Jane Forbues and William Frederick Hammond

Jane Ellen Forbues was my 1st cousin, 4 times removed.  We are both descended from Thomas Mungham and Elizabeth Wood who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Jane’s Grandparents.  Where I am descended from Thomas and Elizabeth’s son Henry, Jane is descended from their daughter, Jane Emma,

Born in Sittingbourne, Kent in 1858, Jane Emma, in her own way, worked in the brick making industry as did so many of her relatives, as by 1871, at the age of 16, she was housemaid to William Wood, manager of the brickfield in Milton, Kent.  In 1873, at the age of 19, she married David Forbues and the couple set up residence in London.  By the 1881 census, they had four children the youngest of which, born in 1880, being Jane Ellen, and Jane  Emma was supplementing her husband’s income as a general labourer working as a charwoman, essentially a cleaning woman for hire.  The couple had four more children between 1884 and 1892, making for a very busy household.

Jane Ellen was not living with her family at the time of the 1901 census, so it is possible that she, like her mother, had gone into domestic service.  In 1903, she married William Frederick Hammond, and the two soon after had 2 children, Kathleen, born in 1904, and William, worn in 1908.  By the 1911 census, Jane Ellen is listed as a patient in a local hospital, while William has the two children.  Jane Ellen is listed as being employed as a laundrywoman. It seems whatever had her in hospital as patient resolved to the point that she could rejoin her family, as in 1915, they welcomed another child, Elsie.

It appears that Frederick had an early career with the Navy, but in 1916 enlisted in the Royal Scots. He was discharged so that he could re-enlist with the Royal Naval Division in 1917.  This Division was pulled from naval reserves to fight in infantry capacity. In September of 1918, Frederick was with “Anson” Battalion, and participating in the Battles of the Hindenburg Line, a series of battles in which the allied forces were working to break the line and advance further east. The Battle of the Canal du Nord began on September 27 taking the German forces by surprise.

grave

Grave of William Frederick Hammond

Although this was a successful push by the allied forces, Frederick William Hammond did not survive this battle, and died on September 28, 1918, one hundred years and two days ago. He was 37. He was buried at Sucrerie British Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France. I am honoured to share the commemorative certificate from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for my cousin’s husband here.

Jane Ellen was widowed with three children to care for, aged 14, 10, and 3.  In 1921, she remarried to Charles King, a widower with children of his own, and this blended family lived out their lives in London.  Jane, by the time of her death twice widowed, died in 1965 at the age of 84.

 

Frederick Thomas Mungham

Frederick Thomas Mungham was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Thomas Mungham and Elizabeth Sarah Wood who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Frederick’s Grandparents.  I am descended from Thomas and Elizabeth’s 3rd child, Henry, and Frederick is descended from their 9th (and second youngest) child, Edwin.

Edwin Mungham was, as many other of my relations from Kent were, a brick maker.  He was married in 1880 at the age of 21 to 17 year old Sarah Ann Bassant.  The couple had four children between 1882 and 1890. Frederick was the second of these children, born in 1886. By the 1911 census, when Frederick was 25, he was newly married to 17 year old Emily Maud Seager, and the couple was living in Lewisham, London, where Frederick was working as a furniture upholsterer.  They welcomed their first child, Ruby, in 1912. This family also, at some point, started using an alternate spelling of their last name: Mungeham.

Frederick’s records are burnt, therefore I am not entirely sure when he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery, but it must have been early in the war as he was in Belgium by the fall of 1915.  Records related to soldiers who died in the war list Frederick Thomas Mungeham as having been killed in action on October 18, 1915.  Emily, his wife, was pregnant at the time with their second daughter, Freda, who was born in the Spring of 1916.

Frederick is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France, but he is also memorialized in Ladywell cemetery in London.  His second daughter, Freda, died at the young age of 7, and his wife, Emily, memorialized both on this beautiful monument.

Below the inscription to her daughter and husband is also etched “in loving memory of Emily Maud, wife of Frederick, Died 23 February, 1971, aged 87,” marking Emily’s resting place as well.

I am honoured to share the commemorative certificate from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for my cousin here.

 

 

Henry Walter Mungham

Henry Walter Mungham was my 2nd Great Uncle, older brother to my Great-Grandfather, James Charles Mungham, and Albert Mungham who I profiled in the early summer.

Born in England and immigrating to Canada with his family when he was 11, Henry was the oldest of Harry Mungham and Ellen Perring’s eight children.  Harry enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on September 17, 1915, just over a year after Britain and consequently Canada declared war on Germany. He was 18 years old.

Portrait of Henry Walter Mungham in Uniform

Henry Walter Mungham

Henry joined the 45th (Manitoba) Battalion, sailing for England in March of 1916.  The 45th was used as a reserve battalion to reinforce other groups, and in May of 1916, Henry was reassigned to the 31st  (Alberta) Battalion, and sent to join them in France.  The 31st was part of the 6th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Division.

The summer into the fall of 1916 was the famous Somme offensive, a time where the remaining trappings of 19th century warfare gave way to the full-on industrialization of battlefields. The 2nd Canadian Division, including the 31st battalion, became most directly involved in this part of the conflict in September 1916 with the Battle of Fleurs-Courcelette. On the morning of September 15, 1916, the men were ordered to go “over the top” of the trench after a series of artillery fire was meant to clear the way. Zero hour was 6:20am.

In the immediate aftermath of this battle, Henry was listed as “wounded and missing.”  His family was informed, and this remained his status until June of 1917 when he was “declared, for official purposes, to have died on or since September 15, 1916.”  This status was changed yet again in February of 1918, when he was deemed to have been “Killed in Action on September 15, 1916.” Henry was 19 years old.

Henry’s remains were never found, and he is memorialized at the Canadian monument at Vimy.  I remember seeing pictures of my Grandmother, Henry’s niece whom he would have never met, standing beside his name at the memorial when she had the opportunity to visit it. She would sometimes say that her uncle died at Vimy, Canada’s most famous battle, but of course this was not the case.  As mentioned above, Henry’s brother Albert also enlisted, though never went overseas, a blessing for a family that had already lost a son.

I am honoured to share the commemorative certificate from the Commonwealth Ware Graves Commission for my uncle here.  I dedicate this post to my Grandmother and Henry’s niece, Mary Ellen Rajotte (nee Mungham), who passed away earlier this month.

Sydney Smith Bester

Life took over this past two+ weeks, and unfortunately, this project took a back seat to some other important events for my family. We lost someone dear to us, and she will be on my mind as I work through the final weeks of this project. In a good and sweet way.

Sydney Smith Bester was the younger brother of Frank Harold Bester by just over a year:  the tenth of eleven children born to Charles Bester Jr. and Fanny Adams. In the 1911 census, he is listed as living with his parents and older brother Frank, and working as a baker’s assistant in a bakehouse in South Tottenham, London.

In February of 1916, just three months after his brother’s enlistment, Sydney enlisted in the 9th battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment, Royal Field Artillery. Of the 3 years and 91 days between his enlistment and demobilization, Sydney spent 2 years and 279 days in the Mesopotamian theatre of war.  His daughter would have been just over a year old when he enlisted, and his wife would have been pregnant with his son when he was deployed.  By the time he returned to England, his daughter would be 4, and his son, who he likely had never met, would have been nearly 3.

After the war, he returned to London and his family.  His wife passed away in 1943, and Sydney lived alone for the first time in his life for five years until remarrying in 1948.  Sydney passed away in 1957 at the age of 64.

Frank Harold Bester

Frank Harold Bester was my first cousin four times removed.  His Grandparents, Charles Bester and Sarah Gill, were my fourth Great Grandparents. I first wrote about this branch of my family in January with the profile of Walter Francis Bester who was Frank’s nephew.

Frank was born to Charles Bester Jr. and Fanny Adams in 1892.  The ninth of eleven children, his oldest siblings were already out of the family home and starting their own families when he was still a child.  By 1911, when Frank was 18, it has only he and two of his brothers living with his parents in Winchmore Hill (now a suburban area of North London).  His occupation at this time is listed in the census as a draper’s assistant.

Frank attested to the Royal Fusiliers in November of 1915 at the age of 23. He was later transferred to the Royal Scots, then the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment. He was sent to India upon joining this last battalion in March of 1917, then to Mesopotamia in December of the same year where he served the duration of the war, arriving back in Britain in March of 1919.

Frank lived out his days in Wood Green with his wife Lilian whom he married in 1923.  He passed away in 1954 at the age of 61.