First World War 1914-1918
Somerset Light Infantry
A number of Winsham men joined the Somerset Light Infantry, or were already serving as territorials in that regiment. Towards the end of September 1914, The Divisional General of the Wessex Division received a telegram saying that Lord Kitchener wanted to see him at the War Office next day.
‘I went to the War Office and was taken into Lord Kitchener’s room and you can imagine I got a little bit of a shock when he said: ‘I want you to take your Division to India. Will they go?’ You must remember that at that time the Imperial obligation did not apply to the Territorial's. I said, ‘Well sir, I do not think that anybody has had much thought about it, but I am perfectly certain that if you want them to go to India they will go there right enough’. He replied, ‘Very well, go back to your Division now, get hold of them tomorrow morning on Salisbury Plain, use your personal influence and tell them from me that I want them to go to India and that by going to India they will be performing a great Imperial duty. I have to bring white troops back from India and I must replace them there by white troops from home’.
The First Battalion went to France, but the 1st/4th. Territorial battalions went to India and ultimately Mesopotamia.
The 1/4th Somersets reached Bombay November 14th. 1914 and were moved up to Amritsar. In Mesopotamia, British and Indian troops had been fighting the Turks under General Townshend. They captured Kut-al Amarah in September 1915 and were under siege there from December 5th. From Karachi, Somerset men sailed up the Tigris River in February 1916 in an attempt to relieve Kut but after a number of bloody actions, the British Forces surrendered to the Turks on April 29th. 1916. Many men were killed in these actions or died of disease, some as POWs during the next two and a half years. These battalions of the 'Somersets' remained in Mesopotamia for the rest of the war.
FATALITIES IN THE GREAT WAR
What do we know about the “we” from the quotation above? This verse on the Winsham and Cricket St Thomas war memorial is followed by the names of 24 men who died in the Great War. If our promise to remember them is to mean anything, it would help if they represented more than just inscriptions in stone.
The Winsham Web Museum has a section (below) outlining the military background to the deaths of most of the men. I have tried to add information about their lives before they joined the services. I am not a trained historian and I have relied on online data sources. There must be far more in various archives, old newspapers, etc and it would be great if someone could add to my basic findings and correct any errors.
The names are listed alphabetically, without reference to rank.
Frank BRIDLE. Born in 1900 to Walter and Kate (see below). At the time, Walter was a farm carter at Lords Leaze near Chard, but in 1911 the family was living at Chalkway. Frank died in Sept 1919 and is buried in Cologne, so it is likely he was in the occupying forces after the war. The Spanish flu pandemic, which killed more people than the war had done, was still raging and soldiers were a susceptible group.
Percy BRIDLE. Born in 1891 to William and Charlotte. Percy was a gardener at Cricket House before the war. He enlisted in the county regiment in Monmouthshire in August 1914. He died in May 1918 and is buried in Berlin, so he was probably a prisoner of war at the time.
Walter BRIDLE. Born in 1878, possibly to unmarried mother, Jane, a domestic servant living in Bridge. Married Kate Singleton in 1899. She died in 1908 and he married Emma Jane Moulton in 1910. Farm worker, and father of Frank (above).
Augustus BROOM. Born in 1892 to Albert and Ellen. Albert was a dairy manager on the Cricket estate and formerly at Broadenham Farm. In 1911 Augustus was an apprentice butcher, living with his parents.
Samuel Walter BROWN. Son of James and Elizabeth Brown, was the middle of 13 children all born in Winsham. In 1901 his father was a horse carter on a farm and Walter (age 13) was described as a coachman. In 1911 his parents were living in Court St and Walter had moved to Llanbradach in S. Wales, working in the colliery. He was lodging with a family that included Hannah Leah Pook, whom he married shortly after. Their son was born in December, and was three when his father was killed. Walter's nephew, Douglas Brown, was among the Winsham war dead in WW2.
Sidney BUTLER. Born in 1886 to Alfred and Mary of Fore Street. Sidney, like his father, became a farm labourer. He married Kate Russell (sister of Albert, below) in 1914. When Sidney was killed, Kate had lost a husband and brother in the space of four months.
Ernest COTTRELL. Born in 1885, son of John and Sarah, who lived in Ammerham. In 1901 he was working in a corn mill on the River Axe in Thorncombe parish. Married Florence, details unknown.
Archibald FORSEY. Son of Sarah Jane and Thomas, a shoemaker, living in Fore Street. Born 1888. He was an estate gardener in 1911 and his sister Mabel taught at the school.
Alfred Harold FRY. Born in Bristol, 1886, to Francis James and Elizabeth Fry. Francis was a member of the Fry’s Chocolate dynasty and in 1897 he bought the Cricket Estate. He was chairman of Winsham Parish Council (in a largely honorary capacity) from 1900 to 1919. The Fry's were a traditionally Quaker family. Harold trained as a barrister and married Margaret Evans in 1912 at All Souls, Langham Place in London. At the time of his death, Margaret was living in Eaton Square. Harold is the only officer among the 24 and is clearly not typical of the Winsham dead, but the Fry's were well respected in the locality.
Charles GARRETT. Born in 1895 to George and Bessie, who lived in Purtington. George was a farm carter and in 1911 Charles was described as a motor cleaner on the estate.
Herbert GILL. His war record has not been located. There was a Herbert Gill who served in the S.L.I. and at different times in three other units, but there is no positive link. In the 1911 census, a Herbert Gill, aged 31, was an agricultural labourer living as a lodger in Fore Street. In a book of local history it is said that ‘Bert’ Gill had a barber’s shop in Back Street around the same time.
William GOOD. The Good family in Winsham go back a long way. The first Good recorded in the church register was baptised in 1584. William was the son of Jane and George, an estate gardener, of West Street. They later moved to Church Street and William became an apprentice baker.
Fred HAWKER was born in 1888 to Jacob and Eliza of Heywood in Thorncombe parish. By 1911 he had enlisted in the regular army as a private in the S.L.I. He was killed in action three weeks after the outbreak of war.
H. Louis LOARING. The Loarings are another old-established Winsham family, recorded in the church register as far back as 1598. H. L. was born in 1888 to Henry, a bootmaker, and Sarah. They lived in Back Street, then Fore Street. Louis emigrated to Canada and enlisted in the army in May 1916 in Winnipeg, where he had been working as a conductor (train or tram?). He had married, but gave his father as next of kin. The attestation form gives his height as 5’3”. He died of shell wounds in the attack on Vimy Ridge.
Wilfred NORTHCOMBE was born in 1888, the son of Walter and Mary (nee Hodder). Walter was village schoolmaster for many years and Mary was teaching there before they married (continuing as infant school mistress). They lived in the School House. Walter was Parish Clerk from 1894 to 1931. The church lych-gate was erected in their memory. Wilfred joined the Royal Navy as an engine room artificer before 1911 and was killed in the Battle of Jutland.
John PERROTT. Born 1893 to John, a farm labourer, and Jane. They lived at Axewater near the bridge and John Jr. followed his father’s profession.
William ROWE was the son of James (a shepherd) and Flora. They lived in Cricket St. Thomas, where William became a dairyman. His war record has not been identified.
Albert RUSSELL also came from Cricket, where his father, John, was a horse carter. John and his wife Mary had 11 children. Albert was born in 1891 and 20 years later was an assistant gamekeeper. He married Annie Elizabeth Paull in 1915. After being widowed in 1917, she married Charles Loaring.
John SPURDLE. There were several Spurdle families in and around Winsham in Edwardian times. At least two Johns and three Sidney's were of military age, so there is scope for confusion. John was born in 1887 to George and Fanny, of Greenham in the parish of Broadwindsor. At the age of 13 he was a farm hand in Ammerham. His father moved to High Street. John and Sidney (below) were cousins.
Sidney SPURDLE. Born in 1890. Son of William and Bessie of Malthouse, Court Street. They had 10 children. Sidney, like his father, was an agricultural labourer, described as a cowman when he enlisted. His parents moved to Hollowells. Sidney and John (see above) were cousins.
Frederick John SYLVESTER. Born 1885 to Robert and Jane. Robert was the postmaster/shopkeeper in Church Street, next to The Bell.
John TROTT. Son of Eliza, born 1898 in Cricket St. Thomas. He volunteered for the Royal Navy and was the youngest when he was killed, aged 17.
James WHITE. His service record has not been confirmed. A James White, who was born in Hawkchurch around 1882, served initially in the S.L.I. and died of wounds at Arras on 28/4/1917. There were Whites living in Winsham in the 1880s and James White married Elizabeth Ann Long in this area in 1913.
The above details, sketchy though they are, highlight the agricultural nature of the parishes a century ago, as well as the importance of the big estates. The people mostly worked where they lived. It must have been a close knit community and one can imagine the devastating impact of the war. Many of the deaths came in clusters. Two died in Oct 1915 , four in the summer (June-Aug) of 1916 and three in April 1917. We do not know when three of the men were killed and we have no record of the numbers returning without limbs, or sight, or with lungs damaged by gas.
The above was researched and presented by John Gapper
Son of George
Garrett of Purtington.
240889 Somerset Light Infantry. Died July 22nd. 1916. Age 21 Buried
Baghdad War Cemetery I raq
|John Spurdle. Son of George Spurdle of High St. Winsham. Private, Somerset Light Infantry Died January 2nd. 1919 age 32. Buried Peshawar.|
|The 12th Battalion (The West Somerset Yeomanry) moved to Gallipoli in October 1915 and fought in that disastrous and ill-advised campaign. They were returned to Egypt in December 1915.|
|Augustus Broom. Son of Albert Broom of Cricket St. Thomas and the late Ellen Broom. Private 1060 West Somerset Yeomanry. Died October 27th. 1915 age 23. Buried Alexandra Military Cemetery Egypt. `|
Battalion also went to India,
some of them serving in Mesopotamia but in
May 1917 the Battalion were sent to Egypt to join the Expeditionary Force
which had been in action against the Turks since their attempt to prize
control of the Suez Canal from the British in 1915. After a decisive
victory in January 1917, the British advanced into
Palestine where the 1/5th. Battalion joined the 75th. Division.
|Ernest Cottrell (Cotterell).
Son of John
and Sarah Cotterell of Chard, husband of Florence E. Cotterell of Lynvale
House, Lynton, Devon. Pvte
32160 1st/5th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry.
Died Tuesday November 13th. 1917
Buried Jerusalem Memorial Cemetery, Israel.
On September 19th, 1918 a major offensive was
launched against the Turks. and their armies were smashed in the ensuing
Battle of Megiddo.
Two companies of the 1st/5th. under Major
Watson were deployed in positions in No Man’s Land in front of the
They successfully captured Turkish advanced
William Good. Son of Mr and Mrs. George Good of Church St. Winsham .Private 241593 1st/5th. Btn.Somerset Light Infantry. Died September 19th 1918 age 25 Buried Jerusalem Memorial, Israel.
|Greece asked the
Allies for help with their treaty obligations to Serbia which was attacked
by Bulgaria in October 1915.
British and French sent a small force that began landing at the Greek port
of Salonika at the end of that month.
By early 1916 the force had increased from
just the 10th Irish Division to the 10th,22nd,26th,27th and 28th.
Bombardier 57819, "D" Bty. 101st Brigade., Royal Field Artillery who died on Friday 25 August 1916, age 38. Husband of Kate Bridle, of Chalkway, Winsham, Chard, Somerset. Buried in the Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery, Greece .
British Expeditionary Force
six infantry divisions and one cavalry division moved to France in August
1914 and was virtually destroyed in the fighting between August and
December of that year.
Winsham suffered its first casualty:
|Samuel Walter Brown. Samuel Walter was born 1887 Winsham. Father James Brown, Mother Elizabeth Brown. Samuel died 6th August 1915 and is buried at the Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Guinchy, The Somme. He was a Private in the Irish Guards, Pay No 5370.|
The Battle of Loos started on the 25th. September 1915 when, at 6.30am, Captain Edward Moss blew the whistle that signaled the advance of the 10th Battalion of the Gloucester's. By the 13th October when the battle ended, 50,000 British soldiers were dead wounded or missing. The final advance had been about 1500 yards and 309 men of the 10th Battalion Gloucester Regiment were dead including one young man from Winsham.
2nd Lt. “C” Company 1st/22nd Btn. London Regiment . Son of Francis James and Elizabeth Fry of Cricket St, Thomas. Died Monday 30th. October 1916 age 30. Buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
|Frederick John Sylvester. Private 21596 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, son of Mrs. Jane Sylvester of Winsham died 26.1 1917 age 32 buried Agny Military Cemetery, France.|
Private 701125 2nd. Canadian Mounted Rifles (British Columbia Regiment) died Monday 9th. April 1917. According to the family, Louis Loaring emigrated to Canada before the war and when he came back was unable to get leave to visit his family in Winsham before he was killed in action. He is buried at Lapugnoy Military Cemetery in France.
26574 8th Btn, Somerset Light Infantry. Son of John and Mary Russell of
Chaffcombe, Chard. Husband of Anne Eliza Loaring (formerly Russell) of
Fore St. Winsham. Died
Saturday April 28th age 26.
Buried Arras Memorial, Bay4.
Private 26574 8th Btn, Somerset Light Infantry. Son of John and Mary Russell of Chaffcombe, Chard. Husband of Anne Eliza Loaring (formerly Russell) of Fore St. Winsham. Died Saturday April 28th age 26. Buried Arras Memorial, Bay4.
Sidney Butler. Private 41836. 7th/8th Btn., Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who died on Thursday,23 August 1917, age 30. Son of Alfred and Mary Butler, of Winsham. Husband of Kate Butler, of Chalkway, Winsham. Buried at Harelbeke New British Cemetery, Harelbeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Edwin Budge.Private 235004. Hampshire Regt. Son of Alfred and Mary Elizabeth Budge of Broadenham, Winsham. Died March 28th 1918, age 32 .Buried Arras Memorial Pas de Calais France.
Bridle. Private 265518. 1st/2nd Bn., Monmouthshire
Sidney Spurdle. Private 54299 Durham Light Infantry. Son of Mr. W. Spurdle of Hollowell’s Cottage, Cricket St. Thomas. Died October 5th. 1918.Buried Guizancourt Farm Cemetery, Gouy Aisne, Aisne, France.
Frank Bridle. Private 30427 Hampshire Regiment. Son of Walter Bridle. Died on 19 September 1919, age 19. Buried at Cologne Southern Cemetery in Germany.
'Lest we forget'
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