Author Archives: FHS FairfordHistorySociety

June to September 1916

In September we remember …

Lance Corporal Victor Charles May(18128)

11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, died 8 September 1916

Lance Corporal May was born in Fairford and enlisted in Cirencester. He was the only soldier from Fairford to be killed in the Salonika theatre. Although regarded almost as a sideshow to the events in France and Flanders, the campaign in Salonika during the First World War was just as bitter and as costly to the combatants. In 1915 British and French forces joined the Serbian Army in attempting to repulse an invasion of Macedonia by Bulgarian, German and Austrian armies. Much of the fighting was concentrated in the area around Lake Doiran, some 30 miles north of Salonika. The 11th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment arrived at Salonika on 24 November 1915 and it soon became apparent that in addition to the opposing armies, the climate, terrain and endemic disease were just as much the enemy. Early in September 1916 the 11th Battalion was holding a recently captured feature known as “Horseshoe Hill” which overlooked the village of Doldzeli, about two miles south west of Doiran. According to the regimental history of the Worcestershire Regiment, the Bulgarians caused several casualties in the first week of September when they bombarded the hill in an effort to retake their lost ground. It is likely that Victor May was killed during this bombardment. Lance Corporal May has no known grave but is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial, Greece.

In August we remember two soldiers who died at the Battle of the Somme.

Dean, Edgar Frederick, Private (30600)

1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, died 1 August 1916, age 19

Private Dean was the second son of Edward and Henrietta Dean of Milton Street, Fairford. The 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment had suffered severe casualties during the opening phase of the Somme offensive and was withdrawn from the line in mid-July to rest and rebuild its strength. It then moved to the Bethune sector and on 30 July took over trenches at Cuinchy near La Bassee. Private Dean was wounded, probably by artillery fire, the day after the Battalion took up its new position and died on 1 August. Edgar Dean was buried in what was then a front line soldier’s cemetery and is now the Cambrin Churchyard Extension, France. Edgar had been a grocer’s assistant in Fairford before enlisting in May 1916 and had only been in France for a fortnight before was killed.

Bennett, William, Private (26535)

10th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, died 19 August 1916, age 30

Private Bennett was born in Fairford and was living in Coronation Street when he enlisted in Cirencester. He was killed during the Battle of the Somme and has no known grave but is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.

In July we remember ….

Gardner, George, Lance Corporal (24648)

8th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, died 10 July 1916

George Gardner was born in Fairford the son of Samuel ‘Shep’ Gardner, a well known shepherd. The family name is usually written as Gardiner in most records including the baptism register which records George’s baptism in Fairford on 6 August 1886. George is listed, at age 14 as a teamsteron a farm in Fairford in the 1901 Census but by 1911 he had moved to Pontypridd, Glamorgan and was working as a coal miner. He enlisted in the Welsh Regiment at Pontypridd. The 8th Battalion arrived in Mesopotamia from Egypt in March 1916 after having been through the horrors of the Gallipoli campaign. As part of the 13th Infantry Division, the Battalion took part in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. Lance Corporal Gardner died of fever and is buried in the Amara War Cemetery in Iraq.

In June we remember ….

Chandler, Frederick William, Lance Sergeant (73877)

A” Company, 28th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan) Regiment, died 6 June 1916, age 24

Lance Sergeant Chandler was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Chandler of 7 Park Street, Fairford. On the night of 5/6 June 1916 the 28th Battalion, Canadian Infantry moved into trenches at Hooge, just to the east of Ypres, in preparation for an attack on Mount Sorrel. At 12 noon on the 6th German artillery began firing at the British and Canadian positions and the 28th Battalion’s front-line trenches were particularly badly hit. Three hours later the Germans set off four huge mines under the Canadian’s position and then charged and took the trenches of the 28th Battalion. It was reported that Lance Sergeant Chandler was “blown up in a trench” which implies that he was the victim of one of the mines. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. His name is also recorded on the headstone of his parents in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Fairford. He had emigrated to Canada before the war, which explains why he was serving with a Canadian infantry battalion.

Varney, George John, Private (23589)

1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, died 20 June 1916, aged 32

Private George John Varney, known as ‘Chick’, was born in Fairford in 1885, one of 11 children of John and Ann Varney of 15 Park Street. In the 1911 census George was now working as a builder’s labourer, living with his widowed mother.

For the first half of 1916 the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment held the front line around Loos and Maroc, just north of Lens. During June the Battalion alternated between manning trenches near Calonne and resting in reserve at Bully Grenay. Although there were no major assaults in this area during the period, there was the constant danger of artillery bombardment and the history of the 1st Battalion mentions that several casualties were caused by German trench mortars at this time. Private Varney was one of 41 men of the 1st Battalion who were killed in this sector between 14 February and 4 July. He is buried in Loos British Cemetery, France.

May 1916

In May we remember ….

Morse, Ernest George, Sergeant (3783), DCM

3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards

Died 11 May 1916, age 36

Sergeant Morse was born in Fairford, and was the son of Charles and Mary Morse of Little Faringdon Crossing, Lechlade, and the husband of Edith Ellen Morse (nee Cox) of 1 Melville Terrace, West Street, Farnham, Surrey whom he married in April 1911. His father Charles was a plate layer for the Great Western Railway for many years. Ernest joined the Coldstream Guards and is listed at the Guards’ Depot at Chelsea Barracks in the 1901 Census. By the 1911 Census Ernest he was recorded as a Sergeant in the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, living with his parents and siblings at 26 Mount Pleasant in Fairford. However, he was living in Farnham when he re-enlisted in Cirencester to join his old regiment. The 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards formed part of the 1st Guards Brigade in the Ypres Salient from 17 March to 20 May 1916 and during that time sustained very light casualties with just 15 men killed. As Sergeant Morse is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery on the French coast near Le Touquet, he was probably wounded and evacuated to one of the large British military hospitals where he then died. Sergeant Morse was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in January 1916 for his service with the Coldstream Guards the citation of which reads “For consistent good work with the battalion transport throughout the campaign, bringing it up to most dangerous places, sometimes night after night. He is untiring in his energy and care of his horses“.

and…Ernest Morse memorial card (2)

Groves, Philip, Private (PO/17844)

HMS Queen Mary, Royal Marine Light Infantry

Died 31 May 1916, age 18

Private Groves was the fifth son of John E A and Ann M Groves of “The Cotswold Arms”, High Street, Burford, a native of Farhill, Fairford although born at Maugersbury, Stow-on-the-Wold.

His father was a shepherd who moved from farm to farm throughout Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. His mother Annie was recorded as living in Mount Pleasant, Fairford at the time of Philip’s death. Philip’s three First World War war medals were recently offered for sale on the internet.

He was killed as a direct result of enemy action at the Battle of Jutland, one of the most important sea battles in British naval history and a battle in which both sides claimed victory, although the German Grand Fleet rarely ventured out in force after this great battle.

HMS Queen Mary was a 27,000-ton battle cruiser that had previously taken part in actions at Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank. During the Battle of Jutland the Queen Mary was hit by shells from the German warships Seydlitz and Derrflinger and blew up with the loss of all but 9 of her 1,275 crewmen. The catastrophic explosions that destroyed the battle cruisers Queen Mary and Indefatigable caused Admiral Beatty to utter his famous remark: “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!” Each of the larger Royal Navy ships carried a complement of Royal Marines who enforced discipline on board ship and could also be used for shore raiding parties. Like all his shipmates, Private Groves has no known grave but is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

April 1916

In April we remember…

Benfield, John Albert, Private (9395) of the 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry who died 18 April 1916, age 21.

Jack Benfield died of disease and is buried at the Kut War Cemetery, Iraq.

The Turkish army besieged Kut in December 1915 and all attempts to relieve the garrison failed. Conditions became steadily worse and a total of 1,025 soldiers died in action and a further 721 from disease or malnutrition. The garrisoned finally surrendered when its supplies ran out on 29 April 1916 and 12,000 British and Indian soldiers were captured, of whom about one third died in captivity.

March 1916

From the Parish Magazine, March 1916

Alteration in the Hour of Evensong

In view of the new Police Regulations about lighting of Houses and Streets, the Vicar and Churchwardens have decided it would be best for the present to have Evensong on Sundays at 3pm instead of 6pm.

The 6 o’clock Evensong on Weekdays has been discontinued. The Intercession Service on Wednesday, March 1st will be at 5pm; and on March 8th the First Day of Lent, and on the following Wednesdays it will be at 6pm.

All this is very confusing, and we may hope that it will not last very long. As the days draw out it will not be necessary to continue these changes.

Meanwhile the congregation is requested to consult the Noticeboard in the Porch; the hours of various services are all given there.

Insurance against Air Raids

Now that the Zeppelins have shown that they are able to fly as far as Liverpool and back again to their base, the Churchwardens have wisely decided that they ought to insure the Church against Air Raids.

The ordinary Fire Insurance does not cover this risk, so an additional Insurance has to be taken out.

Our Archdeacon has also written to all Incumbents and Churchwardens in his archdeaconry advising them to insure. Mr T.J. Penson made the collection of which particulars are given below, and the whole Parish must needs be deeply grateful to him. The rate for this Insurance is 2s per cent, so that £11 10s collected has enabled him to take out a Policy for £11,500.

Private Edward HART died 8 October 1915, age 30

Hart, Edward, Private (1592)

1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment

Died 8 October 1915, age 30

This month we remember Private Edward Hart (1592) of the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment who died 8 October 1915, age 30.

Edward was the son of William and Emily Hart and born in Cirencester in 1885. In 1901 he was an errand boy in Cirencester and in the 1911 census he is a farm labourer living in East End, Fairford with the Newport family. He enlisted in the Regiment in Cirencester.

According to the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment war diaries, the battalion came under heavy bombardment from 11 am – 4pm and the Germans then attacked in dense lines. Private Edward Hart was one of 22 killed that day. His name is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Fairford Doctors for the Army

Two of the four Fairford doctors have joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, vis., Dr. H Bloxsome, senior and Dr Harold Scawin. Dr Bloxsome retired from his professional duties some years ago, and transferred his business to his son, Dr Harold R. Bloxsome. He is a very clever surgeon, and occasionally rendered assistance to his son and to other medical gentlemen in the district, and especially at the Fairford Cottage Hospital, in which institution he took a keen interest. Dr Bloxsome’s large circle of friends are delighted that he, in spite of advancing years, is giving such practical proof of his patriotism by joining the Royal Army Medical Corps, where his skill will no doubt prove extremely useful to our soldiers and sailors. Dr King Turner has kindly consented to act for Dr Scawin during his absence.

Gloucestershire Echo May 24 1915

Dr [Charles] Harold Bloxsome was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1857. He came to Fairford in the early 1880s. He married Agnes Iles, the daughter of Dr Albert Iles in 1884. She died in 1911. Dr Bloxsome’s second marriage was to Eveline Rendell in July 1913. In 1915 he was 58 (his advancing years! – see above). He continued practising medicine right up to his death in 1928, age 70

Dr Harold Willis Scawin qualified in 1909 and served with the RAMC in France. He returned to Fairford and in 1919 he was living in Tudor House, Fairford and died in 1957 in Bristol.

The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars on Service

The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars on Service

…Towards the end of October has been received that the Brigade should be fully equipped and ready to move to the Continent by October 301914 [but for some reason this fell through and they continued their training at home]…

Throughout the process of equipping Major A J Palmer [from Fairford Park], the popular leader of ‘A’ Squadron, continued to show that consideration for his men which always characterised him, and which was highly appreciated by all. Several improvements in clothing, including the warm lining of service tunics, were made, and then men were each provided with a ‘billy-can’ comprising a tin cup and a pot in which to boil water, all enclosed in a woollen case. It was felt that in these things not a little was due to the womanly sympathies of Mrs Palmer, who took deepest interest in the Squadron, and had been with it continuously since mobilisation. Under the impression we were destined for France during the winter months she organised a supply depot of underclothing at Fairford Park from which she intended to maintain a regular supply of bodily comforts to the troops of the Squadron, though subsequent events necessitated a modification of these plans……

(From a Trooper’s Diary. Part 3)

Gloucester Journal Saturday April 15 1915


From Fairford Parish Council minutes

March 24 1915

The Council were requested to arrange some distinctive signal to warn the inhabitants of the approach of hostile Aircraft, should the place be visited by an Aircraft raid. Mr. E. B. Chew proposed & Mr. Baldwin seconded that the signal should be two of the Church bells rung together, provided the consent of the Vicar & Churchwardens were obtained for the purpose.

April 21 1915 Annual Parish Meeting

The Clerk stated that the Vicar & Churchwardens had given their consent for two of the Church bells to be rung together as a signal of the approach of hostile Aircraft.

In September 1915 it was proposed that the bell ringing should be “discontinued during the period of the War; as there is a general feeling that it sounds out of place during these troublous times.”

However, Canon Carbonell was not impressed with this request and said he was not aware of any legislation against bell-ringing. There had been a sharp exchange of letters!

Joseph Daniel CLARGO died 13 March 1914

This month we remember Joseph Daniel Clargo, a Private in the Worcestershire Regiment who died on 13 March 1914, age 35 He was killed during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle which opened with a massive artillery barrage on 10 March. Before the war Joseph Clargo had been in the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment for over eight years and served in India and in South Africa during the Boer War. He had been awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with bars for the defence of Ladysmith (3 November 1899-28 February 1900) and the Battle of Belfast (26-27 August 1900), he was also awarded the King’s South Africa Medal. He left the Army at the end of the Boer War but joined the Reserve and was drafted into the Worcestershire Regiment in 1914. Private Clargo has no known grave but is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial near Bethune, France.

He was the son of James, an agricultural labourer who had died in 1892 and Harriet Clargo (nee Cuss) and in 1901 and 1911 Harriet was living at 5 Dynevor Terrace.

8 March 1915

Bishop’s Visit

The Bishop of Gloucester (Dr Gibson) paid a visit to Fairford on Monday [8 March], and held a confirmation service in St Mary’s Church. There was a large number of candidates from Fairford Rural Deanery. In the evening the Bishop dedicated a reredos and altar in the Lady Chapel in Fairford Church which has been presented by Earl Beauchamp in memory of his direct ancestors, Sir Roger and Lady Lygon, who are buried in a vault in the North Chapel of Fairford Church. There was a large attendance at the dedication service. Early on Tuesday morning the Bishop consecrated the new altar and celebrated Holy Communion to about sixty communicants.

Gloucestershire Echo Wednesday 10 March 1915