War Casualties

Benjamin Watson STORRY married Emily HUNTER at St Oswald’s on this day in 1904. Four children and thirteen years later, he was killed in Flanders. (See Ypres III.)

Courtesy Graham Featherstone

Ben’s widow died in 1962, aged 79. Her place on the FamilySearch Shared Tree will perhaps remain unoccupied until her father marries. (Thomas HUNTER L87F-L6C.)

Private Stanley Idris BENNETT, known as “Mick”, was serving with the King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) when he died in 1941. His name is in the St Oswald’s burial register and he is with a group of comrades of various nationalities in the churchyard.

I think he was the youngest of seven children born in Wales to Thomas, a coal miner, and Mary Jane DAVIES. Mary was a widow in 1911 and the Commonwealth War Graves entry for Mick indicates that she may have moved to London before the war began.

I have put Walter Edwin with the Flixton family of Beecroft and Sarah (born FRANKISH), even though the GRO Births Index gives his mother’s maiden surname as STOKER. I couldn’t find a birth registration for a “just Walter” that fitted the census family. And he joins my growing army of the disappeared.

Ethel is my first LEAF, and I was delighted to discover she had a sister called Ivy. She is a singleton in FG&C but an older sister, Edith Elizabeth, is elsewhere in the database. Both have a note that they are daughters of hairdresser Alfred Dixon Leaf and Zillah. The family moved to York after the first two girls had been baptised at St Oswald’s. Edith died in York aged four but three other girls, Lillie, Ivy and Ida, made it to the 1970s. Ethel married a cabinet maker, Nelson CRAVEN, in 1920. I don’t know anything about their lives together. Ethel’s death was registered in Wharfedale in 1967. She was 78 years old.

Catherine had six children with fisherman William WILLIS in the twelve years their marriage lasted. Their youngest, Elizabeth, was six months old when William died and nine when she was orphaned.

Water 57 · Martin’s Ravine

No. 32257

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission giving a date for the death of Benjamin that differed from the one inscribed on the family headstone. My neighbor Graham, Ben’s great grandson, has not yet found the letter informing the folks back home that he was missing in action but has offered this photograph of his grave. It is clear now why the family put the 11th, and not the 12th, on the stone in St Oswald’s churchyard.


There is no indication on the photo of when and where it was taken, or by whom, but a couple of things struck me – the neatness of the stenciling on the simple wooden cross and the wintry appearance of the damp wood. Was Ben really fighting and dying for pieces of ground like this? Or for what you see in Today’s Image of Glen Gardens (taken early this morning).


I wonder if Ben was first buried in this wood before being taken the 60 kilometers or so to his final resting place at Gorre British and Indian Cemetery.

Ypres III

The Third Battle of Ypres began on 31st July 1917 and August in Flanders would be the wettest in living memory. The alternative name for this three-month slog through mud is Passchendaele, a village that wouldn’t be fought over until 12th October and, what was left of it, finally taken on 6th November.

Scarborough born Benjamin Watson STORRY traveled just a short distance on this particular road to hell, with B Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires. Dan Eaton records that Ben “enlisted in Beverley, had poor hearing and eyesight but felt that it was his duty to serve, and therefore did not apply to be exempted from military service.” I have no idea how long he served on the Western Front and I’m not really sure where his Company was in the second week of August. Several sources place the 2nd Battalion South Staffs in the Passchendaele campaign so he possibly watched the early August rain fall for several days before, perhaps, taking part in the Capture of  Westhoek on 10th August.

I mentioned yesterday the uncertainty surrounding Ben’s death, “killed in action”. Filey is a small town but even so, I had a remarkable encounter on my early morning walk today. I met my neighbour in Murray Street. He was reading his just-bought newspaper as he walked home. I said, “You must enjoy fairy stories if you’re reading that rag.” He said, “I’m looking at the football results – they’re all true.” I had to concede. “And I’ll tell you what else is true – obituaries.” I said, “Not necessarily…” and told him about Ben’s monumental inscription being at variance with the “official” date of death. My neighbour said, “Neither of those dates is necessarily correct. I have a letter informing his family that he was missing on the 9th, presumed killed.”

We will never know what Ben endured in his last hours – or days. He was 36 years old, a husband and father of four – and my next door neighbour’s great grandfather. I’m hoping my neighbour will find that letter and allow me to share it with you.

I have made a start on updating Ben’s page on the Looking at Filey Wiki. You will find links there to a number of online sources that go some way, I hope, to make him seem a real person and not just another casualty of that particularly horrendous war.  On This Day lists 545 whose deaths are allocated to the 12th August 1917. Nearly all are soldiers, all but one are men. Staff Nurse ROBERTS of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service is remembered in Danygraig Cemetery Swansea.

Looking down the list I thought it had been a quiet day at sea but eleven seamen died when H M Drifter Dewey was sunk in a collision in the English Channel.

If you scroll down to Gorre British and Indian Cemetery you will see that Ben lost his life (officially) on the same day as  Private DANBY, a 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire brother in arms.

Today’s Image shows that Filey Bay was flat calm this day 2013. It was a “mill pond” this morning too.


The Difference a Day Makes

On Wednesday I paid another visit to my forebears of note on FST, wandering the pedigree byways to my 26 times great grandmother, about whom  Les Milandes wrote:-

If Eleanor of Aquitaine was alive today, she would forever be on the front pages of national newspapers and magazines and no doubt constantly trending on twitter. For this was a woman who enjoyed incredible power, good looks and amazing wealth. Duchess of Aquitaine, Countess of Poitou, and ultimately Queen of France and England, Eleanor was a truly remarkable woman.

She was clearly a great reader.

Yesterday evening she was gone, or at least unreachable, because someone, somewhere, has removed just one person from “my” pedigree. As my dad would have said, “C’est la vie”.

I am grieving. It is not often you lose a whole dynasty from your family tree within the space of 24 hours. Those Plantagenets are going to leave a big hole in what’s left of my life.

I’ll get over it. There is always the possibility that the unnamed genealogist took out a 6th great grandmother of mine by mistake and further research could see her re-instated – and Elizabeth the First of England will be my first cousin fifteen times removed again. Cool.

Here’s another kind of day-difference. A grey granite headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard says that Benjamin Watson STORRY was killed in action on the 11th August 1917.


All other sources I have looked at today give the 12th as the date of his death. I will write about him tomorrow.


Screenshot source.