A Sherwood Forester

Henry PERRYMAN was born in Filey in 1883 to William John, of Irish and Alice GIBSON, a Folkton girl. The couple brought 19 other children into the world but when William John filled out the 1911 Census form, as a 65-year-old widower, he indicated that only eight were still living. Four years later there would be seven..

At age 17 Henry was working as a house painter for his father but in 1911, still single, he was a “Police Fireman”, boarding at 1 Guild Hall Cottages in the city of Nottingham. A few days after the Census he married Mary Ellen PATTISON, 25, whose roots were in Swaledale, North Yorkshire. The couple had two children before the Great War started, Sydney in 1912 and Barbara the following year.

Henry had enlisted with the Territorials in Filey in 1908 so it is not surprising that he volunteered for the army within a month of the war beginning. He joined the 7th Sherwood Foresters and in February 1915 landed with his battalion in France. The following month an article in The Nottingham Evening Post, with the title Robin Hoods Under Fire – Will Make a Name for Themselves, prompted him to write a letter to the Editor.

Just a few lines to let the Nottingham people know how the Robin Hoods fared in their first experience of being in the trenches under fire. We left Bocking, Essex, on February 25th, and arrived France on the 28th. At some places we were only 80 yards from the German lines. It was quite exciting, the English, French, and German guns going all day and night long. It reminds one of a fireworks display, especially when the rockets go up every now and then to find out the different positions at night time; only you have to be very careful. I have heard it said the Germans can’t shoot, but you must not expose yourself in the daytime. We only lost one poor fellow by accident and two wounded by the enemy so didn’t do amiss. We are enjoying ourselves as well as we can, and our officers do everything in their power to make us as comfortable as possible. We don’t stay long in one place, always on I the move, not much time for letter writing. You can take it from a good source that the Robin Hoods will make a name for themselves before they come back to England.”

Source: http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/rollofhonour/People/Details/21806

In early October 1915, Henry and his fellow Robin Hoods were part of the 18th Brigade in the trenches at Potijze, near Ieper.

The battalion advance post known as Oder Houses was rushed by the enemy about 6.30 in the morning’ (on 5 October). The Germans at first opened a heavy artillery and trench motor fire on Oder Houses, and on the main fire-trenches occupied by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies in rear of the post. The front trench and two cottages in the rear were flattened out by the enemy’s artillery, and what remained of the garrison withdrew down the communication trenches towards the main line. Captain Robert, commanding ‘B’ Company, from which the garrison of the post was drawn, arranged for a counter-attack up the two communication trenches leading to the post, while the so-called ‘Toby’ Motors were laid on the front of the post. A patrol was first sent forward to ascertain the exact position of the enemy, but these, on seeing the advance of the patrol, at once retreated and the post was reoccupied. The casualties were rather severe, ‘B’ Company having 11 killed, 19 wounded -mostly by shell fire- 1 man missing, believed killed, and 1 wounded and missing, believed captured.

Source: The Sherwood Foresters in the Great War compiled by Colonel. H. C. Wylly, C.B. pages 114 & 115. Gale & Polden Aldershot 1924, extract found here.

This source shows that Henry was one of eighteen Foresters who died of their wounds on this day. He is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais.

If you followed the link to Henry’s letter you will have seen that he is remembered on the Nottingham Holy Trinity Church and Police Force War Memorials as well as on the CWGC website. In Filey, his name is on the Murray Street Memorial and in St Oswald’s Church (where he has been given a promotion to Corporal).

As I write this, he is not on FamilySearch Tree and his pedigree on Filey Genealogy and Connections appears limited at first glance. His older sister Carrie’s marriage connects him to the wider “Filey family”. I hope to link him on FST to those forebears already there (scattered) and perhaps add some more,  found while researching this post. I have created a LaF Wiki page for him.

His grandparents, Henry GIBSON and Alice née BAKER, though “incomers”, are buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. I photographed their headstone this morning – and William John’s former lodging house on The Crescent.

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Polygon Wood

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Before the Great War began the wood may have had this exact shape – but probably a different mix of tree species. It was fought over in October 1914 by, amongst other regiments, the 2nd Worcesters. When they returned in September 1917 –

…the aspect of the scene at dawn was very different from what it had been three years before. The open fields had been beaten into a desolate expanse of boggy shell-holes. Such trees as still stood had been stripped and broken. On the skyline to the left, a mere stubble of bare tree trunks marked the site of Polygon Wood.

The Battle for the Wood “raged” throughout the day of the 26th and in the hours of dark the area was subject to an intense bombardment.

…as dawn broke at 5am the artillery of both sides suddenly ceased their fire. For some minutes all remained under cover, then, as the guns did not recommence, men
ventured cautiously from their defenses and gazed around in wonder. The intense bombardment of two days and nights had beaten the whole area into a different
appearance. Such landmarks as had existed beforehand had disappeared. The surface of the ground from Stirling Castle to Gheluvelt had been churned up afresh, the whole
landscape was even more desolate and repulsive than before.

Source

The battle for Polygon Wood was effectively over. “Intermittent sniping alone
continued throughout the day of Thursday the 27th of September.”

Perhaps it was a sniper’s bullet that ended the life of Private Harold CRIMLISK of Filey, fighting with the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

Harold is buried at Cement House Cemetery, about 12 kilometers distant from where he fell. There is a small cemetery at Polygon Wood and this source offers a gallery of 14 photographs showing the difference a hundred years make.

Harold and some of his forebears may be found in Filey Genealogy & Connections and on the FamilySearch Tree.  He also has a page on the Looking at Filey Wiki.

John Robert Bell

John was born in Scarborough in 1893 and was living with his family at 12 St John’s Avenue in 1901. Ten years later the family home was Highfield Cottage, Lebberston Cliff (where the Blue Dolphin Holiday Park is now) but John, 17, seems to have moved away from the parish.

In the summer of 1918, he was with the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment in the Somme region of France, in Rawlinson’s  Fourth Army. I don’t know for sure how he came to be wounded but think he may have been with Braithwaite’s IX Corps fighting for the village of Épehy on the 18th September. This was one of a number of Battles for the Hindenburg Line – as allied forces pushed the German Army back into their own country. The village was taken that day but the fighting was fierce. John Robert “died of wounds” on the 25th.

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This inscription is on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard, Filey. His grave is in the Brie British Cemetery.

There are no “honoured memories” of John Robert in Filey Church or on the War Memorial in Murray Street. I haven’t found him on the Scarborough Memorial on Oliver’s Mount and he isn’t represented on the Gristhorpe (Filey Parish) Memorial either.

Initially, I found only a grandmother and two great grandparents on FamilySearch Tree but I have added his parents and siblings. His older brother, Albert Edgar, died aged 20 in 1905 but seven children of Richard BELL and Sarah Ann MOORE may have married and had children. Perhaps “family” will add some Memories to FST sometime.

Thruppence Ha’penny a Letter

Three Hull Pals from the 10th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment (The Commercials) were killed 101 years ago today and are buried in the St. Vaast Military Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint the action in which they lost their lives. The Battle of the Somme was ongoing and the 22nd September was the last day of the associated Battle of Flers-Courcelette – but that was about 80 kilometers away from St Vaast.

About three months earlier the Pals were a similar distance south west of Flers, heading for the trenches at Doullens. It is heartbreaking now to see the smiles on their faces. What were they thinking? Perhaps William Richard, Corporal Eric Claude DUNN and Private WOFFINDEN are among the cheerful captured by the camera.

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Photographer: Lieutenant Ernest Brook, IWN Non-Commercial Licence © IWM (Q 743)

A rough count puts 28 soldiers in the picture. Whatever their labours on that day the cost to the British Empire in wages would have been 28 shillings (at 1914 rates and assuming all the men were “Infantry of the Line”). This princely sum, if their parents could find it, would pay for 96 letters to be carved on a son’s war grave headstone, should their boy make the ultimate sacrifice.

Private William Richard Skelton’s father, also William Richard, stumped up 16 bob, to have the following words inscribed:

Father in Thy Gracious

Keeping

We Now Leave Our Loved One

Sleeping

The clerk was punctilious with the letter count and rounding down to the nearest penny.

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(I have “Photoshopped” the document so that you can read the column heads. You can find an image of the original at young William’s CWGC page.)

At age 16 William Jnr was working as a Laundry Errand Boy but later took up his father’s “trade” as a Gardener. Then he volunteered to join the Hull Pals, went to war and didn’t come home.

His parents must have spent a deal more than 16 shillings to have their thoughts carved on the family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

He sleeps not in our native land

But neath a foreign sky

Far from those who loved him dear

In a hero’s grave he lies

Fold him in thy arms O Lord

And ever let him be

A messenger of love between

Our aching hearts and Thee.

SKELTONwmrichd

I think only a small percentage of bereft families could afford an inscription and of those that put their feelings in the public domain nearly all accepted their loss gracefully. On a First World War forum, one “Old Sweat” has offered an example that runs counter but goes to the heart of the matter.

I am here

As a result

Of uncivilized nations.

 

William Richard Skelton, father and son, are on FamilySearch Tree.

Update 23 September

Thanks to the loan of David Bilton’s book Hull Pals: 10th, 11th, 12th & 13th Battalions East Yorkshire Regiment I know what the jovial soldiers pictured above were thinking. In the immediate aftermath of the first day of the Battle of the Somme the 10th received orders to move and after leaving camp a CO asked the men to smile for a cameraman who was further along the road. When he was spotted the soldiers not only laughed but hurled remarks “that would have given the true Somme atmosphere”. Seventeen of the soldiers pictured have been identified but none are the three buried at St Vaast.

I mentioned the Battle of Flers-Courcelle, 15-22 September 1916, and an appendix in Hull Pals lists a fatality on the 16th, two on the 18th, one on the 19th and an additional two on the 22nd. Unfortunately, the casualty records for the period have been lost and there is a vague indication that the battalion was in a quiet area where the only action was occasional shelling and random raids on German trenches.

The two soldiers who were killed on the same day as William Richard Skelton were Privates Walter DENNISON and George Albert WARD. They rest in Merville Communal Cemetery about 15 kilometers away from St Vaast.

On the First Day

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (Third Ypres) began a hundred years ago today. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial lists the names of over a thousand men who lost their lives during those 24 hours. Amongst those whose bodies were not recovered was John James TOMBLIN, a Huntingdonshire man who came with that county’s Cyclists to Filey – and found a wife. He married Elizabeth CAMMISH on the 19th April 1916, taking a respectable place in several of the other Old Filey families – Cappleman, Cowling, Haxby, Jenkinson, and Skelton. A son, Jack Crane TOMBLIN, was born on 29th April 1917 and made fatherless five months later.

There is a short but powerful video on YouTube that gives some context to the loss of life from all corners of Empire – there were many Australian and South African casualties – and the last letter written by Captain Reginald Henry GILL of the 28th Battalion AIF is a poignant reminder, if one is needed,  that cannon fodder had loved ones back home.

Many more died in this battle, on this day, but they rest elsewhere in Flanders. G/17480 Private JENNINGS, Wilfred Walter but recorded as Fred, is about five kilometers away at Hooge Crater Cemetery and his story can be found here. A similar distance further east at Tyne Cot there are 2,000 more men remembered for whom this was their last day.

With the help of Kath’s Filey Genealogy and Connections database and some further research, I have added a little to the TOMBLIN pedigree on FamilySearch Tree. If you haven’t done so already, check out John James and Elizabeth’s wedding photo on the Hunts Cyclists website.

TOMBLINjjJ J is remembered on the Filey War Memorial but not on the ‘Honours Board’ in St Oswald’s Church. Peterborough brought him home.

A Little Known Soldier

Edward Sydney WARD is publicly remembered in three places in Filey. His death in France is noted on the headstone of his grandparents and Aunt Emily in St Oswald’s churchyard.

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If the War Memorial in Murray Street is honouring his sacrifice it omits his middle initial and misspells the family name.

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The plaque in St Oswald’s that lists the men of this parish who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War honours Edward Ward of the 5th Yorkshire Regiment.

His existence in the CWGC Index is sparely recorded.

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The 5th Yorks (Alexandra) Battalion War diary is, as one would hope, more forthcoming, telling us that Ted was seriously wounded by a bomb while helping to guard a trench on September 18th; he died the following day. It notes that he was moved from his grave in Bottom Wood, Fricourt, to Dantzig Alley British Cemetery after the Armistice. This all too brief account has a photograph and some family information that points us in the right direction, though giving his age as 20 doesn’t confirm what we know from the St Oswald’s headstone.

It says he was born in Leeds. That is what the Census enumerator was told in 1901 and 1911 when, aged 7 and 17, he was living first at 1 East Parade, Filey with grandparents Edward and Rebecca WARD and then at 2 West Parade with the recently widowed Rebecca. In 1911 plain “Edward Ward” was working as a “Grocer’s Vanman”.

The War Diary informs us that Ted “was the nephew of Mrs Dove, 29 Cambridge Street and had been brought up from early age by his grandmother, Mrs E. Ward, of Filey. Shortly before the outbreak of war they came to reside in Bridlington, young Ward having secured a position at Messrs Ouston’s (grocers), King Street, Bridlington.” Mrs Dove was, I’m almost certain, Ann Elizabeth née WARD, Mrs E. Ward’s daughter. (Rebecca died in May 1919 at 29 Cambridge Street, Bridlington.)

Though some pieces are falling into place I cannot find a record of Edward Sydney’s birth. It is frustrating not being able to calculate his relationship to Ronnie Dove  (last Friday’s post). It should be easy, but of 64 Edward WARDs born in England in the four years 1893 to 1896, the GRO Online Index offers the births of only two registered in Leeds – Edward Laurence in March 1894 and Edward Arthur in December 1896. A third, plain Edward, was registered in Bramley in September 1896.

So, a young man who died for his King and Country at the age of 20 or 22, can’t yet be placed fairly and squarely with his forebears on the FamilySearch Tree. “The system” gave him an ID five years ago.

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The picture is much the same on Filey Genealogy and Connections but Kath does have a record of baptism for him – in 1910 – with a note stating, “An adult when he was baptised. No other information given!”

Grandfather Edward John, who took part in “the Baltic, the China, the Crimean and the New Zealand wars”, is a little more connected here.

Today’s Image…

…was taken this morning on my first stroll along the promenade in ten days, grateful (as you may imagine) to have reached old age.

Mark & ‘Susie’

The funeral of Mark SCOTTER took place in Filey a hundred years ago today. He had been shot and killed four days earlier by someone aboard the U boat that had intercepted the Government requisitioned ‘trawler’ Susie, 10 miles north-east by east of Scarborough. Susie was sunk by scuttling charges after her crew had put their skipper’s body in the yawl’s coble. The Filey men were picked up by the steam drifter Lord Kitchener and brought safely to Scarborough.

The Scarborough Mercury gave an account of the funeral:-

Filey: Events of the Week

Events of the week have been many – some of a kind not wanted. The death of Mr. Mark Scotter came as a blow to the community. He was a man highly respected, and sympathy was expressed on all hands. For many years he had been identified with the Primitive Methodist Church at Filey, and at one time was a Sunday School teacher. The funeral of deceased, on Tuesday afternoon, was very largely attended. Fellow fishermen carried the coffin, and the Vicar (Canon Cooper), the Rev. G. P. Maynard and Rev. G. A. Morgan (Primitive Methodist Ministers) officiated, a service being held at the Parish Church. Amongst those in attendance were several people from Scarborough, including a representative from the Missions to Seamen Institute, the Harbour Master (Captain Cass Smith), Mr. and Mrs. Fred Harrison, Mr. T. Whitehead, Mr. Geo. Sheader, Mr. Alf Sellers, Mr. Spouse Sheader, and Mr. T. Normandale. Mrs. Cooper, wife of the Vicar, presided at the organ, and the hymn “O God our help in ages past” was sung, and at the graveside the hymn “I have anchored my soul.”

A large number of floral emblems were received from the children, and grandchildren, the members of the Filey Coble Club (“With loving sympathy”); Mrs. A. Scotter and Mrs. R. Douglas; George Mainprize and family; Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Haxby; “With deepest sympathy and ever-loving remembrance from the members of the crew”; “With deepest sympathy from his class mates, Primitive Methodist Church – ‘We shall meet again’ ”; Mr. and Mrs. R. F. Scotter; “With deepest sympathy from the teachers and scholars of the Filey Primitive Methodist Sunday School ‘Anchored safe with Jesus’ “; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Harrison, Scarborough; E. Hill, Simla Lodge, Hunmanby; and Mr. and Mrs. Priestman. Another wreath from Mr A. V. Machin bore the inscription: “For Mark Scotter – A token of sincere regret – In grateful remembrance of one of the best of our brave fishermen who risk their lives to obtain food for their fellow countrymen – With true sorrow from Arthur V. Machin.” Immediately after the funeral, a rocket went off calling out the lifeboat to proceed to a vessel at sea.

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I have created a page for Mark on the LaF Wiki which gives links to blog posts, the CWGC and his two ‘trees’ at FamilySearch.