The flow of communication between soldiers and families during the war is striking, and reflects well on the Forces and home postal system. Messages from the 18th. Labour Company A.S.C. about the sudden departure from Aldershot, boarding the ship at Millbay, the call at Malta and the voyage mark the soldiers’ progress.
There are many reports in Cornish newspapers of letters, postcards and telegrams being received by families. After the disaster journalists called at homes and related the contents of communications:
A representative of ‘Lake’s Falmouth Packet’ visited the various homes yesterday and found the friends in a state of awful anxiety as to the fate of their friends. In nearly every case letters or postcards were received from Malta announcing the safe arrival there, but there seems to be some conflict of evidence as to the destination of the party. ‘Lake’s Falmouth Packet’, 20th August, 1915.
The letters and postcards from Malta raised false hopes as it was not realised they had been posted before August 13th.
This is the postcard sent home by troops after boarding the Royal Edward.
Was this version of the card with the title ‘The “Royal Edward” Entering Avonmouth Dock’, in the top left corner published by Harvey Barton & Son, Bristol, when she was a troopship? I have only found it when posted by a soldier on the first and last trip to the Dardenelles. I welcome other examples.
When Millbay was reached many men sent home postcards of the Royal Edward saying they were “on this boat”. These were a printed copy on thin card of a real photo; on the reverse is H. B. & S. Ltd. Bristol. (Harvey Barton & Son of Bristol).
According to Pte. John Houston, 1802, R.A.M.C. 3/2nd Lowland Field Ambulance:
“It seemed that it was no secret that the ROYAL EDWARD was bound for Gallipoli and when we got aboard we were able to purchase postcards of the ship to send home.”
The “Royal Edward”. Reinforcements for Gallipoli by the late J. S. Houston RAMC 52 (Lowland) Div.
The GALLIPOLIAN No.30. 1979
Was this version of the card with the added title ‘The “Royal Edward” Entering Avonmouth Dock’ at top left produced when she was a troopship? I have only found it when posted by a soldier either on the June or July 1915 trips.
Until August 1914 unstamped mail from soldiers even when marked On Active Service was taxed at the double deficiency rate: 2 x ½d, made up from ½d unpaid postage & then ½d surcharge or fine. There was a public outcry at this imposition and after a while only the ½d unpaid postage was levied. Soldiers eventually had free postage on the 27th August. (Thanks to Bill Pipe of http://www.magpiecatalogue.com/)
Though Pte. Albert Sydney Fuller wrote ‘On Active Service’ on his postcard, a halfpenny unpaid postage was added – was it by mistake? I wonder what the recipient who worked in the Post Office made of that!
I have had an interesting clarification from Graham Mark, via the F.P.H.S.
“As I understand it a soldier on board a troopship in a British harbour was not on active service. Once the ship was clear of the harbour he was. If a bag of mail was passed ashore before the ship departed those cards were likely to be surcharged. If at Bristol the surcharge mark will show the number 134, if at Plymouth 620. If the bag of mail was handed to the pilot or an escort to take ashore that mail would not be surcharged as the bag should have contained a certificate stating that stamps were not available and that bag would most likely be sent to London for postmarking.”
Pte. Ivie Mcqueen’s postcard destined for Carlisle has:
‘OHMS’ and the stamp ‘RECEIVED FROM H.M. SHIP NO CHARGE TO BE RAISED’.
It has the same July 31 15 date and was cancelled at London: LONDON JUL 3115D. The letter ‘D’ distinguishes the particular machine out of several in use within the London G.P.O. (Inland Section).
Was it posted after the Royal Edward left Devonport and so placed in one of the mailbags sent back to London GPO from the ship?
Pte. Harold Miller’s postcard has the same:
‘OHMS’ and the stamp ‘RECEIVED FROM H.M.SHIP NO CHARGE TO BE RAISED’.
It was also cancelled at London, on Aug. 15 – sixteen days later: LONDON AUG 15 15E. There is a square censor stamp numbered 2852 with the pencilled initials of the censoring officer in the corner. This censor stamp numbered 2852 has been recorded on mail postmarked: Base Army Post Office Z (at Alexandria) in August 1915. (Courtesy Mike Dobbs, Forces Postal History Society.)
Where there is a Devonport cancellation it is DEVONPORT 31 July 15 – Pte. John Heelen’s card was cancelled 9.45 AM and Pte. Gaston Reginald Studd’s 8.30 AM.
The postcards reached all parts of the United Kingdom.
The ‘Royal Cornwall Gazette’, 19th August, reports that William Henry Robins and Alfred Williams of Mevagissey had sent cards to their families saying they were on the Royal Edward.
The ‘Edinburgh Evening News’, Midlothian, 20th August 1915, says a postcard from James Bryce Paton, of the Borderers, from Motherwell, states he was sailing on her.
This is also shown by the examples below. I have transcribed the messages as written.
DORE, HAROLD FRANK
Private No: 10750: Hampshire Regiment 2nd. Bn.
Written with indelible pencil. No postage stamp.
Card Endorsed “On Active Service”
To: Miss M. Dore, Warley, Weeke, Winchester, Hants.
Sailing tonight in this ship for Dardenelles, had a jolly good send off, and we are all quite jolly & Happy will write soon
Fondest Love & Kisses xxxx Harold
Harold Frank Dore was born in 1896 in Southampton, Hampshire, the son of Harry Edward , a journeyman butcher, and his wife Jemima, nee Freemantle. He had three older siblings, Ellen, Ethel and Arthur and a young brother Albert Reginald. Their home was 10, Alfred Street, Newtown, Southampton.
In 1901 Ellen Margaret, the Nellie of the postcard, was living with her Freemantle grandparents, at Railway Cottage, Doncaster Drive, North Stoneham. Her grandfather Frederick was a retired railway platelayer and pensioner, his son Frederick Henry, her mother’s brother, a general labourer.
By 1911 Harold was an office boy still living with his parents and brothers Arthur, Harry, and Albert Reginald, and young sisters Doris, Eva, and Ivy Lily. His uncle Frederick, dock labourer, had joined them and there was a boarder William Archibald Simpson, a grocer’s porter. Harold’s sister Ellen Margaret, age 20, was a housemaid for John Edward Cranston Leslie, a former solicitor who had retired in 1906. He and wife Paulina also employed a cook and parlour maid. Their address – Links Road, Warley, Weeke, Winchester – was and still is a desirable area. It is about 20 miles from Newtown Southampton.
In the years following 1911, as well as Harold’s service, the household of 10, Alfred Street was to contribute still more to the conflict.
Their boarder William Archibald Simpson was born 1st April 1893 son of Fanny and John Simpson, a greengrocer’s labourer, of 14, York Street, Southampton. William joined the Royal Navy the next year, 1912, as a stoker. He began service on the SS Caledon 6th March 1917, the day she was commissioned into the Navy. William served on HMS Caledon as a Leading Stoker till August 1921, seeing action in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight. During the battle, the ship was struck by a German 305-millimetre (12.0 in) shell. He served till June 1924, joining the Royal Fleet Reserve on the 1st July. Throughout his career his Character and Ability was rated Very Good.
Harold’s younger brother Albert Reginald, is in The National Roll of the Great War:
DORE, Albert Reginald, Corporal, R.A.F.
Joining in January 1916, (age 17) he was engaged on duties of vital importance throughout his service. He acted as a wireless operator on seaplanes, which were frequently flying across the English Channel on escort and submarine spotting duties. He rendered valuable services until his demobilisation in 1920, and holds the General Service and Victory Medals.
10, Alfred Street, Southampton.1768.
HAROLD FRANK DORE
Date of Death: 13/08/1915
FULLER, ALBERT SYDNEY
Private 20549, 1st. Bn. Essex Regiment.
Formerly 17818, Norfolk Regiment.
Card Endorsed “On Active Service”
Surcharge mark 579 = North Walsham P. O.
To: Miss V .E. Jackson Medina House Trunch Nr. Nth. Walsham Norfolk England
Dear Miss Jackson, Just a card to let you know that we have arrived quite safe this is the boat we are on as I thought you would like one I hope this will find you all quite well as it leaves Herbert and I at present am glad to say so must close with kindest love to you all I remain Yours Sincerely Pte A. S. Fuller God be with you till we meet again July 30th 1915 Goodbye
Kelly’s Directory of Norfolk, 1904 p 488
Post & M.O.O., S.B. & A. & I. Office. – Robert Young, sub-postmaster.
Letters arrive from North Walsham 7.5 a.m. & 3.10 p.m.(callers only) & dispatched at 11a.m. & 5 p.m.The nearest telegraph office is at Mundesley, 2½ miles distant.
The ½ d. surcharge mark on his postcard is numbered 579 which was the Post Office number for North Walsham. (Thanks to Graham Mark F.P.H.S.)
Albert was born in 1888 in Trunch, Norfolk, the son of Thomas and Susanna Maria Fuller. Like his father he was an agricultural labourer. He had brothers Norman, George and Owen who were also farm labourers, and a sister Lucy, at school. In 1911 the family lived in Chapel Road, Trunch.
FLAXMAN, Herbert James
Private 20547, 1st Bn. Essex Regiment
Formerly 17815, Norfolk Regiment.
(The Herbert mentioned in the message)
Herbert was born in Gimingham in 1891, the son of Henry Herbert and Louisa Cooke Flaxman of Brewery Road, Trunch. He was a farm labourer like his father and younger brother Arthur. His older brother Robert was an assistant in a grocer’s shop.
Albert and Herbert were formerly in the Norfolk Regiment, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, their regimental numbers 17818 and 17815. This was a training unit based in Norwich. It moved to Felixstowe in August 1914 and remained there throughout the war, defending the Harwich coast. It supplied drafts for the 1st. & 2nd. Norfolk Battalions when these were below strength.
Many of the men wanted to see service abroad and volunteered for the Essex Regiment which was at Gallipoli. Albert and his friend Herbert were among them, young men in their twenties who wanted to see action.
Both enlisted at Norwich, their new numbers only separated by one – 20548 – which was given to Arthur Abraham Amis from Potter Heigham (enlisted Yarmouth), who also perished. He also was formerly in the Norfolk Regt.
So Albert became Private 20549, and Herbert Private 20547 of the 1st. Battlion Essex Regiment, once again with very close regimental numbers.
In Death they were not divided.
ALBERT SYDNEY FULLER HERBERT JAMES FLAXMAN
Date of Death: 13/08/1915 Date of Death: 13/08/1915
HELLES MEMORIAL HELLES MEMORIAL
The addressee, Miss V. E. Jackson, is Violet Emily Jackson born 1890 in Kensington, London.
James D Jackson her father, was a harness maker, and self-employed. Her family were from Lowestoft, Suffolk, and moved to Fulham, London sometime after 1881 and were still there in 1911.
Violet Emily left Fulham after 1901 to work in Trunch – very different surroundings.
When Albert Sydney Fuller wrote to her she is at Medina House (the PO.?), Trunch.
In 1911 she is a boarder in Trunch Post Office, serving in the drapery and Post Office. Robert Young the Post Master is the Census enumerator. He witnessed the X mark of Thomas, Harold’s father, in the return for 1911.
Violet had another postcard in 1918 from Sid in Egypt who is “having a royal time in Cairo”. He hopes to hear from “Dear Violet” soon and sends his kindest regards to all at Trunch. Violet is back in the Post Office, ‘c/o Mr. Young’.
Among the other young men in Trunch was Alfred James Mason, a boot-maker, born in Tunstead, Norfolk in 1896. He lived with his family at 14, Brewery Road, his father James David was a horseman on a farm.
He joined the Royal Navy on the 24th. January,1916, his Service Number J49322. His first ship was Pembroke 1, his last the Hecla, a Destroyer Depot Ship.
In the June quarter of 1921 Violet Emily Jackson married Alfred James Mason. They remained in Norfolk to raise their family.
Thetford & Watton Times 11 September 1915:
LOST on the ROYAL EDWARD. Among those who went down in the Royal Edward transport were two young men from the parish of Trunch. They were Private Herbert James Flaxman & Private Albert Sidney Fuller. Both joined the 3rd Norfolks and volunteered for active service with the 1st Essex who went out in the troopship. Private Flaxman, who was only 24, has two other brothers in the army. Private Fuller was 26. On Sunday afternoon a service to their memory was held in Trunch church. The Grenville Lodge of Oddfellows, of which both young soldiers were members, was represented by the secretary, Mr. A. Turner. Among others present were former employers of the two young men. Mr Youngman of North Walsham was at the organ. The Hymns sung were “Let Saints on Earth” and “On the Resurrection Morning”. The rector gave a touching address from the words “Be Ye Also Ready”.
From the Nottingham Evening Post 14 February 1916:
The Norfolk village of Trunch, which has a population of about 400, can boast that every single and married man who is eligible is either serving or has enlisted. Eight young men from the parish have already given their lives for their country.
HEELEN, JOHN JAMES
Private: SS/13999: Army Service Corps, 18th Labour Coy.
Card has George V 1d.stamp
Cancelled DEVONPORT 9.45 AM 31 JY 15
To: Mrs. E. Luke 12, C. Dufferin St. St. Luke’s London E.C.
Dear Lizzie, Left Aldershot suddenly am now on board this boat at Devonport
John James Heelen is one of the Londoners in the 18th Labour Company, and I have found it difficult to research them, and sometimes him even more.
Are there local memorials in London such as stand in Cornish villages?
The different versions of his surname in the census years – Heelan or Heelen, and the varying name, Patrick or Maurice, for his father – caused problems. Steve, a member of the G.W.F., found census entries and if anyone else can help please contact.
In the case of John I had a collection of documents giving names and addresses which did help. In fact the seller unexpectedly sent another lot of connected ephemera. I am grateful he did not dismantle a family archive to possibly make more profit.
On the 7th October 1879 John James Heelen of 1, Maidenhead Court, Moor Lane, son of Maurice Heelen of the same place, a Packer, signed his Apprenticeship Indenture. He was apprenticed to Samuel Harmer & Henry Harley, Printers & Lithographers, for seven years. The firm was based at 220, Upper Thames Street about half a mile from Maidenhead Court.
Charles Booth’s Map of London Poverty in 1889 describes this area as “Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor”.
Map of the Maidenhead Court area in 1868
Thanks to the work of Sabiha Ahmad of the University of Michigan.
In the 1881 census, named as Heelan, they are still living at 1, Maidenhead Court, off Moor Lane, which began at 86, Fore Street, in the Parish of St. Giles Cripplegate.
His father, now named Patrick, is head of the household, and a beer bottler and packer; wife Mary has a chandler shop. Age 16, John’s occupation is entered as a messenger boy, his sister Mary Ann is a cotton winder. His younger siblings Elizabeth and James are at school.
There are three boarders, all born in Ireland and all railway porters and a visitor Morris Heelan, age 39, a sailor, also born in Ireland. (One of the boarders, James Joseph Doolan married Mary Ann Heelen, John’s older sister, in 1884.)
The house was crowded and so were the surroundings.
Near the Heelen family home in Maidenhead Court were Angel Place, Angel Court, Harp Court, Moor Lane, Honeysuckle Square, and Vine Court. The names are attractive, but the reality was very different.
One street away was Moorgate Street station – noisy and sooty. Further north were two distilleries, a pickle manufacturer and a dye works all emitting their distinctive smells. The area was losing families as businesses were taking over and the 1881 census shows this: of the 108 houses enumerated, 55 are uninhabited. In the 53 inhabited houses are 200 males and 249 females (of the latter 25 are widows and 40 unmarried females working mainly as charwomen, servants and laundresses).
Families changed addresses frequently through bereavement, lack or change of work, rent arrears, or increase in numbers. Also streets and alleys in Cripplegate were being enlarged or swept away and buildings demolished.
“In 1883 the East side of Moor Lane (opposite the Police Station) was widened….In 1887 the north side of Fore Street was set back from the corner of Moorfields to Maidenhead Court (a court that ran into Fore Street) which was made considerably wider for a proposed entrance to the Metropolitan Railway station on its south frontage….”
In 1891 the Heelen family are at 13, Rothery Street, about 2 miles from Maidenhead Court.
Mary Ann Heelen, John’s older sister, had married James Joseph Doolan between July and September 1884. They emigrated to the U.S.A. where their daughter, Mary Ellen Doolan, was born April 1, 1885. Either the family or only Mary Ann and the child returned to the U.K., as her next daughter Alice, was born March 11, 1887 in the Holborn district. Source family tree on Ancestry. She may have been alone because in 1891 she is a widow and I have not found a death entry for James Joseph Doolan in the U.K.
John James Heelen finished his apprenticeship on the 7th October 1886 with this comment by Harmer & Harley:
In handing John James Heelen his Indentures we have much pleasure in Stating that he has served his term of Apprenticeship to our entire satisfaction.
The 1891 census taker seems to have completed the return rather hurriedly. The family are given the surname MORRIS.
Maurice Morris age 60 born 1831 Ireland is Head, a General Dealer with a shop.
Mary Morris age 56 born Fulham, London, is his wife, also in the shop.
(The same details as Patrick and Mary Ann Heelan in 1881.)
Mary Ann Doolan age 31 born St. Luke’s is a widow, still a Cotton Winder–Tallow- (for candle wicks?)
John, James and Elizabeth Heelan are entered as Morris.
John, is a Lithographer, James a Brass Polisher, and Elizabeth a Feather Curler. (Feather curling was a feminine monopoly.)
(Birth dates and places are the same as the 1881 census.)
Mary Ellen Doolan age 5, born 1886 in the USA and Alice Doolan age 3, born in St. Luke’s are down as grand daughters of Maurice Morris, – presumably Mary Ann Doolan’s daughters.
In 1892 a Patrick Heelen died, age 56.
On 8th January 1898 Elizabeth Heelen becomes the Mrs. E. Luke of the postcard by marrying Ernest Richard Luke, a compositor for a general printer. The family name is spelt correctly, but her deceased father, a cellarman, is named as Patrick.
By 1901 the Heelan, Doolan, and Luke families are living together at 100, Whitecross Street in St Luke’s, Islington, about a mile north of Maidenhead Court. They have 3 rooms, with two other families in the rest of the house. Mary Heelan, widow, is “living on her own means” Mary Doolan is a widow, a female porter for the Bank of England.
The Luke’s have a son Reginald, and twins, James and Elizabeth.
John’s brother James is a porter for the Midland railway.
John is still a lithographer but about to fall on hard times.
Towards the end of the 19th century the illustration of books and magazines by lithograph was declining and photogravure replaced it.
On Friday 30th December 1904 John James Heelen was admitted to St Luke’s Workhouse, City Road, Holborn, in time for supper. He is Class 2 for diet – an able-bodied man above the age of fifteen years. His calling on admittance is photographer – apparently unsuccessful.
He stays there for one year & eight months being discharged on his own request Wednesday, 29th August 1906 after dinner.
By 1911 he has moved in with his widowed sister Mary Ann Doolan and her two girls at 100, Olinda Road, Stamford Hill, N. He is a lithographic printer and his niece Alice a cardboard box-maker, both at a general printers. Sister Elizabeth Luke and her husband Ernest are living with their four boys at 53, Baldwin Street E. C. Ernest is still a compositor for a general printer.
On Saturday the 4th April 1914 John James Heelen has to look to workhouse relief again. He is in time for dinner but is now considered as needing the infirm diet. He stays there for over a year until Thursday, 8th July 1915, leaving after dinner, still on the infirm diet, but discharged by the Infirmary.
After saying ‘Goodbye’ to family (?) he must have gone straight to the Whitehall recruiting centre and, age 50, and classed as infirm by the workhouse, been sworn as Private SS 13999 A.S.C. He names Elizabeth Luke of 12C Dufferin Street, (Peabody Buildings) St. Lukes E.C. as his next of kin.
JOHN JAMES HEELEN
Date of Death: 13/08/1915
Brother of Mrs. Elizabeth Luke, of 2E, Errol St., Whitecross St., London.
Private:16266 King’s Own Scottish Borderers 1st Bn.
Card Endorsed “O H M S”
TO: Mrs. Anderson 27 Adelaide Street Carlisle
Dear Lily I came past
Carlisle last night
I have just got on board this boat good
Ivie McQueen born 1880 was the youngest of three brothers serving in the army – Robert was with the Black Watch in France, and James was stationed in Edinburgh with the 3rd K.O.S.B. They were the sons of John and Jane McQueen of Marchfoot Cottage, Greenbrae, Dumfries. Father John was a blacksmith and another, older brother, William, followed this trade. Ivie was a stonemason employed by Learmonts of Dumfries before joining the 9th (2nd Reserve) K.O.S.B. in October 1914. This was a Reserve battalion of four Companies stationed at Stobs Camp, Hawick. He was a member of ‘D’ Company, part of the first draft of 100 men from this reserve battalion (25 men from each of A, B, C & D Coys.) sent to Gallipoli to reinforce the 1st KOSB.
Ivie McQueen had served before, but for a short time. At the age of 24 years 7 months he attested on the 19th December 1904 and joined at Aldershot on the 24th. He became Pte. 8416 of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, signing on for nine years with the Colours. His father John had already died as Ivie names his mother Jane as next of kin. He is 6ft. ¼ inches tall, weighs 154 lbs. and has a fresh complexion and blue-grey eyes and light brown hair. He is discharged on the 5th of February 1905, having been a soldier for sixty days. At some date Ivie married Sarah Ann and they had a child; in 1915 her address is 51, St.Michael Street.
His younger sister Lillias Christie McQueen, “Lily”, married William Anderson on the 25th Dec 1910 at Stanwix, Cumberland. He was a printer’s machineman; by 1911 they were living at 27, Adelaide Street, Carlisle, the address on Ivie’s postcard.
It was a long journey from Hawick to Avonmouth.
Date of Death:13/08/1915
POLGLASE, Richard Henry
Private : SS/13843 18th Labour Coy.A.S.C.
Card Endorsed “On Active Service”
TO: Master Phil Polglase 33 Wendron Street Helston Cornwall
Dear Phil Friday Millbay
Have embarked on
this boat for foreign service
will write full particulars
See HELSTON MEN page
Richard Henry POLGLASE
Date of Death:13/08/1915 Age: 40
Son of William Henry and Sarah Jane Polglase, of 41, Wendron St., Helston;
husband of Amelia Jane Polglase, of 33, Wendron St., Helston, Cornwall.
SPILLER, FRANK WILLIAM
Private: SS/14110 Army Service Corps 18th Labour Coy.
TO: Miss Mabel Spiller
Lamanva Farm Budock Penryn Cornwall
We have embarked today for
somewhere dont write before
you get my address after a
few days this is the photo of the
ship getting on fine dont worry
Francis William J. Spiller was born in 1884 at Lamanva Farm, Budock, the second son of Humphry and Caroline, nee Jenkin. His father is described as a farm labourer but seems to have specialised in rearing livestock. According to the Royal Cornwall Gazette, in 1887 at the EAST KIRRIER AGRICULTURAL.ASSOCIATION, H. Spiller, Mabe, won a prize for Best Sow (large breed) in classes 1 & 2.
In 1891 Humphry is a Dairyman (Cattle) and although again designated a farm labourer in 1911 in July at the Stithians Show he came 2nd winning 10/- in Class 5:—Cross-bred heifers in milk, calved in 1909.
Kelly’s Directory for Cornwall 1914 has him as a Farmer at *Lamanvar – his name above Henry Scott Tuke’s A.R.A. at Cape Pennance. The * indicating letters came through Penryn.
Frank, as he is known, age 16 is a gardener in 1901, living at Trolvis Farm, with his parents and older brother Ernest, a stone mason, older sister Caroline, and very young sister Mabel, age 3. Eight years later he has married Julia Eleanor Evans from Mawnan and by 1911 is settled at Long Downs, Mabe, a Cattle Dealer. His sister Mabel, the addressee of the postcard, is the only child still with their parents at Trolvis Farm, Longdown Nr Penryn.
Frank and Julia have been married six years before they have a child. The West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, June 1915, announced: At Penryn, May 29, the wife of Frank Spiller, of a son.
Francis William H. is only 51/2 weeks old when Frank signs his Attestation in Whitehall. Julia was left to bring up her son on a weekly allowance of £3..19s..6d. Sadly, at the worst time of the year, Frank junior lost his mother: The Cornishman – Wednesday 28 December 1927.
Frank William SPILLER
Date of Death:13/08/1915 Age: 39
Son of Humphry Spiller, of Stephney, Budock, Falmouth; husband of Julia Eleanor Spiller, of 27, West St., Penryn, Cornwall.
STUDD, GASTON REGINALD
Private : 2340 R.A.M.C. 3rd/1st East Anglian Field Ambulance
Card has George V ½ d. stam
Cancelled DEVONPORT 8.30 PM 31 July 15
TO: Miss G. Woodhouse
Heathlands Foxhall Road Ipswich Suffolk England
30 – 7 – 15
Just a view of our ship were aboard at last G.R.S.
The initials G.R.S are distinctive so they can be linked to a man on the last voyage of the Royal Edward – Gaston Reginald Studd. He was christened in St. Mary Magdelene Church, Little Whelnetham, Suffolk, on the 4th August 1892, the son of George and Mary Ann Studd. His father George was a Policeman who was stationed in different parts of Suffolk as is shown by the birth places of his children:
Charles Edmond Studd, Creeting All Saints; James William Studd, Great Whelnetham; Frederick Rudolph Studd, Little Whelnetham; Gaston Reginald Studd, Whelnetham; Herbert George Studd, Weston Market; Clara May Studd , Elmswell.
All five sons served their country.
In 1911 Gaston, age 18, and his brother Frederick, are designated as farm labourers. They are living with their parents in The Street, Stanton. The three other brothers are in the Regular Army.
Charles Edmond is a Private in the 5th Dragoon Guards. He attested in 1901 and served in the second Boer War.
Herbert George is a Gunner in No. 4 Depot Royal Garrison Artillery in the Royal Artillery Barracks, Admiralty Road, Great Yarmouth.
James William is a Private in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in the Blenheim Barracks, Aldershot.
Both Gaston and Frederick were supporters of their local religious communities. At the Church of England meetings Gaston is a Representative of the Bardwell Baptist Church; Frederick preaches to the Baptist congregation.
The two youngest were soon to follow their brothers in service to their country.
Before the outbreak of war Gaston Reginald volunteered for a Territorial Force unit of the R.A.M.C., the 3rd/1st East Anglian Field Ambulance.
In August 1914 Frederick Rudolph volunteered for the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment, joining the 6th (Service) Battalion.
I have not traced the Miss G. Woodhouse of Gaston’s postcard. Her address, Heathlands, was part of the then-named Ipswich Mental Hospital, founded in 1870. I am presuming she was on the staff: ‘The Heathlands’ catered for private patients.
Gaston could have met her when he was with the T.F. unit in Ipswich.
Only two of George and Clara’s sons can be said to have survived the Great War.
On the 11th September 1915 the Bury Free Press reported under the Heading:
SINKING OF THE ROYAL EDWARD.
Terrible List of Victims.
A PATHETIC ROLL OF HONOUR
3/1st E.A. FIELD AMBULANCE
Studd 2340, Prvt. G.R. of Great Livermere (Police Station).
Private G. R. Studd was the fourth son of P.-c. Studd and Mrs. Studd of the Police Station, Great Livermere, near Bury St. Edmund’s, and was 23 years of age. He was warmly esteemed all who knew him. P.-c. and Mrs. Studd have three other sons, two of whom are serving with the BEF in France. The third is in the King’s Dragoon Guards.
James became Lance Sergeant 12136 in the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards. It was formed on 5th August 1914 and sailed to France. James died of wounds on the 24th of September 1916, in No. 36 Casualty Clearing Station*, the day before the capture of Lesboeufs. He is buried in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt – L’Abbe.
The Bury Free Press of the 7th October 1916 reported:
LIVERMERE P.C.’s SON KILLED AT THE FRONT.
P.-c. Studd and Mrs. Studd have received the sad news that their second son, James Studd, has been killed in France. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved parents and members of the family. This is the second son of theirs who has lost his life during the war, as our readers may remember that Gaston Studd went down on the Royal Edward. Another son, Charles, is still in the fighting line in France, and this week it is expected that yet another son, Fred will cross over to France.
* WAR DIARY: MATRON-IN-CHIEF, Maud McCarthy BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE, FRANCE AND FLANDERS.
CROWN COPYRIGHT: THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, WO95/3988-91
Copied from http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/25.html
Grateful thanks to the late Sue Light, G.W.F. member, for her generous help.
From there to Heilly, where I stayed at 36 CCS. Had dinner, and after dinner, went round the camp. The arrangements here are first-rate, and they have ample accommodation in the operating theatres and in the huge dressing marquees for dressing large numbers of walking cases quite easily. Improvised cupboards and shelves and dressing table placed in position, all in readiness for dressing large numbers of wounded at any moment. A certain number of seriously wounded Germans in marquees set apart for them, looked after by orderlies, the night sister visiting. The Officers’ accommodation here is very good indeed, and also the marquees which are specially set apart for abdominal and gas cases. The Sisters’ Mess is well arranged and most comfortable and the whole staff seemed very well and not at all tired at the moment.
Charles was discharged in July 1913 having served in South Africa, Ireland, Aldershot.
On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment, went to France early in 1915 and became a sergeant in the 7th Battalion. He was badly gassed in August 1918 and sent to Netley Hospital for three months. He was demobilised in March 1919 and after a brief illness died aged 48 on the 4th February 1932.
Frederick had married Annie G. Roper in 1911 and moved to Bardwell. His Battalion the 6th (Service) (“Dawson’s Battalion”) of the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment was formed at Maidstone on 14 August 1914 as part of K1 and came under command of the 37th Brigade in 12th (Eastern) Division (http://www.1914-1918.net/kitcheners.htm). It first went to to Colchester and then to Purfleet in September 1914 before going to billets in Hythe in December. It moved to Aldershot in February 1915 and was sent to France landing at Boulogne on the 1st June.
On the 11 August 1917 the Bury Free Press announced:
ANOTHER BARDWELL SOLDIER
PRVT. F. R. STUDD GETS THE
News has been received that another resident of the village has distinguished himself in the field. Prvt. Fred R. Studd, a well-known and respected former resident on the Green, has been granted the Military Medal. He with a few comrades, kept a position in the German trenches under very heavy and constant fire. The following card has been received by his wife:- “12th Division, Prvt. F. R. Studd, 6th Batt. Royal West Kent Regiment. Your Commanding Officer and Brigade Commander have informed me that you have distinguished yourself by your conduct in the field. I have read their report with much pleasure. M. Scott, Major-General, 12th Division.” Whilst residing in Bardwell Prvt. Studd was a local preacher and member of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, and all his old friends congratulate him upon his gallant action in the field.
This action took place on 17th-18th July during the successful attack to consolidate Captain Thomas’ post in Long Trench, S.E. Monchy. War Diary 6th Bn. QORWKRegt .
In September, Frederick wrote to his friend, Edward Palmer, a press correspondent:
“In all my life I never saw two such contrasts as I have witnessed once, since I have been out here. During the time of a heavy bombardment a lark soared up between our lines whistling for all its worth. If anyone had told me I would not have believed it possible, because I was thinking everything was afraid to be there except us; but all seems to praise God at this time but man, and he delights to mar the beauty of the earth.”
22 September 1917 – Bury Free Press
Frederick’s wife Anne had more news in December. He had been wounded and was now home in hospital at Lewisham.
We regret to announce that Mrs. Fredk. K. Studd, wife of Prvt. F. K. Studd, has just received notification that her husband has been wounded and is now lying in hospital at Lewisham. No further particulars have come to hand at the time of writing and hopes are expressed that the sufferer may experience a safe and speedy recovery. Pt. Studd is a son of P.c. Geo. Studd, who was at one time was stationed in Stanton, and is now at Livermore. 01 December 1917 – Bury Free Press
Frederick was home again in June 1918, and attended a meeting at the Primitive Methodist Chapel. He was one of the speakers, and the Bury Free Press commentated:
The Many friends of Prvt. F. Studd, of the Royal West Kents, were pleased to see him home again during the past weekend. Prvt. Studd was wounded last autumn during a “move” in France.
Herbert George had served as Private 7349 in the 1st King’s Dragoon Guards and as Private 169485 Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) He was in France from November 1914 to March 1918 and then immediately in Egypt for a year. He was discharged at Canterbury in March 1923 under paragraph 32 (a) of the King’s Regulations for the Army and the Army Reserve. (Thanks to Craig of the GWF.)
Herbert followed his father by joining the Police Force and was based in Worlington. Like Police Constable George he dealt with cases of drunkenness, road accidents, issued summons, and gave witness in Court.
Herbert George married Ethel Charlotte Mothersole in 1920 and his daughter Doris Evelyn continued the family tradition of service as did Herbert. On her marriage in 1944 she is in H.M.Forces and Herbert is a Civil Policeman with the Admiralty.
Their father George retired in 1919 after 35 years of service in the Force. There was a presentation at Troston rectory on the 19th of March. The newspaper report said he was highly regarded and it was regretted that he had to retire. For the last seven years he had been in Livermere and Troston and had done his duty admirably. It was also regretted that a suitable house was not available so that P.C. Studd might have resided in the parish on his retirement. He was presented with £4..5s and a list of the subscribers. 5th April 1919 – Bury Free Press
So George and Mary Ann had again to settle in a new home. They found a cottage near Flempton Bridge and had more time for their gardening. They were known for their successful horticulture:
In the September of 1917 Mr. and Mrs. Studd had given parsnips, marrows and beans to the Hospital.
Even at Flempton, George, and Mary Ann, did not have a quiet retirement. In 1932 they were both in the garden, George digging, when they witnessed an accident. and had to attend Court. (The driver, possibly at fault, had glanced at George, “but was then a good way from the bridge.”)
George passed away in 1939 aged 76 and Mary Ann in 1950 aged 87.
GASTON REGINALD STUDD
Date of Death: 13/08/1915 Age: 23
Son of George and Mary Ann Studd, of Glebe Cottage, Flempton, Bury St. Edmund’s.
I find these ephemeral objects of more interest than medals as they come from the men themselves.
How did their families view the cards? Were they treasured as a last link to their lost ones, or was the picture of the ship that took them to their deaths a bitter reminder? Some are fragile, almost illegible, from much holding and showing; others almost as pristine as the day they were thankfully received.
It is a privilege to read them.
Also on this last voyage.
MILLER, HAROLD Pte.572 1/1 East Lancs Field Ambulance (Reserve) R.A.M.C. (TF)
who stayed at Alexandria.
Card Endorsed “SOAS”
Censored by Hand-stamp No 2852
Initialled by Censor
TO: Mrs. Miller Colwyn House Stalybridge Nr. Manchester
This is the boat I’me on, not a bad one is it. Will let you know my address as soon as possible. Have been on Police Duty the last 24 hours. Rotten, Love from Harold
Harold was born 31st July 1882 in Stalybridge, Cheshire, the son of John and Elizabeth Miller. He had two older brothers, Frederick and Charles, and a sister Elizabeth. He and Charles were bankers clerks, Frederick an articled solicitor’s clerk. Father John was a solicitor, senior partner in the firm of Messrs. Buckley, Miller, and Thompson, solicitors Stalybridge. In 1883 he was appointed clerk to the Stalybridge Justices and in1894 he became Town Clerk, retiring in 1913. Their home, 201 Mottram Road, was an eight room semi-detached house in a tree-lined road.
Harold enlisted at Manchester the 2nd December, 1914. and was appointed to the 1/1 East Lancs Field Ambulance (Reserve) R.A.M.C. (TF). He was passed Fit for Service, height 5ft. 51/2, brown eyes, fair hair and with no distinguishing marks. The Approving Officer was Captain Alexander Callam, R.A.M.C. His Regimental No. 572 is among the series given to “Callam’s Own”, next to Pte. 571, James Munro, 2nd/2nd East Lancs Field Amb. RAMC.
See “Burnley & The Royal Edward Disaster”: Denis Otter & Andrew Mackay: http://www.burnleyinthegreatwar.info/royaledwardbook.htm
Harold’s service record shows that he was intended to embark for Egypt the “2nd August 1915”.
This entry is crossed through, and he was Home 2.12.14 to 29.7.15, before he embarked for the E.E.F. (Egypt Expeditionary Force). As the postcard says, Harold travelled on the Royal Edward – on her last voyage. His Medal Index Card has Theatre of War: (3) Egypt. Date of Entry:11/8/15 – the day troops disembarked from the Royal Edward at Alexandria. Having said “Goodbye”, he was to meet up again with some of his former shipmates. The news of the disaster must have shaken his family before they realised he was safe.
There were two continuous periods of service for Egypt: 30. 7.1915 – the day he boarded the Royal Edward – to 25.8.15 and 26.8.15 to 13.6.19. He left for the U.K. on 14th June 1919, a trip which took a fortnight, and after a month at home, had eight months Disembodied Service. His Place of Rejoining in case of emergency was Heaton Park, his medical Category was B2, his Specialist Military Qualifications was Clerk.
While in Egypt, Harold may have suffered an injury, but there is no information about it in his surviving Service Papers.
Andy MacKay has suggested Miller had an accident on the Royal Edward so was put off at Alexandria. A proven case is Trebilcock. See Helston Men page.
His Statement of Services with his Pay record has him as a Private, Clerk, & Corporal, Clerical Section.
A Report to the Ministry of Labour states that Miller’s Unit from which he was discharged was the R.A.M.C. Citadel Military Hospital Cairo. This is also on his Protection Certificate stamped 29/8/19.
Yet there is a form from the Ministry of Pensions, 15/9/19 saying Miller has been awarded a Disablement Pension for Burns on both legs – Attributed to service.
How was he injured – did he have duties outside the clerical department of the Hospital?
Soon after Harold arrived in Egypt his father died in September and the next year in October his brother Frederick Sydney.
 “EGYPTIAN” HOSPITALS. THE CARE OF OUR GALLANT WOUNDED.
(Dr H. T. Ferrar, M.A., F.G.S., late of the Egyptian Civil Service.)