John Leonard Beavon

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Wolverhampton Hero: Young Hussar Mentioned in Despatches

Wolverhampton Hero: Young Hussar Mentioned in Despatches

John Leonard Beavon was born in 1889 and lived at 35 Merridale Street West. Beavon enlisted in the 20th Hussars in 1907 (number 1806). At the outbreak of the war, John Beavon was a Sergeant and serving with his regiment at Colchester. The 20th Hussars embarked for service with 5th (Independent) Cavalry Brigade on 17 August 1914. During the early states of the fighting, Sergeant Beavon was Mentioned in Despatches, news of which was reported as follows in the Express & Star on 20 Oct 1914:

It was very pleasant reading to many Wolverhampton residents on Monday to find the name of Sergeant John Leonard Beavon, of the 20th Hussars, in the list in the despatches issued by Sir John French for conspicious bravery in the battlefield in France.

Sergeant Beavon is the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Beavon, of 35 Merridale Street West, and he has been in the Army seven years. The young hussar was barely 18 when he enlisted, and it speaks well for the grit and ability of Beavon that after four years’ service he rose to the rank of sergeant. It is a further compliment to his intelligence and pluck that he should have earned so brilliant a distinction as to be mentioned in despatches when only 25 years of age.

The above photograph was taken when the popular young sergeant was 19 years of age. An excellent photo of Beavon at 24 years of age adorns one of the walls of the dining room at his home.

The proud father and mother informed an Express and Star representative this (Tuesday) morning that they had eight sons, two of whom (including Leonard) are at the front, and one is an ex-soldier who has seen foreign service. Their one hope, naturally, is that their two boys in the fighting line will survive the shot and shell to enjoy the distinction they have earned.

The other son in France, they explained, is a member of the R.A.M.C. and is 32 years of age. He served for four years, and then joined the Reserve, being called up in August.

John Beavon was later commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, being posted to the 26th Battalion. Unfortunately he was killed leading his platoon on 1 July 1916 during the fighting near La Boisselle. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. John Beavon is also named on the roll of honour inside St Chad and St Mark Church at Penn Fields, as well as on the St. Paul’s Church War Memorial.

Enoch Goucher

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Enoch Goucher was born in 1891, the son of Daniel Goucher. I have been unable to find him in the 1901 census at all, although Daniel Goucher appears at 43 Bilston Road, but by 1911 Enoch is living in Lichfield. He does not appear to have got married.

Enoch enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment (number 8934). He was killed on 7 November 1914, aged just 23, and he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial.

Eunice Cicely Boys Adams

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The British Red Cross has recently launched a new website providing access to the First World War service records of members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, including ambulance drivers, nurses, stretcher bearers, etc. The first tranche of 30,000 records (surnames A and B) is now available (www.redcross.org.uk/ww1), and I did a search to see if I could find people from Wolverhampton.

The first person who came up (alphabetically) was Eunice Cicely Boys Adams. Information on her record included the following:

  • Her address was Pendeford Hall, Wolverhampton
  • She had served from January 1916 until November 1918
  • She worked as a V.A.D. nurse in Christ Church Hospital, Beckenham
  • She was deceased.

Using the information, I was able to do a bit more research. Eunice was born in Wolverhampton in 1895, the daughter of Charles Lemesh Adams and Margaret Maria S. Boys. I have not been able to find her on the 1901 census, but we have a file of papers relating to a C. L. Adams selling the fixtures of Pendeford Hall in 1903 to an L.B. Moreton, so presumably this is Eunice’s father.

Unfortunately Eunice died in 1919, aged just 24. We do not appear to have any further details about the circumstances surrounding her untimely death. If anybody is able to find out more, please get in touch.

William James Doley

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On 20 June 1917, the name of W. Doley (number 240987) of the South Staffordshire Regiment, was included among a list of the wounded in the Express & Star. He does not appear among the casualties listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, so he appears to have recovered from his wounds.

William James Doley was born in Wolverhampton in 1896, although I have not been able to find any more details about him and his family from the 1901 census. After serving his country during the First World War, he married Lucy Perks in 1923, and they went on to have three children – Ivy, Olive and William – between 1924 and 1932. He died aged 49 in 1945.

Charles Wood

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Another appeal in the Express & Star in February 1916 for information on a missing soldier came from the parents of Private Charles Wood (number 10305), D Company, 7th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. He had been missing at the Dardanelles since 9 August 1915.

Charles Henry Wood was born in 1890, the son of George and Mary Wood (nee Leonard). In the 1901 census, the family appear at 39 Great Brickkiln Street, and Charles and his parents are joined by his brothers George and William and sisters Kate and Lily.

Charles was killed on 9 August 1915, aged 25, and he is commemorated on the Helles memorial in Turkey.

James Jones

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According to an appeal sent to the Express & Star in February 1916, Private J. Jones (number 25848) of the 1st Royal Montreal Regiment, 14th Battalion, had been reported wounded and missing on 24 April 1915 at Hill 60. Mrs Jones of 23 Bagnall Street in Springfields was seeking information about him.

James Jones was born in Wolverhampton in 1896, the son of William and Eliza Jones. According to the 1901 census, the family were living at 57 Cannock Road, and James and his parents were joined by his two sisters, Kate and Polly. At some point, James presumably emigrated to Canada, hence him joining the Canadian Infantry.

Unfortunately the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site confirms that Jones died shortly after he was wounded, on 27 April 1915. He is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.

T. Simmons

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Express & Star, 15 Feb 1916

Express & Star, 15 Feb 1916

Thomas Edward Simmons was born in Cannock in 1890, the son of James and Emily Simmons. By the 1901 census, the family were living at 15 Vicarage Road, Wolverhampton, and Thomas and his parents were joined by his brothers James and William, sister Emily, and grandparents William and Mary Simmons.

Thomas joined the 3rd North Midland Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner, and he clearly gave a good acount of himself. An article appeared in the Express & Star on 15 February 1916, which stated that he had been “mentioned for distinguished conduct at the front. His Major-General wrote as follows:

Your commanding officer and brigade commander have informed me that you have distinguished yourself by conspicuous bravery in the field. I have received their report with pleasure, and am bringing you under the notice of the superior authority.

By this date, his address was given as 13 Charles Street, and the article proudly stated that Thomas’s father also had two other sons serving with the colours (his mother had died in 1914.)

Harry Austin White

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Harry Austin White was born in Bury, in Lancashire, in 1883, the son of David and Mary White (nee Birch). By 1901, the family were living in Wolverhampton, and Harry appears at 141 Park Street together with his parents, brother James and sister Lizzie. He married Ethel Marian Haynes in 1906, they had a daughter (Florence Jessie) in 1909, and had moved to London by 1911, when they were at 4 Sidney Road, West Ham. According to the 1911 census, he was a mineral water maker, and he later became a Director of Midland Counties Dairy Co. Ltd in Wolverhampton.

Mayor Harry Austin White (centre) at the visit of King George VI c.1939.

Mayor Harry Austin White (centre) at the visit of King George VI c.1939.

During the First World War he joined the Flying Corps as a motor driver, stationed in Mesopotamia. By 1932, he was elected to Wolverhampton Council as a Conservative, becoming Mayor in 1939. He lost his seat in 1945. He died in 1947

J. Newton Williams

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J. Newton Williams

J. Newton Williams

There is a sad story detailed in the Newhampton Road Wesleyan Church Roll of Honour about a Corporal J. Newton Williams of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (number 266790), as follows:

While training in Southern Ireland he was in involved in an accident which broke his leg. After a long spell of hospital treatment involving six operations he died in Blackrock Hospital 19/04/1919

The only corroboration of this information is his entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, which includes the fact that he is buried at Beaumaris Cemetery on Anglesey.

Without a first name, I have not been able to find out any further information on this man, including finding his birth records or being able to find him on census returns. I have also not been able to find a medal card for him at the National Archives under his service number, although he might possibly be this man, Newton Williams. If anybody can supply any further information on this man, please get in touch!

Raymond Bishop

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Raymond Bishop was born in Quinton, Gloucestershire, in 1895, the son of George and Jane Bishop (nee Neale). By 1901, the family had moved to Wolverhampton and were living at 5 Manlove Street. In 1911, they were at 36 Burleigh Road, by which stage Raymond had become an assistant to a milk Dealer.

Raymond signed up with the 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (number 25046) in 1915. He was killed on 27 August 1917, aged just 22. He is featured on the panel of Beckminster Methodist Church in Penn Fields, and the Wolverhampton War Memorials site has the following further information about his death:

On the previous day Raymond’s Company, who were taking part in a precursor to the notorious Battle of Passchendaele, were near the village of St Julien and had moved into outposts in front of their trenches in readiness to attack a German strongpoint known as Springfield Farm, a strategic point on the St Julien – Zonnebeke Road which had already changed hands five times in the previous 48 hours. An idea of the prevailing conditions can be gained from a letter that one of the officers wrote to his mother; “…… The ground was a mass of shell holes and the mud was real bad. To give you one instance of what the mud is really like, one of our pack ponies got stuck and then gradually sank lower and lower until he disappeared. But just before his head went under, the transport officer shot him with a revolver.”
Heavy rain during the night made the ground even more difficult and when they eventually attacked, after having spent several hours in waterlogged shell-holes, they found the ground almost impassable and their attack floundered in the mud. 30 of Raymond’s comrades died with him that day.

He is also listed on the memorial of St Chad and St Mark’s Church, as well as on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

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