I was still curious as to the location of casualties from RAF Tilstock and so I moved on to the village of Tilstock and in particular Christ Church Churchyard and the Churchyard extension which lies around 100 yards from the Church on the opposite side of the road.
The Church itself is very nice but of a somewhat different style to that of St. Chad's in Prees. It provides a place of Eternal rest for over 40 men who died during the Great War. The first few shots are just general views of the Church, the view to the west of the Church, the Lych gate at the entrance of the Churchyard Extension which was opened in 1917 because of the number of casualties and of the War Memorial located in the extension.
I found that a number of the graves were of Airman, English, Australian, Canadian and South African. A few are pictured below with the information that a few minutes on the internet can reveal.
2nd Lieutenant J F Kneale, Royal Flying Corps. 21st December 1917.
Compare that with the next one.....
2nd Lieutenant Reginald James Thomas Forsyth, Pilot, Australian Flying Corps. 16th February 1918. Died of Wounds. Son of John Lile Lewis Forsyth and Elizabeth Christina Forsyth. 2nd Lieutenant Forsyth originally served with the 1st Light Horse Regiment and came to the Middle East with the 7th Reinforcements, embarking upon HMAT Marere on the 16th August 1915. Was wounded while with this unit on 4th August 1916. After transfer to the AFC, 2nd Lieutenant Forsyth was injured in a flying accident on the 20th January 1918 and admitted to Prees Heath Military Hospital. Sustaining serious head injuries and a fractured ankle, he never fully regained consciousness and died on the 16th of February as a result of his injuries.
Just look at the difference in what is available. It seems that both Australia and Canada are far more adept at putting people in touch with the information they require at no cost. While the NA at Kew is a remarkable resource, the facility for downloading information through the internet lags way behind both Australia and Canada.
29412 Air Mechanic 1st Class C R Clack, 131 Squadron, Royal Air Force. 5th May 1918.
2nd Lieutenant Gabriel Pieter Cilliers, No 13 Training Depot Station, Royal Air Force. 10th November 1918.
Lieutenant William Burt Bickell, 13th Training Depot Station, Royal Air Force. 12th October 1918, aged 25. Son of Mrs. M J Hancock of Toronto, Canada. Lieutenant Bickell died of injuries received in a flying accident while serving as an instructor. His Brother, 157358 Private George Thomas Bickell was killed in action on the 30th of October 1917 while serving with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light infantry. He is interred at Tyne Cot and is also commemorated here at Tilstock.
1397 Gunner Walter Harrel Herford, 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. 4th October 1917, aged 49. Died of sickness. Son of Charles James and Mary Jane Herford. Gunner Herford was a farmer from Katanning, Western Australia and enlisted on the 13th August 1915. He embarked at Fremantle on HMAT Benalla on 1st November 1915 for transportation to the UK.
2nd Lieutenant Edward Phillip Hughes, Royal Flying Corps. 27th July 1917, aged 24. Son of Edward James and Louise Ada Hughes of Cape Province, South Africa.
959 Cadet Edward Jabez Cooper Treadwell, 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. 20th September 1917, aged 22. Son of Edward Cooper Treadwell and the late Mary Jane Treadwell. His father wrote that he had served in the Australian Citizens Forces as a Lieutenant and was rejected for active service on three occasions owing to foot problems. He was finally accepted into the AFC and embarked on RMS Omrah in Melbourne on 17th January 1917. He died as a result of injuries sustained in a flying accident near Tern Hill.
A number of the other graves relate to those who died while serving with Training Reserve Battalions at Prees Heath. These were units set up specifically to provide reinforcements to their attatched Line Regiments. This process was constantly under review and subject to changes necessitated by the losses on the Western Front. Many of these soldiers were just 18 and in training at the time of their deaths. Others were soldiers recovering from wounds and acting as instructors or were NCO's too old for active service. I suspect several died from wounds received in action and a number of the deaths appear to be in clusters suggesting to me that Influenza may have been responsible.The grave below I found quite interesting.
T/309876 Driver C Spencer, 237th Coy (Prees Heath), Royal Army Service Corps. 31st July, 1917, aged 29. Son of Charles Spencer of 2, Faroe Road, Hammersmith, London. The CWGC entry states that Dvr Spencer served as Anderson. I wonder what the reason was for serving under an alias? Age wasn’t the issue.
Major Guy Winwood Gossage, 3rd West Lancs Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 24th December 1917, aged 47. Husband of Helen Gossage of Wrexham. Helen, who died in 1944, lies with him.
I have photographs of every grave and preliminary details for each soldier should anyone be interested.
The remaining photo's are of a stained glass window at Tilstock, two of the T2 Hangars with the sun going down behind them, one of the Watch Office in the twilight and a random sunset taken from the side of the road about halfway home.
And the casualties from the OTU at Tilstock? I found them, at Whitchurch Cemetery. I feel another visit coming on.
Saturday 10th May.
I hope these posts have met with approval. They combine several of my interests, these being airfield history, Memorialisation in all its forms, Bomber Command and the Great War.