George Arthur Saggers

George Arthur Saggers was my first cousin three times removed.  We are both descended from Henry John Mungham and Eliza Francis Ing who were my third great grandparents and George’s Grandparents.  Henry and Eliza were both born in Kent to families making their living in brick making. They married in 1871 when Henry was 24 and Eliza was 18. They lived at least the first 12 years of their married life in Kent where Henry also worked as a brick maker, and where they were living when their first five children were born, including my 2nd Great Grandfather, Harry, and George’s mother, Rosetta.

Sometime between 1883 and 1886, the family relocated to Essex, where Henry (as well as my 2nd great grandfather Harry) continued his trade in brick making.  Henry and Eliza went on to have 5 more children in Essex.

Born in 1877, Rosetta Mungham was the third child of Henry and Eliza.  She is not listed as living with her family at the time of the 1891 census, at which time she would have been 14, so it is possible that she had taken work as a servant in her youth.  In 1899 at the age of 22, she married Alfred George Saggers a general labourer from Essex, and their first child, George Arthur, was born the following year.

Being born in 1900, George was too young to join the war effort at its outset, but in the summer of 1917, 17 year old George enlisted in the Royal Navy for the duration of the war.  Hi occupation at the time was listed as an engine cleaner, and his rank was a stoker.  He trained at a shore establishment in Devonport (Plymouth), and on December 6, 1917, he was assigned to HMS Aurora, a fairly new Arethusa Class light cruiser.

HMS Aurora

HMS Aurora

Aurora had already see her fair share of significant action in the war, taking part in major battles and the sinking of some significant targets. In 1918, soon after George would have been assigned to her, she was reassigned to the 7th Light Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet.  HMS Aurora was one of the ships present at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet, in November 1918.

The role of a stoker was one of the most difficult and thankless of the Navy.  As is outlined in a 2013 PhD thesis for the University of Exeter, stokers were regarded as the lowest class of men, yet without them, the great ships of the fleet would never have left port.

George served aboard Aurora until March of 1919, and there is little record of his life after the war.  He passed away in Essex in 1966 at the age of 65.

 

Thomas Albert Clements

Thomas Albert Clements was the younger brother of Frederick Charles Clements. Born in 1885 in Kent, he did not follow in the family tradition of working in the brickfields, but rather became a whitesmith (a tinsmith). His service records are not available, so I am not sure exactly when he joined the war effort, but it would have been before January of 1917.  He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was eventually sent to the Mesopotamian theatre in modern day Iraq.

All armies and navies relied heavily on oil, so it was not a surprise that given Germany’s ties to the Ottoman empire, Britain moved swiftly to control oil pipelines and oilfields in and around Basra.  Amara was occupied in June 1915, and it immediately became a hospital centre. By April 1917, seven general hospitals and some smaller units were stationed there.  Corporal Thomas Alberta Clements was stationed at the 1st Base General Hospital when he was killed on April 27, 1917. He was one of over eleven thousand British personnel killed in the Mesopotamian theatre.  He was 32 years old.

He was buried at the Amara War Cemetery, but due to the decades long instability in the region, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has not been able to access the site to maintain the cemetery or photograph the memorials.  In lieu, they have established books of remembrance at the CWGC head office where the public can pay their respects. I am honoured to share the CWGC commemorative certificate for my cousin here.

Frederick Charles Clements

Frederick Charles Clements was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Michael Ing and Mary Ann Macey who were his maternal grandparents, and my fourth great grandparents. Michael Ing was born in 1826 in Boughton-Under-Blean, Kent.  His trade was a brick maker.  In 1850, he married Mary Ann Macey, the daughter of another brick maker, a very common trade in Kent during the 19th century. Michael and Mary Ann were 25 and 20 respectively when they married.  Together they had eight children:  I am descended from their oldest child, Eliza Frances.  Eliza’s younger sister, Sarah Ann, worked as a domestic servant on a large farm in as a very young woman, but in 1876, at the age of 22, she married Arthur Clements, an omnibus driver from Herne, Kent.  Arthur and Sarah started their family soon after starting with their daughter Elizabeth Jane, born in 1878; Frederick Charles, born in 1880; and Thomas     Albert, born in 1885.  Later, Arthur and Sarah also adopted a young girl, Phoebe Ing, who must have been a relation of Sarah’s.

By the time he was 20, Frederick was working in the brickfields with his father. In 1911, all the Clements siblings, Elizabeth, age 33, Frederick, age of 31, and Thomas, age 26, were all still living with their parents and their adopted sister. In 1914, the war would disrupt this family unit with Frederick attesting to the South Staffordshire Regiment on September 4, 1914, mere weeks after Britain formally declared war.  Frederick’s records are quite difficult to read, but it seems he was initially with the 1/5 battalion, then transferred to the 3/5 battalion.  It seems likely that it was with the 1/5 battalion in the 46th Division that he spent his recorded time on the Western Front throughout 1915. This would have included time in the final stages of the Battle of Loos in October of 1915.  In the beginning of December of 1915 it appears that the battalion was sent to Egypt, but Frederick was not among those who went as he was then transferred to a reserve battalion stationed in England.

Loos2

British Troops at the Battle of Loos, Autumn 1915.

Frederick’s brother, Thomas, was sent to the eastern theatre, and as we will learn next week, this was a sad turn of events for the Clements family.

Many years after the war, in 1933, Frederick married Esther Annie Rosina Larkman who was over 30 years his junior.  The two lived out their lives in Kent, and Frederick lived well past his 80th year.

 

Ernest Robert Mungham

Ernest Robert Mungham was my first cousin, four times removed.  He and I are both descended from Thomas Mungham and Elizabeth Sarah Wood who were my 4th great grandparents and his grandparents.  I wrote more about Thomas and Elizabeth in the post about Herbert George Hewlett, who was Ernest’s second cousin.  Where I am descended from Thomas and Elizabeth’s son Henry, and Herbert was descended from their first son, William, Ernest was the son of their son Alfred, born in 1845 in Milton, Kent.

As early as the age of 16, Alfred is listed in the census records as a labourer, later detailed in the 1871 census as a “brickfield moulder.” He married Elizabeth Maria Fagg in  1867 at the age of 22.  They went on to have eight children. Ernest, their 6th, was born in 1879.  Ernest followed in his father’s footsteps and was also a brickfield labourer.  He married Ada Louisa Wood in 1905 when he was 26, and they had three children between 1905 and 1911.  When war broke out in 1914, 35-year old Ernest was supporting his wife, two daughters, ages 9 and 6, and son, age 3.

Ernest’s service record is one of the many burnt records, so I do not have a precise timeline of when he attested and where he served.  From the honour roll and medal records, we can tell that he served with the Prince of Wales’ Leinster Regiment, with the 7th and 2nd battalions.  The 7th battalion was raised in October 1914, and it is likely that this is the unit to which Ernest volunteered.  This battalion was in France from December of 1915 until it was disbanded and troops were dispersed to various battalions.  Ernest was reassigned to the 2nd battalion, and was eventually discharged in August of 1918 as physically unfit.  Again, due to his record not being available, I do not know why he was considered unfit.

Sadly, just a month after his discharge, Ernest’s second daughter, Winnifred Florence, died at the age of 10.  Four years later, Ernest and Ada lost another daughter, Joan, at or just after birth.

Ernest lived the rest of his days in Kent, passing away in 1949 at the age of 70.

 

 

 

Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius

Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Michael Ing and Mary Ann Macey who were his Grandparents, and my 4th Great Grandparents. Mary Ann and Michael were both born in Kent, and Michael was a brickfield labourer.  They were married in 1850, and went on to have eight children.  I am descended from their eldest daughter, Eliza Francis, while Joseph is descended from their youngest daughter, Clara Alice.  Clara was born in Faversham, Kent in 1873.  In her teenage years, she was a domestic servant, including being resident in London at the time of the 1891 census.  She married Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius Sr. in July of 1892 when she was 19, and her husband was 21.  Joseph Sr. was a brick maker like Clara’s father.  Together Joseph and Clara had eleven children, many of whom followed in their family’s footsteps and also worked in brick making.  Joseph Jr., however, took his own path.  By the 1911 census, 18-year old Joseph was no longer living in Kent. He had joined the Royal Field Artillery and was living in the Woolwich Barracks in London.  At some point in his time in London, he met Elizabeth Fryers, daughter of a journeyman carpenter at a chemical works in London.  Joseph and Elizabeth married in July of 1914.

Cornelius tree

Abbreviated family tree of Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius Jr.

Less than two months after his marriage, Joseph was in France.  The 37th battery of the RFA was put under the command of the 27th Battalion in the 5th Division. On December 25th, 1914, the Christmas day that so many men had said they were sure they would be home for, Joseph and Elizabeth’s daughter, Elizabeth Doris, was born.  I do not have Joseph’s service record, so I cannot know for sure, but I dearly hope that at some point during his service, he was able to have leave to return to Britain to meet her.

In April 1917, the 37th Battery was one of the artillery units supporting the creeping barrage at the Arras offensive, the overall series of battles that included the famous operations and Vimy Ridge early in the month.  Later on in April, though Vimy had been a success for the allies, the offensive had bogged down.  In the war diary for the battalion, there is a description of a direct hit on the night of April 25-26.

War diary exerpt

Excerpt from war diary of 27th Battalion.

I believe that when that gun of the 37th battery was hit, Gunner Joseph Webber Raglan Cornelius was fatally wounded.  He died at the 22 Casualty Clearing Station in Bruay on April 27, 1917: One hundred and one years ago yesterday.  He is buried at the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension in Pas-de-Calais, France.  I am honoured to share a the commemorative certificate from the CWGC for my cousin here.

Herbert George Hewlett

Herbert George Hewlett was my 2nd cousin three times removed.  We are both descended from Thomas Mungham, an agricultural labourer, and Elizabeth Sarah Wood who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Herbert’s Great Grandparents.  They were born in Kent, England in 1809 and 1921 respectively.  They were married in June of 1841, but their son, William Mungham was already 7 years old at the time, which would have made his mother 13 at the time of his birth.  Whether this was indeed the case or William was a child from another union, he was certainly claimed by both as their son.  Herbert was descended from William, while I am descended from Thomas and Elizabeth’s third son, Henry.  In all the census data, William is listed as a labourer, sometimes agricultural and sometimes industrial such as on the railway.  He married Sarah Elizabeth Johnson in 1858, and they had six children together, including Herbert’s mother, Elizabeth Ann who was born in Kent in 1861.  In 1889, she married widower Joseph Hewlett who had three children from his first marriage, aged 8, 5 and 4.  Joseph and Elizabeth went on to have four more children together, the youngest of whom, Herbert, was born in 1896.

Hewlett

Abbreviated family tree of Herbert Hewlett

In the 1911 census, Herbert is listed as 15 years old, living with his parents and three of his older siblings, and working as a newspaper boy in Dover, Kent.  He joined the Royal Navy in May of 1915 when he was 19 years old as a stoker, being trained at Pembroke II in Chatham. He then served aboard the HMS Jupiter and HMS Blenheim.

He was aboard HMS Jupiter at a time where she was assigned to the Medeterranean sea to the Suez Canal Patrol, then to the Red Sea, then back to the Suez Canal with a home port in Port Said, Egypt.  This must have been an extraordinary experience for a newspaper boy from Dover. HMS Jupiter returned to England in November 1916, at which time Herbert spent some more time at Pembroke II, close to his family in Kent, before being assigned to HMS Blenheim in February of 1917.  This ship was a depot ship to the destroyer fleet throughout the rest of the war.

Herbert married three times in his life, and I found no indication that he ever had children.  He died in 1985 at the age of 89.

Frederick Arthur Baldock

Turning to a more distant relative, Frederick Arthur Baldock was my 4th cousin twice removed on my mother’s side.  We are both descended from William Mungham and Sarah Robinson who were my 5th Great Grandparents, and Frederick’s 3rd Great Grandparents. As a genealogical aside, William Mungham (1771-1848) of Doddington, Kent is as far back as I have traced my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.  Frederick is descended from William and Sarah’s daughter Sarah Ann, while my family is descended from their son, Thomas.

Sarah Ann Mungham, born in approximately 1795, married John Butler in 1815, and went on to have at least 14 children.  Their second son, John, born in 1822 in Newnham, Kent and his wife, Mary Strover had 8 children, the oldest of whom, Eliza Butler, born in 1842 in Newnham, was Frederick’s grandmother.  She married James Edward Baldock in 1865 in Faversham, Kent.  James Baldock is listed in the 1871 to 1911 census records as “farm servant indoor,” a “farm bailiff,” (he would have been employed by the land owner to ensure that tenant farmers were taking care of the farms and paying the rent on time, a “yardman” and “shepherd,” so his was an agricultural life.  James and Eliza’s first son, Alfred, was born in 1867, and was raised in this agricultural life.  As late as the 1891 census, he was still living with his parents, and in 1894, he married Rebecca Goldup in East Ashford, Kent, also working in the agricultural trade, then later as a maltster’s labourer for a brewer. Their first child, Frederick Arthur, was born in 1896. In the 1911 census, three years before the outbreak of the war, Frederick was 15, and listed as a school boy.

In the spring of 1914, two months before the formal beginning of the war, Frederick joined the Royal Navy training at Pembroke I (a shore establishment in Chatham, Kent) as an ordinary seaman. He had already served on HMS Queen, but was back at Pembroke I when war broke out in August of 1914.  By August 29, he was onboard HMS Undaunted, where he was promoted to Able Seaman, and where he served until the end of July 1917. In December 1914, HMS Undaunted provided support to the Cuxhaven Raid, a combined sea and airstrike with the goal of bombing the dirigible sheds housing German zeppelins.  The National Archive has an account of the raid from one of the pilots here. As the blog post points out, weather and the general riskiness of the operation meant that “the raid had not been a success in terms of achieving its target, since none of the seven aircraft was able to find the Zeppelin shed, but it was a milestone in the development of aircraft-carrier based operations.”

WW1Memoir-SmithGC1914CuxhavenRaid(1)

Contemporary postcard showing the Royal Navy surface force at the Cuxhaven Raid.

Frederick served throughout the rest of the war at a variety of shore establishments and ships, and was discharged in 1923.

He married Eva Ethel Law in 1922, and lived in Kent for the rest of his life, passing away in 1964 at the age of 68.