Leonard Edwards Died 16th September 1920

Company Serjeant Major  B/461227.

Royal Army Service Corps (Canteens)


Leonard Edwards was born in 1893 in Kingsley, the son of Abraham (a Bronze Wire drawer) and Sarah Lizzie Edwards, of Economic Cottage, Hazels Cross Road, Kingsley, the second of their five children.  (1901 Census).  As a teenager Leonard was employed locally as an Accounts Clerk.  (1911 Census).

Leonard Edwards enlisted in the British Army on 9th June 1915, aged 22 years, initially joining the Royal Field Artillery, Service No. 240721 as a Driver.    Later, on a date as yet unknown, Leonard was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps (Canteens).  Service No: B/461227.  (This may indicate that he sustained an injury which necessitated his transfer to a non front line role).  During his military service Leonard attained the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

Leonard Edwards was discharged from the Army on 14th February 1919 shortly after the end of the war.  (Army Medical Records).

Leonard Edwards died on 16th September 1920, aged 27yrs, some 20 months after leaving the Army.  His death was due to 1.  Excision of suppurating cysts of the neck, and 2.  Cellulitis – Septicemia. (Death Certificate).  Leonard Edwards is buried in St Werburgh’s Churchyard, Kingsley.  His grave is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as a ‘War grave’.  (CWGC website).  

Leonard Edwards left an estate valued at £85 – 19s – 17d which was passed to his father Abraham still living at Economic Cottage, Hazles Cross Roads, Kingsley.  (Probate records).

For reasons unknown Leonard Edwards name does not appear on the memorial within St Werburghs Church nor on the memorial on Dovedale Road. As a consequence from the second Remembrance Day in 1920 up until 2014 his name was not remembered nor read out as one of those who died as a result of his service in the war. That changed in November 2014 when his name was read out in St Werburgh’s Church and at the memorial.

Footnote 1.  Given that the grave of Leonard Edwards is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as a ‘War grave’, it is presumed that at least one of the conditions which led to his death was attributed to his war service.

Footnote 2.  Leonard Edwards was the uncle of Sheila Pegg, (nee Fenton), now living in Church Terrace, Kingsley.  As far as we can establish Shelia Pegg is the last known local surviving relative of Leonard Edwards.

George Price Bevans Died 8th September 1916

Theipval-2-EDIT-2-webPrivate S/12225.  Black Watch (Royal Highlanders).  9th Battalion

Records relating to his death in the war  indicate that he was born in 1884 being 32 years at the time he died. However our research indicates that he was born in April 1894 , the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Mary  Bevans (nee Price) of The Wharf, Froghall, Staffs.

In 1891 from the census of that year we have one Elizabeth Mary Price aged 22 born in Shropshire working as a servant at Woodland View Froghall. Elizabeth Price and Thomas Bevan married in the Cheadle area (quite possibly St Werburgh’s Church) in the summer  of 1891.


In 1901 the family comprised of George aged 6 years and his sister Sarah Elizabeth Bevans aged 3. They were living with Elizabeth’s parents at Norton Farm in Condover, Shropshire with Thomas’s occupation being given as a shepherd. (1901 Census)

By 1911 the family are back in Froghall living at the Wharf with a third child, a son named John Thomas who was five. George Price Bevans is a labourer on the North Staffordshire Railway and his father a wagoner with the same company. (1911 Census)

There is no known record of George marrying. At some point he joined the army enlisting in Stoke on Trent and was posted to the Black Watch Regiment.

However we know from his medal award that he saw service in the theatre  of operations after 1915 as he was not awarded the 1914-15 Star which was awarded to those who served in the theatre of operations during those years.

We do not know at what point in 1916 that George was sent to France but by September 1916 he was on the Somme with his battalion which was in reserve at Albert roughly between Arras and Amiens. However by the 6th September they were as the war diary phrases it in the ‘firing line’ relieving the Camerons.

The 9th Battalion The Black Watch and another four battalions of the regiment were involved in the battle that dominated 1916 – the Battle of the Somme. (www.theblackwatch.co.uk)

Their position on the front line was between High Wood and Bazentin Le Petit and was described as very difficult to hold. On 7th September they were shelled by the Germans which seriously wounded one officer and killed one other rank and wounded three others.

On the following day the battalion were under machine gun fire and shelling which caused some casualties. However at 6.30pm that day two companies attacked the German trenches killing 70 and capturing 30 along  with two machine guns and capturing the trench. After initially consolidating their gain, due to the Gloucestershire Regiment on their flank falling back  the Black Watch came under a strong enemy attack which forced them to withdraw.

Casualties were one officer missing believed wounded, 2 officers wounded with 24 other ranks killed, 14 missing and 59 wounded.

The following day, whilst still at the front seems to have passed with little incident despite shelling and machine gun fire other than a further attack by a unit to the battalion’s flank that was described as causing serious casualties to the enemy.

The unit was then withdrawn from the front line on 10th September with the diary recording casualties as 6 officers and 119 other ranks (killed, missing, or wounded) . The war diary records in the coming weeks that 5 soldiers were awarded the Military Medal and one the Distinguished Conduct Medal  for their bravery on 8th September. Given the action on that day was by two companies of less than 500 men these awards indicate the nature of the fighting on that day.

IMAG0624George Price Bevans was one of those to lose his life  on 8th September 1916. Whilst it is assumed he died taking part in the attack on the enemy trenches the precise nature of his death is not known but his body was never recovered. He is  commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial for the 72,000 men who lost their lives during the Battle of Somme and have no known grave. As well as being commemorated on the memorials in Kingsley. George Bevans is also commemorated on Foxt’s War Memorial as George T Bevans.

George was also featured in a book written by John Crosby called Path of Duty featuring the men of Foxt and Ipstones who died in the war. As often happened men appeared on more memorial. The relevant extract from John’s book can be found HERE (Requires rotating to view) The project team are extremely grateful to John for his assistance in research and encouragement throughout our research.



Footnote 1.  On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed. (Wikipedia).


In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.  

Footnote 2.  The Thiepval Memorial commemorates 72,000 officers and men from Britain and South Africa who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme and have no known grave.  Four men from Kingsley Parish are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial; Charles Allen (died 12th August 1916), Isaac Hammond (died 31st August 1916), George Price Bevans (died 8th September 1916) and Arthur Keene (died 12th October 1916).  A fifth man Thomas Clowes (died 19th October 1916) also lost his life in the battle and is buried nearby in a military cemetery at Arras.

Footnote 3. An infantry battalion in this era comprised some 1000 soldiers of which 30 were  officers when at full strength. Each company had around 225 soldiers including officers. However it was not uncommon for a battalion to have a fighting strength of 200 and on 8th September 1916 its unlikely that the two company attack would have been with 500 men. (http://www.1914-1918.net)

Footnote 4 A typical battalion spent perhaps only 5-10 days in a year in intensive action; they would also spend 60-100 days in front-line trench activities without being in action, with the rest of the time being in reserve or at rest, both of which entailed continual effort on fatigues or training.(http://www.1914-1918.net)


Rowland John Beech Died 30th August 1919

Lieutenant Colonel.  Warwickshire Yeomanry

Rowland John Beech was born in the period October – December 1853 (Births Index) in Brandon, Nr Coventry, Warwickshire, the son of James (born Shawe Hall, Kingsley) and Emily Beech, being the second of their five children.  In 1861 the family were living at Brandon Lodge, Brandon, Warwickshire, supported by 17 members of household staff. (1861 Census).  By 1871 Rowland’s father James was no longer with the family and may well have died. (1871 Census).

In 1881 Rowland Beech was a Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry.  At the time of the census he was one of at least 25 men of a similar rank at the ‘School of Musketry’, Hythe, Kent, possibly undergoing some form of military training. (1881 Census).

Around 1886 Rowland, (aged 32 yrs) married Adelaide Frederica Cure, and returned to live at Brandon House, Warwickshire, where Rowland is described as ‘Living on his own means’.  The couple had four children, Christabel, Irene, Rowland Auriol and Douglas.  (1891 Census).

In 1911 the family remained living at Brandon House, Warwickshire, at which stage Rowland (aged 57 yrs) was described as being a Lieutenant Colonel in the Warwickshire Yeomanry.  He was also a Justice of the Peace in the Counties of Warwickshire and Staffordshire.   (1911 Census).

On 21st February 1915 Rowland Beech’s oldest son Rowland Auriol James (Jim), a Lieutenant in the 16th (The Queens) Lancers, was killed whilst on active service on the Western Front in northern France.  More Detail Here

Rowland Beech was posted to France on 22nd February 1917 and saw active service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Warwickshire Yeomanry and 2nd Lifeguard Regiment. It would seem that the death of his son promoted him at the age of 63 to re-join the army.

Army Record – as an officer Rowland’s record was stored elsewhere and not subject to loss / damage in the ‘Blitz’ and is stored at the National Archives. The project will be visiting the National Archives in Kew this autumn to continue their research.

Rowland Beech died on 30th August 1919, aged 65 yrs, almost 10 months after the end of the war.  At that time he was recorded as having the following addresses:

Brandon Hall, Nr Coventry, Warwickshire.

The Shawe, Kingsley, Staffordshire.

71 Cadogan Square, Chelsea, Middlesex

7 Turlingham Gardens, Folkestone, Kent.

Probate records indicate he left an estate valued at £206,931 15s 8d.  (Probate Records).  This was a very significant estate roughly worth £8 million by 2014 values.  (This Money website)

His death certificate has been obtained and records his death as the result of anterior scelerocis, cerebral softening and cardiac failures. None of these would appear directly attributable to his war service but given that his death occurred shortly after the war he was classed as a casualty of war.

Rowland was buried in the family crypt within St Werburgh’s Church and there is also a tablet erected on the wall of the church near to one erected in the memory of his son.










His burial and that of two other men (Leonard Edwards and George William Hood) are commemorated on to Commonwealth War Graves Commission site and the church yard is acknowledged as a CWWG site.








Rowland John Beech pictured second left in France 1917




A further picture of R J Beech – note that he is wearing a blank armband which signifies the loss of his son.

Isaac Hammond Died 31st August 1916

Theipval-2-EDIT-2-webPrivate 7716.  North Staffordshire Regiment.  (1st Battalion)

Isaac Hammond was born in 1889 in Kingsley the son of William and Maria Hammond, the youngest of their four children.  In 1891 William (Father) was employed as a Coal Miner, the four children were John (15yrs), Susan (9yrs), Sarah (5yrs) and Isaac (2 yrs).  (1891 Census).

In 1901 the family were still living in Kingsley Green, at that stage only Sarah (15yrs) and Isaac (12yrs) remained living at home.  Sarah was employed locally at a Tape Factory as a Pin Winder.  (1901 Census).

In 1910 or early 1911 Isaac Hammond married Bertha who was 4 years younger.

In 1911 Isaac (23yrs) and Bertha Hammond (19yrs) were living with his older brother John, John’s wife Edith and their five children in a terraced house at 3 Oak Street, Cheadle, Staffs. The census indicates Isaac and Bertha had been married for 6 months.  (1911 Census).

On a date as yet to be established Isaac Hammond joined the Army, Service No. 7716 and was posted to the North Staffordshire Regiment (1st Battalion). He entered France in May 1915  (Ancestry Records and Medal Card). His service number is within 200 of Charles Allen who was killed in early August 1916. This would suggest that like Charles he was a territorial soldier before the war – his medal car reveals he was a Lance Corporal at some stage perhaps as  an acting rank. This is further confirmed by the fact that he is on the 1914 nominal role for the regiment at the outbreak of the war.

The 1st Battalion, North Staffs Regiment were involved in the Battle of the Somme, (1st July – 18th November 1916).  (Wikipedia).  

Isaac Hammond died on 31st August 1916.  (Army Medal Card – St Werburghs Plaque).  However the Commonwealth War Grave Commission has his date of death as 21st August 1916 – as does the Staffordshire Regiment Museum. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

North Staffs Regiment (1st Battalion) War Diary has been obtained and shows that the battalion were in action in the latter part of the month of August. In the period of 21st to 22nd August the battalion relieved the 8th Queens (Royal West Surrey Regt.) They were subject to shelling and suffered some casualties as a result.

The main action appears to have taken place on 31st August when the battalion were  attacked having moved into the Devlville Wood area. In preparation an advanced party visited and described the trenches as in poor condition and communications non existent. Visits by junior  officers were made as well over the coming days and it seems that the men spent some time in barracks which were described as inadequate but giving shelter from the rain and cold.

30th August 1916 saw the battalion relieving 9th Rifle Brigade as they moved into Delville Wood. Almost immediately they were subject to heavy shelling and the South Staffordshire Regiment to their left were attacked. The North Staffs had sent a Lewis gun and some bombs (grenades) to assist them but they retreated through the North Staffs lines. It seems that only desperate and brave fighting prevented the Germans getting through and the attack was halted albeit a section of trench had been lost to the Germans.

Of the battalions 16 company officers 2 were killed, one was wounded and missing and three were wounded during this attack. Of the other ranks it is unclear how many were killed for certain from the diary. There is no entry relating to this but from the officers messages  at least 26 were killed, 45 wounded and 6 were recorded as ‘buried’ suggesting an explosion had caused the collapse of a trench or similar. The fighting on this day was clearly very tough and a letter was sent from the Divisional General to congratulate the soldiers for their efforts.

Footnote 1:  The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the the British and French armies against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed.  (Wikipedia).

Footnote 2:  The Thiepval Memorial commemorates 72,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers that fell during the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916 and who have no known grave.  (Wikipedia).  Four men from Kingsley Parish are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial; Charles Allen (died 12th August 1916), Isaac Hammond (died 31st August 1916), George Price Bevans (died 8th September 1916) and Arthur Keene (died 12th October 1916).  A fifth man Thomas Clowes (died 19th October 1916) also lost his life in the battle and is buried nearby in a military cemetery at Arras.

George Samuel Harrison Wheawall Died 8th August 1917

Family Photograph - George Wheawall EDITPrivate 43193.  Lincolnshire Regiment, 7 th Battalion

George Wheawell was born on 12th May 1885 to George (Snr) and Emma Wheawell of Kingsley, the oldest of their four children. George (Snr) was employed locally as a Miner.  The family lived at Brookgate Cottage, Kingsley.  (Family History records).

In 1901 the family were living at Kingsley Green, possibly the same address. As well as George (Jnr) who was 15 years old, there was also Mary (13 yrs), John Thomas (9 yrs) and Clement (6 yrs) old.  George Wheawall (Jnr) is described as a ‘Coal Miner – Pony Driver underground’.  (1901 Census).

By 1911 George (Snr) had died, his widow Emma is head of the household.   George (Jnr) then aged 25 years and his two brothers remain living at home, sister Mary (23yrs) had moved out.  George (Jnr) is recorded as being Single and employed as a ‘Colliery Wagon Loader – Below Ground’. (1911 Census).

On 14th May 1911 George Wheawall married Mary Ellen Handley at St Werburgh’s Church, Kingsley. They subsequently had two sons, John (born 1912) and Clement George (born 1913).  Initially the family lived locally in Kingsley.  (Family History records).

George joined the army in 1914/15 initially joining the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, Service No. 23144, before being transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment (7th Battalion), Service No. 43193. (Medal card).

It would appear that George Wheawall was on active service during 1915 as one of the medals he was awarded was the ‘1915 Star’ awarded for men who served in the theatre of operations before 31st December 1915. His medal card indicates he entered the ‘Theatre of war’ on 7th November 1915 on Active Service in Egypt. The Lincolnshire Regiment was not in Egypt at any time (a staging post for Gallipoli) but the 9th Battalion  Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment were with two battalions in Egypt at some point in 1916. His medal roll indicates he was in the 9 batallion. George may have been at Gallipoli although we may never know.

The Lincolnshire Regiment, 7 th Battalion, saw active service on the Western front in Northern France and notably were involved in Action in the Bluff (February 1916), Battle of Albert (July 1916), and the ‘First and Second Battles of the Scarpe’ (April and May 1917), and the Battle of Arras, (August 1917).    (Regimental War Diary). George transferred to the regiment some time in 1916 /17  but as he service record does not survive we do not know the date.

At 3.35am on 8th August 1917 during the Battle of Arras the Germans laid a barrage of artillery shells on their position which increased in intensity until 4.30 am. The British artillery replied in kind.  The Germans then attacked with infantry some getting into the British trenches before  being ‘ejected’ leaving some of their dead behind them. The Germans brought explosives with them but never had time to use them.   (Regimental War Diary).

As a result of the attack the following British casualties were sustained mainly from the artillery bombardment; 10 other ranks killed, 31 wounded (5 remained at their posts) with 2 men missing in action.  The rest of the day was spent repairing damage caused to the trenches.   (Regimental War Diary).

It is assumed that George Wheawall was one of the 10 men killed in the action on 8th August 1917. His family history records indicate that, ‘He was shot and killed by a sniper whilst on stretcher duty on the 8th August 1917, aged 32 years’.  (Family history).

On 9th August 1917 the battalion relieved by a battalion from the Lancashire Fusiliers.  (Regimental War Diary).

George Harrison Samuel Wheawell is buried in Brown’s Copse Commonwealth War Cemetary at Roeux.  (CWGC).

His widow Mary Ellen Wheawell died in the great flu epidemic in November 1918.  (Family history).


The picture adjacent is of George and his comrades – possibly judging by the numbers it was his platoon who are pictured. George is on the back row fourth in front the left with an X above his head.

We are grateful to George’s family who have allowed us to use both pictures of him during his war service.

We also have a letter written to his family by a friend from the front which we hope to ranscribe at some point and put on the site.

Footnote 1: We are grateful to the family of George Wheawell for sharing their history with us including pictures of him. The family includes Mandy Jones who is the  great grand daughter of George and her father who is his grandson.


Charles Allen Died 12th August 1916

Theipval-2-EDIT-2-webPrivate 7524.  North Staffordshire Regiment

Charles Allen was born around 1892/93 to Mary J Allen. Little more is known of the family at this time.

In 1901 the family has seemingly fallen on hard times and is living in the Workhouse in Cheadle. Charles is aged 8 and has a sister Mary aged 4.

By 1911 there is at present little to say on the family, Mary Jnr is aged 14 at this census and working as a domestic servant at Fole. There is at this time no information on mother Mary Allen and son Charles Allen.

Research to date has not been able to locate the either mother or son at this time in the census returns. Unfortunately the Workhouse records do not contain any lists of inmates. Out of interest the workhouse became what is now Cheadle Hospital.

Charles Allen joined the Army fairly early on in the war under  Service No. 7524, and was posted to the North Staffordshire Regiment. Newspaper reports at the time of his death describe him as a reservist which seems to confirm he served before the war.

His service prior to the war is further confirmed as he is shown on the roll of soldiers in the North Staffordshire Regiment at the outbreak of the war. (Staffordshire Regimental Museum Lichfield)

Initially Charles served in the 4th Battalion, (a reserve battalion).  On 23rd March 1915 Charles Allen was transferred to the Ist Battalion who were in action on the Western Front in Northern France.  (Army Medal Card).

On 5th February 1915 in the Cheadle and Tean Times it was reported that a Whist Drive had been held (believed at the Reading Room) in aid of those at the front. From the proceeds it was decided to purchase socks with half a dozen being kept back to send to Charles Allen a member of the Reading Room.

On 6th May 1916 Charles Allen (then aged 25yrs) married Mary Ellen Thomas at St Werburghs Church , Kingsley.  It is assumed that he was back on leave. At this stage Charles was a serving soldier in the North Staffs Regiment as stated on the marriage certificate.  The Marriage Certificate indicates no details are known of his father, (he may have been born outside of marriage).  Kingsley is indicated as his place of residence.  (Marriage Certificate).  

Mary Ellen Thomas was the daughter of Edward and Mary Allen who had previously lived in Cotton.  In 1911 Mary and her mother were living in Back Lane, Kingsley.  (1911 Census).

By that time Charles had been wounded in action being listed on the daily casualty lists for 5th November 1915 although he would have been injured possibly days or weeks before that. Reports after his death indicate he was quite seriously injured as he recuperated  in Jersey and it was thought he would not recover sufficiently for further active service. (it may have been Guernsey rather than Jersey as the 4th Extra Reserve Battalion was there from 1914 to 1916)

The 1st Battalion, North Staffs Regiment were involved in the Battle of the Somme, (1st July – 18th November 1916).  They were involved fairly early on in the battle moving to the front in late July early August. At the end of August the battalion historian records that rotting corpses littered the area they were in. (Tracing British Battalions on the Somme Ray Westlake)

Charles Allen was killed on 12th August 1916, a little over 3 months after his wedding in Kingsley.  He has no known grave along with over 70,000 others who died in this battle. Charles Allen is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial Cemetery, Northern France, (CWGC).

The War Diary for his battalion records the following information :

12 August 1916 / 13 August 1916  – “Fine clear day. Total daily casualties to 12 noon 1 killed 5 wounded. Orders received at 11am that Battalion will relieve R W Kents during evening of 12th inst. Relief begun at about 4.30pm almost simultaneously with allied attack on our immediate right of which we had not been warned. Relief complete 9.30pm (approx) a few casualties in joining up. Enemy bombardment on front line — and Hollow Road 9.30pm to 10.30pm. 11pm to midnight, 1am to 2am [ unreadable] bombardment of Hollow Road and supporting lines from 3.45am to 5.30am. [unreadable] shelling in between bombardments. Casualties to 12 noon 7 OR killed and 20 wounded”

The previous day saw the Battalion moving into trenches as an attack was taking place in the late evening. There is little detail in terms of what happened during that time but the casualties were fairly light. Whether Charles Allen was killed during those manoeuvres after midnight we do not know. However casualties were higher in the following 24 hours from midday 12th August which saw the battalion moving up to relieve the Royal West Kent Regiment. Its highly likely that Charles Allen was killed during the bombardment of the British trenches. He and 6 other men killed that day have no known grave. Another 3 1st Battalion men are recorded to have died on 12th August making a total of 10 which is 2 more than the war diary. The most likely explanation is that they died of wounds received on that or a preceding day.

A local press report at the time  of his death refer to him as an intelligent and interesting man who on returning to the village on leave had descriptive stories of his experiences to tell.

The report adds that at the time  of his death his widowed mother and sisters were living in Stone.

Footnote 1:  The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the River Somme in France. The battle was one of the largest of World War I, in which more than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed.  (Wikipedia).

Footnote 2:  The Thiepval Memorial commemorates 73,367 British and Commonwealth soldiers that fell during the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916 and who have no known grave.  (Wikipedia).

George Ramsell Died 8th August 1918

Private 200736 – Royal Tank Corps

George Ramsell was born in the period January – March 1896, the son of Benjamin (a Copper worker) and Dency Ramsell, the second of their seven children.  In 1901 (when George was aged 5 years) the family were living at Froghall House, Froghall.  (1901 Census).  Froghall House is adjacent to the former George Botham’s Farm, Foxt Road, Froghall.

In 1911 the family were living at Froghall Cottage, Nr Cheadle, Staffs, (Parish of Kingsley).  At this stage George Ramsell, aged 15yrs, was employed as a ‘Copperworks Labourer’. (1911 Census)

During his time in the Army his home address was Beech Tree Cottage, Froghall, (Family history)

George Ramsell joined the Tank Corps, Service No. 200736, and was allocated to the 4th Battalion.  He was deployed to France in October 1915. (Army Records).

Full Army records required.

George Ramsell 2George Ramsell died on 8th August 1918.  His Army service record is briefly endorsed, ‘K in A 8/8/18’.  He commemorated on the Memorial at the Hangard Communal Cemetery Extension, Northern France.

On 8th August 1918 the 4th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment were deployed on an early morning operation in support of the Canadian Infantry in an offensive in the area of the Amiens Defence Line.  The objective was captured and secured.  The advance continued during the day in the area of Cancelette, Le Marie Wood and Ignacourt.  Two tanks were lost to German field gun fire during this later operation.  (Regiment War Diary).

Footnote 1:  At the end of March 1918, Hangard was at the junction of the French and Commonwealth forces defending Amiens. From 4th to 25th April, the village and Hangard Wood were the scene of incessant fighting, in which the line was held and the 18th Division were particularly heavily engaged. On 8th August the village was cleared by the 1st and 2nd Canadian Rifles. (CWGC Website).


Footnote 2:  George Ramsell was the uncle of Pat Mullington, formerly of Kingsley Holt, now living in Cheadle.

Pictures of George Ramsell courtesy of the family


Thomas Barker died 5th August 1917

Private 305892.  1st/7th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment

Thomas Barker was born in 1885 in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, the son of Thomas (Snr) and Sarah Ann Barker, the fifth of their five children.  (Census records).

Father, Thomas Barker (Snr), was born in Manchester in around 1848.  In 1861 he was living in Kingsley with his Grandparents.  In 1871 he remained living in Kingsley with an Aunt. (1861 and 1871 Census).  Mother, Sarah Ann (nee Worthington) was born in Wetley Rocks. The couple married at St Werburghs Church, Kingsley, in late 1875. (Marriage Register).

In 1881 the couple were living in Cheadle with their oldest three children.  For reasons which are as yet unknown the family moved to Seaham Harbour, County Durham, where Thomas was born in 1885.  It would seem that his Mother Sarah Ann died in County Durham in 1887 when Thomas was only a young child.  The family returned to live in Kingsley.

In 1889 Thomas (Snr) remarried Anne Carr who was from the Kingsley area.  (Marriage Register).  In 1901 the family were living at Cupola, Froghall, and had a further four children, making a total of 9 children including the 5 children from Thomas Snr’s first marriage.  At this stage Thomas (Jnr) was aged 15 yrs and was employed as a General Labourer.  (1901 Census).

By 1911 Thomas Barker (Jnr), then aged 25 yrs, had married Mary Barker.  The couple had a young child, Annie Barker, and were living at Little Bunting, Kingsley.  Thomas was employed as a Colliery Labourer. (1911 Census).

Army Record required.

At some stage Thomas Barker joined the Army and was allocated to the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, 1st/7th Battalion.  The regiment saw active service on Western Front in Northern France with Thomas entering the theatre of operations on 15th April 1915. (Medal Card)

In August 1917 the Regiment were deployed in the area of Redan, Nieuport, (Belgium).

Thomas Barker was killed on either 5th (CWGC) or 8th August 1917 (St Werburghs Plaque).  Thomas Barker is commemorated at the Coxyde Military Cemetery, Nr Nieuport, Belgium.  (CWGC).

The date of Thomas’s death is likely to be 5th August as the CWGC’s information would be based from graves registration. In addition the records held on line record the date of death as 5th August.

Lastly his medal card has the following entry ‘Accid. Drowned’. The ‘Accid.’ Is read to be ‘accident’.

Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment, 1st/7th Battalion, War Diary has the following relevant entries:

5th August – “Gas shells continued at intervals until 4.00am. Bright sunny day. Fairly quiet. Man drowned on ration party crossing the canal.  Casualties 2”  

6th August “”Fairley quiet day supplied 100 OR (other ranks) carrying parties. Casualties 11 OR gassed, 1 OR wounded, 1 OR drowned (fell off Vauxhall Bridge while on ration party) (rest of entry refers to training movements)

7th August “Fairly quiet day. 7.45 – 9.0PM very heavy shelling of Batt HQ with 5.9’s. Several direct hits but little damage. RSM Holmes injured. All HQ NCO’s of 5WRR killed in dugout. Casualties 7 OR’s wounded.

8th August – Raid by 6 WRR (West Riding Regiment), 5 Prisoners, 1.00am Relief between 5 & 7 WRR order cancelled.  Casualties 7 OR (other ranks) wounded.  Fine rain at night.”

It would therefore seem that unless the entries for 5th and 6th August are duplicates that two men drowned on consecutive days whilst carrying supplies across the canal which was quite a wide stretch of water not far from the sea on the Belgium coast. The work was carried out under gas shell attack and several men were affected by gas.

A search via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site for the dates 5th August to 8th August inclusive for Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment shows that 58 men are recorded to have lost their lives in this period. Only one came from 1st / 7th Battalion and that was Thomas Barker on 5th August, no man lost his life from the battalion on 6th or  the 8th. It would therefore be reasonable to assume that the entry was in fact a duplicate – its on a different page and may have been written up a few days after and may have been just an error albeit the authors hand for both days appears to the same (Entry initialed each day GBH)

Footnote 1:  In June 1917, Commonwealth forces relieved French forces on 6 kilometres of front line from the sea to a point south of Nieuport (now Nieuwpoort), Belgium, and held this sector for six months. Coxyde (now Koksijde) was about 10 kilometres behind the front line. The village was used for rest billets and was occasionally shelled, but the cemetery, which had been started by French troops, was found to be reasonably safe. It became the most important of the Commonwealth cemeteries on the Belgian coast and was used at night for the burial of the dead brought back from the front line.

Footnote 2: Thomas Barker is the relative of Sharon Emery and Julie Dono (Nee Barker) who’s late father and mother were Bertie and Betty Barker. Bertie’s father was the brother of Thomas. Both sisters still live in the village to this day.



George William Hood Died 21st June 1921

Petty Officer (Stoker) 285777 – HMS Lookout

George William Hood was born on 9th February 1878 in Kingsley, the son of William (a Coal Miner) and Mary Ann Hood, the 4th of their seven children.  In 1891, George then aged 13 yrs, remained living with his family in Kingsley and was employed locally as a Labourer.  (1891 Census).  Later George was employed locally as a Coal Miner.  (Royal Navy Records).

George William Hood joined the Royal Navy on 13th August 1897, (aged 19 yrs), for an initial period of 12 years, Service No:  285777,  at which stage he was 5 feet 5½ inches tall.  (Royal Navy Records).

In 1901 (aged 23 yrs) George Hood was based at HMS Pembroke, a shore based Royal Naval Barracks, at Chatham, Kent.  During the Boer War (1899 – 1902) he served on HMS Monarch.  In 1909, after 12 years service, he re-enlisted.  During his naval service George Hood served on a number of Royal Navy warships.  (Royal Navy Records).

During WW1 George Hood served on several ships including HMS Lookout. He was most notably involved in action at Zeebrugge and Ostend.  At one stage his ship was torpedoed and he spent 12 hours in the water before being rescued. He suffered greatly from the effects of being gassed. (Press Report). He received a Mention in Dispatches in 1918.

Research indicates that his Mention in Dispatches was announced in the London Gazette on 17th September 1918 for services in ‘Monitors and Destroyers of the Dover Patrol’ between 1st January 1918 and 30th June 1918. Research is ongoing to ascertain his actions that led to the award. To view the entry click here – MID G W HOOD

According to his record he served on HMS Lookout after the issue of his MID. It would appear he served on HMS Erebus from 1916 until July 1918. This ship was in action outside Ostend and Zeebrugge which are referred to in the press report of his death.

This ship was subject to a attack by a German remote controlled boat that was filled with explosives and literally driven at the ship. The attack occurred on 28th October 1917 and there was damage to the ship with two killed and 15 wounded. This may well be the incident that is referred to in the press report. (www.naval-history.net) In 1918 during the period of his time on the ship it was used in the blockade of Zebrugge.

HMS Erebus saw service in World War 2 and even assisted in the Normandy landings. (Royal Navy records and Wikipedia)

In 1919 George William Hood left the Royal Navy after 22 years service having attained the rank of Petty Officer (Stoker).  His Service Record indicates his discharge was due to a ‘War wound’.  (Royal Navy Records).

George William Hood died on 21st June 1921, aged 43yrs, almost 3 years after the war had ended.  A press report on his funeral comments, “Crowds of sympathising onlookers lined the way to his place of interment in Kingsley Churchyard.”  His grave is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as a ‘War grave’.  (CWGC website).

HMS Lookout – 1914                                            

HMS Lookout






Press Report of G W Hood’s Funeral  

Press Report


George Hood’s grave in Kingsley church yard


George William Hood



Footnote 1.  Joan Barrow is a descendant relative of George William Hood.  He was her great uncle.

Colin Capewell Died 26th May 1918

Corporal 14806 – North Staffordshire Regiment (9th Battalion)


Colin CapewellColin Capewell was born on 6th September 1888 the son of Colin (Snr) and Emma Capewell of Tollgate Cottage, Blakeley Lane, Stoke on Trent, (near East View).  Colin (Jnr) was the seventh of their 10 children.  (1891 and 1901 Census).

In 1911 Colin, then aged 22 yrs, was living at the Royal Oak, Dilhorne, where he was employed by the Licensee as a Servant / Farm Worker.  His parents and younger siblings remained living at the family home in Blakeley Lane.  (1911 Census).  Prior to enlisting Colin was employed as a Collier at Foxfield Colliery Dilhorne.  (Army Records).

Colin Capewell joined the Army on 7th September 1914 within weeks of the outbreak of the war.  At the time of enlisting he was aged 26 years and one day, 5 feet 3¾ inches tall, weighing 9 st 11 lbs.  Service No. 14806.  Colin was posted to the North Staffordshire Regiment, 9th (Pioneers) Battalion.  After initial training and several UK based postings, on 28th July 1915 he was posted to France as part of the ‘British Expeditionary Force’.  (Army Records).

Private Colin Capewell was trained as a Lewis Machine Gunner. He remained on active service in Northern France from 1915 until 1918 during which time he twice returned home on leave.  On 14th October 1917 he was temporarily promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) which was confirmed three months later.  (Army Records).  At a later stage Colin Capewell was promoted to the rank of Corporal.  (Times and Echo – Press Article).

The North Staffordshire Regiment, 9th Battalion, were involved in action and numerous battles on the Western Front in Northern France during WW1.  In May 1918 the regiment formed part of the allied defences attempting to repel the German Spring Offensive.


Small Box Respirator and bag 260613 01On the evening of 11th May 1918 elements of the regiment including Colin Capewell began work. As a Pioneer Battalion the 9th were involved in construction work. At this time they were in the Fonquevillers area north east of Amiens. They were more than likely repairing roads that had been damaged in shelling the previous day. The war diary reports that the Germans started to shell the area at around 5pm and this continued up until midnight. The entry records that for some time they were unaware that some  of the shells were gas shells. It adds that over 2000 gas shells were fired in the five hours of shelling and that great difficulty was experienced in wearing the box respirator which was the main protection from the effects of gas.   (An example of the respirator is pictured)

The diary makes no mention of any casualties but according to Colin’s service record it states on the 12th May he suffered the effects of gas inhalation. The entry for the 12th states merely ‘work as usual’ so the assumption is that he was injured on the 11th into the 12th. Whether he was taken to hospital straight away is unclear, his service record entry is dated 18th May and states he had suffered a gas shell injury on 12th May. The diary records that for the month of May 1918 the battalion suffered 61 killed – of these 59 were due to the effects of gas in addition 131 were injured as the result of gas attacks. The total killed and wounded in the month were 211 men which given that the battalions strength during the month was around 800 means that 1 man in four was killed or injured.

He was taken to the No. 9 General Hospital, forming part of GHQ (3rd Echelon), in the area of Rouen.  On 26th May 1918 Colin Capewell (then aged 30 yrs) died from Pneumonia brought on by the effects of poisonous gas.  (Army Records).  Following his death a special memorial service took place at Kingsley Moor Mission Church which was well attended.  (Times and Echo – Press Article).

He is commemorated in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Northern France.  (CWGC Records).  Colin Capewell was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals which were signed for by his mother, Emma Capewell.  (Army Records).

Frederick Capewell - standing centreErnest Capewell (2)

Colin had two younger brothers Frederick Capewell (Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry) and Ernest Capewell (North Staffs Regiment) who both saw active service during the WW1.  At the time of Colin’s memorial service Frederick was a prisoner of war and Ernest was in hospital in Blackburn being treated for wounds received during the war. (Times and Echo – Press Article).

Frederick Capwell is pictured standing in the centre of the picture above on the left and Ernest is picture in the photo bove on the right.




Footnote 1:   The North Staffordshire Regiment, 9th (Pioneers) Battalion were formed in September 1914 at Lichfield as part of Kitchenor’s Third New Army.  Following initial training in the UK, in July 1915 the Regiment were deployed to the Western Front in North Western France.  The Regiment were involved in a number of battles including Ancre, Scarpe, Arleux, Pilkem Ridge, Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Ancre, Albert, Havrincourt, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, Selle, and Sambre.  At the armistice they were located south of Le Quesnoy, Northern France.  (Forces War Records).

Footnote 2:   Rouen Military Hospitals.  During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A Base Supply Depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city.  Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot. A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920. (CWGC website).

Footnote 3.  Peter Capewell, the son of Ernest and nephew of Colin Capewell,  lives in Gorsty Hill, Tean.  Peter Capewell was instrumental in the St Johns Church (Kingsley Moor) Plaque being refurbished and re-sited in St Werburghs Church, Kingsley. Yvonne Eady is the granddaughter of Frederick Capewell. She lives in Northampton and came to our notice when she visited the war memorial to remember Colin Capewell. Both Peter and Yvonne have provided a wealth of information on Ernest and Frederick which will form the basis of a separate article in the next few weeks.