.jump-link{ display:none }

Friday, 13 November 2015

Military Monday - Families Bereft by War

Few families could have escaped the tragedies of the First World War.- and mine was no exception.

In this week of Remembrance, I have  been paying tribute to  the men in my extended family who died serving their country.    

Part 1 remembered great uncles John & GeorgeDanson,  
Part 2 remembered great uncles Arthur William Matthews & Frederick Donaldson.   

Here I profile the relations of my cousin Stuart  - James Heywood Knowles, John Alexander Langdon and brothers Percy Douglas Coombs & William Ernest Coombs.

JAMES HEYWOOD KNOWLES was Stuart's 1st cousin twice removed i.e. their Grandfathers  were cousins. James was born in December  1895 in Oldfham, Lancashire, son of James and Lucy  Knowles, and brother to John, Ada, Ernest, Bertha, Harold and Lucy.  

In the 1911 census, the young 15 year old James was a "piecer mule",  which involved leaning over  the spinning mule to repair any broken threads - an at times dangerous job  often undertaken by children.   Other  family members were likewise employed in the cotton mills.  James middle name came from  his granmdmother Mary Heywood.

James served in the 2nd Battalion of the Shropshire Light Infantry, and was  killed  on 25th May 1915 aged just  19 and unmarried.   He has no known grave and his name is on (Panel 49).of the Menim Gate Memorial at Ypres.   

The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields.  Unveiled on 24 July 1927, it bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. 

Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate whilst the Last Post is sounded. in a moving ceremony which draws people from across the world.  

Menin Gate at Ypres

JOHN ALEXANDER LANGDON  was the youngest child of son of William Edward Langdon and Janet MacKay (a great, great aunt),  born 19th May 1885 in Glasgow and brother to Cecilia, Matilda,William, Annie  Caroline and Edward.   In the 1901  census, John was working as a clerk and  living with his widowed father, a retired stevedore and two sisters Caroline and Cecily. 

In 1909 at the age of 24  he married Margaret Wallace,and had a son John Wallace Langdon.  

John senior served in the the Highland Light Infantry and  was killed on the Somme on the 26th March 1918 at the age of 32, leaving  his young son fatherless at only 7 years old.   

John  has no known grave   and his name is on the memorial at Pozieres Cemetery, which was unveiled in 1930.  It lists the names of 14,657 British and South African soldiers who were killed between 21 March 1918 and 7 August 1918, during the German advance known as the Spring Offensive  and the period of allied consolidation that followed

PERCY DOUGLAS COOMBS &  WILLIAM ERNEST COOMBS   were great  uncles of Stuart's wife.  They came from  a large family of 10,  children  of  Edward Henry Coombs, a grocer,  and Ann Elizabeth Shaw - Edward, Frederick, William, Anne, Clara, Walter,  Lillian, Joseph, Percy and  Hilda. 

the 1901 census revealed a large household of 16  living at Plaistow, West Ham, Essex -   parents Edward and Ann, their 10 children ranging in age from 2 to 20,   two servants and two visitors. 17 year odl William was a clerk. 

10 years on in the 1911 census Percy also was described as a clerk, as were Clara, Walter and Joseph. whilst William's occupation was listed as "traveller".  

Percy, the youngest son,  was born in 1895.  He served as  2nd Lieutenant with the 7th Battalion of the Essex Regiment, and died 14 April 1917 aged 21.   He has no known grave and is his name is shown on the memorial of the Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery at Arras (Bay 7) - below.

Casualty Record Detail

William Ernest Coombs was born 11th July 1883, the third eldest of the 10 children. He was a private serving with the machine gun corps, when he was killed  27th May 1918  at the age of 34, unmarried.  He too has no known grave and is remembered on the memorial at Soissons Dept. de L’Aisne,  Picardie France. 

1917-18  must have been  tragic years for the family, for they marked the deaths not only of Percy and William, but also of their  mother Ann and sister Lilian - a family left bereft by war. 


With thanks to Stuart for contributing so many of the photographs 

 taken this year on  a journey to the First World War battlefields  

Military Monday is one of many daily blog prompts from www.geneabloggers.com

to encourage writers to record their family  history.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.