Who will I be thinking of as I walk the WW1 Frontline 5th to 9th October 2016?

Following my Framlingham War Memorial World War 1 book launch in November 2011, an article appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times about the launch and I was contacted by a lady in Chelmsford, whose 96 year old mother Ruby was the daughter of Reuben Meadows who was featured in the book.



East Anglian Daily Times newspaper 3rd March 2012

Ruby Meadows was born on 16th September 1916, 12 days before her father was killed during the Battle of the Somme on 28th September 1916, so she never knew him and she was given her Christian name in memory of him.

I always wonder if Reuben had heard that his daughter Ruby had been born before he died?

Reuben was the son of Reuben and Elizabeth Meadows (nee Banthorpe) and had four siblings Ernest , Ellen, Ethel and William. The 1901 census shows the family living at Vyces Road in Framlingham with Reuben aged 16 working as a Gardener’s Assistant. His father’s occupation is shown as Miller’s Carter.

Service Details: Private G/21183 – 7th Battalion The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment

Place of Death: France & Flanders

Place of Burial: No Known Grave

Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial – France


Thiepval Memorial France

Sadly Reuben’s brother Ernest and his brother in law Walter Thompson (married to his sister Ellen Meadows) were also killed, so Ruby’s Grandmother lost three members of her family in World War 1.


I met up with Ruby in February 2012, in Martlesham in Suffolk, to talk about my research and she said that the book had brought back many memories to her of her early life in Framlingham and she had really enjoyed seeing all the old photographs. Following my visit Ruby took a trip back to Framlingham with her daughter to see all the familiar landmarks.


Ruby Meadows talking to me about my book

It was a real honour and a privilege to meet Ruby, who was so closely linked to Reuben, and whom I had come to know during the research for my book and as I walk the 100kms of the World War 1 Frontline through France and Belgium between the 5th to 9th October 2016, I will be remembering Reuben who died on 28th September 1916 and thinking of my visit to his daughter Ruby in 2012.

 We Will Remember Them

My walk will be raising funds for ABF The Soldiers Charity and if anyone would like to make a donation or find out more information about my 2016 challenge the link is www.justgiving.com/simonlast

Many thanks

Simon Last

www.charnwood-genealogy.com           charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com



Posted in BANTHORPE, Battle of the Somme, Dennington, Framlingham, MEADOWS, Suffolk, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Remembering a Somme Soldier 100 years on…

In June I was contacted by Allan Sedger who had seen my Framlingham War Memorial research on the internet – Allan is the great nephew of David Alfred Barker, who was killed, aged 21, on 20th July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

Allan was planning to be in Framlingham on the 20th July to visit the War Memorial to pay his respects, exactly 100 years to the day since his Great Uncle was killed.

Framlingham War Memorial (2)

His Great Uncle David Alfred Barker was the son of Harry and Clara Barker (nee Ashford) and he had ten siblings George, Sheppard, Charlotte, Harry, Freeman, Hannah, Alma, Clara, Herbert and Ella. On the 1901 census the family were living at Edwards Farm in Coles Green and David was aged 5 and his father’s occupation was shown as a Farm Steward. In 1911 the family were still living at Edwards Farm and David was aged 15 working as a Stockboy on a Farm and his father’s  occupation was Steward on Farm.

David was Private 200758 of the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment and he enlisted in Framlingham and left for France on 13th January 1915. He died on 20th July 1916 and has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. As you will see from the newspaper extract below it took over a year for the family to receive official confirmation that David had been killed in     action the previous year.

 Framlingham Weekly News – 25th August 1917

 Mr and Mrs Barker of Coles Green have now been notified that their son, Bomber David Barker, who was reported as missing on July 20th last year, is now officially reported to have met his death on that date.

I was in Framlingham on Wednesday 20th July 2016 and it was a real privilege for me to be able to meet Allan, who is descended from David’s sister Clara, and to spend time with him on such a poignant anniversary.

 Allen Sedger 20 July 2016

 Simon Last

charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com     www.charnwood-genealogy.com

Posted in BARKER, Battle of the Somme, Framlingham, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Another WW1 postcard reunited – Miss K Overton

One of my most recent finds has been a World War 1 postcard sent from France on 26th August 1915 as below:

Miss K OVERTON postcard August 1915 front

Miss K OVERTON postcard August 1915 reverse

It was sent to a Miss K OVERTON who lived at 105 Tooley Street, London Bridge in London and the message reads:

Dear K

No need to ask how you enjoyed the holidays I NO. Mr Geo W.. has now left the works near you, should have liked to have seen the meeting between Mum and him and to have been a little bird and heard!

Love Ernest

It would be great to know more about what this cryptic message meant and who Mr Geo W was!

Miss K OVERTON postcard August 1915 reverse 1

I have found the OVERTON family on the 1911 census living at 105 Tooley Street in London and the head of the household was Charles York OVERTON aged 57 with his wife Emily Florence aged 53 and children Helen Lucy aged 25, Elsie Kate aged 16, Wilfred Durrant aged 10 – could the Elsie Kate be our Miss K OVERTON?

Elsie’s occupation is shown as a Commercial Clerk and her father was a Tailor who  was born in Kenilworth in Warwickshire and her mother was born in Cambridge.

1911 census OVERTON familySource: Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census -Source Citation: Class: RG14; Piece: 1857

I have found a marriage for Elsie Kate OVERTON on the 23rd April 1916 to a William Leslie WARNER at St Saviour in Southwark – on the marriage record both Elsie’s and William’s occupations are shown as Insurance Clerks.

OVERTON MarriageSource Citation: London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Saviour, Southwark, Register of marriages, P92/SAV, Item 3068

Trying to see if I could discover who Ernest was I have gone back to both the 1901 and 1891 census records and although I can find other siblings there is no Ernest.

1901 census OVERTON familySource: Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census – Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 386; Folio: 6; Page: 4

However on the 1891 census record there is an Ernest H OVERTON aged 20 whose relationship to heard of house Charles York OVERTON is shown as Brother-in-law – could this possibly be our Ernest who sent the postcard from France in 1915?

1891 census OVERTON familySource: Ancestry.com. 1891 England Census – Source Citation: Class: RG12; Piece: 370; Folio: 34; Page: 27; GSU roll: 6095480

I now need to do some more investigating to see if this Ernest was the one who sent the postcard in 1915 or if he possibly had a son called Ernest who fought in WW1.

I have found the death of an Ernest Henry OVERTON on the 3rd December 1917 aged 21 (so obviously not the Ernest from the 1891 census) – he was Private 265902 in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which fits with where Elsie’s father Charles was born and although I have also found a WW1 Medal Card for him, more investigations are needed to confirm a family link.

Ernest H OVERTON WW1Source Information: Ancestry.com. British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920

I have also found Elsie Kate OVERTON and her family in several online family trees and have sent messages attaching the postcard images and I have already received two replies, including one from Chris in California, who is thrilled to see the postcard and message and who is going to investigate his family tree further.

I will keep you updated on progress in due course!

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com       charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com



Posted in OVERTON, Postcard, World War 1, WW1 postcard | Leave a comment

Remembering Herbert Philip BONNEY – 1st July 1916

With the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme this July we know that thousands of men lost their lives during this horrific battle on the Western Front – many Framlingham families were affected, including the Bonney family whose son Herbert, aged 25, was killed in action on 1st July 1916 the first day of the British Offensive.

Framlingham War Memorial (2)              DSCN0391

Lance Sergeant Herbert Philip Bonney 9765 of the 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment was the son of Arthur and Ellen Bonney (nee Last) who for many years ran Bonney’s Bakery in Wells Close Square in Framlingham.

Herbert had eleven siblings Ellen, Florence, Ernest, Stanley, Arthur, Mabel, Elsie, Frederick, Thomas, Reginald and Sidney and the 1901 census records the family living at the bakery at Fern Bank in Albert Place Framlingham with Herbert aged 10BONNEY Family photoReport from Framlingham Weekly News – 29th July 1916:

We also record this week with much regret the death of Lce-Sergt. H. P. Bonney, which took place on July 1st – the first day of the British offensive, in which his Regiment was engaged. Bertie (as his birthplace best knew him) was in the Regular forces when war began and accompanied one of the first drafts of the Expeditionary Force to France. He had consequently seen considerable fighting and experienced many hairbreadth escapes and it was hoped that the good luck with which he seemed to have been endowed would accompany him to the end. But relentless fate decreed otherwise. On behalf of our readers we beg to express sincere sympathy with the parents and relatives of the above mentioned.

Herbert was a regular bell ringer at Framlingham and is commemorated on the Roll of Honour of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, which is held at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Ringing World newspaper of 4th September 1914 records that he was already serving with 2nd Essex, and that his two brothers Lance-Corporal Ernest Bonney and Private Reginald Bonney were both serving with the 4th Suffolk’s.

One year later the family placed the following notice:

 Framlingham Weekly News - Saturday 30th June 1917

Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 30th June 1917

Herbert is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial in France and the Framlingham War Memorial.

Framlingham War Memorial


Simon Last

www.charnwood-genealogy.com        charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com

Posted in Battle of the Somme, BONNEY, Framlingham, Suffolk, World War 1 | 2 Comments

£5000 for an Estimate – Great Skill Competition!

Whilst researching the Framlingham Weekly News newspapers for any articles relating to the Red Cross Hospital in Easton, I found this interesting British Red Cross national fundraising notice from Saturday 11th November 1916.

Framlingham Weekly News - Saturday 11th November 1916

Framlingham Weekly NewsSaturday 11th November 1916

 The British Red Cross were looking to raise funds by asking the public to pay One Shilling and take part in a ‘Great Skills Competition’ to estimate the total number of Marriages and Births that would be registered as occurring in England and Wales during the year 1916 – the prizes would be awarded to those Competitors who sent in on ‘One Form’ estimates nearest to the Official Figures.

Previous year’s figures were given as guidance:

                                              Marriages:                                      Births:

1913   286,583                                  1913   881,890

1914   294,087                                  1914   878,822

1915   360,026                                  1915   814,527

I found it very interesting to note how the number of marriages had increased by 65,939 in 1915 and this was obviously due to the fact of so many young marrying before they went off to fight in World War 1 – however Births in 1915 had decreased by 64,295.

I wonder how these figures changed during 1916?

My challenge now is to see if I can find any information about who won the £5000 and how close they were to the official figures – I will keep you updated!

Simon Last

charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com     www.charnwood-genealogy.com


Posted in Births, Marriages & Deaths, British Red Cross, Lord Kitchener, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Images of the Cenotaph in London

Recently whilst sorting my own collection of old WW1 related postcards I was surprised to find how many different photographs / pictures of the Cenotaph in London I have collected over the last couple of years – as the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is fast approaching on 1st July this year I though I would share some of these images with you:


The Cenotaph postcard 14 6 16


Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 12th November 1919

Sheffield IndependentWednesday 12th November 1919





They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Extract from the Poem: The Fallen


Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com                           charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com

Posted in Cenotaph, London, Postcard, World War 1, WW1 postcard | Leave a comment

WW1 postcard sent from Mons in Belgium 18th November 1918

Always on the lookout for WW1 postcards or old photographs with a possible written name or clue to investigate, I recently purchased an old WW1 postcard on eBay from ‘Old Postcards’ one of my favourite online sellers.

The postcard shows a view of Mons in Belgium and was posted on 18th November 1918 to a Mrs W A BLACK at 13 Radnor Road, Canton, Cardiff, South Wales – the message reads:

Dear Father & Mother

I have got leave from 21st November. Hope to see you soon

Best wishes

From Norman

Mons postcard front 14 6 16

Mons postcard reverse 14 6 16

Could I find Mrs W A BLACK and discover more about her family?

Using the address of 13 Radnor Road, Canton and looking at the 1911 census, I quickly found a record matching this address for a William Andrew BLACK, his wife Rebecca and sons William Norman and Oswald Victor.

William Norman BLACK 1911 census

Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1911 Wales Census –Source Citation; Class: RG14; Piece: 32146; Schedule Number: 308

From this I surmised that as father was William his son, also a William, was more commonly known as Norman, as per the postcard.

William Andrew BLACK was aged 48 in 1911 having been born in Hartlepool and he had married Rebecca HARRIS in the October quarter of 1889 in Hartlepool – their first son William Norman was born on the 24th November 1892 in the Cardiff Registration District and their second son was born in the October quarter of 1900 also in the Cardiff Registration District.

In 1911 Father William was working as a Boiler Compartion Agent and son William ‘Norman’, aged 18, was working as an Oil Manufacturers Clerk – Oswald was aged 10 and at School.

I now wanted to see if I could find anything about Norman’s military service, but so far I have been unable to pinpoint an exact military record for him – however I have found that he died aged 79 in the March quarter of 1971 in the Cardiff Registration District.

Sadly I also found that his brother Oswald Victor BLACK had died aged just 28 in the June quarter of 1929 and below is his Probate record, naming his mother Rebecca and father William Andrew BLACK.

Oswald Victor BLACK Probate 1929

Source Information: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966

I  have also found two online family trees showing the name of William Norman BLACK and I have sent then both a  message to find out more about their connections and to see if they would like a copy of the postcard – I will keep you updated!

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com         charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com




Posted in 13 Radnor Road, BLACK, Canton Cardiff, Mons, World War 1, WW1 Photograph, WW1 postcard | Leave a comment