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Monday, 2 November 2015

Part I
Part II

January 1918 saw Uncle Percy raised to the skilled rate of E.P., or Engineers Pay, which would have meant a little extra in his pay packet.

The next entry in his service record is on the 10th March 1918 when he was given four days confined to camp for being absent from 8.20pm to 8.45pm.

Two days later, on the 12th March at Les Attaques, Calais, Percy failed to attend the 6.15pm defaulter's parade and was absent from the 8.20pm roll call to 9.30pm. For this he was awarded nine days Field Punishment No.1, which involved being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, such as a gun wheel.

Field Punishment No.1

Percy would only have been fixed for up to two hours in every twenty four, and not for more than three days in every four. Field Punishment No.1 came to be known as 'crucifixion' and due to its humiliating nature was considered by Tommies as unfair.

In March and April 1918, there are only two entries in Percy's service record, both noting that he joined the Royal Engineers' base depot. But during this period the 21st Division were in action. The Battle of St. Quentin on the 21st -23rd March saw the German army advance forty miles and many Tommies taken prisoner. This was followed immediately on the 24th-25th by the first Battle of Bapaume in which the German army recaputured Baupaume.

On the 10th-11th April 1918 the 21st Division were at the Battle of Messines, where the British army withdrew four miles as the Germans captured Messines. This prompted General Haig's famous 'backs to the wall' message to the troops.

'Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.'
The next entry in Uncle Percy's record reveals that he was wounded on the 22nd April 1918 and transfered to No. 13 General Hospital, based in the Casino in Boulogne with a mild gunshot wound to his face and arms on the 24th April.

From the 17th May to the 2nd of October 1918, Percy was in Britain, beginning with a stay at the Springburn Woodside Central Hospital in Glasgow for thirty-five days, suffering from pneumonia.

Following his period of convalesence Percy was expected to return to a Royal Engineers base but he overstayed his sick furlough from the 2nd  to the 11th July and was confined to barracks for ten days, forfeiting ten days pay.

The 2nd of October found Percy back in France.  Following which the 21st Division were involved in the successful Battle of the Selle from the 7th to the 26th October.

Percy found himself in trouble yet again on the 9th of November, when on active service he was absent for fifteen minutes and was caught drinking in the cafe Le Clas Fleuri during prohibited hours. For this he was deprived of two days pay and was also confined to barracks for seven days.

The Armistice on the 11th of November, found the 21st Division around Berlaimont and they moved via Beaufort to to Amiens by the end of December. Following demobilisation the 21st Division had ceased to exist but Percy's time with the Royal Engineers was to continue for a little longer.

Picture Credit:
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Monday, 19 October 2015

Part 1 Here

The end of March 1917 found Percy and the 97th Field Company Royal Engineers stationed on the Hindenburg Line.

The German army was staging a strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. As they withdrew they destroyed bridges, railways, buildings and roads to hinder the Anglo-French advance.

So there was an urgent need for the Royal Engineers to restore transport and communication links.

Royal Engineers building a pontoon bridge across the Somme River at Peronne, 22 March 1917

Sir Douglas Haig mentioned the contribution of the Royal Engineers in his third Despatch in May 1917.

The systematic destruction of roads, railways and bridges in the evacuated area made unprecedented demands upon the Royal Engineers, already heavily burdened by the work entailed by the preparations for our spring offensive.
Our steady progress, in the face of the great difficulties confronting us, is the best testimony to the energy and thoroughness with which those demands were met.
The bridging of the Somme at Brie, to which reference has already been made, is an example of the nature of the obstacles with which our troops were met and of the rapidity with which those obstacles were overcome.  In this instance six gaps had to be bridged across the canal and river, some of them of considerable width and over a swift-flowing stream.
The work was commenced on the morning of the 18th March, and was carried out night and day in three stages.  By 10.00 p.m. on the same day foot-bridges for infantry had been completed, as already stated.  Medium type bridges for horse transport and cavalry were completed by 5.00 a.m. on the 20th March, and by 2.00 p.m. on the 28th March, or four and a half days after they had been begun, heavy bridges capable of taking all forms of traffic had taken the place of the lighter type.

During the Anglo-French advance, Percy was involved in both the first and second Battles of the Scarpe near Arras. He was to remain in the area around the Hindenburg Line until June 1917.

Whilst based in Les Attaques, Calais, Percy had two more misdemeanors noted on his service record. On the 26th June, when on active service, he was absent from his duty as cook's mate for two hours and received seven days confined to camp and deprivation of three days pay. Two days later, on the 28th June he was awarded fourteen days confined to camp and deprived of seven days pay for being both drunk and absent from duty for eleven hours.

Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20 September 1917

Percy's stay in Calais ended in September 1917 when the 21st Divison became heavily involved in the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as Passchendaele. Percy's involvement began with the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge from the 20th September to the 25th. This was immediately followed on the 26th by the Battle of Polygon Wood which ended on the 3rd of October and continued on the 4th of October by the Battle of Broodseinde.

There was a small respite until the Battle of Poelcapelle on the 9th of October and finally the Second Battle of Passchendaele from the 26th of October to the 10th of November 1917.

Despite being in the thick of battle for three weeks, the Royal Engineers then found themselves at the Battle of Cambrai from the 20th of November to the 3rd of December 1917. This is noteable as the first time tanks were used en masse. 

The British front line before the Battle of Cambrai, 10 Dec. 1917.

Despite the innovative use of tanks, Cambrai was not a success and the war continued into 1918.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

I've recently added my 2xGreat Uncle Percival Richardson to Lives of the First World War.

I've already posted a few posts about Percy, but hadn't got round to adding his details to the site. Luckily Percy's service records are extant unlike many others so I have been able to find out much more about his time as a sapper with the Royal Engineers.

Percy enlisted in Nottingham on the 9th January 1915 and was assigned to the Royal Engineers. During his initial training at Hallfield Camp in Chatham, Kent he was AWOL twice, once for three days and then for five days. He was fined and confined to barracks for both offences.

On the 11th September 1915 he landed in France with 97 Field Company, which made up part of the 21st Division. There isn't anything else noted on his record until the 6th February 1916, but it is possible to follow his route.

Once the Division had gathered, they endured lengthy forced marches to Loos, for 'The Big Push' where they saw action on the 26th September, losing around 3,800 men. Further reading about the battle can be found here.

The next entry in Percy's service record finds him in a military hospital back home in Newark, suffering from an inguinal hernia and septic sore throat. He remained in Newark from the 21st of February to the 26th of June 1916. During this time he overstayed his leave three times, again resulting in fines and confinement to barracks. On the 24th of June 'when on active service disobeying in such manner as to show a wilful defiance of authority, a lawful command given personally by his superior officer in the execution of his office.'  That found him confined to barracks for fourteen days.

In July 1916 Percy rejoined his Unit where, fortunately for him, he had missed the Battle of Albert (part of the Somme offensive) and the Battle of Bazentine Ridge.

Between July 1916 and the next entry in Percy's records in June 1917 he would have been involved in various battles in the Somme area. Firstly the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which saw the first use of tanks on the battlefield, Morval 25th to 28th September, and Le Transloy 1st to the 18th October 1916.

Battle of Flers-Courcelette. 21st September 1916.

Link to Part II

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Friday, 4 September 2015

After finding my 2x Great-Uncle Percival Richardson's marriage to Edith Waby in 1922, the next step was to find a death certificate for him.

I used FreeBMD again, restricting the results to between 1930 and 1975, which fortunately gave only one possible match, in 1965.

When the certificate arrived, it showed that Percival and Edith were living at 72 Belton Road, Hyson Green, Nottingham and that Percival was a retired joiner.

Percival had died in the City Hospital, Nottingham of a number of complaints:
1a Pulmonary oedema
b Congest. left ventricular failure
c Coronary thrombosis
d Uraemia from prostate hypertrophy

I'm not in any rush to Google them to find out the gory details!

I've already searched FreeBMD for any possible children without any success, so it's probable that they didn't have any.

I may try a search of the local newspapers to see if there are any announcements which would help round out the picture of this family.

Previous Posts:
Wedding Wednesday.
Wedding Wednesday Follow-Up.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Woodyard Lane- Photo Credit: The Paul Nix Collection.

I recently came across a short article by the Nottingham Hidden History Team entitled "A Look around Wollaton in the Early 1900s".  The article mentions Woodyard Lane, which brought back some memories of time spent along there when I was (much!) younger.

Woodyard Lane runs across the back of my Grandparent's home on Elstree Drive, crosses the railway lines, passes the Kingswood Methodist Church and becomes Lambourne Drive - finally emerging onto Wollaton Road.

My Grandparents could recall horses pulling huge tree trunks up Woodyard Lane to be processed at Brown's sawmill. I believe this was situated where Siemans is now, but when I lived around there it was a training centre for East Midlands Electricity. They could also remember prisoners of war being marched up the lane during World War II.

I have fond memories of being lifted up so I could peer over the railway bridge & wave at passing train drivers - it made my day if they waved back!

I can recall many walks around the Lane, at one point you could follow the path of the derelict Nottingham Canal, but this has now been filled in and the Torvill & Dean housing estate built on top of it. Torvill Drive follows roughly the path of the canal.

It's nice to see the fishing pond is still there, just off Lambourne Drive. It used to be surrounded by fairly dense woodland, but was built on some years ago, possibly in the mid 1980s if I recall correctly.

We used the short cut Woodyard Lane provides to walk to Wollaton Park & Hall on many occasions, the most recent being the Splendour Festival.

Woodyard Lane - Wollaton end.

Happy memories!

Friday, 26 June 2015

My Great-Great Grandmother Louisa Baker was born in Wilncote, Kettlebrook Staffordshire on 13th September 1852 and baptised the following December at St. Editha in Tamworth. Her parents were Joseph, a collier and his wife, also Louisa (nee Simnett).

So far, I have found four siblings; Henry b.1849, Rebecca b.1858, William b.1861 and Sarah Ann b.1865. I believe Henry married Ellen Peach and worked as an engine driver in and around Burton-On-Trent. Sarah Ann married Adam Tait and also stayed around the Burton-On-Trent area.

The 1861 census was the first following Louisa's birth and finds her living in her maternal grandparent's (Samuel and Ann) home of 29 Guild Street, Burton-On-Trent. She was with her mother and her siblings Henry and William but there was no mention of Rebecca.

According to this census entry Louisa's father, Joseph, had absconded. I haven't as yet been able to find him elsewhere in census searches on both Find My Past and Ancestry.

I have also been unable to find Louisa in the 1871 census, but I have located her parents, Louisa and Joseph, back together and living at 2 Albert Place, Station Street, Burton-On-Trent. Henry, Rebecca, William and Sarah Ann were all living with them; Joseph and Henry were employed as labourers.

Station St. Burton-On-Trent c1880

The next record of Louisa I have found is her marriage to Charles Bateman on the 17th October 1874 at St. Nicholas in Nottingham. I have no idea how she ended up in Nottingham; she was living at 24 Castle Terrace at the time and gave no information as to employment.

St. Nicholas. Nottingham

The 1881 census shows Louisa and Charles living at 1 Crown Street, Nottingham with their first two children, Louisa Rose b.1876 and Charles Nelson b.1879. Charles was employed as a telegraphist at the Post Office and Louisa was working as a mantle maker.

The family moved to 138 Noel Street North sometime between 1881-5 and then on to 86 Burford Road, Hyson Green in 1887. 

Louisa and Charles had five more children; Bertie Fawcett b.1882, Margaret Elizabeth (Marguerite) b.1884, Winifred J b.1886, Florence Mary (my g-grandmother) b.1887 and Dorothy Maud b.1892.

By 1891, they were living at 29 Claypole Road, also in Hyson Green and had a visitor, 7 year old Nellie Lamb from Middlesex, staying with them. Louisa Rose, Margaret, Winifred and Florence were living with their parents at this address in 1901.

Claypole Road 2009. John Sutton

Louisa died on the 22nd January 1905 at home in Claypole Road; her death was attributed to cirrhosis of the liver and exhaustion. She was buried in Nottingham's General Cemetery on the 26th January.

So, I still have some missing information to track down for Louisa; her father's missing census in 1861 and her own missing census in 1871. I'd like to see who else lived at 24 Castle Terrace in 1871 and what the property was being used for, that may give a clue was to how Louisa ended up in Nottingham. And it may also be useful to find out who Nellie Lamb was and if she is connected to the family.

Station St. Picture Credit:
St Nicholas Picture Credit:
Claypole Rd. Picture Credit:John Sutton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Following on from my last post which mentioned my heirloom Nottingham lace bedspread, I have managed to find out a little more about William Bucknall, the man who designed it.

The son of William Bucknall and Henrietta Litchfield, William Jnr was born in Radford, Nottingham in 1861. Both his father William Snr and his paternal grandfather George were lacemakers from Beeston.

William Jnr's early years were spent in Radford, first on Fairfield Street, then Highhurst Street and then on to Denman Street.

On the 18th September 1884 William Jnr married Ann Elizabeth Gell at the Tennyson Street Methodist Chapel in Nottingham and they began their married life at 24 Radford Boulevard later moving to no. 114. By this time William was employed as a lace draughtsman.

They had two children, Clarence William born 4th June 1885 and Annie Louisa Lillian born 19th July 1887. Both children were baptised at the Deligne (or De Ligne) Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, which was quite close to Canning Circus in Nottingham.

Over the following years the family lived at Berridge Road, Lenton Boulevard and Gregory Avenue; all in Nottingham.

According to my Great Aunt Joy, who is Clarence's daughter, William worked at the Flersheim lace factory in the Lace Market from around 1891 until his retirement in 1928. Looking back through the various Nottingham directories, I found William listed as a lace draughtsman between 1891 and 1901.

Between 1910 and 1928 he worked a a lace designer. Joy can recall being told that one of his designs, which may or may not have been the bedspread, was displayed at either a London department store or at a large London exhibition. I haven't yet been able to locate this.

Their last address was 74 Lenton Boulevard, where William's wife, Annie, died on the 14th March 1935 and William himself died on the 14th September 1937.

Flersheim's factory eventually closed on 25th July 1964 and was demolished to make way for a new ring road.

Joy inherited the lace bedspread and took it to Australia with her when she emigrated with her husband, Don Jowett, in the 1960s. A few years ago she very kindly offered it to me and it travelled back to England, where it is now being carefully looked after.

Picture Credit Denman St; Picture The Past
Picture Credit Radford Blvd; Google Street View
Picture Credit Deligne St; Nottstalgia
Picture Credit Lenton Blvd; Google Street View