units became involved in an attack on the Broodseinde sector. 

The 3rd/4th Battalion of The Queen's Royal West Surreys were expected to attack and capture "Fudge Trench" allowing the 1st Lincolnshires to pass through their positions to further the planned advance. Other regiments, together with Australian and New Zealand units, were to simultaneously attack on the flanks. 


Advancing was very slow as the troops were obliged to file forward over duck boards which spanned the mud filled shell holes, all the time being subjected to intense enemy fire. It was during this action, on October 24th*, that Ernest Brown was killed. There are no details, his body was never identified and consequently there is no known grave. He is commemorated on a wall plaque in the Tyne Cot Cemetery along with approximately 35,000 other men who have no known graves and who fell in the battle in this sector. 

Additionally there are 11,000 graves in the same cemetery. Tyne Cot is situated five miles north east of the Belgian city of Ypres. 

In the local newspaper dated November 24th 1917 we read: 

Ernest Brown of 2, Oak Villas, Eton Wick, second son of Mr Brown and Mrs Brown, aged 22 years, Faithful Unto Death, Grant Him Eternal Rest. 

Ernest was a single man. His name is sixth on the Eton Wick War Memorial and is also on the bronze tablets attached to the Eton Church Memorial Gates.



 This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

* The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records the death
of Private Ernest Brown as 4th October 1917. 

Ernest Brown: There is no information about him on Lives of the First World War as yet.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website.






Saturday, 30 September 2017

R.T. HOBROUGH - ROYAL ENGINEERS

Robert Thomas Hobrough M.M. (Sergeant No. 40782) - Royal Engineers
No. 7 Signal Section Royal Engineers
The family home of Robert Thomas Hobrough was in 25, Clifton Cottages, Eton Wick, although an address given for his widow at the time of his death was The Crescent, Slough. There was at least one younger brother, H.F., living with R.T.'s parents at 25, Clifton Cottages, who also served in the army as a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Garrison Artillery on a siege battery.
Robert was born in 1881 and was a regular soldier who saw considerable active service before the 1914—1918 war. He joined the Royal Engineers when he was 18 years old (1899) and served for a term of seven years, with a further three years on the reserve. He served in the South African war and also with the Somaliland Expedition, for which he received the Somaliland medal. He then went to Egypt and saw service in the Sudan for three years. After this he was engaged in the inspection of telegraphs on the West Coast of Africa.
With the outbreak of the Great War he rejoined his old regiment as a corporal. For service in 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal. The remainder of his service can best be given by quoting from the letter from his officer, received by his wife after his death, on September 30th 1917.
I am writing to offer you my sincerest sympathy in your great loss. Although I feel that little I can say will help to make up for the great sacrifice you have made, I should like you to know that in Sergeant Hobrough's death I have lost one of my best Brigade Signal Sergeants. I have had well over two years' experience in the Signal Service out here, and amongst all the many N.C. O. 's I have had under me, none have carried absolute fearlessness, combined with complete efficiency, to such a high, or anyway, to a higher standard. But perhaps his chief asset was his reliability. Never once in the ten months we worked together and under the most trying circumstances, did he let me down, and I had the most implicit faith in him, which was justified time after time.
However, apart from the technical loss which his death entails, I feel a very great personal loss, and so I can understand in some slight degree how much more you must be suffering from your bereavement. But it must be no inconsiderable consolation to you to know that he had died the most noble death a man can die, and you can have nothing but the happiest memories and greatest pride in him. He had an excellent command of men, all too rare an accomplishment nowadays, and about a month ago I recommended him for a Company Quartermaster Sergeants' position, which had been endorsed by the higher authorities.
He died instantaneously and entirely painlessly as the result of a nearly direct hit from a shell, and five other priceless men of my small section with him. We buried them all near the spot, and have erected a cross, simple, but suitable, to commemorate the resting place of six heroes who could ill be spared.
Allow me, therefore, once more, to offer you at the same time my sincerest sympathy in your bereavement, and heartiest congratulations in having had such a fine man for a husband in which sentiments all the section join me.
In The Windsor and Eton Express, seven months later dated April 27th 1918 we read:
Bravery In The Field Mrs Hobrough has now received from the King the Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded to her husband, the late Sergeant R. T. Hobrough (of Eton Wick) of the 7th Signal Company, Royal Engineers for bravery in the field. In 1916 when the same paper reported the award of the Military Medal, he was in No. 4 Signal Section; R.E.
Two days before the Armistice, on November 9th 1918, Robert's parents had more bad news when they were notified that their second son, Staff Sergeant H.F. Hobrough, was in a serious condition having been wounded in the arm and left leg, and that he also had a fractured hip. Fortunately these did not prove fatal. The injuries had been sustained on October 21st.
Robert's last active service was in the series of battles that came to be known as Third Ypres or Passchendaele, and the phase of the battle being fought on Tyne Cot Memorial and Cemetery September 30th 1917 was the Battle of Polygon Wood.
The fact that he and his five comrades were killed by a near direct shell hit means it would have been very
unlikely that their remains could be identified. Perhaps the common grave they shared could not be found, due to subsequent obliteration. Whatever the reason, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Panel 8, at Tyne Cot in Belgium. He is also commemorated locally on the Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Gates.
Thorough searching in The London Gazette Indexes have failed to find any mention of Robert Hobrough being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the newspaper report to that effect was probably inaccurate. The Gazette however did record the M.M. award and was dated 1.9.1916. A medal collector remembers purchasing the African General Service Medal awarded to Robert and subsequently researching his service career. The collector cannot recall mention that a D.C.M. had been awarded.
The Eton Wick address of 25 Clifton Cottages refers to the first house on the left hand side of The Walk, from the Eton Wick Road. Houses in The Walk were at that time known as Clifton Cottages, as were the terraced row of 15 houses on the Common Road between The Walk and Sheepcote Road. Robert was 37 years old and left a widow, Isobel (Dot), who continued to live in Slough. The Tyne Cot Memorial and Cemetery is in the Passchendaele area, five miles northeast of Ypres. The Wall Memorial commemorates nearly 35,000 soldiers without known graves and the cemetery contains nearly 12,000 graves.
 This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Robert Hobrough: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission page.
Robert Hobrough: The For King & Country page.

Robert Hobrough: Lives of the First World War as yet.






Monday, 11 September 2017

Eton Wick Census 1901

The United Kingdom Census of 1901 was taken on Sunday 31st March, that year and was the seventh of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total number of persons returned as living in England and Wales at midnight on Sunday, March 31st, 1901, was 32,526,075. This shows an increase of 3,523,550 upon the number enumerated on April 5th, 1891, and gives a decennial rate of increase of 12.17 per cent.

Details collected include:

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building and the number of rooms.

Names of each person who was resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1901 census.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birth place, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6. The enumerator was John Langridge.

The area for the 1901 census included was the entire parish of Eton Wick comprising The Eton College Sanatorium, Eton Pumping Station, The village of Eton Wick, Bell Farm, Saddocks Farm, Manor Farm and Eton Great and Little Commons and half the River Thames between Deadwater Cut and the point opposite Clewer Mills.

The 1901 Census reveals that there were 104 households and 414 people in residence in the village at midnight on the 31st March. The oldest person, Mary Greenwood at the age of 83, she was born in 1818. There was one other resident in their 80’s. Florance Giles was youngest at one month, she was the only child of William and Ada. Sarah Ann was the only baby born in the first three months of 1901 within the civil parish of Eton Wick.

Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1901 census records for Eton Wick. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Henry Hill - H.M.S. Aster

Henry Charles Hill (Stoker 1st Class No. 1</18991) - H.M.S. Pembroke
Chatham - Royal Navy

Henry Hill was born on July 16th 1894 and it is believed he attended the Eton Wick Infants' School until at the
age of seven he went to Eton Porny. His parents were Alfred and Sarah and their home was No. I Albert Place, Common Road. When Henry was 10 years old the family moved beyond Dorney Common and he then left the Porny School and his school chums and presumably attended the Dorney Village School.

Sometime later they returned to Eton Wick and lived in 12, Castle View Terrace, Victoria Road. Father, Alf, was very well known and generally referred to as General Hill. Apparently, this was a nickname accorded him on account of being a handyman or tinker and was in no way a military achievement. His workshop was across the road from Castle View Terrace and a few years later it became William Hearn's garage-cum-workshop and bungalow home. This established the rights for later industrial use.

A register in the Kew Public Record Office records Henry as joining the Royal Navy for an engagement of 12 years in April 1913, 16 months before the Great War started. His age was given as 19 years, his height as 5 feet 3¾ inches and his civilian occupation as a cycle fitter.

Initial training was at Chatham Naval Barracks H.M.S. Pembroke before being posted to H.M.S. St. George. Four months later, in April 1914, he joined the battleship King George V. In January 1915, with the war five months old, Henry returned to H.M.S. Pembroke (Chatham) for further training. From May 1915 until July 1917 he served on H.M.S. Aster. The village memorial misleadingly records "H. Hill. - H.M.S. ASTER" perhaps inferring it was on Aster he lost his life. In fact, H.M.S. Aster was sunk on 4th July 1917 and almost certainly Henry was on the ship but survived the tragedy. Another man named Henry Hill was also a crew member, but he was a Devonshire man and 35 years old - he did not survive. On 26th July Henry returned to the familiar shore base of H.M.S. Pembroke.

An Eton Wick lady remembered Henry who she thought may have joined the Navy together with her brother Roland Bond and Arthur Morrell. She said that he was killed in an air raid on Portsmouth. There was in fact no air raid on Portsmouth causing Navy casualties during the Great War, but there was such a raid on Chatham on 3rd September 1917. The raid was by four giant Gotha bombers, each carrying a 300 pound bomb load, at first attacking Margate and causing little damage before altering course for Sheerness and Chatham. About Il p.m. a bomb fell on the Chatham Naval Barracks killing 131 sailors and injuring a further 90. It was with a touch of irony that the village man escaped death at sea in July only to be killed in an air raid a few weeks later. It has not been established that the three young men did join together. Certainly in 1913 when Henry Hill enlisted Roland Bond was only 15 years old. He could have joined, but he was four years younger than Hill. He was amongst the guard of honour when the Eton Wick Memorial was unveiled in 1920 and it is not difficult
to imagine his thoughts as he stood proudly at one corner of the memorial and the haunting call of the Last Post rang out.

Henry was one of Eton Wick's and Boveney's two air raid fatalities of the Great War, both killed by German Gothas, and he was also one of the village's two sailors to lose their lives. The headstones in the Gillingham Naval Plot are very different to most C.W.G.C. headstones, being grey in colour and appreciably larger.

Henry's grave is No. 16 Row 837. He is commemorated on the Eton Wick and Boveney Memorial and on the bronze Memorial Plaques attached to the pillars of the Eton Church gates. He was single and 23 years old.


This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  

and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Henry Hill: There no record of Henry Hill on the Lives of the First World War as yet.

The Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website  










Sunday, 20 August 2017

Eton Wick Census 1871

The United Kingdom Census of 1871 was taken on Sunday 3rd April, 1871 and was the fourth of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The enumerated population of England and Wales was 22,704,108 souls. This is an increase of 2,637,884 over the numbers living at the previous Census and exceeded the Government's expectations. To the above numbers the Army, Navy, and Merchant Seamen Abroad needed to be added. Foreigners were numerous in England, but their numbers were set-off against the numbers of Englishmen of other classes abroad. 


Details collected include: 

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building.

Names of each person who was resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1871 census.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birth place, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6. The enumerator was Alfred Holderness.

The area classed as Eton Wick for the 1871 census was part of the Parish of Eton comprising all the houses and cottages west of the Great Western Railway including Eton Wick, Lillywhites Farm, Saddocks Farm and Aldridges Farm.

The 1871 Census reveals that there were 106 households and 452 people resident in the village on the 3rd April. The oldest person, Mary Deverell age of 81, he was born in 1790. There were two other residents in their 80’s. Sarah Ann Croxford was youngest at three weeks old, she was the fifth child of James and Lydia. Sarah Ann was one of eight babies born in the first three months of 1871.


Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1871 census records for Eton Wick. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

ALFRED BROWN - GRENADIER GUARDS


Alfred Brown (Private No. 11811) - 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards
4th (Later 1st) Guards Brigade - Guards Division

Alfred was a regular serving soldier whose family home had been in Aylesbury. It was probably as a married man he came to live at Violet Villas, Alma Road, Boveney Newtown, and this decision was undoubtedly influenced by his Grenadier Guard service at Windsor.

At the outbreak of the Great War the 2nd Battalion was stationed at Chelsea as part of the 4th (Guards) Brigade. Eleven days later, August 15th 1914, they landed at Havre and were soon marching toward Mons to stem the German advance through Belgium. French forces, on their right flank, were obliged to withdraw and this in turn caused the British I and Il Corps to also fall back. It was during this exhausting retreat from Mons, in September, when Eton Wick suffered its first war fatality, with Sergeant Caesar, also of the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, being killed at the Forest of Villers Cotteréts. Despite very different ranks, both men had much in common. Both came to the village as married men, they both lived in Alma Road, both served in the same unit and when eventually the war ended, each had left a widow with a young family. Happily both widows married again.

The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers went on to take part in the Battle of Loos in 1915 and the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In August 1915 they had left the 4th Brigade and joined the 1st Brigade Guards Division. The Somme offensive of 1916 was five weeks old when the Battalion first became involved. In September they cleared enemy trenches near Ginchy at the point of the bayonet. Casualties were heavy and amounted to 378. Ten days later during another assault, they suffered a further 351 casualties.

The following year, in 1917, the Battalion saw more fierce action in the Third Ypres battles, culminating at Passchendaele. We know Alf came home on leave in 1915 before taking part in the Battle of Loos, and that this was probably his last trip home. Following an intense artillery bombardment of two weeks, the Ypres battle started along a 15 mile front on July 31st 1917. The front extended northward from the Lys river opposite Deûlémont to beyond Steenstraat. Alf was with the Guards Division as part of the 5th Army, which held half of the 15 mile front and was situated on the left of the line with the French Army on their left flank.

Unfortunately torrential rain had accompanied the shelling, causing sticky quagmire conditions for the advancing troops. Initially the Guards were able to occupy German trenches with relative ease, because the enemy thought mines were about to be detonated in the area. The general allied attack was launched at 0350 hours on the 31st but because of the Guards' advanced positions their attack took place 33 minutes later. On this day Alfred Brown was killed. It could have happened during the initial attack at 0423 hours or later in the day, there is no way of telling. Under appalling conditions the Passchendaele battle raged on until, nearly four months later, the ridge was taken and the fighting stopped.

Artillery Wood Cemetery
All Battalions suffered heavy casualties throughout the war. Accurate figures for the losses suffered by the Grenadiers are not easily available, but it may be instructive to look at a similar unit, the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards. They served alongside the 2nd Grenadier s, marched away from Windsor barracks on August 15th 1914 at full strength of approximately 1000 men. When they returned in 1919 only 15 soldiers remained of the original Battalion.

Alf was buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery at Boesinghe north of Ypres, Belgium. The cemetery was first used by the Guards after the Pilkem Ridge battle on July 31st 1917. It continued to be used until March 1918. There are 1295 recorded burials in the cemetery, 1243 of them being from the U.K., 40 Canadian and Newfoundlanders and the others from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Alf left a widow, an infant daughter, Hetty, and a baby son, Omar, who was himself destined to be killed in the 1939-1945 war. Mrs Brown married again, and as Mrs Wicks had another daughter, Gladys. The family moved to 6 Northfield Road, Boveney Newtown.

Alf's grave in Artillery Wood Cemetery is No. 19: Row C. Plot 13. He was aged 34 years. He is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial and on the Eton Church Memorial Gates. The spelling of his surname on these memorials is at variance. The grave headstone in Belgium and the Eton Wick Memorial give the name as A. Brown, but at Eton it is spelt as Browne. His son Omar, killed in 1941, is given as O.A. Browne and the cemetery register reads "L. Cpl. Omar Alfred Brown, son of Alfred Browne and Ester Ada Browne of Eton Wick, Buckinghamshire".



This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.





Graves Registration Report - CWGC

Burial Returns - CWGC

 

Comprehensive Report of
Headstone Inscription
CWGC



Friday, 21 July 2017

Eton Wick Census 1861

The United Kingdom Census of 1861 was taken on April 8th, 1861 and was the third of the UK censuses to include details of household members. The total population of England and Wales and the Islands in the British Seas, amounting to 20,223,746. This included those serving in the Army, Navy and Merchant Seamen.

Details collected include: 

Place: street name, house number or house name.

Houses: inhabited, uninhabited or a building.

Names of each person who were resident in the house on the night preceding the census.

Age and sex of each person: The actual age in years or months for babies under one year are recorded in the 1861 census.

Rank, Profession or Occupation.

Birth place, county and country.

Whether Blind, Deaf or Dumb.

The Superintend Registrar's District was Eton, Bucks and the Registrar's district was Eton. Enumeration District No. 6.

The area classed as Eton Wick for the 1861 census was the remainder of the Parish of Eton west of the Great Western Railway including Eton Wick, Lillywhites Farm, Saddocks Farm and Aldridges Farm.

The 1861 Census reveals that there were 78 households and 276 people resident in the village on the 8th April. The oldest person, Thomas Pusey age of 86, he was born in 1763. There were three other residents in their 80’s. William Miles was youngest at three months old was the second child of Henry and Sarah Miles. William was the only baby born in the first three months of 1861.


Click on this link to see our transcription of the 1861 census records for Eton Wick. We will be looking deeper into what the census reveals about Eton Wick and publish our findings in future articles.