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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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

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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

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First World War Women of Norfolk: On Active Service – an exhibition in Norwich

First World War Women of Norfolk: On Active Service Exhibition

Girl Land workers in the snow at Thetford , Norfolk
19 January 1918

The Forum, Norwich, is launching a new exhibition celebrating the remarkable effort made by women across Norfolk on active service during the First World War.

Running from Saturday 4 November to Sunday 19 November in The Forum Gallery and the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, the free exhibition brings their stories to life. Continue reading

Henry Rider Haggard and the Imperial War

Henry Rider Haggard and the Imperial War

This post was only possible with the energetic assistance of the Secretary of the Rider Haggard Society and the enthusiastic support of its members, and with the advice of the Curator of the Bungay Museum. Any inaccuracies in what follows are the fault of this writer, a long-time admirer of Rider Haggard’s novels, but a recent acquaintance with his life. www.riderhaggardsociety.org.uk/

Henry Rider Haggard was a Norfolk countryman by birth and inclination: born on 22 June 1856, his father was the squire of Bradenham near Swaffham and his mother a literary and romantic woman who had grown up in India. He was their eighth child, and thought rather unpromising by his father. Yet, on his departure for Africa in July 1875 at the age of twenty-one, his mother, Ella, wrote these beautiful lines to her son:

That Life is granted, not in Pleasure’s round,

Or even Love’s sweet dream, to lapse content:

Duty and Faith are words of solemn sound,

And to their echoes must thy soul be bent. …

 

So, go thy way, my Child! I love thee well:

How well, no heart but mother’s heat may know –

Yet One loves better, – more than words can tell, –

Then trust Him, now and evermore; – and go!   H. Rider Haggard, The Days of My Life, 1912

For much of his life, after returning from Africa in 1881, he lived at Ditchingham House on the Norfolk side of the River Waveney, close to Bungay.

Ditchingham is a distinctly cosy Norfolk village, small and picturesque. Ditchingham House is a typical Norfolk home. It stands in the midst of a perfect shelter provided by the surrounding elms and beeches, for the winds which come across from the glorious valley of the Waveney, and over the Bath Hills, or the Earl’s Vineyard as it was once called – one of the prettiest hillsides in this part of Norfolk – are keen and cutting, and blow hard o’ nights. Here Mr. Rider Haggard – barrister, justice of the peace, farmer and novelist – lives.    Source: Illustrated Interview, Mr H. Rider Haggard, The Strand Magazine, 1892

Ditchingham House pictured in a postcard c.1920
Source: collection of the writer

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Remembering Wilfred George Lake

The team from Wood Norton have shared some more research with us about a man appearing on their war memorial but while they’ve found out lots about Wilfred George Lake if anyone help tell the stories of his siblings it would be wonderful.

WILFRED GEORGE LAKE

Wilfred George Lake was the youngest son of William and Mary Ann Lake, born in Wood Norton and baptised on the 12th April 1896 at All Saints, Wood Norton (see Figure 1).[1]

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