Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A L Quintrell

Alfred Leslie Quintrell
Born 5 July 1893 in Kensington, London   Died 31 May 1916 at Jutland
Wireman 2nd Class M/13988 Royal Navy

Alfred was the eldest son of Alfred Skinner Quintrell and Annie Beswetherick.  Both Alfred and Annie were born near Newquay; the Quintrells were farm labourers living between St Mawgan and St Columb Major, whilst the Beswethericks were blacksmiths in St Mawgan.  For some reason Alfred and Annie were married in Dartford, Kent and they spent the early years of their marriage in London, Alfred working as a wheelwright.  The couple had another son, Frederick Skinner Quintrell, born on Christmas Day, 1895 and a daughter, Edith Dorothy born on 4 March 1901.

I do not know when the Quintrells moved back to Cornwall.  However, at some point they moved into Newquay and took up residence in St Cuthbert's Road.  Alfred joined the Navy and was aboard HMS Black Prince when she set sail on 31 May 1916 to meet the German Grand Fleet off the coast of Denmark.

Black Prince was part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron.  At 5.45pm the squadron was ordered to take up approach stations.  Somehow the ship became detached from the rest of the squadron when the Grand Fleet were deploying.  As night fell Black Prince continued to try to find the rest of her fleet.  Perhaps mistaking them for the British Fleet, she approached a flotilla of ships.  It was a deadly mistake - she headed straight for a squadron of German ships.  From distance of only 500 yards the engagement was swift.  Nassau, Thuringen, Ostfriesland and Friederick Der Grosse all fired on the Black Prince which was unable to mount a challenge.  She was quickly overtaken by fire and sank with an huge explosion in less than five minutes according to German eyewitnesses.  857 men were lost.

HMS Black Prince 

Alfred's grave is in Newquay, along with his parents.  His "Dead Man's Penny" is set into the gravestone.  His brother Frederick died in 1980, whilst Edith married and lived until 1976.   I left some flowers at Alfred's grave today to mark the 95th anniversary of his death.

The Battle of Jutland

The only major sea battle of World War 1 took place on 31st May - 1st June 1916 in the North Sea, off Denmark.  It remains one of the largest naval battles in history due to the size of the opposing fleets.  Around 100,000 men were involved, two of whom were from Newquay - Alfred Quintrell aboard Black Prince and Gerald Collins on Tipperary.

I shall be posting about each of the Newquay men later today and outlining the part their ships had in the battle - I don't have the knowledge or the time to write about the entire engagement.  If you are interested in the battle, and haven't already done so, you might like to click here  to go to the Battle of Jutland website.  This site has information about the commanders, the ships, maps and animated battle scenes.  For a more dry approach, the official British version of events can be found here .  (Click on the "See other formats" button on the left of the screen and choose "Read Online" to make it easier to read).

Monday, 30 May 2011

Plan of Action for this week

As tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland I shall be posting about two men who lost their lives in the only major sea battle of WW1 - Alfred Quintrell and Gerald Collins.  As it is half term I have some extra time so I shall try to post about Gerald's brother, Percival, too.

I am also trying to persuade my daughter that the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum would make a splendid day out - I get the feeling I may well be visiting on my own while she goes to her grandmother for the day.  Another outing will be to the Newquay Old Cornwall Society's archives - another solo pursuit, I expect.  If I get time I hope to be able to photograph a couple of local war memorials for the 4thefallen blog - I know I should because I was dreaming about it last night - now that is sad!

Have a great week!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

T R Kernick

Thomas Reginald Kernick
Born 1891 in Newquay  Killed in Action 8 March 1916 near Basra
Pte 2372 5th (Prince of Wales') Battalion (Territorials)

Thomas was the son of Frederick Kernick and Constance Hocking.  Frederick was originally a seaman, being master of his own vessel by the age of 22.  By his forties he and his family lived in Berry Road, Newquay and he gave his occupation as "Ship Owner".  By 1911 he was a "Collector of Taxes".  Frederick and Constance had four sons, Frederick (known as John), Richard (known as Arthur), Thomas (known as Reginald) and Alfred.  There were also two daughters, Grace and Mary, although Mary may have died at a young age.  

None of the Kernick boys followed their father to sea.  Three of them, John, Reginald and Alfred, became bank clerks.  John worked at Lloyds Bank in Truro and Alfred was working in Dorset.  It is possible that Reginald was working in Devon - he was not recorded at home in 1911 and he joined the Devonshire Regiment, based in Exeter.

According to the records, Reginald's battalion wasn't posted to Mesopotamia, which is where he died.  The second line 5th Battalion did land in Egypt in September 1915, and disbanded there in July 1916.  However, 1/4 and 1/6 Battalions were certainly in Mesopotamia, so perhaps Reginald was attached to one of these.  

The war in Mesopotamia was ostensibly about securing oil supplies for the Royal Navy and British operations in the region were originally small scale.  However, emboldened by early success the British pushed forward toward Basra and then Baghdad, but soon became overstretched as they needed to protect increasingly long lines of communication.  By the end of 1915 the British had been forced to retreat to Kut-al-Amara where they were besieged until surrendering in April 1916.

Between January and April 1916 there were a series of attempts to relieve the siege of Kut.  The Battle of Dujaila Redoubt was fought from 7-9 March 1916, and it is possible that this is where Reginald fell on 8 March.  I have found two other members of 6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment who fell that day; Captain Dunn-Pattison and Pte Thomas Knight.  Like Reginald they are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Incidentally, a VC was awarded that day to Pte George Stringer of the Manchester Regiment who single-handedly kept the enemy at bay until his Battalion were able to withdraw in good order. 

Reginald's brothers John and Alfred joined up in 1915, John being attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery whilst Alfred served with the Royal Field Artillery.  Both were posted to Salonika and survived the war.  I cannot find any record of Richard Arthur Kernick's war record, though he lived on until 1974.  Alfred died in 1978.

The Kernick's old home on Berry Road is no longer there; it was redeveloped and is now operated by a Housing Association 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

W F Currah

William Francis Currah
Born at 10 April 1888 Yardley, Worcestershire  Killed in Action 11 April 1916 near Ypres
Cpl 10516 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
Enlisted at Bodmin

William was the son of John Currah and Sarah King.  In 1881 John and Sarah were living near Yardley where John worked as a farm bailiff.

(Update:  the couple lived on the "Bickenhill Road to Gilbertstone".  It may be coincidence, but Gilbertstone House was at that time owned by Cornishman Richard Tangye (later Sir Richard).  Tangye was the son of a farmer from Illogan, but later became the owner of an engineering company and a philanthropist - he also introduced the Saturday half-day holiday, soon adopted by all engineering works.)

The couple had one child at the time, Emily.  John gave his birthplace as St Austell, whilst Sarah was born in Stratford on Avon.  It seems likely that Sarah's age was given inaccurately - she claimed to be 30 years old, against her husband's 43 years.  From later Census returns it seems that 10 years was added to her age.  

By 1891 John would appear to have died (although I cannot find a record) and Sarah had remarried Alfred Causer, a house painter.  He had not only taken Sarah on, but her children - Emily, Maud, Alice and 2 year old William. For some reason her eldest son, 9 year old John Henry Currah, is recorded at the Temperance Orphanage in Sunbury, Middlesex.  Ten years later, William was working for his step-father as a brush boy.  He also had three half-brothers, Clarence, Bromley and Roy.  William stayed with his family in Yardley certainly until 1911, when he is recorded on the Census.  

Why William came to Newquay is a mystery; there were certainly Currahs in Newquay (and still are).  It may be that he came to work with a cousin.  Although John Currah gave his birthplace as St Austell, there was a Thomas Currah living in Newquay, a couple of years younger than John, who was born in St Eval - perhaps his brother.   It may be that "St Eval" was mistaken for "St Austell" by the Census Enumerator.

What is certain is that William joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1915.  He was a part of the 7th Battalion, later joined by the celebrated Harry Patch.  William's Battalion were under the command of 61st Brigade, part of 20th (Light) Division.  This Division were bedevilled in their early training by a lack of officers, NCOs, and equipment.  However, by the summer of 1915 they were fully equipped and landed at Bolougne in July.  By the spring of 1916 the Battalion were in the Ypres Salient, and it was here, probably during the Action of the St Eloi Craters, that William was killed.  

St Eloi was to the south of Ypres and had been heavily mined by both sides since 1915.  The Germans had a slightly advantageous position, holding the higher ground from which they could observe British positions.  In late March 1916 it was decided to launch an offensive against the Germans.  I have not been able to find an account of the DCLI's part in the action, but I know that William was not the only one of his battalion to be killed that day - Pte John Lawrence of Tintagel was killed and like William he too is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. (A list of Tintagel men killed in WW1 can be found here.)

William's mother, Sarah, had an anxious war.  Her eldest son, John Currah, had joined the army in 1903.  His career in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers had not been overly glorious - he had been on charges for being drunk, returning to barracks late without his uniform and had been treated for venereal disease.  However, on the outbreak of war he returned to his regiment, only to be wounded and taken prisoner in late 1914.  He spent time in Switzerland, being repatriated in September 1917.  He was suffering from paralysis and died at his mother's home, aged 37, on 6 November 1917 following a haemorrhage.  Two of Sarah's younger sons, Clarence and Bromley, also served in the war, and one of them (possibly Clarence) was also taken prisoner.  

I haven't been able to find a photograph of William, but have found a post on the Great War Forum mentioning John and including his photograph.  Many thanks to Kevan Darby.  You can find the original thread here.

Posted 09 January 2010 - 04:03 PM
Another from a Birmingham newspaper

The interment with Military Honours has taken place at Yardley Cemetery of Pte John Henry Currall, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, a repatriated prisoner of war. Pte Currah who was an old soldier, was wounded and captured at the begining of the war, and was afterwards sent to Switzerland, and came back to England later.
He was thirty six years of age and the stepson of Mr Causser of 36 Church Road, South Yardley. A brother is a Prisoner of war in Germany, another Cprl W F Currah was killed at Ypres in April 1916.

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Update 16 July 2011

I have found some further information from the Cornish Guardian dated 25 May 1915

Cpl  W F Currah joined up at Newquay (conflicting information!) in August 1914, one of the first men to do so.  He had worked for three years as a painter (which ties in with his step-father's job) for Mr W Trebilcock.  He was killed the day after he celebrated his 28th birthday.  There is a photograph of William, I hope to be able to take a copy when I visit the Cornish Studies Library.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Plan of Action for this week

Odd start to the week, hence a day late with my POA.  Yesterday evening we were evacuated from our house (as was everyone within a 200m radius) as a nearby garage was on fire and there were gas cylinders on the property.  Normally this would have been a pain, but as we had to get up at 4.30am to get my 11 year old to a coach for a school trip to London, it became a positive pain.  Luckily, we were able to decamp to mother-in-laws for the night (the alternative was the sports centre) and once the dog had calmed down went to sleep around midnight.  I am now slightly sideways!

Anyway, enough of my woes.  This week I am hoping to post about W F Currah and T R Kernick.

On Thursday I have been invited along to a meeting about Trenance Cottages in Newquay.  The Cottages are in the Trenance Leisure Gardens and were inhabited until the 1960s, after which they were used as a museum.  Over the last few years they have fallen into disrepair and a committee was formed to apply for a Lottery grant to redevelop them.  The grant has come through and now work is beginning on how to interpret the grant conditions and implement them.  I am looking forward to seeing how we can preserve this very attractive part of Newquay's heritage.

Have a good week.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A Staffieri

Augustine Staffieri
Born c 1878 in Italy  Killed in Action 13 September 1918
Pte 54636 2/4th Battallion Hampshire Regiment
Enlisted in Truro

Augustine Staffieri should have a unique place in Newquay's history.  Newquay is the capital of British surfing and it could be argued that Augustine was the father of the sport in Britain.  Sadly, he was never to know the part he played in the history of his adopted town's most popular industry.

Augustine and his wife Teresa moved to Newquay around the turn of the century and set up an ice cream business.  Augustine's father was called Joseph and it is possible that he is the Joseph Staffieri who moved to St Austell and set up another ice cream business there.  Joseph's daughter and son-in-law took over the business and changed the name to Kelly's Ice Cream - the company are today one of Cornwall's most recognisable brands.

I can't find Augustine's service record, so do not know on what date he joined up in Truro.  He was posted to the 2/4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, which was originally a home service unit.  However, the Battalion, together with 2/4th Duke of Cornwell's Light Infantry, part of 2nd Wessex Division, shipped out to India at the end of 1914, remaining there until 1917 when they landed in Egypt.  In May of the following year the Battalion were sent to France and were attached to 186th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division on 2nd June 1918.

Augustine may well have seen action in the Battle of Tardenois in July, and phases of the Second Battle of the Marne 1918 in August and early September.  On 12 September the Battle of Havrincourt, a phase of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, began.  The 62nd Division had fought at Havrincourt the previous year during the Battle of Cambrai and for their part in that action they were to join the 2nd Division and the New Zealand Division in attacking the village which was now held by four German divisions.  

The Battle of Havrincourt was a considered a minor offensive, but it was successful despite the German's having superior numbers.  Some commentators consider that this small victory illustrated the marked decline in  German moral; together with an American victory at St Mihiel it also convinced Sir Douglas Haig to bring forward operations against the Germans on the Hindenburg Line.  

Whatever the significance for the war effort, the Battle of Havincourt was of course horribly significant for the Staffieri family.  Back in Newquay Teresa had given birth to a son, Papino, the previous month. Presumably father and son never met but hopefully Augustine knew of his son's birth before he died.  Augustine is buried at the Hermies Hill British Cemetery.

Pip Staffieri continued the family ice cream business, selling ice creams around Newquay from a van.  He is also known for being the first recorded person in Britain to surf.  He made his own board, a 13 foot hollow wooden monster, too heavy to carry when wet.  Nowadays, Newquay is thronged with surfers, but back in the late 1930s the pint-sized Pip and his giant board must have been a novel sight.  Pip died in his 80s in 2005.  

Pip Staffieri and his board - Newquay, late 1930s?  
Photograph from the Roger Mansfield Collection

Friday, 20 May 2011

H A B Dealtry

Herbert Arthur Berkeley Dealtry
Born 11 April 1878 in Clevedon, Somerset  Killed in Action 26 September 1915 at Loos
Captain 9th Battalion East Surrey Regiment

Herbert Dealtry, known as Berkeley, was the son of Everard Dealtry and Guilia Williams Wynne.  Although he was born in Clevedon, Berkeley was christened at All Saints, Notting Hill on 20 July 1878.  Everard described himself as a gentleman on the parish register - I am not too sure!  I haven't time to research him properly and, after all, he is not the subject of this post, but I believe that he was certainly married several times, possibly committing bigamy.  What is certain is that he and Guilia had four sons, Everard Archer, Herbert (Berkeley), Adrian Rose and Cosmo.

(Update - just found out that Guilia and Everard divorced in 1885, so Everard's later marriage in 1886 was legal - he then divorced again in 1902 and remarried a final time.  Guilia also remarried in 1886 - her new husband, Manfred Brotherton was also divorced. I notice that Cosmo Dealtry was born in 1886 and his second name was Manfred, like Guilia's new husband.  Guilia died in 1902, Manfred remarried a third time, but died at his home in France in 1904.)

Berkeley attended school in Bristol for a time and later joined the Worcestershire Regiment.  On the 1901 Census he was recorded as a Lieutenant at the Ramillies Barracks near Farnborough.  It was around this time that Berkeley met a young married woman, Kathleen Klein (nee Cornwell).  Kathleen was an Australian heiress whose father, a former railway guard, had made a vast fortune as a gold prospector. Alice Cornwell,  her eldest sister, inherited the gold mine and was able to buy the Sunday Times newspaper.

Kathleen, who was born in 1872, had married Herman Klein a noted musical critic, author and singing teacher, when she was 17; Klein was nearly twice Kathleen's age and divorced from his first wife.  The couple had three children together.  Klein divorced Kathleen on discovering her affair with Berkeley and she and Berkeley married in 1902.  Unfortunately, the Dealtrys soon got into financial difficulties, due to their involvement with the organisation of dog shows and missing prize money(!)  This episode ended with Berkeley being declared bankrupt and the couple decamping to the United States for a while.  Their financial woes may have been the impetus for Kathleen to start writing; she became a prolific author of romantic novels, under a number of pen names, including Kit Dealtry.

The Dealtrys returned from the United States and set up home in Newquay.  The 1911 Census records them at Narrowcliff, in a house which would have looked out over Newquay Bay.  Most of the houses on this stretch of road were converted to hotels, and a number have recently been demolished.

Berkeley returned to the Army fairly promptly after the outbreak of war.  He is listed in the London Gazette on 22 September 1914 having been granted the temporary rank of Captain. He was sent to the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. The 9th Battalion was part of Kitchener's K3 Group, and attached to the 73rd Brigade of 24th Division.  After training in Aldershot the Battalion landed at Boulogne at the beginning of September 1915.

The Battalion were ordered to move on the evening of  21 September 1915 in readiness for the major offensive at Loos. They moved out to Dennebroucq, marching 15 miles.  From here they made for Isburges, arriving on 23rd, having travelled 19 miles.  They then marched to Burgette, through Vermelles and toward Annay and Pont a Vedin.  They halted due to a lack of orders.  However, by the following day, 26 September, orders were received to attack the enemy's position at 11 am.  Considering the lengthy marches they had endured on the preceding days, they must have been exhausted.

Together with the 8th Royal West Kent Brigade, the 9th East Surreys, formed the firing line for 72nd Brigade.   Support was provided by the 8th Buffs and 8th Queens.  The attack carried through to the enemy trenches but the wire could not be breached and the men were caught in heavy machine gun cross fire.  The order was given to retire which, according to the Battalion war diary, was carried out in good order.  The 24th Division remained in the trenches under heavy shelling until relieved by the Guards Division. The loss to the Battalion was heavy:  14 officers, including Berkeley Dealtry, and 438 other ranks.

Berkeley is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.  His brother Adrian served with the Suffolk Regiment and survived the war, dying in 1959.  Cosmo Dealtry lived until 1965.  Kathleen Clarice Cornwell Dealtry remarried, continued writing and died in Hove in 1954.

Monday, 16 May 2011

This week's plan of action

After a dull weekend with a poorly daughter  I am looking forward to a more exciting week!

I am planning to post about the faintly scandalous H A B Dealtry and, having finally tracked him down, A Staffieri.

I also want to revisit the cemetery.  I found myself there early yesterday morning while walking the dog and found several of the graves of men listed on the war memorial.  In addition, I noticed that it was the anniversary of the attack on the SS War Grange (I posted about it yesterday) - the five crew members who were killed are buried in the cemetery.  I managed to take photos of a couple of gravestones on my 'phone, but the dog really didn't like being there - she started barking (very unusual) and headed for the exit.  So, I shall be going back, photographing and also tidying up the graves a bit - they aren't a mess, just neglected.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

15 May 1918 - Torpedoing of SS War Grange

On this day in 1918 the SS War Grange was torpedoed by an enemy U-Boat in the Bristol Channel some 7 miles off Newquay's Towan Head.  The town's lifeboat was launched to help the stricken vessel, but five of the steamer's crew were lost.  They are commemorated on a plaque in St Michael's Church and are buried in the town cemetery.

The SS War Grange was a new 3,100 tonne steamer, built the previous year.  She worked the Bordeaux to Cardiff route.  On 15 May she was attacked when approximately 7 miles north of Towan Head by U 55 under the command of Wilhelm Werner.  The Newquay lifeboat was launched to aid the stricken steamer; this was the first launch for a new boat, the John Stevens 5 having been lost the previous year.

The steamer was brought up onto Towan Beach where it remained until salvaged.  The photograph shows the ship lying just outside Newquay Harbour at Towan Beach.

Although the men are not commemorated on the war memorial, there is a plaque in St Michael's Church, which reads:

In Memory of
Frank Henry Selby 1st Engineer
Walter Klotz 2nd Engineer
John Appleby 3rd Engineer
James Cunningham Mann Cabin Boy
Abdul Mahjed Donkeyman
Of SS War Grange
15th May 1918
Who Passed On In The Service Of This Country

Frank Selby (born c 1873) of Westcliff, Essex left over £3,000 to his brother, Thomas Selby.  Walter Klotz (born c 1876) was from Durham and left a widow, Mary Park Klotz.  John Appleby was 21 years old when he died whilst James Mann was only 17.  According to the death index Abdul was born around 1880.  

Abdul Mahjed's Grave Marker in Newquay Cemetery

I have not been able to access much information about the SS War Grange this week - I know that Newquay Old Cornwall Society have information in their archives, but can't visit until half term.  I would like to acknowledge the Newquay RNLI website where I found the photograph (visit them here for more photographs of Newquay's past lifeboats) and UBoat Net for the information on U 55.  

I had also hoped to visit the cemetery this afternoon and lay some flowers, but my daughter is ill today, so it may have to wait.  

This post will be updated when I find more information - I just thought it fitting to post something on the anniversary of the crew's loss.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

D H O'Flaherty

Douglas Hill O'Flaherty
Born 9 May 1880, Belfast    Killed in Action 1 July 1916 at Thiepval
Captain, 15 Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

Douglas was the eldest child of Francis Hale O'Flaherty, a linen merchant, and his wife Harriet Isabella Felton.  Francis and Harriet had married in Belfast the year before Douglas' birth.  They had two more children, Wilfred in 1882 and Norah in 1884.  

Douglas was sent to an English public school, Bedford County School, in Ampthill Road, Kempston.  Apparently the School had a fine sporting reputation, being especially proud of its cricket team.  Perhaps this rubbed off on Douglas because as an adult he remained a keen cricketer, playing for the North of  Ireland Cricket Club.  

Although the School closed in 1916 it had a war memorial tablet on which Douglas' name appears.  When the building was demolished in 1964 the memorial was transferred to Elstow Abbey, where it remains today.

The 1901 Census shows Douglas back in Belfast with his parents and siblings.  He and his brother are apprenticed, whilst younger sister Norah is still at school.  As far as I can tell, Francis O'Flaherty died later that year.  By 1911, the only member of the family left in Belfast is Douglas; he is living as a boarder in University Street and working as a Stocks Cashier.  The following year, on 4 June 1912,  he married Beatrice Ewing (shown as "Erving" in some records).  This was possibly Beatrice's second marriage and she may have had a daughter from her first marriage, also named Beatrice.

Prior to the outbreak of war, Douglas had joined the Ulster Volunteer Force and became a company commander. When war broke out the Ulster Division was formed and it would seem that Douglas applied for a commission at this time.  By February he was promoted to Captain.  His brother Wilfred was in the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  

In July 1915 the Division moved to Seaford, in Sussex where they were inspected first by Lord Kitchener and later by the King.  In October they moved to France, where Douglas' 107th Brigade where attached to 4th Division and engaged in further training.  The Brigade returned to 36th (Ulster) Division in February 1916 and took over a section of the front line, extending south from the River Ancre.  

On 1st July 1916 Douglas was to see action in the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme, at the Battle of Albert. At 8.15am the action began for Douglas.  His battalion reported heavy casualties but were able to capture a section of the German line.  They were desperate for reinforcements, but none were available.  One desperate company sent 14 runners back, only one of whom got through.  The German barrage lasted for five hours and gradually chipped away at the Battalion.  Several officers were wounded or killed, including Douglas.  According to a witness he was hit by a shell fragment and was killed instantly.  318 of his comrades in the battalion died on that day.

Douglas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, as well as the Belfast War Memorial, the Belfast Institute Memorial (from whose website I found Douglas' photograph and the war diary extracts) and the Bedford County School memorial.  But why the Newquay War Memorial?

Douglas' connection to Newquay perplexed me for some time.  At first I imagined that his wife or mother must have been born in the town, but I quickly ruled that out.  Eventually I found a 1940 probate record for his sister, Norah O'Flaherty.  Although she died in the Wirral, it mentioned that she had recently lived in Tintagel, so I guessed that she was the connection.  However, I couldn't find any record of her, despite searching the 1911 Census and some street directories.  Eventually, I found both Norah and her mother in Newquay in 1911.  Their entry had been mistranscribed as "O'Flakerty".  So, Harriet and Norah were living at Trenninick, Newquay, in 1911 and possibly for some time afterwards, hence Douglas' name on the memorial.  Harriet died in the Wirral in 1943.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

D M O'Callaghan

Duncan Mackay MacDonald O'Callaghan
Born 1891 in Ludlow, Shropshire.  Killed in Action 15 March 1915 at St Eloi
2nd Lt 3 Battalion att 2 Battalion DCLI 

Duncan O'Callaghan was the son of Surgeon-Major George Henry Kenneth MacDonald O'Callaghan and his second wife, Susannah Charlton O'Callaghan.  O'Callaghan Snr was an Irishman, born in Cork around 1853.  At the time of the 1881 Census the Surgeon-Major, together with his first wife and family, was aboard HMS Serapis.  Serapis was a troopship which sailed the route from England to India.  

By 1888 the Surgeon-Major married for a second time, taking as his bride Susannah Harding, the daughter of a wealthy Bristol merchant.  In 1901 Susannah was living in Cheltenham with her three children and her 25 year old stepson, Kenneth.  All the children have different birthplaces, so Susannah must have moved around with her husband.

In 1911 Susannah, Duncan and two of his sisters were living in Minto House in Newquay.  The house overlooked the Gannel Estuary and in later years has been used as a hotel.  (I got my first job in Newquay at this hotel - I lasted for one morning as a chambermaid.)

Duncan joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry as a Second Lieutenant.  Although he was sent to the 3rd Battalion, he was attached to the 2nd Battalion when they moved abroad.  The Battalion landed at Le Havre just before Christmas 1914 and were sent to the area between Aire and Arques.  

2nd Battalion were part of 82nd Brigade, 27th Division.  On 14 March the Germans, under cover of a heavy mist, launched a surprise attack on the 27th Division, which was holding the trenches to the east of St Eloi.  The Germans, exploiting the element of surprise and aided by heavy artillery fire and two mine explosions, managed to capture and hold the trenches.  However, a counter attack succeeded in regaining the trenches by the following evening.  Sir John French mentioned the action in a despatch to the Secretary of State for War on 15 April 1915:

It is satisfactory to be able to record that, though the troops occupying the first line of trenches was at first overwhelmed, they afterwards behaved very gallantly in the counterattack for the recovery of the lost ground; and the following units earned and received the special commendation, of the Army Commander: - The 2nd  Royal Irish Fusilliers, the 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, the 1st Leinster Regiment, the 4th Rifle Brigade and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Lt O'Callaghan was buried in the New Military Cemetery at Dickenbusch.  Ten years later, on the death of his mother and younger brother, Denys, Duncan's estate was wound up and administration granted to his sister Eileen. (Eileen had married into one of Cornwall's prominent families, the Pole-Carews).  His effects totalled £100.  

Duncan O'Callaghan is commemorated not only in Newquay, but also in Cheltenham, where he had lived as a child.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Military Monday: Plan of action for this week

This week I am researching the "O"s - D M O'Callaghan and D H O'Flaherty.  Early indications are that there is plenty of material on both, though there seems to be no evidence of what links O'Flaherty to Newquay.  

Having joined the War Memorial Trust last week, this week I shall be applying to become a Regional Volunteer.  

I managed to get some photos of the war memorial on Sunday and shall attempt to add these to the blog, possibly as a slideshow.  I may return to the church after yesterday's abortive attempt to photograph the plaques.

I telephoned Newquay Old Cornwall Society last week and have found out that they may have information in their archives about the construction of the war memorial.  Great news, but the archive is only open one day a week and closes at 4.00pm, so I may have to wait until half term to get there.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

H A Bray

Henry Arthur Bray
Born March 1898 in Newquay   Killed in Action 12 April 1918
Crpl 61776 15/17th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment
Enlisted 22 May 1916 at Newquay

Henry was the first son of John and Millicent Bray. A brother, Ernest, followed two years later.  John Bray earned his living as a dirt cart driver, later becoming a coal carrier.  I had great trouble tracking down the Brays on the 1901 Census.  Eventually I found them in Chapel Hill living under the surname Flamank.  This appears to have been John's father's name, his mother being Susan Bray.  For some reason John changed his surname, although the decision seems to have taken a while.  He registered Henry as "Bray" in 1898, but used Flamank on the 1901 Census.  By the time Henry enlisted, John was known as "Bray".  

In May 1916 Henry joined the Army in Newquay.  He was living at 35 Tolcarne Road (which appears to have been demolished now) with his parents and earning his living as a coal carrier.  Henry was nearly 5ft 10 inches tall and weighed in at 147 pounds.  The medical officer who examined him in Bodmin in July found him to be of "Good" physical development, perhaps due to his occupation as a coal carrier.  

Henry enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and was sent to No3 Depot on 16 November 1916, where he appears to have been in F Company, No 8 Training Reserve Battalion at Rugely Camp.  His time here was fairly eventful.  In February 1917 he was brought up on a charge for being late to 1030 parade.  He escaped with an admonishment.  

Matters took a more serious turn in July when a telegram was sent to his mother to inform her that Henry was "dangerously ill" at the Military Hospital at Cannock Chase.  She was advised that if she wished to visit him but was unable to bear the cost she should take the telegram to the nearest police station.  There is no mention of what the illness was, but Henry pulled through.  However, by October he was in trouble again. This time Henry, by now a Corporal, was charged with neglect of duty.  The charge was dismissed.

Henry was posted to 15/17th W Yorks Regiment on 30 March 1918.  I believe that the 15/17th, a service battalion, were part of XIX Corps and therefore with the Fourth Army.  If this is the case Henry would have been involved in the First Battles of the Somme 1918.  The Fourth Army, commanded by Sir Henry Rawlinson, were fighting at the Battle of the Avre on 4 April 1918.  A great many casualties were sustained and many men taken prisoner by the Germans.  Henry was reported missing on 12 April 1918 but it was not until the official list of dead was received from the Germans that his death was confirmed.  A letter relating to this is in Henry's file, but whilst the first part of the date "18 February" is clear, the year is missing.  Even if it was the February following Henry's death, his parents must have endured several agonising months of waiting for news.

Henry has no grave but is remembered at Le Grand Beaumart Cemetery, Steenwerck.

A Shining Example of Bad Photography

I have spent an unfruitful morning at church.  I arranged to visit before this morning's service so that I could photograph the commemorative plaques to local servicemen.  I hadn't realised that they were all brass - unfortunately with the sunlight streaming in and the church lights on, I have only managed to get photographs of bright lights and reflected church walls.

My photography skills are limited in the extreme, so any advice will be gratefully received.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

R A Nankervis

Reginald Arthur Nankervis
Born 1899 at Newquay.  Died 3 March 1915 at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Bugler 1575 1/5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

Reginald was brought up in Newquay by his father Thomas, a mason, and Mary Ellen.  The couple had several other children - Elizabeth, Thomas J and Phyllis were all Reginald's senior - there may have been more after him. 

Thomas was a Penzance man, the son of a mariner.  He moved to Newquay to follow his town trade in the 1880s and by 1901 was working for himself with "serpentine and marble" according to the Census.  He had married Mary Ellen Hockin in 1892.  The couple lived in Tower Road. 

Young Reginald became a bugler in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  It is possible that his brother Thomas joined him in the regiment; there are medal cards for two Thomas Nankervis' - one listed in just the DCLI, the other, Thomas J, as a Sergeant first with the 2/4th DCLI and then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian Army.  In either case it looks likely that Mr and Mrs Nankervis got back one son at least.

Reginald died on 3 March 1915 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission simply lists him as "died", so whether it was an accident or illness is unclear.  He must have been a popular lad because he is commemorated not only on the war memorial but also in St Michael's Church in Newquay, where there is a plaque to Reginald.  It reads:

In memory of Bugler Reginald Arthur Nankervis
Who died at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
On the 3rd March 1915 Aged 16 years
This tablet is erected by his comrades
The officers, NCO's and Men of the "D" Co. 5th DCLI

Update 18 July 2011

I found some further information about Reginald in the 12 March 1915 edition of the Newquay Express.  The article mentions that Reginald was only 15 and had joined the regiment 13 months before his death.  He died of meningitis following a short illness at Walker's Gate Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  At his funeral his fellow buglers acted as coffin bearers.

Reginald's elder brother is stated to be Sergeant James Nankervis, bandmaster of the 4th DCLI.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Military Monday: This Week's Plan of Action

Coming this week:

  • Chronicling two men for sure - the man with the very Cornish surname - R A Nankervis, and the slightly mysterious H A Bray .  Maybe one more, see how it goes.
  • I will be adding links from my The Men page to the relevant post so that visitors can quickly see who I have posted about and find them more easily.
  • Adding to the Useful Stuff page.
  • I will be telephoning our local vicar to ask if I may photograph inside the church - I checked the UK Inventory of War Memorials and found that 84 of "my" chaps are commemorated on a plaque inside  - they were all parishioners.  There is also an individual plaque for R A Nankervis and various other memorials for servicemen.  Hopefully I will be able to share any names and photographs with for The Fallen.
  • I am interested in finding out more about the memorial itself - I know that its position was controversial at the time it was built and that some protested against it being erected.  If I have time I may contact the Town Council and Old Newquay Society to find out if they have any further information.
Check back soon!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Adding some (hopefully) useful stuff

You may notice a new page - it is yet another work in progress.  It is where I will put any resources that I find useful or just plain interesting.  So far I have only got as far as blogs and websites specifically related to war memorials, but as time goes on will add links to the resources I have used in my research and some information about Newquay.

Professor Richard Holmes

I was very sad to hear of the death yesterday of Professor Richard Holmes, the great military historian and broadcaster.  In the last month I borrowed two of his books from our library - Tommy and Shots from the Front.  I enjoyed Tommy so much I bought my own copy and have referred to it several times in researching for this blog.  My thoughts are with his family and friends.

There is a tribute to Professor Holmes on the Western Front Association's website here.