The CUMING family – 2nd Lieutenant CUMING, William Edward (1894-1917), CUMING, Stanley (1893-1970) and CUMING, Margaret Elizabeth (1890-1987)

Walter Cuming (1862-1943) and Eliza Whadcoat (1855-1929) had children Margaret Elizabeth (1890-1987), Annie Whadcoat (1891-1921) and Stanley (1893-1970), who were all born in Brighton, and William Edward (1894-1917) who was born in Maidenhead.  In 1891 Walter worked as a coach wheeler and the family lived in Brighton.  He was a member of the Maidenhead and District Conservative Association and the Royal Antediluvian order of Buffaloes.  By 1899 Walter had set up in business as a coachbuilder at King Street, Maidenhead.  In April 1900 Walter was declared bankrupt.  He had got into financial difficulty and borrowed heavily, and was six months late with the rent of his house.  Scandal was reported in the local newspaper relating to a dishonoured promissory note.

Nevertheless it was not until sometime between 1906 and 1908 that the Cumings moved from Maidenhead to Leicester, taking up residence at 13 Kirby Road where they lived until 1926.  They began attending the church of St Martin’s as worshippers.  Walter worked as an assistant superintendent at an industrial insurers.

William Edward Cuming was born at Maidenhead and initially attended Maidenhead British School, transferring to Alderman Newton’s School on arrival in Leicester.  In November 1909 William passed his Oxford Local Senior Examination (and also won a swimming prize).

William worked as a hosiery warehouseman in 1911 but by the outbreak of war was a teacher at Hazel Street Council School.  In February 1914 he played in a Rugby match between Stratford and Leicester Westleigh.

He joined the Leicestershire Royal Horse Artillery as a gunner 1914 and was appointed temporary second lieutenant in May 1915.  He transferred first to the Lincolnshire Regiment (Service Battalion) where he was confirmed in rank, and then in September 1916 to the 5th Battalion Connaught Rangers, attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  In 1915 William married Lilian Annie Rayner (1892-1976) in Yorkshire just days before leaving for the front.  William first disembarked in the Balkans in November 1915 and later served in France and Flanders.  William and Lilian lived at Fairholm in Hessle, Yorkshire and also at King Street, Maidenhead.  They had a son, Billy R Cuming, at the end of 1917.

William died in action on 31st July 1917 at Boesinghe, probably at the battle of Pickem Ridge, so Billy never met his father.  On 18th August 1917 a small article appeared in The Leicester Mercury:


Official notification has been received of the death in action, on July 31st, of Second Lieutenant W E Cuming Connaught Rangers, attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  Mr Cuming was the son of Mr W Cuming, of 13 Kirby Road, Leicester.  He entered the teaching profession, and for a time held an appointment at the Hazel Street Schools.  Before the war he served in the RHA Territorials and when war broke out his period of service had expired.  He however, with his brother, immediately rejoined his old corps.  Later he received a commission in the Lincolnshire Regiment and was with his battalion on foreign services.  Transferred to the Connaught Rangers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, he fell in battle, as stated, on July 31st.  His widow lives in Hessle, Hull.

An article also appeared in the Reading Mercury:

We regret to record the death of Second Lieut W E Cuming, who was killed in Flanders on July 31.  Lieut Cuming, who was born at Maidenhead, was the youngest of four children of  Mr and Mrs Walter Cuming, formerly of King Street, Maidenhead.  He was an old Maidenhead British School boy , and before he joined the army was a Council School teacher at Leicester, where his parents now reside.  He was a fine swimmer and Rugby football player, and was a general favourite.  He leaves a young widow.

William’s effects of £99 18s were sent to Lilian in January 1918.  She received a War Gratuity in 1919 and again in 1920 and William’s medals were sent to her in 1922.  William’s body was moved and reburied after the Armistice at Artillery Wood Cemetery.  He is commemorated at Maidenhead war memorial.

After the war Lilian remained in Hessle and remarried in 1923 to Harold Oscar Gee who had been a Captain and mentioned in dispatches.  He was killed at a level crossing with their 12 year old son, Harold Rayner Gee (1924-1936).  An express passenger train had struck the car they were in; the gate lock that should have prevented Harold using the crossing had been vandalised.  In her lifetime Lilian lost two husbands and a son prematurely and in traumatic circumstances.  Lilian lived at Ivanhoe, Hull, in 1940.

Stanley Cuming was born on 23rd February 1893 in Brighton and attended Wyggeston Boys’ School.  He lived at home with his parents until 1913 when he travelled to Quebec, Canada on the 29th July on the ship Lake Manitoba, intending to reside there permanently.  Stanley’s occupation was engineer and he had plans to meet with family in Montreal.  He returned to Liverpool on 21st December 1913, nevertheless intending to live permanently in Canada.  However, Stanley appears to have remained in England and was able, with his brother, to join the Leicestershire Royal Horse Artillery at the beginning of the war.  .  In 1914 he served as a driver (as recorded in the The Wyggestonian magazine). There is no surviving war record, however we do know that Stanley was on active service during 1917 because when he married Ida Agnes James (1890-1966) at St Paul’s church on Boxing Day 1917, was described as “soldier on munitions”, with his address as 25 Chapel Hill, Crayford, Kent.  The marriage was performed after banns had been read three times, so there was obviously time to prepare for the occasion.

Ida was a milliner.  She and her family lived and worshipped in the parish of St Martin.  During the war and until at least 1920 they lived with Ida’s parents at 157 King Richards Road.  It was here that Ida gave birth to their son Edmund, who lived just five hours.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at Welford Road Cemetery on 14th April 1919.

Cuming 188 Fosse Road South
188 Fosse Road South

By 1924 Stanley and Ida lived at 3 Norman Street and between 1925 and 1928 at 103 Fosse Road South.  They appear to have shared their accommodation with others.  In 1926 they had their second child, Constance (1926-).  At some time around 1930 they moved to 150 Church Lane, Brent, where they lived until at least 1960.  Stanley worked as a toolmaker and production engineer.

During the 1950s and 60s Stanley and Ida travelled extensively – to Madeira, to South Africa and to Australia.  Ida died in 1966 and Stanley in 1970, in Hillingdon, London.

Margaret Elizabeth Cuming was born in Brighton on 16th March 1890.  As a young woman she obtained two qualifications – the Board of Education Certificate and also an advanced grade piano certificate, which she passed with Honours in 1905.

Margaret gained a great deal of experience in teaching before the war, working as assistant mistress at Narborough Road Senior Girls’ School from 1911 but also having previously spent time at King Richard’s Road Council School, Ingle Street Council School, Elbow Lane Council School, Mantle Road Senior (Mixed) School, Robert Hall Junior School and The Newarke Secondary School.

Margaret enrolled as a member of the British Red Cross on 26th August 1916, while she was living at home with her parents.  She worked as a nurse at the 1st General Hospital in Birmingham from August 1916 until March 1917, then from April 1918 until at least June 1919 at the 2nd (10) General Hospital in Manchester.  By the end of the war Margaret lived independently at 94 Sparkenhoe Street.  After the war Margaret returned to Narborough Road Senior Girls’, remaining until at least August 1920 when she joined the Teachers Registration Council register. In 1925 she moved to 188 Fosse Road South.  In 1926 she was joined by her parents.

Margaret enjoyed travel.  In 1928 she travelled to Genoa with friend and teacher Hilda Fisher. In 1930 and 1931 they visited Malta and in 1933 Buenos Aires.  By 1931 Hilda lived with Margaret and her father at 188 Fosse Road.  During the second world war Margaret carried out voluntary teaching work to support the war effort.  On 2nd August 1941 she married William Simons (1886-1963).  William was a boot and shoe warehouseman and the older brother of Margaret’s fellow teacher Mabel Simons.  Witnesses were Margaret’s friends and colleagues Edith Prince, an elementary school headmistress, and Henry Whitwell, schoolmaster.  William died in 1963.  Margaret died on 2nd May 1987 at St Benets Nursing Home, London Road.

The DAY family – Private DAY, Frederick Bernard (1898-1917)

Day 5 Daneshill Road
5 Daneshill Road, where Frederick was born

Frederick was born in 1898 at 5 Dane Hill Road, Leicester, the only son of Frederick “Fred” Day (1861-1930) and Jane Eliza Hart, known as “Ginny” (1867-1955) who also had five daughters Olivia Jane (1889-1939), Elsie Emma (1892-1979), Constance Mary “Connie” (1893-), Dorothy Mildred (1896-1978) and Marjorie Susan (1903-1997).  He was baptised at St Paul’s on 24th April 1898.  Frederick senior was a fine art dealer and picture framer whose business was at 24 Pocklington’s Walk.  The family lived at 33 Dane Hill Road in 1901 and from at least 1906-1912 at 8 Newtown Street.  By the start of the war the Days lived at 55 Regent Road, where they would remain until after their son’s death.

Frederick Bernard was just sixteen when the war started.  He initially enlisted into the Royal Army Service Corps, perhaps unable to join a front line force due to his young age.  However he eventually joined the 2/6th Lancashire Fusiliers.  The 2/6th Battalion moved from Lancashire to Kent in May 1915 and landed at Le Havre 28th February 1917.  So Frederick would have been in France for just seven months when he died on 8th November 1917 in Rouen at the 4th General Hospital of wounds sustained at Passchendaele, probably at the Battle of Poelcapelle.  Accounts of the nightmare conditions endured by the men of the battalion at that time include marching through knee deep mud, trying to ignore the screams of their drowning fallen comrades, before meeting German machine guns.

His parents placed a notice in The Leicester Mercury on 22nd November 1917: “DAY – On November 18th, Pte F B Day, Lancashire Fusiliers, died of wounds in France, only son of Mr and Mrs Fred Day, 55 Regent Road, aged 19.”

After having lived for over ten years at Regent Road, Frederick senior and Ginny retired circa 1927 to The Knoll, Frisby on the Wreake, where Frederick died in 1930.  Frederick was buried at Welford Road Cemetery and joined by his daughter Olivia in 1939.  Jane returned to Leicester and lived at 4 Evington Park Road.  She died in 1955 at The Towers Hospital, outliving her only son by almost forty years.  She was buried elsewhere.

Day 3Unlike daughter Olivia, Frederick was commemorated on his father’s gravestone at Welford Road Cemetery:  Frederick Bernard/Beloved son/Died of wounds in France/18th Nov 1917

The DEXTER family – Private DEXTER, George Harry (1887-1926)

Plumber’s labourer Robert Dexter (1851-1926) married Mary Anne Cartwright (c1846-1911), a framework knitter, in Leicester in 1871.  They had ten children:  Four boys Robert (1876-1933), John William (1881-1947), Frederick Henry (1882-1956), George Harry (1887-1926) and six girls Annie Louisa (1871-1915) Alice Dinah (1872-1945), Ada Kate (1875-1943) Mary Amelia (1878-1927), Florence (1884-) & Gertrude Ellen (1890-1953).  Between 1873 and 1887 the family lived at The Friars, 25 Ruding Street.  By February 1891 they had moved to 26 Sycamore Lane (which was afterwards slum cleared to make way for Great Central Street) and by 1894 to “The Old Town Hall” now known as Leicester Guildhall.  The family acted as caretakers for the building.

Old Town Hall and St Martins
The courtyard of The Old Town Hall (now Guildhall), with St Martin’s in view

During the 1870s Robert was a detective in the Leicester police force.  He was promoted to Inspector in 1881 and later to Detective Superintendent.  He retired from the force in April 1900.  In 1909 Mr and Mrs Dexter were members of the St Martin’s congregation (though they hadn’t been when the children were young) and their son Frederick Henry went on to conduct the bells during the 1920s.  Eight of the ten children were married at St Martin’s, between 1894 and 1920.

Youngest son George Harry Dexter was born in the parish of All Saints Leicester in 1887.  He was baptised privately at St Nicholas’s Church, where his siblings were also baptised, on 10th November 1887.  As a young man George served for four years in the Royal Horse Artillery but by 1911 worked as a gas fitter for the corporation in Leicester.  He was 5’8” tall and had fair hair. In 1911 his mother Mary died and he also married Eliza Burden (1884-1922) at Holy Cross (Roman Catholic) church on 24th December 1911.  George and Eliza moved in with Eliza’s parents at 40 Newtown Street.  George worked as a filler.

When war broke out George signed up with the Territorial Army at Leicester on 29th August 1914, but he but was discharged on 14th November to join the regulars.  He joined the Army Supply Corps attached to the North Midlands Supply Corps on 14th November 1914 in Luton, aged 27 years.  He was given the role of batman and cleaner to an officer.  George served at home until 25th February when he boarded the SS Queen Empress at Southampton, bound for Le Havre, presumably with his officer.  He served in France until 15th January 1916 when he returned to England due to a wounded face.  He was presumably able to meet his first child, daughter Eveline Mary (1916-1989) who was born on 7th August 1916.  By the end of November George had recovered and returned to France but almost exactly a year later, during the very last days of the war, George received a fractured leg.  He was sent by ambulance train to 5th Northern General Hospital, Leicester (now the Fielding Johnson building, part of the University of Leicester) where he recovered.

5th Northern General Hospital
Patients relaxing by the fish pond at 5th Northern General Hospital

George returned to Eliza and to 40 Newtown Street.  In August 1920 he was awarded a pension due to bronchitis aggravated by service – 6s 10d weekly until March 1921.  On 16th August 1922 Eliza gave birth to their second daughter, Monica (1922-1984).  Sadly she died a month later, aged just 38, and was buried on 23rd September at Welford Road cemetery.  George also died while his children were young, on 26th April 1926.  He was buried alongside his wife.  Orphans Eveline and Monica went to live with their father’s sister Alice Dinah and her husband Ambrose Tomkins.

The DURRAD family -Private DURRAD, John Harold (1881-1955) and Lieutenant DURRAD, William Edgar (1883-1970)

John William Durrad (1854-1939) and Elizabeth Hodgkins (1858-1927) married in 1880. They had three children: John Harold (1881-1955), William Edgar (1883-1970) and Mary Eunice (1884-1942).  During most of their childhood John William was the owner of a leather merchant’s business whose premises were at Victoria Buildings, Bowling Green Street.

Durrad Victoria Bldngs Bowling Green St
Victoria Buildings, Bowling Green Street

The family lived at 39 St Peter’s Road (above, left) until around 1900 when they moved to 3 Glenfield Road.  It was also about this time that John William stopped trading at Bowling Green Street.  By 1909 the family had moved around the corner to 350 Fosse Road North (Above, right) and rather than working for himself, John William became a leather traveller for tanners W Walker & Sons.  They attended St Martin’s for worship and during the war Elizabeth contributed to a fundraising tea for the congregation.  The children must have had an interesting childhood:  John’s obituary in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical society states that John had discovered several new crevasses in the surface of the moon, that he had an observatory in his small garden at home, and that he and Elizabeth had both been well known in local musical circles, playing the cello and piano respectively.  John William and Elizabeth remained at Fosse Road North until 1927 when Elizabeth died.  John moved to 36 Ashleigh Road and died in 1939.

Leicester Technical SchoolJohn William Durrad’s sons took different career paths.  William Edgar Durrad was born on 4th August 1882 in the parish of St Peter’s, Leicester.  He attended Wyggeston Boys School and then Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School, winning a prize for advanced geography (first class) in 1899.  As an adult he was 5’11” tall with brown hair and a fresh complexion.  He served an apprenticeship with Taylor and Hobson, Leicester (now Taylor Hobson), from 1898 to 1903.  He also spent three years serving as a private soldier with the Leicestershire volunteers.  In 1911 William boarded in a room above a baker’s shop in Lincoln and worked as a mechanical engineer but by 1914 he had settled in Nantwich, Cheshire.

William enlisted as a private in the 16th Service Battalion, 1st City of Manchester Regiment at Manchester on the 2nd September 1914.  He was appointed Lance Corporal in April 1915.  On 8th June 1915 he obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the 2/5th (Earl of Chester’s) Cheshire Regiment – shortly afterwards marrying Marjorie Dixon (1888 -1962) by licence at St Paul’s Church, Leicester, on 24th July.  By the time of the marriage William was stationed at Bedford, while Marjorie lived at 350 Fosse Road.  He was promoted to lieutenant in 1917 and served in France.

Marjorie and William had two children, Rachel Jessie (1918-1995) who was born shortly before the end of the war, and Robert (1921-2012).  After the war William returned to engineering and did not return to live in Leicester; by 1923 when William applied for his medals, he lived in Northwich, Cheshire, where Marjorie had been born.  In 1931 he registered a patent for improvements relating to treating liquids with gasses and he continued working as a chemical engineer during the second world war.  Marjorie and William remained in Northwich or very nearby for the remainder of their lives.  William died on 12 September 1970 and was cremated at Crewe Crematorium three days later.

John Harold Durrad was born in Leicester in 1881 and grew to be just a little shorter than his brother William, at 5.9”.  He was a brass worker in 1911, working his way up to become a depot manager.  In 1913 he lodged at 961 Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow, where he worked as a clerk.   He married Janet Pearson Gilchrist (c1891-1958), a Scottish woman, in Manchester on 27th July 1914 just before the outbreak of war.

John joined the Mechanical Transport section of the Army Service Corps (later the Royal Army Service Corps) as a private on 18th Jan 1917 when his daughter Isobel (1916-1958) was just four months old.  He transferred to what later became the RAF three months later where he served until February 1919, training as an aero rigger.  Throughout the war Janet and Isobel lived near Leeds.

After the war John became a buyer for a rubber company and the family settled in East Keswick, Yorkshire, where second daughter Jean Allison (1920-2002) was born.  John died in East Langbank, Renfrewshire, Scotland, on 20th December 1955.

The EVANS family – Sergeant EVANS, Edward Dare (1875-1915)

Edward Dare Evans was born on 21st February 1875 at 88 London Road.  His father, William Evans (c1831-1921), was a corn miller and merchant and his mother Isabella Dare (1837-1894) had children: Caroline (1862 -); Isabel Clara (1863-1936); William Arthur (1865-1942); Mary Martha (1873-); Edward (1875-1915) and Robert (1878-1920).  They moved to New Parks House in about 1883, remaining until 1894 when they settled for over ten years at number 6 St Martin’s. Evans 6 St Martins

Edward probably had a comfortable childhood and adolescence, until his mother died when he was 19. The following year his father remarried, to Agnes Archer Kilgour who had been born in Tasmania.  Edward was in partnership with his father in the corn factors business A & W Evans at Soar Lane.  On 15th January 1903 Edward married Alice Mabel de Legh (c1873-1947) at Paignton, Devon.  Alice was the daughter of a doctor.  The couple lived firstly at 9 The Crescent, then 9 de Montfort Square.

De Montfort Square
9 de Montfort Square

They had a daughter, Mary Isabella de Legh Evans (1904-1984) who was baptised at St Paul’s on 29th August 1904, but the marriage was difficult.  Relations between the two were “strained” and after a time Alice refused to live with her husband, requesting a deed of separation which Edward resisted.  Alice consulted George Archibald Toller (1880-1918), a local solicitor, and on 7th January 1910 a deed was executed.  Edward and Alice did not see each other for a year, but then Alice wrote to Edward asking for money and confessing that she had been living with George Toller, and that her second child Anthony Legh Evans (1909-1966 – he later became known as The Reverend Anthony Legh Toller) was George’s and not Edward’s as he had presumably thought.  Edward divorced Alice in 1911 and was awarded custody of their daughter Mary Isabella.  Alice married George Toller in London early in 1912.

Edward first returned to live at home with his parents at 6 St Martin’s for the next three years, bringing Mary Isabella with him.  Edward and Isabella lived in a separate household at 6 Seymour Street after 1904.  Perhaps Edward’s stepmother influenced his decision to emigrate with his daughter to Brightwater, Nelson, New Zealand, or perhaps it was the stress of living under the cloud of notoriety and shame.  It was as a New Zealander that Edward joined the Expeditionary Force, Canterbury Regiment Infantry Battalion.  He embarked on 14th February 1915, served in South Africa and later died of wounds on 30th May 1915 at Egypt, probably on board a hospital ship.  He is commemorated at Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery.  Mary Isabella was left as a ward of William Vernon Rout, a barrister and solicitor in Nelson and seems to have remained in New Zealand.

George Toller also died in the war, in April 1918.  Alice Mabel nee de Legh remarried in 1932, to Walter Storr.  She died in 1947.

Edward’s father William and stepmother Agnes continued to worship at St Martin’s.    Agnes contributed to fundraising activities such as the congregational tea in 1915 and helped with the St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s Bazaar in 1917.

William died in 1921 at Tudor House, Abingdon Road.  Agnes died in 1924, whilst living at Cheltenham.  William had made provision in his will of 1911 to bequeath a share of his estate to his son Edward or his children in the event of Edward dying.  For reasons unknown, almost immediately after Edward’s death he added a fourth codicil which revoked this.  Instead, he bequeathed a fixed sum of just £100 to Mary Isabella on attaining her 21st birthday, from his estate of over eleven thousand pounds.  To speculate, perhaps the child reminded William too much of her mother or of the painful circumstances of her parents’ marriage.  Or perhaps the passing of years and thousands of miles had severed any feeling of connection between grandparent and grandchild.

The FLUDE family – Private FLUDE, Arthur Ernest (1887-1957) and Private FLUDE, Richard Harold (1892-1956)

Arthur Ernest (1887-1957) and Richard Harold (1892-1956) Flude were the two surviving sons of Ernest Flude (1858-1938) and Fanny Elizabeth Warner (1859-1928) who married in Leicester in 1886.  They also had a daughter, Alice May (1888-1967) and another son, Henry Cecil Simmons (1890-1893) who died in infancy.  Ernest was an umbrella manufacturer for the wholesale market.  He registered several patents for umbrellas in the 1890s under the name of E Flude Ltd.  From the time of Arthur’s birth Ernest Flude had a factory in Charles Street and the family lived at 22 Clyde Street.  The exact location of the factory premises within Charles Street was to change several times throughout the course of the business, but by 1908 the registered office was at 8 St Martin’s

Flude 8 St Martins
8 St Martin’s, registered office of E Flude Ltd

and the family had moved to Roseleigh, 185 Narborough Road where they would remain until the mid 1920s.  Once they reached adulthood Alice May and Richard Harold worked for their father, Alice as bookkeeper.  Ernest was elected sidesman in 1909 and served until at least 1931.  Both he and Fanny Elizabeth also served on the PCC during the 1920s.

Richard Harold Flude was born on 3rd December 1891 and baptised at St Matthew’s on 31st January 1892.  In 1905, aged 14, he was awarded honours in a first grade piano exam.  On leaving school he joined his father’s umbrella works. We know that at some point during the war Richard served as private in the Royal Army Service Corps, where he worked in mechanical transport.  Unfortunately no service record survives.  After the war Richard resumed working for the family umbrella manufacturing business.  He married Jessie Edith Medcalf (1896-1978) at St Chad’s, Derby, in 1922.  Jessie and Richard lived at 143 Upperton Road from 1925 when daughter Margaret (1925-) was born, until 1932, when they moved to a brand new house – Abbeydale, 117 Carisbrooke Road.

Just before the second world war they moved again, to 21 Shirley Avenue not far away.  During the war Richard served as a dispatch rider with the South Battalion Leicester Home Guard.  Afterwards Richard and Jessie settled at 80 Stoughton Road, where Richard died on 15th December 1956.  Jessie lived another twenty-two years.

Arthur Ernest Flude was born on 27th March and baptised at St Matthew’s on 29th May 1887.  After leaving school he worked as a warehouseman for well-known hosiery manufacturers Messrs Pool, Lorrimer and Tabberer of 35 King Street and in June 1914 took part in a cricket match between the firm’s Leicester and Coventry offices.

Arthur married music teacher Edith Emily Hubbard (1888-1967) at St Margaret’s on 22nd July 1915.  Edith wore a garnet cross.  Arthur’s address was then 11 Devonshire Street but the couple soon moved into 4 Evesham Road.  A daughter, Sheila (1916-), was born almost exactly a year later and baptised at St Margaret’s.  By this time Arthur had been promoted to manager.

Some time after the wedding, Arthur joined the Rifle Brigade as a private soldier.  His service record does not survive but on May 20th 1918 The Leicester Mercury reported that “Private A E Flude, Rifle Corps, is wounded and at a German hospital – wife resides at Evesham Road.”  Arthur recovered and returned Evesham Road, where daughter Barbara May (1918-1993) was born a few weeks before the end of the war.  They remained at Evesham Road until 1932 and Arthur worked as a commercial traveller.

Between 1933 and 1941 Arthur and Edith lived at “Hutton”, 38 Ring Road and by now Arthur worked with his brother as an umbrella manufacturer, moving during the Second World War to 36 Knighton Road and finally during the 1950s to 68 Holmfield Road where he died on 22nd February 1957. Edith lived on in Holmfield Road for a little longer before dying in Yorkshire in 1967.

The FORREST family – Lieutenant FORREST, Robert Featherstone (1882-1919)

Robert Featherstone Forrest was born on 16th June 1882 in Leicester, the only son and eldest child of Matthew Adey Forrest (1853-1928) and Mary Elizabeth Featherstone (1859-1929).  He was baptised at the Wesleyan Chapel, Stamford, where his parents were married, on 16 July 1882.  The following year sister Ethel Mary (1883-1975) was born, and then followed two more sisters, Gladys Margaret (1885-1922) and Dorothy Constance Betty (1894-1922).  Robert attended Wyggeston Boys’ School from September 1891.

From at least 1882 until around 1894 Matthew was a coal merchant.  The family were very respectable: By 1887 the family lived at The Grange, Humberstone, and Matthew was recommended by Josiah Gimson for the board of Humberstone School.  Two years later he was appointed overseer of the parish.   Between 1895 and 1899 Matthew was the manager of Humberstone Brick Company, and living at 6 Saint Peter’s Road, but by 1901 Robert and the rest of the family had moved to Gwendolen Road and Matthew was working as a coal merchant’s manager. Matthew was also elected sidesman at St Martin’s in 1905, remaining such throughout the First World War and beyond.

By the age of 19 Robert was working as a manufacturing chemist’s clerk.  Either work or interest took him to Africa for the first time in 1911.  While the rest of his family were living at 38 Glenfield Road, Robert set sail from Liverpool to Lagos, Nigeria.  Again in 1912 Robert travelled from England to Nigeria, this time to Forcados.

When war broke out Robert’s local knowledge and experience made him ideal for military service in Africa.  He joined the Nigeria Regiment and served with the 1st Battalion, 1st West African Frontier Force (known locally as the West African Service Brigade), as lieutenant.  He served in Cameroon between May 1915 and May 1916 and then returned to England.  He sailed from Liverpool with a handful of other officers bound of Lagos on 6th September 1916.  In September 1917 Robert was granted the temporary rank of Captain and the command of a company.  On 31st July 1918 he was to make the final journey from Liverpool to Lagos, travelling first class as always.  Within six months he was invalided out of the army due to Malaria contracted whilst on active service and he died, in Nigeria, on 14th January 1919 of a complication, Malarial Hemoglobinuria.  He is commemorated at Zania European Cemetery.

An article was printed in the Bucks Herald on 22nd March 1919, which read:

The following article from the “West Africa Newspaper”, March 8, will interest the wide circle of friends in this neighbourhood who knew the late Mr R F Forrest, nephew of Rev J R C Forrest , vicar of Swanbourne: News of the death of Lieut Robert F Forrest, 2nd Nigeria Regiment, from backwater fever, while on demobilisation leave at Zaria, has been received with the greatest grief by his relatives and friends at home.  This promising young officer was well-known on the coast before the war, notably at Ibadan and Logoja, where he worked for the British Cotton Growing Association.  At these places he was loved by a wide circle of friends, to whom news of his death at Zaria came at a great shock.  He was regarded as a worker of the finest type on the coast, to which he was greatly attached, and he had a firm belief in the future of West Africa.  Lieut Forrest…..was among the first in West Africa to volunteer in the Nigeria Regiment, immediately war broke out and before volunteers were called for.  He served actively for four years with the Nigerans in the Cameroons’ campaign and then in East Africa, and was demobilised on 31 December last year.  He was ready to take up his work again with the BCGA at the time of his death.

Meanwhile, by 1919 the Forrest family moved to 19 Sandown Road (Robert gave this as his home address).  Matthew worked as a timber importer’s agent and Robert’s two older sisters worked as teachers.  By the time Robert’s medals were sent to Matthew and Mary Elizabeth in 1922 they had lost three of their four children – Robert in 1919, Gladys and Dorothy both in 1922.  Only Ethel was to outlive her parents, dying unmarried in 1975.  Matthew and Mary Elizabeth lived on at Sandown Road until 1928 and 1929 respectively.  It was presumably Ethel who organised the gravestone for her parents at Welford Road Cemetery.

The FOX family – Private FOX, Samuel Ernest (1895-1969)

Yarn drier Samuel Fox (1868-1949) married shoe machinist Esther Thurman (1871-1941) on Boxing Day 1892 at St Michael’s Belgrave.  They had 4 boys and 2 girls: Samuel Ernest (1895-1969), William (1904-1981), Albert (1907-1990), Stanley (1909-) and Lily (1897-1968), Edith (1899-1981).  They lived at 35 St Bernard Street between 1900 and 1903 and moved to 2 Mellor Street in 1911.  The Fox family were members of the St Martin’s congregation in 1909; by now Samuel senior worked as a warehouse man for a worsted spinner.

Samuel Ernest was born on 7th April 1895.  By age 15 he worked as a chamois leather dresser.  He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a private soldier at some point during the war – no service record survives.  After the war he returned to live with his parents, who moved to 27 Belgrave Avenue before 1918.  He married Gladys May Dilks (1899-1971) at 2.30pm on Christmas day 1919, at St Peter’s, Belgrave.  He worked as a leather dresser.  Gladys was then 3 months pregnant with their son Roy (1920-2001).

St Peters Church
St Peter’s Church, where Samuel and Gladys married in 1919

Samuel and Gladys moved to 144 Checketts Road in 1937, which was then a brand new house.  They remained living there for the rest of their lives.  Samuel worked as a hosiery interlock machinist and Gladys as a hospital charwoman, perhaps at the Towers hospital which was nearby.  Samuel died in in December 1969 aged 74.  Gladys died 18 months later.  Both were buried at Belgrave Cemetery along with Samuel’s parents Samuel and Esther.  Son Roy was also buried with his parents, in 2001.

The FRANKLIN family – Commandant FRANKLIN, George Cooper (1846-1919) and Lieutenant FRANKLIN, Harold Gordon Cooper (1885-1957)

George Cooper Franklin (1846-1919) married Lucy Hannah Denne (1851-1930 in 1876).  George was a surgeon with his own practice and was also senior surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary.  They had five children:  George Denne Franklin (1877-1915); Maud Elizabeth Franklin (1878-1960), Roger William (1880-1900); Lucy Rowena 1882-1963 and Harold Gordon Cooper (1885-1957).  The three boys all attended Stoneygate School, which had been founded by their grandfather George Barton Franklin, and all were choristers.  The family home between 1879 and 1882 was at 5 Welford Road, then from before 1885 at 39 London Road, where they remained until George’s retirement.

Born in Leicester in 1846, George Cooper Franklin was the son of George Barton Franklin (1815-1893) and Elizabeth Cooper (c1812-1874) who married at Harvey Lane Baptist Church in 1841. George and his family lived at 4 London Road where his father kept a small school – of which George was pupil – before settling in 1859 in what remain the premises of Stoneygate School.  George first served as an apprentice to a Nottingham dentists before studying medicine at London University, from which he graduated in 1867 whilst also working at St Thomas’s Hospital.  In 1873 he was admitted as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and took up a post as resident medical officer of the Chest Hospital, Victoria Road, London.  In 1876 George married Lucy, who was the daughter of a workhouse surgeon, at Eastbourne.

They settled in Leicester and joined the congregation at St Martin’s.  George was sidesman from 1882 and Churchwarden in 1894-1897 and again in 1909.  He also served as a Borough Magistrate.  In 1905 he was elected president of the British Medical Association and oversaw its application for a Royal Charter.  In 1910 George retired from medical practice and he and Hannah moved to Hampshire, due to George’s failing health.

Nevertheless in 1914 George returned to medical work as Commandant and Medical Officer of Hawkstone Red Cross Hospital and Medical Officer of two other hospitals in Hampshire that had become medical hospitals. These weren’t military hospitals, though wounded soldiers were sometimes treated there, but George’s service enabled younger and fitter doctors to work in more taxing environments including at the Front.  He also served on the local medical board of the Ministry of National Service.  For this he was one of the first people to be awarded the MBE, in 1917.  George’s obituary in The Hampshire Telegraph later described his service at Hawkstone as “most patriotic and devoted…He was not only held in the highest regard and affection by the other members of the staff, but the wounded soldiers who from time to time were patients in the hospital were unanimous in their appreciation and thanks.”

George and Lucy returned to Fareham, Hampshire, where George died on 2nd June 1919.  He was buried at Fareham cemetery, the funeral service having first taken place at the parish church, where George was a sidesman.  Lucy lived at Fareham until her death in 1930.

Harold Gordon Cooper was born in Leicester on 15th January 1885 and baptised at St Martin’s on 10th March 1885.  He attended Stoneygate School and was captain of the cricket team in 1899.  Unlike brother George, Harold did not follow his father’s medical footsteps but instead joined the Royal Navy on 15th January 1900, rising to midshipman in June 1901.  He was promoted to sub-lieutenant in 1904.  By 1906 he was a lieutenant and was appointed in command of first-class torpedo boat TB65 in May – but was cautioned for grounding due to “want of caution.”  Nevertheless on 30th November 1914 Harold was promoted Lieutenant-Commander.  He served aboard the dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth, flagship of the home fleet, from 25th January 1917 to 7th January 1918.  During this period Harold was promoted Commander.  The Queen Elizabeth did not take part in any significant action during that period.  He then served aboard the battlecruiser HMS Lion 9th January 1918 to 23rd December 1918 which conducted patrols of the North Sea.  On 23rd March the Lion sortied to pursue German destroyers but the Germans were too far ahead and no shots were fired.

Harold married Helen Elizabeth Constance Durnford-Slater (1903-) at Instow Parish Church on 12th December 1923.  As the bride’s family was well known in the area, the town and front of the church was gaily decorated.  Harold’s best man was Lieutenant G L Clarke of HMS Barham.  Harold and Helen honeymooned in the south of France.  As Harold was so often away, Helen lived close to her family at The White House in Instow.  At some time during the 1930s they moved a few miles away to Endycross, Northam, which Helen described as an “easy, modern house” with “help 3 times a wk” whilst advertising for a cook-general in 1947.  Immediately before the war Harold and Helen had two live-in domestic servants.  Their son Richard Durnford Franklin (1925-1999) was born in Barnstaple, Devon in 1925 just as Harold was promoted Captain.  Daughter Elizabeth (1928-) was born in 1928.  He was described as “Good looking, of fine physique and magnificent presence. A very nice fellow though noisy in speech.”  Harold was placed in command of HMS Emerald in 1927 and light cruiser Curacoa in 1929, but spent the last few years before his retirement in 1936 as Captain Superintendent of Training.  On the day before his retirement Harold was appointed Rear Admiral.

The outbreak of another world war brought Harold out of retirement. He returned to active duty in May 1940.  Admiral Dunbar-Nasmith, under whose command he worked until May 1941, stated that Harold had “taken a very great interest in his duties but is inclined to worry over molehills which he turns into mountains.  Rather highly strung and temperamental.”  During 1942 and 1943 Harold worked as Naval Officer in Charge of landing base HMS Appledore in Devon, which was very close to his home in Northam.  His commanding officer wrote that “Appledore is now becoming a more important sub-command and Admiral Franklin is well up to the work and is working well in conjunction with our American Allies.  A very pleasant personality and very loyal. Well placed and should continue in his present appointment.”  The United States Government obviously agreed as they awarded Harold the Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) in 1946.  Despite his duties Harold found time to write the foreword to a short book telling the story of Ilfracombe Harbour, which was sold to raise funds for the RNLI in 1943.

Helen and Harold lived together at Endycross until Harold’s death on 30th June 1957 at Bideford and District Hospital aged 72.  Helen moved to Rotorua, New Zealand, where she died in 1987.

The GOODMAN family – Company Sergeant Major GOODMAN, George Walter (1884-1918)

George Walter Goodman portrait
George Walter Goodman

George Walter Goodman was born in Leicester on 2nd July 1884 and baptised at St Martin’s on 13th July 1886 along with his new baby sister Lucy Jane who died shortly afterwards.  His parents were Walter Thomas Goodman (1859-1935), a boot riveter foreman, and Jane Ann Stanton (1862-1941), who married at St Martin’s less than four months before his birth.  They had four surviving children: George Walter was the oldest, then three girls Lucy Rhoda (1888-1977), Gertrude “Gertie” (1891-) and Ida Evelyn (1901-1981).  Two other children died in infancy.  All of the children worked in the boot trade, George Walter as a riveter.  In 1886 the Goodmans lived at 13 Great Holme Street, moving to 36 New Park Street by 1892.  In 1901 they moved away, probably to Marstown Avenue, Glen Parva where they lived in 1911.

George served in the Leicestershire Volunteers, Q (Wigston) Company before the war.  In 1906, when he was Lance-Corporal, he scored a respectable 22 in the company shooting competition at Syston shooting range.

In 1911 George Walter Goodman married Grace Eveline Florence Caroline Holland (1885-1953) who was born in Leicester in 1885 and who worked as a shoe machine operator.  The service took place at St Thomas’s church in South Wigston on 10th June 1911.  Grace wore a dress of “Quaker Grey” trimmed with silver embroidery.  Bridesmaids were Winnie, a sister of Grace’s, and George’s sister Gertrude.  The best man was Mr W Buncher, presumably a friend of George’s.  George and Grace then lived together at 79 Kirkdale Road and had two children, Florence Grace (1912-1939) who was baptised at St Thomas’s on 11th August 1912 and Evelyn who was born in the spring of 1918.

When war was declared, George was in demand as a trained soldier.  He joined the 10th (Reserve) Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and in January 1915 the vicar of St Thomas’s, Wigston read out George’s name as one of the Wigston men who were serving at the Front.  The 10th Battalion was redesignated the 53rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers in October 1917.  George delivered instruction and prepared soldiers for fighting.  He rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.  As the 53rd Battalion remained at Home for the duration of the war, it is unlikely that George saw any further fighting action.  So when he died of pneumonia on 20th Nov 1918 at Clipsham Military Hospital, Nottinghamshire, it was most likely as a result of Spanish Influenza.  He was buried at Wigston Cemetery.

Goodman, G W grave
The grave of George Walter Goodman, Wigston Cemetery

After the war Grace remained living close to her parents.  Between 1924 and 1929 she lived at 59 Clifford Street, South Wigston, moving to another address in 1929.  She died in 1953.  George’s parents continued living in Glen Parva after the war.  Walter died in 1935 and Jane in 1941, while living at Malabar, Blaby Road, Glen Parva.  However, Jane lived for at least the last two years of her life at Carlton Hayes Hospital, which cared for people with mental health problems.