Remembering Thomas Walter Doughty

With many thanks to the Wood Norton Remembers project for this post. As ever if you or your local history group has any research to share please do get in touch.

 Thomas Walter Doughty was born in 1892, the son of Thomas George and Anna Maria Doughty.  He was baptised on the 24th January 1892 in Wood Norton parish church.[1] (see Figure 1).


Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Wood Norton, 1892

Whilst the British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 do not appear to have survived for Thomas, there are some extant records that indicate that he served in two branches of the military – as a driver in the Army Service Corps (later the Royal Army Service Corps), and as a rifleman in the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles (see Figure 2).  Thomas was serving with the Royal Irish Rifles when he was killed during the First Battles of the Somme in 1918.

Figure 2: Medal Roll Index Card for Thomas Walter Doughty, showing that he served in the ASC and the Royal Irish Rifles

The Royal Irish Rifles war diary[2] for March 1918 records that they were at Essigny, in northern France.  They had been involved in heavy bombardment at the beginning of the month which was followed by a quieter period with training.  The 17th March, St Patrick’s Day, was

… observed as a holiday.  1st and 2nd Battalions united at Mass by Revd. F. Gill D.S.O, M.C.; first time since 1854.  Football match in morning. 1st Battn. 2 goals. 2nd Bn. 1 goal. … Battalion sports in afternoon.

On the 20th March the men were working on the trenches in the Battle Zone and at Artemps.  The Battle HQ moved from the village to Battle Dugouts in the Quarries, as a German offensive was expected to start the next morning, according to information received from prisoners.  The offensive came at around 04.30am on the morning of the 21st March 1918, when the Germans launched operation Michael, with heavy bombardment near Saint-Quentin.  The aim was to confront what was perceived as a weakened British Expeditionary Force (BEF); outflank it, attack the lines of communication and cut off the supply lines from the channel ports, thus defeating the British and forcing a French armistice.[3]

On the 24th March, the Battalion was at Beaumont en Beine, and marched to Montelimont on Cugny-Villerselve Road and dug in.  A general engagement opened up and reinforcements approaching from the rear were badly shelled.  At 3.30pm the Battalion was practically surrounded and had to retire on Villerselve, where a defensive position north and west of the village was taken up.  The 9th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were seen to counter-attack, the enemy now approaching rapidly in large numbers.  On the 26th March further fighting took place at Erches, where the enemy approached the village, securing posts by the use of French uniforms whilst using the white flag to distract our soldiers, until it became necessary to warn our soldiers to fire on all fronts.  Fighting continued on and off until the end of March.  The war diary records that the Battalion covered 168.7 kilometres during the month, and that

During these operations the following casualties occurred: 31 O.R. killed, 248 wounded, 155 missing. 9 wounded and missing – a total of 439.

Following the fighting in March, Thomas’s parents presumably received a communication with the dreadful news that their son was missing in action.  They wrote to the Red Cross (as many families of missing soldiers did) to seek help in locating their son, and the index card for Thomas survives in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) records (see Figure 3).[4]

Figure 3: International Red Cross index card for Thomas Walter Doughty

The card records the date Thomas went missing, his regimental details, and his parents’ address.  It is stamped 14 AOUT 1918 (14th August 1918) on the reverse.  The enquiries made by the Red Cross are listed on the card (in August, September, October and November 1918), but each came with the response ‘Négatif envoyé’ – the soldier was not registered as a prisoner, so there was, therefore, a negative response.  The final communication with Thomas’s family was on the 27th February 1919 – ‘ne plus comm. prisonniers Rap’ (which may mean that there had been no further information received from repatriated prisoners).

Thomas, had, in fact, been killed in March 1918, and his Record of Soldiers Effects drawn up in September 1919 records ‘Death accepted 24.3.18’.[5]  An amount of £39 13s 2d was paid to his father, Thomas George Doughty in March 1920, which included a War Gratuity of £18.

The Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Burial Return dated 3rd November 1919 records that Thomas’s body was interred in Bouchoir New British Cemetery (see Figure 4).[6]  The Burial Return lists individuals who have been recovered or exhumed from their original burial location and moved to a particular cemetery.  The return includes the original trench map grid reference, and indicates that Thomas had been buried in an unmarked grave; five out of the six men recorded on this return having been recovered from the same location.  Thomas’s body was identified by his identity disc, Army Service Corps badge and Royal Irish Rifles numerals. The body was recovered from trench map grid reference 66E Q4b 90.15, near Erches, where the Battalion had been involved in fighting on the 26th March 1918 (which possibly might indicate that although Thomas’s death was recorded as being on the 24th March 1918, he may have died two days later).

Figure 4: CWGC Burial Return, November 1919

Figure 5: Thomas Walter Doughty, Bouchoir New British Cemetery (reproduced by kind permission of The War Graves Photographic Project)

Further research into Thomas’s family reveals that his father, Thomas George Doughty was born in 1870 in Wood Norton, the son of Thomas and Martha Doughty.[7]  He married Anna Maria Waterson on the 9th January 1892 in Wood Norton parish church.[8]  In the 1911 census for Wood Norton, Thomas George is recorded as aged 40 and a farm labourer.  He died in 1943, aged 72, and is buried in Wood Norton – the Burial register notes that he was living in the Council Houses (in Church Road) at the time of his death.  Anna Maria Waterson was born on the 27th February 1874 and baptised on the 12th August 1877 in Stibbard parish church, the daughter of Mary Waterson.[9]  She died in 1945, aged 72, and is buried in Wood Norton.

The 1911 census reveals that of Thomas George and Anna Maria’s seven children, five had survived:

Name Born  Died
Thomas Walter 1892, in Wood Norton.

In the 1911 census, Thomas is aged 19, and a farm labourer.

24 March 1918; France, the Somme.
Rosalie Mabel 1897, in Wood Norton (baptised 2nd May 1897).[10]

In the 1911 census, Rosalie is aged 14, and at school.

Bessie Edith 1899, in Wood Norton (baptised 21st March 1900).[11]

In the 1911 census, Bessie is aged 12, and at school.

Bessie married Edgar Reynolds in 1924, and died in 1980, aged 80.[12]
Harold Charles 1902, in Wood Norton.[13]

In the 1911 census, Harold is aged 9, and at school.

1933, aged 31.  Harold is buried in Wood Norton.  The burial register transcript records that he was buried by Coroners Order following a fatal accident, and that he was living at 1 Council Houses.
Hilda Grace 1910, Wood Norton.[14]

In the 1911 census, Hilda is 10 months old.

Hilda married Thomas William Taylor on the 2nd April 1938, in Wood Norton.  She died in 1987, aged 76, and is buried in Wood Norton. The burial register transcript records she was living at 1 Council Houses.

 

We have been fortunate to be able to contact Thomas Doughty’s family, and they have kindly provided us with a photograph of his memorial plaque (see Figure 6).

Figure 6: Thomas Walter Doughty’s Memorial Plaque (reproduced by kind permission of the Doughty family)

[1] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1892, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.75 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1892 (www.familysearch.org)

[2] 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles war diary for March 1918 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[3]  Royal Irish website: Battle Honour St Quentin – German Spring Offensive 1918 (www.royal-irish.com/events/battle-honour-st-quentin-german-spring-offensive-1918); Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Michael)

[4] ICRC 1914-1918: Prisoners of the First World War ICRC Historical Archives (https://grandeguerre.icrc.org)

[5] Record of Soldier’s Effects (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[6] CWGC Concentration of Graves (Exhumation and Reburials) – Burial Return for T.W. Doughty  (www.cwgc.org)

[7] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1870, Aylsham Vol.4b, p.81 (www.free.bmd.org); 1871 Census, Wood Norton (p39) (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[8] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1892, Aylsham B Vol.4b, p.143 (www.freebmd.org); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages 1892 (p.97).

[9] Baptism Register, Stibbard, 1877 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[10] FreeBMD, Quarter to June 1897, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.80 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1897 (www.familysearch.org)

[11] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1899, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.92 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1900 (www.familysearch.org)

[12] FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1925, Mitford, Vol.4b, p.694 (www.freebmd.org); Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, Quarter to March 1980, Norwich Vol.10, p.1831 (www.ancestry.co.uk)

[13] FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1902, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.82 (www.freebmd.org)

[14] FreeBMD, Quarter to September 1910, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.71 (www.freebmd.org); Baptism Register, Wood Norton, 1900 (www.familysearch.org)

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Images from the archives – just published!

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Burnham Market, a First World War wedding group from Lynn Museum’s collections

If you visit http://www.picture.norfolk.gov.uk and put ‘world war 1‘ into the search box, you will now find nearly 2,000 images relating to Norfolk’s part in the First World War. Many of these have just been published and come from museums, libraries and the Norfolk Record Office’s collections. They include everything from personal images like the wedding group above, to records of people on active service, war hospitals and nursing, memorials and soldier portraits. Find also images of Home Front posters and notices, fundraising campaigns, army recruitment and people working in industry and agriculture to support the war effort.

Cambrai 100: Remembering George Burlingham

Unlike Nicholas Robert Colman, who’s Cambrai story we published earlier today to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, this story has a more positive ending and we thank Dave Cole for sharing his great-grandfather’s story with us. As ever if any of our readers can add more to the story then we’d love to hear about it.

George Burlingham

Dave writes:

my research began with the interest of my daughter in our family history. A part of that history was those men who served in WW1, based on a handful of photographs, and in the case of George Burlingham, a very small collection of papers relating to his Military service – most of which are pictured in the blog. The blog itself came about due to the desire to share the stories of those men with the wider family around the world, and a blog seemed the most concise way of preserving the story and memory in electronic shareable form.

Divisional Acknowledgement from Major-General Arthur B Scott

Continue reading

Cambrai 100: Remembering Nicholas Robert Colman

NICHOLAS ROBERT COLMAN

Nicholas Robert Colman was born on the 30th September 1897, and baptised on the 18th January 1898 in Gunthorpe parish church, the son of Daniel and Catherine Colman.[1]

Figure 1: From the Baptisms Register, Gunthorpe, 1898

Continue reading

Brock Family Letters – September – October 1917

George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock

Sept 9th 1917

Dear Charles,

Just a line to let you know I am across the channel and my address is 140238 Pte G E Brock, Norfolk Regiment, I.B.D., A.P.O., France.  We are having a good time and all the third line Yeomanry are out this time.  So it is much better than coming out with strangers.

I have been wondering how you are getting on and how do you like your job.  No doubt you have plenty of work to do and I should like to see you but of course I don’t know where you are at all.  The people seem very strange about here and I can’t make them out at all.  And I find you have to keep your eyes open when you are buying anything down here and this morning I bought some pears and apples and afterwards I found they were about two for sixpence.

I hope you are quite well and remember me to Milly when you write.

From

George


George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock

Sept 11th 1917

Dear Charles,

Just to let you know that I am in a new regiment.  My new number is 33695, 8th Yorks and Lancs so don’t write till you hear from me.

I am feeling fit and well and don’t mind being on foot after cavalry although everything seems strange and new.

Hoping you are quite well.

From your brother

George


George Edward Brock to Kate Maud Brock

Oct 3rd 1917

Dear Kate,

Thanks very much for your letter and it is jolly good of you to write because it cheers one so to hear from home and I feel rather lonely but now I am getting used to it.

I am glad to hear you are getting on alright and what do you think this morning I received a letter from Jimmy Muirhead so it shows I am not forgotten.

We are having some fine weather at present so it is one consolation and I hope it will keep on because it makes such a difference to us.

I don’t know what to write about only I am quite well and one thing I hope and that is to be back again soon so goodbye sis.  I hope you are quite well and glad to hear you are getting on alright at Dereham.

From

George

Please excuse dirty envelope.


George Edward Brock to Charles Edward Brock

Oct 4th 1917

Dear Charles,

Just to let you know I am quite well and we are just having a rest and sorry I could not answer your letter because I lost the address.

We are having some fine weather at present and glad to say we are in comfortable quarters now and of course you don’t know I am in a different regiment.  Well my new address is 33695 Pte G E B, No 5 Platoon, B Company, 8 York and Lancs, B E F, France.

The boys seemed very strange at first but I soon got used them and they are all jolly good fellows and I like them very much.

I had a letter from home to day and dad has got the steam plough for the land and J H G has let two of his men help so it is a good job for him.

You would laugh if you saw me now marching about in shorts like some boy scout and my knees felt very cold for the first week or two but I have got used to them by now and they are much better for marching.

I suppose you have plenty of work to do now and I wondered if you came across Mr. Wrench since you have been out because I wish you would remember me to him.

I don’t know what else to write about so remember me to Milly and the boy and I hope you are quite well.

From yours

sincerely George


Gertrude Rebecca Page (née Brock) to Charles Edward Brock

Keswick Mills

Norwich

Oct 21st 17

My dear Charles,

Have some sad news to tell you, poor old George was killed on the 13th Oct.  It’s a terrible blow to us all and am sure you will feel it too. I felt I must write and tell you, but I hardly know what to say nor how to write it as my heart so full.

We were very glad to have such a nice letter from you and wish it would soon be over so you could come home.

Alfred has been in bed for a week, he’s been queer.  I wish they would discharge him but no such luck, he’s gone down to C2.

We are having a nice spell of weather again now.

Mother and Dad are very much distressed and Dad didn’t want this just now, however we have to bear it and thousands have to do the same and will have to yet I am afraid.

Love from all at home.

Your affectionate sister Gert


A.P.O. =  Army Post Office

B.E.F.  =  British Expeditionary Force

I.B.D.  =  Infantry Base Depot

 

A Family in the First World War – The Brocks

Two of Henry Benjamin and Sarah Christiana Brock’s sons fought in the First World War: Charles Edward and George Edward.  Charles was born on 27th April 1891 and George on 16th August 1898.

Charles

Charles served as a private in the Army Veterinary Corps in France.  He was based in Subsection A, No. 12 Veterinary Hospital.  Whilst in France he received a telegram on 31st May 1917 saying that his son (Geoffrey Charles) had been born and both mother and child were doing well.

George

George joined the 3/1 (Third Line) Norfolk Yeomanry on 2nd December 1915.  In September 1917 he crossed the channel to France.  Within a few days of arriving he was transferred to No. 5 Platoon, B Company, 8th Battalion of the York & Lancaster Regiment (a move from cavalry to infantry).

His regiment (along with other British, Australian and New Zealand troops) took part in the First Battle of Passchendaele (in Flanders, Belgium) on 12th October 1917.  George was one of hundreds who lost their lives that day; he was listed as missing, killed in action.  He was 19.

His name appears on the Memorial to the Missing at Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres) in Flanders.  His name also appears on war memorials at Keswick Church and Sprowston.

Both Charles and George were awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Victory Medal

British War Medal