22 January 2009

Family Connections?

I've just noticed that among 'The Originals' of the West Ham battalion, at that first Parade and the dinner given by the Borough, there is a Lt A J Dyer.

I wonder, just wonder, if the Mayor of West Ham, Councillor Henry Dyer, the man who raised the Battalion, was his father or other close relative?

If you are a relative of a soldier who served in the 13th Essex, please feel free to send details: I'll gladly look up any detail which may help you discover what happened on the day of his death or during the time of his service.

15774 L/Cpl Warwick and 32349 Pte Henderson

Although both these men are late war replacements to the West Ham Battalion, rather than 'original' volunteers local to the east end, their info is included here due to the research done on the Stansted war memorial

15774 L/Cpl Peter Warwick

Peter Warwick was the son of Eliza and the late Henry Warwick, living at home with his mother and family at Lower Woodfields. Prior to the War he was employed by Messrs Mascall Bros., a local butchers. He volunteered in November 1914, enlisting at Saffron Walden and after combat in Egypt, was sent to France in early 1916 where he was soon wounded in the leg.

On sunday 30th September, the Hammers were in the Givenchy Sector. From midnight, the German's had been bombarding the positions with gas shells. It lasted until 3am when the all clear was finally sounded.

At daybreak, as the morning mist cleared, a hidden German sniper sighted a valuable prize: A dreaded Lewis Gunner, getting himself ready. With less than a blink, L/Cpl Warwick was shot in the head. He was 24 years old.

He had been home on leave only two months before his death.

His Lieutenant wrote to his mother: 'The morning before the battalion last came out of the trenches your son was hit by an enemy sniper and died before I could reach him, although at the time I was in the trench but a short distance away. It has been a great loss to the company, as your son was held in great esteem by all and was a steady and capable section leader. It is very difficult to offer you any consolation in such a great loss but I hope it will relieve your grief to know that his death was almost instantaneous and he was buried in the presence of the whole platoon. I hope you will accept my sincere sympathy.' A letter was also recieved from his Sgt Maj conveying the sincere sympathy of the NCO's and the men of the Company.

Peter Warwick's body was taken from the trenches and as the Chaplain told his mother, he was buried in a British cemetary in the presence of the whole Platoon.

32349 Alfred Henderson

Alfred William Henderson was born in Poplar in 1885, but at some point he relocated to Stansted, living at Lower Street. He was the son of Frederick Henderson and son in law of Mrs Ridgewell of Hospital Lane in Saffron Walden. He was formally in the service of Lord Peel and afterwards employed at Messrs Rochfords nurseries at Birchanger, then for the next two years he was the Prudential agent for Stansted.

Alfred was called up in October 1916 and arrived in France on January 1st 1917. He had only been there three weeks when he was granted leave to return home for a few days (until January 26th) because his wife Fanny had been taken seriously ill and removed to an institution (where she was still a patient at the time of her husband's death). They had two children, one aged five, the other only a month old.

Alfred is one of the many killed at Oppy on 28th of April, 1917, when over 240 men of the Hammers Battalion were killed during the attack.

Details of both men and the image of L/Cpl Warwick taken from the painstaking research of the Stansted War Memorial, undertaken by Glyn Warwick and published in his recent book "They Sleep In Heroes Graves" ISBN 978-0-9558964-0-8

18655 Pte Mellish

James John Mellish was born in Bow in 1886, the son of James and Esther Mellish. He worked as a fancy cord manufacturer and married Susannah E L Brown in West Ham in 1912. Mellish joined the Essex Regiment in 1914 and was posted to the 13th (West Ham) Battalion, going overseas with the original contingent of the 13th Battalion on 17th November 1915 on the Princess Victoria and, after witnessing the HS Anglia hit a mine in harbour, landed at Boulogne alongside my gtGrandfather and the other West Ham Pals at 6pm.

Guillemont 1916
James was wounded on 8th August 1916 during the night assault on Waterlot Farm (the sugar beet refinery area) at Guillemont when the battalion suffered 90 casualties, mainly from C and D Companies (see previous posts)

Moeuvres 1917
Lance Corporal Mellish was again wounded at the Battalion’s famous action at Moeuvres on 30th November 1917 when they held up the German counter attack in the Cambrai area. In total the battalion suffered over 370 casualties with D Company being surrounded and captured after an epic resistance

9th Battalion
When the 13th Battalion was disbanded in February 1918, Mellish was transferred to the 9th Essex. In April 1918 Acting Corporal Mellish was taken prisoner during the fighting around Albert, finally being discharged to Class Z reserve on 13th February 1919.

The Second World War
James is believed to be entitled to the Defence Medal, for service with the Home Guard.

biography courtesy of 'Owen' - many thanks to you, sir