Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Heroes of World War 1

As we celebrate Remembrance Day in this, the 100th year since the start of World War 1, I wanted to spare a thought for those members of our extended family who paid the ultimate sacrifice in that conflict.
My paternal grandfather served in the Boer War (1899-1902) and my father in the 2nd World War (1939-1945), while my maternal grandfather was too young for WW1, so the 1st World War was 'between generations' for my immediate family line.
However, there were numerous relatives on both sides of my family who did serve, and some of them paid with their lives.

Charles Richard Griffin VANCE, my father's 2nd cousin.
Born 2 December 1893 in Limerick, Ireland.  He was the youngest of 8 children of Canon Joseph Vance and Anna Mary Griffin.  His mother died when he was just 2 years old, and he was brought up by his aunt Amy Griffin, who moved into the Vance family home to take over the care of her nephews & nieces.  He was known to the extended family as "Dickie". 
Dickie attended school at Campbell College in Belfast.  After completing school, he commenced an apprenticeship in February 1912 with UK Railways in London, initially on a 1 month trial.  He is listed as a student of the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1914.
With the outbreak of WW1, Dick enlisted and was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment.  He was attached to 1st Battalion from December 1914.  He was killed in action in Belgium on 9 March 1915.  His grave is D 25, Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate, Belgium
The UK Railways books record his final payment of 24 shillings on 17 March 1915.  Listed as Killed in Action, his period of employment was 3 years 1 month, and his character and abilities noted as 'Good'.

His older brother, Robert Lancelot Vance, served as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, transferring to the Indian Army at the completion of the war.

Henry Colpoys GLOSTER, my grandfather's 2nd cousin.
Born September 1894 in Kensington, London, he was the only son of Dr. James Cockburn Gloster and Aphra Keane, and grandson of Henry Keane of county Clare.  Educated at St Paul's School, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he was studying medicine when the war broke out.
He received a commission in the 6th Gordon Highlanders Regiment and after initial training, went to the front in November 1914.  He was killed in action at Neuve Chapelle in France on 12 March 1915.  His death is memorialised at Le Touret Memorial, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

Otho Charles WARD, a double 2nd cousin of my grandfather.  Born in Dublin on 17 February 1884, he was the 2nd son of  Major Espine C R Ward, R.A.M.C and Jane Maria Colpoys Keane.  His parents were 2nd cousins.  Otho was educated at Epsom College in England, following which in January 1903, he enlisted in the Indian Army, in 124th Duchess of Connaught's Baluchistan Regiment.  He attained the rank of Captain in 1912.  When war broke out, his regiment was posted to Mesopotamia where he saw active service until he was killed in action against the Turks in the 2nd Battle of Kut, on 11 January 1917.  His grave is in the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.

Thomas Lionel PILKINGTON, my father's 1st cousin, was born in Ennis in 1896, 2nd child and eldest son to Thomas Henry Pilkington and his wife Florence Greene. After completing school, he went to Sandhurst Royal Military College in August 1915, and was posted to the Royal Irish Regiment in January 1916.  In July of that year, he was sent to France to join the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment at the Somme. Thomas was wounded and evacuated twice during the next 2 years.  At the end of the war, he volunteered for transfer to the Indian Army and was posted to the 2nd Battalion 128th Bombay Pioneers.  He continued as a career soldier in the Indian Army until invalided out in 1943 due to failing sight as a result of retinitis contracted while serving in Constantinople in 1921.

Cecil John Mahon TWEEDY, a 3rd cousin of my grandfather, but also related by the marriage of my great-aunt to his uncle.  The following comes from the Our Heroes website. 
"He was the elder son of Mr. Thomas Tweedy, County Inspector, Royal Irish Constabulary, Bandon. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in October, 1911. On the 26th August, 1914, he received a commission in the Royal Munster Fusiliers from the D.U.O.T.C., and was later transferred to the Special Reserve R.D.F. He was a well known boxer. In 1912 he won the Heavy-weight Championship of the University, and was never afterwards dispossessed of the title. In 1915 he won the Irish Command Officers' Heavy-weight Championship. He was a nephew of General Sir Bryan Mahon, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Ireland."
Cecil Tweedy died in France on 28 February 1917, and is buried at Sailly-Saillisel, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France.

The first four men mentioned above were all descendants of Robert Keane of Beechpark, co Clare.  Cecil Tweedy was also a Keane cousin, but the connection was through the maternal line.
The following three men were cousins on the Haughton side of my fathers family.

William Haughton SMYTH, son of John Smyth and Anna Florence Haughton, of Milltown House, Banbridge, Co. Down. The Smyth family were Ulster linen merchants.  He was born in 1879, and served as Captain in the Royal Irish Rifles. He was killed in action on 1 July 1916, at Thiepval in the Somme, France.  His death is memorialised at Thiepval Memorial.

Beresford Haughton VYVYAN, born about 1893 in Glamorgan, Wales, the 2nd son of Hugh Norris Vyvyan and Constance Ethel Haughton.  He served as Captain in the Royal Field Artillery, and died of wounds received in Flanders, on 18 August 1917.  He is buried in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.

Charles Stanley HAUGHTON,  born in Dublin, Ireland, on 20 October 1873.  He was the only son of Alfred John Haughton and Beresford Stronge.  He attended the Birkenhead School in Cheshire, England, where he had some cadet training. According to his biography in "Memories of Old Birkonians 1914-1918" published by the Birkenhead School, he was a cotton broker in Liverpool when the war broke out.  He then joined a reservist unit, the Rifle Brigade, and was sent to India.  These units were used to take over administrative duties in order to release regular soldiers for active service.  During the 3 years he spent in India, he contracted Tuberculosis, from which he died in hospital in London on 4 February 1919, shortly after returning from India.  He is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Flaybrick Hill Cemetery, Birkenhead, Cheshire, England.

Back in Australia, members of my mother's extended family also gave their lives for the Empire, in the Australian Imperial Forces.  These three men are all descendants of William & Louisa Humphries, whom I wrote about in my blogpost - the "Enterprize" Voyage - last month.

William Humphries GRADY, born 1895 in Romsey, Victoria, was a son of Andrew Grady and Agnes Elizabeth Humphries.  When he enlisted as a private in the 22nd Infantry Battalion, on 5 February 1916 at age 21, he gave his occupation as farmer.  He sailed from Australia on the troopship 'Shropshire' in September 1916, but unfortunately was never to return.  William was killed in action in Flanders on 4 October 1917, and is buried in the Oxford Road Cemetery (Plot II, Row H, Grave No. 15), Ypres, Belgium.

Leonard James POSTLETHWAITE, born 1897 in Healesville, Victoria.  He was the son of Arthur Postlethwaite and Ann Chandler.  At age 19, he enlisted as a private in the 23rd Infantry Battalion on 5 April 1916.  He sailed from Australia on the troopship 'Miltiades' in August 1916.  His death in action on 3 May 1917 is memorialised in the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France.

Mark SMITH, born 1896 in Healesville, Victoria, was the son of John Smith and Agnes Postlethwaite.  At the time he enlisted on 27 March 1916, the family were living in Western Australia. He joined the 51st Infantry Battalion as a private, and left Australia in August 1916 on the same ship as his 1st cousin Leonard Postlethwaite, the troopship 'Miltiades'.  He was killed in action on 25 April 1918 and is memorialised in the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France.

On my husband's side, his grandfather returned from the war, but died a comparatively young man from complications associated with illness acquired during his service.

James Joshua PERRY, born Jugiong, New South Wales on Christmas Day 1889.  He was the fourth of six children born to James Perry and Catherine Gavin of Jugiong.  Prior to the war, James Jnr had been working as a sailor on the Pacific trading route.  He enlisted 6 October 1914 as a driver in Field Artillery Brigade 2, and left Australia in December that year on the ship 'Borda'.  His first service was in the Middle East, before going on to the Western Front.  James returned to Australia on 28 October 1918, but his health was never good, and he died in 1934 leaving a young family.
Brother, John Patrick PERRY and sister, Eleanor Anne PERRY also served on the Western Front.

James Joshua Perry

The Vincent family also contributed a high price in young lives to World War 1.  The large extended family from the Wangaratta area of Victoria saw many of their young men off to war, and unfortunately not all of them returned.

Arthur James VINCENT, born 1879 in Wangaratta, one of 17 children born to Reuben Brett Vincent & his wife Mary White.  Arthur had previously served in the Anglo-Boer War before re-enlisting for World War 1 in 1916.  He attained the rank of Corporal in the 37th Battalion, serving on the Western Front.  He was killed in action 8 June 1917 at Messines, Belgium.  There is no known grave for Arthur, but he is memorialised on The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 25), Belgium.  His brother, George White VINCENT, also served, returning to Australia in 1918.

William Dale VINCENT, born 1879 in Wangaratta, Victoria, was a 1st cousin of Arthur & George (above).  He was one of 12 children born to Rowland Vincent & his wife Philadelphia Dale.  William was a timber worker when he enlisted in 1916 at the age of 36.  He joined the 3rd Pioneer Battalion and left Australia in June 1916, but became ill en route to the front.  He died of disease in the Isolation Hospital, Durban, South Africa on 22 July 1916 and is buried at the Ordnance Road Military Cemetery (Row C, Grave No. 8), Durban, South Africa.

Roy Curtis KENNEDY, born 1895 in Oxley, Victoria, was a Vincent cousin.  He was the son of James Kennedy & Emily Mary Vincent.  In February 1916, at 20 years of age, he left the family farm and enlisted in the 8th Battalion, leaving Australia in April the same year.  He was killed in action on the Western Front on 4 October 1917.  There is no known grave for Roy, but he is memorialised on The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 7), Belgium.

George Ernest Vincent WOODBERRY, born Wangaratta 1891, son of Alice Marion Vincent and George Woodberry. Enlisted in 37th Battalion with his cousin Arthur Vincent. George developed TB and was sent back to Australia in 1917. He died in 1922.

Other Vincent cousins of the above who served overseas were half-brothers Hubert Claude & Victor Valentine VINCENT.  Their father was Jacob Arthur Vincent and their mothers' Sarah White and Edith Rose Payne respectively.
Leslie Moore VINCENT, known as 'Leddie', son of George Vincent and Elizabeth White, was born in 1881.  He saw active service in Anglo-Boer War and both World Wars.  He later became Mayor of Wangaratta.
Louis Adrian VINCENT was a nephew of William Dale Vincent (above).  He was born in Wangaratta in 1894.
Percy Victor Bristow VINCENT, born Wangaratta in 1892, son of Walter Reuben Vincent & Harriet Annie Dive.  He was a nephew of Arthur James & George White Vincent. 
Ernest Vincent WHITE, born Wangaratta 1893, son of Marion Vincent & Samuel White. He enlisted in the 8th Infantry Brigade Train.
William Henry DOBBIE, born Wangaratta 1897, son of Rowena Vincent & Harold Dobbie. He served with the 8th Battalion, 13th reinforcements in France.



  1. Hi, I Was very interested to read about Otho Charles Ward. His grandfather,Charles Ward (bn 1817 and married to Maria Keane), was a brother to Pieris (Piers?) Ward who is my Great,Great Grandfather. The Ward family tree goes right back to William Ward, a silversmith in London in the reign of Charles I and Richard Ward of Wards Hill, Dublin who died in 1689. Otho had two brothers, Espine and William, and three sisters, Hilda,Mabel and Shelagh. Thank you for the lovely research which you have done. I will add the information to the family tree for future generations to come.

  2. Hi Shelagh, thanks for your comments. Otho's paternal grandmother Maria Keane was a sister of my great-great grandmother Anna Keane, and his maternal grandfather William Keane was their brother. Maria's husband Rev. Charles Ward officiated at the marriage of my great grandparents in Ennis, county Clare.