Tuesday 27 March 2018

A Bruce Highland Light Infantry

Angus Bruce D.C.M. Company Sergeant Major No. 19160 14th Battalion Highland Light Infantry (Formerly 12th Battalion) 120th Brigade - 40th Division

Angus was a Scot from Uig on the Isle of Skye. He had been a regular serving peacetime soldier and a former Pipe Major with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.

At the time the Great War started he had most probably served his term of service and was living with his wife Lottie and two children at 5, Primrose Alma Road in Boveney Newtown. He enlisted in London. The name Bruce was first recorded locally in a Parish Magazine of 1904 which stated that a son was christened Angus George on January 11th that year. They also had a daughter named Ailsa, both good Scottish names. The father, Angus, was 23 years old when his son was christened and was almost certainly still in the Scots Guards.

August 4th 1914 found the 1st Scots stationed at Aldershot as part of the 1st Guards Brigade. 1st Division. They landed at Havre 10 days later and on August 20th they were transferred to the 2nd Brigade. The Battalion was very actively engaged during October and November in what was later termed the First Battle of Ypres. From October 26th they were holding the line near Chateau and three days later were fiercely resisting a strong German dawn attack. One estimate suggested there were well over 1000 German dead, with the Scots saving the day, despite their own heavy casualties.

When First Ypres finally ended the Battalion was reduced to one officer and 69 men, and of the B.E.F. it was said "The country's peacetime army had gone to its grave". Fresh drafts brought the Battalions back to numerical strength and September 1915 saw the 1st Scots Guards in action at the Battle of Loos. On the third day of the battle, September 27th, the Guards Division was brought up in support of the 21st and 25th Divisions, and although they made an initial advance they were later repelled. After two days of fighting the Brigade had suffered losses of 42 officers, and 1266 men.

The real loss, however, was not just measured in the numbers but in the irreplaceable experience of the professional soldiers. Of the few survivors, many were needed to train and command the tide of fresh volunteers and later, conscripts. joining the army. At some time Angus Bruce was transferred from the Scots Guards to the 12th Battalion Highland Light Infantry. There he won the highest decoration awarded in the Great War to any soldier recorded on the Eton Wick memorial.

Recorded in "The London Gazette of January 14th, 1916 is: C.S.M. 19160 A. Bruce 12th Highland Light Infantry D.C.M. and two months later we have the citation dated 11.3.1916: C.S.M. 19160 A. Bruce 12th H.L.I. citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and ability. After all his officers had been put out of action in an attack on the enemy’s front trench, Company Sergeant Major Bruce took command and handled his men with the great ability. He gave throughout the action a fine example, to all with him, of devotion to duty.

Angus served another two years before himself being killed. At some time he is thought to have been transferred to the 14th Battalion H.L.I. This was a Bantam Battalion which had been formed in Ayrshire in the summer of 1915 and arrived in France the following June. Perhaps Angus joined them on their arrival there. Bantam Battalions are made up of men below the normal acceptable height for soldiers.

The movements of the Battalion during the next 18 months are not very specific until the spring of 1918 when, perhaps conscious of the stream of American troops reinforcing the British and French, the Germans launched a massive attack along a 50 mile front on March 21st. This followed a shattering artillery bombardment by 6,500 guns. The 14th H.L.I., along with the other Battalions of the 40th Division, were being held in reserve. The front reached from three miles north of Arras to Le Fire, with the British Third Army north of the line and the Fifth Army to the south.

By the end of the first day, the 40th Division was brought forward from reserve in an attempt to stem the enemy advance against the centre of the Third Army positions. By April 5th, when the assault ended, the Germans had advanced up to 40 miles and taken 1000 square miles of territory. The British armies had suffered 160,000 casualties including 22,000 killed, 63,000 wounded and 75,000 prisoners of war.

Angus Bruce is recorded as being killed during the first week of the great battle, between March 21st and 27th 1918. The C.W.G.C. give the 27th as the accepted date. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Arras on Bay 8. One year later, on March 29th 1919, The Windsor and Eton Express printed:

Angus Bruce - In proud and loving memory of Angus Bruce ex-Pipe Major of the 1st Scots Guards and Regimental Sergeant Major of the Highland Light Infantry D.C.M. Killed in action March 21st to 27th 1918. From his wife and two bairns - Angus and Ailsa Bruce of Boveney Newtown, Eton Wick.

Better lo'ed ye canna be 
Will you no come back again.

This appears to be wrong, as no evidence is found of his being the Regimental Sergeant Major and all records list him as being a Company Sergeant Major. Lottie and the children lived on in Primrose Villas for many more years.

The Arras Memorial records the names of 35,928 men who were killed in the area and have no known graves. It stands at the entrance to the Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery which itself contains 2,677 military graves. It is situated 1 ½ miles north-west of the Arras rail station.

Angus was 37 years old; he held the highest rank among the village's Great War Dead and was awarded the highest decoration given to an Eton Wick man in the conflict. He is commemorated on the village memorial and also on the Eton Church 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 Eton Wick War Memorial page on Buckinghamshire Remembers website.
Grave Register courtesy of CWGC

The entry for C.S.M. Angus Bruce in the War Graves Register refers to his widow, Lottie as living at 5, Primrose Villas, New Boveney instead of Boveney Newtown.

Memorial Panel List courtesy of CWGC.

Wednesday 21 March 2018


Housing and the Village Club 

by Councilor Mrs. F.I. Wilson

It is probably true to say that at no time in its past history, has Eton Wick changed so rapidly, as it has during the past four or five years. The need for houses made urgent, measures necessary as soon as the last war ended, and the Council embarked on a housing scheme which has gone forward steadily, and as quickly as Ministry of Health licensing permitted.

As a result, Eton Wick has lost much of its old character, as a straggling, rather untidy, rural village.

First came the twelve prefabricated bungalows which were originally intended to be temporary, with an estimated life of ten years, but may, in fact, remain for a very much longer period. Then came the building of the first post-war houses on the Bells Field Site, on land acquired by the Council prior to 1939. These ten houses, with their flanking walls, have done much to improve the appearance of Vaughan Gardens by giving privacy to their backs. While, figuratively speaking, we have no dirty linen for which we fear publicity, the family wash, its lines and its unsightly posts, are very much better kept to ourselves. One block of these houses received an experiment in the way of a (so-called) Tyrolean finish, owing to the shortage of facing bricks, but it was not sufficiently popular to repeat.

Then came the purchase of Tilston Field from Eton College for the main scheme, and a proposed layout for 162 houses and a small recreation ground, this age group often drift away too.

Our Village Club, which meets at the Village Hall on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, is primarily for the youth of the village. The fact that about half of its 60 members face a long cycle ride to come to Eton Wick, speaks well for its popularity, but we are always ready to welcome more
local members.

We play all the usual games, have our own canteen, a darts, billiard and table tennis league; dancing classes during the winter; weekend camps; a two-week summer camp; cycling; two affiliated football teams, and many other activities and functions which vary on demand. Apart from the football section, all club activities, including the management of the canteen, are run by club members with the minimum of guidance. Our success depends on members' own efforts, and the day to day running of the club on members' own contributions.

With your good-will, your constructive, and not unjust, criticism, we know that we can play an ever-increasing part in the life of the village.
This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter in the early 1950's.

Florence Ivy Wilson was born in 1903, in 1939 she is recorded as living in Victoria Road and later moved to Tilston Close.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Eton Traders Index: No.1 and 3 High Street

During his retirement, John Denham the History Group first treasurer and archivist undertook a number of research projects. One of these was on the Traders of Eton. The index that he produced from trade directories and other sources cover the period from the late 1700's until 1939. His index records can be found here.

Tom Brown Tailors have traded in Eton since 1784. First from Keats Lane and the 1841 census records that the business had moved to  No. 1 High Street. It expanded into No. 2 High Street in 1890.

No. 3 High Street has been a Grocers since 1779. The 1841 census shows that John Atkins was a grocer. His son, also John ran the business until the1870's. In the 1877 edition of the Post Office Directory for Buckinghamshire Barnes Brown is recorded as being an Italian Warehouseman. By 1891 the grocer's shop was owned by Sidney Stevens in partnership with Albert Harris.

With the courtesy of Google Streetview, both of these businesses can be been seen to be still trading as tailors and grocers at numbers 1 and 3 High Street in Eton.

Page 1 from the index of Eton Traders.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village December 2008

Eton Wick and its development: Going West  

Boveney Newtown 1870 —1945

We have previously seen how Eton Wick grew — at first with the farms taking the less floodable land to the north and later in the 18th and 19th centuries homes being established along the south side of Common Road where tenants had the advantage of the stream for water and ponds for their ducks. They could only build between Sheepcote and Bell Lane — approximately 250 metres — because Crown. Common and Lammas lands stretched to the east and south, while west of Bell Lane was in the different parish of Burnham.

In the mid 19th Century the long gardens of the Common Road homes were sold for the development of houses along Eton Wick Roads' northside. The Walk was developed in early 20th Century, as was The Institute (now The Village Hall). Known as the 'Stute' it was the only building south of Eton Wick Road until after 1950, when Haywards Mead and St. Gilberts R. C Church were built on former allotments. West of Bell Lane the main road was known as Tilston Lane and until the 1880's there were only two tracks off Tilston Lane, being Bell Lane and what later became Moores Lane. The few buildings consisted of The Shepherd's Hut public house and a couple of Bell Farm labourer's cottages off Bell Lane.

In 1870 Eton, faced with a sewage problem, purchased Bell Farm from William Goddard and established a sewage farm as part of the farm land within the Eton Wick boundary. Many acres of Bell Farm were in fact outside the boundary and in the parish of Burnham, and was excess of their needs for the sewage and a dairy farm. The excess was most of the land between Bell Lane and present day Moores Lane. Retaining one full length field along Tilston Lane (main road) and opposite The Shepherd's Hut, the Council then sold the remainder to Arthur Bott of Common Road. Unfortunately Bott was now overstretched financially so he sold the land to James Ayres in 1880. James Ayres was listed as a market Gardener and not quite perhaps the image of the shrewd business man he proved to be. Meanwhile the Council engaged Charles Tough as farm manager. His young bride (Annie) nee Moore, together with her newly domiciled father, John Moore, were to play a lasting role in the future village affairs. Pardon the pun, but more about the Moores' at a future time.

James Ayres acquisition resulted in the laying out of Alma and Inkerman roads, followed by that of Northfield. Plot by plot he sold off the land, some for terraced homes, others for semi and detached houses, until within two decades a new community had sprung up covering his purchased enterprise. Not Eton Wick, this community, built in Burnham Parish. was named Boveney Newtown, for obvious reasons. In 1894 it had its own council as in fact did Eton Wick, both independent of each other and of Eton. This lasted for 40 years.

Just as Bell Lane had for so long been Eton Wick's barrier to building, now Moores Lane proved to be Boveney Newtown's barrier until after World War 2. This haste to build from 1880 triggered off other developments along the south side of the main road to Roundmoor ditch (Dorney Common Gate) and also the beginning of Victoria Road, at that time a Cul de sac, with its long. new terraced row. This area was known as `Klondyke: and was part of the Tilston Fields, largely owned by the Palmer family of Dorney. In fact the terraced row and some of those main road houses were built for the land owner who duly sold them. By the early 20th Century the land south of Victoria Road became holdings for two or three families. The holdings reached down to the Boveney Ditch and were quite extensive. In the centre was Mr Hill, who established a small engineering and repair works which by 1920's was sold to William Hearn for his motor taxi business which operated in Eton. Hence the present day engineering works, which came before most of the houses around it.

To the west of Victoria Road came the Nuth family. George was a well known village character with his animals, large mobile home, swing boats and coconut shy hire. These sites were to be used for Queens Road and Cornwall Close respectively, about 60 years later.

Leeson Gardens were built in the early 1930's: the west side of Tilston Avenue in the later 1930's. Vaughan Gardens were built in the late 1930's in the centre of that long field opposite The Shepherd's Hut that Bell Farm had retained in 1880 when they sold the large site. Although Eton Wick and Newtown, with Klondyke, were united in 1934 the old rights of Lammas and Commons still excluded those living along or west of Bell Lane.

The only WW2 development was the building of twelve prefabricated bungalows c.1944-5 east of Vaughan Gardens — now the site of Bell Lane shops.

Post WW2 developments both by Council or private were largely north and west of the main road and Moores Lane. We will cover those and other post war developments in a later issue.

This article by Frank Bond was published in the December 2008 issue of Our Village.

Note – The engineering works mentioned was replaced by houses in 2014. http://publicaccess.rbwm.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=N2OUOJNI0NO00

This article was originally published in the Eton Wick Newsletter - Our Village as is republished with the kind permission of the Eton Wick Village Hall Committee. Click here to go to the Collection page.