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.

 

Ezekiel Gill

Ezekiel Gill, with his brothers David and William, formed a trio of Gill brothers that were in the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium. The second son of David and Louisa Gill, he was born on the 27th of December, 1894, just over 123 years ago, in the post-Christmas and pre-New Year’s period, just as we are in right now. In the 1911 census he is listed as still living with his parents, and working as a bottle packer at a glassworks.

On August 3, 1913, at the age of 18, he married Rosa Charlotte Kitchener, and very soon afterwards, they were expecting their first child. Their son, Ezekiel, was born in the spring of 1914, but sadly did not see his first birthday, passing away in early 1915.

Ezekiel’s military service record was destroyed among the other “burnt” service files, so we are left to piece together his service from other sources. Family documents shared with me by a Great Grand niece of Ezekiel suggest that he, like his brother David, first joined the Royal Field Artillery. At the very least, the family is fairly certain that he was present at the Battle of Loos in the fall of 1915, as his second child, David, born in December 1915 was given the middle name “Loos” presumably after this battle.

At some point after the fall of 1915, Ezekiel was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment in the 1st Division.  His service between late 1915 and the fall of 1918 cannot be ascertained through the military record, although he must have had some time on leave as his wife, Rosa, was again expecting a child that fall.

In September of 1918, the Battles of the Hindenburg Line began in which the allied forces worked to break the defensive position the German forces had held since 1916. On the 28th of September, the men of the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment had baths in the morning, and by 5pm they had been ordered to move to the front to relieve the 2nd Infantry Brigade. The next morning marked the beginning of the Battle of the St. Quentin Canal.  The 1st Battalion was ordered to take and hold three strategic objectives, some of which were heavily defended by machine guns. The artillery was supporting them, but bad misty weather, heavy hostile shelling, and a great deal of noise made it difficult for officers on the ground to discern whether their artillery support was even there.

By midday, conditions improved, and the 1st began a creeping barrage toward their three objectives.  This was a gruelling series of hours with heavy artillery creating a screen allowing infantry to slowly advance 50 metres at a time. By dark, their targets had been captured, but at a toll of 55 casualties, including 8 men killed.  Among them was Ezekiel Gill.  He was 23 years old.

Ezekiel’s daughter, Rosa Louisa Gill, was born just over three weeks later.

Ezekiel is buried in Vadencourt British Cemetery in Maissemy, France.  I am honoured to share the CWGC commemorative certificate for my cousin here.