Wednesday 26 October 2011
Writtle war memorial
I was in the pretty Essex village of Writtle today, and not for the first time, spent some time looking at the names on the war memorial there. I was explaining to my six-year-old daughter how every man remembered there was somebody's son, and may well also have been a brother, husband or father. We started looking at instances where the same name was repeated and I took the photo below which shows three Everard men and four Brewster men. I resolved to see if they were related and to see how much, in the space of an hour or two, I could find out once I reached home.
The first online resource I used was Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW). Both Ancestry and FindmyPast have this data-set as part of their online offering, (both licensed from The Naval & Military Press) but Ancestry's search is, for once, better than that over at FMP and so this is the version that I use. I also have the Naval & Military Press CD ROM of SDGW which is better still, but for this exercise, the online versions suffice.
SDGW can give a man's place of birth, residence and place of joining. It can also provide supplemental information such as a previous regiment served with and also distinguishes between killed in action, died of wounds, died etc.
SDGW is always only half of the picture however. To view details of where a man is buried and to see details of next of kin, a visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour website is also essential. The CWGC details, whilst they may not always give next of kin information (this dependent upon whether it was supplied in the first place) may state a man's age or give supplemental information about the man's regiment. For instance, it was the CWGC which noted the Company that Robert Brewster (see below) was serving with when he died.
The information about when a man joined his regiment comes from my own research into army numbers and I have a separate army service numbers blog - and soon to be separate searchable website - devoted to this subject. Here then, beneath the photo of the duck pond at Writtle on a glorious autumn day (memorial just visible on the right) are the basic military details of the Everard and Brewster men.
L/11300 Private Percy Edward Everard, 7th Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment). Born in Writtle, living in Writtle, enlisted at Chelmsford (as a career soldier) in Feb/Mar 1916. Killed in Action on the 28th September 1916. The son of Joseph and Margaret Everard of 4 Front Road, Oxney Green, Writtle, Chelmsford. Buried in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval (Somme), France.
88286 Private William Henry Everard, 25th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, formerly 27294 Norfolk Regiment. Born in Writtle, living in Writtle, enlisted at Chelmsford. Joined the Norfolk Regiment in January 1917, transferred to the MGC in shortly afterwards (precise date unknown, but before May 1917). Died of Wounds on the 2nd May 1918. The son of Frederick and Sarah Everard, of Writtle. Buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.
125412 Gunner Isaac J Everard, Royal Garrison Artillery. Joined the RGA in late 1916 or early 1917. Died 28th November 1918. Buried in Writtle (All Saints) Churchyard.
13021 Guardsman Arthur Brewster, 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. Born in Writtle, enlisted at Romford in December 1906. Killed in Action on the 2nd November 1914. Commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.
7591 Lance-Corporal James R Brewster, 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment. Born in Highwood, living in Writtle, enlisted at Warley, Essex in June 1903. Killed in Action on the 28th April 1915. Commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
3/3536 Lance-Corporal Robert Arthur Brewster, 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment. Born in Writtle, living in Writtle, enlisted at Chelmsford in the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion in November 1914; subsequently posted to the 2nd Battalion. Killed in Action on the 1st July 1916 whilst serving with C Company. Aged 26, the son of Mrs A M Brewster of Oxney Green, Writtle, Essex, and the late J Brewster. Buried in Serre Road Cemetery No 2.
T/31141 Driver William Thomas Brewster, Army Service Corps. Born in Writtle, living in West Croydon, enlisted at Warley, Essex. Enlistment date unknown. Died on the 12th June 1915. Buried in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France.
ARE THEY RELATED? THE EVERARD MEN.
Information provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission does not give a lot of information about next of kin. Percy and William Everard were certainly not brothers - different parents are noted - and Isaac Everard, dying late in 1918, gets no mention on SDGW and has no next of kin noted. The 1911 census however, notes that he was Isaac John M Everard, a 25-year-old married bricklayer. His wife was 27-year-old Rose Ellen Everard and the couple was living with others at the home of 60-year-old George Day at The Causeway, Writtle. So Isaac would have been born in about 1886. A check of the Birth records reveals an Isaac John Everard whose birth was registered at Chelmsford in the September quarter of 1885. The 1891 census in turn shows him living at Oxney Green, Writtle, the son of Samuel and Sarah Everard.
So, three Everard soldiers and three different fathers: Samuel Everard, Frederick Everard and Joseph Everard. Were these men related? A Frederick and a Samuel Everard both appear as brothers (living in Writtle) on the 1861 census and 1871 census returns. Percy Everard, the son of Joseph and Margaret, was born in 1897 and he appears on the 1901 census as a three-year-old. Joseph, born in Writtle, was 34-years-old and so should appear on census returns from 1871. I couldn't find him on the 1871 census but he's there on the 1881 census along with his siblings including a brother.... called Frederick.
So in summary, the Everard men on the Writtle memorial were not brothers but William Henry Everard and Isaac John Everard could have been cousins. Then again, William could also have been the cousin of Percy. It would seem likely that there was a family connection and we also know, as a result of determing Percy's age from the Birth, Marriage and Death records and the 1901 census that he joined the army as a 19-year-old. The L/ prefix to his Queen's number tells me that he joined as a regular soldier, almost certainly signing up for seven years and five on the reserve rather than simply for the duration of the war. I'll come to the Brewster men on another day.