The Men Who Served

Prior to 1914 the regular army numbered only some 70,000 men – clearly inadequate to meet the demands which were to be imposed by the war. Accordingly a programme to encourage volunteering was initiated and driven by such figures as Field Marshal Kitchener, who appealed strongly to patriotism, there was initially an enthusiastic response as almost 500,000 volunteers came forward before mid-September. Later on, as the need for men became even greater, conscription was introduced and as the war progressed physical requirements were reduced so that more and more men became eligible for service.

Men from Areley Kings however were not slow to put themselves forward and from a population of only 363 males (of all ages) 104 men joined the colours – both as volunteers and recruits. The following schedule lists those from the village who fought and identifies those who fell.

 

Areley Kings Roll of Honour

 

 


 

Frederick William Ames. Private (2356) Worcestershire Regiment. Son of William Ames, a farm labourer from Abberley, and his wife Catherine (originally from Warwick), he was born in Areley Kings in1894 as one of three children. In 1901, their home was Yew Tree Villa on Areley Common, but later the family moved to Bank Cottage. Prior to enlistment on 1 April 1915 he, like his father, was a farm labourer. He later served in the Labour Corps (No. 94243) in France. He was invalided out of the services in April 1919 and died in December 1967.

William Robert Bateman. Possibly Private (355967) Royal Engineers. Son of gardener James and Mary Anne, he was one of five children and born in 1900 in Areley Kings. In 1918, he is listed as a member of the Dorset Regiment, but there are no further military records. He died in March 1974.

John Batley. Lieutenant (2372) Worcestershire Yeomanry. Born in Charenton in France in 1892, he was educated at Westminster and Trinity College Cambridge. His father, John Armytage Batley, married Edith Harrison, the daughter of Charles Harrison of Areley Court, the MP for Bewdley. Their wedding was in St.Bartholomew’s Church. As a child John lived for some time with his grandmother Elizabeth Augusta Harrison at ‘Woodhampton’ in Astley. He was in the military between 1914 and 1920, saw service in Palestine and was wounded. On 8 November 1917, he took part in the famous cavalry charge at Huj in Palestine, where in a joint action with men of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, 170 men successfully charged and captured emplaced Austrian and Turkish guns which were preventing the advance of the Empire Egyptian Expeditionary Force. This was possibly the last cavalry charge in the history of the British Army and historians have compared it to the well-known charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. Twenty-six men died and forty were wounded in the attack, together with over 100 horses. The history of the Worcester Regiment states that for ‘sheer bravery the episode remains unsurpassed.’
In 1916 he married Marianne Susan Wheeler, and they had a daughter, Osyth, in 1920. After the war he lived in Tenbury Wells and worked as a land agent. Amongst many local activities, he became the first chairman of the local branch of the British Legion, a County Magistrate, chairman of the local branch of the Royal Agricultural Society and chairman of the Tenbury RDC. He died on 6 January 1978 aged 85 in Tenbury Hospital. His funeral at Knighton on Teme was attended by representatives of the many organisations with which he had been associated.

Thomas Beaman (written as Beavan on the Roll of Honour). He was born in 1895, one of three children of farm labourer Joseph and Harriet Beaman in Areley Kings. In 1911, he was living with his grandparents William and Ann Beaman at Burlins Cottages, Dunley, and working as a blacksmith’s striker (possibly for William Norwood). No military details.

Thomas Lowick Charles Bevan. Private (33401) Worcestershire Regiment and Tank Corps (309436). One of ten children of Thomas Charles Lowick Bevan, a stoker in the vinegar factory in Stourport, and his wife Maud. He was born in Hartlebury in 1886 and was successively an errand boy, a postal sorter and a postman. In 1907 he married Annie Amelia Clibbury and lived at Stagborough View, Areley Common. He enlisted in 1915. His service details are unknown but he became ill with bronchitis and with what may be signs of shell shock and was hospitalised before being transferred to the reserves. He died in January 1962, and together with his wife is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Vincent Bowen. Acting Sergeant (53998), 18th Battalion (Western Ontario Regiment) Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was the son of William and Ann Elizabeth (née Chell) Bowen and was born in Gilgal, Stourport, on 2 September 1892. His father’s family were from Areley Kings and the family returned to the village after Vincent’s birth, living in Beach Road. In 1903, William emigrated to Canada and the family followed in 1909, settling in Guelph, Ontario. There Vincent, like his father, became a carpet weaver and in January 1915 married Hilda Perkin, a spinner. Before that, at the beginning of the war, he had enlisted in the Canadian Army on 26 October 1914. Not long after his marriage, he sailed for Britain in April 1915 and landed in France in September, fighting on the Western Front throughout his service. He suffered trench fever, trench foot and a shrapnel wound and was involved in most of the Canadian Army’s epic actions, winning the Military Medal for gallantry not once but twice. He was killed near Arras on 26 August 1918, less than two months before the Armistice, and is buried in Achicourt Road Military Cemetery near Arras. Vincent appears on Areley Kings Roll of Honour but not on any of the village’s three memorials to the fallen. Evidently no one here knew of his death. It is intended to ensure that his name is added to the Pillar of Remembrance, a century after his death during the Last Hundred Days, in what came to be known as known as ‘the March to Victory’.

 

Vincent Bowen's inscribed Memorial Medal (Canadian)

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Henry Stephen Bullock was born in 1883 at Woodbine Cottage near the Pearl Lane junction known as Bullock’s Corner. He was one of the many children of James and Mary Bullock, and although James died in a farm accident in 1913, Mary supported herself by running the family dairy business, milking ten cows each day and delivering the milk by donkey and cart. She achieved fame locally by living to 104 years of age. Henry’s military service is unknown but his name features on the Roll of Honour. In his mid-teens he was employed in farming but later worked as a valet in Westminster, where he met his wife Emily White. By 1911 he had returned to farming, taking the tenancy of Hey’s Farm at Upperthong in North Yorkshire. He eventually returned to Areley Kings and lived at Dunley Hall Cottages. He died in Blakebrook Hospital in 1963, and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard. Henry was not the only member of the Bullock family who was in the services. His nephew Albert Edward Bullock (who was born in Surrey) was a professional seaman and served throughout the war. He survived after being trapped underwater when his submarine e41 was damaged and sank during an exercise in 1916. He was awarded a DSM.

Herbert Charles Bunce. Private 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards (15599) and also Welsh Guards (129). Son of Thomas and Sarah, he was born in 1891 in Astley, one of five children, and married Emily Calder, a scullery maid, in 1915. Prior to his enlistment he was a labourer in a woodyard living at Jennings Wood, Areley Kings. No military service details are available but he survived the war. He must have found matters difficult on leaving the services as he and his wife are recorded as living in former German prisoner of war huts at the Beacon Hill Hostel, Lickey Road, Kings Norton. They eventually moved to 77, Hoggs Lane, Kings Norton but in the 1950s he was living there alone until he married his brother’s widow, Ida Lewis, in 1956. He died in September 1973, aged 82.

Harvey Bunce. Private Sherwood Foresters (204610). Elder brother of Herbert Charles, he enlisted in November 1915, aged 26. He was living in Derby after working previously as a stud groom on a farm in Grimley owned by George Clerke, with whom he also boarded. Military service is unknown but he was considered surplus to military requirements in March 1919, having suffered some impairment, and was discharged with a good character. In February 1912 he had married Olive Cole in Cheltenham and he returned to that town on his discharge.

John Butler. Gunner Royal Field Artillery. Son of James Butler, a bricklayer, and Sarah Ann (née Rea) he was born in Squirrel Row, Areley Kings in 1896. A painter and decorator before joining the forces, his military service is unknown but he probably spent some time at one of the Larkhill camps in Wiltshire, as his records show that he suffered from scabies and spent six days in the Fargo Hospital there, a 1,200-bed facility which was built to cater for the many troops stationed nearby. He survived the war and died in June 1940. He is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Sidney Butler. Driver (3358/831271) 2nd Battalion Royal Field Artillery. Born in 1897 and brother of John, he enlisted at Worcester on 31 May 1915 for the duration of the war. He served in France until 30 January 1919, when he sailed from Dunkirk to the Chiseldon Dispersal Centre for release. His war records were damaged but his discharge papers show he survived the hostilities with no disabilities. After the war he worked as a bricklayer. He married Florence Margery Callow, who survived him. He died at their home, 10 Warwick Street, Stourport, on 29 May 1926.

John Henry Calder. (Harry) Private (112079) in the 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Son of Thomas, an agricultural worker, and Mary Calder (née Cooke) of Redstone Cottages, he was one of seven children. Prior to the war he had been a regular soldier for six years and had seen service overseas with two years in India. He enlisted at Kidderminster and in 1911 he was in the 3rd Battalion stationed at Shaft Barracks in Dover Castle. He was killed on 19 June 1915, aged 22, fighting to take the village of Krithia, and became one of the 265,000 casualties of the Gallipoli campaign. He has no known grave but he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial at Canakkale in Turkey. He was mourned as the first man from Areley Kings to be killed in the war.

Frank Calder. Possibly a Private (13587) in 4th Battalion Worcester Regiment. Born in 1898 he was the brother of John Henry. He married Annie Victoria Jane Bunce in 1919 and their home was Brickyard Cottages, where they had a son, Leslie Frank, in 1922. At his son’s christening he recorded his occupation as a professional soldier. He died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 13 August 1956.

Leonard Bray Coley. Private Royal Field Artillery (13115) and Royal Horse Artillery. Son of William Coley, a nightwatchman at the Stourport Enamel Works, and his wife Annie of Alma Cottages, Leonard was born in 1892. His military service is unknown but he survived the war and in 1923 married Ethel James in Newport, Glamorgan. He died in Lambeth in June 1964, having worked at various times as a policeman and a butcher.

Cuthbert Coley. Private (79999) Devonshire Regiment. Brother of Leonard he was born in 1895 and was a gardener. No military records, he died in May 1922 aged 27 and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Albert Coombs. Gunner (144757) RGA 244th Field Battery. Son of William and Mary Jane Coombs of Bank Cottages, Dunley and later Areley Court Lodge, he was born in 1897 and his Service Attestation describes him as a cartridge cleaner. He married Ellen Price on 24 December 1915 at St.Bartholomew’s church and they lived at Burnthorne Cottage. He fought in Belgium and left the services in 1919. After the war in 1924 he wrote the following letter to the army:

Dear Sir,
Can you inform me the reason why I have not received my war service medals. I know you’re not the man to distribute them but I thought I could get some information off you. I was demobilised in 1919. I haven’t troubled much about them until just lately And I know several men that never went out of this country until after the Armistice have got theirs. So I thought I might as well have mine. This was my Regimental name and number Gnr A Coombs No 144757
R.G.A 244th Siege Battery.
I remain Yours truly
A Coombs.

The letter was successful in getting him his decorations. He died at home on 10 February 1963.

 

The Corbett Family

Farm labourer John Corbett and his wife Mary (née Beaman) originally lived on Areley Common, but later moved to Bridge Yard Cottages. They had seven children, five of whom were boys, and each one of them served in the forces. Of these, two were killed in action and another was badly wounded and captured, spending the remainder of the war in captivity. The two remaining brothers survived, although one was also severely wounded. As John died in 1900, it must have been particularly diffi cult for Mary as a widow to keep receiving the heartbreaking news from the front.

The Corbett men who served were:
Henry William Corbett. Quartermaster Sergeant (13241) 17th Lancers. Henry was the eldest Corbett son and prior to his military service was a groom. He enlisted in the 17th Lancers in December 1897 and saw service in the Boer War, where he was decorated twice, and was then stationed for nine years in India. From 1914 until the end of hostilities he fought in France, returning to England in April 1918 for hospitalisation for a gunshot wound. He was discharged in 1919 following twenty-one years’ service, and returned to live locally. He participated in the service of dedication for the Areley Kings war memorial. He died in March 1925.

John Joseph Corbett. Sergeant (82185) Worcestershire Regiment and Royal Engineers 149th Army Troops Corps. Born in 1883, he was the second son of the Corbetts and was working as a shoeing smith in Cheltenham before the war, living at the home of a Mr and Mrs Cowling. Full details of his military service are unknown but he went to France in October 1915 and saw action. He must have been an excellent soldier as he was mentioned in despatches on 8 November 1918 for ‘Gallant and distinguished service in the field.’ He survived the war and married Lillian Mary Price, with whom he had a son. He is believed to have worked as a blacksmith for Fathers & Sons in Stourport and died in 1948, aged 65.

 

John Joseph Corbett

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Alfred Corbett. Private (45902) of 95th Company of the Machine Gun Corps. He was the eighth war fatality from the village. He was born in 1884 and left the village before the war to work in Long Ashton, Somerset, as a chauffeur to the Garnett family of Rownham House, where he had quarters above the stables. He married Eleanor Mary Francome, a domestic servant, of Southleigh Road, Clifton and they had a daughter, Kathleen Mary. He took a private ambulance to France early in the war and worked with the Red Cross on the Western Front. He had enlisted in Bristol in the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1915, was mobilised in June 1916 and was posted to the 95th Brigade Machine Gun Company in September 1916. He participated in the assault on Vimy Ridge on the first day of the Battle of Arras where he received wounds from which he died, aged 32. His death was caused by a high-explosive shell which burst in his trench early in the morning of Easter Monday, 1917. Mortally wounded, he was carried by stretcher bearers of the 51st Highland Division but died before they could reach a casualty clearing station. His grave is in Roclincourt Military Cemetery in the Pas-de-Calais.

 

Alfred Corbett before the war

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Arthur Charles Corbett. Private (11787) 1st Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment. Arthur Charles (known as Charlie) was a regular soldier who had previously served overseas in Egypt. He was one of the first soldiers into France in 1914 and was one of the 241 soldiers of the battalion wounded (by gunshot to his arm) at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. He was invalided home to be treated at Western General Hospital in Manchester in March 1915. Later that month, on recovery, he transferred to the 4th Battalion and together with Harry Calder embarked for Gallipoli on the troopship Aragon, landing on 25 April when the battalion was immediately involved in front-line action for almost three weeks. Aged 23, he was killed in action by a bullet through the neck on 27 June 1915 at Krithia, Gallipoli. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Helles memorial. He was the second man from Areley Kings to be killed in the war.

Benjamin Frank Corbett. Private (9534) 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Born 1887. Prior to becoming another regular soldier Benjamin, who enlisted in 1901 and served in India, had been a grocer’s errand boy. His regiment returned from abroad and was early into France (August 1914), where he was wounded and taken prisoner in the retreat from Mons. His initial prison camp was at Meresburg, Mannschaftslager, Germany. He served out the rest of hostilities as a prisoner of war, probably in work camps. He returned to England and in 1920 was living in Clifton, Bristol at the address of his brother Alfred’s widow Eleanor. He is believed to have died in Bristol in 1961.

 

Victor Charles Crowe. Private (121392) 48th Division Artillery. Born 1896, son of Charles Edward Crowe and his wife Mary Anne living at Worcester Road, Stourport. He enlisted in March 1915 and on 4 December 1916 was posted to the artillery. He was frequently ill during his service, part of which was spent in Italy, and towards the end of the war suffered from influenza. He was discharged in May 1919. He found occupation as an asylum worker in Bromsgrove and in 1922 he married Clara, the daughter of Thomas Heybeard, a boat builder for the Severn & Canals Carrying Company. They lived at Stagborough View. He died in Kidderminster Hospital on 21 February 1966.

Frank William Dance. Private (137543) Army Service Corps. He was born in Castle Frome, near Ledbury, in 1892 to Frank William Dance and Harriet Dance, the family moving to Areley Kings shortly after he was born. In 1911, the family were living in Rectory Cottage. Prior to the war he had worked as a groom at Rownham House Stables in Somerset (see Alfred Corbett). He married Mable Annie Bateman in Bristol in 1915 and lived at Nicholas Road, Bristol, working as chauffeur. He enlisted at the age of 24 in 1916 and survived the war. He died in 1940.

Thomas Henry Dance. Private (353078) 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. One year younger than brother Frank, he was born in Areley Kings and at the age of 18 was working for the American Tin Stamping Company in Stourport. Following enlistment he was apparently found unfit to serve and was discharged from the regiment in October 1914. Between September 1916 and January 1919, he served with the Labour Corps in France. In 1918 he suffered from blood poisoning in both legs which aggravated a pre-existing weak ankle. He was treated at the No. 2 Canadian Hospital in France and later transferred to Exeter No. 3 Hospital. This illness may have precipitated his final discharge. He married Ivy Maria Appleby, a Bristol cigarette factory worker, in 1932 and they lived at 32 Queen’s Road on the Walshes Estate. He died in 1964.

 

Disability Claim Form of Thomas Henry Dance

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The Helles Memorial

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Sidney Charles Davies. Private with the Warwickshire Regiment. Born in 1901 to William Henry and Sophia Davies (née Bradley). His father moved from Bristol to be an engineer in the Stourport vinegar works. Sidney survived the war and died in December 1980 in Kidderminster.

Arthur Davis. 10th Worcestershire Regiment. Son of Arthur J. Davis, a carpet weaver, and Mary Elizabeth, he was born in 1883 in Lower Mitton. Prior to the war he had married Maud, had a son Arthur Percy and was living at Fairview on Areley Common, working as a clerk at the vinegar factory. in 1918 he was posted as ‘Missing’ from his regiment, further details are not known.

Leonard Dorrell. Private (13541) Royal Field Artillery. Born in 1898 to farmer James Leonard Dorrell and his wife Clara Jane at Bank Farm, he was one of eight children. Following a temporary deferment he enlisted at Norton Barracks in 1916, and served in France as a driver. He was still in France, based in Landrecies, on the last day of the war. The only reported illness he suffered was hospitalisation with a carbuncle on his neck. He was discharged in good health in 1919 and he sailed to Canada to work as a lumberjack. in 1921, he returned on the Pacific Line vessel Tunis and his passenger listing showed him as a farmer and his home at Bank Farm, Areley Kings. He married Elsie Evelyn Green of High Trees Farm, Rock and they lived in Martley. He died in 1977, aged 79.

Joe Doughty and Harry Doughty. The brothers appear on the Roll of Honour although their association with Areley Kings is not clear. This is possibly because their mother and sister moved to the village during the war. Their father was Francis and their mother Ellen. Harry was born at No. 4 Gilgal in Stourport in 1885, and he was a Private, probably serving in the Worcestershire Regiment. In 1908 he married Evelyn Humphries and they lived at 6 York Street, Stourport. He survived the war and, unable to get work in his pre-war occupation as a painter and decorator, eventually worked at Stourport power station and died in 1965. Joe was born in Lodge Road, Stourport in 1890. In 1910 he married Mary Heybeard, who was born in Areley Kings, and they had two children. The family lived at No. 6 Tontine Buildings and later moved to No. 10 Pinedene in Stourport, where he died in July 1978. No further military details are available for the brothers.

Edwin Allen Edwards. Sergeant (23971) 90th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artilley. Son of Allan and Sarah he was born in Bowpatch in Areley Kings in 1885. Aged 22, he married Alice Elizabeth Kench at Henley-in-Arden. This marriage did not last and he subsequently married Etheline Hodges and later Annie Georgina Bullock. He had four children. Before his military service he had served an apprenticeship, but in 1914 was a porter with the Great Western Railway in Newport, Monmouthshire. He served in India as a Bombardier Sergeant and he was commissioned into his regiment on 20 February 1917. He saw service in France, was mentioned in despatches and was awarded the Military Medal (French). After the war he emigrated to Canada and died in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1974, aged 89.

Harry Vincent Elcox. Private (40406) of 9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment. He was born in 1892, the son of John William Elcox, a carpet weaver, and his wife Eliza (née Bowyer) of Plod Cottages and one of eight children. Prior to his enlistment he was working as a baker for Joyner’s Bakery on Areley Common, and then moved to Alveley to work at Coton Hall. There he married Lizzie May Ridgeway at Alveley Church in December 1916. He had enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in Birmingham in December 1915, and following a period in a Training Reserve Battalion he was sent to France in January 1917 and transferred to the York and Lancaster Regiment. He was hospitalised with a throat infection and returned to duty in March, joining the fighting for Hill 60 near Ypres. Whilst resting with the battalion in the Railway Dugouts at Zillebeke, he was killed on 28 May 1917, aged 26, by German artillery fire. His grave is in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground. He was the ninth soldier from Areley Kings to be killed.

 

The railway dugouts tunnelled in to a railway embankment

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Arthur Elcox. Private (34610) 4th Worcestershire Regiment. Brother of Harry Vincent, he was born in 1898 and married Eleanor May Smith in 1925. His military records are unknown but he survived the war and died aged 65. He is buried with his wife in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Frederick Elcox. Private 1/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Brother of Harry Vincent and Arthur, he was a farm labourer before the war. He survived and died in May 1942.

Leonard Samuel Evans. Private (12547) of the 3rd Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Son of Thomas Evans, a former Severn Trow Captain, and Emma (née Cooper) the school caretaker of Schoolhouse, Areley Kings, he was born in 1885. Leonard left the area at 16 to work in London as a porter on the railways, living with his sister in Fulham. He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry, enlisting at Gosport, and served for twelve years until February 1914. After demobilisation he re-enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery in Lambeth in April 1915, joining his unit on the Isle of Wight at the end of May. He was then transferred to the Warwickshire Regiment but seven months later, aged 31, was hospitalised in Parkhurst Military Hospital where he was diagnosed with TB and subsequently discharged due to ill health. His service records show that he claimed his sickness was caused by wet clothing during his training, as he had not had any signs of this illness in his twelve years in the Marines or in the months afterwards up to his re-enlistment. He died in the Downs Sanatorium in Surrey. With Ellen Amelia Stevens he had a son, Ralph, born in 1909, although no reference is made to his marriage or his son in his military records. He died in June 1916 but it has not been possible to locate his grave. He was the fourth of the men of the village to die as a result of the war.

 

Leonard Evans in the uniform of a Marines Private

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The Fathers Family

Thomas Hicks Fathers and his wife Mary Ann Mehala Fathers moved to Beech Road in Areley Kings at the end of the 1800s from Northamptonshire, to start a business as blacksmith, coachbuilder and carpenter. Later, the family set up home in the Round House; they had six children and four of their sons were in the services. Their second son, Sidney George, worked in Birmingham during the war although he was eligible to serve in the forces. Possibly he worked in munitions, which meant he was exempt from call-up. Alternatively, as the tribunals were sometimes sympathetic to families which had made a huge contribution to the war effort, it may have been considered that with four sons serving the Fathers family had done enough.

 

The Fathers family before the war

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The sons who joined the forces were:
Lewis Thomas Fathers. Shoeing Smith (98885) 64th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. Lewis was born in 1872 and was the eldest son. He married Harriet Wood in 1889 and they had five children. At the age of 29, he was living in Hillhampton Lodge, Great Witley and working as farrier looking after the Earl of Dudley’s hunters at Witley Court. Later he moved to Prospect Hill, Kidderminster. He enlisted in Birmingham in May 1915 and on 3 June 1916 he was posted to France. He served until March 1919, when he was transferred to the Reserves. He died in September 1948, aged 75, in Kidderminster.

Harry Hicks Fathers. He was the second son of Thomas and Mary, born in 1879, and in 1907 married Beatrice Alice Rowley and had a son, Thomas Eric. Their home was in Brindley Street, Stourport and like his brother, he worked in the family business as a wheelwright and farrier. In 1911, he and his family emigrated to Canada, sailing from Liverpool to Montreal. Their daughter Margaret was born there in 1915. He enlisted in the Engineering Branch of the Canadian Army in 1915 and was later transferred to the Canadian Army Dental Corps until his discharge in 1919, having spent the whole of the war in Canada. He came back to England with his wife and children in the same year. After the war he returned to the family business and worked with his father. To show off their skills as blacksmiths, they produced a display case of silver-plated horseshoes which was exhibited in Hartlebury Museum. He died in May 1960 and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Frank William Fathers. Shoeing Smith Corporal in the Household Cavalry. He was the fourth son of Thomas and Mary Fathers, born in 1881. He joined the Worcester Yeomanry in November 1904 and served for three years. After a further engagement with the Yeomanry he joined the Household Cavalry, and served in Egypt working as a farrier. He found one of the most distressing features of his work was slaughtering wounded horses. He married in 1911 aged 30, and lived in Mitton Street, Stourport with his wife May, with whom he had three girls. After the war he worked in the family business on the Kidderminster Road again as a farrier, living in Mitton Street. He died in July 1964.

Alfred Arthur Fathers. Private (175622) Royal Army Service Corps. He was the youngest son of Thomas and Mary, born in 1883. Following training in Birmingham, he was a sign writer and painter in the family business of coach and wagon builders. He married Kate Elizabeth Tomkins in 1916, a teacher at the National School. He served in Mesopotamia but it affected his health and he suffered from malaria on his return to Areley Kings, where he lived in ‘The Hollies’ on Areley Common. Nevertheless, he lived to be 83 and he too is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard. (His home ‘The Hollies’ was built in accordance with a system by which a builder could proceed with the construction, but only by first building a chimney and lighting a fire in it inside one working day.) It is interesting that four Fathers young men served, and all survived.

 

Alfred Garbett. Possibly Private (16141) Shropshire Light Infantry. Born in 1890, one of five children and son of commission agent John and Susan Garbett of 13a York Street, Stourport.

Albert Charles Gardner. No military information. Albert was born in 1880 in Areley Kings, son of carpenter and canal worker Arthur and his wife Annie Gardner – both originally from Gloucester. Before the war he was a house painter. He survived the war and was living in Victoria Cottages when he died in October 1936.

George Thomas Gardner. No military information. Brother of Albert, he was born in Areley Kings in 1887 and before the war was working as a footman in Bournemouth for the Morrison-Bell family. After the war he became a driver and in 1929 he married Mabel Waters Wynne.

Sydney Alfred Gardner. Guardsman (GS/7174) 7th Dragoon Guards. Joined on 4 October 1915 and served in India and France. No family information but lived on Areley Common.

 

The Haynes Family

John Haynes was a police sergeant in Tenbury Wells who retired at the end of the nineteenth century, and with his wife Alice moved to the Dog at Dunley, where he became licensee. On his death in 1901, Alice took over the licence. They had thirteen children and four sons fought in the war. Additionally, the family had relatives serving with the Welsh Regiment and the RASC so they were well represented in the conflict.

 

The Haynes family in 1895

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Richard Haynes at a training camp

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Richard Haynes. Private (36096) 6th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and later South Staffs Regiment (47066). The eldest child (born 1876), he worked as a grocer’s porter in Tenbury Wells before moving to Shrewsbury and finally Worcester Road, Stourport, where he was a farm bailiff. He married Hannah Webb in 1910 and they had an adopted daughter. He was called up for service in September 1916. Stationed in India, his health began to suffer with bronchitis and pleurisy and he was hospitalised for long periods. He returned to England in April 1919 and was discharged. After the war he lived in North Road, Stourport, working as a general labourer. He died in December 1942.

Walter Henry Haynes. Gunner (84667) Royal Field Artillery. He was born in 1882 and at the age of 33 he was living at ‘The Hollies’, Dunley, with his wife Louise and son Wesley, where, together with his premises in Stourport at 1 Severn Road, he carried on the trade of butcher. On his mother’s death in 1916 he sold the business of the Dog and enlisted for military service. Stationed for training at Bordon in Hampshire, he was found to be unfit for military duties (bad heart and obesity) and was transferred to the cookhouse. He was discharged as being medically unfit in January 1919, suffering breathlessness and a weak heart. Back in civilian life he became involved with the Abberley British Legion, the Bowling Club, was a trustee of Astley School and played a significant part in local life. He died of pneumonia in 1935 and is buried in Astley churchyard.

Ernest Haynes. Acting Lance Corporal (P1665) Military Mounted Police. Ernest was born in Suckley in 1883 and was married to Ada Elizabeth Davis. He was a policeman in civilian life and was working out of Bromsgrove police station, when after eight years in the police he joined twenty-two colleagues in the Worcestershire constabulary and enlisted in June 1915. He served on the front line in France and was killed on duty by an artillery shell following the attack on Le Quesnoy in November 1918. At the time of his death his wife was pregnant with their first child, who would never know his father. His name is commemorated on the Worcestershire Constabulary War Memorial at Hindlip Hall. Ernest may not have lived at the Dog, but he is part of the tragic story of the Haynes family.

 

Ernest Haynes with his wife Ada

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Frank Rowland Haynes. Private (325249) Worcestershire Yeomanry later Cheshire Regiment and finally RAMC (362189). Frank was born in 1885 and before the war worked at the Dog as a brewer for his mother. He followed his elder brothers into the services, and having trained with the Yeomanry since 1903 he mobilised with them in August 1914. He participated in the fighting in the Dardanelles, seeing service at Oghratina and Kaia, but was ill in hospital when the Yeomanry were captured by the Turks. His hospital discharge papers show he was categorised B2. This meant that he was ‘Free from serious organic diseases, able to serve in France or in garrisons in the Tropics; able to walk for 5 miles and see and hear well enough for normal purposes.’ He transferred to the Cheshire Regiment then to the RAMC, where for two years he was an orderly in a hospital in Alexandria. His army character documents described him as a very steady, reliable man. On his return home in March 1919 he found his mother had died in his absence, one of his brothers had died of an epileptic fit and another brother had been killed in action one week before the end of the war. He went to live with his brother at ‘The Hollies’ and although he found work as an agricultural labourer on the Oakhampton Estate, he was unable to find the capital to fund a smallholding. He began to suffer depression and delusions, no doubt a form of shell shock arising from the stress of his wartime experiences, and taking his brother’s shotgun he shot and injured two men on their way home from the Dog at Dunley – his former home. There was an extended trial at which he was found guilty of attempted murder but insane and committed to Broadmoor mental institution where he eventually died in 1935.

(Note: Shell shock had been recognised after the Crimean and Boer Wars but the authorities seemed reluctant to acknowledge it. The conditions experienced by individuals in this war – the constant stress, hostile environment and the everpresent threat of death – brought on the trauma which eventually was recognised by the nation. However, official figures were seemingly deliberately underestimated, claiming only 86,000 cases. Independent surveys reported as many as 200,000 to 500,000 men suffered this condition to some degree. Shell shock manifested itself in many ways, from minor physical trembling to complete mental breakdown. On the surface Areley Kings seems to have been fortunate, as apart from John Morris, the case of Frank Haynes is the only one identified. It is possible, however, that with the stoicism of the times others suffering more minor symptoms of shell shock may have lived with the condition. Certainly there was no official monitoring of individual servicemen on their return and no medical or organisational support to help with this condition.)

 

Joseph Henry Higgs. Private (35963) of 4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He was born in 1885, the son of Joseph Higgs, a farm labourer, and Ellen Higgs (née Morris) of Redstone Cottages, and later of Bowpatch, who had twelve children. He began work looking after cattle but prior to his enlistment he was a wagoner at White House Farm, working for Stephen Mapp. He enlisted in Stourbridge, was wounded on 9 October 1917 in the fighting at Poelkapelle in the third Battle of Ypres, and died the following day at a Casualty Clearing Station. This battle was fought in almost impossible conditions of filth and mud which contributed to the enormous numbers of casualties. The Passchendaele battlefield was described as:

One great bog in which every shell crater was a deep pool. There were thousands of shell craters. Our guns had made them and German gunfire lashing our troops made thousands more, linking them together so that they were like lakes in some places filled with slimy water and dead bodies.’

Joseph’s grave is in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium. His name is also recorded on the family gravestone in St.Bartholomew’s Church, where he was baptised. He was the twelfth soldier from the village to fall in the war.

 

A casualty dressing station near a captured enemy blockhouse of the type where Joseph Higgs would have received initial treatment

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The obituary photograph of Joseph Higgs from the 'Kidderminster Shuttle'

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Alfred Charles Higgs. Royal Flying Corps/ Royal Air Force (92101) Brother of Joseph, he was born in 1891 and like his brother became a carter at Whitehouse Farm. He enlisted in 1917 and survived the war. In 1928 he married Elizabeth Harding of Great Witley. They had one daughter and lived in Vernon Road, Stourport.

 

Alfred Charles Higgs

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Samuel Henry Hodges. Private (36035) Labour Corps Worcestershire Regiment. Son of John Hodges, a housepainter, and Mary (née Gwilliam), he was a gardener. No military service details. He married Ellen Kate Ford in 1906 and they had six children. He lived at Dunley Hall Cottages. He died in October 1936, aged 58, and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Arthur Lacey. Driver (027599) Royal Army Service Corps. Living in Burnthorne Lane, Dunley, he enlisted on 18 November 1914, aged 25. He embarked for France in August 1915 and according to his records he was not an exemplary soldier. He spent many days confined to barracks and also had time in detention, as well as loss of pay. His offences included being late for roll call, absence from parade, refusing to obey an order and submitting a letter for censorship which contained criticism of his superior officers and the army in general. (All letters from theatres of war had to be censored by officers before being sent.) He survived the war and was discharged in March 1919. In 1940, he was living at Holy Cross Green near Stourbridge and was working for the Air Ministry. He wrote a letter to the RASC in June of that year, asking for copies of his army records for his employer. It would be interesting to know what his employer thought of these when they received them!

Henry George Lacey. Rifleman in 1/10 London Battalion. Brother of Arthur but no military or family history.

Charles Alfred Lucas. Private Royal Field Artillery. Born in 1887, he was a postman before the war. No service records survive. He married Annie Elizabeth in Areley Kings and had two children. He died in hospital in Birmingham in 1926 and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s Churchyard.

 

The Mapp Family of Areley Common

Edwin Mapp, a hollowware turner in Stourport, and his wife Sarah (née Palmer) lived on Areley Common and had eight children, and four boys went to war.

Edwin Mapp. Acting Corporal (11210) 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Born in 1888, he was the eldest son. At 13, Edwin was working as a turner like his father, but later became a regular soldier. In 1911 he was based in Albany Barracks on the Isle of Wight and subsequently served throughout the war, being wounded in action; he was discharged in 1920. He died in July 1936, aged 48, and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Frederick Alfred Mapp. Private (16752) of 9th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. One of the two pairs of brothers in the village who died. He was born in October 1889 and was a gardener before his enlistment in Coventry. He served in Mesopotamia and was forced to experience the awful conditions of heat, floods, vermin and mosquitoes, which led to unprecedented levels of disease such as cholera, smallpox and dysentery. He was one of the many thousands who succumbed and in October 1917, aged 27, he was the eleventh man from the village claimed by the war. He is buried in the now sadly neglected Amara War Cemetery in Iraq, very different from the immaculately maintained resting places of those who fought elsewhere.

 

Frederick Alfred Mapp

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Joseph Mapp. Rifleman (6731) of 13th Battalion the Rifle Brigade. A shepherd in civilian life, he enlisted in Kidderminster in 1914 and became part of an elite unit which was to perish on the Somme. He was killed aged 24 on 10 July 1916, a casualty of a tragic blunder which is worth recording as an indication of the chaos and confusion which surrounded that campaign. An order to cancel a planned assault never reached his battalion, and with no support it advanced into a storm of artillery and machinegun fire. Unbelievably, they achieved their objectives but suffered very heavy casualties. When the error was realised they were ordered to withdraw – but being mistaken for the enemy as they made their way back to their lines, they suffered further destruction by British artillery. His grave is in Pozieres British Cemetery. He was the fifth Areley Kings serviceman to die.

 

A studio photograph of Joseph Mapp

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William Mapp. Private (11678) 1st Battalion Worcester Regiment. Youngest son of Edwin and Sarah, born in 1899, he married Olive Maud and died in July 1962. He is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

 

Stephen King Mapp. Corporal (129116) of ‘C’ Special Company Royal engineers. No relation to the Mapp family above. He was born at Seed Green, Astley in 1896, son of farmer Stephen Mapp and Lillian Mary (née King) prior to the family moving to Rutland Villas, Areley Kings and finally to White House Farm. His father Stephen Mapp senior farmed the White House land throughout the war, became a district councillor and was very influential and active in the community. Stephen King Mapp attended the village school and was then successful in obtaining a place at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Hartlebury. On leaving school he served an apprenticeship as a fitter on the railways and enlisted at Crewe in the 28th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Because of his education he was transferred to ‘C’ Special Company of the Royal Engineers, which was a specialist unit involved with dispensing poison gas and only accepted a high standard of personnel. His rank of corporal was a privilege of the company and was not earned the conventional way. However, it did give a freedom to pass through the lines to carry out the task of issuing gas or smoke and then withdrawing. Stephen was known as Tommy and was well thought of by his comrades. His school obituary states that he died a victim of a gas attack, but elsewhere it is claimed he died of wounds aged 22, following combat at Neuve Chapelle in the Lapugnoy Casualty Clearing Station on 30 September 1918. He is buried at Lapugnoy Cemetery in the Pas-de-Calais. He was the last of Areley King’s fifteen sons to die as a result of the war.

Wilfred John Mapp. Able Seaman Royal Navy (J37578). The younger brother of Stephen King Mapp, he was born at Astley in 1898. He served throughout the war on numerous ships including Impregnable, Livid, Gloucester, Victory and Chatham. His last ship was Pembroke of the New Zealand Navy. This probably influenced his decision to emigrate to New Zealand and he took the passenger vessel Rhuahine to Wellington in November 1924. He returned to England at least once, his last visit being in 1951. At that time he is shown on the SS Tamaroa passenger list as being an electrician. He died in New Zealand and is buried in Thames Valley Bay of Plenty cemetery.

 

Members of a Special Company of Royal Engineers loading gas shells

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Herbert Martin. Son of Henry John, a carpet weaver, and Mary Jane (née Milliner) of Rose Cottage, Bowpatch, he was born in 1898. No military service records.

Charles Samuel Mills (Charlie). Leading Stoker (5635) on HMS Dartmouth, a ‘Town’ class light cruiser, was the seventh man from the village to be killed in the war. One of six children of William Mills and Elizabeth Rimmel Mills (née Drew) of the Red House, Dunley, he was born in 1892. He was killed in action aged 23 on 15 May 1917, when his ship was torpedoed following the Battle of the Otranto Barrage off Brindisi, Italy. This naval battle against three cruisers and two destroyers of the Austro-Hungarian navy was to preserve the allied blockade to the Mediterranean. The action was successful but Charlie’s ship, HMS Dartmouth, was torpedoed returning to its base in Brindisi. Trapped in the engine room, he did not survive. He had been a regular sailor since 1910 following work as a fitter at the Anglo Enamel Works. He was buried at sea but is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

 

Charlie Mills (standing) in a studio photograph taken in Hong Kong

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Albert J. Mills. Private Worcestershire Yeomanry (2572). Elder brother of Charles, he was born in Areley Kings in 1888 and was a business assistant, living with his sister Ann and Thomas Mills on their Heightington farm. Military service unknown.

Arthur Henry Morris. Yew Tree Villas, Areley Kings. Born in 1892. Although he tried to enlist and was attested on 28 November 1914, he was discharged in February 1915 under King’s Regulation No. 392 (iii) (c) as ‘Not likely to become an efficient soldier’ and ‘Considered unfit for service within 3 months of joining.’ His attestation form shows his occupation as a carter and indicates his brief period of service had been with the 7th Battalion of the Worcester Regiment.

Percy John Morris. Possibly Rifleman in the 22nd Battalion Wessex & Welsh Rifle Brigade (20055). Although he appears on the Roll of Honour, his association with Areley Kings is unknown. He was born in 1886, one of six children of ironworker James and his wife Annie living in Baldwin Road, Stourport. By 1911 he had moved to Griffithstown in Wales to work in a sheet metal mill. He married Rosina Church in Pontypool in 1913. His attestation was in Monmouthshire, and after his service he returned mentally and physically incapacitated to Wales. His medical records dated 17 January 1917 state that: ‘He is unable to give any intelligible account of himself. He is much influenced by both auditory and visual hallucinations. He is unable to walk without support. He has permanent total incapacity.’ it was claimed that his condition was not the result of military service – but that must be difficult to believe as he was eligible for a gratuity of £65. He died later that year in June 1917, aged 32.

Ernest Norwood. Sergeant 1/1st Worcester Yeomanry (2457 & 325347 – the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917). Born in 1887 and lived at the Smithy, Dunley with his blacksmith father. He also worked as a blacksmith at their forges in Areley Common and Dunley. He joined the Yeomanry in late summer 1914 as a Private with the trade of shoeingsmith, and reached the rank of Sergeant on his discharge. He left England with the regiment from Avonmouth on 9 April 1915 to serve with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which landed at Alexandria on 24 April 1915. However, the photograph below, which is dated 1916, shows him in standard woollen uniform and not the khaki drill with which the regiment was issued for the Middle east. Was he invalided back to England or is the date on the photograph incorrect? He survived the war and was discharged on 20 June 1919. in 1939 he was still trading as a master blacksmith and acting as a special constable.

 

Ernest Norwood (on the left). The inverted horseshoe on his sleeve indicates he was following his civilian trade as a shoeingsmith whilst in the forces. He is wearing the Pattern 1903 bandolier across his chest

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Albert Palmer. No military service records. Albert was born in 1884, one of five children of carpet weaver Frederick and Annie Palmer of Squirrel Row, Areley Common. He later moved to 34 Gilgal in Stourport, where he lived with his brother Frederick, his sister Fanny and her husband Arthur Hutton. He was a tea salesman.

William Henry Palmer. No military records. Son of Thomas B. and Alice Palmer who ran the post office and grocery in Dunley, he was born in 1877 and was one of four children. After the death of his father his mother ran the post office, and William Henry and his siblings all worked in the business. He became a farmer in Dunley and in 1913 he married Jane Mather in Worcester. Their four children were christened at St.Bartholomew’s.

Harry Perry. 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment. Born in Hartlebury in 1889, son of farm labourer (carter) James and Susannah Perry, Harry was a regular soldier and in 1911 was serving in India at Jubbulapore. His regiment returned to England in August 1914. No further military records – but he may have gone with the regiment to Egypt in 1915. His parents moved to Areley Kings, where they lived near the school and where his father worked as a coalman. Harry married Lucy Clarke and they had a daughter, Gertrude Mary. In her christening records in 1918, he was described as a bricklayer’s labourer. Both the wedding and the christening took place at St.Bartholomew’s.

Albert Edward Phillips. Private (2490) 194 Trench Mortar Battery of 1st/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Born 1894 to Enamel Works foreman Edward and Elizabeth Phillips, and living at Plod Cottage, he was a creeler at Thomas Worth’s. His attestation to serve was into the Territorial Force for one year’s embodied service at home, but on the same day in September 1914 he signed Army Form E624 whereby he agreed to serve ‘in any place outside the UK in the event of a National Emergency’. He was demobbed in March 1919 from Chiselden Dispersal Centre, being in good health. He had served in Italy. He died in 1976 in Evesham.

Octavious J.C. Plymtree Pratt. Sapper (389678) Royal Engineers. Son of Richard, a master bootmaker, and his wife Eliza, he was born in 1880 and was one of eight children. He lived at Fairview, Areley Common. In 1908 he married Eleanor Wickenden in Woolwich and was working as a hot and cold water fitter and implement agent. No military records; he died in 1952, aged 74.

George Proctor. Private 81st Agricultural Labour Corps. Born in Cawood in Yorkshire in 1879, he became a resident of Areley King and lived at Waste Cottage, Jennings Wood, Dunley, working as a jobbing gardener. No military service details.

John ‘Jack’ Rogers. Gunner (135065) of 232nd Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, the tenth of the Areley Kings servicemen who died in the war. He was one of five children of John and Harriet Rogers (formerly Ashmore). At the time of his birth his father was probably a gardener in Shrawley, but later moved to Hillhampton where he worked as a shepherd. Jack too began work as a gardener, also at Hillhampton, but later moved to work in the gardens of Hadzor Hall near Droitwich. By that time the family had moved to Burnthorne Cottage, Dunley. Jack twice tried to enlist but for some reason was rejected; however, he persevered and he finally succeeded in January 1917, joining the RGA in Birmingham. He was posted to Lonehort Fort on Bere island, County Cork, and was passed fit for general service which, he claimed in a letter home, was the result of the sea air. This may suggest that on his enlistment he was only fit enough for home duties, and also indicates a lowering of the physical standards occasioned by the relentless need for men. He was posted to France and was transferred to the 232nd Siege Battery, where he saw action in the Third Battle of Ypres. No doubt their massive 6-, 9.2-,11 and 12-inch howitzers contributed to the toll of 217,000 enemy deaths, but he was fatally wounded and became one of the 270,000 Allied casualties of the slaughter that was Passchendaele. He survived long enough to reach a casualty clearing station but died of his wounds aged 26 on 7 August 1917, and is buried in the Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, near Ypres, which was specially opened to cater for the dead of July and August.

 

John Rogers in peacetime and as a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery

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Claude Shaddock. Trooper (2750) of Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars. Born at Weston-under-Weatherely in 1881, he was the eldest son of Edwin Shaddock – a Prudential insurance agent and former Deputy Superintendent of the Warwickshire Reformatory – and his wife Alice (née Mathews). The family moved to Areley Kings and by 1901 were living in Bowpatch. They had seven children but three died before 1911. By that time, Claude had worked locally as a coachman but just prior to the war he married Annie Louise (née Beasley) and began working as a chauffeur to Captain J.H. Beilby of Perry Hall and had a home in New Road, Bromsgrove. They had two children, Arthur and Elsie. When the captain rejoined the Worcestershire Yeomanry as a medical officer, Claude followed him and enlisted at Worcester in October 1914. They were amongst the first of the Yeomanry reinforcements to arrive in Egypt in November 1915. He was killed in action aged 35 on Sunday, 23 April 1916, at the time of the Battle of Qatia Oasis in Egypt. He and his company were ambushed whilst digging a well. Whilst his name is listed on the Jerusalem Memorial near the Mount of Olives, there is some possibility that his body may have been relocated to the Kantara War Cemetery and it lies in one of the graves of those ‘Known unto God’, a phrase used to mark the graves of the unidentified fallen. He is, however, remembered on the Areley Kings school and church memorials, the Yeomanry Memorial in Worcester Cathedral and the memorial in the Bromsgrove parish church. He was the third man from the village to die in the war.

 

Private Claude Shaddock

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Edward Shaddock. Bombardier Canadian Field Artillery. Younger brother of Claude, he too was born at Weston (in 1881). His first job was as a gardener for the Baldwin family at Astley Hall but he emigrated to Canada in 1910, sailing from Liverpool on the Southwark of the Dominion Line. In Saskatchewan he worked in farming, but his plans to buy a farm were interrupted by the war and he returned to England in 1916 as a soldier in the Canadian army. He fought in the trenches in Belgium and France and also manned horse-drawn gun carriages. In 1918 his leg was crushed, probably by a gun carriage, and he was hospitalised in Folkstone followed by therapy in Droitwich brine baths. He continued this treatment after discharge to help severe rheumatism. He worked at Fathers & Sons as a painter, also at Neville Butlers the undertakers and at the Redstone Oil Terminal. He married Alice May Fathers in 1918 and they had three children. He died aged 80, in 1962, and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

 

Casualties waiting to be taken to a casualty clearing station during the Third Battle of Ypres

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James Shaddock. Lieutenant 2nd Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment. The third Shaddock brother to serve, he was also born in Weston-under-Weatherley, in 1888. He was obviously intelligent, and gaining a science degree he taught at a grammar school in Fareham, Hants. His service included a spell as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery Territorial Force (V805149), the Royal Horse Artillery, before he was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment in 1916. He entered the next theatre of war on 10 October 1916 in Mesopotamia, and was wounded in the action for the relief of Kut at the Shumran Bend on the River Tigris. Here the Hampshire Regiment was charged with conveying the 2/9th and 1/2nd Gurkhas over the river (it was assumed that as Hampshire was a coastal county, the men would have experience of boats!). The Turkish opposition was fierce and although the operation was successful, there were numerous casualties. James was eligible for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He survived the war, married and had two children. He died aged 70 in Fareham, in 1958.

Reginald Lester Speake. Rifleman (A2) of 8th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Son of Police officer Charles Speake and Mary Speake (née Husselbee), who moved to Beach Road from Fernhill Heath, where he was born in 1898. Prior to his enlistment on 11 August 1914 at Winchester, he had left home at 15 to become a domestic servant working for Sir Owen Scourfield near Neyland in Pembrokeshire. He was an early volunteer for Kitchener’s Army and was posted to France in May 1915. He was killed in action aged 20 at Delville Wood on 24 August 1916 during the Somme offensive, in one of the most savage battles of the campaign. He was one of the many unidentified British and South African soldiers who perished at that time, so he may lie in the Delville Wood Cemetery or his remains may still be undiscovered. His death – the sixth man of Areley Kings to die in the war – is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

 

Private Reginald Speake returning to war after Christmas leave 1915

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The Thiepval Memorial for the British fallen of the Somme campaign

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Victor Royal Speake. Guardsman (23386) Grenadier Guards. Born in May 1897, he was the brother of Reginald Lester and was also born in Fernhill Heath. Prior to his enlistment he had been a printer’s apprentice. He saw action and in 1918 was wounded and sent back to England for hospital treatment. He returned to duty and was demobilised in 1920. He married Florence Ada Oaks, a tailoress, in 1921 and died in 1970, aged 73.
NB: the surname Speake is sometimes spelled ‘Speke’ or ‘Speak’ in various records.

George Taylor. Worcestershire Regiment. Son of housepainter Jesse and Mary Taylor of Bowpatch, he was born in Langley, Worcestershire, in 1880 and also become a housepainter. He married Sarah Helen Bowen in 1910 in St.Bartholomew’s church and they had two daughters. He died in October 1936 and is buried in the village churchyard.

Thomas Charles Vaughan. Private Army Veterinary Corps. Born in Trelleck in Monmouthshire in 1886 to plasterer George and Sarah Vaughan. At 25 he was a boarder with Thomas Lowick Charles Bevan, who was living at that time in Beach Road and worked as a domestic coachman. No military records. He died in September 1970 aged 87, and is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard.

Daniel Llewelyn Vawdrey. Captain 2nd Battalion Worcester Regiment. Born at the rectory in Areley Kings on 16 December 1891, he was the fifth child of Canon Daniel Vawdrey. On graduating in 1914, he enlisted and immediately after training he was sent to France where he was involved in heavy fighting on the front line. Extracts from Daniel’s letters from France were published in the parish magazine, describing life in the trenches to the people of Areley Kings. This was stopped as the conflict became ever more bloody, as it was felt the letters would upset families with relations at the front. After leading his men in action at Arras and the Somme, he eventually succumbed to laryngitis and convalesced in France, the Isle of Wight and Edinburgh. Unfit for further active service, he became Cadet Instructor at Oxford University. Following the Armistice, Daniel retained his rank of captain and returned to civilian life. After two years as a student he became a master at Fettes College in Edinburgh. He was an inspired teacher and in 1928 he became Housemaster of Kimmerghane House. Having relinquished his commission in 1920, he later obtained a new commission in the Territorial Army and took charge of the college cadet force. He resigned this position in 1935. Daniel retired from Fettes in 1962, but moving to Worcester taught at King’s School, finally retiring in 1974. He died on 11 July 1979 in his 88th year, and although having had a long life, ongoing illness as a young man and his subsequent adoption of the sheltered life of an academic were no doubt initiated by what he had experienced in his military service.

Ralph Hastings Vawdrey. Lieutenant 4th Battalion Royal Hampshire Regiment. Younger brother of Daniel, he decided not to take up his place at university and enlisted straight from public school, where he had been a corporal in the Officer Cadet Training Corps. He began his service in 1915 as a private in ‘C’ Company of the 3/28th Battalion of the London Regiment (the Artists Rifles). He was then commissioned into the territorial force of the 4th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment. He volunteered for overseas service and in 1916 sailed to Bombay en route to Basra for service in the Mesopotamia campaign, arriving in May, where he was stationed at the Twin Canals Camp. He was Assistant Provost Marshall of the 14th Division of the Regiment in Persia but unfortunately contracted paratyphoid, which entailed him being hospitalised in Bombay. He had various supervisory duties in India and Persia and was finally ordered back to England in January 1919. His long journey home was by mule, camel, motor car, rail and ship, during which time his health suffered with jaundice and scabies. He arrived in Areley Kings on 24 March after a journey of over two months to a tumultuous welcome. After the war he returned to the East and was employed in the oil and teak businesses in Bangkok. Ill health forced his return to England, where he became head of the school farm at Rugby. He died in December 1929. Like his brother, his civilian life was dramatically affected by the war and its influence on his health.

 

The Vawdrey family at Areley Kings rectory. Daniel on the left and Ralph in the centre in uniform

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David Ward. Gunner Royal Field Artillery. Son of agricultural worker William Ward of Gaggs Cottage, Dunley. He was born in 1885 and at 16 was working as a servant and Billiard Marker at the Tontine Hotel in Stourport. At 18 he joined the military, and served in total for eight years with the regular army and three and a half years with the reserves. On completion of his voluntary service he re-enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Artillery (28384) and trained as a bombardier. He saw action at the Battle of the Somme and in 1916 he was promoted to acting sergeant. He was discharged in December 1918. His military records contain a letter, written after the war as a civilian, in connection with applying for money due to him, in which he states that he had been unable to obtain a signature of a superior officer on certain paperwork as they had all been killed, wounded or taken prisoner. At some time prior to his military service he had worked as a coal miner near Harbourne, lodging with his brother Daniel, a labourer in a clay quarry.

James Henry Ward. Private Labour Corps of 7th Somerset Regiment. Born in 1897 to farm labourer John Ward and his wife Harriet, he was one of nine children living at Noah’s Ark, Dunley. At the age of 16 he too was a farm labourer. He is listed as being in the Labour Corps in 1918 (the Labour Corps was created in 1915 to carry out the hundreds of logistical tasks associated with an army at war. Many men who were transferred to the Corps had often been wounded or were ill and unfit for front-line duty. The Corps at one time numbered over 400,000 men, and over 9,000 of them were killed). James Henry married Hilda North in 1925 and died in September 1969.

Thomas Ward. Staff Sergeant Farrier 99th Battery Royal Field Artillery. Brother of James Henry and also a farm labourer. Prior to military service he worked for Leonard Dorrell at Bank Farm. He survived the war and at the age of 32, in 1919, married Ethel Norwood of Areley Kings at St.Bartholomew’s church. They had two children.

Albert Watkins. Sapper (263184) Royal Engineers. Born in Docklow in Herefordshire in 1898, he was one of six children of William Frederick and Amelia Watkins; before the war the family were living at the Cider House, Astley. Albert worked as a booking clerk at Kidderminster Railway Station and on his attestation in December 1915 listed Areley House as his address, where he presumably lived with relatives in Areley House Cottage. He joined the Royal Engineers in January 1917 and was posted to France the following month, returning to be demobilised in October 1919. His discharge papers show he was suffering from dyspepsia, which he claimed was due to the poor food whilst in the army. Like many other returning soldiers, he was designated a Category ‘Z’ Reserve. This was a precaution undertaken by the military to enable the recall of trained men in the event of any sudden emergency.

William Oliver White. Private (303484) of 1st/5th Battalion Manchester Regiment and the Suffolk Regiment. He was the son of James White and Sarah White of Areley Kings. James had progressively improved his station as a domestic servant (at one time working for Charles Harrison MP of Areley Court), eventually becoming a butler in Leicestershire. William Oliver was born in Areley Kings in 1887, and at 9 years of age obtained a place at the private old Swinford boarding school, which accepted a number of children from poor families if it was thought they were worthy of further education. He left school in 1901 and went to work for Mr T. Southerton in Stourport as a plumber and painter. Later he followed his father into domestic service, working on the Bentley Estate near Redditch. He married Edith Nella White (née Oliver) of Upper Bentley, Redditch, on 13 January 1917, and on his wedding certificate he is described as being a Private in the Suffolk Regiment. They lived at the Nursery, Upper Bentley. Having been transferred to the Manchester Regiment, he became the fourteenth war casualty from Areley Kings when he died on 3 September 1918 at the 19th Casualty Clearing Station of wounds sustained in an attack on Villiersau-Flos at the end of the Bapaume offensive in the Second Battle of the Somme. This was part of the Hundred Days Campaign, the last major action of the war on Western Front. He is buried in the Bagneux British Cemetery at Gezaincourt.

 

Troops of the Manchester Regiment resting at the side of a disabled tank during the ‘100 Days Campaign’, in which William oliver White died. image courtesy of the imperial War Museum

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Arthur Wilcox. Gunner Royal Garrison Artillery. Born in September 1891, he was one of eight children of Arthur, a carpet weaver, and his wife Emma Wilcox of Beech Road. Most of the children became carpet workers but Arthur was a hairdresser prior to his military service. He died in September 1972.

Bernard Henry Wilcox. Private 44th Labour Corps. Born in 1895, he was the son of carpet warehouseman Henry and Hannah (née Rogers). He and his three sisters were born in Stourport but moved to Bowpatch before the turn of the century. There are no service records for him, but he survived the war and died in 1941.

William Wilcox. No military records. Born in 1887, he was the son of William and Harriet Wilcox, living on Workhouse Lane on Areley Common. His father was a gardener and his first job was also as a gardener, but he later entered domestic service and, immediately prior to the war, was a footman at Blithfield Hall in Rugby working for the Hon. William Blithfield, a peer and landowner.

Samuel Williams. Private Worcestershire Regiment. Born in 1894, he was one of eight children of Edward and Ann Williams (née Hollis) of Lane End Cottages and later Stagborough Cottage, Ribbesford. Before enlistment he worked at Thomas Vale & Sons, Builders & Contractors of Stourport. He suffered a broken arm during the fighting in 1917 and his mother was informed of this in a letter from the regimental chaplain, who also advised that he ‘had done good work with the machine gun before being wounded.’ Samuel also wrote to his mother saying he was in a nice hospital and that it was ‘very different to being at the front with all the winter to go through.’ He survived the war and died in the 1950s.

Sidney Williams. Private (18817) 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Brother of Samuel, he was born in 1896, and was an ironworker at the Stourport foundry. On 13 July 1918 he married Gladys Harriet King at St.Bartholomew’s. They had a son, Sydney Robert Howard Williams, christened at the church on 19 September 1919. The directors of the foundry included members of the Baldwin family, who were generous employers. They agreed to keep open the jobs of any worker who went to fight against their return and made a donation of 10s per week to their wives, with a further payment for young children. Probably Gladys would have been eligible for this.

Donald Pynson Willmott. Canadian Military. Eldest son of weaver Edward Harry Willmott and Gertrude (née Broom) he was born in Bell Row, Lion Hill, Lower Mitton, in 1892, one of eleven children. The family moved to Collingwood House, Bowpatch, Areley Kings, sometime before 1911. He worked as a mechanic at a Stourport carpet factory before going to live and work in Canada. His military service with the Canadian army is not known. He returned to England after the war but then emigrated to the United States, and subsequently applied for naturalisation on 10 February 1927. In America he worked in the Chicago stockyards, and died on 16 December 1960. He is buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Cook County, Illinois.

Reginald Harry Willmott. Ordinary Seaman Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (BZ/3871). Brother of Donald, he was born on 28 April 1898. His war service was marked with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He too emigrated to the USA, arriving in 1919, sailing on the White Star Line, and his documents describe him as a turner. He applied for naturalisation on 3 February that year. He married, and worked with his brother as a stockyard foreman and lived with him at 5326 Van Buren Street, Chicago. He died in December 1935 and is also buried in the Hillside Cemetery.

Edwin John Broom Willmott. Private Army Service Corps, Gloucestershire Regiment. Born in Areley Kings in January 1896, he was working as a baker before enlistment. He was the third Willmott brother to serve in the forces. His military service is not known but he survived the war and he died in Totnes, Devon in December 1957, aged 61.

Several other men listed as having some association with Areley Kings served in the forces, but no detailed military information is available:
Edward Burrows was a private in the 1/1 Gloucestershire Regiment and later the Worcesters; John Thomas Perry was a Private (Number 446) in the Agricultural Labour Corps; William Hardwick was in 387 Siege battalion; William Millichip was in the Army Veterinary Corps, having worked as a groom in Astley; William Henry Taylor was an Acting Lance Sergeant in the Essex Regiment and the 821st Labour Corps; Alexander Sibley was in the 627th Agricultural Labour Corps. Ernest Goer and Percy Stagg also served, although there is no detail of their wartime activity. They were both church organists at St.Bartholomew’s.
One other soldier should receive recognition for his service, although not an Areley Kings native: Henry Robert Comer, Private (6762 and 431206) of the 424th Agricultural Labour Corps. Born in Northrepps near Cromer in 1883, he joined the Norfolk Regiment in 1916 and was later transferred to the Labour Corps – maybe he was unfit for active service. He was working on a local farm in Areley Kings when he died in August 1918, aged 35. He is buried in St.Bartholomew’s churchyard in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave with a standard war casualty tombstone overlooking the Severn Valley and Stagborough Hill. So different from his native Norfolk, where he is remembered on the parish memorial.

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