Leonard Carr

25999, Lance Corporal
7th Bn, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s)
Who died aged 38 on 7th June 1917
Buried in the Lagnicourt Hedge Cemetery, France

Family Background
Of all the families that lost men in the First World War, Leonard Carr’s family has the longest documented association with Bergh Apton.   In church records the Carrs first appear with the baptism of Mary in July 1790 after which there were six baptisms, five marriages and six burials up to the time of the burial of Leonard Carr’s maternal Grandfather James Puxley Crowe in September 1901.

Bussey Bridge Farm in the 1901 Census, home to Leonard Carr who was living with his grandfather James Pucley Crowe

His parents were Rockland St Mary-born Arthur Carr and Bergh Apton-born Mary Crowe.  He married Elizabeth Sophia Fooks (of whom see more below) in 1901.

Military Service
Leonard Carr’s military records are not available (they may well have been lost in a fire during WW2) but his Army No indicates that he volunteered for service in October/November 1915 and was called up in 1916.

The published history of the 7th Bn S.L.I “Forged by Fire” (Brendan Moorhouse, ISBN 1862271917) tells us that a draft of 140 men joined the battalion on 13th October of that year and we think he will have been amongst that number.

On 21st May 1917 the battalion moved to Favreuil, near Bapaume, having been held in reserve in Havrincourt Wood, some 10 miles south east of Favreuil.  At first they were held back but then sent to support trenches immediately behind the Front Line.  On 28th May they moved into the Front Line.

Things were relatively quiet at that time but on 7th June the battalion lost seven men to either sniper fire (three men) or shelling (four men).  Moorhouse’s book names all of them, and includes Leonard Edward Carr.

All seven are buried in one row of the small Lagnicourt Hedge Cemetery in Lagnicourt Marcel, only a few miles from where Ernest Leeder of Valley Farm on Welbeck Road (q.v.) had been killed less than two months earlier.

More about the Family
We established that Leonard’s father Arthur, a Master Mariner, had died by the time of the 1881 Census at which time Leonard and his widowed mother Mary were living with her parents-in-law in Great Yarmouth.  From Bergh Apton church burial records we know that Mary died in 1885.

Thereafter Leonard lived with his maternal Crowe grandparents in Bergh Apton.  In 1891 they lived on Sunnyside but by 1901 his grandfather James, now a widower, had moved to Bussey Bridge Farm where Leonard, now 22 years old, worked as a Groom and Teamsman (horseman).

Grandfather James Crowe died in September 1901 and was buried in Bergh Apton churchyard.  That loss seems to have been the trigger for Leonard Carr to quit Bergh Apton because he married Elizabeth Sophia Fooks in Dorset in the October/December Quarter of 1901 and settled there.

We get a glimpse of Leonard and Elizabeth a few months before their marriage in that the 1901 Census for Bergh Apton shows Leonard  living at Bussey Bridge Farm and, only a few hundred yards away (see the 1901 Census above)  a 19 year-old Elizabeth Fookes from Dorset was staying as a visitor with Albert and Margaret Lawn on Sunnyside.  That goes some way to confirming a comment in a Fookes family website that they met when she was  living on Sunnyside.

Bussey Bridge and Sunnyside in Bergh Apton as they were at the time Leonard Carr lived there. The distance between the farm and Albert Lawn’s house (just to the left of “Sunnyside” is less than a quarter of a mile.

They had three children; in 1903 and 1904 the boys Leonard James and Walter Leopold were born in Ditcheat in Somerset and daughter Dorothy Eileen was born on Burcott in Somerset in 1908.

Their son Leonard married Mabel Annie Kerley in 1928 and we believe that they had a daughter Barbara (born 1928) and a son Cyril L J Carr (born 1941) but we don’t know if they are still alive.  Dorothy had a daughter but we have yet to find further details.

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.