Edwin George Mungham

Edwin George Mungham (or Mungeham) was the older brother of Frederick Thomas Mungham who I wrote about late last month. Four years older than his brother, Edwin bucked the trend of many of his family with a much more white collar job than those who were in the brickfields in Kent, and worked as a government porter in London. He was married in 1910 to Sarah Dunn, and at the time of the 1911 census, they were living in Lewisham.

His records, like his brother’s, were burnt, so I do not know precisely when he joined the war effort, but, regardless of his enlistment date, from the earliest points of the war, he would have been impacted due to his brother’s death in Belgium in the fall of 1915. His father, Edwin Sr., passed away in June 1918, adding another sorrow to his lot.

By the fall of 1918, the 15th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was part of the final offensive of the war.  In Belgium, a series of liberating battles were being fought as the German forces were pushed further and further east by the creeping barrage style fighting of the allied forces.  The morning of October 14, 1918 saw the beginning of the Battle of Courtrai, and the British forces advancing at a pace of 100 yards per minute.  The war diary for the battalion said that:

…too much credit cannot be given to the men who though tired out and suffering of exposure, rose to the occasion, and put up the best show ever given by the Battalion.

Between the 14th and the 19th, landmark after landmark was gained by the British, and this major part of the offensive was a significant part of the 100 days push at the end of the war.  Edwin, as part of “the best show ever given by the Battalion,” was killed in action on October 14, 1918.  100 years ago today.

Edwin, and many others from the Cheshire Regiment, are memorialized at Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Mungeham Tyne Cot (1)

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

Thomas George Henry Newbury

Thomas Newbury was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Sarah Gill and Charles Bester who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Thomas’ Grandparents. I am descended from their third child, Annie, while Thomas is descended from their 6th child, Caroline.

22-year old Caroline Bester married 28-year old widower George Newbury in Edmonton, Middlesex in 1887.  George had lost his wife the previous year, and had two sons, ages 6 and 8.  Five additional children were added to this family between 1888 and 1899, the youngest of which was Thomas.  George Newbury died in 1904 leaving Caroline with five children still in her care from ages 5 to 17.  Her two stepsons were by this time independent.  After four years on her own with the children and seeing her eldest daughter marry, Caroline decided to emigrate with her children, Millicent, William, Annie Constance, and Thomas, to Canada to join her sister Annie (my 3rd Great Grandmother) and her family, who had made the move to Canada the year before.

Caroline and her children, like Annie’s family, settled in Orillia, Ontario, a place where I still have many relatives to this day. Two years later, her daughter, Elizabeth, her husband, Harry Allinson, and their four year old daughter also joined the family in Orillia, and the Allinsons and Newbury families combined households.  Sadly, Elizabeth died soon after giving birth to her second daughter in 1911 due to eclampsia. Millicent Newbury,  like her sister, also had a daughter in 1911, but under very different circumstances.  At the time of the 1911 census, she and the baby were both living in York, Ontario (now Toronto) at Redemption House, a home for women “tired of a life of sin.”  William Newbury had also at this point moved to York, and would eventually relocate further south to the U.S. All in all, 1911 was a difficult year for the Newbury family.

The following years would see a stabilization for the family.  In 1912, Caroline married widower John Henry Coleman Armstrong with whom she would live out the duration of her life.  Annie Constance moved to York and married that same year.  Millicent returned to Orillia with her daughter, and in 1914 married a man who adopted her daughter and with whom she had 3 more children.  Thomas became an apprentice printer.

In June of 1916, at 16 years and 9 months of age, Thomas attested to the CEF and in July of 1916, he sailed from Halifax for England with the 116th Overseas Battalion. He trained at Hastings and Bramshott before being posted with the Canadian Military Hospital in Bramshott.  Throughout the rest of the war he trained with the “boy’s battalion” or the “young soldiers corps,” but he never left left England.  The entirety of his time overseas was in England.  He was among some of the first Canadian soldiers returned to Canada in late November of 1918.  He had just turned 19 the previous month.

In 1921, Thomas married Alice Edith May Latham in Toronto.  He and Alice had 5 children.  Thomas died in 1948 at the age of 48 in Bath, Ontario.

Mr. John Babcock, the last surviving Canadian Veteran of the First World War who passed away in 2010, was also part of the Young Soldiers Corps.  He describes his experience in that corps here.

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.

Alfred William Mungham

Alfred Mungham was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Thomas Mungham and Elizabeth Wood who were his Grandparents, and my 4th Great Grandparents.  I first wrote about this branch of my family back in March when I posted about Herbert George Hewlett who was Alfred’s nephew.

Alfred was the oldest child of William Mungham and Sarah Johnson.  Born in Kent, the family later moved to London where Alfred took up the trade of carpenter and worked for the railway.  He was married with children when he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) on August 7, 1914, 3 days after Germany invaded Belgium and Britain declared war on Germany.  This all sounds relatively similar to other profiles in this series except for one thing: his date of birth.  While most I have profiled had a birth year of the late 1880s to mid 1890s, Alfred was born in 1859.

Alfred married Jane Elizabeth Sutherland in 1881, and they had their first child the following year.  Two more followed between in 1883 and 1885, but sadly, both these children passed away in 1885. Six years passed before Alfred and Jane had another child,  then another in 1895, followed by their youngest in 1900 when Alfred was 41, and Jane was 39. Alfred was 55 years old, and did not lie about his age at attestation.  He was considered fit for serving in the RAMC in a military hospital.  He trained in nursing, and served in Britain for the entire duration of the war, being discharged on the 24th of March, 1919.  This was 4 years and 230 days of service.

Alfred passed away in March of 1935 at the age of 76.

Aaron Gill

Aaron Gill was my first cousin five times removed.

A painter and decorator by trade,  Aaron was born in 1876, making him 40 years old when he reported for duty under the terms of the Military Service Act in  July of 1916.  He was passed by the medical inspectors at the time of his enlistment, but a month later, his superior officers had submitted paperwork declaring that he should be discharged as he was “unlikely to become an efficient soldier.”  The reason cited was a large hernia. The discharge was approved.

I wonder at the mixed feelings that this must of created for him. On one hand, the there was the consistent message that everyone must “do one’s bit.”  Even among my modest count of 52 soldiers, Aaron had three nephews ( David, Ezekiel, and William Gill) and several cousins in uniform, and the societal and familiar pressure may have been intense.  On the other hand, he must have had a sense through the experiences of his personal connections, the consistent casualty lists published in the papers, and families being left without fathers and husbands, that this was not something to take lightly.  He had a wife and eight children that he would have been leaving behind had he been sent to the front.  It is easy to imagine that being discharged would have been, at least in part, a relief.

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.