Edward Davey

4691, Private
6th  (Inniskillings) Dragoons
Who died aged 34 on 26th December 1916
Buried in St Riquier British Cemetery, France

Family Background
When Edward Davey enlisted in 1901 he specified Bergh Apton as his residence.  We have no information on where he lived but we know that he was born in Alpington.

We have little information about him other than on his enlistment papers, and a possibility that he was related to the Davey family recorded on the 1901 Census living at Prospect Place in Bergh Apton.

Military Service
Edward Davey, a long-service Cavalryman, enlisted in the army on 2nd December 1901.  His Regiment has the interesting distinction of being that in which Captain Oates served, who died in the Antarctic with Captain Falcon Scott in their unsuccessful 1912 attempt to be first to the South Pole.

Davy is recorded as having died “of burning” without specify the cause.  His Army Effects Record adds the word “accidental” to the cause of death.  There was no record of fighting at the time of his death (was there, perhaps, an understanding on both sides about it being the Christmas season?) so the probability is high that he died as the result of mishap rather than in active warfare.

He was buried in the Fressenville Military Cemetery but his body and those of the other 29 British soldiers in Fresenville were mpved to the small British military section of the communal cemetery of St Riquier, to the north of Rouen.

More Family Background
In his Will, in his Army records, he nominated Mrs Marion Weeding as his sole heir.  We are confident that Mrs Weeding is one and the same person as Marion Clare with whose family Davy was living at the time of the 1891 Census and who married Frederick Weeding in 1904.

We think, further, that Marion’s father Henry Clare was the brother of Isaac Clare (with whom Davy was staying in Overstrand at the time of the 1901 Cenus, and of Davy’s mother.

Thus Marion Clare and Edward Davy were almost certainly first cousins and that accounts for his decision to leave his worldly goods, such as they were, to her.

Alfred Cubitt

15534, Lance Sergeant
9th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment
Who died aged 25 on 26th September 1915
Remembered on the Loos Memorial, France

Family Background
Alfred was the son of Helen Jessie Cubitt and her husband Arthur who, at the time of the 1891 Census, lived on The Street (that then ran from Mill Road crossroads to th Rectory).  He was born there and baptised in Bergh Apton parish church on 10th April 1890.

Military Service
By 1901 the family had moved to Ely and had returned to Arthur Cubitt’s home village of Syderstone by 1911, by which time Alfred was no longer living at home.

Subject to verification with the Royal Norfolk Regiment’s museum team it seems probable that by 1911,  at the age of 21 years, he was already serving with the Norfolk Regiment because, four years later at the time of his death he had attanied the rank of Lance Sergeant.

Alfred’s “Kitchener Army” battalion was mostly untried troops and had been in the Front Line for only one day on 26th September 1915 when, as part of a battle known as “The Big Push” it joined in an attack on some German-held quarries to the north west of Hulluch.

The 9th Norfolks’ objective was the village of Vendin-le-Vieil but the German fire on the advancing Norfolks was so severe that these relatively untried troops could make no progress.

Petre’s “History of the Norfolk Regiment 1914-1918” includes a description of this attack that began at 6.45 am.  It was repulsed by heavy German fire that drove the attackers back to the shelter of old German trenches that offered little cover.  They then retreated even further to British trenches where, nearly 12 hours after the attack began, they were relieved by the Grenadier Guards.

In this failed venture the 9th Norfolks suffered 209 casualties – a fierce baptism in which Alfred was amongst the 73 who died or were missing in action.

More Family Background
Alfred’s father Arthur Cubitt was a Groom/Coachman who, at the time of the 1891 Census, lived close to the Manor House.  In the logical sequence of the Enumerator’s “walk” the family probably lived in the cottage adjacent to the Manor House.

The Manor imn the 1930s, a time when it had changed little since the time the Cubitts lived in Bergh Aptonb

If that is indeed the case he would have worked for Jane Deeker Denny, the Manor’s then owner.

His name is on the memorial wall of the cemetery at Dud Corner, Loos along with those of Bergh Apton boys Harry Mayes and Charles Weddup.  It is also on the memorial at Syderstone in north Norfolk  where his parents were living at the time of his death.

Victor Gillingwater

CH/1473(S) Private
1st Battalion, Royal Marines Light Infantry
Who died aged 20 on 17th February 1917
Buried in the Queen’s Cemetery, Buquoy, France

Family Background

Victor’s father George Gillingwater in middle age

Victor was born in Mundham and was a woodman.  He was the son of George and Mary Gillingwater who, at the time of Victor’s death, lived at Bussey Bridge in Bergh Apton and who are buried together in Bergh Apton’s churchyard.

Young Victor Gillingwater in a studio portrait in the possession of one of his great neices.

His enlistment papers describe him as being 18 years and 5 months old, 5 ft 5.5″ tall (1.66m) with a chest measurement of 35.5″ (0.90m) with brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Military Service
Victor went to London on 22 February 1916 to volunteer for the Royal Marines whose records show that the next Service No allocated – to the next man in the queue fo volunteers – was Victor’s neighbour Alfred Hubert Rope from Holly Farm, Bergh Apton. That cannot, surely, be a concidence and we may safely conclude that they travelled with the purpose of singning on together.

Thereafter they trained together to fight with the Royal Naval Division (RND) that was a fighting force on land made up of Royal Marines.  Victor and Alfred were posted to 1RMLI (1st Battalion Royal Marines Light Infantry).  In their early days of training they even got into disciplinary hot water together on one occasion.  But the togetherness ended with Victor’s death.  Within a few weeks, Alfred was dead too.  Both were killed in battles that have become famous as RMLI endeavours.

We don’t know the background to this rather enigmatic comment by Mundham’s Rector on the endpaper of young Victor Gillingwater’s school Bible.

Victor was killed in the battle of Miraumont on 17th February 1917 in which his battalion set out from River Trench to attack a sunken road that ran north from Baillescourt Farm on the north bank of the River Ancre, close to the village of Grandcourt.  The scene of this action was confused and the losses of 1RMLI were heavy.  Many of the casualties may even have been the result of shots that fell short in the British “creeping barrage” as the Royal Marines advanced from River Trench towards the sunken road (that is still clearly identifiable and walkable today).

Members of a group from Bergh Apton Local History Group on the sunken road at Miraumont in 2008

Immediately following the battle Victor and other fatalities from this action were buried in a small cemetery to the rear of River Trench near Holland Wood (marked on Trench maps as Bois Hollande).  In July 1919, they were re-buried in Queen’s Cemetery at Bucquoy, a few kilometers to the north of Miraumont.

More Familiy Background

Victor’s home in the 1920s with his parents in the garden and as it is today.

We were fortunate in 2008 to make contact with Victor’s family who have a studio portrait of him in uniform.  Other personal items  his parents passed down include a Bible given to him by the headmaster of his school in Mundham and a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress in which he signed his name and the words “Bergh Apton”.

His medals are now in the possession of Chris Johnson of Jays Cottage at Bussey Bridge, the house next door to May Cottage that was Victor’s home his parents and his sisters Florence and Violet.