Posts Tagged ‘WW1’

Wiltshire does its bit

October 13, 2015

Our title is also the title of the latest ‘Wiltshire at War’ touring exhibition which opened at Mere recently.

It is a lovely display of information and photos about how Wiltshire folk supported the war effort,

Two parts of the display are directly related to Market Lavington and Easterton.

The first concerns the jam factory at Easterton who supplied troops and the home market at a time when trade was made hard across the oceans.

image002This is a section of the piece that has been created by Emma who heads up this project.

The other local part concerns ‘Our Day’ which was a charity market raising funds for the British Red Cross. It took place in November 1915.


We’ll look forward to seeing all of this display in Market Lavington and Easterton if at all possible.

September 1915

September 30, 2015

100 Years Ago

By Lyn Dyson

It had been all relatively quiet on the western front for the 1st battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment during August. They started off in St Eloi and moved to St Jean, then La Brique, and ended the month in Hooge. Here the battalion was working on an old advanced trench at the end of August when a party of Germans laying barbed wire came within two yards of their position. The Germans were apparently unaware that the trench was occupied, and laid barbed wire on the parapet. Orders were given to the battalion not to fire and draw attention to their presence.

September opened with heavy artillery bombardment on both sides during which 14 men were killed, 38 wounded and 2 missing, believed killed.   Reginald Marsh of Great Cheverell was one of the men killed.

On 3rd September a message was received from General Haldane:- “Convey to Wiltshire Regt my appreciation of stout hearted manner they stood bombardment yesterday. Regret heavy casualties.”

From the middle of the month the battalion was at Ypres were they were billeted in the ramparts. They spent their nights digging, and found it difficult to sleep during the days because of the continuing heavy bombardment. By 24th September when they received orders to mount an offensive, they were all feeling the strain and lack of sleep. There was a heavy battle on 25th September during which 15 men were killed and53 were wounded.

The following day the battalion was relieved, but during the changeover they were bombed , followed by rifle and machine gun fire along the front. Artillery support was called for, and they promptly opened fire on the enemy, who replied by shelling the trenches. During this time two men were killed and 22 were wounded. One of the killed was William Sainsbury from Easterton.

The 2nd battalion also had a quiet month in August in France. At Les Harisoirs on 6th August they played a football match against the newly arrived 6th Battalion. The score was 2-1 to the 6th Battalion. During the month they were in the trenches at Festubert and ended the month at Cuinchy.

During September they moved to Vermelles where they were engaged in digging trenches during the nights. On 21st September they commenced a bombardment of enemy lines, to which the Germans responded very weakly. The bombardment continued for serveral days. When the battalion was relieved on 23rd September there was a heavy thunder storm, and the men arrived at their billets in Verquin soaked through.

The battalion was ordered to attack on 25th September, having been re-supplied with picks, shovels, bombs, flags. Smoke signals etc. As they advanced they came under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and suffered heavy losses. The following evening they took up new positions immediately behind the German trenches, and on the morning of the 27th they were ordered to advance across the open to support a battalion of the Cameron Highlanders. Again they suffered heavy losses. Some of the men did reach the Highlanders, but it was a misty morning and some took the wrong direction, but were later rounded up.

Reginald James Marsh killed in action 1st September 1915

Reginald was born in in 1892 in Great Cheverell, the son of blacksmith Silas Marsh and his wife Emma. He had an older brother and two older and one younger sisters.

Reginald served initially with the 2nd Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment, arriving in France on 7th October 1914. He was later transferred to the 1st Battalion, and on 1st September he was in the trenches at Hooge in Belgium. At 4.30am the heavy artillery began bombarding the German lines. The enemy retaliated by heavy shelling and the trenches were badly damaged and telephone wires were cut. Four men, including Reginald, were killed and twenty six were wounded.

Reginald is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate.

Corporal William George Sainsbury killed in action 26th September 1915

William Sainsbury was born in Trowbridge in 1880 or 1882, the son of Annie Eliza Sainsbury. Annie married William Strugnell, a mattress maker, in Melksham in 1884, and they had a son Arthur born in 1886. William Strugnell died in 1902, and Annie married Alfred Richardson, a carpenter in 1909. They lived at Jubilee Buildings in Easterton.

William Sainsbury used the name Strugnell during his early life.

In 1911 he was serving with the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment in South Africa, but on census night he was staying with a friend, Frederick Harmon and his family in Slough.

On 26th September the battalion was entrenched at Hooge in Belgium, and about to be relieved by the 4th Royal Fusiliers. The trenches were very wet and so the day was spent in clearing the ground. During the handover, the trenches were greatly congested, and some bombing activity was started. Artillery support was called for and the covering battery promptly opened fire on the Hooge front. The enemy replied by shelling the fire trenches. During this action two men were killed, one of whom was Sgt Sainsbury, and 22 were wounded.

William was buried in the Brandhoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

100 years ago

August 31, 2015

August 1915

by Lyn Dyson

During August we lost three men at Gallipoli, so it seems appropriate to give a brief account of the campaign there. The following paragraphs have been taken from

It is easy to forget, given the quite proper place that Gallipoli has in Australian and New Zealand legend, that Gallipoli was by no means purely an ANZAC affair; in fact, both the rest of the British, and the French army contingents on Gallipoli outnumbered the ANZACs in terms of men deployed and casualties lost.

By 1915 the Western Front was clearly deadlocked. Allied strategy was under scrutiny, with strong arguments mounted for an offensive through the Balkans or even a landing on Germany’s Baltic coast, instead of more costly attacks in France and Belgium.

These ideas were initially side-lined, but in early 1915 the Russians found themselves threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus and appealed for some relief. The British decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, with Constantinople as its objective. By capturing Constantinople, the British hoped to link up with the Russians, knock Turkey out of the war and possibly persuade the Balkan states to join the Allies.

The Gallipoli peninsula lies in Turkey, forming one land side of the Dardanelles Straits, an historic waterway that links the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea. The peninsula is only 10 miles at the widest point and is about 45 miles long. Cape Helles lies at the southernmost tip. The terrain is inhospitable: it is a rocky, scrub-covered area with little water. The hills are steep-sided and are cut into deep gulleys and ravines. Among the hills which lie along the spine of the Peninsula, there are many peaks and valleys. The most important heights are the summits of Achi Baba (709 feet), which overlooks all of Cape Helles; and Sari Bair (971 feet) from which can be seen ANZAC beach and the Asian side of the Straits. At the southernmost (Aegean) tip are a number of small sandy beaches, and there are some small stretches of beach on the Western side too. There are no such beaches on the eastern (Straits) side. To the North-West is a flat area surrounding a salt lake. There were no towns on the peninsula, but there are a number of small settlements, of which Krithia in the south and Bulair in the north are the most important.

The naval attack began on 19 February. Bad weather caused delays and the attack was abandoned after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged. Military assistance was required, but by the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had had ample time to prepare adequate fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.

Against determined opposition, Australian and New Zealand troops won a bridgehead at ‘Anzac Cove’ on the Aegean side of the peninsula. The British, meanwhile, tried to land at five points around Cape Helles.

The landings at Gallipoli resulted in very heavy losses and the troops were unable to move forward.

This standstill led to a political crisis in London between Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the operation’s chief advocate, and Lord Fisher, the First Sea Lord, who had always expressed doubts about it. Fisher demanded that the operation be discontinued and resigned when overruled. The Liberal government was replaced by a coalition and Churchill, though relieved of his former post, remained in the War Council.

Amid sweltering and disease-ridden conditions, the deadlock dragged on into the summer. In July the British reinforced the bridgehead at Anzac Cove and in early August landed more troops at Suvla Bay further to the north, to seize the Sari Bair heights and cut Turkish communications. The offensive and the landings both proved ineffectual within days, faced with waves of costly counter-attacks. The terrain and close fighting did not allow for the dead to be buried. Flies and other vermin flourished in the heat, which caused epidemic sickness.

In October 1915, winter storms caused much damage and human hardship, and in December, a great blizzard – followed by cataclysmic thaw – caused casualties of 10% (15,000 men) throughout the British contingent, and no doubt something similar on the Turkish side.

The War Council remained divided until late 1915 when it was decided to end the campaign. Troops were evacuated in December 1915 and January 1916. Had Gallipoli succeeded, it could have ended Turkey’s participation in the war. As it was, the Turks lost some 300,000 men and the Allies around 214,000, achieving only the diversion of Turkish forces from the Russians. 145,000 of the British casualties at Gallipoli were due to sickness; chief causes being dysentery, diarrhoea, and enteric fever.

Bad leadership, planning and luck, combined with a shortage of shells and inadequate equipment, condemned the Allies to seek a conclusion in the bloody battles of the Western Front. Furthermore, Gallipoli’s very public failure contributed to Asquith’s replacement as Prime Minister by David Lloyd George in December 1916. The consequent effect of diverting troops and supplies sorely needed on the Western Front, particularly for the assault at Loos, is impossible to quantify.

Lt Col John Carden Killed in Action 10th August 1915

John Carden was born in Southam in Warwickshire in 1870, the son of Captain Charles Wilson Carden, and his wife Jane King. Captain Charles Carden was born in Tipperary, and he married Jane in 1855 in St James, Westminster.

By 1861 Charles was retired from the army and living in Leamington Priors, Warwickshire. He and Jane had two sons and a daughter by this time, and employed a cook, a nurse, a nursemaid, a housemaid and a groom.

John was born in 1870, at which time the family was living at Wood Street, Southam, Warwickshire. He was the youngest of nine children and grew up in very comfortable circumstances with a nurse, an under nurse, a cook and a housemaid. By the time he was ten years old the family had moved to the Manor House at Nether Heyford, Northamptonshire, and the household staff included a governess and a ladies maid as well as a cook, a housemaid and a groom.

John continued his education at the Royal Naval School at New Cross in south-east London. From there he went to South Africa and served in the Bulawayo Field Force as a Captain and Adjutant, seeing action in the Matabele Wars, and when the Bulawayo Field Force was disbanded in 1896 he served in the Boer War, before entering the Northern Rhodesia Police Force, becoming the Commandant there around 1906.

In 1909, John was appointed to the Order of St Michael and St George, as a companion.The Order of St Michael and St George is awarded to men and women who render extraordinary or important non-military service in a foreign country. It can also be conferred for important or loyal service in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs.

John married Susan Wake in London in 1909, and their son Andrew was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1910.

He retired from the Rhodesia Police Force in 1912 and returned to England, where he settled with his wife and son in West Lavington. He took up the tenancy of Russell Cottage in Stibb Hill from December 1912. They also had a residence in south -west London at 67 Egerton Gardens.

John volunteered his services when the Great War started and was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 5th battalion Wiltshire Regiment.

At 1am on 10th August the battalion marched on a steep and winding course towards a gulley at Salzli Biet in Gallipoli. The Battalion was guided by a New Zealand Officer and they arrived two hours before sunrise about 3am. The men were told to dig into dugouts and make themselves comfortable as the position was quite safe. Men therefore removed their equipment and rifles. As soon as it was light machine guns opened fire on the men lying in their dug outs. About 1/4 of an hour later there was a rush of Turks from both sides of the depression which drove the men, unarmed and unequipped down the gulley.. The bottom of the gulley was commanded by machine guns and so escape was cut off. Three courses were possible:- 1. To rush past the machine guns down the Sazli Beit, this was tried but in nearly all cases proved fatal. 2. To climb the northern slope of the ravine under fire and try to escape over the top. This was done in a few cases with success. 3. Hide in Gulley till night, this also was done with more success. (A party of 5 men was rescued from the Gulley having been there 16 days – ie:- from Aug 10 – Aug 26th. They reported numbers of men who were wounded were unable to get away and died of exhaustion and starvation. Parties arrived on the beach in fours, fives, and some carried bodies during the 11th, 12th and 13th unarmed, unequipped and demoralised.

At the end of the day at least twelve officers and many men had been killed. Lt Col John Carden was listed as missing. He was later recorded as killed in action. He was mentioned in despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field.

Susan never remarried. She died in 1961 in Haywards Heath in Sussex. Her son Andrew, who was an architect, died in 1996 in Colchester, Essex. He had two children, Vanessa who died in 2003 and Murray.

Corporal Oliver James Draper 3/248 Killed in Action 10th August 1915

Oliver was born in 1874 in Market Lavington, the third of four sons born to Joseph and Eliza Draper from Easterton. Joseph was an agricultural labourer.

At the age of eighteen in 1891, Oliver enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment, and he served there until June 1903. He saw service in the East Indies for a short time in 1895 and was active in the Boer War from 16th December 1899 to August 1902.

Immediately on his return to England, he married Harriet Critcher on 25th August in Easthampstead. They had three children: Joseph born in 1907; Kathleen in 1911; and William in 1914.

As soon as war was declared, Oliver re-enlisted on 27th August. He was discharged in November 1914 as medically unfit. This was obviously a temporary problem, because his health was reviewed and he was finally accepted.

Oliver was involved in the same action as Lt Col John Carden, and lost his life on the same day.

Oliver has no known grave, and is remembered on the Helles memorial at Gallipoli.

Lance Corporal Henry Blagdon PO/6388 Killed in Action 27th August 1915

Henry was one of twelve children born in West Lavington to agricultural labourer James Blagden and his wife Sarah Anne Early. Henry was born in 1871, and he grew up in Duck Street, West Lavington. His father died in 1884, and his mother remarried in 1889. Her new husband was Job Bailey, and the family lived in Church Street, West Lavington.

In 1891 Henry was working as an agricultural labourer. He enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry in Aberdare, Glamorgan on 15th June 1892, and completed his service on 14th June 1913. He was called up on 2nd August 1914 and was a part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from 28th February 1915, serving with the 2nd Royal Marine Battalion. He became part of the Royal Naval Division which landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.

Henry received four good conduct medals and achieved promotion to Lance Corporal.

On 27th August at 5pm the British contingent at Gallipoli, along with detachments from the Australian and New Zealand forces advanced on the Turkish troops with a heavy artillery bombardment. This bombardment seemed effective; but the moment the assailants broke cover they were greeted by an exceeding hot fire from the enemy field guns, rifles, and machine-guns, followed after a brief interval by a shower of heavy shell, some of which, most happily, pitched into the trenches of the Turks.

The battle continued for two days, but there was eventual success with very heavy loss of life on both sides. The result was complete command of the hill overlooking the Anafarta Sagir valley, and safer lateral communications between Anzac and Suvla Bay. Allied casualties in this hotly contested affair amounted to 1,000. It is estimated the Turkish casualties were no less than 5,000. Three Turkish machine-guns and forty six prisoners were taken, as well as three trench mortars, 300 Turkish rifles, 60,000 rounds of ammunition, and 500 bombs. Four hundred acres were added to the territories of Anzac.

Henry was killed in action on 27th August 1915 at Gallipoli, in this battle.

July 1915

July 31, 2015

100 Years Ago

by Lyn Dyson

The 1st battalion of the Wiltshire regiment spent the month taking their turn in the trenches at Hooge and St Eloi, with regular rest periods at Busseboom, Abeele and Dickebusch Huts. It seems to have been a quiet spell in hot weather.

The 2nd battalion moved from Lumbres to Tournehem where they were in good billets for a few days before marching onward to Wizernes. The first part of the month was spent in exercises and marches and parades, and it was not until midnight on 22nd July that they were in the trenches again at Richebourg St Vaast. The weather, which had been hot was now very wet. After a quiet morning on 24th July they came under heavy shell fire in the afternoon, during which two men were killed, including George Love of Market Lavington. Four men were wounded.

Towards the end of the month, things were relatively quiet, with some spasmodic shelling. The men passed the time building up the trenches and thickening the parapets.

George Edward Love killed in action 24th July 1915

George was born in Market Lavington about 1888, the eldest son of general labourer George Love and his wife Sarah Ann. In 1891 the family was living in the Market Place in Market Lavington, but in 1901 they had moved to Northbrook.

In 1911 George was serving in South Africa with the 1st battalion of the Wiltshire regiment. He later transferred to the 2nd battalion, and served in France from 7th October 1914.

In July 1915 the battalion was in the trenches at Richebourg St Vaast in France. After a quiet morning on the 24th July, they came under heavy shell fire in the afternoon, and suffered two men killed and four wounded. One of the fallen was George.

June 1915

June 30, 2015

100 Years Ago

June 1915 was hot and sultry. On 3rd June the 1st battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment marched to Vlamertighe where they stayed in huts. The next day they were in the trenches at Hooge. On 6th June two men were killed when the Germans fired their “Minenwerfer”. These were short range mortars. The Wiltshires responded with Howitzers.

The next day another two men were killed and the battalion was busy putting up large quantities of barbed wire in front of the trenches.

On 8th June another man was killed and three were wounded. There was a thunder storm. After four days in the trenches the battalion marched to Ypres on 9th June for some rest. During this period of rest there was an accident with a lyddite grenade, and two people were killed and 23 injured.

On 15th June, they were back in the trenches, this time on the Menin Road, west of Hooge. They took up their positions at 11.45pm. At 2.50 am the artillery commenced a bombardment on the German trenches between Roulers railway and the southern end of Ypres wood. This was followed by an assault on the German trenches, which was successful. At about 9am on the 16th the Germans began their counter attack. The Wiltshires were on the receiving end of a heavy bombardment, and for about an hour and a half they responded with grenades. However by 10.30, they had used up all their grenades and the Germans succeeded in driving them slowly back down the trench.

They had to retreat in the open, and lost a considerable number of men. A counter charge was organized but without success as the officer and many men were shot down. Charles Pike from West Lavington was one of the men killed on this day. Towards evening the Germans fired some gas shells, but these caused only a temporary inconvenience.

The next day the battalion was relieved and they marched to billets between Ypres and Vlamertinge. During the action the battalion lost two officers killed, and 20 other ranks. Three men were missing believed killed, one hundred and three men were wounded; 3 were wounded and taken as prisoner, and 54 men were missing.

After one night’s rest the battalion was in the trenches again the next day at Hooge. They were there for five days and then had four days rest at Valmertinghe. During this rest period there was another accident when the medical Officer was severely burnt. He subsequently died from his injuries.

On 27th June they were back in the trenches at Hooge. The Germans regularly shelled the trenches over the next few days, during which the battalion lost two men on 29th June, including Ernest Sainsbury from Market Lavington.

On 1st June the 2nd Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment was resting in billets at Robecq. At 4pm they were lined along the road, and subject to a casual inspection by Mr Asquith, the Prime Minister, who was accompanied by General Haig. The battalion remained at rest, moving from Robecq to Hinges to Locon where they stayed until 14th June.

On 14th June they took over the trenches at Givenchy, and at 6pm the following day they started an attack on the German line, during which they managed to take over some German trenches. The next day they were relieved and made their way back to the reserve dugouts where they had breakfast. Over the next few days they marched back to Robecq where they spent eight days in billets. They then received orders to march to Lumbries about 26 miles from Robecq, and they arrived there on 29th June.


Frederick William Wright died 2.6.1915

Fred was born in London around 1874, the son of coachman Frederick Wright. At the age of 21 he enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery on 18th May 1894, and he served for three years. He was working as a labourer prior to his enlistment. Whilst serving with the RFA he was a driver.

In 1896 he married Rhoda Carr in Camberwell. Rhoda was born in Trowbridge. Following his marriage, Fred bought himself out of the army for the sum of £18 in 1897. They had at least four children, Hubert born in 1898, Gaston born in 1899, Alfred born in 1900 and Gladys born in 1901. There were probably more children, but I have been unable to find this family in the 1911 census.

At the outbreak of the war, Fred was one of the first to enlist, signing up on 4th September 1914 at the age of 41. At that time he and his family were living at 5 Church Street, Market Lavington. He gave his occupation as licenced victualler. He was assigned to the 4th Wiltshire Reserve Battalion and saw service at Codford.

Sadly, it soon became clear that Fred wasn’t fit for service. He suffered from a constant night cough with shortness of breath and chest pains, and after three spells of sick leave he was discharged as medically unfit by reason of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. His condition was not caused by his army service, but it was aggravated by the constant wet conditions at Codford camp.

Fred was discharged in February 1915, and he died a few weeks later at home in Market Lavington.  Rhoda never remarried, and died in Trowbridge in 1957.

Charles Pike killed in action 16.6.1915

Charles was born about 1887 in West Lavington. His father was John Pike, a gardener from Wilton, and his mother Eliza came from Suffolk. The family moved around a bit, but were living in West Lavington from about 1886 to 1890. They then settled in the Swindon area.

Charles was working as a compositor in Swindon in 1911. By that time he had been married to Frances Paddon for a little over a year, and they had a son, Charles Edward Pike.

Charles enlisted into the 1st battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment and arrived in France on 18th May 1915. The battalion was then at Elzenwalle in Belgium, and having a relatively quiet time, according to the war diaries.

On 15th June the battalion marched to trenches on the Menin Road, and arrived there about 11.45pm. At 2.50 am that night, the British artillery commenced a bombardment on the german trenches. At around 9am the Germans began bombing heavily. The Wiltshires replied with grenades, and the exchange lasted about one and a half hours. The supply of grenades was exhausted and the battalion was driven back down the trench. They suffered heavy casualties. They then had to fall back in the open and lost a considerable number of men. A counter charge was organised, but without success, as the officer and many men were shot down and the remainder made no progress.

There was further bombardment during the evening, and several gas shells were fired. These apparently caused only temporary inconvenience.

It was during this action that Charles was killed. He has no known grave but is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate memorial.

George H W Griffiths killed in action 22nd June 1915

George was born in 1866 in Handsworth, Birmingham. His father was George Griffiths, a barrister, and his mother was Emma Lucy Harvey.

At an early age, George went to sea. Whilst engaged in this occupation, George had some extreme tattooing performed on his person. On his chest he had a woman’s head and a trophy of flags and a crown; 1887 was inscribed on his right arm; Britannia, cross flags, a ship and a bracelet were on his right forearm; a sailor with a flag was on his left arm; GHWG MAAW in a wreath, and a bust of a woman were on his left forearm. George also had scars above each knee and each foot.

In April 1888 George had obviously had enough of the sea, and he decided to join the army. He enlisted into the 18th Hussars. He was described as 5ft 6ins tall, fresh complexioned with hazel eyes and black hair. He weighed 136 lbs and had a chest measurement of 35 inches. George served for 78 days from April 1888 to July 1888, and then bought himself out for a payment of £10. His commanding officer described him as being regular in his habits with good conduct and a temperate nature.

This good report obviously held George in good stead when he applied again to join the 18th Hussars in February 1891. When signing up he gave his occupation as “Collector”. He served for seven years in India from 1st September 1891 to 28th December 1898. He was discharged from the army on 31st December 1898, but recalled in November 1899. He was sent to South Africa and served throughout the Boer War, until July 1902. He was finally discharged in February 1903.

It was at about this time that George came to West Lavington. He was certainly in the village in 1906 when he married Alice Riddle Burgess. Alice was the daughter of Ebenezer Burgess, who was described as a pathological painter. He must have been quite successful as the family seem to have lived in reasonably affluent circumstances. It may be pure coincidence that George married within a few months of the death of his father. His father left a modest estate of £221.1s with his spinster daughter, Eveline Constance Griffiths as his executor. From this one does gain the impression that maybe George was felt to be a bit of a black sheep.

George joined the 25th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. This was formed in London by the Legion of Frontiersmen on 12.2.1915. The Legion of Frontiersmen was a unique paramilitary group formed in 1905, and was likened to Boy Scouts for grown men! It was a group of adventurers from all over the Empire, with experience in various colonies.

They embarked at Plymouth on 12.2.1915, bound for East Africa, and they arrived in Mombasa on 4th May 1915. The Battalion was part of a Force in Africa which defended British Colonies from German Colonial raids mostly focused in the areas around Lake Tanganyika, British East African and German East African territory.

The first major battle to involve the Frontiersmen was Bukoba in June 1915. The British objective was the destruction of the Bukoba wireless station. Due to Bukoba’s location on the shore of Lake Victoria, it was decided that the raid should take the form of an amphibious assault. The raid was launched from Kisumu in British East Africa on June 21st 1915. Amongst the units chosen for the attack were the Loyal North Lancashire and the 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, more commonly known by the their nickname the 25th ‘Frontiersmen’.

Upon reaching the objective at Bukoba the attackers were accidentally landed in a large swamp and were pinned down by fierce rifle and machine gun fire from the German positions. Finally managing to escape the swamp, the British force was then held up by snipers—who succeeded in stalling the attack until a Captain Meinertzhagen advanced towards them and opened fire, killing one and driving the rest away. The attack continued for a further two days in the town; however, casualties were light on both sides. The Frontiersmen took the town on June 23rd. An Australian member of the unit, Lieutenant Wilbur Dartnell, climbed to the top of the town hall and removed the German Imperial Ensign from the flagpole as a symbolic gesture of victory.

George was killed in action on 22nd June 1915, and is buried in Dar Es Salaam Cemetery.

George and Alice had two children, George Edwin born in 1907 and John Whitmore born in 1918. The family stayed in West Lavington until at least the late 1920s. George was the goalkeeper in the local football team. John became a vicar. I have so far been unable to trace any descendants for either of them, but their aunt, Elise Elizabeth Griffiths married twice and had several children.

Ernest Charles Sainsbury 29th June 1915

Ernest was born in Market Lavington in 1896, the son of agricultural labourer Frederick George Sainsbury, often known as George, and his wife Sarah. Frederick was born in West Lavington, and Sarah came from Easterton. The family lived in the High Street in Easterton, where Ernest grew up with two older sisters and a younger brother.

In 1911 Ernest was working as an agricultural labourer. In 1914 he was already serving in the 1st battalion of the Wiltshire regiment and he arrived in France on 14th August 1914. He was promoted to corporal at some stage after the start of the war.

His battalion was involved in the action at Mons and Ypres. On 29th June, a showery but warm day, the battalion was in the trenches at Hooge in Belgium. They were fired upon with trench mortars, and two men, one of whom was Ernest, were killed and eight men were injured. He was buried in Bedford House Cemetery.

The Story of the Stone

June 10, 2015

Market Lavington’s fine ‘Remember’ stone has a little booklet all to itself.


The Story of the Stone

The book was produced by Mike who could be called ‘the father of the stone’. It was Mike who persuaded a quarry company to give us the stone, found a contractor who could haul it, decided on the location and got permission to place the stone there. He organised the simple yet poignant inscription. Of course, we saw it unveiled, officially, last month.

The booklet is well illustrated and here we see Mike being the first person to sit on the stone and to look out over the fine view.


Mike admires the view

Another photo shows the engraved stone, before the paint had been touched in to the lettering.


The book describes the process, right up to the unveiling. It really is the whole story of the stone.

As we understand it there are still a few copies left – on sale at the village Post Office.





Unveiling the Stone

May 18, 2015

Yesterday we looked at the re-creation of the 1915 Red Cross Market in the village.

The market finished and crowds went to the official unveiling of the First World War Remember Stone situated on The Green, just outside the church. And that’s what this blog post is about.

The event started with the delightful youngsters from St Barnabas School performing some Maypole dances.

Maypole dancing on The Green before the unveiling of the stone - 16th May 2015

Maypole dancing on The Green before the unveiling of the stone – 16th May 2015

We were lucky with our weather and members of the audience could sit and lounge on the grassy slopes.


The action then turned to the stone which had very largely been thought of and acquired and got to the site by villager Mike. The stone was suitably draped in the union flag weighted down by members of the 1st World War Commemoration Committee.


It is intended to be, not just an ornament and simple memorial, but also a seat commanding a fine view over the vale to Salisbury Plain.

Frank, the chairman of the group arrived and by now the official unveilers had taken seats on the stone.


Frank delivered a brief speech in which he explained why and how the stone had been organised.



The crowd looked and listened attentively.


Then came the moment of unveiling which was done by Emma Cheetham who was voted the Community Minded Person of the Year for this year assisted by Taylor and Finlay Kiddle whose Great Great Great Uncle James had been killed in the 1914-18 War.



Then our Rector, James Campbell, added a few well chosen words before people made their way into the church to see the Wiltshire at War exhibition.


Many people felt that this day, May 16th 2015, was history in the making in Market Lavington. The remember stone should last for hundreds of years and serve as a lasting reminder of the sacrifices made in that Great War, 100 years ago.

Arthur Dunford

May 6, 2015

This post is just a tad different in that it doesn’t concern any item we actually have at the museum. Instead it is about a First World War medal dug up by a resident in Stobbarts Place in Market Lavington. It is a standard British Victory medal issued in huge quantities to all those who served. image002 image004 Now these medals have the name, regiment and number of the soldier who gained the medal inscribed around the edge. They are hard to photograph! But below we see the information on this medal. image006 This medal belonged to number 7435, Private… image007 …A J Dunford of the Wiltshire regiment. What we hope to do is trace some descendants or relatives of this man. So let’s try to compile a little family history.

He was Arthur James Dunford. It is going to be hard to be sure about his origins because two people were born and given that name in the Devizes district. One was registered in 1886 and the other in 1888 which makes them both feasible for World War One service. However, we think he was the younger of the two for in 1911 he was in the military and we know he attested in 1905. On that basis we think his father was a Somerset man called Francis.

In 1891 Francis and young Arthur were with Francis’s mother in Somerset but Arthur had been born in Devizes. We think his mother was Jane Dyke. By the 1901 census Francis is back in Devizes and with a new wife who would have been Arthur’s step mother. She would have been Emily Biffin who married Francis in 1896. She had been born in West Lavington in about 1871. On that 1901 census the family lives at 14 Southend Street in Devizes and consists of: Francis Dunford aged 40 Emily Dunford, wife aged 31 Arthur J Dunford, son aged 13 Frederick C Dunford, son aged 4 Dorothy L Dunford, daughter aged 3 Elizabeth E Dunford, daughter aged 6 months.

In 1911 the family lived on Sheep Street in Devizes and had produced the following further children: Francis William Dunford, son aged 9 Florence Lucy Evelyn Dunford, daughter aged 7 Emily Dunford, daughter aged 4 Hilda Alice Maude Dunford, daughter aged 2. With Arthur being a professional soldier it is hard to trace him. He was with the Wiltshire Regiment in South Africa in 1911. We think he died in the Swindon area in 1959. If you are related in any way to Arthur, or can help us trace relatives then we’d love to hear from you.

Alec Paterson

May 5, 2015

A Canadian soldier of The Great War

A recent web search by our curator found him something long wanted. It was documentary evidence that Lavington Manor house had been used as a military hospital by the Canadians. Oral history had said this was the case, but now one soldier’s medical record confirms it was used.

Hospital record for Alec Paterson Click it to see a much larger version of the image.

Hospital record for Alec Paterson
Click it to see a much larger version of the image.

The top entry tells us that Alec spent three days in Lavington Manor, from the ninth to the twelfth of January 1915 suffering from influenza – described as a mild attack due to wet and exposure. He made a good recovery.

Alec was an officer – a lieutenant in the 2nd battery of the Canadian Field Artillery – and had been leading his men in training across the windswept downland of Salisbury Plain through one of the wettest winters on record. Of course, we know that flu is a viral infection and is not actually due to weather conditions although it may flourish in certain environments.

Anyway, Lieutenant Paterson was able to leave Wiltshire for France on 10th February 1915. This is an extract from the Canadian war diary.

War diary for 10th February. The Canadians are off to the war. Click to enlarge.

War diary for 10th February. The Canadians are off to the war.
Click to enlarge.

By this time the HQ had moved to Market Lavington which is why the entry was made there. But we believe the trains left from Patney and Chirton station which would have offered a more direct route to Avonmouth for the strangely circuitous sea voyage to the continent.

Despite the dislocated shoulder and the effects of a gas attack mentioned in the hospital report, Alec survived the war by which time he had risen to the rank of Major. And it is in that uniform that we see him here.

Alec Paterson after his promotion to Major

Alec Paterson after his promotion to Major

Now to redirect readers to the blog produced by Alec’s grandson, Robert.

You can click here to find the post our curator discovered and from that you can navigate to all sorts of fascinating pages about the Canadians whilst still in Canada, in Wiltshire and then on to the hell of Vimy Ridge.

Many thanks to Robert for allowing us to share and use his family information.

April 1915

April 29, 2015

100 Years ago

At the end of March the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment moved to Dickebush in Belgium where they remained throughout April, taking turns in trenches at Voormezeel and Eizenwalle. It was usually quite quiet by day, but there was often a good deal of rifle fire during the nights. From 23rd April, they were aware of heavy gun fire to the north of Ypres. There were few casualties during April, and none from our villages.

The 2nd Battalion marched to La Gorgue in France on 31st March. They gave a concert in the Hotel de Ville in La Gorgue on 6th April. It was such a success they had to do a repeat performance the next night. They took their turn in trenches, but things seem to have been relatively quiet. Several men went down with measles. On 28th April they marched to Strazeele. A number of troops fell out on the march, owing to hot weather, and the long period of trench life, which was taking its toll.

Lyn Dyson