Notes on some of the men of the
University and Public Schools Brigade (UPS)

This page records the details of a small sample of the many UPS volunteers who underwent basic training in the Epsom area who then went on to lead notable lives. These men had little or no other connection with the district but we feel their achievments will be of interest to many readers.


Click on the name to jump to the relevant entry

BLENCOWE, Oswald Charles (New 31/12/2016)
BROOKE, Herbert Julian, MC (New 29/12/2016)
DAVIS, Geoffrey Lennard See Cerebro-spinal meningitis/influenza in Epsom (New 14/12/2016)
COHEN, George Edward See Cerebro-spinal meningitis/influenza in Epsom (New 14/12/2016)
DOBBYN, Robert ('Robin') Newport (New 02/01/2017)
EKIN, Frederick William See A Belfast Quartet (New 01/12/2016)
LOTT, John English (New 07/02/2017)
McDOWELL, John Beck See A Belfast Quartet (New 01/12/2016)
McINTYRE, Robert William See A Belfast Quartet (New 01/12/2016)
McKINNET, Thomas George See A Belfast Quartet (New 01/12/2016)
MUNNS, Leslie Cecil See Cerebro-spinal meningitis/influenza in Epsom (New 14/12/2016)
PERCIVAL, Arthur Stanley France (New 27/04/2018)
REED, Thomas Peter (New 01/12/2016)
SANT, Edward Medley (New 25/04/2018)
WILLIAMS, John Lloyd (New 01/12/2016)


Oswald Charles Blencowe, Sergeant, P/S 1283,

D Company, 18th Royal Fusiliers
2nd Lieutenant Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

O C Blencowe, Esq, 6 Feb 1915
O C Blencowe, Esq, 6 Feb 1915
Images by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

Oswald was baptised on 4 May 1890 at Marston St Lawrence, Northampton, the youngest son of the Vicar, Rev. Charles Edward Blencowe, and Katherine Elizabeth nee Walcott, of Banbury. Having attended the Dragon School, Oxford, between1902 and 1908, he went on to St. Edward's School, Oxford.

He enlisted with the University and Public Schools Men's Force in the 1st Battalion which became 18th Bn. Royal Fusiliers with a Service Number [P/S] 1283 and was made up to the rank of Sergeant.

His battalion landed in France,14 November 1915, and on 14 January 1916, after a period in reserve, the 18th Royal Fusiliers had marched to billets in the village of Annequin. At 5pm the next day they took over a section of a trench called Harley Street from 1st Battalion Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

On 26 January 1916 he wrote to his mother presumably having returned to Annequin. This letter can be seen at

Shortly afterwards, since officer training took about four and a half months, he entered a Cadet Battalion. His commission as a Temp. 2nd Lieutenant in Oxford. and Bucks. Light Infantry was subsequently gazetted with effect from 2 June 1916.

In the Battle of Le Transloy Ridge, 7th October 1916, during the Somme Offensive, 12th Rifle Brigade was part of the first wave, its objective being Rainbow Trench and then on to Cloudy Trench, just north-east of Guedecourt. The attack started at 13.47 and all objectives were taken by 14.15, however, the 12th R.B. took heavy casualties as they reached the crest of the hill. About twenty yards from the German line, they met with heavy machine-gun fire and all five officers of the two leading companies went down; four were killed, the fifth severely wounded. Amongst the fatalities was Oswald Blencowe temporarily attached only 3 days previously from 6th Oxs. and Bucks. L.I.

Second Lieutenant Oswald Charles Blencowe
Second Lieutenant Oswald Charles Blencowe
Image courtesy of © IWM (HU 113977)

Captain Arthur Campbell Martin of 18th Royal Fusiliers is reported to have written in condolence: -
'He was my platoon sergeant all last winter on the La Bassée front … I had great admiration for his qualities and imperturbable character. All the officers of 'D' Company loved my Sergeant Blencowe. I shall never forget the picture of him after an hour's heavy bombardment of the piece of line his Platoon was holding. I went along to see what casualties and what damage had been caused and ran up against him looking the picture of robust health, unshaven (we had been in four days), and smoking an old pipe. He was so unexcited that he went on detailing a fatigue party or ration party without a word of comment although shells were still falling within 100 yards. He was always working loyally and most unselfishly for the comfort of the men and to help me.'
A brother Oxs. and Bucks. officer added:
'I am not writing in any official sense., but to express my admiration and appreciation for Blencowe. In the line he was of immense value to us and in the most trying hours, when things were as bad as shells and foul weather could make them, he showed that rare kind of cheerfulness which does not offend by its bumptiousness, nor depress by its artificiality. His spirits and efficiency were amazing. He set a high value on music and poetry. He sang well, and was strongly heard in the dug-out - carols, songs, choruses, old English songs, and Gilbert and Sullivan. One day we had returned from the trenches and gone back into a line of dug-outs. He pulled out the books he always carried with him, Omar Khayyam, and two volumes of the hundred best poems, and three of us lay awake, much longer than we could afford, reading aloud to one another. I know he was killed instantaneously. He was hit by a shell in the head when in front of his men, about ten yards from the enemy's line.'
Reportedly Oswald's burial was conducted by the 12th Rifle Brigade's Chaplain near the place where he fell, between the British and old German line. The location, however, became lost and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial.

Brian Bouchard. © December, 2016.

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Herbert Julian Brooke, MC, Sergeant 127

2nd University and Public Schools Bn. 19th Royal Fusiliers
Captain King's African Rifles

Sgt H J Brooke, 24 Feb 1915
Sgt H J Brooke, 24 Feb 1915
Images by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

Herbert Julian's birth at St Leonards, Sussex, on 25 October 1888 from the union of Herbert Richard Brooke, MA, and Gertrude Alice Rice was registered in Hastings for the December Quarter. His father, proprietor of Maze Hill School, son of Canon Brooke, Rector of Bath, was a brother to William Parker Brooke and uncle of Rupert Chawner Brooke (1887 -1915, the WWI poet).

Herbert, junior, entered Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, in January 1903. By 1913 he was in Southern Rhodesia in charge of a farm at Plumtree School in Matabeleland, writing back: -
"I am at present managing a rather undefined stretch of country which is called a farm, and am living most luxuriously in a four - roomed house, which is made of poles and dagga (mud). The poles are planted upright in the ground and the dagga plastered between them. I have been here about ten days now and live alone except for the natives. The town of Plumtree is within 14 miles Horses cannot live here, so the only means of conveyance are mules or donkeys and bicycling. The country round here is heavily wooded: one cannot see more than 150 yards in any direction. Water is obtained by digging wells, and during the winter this is the one and only supply. I live more or less upon what I can shoot, the game round here being chiefly driker and stembok and plenty of hares; there are no leopards or lions within 50 miles."
Evidently he returned to England to enlist in the University and Public Schools Men's Force at the outbreak of the Great War. By February 1915, he had attained the rank of Sergeant in 19th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and seems to have remained with them until the unit was disbanded in late April 1916. From February 1916 a new system of training for officers had been introduced, after which temporary commissions generally could be granted if a man had been through an Officer Cadet unit with a training course which lasted four and a half months. On 23 June 1916, however, Herbert was seconded from the ranks to be appointed Temporary Lieutenant whilst serving with the King's African Rifles.

In late September 1917 the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Regiment (Nyasaland) of the King's African Rifles engaged in action at Mpingo Ridge, East Africa. There Herbert earned a Military Cross - citation in the London Gazette 18/7/1918:
'T./Lt. Herbert Julian Brooke, K. Afr. Rif, For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He crawled out to a dangerously wounded .N.C.O. under heavy fire, and carried him on his back to a position under cover where stretcher-bearers could reach him when they arrived. He showed splendid courage and devotion to duty.'
Temporary Captain H J Brooke, M C , King's African Rifles, relinquished his commission on account of wounds, 6 November 1919, and completed his service on 1 April 1920. His injuries resulted in the loss of a leg.

Before February 1921 he had returned to South Africa to reside at Crediton, Plumtree, South Rhodesia. There, despite his handicap, he resumed management of the school farm growing food for staff and pupils. A history of the school from inception to 75th anniversary, 1978, records that
"When meat was required Herbert Brooke, preceded by a strong smell of tobacco, would stomp downstairs from his room carrying a shotgun. With his curved pipe puffing voluminous clouds of smoke he would give a cheerful nod to any boys who happened to be about; hop on his fixed wheel bicycle (with his wooden leg rakishly extended…)"
to hunt for game. He also acted as gymnastics, shooting and boxing instructor, serving the school for 28 years before retirement.

Mrs. Mary Ruth Brooke, the mother of Rupert Brooke, poet and soldier, who had died on 13 October 1930, left an estate of £22,000, from which she bequeathed £1000 to Herbert Julian Brooke, 'in consideration of the loss of one of his legs in the war'.

Herbert continued to live on his farm near Plumtree remaining a prominent figure around the district. He died in Perth Hospital at Perth during 1961 while on a visit to Australia.

Brian Bouchard. © December, 2016.

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A Belfast quartet
in 3rd University and Public Schools Bn./ 20th Royal Fusiliers

PS/4795 Frederick William Ekin
PS/5261 John Beck McDowell
PS/5264 Robert William McIntyre
PS/5265 Thomas George McKinney

Tom McKinney  and Jack McDowell
An informal photograph by Frederick Wakefield, Epsom, presumably taken at
Woodcote Park Camp,shows Tom McKinney standing with tray and Jack Mc Dowell kneeling,
members of D Company: it is not known whether F W Ekin was a member of the group,
Thomas McIntyre probably is there.
Image source

Frederick William Ekin, the eldest son of John and Annie Ekin,of Clarnico, Ashley Park, Belfast, had been born on 20th July 1893 in the Shankill. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and attended Queens University for one year, becoming a Member of the Training Corps.

Prior to military service he worked with his father at Messrs. Ekin & Prenter of 26 Waring Street, Belfast.

John Beck McDowell was born on 29th July 1894 to John and Adelaide Evelyn McDowell, latterly of Malone Park, Belfast. John, junior, having been educated at the Royal Academy and Royal Belfast Academical Institution, worked for the Royal Insurance Company in Royal Avenue, and attended Duncairn Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

Thomas George McKinney was the son of John Thoburn McKinney, Carnmoney, Belfast. He also received his education at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, but went on to study at the Agricultural College, Ballyhaise, County Cavan.

Robert William McIntyre, the second son of John and Jeanie Isabella McIntyre, born 16 January 1896 in Holywood, , Co. Down, attended Bangor Grammar School from 1905 until 1908 and then again Royal Belfast Academical Institution. Prior to the outbreak of the WWI he had become a linen merchant's apprentice, his family resident at 2 Whittinghame Villas, 7 Knock Road, Belfast.

All four enlisted in the University and Public Schools Men's Force during September 1914 before being allocated as privates to 3rd UPS Bn., billeted at Leatherhead, subsequently designated 20th Royal Fusiliers. After training, the unit went to war and was transferred to 19th Brigade, 33rd Division. on 27 November 1915.

At 5pm on 12 March 1916 the 20th Service Battalion, Royal Fusiliers relieved the 5th Scottish Rifles in the Cuinchy Section, Cambrin Support Point. Relief complete at 11.35pm.

Next day, the ill-omened 13 March 1916, Jack McDowell was shot dead by a German sniper. The War diary records: 'Mine blown by enemy at A21d7.5.2.5 at 6.15 am. Crater joined ETNA and GIBSONS - no casualties. Bomb attack by enemy in evening - reported Captain E T Wright killed by rifle grenade, 2Lt T S Pope wounded, 4 OR killed, 8 OR wounded,(one remaining at duty). We hold near lip of crater.'

Lance Corporal J B McDowell was interred at Cambrin Churchyard extension with six of his comrades.

Tom McKinney was hit by shrapnel at Bazentin-le-Petit on 3 July 1916. J.W. Ekin wrote on the 4th July:
"Your son was slightly wounded yesterday with a piece of a bomb which struck him on the hip. I can assure you that you need not have the slightest anxiety as to 'Mac's' (as he is known to everybody) condition. I don't know if he has ever mentioned my name to you but we were at Inst together and came over to Epsom together." An official note stated that Tom had been moved to a military hospital. His wound had become infected with gangrene so that by 17th July he was seriously ill, the wound is very septic and part of the bone which was 'all splintered' needed to be removed. The family were notified on 22 July: "It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received notifying the death of Pte McKinney, T.G., 20th Bn. Royal Fusiliers which occurred at General Hospital St Omer at 7.30pm on 19 July 1916."
Tom was buried in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery (ref. IV A 6), Pas de Calais, France

Frederick Ekin received a gunshot to his arm during the Battle of the Somme on 20 July 1916. A second attack on High Wood had taken place during the early morning of that day: bombardment commencing at 2.55 a.m., followed forty minutes later by an infantry assault. The battalions taking part again marched up past Crucifix Corner, and in some cases up to the site of the Bazentin-le-Petit windmill [Other Ranks killed, wounded or missing, 375]. He died in Edinburgh War Hospital, Bangour, Scotland as a result of septicaemia on 18 August 1916, aged 23, and was buried in Belfast City Cemetery with full military honours.

Robert McIntyre was another severely wounded during the Battle of the Somme, July 1916. He received gun shot wounds which included facial injuries, trauma to right arm and back as well as a fractured right shoulder blade. After his recovery McIntyre became a cadet in 8 OCB before being commissioned into the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment (The Hull Tradesmen Battalion) on 27 March 1917. In the King's Birthday Honours List 1918 Robert became Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for 'an act of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy.'

During action south east of Monchy-le-Preux, during the Third Battle of the Scarpe, France, on the 25th July 1918, attacking Tool and Infantry Hill trenches, 2nd Lt McIntyre, MBE. was killed by enemy machine-gun fire.

Robert was buried in Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery, Morbecque, France, aged 22.

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Robert ('Robin') Newport DOBBYN

Private P/S 4768 Royal Fusiliers
2nd Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps

Born 21 June 1893 Died 23 November 1916 aged 23

R N Dobbyn, Esq, 20 Mar 1915
R N Dobbyn, Esq, 20 Mar 1915
Images by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

Robert was the only son of solicitor Robert Dobbyn and his wife Annette, nee Newport, of 11 Ballinakill House, overlooking Waterford Harbour, Ireland, born 21 June 1893. Having been educated at Clifton College, Bristol, he joined the University and Public Schools Men's Force, Royal Fusiliers, as a private in December 1914. Arriving in France he served in the trenches around La Bassee and Anequin in a relatively quiet sector of the front. His UPS battalion has not been established but it is presumed to have been one of the three disbanded in late April 1916, 18th, 19th & 21st Royal Fusiliers.

From 5 August 1916, he was awarded a commission in the the Royal Flying Corps, to train as a pilot at Beddington Aerodrome (Croydon Airport). On 23 November 1916 2nd Lieutenant Dobbyn of 17 Reserve Squadron, RFC, took off from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome, Middlesex, in a BE 12 serial number 6666. At a height of seventy or eighty feet, he encountered difficulties causing his plane to nose dive. Impact with the ground burst the petrol tank* and the whole plane was soon aflame. Several officers witnessed the crash but their valiant efforts to extricate Robert from the burning wreckage proved unsuccessful, and he died upon admission to hospital [Death reg. Brentford 12/1916]. An Inquest determined the most likely cause of the accident was that Dobbyn had turned the plane downwind too soon after take-off causing the engine to stall or the plane to lose lift. A verdict was returned of accidental death through an error of judgement on Robert's part probably due to his lack of experience.

A Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e aircraft landing at the Ford Junction Aerodrome, 25 October 1918.
A Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e aircraft landing at the Ford Junction Aerodrome, 25 October 1918.
Image courtesy of © IWM (Q 58348)

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12 was a single-seat aeroplane, essentially a B.E. 2c with the front (observer's) cockpit replaced by a *large fuel tank.

'Robin' was buried with full military honours in a private graveyard attached to the family home at Ballinakill House. The band of the 5th Lancers had played the Dead March along the route; the Last Post was sounded over the grave and three volleys fired, the firing party consisting of men of the Royal Irish Regiment from Clonmel.

On 28 June 1917 administration of his estate was granted to his mother Annette Dobbyn, widow, effects £9,312:8:9.

Brian Bouchard. © January, 2017.

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John English LOTT (Brother John Baptist Lott, Order of St Paul)

Corporal P/S 2696 4th University and Public Schools Battalion/ 21st Royal Fusilers
2nd Lieutenant 4th Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers
Formerly of the Royal Marines

Died of wounds on 21 May 1917 aged 42

J E Lott, Esq, 4 Jan 1915
J E Lott, Esq, 4 Jan 1915
Images by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

John English Lott, born in Ashen House, Ashen, Essex, and baptised in the parish church on 19 May 1875, was a son of John Green and Marian Ellen, nee Giblin, Lott. He attended Framlingham College, Woodbridge, Suffolk, as a boarder between 1888 and 1892 before taking up employment in a bank.

Charles Plomer Hopkins, a church organist, had been appointed to Rangoon seamen's chaplaincy and, in 1885, ordained priest by the Bishop of Rangoon. Having established his own Order of St Paul, he returned to this country from Calcutta to take charge of a mother house of the Order in South Wales. [Additional details may be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.]

On 26 October 1894 the Barry Dock News reported: -
The Rev Father C. P Hopkins Superior General of the Order of St. Paul, the founder of a new spiritual and social institution for the benefit of the seafaring community which has obtained a firm and influential footing in the principal sea- ports of India, having arrived in England on Saturday week last, a representative of the Barry Dock News had an interview with that gentleman at Barry Docks one day last week, and in the course of an interesting conversation Father Hopkins said the success which had attended his work at Calcutta, Chittagong, Budge Budge, and Bombay had far exceeded his most sanguine expectations, the success being so great that the object of his present visit to the home country is the establishment of a novice house at Barry Docks, where the headquarters of the Order for Great Britain will be located. The novice house is intended for the training of workers for the particular work the Order has in view, and suitable premises for this purpose will be secured at Barry Docks, where those who devote themselves to the work of the Order will receive not only a theoretical, but also a practical, train- ing. The Superior General also proposes establishing recreation rooms and a seamen's church at Barry as soon as the necessary funds may be forthcoming. The Order of St. Paul, which has been in existence for more than a decade, has received the hearty approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Lincoln, Llandaff, Rangoon, and Colombo, the Viceroy of India, and other influential personages. The reason why Father Hopkins has adopted Barry as the first station in Great Britain is the fact that this is the only important seaport town in the kingdom unprovided with a similar institution under the auspices of the Church of England, and he makes an earnest appeal to the Christian public for self-denying volunteers to the work, as well as for funds to carry on the same. With this object in view the Superior General intends soliciting pulpits, drawing-rooms, and lecture halls, so as to put forth appeals on behalf of the Order, which has been founded 'For God and our Sailors'. The work at Barry Docks was commenced some months age by the Rev Father Austin under the direction of the Superior General, and there are already abundant evidences of success".
In the following year, however, he purchased a substantial plot of land near Alton in Hampshire, initially used to care for retired or ill seamen in temporary wood and metal buildings, whereon in due course was constructed the Abbey of St. Paul. John Lott came under the influence of Rev. Hopkins, otherwise known as 'Father Michael', and joined the quasi Benedictine Order on 1 November 1897.

In 1911 Charles Hopkins, from his concern for the welfare of mariners, had announced and led an international strike of merchant seamen. Reportedly, 'On the outbreak of war in 1914 Father Michael decided that he would formally release all the Brothers from their vows of obedience to the Order so that they were free to enlist in the Armed Forces if they wished. John Lott, who was then 39 years old, was one of the first to volunteer...'

He enlisted as a Private in the University and Public Schools Men's Force allocated to the 4th Battalion which became 21st Royal Fusiliers.

From December 1915, was attached to the 176th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers which was employed on operations in the Givenchy-Cuinchy area and in March 1916 he was transferred to 173rd Tunnelling Company R. E. working in the Hulluch-Double Crassier sector. Since there were no major battles to be fought around these places, infantry men were seconded to provide labour in mining and other construction work, also acting as carrying parties taking explosives down into the galleries.

During April 1916, 21st Royal Fusiliers, with the 18th and 19th Battalions, was disbanded and many men allocated to Cadet Units to be trained as commissioned officers. John Lott, however, failed to gain selection because of his age. Nevertheless, by 9 June 1916 he had negotiated a transfer to the 4th Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers, and became a sound ranger.

With effect from 30 December 1916, Acting Corporal John English Lott from the Royal Fusiliers was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant (on probation) in the Royal Engineers. In a History of the Fourth Field Survey Battalion R.E. by Lieut. Col. M.N. Macleod D.S.O. M.C. R.E. Commanding Officer, Sound Ranging Officers in 'S' Section were named as Capt. A.H. Atkins, Lieut. Chapman, Lieut. E.T. Paris & Lieut. [J] E. Lott.

On 7 May 1917, John Lott saw a party of soldiers hit by fire, which wounded all the men of the party. Lott immediately went out and started to bring in the wounded even though the area was still under continual shellfire. A piece of shrapnel pierced his steel helmet and penetrated his brain. Severely wounded, he was carried back to safety and rushed to 55 Casualty Clearing Station near Peronne.

He was awarded a Military Cross for his bravery: -
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. A party went out to recover the body of a comrade and came under heavy fire, which wounded all the men of the party. This officer went to their assistance, helped to dress their wounds and carried them to a place of safety. This was carried out under continuous shellfire."
but died from his wounds on 21 May 1917.

A fuller account of his war service may be read at

Brother Lott lies interred at the La Chapellette British & Indian Cemetery at Péronne, his grave marked with a CWGC headstone whilst a Memorial Stone lies in the cemetery at Alton Abbey next to the grave of Father Michael Hopkins, the founder of the Order of St. Paul. His name also appears on a memorial plaque in the porch of Great Wenham church.

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Arthur Stanley France PERCIVAL

UPS Battalion Royal Fusiliers
Lieutenant in Queen's Own (Royal West Kent)

Died at died on 20 August 1946 aged 50

A S F Percival, Esq, 29 Jan 1915
A S F Percival, Esq, 29 Jan 1915
Image by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

Arthur Stanley France Percival's birth was registered Wellington, 12/1895, son of Herbert and Mary Jane Percival, evidently enlisted with the UPS Battalion Royal Fusiliers but was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment from 27 January 1916. He was wounded on 17 September 1916 in the Battle of Flers whilst serving with the 10th Battalion and promoted Lieutenant, 27 July 1917.

Having survived the Great War, he became a planter in Perak, Malaya, but returned to England to marry Edna M Ellis, reg. Marylebone 9/1938. He volunteered for the 1st (Perak) Battalion, the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force, rose to the rank of Captain, but was captured by the Japanese and interned as a POW. His wife and their two daughters had been evacuated on the Aoranji to arrive in Freemantle, Western Australia on 23 January 1942. Eventually repatriated to join them in Devon, Arthur died on 20 August 1946, aged 50, and was buried in Newton Abbot Cemetery.

Brian Bouchard. © April, 2018.

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Thomas Peter REED

PS/1148 Colour Sergeant 19th (Service) Battalion (2nd Public Schools) Royal Fusiliers
(City of London Regiment) 98th Brigade 33rd Division
Formerly of the Royal Marines

Died at Warnham, 11 April 1915 aged 57

The West Sussex County Times of 17 April 1915, under the heading "A Sergeant's Funeral" reported the burial in Warnham churchyard of Sergeant Thomas Peter Reed of Serapis Cottage, Durfold-hill, Warnham. He was 57 and died of pneumonia on 11 April 1915 while on leave from his unit, the 19th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, made up of public school volunteers.

Thomas Reed was born in 1858 at Widdington, Essex to a single mother, Susan Barker, and was baptized Thomas Peter Barker on 26 December 1858. His mother married Charles Reed in late 1859 at Widdington but Thomas retained his Barker surname until he enlisted in the Royal Marines sometime between 1871 and 1881. He served in Egypt in the 1880s for which he obtained the Egyptian campaign medal. He was a first class instructor of musketry at Hythe and retired with the Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, for which 15 years' service was the qualifying term. On 13 August 1893 Thomas had married Harriet Ann Hunt at Bow. He was a Marine pensioner and worked as a mail clerk with the Patent Agency. At the outbreak of war he promptly re-enlisted and joined the 19th Battalion Royal Fusiliers at Epsom, Surrey. With the rapid expansion of the army from 1914 onwards there was a pressing need for NCOs to lick the volunteers into shape to face the challenges to come. Thomas Reed, with his Royal Marines service, was ready-made for that task. His untimely death so soon after rejoining the forces cut short his usefulness in this task.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel W W Gordon wrote to his widow: "I cannot tell you how shocked we all were to hear of your husband, Colour Sergeant Reed's death. I need hardly say that I appreciate very highly the excellent work your husband did in this battalion. All ranks are greatly grieved at your loss and also the loss to the battalion he served so well". The battalion was represented at the funeral by a Major, a Company Sergeant Major and two Privates. A splendid cross bore the inscription: 'From Colonel W Woolrige Gordon and the Officers 19th (Service) Battalion Royal Fusiliers'. It is now broken and lying on the ground north-east of the church, displaying little text. There was also a beautiful wreath from the NCOs and men of 'E' Company. The Vicar, the Reverend Prebendary Bowcott, officiated at the graveside. Mrs Reed was the chief mourner together with various Warnham residents.

He is recorded on the War Memorial as 'CSM Thomas Reed, Royal Fusiliers'. CSM is an abbreviation for Company Sergeant Major, not the Colour Sergeant rank mentioned in his Colonel's eulogy. A Colour Sergeant is of lesser importance than a CSM; it identifies him as the senior sergeant in a company. It is most unlikely that a commanding officer would have used an incorrect rank in writing a condolence letter to a widow. Also, if Thomas Reed had been a CSM his death would have required the presence of the Regimental Sergeant Major at his funeral. The CSM at the funeral was probably Thomas's own. It is most likely that those compiling the War Memorial entry confused CSgt. with CSM, something easily done if you are unfamiliar with military ranks and their subtleties. Thomas was not eligible for the War Medal as he had not served overseas in a theatre of war.

As a postscript, the 19th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was raised by the Public Schools and University Men's Force at Epsom on 11th September 1914, one of four Public Schools Battalions. All four battalions were not taken over by the War Office until 1st July 1915. The 19th Battalion was disbanded in 1916, when most other ranks were commissioned, so helping to fill the greatly expanded army's pressing need for leaders. Charles Eric Lucas of Warnham Court served with the 19th Bn and survived the war. Thirty four men of the battalion were posted to the 12th Battalion Royal Fusiliers in which Cecil Burchett and Albert Charman also served. Sadly these two Warnham lads were both killed - Cecil at Messines in June1917 and Albert at Passchendaele later that year.

With thanks to Steve Lancaster and Warnham and the Great War. © December, 2016.

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Edward Medley SANT

Private 2nd Public Schools Battalion (19th Royal Fusiliers)/ 3rd (Reserve) Battalion /
Pilot, 19 Squadron Royal Flying Corps

Died 1 September 1917 aged 24

E M Sant, Esq, 19 Mar 1915
E M Sant, Esq, 19 Mar 1915
Image by David Knights-Whittome courtesy of Sutton Archives

He was a son of Rev Edward Sant, Curate at West Ham, whose birth was registered at West Ham 4/1893. From 1902 his father became Vicar of Elsenham and by 1911 E M Sant was employed as a Land Agent's Clerk.

Edward, junior, enlisted as a Private in the 2nd Public Schools Battalion (19th Royal Fusiliers) during 1914 before being commissioned into the Essex Regiment on 8 June 1915. Subsequently he was with 3rd (Reserve) Battalion for some time before transferring to the RFC to train as a pilot from late 1916. He was posted to 19 Squadron on 22 August 1917 at Poperinghe flying SPAD VII's. On 1 September 1917 he took off at 6.33 am in SPAD VII B3569 to be shot down in a spin over Houthulst Forest and became Missing in Action. He is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

He appears on the Elsenham Roll of Honour as E Medley Sant.

Brian Bouchard. © April, 2018.

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John Lloyd WILLIAMS A M I Mech. E & A M I A E

Private 20th Royal Fusiliers (4th University and Public Schools) Bn.,
Captain Royal Flying Corps/RAF, Acting Flight Lieutenant 73923 RAFR,

born Goole, 19 December 1885, and died on War Service, 11 September 1940.

John Lloyd Williams
John Lloyd Williams
Uniformed as a private in Royal Fusiliers having obtained his Aviator's
Certificate on a Caudron biplane at The Hall School of Flying, Hendon Aerodrome.
Image source Flight 05 February 1915

J. Lloyd Williams was educated at Richmond Grammar School, Yorkshire, and subsequently developed a technical expertise at the Belfast Municipal Institute whilst serving a six years' apprenticeship with Harland and Wolff Ltd, Belfast from 1902 to 1908. He then went to sea for one year as Engineer on a collier, S.S. Pollacsek of the Atlantic Steam Navigation line. During 1910 he returned to Harland and Wolff to become involved in experimental work on aeroplanes before joining The May Street Motor Co Ltd, Belfast, (established by a friend from Belfast Technical College, Harry Ferguson) as Works Manager. In 1912 he was appointed a Director of the company re-named Harry Ferguson Ltd.

Newspaper Cutting
Newspaper Cutting

In September 1914 he volunteered for the University and Public Schools Men's Force which mustered in Epsom and was allocated to 3rd UPS/ 20th Royal Fusiliers billeted on Leatherhead whilst a camp was built in Woodcote Park. By October 1914, serving as a private soldier, he was granted special leave of absence in order to undertake private instruction at the Hall School of Flying, Hendon. After lessons on thirteen days, involving a total of only 112 minutes training, he was awarded Aviator's Certificate No. 1050 on 26 January 1915. A commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps followed, 23 April 1915.

Royal Aero Club record card for John's Aviator's Certificate
Royal Aero Club record card for John's Aviator's Certificate

Having been appointed a pilot in 10 Squadron, he flew with it to join 1st Wing BEF in France the following July. Reportedly, on 26 October 1915, his observer had been injured by an attacking Fokker and was unable to use his gun. Williams was then hit, blacked out and the aircraft began to spin. On realising what was happening, Lt Hallam, the observer, climbed back between the wing struts, shut off the fuel supply and managed to get enough control to put the aircraft on the ground behind French lines. The machine overturned and Williams was thrown out, badly injured and having lost a lot of blood, and both men were passed on to French Red Cross. One of the early RFC communiques adds that an observer from 2 Squadron was on a visit to a nearby artillery battery, saw what had happened and, under fire, went to the aircraft to salvage its Lewis gun and instruments. On hearing that the engine was still serviceable, 10 Squadron sent a party out two nights later to recover that, again under fire.

Severely wounded, Williams lost the use of his left arm but, in spite of this disability, proceeded to Canada, where he was officer in charge of various training squadrons and responsible for many new pilots at a critical stage of the Great War On demobilization in 1921, he resumed his directorship of Messrs. Harry Ferguson, and for some years was engaged on experimental work connected with agricultural tractors on behalf of the firm and its ancillary, the Ferguson-Sherman Company of Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.A.

Captain Williams remained in the RAF Volunteer Reserve and from 7 September 1939 resumed active service in Admin. and Special Duties Branch as a Pilot Officer on probation with the Serial Number 73923. He attained the substantive rank of Flying Officer with effect from 17 August 1940 but appears to have been acting as Flight Lieutenant.

His home address by that time had become 2 Wood Lane, Headingley, Leeds, and he may have been returning from there (possibly to Blackpool where RAF personnel were concentrated) on 11 September 1940 when he died in a road accident near Morecambe during the blackout. His cremation took place at Leeds (Lawnswood) Crematorium.

Probate granted at Wakefield 5 February 1941 to Hannah Shaw Williams [Mother], Effects £4676:14:6.

Brian Bouchard. © December, 2016.

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