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Brothers in Arms: The Moores and Walpoles of Geddington

By Alan D Craxford, Patricia Moore and Melvyn Hopkins

Introduction

The people described in this article lie at the periphery of the main tree of our website but the circumstances and events which unfold were unfortunately tragically commonplace for the era. The histories of six or seven families intermingled over two or three hundred years in the villages of Cottingham and Gretton which lie in the Rockingham Forest in Northamptonshire. We share common ancestors through William Tansley, the patriarch of our story.

A village (and a family) at war

Queen Street

Queen Street, Geddington

In common with most other villages in late Victorian and Edwardian England, Geddington, which stands on the road between Corby and Kettering in rural Northamptonshire, was a tightly knit and often inter-married community. By the time of the census of 1911 the population numbered 1009. At the onset of World War I, history was to show that there was a general feeling of patriotism amongst the residents and an enthusiasm to fight for King and Country; a response which was to affect every family in the village. Casualties were heavy. Of the 107 men who joined up, 43 died and nearly half of the rest were wounded. This article looks at one such family group.

The Moore Family

The family of Samuel and Frances Moore

At the start of the decade, Samuel Moore, a gardener, lived with his wife and three youngest sons in a house in Grafton Road. Thomas Jackson Moore, then 16, worked in an office as clerk to a leather merchant while Frank Roy Moore (13) worked in a shoe factory. Eleven year old Cyril Samuel Moore was still at school. Oldest son William Victor Moore had left home and was living in and working for Abbotts Bakery in Church Hill. Around the corner in Wood Street lived Henry Walpole with his wife, Mary Ann, and four sons, Francis William (21), Samuel Jackson (17), Charles (15) and Harold Edgar (11). Second son John (19) was working as a domestic servant at The Hall, Pitsford, a village on the outskirts of Northampton whilst twenty three year old daughter Amy Clara Walpole, a school teacher, was living four doors away with her widower grandfather William Moore.

Our available records suggest that Samuel Moore enlisted into the 4th Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment in December 1914 with the rank of Lance Corporal and was then transferred to the Royal Defence Corps (the World War I equivalent of the Home Guard) upon its inception in August 1917. Of the Moore siblings, Thomas Jackson was the first into uniform with the 15th County of London Battalion, the Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles (a Territorial formation). He later transferred to the Kings Royal Rifles and saw action on the Western Front. Frank enlisted in March 1915 into the 8th Northamptonshire Battalion and subsequently transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. Soon after, oldest brother William Victor enlisted as a Private with the Royal Army Service Corps in April 1915 and then saw action with the 2nd Royal Enniskillen Fusiliers. Last to enlist (in February 1918) was Cyril Samuel who became a private (44510) in the 15th Kings Royal Hussars.

Francis Walpole was one of the first to answer the call and enlisted as Private (3126) with the 4th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment in September 1914. His stay was shortlived as he was discharged again unfit for further medical service in October the same year. Charles joined the 1st Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment in November 1914. John enlisted with the 4th Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment in December 1915. Samuel Jackson Walpole joined the Machine Gun Corps in January 1917.

Geddington village

Geddington Village today. L to R: Church Hill; the corner of Grafton Road and Wood Street; Wood Street cottages (2)

A family history

It is now time to put these two families into context and expose their remarkable closeness. We must go back in time and start with the Tansley family which has lived in Cottingham, a village about eight miles to the north of Geddington on the border of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, for at least 350 years. In common with his ancestors and many of his descendents, William Tansley, who was born in 1805 spent his working life as an agricultural labourer. He married local girl, Amy Jackson (who later became the village midwife), at the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, Cottingham in May 1836 and made their home in the High Street. They had, to our knowledge, five children but the focus of our story is their twins, Thomas and Amy, who were born in January 1839.

By all accounts the children were close in childhood and remained in contact, although separated from one another, through their adult life. Amy married William Moore, a labourer, in November 1858 and moved with him the eight miles to his home village of Geddington. She bore him a son, the Samuel mentioned above (in 1864), and four daughters - the first born (in 1860) named Mary Ann. Thomas Tansley was also a labourer. He moved to the Aston district of Birmingham where he married Mary Ann Lattimore in 1861. We can assume that he had known her prior to his move away from Northamptonshire as the Lattimore family were well-known in the village of Corby where one of Mary Ann's cousins had married another of Thomas' Tansley cousins. Thomas and Mary Ann had three sons and three daughters: the oldest, Frances Amy being born in 1862.

Frances Amy Tansley had a daughter, Laura, 1885. Six years later, Frances married William and Amy Moore's son, Samuel, now a gardener, in the West Midlands and then moved back to Geddington to make their home. Between 1893 and 1900 they had four sons: the Moore brothers listed above. Samuel's sister, Mary Ann Moore, married Henry Francis Walpole, a bricklayer's labourer, in 1887. They also lived in Geddington, having one daughter and five sons: the Walpole brothers listed above.

News from all fronts

Military Medal

Military Medal (4)

Charles Walpole

Charles Walpole

Private John Walpole fought in France and was awarded the Military Medal for bringing in wounded under heavy shell and rifle fire on May 3rd and 4th 1917 at the battle of Arras. The announcement was made in the London Gazette. (3) He sustained wounds himself later that month. The presentation of the medal took place at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in September 1917. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of Corporal and was discharged in April 1919.

Charles Walpole served with the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment in France achieving the rank of Lance Corporal by 1917. He was wounded in action twice in 1918: the first time in July, and again in September (this time in the shoulder and leg) shortly after returning to the front from leave. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and was discharged to the Class Z Army reserve in March 1919. He was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry the same year. (4)

Silver War Badge

Silver War Badge

Samuel Walpole (90034) was promoted to the rank of Corporal with the Machine Gun Corps. He was wounded in action and invalided out of the service under Kings Regulations section XVIa, receiving his Silver War Badge on April 22nd 1919.

In April 1918 Samuel Moore received news that his son Frank (13346) was reported missing in action on the western front. This was followed up three months later with the information that he had been captured and was being held as a prisoner of war in Limberg, Germany.

War Memorial and inscription

The War Memorial (left) and the inscription in the porch at St Mary Magdalene Church, Geddington

The fallen of the village are commemorated in memorials in the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene. The Memorial Cross which was erected in the churchyard was dedicated at a service on July 29th 1921. At the same time a tablet inscribed in memory of former choristers of the church (including Harold Walpole) was unveiled on the north wall of the chancel. Secondly a stained glass window bearing the image of St Paul was dedicated in the south wall of the church. This had been erected by Harold's sister Amy in memory of her fiance Harry Patrick. The memorial panel bearing the names of the fallen is set in the west wall of the porch opposite the Cross.

Frank Moore was one of the last villagers to die as a direct result of the War. He had served a full four years in the Army and had spent twelve months as a prisoner of war before his repatriation. During his incarceration he had contracted tuberculosis from which he never recovered even after his return home. In his weakened state, he caught typhoid fever in 1924 and died in hospital on May 31st. He was buried in the village on June 6th 1924.

The choir memorial and St Paul window

The Choir memorial and the St Paul window, St Mary Magdalene Church

Continued in column 2...



Page added: April 18th 2010
Last updated: August 20th 2012


The Royal Naval Reserve

Harold Walpole

Harold Walpole

RND recruitment poster

Recruitment poster (8)

The last section of this article is an account of the service and death of Harold, the youngest of the Walpole boys. Born in 1899, he was employed as a hand at the Kettering Co-Operative Clothing Factory at the outbreak of war. He was a member of the church choir and a bell ringer. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Division in September 1917 and was assigned to the Anson Battalion. He saw action in northern France and Belgium.

The Royal Naval Division (RND) (6,7) was formed in August 1914 at the behest of Winston Churchill from naval reserve forces (between 20-80,000 men) when warships of the fleet were fully crewed. The tradition of naval personnel serving on land had been long established and the RND was retained under Admiralty control even though they were fighting on land alongside the army. Battalions were named after famous naval people such as Collingwood, Hawke, Hood, Anson, Nelson. The RND were sent into many theatres of operation throughout the war including Antwerp (1914), Gallipoli (1915) and Passchendale (1917) and continued fighting right up until the end of the hostilities in Northern France and Flanders including the area around Mons. The RND sustained great losses overall (582 Officers killed, 1,364 wounded; 10,797 other ranks killed 29,528) which was probably three times the original number of men recruited.

The RND retained the great naval traditions, even while on land. They flew the White Ensign, used bells to signal time, used naval language (including "going ashore" and "coming on board"), continued to use naval ranks rather than army equivalents and sat during the toast for the King's health. The Division was disbanded in 1919 after an inspection and address by the Prince of Wales.


A death on the last day of the war

There is a certain savage symmetry about the town of Mons. In 1914, this Belgian town was a centre for mining and industry. It is where the British Expeditionary Force had been placed immediately after the declaration of war on August 4th and it is where the first battle between the British and German Armies occurred on August 23rd. The outcome was the withdrawal of the British forces leaving Mons under German occupation for the next four years.

Mons was to become the last battleground of the war in November 1918. With the Allied forces pressing eastwards all along the Western Front and dispite German efforts to sue for a cease-fire, attacks continued. The Armistice was ultimately signed in the early hours of the morning of November 11th but did not come into effect until 11am. The fighting continued right up to the end and it has been estimated that over 11,000 soliders on all sides were killed, wounded or missing on the final day of the war. (10)

Harold Walpole was deployed with his company to the south of Mons. The following is an extract from the Summary of Operations 10th and 11th November 1918 for the Anson Battalion. It is signed by Lieutenant Commander W Arblaster RNVR, Temporary Commanding the Battalion:

"Orders were received at 08:30 on 10 November 1918 that the Anson Battalion would attack the enemy positions that morning. The Battalion was to form up ready to advance as soon as possible. It was arranged with O.C. Royal Irish Regiment and 188th M.G.s that the attack should commence at 12:30.
First objective - main MONS - GIVRY ROAD
Second Objective - the village of VILLERS ST CHISLAIN and to establish posts on farther side
The First London Regiment were on right and the Royal Irish Regiment were on left. The Royal Marines in support. The Battalion had 4 mobile sections of Artillery attached - A Coy 63 (R.N.) M.G. [Machine Gun] Battalion and two L.T.M.'s of the 188 the L.T.M. Battalion. The Battalion assembled in sunken road and it was decided to attack with B. and D. Coys in front, C. Coy in support and A. Coy in reserve. B. Coy on right and D. Coy on left. The Battalion left the sunken road at 11:45 to commence the advance.
At 15:30 the M.G's in village retired and the first objective was taken and posts established 150 yards in front. At 16:30 the whole line advanced and captured VILLERS ST CHISLAIN by 19:30 encountering little opposition. One field gun firing at point blank range and one M.G. gave trouble but were driven off. Posts were put out about 150 yards on far side of village. No troops were on either flank. The Battalion was relieved by the First Royal Marines at 15:30 and proceeded to billets in the village.

Casualties: Officers: 4 killed, 1 wounded. O.R's: 6 killed, 63 wounded"

Harold was wounded in the action and died of his wounds in the 148th Royal Navy Field Ambulance the following day. He was buried in the Communal Cemetery at the nearby village of Nouvelles.


The aftermath ... and questions

Nouvelles Communal Cemetery

War graves at Nouvelles (12)

Nouvelles is a village about 8 kilometres south of Mons. The Nouvelles Communal Cemetery contains just nine war graves arranged in a small plot to the side of the main path. There is a single headstone commemorating an officer at the front and then two rows of four commemorating other ranks behind. Closer inspection reveals an intriguing pattern. The officer and the men in the first row were killed in the action around Mons at the beginning of the war in August 1914. The men in the rear row died in the action on the last day of the war on November 11th 1918. Curiously too, in the rear row lies an Englishman, a Scot, a Welshman and an Irishman. What has been noted to be "so tragic is that in the space between these two rows are four years and the deaths of nearly one million British soldiers" (13).

The two headstones on the left of the rear row are marked with an anchor commemorating Harold Walpole and his fallen comrade, Able Seaman D Battes of Dundee, of the Anson Battalion. However, of the ten officers and men from the Anson Battalion killed in action on November 10th 1918, eight are buried at the St Roch Communal Cemetery, Valenciennes, about 35 kilometres to the west on Mons. Two others, originally believed to have been buried at Spiennes, adjacent to the Mons to Givry road, were reburied in the Tournai Communal Cemetery Allied Extension, about 50 kilometres to the north west (10) shortly after the end of hostilities. It is also on record that the first grave is of Captain Walter Dawes, 1st Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment who was killed on August 24th 1914. A regimental database of officers reported him buried in trenches south east of Ciply (just to the west of Nouvelles) in an unmarked grave (14).

Is this juxtaposition a coincidence or was it planned as a symbolic memorial to these tragic events? If so, who planned it? Our researches have not produced an answer

Footnote

We must also record and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of three other Moores of Geddington. To date our researches have failed to link this branch to our line but through seventy years of census returns the two families were living as near neighbours in the village. We suspect that Henry Moore's father, William (born about 1808) and William Moore's father, Samuel (born about 1813) were either brothers or first cousins.

Alfred, the youngest son of Henry and Eleanor Moore, was born in 1885 and initially worked in the village as a plumber. He joined the Army in 1905 and was stationed in the West Indies at the outbreak of war. He saw service in France with the Lincolnshire Regiment (7085) and died of wounds on April 17th 1918. He is buried at the Haringne Military Cemetery in Belgium. He was posthumously awarded the 1914 (Mons) Star in August 1919.

Sydney George, the son of Harry and Mary Jane Moore (and grandson of Henry and Eleanor), was born in 1898. He joined the 8th/6th battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment (17643) in March 1915 and transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery Regiment. He was killed in action on February 17th 1917 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. His older brother, Leonard Stanley, enlisted in 1914 and served throughout the war with the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Rifle Brigade ultimately being discharged in February 1919.


Glossary

Class Z Reserve (15): Authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty, and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities. Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve "for the duration", were at first posted to Class Z. They returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon. The Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Silver War Badge and King's Regulations (16): The Silver War Badge was issued in the United Kingdom to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness during World War I. Reasons were covered in the 29 sections of the King's Regulations for Discharge. Section XVIa states: "Surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service)".

From the Summary of Operations document:
M.G.: Machine Gun
L.T.M.: Light Trench Mortar


Acknowledgments

This article includes extracts from the book "Geddington: A Village at War" compiled and edited by M.L. Hopkins. Our thanks to Keith Bellamy for the photographs of the Geddington War Memorial, inscriptions and St Paul window and for permission to use elements of his Pictorial Walk around the village.


References

1. Freeware Graphics: Vintage Kin Design Studio Australia
2. Photographs of Geddington village in: Pictorial Walks: Geddington, Northants by Keith Bellamy. Reproduced with permission
3. John Wilfred Walpole (201993) Announcement of award of Military Medal: Supplement to the London Gazette Issue 30188 page 7286 Published July 18th 1917
4. Charles H Walpole (16599) Announcement of award of Military Medal: Supplement to the London Gazette Issue 31469 page 9378 Published July 23rd 1919
5. The Military Medal: image courtesy of Sarah Jane Medals
6. The Royal Naval Division: Research: The Royal Naval Museum
7. The Royal Naval Division by Iain Kerr in The Great War Archives Rootsweb
8. RND Recruitment poster: wikipedia: Reproduced under licence from the Wikimedia Commons file repository
9. Historical Map of The Western Front (Northern France and Belgium) 1918: Courtesy of the United States Military Academy Department of History Emerson Kent.com History for the Relaxed Historian
10. The Last Days of the War: wikipedia
11. Summary of Operations: The Anson Battalion The Campaign for War Grave Commemorations
12. Photograph of WWI grave plot, Nouvelles Cemetery in: Traces of a War Pictures of cemeteries and churchyards visited cycling through the battlefields of World War I in Belgium and Northern France by Pieter van Elteren. Reproduced with permission
13. "The Last Day Of The War": narrated by Michael Palin BBC TV. Timewatch
14. Captain Walter Dawes: discussion thread. The Great War Forum
15. Reserves and reservists The Long, Long Trail The British Army of 1914-1918 for Family Historians.
16. The Silver War Badge (and King's Regulations for Discharge) Wikipeda.



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