9 March 2018


Thomas Henry Mace, to give him his full Sunday-best name, was born in 1898 in Mildenhall, Suffolk, fourth of the five children of Charles & Mary Ann (nee Fuller).  He grew up, along with parents and siblings, in Turnpike Road, Barton Mills and enlisted in the Suffolk Yeomanry.

He was transferred to the 5th Suffolks and was killed in action in Palestine one hundred years ago today.  He is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery in present-day Israel.

We will remember them.

15 January 2018


Percy George Beasley was my second cousin twice removed and was born on 19 August 1889 in Aldridge, Staffs, sixth of the seven children of William & Emma (nee Billington).  He grew up in Aldridge and went to work on the railways, following in the footsteps of his station-master father.  In 1915, he married Clara Perry in Wolverhampton.

The Walsall & South Staffs Chronicle takes up the story:

AB Percy George Beasley, youngest son of Mr W Beasley, formerly station master at Aldridge, is reported by a chaplain to have died in France on January 13, after three months active service with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.  A married man, 28 years of age, his wife resides at Station Road, Norfield, and before joing the Colours, in June last year, he was employed by the Midland Railway Company, at Northfeld.  His parents reside at Station Road, Aldridge, and as a boy he attended the Aldridge Endowed School.  A brother is servving in German East Africa. "

We will remember them.

25 November 2017


Frederick Henry Pates was my second cousin three times removed, and was born in Basford, Notts, in 1890, oldest of the five children of William and Rose (nee Scrivens).  Christened on 10 February that year, the family moved to Papplewick by the time of the 1901 census and Frederick was at school.

In 1911, by now the head of the household after the deaths of his parents, Frederick was head horseman in Bestwood, Notts.  In 1914 he married Florence Bailey and they begat two children.  He enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and died of wounds in Flanders on 25 November 1917.  He is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

We will remember them.

24 November 2017


Henry Culpin was born on 14 September 1895 in the small Cambridgeshire village of Little Downham, the youngest of the five children of Henry & Hannah (nee Stevens), and was christened on 23 October in the same year at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Ely.  By 1901 Henry was living in New Barns Road in Ely, along with his mother & siblings (his father having died a few months before Henry was born).  In 1911 he was a farm labourer, living with his mother in Deacon's Lane, Ely.

When war came, Henry enlisted at Bury St Edmunds, into the 7th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment, becoming a Lance Corporal by the time of his death.

He died of wounds one hundred years ago today and is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery. 

We will remember them.

12 November 2017


On this Remembrance Sunday let me introduce you to my third cousin once removed George Hills.  He was born in Chatteris, Cambs, in 1886, the second of ten children of George and Naomi (nee Wadlow).  In 1891 the family was across the county border in the Huntingdonshire town of Ramsey but by 1901 they were back in Cambs, living in Doddington.

George was clearly a regular soldier as he was serving as a private with 2nd Beds in 1911, stationed in Bermuda/Jamaica, a much better billet than his final one.  As his second cousin Benjamin Langford also served with 2Beds, we know that they arrived in Belgium in October 1914.  The Regiment's War Diaries (http://bedfordregiment.org.uk/index.html) fill in the details. 

George died on 12 November 1917 and is buried in Bailleul  Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord.

George's younger brothers Charles and Horace also lost their lives in the Great War.

We will remember them.

12 October 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: James Eastwell & Albert Free

Two of my distant relatives lost their lives on this day one hundred years ago.....

JAMES HENRY EASTWELL was born on 7 March 1880 in Swan Creek, Queensland, fifth child of Edward & Mary Ann (nee Carter).  His grandfather John Eastwell was born in Great Gransden, Hunts, and took the family to Australia in the 1850s.

I know very little about James, except that he was most likely single at the time of his death, on the basis that his CWGC citation gives his parents as next of kin.  However, I do know that he enlisted in the Otago Regiment, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and I found his name on a number of NZ Rolls of Honour in their newspapers (courtesy of www.paperspast.natlib.gov.nz).  They all gave the name of Miss E Faulkner as (possible) next of kin.

The "Dominion" newspaper, dated 2 November 1917, sums up the scale of NZ losses:- "....The casualty list issued yesterday was one the longest lists, if the the longest, that has been issued in New Zealand.  The total casualties reported were 1240 and in that number there were 384 deaths."  "....nearly all of the causalties occured about October 12."

James is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

ALBERT ERNEST FREE was born in Corack, Victoria, in 1894.  Another of my ANZAC relatives, he was the third and youngest child of Samuel and Fanny (nee Shepherd), and his elder brother was also to lose his life to the Great War.

Albert enlisted on 24 July 1916, having been working as a farm hand.  He was reported "Missing in Action" on this day and a Court of Enquiry in May 1918 decided that he was killed in action today one hundred years ago.  He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

We will remember them.

25 September 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: William Ablewhite

William Henry Ablewhite was born in 1897 in Grantham and christened on 15 September that year at St John, Spittlegate, Lincs.  Third of seven children of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth (nee Culpin), he was a 13-year-old errand boy at the time of the 1911 census and may, or may not, be my sixth cousin twice removed - we may share a common ancester who was born circa 1685.

William was serving with the 1st Battalion, the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at the time of his death one hundred years ago.  He is buried in Tyne Cot cemetery, one of the largest CWG cemeteries.

We  will remember them.