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.

 

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.