LEST WE FORGET: STORIES OF THE ASHLEY MEN WHO WENT TO WAR
Some years ago to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Ros Gallant and Margaret Richold from the Ashley History Archive Group, researched the history of the men from Ashley who volunteered to fight for their country.
Six men from Ashley died but many more survived the war and we have uncovered some remarkable stories. We begin with the story of three friends Otho Crain, Joseph Wignell and Albert Hammond, see photo, who emigrated to Canada in 1911 and later enlisted in the Canadian Army and returned to fight in Europe.
Otho Crain lived with his grandparents in a cottage in Green Lane.
The Canadian Trio
Otho Crain and his friend, Albert Hammond, both emigrated to Canada in 1911. At the outbreak of war, they enlisted in the Canadian Army and travelled to Europe with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Both Otho and Albert were killed in 1915 in the Second Battle of Ypres. Otho was 29 and Albert was 23 years old.
Albert Hammond was the son of the baker, William Hammond who lived at 14 High Street and the photograph taken in the 1920s and seen below shows his house in the middle of the right hand side of the photo.
Albert is buried in Belgium, but is commemorated on his parents headstone in Ashley churchyard shown here.
DEARLY LOVED SON OF THE ABOVE,
WHO DIED AT STADEN, APRIL 30TH 1915,
FROM WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION
AGED 23 YEARS)
The Wignell Brothers
Joseph, Harry, William and Walter Wignell were four brothers who fought for their country in WW1. All survived. They were the children of Frederick, a railway plate ganger, and his wife Emma. Frederick and Emma lived at 7 Westhorpe, using the old numbering system, with their nine children. Their cottage is the first on the left hand side of the photograph shown here.
(Another view of Westhorpe):
Joseph (Joe) was the only one of the trio who emigrated to Canada from Ashley and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force to survive the war. After the war he returned to Canada and then moved to Australia in 1921.
William Wignell was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, survived the war, returning to live in Weston-by-Welland. Harry Wignell was also a railwayman and also served in the Royal Engineers. The youngest brother, Walter, was only 15 at the outbreak of War. He joined the Norfolk Regiment and saw active service.
The Noon Brothers
George and William Noon were the sons of a railway signalman, Samuel Busby Noon and his wife, Ada. They lived in Station Road, near Ashley Station, photograph below.
William joined the Royal Flying Corps and survived the war, living to the age of 83. George joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry and was wounded 6 times requiring hospital treatment between 1915 and 1917. On one occasion he received a gunshot wound to his left arm which, in later life, made handling the signal equipment difficult. While in hospital in Boulogne, he was examined by a man he knew- Dr Chase from Ashley. More about Dr Chase next month.
Dr Robert Godwin Chase was the son of George Chase, a retired wine merchant, and his wife Elizabeth. Robert grew up in a house called "The Chestnuts", which is now the "Old Rectory" and shown below. He was educated at Kibworth Grammar School and he won a scholarship to Oundle. He trained as a doctor at Guy's Hospital Medical School and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1915. He survived the war and worked as a General Practitioner in Chesterfield and London.
The Payne Brothers
The Payne brothers - Robert, Benjamin and William were born in Poplar, London but lived in the house of their step-grandfather at 15 High Street, Ashley (shown below on the near right hand side of the photo).
Robert was a Regular in the Royal Garrison Artllery. Benjamin and his younger brother William volunteered for the Leicester Regiment. Robert and Benjamin survived the war, but William was killed in the Battle of the Somme. Aged 19 years, William was the youngest Ashley soldier to be killed in the war.
Frederick Neal was the only man from Ashley to join the Northamptonshire Regiment and was one of the 6,040 men from that Regiment to be killed. He was brought up by his uncle, John, a grazier who lived in Westhorpe, Ashley (see picture below, house on left hand side). He lost his life in the Battle of the Somme, on 17th August 1916. He is buried in France, but is remembered on his mother's gravestone in Ashley Churchyard.
Omar Gray joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was killed at the battle of Loos on 13th October 1915. He was born in Ashley and lived with his parents Samuel and Elizabeth, sister Mary Ann and older brother Horace at 3 High Street. (Now re-numbered, 22 Main Street). The house is on the corner of Main Street, opposite the Church. For many years this was known as 'Gray's Corner'.
Thomas Letts Berry
Thomas Letts Berry was the son of Robert Kendall Berry and Mary Berry. He lived at the Manor House (see below), but moved to Nottinghamshire before the ouybreak of war. He was a Corporal in the Sherwood Foresters and died of his wounds after the battle of Neuve Chapelle. He is commerated on the war memorial at North Collingham, Newark-on-Trent.
Herbert Barlow was the village blacksmith. ("The Forge" is shown below). He volunteered in 1915, leaving behind his wife and two small daughters. He joined the Army Service Corps. where he worked as a "skilled shoesmith", shoeing the many horses used for the transport of ammunition and supplies.
Lieutenant-General Sir William Pulteney Pulteney G.C.V.O., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O. was a distinguished WW1 general who served on the Western Front for three and a half years. He also served as Blck Rod to the House of Lords from 1920-1941. He was the sixth son of the Reverend Richard Thomas Pulteney and was brought up in the Rectory (now Ashley Court). For many years the important role that he played on the Western Front, and the contribution he made to the improved treatment and evacuation of men wounded in battle has been overlooked. That will soon change with the publication of a forthcoming biography.
William Pulteney in Peronne, March 1917
Over the past months we have had only space to feature 17 of the 30 men from Ashley whom we have identified as serving in the Armed Forces in WW1. One more will be featured in October. The exhibition on the weekend of 8-9th November will contain much more information about all of the men, along with photographs, medals and other memorabilia. It will tell the stories of the men whom we have not been able to include so far- the auctioneer who was gassed, the veterinary chemist who joined the Reserve Battalion of the Royal Engineers, the schoolboy who joined the RAF, the gardener from Ashley Court and the village carpenter. It will also tell the story of the successful village cricket team of the 1920's, whose members included three of the returned servicemen.
John Thomas Kirby lived in various houses in Ashley. He was born in the Station House and lived for his last years in Carriss House, next to the Village Hall. He worked as a gardener at the Rectory and joined the Labour Corps. He was a church warden for many years and was a pall-bearer at William Pulteney's funeral in Ashley.
The WW1 Exhibition, 8-9th November 2014
Cutting the ribbon to open the Exhibition View of posters
Some of the 200 visitors that went to the Exhibition over the two days.
The Exhibition was very well attended with over 200 visitors from as far afield as Germany and France. Many relatives of the men featured were able to attend and there were some emotional family reunions. The feedback was extremely positive and made all the hard work worthwhile.
Click on name to download Biography (as a pdf document):
The Exhibition featured the six men from Ashley who gave their lives for their country:
The Exhibition also told the stories of the 24 men who served in the armed forces and survived:
The final part of the Exhibition featured Arthur Tugwell . He did not come from Ashley, but lived for many years in Market Harborough. He was featured because he left a remarkable eye-witness's account of the Christmas truce in 1914. He had links to Ashley because his great-granddaughter, Debs, was licensee of the George Inn for several years and his grandson, Tim, is a farmer in Stoke Albany.