The ALLARD family – Private ALLARD, Maurice William (1897-1918) and Private ALLARD, Reginald Bruce (1898-1988)

Maurice and Reginald Allard were born at 5 St Mary’s Road, Great Bowden, in 1897 and on 13th August 1898 respectively.  Their parents, Maurice Reginald Allard (1868-1937) and Annie Dods (1869-1941), had married at Market Harborough parish church in 1896.  They moved to Leicester before 1901 and were both active members of the St Martin’s congregation from at least 1906.  Maurice senior – a sealskin tanner in 1897 but later a journalist – was a sidesman for 22 years.  The family lived in Harrow Road until 1910 when they moved to 5 Winchester Avenue, remaining until Mr Allard died.

Allard 5 Winchester Avenue
5 Winchester Avenue, where the Allard family lived from 1910-1937


Maurice, who had hazel eyes and dark brown hair, was baptised at Great Bowden on 28th June 1897.  He attended Wyggeston Boys School from 1910 to 1912.  As a young man he worked as a clerk at Linglie Mill in Selkirk, Scotland.  He enlisted into the 9th Royal Scots at Edinburgh on 23rd August 1915, having recently completed 3 months at Leicester Junior Training Corps.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal for a short while but reverted to Private on embarkation.  Before leaving for France, Maurice put his affairs in order and wrote a will leaving everything to his mother Ann.  He served in France for three months 1916-1917 then returned to England.  He was discharged from the Army as ‘unfit for further service’ on 20th April 1917, due to a malformation of the anus which had been present since childhood and been operated on unsuccessfully.  At first the Army refused to accept that active service had aggravated his condition and declined to award Maurice a pension, instead giving him a gratuity of £30.  However, his father sent documents supporting Maurice’s claim that war service had made his condition worse and affected his overall health and the Army eventually awarded a pension.  He was also given the Silver War Badge.

Maurice returned to work as a hosiery manager but died on 12th October 1918 at home at 5 Winchester Avenue, of pneumonia almost certainly caused by co-called Spanish Flu.  As he had planned in 1916, concerned about dying in battle, his estate of £180 16s 9d was given to his mother.  Maurice’s funeral took place at St Martin’s a few days later and he was buried at Welford Road Cemetery.  He is first-named on the St Martin’s parish war memorial.  Maurice typifies the ad-hoc approach to commemorating the fallen at a local level because whilst he did serve as a soldier during the war his death was probably unrelated, whereas others who died later on as a direct result of wounds and illness sustained on active service did not appear.

Meanwhile Reginald, who was born on 13th August and baptised at Great Bowden on 29th October 1898, worked as a commercial clerk for Lennard Bros, Asylum Street (ladies’ shoe makers), before enlisting at Leicester in February 1917 aged 18.  He joined the 1st Royal Fusiliers and was appointed Lance Corporal but soon deprived of this rank due to “neglect of duty”.  Reginald seems to have found it difficult to adjust to army life.  Just six weeks later he was punished for non-appearance at morning inspection and soon after for being found in a barrack room during an air raid.  He left Surrey for the front with the 12th East Surrey Regiment and fought in France between April and September 1918 before sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck and shrapnel wound to the head.  His name was published in the Weekly Casualty List (Wounded) on 15th October, along with a great many of his regiment.  He was treated at No 7 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples and then No 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington before being transferred to the Royal Engineers Railway Commandment Authority in February 1919 for rehabilitative training and was finally discharged as unfit for further service on 12th June of that year.  No wonder – x-rays revealed several pieces of metal measuring ½” x 1’4” inside his skull, causing disabling headaches and giddiness.  Like his brother, Reginald was awarded the Silver War Badge and returned to live at home at Winchester Avenue.

Nevertheless, after the war Reginald continued civilian working life as a tax clerk and civil servant.  He left 5 Winchester Avenue in 1924 and probably moved to London soon after.  He married Kate Booker (1899-1991) in London in 1927 and they had two children David Bruce (1930-) and Jeannette Phyllis (1932-1971), both born in London.  They lived at the same house in Harrow – 30 Flambard Road – throughout the Second World War and until at least 1982.  Kate worked from home as a dressmaker.  Reginald and Kate eventually moved to Worcestershire where Reginald died in August 1988 and Kate in 1991.

After Maurice William Allard’s death his father became involved in various Union activities.  Between 1922 and 1924 he was secretary of the National Federation of Hosiery Manufacturers and 1925-28 he was district secretary of the Federation of British Industries, which lobbied for tariff reform.  In 1929 he registered a patent for improvements relating to ladies’ knickers.  Maurice died at a hospital in Skegness in 1937, still living at 5 Winchester Avenue.  Annie moved to 261 Overton Road and lived a few more years, dying in 1941.

The ALLEN family – Private ALLEN, Richard Oswald (1877-1916)

Richard Oswald Allen, known as “Dick”, was born in Leicester on 16th April 1877.  He was the eldest son of a brewer and beer retailer (later a mineral water manufacturer), Richard Charles Allen (1852-1918), and Lucile Garthwaite (1850-1929), who married at St Martin’s on 4th July 1876.  He was baptised at St Martin’s on 23rd May 1877 whilst the family lived at 74 King Richard’s Road.  Brothers Percy and Shirley were baptised together on 6th June 1884.  Dick, his parents, Shirley (1883-1965) and Percy (1884-1960) lived at Humberstone Road in 1881-84 and at Stanley Villas, 29 Evington Road by 1889.

Wyggeston Boys School
Wyggeston Boys’ School

Dick attended Wyggeston Boys’ School, leaving at the end of the summer term of 1892.  By 1901 Dick had moved to London and was working as an artist and painter.  On 22nd June 1904 he married Stella Stretton Swain (1879-1949) at Quorn Parish Church and together they had children Lucille Mary (1909-1996) and Frank (1915-1999).  Richard’s parents continued to worship at St Martin’s.  Mrs Allen subscribed to every church and charitable fund and was involved with the annual fundraising tea.

Allen - 29 Evington Road - 1891
29 Evington Road, where the Allen family lived c.1889

Meanwhile Dick and his family lived at Hampstead between 1911 and the outbreak of war, with Richard working as a poster artist.  Richard joined the 16th Service Battalion, Middlesex Regiment at Woldingham, aged 38 in February 1915 whilst Stella was pregnant with their son.  He landed in France in November 1915.  Meanwhile, Stella and the children removed to Leicester, presumably to be supported by Richard’s family, where Frank was born.  They lived at 25 Fosse Road Central until at least 1931.

Allen 25 Fosse Road Central
25 Fosse Road Central. Stella and the children lived here from 1915 until at least 1931.

Richard was fatally wounded whilst binding the arm of a comrade on 1st July 1916, at the first battle of the Somme, and his body was never found.  A pension was later awarded to Stella, which must have been essential as Richard left just £150 for his family.  He is commemorated at Thiepval, Somme.  Almost exactly two years later, Richard’s father died.  He was buried at St Peter’s, Braunstone, on 11th July 1918.  Mother Lucile lived at Bradda, Letchworth Road from 1921 and until her death in 1929.

Richard’s brothers don’t seem to have enlisted.  It appears that Percy took over his father’s minerals and aerated water company and married Rosa Ethel Billings at St Martin’s in February 1907.  Percy and Rosa were both very involved in the life of St Martin’s church – Percy had been a sidesman since 1906 and served as churchwarden from 1918-21.  He became one of the first Lay Canons in 1922 and served on the PCC throughout the transition from parish church to Leicester Cathedral.

Richard and Stella’s daughter Lucille worked as a teacher and in 1937 married Cedric Arthur Bethham Robinson (1904-1941) in Bombay, India.  Cedric was the son of a leather agent and had grown up at 34 Westleigh Road, Leicester.  He was joint general manager of Planter’s Stores and Agency Co. Ltd, a business which recruited labour for tea plantations.  Lucille and Cedric lived together at 7 Burdwan Road, Alipore, Calcutta until Cedric died in a falling accident in November 1941.  Lucille returned to England and eventually died, a widow, in Leicestershire in 1996.

Wife Stella also remained a widow, living firstly in Letchworth Road (at ‘Bradda’), the former home of her in-laws, then at 73 Westcotes Drive, then again at Letchworth Road.  She died in on 7th February 1949 having lived at 79 Letchworth Road for a few years.


The ASHWELL family – Rifleman ASHWELL, Frank Elmit (1884-1917) and Lance Sergeant ASHWELL, Frederick John (1888-1914)

Frank and Frederick were two of the five surviving children of Thomas Syson Hillyerd Ashwell (1855-1924) and Mary Ann Jamblin (1854-1927), all born in Leicester and baptised at St Mark’s.  These were: George William Henry (1881-1931); Florence Sybella (1882-); Frank Elmit (1884-1917); Thomas Hillyerd Clawner “Hillyard” (1886-1973); Frederick John (1888-1914) and Arthur Syson (1889-1921).  Thomas was a pawnbroker and auctioneer and later also a clothier.  From 1881 the family lived at the shop at 38-40 Belgrave Gate, and then after 1886 moved to a separate house at 102 Sparkenhoe Street, and again to

38 Highfield Street
38 Highfield Street

38 Highfield Street.  As they grew up the children assisted in the family business.

The family were highly active at St Martin’s.  Thomas was Churchwarden between 1906 and 1909 and again between 1923 and 1924, a sidesman, a member of the PCC and later a Lay Canon of the Collegiate Church of St Martin.  Thomas had joined St Martin’s in 1896.  He and Mary Ann were stalwarts of the church, contributing to every activity and every fund.

Frederick AshwellFrederick John Ashwell was baptised at St Mark’s on 15th March 1888.  After leaving school Frederick joined the 2nd Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps and by 1911 had risen to the rank of Lance Sergeant.  As an experienced soldier he was one of the first to the front when war broke out. He was also one of the earliest casualties of the war, dying of wounds in France on or just after the 14th of September 1914 at the Battle of the Aisne.  The exact date was recorded at the time as “not known”.  On 11th August the battalion was visited by the King and Queen at Aldershot.  The following day they entrained at Frimley for Southampton, then at 4.30pm embarked for France aboard the Union Castle liner Galeka, arriving at Le Havre after a smooth passage at 2.45am.  A march in the hot sunshine followed, then a train journey to Le Novion. The next few days were spent moving from one small French town to another, often at little notice and with no time to prepare food.  The narrow streets were crowded with troops and refugees, mostly women and children driving wagons “drawn by animals of all sorts, even cows…now and then one saw a woman wheeling a barrow which she had loaded with her most precious belongings, including a small child or two on top of all.”  Artillery fire was heard nearby on 23rd August.  On 30th August they marched via Gobain to Prémontré, where a large number of men were fed generously with coffee and bread by four nuns from a nearby convent.  They marched on, with the sound of explosions caused by the Germans blowing up bridges close behind.  During the next couple of weeks very little sleep was had and food and water were not always available: The battalion diary records “When the supplies were issued there were about 20 loaves for 1000 hungry men!”.

On 14th September the real fighting began.  8 officers were killed or missing – only two of these could be buried – and 7 wounded, and 306 men from other ranks were killed, wounded or missing.  Many of the wounded lay unhelped throughout the night as stretcher bearers were fired upon.  The war diarist reported “During the night of 15th September and the next day, some [fifteen] wounded men came in. They were all shot in the legs or wounded or in such a way to prevent them walking…and had lain out between the two fighting lines all that day and the following night and day….a German officer seems to have treated them kindly during the fighting, pulling them in under a haystack.  All the men who could walk had been taken prisoners and marched off…the others who had been left started after nightfall, dragging themselves along with their hands as best they could through the turnips in the pouring rain.  They were shot at as they came in.” The next day he described a rifleman who had been brought in after three days lying out, “He looked more like a mummy than a man; the skin of his face was drawn and yellow, his limbs limp and powerless…from a wound in his side the blood had stained the webbing of his belt and his clothing; one amongst many who must have been in similar agony, slowly dying from loss of blood, and starvation in this so-called civilized warfare.”

Like this man, who was taken to hospital at Troyon but probably died, Frederick was one of 321 men of the battalion who died between 14th and 17th September at the Aisne.  The entire British Expeditionary Force had been ordered to entrench, but few tools were available and the soldiers inexperienced in trench warfare.  They dug only shallow pits, providing limited protection.  Frederick’s grave is unknown and he is commemorated with over 3500 missing officers and men who fell at the Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between August and October 1914, at La Ferté-sous-Jouarre.


Despite this, Frederick appeared in the St Margaret’s book of remembrance along with one hundred and ninety nine other men – meaning that he must either have been a member of the congregation (or choir), a server, or someone who lived in the parish – with the confident statement that “their bodies are buried in peace.”  He is also remembered at Welford Road Cemetery on the family memorial.  Frederick left effects of £22 10s 8d which was sent to his father in March 1916.  A War Gratuity of £6 was also sent in August 1919.

St Margarets Church postcard
Contemporary postcard of St Margaret’s Church

Frederick’s older brother Frank Elmit Ashwell was baptised at St Mark’s on 13th June 1884.  As a young lad Frank served as an apprentice and then as assistant hosiery and yarn wholesaler.  He lived at home with his parents in 1911.  Like Frederick, Frank joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps 10th Battalion, then transferred to the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade.  On 4th May 1917 his battalion occupied Cordite trench, south of the Arras-Douai railway.  At 3am A and C companies made an unsuccessful attack on a chateau north of Rouex.  Two officers and 40 other ranks were initially reported wounded in the regimental war diary, including Frank.  In fact, Frank had been killed and was buried at Brown’s Copse Cemetery in Roeux, near Arras.  At first he was officially reported as wounded, then in early July he appeared on the ‘wounded and missing’ list in the Leicester Mercury.  This must have been a very difficult time for his family and friends.  Eventually on 24th July his parents posted a memorial notice in The Leicester Mercury:

“ASHWELL – Killed in action in France, Rfn Frank E Ashwell, second son of Mr and Mrs T S H Ashwell, 38 Highfield Street, Leicester.” 

Like Frederick, Frank’s small account with the Army was sent to his father – £10 12s 9d in September 1917 and War Gratuity of £3 10s in October 1919.

The surviving war service records for the Ashwell family are very limited.  It is very possible that Thomas Hillard Clawson Ashwell served as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers and survived the war, but it is impossible to be certain.  There is no record of Arthur Syson Ashwell serving; perhaps due to poor health.  He died in 1921.

Parents Mary Ann, Father Thomas Syson Hillyerd and Arthur Syson are all buried together at Welford Road Cemetery with several children who died in early infancy.  Their gravestone commemorates Frank and Frederick:


The BAKER family – Captain BAKER, Horace Morgan (1876-1916)

Horace Morgan Baker was born in Belgrave, Leicester on 27th October 1876 and was the son of a chartered accountant, Joseph Henry Baker (1851-1923) and his wife Louisa Jane Firth (1851-1934).  A brother, Reginald Morgan, was born in 1883 but died the following year.  Horace attended Milton College in Ullesthorpe as a boarder pupil, where the curriculum furnished “a thorough Classical and Commercial education.”  He took part in many amateur dramatics performances (often playing women).  Between 1892 and 1893 he attended Oakham School.

Oakham School
The Quad, Oakham School c1910

Home was at 64 Lower Hastings Street until May 1895, when the whole family moved to 9 Granville Road – Horace, his parents and two sisters Ethel Margaret (1879-1952) and Dorothy Joyce Muriel (1887-1966).  The Bakers lived in comfort:  The house at Lower Hastings Street was furnished with every modern convenience, including electric bells and speaking tubes, gas stoves, outside sun blinds and a bathroom.

After leaving school Horace followed in his father’s footsteps and worked for a time as an accountant’s clerk.  He played cricket for Leicester Ivanhoe team in 1899.  Then in 1902 he moved to Australia to study veterinary science at Sydney University and afterwards to the USA for further study at the University of Philadelphia.  Horace returned to the other side of the world and married Australian woman Fanny Letitia Rowlandson (1881-) at Clare, Adelaide, on 16th August 1913.  They lived at Sydney, Horace working as a lecturer in Veterinary Anatomy.  He also assisted in the establishment of the University’s Veterinary Museum.  They had no children.

Horace enlisted on 26th August 1914 as a Captain (Veterinary Officer) in the 3rd Infantry Brigade (Field Artillery) of the Australian Commonwealth Forces.  He served in Egypt and France.  In August 1915 he suffered gastro-enteritis at Alexandria.  He was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis (Egypt) with dysentery just two months later, and on 6th April 1916 was admitted to the 2nd Australian General hospital at Boulogne, France, with a scalp wound.  This was a tented hospital which mostly dealt with battle casualties.  He was transferred to Marseilles where he died on 11th April 1916 of pneumonia (probably a complication of his scalp wound).  He was buried first at St Pierre Cemetery at Marseilles, and then reburied at Mazargues War Cemetery.

Joseph Henry and Louisa Baker continued living at 9 Granville Road until at least in 1916 (at The Grand Hotel, Granby Street in 1923).  They attended St Martin’s as worshippers and in 1917 Louisa helped with St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s fundraising bazaar, which raised money for the war effort. Dorothy was confirmed at St Martin’s in 1924.

During the war Horace’s wife Fanny remained in Sydney, living with her mother.  Between 1930 and 1958 she lived in the same house at Woollahra, East Sydney, before moving to Fairfield, a western suburb.  She died after 1963.

The Baker and Ridley memorial Prize For Animal Husbandry was founded in 1924 by the Veterinary Association of New South Wales in commemoration of the two captains and members of the association who died during the Great War.

Horace is remembered at Welford Road Cemetery, on the memorial to his parents Joseph Henry and Louisa Jane.  The inscription reads:


Baker family grave_1

The BANNISTER family – Bombadier BANNISTER, Walter Ewart (1888-1973) and Nurse BANNISTER, Hilda Louisa (1891-1982)

John Brewood Bannister (1858-1939) and Amelia Hicks (1858-1936) married at Gallowtree Gate Chapel in 1881.  They had children Ethel Agnes (1882-), Walter (1888-1973), Hilda Louisa (1891-1982) and Ada May (1897-1983), all of whom were baptised at St Martin’s.  John was fined 10 shillings in November 1883 for neglecting to have Ethel vaccinated.  The Bannisters lived at 34 Filbert Street until around the time of Walter’s baptism, when they moved to 4 Norfolk Street, remaining until around 1893.  In 1899 the family moved to 13 Tower Street

Bannister 13 Tower St
13 Tower Street

and from 1905 until 1929 at 42 West Street.  Father John was a hosiery manufacturer’s manager for the firm Wooding and Teasdale.  He was also the first secretary of Leicester New Musical Society from 1887 until 1897, of which Charles Hancock, organist of St Martin’s, was the conductor.  Mrs Amelia Bannister was a worshipper at St Martin’s in 1909.  During the war she contributed to the congregational tea held in 1915 and helped with the St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s Bazaar in 1917.  Walter and Amelia lived at 114 Osmaston Road from 1929 until their deaths in 1936 and 1939.


Bannister 42 West St
42 West Street

Walter Ewart Bannister was born on 18th May and baptised at St Martin’s on 2nd September 1888.  After leaving school Walter worked as a clerk for the Corporation.  On 12th March 1913 he married seamstress Annie Elizabeth Johnson (1888-1958) at Holy Trinity Church, and by 1914 he was Assistant Overseer of Water Rates, living at 15 Turner Road, where he and Annie remained 1923.  They had children Annie Amelia (1914-1975); Arthur Ewart (1917-) and Freda Joyce (1926-).  In June 1915 Walter was granted a loan of £100 from Sir Thomas White’s and Parker and Heyrick’s Charity.

Walter joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner in 1914, rising later to Bombadier.  He served in Aden, Saudi Arabia, where he faced intense sand, heat and shortage of water, fighting Ottoman troops and Arab tribesmen.  He disembarked on 10th September 1915.  Before the end of the war Walter was promoted to Acting Corporal, but his official rank remained Bombadier.  Little else is known about Walter’s war service.

After the war Walter returned to live with Annie at 15 Turner Road.  In 1923 they moved to 65 Bridge Road.  By 1928 Walter had been promoted to assessor of water rates and perhaps this promotion enabled the family to move in 1929 to a brand new and bigger house – Wallandale, 16 South Drive.  Daughter Freda brought her husband Norman to live there a few years after her marriage in 1946.  During the second world war son Arthur worked alongside his father as a clerk and also served as volunteer ambulance driver, living with his parents, before joining the Royal Army Service Corps.  Walter and Annie lived on at South Drive until they both died, Walter in 1973 and Annie in 1975.

Hilda Louisa Bannister was born on 18th March 1891 and baptised at St Martin’s on 3rd May 1891.  She attended Wyggeston Girls School and passed the Oxford local examination in August 1906.  After leaving school she became an elementary school teacher.  From at least 1916 she adopted the spelling “Hylda” which she kept for the rest of her life although official documents used the original spelling.

Wyggeston Girls School2

Hilda engaged as a volunteer nurse with the British Red Cross on 25th May 1916 aged 24 and a single woman, still living with her parents at 42 West Street.  She trained in London at the 2nd London General Military Hospital, which was located at St Mark’s, Chelsea and existed only during the first world war.  By 1917 the hospital had 170 beds for officers and 974 for enlisted soldiers, including 198 for those who had suffered serious injuries to their eyes.  Hilda then served in France from 23rd April 1917 until 14th April 1919.  She was awarded the Victory and British war medals.

Hilda doesn’t seem to have lived with her parents at 42 West Street after the war, though her sisters did.  It has proved very difficult to find out much about Hilda’s life after the war.  We do know that in 1939 Hilda lived with widow Margaret Cook at Beech Hanger, Windmill Hill, Alton, Hampshire and worked as a school teacher.  It was noted on the 1939 register that Hilda was registered with the Civil Nursing Reserve.  It was around this time that Hilda worked at Hall Dene School in Alton.

Hilda died in Chichester on 3rd March 1977 at Whitehanger Nursing Home, Haslemere, Surrey.

The BEEBY family – 2nd Lieutenant BEEBY, Wortley (1882-1954) and Lieutenant BEEBY, Charles Stuart (1890-1918)

St Margarets Church postcard
St Margaret’s Church

Harry Charles Beeby (1854-1937) and Julia Watts (1859-1937) married at St Margaret’s church on 26th June 1880.  They had four children:  Ethel (1881-1958); Wortley (1882-1954); Nellie (1885-1966) and Charles Stuart (1889-1918).  All were baptised at St Margaret’s which is not surprising as their home was overlooked by the church – Wortley on 27th August 1882 and Charles Stuart on 4th August 1889.

Between 1881 and 1894 the family lived at 25 St Margaret’s Street, a few doors along from Julia’s parents.  Harry worked as a warehouse manager for shoe manufacturers Walker, Kempson & Stevens.  By 1898 Harry had been promoted to Managing Director and the family moved firstly to Elm Leigh, Narborough Road and then to The Firs, 35 West Leigh Road.

The Firs West Leigh Road
The Firs, West Leigh Road

Charles Stuart Beeby attended Hanley Castle Grammar School and from 1892 Wortley attended Wyggeston Hospital Boys’ School.  Charles enjoyed playing cricket; Wortley enjoyed tennis and was a member of Higham Ferrers Tennis Club.  As the children grew up the boys went into the shoe manufacturing business with their father at Walker, Kempson & Stevens, and the girls married eligible employees.  They worshipped (and married) at St Martin’s.  Harry Charles was a Freemason, belonging to Golden Fleece Provincial Grand Lodge Golden 2081.

In May 1915 Charles Stuart Beeby enlisted as a private in the Inns of Courts Officers’ Training Corps and after completing his initial training with the 3/4th Leicestershires in September 1915 he joined the 1/4th Battalion (Territorial) Leicestershire Regiment as second lieutenant.  He began his overseas service in Marseilles on 14th January 1916, arriving with three other junior officers.  He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant twelve months later.  He survived the taking of Gommecourt in February 1917, serving under Captain Nugee.  There was some light relief in July 1917 when the battalion held athletic games at Orlencourt and on 19th December 1917 when the battalion football team won a football match against the “Springboks”, but conditions were otherwise as expected.  Gas was used extensively against the battalion by the Germans in December 1917 – on 12th December mustard gas was deployed and the men required respirators for over two hours.  Another British Division nearby deployed mustard gas against the Germans at 9pm on Christmas Eve.  On 10th January 1918 the Sergeants of the battalion held their Christmas dinner followed by a “smoker”, which the officers (presumably including Charles) attended.  800 Francs were collected for St Dunstan’s Hostel.

More gas attacks came in April and May 1918, which the medical staff described as causing a serious influenzal malady resulting in a large number of men being hospitalised with high temperatures.  The 26th May was relatively quiet.  The battalion relived the 1/5 Leicestershires in the trenches at Gorre, completed at ten to midnight.  At 12.15pm on the 27th May around fifteen 18” shells were fired by the Germans at Loisne and at 6.30pm German aircraft flew overhead but were held back.  The night was spent in improving defences and wiring.  By the end of this day Charles was pronounced missing presumed killed in action.  Charles is remembered at Soissons, the memorial to 4000 men who fell during the battles of Marne and The Aisne who have no known grave.  He is also commemorated on Hanley Grammar School memorial.

A notice was printed in the Leicester Mercury on 10th June 1918 which read “Mr and Mrs Beeby, of The Firs, Westleigh-road, have been officially informed that their youngest son, Lieut. C S Beeby, Leicestershire Regt., has been reported missing since May 27th 1918.  He joined the LO Court OTC in May 1915, and has been in France since January, 1916.

Probate was granted to his father; Charles left £1663 3s 6d.

Wortley Beeby was born on 27th June 1882.  He was trained to follow in his father Harry’s footsteps as a senior figure in the boot and show industry.  After school he was sent to board in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire 1900-1904, where he was clerk to a shoe manufacturer.  He took City and Guilds qualifications in boot and shoe manufacture in 1902 and at some point after 1904 returned to Leicester to work as an assistant to his father.  On 19th November 1912 he married Margaret Violet Staynes (1886-1961) at St Martin’s Church.  A daughter, Doreen Margery (1915-1993) was born shortly before Wortley joined the 1/28th (known as the Artists Rifles) London Regiment as a private in September 1915.  Six months later Wortley’s battalion entered France.  He transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment and was commissioned second lieutenant in September 1917.  He served for the remainder of the war with the 11th (Service) Battalion.  Extracts from the diaries of this battalion show that Wortley was likely to have worked on constructing light railways in Dickesbusch and Ypres, which was dangerous work as the men were under constant attack from the Germans with shells and mustard gas, as well suffering the constant rain and inadequate shelter.  Every day more men were killed, wounded or became sick.

After the war Wortley and Margaret returned to “The Shrubbery”, College Street, Higham Ferrers where they lived until 1951.  They had a son, Michiel Owen (1919-2010).  Wortley and Margaret were great golf lovers – Wortley taking after his father, who was also a keen golfer, and Margaret presented “The Beeby Cup” to Rushden Golf Club.  After Wortley died on 4th March 1954 Margaret returned to Leicester and died in 1961 whilst living in Clarendon Park.

The rest of the Beeby family remained in Leicester after the war.  Harry Charles stayed working for Walker, Kempson & Stevens until his retirement in 1936.  These years cannot have been easy; the business went into voluntary liquidation in 1937.  The factory was demolished to make way for The Athena cinema.  Harry Charles and Julia died within a month of each other, at the end of 1937.



The BRADBURY family – Private BRADBURY, Albert (1874-1959)

Thomas Bradbury (1848-1911) and Annie Kestin (1847-1917) married at St Mary de Castro on 15th January 1874.  Thomas was a gardener.  They had two children, Albert (1874-1959) who was born in Belgrave on 28th September 1874 and Walter (1878-1937) who was born in Twyford, where Annie’s family lived, in 1878.  By 1881 the family lived at 15 Factory Road in Hinckley, where Thomas kept a market garden growing cucumbers and melons, and by 1891 in 2 Daneshill Road, remaining until at least 1898.

Bradbury 2 Daneshill Road
2 Daneshill Road

Thomas and Walter were members of the St Martin’s community in 1909 (but not Albert or Annie).  Thomas was elected sidesman in 1907 and Walter undertook a variety of roles including sidesman (from 1909), Secretary/Treasurer of St Martin’s Guild (from 1921) and a member of the PCC from at between at least 1921 and 1934.

Albert was baptised at St Peter’s, Belgrave, on 21st October 1874.  It was a private baptism, perhaps due to ill health of Albert or his mother, and he was received into the church five months later on 14th March 1875.  By 1891 he was an apprentice gas fitter whereas brother Walter worked as a clerk to a solicitor.

Like his parents, Albert married at St Mary de Castro church, to domestic servant Mary Susannah Clarke (1875-1956) on 11th June 1898.  In 1901 they lived at 29 Vaughan Street.

Bradbury 29 Vaughan St
29 Vaughan Street, where Albert and Mary Susannah began married life.

Albert worked as a gas fitter and they had daughter Annie who was born on 1st January 1899.  Either Annie (1899-1966) was born prematurely or else Mary had been about 2 months pregnant at the time of their marriage.  She was baptised at Sapcote in January 1901, just after her second birthday.  Sister Lily Gertrude (1903-1989) was born in1903 and also baptised at Sapcote.

In 1911 Albert worked as a stone polisher for a stone mason, possibly connected with his father in law William Clarke who was a quarryman.  The family lived at 21 Wolverton Road, where they remained until at least 1939.

In 1918 Albert worked as a printer.  He was 5’6” and had dark brown hair and grey eyes.  He had a scar on his right shoulder but was in good health, categorised by the RAF as Class A.

Albert joined the Royal Air Force on 9th September 1918 a Private (2nd class) – the lowest rank – shortly before the end of the war, when he was 44.  He served at home as a driver and labourer until 12th January 1919, when he transferred to the reserve with a “very good” character.  He was finally discharged on 30th April 1920.  In 1939 Albert worked as a litho stone polisher and his daughters worked in the hosiery trade.

Mary died in Leicester in 1956. Albert died in February 1959 and was buried with Mary at Saffron Hill Cemetery.

The BRIGHTLAND family – Nurse BRIGHTLAND, Isabel Mary (1882-1957)

Brightland 7&9 Loseby Lane
7&9 Loseby Lane. The Brightlands lived above the shop.

John William Brightland (1844-1900) married Martha Markland (1849-1926) in Peterborough in 1880.  They established a “new drapery establishment” at 9 Loseby Lane on 28th February that year, with “special attention to the costume and mantle department.”  The business was a success:  In 1891 John advertised for a showroom assistant “one accustomed to good class trade.”  John and Martha had two daughters, Isabel Mary (1882-1957) and Elizabeth Thirlby (1885-1974).

Between 1881 and 1884 the Brightlands lived at 7 and 9 Loseby Lane, moving in March 1887 to 5 Market Street, where they also lived until 1904.  The family moved to Syndale, Stoneygate Avenue, in 1906.

Brightland 5 Market St
5 Market Street with accommodation above

The Brightlands were significant members of the St Martin’s congregation, which is perhaps why in February 1895 when Canon Sanders’ eldest daughter Millicent married Mr Eunson, Martha Brightland made the bridesmaids’ dresses, which were of “white silk accordian with pleated chiffon bodices.”  In 1899 Martha helped with the Yellow Bazaar and she also sat on the bazaar committee for the Diocesan Home for Waifs and Strays.  By 1909 when Canon Sanders’ testimonial was written, only Martha was left to appear on the list, as John died in 1900.  She was a member of the PCC between 1921 and 1922.

Isabel was born on 3rd January 1882 and baptised at St Matthew’s on 19th February 1882.  She probably attended a private school for girls.  She later attended Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School (which later formed part of the new City of Leicester Polytechnic, now de Montfort University), winning a prize for architectural drawing in In December.  Afterwards she worked as a teacher at a private school and sometimes as a secretary and book keeper.

Isabel served as a VAD in the Leicester/2 detachment, later transferring to Leicester/4.  These detachments managed the Knighton VAD hospital and were on duty for the first convoys of wounded which arrived in Leicester.  She She was first based at Leicester Royal Infirmary whilst she carried out her training.  From 3rd until 31st May 1917 Isabel worked as a nurse at the 3rd London General Hospital.  This hospital was established in August 1914 in the requisitioned Royal Victoria Patriotic School in Wandsworth which had 1800 beds by 1917.  Between June and August 1917 she served as a volunteer at Cottesbrooke Auxiliary Hospital in Northamptonshire, where soldiers were often less seriously wounded and were mainly in need of convalescence.  Gladys Marie Williams, who Isabel would have known, was also there between April 1917 and 1918.  Cottesbrooke Hall had been converted to a hospital in 1914 by the owner Mrs Brassey who took personal charge of fifty beds.  During Isabel’s short time at Cottesbrooke a concert was held, which she almost certainly attended, at which various artistes performed including Private Hamilton, one of the wounded soldiers.  Cigarettes and fruit were provided by the munitions workers of the Hanwell Pendant Co.  After leaving Cottesbrooke Isabel remained a member of the detachment until the end of May 1919 but did no further active work.

Isabel appears to have returned to live with her mother, and to working as a teacher.  By the start of the war Martha had closed the shop premises in Market Street and lived and worked from 39 London Road.  After the war she moved premises to 44 Saxby Street, living at 52 London Road (where she had lived since at least 1924), again above her shop.  She died in 1926  leaving Isabel her furniture and household goods and an income for life.  After her mother’s death Isabel shared a large house – 120 Regent Road – with a group of other single women.  In 1931 she moved to number 50 Regent Road, the home of widow John Leaver West and his daughter Violet.  Isabel and Mary became friends.  After the death of Violet’s father in 1933, Isabel and Violet moved in together at 98 Regent Road.  Isabel retired from paid teaching.  During the second world war she was a part time volunteer with the Women’s Voluntary Service children’s section and also with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).  Violet West worked as secretary to an architect and also a part time WVS first aid volunteer.  Isabel’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Richard Watchorn, a chartered accountant, lived in the other half of the house.

50 Regent Road
50 Regent Road

In 1931 she moved to number 50 Regent Road, the home of widow John Leaver West and his daughter Violet.  Isabel and Mary became friends.  After the death of Violet’s father in 1933, Isabel and Violet moved in together at 98 Regent Road.  Isabel retired from paid teaching.  During the second world war she was a part time volunteer with the Women’s Voluntary Service children’s section and also with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).  Violet West worked as secretary to an architect and also a part time WVS first aid volunteer.  Isabel’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Richard Watchorn, a chartered accountant, lived in the other half of the house.

Isabel died on 20th September 1957 at The Lawns Nursing Home, 312 London Road and was buried at Welford Road Cemetery.  She left her estate of £933 15s 11d to sister Elizabeth.

The BURTON family – Driver BURTON, Herbert Stewart (1885-1963) and Troop Sergeant BURTON, Lionel Sidney (1889-1915)

Herbert and Lionel were the only children of Harry Herbert (1851-1929) and Sarah Elliott (1854-1931) of 13 High Street.  Harry was a watch maker and Sarah was a jeweller who had previously worked as a pupil teacher and a governess.  They lived and worked in the High Street until sometime after 1901

Burton 116 Granby St
116 Granby Street (ahem)

 when they moved premises to 116 Granby Street, remaining there for the rest of their lives.  Harry’s sister Fanny lived at 13 High Street too, and gave dance classes for children.  Harry was one of the first shopkeepers in Leicester to use electric lighting in the shop frontage, displaying rings, bracelets and plate to advantage.

Harry and Sarah were members of St Martin’s congregation.  Harry was a sidesman from 1909 until shortly before he died and Sarah contributed regularly to the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society.  She helped with the St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s Bazaar in 1917.  There was a professional connection too – in April 1918, not long before the death of his son, Harry was paid £1 10s for repairs to the church clock, a half-price discount on his usual charge.

Younger son Lionel Sidney Burton– known as “Leo” – was born in 1889 and attended Wyggeston Boys School between 1902 and 1904.  After school Leo worked as a highly promising ‘hosiery traveller’ – sales representative – for Messrs Farner and Co of Northampton Square from leaving school until war broke out. He was also a regular forward for three seasons in the Leicester Rugby Football Club “The Tigers” – he was the first member of the club to be killed in action.  He was “a keen and fair player and his inherent gentility, both on and off the pitch, won him troops of friends.”  The Illustrated Police News reported that he “had enjoyed the esteem alike of his colleagues and of opponents.”

Leo married Sarah Lilian Burchnall (1886-1970) in Norfolk two days before he left for the front on 1st November 1914.  Sarah, who was an audio typist for a hosiery manufacturer, had lived in Aylestone Road with her parents before the war and must have travelled specially to Norfolk with Leo.  They were married for only a few months when Lionel was killed at the second battle of Ypres.  He had joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry “B” Squadron 1/1st at the beginning of the war and was serving in France by November 1914.  He was killed on 13th May 1915 on the last day of the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, which included a gas attack by the Germans on 10th May.  During this battle 94 officers and men of the Leicestershire Yeomanry were killed. The Leicester Chronicle reported on 22nd May that

“The Leicesters were bombarded for three hours in the trench and then attacked by the Germans in force.  The enemy got into the trench and in the same party who were killed was Major Martin, Major Herbert, Lieut Brooks, Lieut Peake and Troopers Hickling and Adams.  “Harry” was wounded and Sergt Burton killed.  Sergt-Major Swain adds that it was a sad roll-call on Saturday.”

Sergeant Cookson wrote to Lionel’s father to break the news of his death and tried to give comfort in saying that death was instantaneous, whilst Leo had been doing his duty in the trenches.  Sadly this may not have been true; it was frequent practice to spare relatives the awful truth of life and death at the front.  A survivor said afterwards “We came out a broken regiment.

Lionel is commemorated at Menin Gate and also at St Mary Magdalen, Shearsby, where his parents married in 1883.  Harry Herbert installed electric lighting in memory of his son, also installing this memorial:

Sacred to the memory of Lionel Sidney Burton Troop Sergeant Leicestershire Yeomanry/ died for his country Menin Road Ypres 1915 aged 26/ beloved son of Harry Herbert and Sarah Burton, and loving husband of Lilian.

Sarah, known as “Lilian”, remarried in 1918 to Charles Hulls who had survived the war.  She died in 1970.

Older brother Herbert Stewart Burton was born on 9th March 1885 in Leicester.  He began life as an apprentice watch maker to his father and then assisted in his building and jewellery businesses.  In June 1915 Herbert was granted a loan of £100 from Sir Thomas White’s and Parker and Heyrick’s Charity.

Despite his younger brother’s death, on St Valentine’s day, 1917 he joined the Royal Navy as a motor driver, beginning his service on shore bases at Wormwood Scrubs and the Crystal Palace.  He was then sent to HMS Pembroke II, which was turned over to the RAF in April 1918.  Herbert transferred to the RAF for a brief time between January and March 1918.  He served on land for the duration of the war, demobilising in February 1919.

After the war Herbert returned to work for his father as a jeweller.  He became a Freemason of The Granite Provincial Lodge 2028 by 1927.  He married Marguerite French (1898- 1986) in 1928.  Their son, John, was born in 1929 and baptised at St Martin’s on 15th January 1930.  Geoffrey Stewart (1934-1960) was baptised on 20th August 1934.  Herbert continued working for the family business for the rest of his working life but also had a side line as a farmer and grazier.

Burton 16 Lancaster Road
16 Lancaster Road

Herbert and Marguerite lived at 16 Lancaster Road in 1930-4, and thereafter at Grey Lodge, 717 Welford Road for the rest of their lives.  Herbert died in Leicester on 8th February 1963 and was buried in Shearsby Churchyard on St Valentine’s day, next to his parents’ grave.Herbert Stewart Burton grave

The COX family – Bombadier COX, George William (1885-1968), Corporal COX, Robert George (1888-1915) and Sapper COX, Thomas Frederick (1894-1967)

Robert George Cox (1855-1927) married Annie Essex (1851-1931) in Annie’s home parish of Avening in Gloucestershire on 19th October 1871.  Robert was a musical instrument maker.  They had seven children: Harry (c1873-) and Elizabeth “Bessie” (c1874-) were born in Malvern and Louisa Kate “Louie” (1879-1950, George William (1885-1968), Robert George (1888-1915), Netta Emily “Nettie” (1891-1967) and Thomas Frederick (1894-1967) were born in Leicester.

In 1878 Robert George and Annie moved to Leicester and jointly established a new musical dealer’s in the Royal Arcade on the High Street – Catlin Cox & Moore.  The business specialised in pianofortes, American organs and “good and cheap” harmoniums, stocking over 100 kinds of instrument.  In 1881 they lived nearby at number 20 Friars Causeway.  However by 1884 Robert George left the partnership and set up his own music dealers business on his own at 63 Belgrave Gate, leaving Catlin & Moore as competitor.

Cox 63 Belgrave Gate
The business premises of Robert Cox, musical dealer 63 Belgrave Gate

The premises had recently become available due to the previous business owner, Obey Henry Selby, going into liquidation.  The family lived above the shop until 1906, when they moved to a separate house at 13 King Street.

Almost everyone in the family played a role in the business: Robert George was the proprietor and also tuned pianos; Harry and George repaired and tuned instruments and Louisa was a sales assistant.

The Cox family continued to live at 13 King Street.  After Robert George died in 1927 the business was renamed R G Cox & Son and was continued by Thomas Frederick.  During the second world war Louie and Nettie moved next door to number 11 and by the time Thomas Frederick died in 1967, he lived alone.  On his death, R G Cox & Son closed.

George William Cox was born in Leicester on 5th December 1885 and baptised at St Martin’s on 9th July 1893 with his siblings Nettie and Robert.  After leaving school he worked in the family business as a music dealer.  He was 5’9” tall.

George attested as a private solider number 724741 on 3rd December 1915 aged 29 whilst still living with his parents and working as a piano tuner.  He served at home in the Royal Garrison Artillery from 3rd March until 25th September 1916, qualifying as a signaller and telephonist whilst based at Woolwich depot.  On 26th September he embarked at Folkestone, arriving at Boulogne later that day.  Within a short time George found himself in trouble – he was confined to barracks for 5 days in November for neglect of duty whilst working as a telephonist.  Nevertheless on 17th June 1917 George was promoted to acting bombardier.  On the 23rd November 1917 George returned to Leicester for a short period of leave – the next day, at the age of 31, he married Ethel Mary Coverdale (1889-1978) at St Peter’s Church.  A licence was granted as George had only limited time on leave.  His brother Thomas witnessed the marriage.  George returned to the Front and was again promoted, to bombardier signaller on 16th March 1918.  A month later on 20th April he was awarded the Military Medal, the equivalent of the Military Cross for men who were not commissioned officers.  By September he had achieved a certificate and in December was appointed as assistant instructor in signalling, with additional pay awarded.  This position did not last long however, as he was demobilised in January 1919 whilst on leave to the UK.

During the war Ethel lived with her parents at 51 Evington Road, but by 1919 Ethel lived at 97 Queens Road, Ashford, presumably to be closer to George and make it possible to see him more often.  George and Ethel remained in Ashford for a year or so after demobilisation and their daughter Ethel Margaret (1919-1994) was born in Ashford in November 1919.  George and Ethel returned to Leicester and George returned to work as a piano tuner.

In 1927 George, Ethel and their daughter Ethel moved into a brand new house at 74 Evesham Road.  Ethel gave birth to another daughter, Sheila (1932-), in 1932.  They remained living at Evesham Road until their deaths – George in 1968 and Ethel ten years later.  George was buried at Gilroes cemetery.

Robert George Cox was born in Leicester in 1888 and baptised at St Martin’s on 9th July 1893 when he was five years old, along with his siblings George and Nettie.  He

At the outbreak of war Robert enlisted at Oakham into the 1/1 Leicestershire Yeomary.  After some training he arrived in France on the 2nd November 1914.  He died on 13th May 1915 having risen to the rank of Corporal.  The regimental war diary records that Robert was with his regiment at Belleward Farm, 700 yards west of the road joining Zonnebeke Road and Ypres Menin Road, occupying some poor quality trenches with few sand bags and no dug outs or other protection from shell fire.  There was heavy shell fire in the early hours, followed by a much more violent bombardment, which destroyed the Yeomanry’s machine guns and blew in a trench.  At 7.30am the enemy attacked and occupied some nearby empty trenches, resulting in the death of all but one of the officers present.  5 officers and 47 men of other ranks were killed during the attack and counter-attack, with a further 39 missing.  The dead and wounded from several trenches were never recovered.  Robert was amongst these.

Robert’s family placed a notice in The Leicester Chronicle on 29th May 1915:

COX.- Killed in action, May 13th, 1915, Corporal R G Cox, Leicestershire Yeomanry, aged 27, son of Mr and Mrs R G Cox, 13, King Street, Leicester.

Robert left £5 11s 7d, his army pay, to Miss Annie Louisa Pye (1880-1947).  Annie was born in Birmingham but in 1911 she was manager of a shop and was visiting Jack Whittles and his family and staff at the Cricket Players Hotel, 9 Churchgate.  Perhaps Robert and Annie were sweethearts or even engaged to be married, though she was much older than he.  In fact Annie married Frederick Tattershall of the RAF, in Birmingham on New Years Day 1919, claiming to be ten years younger than she really was.  In August of that year she received a war annuity of £4 in respect of Robert but there were problems when the military authorities attempted to deliver Robert’s medals.  They were unable to deliver the medals, perhaps because Annie had moved or perhaps she refused to accept them.  Unfortunately no records survive to show whether Robert’s family claimed the medals or whether they were recycled after ten years.

Robert’s name appears on panel 5 at Menin Gate at Ypres, where soldiers whose bodies were never recovered were commemorated.

Thomas Frederick Cox was born in Leicester on 25th October 1894.  Unusually he was not baptised until 5th October 1910, when he was almost sixteen years old.  He was baptised at St Martin’s by Norman Lang, later suffragan Bishop of Leicester.  He described himself as an engineer.  In 1911 Thomas worked for the British United Shoe Machinery Company Ltd in Belgrave.

By March 1918 when Thomas enlisted at Leicester Market Place he was aged 24, 5’10”, extremely slim and worked as a piano tuner.  When examined he was found to have a scar on his right cheek and tachycardia, but not sufficiently to prevent his enlistment.  He joined the Royal Engineers, Railway Troops.  Thomas served at Chatham from 14th March to 17th April 1918, when he transferred to Roads & Quarries.  On 18th April 1918 Thomas landed in France but served there for only a short time, until 16th June.  He returned to England and was discharged as no longer medically fit for service on 17th February 1919.  He had been under medical care due to pain in his back and kidneys and had an x-ray on 9th January.  Thomas successfully claimed a pension of 11 shillings a week for one year, due to 40% disablement caused by a goitre (enlargement of the thyroid gland, probably connected to his former fast heart rate), which was aggravated by war service.

After the war Thomas returned to 13 King Street and to the music dealers business at 63 Belgrave Gate where he worked with his father.  On 21st November 1921 Thomas married Edith May Maidment (1896-1966), a machinist for a boot manufacturer, at St Paul’s Church.  The couple lived at 13 King Street with the rest of the Cox family until the end of their lives and it was here that their daughters Joan Peneretta (1922-2006) and Elisabeth (1934-1985) were born.  When Robert George senior died in 1927, Thomas Frederick took the helm at R G Cox & Son and the business continued until his death.

During the second world war Thomas served as an air raid warden, so he must have recovered in health to at least a reasonable extent.

Edith died in 1966 and Thomas Frederick in 1967.