The Upton Brothers: Percy William (1882–1915) and Thomas Anthony (1886–1918)

G/4874 Private Percy William Upton,
2/Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment),
Killed in Action, date of death presumed as 25 September 1915, in Flanders,
Commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

L/7327 Lance Serjeant Thomas Anthony Upton,
7/Battalion, The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment),
Killed in Action, 26 June 1918, in France.
Buried at Montigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme.

The parents of the Upton brothers were William Upton, and his wife Jane Littlechild. William Upton was, like his parents before him, a native of Sussex, and although Jane was also born there, her father had moved there from his birthplace, Dartford. William and Jane were married in Brighton in 1881, and it was that there that the first three of their sons were born.  They had four sons in all: Percy William, Ernest George, and Thomas Anthony were followed, after a longish gap, by William Henry, who was born in the Halling district, in Kent, in 1896.

William Henry, is likely to have been named, not after his father, but after his maternal grandfather, William Henry Fairhall Littlechild.  Jane’s father was a Coach Painter at the Terminus in Brighton and Jane was the fifth of the six children of William Littlechild’s first marriage to Rachel Avey. Her mother died in 1865, not long after Jane’s seventh birthday, and four years later, her father married Mary Ann Brown, by whom he had several more children.  Before her marriage to William Upton, Jane had been working locally as a live-in domestic servant.

By 1891 William and Jane Upton had moved, with their sons, to Cutridge Hill in Luddesdown, Kent There, William was employed as a groom, with the three boys attending a local school.  The 1901 census has the family near Orpington, where William was working as a farm foreman. All four sons were to start off their working lives in agriculture. Percy was recorded in that census as a “horseman on a farm” with both Ernest and Thomas employed as agricultural labourers.

2 Evelyn Terrace—where the Uptons lived

2 Evelyn Terrace—where the Uptons lived

At some point in the next five years, William and Jane made their second, but final move, from Kent to Ham, together with, as far as we can tell, only the two youngest sons, Thomas and William, .  There is no record of their eldest sons, Percy and Ernest, having lived in Ham: it is likely that Percy remained in Kent, where he was married in Orpington, in 1907, to Ellen Patterson. Ernest may have moved from Orpington at the same time, and we know that he found work in Fulham, where he was living in 1911, so he would have been able to maintain close contact with his parents and younger brothers.

Percy William Upton married Ellen Patterson in Orpington on Christmas Day 1907, the 25th of December being one of the few days in the year that a farm labourer might be allowed to take time off. Percy and his wife were recorded in 1911 in the hamlet of Well Hill, which is near Chelsfield, and on the outskirts of Orpington.   He continued to work with horses, as a waggoner, living at Well Hill until his enlistment in “The Queen’s” (the Royal West Surrey Regiment) on 22 February 1915. It is important to record that Percy enlisted as a volunteer—it was to be another year before conscription was introduced.  At the time his younger brothers, Thomas & William were serving in the Regular Army, which had suffered terrible losses in the early months of the war, and this may have been what triggered Percy’s decision to enlist. He was the last of the Upton boys to sign up, just weeks after Ernest..

Initially Percy received his military training in the 3rd Battalion of The Queen’s, before being posted to the 2nd Battalion on 29 June 1915.   Less than three months later, on 25 September 1915, he was reported missing in action in the Battle of Loos.

Only two scorched fragments of Percy’s service records survive.  His medal index card does not indicate to which company of the 7th Battalion he was attached so we cannot reconstruct his movements on the day he lost his life.

We can, however, get an indication of the events surrounding his death from the War Diary of his battalion.  We know, for example, that on the eve of battle, the battalion consisted of 29 officers, and 991 men of other ranks, with a further 4 in hospital, and that the soldiers’ greatcoats were collected from the men at 10 p.m. that evening, that they moved forward to the trenches at 11.15, and were all in position at LANCASTER LINES by 3.a.m.

Following forty minutes’ of bombardment of the enemy’s position, the battalion moved forward at 6.30 a.m.  C Company, alone of all the companies, was fairly successful in crossing over the enemy’s first and second lines of trenches “without much opposition.”  The other three companies, however, met with “considerable” opposition from the German first line, and, “while outflanking and bombing” the trenches, suffered many casualties, but managed, by 11 a.m., to establish themselves in some German trenches towards CITE ST ELIE.  The diary notes that the battalion had sustained “many casualties” including several officers.

It appears that part of the battalion’s diary for 25 September, and any entries on 26 September, and part of the entry for 27 September are missing. An Appendix within the war diary, contains a typed extract of a report written by Captain Philpot of C Company.  This provides additional information about the action on 25 September but is too lengthy to be included here. As a General was hit during this action, and was presumably missing, Captain Philpot may have been required to compile a full report on what he had observed.  It would be interesting to know what else the original report revealed.

The Roll Call figures for the 7th Battalion, recorded on 27 September, note 19 officers and 750 men of ‘other ranks’.  Three days’ later, three men who had also been presumed missing, managed to make their way back to the battalion. Percy was not amongst them.

On 4 November 1916, Percy was eventually presumed to have been killed in action on the date of his being reported missing.   Percy’s widow, Ellen, became the wife of William Burt in 1918.

The 1911 census reveals that Thomas Anthony Upton was living with this parents at 2 Evelyn Terrace, and working as a ‘cowman’. Early in 1913, he married Hilda Elizabeth Strange, whom he had probably met in Kingston.  Hilda had been born in Manchester, but her family had moved to Hampton Wick, and Hilda had found work in Norbiton.  While Thomas’s service record has not survived, his marriage to Hilda in Sevenoaks could suggest that, by the time of his marriage, he had already enlisted in “The Queen’s Own” (Royal West Kent Regiment).  Their only child, Ernest Thomas, was born in Sevenoaks on 6 April 1914.

When war was declared on 4 August that year, Thomas was serving as a private in his regiment’s 1st Battalion, which was then stationed in Dublin.  It was amongst the first to be mobilised for France, and just eleven days later, on 15 August, his battalion dis-embarked at Le Havre. By dint of this, Thomas qualified for the 1914 Star medal as well as the full suite awarded to those who enlisted after 1914.  The regimental honours roll records his subsequent service in the 11th Battalion, before his posting to the 7th Battalion. I have not been able to establish the dates on which he was posted to the 11th and 7th Battalions, but both the 1st and 11th saw service in Italy between November 1917 and March or April 1918, so it is possible that Thomas also served in Italy.

There are some clues, however, as to when he may have been transferred to the 7th Battalion. The history of the regiment notes that, in April 1918, “the hastily replenished 7th Battalion was going back into the fighting line south of the Somme” (p.387). This replenishment is likely to have been the transfer of soldiers from other battalions of The Queen’s Own, following the Kaiserschlacht of March 1918, also known as the 1918 Spring Offensive, when the British Army suffered grievous losses.   The 7th Battalion had been involved in heavy fighting in April 1918, but over the next three months, had suffered relatively few casualties, which had provided an opportunity to bring together the newly drafted men and the Old Timers into a “homogenous unit ready for hard fighting”.  According to Atkinson, the battalion had had tours “in and out of the Line” without either “striking incidents or heavy casualties” right through to early August.

By the time of his death, Thomas had been appointed Lance-Serjeant and is recorded as such on the few Army records for him which survived.   A Lance-Serjeant is not a rank, but those appointed to this position, would have attained the rank of corporal.  Thomas would have worn a sergeant’s stripes, carried out the typical duties of a sergeant, and had a sergeant’s responsibilities but would have been paid as a corporal; this appointment, however, was often a step towards promotion.

The battalion’s war diary is of little help in establishing what action might have occurred on 26 June 1918 to cause his death.  The pages from about mid-May right through June and beyond are missing.  There is however a typed day by day list for June, but that is not helpful either.  It tells us that the 7th Battalion was in the LINE on 25 June, when working parties under the supervision of the Royal Engineers had been making improvements to the JAKES Trench.  The following day, the day on which Thomas died, they had been continuing with work on the JAKES Trench and had then relieved the 8th Battalion on the Front Line.  In connection with 26 June, there is a note of an Appendix (APP 115) but all the Appendices between APP 93 (15 May) and APP 123 (6 August) turn out to be missing from the diary.

Since Thomas’s death, on 26 June 1918, was classified as ‘killed in action,’ it must have involved some contact with the enemy.  He was the first Allied soldier to be buried in the new Extension to the Montigny Communal Cemetery.  His widow, Hilda, appears not have remarried and is possibly the Hilda E Upton, whose death was registered in Staines in 1940.  The death of their son, Ernest Thomas, was registered in Wandsworth in 1985.

All four children of William and Jane Upton enlisted, the younger two in the Regular Army, before the outbreak of war, and the older two as volunteers, within six months of the outbreak of war. Their exposure to danger over such a long period must have caused considerable anxiety for their parents.  It seems appropriate to acknowledge here, also, the service of the two brothers who survived.

Ernest George Upton (1884–1950?) enlisted the month before Percy.  By trade, a Motor Lorry Driver, Ernest was still living in Fulham when war broke out.  He ‘took the oath’ on 18 January 1915, and joined up at Grove Park, the Army Service Corps Depot, the following day.  He was immediately given a week’s leave until the 26th, and, somewhat surprisingly, embarked at Avonmouth the following day. On arrival he was sent to the Motor Transport Base at Rouen.  Reclassified as a Storekeeper in 1916, Ernest continued to serve abroad until his demobilisation in June 1919, whereupon he was transferred to the Army Reserve.

The Regimental Roll for the East Surrey Regiment shows that their youngest son, William Henry Upton (1896–1986), enlisted on 3 December 1913. His marriage to Edith Hockley in 1920 is listed on the roll, as is the birth of their eldest child, Edith Jane, born in 1921, but the children born after Edith Jane are not recorded.  It is possible that William may have continued in the Army after the War, or have been transferred to the Army Reserve, as many soldiers were.  The roll also notes his re-enlisting in the Territorial Army in 1931 when he would have been in his mid-thirties.

The Upton parents continued to live at 2 Evelyn Terrace in Ham Street until William’s death, aged 74, in January 1938.  He was buried at Ham St Andrew, whose burial register gives the Evelyn Terrace address.  Jane Upton died in March 1939, aged 81, and was also buried at Ham St Andrew.  However, the address given in the register for Jane’s residence at the time of her death, was 69 Hornsey Lane, Highgate, which may have been the address of relatives, or of a nursing home.  (The Victorian building at this address today is rather grand, though the street may have been re-numbered since—as has been the case with Ham.)

Thomas had at least one grandchild. The Upton brothers are also still remembered by the grandchildren of their brother William.

Sources
Atkinson, C.T., The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment): 1914–1919, London, 1924. Note that if you are looking for this book in a library, the Dewey Code of 356.10941 may be followed by [50th}.  There are a large number of military histories sharing this code, so the old Foot Regiment number, rather than the author’s surname, is used to sort the books by regiment.
The National Archives, WO 95/1664/1, ‘2 Bn The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)’ 1 August 1914–31 December 1915.
The National Archives, WO 95/2040/2, ‘7 Bn The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)’, 1 June 1918–30 April 1919.

Researchers
Christine Williams spoke about our research into the Upton Brothers at the Commemoration on Remembrance Day 2014 at Ham Library; genealogical and military research since then has been done by Margaret Frood.

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1 July 1916: Remember Ham’s “Bert” Clarke


These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be…
                                Rupert Brooke (1887–1915)

If you are watching the Commemoration at the Thiepval Memorial to British and South African soldiers, killed on the Somme, but who have no known grave, you might like to be reminded about Ham’s Herbert Clarke, who died 100 years ago today, at Beaumont Hamel, in fighting near the very spot at which the Commemoration is being held.

20 000 men lost their lives on 1 July 1916 in the opening hours of the Battle of the Somme. Some of the heartbreak of the losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, one hundred years ago today, came to a family in Ham Street.  Herbert Clarke was one of those who laid the world away and gave up the years to be.

 I uploaded a post about him a year ago.  That post will tell you about Bert’s background, his working life, his family, where they lived in Ham, and also about the engagement in which he was killed one hundred years ago today.

Here in Ham, we continue to remember Herbert.  I have recently been working, together with local historians, Keith Mulberry and Graham Clark, and with helpful contributions from others on the Ham & Petersham Social Histories and Memories Group, to pinpoint the gardeners’ bothy in the grounds of Ham House.

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The Clarkes of Oak Lodge

Sydney Alfred Clarke (1880–1940)
and his wife Dorothy Mabel Austin Pittar (1900–1940)
killed at Oak Lodge as a result of enemy action, 29 November 1940.

Oak Lodge © Matthew Rees

Oak Lodge © Matthew Rees

I wrote last year, in the Ham and Petersham Magazine, about two properties in Ham which were linked to the loss of more than a single individual, taking into account here, the losses sustained in one or both World Wars.  But there are others, and one of the other properties is Oak Lodge.  Ernest Parsons was employed there before he enlisted in the First World War; Sydney and Dorothy Clarke were killed when the house sustained a direct hit in the Second World War.

It was not quite the Oak Lodge you see above, because, when the war damage was eventually reinstated, the house was converted into two semi-detached houses. I’m using another view of Oak Lodge, taken by Matthew Rees, for this post, but still hope to find, and obtain permission to use, a picture of the house as it appeared before 1940.

Sydney Clarke, a stockbroker, was born in Kent in 1880.  He married, firstly, in London in 1908, Dorothy Matesdorf, the daughter of an Austrian immigrant. The couple went on to have two daughters, Clarita and Sybil, and a son, Theodore with Clarita and Theodore being named after their maternal grandparents, and Sybil after  her mother’s only sibling. (Clarita was known by her middle name, Pamela.)

In 1934 Sydney married a second time, in Dorset, another Dorothy, the daughter of Charles William Erskine Pittar and Mabel Frances Austin.  She was born in Bengal on 28 July 1900, and the family is likely to have been living in the city of Barisal, where she was baptised Dorothy Mabel Austin five weeks later.

Sydney and Dorothy were killed six days after the death of Louisa Speirs and Michael Jux. Like the four members of the Naylor family—killed or fatally injured when a bomb landed in their dining room at The Thatch, Petersham, in October 1940—Sydney and Dorothy Clarke died when a large bomb landed in their dining room on 29 November 1940, while they were having their evening meal. Their dog was also killed.  In their case, the bomb did not explode, and they were killed, according to a report in the local newspaper, “by concussion”.

Here is the account as it appeared a week later, in the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

KILLED BY CONCUSSION
Havoc by Unexploded Bomb

High explosive, incendiary, and delayed action bombs were dropped in one district during a particularly heavy night raid recently. One bomb, 5ft high by 18in. wide, fell on the dining room of the house belonging to Mr Sydney Clarke.  He and his wife, who were having dinner, were killed instantly by the concussion, although the bomb did not explode.  Their dog also was killed.  Three days later a detachment of the Bomb Disposal Squad of the R[oyal] E[ngineers] removed the bomb.

Dorothy Pittar was no stranger herself to the effects of war. Her brother, Lieut. Charles Austin Pittar M.C., 1 Battalion, The Coldstream Guards, had distinguished himself in WW1 and was awarded the Military Cross in November 1918. This link takes you to a post which provides more detail about Dorothy’s brother.  Dorothy and Sydney had no children, so she was survived only by her mother, who lived until 1955.

Sydney’s son-in-law,  a Ham resident missed out on the memorial
There is a fourth serviceman associated with Oak Lodge, who is not recorded on the Ham War Memorial. I will eventually post about and record the natives or residents of Ham who lost their lives while on active service but who are not recorded on Ham’s War Memorial.

Sydney Clarke’s son-in-law, Lieutenant Commander David Byam Shaw, O.B.E., (1906–1941),  was the husband of Clarita Pamela Clarke, and the father of Ann Dalrymple Byam Shaw and Nicholas Glencairn Byam Shaw.  The Shaws lived at Holly Bush Corner, Ham Common, near Latchmere House and just a short walk away from the home of Pamela’s father and stepmother.

Hollybush Corner was also owned by the Dysarts and the 1949 Sale Catalogue records that the then tenant, Mr A.M. Symington, had a lease dating from 29 September 1941. In the case of David Byam Shaw, this indicates that the family’s move from Ham to Putney, following the death of the Clarkes, had occurred a few months before David’s death in 1941 when HMS Stanley was torpedoed.

The Byam Shaws were therefore not a resident at the time of David’s death, but I will overlook that technicality.  Here’s why. Far from rejecting Ham, and moving to Putney, which itself was certainly not as safe as Ham, it is likely that the move was an inevitable response to the family tragedy.  The mere sight of Oak Lodge, damaged and forlorn, would have triggered distressing reminders of the tragedy for Sydney’s daughter and her young children.

A bit more about Oak Lodge, post-war
Contrary to what the newspaper suggests, the house did not ‘belong’ to the Clarkes, who were tenants in the property which was owned by Buckminster Estates/the Dysarts.  It was not until May 1946 that plans were submitted for the “reinstatement of war damage” and to divide Oak Lodge into two, with the part not visible in the above photo, known thereafter as Oak Lodge Cottage.  Both properties went under the hammer in 1949.

I note that the plans were drawn up by Partridge and Daniel, the firm of architects with which Ronald Daniel was associated, and which seems to have continued to bear his name.

Sources
Rees, M., ‘A Fresh Look at Ham House’, http://hamphotos.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/a-fresh-look-at-oak-lodge.html, accessed 23/5/2015.
‘Killed by Concussion’, Richmond and Twickenham Times, 7 December 1940, p.8

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Frederick Joseph Edmund Carter: Ham’s young Home Guard

Frederick Joseph Edmund Carter (c. 1924–1942)
Home Guard,
Drowned, aged 18, while carrying out his duties, 19 March 1942,
at Teddington Lock.

Followers of Pike in Dad’s Army might be interested to know that Ham had at least one teenager in its Home Guard.  This week it will be 74 years since Frederick Carter lost his life on 19 March 1942—he is the F.J.E. Carter commemorated on Ham’s War Memorial.

The birth of ‘Frederick Joseph Edmund Carter’ was registered in Chelsea in the first quarter of 1924 i.e. indicating that his birth occurred at some point between mid-November 1923 and 31 March 1924.  He was the son of Frederick William Carter and his wife, Violet, who had married in Chelsea in 1922 and continued to live there for many years.

Initially I thought the ‘Edmund’ amongst Frederick’s names was probably in honour of his uncle, Corporal Edmund Charles Neighbour, K.R.R.C, who was killed on active service on 17 July 1916 in the opening weeks of the Battle of the Somme.  Frederick’s mother, Violet,  was the youngest child of John Thomas Neighbour and his wife, Jane Ann East, and Edmund was their second youngest child, so perhaps particularly close to Violet who was born after her father’s death.  However, having located his grandparents’ marriage certificate, I have realised that ‘Joseph’ could also have been for Violet’s paternal grandfather and the ‘Edmund’ for her maternal grandfather.

The 1938 Electoral Rolls for Chelsea show Frederick William Carter and Violet Carter living at 6 Gladstone House, 56 Tetcott Road, Chelsea. I think it highly likely that they are Frederick’s parents and having found the same couple on the Electoral Roll in Chelsea in previous rolls, and given the long connection of the Neighbour family with Chelsea, it is safe to speculate that Chelsea is where Frederick grew up.  The Tetcott Road address is likely to be where Frederick and his parents living before he moved to Ham.

1941: Ham's Home Guard © Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive

1941: Ham’s Home Guard
© Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive

As he had no obvious connection to Ham, I was initially puzzled about what might have taken him to Ham. Frederick was a fitter by trade, so I thought it possible that he was regarded as doing essential work for the war effort, and perhaps employed at the Leyland factory.  His joining the Home Guard, with long hours of overnight service, preceded and followed by the normal working day of a tool-maker, indicates his willingness to serve the community in which he was a resident.  The accompanying photograph showing the Home Guard, sitting near the Emergency Sanitation Huts, is a reminder of the extensive Civil Defence exercises held in Ham in 1941 and Frederick may well have been among those participating in this exercise. Some of them do look rather young!

Frederick was living in this house at the time of his death.

Frederick was living in this house at the time of his death.

At the time of his death, Frederick was living at 137 Tudor Drive, in the household of Charles Francis and Jane Ann Neighbour.  Initially I assumed, since he was not living with his parents, that Frederick was boarding or lodging with the family living at 137 Tudor Drive. Further research revealed that the adults shown in the household on the Electoral Roll, rather than being husband and wife, were mother and son. Jane Ann  turned out to be Frederick’s maternal grandmother, while Charles Francis, Jane’s son by her second marriage, was the half-brother of Frederick’s mother, Violet.

The Richmond and Twickenham Times carried two reports on the circumstances surrounding Frederick’s death on Thursday 19 March.  A brief report, two days after his death, under the heading HOME GUARD DROWNED read as follows:

‘Comrades’ Search After Hearing Cries’

Hearing cries of distress late on Thursday night, Home Guards of the Upper Thames Patrol at Teddington Lock, searched the river bank and scanned the river without discovering anything wrong.

One of their colleagues, Mr Frederick Joseph Edmund Carter, 18 years of age, of 137 Tudor-drive, Kingston, was due to come on duty at that time, and as he did not arrive, the river was dragged and his body was recovered from the lock cut nearly four hours later.

It is assumed that Mr Carter must have stumbled while wheeling his bicycle across the sluice gates and fallen into the river and been dragged down by the weight of his equipment.

An inquest will be held on Tuesday.

The report of the inquest in the following Saturday’s edition, provided more information. It, too, appeared under the heading HOME GUARD DROWNED and with one of the sub-headings, UNHEARD AND UNSEEN, prominently capitalised.

Crossing the lock gates at Teddington on a pitch black night Thursday last week, Frederick Joseph Edmund Carter, 18-years-old toolmaker and a member of the Home Guard, of 137 Tudor-drive Kingston, fell into the Thames and was drowned.

No one saw or heard him fall but at the inquest at Richmond on Tuesday, Mr R.H. Turk, his company commander, advanced the theory that Carter was carrying his bicycle and that this got caught in the wheel of some other part of the lock’s mechanism and caused him to fall. The cycle was recovered from the river on the Surrey side of the lock gates and shortly afterwards the body was found near the same spot.

Lance-Corporal C.N. Leeds, 78, St Alban’s-road, Kingston, who was in charge of the guard, said visibility was only about two yards.  He heard four or five cries of “Oh” and turned the guard out.  The Area was searched with torches but there was no sign of anyone having approached the river.  At about midnight the incident was reported to headquarters and witness then heard for the first time that Carter had been sent from headquarters and was overdue.  Further search was then made.

The Coroner (Dr C.F.J.Baron) said it seemed remarkable that Carter did not make his presence heard or seen before the guard heard his cry.  He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

Major J.N. Clemow, in an expression of regret, said the Home Guard had lost a keen and exceedingly able member.

Reading the newspaper reports on Frederick’s death, one wonders whether more could not have been done to locate the source of the calls for help, though if he was pulled under by the weight of his equipment, and that had nothing more than torches to assist them.

Frederick died on 19 March 1942 and was buried exactly a week later, in the Churchyard of St Andrew’s, where eleven years later, his grandmother, Jane, was buried.

 

Sources

‘Home Guard Drowned: Comrades’ Search After Hearing Cries,’ Surrey Comet, 21 March 1942, p.5.

‘Home Guard Drowned: Crossing Lock Gates on Dark Night,’ Surrey Comet, 28 March 1942, p.5.

Richmond Local Studies Library and Archive, ‘Richmond Civil Defence Records 1938–1945, RCD 12, ‘Exercise Ham 1941, Emergency Sanitation and Detachment of Home Guard’.  (Used with permission.)

Note:  Are you a relative of Frederick Carter?
In 1936, Jane’s second husband, William James Neighbour—who was Frederick’s great uncle and also his step-grandfather—was the first of this Tudor Drive household to be buried at St Andrew’s.  Relatives of the Neighbours might be interested in reading an explanation of this family’s relationships on my family history blog.

 

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Mead Road 1940: Louisa Spiers and Michael James Jux

Louisa Spiers née Willis,(1888–1940),
 wife of Reginald Spiers (1891–1961)

Michael James Jux (1938–1940),
son of Ernest James Jux and Dorothy Beatrice Lovesey,
brother of Alan Jux.

Michael James Jux, aged 2 © Alan Jux

Michael James Jux, aged 2
© Alan Jux

The parish’s first civilian deaths from enemy action, occurred on the night of 23 November 1940, when several high explosive bombs fell on Ham, one of them landing on 29 Mead Road, where Michael Jux and his parents were visiting his father’s aunt, Louisa Spiers. The Juxes lived not far from Louisa, at 158 Dukes Avenue. That bomb resulted in the death of Michael Jux and of his great aunt, Louisa (née Willis), the sister of his grandmother, Eliza (‘Lizzie’) Jux.

Louisa and Lizzie were daughters of James Edward Willis and his wife, Emma Wadlow Grimes.  Their father, a Covent Garden porter, died when Louisa, the youngest in the family, was just three years old with the inevitable consequence that their mother struggled to support her young family. The 1901 census returns hint at this, showing the youngest children in the family,  Matilda and Louisa, as boarders at Rockford House, a “Temporary School” in Cricklewood, whilst their widowed mother was in a “Temporary Infirmary” as an inmate—as distinct from a patient—at Rockhall, also in Cricklewood, with all three of them under the care of the Willesden Guardians.

Union Court in 2015 © Margaret Frood

Union Court in 2015
© Margaret Frood

In 1903, Louisa’s sister, Lizzie, married Edward Jux in the Parish Church in Richmond, the couple giving their address as Union Court.   I cannot now walk through Union Court without associating it with the loss sustained by this family, and the double blow for Eliza, who lost both her sister and her grandson.  Not surprisingly, with her elder sister settled in Richmond, Louisa moved there from Willesden, finding employment at 54 Queen’s Road as a Domestic Nurse in the household of Harry Reynell, a retired Stockjobber.  In 1915 Louisa married Reginald Spiers, then a stoker in the Royal Navy; the couple went on to have tw0 sons, Reginald James (1916–1976) and Francis Grimes (1919–1965), and a daughter, Marguerite Louisa (1921–1986), later known as “Jackie.”

Michael’s parents were injured in the explosion which took the lives of their aunt and their son. They had to wait a considerable time before they could be dug out of the ruins, because firemen had first to attend to fire caused by a burst gas main.  Once rescued, Ernest and Dorothy Jux were taken to a local hospital.

It had indeed been a bad day for the residents of Mead Road. Another family in the street, the Newmans, also had to be dug out, after their house was hit by one of the bombs and demolished. Their daughter sustained a head wound that was serious enough to require hospitalisation.

The Vicar of Ham officiated at the joint funeral for Louisa and Michael, which took place five days later at Richmond Cemetery. Louisa and her nephew were interred there in the same grave. This cemetery may have been chosen for their resting place because of the long connection of the Jux family with Richmond.

On the very day of Louisa and Michael’s deaths, the Richmond & Twickenham Times included a report on a recent family celebration.   This happy event had been the marriage, the previous Saturday in St Matthias’s Church, of Michael’s uncle, Edward Jux “of 54 Queen’s Road”—the same address at which Louisa had been working thirty years previously—and Miss Mabel Kirby.  It noted also that Mr Ernest Jux (Michael’s father) had been his brother’s best man. Perhaps the family had been visiting Louisa that evening to share that newspaper report, or photographs taken at the wedding. Perhaps she had been babysitting for them.  And then the air raid warning sounded.

I was struck by the discovery that, on the day they died, the air raid sirens sounded in Ham for the 379th time.  Most of those warnings would have sounded over the previous three months, and anxiety in Ham would also have been exacerbated by residents’ awareness of the four civilian deaths, a month before, in Petersham.  Ham families would have been only too aware of the consequences of bombing, reinforced by the experience of the evacuees from the East End, billeted, temporarily, in Ham and Petersham, while awaiting evacuation to safer areas.

Michael was only two years old so the last few months of his short life would have been punctuated by those sirens and he may well have sensed any stress that sound evoked in others.   At that stage, he was his parents’ only child—indeed it was not until some years after the end of the war that their second son, Alan, was born.  This tragic experience and their loss of Michael was not something which, as loving parents, they allowed to overshadow Alan’s life, and they rarely mentioned it to him. He noticed, however, the reaction of his mother, throughout her life, to the sound of any siren.

Apart from the deaths of Louisa and Michael, and the injury to the Newmans’ daughter, two other families in Mead Road were affected by the loss of their children on active service during the Second World War. Corporal William Henry Burkmar had died earlier that year, on 29 May, in Belgium, while Aircraftwoman Irene Daisy Collett was killed in 1943. William’s parents lived at 2 Mead Road and the Colletts at number 26.

On Remembrance Day last year, a group of Year 6 children, including two who live in Mead Road, conducted their own Remembrance Ceremony, paying tribute to those commemorated on the War Memorial. Amongst the photographs they were shown of people commemorated on the War Memorial, was one of Michael, given to me by his brother, after our visit to the grave of Michael and Louisa in Richmond Cemetery.

Ham’s GI bride
Louisa’s daughter, still in her teens when her mother died, served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. After the war, she was able to make a fresh start in America, with marriage to Steve Peter Jarett, a native of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, whom she had met in Algiers, when she was serving there with the Air Force and he with the U.S. Air Force. Her naturalisation record shows that she arrived in New York on board the Queen Elizabeth on 16 October 1947.  At that time the vessel was deployed in transporting servicemen and GI brides back to the USA.  Jackie (as Marguerite was known) and Steve married three weeks later, in Los Angeles, the city to which his sisters and their husbands had emigrated in order to work in the ‘defense plants’—presumably the wartime munitions industry.  Following their marriage, Jackie and Steve were also to make Los Angeles their permanent home, and there they raised their sons, Stefan and Keith.

Sources
Richmond & Twickenham Times, ‘Killed in Bombing Raid’, 30 November 1940, p.8.
Richmond & Twickenham Times, ‘The late Mrs Spiers’, 30 November 1940, p.9.

Acknowledgement
Alan Jux, Michael’s brother, provided information about the effect of this tragedy on his parents, and permitted me to use the photo of Michael which accompanies this post. His interest and co-operation are much appreciated.
Information provided on the Find A Grave website, contributed by Lloyd Williams, a cousin of Steve Jarett, provided helpful information on where Jackie and Steve met.  I have attempted to contact Mr Williams, but have, so far, had no response.

Notes
According to official records, these fatalities occurred on 23 November. However, the newspaper report of their joint funeral stated that Louisa and Michael had died on Friday 22 November.  The earlier report of the raid, described it as happening “one night last weekend”. I have chosen to go by the official records, aware that almost every newspaper report on this has been either deliberately vague (with the enemy spies in mind) or unintentionally inaccurate (when reliant on hearsay).
Descendants of Louisa’s mother, Emma Wadlow Grimes, are welcome to contact me for further information about Emma’s ancestors. In the course of confirming the relationship between Lizzie and Louisa, a family reconstitution exercise was required.  I am happy to provide this information to proven descendants.

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Herbert Wells (1881–1917)

41249 Private Herbert Wells,
2nd Battalion, Middlesex Regiment,
Died of wounds, 13 May 1917, Peronne, France.

Herbert Wells was one of three Ham brothers who were killed as a result of enemy action in The Great War. Their father, Daniel (1851–1904), was a house painter who had moved south from Stamford in Lincolnshire and had married Sarah Jane Tantony Hawkes (1852–1939) at Holy Trinity, Paddington in 1873. Sarah was a native of Ham, as was her mother, Mary Tantony.  After the birth of Edmund, their first child, the couple left Paddington, and moved to Ham.

Herbert, their fifth son and seventh child was born in Ham on 8 December 1881.  The family was already beginning to run out of names: Herbert was the middle name of his older brother, Daniel Herbert, whose first name was the middle name of their eldest brother Edmund Daniel.  Herbert was the first of their seventeen children to be given just one Christian name, and thereafter, of the ten children to follow him, only Mary Hawkes Wells, named after her maternal grandparents William Norton Hawkes and Mary Tantony, was given a second name.

Herbert grew up at 2 Poynter’s Cottages, in the back garden of which was a large outhouse, where his mother worked as a laundress, assisted in the business by fellow laundresses—neighbours and, perhaps occasionally, by a visiting daughter. (Given the size of their family, at a relatively early age, the older children had to make way for later arrivals, but it has been interesting to see that, while Sarah’s daughters all went into service as housemaids and kitchenmaids, they were often able to find employment in a household where a sister was also employed.)

After leaving the Ham National School, Herbert found work as a gardener at the ‘Golf Grounds’, and, like George Darnell, was likely to have been working at the nearest golf club to Ham, which was in Sudbrook Park.  Herbert married Laura Sparkes in St Andrew’s in 1911, a venue where eight months later, his younger brother, Thaddeus, was to marry her younger sister, Florence Mary.

Because Herbert died of wounds, and his service record has not survived, we cannot determine in precisely which action he was mortally wounded.  The action closest to his death, on 13 May 1917, occurred eight days earlier when the battalion, together with the 2nd Scottish Rifles raided the outworks of the Hindenburg.   Amongst the Other Ranks, there were four deaths, three men missing, and 48 wounded.

From the entry for Herbert in the Register of Soldier’s Effects, we know that he died at the No. 34 Casualty Clearing Station (or C.C.S.)  At the time of his death, that  C.C.S was stationed at La Chapellette, near Peronne, in France.  Unfortunately, for the period in which Herbert was a patient, the MH 106 records for Other Ranks at that Clearing Station are not amongst the ones held at The National Archives.  A Casualty Clearing Station is the final point in the casualty evacuation chain, from where wounded soldiers, unless close to death, would be moved to a larger and better equipped Base Hospital.

Private Wells is buried in the cemetery at La Chapellete.  The wooden cross, which originally marked his grave, was returned to his family when those crosses were replaced by CWGC headstones.  It later passed to St Andrew’s Church, along with the cross for his brother, Thaddeus, and both crosses can be seen in the gallery above the West Door of St Andrew’s Church, Ham. Their brother, William, who was lost at sea, has no known grave so he is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, with other sailors lost at sea.

Herbert’s death was reported as follows, in the Richmond and Twickenham Times of 9 June, under the headline, Heroes of Ham:

News has been received that Private Herbert Wells, son of Mrs Wells, of Poynter’s Cottages, has fallen in action in France, he being the third (sic) son that Mrs Wells has lost in the war. The sincerest sympathy is felt with her.

For Herbert’s widow, there would be more grief in the weeks ahead.  Three weeks after Herbert’s death, his brother, Thaddeus, who was the husband of her sister Laura, so Laura’s brother-in-law twice over, was killed in action.  Laura, lived for the rest of her life with her younger sister, Florence, Thaddeus’s widow and their two children, at 6 Catherine Villas, New Road.  She died in Kingston Hospital, six years after her sister Florence and still a resident of the house in New Road that had been their home for so many years.  Laura’s ashes were interred in the Churchyard of St Andrew’s Church.

She was survived by her younger sister, Emily Jane Phillips, to whom probate on her estate was granted.

 

Sources

The National Archives, WO 95/1713/1, War Diary, 2 Bn Middlesex Regiment. If you are viewing this online, you need to choose to view the file named WO-95-1713-1_2.pdf.  Then locate p.165 (of 193) and keep reading.

National Army Museum, Registers of Soldier’s Effects, Accession Number 1991-02-333, Record Number 529033.

 

Was your Ham ancestor, like Herbert Wells, a market gardener?

You might like to visit The Model Market Garden in Marble Hill Park and the travelling exhibition Feeding London: the forgotten market gardens, which is at Squires Garden Centre in Twickenham, but only until 15 February 2016.

 

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Thaddeus Wells (1886–1917)


30214 Private Thaddeus Wells,

7/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers,
Killed in action, 7 June 1917, Flanders.

Thaddeus Wells was the third of the sons of Daniel and Sarah Wells to be killed in the Great War.  He was a ‘motor workman’ by trade, and thus able to give agriculture a wide berth. On 6 January 1912 in St Andrew’s Church, he married Florence Mary Sparkes whose elder sister, Laura, had married his brother Herbert just seven months earlier. Thaddeus and Florence moved to Fulham where their son, Walter Thaddeus named after his maternal grandfather and his father, was born on 18 May 1914, three months before the outbreak of war.  A daughter, Evelyn Florence followed two years later.  As his service records have not survived, we cannot be sure when Thaddeus enlisted in the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Fulham.  The 7th Battalion was a Service Battalion, one of nine ‘New Army’ battalions to be raised by his regiment.

Thaddeus, known, apparently,  as ‘Thad’ was not the first to be named Thaddeus in the Wells family.  Daniel, his father, had an uncle, Thaddeus (c.1808–), a ‘professor of music’, who named one of his sons, also a musician, Thaddeus (1832–1906).  This Thaddeus, a cousin of Daniel Wells has a link with Kingston because it was there that, at All Saints’ Church, in 1865, he married the singer Emma Jenkins (1840–1885).  This was several years before Daniel appears in Ham, after his marriage to Sarah in 1873 and at least five years before Daniel left Stamford.

Thursday 7 June 1917 marked the start of the Battle of Messines Ridge, an Allied offensive whose objective was to deprive the Germans of the advantageous position they held there, south of Ypres. The action was also intended to take pressure off the French on the Aisne front.  Thaddeus’s battalion was at the Wytschaete end of the ridge, known by the troops as ‘Whitesheet’, between, on their left the 6th/8th Wiltshires, and on the right, the 7/8th Royal Irish Fusiliers.

The day started early for the officers and men of Thaddeus’s  battalion.  By 1.35 that morning, all were in position in readiness for what the war diary describes as “the upheaval of mines”.  Miners had been preparing for this preparatory ‘upheaval’ and had dug and packed 21 mines with well over 450 tonnes of explosive.  While the Germans had been aware that the British were mining, they had no idea how extensive that mining was, nor how devastating the explosions would be, when all but 2 were fired successfully at 3.10 a.m. This was the time at which it was expected that there would be sufficient light to see a man at 100 yards (about 90 metres). Immediately afterwards, two companies of the 7th Battalion moved forward, followed by the remaining companies, in a second wave,  100 yards behind the first. Initially there was little opposition, and, apart from sporadic firing from shell-holes and intermittent machine-gun fire, this situation continued.

Having reached one of their targets, the RED line, not ideal either “as a line of defence or from which to reinforce”  they consolidated their position there together with the Irish Fusiliers. The A and B companies, with their ‘moppers up’ achieved the battalion’s first two objectives, with the C and D companies and their ‘moppers up’ achieving the battalion’s third and fourth objectives, reaching the BLUE line, by 4.45 a.m.  Along the way between 100 and 125 prisoners were taken, with two machine guns in good serviceable condition were captured.  At 7 a.m. the Battalion Headquarters gave instructions for the battalion’s withdrawal to the CHINESE wall, and once the overnight gains had been consolidated, this went ahead.

Wells Widows 23 New Road was 6 Catherine Villas

6 Catherine Villas

Thaddeus was one of 14 men of the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to be killed on 7 June. Five others died subsequently as a result of wounds received.  The previous month his brother, Herbert, had died of wounds in France.  A report in the Richmond & Twickenham Times, nine days later, mentions the great sympathy felt for the boys’ mother, for their widows, ‘the Misses Sparkes,’ and for Thaddeus’s young children.

Their widows, Florence and Laura, lived together at 6 Catherine Villas, in New Road, for the remainder of their lives.  Thaddeus and Florence had both been born in Ham, and Thaddeus’s children, while natives of Fulham, were able to grow up in its pleasant, rural surroundings, within walking distance of their Wells and Sparkes grandmothers.

 

Aftermath
Thaddeus Wells is buried in La Laiterie Cemetry.  The wooden cross, which originally marked his grave, was returned to his family when the crosses were replaced by headstones.  It later passed to St Andrew’s Church, along with the cross for his brother, Herbert, and both crosses can be seen in the gallery above the West Door of St Andrew’s Church, Ham.  Their brother, William, who was lost at sea, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Sources
Richmond and Twickenham Times, ‘Private Thadeus (sic) Wells’,16/6/1917, p.6.
TNA, WO 95/1977, War Diary of 7/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 7 June 1917. If viewing this online, you want the file WO-95-1977_1.pdf and 7 June begins on image 107 of 168.
‘The Battle of Messines’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Messines_(1917), accessed 19/1/2016.

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