HoC - Research Exhibits - Commemorative Booklet - 1916
This was the year when the grinding battles of attrition on the Western Front began. From 1 July onwards the various Battles of the Somme took place and the Heroes of Chiswick played their part in many of these battles. Several of the men were lost on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone. Of one we know very little: all we know of John Paterson Malcolm is that he was a rifleman in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, died at Gommecourt and is commemorated in the Commonwealth War Graves.
Geoffrey Damarel Gidley (b. 1896 d. 30 May 1916)
Geoffrey Damarel Gidley was the son of George Gidley, a tailor, and Annie Maud Gidley (nee Sharp). By 1913, Geoffrey, then 16, was living with his family at 10 Burnaby Gardens, having moved from Shepherd’s Bush. George Gidley was a sidesman at St Michael’s.
Geoffrey enlisted with Queen Victoria’s Rifles (QVR) in September 1914 and rose to the rank of Corporal. He entered France on 17 August 1915, but owing to his skill in training men was kept at base until about a week before his death. In fact he had only been in the firing line a few hours when a shell struck his rough dug-out, injuring him very severely. He was able to be moved to a clearing station, but died of his wounds the same day.
Geoffrey is buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No 1.
Philip Walpole Coverly (b 1884 d. 14 June 1916)
Philip Coverley was born in Nordelph, Norfolk where his father, Samuel, was Curate . Philip was one of nine children.
Philip was in Quebec in September 1914 and enlisted in the 8th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, giving his parents’ address - 19 Harvard Road, Chiswick - and his occupation as an Accountant.
According to the Enlistment papers, Philip was 5’ 8 ½” tall, with black hair, hazel eyes and a dark complexion. He was of slight build and had a faint scar above his right eye.
He joined the 8th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) as a Lance Corporal and was killed on 14th June 1916. His cause of death was unknown and he is commemorated at the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial , Belgium. The Gate bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defence of Ypres Salient.
Herman Morton Valentin Curths (b. 1895 d. 1 July 1916)
Herman Curths was the son of Joachim Valentin Curths, Master Mariner, and Mary Ellen (nee Morton) and was baptised at St Mary’s Church, Stamford Brook.. Herman’s paternal grandfather came from Hamburg, Germany.
By 1901, the family were living at 43 St Mary’s Grove, Chiswick. Herman attended Gunnersbury School (see the commemorative window in St. Michael’s Lady Chapel) and Latymer Upper School before becoming a Clerk with the Caledonian Insurance Company. Latymer Upper School’s magazine, October 1914, records his enlistment in 9th Battalion, County of London Regiment.
St Michael’s Parish Magazines for April and May 1915, contain extracts of seven letters written home covering Herman’s experiences in France and a list of things which readers might usefully send combatants. Herman was among those who fell during the diversionary attack on Gommecourt on the dreadful first day of the Somme, July 1st 1916. Herman was listed as missing until June 1917. He is commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial for the missing and on the Latymer School War Memorial.
Frank Maurice Coombs (b. 1896 d. 1 July 1916)
and Leslie Howard Coombs (b.1890 d. 12 July 1916)
Frank and Leslie Coombs were born at Dulwich, London. They were two of four sons born to Charles and Louisa Coombs.
In May 1911, the Coombs moved to 13 Burnaby Gardens. Frank and Leslie were amongst the first to join up and appeared in the first “On Service” list in St Michael’s Church September/October 1914 Parish Magazine. Frank joined the London Rifles (5th London Regiment) and Howard the Stockbrokers Battalion (10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers). Both were casualties at the Somme in July 1916.
As recorded in the Parish Magazine for September/October 1916, the family received news on Monday 17th July that Leslie had died of wounds on 12th July. The 10th Battalion had ‘lost considerably’ from heavy shelling when in reserve in the region of Pozieres on 11 July and La Boiselle on the 12th.
There was concern for Leslie’s brother Frank who was with the London Rifle Brigade as part of the 56th (1st London) Division that took part in the assault at Gommecourt. By the end of 1st July, casualties in the London Rifle Brigade were 58%. Frank was initially listed as missing. However as the September/October edition of the Parish Magazine went to press, news reached the family that he also was presumed killed in action.
Ralph, younger of the two surviving sons, married Flora the eldest child of St Michael’s first vicar, Rev L McNeill Shelford. Through this project, .contact was made with Sallie, their daughter, and In February 2014, she visited Chiswick for the first time in 65 years.
Richard Arnold Sully (b. 1894 d. July 1st 1916)
Richard was the son of Gilbert Barrows Sully (b. 1869) and Lillian Elizabeth Sully (b.1871). In 1911, the family lived at 57 St. Mary's Grove, Chiswick, and Gilbert and Richard worked together as a father & son team at their architectural design studio.
Richard enlisted in the army on August 10th 1914, and within three months, headed to the front with the Kensington Rifles, 13th Battalion.
On the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, Richard’s Battalion formed part of the attack on the hamlet of Gommecourt – a diversionary tactic, to the North of the main offensive. Richard’s platoon came under heavy shell fire, and 3 of their soldiers, including Richard, were killed. Richard had reached his 22nd birthday on June 6th and had recently recovered from a bout of trench fever in hospital.
2nd Lieutenant Ivor (Jerry) Pogose (b. 1895 d. 2 July 1916)
In 1906 Ivor Pogose started at Arlington College in Chiswick and met his lifelong friend, Frederick Howard. They both became regular communicants at St. Michael’s. Ivor left the College in 1911 and worked as a railway clerk. When War broke out he joined the Kings Royal Rifles and was soon awarded a commission, helped by a character reference from his old headmaster.
At 11pm on 30 June 1916, Ivor lead an important patrol out into No Man’s Land to help prepare for an attack on the German trenches at Gommecourt. He returned with the news that the German wire had been cut enough for the attack to go ahead. Sadly, Ivor Pogose did not survive the attack he had helped to prepare. He was wounded and died the next day. Frederick Howard’s family elected that Ivor’s name be included in the St Michael’s Roll of Honour.
Frank William Keen (b. 1892 d. 28 July 1916)
Frank William Keen was born in Hammersmith, the son of Albert and Ellen Keen (nee Radford). By the time of the 1911 census, the family were living at the grocer’s shop at 1 Gordon Road, Chiswick, (A Keen, High Class Grocery & Provision Store), and Frank was working as a “dentist mechanic apprentice”.
Frank was a Sergeant in the 22nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, and sailed for France on 15 November 1915.
Sgt Keen was killed in action on 28 July 1916. The Chiswick Times reports his death as part of “the great push” (the phrase then used to describe the Somme offensive), and says he met an instantaneous death by the bursting of a shell. The date of Sgt Keen’s death suggests that he died at Delville Wood, a scene of very heavy fighting which earned itself the nickname “Devil’s Wood”. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Firman Gordon Carter (b. 1896 d. 2 October 1916)
Firman was born in a small village called Kimbolton neasr Cambridge. He came to Chiswick in 1914 lodging with his uncle Edwin at 43 Park Rd. He joined up at the beginning of the war at the recruiting office in Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith and was inducted into the 10th Middlesex Regiment.
In September 1916, his unit was transferred to the Somme area, and played a decisive role in the famous battle of High Wood. Firman survived this battle but a few days later, on the 1st October, his unit was ordered to attack the Butte de Warlencourt, a few miles away but the results were disastrous: in the words of the official regimental history:
“From across the valley the enemy had magnificent observation
of the ground leading to our objective, and made full use of it.
not a man turned back….., but they were not seen again.”
His cousin, Henry Gordon Carter, was killed on 19 August 1915 in the Gallipoli campaign and also appears on the Roll of Honour. Both men are commemorated in a window in Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, Firman’s home village. The “Raphael” window in the Lady Chapel at St Michael’s is in memory of Henry Carter.