MORE THAN JUST A NAME – Remembering the Fallen of Easton Royal
Records of Easton Royal casualties of the Great War.
These records were recently painstakingly researched by Easton Royal Heritage Group member Mrs Karen Nimmo-Scott. We have no contact with the families of the following five men whose names are engraved on the Easton Royal WW1 memorial plaque in Holy Trinity Church. If you could help us with any more information we should be delighted to hear from you.
Ernest Richard Waite
Ernest was born in Easton Royal on 23rd September 1883, the ninth child of David and Elizabeth Waite of 68 Easton Royal now part of Waverley Cottage. His father was an agricultural labourer and his mother a laundress.
On February 1887 when he was only three and a half, Ernest was admitted to Easton Royal School. The records of his time there show in the School Log that on 5th November 1890 he and his older brother Herbert, along with Walter and Albert Yeates were punished for truanting. On 22nd January 1892 when he was still only eight it was recorded that ‘Ernest Waite cannot keep up with the rest of the children in Standard 1. He is a very dull boy’. Ernest left school in early July 1896 aged twelve and become a plough boy.
By 1911 Ernest was a single man living in Swindon and working as a chairmaker in the Iron Foundry of the Great Western Railway Locomotive Department. He was living as a boarder at 16 Drew Street, Swindon at the home of his sister Ellen Kate and her husband Frank Bryant who was born in Wootton Rivers and was working as a fitter’s labourer in the GWR Locomotive Department. Ellen and Frank had two sons, Leslie Francis and Ivor Denison.
16 Drew Street is a terraced house in a row of back to back homes with an alley way between the rows. The street was named after William Drew who designed the houses built in 1907 and was at that time the most westerly street in Swindon.
Ernest may have joined the Army before the War but he landed at St Nazaire in France and joined his unit 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment on 14th October 1914. He was killed in action thirteen days later near Neuve-Chapelle just south of Armentieres aged 31 and was one of 350 casualties of the battle. His name is engraved on Panel 34 of the Le Touret Memorial which commemorates over 13,400 British soldiers killed in that sector of the Western Front between October 1914 and September 1915 and have no known graves.
William Robert Waite
William was born in Easton Royal on 10th September 1889, the second child and eldest son of Robert and Harriet Waite who went on to have another nine children. Robert worked as an agricultural labourer and in 1893 Harriet was employed by the village school as a cleaner. They lived at 26 The Street – one of a row of thatched cottages which in 1911 had two rooms upstairs and two downstairs.
The School Log records that William was admitted aged three to the school on 3rd October 1892 along with two other infants, William Tucker and Albert Hillier. Only a few weeks later he and five other children were recorded as being away with measles. On 1st August 1902 William left school aged twelve to work on a farm. By 1911 aged 21 he was still living with his parents and working as a cowman on one of the farms in the village.
William enlisted in the army in Devizes in December 1914 and by 18th May 1915 he was in France with the 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment in the Rue de L’Epinette Trenches. The Regimental diary for that day records ‘All day long the whole area occupied by the Battalion was heavily shelled with all varieties of high explosives and shrapnel in bursts of approximately one to two an hour with a heavy shell about every 8 or 9 seconds’. Initially William was reported killed in action on the 18th but he actually died from his wounds on the following day. He was 25 years old and is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery within the town cemetery in Bethune.
Before his death William was able to make a handwritten will in which he left ‘the whole I possess to my father Robert Waite’. Robert died in 1950 aged 84 and his mother Harriet in 1982 aged 95 and they are both buried in Easton Royal Cemetery.
John Waite was born in Easton Royal on 29th November 1894 but his birth was not registered until 8th January 1895.
John was the second child and eldest son of Edward and Kate Waite and one of ten children, nine of whom were still alive in 1911. They lived at 21 Easton Royal which had one room downstairs and two rooms upstairs. Edward worked as a carter on a farm.
The School Admissions Register records that John joined the school on 4th January 1898 when he was a little over three years old. There is no mention of him in the School log and no record of when he left. However according to the census of 1911 John aged 16 was working as a milker on a farm.
John enlisted in the Wiltshire Regiment at Devizes on 31st August 1914 and by April 15th 1915 he was in France with the 1st Battalion. In September of that year he is recorded as having several medical problems. On the 12th he was taken to a field ambulance unit suffering from a septic leg. Three days later he was admitted to hospital with cellutis in his left leg and on the 26th he was sent back to England with impetigo.
Some time later after recuperating, he joined the 5th Battalion and was sent to Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) where he died on 28th July 1918 aged 23. He is buried in the Bagdad (North Gate) War Cemetery along with over 4000 other Commonwealth casualties.
Bertie’s name is recorded as Albert Bertie on his birth certificate and was born in Enford on 4th January 1895. His parents were Andrew Goodship and his third wife Fanny.
Andrew was quite a character. He was born in 1839 in Calstone near Calne, was married five times and outlived all his wives finally dying aged 88 in 1927. He had six children with his first wife Ann and after her death at the age of 33 in 1878 he married Mary Sainsbury a widow who also had six children. Mary died in 1893 aged 57. Shortly after Mary’s death Andrew married another widow Fanny Hurkett the mother of four children. Fanny died aged 49 in 1902 when Bertie was only six years old. Andrew’s fourth wife and Bertie’s stepmother was Hannah whom he married in 1905, she was eight years older than Andrew and died in 1913 aged 85. In January 1914 he married a fourth widow Ann Middleton. As a result of his father’s five marriages Bertie had a large extended family consisting of ten half brothers and sisters and six step siblings.
After attending Enford School for some time Bertie moved with his parents and half sister Louisa from Enford to Easton Royal and on 15th October 1900 he was admitted to Easton Royal School aged five. In 1901 the family was living at 22 Easton Royal and Andrew was working as a portable engine driver on a farm. On 18th October that year the School Log notes that ‘one boy Bertie Goodship has been continually absent with an accident to his hand since the Harvest holidays’ – which had ended on 16th September. The following week it was noted that he had attended school but ‘his hand is not perfectly healed’.
After the death of his mother in 1902 Bertie’s life became more unsettled. An entry in the School log for 4th January 1904 says ‘Bertie Goodship has left the school having gone to live at Manton’. The Manton School records show he was admitted there on the same day and was under the guardianship of John Pennels at Clatford. Just over a year later he was back at Easton School but must have left again for some reason as he recorded as being readmitted on 15th October 1906.
By 1911 Bertie was a farm labourer living at 52 Easton Royal a one bedroom cottage with his father Andrew who was by then an old age pensioner and his fourth wife Hannah.
Although the plaque in Easton Royal church shows Bertie to be in the Wiltshire Regiment, he was in fact in the Royal Berkshire Regiment having enlisted at Hungerford. By the middle of June 1916 the regiment was in France in the trenches at Hebuterne about 12km south west of Arras. The regimental diary records that on 9th June ‘the enemy machine guns hardly stopped firing all night’ and there were two casualties one of whom was Albert Bertie who died of his wounds the next day aged 21. He is buried at the Couin British Cemetery.
Bertie is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in North Newnton Church.
Joseph was born in Hinton Parva, Wiltshire on 7th April 1883 to David and Ana Maria Sheppard, the fourth of their eight children. He attended Little Hinton National School but there is no record of when he was admitted. The only reference to him in the School log is an entry for 30th October 1893 which states that ‘the following children have left the village and their names have been taken off the register – Joseph, David and Elizabeth Sheppard.’ Little Hinton School closed in 1927 which there were only 17 pupils remaining and in 1976 the school building was converted for use as a village hall.
Joseph followed in his father’s footsteps and became a shepherd. By 1901 when he was 17 he was working on Elm Tree Farm Ashbury just over the border in Berkshire. He was living as a lodger with the farm baliff George Hall and his wife. His elder brother John was employed on the same farm also as a shepherd.
By 1911 Joseph had already joined the Army, possibly in 1905 and it appears that he had served in South Africa before the outbreak in 1914 of the war in Europe.
On 22nd August 1914 he arrived at Le Havre and joined the 1st Battalion Wiltshire Regiment on 5th September. What happened to him next is not clear because he is listed as having died of peritonitis on 18th September 1914 aged 31 at a field ambulance station. However rather than having a grave he is commemorated on a memorial which usually only occurs when a soldier’s body has not been recovered. Nevertheless his name appears on the monument at La Ferte sous Jouarre on the north bank of the river Marne.
Joseph probably lived only briefly if at all in Easton Royal. In 1911 his parents and four of his siblings were living in Upper Lambourn. However by 1915 his father’s name appears on the Electoral Roll for Easton with his address given as 4 Easton Royal so it may be that Joseph visited his parents while on leave from the Army.
Curiously Joseph has the distinction of being commemorated on two village war memorials – the other being in East Grafton.