Burbage During the Great War
Burbage During the Great War

2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment

The 2nd Battalion left England on 5th October 1914 with 1010 men.  They landed at Zeebrugge, Belgium on 7th October and reached Ypres after dark on 14th October.  The Battalion war diary discribes the events leading up to the German breech of the British front line on 24th October.  The Battalion was outflanked and 450 men were captured and many killed or wounded.  

 

Among the captured were Frederick BRADSHAW, Reuben HILLIER, Frederick MUNDY and Sidney WATTS. Records kept by the International Red Cross give an overview of their war as POWs.  Arthur MOON was listed among the dead.  An incomplete list of those killed in action, wounded and missing was published in the Marlborough Times of 18th December 1914.

8471 Pte Frederick BRADSHAW

 

Frederick Bradshaw is first mentioned in the Parish Magazine in January 1916 and is listed as a POW captured during the first battle of Ypres.  The records kept by the International Red Cross show that he was take prisoner on 21st October 1914 near Ypres and that he was born on 16th May 1893 in Ashenden Road, London.  He was held at a camp near Hameln, Germany.

 

Frederick was awarded the 1914 Star (with clasp), the British War and Victory Medals.

 

3/9828 Pte Albert George BUSHNELL

 

George Bushnell was born in Burbage in 1888, son of Louisa Goddard.  He was living at 75 High St, Burbage until the outbreak of the Great War.  He had casual employment as a bricklayer’s labourer, on the Savernake Estate, and on Golden Lands Farm, Burbage.

 

He first enlisted in the Militia at Devizes in November 1906 and then as a Special Reservist in 1908.  His attestation papers describe him as a 5ft 8in tall with grey eyes, brown hair and weighing 131lbs.  He completed his annual training with the 3rd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment in the rank of Private with Regimental Number 8105, serving for 4yrs 145 days.

 

George Bushnell re-enlisted in the Special Reserve in November 1912 for a further 4 years and with Regimental Number 9898.  The Revd Thealwell, vicar of Burbage, was asked to provide a reference. 

 

Pte Bushnall was mobilized on 8th August and joined the 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment at Lyndhurst as part of a draft of 195 Privates and 4 officers on 6th September 1914.  The Battalion sailed to Belgium and landed at Zeebrugge on 7th October 1914.

 

During October the Battalion fought near Becelare, Belgium in what became known as the first battle of Ypres.  The Battalion suffered many casualties and was reduced to 250 all ranks under command Second Lieutenant Hewitt.

 

Pte Bushnell was admitted to hospital in December 1914 suffering from a hammer toe.  He re-joined 2nd Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment on 10th April 1915.  He contracted measles later that month and returned to England to convalesce in Brighton in May 1915.  Following a period of leave in Burbage he was charged with disorderly conduct and being drunk.  Superintendent Mackay at Marlborough reported that Bushnell had been a nuisance and asked that he be given no more leave!  He re-joined his battalion on 24th July 1915.

 

On 5th February 1916 Bushnell transferred to 21st Brigade Machine Gun Company initially on attachment but later formally and on 17th January 1917 he was allocated Regimental Number 72982.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal (unpaid) in September 1917 and given leave for re-engaging for the duration.  In March 1918 Bushnell received a bullet wound in the shoulder which resulted in evacuation to England and reverted to Private.  He served with 6 Reserve Battalion Machine Gun Corps in England until November 1918 and transferred to the Reserve on 11th February 1919.

 

After the war he joined his mother in Goring-on-Thames and received a small disability pension.  He was awarded the 1914 Star (with clasp), British War Medal and Victory Medals.

263 Pte Walter GRACE (1895-)

 

Walter Grace was born in Great Bedwyn on 29th May 1875, the son of George Grace, a railway labourer, and Agnes.  In the 1891 Census, Walter was living in Chisbury with his parents, 3 brothers and a sister.  He was described as an agricultural labourer.

 

Walter joined the 3rd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment in May 1894.  He was 5ft 7 ins tall, weighed 125 lbs and had brown hair and eyes.  His Regimental Number was 4465.  After attesting in the Militia he attended annual training and served with the 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment in South Africa from January to November 1900.  He was subsequently awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with bars for service in Cape Colony and Orange Free State.  He was discharged from the Militia in May 1901

 

In 1901, Walter, age 25, was living with his wife Fanny at Bedwyn Common.  Ten years later he had 4 daughters and a son and was living at Wolfhall whilst working as a cowman.

 

At the outbreak of war, Walter Grace would have been 39 years old.  Pte Grace’s service records from the Great War were probably destroyed during the Blitz.  All that remains are the medal rolls and his medal card which show that he served first with the Wiltshire Regiment and latterly the Labour Corps with Regimental Number 680441.  The medal card shows that Pte Grace went to France in December 1915.  Pte Grace was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

 

Walter and Fanny were living at 10 Easton View, Burbage in September 1939.  Walter was described as an incapacitated cowman.  Sons Victor and Douglas were living at the same address.

 

8791 Pte James HILLIER (1893-1914)

 

James was born in Froxfield in the spring of 1893, son of James and Ellen. 

 

By 1901 his mother, Ellen, was living at 1 Fir Green in Burbage with her 3 daughters and 2 sons.  She later remarried John Bushnell, a farm labourer, and at the time of the 1911 Census was living at Kinwardstone.  James was living with them.

 

James joined the 2nd Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment and arrived in France with the battalion on 7th October 1914. 

 

James Hillier was reported 'missing' in the Marlborough Times of 18th December 1914.  Has no known grave.  It is presumed that he was killed in action on or about 24th October 1914.  He is remembered on the Menin Gate, Ypres.

 

James was awarded the 1914 Star (with clasp), British War and Victory Medals.

8591 Pte Reuben Frederick HILLIER (1891-1966)

 

In December 1914 the Burbage Parish News reported that Pte Reuben Hillier had been captured and was a Prisoner of War in Gottingen, Germany. 

 

Reuben was born on the 3rd April 1891 (2 days before the Census) in West Grafton, the son of Frank & Fanny.  He had 2 brothers (Walter also joined the Wiltshire Regiment during the Great War) and 2 sisters; all were living in Long Drove, Burbage at the time of the 1901 Census.  The family were still in Long Drove for the 1911 UK Census.

 

Reuben joined the Army and is recorded in the 1911 Census for Ireland as living in Portobello Barracks, Dublin.  Pte Hillier served with the 2nd Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment in the Great War and it’s reasonable to assume he also served with the 2nd Battalion in Ireland and Gibraltar before the War.

 

The Battalion was recalled from Gibraltar on mobilisation and staged briefly at Lyndhurst in England before sailing for Belgium on 5th October.  By the 20th October the Battalion was fighting near Ypres and over the next 4 days it bore the full brunt of the German onslaught.  The Battalion was outflanked and suffered heavy casualties.  The official Battalion War Diary for the 24th October records a large number being captured and many killed in action.  A transcript, of the Battalion War Diary, published in 2006, notes that, The 2nd Wiltshires had left England on the 5th October 1100 strong. In this battle 450 were captured….  It is possible that Pte Hillier was amongst them. 

 

Documents held by the International Red Cross show that Pte Hillier was transferred to a camp in Munster, Germany arriving on the 21st October 1915 and note that he was captured at Zonnebeke, a few miles north west of Ypres.

 

In September 1939 Reuben was at 131 Eastcourt living with wife ethel and son Walter.  Reuben's occupation was railway Engineering Maintenance Supervisor for the GWR heavy Works Depot.

 

Reuben, of 133 Eastcourt, died on 19th November 1966.  

 

5421 Arthur George MOON (1881-1914)

 

Arthur Moon was born at Loophill in Bromham, Wiltshire in 1881.  His father, John, was a shepherd who, with his wife Caroline, had 8 sons and 4 daughters.  The family moved to Hilcott near Pewsey before the 1891 Census.

 

Arthur married Louise Simpkins in Swindon in 1909 and they had a daughter, Violet Evelyn in 1910.  At the 1911 Census they were living at 40 Cheltenham St, Swindon.  Arthur’s occupation was described as Train Examiner for the Great Western Railway.

 

Athur worked in the Locomotive and Carriage Department and was based at Savernake Station.

 

During the Great War, Arthur served with the 2nd Battalion, The Wiltshire Regiment.  The Regiment left Southampton on 5th October 1914 for France & Flanders, spent much of the next day awaiting a pilot off Dover and landed at Zeebrugge on 7th October.  Arthur was killed in action on 24 October 1914.

7595 Pte Frederick Thomas MUNDY (1895-)

 

Fred was born on 17th September 1895, son of Thomas and Alice Mundy.   He was educated at Burbage School until May 1909.  Thomas died and for the 1901 Census Fred and his sister Florence were living with Alice’s new husband, Alfred Stone at 78 Ram Alley in the parish of Easton Royal.  

 

Although technically outside the parish at Ram Alley (part of Easton Royal), Frederick is listed in the November 1915 issue of the magazine as one several serving who had previously attended Burbage School.

 

Fred trained as a bricklayer and in the 1911 Census was still living with Alfred and Alice in Ram Alley.  Albert Stone (Bertie) lived in the same house.

 

There's some uncertainty over what he did in the war.  However, we know from the November 1915 Parish Magazine that he was serving.

 

According to his regimental number, 7595 Pte FT Mundy of the Wiltshire Regiment would have joined-up well before August 1914.  He may have joined as a Reservist.  His medal card shows that he was amongst the first wave to land in France with the 2nd Battalion in October 1914.  He was listed missing in the Marlborough Times of 18th December 1914 but a search of Red Cross POW records has drawn a blank.  His medal rescord notes that he transferred to the reserve in 1919 so he survived the war.  Medal records show he was awarded the 1914 Star with Clasp, the War & Victory medals which were issued in 1922.

7443 Sgt David George VARDY (1897-1949)

 

David left Burbage well before the Great War but his name appears in the 1911 Census along with other members of the Wiltshire Regiment at Le Marchant Barracks Devizes as one of three soldiers born in Burbage.  

 

David was born in Burbage in 1887 the son of Matthew and Georgina.  By 1891 the family lived in Long Drove.  In about 1894 they moved to Aldbourne and in the 1901 Census were living at 16 Warren Cottage.  Mathew was a groom on a farm.  David was one of six children.  

 

Ten years later David appears in the 1911 Census at Le Marchant Barracks, Devizes age 23 and single.  There’s an online reference to a Court Martial in Dublin on 22nd February 1909.

 

On 7th October 1908, the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment embarked on the SS Southern and sailed from Pembroke Dock for Ireland.  They arrived at Rosslare, travelled by train to Dublin and marched to quarters in Portobello Barracks.  

 

At some point the Battalion returned to England before departing Gosport for Gibraltar in early 1913.  A month or so later, the 1st Battalion returning from South Africa, occupied Le Marchant Barracks.

 

Pte Vardy deployed to France with the 2nd Battalion on 7th October 1914.  He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal in March 1916.  The citation in the London Gazette reads:  For conspicuous gallantry; he assisted to bring in a severely wounded man under heavy fire.  He displayed great bravery and ability in commanding his platoon when left without officers.

 

Sgt Vardy survived the war.  He was awarded the 1914 Star, the British War and Victory Medals.  

 

After the war, David married Florence Julia.  From 1929 they lived in quarters in the Royal Arsenal, Reidhaven Road and McLeod Road, Woolwich.

 

The 1939 Registration describes David as a War Department Constable, living in McLeod Road with his wife and two children.

 

After the Second World War they moved back to Swindon.  David, of 11 Whitney Street, Swindon died on 4th March 1949.  Florence survived him.  She died in 1972

 

3/9358 Pte Sidney Cook WATTS

 

Sidney Watts is first mentioned in the Parish Magazine in January 1916 and is listed as a POW captured during the first battle of Ypres.  The records kept by the International Red Cross show that he was take prisoner on 23rd October 1914 near Neuf Chapelle and that he was born in Westbury. 

 

Watts, like Hillier, was imprisoned in Gottingen, Germany.

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